Monday, April 20, 2015

Thoughts on My First Week of Motherhood

 We've officially survived our first week with a newborn baby, and I've got to admit, it makes me feel both like a rock-star champion and a totally worn-down rag doll. But I have a feeling that overall, those kinds of contradictions might be pretty prevalent in this thing called new parenthood.

Here are a few more contradictions I've discovered in the past seven days:

There are times when I look at my baby girl and feel my heart sing with a joy I didn't even know I was lacking before. There are moments when I just want to breathe in absolutely everything about that exact second because life as a family of three seems perfect and right and already passing by too quickly.

Then there are other moments when I'm fighting back tears that I don't understand--not tears of joy, either, but tears of panic or confusion or just an overall overwhelming sense of responsibility. Sometimes I think about this new role of "mother" that will last forever, and eternity seems like too much to take in since I often wonder how I can get by for another hour on so little sleep and with so many hormones bouncing around inside me.

There have been hours--literally hours!--that I have stared at my newborn's features, marveling in the perfection of her long fingers and big eyes and smooth skin and puckered mouth. I have held her little feet and rubbed them between my fingers and watched as her big toe separates from the others just like mine does. I have felt the glow of pride as others marvel at her beauty and her delicate, tiny perfection. I have discovered such happiness knowing that this precious little 7-pound-and-then-some bundle is mine.

There have been other hours--often hours that creep up on me in the middle of the early morning after I've tried unsuccessfully to put her back to sleep--where my logical brain wonders if I can really do this. How can I take care of this little human being, who will only get bigger and bigger and face things that I have never had to face but am still expected to help her through? How will I be able to handle her first tantrum or her first sickness or her first try at potty training? I am often inundated at those early morning hours with the crushing weight of all that I do not know or understand.

 There has been many an instant that I've also been surprised at how Raven just seems to fit right into our lives, as if our whole marriage had been subtly preparing us for this time when we'd be a family of three. It feels like she's always been with us, which is something I've often heard people say but didn't understand until now. I thought it might be awkward for me to take on the motherly roles of nurturing and feeding and teaching and changing out diapers and onesies, but somewhere from deep inside, a motherly instinct that had long lay dormant has bubbled forth, and even her cries don't irritate me like every other kid's cry does. I wondered what I would say to this infant when she came out, and if I would feel strange talking to this tiny bundle that couldn't really respond back. I have been pleasantly surprised at my own reaction to her arrival, and my lack of maternal instinct before must have been due to the fact that I just didn't have my own little person before.

There are other moments when I feel this overwhelming sense of potential loss, and it's something that brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes in the same second of the feeling hitting. The same thing happened when I first got married--the feeling that I now had more to lose than ever before, and how devastated I would be if that loss ever came. I remember in the first several months of my marriage, I would be saying prayers constantly throughout the day that nothing would happen to Matt while we were apart--that he would suffer no car accident or trauma or major illness--because I couldn't bear to lose him. As time goes on, I still treasure my marriage as the most important relationship in my life, but the bubbles of panic and terror have overall subsided, with the terrified feelings only cropping up every now and again if he's a little bit later coming home than anticipated or something.

Those same feelings have started up again though and lead me to check that our baby is breathing several times throughout the day and night and that there is nothing in her crib or around her face that could suffocate her or make her choke. With every sniffling visitor that comes by, I am paranoid that she'll catch an illness that's too much for her to handle. I feel like motherhood is a constant state of paranoid fear and awe-struck reverence. I know it will become more things over time, but that's what I feel right now.

Because of the up-and-down nature of new parenthood, I am frequently giving myself pep talks.

I remind myself of the first several months of my time living as a missionary in El Salvador--not only was I facing a new country with customs very different from what I was used to, I was facing them with a limited ability to understand and speak the language and with people I hadn't known previous to my having been assigned with them. I remember clearly that those first several weeks found me praying for 30- or 40-minute stretches at a time while I begged my Father in Heaven for the strength to face the day with courage and tenacity and a smile.

