12 Stages Of Pregnancy

Stage 1: Giddy euphoria  You've been planning this. You've been working on this. I mean... Really putting in the work. You're excited and anxious. You stock up on pregnancy tests. It's only been 2weeks since your last period, but you can't help yourself. So you pee on a stick. It's negative. No worries-there's still time. So you pee on another stick. And another stick. And another. Then one day, the minus turns into a faint plus. It's happening! It's really happening! 

Stage 2: Terror

It's happening? Holy crap, it's happening. Did we think this through? Are we ready? I need to tell him. How do I tell him? Just blurt it out? What if he's excited? What if he's scared? I wasn't ready for this. I mean. I'm ready, just not ready... 

Stage 3: Acceptance and more euphoria

I'm having a baby! I want to shout it from the rooftops! Go tell it on the mountain! Hello world- I'M PREGNAAAAANT! 

Stage 4: (Optional)

*Insert morning sickness here*

Stage 5: Awkward baby bump

Yes, I've been eating a lot lately. No, I'm not fat, I'm pregnant. *rolls eyes*

Stage 6: Gender reveal

It's a *insert gender here*! Shoppiiiiiiing! 

Stage 7: Baby shower-things are getting real

Friends and family literally shower you with presents for your tiny tot. You silently shed a tear because baby things are so effing cute. Also, you're emotional. About everything. And that's OK. 

Stage 8: Are we there yet? 

You're annoyed at everyone and everything. No one can do right by you. Your poor husband-what did he do to deserve this? Oh yeah, that's right. He put a baby in your belly and made you miserable. He did this to you. He'll pay for his sins...

Stage 9: Awe of the miracle of life

This baby is getting pretty big. Wait a minute. This baby keeps growing. And it's going to have to come out one day. Does it really? From there? Can't we just hang out together? I kinda like taking you with me everywhere I go...

Stage 10: Are we there yet now

You're in your final weeks/days. Baby's head has dropped. If your're lucky, there's one foot in your spine and another foot constantly kicking your bladder. But you can't run to the bathroom because of the excruciating nerve pain. Thank God for kiegels giving you the strength (literally) to not pee on yourself. 

Stage 11: Nerves

When will you go into labor? What if you're in a meeting? What if you're in traffic? What if you're at the grocery store and your water breaks? Do you still checkout? Can you drive? Should you drive? The nursery isn't ready. You don't have a birth plan. You haven't packed a hospital bag. You haven't preregistered. Shit. 

Stage 12: D-day

Luckily, you never came up with a plan, because if you did, things would not be going according to it right now. You're scared and anxious but exhausted and so over it. You wait for the moment when you finally meet the person who has been growing inside of you for 9 months. It's a humbling experience.  Now time to buckle up!!!! The fun's only just begun...

Darkest Before Dawn | The Reset Button Pt 2

My head space was so crowded with anxiety. I wanted to shut down and withdraw, but there was simply too much at stake. We put an offer in on the house but I was conflicted. Part of me wanted it all to be done quickly. Part of me was scared of how fast it was all happening and wanted it to fall through.  Still, I put on a brave face. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

V's semester finally ended, so he and Ella made their Exodus and headed south to join me. Mimi was due back any day now. I was excited but nervous. We weren't set to close on the house until after Christmas. And that wasn't even a sure thing until we could sign on the dotted line. 

I went to the airport to meet Mimi. I fantasized about a hugely dramatic reunion. She would run into my arms, squeeze me tight, and refuse to let go. I sat anxiously at the arrivals lounge. Then I saw them-- my sister and my beautiful baby girl. It had been too long. Finally she was here. 

I waited for her to turn around and see me. She turned. She saw me. I waved frantically, barely able to contain my excitement. She yawned, then turned and looked the other way. 

Huh?  This is not how this is supposed to happen. Maybe she just didn't see me. 

I ran towards her and planted a big kiss on her cheek. She screamed and clung tighter to my sister. 

My heart sank. 

I had underestimated how hard it would be to be away from her, but what I hadn't considered, was how hard it would be to be reunited. 

I still wonder whether she had forgotten about me, or if she was just harboring resentment for leaving her with my family (I'm leaning towards the latter school of thought, knowing my Scorpio baby). Whatever the reason, it was tough. 

Luckily my sister was there for a while to help with the transition, though, Mimi instantly clung to V. 

Figures. 

Still, I soldiered on. We closed on the house with little fanfare. 

It was bittersweet. Everything was all coming together but I was gone all week,every week, and I barely had time to enjoy it. 

I felt a familiar weight starting to develop. The weight of guilt. 

Desperate for some sense of normalcy, I threw my effort into the precious moments I shared with Mimi on weekends. #Girlstime was instituted. I was determined to rebuild our relationship. I even took her on a weekend vacation back to Trinidad to solidify our bond. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it." Except it wasn't fine. This wasn't fine. I had to make a change for the sake of my family; for the sake of my sanity. 

LUCKILY the change came without having to leave my company, and I was able to lateral into a new position which afforded me the ability to lead a somewhat "normal" life. 

My family was whole again. My family was home again. 

It only took us a year. 

The Plunge | The Reset Button Pt 1

**This is the first part of a two part series: The Reset Button. This series talks about my experiences during the first year after taking the plunge and starting all over again, from scratch** It has been one year since we moved. When I say "we" I mean "I" because it was not as straightforward as one would think. 

I needed to report to my new job ASAP. It was the middle of V's semester, so he had to stay behind to finish up. We each had hectic schedules: I had to travel during the week, he had to juggle a full time job and full time grad school. We had talked at length about what we would do with Mimi during "the transition". Neither of us would be able to engage with her as we should. We decided that it would be a good time for her to have an "extended vacation" with my family in Trinidad so she could spend some time with her international relatives while experiencing the culture and customs that made Kiki--Kiki. 

It was easy at first. I knew Mimi was having the time of her life and that she was well cared for. 

I knew V was doing his thing and taking care of business. I had a very active project in New Orleans. The complimentary upgrades to presidential suites made me feel more than comfortable, but the food, hands down the food, made the experience so enjoyable. 

Unfortunately, the honeymoon was short-lived. Weeks of us being scattered across the globe started to take its emotional toll on me. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it." 

Mimi's birthday was fast approaching. Mimi's first birthday was fast approaching. My first baby's first birthday. I wasn't even in the same country. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it." 

Her birthday came and went. I felt so guilty. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

V was able to drive down and we spent Thanksgiving together. Together, without Mimi. She missed her first Thanksgiving. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

V's semester was almost over, and the three of us would soon be reunited. We'd all be together and all will be well. Wait. Where would we live??? 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

With me gone all week and resting on weekends, I hadn't started our housing search in earnest. Mimi and V are going to move here, and we would all couch surf? Was this move all for nothing? 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

Except, I had to think about it. 

