I Had A Car Baby and It Was Awesome

I’ve put off writing this post because, well, having two children whose collective ages are less than four does something magical to the number of hours in a day. Having said that though, it’s still so. much. easier. adjusting to life with a second little one than it was the first time around. People told me it would be easier because I’d just be more chill the second time around as I adamantly asserted my chillness. As it turns out, it’s much easier to stop worrying when you’ve somewhat successfully raised a sometimes pleasant human being into toddlerhood. I don’t worry about sleep schedules or forming bad habits, I don’t worry too much about her not wanting to take a bottle, I know she’ll be mostly okay after sucking on a toy that’s been on the floor in the corner where we rarely vacuum. I try my best, and it’s worked with the older one so she will probably be fine.

On the morning of my daughter’s birth I awoke to the familiar bizarre feeling of my water breaking. A weird popping sensation brought me out of a deep sleep at 3am with a gasp, and I sat up and waited for some feeling of wetness. It never came, so I got out of bed to try and further assess the situation. Try as I might, no fluid came leaking out of me and no contractions had started yet, so I thought maybe I had dreamed of the popping sensation. I got back into bed as my husband woke up and asked me if he should get the bags ready. I figured we should probably wait until I experienced an actual contraction before packing up the one single outfit that still fit my hugely rotund and swollen body.

Then at exactly 3:30am, I experienced my first contraction. Matt got up and started getting things ready as I tried to rest as much as possible before the real work started. Unfortunately for me, being in any position besides standing was always extremely uncomfortable during labor. I had studied laboring positions so hard, thinking I could try so many things to help me get through it while possibly retaining some energy for the pushing stage. But alas, laying down, leaning over something, hands and knees, all brought on the contractions in a way that made me want to tear my eyeballs out. So I stood up and swayed through the contractions, making low sounds and breathing deeply, focusing on letting my body do its thing. I watched a ton of videos about what the uterus actually does during a contraction so that I could visualize what was actually going on this time, instead of freaking out thinking my body was being ripped in half or that the pain was giving me brain damage (again, observe my chillness).

About 45 minutes after the first contraction, I thought maybe we should call someone to come watch our almost 3 year old. We had told my brother to be on standby just in case, but I didn’t want to make him come so early and then be late for work. I put it off thinking we probably still had lots of time. I called my midwives to let them know that I thought my water broke, but that there’d still been no fluid and I could speak through my contractions. They insisted I come in right away, and I brushed it off, again thinking I had another 6+ hours to go. Shortly after that, I called my brother to come down. Just in case. I just wanted him here with our son to make me feel better. I told him to take his time, take a shower, etc. and thankfully he rushed over anyway.

At 5:30am, a mere two hours after labor really started, Matt called our doula to let her know that I was still managing really well, but that she should maybe get ready to come to our house in the next couple of hours. Shortly after they hung up the phone, I had one single contraction that I could not stay on top of. My mom had texted me to remember to “stay on top of the waves” as a coping visualization, which I had ignored initially thinking that hadn’t helped me with my first labor so why try it now. But as the contractions jumped around, getting easier, then more intense, two minutes apart and then seven minutes apart, I did use it a lot. Neither of my labors ever followed any kind of pattern so following the 5-1-1 rule or whatever the birth class instructor had told us was entirely useless. Some were spaced out a lot and some were close together, and they all lasted from twenty seconds to two minutes. No pattern whatsoever.

So after that ONE contraction wherein I shrieked like a banshee, unable to cope with the intensity, I said “we need to go NOW”. My brother had already arrived and was comfy on the couch. Very shortly after THE contraction (I later realized this single contraction was my transition, where my cervix suddenly was fully dilated and my baby dropped into my pelvis) I had another contraction where my body was pushing HARD, without any conscious effort on my part. It felt like when you have to throw up, and your diaphragm just sort of contracts without permission, no matter how inconveniently located you are. Matt called the doula again letting her know that we thought I might be getting “pushy”.

She calmly and sternly told Matt, “go turn on the car and turn the heat up as much as possible. Grab some clean towels. I’ll meet you at the hospital”. At this point I should have realized that we probably wouldn’t make it to the birth center at our designated hospital, but in my mind I still had some control over things, as the first pushing contraction wasn’t all that intense. I was sweating bullets at this point (also similar to when you’re throwing up and feel like total shit as your body does a bunch of work for you) and told Matt, “don’t you DARE turn the heat on in that car”. We stepped outside into the chilly 38 degree morning and I had one more “normal” contraction in our front yard while holding on to Matt. We approached the car and I waved wearily to my brother, since I didn’t have the energy to smile or speak anymore.