And I remind myself that I not only got through those weeks but also that I found myself thriving under the new experiences. I reminded myself of the two secrets I was lucky enough to come across early on in my mission---that if I viewed the whole thing as an adventure (rather than a looming mountain before me) and if I just poured every ounce of waking energy into working, I would love it.

And I did.

My brain, sleep-deprived and hormone-riddled as it is, is still trying to remind me of those lessons. And when those moments of panic or terror come up, I try and tell myself to enjoy the beginning of this grand adventure known as parenthood and that when I truly feel overwhelmed, I just need to burrow myself into doing something--anything--other than sitting there and brooding about it.

I can already tell this parenthood thing will be the most thrilling adventure of my life and that it will be, as some have put it, "the hardest job that I've ever loved."

Let's do this.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Raven Jade: A [Natural] Birth Story

I deliberated for awhile about posting a birth story--it's such an intimate thing, yet at the same time, it's an experience that leaves you so filled up with so many feelings that you just want to tell the world.

In the end, I figured that those who would want to know can read on, and those who don't can click past.

When it comes right down to it, this is the most likely way that I'll remember this experience forever since becoming a blogger has basically turned me into a terrible journaler.

So here goes.

Two hours into my labor, right before we checked into the hospital

Raven Jade: A Birth Story

By Saturday morning, after a week of being on spring break and having "teaser" contractions for days, I had basically given up hope of her coming before I went back to work and decided to treat the day like I would if I weren't nine months pregnant. So, even though some people probably thought we were crazy, we decided to drive down south about an hour and a half to attend my niece's baptism and spend the day with family.

After a week largely spent alone with my thoughts since my husband still had to work, I embraced the bustle and questions of loved ones before and after the baptismal service, and I felt much more at peace about just letting the chips fall where they may concerning the timing of Raven's arrival.

A few hours later, after a potluck brunch with my family and a long chat spent with Matt's, we were back in our apartment, playing the two-player game Othello and eating homemade cookies when I started to feel contractions that were different than what I'd been feeling before---these were more rhythmic, and I could feel them all around my back and a lot lower down my pelvis. Twenty-five minutes passed with the contractions coming solidly every five minutes, so I decided it was time to contact my sister, who had agreed to drive up from Syracuse to help me through my labor (since she had experienced four natural childbirths herself and would be a great help through  my first time).

I'd had a couple false alarms earlier in the week, so she told me to go take a shower and continue watching/timing the surges as they came, and if they didn't ease up, to call her back in 15 minutes and let her know to start driving.

As I hopped in the shower, I felt relaxed and confident--I even had the presence of mind to shave my legs--and I welcomed each surge as it came on, knowing deep down that this was the real thing and that I was ready. We were finally going to meet our baby!

Matt and I took our time getting together the last-minute things for the hospital, although it didn't feel like it at the time--time seemed to be going in a rush as we stuffed last-minute items like deodorant and toothbrushes into our bags and double- and triple-checked that we had what was most important.

Finally, we were off, and we arrived at the hospital around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday night, two hours after my contractions had started.

I'm sure the nurses murmured amongst themselves that I'd probably come in too early--I was cracking jokes and calmly telling them that I was in labor and ready to have my baby. But, sure enough, when they checked me, I'd dilated to a five, and my antibiotic treatment was started shortly thereafter (since I had tested Strep B positive and therefore had to have the line in for at least 4 hours (ideally) before the baby showed up).

My sister showed up about an hour and a half after that, and during that time and for the next two hours or so, I was deeply focused as I practiced the hypnobirthing techniques I'd practiced for so many months and felt very much at ease. In fact, I felt almost bad at this point that I'd made my sister come up at all since it didn't seem like there was enough for both her and Matt to do to really help me.

Then the doctor came in (a little earlier than planned) and broke my water around 12:30 a.m. Within a half hour, the nature of the contractions changed drastically, and I was no longer joking around and making small talk with Matt and Jill. Instead of just feeling the urge to breathe slowly through each contraction, I knew instinctively that I needed to start "breathing the baby down" (as they call it in hypnobirthing), and my breathing changed from calm and slow to very focused and forced downward.

