Friday, February 28, 2014

Oh, Internet... {42}

So, as it turns out, Chief did catch the stomach bug.  However, her version involved puking twice, having diarrhea once, never running a fever, and being done with it in less than 24 hours.  Compare this to my three full days of dehydrating misery and yeah- I'm still calling this a win for breastfeeding.

You know what else won this week?  The internet.  (The internet always wins, though.)  Here are just some of the winningly awesome things from the internet this week:

Top Gear is going to be on Phineas and Ferb! // via Top Gear Magazine on Tumblr
Hello adorable!  Too bad Chief hates hats... // via Disney Store
I want to make one of these for our house! // via Seeded at the Table
That Toy Story theory making the rounds on Facebook?  The films' director says not so much...

This breakdown of the Victoria's Secret swimsuit catalog is hilarious!

I'd love to read Dispatch from Disneyland, a collection of essays from the grandson of one of Disneyland's original Imagineers.

I loved this article on ways to nurture positive body image in your daughter.  (Carrots for Michaelmas is one of my new favorite blogs, by the way!)

What happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Creepin' Crud

I had a terrible stomach bug all weekend, and only just managed to eat an actual meal and get rid of my fever last night.  I caught it, apparently, at Chief's day care center.

And Chief is perfectly healthy.

We're watching her extremely closely, and her Nana is in town this week visiting with her so she doesn't have to go to day care, but right now, we're chalking this up as a win for breastfeeding.

Posting is going to be light around here this week as I've barely touched the computer since Friday.  As an apology, please accept this photo of a smiling baby.

impossibly cute baby, personal photo

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, February 21, 2014

Oh, Internet... {41}

This may have been a short week, but boooooooooy am I tiiiiiiiiiiired.  I'm looking forward to a weekend spent snuggling with Chief!  Here's what happened on my internet this week:

View Along the Way is breaking all the rules!
image via CHEEZburger
Shayla at Northern Exposure is, as usual, much more eloquent about the emotions of new-motherhood than I could ever be.

The next Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith- er, J. K. Rowling- is being released in June!  Time to go pre-order...

A Pinch of Pixie Dust shared a look at the Club Level of the Polynesian Resort in WDW- we may have to think about spending a day or two at Club Level on our next trip...

This xkcd comic "Frequency" is a pretty cool animated .gif illustrating how often things happen.

What awesomeness happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Culinary Adventures: Slow-Cooker Chili

Are you following Our Geeky Adventure on Instagram?  If so, you're getting sneak peeks every once in a while of recipes that will make their way to the blog- like this one!

*personal photo*

Slow-cooker Chili

-1 lb ground turkey (or pork, or beef, or chicken, whatever moves you)
-salt and pepper
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp garlic powder
-olive oil
-1 small onion, diced
-2 15oz cans kidney beans, drained
-1 15oz can black beans, drained
-1 15oz can diced tomatoes (not drained!)
-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1C chicken stock (or beef stock, or vegetable stock)

-Season your ground meat with the salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic powder.  The amounts listed above are approximate- after you make this a few times, you'll come to figure out how much spice works for you.  I was going for a less spicy flavor here, so I held back a smidge- but don't be too shy, especially with a meat like turkey which can be pretty bland if you don't help it along.  Brown the meat in a pan with some olive oil.

-Put everything into your slow-cooker.  Again, the measurement for the chicken stock is approximate- add as much or as little as you want, depending on how soupy you like your chili.  Cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

-Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

What's your favorite chili recipe?

Much love,
The Geeks

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Disney History

Mr. Geek's favorite attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios // *personal photo*

Today I'm linking up over at Focused on the Magic for the Wordless Wednesday Disney blog hop!  Today's theme is Disney History.  Click the button below to join in on the blog hop!

Much love,
The Geeks

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fashion Adventures: Vested Interests

So here's another of those awkward outfit photo shoots in an effort to build my self-confidence with this squishy new body.  Are you excited yet?!?

Having my mom in town for the last 2 weeks of my maternity leave was really incredible.  It gave Chief the opportunity to get used to somebody else caring for her while we were out of the house and- most importantly- she was able to get used to eating from a bottle. 

There are plenty of resources out there that warn of the many ways you can ruin your nursing relationship- namely by introducing artificial nipples too early- but nobody ever mentions that your baby may not take a bottle!  The lactation consultant in the hospital said to wait until 4 weeks, then start pumping after feedings and introducing the bottle.  So at 4 weeks I started pumping and putting a few measly ounces in the freezer, and weekend that she turned 5 weeks we tried some bottles- one fresh, one thawed from frozen.  The first bottle was a struggle- I had to leave the room and Mr. Geek engaged in a little bit of infant combat to convince her that this bottle had something yummy inside, but after nearly an hour, she'd finished the 3 ounces.  The next day, we tried a slightly bigger bottle, and she was less reluctant.  Boom.  Bottle feeding.  Done.  I spent the next several weeks pumping as much as I could but not feeding her any of it- I needed to build up my supply!

And then I stumbled across an article about alternative ways to feed babies who refuse bottles.  Refuse bottles?  Chief would never refuse a bottle...I mean, it took her a while to get used to it, but she could do it...right?

Just before my mom got in town, I decided what the heck- let's do another bottle, just to prove that we can, so Mammaw can babysit for a couple of date nights while she's here.  So we sat down with the bottle and...

Nope.  Not happening.  She cried because she didn't want this thing that was decidedly not Mommy in her mouth.  She gagged on it every time we put it in her mouth.  She shook her head to pull it out of the way.  Then she cried because she was hungry- and cried and cried and cried... So I gave up and nursed her.  And then I cried and cried and cried.  How was I going to be able to go back to work now? 

"It's okay," said Mr. Geek in an effort to console me.  "She'll have to take it if she wants to eat- she'll learn."

Oh, great.  We were going to have to starve our daughter until she learned to accept the bottle.

I took to the internet and researched until my eyes hurt- and apparently Mr. Geek did, too, because the next day, when we tried again, he was suggesting things I'd read about.  We started before she actually got hungry, I sat in the other room, and Mr. Geek just suggested the tip of the nipple until she decided that yeah, okay, that's something I want to suck on.  It took about an hour, once again, but she finished a 5oz bottle and was full.

Oh.  Cool.  I had nothing to worry about.

We went on three date nights while Mammaw was here.  I felt a little guilty at first, making my house guest work for me as a free babysitter, but then she pointed out that this was kind of the whole point of her visit- to get some one-on-one time with her grandbaby!

This was my outfit for date night #2, when we went to see American Hustle- which was fantastic, by the way.  Oh, and I definitely didn't notice that I'd skipped the second button on this vest until I was taking it off that night.  Mommy brain!

earrings: gift
necklace: Francesca's
shirt & vest: thrifted
jeggings: Cato
watch: Kohls (same style, different color)
boots: Target

Tell me about your most recent date night!

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*

Monday, February 17, 2014


I mentioned last week in Chief's update that we make up songs for her, and I wanted to share some of our musical genius with you.  Prepare to be amazed.

The Fingers and Toes Song
Written by: Mrs. Geek
This is probably the best song I've ever written, as it actually more than one verse and doesn't just repeat over and over again. 

I love Chief
So so so so much
I could eat her fingers and toes
For breakfast and for lunch

Chief is the prettiest
Girl in the world
I'm so lucky
'Cause she's my little girl

The Monkey Song
Written by: Mrs. Geek
Until recently, Chief's cries would start with a little ah-ah-ah noise, which we said sounded like a monkey.  It was sort of a warning for us, so we could fix what was wrong before she started to full-out cry.  Sometimes, the best way to cheer her up is to imitate her grumpy sounds, which is how this song came about.

I am a monkey, and this is what I say-
ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah
I am a monkey, and I say it every day-
ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah
I like to bounce on Mommy's knees
ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah
Don't you wish you were as cute as me?
ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah

Go to Sleep
Written by: Mrs. Geek

Go to sleep, little turtle, go to sleep
Go to sleep, little turtle, go to sleep
Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep,
Go to sleep, little turtle, go to sleep

Replace turtle with puppy, kitty, monkey, fishie, chicken, etc

The Puppy Song
Written by: Mr. Geek

Puppy, puppy, yes you are
The cutest puppy in the whole wide world!
Puppy, puppy, yes you are
Not a puppy, but a little girl! 

