Sunday, October 16, 2016

We escaped! (and oh hi, I'm back!)

Hi! After nearly a three year hiatus I'm finally getting around to some writing again. I definitely imagined writing more and always thought I'd slowly shift over to blogging about being a mom, but in the end time and brain space and passion just didn't quite align. Our love of travel is still just as strong as always and traveling with our kids is something we look forward to doing more and more, so it's time to start recapping trips and sharing stories again.

Last month I flew up to Seattle for 26 hours. With two small children getting away by myself has been tricky but thanks to Mark's flexible schedule I was able to pull of flying up for a friend's birthday party. His genius wife booked us one of the puzzle/escape rooms and I did not want to miss out! Poor Mark didn't get to join but he was great sport and next time he should be able to come too.

Prior to this night, I had only ever heard of escape rooms from the episode of the Big Bang Theory when the zombie tells the group "no refund for escaping early." However, the premise of a bunch of my favorite people put together in a themed room to solve a variety of puzzles had me thinking why didn't I come up with this business? And is there a such thing as a season pass?

After watching an episode of Race to Escape to get in the right mindset, we headed through traffic to Capitol Hill. Our event was at Puzzle Break and although we have no other escape rooms to compare to, we thought the moderators did a fabulous job.

At the briefing we were encouraged to work together, communicate, and have fun. As a group of friends we've been together for nearly 15 years and most of us learned to work together in student leadership long before we had things like careers and kids. Needless to say we felt confident that teamwork wasn't going to be our downfall. The moderator's spiel was hilarious yet informative and set us all in the mood to feel clever.

The room itself was brilliantly yet simply themed and we immediately got to work. Once the door shut we had 60 minutes to solve enough puzzles to find the key to escape. There were more than enough challenging puzzles and objects to work with for our group of 12 and we all had something in the room that needed a different type of brain to solve. It was fast paced but did not feel stressful. A few times the moderators gave us some simple hints such as "you have all the information you need" or "there is nothing else in that box" but they later told us that relative to most groups we had very little moderator help.

We escaped the room in 56:32 and felt extremely proud of ourselves. Apparently less than 14% of the groups escape so that statistic only added to our collective ego. It was a dream to work so seamlessly with friends who are used to getting shit done. We all agreed that it would have been much harder and less fun to work with strangers. And while it definitely would make an awesome team building experience, having a wide variety of professions and fields of study between us was certainly one thing that made our group especially strong.

We're already dreaming of our next escape room and considering some of the other companies out there as well as returning to Puzzle Break. Have you ever done an escape room? Did you love it as much as I did?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Allison Rae Lingwood

Allison Rae arrived at 12:10pm, Tuesday, October 8, 2013. She was 8lbs, 6oz and 20.5inches. All birth stories are both beautiful and traumatic, and ours is no exception.

At 12:45am Sunday night/Monday morning I woke up to use the bathroom, annoyed but not surprised that I woke up just an hour or so after going to bed. On my way back to bed, my water broke. At this point, I was not experiencing any contractions at all. However, I had tested positive for group B strep (GBS positive) and so I knew that once my water broke, I needed to head to the hospital. I woke Mark up and told him my water broke and so let's go!

Since we knew labor and delivery would tell us to come in ASAP, we scurried around packing the few last minute items into the bag. I brushed my teeth and hair, changed clothes, and felt ready to go despite no contractions. I called L&D and apparently sounded too calm and not quite convincing enough in my description of my water breaking, so they told me to lay down for 30 minutes and then call back. I did as told, despite being fully dressed and wide awake. During this time, a few contractions started and they were all in my lower back, way different than any of the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing so far (which were all in my gut/stomach.) A little after the 30 minute Mark, I made Mark call L&D for me and they agreed it was time to come in. We called our families, said goodbye to the furbabies and headed to the hospital. It was about 2:00am on Monday morning.

The drive to the hospital was eerily peaceful, nothing like the drive I had imagined. My birth plan involved laboring at home as long as possible so I had imagined having a lot of contractions during the drive. Instead I was relatively comfortable (though nervous and at 41weeks pregnant comfortable isn't exactly the right word) and the roads were empty.

We checked into triage and the nurse wasn't completely convinced my water had broken, which I found silly because I knew beyond a doubt that it was my water breaking and not 41week incontinence. Also I was only 2.5cm dilated which, though normal, wasn't all that much. Finally her supervisor (doctor? OB? nurse?) checked my fluid under the microscope and guess what, it was amniotic fluid! Hooray, they said! You're in labor! All I could think was that this is what I had been telling them for the last two hours.

