25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's my birthday. I'm a quarter century old, or a fourth of the way closer to dead. Yikes. Seems like yesterday I was making highly questionable makeup choices, playing Liesl as a true "16 going on 17"-year-old, and bee-bopping to Hanson. Now I can rent cars, worry about cellulite, and buy anti-wrinkle cream like a champ.
Over the past five birthdays (I'll let you figure out which one is my 21st), I've had a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of birthdays, after all. I also feel like I've learned a thing or two over the years. I decided to share this wisdom with you today as my little birthday gift to you. You can decide whether or not you want to trust the girl who clearly has a serious problem deciding what color her hair should be...

Here are 25 things I've learned in the past 25 years:

1. You will always always regret eating Taco Bell.
2. Self-confidence is one of the most attractive qualities in a person.
3. You can never have enough mascara.
4. Very few things in life are worth staying mad about.
5. Money hanging up in your closest is so much better than money in the bank.
6. A loyal friend is worth her weight in jelly-filled donuts.
7. There's nothing that a hot shower and a long nap can't cure.
8. Life is too short not to snuggle every night.
9. Your mamma is the best friend you'll ever have.
10. Running a marathon is the most addicting natural high.
11. No one is as perfect as their Facebook and Instagram pictures make them seem.
12. Buy the expensive jeans. Your thunder thighs will thank you later.
13. "Don't Stop Believing" is the best feel-good song there is.
14. Family is more important than your right butt cheek.
15. Your bathroom should be cleaned every week. Every week, people.
16. Essie nail polish always beats OPI.
17. Be with people who make you laugh. Every day. All day.
18. Marriage is the most beautiful, rewarding kind of work.
19. Just because you have an opinion doesn't mean you need to share it.
20. Being short is fun unless you start gaining weight, cause everyone's gonna notice.
21. The best feeling in the world is taking off your bra after a long day. #unchained
22. You can make your own sunshine.
23. "Jesus said all will be will, so all will be well."
24. If you can, wrap it in bacon.
25. Spoil your spouse. He deserves it.

13 Days New

Monday, February 24, 2014

I've been so excited about Sawyer's newborn pictures since I was 32 weeks pregnant, and we got out maternity pictures done. Our photographer, Chelsea Lietz, is truly a gem, and I'm so excited Pinterest brought us together.

Lady Love wasn't a huge fan of being a model (probably a good thing since she's bound to have her mamma's 5-foot frame), but Chelsea was so patient and got some wonderful pictures despite her constant protests/peeing on some of the props.

Now excuse me while I be "that" mom and post a zillion photos of my sweet butternut. I hope you like these, Sawyer, cause your mamma and daddy are definitely going to be showing these to all your boyfriends.

About a Boy

Friday, February 14, 2014

Since the chances of me putting on a non-milk saturated bra, actually fixing my hair, and going on a hot date with my main squeeze and our newborn are slimmer than the legs of that one Russian figure skater, a post for my valentine is about as romantic as I can get.

Two weeks ago we had our daughter. I know you know this. But what you don't know is how much more I fell in love with that guy I married because of it.

You don't realize how amazing the man whose hip you decided to forever attach yours to is until you're having his kid. He was/is our unsung hero during the whole process, the glue that kept me together when I felt like completely unraveling.

When you're fat and bloated and swollen and bleeding and emotional and almost incapable of doing anything for yourself, you worry if you'll ever be attractive to your husband again. Or at least I did. But somehow when I felt like a heinous Orka whale, Grahm made me feel more beautiful, loved, and taken care of than ever. I knew before I married him that he would make a wonderful father. And now watching him cuddle with Sawyer and make silly faces with her every night, my heart completely melts. He is completely selfless with his time, energy, and sleep during this new phase of our lives. I absolutely could not do it without him.

So this Valentine's Day we may not be going anywhere fancy pants or putting on anything special but our pajamas, but I've never been more certain that my valentine is the most wonderful man I've ever been lucky enough to know.

Happy Vday, Booger Buns. You have my heart always.

