Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Mommy JD) Clipping Coupons- the Secret to my Success

If you are wondering about my random Shutterfly Father's Day card post, well I did that so that I could get $10 off my next order. I'm all about the freebies and discounts. Which brings me to finally posting something that has been sitting in the drafts for a while: my life with coupons.

How do I get away with being a hybrid of a working mother and a stay-at-home mom? It's all in the coupons. Some stay-at-home moms do surveys, write blogs with advertisements, write reviews, etc. But I have come to find out that most actually "make" their money (or rather make their husband's income stretch) by using coupons. And I don't mean a clipping a few here and there and causally using them at the store. No, I mean hard core, 20+ coupons every shopping trip, reducing your grocery bill by 80% or more coupon clipping. I guess you could call it "Extreme Couponing," but that TV show is actually not a positive reflection of the coupon game.

My husband got me into this game with one haphazard mention of a coupon lady (who I now know as Jill Cataldo) who was featured on Oprah and subsequently many other news articles for her coupon fame. She put me on to printing coupons from home- which has been totally awesome and rewarding. Me being the competitive type, I quickly got into this game (because that is truly what it is, a game- with rules, wins, losses, and all). I found that the easiest thing to do was to follow coupon blogs written by moms (and dads) who match coupons with grocery store sale ads. This is the best way to stretch your coupons and dollars. I had to learn that the hard way- when I first started couponing I would just go to the store with the coupons I had and buy everything that I had a coupon for. Well, that method will have you actually spending more than you would have without the coupon because 1) if a name brand item isn't on sale, it's usually entirely overpriced and 2) you don't always need the item you have a coupon for (or at the least, it can wait). I've found that this is called reckless couponing.

But since that time I have become a very savvy couponer. I've had my share of both coupon highs and lows but every experience is a learning lesson. Most times I will not argue with a cashier about a coupon, but every once in a while I have to stand my ground. Thanks to the research of my coupon bloggers, I know just about every store's coupon policy (or where it can be found). My favorite stores to coupon at are CVS and Walgreens- yes drug stores are usually notoriously overpriced but you have to shop from the sales ad! Never stray- an item will almost always go on sale.

So here's my bundle of coupon blogs - yes there are a ton, but what I love about coupon blogs is that the posts are never more than a few sentences and you can usually tell what the deal is just by the title. My favorites are,, and I also have my own pseudo-blog in the form of a tumblr where I just re-post my favorite deals. I call it "To Save or To Spend" because even with coupons you are still spending money and you have to make wise choices!

Lastly, whenever you shop online, always search for a promo code before making a purchase and shop through to get cash back!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

(Mommy JD) The Pregnant and Hungry vs. The Difficult and Cranky

Due to the cold, my pregnancy, and sicknesses on both our parts, my son has unfortunately spent most of the winter months indoors. And even though he has tons of toys to play with at home, I really felt bad that I hadn't taken him to any special activities, museums, or play places. Thus, for weeks I had planned to take him to the DuPage Children's Museum (Groupon) with his friend A. So despite my lack of sound sleep, sinus issues, and various pregnancy ailments (sciatica) I got up early this morning to get us up and over to Naperville by the time the museum opened.

My son played like he had been freed from shackles! We had been to this particular museum once before, but that was over a year ago and of course he didn't remember. But even if he did, it didn't matter- he could play in that museum day after day and not get bored. Especially the water and bubble tables. My baby LOVES water, and has been asking to play in the water all winter. We've tried to teach him about the seasons and how it's just too cold to play with water, even indoors. So playing at this water table was an extra special treat. I only pulled him away because he was SOAKED and we needed to move our day along.

As we left I figured he would probably fall asleep in the car since we were an hour away from home. And I prepared myself to entertain him for the rest of the day until bedtime. But to my surprise he stayed awake the entire drive home. Interesting, I thought. Maybe now he'll nap for two hours or so while I get some rest too. So in the house we go, straight upstairs for our nap time routine. I read him a story and rocked him while he drank his milk. I kept rocking him. I fell asleep a little bit. I kept rocking. After about 20 minutes he tells me to put him in the bed. I'm no fool, but I was hopeful, so I put him in the bed despite my past experience with putting him in his bed while he's wide awake. Ever since he's been in a toddler bed, he just gets right out whenever he wants to and starts playing with his toys.

