One Month Later…

Hard to believe a month has already passed since Aedan was born. The time has flown by. I feel like I have lots to write about but barely able to find any time to write it.

So I apologize for the neglect here but I’m sure it’s understandable. The first month has been full of typical first-month-baby-stuff, I guess. Long nights, spit up, diaper changes, eternal laundry, and a complete overload of cuteness to make it all totally worthwhile.

Over this first month we’ve seen a lot of progress in her growth but I think the milestones to non-parents are maybe a little less interesting, even though of course we’re fascinated. She’s gotten a lot bigger. She’s exclusively breast-feeding, and eating well – we just started her on her first bottle a few days ago. She has one or two long stretches of sleep a day – three to four hours – and sometimes we’re lucky and they actually happen at night. More often sometime in the middle of the day, though. She can just about hold her head up, and we’re expecting intentional smiles any day now. At the moment they come occasionally, but as random exercises of face muscles.

We’ve been benefiting greatly from the cooking of our parents this past month – both sets of which live within an hour’s drive, and so have been very helpful – and also eating a lot of takeout. Which gets rough – the takeout situation in our town is seriously bleak. Slowly but surely I’ve been getting the chance to make more meals myself every now and again.

Moving forward, I’m not really sure exactly where this blog is going to fit into my life, or what I want it to be. It’s admittedly gotten a bit more free form over the months. And as is clear by how little I’ve been posting lately, it’s been difficult for me to find the time to do so. I’m not sure whether that will change in the coming months or not, so I’m been playing it day by day. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I will say that I am beyond excited to bring food into my daughter’s life some day in the (somewhat) near future though. Even just getting to give her a bottle myself was a great experience, and I’m really excited to get to start her on solid foods in awhile.

I’m still on leave for about another month or so, and I do miss writing here more frequently – but right now all my time is being completely monopolized and I don’t mind that a bit.

The Aedan Story, So Far…

Man, where to even start.

Aedan Theresa is finally here! She was born on 5/11/11 at 1:43 pm. Without a doubt, my life has changed forever. All the clichés are suddenly true, and I *get* it now.

Okay so let's back up a bit. If you've been following the blog for awhile now you'll know the pregnancy was generally pretty smooth, months 1-8 flew by mostly uneventfully. Month 9, of course, was a bit brutal but of course that's to be expected. Time came to a grinding halt.

The due date was a few weeks away and we were visiting the OB on a weekly basis. Unfortunately we weren't really seeing much progress. The OB predicted that it was because she was too big for Amanda's pelvis, and started throwing around the idea of a C section. Which, of course, was *not* in our birth plan, and honestly a bit scary to even hear him talk about it because we had never even really considered the possibility. The doctor fully admitted though that he really had no idea how big she could be and was just taking a shot in the dark. So, we went home and waited, hoping for the best - all the while eating the spiciest food possible as often as we could, walking about a mile a day, generally trying whatever we could to go ahead and make it happen. Nothing was successful.

The day before our due date, we had an OB appointment and again nothing had changed. No dilation, no effacement, no plug loss, no water breakage, and the cervix was still posterior.

As the due date passed quietly, we were then faced with two options. We could wait, see if things progressed naturally but in doing so give the baby more time to grow and thus possibly present more difficulty in delivery should we get there as hoped, or we could induce – thereby forcing Amanda to deliver our baby at her current size, but risking that the pitocin that would be needed to induce could prolong labor and that inductions in general are more likely to end up as a cesarean section. Double edged sword, really. We really had no intention of inducing from the beginning, but we had even less intention of Amanda’s pregnancy ending in a C section, so we chose to compromise by waiting 5 days, and then if there is still no progress we would go in for induction.

So 5 days pass, and you can guess what happened. Absolutely nothing. We then checked into the hospital last Tuesday night, for an induction that would start on Wednesday morning.

As an aside here, it’s weird when a delivery is scheduled. Just in general. You spend so much time planning to have to act without plan – packing emergency bags, studying the hell out of those pregnancy books so you’ll be sure you know when it’s really time, living every day for at least a few weeks with about as much anxiety is possible. To just say… “okay, time to go. We have to be at the hospital at 8:30 -” … well, it’s just not what you expect, generally.