My contractions slowly started during this time. They were really intense and all in my lower back but pretty manageable. We moved into our L&D room and all I could think was that this is where my baby is going to be born! And soon! This was around 3:00am.

And so the labor dance began. Or, tried to begin. First up was my IV and first dose of antibiotics (because I was GBS+.) Getting the IV in didn't hurt all that bad but once the IV started it burned like hell and sent shooting pains to my bones from my wrist to my shoulder. This lasted for over an hour and would repeat every 4th hour for the duration of my labor (so 1-1.5 hours of extreme pain, 2.5-3 hours off.)

We also needed to check on the baby! I got strapped up to the fetal monitor and the plan was intermittent monitoring. However, she was already de-celling (heart rate dropping during contractions) which while normal was still a concern. Seriously only in the world of pregnancy/L&D is "normal" and "a concern" the same thing. It was also hard to keep the monitor on while moving through contractions, and every time it shifted or the baby shifted a nurse would come running in to adjust it. Every adjustment meant not being able to move through a contraction or get comfortable in between.

My contractions picked up pretty quickly on their own. I was managing them with Mark's help and no drugs. The IV severely limited my ability to use certain positions that relieve back labor pain, and the near-constant fetal monitoring and seemingly constant IV hook up really limited my ability to get in the zone. I was able to use the shower for a lot of relief and I remember standing in the shower, breathing and counting tiles, but I could only do that when there was no anitibiotic drip and no fetal monitoring. I have no idea how long I did that but I know I was in and out of the shower several times. At one point before noon my contractions were 3 minutes or less apart and lasting for a minute or more. Starting pretty early on I began to have the shakes, which again we were told was normal but they made it even harder for me to get comfortable or relax in between contractions. I thought I was nearing transition based on the amount of pain I was in and the frequency and duration of my contractions.

As the afternoon wore on though, I got more and more tired. My feet were killing me from standing or squatting and shaking for nearly 12+ hours while 41 weeks pregnant and I was completely exhausted from laboring, not to mention from only getting an hour of sleep. The contractions were nothing like I imagined. They were shooting intense pain through my lower back and it felt like nothing I did could get me through them. I was so uncomfortable with the monitor and IV that I couldn't get any relief or rest in between contractions. I began to despair and cry and tell Mark how tired I was. We talked about just taking it one more contraction and how we knew I would reach a point where I felt like I couldn't do it, but that I needed to remind myself that I was ALREADY DOING IT. Mark was amazing. The nurses started offering me drugs and reminding me to consider my options and asking if they could check me. At this point I was thinking in the back of my mind that this was probably transition-- that point when I would want to give up but really I was so close!

Sometime in the early afternoon I also realized I was starving so we begged for food, and I got to eat a few small bites of fruit and some cottage cheese. I was shaking so bad Mark had to help me eat. But the food didn't help, and the contractions kept coming and became more and more unbearable.

For some reason my contractions were slowing down, not speeding up, so finally, around 4:30pm on Monday, I agreed to be checked.  I was only 3cm. I had labored for 16 hours with no meds and severe back labor... only to progress a half of a centimeter. This news broke me. I completely lost all ability to do anything, and I just sobbed and sobbed. I didn't think I could make it through any more contractions (though they kept coming hard and strong) and I felt like a total failure because I knew the only way this could end was with an epidural and likely a C-section.

I calmed down enough to listen to the nurses talk to me about next steps. Since my contractions were slowing and I had already been laboring for so long, they wanted to start me on some pitocin. Somewhere in my head I knew I did not want pitocin but all I could think was how badly the IV would hurt. Finally I realized that I was not going to get this baby out without help, and that I badly needed the epidural. But I was terrified of the epidural and more specifically, afraid of the layering of interventions that I knew could happen once we started down that path. However, I also knew that the best choice for my baby and my body at this point was something to give me some physical relief and also speed up the contractions. So I opted for the epidural (in between sobs and tears and more contractions.)

The lady who put my epidural in did a great job. It didn't hurt at all and the nurse and Mark helped me through the few contractions that I had to hold completely still for. I hung on to both of them and held eye contact with Mark. Once the epidural was in (6:00? 6:30?) they got me situated in bed, hooked up IV fluids and a pitocin drip, blood pressure monitor, fetal monitor, and a catheter (seriously every 41week pregnant woman's dream) and I tried to calm down. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath and my heart was racing and that statement to the nurse earned me another monitor to check on my pulse and O2 saturation.

