The Incredible Hulk

So, here's what happens when you get a 4-year old and a 20-month old set up with a movie, get a newborn fed and off for a nap, leave your husband watching the Military Channel, then step into the bathroom for a quick shower.

Thank God for washable markers, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.


My in-laws came to visit this past weekend. They came to see all the grandkids, including their first look at Jane.

Alice is enjoying having someone smaller than her in the house. She loves to give the baby a kiss.

After watching way too much of the NBA playoffs on TV, the whole family headed outside for a quick game of catch with a football. I sent Brian out with the camera to get some pictures while I fed Jane. As he was taking this shot, Helen's voice rang out across the yard, "I've got it!"

Too bad there is clear photographic evidence to prove otherwise.

This is my favorite picture - FINALLY I got one of Jane's dimples on digital media. There's a matching dimple on the other cheek. And Brian is amazed there are any cheeks left, with how much cheek kissing goes on around here. Go ahead. Try not to kiss the computer screen when you look at that dimple:


Dreams Fulfilled, Right Here

Many years ago, there was a James Bond named Timothy Dalton, who may have looked the part but had trouble acting better than a wet stack of newspapers. Plus, everyone knew that Pierce Brosnan was born to be James Bond, because he totally looked the part. No one cared about the acting. I swear it.

Anyway, in Pierce's first foray into the role, I hardly noticed the acting, because there was a scene where he drove this absolutely beautiful blue BMW convertible. Long story short, I fell for both the guy AND the car. I even dreamed about having that car. Being single, it seemed a shame to waste my time driving such a practical thing like a 4-door Honda Accord. And then I'd think, hey, that cute little 2-seater convertible is not the car for you. You need a trunk and a backseat.

Why? I don't know. I just know that at times, trunk space and backseats come in handy. Plus, I'm a Taurus, which means PRACTICAL is my middle name. And COST is something that factors into everything I do. Remember, I'm the kid who wanted to be an accountant when I grew up. I'm basically the most boring person on the planet.

Fast forward to when I was first dating Brian, and he asked me about my dream car. I waxed poetic, perhaps a bit on the longish side, about this beautiful car that I would never, ever buy. I know next to nothing about technical aspects or features or the eventual comparison to a Mazda Miata, but I know beautiful cars and beautiful men driving those cars, and the image had stuck with me. If I ever win PowerBall, that would be the car for me. Even then, I would be standing in the dealer's lot, calculating the lost interest on the money I was about to spend, and deciding I would still need a trunk and a backseat.

So. Since that conversation, Brian has been shopping for this car. Honestly, he has to shop for cars like some people have to breathe. You know, all regular-like, and necessary to continuing life. Occasionally, I'll look up one evening and notice him staring intently at the laptop screen, lost in another world. I'll remind him to breathe, and he'll just click another link on the Craigslist site.

In the years we have been together, he has learned everything there is to know about this car - how many versions of the engine they made, what the options are, and what makes one better than another. He has spent years looking at listings online, stopping by to chat with dealers and reading up on the specs. He knows the car inside and out. Me, I like the looks, and that's enough for me. Specs, schmecs.

Anyway, one evening about a month ago he interrupted the TV show I was enjoying behind closed eyes to show me pictures of a BMW Z3. Not just any Z3, mind you - blah blah blah, wipe sleep from eyes and notice it's red, blah blah blah, aren't wheels are special, check out these 50+ pictures, it's the deal of the century, blah blah blah.

I murmured something which may have been vaguely complimentary, and promptly shut my eyes again. This was my mistake. It resulted in a car payment.

Years of shopping means that once you see it, you know it's the real deal and you have to have it. Brian spent the next few weeks getting his ducks in a row and checking it all out from stem to stern. And he spent just about every single day getting me on board with the idea of buying it. Finally, he came home an official owner. Yes, we have three kids, and my husband bought a 2-seater convertible. The practical side of me screamed and writhed in agony.

Once it got home, I took it for a spin. Let's just say it's a flat-out awesome vehicle. With the wind in my hair, and the sun on my face, I felt transported back to my single days and on my way to Pierce's house. So now I know why Brian's been shopping all this time. That feeling is addictive, and it shut up Mrs. Practical for good. I know she's off in a corner somewhere, muttering darkly. I just can't hear her with the top down.



