Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Baby Story - 39 weeks - Induction

     Today we are officially 39 weeks and 1 day along in this pregnancy.  Last week, the doctor had mentioned that she could not schedule an induction on my actual due date, the 19th, but any other day that week was fine. She was ready to get that baby out! I told her I was ready and anytime after final exam week was perfect for us. We didn't narrow down anything specific and she sent me on my way, promising to check the hospital's schedule to see what would work best.
     This past Tuesday, I went in for my very last prenatal appointment, and after she had checked his heart rate, measured my belly with the tape, and checked my cervix (about 3 cm dilated), she said, "Ok so you've been pregnant your last Monday! How does that feel? Do you have any questions for me about next week?"
     "Um...go over everything with me..."
     "I've got you coming in at 4 am, we'll start your IV and you can go back to sleep -- teasing! As if you could do that! Then I'll come in sometime between 7 and 8 to break your water and we'll have a baby that afternoon." At this point I'm starting to freak out a little bit. Without really requesting it, I had scored myself an appointment to be induced THIS MONDAY. Our baby boy will be here on the 17th whether he likes it or not!
     So I said, with ultrasound goo on my belly and my feet in stirrups, "Are you sure he's ready?"
     "Of course! You've got a wonderful cervix," Um...thank you? "I don't recommend a 39 week induction to just everybody, but your body is so favorable and everything has been progressing so smoothly. You'll be two days away from your due date, so baby's lungs and brain will be fully developed and ready for the world. At this point, you fall in a category with less than 10% chance of anything going differently than what we have planned. I can't guarantee that you won't fall in that 10%, but I'm willing to recommend we take this route. We may get there and he's just too big and we have to go another route, but I'm prepared for that. I'm ready, you're ready, he's ready. Let's do it!"
     I was starting to feel better about this with every word, so I asked, "I've heard from some people that induction and Pitocin will stress the baby out and cause problems."
     "Not any more than natural labor is going to do. Once we get in there and break that water, baby has less of a protective barrier cushioning him from the contractions. Things will get more intense then, but if he was going to have problems, he would start having them either way. Sometimes we see a drop in heart rate or the placenta can't provide enough oxygen, and that's when I'd have to intervene with a c-section, but those are things than can and do happen to many people with a natural, non-induced labor. I've monitored contractions with Pitocin and without, and Pitocin isn't always the cause of baby's stress."
     I really started to get excited then. I have been in so much pain for the last few weeks with contractions, softening hips and pelvis, baby sitting on my nerves, feet in my ribs, and 32 extra pounds on the front of my body. I'm finally going to be done and I finally get to see my baby boy! As I left the office, it gave me such great joy to tell the familiar receptionist, I don't need an appointment for next week. We're having a baby! I sent Dillon a text (he was at work), called my mom, texted my in-laws, and updated Facebook.
     Since then, we have each taken four exams; cleaned out both cars; done our last grocery shopping; done most of our laundry; packed Mommy's hospital bag; installed the car seat base in Daddy's truck; spent the last $30 on our University Dining Dollar ticket on 24 cans of soda, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, bacon, Doritos, and a Snicker's bar; returned our rented books and received $7 for two books we had bought (a ridiculous rip-off as usual); paid a parking ticket hours before the fine doubled for late-payment; made arrangements for our parents to stay in a few of the executive suites at our apartment complex; and I've been working diligently to clean the house.

     On December 17, 2012 I will officially be a Mommy and I couldn't be happier. I know everyone is so ready to meet this baby boy and start a new adventure as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, or 'family' member. It's almost time, Roman Keith! You're about to receive more love than you know what to do with!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This Is My Confession: Part 5

