Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A slice of new parenthood

On Friday my husband came home after a fairly long day at work, "I had a rough day, but I'm not going to let it get me down.  Let's go out."

We usually do a good job of meal planning and budgeting, but everyone needs that spontaneous splurge every now and then.

We pack up the diaper bag and head out to Solana beach.  We're seated at a cutesy little restaurant and the waitress comes over to share the best of the menu.  She notes their restaurant is very family-friendly and a great spot if parents wanted a nice meal where their babies could accompany them.

And of course, Ella breaks down.  This breakdown consisted of screaming, like the blood-curdling type scream that makes everyone in the one-room restaurant shoot a look of annoyance your way.  The waitress continues to stand there uncomfortably waiting for Ella's cries to subside.  She looks as though she's trying to stand by her previous statement.

We try calming Ella down by taking her out of the carseat, each taking turns holding her, and the cries subside for a brief few moments.  We get a rib dinner and more fussiness ensues.  One eats while the other tries to settle her down.  We finish and decide it's best to leave, so we order some coffee and dessert from the restaurant's coffee bar.  In getting out of the booth, my shoe falls off my foot.  I try to play it cool which only makes me look more awkward, but the shoe finally finds its way back on my foot.  I order our dessert and my card is declined.  Confused, Tim tries his and it's declined.


We opt for the credit card as this is our last option.  We manage to get out of the restaurant and think finally we're on our way home.  The drive will surely calm our little restless bundle of joy.  But then Ella starts to scream.  We realize at this point, she's gotten hungry. We were originally expecting to be home before she needed to eat again, but ran into so many curve balls that our plan failed.  We pull over to a church parking lot where Tim rocks the car seat in hopes to soothe her. Minutes and a couple weird looks later, we're back on the road questioning all of the decisions we made that evening.  There are few minutes of quiet.

And then, laughter.

We laughed over how being spontaneous with a child is nearly impossible, we laughed over how ridiculous we looked in the corner of this one-room dimly lit restaurant.  We agreed the slightly over-priced ribs were a good call.

This is what new parenthood is all about.  Embracing the curve balls, learning from mistakes, and thanking God that at the end of the day the person next to you is laughing the day off beside you and is always game to watch an episode of Parks and Rec.

Here's to new parents.  We do our best.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

From birth to parenthood: Part 1

My sweet girl hits the 4 month mark today.  I thought time moved faster as you got older, time moves even faster after you have children.  It's been the most joyous whirlwind.  And I know it's just getting started.

While I was pregnant, I googled and googled everything before giving birth - on parenting, on labor and delivery, etc., etc., etc.  Wanting to know what was in store for me, I read and watched everything I could get my hands on.  A couple friends were so generous to share with me some tips prior to going into labor, so after giving birth and experiencing the first few months as a parent myself, I thought I'd share what I have learned.

In this first post I'm talking about the birth.

(Let's all acknowledge that when talking about childbirth it gets real TMI real quick - there's no way around it.)

Now that that's over.

For the delivery:

I have to say.  I got really worked up over what ended up to be a very smooth, chill process.  We think going into labor and giving birth is going to involve screaming, cussing, and utter chaos.  As this may be the case for some, it was the exact opposite for us.  I ended up choosing to deliver in a small town hospital.  It wasn't the most glam of places, I didn't have mood lighting or anything, but I'm so extremely happy I ended going the route I did.  There was only one other woman in labor so all the nurses on call were relaxed, accommodating, personable, and overly generous.  I say this because giving birth really wasn't as scary as I thought it was going to be.

On to what I learned:

Do your own research.  I labored for about 23 hours before I started pushing.  Most of that time, I was experiencing back labor. I didn't read much about back labor before giving birth, so I wasn't aware that the epidural couldn't take away the pressure the back labor was causing and the pressure was greater than any pain I was feeling.  We can sometimes get ourselves worked up over the "what ifs" but it's good to be informed so we're then able to best handle what comes our way.

Go in with an open mind.  I read a lot about birth plans during my pregnancy.  These days, those things can get pretty detailed.  Going in, it's good to have a plan for things like having immediate skin-skin, but realize everything might not go according to plan.

And that's okay.  Rest assured your baby will enter the world the way your baby was meant to.  If you planned an intervention-free vaginal birth and end up getting an emergency C-section, it's okay.  What matters is that your baby and you are happy and healthy.

Tell your husband how he can best be there for you.  If you took child birthing classes, this is something you've probably already figured out.  Everyone is different when managing pain.  Some people like to talk and be distracted, others prefer to be left in silence, a few like to pace.  I like to be left alone, so I can focus.  During my pre-delivery reading, I read how most women best managed their pain by walking around during contractions.  I was the opposite.  I laid in bed and focused on my breathing every time a contraction came.  In retrospect, I can't even imagine moving around with that kind of pain.  In terms of the dynamic between my husband and me - all I wanted was for Tim to be present - offer a hand if I wanted one, get ice chips if I needed.  Let your husband know how you best deal with pain and what he can do for you.

Remember to thank your husband.  We ladies go through so, so much during labor and childbirth, but we have to remember that it's incredibly difficult to watch someone you love in pain.  A "thank you" or an "I appreciate you getting those ice chips for me" can go a long way.

Think about pictures.  This might be an obvious one, but it was something that I totally forgot about. Tim got a picture of me holding Ella, the nurses got a few of Tim giving Ella her first bath, but I didn't even think about getting one with the 3 of us.  Come on, this is the last Kodak moment you want to forget.

