November 23, 2015

Deck the Walls

Apologies for the post title, I've heard much more Christmas music already this year than I would like to have, by virtue of it being on in every gosh darn store already, and I can't help myself and just automatically start singing along. Which leads to a nice little rotation of the classics playing non-stop in my noggin.  
Anywho, since I posted this initial before and after of the living room, I've filled a couple of the big blank spots (at least partially in the case of one) on the walls with two pieces by yours truly, the first being this engineering print from Photojojo. Or rather Parabo Press as it is now known since the company separated their print business from their phone photography gadget business (still Photojojo) a couple of months ago. I had seen the whole engineering-print-for-large-affordable-art thing before, but found Parabo and got the general display idea via this tutorial.
Instead of furring strips as in the link I used much thinner strips (somewhere around 1/8 x 1 1/2 inches) from the small projects lumber section of the big box store which I painted gold before stapling the print on. Now Parabo offers these handy dandy magnetic poster rails which make print and mounting infinitely reusable instead of full of holes should you want to swap out. Perhaps I just completely missed them on their website when I ordered the print, however I am pretty sure they did not have them at the time. But ah well, maybe next time.
By the way, the photo was taken with my iPhone from Hamilton Viewpoint Park in North Admiral (our old neighborhood) in West Seattle looking across Elliot Bay to downtown and Queen Anne. And if you squint hard you might be able to see Mount Baker there behind the Space Needle. I chose it to print because with the ferry in the foreground, it looks so very quintessentially Seattle and is a nice reminder of those views we left behind.
The inspiration for the second piece requires a little explanation. I am a HUGE Beastie Boys fan. I grew up knowing those Beastie Boys songs that everyone knows, Girls, Fight for Your Right, Brass Monkey. The party songs from License to Ill. I remember watching the video for Intergalactic on MTV with odd fascination when Hello Nasty came out my senior year of high school. But then when I was in my early 20s Greg and I went on vacation with a good friend who at that moment was really into Ill Communication. We listened to it over and over on the trip and when we got home we went to the store and bought the cd. (Because this was so long ago, that's actually how you acquired music back then.) That led to In Sounds From the Way Out. Then there was a few year hiatus in exploration of their catalog, but in the meantime, those two got a lot of play. Then a few years ago, we lost that really good friend who turned us on to Ill Communication very unexpectedly. I can't remember exactly when or why, I suppose at some point in trying to cope I went looking for something upbeat, I downloaded the entirety of License to Ill, then Paul's Boutique and on and on. And I read anything and everything I could dig up online about the band. 
And I discovered that far from remaining uncouth, streetwise, hard partying playboys, the three quickly grew tired of that act and evolved into human rights activists, feminists, philanthropists, yogis, husbands and fathers among lots of other things. And the more I listened the more I found this evolution reflected in their lyrics and sounds, though both always seemed to remain true to their unique style. This commitment to change for the better while still being the Beastie Boys inspired and comforted me. So thus this lyric from Sure Shot on License to Ill (I made the poster in Photoshop and had it printed and delivered via the Staples website.) Life keeps going, it is what you make of it and you are what you make of you. Use what you've got, add layers and keep mixing it up so each version sounds better and better. And with that analogy, I best be going.  

November 9, 2015

That Was October

 And it was full of a whole lot of fall goodness.
There was Ida (and I believe Mommy and Daddy's too) first trip to a pumpkin patch. I desperately wanted to take her to one last year for her first Halloween, but with the demands of a newborn's schedule coupled with the fact that all pumpkin patches were at least a half hour drive from our house in Seattle, it just wasn't feasible. So it was pretty wonderful how relatively easy going was this year!
Pre-pumpkin patch sustenance. While coffee options in Toledo are much better than expected, pastry options are a bit lacking. But these doughnuts almost do too good of a job making up for the wanting categories: scones, croissants, maybe-not-healthy-but-some-redeeming-qualities.
The haul from Hoen's Garden Center. They have a big fall festival the second weekend in October every year with lots of activities for kiddos and a humongous pumpkin patch. I think we'll make going there a tradition. They are open all year and it's just an all around nice greenhouse. I can see going in the dead of winter for a green fix as they have a nice houseplant selection too.  
I got the mums there the week prior. And despite the fact that chrysanthemum blooms are apparently a delicacy to deer, they are still going strong. In fact I think the deer eating them has been equivalent to pinching back the blooms because they are loaded up with buds again.