As I got to the curb where my car was parked, I had another contraction and grabbed onto the roof of my car as my body pushed a thousand times harder than before. I felt my baby RIGHT THERE and somewhat panicked, asked my doula (still on speakerphone) if we needed to call an ambulance. It was then that I realized finally that we would either have this baby on the sidewalk in front of our house, or in the car. Ali was amazingly calm and told me that it was up to me. “You can call an ambulance if you want to, but you can do this” she told me. She asked if I could feel how far in my baby was, and though I didn’t have the energy to tell her, I could feel her head less than an inch away from being born. I had listened to a couple of birth stories where women accidentally gave birth at home and then called an ambulance to transport them to the hospital, and all of them expressed sadness and frustration over how “emergent” the situation became once the EMTs showed up. They’re trained for emergencies, and that’s great, but my last labor was treated as such, and things quickly spiraled out of control unnecessarily. I didn’t want them to put an oxygen mask on me, or take my baby from me for any reason. Also, I thought, “I really don’t want to pay for an ambulance”.

On the other hand, I really didn’t want to give birth on our sidewalk, where homeless people sometimes hang out, and people occasionally let their dogs poop. And I didn’t want to go back in the house and risk waking up our son, because we really didn’t talk about birth in detail and he definitely was not prepared to see his mom making animal noises with the addition of blood and body fluid that accompanies babies as they are born.

It took ALL of my willpower to bend over (recall that anything other than standing was like stabbing me in the abdomen) and put one knee up on the front passenger seat of the CR-V, with my other leg stretched out behind me towards the front of the car. Matt drove 115 miles per hour with his head out the window, since we didn’t have time to melt the ICE FROM OUR WINDSHIELD (the ONE day out of the entire year it was cold enough to form ice). Once I came to terms with the fact that our baby was going to be born in the car, I was calm. As my body pushed without my permission and I made sounds like a wild animal (also without my permission), I remembered all of the YouTube videos I had somewhat obsessively watched, of women giving birth in the car. The baby would come out, and they would just hold them on their chest in shock, and keep baby warm until they got to the hospital. They were all fine, and I truly knew we were fine. I kept repeating between contractions “I can’t believe this is happening right now”. Alas, we were not destined to become a YouTube sensation since no one was in the frame of mind to start filming anything at all.

As the car stopped in front of the hospital doors, our doula told Matt to run inside to the front desk and tell them his wife was giving birth in the car. He later told me he got some dirty looks as he jumped in front of a few people waiting to speak with the receptionist. They of course were understanding once he got the words out, and the receptionist called a “code pink”.

Meanwhile back in the car, I was telling Ali how much burning I was feeling, which I also knew was normal since I’d listened to hours and hours of birth stories. For my first labor I was totally numb, so I never felt what the fetal ejection reflex was like, nor any of the intensity of my baby actually coming out.

When Matt got back to the car and opened the door, I told him, “her head is out”. I think he thought I didn’t know what I was talking about, but when he pulled down my sweatpants and saw her head completely facing him, he said “oh my gosh” as he grabbed the towels our doula had so smartly told him to bring. I had one more contraction and she slipped out into the towels in Matt’s hands. Right then, a huge team of medical people and our midwife came running out. Matt confusedly handed our daughter to the midwife, as I tried to look over my shoulder at my baby, who started to cry with her teeny little voice. I said “can I hold her?” and the midwife asked me if they could cut the cord.

Now, last time, I had zero control over anything to do with my son’s birth. People told me when to push, they gave me medication I expressly told them I did not want, and the whole ordeal was infuriating as I was treated like I had no idea what was good for me or my child. So, since the midwife was asking, I said “no, can we just wait?” and she obliged me, as she helped me turn around and untangle the baby’s cord, still attached to me in the freezing cold morning. Some guy came into the driver’s seat and suddenly insisted on putting an oxygen tube on me, and taped something to my finger. I told him I was fine but he pushed it anyway. Seconds later, my doula came into the car, rolling her eyes and pulled everything back off. Whatever, he did what he was trained to do. Thanks and good job, oxygen guy.

My shoes and pants were pulled off, and the midwife held my baby in warm blankets as I hobbled half-naked to the gurney waiting for us a few paces away. They piled more warm blankets on both of us as I held her close and looked at her sweet tiny little face. A doctor came and asked (asked!) if he could check her breathing and heartbeat before we went further. He quickly pronounced that she was perfect, and we were rolled inside, as the crowd of medical staff applauded for us.

