my favorite month

I think December will always be one of my favorite months. For one, Ellie was born on the 20th, and I will always remember that month in 2008 as one of anticipation, pure joy and utter chaos all at once–like being five years old on Christmas morning all over again.

But December is also the month we discovered Gwen would be joining us, which is a story I never told here because I was too busy hibernating for the first part of this year. Now is as good a time as any!

Last year at this time we were actively trying to get pregnant–something I never want to do again. Not that the process itself isn’t, uhh, fun, and not that the result isn’t worth the effort, but (in typical Caroline fashion) I can’t do something without getting obsessed and I’m the least patient person you’ll ever meet. I’m Miss “If I can’t do it right the first time I don’t want to do it at all.”

In other words: I may maintain an adult exterior but on the inside I’m still five years old.

So I’d spent the two months since I stopped taking birth control in typical obsessive fashion: Sobbing unattractively every time I peed on a stick. Buying pregnancy tests in bulk and taking them every day, even when I knew I’d get a negative result. Charting temperatures and tracking fertility signs (ladies, a litmus test: If you can utter the words “cervical mucus” and your guy or gal of choice doesn’t run screaming the other way, you’ve picked a good one.) Examining false positives under different light sources at a thousand different angles. Reading fertility message boards and learning the acronyms (TTC! DTD! BFP!) all the while convinced we’d never get pregnant, I’d never be able to have another baby, I’d have to go through all sorts of painful procedures and exams and on and on and on.

Let me reiterate:  All this over the course of two months. Two months. Some people go through this for years, and I don’t know how they do it because I’d have imploded with anxiety by month four.

I’ll also remind you that Ellie was a surprise. A big surprise. We weren’t preventing, but we also weren’t expecting anything to happen for a long time. I’d convinced myself over the course of the last two years that she was a miracle, and repeating that miracle would take nothing short of, well, another miracle.

Anyway, Christmas came around and I promised myself I’d have a nice time with family and try to forget about the pregnancy nonsense for a few days. Well, mostly. I was still taking tests obsessively but I was determined not to be mopey about it, and on that front I succeeded. We visited my parents, spoiled Ellie rotten for her birthday and all was well.

On Christmas Eve I got the stomach bug that had been circulating and spent most of the day in bed feeling feverish and trying not to puke. I took a pregnancy test just for the hell of it and thought maybe I’d seen the faintest of faint pink lines (if I held the test upside down while jumping around in a counterclockwise circle three and a half turns), but I’d been seeing false positives for weeks. In keeping with my “No Stressing on Christmas” mantra, I didn’t get my hopes up.

Ellie woke up at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, refusing to sleep, wanting to cuddle. So in a bleary state of exhaustion I thought, “What the hell, I’m up” and decided to take another test. This time the faint pink line was not so faint… hmm. So I tried another brand of test (see the part about me being obsessive) and the second line was blatantly obvious. I did a happy dance in the bathroom, then crawled back into bed and tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep for the next three hours.

Before Tim woke up that morning, I put the test back in its foil sheath and wrapped it in green tissue paper. I stuck a bow on top and snuck downstairs before the rest of the family, placing the test in Tim’s stocking so it would be the first “gift” he opened–and when he did, his absolutely perplexed look was priceless. His first words to me were, “You mean… it’s over???? Thank god!!!”

Oh, no, my dear. It’s just beginning! Proof:


(Hard to believe someone so laid-back came from someone so insane, isn’t it?)

attack of the stupid gallbladder

Apparently Gwen’s pregnancy did more than just wreak havoc on my bladder, pelvis, stomach and the usual postpartum fare–it brought my stupid gallbladder* out of hiding, and boy is it pissed! Yes, pregnancy and an admittedly rich diet seems to have triggered gallbladder attacks, something I’d never experienced before, something I definitely never wanted to experience for sure. Ow. Thankfully I’ve only had two short episodes in the last week–I hope that means we caught this early.

You’d think having to push a baby out of my vagina and the subsequent sleep deprivation that goes along with having a newborn would have been punishment enough for one maternity leave, but no. Let’s throw a random medical issue into the mix for good fun. And here I was, feeling all smug for having successfully dodged two c-sections.

I’m seeing a surgeon on Friday to go over the ultrasound and (most likely) schedule a cholecystectomy. Of course, I’ve consulted with Dr. Google enough to have some anxiety about the process. Many people say they’ve had easy recoveries but there are enough horror stories out there to make me worry.

(Truth be told, I’m also worried about how this will impact my future ability to eat pizza without gastrointestinal discomfort. Hey, priorities. And I wonder how I got into this mess!)

