ok the tease was these. they're keychains ("fobs" if you're nasty fancy). i made them in my own personal sweatshop. over and over again, 23 times in a row (i gave 2 away). all the ones pictured here are now for sale in my etsy shop.

if you don't see a combo you like, let me know and i will see what i can do.

i have had an adidas one of these on my keys since i turned 16 and it makes finding and snatching your keys out of a dark purse so much easier. the white adidas logo on mine is now brown from use and i was thinking i would make myself a newer cuter one since i had seen these on some blogs and etsy shops. but when i went to look for the hardware i could only find them in bulk. so i figured i would make a whole set and see if any one else wanted one.

here's what one looks like on an average pregnant-sized wrist

too bad the one i was going to pick for myself was also a favorite of lena's, whom i let have a freebie for babysitting judah. i will be repeating this combo again for sure:

this is what my favorite of all the fobs looks like attached to lena's keys

this is what they all look like in a nerdy formation

i hope this goes better than the custom burpcloths. i don't have this many keys.



brace yourselves, i might cry if these aren't received well. coming 8/31

do fun stuff

i found this guy ryan's blog through my best friend marisa's recommendation. he was gaining a huge following because of an awesome photographic series he was doing of his stunning pregnant wife week by week. their daughter tessa was born a few weeks after judah so it was really cool to follow along with (even though his wife is totally teensy and gorgeous and super hipster-dressed...i was living vicariously in my yellow crocs and XL t-shirts through this series). he has since done a whole 'nother series with another pregnant friend. check them out, they are super creative and he has mad photography skills.

between the preggo pics, i was reading up on him and his family. turns out he has a violently precious 5 year old stepson who was dealing with some behavioral question marks that were kind of a mystery, and he kind of shared with us little bits as the figured out what exactly it was and how best to help LB (the littlest buddy as he as known). well, they diagnosed him with something known as SMS and ryan decided to use his blog and talents to help shed some light on this syndrome. he asked if any readers wanted to help. i said yes since i had been benefiting for quite some time from his pictures, writing, videos and music recommendations and decided i could do a blog post one day to help an awesome dad and all around cool guy.

so that's what i am doing right now. ryan got together a whole load of really cool musicians and made a benefit album that is for sale on itunes right now. you can listen to the music below to check it out. make sure you read this touching post he wrote especially for today and see what you think. we are for sure buying this album stat because we want to help, but even if we didn't, it's all really upbeat and fun music that judah loves but doesn't make us want to stick screwdrivers in our ear canals after repeated listenings.

let me know what you think and if you get the album (hint, hint)! hurray for using what you're good at to make the world a little sunnier place.


bump x3

i have been so slow in taking and posting this month's weekly belly with a side of produce pics. i think it has a lot to do with the fact that layla is resembling sizes, shapes and lengths of vegetables that i don't enjoy eating or spending money on. it's been kind of a bland 3-week stretch. the good news is that a yummy bounty is on the horizon (i have already bought and had to restrain myself from cooking week 29's visual aid).

26 weeks: hothouse cucumber. this species (genus?) of cuke is longer and skinnier than your garden or wild variety. at 14 inches long the boo is getting tall up in there. thank god she never goes pencil-mode and stretches to her full height, because it does not look like that cucumber could fit. however, sometimes i feel like she is stomping down directly on my cervix and a foot is about to shoot...out, so maybe that's what the cucumber at full attention is like.

27 weeks: she was the weight of a head of cauliflower, about 2 whole pounds. any ideas on what i can do with 2 lbs. of c-flower now?

28 weeks as of last saturday and she was about the length and weight of a napa cabbage. 15 inches long and 2 1/4 lbs. i actually made a yummy asian salad out of this last night.

so there we go, all caught up. i am now onto OB appointments every 2 weeks and next thursday i should get the results of my glucose tolerance/gestational diabetes test.

she is moving like mad and i am currently in a blissful period where i can feel every single move, jiggle and sashay that she executes, but none of them occur on my vital organs or ribs. soon though...

this is all happening very fast. november still sounds really far away, but once you get into the 30's in weekage, i mean, you are almost there. i don't know if i am ready to be there so soon. to do this again, to have to divert even one speck of love and attention away from him, to organize clothes, get things settled at work, and make way for a family of 4 which includes and features a newborn AND a toddler in the house. i am leaning pretty hard into jesus to carry us through the worries and struggles AND beauty of this next season of our life.

can we come eat and sleep (and pray...ha, topical) at your place if we lose our minds/jobs/house?


more from H&F patterns

remember the hoodie i made judah from the thrift store sweatshirt and the sewing pattern from heidi and finn? well, i bought that pattern in a B2G1 free deal through a favorite blogger (and new buddy). so there were 2 more patterns that i was excited to tackle and they were both for miss layla-boo.

the girly cardigan and cocktail swing coat

first up: the cardigan. the example the pattern showed was made of white fleece and i thought it looked so snuggly even though a plain solid isn't the most expressive. i had a bunch of gray fleece that i bought way back when i thought i would become the exclusive clothier of baby judah in my early sewing days. i made a hat and a bad pair of fleece pants and gave up, leaving yards of fleece untouched for months. lucky for me, that meant it was "free" by the time i got around to making layla a little ruffle-y cardigan.

photographing these was one of our first go's with the new SLR camera, so things are a little funky. bear with us.

making about 100 inches of the ruffle to go all the way around the coat was the toughest part. i was supposed to pin each inch to create the gathers, but i couldn't make it work with the thick fleece and just made the ruffles by shoving smooshed up sections of fabric under the presser foot as it sewed. as a result, my ruffle isn't the ruffliest.

the size i made was 12 mo's-2T. of course there's only one person who fits into that size in our house. i think this little cardigan will be a definite 2 year old item though since judah wears it here at 15 months and we had to roll up the sleeves.