I totally love attention (just being honest), so walking around half naked in front of thirty people to get a round of applause was fine with me. Plus my endorphins were surging, so the whole day of my daughter’s birth was one of the best days of my life. Not only was my entire labor completed in just under three hours, but I got the unmedicated labor I wanted, and the unassisted birthing experience I craved but was too nervous to attempt. My baby was amazingly healthy, and we were all suddenly here, only minimally worse for the wear.

So there you have it. Plenty of people have told me that having a car baby is their worst fear. I definitely understand how having an unmedicated birth when you expected a calm epidural experience could be scary and perhaps traumatizing, but if you find yourself in that situation, just know it will most likely be completely okay. I had a car baby and it was awesome.

Womyn Wednesdays: Sandra Tursi

I’ve been wanting to do this series for a while now, to have the opportunity to speak with other women about what they do (for fun, for work, etc.) and to touch on challenges they face in their careers. I had been thinking about all of the interesting women I know, and how great it would be to be able to delve further into these women’s lives. In this series, these women can share about their current lives, careers, and adventures, and share advice with other women out there, who might be interested in following the same path.

My first guest is beautiful and hilarious, and we had the best time talking, as two creatives who’ve worked together (and been friends for sixteen years)! She runs an independent Graphic Design Studio called InBetween Studio, and her blog can be found here. You can also find her on Instagram @Inbetween_Studio and @smtursi.

 

Without further ado, here is our interview…

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1) Please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you do with your days.

My name is Sandra Tursi, and I am a Graphic Designer. I start my day by going to the gym, and then spend about an hour getting inspired by looking at other peoples’ images, reading editorials, and getting updates on what other freelancers are working on. Some days this really motivates me, and others it puts me in a foul mood. I tend to be hard on myself when I see how creative my peers are, but I try to use it as inspiration for what I would like to work on myself.

 

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2) What are you currently working on?

Lately I’ve been wanting to get back to my roots and start making things. Recently, I’ve been designing some wedding invitations for a friend, and I had to send them out to a letterpress to be printed. I might buy myself a tabletop letterpress to work with, because I love being able to go from start to finish — to design something and then print it myself, and see the finished product — it’s very satisfying for me. I am obsessed with the tactile sense of working with paper. I love the feeling of a paper product, as opposed to only working with digital images and layouts. Plus, I’m always nervous about sending stuff to other vendors. I worry that things won’t turn out the way I envision them.

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3) How did you get started in Graphic Design?

It’s kind of a funny story. In my first year of college, I did a lot of science courses because I was good at it in High School. I thought about maybe becoming a Dermatologist or something, but I spoke to one of my dad’s friends who is a doctor in the Navy, and he talked me out of it. My dad encouraged me to do art because I have always been artistic; I always drew things, and I won a bunch of awards for my art, even as early as kindergarten. My mom still keeps all of the stuff I created when I was younger. I didn’t take my dad seriously at first; I told him that I didn’t want to be poor and had this image of being a painter under a bridge or something.
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I used to watch the Spanish version of the show, Ugly Betty, and one of the guys on that show was a Graphic Designer. I always had a thing for letters and layouts, but I didn’t really know it was a thing before I saw that show. Growing up in Temecula, California, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of artsy lifestyles, the way I might have been if I’d grown up in a city like San Francisco or New York. One of my aunts works in a publishing house with her husband, so I flew out to England to visit, and they told me about what they do, and what kind of courses I could take to explore design. I specialized in graphic design because I love publishing. I’ve always been drawn to magazines and stuff. There aren’t a lot of publishing houses where I live in Omaha, Nebraska, so that’s how I got into branding.

 

3) What drew you to your current field? 

I’ve always done art. I am always trying new things, like recently, I worked on a bunch of macrame projects, and I did a lot of screen printing for a while. I am all about learning new techniques. But letterpress, print and design, that’s where my soul lies. I get nerdy about paper; I’m an old soul when it comes to stuff like that. I am one of those people who will forever be saying that print will never die. Like, I received a Kindle from my mom for Christmas one year, and I can’t bring myself to use it very often because I love the feel of paper. The convenience of screens can’t take away from the tactile satisfaction people get from paper. I love going to old bookstores, just to buy books for the look of them. I will actually buy books sometimes for the book itself, and not the content! I really appreciate the craftsmanship of a good book, the attention to detail, how the spine is bound, the font that’s used…people don’t realize how much is put into a book to make you want to grab it off the shelf. There are certain things about the design of something where, if you don’t notice it, that means they’ve done a good job. That beautiful craftsmanship is what drew me to design.

