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Happy Halloween

There is nothing better than a holiday when you have kids. I had more fun this Halloween than I can ever remember having on any Halloween in my life. Except for maybe the one year that my mom's boyfriend taught me and my friends how to shoot shaving cream 50 feet by replacing the nozzle with an aerosol can nozzle. But that was also a night we almost got arrested in high school, so I probably shouldn't share that story in case we can still be held accountable for our actions two decades later.

{ the kids marching in their preschool parade }

The kids were HILARIOUS. Some of my favorite memories that I will treasure forever:

{ Popeye and Olive Oyl with daddy }

  • Ryan eagerly ringing the doorbell to our neighbors' houses, pressing his face to the glass side lites on their doors eagerly awaiting their appearance and then running and hiding behind me once they opened the door.

  • Reese pushing Ryan in the wagon from house to house. 

  • {sweet pea }

  • Ryan wearing his trick or treat bag on his head like a hat. I honestly think he thought it was a special Halloween hat. 

  • Asking Reese if she wanted candy and having her vigorously shake her head no, while saying "no, ape!" (i.e. No, I want grapes). Ha! 

  • { Ry showing his sister how to best utilize her ToT bag }

  • Ryan holding his arm out in front of him to admire his anchor "tattoo" between each house. 

  • { the only thing better than one hat is TWO HATS :) }

  • And, my favorite new memory of all, the kids taking the candy out of their bags and putting it into people's bowls. Instead of taking candy, they were giving their candy away. Hysterical. 

I love them so much. I still have yet to get a picture of all three munchkins together in costume, so Joe promised me we'll stage a Halloween photo shoot this week.

{ typical of our twins - Ryan riding inside something and Reese pushing him }

Regardless, we had a wonderful evening and I am so in love with my three amigos that I can hardly put it into words.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. And to those of you affected by Hurricane Sandy, I hope your families are safe and warm and relief from the storm gets to you soon.

More from the Greenhouse

The greenhouse team with this year's pumpkin harvest. Not quite record breaking like our cherries, but plenty to eat anyway! It took 2 people to lift each pumpkin and a tractor to move them down to the kitchen.
 In the last few months We've had plenty of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, grapes and nectarines from the greenhouse. The pears have been excellent this year: very large and a delicious flavour. 
 Postulant Mr. Janes picks some of our apples for the table. 
 After being barren for several years, the kiwifruit vines have finally fruited. They are not quite ripe yet, but should be soon.

The weather has not been very good for tomatoes this year, but we still got a few that were a decent size! This one is just an ordinary tomato, not a a beefsteak or giant variety!

I Love Ikea

My best friend texted me on her way home from Canada over the weekend to see if we needed anything from Ikea, as she and her husband were swinging by a store on their way home. The problem is I need A LOT of stuff. Too much to place that burden (financial and physical) on someone else. But she's awesome for offering.

Her text got me thinking about the new house and the little projects and decor pieces that will still be lingering long after we close. Even though our new house is roughly 1000 square feet larger than our current house, we didn't really add a lot of rooms. Most of that square footage is in an expanded kitchen and family room and larger bedrooms. We only "added" a bedroom and a full bath, which we felt was was necessary with our expanding family.

We mainly have projects in creating the girls' bedroom, Ryan's big boy room and the "formal" dining room. Aside from these three spaces all of our current furniture transfers over to the new house perfectly with pieces to spare.

Initially I planned on decorating a room for the twins using their nursery furniture from our current house and a room for Lola and then just redecorating in a few years when the girls shacked up together and Ryan got his own room. But it doesn't make sense to decorate two nurseries only to redecorate again in another 12 to 18 months. So I started thinking about Lola's nursery as the girls' "big girl room".

Frankly, by the time I actually complete the design I'm hoping that Reese will be ready to move in with Lola and Ryan will be ready for me to start on his big boy room too. I've been pinning images like crazy; the inspiration for the girls' room came from Joe's nana who knits the kids "nana blankets". Lola's came in the perfect shade of lavender (also my favorite color) and that got my wheels turning.