I'm pretty sure we're Grammy contenders.  Just you wait.

What songs do you sing to your little one?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*

Friday, February 14, 2014

Oh, Internet...{40}

Oh, Internet... is back!  This week ended in epic amounts of snow, but the internet was full of epic amounts of awesomeness!  Check out some of my favorite things that happened on the internet this week:

I've never been sure about how to style chambray, but I love this look from Fizz and Frosting!

This reminded me of Karisa...Samuel L. Jackson was mistaken for Lawrence Fishburne and would not let the reporter get away with it!

Evanna Lynch wrote an op-ed about dealing with bullies and trolls on the internet; I read it twice.

Mr. Geek loves House of Cards on Netflix, but he wasn't so impressed with the UK program it was inspired by.  Perhaps it's because they are two entirely different shows, in the way that Americans and Britons are two entirely different peoples.

What awesome things happened on your internet this week?

Much love,
The Geeks

PS Happy St. Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fashion Adventures: Awkward

My body isn't my body anymore.  It hasn't been for about a year now.

My body isn't shaped the same as it used to be, it weighs more than it used to, it doesn't look the same as it used to.  And it probably never will.  I'm still getting used to this idea and learning how to deal with it.

But it also doesn't entirely belong to me anymore, either- and it hasn't since I got pregnant.

I haven't been able to eat or drink anything without first considering how it would affect the baby.  I wasn't able to sleep on my back or on my stomach in the latter half of the pregnancy.  I wake up at 4am, and I interrupt my workday several times, and I stay up until nearly 11pm, so that I can pump milk for her to have at daycare every day.  I don't sleep very deeply, and at the slightest hint of an unhappy noise, I'm leaping out of bed to go comfort her.  If she wants to be held- since she's not really a huge fan of being worn in a sling- I can't focus on anything else.  Literally my entire life revolves around Chief, and my body is dedicated to her every whim.

And I love it!

The milk I produce grooms her developing immune system, and I can anticipate when she'll be hungry based on how full I feel.  Holding her close can regulate her body temperature, and my deep, slow breathing eases her into sleep.  I can hear even the quietest of frustrated grunts from the opposite end of the house, and I can tell the difference between "I'm hungry" and "Hold me" and "I'm tired but I don't want to go to sleep."  If you're looking for proof of the existence of God, you can find it in the fact that a mother's body is designed to care for her child- designed, on purpose, not developed by chance.  It's absolutely incredible!

But as much as I love that my body isn't mine anymore, it's still hard to get used to the fact that it doesn't look like my body anymore.  I'm just so...awkward.  The way I walk, the way my clothes fit, the way I look when standing still.  Awkward awkward awkward.

I took these photos not to show off my incredible fashion sense (ha!) but rather to challenge myself to take pictures of myself and post them on the internet, where people can see.  I'm working on changing this body to look a bit more like it used to look, but it's a slow process, and I need to come to terms with what I have.  So you're going to be seeing more outfit photos from me in this awkward, lumpy body, devoid of the cutesy baby bump, because this is me, and I want to share that with you.  And maybe, if I challenge myself to look good for the internet, I might actually feel good about how I look.

So here goes.  Don't laugh too loud at me, okay?


Floral top: LC Lauren Conrad via Kohls
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Skirt: H&M
Tights: Target
Shoes: Converse Chuck Taylors via Off Broadway Shoes
Watch: Kohls
Earrings: gift

This was my body at 10 weeks post-partum.  I notice very, very subtle changes each week- the first month or so the changes were very pronounced, but now not so much.  Since I've been back at work, I've noticed my legs starting to gain more definition again with all the walking I have to do, but that's about the only difference.  I still have an uncomfortable amount of pudge that will take a while to get rid of.  I do a lot of cooking- we only eat out (or order out) once a week- and I'm trying to keep it mostly healthy, but I do make a lot of pasta and I do have a very, very sweet tooth.  Because I'm breastfeeding, I have an insatiable appetite- I eat seconds at every meal (even breakfast!) and dessert after dinner and snacks during the day and I'm still  hungry all the time.  Couple this with the fact that I have literally no time to properly work out and I feel very much like a cow- a round, pudgy creature that eats all the time and gets hooked up to a machine to be milked.


But when the weather gets warmer, I'll take Chief on more walks outside.  And I'm slowly working more protein into my diet as I discover more easy, quick-fix dinners beyond just pasta dishes.  And I know I can get that sweet tooth under control if I just try a little harder...

My wonderful, amazing husband tells me I'm beautiful every day.  I think, one day soon, I may believe him.

How did you adjust to your new body after the baby arrived?  How quickly did you reach your target weight?  I'm trying not to set a target weight, but rather a target shape- I know what I want to look like, and the numbers matter less.  What was your goal for your post-pregnancy body?  How did you achieve it?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Disney Love

our wedding rings and a honeymoon button // personal photo

Today I'm linking up over at Focused on the Magic for the Wordless Wednesday Disney blog hop!  Today's theme is Disney Love.  Click the button below to join in on the blog hop!

Much love,
The Geeks

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Currently, Chief is... {3 months}

Oops, another baby post.  Sorry I'm not sorry!

I don't want to do a month-to-month (or even week-to-week) update on Chief's development because I feel like that would be a bit of an overload, but every three months seems reasonable, so that those who are curious can watch her grow.  I've decided to write them in the style of Currently... posts (or Life Lately, depending on who you read) that are so popular on these here interwebs.  Sound good to you?

1 day old
Growing quickly!  She was born at 7lb 12oz and the day after we got home from the hospital (3 days old) she weighed in at just 7lb even.  Even though I knew it was normal for newborns to lose weight before the milk comes in, I was still pretty worried- especially since the doctor asked us to come back 2 days later for another weigh-in.  What if I couldn't get her to gain fast enough?  What if she kept losing?  I wanted to avoid formula more than anything (and I still do) so we nursed pretty much non-stop for the next couple of days.  It worked- she gained over a pound in those 2 days!  At her 2 month check-up, she weighed 12lb 3oz and was a chunky little thing.  Sometime in the past month, she got much taller (longer?) so the pudge is gone from around her belly, but she still has the most adorable chubby legs.  Right now, she's wearing Carter's brand 3-6 months, though some 3 month clothes in this brand still fit (mainly just sweaters and onesies).  In other brands, like First Moments and Disney, she's in the 6 month size, which seems so surreal- she is not 6 months old, don't wish her away like that!  Her head is freaking huge- because of that big ol' brain ;) - so no hat, no matter the size, will fit comfortably, and besides, she hates things on her head anyway.  I try to put her in hooded jackets when we go out to keep her warm, but she thrashes about until the hood falls off (or cries if it won't).  I'm told I was equally anti-hat when I was little.

Eating exclusively breast milk!  I have to say I'm really proud of myself for doing this, especially now that I'm back at work.  It means waking up at 4am to pump, as well as pumping twice during the work day, but it's so worth it.  I'm convinced that breastfeeding is the reason Chief hasn't gotten sick yet, though I realize that will change now that she's in daycare and surrounded by other kids with other germs.  But for right now, the worst that has bothered her is some gas (her farts are poisonous, I swear, and that's probably because I haven't entirely cut out dairy from my diet...) and the occasional stuffy nose, but no fevers, no vomiting, no ear infections.  She's at daycare from about 6:45 in the morning until 4:30 or so in the afternoon (depending on when I'm able to leave work, how bad traffic is, and if I need to run an errand first) and I send 4 5oz bottles with her.  So far, there is always one bottle left over when I pick her up- even when I was as late as 5:30.  Plus, she nurses in the morning at about 5:30, as soon as we get home in the afternoon (for comfort more than anything- to say, "Hello, I missed you!"), and once or twice more at night- dinner, and then to put her to sleep.  We call her our little hobbit because she eats on a similar schedule- breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper...