Wedding Planning Continued...
Dillon chose his long-time friend Tim Ellen as his best man, and I banged my head against the wall trying to choose a bridesmaid. In the movies, I would automatically have three best girlfriends and we would do everything together and you would call me Carrie Bradshaw. However, I had a history of ‘girl issues’, I do everything with Dillon, and I don’t have my face printed on the side of any buses so I must not be Carrie Bradshaw. Until recently, I struggled with hanging out with other girls because of a serious superiority complex. Chi Alpha has taught me what sisterhood really is and has given me some lifelong friends whom I know I can always count on. They are my prayer warriors and my audience, depending on what I need that day. Living in community with some of these girls has taught me how important transparence and vulnerability is among true friends. Most of the people I am closest to now I had known for less than a year at the time of wedding planning, and many of them live too far away to really help me plan anything. It just seemed like no one’s life corresponded with mine this summer! After fighting with myself and with Dillon over who I should choose, and deciding I was going to buy a bridesmaid mannequin to stand next to me at the wedding, a thought occurred to me. Bridesmaid doesn’t have to be a girl...ya know? Step aside typical folks, there’s a rebel with a Man of Honor coming through.
I chose Travis Finch as my man of honor and his mom took over the responsibility of co-hosting a shower, since he would have felt totally awkward doing so. He was there in spirit, and in gift, as he sent me an owl-shaped vase for my apartment. An atypical gift for an atypical friendship!

The rest of my wedding planning contained just as much stress over choices, but none that seemed to be as hard as picking someone to stand next to me while I said my vows. We began the hunt for a wedding dress. We exhausted all of the consignment shops in Paragould and Jonesboro, scouring for a deal since we do have a little human to save money for, and found exactly 2 appropriate dresses. One was too small and one was just not me, so the search continued. David’s Bridal in Memphis was a total bust due to a rude worker who wrote us off because we weren’t going to be her big sale of the day, so we made our way back to Bay and hit up Jessica’s Bridal and Formal. Here is where the magic happened. The dress I had been looking for was here, with a price tag that for many would have seemed normal or even low, but like I said...little Aunt Debbie paid for the excess cost, and I started to feel like this wedding was going to be worthwhile after all.
           The dress was empire waist in order to flow over my tiny belly. Little did I know just how valuable this empire waist was until we had to cut out the inner lining on my wedding day because I had grown so much since the last fitting! It’s the little ‘disasters’ like this that make for great stories.

Tossing the bouquet to some of the girls.
Dillon's sister Brooklyn (16) who caught the bouquet. Daddy said, "No, she's not next!"

This Is My Confession: Part 4

The Proposal

We had our pastor, but there was just one problem-- I still didn’t have a ring. I completely acknowledge that a lot of the spending for this wedding was frivolous and unneeded, but a ring was NOT part of this frivolity. I needed a ring, not just to fight off the throngs of boys chasing my chubby pregnant self (haha), but to feel special about. I wanted to look at my ring and think of our promises, our love, our commitment, and our future. I told Dillon not to spend much, to choose something simple, and to not get one that only had a tiny cluster of diamonds. I wanted at least one good sized stone, so he picked out the most beautiful little ring and I anticipated the moment when he would give it to me. Again, my fantasy was far greater than my reality, so I cried before the proposal even happened because I knew it just couldn’t stand up to what was in my head. I wanted him to have prepared a little piece of paper with something to say. I wanted a walk along the water and romance so good it belonged in a Nicholas Sparks book. I was trying to pin my dreams on top of a man who already had everything I ever needed and wanted. I was doing him a disservice by expecting something too over the top. In the end, I found him standing on my aunt and uncle’s back deck, overlooking a serene lake. He sat me down on a porch swing, knelt beside me and held out his ring. In that moment I just wanted to sew us together so he would never be away from my side. There were tears in his beautiful blue eyes and he was shaking from nerves. He told me he would love me forever and said Will you marry me? Be still my heart, he was just so adorable! I didn’t even look at the ring, I just hugged him and kissed him until I felt like we could speak again. Then, I slipped the ring onto my little size 4 1/2 finger and dazzled at how well he had done. The ring was perfect for me--just like he is. My overwhelming happiness told me that our moment had enough magic of its own without all of my fantasies getting in the way.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Baby Story

I'm starting this new series of blogs about 9 months late! As you all know, we are expecting Roman Keith Alexander on/around December 19, 2012. As it turns out, he has a pretty high chance of coming earlier than that, which could pose a problem for dear old Mom and Dad because we are still taking classes until December 14. The last week of school is of course, finals week, so things are getting a little tense in the Alexander household.
What if he comes on time and all of this worry was unnecessary?
What if he comes during finals?
What if we arrange to take our finals early and he comes during the time we scheduled?
What if he comes before we make any arrangements and we are unable to takes the exams?
What if he comes super early and I'm able to recover before finals week and go back just for the exams?
What if super early means he spends time in the NICU?
Can Mommy's hips handle this pressure for 3.5 more weeks?
Is this gut feeling that I'm ready accurate, or is it just wishful thinking?

