Flying Shoes and Falling Down

Today was a rough day. I broke the cardinal rule of out-of-town husband on a no-camp week: I had no plans for day. Why you ask would this be a problem? Well, it just makes for a long cluster of a day. And indeed it was that.

We hit the Herndon Farmer's Market this morning where I ran into a fellow DC Metro Mom blogger. That was fun. My son was relentless about seeing the nearby red caboose. I promised to hook him up just as soon as I picked up a few more veggies. We'd only clocked about 10 minutes there so I didn't feel it was too much of a burden to walk around and look at food. They even got samples! But while inspecting some tomato candidates for take home, my son--who was not giving up--pull my arm in such a way that he actually pulled me down almost on top of him. I tripped and had to catch myself before smooshing Alex. As a result, I twisted my ankle. We promptly left.

Then not less than an hour later, I was directly on the side of my face with a Croc. My kids have taken a liking to throwing their lightweight, or sometimes not so lightweight shoes, from the back seat. I can't tell you how many times I've told them this is not safe. But today, it hit me right in the eye. So now the Crocs have been taken away. It's a shame because they do make the pool easier.

Of course our whole day has been complicated by the fact that I am still sick. The only thing more fun than sick mom, no hubby and no camp/school, would be sick kids. I'm sure that's coming up soon. I'd be hard for me to believe a week of snotty tissues around the house didn't make someone sick. Oooooo.....fun.


When Age Trumps Everything

I'm over at DC Metro Moms today chuckling at my kids who think age is really everything when you're three, four and five. Check me out.


Why Don't Doctors Have Childcare?

After a terrible night's sleep for the fourth night, I finally succumbed to calling the doctor this morning to make myself an appointment. The good news: I got in early. The bad news: I got in early (translation: need to find babysitter fast.) It's a bit difficult to find a babysitter for a 10 a.m. appointment that morning.

I called a few people, but they had plans already. The reason for my desperation was this exact time last year -- when I had similar symptoms -- I brought both kids to the doctor twice. The last time I went the doctor made a comment about my "energetic children" who had totally destroyed the examining room while we waited. Needless to say after she implied I couldn't control my own kids, I changed practices.

But my memory of that disastrous visit still lingers in my mind. So I was set on pawning at least one kid off on a fellow mom friend for an hour.

After realizing I would have to be brave and try to do it on my own and had a pep talk with the kids on doctor office etiquette, my friend called and saved me. As a mom of four children, she gets the prize for thinking outside the box on this problem. We agreed to meet at the YMCA where she would check both my kids in, with hers, while she worked out. The doctor's office is about two minutes away so if there was a problem I would be able to get over there quickly enough.

Wow, babysitting problem solved without anyone having to actually babysit. Still wouldn't be easier if the doctor's office had childcare?

The irony of this exercise this morning was that I, indeed, did make it over there in time without any children. However, the lady that booked my appointment never actually put it on the calendar so when I go there the receptionist told me I didn't have an appointment.

Conversation went like this:
Lady: We don't have you down for an appointment
Me: Well, you better put me down because I called at 8:30 and booked one for 10:15 and managed to find a babysitter in 30 minutes. So I'm not leaving until someone sees me.
Lady: OK, we'll try to fit you in.
Me: Does that mean try to fit me in this morning or sometime around my appointment because I have to get my kids at 11:30?

They did manage to squeeze me (I'm sure they were saying nasty things about me) and alas, the verdict was a bad head cold which requires lots of rest. I don't see that happening anytime soon unless she's going to take my kids. The only drugs I got out of the gig was codeine, which she assured me would help me rest at night. No shit.


Busy Busy Too Busy to Blog

Too busy lately to post. I'm trying to get over a cold which is taken over my whole being after me trying to fight it off for three weeks. Ugh. Damn acupuncture didn't work.

We are rearranging/redecorating our house. My husband is about to leave for almost 3 weeks of travel and I'm working to start up a new blog soon. Yay!

Oh, my winner from the contest was Tech Savvy Mama. Congrats!


Last Chance for the Giveaway

Today is the last day to comment for the School Zone workbooks. We (one of my kids) will draw a winner tomorrow.


How Did You Know Labor Was Real?

Moms love to talk contractions. How did you know you were labor? When did the contractions get bad? Were you sent home? All that good stuff. I dedicate this post to my friends Cara and Jenn who, I hope, are have their babies today.