I got a real estate agent and started knocking out home tours. I was glued to my Realtor and Zillow apps. I found a house I liked as soon as it came on the market. I had a local project and I was actually in town, so I scheduled a viewing the next day. 

The traffic was... Abysmal. Still, I thought I'd give it a chance. 2 hours later, I took my exit from the interstate. The landscape instantly changed. It was like I was in another world. A quaint little town with shopping and restaurants. Beautiful, lush, and green. This is where people came to raise children. I got to the house. It'd need some work, but it was priced well, and I didn't mind putting in sweat equity. 

I left the house. More traffic. Shit. 2.5hrs to get to my destination this time. I sent V some pictures and we talked while I was in the car. We weighed the pros and cons. Surely the traffic couldn't be that bad every day. We'd leave it on the list for consideration. I finally got back to my aunt's house. My Zillow app pinged. 

Sold. 

That's right, taken off the market after two days. We didn't even have a chance to say no. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

I continued along with the search. The market was hot. Nothing lasted very long before being snapped up. I started to lose hope. 

"Don't think about it. Everyone is fine. Everything is fine. Don't think about it."

My Realtor called me one afternoon. She found a house she wanted me to tour. It had been on the market for about a month. What was wrong with it? I checked the online listing. Terrible quality pictures, some were even upside-down. Did this person even want to sell their house? She assured me that although the online profile left much to be desired, I should visit the house in person. The reason the house was still on the market was that they were getting basically zero foot traffic.  So I went. 

It was perfect. 

This was the one. This is where we needed to be. I sent V photos and videos. We needed to put an offer in on it--immediately. My family grew concerned. They thought I was rushing-- which I was. But I assured them, I had my reasons. Excellent schools, updated house, reasonable commute, right on the money. I assured them that this was right decision. Still, the seeds of doubt had been planted in my mind.

Cheeseburger Crotch

Google it--you know you want to...  **Disclaimer: this post is a bit crass. Also, I'm not a medical professional, just sharing an experience I wish someone would have shared with me**

Ahhhh, the magic of pregnancy. I was around 4 months pregnant with Mimi. I gave myself my usual monthly Brazilian (no typos, did I mention I am a Rennaisance woman and I do everything myself? Plus I'm incredibly cheap) but something was different this time. It was the morning after and the soreness should have gone down by this time... But it didn't. Plus there was a dull, throbbing sensation. I cursed myself for being so damn cheap. "Kiki, this is why people go to professionals to get things like this done. You really effed up this time". I was nervous; I feared the worst. I would have to be examined by a doctor while explaining the dynamics of how I got myself into this mess in the first place. 

Maybe it'll pass. 

I gave it a few days, but nothing. It actually got worse.  I was abnormally swollen on one half of my lady bits. I called it "frankenpuss". It looked like I had suffered a stroke and one side was healthy and lively while the other side was 2-3times its usual size and looking to be in need of assistance. This couldn't be from a Brazilian gone bad. I turned to the one place I knew I could turn to for ready, on-demand medical advice: the internet.

A few pregnancy threads later I came away with a name for my affliction: Cheeseburger crotch. Alas! I wasn't alone, and many women before me had to deal with it. Increased blood flow to my nether regions resulted in frankenpuss, or, cheeseburger crotch. It lasted the rest of my pregnancy, but thankfully faded away during my healing process after delivery. 

I'm now around 4 months pregnant for the second time. 

Frankenpuss, we meet again. 

upload.jpg

My Best Friend's Wedding

She asked if I wanted to be her matron of honor. I said I do.  I had an entire year to prepare, but in true Kiki fashion, I procrastinated right to the last minute. 

My dress would take 6weeks to progress from order placement to delivery. I ordered it 8 weeks before the wedding. It was delivered to my doorstep 2 weeks before the wedding. I tried it on. It was too long. 

Shit. 

I carefully thought about my plan of attack. The material was a stretchy polyester blend, and there was no hem. This meant that any adjustment would have to be made with a sharp pair of scissors and a steady hand. Right up my DIY alley. So, naturally, I did what any responsible matron of honor would do: I rolled it into a ball and shoved it in the back of my closet. 

The night before the wedding, I pulled the dress out and tried it on again. I had little patience to measure and mark the entire perimeter of the dress, so I eyeballed it. 3 inches too long, maybe, so I cut 3 inches off all around. I put the dress back on. It was still too long, and the front was longer than the back (oh yeah I asked for a longer front because of my pregnant belly). 

Shit. 

I stuffed the dress and my scissors in my suitcase. I would make it work one way or another.

The morning of the wedding, I put on the dress and I asked the maid of honor to grab one of the hotel pens and mark the dress where it touched the ground. She was nervous. I felt bad. She was a trooper, though, and she did it. Then 10 minutes later, I was done cutting, and I put the dress back on. It was perfect. I hoped she'd like it. 

She asked if I wanted to make her veil. I said I do

(OK, OK, I offered, she accepted) 

I had an entire year to prepare, but in true Kiki fashion, I procrastinated right to the last minute. 

To be fair, I only half procrastinated on this one. I bought the material months in advance-- then shoved them into the back of my closet. 

Five days before the wedding I realized that I should probably get a move on this veil because there was no plan B (maybe she had a plan B, but I knew nothing about it). Failure was not an option. I started the task of painstakingly stitching the lace embroidery to the tulle veil. I was about 25% done when I lost interest in the task and moved on. 

Three days before the wedding, I glanced across to my dining room table. The veil sat there, staring at me, taunting me-- a trophy of my failure. "I will finish you, veil. I will finish you--tonight!" I committed myself to finishing the ring of lace around the veil. Finally! I got to the end of the string of lace. Yes! But there was a six inch gap of tulle between the start of the lace and the end of the lace. 

Shit. 

I'll just buy some more lace--simple! I went to my local Hobby Lobby and perused the lace aisle. I knew I probably wouldn't find the same lace (I had bought it months before, on a business trip in Missouri) but I didn't need the lace to match. I needed it to go. I would make the 6 inches a focal point of the veil and place an elaborate strip of lace with pearls. It'd look totally natural, like I meant to do it, duh. 

Then I got home. The veil was white and the supplemental lace I had just acquired was ivory. 

Shit. 

Two days before the wedding, I had an incomplete veil and no materials with which to finish it. I drove to the Jo-Ann Fabric store the next town over, because they had to have what I needed. They had to have what I needed. Then I saw it. The EXACT MATCH for the lace I needed to finish. 

Perfect! 

I rushed home and finished my project, newly energized to tackle the headband as well. I stood back and admired my work. I hoped she'd like it. 

