in the home

welcome sonja elizabeth

July 19, 2017

welcome baby girl!

Sonja, my lovely baby girl, has made me a momma for six (SIX!) months now. We’ve both grown and changed in so many ways, and we’re getting to the point where I just can’t hardly remember the day she was born. Sonja’s actual birth was very matter of fact, as I ended up having a planned C-section, but the days and weeks leading up to our day we’re quite suspenseful…

I decided very soon after finding out that I was pregnant that I wanted to try and have an unmedicated birth. Wes and I discussed, interviewed the two birth centers in town, and settled on a lovely midwife named Taylor. Our pre-natal care for the first several months was particularly uneventful, except for the time we thought we heard TWO heartbeats! This particular appointment was without Wes and on the same day as Back to School Night, so I actually ended up spilling the beans to several people, including some of my student’s parents (whom I had just met!) before making my way home to talk to Wes. I texted him before I left with the message “Go buy yourself some beer, and make sure you’re sitting down when I get home.” I thought I was going to burst through the door with the news, but telling my husband it might be twins was a million times harder than telling him I was pregnant to begin with!

Spoiler alert: There was only ever one bebe in there. And this was only the first instance in which I had to start letting go of all the little things I could not control.

Several weeks later, at our second ultrasound, we learned that baby was…large…and that perhaps our due date had been greatly misjudged. We scheduled a third ultrasound to monitor growth. At our third, we had our big scare–it appeared that the ventricles inside her brain were too large for her gestational age. Our physician assured us the discrepancies were mere millimeters, and that our real problem was that baby was breech as all get out.

The remainder of my third trimester was spent waffling between massive anxiety about her health and moments of pure hilarity as Wes and I tried every strategy for turning her–most of which involved me lying upside down on an ironing board propped up against the couch. My midwife determined that the bulge at the bottom of my uterus was still a butt, and not a head. She and I and discussed my health, the baby’s health, and the likelihood that baby would turn on her own with less and less room to wiggle. We decided to transfer my care to an OB/GYN and scheduled a version for December 14th. This was the first time we got to meet Dr. Bolger, the person that would actually deliver Sonja, and while pre-term delivery is a possibility with a version, we would not meet our baby that day. After fifteen minutes of attempting to turn the baby, I decided that Sonja knew best, and she remained Frank breech, with her butt aimed at my birth canal and her feet up by her head. Fifteen minutes doesn’t sound like much when you compare it to hours upon hours of labor, but it was an eternity when you have three grown women exerting force in several directions on your uterus while trying to turn a seven pound baby upside down. I had to rely on every single breathing and pain management technique I’d learned in our natural birthing class (Wes said he thought I was going to squeeze his hand off), and Dr. Bolger said she’d never seen someone handle the pain so well. I was proud of that, even as I relented and scheduled a C-section for December 28th.

The next two weeks were the longest, most uncomfortable days of my pregnancy. I was on one hand relieved that no matter what, I’d no longer be pregnant past 38 weeks, and on the other, desperate for labor to start even though it meant an emergency C-section.

On Wednesday, December 28th, Wes and I woke up very early and spent the morning trying to distract ourselves as much as possible. We were expected to be at the Labor and Delivery unit at 9:00, for an appointment at 10:00. I waddled around the house, wiping the counters that were already clean, sweeping the floor that had no dust, reorganizing things in the already organized nursery…the minutes ticked. By. SO. S-L-O-W-L-Y. I think I even cleaned out the fridge (again) to pass the time. Finally, my mom arrived and the three of us drove across the street to the hospital. Wes carried the duffel bag and my pumping bag, while I toted in the Jansport backpack I’d so carefully packed weeks before with baby’s stuff. It felt so strange to be walking into the hospital so calmly, knowing in a mere hour or two I’d be a mom. I remember thinking “Can anyone tell I’m about to have a baby? I WANT TO SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!” (I’m certain it was obvious, as a super preggo lady and her husband toted in THREE BAGS OF STUFF).

I packed several magazines to read (Glamour, Real Simple, and Women’s Health), fully expecting to wait around for hours before my surgery, but the Labor and Delivery unit was rather on schedule, and I was prepped for surgery within an hour of arriving. Dr. Bolger paid me a visit to discuss the procedure which went something like this: “So basically you’ll just be totally naked with a bunch of people doing tons of different things, but don’t worry, they’re so focused on getting baby here they won’t even notice you’re in the nude.” Ha! It made me laugh. We had to wait a bit for the anesthesiologist to “finish his sandwich” and then before I knew it, Wes left to scrub in and I was wheeled into a surgical theater for my spinal. The anesthesiologist gave me a brief overview of what the procedure would “feel” like–most notably, some intense pressure as they pushed on my stomach to “pop’” the baby out. The procedure began, and my blood pressure dropped a few times but was quickly corrected. All I can remember is feeling super tense in my upper body, with my arms in a T shape, as I waited a mere fifteen minutes for Sonja to be delivered. I must have really been tensing up in my shoulders, which ached for days after sitting in that position and holding all the nervous energy in my body.

