Friday, July 22, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

It's no secret that I am an impatient person and like to have things go my way. I like to have things/attend events/carry out plans/see results--right now. If it doesn't happen right this second, expect to see a fit or two thrown. Then again, after the apparent fit, I can regroup and do the whole "slow and steady wins the race" thing since having my own way trumps impatience but only after I throw my fit--got to throw my fit first. This obvious and oftentimes unattractive part of my persona possibly comes from my Daddy (he likes to have fits too), or it stems from my role as the youngest child (we youngests tend to have a lot of attention heaped upon us as babies and still expect it years later--like 29 years later). So when it finally came time for Jeffrey and I to entertain the idea of having children, little did I know of the roller coaster ride we were in for.

I don't know precisely when Jeffrey and I decided we should go forth and multiply, but I do remember we were not always on board with the idea. When we first got married, I had plans for graduate school, Jeffrey wanted to get established in his career, I wanted something that could pass for a career--wasn't quite sure what at the time, and basically children were the furthest things from our minds.

So after we accomplished those life goals, and add to that a brand new (well, new to us; the place was built in 1924) home and a van (to haul Jeffrey's drums, not for kids--actually, Jude has yet to ride in the van), we finally arrived at the inevitable--kids. We felt pretty good about our position on family. We both pretty much agreed on how we would raise them (although I'm still not totally on board with Jeffrey introducing Jude to sci-fi. I mean, I know he's little now, but eventually I will want Jude to date and get married, and nothing repels a woman quite like Dr. Who.) Anyway, we were ready.

It actually took a few years and a lot of heartache before Jude graced us with his presence. I'm not quite ready to share our experience in detail with the world, and I don't know when or if I can ever put that into words, but for those couples who struggle to have children, you are not alone. You really do have to have patience and lots of it (having God in your corner helps too). But here's what I can say about my experience: Jude was well worth the wait, and I'm saying this after having just changed a blow out of a diaper.

I've had many humbling experiences in my lifetime (and my faithful readers who have been following this blog with its sarcastic wit, you've probably already gathered this). However, this particular one takes the prize. I definitely learned my lesson on patience. Now I'm not going to say that from here on out, I will be the most patient person ever put on Earth who makes Job look like a jealous wretch, because even since Jude's arrival, I've had some setbacks. However, my fits are not as frequent as they once were. After all, when something doesn't go as planned, I now have a little face that looks at me daily to remind me to just let it go.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What's In a Name?

I've always wondered how I got my name. My parents didn't name me after anyone in particular, so how did they come up with Jessica Lea? Since I haven't really gotten a straight answer out of either parent, I'm working on just making up a good story about it. You know, to fill in the gaps. (Hey, Blanche Dubois lived her life telling what "ought to be the truth." That motto's good in theory, I guess.)

Anyway, I figure if Jude is anything like me, he'll wonder about EVERYTHING, and that includes the story of how Jeffrey and I came to name him.

So why did we choose Jude?
Answer: "Because 'Stairway to Heaven' would be a stupid name for a baby!" --spoken by the ever so wise Jeffrey Brown, Jr. Yeah. I married that.

Ok, here's the real story behind Jude's whole name.

Vincent was an easy decision for Jeffrey and for me as well. Vincent was Jeffrey's Papaw's name. Unfortunately, he passed away before I ever knew Jeffrey, but from all accounts I've heard, he was a great man. No surprise there since Jeffrey comes from a pretty great family who has treated me as one of their own since the day I met everyone. Since I love Jeffrey's family, I'm pretty sure I would have loved him too.

So what does my side of the family think about the name Vincent? Well, they all love the name too! Sure they think it's a sweet tribute to someone Jeffrey loved so much, but their enthusiasm stems from elsewhere. See, we have a deep love for all teams Wisconsin. Go up North and cut open any of their veins, and I swear they will bleed green and gold. Half my roots lie in that northern soil, so how appropriate that I would name my kid after the greatest man (or should I say god? Could go either way with that bunch) to come out of that state--Vince Lombardi!