She asked if I wanted to give a speech. I said I do. 

I had an entire year to prepare, but in true Kiki fashion, I procrastinated right to the last minute. 

Caught up in the saga of the long/short dress and the last minute veil, I was unable to gather my thoughts long enough to conceptualize a speech. I had ideas floating around but I had nothing down on paper. 

The morning of the wedding, while waiting with the bridal party to get my makeup done, I tackled the speech. It was almost there, but not quite. 

The afternoon of the reception lunch, between bites, I was able to finish my speech. I hoped she'd like it. 

I wasn't sure I'd make it, but in the end, everything was.... Perfect. I'm so happy for the wonderful couple. There was so much love and genuine emotion at that wedding and I only hope that their relationship matures and blossoms and they have a long, fruitful, and happy life together.

RJ, my bestie, my day 1, I love you. 

<3

Oh, Yeah- I'm Pregnant

*Gasp* SPOILER ALERT- I'm pregnant!!!!   It seems like it's been forever since my last post! I felt like I needed to post a quick update. We've just been busy busy busy and I've been putting off blogging, but no more! I'm back! So what's new? A lot!!! After being in what felt like limbo for the greater part of a year, things are finally falling into place. 

V

V started school last week!!! He has embarked upon the long journey towards getting his PhD. So proud of my man! Oh, and he built a new bar and totally redid the laundry room and basement (details to come in a future post). And started brewing beer. Again, no, I don't know where he gets the time or energy. 

Mimi

Mimi started school last week!!! (Such a daddy's girl). I'm so happy she'll be making new friends and learning new things. She's so excited to go to day care in the morning and a regular chatty Cathy in the afternoon, Just bubbling with excitement to share what happened with her day. 

Kiki

I got a new job!!!! Travel mama no more. I'm on my office grind (with occasional, optional travel) and I couldn't be happier. I used to loathe working in an office environment, but 100% travel quickly changed my perspective on things. I love going in to the office every morning because it means coming home to my family every afternoon. 

Oh, and I'm pregnant!!!!

*Happy Dance*

Baby Crabapple is expected to join the party in February!!! Yes folks, it's happening all over again. This time, I'm glad I have you along for the ride. 

The Recovery | Labor And Delivery Pt 3

**This is the third part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery (Because the fun doesn't end after a baby falls out of your hoo-ha). A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you should stop here. Things will get pretty graphic** We did our skin-to-skin bonding and all that jazz. They whisked her away to the pediatrician for standard testing and routine newborn care. 

I was in my new mama glee. I barely realized my doctor working away feverishly under the sheet. 

"What's going on down there? Is it the placenta?"

"No, you already passed that, it's right over there, " she motioned towards a Stainless Steel table. "I'm actually stitching you up. Your little girl came out like Superman, with her arm straight out in front of her. Well, she grabbed hold on her way out, and, well, I'm just stitching you up. Totally normal. Nothing to freak out about."

So I stared at my doctor, who at this point, started to resemble a skilled seamstress. I almost felt like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas who was always sewing herself back up again. It wasn't terrible, though. I still couldn't feel a thing. 

"Nurse, I need a Popsicle please."

I was determined to milk this hospital stay for all it was worth. 

Soon enough, I was all stitched up and ready to make my transition to the recovery ward. The nurse came back to prep me. 

"Your epidural is going to wear off soon. Before it does, I'm going to have to remove your catheter, and you are going to have to go to the bathroom to pee at some point. You are going to think you can walk, but I guarantee you will fall. Do not attempt to get off this bed unless I am here."

It started feeling less like a relaxing stay at the private hospital birthing suite and more like baby bearing boot camp. Wait. The epidural ends? I need to talk to your supervisor. 

The nurse came back in a while later and untaped the bag of pee from my leg then removed my catheter. Slowly I began to regain sensation. The only thing I remember feeling at this point was sore. I wiggled my toes and raised my legs. I was ready to use the bathroom, or so I thought. 

I waited for my nurse to come back even though I was sure I didn't need her. She instructed me to slowly get off the bed and gradually put weight on my legs. I followed her instructions. I was standing on my own. Clearly she had no idea what she was talking about. 

I took my first step, wobbled, and fell. She caught me before I could fall to the floor. She was right, I accepted defeat. I hobbled over to the bathroom with her supporting most of my weight. I sat on the toilet and waited.

Nothing happened.

"Do you need to pee? "

"Yes, actually, I really need to pee but nothing is happening."

"You need to pee before you leave this room because they're going to give you a catheter in recovery and you are going to feel it. You don't want to feel it. You need to pee."

The added pressure was not helping the situation. I pictured waterfalls and rivers. Nothing. I pushed. Nothing. 

"I just can't pee. I really need to but I can't. I don't know what else to tell you."

She helped me back to my bed and brought me a 32oz jug of water. I chugged it. She brought me another 32oz jug. I chugged that. She brought me a third 32oz jug. I made it through half of it.

"I really need to pee. Really bad."

She helped me hobble over to the bathroom. Still nothing. 

The recovery nurses arrived with a wheelchair to transport me to their unit. I could hear my nurse whispering to them,  "she hasn't peed. She's going to need to pee." I felt like a toddler being forced to pee before bedtime for fear of wetting the sheets. 

As soon as I got to the recovery room, the nurses took me to the bathroom. 

"We're going to let you try one last time, but if you still can't, you're going to need a catheter. "

I could feel my bladder about to explode, but I still couldn't pee. There was no use trying. I told the nurses to go ahead with the catheter because I really need to pee and it clearly wasn't happening on its own. 

They helped me up onto the bed and both nurses stood between my spread legs. One nurse got the catheter ready. 

"Hold my hand, this is going to hurt."

"It can't hurt any worse than what I'm feeling right now, plus I really really need to pee so let's just get it over with."

"One, two, three! "

I felt pressure, then nothing. The nurse looked at me. 

"We missed. Everything is just so swollen, we missed your urethra. It's actually swollen shut. We put the catheter in your vagina by mistake. But what I'm going to do is I'll just leave it in there, so I know where not to put the next one."

That was the most absurd thing I had ever heard. Two experienced nurses couldn't put in one catheter. I knew my vulva probably looked like it had gone through a blender, but that was no excuse.

I waited for them to prep another catheter.

"One, two, three!"

Instant relief. The urine flowed into a huge container and slowly filled it up. 

Once my bladder was empty, one nurse brought me my hospital issue underwear, and the other nurse brought me an "ice pack", which looked like crushed ice wrapped in a paper towel. Padsicles are real? I instantly regretted not having any Padsicles prepped and ready in my freezer. The ice pack felt like heaven against my inflamed lady-bits. 

