Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nothin' But the Truth (My Birth Story)

I hate when you ask someone for advice (especially when it comes to marriage or having babies) and they say "You'll see." Yeah, I know I'll see. I'm asking you so I have an idea of what to expect! Why are parenthood and marriage treated as a secret society that you have to be a member before anyone tells you anything? I never got that. So, this post is for all the pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant or considering having children in the future that can't get an honest account of what childbirth is like.


I awoke to some abdominal pains about 10:15am and called my birthing coach. I've always had severe menstrual cramps so it felt like cramps but instead of being on the side the pain was centralized and low in the pelvis. Some people feel contractions in their back, some describe radiating pain. So this is one of those factors that are different for each woman. I just know they didn't feel like the contractions that were described in my books or how I imagined my abdominal muscles would contract all over my belly. My doula (Sarah) confirmed that labor had begun and encouraged me to distract myself and be prepared for hours of inconsistent pain but to monitor the pains for their proximity and keep her informed. No problem. The pains were bearable, so I watched tv. I had the urge to keep urinating so I remember using the bathroom frequently.

Then my OB’s office called to confirm my Mon. appt. if I did not deliver that weekend. It was a Friday, I was due the next day (Sat.) When I told the nurse I think early labor had started she offered for me to come into the office for a resting monitor to track my contractions. My husband suggested we take my overnight bag I packed for the hospital but I was pretty sure we would be coming back home and didn't need it. No harm in having it in the car I guess. So we brought it. So at 1pm we went to the OB office. Nothing to be alarmed about. Contractions were barely registering. I had one small one during the 15 min session. I asked the doctor to check to make sure my water hadn’t broken because I felt like I was leaking and had been peeing a lot that morning. She thought this was unlikely but checked as a precaution. To everyone’s surprise I was almost 5cm dilated! We were instructed to proceed to the hospital and she would meet us later. Thank God we brought the hospital bag!Way to go Daddy! I updated my doula that we were en route to the hospital. She was shocked I was progressing so fast. She said she would meet us there asap.

The OB office called ahead to the hospital so my room was prepared. We settled into the hospital room and it took about an hour to hook me up to an IV and other monitors, take my vitals and info. When they checked my dilation I was 6-7cm. I had created a birth plan in advance and really had my heart set on a natural delivery (no epidural). So, I did all types of relaxation techniques with the help of my doula (birthing ball, hot shower, pressure points). Sarah was awesome and I lucked up with a great nurse, Eileen, who supported my desire for a natural delivery. Everyone kept emphasizing how well I was taking the contractions. Because of how low I was feeling the contractions, they didn't track well on the monitor. No one could warn me when one was coming or how big it was. I would close my eyes and not respond if someone was speaking to me. That's how they knew I was contracting. I survived by eating ice chips and focusing through the contractions. I didn’t really count but I knew they would last about a minute and sort of visualized going through a tunnel and knowing there was an exit on the other end.

Once I got to 8cm things stalled for a while. Like 2 hours without change. The pain level increased tremendously and I tried various positions but lying down was not comfortable. I threw up a few times during this phase. After about 2 hours and not much change in the cervix I agreed to have my water broken to expedite things and I was told that if I did not progress to 10cm withing the next hour that I would need to have pitocin to speed up things. I wanted to avoid that after hearing of how that drug intensifies the pain and frequency of the contractions. So I asked to get back in the shower. By this time I was having extreme pressure and suffering from exhaustion (approx 10pm). They didn't want to but relented as long as I promised not to push if I felt pressure and let them know if I had the urge to push or "go number 2". I asked if I could deliver in the shower and they catch the baby but no one thought that was funny. I wasn't joking. I was so tired by this time (about 12 hours since  pains started that morning). I managed to catch 2-3 minute naps in between the waves of pain. I would be so deep in sleep within 2 minutes I would forget I was in labor until the next contraction awakened me. Hubby was there cheering me on and asking “It is unbearable? You feel like you want to push? You ready to get out?” with every pang. To which I would nod or grimace or ignore him. I’m sure he felt helpless. But I didn’t know how he could help me either.