After Cara's doctor determined she was 3-4 cm dilated with her third baby, and then proceeded to strip her membranes and send her home after she told the doctor she was having contractions, it'd be hard to believe her baby boy isn't coming today. And what idiot doctor sends a woman home who is that dilated, has fast labor AND is on her third baby?

I haven't ever really experienced real labor since I was induced both times, but I had my fair share of contracting--thanks to pitocin--without an epidural. Oh so fun.

So, I'd love to hear your labor story. How did you know it was time to make the call?


The Doctor Visit

I hate taking my kids to the doctor. Even though my pediatrician seems to be fairly efficient most of the time, the whole ordeal is just too much for me. Usually I require a rest afterwards. So yesterday was Anna's three year check up. The other thing I tend to do is get a babysitter for the other child when we're doing "well visits," this way I actually can talk to the doctor about the one child without the other one blabbering on so.

But this time I opted to bring Alex along since he needed to get a follow up vaccine, which I will add he was less than thrilled about.

So we went and showed up for our 2:40 appointment. I came fully equipped with snack, coloring books/crayons, books, Uno cards AND Matchbox cars. Ok, no saying that mama isn't prepared. I was! We wait and wait and wait in the little room. My kids are opening the door and hanging out looking around and begging (yes, I did say begging) for Dr. Stern to come in. At 3:20 I really started to lose my patience. I had booked the appointment three months ago and here I am waiting.

I peak my head out and ask how much longer. Turns out there had been an emergency in the next room and that put her behind schedule. Dammit. Didn't I feel like a giant loser now.

The visit went quickly after that. But the funniest thing is how much my kids actually love going to the doctor. Alex even sat there like a brave little man enduring the shot with only a few quiet tears rolling down his cheek. And if the day couldn't get any better (since they knew ice cream was the reward after shots), Anna actually managed to find a Cinderella sticker in the sticker roll upon checking out. A perfect day for my kids!


Competition Can Be a Good Thing

So you may know we've had a struggle this summer with the family Swim Wars. Anna wouldn't go into the water, Alex was so close to swimming then decided he wanted nothing to do face in the water. I remember a woman telling me, "it's like potty training. They do it when they're ready." At the time, I was sure she was wrong. But today, I realize that she was, indeed, right.

This weekend Alex learned to swim. Ironically it was on Anna's birthday. In true Alex form--not to be outdone by his sister's birthday or anything--he learned to swim so they would have equal bidding for the day, I'm sure. Then Anna--not to be outdone by Alex--reclaimed her title by learning to swim on Sunday (the day of her birthday party) for all the guests to see.

Yes, a little family competition is always fun.

Camp Drop Off is Never Easy

Today finally arrived! After six weeks of summer with either one kid or both kids at home, today I dropped both kids off at summer camp. Well, it's only morning summer camp so I imagine it is more like preschool outside. But, still, today I am kid free. I had all my papers in order and prepped the kids before I dumped them both off.

But I was sad as I drove away.

Alex, disappointed not be in the same group with his other friends, frowned and moaned and then jumped right up on the bench and started playing. He looked at me and said, "good bye mom. See ya!" Done.

Anna wasn't quite as convinced. She played the sad card about not wanting me to go. I kissed her, said I loved her and walked off. I expected to hear crying and moaning and maybe even her darting after me. Nope. I look back and she's happily playing on the bench with some kids.

I got in the car and drove home. Happy to have some time to get chores done. Sad that I just left them in the hands of a few college kids, who I hope are capable of keeping track of 12 kids. I try not to think about it too much or I know I would go back and check on them during the day.


Made Famous by "Push Presents"

I'm famous today! Check me out over at the Washington Times in an article by Karen Goff, who ironically shares the same birthday as my daughter.

Push presents, baby jewels or baby baubles were up-and-coming when I was pregnant with my first. I remember my friend Nicole received a Cartier watch for her "baby jewels." My friend Cara got her diamond earrings upgraded. Each mom has her own thing, but I love my aquamarine ring and ruby pendant.


Today You Are Three

My dearest Anna,

I can hardly believe that today you are three! It doesn't seem possible that three years ago today you entered our world. It has been so fun to watch you grow, even in just three short years.

You are certainly a girl filled with spirit and individuality. No can't be bribed for anything. You want what you want and that's about it. While you always like to dress in pink and purple, it's not without a spunky twist. You'll bungee jump off the sofa with your brother and roll around playing war, but only if you have your hairclip or princess dress on at the same time.

