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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Before BJ got into work today, I:
  • Read my scriptures
  • Read family scriptures
  • Rode my exercise bike for 20 mins.
  • Took a shower
  • Did a load of laundry
  • Made my bed
  • Went grocery shopping
  • Talked to one of my visiting teachees
  • Put Kessa back to sleep
  • Put dishes in the dishwasher and got it running
  • Made bread dough and had it rising
  • And almost finished writing this blog post
It's a good day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

4 months and 2nd vacc.

Well, Kessa had her 4-month appointment today, despite being a week shy of being 4 months old. I was a little nervous because it was scheduled for right in the middle of her naptime, but I got lucky and she had her best night ever! She went to bed at 8 pm, I fed her in her sleep at 11:30, she woke up fussy at 5:30, but that was because she managed to get out of her SwaddleMe (how the heck?! She's Houdini!) so I just swaddled her back up, calmed her down and put her back to bed. She was easily back to sleep in 20 mins or less. And that, my friends, is huge progress. And THEN, she slept until 8 am! That's 12 hours from start to finish with a miniscule wakeup in the middle. I am one happy momma. Because of her amazing amount of sleep, she was able to stay awake and happy (for the most part) at the pediatrician, came home and immediately went to sleep without a fuss. [Pride]

The pediatrician says she is … (anyone want to take a guess at what word he chose?) … perfect! (Haha! You were wrong!) And then later he said she is wonderful. Ahh… there it is… :)

Ok, stats!
Weight: 12 lbs 12 oz. 37%
Head Circumference: 15 in. 1.47%
Length: 26 in. 97.72% !!!!!!!

Holy cow she's tall! We've got ourselves a tall, skinny, small-headed girl. (Btw, I guess the head doesn't really grow much until the 2nd six months, so the doctor isn't worried at all, even though her percentile went down from 2.7% last time. Whew! I'm interested to see what it does during her second six months.) The pediatrician told me that growth often comes in spurts, which means that just because she's ridiculously tall now doesn't mean that she'll stay in that percentile. But I'm betting (what happened to my be-more-righteous resolve?! ;) ) that she's taller than me by junior high.

At the end of the appointment she got her second round of vaccinations. Today she got the DTaP-HIB-IPV (Pentacel) #2, Prevnar #2, and Rotavirus (Rotateq) #2. Luckily that last one was oral, so she only had to get two shots this time. She was happy through everything, including the oral vaccine which she lapped right up, and then screamed through the shots. Instant tears. It was heartbreaking. She calmed down a bit when I picked her up, but then when I tried to put her in her carseat she screamed again. She seemed to be saying, "Mom! Don't you remember what happened last time you put me down?! IT HURT!" So I held her through checkout and she cried a little bit when I put her in her carseat, but her binkie saved the day and by the time we got out to the car, so was calm. Not exactly happy, but calm. Then we came home and she went straight to bed! I'm hoping she does better with this set of vaccinations than she did with the last.

[crosses fingers]

Monday, September 28, 2009

Like a Fire is Burning

I went to the RS Broadcast on Saturday up at the Conference Center. (Thanks, Kristy!) BJ's mom, my neighbor, Kristen, and I got up there in plenty of time to sit and relax and ponder a bit before it started. I'm not sure if I was just in the right frame of mind, or perhaps it was because we were sitting on the third row (again, Thanks, Kristy!), or what the deal was, but the entire time I felt like I was being taught directly. I wasn't in a room with thousands of other people, but rather, all of the talks were written and given specifically for me.

There are two things in particular that I learned (in a very general sense. I learned many, many more in a specific sense):
  1. It was a really good meeting. I remember back when I was a youth and I would hear people say, "That was a really good meeting, "And I would think, "Huh? How was that any different from every other long, boring meeting?" Sure, here and there I'd go to some youth fireside that would really strike me, but for the most part, I simply couldn't figure out what people were talking about. I've realized recently that for the past several years I have not only really enjoyed General Conference, but I have actually looked forward to it. And I leave the meetings thinking, "Wow. That was a really good meeting." I was pondering that as I left the RS Broadcast, wondering why that was, and I decided that it has everything to do with where I was spiritually in life. The closer I grow to the Spirit, the more he can touch me and teach me. The more I want to learn, grow, and do better, the more I hear and understand and see my weaknesses. The more desire I have to do better, the more that desire is excited into action, so that I actually do do better.
  2. My friend, Kami, once said something to the effect of, "I want to live my life so that I'm worthy of being a prophet's wife. Not that I'm hoping to marry a prophet, but I want to be worthy of it in case it's asked of me." I've always thought that is very wise advice and have tried to live by it myself. Now sure, I'm not perfect and there are definitely major flaws in my life that I need to correct before I would be worthy of that, but it's a good goal to work towards. During the Broadcast I had a thought similar to that, but I saw it in a different light and it hit me really powerfully. As Sister Beck spoke (holy cow, I really admire that woman) I just felt completely enveloped in what she said. I felt strongly that Relief Society is super important and is currently and will continue to play a very large part in my life. My testimony of Relief Society was strengthened greatly. At one point I had the crazy thought, what if someday I am called to be the General RS Pres?* Would I be worthy? Suddenly the thought that Kami once shared with me was brought to mind, but with a twist. What if I was foreordained to be the General RS President and because of my own apathy for spiritual progression, I lost that opportunity? How would I feel when I sit at the judgment bar if realized the potential I had and how remarkably short of it I fell? So instead of looking at it as, "I want to be worthy of this nigh unreachable goal, just in case," I saw it as, "What if I have been foreordained to something great? Will I be worthy to live up to my own potential?" It's the same idea, but looked at in a different light.
Needless to say, I left that meeting full of fire, full of a desire to change my ways and to be better. I see several gaping spiritual holes in my life right now (anyone else struggle with reading scriptures daily?) that I can change, and I currently have the desire to do so. I also believe that growing spiritually isn't limited to Primary Answers. I believe that also being organized, having a clean house, being responsible, being physically fit, etc., is a vital part of it, a part that I struggle with as well. Today I made a list of all of the things I want to do daily, weekly, and monthly. I included spiritual and temporal things. I then put those on a calendar with the weekly and monthly things spaced out so I don't have to do them all at once. I then printed it out (along with the Scripture Reading Chart that I blogged about a few months ago) so that as I do those things, I can cross them off. I'm hoping that within a month or so, they'll become habit and next month I can take them off the calendar and replace them with the next set of things I've realized I need to work on.