Tim will also be out of the country (and by that I mean temporarily not on this continent–not just in Canada!) for a week very soon, so I’m already a little (read: a lot) anxious about that. I’m just a giant ball of freak-out these days, really. Thankfully I’ll have help from my parents (love you guys!) and hopefully I can put off the surgery until after Tim gets back so I have his support if the recovery is rough.

Sucky silver lining: I now have something to hold over Gwen’s head when she’s a teenager and driving me batty. With Ellie, I had a 30-something hour labor–easy guilt fodder there. But Gwen’s labor was only 8 hours–not effective for guilt purposes. Instead, I’ll be able to say, “You gave me gallstones–the least you can do is clean your room!”

It's a good thing I'm cute!
It's a good thing I'm cute!

As if to make up for my pain and suffering (cue overly dramatic sigh) Miss Gwen recently decided to sleep through the night, three nights in a row! Seven hours at a stretch! It’s pure sleepytime bliss up in here. I don’t know whether to celebrate or knock on wood to avoid jinxing it, so I’m just going to shut up about that now.

She’s also started smiling! And this is the part where I say it’s hard to believe she’s already a month old, I lament how fast she’s growing up, yadda yadda yadda. *sniffle*

* From here on out, I’m just going to refer to it as “my stupid gallbladder” because that’s exactly what it is. Stupid, stupid gallbladder.

gwen’s birth story

Miss Guinevere wasted little time in getting here once she decided she was on her way out. My water broke around 11:30 on Tuesday night, after I’d just dozed off (of course!) Unfortunately for our home birth plans, it was tinged with meconium (baby poop) and that meant a hospital transfer. Apparently home birth is just not in the cards for us! Our midwife came over and confirmed, so we made a few calls, updated Facebook (of course!), packed Ellie into the car (Tim’s family agreed to watch her at the hospital since they live in the area) and headed to Ellsworth.

Contractions really kicked in around 12:30 and I did not handle them with grace, to say the least. Due to the last-minute change in plans and the fact that I was over-tired and anxious about Gwen’s health, I was unimpressed with this whole labor/birth business, to put it mildly. I decided that since we were going to the hospital anyway, and since I wouldn’t be able to use the birth tub for pain control, I wasn’t going to be a natural-birthing heroine.

Read: I was grumpy and I wanted drugs. Stat.

The hospital admitted us around 1:30 a.m. and checked everything out. I was dilated to 3 cm. The nurse informed us I’d need to get to at least 5 cm before they would consider an intrathecal for pain, and I was NOT a happy camper.

I begged. I was loud. I swore. I bawled like a baby. I hated every single person in that room. Every time Tim looked into my eyes and said, “you’re doing a great job, love,” I wanted to punch him.

Evelyn, our doula, really earned her keep that morning. She encouraged me to stay upright so I’d progress faster. I kept telling her, “I don’t want to do this. I just need to get to 5. Just need to get to 5 so I can sleep.”

Around 4 a.m., I asked to be checked again and I was at 4 cm. Not good enough. The nurses suggested IV pain medication and at first I declined because I didn’t want to feel loopy or drugged… but after a particularly excruciating contraction, I changed my mind. Evelyn thought the meds might be just enough to take the edge off so I could rest and let my body do its thing. I relented and they gave me Stadol–in the nurse’s words, “It will feel like you’ve had a couple shots of tequila.” And she was right! It still hurt like a bitch, but I was able to give into the pain instead of fighting it. I snoozed a little in between contractions and they eased up a bit–probably because I wasn’t so tense.

Around 6 a.m. I started to feel pressure. The nurse was hesitant to check me again until the new OB came on, so I had to wait… entirely uncool, as the Stadol had worn off and I was still focused on getting that intrathecal. Eventually the nurse checked me and said, “I have good news and bad news! The bad news is you’re not getting your intrathecal. The good news is you’re almost at 10 and you’re going to have this baby very soon.”

I was… pissed. Haha! I still wanted the drugs, but everyone kept assuring me it would be over soon. I didn’t really believe them. I was not feeling very nice. 🙂

They rushed to get the new OB on the phone and she arrived around 7 a.m. Sure enough, I was almost at 10. They had me roll over on my side to help even things out, where I had what felt like the longest contraction in human history.

When they told me I could push, I wasted no time! It took about three pushes, total, over the course of a minute… it would have been less, but they had to keep reminding me to breathe. Annoying! I was not interested in breathing–I just wanted her OUT!