Talking all the time!  In the beginning, her cries would start with her monkey noise- "ah-ah-ah-"- which was our cue to scoop her up before she made it to full-on crying.  Her hungry or distressed cry reminded us of a particularly angry cat, so now, if we're describing how mad she gets about things, "cat-levels of angry" is the absolute worst.  Around 1 month old, she started cooing- she would kick her legs, start panting, build up all this energy, and then burst out into an "Oooooooooooh!"  Around 2 months, she started to really imitate noises we make.  My favorite game is to prop her up on my knees and say "I looooooooooooooooooooooove you," throwing my head back on the word "love" and over-exaggerating my facial expressions.  She responds with, "Arr, Aaaaaah, Ooooh!" and it really sounds like she's trying to repeat what I said!  She likes to talk to the toys on her play mat and dangling from her car seat, as well as anybody who talks to her!

Making facial expressions that look exactly like her daddy!  She's always been very expressive, but lately she's been furrowing those little eyebrows as if to say, "Mom, you're embarrassing me," if I'm trying too hard to be silly.  And her smiles- oh, her smiles!  After the first week or so, she would smile in her sleep.  Her little mouth would make sucking motions, and then she'd smile- she was dreaming about nursing!  About a month later, she would start smiling while she was awake as she was nursing.  The first time, she was eating and then suddenly stopped and let out the loudest, smelliest fart.  I started laughing and said, "Good one, baby girl!"  She looked up at me out of the corner of her eye and smiled so wide that milk dribbled out of the corner of her mouth.  This made me laugh more, and she tilted her head back to look up at me properly, smiled bigger, and cooed loudly.  Soon, she was smiling any time you smiled at her, so all three of us have been walking around with big goofy grins on our faces almost non-stop.  Now she smiles all the time, unprompted- at her toys, at strangers, at the other kids at daycare.  Her "report card" always says that her "overall disposition" is cheerful!  And she giggles!  Sometimes just in response to whatever silly noises we're making, but recently she's started giggling when we tickle her.  At first it was accidental- I was putting her clothes on, and as I was guiding her arm into a sleeve, she started to make this noise like a cough.  "Are you okay?" I asked, as I moved on to the other sleeve.  And then I realized- she was smiling!  That little splutter was a giggle, every time my fingers brushed the skin on her side and under her arm.  It's kind of an involuntary giggle- and really more like a chuckle, as it sounds different from her "Mommy is being silly" laughter- and she almost looks confused as to why she feels ticklish, but she keeps smiling when I stop and looks at me like, "Hey, do that again!"  Of course, she's not always happy.  When she's sad- especially if she's tired- her little bottom lip curls down into a perfectly pathetic expression of sadness that makes us want to hug her closer and fix whatever is wrong immediately (which, of course, is the point).  Her frown is almost comical because it's so exaggerated, but I move like lightning to make it go away.

Listening to Mommy and Daddy make up the silliest songs!  She loves listening to music of any kind.  On the way home from the hospital, she hated being strapped into a car seat instead of being held, but Mr. Geek turned on some Deadmau5 and the thumping bass calmed her down.  She still doesn't like the car seat, but sometimes if I sing along to the radio- specifically an intense rock ballad- she'll stop crying, though she still looks annoyed.  (Side note: I have a mirror that goes on the head rest of the seat her car seat is strapped into, so I can see her reflection in my rear-view mirror.  She has yet to make eye contact with me in that mirror, but being able to see her face even though she's turned backwards is so nice- I can see if she's sleeping, or if she's gearing up for a nice big cry.  There's not much I can do physically to calm her down since I have to focus on driving, but being able to see her helps ease my mind a bit.)  Once, while I was pregnant, I was listening to my Disney music playlist and "Once Upon a Dream" came on.  As I sang along, I realized it could work as a lullaby:

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you, that gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
And I know it's true that visions are seldom all the seem
But if I know you, I know what you'll do-
You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream

Even though we hadn't yet met properly, I knew Chief already, before she was born.  I'd seen her picture, I'd felt her move, and she even seemed to be projecting her personality while in the womb.  I knew her, even though I didn't know her yet, and I knew she would love me when she arrived.  I think it's an even sweeter interpretation than the romantic one :)

I've been singing this to Chief to calm her down since our very first night together- along with "So This is Love", "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "The Rainbow Connection", and "When You Wish Upon a Star".  We'll dance and twirl around the living room as I sing to her, and eventually she'll lay her head on my shoulder and fall asleep.  Sometimes, I catch Mr. Geek humming these songs to himself as he's getting dressed or doing the dishes.  Chief loves sitting in the congregation at church when everyone is singing- she's even started singing along!  If she's fussy or needs to eat, we sit in the cry room, but it's much harder for Mr. Geek and me to pay attention in there, so if she's quiet and in a good mood, we prefer to sit in the sanctuary.

Sleeping through the night, almost every night since she turned 1 month old!  She had been sleeping in her pack-n-play at the foot of our bed so it was easier to grab her if she woke up.  During the first month, she would sleep in 4-hour stretches at night, which meant only one diaper change and feeding at the middle of the night most nights.  Sometimes it would take forever to get her to fall asleep initially; we would nurse for almost 3 hours straight, pausing for a diaper change every now and then, but then latching right back on.  Those first couple of weeks, she needed a light on to fall asleep- first the lamp on Mr. Geek's bedside table, but then we started using just the light in the closet with the door just cracked open.  Eventually, she'd let us turn off all the lights and sleep for a full 8 hours.  She still needs to nurse to fall asleep, but it doesn't take nearly as long.  It's kind of unpredictable when she'll fall asleep, so we have to be patient.  Sometimes it's 9:00; sometimes it's 11.  Most often, she literally falls asleep with my nipple in her mouth, so I have to slowly and carefully wipe up the dribble and re-hook my tank top, then sit there holding her for at least 20 minutes to make sure she's truly asleep before lying her in her bed.  The week before I went back to work, we started putting her to bed in her crib in the nursery.  I was convinced we needed the time to "practice" and that she'd be scared waking up in her room alone, but there were only a couple of nights that she woke up and wanted to nurse.  Now, even if she does wake up in the middle of the night, she's not upset; she'll talk to herself, suck on her hand, kick her feet, and fall back asleep.  For example- Friday night, she fell asleep at 9:00, and then I got in bed at 10.  At almost 8:00 Saturday morning, I woke up after an incredibly restful night's sleep and then freaked out- did I not hear her crying?  Or worse- was something wrong so she couldn't cry?  I ran into her room, calling her name- and she smiled at me.  She was cooing and squirming, but not upset.  I don't know how long she'd been awake, but she wasn't hungry or uncomfortable.  Amazing!  She's very active at daycare, and she doesn't nap very well with all the other kids around, so I think that's why she falls asleep so easily now.

Loving people who smile at her and talk to her; music; being held over your shoulder so she can look around; mirrors; her stuffed elephant named Ellie; kicking her feet a million miles an hour; the silver stars on the wall in her room; having her feet tickled; the zebra on her bouncy chair; being tossed in the air by her daddy; being bounced on your knee; blowing spit bubbles; sucking on her entire fist, not just her thumb; splashing in the bath tub.

Hating being strapped into the car seat; being swaddled, unless her arms are free; sitting in a car or stroller that isn't moving very fast; being held in the cradle position (unless she's nursing, obviously); getting out of the bath tub; being worn in a sling (until she falls asleep).  She used to hate putting on or taking off sleeves, but now she doesn't complain much when she's being dressed- unless we're putting on or taking off a jacket, which still bugs her, for some reason.  She also used to absolutely despise having her diaper changed, but after the first few weeks, she got used to it, and now I think she really enjoys the opportunity to have a conversation with whomever is changing her.

So that's a little snapshot of the past 3 months!  How has life been for your little one lately?

Much love,
The Geeks

*all photos personal*

Monday, February 10, 2014

Culinary Adventures: Beef-and-whatever-is-in-your-fridge Stew

I've made this beef stew twice now, and both times have been slightly different, depending on what veggies I had on hand in the refrigerator and freezer.  I guess that makes this more of a method than a recipe, since you can substitute in whatever you want; the treatment of the beef is the only thing that stays the same.

