Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Birthday Story

Every year on our birthdays growing up, my mom and dad would tell us the story of our birth. This is something that I looked forward to each year, even though I had the story memorized. And since it is Bennett's big day today, I just thought I would share with you the story of his birth...and also since we were slackers and never did this a year ago.

Bennett was born on March 31st, 2009, at 3:42 pm. It was a Tuesday, but this story begins on the Sunday before.

Matt and I were living with Mary and Wayne in their little cabin while we waited for the finishing touches to be completed on our home. We were over at their house making Sunday dinner when I started having some lower back pains. Mary informed me that this was how labor sometimes felt in the beginning stages, but since Bennett wasn't due until April 8th, we didn't really worry too much. Mary was scheduled to work the next day however (she is a neonatal nurse at the hospital where Bennett was delivered), so just to be safe, she decided to take the day off to stay at the house with me.

Monday morning I woke up feeling fine, but because Mary had taken the day off, and because Matt really, really didn't want Bennett to be born on April Fool's day, and because I wanted this baby out of me so I could eat like a human being again (remember the gestational diabetes??), we thought maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if I did go into labor that day. So we started doing all sorts of things I was previously so careful not to do.

We went on vigorous walks in the morning and afternoon. We lifted heavy boxes and furniture onto the trailer which we used to move to our house. I jumped up and down. I cleaned floors on my hands and knees. We drove over bumpy roads. Basically we did just about anything that I thought would entice Bennett out of me. By the time Matt got home from work that night I was exhausted, but still no signs of labor.

Maybe it was all the activity from the day, or maybe my body knew what was about to happen, but boy was I g-r-u-m-p-y that night. Poor Matt. Anything he did was worthy of severe punishment, even though he wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. The house wasn't clean enough, the heat was up too high, the TV was too loud, the dinner was burned, etc. I was on a raging warpath, and my poor, confused husband thought I had lost my mind. He finally gave up trying to be nice to me and just went to bed early. I can't say that I blame him.

I stayed up a little longer and scrubbed the cabin with unusual energy. By the time I got to bed it was 11:00 at night, and Matt was already asleep. I was still inexplicably mad at him, even though I knew it was silly, so I just got in bed too and tried to close my eyes.

It was about this time I felt the first little contraction.

I had never had a baby before, so I wasn't sure if what I was feeling was a contraction or something else. I tried to go to sleep again, but Bennett would have none of it. Pretty soon my contractions were coming pretty regularly at ten minutes apart, and I had to get out of bed and walk around in circles for them to feel better. I didn't wake up Matt to tell him what was going on until around 3:00 in the morning, at which point they were about seven minutes apart. Matt jumped out of bed like it was Christmas morning and started running around the house getting things ready. I got in the shower and did my hair and makeup.

Around 4:00am we called Mary and Wayne and my mom and dad in Idaho and told them "it was time." Mary and Wayne came over from their house and Matt and Wayne gave me and Bennett a blessing before Matt and Mary (who would be my nurse) loaded me up in the car and drove the 30 minutes to North Central Baptist Hospital in San Antonio. By the time we got there the contractions were a steady three minutes apart, and I was feeling rather uncomfortable.

Inside our large, hotel-like hospital room, I was offered an epidural but turned it down. I was determined to do this thing for as long as possible on my own. And really, I was doing much better than I had thought I would. A few hours later they said I was dilated to a seven, but they needed to break my water to make any more progress. They did so. I asked for drugs.

Not an epidural though, just a half dose of "happy drugs"...and this is about where my side of the story ends. All I remember from here on out is a bunch people asking me questions my mind would not respond to, no matter how hard I tried. In the words of one of my African-American nurses, "Don't you never do no drugs, honey. You are a lightweight."

I do remember Matt asking me if I finally wanted an epidural, because I was dilated to an eight and the anesthesiologist was leaving the wing and wouldn't be back until much later. It was a now or never thing, so I said yes. I guess when they were trying to give it to me though, I was so drugged I kept fighting them off, so Matt had to basically sit on top of me and I yelled at him. I do remember that. Sorry Mattie. :)

The next thing I knew it was several hours later and there were about a million people in the room with me, all telling me to push. One side of me feels like this moment lasted a few seconds, and the other side of me feels like it lasted a few years. I later learned I pushed for 45 minutes. People kept telling me they could see the head, but for some reason it took an incredibly long time for the rest of the body to follow. I remember my doctor looking really worried and thinking "that's not good" and then I heard him say he was going to use the vacuum to get him out. I guess Bennett had twisted into some awkward position where he was sideways and stuck. In one quick move, Dr. Feinstein simultaneously gave me an episiotomy, and sucked out 7-pound 14-ounce Bennett.

