Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Welcome, Sally!

Our daughter has arrived! ...and in very different fashion than her brother. My labor with James was pretty short for a firstborn (only about 5 hours). Since everybody says the second child comes faster, I had legitimate fears that Sally might be delivered in the backseat of a car or in the hospital elevator. But contrary to expectations, my labor with Sally ended up being twice as long--about 10 hours--and it felt harder than my labor with James. But in some ways it was also much better, and overall it was a very good experience. Here is the entire (long-winded) birth story...

A Fair Warning
I was 3-4 cm dilated at my last two prenatal appointments. At Friday's appointment my doctor said it looked like I would give birth within the week, maybe even that weekend. But the days came and passed and my hopes dwindled. The following Thursday I had some early morning contractions that stopped when I got out of bed. But that was enough for Bryan to stay home from work just in case. At my prenatal appointment later that day I was 80% effaced at 4cm and the doctor suggested that if I went for a long walk I might come back in a few hours in labor. But I didn't go for a long walk because it was March 19. If she could wait just one more day, then she would arrive on March 20, the First Day of Spring, which is kind of a holiday (like my birthday is) and I thought that would be a pretty neat birthday for her. Mother and Stefanie picked up James to spend the night with his cousins, and that evening I finally had a couple more Braxton Hicks contractions before bed.

So It Begins
I had a few hours of good sleep before waking up at 1:30 with contractions again. I got out of bed and walked around reading a devotional book to see if they would go away like they had the previous morning. March 20's devotion was titled "Words of Triumph" and was all about Jesus' words on the cross "It is finished". I felt I was reading a prophetic devotion about the end of my pregnancy! The contractions were real this time, coming 5-10 minutes apart for a full hour. Still thinking that labor would progress quickly this time, I woke up Bryan and told him we would go to the hospital when the contractions were more consistently 5 minutes apart. A couple hours later they were still 5-10 minutes apart and I felt bad about waking up Bryan so early. I decided we could go on to the hospital and continue the waiting there.

Slow n Steady
I walked into the hospital about 5am without needing a wheelchair and without stopping for contractions. It was clear this would be a very different experience than the first time we did this. We walked into triage and the nurse asked what brought us there. Seriously?  But yes, she was actually waiting for our reply... "I'm in labor." It felt really stupid to say that out loud. In hindsight, I probably should've screamed it while slamming fists on her desk or said that I was there for the free popsicles. I signed some paperwork (and actually read what I was signing this time) before changing into one of those shapeless hospital gowns. Its dated pattern of confetti shapes on a faded blue background reminded me that many, many women had walked this road before me, and I was happy to don that unflattering smock to join their ranks once again. But I was still just 4cm dilated. Bummer. They wanted me to stick around triage so I sat on the exercise ball while the contractions got stronger. I didn't remember them hurting this much with James. I told Bryan I should've watched The Business of Being Born again (which I had watched when pregnant with James) to remind me WHY an epidural was a bad thing... because it was starting to sound like a really great idea. An hour later they checked me again and I was up to 5cm so they said they would get a delivery room ready for me. When they came back to take me to the room, I stood up from sitting on the ball and felt a release of liquid that pooled between my feet... "Um... my water just broke."

I don't know how this part took nearly 4 hours.. it either flew by or lasted forever, I'm not sure which...
We made it to our delivery room about 7:30am. Despite eating and drinking at the house that night, I was hungry and felt I needed to eat to regain some energy for this marathon. But of course they only offered me popsicles (yuck) or ice chips which made my empty stomach feel queasy. Finally got hooked up to an IV of fluids which helped restore some energy without making me nauseous. But it could only help so much... by mid-morning I already felt I might be too weak and tired to push and I was wishing I'd gotten an epidural so I could be sleeping through those exhausting contractions. (I told Bryan again that he should've made me watch that Business of Being Born video.) I asked Bryan to fan my face to cool me off and that actually helped a lot. It made me comfortable enough to focus on relaxing between contractions. I may have even drifted in and out of sleep between contractions during that last hour of labor while he was fanning my face. Maybe it was my body's ultimate survival-mode power napping? That's what it felt like, and Bryan said my face started regaining color and not looking so pale like I might pass out. I love that God designed breaks in the labor pains. I can't imagine surviving constant contractions without the calm intervals in between.