So Tuesday night we go check in.

We get settled in our room and a nurse checks out the situation. Progress! 4cm dilation and 75% effacement. Yet the cervix remains in a posterior position.

Sleep that night was virtually impossible, but it happened.. sort of.. in a fitful, restless, difficult sort of way.

The morning comes.. eventually. No progress since the night before. Pitocin starts at 7:00am. Our doula arrives at 8:00am. Amanda decides to go on the epidural at about 8:30 or so. She had hoped to be able to hold out on that and only rely on it if it were absolutely necessary, but the exams so far had been pretty rough on her and the doctor was – to be completely honest – pushing it fairly hard. Though she was ultimately a bit put off by this, it turned out to be the right decision in the end and we’ll get back to that in a little bit.

So the idea was – get her on the pitocin, get her contractions “adequate” (their words) enough so that further dilation and the cervix move from posterior to anterior would be reasonably expectable, and then give her some time at that level to see what happens. The pitocin did bring on some contractions, but it took awhile for them to reach that sufficient level.

Once they did, we waited about two hours, then the doctor checked our progress. Nothing again. The doctor said he does feel like it’s likely the baby is just too big and that’s why we’re not getting the results we hoped for – he specified of course, that that didn’t mean the baby would even be that huge overall, merely that it just might be too large for Amanda’s hips. We did start talking about the possibility of this ending in a C section a little more, but our doctor was happy to wait and give us more time to see if any changes would come.

But it wasn’t looking good. So far everything in this pregnancy had gone exactly as planned, but it didn’t look like this final step was going to. We waited a total of 5 hours of active labor, with no progress through any of it. After that time, Amanda was still only 4cm – the same as when we had checked in the night before. And the baby still had yet to drop – she was still, as our doctor put it, all the way up in New Jersey. After 5 hours, the doctor came back and sat down to talk things over with us.

We could wait longer. Though the doctor said this was an option, he made it clear that it was really only an option in the strictest theoretical sense of the word. To his mind, it had to be a C section, end of story. The main risks in waiting are infection and the fact that if she was actually too big, and she dropped into a pelvis not big enough to deliver her, then in that circumstance the doctor is left with no choice but to break the baby’s clavicle to get her through. Can you imagine? Not to mention the significant factor that every contraction is stress on the baby – who was fine at the time – but continued hours and hours of labor stress could easily bring a more emergency situation to bear.

Or we move forward with the C section. Which means more drugs for mom, highly invasive surgery and longer recovery time, but in most probability the least risk towards the child. We had the benefit of it being a non-emergency situation, which meant that at least we wouldn’t be whisked off into an OR without having the chance to give it some thought.

After being presented these options, we both felt pretty certainly that the least risk to the child was the way to go. And that meant C section. But this was a very difficult decision to come to – we had never anticipated labor to go this way, and though we knew the basics of the operation we really had not given ourselves much chance for preparation towards that eventuality at all and felt rather unprepared.

I asked the doctor for more time and told him that it did sound as if we would be going with the surgery, but that we needed some time to make peace with the idea. To his credit, he was agreeable about it and in fact suggested we wait another hour or so for one final check.

So we did. And if you haven’t caught the theme yet, you’re not paying attention… nothing doing.

It was decided. Aedan was to come to us via C section. We were scared, but we felt confident it was the right decision given our situation. And given the fact we were going to the OR, the early epidural was in fact a good move – Amanda would need it anyway for the operation, and if she had merely suffered through 5 hours of active labor contractions for nothing we would have accomplished precisely that – nothing.

So she got wheeled off in her bed to be prepped for surgery, while I went to go get my “bunny suit” on – scrubs, face mask, slippers, hat, the whole thing. After about 10 minutes they took me to the OR where Amanda was.

Heart. Pounding. So. Hard.

