February 22, 2012

The Day My Heart Grew

Disclaimer: This post is a bit wordy. You'll forgive the tiny details, won't you? It's not every day a gal has a baby, and I'm sure to forget all but the beautiful girl we brought home if I don't record it now.

Valentine's Day didn't quite turn out the way I'd pictured it, even hoping our daughter would be on her way to meet us February 14.

The evening before was ordinary as could be. I wrote this post and then took B on a variety of oh-so-exciting errands.

We swung by CVS (where we bought Nyquil, something that proved to be a poor call), Target, Academy Sports: a mish-mash of last minute activities designed to kill time, keep us busy and conquer a few lingering to do items.

My Everyday Valentine post was published around 6:00 pm; we left the house and returned around 8:15.

We were scheduled, for a few reasons, to be induced at 6:00 am, so I texted a friend to find out how late I could eat and drink beforehand. (Typical Anne concern.)

At 8:30 I made Bradley take two Nyquil, which wouldn't make me bat an eyelash but knocks him out for days. Neither of us had slept more than four hours the night before and, despite just finishing a round of antibiotics, he still had cough and cold symptoms bad enough to keep him up again.

At 9:00 I was tweeting with friends to keep myself virtual company while B prepared to hibernate. (So glad social media helped me track down the missing pieces of this night! Interesting to see what mindless chatter I engaged in just hours before things got nuts.)

Not fifteen minutes later I started to feel contractions. These were more than Braxton Hicks, but I'd had false labor before and noted how irregular the timing was. I chalked it up to my body "practicing" and hoped it would make our induction as smooth as Mac's.

By 10:00 I was seriously, truly uncomfortable. I took a hot shower, asked B to pray I could get some sleep (how he could do this with only half of his Nyquil-addled brain operating I don't know) and tried to picture things that made me happy.

Mac was with his grandparents or I'd have crawled in for a stolen snuggle. Instead, I watched all the Mac videos on my iPhone and tried to picture his sweet, chubby cheeks every time I felt ready to throw in the towel with these painful-but-clearly-not-real-labor contractions.

By 11:00 I was starting to panic. I had the shakes in a big way, another sign I missed. I tried timing my contractions but, being the dunce I am, couldn't figure out if I should measure them from the start of one to the start of the next or the end of one to the start of the next.

Regardless, they were all over the map. Nine minutes, seven minutes, two minutes, eight minutes, three minutes. All painful but none lining up as the literature says. The labor signs flyer our OB hands out is very clear. No need to call the doctor - just come to the hospital when you have regular contractions X minutes apart. And I didn't have that.

I knew enough to know that contractions two minutes apart would have to mean a baby was just moments from arriving...and clearly mine wasn't. Yet another reason I just knew my body was making me crazy for no reason.

I had woken Bradley to help with the "timing" of these painful things, but the poor boy kept dozing off in between rounds and just couldn't keep up. At 11:45 I decided we had to go in to the hospital; they had to make this pain stop so I could manage a few hours' sleep before delivery.

I really wanted to call and ask someone what to do, but between Bradley's inability to stay awake and my inability to speak during my constant (and way too long) contractions, that didn't seem possible.

Once we decided to go in, I attempted to dry my hair, which was a ridiculous comedy of errors. I couldn't walk to the bathroom, so B brought it to the bed. I couldn't manage it there, so I just decided to throw in the towel. Instead, I grabbed my makeup bag to apply concealer and blush en route. Priorities, people.

In all seriousness, the distraction of applying mascara (shaking hands and all) during our drive kept me from counting every last pothole we ran over during our eight minutes in the car. Come on, city of Greenville, get it together. You nearly killed me!

I was also grateful for the superficial preparations I'd made over the weekend - a manicure and pedicure, applying a pregnancy-safe self tanner, packing cute pajamas for after the big event. It's amazing what keeps your mind busy in times like this.

By the time we got to the hospital, we were the stereotypical "couple in labor" from every sitcom you've ever watched. B dropped me at the door while he parked (because the Labor & Delivery lot was closed for the night?!?) and I could tell from the look on the security guard's face that he didn't know "nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies."