That's the front porch pumpkin pile from every angle. Ida has greatly enjoyed waving hello to the pumpkins several times daily.
And here's the back, but only from one.
Fall really suits our new dwelling I dare say. I took this pic on a rainy day when Greg's parents were visiting and I was desperately trying to plow through some yard work despite the weather. 
It was kind of a shame to say goodbye to this one, but I wanted to breathe some new life into the hanging baskets on the back porch for the remaining frost-free weeks. 
 And so far we haven't had a hard freeze. In fact it was in the 70s last week! So these specimens have grown a little and are still looking good. 
I also, only about four months after I initially started working on it, finally managed to plant up this bed out at the far corner of River Road and the little side street we're on. It had become a weedy mess over the course of the summer, though the shasta daisies tried to hold their own. The soil in the bed was really compacted and I found a ton of coal as I was trying to turn it over. I suppose from the old roadbed?  Looking at some old documents that actually pertain to the house next door that were given to us by the people we bought our house from, there was originally a right-of-way reserved for an interurban rail along River Road. Then when the plans for it fell through, the right-of-way was given over to widening the road. Maybe they went back and reclaimed part for the sidewalk? It's a theory. Some rusty bolts, a few shards of glass, some chunks of concrete, and a piece of terra-cotta waste pipe were the only other artifacts to report. Anyway, none of that explains the real mystery which is why our front walk ends where it does.
Overall it has been an absolutely beautiful fall, one that's made me appreciate being back in the midwest. Though I may be singing a different tune here in a few months when we're in the freezing depths of winter.  
In toddler news, this one is now pulling up on everything and I would guess is only a few weeks (or days, who knows!) away from first steps!
We became members at the Toledo Museum of Art, which is a really wonderful institution. And I say that even though we've barely scratched the surface, having only gone to the cafe and to see a couple of the galleries including the new Degas and the Dance exhibit. To promote it, the museum has installed murals of dancers from Degas's work all over town and it just so happens one is right next to our neighborhood coffee shop.
Some of the fall color in the ravine at the back of our neighborhood.
We are still plugging away on the house, working mostly on decorating at the moment, and a little trying to make the place more winter-proof, nothing too crazy. My dad came to visit while Greg was away on a business trip and we tackled painting the first floor powder room. I got slightly artistic with the coat of color, hand brushing it on, helped along on one wall at least by this tall glass of pinot noir. I will share some before and afters eventually, we are having an electrician come to properly install a new (old) light fixture next week, and I am still searching for a mirror. 
We've been working in the dining room too, not sure if I mentioned, but we painted it back in the summer (also with my dad's assistance during his first visit). Then he and my aunt gifted us some furniture earlier this fall including a china closet which now resides in the space and has helped it significantly to feel less cavernous, along with these curtains which were hung with the help of Greg's dad during his parents most recent aforementioned visit. When I saw these panels, which are from Anthropologie, online I knew they were the ones. We decided rather than wasting money on temporary window treatments, we'd go ahead and spring for forever ones in the living and dining rooms this year after we tore down the late 1980s monstrosities that were there. And I'm glad we did. You can't beat how the morning light filters through those cutouts. 
Finally, we topped off the month by hosting a Halloween party on Halloween Saturday for neighbors before trick-or-treating hours. We invited everyone around our block and up and down River Road a little ways as well as the most recent two previous owners. And we had quite the turn out, probably somewhere around 45 people! We originally intended it to happen out in the backyard around a crackling fire, but the weather had other ideas, so everyone had to migrate inside to get out of the mist. It was a great time, though a little bit of a blur of faces. But we really wanted to at least meet people besides just in passing, especially the other neighbors with little kiddos, and on that count it was a success and I think there will be some playdates in this pumpkin's future. Another piece of furniture that was gifted to us was my family's cedar chest and in it was that jolly jack o'lantern, circa early 1980s, worn once upon a time by yours truly. So that made costume procurement for Ida this year easy. I grabbed a cape and a hat from Target the day before and was the least original thing ever, a witch. I got a bat costume (not Batman, just bat, he would have been much more pleased with the former) for Greg that he never even got the chance to put on.
And that about sums it up!