I really barely had time to even process the whole situation. The room was busy, there were four surgeons (our doctor and three assistants), one or two nurses, and two people monitoring some machines. There may have been more but that’s all I remember. One nurse led me by the hand to a stool where I could sit, and said not to touch anything blue. Amanda had been set on her bed with a sheet set up between us and the operating area, but it was the kind of thing that you couldn’t help seeing out of the corner of your eye – you couldn’t NOT look. Yes, I saw the operation. I didn’t *watch* it, but I saw it. Flashes of it, anyway.

I sat down next to her and could tell she was drugged. The first thing she did was complain of feeling claustrophobic, and I couldn’t blame her. I held her hand and reassured her as best I could.

There was some casual conversation between the surgeons. I don’t remember the topic but I remember it being particularly inane. This was reassuring, and I wondered if they did it intentionally. There was some pressure below the curtain/sheet, and movement. More conversation.

Three or four minutes pass.

“There she is… yep.”

“Wow yeah, that IS a big head. Alright here she comes.”

And then the cries. Aedan was here. It literally did take all of just a few minutes to get her out.

And as cliché as I know it is, there is no experience in the world like hearing your child’s first cries. I won’t even attempt to find the words.

After Aedan came out, the nurse led me over with her to clean her up, weigh her, clip her cord, and some various other things.

She was 8 pounds, 9 ounces. 20 inches tall. 13.75 cm diameter head. Beautiful.

I was only so barely aware of everything because it was all I could even do to manage the emotions of the situation. I saw Amanda watching as I held Aedan’s hand, and even though she was only 5 feet away from us on the operating table I knew it was breaking her heart to be so far from her baby. This whole process here after she was born probably only took about another 5 minutes, but it felt like hours before I could take Aedan back to her mother.

Eventually I could and I held her next to Amanda, and there were so many tears.

The next step was that I could go to the recovery room with Aedan, and Amanda would need a few more minutes of being sewn up and could then join us there on her transport. We had always stressed the importance of skin to skin contact as soon as possible, as well as attempts to breastfeed as soon as we could get the chance. With a C section, this can’t be immediate as with a vaginal delivery. But the nurses were as accommodating as they could be – she made it to the recovery room in another 15 minutes, and was holding her daughter shortly after, which was then followed by a few successful breastfeeding attempts.

I should say *most* of the nurses were as accommodating as possible. Apparently when Amanda was being wheeled to recovery, she was encouraged to “not worry about the baby, just take a nap now and it will all be okay.” I wasn’t there for that, but it baffles me. Take a nap? Who on earth could ever do that after the experience she just had? Really? Who are you kidding?

Two hours in the recovery room with mother and daughter. They slept. I… waited. I don’t know what I did. I was overwhelmed. I guess I mostly just sat there and took pictures.

Before we moved on, our doctor came to visit and congratulate us. As it turned out, Aedan had been loosely wrapped up in her umbilical cord the whole time, which can also hinder the labor process and her dropping. If we had opted not to move on with the procedure and wait for labor to take its course, the cord would have obstructed Aedan's breathing by the time she dropped, and we would have been forced into an emergency C section regardless. As much as it was scary to hear this, it was also a relief - because knowing this, there is no question that we made the right choice. There are no regrets when you know from the end result that you made the best choices you could given the cards you were dealt, but if that hadn't been the case we would have always been left wondering what could have been. I believe it matters far less what decisions you actually make in these situations, so much as you are confident that you made the right ones - whatever they might be.

We had never dreamed labor would go this way and there would be a need cesarean surgery, but I am so thankful that our doctors have the knowledge and capacity to perform such things.

So the key for moving to our maternity suite from the recovery room was that Amanda needed to be able to move her knees. After awhile, she passed this check and we moved.

We spent five days recovering in the hospital. This was more for Amanda than Aedan, as recovery needed for the major surgery of a C section is pretty extensive. The five days felt like eternity, and we were so happy to go home.

Aedan Theresa turns one week old today. Our time since returning home has obviously not been without challenges, but this is a most wonderful time in my life.

Week 40

So we are now a mere three days away from our projected due date, and I thought I’d share a little review of what we’ve been through so far…

A Taste of What’s to Come

So I actually did have my first food/recipe post in awhile ready to write up and run with this week, but there’s been another topic plaguing my mind at the moment and the ramp-asparagus-mushroom Spring pizza is just going to have to wait.

