Friday, July 24, 2009


I have a love/hate relationship with books. I absolutely love good fantasy, and generally devour it in a matter of days, if not hours. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another genre that captures my interest nearly as completely.

Sadly, good fantasy is supremely difficult to find. I have a few series that I would recommend: The Wheel of Time, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Deathgate Cycle, Dealing with Dragons, the Mistborn Trilogy, and the Kingkiller Chronicles, to name- well, most* of them, really. Quite sadly, much of fantasy is gore or sex, in varying degrees. I don't mind reading some violence, as long as the whole of the book is not geared toward the next battle. I don't like -at all!- reading about sex. But there is so much more that could be had in these books! I want good characters, characters who grow and develop and deal with battles that are as much internal as they are external. So much of the time, I go to the bookstore or the library and struggle for an hour or more to try to find one good book. It has gotten so that I don't go to the bookstore if I can help it, simply because there is so much to choose from, so little to recommend itself, and everything is so expensive!

However, as I said before, I devour books. When I find a good one, putting it down becomes the most difficult thing in the world to me. So, the other day, we went to the library in search of something for me to read while feeding Cara. (Nursing gives one a lot of down time...)

I searched the aisles for several minutes before finding a book called Tathea written by Anne Perry. Right next to it (delightfully) was the sequel, called Come Armageddon. I picked up the first one and read the inside cover. The writing was interesting, and the concept fresh and new. A tiny thrill went down my spine as I realized that maybe, just maybe, this book was something I was looking for! I pulled the sequel off the shelf without reading the cover and brought them both home.

As I delved into its pages, I realized that Tathea was the fantastical story of the Gospel. Essentially, it seeks to discover how the Gospel might be presented on another world, one in which the Atonement had not taken place, but was still in effect (as the nature of it is eternal). How might the teachings of the Lord come forth in a world where the Savior would never walk as mortal man? What methods would be used? What organization would be formed? Who would be the messenger?

The only information given about the author is that she generally writes Victorian novels, and that this book is, in her estimation, her most important work so far. As a member of the LDS faith and an aspiring author, I can understand why. I am certain she is also a member. There are, essentially, verses straight out of Nephi. So many philosophies presented are the teachings we receive every week in Church. She even paints a picture of what the council in heaven may have been like, with the two plans presented and the Savior's chosen.

It is interesting seeing the various representations of good and evil, and the relative innocence with which the characters are portrayed. It is not as though their struggles are small- in many ways they are much bigger than anything I have ever faced. Yet, their struggle with evil, because it is so new to them, seems so unsophisticated compared to the things we see today. It is also interesting, given the way the book is written, to see the gospel in a different light. It is almost as if, in reading through this book, I could better understand what it would be like to hear the gospel for the first time. I wouldn't say it was my favorite book of all time, but it is a good read- not only because it sparks new ideas but also because the writing and the characters are genuinely interesting. I would recommend it, although I don't know to whom.

Is that weird?

Anyway, so read it... or don't. If you do, I'd be curious to know your thoughts. Email me at when you're done. :)

P.S. I am really long-winded. Sorry about that.

*There are also a couple of scifi series that I would recommend, but in my opinion scifi and fantasy are blurred together way too often. Also- in case you were wondering, I did not forget either Harry Potter or Twilight. I love Twilight, but with reservations. I don't like Harry Potter at all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Mommy Phenomenon

It's the craziest thing. I'm a scant week and a half into Mommyhood, and already I've discovered new abilities. I can survive on less sleep, use one hand to complete work that should require five, and have developed an uncanny ability to find anything. I can handle bank statements, cleaning the kitchen, and laundry all at once. I keep a catalog in my head of the things that need to be done and when they need to be done by. I can run my own life, my daughter's life, and keep track of my husband's life. I go grocery shopping, clothes shopping, birthday shopping, and always answer the telephone in a pleasant voice. I even noticed, the other day, two little bumps forming on the back of my head. I'll have to figure out how other moms keep them hidden while still managing to see everything...

Heehee. Not. Truthfully, I'm still tired and sore, and completely sick of it. I haven't cooked in at least two weeks. I try to keep up with it, but my house is definitely more messy than I would prefer. Half the time I sleep through Cara's crying at night, and only rouse when Ryan wakes me with a gentle touch, having already changed her diaper and stayed up for half an hour trying to soothe her. I am so grateful for all the help we have received from family and friends, for without it I would truly be a wreck.