After about 30 minutes in the shower the pain in my bottom was extreme. The best way I can describe it is the worst constipation and most painful bowel movement you can imagine. They checked me again. I had finally reached full dilation and was instructed on the "correct way" to push. Easier said than done. The position and instructions were unnatural and awkward. They wanted me to lay flat on my back with my feet in stirrups and drop my knees to the side and hold my legs. It was intense and excruciating. How can you have the energy to hold your own legs up when you feel like you are being split in half? This is when you need support. I wanted to give up many times during this stage. I was exhausted like I have never felt. I just wanted to sleep. So my mom held one leg and my doula held the other for me. I must have turned white or green because they scrambled at one point  and put an oxygen mask on me.

After about an hour of pushing, there SHE was. A nameless baby girl. Wriggling and sprawling… Hubby says she was dancing. My eyes were full of tears and I cannot verify that but I know she danced her way into our hearts immediately.

So, an overview. Yes, it was the most painful thing I've ever experienced. But, I've never broken a bone, had surgery, or been shot or stabbed prior to this so in all fairness, I didn't have many painful experiences to compare it to. I don't regret choosing a drug-free birth. If I had opted for an epidural, I would never have been allowed out of bed to labor in the shower. I would have been catheterized. I think my recovery was a lot faster because of it. I'm not against the use of drugs for others. I was open-minded because  I don't consider myself to have a high threshold for pain. I knew it was an option. Whatever works for you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Potty Mouth. A Much Needed Laugh!

 There are many woes when it comes to potty training. My daughter (almost 28 months) showed a lot of interest about using the bathroom right before she turned 2. This was the sign I had been waiting for! She asked questions when I went into the bathroom like "Mommy, what you doin?" and I would explain big girl's don't use diapers, etc. and she began to express interest so we purchased a potty for her. She would sit on it when I used the bathroom. I will admit, we didn't try a schedule then (which I now regret). But talking and counting seemed to come so easy to her. I assumed potty training would be as easy. She catches on quickly. I let her go diaperless a few times which ended in a puddle of pee on my floor. I found this suggested method (from one of those all-knowing baby books) to be frustrating. She would deny the urge to go potty and proceed to pee a minute or so later.

At her 24M appt. I discussed this with the Nurse Practitioner. She was remarking about how well spoken she is. She asked about potty training and I said she was expressing interest but I wasn't pushing the issue yet> (I had a lot of things going on at the time getting the boutique open). I didn't have the time to introduce a potty schedule knowing my husband wouldn't stick to it while I was away from home. She revealed her daughter was almost 3 and not fully trained yet. She said since she was so focused on counting and vocabulary, not to push it. So, I didn't. She slept through the night without wetting herself  2 nights in a row around 25 months. I began to sit her on the potty in the morning after breakfast. (the tv had to be on for her to sit more than a 2 min) and she peed in the potty sometimes. That was rewarded with a silly potty dance from mommy and lots of hugs and kisses. I wasn't keen on rewarding with sweets which I know has worked for others. But that's something I was opposed to for my own fears of instilling food related issues (read: eating disorder). And it seemed to much like giving a dog a treat for rolling over, lol. After a few weeks of this morning ritual off and on (didn't I say I'm not good at schedules?) she REFUSED to sit on the potty. This is exactly why I didn't want to push her, I didn't want to create a potty phobia. Ugh! SO, I stopped bringing it up for a while. But lately when people meet her or see her again, they have expressed shock and awe that she isn't potty trained. Maybe because she is so vocal she acts older than she is? But I thought many people potty train around 3 yr old?

Then, I read this anonymous post on that cracked me up!

"When I was concerned about our first kid's potty training a wise person said, 'I've never met an adult that didn't figure out how to use the potty. Don't worry... the kid is not going to grow up and be at a business meeting when he suddely drops one in his slacks. It'll happen.. don't sweat it.'"

Thanks "Anonymous" I needed that laugh. It was very comforting advice. So for now, potty training is on hold.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Recycle Tutorial: Cereal Box mailer (borrowed from Sophisticate Style)

 Please go read this simple tutorial on Sophisticate Style's Blog on how to turn your empty cereal box into a mailer. Perfect for mailing your small crafts for you Etsy and craigslist sellers!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vote for me please!