We definitely couldn't go wrong with Vincent.

Then there's the other part of his name and what we choose to call him day to day--Jude. Since announcing Jude's name at 19 weeks pregnant, we have heard more Beatles "Hey Jude" references then I care to stomach. However, both of us really do like that song, and I have always liked the simplistic-no-fuss-monosyllabic names for boys. The other reason we chose Jude comes from a place a bit more personal (and a bit more Catholic). St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes. I'm sure it seems weird to many that I would name a child after someone whose name is associated with something so negative, but for me and Jeffrey, no name proves more appropriate. Before Jude existed, Jeffrey and I experienced a tragedy that really threw us for a loop, and maybe we ended up being better stronger people because of it. What I do know is that I look at my sweet baby every day and am reminded of how far we've come since then. I've never been one to focus on the past--always the future (and I have planned a whole post dedicated to this school of thought). However, our tragedy is something I never want to forget. For me, Jude represents what was lost and what is gained, and I guess that's what makes life so beautiful.

So Vincent Jude--such a big name for such a little guy! Of course, we wouldn't tell this whole story to just anyone because there are some emotional parts behind it, and who would want to witness a snot slinging in the midst of casual conversation? To just any ol' soul who asks about the name Jude, we just tell them we've named him after the heavy metal band, Judas Priest. And since mine and Jeffrey's weirdness is really easy to pick up on, they all buy it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I had a lot of things to be excited about with my little bundle of joy, but one of the things I looked forward to most was Jude meeting his cousins pictured above. That's Ronnie and Jillian, my sister Amanda's children. They live in Milwaukee, WI and manage to get down to Mississippi a few times a year. They're not twins in the sense that they simultaneously resided in Amanda's womb, but instead we'll call them "Irish twins" since they came one right after the other. In fact, Amanda even pointed out that she started out a school year pregnant with Ronnie and ended that same school year pregnant with Jillian. She really wasn't kidding when she said she loved labor and delivery.

Anyway, those two provided me with much entertainment my first week home with Jude. We played bowling, watched "Calliou" (if you haven't seen the show, the best way I can describe it is Pink Floyd music put into a storyline/cartoon. Basically what I'm saying is, that writer must smoke a pound of weed every hour on the hour in order to create each episode!), chased the Weezy cat (she's not the same anymore), and of course, played with Baby Jude!

These two fell in love with their new little cousin immediately. Actually, Jillian went right up to him and patted his head. Ronnie was a little apprehensive at first but once he decided Jude wouldn't bite, he looked at me and said, "I want to pet her." I guess I should give the back story to that.

Two days before, when Ronnie and Jillian arrived to my house, we all tried to shower them with hugs, kisses, and presents. Ronnie could've cared less; he just wanted to find Weezy-cat. That kid must have some kind of awesome memory because the last time he saw my cat, he wasn't even two yet; that was over a year ago! Anyway, he kept asking, "Where is he? Where did he go," so I explained to him that Weezy was a she. Anyway, I guess he thought since Jude was also mine, then he must be a she who needed to be petted too!

Anyway, it was sweet to see the cousins all getting along during the week. Ronnie and Jillian especially loved rocking Jude in his swing, but the real treat came toward the end of their stay when they got to hold him!

Jude is definitely calmer around them than Weezy was. You've probably noticed there are no pictures of Weezy with the kids. That's because she stayed the hell away. Maybe Jude would've done the same thing, but being only a few days old, where was he going to go?

I definitely had a hard time seeing these two off to Wisconsin. They provided me with a lot of insight of what's to come in the next year or two. All I can say is I better hit the gym now so I can keep up!

