Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The baby went to kindergarten and now what?

I have spent most of my life terrified of criticism and judgement.

I said it.
Terrified of judgement.

I chose perfectionism as my anxiety controller of choice.
I was a straight A honor student.
I finished my bachelor's degree in two years.
Probably the biggest mistake I ever made, but that's another story.

I picked things that were easy to judge as 'good' or 'bad' and dumped anything subjective.
The panic - cold sweat, heart beating out of my chest, and running in circles to explain anything I may have done that seemed wrong - would eventually break even the strongest of perfect people.

But, one failed marriage, four kids, no grad school, and fifteen years of wandering in the darkness of perceived perfection later, I am getting over it.
I tried like the devil to do everything right and failed relatively miserably.
Because you can't possibly be right for everyone, every time, in every way.

No more picket fences, matching outfits, perfectly decorated and organized rooms, fabulous dinner parties (maybe we shouldn't throw that one away), fancy cars, houses, purses, shoes...this list could go on for a year.

I have a degree in International Relations and Economics (to this day, I still feel like capitalizing it makes it sound better) and yet I realized this morning that I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for nearly eight years of my life.
Not exactly the highly educated, liberated, I-can-do-it-all fantasy of my earlier years.
Liberated might as well mean Pedicure these days.

But I'm happy.
I'm so happy that thoughts about how happy I am pop into my mind spontaneously.
I don't even know how this happens because I was 100% miserable since I can honestly remember.

Before I could face the dreaded Judgement and Criticism, I did everything the "right" way.
Right being defined by everyone around me, and that's not even really fair, since most of what I thought people wanted was something I conjured up in my mind.
Now, by my own sheer choices and sabotage, I find myself doing everything wrong, or winging it, or having no plan - and letting myself just live life as it unfolds.

I have to tell you, it's like white knuckling on the edge of a building scary some days.
And then it's over.
And no one died.

I'm not even going to proofread this post for spelling and grammar.
This is taking things a little too far, in my opinion, but I'm doing it anyway just to make the point.
And the worst that will happen is someone will point something out in the comments.

But no one will die.
And only like four people read this blog anyway, so no biggie.

So, as I sit here with my fresh and sweet little baby (born out of love but not marriage) and my other three kids off to school, I have to face myself.
And that's pretty hard most of the time, that whole facing yourself thing.
And I'm honestly not sure what I'm supposed to be doing now.

Aaaannddd that's okay.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Birth of Ella Minor

First of all, this story is gruesome, uses questionable language, and may give you 
visual images that you can't erase.
Reader discretion is advised.
Also, it's long. 

It all starts with a double line on a test.
A long deep breath.
And a text message.

Not exactly the cutesy, creative way all the women on Pinterest deliver the news, but whatever.

I was on a work trip and had the answer to why my brand new work pants did not fit.
My 'really bad PMS' was now going to last FOREVER.

I delivered my first three children in the hospital and had epidurals that slowed/stopped my labor, then had Pitocin, then the epidural magically stopped working, then I got a complimentary back wax as they re-did the epidural during transition.


This time I thought, NO - I want to deliver drug free, IV free, 
little belly-strap-thing-that-tracks-your-every-move free.
I will sit in a spa tub and the midwives will sing to me while I deliver this beautiful baby, with only a slightly pained smile on my face.

Just like on TV.

The pregnancy lasted FOREVER and one day.
I have never gone a full 40 weeks.
In my mind, I was due at 37 weeks, which is when my last one was born at a solid 8 lbs, 6 oz.

With a varicose vein the size of the Mississippi running through my lady parts, ankles that disappeared months ago, one pair of shoes that fit, and a series of three giant house coats disguised as maxi dresses, that I wore every day for at least the six weeks, combined with obscene waddling, strangely huge moles cropping up, and my brain function diminished to kindergarten level, I was  DONE BEING PREGNANT.

To make matters worse, I kept going into labor.
I know, I know - it isn't labor until blah blah blah.
Screw anyone who says that.