Back in mid-November I was perusing the local free newspaper when I discovered a full-page ad for a John Mayer concert coming in February. Tickets were going on sale the next day. I have a little thing for that guy and his music. Those early songs still captivate me. Plus, he's sort of easy on the eyes, you know?

So I mentioned it to a co-worker, and then I quickly did the math. By early February, I would be 8 months pregnant. A rock concert might not be the best place for me. Still, I was pretty pumped about the idea of going.

I have a friend through work who moonlights in event security - you know, one of those guys in yellow shirts at concerts and sporting events that keeps the rest of us from rushing the stage or the field - and he told me that an 8-month pregnant woman would be perfectly entitled to sitting in "disabled" seating, which has very easy access to the exits and restrooms. Sounded pretty good to me! Still, I didn't actually went to purchase the tickets. But I was daydreaming about it. I'm just far too boring to do stuff like buy concert tickets anymore.

Later I mentioned it to Brian, who thought it sounded like fun, but it was one of those conversations that kind of went "Hmm. Sounds like fun." You know, where you're pretty sure the other person wasn't paying much attention. So I went back to daydreaming.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. Brian had me open my present from him first, which turned out to be a lovely black purse. I totally needed a new purse but hadn't even thought of buying one for ages. So I thanked him for it, and set it aside, and that's when Brian said, "You might want to look inside it." Inside the purse was a gorgeous pair of earrings, and a pair of tickets to the concert. I teared up immediately in front of my whole family.

Brian said I could make it a girl's night out if I wanted, so I asked our Amazing Babysitter if she wanted to go. Being female, she said heck yeah. We made plans to do the Happy Hour at the upscale bar across the street from the arena, and then go to the concert afterwards.

I work close to the arena, so we were able to just walk 2 blocks to the bar and then to the show. Very easy for Preggo, and safe for late at night, too! Then, to top it off, during the opening act, my friend who works security showed up at our seats and gave me an advance copy of the set list for John's show. So we knew ahead of time what he would be playing - that was so darn cool.

Wow. Just - WOW. Turned out to be an amazing concert. We had front row seats in the balcony, with a perfect view of the whole arena. We never had to stand up except to give him a standing ovation at the end, and we had very reasonable people sitting all around us who calmly enjoyed the show as well. (Except for one looney tunes girl who screamed through all of one of John's solos, but security took good care of her.)

Here was our view of Mr. Mayer himself:

And here are 2 very happy concertgoers:

What a husband I have - he paid to let me go ogle another man all evening! I mean, enjoy some great music and a super fun night out. I haven't done that in forever, and it was wonderful to have him treat me to a great night out with our Amazing Babysitter. I will remember this concert for a lifetime. Thank you, honey!


Birth Story

March marked the last month of my pregnancy, which I spent feeling enormous. it didn't help that all of my co-workers told me I looked huge or imitated my pregnant waddle when they saw me walking down the hall. I didn't measure any bigger than normal, and in fact I kept the weight gain down to a reasonable 25 pounds for the whole pregnancy. But I carried it all right in front of me, like I was smuggling a fit ball under my shirt. That kind of physique doesn't lend itself to comments on how slender you might be.

That last month, I had lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions regularly. Sometimes I even had real contractions that would last for the better part of a night or a day. Everything ached, everything was uncomfortable, and once in a while if I was lucky, I got 4 hours sleep in a row. But if the 4 hours started when I passed out on the couch around 9:00, I would spend the early morning hours surfing around the net or looking for something good to watch on TV, and then I would show up for a full day at work totally exhausted.

Life as a very pregnant lady is not that much fun.

About 2 weeks before my due date, I found out I was 4 cm dilated. So that explained a lot of the pain and the contractions - I was making progress. I got excited, and I cleaned the house and got ready to have the baby any time. In fact, I packed my bag and carried it to work with me. Every single day I took that bag to work, and every night I put it by the bed. I was ready to go, just in case something happened at work.

About a week before my due date, I spent the better part of a Saturday morning timing contractions. They got to 6 minutes apart - nothing terribly strong, but definitely the real thing - so I woke Brian up, and called the Amazing Babysitter to come over and watch the girls while we headed to the hospital.