I went to lay down in my bed and my husband came in to lay down with me. Of course I heard Gr playing with his toys but I closed my eyes tighter and hoped that daddy would handle it. Eventually daddy gets up and tells him to go to sleep. To my surprise the noise stopped and soon I drifted off to sleep- for a few minutes. My husband left and I still heard silence. Then my astute hearing detects movement and gibberish coming from my son's room. So I got up, walked down the hallway, and opened his door in amazement. This boy had all of his toys piled up on his bed. Clearly my son thinks he has outsmarted his parents (and I guess he had) by realizing "if I don't make any noise, they'll think I'm asleep."

At this point I was starving (hunger creeps up on you like a beast when you're pregnant) and I didn't even care that he deceived me by not taking a nap. I just wanted to go get something to eat. But after taking him to the museum to play, and then letting him play some more when he got home, this child had the nerve to be uncooperative. I had to change his diaper- he rolled all over the floor. Then he wouldn't let me put a diaper on so I had negotiate and finally he put on a pull-up. Time to put pants on. "NO! No pants on!" No pants on? Boy I am STARVING, would you come on please. I felt an ugly mama moment coming on. So I scooped him up, with only a t-shirt and pull-up on, and threw (ok, firmly placed) him in his carseat. I tossed his pants and coat on top of him and off we went to the Sonic Drive Thru. I've been craving slushies lately and nothing satisfies that better than a Sonic chiller or limeade. Delish. And my son happily kicked his bare legs in the backseat as I ordered him some tator tots and we drove back home.

The food was worth the tantrum. For both of us.

Friday, March 18, 2011

(2 Karats and a Kid) Taking it one day at a time and enjoying my son...

Mommy-ism #6:  It takes a village to raise a mother...

Somewhere, on the corner of "Psycho-Therapy Ave" and "I'm Every Woman Blvd,"  someone told women everywhere that we have to keep the imperfections in our lives private.  We are surprised when "Susie Q" ends up having an heart attack at the age of 40 because "she always had a smile on her face" and we are astonished to hear that "Betty P" pops Prozac and Valium with her morning "Cup of Joe" because she always seems to "have it sooo together."

But the fact of the matter is that behind every mentally sane and stable woman is either:

a) a good therapist,
b) a vodka of the month membership,
c) good sex followed by a deep tissue back massage,
d) a handful of supportive women who are there to say the right thing at the right time.

A woman who enjoys ALL four of these things could surely solve the Middle East Crisis. Give a woman THREE out of four of these things and she is probably a self-made billionaire.  But for the average working woman, we just have Oprah, a cheap bottle of wine, a "quickie", and a girlfriend or two on speed-dial who will pick up anytime of the day to help us through tough times.

Yet, when we take a closer look at the people around us, it oftentimes becomes apparent that we have much more support than we previously assessed.  Perhaps, its a coworker who has been there to talk you off "the ledge", a group of women that you know through an extracurricular activity, or a friend that you have reconnected with through Facebook.  Either way, God has a way of putting the right people in your life at the right time.

For me, Mommy JD (the coauthor of this blog), was an unexpected source of support for me throughout my pregnancy and after Roman's birth (although I'm sure she didn't know it).   There was never a question that was too dumb to ask (ie. "What are receiving blankets for??  What do babies sleep in??  Do babies need ID to ride on an airplane?).  And the truth is that I don't know if I would have been able to get through the initial days after Roman's heart diagnosis without her advice.

A few days after our consultation with the cardiologist, Mommy JD text messaged me to see how Roman and I were doing.  Still a bit overwhelmed by the news,  I told Mommy JD what was going on because everything about her radiated with perfect "motherliness" -  and I was hoping that she had a  "What To Do When Your Child Has A Heart Defect" book by her bedside to tell me how to handle this situation. 

After spilling my guts over the course of several text messages, Mommy JD simply responded back by telling me that she had had a similar experience, to research everything that I could about the condition, and most importantly that "everything would be okay" and to "enjoy my son".

As anxious as I was prior to telling her, something about her words make me feel better.   

"Everything will be okay...Enjoy your baby."

For some reason that I still can't understand to this day, I truly believed that everything would be fine after that.  I didn't know how things were going to work out -- but I knew that I couldn't allow myself to think that far ahead.  Much of the anxiety that I felt up until that point wasn't because of any physical symptoms that Roman displayed but because I kept wondering whether his heart issue would keep him from playing varsity basketball, or keep him from playing with his cousins when he went down south for the summers, or from becoming a firefighter if he wanted.

Upon telling another girlfriend, she told me that she was going to pray for Roman's COMPLETE healing...WITHOUT surgery!  Up until that point, I hadn't thought to pray that aggressively - I mean, who was I to ask for God to perform a darn miracle?  The cardiologist said it was a 30% chance that the hole in Roman's heart would close on its own so the most I could pray for was that God be with the doctors and surgeons in the operating room when the time came for us to have surgery.  But I was moved by the level of faith that my girlfriend had over my situation and thought, "What the heck! I'll try this gangsta praying out for myself!"   So when I prayed I asked for God's will to be done but also prayed that he would begin to heal Roman's heart and that he would never feel the effects of his condition.