A baby coming out of you is the best feeling in the world.

Unfortunately, I still tore to a four, which is as far as you could ever tear during childbirth, and I guess it was pretty bad. Matt compared me to a gutted fish (thank you for that visual, Matthew). There was a lot of blood, so they called in a plastic surgeon to help fix me up. It took about six months to fully recover from this, but it was so dang worth it. I would do it again in a second...even though I am medically unable to, and must have the remainder of our children through C-Section.

Once Mary, who was my nurse, checked Bennett's vitals and sugars and made sure he was OK, they washed him up and put a little hat over his horribly misshapen head. And then they gave him to me to hold. He was crying a little, and Matt came over and said, "Hey buddy, it's your Daddy." Bennett looked right over at Matt and stopped crying. His whole body just relaxed, and it was one of the best moments ever. That was when I knew we were a family. Matt was beside himself happy, and so was I.

We still are, everyday.

Because I tore so bad, they treated me like a C-Section patient and made us stay in the hospital for three of the loooooongest days of my life. I hated the TV by the time we left that room. They did feed us a steak dinner with sparkling cider though, and we had lots of visitors so that was cool.

Anyway, that is the story of Bennett, in great length and detail. The next few weeks were spent with many visitors (including my parents and grandparents),, and a whole lot of adjusting to life with a newborn while moving to a new home. I was scared out of my mind, I'm not going to lie. But look! It's been a whole year, and he is still alive! And we are extremely happy he is, because let me tell you, WE SURE LOVE THIS KID!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Matthew the Birthday Man

on March 27th, 1981, the world was blessed with the birth of my husband and bestest friend, Matthew Wayne Hargrave.

This year, Matt's birthday just happened to fall on the weekend of the annual Bell/Hargrave Easter party. And as much as we love Matt's wonderful family, I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to celebrate some of this special day with just the two of us. So, sneaky me (who later learned that Matthew is just as happy knowing an event is coming, rather than being surprised by it), went in on cahoots with both my parents and his to make this day truly unforgettable.

We arrived in San Antonio early Friday afternoon, where we unpacked our bags as usual. After a few hours of visiting, Mary sent Matt outside to get something for her, and I made my move. I quickly repacked mine and Matt's bags, threw them in the back of the car, and gave Mary and Grandma Pat (who drove down with us) a few instructions on Bennett. When Matt came back, we found an excuse to get him in the car, and we were off!

VICTORY! Halfway down the highway I told him our plans. We were going to the beautiful San Antonio River Walk, where we would stroll around and hold hands until it was time to eat at Texas Land and Cattle, where I had made a 5:00 dinner reservation.

Matt promptly changed these plans.

He had been up since 2:00 that morning leading his troops in land navigation exercises, and he was exhausted. I can't say that I blame him, poor guy. So at his request, we went to see a movie instead of walking around for hours. But because we hadn't planned on seeing a movie, we were forced to settle with whatever was playing at the time we got there. The only thing on was, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", which I thoroughly enjoyed, along with the 45 middle school-aged children we sat by. I think Matt's favorite part was when it ended. :)

After that we were back on track to the River Walk and dinner, which was fabulous. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, so most of the following pictures were taken from the Internet.

This is the River Walk. We got there during the best part of the day, where the sun is almost down but not all the way, and the air has just a little bit of chill in it. It was beautiful. And yes, we held hands all the way into the restaurant. Matt got his dream steak and I got shrimp and we were both fat and happy by the time we left.

But wait, there's more!

After the River Walk we drove (through a very scary section of town...luckily we didn't stop there) to a gorgeous little bed and breakfast inside a renovated mansion, originally built in 1902, and spent the night. It was soooo cool!

The Ruckman Haus Bed and Breakfast.

The gardens.

Our room. Each room was tastefully themed after a different country. We stayed in the "English Room", which was very simple and classic, and had the coolest shower that sprayed from five different directions. It was life-changing. We spent the evening watching a movie and just enjoying each others' company. It was very nice.

The next morning they served us homemade Belgium Waffles for breakfast, and then we both decided we missed Bennett and it was time to go back.

