Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween

Four years ago today, I added the title of Dr. to my name, and Brad and I have gone out to dinner to celebrate each Halloween night since then.

Tonight, I'll be passing out candy to trick-or-treaters with my little pumpkin. Life has changed!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

book club fail

In over nine years of my book club, I've only missed three of our 97 meetings: June of 2005 for a stats class, January of 2008 because I was out of town, and September of 2011 because Mason was only 12 days old. However, nothing kept me from reading and finishing every book by the meeting, not even a PhD program or training for marathons.

But then Mason was born.

I missed September's meeting, but I still read the book. (I finished it before he was born, which now I understand, was key.) October's book selection, Juliet, Naked, sadly fell by the wayside, and I had only read a measly 123 of its 400+ pages by the meeting. I still went, and Mason made his debut at book club. When he started fussing (evenings are not his forte), the other members understood why I hadn't finished the book.

It's not like I haven't been reading since Mason was born. Children's books should count for something!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I love the SwaddleMe blankets. I don't know what we would do without them. But, sometimes I go into Mason's room, and I see this.

No matter how tightly I pull the material and how many times I check to make sure it's secure, my big, strong boy manages to break out. And he's been doing this since he was four days old.

Monday, October 24, 2011

holiday cards: planning ahead

I strive to accomplish two tasks by December 1st: have the tree up and decorated and place my stack of Christmas cards in the mail. With a newborn this year, we'll see if either gets done at all, let alone by December 1st. However, it's only October and I already have the photo for our Christmas card, which is usually half the battle. There's still hope. 

Hands down, my photo card designer of choice for any occasion is Tiny Prints. Their elegance, selection, and quality can't be beat. I already have Mason's birth announcements picked out, and I've had a ball browsing their holiday line recently.

I tend to be a new classic or a vintage type of girl.  Here are some of my favorites.

I love this card's simple elegance.

Most Merry

I'm also a sucker for cards with multiple images that fold in neat ways.
Studio Shots

I can't resist the full bleed photo cards, though. The photo is the focus of the card, rather than the text, which I love.

Snow Blooms

Blessings Be Yours

How will I ever choose?

Disclosure: Tiny Prints provided me 50 free Christmas cards for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October recipe challenge: making dinner again

It's been a lovely month off from cooking while getting to know Mason and adjusting to my new life. We've been blessed with baby meals; I've done little more than reheat a dish in the microwave since Mason arrived.

On Mason's four-week birthday, I cooked my first post-baby meal, which I am counting as my October challenge. It was an easy meal, but just getting any food on the table these days with a newborn and his constant demands is challenge enough. And, I made this meal on a Saturday, which meant Brad was home and watching Mason while I did the (minimal) prep work. My next challenge should involve making dinner on a weeknight when Brad isn't here to help me.

I made rare tuna with a slight sear, one of my favorite homemade meals that was off limits during pregnancy. Leftover tomato and basil made for some tasty bruschetta and nothing beats steamed, fresh green beans drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon and topped off with cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Simple, yet perfect.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

budding blogger

For years, I've tried to get Brad to write a guest post here on Dr. Blondie, but to no avail. But providing him a son and creating a blog for said son has motivated Brad to write a couple posts for Mason. Who knew that would be the trick?

Tennessee fans will get a kick out of Brad's latest post, and you'll probably understand it much better than I did.

Monday, October 17, 2011

the weepies

The exhaustion? Yes, I expected it. The physical discomforts associated with recovering from childbirth? Yes, to some extent, I knew what I was in for. The emotions? Well, I expected tears when the baby was born and maybe a few stress-induced breakdowns later on. But oh my goodness, I was not at all prepared for this emotional roller coaster I've been on for a month now. Will I ever stop weeping?

The tears began during my last week of pregnancy. Change was imminent. I wept during Mason's birth and I haven't stopped joyfully crying since then. I was a hot mess the day we came home from the hospital. The nurse who wheeled Mason and me to the car patted my shoulder and gently said, "It's okay, honey. We've all been there."

A nurse from my fertility doctor called me 10 days after Mason arrived. I hadn't communicated with them since they released me to my OB in early February, and she was calling to follow up. When she identified herself on the phone, I could barely choke out the words, "We have a son!"

Children's movies have always made me cry, and now I'm finding that children's books do, too. What new mother can keep her eyes dry when reading a book that begins like this:
"A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
my baby you'll be."
Losing it while reading Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is understandable. But why do I weep when reading Big Red Barn?

Mason looks so different now than he did a month ago. His cheeks are fuller and his hair is thicker. He's bigger and more alert. He's a great eater and a pretty good sleeper. He likes a schedule. These are all good things. So why does his growing up twist my heart so painfully? I finally gave in last week and moved him from newborn to size 1 diapers, something I probably should have done the week before. Of course, afterward, I was thankful for fewer leaks, but guess what? I wept.