Now that Ronnie and Jillian are back in Wisconsin, they still talk about Jude. Whenever I call up there, Ronnie always wants to talk to Baby Jude (he also wants to talk to Weezy-cat; I do a pretty good "Meow" over the phone, but I need to step up my baby-speak). Amanda can't keep Jude's birth announcement on the refrigerator because Jillian keeps walking around the house with it and saying "Baby Dude" over and over again.

It really stinks that Wisconsin and Mississippi aren't any closer than they are. Regardless, I see these cousins being the very best of friends. I look forward to the adventures they'll have, but I'm also a tad bit scared of what they'll get into.

Ronnie and Jillian will be back Labor Day weekend for Jude's Christening. Also that weekend, Jude will get to meet his other cousins, my sister's stepchildren who are also quite fabulous themselves, Payton and Trey!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Labor--Not Just a Day Off Work Part 2

It's been a few days since my last post, babies can be sort of high maintenance, but I'm finally ready to continue my story.

Back in the delivery room, I had given up on having an easy labor. My worst fear--the c-section--was looking more and more enticing with each painful contraction (and by then, those were coming every minute to two minutes). My nurse called the anesthesiologist back in, but she quickly let me know that he may not be able to do a whole lot at that point.

Dr. Pryor, the anesthesiologist, decided he would just take out the epidural and put a new one in. Again, Mama opted to stay in there and help calm me, but this time she would regret her choice. Because the other epidural had numbed everything but my lower right side, getting me into a seated position and into a "C" shape proved quite a daunting task. Not only that, those contractions were still coming on strong. Mama held on to my shoulders and told me everything I needed to do--relax, take a deep breath, close your eyes and think of England (oh wait; that was Queen Victoria to her daughter and also how I ended up in this blasted delivery room), but you get the picture.

Anyway, Mama's pep talk went over as well as a leadened balloon. What with her words, the blood pressure cuff compressing, the needle going in my spine, my spaghetti legs falling off the stool, AND the contractions, I was not in the mood and proceeded to let her know. I'm not sure what I said, but she responded to everyone with "I'm her mother and she knows she can abuse me." Whoops.

Mama also felt it necessary to provide commentary on everything Dr. Pryor was doing. He was actually quite impressed with her descriptions, so I told him "Well, Mama's a doctor just not of the medical kind." He got a good laugh out of that.

After all that, the needle was in place and all we had to do was wait ten minutes to see if the epidural took. After that, there was nothing else he would be able to do. So we waited...

And would you believe...


Finally! Something went right!

As soon as he left, the nurse checked to see if I had dilated any further. As it turns out, I was 9 1/2 centimeters. Whew! That was close! Within minutes, it was time to push this baby out.

I couldn't believe that within a few minutes I would be meeting my little boy. It was the incentive I needed to get him out. So I gave that part my all just like I had pushed myself up that steep hellacious hill at my first 5 k run. It wasn't going to be long at all until I finally got to hold my baby!

Ok, so it only took an hour for me to realize that the pushing part isn't like it is in the movies either. (Hollywood really needs to stop playing with folks this way.) All that drama of inducing labor and getting a new epidural, and that kid still wouldn't come out! Talk about being physically exhausted, but I kept going, mainly because I knew that baby was going to come eventually and once he got here, the nurses would finally cease their patronizing tones of "You're doing so gooood, oh you're doing so good!" Here I lay spread eagle in front of God and everybody; I don't need them talking to me as if I finger painted the most "beautiful" rainbow in the kindergarten class!

So about an hour and a half total, I pushed for what felt like the zillionth time, and after Count 3, the nurses both shouted "STOP" and it was time to call in Dr. Nicols. Freakin' finally! So Dr. Nicols saunters in, asks me why I have the mirror covered up (is she for real?), and delivers the fine fellow you see above.

