Friday, April 6, 2012

I've been so busy this week!  I keep thinking of lots of things to blog, and I write myself a quick note and say, 'self, blog about this when you have time'.  But Self hasn't had time. :(  So I'm slowly catching up...

I had both ends worked on this Monday! 
I hadn't had my eyes checked since I was 12 (can you fucking believe that was 18 whole years ago?! damn, I'm old).  I went to see the optometrist, Dr. Angelface.  Let's pause for a moment and explore why he's called that, 'k?  So my friend Caroline who lives in Gibsonville (which is relatively close to the Mebane--it's pronouced 'me-bon-e', or 'meh-ben', but please god don't say 'me-bane'--where I live) had her eyes checked out by this guy in Burlington (also in our 'hood) and LOVED him.  Super sweet, super young (for a doctor that's not a resident or a fellow), and gave her lots of free things.  Caroline, being the saccharine southern sweetheart she is, dubbed him 'Dr. Angelface'.  Two weeks after Caroline's appointment, I get one of those coupon books in the mail (you know the ones with all the local places in them), and the very one on top was a coupon for $100 off a new pair of glasses and Dr. Angelface's little baby face right square on it.  So I say 'OK, Universe, I'll go get my eyes checked!'.  

So I went with my little coupon, thinking I wouldn't need it anyway because I've never had glasses and I don't intend on starting now, and it's just a $20 copay for the exam anyways.  I go in, and Dr. Angelface takes me back (and he seriously does look like a little boy playing doctor.  Caroline says 'bless his little heart'.  she makes me squee.) and we sit in a dark room and talk about my eyeballs for a while, and we poke at them and blow air in them and take pictures of them and I look in the little peep holes and recite letters and all that jazz.  He spent about an hour with me face to face--rare these days with any type of western medical doctor, but he's still young, and not yet jaded and bitter--and by the end we decided that I have astigmatism, and I've probably had it for ever and have been ignoring it/not noticing it until recently.  Yay.  The picking out frames for my new old lady glasses took almost as long as the eye exam itself (I had no idea I'd have so many choices!  I think in most any given situation we have too many choices of what to buy, but that's a whole other blog post).  Anywaysies, I picked out these!

They are blue. They have alligators on them.  Yes.  I'm excited and feeling old!  I pick them up on Monday.  Fun times! 

 Now on to my other end:
(spoiler alert/caution: I talk about IUDs and my menstrual cycle.  you may want to close one or both eyes.  or if you have a glass eye--wink to KJ--then just take that one out and let it roll around on the floor.)

So after I had Zoe, we didn't want to have another baby five minutes after that (Jeremy and I can't stand too close together or we make babies), so I had the Paragard IUD put in--it's copper and non-hormonal, thought it would be awesome.  Turns out it just made me have super long, heavy, painful periods.  No funs.  So I had that sucker yanked out, and had the Merina IUD put in--it works by releasing local progesterone, thought that would be awesomer (one of the side effects of progesterone is lighter/shorter periods).  Turns out that one stopped my menstrual cycle all together, and I hadn't had a period in over 6 months.  Way more no funs.   My body was stagnant, I was a hormonally-charged crazy person, I was tired all the time, and just felt like shit.  So the lovely Rachel at the Women's Birth Center in Chapel Hill (I highly recommend the gals there--they do prenatal visits as well as well-woman care and even primary care, and are fantastic) yanked that one out too.  Enough.  I'm done with hormones.  I'm done with controlling my body with fake things.  I have never in all my life looked so forward to a period than I did this week.

I know (if you're a dude, or a lady who has trouble with your cycle), you're probably thinking, 'no periods?! that's awesome!'.  It's actually not.  I'm 30, and it's taken me most of my life to realize two things: 1. our society has created a huge stigma for women about having periods, and most women are brainwashed into thinking our periods are something to either be ashamed of, fear, or associate with discomfort, dirtiness, or some other negativity.  2. being a woman and having a period is AMAZING. and beautiful and magical.  Our bodies are in rhythm with the moon.  The fucking moon.  How amazing is that?!  Women have this wonderful opportunity to be in communion with the earth, to participate so intimately with the cycle of life and the Universe (whether you're pregnant or having babies, or not having babies and just having periods).  To go through a cleansing and renewal every single month.  How could that possibly be a bad thing?  But alas, we tend to fear what we do not know.  

The moral of the story?  Ladies, don't put yourself in the red tent.  Don't fear your own power as a female.  You don't have to be bombarded my synthetic hormones.  Having your period every month is not only healthy for you, it's also very emotionally freeing and abundantly empowering.  If your period isn't making you feel as such because it's too heavy, or too painful or too whatever else, then there's lots of things you can do about it that don't involve making yourself synthetically temporarily sterile and hijack your body, just ask me (seriously. e-mail me.).   Bleed.  Renew.  Be proud.  Celebrate your amazing self.  Dudes/partners, be cool with other birth control options (there's alot of them out there--some just for YOU, too. Google that shit.). Be supportive and respectful of our bodies.  Appreciate all the mind-boggling things a woman's body can do.  And most of all, let's love each other, and ourselves. :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lavenders Vera, Munstead, Hidcote, and Jean Davis

So.  So I am lame and haven't posted in a bit.  I'm human.  So there.

Anywaysies, let's start those Essential Oil posts, shall we?

And you know the one we'll start with.  You know it's Lavender.  It's the essential oil/fragrance (let's do EO for short, OK?) that everyone's heard of, whether they like it or not.  It's ubiquitousness abounds everywhere, from bath salts to lotions to baby baths to massage oil, ad nauseum.   The tricky thing is, though, is that most of those products you see with 'lavender' in it, don't actually contain any lavender.  The reason for this is because essential oils are expensive.

