Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A family of four

You guys, we had a baby!

While this feels rather self-indulgent, I always like reading a birth story and I want to have this written down for me to remember as well, so here goes...I'm guessing it's going to be pretty long. You've been warned!

Here I am in the last few weeks before he came. I felt huge. And so, so uncomfortable. He was sitting really low and my pelvis/back just killed all the time. It really is probably a miracle of nature that women get so uncomfortable during the last stage of pregnancy that they welcome labor, because I was very anxious for labor to start.
37 weeks
36-ish weeks

Claire came at 36 weeks, so once I got past that point with this pregnancy I started to get really impatient, even though I didn't want him to be born early. It was weird to reach the 37 and 38 week mark, because the WAITING. Really obnoxious. But it was nice to have time to clean and organize the house, plus make a bunch of freezer meals that have really come in handy.

I was having contractions on fairly regular intervals for days...but nothing happened. Finally on Oct. 16th, my mom's birthday, it was like they just went away and I was really starting to get bugged. I went to bed thinking about how very uncomfortable I was, only to wake up at about midnight due to heartburn, which wasn't unusual. I got up to take some antacids and lay back down. As I tried to drift off again I noticed that things felt a bit...squishy. I tried to ignore it, but as I lay there and thought about it I got more and more concerned. After all, when I had Claire my water broke in the middle of the night and this seemed rather similar.

I got up to go to the bathroom and sure enough, my water had broken! I got back in bed and woke Brady up and told him that I was fairly certain my water had broken, but nothing else was really happening so we should try to go to sleep and get some rest while we could and see if the contractions started. Of course, we couldn't sleep, and not even 15 minutes later the contractions really got going. We got up and slowly started getting things ready. I asked Brady to give me a blessing, in which he reassured me that I could do this and that angels would attend to me.

I called my mom and had her come down to stay with Claire. By the time she came the contractions were definitely getting stronger and we headed out the door at about 2:00 AM to head to the hospital. However, we didn't go straight there. We had decided beforehand that we would eat something before heading to the hospital, because when we had Claire we made the rookie mistake of dashing out the door in the middle of the night on an empty stomach. Once at the hospital, I wasn't allowed to eat, and Brady didn't feel right leaving to go get food so he pretty much starved too. That sure makes for a long day of being hungry! And pushing a baby out requires some energy! So this time around we decided we'd get some food. Much to the astonishment of our friends and family, we decided to stop at IHOP on the way! I knew the baby wasn't coming right away and I was doing fine, so it worked out great. Brady got a big breakfast and I just got a small stack of pancakes, since I didn't really feel like eating while dealing with contractions. The waitress there was just beside herself knowing I was in labor and spent the majority of our meal telling about the six dramatic deliveries of her children. Good times.

By then the contractions were getting pretty strong. I had to stop while we were walking in and out of the restaurant to hold onto Brady and breathe through them. I was still feeling good though, and once we were done eating we made our way to American Fork Hospital. After getting admitted they checked me and I was dialated to 4 centimeters, which was pretty good progress! Oddly, they couldn't determine right away if my water had broken even though I was certain, so they came back 30 minutes later and checked me again, and I was at a 5! I was so happy to know I was making such good progress on my own. With Claire, my water broke first but the contractions didn't really get going much, so they put me on Pitocin which I hated.

My goal for this delivery was actually to do it completely naturally. Yep, drug free! Everyone that found out beforehand that I wanted to delivery naturally would gasp and ask me why or try to talk me out of it. But, I was determined. There were many reasons I wanted to do it- I wanted the baby to be born alert and without drugs in his system. I didn't like the side effects of the epidural and the lack of control. I felt the recovery after an epidural was more difficult. And really, I just wanted to do it. I'd heard a lot of positive things from others who had done it, and I wanted that same experience.