I could barely walk, so B parked and caught up to me without a challenge. We hopped (hardly!) on the elevator and had to hang out, screaming elevator alarm and all, through a contraction until I could move the two feet required to shut the stupid thing up.

I also had to breathe huff through one immediately after stepping off said elevator, just in front of a group of gaping, giggling, gasping teenagers who had found some absurd reason to be on the baby floor at such an hour. All looking straight at me. If only I'd had the energy or breath to make a witty-slash-let-this-be-birth-control-for-all-of-you remark in that moment.

B offered me a wheelchair, which I steadfastly refused, but when a nurse came running at us with one of her own, I exhaled in gratitude and took it gladly. Poor, chivalrous, ignored Bradley!

By the time we got to the nurses' desk, I had trouble holding still, answering questions, looking at paperwork - doing anything at all. I did manage, however, to tell them I didn't want to talk because I don't like to cry in front of people I don't know.

Seriously, y'all, the one-liners continued all night. Including asking the doctor if they had any wine available or if anyone wanted to trade places, because "this" wasn't nearly as fun as it must look. Laughing when I could catch a breath was my only coping mechanism.

The sweet nurses fully appreciated the Boden maternity tunic and leggings I was sporting, as well as the silver flats, pearl studs and lip gloss that made me feel like it wasn't after midnight and I wasn't losing my mind. (Or having a baby at any moment.)

And then they were all gone - every accoutrement. Just a hospital gown and baby time. Eep.

We wheeled up at 12:45, were out of triage and in a delivery room just after 1:00 and met our daughter at 2:03 am. No time for an epidural* and no turning back.

I couldn't figure out why our OB was 'hanging out' and wouldn't leave our room even for the necessary prep work. Turns out he saw the writing on the wall, friends, and it said, "This baby is practically here already. No one move an inch."

Holy stupidity, y'all. I waited way too long to go to the hospital. Blame genuine ignorance, a firstborn tendency to follow the rules, plain stubbornness and a healthy dose of Nyquil.

Bottom line: We have a healthy, beautiful, dark-haired baby girl who makes us wonder what we ever did without her.

I spent months wondering how I could love a girl the way I love Mac. How I could love any child the way I love our first. How he'd react, how I'd split my affections, how I'd ever manage to catch on to the concept of having more than one tiny human in my heart.

Here's the beauty of it: The minute I met her, I just did. I was still shaking so badly I asked Bradley to hold her for the first hour of her life, close enough so I could gawk. My heart grew three sizes that night, and it's still growing.

Valentine's Day this year was filled with the most love of any day of my life. My parents raced up the interstate to meet their grandgirl within 90 minutes of her debut. My son met my daughter by lunch.

And just after 2:00 am, my husband fell in love with another girl before my very eyes; I did nothing but melt alongside him.

There were a few tough hours that night, but every minute since has been surprisingly easier than I'd expected. Recovery, our stay at the hospital, the initial adjustment, the swallowing my pride to accept (lots of!) help, all of it.

We have been given a beautiful, healthy little girl and I lived to tell the tale of the wildest Valentine's Day Bradley and I have shared to date.

I've already forgotten the pain, but I'll never forget that night. What a miracle!

Meet our Mary Brooks, the source of all things tiny and pink in the Smith house. We're smitten.

*Remind me to tell you the story of the anesthesiologist who put both a needle and a tube in my spine before taking them out, telling me nothing would help me at this point, then congratulating me (umm? no baby yet, sir!) and telling me I'd "do great." Hmph.

Without the labwork and waiting required to get an epidural, this bundle of pink could have arrived a full thirty minutes sooner. Can you imagine?

Evidently, after being told I'd get no medicinal assistance this go round (I had 15 minutes of an epidural before Mac was born), I informed the doctor I'd need a moment to "rally the troops."

It took a few minutes of breathing through contractions, as well as encouragement from our OB and the most fabulous nurses God ever created, to pump me up enough to fly solo. You'd better believe my heartfelt thank you notes to each of them are in the mail - literally.

February 21, 2012

Valentine's Day Surprise

It's odd to write that this sweet face was a surprise, given that we'd known or hoped she'd be a Valentine's Day baby, but she was a shock surprise all the same.