After receiving those messages, I looked down at Roman who was laying on my chest and promised him, myself, and God that I would take things one day at a time from that moment on.  As long as God was willing to give us a day - I would spend my time loving and enjoying him with my husband.  Everything else beyond those two goals would just have to work themselves out and I truly began to trust that they would.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(Mommy JD) The Bump's Hump Day Randomisms

Happy Hump Day! Here are some randomisms from my bump and I:
  • I miss the UPS guy. Due to our high-tax-bill, my-car-needs-fixin, low-cash budget, I have not seen him in quite a long time. So today I had to treat myself to a purchase- I just love to shop and click.
  • I don't know what was more gross- how long my child's toenails were or the fact that I clipped them right before he went to bed....while he was in the bed. I'll vacuum it up, don't judge me.
  • This morning my baby was kicking like she was angry. I wonder if babies in utero get angry? Like what could possible make her upset? The way I see it, life in the womb is the bomb. It's like living in a jacuzzi with an all you can eat buffet.
  • Things with my husband and his mistress (Alpha Phi Alpha) are still hot and heavy. He has precisely 19 more weeks until the affair must come to an end.
  • I CANNOT STAND the senior citizens that patron at the community center where my son goes to preschool. I do not discriminate against old people, I just have a general phobia and annoyance for them.
  • My butt hurts- and it's not hemorrhoids, trust me. It's just my big ol butt having to sit in uncomfortable chairs all day. I have a Spelman seat cushion (no idea why I have one) that I think I'll start carrying around with me.
  • I always want Culvers for lunch and I always forget the coupons for Culvers at home. Sadly even a coupon lover like myself will not forgo the buttery goodness of a Culvers hamburger just because I left the $1 coupon at home. Especially not today.

UPDATE: I most definitely got my Culvers on for lunch. If you sign up for their email list, they send you a coupon for BOGO Value Basket!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

(Mommy JD) Just say no to late naps

And do I really have to explain why? When my son naps at home with me (usually only on the weekends) I try to get him down between 1pm-3pm. Once it gets close to 4pm it's decision time- you have to decide whether a nap is absolutely necessary right now or if you can just go 3 more hours and put him to bed early. Allowing a nap after 4pm is flirting with disaster (note: this applies only to 2-3 year olds. Babies obviously sleep around the clock and I am so looking forward to that again). If you absolutely must nap your child after 4pm, I suggest you wake him/her up after an hour. Toddlers around this age like to sleep for 3+ hours, which at first is the bomb. I remember when Gr took his first 3 hour nap some time ago- I was so hype I didn't know what to do with myself. Yes, a 3 hour nap is blissful when they will still go to bed around 8pm.

However, a few months ago I realized that a 3 hour nap, no matter what time they take it, can be detrimental to bedtime. Thus, when Gr takes a long nap on the weekends, I am mentally prepared for him to not go to bed until 9-9:30pm. And I can deal with that. Late naps, however, are another situation. No matter how lengthy the nap, 45min, 1 hour, 2 hours, whatever- you will undoubtedly have an extreme bedtime battle after a late afternoon nap.

So it's 5:30pm and my husband and I (carpooling as of late) go to pick up our son from my mother-in-law's. She looks at us like we're early (daylight savings time?) and tells us that she JUST put Gr down for a nap. Huh? Okay, obviously I have not broken down the 4pm nap time decision formula for her- but I figure she wouldn't abide by it anyway. So I let him sleep until 6pm, eat dinner, and try not to think about the consequences of his refreshed state.

We get home about 7:30pm, change into PJs, and let Gr play in his room by himself. Around 8pm he comes in our room and wants to lay in bed with us. Mind you my husband had been up working since 3:30am and I had a severe sinus headache so we were both about to pass out. We let him watch cartoons in bed as we rested and at 8:30pm I tell him it's time to go to bed. Protest. But he begrudgingly goes into his room, slowing picks up his toys (stalling), and picks out a book. We read, we say prayers- in the bed. He insists I leave the light on. Now, the first time he made this request I acquiesced and he actually fell asleep with the light on. My husband disagrees with this tactic so we compromised by leaving his closet Christmas lights on the timer. So I turn on the timer and tell him he has to stay in the bed or I will turn off the light. Yeah right.

