All The News That's Fit To Print

Good news: The mastitis is gone. I'd like to thank Teyla, who nursed constantly for the last two weeks, and my new best friends, dicloxacillin and cephalexin.

Bad news: My three-week-old now believes Mom is a pacifier who will magically solve all her problems, including the need to eat, to drink and to be soothed into dreamland.

Good news: The wounds I incurred from constantly nursing an infant with the strongest sucking reflex in the galaxy (she could peel paint off a dresser, I swear) are slowly healing. This means Teyla can now latch-on without me sending desperate prayers to heaven to "kill me now, please, kill me now."

Bad news: However, I am still curling my toes and breaking out in an involuntary sweat for the first two minutes of each nursing session.

Good news: I lost seven pounds since I came home from the hospital three weeks ago tomorrow. And I wasn't even trying! Go-go breastfeeding!

Bad news: I still look like a slightly warped number 8, no matter which direction you look at me. This is causing me some mental distress, as I normally look like a 1. The lumps. They are very lumpy.

Good news: Having a new baby is an automatic excuse to stay indoors all day and do nothing. And I do mean nothing. All of a sudden, making the beds and taking a shower in the same day seems like a major accomplishment.

Bad news: Unfortunately, the ability to get nothing done all day is also causing me mental distress. I like to multi-task. I like to cross things off my to-do list. I like to be In Control and In Charge and Accomplish Much. So cutting back my day-to-day expectations is painful.

Good news: Our high today is 12. (Yes, this is good news. Stay with me, people.) Our high yesterday was -2. The wind chill was -37. Only in Minnesota can 12 feel like a heat wave. And it's possible that yesterday's frigid temperatures were the worst of the winter. We're heading toward spring now, baby!

Bad news: Spring doesn't come to our neck of the woods until mid-April, which is still four months away.

Good news: My husband will change diapers. Even dirty ones. (Michael, are you reading this?!?)

Bad news: The stabbing pain of a thousand gas bubbles make for an unhappy baby.

Good news: I'm writing again! On the blog! And the baby is sleeping!

Bad news: She's waking up, and I still haven't made the beds this morning. And it's time to pick up my son from preschool.

Good news: Even though I'm not posting as much here, I'm reading a lot out there. Even if you don't see me, I'm lurking. Thank you for keeping me entertained, informed and encouraged. The last time I nursed an infant, my online reading material consisted of BabyCenter bulletin boards ("Like Junior High. Only With Less Maturity!") and news sites. You have saved me from that fate this time around, and I'm forever grateful.


I'm tempted to start this post with two words: recurring mastitis. But that's just a shameful cry for sympathy.

Besides, while the mastitis did indeed return (twice), I'm better at this point. Mostly anyway. I start a new antibiotic tomorrow, to ensure the evil bacteria is beaten and banished from my body. But the fever has been gone for three days now, a good sign. And I'm blogging again, an even better sign.

Of course, I'm still dealing with soreness and cracking and all sorts other unpleasantness on a part of my body that shall not be named lest Google tag me for all sorts of equally unpleasant searches. I'm also experiencing a fair amount of lacto-congestion.

However, I have faith that this, too, shall pass. I nursed both of my other children for a year, after we forged through that excruciating first month. So we'll just keep moving ahead.

But man -- Veronica spoke deep truth when she commented on the last post, "Breastfeeding is hard enough when it's easy. If that makes any sense." It does, Veronica. It does.

Speaking of congestion, I have to tell you that even even when I was lying on my bed, covered with blankets, shaking like a maraca and drenched with sweat, even then I was composing blog posts in my brain. They were all ridiculous drivel, but still. I've missed writing here. In fact, I've missed it so much, my brain is now clogged with all sorts of thoughts and ideas and half-written posts.

I think I have blogo-congestion.

I'll try to work it out this weekend with hot showers, massage and lots of Tylenol. Or at least, lots of hot coffee.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures to tide you over. And since the masses have spoken, I'll resist posting any mastitis photos. Geesh! You people are so picky.

The sisters. Natalie is thinking about suing us for custody rights.

The new big brother with his little sister. Connor is mostly neutral about "Baby Teyla" at this point, although he's fascinated by all the noises she makes.

Daddy and daughter. I love this picture, because it shows her size. (Which is now 7 pounds, 11 ounces, thank you very much. The breastfeeding can't be going that badly.)

The princess sleeping after a mid-afternoon bath. (Notice the fuzzy hair. I love that about babies.)

And a smile in the morning. She's sleeping four-hour stretches at night right now, so she's pretty content when she first wakes up.

See you next week.

One Word


Just wanted you all to know I'm not ignoring you, nor have I fallen into a pit of baby blues despair. I've simply been shaking so badly due to the high fever, I couldn't type.


Be back soon. With pictures.