Words of Triumph: It is finished!
Finally, FINALLY I told the nurse that I was feeling the urge to push. She clocked me at 9cm and sent for the doctor. She asked if I pushed very long the first time and Bryan told her not long at all... Next contraction, stronger pushing urges, harder to refrain. Between my sudden new onset of guttural groaning and whimpering, I asked if the doctor was coming--I wasn't sure how long I could hold it in! Doctor arrived and I started pushing. It hurt much worse this time than it did with James, but Bryan says I was not doing much pushing with James (too weak/dehydrated/incoherent?) which is why they put the OR on standby during his delivery. Neither of us are sure how many minutes I pushed with Sally, but Bryan says it was only three pushes before everything paused and everybody seemed pleased. I wasn't entirely sure what happened and had to ask if her head was out. Bryan told me it was, and the doctor was cutting the umbilical cord around her neck. Then I pushed out the rest of her and after a quick wipe down they placed her on my chest.

Sally Kristina was born at 11:17am on March 20, 2015, weighing 7lb 8oz and measuring 19 7/8 inches long. Newborn Sally looked a lot like newborn James. She was cuddly and calm on my chest while the doctor stitched my minor tears and Bryan looked down at us teary-eyed. I didn't feel that adrenaline rush of relief when it was all over like I did when James was born, but at least it was all over and I was so happy about that. Even though the labor was longer and the contractions were more painful, everything went smoothly. There was no rushing around, no dropping heart rate, no OR on standby. Every time it came up that I wasn't getting an epidural, the nurse said I was doing "Lamaze" instead. Except I wasn't... I don't know the first thing about Lamaze. I'm still not sure if she was just using that as a generic term for natural childbirth, or if she really expected me to know a lot more than I did about pain management, breathing techniques, etc. Like I said in the beginning, it was overall a very good experience, but I can definitely see myself getting an epidural next time if it looks like I'm in for another long hard labor like this one. Sally was worth every bit of it though; I was in love with her instantly. She's a beautiful baby and already seems so sweet and docile. I can't wait to enjoy what the future holds for us!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Growing a Girl

Well this post is long overdue on many levels. Skip the announcement, the pictures, the details on the first few months and jump straight to: Hello, blog, I'M GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY ANY DAY NOW.

But for posterity I feel obliged to take advantage of this quiet evening to document what this pregnancy has been like for me. (And successfully banish this creeping guilt of my future child someday asking where to read the blog post about my pregnancy with her because she could only find the one about my experience with James...)

This second ride on the preggo train was different in several ways from my first. I actually had a full week of debilitating, nearly non-stop nausea in the beginning, compared to no nausea at all with James. I also quickly lost all interest in my beloved black coffee. Water was also hard to stomach. I drank a lot of ginger ale and Snapple teas those first months because most other liquids just sounded blech to me. In the second trimester I had cravings for steak. In the third trimester I had cravings for oranges, and throughout the entire pregnancy I had an affinity for anything sweet.

I tried to keep jogging, but the fact is that making time for jogs when mothering a toddler is very hard to do even when you're not battling the fatigue of pregnancy. I jogged occasionally in the first tri and even ran a 5k with Bryan, but once the weather got cold I stopped jogging altogether. I continued my weekly Centergy (aerobic yoga) class up until about 7 months pregnant when I began feeling that very uncomfortable pelvic floor pressure when working out. I was bummed to quit Centergy so soon since I had continued it with James up until the week he was born. I just really hope that doesn't end up making my labor/delivery/recovery much harder this time. I have no idea how much of an effect that had on my L/D with James.

Also new with this pregnancy: a pinched nerve -- ow! Starting at about 5 months preggo I had very specific pain in one spot on my lower back. It was almost constant dull pain and peaked to very sharp pain when I moved certain ways. I couldn't sleep on my right side because it hurt that one spot so bad. I couldn't lift my right leg at all while bending over. Then one day, around 7 months preggo, it was gone. Just gone. Apparently baby was just sitting on a nerve and it stayed pinched until she decided to move off of it.