There is one superpower, though, that is worth mentioning. Through the nine months of carrying her, somehow Cara came to know me and to recognize me. She is so cared for and loved- especially by Ryan. He holds her, and talks to her, and plays with her, and is amazing to her in every way. In all reality, I'm probably not quite as kind with her. I love her with all my heart, but I don't go to her side at every whimper. I often let her get up to a lusty cry before I try to help her. But somehow, even when I don't do anything but hold her, she usually quiets when she's in my arms. Others will bend over backwards to make her happy, and she usually is happy, but even though I do nothing but hold her, she will get quiet and know that everything is going to be okay. It's a really neat feeling.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Progress Notes

Just a quick little post to let everyone know... we got Cara tested again yesterday, and her numbers had dropped so low that they ran the test again, just to make sure it was correct. The jaundice is gone! They're coming to pick up the lights probably tomorrow, and in the meantime she's getting used to sleeping in her own bed. Alleluia!

Also, my Mom has been here for two weeks already to help me with everything. She's been completely wonderful! My Dad flew in on Friday, but has to get back to California to run his business. Hence, even though she's less than a week old, she was blessed today (I guess technically it's yesterday, now) in Church. It was beautiful.

Beyond that, she's eating well (though every feeding takes at least an hour!) and as long as she gets a good meal, she sleeps well during the night. She'll give us at least 4 hours between feedings, which is completely awesome. Ryan is amazing... he usually wakes up to her fussing long before I do. He takes care of her until she starts full-on crying, at which point I stay up with her. I'm not getting quite as much sleep as I would like, but I'm not complaining in the slightest! She's such a good, pleasant, happy baby!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cara Libby Roberts

Most important things first: Welcome to the world, little Cara!

Fun Facts:
She was born on Monday, July 6, 2009 at 2:09 p.m.
She weighed 7 lbs, 6 oz. at birth.
She was 19 inches long.
She has blue eyes.
She has some brown hair which may end up being curly.
She has 10 of the cutest little fingers and toes you've ever seen.
She squeaks!


The experience:
Wow. I like the way one of my nurses said it: "It's kindof a primal experience."

We woke up early on Monday morning, and while I was showering Ryan went and bought two boxes of doughnuts- one for my Mom and sister and one for the nurses. We had decided to do that for them the night before, mostly because I was actually quite angry that the medical professionals decided I needed to be induced, and I figured it would be better to go into the hospital with an expression of goodwill and an open mind rather than actually getting angry at the poor nurses who were trying to help us.

We arrived at the Orem Community hospital at 6:3o a.m. They checked us into the nicest room there. It was huge! It had the basic hospital bed, plus a few chairs and a couch that folded out into a bed. There was a bathroom with a jetted tub, a tv with a vcr and dvd player, the monitors and other birthing equipment... it was cool. We were very impressed.

My nurses' names were Cherie and Denise. Cherie was a NICU nurse who was orienting to be a Labor and Delivery nurse. Mine was to be the first natural birth she would see. She was very curious about the Hypnobabies course I had studied and asked me a bunch of questions about it. Denise was very knowledgeable about it and taught her nurse etiquette with a hypnobabies birth (like not talking about "pain levels" and such). It was neat having them both there.

They tried to start me on Pitocin, but Cherie had a hard time getting the IV in my hand. She tried first with my left hand, bruised me, and then moved onto my right hand. That one worked. I got all trussed up with the tube taped to my hand and the IV dripping into me. A little while later, my midwife came in and started talking about breaking my water. I told her I didn't want her to break my water. She told me it was part of being induced, but said she would give me a couple hours to see if the Pitocin alone would start labor. Then she left.

Ryan and I sat and waited. Contractions began. They felt the same as the practice labor I'd been having for two weeks. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Ryan was slightly bored. We played cards. We watched most of You've Got Mail. Occasionally, Cherie or Denise would come in to check on me. Periodically they would raise the level of Pitocin until, eventually, I was receiving the maximum dosage. The contractions were still unimpressive.

Finally, near the end of our movie, Jennifer (the midwife) returned. She told me she would have to break my water. I consented. I'll admit, I wonder at the wisdom of that decision, now. It is nice to not be pregnant, now, but I was cheated out of the experience of a truly natural childbirth. I have no idea what it is like to have an uninduced birthing experience. I may refuse induction for my next one.

Anyway, she broke my water, and then left. When the next contraction hit, all thought left me. It was like having the most severe menstrual cramp I've ever had- and I've had some intense ones. I had no idea what to do with that pain. I grabbed Ryan's hand and squeezed- with the tips of my fingers. Poor guy. I bruised him and almost cut his skin with my nails before he was able to get a cloth around his hand to protect himself. He was worried. He'd definitely never seen me in pain like that. I tend to get very calm when I'm truly distressed. I retreat inside myself and don't come out until I'm ready. He was expecting something more like that, I think. This was on the other side of that, like I'd gone through that calm space and found no refuge, and so I did things with my body, like clenching my hands, to try to relieve the pain.

