Friday, March 16, 2012

Growing up is Hard to do, or How I Came to Fold Laundry at 10 p.m.

I was standing over the changing table last night, putting away prefolds and diaper inserts, and folding cloth wipes, when it hit me:

I am a fucking grown up.

I have a mortgage, I have a car payment, I have a lawn mower. And I have a son, who is peacefully sleeping while I'm up at 10 p.m., putting the diapers and wipes away because I sure as hell don't want to do it in the morning. And oh my fucking god, we're out of coffee? SERIOUSLY? How does this happen?

Part of me still feels like I'm still figuring it out, like I'm still the girl that moved here all by herself at 22. But this year I'll turn 30.

And I have a son. Did I mention that?

Oh, and we're out of French Roast.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Jane


When my husband and I started keeping chickens about five years ago, we never thought we'd grow so attached to the birds. My mother still thinks I'm crazy to give them names and keep them long after they've stopped laying. For her, as a woman who grew up in a very rural area in Texas, chickens are for eggs and meat, not pets.

Obviously, I am not my mother. When we brought our first few chicks home from a feed store in Pleasant Grove, I fell in love with the fuzzy little creatures. We had to part ways with two of the original three, which turned out to be roosters, but we still had little Jane Gallagher who was sweet as pie and laid the most amazing, beautiful blue eggs.

She was timid by nature, so she was constantly being picked on by the other gals. We made sure she got plenty of treats regardless of Audrey or Elaine's moods. And when Scout passed away from the heat last summer, I though she would surely be sad to lose one of her close buddies. But she showed how incredible and resilient she was and found her new spot among our flock with ease.

It's crazy that I don't have a single bad memory of Jane. She was always a good-natured bird, if a bit skittish at first. She was quick to scurry across the yard if she saw one of us bringing out lettuce or an apple. We joked that she was famous because she was the only chicken we knew that had her picture in the paper.

Yesterday, though, the poor girl was going downhill fast. She was hit with some crazy infection and wouldn't eat. She was so weak that she couldn't lift her head. She was telling me that it was time. She was telling me that I needed to let her go. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

I have to give a lot of credit to Dr. Lavender and the thoughtful staff at Metro Paws Animal Hospital in Lakewood. They were amazing, and didn't treat me as the crazy lady with the chicken. They were compassionate, and they gave Jane the dignified death that a good chicken deserves.

It was hard, holding her as she passed away, but I kept thinking about all the amazing memories we'd made, about how glad I was that Cooper got to meet her and give her some treats, and about how fast five years with a great little bird goes.

We'll miss you, Jane Gallagher.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trying Every Day to be The Mother I Want to be

So, I think I've said this already, but this motherhood gig is pretty hard. That's not to diminish my husband's role (it is primarily of the "go fetch this I'm doing _______ with the baby" variety).

I think the major difference is the guilt. I'm not going out on a limb here when I say that fathers don't feel the kind of deep, panging guilt that mothers feel. Every day I get up and have to recommit myself to giving Cooper the best life I can. Usually it's after a crappy night's sleep, especially now that he's teething like crazy.

But there are a couple of ways that I've let him down, and myself down, too.

I mentioned previously that breastfeeding has been a major disappointment for me. I had a great commitment to exclusively breastfeeding Cooper for the first six months, but I let a moment of weakness sideline my plans. And after that, it was all downhill.

I can't go into detail, but let me just say that there was a member of my extended family who voiced their concern at a time I was sleep deprived and emotional. I really can't think about that time without getting my dander up, but in effect, she said that I was being a poor parent for not giving my son formula.

That's when I started to second-guess my instincts. Shortly after that, I had to have emergency gall-bladder surgery. From there, my milk supply was never the same.

Cooper is now mostly formula fed. He's getting close to 8 months old, and it makes me so sad that the start I had planned for him is nothing like what he's experienced.

If you are a mother, I'm sure you know what this guilt feels like. It weighs on your shoulders at night, and is still the same heavy burden in the morning.

Of course, he really doesn't care. He still smiles at me when I look into his eyes. He still babbles on and on just to hear the new noises his little voice makes. He still rolls over with glee as I try my hardest to get a diaper on him.

He's still my sweet baby. And I love him more than anything in the world.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Notes on Motherhood

I've been writing this post in my head for about three months, so here goes:

1. The first two weeks of being a mother are incredibly difficult and incredibly rewarding, and every time someone asks me if we'd consider having another baby, I think back to those two weeks ...

2. I cannot believe how many raised eyebrows I get over the whole cloth diapering business. It's not that hard, people! Civilization has been cloth diapering for a lot longer than we've been throwing them away.

3. Buying organic cotton disposable diapers is a slippery slope. It lets your in laws know what brand of disposable you would buy in the instance that you are traveling/going to a day-long event, which leads them to buy a huge package of them and leave them at your house. (I'm considering hiding them so we won't think about using them. Fer crissakes, just do the damn laundry, Jo.)