We had another fun gender reveal party thrown by my sister and hosted by my parents. My family, Bryan's family, and family friends were all there. We played games, cast our gender votes, and we all found out together when we popped the pink confetti filled balloons--it's a girl!! I was SO so excited about that news. It seemed unreal. I just knew that we'd have another boy because I WANTED so badly to have a girl. I'm still a little giddy about this. How blessed I am to have a boy AND a girl! I hope my daughter(s??) and I have a good relationship and share lots of shopping, breakfast dates, pedicures, baking marathons, and chick flicks together! We decided to name her Sally; a quintessential girl name in my opinion and also a derivative of Sara. She will share my middle name, Kristina, because Bryan said that would be one less name for him to remember. ;)

So here I am, 38 weeks pregnant and going crazy with this waiting game. James was born at the end of 38 weeks, so I never reached that point of going crazy with him approaching/passing his due date. But this time I feel like 38 weeks is my due date... this time I'm expecting labor to start any moment... this time the waiting and not knowing when she'll come is making me restless and anxious and scared. What if she comes even faster than James and I can't make it to the hospital in time?? What if I do make it to the hospital, but James has to go into delivery with me because Gigi/Momo couldn't come get him?? These are the thoughts that keep me praying to God on behalf of my sanity. However it happens this time, here's hoping that it's another excellent experience all-around!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Honest Story of a Natural Childbirth

*Disclaimer: This birth story was written as much for my own records as to share with others. Because of this, it is a graphic, unreserved description of labor and delivery. Ladies, you've been warned. Men, just quit reading now. ;)

Let me begin by saying that I was extremely blessed with a terrific childbirth experience. I'm still baffled as to why God chose to make it so easy for me, but the blessing was much appreciated and I am excited to share my story to encourage other primigravidas. If you want the cliff notes version, I woke up with contractions at 1 am, was admitted to the hospital at 4:40 am, and he was born at 6:17 am after just twenty minutes of pushing and no drugs. If you want the full story mode version, keep reading. It was a whirlwind experience, and this is as much of it as I remember.

The Real Deal Realization: Tuesday night, April 2nd, I was two days away from being 39 weeks pregnant. For the past week I'd seen normal signs of gradual effacement/dilation (spotting pink at the toilet). I was one centimeter dilated at my last three checkups and 50% - 70% effaced. I began feeling contractions about 8 pm which I assumed were Braxton Hicks since I had not had any of those yet. The contractions were uncomfortable, but I still went to bed about 10 pm and slept until 1 am when I could no longer sleep through them. I lied in bed awake for a while before I realized they seemed to be coming at regular intervals. I began timing the contractions with an app on my phone. They were coming about 5-6 minutes apart. That's when I finally began to think that maybe, MAYBE I'd have a baby by this time tomorrow. We had previously been told that since this was our first child and we lived close to the hospital, we could wait until the contractions were one minute apart to come in to the hospital. At 2:15 I got out of bed and sat on the exercise ball at the dining table making padscicles and perineum spray-- a task I'd been putting off but really wanted to get done before James arrived. The contractions felt much easier on the ball instead of lying down or standing because I could gently rock my hips around to get through them. I went to the bathroom and concluded that what I saw could only be the "bloody show" I'd read about that comes before labor. With the contractions also slowly increasing in frequency, I knew this was the real deal.

Plenty of Time, Right? I woke Bryan up at 3:30 telling him he'd have to take me to the hospital tonight. He just squinted up at me, "Why?" Then he smiled, "I know why..." Still thinking we would wait until the contractions were one minute apart to leave, I told him he had time to shave, shower, and get ready to go. I got ready to go myself, putting on some Depends underwear in case my water broke, and resumed making padscicles on the exercise ball. By the time Bryan shaved and got out of the shower, I was unable to perform any task during a contraction. All of my faculties were focused on concentrating through the pain. Even though the contractions were three minutes apart, I told him we'd leave as soon as he got dressed. I still didn't think I was close to delivery, but I reasoned that by the time we got to the hospital they might be one minute apart, and I didn't know if I'd be able to move at all if we waited much longer.

Well That Escalated Quickly: I made it from my ball at the dining table to the car in our garage with only one stop to wait out a contraction. The hospital was in sight when I felt the first gush of my water breaking. Thankfully the Depends did their job and kept my pants and seat dry! Since it was after hours, we went to the ER. I had to stop again just outside the entrance to wait one out. Bryan said the people behind the ER desk were just sitting there watching us while we stood in the street for a minute. "Labor and delivery?" they asked when we finally got inside. Uh... yeah. They brought me a wheelchair and took me across campus to the maternity wing where we entered "triage", the exam rooms where nurses assess your need for a delivery room or send you home. At this point I got in the hospital gown and forfeited my contraction-timing phone to Bryan. By this time they were two minutes apart and increasing in intensity. The nurses were asking a lot of questions which I had very few windows of opportunity to answer since I couldn't speak during contractions. And when I was able to speak, half of the time was spent correcting the wrong information Bryan had given them. Finally they checked my dilation and I was at 9 cm. Suddenly they took me very seriously. "Don't push!" the triage nurse said, "I don't want to deliver that baby." I remember someone popping their head in the room and asking if I wanted an epidural, and I was able to say no. Knowing that I was already 9cm was a huge encouragement -- maybe that meant I wouldn't have to endure eight more hours of increasingly worse pain! Back to the wheelchair and they sped me off to a delivery room. I realized much later when I opened the door to leave our room that I had no idea how I'd gotten there and needed Bryan's directions to get me back out to the lobby.