modelling right after bathtime. this was a bad idea since judah always goes straight to bed after his bath so he was elated to be up but exhausted at the same time. not the best move forcing him into girls' outerwear and trying to get him to be still after bedtime. we are rookies

and the last of my heidi and finn patterns (for now): the cocktail swing jacket. this thing looked so fancy and intimidating that i almost didn't try it, but i am so glad i did because it turned out to be the best looking and easiest of all 3 of these patterns.

i promise the lining is a very pretty lavender. again, we are new at the camera and it's affecting our colors. the sleeves are fold up here to show off the pretty lining, but they definitely can go either way for a more neutral all-black look.

i found the black twill material in the 50% off remnant bin at joann and realized it would be perfect. but i needed about a yard more. so i then went and found it on the bolt in the regular section and got the extra yardage i needed. total cost: $6.86. and then i had planned to use a fabric i already had for the lining, but i didn't have enough so i went and bought this light lavender leaf fabric with a 40% off coupon for $2.92.

my favorite detail is the closure. the bow ties are actually sewed onto "her" left side panel and they just hang there when the coat is open, but then they pull through a large buttonhole on the front panel and get tied in a big bow to keep it closed and make her fancy.

once again, our reluctant model. now this is also a 12m/2T pattern, but it was simply HUGE on judah, so i am thinking 2T/3T instead. also, with the bowtie closure, it's not the easiest on/off everyday coat for a toddler. but for fancy special occasions, it's just the right balance of sweet and chic.

looking like a cross-dressing streaker, who needs a nap.

that's more like it.

these were all-evening projects that took 2 or 3 hours apiece after i had my pattern pieces cut. i am so happy with how these patterns have turned out and how my nights are now filled with industrious and useful creativity instead of just mind-numbing episodes of "wipeout" (i am SO ready for summer TV to be over...even though its just background noise to my sewing these days, it is seriously depressing).

see you in winter 2012-13, beautiful outertwears!


have mercy

the boy. the beauty. the bug. bursting my heart daily.


makings and cakings

you may have determined by now that i have a crazy unique bond with my L&D nurse, adrienne. i'm sure most moms appreciate the care they received while giving birth, but i am guessing that few people end up with their nurse as an actual, real life friend. once you've been where she has been and seen what she has seen, you might be surprised that she can still look me in the eye. here is a sampling of some of our exchanges since that faithful memorial day.

the first person to ever touch judah...that's kind of crazy.

adrienne won a giveaway i did a while back that was for a custom designed burp cloth. she decided that she wanted a cat in the hat design since her sons' room was going to have a seuss theme.

here's what i gave her. however, i am pretty sure she said she didn't ever use it, but instead put it in a shadow box in the room instead because she couldn't bear to subject it to baby isaac's reflux.

about 3 weeks later i was getting ready to host judah's birthday party the very next day and remembered that, like a space cadet, i didn't invite adrienne to the party. so i wrote her on facebook and asked her family to come. i also remembered at this time that as a hobby adrienne makes (pimp) cakes. i was too chicken to dare ask her to make something on such short notice, but being amazing, she read my mind and volunteered to make his smash cake (we had planned on going with a cupcake much to lena and my dad's mortification) on zero notice and the night before the party. it was AWESOME. she delivered the made from scratch, custom-designed, free of charge (whaaaa?) cake 5 hours after i had written her. that adrienne: she delivers. (get it?)

see, its a 3D number one.

being the selfless mother i am, i requested the cake in MY favorite flavor: yellow cake with chocolate icing (judah never spoke up with what he would like). judah loved it and only smashed one corner, so we got to take the unsmashed portion home and enjoy the entire week. SOOOOO good.

so earlier this summer, adrienne posted something on the blog about commissioning some made-by-k8 shirts for her two boys. she wanted them to be modelled after thing 1 and thing 2 , in keeping with her seussical theme, but didn't like any of the for-purchase factory made ones that can be bought online. enter me plus the 90-minute shirt tutorial mixed with some cat in the hat:

i was nervous that these would just be crappier-looking versions of the ones you can buy online, but the onesie style neckline with the long sleeves and white trim totally spiffed them up. i was also terrified of messing up the sizing since i couldn't measure the boys in person and had to aim for how big they would be by the time cold weather rolls around.

here is baby isaac sporting the 12-18 month sized shirt (he's only 6 mos. right now, so its supposed to be big.)

and big brother elijah rocking thing 1. he really looks like an actual adorable seuss character in the picture with that curly wild hair and skinny frame. so cute

things united

so not only did adrienne overpay me for these shirts, but she also told me when i gave them to her that i needed to go to the L&D desk when i came in for my OB appt. the next week (my OB office is in the hospital proper) and pick something up that she was leaving for me. i should have freaking known. she is beyond belief.

its a perfect little chocolate cake with an amazing peanut butter cream icing. when you are lucky enough to get one of adrienne's creations, you must take good care of it, hence the seatbelt.

i can say that i hate peanut butter desserts and don't enjoy chocolate cake, but this beast was tasty even with all of my weird quirks. the peanut butter icing was super subtle and wasn't sticky or overpowering and the cake part was soooooooo moist (sorry, marisa, i don't like that word either). jesse and judah have since destroyed this entire creation.

the ironic thing about my receipt of this cake was that my OB appointment was the one in which i get tested for gestational diabetes (remember last time? flavor: orange). this involves drinking a nasty ass sugar-laced drink and then waiting for an hour and having bloodwork done. you can't eat anything during this hour, which normally isn't an issue, but this time i went across the hall to pick up my surprise from adrienne during the hour-long wait, and so i had to sit there smelling the delicious cake while i sucked on the aftertaste of glucola, flavor: red. torture!

awesome. inaugural pictures with the new camera. jesse snapping away like this is some vogue photoshoot while i choke down the nasty. so embarrassing. didn't need this memory captured in 12 MP

just a tease for the picture...sorry, little boetie, i bet you'd actually really enjoy the drink, but you can't help mama on this test...that'd be cheating.


the clouds that started it all

ok, can we discuss the fact that i started writing this post on september 10th of last year? yikes. here was the first part. it was right after i decided to grab the hopelessly drifting reigns of our young family life and make it something a bit more magical. a big part of this plan was to get off our butts and start doing things. and kind of out of nowhere i decided that would largely include making things; using our hands and brains, instead of just our wallets, to create something. to put something of ourselves, whether it be food or crafts or whatever, out in the world instead of just consuming all the time.