I struggled to get comfortable. The nurses brought Mimi in for a feeding. It wasn't one of those magical baby crawl moments I envisioned where the baby would find its own way to the nipple. Instead, one nurse held Mimi, one nurse held my breast, one nurse used a suction cup on my nipple to get the colostrum going, and one nurse stood in the corner coaching me. It was awkward. I started having post-labor contractions while breastfeeding and it added to my level of discomfort. 

V took Mimi after her feeding while I focused on my cocktail of medication. I took my laxative (apparently the first post-baby poop is... Difficult) and my pain medication. My pain immediately melted away and I fell asleep until the next morning. 

The next day I opted out of the magic pain-killing pill because I needed to be awake and present to bond with my precious baby. The rest of my stay was painful yet uneventful, and V and I just couldn't wait to head home with our little bundle. 

My recovery took a full 6 weeks. I gained a whole new level of respect for my mother.

....And then the hospital bill came. 

Thank God for health insurance. 

A Child Is Born | Labor And Delivery Pt 2

**This is the second part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery. A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you should stop here. Things will get pretty graphic**   V grabbed my bag and ran to the parking lot to pull the car around to the front of the complex. I called my OB office to let them know I was headed to the hospital. Another rush of fluid. Gross. I quickly cleaned up and grabbed some towels for the car in case there was any more that needed to escape before we got to our destination.

I felt every bump, every hole, every acceleration, and every sharp brake. Luckily it was 9pm so there wasn't really much traffic on the road. We got to the hospital relatively quickly, within 15 minutes, and checked in at the emergency entrance. The nurse grabbed a wheelchair and wheeled me over to the labor and delivery unit, where I changed into the most unflattering backless dress in the history of hospital fashion.

Despite the pain, I was getting really excited. It was just a matter of time before I would meet the baby who was growing inside me. I laid back on the bed and the nurse hooked me up to some monitors. The needle on the monitor drew a low, flat line, followed by a sharp peak. I grimaced. "That's a contraction," the nurse remarked. She sat and studied the monitor. After one of the most awkward silences, the nurse pivoted in her stool, turning towards me.

"It's still too early. Your contractions aren't getting any stronger and they're still pretty far apart. I think you need to go home."

"Well my water broke, and I'm group B positive, so I need to be hooked up to antibiotics ASAP."

"Ma'am, I don't think your water broke."

I couldn't hide the expression on my face, the "you're an idiot" stare. Surely, she was the medical professional and she should know better than me. I humored her.

"Okay. If, like you said, my water didn't break, what exactly is the reason for my leaking vagina?"

"Ma'am, if your water broke, it would still be flowing out of you right now. It was probably incontinence. It's actually not unusual for pregnant women."

At this point I was completely and utterly annoyed and disgusted. Here I lay, fighting with a nurse between contractions. V sat silently and continued watching the exchange.

"I think I would know if it was urine. It didn't feel like urine coming out, and it didn't look like urine after it was out. I lost my mucus plug. I don't know what else to say to you, but my water broke, and you need to hook me up to the antibiotics."

The nurse left the room since it was no use arguing with a stubborn,  laboring, pregnant woman. She returned with the doctor. I explained everything to her that I previously explained to the nurse. The doctor then turned to the nurse with a puzzled expression and asked,  "why is this an issue? Why don't you just test her? " The nurse took some samples with a swab and took them for testing.

It was around 11:30pm. The nurse returned.

"Well it looks like your water broke. It says here that you're group B positive. We need to hook you up to the antibiotics right now. "

"Yeah. I know."

Unfortunately the gloating didn't last long since it was cut off by another series of contractions. The doctor came back in to explain what was happening and what was going to happen.

What she said was:

"Right now you're not progressing as quickly as we want you to. We're going to administer pitocin, which is going to help your body along in the process."

What she meant was:

"We've already admitted you and we can't wait all day. We're going to inject you with this devil drug from hell that is going to make you hate everything about your life."

She asked if I wanted the epidural. I declined, since I was managing the pain well enough. She assured me that there was still time to ask for it if I felt like I needed it.

Then the pitocin kicked in. What I had experienced up to this point was mere child's play.

Pre-pitocin contractions: "Ow, I'm in labor, this hurts. Hold my hand to help me get through this. Ow, but we're having a baby, I love you"

Post-pitocin contractions: "Aaaahhh shit shit shit shit aaaaawww no no no no stoooooooop aaaaaaaah aaaaaaaah I caaaaaaaaant no no no aaaaaahh I'm going to throw up! "

I was a complete mess. I was all over the hospital bed. I was leaning on my side, holding on to the metal bars with a death grip with my feet dangling off the edge. I was down on all fours doing involuntary pitocin-induced downward facing dog. I was sitting at the edge of the bed with my head between my knees, aimed directly over the vomit vessel I requested.

The pain was unbearable and indescribable. It was like every muscle from my abdomen to my thighs was trying to rip itself free and out of my body. It felt like grabbing and twisting and punching simultaneously, from both inside and out. It felt like literally being stabbed in the back and left to die in a dark alley. It was everything I never experienced and never again wanted to experience. While I shouted and screamed externally, I was having a profound internal dialogue. How can people do this? This is not natural. This is not normal. Why would people go through this more than once? Is it too late? Can I just opt out of labor? I never signed up for this. How can people do this? Is it too late? 

I had had enough. It was time for the epidural. But I felt like a sweaty gorilla. In my state of laboring delusion, after my contraction I pleaded with the nurses to let me take a shower.

"Are you crazy? You're not going anywhere!"

"WELL GIVE ME MY EPIDURAL! NOW!"

The timing of my request was such that my next contraction started before the anaesthesiologist made it to my room. I feebly suffered through the torture of another contraction while he set up his instruments. I never expected to feel so much relief at the sight of a needle so monstrously huge. It was that big, so it had to work.

Almost instantly, my pain quite literally melted away along with all other sensation in my lower body. The nurses hooked up my catheter. I was on cloud nine. My body was furiously working to bring our baby into the world and I didn't feel a thing. I never pictured luxury as being in a hospital bed, watching animal planet, eating a Popsicle, and peeing into a bag taped to my leg, but this sure was it.

It was 1am. I drifted off to sleep. The doctor and nurses came in to check on me periodically but that did little to disturb my slumber.

It was 9am. The nurse came in and peeked under the sheet. "You're crowning. I'm getting the doctor in here right now!"

I asked V what he saw.

"I see hair. A lot of it."

"Now is not the time for jokes. Now what do you see? Is it a head?? "

"I'm not kidding. It's a head, and a whole lot of hair."

The doctor came in and told me to push with my next contraction.