Here's a quote from Cynthia Loving (my amazing EO guru) that explains why :

Essential oils are highly concentrated.  The amount of essential oil extracted from an aromatic plant can range dramatically depending on variables such as:  weather conditions, soil, altitude, time of harvest, temperature, pressure and length of distillation.  The percentage of yield from various plants range from 2% for Rosemary to .05% Lavender to .006% of Rose.  That translates to approximately:  Eucalyptus - 25 lbs plant matter to make 1 lb essential oil; Rosemary - 50 lbs plant matter to make 1 lb oil; Lavender -200 lbs. plant matter to make 1 lb oil; Rose - over 16,000 lbs of petals to make 1 lb oil.
 That's alot of plant matter.  So most conventional (and even some so-called 'all natural') makers of stuff-to-put-smells-in go for the fake--synthetic fragrances that simulate the smell of lavender, or other EOs, to save moolah.  And lavender, because of it's popularity, happens to be on the low cost end of the EO spectrum.   Oh, those rascally makers of things.

Now lavender is one of those smells that people tend to either love or hate.  However, the vast majority of the haters are hating because they've been smelling fake lavender all this time--or a low-quality EO version.  I used to be one of those haters until I got my nose on a true Lavendula Angustifolia from France.  (fancy, right?!) It was sweet, herby, just the right amount of flowery, and not overwhelming in the least.  It was delicious.  There are several types of lavender EO (lavendula angustifolia from France, lavendula angustifolia high-altitude from Kashmir, lavendula spica from Spain, and a lavandin hybrida--a hybrid lavender-like plant from France).  We won't get all crazy here--we're just going to focus on the most-used version, the lavendula angustifolia (but we'll just call it lavender, as not to be pretentious and such).

Lavender is one of the go-to EOs for fragrance as well as healing.  It's the workhorse of the EO family, being used for a wide range of maladies as headache, insomnia, minor cuts, muscle pain, nausea, difficult labor, ringworm (yep, ringworm), asthma and even being an angrypants.  It's a very gentle oil, and as such can be used in a large variety of situations on a wide range of people, and even animals (IF you're trained; don't try animal aromatherapy unless you're an aromatherapist--animals are VERY sensitive to essential oils!).  Lavender is the great nurturer of all things--it strenghtens, renews, balances and relaxes.  Some of its amazing properties are: antibacterial/antiseptic, antifungal, antidepressant, analgesic, and sedative (but sedative in a good way--think 'oh the sweet sleepytime fairy has come floating along...', not 'holy shit was that a horse tranquilizer I just took?!').

Lavender EO corresponds to the Heart and Crown Chakras, making it particularly useful for assisting in opening up to love, acceptance, abundance, happiness, peace and wisdom.  Emotionally, lavender restores patience, lifts the fog of depression, balances mood swings, and rescues those suffering from mental and emotional burnout. Lavender moseys along side, picks you up, says, 'Hey, everything's cool, just be.'.

This is one of a few EOs you can use neat (undiluted) in small amounts for all kindsa topical applications: a drop directly on minor cuts and scratches (or even that damned ringworm), a drop rubbed on the temples for migraines, a tiny bit right on acne, or a drop or two rubbed into aching or spasmodic muscles.  It can also be sprayed in a base mixture, used in baths, steam-inhaled, in massage oil blends, and dumped generously into soaps, bath salts, skin balms and all manner of yummy body stuff by yours truly.

Word of caution: never, ever, ever (ever) ingest lavender essential oil.  That really goes for almost every other essential oil too. (we'll talk about the edible-in-very-small-amounts ones later).

To reward your oh-so-diligent reading of my oily rantings, here's a nifty recipe:

Languid Lavender Bath Salts

makes one bath

1 cup Epsom, Sea, Himalayan (if you're fancy) or Kosher salt (or a fun combination!)
1-2 tsp Jojoba oil (if jojoba isn't available, go for sweet almond or apricot kernel oil)
6-10  total drops Lavender essential oil

Pour salt into a medium bowl.  Mix in 1-2 tsp of jojoba/almond/apricot oil (more if you want more in-tub moisturization) with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until blended well.  Then slowly drop in Lavender EO--less for small bodies, more for larger bodies (but no more than 10 drops) while stirring.  Mix thoroughly.

Turn off all your screens (yes, you can do it!), fill a bath, stir in bath salts.  Hop in.  Read a book that has real pages. Have a glass of wine (or a hot cup of tea).  Chill.  Renew.  Relax.  Repeat.

Friday, March 9, 2012

THIS.  This is the exact sort of old lady I want to be.  God I love art cars.  And look at that Airstream!  Amazing.  You can bet your britches I'll be cashing out my 401k to buy a clawfoot tub and an Airstream trailer.

Posted from

Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car
Magnolia Pearl aka Robin "Pearl" Brown of Bandera, Texas and her partner John Gray opened up a business selling clothing and accessories made from vintage laces, velvets, silks, and embroidered linens from her collection. It all started with a bag she made that was so amazing that a total stranger tracked her down in store and bought it from her. So she made another and another and today she is an accomplished textile artist who has designed all kinds of things from vintage backpacks, purses, clothing, jewelry, and even some fine furniture pieces.

What interested me about her was her amazing 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud 4x4 Hippie Glam Art Car and the matching airstream that went with it. WOW!!! First of all, this Rolls Royce art car is even more over the top than John Lenon's Art Car, with more flowers and off road power in one car than all of Haight Ashbury and Monster Jam put together.