It was a bust. Still at 4 cm after 2 hours, they sent me home. They said I needed to be at 5 cm to stick around, and to come back when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and a lot stronger - or if my water broke.

After a week of no progress, we set up a planned induction for Monday the 22nd, and I powered through a to-do list on my last day at work. That weekend I mapped out my big house-cleaning push. I split up the chores over Saturday and Sunday, so I wouldn't wear out too much.

Saturday night I woke up around midnight with a contraction. Eventually I worked out that they were about 15 minutes apart, and at that point I was wide awake, so I picked out a movie to watch. About 3:30 am, I went to the bathroom, and at that moment, my water broke. Wow. Talk about having been there, done that! I yelled for Brian a few times, and he finally heard me from the bedroom. Since our Amazing Babysitter was out of town that night, he called our backup - Brian's fishing buddy D., and D's girlfriend. To their credit, they arrived swiftly. In the meantime, my contractions got a lot stronger, and a lot closer together. By the time we pulled out of the driveway, they were really painful, and they were about 3 minutes apart. To top it off, every other contraction lasted about 2 minutes. So it felt like I really wasn't getting a good break, and that the baby was definitely on its way. I crossed my fingers that it wouldn't happen in the car.

On the way to the hospital, I decided to go ahead & get the on-call OB awake and on her merry way. Turns out, there was a very nice guy on call that morning, one that I'd never met. Great. I told the answering service what was going on and where we were. They asked a couple of questions, and told me the doctor would call back.

Brian dropped me off close to the door, and another contraction hit me as I was walking into the lobby. I parked my butt on a couch just outside of the admitting office and yelled for the staff to let them know I was there, while Brian was parking the car. It took them a while to realize I was yelling at them. Since the contractions weren't letting up, they got a wheelchair to pull me in. I spent a total of 20 seconds being patient while they tapped around on a keyboard, trying to pull up my information. Finally, I snapped. I was going to have a baby in that lobby if they didn't get their act together. So I very loudly spelled my last name. I figured out it was being rude when Brian tried to shush me. The on-call OB called us back at that point, and I got on the phone and told him where we were and what was happening. Then I told him this was my 3rd baby, and I think that snapped the gears into place for the staff. Suddenly, I had my wristband and I was being wheeled off to triage.

We got to the triage desk, and the nurse was on the phone asking someone about me. Turns out, the on-call OB had called ahead and told them I had to skip triage - do not pass go, do not collect $200, send her straight to a delivery room. And oh, get the epidural in her, now.

Thank god for that OB. I hadn't met him yet and I already wanted to hug him.

We got into a room, and although I was still having some contractions, I got on a hospital gown and got on the bed. I kept asking about the epidural. I did not want to miss out on that. I had gotten to about 7 cm dilated with Helen but it never hurt this much. Oh my lordy, the pain. The contractions were absolutely murdering my resolve to keep it together and focus. I was panting like a mad woman. The nurses had to tell me how to breathe - apparently I was huffing & puffing so much, they were worried about me hyperventilating and passing out.

They asked me a few questions, which I felt was entirely unnecessary at this stage. But I tried to cooperate. When they asked me about my water breaking, I told them yes, it had, and it was kind of green - that got their attention. Apparently that means there's a baby who has pooped in my womb, and that could be an issue if she breathed it in during delivery. So they got a special tech and some of the NICU nurses on standby.

While we were waiting, they put in my IV and told me they were giving me a lot of fluids in order to spread out the contractions a bit, so that they would have time to do the epidural. I didn't notice much of a change. Still very painful, and I was not handling it well at all. I kept thinking of all the women who chose to do this childbirth thing naturally, or the billions of women who managed to give birth without epidurals before, and questioning why in the world anyone would sign up for that much pain at once.

Eventually a woman showed up to give me the epidural. It was probably only 10 minutes or so of total waiting, but it felt like much longer. I had to stay still while she prepped my back, lying on my side for two contractions. That was difficult, but the delivery nurse held my hand and chattered through the whole thing. Focusing on her hand, and focusing on staying still, and knowing that sweet blessed relief was coming, I was able to hold it together for that magic shot.

