James' dad had tickets to the BYU football game in the box seats, so how could we pass it up? Free food? No annoying fans? And Claire got to support her favorite team, the cougs. Actually, she pretty much slept through the entire game and then got upset until we let her sit in her very own seat.
I'm sure some of you that read my blog happen to know about my sweet niece, Abigail, and her courageous parents, Jani and Jesse. Abigail was born five days after Claire with several serious heart defects. Just four days after she was born, Abigail had open-heart surgery, one of three that will take place before she reaches the age of 5. I remember what it felt like, those first days after Abigail's birth. I remember looking at Claire, her perfectly functioning body, and just weeping out of gratitude for her health, and out of mourning for Abigail. This sweet little angel with curly peach-colored hair. Lying there in her tiny little hospital bed, her first experience of life in utter pain. I could barely look at my sister-in-law, Jani, without feeling almost guilty, shameful, for having a healthy child. It was so unfair. But she and Jesse were more courageous and faithful than anyone I had ever met. If anyone could overcome a trial such as this, they could. Their optimism and gratitude towards Abigail's condition floored me. Perspective. Perspective is something I have a hard time with every now and then. Within days, Jani and Jesse were able to take Abigail home from the hospital. But, they took a little of the hospital home with them. Abigail had to be constantly connected to a monitor, oxygen, and a feeding tube for several weeks. Jani couldn't even carry her child into the next room without having to have the assistance of someone else to carry all of the machines Abigail was connected to. To top it off, the monitor would send off an alarm if Abigail's oxygen levels got low, which happened at a constant rate.This trial for Jani and Jesse is something hopefully none of us will ever have to endure. Miraculously, however, Abigail soon began to act like a normal, sweet baby. Abigail's sweet personality began to shine. She is so easy to laugh. Abigail has taught me so much. This child has gone through more physical pain in her short time on earth than most of us will ever experience, yet she still smiles away. Perspective. I am writing about all of this now because Abigail just had her second surgery two days ago. Although she is recovering at a miraculous rate and shows signs of such will, this time it is much more difficult for me to see her. Abigail often awakes in a panic, wondering why she is in such pain, calling out for her mother. It is so difficult to see her look into your eyes. Every look from her pierces me. You can see it; she is crying out for help. She wants so badly for the pain to go away, to be snuggled by her mother. And how difficult it must be for her parents, knowing that there is nothing they can do but try to soothe her and get her to rest. Today, as I watched poor little Abigail lie there in such discomfort, I thought to myself, "Why does this little baby have to go through so much?" Maybe she is here to teach us all something. I wish it didn't have to take a sweet, sick baby for me to learn about gratitude, but I am grateful. Abigail, we hope you make a quick recovery! We love you! And thank you for all you have taught us!
All you seamstresses out there, be gentle with your criticism, because this is my very first attempt at sewing anything... if you don't count that one time I made pajama pants at girl's camp and sewed shut the waist...
I got the wonderful pattern from this book... my great friend Alicia gave me the book for Claire's baby shower. Such a cute gift idea, right? My next attempt might be a little doll like this, for Claire's Christmas gift.
Claire is usually really bad about tummy time. She has had the capability of lifting her head up for a long time, but now she just prefers putting her head down and sucking her fists instead. Well, I figured out how to get this girl to keep her head up. Yep, watching a video of herself. What a diva.
The tomatoes and basil in our garden are just about dead, so we enjoyed one last caprese salad for lunch. And it was delicious. P.S. - I know its kind of gross that I put this plate on the floor to take pictures, but it makes me want to have an old wood table because the contrast of the white plate is so pretty!
I couldn't resist. I had to upload this video. It's a little long until it gets to the good part, but the wait is totally worth it, at least to me. You know how parents always think their kid is the cutest thing ever, even when you think they really aren't that cute? I wonder if Claire is genuinely cute, like gerber baby cute, or if I'm under some illusion. Either way, I still think she is the most beautiful, adorable, sweet baby that ever lived.