A Little Link Love

I can't seem to get much done right now. It's so much more fun to watch Teyla sleep.

But while my laundry needs folding and my bathroom is growing fuzz, I am somehow managing to stay up on my blog reading. Because I can do that while nursing. Which is what I do about 18 hours a day right now.

Thus, I'm posting a little link love -- the posts I've read over the last few days that made me think, pray and laugh so hard I almost scared my baby. (And can we just say -- riotous laughter + latched on nursing baby = OW!)
Have fun reading! And stay warm. Because while I have no doubt some of you are sitting in a puddle of 70-degree sunshine, it's stinkin' cold here right now. (Yes, that's a technical term.) As my favorite local blogger said this morning:
This is the warmest day we will see this week. It’s 2 below right now. Now you understand why the Vikings would set their beards on fire before running into battle. There should be some modern version of this, no? A nice warming gel you could put on your face and set on fire. Put on a tight fireproof cap, slather the fire-sauce on your face, flick a Bic, and shovel the walk in comfort. Only one thing: until it was released to the general public, we’d have to keep the invention completely secret from the potheads.

Anyway, it’s cold.

Thoughts from Room 250

First, let me say -- once again, and I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record here -- that I was incredibly warmed by your sincere congratulations this week. Thank you for helping me celebrate the arrival of our sweet little girl. I've had a smile on my face 24 hours a day lately, and you are no small part of that.

Second, I feel the need to set the record straight about a few things that I've been pondering ever since Sparkle's arrival on Wednesday.

Permission to speak freely, Captain?

For starters, I feel I may have led several of you astray. Sparkles Diamond is not our daughter's real name. That's just what Natalie, our sweet six-year-old daughter, wanted to name her baby sister. But since it sounds vaguely like the name of a 1960s Las Vegas showgirl, my husband and I vetoed her selection. (Although it has served us well as a nickname until we could come up with something better. Corey and I are terrible at deciding on names for our kids before they are born.)

I'm sure I'll still slip from time to time and call her Sparkles on my blog, but to end the confusion -- her real name is Teyla (pronounced TAY-lah) which is a feminine version of the male Hebrew name Telah. It's in the Bible, but the real reason we chose it has to do with its meaning, which is roughly translated "greenness" or "moistness."

To us, it carries the connotation of spring and freshness and new growth. And in the four years since our last baby, God has miraculously worked a "telah" in our dry and barren marriage. Our restored relationship is a work of redemption and grace that defies explanation. Teyla's name is a way for us to magnify The One who has made all things new.

So -- meet Teyla, the girl behind the Sparkles.

Another thing. Several of you mentioned that I looked impossibly awake and alert for an early morning induction. There is a reason for that.


Moving on: For the record, Teyla is the smallest baby I have ever given birth to.
Our firstborn, Natalie, was 8 pounds, 11 ounces (41 weeks). Connor was 8 pounds, 3 ounces (39 weeks). So both Corey and I were stunned when we were told Teyla only weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces -- especially since I gained the same amount of weight this pregnancy as the others.

(Curses be upon the Christmas cookies forever and ever.)

Translation: She is hopelessly tiny. We just can't get over it. If you were a fly on our wall right now, you'd hear: "Look at her little ears!" "My fist is bigger than her head!" "She is JUST SO TINY!"


We are completely in love with this little thing.

So now we're home -- since those pesky police were able to break through the barricades I'd put up to keep the hospital from discharging me last night. I truly cannot say enough good things about our stay -- even apart from The Blessed Epidural.

The nurses? Fantastic. Attentive. Caring.

My doctor? Supportive. Friendly. Encouraging.

The food? ... Well, not too bad, honestly. It was a little bland -- and in Minnesota, where much of the population considers ketchup too spicy, that's saying something -- but I didn't have to cook it, which was a huge treat.

Overall? (And come close here, because I'm going to whisper.) It was almost like staying at a spa. They kept a fully stocked snack bar right outside my room. (My husband used it to make me orange-cranberry juice cocktails. They tasted like the nectar of the gods to me. I drank at least 20 during our stay.) Physical therapists came around every day to see if I needed a massage. The nursing staff even practices aromatherapy. I had peppermint oil in my labor room, and before I was discharged yesterday, one of the nurses drew me a bath scented with lavender.

It was relaxing. And special. And I got to spend tons of time admiring Teyla with my husband.

Or maybe that just proves that I'm a mom with young children at home who needs to get out more. I don't know.

I just know I was sad to leave last night.

Besides, whenever we leave the hospital, my heart squeezes a little. Because I recognize that time is moving on. Teyla was just born Wednesday, and surely, she's still very young and tiny (have I said that yet?) and full of promise. But the clock keeps ticking, no matter how much I want it to stop and let me savor a moment for just a bit longer.

But those are quite melancholic thoughts for such a precious weekend.