"Contraction?! I can't feel a thing! How the hell am I supposed to know I'm having a contraction?! "

"It'll feel like you need to poop. Trust me."

I waited. Then, sure enough, there was the sensation.

"I need to poop!"

"Puuuush!"

I pushed 4 times for 10 seconds each push. Well, at least I thought I pushed, because I was completely numb and had no idea what I was doing (that epidural was no joke). On the fourth "push", the doctor grabbed a tiny curled up baby from under the sheet and dropped her onto my chest. She was crying and I was crying. It was surreal.

V and I were smitten. She was perfect. She was ours. In one split second, our family of two grew into a family of three. Our lives were changed forever.

39 Weeks Pregnant | Labor And Delivery Pt 1

**This is the first part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery. A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you can stop here. Things may get a little graphic** My due date fell in the middle of Thanksgiving week. At 39 weeks pregnant, I was exhausted and anxious. I had planned to work right up until the day I delivered. I dreaded going into labor while I was at work, and my boss was gracious enough to let me work remotely starting the week before my due date.

It was the first day that I was scheduled to work remotely. I felt horrible, which is pretty standard at 39weeks. I started the day with an early morning doctor's appointment. My OB could see that I was ready to get the show on the road. Her assurances that I was progressing "like a rock star" did nothing to make me feel less like a beached whale. She did her best to calm me. "Just hang in there, " she said, "any day now, you're doing great."

I headed back home to start my work day. By the time I got home, V was already on campus for his last day of final exams. I had minimal distractions so that I could get through the day-- just me and Ella.

I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions and they seemed to be getting stronger. By 5pm I could do little more than curl up in bed. I knew that I would feel better if I took a little nap...

The pain woke me up around 7pm. These weren't Braxton-Hicks. I had never felt anything like this before-- this was the real deal. V's last final was scheduled to end at 8pm. I carefully contemplated calling him. I waited for the next contraction. They were far enough apart that I decided not to call. He needed to focus on his exam--the baby wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Plus I didn't need him speeding home and, heaven forbid, getting into an accident. I ran a bath and got in.

The warm bath definitely helped. My contractions still weren't in the danger zone yet, so I waited some more. V called at around 8:15 and he immediately knew something was going on. I told him that I was in labor, but not to rush because it wasn't "time" yet.

As I sat in the tub, I revisited my "birth plan", which was, up to this point: Step 1- go to hospital; Step 2-have baby. I kept going back and forth about the epidural during my pregnancy. A part of me wanted to experience the magic and wonder of "natural" childbirth, but my practical side wanted to be admitted with the anaesthesiologist waiting in my room. Though painful, I thought the contractions were bearable. I decided to hold off on the epidural until I thought I really needed it. That was the biggest decision I had left to make since I had already ruled out a water birth, birth ball,  a "room with a view" (I didn't want to see anything that couldn't be unseen), mood lighting, and music. I figured I was having a baby, not going to a Cirque Du Soleil show.

V got home around 30minutes later. I transitioned from the tub to the bed. He helped me time contractions while he scarfed down his leftovers from the night before. We were in for a long night and he knew it. I got up to check my prepacked hospital bag one more time to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. As I rose from the bed, I felt warm fluid trickling down my legs.

"It's time."

The Myth Of The Restful Weekend Getaway

The weekend of the fourth coincided with my older cousin TK's birthday weekend. He was having a hard time coming to terms with turning the big 4-0, so to help him get over himself, his wife Sammy planned an elaborate weekend retreat at a mountain cabin so that he could share his milestone with family. We set out on Friday afternoon. I was exhausted after another hectic week on the road. V loaded up the car and we started our journey towards radio silence. We got to the cabin an hour later, in awe of the beauty and tranquility that was practically at our doorstep. The huge deck overlooked a gently flowing river and we knew we were in for a peaceful weekend.

We thought we were in for a peaceful weekend.

We had food catered for the weekend so that we would avoid the stress of having to prepare meals for the entire family. We were, however, the first ones to arrive and the food was not yet on its way. Tired, hungry, and unable to wait, we left the cabin in search of food. We drove with no destination in mind partly because we wanted to see what the small town had to offer, but mostly because we had no reception to operate our phones for GPS. We approached a Gas Station that had a sign up out front that read "BBQ". I screamed out to V and he pulled into the gravel lot.

**Don't judge me... I know most people wouldn't trust barbecue from a Gas Station, however, in all my travels across these United States, I have learned to have more of an open mind when trying food from establishments that may be "off the beaten path". But back to the story**

The trip to the barbecue joint was actually quite uneventful. (Sorry!) We got a few dinners and some homemade ice cream and headed back to the cabin. Not bad for Gas Station food.

Now that we were good and content, it was finally time to relax and unwind. I went to our room to change into some more comfortable cabin-in-the-woods-appropriate clothes. V's bags were in the closet.

Did he really just leave my suitcase in the car? 

No biggie. I am strong, invincible, woman, and all that jazz. I can get my bag out of the car.

Except for the fact that the car was completely empty. 

Rewind to us packing at the house. V declared, "You get ready, I'll load up the car." So naturally, I got ready while he packed the car.

Except for the fact that he never packed my suitcase. 

Fast forward to the current situation. A simple misunderstanding. I thought he was packing my bag, and he thought I was packing my bag. I still needed my (and Mimi's) stuff. So we headed to our house and back.

This night set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Don't get me wrong. It was an amazing weekend. Food, drink, and family bonding.

It was almost cathartic to be shut off from the outside world (albeit involuntarily) and TK clearly appreciated having us all there to celebrate his milestone with him. But between Mimi's clinging due to separation anxiety, cooking breakfast for the household because I was up early with Mimi anyway, and our multiple trips back home to let Ella out (I still regret not boarding her--lapse in judgment), I was completely and utterly exhausted.

I spent all my free time after this "retreat" stealing naps and trying to recharge. Now, two weeks later, I finally feel like a human being again.

I was naive to fall for the promise of a restful weekend getaway. This elusive ideal is reserved for the single and carefree or the couple with no obligations. While I can't say that I'll avoid weekend trips in the future, I will say that I'll avoid delusions of rest and/or relaxation.

My Dog, Ella | Pit Bulls Pt 3

**This is the third and final post in my three part series: Pit Bulls. This series outlines our journey towards getting our official "family dog", a pit bull.** V worked the night shift. Luke and I fell asleep on the couch while watching Golden Girls reruns. It was a Wednesday night. 

I was content having a single dog household. I knew that getting a second dog with our schedules would be... Tricky.  Although V mentioned getting a puppy a few times, I naturally assumed the novelty would wear off and he would switch his laser focus to another subject in time. 

