Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year Of Claire

I have too many photos, too many memories, favorite moments, giggles, worries, tears and late nights that I haven't captured on the blog this year. To be honest, it was just all too overwhelming.

Whether you understand our unique situation or have been in an even more anxiety-ridden spot, there's no preparation for becoming a parents - especially a mother. And there's an even smaller amount to do so when you spend half of your pregnancy too sick to function and the other half praying that your baby survives another week.

We were lucky, considering our circumstances; Claire was a true, tiny miracle. But we're even luckier to have gotten a baby that parents-to-be can only dream of having. From her innate sweetness and charm, to her natural beauty, to her giggles and curiosity, I truly could not have dreamt of a more perfect child.

And now she's one. It's New Year's Eve and while everyone else is out welcoming in a new year, making resolutions, wish lists and attending sparkling parties filled with champagne, awkward kisses and dreams, I'm going to cuddle up to my baby and celebrate her life and the moments that I can't wait to share with her.

This past fall, I wrote her a letter, seen first in Her Umbrella's premiere issue (pg. 24-25). And every word will continue to ring true for the rest of her life. I'm happy that she'll be able to have these words live here, while also have a book of tangible pieces I've been working on since she was 4 months old. She'll open her first letter when she's 16 and continue to open another with each milestone of her adult life. And if there comes a day when I'm not there with her, she'll still have the voice of her mom locked up in these little chatty-notes.

Happy Birthday to my baby girl. Willow, your puppy dog, gave you your very first belly laugh. Daddy taught you how to wake us up with raspberries. Mommy taught you so say "Hi." You changed the hearts of our friends when it comes to a love of babies. You traveled alongside Mickey Mouse on a pirate-filled adventure, sipping so many different soups, breaking your first tooth and spreading your wings outside of your home country at just 8 months old - and you did it with a consciousness of the special moments that were happening around you.

You love chicken noodle soup, Hershey chocolate kisses and, when in the mood, a swig of apple cider or lemonade. You greet every cuddly toy with a kiss and wave with delight to those that pass by in stores. You are friendly, yet shy when strangers come too close. You get excited when Daddy walks in the door but need your mommy when it's bedtime. Sofia, your cousin, you've loved her since you met her - it's obvious in your need for giving her hugs and kisses.

You love shopping in already-filled carts at the grocery store, and of course, Target too. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is your jam. You could watch it all day if I let you. Although, you're quite fond of musical performances and dance right along with them. Then, at 11 months old, that "bounce bounce" dancing you do, well, you added singing to the entire routine. Grandmommy can't get enough hugs and kisses, she never wants to say goodbye.

Wubby is your best mate. Car seats aren't something you're fond of - I don't blame you - neither are strollers. Bath time may be your favorite part of the day. When you were just a wee one, saying "Good Morning," made you giggle. You started saying "kisses" in December. You have your own Instagram following and a resume of companies that have used your photos - you also have a few of your own hashtags, thanks to your cool mom for journaling your adventures and wardrobe online.

You don't love the sun but you get a good kick out of the wind. Sparkling lights are interesting to you, as well have fans, gears and toys that spin. Yellow is your favorite color. And you're my favorite person. Grandpop gets sad when he doesn't get a daily photo of you in his inbox. Because you make everyone's day better.

You stole everyone's hearts this year and you changed my life forever. Let's celebrate baby Claire!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Snail Mail is the Bee's Knees

Treat Greeting Cards, Snail Mail, Sending Mail If you know absolutely anything about me, then you must know that I love paper products. It's kind of an obsession. Don't worry, I use the recycle bin.

But I love fun paper plates and napkins, stationary, card stock, note cards, greeting cards, labels, stickers .... I love it all. And what I love the most, is snail mail. It's so much more personal than a text or an e-mail. Barely any of my friends even have the pick-me-up to pick up the phone, let alone send a letter, so I imagine the rest of the world is the same. Aside from annual birthday cards to extended family and wedding congrats, I don't meet enough people who send cards and letters just because.