But Little Miss had her head turned sunny side up (just google it).
And six hours of painful contractions, on multiple occasions, were not turning it.

The midwives advised me to stand on my head and wiggle around.
Just kidding. Sort of.
I actually had to get on my couch, with my knees on the edge and my hands on the floor.

Supposedly, this position would encourage her to 'back out' of my pelvis and go back in the 'right way'.
What they didn't know is that I was going to deliver a baby the size of anaconda, so I could stand on my head all I wanted, but there was no backing out of anywhere.

On my due date, I gave up.
My dream of the singing midwives would be crushed.
I was going to be induced and end up with a c-section.

That night, I asked the mister to bring me a cheeseburger - a double one.
I should take this time to say, he is the most PATIENT man in the universe. 
And he took excellent care of me.
I, on the other hand, would have shot and buried me somewhere by now.

The contractions started AGAIN around 10:30 that night.
I decide going to bed is the best way to handle the contractions since they clearly will not result in a baby.

At 3:00 am I hobble and groan my way to bathroom to pee.
The mister said if I was a horse making those sounds, he would have to put me down.
I'm still having contractions, but whatever.

The midwives have all said I need to always lay on my left side during contractions to get the baby to turn.
Well, laying on my left side hurts.
Well, at 3:15 am, I decide f*** this, it hurts and I want to lay on my right side.
She's never coming out anyway, so I might as well be comfortable.

Two contractions later, I feel the infamous POP and the resulting hot liquid.
I shot my behind off the side of the bed, praying the gush would hit the floor, and not the mattress.

Now, standing in a massive puddle I freak out a little.
I'm crying to the mister to check and see if the fluid is clear - he confirms.
I decide the toilet is the best place to sit down while I figure out what to do.

I shuffle on a bridge of towels from the bed to the bathroom.
I'm sitting on the toilet, mister is talking to my mom, and the most horrendous pain of my life strikes.
I fall off the toilet.


The worst diarrhea since a red curry Thai dish back in 2004.
It took 8 years for me to eat Thai food again.

I'm thinking, okay at least I don't have to worry about 'pooping on the table' during delivery.
Everyone woman's nightmare.
No one wants to poop in front of everyone lined up, staring at your hooha.

So, pipes cleaned, I get dressed and ready to leave for the birth center, which is over an hour away.
Kids dropped off, family notified, we head out.

Everything is going fine - the contractions are pretty much same story, different day.
And then we hit the halfway point and the sounds change.

The mister makes all kinds of inappropriate jokes about the moaning.
I would have laughed if I didn't want to punch him in the face.

We make it there without resorting to a roadside delivery.
I am relieved to find I am dilated to 6 cm.

Having tested positive for group B strep, the midwife and an intern immediately try to start an IV for the recommended antibiotics.
It doesn't go well.
Twenty minutes later, the midwife says to check me again. 

I was at 8 cm.
I beg for them to let me get in the tub.

I was convinced the tub would be just the calm I needed.
And it was.
For two contractions.

By the third, I looked at the mister, pointed and said I HATE YOU.
He announced I was officially in transition.
He was right.

And then...
Transition pain?
Oh no. God, please no.

Diarrhea. In. The. Tub.

On go the armpit-length plastic gloves.
Out come the little green fishnets.

Those little nets were like using a flyswatter on a hornet nest.

I officially lose my mind.

Another round of shitting on the toilet.
The midwife's face is between my legs as she's convinced I will have the baby in the toilet.

Now, it's me, the mister, the midwife, and the intern - all in a very tiny bathroom.
The midwife, in a very urgent voice, tells the mister they need to get me OUT  of the bathroom NOW.

I wail.

The mister insists it doesn't matter. 
I insist on wiping myself. 
With very thin toilet paper. 

Okay, let's go!! The mister is getting serious. 
Mind you, I am naked, dripping wet, and a baby is going to fall out of my body any second. 

A contraction hits just after I turn off the water. 
I hit the floor, screaming. 
And now, the mister, the midwife, and the intern are attempting to carry/drag me to the bed. 

