Monday, February 05, 2018

What Remy is up to

--written by Paul during some slow moments at work


Counting
  • She knows 2, 4, 6, and 8 and inserts them as you say the odd numbers

Songs

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider: she'll do the hand motions sometimes, especially the spider climbing part;
  • Ring Around the Rosies: She says "up" to get you to do it with her, and she loves falling down so much that she falls halfway through the song;
  • Head Shoulders Knees and Toes: she'll squat with her hands downward, then end with both hands pointing to her noes;
  • Others: she recognizes other songs, but treats them like Ring Around the Rosies and falls down halfway through

Words

  • Animals: dog, cat, duck, horse, bear, sheep, lion, frog, chicken, cow, owl, fish, elephant, and some others with their respective noises, except a giraffe which has no noises.
  • Family: mom, dad, Remy, grandma, grandpa, Mallory, Joshua, Amos (because we see them often)
  • Body parts: eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, neck, chin, cheeks, ears, knees and toes (obviously), hair, hands, feet, belly
  • Actions: sit, help, touch, stand, couch (which means run and sit on the couch), 

Other

  • She loves her Shows which are Little Baby Bum cartoons on youtube. We ask "do you want to watch a show?" and she'll yell "show!" and clap her hands and wiggle back and forth.
  • She loves cereal; that's my bad.
  • She loves nectarines; that's Nat's bad.
  • She loves her parents.

Nat's note:

This morning we were all ready to leave for work. Remy pointed at the wedding portrait on our wall and said, "Dad!" She pointed again and said "Mom!" She then pointed at Paul and said, "Dad!" Then pointed at me and said, "Mom!" It's starting to connect in her brain and it's fascinating to watch.

She then pointed at her shirt, pants, and socks and called them out by name.

It was this funny little moment where Remy decided to show off her words without prompting. She's evolving! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Remy's Birth Story

I had an easy pregnancy. The kind of pregnancy you don’t tell many women about because you know they’re suffering and you’re…just getting big. Call it my height, call it the way my body handles excess weight, I have no idea what to call it, except easy. It wasn’t until Remy started getting stronger with her kicks that I could truly believe something was happening to my body. And with an anterior placenta, I didn’t feel kicks until Week 20 and they didn’t get especially sharp until nearly the end.

Pregnancy (easy as it is or not) is l o n g. Basically 10 months of time that seems to stretch into eternity. Maybe your first feels longer than subsequent kids (ask me after I get pregnant again, huh?) with anticipation and anxiety duking it out for space front and center in the brain. I was pregnant from late August to early May.

My official due date was Friday, May 6, 2016. First babies are historically late, and especially so in my family. I worked in the office clear up to my due date with the intention of working from home until the baby came. I had myself convinced Remy would come at least a week late, and for once in my life I actually believed the thing I told myself to make sure my expectations were appropriately set.

I worked through 40w 1d, left my office in a usable place, and went home to wait. So confident I was that I had plenty of time, we purchased tickets to see Avengers: Civil War on Tuesday $6 night. (Not that it was a movie I really wanted to see, it was a just because we could.) Paul found out he’d passed the Oregon State Bar about a month before and was looking for work. So there we were with nothing to do but wait to deliver this little gamechanger.

SUNDAY, May 08
I felt very few Braxton Hicks contractions on the ramp up to the big show. So Sunday morning when I woke up, ironically on Mother’s Day, I knew something different was happening in my body. I was unsettled (and lazy) enough that I sent Paul to our 10:00 church alone. I dozed off and on and wrote a letter to my soon-to-be-born baby girl. (I also forced Paul to write one. I’ll get it posted for posterity’s sake if it’s the last thing I do.) Contractions continued off and on throughout the day and I knew they were building into the main event—I just had no idea they would go on so long. Wanting to get out of the house later in the afternoon, and wanting to have some hearty food in my system, we had dinner at Outback Steakhouse and then wandered a TJ Maxx. At this point I was timing my contractions and we put a preemptive call in to my OB to ask how we should handle things so he wasn’t surprised by a middle of the night page. Some instructions were exchanged but it was essentially a ‘wait it out.’