 I like to do it all the time. When I have a spare moment I'll send a little, silly something. Even if it's just to tell one of my cousins or best buds to have a magical week, I like knowing that I may be able to make someone smile or feel good, even if I'm not right there to see it happen. So, when I find new places to make these moments that much more special, like Tiny Prints and Treat, I'm a very giddy young lady.

Most of the time, I try to make the entire snail mail package extra stylish. From return labels to the closing seal, I like for it to be a fun surprise. Take these address labels from Tiny Prints for instance. The polka-dots, the bows .... and the actual size of the label is bigger than those I've received from other companies.
Tiny Prints Address Labels
After yesterday's batch of letters, I'm getting down to my last page. So, I'll be ordering more soon. Maybe the Good Time Glitz is just what I need.
Tiny Prints Address Labels
And then there's the card. When I'm out and about, sometimes I buy cards for no rhyme or reason. They could be beautiful enough to stick in a frame and hang on the wall, like the Truly Outrageous that has to be my favorite of this bunch from Treat. Or, I could buy several that just make me think of someone special, like the Party Drinks card that reminds me of our dear family friend, Lynne.

I'm so happy I've discovered Treat. Not only is the selection amazing. There are so many unique choices for any and every occasion. You can have your return address printed right onto the envelope or mailed directly to the loved one you're sending it to!
Treat Greeting Cards, Snail Mail, Sending MailTreat Greeting Cards, Snail Mail, Sending MailTreat Greeting Cards, Snail Mail, Sending Mail And I love pieces that have extra details. For example, these Treat cards may have a little extra something displayed once you open the card or have a "just for you" printed on the back. Treat Greeting Cards, Snail Mail, Sending Mail Treat Greeting Cards, Snail Mail, Sending Mail  
So, here's my challenge to you. Get off your phones, get off your computers and get out a beautiful, ballpoint pen. Pick out a beautiful piece of paper to scribble down a nice letter or find a greeting card that will surely make your someone smile and send it.

Here is the complete name list of cards you see in this batch:
All Heart
City Club
Sprinkles of Love
Blooms of Greetings
Painted Wings
Painted Poppies
Breakfast Friends
Party Drinks
Truly Outrageous
Enchanting Wishes
Stylish Stack

 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. 
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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Her Umbrella Winter 2015 / Issue 2

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Her Umbrella Premiere Issue Fall 2015

It's September 1st which means Her Umbrella's Premiere Issue is LIVE and ready to view!

Her Umbrella is a women's digital, lifestyle magazine dedicated to creating a life outside the lines. Published quarterly during the changing of the seasons, you'll find a bohemian, free-spirited style woven throughout its pages. Every woman has an umbrella with a variety of likes, dislikes, stories and memories hidden underneath. And we're looking to uncover them.

Our premiere issue features bigger contributor highlights, a variety of topics - intertwined without rhyme or reason. We've nixed the rules and forewent table of contents and the like to be a freer, more unmatched way of exploring. It's not perfect but it's an inspirational start to a dream. Enjoy!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

I do.

Sometimes I feel like I act younger now than I did when it was appropriate for me to squeal over new toys. Sometimes I revert back to a 10-year old Grace who was obsessed with paper dolls and her rock collection. But that's only because I simply enjoy the "little things" in life the most.

My best days are spent with my mom going to Barnes and Noble, grabbing coffee and a big stack of magazines as we waste time cooing over amazing bridal gowns or new recipes to try. My best days are spent on a couch with Justin and a stack of movies by our side. My best days are spent knowing that it's double-date night with my parents. My best days are knowing that I can watch Claire explore new ways to use her hands and voice.

Midnight bowls of Special K with Berries make me happy. Sending out a Happy Birthday card in the mail makes me happy. Reality TV makes me happy. The rain makes me happy and the fact that I can carry an umbrella makes me really happy. Minnie, our dog, makes me happy. Willow, our puppy dog, makes me happy. Over-sized sweatshirts make me happy. Baking cupcakes make me happy. New books make me happy. Adding items to my Amazon wish lists make me happy. When Justin kisses my forehead, that makes me happy. Gel pens make me happy. Especially when the ink sparkles.