So I laid in the hospital bed, with an IV with 3 different bags (fluids, antibiotics, and pitocin), a fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, O2 monitor on my finger, and a cath. It was everything I didn't think I wanted... but I was finally able to relax. The nurses were able to dilute the antibiotic and use ice packs on my arm, and so I began to doze off. I got woken up every 15min with the blood pressure cuff going off and had to battle the shooting pain from wrist to my shoulder because the epidural did not numb that area. But I was no longer feeling any contractions at all and it was wonderful. I also had an amazing push button for more relief when I needed it.

Throughout the night the nurses kept adjusting my pitocin. Around midnight they checked me and I was about 5cm. We passed the 24 hour mark but nobody was concerned about that. Sometime early that morning they checked me again and I was still only 5cm. After that check, Mark and I were both convinced that the doctors would be antsy and call the c-section, but none of the staff were concerned and they just said we needed to keep upping the pitocin. The baby was doing alright during the contractions and my blood pressure was great, so we just needed to wait it out.

At 8am, I finally measured 10cm!!! I was thrilled and I had to laugh that I progressed from 3cm to 10cm in less than 12 hours while dozing on and off. However, the baby hadn't decended quite enough and so the midwife suggested that I labor down for a few hours. They adjusted the bed and left me to hang out wondering when I would be pushing?

At 10am they checked again and I had made more progress, laboring down had worked really well. They decided I would start pushing at 11am. This was really odd to me because it seemed so arbitrary. However, by 11am I was actually feeling the urge to push through the epidural.

At 11am the midwife and nurse got all set up to have me push. I initiated almost all of the pushes based on how I felt. I made a lot of progress fast! I got to reach down and feel her head as it was coming out and that was all I needed to keep going. I did, however, decline the mirror as I just didn't think seeing would help me any. All in all, the pushing wasn't that painful for me. Mark and the nurse and midwife were great support for me and while it was definitely hard work, it was nothing compared to the IV pain or the contractions.

Around 12:00 several people came into the room, including the OB. I knew that something must be wrong. The midwife told me that the baby had been crowning for a dangerously long amount of time, and that I might need an episiotomy. With that threat I pushed with ALL I had to get the baby out without any extra cuts, and she came out!

At 12:10pm October 8, nearly 36 hours after my water broke, Allison Rae Lingwood was born. She was put straight on my chest where she laid while she was dried off. It was the most amazing moment of my life. She was breathing right away and within moments she was wailing. She also clung onto Mark's fingers. Mark cut the cord.

I started to have a few contractions and I tried to push out the placenta, but nothing was happening. They gave me extra pitocin, and nothing happened. The midwife called the team of extra people back in and through the fog of falling in love with my baby, people explained to me that my placenta was being stubborn and it wasn't coming out. They were going to need to remove it, and did I want them to do that now or did I want more anesthesia first? Well the more anesthesia option involved them taking Allison from me and that was not going to happen. So the OB manually removed the placenta with her hand, which was in a few pieces, and then had to scrape out my uterus to make sure no pieces were left, and then check me with an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok. Luckily during this whole time I had Allison on my chest and Mark at my side. All I can say is I don't wish a retained placenta on anyone. Then they had to stitch me up because I had several 2nd degree tears.

After everything calmed down we were left to get to know our brand new little baby. She was weighed and measured (8lbs6oz, 20.5inches) and then she had to be taken away to have bloodwork done to culture for bacteria. At this time they told me that I had been running a fever as well. Due to so many risk factors (GBS+, 36 hour labor post water breaking, fever during labor, retained placenta), we would have to stay in the hospital at least an extra day and I'd have to keep the IV lock in my wrist for 24 hours.

We were able to have my parents, Mark's mom, and Mark's sister all come meet Allison within a few hours after she was born. Shortly after we moved to our recovery room and began the next part of our journey. We came home on Thursday afternoon and were fortunate to have family help us for the first two weeks. The recovery was hard and I had to stay off my feet and could barely sit, but it was way easier than labor and in a lot of ways, I felt way better than I did while pregnant.

Looking back at my birth story, I don't have any regrets. I thought I might feel sad about getting the epidural or spending so much time in the hospital, but I don't. I think I had an absolute best-case scenario for the epidural/pitocin combo as my body and my baby responded so well to both of them. And she is such an amazing baby!

Isn't she lovely?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Baby Awesome's Nursery

We finally finished the nursery! 