It was a really good meeting.

*Please do not think, even for a moment, that I am longing for the calling of General RS President. I was once the RS Pres for a singles ward at BYU and that was super stressful. I can't even fathom how much more stressful it would be to be responsible for all of the LDS women in the world. How scary would that be?!


There are few things as precious as something like this:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tummy Time

You were expecting a video of her crying, weren't you? Well, time to be disappointed! Kessa actually likes tummy time so long as we time it for right after a nap and eating so that she's nice and happy. She'll stay down on her tummy for 10 minutes or so, then as soon as she starts getting fussy, we'll pick her up and go on to something else. (The exception being if she's fussing because she's trying to roll over. Then we let her keep going until she rolls over or becomes super frustrated.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Happiest nap day

Bedtime and naptime were quickly becoming dreaded times at my house. Not so much when she was sleeping, but the time we were trying to put her to sleep. I was feeling sick, not getting enough sleep, and in tears at the first sound of her crying. Each one made the other ones worse. BJ had to take over bedtime because I just couldn't take it. What made it even more aggravating was that EVERYONE else could put her right to sleep. Grandmas, aunts, cousins, random friends of siblings, etc. Everyone except BJ and me.

I read through almost every sleep book I could get my hands on. Although I learned a lot of good things in them, they also confused the heck out of me because each of them contradicted each other, citing evidence on how the others were wrong. (Yes, they would even quote each other.) I established a routine to get her to sleep (one thing they all agreed on) but it still didn't really help, so in my desperation, I would grasp at random things I remembered from various books and probably confused the poor baby out of her mind. No wonder she was so cranky.

Sunday we had "cousins dinner" at BJ's aunt's house in Bountiful. Kessa had had a horrible day in terms of sleep. Her longest nap had been on the car trip up. 20 minutes of crying and 40 minutes of sleep. She had one other nap… in my arms while BJ taught Primary. 20 minutes top, but I doubt it was that long. In other words, she was cranky. BJ's cousin, Laura, asked if she could hold her and next thing you know, she was sound asleep. I was pleased and irritated at the same time. This was getting old. But the difference? Laura taught me some swaddling techniques that have changed my life.

First, start with a stretchy blanket. Make sure when you put her on the blanket, put her off to one side so that the second side you wrap around is longer and can tuck underneath her. If she's old enough to kick, don't worry about swaddling her feet. (Though, I've been putting socks on her feet, cuz it's so cold!) Instead of putting her arms across her chest, put them straight on her side, slightly tucked under her bum. Instead of wrapping the blanket straight across her chest, start at her shoulder and angle it down so that the two wrapped portions make a V-neck.

Next, take a not stretchy blanket. I use receiving blankets. Repeat the swaddle.

The first, stretchy swaddle allows for a tight swaddle (don't be afraid to wrap her tight!) to keep her arms tucked in and to feel all wrapped up and cozy, like in the womb, and the second, non-stretchy swaddle keeps her from wiggling out. And let's be honest, we all know that she's fantastic at wiggling herself out of swaddles. (If my instructions don't make sense, let me know and I'll post a video of me swaddling her so you can see.)

"But my baby doesn't like being swaddled," you say. Well, to be honest, I didn't think Kessa liked it much, either. She was world champion at getting her hands out of there before you could even finish swaddling her.

We started swaddling her like this yesterday. By her second nap, she was smiling as I swaddled her and took less than 5 minutes to fall asleep. Today she's started putting her arms down by her sides when I start to swaddle her. She smiles when I swaddle her. I have laid her down and let her fall to sleep completely on her own for three naps today. I haven't been in the room once when she actually fell asleep. Heck, I don't even think I was in the room during the drowsy phase. Then, when she'd wake up in the middle of a nap, she'd cry out, but immediately put herself back to sleep. The first time she did it, I didn't even make it to her door before she was back to sleep. She has slept for almost 5 hours in naps today. She slept for almost 11 hours last night.

Life is bliss.

Private blogs

Don't freak out. We're not going private. But I have a lot of friends that have gone private. So, to keep track of you all, I've made a bookmark folder of all the private blogs I read. Well, I got a new computer and lost most of those links. I only have 4 now. So… if you have a private blog and think I read it, let me know your url again. Unless you're family. I definitely have yours. Also, Stacie, Meagan/Tyler, and Ashley. I have all of yours. Anyone else, I wanna read your blog again. Send me the URL, please!

Also, those of you I do have, Update Your Blogs! Out of the 4 private blogs I read today (and it's been awhile since I read) there was only one new post! What's the point of a private blog if you never post new things? Puh-lease?

Dear Google Reader, you know the email address and password I use to read these private blogs. Would you please use them to subscribe in my RSS feed? It'd sure make my blog-reading easier...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reception Etiquette

I went to a wedding reception tonight. It went from 6-8. I got there around 7:30. By the time I got there, the line was broken up (actually, I have no proof there ever was a line) and by the time I found the groom (a friend from high school) he was being pulled in all directions and I only got a short time to talk to him. (For the record, I'm not upset by this. I had a reception once, too. (Twice, actually.) I know how it goes.) So I grabbed a slice of double chocolate cake and sat down to eat it, just in time to get an almost front row seat of them cutting the cake. It made me ponder reception etiquette. I thought of two scenarios and I was wondering what you, my dear readership, think is the most appropriate. Mostly just to satiate my curiosity.