The topic is missing pets. Or more generally, the emotional state of helpless fear.

See, last Sunday – Easter Sunday – I spent the day with my wife and in-laws at their new home. They moved in about a month ago, so it’s still sort of a transitional phase for their pets. Their old place had a pretty small yard – fenced in in the back, and not much space in the front to speak of. The new house is in a much farther spread out neighborhood, and the lot backs to a state forest that goes back for miles and miles.

Sunday afternoon, beautiful day, and we’re all hanging out on their patio outside with their three dogs – a big, but young golden lab, a 3 or 4 year old Yorkshire Terrier (tiny little thing), and a much older cross-breed (part Doberman I think, but it doesn’t much show). Only the lab is leashed, as she could easily run off on her own faster than anyone could catch her.

The terrier – Lexi – wanders off. She has a bit of a habit of this, I understand, but usually doesn’t get too far as her legs are about 3 inches from the ground and she tires easily. But we don’t notice for probably 15-30 minutes or so.

So the hunt was on. It proceeded with increasing frantic-ness as she wasn’t found in the first half hour or so of looking. We had probably 6 or 7 people combing the woods, the neighborhood, everywhere. She couldn’t be found. We searched for about two hours, and then a thunderstorm rolled in. We kept looking. Some split off to go knock on doors in case someone had found her and taken her inside, or to the animal shelter. All told, we spent about 4-5 hours looking for this dog.

And in the end, someone drove past the house and asked if we were looking for a dog. They had her, back at their house. Some group of people driving by had seen her in the road, picked her up, and taken her back to their house – which was far enough away to be out of the radius of our search. She had been dry and secure the entire night, and was returned safely home about 10:30pm or so.

All was well, but it didn’t stop all of us from having a long drawn out panic attack, with – of course – her parents unable to think of anything but the worst the whole time.

The very next day – Monday – our cat goes missing. Stomper is an outdoor cat, so it’s not uncommon for him to spend long stretches of time roaming the neighborhood unaccompanied. Sometimes he’ll go a full 24 hours, if he finds somebody else to feed him.. which happens often enough.

He’s also very friendly, and close to fearless. If you open your door to him, he will gladly stroll right in your house and hang out for awhile. He is independent enough, and loves being outdoors, but he also adores human affection.

On Monday after work, we went for a walk with him. Yes, he walks with us around the neighborhood, staying by our side the majority of the time while occasionally running off to chase a bird.. or sometimes, a stick or leaf. So we take walks every once in awhile, more so since the weather has warmed up. Towards the end of our walk, he decides he’s not ready to go home yet and veers off into a small courtyard about a block away from our house. He knows this territory well and has done this before, so of course we think little of it and return to the house.

But then he doesn’t come back that evening. Nor the following morning. Nor the following evening. Nor the following-following morning. We haven’t yet seen him since.

We have searched and I’ve driven the entire area with no luck. He is micro chipped and has a blue collar with a bell, but his phone number collar recently fell off. I’m hoping someone has taken him in thinking they are doing a favor (they are most certainly not). I will be going door to door tonight along with a more aggressive search.

Not that there is ever an appropriate time for such a scare, but having to deal with this additional stress when my wife my be going into labor any day now – not my idea of a good time.

And that brings me to the title of my post. And the topic of helpless fear and what it’s like having to deal with that emotion. To know that something / someone you love is out there, possibly hurt, missing you, and not knowing how to get to you or being unable to get home is such a painful thought. And the mind immediately goes to the worst possible consequences, no matter how hard you might try not to.

I know what this feels like with a pet. This has happened before (I’m not sure it’s been quite this long before, but we’ve had scares before), and I’m familiar with that feeling. But frankly, while I can’t stop thinking about it while Stomper is gone, I also can’t stop thinking about how difficult this emotion is going to be when I am fearing for my daughter. I’m fully aware that it’s entirely inevitable that there will be times in which the same thing is experienced – that combination of fear of the unknown, helplessness to do anything about it, and obsession that the worst possible scenario is occurring – but with the object of that experience being Aedan. And honestly I’m scared to death of having to deal with that.