We had a different on-call OB since I was so close to delivering. The one I spoke to on the phone was on his way, but hadn't arrived yet. The one in the room was there to catch the baby in case I had to push. Clearly he had been awoken from some deep sleep, because I remember his hair was sticking up on one side, and he was apologizing for that when he came in the room.

In the meantime, the anesthetist must have loaded up on my epidural because once it hit, I was more numb than I can ever remember being for Helen or Alice. They also gave me an oxygen mask - apparently all that heavy breathing that I wasn't doing right was a big worry for the baby, too. A few contractions later, I felt a lot of pressure and burning, and they said I could start pushing. On the first push, the on-call OB showed up, so he and the other doctor switched places. I was so numb - I knew how to push but couldn't feel anything. I kept telling them, I don't know if this is working. They assured me it was fine and that I was doing a good job.

Apparently it was fine, because the baby came out on the 3rd contraction. Seriously. Maybe 5 or 6 minutes of pushing? That's it. She was ready to go.

So Jane Anne Wyatt was born at 5:21 a.m. - less than 2 hours after my water broke. Most of which was spent waiting for the sitter, driving to the hospital, and praying I would get that epidural in time.

And I did, but just barely.

She came out so quiet, and I know they don't want babies to suck in air or cry until they get all of that fluid cleaned up and out of her nose and mouth, but I started to worry. Suddenly, she gave a big wail, and I knew everything was fine. The NICU nurses cleaned her up and handed her to Brian.

One more happy, healthy baby.


Pay attention to the signs

There are numerous commercials on TV about men with GOING problems and women with URGES. I've talked about medical issues on the blog before, but still, this one seems radically different - like, "wow, I didn't know that could happen to someone I know." But yes. My name is Jennie, and I have a bladder control problem.

There. I said it.

Here's the deal. Every woman knows that the days and weeks following childbirth isn't exactly the ideal time to make us laugh heartily, or you'll find us racing for the bathroom. Even a couple of sneezes or a strong cough might be dangerous. But well after I had Alice, those moments continued. The coughing especially causes problems for me. After going through multiple pregnancies, I've learned there's a ton of things that NO ONE EVER TELLS YOU (my sister is vigorously nodding her head right now), and I had just assumed this was one of those things. You know, random times when you wet your pants as a 30-something adult - must be kinda common, right?

Have I ever mentioned I'm not a doctor? Okay? Might be important to make a note of that.

So last September, I'm at one of those indoor bouncy castle jump places for one of Helen's daycare friend's birthday parties (yes, I know. Sigh. DON'T ASK.), and I get to take Alice with me, too. It's her first time, so I head inside one of the bouncy things with her to jump around and see what she thought. Holding her in my arms, I experiment with a soft jump or two.

And promptly pee all over myself.

Okay, I think, that was not good. Fortunately I was wearing dark pants, but wow. Not good.

So a week or so later, I mention it to my mom, thinking she'd commiserate with me. After all, I'm 30-something, and she had me when she was not that old, maybe in 3rd grade, so that makes her um, what? Older than me? Anyway, I figure she might have had the same problem, and we could laugh about it together, right?

There was silence on her end of the phone. Finally, she says to me, "Jennie, that's not normal. You need to go to a doctor."

My first thought was, really? Not normal? And then I thought, okay. Maybe not. I mean, maybe I get to be one of those women who pays attention to the commercials about women with URGES and asks the doctor about the pricey brand-name prescription drug. It took me a few days to wrap my head around it. And steadily, over the next few weeks, the URGES got worse.

So I call the doctor for an appointment. I mention the symptoms to the nurse, and she says that sometimes bladder infections can cause leaking. Okay, I think. Maybe it's just a low-grade infection, after all this time. I can deal with that, just a simple fix with antibiotics. This doesn't have to require lifelong Depends purchases. This doesn't mean I need to visit a restroom every hour. Okay. Sign me up for that one.

I pee in a cup and give some blood, and the doctor sends me for an ultrasound to see if my bladder is doing anything strange. And I find out that the reason my leaking has gotten worse lately is due to an 18-week old baby curled up right on top of my bladder. Heart rate looks great, all the measurements are fine, and all the features look perfect. It's a girl, who's been quietly hiding out for over 4 months. And as I look at the tiny baby on the screen, I go blank, and the tears well up.

Then I think to myself, "Depends would have been so much cheaper."