A reception is scheduled from 6-8 pm.

1. The bride and groom should be available to greet guests from 6-8, saving things like cutting the cake and the bouquet toss until after 8.
2. The bride and groom should leave right at 8. They've got better stuff to do! So, if you want to talk to the bride and groom, be sure to be there at least a half an hour before the scheduled ending of the reception.

And just for fun, what are your opinions on cutting the cake? Should you smoosh it into each other's faces, or should you treat it with respect and do it nicely? (My grandma was insistent on the second. "It's your first act of service as a married couple. You should respect each other!")


Hmmm… I think it's about time for another picture of Kessa on the blog.

Much better.

Monday, September 21, 2009


When we're putting Kessa to sleep, she often does better if we sing her a song. And like a good LDS couple, the vast majority of the children's songs we know are primary songs and church hymns. When you sing a song over and over like that, you start to notice things you'd never picked up on before.

For example, did you know that the song "Our Savior's Love" has one verse about each member of the Godhead, specifically how that person helps us gain exaltation? Yeah, I had no idea. I just figured it was a nice song with poetic lyrics about how much Christ loves us and a great melody.

Kinda interesting how much we don't pay attention.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Ok, so this is a few weeks late. But I got a haircut! I cut my hair really short before I went to Jerusalem, spring 2007.

When I got home, a girl in my Relief Society announced that one of her singing groups on campus (Women's Choir? I don't remember) were doing a service project of growing out their hair and donating it to Locks of Love and she invited all of us to join in. Sure! Why not? Well, I didn't make it by the end of the school year. In fact, it took me two years. But after two years of only getting my hair trimmed, I did it. I grew my hair long enough to cut off 10 inches and donate it. Pictures? Of course.



Now if only I could figure out how to style it as beautifully as she did...

Friday, September 18, 2009


Ella has a new home! She's going to become an outside cat and be friends with Paley.

Thanks, Jessica for helping her find a home, and Emily for taking her.

We'll miss you, Ella, but we're super happy for you, too. I can't wait to see you climb a tree.

A New Home

As you know, we got a kitten on Mother's Day. I had wanted a kitten for a very long time, so when we got her, I was very happy. Sure, she was full of energy and really needy… but she was just a kitten. She'd grow out of it. Then Kessa was born. For three months I have tried to juggle Ella and Kessa. I've learned two important things about kittens. 1) Kittens and babies don't mix. 2) Kittens have energy. Lots of it. Kittens need room to run and climb and play.

So, it has been with much consideration that we have decided that we need to find Ella a new home. We need someone who can give her a better home than what we can. One that is bigger than our little condo. Maybe one with other cats she can play with. Or at least, with someone that can handle her energy better than I can. It wouldn't be so bad, really, if I didn't have to worry about Kessa. But Kessa's pacifiers are Ella's favorite play toys, and she simply can't stay out of Kessa's bassinet. And there have been too many episodes of Ella jumping on Kessa's face or batting her head. Like I said. Kittens and babies just don't mix.

So, sadly, until we get a bigger house, or at least one where a kitty can go outside, we need to go kitty-less. So, if you, or anyone you know, fits this description, please let us know. We really do love her, which is why we need to find her a better home.

Let me tell you a bit more about her. (And her good traits, lest you think she's just a naughty kitty.) Her name is Ella. Though, she mostly goes by Kitty. I think she'd respond better to a name like that. We've considered Chloe. I don't think she'd notice a name change. She's female (obviously) and calico. She's approximately 6 months old.

She loves water. A lot.

She loves to crawl into boxes and other small, confining containers. She's even good at getting out of them, even if we close the lid on top of her.

She's a really good climber/jumper.

And when she's calmed down a bit, or has been left alone for awhile, she is cuddly and purrs up a storm.

Included in this offer (if desired) is kitten food, kitty litter (and the box), cat nip, kitty treats, kitty toys, a scratching bag, nail clippers, and a half-used package of clear Soft Paws (sized Kitten/Small). And, of course, Ella.

You can leave a comment, email me (tiannahomer at gmail dot com) or call me if you know my number. Or you can talk to BJ, of course.

The Homer Curse

When you first hear the word "Homer," what do you think of?

If you answered The Illiad and The Odyssey, you are among the few. (And, I think, in the preferred crowd.) If you answered The Simpsons, join with the masses that think of a bald, yellow, cartoon character every time I introduce myself. (Yes, I know, BJ and his family have been dealing with this for far longer than I have. But it's still new to me.)

A week or two ago, Kessa and I took the car into Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed. The guy helping me was a young, funny, black guy. When I told him my last name, he started giggling. (I love it when guys giggle.) "Like, the Simpsons?" After a year plus of having this last name, I've stopped trying to disassociate myself with the Simpsons. "Heh. Yeah. Like the Simpsons." He giggled some more. Later, when my car was done, he came out giggling again. "Mrs. Simpsons with the Honda? Your car is done." Everyone else in the waiting room looked at me like, "Is her name really Mrs. Simpsons?" He looked at Kessa and asked, "And is this Maggie?" I turned to her, "I dunno. Are you a crazy little girl like Maggie?" Kessa grinned.