V walked in at 5am. To be clear, that's 5am meaning 5:00 in the morning. He startled me awake with an announcement. 

I found a puppy. A pitbull. We're going to get her. She's in North Carolina. If we leave now we can get there by 8am. 

This had to be some kind of dream. It didn't make any sense. What was he talking about? Wasn't this a bit sudden? What's the rush anyway, couldn't we at least talk about this some more and get her maybe over the weekend? 

We can't wait, there's no time. Her owner is a breeder. The neighbor called animal control because there was a litter of newborn puppies in the yard and they were being kept away from their mother. The owner would come out to the yard and spray the puppies with a garden hose and that was supposed to be their drinking water. Animal control took all the puppies but one, since the neighbor asked to keep her. Now they don't think it's feasible to keep her so they're re-homing her. She's 6 weeks old and who knows how long she's been away from her mother. She needs us. We gotta get her. Now. 

You've got to be kidding me. Okay you can put your violins away now, you win. 

I got dressed, got Luke taken care of for the morning, then we headed for North Carolina. 

Hey, babe? Do you think you can drive? I really think I need to catch some z's, I'm exhausted. 

You've got to be kidding me. I thought you put the violins away?? 

So I headed to North Carolina while V headed to dreamland in the passenger seat. After what seemed like an eternity of driving, the GPS rang out with the "You have arrived" alert. I turned to V. 

What I thought was:

I'm staying in the car. Go get your dog so we can get the hell out of here. I'm tired, dammit! 

What I said was:

We're here babe. I'll wait here while you get her. 

He came back with a ziploc bag of dog food, some papers showing some vaccination records, and the tiniest ball of dog that I had ever seen. Her little body curled up in his palm was enough to melt any heart. I started getting excited because I knew that Luke would enjoy having a friend.

We named her Ella. 

She was a very rambunctious pup. She got into everything. The pantry was her personal food storage space-- everything in there was fair game. Dry rice or beans, potatoes, lemongrass, she wasn't picky. She chewed through shoes, she chewed clear through the drywall in two places, then somehow got into my makeup. 

Though, in V's eyes, she could do no harm,  I was quickly losing patience. That's when I delivered my ultimatum: either she goes to training, or she goes. 

So she went to training... And graduated! 

She got us through some tough times. She was there when we were losing Luke. She stayed by his side during his final days and I think it brought him peace, but it also set my mind at ease since I knew he wasn't alone in the end...

**Fast forward to today**

She has been Mimi's best friend since day one. It's strange to see such a large dog be so gentle, but she is. I was worried about "bringing home baby" to a dog in the house, but she instinctively took on the role of guardian and protector.

The two are now inseparable. Mimi's a bit older now, but she still loves vegging out on the rug-- just a girl and her dog. 

Mimi has learned how to be loving, caring, and compassionate much more quickly (I think) than if she didn't have her dog by her side. 

Our pit bull has been so important to our family, in fact, our pit bull is family. We have faced housing discrimination because of her, but no housing situation is worth giving her up. It's so unfortunate that breed discrimination exists today. Dogs are so much more than "labels".

If people could put their pitch forks down and take the time to learn more about the breed, they might actually learn that pit bulls can enrich lives...

...I did.

Don't Pity Me

This morning I shared my row on the airplane with a woman and her young son. As we waited for the aircraft to finish boarding, the boy peppered his mother with questions, at times interjecting with exclamations regarding the progression of his video game. She turned to me and apologized on his behalf for his outbursts, and warned that he was likely to continue for the duration of the flight. I warmly smiled and assured her that I had no problem with it since I have a young one at home and I know how it could be at times. Her brows furrowed as if she wanted to ask me what circumstance would lead to me traveling without my child. Instead of asking directly, she began the delicate dance of asking indirect questions to satiate her curiosity; a dance I have grown accustomed to, yet despise.

What do you do for a living?

How often do you travel?

Do you like it, though?

That must be really hard. I could never do that! 

Hey, can you do me a favor?

Don't pity me. 

Because I left the security of my parents' home at 18 to move to a new country to go to college, have new experiences, meet new people, and step outside of my bubble.

What's it like moving to a new country and starting over without a support system? Can't run home to mommy and daddy!

Do you miss your friends back home? You must be so lonely!

Don't pity me.

Because I did it all over again to go to grad school. New city, new state. New challenges, new expectations.

Yeah that's cool and all, but what are you going to do with a PhD?

Oh, you're stopping with your Master's? What's the point? That's kind of a waste of talent. You're smart, why don't you just get a PhD?

Don't pity me. 

Because I did it all over again to start my first job: same state, new city. Because I married my best friend and we were preparing to welcome Mimi into the world.

Do you have any family here? Does your husband?

How are you going to do it by yourselves?

You're only taking 12 weeks of maternity leave?

You're going to put Mimi in daycare?

Don't pity me. 

Because I do what I need to to for my family. Because we do what we need to do for our family. Because it's hard as hell but we're making it work.

Santana The Stray | Pit Bulls Pt 2

**This is the second post in my three part series: Pit Bulls. This series outlines our journey towards getting our official "family dog", a pit bull.**

It was a gorgeous Sunday morning in Small-town, USA. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the dogs were barking (no escaping the barking-- there was an almost sickening dog population, with each person having on average 1.5 dogs, but I digress).

We had gotten our beautiful rescue, an English Pointer named Luke, about 6 months earlier. Not a pit bull, but I figured I needed at least some pet experience before I dove in. And when I say "our" pointer, I mean "my" pointer. Luke and V had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least.

Luke and I were inseparable. I was completely transformed into a "dog person" at that point. I took him on hikes (by hike I mean a walk around the neighborhood trail, which was more than I was used to anyway), I took him shopping so he could choose his favorite toys, and I took him for grooming every 2 weeks. Seeing Luke grow from a terrified and shy creature to a proud pointer in all his glory made me appreciate just how much human love can transform a dog.

I had just come back from taking Luke on his morning walk, and I decided to go for a drive. I turned out onto the main road leading out of our apartment complex, and I saw this black shadow hobbling along the side of the road. No collar, no owner in sight. I slowed down and pulled up next to the dog. Black, female, pit bull. I remained cautious at this point because she was a stray, after all.

Wait a minute. Strays don't exist here. Every dog belongs to somebody. 

I rolled down the window. "Hey Girl!" I called out to her. I was still in the car, but I was close enough to get a good look at her. She could barely walk. She seemed tired, thirsty, and she had a terrible limp. "Hey girl, come here girl!" She started to hobble towards me, as if she could understand the basic command. Excellent! We established communication and she was walking towards me.

Wait a minute. A strange pit bull is walking towards me. I have no idea what I'm doing. 