To prepare, I looked into Hypnobirthing and used the techniques I learned from that. It sounds weird, but it's not. It's basically just learning to relax deeply and completely using breathing and imagery, which removes the fear and tension from labor and delivery and therefore much of the pain. I practiced almost daily for weeks beforehand, teaching myself how to relax and listening to relaxation cd's. I am convinced that doing this made all the difference. I don't think I could've just showed up and powered through. Preparation gave me confidence and the tools I needed. Luckily, my nurses were awesome and totally supportive which was a big help too.

Once I settled in at the hospital, I popped my earbuds in and started listening to the Hypnobirthing stuff. It allowed me to relax, and I even managed to sleep for a while. I would wake up during a contraction, breathe through it, and then right away drift off to sleep again. It continued like that for a while until the nurses came back to attempt for the 3rd time to place an IV, just in case I needed one. Honestly, getting the IV was probably the most painful part of the whole process! They just could not get it in the vein and spent ages digging in my arm to get that needle in place! At that point the contractions were really starting to pick up and I had a hard time getting back to the deep relaxation I had before. I got out of bed and tried walking a bit, hanging on Brady when a contraction came and breathing until it passed. I sat on the birthing ball for a while as well while Brady massaged my back. Things were getting intense, but I still felt in control and that I was coping.

At that point the nurse came in and asked if I would like to try getting in a warm bath, which proved to be very helpful. The warm water was relaxing, and it came at the point when I really needed it most. Brady would pour warm water over my belly as I tried to relax and hold my hand and rub my arm. The contractions seemed right on top of each other at this point, and I started feeling so much pressure. I remember my belly took on this really odd shape as the baby started moving down. The pressure continued to increase and I started shaking a bit, and I noticed that I became less and less aware of my surroundings and just really focused on what was happening with my body. When the nurse came in to check on me I told her about the crazy pressure and she asked if I wanted to be checked. I got out of the tub and back onto the bed, shaking and just focusing on keeping my body loose through each contraction. Turned out, I was at a 9! Hooray! Almost there!

I'd heard once that almost every naturally laboring woman will say at one point "I can't do this anymore", and almost every single time that meant she was about to deliver. I had definitely reached that point and found myself thinking that right before I got out of the tub. The nurse told me to call her if I felt the urge to push and left, but probably about 10 minutes later (if that) I told Brady he needed to call her back in because the baby was moving down and the pressure was overwhelming. She came in and checked me during a contraction, and sure enough, I was at a 10!

Things got really blurry for me at this point. The contractions and pressure were intense and I was just so focused on what was going on internally that I really don't recall a whole lot about what was going on around me. I remember moaning as I worked through each contraction and the strange sense of relief pushing brought, mixed with increased pressure. The nurse and Brady were helping me hold my legs and sit up as I pushed. Brady was awesome. He is not a blood and guts and crisis kind of guy, so I was worried beforehand about how he would do. But he got right in there and did his part, partly because I think it was all happening so fast and he didn't even have a choice or a chance to think about it.

The doctor did determine I needed an episiotomy, so he gave me a little numbing shot and took care of that. All it took was 5 or 6 good pushes, and I felt my little boy come out of my body and they put him right up on my stomach. He was born at 7:59 AM. The experience at that moment is just indescribable. What a rush of relief and amazement and happiness and exhaustion all at the same time! I was so happy to be able to hold my baby right away. Since Claire came early and had some complications they whisked her away almost immediately. But this time I got to hold him right away, and the wonderful doctors and nurses left him with me for a while, only taking him away to weigh him and then they brought him right back.

He was alert and looking around and crying out in anger at having to leave his warm home. He had a head full of dark hair, and was just the most beautiful thing. It's amazing how as he was in my arms I hardly even noticed everything else going on as they delivered the placenta (ew) and stitched me up. I was able to nurse him soon after he was born, and after some good cuddling I passed him over to Brady so he could get to know him too. I loved that I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom on my own, rather than have to get a catheter and hours later drag a dead leg into the bathroom. I felt amazing knowing that I had actually delivered him naturally, and felt an odd sense of pride in my body for doing exactly what it needed to do. I didn't need any Pitocin or any other drugs at all and the labor and delivery progressed perfectly. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

He weighed 7 lbs, 6 oz and was 20 inches long. Very healthy and with a good set of lungs on him and a fantastic head of hair. :) We named him Andrew John Paulich and usually call him Drew. I fell in love with him instantly.