4. Breastfeeding is very hard. This has been my biggest disappointment after having to have a C-section. From the start I was dead-set on breastfeeding exclusively (much like I was dead-set on having a natural child-birth ...) But you know what they say: Man plans, God laughs. I've tried myriad things but haven't been able to produce more than two ounces at any one pumping session. I still haven't exhausted all of my options, so I'll keep trying. Still, though, it makes me feel like a huge failure.

5. Before, and even while I was pregnant, I never thought I'd want to be a stay-at-home mom. And while it's not economically feasible for me to stay home, it's all I think about sometimes.

6. Cooper has the most amazing little personality. At almost 3.5 months, we're finally getting him figured out. He learns new things at an astonishing pace, and he's growing so fast. He was never really tiny, but it's incredible how big he's gotten so quickly. And he's so quick with a smile. These things are really what makes parenthood worth it.

7. If I ever had a hard time keeping up with the chores before we had Cooper, I am now in a permanent state of behind-edness.

8. Also, I still feel like I have pregnancy brain. "Behind-edness?" GOOD LORD. USE YOUR WORDS, WOMAN.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Unexpected Birth of Cooper Conoly

I was pretty confident that I'd be able to pull off a natural hospital birth, especially considering how much I had prepared. I took a Bradley class, hired a doula, created a detailed birth plan, and made my wishes abundantly clear to my OB. Top it off with the fact that on the night of Aug. 3, I was already having some early labor contractions. To me, at least, there was still hope!

And then, on Aug. 4, I went to get Prostin gel administered to my cervix as a last ditch effort to avoid an induction scheduled for Aug. 8.

Everything started out pretty routine. I was strapped onto the monitors in the maternity observation ward at the hospital at around 10 a.m. The nurses started a 20 minute strip and said that the whole thing would likely take less than three hours. I was pretty happy with that, thinking that I'd be home shortly after lunchtime, with plenty of time to try taking some castor oil.

Then, the OB on duty came in to check my cervix. I was a little disappointed that there was no change — I was still "a very soft but long 1 cm." Then came the news that would change everything: The monitor was showing I was already having several mild early labor contractions, and the baby's heart rate was slowing during each one. "Decels" they called them. I was kind of confused at first. I thought that it was something that happens at times during normal labor, but the OB said that it would be common during perhaps Transition and Second Stage, but decels in Early Labor meant that something wasn't right.

So, he called my OB, who then came down and gave me the news. I was going to have a baby today, likely within the next couple of hours. I was going to need a C-section if we were going to make sure the baby and I were both going to be safe.

Immediately, I burst into tears. To me, this was the worst possible outcome. Not only was I going to have to go through a C-section — the exact opposite of everything I indicated in my birth plan and against everything else I'd planned for — but my baby boy was in somewhat eminent danger, too.

It took my husband and I a while to soak it all in. We were finally going to meet our boy, but it was in the absolute worst conditions. We were at the whims of doctors and nurses who were trying to comfort us with sterile explanations and jargon.

We were both elated and heartbroken at the same time.

The only real comfort came from our doula, Lara, who rushed to the hospital to attend the birth. Although she'd never attended a C-section, I really don't know what we would have done without her emotional support. It was such a whirlwind, and I felt so out of control throughout the whole thing.

They hooked me up to an IV and wheeled me into the OR, where I was given an epidural and then prepped for delivery. Everything after that was kind of a blur until I heard our boy's first cries. I was so incredibly grateful to hear his voice, and know that things were getting at least a little easier to handle.

But it was so agonizing to see him moved to the warming table, just a matter of feet away, and not being able to hold him, nuzzle him, or have his skin against mine. It wasn't until he was already swaddled and cleaned off that he was placed on my chest with the help of my husband and Lara.

Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked at my boy. He was so beautiful and amazing. I fell in love with him instantly.

It took what felt like forever for them to suture me up and dress my wound. It was an eternity, or at least it seemed that way because I desperately wanted to hold my baby.

Soon enough I was moved to a gurney, and my boy, Cooper, was handed to me. I stripped off the top of the gown and placed him on my chest. It was like a powerful drug, his smooth skin against mine. We then moved to post-op observation, where our journey began. We started breastfeeding as soon as we could, and that's when they told me his stats: 10 pounds, 3 ounces, 20.5 inches long with at 15-inch head. When the OB came in to follow up, she told me that not only was his distress likely caused by his size, but he also had his cord wrapped around his neck twice and there was some meconium staining in the amniotic fluid.

In any case, while I'm still mourning the birth I didn't get to experience, I'm glad I have my amazing son in my arms.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keeping Busy

So, our little bundle of joy (OLBOJ) is technically due tomorrow. HOWEVER, I doubt he's going to be here before the end of next week. I'm just lucky that way.

We had another sonogram last Friday and, according to their measurements, OLBOJ isn't all that little. In fact, they're estimating him to be a whopping 9 pounds 2 ounces.

Yes, this scares the ever-loving beejeebus out of me. Yes, I know that sonograms aren't entirely accurate.

So, after the appointment I did what I normally do, which is call everyone who has asked to be updated about OLBOJ. While I was talking to my father, he mentioned that he was born at 9 pounds 11 ounces.