I turned the car around and parked on the side of the road. V would know what to do. My heart ached. What if that was Luke?

I got out of the car and, maintaining a safe distance, called her to follow me. She made it to our apartment. I banged on the door for V to come outside.

He came out through the front door. "What the hell is this?" He asked, motioning towards the dog. "I found her up the street," I explained, "No collar but I don't think she's a stray. And she stinks".

V leaned in closer, "Yeah, she does. Skunk".

"So what do we do?"

"Call animal control. "

"We can't. They're closed on Sunday. We have to wait until tomorrow. But what do we do now?"

"Well she needs food and water. I'll put Luke away in the bedroom then I'll get her something to eat and drink. You go to the pet store and get some skunk shampoo."

He put Luke away then led her inside. He kept talking to her and that seemed to make her a bit more comfortable, though she still seemed terrified.

I went to the store and rushed back with the shampoo. When I walked through the door, she and Luke were already sniffing each other, and each seemed to be enjoying the other's company. V gave her a bath and used about half of the bottle of shampoo. We had an extra collar and leash, and we took them outside a few times more that day. She was clearly housebroken. What could have happened to her?

The next morning, I called animal control. I described her and they checked their records for reported missing dogs. I started to get nervous. What if there was no record? What do we do? Do we surrender her to the pound? No, we can't do that. We'll keep her. We have to.

"Ma'am," the rescue agent continued, "we have a black pit bull, reported missing Friday. Says here that she escaped after the owners were trying to give her a bath after she got sprayed by a skunk."

"Well I guess it doesn't get any more specific than that."

I gave them my contact info so that the owner could contact me. She sent me a text a few minutes later, asking if I could meet her at a nearby gas station. V and I loaded her up with her one posession: half a bottle of skunk shampoo. We pulled in to the gas station and there was a woman with 4 children. Their eyes lit up as we approached. "Santana! Santana!" The kids all ran towards her and started showering her with kisses. It was obvious that they didn't think that they would be reunited with their dog.

I explained everything that happened and how I came to meet the gentle thing. Her owner thanked us and told us she didn't think that Santana would make it, since she was in poor health. She was an older dog, and wandering around really took a toll on her. I looked at the love she was met with and I knew she would be okay.

V and I drove back to our apartment. We walked in and Luke searched behind us, looking for his new friend. "I'm sorry, Luke," I explained, "She had to go back to her real home."

We sat there with Luke for a while, in silence. "I know it sounds weird, but I miss her," I confessed to V. "I know, me too," he replied.

"So when are we getting our own pit bull?"

She Should Be Speaking At Two

Mimi had her 18 month checkup last week. Poked and prodded, measured and compared, we got "the stats" from her pediatrician.

She's 80th percentile for height but 30th percentile for weight (Non-parents: that's pediatrician-speak for she's taller than 80% but heavier than 30% of toddlers her age). She should be speaking by two, but more specifically, she should be saying between 3 and 50 words.

Between 3 and 50?

That's right, folks. Quite a spread.

That "recommendation" or "guideline" is the embodiment of what the modern parent has to go through. No longer can children learn and grow at their own pace. They must be evaluated and charted and compared to their peers. But as if that wasn't enough, you're now telling me that she needs to say between 3 and 50 words. You know what that metric tells me? That you have no clue what normal is. We all worry that our children won't hit their developmental milestones, but now we also have to wonder what that milestone is. Is it 3 words? Or is it 50? Is a child who speaks 3 words any less "advanced" than once who speaks 50?

We as adults fight for our individuality and we acknowledge that we are all different and as unique as snowflakes on a winter morning. Why, then, do we seek to pigeon hole our children into these set molds and expectations?

She's too tall, she's too skinny, she shouldn't suck her thumb, she should be saying more.

Well I happen to think that she's not a statistical anomaly. She's an individual. She's Mimi. She'll do it as soon as she's ready and she'll be just fine. Because after all, she can't do it before she's ready.

Can she?

I May Not Be Perfect, But My Husband Is

I know, I know, *gag* nobody's perfect. Bear with me, people, it's Father's Day weekend!!

I still have feelings of mom guilt. Standard, I think, for the working mom, but even more severe for the working mom who happens to travel for work.

Every Monday morning at 5:30am, I dutifully head to the airport. I leave my precious Mimi at home sleeping peacefully in her crib. She never knows when I leave, but she always knows when I'm gone. V is tasked with keeping the household going; he's captain of the ship Monday though Friday.

He always keeps me updated about Mimi's progress throughout the week. "She sprouted a new tooth!" Or "she started singing her A-B-C's!" My favorite was "she used the potty!" (This last announcement was accompanied by visual aides). He does everything without complaint, and is so gracious and loving.

When I get home on Friday afternoon, he doesn't just tap out and let me "take my shift". That's when he kicks in to high gear, mowing the lawn or tackling small projects around the house (like building our dining room table and benches... Did I mention he's perfect?) I don't know where he gets the energy, honestly.

The weekend is usually split into girls time, family time, and couples time. Couples time naturally occurs whenever Mimi is asleep, so during daytime nap and any time after 7pm. This time is so valuable because it helps us recharge, well, as a couple! Girls time happens so that he can have V time to decompress, and Mimi and I can have "we" time. We start with brunch, then run errands, and usually finish up by visiting family across town. Family time occupies the gap between couples time and girls time. (Did I mention I'm type A?)

But back to the mom-guilt bit. I can't help but feel like Mimi is growing up without me, and that I'm not "carrying my own weight" in the household. V has been so amazing and supportive in not only taking care of everything on the home front but also constantly reassuring me that he's okay, she's okay, we're okay, and that I should be okay too.

This has been the most significant Father's Day because I am able to truly appreciate everything that V has done and is doing as a husband and a father. He's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

I'm definitely not perfect. And I'll admit, he may not be perfect, but he's pretty damn close.

Fats, The Family Dog | Pit Bulls Pt 1

**This is the first post in my three part series: Pit Bulls. This series outlines our journey towards getting our official "family dog", a pit bull.** I hated dogs. I mean not just regular dislike. I hated them. They disgusted me. They were furry vectors of disease who had no place in a domestic setting.

But then I met V and his family dog, Fats. Not just any dog, but a pit bull. Surely he didn't expect me to be nice to that thing. Surely he didn't expect me to be friends with that thing. But he did.

Our first Thanksgiving rolled around. There was no more putting it off. I was brought face to face with the savage beast. He was stout yet muscular. He had a short yellow coat and a red nose. He looked to be about 100lbs, easy. "I've heard about your kind," I thought, as I examined him through the screen door. V quickly ushered me inside.