As each surge got tougher and more intense, I started relying heavily on my two coaches, and I tried to focus on the back massages they were giving me rather than the intense pressure and discomfort I was feeling. Whenever I started to lose focus (which began to happen much more than I thought it would despite my months of training), my sister would direct my attention to her eyes, and she would reassure me through it. When I reached the point that I felt a decently intense urge to go to the bathroom, I thought I must be close and asked for the nurse to come in and check me (which was significant, because the first internal exam at the hospital was so uncomfortable that I'd vowed I wouldn't allow them to check me any more until it was absolutely necessary to check if I was ready to push).

Matt helping me relax through a contraction

I was starting to get really tired by this point (seeing as how it was about 4:00 in the morning and I thought my labor experience would go much quicker than it had because of how much I'd dilated when I went in and going by the "fact" that the transition stage for most women--the dilation from a 7 to a 10--is usually pretty fast), and I fully expected the nurse to give me the go-ahead to push.

When she conveniently "left out" what I'd dilated to after the exam and told me instead I just had a "little bit more to go" before I could start pushing, I was devastated--I knew if she wasn't telling me the number that I must not be nearly as far along as I thought, and my mind went to a pretty dark place. My energy stores were quickly being exhausted, and I'd already started to lose focus. For the first time, I really questioned my ability to do this whole natural-birth thing.

I didn't allow myself to ask Jill and Matt what I'd really dilated to--I just followed the nurse's suggestion to get into the tub and continue laboring there. As the warm water brought a small measure of relief to me, I felt a small piece of myself start to relax just a little bit (something I hadn't been accomplishing nearly as effectively as I thought I would be able to), and even though I had no idea how much longer I'd have to press through, I just kept focusing on my sister's words--"Just focus on one surge at a time---you've gotten through ones just like this before; you can get through another one." I forced myself to look into Jill's or Matt's eyes as each new intense surge came on, and even though I was whimpering by this point (something I'd really hoped to avoid), I somehow managed to push through two more hours of intense contractions.

By about 6 a.m., I once again felt the strong urge to push, and I hesitantly asked for them to send for the nurse again so I could be checked. Mentally, I tried to prepare myself for bad news again, but my strength was withering away quickly, and I didn't know how much more I could take.

Blessedly, she said that I was truly ready to push.

[Insert note here: after the whole ordeal was over, I asked Jill and Matt what I'd dilated to when the nurse was so hesitant to mention how far I [hadn't] come---it turns out I was still at a 7, which I stalled at for about six hours out of the whole twelve-hour labor. It's a level of intensity and endurance I hope I never have to endure again through another labor.]

Outside, the sky started to lighten a bit as I was instructed to use each surge to my advantage and focus all my energy on breathing and pushing the baby out. When I arrived at this point in the labor, I was surprised to find that, though the contractions were intense, I actually welcomed them this time because with each contraction, I could literally feel myself and my baby making progress together. Finally, there was something I could do besides just try to keep my head on semi-straight as I attempted to steady my breathing.

But, like every other part of my labor, the pushing also took me longer than I'd anticipated---in the majority of the hypnobirths I'd heard about, the mother only pushed for anywhere from 10 - 45 minutes or so, and as I started nearing the hour mark and the doctor still hadn't come in, I once again felt myself getting a little frustrated. But with encouragement from everyone present, I continued to utilize each contraction the best that I could, and when the excitement in the room started growing because the baby's head was crowning, I felt second and third waves of energy surge through my body. While pushing, I felt much more in my element---I was able to almost fully relax between surges, and I felt like I was able to regain my sense of control (something I had lost somewhere while getting stalled in that stage 7).

When the doctor arrived (blessed moment!) and started to guide the baby's head through, I just kept telling myself that I was close and only had a bit further to go. After a particularly productive contraction, the doctor made the prediction that the baby would likely come out fully after one or two more solid pushes, and right as I felt the next surge coming on, I looked out the window and noticed that the sun was about to break over the mountaintops in all of its glory.