October 12, 2015

More Architectural Archaeology, Window Edition

After we moved in this spring, I was determined to put some flowers out to brighten up the landscaping, which for the most part consists of lots and lots of drab, overgrown evergreen shrubs. I got a couple of flats of impatiens because I didn't have time to get creative and there isn't a much more sure thing when you need bright, cheery, plant it and walk away for the rest of the summer. When I was planting up the little bed in front of the bay window, about where I have the mulch pushed back to in the photo, I struck concrete, going all the way across the bed. I wondered about it, but wasn't too inclined to investigate further at the time.
Early in the summer we had a couple of extremely heavy, sustained rains during which we found out just how not water tight our basement is. The ceramic block walls leak like a sieve and in places on the unfinished parts we witnessed water literally pouring in. The finished side has been waterproofed with a drain around the perimeter going to a sump, but on the unfinished side, the water just trickles across the floor at will. Bummer. (This robin followed me around the yard every time I went out to plant something. He had quickly caught on that I was good for serving up his dinner.)
We were checking up on things on the finished side of the basement when we heard a "drip, drip, drip" coming from behind a big mirror hung on the wall behind the bar. (It is worth noting here that all of the finishes on the finished side of the basement, like much of the decor in the rest of the house when we bought it, date back thirty years. And we currently have all of our yet unpacked boxes and unused furniture jammed willy nilly into this space. So when picturing, please include lots of knotty pine paneling finished an obnoxious orangey shade, the dingiest green no-pile carpeting and popcorn ceiling. These elements then packed full of chaos.) So we grabbed the ladder and a screwdriver, down came the mirror, and lo and behold, there was a window. The entire rest of the house besides the basement has the original leaded glass steel casement windows. The basement windows were all (we thought) replaced with glass block at some point. But nope, there behind the mirror was an original, same as above grade complete with oil-rubbed bronze hardware, but with steel muntins instead of leading. Outside of the window was completely dark, but the "drip, drip, drip" we were hearing had a hollow ring to it, so we guessed the window well had been covered over versus filled in. Eventually I made time to dig things up and see exactly what was going on on the outside. And sure enough, there below a bunch of dirt, plastic sheeting and chicken wire (ugh) was the iron grate, same as covers all of the other window wells, and below that the unfilled roughly five foot deep well.
Needless to say, after being covered up for the last probably quarter century, the whole thing was (is) in pretty bad shape. The window frame is extremely corroded on the outside which has resulted in a lack of support for the casements, which has resulted in their becoming misaligned, This along with disintegrating glazing has resulted in several of the beautiful frosted/textured panes of glass cracking. :( This all also means that it's been leaking for who knows how long which has resulted in all of the trim on the inside rotting away. 
The plaster above and below is also cracked and crumbling and the paint is peeling off the plaster walls to either side of the window behind the paneling. I tested for lead and while I got a negative for the outermost layer (a rusty red color) the residue left on the plaster from the innermost layer (a bright yellow), not surprisingly, tested positive. 
I consulted with a lead abatement professional who advised that we could safely clean up what was exposed ourselves and that as long as the rest stayed contained behind the paneling, there was no immediate concern. Our goal is eventually to tear out the paneling and see what condition the plaster behind it is in. If it is in good enough shape, we'd like to deal with abating the rest of the peeling lead paint (if there's a lot, with professional help), make necessary repairs, and leave it exposed. If it's in too bad of shape, we'll still abate the lead and then decide whether to go over it with drywall, paneling again, or some combination of the two. 
It is quite the conundrum to me why anyone would ever think it a good idea to cover up what amounts to a gaping hole in a basement wall with the scantest of materials and then just go on and pretend like it never existed. I have a couple of theories. That despite their plausibility honestly make no sense. 1. This window is directly across from where the television was mounted, so the window was covered up with the mirror to eliminate glare on the screen, and so there wasn't weird light shining out from behind the mirror during the day, the well was covered over too (one palm to face). 2. There was wiring run to install outdoor lights at some point, including two spotlights tucked into the dirt on top of the window well. So, the well was covered up in order to be able to place these lights and then the window was covered on the inside, because you know, who wants to look out at a big black hole? (gah, second palm to face). Like I mentioned, the other four windows were replaced with glass block. I am confident this was not a case of running out of cash to finish the job. I'm also confident the window must have been in pretty bad shape when it was covered up (as the others probably were, hence their being replaced). Thus my theories as to why it was just buried.