The airstream also has an amazing paint job but it truly is breath taking and cozy once you get inside and see all the details. She has completely remade this airstream in her unique style with plenty of texture and color to keep the eyes busy for a long long time. And after a long day of doing some off road cross country travel you can pull over and soak in a claw foot tub filled with hot water and  bubbles. Have tea and fall asleep in what looks like the most comfortableairstream bead I have ever seen.

Robin Bandera and her creations are a delight to the eyes and soul in every way and has managed to pull together her style using the elements at her disposal with ease and perfection, case in point. The only criticism I have of her is that she should have installed a roll cage inside the art car, but I am willing to over look this minor detail, this time:) Great Job!!!
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Rear - Photo by That Car

Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Grill - Photo by That Car

Magnolia Pearl aka Robin "Pearl" Brown of Bandera on the right
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Rolls Royce Art Car Inside - Photo by Jonny Valiant

Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Rolls Royce Art Car Inside
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream and Rolls Royce - Photo by Jonny Valiant
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream Rear - Photo by Jonny Valiant
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream Hallway - Photo by Jonny Valiant
Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream Bedroom - Photo by Jonny Valiant

Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream With Claw-Foot Bathtub - Photo by Jonny Valiant

Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream Shelving Space - Photo by Jonny Valiant

Magnolia Pearl 4x4 Rolls Royce Art Car Central
Magnolia Pearl Air Stream Inside - Photo by Jonny Valiant

late posting from Wednesday 3/7/12:

On Monday, I got us a fancy newfangled essential oil diffuser for the car!  I busted it out this morning with a little bergamot in there, and it was fabulous.  Bergamot is in my top 10 (maybe top 5) go-to essential oils.  So, with my relaxed-but-happy aromatherpied self in the car, I was thinking that wouldn't it be neat to do an essential oil feature on my blog, to educate folks on the many uses of essential oils in general, and highlight one in particular each week.  Mainly just because I love blabbing about them.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rush is a Douche.

Rush Limbaugh is a douchebag. I totally get that. I was super pissed when I read about his on-air antics regarding Fluke's defending her reproductive rights. I've seen several petitions floating around trying to get Rush taken off the air because of his comments. I would happily sign this petition to help take Rush off the air, except that in doing so, I would be asking someone to take away someone else's rights--the right to free speech. And isn't that what we're all so mad at Rush about to begin with? Wanting to take away or supress someone else's rights (in Fluke's case its the her reproductive rights)? While personally, totally disagree with everything the man has to say (and that's putting it lightly), no one has the right to take away someone else's right to free speech, just because they don't like what's being said.

Leave him be. Karma will certainly take care of him. And in the mean time, he's igniting a fire under the women's rights movement that we desperately needed. So, as yucky of a person he may seem, he's actually (ultimately) a catalyst for good.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Friday night skanking, Saturday afternoon naps, and other deliciousness.

So after aquiring the coveted childcare for the evening, last night I went along with Jeremy to his show at Kings Barcade in Raleigh.  I brought Caroline along with me (she hadn't been to downton Ral yet, and had never seen Jeremy play out either, so she was excited to come along).  The 'Bishops opened up for Bull City Syndicate.  We had dinner at some bar and grill close to my work, then beer (I had the beer, Jeremy had dessert because he's the sweetest, and he needs to keep his sugar levels up, and Caroline had a not so obnoxiously large glass o' wine) with the rest of the band at The Oxford Gastropub about a blockish from Kings.  Gastropub = a bar with really expensive food, in case you wonder.

After pre-show festivities, it was time to rock.  By the time we got there, there was already a decent crowd.  The 'Bishops blew everyone's faces clean off, and Caroline, Mollie (my Archbishops show dancing buddy who I'm fairy certain is either on a Redbull drip or insane) and I danced til we spilt our drinks and our hair got all fluffy and unmanagable.  A few more friends of Jeremy and I came out--Mindy and John, and Jerry (the ex trumpet player) actually made it out as well.  He's grown a beard, and I fully endorse it. 

Anywaysies, after the 'Bishops were the much anticipated headliner, the Bull City Syndicate.  Everyone in the 'Bishops and myself were super excited to see them, as we'd all heard how tight they were, and we were all looking forward to some horn blasty soul goodness.  They were in fact very tight, but gave less of a performance than I thought they would (stage presence-wise), and halfway through their set, us and the staff were the only folks left.  Mayhaps they were feeding off the non-crowd.  But we all had a blast, and we all got home safe and I hit the bed and slept like they weren't going to make anymore.

We got up this morning leisurely, and moseyed off to get the love of our lives, who'd been having magical fun times at Aunt Melody and uncle Tim's.  She is an angel wrapped in the sweetest dream, rolled in marshmellows and sprinkled with awesome.  She was very excited to see us, as always, and I swaer that child grows an inch everytime I take my eyes off her more than 12 hours.  We got home, and Zoe and I drifted off the napland while Jeremy held down the fort in awakeland.  Then we got up and had lunch, Jeremy went to bed (he's working tonight. Poopy), and off went Zoe and me to procure foodstuffs for the week.  For fuck's sake, organic produce is retardly expensive.  Doesn't that pesticide costs lots of money to make and spray?  Jesus.  So we spent lots of moneys and headed home to stow away our bounty, watch Jonah (can someone tell me why Jonah has a British accent in bible times in the middle of Israel??) and make dinner.  We had a salad of mixed greens, lemon chicken, carrots, cucumbers and cheese crumbles.  Yum yum. Zoe had mostly ranch dressing with a few bits of chicken and cheese, and one carrot string dangling from her mouth.  'I'm master Shifu!'.  God, I love her.