The second time I made this- which is when I took pictures for this post- it tasted...horrible.  There's no way around it.

So why am I sharing it with you, if it's horrible?

Because it's not the recipe's fault that it tasted bad, it's my fault.  The very last step is to REDUCE THE HEAT and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours; I forgot the reducing the heat part.  OOPS.  This resulted in a thick, burnt mess at the bottom of the pan, and dry meat, and an overall charred taste.

But you know what?  If I hadn't forgotten the heat-lowering bit, this would've tasted really, really good- I'm sure of it.  So I'm going to share the pictures and the steps with you, and encourage you to try it at home (and, you know, do it right).  And then come tell me what veggies you add to your rendition!

Beef-and-whatever-is-in-your-fridge Stew
inspired by Giada De Laurentiis

-1 bottle red wine (I use merlot)
-1lb cubed stew beef
-olive oil
-2 slices of bacon, sliced into lardons
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1C shredded carrots (I had a bag of shredded carrots, but you could also roughly chop some whole carrots)
-4 medium red potatoes, quartered
-1 package frozen pearl onions in cream sauce
-1 (12oz) bag frozen green beans
-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
-4C beef broth

-Place the cubed beef in a glass baking dish and pour in the entire bottle of wine.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours, then turn all the pieces over and marinate for another 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the beef from the pan and pat dry on some paper towels; reserve the wine.

-Season the meat on all sides with salt and pepper.  Put some olive oil in a heavy pot- preferably a dutch oven- over medium-high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, then remove from the pot.

 -Add the bacon and cook until the fat starts to render and it starts to crisp.

-Add the garlic and cook until it starts to smell really good and the bacon finishes crisping up.

-Add all the veggies and stir it up for a few minutes.

-Pour in the reserved wine and the beef broth and stir- you should have a big pot of purple witch's brew, minus the eye of newt.  Bring to a boil, then REDUCE THE HEAT and simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours with the lid on.

We rescued all the bits that weren't burnt and served it with a slice of French bread.  If you like your stew looser, simmer for less time and you'll have more broth.

And, obviously, don't burn yours.

Do you have a favorite winter stew recipe?

Much love,
The Geeks

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chief's Birth Story: Lessons Learned

Let me start by saying that we were able to deliver Chief safely, with no major health complications for her or me.  That means that the birth was successful, as far as we're concerned.

However, I recognize that things may have gone a bit smoother if we had been on our game a bit more.  If we'd had a doula, she could have helped keep us on track to better manage labor and respond to the doctor's suggestions.  At the same time, the fact that labor started with my water breaking sort of changes things; a clock started the moment that happened, and the longer time went on, the more everyone worried about infection.  Also, it's very possible that even if we had done things differently, we would have ended up with the same result- a very long labor and a very big tear.

In any case, here are things we maybe would do differently if we could do it all over again:

We probably went to the hospital too early.  The doctor had said to call after contractions were 5 minutes apart for 2 hours; we waited 4 hours.  Contractions were becoming more intense and I threw up, which meant I'd hit the physical signals that labor was progressing, but mentally and emotionally I was still in early labor.  I'm pretty sure that the car ride to the hospital is what caused my contractions to slow back down, stalling progress.

I should have eaten more, both at home and once we got to the hospital.  We had planned to bring a lunchbox full of Gatorade and snacks "for Mr. Geek," so he could sneak them to me when no one was looking- they won't let you eat once you get to the hospital in case you need to have surgery.  I didn't necessarily have an appetite at all once labor started, but I should have tried to eat more than just that tiny cup of yogurt early Saturday morning.  Throughout the pregnancy, I had been drinking a high-protein Ensure shake every morning for breakfast when morning sickness made solid food unappealing; I should have sipped on one in addition to the water I was chugging.  Spoonfulls of peanut butter, string cheese, crackers...any of these would have been a good idea.  More food would definitely have meant more throwing up, but in the meantime, it would have kept me fueled up longer, which may have prevented my need for an epidural.

I should have said no to the pitocin, or at least asked them to wait another hour or so.  I realize I was basically not progressing at all, and Mr. Geek was probably right when he said that they may have decided to just go for the c-section if we went much longer without progress, but the super intense contractions caused by the pitocin are what ultimately sent me into I-can't-do-this territory so quickly.

I shouldn't have asked for the epidural.  This is the big one.  Our team of nurses was incredible- when I told them I wanted to do this drug-free at the very beginning, they truly took that to heart and never once mentioned the epidural.  Once I got to the "I just want to die!" stage, I was kind of hoping that, like the pitocin, someone was going to say, "You know, you can have an epidural if you want..." and then if I'd accepted, I could just blame it on them for offering, instead of my own weakness.  But they never did suggest it- I had to ask for it, it had to be my idea.  At midnight, when my exam revealed that I was at 8cm, I should have changed my mind and not asked for the epidural.  I know my reasoning was that I felt like I was going to hyperventilate or pass out, but it was at least 2 hours after I said that to Mr. Geek before I even received the epidural, and I didn't do either.  Although I could still feel the contractions with the epidural, I couldn't necessarily feel Chief's progress.  Had I retained all sensation, I could have pushed more effectively and perhaps prevented myself from tearing quite so bad.

However, it took 4 more hours for me to reach 10cm after I asked for the epidural at midnight.  I was finally able to sleep, if only for a couple of hours, and I believe that rest is what finally opened me up all the way.  Without the epidural, it may have taken even longer to reach that point- which would mean fighting the urge to push for several more hours.  While I lasted about 2 more hours without passing out or hyperventilating, I may not have been able to last 5 or 6.  I'm willing to bet they would have insisted on surgery if I had passed out before it was time to push.  (But then again, maybe they wouldn't have...)  I do believe I made the right decision in asking for the epidural, but that doesn't prevent me from feeling somewhat like a failure.  Every time I think about it, I have to remind myself that Chief got here safely, and that's all that matters.

Would you have done anything differently with your first birth experience?  Did lessons from your first labor help you improve the experience the next time around?

Much love,
The Geeks

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chief's Birth Story, Part 3

Read part 2 here

At midnight, I asked the nurse for an epidural.

The details of the next couple of hours are a little fuzzy because of how tired I was and how unbearable the contractions were, but this is what I think happened:

I'm pretty sure the doctor had to order the epidural, because I remember her coming to see me again.  The nurse briefed her on our situation and our decision, and she called up the anesthesiologist to order the drugs.  I'm not sure how long it took for him to get there, but I don't think the needle went into my back until after 1AM.

When he did show up, I had to answer some questions, and I may have had to sign something but I could be making that part up.  The nurse had me undo my gown and sit on the edge of the bed with my legs draped over the side.  She held my hands and told me to relax, and that it was very important that I not move until after it was over.

"Okay.  Can we wait until this contraction passes?" I asked through gritted teeth.

"Honey, this is going to take a while- a few contractions, probably."

"Ah.  Okay."  (In my head all I could think was "Oh shit oh shit oh shit...")

As I had been doing all day, I concentrated on relaxing my entire body completely so that I wouldn't move.  I felt the needle go in- it hurt, but the contractions hurt worse, so I kept breathing and focused on not moving.  

Finally, I was allowed to move again, so I put my legs back on the bed- I would not be getting up until after Chief was born.  I asked the nurse how long the pain relief would last, and she said it's different for each person.  Mr. Geek made a joke about my being a lightweight- something about it only takes one drink to get me drunk...which, yeah, it's true...but we were all so tired that nobody laughed.  I told him it was because his joke wasn't funny, but my mom thought that maybe I didn't get it- "He means that you're a lightweight, honey."

Thanks, Mom.

(We were all kind of out of it at this point.)

The drugs finally kicked in, and my legs and feet started to tingle.  The nurse explained that I wouldn't lose all sensation in my lower half, just the pain.  I could feel her poking my feet, and I could feel the next contraction, but it didn't hurt!  She had me lay down and ordered me to go to sleep- literally, she said, "Okay, Mom, I'm ordering you to go to sleep now."  Mr. Geek didn't need to be told twice- he plopped into the chair next to my bed and conked out.  As always, he started to snore before I fell asleep and I thought it might keep me up.  But I worked through my relaxation exercises again, relaxing my body and trying to relax my mind...and this time, it worked!  The last time I looked at the clock, it said 2AM.  My mom hunkered down in another chair but never fell asleep, and my MIL went out into the waiting room to lay down on a couch.

