L1: The delivery of Elijah Graham

I did finally make a birth plan.  I outlined a few things we wanted (hydrotherapy, freedom to move, plenty of skin-to-skin time), a few things we didn’t (analgesics, formula, unapproved visitors), and in bold at the top, I typed – in a good font, of course – Goal #1:  all 3 of us make it out alive. 

Everyone has lots of opinions and advice toward the end of pregnancy, but PB wins the prize for telling us to go on a date every night possible the last few weeks.  Those evenings turned into some really special last moments together as a 2-family. We froyo’d with the best of them, we went to Chipotle many many times, we held hands and walked (slowly) around our neighborhood, we tried out a new pizza joint, we arranged an evening with dear friends in Lincoln.

I had been having periodic Braxton Hicks over the past couple of months, and was dilated to a 2 at my appointment on Monday; I had been at a 1 for the previous 3 weeks.  Slow and steady, my OB told me.  I had noticed the onset of very mild, very irregular contractions earlier that week, which meant labor was nearing.  It better be, I thought.  I was 39 weeks pregnant.

39 weeks

As we left Lincoln a little after midnight on Saturday, March 14, my belly was full of steak, and my heart was full of warm conversations with a lifelong friend.  We stopped for a bathroom break at the Waverly exit – never listen to a pregnant woman if she tells you she doesn’t have to pee – and as we pulled onto I-80 heading East, I started having back contractions.  After checking in with Dr. Google, we knew this was it.   We had been to the relaxation classes, discussed breathing techniques and imagery with my therapist, and were mentally prepared (as much as possible) for a long night/day of labor and delivery ahead of us.

At Chad’s encouragement, I busted out the trusty Full Term app (highly recommend) and started timing my contractions as we drove down the interstate.  Thirty seconds long.  Every three and a half minutes.

I didn’t really know what that meant.  In childbirth class, they tell you to go to the hospital when your contractions are 1 minute long, 5 minutes apart, for 1 full hour.  My contractions weren’t long enough yet, I thought.  It’ll barely be an hour by the time we get home, I thought.  Contractions continued at that rate for the duration of the ride home.  Chad held my hand and rubbed a pressure point when they came on, and I focused on timing with the app.  Start.  Count to 30.  Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.

When we got home (around 1:30 AM), I called Lakeside hospital while Chad hopped in the shower.  Night Nurse Jenna (who would later become my very best friend), told me to drink a lot of water, lay down on my left side, and call her back in an hour.  But first, I had to deal with a crock pot roast I had going in the kitchen, and I couldn’t disturb our Airbnb guests upstairs.  Of course.

Eventually, I drank my water and laid down while Chad put the carseat in the car and assembled the last minute items for the hospital bag from my checklist. He also took out the trash, started the dishwasher and finished cleaning up from the roast. BLESS HIM.  During that hour, I had flu-like shakes, and my contractions increased in intensity and time, landing around 50 seconds long, every three minutes. Despite the pain, I felt calm, and focused on breathing slowly and stopping and starting the app timer.  At the end of the hour, around 2:45 AM, we called Lakeside back and Jenna told us to come on in.

We loaded me up in the car, avoided a drunk driver on Dodge Street, and I started the check-in process at the ER (which was unfortunately not unlike visiting the DMV) around 3:10 AM.  I have mad skills in wristband fastening thanks to my waterpark days, and I made the lady redo my hospital band. I’m not proud of the look I gave her when she put it on me wrong, but I had three contractions while I was sitting at her desk and I was over it.  Jenna took me up to the room while Chad parked and unloaded the car.

I had wanted to labor in the tub, so with the bath water running, Jenna did my first cervical exam at 3:30 AM.  “Oh, wow, you’re at 9, 9 Plus; bag of waters still intact, +1 station,” I heard Jenna say.  Oh, sh!t.

The on-call OB was called in (my beloved Dr. Sullivan was on vacation, of course), and I skipped the tub, and got gowned up and put on the delivery table. I grasped the bed handrail and Chad applied glorious counter-pressure to my lower back during contractions for the next 45 minutes while we waited for the OB to arrive.  Despite some moments of panic and undeniable pain, I felt pretty calm. I was very focused on one particular square of plastic on the handrail.  I don’t know.  It worked for me.

Nothing in the delivery room was actually ready for delivery, so the nurses scurried around completing preparations.  My IV port was inserted and reinserted (I had an epic bruise from the initial port hitting a valve), Chad nervously wondered if my Group B Strep antibiotics would be administered in time.  The hospital’s general on-call physician was called in to the room; the nurses worried that I was progressing so quickly and the on-call OB hadn’t arrived yet. I just tried to breathe.