You're not one to be left behind and left out. Peeing by a tree, no problem for you. Doing the monkey bars that are well above your ability, you're right there behind your brother. Secretly, I think you wanted to be a first child. You almost were, being on the heels of your brother. But you are what you are.

You are an artist. You can sit and draw, paint or create for long periods of time if only given enough paper. You love to run and play, but need time to rest in between. You love to stop and dance to the music anywhere you are. You love to cuddle mommy. You tend to be a bit dramatic about everything. And while you love to have friends, you seem to have a little trouble making them. But you have no trouble making friends with puppies.

Happy Birthday to my little girl.



Giveaway: School Zone Preschool Workbooks

Summer is halfway over. I'm surprised by how quickly the summer has flown by. Basically my kids start camp next week for three weeks, we have two weeks total off and then our last week is a trip to the beach. Then it's back to school. Yikes!

We have spent the weeks we've had off doing so many fun activities. Not quite as many as we did last year due to rising gas prices. We've really been trying to stay close to home, which means Meadowlark Gardens, Frying Pan Park, Air & Space Museum, Wolftrap Concerts and of course, the pool. But during some of the hotter days when we stay inside, my kids love doing these School Zone workbooks. I'm not sure how much it helps them get ready for school at this age, but they're fun little exercises for us to do together. And it feels like we're doing something educational.

I'm giving away two newly published School Zone workbooks, one is Math Readiness for Pre-K and then other is Big Alphabet Workbook for ages 3-5. (The picture is NOT one of the books I'm giving away.) I'll pick two winners next Friday, July 25. Just post a comment about your favorite activity you've done with your kids so far this summer. Please make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you win!


Is Medication Really the Answer?

I was horrified when I read a few days ago about the AAP giving the OK, or better yet, recommending, that overweight children as young as eight could be given medicine to help lower their cholesterol.

Is this really what our world has come to, where the answer to everything is simply a pill? Eat too much, here’s a pill. Feeling depressed, here’s another pill. Can’t sit still in class, here’s another pill.

While I know there are people out there legitimately needing medication for various conditions, I think it says something about our medical community to fix the childhood obesity issue with a pill. What message is this sending to our kids? What happened to people (or parents) being responsible for their actions. You eat a lot of food—nasty fast food—you will get fat. You sit around and watch TV and play video games, hey, guess what, you’ll get fat too.

I also was surprised when the AAP recently set new guidelines saying children under the age of 2 could drink nonfat or lowfat milk instead of the previously recommended whole milk, mainly since kids were already getting the necessary fat from other places.

The whole reasoning behind whole milk is because the full fat helps the brain grow and develop. We did a lot of lowfat milk for my kids because that was what we had at home and because they ate alot.... and I mean ALOT of full fat yogurt and cheese. So I figured they were covered, which they were it turns out. But I think it's kind of gross that they're telling parents to cut back on that if their children are overweight and that is what they should cut back on. Shouldn't the answer to be to stop feeding two-year olds chicken nuggets, pizza, chips or other "bad" fats and load them up instead on cheese and yogurt and other "good" fats.

I'm done ranting now.....


Girlfriends Rock

Just back from a nice long weekend with my best friend--former college roommate and maid of honor from my wedding. She's 37 weeks pregnant with baby #3. We spent the weekend eating and shopping, eating and shopping and eating. Gross and yet so fun. The requirement was any restaurant where children were not expected. I had the absolute best weekend I could imagine, even with her two well-behaved kids around, it was truly a vacation.

And the best part....my husband did a stellar job at parenting this weekend with trips to the farm, pool, lake, fishing, dinner out, etc. Ok, I'm planning my next one already.

When Panic Pays Off

Any mom who has ever lost her kid in a store, will tell you it can be one of the most terrifying moments. Did my kid wander off and out into the street? Is he lost somewhere and upset? Did someone take him? Is he hurt?

This weekend while visiting my very, very pregnant best friend in Atlanta, we both left TJ Maxx sick to our stomachs as we watched a woman fearful that her child had been taken from her. The lesson learned for us both was sometimes panicking really does help.