So wait we did. We went on a long walk in the park near our house (to speed labor along). I curb walked (to speed labor along). Eventually we went home and to bed where I had a horrific night. I hardly slept; in a middle-of-the-night conversation I told Paul I would wait it out at home until Albertsons opened at 5:00 so we could have a bagel on the way. (Clearly I was very worried about all the reading I’d done re: starving during delivery because they don’t allow you to eat once you arrive.) 

MONDAY, May 09
I grew restless and uncomfortable enough that I looked up what time the Starbucks on the way to the hospital opened. 4:00 AM, hallelujah! My whole plan had been to wait out as much of labor at home so I could just show up at the hospital (dilated at like a 4 maybe?), get a quick epidural, and like my sisters have super quick, medicated deliveries. Easy peasy, right? Stay tuuuuuuuuuned.

So we’re in the Starbucks drive-through about 4:15 in the morning. (Paul needed a shower you see.) The cashier at the window asked why we were up so early and seemed delighted when Paul told him we were heading to the hospital to have a baby. Sadly, this did not mean we got free breakfast. I ate my bagel and we rushed down to Meridian Park Hospital.

It was quiet on the floor when we arrived and I was checked into a room. A nurse did a dilation check and delivered the bad news. I was only dilated to a one. Uno. Nine inches from delivery. Oof. They let me stay for a few hours and as I wasn’t progressing any, I got the boot. Plus a shot of morphine to deal with the pain, but the boot nonetheless. Paul drove me home to sleep and wait out my ensuing dilation. BUT TROUBLE FIRST. My body was already on its way to fairly forcefully rejecting the morphine. No sleep for me; I writhed in bed for a few hours until the 1:00pm appointment Paul had been able to set up with the OB. Not sure why I had a barf bag in my hand on the drive, but it came in handy as I threw up everything in my system before we got to the doctor’s.

I’m clearly in pain slash distress at the doctor’s and I’m dilated all the way to a 2. A two guys! 1:30 in the afternoon Monday. I already feel like I’ve been in labor forever but we trek back to the hospital. Taking the most efficient route would normally have been the preferred way, but driving absurdly windy roads had me throwing up anything I’d managed to put down. I’m so uncomfortable. And tired.

But we’re checked in again to the hospital and clearly on the road to having a baby. I need to get myself dilated to a 4 so they’ll break my water and give me an epidural. A few hours pass and I’m at the magical threshold. 4:00 in the afternoon; more than 24-hours after contractions first start. I’m set up with a catheter, have my water broken (which is easy to explain but probably not too-family friendly; just imagine it’s a balloon that needs to be popped), and an epidural ready to be put in.

Before you have your first epidural, you’re terrified of all the things that can go wrong. You’ve read things, you’ve heard things. But at this point, the delivery I was sure I was going to have (induced) was out the window. The doctor putting the epidural into my spine was named Dr. Payne. These are the things you can’t make up but give you ample opportunity to joke about to distract from the pain. Epidurals can only be placed in-between contractions so on a short break between that never-ending gift that keeps on giving, a long needle was placed in my back and a pain-blocking magical potion introduced pretty immediately.

I’m beyond jazzed at this point. I’m pain-free, I don’t have to get up to use the bathroom, and I’m en route to getting that baby out of my body and into my life. It was a joyous 45-minutes.

And then it all went south.

The next few hours were an intensifying reentry of contractions. My body started rejecting the epidural. First the right side. Eventually the left. Dr. Payne adjusted the dosage flowing through the tubes. He gave me two new epidurals from scratch. He eventually told me there was nothing else he could do. Dr. Pain indeed.  It looked like I was going to deliver this baby naturally.

TUESDAY, May 10
Contractions continued to grow in intensity and frequency. For the next ten hours (6PM-4AM), I experienced a contraction roughly every two-and-a-half minutes. Unprepared to deal with natural child birth, I lasted about six seconds into each contraction before a panic attack began and I was unable to breathe as the pain washed back and forth. For hours, I felt helpless. My full mental faculties were intact and I knew something was wrong. I was anxious to do something, anything differently. I asked the nurses seriously what my options were; I was ready to have a c-section. It was truly horrible. In between contractions I was so thirsty. Paul (probably rightfully) rationed my intake because he didn’t want me throwing up.