Last Monday was the craziest night of my life. Can't wait to fill y'all in later!

Long story short - she's here and we're over the moon.

Owly Images

February 13, 2012

My Everyday Valentine

In the ten or so years I've known Bradley Smith, I've gone from admiring him at a distance to knowing him better than anyone else - and I still find things to be impressed by in him. As Mary Poppins would say, the boy is "practically perfect in every way."

Our first years as friends were spent mostly on back decks and side porches, eating, drinking, laughing, talking, watching Clemson football and occasionally testing his turn-out ability when I felt discouraged after a particularly embarrassing grad school ballet class.

There were also a few hellos exchanged in underground computer labs or as we passed each other on campus, but nothing that changed our lives.

Looking back, there were a million times Bradley and I could have gotten together. And even more opportunities for us never to have paired up. My goodness am I thankful there's a bigger plan at work...

When I met him, B and I were both college students. Oddly, we have no memory of first meeting; as best we can tell it was late 2001 or early 2002.

(I'd like to think angels sang and the Earth stood still when he first laid eyes upon me, but evidently that's not the case. Or he's just too embarrassed to tell me. Let's go with that explanation.)

I remember him in the background now and then - always friendly, always funny, always there. He says I was wearing a white t-shirt the first time he saw me; he may or may not be making this up, but it doesn't narrow things down either way.

Flash forward a few years and we were in Columbia for work and grad school, respectively. He was still friendly, adorable, quietly hilarious and absolutely date-worthy, so I did what any girl in her right mind would do: I set him up with someone else.

Say what? Yes, I know. We spent our first Valentine's Day together on opposite sides of the table on a double date with other people. What a different story I'd be telling today had either of those relationships worked out.

2005, via a disposable underwater camera because I'm classy like that

A year later we dined on Valentine's 2005 as friends who did so much together - movies, church, house hunting, tailgate prep, weekend cookouts, dog walking, inside joking and story swapping.

We were friends. Really good, oblivious friends. (Except I was madly in love with him, but that's another story for another day.) Whatever the circumstances, he paid for my dinner that Valentine's Day and didn't roll his eyes when I ordered dessert. Better than any first date I've ever had!

In 2006, by the time we got the memo everyone else had seen for some time, the future Smiths had our first "official" Valentine's Day and became engaged nine months later.

By Valentine's Day 2007 we had each moved to Greenville and started new jobs. We were busy planning a summer wedding and picking out things for the house Bradley had purchased.

In 2008 we enjoyed our first married Valentine's Day. I got an iPod that now plays white noise ("ocean music") in Mac's room - clearly a great choice on Bradley's behalf even if it is used for a slightly unforeseen purpose.


The week of Valentine's Day 2009, Bradley came down with the flu and I was prescribed medicine to ward it off. Before taking it, the pharmacist and doctor each recommended that I take a pregnancy test to be certain it was safe to take the drug preventatively.

Knowing I was not pregnant, I joked about it to my mom as I rang up the $752 digital test. Sure enough, Cupid brought us a "positive" on that little stick. (After an "error" on the first one. Who knew there was a wrong way to pee on a plastic wand?)

Cupid brought me some candy too, but the excitement of the big baby news lasted a little longer. Bradley's fever left him only a few hazy memories of the occasion, but it was quite a lot to celebrate.


We celebrated Valentine's Day 2010 having just given my two weeks' notice. There was a lot of excitement, uncertainty and relief in our house that year. And no bigger "push present" than more time with our Mac and the chance to try out a new life.

For Valentine's Day 2011, Bradley attended a work conference that was (luckily) located right downtown. The great news? He got to eat at a swanky restaurant filled with googly-eyed couples for free. The bad news? It wasn't with me. I got take-out Chick-fil-A and watched chick flicks 'til he made it home just before midnight.

A few days after Valentine's 2011, we got an offer on our house and life moved into a tailspin. We're only now feeling truly settled, and not a moment too soon!

This year our Valentine's Day will be a bit different than any other, though (hospital food court) Chick-fil-A might still come into the equation.

All signs point to our sweet girl being a little valentine. Her dad and I couldn't be more excited (or nervous or in awe) to celebrate Valentine's Day 2012 this way. It will be a holiday to remember, no doubt.