 So the bright side is, we have an original basement window! We are facing the fact that in the next five years ALL of the windows in the house need to be restored. The steel is rotting away at the bottoms of the casements and frames. And the leading is loose and cracked in places. When we had the aforementioned heavy rains, there was actually rain trickling in through the leading in spots. So it's easy to imagine how the cold winter air will do the same. As far as maintenance, there's been some patching at the joints of the lead cames, some glazing compound stuffed into the rotting bits, and a little paint applied to the inside and a LOT of paint to the outside (a good few of the windows are painted shut). So these beauties are in need of some tlc. I am starting to research companies and am having fun guesstimating what the price of this undertaking will be. 
In the meantime we had the iron grate over the well repainted.  I need to find some flower pots to stuff the lights in. And we have yet to figure out how to try to temporarily seal up the window. I excavated the concrete edge of the well (using an archaeology aka masonry trowel for a nice straight back wall of the flower bed) and stacked up some brick that was buried  holding the plastic sheeting in place to keep the dirt from the bed from washing back. Hopefully next spring we'll be tearing out those massive shrubs and doing some reworking of the front bed including some regrading.

And that concludes this edition of architectural archaeology. Whew. Let me tell you, this restoring old houses stuff, it's not for the faint of heart. I mean I love it, the glimpses into the past, the planning and problem solving, the dreaming of how it could be. But it entails quite a bit of stress too, that's for sure. Part of what's currently getting to me is the sheer quantity of work to be done and that both time and money are limiting factors at the moment. We don't have the time to diy things at a meaningful pace right now nor the money to contract very much of it out. And little fires keep popping up and needing to be put out that eat into the time and money we do have. And prioritizing what to spend these precious resources on can also be tricky, like trying to line up a whole bunch of moving targets. When I look around I can't help but see "the vision" and not being able to just execute it  at present can really bum me out if I let it. I am trying to keep perspective and remember that all this actually amounts to a whole lot to be thankful for, but I'll admit I've not been doing a great job at it. But we've just come off a very nice weekend with a good measure of both r and r and getting some things done. And we have family coming back in town this week to mind the little while we start to untangle the basement chaos. So onward and upward! 

September 30, 2015


To celebrate our Squee's first, the day of we went for the first time to the Toledo Zoo, which is just a few blocks away from home.
We took a fairly quick tour around. Given the facts that Ida didn't quite get where she was or what she was looking at yet and that coming back is quite doable since it's a five minute trip, we didn't feel compelled to make a day of it. We did decide to get a membership as it is hard to argue the potential entertainment value for an increasingly active and aware toddler. And the Zoo is a big tourism draw for the city so it's also hard to argue against supporting it. We didn't make it into the Aquarium which is newly renovated as of this spring, decided to save it for a rainy day activity.  
My favorite exhibit was the architecture. This is the amphitheater. They hold a summer concert series here and actually get some fairly big name acts. 
The penguins were the first animals we stopped to say hello to...

which factored in when it came to choosing baby's birthday present/zoo souvenir.
The evening before we made these chocolate zucchini cupcakes to mark the occasion food-wise. They were a hit. Even sans the buttercream icing for the birthday girl. I didn't realize I was making a double batch, so as a one year old and her mommy and daddy should probably only indulge in so many cupcakes while they're at their freshest, tastiest, twelve of Greg's co-workers also got a treat.
The following weekend was Labor Day weekend, and we decided to go back to Illinois so that Ida could have a little celebration with family and friends. Good friends graciously agreed to host.
There were more cupcakes, this time not mommy and daddy made, but from Cream and Flutter a lovely bakery in downtown Champaign.
We put out snacks and adult refreshments too, because let's be honest, a one year old's birthday party is generally more for the benefit of the grownups than the kiddo.
Decorations were simple, just farmers market flowers and garlands from Elisabeth Nicole. I did a lot of hunting around and I can safely say that she has the prettiest, most unique garlands on all of Etsy. And the best part is, they are reusable. They are of such a nice quality, I can't wait to put them back up, possibly in Ida's room or maybe at the holidays.
We had a good crowd of twentyish all together, and it was really fun to get to see Ida interact with everyone, especially the other kiddos that came. She is such a people person.

All of that socializing led someone to need a mid-party nap.
Then we rallied for cupcake time. I mean, cupcake, what cupcake? Like mother like daughter. :D

After baby was tucked safely in bed, mommy and daddy got to enjoy a nice evening out with friends at their favorite restaurant in Champaign, Big Grove Tavern, followed by a nightcap at Quality courtesy of Grandpa (my dad).

The last few weeks have been fairly hectic and have included a battle against grubs set on devouring our entire front lawn, another trip back to Illinois to retrieve furniture being gifted to us by my family, and a visit from my family. So as usual, I've been neglecting things here and the backlog of posts continues to stretch off towards infinity. Hopefully we're coming up on a more peaceful spell. I am so ready to ditch being stressed and enjoy this lovely fall weather we've been having!