You're stronger than you think you are.  This is the biggest and most important thing I learned.  Waiting to give birth to your first is probably one of the scariest things ever simply because we don't know what exactly is in store for us.  But when it comes time, you'll rise to the challenge and realize you're stronger than you ever thought you were.

You don't need to prove anything by going au naturel.  Epidural, no epidural.  There's quite the debate surrounding this issue.  I did a lot of research in deciding whether I should get an epidural or not.  I read a lot of stories where many women had great experiences in getting epidurals.  I ended up deciding 2 things.  1) I wanted to get half way (5-6 cm dilated) without getting the epidural because I wanted to try to limit how long I was on pain meds for and 2) If I needed rest, I'll get it.  Looking back, I'd say this is a circumstantial issue.  We went to the hospital around 6PM after I had been laboring for 16 hours or so.  I had been eating consistently throughout the day to make sure I'd have energy, so I had a decent amount of energy when I was admitted around 7:00PM or so.  As the contractions got more intense though, I was getting more and more tired.  I needed to be rested to push, so I decided I'd get the epidural around 10/11PM.  I went into active labor close 3AM and Ella was born after about a half hour of pushing.  Be informed, do your research, ask questions, but if you want to get the epidural there is nothing wrong with that decision.

It's going to be okay.  I cannot begin to list everything I read about labor.  As someone who was petrified to go into labor, I can tell you it will be okay.  Do what you can to prepare and then don't worry.

Thank you to those who were so kind to share their experiences with me!  You were the ladies who gave me a little sense of peace.  I hope I'm able to do the same for others.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ella James is baptized

Last week I briefly recapped Ella's baptism.  I promised pictures - here they are!

Our good friend Lauren is a crazy talented photographer, and she was kind enough to bring her camera down for the celebration.  Here are some favorites:

Check out more of Lauren's work here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thai Peanut Chicken with Broccoli

I have quite the love for Thai food.  And I enjoy making Thai dishes from scratch.  Why?  The recipes call for so many fresh ingredients.  A lot of times eating healthy can taste bland.  With Thai cuisine, all these fresh ingredients like ginger root and chopped garlic come together to make those most delicious, flavorful dishes.

This is the latest Thai dish I tried.  And it was so good.

The original recipe can be found here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


This week I haven't been feeling well.  Since Monday, all I've wanted to do is retreat to my bed and not come out from under the covers until this thing, whatever it is, has passed.  And in my old life, I most likely would have done so.  But as life stands today, my time is no longer my own.  Fleeing from my responsibilities for the day is not an option.

And this has really made me think about motherhood in a way I was not capable of before I became a mom myself.

Most of the time we see a mom from the outside looking in.  We see her tend to her children.  We see her running around picking up lone socks, sippy cups, and legos.  We see her run out the door carseat on her arm and diaper bag in hand, children running behind her with dolls and untied shoe laces.  We see her drop her kids off at grandma's so she can get to work on time, but doesn't leave until she's kissed her babies.

Moms come in all shapes and sizes.  Every mom is different.  Every mom is doing the best she can.  For some that's working to put food on the table, for others it's working at home.

Throughout my life, I've been blessed with many mother figures.  Women who have made me home cooked meals, stayed up with me at night when I was sick, who have listened and encouraged.  This week has made me look at these women through a whole new lens.  It's made me regret all the times I didn't offer to do the dishes.  It's left me in awe of the fact that a woman was able to get up, get herself ready, get her kids ready, go to work, come home, make dinner, clean up, and do it all over again the next day with grace and poise.  And it's made me grateful not only for having them in my life, but for being the best examples they could be.

I know parenthood is all about example.  If we want our kids to grow up to be good, kind-hearted, strong souls, we need to be those people first.  This is a hard feat.  It takes sacrifice, courage, and if you're a person of faith, countless prayers.

Today isn't mother's day, but today I'm thinking of and praying for all the women in my life who encourage me to be the best mom I can be for my sweet girl.  I'd welcome you to do the same, and if you see a mom washing some dishes, maybe offer to take the sponge.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blessings big and small

Yesterday Ella was baptized into the Catholic Church.

It was the sweetest day, as simple as it was.  It was a day of thanking God for His Church, grace, and the people He's placed in our lives.

I love what has become our California family a great deal.  These are the people who visited us in the hospital when Ella was born, who helped us move from apartment to apartment, who traveled through time zones to be a part of our wedding.

With all of our family and some of our dearest friends out of state, days like yesterday make me especially grateful for the friends we have here with us.  

Some of the sweetest celebrations are the ones with no more than 10 people, a sandwich platter, and a lot of good laughs. 

Pictures to come!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Long hair no more

Sometimes we think too much about our hair.

I say 2 things.  1) It's just hair and 2) just do it.

With that, I booked an appointment to do the chop and didn't look back.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A jumpsuit love affair

When I was pregnant, I made a post-pregnancy wish list.  On it was the perfect jumpsuit.  A couple weekends ago, I found the one.  My husband and I went to the Banana Republic outlet store which has easily become our favorite place to shop.  They were having a 40% off clearance sale.  So I scored big. This time I opted for a print filled with brights, but I'm keeping my eyes open for a classic white or black piece.

An #ootd selfie, of course
A better look at the print 
I can't wait to try different looks with this piece!