At one point, I asked if it was too late for an epidural; even at this stage in the game, I still hadn’t quite decided whether or not I wanted drugs – I mostly thought I didn’t, but I was scared of what my body could or couldn’t handle, thanks to 28 weeks of emotionally and physically draining SI joint pain.  Jenna said that if ever there was a delivery to try without pharmaceuticals, this was it.  I had gotten this far already.  The nurses estimated a half-hour of pushing at the rate I was progressing. She told me I could do this, and I believed her.

Moment 1

Dr. Besse arrived at 4:15 AM, broke my water, and I started pushing immediately.  With Chad on one side of me and Jenna on the other, I ultimately pushed for an hour and fifteen minutes.  I burned through ice packs every few minutes, and a back up stash had to be procured.  I finally started ripping open the ice packs myself; I couldn’t get enough of the cool relief on my forehead and neck.  

Pushing was exhausting.  Every muscle in my body was tired, and I very badly wanted to sleep.  At one point, I legitimately considered taking a nap, but ultimately decided that sleeping wouldn’t be productive to actually birthing this child.  And I pushed.

I had noted on our birth plan that Chad should be given the opportunity to catch the baby.  I had neglected, however, to tell Chad about this. He was caught off guard when asked if he wanted to gown up and get ready to catch the baby – I had imagined having this conversation with a nurse hours prior to actually delivering.  He gowned up, moved to my feet, and Ashley took over holding my leg and popping instant ice packs.  “Push-2-3-4-5-6″ Jenna counted.  And I pushed.

The nurses advised us that if we do this again, next time we shouldn’t bother calling ahead.  Just come on in, they told us. I laughed.  And I pushed.

Between sessions of pushing, I was able to catch my breath, recenter, and relax.  I took a lot of breaks.  I told jokes.  I thanked the nurses profusely. I apologized to the doctor for waking him up.  And I asked questions.  Did the nurses secretly know if it was a boy or girl?  No, but they thought it was a girl.  Was I making progress?  Chad ensured me that I was, indeed making progress.  I saw love, pride and encouragement written all over his face.  I could do this, his eyes said.  And I pushed.

Moment 2

At 5:34 AM on Sunday, March 15, with a burst and a cry, L1 arrived.  Dr. Besse handed the baby’s head off to Chad, and my dear husband delivered our baby from me. He tearfully and joyfully announced, “It’s a boy!”  Our son was very carefully dried off (meconium was present in the amniotic fluid) and he was placed on my chest.  “Does he have a name?” Jenna asked.  Chad and I just looked at each other.  The huge responsibility of naming this person we had just barely met gave us pause.

“He came out like an Elijah,” Chad said.  Indeed.

Moment 3

Team Wastell became a Three-Family.  Elijah Graham Wastell had been delivered from me into this world.  We did it.  

Moment 4Get ready, dear one.  To live will be an awfully big adventure.  

L1: A Very Non-Pinterest Nursery

Leather pouf? Check.  Sheep skin rug? Check.  Handmade mobile? Check.  Color-coordinated chevron clothes sizing dividers?  Check check.

Except, none of that.  Pinterest (and my Facebook feed), is bursting with well-appointed, cutesy nurseries full of beautiful (and expensive) furniture and decor.  I enjoy decorating a room as much as the next girl, and to be honest, I love baby stuff – mostly because it’s all so tiny, and tiny things are cute.

HOWEVER. We don’t know where we will be living this summer/fall.  Maybe business school, maybe a teeny tiny (cute!) apartment, maybe a different home in Omaha, maybe in our current house.  With all those maybes, it just didn’t make sense to furnish and decorate a nursery to the hilt.

Plus, I’m kind of generally annoyed by the amount (and cost) of stuff that babies “need.”  Did I register for a $35 baby tub when a $10 (or free) version would work just fine?  You bet I did, but only because it folds flat. We did buy the most amazing rocking chair, but purged and reorganized the house so I could reuse my dresser and an old bookshelf.  95% of L1’s clothes are from Buy Sell Trade groups.  And, we didn’t buy a crib.  Without knowing how much room we’ll have at our next residence, it seemed a little premature to invest in a big piece of furniture.  So, travel size Pack ‘n Play it is, at least for the first few months.  One step up from the laundry basket situation I’ve been scheming about, I figure.

L1 Nursery

Your room is all ready, kiddo.  Any time you want to join us would be just fine with me.

Ready or not

holding hands

We lay on the couch, blankets tucked around our feet, fingers intertwined.  Frank and Claire’s strange relationship played out before us, and I couldn’t help but cry for everything changing.  People ask me if you’re ready for life to change, if you’re ready to be a dad, if you’re ready to share me, if you’re ready for the not sleeping and the selflessness and the sacrifices that seem to be an inevitable part of this thing called parenting.  People ask me if you’re ready, like somehow I’ve got a leg up on you. Like somehow I’m supposed to be already ready.