I'm no fool so I don't go get in the bed. My husband is already snoring away so I just go into the office and get on the computer. There's nothing worse than falling asleep just to have your toddler disturb you. So sat on toddler patrol making him get back in the bed whenever I heard him get out or open his door. And of course he did that for about an hour or so before I couldn't stand it any longer and had to get in the bed. Shortly thereafter I hear him coming down the hall talking about turning his music back on so I tap my husband to get up (your turn!). He does (with an attitude) and of course what daddy says goes so that was the end of that.

I really gotta eliminate the lights and music from this bedtime situation, but I am so not up for the battle....

(Mommy JD) The Dentist: A Necessary Evil

My late mother was a dentist so I can appreciate dental hygiene whole heartedly. I've never been afraid of going to the dentist and I looked forward to it as a child- especially when I had braces. I even took my son to a pediatric dentist when he turned 1 so that he could used to going to the dentist. That was fun.

I think the longest I went without going to the dentist was 5 years- throughout college and my first year of law school. So I paid a pretty hefty penny out of pocket to get about a million cavities filled (yes, I have had uber cavities in my lifetime, ironic for the child of a dentist, I know). And I really liked that dentist in NC- she had all kinds of music to choose from to drown out the sounds of scraping and drilling.

So today it was time for yet another visit to the dentist. They say pregnant women should continue to go to the dentist, especially with all of the hormones. I don't think I went at all during my first pregnancy but it had been over a year so I knew it was time about time to go. Unfortunately I had no idea how uncomfortable it would be.

As soon as I walked in the hygienist noticed my "condition" and immediately said, "ok, no x-rays for you." Good job. So she lays me back, starts the small talk and then digs into my teeth and gums. Literally. She told me my gums would bleed more during pregnancy but I swear I saw blood flinging left and right from that scraper. I'll spare the gory details.

For a pregnant woman, laying on your back is far from comfortable. And doubly so for me since I have this pesky sinus infection going on. So I'm just laying there getting picked at, feeling my baby kick from time to time, watching the blood splatter, and also thinking about how gross some people's mouths are and how hard it would be for me to be all up in some random person's grill like this. I mean, kudos to my mom, my co-author's husband, and all the other dentists out there- you all make a great living taking care of other people's teeth. I just don't think I could do it.

Okay, so time goes on and I start to get really uncomfortable. Not to mention the nausea I feel when she uses the tooth polisher cream stuff. When I finally get up I am dizzy as all hell. I literally feel like I am sick and about to fall out. It took everything in me to muster the strength to walk out of there, pay my bill and drive home. Oh and my gums felt like marshmallows on fire.

Another fun outing with me and the bump...

Monday, March 14, 2011

(2 Karats and a Kid) Mommy 101: DO. NOT. FREAK. OUT.

Mommy-ism #5:  Whatever happens -- Do. Not. Freak. Out. YOU are now someones protector and superhero -- and superheroes do not lose their cool.

A week had passed since Roman had come home and I was finally starting to get a rhythm.  Pat had gone back to work and during the day and my mother would come over to assist with the baby while I napped.  From the very beginning, Roman and I napped in the same bed during the day, and most times when my mother was in the other room assuming that we were sleeping, I was in fact, lying there staring at him wondering how could someone so little evoke such an immense feeling of love.

The truth is that babies are scary, frightening, and powerful little beings.  Though they look helpless they in fact can bring a 300 pound man to his knees with a smile.  Imagine every type of love that you have ever felt - a first love, a friend's love, a parent's love, love for a pet - then imagine putting all of that love into one person and THEN you can imagine how powerful a child is.

While in the hospital, during one of the morning rounds, the on-call pediatrician conducted a routine check of Roman's vitals.  As she laid the stethoscope on his chest, immediately I say a flash of apprehension on her face.  Though I had only been a mother for less than 24 hours, immediately I knew that something wasn't right.

Over the course of the next two days, after testing and further examination, we were told that "everything would be okay" BUT that Roman had an "heart issue" that would require us to consult a cardiologist for further information.

When the day came to finally go to the doctor, I anxiously prayed that there was some mistake and that we would be dismissed to go home and enjoy our little boy without worry.  Yet, after an hour with Roman's pediatrician, we learned that the ultrasound revealed that our son had a congenital heart defect, called a ventricular septal defect (vsd), which was more simply described as a "moderate to large hole in between the lower two chambers of his heart."

While the doctor tried to assure us that this defect was "fairly common" and "easily repaired with surgery" if it didn't close on it's own - hearing the words "HEART. HOLE. DEFECT. SURGERY" was enough to nearly give me a heart attack.