On the way, we drove through the mansion neighborhoods and talked about how we will one day live in one (we can dream, right?). It was all great, until we went to turn onto the highway and our car wheel lost a bolt, so we ended up on the side of the road. Luckily, Matt is handy-dandy, and luckily there was an electrical crew doing repairs on a streetlamp right next to where we broke down. They worked together, along with a friend Matt called who lived in the area, and we were back on the road in 20 minutes. Thank goodness for good people everywhere!

When we finally made it to the house we found Bennett (who never even knew we had left) and began the Easter festivities with the family. After lunch, everybody sang "Happy Birthday" to Matt and Bennett and we all had cake and opened presents. It was a very successful birthday...but next year there will be NO surprises.

Matt, carrying out his traditional Birthday Bunt Cake. I have heart attacks over this silly cake every year, but everybody said it tasted good. I still think it could be perfected a little more. Next year, bunt cake, next year...

Matt opening his drill bit set.

Oooig and Awwwing over his golfing gloves.

Happy Birthday, Mattie! We love you!

Bennett the Birthday Boy

No, it's not really Bennett's birthday. Not yet. He was born on March 31st, 2009, but since his and Matt's birthdays are only four days apart we thought we would save ourselves the trouble of throwing two parties and just combine them into one this year. (It's not like he's going to remember anyway.) We did still try to make it special for him.

These are the cute...I mean handsome...matching shirts I made Matt and Bennett for their birthdays. They took me way longer to make than I expected because I am not the world's best sewer, but it was definitely worth it.

The birthday boy.

Contemplating how best to attack the awaiting cupcake.

I had a little video clip to put here of everybody singing and the blowing out of the candles, but it wouldn't work. Sorry. I think this is still a pretty good picture, though.

Bennett had no problems figuring out what to do with the cupcake in front of him. The entire thing was gone within just a few minutes. Yummy!

After cake it was time for presents. Bennett also had no trouble figuring out what to do with these. He was quite anxious to get all the paper off that box and see what was inside.


And what was inside? The cutest little tool workbench and a bike helmet from Maimie and Pop! Bennett absolutely loves the bench. The helmet is tolerable. :) Matt and I gave Bennett most of his presents early (aka: his big car seat and new umbrella stroller), but we also gave him a tiny golf set on this day. He hasn't a clue what to do with it, but it makes a good chew toy anyway.

Happy early birthday, Bennett-Boo! We love you!

Easter Extravaganza

April 4th is officially Easter, but it is also officially conference weekend if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...which we are. Therefore, we chose to celebrate Easter with the Bell/Hargrave family a little early this year. And what a celebration it was! Here are a few pictures (OK, a lot of pictures) of some of the fun things we did.

We ate--and ate, and ate, and ate...
(The word "ate" looks really funny if you write it a lot)

We played on the rope swing in Maimie and Pops backyard.

We painted our faces. Aunt Kim was the real artist, and I was the "you must be really desperate to have your face painted" artist. Luckily, most of my clients were under the age of four.

Did I mention we ate? :)

We celebrated lots of birthdays, including Kendall's, Kim's, Mary's, and of course, Matt's, and Bennett's, as mentioned in the previous postings above.

We played on the bounce house Maimie and Pop rented for the afternoon and got quite a workout at the same time.

Bennett going in the bounce house...

...Bennett coming out of the bounce house.

Matt, dunking his nephew Barrett through the basketball hoop. What a good uncle.

We played Easter BINGO and won fantastical prizes.

We had an Easter egg hunt with all the kids...

...and Bennett even legitimately found a few eggs on his own.

We helped him out just a little at the end.

We Shared and ate lots of candy with cousin Emma.

We took an updated family picture.

What a good-looking bunch we are.

We played a rousing game of Horseshoes.

We forced our children to wear silly headgear.

Bennett was considerate enough to remove the offensive band from his cousin Kendall's head.

We made new concealed handgun holsters.
(No, just kidding. This was all Matt and Wayne.)

And at the end of the day, we were tuckered out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What The...???

There are a heck of a lot of things nobody tells you about having a baby, and about being a woman in general. So, as a kindness to all those unsuspecting expectant mothers out there, allow me to let you in on a little secret.

When Bennett was about three months old, I started noticing these tiny little hairs all over the top of my head. I talked to some of my friends who also have small children about this discovery, and they all said it was normal.

It's called nursing hair.