Here's some other things the movies fail miserably at depicting:

1. The baby comes out a gory mess. Seriously, when they held up Jude for me to view, one of the nurses said "You can touch him." I don't remember if I actually said it (Lord, I hope I didn't), but I did think, "Do I have to?" (Sidebar--just let me know where it is I need to go to accept my Mother of the Year trophy.) The kid was gray. And he had goo on him. (Shivers...) However, they cleaned him up quite nicely, and once I actually did hold him, I fell immediately in love.

2. Speaking of holding the baby, yeah, they don't hand him off to you right away. Oh no. It was at least thirty minutes before I got to hold him due to Dr. Nicols having to stitch me up and the nursing team getting all of his stats. Therefore, I got to sit there in silent agony for thirty minutes thinking that my child looked like the crypt keeper from "Tales from the Crypt."

On the plus side, though, I didn't have the c-section. I had made it and received a pretty amazing souvenir because of it.

Labor and delivery was painful. It was gross. It was scary. But here's the bizarre part. I would do it again. And again. And maybe again after that. No, not everyday like my nutjob sister said she would do, but I definitely have my sights on more children down the road. (I think Jeffrey wants more too, but he accidentally caught a glimpse of Dr. Nicols delivering the afterbirth, so I'm going to give him some time to forget that trauma and then revisit the issue.) Sure it's one hard and tiring day, but when you have the support that I had (I know I give my sister a lot of grief, but really I wouldn't have made it through my first week at home without her--more on that later), a husband who somehow managed to put his weak stomach in check and be there for me, and one sick sense of humor, labor and delivery is totally manageable. Heck, it's a cakewalk compared to actually raising the child! :)

Later on that day, my family had informed me that a terrible storm was brewing during the delivery. Of course, I was a tad bit occupied to notice. We needed the storm since it hadn't rained in over a month. But what's even more significant (and Lord, please don't let this be a foreshadowing moment), Jude arrived to the world at 4:45 p.m., and he brought hail with him!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Labor--Not Just a Day Off Work

Starting a blog was not something I had any interest in until recently. Actually, I never thought I had enough going on to express in anything longer than a Facebook status. Maybe I still don't. You be the judge on that one.

Anyway, I've decided to join the blogger world to share the greatest treasure I've received: my son, Vincent Jude, whom we just call Jude. On June 7, 2011 at 4:45 p.m., life as I knew it took a 180 in the form of an 8lb. 1 oz. adorable baby boy. Gone are the days of sleeping late (or sleeping at all), eating when I want, watching TV when I want, basically doing anything when I want. And guess what? I couldn't be happier! Today, Jude turned four weeks old. I realize time is just going to speed by, so I better get off my rump and record some of his most memorable moments (and some of the least memorable--what can I say? I'm a proud mama!) I'm amazed at how quickly four weeks has passed and a little scared, too. I mean, what's next? College? So I figure I'll start from the beginning.

In short, I found out I was pregnant with the little guy on October 1, 2010. Boy, was that a long time to wait until my due date of June 4 (and Jude kept us waiting three days past that)! Jeffrey and I were so excited and even a little nervous, but I'll save that for another post. Anyway, I spent my entire pregnancy trying to do everything right--eating sensibly, light to moderate exercise, resting, you get the picture. Jeffrey and I took childbirth classes, and while they seemed helpful at the time, and really they were, my labor and delivery went nothing like what I had mentally pictured.

About a month before Jude's due date, I was delighted to find out that I was dilated half a centimeter, and I just knew that baby was coming that weekend! About two days before his due date, I was disheartened to find out that I was STILL dilated half a centimeter. Jude was not coming out. Dr. Nicols told me that I would have to be induced. I was not happy. I had heard one nightmare story after the other about inductions, and they all ended in one way: C-SECTION. Now I know many women have had this procedure and those same women all had beautiful healthy babies and recovered remarkably. However, those women don't have the fear of the knife, general anesthesia, and hospital stays that I do. That fear probably stems from that eternity I stayed in the hospital when I was nineteen. But I digress. Dr. Nicols scheduled me to come in the following Monday evening to start Cervadil, a drug that would help me dilate, and then the next morning labor would begin with a hearty dosage of Potossin (or however you spell it).