September 14, 2015

The Happiest of Days

(Happy Day 65)
This little peanut turned one year old on Sunday (Sunday, August 30th that is, turns out this one took a bit to write)! It is so hard to believe that it has been a whole year. I'm sure every parent on the face of the earth has said the same thing, but it is. This squishy little thing is now a toddler and for all of the things that were hard about having a newborn, I do miss the squishiness!
To mark the occasion, I thought I would write down for posterity her birth story. It was for the most part a really positive experience for me, and though I know I've already forgotten some of the details (perhaps for the better!) I'd like to recall what I can before it gets edited and compressed further. :)
I woke up around 4:30 a.m. on Friday the 29th of August (the Friday before Labor Day weekend, haha) feeling a little leaky. No big gush, more like a tiny trickle that stayed that way. I told Greg and then we back to bed till we could call the doctor at 8:00. When it was time, I called in and they of course told me to come on in to get checked out. My doctor's office was across the (West Seattle) bridge near downtown Seattle. Unless you absolutely have to, there's no point in battling rush hour trying to get out of West Seattle, during which a fifteen minute drive can easily become an hour drive, so I told them we'd likely wait a little while and be there a little later in the morning around 10:00 or so. To which I'm pretty sure I was told something like, "No problem, just get here when you can." Which in my mind made whatever time was said less than firm. I wasn't feeling any contractions yet and the leakiness seemed all but gone, making me unsure if what I had felt earlier in the morning was my water breaking or not. So we were pretty sure that upon being seen, we'd be told to go back home until things got more exciting. But at the same time, I could tell something was different. Namely, that baby, who we knew from previous checkups was already really low, was now REALLY, REALLY low. It kind of felt like any and all cushion between noggin and cervix was gone. So we decided, just in case I ended up being admitted, we should probably be safe and shower up, finish packing the bag, and get the cat and dog to their respective boarding locations, thereby sparing Greg a frantic trip back to West Seattle and then back in the event it really was time. 
10:00 came and went. When I finally looked at my phone, probably approaching 11:00, I had a missed call from the doctor and a message wondering where we were and if everything was ok. :/ Oops. I called back in explaining we were simply still in the process of getting there and that I had taken "when you can" to heart. So they said "Ok, well, when about do you think that will be?" By that time, we were probably shooting for 12:30.
We dropped the dog off at her spot downtown and it was in the process of doing that that I think I started to feel something akin to contractions. Nothing painful maybe more like a faint, squeezy tightness. We finally made it to the office. I had an exam (not with my regular doctor, she was away for the weekend) and if I recall, I was maybe just over two centimeters (I had been at one for a couple of weeks.) During the exam, the doctor said it looked like the amniotic sac was still intact, but she took a swab to check for the presence of fluid, and in the meantime had the nurse take me to be hooked me up to the monitor. I had been into the doctor for a routine check a couple of days prior and they had detected a slightly irregular heartbeat from baby, so I was admitted for some monitoring at that time (everything turned out to be fine.) I was having slight contractions then. My memory is already a little fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure that the nurse that took us to the room for monitoring this time could not get any sound to come out of the heart rate monitor at first. Not that she couldn't find baby's heartbeat, but no sound at all. On the verge of parenthood, reassurance is a nice thing to be forthcoming and when you have to wait for it, well that sucks. Finally she went and got my doctor's nurse who quickly got things up and running. Baby's heartbeat was strong and regular. Phew. I was still having contractions, and they were indeed stronger.  And by now, I was starting to be able to really distinguish the squeeze of the strongest ones. But they were still definitely more than five minutes apart and not all that regular. 
For whatever reason, it took the doctor FOREVER (ok, maybe a half hour or forty minutes, but come on, it was kind of important news to be kept on the hook for) to get back to us about what she saw on the slide in regards to the fluid. And in the meantime there we sat in that little room with the sound of the doppler CRANKED to max volume so the nurse could hear it from the other room. Just looking nervously at each other. We were pretty convinced based on what the exam showed, the fact I wasn't all that far dilated, and that my contractions weren't coming all that quickly, regularly, or intensely that we would be going back home to wait it out a little longer. Then just like that in came the doctor. There was amniotic fluid present. What had probably happened was a small rupture had occurred up high in the sac. This explained the sudden lack-of-cushion feeling. But the rupture was so small and the amount of fluid leaking out so slight, that baby moving further down blocked the trickle from actually coming out. We were being admitted to the hospital. This was it!