Love the decals on the walls! So much easier than painting. 
Dresser/changing table

Awesome night light can be all different colors!

The swing will probably work its way into the living room but for now it works here. 

Mark built those shelves (and my mom helped sand/paint) so we could maximize the closet storage. 

Can't beat the Ikea Billy bookcases! Love how this little nook turned out. For now it has a mix of keepsakes and books but you know it won't be long before it's just books! 

So there you have it-- our finished nursery. I can't believe it got done in time. Now all we need is a baby to put in it! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hopes for my daughter

There are a lot of things floating around the great Interwebz about the hopes and dreams new parents have for their children, and specifically for their daughters. For example, many times Mark and I hear well meaning people talk about how they will never let their daughter date or drive or move out until she's 30. I realize these are buried deep in a field of protectiveness and love and are, for the most part, relatively innocent hyperbolic statements. But as I rapidly approach the "any day now" phase of my pregnancy, and contemplate not just being pregnant or having the baby but actually beginning to raise a daughter, I've compiled my own list of hopes and dreams for my little baby awesome.

I hope she fails. I want her to fall hard because I want her to her to know how to get back up and smile and ask, "what's next?" instead of flailing around wallowing in her failure.

I hope she is good at lot of things, but terrible at some things. I hope she has ample opportunity to learn that hard work trumps raw talent.

I hope that she talks back and questions decisions and asks "why" and that when she does, I have the strength to answer "I don't know" and the wisdom to help her ask better questions.

I hope she has friends, and dates people she's interested in, and maybe dates some people she's not so interested in, and learns that the people we let into our lives are the most valuable thing we have.

I hope she gets her heart broken, so that she can learn the incredible strength and fragility of the organ that loves. And because someday someone will say to her "my heart is broken" and she needs to able to say back "I know how it feels." And mean it.

I hope she finds a forever love. I hope that love is her best friend and someone she can play with, and laugh with, and cry with, and that its someone who brings out her best self.

I hope she scrapes her knees and gets a wicked sunburn and eats too much candy.

I hope she learns to listen to others with her whole heart, and that when they offer to listen to her, she isn't afraid to share.

I hope she dresses however she damn well pleases, and that whatever she dons she does it on her own fruition and based on how she chooses to present herself, and not the ideals of others.

I hope, I hope, I hope...

I hope the world is ready for her.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One Year Later

It's been a big year for us, professionally, personally, and on the house front. We've put in time, money, blood, sweat, tears, and most of all love. August 1 was our one year anniversary of living in our new house. While we're not quite "done" with the fixing up, we're sure a lot closer than when we begun. Here's the comprehensive list:


  • weeded and kept the overgrowth at bay until we could start the landscaping
  • replaced front retaining wall
  • installed water pressure regulator at house main
  • replaced original clay pipe sewer line
  • repaired part of the foundation
  • removed giant hedge
  • installed new fencing
  • installed french drain system 
    • STILL TO DO: finish landscaping (project currently underway)
  • built "cattery" cat enclosure for cat boxes
  • installed new garage door opener
  • started assembling storage shelves
    • STILL TO DO: Finish sorting/organizing all of our stuff, replace dryer vent
  • built storage platform supports
  • built catwalk areas to access all parts of attic
  • blew in insulation
    • STILL TO DO: Finish building storage platforms by installing plywood 
  • replaced AC and Furnace units
  • repaired and refinished original hardwood floors
  • repaired cracked and damaged drywall
  • painted all surfaces including trim, baseboards, and crown moulding
  • ordered new blinds
    • STILL TO DO: install new blinds, paint ceiling, replace thermostat
  • repaired chimney and installed gas fireplace insert
    • STILL TO DO: solve sound system issues, replace sliding glass door
  • complete gut and remodel
    • STILL TO DO: paint baseboard trim, repaint trim around pantry, repair grout in one small spot
  • besides paint/floor refinishing, bedrooms didn't need much work! Whew!
    • STILL TO DO: replace fan switch in office, build shelves in nursery closet
  • installed new medicine cabinet in family bath
  • scrubbed decades of grime off master bath
    • STILL TO DO: "simple" refreshes-- drywall repair, new paint, new hardware

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Kitchen

Oh yeah, we remodeled our kitchen! Here's the recap in pictures.

Before we moved in. Dang, I forgot how ugly that brown was. 

New refrigerator -- Had to saw off some of the uppers for it to fit! 

Demo begins (hint: it was LOUD!)

Temporary kitchen set up

Empty space

Ewww asbestos. Set back 2 days and more money. 