A quick google search led me to this nursery done by Caitlin Creer and then the brainstorming was on overload -- fed by a healthy supply of hormonal nesting. I'm just sorry I can't put this plan into action quicker. But as my father-in-law loves to remind me, Rome wasn't built in a day. (I usually tell him,  that's because I wasn't the general contractor.)

Among the Ikea pieces I plan on buying for the girls' room are these bookcases which I hope to back in a beautiful wallpaper like the one in the image below, similar to what we did with our billy bookcases in our living room.

I haven't quite pinned down Ryan's room, other than I know I want to do antiqued primary colors (think battleship blue, rust and mustard, instead of blue, red and yellow) and that I want the room to have a vintage airplane theme. And while I don't have an exact plan for his room right now, I'm 90% sure that I want to incorporate an Expedit bookcase and an Ekby Jarpen/ Ekby Bjarnum wall shelf, similar to these rooms. 

We also have our sights set on making our formal dining room into a game room/parlor. I already laid out my rough design. The idea is for it to have three separate spaces -- a table with a banquette, a reading area and a secretary desk that can be used for mail drop/storage and bill paying. 

The design is based on these images. 

We were going to have the carpenter that did all of the built ins for our house come back and build a banquette with storage for board games and kid things, but then I saw an Ikea Ektorp and Lindingo Kitchen Cabinets repurposed as bench seating by designer Samantha Pynn. The cabinets seem like an easy fix and a great way to add accessible storage to this space without breaking the bank on more custom builtins. The best part is if we ever move (something I don't even want to think about right now!) the room can easily be converted back into a formal dining space by the next owners; something that wouldn't be as easily remedied with permanent and pricey built-in seating. 

We're also planning on purchasing a third billy bookcase, which we'll add between the current cases we have in the house and modifying the three bookcases to look like a single built in unit similar to these projects by Centsational Girl and Little Green Notebook

Sadly, the idea of tackling these projects is less intimidating than figuring out how to drive 400+ miles roundtrip with three babies and then figuring out where to put all of the pieces we need to buy (roughly three bookshelves, several kitchen cabinets and one dresser) to get them back home. I'm praying we can convince the outlaws to come for a visit and watch the twins, making the whole trip a lot more feasible.

Ikea, if you're listening, Upstate New York would be a great place to house a new store. Sure, we don't come close to meeting your new store population requirements, but how much does that really matter anyway?

Evviva Maria!

This beautiful hymn
in honour of Our lady
was composed
by St Alphonsus.
It is sung in the old style of popular hymns.
You could imagine the saintly composer
conducting it during a Holy Mission.

Lodiamo cantando
La Figlia, la Sposa,
La Madre amorosa
Di chi la formo

Evviva Maria,
Maria evviva;
Evviva Maria,
E chi la creœ.

Allor che Maria,
Divisa dal Figlio
Tra spine qual giglio,
Fra noi si resto:

Ardendo il suo core
D’unirsi con Dio
Con umil desio
La Morte cercœ.

Chi tanto I’amava,
Il caro suo Sposo
Al pieno riposo
Nel ciel la chiamœ.

La morte aspettava,
Che apriese le porte;
Ma giunta la Morte
Lontan si fermœ.

Sen venne l’Amore
Col dolce suo strale
E ‘l colpo mortale
Sul cor le donœ.

Allora con pace,
Ferita giœ essendo,
D’amore languendo,
Felice spirœ.

La bella Colomba
Il volo poi sciolse;
Il Figlio l’accolse
E al ciel la portœ.

Or mentre nel cielo
O bella Regina,
Gia siedi vicina
A chi t’esaltœ:

Deh! non ti scordare
Di me peccatore,
Fa ch’ ami il mio core
Chi sempre mi amœ.

Selection Sunday

We are just about two weeks out from closing on the new house and I couldn't be more excited. These last few weeks have been super crazy as all of the finishing details make their way into the house. Finally we are getting to see 10+ months of decisions coming to life.