*sidebar: it is crazy to me that i haven't been sewing/crafting for even a year yet. how did i ever live without!?!?! i am so mad that i didn't start this until after i already had offspring. we were outrageously bored when we were pregnant with judah and i could have used those hours to make so very much stuff. alas. don't make the same mistake!*

well, the first ever thing that i decided i wanted to make at the start of this new chapter of our life was a cheaper version of some awesome shelves i spotted on a mom/design blog. i thought these would be perfect in judah's stars & moon room. these would turn out to be clouds that would rain forth the craftstorm that has become a very fulfilling part of my life (that sentence. so deep).

by modern dose. love this, but hmmm, $70 for one? no thanks, i think we can do better. (plus they are backordered...so, double yay for home made knock offs)

so after our labor day campout at the dukes' we decided to make use of their awesome workshop area and enlist grandaddy to help in this vision. we actually finished the shelves themselves (that was fun to say) that same day, in just a few hours of jigsawing, sanding and painting, almost 50 weeks ago, but i didn't want to post about them until we had actually installed them and could display the final finished product...

...which just happened a few days ago. whoops. well here you go, the project you never knew you were waiting for (though i did drop a hint about it at the very end of our first magic experiment):

9/7/2009. safety first: always wear roller skates around power tools. i found these in a pile of garage sale stuff the dukes had out and they were totally my size!

this is frightening. i lost next to NO baby weight until after we stopped breastfeeding so there's my excuse for that. the paleness/fashion/facial expression...that's all me.

team cloudshelves (and 3 tiny month old judah...whaaaa? when was he ever that guy?).

we accidentally took this picture without cousin sophie at first, and it caused her to have a breakdown because she had totally helped me paint the shelves and we had forgotten and therefore told her the picture was just for folks who had built the shelves. she didn't freak out, but was just sweetly and silently sobbing out to the side as we took the first picture without her before realizing our mistake. we gave her huge apologies and took the picture as it should have been. she has the sweetest heart. it was so precious.

and here finally are the finished products where they were intended to live (after a 350-day sojourn in the garage):

8/3/2010. drifting through judah's skyscape room just like they were made to

so yeah, ours are a bit more turdly-shaped than the store-bought ones i got the idea from. this is because i drew the shapes myself and have no skills and didn't bother to look at the picture. this is how i have drawn clouds since 1st grade after school care when a wise old 2nd grader taught me how and i thought it was the greatest discovery ever. so they're turdly, yes, but i think it was worth saving $135. (because the dukes had scrap wood and white paint, all we had to buy were the brackets).

because of the white + the flash you can't really tell in the picture unless you click to enlarge it and squint, but ours do have the little cloud blobs on the front ends of the shelves that give them some cool depth (just like the expensive ones). that is my favorite part of these: when we put books or things on the shelves it looks like the shelved items are floating amongst the layers of white fluffies. so neat.

it really was stupidly easy to make these: get some plywood, draw the design, cut it out with a jigsaw, screw the front, bottom and back of each shelf together, sand, paint, hang. done.

the end. and it only took 11 weeks longer than it did to make judah.


bits and bobs

we've come to the portion of bloggy programming where i get tired of seeing random pictures with no cohesive thread collecting on my computer. they're all worthy, even if not of their own posts. here goes.

it's heeeeeeeere!

little did i know my winnings would include and extra battery, 4GB memory card and a bag! best. thing. ever. jesse has taken on the pimp camera as his new hobby. more power to him, i am chock full of hobbies right now and cannot fit that beast in my purse. of course the thought of being the subject of 12 megapixel photos in all my pasty preggo glory is a little scary. speaking of which...

25 weeks: rutabaga.

they wanted like $2 per lb for this monster and i was not about to pay that much. i don't have any great rutabaga-centric recipes in my cookbooks. so i took this little guy to the deserted greeting card aisle and snapped a little self portrait with him. i have never felt like more of a creep. at least i wasn't taking the picture with a massive SLR camera. i guess the old point and shoot it still good for stealth missions involving borrowed produce and maternal bellies.

practicing the integration of pink and bows into our household

we have been so fortunate to receive PAYLOADS of hand me downs from some of our little-girl-having friends and family. i am talking like 10 garbage bags full of things. i have started to sort through them all and my pink/ruffle tolerance is growing with every new item that i see, bonus points for the girlie stuff that judah models for us. we are so lucky to not have to bankroll an entire brand new little girl wardrobe from scratch.

one of the biggest contributors to layla's closet is my cousin melissa. she had her little girl, avery, 3.5 years ago in an extraordinarily dramatic 10-week early touch-and-go delivery. well, she is now at 37 weeks pregnant (exactly 10 weeks ahead of us) with their second child, a little boy. she has been on bed rest for about 10 weeks already now due to preeclampsia. she is an amazing mom and a stud for going through everything that she has had to bring her two little angel faces into the world!

since avery was so premature and melissa's recovery so complex, she wasn't able to breastfeed. so imagine my delight when she commented on the nursing cover i made myself saying that she needed one for this little guy! i gladly whipped her up one to use for her little man as a huge thank you for all the money and fashion quandaries that her generosity saved us.

i thought the stripes were too plain so i wanted to add some flair. so i added the little guy's intial (not sure if it's a secret about his name) and a lil' owl that i thought was really cute. jesse came in and goes, "oh, an owl, i get it. because it's a hooter hider?" i hadn't even considered that. yikes. at least i had made him a napping owl instead of eyes wide open like the super-subtle official hooters logo.