I'm not a fan of those who take things for granted. I'm the first one to admit that I've been extremely privileged and spoiled my entire life. I have parents that haven't ever given me the chance to want for anything. But, I've also had parents that have taught me to enjoy "little things" like a late-night, hot cup of tea with cookies, clean floors, coffee ice cream with pretzels and lint-free pants.

Sometimes, I think it's nice to make time to sit and remember what's good, to not focus on what's imperfect and get excited about your daily life. Get excited about new Hello Kitty pencils. Get excited about heart-shaped sandwiches. Get excited about sparkly loafers. Get excited about fall TV-show premieres. Get excited about pumpkin-shaped Reese's during Halloween. And just be excited that you can be excited.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The "High-Maintenance" Myth

    Over the weekend, I read an article in Glamour's July 2013 edition called "Why It's Good to be High Maintenance" by Amber Madison (author of Are All Guys Assholes?).

 It's been a long time since I read something that moved me that much, that I felt so strongly about. I am so compelled by the eloquent way this woman put some of my thoughts onto paper that I just want to make copies and tape the article to the face of every woman and teenager I come across. I felt so passionate towards it, I cut it out of Glamour magazine and it's in safekeeping for Claire to see someday, it's something that she'll need to read and let resonate. 

We hear the term "high maintenance" all the time in reference to women. Most of the time it's women who like to shop, like to wear heels, do their hair and paint their nails. We also hear the term in reference to women who simply ask and tell what they want. Whether it be how they're ordering a particular sandwich or what they expect out of their partner. Well, I've been calling that, for lack of a better word, complete crap, for years. And finally, someone else shouted it from the rooftops.

This article isn't particularly long but it packs quite the punch. Here are some of my favorite snippets:

"Women worry about losing a guy if they ask too much," says Joy Davidson, Ph.D., a New York city therapist. "So we tend to put men's needs above our own and hide what we want in a relationship." 

"Ladies, we're being ridiculous! Wanting to know where a relationship is going is not high maintenance."

"Perhaps we're afraid of expressing ourselves in relationships because deep down we fear that the men we're with don't want to be with us. We worry that if we make a peep, we'll wake the sleeping giant..."

"One reason showing your high maintenance side can be scary: To get what you need, you have to say what you need, and that means being vulnerable. But what's scarier? Pretending everything's peachy all the time, because then you'll end up with a guy who treats your feelings the way you do - as if they don't exist."

How many of you know women who do this? I know several - and that's too many. Too many women play a particular part so their man thinks they're this easy, breezy lady, when inside they're completely unfulfilled but are trying to fulfill themselves with this idea of a great man while suppressing their own wants and needs. It's crap, it's stupid and you won't live a very happy life in the long run. There's nothing special about being "low maintenance," when you'll be a lot more respected when you expect your expectations to be met. 

Read the full article here.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Hometown

Several years ago I used to think that there was an “over the rainbow” out of small town USA but I was granted a new appreciation as I got a bit older. There’s that small town stereotype that has White House in a chokehold. Not to mention that we’re in the south, which only reinforces that stereotype. 

I use Facebook to chat with far away family, annoy some of my good friends and share my daily posts from around the blogosphere but it's hard not to log in and get a bit frustrated. I’m frustrated because people who should be at the heart of the potential of White House are adding to the preconceived notions with their pessimistic and disapproving remarks. 

I’ve been very blessed with parents that value culture. Throughout my still-short life, I’ve been privileged enough to see a lot of places across the country and overseas. And throughout those experiences, I’ve learned that the cliché, “There’s no place like home,” is my reality because in this world it doesn't get much better than a reliable place to live. Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing many from the White House community complaining about the city. I wonder if they know how lucky they are. 

There are so many people around the world, country, state… that would love and appreciate the opportunity to live here. There are so many people who aren’t fortunate enough to see friendly faces everyday or have a safe place to sleep at night. 

And if you’re complaining about the people here… 

News Flash: There are ignorant people and immature people everywhere. That’s life. Change the small-town stereotype by educating yourself before you add to the overall perception by venting rude, petty frustrations on the Internet. Seriously, think about the message you’re sending out every time you make those comments because they can’t be taken back. If you’re giving out negative energy, I wouldn’t expect something better in return.


I challenge you to value your home, wherever that may be. 