I knew it would, but it's all going by so fast. Too fast.

Do I have a case of the baby blues? I don't feel blue, though. I feel so happy and thankful and grateful. And, at times, so fragile, and like I still can't quite believe that this all worked out and Mason is really here.

Experienced mamas, do tell . . .  is this just a stage? Or should I expect to weep for the rest of my life?

Friday, October 14, 2011

hot harvest

I'm all for adding spice to my life (and my palate), but what on earth should I do with all of these jalapeno peppers, recently harvested from my one measly jalapeno plant? I picked at least 30 peppers, and there are still more to come.

I can try Pioneer Woman's jalapeno poppers recipe, which sounds delicious, but I'd need to throw a party to have enough people to consume all of these poppers in one sitting.

Any other ideas? Should I dice them up and freeze them?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

why settle for one when you can do both?

I'm all for running throughout pregnancy if one is able to and wants to, but this is a little crazy! My friend and I have debated whether running a marathon or giving birth is the more difficult endeavor, but I think this woman just trumped us both.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mason's Moments

I've launched Mason's digital baby album, which is essentially his blog. Many of you have asked for more pictures and stories, and even though his blog isn't quite caught up yet, I promise that I've already posted more there than you probably care to see. So, check it out if you wish. Or not. I totally understand that 95% of what's on his blog is probably only interesting to Brad and me.

There will be some crossover between Mason's Moments and Dr. Blondie, but I hope to keep it to a minimum. Regardless, Mason's blog will contain cute pictures and brief stories, but the majority of the writing (and all of the commentary, emotional breakdowns, and oversharing) will stay here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

homecoming outfit: FAIL

Throughout pregnancy, I vowed that my child would not come home from the hospital in a gender-neutral outfit. I don't know why, but it was one menial detail that was very important to me. A few weeks before Mason was born, Brad and I went shopping for two homecoming outfits: one for a girl and another for a boy. Because our ultrasounds had predicted a big baby, we deliberated the size to buy. All of the newborn size outfits we found were clearly marked for babies weighing 5-8 pounds. The next size up, 0-3 months, was suggested for babies weighing 8-12 pounds. Perfect, we thought! This size should fit our anticipated 9-10 pound baby well. Even though the 0-3 months outfits looked large to us, we bought them anyway. And because we were already wasting money on one outfit that wouldn't be worn, which turned out to be the little girl's dress, we didn't want to waste more money by buying gender-specific outfits in multiple sizes.

We clipped the tags, washed both outfits, and stuck them in the suitcase. But then I started to have doubts. What if the ultrasounds were wrong? (They weren't.) What if the baby came early and therefore wasn't as big as we expected? (That didn't happen.) In a last-minute moment of panic, I washed a tiny, gender-neutral, newborn-size sleeper that I had received as a shower gift and stuck it in the suitcase, just in case.

When I pulled out our little boy outfit to dress Mason on the day we came home from the hospital, I realized that Brad and I had made our first parenting mistake.

The pants alone could have covered Mason's entire body. I sighed and pulled out the little gender-neutral ducky outfit, which fit him perfectly. It wasn't what I had dreamed of and it wasn't an outfit I had even chosen myself, but he still looked cute, and most importantly, he was here, healthy, and going home with us. At least we didn't have to take him home in only a diaper!

Mason's original homecoming outfit is now hanging in his closet, waiting for the day when, Lord willing, he's big enough to wear it, which will certainly occur long before I'm ready.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mason's birth story

Let's revisit my first week of maternity leave, before Mason was born, shall we?

I believe when I last updated this blog before Mason's birth, I was walking. And walking. And walking. I ran two miles and walked 16 miles from Monday through Friday of that week, bringing me to a grand total of 18 miles in five days. Not bad!

I had my 40-week appointment (well, 40 weeks and two days) that Friday morning, September 16th. My doctor said that everything looked good, and I had made a tiny bit of progress since the prior week's appointment, but I felt disappointed that my 18 miles didn't result in more noticeable progress. She said I could walk all I wanted to, but it was impossible to know what would send me into labor and when it would happen.

After my appointment, I drove to the grocery store to buy ingredients to make an eggplant parmigiana dish famous for sending women into labor. Supposedly, over 300 pregnant women have delivered babies within 48 hours of eating this Atlanta restaurant's eggplant parmigiana. A friend sent me the link and I figured, "Why not?"