My doctor's office was connected to the hospital, so for me it was as simple as hopping in a wheel chair and all Greg had to do was hop the car from one parking garage to another a little later. (This is where we experienced extreme gratitude for following intuition and being ready to go.) It was kind of surreal and left me with pink cheeks getting the knowing looks from people we passed in the corridors on the way over. Me, hugely pregnant being pushed in a wheel chair with my (probably really nervous looking) husband right there at my side. I hate situations that warrant my receiving special attention or treatment. I always experience some degree of feeling awkward and uncomfortable. And doesn't it seem silly that you have to enter and exit the hospital sitting down no matter what the circumstances? Come on, in the case of labor, walking in would be way more appropriate and useful! And indeed, after getting checked and monitored for awhile (during which Greg moved the car, brought up our bag and finally got lunch. It was late afternoon by this point and we were both starving, but luckily, I again followed intuition and only had a few bites) we were sent out to walk around for an hour or two. This was in part because things were still progressing pretty slowly and in part because all the delivery rooms were full. 
The hospital was right next to Seattle University's campus, so we decided to stroll around there. It's a really beautiful campus with gorgeous landscaping, so it actually made for a nice way to kill time. Greg and I got to just be together in that peaceful little pocket of space in the middle of the busy city in a peaceful little pocket of time in the middle of a crazy long day leading up to the birth of our baby. As we walked I started to feel the contractions more and more until finally I had to stop walking during them. Still not painful, but a tight squeezing. And by the way I am totally taking credit for the fact that our meandering included Seattle-style hills that would leave non-nine month pregnant people huffing and puffing. We were starting to get a little anxious to get settled into a room, so we headed back in. It took a bit longer, and then there was finally one ready. We met our nurse (who was fantastic) and got our things put down. I got changed and we went through all the preliminaries and then we waited for the doctor to come do an exam. I believe Greg ate some form of dinner at some point. All in all, I was still feeling pretty calm, though the nerves were definitely there, as we faced the great unknown of the rest of labor and delivery. 
We had written up a birth plan that involved trying to avoid any sort of pain medication if possible, and of course c-section unless medically necessary. And we were very fortunate that our hospital was extremely supportive of a minimal intervention approach. That is to say that they provide tools to help women labor in the way that works best for them and lines up with their stated wishes, and while this can definitely include pain control, in can definitely not too. By this point in my journey to mommyhood I had reconciled my vision of the ideal labor and delivery with the fact that as long as I had a healthy baby at the end of it all, everything would be ok. I would not be upset if things didn't go as planned. At this point in labor, I was encouraged that the pain was still very manageable, so I was still determined to try my hardest to have a natural birth.
The doctor finally came (it was a busy evening in L&D!). He did an exam, after which he asked, "Are you sure your water broke?" Uh, yeah. Or so I was told. That's why I'm here. I think I was still only somewhere around three centimeters, so in order to get things moving, he went ahead and broke my amniotic sac the rest of the way and then left us to it. It was probably 8:00 or 8:30 by this point. After all the walking around we'd done, I wanted to rest a little, so I settled into bed and we turned on some football (again, it was Labor Day, so the college season was just kicking off. Greg is normally a fan, though he was a little distracted this particular evening. And because I've come to associate a football game on the television with relaxing with the husband, I find it soothing). Plus, as it turns out the gush of water breaking is not a once and done event. That stuff keeps coming. File that under "Things They Don't Tell You." Plus I had to receive intravenous antibiotics due to testing positive for mrsa at some point. Plus all of the monitoring. So even though I had envisioned a more mobile labor, staying in, on or at least around the bed seemed like the best course of action.
And get moving things did. Within probably an hour and a half, my contractions went from the squeezing sensation, to painful. I went from proclaiming "I feel this one!" at the stronger ones to having to stop, focus and breathe through all of them. When I'm in a slightly awkward situation I try to put myself and others at ease by tapping into my sense of humor (as it were) and making small talk. And for the first few hours that's what I did with Greg and our nurse, but my witty banter trailed off. All of the football games ended somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00 and by then I wasn't really into the distraction of television anymore anyway. 