Wes sat by my head the whole time, and we didn’t really talk much. I just had to focus on breathing, because if I wasn’t, my nerves started to get the best of me. One thing that I’ll never forget is something a friend of mine, Amy, said to me after my surgery–how BRAVE it is to have major surgery like that and be completely awake! And she’s so right. I imagine it’s as scary as delivering vaginally.

Finally, I heard Dr. Bolger call my name and tell me Sonja was on her way out. Next thing I heard–”Oh! She’s pooping!” This is how I know she’s mine. 🙂

It felt like a long time before I heard her cry, but it was just enough time for me to ask Wes “Can you see her? Is she okay?” Hearing her cry for the first time is an experience that is indescribable. It made me cry instantly, the first of many tears that fall as the only means of escape for the oppressive happiness that takes over your whole being.

Stitching up all those belly layers took ages, and I just had to wait while Wes held her after they took all their baby measurements. My arms were just too shaky to hold her. Finally, she was tucked up under a blanket, right next to my boob, and that little mammal of mine snuggled in tight.

in the home

…a little announcement

October 15, 2016

If you’ve noticed a bit of radio silence around here, it probably has something to do with the fact that my life has been turned a little upside down after discovering we are expecting a baby in January 2017!

Pregnant!

Thoughts have gone a little something like this…

6 weeks or so: “I can’t believe I’m pregnant!”
8 weeks: “I can’t believe I’m pregnant!”
10 weeks: “OMG I’M PREGNANT!”
16 weeks: “Wes, look, a baby bump!”
20 weeks: “Wait what…it might be twins? How will we pay for daycare? Braces? College?”
23 weeks: “THANKGOODNESSITSNOTTWINS”
25 weeks: “How can my belly get any bigger?”

Pretty much from then on…”I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE I’M PREGNANT!”

I have 12 weeks to go. It still feels very surreal and I can’t even begin to imagine the way I will feel when baby is actually here. Nursery tour coming soon…

–Catherine

in the home

blog friends + twenty percent off at viola maye

February 6, 2016

Macrame Wall Hanging

Do you ever just meet someone and think “Yep–I’ve just gotta be her friend!”?

This happens to me on occasion. If you’re an adult trying to make friends, you probably know the drill. You hear that so-and-so has a couple of interests that ARE IDENTICAL TO THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL INTERESTS OF YOUR OWN LIFE and you immediately enter stealth friend seeker mode. You sit by them at lunch. You make sure to name drop the obsessive hobby you both share. You both go “What?! No way?! ME TOO!” And like sand through the hour glass, so is the path to friendship paved.

This happened with my talented friend, Layne. After learning that we would be teaching partners during my first year of teaching, our first conversation went something like this:

Layne: “So, what do you do for fun?”
Me: “Well, I like to go to thrift stores…”
Layne: “Whaat? Me too. I love vintage.”
Me: “Whaat? My whole house is vintage.”
Layne: “Oh, I love decorating my house, too. What else?”
Me: “I have a blog…”
Layne: “Whaat? Me. TOO.”
Me: “No way. Gee, it sounds like we have a lot in common. Let’s see, what else…I’m sort of a cat lady?”
Layne: “I love cats like they are my own children.”

(or something like that)

I went home and within a few hours we were both following each other on Instagram, which further foretold the sort of friendship we were destined to have…at one point I thought I was looking at my own living room in her Insta feed…

Catherine's Living Room

Layne's Living Room

And then, Layne did the bravest of things and followed her dreams of living in…Seattle! So while it’s unlikely we’ll be demolishing any flea markets or adopting a pet kitten together, thank goodness for our blogs because from that common thread, we’ve started to become Internet friends.

Macrame and Kitty Meow

And you can imagine how thrilled I was when Layne gifted me with this beautiful macrame wall hanging just because I commented on its beauty and was desperate to find out when I could buy one from her Etsy shop, Viola Maye. How lucky am I, to know such a cool chick and talented artist, even from afar?! Her macrame wall hangings are hand crafted using cotton rope and driftwood from the Puget Sound, and I can’t get over how beautiful they are.

Macrame

Layne’s designs are made-to-order, and she does custom work too. Be sure to check out her shop, where you can use the code FIELDGUIDE20 for 20% off of a shop item. And for more Seattle adventures and decor inspiration, her blog, The Room Journal, and Instagram are not to be missed!

in the field

do quit your day job

October 1, 2015

do quit your day job

Hello!

Today I am teaming up with The Ladders, a career building company that wants to help you find a new career or improve your current one. They’ve asked me to share with you all the interesting bits about my career, and more specifically, how my “first” job got me here. Close friends will tell you that I had a bit of a quarter life crisis when it came to my first post-college job, and they’ll also tell you I love talking about finding happiness in your work. So I’m super excited to share this with you today.