that is just so wrong and so hilarious. i mean really? areolas for eyes, y'all?

and my ever-willing model:

it's his sling under there, not an actual baby. if only all nursing moms could look this radiant


red, yellow, black, white, LOVE

i feel like i have a special place in my heart for adoption fundraisers ever since, you know. but even if that hadn't happened, i would so be all over doing whatever i can to help this lil' family on their journey to expand their family beyond the atlantic ocean:

these are the dockerys. abby with charlotte (1) and pete with eden (3)

they are a gorgeous (in ways that count and the ones that don't so much) family that is sold out for jesus. they live in el paso and work for the ministry casas por cristo. this incredible organization provides safe and sturdy homes to families living in some pretty deplorable circumstances just over the border in juarez, MX (think houses made of chicken wire and cardboard). they do this by hosting mission teams from all over the world who provide the labor for the houses that are built in just a few days.

i met the papa, pete, about 5 days before i met jesus. i went on one of these trips in 2004. technically i was dragged on it. pete was my team's build leader. he was awesome and hilarious and so fun to be around. every night he would go up on the roof of the church we were staying in and talk on the phone to this girl who was back in GA. i was nosy and asked if that was his giiiiiiiiiirlfriend (in a super annoying 3rd grader teasing voice). he said something along the lines of sort of kind of and that he really wanted her to be and blah blah, he was so totally into her but i don't know if they were offish at that point yet. he showed me some of the letters she had sent and i was blown away by her creativity and artsy-ness. i was like, "she totally likes you if this is what she is mailing."

pete and i kept in touch a bit through good old yahoo chat. about 14 months later pete married that girl from the phonecalls in a big field.

fast forward another year and i decide that i am jealous of a bunch of my friends because they have this friend named natalie who is supposed to be just the cat's pajamas. me and natalie, with no prior interaction, decide to become good friends. it works out very well for me. (and my marriage, and for judah).

well, it turns out that natalie's best friend forever is abby. these two have the kind of friendship that people write books about that are then turned into movies that make all the ladies cry because it's so beautiful. i asked natalie to please make abby like me because everyone who knows her adores her. and then i finally get to meet her at nat's wedding in june of 2008. she is as wonderful as advertised.

abs, nat, k8.

even though i think we've only hung out that one time at the wedding, i feel like i am way tight with abby and her family thanks to natalie, facebook and blogs. so i have been following along gleefully for a while now as this great couple raise their firstborn, eden, to when they became a family of 4 last summer and on and on through their day to day adventures in salt and light. i love the way abby writes and parents and take pictures.

so i started bouncing in my chair when i read recently that the dockerys have started the process of international adoption. they are adopting from ethopia. i can't tell you how great i think this family is going to be at opening their hearts and home to a new family member from around the globe.

it was on a hot day, that wedding was (our bridesmaids dresses are dry clean only and mine is still waiting to go to the cleaners, over 2 years later. i sweat so much that day that i am kind of afraid to see what kind of ecosystem my pretty dress has become since then while balled up in the 'to be dry cleaned' bag)

so why i am telling you all this?

well, adoption takes love and grace #1

#2 adoption requirement is probably time. there is a lot of paperwork to be done, laws to follow, communiques between governments and such and so therefore there is no overnight delivery option for these sweet children and their new families. so we pray about these 2 things for the dockerys.

but #3 is something we can actually physically help with right now. because adoption takes money. i don't know how much, but it's a lot. to raise money for their adoption fund, the dockerys have put their creative skills to great use and made t-shirts to sell. these are ultra cool and come in grown up and kids sizes. they are selling them now through their blog. the travel expenses alone for the two required trips the dockerys will take to meet and then bring home their new child will run about $8000, so we can totally take a huge chunk out of that and get a cool t-shirt too that spreads the word and reminds us to pray for them!

if any of the following topics: adoption, the dockerys, ethiopia, orphans, love, africa, jesus, is something that moves you or inspires you, would you puh-lease consider buying some t-shirts from them to help build this family and give an orphan two wonderful parents? if you don't even want the shirt but just want to give straight up, there is also an option for that on their blog as well.

the kids' version...adorable miss charlie sold separately

and since they just can't stop giving...today through saturday the dockerys are doing a giveaway for one of these awesome shirts at their blog. so leave a comment, become a follower of their blog/journey and tell your friends about it and you could win a shirt for free!

if you do nothing else, please at least send up a prayer for the whole dockery family (members living in their home already and those still waiting to come home) as they follow jesus in this awesome adventure.


MY birth story

there could be a really good excuse for this. it could be something like, "it was just such a magical and intimate experience for me as a mother that i just felt like it was too sacred to write online about." but in truth, it's just because i'm really lazy and get intimidated by long narrative posts, and moreover i was pretty confident i could get jesse to write it for both of us.

but the more i think about it the more i realize that i need to write out my own version of judah's birth. and i am guessing that once i have gone through childbirth two times, sorting out one story from the other could get confusing. especially since they're only like 6 days apart. okay, 17.5 months, but man it feels closer.

here is judah's birth as told by jesse. he did a great journalistic job of reporting and documenting the facts and timeline of what happened as well as expressing his feelings as things unfolded. jesse also had the advantage of experiencing zero contractions during labor and was a bit more clear-headed throughout the process. i am so thankful to him for taking all the time it took to write down his beautiful perspective of the birth and i love reading it, but it is not the same story that i have in my head. he was not the one in the stirrups. only i can tell that story.

so here is my version. be forewarned, i am writing this selfishly so that i can remember all the details years from now; i am not considering the audience or that they might be eating lunch as they read this. telling it could get messy...living it sure was. if you are my dad or squeamish like godfather elliot, you might want to skip. i did not censor.