In the Zone: Somehow I got from the wheelchair to the delivery bed. When the nurses realized I also had back pain during the contractions, they showed Bryan where and how to apply counter-pressure and that was a great aid in providing some relief. They continued asking me basic questions trying to complete my check-in, which they never fully finished until after delivery. At one point they asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten. This was the worst pain I'd ever experienced, but it was still manageable and I still fully expected it to get a lot worse. I rated it a seven. The nurses acted impressed, but I assumed it was just their job to act impressed with every laboring woman. During contractions I would clench my fists, close my eyes tight, focus on steady breathing, and see the numbers in my head of my phone's contraction timer counting the seconds away. Between contractions I focused on slow deep breathing and relaxing all my muscles. They tried putting an IV in my arm, but they were only successful in making a bruise 3.5" long since they couldn't find a vein, so they resorted to a vein in my hand instead and began pumping fluids into me. I was grateful for this because my mouth was parched but I was too "in the zone" to ask for ice chips. I wondered at times if I was going to pass out because I felt so dehydrated and so in and out of everything. This is where my memory gets blurry, so the next few bits may not be in chronological order. I know at one point they wanted me to lie down on the bed but I shook my head No because that sounded a lot more painful than sitting up. They attached a squatting bar at the end of the bed which I tried using, but was too weak to support myself. I told them it was getting hard not to push with the contractions, as the urge was almost involuntary at this point. I consented to lie down so they could check me again and I was 9 cm "with just a little lip" which I assume meant "she's close enough". Finally the on-call doctor arrived, laid out an impressive spread of instruments beside her and told me I could push.

Pop! Pop! (No Fizz), Oh What A Relief It Is! "PushPushPushPushPush!" The nurse at my left ear seemed to take as few stops for breath as me during the pushing contractions. The other nurses kept saying what a great job I was doing, but I didn't really believe them -- again, this was something they say to all women in labor, right? Bryan's shoulder was readily available on my right side to collapse onto between contractions. He told me later he'd completely lost feeling in his hand from keeping counter-pressure on my back. "PushPushPushPushPush!" This is all still a blur in my memory. I recall parts of it, like the doctor saying James' heart rate was dropping too much so they put the OR on standby. But then, "baby must've heard that" because his heart rate jumped back up. I think they mentioned having the OR on standby to motivate me to better pushing, but at this point I was exhausted beyond belief and the OR sounded like a nice alternative. I felt like all my pushing was accomplishing zilch, but apparently he was close to delivery each time, but receded when the pushing contraction stopped. I heard something about a vacuum to help him out. Bryan later filled me in on the rest... the doctor used a handheld suction pump which she attached to James' head when it became visible to her. I pushed, she pulled, and Pop! the suction cup popped off and baby receded. Next contraction I pushed, she pulled, and Pop! the suction cup popped off again. Doctor said she could only try this one more time because three times was their limit on the vacuum device. This time I pushed, she pulled, and the head came out! Finally my pushing felt productive! The rest of his body followed quickly, and I never in my life knew true relief until that moment.

