Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Birth Story

I think it's time to write my birth story. My precious precious story.

This is the FULL TALE.  One day I'll write a reader's digest version. =)

Eames Walter Kawa was born a beautiful 8lbs 8oz at 12:38 in the afternoon on 10/24/12. And I worked hard to get him here!

PART ONE: Is This For Real?
At my doctor's appointment the Monday before our Happy Birthing Day, Dr.Decker said, "I'd be shocked if you made it to your next appointment."  That night, around 2am, I was awoken by strong contractions. They lasted about a minute and they were 10 minutes apart. When a contraction ended, I'd try to go back to sleep. When they hit me, the pain in my back and hips was so severe I had to instantly get up on my hands and knees.  This went on until about 7am. Then stopped suddenly. No more labor.

The next day I went about my business. I called my mother-in-law to check in... she was staying with my sister-in-law who was due the same day as me. Her second child. My sister-in-law grabbed the phone giggling and told me, "I've been having contractions 7 minutes apart all day!"  I congratulated her and we hung up. An hour later I had a strong non-Braxton-Hicks-y contraction. Hmm! That felt like it meant business.

Dear Husband got home from work about 5:30pm. I told him his sister was probably in labor. We started cooking dinner. I had another contraction that meant business. "Have you packed your bag for the hospital? I'd feel better if you did."  We went back for David to pack. He was leisurely folding Tshirts with his secret, patent-pending (jk) T-Shirt Folding Technique. I had another contraction. "You know on second thought, if you're going to take 20 minutes with each t-shirt, I'd feel better if we got the carseat installed."

We laughed and headed out to the car to wrangle our giant convertible car seat into its various straps and buckles. Two more contractions. I updated him but also told him that something similar had happened all the night before... it might not keep going. We decided to run to Target to pick up something.... and don't ask me what it was, because I have NO CLUE.

Contraction in the car.  Contraction in the parking lot.  CONTRACTION in Target. WHEW! OK! These are getting stronger. I started checking my watch. They were getting closer together too. By the time we got home they were clipping along at medium strength 5 minutes apart.

David suggested we put on a movie, eat dinner, and try to relax and distract ourselves for the long "Early Labor" stretch. I was still having such intense pain in my back with each contraction that I got on my hands and knees and leaned on a chair to eat my dinner. The contractions became strong enough that I needed to groan deeply and relax my face to get through. Dear Husband was totally engrossed in his movie and fajitas. Ignoring me. Finally I got annoyed!

"Listen! Are you going to support me through labor or not?! You talked a big game, you read all those books... now we're in labor and you are more concerned about Charlie's Angels than about me over here working on bringing your son into the world!  This isn't practice. This isn't play time. This isn't a trial run!  This is the real deal!  HE IS COMING!!  Are you going to do this with me or not?"

The sweet man stared at me with his mouthful of fajitas hanging open, his eyes as big as dinner plates, and said: "I was going to help you when you were in real labor."

Nature chose that exact moment to send me the biggest whopper contraction that I'd felt yet.

I focused inward, groaned deeply, got through it, and then said (pointing at my belly), "What the hell do you think this is?"

With this Call To Duty ringing in his ears, David got down to the business of being my birth partner. He turned off the movie, polished off dinner, and checked his watch.

PART TWO: Daddy Steps Up
With each contraction we found that if David placed his hands on my hips and pressed inward forcefully it would take the edge off the pain of my back labor. That became our routine. Every few minutes, when he knew a contraction was coming, he would come to me, place his hands on my hips, I would breathe deeply and begin to groan, he would begin to press, I would rhythmically tap my left hand on the pillow above my head... channeling all my tension into that hand... relaxing every fiber of my body for the contraction to do its good work. The tapping of my hand was governed by some powerful internal instinct. No book told me to do it. It was just my method. The tapping would speed up as the contraction peeked and then slowly descend in tempo. When the hand lay still, David would release my back. One more down. By this time I was off the floor of the living room and on our bed... still on hands and knees, belly cradled in pillows.

We had a plan to bring Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to the nurses in the hospital. David said, "If you can make it through three contractions alone, I'll get the Krispy Kreme." Deal. He headed out... I got my iPhone and turned on Pandora. The first song was, "Hold Onto What You Believe" by Mumford and Sons.

"I...I can't promise you that I won't let you down. We are young... Open flowers in the windy fields of this war-torn world..." the first words felt like the message in my heart to my son.