The painters, plumbers, electricians and gardeners are all at the house this week and next. I can't wait to see the house with lights wired, appliances in place and mirrors and fixtures on the walls. The master bathroom is really starting to come together, so I thought I'd post some progress pictures.

The last of the hardware, fixtures and textiles should be in by the end of the week. Here are a few of the items still missing. We decided to go with a plantation shutter above the tub with a relaxed valance over the shutter in Windor Smith's Riad fabric. It's a spot on match for the wall color. This will be the last item installed, and may even happen after we close.

One of the items that is completely missing from our bathroom right now is a vanity. In our floor plan you can see it placed between the tub and the shower unit. I didn't want to order new cabinetry for this space, I felt like it needed something with a little more character that was a little less new. This is sort of the look I'm going for, hopefully a few kid-free hours with wine, girlfriends and antique stores will solve this problem!


Lighting: Circa Lighting Bryant Sconce; Mirrors: Allen + Roth; Towel Bars: Moen Vestige; Towel Hook: Schoolhouse Electric; Knobs and Pulls: Top Knobs Asbury Collection;
Shower Floor: White Venatino Mini Versailles with QSeal;
3x6 Subway Tiles: Bright Snow White (glossy) with TEC949 Silverado epoxy grout;
Floor: 12x12 White Venatino with QSeal set on brick pattern TEC949 Silverado grout;
Countertops: Honed Carrara Marble;
Vanity: Crystal Cabinetry with inset bead, regent door, small drawers – slab, large drawers – 5 panel in Frosty White Matte; Sinks: Mansfield Covington 21x13; Faucets:
Moen Vestige; Tub: St. Croix 6; Bath and Shower Fixtures:
Moen Vestige roman tub filler w/ handheld, Moen Kingsley single function showerhead,
Moen Waterhill rainfall showerhead.

Packing and Loading

We are in the process of packing up the house with roughly 2 weeks left before we close. I'm trying not to move with items that the kids don't fit into anymore. I just added a ton of stuff to the resale blog -- right now mostly boys 12 months to 2T.

Miss Lola is so tall that all of Reese's newborn stuff doesn't fit her (probably doesn't hurt that the peanut was also born a full pound bigger than her big sister either). I'll have oodles of girls newborn items up (hopefully) before the end of the weekend.

Hope everyone stays dry and safe during the hurricane this week!

duck egg blue... oh how i love you

where there is a will, there is a way...
hip hip hooray.
after 7 years of being white,
and 16 of living with us.

our table is now
a most jolly
duck egg blue

'tis a little brighter in the flesh,
however 'frankly frank' my camera
is not keen on blues and greens
and does his own little thing.

its a big old table,
and its a big old bit of duck egg blue
sitting in the family room.
took a few days to get used to
but now i am most 
delighted with our table 
with its fresh and glossy coat
of duck egg blue...

"duck egg blue,
oh how i love you"


wordless wednesday...

Subdeacons to be ordained Deacons in November

Ordinations to the Diaconate

I have the joy of announcing to you that 
our Subdeacons

Brother Yousef Marie, F.SS.R. 
Brother Jean Marie, F.SS.R. 
Brother Magdala Maria, F.SS.R. 

will be ordained Deacons 
on 17 November, 2012 
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, 
Denton, Nebraska.

Please remember them in your prayers.

Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.
Rector Major

a bicycle made for three...

my bike stand arrived on friday!
1 day earlier than expected.
that in its self is always a treat,
something arriving via mail earlier than expected.

on saturday i went into the garage
and found my peachy bicycle
waiting patiently for me.
after a bit of a wrestle with piles of crappity crap
i wheeled my bike out of its
dark and dreary surroundings
into our shed filled with granny chic goodness

after my man assured me
he had done a proper job
i tentatively hopped up on my bicycle
(it was quite a hop up due to the stand adding height)
and started to peddle.

oh joy of joys!
to go on a bike ride with no hill
nor rain, nor helmet to scupper the enjoyment.
after a bit, i noted
'shop duck' and 'shop cat'
were having a good old ganders 
at me on my bicycle.
it seemed rather mean
not to offer them a ride

this morning (sunday)
whilst on our cycle ride,
'shop duck' and 'shop cat'
commented after 10 minutes
the view was a little dull
despite me turning the front wheel
from time to time
and having Radio 2 blaring out.

i told them to close their eyes
and use their imagination.
i noted 'shop cat' was very good at doing so,
however, i noted 'shop duck' was not.
and from where i was sitting,
peddling away
(and yes i must admit,
breaking a sweat
in my flannel plaid pyjamas)
i noted something else about 'shop duck'.
 he can look forwards
and look backwards 
at the same time...
thus continuing to keep
a beady eye on me
at all times,
making sure my peddling
stays on track.
"peachy peddling allowed
pants peddling not allowed"
says his one beady eye...


Home Sweet Home

I got home yesterday afternoon. So nice to be in my own house, with my kids, and my own bed. Isn't it crazy how much you miss your own bed when you've been away from it for a while? I feel like I haven't slept in years. Lola has her days and nights reversed. It's awesome to balance against two well-scheduled 21 month olds. We're getting there. Thankfully she has the sweetest little disposition and she's cute as a button (if I do say so myself), so we're running on pure love since sleep seems to be a thing of the past, at least for now.

Reese and Ryan are overwhelmed and that is to be expected. Ryan's lack of expressive vocabulary has led to a lot of frustration, crying fits, hitting and throwing. He is interested in the baby and frustrated by her existence all at the same time. Reese loves the baby still, but is exhibiting some stubborness and has tried to "accidentally" kick the baby a few times or sit on her in an attempt to sit on my lap. We are working on all of it, hoping that things will smooth out over time. It's all to be expected, as we are asking so very much of our first tiny babies (who are so, so big in comparison). 

Right now, Joe and I are focused on providing them with as much love and as much kindness as possible. And if that continues to fail, next week we'll move to lots of time outs and lots of consequences. Because once I'm on my own in early November, I need to be able to wrangle them alone. No small feat. 

So, in the meantime, our house is like Lord of the Flies and Joe and I are alternating who gets to play the role of Piggy. Not quite how I had hoped it would go, but exactly how I expected it would. Our house is set to close in just under three weeks. So we're a month away from really turning everything on its ear, and hopefully a few short months away from restoring order. Hopefully. 

All good things, just a lot of things all at once. So worth it. There isn't a better kind of chaos to be part of, that is for sure. 

The Rape and Murder of Pakistan's Christian Children

Cardinal Turkson

When we posted the clip that Cardinal Turkson had played to the Synod of Bishops
we received some critical comments which we did not publish.

I invite you to read this article carefully and to
check the sources that are linked to this article
(by clicking on the underlined words). 

It is not possible to be indifferent to the sufferings of
these Christians of Pakistan. 
Not all are Catholic.
All are Christian and persecuted. 

The Authorities cited include the
Information Service of the Pontifical Mission Socities "FIDES"
 and the 
Vatican News Agency.

The West sighed in relief when Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl arrested in Pakistan on August 16 for allegedly burning pages of the Quran, was finally released. Yet the West remains clueless concerning the graphic abuses--including rape and murder--Christian children in Pakistan routinely suffer, simply for being Christian. Consider two stories alone, both of which occurred at the same time Rimsha's blasphemy ordeal was making headlines around the world.

Mugadas Kainat, RIP
14 August, 2012

On August 14, another Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas Kainat (which means "Holy Universe") was ambushed in a field near her home in Sahawil by five Muslim men who "gang raped and murdered" her. At the time, her father was at a hospital visiting her sick mother. He and other family members began a frantic search, until a tip led them to the field where his daughter's body lay. The postmortem revealed that she had been "gang raped and later strangled to death by five men." Police, as usual, did not arrest anyone. As a Salem News report puts it, "Complicating matters is the fact that several Christian girls in this remote area have been raped and forced to both marry into the Muslim community and abandon their own religion, human rights groups report. … [T]here is a history in this part of Pakistan according to the Christian community, of local authorities failing to investigate cases of rape or other violence against Christians, often for fear of influential Muslims or militants."