As we drove home from the pediatrician, I tried to put on a positive face for my husband but I was devastated.  Perhaps it was a combination of sleep deprivation,  fatigue, and my crashing of hormones but a battle raged within me where my fear was overtaking my faith. 

I was a wreck.

When we arrived home I went into our room with the baby and cried for the greater part of an hour. 
[Imagine Pookie from New Jack City + an embattled wife from a Lifetime movie + a homeless mother from a T.D. Jakes movie = Me.]   I was afraid like I've never been afraid of anything in my life and I didn't know what to do.  Suddenly, I wished I could put Roman back in my tummy where I knew he was safe because the realness of being a parent felt like too much for me to bear and I didn't know if I was ready for what it would take to get through this situation.

About an hour into my nervous breakdown, my parents showed up at our house, only to see my bloodshot eyes when I opened the door.  I don't know if I have ever felt as if I needed my parents more than I did that day.  I needed to feel safe and protected in a way that only parents could provide and seeing them instantly made me feel better.

Over the course of the next few hours while my parents visited, they never solicited further details about the doctor's appointment or Roman's heart issue - they simply filled the time with jokes, random stories, news tid-bits, and my father's upcoming retirement.  When I briefly mentioned Roman's appointment, my mother simple smiled and said, "That Roman will be just fine. I already know this - so I'm not worried one bit."

For the first time that day, I believed he would be okay too.

In the back of my mind I wondered how my parents could be so confident and unfrazzled in light of the news but it wasn't until they were headed out the door that I saw a tear in my father's eye that I got "it".

As my parents, my mother and father put on a brave face. Yes, they were worried and anxious because they knew that their child was in pain.   Yet, as my parents, they knew that they had to embody the hope that I struggled to find in that situation.  As my protectors, they had to convey confidence because they knew that I looked to them for some sense of security, for some level of assurance, and for some confirmation that everything would be okay.

On the day that felt like one of the scariest days of my life, I learned how to be a parent.

I realized from that day forth, Roman would look to my husband and I to be assured that "things would be okay."   From that day forth, no matter how much I would want to run "home" into my parents arms, now I would have to the person who convinced my son that there was no obstacle that we couldn't solve together as a family.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

(Mommy JD) Potty Dancin on a Cold Snowy March Day

So today was our Pull-Ups Potty Party. I gathered with my local mommy friends who all have 2 or 3 year olds resisting this important milestone of be potty trained. Do I really think that doing this silly potty dance will help my son keep his butt on the potty? Not at all. But I’m a sucker for freebies and random excuses to have playdates so I just had fun with it. Plus I am not even a believer of Pull-Ups as a means to potty train (Supernanny frowns upon Pull-Ups).

It didn't help that my child has caught yet ANOTHER cold this weekend and passed it along to me. After falling asleep at 8pm last night and waking up at 2am to never return to sleep (Why can't you go to sleep you ask? Snoring husband, kicking fetus, runny nose, you name it) I was exhausted.

But the party actually turned out to be fun. I have a former preschool teacher in my mom group so she did the potty story-time and did a great job. Unfortunately the moment after everyone left my son told me he needed a diaper change. Sigh. One day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

(Mommy JD) The Bump's Hump Day Randomisms

Happy Hump Day! Here are some randomisms from my bump and I:
  • When your two year old starts grunting while going #2- while standing in the living room watching television leaning over an ottoman- you know it's time to get his stubborn behind on the potty. Smh.
  • Does anyone else go "ug" and maybe even jolt a little when their fetus kicks? At only 5.5 inches long and 0.7 ounces this baby is in full kickboxing mode.
  • While doing research on a motion I found myself humming to Big Pun's "Don't Want To Be a Playa" and then singing the words "I don't wanna be a lawyer no more...I'm not a lawyer I just crush a lot." I have issues.
  • Ironically I just realized that I have spent more time researching a rule that says I don't have to write this motion than it would have taken me to just write the motion. 21 more weeks until maternity leave.
  • My husband's mistress is Alpha Phi Alpha. I should retaliate by rendezvousing with Alpha Kappa Alpha but I'm starting to lose interest in her. She's too high maintenance and is losing her luster.
  • I would absolutely love a Chick Fil A chicken sandwich and fries right now....I must find an excuse to go to Orland on Friday for their Free Fry Day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

(2 Karats and a Kid) Gizmo vs. Spike: The first night at home

Mommy-ism #4:   Every baby is the perfect baby...while you are still at the hospital.  Stay at the hospital as long as you can!

I spent four days in the hospital with five-star dining, platinum-rated nurses and staff, and more "lactation-safe" narcotics and pain relievers than I could ever dream of.  With the exception of the gas pain I felt (which felt like a meat cleaver stuck in my side) - I wondered what all the fuss was about because having a baby ROCKED!