I have entered the Leading Moms in Business contest hosted by I would appreciate your vote. I don't win any money, just a nice badge and bragging rights. It's a one click vote and you are not required to register. Thanks in advance!

I want to MARRY this salad dressing

This is NOT a paid endorsement. But I try to share every good find I come across. A local sandwich shop serves this as their Greek dressing (I order the antipasto salad from them). And I was blown away by this salad dressing. I was turned off by the appearance because I'm used to a cloudy Greek dressing with feta cheese and flecks of pepper or bits of olive maybe. But this was mostly olive oil and some herbs and spices. Looked bland but boy was I wrong! It was the perfect compliment to the veggies in my salad. My taste buds danced for joy! I order this salad at least once a week. So I finally inquired what was the brand of this dressing. Thankfully they didn't refuse to tell me. It is called "Yasou Greek" and the deli owner even showed me the bottle (I'm a visual person so at least if I forgot the name I would recognize the label). So, my next question was, where did she buy it, assuming she ordered it by the case. I was planning to buy some bottles from her. But surprisingly, she found it at a local grocery store and admitted that its sells quickly and not always there when she needs it. I went to this store looking for it and was sooooo disappointed that it wasn't in stock. Even my best googling skills brought meager results but I finally found it on Ken's Foods website. But my research showed the dressing is made by Ulysses Foods in MA. I'm not sure if that is a subsidiary of Ken's but I confirmed through their customer service that it is the same dressing before ordering a case of 12 bottles. Yes, 12 size 8oz bottles. Affordable priced under $18 for a case but the shipping was over $11 so I will be selling a few bottles to interested friends and family after I get them hooked for $4 a bottle to cover my expenses. If you see this in your local grocery, I highly recommend that you try it!

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Recipe for Southern Style Mustard & Vinegar BBQ Sauce

This is a simple sauce with punch when you want something other than the typical bottled BBQ sauce this summer. It livens up your grilled chicken, pulled pork sandwiches and of course ribs. You can even use as a marinade and it will tenderize the meat because of the vinegar :-) Enjoy!

  • white vinegar
  • yellow mustard
  • red pepper flakes (if you want the extra kick)
  • a recycled jar or salad dressing bottle

  1. Thoroughly clean and dry your recycled container
  2. Use about 1/2 a bottle of yellow mustard
  3. Add about 1/2 a cup of white vinegar
  4. Shake vigorously
  5. Taste and add more mustard or vinegar to your desired consistency and taste (keep in mind the mixture needs to site overnight at least to fully develop)
  6. Add red pepper flakes if you like spicy heat. The longer this sauce marinates in your fridge (months?) it will increase in heat if you add the red pepper flakes)
  7. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SPECIAL OFFER: Parents who have unwanted SUMMER girl's clothes in size 3T or SUMMER boys sizes 18M to 8! When you make your 1st swap I'll take your membership fee out of your earned credits. If you are ONLINE ONLY member fee is $14.99 for 3 mos or $49.99 for a year. If you are a LOCAL customer that swaps and shops in person, the cost for 3 mos is $44.97 & the year is $159.99 (for 1st child) Avg swap yields $200-$500 in credits. So the items you swap more than pay for your membership the first time you swap. Contact or 800-385-6080 for more details.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Grand Time Indeed

I've discovered a new level of exhaustion but it has all been worth it. The Grand Opening was lots of work and fun. I made cupcake (with sprinkles), a veggie tray, a fruit salad, and a pasta salad (will post recipe soon). The chocolate chip cookies made by Heather of Green Palette flew off the plate. I wonder if anyone realized they were eating "healthy" cookies?

My mother was a trooper and helped me set everything up. People started coming a little late (around 1pm) so within 3 hrs we had 28 adults and 18 children come through. I didn't get to socialize much because I kept having to ring up customers. Not complaining about that! I want to thank all my friends for their help and support. And Magic Moments Entertainment convinced Elmo to come all the way from Sesame Street!. He danced with the kids and posed for pictures with them. They also painted faces. Please enjoy the slideshow.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

The boutique is OFFICIALLY open

Who knew those gigantic scissors you see at ribbon cutting ceremonies were just a prop? Not me. But I learned that today. The mayor is not available for the upcoming Grand Opening so we scheduled a ribbon cutting for today. Enjoy the photos!