Rock Star Mom: It was 6:17 am, roughly an hour and a half since arriving at the hospital at 4:40. James was screaming right away, got a quick wipe down from the nurses, then held in front of me as Bryan cut the cord. The placenta came out, and I was still reeling from a strange combination of exhaustion, adrenaline, and relief when they handed me my crying baby boy. I learned later that here I missed the most special part of the morning -- Bryan said he started crying, too when he saw me holding James for the first time. I was just in awe that THIS is what had been inside me. I asked the doctor if I had torn, and she said I had a second degree tear that was long but not deep and she proceeded to stitch me up. Throughout the morning, three different nurses asked me at different times if we'd taken any childbirth classes like Lamaze, Bradley, etc. (we hadn't). One of them seemed satisfied when she learned I'd been doing yoga. Later one of the nurses told me I was "the rock star of the floor" because I had given birth without being induced or using any pain relievers. Pretty sure I was beaming after being told that. I had three incentives for wanting a natural childbirth: to save money, for optimal health benefits for baby & me, and to impress Bryan. Overall, labor and delivery was hard work, but not nearly as painful as I expected. At no point did I regret refusing the epidural, and at no point did I feel like the pain was beyond what I could endure. Even during the pushing, I kept expecting the pain to worsen but it never did. If I was the rock star mom, James was the rock star baby. 7 lb 4 oz, 20 inches long. Great complexion, no jaundice, a covering of dark hair on his head, and quick to learn the art of nursing even before the lactation consultant visited us. I saw his first dimpled smile while nursing at the hospital, and he actually started sleeping through the night regularly (6 hrs) before he was even a week old.

That's our story. I will definitely attempt a natural childbirth with future children, and there are two things that I advise my future self and other expecting moms to help facilitate that goal: 1) Stay active during pregnancy -- I was jogging 6-9 miles a week up until the eighth month and doing weekly aerobic yoga up to his birth.  2) Drink red raspberry leaf tea daily during the last trimester, supplementing with red raspberry leaf capsules at 36 weeks. Those are the two things I did that research suggests may ease the pain and shorten the labor. I was about to start taking evening primrose oil pills, but I only took one pill before he was born (two days prior, so I can't really say it contributed anything). Right now I'm REALLY enjoying not being pregnant anymore and falling in love with the new little man in my life. Good luck to all future mamas reading this! I hope your experience will be as positive and easy as my own!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Primigravida aka, Noob

At my very first prenatal appointment the clinic confirmed that those pee tests were not lying and I was indeed making a baby. "Since this is your first pregnancy, we refer to you as a primigravida." Basically, they were using a big word to call me a pregnant noob. Bryan and I are ready for this new chapter to begin. We have no fears or big anxieties about being parents or caring for a baby (thanks in large part to 18 nieces/nephews and my 7 months as a full-time nanny), but we cannot deny that we are, in fact, noobs.

Expectations: I always knew I'd have miserable pregnancies because my squeamish morning stomach has given me many episodes of "morning sickness" throughout my adult life. I was wrong. This pregnancy has been (surprisingly) very easy for me. I am currently in the third trimester at 7 months and have yet to encounter any of the usual pregnancy villains, ie: morning sickness, heartburn, constipation, crazy emotions, swollen extremities, or varicose veins. However, I did not escape some fatigue during the first tri (apparently making a placenta saps all your energy), and although my desire for sweets declined in those first weeks, I never got to experience any strong food cravings/aversions.

Milestones: Despite going to bed about an hour earlier every night, everything felt completely normal for the first several weeks. I kept up my regular jogging 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week and my regular weekly aerobic yoga class. At 10 weeks pregnant, certain twisting yoga moves made me aware of a small, immovable rock in my stomach, although no visible bump had yet emerged. At 12 weeks Bryan and I could see a little bump. At 13 weeks I ran the One Heart for Justice 5k. At 15 weeks the bump was visible to others, and a week later I adopted some alternate yoga moves because I could no longer lie flat on my stomach. Although my first ultrasound at 9 weeks showed the little guy heart-beating and limb-twitching like a pro, it wasn't until around 18 weeks that I began to feel the little flutters of his movement. Intermittent flutters quickly turned into regular full-on pokes. At 19 weeks--about 5 months--we had the big ultrasound...

Well, Hello there! This ultrasound was much more in-depth than the first one. At 9 wks he was just a vaguely baby-shaped blob. Now, just ten weeks later, the same technology showed distinct bones and features. We were impressed enough by that, but then the technician switched to 4D imaging and we were in awe. My bump was still not very big at this point, but that image showed an actual living, moving human being in there. We always knew there was a fetus in that bump, but now there was a face. A perfect little face on the monitor moving his arms and legs and even stretching his lips to grin at us. We told the technician we wanted her to seal the gender image in an envelope and not tell us what it said. We told her our plans to give the envelope to my sister who was planning a gender reveal baby shower for us. Our technician had the brilliant idea to prepare two envelopes--one that showed the baby's gender, and one that showed the baby's legs crossed where the gender was undetectable. Brilliant. We gave my sister the fake envelope first and let her suffer for a couple hours thinking that they could not determine a gender before giving her the real envelope. At the shower we found out it was a boy, and we announced that his name would be James Alan.