That was all I needed---

I gave it all I had, and I felt my baby slip out of me and heard everyone say, "You did it! Here's your baby girl!"

That moment is hard to describe---I felt the most intense flood of emotion and relief and joy as my baby was placed onto my chest for skin-to-skin contact. She was so covered in fluids that I could hardly make out what she looked like, but as she was wiped off, I just kept sobbing, "Hey, baby. Hey, baby."

And, for that moment, everything was right--I had done it. I had somehow made it through everything, even when so many times I had felt like giving up. I could see the look of wonder on Matt's tear-streaked face, and in our first moments as a family of three, I felt a wonderful sense of completeness.

But then, something was terribly, horribly off---I knew there was still some work to be done (with getting my placenta delivered and perhaps getting some repair work done), but suddenly and without warning, I felt the most intense and excruciating pain I've ever felt in my life. I knew dimly in my mind that it had something to do with what the doctor was doing, so I started yelling at him, demanding him to tell me what was going on and begging him to stop. Surely, I had thought the worst was over, so why on earth did I feel like I was about to be ripped apart from the inside out?

In this state of delirium, all I registered is that he firmly told me something about my uterus flipping inside out and that if he didn't do this now, I would bleed to death.

At that point, Matt and Jill (my faithful partners through it all) told me to just look at their faces and just focus on their eyes. I was somewhat aware that my legs were kicking at the doctor, trying to push him away (and that I probably shouldn't be doing that), but my reaction to the pain and trauma was swift and involuntary. The details of all this have already become fuzzy, but it seemed like there were people everywhere at once---a nurse sticking a shot in my side, my antibiotic needle being swapped out for a narcotic, my birthing companions trying to keep me calm.

As the drugs took effect and I started to feel a dizzy sense of relief and simultaneous bewilderment, I could hear Jill and Matt pressing the doctor for more details. I didn't register any of it at the time, but the situation has all been explained to me since---apparently, while I was pushing out the placenta, the doctor tugged at the same time, and what happened is a rare condition called a uterine inversion that only happens about once in every 3,000 births. Basically, my uterus came out of my body with the placenta, and flipped completely inside out. If not treated immediately, it can lead to an emergency hysterectomy or death, and the only way to avoid both is to take the uterus and press it back into the body, applying a constant force (with the doctor's entire fist inside, holding it in), until the uterus contracts again into place.

While I felt angry and frustrated with the doctor at the time, I now feel an intense gratitude that I had the doctor I did. The funny thing is, my doctor wasn't on call that night, so when I first heard that I'd be getting someone else, I was so disappointed. But, after talking to my own doctor the day after the fact, it seems like I got the best doctor to handle that kind of situation---from the sounds of it, had I had a different doctor, my story could have had a very different outcome.

Even though my natural birth did not culminate in the rush of endorphins and the complete high that everyone else talked about (and that I at first felt robbed and cheated out of the "natural birth high" I'd been promised), I can only look back now with intense gratitude that the outcome was what it was. When I found out how close I'd come to this being perhaps my only child or, in the worst case, the last few minutes of my life, how can I feel anything but grateful for the mercy I was extended?

Of course, I'd be lying if I said that this ending didn't give me some pretty intense fear about future labor experiences (especially since my chances of it happening again are much higher than the average woman's), but as I hold my perfect baby girl today and know that my body is now stable and recovering quickly, my heart pours out in thanks to a Father in Heaven who was with me and made sure I had the exact help I needed during this experience---I never could have gone through with any of it without my husband and my sister by my side, and I am so thankful for the doctor's ability to handle what my own doctor called the 'worst-case scenario" in dealing with an inverted uterus.

And now, I have this beautiful human being who has filled me with this perfect love that everyone else always talked about but which I wondered would exist in all its fullness for me. I have a closeness with my sister that couldn't have been achieved in any other way. And it seems like my marriage--which has always been fulfilling and strengthening and the greatest blessing in my life--has been raised to a new plane of love and devotion and intimacy I could never have dreamed of before.