When you are pregnant, your hair gets thicker from the prenatal vitamins and the hormones and stuff. I loved this stage. But, once the baby is born, different hormones take over and your hair starts to fall out. Not so much in love with this stage. Well, all the hair that has fallen out eventually starts trying to grow back, and that's the point you usually really start to notice it. I prefer to call this point the, "Unimaginably Ugly Stage That Lasts And Lasts And Makes You Want To Cover Your Head With A Paper Bag" stage. This is the stage I am in now, and it is a new battle every day.

For instance...I went to get my hair cut a few months ago, and before I sat down the lady asked me if there were any questions or concerns I had about my hair. I told her I had some pretty bad nursing hair, and she assured me that wouldn't be a problem. A few minutes later she ran her hands over my scalp and literally screamed "Oh my gosh! Whoa!" Of course, once she saw my face she immediately tried to backtrack, saying it wasn't that bad, and she could probably do something with it. Great.

Anyway, I have been trying to look on the bright side and do some creative things with it. Here are a few examples.

A stylish hairdo with short bangs.

A stylish hairdo with short bangs, nursing style

A retro cut from the 80's

A retro cut from the 80's, because your body freaked out.

Attempting to look normal
Attempting to look normal, even though you know that as soon as there is a strong gust of wind your carefully combed-over hair will flay away and all will be revealed for what it is.

Well, what can you do? Oh, and there is some hope. Apparently, not everybody gets nursing hair, and there are different levels of ugliness. I was just lucky to get such an extreme case. Also, most people's hair grows back to normal within a year...unless your hair grows incredibly slowly. Which mine does. At this rate, I should be back to normal right around the time we are thinking about getting pregnant again. Wonderful.

For now, I will just try to enjoy the fact that I look like I could be the fifth member of KISS. Anybody want an autograph? My fashion consultants.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break, Oklahoma Style

Yes, this last week was Spring Break, and what a fantastic break it was! Griffin and Ashland are still working on getting their home in Cleveland, Oklahoma ready to live in, so Jeff and Charlotte Sellers (Ashland's wonderfully generous parents) flew me and Matt and Bennett up there to be a part of the building crew.

Let me be more specific. They flew Matt up there to be a part of the building crew. They flew me and Bennett up to hang out and have fun visiting, and to eat delicious food. I have to say, sometimes it pays to have no skills in the construction area. :)

We left our home for the Austin airport on Thursday morning. One lost purse and a few hours later, we arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Don't worry about the purse, it should be arriving here FedEx style any time now. It was a little panicky when we realized I had left it, along with my cell phone, every form of ID, and all our financial information, under the seat of the plane. But we are OK now.) It was soooo much faster and way more fun than our last trip to Oklahoma, where, if you will recall, we had a near-death adventure that lasted almost 20 hours. I will take a lost purse over that any day. Thank you, Jeff and Charlotte!

When we got there, Charlotte picked us up, fed us lunch, and then drove us straight to the house to start working. This wasn't as vigorous a weekend as the previous one, but "Mighty Matt" was still able to help accomplish much good. The main project was laying tile in the bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen, and landing areas, before the carpet guys came on Monday. They got that done, along with fixing the roof, building a gate (I hammered the nails in on a few of the posts, so yes, I did help a little), and repairing the banister in the Sellers' house. Very productive.

We also had time to see the Sellers' ranch, where I learned about cow-care, and to play our new favorite game Rummikub. One of the best parts for me was getting to see Ashland's cute little tummy and thinking of names for the new little one. I have chosen to call the baby Phineas, or Finn. Aunt Haley has spoken. So be it.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Of course, Matt and I carry winter with us wherever we go, so by the time we left there was about a foot of snow on the ground where it was a sunny 75 the day before. Cursed, I tell you. At least we didn't have to drive in it.

Happy Spring!

Charlotte, Bennett, Ashland, and Finn.

Griffin and Matt fixing the once wobbly banister. I think it would take a small elephant to move that thing now.

Griffin, introducing Bennett to the joys of law.

The little sick cow on the ranch. They are hooking her up to a harness to help her stand here. It was a little sad to watch, but very interesting. I hope she will be OK.

That last picture was taken through the windshield, because I was in the car feeding this little goober-roo.

And now, for your enjoyment, here is a video of Griffin and Ashland's home in all of its semi-completed glory. They should be moving in sometime next week though, so that's exciting.

P.S- Because the title of my video is "Spring Break" I would be careful not click on any of the little video options from youtube at the bottom of the screen. Just thinking most of those are probably pretty inappropriate. :)