The nurses encouraged Patrick and I to let the baby sleep in the nursery so we could rest, but Roman was such a cool baby that he slept in our room every night only waking twice a night to be fed.  Despite much worrying and anxiety, my milk came in like the mighty Mississippi river and Roman, being the 10 pound gladiator that he was waisted no time figuring out how to get some food!  Everything just seemed to come together...

The most challenging part of my stay was trying to pass gas as my doctors were reluctant to release me until I had reached that milestone.  By the end of the week I had the option to stay another day but I was feeling confident in my ability to do get this motherhood thing on and popping!

Sure, I wouldn't have the meals on demand.  And granted I would have to change the baby on my own during the night.  But I had my husband, parents, and lactation-safe narcotics on my side so how hard could this be??

To this day, I don't know when or how it happened but somewhere between the revolving hospital doors and the door to our home our son went from a sweet little angel to a HUNGRY, CURSING, MONSTER!

Around 7:00 pm I took Roman into the bedroom to begin his bedtime routine:

I gently cleansed his face and body with warm water.
I changed his diaper to ensure he was starting the night off dry and clean.
I dressed him into his newborn onesie.
I proudly wrapped Roman in his blankets using my perfected swaddling technique that would rival that of any veteran Au Pair.

By 7:45, Roman was in his crib sleeping peacefully and soundly until...

...8:00 pm.

At which point Roman began to cry uncontrollably.  Anxiously, I quickly unwrapped his perfect swaddle, almost tore open his onesie, and loosened his diaper to see the blackest and stickiest booboo that I have ever seen in my natural life.

Relieved that I quickly found the issue behind his crying, I repeated my earlier routine.

I put on a clean diaper.  I put him in a clean onesie.  I wrapped him in the world's best swaddle.

By 8:30 pm, Roman was back in bed sleeping peacefully and soundly until...

9:30 pm.

At which point I ran into the room to see Roman's arms out of the world's most perfect swaddle, swinging back and forth toward his pursed lips as if he was saying, "FEED ME WOMAN!! CAN'T YOU SEE I AM HUNGRY??!!"

This continued every hour, on the hour, for the next 24 hours.

By the time the sun came up the next morning my husband and I had less slept less than 2 hours over the course of the night.   For the first time in my life, I realized how sleep deprivation could make you delirious.  My nipples were raw (TMI?), my boobs were as heavy and hard as boulders (so I couldn't sleep on my stomach),  the meat-cleaver-stabbing-gas-pain in my stomach was back and in full force, plus EVERY time I rolled out of the bed to walk to the crib it felt like my uterus and stomach were ripping open.

So I did what any over-confident first time mom would do -- I called my mom for help!

Within an hour, my mom was there with food, prune and apple juice, and apple sauce as Pat and I walked around the house like zombies.  Eventually we both fell asleep -- but not without wondering (at least once) what the h*ll we had gotten ourselves into.

(2 Karats and a Kid) A promise fulfilled - November 2, 2010

Mommy-ism #3:  

Absolutely nothing happens by chance -- there is a divine hand guiding us along the way.

November 2, 2010.

Since we had to be at the hospital at 6:30 am, Patrick and I woke up that morning around 4:00 am and were packed and ready to go by 5:45 am.  Patrick, the epitome of "calm, cool, and collected," was a nervous wreck which I would NOT have noticed had it not been for the fact that it took him about ten minutes to get out of the parking space in our garage.

As he tried backing his truck out of the space the first time, he ran into a cement column that almost completely took off his driver side mirror.  He adjusted himself and tried again only to run his SUV into the column for a SECOND time.

I realized that my husband was on the brink of a nervous breakdown so I just put my hand on his knee to try to calm his nerves.  In perfect form he said to himself, "Well, I got my woman.  I don't need to impress anyone with my car.  MAN, I wish I could smoke a black and mild right now...."

Once we arrived at the hospital things moved rapidly.  We checked in and an hour later I was in the operating room.   The surgeons walked me through every thing that was happening.  My awesome OB/GYN was there to conduct the c-section.  There was even an elderly black woman there who reminded me of my grandmother who was there to hold my hand until my husband came into the operating room.   After about 30 minutes of the surgeons doing "something" my doctor told me that I would feel the pressure of an elephant on my abdomen -- then after moments of silence, I heard the most magical sound in the world,  Roman yelling to the world, "Hey world...I'm here!"  I was truly in love in the instant that I heard his voice!

He was 10 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 inches of glorious thickness!