I’ll keep the trauma of those eight hours fairly limited as I don’t want to talk myself out of having another baby. The short of a verrrrrrrry long night is that my body was dialated to a 9 for hours on end (with contractions to match) but a piece of my cervix was blocking the birth canal for the baby to descend. At 4AM the doctor showed up with a plan. I would start the pushing process, and he would use his hobbit hands to manually move that piece of cervix. That process took about two hours and was as comfortable as you can imagine. Then, THEN, the real work of pushing could begin. As painful and difficult as pushing was, it was the change my body (and brain!) needed. The time between each contraction/push was the mental rest I needed to gear up for the next push, which finally felt progressive.

Pushing (never forget this is a natural birth) proceeded for another two hours, though it didn’t feel nearly that long. Paul stood on my left and held one of my legs, a nurse on my right with the other. Machines started beeping, alerting everyone present that the baby wasn’t getting the oxygen she needed. They quickly gave me an oxygen mask and I struggled to use it. It felt too small for my face and I alternated breathing from it and normally. The baby was still in distress and things flew into quick action as I was given an episiotomy and they baby was vacuumed out of me.

7:37 AM and our baby girl is HERE. They put her on my chest and she has a full head of dark hair. It’s quickly noticed that she’s not breathing and she’s squirreled away to the in-room incubator while my OB worked to stitch me up. I cry out as a reminder that I have no numbing pain medication, and the doctor and nurse pass a look. I’m shot up with a local anesthetic and I cry the whole time; it’s painful, but it’s over. I cry because it was so hard, and so utterly terrible, and I’m alone. Paul is with Remy first in our room, and later as she’s moved to the fetal nursery/NICU as they work to stabilize her. It’s a surreal feeling to experience such a lengthy affair and have nothing to show for it. I spend the next hour alone as the nurses work to clean me and the room up. Paul comes back and fills me in on what they’ve been doing to Remy to stabilize her. We order lunch. Eat lunch. Parents, without a baby. The most horrific pain in my life transpired, and nothing (yet) to show for it.

It’s nearly four hours before they bring Remy to me.

The rest of our hospital stay is more normally mainstream. My OB tells me that’s as bad as it can get and I would have survived well on the plains. It’s not much consolation for the series of unfortunate events that just transpired, but it does make me feel better to know it was out of the ordinary terrible. I call it outlandishly terrible. But I plan to do it again as soon as I can*.  

*easy to say as I’m writing Remy’s birth story when she’s 20+ months old. HA.

We were fairly certain we wanted to name her Remy, but kicked around naming her Cheren and calling her Ren. We didn't officially name her until late in her second day of life, though we both knew she would be named Remy. 

Remy Cheren Judd. Born 7:37 am, Tuesday May 10th. 8 pounds, 8 ounces. 20 1/2 inches long. Dark hair and coloring. All ten fingers, all ten toes, a tiny mole birthmark on her left inner thigh, and a small suction protrusion on the back of her head. The perfect baby.

There are very few pictures of us in the hospital. In hindsight, I think both Paul and I were so traumatized by what happened that we didn't wish to record it. We don't have a single picture of the three of us; and I regret that deeply. I spent a total of three nights (including the overnight of laboring) before we went home. My mom drove straight from SLC and was with us a for a few minutes on the second night and I didn't leave my room until early the third night when we took a small walk around the OB floor. 


I left the hospital with 25+ stitches and two dislocated ribs. 

But we left with the most perfect bundle of joy, went home and life really began.
















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Friday, January 05, 2018

On the birth of my new cooking blog

I just counted the actual posts, and I've written on this blog a total of 12, TWELVE, times since moving to Portland six years ago. The death of blogging isn't a burden carried on my shoulders alone; in fact, there isn't a single blog I routinely follow anymore when for years there were dozens. We went short form with Twitter or visual with Instagram. We went the quicker, easier route.

Tonight we rewatched The Big Sick, which is 100% a movie you should watch. The lead character is semi-forced to give up his family to be with the woman he loves. During a pivotal scene in the movie, I told Paul I was glad neither of us had to give much up to love the other. This is the point in my writing where I blame Paul for my not blogging. Thanks for your love Paul, how could you let me not chronicle the last six pivotal years of my life? Geez, that guy.