That first contraction subsided, and I asked Ryan to turn off the lights. There was still some pain, there, but it wasn't like the contraction. I tried, at that point, to listen to the hypnobabies scripts on my ipod. They helped, to some degree, simply because the lady's voice was familiar and soothing. However, it very quickly got to the point that I wasn't hearing or understanding what she said, and I couldn't hear or respond to the nurses or midwives around me, either. I hadn't practiced nearly enough with the hypnobabies scripts for them to be as useful as they should have been, and I know enough about how I deal with pain that I wasn't really sure I'd be using them anyway. I was nice to have the resources, but when all is said and done, I really just used what my body naturally does.

A quick note: I wanted to go natural, but I'd heard that that was more difficult with an induced labor. The Pitocin slams you into contractions (in my opinion it's the water breaking that slams you into the contractions!) and doesn't give your body the time it wants to ease into the process. The contractions begin immediately trying to do more work than your body is ready for, which makes the whole process more jarring than it needs to be. This, of course, means that it is easier to ask for pain medication even when you had not planned on using it.

There were a few times, during those first few contractions, when I considered asking for meds. I didn't want an epidural, but it would have been nice to have had something to take the edge off the pain a little bit. At one point I asked Denise if the contractions would get more painful. She said they would not, but that the experience itself would get more intense. She said it was hard to explain. I don't think I would do any better- I wasn't coherent enough to analyze what was actually going on. But her words gave me courage. I believed I might be able to handle everything if the contractions didn't get any worse.

At one point, Cara's heart rate dropped. The midwife decided to take me off the telemetry monitor and instead use an internal monitor. For this, I needed to turn on my side. I stayed there for a few contractions before they had me turn back over. Surprisingly, I actually liked the internal monitor better than the telemetry monitor. It was a cord that I was mostly unaware of, whereas the telemetry monitors were big, bulky things strapped around my belly. However, being on my side hurt. The contractions were more intense there. I want to say I didn't like it, but the truth is that I could feel my body making the changes it needed to make to bring her down the birth canal. A little while after they had me turn onto my back, I actually elected to turn back onto my side, just to feel the differences that were happening in my body.

By that time, I had lost all but the last semblance of control. There was no pretense of breathing through contractions, or staying calm, or "creating a beautiful birthing experience." I couldn't speak much, and only understood about half of what was said to me. I did go to my "calm place" in between contractions (which they don't tell you is also painful), but during contractions I grunted, groaned, panted, moaned, and was generally incoherent. According to Ryan, at times I would say, "Come out, little one," or "Ow," or "Push on my knees" which the midwife would do and would help a lot. They don't tell you that your legs shake when you're contracting. It's a strange sensation.

I also remember one other phrase that I said... I had been having those very difficult contractions for awhile. I knew I wasn't going to be able to control myself, really, through them. But I knew what they were. I knew I had been through several of them. I was fairly certain that they weren't going to get any worse. It was with a sort of grim satisfaction that I said, "I can do this." Immediately I heard a chorus of "You can do this" from those around me. I don't know if they had heard me right or not; Ryan thinks some of them may have thought I said "I can't do this" and were trying to encourage me otherwise. Regardless, their words reinforced what I said and helped me to feel that, yes, I could do this.

They finally asked me to turn back onto my back. I do remember somebody saying that I moved better than girls who had had an epidural. That made me feel better about myself.

Then the contractions changed. They moved lower into my abdomen and back, didn't hurt quite as much, but became more intense. That lasted for about half an hour, with each contraction doing a little bit more. She came out at 2:09 and was placed on my belly, and was the most beautiful and amazing and awe-inspiring thing I'd ever seen.

I will say now that I didn't sugar-coat or soften the telling of this experience. Nor did I try to embellish or make it sound worse than it was. I tried to tell it as I felt it and saw it and understood it. I did this knowing that there are people who read my blog who have had babies, some that have never had babies, and some that are in the process of having babies. I also did this knowing what it is like to have never had a baby, and what it is like to be expecting, but to not know what exactly to expect. I did it for this purpose: I want to say that yes, it was hard. Being pregnant was hard. Giving birth was hard. It hurt a lot. Being a new Mommy is hard. However, with all of that, Ryan asked me yesterday whether or not it was worth it. Without hesitation and without blinking an eye, my answer was an unequivocal, immediate yes, spoken with a huge smile. I don't understand it all myself, but the love I have for my daughter truly is all-encompassing and worth every minute of every hardship I have been through and will go through for her.

