Displaying the Nativity Set

Ask me about the Christmases of my childhood and I will most surely mention this little nativity set. When I was a little girl, I used to delight in setting up the nativity set when we decorated for Christmas.

My Sister and I regularly knelt before it and played with the pieces, or we simply crouched in front of it, gazing at Mary and Joseph and the three wise men and baby Jesus and the animals and the angel looking down over all of them.

Years ago, I laid down the law and said that once My Parents no longer wanted or had a place for it, the nativity set was coming with me. My Sister never protested—whether out of kindness or because she knew it was a battle she'd lose, I don't know.

When My Parents retired and moved to Georgia this year, the nativity set was delivered to our house (along with an abundance of random childhood and high school memorabilia).

So now it is on display in our little house in L-Town, and hopefully for many Christmases to come our little guy will gaze at it and play with the animals and enjoy it as much as I have.


Decorating for Christmas

I wish I could take credit for the lovely Christmas tree in our living room.

And for the stockings hanging in the dining room (because, sadly, we do not have a mantel upon which to place them).

Normally I do all the decorating myself, as Conservative Hubby doesn't really get into that sort of thing. Only this year, the decorations appeared as if by magic while I took a much-needed nap about a week after the little guy was born.

Some very helpful elves (aka My Mom and My Sister) did all the decorating work.

I have had many hours at home in the last couple of weeks to enjoy their festive touches, and for this I am grateful.


Giving Birth

My parents arrived in L-Town on November 18 just in time to meet Conservative Hubby, his parents, and I at one of the Mexican restaurants in town for dinner. It was, I guess you could say, our last dinner out before we became parents.

I had a few fairly strong contractions during dinner—strong enough to give me pause in the middle of eating my steak burrito—but didn't think much of it because I'd been having contractions off and on for more than a week. They had gotten stronger in the last couple of days but still weren't anything to write home (or, perhaps more accurately, rush to the hospital) about, as they weren't at all consistent in their frequency or length.

After an enjoyable meal, we headed home to get My Parents set up with their makeshift basement bedroom where they'd be spending a couple of weeks. Shortly thereafter, Conservative Hubby and I headed to bed, as we had to be at the hospital in Springfield by 6 a.m. to start the process of trying to flip our little breech baby and, hopefully, getting labor started.

At 1 a.m., I went from fast asleep to bolting out of bed with a start. Even in my not-yet-awake state, I knew instantly that my water broke. I'd read that despite what you see in the movies, in many cases labor does not start with a dramatic gush. It may be a trickle or your water may not even break until you're at the hospital and in the throes of serious contractions. But for me, the dramatic gush was real.

In the same moment I jumped out of bed, I was already telling Conservative Hubby to get up, we needed to go, my water broke.

We were both pretty darn calm about the whole thing. Conservative Hubby didn't say much except, "Let me take a shower and then we'll go." And for some reason it seemed totally sane that he would want to bathe before we drove 35 minutes to the hospital, so I set about getting dressed and trying to clean up a bit. I called the hospital to let them know my water broke and to confirm that we should come in right away since the baby was breech (they said yes). Then I headed downstairs to wake up my parents and let them know we were headed to the hospital earlier than planned and that I'd keep them updated.

And then we were off.

At the hospital, things proceeded much as you would expect. We arrived at the emergency room since it was after hours, I was wheeled up to the maternity suites, they got us set up in our room, and then a steady parade of nurses began coming in, hooking me up to monitors and preparing me for surgery.

Conservative Parents arrived in time to stop in and say hello before we were wheeled down to the operating room. Conservative Hubby was particularly excited to don scrubs for the big event—although less so when he discovered they were paper scrubs and not "real" ones.

Only about 10 minutes into the surgery, we heard the cries of our little guy. He was born at 4:15 a.m. One of the nurses brought him around the curtain that was hung over my abdomen to show him to us as soon as they cut the cord, then they whisked him to the corner to clean him up. Conservative Hubby went to watch them work on the baby and then, while the doctor worked to finish the surgery and close me up, Conservative Hubby held the little guy next to me so I could look at them both. It was a surreal moment, to say the least.

And as soon as we made it back to our maternity suite, I got a chance to hold the little fellow. It was an exciting moment, but also very strange to look at the little creature that I'd carried around for the last nine months and to be holding him in my arms and not in my belly anymore.

(For both Conservative Hubby and I, it was also a little bit overwhelming, knowing that we were wholly responsible for the little bundle in our arms. That's a feeling that still hasn't gone away and perhaps never will.)