She's in bed, Jeremy's fed, coffeed and off to work, and I'm straight chillin' in the tub.  Not a bad Saturday.  Although it always sucks going to sleep without Jeremy.   :/ Being awake without Jeremy kinda isn't great either.  Hmph.  Tomorrow is Sunday (derp), and then Monday will be my first delicous day of not being at work.  I am so freaking excited to be off on Mondays, I just can't tell you how bad I am at work/life balance.  Or any sort of balance, for that matter.  Being a Virgo/Rooster/masochist, I plan on cleaning the house on Monday.  If I were a dwarf, I'd be the one who works all the time.  Wasn't there one like that? What was his name?  I don't know. Let's call him Worky. That's me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

In the beginning, there was Zoe.

Since I can't imagine my life before her, it's fitting to start this blog with Zoe's birth story.  I'm such a wuss.  I cry at everything, especially whilst reading birth stories.  They speak of such courage and triumph and fear and sacredness.  The story of your birth is a magical one, and one I wish my children to remember--to tell their children about some day.  It's a story that lives in your soul, weaving its meaning throughout your life.  There are no 'good or bad' birth stories.  They are all holy and honorable and blessed.  It took me quite a long time to come to terms with Zoe's birth story--there were so many 'expectations' I carried for myself, my pregnancy, for Jeremy, for her birth and her newborn weeks.  They were mostly bullshit.  When I learned to cast off the weight of my expectations, and move with the flow of life, things became easier, softer, lighter, and so much more joyful.

I could not write this myself.  I was too close to it.  In the days that followed her birth, Jeremy sat down on several occasions and poured it all out.  I could not even read it for about a month.  I had to get some space in between me and Zoe's birth before I could have peace with it.  As I write, Zoe is now 2 and a half (Great Odin's Beard, where does the time go?!) and is amazing and brilliant and sparkly and such a fiery Scorpio, the likes of which I have never seen.  So now I share it with the world.  (or the internets, whichever.)  I've come to be quite found of her birth story.  I've made peace with what I thought it 'should' have been.  I've learned that it was always what it was supposed to be--it was 41 hours, 30 peanut butter cookies, 15 lbs of lasagna, 3 shifts of midwives, 1 birth center, 1 hospital trip, 1 loving and dedicated husband, and one tiny, perfect, angel soul.

Caution: This is long as fuck.  It also includes discussions on bodily functions that, if you've never given birth before, may make you throw up in your mouth a little.  You've been warned.

by Jeremy Boomhower

I'm writing this down to remember it later, as if I could forget. It can't hurt though to have the details in digital copy. My memory's not what it should be. I'd say "used to be" but I can't remember what it used to be. So there. 

The run up to the birth was an exercise in patience. Everyone was telling us we'd have Zoe early; Chris [Kimmy's acupuncturist], our families, ourselves. To complicate things, we had two due dates. One was from the Birth Center, November 11, which was calculated using a lock of Kimmy's hair, tea leaves, eye of newt and a ouija board. Either that or a calendar in front of a dart board. Actually, it was a little cardboard wheel with different cycles on it and a guesstimate of the length of Kimmy's last few cycles. We felt that her last few cycles weren't representative of her overall internal clock since she'd just had a miscarriage 3-4 months prior and things were still sorting themselves out. The hospital gave us another due date, November 7. Which was based on the ultrasound measurements. We liked that one better. It seemed more clinical, and, best of all, earlier. 

Kimmy and I even conducted our own studies into uncovering the actual birthdate of our daughter. One such study involved asking the cats various days of the week until they meowed. It was all very scientific. We believed we had a large enough sample size, four cats, and a consistent methodology, I'd say a day and wait two seconds then move on to the next whilst Kimmy or I petted the cat being questioned. How could that miss? The consensus seemed to be Monday or Tuesday. Sadly, the cats proved to be the most accurate predictors even though we didn't believe them, or want to rather. We were still pushing for earlier. 

Our other method involved our bingo game we'd bought for the baby shower. We did this one twice. We'd lay out the cards and assign each a day for a 7 day spread and I'd use the little roly thingy to pick the numbers while Kimmy marked the cards. The first time we got a Monday, over a week before the actual birth, and the second time we got Friday, again, 4 days off. Stupid bingo game. That's the last time I ask you for advice. 

So yeah, the 7th came and went. No baby. Due date one = wrong. Kimmy had tried acupuncture for labor promotion and taken herbs to that effect as well. By then we'd resigned ourselves to wait and see. "She'll come out when she's ready." became our mantra. Now I know it seems like we're an impatient bunch. You have to understand something about us first. Kimmy is the kind of person that can't wait to hand out birthday and Christmas gifts early. I don't think I've ever opened a gift from her on Christmas day. I have a little more forbearance with regards to that sort of thing. I do have to put up with a lot of questioning around my various gift giving days. That is not to say I'm a totally patient person. I can wait on gifts and things, but when it comes to events or going somewhere, I get very fidgety. I don't know of any event more exciting than the birth of our child, aside from maybe our wedding, but at least that had a very specific time and date that I could hang on. Having a baby was nothing but a giant question mark so I was trying to be patient for Kimmy's sake so she wouldn't have any anxiety over the due date(s) coming and going which could actually slow things down. It was hard.

Sunday the 8th came and we had resigned ourselves to no baby that weekend, then Kimmy's water broke at 11:40AM. We didn't know that was the case at first. I was trying to be very cautiously optomistic about it. Kimmy had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for a few months at this point and had been experiencing other "different" contractions in the previous few days. I didn't want to get our hopes up and be dissapointed, but Kimmy kept leaking so we called the Birth Center and they confirmed that it was indeed a broken amniotic sac. "Yay! We're totally going to have a baby today!" ....Not! 

Every book and website we'd read said that most women don't even have their water break prior to labor starting. On the flip side, they said that, once the water breaks, the vast majority of women have their babies within 24 hours. "Yay! At the very least we'll have a baby by Monday!" ....Not! 