My brothers love the Simpsons. Now, I'm not against the Simpsons. I've seen a few episodes here and there and I'll admit that I think they're sometimes funny. But they're also often crude. So… I definitely don't go out of my way to watch them. I've found over the years that despite rarely watching the show, I've somehow incorporated much of the show into my vocabulary. I assume this is due to the fact that I tend to pick up on other people's phrases and many of the people I associate with love the Simpsons. I cringe every time I say "Doh!" or "I am so smart. S-M-R-T." But they are all too often the most appropriate things to say. I'm constantly amazed at how often I'll say something, and someone else will inform me that it was a Simpsons quote. I think I'm doomed.

Today I was chatting with my brother, Damian.

Tianna: "meh."
Damian: "What does that mean?"
Tianna: "it's a sound. The sound I would make if we were talking in person."
Damian: "is it like hmmm?"
Tianna: "No. It's like… meh. Like, I don't care that much. No big deal."

I've never been good at defining words. So, at this point, I decided to take my query to the Internets. Wikipedia to the rescue! To my horror, this is what I found:

It was actually spelled out in The Simpsons when Homer is trying to pry the kids away from the TV with a suggestion for a day trip. They both just reply 'meh' and keep watching TV; he asks again and Lisa says 'We said MEH! M-E-H, meh!'
The word gained popularity as a result of its use on The Simpsons. It was used in the 1992 episode Homer's Triple Bypass by Lisa describing being the MTV Generation. It was used in a 1994 episode, "Sideshow Bob Roberts," when a librarian reacts to Lisa's surprise that voting records are not classified, and also in "Lisa's Wedding" after Marge weaves "Hi Bart" on a loom to try to pique his interest in weaving and he says "meh." Lisa, in the 2001 episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer", spells out the word for emphasis, after Homer tries to interest her and Bart into going to a theme park.
It's official. I am cursed. (But I still love you, BJ!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Bday, Grandpa Homer!

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Homer!

Can't wait until I get to see you again!

Love, your favorite granddaughter
~ Kessa

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Bday, Aunt Jessa!

Happy Birthday, Aunt Jessa!

I miss our days of sleeping on the couch together.
Love, your favorite niece…

Happy Morning!

Kessa has slept the last 2.5 nights in her bassinet. It has been a much easier transition than I expected. The .5 night I ended up bringing her back to bed with us. But I think her struggles that night were more due to the noise Ella was making, wanting desperately to get into our room with us.

This morning Kessa woke us up with cooing and talking to herself, instead of the normal, "I'mHungryFeedMeNow!" cry. It was adorable and made me so happy!

And now, here's our newest picture of her… in her bassinet:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Canning Season - part 4

Now for the results. Let's do a little math in picture fashion*.

Equals all of the food we canned! (and froze)

Divide that by three and you get my share (this looks a lot smaller than it is. I should have taken a picture of it spread all over my kitchen floor as I tried to put it in my pantry. Which, btw, I fit it all in. Because, as we all know, I am awesome):

Inventory (of just my share):
Veggie soup: 8 chicken, 7 beef (quarts)
Harvard Beets: 6 pints
Pickled Beets: 15 pints
Pear Cinnamon syrup: 4 pints
Cherry Pineapple Jelly: 5 pints
Tomato veggie soup: 6 quarts (+6 of last years')
Corn: 10 pints (+24 old pints)
Spaghetti Sauce: 15 pints
Carrots: 24 pints
Beans: 27 pints
plus a few extra random things (like fruit cocktail! also carrot pudding, apple pie filling, and apricots) for fillers

I consider this a success. And my food storage is currently very happy. Y'know, if we want to live for awhile on just vegetables and jelly.

* Not everything fit on the table, plus some stuff was still cooking, not yet processed, or frozen when I took the original picture. So I had to do it in various pictures in order to get it all.
** Jessica, please note that I arranged all the pints on the table in rainbow order. Just for you. You'll have to ignore the quarts.
*** Note that Aunt Grace is still filling bottles. That bowl in the background filled several more pints before she was through.

Canning Season - part 3

We celebrated the end of canning by going to the Idaho State Fair. It was Kessa's first. She wasn't impressed. She spent most of it sleeping or crying. She did enjoy the petting zoo. At least, as much as a 3-month old can enjoy something other than food and sleep. Here she is, admiring a baby alpacha (which looks about how you'd picture a punk rocker llama… in a very cute sort of way). They were on sale for $595. Aunt Jessa is very upset that I didn't buy one for her, but considering my limited transportation home, I settled for a picture of one.
Taegen and Parker came along. Here they are in their double stroller enjoying their cookie dough Farr's ice cream. Mmmmm.
And the best part of the fair. Completely unthinkable, artery-clogging food. I spotted chocolate-covered bacon and simply could not resist the chance to try it. (Some of you will understand the necessity to not pass up such a treat more than others. Trust me, this is far better than bacon ice cream.) I was shocked at how good it really was. Like, I would jump at the chance to eat it again. (This is also what it looks like when Kessa is sleeping in my wrap.)

Canning Season - part 2

We did other miscellaneous stuff, too.

We made plaster casts of Kessa's hands and feet. Please note her nom-nom-noming on my arm.
Grandpa took Kessa on a walk, but the sun was hot, so she needed a bonnet and socks to cover her sensitive skin. Of course, I didn't think of packing things like that, so we found a bonnet I wore when I was probably 5, and socks that I think came off of a doll.
Kessa got to spend some time hanging out with her Great Uncle Wesley.