I cut the recipe in half because I knew I'd be the only one eating it (Brad hates eggplant parmigiana), but it still took me 2.5 hours to make the dish. Now I know why women who make this recipe go into labor soon afterward--it's cumbersome and it takes forever! (Side note: It's too bad I had already completed September's recipe challenge because otherwise this eggplant parmigiana would have counted. Spending 2.5 hours making any meal when you're over 40 weeks pregnant classifies as a challenge in my book.)

I wasn't feeling great on Friday morning, but I blamed my tiredness and sore back on making the eggplant parmigiana. I ate a huge piece of it for lunch, and didn't feel well at all. I had planned to go out for another long walk on Friday afternoon, but soon decided that lounging on the couch was a better idea. My tummy felt crampy and my lower back ached. I couldn't even read my book because the words swam before my eyes, so I laid on the couch for three hours and watched TV instead--something I NEVER do. I should have known that something was up.

I tried to nap between 4-5 PM, but it was a wasted effort because my belly pains kept waking me. Brad came home from work and we began timing my "aches" and were startled to discover they were coming regularly every 5-6 minutes.

Brad and I launched into productive mode. In between contractions, we finished packing our hospital bags, ate dinner, ran the dishwasher, threw a load of towels in the washer and then the dryer, collected and took out the garbage, and finished writing a few thank you notes. Well, Brad actually did most of these tasks while I gave plenty of instructions from bed. Our little baby had already been so accommodating in allowing me to finish work and Brad to get through his Congressional hearing and finish out the work week, we were delighted that he let us get our chores around the house done before we left for the hospital. I'll say it again: what an obedient baby!

We left for the hospital just after midnight on Saturday, September 17th, and paused for a moment to take this picture with the timer on our camera. I'm so glad we did--it's the last picture we have before Mason arrived and took over our house!

Do I look like I'm in pain here? I was. Very much so.
On the way to the hospital, we swung by a mailbox to drop off those thank you notes we had finished that evening. Why wouldn't we? It was on our way to the hospital and we didn't want to forget to mail them.

We arrived at Sibley, thankfully, during a lull and were able to get a labor, delivery, and recovery room. Apparently, that evening had resulted in a crazy birth explosion and the hospital had run out of rooms, so women had to labor in the waiting room. We also heard that the rest of the weekend in labor and delivery was just crazy, so we're thankful that the Lord and our little guy timed things just right!

Brad and I walked the halls of Sibley as I labored, hoping to move things along a bit. At 3 AM, the nurse checked me and said I could have the epidural, which arrived around 4 AM. It was like pure magic coursing through my veins! Kudos to those of you who have a high threshold for pain and can birth babies without drugs. I could never do it, and now having had the epidural and experiencing its magic, I never want to try.

One other beautiful aspect of the epidural is that Brad and I were able to go to sleep pretty quickly and we rested until 7 AM, when they woke me to break my water, and then we slept again until 9 AM. I believe those five hours of sleep gave me the necessary energy to push, which took much more concentration and energy than I ever could have imagined.

Breaking my water moved things along fairly quickly, and I began pushing at 11:19 AM and Mason was born at 12:10 PM. I was so relieved that Mason, being a heavy, chubby baby with a big head, fit through my pelvis and I was able to push him out in under an hour. Praise God for that. As one of my friends reminded me a few weeks ago, after I told her what the ultrasounds were predicting in terms of the baby's size, "God made that baby for your pelvis." She was right!

My epidural began to wear off before pushing began, and a second dose of it didn't relieve my pain. But, amazingly enough, pushing did. I ended up doing a couple of things that I never imagined agreeing to pre-labor, such as checking Mason's arrival progress in a mirror and touching his head as it began to emerge. When these tips were suggested in our childbirth class, I squirmed and swore that I wasn't interested. And I'm not sure what changed my mind during labor, but I'm so glad that I did both of these things. It was incredibly motivating to see and feel progress. It made me push better and harder. And it made me more anxious and excited to get our baby out and to meet him.

The actual delivery is such a blur in my mind. I vaguely remember the nurse telling me to look down to see the baby coming out. Then I remember her calmly saying, "Wrapped cord. Wrapped cord." I remember hearing Brad exclaim, "It's a boy!" right as I looked down and saw that the baby was, in fact, a boy. Then the doctor whisked the baby away, presumably to unwrap the cord from around his neck and make sure he was okay. Then Mason cried, and I sobbed. Then they plopped this wet, writhing baby with fuzzy hair on my chest, and I wept with joy and gratitude. Brad was standing behind Mason, over my left shoulder, and Mason heard his daddy's voice, and looked back up at him. Our hearts have not been the same since that moment. 

I wept throughout much of labor, especially the pushing stage, but it wasn't because of the pain. It was because I couldn't believe it was really happening. We were having a baby! It really could work out for us. God had answered our prayers. He does that, you know.

Mason's very first picture, moments after he was born

Mason's first picture with daddy