It just so happens I’m from a place that values something as simple as high school football and homecoming parades. And I appreciate the fact that something as simple as high school football can bring an entire community together. 

I appreciate driving home at night realizing there isn't anyone on the roads because the whole town is at home already. Safe. That doesn’t mean that tragedies don't happen here and won’t happen again. But look at the statistics, we’re safe. That’s not “small town.” It just means we’re around people who enjoy the little things in life.

And those little things we take for granted everyday, are what so many people would love to experience. There are far more pressing matters to discuss and be disgusted about in this world than the fact that you run into someone you know every time you go to Wal-Mart. Or the fact that we have a Wal-Mart is still a pretty big deal to everyone.

Enjoy the little things and appreciate your privileges, remember not everybody gets them.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Our First Mother's Day Together

Grandmom  (My Mommy) and Claire

I grew up with a mom that was, and still is, the warmest of the warm. Easy to talk to, easy to be around and never a worry in the world when you're with her, she's a mommy to anyone and everyone she's with. That's included boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends, teammates and family members outside our immediate tribe, she's innately, tenaciously caring. Which means if you've done her children wrong she's also tenaciously protective. 

I hope to be that for my baby girl. 

I hope to be the one she comes to whenever there's a problem, a happy moment, a small, excitable experience she wants to share. I hope to be the one she wants to spend time with when she's a toddler and spend great moments of life with when she's older. 

And I'm so happy that every time Claire takes a peek in my mommy's direction, a huge smile widens on her face and they both giggle. 

My days are now filled with morning coos, tiny fingers tugging at my hair, toothless smiles, peekaboo snuggles and an incredible amount of captured moments. 

Happy Mother's Day to every mommy out there, especially my own. And loads of hugs and kisses are to be rained down on my baby Claire today, for allowing me to be her mommy and introducing me to this new, magical life. 

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Get Your Business Cards Circulating With Tiny Prints

A lot of people don't know what I do. Even after they ask and I tell them there's usually a confused, squishy look on their face. Like they don't know what to make of it. And secretly I know they're thinking, "Does she make any money?"

To all those who are confused about what I do "for a living." Here's your answer. I'm a freelance writer. What does that mean? That means I work for myself and I'm contracted by companies, people, websites and a whole host of other possibilities to write for them. I write blogs posts, articles, artist promos, slogans, bios ... the list can go on and on. You name it, I've written some form of it. 

Now your next question is, how do you make money? Well, they pay me! I have weekly jobs writing for several different websites and media agencies but I also have some type of side gig going on almost all the time. It's fun, it's sometimes overwhelming and it's not the typical get in the car job and leave work. For me, my work is with me all the time. But parts of what I do comes with a lot of self-determination. It is really easy to sit on the couch and not walk into the office all day. But if I don't walk into the office I'm missing a deadline and then this uphill hike I'm climbing will quickly come to an end. I'm no where near where I want to be in my career. For me, this job I'm doing is not something I'm doing for a living but something I'm doing with my life. And I'm so fortunate to have a husband and parents who whole-heartedly accept the fact that I'm not the typical 9-5 lady. 

Now in terms of my "side gigs," which are usually larger projects. How do I get those? For lack of a better term, I hustle for them. And a big part of that hustle is letting people know who I am and what I do. That's where my business cards come in and how to get them circulating throughout the community. I've compiled 5 quick tips on how to get your cards in the hands of people you need them to be in and it all starts with a great design. Where did I get mine? Tiny Prints!