James and I decided that from now on, we are going to make a true effort to set holiday traditions because we have both experienced one too many Halloweens, Thanksgivings, and Christmas', that crept up on us before we could even enjoy them. We were reminiscing how, when we were kids, the holiday season was more enjoyable, and it was because of the traditions our parents set at home and the activities we did in school. But mainly, it was because we were kids and I think kids are much better at finding and holding onto joy. So, this week James, Claire, and I did some simple planning, like making a Halloween station on Pandora Radio, buying and making Halloween decorations, making an effort to come up with a good Halloween costume, and, doing what the Alexander's do best, eating delicious treats. Today I made the best butternut squash soup ever. The recipe doesn't normally call for it, but we added sour cream and bacon pieces to it, and it was the perfect salty contrast to the sweet taste of butternut squash. Dinner was followed by homemade pumpkin rolls that were so delicious. And finally, we put our decorations up and got to enjoy our new jack-o-lanters! I am so excited to share such a wonderful time with my baby girl. I can't wait for her to get old enough to recognize and enjoy how special times like these are. What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Last night was one of those nights I went to bed knowing that I would be a sick pup in the morning. Surprise, surprise. Swollen throat, body aches... the works. Mr. Alexander made me a delicious cup of tea and scrambled eggs for breakfast, which was eaten in bed. Autumn is here, which means I can drink tea every morning. There isn't a better start to the day, right? Anyway, Claire and I spent the majority of the day hanging out in bed and James read Pride and Prejudice out loud to us for a little while. A man who drinks tea and loves Jane Austen is a man after my own heart. Claire did some of her own entertaining as well. She sure knows how to make a sick lady's day.
The frequency of entries I post is a parallel to just about everything
in my life. I tend to get in the habit of doing the things I should, and
then one day I don't and it takes a while before I get into the habit
of doing them again. I can't promise that I will be able to keep this
up, but I will try.
Lately, my life has revolved around Claire, school, Claire, cleaning the house, and Claire. And that's the way I like it. I'm addicted to this girl. Sometimes, I don't even want to lay her in bed when she takes a nap, so I just hold her and look at her. James and I awake to the sounds of her giggling in her crib. She is in love with the wood-carved bird mobile that her Auntie, Lauren, got for her. Claire is 3 months old today! How did that happen? Speaking of which, it has been about 3 months since James and I went on a real date. A date! Oh, what I would do for a date. I would gladly take a trip to Wendy's and a dollar movie. See, I can be cheap! Babysitters, anyone? Not that I don't love being with Claire day in and day out, but I need some time with James. I realized the other day that I tell Claire I love her about 100 times a day and I tell James I love him about twice. This is sad. I need to be a better wife. Finding the balance between motherhood and being a wife is kind of difficult, don't you think? Also, Claire has discovered her own spit, and now plays with it constantly. She was already a drooler, but now, her slime is everywhere.... oh my gosh, I know what Claire is going to be for Halloween...
Finally. Little baby Claire is here. I cannot describe to you the overwhelming feelings of joy, inadequacy, and adoration I have felt this past week. As I write, little Claire is asleep in her stroller with sounds of ocean waves soothing her. James is in his office, working, but every now and then he will pop his head out of the door and gaze at our sleeping daughter. It's difficult to explain how I feel. Sometimes I will look at her and just start crying out of joy for having such a beautiful, perfect being in our home. Other times I feel completely lost, thinking about how this child relies completely on me, and that if I were to neglect her, she would not survive this world. The events leading up to Claire's arrival are as follows: On Monday morning, June 27th I had been experiencing some light contractions. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law invited me to go to the pool and relax. After being at the pool for a couple of hours, I started to feel kind of strange and went home. That night at around 6 p.m. right as James and I sat down to watch a movie, light contractions started turning into not so light contractions. About an hour into the movie, I asked James to start timing the contractions. They were between 7 and 10 minutes apart so we decided to go on a walk and see if they wouldn't get closer together. At around midnight, James' mother and my sister came over. We chatted for a bit, then James and I went to our room and continued to relax and use our birthing affirmations to get through each surge. At around 2 a.m. I decided it was time to go to the hospital so James packed the car and we headed over. Upon arrival, I was given a room and was told that if I hadn't dilated much that I could go home if I wanted to. I really wanted to go home if I hadn't dilated much, so it was unfortunate when my water broke about ten minutes later, because I had no choice but to stay at the hospital even when I was only dilated 1 cm. Well, several hours of very active labor passed by. I spent most of that time resting, relying on James to help me go into deep relaxation, walking the halls, etc. Then, out of nowhere, contractions simply stopped. For an hour nothing happened. The doctor came and spoke to us about getting pitocin to start up the contractions again. That's the last thing I wanted