10 Signs You're A New Mom

Thursday, February 13, 2014

1. You've been in the same pair of sweatpants all week. (#LivingLarge)
2. The number of photos on your phone has just quadrupled. 
3. You have no idea what time of day it is, but you still want to nap.
4. You talk about poop on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
5. You're suddenly referring to your spouse as "daddy," and it's not real sexy.
6. Your idea of movie night is staring at your baby for hours and hours.
7. You use the word "cute" and "adorable" an ungodly amount of times per day.
8. You're now a master at the art of whispering and tip-toeing and pacifier-losing.
9. The words "leakage" and "my cup runneth over" have taken on entirely new meanings.
10. You've realized that the only person you really trust with the baby is your mom. (Sorry, hubs.)

Our Birth Story

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I have no idea what day it is. My house looks like a Babies R Us ran through it. I resemble a cross between a homeless man and a large cow. (Moo.) I smell. I ooze. My armpits are terrifying. My belly is jiggly. And I haven't had more than three hours of consecutive sleep in over a week... But I have never been so happy, so fulfilled, and so in love.

I'm sitting in my nursery, rocking my sweet daughter in my arms--just like I've always dreamed. I can't stop staring at her fiery red hair, her little lips that I love to kiss, and her tiny fingers clutching mine. She's our little miracle, our red-headed warrior who fought so bravely to be here with me. It's only been 10 days, and I can't imagine life without her.

I'm reminiscing on this last thrilling, terrifying, and tiring week. This birth story will probably be too long, but I don't care. I want to remember every detail of the best and worst day of our lives. (Pre-apologies for any and all oversharing.)

Wednesday had been an extremely exhausting day for me, which makes it sounds like I did more than eat pineapple and edit a few things... But false. I had done nothing. I emailed my team at work to tell them I would be taking a half day and proceeded to take a glorious four-hour nap on my couch.

When Grahm got home, we decided to get something to eat. Fried jalapeños sounded like the perfect way to get to our overdue daughter out of me, so off to Willies we went. We ate cheeseburgers, watched the Thunder slaughter the Heat (much to Grahm's enjoyment), and talked about our days. I complained a few times during dinner that my back was hurting, just like I had for the last nine months. Neither of us thought anything about it. I'm a whiner like that.

Later that night, I had Grahm hang the very last thing in the nursery. Sawyer must have known her little room was ready for her, because approximately two seconds later I had a mind numbing pain in my lower back. Like a thousand knives were stabbing me right in the kisser. I clutched my hindparts like it was the last jelly-filled donut in all the land. I shouted, "Oh my Gosh!" and then it was over. Short but not so sweet. I looked up to see my very wide-eyed husband. "Uh, uh... Are you okay?" "Yeah, I think so. That was weird. Now I have to pee." When I popped a squat on the pot, I soon realized that I had lost my mucous plug (I already apologized for the over sharing). This didn't mean labor was imminent, but it was on the horizon. I ran to Grahm and told him the good (albeit grody) news. He grimaced and then smiled before kissing me so sweetly. We didn't really say anything, but we both knew our time together as a family of two was coming to a close. Baby Girl was on her way. We just didn't realize how soon that would really be...

Before I had time to fully understand the impact of what was going on, I had another terrible back pain. This time it was worse. More concentrated. I didn't even have time to cry the millions of tears I wanted to shed before the next one started. I began yelling at Grahm. "This is early labor?? This can't be (bad word, bad word) early labor!" Our midwife told us the early labor stage would be ignorable. She recommended going on a date or taking a nice nap, anything to pretend like labor wasn't really happening. I would need my energy later, so it was best not to focus on what was happening. But this? This was about as ignorable as the zit I had on my chin for high school prom.

"Babe, we can do this," Grahm said calmly as he held me (more accurately: as I gripped his arm with surprising force for someone my size). "Just breathe with me. In and out. In and out. Focus on Sawyer. Our baby girl is coming!" I know he said many many other sweet things, but this is essentially the last thing I really remember. All I could focus on was getting through the pain.

"I can't do this. I absolutely can NOT do this if this is the beginning," I kept screaming between contractions, which were now coming a minute apart. Grahm, the poor man, then called our midwife and told her we were on our way to the birthing center. We had no idea how far along I was, but based on my contractions we were worried Sawyer was going to be delivered right there in our bedroom with only her daddy to catch her. Frantically, Grahm grabbed our bags. "Is there anything else we need? Did I forget anything?" he asked before escorting me to the car. "I don't (bad word) care if we have everything. Just get me to the (bad word) hospital!" I yelled. (Quite a delight, was I not?)