Regular contractions started happening around 2:00PM on Sunday. We called the Birth Center shortly thereafter and they told us to hang out at home until the contractions got 5 minutes apart and lasted for about a minute each. Great, that should be any minute now. any minute. now. soon. 5 hours later we're slowly creeping towards the regularity that they term as "active labor." During this whole process, Kimmy's listening to her Hypnobabies CD and making wonderful faces while I time the contractions and try to prep everything for leaving the house. Kimmy's mother called sometime shortly after Kimmy's water broke and we had to tell her what was going on, but we cautioned her to not come down until we told them we were leaving for the Birth Center. Kimmy wanted to labor in private as much as possible and did not want to deal with visitors no matter how well intended. That didn't exactly happen, but more on that later. 

While we were laboring at home I was trying to prep the birth bag, get the food ready for the Birth Center (we were making cookies as a birthday activity) and cook dinner for us right then and there all the while running back and forth with my timer and a pad to scribbling things down on. This is when our kitchen faucet decided to give up on us. The faucet had been causing us problems for months now, but, being the lazy forgetful people that we are, we simply tightened it that much tighter and went about our sinkly errands. This night, of all nights, it decided to ignore my efforts to stop the flow of water and keep on leaking. Not just a drip or a trickle either. This was like one of those plugin desktop waterfall that you buy to have nice calming water sounds while you work. Only this was not having a very calming effect on me. I couldn't leave it running because who knew how long we'd be at the Birth Center. I'd figured on being away from the house at least a full day and I didn't want the stress of a mile high water bill when we got home so I had to call our landlord, Wiley. He's a good guy and came right out, but ended up having to run back home for a part. This was about 7:30PM so Kimmy was progressing nicely with her contractions and bouncing on her yoga ball in the living room while Wiley worked in the kitchen. I was also still cooking dinner at the time and trying to defrost our "birthday lasagna" that we'd made a few days prior and frozen. I feel sorry for Wiley. I imagine it was pretty awkward trying to work on the sink while Kimmy was in the other room in labor with me flitting back and forth. The sink was fixed in about a half an hour, apparently two little washers had disintegrated. Back to Kimmy. 

By this point I'd finished all the food prep and was trying to keep up with the contractions and field calls from Kimmy's family. She didn't want the distraction of having to chat with them while in labor. Not an unreasonable request, but highly stressful for me since I had to tell them to stay at arms length the whole time. So I was trying to get Kimmy to eat the stir fry I'd made. I think she managed about a half dozen bites before she gave up. It was 8:00PM and the contractions had started to approach the magic frequency that would get us out of the house and on our way to the Birth Center. We called the midwife on call, Leigh Ann, and she said to meet her there at 9:00PM. I fed the cats again and gathered up all of our bags and food and Kimmy and left for the Birth Center. Luckily, it's only 10 minutes up the street so I wasn't too worried about leaving anything behind. I also got to call Kimmy's mother and brother to tell them we were headed over to the Birth Center. Burt sounded a little obtuse as I was trying to explain the directions to him and it turns out they were in Chapel Hill already waiting at Panera for us to call. They said that they'd left shortly after we called around 3PM. So that means they'd been cooling their heels for a couple hours already. Kimmy's mother suffers from the same sort of impatience that Kimmy has so I know she was just getting eaten up by the waiting game since she couldn't see Kimmy. 

We met the midwife at the Birth Center right at 9PM and she set us up in the room that Kimmy wanted. It was blue. I unloaded the bags and brought in the food. I offered some to the midwife since we had about 8lbs of lasagna and a couple dozen peanut butter cookies. She had some cookies and eventually had a piece of lasagna. I hope it was good. She was the only one to eat any of it. More on that later. 

Once we got in the room and got set up Kimmy's contractions started getting more powerful, but not really any closer together. The midwife did an exam and said that Kimmy'd only dialated to 4cm which was way less than we thought. She was trying to talk us into going back home and waiting until things got closer together, but that's when Kimmy's mother and brother showed up. Kimmy didn't want to see them just yet so I had to go tell them to hang out for a bit. The midwife asked if we were willing to go home, but Kimmy didn't want to deal with her mother and brother hovering over us so we talked the midwife into letting us stay and sending her family to our apartment. We just really didn't want to go back home. The midwife tried to explain it to her folks, but I ended up having to go out there and talk them into going to our place. They were agreeable, but I could tell they were very anxious. Burt kept insinuating that I was going crazy, when really I was just trying to juggle a brazillion things at once, including a laboring wife. I don't know why that bothered me, but it did. I gave them the key and directions and told them to make themselves at home since we had no idea how long this would take. Boy didn't we. Kimmy let them come in the room for a second before we sent them off so they wouldn't feel like they'd driven down for nothing.

After her folks left we settled into the rhythm of the contractions. Kimmy was having back labor, which apparently doesn't feel super great. So I was having to press down with almost all of my weight on her lower back everytime she had a contraction. All the while we're running this Hypnobabies track over and over that starts off with "Release..." By the time we got out of there I could swear we had the whole hour long track memorized. We'd listened to it at least 20 times all the way through. It was all about visualizing the baby coming out nice and easy and only feeling pressure. It didn't quite go like that. 

Zoe was also facing the wrong direction. They really needed her to be back facing, but she was more front facing and that helped contribute to a whole host of fun things for Kimmy. It definitely exacerbated her back labor and Zoe's head was pressed on Kimmy's lower intestines so she felt like she really had to poop the whole time. She was told not to push just yet. That was awesome. SO we're wandering around the room leaning on the bed, laying down, bouncing on a birth ball, etc. Everytime she had a contraction she'd stand up or lean over and I'd smash down on her tailbone about as hard as I could manage. I eventually had to just lean my forearm against my hand on her back to press hard enough. She wasn't shy about telling me if it was enough pressure. 