As we were walking through the aisles I heard a nearby woman calling her daughter..."Isadora, Isadora." (Followed by what I think was a series of questions in Spanish: Where are you? I can't find my daughter? Answer me Isadora! etc.) After I saw the woman running up and down the aisle a few times, I walked over near her. She started yelling her daughters name louder and louder and yelling in English that her daughter was missing. She screamed and yelled and cried, all the while giving orders: "She's two. She has black hair. Her name is Isadora. Someone has taken my child. Close the front doors." Initially, I thought this lady was a bit crazy, since I was pretty sure the kid was hiding in the racks. But within less than a minute, the entire store had stopped operating and everyone was looking for the little girl and the doors at the front had been closed with a manager on guard. My friend searched the bathrooms and the store room and I ran up and down the aisles calling the girl's name.

She was found under a rack looking at a Disney Princess shirt. Her mother collapsed on the floor sobbing and rocking the little girl. Everyone went back to their shopping.

Her panic paid off. No way was any child getting out of that store unnoticed. Strangely enough, the woman's strategy (probably not my own) paid off. I'd rather leave the store embarrassed with my child than without her.


One Word Only

I saw this on another mom's blog, and I actually felt compelled to do the same. Hmmmm...must be a slow day of fun news in the monkey house. The other mom did hers in one word answers. I thought I would challenge myself and do the same. It's harder than it looks.

1. Where is your cell phone?........Uncharged
2. Your significant other? ........Out
3. Your hair? ........Gross
4. Your mother? ........Fighter
5. Your father? ........Comfort
6. Your favorite time of day? ........Now
7. Your dream last night? ........Awakened
8. Your favorite drink? ........Wine
9. Your dream goal? ........Author
10. The room you’re in? ........Disgusting
11. Your ex? ........Pshaw
12. Your fear? ........Widow
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? ........Published
14. What you are not? ........Quiet
15. Your Favorite meal? ........Cheese
16. One of your wish list items? ........Camera
17. The last thing you did? ........Email
18. Where you grew up? ........Texas
19. What are you wearing? ........PJs
20. Your TV is? ........Off
21. Your pets? ........None
22. Your computer? ........Addicted
23. Your life? ........Busy
24. Your mood? ........OK
25. Missing someone? ........Yes
26. Your car? ........Grey
27. Something you’re not wearing? ........Shoes
28. Favorite store? ........Banana
29. Your summer? ........Busy
30. Your favorite colour? ........Blue
31. When is the last time you laughed? ........Today
32. When is the last time you cried? ........Blank
33. Your health? ........Good
34. Your children? ........Mine
35. Your future? ........Hopeful
36. Your beliefs? ........Faith
37. Young or old? ........Young
38. Your image? ........Classic
39. Your appearance? ........Hasty
40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? ........Always

Your turn! If you fill it out too, send me a link to your blog so I can read your one word answers.

Where are the Lazy Days of Summer?

So here we are. Into July now. The Fourth is over and I'm sure we'll start seeing ads for back to school soon. (Side note: Back to school really is its own holiday.) So after all my touting how much I love summer you ask: how am I doing with summer?

I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love seeing new friends, spending every afternoon at the pool, going wherever we want on most days, but it is busy and I can't get anything done.

I have been giving the opportunity to write for Washington Parent magazine. I am now trying to contribute to a few other blogs. I have editors to pitch for other stories, a book to write and kids to raise. Somehow with the kids and the chores, I have zero time for my extras. No books. I have been trying to finish four books.

I somehow reversed my summer a bit. The begining part was filled with empty days and afternoons by the pool, starting this week, our summer will become more scheduled and I have an upcoming three weeks--I can hardly believe it--three weeks of morning summer camp for both kids. I think had this been at the beginning of June I would have felt bad, but now I feel so ready for the break.

I had a conversation with my grandmother this week, mom to six children, on how she handled summer vacation with all the kids. Our parents and grandparents generation boast about how great summer was with no schedules and no school. But then she pointed out the world was different. Summertime meant sending your kids out in the morning, telling them to be home by lunch and then giving them the boot until dinner time. Kids roamed the streets and went house to house looking for fun. With changing times where parents have to be with kids so much more, it makes the summer months longer and harder for parents. Even I remember wandering the neighborhood at the age of 4 or 5, as long as I had bigger kids with me. No more is this the case.

Though as I sit here at Panera this morning, I look around and am enjoying the number of moms here with their school-aged kids, enjoying a quite morning bite before a day of activities. And these are the activities I enjoy with my kids. The spontaneous, low-key excursions that are not expected in our daily routine. And only summer allows us this freedom.