Eventually I decided I needed to not be sitting anymore and turned around to be on my knees while resting my upper body on the back of the semi-upright bed. I had taken a yoga for labor and delivery class where the best positions for keeping things moving along were discussed and the crouching, kneeling ones seemed to be the winners, anything to open up the pelvis and utilize gravity to get that baby down and out. That's how I stayed for the next couple of hours with Greg kindly rubbing my back until I'm sure his hands and arms were about to fall off. Things had gotten quite painful. Not just the contractions, but the pressure of baby descending. I remember asking how strong the contractions looked compared to how they felt. The pain made me nauseous and I threw up a couple of times. This is why I was very glad I listened to intuition and only ate a couple of bites of lunch.
I think the doctor maybe came in once after his initial exam (like I said, it was a busy night in L&D). I remember being anxious for him to come back and check to see how far dilated I was. I needed some kind of reassurance that I was making progress in order to be certain I could carry on. I knew I wouldn't last forever. But something was telling me it was too late to go in for pain medication. I was getting really tired of being on my knees, however changing positions seemed like such a monumental task. After awhile our nurse who had been reaching underneath me to get to my belly to check baby's heart rate started to struggle to get a long enough read to be confident baby was doing alright (and it would soon become apparent why!) so she asked me to flip over. Moving was as hard I thought it would be. I was tired and holding myself up while feeling so much pain and discomfort was the worst. As I flipped over and tried to find some position that was tolerable I suddenly felt a sensation that I automatically had the words for because I'd read the description so many times. It was the "ring of fire" feeling of baby crowning. And through the pain came the sudden urge to push. I told the nurse and she checked me and I remember her words crystal clear. "Oh my gosh, that baby is right there! I see her head! I have to go get the doctor in here!" Hearing that was actually such a relief. So there had been progress! All of it apparently! I immediately started begging to push and she immediately started telling me to wait for the doctor. She ran out and came back a few moments later and a few moments after that the doctor appeared.
I managed to get settled on my left side. I was leery of being on my back as I had gathered that was one of the worst positions for tearing. As it turned out, this might not have been the best choice.
The doctor took a look and was reviewing all the vitals. I remember waiting for him to tell me to start pushing. When he didn't say anything I finally asked if it was ok now. "Yes. If you feel ready. Just listen to your body and push with the contractions." Um, yep. I. Am. READY. And so I started. I quickly discovered I was a screamer. Everything was so intense at this point that I was actually having a hard time feeling the stop and start of the contractions and had to keep asking when to go for it. But when I was, I was screaming. I'm sure it was quite unsettling for Greg, probably not so much the doctor and nurse, but that shit helps. 
And so it went for the next hour or so, the entire time on my left side because as before, changing positions at any point just seemed too hard. I kept asking for progress reports. There was much commentary about baby's blonde hair (it wasn't until it was all over and she was dried off we realized it was actually red.) Eventually her head came free. The doctor asked me if I wanted to look down and see baby and touch her little noggin. I remember thinking very clearly "Not right now. I'm BUSY!" My eyes were pretty well clamped shut, I had long since given up on any external focal points. I took a quick glance and that was all I could muster. It was probably another half hour of pushing and pleading to know if I was making progress. Then suddenly with one push that I distinctly remember wasn't one of the best efforts I'd given, at 3:14 a.m., she was born.
Straight onto my chest she went and it was love at first sight for me. Greg cut the cord. She was crying loudly. All those endorphins felt so good. I had done it! I was one proud mama. Proud of my beautiful, healthy, big, little baby. Proud of myself, proud of my strong, supportive husband. 
Baby weighed in at 8 pounds 15 ounces. And I got mad props for naturally delivering a nearly 9 pound baby. We realized her hair was actually red. We decided that the name we'd tentatively chosen, Ida Evelyn was a go. She nursed for the first time. I was so happy that I could finally, after all those months rest comfortably on my back. 
After an hour or so, it was time for me to get up for the first time after delivery and use the restroom. As soon as I reached the edge of the bed and had my feet on the ground I felt what I thought at first was a muscle cramp somewhere in the vicinity of my uppermost left leg/buttocks. I got moving and it didn't get better, only intensified. I tried and couldn't go to the bathroom, it was too painful. Laying back down only made it a little better. The nurse did a quick check, but didn't see anything amiss. I had had some very minor tearing that the doctor had repaired, but nothing serious at all. The nurse got me pain medication and said we'd wait a little while and try the bathroom again before resorting to a catheter. I had developed postpartum chills, so when I wasn't holding baby my teeth were chattering and I was shaking pretty badly too. I felt the medicine kick in, but it did nothing to alleviate the ache that when I wasn't distracted with baby brought tears to my eyes and left me whimpering.  The nurse looked again. This time she said she was seeing swelling and went to get the doctor. I am fairly certain the first time he examined me, he brushed it off with "Well you just delivered a 9 pound baby." 
