Friday, February 14, 2014

Five Years!

So this blog over the past few years has really been boiled down to documenting only really important events, and this post is no different!
Five years ago I said, "yes," across an alter in the temple of the Lord to spend eternity with Jeremiah. I had only known him for eight months, but I had never been more sure of any decision in my life than to marry him. 
There was a huge snow storm the day we were married. It was beautiful.

We have been through the thick and the thin together, but I know even happier and harder times are ahead of us. I feel immensely grateful everyday that I get to experience this existence with Jerry by my side. We really have made a good team!
So here are ten pieces of marriage advice that I can give, now that I am an expert. Some of these things I have painfully learned, some of these are things we implemented from the beginning, all of these things Jerry is much better at than I. :)

How to stay happily married for (at least) 5 years

1. Humility
This is definitely number one.
Okay, so I wrote out a huge explanation of this, but I will leave it to this:
Ask to be forgiven right away
Don't harbor ill-feelings
Know that your spouse isn't trying to hurt you (not everything is about you!)

2. Forgiveness

3. Don't sweat the small stuff
For realsies. Sometimes Jerry will do something that drives me BONKERS. But I have made a policy for myself: If it is something that really is just a habit or personality trait that is not harming me, or essentially bad, then I don't say anything. I pray to not let it bother me. And nine times out of ten, the annoyance passes and it becomes something that I love about him. I have seen quite a few relationships where there was constant communication about what annoys you about the other person and constant compromise. I feel like that would just squash someone's spirit. To be told that the way they do things, or how they were raised, or their inherent personality is wrong , bad, annoying could crush a person. And I married Jerry as-is. Not as a placeholder for what I imagined him as.

4. Communication
This goes with #1. The most important thing about this is to communicate your wants and needs. Your spouse can't read your mind. Don't play games trying to get your spouse to fulfill your desires. Tell them. examples: "Hey, I know it doesn't look like it, but I have worked really hard today at trying to keep the house clean. Can you compliment me on my hard work?" or "I'm feeling grumpy. Can you pick me up a Dr. Pepper on the way home?" or "I'm stressed. I would really like it if you would help me cook, that would help me feel less stressed." (okay, all of those are real life examples from the past month, haha)

5. Make spirituality an integral part of your marriage.
Pray together. Read scriptures together. Talk about God together. Every day.

6. Never speak badly of one another.

7. Go to bed at the same time.

8. Make goals together. Achieve them together.

9. Have hobbies and activities you do together. Have your own hobbies and activities you do apart.
10. Be generous in compliments and sweet nothings :)

I'm sure there is more, but this is what is coming to mind this morning. 

I love you, Jerry. You have made me better. Thanks for making me laugh and letting me cry. Thanks for being patient and understanding. I never knew marriage could be this fun and fulfilling. I'm glad we have eternity together!