Please come home soon, Stomper. We miss you.

UPDATE: Stomper is back home now. He was away for four days. Apparently he never left the neighborhood because all the kids around had seen him at their bus stop every day. He has a lot of friends who feed him, too. He just was being too cool for us.

In actuality we suspect his recent waywardness may be due to the fact that Amanda is just about ready to go any day now. He’s back home and seems okay but we’re a bit reluctant to let him back out any time soon. Of course we’ll have to eventually, though.

The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler – Spring Training / Biggest Loser 2011 Report

If you’ve been following my training page for the past couple months, you’ll see that I spent a lot of time this Spring (and late Winter, really) preparing for a 10 mile race in downtown Washington, DC.

There were ups and downs. Injuries and successes. I’m starting to learn that running is a really good way to know your body and to learn how to listen to it – and the consequences of not doing so. Last year when I ran a half marathon, I had resulting issues with patello-femoral pain syndrome in my knees – due mostly from accelerating my training too quickly. So this year I came up with a very specific training schedule and started earlier in the year, with the hopes of avoiding having PFPS issues again. Well, in that respect I succeeded, but this year it was my shins.

I suspect that the beginning of the issue had to do with treadmill running. I rarely use treadmills, but given that I started training in early January it was pretty much a necessity. Running distance on a surface you’re not used to (even if it’s softer than what you’re used to) can cause issues. By February, I was up to 6 and 7 miles, and coming down with some severe shin splints. So I dialed back to 2 miles for awhile to recover – thankfully I had built extra weeks into my training plan to account for just this sort of thing. I slowly, tentatively, built my mileage back up. The shin pain was still there, it never fully went away, but it was manageable. I bought some supports, and got strict about recovery – rest, ice, compression, elevation. It helped.

I got to the point where I was running 12 and 14 miles the weeks before the race so I was pretty confident going into it. The day of the race was fast approaching. We had planned our baby shower at the in-laws house for the day before the race, so I had to figure out the details for Sunday (race-day) morning.

I came up with a complicated, if thorough, plan. Understandably, my third-trimester wife wasn’t too keen on the idea of standing around all morning and using port-a-potties while I ran. So I said alright, I’ll park the car in Arlington (a VA suburb) at my office, and metro down and run the race myself. Then I’ll come back out, shower at my office, and meet her and our parents for brunch. I can leave extra race food and drinks, and ice packs, in a cooler in the car so I have everything I need with me. Sounds perfect.

Except, in typical fashion, I overslept. Planning to get up at 5am, I instead slept right through my alarm and woke up at 7:15am. The race had a gun time of 7:45am, and I live about 20-25 minutes away from the starting line.

I didn’t think I could make it. I was furious at myself, upset. Amanda got up, told me to get my shit together and get in the car. All plans out the window, she drove me downtown where I quickly laced up and was on the course before I even knew what was happening.

And I’m so thankful she did. That race, though I ran it alone, was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had running. The field was an incredible 23,000 people. The course was beautiful. The weather could not have been better. Crisp, slightly chilly, and blue skies as far as you could see.

I wasn’t worried about my time. I knew I’d hit somewhere around a 10 minute mile pace, and that’s all well and good. I’m not a fast runner, and I’m pretty comfortable with that. If I get faster, great. If not, whatever. I’m still going to enjoy the journey. So in the meantime, I did stop to snap a few pics with my phone.

My favorite part of the race was the tail end around Haines Point. You can see the course map on the training page if you’re interested, and you know DC a little bit. When we came to Haines point, the road narrowed and the trees overhead made it feel like you were just running through a tunnel of Cherry Blossoms. It was great.

As I rounded the 7th mile at the end of Haines Point, there was a rogue aid station – a guy had set up a picnic table with a sign that said “FREE BEER AND OREOS.” There were also TONS of costumes – someone ran in a gorilla suit. Another ran dressed as a bottle of ketchup, with the words “CATCH UP” written on his back. I love race culture.