You know what? My birthday is tomorrow. But I've already been given my favorite gift for this year.

God's goodness is extravagant.

She's Here

Have I overplayed my suspense card yet? Sorry y'all -- although the e-mails and comments and prayers you sent today and yesterday truly touched my heart. Thanks for your prayers, for your support, for your laughter and for your friendship.

And now -- I'm oh-so-pleased to tell you that Sparkles Diamond Love Well entered the world at 3:30 this afternoon. I'm just as pleased to tell you that it was the easiest, most uncomplicated birth imaginable. God answered our prayers in such a big way.

I'm under a pretty strict Internet time limit at this point (commandant's Corey's orders), but I had to at least pop in to share a few pictures.

We were admitted to the hospital around 7:30 this morning. I was given the cutest band to hold the monitors on my rather large tummy.

Around 10:30, I was given the blessed epidural. I wasn't having kick-butt contractions at that point, but the whole hospital staff here was so sensitive to the fact that I've never had an easy, non-stressful labor process. So they urged me to go ahead and get it before my doctor broke my water.

Shortly thereafter, I decided to do some deep meditating to pass the time.

OK, maybe not deep meditating. But still.

(And may I just thank the scores of you who put up funny posts today? Because it was a great distraction.)

Just to prove that I really was thinking about y'all, here's the blog post I was working on before my blood pressure took a dip.

2:00 PM

Well my friends, here I am -- sitting half upright in a hospital bed, wearing the most fetching hospital gown around (I keep thinking What Would Big Mama say about this style?) and feeling very little of my legs.

That's right -- I've been epiduralized, blessed be the name of the LORD. And to further delight me, the Almighty put me at a hospital with wireless Internet access.
I literally laughed out loud when I saw that on a sign this morning. I truly think He did that just to remind me that He doesn't just give us life, He gives it abundantly, beyond what we can even ask or imagine.

At last check, I was 6 centimeters dilated.
And then, I got woozy (as Madame Blueberry would say) and had to lay down for a while.

By 3:15, I was ready to push -- although, to my utter amazement and delight, I still couldn't feel a thing. And at 3:27, Sparkles was born.

She is absolutely perfect -- 7 pounds, 4 ounces, lots of dark hair like her Daddy. Since she wasn't in the birth canal long, she has no bruising or swelling or other complications that mar a girl's good looks.

Both of our other children were born late at night. So the idea that I could have a baby and then have dinner was startling to me. But it worked out well for Natalie and Connor, who got to spend the evening with us at the hospital, admiring their new little sister.

Sparkles had her first bath, much to her chagrin. She let us know in no uncertain terms that this was not in her contract.

But my, oh my -- how that first bath does tire them out. She's sleeping now, so it would probably be wise of me to do the same.

Good night! And thank you for your prayers. They meant so much to us. And by the way, what are you doing up at this hour? Shouldn't you be in bed?


Excuses, Excuses

Just wanted you all to know that blogging may be light this week, as Sparkles Diamond will be making her appearance on Wednesday, January 9.

We've decided to schedule an induction, rather than wait for her to make up her mind, because our last baby (now four-year-old Connor) came rather quickly. I was dilated five centimeters a week before his due date, and he ended up being born 45 minutes after we got to the hospital. That was cutting it a little too close for my husband, who really thought he might end up delivering his son in the back of the Durango.

And personally, I'd rather get to the hospital in time for some pain medication this time. (Read: the blessed epidural.) It was somewhat of a moot point for Connor's delivery, since the rural hospital near us at the time didn't offer epidurals. But now? I'm back in civilization, and I'd like to avail myself of its benefits.

I plan to take my laptop to the hospital because I'm addicted I want to be able to share my joy as soon as Sparkles arrives on Wednesday. And who knows? Due to nervous energy the next few days, I may end up posting random stuff every hour on the hour. Because when I get nervous, I tend to chatter. (Again, my husband loudly proclaims, "AMEN!")

And truly, there's something a tad unnerving about scheduling childbirth. "So, what day next week would you like to get hit by a truck and feel the pain of a thousand red-hot suns?" "Ummm, how about Wednesday?"

Of course, my husband and I covet your prayers this week. We are thankful for God's blessings in letting many of the details of Sparkle's birth fall into place, not the least of which is the the arrival tomorrow night of my Mom who will take care of Connor and Natalie during our hospital stay. And for a wonderful doctor, who had compassion on my husband's fear that I will deliver a baby in our bathroom this time. And for epidurals, thank you Lord.

We're excited to meet this little girl and behold for ourselves God's creation -- His poiema, His work of art.

See you soon, my friends.

Color Me Blushing

Well. Well, well, well.