I froze as Fats examined me. He sniffed my shoes, my clothes. I could feel his repulsive wet snout on my exposed knees. "This is it," I thought. "This is the day I die. He's going to tear me limb from limb and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it".

Then, he wagged his tail and walked away.

This had to be some kind of mind trick. I heard they were smart. He's trying to make me let my guard down, then he'll launch his attack. I'm smarter than him; he's just a savage beast.

I mingled and shuffled about, never once letting him out of my sight. He lay on the floor, playing possum, waiting until the moment was right. I sat on the couch and started to ease into the family conversation.

Slowly, Fats rose from the floor. He turned his gaze towards me and started walking in my direction. Slowly. Deliberately. I froze. I was trapped. He stepped closer. Who would save me?! Closer and closer until.. He was right in front of me.. I silently searched the room with my eyes, paralyzed by terror. My desperate gaze was unmet-- they were all deep in conversation. Fats gave a quick glance to his master as if to ask for permission to carry out the attack. No one was paying attention. That's when he climbed on the couch and...

......Curled up in my lap.

This 100lb thing was on me. I was so confused. Before I could come up with my escape plan to make it to safety, he...

......Nudged my hand with his head, as if he wanted me to.. Pet him?

I obliged.

There we were, the two of us, from different worlds, different galaxies. Yet, something made me so calm in that moment. Me and Fats. This wasn't so bad. Actually, it was quite nice.

V glanced over at me after what had seemed like an eternity. He saw me petting Fats and he softly chuckled to himself. He knew he had won.

That's when I knew that we were probably going to have a family dog (if and when we ever had a family).

That's when I knew it would probably be a pit bull...

Be Patient

I try so hard not to be, but I'm inescapably Type A. I need to be 100% in control at all times, and I can be overbearing with my compulsion to plan every aspect of my life. I despise any situation where I have no immediate influence on the outcome.

The "great move" brought me face to face with my fears, and forced me to let go. The waiting game after the interview. The waiting game before we could close on our home. The waiting game to see if V would be able to pursue his PhD at the University of his dreams. Each situation thrust me (us) into the passenger seat, at the mercy of some external entity to determine our fate. I had to learn that I couldn't control everything-- and that's okay.

I consciously try to live day by day, but those pesky compulsions keep resurfacing. My cogs start turning and sometimes I just can't help myself. We have a few things in the works right now and I keep running through them in my head even though no amount of thinking or planning will change the outcome.

Tonight, however, I got a humbling reminder at dinner. The message in my fortune cookie read,  "Be patient! The Great Wall didn't got build [sic] in one day."

That was exactly what I needed. Above all else, the "great move" taught me that if something is meant to happen, it will happen... In its own time.

A fortune, indeed.

5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Weekend

When I'm on the road it's easy to become consumed by thoughts of the coming weekend.

"What should we do this weekend?"

I come up with such grand ideas. We'll go to a festival! A picnic in the park! A trip to the lake! Then Friday rolls around and all the plans I carefully considered morph into "I think I just want to stay home and relax". After all, being on the road all week makes a person want to take it easy. Right?

That's exactly what happened this weekend.

While making my final descent I pictured Mimi, V, and I, all sitting out on the deck, enjoying the calm content that is being together again. That was it. That's what we would do. It was settled....

I stepped in the front door and Mimi squealed with excitement and leapt into my arms. Then V asked,  "What should we do this weekend?"

I walked right into that one because I deviated from the proven system. Here are five ways to guarantee maximum enjoyment for your time spent at home:

1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! I can't stress this point enough. It doesn't matter what you planned all by yourself. You need to have buy in from your significant other to make sure you can hit the ground running with your weekend plans. Nothing pops plan balloons like two people having conflicting ideals of how to spend your weekend.

2. Do The Ground Work Before You Get There You both know you want to do something but you don't know what to do. So you waste precious time on your weekend together fumbling around trying to a) see what's going on around town and b) plan for it. Where are we going? How long are we going to be gone? Would we need a sitter? Should we drive or take an Uber? These are all questions that should be answered before you walk through the front door.

3. Not Doing Anything Counts As Doing Something

Sometimes all you need to do is uncork a bottle of wine, snuggle up on the couch, and binge watch Amazon Prime Video (yeah, we're not really a Netflix household). A "date night in" takes the stress out of planning. Plus you don't even have to dress up! Unless of course you want to, then you should totally dress up.

4. Keep It In The Family Sometimes I worry that I don't have enough time to make time for my extended family. The best way to counteract these fears: make time for them! Every once in a while (read: every other week) we like to host a family get together just to eat, drink, hang out, and get in on some good ol' family bonding. Because family is the whole reason we moved here, right?? It's great having that support system practically on our doorstep.

5. Love Unconditionally And Cherish Every Shared Moment Because-- need I say more?

Apprehensive And A Bit Scared

I remember when baby Mimi was born. I went to the hospital apprehensive and a bit scared, but left with the deepest love I had ever felt. She needed me; she needed us. A tiny little thing who snuggled so perfectly in our arms. Her personality blossomed, and her smile was infectious...

I remember when baby Mimi first started daycare. I dropped her off, apprehensive and a bit scared. It was hard letting go, but I'll admit it was even harder getting her photo updates throughout the day. She's having fun! She's having fun! She's... Having fun? She's not terrified? Miserable? Lonely? Home sick? Missing me? Missing us? That's when it hit me that she was becoming independent. She was becoming her own person, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. She didn't NEED me to be happy; she didn't NEED us...

I remember when baby Mimi went to visit her cousin for the first time. I was apprehensive and a bit scared. Would they like each other? They laughed and played, rolled around, fought, pulled hair, shared toys, shared bottles, shared food, and all the fun stuff babies do. This was it, this is what we had been missing. Isolated and in our own world, we realized that Mimi needed more. Mimi needed family. That's when V and I made our decision: we're moving!!!

I remember when I got the job offer of my dreams. I remember being apprehensive and a bit scared. I had moved to a new country, to multiple states, but this would be the biggest move by far. It wasn't just about me. It was about my entire family. Were we doing the right thing???

I remember when I started my new job and I learned that I was going to have to travel every single week. I had initially anticipated that the travel would phase out as I transitioned to an office role. Not so: the travel was a permanent fixture. I couldn't help but be apprehensive and a bit scared. How can I travel when I have a young child? A young marriage? That's when V stepped in. "If this is what you want to do, I'll support you 100%". He did exactly that. And more....

I have learned that it's okay to be apprehensive. It's okay to be scared. It's okay to wonder if you're doing the right thing or going in the right direction. It just means that you're stepping away from everything you know and venturing into the unknown. It could end up being the best thing you ever did, or, you could fail miserably. Either way, success or failure, relish in the fact that you tried something new. No risk, no reward.