At the 8th mile, the Washington Monument became visible over the tops of the trees and the end was in sight. And that meant brunch… was so close I could taste it.

After the race was over, I stopped running and only continued to work out in a pool or on an elliptical, hoping that my shin issues would recover quickly. They didn’t. So as it persisted for over a week and a half even with no more running, I started to become concerned that I might have actually gotten a stress fracture.

I decided it was worth a trip to the doctor to get some x-rays, but thankfully no fractures were to be found. The pain still continues, though. I am working on an exercise routine to specifically address it.

Concurrent with my race training, I entered into a Biggest Loser contest at work – to the surprise of more than a few coworkers. I’m pretty tall, so when I put on a few pounds it takes awhile to show, but by the time January rolled around I had put on a full 20 pounds on top of my regular weight since Amanda first became pregnant. There was awhile there when I was gaining faster than she was.

I knew that I had this training program coming up, and I knew that I could easily adapt the right lifestyle to lose that 20 – it is that more active lifestyle that I typically have anyway, and really it was the slipping off of it that was the exception.

So I catalogued all my food and my training. I didn’t change my diet (much – okay, I cut back on beer a good bit). And over the period of my race training I ran 189 miles, and I lost 19 pounds in 9 weeks.

The winner of the competition was announced today, she won with a 13% total loss. I tied for second at 10%.

It would have been nice to win and all, but my goal weight to lose was 20 pounds and that’s just about exactly where I wound up. So I’m pretty pleased with that.

The Scare

I guess I sort of knew it had to happen at some point. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely inevitable but given the nature of Murphy’s Law and all, it might as well have been. The First Hospital Rush Scare. And ours (our first, anyway – hopefully our last) couldn’t have come at a less opportune time.

I’ve spent the past 8 months or so of my wife’s pregnancy trying to convince myself – and Amanda – that the mad rush to the hospital is a thing solely existent in the realm of movies and TV dramas. Books reinforced this, childcare classes reinforced this, it was pretty much the accepted rule from anything I came into contact with. Nevertheless, I spent all my time last night nervously checking out – not just cab numbers, schedules, and cost estimates – but flight schedules, nearby airports, and ticket prices. I was preparing to make a very extended mad dash.

See – I’m not even home this week. I’m 500 miles north, (begrudgingly) in a training program in New Hampshire for work. Coincidentally, this week Amanda hit full term. To take it even one step further, her parents are out of town this very same week. So even before I left, paranoia abounds.

But Aedan’s not due until May 7th. Surely it will all be alright, and I’m only gone for 3 days. Right?

Not exactly.

Coming into the home stretch now, the last month of pregnancy, has been pretty rough on Amanda – as I suppose it kind of always is. For the most part, I can honestly say that just about everything up until here has been pretty smooth sailing, at least as much as can be hoped for. But now – she is in constant pain, constant exhaustion, can’t sleep, never in any even remotely comfortable space. In short, she’s about done with the whole thing. And of course I’m fully realizing what it is to be the helpless father at this point, with only my words to help buoy her.

The past weekend she seemed to enter a whole new level of pregnancy pains. I took her to a professional prenatal masseuse on Sunday, which was helpful, but then come Monday morning I had to take off and leave her by her lonesome.

Monday passed uneventfully. Not without some significant degree of paranoia on both our parts, but still uneventful. For the most part.

Tuesday afternoon and she starts experiencing some severe lower back pains, and then shortly thereafter a bit of recurrent stabbing pain in her abdomen. She called me, and decided to leave work. She called the doctor for advice who recommended acetaminophen and rest, and to come in to the hospital if it persists after an hour or two. She drove herself home through miserable DC rush hour traffic. Meanwhile I’m on pins and needles, already starting to figure out what flight I’m going to catch should I need to. Manchester, New Hampshire, is only about a 75 minute flight away from home… so it was entirely feasible I could still get home in time if Aedan decided that this was the day. As long as I could catch the last flight, anyway – the last flight at 8:30pm.