It was the most wonderful, beautiful, and calm experience that I could have hoped for.  Yet, it wasn't until days later that I realized how serendipitous the experience actually was or the significance of Roman being born on that date.

Six years prior, on November 2, 2004 my father laid unconscious in the emergency room of a hospital after a traumatic injury to his head.  After several seizures, the doctors were able to momentarily stabilize him and I was able to see him for the first time.  As I stood over his bed with my mother, I felt compelled to pray.  The words of my prayer came from someplace outside of myself but during that time I told my father that I knew that he would live to meet his all of his grandchildren.  As he laid unconscious I told him to hold on to that image and asked him to squeeze my hand if he could hear me and he did.

Through the years, my father suffered numerous setbacks pertaining to his health but I believed the prayer that I spoke that day with such certainty that the promise of him meeting his grandchildren was oftentimes the only thing that I could hold on to when I didn't know if he would be okay.

So after it was all said and done, I realized that all those weeks of worrying were truly for naught.  Not only did Roman come "on-time", but the sequence of events that led to his arrival into the world conspired to make his birthday the PERFECT DAY.

(2 Karats and a Kid) November 1, 2010 (One day prior to Delivery)

Mommy-ism #2:  

Life is a sequence of experiences where we come to realize that living up to a standard of "normal" is not only boring -- but keeps us from enjoying the EXTRAordinary life that God has put right in front of our face.

November 1, 2010.

As I laid down on the examination table, I held my breath while the ultrasound technician took measurements of the baby.  We had come to know each other very well as this was my 3rd ultrasound in the past month and I had come to be known as the "little girl having the 10 pound baby that is two weeks overdue" around the office.

"Well...the baby is measuring at...10 pounds, 9 ounces.  10 pounds, 5 ounces.  10 pounds, 7 ounces," the technician said timidly.

I looked at my mom.  My mom looked at me with a combination of sympathy and amusement.

Up until this point, I had held on to the hope that I would have a "normal" delivery.  I'd be at home on the couch eating cheesecake, frenchfries, and ice tea.  While watching the "Hangover" for the 120th time, I would be in the middle of a hearty laugh when my water would break.  I'd call Patrick who would stop whatever dental procedure he was conducting and would rush home.  After running around the house for 30 minutes trying to make sure that we had everything -- we'd rush off to the hospital where after 24 hours in labor - I give one final push and PRESTO!  -- Baby Roman would finally make his entrance into the world.


After 41 weeks and 5 days of pregnancy; after gaining 45 pounds of extra human, fluid, and fat; after 3 months and sleeping in a loveseat; and after 2 months of mild hemmoroids  -- I finally let go of my expectations of an "ideal" labor and excepted the reality of my situation.

The look of exhaustion on my face must have spoke volumes.  My OB/GYN didn't ask what I wanted to do, she simply said -- "Okay.  I am going to get on the phone to book an OR for tomorrow morning at 8:30.  You and your husband will have to be at Northwestern by 6:30 am.  Don't eat anything after 9:00 pm."

I nodded in agreement and asked my mother to pass me my phone as I texted my husband the following message:

"Hey babe.  Take off tomorrow.  We are going to have the baby tomorrow at 8:30."

The evening that followed was surreal.  After months of anticipation and weeks of uncertainty I knew without a shadow of a doubt that in less than 24 hours I would be a mother.  I wondered momentarily if I was ready.  I wondered if my husband was ready.  I wondered if I'd feel like I missed out on what a "real" labor was supposed to feel like.  I wondered if I would wish that I could stick the baby back "in" once he was here.

My thoughts raced throughout the night pondering exactly what the next day held in store for me and how my life would change.  But no sooner than when I finally drifted off to sleep around midnight was it time for me to wake up to go to the hospital to have the baby.

(2 Karats and a Kid) ...when your due date comes....and goes.

Mommy-ism #1:  

You can't control when a baby will be born anymore than you can control when a baby is conceived.  So relax, chill out, and enjoy some cheesecake and ice tea. 

Ahhhh, let's see...where did we leave off?

On October 21, I wrote my last entry in "The Baby Bump" and I was one day away from my greatly anticipated due date.  Although I was hanging on to the fleeting hope that I'd have my baby the next day, from the skeptical look on my OB/GYN's face when she examined me two days prior, I knew deep down that going into labor was unlikely.

So in a nutshell, I was p*ssed.

When you go through the emotional, physical, mental, and hormonal changes of a 40 week pregnancy you try REALLY hard to stay positive towards the end.

You end all sentences with "God willing."
You start all sentences with "I pray."
You try your darnest not to make fun of anybody (not midgets, not porn stars, not even reality tv personalities) because you don't want any negativity to seep into your unborn baby's body.

