2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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SAMB: Who Let the Words Out

Image credit: “safe” – © 2007 Paul Keller – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

They say, if you write, then you are a writer. I would add if you think about writing, wish you could write, wonder if you will ever write again, sit down to write-get distracted and stop-but go back and start again, you are a writer.  At least that is what I tell myself in the blur that is being a full-time wife, mother, higher education administrator, friend, neighbor, do-gooder and avid watcher of The Voice.

I met someone new this week and during the foundational new person conversation topic of “How did you end up here?” I was reminded that I started this whole journey into higher education not knowing what the hell I was doing. I was the first person in my immediate family to go to college. I was only the second person in my entire extended family to go to college. There is a lot of talk about helping first-generation college students navigate the system but in my experience, being naive helped. I started off in the often feared major of “Undecided” but I did not know what I wanted to do and so that made the most sense to me and no one in my family objected.

I took classes that I liked, which happened to be pretty much anything offered in the English department. I liked those classes so much, I picked that as my major because it never occurred to me to take classes I did not like so that I could potentially “make more money” at some point in the future. A lot of people did ask if I was going to be a teacher, which I never understood because even as a first-gen college student I knew the difference between majoring in English and Education which meant, you know, being an educator, duh.

18 years later, I have not had an occasion to regret that decision. I am not one to lament that I have “done nothing” with my English degree. I am no Anne Lamott but I write everyday. The words in each personal or professional email, tweet, blog, facebook post, and even text are crafted in my voice.

That was a lot of words to say I love words and all aspects of communication (with the exception of talking on the phone, which I avoid at all costs). Of course it always seems as if I could be doing more but today let us be encouraged my fellow writers, it may not feel like it right now but I say that we  are all doing just fine. 

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Stephen King’s 20 Quotes on Writing

Yes.

Click the image for 19 more Stephen King's quotes on writing

Most of the quotes were taken from this book.

1. “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”

2. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

3. “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

4. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

5. “In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep…

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I am not the exception

I like to think I am the exception, particularly to things that I do not like, but rarely is that true. It seems almost too obvious to say that often times  the more I dig my heels in that I am the exception, the less exceptional I actually am.

(I hate that I ended that sentence with “am” but I choose to let it go, don’t you judge me.)

I blame this particular track of self analysis on this article in Huffington Post called “23 Things Every Woman Should Stop Doing,” Articles with titles like that are generally in the category of things I choose not to read but it was 4 o’clock in the morning, I was feeding a baby and had some time to kill. I thought I’ll quick scroll through this an celebrate how I have achieved the status of a woman to whom lists such as that one do not apply.

Then I got to #6 “Feeling like an impostor when you accomplish something professionally” and thought well dagnabit, that IS me. This in itself is unfortunate but not the end of the world. What I do not like is it is that as a result of this mentality my ability to take risks, creatively solve problems, and care about other people is hindered because I do not want to be outed as an impostor BUT those are the traits that make me fantastically good I what I do. These are the mental gymnastics that fill my days.

Now that my conscience is cleared and I have confessed I am an average human being with issues of my own, I will go re-read my current manifesto on life, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.

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SAMB: The Whole Truth

9 weeks ago I had a baby.

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TSRH August 2013

My baby hates his baby car seat carrier contraption, which means he also hates his stroller since is merely a frame on wheels that holds said car seat. This picture captures a miraculous moment where he wasn’t screaming at me to get him out of what I now call “the torture chair.” But this is not about him (although I could write volumes about this kid) this is about me.

Like I said, I had a baby and that is a story of its own. If you want to know how that went, you can read about it here. Since then, some serious shit went down. I’m talking scratching your head, where where did that come from kind of situation.

Before I had a baby, I checked out this awesome book on breastfeeding from the local library. I liked it so much, I ended up buying a copy. It covers what seems to be everything you could possibly experience as a breastfeeding mama, including all those worst case scenarios, like mastitis and abscesses. I read the whole thing, cover to cover and referred to is almost daily after the baby was born.