She was born at 7:29 a.m. posing like Superbaby, with one little hand above her head. They put her on my belly and she squawked briefly, then just looked at me, wide awake and alert. She stayed there all warm and cozy until after they stitched me up and Tim was able to cut the cord. Her APGAR scores were 9 and 9, the little overachiever. Thankfully there were no complications as a result of the meconium! I was so relieved–both that she was healthy and that it was over.

big sister, little sister

We’re settling in nicely, with many thanks to my mom for keeping house and entertaining Miss Ellie while we adjust to living on Newborn Time once again. So far life with two is not much different from life with one, just with a bit more creative juggling. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about that later!

of web geekery and other things

Oh, hey! Yes, I’m still pregnant. I passed my due date six days ago and it looks like I’m going to pass my original due date, which was… today! I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I am about that. I’m just telling myself all the extra waiting now means I’ll have a shorter labor than last time–although I think the odds are in my favor there, regardless.

Since the kiddo is in school and I’m on leave, I’ve been distracting myself with WordPress themes. I finally consolidated all the work I do with WordPress–personal, professional and otherwise–into one portfolio. I’ve been working on some new free themes, mostly as a way to teach myself some of the more advanced techniques in theme development. Plus I’m always looking for an excuse to design a new website. Some things never change!

I’ve also been tossing around some photo ideas. A coworker found a small, perfect bird’s nest on the ground and gave it to me a few weeks ago–she knows me too well! I can’t wait to play with it, and now that the university is back in session there are more potential models in the area. Fall is my favorite time of year for photos, so I’m hoping the new baby won’t totally drain me of all motivation. Even one good photo shoot would be an excellent way to wrap up this rather unproductive year.

Of course I would be a fountain of creative energy all of a sudden… right before I’m supposed to give birth and devote a substantial amount of time to mommyhood. Ahh, well. Maybe I’ll get lucky and finally strike the balance between daily life and creativity I’ve been seeking since… forever. A girl can dream!

crazy summer

What a crazy summer! When we do things here at casa de Moore, we do them big and we do them all at once. No screwing around.

Tim just picked up a fantastic job with Automattic, the company best known for WordPress and related deliciousness. It’s an amazing opportunity and we’re both a little in shock about the whole thing, in a good way. Tim loves the work he’s doing there, and so far he describes everyone he’s met as “the nicest people ever.” I’m so proud of him! And now whenever I have blog issues I have an official Automattician on hand to help. Win-win. 😉

Ellie started pre-school a couple weeks ago, and that transition is going well. The change of scenery hasn’t slowed her down. If anything, she’s on the go more than ever. I’m not sure what this “energy crisis” is everyone talks about, because energy sure isn’t a problem in our house, at least not for Ellie. Tim affectionately refers to her as “our little warlock”; we’re convinced she’s using some kind of Drain Life spell against us.

And then we’re waiting on baby #2 to make her grand entrance sometime in late August, which means I’m attempting to get all that work stuff and business stuff wrapped up. I would be perfectly happy if she decided to make her appearance earlier rather than later because truth be told, I am very tired of this pregnancy nonsense. Originally I said I’d try to soak up every last moment because there are no plans for more babies… this being our last, I wanted to be more sentimental about it. But right now I am overly hot, tired and uncomfortable and very much looking forward to meeting this kid.

Whose bright idea was it to have a late summer baby, anyway?

(Whenever I ask this question, Tim just glares at me and reminds me of all that whining I did back in October when I was convinced it would take us years to get pregnant again. Hah. Ahahahahaha. Baby fever makes me not so bright.)

I haven’t done much in the way of photos or illustration this summer, which is unfortunate (but not surprising.) Give me a few months postpartum and I’m sure that will change. Actually, I’m kind of bored with my current desktop background, so maybe that’s the motivation I need to doodle something today…

on girlyness and the joys of pregnancy

Easter Sunday fun

Ellie, helping us decorate eggs on Easter morning. (Actually, that’s only half true. She was very upset I put the stickers on the egg, and was doing everything in her power to take them off. In her eyes, stickers are only to be used on surfaces where I will later spend several hours scraping them off with a butter knife. Like the floor. Ahh, life with a two-year-old.)

Note the untamable cascade of hair I’ve come to refer to as “The Mane.” Miss Ellie’s hair is a wild combination of my natural waves and Tim’s curls, making for an unruly explosion of blonde atop her sweet head. I’ve yet to work up the nerve to cut it, so this is what we wake up to each morning:

The Mane

Thankfully Tim has somewhat mastered the art of putting in pigtails, making up for the fact that my girly-girl gene is defective. It took years before I successfully figured out how to put a ponytail in my own hair, let alone for a small child who wants nothing to do with sitting still for the ten minutes it would take me to figure it out. And don’t even get me started on braids. A public apology to my daughter(s):  Make friends with the girls who know how to do the hair and makeup thing, because your mama will be useless in this regard. Now, if you need someone to build you a kick-ass website or take a fantastic senior portrait, we can talk.