Similarly, on August 20, an 11-year-old Christian boy, Samuel Yaqoob, went to the markets of Faisalabad to buy food for his family, never to return. According to Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, "After extensive searching his body was found near a drain in the Christian colony, bearing marks of horrific torture, with the murder weapon nearby. His nose, lips and belly had been sliced off, and his family could hardly recognize him because the body was so badly burnt. Some 23 wounds by a sharp weapon have been identified in the autopsy. When sending his body for an autopsy, police raised the possibility of sodomy. Parts of Pakistani culture have a strong homosexual pederast culture, and Christian and other minority boys are especially susceptible to rape and abuse because of the powerlessness of their community and their despised status. In one case fairly recently, a Christian boy was kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by a police officer, his body similarly being dumped in a drain."

These were just some of the stories concerning the sexual abuse and murder of Pakistan's Christian children that occurred last August--even as the world stood in awe at the Rimsha Masih blasphemy case. Here are ten more anecdotes, chosen at random from the many former documented cases:

1. Nisha, a 9-year-old Christian girl, was abducted by Muslims, gang-raped, murdered by repeated blows to her head, and then dumped into a canal (May 2009).

2. Gulfam, another 9-year-old Christian girl, was raped by a Muslim man. Though not killed, she was left "in shock and in the throes of a physical and psychological trauma." During her ordeal, her rapist told her "not to worry because he had done the same service to other young Christian girls" (Dec. 2010).

3. Lubna, a 12-year-old Christian girl, was kidnapped, gang-raped, and murdered by a group of Muslims (Oct. 2010).

4. Kidnapped last Christmas Eve, a 12-year-old Christian girl known as "Anna," was gang raped for eight months, forcibly converted and then "married" to her Muslim attacker. After she escaped, instead of seeing justice done, “the Christian family is in hiding from the rapists and the police" (Oct, 2011).

5. After gang-raping a 13-year-old Christian girl, a band of Muslims came to her house when all male members were away working and "mercilessly" beat her pregnant aunt causing her to lose female twins to miscarriage: “They murdered our children, they raped our daughter. We have nothing left with us,” lamented an older family member. The police went on to accuse the 13-year-old raped girl of "committing adultery with three men" (June 2012).

6. A Muslim man murdered a teenage Christian girl, Amariah, during an attempted rape: he had “grabbed the girl and, under the threat of a gun, tried to drag her away. The young woman resisted, trying to escape the clutches of her attacker, when the man opened fire and killed her instantly, and later tried to conceal the corpse" (Dec. 2011).


7. Muslims abducted a 14-year-old Christian girl, Mehek, at gunpoint in broad daylight from her parents' house. One of her abductors declared he would "purify her" by making her "Muslim and my mistress" (Aug. 2011).

8. Shazia, a 12-year-old Christian girl, was enslaved, raped, and murdered by Chaudhry Naeem, a rich Muslim lawyer, who was acquitted. His wife and son had participated in abusing the child (Nov. 2010).

9. Nadia, a Christian girl who was abducted in 2001 when she was 15-years-old and forced to marry a Muslim, only recently returned to her Catholic family (Jan. 2012).

10. A powerful Muslim businessman had two Christian sisters kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam, and "married" to him (May 2011).

In every one of these cases, Pakistani police either failed to act or sided with the rapists and murderers.
The above anecdotes represent a mere sampling of the documented atrocities committed against the children of Pakistan's Christians, who amount for a miniscule 1.5% of the nation's population. Then there are the stories that never make it to any media--stories of silent abuse that only the nameless, faceless victims know.