Okay, jokes. I didn't blog the 18 months before I met him and I haven't blogged the last 4 years+ we've been married. That's on me. And I'm so sad about it, but only because I got sucked down a wormhole of reading old posts the other night and I realized I miss the effort of writing for non-professional reasons. Where I can throw out most grammar and punctuation rules and simply write as it makes sense to me. (True story: 10 years ago when asked why I should get hired I told the hiring manager "I write a really great email." 8 years into that job, said hiring manager told me that statement and the confidence behind it is what earned me a business card with their company name on it.) 

Last bizarro thought for the night. Neither Paul nor I are interested in full scale cooking. I like to tell people we're 'great assemblers,' which is short-hand for lazy with a side of 'we mostly like to eat out.' In the last year we've gotten much better about having food on hand at home to eat (because Remy goes to bed at 6:30 and we live next to nothing good to eat and we're too lazy to leave the house in search of food). There are a handful of frozen Costco products we keep on hand that we can quickly throw in the oven and pat ourselves on the back for having a home-cooked meal. (My primary favorite being chicken cordon bleu and a side of broccoli.) Someone recommend a blog for me that's THOSE kind of meals. Since a cursory search of the interweb crushed my dream of finding "easy" meals that require 5 ingredients or less, I shall be forced to start that blog on my own.

At least this will give me a purpose. Riiiiiiiight?

And like all cooking blogs, the wind-up to the actual recipe is four paragraphs too long when all you want is the photo and the ingredients and not some four-paragraph story about how this recipe came to be. Oye. I hate myself. 

Tonight's assembled dinner: TACOS
  • Ground beef previously cooked (from frozen!) in an Instant Pot
  • Cook yourself tortilla with melted cheese on it
  • Pre-made pico de gallo
  • Add some spinach
  • Add some avacado
WAHLA. Pat for yourself on the back for making dinner. I know I do.
Also bucking the food blog trend by taking a single photo that doesn't oversell what it is you're going to make. Also: not building my own light box. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

2018 is the new 2008

It was the moment Paul started watching a YouTube compilation of people jumping into trampolines filled with stuff that I threw off the blanket, stood up from my perpetually-reclined position on the couch and told him, "I need to do something productive."

This, plus some gentle nudging from ye old bestie of yore about resurrecting the blog and WAH-LA. I make no promises, but perhaps the evenings of 2018 can be filled with a little more night type clickity-clack and a little less self loathing while playing Two Dots and simultaneously wanting to beat the level and hurry up and waste all my lives in the hope of doing something else.

So here we are. Blogging like it's 2008, which feels like yesterday, but tonight I cooked frozen ground beef in an Instant Pot in 20 minutes, so it's the future! Quit living in the past Nat! (Except we also watched Die Hard 2 tonight which was made in 1990, so I continue to be a walking contradiction.)

Today was my first full day back at work after the holiday, which wasn't all too terrible. By the calculations I did yesterday, I worked all of six full days in December between our glorious week-long Hawaiian hiatus and the speed of business that gets done during the winter holidays. Big business, man! (I'm loving it.) ((Also, I got a new job, having left my old nearly-there-a-decade job, which is a loooooong soap opera which should really be a telenovela.))

Our biggest accomplishment of 2017 was several substantial payments made directly to the principal on our mortgage. Today I plotted the number of years we've now cut our loan to in this mortgage amoritization calculator in Excel (spoiler: a downloadable version is at the very bottom of the article). Pay down principal as early and as often as you can folks. Our goal is to pay off the house before Remy hits High School.

THIS IS WHO I'VE BECOME. You used to come for off-the-wall associations and a creative turn of phrase, and now you're dialing in for mortgage tips and rundowns of a run-of-the-mill Tuesday from a middle-aged working mother. SOMEONE DECORATE MY HOUSE WITH MORE WHITE SPACE SO I CAN TURN BLOGGING INTO A BONAFIDE CAREER ALREADY.

Okysmoke. That's enough for now, let's not set the bar too high.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016: The Recap

Guys. 2016 was a game changer. A total and utter game changer. 2015 was full of world travel, educational advancement and baby prep, but in 2016 it actually happened. We had a baby.