The next thing I knew, it was 4AM and our nurse was bustling around our room, turning on lights and saying, "Good morning!"  She took a look at the fetal monitor to confirm that Chief was doing just fine, then checked me out one last time.

"It's time to have a baby!" she declared.  My mom rushed out to grab my MIL and Mr. Geek ran to our in-room bathroom to brush his teeth, and then the whole team got into position.  The bed was raised so I was sitting upright, and the nurse instructed my mom and Mr. Geek to each grab one of my legs and pull them up so I could grab the backs of my knees.  When the nurse said "push," I was to pull my legs back as far as I could, tuck my chin to my chest, and hold my breath.  She would then count to 10, and then it was over and I could breathe until the next contraction.  While my team (my mom, MIL, and husband) helped me push, the nurse was massaging my perineum with baby shampoo to try and prevent tearing.  I was hooked up to the monitor so they could see when contractions started, but I could also feel them, and before the nurse had a chance to say "Push!" I was telling everyone "Okay, here's another one!"  The baby was also being monitored the whole time, and her heart rate would drop with each contraction, then rise again- which was normal.

The nurse had said that the doctor wouldn't be called in until the last possible minute- "The baby is going to show up right after the doctor!"  So when my doctor walked in after about an hour of pushing, I was so excited- we were almost done!

Only, we weren't almost done.  The nurse had called the doctor in because I was bleeding a lot, apparently.  More than she was comfortable with.  The doctor poked around and agreed that yeah, it was a lot of blood, and I was tearing, but it was probably going to be okay.  She also put her hands on Chief and discovered that the cord was wrapped around her arm- she said she thought that maybe Chief was squeezing it with every contraction, hence the drastic dip in heart rate we were seeing.  But most importantly, she noticed that Chief was face up!  Of course, my back had been hurting the entire time, but for some reason it never clicked that I was experiencing "back labor."  If any of us had made the connection, I would have made an effort to spin her by getting on my knees more often, but by the time the doctor mentioned it, we were beyond the position-switching phase. 

I pushed for almost 3 hours, and finally, at 6:50AM on Sunday, November 10, Chief was born.  Our little family had worked together for 32 hours to bring her into the world

She didn't quite cry when she took her first breath; she kind of sputtered, like a car that won't start.  I told Mr. Geek she sounded like a monkey- "ah-ah-ah-ah"- and we both chuckled, but as the nurses hurried her over to the scale they snapped at us that this was NOT a good sound to hear, so we shut up.  As it turns out, despite my nurse's best efforts, I tore pretty badly- they called it a third-degree tear, with fourth being the worst?  Anyway, the doctor was stitching me up, so I couldn't hold Chief until she was done.  They weighed her- 7lbs 12oz- suctioned out her lungs, and cleaned her off, and then finally the doctor was done with me.

photo via my mom
 "Give her to me!" I shouted (well, I raised my voice slightly.  I wasn't quite capable of shouting.) so someone pressed the button on my bed to lift me up into a completely upright position.  They brought her to me and placed her in my arms, and then...the edges of my vision started to turn black.  All the noise in the room seemed to fade and then go out entirely.  I got really cold all of a sudden.

"I can't hear anything," I said, and I thought I said it loudly.  Nobody seemed to be paying attention to me- nurses were writing down Chief's stats and Apgar score.  (9, by the way.)  "I can't see," I whispered.  I looked down at Chief- I was going to drop her, I knew it.  I was going to pass out.  Why wasn't anyone paying attention?

I heard my name vaguely off to my left- it was my nurse.  Someone grabbed Chief from me and handed her to my MIL as my vision disappeared entirely.  My bed was lowered again so I was completely flat, and my vision came back.

"Talk to me," the nurse demanded.

"Hi," I said weakly.

All that was running through my head was that I wanted to try to nurse Chief.  I wanted us to have that oh-so-important skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible- it was supposed to be immediately; would this delay affect our bonding?  Would our relationship suffer because I wasn't yet able to hold her?

So long as I was laying flat, I was okay, so my nurse and doctor conferred on my stats.  One of the things they needed to record was how much blood I lost.  The doctor initially said 3- 300mL- but my nurse said, "I don't know, she bled a lot before you showed up...I think it's more of a 4 or 5..." so they agreed to record a 4 for that category.

"Is that bad?" I asked.

"Five or less is normal," my nurse explained, "anything more than that is considered too much."

They told me I needed to eat, and then I could hold Chief.  I picked up my in-room phone and called the cafeteria to order a stack of pancakes and an orange juice.  I watched as the nurses passed Chief to her dad, her grandmothers.  I was still lying flat on my back when my breakfast arrived, so somebody raised my bed again to sit me up so I could eat, but I passed out again, so they laid me back down.  I was in a pickle; I had to eat, but to eat, I had to sit up, but sitting up made me faint, so I needed to eat so I wouldn't faint. I ended up tearing a pancake into tiny bits that I could nibble on while lying flat, and after a while I was able to lift my bed to a very slight incline so I could sip my juice and finally, finally hold my daughter.  She latched on immediately- it was much easier than I thought it would be- and I stroked her hair as she nursed for the very first time, amazed at how beautiful she was.  Mr. Geek fed me the rest of my pancakes as I held her, and eventually I was able to sit up straight without fainting.

Our moms went home to shower and take a nap, and another nurse came in to transfer us to our recovery room.  A second bed was wheeled in, and the nurse told me to climb into it.

"Um, I can't feel my legs," I explained as I handed Chief to Mr. Geek.

"Still?" she asked, incredulous.

"Still," I confirmed.  She lifted my ankles and moved my legs onto the other bed.

"Now just wriggle your shoulders to get your upper body moved over."

I was kind of surprised that she wasn't really helping me, but I guess she had a lot of paperwork to look over.  It was awkward, but I got myself into the other bed, and Mr. Geek piled all my stuff onto the foot of the bed after he handed Chief back to me.  I was able to hold her as we were wheeled down the hall towards the recovery wing and into our new room.  She turned her face towards me and actually latched on over my gown.

"I'm sorry, baby," I laughed.  "Mommy can't get naked here in the hall!"  As soon as we got into our new room, I pulled down my gown so she could nurse properly.  It really did come naturally to her; I had done a lot of reading about techniques to encourage a good latch and ways to hold her, but for the most part, she did it all herself.  It did hurt a little- especially on the left side, and she would grab at the IV tubes on my left hand, which complicated things more- but we were really good at it from the very beginning.  We went to a class the next day with other brand new moms to see if I could get some advice that could make it less painful, but the LC said we were doing everything right- she just had a very small mouth and I apparently have big nipples.

I think Chief could probably have been released the next morning- she passed all her tests with flying colors- but I definitely could not.  Before we were transferred to the recovery room, they took some blood from me to test my h&h levels (I don't remember what that stands for).  After I fainted for the second time, my doctor told my nurse to amend her report and put my blood loss level as a 5 (500mL).

When I got to the recovery room, I got a phone call from my doctor.  She explained that my h&h levels were right on the borderline of what is considered safe or normal; combine that with the fact that I lost the maximum amount of blood that would be considered normal for a vaginal birth, and she felt it would be beneficial for me to receive 2 units of blood.  Because I wasn't quite over the limit, she was going to leave it up to me to decide- but she highly recommended it.  I felt like crap, and Mr. Geek kept telling me I was white as a sheet, so I agreed to the transfusion.  I had more things to sign and information to read, but eventually, two units of blood were brought to my room and pumped into me through the IV in my hand.  I am so, so glad I agreed to this, as it did wonders to brighten me back up- more so than just eating would have done.  (Later, Mr. Geek told me that if I hadn't said yes, he would have said yes for me- he was really worried about me.)  But that wasn't the only problem I had...