So maybe I didn't get the perfect first-time labor I was hoping for--

But I sure got everything else, and in much greater quantities than I'd ever dreamed.

Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Welcome to Our World, Baby Raven!

Our daughter, Raven Jade, joined us at sunrise on Sunday April 12th weighing 7 lbs., 6 ounces, and being 19 inches long. She came after 12 hours of labor, and I finally understand why people say they are "so in love" after being blessed with a newborn.

(I mean, you know it's true love when even her cries at 2 a.m. are basically the cutest thing you've ever heard.)

Welcome to our world, baby.

We're so happy you're here with us.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What a Difference 7 Months Makes, Eh?

Same skirt, 7 months later. (First picture taken at almost 2 months pregnant, second picture taken at more than 8.5 months pregnant (aka, now)).

It is disturbing to me now that I originally thought that I looked a little bloated and full in the face in that first picture when I posted it back in August.

Oh, the naivete.

Little did I know how much water my body would be retaining in just a few months time..

But late pregnancy hugeness aside, here's some news:

As of today's doctor appointment, I'm officially dilated to a 3 and 95% effaced.

In other words, while I've been frantically trying to finish all my grading and get everything set up for this tiny human, my body has been plugging right along doing what it was meant to do all along.

Smart body.

And just think--as my sister put it, my labor process is almost a third of the way over. Weird to think about, eh? And I've hardly had to do anything about it except eat a lot of chocolate (because my sweet students keep bringing it in for me) and try to consciously avoid doing the full-term waddle as I make my way through the halls at the school.

My mom's hoping for an Easter baby, but I'm fine with whenever Baby Girl decides to make her debut. My spring break starts next week (so it would be a little convenient if she came about a week before her due date), but I'm cool with her coming late, too---it will give me more time to work for pay instead of tacking more unpaid days onto my maternity leave.

So whatever you decide, baby.

I'm pretty much used to feeling like an encased sausage, anyway.

Monday, March 23, 2015

7 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman

 --Me at 37 weeks--
 (And yes, I have indeed heard all of these over the course of the last 8+ months):

1. "My daughter's due at the same time as you, and she's already gained THIRTY-TWO pounds this pregnancy!" (said incredulously, as if she's never heard of any woman gaining such a massive amount of weight by the time she hits 8 months)

(To which I awkwardly reply): "Lucky her. I've gained almost 40."


Lesson Learned: Just don't discuss weight (especially concerns about how much weight that the pregnant woman has gained). Unless you can improve the silence by saying that you gained 79.2 pounds with your first baby (not twins) and that you think I look cute as a button (and not just because I'm round), just don't go there.

2. "Oh, I'm just so excited for you guys! You spent quite a long time trying, didn't you?"

(To which I wryly smile and say): "Huh. I didn't know two months was a long time..."

Lesson Learned: Just because someone has been married for awhile and doesn't have kids doesn't mean that they are having problems. Other lesson learned--I don't have many issues with being forthright about issues that other people are usually more private about. So if you don't wanna know, think before you comment.

3.  "I know you SAY you want a natural birth, but let met tell you..."

I've heard this one too many times to count. Unless unforeseeable circumstances (involving medical necessity) come up, I will be having this baby naturally if it kills me.

I'm considering designing t-shirts that say, "Positive birth stories only, please" and wearing it to any gathering of women (large or small), ESPECIALLY baby showers.

Lesson Learned: The birthing process is a personal decision, and you should be supportive of whatever direction the birthing mother is taking. I don't judge women who are having (or have had) epidurals or C-sections, so why should they judge me?

4. Other Person: "Oh, you look so cute pregnant now."
Me (half-joking): "Hey, what do you mean, NOW?"
Other Person: "Well, you're not looking just fat and chunky anymore. You have the cute pregnant belly that's obviously from baby and not from bloat."

*awkward silence*

Lesson Learned: Pregnant women already feel fat and chunky enough without people pointing it out to us (even if it's served up as some kind of backhanded compliment). I think being pregnant has made me like the Queen of Receiving Backhanded Compliments lately--it's both amusing and completely aggravating at the same time.