Fast forward to 2:30AM Monday morning. Kimmy had only dilated about a centimeter or two and we'd been up since about 8AM the previous morning so we were pretty pooped. They decided to give her a sedative to slow ease up on the strength of the contractions and give her some rest. They warned us that it would probably slow things down a little bit too. We crashed in the bed around 3AM still experiencing contractions about every 5 minutes and then they petered off to about every 10 minutes and we were grabbing little cat naps in between. Come 7AM we were slightly more rested due to accumulating about 2 hours worth of very broken sleep, but Kimmy's contractions had all but stopped. 

7AM Monday morning and no more steady contractions thanks to the sedatives, Bupain, I think. We were ever so slightly rested and extremely aggitated at the pace of the contractions. We hung around a little longer trying to figure out what to do. By that point the midwives switched shifts. Leigh Ann left and Kate came in. Kate took a look at the progress Kimmy was making and told her we needed to get out and walk around to see if we could jump start her labor again. We decided to give her mother a call, who had been chilling at our crib all this time, and ask her if they like to go get breakfast with us. We ended up going to Brueger's Bagels. Kimmy's mom paid for us all which was very generous of her, but I think it helped her feel better too by finally getting to do something for Kimmy. Apparently she also vaccuumed our house, fed the kitties and did the few dishes we had left dirty. I don't think she got any more sleep than we did. Her brother, on the other hand, promptly passed out when he got to our place. Anyways, we had bagels and walked around the Eastgate shopping area. Kimmy had maybe three contractions the whole time we were there. It was not encouraging. We headed back to the birth center around 10AM and sent Kimmy's folks back to our place. 

When we got back to the Birth Center the midwife made a bunch of suggestions for promoting contractions. Kimmy started taking herbs, Suki's Blend of stuff to make babies shoot out of you. They also had Kimmy take castor oil, which acts as a laxative as well as promotes digestive contractions which, in theory, leads to uterine contractions. Yeah, that was also awesome. Not only was Kimmy plugged up by the baby pressing on her intestines, now she really really had to go to the bathroom. Which is all she could talk about for a good 3-4 hours there until we were able to convince the midwife and nurse, also a Kim, to administer an enema. Oh Boy! That was fun for all involved. I felt so bad for Kimmy. On the plus side, her contractions were getting to be regular again, about 10 miuntes apart by 3PM, but she still wasn't dilating fast enough, maybe 6cm by this point. The Birth Center folks were telling us we might have to go to the hospital since, by that point, it'd been over 24 hours since Kimmy's water broke. This caused Kimmy to get very very upset. She did not want to go to the hospital. We were pretty committed to a natural childbirth experience. They agreed to let us keep trying natural methods to promote labor. 

Right around this point I had the idea to call an acupuncturist to come see if they could jump start things for Kimmy. I called her work and got a hold of her boss, Chris, and told him the situation. He called his wife, Toby, who was at home with their one year old, Eljah. She dropped him off at her folks place and ran by the acupuntcure clinic then headed straight to the Birth Center. She was there in 30 minutes from the time I called Chris. She jabbed Kimmy all full of needles and hooked her up to electrodes to continually stimulate the points. She looked like a pin cushion with wires everywhere. Not long after that her contractions started coming closer together. We felt like we were on the right track again, finally at about 5PM. 

Toby left and we settled into our very familiar routine of contractions and pushing on Kimmy's back. This went on for another good long while. We tried the tub to see if that would comfort her, but I couldn't reach her back while she was in the tub so she got back out. We'd been planning a water birth along so we were going to save it for later since she still hadn't moved into active labor again. More contractions and pushing. We did this so much that Kimmy actually developed carpal tunnel from pushing back against the bed during her contractions. At 8PM the midwives switched shifts again. Kate was on her way out and Sarah was on her way in. Yes. Three shifts if midwives. We'd been there far too long. Also, at some point before the midwives switched out, Kimmy's mother came by the Birth Center and dropped off my apartment key. She had to go home because they both had work the next day. I guess they didn't realize this would become a multi-day extravaganza. I felt really bad for them, but there wasn't anything we could do. 

Sarah said that Kimmy was still hanging out around 6cm when she did her exam and told us to keep trying the herbs and tinctures and voodoo which we did. Kimmy was very very worn out at this point having been in labor since the previous morning. I kept trying to get her to eat and drink things, but she'd only take water or Gatorade and maybe a cookie and a trailmix bar. The lasagna sat basically untouched this whole time. Kimmy was so tired that she was passing out between contractions and once even during one. She just busted out with something to the effect of, "but the chicken's still in the fridge!" I was a little perplexed until she said she'd passed out. 

Kimmy was in too much pain to lay down during contractions so I pulled a rocking chair up next to the bed and covered it with pillows so she could sit back and rest then stand up and lean over the bed when she had a contraction. I sat on a birth ball next to her the whole time feeling pretty tired myself. The contractions had peaked at about 5 minutes apart earlier in the evening, but they were starting to fall off a bit. Kimmy's uterus was getting too worn out to manage the labor. The midwife, Sarah, came in about 10PM or so and told us that the hospital was really the best place to handle this since it'd gone this long. They needed to induce Kimmy with Oxytocin, which they didn't have at the Birth Center. She also mentioned an epidural to give Kimmy some relief. She explained the whole process and told us that she'd meet us there to get everything set up and going. I expected Kimmy to protest and try to hang on to her idea of a natural childbirth, but she'd been at it for about 36 hours and was so worn out and tired that she just nodded and quietly said, "yes." 