Delivery Options

From early on in my pregnancy, I knew I wanted to deliver our little one into this world as naturally as possible. I had no intention of being militant about a natural childbirth—I was not going to adamantly refuse any and all drugs at all costs. But I have a pretty high pain tolerance and, barring any complications or unforeseen issues and armed with deep breathing and relaxation techniques honed from years of yoga practice, I had every intention of undergoing a drug-free delivery.

Conservative Hubby, of course, thought I was nuts—particularly once we attended a day-long Lamaze class and learned in more detail what happens during childbirth and what the drugs can do for you. He questioned why, when given the opportunity to deliver relatively pain-free, I'd ever choose the pain and agony of natural childbirth.

It's a reasonable question. I don't want to go into a drawn-out debate about the topic. I don't think there is anything wrong with a woman having a child with the assistance of the many drugs and medical interventions hospitals regularly use during labor and delivery. It's simply that after careful contemplation and research on the options, I decided without a doubt that I wanted to be fully aware, fully present, and fully feeling every moment of my son's birth—and to avoid the potential complications that not delivering naturally can sometimes lead to. Women have delivered naturally since the beginning of time, so it's really not that strange!

But it's a good thing that I wasn't, as I said before, militant about delivering naturally, because we discovered a few months before my due date that our little guy was breech. At that point, he still had plenty of time to flip around to the correct position—and many babies do, up until right before they're born. But as October gave way to November and the final countdown began, it became pretty evident that despite all the wiggling he was doing in my stomach, the little guy had no intention of budging from his breech position. His head was resting comfortably (well, for him anyway) above my belly button and his legs were curled up under his bottom way down near my pelvis. (Consequently, that is still one of his favorite positions to snooze.)

(On a side note, this position gave Conservative Hubby cause for alarm, because after our initial "its a boy!" sonogram, the bambino's position made it impossible for the "visual confirmation" Conservative Hubby needed that we were, in fact, having a boy. He grew increasingly concerned that we were going to bring home a little girl from the hospital and that she would spend the first year of her life wearing all of the boy's clothes we had been given as gifts.)

That concern never crossed my mind. I was more worried about the possibility of a c-section, which I absolutely, positively had no interest in having. Major surgery? No thanks. I knew enough about the potential complications and the long recovery time to know I'd take a vaginal delivery (with or without drugs) any day over surgery. Conservative Hubby thought I should just go with it. Spending less than an hour in the operating room rather than an unforeseen number of hours or days in labor sounded pretty good to him. To me, not so much.

After I learned the baby was breech I, of course, set about researching what I could do to turn him around on my own. Inversions? Yep, tried them. Elevating my pelvis on a big stack of pillows? Did that too. Putting a cold bag of peas on the top of my stomach so he'd want to flip and get his head where it was warmer? I tried that once and decided it was ridiculous and perhaps a little mean to give my baby a brain freeze before he's even born. Positive thinking and coaxing with phrases like, "Come on, flip buddy"? Did that every day.

Still, nothing worked, so in early November we set a date to try the last best hope for getting the baby to flip: Going to the hospital and having the doctor attempt to turn the baby. It's called a "version." I'd be all hooked up to an IV and given a drug (see! already had to change plans) to help relax my uterus, then the doctor would actually work on turning the baby by placing her hands on my stomach and pushing him around until he moved into the correct position. It wasn't a sure-fire solution, but it had a pretty high success rate. I was willing to try it if it meant I could still deliver naturally.

So we set the date: November 19. We were scheduled to go in very early in the morning for the version. If it worked, the doctor would induce labor right away with the hopes I'd have the baby before he decided to flip back around (which sometimes happens). If the version didn't work, while I was all hooked up and ready they'd whisk me in for a c-section and deliver the baby that way.

As disappointing as it was that I wasn't going to get to leave the birthing process up to nature, it was kind of nice to have a date in mind for when our little guy was arriving. And it was particularly nice that it happened to be the day after my parents were able to arrive in L-Town, a Saturday morning, and long enough before Thanksgiving that I could (hopefully) celebrate the holiday.

I held out hope that the version would work and I'd still be able to deliver, if not completely naturally, as close to it as possible. But I also went back and began reading about c-sections (I'd ignored the part of articles and books that dealt with them because I had no intention of having one), so I knew what to expect during the surgery and recovery.

You know me, gotta be prepared. And it's a good thing I was.


2 Weeks

It's hard to believe this little guy has been with us for two full weeks now.

It has been exciting and exhausting and definitely an adjustment.

I never knew it was possible to sit and stare at someone for hours but trust me ... it is.

And the adventure is only just beginning!