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4) What does it mean to be a woman in your field? 

Honestly, I’ve been really lucky and haven’t experienced any real issues being a woman in Graphic Design. There was one thing though; you try to just do your best and be on the same level as your male counterparts, but I received an award one time, and it was like, recognizing that I was the first female designer at that company. It bothered me because I don’t want to be recognized for being a woman, I want recognition for being great at my job. To be honest, I’ve felt a lot more tension between female coworkers in my field. Maybe it’s just a competitive thing, but I wish we could all just support each other.

5) What advice do you have for other women interested in your field of work?

Never stop doing what you want to do. If you’re in a creative rut, get inspired by other people. Even if it’s not design — read things by other people, look at other peoples’ art. Don’t be afraid to look at others work, but don’t judge yourself too harshly. Art and design take a lot of self-confidence because you’re putting yourself out there, and it can be so subjective, whether something is “good” or not.

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6) What is the most challenging part of your job?

Not being able to work on the things I want to work on. If someone gives me a brief that is super restrictive, I don’t get to stretch myself at all creatively. Also, admin stuff — invoicing, marketing, and sometimes you have to figure out how to work with clients who you don’t necessarily mesh with.

Thank you so much Sandra! Check out her design website here.

I’m just a lady, crawling around after her kid, begging him not to get eczema lotion all over her sheets

We’ve been dealing with eczema. It’s super common nowadays, but why? At least two-thirds of the moms I’ve spoken to about it have said that their kids also have it, with varying degrees of severity. We exchange stories of our own successes and failures with treating it, or just keeping it from becoming too severe.

The general consensus amongst pediatricians and pediatric dermatologists seems to be that best way to “treat” the skin condition is simply to slather some steroid cream on it to take care of the inflammation. Matt and I took the advice of our pediatrician and used the 2% hydrocortisone that was prescribed for our son’s eczema, which at the time was causing the skin on his ankles to crack and bleed. It seemed like every week we continued with the steroid treatment, his skin would become worse and the further the eczema would spread. When it finally covered his chin, chest, back, legs and behind his shoulders, I started looking into different treatment options.

After a lot of trial and error (and a period of what seemed like detox from the steroids where his skin just became more itchy and inflamed), we found a routine that seemed to keep it under control somewhat. About two or three times a month, we will use a 1% hydrocortisone balm (not the cream) if needed, to get the redness and dryness down. On normal days, we make sure to slather on his SkinFix Eczema Balm, rub it in really well, and then top it with Cerave ointment. We then try to cover all the spots with clothing to keep the moisture locked in (socks, pants, long sleeves). Luckily it seems like it tends to flare up in the drier winter months, so more clothing isn’t a real issue. Sometimes when it’s looking really dry, I’ll take Char to the beach and let the ocean heal him (life in San Diego)!

I wish it were as “simple” as removing something from my son’s diet, but we tried removing all the normal things—gluten, soy, corn, dairy, and eggs—to no avail.

Katie over at Wellness Mama also has a great list of natural remedies for eczema. None of these worked in our case, but the sea salt really does seem to calm it down a bit.

I would be interested to hear what other parents are doing for their kids’ eczema.

 

Corn and Fishing

It was a warmish day back when we lived in the house in Norco, when my father took me fishing. I was four and a half years old and my sister was two. I had blonde, curly-ish hair with bangs that went straight across. My dad was an Ironworker and a welder, and he worked hard and often when work was good. We had matching shirts back then that had peanuts on them. I remember wearing them together one time when he took me to one of his job sites, and I looked up into the sky at one of his buddies who was sitting atop a steel skeleton of a small building, the sun shining brightly around him and right into my eyes. My dad had a belly and a mustache, and I believed that he was the strongest man in the world.

That day we stopped at the gas station, and my dad gave me a ten dollar bill to take inside to the register. “Tell the man to put ten on two”, he said. We walked inside and I told the man with trepidation, “Put ten on two”. He smiled at me and told me I could pick out a popsicle. I picked the red one and then asked my dad if I could have one of the tiny Reese’s cups up on the counter. He said no, but the man at the register said I could take one, and he smiled and winked at me. I thought that it must be because he liked my t-shirt with Ariel from The Little Mermaid on it.