I couldn't get up to go to the bathroom, so ended up with a catheter. The pain remained the same. Eventually the nurse checked again and saw even more swelling and again went to get the doctor. This time he got on board with the fact that something was really wrong and determined I had a hematoma or a ruptured blood vessel that was still actively bleeding. Probably due to the pressure from pushing on my left side the whole time. It was decided the best course of action was to try to stop it. While a hematoma isn't necessarily dangerous and will eventually resolve on its own, the blood loss can lead to shock in the meantime. Within the hour I was headed across the hall to the operating room normally used for c-sections. As they wheeled me over I remember seeing a baby incubator sitting in the hallway and just being so grateful that the issue that had arisen was with me and that baby was well and resting snuggly with her daddy. 
I knew going in that I was getting an epidural for the procedure and boy, was I totally ok with that. I had achieved a natural labor and delivery. That had been my goal. Check. I had known that the pain of childbirth would eventually come to an end. This, not so much. And as soon as it was up and running, there was instant relief from the pain. Somehow I don't think I fully appreciated that with an epidural, at least a full-fledged one, you are completely numb from the waste down and as such can't move your legs. I think every woman has every right to do giving birth however she wants and needs. But, I think not having physical control over my body nor being able to feel what was going on down there would not have worked well for me in the delivery room. But given these circumstances, it was WONDERFUL.
I think the procedure lasted a half hour or so and then I was headed back to the delivery room. Baby was sleeping in her bassinet and daddy was getting a little rest too when I returned. All was well. I rested too.
As it turned out, that wasn't the end of it though. An exam later determined that the procedure to close the vessel hadn't worked. So a little later in the day I had to go for a laparoscopic try at it. That did work. And I got to see my circulatory system down there blown up on a really big high def monitor. So that was special. 
In between all this, there was plenty of baby snuggling and feeding and resting. Even some football watching. We called our families and close friends to let them in on the good news. After the first procedure it was determined that I would be in bed and off solid food for at least 24 hours. The no food part was really rough. And after having managed the natural birth, I was bummed that I was ending up completely immobile. Being told I have to take it easy is never an easy pill for me to swallow. But I was just so happy to have my healthy baby girl in my arms.
It was early evening before we finally made it into the recovery room. It wasn't a restful night for all the reasons a hospital is not the place to go to get rest (all those little lights when the lights are off, all the beeping, the nurses coming and going to check on this and that, unbearably itchy automatic squeezy blood clot preventer cuffs on my legs inflating and deflating every five minutes, for Greg a mattress he described as straight out of a Chinese prison). And I chose to keep Ida snuggled next to me, which probably also kept me from falling too deeply asleep, but was the sweetest thing. She'd had a big day and I just thought she might want her mommy close.
The next morning I couldn't get the all clear to eat soon enough and when I did, I think we ordered the entire breakfast menu. We eventually found out that as suspected, we wouldn't be going home till the next day. I had to receive iron due to blood loss from the hematoma. And I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet and it was late morning at this point. The thought of getting it all together sounded pretty daunting, so even though we weren't looking forward to another night in the hospital, it was a relief that we could spend the day just resting. Eventually I did get up and moving which was rather scary at first, as I felt like I had totally lost communication with my lower half and that it had subsequently wandered off and gotten hit by a bus. The swelling and bruising from the hematoma were pretty unreal. But with each subsequent effort things got a little easier and I eventually realized that even though it might feel like it, I wasn't going to come to pieces. Of course the effects of the epidural were long gone, but I was managing my pain with ibuprofen at this point and it was definitely tolerable. Nothing compared to what I had felt initially.
Ida was good to go, so it was just about getting Mommy set. Finally, early the next afternoon I was discharged, It was Labor Day Monday so we didn't have to worry about traffic or any of that getting home. But we still took our sweet time. I finally had a shower. Greg ferreted things out to the car. It was going on 8:00 before we finally walked out. Somehow I escaped the wheelchair ride, which despite my discomfort, after the long stint in bed, I was actually glad for. Baby slept the whole way home. We arrived safe and sound and got settled in. We were desperate for some rest. We planned on getting Ida sleeping in her crib right away, but that first night we decided we would all curl up together on the pull out couch in the basement. And we snoozed as a happy new family.

The End  :)