to do, so we asked the doc if we could have some more time and do some other things to help start up contractions again naturally before we considered doing pitocin, and he consented. We tried everything and nothing worked. Several hours went by and still, nothing happened. If it hadn't have been for my water breaking, I would have gone home. I wanted to go home so badly. But I had already been laboring for almost 24 hours and I knew this little girl needed to come out soon. And believe it or not, but after 17 hours of active labor, I had still only dilated 1 cm. At about 11 a.m., I consented to getting pitocin. I knew it was going to be a rocky road from here on out, because I knew pitocin acted differently than my body's own oxytocin. Pitocin makes contractions much more intense right from the get-go. There is no ease into a contraction. My research was confirmed after a couple of hours of being on pitocin. I can't even describe the place I had to go in my mind to try to comfort myself during these contractions. One second, I would feel o.k., and the next second I felt like I had gotten hit by a truck. It was so hard not to just moan in agony for the first fifteen seconds or so until I could calm myself down and begin to relax through my contraction. If any of you are familiar with hypnobirthing methods, the "finger press" proved to work wonders. I was amazed how easy it was for me to slip into a state of deep relaxation once I remembered to press my pointer finger and thumb together upon exhaling. Getting to that point, however, was easier said than done. The pain was so agonizing at the onset of each contraction that my senses started to numb. My sight and hearing in particular were beginning to fade. My poor little sister had to step out of the hospital room a couple of times because she couldn't stand seeing me like that. At 6:00 p.m., about 7 hours after getting pitocin, I had only dilated 2 more centimeters. Upon hearing the news, I immediately broke down. How could that be? I had been laboring for 24 hours and I hadn't even made it 1/3 of the way there. I knew that I couldn't last 7 more centimeters. I knew that if I didn't get the epidural now, I wouldn't have the strength to push when I needed to, and that the doctor would have to pull the baby out, or worse, an emergency c-section would have to be performed. So, after laboring for over 24 hours naturally, I got an epidural. I'm not going to lie, it felt amazing. Other than not being able to feel my legs, I was feeling pretty great. I slept for several hours, and by 10:00, I had dilated to 10 cm! Perhaps my body just needed some rest. By the time my body started to feel like it was ready to push, the epidural had worn off. As painful as it was, I was glad that it had worn off because I wanted to avoid pushing so hard that I would tear. The last two hours of labor were especially life changing. In between those urges to breath my baby down and out, I had some of the strangest sensations. I lost all track of time, for one. I had no concept of it. I was so deep into my body that I sometimes forgot to breath. Those moments were some of the most sacred and humbling of my life. My mother-in-law was on one side of me, my sister on the other, and my husband right next to my ear, whispering encouraging thoughts, holding my hand, stroking my arms. The support I had in that room was overwhelming. My two sister-in-laws, Chelsea and Jani were there as well. When baby Claire's head crowned, I reached down and felt her sweet little head. I was overcome with joy, and truly realized for the first time that I had created life, and she was almost in my arms. I had a huge surge of energy just then, and had the urge to breath her out into the world. I felt like I was screaming, but after the event, everyone in the room told me I looked incredibly calm. With a couple of final pushes, baby Claire finally arrived. The doctor immediately placed her in my arms, and the most incredible thing happened. Claire took some deep breaths in and then just stared into my eyes. She didn't even cry! I just sat there with baby Claire in my arms, looking from her to James and back to her. She was finally here! After waiting for the umbilical chord to stop pulsating, I fed Claire right there in the labor room. She latched on perfectly. I was so grateful to be able to hold my daughter for a long time before my husband took her for a bath. I am so grateful to have a healthy baby and a succesful labor and delivery. As much as I wanted to do a natural birth, I'm glad I got to experience at least 24 hours of it along with the delivery naturally. I'm glad I was able to accept that getting the epidural was what was best for my baby, because my body couldn't have done it without a little rest. I had been awake for over 41 hours; a 3 hour nap was much needed. Claire is now two and a half weeks old. I can't believe how much older she seems already! Last night James, Claire and I were just hanging out in our bed, watching a movie, and for the first time I really felt like we were a true family. My family.
James and I were on our way home from our daily adventure (we tried out a Chinese Buffet close to our house - since we don't have a car) when we were surprised by this beautiful butterfly in our front yard. it was so gorgeous and big. it brightened my day. thank you, little butterfly. don't you love when little things like that happen?
I am going to be really unfair today. I'm sorry, but i have to. I guess I could write down all of my problems with today in a personal journal so no one else can read it, but hey, its the 21st century!
I wish I could say this has been a really great week. I mean, I'm not homeless, my family is alive, I've got a wonderful husband... Why can't I just be happy with that? But, I'm going to write about all the terrible things that have happened this week just to self-justify my whining.