For those that don’t know, I am currently a 5th grade science and math teacher. This is my first year of teaching. I know now that elementary education is the field where I have the most talent and can do my best work, but if you’d told me in 2007 that I’d be a teacher in eight years, I would have laughed. So hard. Right in your face. I never could have imagined teaching was my calling when I was 18 years old. In fact, I had to become a drastically different person from the time I started college to the time I returned to school to even know that I wanted to teach–or even be capable of taking on such a unique and challenging career.

Now, let’s be clear. I’ve never been shy of a challenge. In fact, from the age of six or so, I’ve wanted to be a physician. (Just check out this diary entry from my elementary-aged self for proof!) When I started college at Drury University, I forged ahead with this plan, even though, during my freshman year, I was already unsure about my major. I dabbled in psychology my sophomore year, and then went full steam ahead as pre-med. I graduated with a degree in Biology and after graduation, was paralyzed with fear over applying to medical school. So I decided to recalibrate and started researching nursing and physician assistant (PA) programs. I settled on a PA program and got to work bolstering my CV with the necessary pre-requisites I lacked, like accumulating over 2,000 hours of direct patient care experience.

So I applied for jobs at the hospital and even applied to an Emergency Medical Technician program. I landed a position with a regional healthcare system as a clinical laboratory assistant. This position included no direct patient care responsibilities, but there was the possibility for performing phlebotomy (drawing blood for laboratory tests)  every now and then, so I took it. At the same time, I was accepted to an EMT program. Looking back, I can be honest and say I still had no intention of ever actually applying to any graduate programs in the medical field. I couldn’t admit it then that I didn’t want to be a doctor, or a nurse, or a PA, or an EMT, but I continued with the plan. Pretty much for the sake of the plan.

It would take me two years to finally come to terms with the fact that I hated  working in the medical field. My first “real job” as a clinical laboratory assistant was not something I enjoyed at all. Still, I kept at it, vying for time on the phlebotomy floor. I ended up working a double shift–everyday–for months–to try and secure a position as a full time phlebotomist. Around that same time, our laboratory started outsourcing to the Mayo Clinic. I was pulled back down to specimen processing, which was the gig I was hired for, without a word about how much time I’d spent with double shifts on my schedule. Nobody even told me whether I was a good phlebotomist or not. I didn’t really know how to speak up for myself, and my resentment towards my job grew to the point where I knew I could not remain in the field–at all. My indecisiveness about entering the medical field coupled with the dislike I had for my current job was enough for me throw my hands up and finally move onto a different path. I was done pushing against the resistance I felt from my own intuition.

I had always known I wanted a professional career with a high level of critical thinking and decision making, but what I hadn’t known as a college student was that I would come to value creativity to the same degree. I didn’t know that about myself in 2007. I didn’t know that until I grew up a little, changed in the ways that young adults do, and moped through a job for two years that had absolutely no hint of creativity. After several more months of soul searching and crying in the shower, I decided to look into teaching. I came to the decision in a very practical way–with a pro/con list. “Pros” included “Teaching is creative,” “I love learning,” “I love school,” “I love structure” “I have way more patience now than I did when I was 18” and “I won’t have to go back to college for another four years.” I knew immediately that I had found my place the minute I stepped into an elementary classroom. I knew it in my heart.

As a first year teacher, I work longer hours than I ever did pulling double shifts at the laboratory. We’re talking 12 hours several days of the week, plus a lot of time on Saturday. But every single morning I wake up so excited to go to work. Exhausted, mind you (I’ve taken to rubbing ice cubes under my eyes to perk up in the AM), but HAPPY.

For a long time it was hard for me to get over the time I “lost” as a lab assistant. At the end of that era, I felt like I’d wasted so much of my life (at the old age of 24). I know now that those two years were just a time that I had to take to learn about myself–time I didn’t take in college while I so stubbornly–doggedly–trudged forward with my major.

My friend Whitney, who is probably the wisest friend I have, told me that when you’re “in it”–in that wild and scary time of navigating toward what you are meant to do–it feels like the longest road with a switchback every two miles. But then, when you look back on it, you can connect the big dots in a pretty straightforward way. You come to realize that the path couldn’t have been any different. You had to go that way. This, coming from a gal who has known forever that she wanted to be a dentist and is embarking on year three of dental school. Hmm.

But her words are still true, I think. And I’ve learned a lot on that seemingly endless trail I had to take to find my niche in life. Such as…

If you’re no longer learning at your job, find one that is more challenging for you or better captures your interest.

If you’re on a path that feels downright wrong, listen to that feeling.

And certainly, if you wake up at 4:30 in the morning and dance a jig right straight out of bed–well, you’ve probably found what you’ve been looking for.

–Cat