Barring that of course, there is always car rental…

Amanda got home and got some rest. The pain subsided a bit with medication but never really ended. She was well enough off to realize she was starving – a good sign. I tentatively figured that things were okay and went to have some dinner myself, but also put a close friend at home on low-level alert that my wife might need a ride that evening.

Some hours pass. The window for catching the last flight of the evening closes. I look into car rentals to keep my options open – the last place closes at 1am at the airport, and it’s an 8 hour drive home – putting me home at 9am at the earliest if need be. My bags are long since packed and I’m ready to be out the door at a moment’s notice.

Midnight rolls around and her pains are back. And worse. Amanda calls our doula for advice, she is understandably reluctant to check herself into the hospital despite my urging from afar. The doula suggested the same – she needs to go in. I called our friend – Ali – who I can’t thank enough for her part in this story, and had her come pick Amanda up and drive her in.

Meanwhile I’ve hopped a cab and am racing to the nearby airport to get there before the Budget Rent-a-Car closes at 1am. It’s gonna be close. And it’s pouring rain. And my phone battery is dying.

I get there at 12:58am and thankfully I still see someone at the counter. I run up and tell him my story – I had figured at this point I would rent a car regardless of what was going on at the hospital, and get on the road – worst case scenario I turn around and lose a couple bucks for a day’s worth of a car. Small price to pay for doing what I can to minimize the time it would take me to return.

But I suppose I momentarily forgot – I’m in New Hampshire. Worse yet, the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire. They had no cars. The clerk told me this and I couldn’t believe it, but I looked out in the tiny lot behind him and saw what he said was true. There would be no car for me to drive home and to miraculously arrive moments before my daughter was to (maybe) be born. It wasn’t going to happen.

My cab then takes me back to the hotel, and I’m researching flights again for the morning. I could get home by about 9am or so – not really much later than driving, anyway. So I console myself with this fact.

As I’m getting back to the hotel, the texts start rolling in from Ali.

“We’re at the hospital.”

“She’s getting checked out.”

The time between each text could have been months or it could have been years.

“The nurse says things look okay.”

“The baby’s not low enough for labor. She will not be delivering tonight.”

Thank god. But is something wrong then?

“The nurse says she’s alright and is cleared to go. Baby and mother are both fine.”

And I felt then a relief of a degree I’ve not often experienced.

So as it turns out she was actually experiencing authentic contractions. Not the fake-outs, not the Braxton-Hicks. Actual contractions – but the baby wasn’t ready. And the regularity wasn’t there to signal true labor. I think we both, maybe subconsciously, picked up on the fact that it didn’t really feel like what was happening was actual labor. But still we needed to know what was going on. And I’m glad that things went the way they did, all things considered.

And I realized that she will not be leaving my sight for even a moment after I return home tomorrow.

Now We Are Thirty

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six,
I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

-A.A. Milne (1927)
Now We Are Six

Today is my 30th birthday, and I’m reminded on this occasion of a book – two books, actually – that I used to absolutely adore as a child. Two books of A.A. Milne’s poetry, Now We Are Six, and When We Were Very Young. I must secure copies of these books as soon as possible, for the impending revisiting of childhood that my daughter will bring with her. Do they ring any bells with anyone?

I figured today was as good a time as any to start writing again. It’s been a welcome month off though, I will say. Not that there wasn’t plenty going on in the meantime. Spring is officially here (at least according to the calendar; the weather might have a thing or to to say about it), and my wife is as pregnant as pregnant gets. She hits 36 weeks this week. And though it feels like our due date is tomorrow, it also feels as if time itself has come to a screeching halt.

Amanda turns 30 this month too, albeit still a few weeks from now. I’d be lying if I said the whole turning 30 thing wasn’t a bit… well, eclipsed.. by a certain someone who will be arriving soon. I’ve barely a spare moment to think about what it means to me. Which isn’t an entirely negative thing either, as turning 30 is generally not something one might want to dwell on all that much anyway. My general feeling towards aging another year is pretty much similar to what it was last year, although there’s also an impression that I am soon starting a whole new life of my own, too.