A cute baby.

A very cute baby.

And now our life revolves around her awesomeness.

The photos below were posted to Instagram in 2016. They are the most liked of all the images posted and in an effort to have some kind of family record (because 2011 through now is a tumbleweed blowing across your computer screen) let's recap the year:

  1. After 42-hours of raw, medication free labor, our Remy girl came into the world. My birth story deserves its own post (fingers crossed I'll follow-through) but it was dramatic, traumatic, and Paul and I agreed we wouldn't talk about future kids or future labors for quite some time. The short story is my body didn't absorb the epidural narcotics, a piece of the cervix was blocking the birth canal so I was dilated to an 8 for 7+ hours (middle of the night), hyperventilated every contraction, pushed for 3 hours, had a baby who wasn't breathing and it was just real dramatic like. The photo above was several hours after birth when we were reunited. So much hair on that little head!
  2. For Halloween I wanted to do a costume fairly low-key that had high impact but didn't require us to invest a fortune (because babies are fickle and only want to wear a costume for minutes at a time). Hot glue gun cotton balls to a beanie and add a dollar store pair of reading glasses (lenses removed) to a sweater, brooch, and dress combo and wah-la! We sure love our little old lady.
  3. I decided it was cheaper (and more fun!) to fly Alaina out to shoot our family photos than to pay someone in town, so for two short days in November she came for a visit. We spent one afternoon taking family photos in front of the Portland skyline and at Cathedral Park by the St. John's bridge. I'll absolutely always treasure this photo of me and Remy -- it's about the only one where I have nice hair! 
  4. This photo is the very first full-face photo of Remy we posted to social media. In it we also announced her full name, weight (8 lbs 8 ounces), height (20.75 in), and a good look at that very full, very dark head of hair. 
  5. After visiting Santa at the mall (wherein we paid an obscene amount of money for a reservation so we didn't have to wait in line) I saw this festive setup in Pottery Barn. We quickly set Remy on the couch and snapped this gorgeous keeper of a photo. I'm still waiting for Pottery Barn to return my phone call about including this image in next year's catalog. 
  6. This family-of-three shot is one of my ultimate favorites from Alaina's shoot--it made it onto the backside of our 2016 Christmas card as well. I posted it on a Friday wherein I got some really bad news at work that rocked me back a step (nothing super personal, account and client news) but I posted this photo with a caption of how excited I was to go home and spend time with these best friends of mine. Being a full-time working mom also deserves its own post I think. (Add it to the list.)
  7. A baby in a pumpkin! I mean come. on. I fully anticipated Remy would cry when we put her into a cold, wet pumpkin wearing only a diaper. She didn't, because our baby is the most even-keeled happy baby there ever was. (Oh, we also put a dish towel in there.) We put a few decorations up on our porch once Sunday after church and snapped this picture. There are about a dozen in the set and they're all ridiculously cute. 
  8. Remy loooooooooooooves the bath. Like holy smokes that girl would be happy to bathe every night. Somewhere mid-Fall we started putting her in the bathtub with one of us and she's never happier than when she's splashing in the tub. This photo was the second night she got to bathe in our main bathroom--the first night she learned that splashing has cause and effect.
  9. Christmas Eve we took a redye flight to Bermuda. I wanted to vacation somewhere warm for the holiday but options were limited as true Caribbean/Mexican destinations were off-limits due to the Zika Virus (I'd like Remy to have a sibling with a normal-shaped head you see.). My parents joined us (they committed less than 90 minutes after asking!) and we had a ball hanging out at a posh resort, riding mopeds, and relaxing together. This photo is at the resort's private beach on the day after Christmas (late enough to have slept in after Remy couldn't figure out what time it was in her crib in the hotel room closet). 
2016 is a year many called a dumpster fire, rife with political and social drama. My year, however--our year, was fantastic. Adding Remy to our family has added depth and meaning to an otherwise full and satisfying life. Paul and I have, much to our surprise, naturally snapped into parenting this sweet girl entrusted to us. What a year.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dear Remy | Day Before Returning to Work



Hello sweet girl,

In two short days you’ll be 12 weeks old. It’s hard to fathom you’ve been with us so long Remy Ren! We’ve lived on your schedule for 12 weeks and enjoyed (nearly) every second of it. You’ve been the best baby. 