Truth is, you’re already the one holding me when I can’t sleep.  You’re the one making 84 trips up and down the steps hauling things too heavy for me to carry.  It’s you who has infinite patience when I’m on the edge.  It’s you calling me beautiful when all I can see is a swollen belly and swollen feet.  The dancing in the kitchen is more often your idea lately, and it’s your songs and silliness keeping me laughing.

Truth is, I don’t know if I’m ready to share you.

Our two-family is becoming a three-family very soon.  L1 will be on the outside, a squirming, squishy Whole Person. I can’t wait to watch you love our baby.  I know how huge your heart is and how generous you are with your love and strength, and I have to trust that your arms are long enough to hug us both.

I love our two-family.  I love being your wife.  Becoming a three-family, becoming parents, is equal parts exciting and terrifying.  There’s no one I’d rather do this with.  I just love you.

What I’m Into / February 2015

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This February feels like it just won’t quit.  We haven’t had much of the surprisingly nice periods of sunshine and warm weather that usually drop by for a day or two in February. I’m DONE with winter, and thankful for my little belly insulator that keeps me warmer than usual.  But come on, Spring.  You can do this.

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I am very into nesting.  I wrote a whole post about it, in fact.  These past few weeks have seen even more closets, cupboards and secret nooks & crannies be conquered by the nesting bug.  I have quite a load to go to Goodwill, and I am TOTALLY into seeing all that stuff leave my house.

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And, I am totally into Amazon Prime bringing me packages.  Gifts from loved ones, sure, but also all the things I have ordered and returned and ordered and returned and ordered.  I’ve had no less than 13 diaper bags at home to try out, and let’s not even talk about the adventure of finding just the right nursing bra.  Thank you, Amazon Prime, for free shipping.  Amen.

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We scored some free tickets to a Creighton game, and while the Jays lost, I’m totally into that guy, and it was so fun to spend a night out with him and some of our friends.  He’s just the cutest.

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Above: 34 weeks and 37 weeks and the belly that just won’t quit and hello, sleepless nights.  Ugh.  That was a rude surprise around 35 weeks.  But overall, pregnancy things are going well. The baby looks great, I’m hanging in there, and in March, I’ll be all into our newborn.  L1 will be on the outside, y’all.  Yikes!

What I’m reading & What I’m watching
I have been getting a little reading done – see what I read this past month here.  I’ve been watching Drop Dead Diva while I clean out closets, and keeping up with Grey’s and Nashville as per usual.  I’m glad my shows are back.  And Scandal!  We’re still loving Liv and the Gladiators.  I followed all the awards shows on Twitter and catching up on clips later, which is much more preferred to actually watching live, I’ve found.

Adventures in Piggery

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I braved the smell and went into one last nursery barn at the beginning of the month. Let’s not even talk about the size of coveralls I had to wear to accommodate the bump.  Hilarity ensued.

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The little pigs were not particularly cooperative in having their pictures taken; in fact, I’m pretty sure I caught that guy in the middle mid-sneeze.  Bless you, little fella.

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We also took one last 1,600+ mile mega road trip down to Southern Kansas and then into Texas.  Our last trip as a 2-family of road warriors.  Chad and I have driven a lot of miles together, and seen a lot of the country (and a lot of pigs).  It’s been a great season of our lives, and I’m so thankful for the time we’ve had together.  I’m grateful for the wide open skies, the bit of color we saw in southern Kansas before the snow blew again, and the man who rides (drives) beside me.

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I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for her What I’m Into series. Hop on over to her blog for more.

L1: Freezer Cooking

I knew I wanted to stock our freezer with some easy pop-in-the-oven meals before L1 arrives, so our super awesome friend Sharon came over and we spent the day assembling casseroles and making sauces. Did I mention she’s SUPER AWESOME?  Seriously.

I’m fast and loose with recipes, so I’ve made some notes below on changes I generally make, but I’m confident that the recipes I linked to would be quite delicious in their own right.   I froze meals in 8×8 foil pans that were double-layer foil wrapped, then labeled, or in gallon or quart freezer bags, also appropriately labeled.   I have a full grocery list for this set of meals if anyone is interested.

Let me also note that I am Hashtag Blessed with a husband who is not a picky eater, who loves vegetables and doesn’t mind leftovers.  It’s the best.

food 1

Texas Lasagna:  One of my mom’s go-to Taste of Home recipes that Chad happens to love.  I added a can of black beans and some frozen TJ’s peppers.