(I warned you there would be talk of bodily functions in this birth story.  So just...yeah.  You were definitely warned.)

I couldn't pee.

All of my lady-bits were super swollen from the almost 3 hours of pushing, plus I had a pretty long tear that was stitched up and trying to heal, and though I was readily accepting any pain pills they would throw at me, going to the bathroom was uncomfortable, to say the least.  Hell, sitting down was uncomfortable, but I couldn't stand for too long because I was still woozy, and walking was almost out of the question.  (The breastfeeding class was just 2 doors down from my room, and I pushed Chief's little bed-cart to it on my own, but that short distance was enough to leave me winded.)

Before being transferred to my recovery room, I was catheterized- which was fine, because the epidural hadn't yet worn off so I couldn't feel it, and obviously couldn't walk to the bathroom anyway.  But once I fully regained feeling in my lower half, I did NOT want that damn catheter again.  My bladder didn't feel full at any point that day- I never felt like I needed to pee- but I was dragged to the bathroom anyway.  I don't know how many times I tried to use the bathroom that day, but nighttime rolled around and I still couldn't go, so they brought back the catheter again.  Apparently that brought out like a gallon of pee or something- filled the whole damn bag immediately- but I never felt a full bladder in the first place.  They taped another bag to my leg so I could, in theory, get out of bed and walk around, but that just wasn't going to happen.  This meant that in the middle of the night, when both grandmas were at home and the nurses were leaving us alone, Mr. Geek had to change a diaper.

For the first time in his life.

"I have no idea what I'm doing," he announced helplessly after he un-swaddled her.  I walked him through the steps- put the new diaper underneath her before you take off the old; wipe from front to back; pull the straps tight; wash your hands.  He did a fantastic job- the first of many in his role as Official Diaper Changer- and then handed her to me to nurse.

The next day seemed nearly as hopeless as the first on the pee front.  At one point, I convinced the nurses to let me take a hot shower- something I hadn't done in 3 days!- in the hopes that it would relax me enough to let things work properly, and they agreed, so long as someone stood in there with me so I didn't fall.  I voted for Mr. Geek to have that responsibility, so he stood just outside the shower stall and helped me scrub the grime off my body.  I started to cry as I ran my hands over my flabby belly covered in disgusting stretch marks; I fell like I'd fallen apart and been re-assembled in the wrong order.  My body wasn't my body anymore- it didn't look the same, it didn't work properly.  I just wanted to go home and curl up in a warm bed in Mr. Geek's arms with our baby in mine.  He wrapped me in a towel and held me close, just as he had a couple of days ago as we danced our way through labor.

"Your body is amazing," he told me.  "You just did something incredible- and incredibly hard.  You've got to give yourself time to recover, it won't happen over night.  It's going to be okay- I'm going to help you."

I calmed down, and eventually he left me alone to try and make things work again.  The shower helped some- I was able to pee!  Thank heavens!- but apparently not enough, as the nurses were not satisfied with the amount.  They threatened me with the dreaded catheter again but, eventually, I was finally able to fill the damn measuring cup.  The only thing standing between me and discharge papers now was the h&h levels in my blood.

Chief slept for 3 whole hours in a row that night- and would have slept longer, but a nurse came in just before 4 in the morning, turning on all the lights, to take blood from me.  A few hours later, the results were in- I was good to go!  My doctor told me to keep taking my pre-natal vitamins, an iron supplement, ibuprofen for the pain, and a stool softener and/or laxative- because, yeah, there was something else I hadn't done yet... I wasn't allowed to drive for a whole week, and I was to come in for a check-up at 6 weeks.  Time to go home!

photo via my mom
 And so ends the story part of the birth story.  Tomorrow I'm going to do a brief run-down of what went "wrong"- or at least what we would do differently if we could do it over again.  I realize today's portion of the story went into over-share territory, but I thought it was important to talk about this stuff- nobody ever tells you that you might not be able to pee after you give birth!  I may not have felt so helpless had I known ahead of time what recovery would entail, so I hope this information is helpful to some other new mom out there.

How long was your labor?  Did you run into any hiccups during your recovery?

Much love,
The Geeks

Read our lessons learned here

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chief's Birth Story, Part 2

Read Part 1 here

Although I was too hot to wear a coat when we got in the car, I was starting to shiver before we arrived at the hospital.  Mr. Geek cranked up the heat in the car to make it more comfortable, but the temperature wasn't the only problem.  After just 15 minutes in the car, my contractions had started to slow down.  (Remember, we left the house after 4 hours of contractions that were consistently 5 minutes apart.)  My back was still aching during contractions, they were still slightly more intense than they'd been at the beginning, and I was still able to talk through them, but it felt good to moan.

Because it was a Saturday, the hospital was not running it's complementary valet parking service, but luckily we had brought a valet with us!  Mr Geek and I grabbed our bags and jumped out of the car, and his mom grabbed the keys from him as we headed straight to the maternity ward.  Both moms parked both cars and joined us once we'd been admitted into our labor & delivery room.

Check-in seemed to take forever.  I signed in, handed over ID and insurance cards, and we were shown to the triage room.  The first words out of my mouth were, of course, "Where's the bathroom?" so I could have the next contraction on the toilet before changing into the awkward hospital robe.  I finally hobbled over to the bed- no more quick movements for me- and answered about a million questions about my medical history and specifics of the pregnancy.  And then- the dreaded pelvic exam.  The bane of my existence.  Mr. Geek asked the nurse to wait until my current contraction passed, and she rolled her eyes a bit, but waited.

It was about 9am.  I was 4cm- and that was a generous estimation.  Ten hours of labor and pretty much no progress?  I was crestfallen.  Add to that the fact that contractions had slowed way, way down- 10 or 15-minute intervals, no longer predictable- and I was convinced we'd be sent home to wait some more.  The fact that my water had been broken the whole time must have trumped the lack of progress, however, because we were indeed shown to a spacious labor and delivery room which would be our home for the rest of the day.  The nurse asked if we had a birth plan, but we hadn't written one out specifically- it was on my list of things to do on Saturday since I didn't think I'd be in labor yet!  We had taken a tour of the hospital earlier and we knew that they were very open to the natural birthing experience, so everything that would have been in our plan was standard practice anyway- give us time to discuss before any decisions were made about anything, immediate skin-to-skin contact with Chief before the vitamin K shots and eye drops, keep Chief in our recovery room instead of the nursery.  We weren't completely anti-drugs, we just wanted the opportunity to discuss and decide whether or not we believed they were necessary before they gave me anything.  The nurse said that none of these requests were out of the ordinary and that they were excited to help Chief arrive!

I was given a hep lock in case an IV would be necessary later, and they momentarily strapped on the fetal and contraction monitors to check and make sure everything was fine.  Once everyone was satisfied that there were no problems, we were left alone, with the promise that someone would be in to check on us every hour or so.  That meant it was time to get comfortable- or as comfortable as possible, anyway- and turn on the TV!

We watched Food Network until it was time for football later that afternoon- I had complete control over the remote, obviously.  Contractions gradually made it back to the frequency and consistency that they'd been at home, but pelvic exams were still showing little-to-no progress which was very frustrating.  The afternoon passed slowly- time was passing in contractions, not minutes.  Mr. Geek was very good about having me change positions often and walk around the room; I had the freedom to walk the halls if I wanted, but I really didn't want people looking at me- I preferred the relative privacy of our L&D room.  He also reminded me to go to the bathroom every half hour or so, and sit through one or two contractions on the toilet.  I wasn't allowed to eat anything, but I was guzzling water as fast as I could get it in an effort to stay hydrated.  I was still very much in control of myself, carrying on conversations and making suggestions about whether I wanted to sit or stand, but I preferred not to speak during contractions if I could help it- I was definitely "vocalizing" each time.