#1 - I got my hair dyed (good) and it looks great, but since my hair is so darn thick (bad) the hair salon decides to charge me three times the normal amount because they had to use extra dye. Then, because I'm a sucker, I ended up buying the expensive shampoo I know I can't afford just so my dye doesn't come out of my hair prematurely. So, over 200 dollars later, I've got slightly darker hair and no split ends... doesn't seem like a fair trade.
#2 - Our car started to overheat last weekend so we have resorted to the old fashioned way of getting from point A to point B - walking. Walking is wonderful. I love an excuse to be outside, and I'm hoping extended periods of walking gets this baby to come soon, but my laundry basket is full and I'm not about to carry it a couple miles to wash clothes, and I feel so bad asking friends and family to cart me around to run errands.
#3 - Husband decides to take the car in to the shop on Monday, but, as fate would have it, he got in a car accident on the way there... what are the odds? The insurance company has yet to determine whether to fix it or call it totaled, so we very well may be having to buy a car. Thankfully, James is perfectly fine, but imagine the horrible thoughts that would go through your head if your husband got in a car accident two weeks before your baby is due. Two weeks! I don't even want to think about it. And I spent all that time installing the car seat for no good reason! And how am I supposed to get to the hospital if I go into labor tonight? And how am I supposed to get baby Claire home from the hospital if I make it there?
#4 - Week 38 of pregnancy is not faring well for the Alexander household. Walking has become an incredibly difficult chore, and speaking of chores, I attempted to clean the house today and was rewarded with a newly discovered stretch mark, among other unspeakable physical ailments. I won't even get into that. Plus side is, I haven't gained any weight in the past two weeks... it's sad that NOT gaining weight has become the new standard for celebration. Plus, I just want to meet this little girl growing inside of me. I want to hold her and feed her. Even changing her diaper and staying up all night sounds like complete happiness to me. I am getting more and more anxious for labor and delivery as well. I am not afraid of the actual event, I am just afraid that the doctors will try to induce me if I don't go into labor a week after my due date. And in my family, our babies stay in there for a while. For a mother who wants to birth her child without an epidural, getting induced is the very last thing I want to happen. As much as I don't want to be pregnant anymore, I want this baby to come when she is ready, not on my or my doctor's schedule.
#5 - The whole "everyone thinks they have a right to touch my belly" thing is something I could care less about. I'm totally fine with total strangers touching my belly. It's kind of fun, and I like seeing the joy in other's faces when they acknowledge the miracle of pregnancy and child birth. One thing I cannot stand, however, is the people who think they have the right to offer advice whenever they want. If I get one more person telling me "Oh, just wait until that baby is born, then you will REALLY be tired" or "You'll be begging for that epidural" or the worst one "You'll never have the body you want ever again" I think I'll.. I don't know what. But it would be something bad. Can't you say something like, "Babies are a joy" or "More power to you for a natural birth" or "If you put your mind to it, you can get your body back in shape". This is not the time to tell me I can't do something. What good are you doing by telling me that? I already cry in the shower daily when I look at my ruined and disfigured body. Don't get on your soap box and use me to make you feel better about yourself. Wow. That was really harsh. But I don't think I will erase that sentence. I wish I could just blow off their remarks, but all I can think is that I will NEVER tell anyone they can't do something or discourage them from achieving their goals.
#6 - My sister called me and said that her sweet boyfriend had surprised her by taking her to the beach. I should be happy for her, right? Well, of course I was happy for her. But then, I started thinking about the beach, and thinking how I'm stuck in a place with no beach. In fact, the sun just barely decided to come out this week since October of 2010. Add to the mix an extremely emotional and very pregnant woman, and you've got an emotional breakdown on your hands. My poor husband. He probably thinks he has lost his wife to mad cow disease. I'm honestly going crazy. Then again, I've always been this crazy, I'm just an intensified version of my former self. (It's OK mom, go ahead and laugh) Once this is read by my mother, I 'm going to get a phone call from her asking me why on earth I put this garbage on the internet for the whole world to see. She is much wiser than I am, but I'm going to behave like a four-year-old for a little longer and I'm not going to feel bad about it until tomorrow morning.