"Hold to what you believe in the night! When the darkness has robbed you all your sight." The chorus was my anthem for myself. Yes pain... yes focus... yes unknowns... but hold on. Hold onto to what you believe. As I go into this night of laboring to bring my son into the world, hold onto what you believe. By tomorrow, you will see your son... hold on to what you believe.

I made it through the contractions alone.  David got home.  No doughnuts. The store was on fire. HA! =)

PART THREE: The Hospital
Our decision to go to the hospital was less about the speed of contractions (by now about 3 minutes apart) and more about my mental attitude. When my mentality was serious and intense and heavy even between contractions, we knew it was time. We checked into the hospital. I was 6.5 cm dilated and the head was pressing down well into the pelvis. YAY! Good for me! I felt jubilant. Everyone says after you get past half way, things tend to move along at a good pace. We were about 7 hours into the process at that point. 1:00am. I hoped to see my son soon.

Doctors and nurses were all very respectful of our plan to labor naturally. The doctor instructed the nurses to leave me alone and not check me frequently. With that, medical staff all vaporized and I was left with my husband to continue our journey closer to Eames.

It was a long, long night of contractions. Still back labor... so intense that I never could get off my hands and knees. When the doctor came to check on me he was concerned that the baby might be breech because of the intensity of the back labor... but he wasn't. My water hadn't broken either...

Still the night went on and on and on... I was starting to become incredibly fatigued, but I still couldn't get off hands and knees. I tried the ball... tried standing... tried hanging on David... tried being supported by a stretchy wrap... nothing worked except being on hands and knees. But I was getting so tired that I was falling asleep sitting up between contractions. I was become delirious and loosing my ability to focus... at the same time my contractions were reaching transition-esque intensity and frequency.

But I wasn't progressing.

After 7 more hours I had only progressed one centimeter.

I was tired I was falling asleep sitting up between contractions. I started to crumble and say, "I don't know if I can do this... I don't know if I can do this..."  He was so encouraging! He told me I could over and over. He coached me. He assured me that he believed in me. But after a while he could see a change in me... the exhaustion was so intense that I was breaking down and saying, "I don't think I can see my baby... I'm too tired... I don't feel happy when I think about seeing my baby..."  I was mentally spent. I was searching for something to push me forward, but I couldn't find anything beyond exhaustion.

David said, "Keep pushing until the next time they check you... if you're 8cm, we're going to go all the way naturally. If you're not there yet, let's get the epidural."

At 15-16 hours of labor (plus the night before) they checked me. I was 7cm. I was going backwards. Still hadn't reached transition, let alone pushing. With first baby, I knew pushing could last an hour or two... I was honestly so exhausted I was afraid that I would end up not being able to push the baby out and that I would have to get a c-section.... so we decided to get an epidural.  Better an epidural and a vaginal delivery than no epidural and a c-section.

After the doctor put it in, I fell asleep. When I woke up two hours later... I felt renewed!  I was ready for my baby!  And I was ready to push shortly after.

PART FOUR: Here Comes Baby
I told the nurse I was ready to push. She checked... and looked shocked, "Oh boy! Yes you are!" She flew into action!  "Nurse, grab a leg... Dad, grab the other leg! OK, Blair... when you're ready... deep breath and push..."  After two pushes we could see the head. I reached down and felt the warm, damp downy brown head of my son. It was an electric moment I'll never forget. It was my favorite moment of all time. It made me cry and I looked into my husband's eyes and I was SO thankful that I could savor this moment rested, calm, and not in a fit of pain.

The nurse asked me to pause after two more pushes because Eames was about to pop out and the doctor wasn't there yet.

Once the doctor came, I pushed a couple more times and Eames came out very round and fat and adorable!

9 pushes total. 9 minutes start to finish.

8lbs 8oz. 19"

He was laid right on my chest and lay there looking up at me... it was unbelievable... there he was... his exquisite little body against my skin... his little mouth against my breast...

After a nice long cuddle time, they asked if they could take him to the table to finish their exams. They asked Daddy if he would like to carry Eames to the table. He said, "Can I?!?" They laughed and said, "Well, he's yours!" He was so scared me would drop him. Eames loved the blackness of his daddy's hair right away.

While they took care of Eames, I got a chance to take a look at my placenta on the table. It was amazing. The doctor finished putting in a few stitches. (I had just a couple one degree tears. Extremely mild surface tears.) I could feel my uterus contracting down... the jello flabby emptiness of my belly was weird...