"2  year old toddler"

For example, it took five years for the story of a 2-year-old toddler who was savagely raped because her Christian father refused to convert to Islam to surface. After undergoing five surgeries, her anatomy remains disfigured and she suffers from several permanent complications. Her family lives in fear and hiding.
How many Christian children in Pakistan are being mauled in silence, with their stories never surfacing?

And what animates this savagery? Discussing the aforementioned rape of 9-year-old Gulfam, local sources in Pakistan put it well: "It is shameful. Such incidents occur frequently. Christian girls are considered goods to be damaged at leisure. Abusing them is a right. According to the [Muslim] community’s mentality it is not even a crime. Muslims regard them as spoils of war."

Indeed, here is how the late Majid Khadduri, "internationally recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on Islamic law and jurisprudence," explained the idea of human "spoils" in his War and Peace in the Law of Islam:

The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children). … If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.

From here, one can begin to understand the rabid fanaticism that possessed Pakistan's Muslims concerning the Rifsha blasphemy case, which resulted in mass riots, Muslim threats to take the law in their own hands, and the dislocation of Christians, some of whom have been forced to live and worship in the wilderness: If infidel Christians, especially their children, are seen as mere "spoils" to be used and disposed of with impunity, certainly it must be intolerable for Muslims if one of these "sub-humans" dares to desecrate Islam's holy book--the same book that ordains their inhuman status.
And herein is the true significance of the Rifsha Masih case: success is measured not in the fact that this one particular Christian child got away from the savageries of Islamic law and culture, but whether her ordeal will begin to open Western eyes to the terrors Pakistan's Christian children routinely face.

By Raymond Ibrahim
Frontpage Magazine

© 2012, Assyrian International News Agency.  
All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use

days of this & that...

on sunday 
* i started my 10 day elimination diet.
all part of the master plan
put in place by my naturopath

on monday 
* i lost 14 inches to my coif.
all part of the master plan
to embrace a whole new chapter

on tuesday 
* i did over 1 hour of yoga therapy.
all part of the master plan
to feel well again

on wednesday 
* i counted my yarn stash
and then lost count
(all part of the master plan
to distract me from yoga therapy aches,
other aches, inner voice
and food cravings of the chocolatey kind)

on thursday 
* i did over 1 hour of yoga therapy
and ordered 1 bike stand
(the sort that makes your everyday bicycle
into a 'keep fit' bicycle)
*i took 1 pesky little doggie to the vets,
a pesky little doggie who needs to lose 2 lbs
and 1 tooth.

today, on friday 
* i have unsuccessfully tried to 
close the suitcase lid
on my countless amount of yarn.
*patted myself on the back
for reaching day 6 of elimination diet
with only 1 day of feeling completely hopeless
and that was day 1.
* noted my limbs are not aching so badly
* a pesky little doggie started her day 1
of keeping fit
thanks to my man who came to the rescue
and will walk little olive each and every morn
from now on,
till i am able to take the reins again

tomorrow, on saturday
* i will work on 2 quite thrilling things.
thing 1 being to read all recipes in our granny chic book
(as per request from a very nice person)
thing 2 being to answer questions for a dutch magazine
whom i am rather fond of

the day after tomorrow, on sunday
* i will awake in my 1 bed
and think of 1 country across the pond
and 1 particular newspaper,
who has a sunday supplement called YOU
and wonder to myself, 
many many miles away in my bed
how surreal it is, 
to have our Granny Chic book
featured amongst their glossy pages.
* all this whilst knowing,
there will be only 2 days left 
of the elimination diet to get through
and 2 days left to the biggest surreal
'magazine moment'
of all time


Better Late Than Never

Lauren Emerson arrived on October 17 at 7:57 p.m. weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces and measuring 21" long. She is perfect. Ten tiny (long) fingers and ten tiny (long toes). A full head of light brown hair that stands up in little peaks all over her itty bitty head. She is a champion nurser already and loves to be snuggled. In fact, she loves snuggling so much that I've gotten roughly 6 hours of sleep since she was born. I'm too nervous and tired to let myself fall asleep with her in my arms, so I've been laying in my hospital bed listening to her squeak, which she does with each breath she exhales, while she's splayed out across my chest.