At the lake we backed dad’s red and white truck into the water, and he pushed the boat off of the trailer until it floated cheerily on the green surface. When we were out on the water, I dropped my Barbie and my tiny oar into the water repeatedly, admiring my dad for being so brave and skilled at fishing them out.

On the way home we listened to the Beach Boys and I thought very hard about how sad it would be if someone ate up all of my corn. Dad oscillated between singing vague utterances quietly and belting out snippets of lyrics which he had memorized. We sat in the hot truck in our driveway when we got home, and finished the song before heading inside for dinner.

On Raising a Reader

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When I was pregnant with Charlie, I kept imagining what it would be like to sit on the edge of his bed and read him a chapter of Harry Potter before bedtime. To do all the character voices, and watch his face as he got to experience Hogwarts for the first time. While we are not quite at Harry Potter status yet, Charlie insists on being read some of his favorite board books every night. It’s such a fulfilling thing, to be able to watch him enjoy the same books my mom read to my siblings and I when we were little!

And he loves his books! I wished so hard that my baby would love reading, and he just absorbs it all like a little sponge, asking to be read Caps for Sale for the millionth time (in a day). He gets super involved in the stories too, pointing to things and talking about them, imitating the faces of the characters, and laughing at the silly parts.

I can’t even describe the joy I feel every time Charlie grabs a book to read on his own; he just picks one, sits on his little Thomas the Tank Engine couch, and studies each page as though he were literally sitting there reading a chapter book. It makes me so dang proud, be still my exploding mama heart.

I had posted on my Instagram a few weeks ago about an amazing company, Zoozil, who’s mission is to make learning and reading more accessible through choose-your-own-adventure style e-books for kids. Zoozil has redefined the way kids get to explore the world by putting them in control of the story.

Reading, and making learning exciting for kids is something we are obviously pretty passionate about in our house. Which is why I wanted to share that you can get 50% off any book using the coupon code ChangeTheStory.

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Please check them out at www.zoozil.com, and help kids change the story! You can also connect with them on Instagram and FaceBook (@zoozil).

Fall: Yes, I am Basic.

I keep thinking about what a bummer it is that loving Fall and yoga pants equates to being a basic bitch. Because I love yoga pants. And I Really. Love. Fall.

To me, that first day of slightly cooler weather that follows the final heatwave of the summer is like a holiday on its own. I saw this comic the other day that pretty much sums up the way I feel the second the temperature drops below 80. I feel a tingle of excitement and all the energy I’ve saved up through the summer laying g around bemoaning the heat starts to spark up inside me again.

Pumpkins! Cinnamon! Leaves! Sweaters! No more shaving! HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE FALL?!?

The change in season always kind of brings me to reflect on the past eight months or so. Another year almost done? How did I do? Am I heading in the right direction? Am I being the person I want to be or taking steps to get there? It’s a time to slow down a bit and focus on cozying up our home, reading more, burning candles, celebrating family and eating carbs.

Since Charlie’s a little older I am SO looking forward to picking pumpkins, Halloween costumes, learning about menorahs and Santa and all the yummy foods that were choking hazards last year.

Now, to convince Matt to watch Hocus Pocus with me…

Sunday Evening


My body has been flooded with oxytocin for so many months, that I almost forgot what it was like to experience the exhaustion preceded by a few days of heavy anxiety. While I was pregnant, I also avoided those days, where simply existing feels so. freaking. hard. because all of your thoughts are competing for attention at the same time, and everything is happening TO you, and BECAUSE of you, and you are angry at your brain for being so self-centered but can’t get out of it even with the knowledge that it’s going to be over soon and you’re okay, you just think you’re gonna maybe die of panic. While I was pregnant, the hormones were mostly steady, so I forgot about the emotional swing that happens during the different cycles of the moon.

Last week, it hit me hard. I spent a few days being a mild asshole (but it felt much worse than that). I said things prematurely and without stopping to wonder how my words might affect others. I’m a frustratingly sensitive person, so it’s not everyday I storm past people in the office exuding nothing but anger and saying pretty much whatever came into my mind.

Luckily I have a strong support system, and my mom, my sister, my husband and my friends are understanding and forgiving (most of the time). And luckily, I’ve dealt with this for a long time and know how to speak gently to myself, to tell myself that those thoughts going around in my head aren’t truth, and that I am love, even when a little bit of shitty fear creeps in.