sunday, may 24th was the day before memorial day. i was 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant. jesse was at church all morning and i decided to sleep in rather than joining him since we had been out late at a braves game and party the night before. very. good. decision. it would be the last night of sleep i would get for about 4 months. he got home around 1 pm and we got ready to go to my grandpa's house for a memorial weekend lunch with my family and my cousins and aunt and uncle.

i don't know how many times i heard during pregnancy that labor rarely starts like it does in the movies. A: the onset of labor starts with water breaking only about 15% of the time, and B: in these 15% situations, it's not typically a tsunami gush splashdown like is sometimes depicted onscreen. many of the 15% water-breaking women say that they thought they had peed their pants when really their water had broken. so i was not really expecting my water to break first before contractions. and if it did, i knew it might not be obvious and might feel like any of the gobs of times that i had peed my pants a bit in late pregnancy. i was ready.

i am in the bathroom getting dressed and ready to head to fred's, and i am like, crap, i just peed a little bit. so i go check things out in the underoo situation, and yup, it looks like i let loose a little thimbleful of pee (which was about standard capacity by that point in the bladder department). so i switch underwear and go back in the bathroom to do my makeup. i am standing there and all of a sudden: son of a...my freaking shorts are wet again. i may not have the best bladder control, but i almost always am at least cognizant of the fact that i am losing control. not this time. i felt nothing.

so i am standing in the bathroom with my pants pulled down trying to check the damage and consciously pinching my urethra so no more magic pee that i don't even feel comes out, and while i am sitting there, more stuff starts leaking. that's when i knew.

the feeling was the exact same one that i got while waiting at the very back of the wedding procession line with my dad right before walking out to get married. it's this pivotal life moment that i have waited so impatiently for, and counted down the seconds until, and imagined and pictured and yearned after for months and years, and all of a sudden: it's here, it's right now. it's this very moment. and, OH HOLY SHIT- i am so not ready for this. makeitstop.

i had considered many times that i would come up with some really cute way to tell jesse i was in labor. that i would wait a bit and act all nonchalant and then say something like, "oh you can't go play frisbee tomorrow, you've already got plans; it's judah's birthday." ha. yeah right. with my pants still down, i waddled into the bedroom and said, "um, jesse, i think my water just broke." seeing his amazingly excited, yet composed and supportive reaction is what made me ready and not so terrified.

we called our birth teacher who said it could just be a high tear up on the top of the bag of water that might seal itself back up and to just keep going about our business but to drink a lot of water and to maybe get some red raspberry leaf tea to start the contractions. we all agreed to definitely NOT call my doctor because we didn't want them knowing how long my water had been broken because they would put me on antibiotics after 18 hours and start talking induction and other interventions that we didn't want. medical folk tend to get antsy and nervous when the sterile environment of the amniotic sac is exposed for longer than 12 hours. hippie birth teachers say you're fine and can go 2 weeks. we were somewhere in the middle.

so grabbed a pad and we headed out to fred's. not the dramatic moment i had pictured. when we got there we told everyone what was going on and my aunt (whom i adore) kind of freaked out. she was a pediatric nurse forever and ever and is kind of old school and not as much down with the natural thing too much. she was worried about a prolapsed cord (picture the cord trying to flush out with the water and tightening around the baby's neck). it was kind of hard standing up to this kind of pressure when it seemed like she was for judah's safety and i was against it. thank god for 13 weeks of birth classes that had etched into my head that birth is most often a safe, natural process that my body can handle. while we were there i had a few contractions that were bigger than all my braxton hicks ones. but not bad at all.

we headed home, but first wanted to get the tea so that we could try to tempt labor to really get going. we finally found an open health food store in the ghetto that smelled so much like a sex shop. when we got home jesse made a huge pitcher of it and i started chugging. i had his iphone with its special contraction timer and i told jesse to go take a nap. he was exhausted from being out so late and then up so early for church and i knew i would need him at his best. it was about 6 or 7pm. just like our entire last few months before judah, i was SOOOOOOOO bored. i watched star wars, some NBA playoff games and worked on a puzzle that we had bought in our pre-baby pathetic boredom desperation. the contractions were about 10 minutes apart and only distractingly painful. i tried to take a nap with jesse but couldn't sleep due to excitement and discomfort.

i walked around the house a lot and made sure we had everything ready to go and in the car. i bounced on the labor ball, drank tons of tea and did my birth visualization techniques. all this time i was still leaking. at about 10 pm things were getting a bit more close together and intense so i woke up jesse. he was awesome and laid with me during the contractions and talked to me and made me laugh in between. our plan for when to head to the hospital was when contractions were 5 minutes apart AND one minute long AND averaged these times for about an hour. the iphone was on calculation duty. another sign of when it's time to go is that your husband tries to take a picture of you and you no longer smile for it. this signals that it's business time usually. we forgot this one and didn't even get any good smiling ones. dangit. my contractions were about 30 seconds long and 6 or 7 minutes apart. plus i was still 100% my charming self. not ready to go yet.

the hours crept by and jesse would do foot or hand massage during the contractions because we found out that that was the most helpful of the techniques we had learned in birth class. i had thought i would like a few of the other techniques better, but things changed when labor got going and the hand and foot massage was awesome. we were still in bed, me on my towels and puppy pads-- since water had started to sporadically gush--and in my designated bradley birthing position and jesse laying with me coaching me through each one.

i really can't even believe how many hours went by without sleep or occupation. i can tell you i didn't feel bored. the ebb and flow of contractions really ate up the time. at around 2 or 3 am i didn't want to be in bed any more. the contractions were getting pretty painful and i wanted to try walking around in between them and then standing through them. i found that leaning up against the wall with my head resting on my arms was the best for me. at this point we were pretty close to 5 minutes apart and they were about 45-50 seconds long. so i kept walking and leaning for about and hour more and at around 4 am on memorial day morning, we decided that it was time to go.