1. Standout Designs.
 With a unique design or shade, your cards won't be thrown right into the recycle bin. Well, they'll at least be looked at beforehand. Pick out a design (or design your own) that matches your personality. Also, make sure the quality is good. You don't want a flimsy piece of cardstock to land into the hands of your next client. For example, my cards have a chevron print on the front and the back - they're square instead of the usual rectangle and they're sturdy enough to withstand time in a cluttered wallet.
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards
2. Never Leave Without Them.
There is no excuse not to have a stash with you at all times. You could meet your next client in line at the grocery store or at the movies! If you have them with you, there's no excuse not to hand them out to any and all possibilities.
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards 3. Leave Them With The Tip.
I do this all the time. Leave one of your cards with the tip! You never who know might snatch it up or if the waiter or waitress has a need for your services. It's a painless way to get them into someone's hands.
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards4. Don't be afraid.
Leaving your card with the tip after a meal is a great option, but you shouldn't be afraid to offer up your card during conversation. There are lots of times when I'm out and about, I get into a conversation with someone and somehow my work comes up. Whether they just want to take a look at my personal blog or snoop around my online portfolio I gladly give one right to them! 
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards5. The Bulletin Boards.
I love these. It's just another painless, easy way to get yourself or your business seen (and eventually heard). Whenever you see a bulletin board or a card jar, grab one out of your purse or wallet and add it to the mix. You never know what could happen!  
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards  photo DHow To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards
  Lastly, I have to thank Tiny Prints. There selection is one of the best and most inspiring. I've used other companies before to print my cards and the design or quality wasn't near what it was when these cuties showed up in the mail.
How To Get Your Business Cards Circulating, Business Card Designs, Tiny Prints Business Cards

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

10 Tips For New Preemie Moms

Becoming a first-time mom is scary, exciting and stressful in and of itself, and that's without the extra fears and frustrations that come with having a baby that's not in a state of "normal" health. Not only did I give birth to our baby prematurely, but she was also growth restricted, making her even smaller and more delicate than other babies her age and size. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world, but having fellow mommies who had experienced similar situations were a lifesaver for me. Which got me thinking, why not share just a bit of my advice on not only becoming a mommy but becoming the mother of a small, preemie baby girl? Setting our IUGR diagnosis aside, let's take a peek at 10 tips for new preemie moms and some advice that got me through. 

1. Don't Feel Guilty: Whatever the reason for having your baby prematurely, there's a certain amount of guilt involved. Is this my fault? Why did my body fail? Could I have done something better? Don't feel guilty for having a premature baby and don't feel guilty about leaving your baby if she/he has to spend some time in the NICU. Remember, these decisions that your doctor made or will be making are for the baby and your best interest. The sooner the hard stuff is over comes the fun adventures. There's a silver lining to it all. 

2. Swaddle, Swaddle, Swaddle: When the nurses in the hospital are teaching you how to swaddle. Pay attention! Most babies love being all curled up, warm and cozy ... but that goes double for premature peanuts. Remember, they're still supposed to be in your tummy!

3. Utilize the Time at Home: Pay attention to our 1st bit of advice and if you leave the hospital before your little one does, utilize the time. Catch up on as much sleep as possible and get your home ready. More so than not, your premature delivery wasn't scheduled and a lot of have-to's weren't checked off the list before your little one came into the world. Get meals ready, clean house and finish getting the nursery prepared. It'll keep your mind off of things and you'll feel better knowing baby is coming home to a refreshed space.

4. Don't compare: There's a big possibility your premature baby will not hit the "normal" milestones. And that's okay! That doesn't mean your baby will be "behind," it just means his/her body needs a little more time to catch up and get stronger. 

5. Find Support: From online support groups to apps like MomCo, you can find your very own community of mommies that can help lift you up, give you advice and sympathize with your situation. And what's great about MomCo is the fact that you can find fellow moms local to you, create play dates and begin friendships with those that have been in similar situations and understand what you're going and been through, and the simple fact that you're a mommy now and your life has completely changed.

6. Do Your Shopping Research: Some products just don't work for extra small babies and some work a lot better. Check out my list of must-have's for some ideas. From nipples that move with the baby's head to bibs that catch it all ...

7. Visit These Sites: Shoppings, tips and more can be found right here.

8. Try To Shrug It Off: There will be comments. Everyone gets them. Claire is only 4 months old and I have several stories of outright rude and nosy strangers coming up to us in public. Shake them off and, as I said previously, try not to compare your baby to a friend's, family member's or those in the supermarket. Just enjoy and do the best you can for your little one.

9. Stick With A Routine: This goes for all babies, but especially little ones that need even more guidance and warmth. Stick with routines. From bedtime to bath time, create tradition within your home that both you and your partner can follow. Eventually your baby will know what to expect without being scared or fussy. Instead. they feel a sense of security and comfort.