My labor and delivery nurse was an absolute saint, and all the nurses and doctors I worked with while there were fantastic. I felt so well taken care of the whole time.

Things have been going well since then. This little guy eats SO MUCH. He's always eating and not super interested in sleeping, but so cute and cuddly. Claire has been doing really well with him and is a sweet helper.

Obviously there is so much more to say now that we are home and adjusting to a new life, but this is long enough so we will recap that another day. We feel so blessed to have two beautiful, healthy children. It is a ridiculous amount of work sometimes, but it is worth it to care for these sweet kids.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New beginnings

This last week marked the start of a new school year for Claire! In the weeks leading up to it she told me she was a little excited, but also a little nervous. When I asked her about what made her nervous she said singing the songs in front of everyone. I don't blame the gal, I hate singing in front of people too.

However, the first day of school she confidently walked into the familiar building, went straight to the toys, and acted like she was right at home. It did a mother's heart good.

After a little orientation the kids sang a few songs, and it was the moment of truth. At the beginning of the year they always do the "Name Song", where the teacher goes around singing "Whose name is ____?" and then the kid repeats back "My name is _____", and every few names everyone claps and sings "How do you do? How do you do?"

Last year Claire didn't sing her little solo part once. Not ever through the whole year. You couldn't bribe her to do it, and I think she was the only one that wouldn't. I didn't really worry about it though, because who wants to sing in front of other people all alone? Not me!

I knew they would sing the song again this year, but I didn't say a word about it to Claire because I didn't want her to feel pressured to give it a try. If singing made her too nervous, then so be it.

But as they went around the circle and the teacher pointed to Claire, for the first time ever she chirped out very quietly "My name is Claire!" and both the teachers cheered. In my heightened hormonal state, I nearly burst into tears. I was so proud of my tiny girl getting up the courage to try something that she admitted made her nervous. It was also a great lesson to me as a mother to remember sometimes to just take a step back and let my kids figure things out on their own and when they are ready. She didn't need me to encourage her or even say anything. She was willing to be brave all on her own. 

Just like last year, she loves preschool and is doing great. I think it will be a good year.

Also last week, Claire started taking a little dance class! I danced for 15 years and it was the joy of my life, so I may have been more excited than she was...But I was adamant about finding a class that was simple and low-key. Nothing high-pressure. I wanted one recital a year, no competitions, no crazy dance moms standing to the side wearing matching t-shirts. Just a place where she could have fun, get some exercise, and learn a little something about dance. Down the road, if she still loves it and has a talent for it then maybe we'll do something more intensive, but for the next few years I think an hour a week is plenty. I found the perfect little studio with a sweet teacher that is close to home, and I am thrilled.

Claire was a little more nervous for her dance class than she was for preschool, since it was a foreign environment. In fact, I couldn't even get her to turn around and face the camera for a picture.

However, she went in and participated a bit. Her teacher said she didn't cry, but Claire told me after that she "had tears that came out of her eyes for a minute". Either way, she did better than I did when I started dancing at that age. It was probably a good 3 weeks before my mom could even leave the room. She had to stand right next to me or I'd melt down into a ball of tearful anxiety. I wonder where Claire gets her nerves...?

This week though, she marched right in, took her shoes off, and went and sat on her little tape "x" on the floor, ready to go. Her teacher said she danced and was one of only two girls who were good listeners the whole hour.

This really is one of the best parts about parenting so far- seeing your little one overcome fears and anxieties on their own and learning and growing in the process. I've realized that as she takes those steps, that I'm overcoming my anxieties as a parent as well. I couldn't be more proud of my little girl who teaches me almost daily how to be brave.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

6 years and going strong

Earlier this month Brady and I celebrated 6 years of marriage. 