And that's how we got the baby here.

That's how it all began... and it hasn't stopped since...

The KawaMama
(Use of all images for this post, courtesy of Sarah Kohut Photography)
(Except for the one bad picture of me in the living room... that was David...)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stone Cold Fox

Usually "Daddy Dressed Me" turns into an Epic Fail moment.... and we've had our fair share of those, to be sure.  But today... 

The cuteness is literally too much to handle!!!  Gap Baby?  And just when you thought the fun was done...

Hipster glasses hiding inside. Baah hahaha. This was a fun fashion morning. 

P.S. KawaPapa is soooooooo handsome.

P.P.S. He took me on a date late night.... our first date since E was born. My two sweetest girlfriends came and kept E for free. We used gift cards that people had given us from Christmas to get a sumptuous feast. Then we wrapped up the evening with frozen yogurt. It was AWESOME. 

Happy Start of the Week --- I'm off to exercise with one of my dearest buddies.
The KawaMama

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Great Wallet Change

I preface this post by saying.... all photos were taken with my iPhone... Quality = Woomp wooomp.

With that being said.... this is my Old Wallet.

I unpacked it today to officially transition into my New Wallet... given to me as a Christmas present by my mother. (This, by the way, made my husband very sad because he wanted to give me a leather wallet for our 3rd year anniversary. The Leather year. Very clever, Dear Husband. It's the thought that counts.)

Whilst unpacking I found....

The lottery ticket that my dear Brother-in-Law-Kawa bought for us on the eve of our wedding. Everyone in the family got one... just to celebrate the special occasion. Look at the ticket price: $325 million. At the time I think it was a record. Which has since been broken.

I also found this flimsy oft-folded and unfolded piece of paper.

When I was in high school I was bitterly unsatisfied with the trite and often gratuitously dramatic antics of my parent's Pentecostal church. (Which is not in any way a statement on my views of the activity of the Holy Spirit, contemporary worship or the Christian faith in general.)  I found solace for my searching soul in the Catholic Church.  My dear Token Catholic Friend allowed herself to be hammered with a zillion apologetic questions that she bravely attempted to answer without reproach. I was enchanted with the Rosary as a tool for meditation, but---true to my protestant up-bringing---I was uncomfortable with the focus on and veneration of Mary.  My friend supplied me with "The Divine Mercy Chaplet" --- which can loosely be described as a Rosary meditation dedicated to Jesus.  I prayed it faithfully.

The concluding prayer of the chaplet has always been deeply touching to me... so I thought I'd share it...

"Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself."

I mean... wow...

And that concludes the emptying of my wallet. Now join me in welcoming my New Wallet to the stage...

Not to steal New Wallet's thunder... but I had Old Wallet since I was 13 years old. This is like the end of an era. I'm really sad to see it go... I can't bring myself to throw it away... so it's just sitting on the counter like a corpse at a viewing.

Maybe I'll have to say a prayer over it as I send it on to Valhalla.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God's Own Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Hold onto your hats, people. This is kinda a big deal!  I'm serious... I'm about to change your life forever.

(Cue Star Wars theme song...)

Over the entire month of January, I was on a quest.  An immortal and dignified quest to discover the PERFECT chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I've been burning through butter and eggs like they're going out of style.... and at long last.... Eureka! I have found it.

These babies are delectably rich and toothsome. Just the right amount of crisp on the edges and soft, sinking, moist chewiness in the middle. They even taste good if you burn them! (I tested that out for you already.)

Many, maaany recipes have I tried... only this one lived up to every chocolate chip cookie dream. Try it. I mean it. You will rave. You will never go back.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups-ish chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Whisk flour and baking soda together and set aside.
Blend all sugar and butter til creamy. (A handy dandy hand mixer helps.)
Add salt, vanilla, and eggs. Stir all the way in.
Blend in flour til smooth.
Mix in chips.

Bake about 10 mins until brown around edges and gooey in middle. Leave on pan to cool... they keep cooking a bit on the hot pan.  This time probably varies by oven... mine is gas and needed one or two more minutes. Electric might need less?

(Oh yeah... you can turn off the StarWars music.)

Try it.
The KawaMama

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saga. Oooh, Saga.

The past two weeks have been a pair for the record books.