5. "Well you just look miserable, don't you?"

This is something I've never understood--with sick people or pregnant people or just plain tired/depressed/stressed-out people, what does it help for someone to point it out to you? This particular comment just baffled me particularly because it was said when I truly had been feeling GREAT that week and especially that day (and I'm actually still feeling pretty great on pretty much most days, thankyouverymuch). 

Lesson Learned: Pregnant women like to hear they have "The Glow." Just say that to them, even if they look like they're retaining water, not sleeping at night, and/or acting hormonal in general. I'd take "The Glow" over "miserable and tired" any day.

6. "Whoa--you got like, REALLY pregnant all of a sudden. Guess there's no hiding it anymore, eh? *wink, wink*"

What I want to say to this?

(putting on an innocent voice): "Oh, I thought there was only one degree of pregnant--you either are, or you aren't. Guess I was wrong."

Lesson Learned: Are you getting the picture yet? Anything mentioning the general weight or size of the belly or pregnant women in general is officially off-limits to everyone but the woman's ob/gyn or midwife.

7. "So you're still around, huh? When's that baby coming already?"

True fact: the earlier you get this in the pregnancy, the more depressing it is. And I'm sure that the closer to the due date I get, the more annoying it will be.

Lesson Learned: Maybe you should just stop talking to me about the pregnancy. Or at least ask me about something else for a change. Maybe Matt and I should go forward with our plans to design t-shirts that say "More than just a belly" across the front with "Alternate topics of conversation" written across the back.

Oh, and to answer the Universal Question I seem to get every hour:

No, we don't know what we're naming the baby yet.

***Note: I really am okay with you asking about my pregnancy, especially because I know you mean well. Just preface everything with how great I'm magically still looking, and I'll be perfectly content to spill everything you want to know :-)

Monday, March 9, 2015

I Would Procrastinate My Own Labor & Delivery If I Could

 Each month this year, I've decided to focus on just one area of my life intensely rather than pull my mind in a million different directions with a whole list of goals and expectations having to do with everything from how many books I'll read to how much exercise I plan to do. For January, I focused on finances with my spending freeze. In February, I focused on trying to fit in 10,000 steps a day to work on my activity level.

Now, for March, my big focus is:


Rather ironically, I've been intending to work on my procrastination problem for years now. Way back in high school, I realized the depth of my problem when I pulled a true all-nighter to finish a huge writing project I'd kept putting off for one of my classes, and I ended up finishing it at 6:50 a.m. in the morning--just in time for me to get ready for school and head out.

That was a big wake-up call.

But it wasn't enough, apparently--just a couple years later in college, I was taking a British Authors class and had put off the 8-page paper until the day it was due. The essay had to be submitted by midnight, and I woke up that morning with some kind of flu/fever/congestion nastiness. So, completely hyped up on Mucinex and Advil, I typed up the essay in a frenzy, not even sure if I was making sense or if I was remotely fulfilling the parameters of the assignment.

Both of these scenarios could have turned out badly, and had I failed the assignments/classes (or, let's be honest, gotten anything less than about a 93%), I really probably would have worked on mending my ways. But they didn't---I received accolades for both projects, so my procrastination only seemed to get rewarded, triggering a vicious cycle.

The problem doesn't just extend to homework though--the first year of applying to PT school with Matt, we put it off until I about had a complete stress meltdown when we were waiting on a critical verification that came literally hours before the Oct. 1st deadline. And now, about a month away from my due date, I am no closer to a "nursery" for the baby than I was when we first found out I was pregnant, I still haven't selected a pediatrician, and I haven't even started on any lesson plans for the long-term sub that will be stepping in for me when I'm on maternity leave.

Everyone please say a prayer now that our baby girl comes at least a week late (ideally 10 days late--that would just be really grand with my work schedule and everything).

Basically, I've realized enough is enough though, and now that my procrastination problem will seriously affect someone else who I'm supposed to be in charge of if I don't get a handle on it, I figured I'd better get my butt into gear now before she makes her debut.