I have a whole new realm of respect for my late grandmother. That is a big ass baby.

Otherwise, OLBOJ is healthy, and quite content to stay in the climate-controlled environment of my uterus.

There was a bright spot to the appointment: I am 1 cm dilated. That's more than the previous week, but still not exactly huge progress.

To distract me from my lack of cervical progress, I've been knitting. In fact, I've finished a few things!

Our not-so-little one's baby blanket (rav link)

A sweet baby cap (rav link)

A pair of socks I started during our trip to Chicago last year (rav link)

And a pair of baby booties and a pair of baby socks.

I guess I should get back to knitting. Maybe something will happen?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Still Pregnant

Tomorrow we are at 39 weeks.

I feel like I have been pregnant forever.

The end.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Patiently Awaiting

I probably don't say this often enough, but I am very lucky to have tremendously talented friends. They run the gamut from analysts, to scientists, to painters, to furniture makers, to therapists, to sculptors, to writers, editors, and photographers.

I am also lucky to be able to take advantage of their talents from time to time. In the most recent case, the lovely Emily Stoker offered her talents to help us capture the last few moments before we meet our son. If you are in need of a portrait photographer in the Dallas area, I cannot recommend Emily more highly. She's easy-going, professional, and open to ideas. And wow, is she talented!





View the whole Flickr set here.

Friday, July 01, 2011

No One Looks Good in a Hospital Gown

Since we started going to our obstetrician, the appointments have always been a little nerve-wracking. You never really know what's going to happen, but the routine is at least predictable.

Sign in, wait for the nurse to call you back, get weighed (eek!), pee in a cup, get your blood pressure taken, and head to the waiting room for God-knows-how-long until the doctor can see you.

Usually, to pass the time in the waiting room and then the second waiting room (also known as the exam room, however I spend a good 5/6 of my time in there waiting, not being examined), I knit on a blanket for my little guy. It's just soothing garter stitch. Knit, knit, knit, and turn.

When the doctor comes in, we quickly chat, talk about how I'm feeling, and then she measures me. After that, she uses a little doppler heart monitor to get the baby's heart rate.

Usually, this takes five seconds. Yesterday, after the most excruciating minute of my life, we couldn't get an accurate reading on the monitor. The doctor said that, perhaps the monitor was picking up my heart rate, but it was showing about 140 beats and then would waver to 80-some-odd beats. Dips like that, the doctor said, could be signs of fetal distress.

This is where I promptly freaked out.

So, just as a precaution, I was sent down to the Labor and Delivery triage area and on to the Maternity Observation ward, where I had to go through the VERY EXACT THING I DID NOT WANT TO GO THROUGH: I was strapped to a fetal monitor for three-plus hours.

It was agony in more ways than one: First, while I'm laying there, scared shitless an unable to see the monitor, all Dave could do was stare at the monitor. This is why I want the very bare minimum of fetal monitoring during labor. I'm having the baby, and my emotional well-being and ability to move around and get comfortable and be supported is just as important. It's what'll help the baby get out faster, and who doesn't want that?

When the nurse returned, I begged her to tell me what was going on.

"Everything looks fine," she said. The baby had a stable heart rate, and I was having very, very mild contractions, or Braxton-Hicks contractions.

We filled out a shit ton of paperwork and then remained hooked up to the infernal monitor for another three hours. Then an OB resident came in to do a brief ultrasound to check our fluid levels (which makes this sound like I'm a car in the garage for a tune-up). There was very little change, which was good.

And then we left. After all that emotional crap, after crying and freaking out, we just left. Everything was normal. We were fine. The baby is fine.

And now, more than ever I am so ready to have this baby. Hopefully he'll be ready soon, too. Real soon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


If you've been reading my twitter feed (it's right there in the sidebar, y'all!) you probably know that I was pretty darn sick for the past week. It wasn't until just yesterday that I felt like I was going to live through this.

On Thursday of last week I had no choice but to go to the doctor. A sore throat, congestion, and cough had been keeping me up at night. Having a near constant, hacking cough when you're pregnant is not comfortable at all. Your abdominal muscles are stretched so tight as it is, that when you cough, the muscles become tired and achy quickly.

So, I went to the doctor. And, after a Strep test, she confirmed that it was an upper respiratory infection. While I was glad it wasn't Strep, I was kind of irritated that she didn't have any other solution for me. I'd exhausted the hot tea/Tylenol route. I needed some relief!

Which brings me to the paradox I discovered just two days ago: I've cut out alcohol and caffeine and bottled water and some of my favorite cosmetics to make sure I'm not poisoning this kid. But when I get sick, I'm begging the doctor to give me a prescription.

Five days after my first trip to the doctor, I couldn't take the sleepless nights and hacking cough any more. The doctor prescribed a Z-pack and just 24 hours later, I tell you, I'm a totally different person.

It seems kind of ridiculous, doesn't it? No toner, moisturizer, or scented lotion, BUT YOU BETTER HAND ME THOSE ANTIBIOTICS RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND!!!