Canning Season - part 1

Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have a lot more flexibility with my time. For example, I often use my mom's canning to replenish my food storage. Usually, however, it's just a few jars here and there, as needed. I've really been wanting, for a long time now, to go home for a few days and just spend the entire time canning, so I could use my labor as payment for bringing home more food. I did just that a few summers ago and brought back a bunch of tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes. I've been itching to do it ever since. But I never could justify taking the time off work to do it again. Well, that changed this past week. My parents came down for a wedding, so Kessa and I jumped at the chance and went back to Idaho with them and my Aunt Grace (who became dubbed Grandma Grace (originally by my niece and nephew, Lexi and Parker, and was quickly adopted by Kessa and me). For a week the three of us canned like crazy. (Tuesday-Friday my mom worked days, so it was just Aunt Grace and I during the days.) Monday we got the most done, since it was a holiday and my mom could stay home. It was nice to have three people, because there was always someone available to hold Kessa if she was fussy, or to feed her (ok, just me on that one), or to put her to sleep. (Turns out, the Grandmas are much better at that than I am.) The rest of the days it was just Grandma Grace and I, so typically one of us was with Kessa while the other one canned. Things went much slower, then. But it was still a lot of fun.

Here is the kind of food we got to work with. Seriously, some of it was ginormous. Please note the pint canning jar in the picture for reference. And yes, that's a cucumber. (Travis, make sure Sanna sees this. Mom was proud of them after Sanna was telling her how big her tomatoes got.)
We babysat Damian's boys for a couple of hours one afternoon. Parker was a huge helper. Here he is, grating carrots.
Grandma Grace was super efficient. Here she is snapping beans while holding a sleeping Kessa.
I, on the other hand, was not nearly as good at multi-tasking. I put Kessa to sleep by reading her books about cows (hey, we were on the farm!) and doing no canning.
Kessa spent a lot of time in a playpen in the kitchen. Here's one of the few times she actually fell asleep in there. (Please note the fleece blanket. Idaho is freezing! How in the world did I forget that when I packed our clothing?)

Once-a-month cooking

Remember me talking about wanting to do once-a-month cooking to put in the freezer? (Which, btw, that post was intended to be funny, not begging for cookbooks. But that's ok. Thanks for all of your comments on cookbooks you've used or know of!) Well, BJ's mom gave me a birthday present of Dream Dinners. (Which, if anyone decides to give it a try, list me as a reference so I can get credit to do it again!) They tasted really good, but I didn't think I could justify paying for every month. But it was an awesome gift at a perfect time. (Who wants to cook when they have a newborn?) Then my sister, Jalin, tipped me off to Once A Month Mom, a website that plans a menu for once-a-month cooking for two families of four, including a shopping list, menus, and step-by-step instructions for the most efficient way to cook everything. I decided that I wanted to try it. I talked to our friend, Bonnie, to see if she wanted to do it with me. (It is set up for 2 families, after all.) She jumped on the chance, and off we went. Last Saturday was the big cooking day. And now I tell the story… with pictures!

Here is most of the food we started out with. Not pictured are three crockpots already cooking, and several pounds of chicken and hamburger.
This is how Ella helped out. (Remarkably, she was actually really good for the entire time.)
BJ came along to help keep the girls all entertained.
But he also helped out with the cooking when it was needed.
By the end, he was plumb tuckered out. (It didn't help that he did a Lord of the Rings marathon the night before and was running on 1.5 hours of sleep.)
This is Bonnie's daughter Ellie (and Sarah, BJ and Kessa (in a wrap) in the background). This picture doesn't do justice to how messy she got.
Perhaps this picture of Sarah will give you a better idea. Yes, she dunked her entire hand into the carmel dip.

Somehow I managed to not get any good pictures of me, and none of Bonnie at all. I guess the two of us were just too busy working. (Or, perhaps, too busy taking pictures of other people?) Anyway, fun times were had all around. And I somehow managed to get all of my freezer meals into my fridge-freezer with room to spare. I am that awesome.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kessa’s birth story

I suppose I should start by telling you all that I was hoping for a natural childbirth. I know, I know, I’m crazy. I was really torn because I don’t really like drugs so much, but I was also scared to death of labor pain. My sister, Jalin, suggested HypnoBirthing (she had read the book and had gone natural for most) so after a lot of research, BJ and I ended up signing up for a class. We went with Launi Anderson in Orem (which was nice, because it was within walking distance of our condo. We really liked her, and really enjoyed the classes. I would recommend her. It was really informative in learning how the body actually works and why women feel pain during childbirth. It also helped me make decisions and write up a birth plan (I had never before considered writing a birth plan). It included things like, drug free, natural childbirth. No pitocin unless absolutely necessary. Intermittent monitoring so I can walk around. Stuff like that.

I should also warn you that I like to tell details. So, this is going to be detailed (although, I know I left some details out that I wanted to keep, but just couldn't fit in without making this an epic novel). This is going to be long. So, if you're faint of heart or easily bored, I wouldn't recommend you keep reading. For the rest of you, I'll add pictures so you don't get so bored.

So... onto the actual birth story.

Two weeks and one day before Kessa’s due date (Friday, June 5) I went in for my weekly exam with the midwives. I didn’t think anything of it; just a quick check, then back home to do some stuff before I picked up BJ at work and headed up to SLC for his cousin’s wedding dinner and reception.

Or, at least, that was the plan. Life had other plans, though. Abby, my midwife of the day (it’s a group of midwives and I met with whoever was working that day) first felt to make sure Kessa was still head down. She was. And like every other midwife for the past two or three weeks, commented on how incredibly low Kessa was. I had thought that was odd for a few weeks, since I couldn’t feel Kessa’s head. And everything I had heard of the baby dropping made it sound like I’d be carrying a bowling ball between my legs. But it didn’t. This would be the first of my many abnormalities (that I am very grateful for, mind you) in my labor with Kessa. Then she measured me. And measured me again. And again. She listened to the heartbeat. Then measured me again. Finally she let me in on her thoughts. “You haven’t grown in your past three visits. That isn’t normal.” [Enter a speck of fear] I’d like you to go down and get an ultrasound, just to make sure everything is ok. (Several times in here it was mentioned that my three visits were over 10 days, not the typical 14 days.)