I don't remember the car ride. Grahm told me later I kept whispering Sawyer's name in between moaning, yelling, and clutching my back... A sign to him that I really was out of it. I don't really remember even arriving to the birthing center with my two kind midwives there to greet us. I just remember they checked my dilation and told me I was only 3 cm.

It was then I cried. It was ugly, crazy lady, think-I'm-gonna-die, projectile tears. 3 cm? Three? There was no way that's right.

Somehow they got me into the tub. The warm water felt nice, but it was like throwing Neosporin on a gaping wound. I continued to have contractions. Though it helped to have the support of Grahm and the midwives, I knew there was no way I was going to make it to ten centimeters. This was only the beginning, and I felt like I was going to die. The back labor was too intense.

We weren't there long before we decided to do a transfer of care to the hospital. I cried. A lot. I kept saying that I felt like a failure because I did. They told me though I was 1 in 100. Labor isn't usually this intense this early (lucky me); I was laboring like I was 9 cm not a depressing 3.

Another car trip to the hospital across the street. The hospital has a lot of construction going on so finding an entrance was like discovering Atlantis and a ten-day backpacking trip all in one. I remember being wheeled up by my midwife while Grahm parked the car. I had a contraction right outside the sliding glass doors. I stood up, hugged my midwife while she put pressure on my back, and moaned. When I could sit again, I realized two small children had witnessed the entire spectacle. Poor things are probably scarred for life because of the large lady who sounded like a dying ostrich. Finally, I was in a bed. I had on a hospital gown that I'm sure someone had died in yesterday, but I was optimistic. Relief was on its way. Baby Girl would be here soon.

Except that it wasn't. She wasn't. Over an hour later (from birthing center to hospital bed), I was still only 3 cm. The doctor wanted me to be 4 cm before he administered the epidural. Bastard. The squeaky wheel may get the oil, but the large and extremely loud pregnant woman apparently does not get the epidural. Grahm and my two midwives helped me through more contractions. We tried different positions to speed up the progression of labor, but I was feeling no relief for my back. I felt like a big ball of fire and failure.

Almost two hours later, I was finally being wheeled into another room. My main midwife left. There was nothing else she could do, and there was a number cap on people in our room. The anesthesiologist took his sweet time coming to my room. When he finally did arrive, I was 6 cm and contracting harder than ever. He told me, "You can't move while I put this in you. Don't touch your back." I wanted to slap him, but I didn't because I wanted my own relief more than I wanted his pain. It's amazing the nurse still has her arm from all the squeezing I did. I had three contractions while he stuck me with the biggest and sweetest of needles in the entire world. I still have no idea how I don't have extensive nerve damage. It was a miracle I was able to stay still.

Relief then came, and it was glorious. While we waited for me to fully dilate, the nurse broke my water with a long, skinny poker that looked like a chopstick. It was then she saw that Sawyer had pooped in the womb (meconium). She alerted us to this, but told us it was nothing to be overly concerned with. "Just something to be aware of," she explained.

A few hours and several text messages later (sorry to everyone who received a text from me at 3 am), the doctor came in and told me I was fully dilated. It was time to push. I was cracking jokes and feeling great. My socks were neon-colored and mismatched (of course) as I placed them in the stirrups. My hair was in a high pony tail, and I had zero makeup to my name... I looked like a 15-year-old cheerleader. But I was ready.

"Alright, Jena. Push toward your butt. Ready? Go!" First of all, it's a very hard thing to push toward something you can no longer feel. It's also a little unnerving to have a swarm of doctors and nurses all staring at your tinkle taco, waiting for you to make something happen. That's a lot of pressure. To make matters worse, Sawyer was sunnyside up (the reason for my intense back labor) and she kept getting "stuck" when I pushed. After 30 minutes of unproductive pushing, they turned my epidural off so I could feel the contractions again and push when I was supposed to. (The words "epidural" and "off" should really never be uttered to a woman in labor. FYI.)

Another hour went by, and I still hadn't budged her. But I was starting to feel the contractions again. My temperature was 102, and Sawyer's heart rate suddenly skyrocketed to 190. I was crying out in pain again. Before we knew it, the small room was a cluster. Doctors and nurses seemed to be in every nook and cranny staring at my every nook and cranny. The main doctor, I still don't know her name, told us that we really needed to take me back for a c-section. Sawyer's heart rate and meconium and my temperature/inability to push her out were beyond worrisome. No part of me wanted a c-section. No part of me wanted to agree.