My sister Amanda along with my niece and nephew had come down from Wisconsin to help me out around the house. Also in town awaiting Jude's arrival were my mom and dad. Jeffrey had to go into work on Monday morning to interview folks for the dance coach position, so I was glad to have the company just in case Jude decided to come on his own (and was I ever hoping he would!) Mama made my favorite meal: salmon croquettes, flat fried potatoes, homemade mac and cheese and surely there was a green vegetable worked in there, but now I don't remember. Daddy kept calling it my "last meal" since who knew when I'd be able to eat again? The food was delicious as always when Mama cooks, but I didn't eat a whole lot since I was so nervous.

Anyway, after a small little meltdown, a shower, make-up, and a generous helping of homemade strawberry shortcake, it was time for Jeffrey and me to head to the hospital--ready or not. Amanda kept telling me "Labor and delivery is easy. If I didn't have to be pregnant and raise the child, I would have babies every day." I'm not sure why, but those words made me a little less nervous.

After getting checked into the hospital and changed into my ever so fashionable gown, the nurse gave me the Cervadil, and we waited. It was pretty uneventful--or so it seemed. I was reading "Eat, Drink, and Be From Mississippi" (still working on it a month later by the way, but good book nonetheless), when my nurse Christy came in to adjust the heart monitors. I didn't find any reason to be alarmed since she had been in the room a couple of times before to do the same thing, so I just kept reading. (By this time, Jeffrey was passed out on the couch. Hospitals have that effect on him.) All of a sudden Christy flattens my bed and starts turning me from side to side. Meanwhile, my book had fallen out of my hands somewhere. She then buzzed another nurse for assistance, and the two of them kept turning me side to side while telling me "Don't panic. Don't say anything." Yeah. That was easy. Next thing I know, I'm strapped to an oxygen mask for the rest of the night, and they yanked the Cervadil since the baby's heart rate was dropping. Great.

The next morning, Dr. Nicols came in to check on things (still hadn't dilated any), but she decided to start the potossin anyway. She also tried to break my water. I'll spare you the details, but it did hurt! And then come to find out, my water didn't break, and she was going to have to come back and try again! By that point, I was thinking maybe I should take all of this back. As soon as she left, I had to go to the bathroom, so the nurse helped me out of bed. When I stood up, well, let's just say it was like those women who go into labor in the movies. Dr. Nicols didn't have to try again; I should have been embarrassed by the whole ordeal, but I was too relieved to care.

Wouldn't you know that about an hour later, the baby's heartrate drops again and the nurses are back tossing and turning me around, and back in the oxygen mask I go for the duration of the labor! Dr. Nicols comes back and tells me if his heartrate drops one more time, she's cutting me open. At that point, I really did want to take it all back!

My mom showed up to the hospital and so did my in-laws. We had a nice visit, but then the contractions were getting more intense. The nurse came in to check for dilation, and I was at four centimeters! Then the anesthesiologist came in to start the epidural. Jeffrey opted to leave for that part, but Mama chose to stay. I wasn't at all scared of it since I wouldn't be able to see it, plus I have a pretty high pain tolerance.

O.k. o.k. I once had a high pain tolerance. Turns out, when it comes to labor, I'm a complete wuss. The epidural worked--except for my lower right side. So down flat I lay with this wedge under that side and that stupid oxygen mask covering my face and that damned blood pressure cuff contracting around my arm for what felt like every five seconds. All I knew to do was shout "Amanda is full of crap! She lied to me" over and over again. How dare she tell me that labor was awesome! Labor sucked! There's no way she could have babies every day! Jeffrey, of course, found this whole thing funny since he wasn't the one being blamed for my predicament.

By then, I was thinking that maybe I should take that C-section after all.

So digest all this, and I'll post more next time.