The ultrasound was fun. The lady doing it was very nice and explained to me what everything was and why she was doing certain measurements. It was a lot more complex than the ultrasound I got at 20 weeks. She measured Kessa’s head (commenting on how small her head was, but owning that to the fact that Kessa’s head was so low, something that made her job very difficult), her tummy, her leg. She took pictures from all sorts of angles, then measured the amniotic fluid, running it through a rather complex logarithm, then sending me back to Abby’s exam room. Abby examined the report and told me that my placenta was starting to calcify (which is normal when you’re reaching the end of term, but my levels were more like what they’d typically see in someone overdue, not someone at 38 weeks) and my amniotic fluid was too low. It might be possible to send me home to drink a lot of water over the weekend (apparently the amount of water you drink can affect your amniotic fluid levels. Who knew? Pregnant women, take heed; drink lots of water.) but with something like this, she needed to consult with the doctor on duty. (The midwives team up with a group of three doctors for emergency situations. I guess I qualified.) While she was talking to him, she sent me in to have a stress test. Having no idea what a stress test was, I had to chuckle. Of course I was gonna be stressed! She just told me that my baby may be in danger! Turns out they weren’t measuring my stress levels though [smile], but rather, Kessa’s. Or rather, they measured her heart beats and my contractions.

Her heart beat was steady. Apparently steady enough that it worried them. (“We like to see some variance.”) So they gave me some juice to drink. Her heartbeat rose. Which apparently was good. I got sent back to Abby’s exam room where I waited and waited. I was dying to call BJ, but he was in a movie. (Yes, he and his coworkers got paid to go watch Star Trek.) I knew he would be just fine with being interrupted, but I didn’t really have anything conclusive to tell him yet, so I waited. I waited what seemed like forever, and it had to have been some length of time, because I had a janitor and another midwife step in to make sure I was supposed to be there and that Abby knew I was there. “Yup. She’s in talking to the doctor.”

Finally Abby came back to break the news. They were gonna induce me. That night. “It might be ok, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.”

I left their office in a daze, got in the car and called BJ. They had just gotten out of the theater and were on their way back to Mozy. I asked if I could just pick him up right then. He agreed. Knowing he’d take longer than I would to get there, I sat in the car and cried until I could calm down enough to drive safely. I prayed all the way to Mozy, trying to calm down and knowing that upping my stress levels wasn’t gonna help the baby. I broke the news to BJ. He held me while I cried again. Then we drove home.

On the way, I called my mom. The day before, James and Leigh (my eldest brother and his wife) had taken their kids up to my parents’ house in Idaho to spend a week. When my mom answer, I asked, “You don’t really want to spend a week with those kids, do you?” Then I told her the news. And cried again. Seriously. Being emotional in general topped pregnancy hormones, then getting the news that I was being induced two weeks early really was getting the better of me.

We got home and started packing. Luckily, I had written up a list of things to pack in my hospital bag a few weeks prior, but I had never gotten around to actually packing it. I mean, I still had two weeks! BJ and I packed, ate as much food as I could stomach (of lighter food. I think it was eggs, in fact) since I knew they wouldn’t let me eat at the hospital and I just don’t do well on an empty stomach. BJ called his parents to let them know. (His sister left to Ecuador that morning and his dad to Texas for a business convention.)

We arrived at the American Fork Hospital around 6:30 pm. They got me all checked in and got me all hooked up. I had a heplock (in case I needed an IV), and they put the baby monitor/contraction monitor on me. As long as I was on medication to induce me, I had to be on monitoring. (Which was really annoying, because I couldn’t really move much.) So by 7:45 pm, they finally gave me Cytotec, which is supposed to soften the cervix. Apparently at other hospitals they give it over and over again to induce labor, but at American Fork they give it every 4 hours, as needed... hoping that once the cervix softens, my body will kick in and take over, and viola! Natural childbirth is a possibility again!

The monitor showed me having contractions, quite frequently in fact (4-6 mins apart), but I couldn’t feel them at all. Finally at 8:45 I felt my first contraction. And it was mostly me thinking, “Hey, I think I felt something”, look over at the monitor, “Hey! That was a contraction!” BJ asked what it felt like and the best description I could give was that it felt like Kessa was pushing against the front of my pelvis. It was just sort of a ... pressure.

9:45 I got stats done. Oh, did I forget to mention that? I was a little bored, and I was the only one at work that knew how to do stats. I had been mostly done with them anyway, so I finished them while in labor. (Admittedly, I didn’t feel like I was in labor. I felt like I was laying on an uncomfortable hospital bed doing nothing. So all you people who got emails from me or chatted with me while I was in labor, it’s not as crazy as you thought it was. I was simply bored. Next time, maybe we’ll try to figure out how to bring our Wii. MarioKart while in labor. Awesome.)

10:45 we decided we were ready for bed. BJ’s bed was much more comfortable than mine, but I was attached to monitors, so I couldn’t go sleep with him.

11:45 they came in and checked me. I was 60-70% effaced and dilated to a 3. I was also having contractions every 2 minutes. They decided not to give me any more Cytotec; just to let my body take over. They also offered me some Ambien to help me sleep so I’d have more energy the next day to go through labor. I declined, because I was feeling pretty tired anyway. So I turned on the Rainbow Relaxation track on my iPod and prepared to sleep. I rarely made it all the way through that thing awake.

12:30 I was still awake, so I asked them for the Ambien, afraid that I’d be too tired to go natural if I didn’t get sleep. They told me that it would increase my chances for needing pitocin. (Sure, now they tell me.) So I declined again.