The Alien Inside: I kept trying to get Bryan to feel James kick, but the movements would stop anytime he placed a hand on the bump. Finally at 23 weeks Bryan felt the kicks. He immediately spoke of the movie Alien, saying he half expected something to tear out of my stomach like the alien did to Sigourney Weaver's character. About the same time we began to actually see the kicks, too. I try to play with James and poke back where he's poking me. These days he moves quite often sticking his bum up and stretching his legs out and somersaulting about. They're nice little reminders that he's doing ok in there.

Annoyances: Ever since my bump became visible, it has felt 10x bigger at night when I move from one side to another. I've been sleeping great except those moments when the chore of turning over the bump briefly wakes me up. I started having some back pain in the second tri despite my continued exercising, and my bladder might as well be as big as James'. I can't jog as fast or as far as I used to go. I have to sit down to put on shoes. In yoga my arms struggle to support my increasing body weight and my bump resists any twisting movements. I'm at or below average on all the weight gain charts, but I feel huge and I've already been asked if I'm sure it's not twins. Although I feel extremely blessed that these are the only things I can complain about so far, I fully expect these discomforts to continue getting worse as I progress. At just 7 months pregnant, I'm already ready to not be pregnant anymore. I can't wait to feel and move like my normal self again.  **Edit: 9 mos pregnant now, and thanks to a new memory foam mattress my back pain has improved and I'm still sleeping through the night! I stopped jogging in the 8th month when I began to feel pressure on my pelvic floor, but I can still do most of the moves in our weekly yoga class. My ankles finally began swelling just in the last few days before James was born.

Nursery: Who knew that preparing a room for a baby came with such high expectations? I blame Pinterest for making everyone (including myself) expect a complete HGTV-style room makeover full of unique and special ensembles and color schemes that would make any interior designer proud. I've heard of pregnant women experiencing "nesting urges" when they want to prepare their home with every possible practical comfort for the baby. I'm still waiting for those nesting urges to kick in. I managed to paint our nursery room a nice charcoal color, but that's it. The grand ideas in my head are quickly giving way to the cheaper, easier alternative of just keeping the existing wall art and window treatments. It's kind of a mess in there too, with a half-assembled crib, disassembled changing table, and a glider piled with baby gifts. But hey, we've still got about 13 weeks and that's plenty of time, right? Right??

Looking Ahead: Last week the hospital called to pre-register me for delivery. That was a shock. Surely they had me confused with one of those other Sara Andersons, because it was way too soon for them to be calling ME about that. I went home that day and watched several YouTube videos about labor and delivery. Then I got on the treadmill and jogged a while just to feel strong again. I'm not really nervous about childbirth because I know it's what my body is made to do and I know whatever happens, it will all be over in about 24 hours. (I'm more nervous about regaining my figure afterwards!) But like any sane woman, I just dread enduring those 24 or so hours. (And the following 2-6 weeks of postpartum downers.) I'm not opposed to using drugs or epidurals during childbirth, but I will try to deny them if I can. I just keep thinking about all the women in history--so many less fit in body and mind than me--that have had natural childbirths. Even our Lord's sweet young mother gave birth in a stable without any medication or even a midwife. (And I'm sure well-meaning Joseph was not much real help.) But I may warmly invite the wonders of modern medicine when I actually experience the pains of intense contractions first-hand. We'll see. I do know that when it's all over we're going to bring home a tiny person who looks a lot like Bryan and colors our lives with vibrant hues we never knew existed. In the words of C.S. Lewis, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Whitaker Point / Hawksbill Crag

When wanting to venture to the most iconic landmark of Arkansas, the internet is not altogether helpful. It's not all the internet's fault though, because the trail head location is remote and does not come with an address for Google maps. This blog post is intended to hopefully fill in the gaps for future internet-browsers seeking information & directions to this trail.