My appointment last week found me 2cm and 100% effaced at 39 weeks 5 days. My membranes were stripped and I was sent home. Nothing happened. No cramping, no bleeding, no pain. And definitely no labor.

On Monday I was having such significant pain with her movements -- not labor pains, just physical pain -- that I called my OB. When he found out I had been having runs of contractions that never progressed for over four days, he rescheduled my appointment for the following day.

I arrived to my Tuesday appointment and was given another internal -- this time I was 4 cm and told I was very effaced. My membranes were stripped again, although my OB said that there was nothing left to strip, they were all gone. He put an induction on the calendar for Friday, but didn't think I'd make it that far. He told me he didn't even think I'd make it to my Tuesday appointment after our conversation on Monday. And his exact words were "You're 4 sonometers dilated and completely effaced. What the hell is going on up there? This should have happened by now." Back home I went.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with the kids and by 9:30 I was having pretty consistent contractions anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart. I told Joe to get coverage for his afternoon cases and called our sitters to make sure we had extra help if we needed it. At 11 I took the kids to gymnastics. By the middle of their class my contractions were picking up in intensity and I called my OB's office. They scheduled me to come in for 1:30, but told me to go straight to labor and delivery if my water broke or if my contractions got closer together and/or more intense. Since I could still talk/walk/smile through most of my contractions I set about the afternoon with the focus on getting to my afternoon appointment.

We got to the OB's office and I was checked again around 2 p.m. This time I was 6 cm, 90% effaced and at a -2 station. My doctor told me I was on the cusp of labor and since we live 30 minutes away from the hospital it would probably be best to go across the street and get checked in, just in case my labor progressed quickly.

By 3 p.m. I was checked in, gowned up and my IV had been placed. I was checked again and I was found to be 6-7 cm. But I was still laughing and smiling, so they had me walk around the hospital for 90 minutes and then come back to sit on the fetal and contraction monitor. My contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart, but they were not increasing in number or intensity. So they sent me back out to walk again. I walked for over an hour and came back to be checked again around 6:30 p.m. I was getting frustrated and pissy. I hadn't eaten since 9 a.m., I was starving. And I felt like I was about to be sent home until my "labor was real" (not something you want to hear at 40 weeks, 3 days).

I had them recheck me and I was stuck at a 6 cm, although the baby had descended to a 0 station. I was given the option of leaving and coming back when labor started or having them break my water. I was striving to have as little medical intervention as possible, but felt like breaking my bag was the best option given my lack of progress. My water was broken and within 10 minutes my labor had become incredibly intense with pain wrapping around my back. I knew then that I did not want to go med-free and in between tears of frustration and pain, I sat and weighed my options with Joe. He went to get my labor and delivery nurse to have her order an epidural. She came back in and told me we just needed to a cervical check before the anesthesiologist was called. At this point it was thirty minutes after my water had been broken...and I had progressed to 9.5 cm and a +1 station. It was at this point that I found out that I was about to have a baby and that there was no time left for an epidural. And I freaked the freak out.

The pain was intense and my contractions were coming on fast and I did not want to do it without drugs. I begged them to call anethesia anyway, I told them a hundred times that I did not want to feel the pain that I was feeling and when all else failed, I cried. And they let me carry on like this for roughly 5 minutes. I never really experienced that "urge to push" but my nurse convinced me that the only way to manage my pain was to push through it and make the baby go away. And so when the contractions came, as much as I didn't want to feel them and I didn't want to hurt, I brought my legs back and I pushed as hard as I could. And it hurt like hell. And I was scared to death.

I kept asking them to tell me how much longer I would need to feel this for, to put a time stamp or a number of contractions on it. I kept hearing "you're so close" and after the fourth time someone said that I told them to "stop bullshitting me and tell me the truth". And that's about the point in my labor where I transitioned from fear to determination. I wanted her out. NOW.