I finally got some sleep, though with that belly and that ridiculously uncomfortable bed, it wasn’t the greatest quality of sleep. At 4 am they came in and checked my cervix again. I was dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced. She scratched my membrane in the process. (The way she said it, it sounded like she did it on purpose... but I’m not sure.) My contractions were still 2 mins apart, so they decided to hold off on the pitocin some more.

I got some more sleep until 6 am when the nurse came in to tell me they were switching shifts and to wish me luck. BJ woke up then, too. I called Mom Lovell to tell her what was going on.

At 6:30 my new nurse came in. Her name was Carol and was really, really nice. She printed out Kessa’s wristband and wristbands for BJ and I to match. She wanted to start the pitocin then, but I asked her not to, if possible. I didn’t mind waiting. (I’m telling you, the contractions didn’t hurt.) She said she wouldn’t yet and would call the midwife to talk to her about it.

At 7 Carol brought in juice and crackers for BJ and and jello and a popsicle for me. I was starting to hate the clear liquid diet.

7:05 my mucus plug came out.

8 am: new midwife. Kathryn left and Claudia came on duty. She checked me again at 8:30 and I was still at 4 cm and 80% effaced. Wait... I came down 10%?! I asked Claudia and she checked again and said she was sure I was at 80%, but could see why someone else would have thought 90% [enter some medical mumbo jumbo here]. Seeing as how I had gone 4 hours without any progress, we started to discuss my options. This is where my birth plan really started to go down the tubes.

9:15 they stripped my membranes. Apparently it went really well and Claudia was pretty confident it’d do something. Nothing. In fact, my contractions were becoming less regular. At 12:15 pm they started me on Pitocin. The contractions came back up to 2 minute intervals, and were more intense. And by that, I mean I could feel every 2nd or 3rd one. And I still wouldn’t say they hurt per se. Rather, they felt a bit like menstrual cramps. Though, there were still many times that I only knew I was having a contraction because my hand happened to be on my tummy and I felt it harden, or I saw it on the monitor. I decided that if this was what labor felt like, women everywhere were pansies.

We spent our time playing SkipBo, on our laptops, walking around the hospital, and sneaking me food when the nurse wasn’t looking. (Only string cheese and yogurt. Calm down. I needed something to keep me from fainting.)

Around 5ish we started talking about our options again. I simply wasn’t making any progress. I was on the highest dose of Pitocin they wanted to give me and my contractions were slowing down again. My body simply didn’t want to be in labor. So, I could go home, drink lots of water and have my amniotic fluid levels tested again on Monday, or they could break my water. Seriously? I had been there for 22 hours and my tailbone was killing me (stupid uncomfortable bed) and now they were giving me the option to go home and drink lots of water? Blah. I really didn’t want to go home, but I also really was afraid of having them break my water. If they did that, there would be no turning back. Everything they had tried to induce me up to that point had failed. If this one failed, it was a guaranteed C-section. I called my sister, Jalin, and asked what she’d do. “Pop those membranes! Get that baby out of there!” Turns out, neither my mom nor Jalin had ever had their water break on their own. Apparently we Lovell girls have membranes made of leather. About that time my parents and James’ kids showed up. So they sat in there for a bit while we discussed, then my dad took the kids home and my mom stayed and talked it out with us.

Far too emotional, I agreed to have them break my water. Seriously, up to this point, I had done the entire hospital experience without tears or serious emotions. I had been happy and upbeat. (Except when they checked my cervix. That, my friends, is quite uncomfortable.) And here I was risking everything I had wanted to do when I started out. And I cried. Which made my midwife start to backpedal a bit. “Are you sure you want to do this? We don’t have to. Really, we don’t.” So I took some deep breaths, held BJ’s hand, and calmed down and told her to do it.

That’s a strange sensation, water gushing out of you. Tons. Of. Water. The first big wave came out. Claudia: “Huh. Well, that’s more than they said you had in you.” Second gush came out. Claudia: “Yup, that one, too.” And then there was a third gush. And then there were small gushes that continued over the next hour. I definitely had enough amniotic fluid. We finally learned that I had no reason to be there by removing all choice and requiring me to be there. Within minutes I had joined the Pansy Club. I went from thinking contractions were no big deal to realizing what labor was actually all about.

Earlier, in my boredom, I practiced my Balloon Breathing while watching the monitor. I would go a few contractions just breathing normally, then a few contractions Balloon Breathing. I found that Balloon Breathing really did cut my contractions in half. I’m glad I had convinced myself of the truth of that, because when those hard contractions suddenly hit, I knew I could cut the length of the pain in half. Perhaps not the intensity, but the length. It didn’t take me long of laying in bed to realize that I really didn’t want to be laying in bed. So I begged them to fill up the tub. We had read somewhere just days earlier to have the husband bring swimming trunks in case he wanted to get in the tub or shower with you, so we had. I’m very glad. That tub was too long for me, so I had to stretch my toes to reach the end to keep myself steady. Not a great way to relax. So BJ changed into his swimming trunks and sat behind me, propping me up, and pouring water onto my belly, since I couldn’t submerge it due to the fetal monitoring.

BJ sat there, talking into my ear, trying to help me relax. I remember him talking me through my relaxation place... a waterfall much like unto Ein Gedi. I also remember not really being there. The pain was too much. But I also realized that just the sound of his voice had become relaxing to me. Whenever he’d stop and talk to someone else and stop focusing 100% on me, I could feel the pain intensify. As soon as his attention came back to me, I could relax more and the pain would lessen to a more bearable state. Once I relaxed that first tiny bit, I could focus more on what he was saying. I remember him telling me to relax my feet, and I remember thinking, “THERE IS NO WAY I CAN RELAX ANY PART OF ME!” But I would focus all my attention on my feet and trying to relax them. And as soon as my feet would relax, it was a lot easier to get the rest of my body to relax. And then the contraction would subside and the pain would be temporarily gone. We repeated this process many, many times.