It was a great tool. I had a pretty good idea what was going in when I experienced my first plugged milk ducts. I knew I wanted to avoid mastitis (infection at the point of the plug) so I worked really hard towards that for a week. Unfortunately, my efforts were futile and I ended up with the common symptoms of a fever and a chill. But all hope was not lost, although not fun, many women experience mastitis and recover fully and go on to continue to breastfeeding their babies. What have had to accept recently is that I apparently do not qualify as “many women.”

After two weeks and my situation did not improve, it became progressively worse. I was in a great deal of pain ( a 10 on the made up scale of pain the medical profession relies so heavily upon), had stumped my OB/Gyn, a local La Leche League Leader and a Lactation Consultant as to why the situation was not improving. Long story short, a trip to the ER and a 5 day hospital stay left me feeling better than I had since giving birth even though I had developed two extensive abscesses and chose to stop breastfeeding in order to restore some emotional stability during what the doctors said could be a long recovery.

I planned for the past few weeks to go differently. The truth is that it has been incredibly hard season and after the dust settles, I will go to many, many weeks of counseling to process all this but in the middle of all this, I allowed myself to do something out of the ordinary, I let my friends help me (not that I had lot of other choices because I was in no position to refuse help- it was a hot mess express kind of situation). My friends loved on my baby when I could not, left their families to take care of mine, climbed into bed and sat with me in my pain, camped out with me in the hospital and showed me I was precious and loved in ways I had never experienced before.

Would I do it again? Hell no but I let out a big sigh of both relief and gratitude when I think about the experience.

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SAMB: The Short Version

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I am one of those people who had a baby at home because I didn’t make it to the hospital in time.

Never thought I’d be one of those people. I didn’t understand how it happened. How do you NOT know? Everyone says its so obvious. There are clear indicators. And its not like its an exceptionally quick process typically.

As of Friday morning at the doctor’s office, all signs pointed to…nothing. There was no movement on the labor front and I was scheduled to check in at the hospital Sunday evening to be induced. The conversation moved to the standard old wives tales of things to eat or do to bring on labor. The doctor mentioned eggplant, strawberries and pineapple. So for lunch I had eggplant fries from Murry’s. We stopped by Hy-Vee to pick-up strawberries and pineapple but those were still in the fridge, unopened, when I returned home on Monday, with a baby.

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Friday night around 6:00 pm, I started having contractions. I mostly just felt really uncomfortable. And that is how the night progressed. My contractions never followed the “5-1-1” rule. They were always in my back, never moved to my abdomen. Did my water break? No. Yes. No. Maybe. Could have been. Who knows? What was my pain on a scale of 1-10? Never above a 7 or 8.

I just kept waiting for things to get really bad overnight, you know like obvious bad. Over the top, yelling dramatically, bad. I cannot focus on anything else kind of bad. Apparently, my threshold was higher than even I knew. When the baby decided to come, he came fast. I was really just along for the ride at this point. I don’t even remember getting to push, the contractions ran the show, I couldn’t have stopped it if I tried. I told JP this was happening and while on the phone with our doula, who was already on her way, he delivered our baby boy on the floor of our bedroom.

I had nothing to offer JP by the way of help at this point, I just watching things happen. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck 2 times, he unwrapped it and laid the baby on my chest. The baby coughed, then cried and our new family of 3 spent a few minutes looked at each other like WTF just happened.

And that is how I didn’t make it to the hospital.

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That’s Deedee, or as we like to call her, the super doula. She arrived shortly after the baby and helped us move through the shock to action and we called 911. The emergency responders arrived shortly after the doula and although they were great, it was definitely a non-emergency by time they arrived, we basically just needed a ride to the hospital where we proceed to throw a big curve the wonderfully accommodating staff at Boone Hospital.

Below is Dr. Welch holding Theo Monday morning, the day of his originally scheduled induction. Really this experience is thanks to her eggplant suggestion.

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SAMB: 40 weeks

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Made it. Now sweet, darling, precious child of mine, you have to get out. You have been put on notice. We can do this the hard way or the harder way. You have 7 days to comply.

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