Cohabitating Kids

So one of my favorite topics of Baby Bunching (website soon to be launched I hope) is about kids sharing rooms. Right after people ask about double strollers (yes, you must have one), they often inquire about kids sharing a room. When will it be OK for kids to share a room? Do I need a second crib?

Now everyone has a different philosophy on this. I know back in the day my grandparents put my aunt in a dresser drawer in some room of the house to accommodate the six kids, but these days many parents tend not let kids share a room until they're a bit older.

With my kids, my first son was such a fabulous sleeper. By three months he was sleeping through the night and took very regular naps. Do you think I was about to screw that up when my daughter came along? Uh, no. He had one room. She had the other.

Good sleeper. Bad sleeper. Never the two shall meet. Until Grandma's house. This week at my parents' house we have begun introducing them to cohabitation--sibling style. While my parents have plenty of space in their house, the easiest set up is to stick both kids in the same room. This may not seem like a big deal, but to kids who have for the few short years of their lives only slept alone, this can be a bit of an adjustment. This is the second time we've tried putting them in the same room, and I'm proud to announce this go 'round we've finally almost got it right. The first night, both kids agreed they needed to not talk so they could fall asleep. That was more of Alex dictating to Anna that he couldn't sleep when she talked. But today, they both decided they wanted to sleep together one of the bigger beds. The rules: no talking, hands to yourself, you must rest. Sure enough, both kids napped....together...in the same bed. This is a breakthrough for us. As it opens up the possibility to finally all getting one hotel room!!!!

Random Thought: Indian Dance

I'm currently at my parents' house with the kids for some R&R (well, as much as you can get with the kids still around). But I have had some time to actually think for a change--think beyond giving my kids the basic necessities like food, clothes and water. For a fleeting moment, as I was driving back from an errand, I thought I might like to take an Indian dance class. A little unknown secret is I really enjoy Bollywood movies. How fun would it be to dance like that? When would I have the time between kids, blogging, book writing. But maybe, just maybe I could fit it on my list of "extracurricular" things to do like scrapbooking, photography, music. Would I look good in a sari?


Determining a Successful Outing

The day after July 4th. Kids slept in until almost 8 a.m. (Those that know my kids, know this is unprecedented.) We were recovering from a late night, and our morning--while good--was rainy. Our plans with friends at the pool were shot so we opted for something new. My friend Allison called and said several moms were meeting at the Air & Space Museum. Rainy, holiday weekend + free indoor museum = amusement for my kids. (Ok, I only took one kid.)

In the back of my head, I must have known that this equation also means big crowds. But the outing got me thinking. Am I a 'half full' or 'half empty' kind of mom for outings.

Let's dissect this and see if this was a successful outing.

The Good
1. I got to see four of my mom friends while only having half my monkey crew.
2. Since we carpooled with two other moms, I only paid $4 of the $12 parking fee.
3. My son got to see his friends.
4. My son got see the planes (which he doesn't care about), the space ships (which he also doesn't care about), and eat at McDonald's (which he will tell you he loves more than anything, but his daddy says is very unhealthy because the beef from the hamburgers comes from corn-fed cows and not grass fed. Alex will tell you all about a cow's stomach, too, if you want to hear.) But he still loves McDonalds.

5. Squished pennies keep kids happy for a long time.

6. The kids had fun and were tired afterwards. (Read: Everyone will take a nap)

The Bad
1. Son got in trouble from wanna-be security guard for running down the ramp.
2. Squished pennies went up in price from 51 cents to $1.01. Damn inflation! 3. Crowds (most of it other kids or older people in wheelchairs) makes it hard to keep track of six kids under four.

The Funny
1. Same security guard was busting up other families' fun as well.
2. Squished pennies were really the highlight for everyone.
3. Had to bypass the second stop on the control tower tour for Alex's potty emergency.
4. Alex really led the group by what HE wanted to do: eat, squish pennies, see the space ships, go to the bathroom, go home. Nice.

My vote: Outing was a success. While it was packed and the kids were literally everywhere and without much focus, us four moms were fully aware that this was a preschool-led activity. None of us had expectations except to be somewhere out of the rain with the kids. If they had fun, so did we.