You don’t cry without reason. You don’t hate the bath. YOU SLEEP. You’ve smiled since three weeks. You’ve allowed us to haul you to Seattle a few times, on an adventurous vacation to Alaska, and to spend some time with Grandpa and Grandma in Utah. Somehow I knew you’d be a low-key baby before you were born and you’ve exceeded all of my expectations. 

Your arrival into the world wasn’t so easy. Where I thought you’d come quickly and painlessly, your entry was anything but. Due to a number of complications including my body rejecting three epidurals (and other pain medications) and a looooooong, slow delivery; things didn’t go according to plan and I didn’t feel prepared for two long days of contractions and a natural birth. Your heartrate suffered at the end (unsurprising as you and I had both been through so much!) and you were vacuumed out; a good thing as you then had trouble breathing on your own. It took a few minutes for the doctor and nurses to get you breathing on your own; there were a few scary minutes but you quickly started to respond. I cried after you were delivered both because you were here, but also because the birthing process was simply over. It was fairly traumatic for us both.

Since the very beginning, you’ve been the prettiest baby. Your features are petite and your wrists and ankles slim. Most shocking to your Dad and me was the very full, very dark head of hair you had and continue to sport. Born at 8 pounds, 8 ounces you still felt so tiny! You were almost 21 inches tall and have been quick to continue growing in height. 

Weight gain has been a different story. In the hospital you were a great eater and quickly put the weight you’d lost back on. At home was another story. You nursed the right number of times per day for extreme lengths of time (30-40 minutes per side). It wasn’t until a weigh-in at a fortunate doctor’s visit, where I feared you had thrush, that the doctor grew concerned with your weight gain. You’d slipped from the 90th percentile at birth to the 40th. We began seeing a lactation consultant and it was discovered you had issue withdrawing milk. My days as an exclusive pumper began. In your first three days of bottle feeding you put as much weight on as you had in your first four weeks of life! Since that time you’ve remained somewhat disinterested in food, but are gradually gaining weight. You’re long and lean.

Through a series of incredibly fortunate events, your Dad was home with us the first ten weeks of your life. The three of us have spent nearly every hour of each day together getting to know each other. We’ve had the best time! Dad has been an incredible helper; he changes the majority of your diapers and does the majority of the feedings. You two have a special bond and I love seeing it develop. 

Tomorrow I return to working full time and you’ll begin spending time at the daycare we’ve chosen. My heart is so divided. I love being with you Remy; it’s surprised me how much patience I have with you and your needs, and how natural being your mother feels. Even when it’s Dad’s turn to do something I can usually be found hovering around you both just watching. I find myself drawn to you in ways I didn’t know to be possible. And yet, there’s a need I have to do more, to use the parts of my brain that are so good at what they do. To go back to my job and provide value and function in a way that is meaningful to me—that fills me up and makes me feel good about myself. 

I don’t know what to expect from my feelings taking you to daycare tomorrow. Last week I had my first cry as I held you in my arms and imagined you being in a strangers’. I know you’ll be in good hands (we wouldn’t ever send you somewhere that wasn’t) but knowing you won’t always be someone’s first priority breaks my heart a little. “It’ll build character,” I tell myself, but still it hurts my heart. If I’m honest with myself I’m also nervous you’ll love someone more than you do me. I couldn’t handle that. 

Remy Ren, Sweetie P, Bitty, Baby Raymi – in the last 12 weeks you have stolen my heart. We spend hours of time together every day and yet I still find myself missing you when you’re napping or in bed for the night. I love singing to you, talking in a ridiculously high voice to you, and serving you. The way you hold my fingers tight and look into my eyes when you’re eating, the way you break into a smile when I get you up from your crib (even as the tears haven’t yet dried on your face), the way you still fall asleep in my arms or on my chest. The smell of your hair, the smoothness of your skin, and the beginning squeeziness of your thighs; I adore it all. 

During each phase of your development I think to myself, “it can’t get better/cuter than this.” I have thoroughly enjoyed being proven wrong time and time again.

Mama loves you sweet girl.

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!