I snipped at the nursing student holding my foot for me, telling her she needed to actually be useful and push my foot back hard. I was pushing for so long that they had to check the baby's fetal heart rate with those annoying hockey puck things in between each contraction. So during my breaks from the pain, they were pushing down on my belly making me hurt and I got so mad. I distinctly remember telling my nurse to stop putting the hockey puck on me. And when she did it for what felt like the seven hundreth time, I said "what is with you and the fucking hockey puck, Fran?" I yelled at my OB for pushing down on the lip of my cervix that hadn't fully opened and then I yelled at him for not pushing on it. I begged him to make it end, to reach in and pull her out. And when all else failed I screamed on the top of my lungs, wild sounds that I didn't even know my body could make.

I'm pretty sure everyone else in labor and delivery called for the anesthesiologist after hearing my birth through the walls. It's too bad I can't make a commission on the increase in epidural sales I helped to affect that night.

After roughly 40 minutes of pushing and what felt like twice as many contractions, I could feel an intense pressure and the unmistakable feel of a body pass through me. But labor had lasted so long that I was sure I had pooped instead and she was still firmly inside me. They kept telling me to open my eyes and look at her, and I didn't believe that it was really over and she was really out and I had really given birth to my baby girl.

I never felt the ring of fire that others talk about, but the pain of her labor was unreal. I didn't think I could do it and I wanted to quit so many times. I would have quit if, at any point in time, I had the choice to do so. As it turns out, Miss Lola was "sunny side up" (head down, face up) which is why I was overdue and my labor kept stalling. I was told afterward that 90% of babies who are sunny side up will turn during labor. I was just in the lucky 10% of deliveries where this did not happen. Had she been head down, face down her head would have created pressure in my cervix as she dropped forcing me into labor. Instead her head acted like a cork that kept me from progressing altogether.

They told me had she presented face down, I would have gone into labor at least a week earlier and I would have only pushed for 10-15 minutes. Face up took me roughly 4 times as long. I broke several hundred blood vessels in my face and neck from bearing down. My lady bits are swollen and angry, but thankfully I didn't tear at all. I did, however, create the world's largest hemorrhoid in the process. A fact that I am deeply disturbed by each time I use the facilities.

I feel like I was hit by a Mac truck, but I think it's just a combination of drained adrenaline, lack of sleep and standard delivery aches and pains. If given the power of hindsight I would have asked for the epidural before I let them break my water. And if I ever deliver another child, which I sincerely doubt will happen, I would personally not elect to go without meds again. I realize every delivery is different and that my experience may have been much more pleasant had she been face down. But that pain and fear is still very palpable for me. Ask me again in a few weeks, and maybe I'll feel more empowered by the experience.

Reese and Ryan came down to meet their baby sister today. And it was everything I thought it would be. Ryan kept pointing to Lola and saying "ba-by" in his silly, grunting voice. He stroked her feet and wrapped his tiny hand, that suddenly looked huge by comparison, around her legs. He patted her head and touched her fingers. And then, like any nearly two year old boy would, he lost interest and began touching every button on every electronic device in my room.

Reese, on the other hand, was completely smitten with this tiny creature that immediately became "my baby". She sat on the bed and happily held her sister. Smiling and laughing and kissing her the whole time. At one point I took Lola out of Reese's arms to sit with both girls on my lap for a picture when I felt the baby being ripped out of my arms. Reese tugged her into her own lap and proceeded to hug her a dozen times, planting kisses all over Lola's little face. She melted my heart today. That little human is amazing.

My tiny peanut and I are discharging in the morning. I thought this stay in the hospital would be a vacation from my normal life. But instead I've found that I'm really tired and I miss my family and the chaos they provide so very much. I'm ready to go home and for us to start our new lives together. We are beyond blessed and I'm so very thankful to have these three beauties in my life.

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