To say I'm overwhelmed with love doesn't even begin to describe how I feel right now. I'm just floored. Maybe even close to speechless. So while mentioning this in public makes me squirm as much as the thought of giving birth next week -- and I'll have an epidural for that, thank you very much -- I have to go on record and say how humbled, honored and touched I am by the awards that have come my way in recent days.

First to take me by surprise was the You Lift Me Up award, given to me by Julie at A Joyful Life.
(If I could, I'd pass the award on to the Bella Band that's currently in charge holding up my pants. But that's another post.) Julie said all sorts of sweet things about me and my blog. But my favorite? She called me fun. FUN! For a sanguine, there's no higher compliment.

And truly, the humbling thing about getting this award from Julie is that she encourages me. Julie is funny, thoughtful and altogether real. Right now, she's braving a Michigan winter to help out her sister who is experiencing some serious side-effects after an emergency c-section last weekend. I love her servant's heart, her willingness to drop everything for those she loves and her joyful attitude in the midst of it all. Now that's a woman worthy of a Josh Groban serenade.

Next to come -- the Underblog Award, passed on to me by Lisa at Take 90 West.
It's an award designed to shine the spotlight on blogs that might not attract the same number of eyeballs that other blogs do -- you know, the blogs that have traffic to rival LAX, the blogs that give away $500 gift cards with the same nonchalance that I eat yet another Christmas cookie (which are starting to go stale, by the way, thank you Lord), the blogs that soldier on in the midst of The Black Plague and still manage to be wickedly funny.

And once again, the funny thing about getting this particular award from this particular blogger is that I would have handed it right back to her if she hadn't tagged me first. Lisa is a fellow Midwesterner (which is saying something, considering most blogs I frequent are written south of the Mason-Dixon Line), she's fall-down, snort-coffee-through-your-nose funny, and she's not afraid to open a can of whoop a** when the time is right -- and I love that about her. Lisa's only been blogging for a few months, and I sincerely hope she's discovered by hundreds, nay, thousands of new readers in 2008 who will be just as charmed by her humor, her honesty and her ability to personally understand wind chill as I am.

And then yesterday. Oh my. One of my all-time favorite bloggers, Lisa at The Preacher's Wife, slapped me (in the good sense) with The Daily Dose award.
It's a new award thought up by her sweet friend Xandra to highlight blogs that (in Xandra's words) (that's what the quotation marks mean) (see all the things I learned by being a journalist for all those years?) "you've discovered that you can't possibly live without. They make you laugh, cry, think and feel connected ever time you read a post. They give you a thrill as you see them loading into your browser and you get an equally satisfying thrill when you see that they have commented on your blog."

Wow. What a heady description. And once again (are you seeing a pattern here?), I feel like this is an award I would give to Lisa, if she hadn't scooped me. Lisa is hysterical and charming and altogether real. Maybe more importantly, she's completely in love with Jesus, and her passion to know Him and make Him known overflows from her soul and splashes onto everyone she meets -- even her imaginary, Internet friends like me.

In a perfect world, I would now turn around and pass on these amazing awards. But I'll be honest -- my brain is too wrapped up with details about Sparkle's birth right now to think that abstractly. Do you think I can get a pass for labor? Because I totally intend to have my very own awards ceremony here in a few weeks. (Think the Academy Awards without the stick-on dresses.) (And without Joan Rivers, because she creeps me out.)

I just need more time to gather my brain cells and make them function with purpose.

(To which my husband would loudly proclaim, "AMEN!")

Until then, I'll just live in the glow from these awards. It's warm here, and I look better with a little something-something anyway. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I'm tickled pink.

Let Them Eat Snow

It's cold here today. Really cold. The kind of cold that causes your nostril hairs to freeze up the moment you walk outside and dare to breathe.

Or, as one of my favorite local bloggers wrote this morning:

At present it is five below; it has actually gotten colder as the day goes on, which can only mean that the sun is beginning to shut down, and will gutter out by 1 PM, leaving the planet to freeze. Once the enormity of the situation is generally known, civilization should collapse, possibly by suppertime. There will be a brief period of brutal social stratification, after which those who have amassed the most resources will survive a few months longer than the masses. But only a few months.

So don’t worry about returning those movies you rented, is what I’m saying.

But the sun is shining (at least, I assume that's what the bright spherical orb is in the sky), which can only be a good thing after a week of gray skies and St. John's Wort and butter. Lots of butter.

So. I'm blaming this on the fact that the sun brightened my day today.

Yes. My children are eating snow for breakfast.

In my defense, they requested it. After I chipped away the ice holding our screen door shut, it was a fairly simple procedure to scrape some snow into a bowl for them. And they were happy and entertained for at least 10 minutes.

Is this normal winter behavior, or am I starting to lose it?

(Although, now that I think about it, The Snow Diet might work wonders for all those seeking to lose weight now that we're in January. "Great crunchy texture with no calories! And it doesn't taste like grapefruit!")