A Grand Old Time! (updated)

UPDATE! I'm happy to announce that Magic Moments Entertainment is bringing Elmo from Sesame St (around 1:30pm) and painting faces. Green Palette Nutrition and Culinary Services is providing nutritious chocolate chip cookies and Chef Mona is providing samples of her gourmet cheesecakes. There will be more refreshments.

Gumdrop Swap's boutique has been open for over a month now. I can't believe it! The response from locals and those working in downtown Bridgeport has been overwhelmingly positive. That's encouraging. Without advertising, I had a nice number of unsolicited customers. I notice the weather greatly influences my traffic. People explore downtown on their lunchbreak and wander into the Arcade Mall where my store is located. What I never expected was the number of people who venture over on break from jury duty in the courthouse down the street. That's a nice surprise. People comment on the building's impeccable restoration and lively decor  in my store. Kids love the chalk board and magnetic door with alphabet magnets and parents love that those activities keep the children busy so they can shop. We have a play area with colorful mat and toys for infants and toddlers.

So now that I have a system and feel more ready to open, I'm ready to do a Grand Opening. Well, I think I'm ready. I will be ready because I have to be ready in less than two weeks. Bridgeport's Mayor, Bill Finch, visited my store unexpectedly last week. He heard about Gumdrop Swap months ago and is a fan because he has 2 young sons (he showed me their photo in his iPhone) and he is on a mission to make our city more eco-friendly. He said he talks about me at meetings when he speaks on the revititalization of our city. How cool is that? We took a picture together and he Tweeted it a few hours later. I love that my Mayor is up on the latest in technology. He's going to come back on Thursday, May 20 at 12:30pm for my ribbon cutting ceremony (more photos to come).

I had to write a press release for my Grand Opening. It was nerve-wracking. But I finally got it to the point where I wanted to release it. We'll see what happens. If any of you reading this can come to my opening I would love to meet other mommy bloggers! Please reply to the poll on the left of the link for the press release. I've met and networked with some cool people in the past few weeks. Namely, the people behind who were kind enough to feature my business before I ever met them. They are so enthusiactic about the happenings in our city. They started tehir website whne they moved to Bridgeport and couldn't find any guidance as to where there was food, or entertainment. So, they started their own city guide. They review restaurants and do profiles on new business. They even have an event calendar. I wish this site existed when I moved here in 2005!

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Value of Life?

I spoke with my cousin yesterday. She told me a story that I cannot get out of my head. She took Amtrak from Washington DC to NYC in March for a business conference. She rode up that morning and on her return trip that evening, there was an unexpected stop. The conductor announced the stop was due to "debris" on the track. After a while, another announcement was made that the debris was actually "a trespasser" that had been struck by the train. That reference stood out in my mind. A victim being labeled as a trespasser before an investigation had been done. It was a negative label I thought was peculiar in this context. Maybe train conductors are trained to call anyone who makes it on the train tracks "trespassers". That's kind of like saying a deer crossing the highway is trespassing. But I digress, the next announcement clarified this accident had resulted in a fatality. My cousin was dumbstruck. Someone had died? Minutes later the conductor came back to explain that since the recession their have been an increased amount of suicides from people jumping on front of a train. She didn't know any of her fellow passengers but many were conversing on their telephones by this time. She was surprised that most of the conversations she overheard were people calling loved ones to express their frustration since they would be returning home later than expected due to this inconvenience. No one seemed concerned that a life had expired. One passenger remarked that on her ride up that morning the same thing had happened. Two train suicides in one day? What are the odds of that?