I assure you if this wasn't in the wee hours of a Saturday morning, the entire waiting room of sweet pregnant ladies would have run screaming, begging to be un-pregnant. 

Now on the bed, the crew is yelling for me to push - if I feel like pushing. 
I don't feel like anything but please God someone get this thing out of my body so this can be over and dear God WHY HAVE I BEEN IN TRANSITION FOR SIX YEARS???

I push like I pushed with the first three babies. 

Ohhhhh, remember how Little Miss was turned face up?
Yeah, that's like trying to push a tractor trailer out of the mud. 

Now begins the I am going to die phase of this birth. 

I announce I simply can't push laying on my back. 
The crew flips me on my side. 
That nearly gets the intern a black eye during the next contraction. 

I flip over onto my hands and knees. 
I hold onto the pillows for dear life. 
But somehow, I feel a little control again. 

The crew is still yelling to push. 
All I can think about is accidentally shit-spraying the entire posse of people standing at eye level with my butt hole. 
It doesn't help that every so often, the intern wipes poop off me with a wet cloth. 

Finally, I give in, throw away any sense of dignity I might have - as if I have any left at this point, and yell 
And, just like that, the wonderful midwife obliges. 

It is worth mentioning that the poor midwife forgot her "work" shoes at home and was doing all of this in her socks. 
I imagine she threw them away.

Now I can focus on getting this baby out. 
Not before I yell PLEASE JUST CUUUUT ME!
I hear the baby nurse say "Nope, you've got this". 

A few pushes later, Little Miss FINALLY turns and there is light at the end of this tunnel of shit. 
I can't leave out the ring of fire at the end, but all things considered, this was just a minor inconvenience. 
I pushed, they pulled. 
Out came the anaconda, I mean the baby. But seriously, her body went on forever.

They put her on the bed under me. 
I tried not to fall on her. 
The mister grabbed her and helped me lay down so I could see her sweet face. 

If you know anything about how babies are supposed to enter the world, you will know that Ella turned at the last minute, but because I was on my hands and knees, she still came out facing the heavens - exactly the way she planned all along. 

Welcome to the world Ella.
 9 pounds 5 ounces and 21.5 inches of chubby sweetness. 
After that, the baby coma set in and I have been madly in love ever since. 

Monday, August 5, 2013


I had previously decided to kill this blog and use my photography website blog instead.

First, that never happened.
Mostly because I was pregnant and vomiting and miserable.
But also because I couldn't figure out how to get all personal and still be professional...

And then, that little person making me vomit arrived four weeks ago.

Now that I'm not completely brain drained and obscenely cranky, I'm back to writing.
And taking photos.
Except I take photos of other people's newborns for a living and have not managed to take any of my own.

But, here I am nearly a year after I killed this blog, ready to share the most gruesome birth story every written.
Okay, maybe not the most gruesome ever, but still.

I also have nice things to say, but if I don't get this story on paper, I might die from the constant replay in my mind.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


How is it August 30 and I have had only 3 whole things to say?

This girl has been busy.
But that sweet little curly-headed boy of mine is about to have a birthday.

I'm going to dig up some photos and cry a little.

But not tonight. I have to go to bed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Canning Your Own Food: Athletic and Dangerous

Canning food is a long-standing family tradition for the Minors.
I can remember Grandmom spending hours prepping peaches, making relish, pickling beets, and freezing lima beans.
I grew up with my mom canning food from the backyard garden - string beans, tomato sauce, and homemade applesauce.

I even have peach-peeling post traumatic stress disorder from the summer of 1997 or so.
Mom decided she wanted A LOT of peaches for the winter.
I think I washed and peeled peaches for at least three days.
Without sleeping. Or eating.

This year, having my own garden has made me think rather fondly of the time I spent helping preserve our own hard-earned food.
Even the traumatic peach event has been glossed over in my mind.
Kind of like childbirth.