you never realize how uncomfortable getting into or sitting in a car is until you try to do it while having contractions. ugh. luckily the roads were deserted since it was so early on a holiday and every time a contraction would hit we would pull over and i would get out and stand and lean against the car. i remember being afraid that a deer would trample me while i was contracting. 15 miles, 35 minutes and 7 or 8 mega-contractions later we got to the hospital. while this was the most dramatic moment of my little life story, the folks at the hospital had seen it before and weren't as impressed with me as they should have been. i got to walk and contract myself up to the L&D floor and check in.

here he comes

despite the LOADS of pre-registering that i did, i still had to fill out paperwork. to L&D charge nurses, labor is not an excuse worthy of getting you out of paperwork. they were merciless and made me stand there and get everything completed. we gave them our birthplan and told them we wanted to just go natural as long as possible and not be offered medicine or intervention of any kind unless judah or i was in danger.

then they asked me what time my water broke. uh-oh. it was now 5 am and my water had broken at 1 pm the previous day. 16 hours. we couldn't lie, but so so so didn't want to be on anybody's radar as having a clock ticking down over our heads to intervention time. so i said, "it broke at one..." and the nurse goes, "okay, so, four hours ago." sure why not. shwew. that was close.

so i get into the bed and meet our sweet little nurse. i get the hospital gown, mesh panties, and puppy pad treatment that really glam-ify childbirth. our nurse was super nice and made me feel very welcomed and cared for. she tells us dr. T is on call which was not the best news we had heard since out of the 4 OB's in my practice she was probably #3 on our list. she comes in to "check me" for the first time at about 6 am.

dear sweet, moses. i had been checked at OB appointments in the final weeks of pregnancy and i have had routine gyno visits. this was another level. i was wondering what my tonsils had to do with labor as she reached up to her armpit to assess my situation. then i feel the tsunami. i don't don't how she wasn't soaked because pretty much the entire rest of my water broke all up on her. it was very painful having my cervix manhandled. finally she gets out of dodge and give us the much-awaited stats: 3-4 cm dilated. water definitely broken. okay. so that was good. i wasn't expecting to be so lucky as to have gotten all the way to a 7 or 8 at home and i was just hoping to avoid the disappointment of a 1 or 2 PLUS broken water that i know would have made me a prime candidate for induction. she said she'd let us labor and see how things progressed.

at about 7, just as the sun was rising our nurse came in and said that she was off duty and a new nurse would be taking over. enter adrienne. i see this buff little chick come in and introduce herself in a super self-assured "i definitely know what i am doing" kind of way. i have got to say, i was thinking i was NOT going to like her. i didn't really have a reason, that was just a snap judgement and i wanted my sweet harmless little nurse back because i was pretty sure i could push her around, but adrienne did NOT give off such a wilting flower vibe. she says, "so i hear you want to go au naturale?" and i am like, shit, please don't try to talk me out of it right now or doubt me in any way. and then says, "awesome, i had my 2 kids naturally and you can totally do it." while that did make me feel a little better, it also made me be like, great, now i have to do it because she did it and i am the most competitive person alive and i can't let her be tougher than me or think i am a sissy.

adrienne tells us that dr. T is going off call as well and tell us that dr. beckford (who i affectionately refer to as "t-bex" because her first name is tanya) is on call now. dr. beckford, also known as #4 preference for our delivering OB. who always tried to tell me of the virtues of epidurals during my OB visits. oh man. i am kind of bummed because the least natural-birth-sympathetic OB is my doctor and because i have GI Jane/Jada Pinkett Smith as HawthoRN as my nurse. i didn't dispair though because i had jesse and he was all that i really needed to get through this entire thing. and i also had my body which had been designed especially for this challenge. i also would turn out to ADORE both adrienne and t-bex, proving again what a great sense of humor god has.

so the morning wears on and i get all the way to 6 cm by 11am. i walked around the room and went through contractions standing up. they were getting really intense but my breathing and relaxation were totally making them survivable. i was able to poop at some point which made me totally happy because it meant i wouldn't poop live and in color with an audience on the delivery table later on. around this time i also got completely freaked out by the idea of being a parent. i was seriously like, we can't do this, i just want to go back to being free and easy newlyweds when it's just two adults who get to do whatever they want all the time and not be terrorized by a baby. please, jesse, can we leave and forget all about this? he sweetly informed me that it was too late and after considering a mad mesh-panty-clad dash to the parking lot, i gave up and decided he was right.

at noon t-bex and adrienne came in to check me again and i was still at 6 cm. since we were nearing the 12 hour mark (so they thought...it was really almost at 24) she wanted to talk about pitocin to speed up labor and make me dilate faster. i was so against this (read jesse's story for why). t-bex really wanted it. i asked them to give me until 1pm to see if i progressed before really pushing it on me. they said okay. by this time my parents were at the hospital and getting regular updates from jesse. my mom had been pretty leery of the natural birth thing so i had jesse bring them back to see that everything was fine. they got to see one contraction while they were there. i just laid limp in bed and breathed really slow and easy while jesse rubbed my hand and talked me over the hump. my mom looked terrified but reassured that i wasn't being tortured.

so the moment of truth came at 1pm. i got cervically assaulted again only to find out i was still right at 6 cm. by this point i had been awake for 27 hours and in serious labor for the past 17 or so. i was really tired. t-bex left and i talked to adrienne about pitocin and how much i didn't want to do it. she said she totally understood but that she was concerned that if we went hours longer i might be too exhausted to get through the end stages before pushing and might be more prone to give up and ask for an epidural. or that i might even be too tired to push and have to get a c-section. but she said the longer we went, the more aggressive t-bex would have to be about interventions that i seriously wanted to avoid.

a cool thing that happened when adrienne checked me then was when she told us, "your baby has hair." since my water was broken she was touching judah's head. holy moly, that made things very real. there is a baby in there with hair who is waiting to come out and meet me.

so all of that considered, a little before 2pm i got the smallest allowable dose of pitocin in my IV. this now put an end to walking around freely since judah had to be monitored and i had to be on the IV.