My first step in my non-procrastination goal for the month was to buy myself a planner, so I picked myself up a 2015 Moleskine planner from Amazon and have been planning out my weeks using three different colors of pens--red for anything work-related, blue for anything church-related, and black for everything else. Each morning, I think about what I need to get done that day and try to plan accordingly. Each night, I check off what I've accomplished and prepare myself mentally for the next day. If something doesn't get done (which hasn't happened yet but very well might), I will move it to the next most convenient time slot.

The second step is to devote some of my nighttime reading minutes to finally working my way through The Now Habit, a book on overcoming procrastination that I've put off reading for years. (Yeah....) I've discovered that constantly feeding my mind with inspirational words about whatever it is I'm working on is a definite key for my success in that area--I know some people can do stuff without researching it to death, but I'm not one of them.

Third, I've created a master list of "Nagging Tasks" that have been put off for months that keep weighing down my life the longer they don't get done (think setting up dental appointments for us both and taking a load of furniture and other old possessions to charity). This idea was inspired by Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, where she says, "[S]tudies show that one of the best ways to lift your mood is to engineer an easy success, such as tackling a long-delayed chore. I was astounded by the dramatic boost in my mental energy that came from taking care of these neglected tasks." I've done this in the past, and I've found that it is enormously freeing to get these long-procrastinated tasks out of the way so my mind can be clear to focus on other priorities.

I know that one month won't be enough to fix a problem that's been steadily worsening for my whole lifetime, but I figure it's a start. Simply focusing on that more than anything else so far this month has already harvested some positive changes for me.

Wish me luck. (And really---please send up a little prayer that our baby will just stay right where she is until at the very least her due date...)

Friday, March 6, 2015

Iti's True---Money Bought Me a Better Life Last Weekend

After three years of teaching a whole unit on how money doesn't buy happiness (while my classes read A Christmas Carol), you'd think I'd be pretty dead-set sold that no amount of money could improve my life that much.

Last weekend, I discovered how very wrong I'd been.

Apparently, the amount of a tax return to the tune of about a thousand big ones is what it took to significantly improve our quality of life.

The purchase?

A new mattress.

But not just any mattress, friends--after years of back pain due to a too-firm, too-old, too-small bed, Matt and I decided to take the plunge and get ourselves a deluxe king-size, pillow-top Serta mattress.

We're wondering now how we ever did without it.

Of course, our old mattress was pretty bad---Matt's back problems had gotten so uncomfortable that we were considering finding a physical therapist, and I wasn't sleeping much at all (although I had taken to blaming the fact that I'm almost 8 months pregnant). For years, we had thought the problem stemmed from everything else--Matt's hobbies of intense dodgeball and racquetball games, my carrying a heavy purse, both of us maybe having slept in a weird position...

Nope, nope, and nope.

It was the mattress.

We now know this for a fact because we've had the mattress almost a week and magically, all our back problems have flown out the window, and I am actually getting a pretty restful night of sleep, even despite the fact that I still have to get up twice (once around 12:30 A.M. and the other time around 3:30) to use the bathroom. As a hardworking teacher, I've always looked forward to bedtime, but now both Matt and I actually daydream about it during the day--it's been like sleeping in a really nice hotel for the past 6 nights, so we feel like our bedroom has become kind of like a vacation in and of itself.

Who knew, right?

In other news, I cut off almost 8 inches of my hair last month, and hardly anyone noticed. (Except my students---7th graders notice EVERYTHING.) Even though there are times I miss longer hair, it was such a relief to just chop it off---no more split ends, and no more super-long drying, washing, or straight-ironing times.

Oh, and I have the day off today because we just finished up the second trimester at the school. Yesterday, all my colleagues were high-fiving and freaking out that the school year is 2/3 of the way over, but for me, the end is closer still---

I'm due in less than 6 weeks.

And we still don't even have a crib.

So I guess it looks like both us and the baby will have gotten ourselves some new digs to sleep in---

Let's just hope she doesn't come early since we're not planning on buying one until the end of the month...

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