Lucille’s Chicken Casserole:  This was a staple growing up, and is by far my favorite comfort food.  Chad doesn’t like it and I don’t even care – I’ll eat the whole thing.  I can’t find the exact recipe on line, but it’s pretty close to this link, plus some diced onion, hard boiled egg, and a few good dashes of soy sauce.

Classic Ragu Bolognese:  Gotta love veggies hidden in a classic meat sauce.  Ain’t nobody got time for veal around here, so I use a combination of ground pork and ground beef, and a little bacon instead of pancetta.

Food 2

Beef Enchilada Filling:  No official recipe on this one – I use a 1:1:1:1 ratio (you could keep going with the 1s forever on this one) of 1 lb ground beef, 1 can black beans, 1 can enchilada sauce, 1 can diced green chilis, 1 handful frozen spinach, etc… can’t go wrong.  I freeze it in quart ziplock bags, and we eat the filling spread on tortillas and broiled with cheese, or poured over cornbread muffins with sour cream, or piled on top of nachos.  You could also roll them up and pour more sauce on top if you have a lot of time.

Pork & Mushroom Meatballs:  I was inspired one day at the grocery store by a sample giveaway of some Johnsonville pork burgers, and recreated these mushroom meatballs with ground pork.  They’re simple, savory and comforting, and are great with rice or on slider buns.  Chad will also eat leftovers cold straight out of the refrigerator.  Pro tip: chop your mushrooms really really small before sautéing. If the mushroom pieces are too big, the meatballs won’t hold together well.

Funeral Potatoes:  No one said we were keeping track of calories here, people.  Classic church potluck style and tasty as heck.  I’m not even sorry.

Food 3

Italian Meatballs:  I love having a variety of meatballs on hand to throw in a jar of Prego (it’s my favorite) or toss with cheese ravioli or turn into gooey meatball subs.  The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here is a great standby if you need a place to start.  I also add frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed) to these.

Chicken Spaghetti:  My love affair with chicken spaghetti began well after we got married, and I must have tried 4 or 5 recipes before I found one that I really like as a foundation.  I actually follow this recipe pretty closely, although I use probably twice as many veggies as the recipe calls for, and use whatever I have on hand, although a wide variety (carrots AND celery AND zucchini AND peppers AND mushrooms AND spinach AND onion) tastes best, I think.  No shame in adding/subbing cream of chicken soup for some of the broth base, either.

Chicken Enchiladas: I do like to get extra veggies in where I can, so I add a layer of sautéed mushrooms/spinach/onion/zucchini/peppers/whatever into this classic Gimme Some Oven recipe.  I used a combo of cream of chicken soup, sour cream and yogurt for the sauce, since that’s what I had on hand.

Food 4

Florentine Lasagna:  I also add a layer or two of any/all sautéed veggies to this.  And I JUST realized I forgot to add bacon to the batch I made for the freezer.  Sigh. I may have to fry up a 1/4 lb and eat it standing at my stove just to make up for it.   For the freezer version, I just mix sour cream and cottage cheese and milk plus all the seasonings, in lieu of actually cooking the sauce, simply because I am a lazy cook.  Also a messy cook, but that’s a different story.

Tater Tot Casserole:  I mix the beef, beans and sauce, then freeze in ziplocks.  I’ll transfer to a casserole dish and top with tots before baking.  We’re a no-cheese family for Tater Tot Casserole (and for heaven’s sake, don’t add corn), but I know many who like it with the cheddar.  Weirdos.

Classic Lasagna:  I will not lie and say I make this homemade sauce for lasagna.  I don’t.  I was raised on Prego and I think it works just fine in lasagna.  But do as you must.   And, because I was feeling fancy and had it in the freezer, I added some bulk Italian sausage to the mix.

Enjoy!

My Pinterest board for the whole set of meals is here, if that’s your thing.

Quick Lit / February 2015

A quick look at books I’ve been reading recently.  (And here’s what I read last month.)  What’s on your bookshelf these days?

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Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival / Jennifer Chiaverini
At the suggestion of both my mother and grandfather, oddly enough, I tried to find Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, but my library app didn’t have it available, so I settled for this sister story about Washington’s elite.  It was enjoyable enough for historical fiction, although I have no idea how historically accurate it was.

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I Did (But I Wouldn’t Now) / Cara Lockwood
A lighthearted book club pick for February.  Quick, easy reading that may have jumped the shark a time or two, but decent guilty pleasure chick lit none the less.

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The Expectant Father / Brott & Ash
I have no good explanation for why the ONE Prepare for Pregnancy & Parenting book I chose read during this pregnancy was written for fathers, but here we are.  It was relatively helpful and generally approachable. I found it more humorous than I expected, which may been a result of the dad perspective.  #36weeks

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I’m linking up with Anne Bogel for her Quick Lit series (formerly Twitterature). Hop on over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more.