Painting done(ish) and Kristen is not amused. 

Woah cabinets are going in!

Jenny approves. 

Cabinets and floor, waiting for counters and appliances


Finally done!

Acres of counter space

Window seat 

Hmm still need a new dining table...

Sink area

Dream kitchen!

Looking back, it's easy to say "it was easy". All in all, it took about 14 weeks start to finish, but only about 6 of those weeks were active construction. Even then, during those 6 weeks we had several days of waiting times where we were simply waiting for something to be made, ordered, cut, or fixed. All of the design was our own. We went exclusively through Lowes, who had subcontractors for each of the various kitchen tasks. Now that it's done, it is definitely our favorite improvement to the house!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Go home, biology, you're drunk.

Let's talk about pregnancy.

For realz.

As of my last post, I quite foolishly thought I was well past the plague known as the first trimester. We didn't know the gender yet and I was ignorantly thinking that the rest of my pregnancy would be smooth sailing. I also thought I was HUGE. Ha.

Well. At least I was optimistic?

Let's start with the good things. Our growing baby is healthy, awesome, and did I say healthy? Also, she's a SHE! (Sorry to all those who voted for velociraptor: her skeletal structure is decidedly human.) I have also been given a clean bill of health, and been told that I am healthy, and awesome. So there's that. With me and the baby fitting some supposed "normal" bell curve of health and all screenings and tests coming back peachy-normal-keen, I've been left to face the reality that it is normal and healthy to feel like I have the plague. Yay... normal...

There really are some awesome things about being pregnant. It is mostly an automated system, so even when I feel like crap I am reassured that by body knows what it's doing and the baby is growing. I'm feeling her kick a lot which is really an amazing feeling. And knowing that both me and the baby are healthy is more than I could hope for. I don't love being pregnant, but I love knowing I have my own little bundle of awesome growing and in a few more months she'll take the world by storm.

But let's get real. I mean, really real. Let's talk about the most biologically unhelpful side effects of pregnancy so far. While my body may know what it's doing, I'm pretty sure biology was drunk when thinking of "side effects of pregnancy."

1) Exhaustion. While it is totally logical that a woman who is growing an entire human being (not to mention a uteran-house for it to grow safely in and giant soul sucking placenta to feed it) from scratch should be exhausted... well biology that is very unhelpful. A newly pregnant woman has the biggest secret of her life to keep, a physical home in the outside world to make ready for the newbie she's making, and a husband to coach through the emotional shock of a well thought out and planned for event coming to pass.

2) Nausea. At a time when nutrition is most critical, let's make the mother so physically sick to her stomach that donuts, white bread, and chocolate are the only things that sound remotely appetizing. Then let's have her barf those up because probably she shouldn't have that many calories while making a person. Not helpful, biology... not helpful.

3) Heartburn. Burning hell fire heartburn from Hades. I'm not really sure what biology was thinking when it thought "Hey, let's give an exhausted, nauseous woman heartburn so bad that she can't lay down for a good night's sleep. Oh and as extra bonus, let's make her gag on antacids!" Again with the unhelpful!

4) Really efficient, squished bladder. Ok, I get it, the growing baby and accessories have to go somewhere... but did it have to be right on top of the bladder (which by the way is now working overtime thanks to the suddenly highly efficient kidneys?) I'm pretty sure biology thought "we better find a way to get momma to wake up in the middle of the night, otherwise she might recover from being exhausted."

5) Rampant emotions. How, HOW is it helpful to have the same hormones that cause the mama to be ferociously bonded and protective of her new little one be the ones that cause tears to fall over Subaru commercials, irate behavior over dirty dishes, and irrational middle of the night worry sessions? Just when we need her to be calm, cool, and collected she's suddenly irrational, hysterical, and let's face it down right batty.

6) Excessive histamines. Just in case the heartburn, and nausea, senseless worry, and peeing weren't keeping the mother up all night, biology thought to throw in a extra dose of histamines that will cause chronic coughing, itchy eyes, and runny nose. OH! And biology remembered to make her take prescriptions to combat these symptoms, but to have those prescriptions cause side effects like dry mouth which will compound the nausea. Congratulations on being completely unhelpful, biology.

7) Migraines. It is going to take every last ounce of effort the mother has to cope with the aforementioned side effects of pregnancy. But biology wanted to throw in an extra hurdle for those over-achievers out there and make migraines hit in full force at a time when the mother is not allowed much in the way of pain relievers.

Go home, biology. You're drunk.