The sun went down, and everyone was hungry- especially me, but, like I said, I wasn't allowed to eat.  It was around this time that we realized we had forgotten the lunch box packed with snacks and Gatorade that we were going to bring for Mr. Geek to eat (and secretly feed me with when the nurses weren't looking).  I was at the stage of hungry where I actually felt nauseous, so when someone started flipping channels on the TV, my one request was that it not involve food- no cooking shows, no restaurant commercials, nothing.  (We settled on another football game, but I wasn't really paying attention.)  The moms went out and picked up dinner for themselves and Mr. Geek, and the smell was not helping my stomach.  Our nurse's shift was ending; she'd been sure that Chief would make her appearance before she had to leave, but alas, it was time to introduce her replacement.  She told us she was very excited to come back in the morning and say hello to our little girl.  Soon, my doctor arrived to see if we'd finally made any progress.

Not so much.  I was at a very disappointing 7cm after about 19 hours of labor.  I was tired and hungry and kind of just wanted to go home, but that was not an option- the doctor wanted to pump me full of antibiotics since I'd gone so long with my water being broken, and Mr. Geek vehemently agreed.  She also wanted to speed up labor- again because my water was broken- so she of course suggested pitocin.  I knew that contractions under the influence of pitocin would be much worse than natural contractions- that's the whole point- so I didn't want to do it.  As we had agreed, Mr. Geek and I took a moment to talk it over.  He was worried that if we didn't do something to speed up labor and I continued to not progress, then they'd want to do a c-section.  If my water hadn't broken, the urgency wouldn't have been there- we could have labored for days and days until Chief was finally ready to make an appearance.  But since my water had broken, everyone was worried about infection the longer time went on, and there really was a limit to how long they would let me labor.  This sounded like logical enough reasoning for me- above all else, I wanted to avoid surgery- so I agreed to the pitocin.  I insisted that they use the smallest possible dosage, and the doctor explained that they would start small and then increase the amount every half-hour.  This meant I would be tied to an IV for the next few hours, so while I could still walk around, movement was a bit more cumbersome.

Sure enough, contractions got very intense very quickly.  I literally did not let go of Mr. Geek for the next few hours- I was constantly leaning on him, "dancing" with him, or otherwise holding his hand to walk or shift positions.  My lower back was killing me and sitting down was the last thing I wanted to do- my favorite position was standing next to the bed draped over a stack of pillows, swaying my hips back and forth.  Our nurse was a true angel- she let me stay in that position when they needed to put the fetal monitor back on and actually crouched down underneath me to hold it in place while I moaned and swayed and Mr. Geek rubbed my back.  She joined Mr. Geek in praising my efforts, and told us she was sure our little girl would be here by midnight.

I was so weak and shaky because I'd been without food for so long and the contractions were so intense, so Mr. Geek poured some apple juice into the cup I'd been using for water so I could drink it without anyone knowing it was juice.  The sugar seemed to give me a bit more energy, but soon I needed to throw up, so Mr. Geek helped me hobble to the bathroom in our room, dragging my little IV tree with me.  Throwing up early in the morning had been uncomfortable; throwing up now, with contractions so intense and coming so fast, was almost unbearable.  My mom started to get really nervous, but the nurse reassured her that it was normal to get sick at this stage of labor.

I'm not sure how long pitocin was pumped into me, but it felt like an eternity.  I reached a point where I couldn't walk anymore, but I also didn't want to lie on my back, so I curled up on my side with one leg propped up, moaning loudly and trying to keep my whole body relaxed as each contraction came.  Mr Geek stood next to me, just as exhausted as I was, and told me to squeeze his hand as hard as the contractions squeezed me. 

Around 10pm, I was still only around 7cm- I had made no progress with the pitocin- but I suddenly felt the urge to push.  I gave into it at first- I curled my body into a C, tucked my chin to my chest, and held my breath.  The nurse saw me and shouted, "No!  Don't push!  Not yet!"  She may as well have told me to light myself on fire, that's how painful it was to not push when it's all I wanted to do.  I wanted to scream, but I knew that wasn't productive; I wanted to cry, but no tears would come.  The nurse told me to take short, panting breaths to resist the urge to push, and this sort of worked, in that it distracted me, but I felt like I was going to explode.

Mr. Geek and I both assumed this was transition; I felt like I was only living minute to minute, contraction to contraction.  I was still moaning during each contraction, but in between I was begging for it to end- at one point I think I said, "I just want to die."  Mr. Geek would lean close to my ear so all I could hear was him and he would say things like, "This is the worst part, it's almost over," and "You're doing such an incredible job, keep going," and "We're almost done, my love," and I would shake my head and take a deep breath and try my best to keep breathing.

Only, it wasn't transition.  Half an hour passed, and then 45 minutes, and it wasn't any better- it was only getting worse.

"I can't do this anymore," I gasped for the third time.  Mr. Geek leaned in to give his pep talk again but I stopped him this time- "No, really, I can't do this anymore."

"What are you asking for?" he asked me, looking me dead in the eye.

"I think I might be sick again; I'm going to hyperventilate if I have to keep panting; I'm going to pass out if this lasts any longer.  I want an epidural."

(Afterwards, Mr. Geek told me that he had completely forgotten an epidural was a thing- that's what sleep deprivation will do to you.  When I told him I was giving up, he thought I was giving up on a vaginal birth all together and actually asking to go under the knife.  When I said the word epidural, he almost sighed with relief- I wasn't completely giving up!)

"Okay," he said, "let's make a deal- the next time the nurse comes in, we'll ask her to check you, and if you're still less than 9cm, we'll ask for the epidural.  If you're at 9cm, though, I think you can keep going- you're doing such a good job."

I agreed that this was a good plan and prepared myself to wait for the nurse to come back.

It was 11pm.  I'd been in labor for 24 hours, and was now ready to ask for an epidural.

It would be quite a while before I got one, however.  Our nurse had last visited us around 10pm, but by 11:15, she still hadn't come back.  (We were used to our every-hour-on-the-hour visits, and with the contractions this intense, every second felt like a lifetime.)  Mr. Geek found the call button and another nurse came rushing into our room.  He asked if she could do an exam (without revealing our epidural plan) but she said she would rather our nurse do it, as she'd been the last to check and could accurately compare.  The only problem was, she was on her "lunch" break and therefore wasn't available, but could be sent our way the moment she came back on the clock.

At 11:30, we still hadn't seen her.

At 11:45, one of the moms went out to the nurse's station asking about her, but she still wasn't back.

Finally, at midnight, she came back into our room and I screamed, "Check me please!"  She was surprised, as those pesky pelvic exams were the worst part about being in the hospital, but she gloved up and took a look.

"That's about 8 cm," she announced, much to my chagrin.  Although 1cm in 2 hours was actually pretty fast compared to the rest of labor, I was at my breaking point- I couldn't do it.  All hope of an un-medicated delivery was officially lost.

"I hate to do this, but I need to ask for an epidural now," I said.  Mr. Geek held my hand and nodded with me, repeating my logic- my fear of passing out or hyperventilating the longer this lasted.

"You have done a fantastic job," she said, "and this is exactly what you need to safely deliver your baby.  Everything is going to be alright."

So, the end of my resolve brings us to the end of this part of the story.  Tune in tomorrow for what I promise will be the last part- Chief's arrival!

If you had an epidural, when did you decide you needed it?

Much love,
The Geeks

Read part 3 here

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Chief's Birth Story

To be honest with you, I wasn't sure if I'd write this post.  I don't really follow any strictly "mommy blogs," and with those that I do, I don't read the birth stories.  To me, a birth is such an intensely personal event that it feels like prying to read the details of someone else's.  And if I were to write about our experience, how detailed should I get, anyway?  Do people really want to read about my bodily functions (or lack thereof)?  Do I really want to share that?

Now that I've experienced it, however, I do like hearing other women's stories.  And, frankly, I feel like I accomplished something rather amazing- even though my body was literally designed to give birth, as was every other woman's body- and I kind of want to brag about it by telling my story, too.

But I promised you this wasn't going to be a mommy blog, and I know that most of the internet is very much NOT interested in the details of labor and delivery.  So if you are most of the internet- don't read any further.  In fact, you should probably just stay away from this space for the rest of the week, as it's going to be birth-central over here.  I promise that next week I'll get back to regular blogging, with minimum mentions of bodily functions.