It makes me happy to know that after 6 years our marriage has grown in love, honesty, trust, and mutual respect, and continues to go in that direction. Sometimes I look back and am amazed at how much better we know each other now, how much more we have in common than we knew we had on our wedding day, and how lucky we are because of it. We've been through ups and downs, but I'm proud of how awesome our marriage is.

To celebrate we spent a night up in Park City a few weeks before our actual anniversary. The weekend of our anniversary was packed, but the night before we managed to make some time to spend together. Brady tapped into his romantic side and spent the afternoon driving all over northern Utah to arrange he perfect evening. He drove me to one of our favorite spots up American Fork canyon where he had set out a sweet spread. 
He then produced a feast of Greek hummus and pita bread, my favorite Indian foods, and a lemon bar from a bakery downtown -- 3 foods I had been craving, all from a different restaurant. We then roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores as the sky got dark and sat next to the glowing fire to chat and reminisce.

As we sat there in the dark, watching the fire and talking, I heard a little rustling behind me. Nothing major, but I remember thinking in the back of my mind that's odd, it isn't windy... But then quickly dismissed the thought and went back to focusing on our conversation. That is, until I heard the rustling again and realized it was our plastic bags on our table right behind me that were making the noise...and yet, no wind. 

I turned around, and not 2 feet from me I saw this thing in the dark. At first I thought it was a person standing right there, but then I saw it's little paws reaching into the bag...and saw the black "mask" across its eyes...and realized that a giant RACCOON was sitting on our table, just mere feet away, trying to get a taste of the goodies we had left over.

Like any calm, collected, and perfectly rational person in a shocking situation, I frantically leaped out of my chair and let out a strange scream/gasp which scared it away. Brady jumped up and shone a flashlight on it to see it scampering down the trail to turn around and stare at us with its beady little eyes.

Needless to say, we pretty much packed all our stuff as fast as humanly possibly and booked it out of there, thankful it was only a curious raccoon and not a ravenous bear that had decided to crash our party.

Ultimately the evening seemed like a good analogy for our marriage- comfortable and cozy, with good food and a little bit of adventure. :)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


It's hard to believe my baby is the ripe old age of 4! Claire hit the milestone last week, and I'm pretty sure that instead of turning 4 she actually turned 14. The girl is full of opinions- from what she eats to what she wears to how her hair is done and the kind of music she likes (not to mention what I wear and how my hair is done). She'll occasionally tell me she doesn't feel like talking about something when I'm trying to ask how her day was or something along those lines, and I'm fairly certain I've already seen a few eye rolls when one of us tries to make a joke.

Claire, as she has always been, is the light of our lives. She is still sweet as can be, just like she has been since birth. She is also stubborn as can be, but in the most calm and quiet way (usually). She is the most persistent little thing I've ever met. I often joke that she'll make a great salesperson someday, because she never takes no for an answer, never gives up, yet rarely throws a fit over anything, and genuinely tries to sway me to her side, often saying things like "don't you think that's a good idea, mom?". And the funny thing is, it often is a decent idea she's pitching, just not in line with the current plan.

Her imagination is bright and vibrant and just wonderful. Everything is a game, or a story, or a song, or a combination of them all. Dress ups, Barbies, playing preschool, dolls, restaurant, farm, circus...I love listening to her play. Lately she has really taken to coloring, and will spend hours each day coloring and drawing. Her growing talent has astonished me as she's created these elaborate pictures of people wearing elaborate outfits, each one with a back story. She loves making "cards" to give to people. She's learning to write her letters and likes to discuss the different sounds they make and what everyday words begin with. She's just smart as can be with a memory that often amazes us.

She still loves to cuddle and adores most affection. When sitting next to me she is never sitting, but leaning on me entirely, which usually delights me except for recently during these hot summer months when she seems to have no issue with getting cozy while we are outside in the blazing sun and I'm ready to melt into a hot, pregnant puddle. She gives hugs freely and still gladly holds my hand, which I love.

There's so much I could say about this little girl, but I've already rambled on.