Now we'd resigned ourselves to having a hospital birth. At least we were assured of meeting Zoe in the very near future. I started to gather up our things which, after 26+ hours at the Birth Center, had been scattered everywhere. We're not normally a messy family, but then again, we're not normally in labor let alone for a full day. We'd brought 2 bags of clothings and things and a couple bags of food. I don't think I reassembled it properly, but at that point, I didn't really care. 

Sarah had explained that we were to drive to the hospital on our own and meet her in the labor and delivery ward on the 4th floor of the Women's Hospital at UNC. She was going to call ahead and have us checked in already so all we'd have to do was roll up and ask where we could drop off the baby. I'd worked at the hospital next door to the Women's hospital, the Neuroscience Hospital, while we were saving up for our wedding so I knew how much fun parking was going to be. When I asked Sarah, she said that there was "stork parking" available right out front. I got specific directions twice to be sure I knew where this mythical parking lot was. I had no idea it was really just a drop off point. I thought we were going to pull right up to the front, point at Kimmy's belly, high-five the parking attendant, and be on our way. Yeah, no. Like so many other things with this labor, it was not that simple. 

So it's about 11:30PM on a Monday night and we'd reloaded the car with all of our birth paraphernalia and food stuffs. The cookies were mostly gone, but the lasagna was still intact. Our first midwife was the only one to have tried any of it, including me and Kimmy. I drove up to the hospital and started looking for "stork parking". I must have missed the sign by the front doors because I was looking for an actual parking lot. I found a likely little lot just off to the left of the front doors, but I didn't see any signs saying "expectant mothers" or whatever that would indicate the all clear to park for child-popping moms. In hind sight, I think we'd found the doctors' parking lot, because all of the parking spaces said "Reserved for Director of Center for Doctoral Parking" or something like that. For a wonder, I found an unclaimed/unmarked space in this tiny lot. Well it was almost midnight so it's not too surprising, but this is Chapel Hill. 

We didn't have to walk too far, maybe a hundred yards to the front doors, but Kimmy was completely exhausted by this point and were had to walk about .000005 miles per hour. I felt so bad for her. I just wanted to get her in a bed and hooked up to the epidural, but she wouldn't let me go ahead and get a wheelchair until we got to the front doors. I just walked with her very slowly, carrying all of our bags and supporting half of her weight. After all of our insistence on natural childbirth, it was oddly comforting to be going to the hospital at this point. We knew things weren't going to be exactly as we'd planned them, but by this point we were just letting go of our preconceived notions and working towards having our baby the healthiest way we could. The end goal was the same. We had to let go of a lot of things about this pregnancy and delivery, and I think it made us better people. 

So I got Kimmy in a wheelchair at the front doors and the guards asked about whether or not we wanted valet service of not. I was a bit confused and explained to them where we'd parked and they told me that the hospital would call in a giant robot to come smash my car into an artful metal sculpture if I didn't move it from the super special lot soon. They were kind enough to let me take Kimmy upstairs first. We got up to the fourth floor and rang the nurses at the locked doors for labor and delivery, apparently every hospital unit is hermetically sealed to ensure freshness. They waved us right in and lead us back to our room. Sarah had already had us signed in which was good because I wasn't in the mood for paperwork. I put Kimmy in her room and helped get her in her gown. We met our nurse, whose name escapes me now. I shall call her Pollyanna. She came in with Sarah and started getting things set up for Kimmy. 

Once I saw that she was comfortable enough I bolted down to our illegally parked car. I really really didn't want to go. I'd only left Kimmy for about 1-2 minutes during the entire labor and I wanted to be as supportive as I could. I just realized that it would be a little harder to be supportive when we left the hospital if our car had been impounded. I ended up parking in the deck across the street from the hospital and running back. I was in such a hurry, I forgot the lasagna. It ended up chilling in the car for the rest of our stay in the hospital. Not the best air freshener in the world, but it wasn't an altogether unpleasant smelling car when we left. 

I'm going to digress here a bit to emphasize the magnitude (emotional and logistical) of this lasagna. You may think you know the size limits of a 13x9 casserole dish, but this particular lasagna defies conventional physics. The recipe is one that was passed on to us by a good friend of the family, Walt. To begin with this recipe calls for 2 and 1/4 lbs of meat, 3 lbs of cheese, 90 oz of sauce and tomatoes, a pound of noodles, an onion, spices, and a partridge in a pear tree. That's over 12 lbs of ingredients! With the casserole dish, it ended up being about 15 lbs. We cooked it the week before we went into labor. Now I love lasagna with an undying passion that will never die so I was very tempted to Garfield it down right then and there, but I put it in the freezer because I knew that it was for our special day after Zoe was born so the delayed gratification was so going to be worth it. I sigh. Nope, not even a taste. It was my one major regret for the whole delivery. OK back to the hospital.

I found a space somewhere in parking land away from the hospital and ran back in. The guards made me sign in and take my picture for a giant visitor sticker that I had to wear to keep the sentries from firing. All in all, I was gone about 15 minutes when it felt like an hour. I got back in to the room and it looked like things had calmed down a bit. They had Kimmy in her bed hooked up to an external fetal monitor and they were in the process of hooking up her IV. They were explaining all of the monitoring stuff to us, and I'm sure I understood it for the most part, but I've forgotten a lot of it. Pollyanna told us how the evening/morning should progress. We were going to have the anaesthesiologist come in shortly and hook up the epidural then they were going to administer the Pitocin which would jump start Kimmy's contractions again then pop goes the baby. 