you guys, there aren't really words for how much of a game changer this was. i don't know if i am super sensitive to pitocin or if i was already on the verge of speeding up and it just threw me into overdrive or if maybe i was having a super easy labor before and didn't know it.

the first contraction hit me and my entire universe came crashing down. the pain was so intense and so consuming that i literally couldn't think. there was no relaxing or breathing through it or staying on top or ahead of the contraction. i was in the ocean getting the living hell pummeled out of me by thundering waves of pain and couldn't think past just getting enough air to survive. i couldn't hear anything jesse was saying or coaching me on, my body was so tense and i was holding my breath with the pain of it all.

the first one passed and i just wanted to die. i had to go from 6cm all the way to 10cm like this? i wanted to try standing up right by the monitor and my IV pole i was attached to and adrienne came in and helped me do that. since things were getting rougher she stayed through a few more contractions. at some point i decided to sit down on a stool and drink some orange juice. the next contraction hit and i went to stand up through it and i passed out from the pain. jesse caught me. the next contraction slammed me and i threw up the juice from the pain. i was now having raging back labor in addition to the front-feeling contractions i had been having all along. it was like being stabbed in the spine with an ice pick. jesse tried massage and i almost murdered him right then on contact. we tried an ice pack and it made it worse. nothing helped.

while i was up against this wall, losing hope, moaning and suffering beyond the limits of my imagination i kind of lost jesse. i think he got a little scared when i passed out and threw up and was kind of freaked out by how intense and out of control i had become so quickly. i also had probably yelled at him when something he was doing wasn't working and was being pretty mean. i am tearing up right now thinking of how much he loves me and how hard this must have been to him and how helpless he must have felt. especially as a card-carrying certified bradley-birth coach. we thought all we would need was each other.

but on the other side of me was adrienne. a virtual stranger. a nurse. a mom. a woman who had been through this fire twice herself. she was saying some really hard things to me. she was being firm and when i would say "i cannot do this" she would respond "yes you can, keight, you are in control, get back in control of this contraction." i think if jesse had said this to me i would have mike tyson-ed his ear off. but i just couldn't cuss out or scream at or ignore adrienne. maybe it was my inborn southern genteel manners that were still present somewhere underneath the rabid wookie that i had become, but i just could not tell her to please shut up and fuck off like i wanted to. so i listened. i found her voice while i was being dragged under and somehow it got me through. not gracefully, not with any kind of toughness, but it got me through those contractions whimpering and clinging to some shred of hope.

after this point adrienne offered me a shot of some kind of pain medicine. she said it wouldn't numb anything but it would take the edge off of the pain a little bit. ugh. i was so against any kind of pain medicine but i was also against death by torture so i said i would try to move to the bed for one contraction and see if that helped and if not i would take the shot. big mistake. getting back in a laying position made things even more painful. but by this point i couldn't move enough to get back out of bed to make it better. i took the shot.

y'all, i am still pretty sure that adrienne accidentally gave me a vitamin shot instead of painkillers because if that was "taking the edge off" i don't ever want to know what those damn edges might have been like. nothing changed. by this point the pitocin was turned off since it had very clearly done it's job in speeding up and moving along labor. the one hour i spent having pitocin contractions was about 100 times worse than all 18 hours before it combined. i will never have pitocin again. if they say i have to i will say, not before i get an epidural. it's just not within me to do that again, knowing now what it is like.

since i was already in the bed, adrienne decided to check me and see if the hour had brought any progress. as soon as she got in, she got right back out. i was at a 9. she went off to call t-bex so that she could come to the hospital in time for delivery.

i ask you, what's worse than a pitocin contraction? a pitocin contraction and feeling like you have to take a giant dump too. yup, the long-awaited pushing stage was upon me. a lot of bradley birthers described pushing as a kind of finish line. no longer are you sitting back and riding the contractions, but now you are able to ACT and do something to move your baby closer to your arms. some had even said that pushing wasn't nearly as painful as stage 2 labor and transition (the parts right before pushing). but i also knew i couldn't push until i was all the way at a 10 because i could mess up my cervix and make things harder for myself.

so adrienne came back in and jesse told her i was having the urge to push. she said to try to wait if i could so that t-bex would have time to get there. then about 27 people came in all at once. it is so funny how during pregnancy i worried about who would see my vag in the full stirrupy glory of labor and would be mortified by the thought. all the women i talked to said, trust me, you will NOT care when it is happening. they were so right. the neonatal nurse came it to set up judahs receiving area, a few more nurses came in and started prepping the room from a labor setup to a delivery setup, i think there was a male custodian there too for some reason and ross perot may have even made and appearance at some point. all through this process i am still having horrible pitocin contractions along with the heavy feeling in my butt of a human trying to escape me.

they turned on the special overhead lights for delivery which was essentially a spotlight in the ceiling pointed at my crotch. again, i didn't care. i was not putting any effort into pushing since t-bex wasn't there yet and i didn't think it was time. at some point i started kind of half-assed pushing because i thought i heard that i was close enough to start and i had learned that the pushing stage usually takes 1-2 hours so i wanted to get warmed up.

i remember after maybe 5 minutes of sort-of pushing hearing jesse be like, ok keep going, push hard. and i said, "i'm not really trying, it's not time to push for real yet," and looking down and asking adrienne if i was at 10 yet and had the full go ahead to push. she went to check me and said, "keight i am about two inches in and i am touching his head. push for real." i also recall adrienne and another nurse down in the action zone talking about who was going to "catch." the other girl was offering to do it and adrienne said something to the affect of, "hell no, this is so mine." at that point i realized things were really close to happening since they didn't think t-bex would be there in time to do the delivery herself.

i looked at jesse and he was so excited and encouraging. he said "he's almost here!" i was positively dying from the pain of contractions and the pushing urge, but i was ready. i pushed just like we had been taught.