I remember telling BJ that I couldn’t do this. He pointed out that I was doing this.

After awhile, all I could thing of were pain medications. Something, anything, to take away the pain. So I asked Claudia if there was anything that would even just take the edge off. She checked me and I had dilated more and effaced a lot more (I don’t recall the actual numbers. I wasn’t really in a fit state to write them down, either) and she informed me that she thought the end was approaching fast and the only pain meds they could now give me were narcotics through my IV. I didn’t want narcotics. So I declined. Instead I asked her to lessen my pitocin levels. Launi (HypnoBirthing instructor) had explained to me how pitocin causes contractions which can either amplify your existing contractions or cause contractions between your contractions, giving you no breaks. Because of this, in my birth plan I had requested not being given pitocin, but if I had to, that they turn it off as soon as my own contractions kicked in. So I asked Claudia if she could turn off the pitocin. She wasn’t convinced that my body was really laboring enough by itself, but she wanted to abide by my birth plan as much as possible, so she agreed to give it a chance. We compromised and she lessened the pitocin level by half. That reduced the pain of the contractions just enough that I could handle them.

After awhile, my body didn’t want to be laying down anymore... not even in the tub. So I got on the birthing ball. Unfortunately, one thing we realized during the 22 hours of non-labor was that when I was sitting up, the baby’s vitals were a lot harder to get. If I was standing or laying down, it wasn’t a problem. So sitting on the birthing ball wasn’t cutting it for Claudia. She sat there next to me, trying to move the monitor by hand to find the heartbeat, but to no avail. She told me I had to either stand or lay down through at least a couple of contractions, to make sure the baby was ok. (They had to keep monitoring her as long as I was on the blasted pitocin.)

I tried standing, while BJ was supporting me, but 23 hours of being on a clear liquid diet didn’t allow that. I was far too shaky. So I laid back down on the bed. I can’t explain it to you, but my body did not want to be laying down. Up to this point, I would ask, “Could I please get in the tub/get on the birthing ball/switch positions” etc. Esp. while Claudia was trying to monitor me. The need to get off my back was so strong that I didn’t even have time to ask, I just flipped over onto my hands and knees. They raised the head of the bed so I was kneeling upright, facing the bed, and being supported by the head of the bed. BJ pushed on my tailbone to give counter pressure which was so nice. And for the next twenty minutes, I pushed.

The rest of it comes back to me in flashes. I remember thinking that surely her head was out. Claudia kept telling me that she could see her head, and in my mind, seeing her head was equivalent to her head being out. So why did they make me keep going and why did it continue to hurt so bad? I remember BJ telling me he could see her head. I remember calmly telling BJ that if he ever wanted any more kids, either we were adopting, or he was going through labor. I remember him leaning over my shoulder and telling me, “You’re gonna be a momma!” I remember chuckling a little and saying, “You’re gonna be a daddy!” And I remember that made him choke up and start to cry. I didn’t have the energy to cry. But I remember thinking it was cute that he was emotional about being a daddy. I remembering biting the bed. I remember crying out and thinking, “Huh. I know I’m not a screamer, but that was a lot closer to a scream than I thought I would ever do.”

And then she was out. 8:15 pm. I remember the relief. I remember trying to figure out how to get turned around without getting tangled in the umbilical cord so I could hold her. I remember her hand on her super purple face. I remember Claudia telling me she was born with her had on her face, so I tore. I remember the stitches. I didn’t like those. I remember just gazing into Kessa’s face and the wonder that a newborn baby instills. I remember her crying and instinctively I started shhh-ing her. It immediately calmed her down. Good to know. After 2 minutes, or was it 20? I remember Claudia urgently saying that they had to cut the cord. I looked up, slightly alarmed. We had agreed to delayed cord clamping. She wouldn’t cut the cord until the cord had stopped pulsing. It shouldn’t be an urgent thing. She just looked at me with a very determined look on her face and said, “The placenta is coming out. We have to cut it.” I decided that sounded reasonable and that I had no energy for split second decisions. It definitely hadn’t been the 30 seconds that most doctors do. BJ got to cut the cord.

I did it. Not medicine free, thanks to the "need" to be induced, but pain medicine free. And only two hours of actually feeling contractions. It's amazing how God works, too. I know it hurt. I remember really wanting pain meds. I remember telling BJ I didn't want to do it again. But to be honest, I can't even remember what the pain felt like. And looking back I think, "Oh, I could totally do that again." I think this is how women through time have been willing to have multiple children. He's a smart man, God is.

For awhile we just got to hold her and love her. After they had most everything cleaned up and my stitches in, they took her briefly to weigh her, etc. It took, maybe 5-10 minutes. Then they brought her back. And I got to hold her again.

Just before 2 hours were up, they told me they had to take her down to the nursery to give her a bath and do her PKU test. I sent BJ down with them to learn how to give her a bath, and because I didn’t want her to have to be alone. She needed her Daddy.

I remember them giving me my dinner. All day I had been begging for a turkey and swiss sandwich. I just wanted real food so badly. So for my dinner, they brought me turkey. There was no swiss, nor was it a sandwich (it was more a Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, etc.), but I had never tasted anything so good in my entire life.

I remember shaking so badly I could barely hold my fork. I remember my mom laughing at me because I was shaking so bad. I’ve never realized how wonderful heated blankets are. By the time they moved me to my recovery room, I think I had three heated blankets on me.

They brought Kessa back into me in the recovery room and I just held her all night long. There are many more stories that I could tell you from that point on, but that’s not really the birthing story, is it? And you’re all probably sick of me and my need for details. So, without further ado, and 12.5 weeks later, I present to you,

Kessalyn Elizabeth Homer
6 lbs., 15.5 oz.
18 inches