I commented that we are so desensitized to death and violence in our society. She agreed. She felt like she was the only one that was emotional about it. We spoke about her upcoming visit and she said she planned to drive because she didn't want to ride the train. I understood. After I got off the phone, I have been haunted by her story. I could research recent accidents and figure out who and maybe even why someone would take their life this way. But that won't change the sad fact that someone was so depressed they chose to take their life. That person was someone's child, maybe a sibling, parent, and hopefully someone's friend. What desperate times we live in. We all have bad days. I take comfort in my faith and that helps me get through bad situations. I can only imagine the feeling of despair that person felt before they made that decision. I must assume they didn't have a spiritual relationship with God. At least not a strong one. That saddens me. They had no one to call and talk through their problems. I am so blessed to have friends and family I can count on to support me through the dark times. I pray for the depressed and lonely people who don't see a reason to live another day. And I pray for the rest of us to reach out to someone who may be feeling this way. A simple smile and "Hello" on the train platform to a stranger may just save a life.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Slight Exaggeration

I try to tell the truth. Especially with my daughter. I like for her to know the reason adults do things like when she wants to play with diaper wipes and waste them I tell her "those cost Mommy a lot of money so we can't play with them." I realize she is only two and doesn't understand currency but how will she ever learn if I don't explain these things? Or when she is trying some daredevil move like standing on the Sit-and Spin and I explain to her that she has to stop. Not because I don't want her to have fun but because I don't want her to hurt herself. It's proving to be effective so far.

But today she stumped me. I brought her to the boutique with me and there was a brief thunderstorm. She was frightened by the thunder and I told her what the noise was and she seemed ok. She resumed playing with her toys. Then there was a lightning flash a few minutes later and she turned to me and said, "Mommy you take my picture?" So, I tried to explain that the thunder she heard is the sound of the light that flash and mid-sentence I was struck with the thought that I am not completely sure how it all works. So, I lied. I paused as if I pushed the reset button and said, "That was God taking your picture." And she replied, "Oh" and giggled delightfully. And I have never felt better about telling a lie. It was the perfect answer. I am confident she won't have a fear of thunderstorms considering her love of being photographed.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Business as UNusual

Yesterday my laptop died. Something wrong with the "power source" according to the repairman. But it's really my mom's laptop I was borrowing until I find the right computer for me. I'm using at work for internet access and administrative tasks. But there was an unfortunate accident with my Blackberry on Tuesday and I was without my smartphone or computer s\and almost lost my mind! I felt so restricted. I couldn't look up any information, work on my press release for the Grand Opening on May 22. No access to my calendar or personal contacts so I couldn't even call a friend to vent. So my search for a computer has been accelerated. I'm open to suggestions if you are happy with your brand or would love advice on what models to avoid. So far it appears Dell Inspirion is in the lead. Please help me decide. I want to spend less that $400 if possible. Mostly internet use and Microsoft Office. Needs a cd/dvd drive and run fast. Netbooks don't have disc drives so I'm pretty sure I want a true laptop. I just want it to run fast and be reliable. Maybe I'll load Photoshop and Illustrator but that's about it.

I went to a local organization that sells donated, refurbished computers to the public to help the youth in the community. They told me they wouldn't sell me a laptop today because they have an advertised sale on May 15. I was like, "So, let me get this straight. You are refusing to sell me a computer today with the hopes to sell it next week?" ... See MoreThey replied "Yes" and then to clarify, "So you don't want my money?" (blank stares as if I am mentally impaired. Apparently I am because I would think the 1st rule of business would be never to refuse a sale. What the h-e-double hockey sticks? So much for helping the local youth! I understand its a non-profit but why would they turn down my money?
 But because I can't afford to wait, I went to Walmart and purchased an HP mini (netbook) but I'm planning to return it when I get a the laptop I want. Leaning towards Dell. I need a full keyboard, maybe even the full keypad on the right. This tiny thing makes me feel like a giant and I need the disc drive.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

C'mon Baby Light My Fire (Burned Out)

I've been working Mon-Sat for the last 3 weeks. I am fueled by coffee and adrenaline from finally having the store open for business. I guess I ran low on adrenaline today because I am pooped! I can't drink caffeine past 3pm or so or I won't be able to sleep tonight. With one day off every week, I'm not sure how to spend it. I need to do housework. But I feel guilty about not spending enough time with my daughter. So after church we played outdoors. And when we came in I slept on the couch for an hour. Now I have a slight headache and don't feel like doing anything. I'm just curious how the rest of you SuperMoms get it all done? I don't do well with schedules. Well, I haven't in the past. But I fear that's the advice I'm going to get. "The secret to success is sticking to some chart or schedule." I just may have to accept that.

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