10. Ask Questions: Have your doctor's office, doctor, nurse hotline and even your health insurance's phone number in your phone. Even if you think it's a silly question, you'll feel better by knowing the answers. My husband and I called the hospital nurse hotline twice the night we got home and several more times in the first weeks. It was nice to be able to get instant relief and information.

Check out our birth story here!

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Birth Story: Claire Louise

Imagine this...

Planning, wishing and being completely ready to have your first child. Getting pregnant the very first try and feeling incredibly lucky that everything was going as "planned." For an anal, OCD, anxiety-ridden planner, it's a storybook beginning. 

And then ... things start to happen. 

Five months of severe nausea and vomiting and no weight gain. Finding out that you have a heart-shaped uterus (which sounds cool but can cause "issues"). Growing a magical micro-wisdom tooth out of no where and having it pulled during your 8th week of pregnancy. Bleeding throughout the first trimester and having more than a couple ultrasounds to verify that the baby's heart is still beating. Having a hemorrhage at the beginning of the 2nd trimester and feeling like you've lost the baby you prayed for. Finding out you were having a baby girl in week 19 and everything was "perfect," all is right in the world and you're ecstatic. And then in week 24 you're sent to the high risk doctor because your baby isn't growing on par, and in fact, is under the first percentile on the growth chart. Getting blood tests done to see if you have a bleeding disorder. Getting genetic tests done to verify that nothing is "wrong" with the baby causing the slow growth. Your baby is labeled IUGR. You prepare for your baby to be born any week. You prepare for your baby to be put in the NICU for months. You prepare that your baby may not make it. 

That was our 8 months. It was a solid 8 months of praying to my loyal set of saints and grandmother. A solid 8 months of being scared and worried and hating the unkown.

But now Claire is here, at home with us and we can let everyone know how she got here. Which is even more dramatic than what we'd already been through. 

Let me remind you that Claire's due date was January 27th. But, once we knew that she was IUGR, that date was thrown out the window. Instead, we knew we'd get lucky to make it to full-term. And, before Christmas, we had a date set. On the evening of January 6th we would go into the hospital to be induced and coax our little Claire out before dinnertime on the 7th. But that wasn't exactly what happened.


On December 30th I had two doctor's appointments. The first was the high risk doctor to measure how much Claire had grown. They estimated that she was 4 lbs. 15 ounces and they gave me the all clear in the blood pressure department (it was 128/68) and urine check. 

After we were done at the HR office, we headed over to my OBGYN, although I had to see one of her partners since she was out of town. Unfortunately we got the most obnoxious and uncomfortable nurse in the world (the type that shouts out your weight in the hallway where everyone can hear). She informed us that the doctor was in delivery so we would have to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, that was not good for my nerves or my blood pressure. Which, she took my blood pressure and it was on the high side (130/90). She wanted to give me 15 minutes and check it again. She came back and it was higher (140/95). So, she made me give a urine sample, even though I did tell her that I JUST had it checked at the previous doctor's office within the hour. 

Fortunately the doctor showed up, checked my cervix and made me have my blood pressure taken, yet again. It was still high and then we were informed that my urine had a "good amount" of protein in it - which is a sign of kidney damage and preeclampsia. Then the doctor said it was time for me to go over to triage and be "monitored" for a couple of hours. At this point I just wanted to run away. This was what I was scared of happening all along. Preeclampsia is known to take the lives of both mother and baby. I wasn't prepared to not get to live with Claire or Claire to not get to have her mommy. 

I called Justin and told him to get a move on it.We were taken to a room, I was told to slip into a butt-less gown, asked a zillion questions and then watched as my blood pressure was taken every 15 minutes, rising with each reading. They drew blood and found that my uric acid level was a bit wonky as well, which points to the liver and acts as another sign of preeclampsia. And then, we saw the doctor that put me there and she said it was time to go to labor and delivery. We were having the baby and getting induced. And despite popular belief that wasn't exciting for us. It was scary. She wasn't ready. I wasn't ready and she wasn't full-term yet. She was little and we wanted her to be able to stay inside and grow as long as possible - she was already getting gypped 3 weeks for heaven's sake.