Well, I think I should stop here before I make a fool of myself more than I already have (not that more than a handful of people will read this anyway). In the end, all of this crum will be over in a matter of weeks, maybe even days, and then I'll feel so ridiculous for ever getting worked up about it. Things ALWAYS work out in the end. Really though. I'm not just saying that. Getting a traffic ticket, loosing your wallet, loosing a family member, worrying about your rebellious son, getting old, even getting toothpaste on your shirt (which happens to me just about every day); all of these things will pass. You'll go to traffic school, you'll cancel all of your credit cards and buy another wallet, you'll welcome the wrinkles and creaky joints, you'll rub your toothpasted shirt with a wet towel only to discover an hour later that it didn't take the stain out (it never does) ... you'll look at your Dad for the last time before they close the casket... and then you will go to bed, wake up in the morning, eat breakfast and start another day. Hopefully that day will be better than yesterday. And if it's not, maybe the next day will. One day, you'll find yourself laughing at a joke. The stain on your shirt never came out, so how could you possibly be happy? I don't know. It just happens.
Mr. Alexander and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary this weekend. What did we do? What we always do when the time calls for a celebration. Eat. James and I had never tried the breakfast menu at one of our favorite restaurants in Utah, The Communal. Sheesh, it didn't disappoint. The prices were so reasonable, the food so delectable, and the setting so romantic. I'm pathetic though. You know what one of my favorite parts of the experience was? This adorable cast iron tea kettle! And you can get it at Crate and Barrel. This will be my next purchase. The rest of the day consisted of watching The Fast and The Furious (since we saw Fast 5 in the theater and had no idea what was going on half of the time - don't go see a sequel if you haven't seen the last four movies of the franchise), seeing Pirates 4, and being mall rats. Anniversary #2 a success. What am I thinking - I can't forget to tell you this. James bought me 2 roses and plans to buy me 3 next year, 4 the year after that, and so on... I can't wait until we are old fogies - he is going to break the bank buying 50 roses 48 years from now. What a champ.
O.K. everyone, I'm definitely not the crafty type. I don't generally get the urge to turn a set of drawers into a credenza or make a lamp out of toilet paper rolls. I do, however, watch episode upon episode of "This Old House", I have built at least 7 tree houses in my lifetime, and I wish I had a carpentry shed in my back yard. That being said, and since I don't have much going on in my life right now but waiting for baby Claire to get here, I've decided to enter the realm of "crafts" by making the holy mirror of mirrors, "The Captain's Mirror" by the holy furniture companies of furniture companies, BDDW. Feast your eyes upon this.
Collecting the materials to attempt said project is taking some time... anyone know where I can get a solid, circular, wood hoop to place the mirror in? Anyway, hopefully sooner than later I will post the finished product and my experience making it step-by-step. Wish me luck!
firstly, i feel like i haven't blogged in ages. i can't really think of any excuses other than moving to a new place, finishing off the semester, and getting things ready for baby claire... is that good enough? baby girl is about ready to come (i hope)! i'm 35 1/2 weeks along, so 4 1/2 weeks left, and i'm just shy of looking like an elephant. james and i have been going out a lot lately and i can't help but notice everyone staring at me. i hope it's an "oh cute, she is pregnant" stare, and not a "oh my gosh she is huge" stare... i'm thinking it might be the latter. anyway, i've been in ultimate nesting mode for the past couple of weeks. james caught me scrubbing the kitchen cabinets in the middle of the night the other day. i even looked at our bookcase (bookcase = stacks of books on the floor) and had the urge to color coordinate every single one, but i resisted. plus, i'm in the process of doing some much needed interior design in our new house, and i'm waiting for this blasted weather to heat up so i can finally plant my garden.
claire's bedroom - my dear friend, catey, made the adorable flag banner.
my sweet sister, lauren, threw me a baby shower! this picture was taken right before the festivities started. this is the living room of our new home. i love the wood floor and the amazing stove. the interior design project i was talking about was to get some framed pictures on the wall.
james and i went to the arcade fire concert with a bunch of our friends. it was a treat! i was the least squished person in the crowd... i think people were afraid to bump in to me. rinda - 1, crowd - 0.
after finishing up my last full-time semester at byu, james and i went on a much needed trip to az over the easter weekend! i was so excited to take james to his first ever easter pageant experience. a bucket of kfc, beautiful weather, sitting on the grass and being with family = best easter ever. i love my family and can't wait to see them when claire arrives.
oh, i also bought a bunch of cacti (i feel weird saying cacti... cactus') for our kitchen!
our landlords keep our yard looking amazing, and its always a surprise to go outside and see what else has bloomed. the tulips have since died, but our trees are blooming with beautiful, pink flowers.
hopefully i'll have more updates on finishing all of these interior designing projects and planting a garden soon...