That would be a good place to stop, but apparently I have a lot to say. :) First, I would like to give Ryan the credit he so richly deserves. He held my hand, he spoke to me, he was there for me through every moment of the delivery. Beyond that, I thank him for knowing me so well. When I was unaware of the world around me, when I could not speak, he was my voice. The machines that were supposed to be monitoring my contractions weren't working, and he was the one who knew when I was having contractions, when I needed a minute to recoup, and how much pain I was actually feeling. He supported me, and spoke to me of happy things, and smiled at me. He is also such a wonderful Daddy. He loves our little girl so much, and he takes such good care of the both of us. I am so grateful he is my husband.

And on a humorous note, I have noticed some interesting similarities between being a newborn baby and being a brand new Mommy. First, never before have you felt so poked and prodded. Second, (not to be crude) we both work very very hard pushing things out of our bodies. Third, (again, not to be crude...) we both expose our heinies to the air in rather embarassing ways. (Just at the hospital. Don't worry; I haven't become an exhibitionist!) Fourth, let's face it. We both have to wear diapers. :)

Things they don't tell you about giving birth/recovering: 1. Really, it's not just the contractions that are painful. Once the pain begins, it's continuous until... well, I'll let you know. :) 2. Those first few seconds after the baby comes out are amazing. You aren't pregnant anymore! And you get to hold this amazing miracle! 3. The first time you stand up after giving birth is wierd. Bizarre. You've had nine months of carrying this huge weight in front of you, and all of a sudden it's gone, and your stomach feels like it's going to flop onto the floor. 4. Holy cow there's a lot of blood! Ryan compared it to the amount of blood you would see if you were to slaughter a small pig. 5. The difficulty of breastfeeding does distract you from the pain of your own body for a time. 6. Bring big clothes to the hospital. You won't fit back into your regular clothes until... well, I'll let you know. 6. Don't plan on sitting normally for awhile. Or standing normally, either. Not only are you sore, but your posture has gotten totally screwed up in the last nine months! 7. Really, you use your entire body to push out Baby. It's amazing how sore my upper body is!!! 8. You think about the recovery from giving birth, and you think about the long nights spent up with baby, but you rarely think about the two of them going on at once. It's interesting trying to get up in the middle of the night to feed your baby when you can't climb into and out of bed with any amount of ease...

Truthfully, I'm doing quite well. I did tear in 3 places, but I would have rather had that than an episiotomy. I don't know how many stitches I had, but, like I said, I'm doing quite well. Ryan and I took Cara for a walk to the park tonight. It was delightful. Tiring, but delightful. A few more days, and I should be feeling well enough to resume some of my more normal activities. Oh! And, even though I've had times in my life that I've been skinnier, it's entirely possible that I have never enjoyed it this much!

Blue Light Special:

Just a quick update- after being poked and prodded and tested and examined, it was discovered that Cara has a slight case of jaundice. While this is normal for most babies, she's in a danger zone- especially for her age. We currently have her sleeping on a light box with another little light pad on her tummy. It's quite sad- especially because we took her to the doctor today and he didn't think she had any problem until we had the test done. Chances are it'll go away in a couple of days, but in the meantime we supplement her meals with formula to help fill her with calories and flush things through her liver. The trouble is, she's a lazy eater. They told us we're supposed to feed her every 3-4 hours, but she often won't eat until it's been longer. We're a little worried about our little girl. I'm sure in a few weeks we'll look back and be grateful it's over and that everything is fine, but for right now it's hard to go through the worrying about her.

She is pretty cute in that box, though. We joke that she looks like a little alien baby.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

45 Hours and Counting

First off, Happy Fourth of July! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

Has baby come yet? No, not yet. Sorry to disappoint... I know how you feel! :)

We passed the non-stress test with flying colors on Thursday. Also, as of Wednesday, I was dilated to a 5 and 90% effaced. Why am I still pregnant? I have no idea... although we have started to assign little Cara some probably unfair personality traits, such as stubbornness and a slightly perverse sense of humor. Really, we've given her every opportunity to come. I've tried walking for hours, resting for days, drinking rasberry iced tea, and a couple of other recommended natural inducement techniques. We've gotten her birthday presents. That didn't work. We've tried withholding presents. That didn't work either. We even went to a BBQ last night, and at one point we got ourselves locked out of our apartment, both of which would have been ideal opportunities for her to decide to come. No go. I've resorted to poking the top of my stomach with the hope that if it gets uncomfortable enough in there she'll decide it's worth the trip to come out. I'll let you know the results of that.

At any rate, if she doesn't come this weekend, I'm scheduled to be induced at the delightful time of 6:30 on Monday morning. Welcome to the week, right? Wish us luck!

And really, Happy Fourth!