Have you ever read an article on canning your own food?
Stories of jars blowing up, pressure canners blowing up, disease, spoiled food, and they always say it is imperative to refer to the USDA guidelines for temperature and boiling times.
Scary. Scary. Scary.

I begin.

Google told me I could put the whole peaches in hot boiling water for 45 seconds, then dunk them in ice cold water and the skins would fall right off.
REALLY wish Google existed in 1997.
I didn't even have a cell phone in 1997.

It still took a solid 2 hours to prep a minimal number of peaches.
My kitchen counters were covered in sticky peach syrup, including a drip trail to the garbage.
In addition, the jars all had to be sterilized in the dishwasher, a sugar syrup had to be concocted and be boiling, but only boil for 5 minutes, then remain hot, and all the jar lids had to be sterilized by boiling for 5 minutes, then remain hot but not boiling because they have to be put on the hot jars while hot.
But not boiling.

My kitchen is not equipped for this level of multitasking.
If you don't follow the directions exactly, you could give your family and everyone you know some sort of strange mold disease or botulism, because your jars won't seal.
And you will die.

Now would be the time to mention that while Grandmom canned lots of things, peaches were always frozen in her house. And our house.
But no, I decided I needed the experience of full fledged canning my first time out.
I am an idiot.

By now, I have dredged my entire boob - a boob that is still wearing pajamas at 2pm - through a puddle of peach juice in an attempt to get good photos of this fiasco.
I banished the children from the kitchen.
I could not answer the phone because my fingers were covered in glop BUT REALLY because I couldn't even handle talking on the phone for a minute while trying to figure out if the hot packed peaches were overcooked in the syrup, if the jars were hot enough, did I pack the peaches tight enough, and oh crap, did I let the lids cool down too much?

Because we will all die from disease if I mess this up.
I was sweating and panic stricken.
By the way, don't schedule anything or anywhere to be on "canning day".
You can't leave your house and will barely be able to leave the kitchen.
Because you will miss something and you will kill your family.

This is a hot water bath canning pot.
You need to know your altitude above sea level to know how long you have to boil the filled jars.
And if you don't boil long enough? Disease. If you boil too long? Ruined, wasted effort.

I pressed on.
Called mom only once. Texted a thousand times.

This is the final result.
All but two jars were sealed perfectly.
I certainly could have packed WAY more peaches in each jar.
The lesson here? Freeze them next year.

Of course I am prepping Aunt Mare's Famous Tomato Soup made from my very own homegrown Roma tomatoes.
I have already read all the stories of exploding jars of tomatoes, and I am going to do it anyway.
Because I am an idiot.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Littlest

One day post birthday party. 

The newly crowned 9-year-old tucked herself away in my room to sing as loud as humanly possible on her new Soulo karaoke microphone. 

She loves loves loves to sing. 
And short of buying a drum set, I'm not sure I did myself any favors with this gift choice. 

I attempt to record the happenings of a 9-year-old before eye rolls and audible sighs roll in.

But the littlest little brother decides to roll in first. 

I am distracted from the vocal artist singing a very stylized version of Take Me Out to The Ballgame.
That is his way. And it works. Almost every time.  

She doesn't really even notice him.
He tries to join her in a song or two and she is is generous enough to make him happy. 
But not too generous.

At this point we have attempted everything from Amazing Grace to Super Freak, Britney to Dixie Chicks, and an exhausting run of Jingle Bells. 

So much for not buying a drum set. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Making Tracks

A very good friend of mine asked if I could take some pictures of her daughter, just before she enters her senior year of high school.

Needless to say, I totally freaked out, threw up a little, and broke out into a sweat.
I really don't take pictures on purpose of other people's children.
Because they might be horrible. And I don't want to be responsible.

But, I did it anyway. Because I like the kid. And I really like her mom.

She brought no less than eight wardrobe changes.
And lots of "mad ideas".

I'm not really sure if this is what 'senior portraits' should look like, but she really liked them. 
And we had a blast running all over town looking for anything broken to stand next to. 

Here's to wishing her luck and love as she moves into the next chapter.