The "Lego" Fireworks are the Best

I had big plans--for us anyway--for the Fourth. We were going to do our normal routine in the morning, followed up with a family trip to the pool and then off to Herndon for the fireworks, complete with a picnic I had planned (BBQ sandwiches, salad, hotdogs, hummus, etc.) followed by the full display of professional fireworks. Not sure where the day went wrong, but it was somewhere between me yelling at my husband for letting my son burn himself on a smoke bomb and being annoyed at the contractor who put the wrong caulking in the bathtub.

Our afternoon pool trip was cut short by thunder and rain. Our picnic was also rained out (instead we picnicked on the floor in the living room which was fine with the kids). I had then lost my spirit for the Herndon fireworks show since at 6 p.m. it was still raining and we had already eaten. So we opted for family fun and our own display of fireworks in front of the house.

I will have to preface this post with a brief digression on how much I HATE fireworks. Oh yes, it's true. From as early as five I can actually remember being terrified of fireworks in every possible way. I would cry and hide and pretend to be cool about it. To this day, I still hate them. Every year, my husband loads up on sparklers and other silly firecrackers to wow the kids and satisfy his inner pyromaniac self. This year, my kids were ready for the real thing. They couldn't wait. As soon as it was a little dark, we were outside with our load o' explosives. Then out came our neighbor with the ones he picked up in Pennsylvania--the illegal ones, he told us. Alex must have picked up on the new word "illegal" and as we're talking about the fireworks, he asks the neighbors when we would get to see the "Lego fireworks." We couldn't figure out what that meant, until he told us it was the ones Mr. D picked up in Pennsylvania. Oh...."lego" = "illegal." Excellent.

And yes, they were quite illegal. We had our own private fireworks display and my kids oooed and ahhhhed about the fact that they finally got to see the fireworks in the sky. Nevermind the fact that we were all standing under umbrellas to view them. Yes, it continued raining into the evening. Both kids stayed up until 10 p.m. and will likely be up at 6 a.m.


Uno is Numero Uno

My kids love playing games. We have Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish cards, Old Maid, War, Crazy 8s, Bingo and Dominoes. But the game that rules all here is Uno! I don't know why or how, but all four of us adore the game and the antics that come with it. If you haven't given this game a try in a few decades, I highly recommend you give it a go. Fun for ages 3 and up! (As long as everyone knows their colors/numbers). This evening mine even forwent their normal bedtime stories for two rounds of Uno--complete with the winning Uno dance when my kids finally ganged up on me to place the final winning card.

"He Needs a Weapon!"

These were the exact words from the lips of my son while we were together drawing a picture. The activity goes like this. We draw a picture of a person together. I drew the head, he drew the body. I drew an arm, he immediately went for the end of the arm (where a hand should be) and said "now he needs a gun. What? Seriously. Is this kid crazy? Why does it always have to be about a weapon, I think. So of course the next words out of his mouth are "Ok, how about a sword?" No. So his follow up is, "What kind of weapon can I draw in there?" After we talked at length about why it doesn't always have to be a gun, sword, stick or bomb (that's the latest thanks to my husband introducing him to smoke bombs for July 4th), he agreed on drawing candy and an ice cream cone. Clearly second place to a weapon.


Telling Birth Stories

Over at DC Metro Moms today, they're talking about birth stories. Rather than bore the general population with the nitty gritty, I decided to talk there about how I faked labor with my second baby, but here I would bore you with the details.

03.27.2004 Doha, Qatar (Alex, at left)
I had been having--what I now know to be--light contractions for several days. They had become fairly frequent and what I thought was stronger. We called the doctor and she suggested we meet her at the hospital at 7:30 p.m. to be checked. We arrived and checked in. In the U.S., I hear this can be a painful process. We walked in, they took our name and phone number and assigned us a room. That was it. Nothing more was needed. At 7:45 p.m. my water broke right before Dr. Amal Badi arrived. I was unsure of how people could ever wonder if their water broke or not because it was quite obvious that’s what it was. Fluid gushed, soaking my pants, top of my shirt and shoes.

The bad news was when they checked me, my cervix was neither dilated nor effaced. But now I had the water breakage that made the clock start ticking. (You only have 24 hours after that otherwise risk infection.)

My mother was arriving in Doha at 10:30 p.m. so since it looked like things wouldn’t happen in the next 2 hours, Andrew left to go pick her up. Right before he left, they checked me again with still no progress even though the contractions were starting to come faster and stronger now. They were ready to induce since things weren’t moving along on their own. I decided to wait on the pitocin until Andrew returned from the airport, knowing that these contractions would be much worse once medication took over.