Then I was wheeled into a L&D room. My dad was called to bring down our bags and my mom's tote filled with some things to get her through the night as well - I wasn't doing this without both my husband and my mom there with me. 

As soon as I got into the bed they started an IV, with someone who didn't have the most delicate of touches. I was to start getting magnesium which was to help keep me from seizing as my blood pressure rose. Seizure and stroke were constantly referred to since my bp was getting so high at times. 

They tell you before that the magnesium may make you feel very hot and give you blurry vision, but they don't really relay to you how, for lack of a better and more eloquent word, shitty you will feel. They also didn't tell me I'd be on it for 48 hours. In the meantime, I needed more blood work done and no one could get me to bleed. Not only did I have my IV done twice, but I was poked 4 times by 3 different people.

Then it was catheter time. I'm sure a lot of you have had a catheter. But most of you had that catheter put it after your epidural was given to you. I got to experience getting a catheter put in and feeling EVERY single bit of the adventure and it's not an adventure I'd ever want to take again. No sir, no way. 

So, I'm in bed. A catherter down below. Pricks, pokes and a blood pressure cuff on my right. An IV with at least 3 cords and an oxygen finger-taker (that's the one name I missed) on my left. Two bands around my belly monitoring the baby. And three sticky pads on my chest and two sticky pads on my back. Then they tell me to rest for the night. 


We all stared on the monitors checking on Claire's heart rate and watching my blood pressure go from the 190's/100's down to 119/60 within 15 minutes. Trust me, that's not a high you want to try. Once the magnesium kicked in I couldn't keep my eyes opened even when I was awake. I literally apologized to people who came in to talk to me for keeping my eyes closed as they spoke. My legs had some pretty severe shakes and I was praying constantly that we would at least get to experience a natural delivery. It all depended on how baby was going to take to the pitocin, because little babies have a tendency to not do well with it. 

Nighttime was awful. With your blood pressure being taken four times an hour and the paranoia that you may have a seizure without realizing it, there's just no way one can truly rest. 

By New Year's Eve morning, I was starting to feel some contractions. The doctor that decided it was time to have the baby came in to break my water. And, FYI, she said it wasn't going to hurt. But it hurt, and I also had to sit in the wetness for two more days. After she was done, she then informed me that another doctor would be the one delivering Claire. Cue more panic.

And here's an idea of how much the magnesium was making me feel completely out of it. I allowed a student to place my epidural. A STUDENT!! I would have never in my right mind let that happen. Although, the student that performed it was really great and didn't miss a beat - thank goodness. 

Once I started dilating, everything moved really fast. I went from a 4 to a 6 in no time and once we got to a 6 it was maybe 30 minutes until I was leaning on Justin telling him that if he didn't go get the doctor Claire was gonna come walking out herself. 

As the room was being set up with tables and tools, with every contraction, Claire was closer to arriving without a push to be had. And once we were all set up, two rounds of pushing ensued, about five minutes all together, and our little, bitty bundle came out with a strong kitty-cat cry. They sat her on my chest, she grabbed my thumb, I cried, if I looked up I'm sure I would have seen my mom crying too. She was - is - gorgeous. I heard Justin say he was going to cut the cord but I didn't see it happen (apparently, it took him a couple of tries).

They took her from me pretty quickly to get cleaned up. She was 4 lbs. 11 ounces, 17 1/2 inches long with a light brown pixie cut and frosted golden tips all over. Like one of the nurses said, she must have went to the beauty parlor behind our backs. 

I got one more quick snuggle before she was off to the nursery. All the while, the doctor who delivered her (absolutely fabulous by the way, so happy she was the one who got us through this experience), was "rummaging" down below giving me a good amount of stitches to deal with later. I felt every bit of those stitches too since the epidural had worn off - fun times. 

I'll spare you the details of my mini meltdowns and the 3 days spent in the post-partum   rooms that were filled with more scariness. I'll also spare you the dizzy spells and scares I had my first week home. What's important now is that we are home, Claire is doing fabulous and I'm on the slow mend. 

But is there a phobia "word" for being scared of blood pressure machines? Because I have that now.

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