Curtain Opens:
-- Scene One: Vaccines --
Last week I spent almost every waking moment researching child vaccinations... I wanted to be sure I understood the choice I was making when I permitted the doctors to inject my son. If there were going to be side effects (long or short term) they would be my burden to bear. He is, after all, my responsibility. I found it very stressful.

Ultimately we did vaccinate... but it was more because we love our pediatrician and didn't want to switch to the local office that permits delayed vax. // Read: We vaxed for my personal convenience instead of because it seemed like the best medical decision for E. // Read: I was subsequently plagued by mom guilt.

And then I accidentally gave him Ibuprofen instead of Acetominophen. It said INFANT FEVER REDUCER.... but come to find out you're not even supposed to give Ibuprofen to a child under 6 months AT ALL. And I gave the wrong dosage because I thought it was Acetominophen. The dosage for a 2 year old. When I realized what I'd done I was horrified. More mom guilt. My mom "teased" me saying, "So you vaxed him and then poisoned him.... If he never walks again we'll know who to blame." I threw up.

A week later he is still frantically fussy in a terrifying way. Not sleeping more than an hour at a time, day or night. Not smiling. Head listing on his shoulders. In the midst of one frenetic scream session of a diaper change... my blood pressure shoots somewhere (up? down? out?) and I faint to the floor.

Scene Two:
Immediately after recovering from my fainting spell, I am feeding the baby and we receive notice.... My husband's application to enter the Interim Management Program at Chick-fil-A is rejected. Again.

I could write books about how capable, passionate, dedicated, excellent, skillful, equipped, and all-around-perfect David is for/with/about Chick-fil-A. He "gets" their mission... he embodies and embraces their model... he OWNS his role at the store. He is identified by everyone he knows as "The Chick-fil-A Guy." Regular customers at his store think he owns the place!  CFA literally could not find a better candidate... everyone in our community feels this way... How could they not understand this?

We struggle with the disappointment... and the ensuing why? what now? when? where?

Scene Three:
The tears are barely dried when we get a phone call. David's dear Granny has gone to be with the Lord.

My incredibly strong husband is again crushed into a crumbled heap in my arms.

I am feeling incredibly stretched thin.

The KawaMama
(1, 2)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christmas Baking with "The Cupcake Stash"

My sister Anna is getting entrepreneurial   She came to me with a business plan for a Custom Cupcake Bakery Business and asked me to design a fun logo for her. We talked about the feeling she wanted for her brand... what she saw her target market as... what kind of packaging she envisioned... and then we got started churning through ideas. This was her favorite...

(Based on this we have a whole range of packaging, stickers, watermark, etc. etc. etc.)

Her first move has been to get busy in the kitchen... and, savvy little lady that she is, she started a blog to record her daily cupcake baking experiments... Check it out HERE

Did I mention that she's only 13? Yep. Awesome.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Merry Christmas Cards - 2012

These are the Christmas cards I designed....

Photos by Sarah Kohut Photography.

I do the custom card design for her clients... we also do birth announcements and save the dates. It was a really great year with some fantastic designs. We've really enjoyed working together, and we get better at what we do every year!  Sarah is incredibly kind and accommodating with her clients... and so very very talented. Love her.

Merry Christmas from the Kawas to All Ya'll!


Homemade Cheese!

I made cheese!! Cheeeeeeese!! 

Yep... that glorious creamy ball of goodness came out of my kitchen on the first try.

I used whole milk for extra creaminess... and organic hormone antibiotic free for goodness.

And I had the most handsome assistant a gal could ask for...

"How? How?!" You might ask.  Well... it's like this, see... you heat milk to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring continuously to prevent scalding. Then remove from heat. If it starts to form a film, you're on the right track! Then add about a 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar. Boom! Curds and whey. The whey is the yellowish liquid. Strain it in a cheese cloth.... or (in my case) a simple woven cotton dish towel.

Drain/Squeeze out the liquid... aaaand.... TA DAH!!

Cheese. Really yummy cheese... far better than any I've ever bought in the grocery store. 

But because you can never have too much yumminess in life, I decided to take it one step further...

I added salt, herbs, and cracked pepper... Reformed it in the cloth again, and set it in the open window to cool in the weirdly delicious eighty degree January afternoon.


Now, what I really want to do is make chevre (goat cheese) from local goat's milk... so does anyone know of a farm around the Savannah area? 

Bon Appetit Ya'll,

The KawaMama

Technical Difficulties

We've been having some technical difficulties around here that have prevented me from uploading photos...

Trying to resolve because I have some really great things to share with you.