remember how the ladies in the birthing videos and books described pushing as "not painful" compared to earlier labor because you are an active and athletic participant? those bitches lied. pushing a baby out of your vagina feels just like all the horrifying contractions beforehand with the added bonus of shitting a bowling ball that is covered in steel spikes and made of lava thrown into the mix.

that was the first real push. i get a break between contractions as jesse tells me he could see judah's head (dear lord, bleach jesse's eyeballs from having to see such a thing). here comes another one. yup, just as bad, except with this one, i don't get the relief of afterwards judah going back in a little bit. the first one i had pushed him out a bit but then he had gone back in a tiny bit, which gave some relief while i waited for the next contraction/push. i had discovered the ring of fire. this is where his head is like halfway out and i am just stretched to capacity. i decided not to wait for the next contraction, because HOLYFUCKGETTHISTHINGOUTOFMENOW is generally my point of view when i have a spiked lava ball hanging halfway out of my vagina.

most pregnant women are terrified of a common thing: tearing. this is just what is sounds like. whether it's because the baby is too big, or you don't give your body enough time to stretch like it can, the vagina rips while the baby comes out. this can range from superficial all the way to breaking through all of the tissue and muscle between your baby hole and your pooper. doesn't sound great, huh? this can be incredibly painful for recovery.

doctors will sometimes perform episiotomies to prevent tears by making a straight cut to provide some more room for the baby. since tears are less controlled they are harder for OB's to repair (re: not a straight line of stitching like an incision would be). and they are used to prevent the occasional upward tear. i wasn't afraid of tearing because we had learned that it supposedly doesn't hurt at all when it occurs because the skin is pulled so tightly anyway that you can't feel it (extend your thumb and index finger as far away from each other as they will go and pinch the webbing in between...it doesn't hurt by the same principle). but an upward tear scared the crap out of me. these tears can affect sex forever after and i think even mess up your pee hole too. yikes and no thanks.

but that fear and knowledge and resolve to be a patient pusher and give my body time was all in the cozy pain-free luxury of life spent NOT in labor. while i had judah there with just his forehead out i remember someone saying something like i needed to slow down that i was going to tear and i quite clearly remember thinking these words: "rip it to shreds like a paper bag, i don't give a shit since i'm never having sex again anyway, get him out of here!" so demure.

so that's exactly what happened. and the bitches that lied about pushing turned out to have not been lying about tearing. it didn't hurt at all. i felt a distinct pop-pop-pop and then relief. ahhh, it was all over. i was done. there was no more horrifying pain. i laid back on the pillow, exhausted.

that's when jesse says, "uh, honey, you still need to push his body out. " oops. poor little judah is just prairie-dogging it down there with his head out, wearing me like a turtleneck. i should probably do something about that.

so i bear down for my fourth total push. holy moly what a joke. baby bodies are miniscule compared to their monstrous un-tapered heads. it took all the effort of a fart after eating krystal to push his entire body out in one slippery go.

i delivered my son into the ready arms of adrienne. as she immediately handed him up to rest on my chest all i could say was, "i'm not pregnant anymore!" i wish i had said something more profound or touching to fit the moment, but i was pretty happy i was done with all that unpleasantness. and being not pregnant also meant having judah here finally

as i held my seconds old child while the nurses wiped him down and checked his breathing, guess who came in? t-bex. she was just in time to deliver...the placenta! i nursed judah (he was a champ from the very beginning) and then gave him to jesse. it was at this point that i realized something weird was going on. i was shaking violently and was freezing cold. i was so exhausted and dr. beckford had been doing something down there for a looooooong time.

then a dude walks in and introduces himself as the anesthesiologist. i was like, "crap, buddy, you're about 90 minutes late." turns out i had a crazy up and downward tear that was too tricky to sew up in the delivery room so i was being taken to an O.R.: awesome, the birth of a real life Vagemort. the doctor told me he was giving me a shot and it wouldn't put me under but it would make me not care what was happening but that i was so tired that i would probably essentially by knocked out by it. i told jesse to stay with judah the entire time so that he was never without one of us and i got wheeled out of the room that i became a mother in. i was so incredibly out of it. the operating room was like NASA, all white and bright and sterile and as they put my arms in these wonderful heated sleeve thingies (i was SO SO SO cold and shaking...i was probably in shock) i remember thinking that i was an astronaut being suited up for launch. i heard adrienne and t-bex there at my feet and then nothing else.

the next thing i remember i am waking up in a recovery area and adrienne is at the end of my bed filling out some paperwork. jesse is there beside me holding my newly swaddled son. it was the greatest thing to wake up to. i was covered in blood and so gross. i was exhausted and starving but in no pain or discomfort finally. one of the first things i said was, that was fun doing the natural birth, but i think next time i might see what an epidural is like. and adrienne says, well if you were going to get an epidural for one of them, it should have been the first because the second will be so much faster and easier. things that would have been good to know yesterday.

this picture has been on here like 10 times, but its a favorite. my fingernails have blood under them. i was fresh from battle

all things considered i am very happy with my childbirth experience. was it fun? no, but it was gratifying for the vast majority of it. did i feel like a failure for having taken pitocin and that damn imaginary painkiller shot? very much so since that wasn't what my goal had been. but i can honestly say that i will attempt to give birth to all of my children naturally; even after all that. it was so worth it. the part that was horrible had nothing to do with natural childbirth. those were unplanned medical interventions that we decided to accept given the circumstances and how we were progressing. the horribly painful parts of my story aren't a part of my natural childbirth experience; they are the not-so-natural things that we introduced and even still were totally worth it as a labor of love and are fairly comical to look back on. all the calm and peaceful hard work that i put in before the pitocin was my natural childbirth and it really was awesome doing it just me and jesse and judah. i wonder what pushing would be like without pitocin. maybe the lava bowling ball will be more like a downy cotton ball. here's hoping i get to find out in about 3 months!