To celebrate, this year I insisted that we keep it simple. Simple! No full dinner, no trying to host in some fancy locale...but oh the angst of planning a blasted family party! Somewhere we could fit our whole large family, at a time when everyone could come and something everyone could be happy with? After much tribulation I declared we would have cake and ice cream at our house, and if you could come that was wonderful, and you couldn't...even better.

After all my declarations of simplicity though, I still spent two full days baking a double layer white cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting, per Claire's request, two kinds of homemade brownie bites from scratch with either mint or regular chocolate ganache, and peanut butter cup cookies. Plus homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream, made by Brady, thankfully. What on earth was I thinking?

In the end though, after our bathroom practically flooding the day of and a near heat-induced fit of rage by me, "Happy Birthday" was sung, candles were blown out, dessert was enjoyed by all, and Claire was spoiled rotten with gifts. All in all, a successful birthday.

According to Claire, at age 4-
Favorite color: Green
Favorite food: chicken nuggets, fruit, and pretty much anything and everything sweet
Favorite movie: Toy Story 1
Favorite game: Matching game
Favorite thing to do: Color pictures
Favorite book: Mud
Favorite place to go: Virg's to eat a pancake
Favorite song: Firework by Katie Parry

Pay no mind to the bloaty, sweaty pregnant woman taking up most the frame...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A camping we will go

I love living in Utah. I loooooove the mountains. When I was younger I totally took them for granted, and I realize now what beauty surrounds us here. Sometimes I am in awe that I get to live just minutes away from beautiful canyons. The last few years we have tried to spend as much time as possible enjoying the great outdoors, which usually includes at least one camping trip. Recently we got together with my fam for our annual camping adventure.

Things were a little iffy at first. The awful wildfires in the west so far this year meant fire restrictions at several campsites, so we had to improvise a bit by eating and hanging out at a picnic site and then driving 5 minutes to our actual campsite for the night, but it wasn't bad at all. Rain also threatened our fun a bit, but it quickly passed and the rest of the night was fantastic. 

Brady made a mean dutch oven, as usual. We roasted marshmallows and made s'mores, threw rocks in the water, and Claire spent a fair amount of time hunting for Tinkerbell in the forest after we happened to spot some random green glitter on a rock.

Camping while 6 months pregnant? You betcha!

Visiting around the fire

S'mores...one of the best parts of camping

My little outdoors-y girl
Even though we regularly take Claire to the mountains, we've never actually camped out overnight with her there. I wasn't entirely sure how it would go, considering sleep has always been a challenge with this one, but it was smooth sailing. She was thrilled to sleep in the big tent, and once we all settled down for the night she was out cold all night long. Brady and I tossed and turned and struggled to sleep all night, but Claire stayed snuggled in her new sleeping bag like a pro camper.
So excited to sleep in the big tent!

In fact, she was a dream the entire trip. Not only was there not a single crying episode, but I don't think there was even a whine or word of protest from her. Camping seemed as natural to her as anything. I can't believe we've waited so long to give it a shot!

A fun night with family, a little bike ride, and a little hike (where we spotted tons of butterflies, I've never seen anything like it!) later and we could declare our camping adventure a success. I never really imagined myself camping at 6 months pregnant, but it went much better than I anticipated. However, despite the fun of our little excursion, one night at a time is plenty for me. Nothing better than coming home from an enjoyable camping trip to a nice hot shower :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The most obnoxious project in the world

The last thing this blog is is a DIY/home-improvement blog...or perhaps a cooking blog...or most definitely not a fashion blog. Good heavens, what DO I offer the blog world?

Anyway, several months ago we put our house on the market for a variety of reasons. One being that we've lived here for 6 years now, and our original plan was 5 years. We've lived here our entire married life and kinda think it might be time for our next adventure. We've been so torn though because we do like where we live, and we've been blessed with wonderful friends here...

The primary reason though is a giant HOA mess involving crumbling stucco on many homes in the area, water damage to some homes, a big fat lawsuit to the builder, and some dumb decisions from the HOA over the years, which has resulted in high HOA fees for us that are only going to get higher (and we don't even have cool amenities like a pool or clubhouse). We thought it might be time to get out before it became impossible to sell.