So when  my due date had come and gone, and I was officially 40+ weeks pregnant, it seemed like the harder I tried to maintain my "mental feng shui" the more the universe and random mofos tested me.

"Girl, please tell me you are due TODAY!"  chuckled the homeless man standing outside of Calypso Cafe.

You no teeth having mutha-*****, I thought.

Surely God was testing my humanity.

"Ma'am are you SURE you aren't having triplets??"  The teenage cashier would ask me EVERY time she saw me in Treasure Island grocery store (purchasing cheesecake nonetheless).

"No, sweetie.  Just ONE big boy..." I would say as I grit my teeth, smiled and walk away.

It seemed as though the final test of whether I was worthy of being a mother was whether I could make it to labor without cursing somebody out.

Even a well meaning family friend almost got cursed out in a deep, passionate, forehead sweating non-Christian way when she called to "check-in" on me and made mention of:

- how her first child was 4 weeks late, contracted a virus, and almost died,
- how her third child was delivered via c-section and almost died, and how her....

[Well, to be honest that's where I hung up the phone...]

I said a prayer afterwards and  hoped that she would forgive me but I had a feeling that Jesus secretly approved of my actions.  I was coming down to my last nerve and I had to preserve it for somebody who would be in the labor room with me.

Words can not truly express the level of pure defeat that I felt when I went to the doctor a week and a half after my due date and the doctor meekly said, "yep, your cervix is still hard as a dilation yet."

All I could think was "W.T.F."

How could I make it through 40+ weeks of pregnancy without any major health issues but my body suddenly couldn't put itself into labor??  This was the one thing that my body was made to do but for whatever reason it couldn't quite get it together.

Deep down, I hoped something wasn't wrong with me or more than that, I hoped nothing was wrong with the baby.  But as most women do, I hid my anxiety deep down and put on a brave face for my husband, my parents, our family, and friends because I knew that while I could handle my own anxiety, I couldn't handle the worrying stares that I had began to get when people learned that I hadn't delivered yet.

I had tried almost every natural way to induce labor known to man.  I had walked on the treadmill for 3.5 hours, I ate pineapples everyday, I drank red raspberry tea three times a day, had a pre-natal massage, rolled my feet on golf balls, and did jumping jacks when no one was looking.  I was too big to have sex so I just would close my eyes and would imagine the "good times" when sex wouldn't give me an asthma attack, a leg cramp, or a backache because I was 40 pounds lighter.

On my next doctor's appointment, the reason behind my child's late arrival was revealed.  Roman was measuring at OVER 9 lbs and 8 ounces!!!   I felt so bad because I knew that I had been eating a slice of cheesecake a day for the past 3 weeks to make myself feel better but not to make my baby a contestant for "Fat Camp."

After my next (and final) doctor's appointment I went from anxious to petrified.

Just when I had began to wrap my mind around a football coming out of my va-jay-jay it turned out that I had a Mississippi-sized watermelon up in me.  Every time I thought of the baby being over 9 pounds I'd come close to tears because I so desperately wanted to have a "natural" labor.  [And by natural I mean a highly drugged and "numbed"  vaginal delivery...]

So all I could do was wait.  Wait for a decision to be made to induce.  Wait for a decision to be made to either have a c-section or not.  Wait for the next chapter of my life to begin...

(Mommy JD) What you talkin 'bout Gregory?

Is my son the only one who talks to himself? I’m up early (well earlier than him) in the office checking emails and I can literally hear him talking to himself. And I don’t mean just jibberish or singing. I mean this boy is having a full out conversation with himself- or an imaginary friend who shares his same name. I’ve heard him do this before too. He does it a lot when he’s sitting in timeout. “Why time out Gregory? Why time out?” “Cause....not being nice.” Obviously he is mimicking the conversation his father has with him when he puts him in time out. It makes me chuckle every time. He also talks himself down from being afraid. “Don’t worry Gregory, it’s ok.” Or “Stop crying Gregory, stop crying.”

Okay, maybe he’s reading to himself right now. I can’t really decipher what he’s saying. But his little chipmunk voice sounds so cute- I love that he’s talking more. And I know he loves it too because clearly most of the time he is just talking to hear himself talk. My only concern is where a 2 year old learns to lie. A prime example is the potty. Q: "Gregory, did you pee pee in the potty?" A: "Yeah!" (He did not.) Q: "Gregory, did you boo boo?" A: "No, no boo boo." (He did). Okay, maybe he's not lying. Maybe he's just in denial- another set back of this whole potty training process. I digress....
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