11. Marry a model.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Desmond's birth story

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling pretty miserable. I had spent a few hours the day before on the ground reupholstering chairs so my back was killing me. I also did not sleep very well for the first time in weeks. So I attributed my discomfort to those things. I texted Jerry and my mom, "fyi I am feeling a little crampy today. But it could totally not be labor." Then, of course, my mother called me all excited thinking I was about to push a baby out.
After a failed attempt to nap, I spent my afternoon at my parents' house helping my mom watch my niece and nephews. I went to bed feeling pretty decent. Although Jerry and I did stay up later than usual getting stuff done around the house.
I woke up a few minutes after 1 am from some weird dreams. I was dreaming that my stomach was filled with curtain rod ends and they were vibrating and really causing pain. After a few minutes of contemplating the reality of my dream, I realized that I was actually feeling bona fide contractions! I tried to go back to sleep because I thought I was probably still in early labor, and I was also quite tired. After about 10 minutes of laying in bed and having multiple painful contractions, I realized that I was in real labor. So I got up and called the midwives to let them know I would be coming in sometime that day. As I gathered a few things together for the hospital, I would have to stop during my contractions to really concentrate on relaxing. Actually, it was odd--I would feel my lungs sort of collapse and all the air would leave my body before I would start to feel the pain of a contraction. So then I would have to play catch-up with my breath. Once I noticed this pattern though, I was able to pay closer attention and be better prepared for each contraction.
I decided to take a shower to help me relax and pass the time. I came up with a little system to help me through each contraction. And I know this is going to sound weird, but it was actually a little fun! Between my contractions I would think of what I would do during the next contraction to test what helped me the best. In the end what helped the most was to sing through certain phrases from a Debussy song cycle, picturing my baby coming down with each contraction. As long as I started relaxing in time, this method really worked.  A lot of my contractions were pretty much pain free.
I finally got out of the shower and told Jerry I thought we were going to have to leave soon. So he got up and ate and got his hospital stuff ready and tried to call my parents to let them know.
Just before heading to the hospital. 40 w 5 d
My contractions really took a turn at this point. I called the midwives and Janice told me to come to the hospital. Before we left, Jerry gave me a priesthood blessing, and I felt really good about what I knew was about to come.
We dropped Liana off at my parents' and then started our 10-minute trip to the hospital. I had 4 or 5 contractions on the car ride, and as we were walking in the E.R. to check in, I did the math and realized my contractions were probably less than 2 minutes apart and I knew I was going to be pushing soon. While we were checking in I started to lose it during my contractions. In retrospect, I was about to transition. When we got to the triage, I really lost it during my contractions, and I was in full transition. Of course, I thought this in my head, but didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to sound demanding or be wrong. The nurse forcefully reminded me to breathe through my contractions, and I was able to get through better. Janice came in and checked me. I was 7 cm. Then they did a quick ultrasound to makes sure the baby was head down. Just as they were wheeling me to my labor room I started having some serious pain. I started to slightly push to see if that would ease the pain, and it did. When I got to the room I told the nurse that I wanted to push and she ran to get Janice.
Oh, I should probably mention that by the time I got to the triage room I couldn't look at anyone or anything, I was covering my face with my hands.I probably looked like I was terrified, but I was having serious over-stimulation and needed to block out the light.
Janice came in and I told her I wanted to push. She said I was at a 9. I am so grateful that I had a midwife that let me push before I was completely dilated or before my water broke. It would have been pure torture to have to wait. So on the first push my water broke which relieved a lot of pressure. No one had to tell me how to push or when to push. I just knew what to do.. which really was an incredible feeling. With each new contraction I would start to bear down and.. scream.. like really scream. Sometimes my scream was super crazy high, and some times it was a groggy grumbling scary painful scream, but both were very, very loud (I mean, I am an opera singer!). And I was so self aware at just how insane I sounded. I kept on apologizing to the staff because I was really quite embarrassed, and I felt terrible for any other laboring mothers on the floor who had no choice but to listen to me. But I couldn't not scream. It reminded me of going down the big steep water slide at Seven Peaks and getting to the bottom and all the friends I was with telling me that my scream echoed and was super loud. But I had tried really hard not to scream on the slide! It was involuntary.
Anyway, I was screaming and pushing and all the while covering my face, and I felt like my body was literally splitting in two. And I knew that I was going to have a human baby, but I kept on picturing that I probably was feeling a lot like the big alien in Independence Day who has a slightly less big alien rip out of it. In between the contractions I was deliriously happy and just so so excited knowing that I was going to see my son any minute.
After about 10 minutes in the labor room I heard Janice hastily say, "Dad, do you want to come catch the baby?" And then, "okay you better get down here now!!!" Then a little push later, I took my hands off my eyes, looked down, and saw Jerry holding our new, pink, crying son. I felt so intensely happy, but also I think I was in shock. I was expecting an experience so different from what had just happened that it did not seem real. I wanted to cry, but my adrenaline was still going strong and was not letting me. They placed Desmond on my stomach for ten or fifteen minutes, and then I delivered the placenta, Jerry cut the cord, and then Desmond nursed like a champ! Later Janice came back in to check me out and I thought for sure I was going to be a torn up mess (like the big alien), but I only had two very minor tears that didn't even bleed or need stitching. 
30 minutes after delivery. Happy!

For the first hour or so after delivering I still felt like crap in the nether-regions. And nursing Desmond gave me contractions again, which I knew would happen, but still really annoyed me. But overall his birth was amazing. It was thrilling. It was.. fun. I know that is crazy, but it was so satisfying in a totally unexpected way. It made me feel like yelling (in a ghetto-angry-way), "BOOM. Yeah! I BIRTHED that baby!" But I resorted to just a lot of, "O my gosh! I can't believe it!"s. 

Unlike after my first birthing experience I was able to walk and it didn't phase me at all, and I was able to pee without really having to concentrate. Also, I wasn't a hungry-hungry-hippo this time. Probably because I didn't have to go through 24 hours of fasting whilst contracting and pushing, like last time. But for-realzies, I wouldn't change a thing about Liana's birth. It was perfect in its own way. But if I could choose future birthing experiences, I would choose Desmond's any day.
Desmond Thomas Hale. 8 lbs 7 oz
Bringing Desmond home was a dream. I think I was mildly depressed for about a month leading up to his birth. I was absolutely terrified. I kept thinking, "What have I gotten myself into? This is going to be terrible!" I really was expecting the worst. I had myself convinced that it was going to be impossible, especially since Jerry was uber-busy at work and would be gone 10+ hours every day. But Liana loved Desmond (I can't say it is quite the same any more, but nothing I can't deal with, or laugh at) and he was, and is, the easiest and sweetest and handsomest baby I could ever imagine. I feel overwhelmed with love by the family I have been blessed with. If I think about it too long, it makes me literally sick to my stomach (I know that sounds backwards, but I'm sure other moms out there know what I am talking about.. right?).
I know this is the type of birth story that will annoy a lot of other moms, or at least it would have annoyed me before it happened, but it is true and real and mine!

10 days old. Photo: Cathi Cenatiempo

Photo: Cathi Cenatiempo