Now that I’m “back,” I’ll be taking a more relaxed approach to this blog in general. I have a lot to share, and I love writing, but I really had stopped enjoying the imposition that it became. Of course it was only of my own doing, but if I’m honest with myself it’s what it had become. So I will not be publishing on any set schedule anymore.

I know that I will have a lot to write about in the near future, but for now I’m going to do it whenever I want to do it – and no longer because I feel I have an obligation to it, regardless of whether it was self-imposed or not.

I have a lot to catch you all up on.

Lastly, if you haven’t seen my training page yet, check it out – I’ve been updating it since January. I just finished a 10 mile race this past weekend, and I’m coming up on the end of the Biggest Loser competition I’m participating in. Both have been completely awesome and there will be more on this later.

Spring Break

So, it’s time. I’m packing my bags, hopping a flight, and getting some much needed partying, sunburn and inevitable alcohol poisoning with 5,000 of my closest teenage friends in Cancun.

Alright, not really.

But I *am* forcing myself to take a break – a break from writing here. It’s been over a year now and while I’ve taken a few vacations from life during that time, I generally never much took a vacation from MSCK, and I’ve been feeling lately that it’s both needed and deserved.

The past couple weeks, it’s been difficult. Hard to find direction, to develop content. I’m sure all writers feel this in some way at some time. It’s not a block, really, I could still force myself to write through it if I wanted to – but, I don’t want to. I would rather take the time to break and regroup, and focus on some other small little (major, huge, freakin’ enormous) projects in and details of my life that are happening right now.

So – a month. You may still see me post from time to time during that month (I do have a couple things I want to mention), but it will be minimal and not on any concrete schedule. My Facebook page will still stay relatively active. Of course, I have some really exciting stuff coming up in April and May so I do expect to have plenty to write about after the break. And while I’m going to let writing take a back seat for a little bit, the cooking never does.

I do still plan to keep updating my training page with details about my race training and Biggest Loser updates – hope you’ll check it out. I’ve slipped a bit with the food log aspect of it, but the training itself has been going well lately and my mileage is climbing again as my shins recover.

Try not to miss me too much. And just remember I’ll be enjoying my time focusing on these two:

Amanda and Aedan

Return of the Borscht

Well I’m pretty much convinced at this point that we won’t be having a March blizzard like we did last year. We’ve had enough warm, or at least mild, weather lately that it’s been pretty obvious. I’m disappointed there wasn’t more snow this winter (seems like everyone else got it but us) but I’m also eager for the spring and everything it will bring with it.

Still, there are a few cold days left here and there. And so even though winter is breathing its last breath, there’s still time for the restorative power of a good bowl of borscht.

I’ve posted my recipe for borscht here before, so I’m not going to re-invent the wheel. What I will stress though, is that it is one of those dishes that’s always just a little bit different every time around. As long as you’ve got the beets, you can use nearly any soup-friendly vegetable you’ve got around. For traditional borscht, many would claim that cabbage is absolutely necessary, but I have made the soup many times without it and it still turns out great.

Stay warm these last few winter days. Spring is just around the corner now.

Borscht

In Like a Lion?

With spring now just a few weeks away, my wife and I greet March couch-ridden and with fever. She’s had it much worse, of course, with a sinus infection to go with it, and – of course – being the only pregnant one between the two of us. I suppose things had simply been going too well and this was inevitable, but it does suck being so helpless when she’s in so much misery. This is the first time she’s gotten sick, like really real sick, in probably four or five years. So – it’s a big deal. And of course it strikes at 30 weeks pregnant.

February left us with a tornado warning and a massive storm that blew through the neighborhood in a few hours, thankfully sparing us of any electrical outages. And I did manage to switch my web hosts, even though it was not as smooth as I would have liked. I didn’t post any new content last week because everything had already been transferred to the new host, except for the…. you know, never mind. I’m not going to get into it. My hosts just screwed up a bit but it’s all better now.

So it’s been a routine of couch-soup-kitties-spicy food for about 5 days now. I’m back at the office today, but she’s still home… and working, too, with a project deadline today. We’re so done with this.

And that’s all I have to say right now.