I say all of this because on Tuesday (11/20 : 36 weeks), I was dilated 2 centimeters and my cervix was 80% effaced. While all of the doctors and books will tell you that you can hang out in this range for a few weeks without worry, I know that contractions are what dilate you further and I've been having some contractions combined with intense cervical pressure over the past few days. We were timing them 14 minutes apart last night actually. I've really had an awesome pregnancy, but I've just gotten to the point where I'm ready to shed the 32+ lbs I've gained since May and meet my baby boy! I can barely walk when I get up at night because my hips are softening in preparation for labor and I've been nesting like crazy. Seems like it's time!

With all of these blog posts out there about what to bring to the hospital, I thought I'd share with you guys how I'm getting ready for the big day.

What to pack in you & your husband's overnight bag:
1. Travel sized goodies -- body wash, shampoo, deoderant, face wash, toothpaste
2. Grooming essentials -- toothbrushes, hairbrush, chapstick, gum, Germ-X, lotion, curling/styling mousse
3. Small bag of make-up with just the basics -- foundation, mascara, & blush -- some might say this is unnecessary, but I decided I didn't want to look like the walking dead in all of those precious first pictures.
4. Slippers/Flip Flops & Robe -- I personally refuse to be barefoot with my butt hanging out while I pace the halls during labor.
5. Pillow from home -- for a touch of home, nursing, or for Daddy to make his cot/armchair more comfortable 
6. Going home outfits -- sweats for me, comfy clothes for Daddy at night and a change of clothes for daytime.
7. Thank You card for the nursing staff who will do so much for us. I know a card doesn't suffice as a thank you to the lady who watches to make sure you can pee before you go home or brings you the 15th cup of ice chips, but I bet more often than not, people don't acknowledge how much the staff does for them and a card is enough to let them know you value their service.

What to pack for baby:
1. Going home outfit -- I haven't committed to any particular outfit yet because I refuse to wash something that will be too small. The verdict is still out on how big he will be. Pictured below is just an example.
2. Minky blanket
3. Hat and scratch mittens
4. Car seat -- With the base properly installed in the vehicle and straps adjusted for the bittiest baby. We may or may not have practiced strapping the stuffed animals in...

I know the hospital will have diapers (I've been told they use Pampers Snugglers), wipes, soothers/pacifiers, nasal aspirators, and will wrap him up all snug and warm after his bath. No need to bring the things the hospital provides! If you're reading this in preparation for your little one, remember that most people are there for 24 hours. You don't have to pack the whole nursery.

The Nitty Gritty (Not a list for the faint at heart):
You may need these items during or after your hospital stay. I've prebought these little goodies.
1. Maxi pads
2. Tucks wipes (witch hazel wipes)
3. Charmin flushable wipes
4. A cheap 5 pack of underwear that you won't mind trashing later
5. Lanisoh nipple cream