Random pregnancy complaint: Am I carrying this baby in my ASS? I am normally well-endowed in the junk-in-the-trunk department as it is, but I caught a glimpse of my profile in the mirror the other day and did a double-take. My butt has a bigger bump than my stomach. Ridiculous.

And while I’m on the subject of “all the ways my body betrays me during pregnancy,” is it too much to ask to go more than half an hour without needing to pee? There’s a well-worn path in the carpet between my office and the ladies’ room. I should just set up my desk in the toilet stall and call it good. With all the extra water I’m drinking, you’d think my skin would be pristine, but no. This morning I woke up to a small pepperoni pizza in the middle of my forehead. Gross.

Ahh, the bitching. We’re on day eleventy-billion of rain, rain, clouds and more rain. This solar-powered preggo is a wee bit grumpy!

it’s a girl!

baby gwen!

That’s right, we’re having another little girl! If our recent ultrasound was correct, she may be making her debut in August rather than September, which is just fine by me.

I’m feeling much better about this pregnancy than I was earlier. Just as I suspected, the combination of seeing a healthy baby on the ultrasound screen and the fresh spring weather cheered me right up. I can’t wait to dig through Ellie’s baby clothes and remember how tiny she used to be. I’m sure she’ll look like a giant when she’s standing next to her new baby sister.

Sisters. Sisters! I am equally elated and terrified of having two daughters. You’d think I’d have the home-team advantage, having once been a girl myself, but no, I think that actually serves to make me more worried. Tim, on the other hand, could not be more thrilled. I told him to wait twelve years and then we’ll see how he really feels about being surrounded by women. 😉

Ellie is about as excited as a two-year-old can be. She loves her new book, “I’m a Big Sister” by Joanna Cole (a gift from the Easter bunny–he’s a clever rabbit, that one) and occasionally she’ll ask about the baby in mama’s belly. It makes me smile to think that this baby will continue to grow listening to the muted soundtrack of her older sister’s singing, of our reading books together, and the silly conversations you can only have with a small person. Oh, and yes, a fair dose of Dora the Explorer. This baby will be well-versed in the ways of Dora if Ellie has anything to say about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if her first words are “Swiper, no swiping!”

How different from when Ellie was growing in there… her background music was Coldplay and the drone of me talking with my therapist, haha! Oh, how far we’ve come.

more moores!

Elspeth, 27 monthsIt’s been a while, but this time I actually have a good reason for the pause. We found out on Christmas that we’re expecting baby #2 in early September! Ellie’s future little brother or sister is due to make an appearance on Labor Day. The little bugger already has a sense of humor.

Suffice it to say, I spent most of the winter not wanting to do anything but sleep and letting El watch way too much TV (she thinks this pregnancy thing is just awesome, thank you very much!)

Despite not having had the same level of morning sickness (thank god) I’m way more exhausted than with my first. Coupled with the cold and snowy weather, I’ve become a strong proponent of human hibernation. People ask if I’m excited, and although I probably am on some level, I’m not awake enough to get there yet. I don’t remember feeling so emotionally drained with Ellie, but back then I didn’t have a toddler to attend to. Part of me can’t believe it’s gone by so fast, and another part of me wonders why gestating another human being has to take so damn long.

Pregnancy forces me inward, making it difficult to focus on anything else. It’s like all my available brain power goes to getting through the day, then baby thoughts, then… mush. All my internet projects have been neglected this winter, but oh well, I’ll get to them eventually. I’ve done absolutely nothing exciting over the last few weeks unless you count the crab roll I had for lunch last Saturday, and oh my god, that was perfection in every last bite. Even better that it didn’t threaten to come back up.

I’m hoping some slightly warmer weather will inspire me to get off my ass and find something else to do aside from gaze at my ever-expanding navel. Until then, I’m content to distract myself with Ugly Betty, season 2… and maybe another crab roll.

the birth story

perplexedSorry this is a bit late in coming–we’re still adjusting to the new routine.

Elspeth is just over two weeks old and just as sweet as ever. Her favorite things include eating, sleeping, bath time, making adorable facial expressions, and pontificating (rather loudly) about the relative discomfort of diaper changes.

As for me, I’m trying to master the art of Motherly Multitasking. Basically, do everything you’d normally do except with one addition–try to breastfeed your kid at the same time! Eating, sleeping, and checking e-mail all become complicated endeavors when you add a boob to the mix, but I’m sure I’ll be a pro by the end of January.

So here it is–the long, long birth story. Elspeth did not make her entrance into the world quickly or easily, but then I’ve always been one to do things the hard way… why would my daughter be any different?

Continue reading “the birth story”