Hawksbill Crag is in Boxley, Arkansas, but according to Google maps Boxley, AR does not exist. You can instead find driving directions to Boxley Baptist Church (directions here). The suggested route may take Hwy 16, but you want to choose the alternate route that takes Hwy 412 east--412 is four lanes all the way to Huntsville, 16 is curvy and hilly. You can also get directions to Kingston or Ponca; both nearby towns recognized by GPS and weather.com. Watch the mileage between the turns and you'll have no problems. Google maps directions can only take you so far, though. You'll go from 412 E to Hwy 21 S towards Kingston. (The road takes a 90 degree turn at little Kingston square but the hwy is clearly marked.) Watch for the junction of Hwy 21 & Hwy 43 -- it's about 17 miles past the 412 turnoff. When you pass this junction, your next turn onto an unmarked dirt road is 1.2 miles away. Boxley Baptist Church is about 0.5 mile away. This unmarked dirt road is on the right, just before a bridge labeled Buffalo River. Literally the guard rails of the bridge begin next to this road. It's actually very easy to find!

Now you go up a steep dirt road for 6 miles to meet the trail head. Other sites advised a four wheel drive vehicle to get up this dirt road. I think that is definitely necessary if you are traveling when the roads are wet. However, we passed many makes/models of sedans going up and down the hill without problem. Lots of people do it without SUV's/trucks, but you'll probably still feel safer if you can take one. The road is very narrow, but all cars are able to slowly/barely pass each other on the road. Leave the stick shift at home because you'll peel out. Along the way you'll pass a small unmarked church/cemetery on the right side of the road. The trail head is 0.6 miles past this landmark. You'll also see a road sign that says something like "Whitaker Point Trail Head 300 feet". The "parking lot" in front of the trail's information board only accommodates about 6 cars. We went on a Saturday afternoon and cars were parked along the road and backed up about 500 feet before the trail head. The trail starts across the road from the information board. It is marked by a large rock honoring Sen. Dale Bumpers. Expect the entire trip from Fayetteville to Whitaker Point to take about 2 hours, maybe less.

The trail itself is easy/moderate hiking level. We saw several kids and seniors hiking without a problem, even a couple girls in flip-flops and fashion boots. That being said, you'll probably still get winded on the return trip when you're hiking uphill. Lots of rocks/roots so watch your step. The trail is easy to follow and has lots of side-trails taking you to lookout points closer to the bluff ledge. Yes, you're hiking on a bluff but it doesn't feel like it because there's always lots of trees & boulders between you and the dropoffs. Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail. It's only 1.5 miles to the crag itself. I read other sites saying there was a clearing nearby for picnics, but I didn't find it so we ate our snacks on the crag.

 This hike is a must for all able Arkansans! Enjoy!

Here Comes the Bump

It's probably important to note on this blog that Bryan and I are expecting our first child this spring 2013. Not much else to say at this point, but here are some pics for posterity showing how we broke the news:

And then we were three!
29:42 5k on October 6th at 13 weeks.
he's cutting the chip timer off my shoe--not bowing to my awesomeness

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Photo Scavenger Hunt in Scotland

Before leaving on our trip to Scotland to visit friends at the University of Glasgow, I asked my facebook friends to compile a photo scavenger hunt list for me. It was a varied list they produced, and I did my best to capture all the items during our Scotland travels. Unfortunately I couldn't get them all, but most were found and I had a blast doing it. Thanks to everyone who contributed! So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the finds of my photo scavenger hunt in Scotland:



"What Scared Me"

"Loch Ness"

"Bryan in a Kilt"

"Where I'd Stay Forever"

"Where I'd Never Return"



"Inspired Singing"






"Unusual Sign"

"Singing in the Rain Pose"

"American Flag"

"Purple Flower"


"Needs Bling"

"Something Plaid"

"Basketball Court"
(It's not Photoshop, just me holding a picture of Shane in front of the camera)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Those P:31 Girls

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her, --not to cheat at Monopoly
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. --Except that one day she accidentally shot a nail gun at his foot which was probably his fault anyway for standing so close...

13 She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship, --wait, is he calling her fat??
bringing her food from afar. --oh...
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. --Ahh, so that's the secret. God, if you want me to be a virtuous wife I'm going to need some servant girls, pronto. This is probably why we don't see any mention of the virtuous wife cleaning her house.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
with her earnings she plants a vineyard. --This girl is big on investments! When was the last time you bought something that could generate more income for you? Does a Mac and Adobe Suite count??
17 She is energetic and strong,
a hard worker. --"Energetic." Proof that the virtuous wife drinks coffee.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
her lamp burns late into the night. --Cutting coupons, no doubt.

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
her fingers twisting fiber. --crafty lady!
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
for everyone has warm clothes.