Saturday, October 27, 2012

This is My Confession: Part 3

We quickly had to do some wedding planning. We wanted everything to be as intimate and personal as possible, as well as cost as little as possible. After the bride and the groom, what is the next, most vital player in this marriage game? The officiant; he or she who would make our union legal.
When it came to choosing an officiant, we didn’t think either of our preachers were exactly right. As it goes in the Methodist church, appointments are made by a council and pastors move here, there, and yonder. The pastor at my church at the time was a great, loving man named Bill Leslie, who has since passed away. While I consider him a great Christian, he just wasn’t right for the job because I didn’t know him very well at the time, so we asked him to give us marriage counselling instead. Dillon’s preacher, while perfect for him, was imperfect for me. His church just so happened to be a denomination that I have had some issue with for the past five-or-so years. (I hold grudges. Yep...I said it.) Both of these pastors also hailed from towns that were roughly three hours from our wedding location, and we wanted someone to marry us who had experience with each of us equally. All of these factors lead us to choose Matt Carpenter (aka Carp), the head pastor from Chi Alpha.
(Ok, I can’t contain it. I have to talk religion!)
Although it sounds like a fraternity, it’s not. Chi Alpha is actually a campus ministry that Dillon and I had clung to during freshman year. Here, I found answers to my questions, connections where I had once been void, and friendships that kept me from continuing down the path of sheer destruction I had been on just a year ago.(drugs, danger, bad friendships, bad relationships, and an utter disdain for authority of any kind--especially a spiritual authority). Before Chi Alpha, I hated church and I was unsatisfied with most Christians. God seemed like a scapegoat for people to blame their problems on (This is my cross to bear... You know you’ve heard this, probably even said it a time or two!) or a ‘person’ they expected to fix things when they messed them up. Worship was just a show, sermons were something I critiqued, and my unanswered questions far outweighed my actual beliefs. I was raised Church of Christ (don’t worry, I won’t talk that much religion), then converted Methodist, but I found myself telling people that I really didn’t believe in anything. I wasn’t one of those people who thought “there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing, and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.” (credits to: Pinterest)

 I just didn’t care to believe in nothings or somethings or whos’ or what’s or when-where-why’s. Dillon knew this from day one, and honestly when he told me he was Church of Christ, I almost bolted, but for some reason I stayed. Must have been those blue eyes.
Dillon took me to Chi Alpha, and shhhh...I liked it! It was cool. Some of the songs were like ten minutes long, which was crazy weird, but overall it was cool. I wanted to come back next week. I wanted to join a d-group! On the outside, though, I casually shrugged.
It was a’ite. Not too bad. And then I stuck my d-group info card in someone’s hand and walked off before I could change my mind. After a few weeks of struggling to find the right d-group, I was introduced to someone whose importance is pretty great. She was one of my d-group leaders then and is my co-leader now. I sat on her couch and listened to her talk about how she had once been like me in nearly every way. I saw straight into her past and thought Holy %$#@. I had to smoke a cigarette in my car just to get the nerve to walk into this girl’s apartment because I was afraid this would be a big bunch of girls I couldn’t get along with, but here’s a girl who has done everything I’ve done and is sitting here admitting it. Woo freaking hoo! I found so many other sisters through Chi Alpha as well, which is a great feat for me as the self-proclaimed girl-hater. Hearing girls say, I will fight for you, means everything to me.
Even though I finally found something worth believing in, and a place where I can worship without being the holy terror of all critics, I’m still not your poster child for perfect Christianity. Dillon and I still got pregnant, and I don’t always cover my curse words with random keyboard symbols--sometimes I just say them, and if I wouldn’t have been pregnant this summer the temptation to slip back into some of those old habits might have won. All of that is ok. Don’t believe me? Try finding the verse that says: Blessed are those who are perfect, for they will go to Heaven while everyone else rots. You won’t find it. Promise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This is My Confession : Part 2

I had known for months that I would marry Dillon, I just wasn’t prepared to do so this summer. He confessed to me something so sweet, tears came to my little eyes--he had planned on proposing to me on the beach this summer and marrying me later on in college when we could afford it. That would have been my fantasy--a surprise proposal on the beach at sunset with no one else around (except for the photographer hiding in the sea grass to catch my actual reaction). Instead of my romantic dream, the surprise was gone, the extended engagement was gone, and the reality of it all set in like a bucket of cold water dumped over my head. I wasn’t getting a well planned, down on one knee moment that I would regale forever. We were sitting down with a pen and paper making pro/con lists. We were budgeting. I hadn’t even celebrated! Heck, I didn’t even have a ring!
The fact that the magic was stripped from something I had so long since dreamed of really broke me down on several occasions. I’ll be honest with you, I felt like I had cheated myself out of something. I had traded one dream for another when I had intended to get both. Our plan was a small wedding with our immediate families and a preacher, but as planning progressed, there were friends we just couldn’t turn away, and an actual wedding looked like it was in the works.
To any of you who have also planned an entire wedding in three months, we deserve a huge round of applause for maintaining our sanity. Sure, there are tons of people who contribute to the planning, but when the final say comes down to one person; one bride--YOU--the stress can be ridiculous. I found myself crying at night, wondering whether I had made the right decision. I knew I wanted to stay with Dillon, that was never a question, but for even the loviest of love birds, making the commitment of marriage is trying. I think just about every married couple will tell you that the engagement period brought fights that nearly always escalated from What do you mean you don’t care what color the boutonnieres are? to You don’t even care about this wedding at all! If you are looking for someone to exaggerate everything, randomly have an emotional breakdown, or accuse you of something, call a pregnant woman planning a wedding. I’m sure I could have been featured in my own reality show. True Life: I’m Planning a Wedding in My Second Trimester. Even the mother of all Pinterest boards couldn’t save me from my own crazy hormones while planning this wedding.
Moral of the story here: While we are very much in love and have a desire to be married, the rush was extremely trying. Feel free to leave a comment about your engagement period!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This Is My Confession : Part 1