And considering B has never been a fan of Cupid, I'm guessing this is a pink heart celebration he can finally get behind - the kind that even he won't object to.

I'm so thankful for an acquaintance who became a buddy, a friend who become my closest confidante and a boyfriend who became the best husband and father I could dream up on a good night.

Happy early Valentine's Day to the guy I love to sun myself next to on the rare occasions we make it to the beach, the guy who gets "bounced on" by our 40-pounder until there must be bruises on his chest, the guy who has cooked meals and bought treats and generally been unstoppably awesome throughout these last crucial weeks of pregnancy.

Thank you for making Valentine's Day such a non-event. (Stay with me here.) Thank you for putting little effort into showing off on February 14th each year and a lot of time and intention into being a tremendous friend, husband and all-around fantastic person every day in between.

One day I'll be as good an everyday Valentine as you, B. Until then, I think a baby girl is a pretty darn good gift to give you - so that'll be my goal.

February 7, 2012

Natural versus "Natural" Beauty

Below please see exhibit A in the case against excessive Botox.

On the left, Rachel McAdams, age 33. On the right, Nicole Kidman, age 44.

Pics via People.

Rachel's skin seems to be looser and (dare I say it) even a touch more, um, lived in than Nicole's.

Mrs. Kidman's forehead is drawn tighter than a drum and I shudder to think of the headaches she gets if she pulls her ponytails back a bit too snugly. (Snuggly? Snug-ly? Whatever...you know what I mean.)

I, like many of us, am completely enamored of Rachel McAdams. I want to be her, something that remains unchanged since my first glimpse of The Notebook so long ago. Considering I cried my way through two-thirds of the film, it's a wonder I saw enough of her to find her so endearing.

Just before Mac was born, her (not so fabulous) film The Time Traveler's Wife was my last movie date with B. And if we're still waiting on this baby a week from now, I wouldn't mind checking out The Vow just to see the movie Rachel's worked so hard to promote lately.

But I digress....

Bottom line: Sunscreen, moisturizer and a few preventative measures I can live with, but denying Botox all the livelong day while bouncing coins off the third of your face that lives above your eyebrows? I'm not down with that.

And there you have it, friends, my weighty thoughts of the day. Back to contemplating world peace now.

February 6, 2012

Still Standing

Prologue: I am finally finishing up a few of January's posts that have been lingering, hence the backdated posts below this one. I promise I'm alive!

This baby girl and I are 38 weeks along today - and we're all a quarter of the way through (the very short month of) February. Wow.

As of Thursday, I'll be more pregnant than I've ever been. I realize that's not saying much, as my 7 pound, 10 ounce bundle of boy spoiled me a bit by coming twelve days early. Spoiled might be a stretch, considering the bed rest at the end, but it was still nice to wrap up the "all horizontal, all the time" portion of the program early.

In a way I'm relieved to have no real signs of her upcoming debut, because there's a lot to get done. I can only be pregnant two or three more weeks, right? I can hang!

We've had a few of the same concerns as we did with Mac, mainly my blood pressure, but I doubt it would be taken so seriously if I didn't have that history. In other words, they're noting it but not doing anything about it. And it's fine by me.

Thursday we get a sneak peek of our girl to check her size just in case we have to induce again if things go south. To me, this seems like the only way to guarantee things go beautifully and she stays comfy past her due date. Murphy's Law or something, right?

(The day Mac was born I was showing all the classic signs of pre-eclampsia and was sent directly to be induced. Thankfully, he was already on his way and probably would have been born the very next morning without much help. What a happy ending!)

The rest of the week will be spent snuggling with Mac, reading a million beloved board books, making peanut butter sandwiches by the dozen (is that all toddlers eat?), appreciating full nights of sleep, wrapping up a long work to do list and planning as best I can what the coming weeks will look like.

The upside of working from home is being able to do all of the above and squeezing in some adult time, even if I'm wearing yoga pants while I do it. The downside will undoubtedly be figuring out a maternity "leave" for myself while still trying to get work done during business (read: not 2am feeding) hours.

Thank you for your prayers and tweets and sweet thoughts! Whenever she decides to get here, I promise to let you know...



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