Andrew and I kept in contact via cell phone while he waited at the airport. I felt very alone. I was the only one in the delivery ward that night, and while my doctor had stayed, she was resting in the next room. There was only one nurse on duty and I was scared.

By the time he came back, the contractions were getting pretty painful. I was convinced that surely now, things had started to move. My cervix was starting to efface but still no dilation….they said the contractions needed to be stronger to move him down. At midnight, when Andrew and my mom returned, they started the pitocin. Almost immediately I began to feel the difference in the intensity. I tried every position that I read about in all the books and some were definitely better than others. The birthing ball was where I spent most of the time in these early parts of labor. I walked as much as I could, but the pain was like nothing I could ever had imagined. Since the baby was in a posterior position, most of the pain was in my back. I felt like my whole backside was going to split open.

At 4 a.m. they checked me again and after 4 hours of pain-wrenching labor and no drugs, I was finally about 1 cm dilated. But I wasn’t allowed to get the epidural until 4 cm. By this time, I was tired and run out of energy. At least if things had been moving along a bit more, I might have been more encouraged. They decided to turn off the pitocin and give me some Demerol so I could rest. The Demerol immediately made me start vomiting and become dizzy. If only they had told me this would be the reaction, I would have been lying down when they administered it. So, I had about 3 hours of sleep with just the normal contractions. What a difference! I think if I had progressed normally, I would have been able to better handle the pain. Andrew slept on the hard, cold floor beside my bed (no extra bed) and my mom got a bed upstairs in what would be my room later on. At 8 a.m., with still very little progress, they turned the pitocin back on. The pain was even worse than before. Andrew and my mom, all working on very little sleep, helped coach me for the next 4 hours. They came back in to check me and I was only 2 ½ cm dilated. I just couldn’t take the pain anymore and still felt I had so long to go. They administered another dose of Demerol, which did nothing this time except make me sick again. About 30 minutes later, I decided I just couldn’t make it any longer and asked for the epidural. I loved the lady who brought me the drugs!

I was a bit scared about getting the epidural. The thought of someone sticking a needle in your spine…yikes. But Andrew stood there and held me the whole time and helped me to be calm about the whole thing and it really didn’t hurt.

Once that took affect, everything seemed so much better and moved much faster, I was able to better handle the pain and relax. By the time they checked me a few minutes later, I was already 4 cm. The pain started to increase gradually, but quickly. My doctor was due to arrive around 3 p.m. but at 2:30 I started feeling like I needed to push. I don’t think they believed I could have progressed that quickly, but at 3 p.m. when they finally checked me again, I was fully dilated and ready to push. The room was a sudden burst of activity as everyone started running around to get ready.

What a relief! What excitement…the time had come! Mainly, it was nice to know that this was almost over. I was afraid that the result would be a C-section since I was nearing the 24-hour mark. Once I started pushing, I felt that things were finally almost there. The delivery room was filled with, what seemed like, a million doctors and nurses. Apparently, there was nothing else going on in the hospital that night and I was the main attraction, drawing at least (from what I remember) about six additional nurses who were bored from no excitement.

Andrew and my mom were great coaches telling me what a great job I was doing and giving me updates on where he was in the birth canal. Andrew, who used to not want to have ANYTHING to do with watching the baby come out, was now fixated on baby’s every move--in between, wiping my forehead with a wet washcloth. As we got closer, I was told I would need an episiotomy, which I wanted very much to avoid, but apparently there was no way that head was coming out of me without it. Once the incision was made, it was two or three more pushes.

After about 55 minutes of pushing, they brought him out with a flying swoosh and set him on my chest. I started kissing him and telling him how much I loved him before they moved him on the incubator next to me to check him. Andrew took his place next to the pediatrician to make sure all was right there and my mom stayed with me through the stitching process.

I thought I was done now and after I pushed out the placenta, they were worried I was bleeding too much. They were afraid that my cervix had torn and would need more stitches. They topped off my epidural to investigate the problem. Turns out I had a blood clot that needed to be removed.

After a few minutes of doctors looking over Alex, they brought him to me to try to nurse. Andrew and I cuddled him and both of us started to cry. What a precious little miracle had been set into our arms. I was pretty sure that all that pain had been worth it. I was also pretty sure the next time……would have to be easier.

And it was....Anna was born less than 16 months later after eight hours of labor and three pushes. (Anna at left)