The anaesthesiologist, we'll call him Dr. Feelgood, came in not too long after I got back around 1AM and began explaining the epidural process. Dr. Feelgood was telling us all of these potential side effects and hazards of digging around in someone's spine with a needle. They range from headaches to paralysis to super powers. He gave all of the statistics on each, which were very low, so we weren't too worried about Kimmy contracting pyrokinesis. He then made Kimmy sit up all hunched over in her bed and swabbed her up with iodine and magical doctor soap and proceeded to jab her with a needle and a little tube which hooked up to the drugs that shot into her spine. We then waited for about 15-20 minutes for the drugs to take effect then Dr. Feelgood busted out some ice chips and tested Kimmy's feeling in her lower torso and legs. The reason they use ice is because the nerves that feel pain are very closely related to the ones that feel cold. Kimmy was starting to feel much better from about her waist down which was where the party was happenin'. We now had the go ahead to begin the Pitocin. 

After all of the drips and drugs were going and the monitors were in place, Kimmy was starting to get very sleepy and I decided to take the opportunity to scrape the funk off of me with a shower. It was about 2:30 on Tuesday morning and I hadn't had a shower since Sunday morning. I almost cried with relief after I was able to peel my clothes off for the first time in 2 days. The shower was made for pregnant women so I had to contend with a bench and a shower head at about chin level. Also the towels were inexplicably small. I would have run around the hospital wet and naked for a while if I had to. I was getting my shower. Freshly cleaned, I felt like a new person, albeit a ridiculously tired new person. Things seemed well in hand with Kimmy so I decided to take a nap. They told us it'd probably be about 4-5 hours before things progressed enough for Kimmy to begin pushing. Sarah had even gone to catch a nap so I felt safe enough resting. Pollyanna and other folks were in periodically to check on things. Kimmy was drifting in and out so I unfolded the handy couch/bed contraption they have there for exhausted fathers and passed out within seconds. 

The next little bit of the birth story was dictated to me by Kimmy who was actually awake for it:

We were expecting the baby to come around 8AM or so. Kimmy had the external fetal monitor and the external contraction monitor running. About a after a half hour they came in and told her that Zoe's heart rate was dropping with each contraction so they were concerned because it had been almost 40 hours since her water broke. They thought the baby was getting overstressed because of the lack of cushioning. They decided to hook up a saline catheter to inflate Kimmy's uterus up like a pair of Reebok Pumps. Pollyanna left again, about 3:30AM she came back in and said things were super with the contractions but the heart rate was still a little dodgy. They decided on an internal monitor, not the kind that screws into the infant's head (I'm totally not making that up they really do that) but one that sits next to the infant. They told her to relax and get some more rest. Kimmy says she didn't sleep at all. It was about 4AM and Kimmy was staring at the monitor screens because she was worried about Zoe. The red line was for the contractions and the blue line was for Zoe's heart rate. Whenever the red line would go up the blue line would go down. As tired as she was she didn't want to risk falling asleep. She spent the time patting her belly and singing softly to Zoe in between contractions. 

After a while Zoe began to level off and her heart rate was improving. The contracts started to change. Kimmy couldn't feel pain, but she could feel pressure changes. They were getting much stronger. She finally was feeling that pressure sensation that Hypnobabies had promised. They didn't tell us in childbirth class that you needed an epidural to get to this point. It was about 4:45AM and Kimmy felt that she had to push. She said that it felt like whatever's in your body just has to come out unlike anything else. At first it was a mild pushy feeling, then next it was like, "hey there's something happening", and finally DING DING DING!! This is totally happening and you need to expunge a baby. At this point Kimmy was pushing the nurse button for all it was worth. She tried to not push which proved to be very very tricky for her, especially considering the subtle cues her body was giving her like, "PUUUUUUUUUUUUSSHHHHH!!!!!" The nurse answered the intercom inquiring after Kimmy's needs. "I think I need to push now." "Oh, OK." Maybe two minutes later Pollyanna and Sarah came running into the room with another nurse, we'll call her Nurse Ratchet. 

It was at this point that I finally woke up. I was a little groggy and somewhat confused, but it looked like a party I wanted to join. Sarah did another pelvis check and felt the top of Zoe's head. "Oh we've got a baby head" I certainly hope that's what it was. This triggered a scrambling of activity that resembled a carefully choreographed Keystone cops routine complete with a half naked lady in a bed. They sat Kimmy as upright as she could get in the bed. She had one leg up on me and one on Sarah. Sarah took my hand and brought it down to Kimmy's pelvis and I was able to feel Zoe's head for the first time. I was entranced. This was my child. I was touching my child! I couldn't believe it. 

Zoe's head was in the birth canal, and Kimmy was given the go ahead to push. That's when she really started bearing down. It got more and more intense each time she pushed. Kimmy could literally feel her pelvis opening up. Then her head started to crown. Sarah brought the mirror over so Kimmy could see. She pushed about 4 more times. The last time she pushed, even with the epidural, she felt like she was going to die. She describes it as being torn apart. At this point Sarah was prepping me to catch the baby as she came out. I was supremely focused, more so than I should have been able to manage at that point. I wasn't so much intimidated as I was just bowled over by the enormity of what was happening. I wasn't nervous as she guided my hands as Zoe's head came out. I held on for dear life and the next thing I know she slipped right out. I caught her. I totally caught my daughter. She didn't cry right away, but we put her on Kimmy's chest and started rubbing. She was crying within a few seconds. The life affirming sound of her crying just washed away every bit of exhaustion I had. It was the most awesome moment in my entire life. There was this little squiggling bluish thing covered in vernix and blood on Kimmy's (mommy's) chest and she was the most beautiful thing in the entire world. I was now daddy.

Zoe was 19 and 3/4 inches long and weighed 7 lbs 1 oz and she was perfect.