This Is My Confession : Part 1

One of many backstories

To begin, I will tell you our love story so that you can begin to know who we are. Dillon and I met on a very hot August day in 2011. It was the week before school started and we had both moved into our dorm at the University of Central Arkansas. Every year the campus hosts a dorm competition which includes typical field day activities and lots of sweating. Our team’s color just happened to be black--go figure. He and his three best friends had placed duct tape numbers on the back of their black team t-shirts. Dillon’s number was peeling off, and as a motherly type who can’t stand to see your tag untucked or your shirt sleeve rolled up, I fixed his numbers. When he turned around, something about those blue eyes got me talking and we hung out for the remainder of the competition. The next day we met up again, attended a pep rally (although I have no school spirit and couldn’t care less) and hung out in his room for the rest of the day. We have been inseparable since.
From me taking care of him while he threw up; to him force feeding me Theraflu when I was a sick whiny baby; to me driving him to the airport at Thanksgiving and clinging to him, crying when he tried to go through the gates, I knew we were going to make it. I knew we were in love. He took care of me like no one other than my Daddy ever had. He got mad when I opened my own doors and would do anything to see me smile. For the first time in my life, I was face to face with someone whose presence was so vital to my happiness. I poured out to him all of my secrets--my failures, my pains, my insecurities--and without a doubt, he held me closer with every word.
We made it through so many hardships that first year. From fights with friends and moving out of his dorm, to rough weeks with roommates, to life changes and soul searching; we fought through. The control freak in me hated dorm life with a fiery passion. The cautious side of me held back from people when it seemed like hurt was inevitable. Dillon is the opposite of me in several regards because he trusts more willingly than I do, he makes the best of ungodly circumstances, and he doesn’t complain as much as I do. There were times when I said to myself, If it wasn’t for Dillon, I would move back home. To those of you who know how rebellious and independent I am, and how much I detest my hometown, you know this is a huge statement. In retrospect, I know that God gives you people to hold you through the hard times.
In April 2012, just a few days before my 19th birthday, our lives changed in an irreversible way when two pink lines appeared on a home pregnancy test. We cried, we hyperventilated, we cried some more, but we promised to love one another no matter what happened. The next day we sat in the UCA clinic awaiting the results of a better urine test that came back “definitely positive.” We called our parents (and cried some more) and then we told a few of our very closest friends. Disappointment rung in the voices and eyes of several people, but I never stopped feeling like we were loved, and as the baby grew inside me, the love from others grew as well.
At eight weeks we met our wonderful doctor, Dr. Lawrence, and together we saw the little miracle we had created. No bigger than a raspberry, our baby resembled a Teddy Graham more than an actual human, but the heartbeat was clear and quick and we loved that little Teddy Graham with all of our hearts.
The day of our first doctor’s visit, we went our separate ways. I returned home to Paragould, Dillon made the drive to Norphlet, and the hardest summer of my life began. We both had jobs--I was an intern at Flower Shop Network, blogging, researching, and learning about the world of marketing. Dillon provided maintenance for his parent’s oil fields and spent five days a week in the hot summer sun. My hormones were raging, I was sick for weeks, exhausted for months, and I needed my favorite person to hold me and tell me it was all ok. I had to battle morning sickness, adjust to living with my family again, accept the fact that I didn’t know how to socialize as a single person anymore, and oh yeah...plan a wedding!