22 She makes her own bedspreads. --Note to self: make a bedspread.
She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. --Proof that God wants me to go shopping and buy pretty things! (It doesn't SAY that she spun & dyed the thread before hand-stitching the gown herself... she could've bought it!)
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
where he sits with the other civic leaders. --Is an awesome husband required to be a virtuous wife? I suppose she was first a virtuous girl with many offers of marriage who made a discerning decision. She don't want no scrubs.
24 She makes belted linen garments
and sashes to sell to the merchants. --Obviously a professional in her field. Probably sells on Etsy, too.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, --Where has all the dignity gone?
and she laughs without fear of the future. --Laughter required. Worrying banned.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness. --With kindness, not shouts, rolling eyes, and exasperated sighs.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
and suffers nothing from laziness. --Which reminds me of a project I need to finish...

28 Her children stand and bless her. --Do nieces/nephews count? Because those Borkert kids think I'm pretty cool.
Her husband praises her: --Bryan, are you getting this??
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; --and plastic surgery looks fake;
but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. --Reward her? Ok, Bryan, I like gift cards, shopping sprees, date nights, flowers, Bliss cupcakes...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snice Day

I woke up this morning at 5am to the tinkling of ice pellets outside. Though I'm notoriously not a morning person, I was coherent enough to reach for my phone and investigate school closings. No school. No work. I fell back asleep dreaming of what I'd do with my Snow/Ice Day...

Unfortunately I dreamed that I went into work anyways and got a few things done. That did not happen.

What did happen: I enjoyed a lazy morning. Ate a bagel, made coffee, lounged. At 9:30 it started really snowing and I went for a jog on the treadmill while watching reruns of America's Next Top Model. I ran longer than usual.

After jogging I got the bright idea to finally clean our oven. It's been a while since I've used a self-cleaning oven, and it quickly became apparent that this decision ranked up there with my neighbors' putting snowboobs on their snowman. Bad idea. Despite running all the vents and fans, the house was quickly filled with a smelly eye-burning fog. Bryan suggested that instead of canceling the cleaning, we could just shut ourselves inside the fume-free office and wait it out. Oh, and to complete the plan of course we would have to turn off the heat and open windows to vent the rest of the house. It made sense.

So that's why we have a 2" drift on our windowsill and some accumulating flurries in front of the screen door.

We've been well-entertained in the office though. Bryan is content with his MMO game and SportsCenter, and I have everything I need: a computer, a novel, and a phone with a charger. Add some Mt Dew and Sunchips and it's really not so bad. However, with 30 min left in the 4 hour cleaning cycle, even the office is starting to get cold now. But it will all be worth it when I'm not blasted with smoke the next time I take a pizza out of the oven. Surely...

With our quarantine almost over, I'm looking forward to rewarding my 2.5 miles this morning with some chili mac tonight. And thanks to the past few hours I'm almost halfway through Emma; so altogether it's looking to be a very snice day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Don't Follow the Rabbit Trails

A phrase I love: There, but for the grace of God, go I. What an awesome, humbling statement to remember when looking on those who are lost, struggling, or less fortunate.

I saw an older mother/daughter couple in a clothing store the other day debating which top looked better. The green one or the tunic? And it made me hope that someday I'll have a daughter who loves shopping as much as me. We can furrow our brows in the fitting room together trying to decide which top has the better cuteness/value ratio...

I don't care what anybody says about technology making us less social. I am a MUCH more social person since I joined facebook six years ago. All those little status updates are an outlet for my wonderful one-liners (at least I think they're wonderful), and I get the luxury of writing a first draft, editing, and rewriting every comment before it is "out there"--a gift not given in verbal communication. On facebook I can be brave when otherwise I would be silent. Bryan said that channel 40/29 did a special on how technology harms relationships, and by their standards I have "a problem." Well... 40/29 anchors can't read a teleprompter (have you ever watched the morning news???) so I'm not going to let them judge my technology involvement. Facebook made me a better person.

So who's going to see The Social Network now that it won the Golden Globe for best picture? Put me on that list. Maybe. It's so hard to set aside time to watch movies. But hey, look at that, American Idol is on tonight. Maybe I'll tune in to see their strategy for jumping off the borderline of cancellation.

And who knew the Syfy channel could provide an evening of guilty entertainment? Oh, it must be SO HARD living as a vampire/werewolf/ghost in this modern society! I feel your pain and it makes me giggle...

There. Now I've said too much.