If you are interested in reading- buckle up, it's going to be a long ride!  Throughout the story, I've put things in bold that we learned in our Bradley Method classes that helped us handle labor.  If you're getting ready for your little one to arrive, hopefully these tips can help!

This is Chief's birth story.

Her due date was Thursday, November 7, but I was skeptical of that estimate and Mr. Geek and I had both agreed early on that she was probably going to be late.  I went in that morning for a regular check-up and reluctantly lay back for a pelvic exam- which, as I expected, showed absolutely no progress.  "Maaaaybe 1cm," was the doctor's assessment.  We made an appointment for the following Thursday and were sent home with instructions to call if my water broke or if labor progressed to a point where contractions were 5 minutes apart for 1 hour.  We went home and enjoyed my first official day of maternity leave with a delicious dinner prepared by both of our moms, who would be staying with us for the whole month of November to help out.

The next day dawned equally as uneventful, so we used the opportunity to get things ready.  The weather was mild, so Mr. Geek and I took a walk around the block and talked about everything we still had left to do.  We finished packing the hospital bags, went grocery shopping, tidied up the house...but we did manage to forget a couple of things.  At dinner, Mr. Geek and I agreed we'd run back to Target the next day to grab some tennis balls to help with back massages during labor.  During the past couple of days, everyone had been sucked into this show, Damages, on Netflix- everyone but me, that is.  We all hunkered down on the sofa to watch another couple of episodes and see what was happening on Facebook, but I started to get uncomfortable.  My hips hurt, and my back was starting to ache a little bit, so I got up and started aimlessly walking around.

I ended up in the nursery, at the back of the house, walking slow circles around the room.  I was studying every detail- the pictures on the wall, the toys on the shelves, the sheets on the crib.  My mom joined me after a few minutes, but I don't really remember what we talked about.  Mr. Geek joined us, and he and I stood in the middle of the room and hugged each other for a while, talking about how ready we were for Chief to arrive.  Apparently we were all tired, because everybody went to bed before 10 that night.

Mr. Geek and I lay in bed that night talking about our baby girl and feeling her kick.  I was tired, but my hips were still hurting, and lying on my side was just not working, so I sat up and asked Mr. Geek if he wanted a back rub.  He gave me an unconvincing "nah..." but I reminded him that he would probably be rubbing my back a lot in a couple of days.  Relenting, he rolled onto his stomach, and I moved to straddle his hips on my knees like I always do- I was way too huge to be sitting on him while I rubbed his shoulders- and then...

"Shit!  I have to pee!"

I jumped off of him and practically flew to the bathroom, feeling like I was wetting my pants, whispering "shitshitshitshitshitshitshit" all the while.  I didn't think it was possible to move that fast at that size, but I managed to make it to the bathroom without getting anything on the bed- or on him, thank goodness!

It was 10:55 PM.  My water had just broken.

Well, technically my bag of waters was leaking, and it would continue to leak for most of my labor.  I sat on the toilet for what felt like forever because every time I went to stand up, more would come.  Mr. Geek grabbed my phone from the bedside table and joined me in the bathroom- "We've reached that point now," he reminded me as he knocked on the door.  He was right- we'd reached the point where he wasn't going to be leaving my side, no matter where I needed to go or what my body was doing.  I called our OB's after-hours number and informed the nurse that my water had broken but contractions had not yet started, and a few minutes later, the doctor on call called me back.  He told me that once contractions were steadily 5 minutes apart for 2 hours, it would be time to call back and head to the hospital.  (Note that this was different than our original instructions- 2 hours instead of 1.)

Once I finally felt like I could get off the toilet, we decided to wake up our moms and give them the update.  "My water has broken, but contractions haven't started yet.  Get some sleep, because we'll probably be going to the hospital in the morning!"

I probably should have gotten in the shower at that point, but I had literally just showered a couple of hours ago, so that felt like overkill, and I was more focused on the mantra "if you can sleep, sleep," so we got back in bed.

And then I felt my first contraction.

It felt like a menstrual cramp; it didn't hurt, but it was uncomfortable.  I was lying on my side, facing away from Mr. Geek, and he started running his hands down my back and my side as we walked through one of the relaxation techniques.  It was easy for me to fully relax my body, but my mind was definitely not going to relax.  Even though it was way too early, I couldn't help but time it.  I checked my phone when it started and again when it ended- "Okay, so that lasted 2 minutes."  Mr. Geek reminded me that I needed to sleep, and I tried- really, I did!- but my mind was racing.  A little while later, another contraction came, which I announced by saying, "Okay."  Mr. Geek stroked my arms and back again as I went limp, and he asked me if I could talk.  "Oh, definitely," I said, "this is easy.  That one was one minute."

Mr. Geek had taken a Benedryl before we got in bed originally, so he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.  Contractions continued to come every 10 or 15 minutes or so, and occasionally he would suggest that I go to the bathroom.  I told him to stay in bed, so he ended up sleeping for the 20 minutes or so that I would be in the bathroom.  As the night went on, the contractions started to get a little more intense; I would sometimes need to lean up against the wall as I walked back from the bathroom, mainly to relieve the pressure in my lower back.  Mr. Geek would jump out of bed at these times and either rub my back or let me lean against him, then help me back to bed.  I knew I was supposed to sleep if I could, but...I couldn't.  Not only were contractions becoming more and more uncomfortable, but I couldn't get my mind to calm down.  So we took each contraction as it came, both of us doing everything we could to relax every muscle in my body, talking our way through it.  He kept telling me I was doing such a good job, and even then, in the very beginning, that meant so much to me.

Early in the morning- maybe 5 or 6am- Mr. Geek suggested that I eat something, even though I wasn't particularly hungry.  He got me a cup of yogurt- we knew I would need all the protein I could get.  I ate it slowly, one small bite at a time in between contractions which were coming much more regularly now, 5 minutes apart.  We had hit the 2 hour mark already, which meant we should be calling the doctor, but I hadn't hit any of the other signposts that labor was progressing, so we waited.  More than anything else, we were waiting for contractions to become so intense that I couldn't talk through them anymore, or for me to otherwise lose control of the situation.  Neither of those had happened yet- I could still talk (though slowly) and I was still in control enough to decide that it wasn't yet time to go to the hospital, and, more importantly, I was in control enough to decide what position I should try when the next contraction came.

About an hour after my last bite of yogurt- I never did finish that little cup- I felt like I needed to throw up.  I've never been so calm while getting sick before- it was bizarre.  "I'm going to be sick," I said quietly, then I walked as fast as I could to the bathroom- which wasn't very fast anymore.  I lifted the lid on the toilet, took a deep breath, and waited- and then, eventually, I threw up, Mr. Geek holding my hair and rubbing my back the whole time.  Calm though I was, it was reeeeeally unpleasant to have a contraction while I was vomiting at the same time, so I started vocalizing.  In between retching, I moaned softly in the back of my throat until the contraction stopped because it made me feel better.  "Can you talk?" Mr. Geek asked me.  "Yes," I gasped, "yes, I can still talk."

At 7:15, we made our way back to the bed; I sat down on the edge and Mr. Geek sat on the floor and rubbed my feet while we talked about what to do next.  I was still in control, but I had just thrown up, and we'd had almost 4 hours of contractions every 5 minutes that were starting to get more intense- plus my water had been broken for 8 hours at this point.  Although we both agreed that I hadn't yet reached the emotional signposts that were supposed to mean it was hospital time, Mr. Geek suggested that we give it another half an hour and then call the doctor, so that's what we did.  You've gotta listen to your coach!

So, at 7:45, I called the doctor, who said it was definitely time to go to the hospital.  We put on some real clothes, grabbed our hospital bags, making sure to remember all the power cords for the various electronic devices coming with us, and announced to our moms- "It's time to go!"

Of course, even though I was too hot to wear a coat, it was November, and therefore cold outside.  Mr. Geek had to scrape ice off of his car before we could leave; the moms would be following us in my car, parked in the warm garage.  That little hiccup meant we didn't leave the house until after 8am.

So that was labor at home; tune in tomorrow to read about what happened when we got to the hospital!

How long did you labor at home?  When did you decide it was time to go to the hospital?

Much love,
The Geeks

Read Part 2 here