We've had some offers, but on the low end of things thanks to the lame housing market. Since we don't have to sell right now we figure that we'll just ride it out until the right offer comes along. All the showings are a pain, but my house sure has been clean!

In April we decided maybe we should do some updates that we'd been talking about doing for years anyway in hopes of increasing value. And, if we end up not selling, at least we like the house we're in. So we embarked on a project that for us, was massive. I repeat- we are not "handy" people. We get no thrill out of the DIY type stuff. In fact, we rather hate it. A few months ago we replaced our back doorknob and deadbolt and it took the two of us over an hour and more swear words than I wish to divulge... and it still kinda looks like crap.

So we decided to update our oak cabinets that looked dated, as well as replace the linoleum in our kitchen with tile. We also ripped up a section of carpet in the entryway that leads back to the kitchen and replaced it with tile, since it is such a high-traffic area and the carpet was beat. We are fortunate that Brady's dad and brother both have laid tile for a living, so we had a good connection there. We decided to tackle the cabinets first, and then while we were in California for a week have the tile laid during that time. Brilliant, right? We figured we'd have things all done and beautiful by the time we came home. Easy peasy!


Excuse me while I laugh at my naive and idiotic assumptions about home projects!

The cabinet project started out fine, and really, we had no hang-ups throughout, other than the fact that it TOOK A MILLION YEARS! And was so totally obnoxious. Oh, and I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and totally sick and exhausted, and had bronchitis for much of it (see previous posts). The last thing you want to do while nauseous and tired and is head outside to paint cabinets. And no, we did not do things the "professional" or the "Pinterest" way and rent a sprayer and all that. We went old school (cheap!) with rollers and paintbrushes. Kill me.

We left for California with the cabinets about half done and figured at least we'd come home to beautiful flooring...HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA! We kind of overlooked the fact that because my father-in-law was doing this for us for super-minimal pay, he was just kind of stopping by when he had time. An hour here, an hour there...two weeks after we got home the refrigerator was still in the living room and we were still hopping from place to place to avoid the unfinished areas.

However, the tile did eventually get finished, and the painting and hardware installation on the cabinets did come to an end, more or less (I still have touch-up to do that I procrastinate week after week...gah!) The paint job is totally amateur and I see flaws on pretty much every square inch of each cabinet, but hey! It's done! And I do think that it looks better than it used to, flaws notwithstanding.

(Forgive the crappy phone photos. If you haven't noticed, this blog also is not a photography blog.)

The biggest accomplishment of all? Our marriage managed to stay intact throughout the process! In fact, not one frustration-from-home-improvement-fueled fight! Go us!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer time, and the livin's easy...

So here's a confession- I'm secretly a kind of lazy parent sometimes. As a result, I sometimes want to keep Claire in a little bubble. Not because I'm a perfectionist necessarily, but because other stuff is tricky to deal with. It's an urge I actively try to fight in order to avoid becoming the dreaded "helicopter parent".

For example, dealing with wild cherry slurpee on a white shirt = tricky. Dealing with hand-foot-and-mouth disease because she licked the chairs at the library = awful. Getting crayon out of the couch = hard. See? Better to just keep her away from the hard stuff, right?

But really, what kind of childhood is that? That's no fun at all (although, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is worse, so I stand by my choice to not let her lick the chairs at the library). She actually usually makes things pretty easy on me because she generally is a pretty cautious kid. Definitely not the type to take a flying leap off the top of a slide, or anything. But I genuinely want her to be a kid, to have fun, to let loose, and sometimes I feel like I have to encourage her to do so and push her step outside of her comfort zone, all while pushing myself out of my comfort zone too.

So tonight, when we were playing at the park and her little friends came over and they took off having fun I was thrilled. And then when the sprinklers came on, and they started jumping through them and shrieking and just plain being kids in the summer time, my heart couldn't have been happier.

And I don't think hers could've either.