They wheeled me away to prep me for surgery. I remember calling out for Grahm and crying in pain. They weren't going to let him back until I was prepped for surgery. He told me later that he had stayed in the room and cried. Everything was happening so fast. It seemed like it was all spinning out of our control.

It seemed like ages later when they finally called him back. We were now ready to get Sawyer out. He sat beside me, holding my hand and whispering encouraging things. They wouldn't allow him to stand to see past the horrid blue curtain that separated us from our daughter. Neither of us really knew what was going on, but we were excited. We were only moments away from holding our sweet baby girl ...or so we thought.

It was incredibly frustrating not knowing what was going on. "What's happening? What's happening?" I kept asking like an annoying parrot. Finally I heard a voice say, "Girl. 9:10." At first, we thought that was the weight (holy chunk!). But then we realized that was the time of birth. At the same time I realized that, I realized that she wasn't crying. She was completely silent, and it was deafening.

It was a moment I'll never forget. A moment I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My baby wasn't crying, and I couldn't see what was happening. All Grahm and I could do was hold each other's hands and cry. I kept asking the doctors around me, "What's wrong? Where is my baby? Why can't I hear her?" Their only response was, "She's in good hands." It did nothing to ease ever-wandering mind, which kept jumping from one horrible situation to the next. Grahm tried to comfort me, to pray for our sweet daughter that we had yet to see, but he was just as terrified. It's an inexplicable feeling, really. The moment you have been planning for, hoping for, excited for for so long suddenly turning into the most horrifying minute of your life.

They wheeled her by us before rushing her to the NICU. The nurse paused briefly so we could see her for the first time. She was white as a sheet, and her big eyes were looking around. I didn't get to hold her. Or touch her. Or tell her that I love her and I'm her mommy. I just laid there, clutching Grahm, and bawling. Still we had no idea what was going so terribly wrong. All I wanted was to hold her. All I wanted was for her to be okay.

An excruciating six hours later, we finally got to go up to the NICU to see her. This is what she looked like.
We still didn't get to hold her. We could only sit and stare at our little girl hooked up to so many wires. She looked so tiny. So innocent. Forget the back labor. Forget the contractions during my epidural administration. This was the hardest part. Seeing her, but not scooping her up in my arms and smothering her with kisses.

It killed me to see her like this. To have these nurses making decisions for my baby. They heard her every cry. They got to console her. They changed all her diapers. They swaddled her. They fed her. I was an emotional wreck. I felt like I was missing everything while I was stuck in my own room on the floor below. I couldn't be up there as much as I wanted because the nurses and doctors wanted me to take it easy to focus on my own recovery.

The next day we finally got to hold her. It was magical despite the breathing tubes, the IVs, the wires. We even tried breastfeeding though my milk had yet to arrive. I had to have a blood transfusion because I hemorrhaged during the c-section, so I didn't get to see her for the rest of the day. That was the hardest day yet.
Every day our little girl got stronger. Every day we made progress. By the third day, we knew she was going to be okay. The infection in my amniotic fluid (chorio) and the ghastly amounts of meconium she inhaled didn't get her down. Much to the doctor's amazement, she fought through it and is now so healthy and strong.

After five days, we finally got to go home. She's taken so well to breastfeeding despite our separation and having been fed lots of formula her first few days of life. We fall more in love with her every day, and we are so crazy thankful for our little miracle. God is truly the author and giver of life. Though our birth went nothing according to our plan, it was comforting to know nothing happened outside of His knowledge and wisdom.

Thanks to everyone's love and amazing support! Sawyer Marie is a very strong, very loved little lady.

Sawyer Marie

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sawyer Marie Roach is here. She was born January 30 at 910 in the morning. She's 7 pounds 12 oz, 20 inches long, and the best snuggler around.
We are completely in love with our red-headed beauty, who has spent the last five days fighting so bravely in the NICU. We are set to be discharged tonight or early tomorrow. I'll write our birth story later, but for now I just wanted the world to know about our perfect bundle of joy. 

Thank you for all your prayers and support. Our God is truly great!