Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Topping From Below

If I have learned nothing else from reading this book, it is that I will never, EVER buy a book as a gift that I have not personally read, ever again. Never, ever.

Topping From Below - Laura Reese
Topping From Below
An explosive, erotic novel about two sisters, each of whom embarks upon a voyage into the heart of evil and a game with a seductive man who knows no rules or limits. Only one returns. Successful, attractive, and in control, Nora seemed so different from her shy, terribly vulnerable younger sister. Grieving for Franny, Nora reads her diary and is stunned when it reveals a secret sadomasochistic affair with a mysterious professor known only as M. Nora vows to seek justice for the sister she never really knew and undertakes a daring scheme to seduce this lethal and manipulative man in the hope of uncovering information about the murder. Instead, she finds herself in thrall to his bizarre sexual magnetism, trapped in a passion so dark and perverse, and yet so compelling, that she is willing to risk her life. And she is in danger, although it may be from someone much closer to her than M., someone so close she might not see it until it is too late. With an ending as startling as it is haunting, Topping From Below is unlike any novel you’re ever read. Ever.

So full disclosure, I bought this book at Barnes & Noble on clearance. It was around Christmas time and they had some really great clearance books, so I actually bought three copies of this. Two of my friends got it in this little hodge podge Christmas gift from me, and then I kept one. Both friends read the book and didn't say much other than it was definitely interesting. I just now got around to reading it and holy SHIT. I don't know whether to be mortified that I gifted friends this book or scared that they didn't tell me how incredibly screwed up and terrifying it is. 

Because this? This is not like Fifty Shades of Grey at all. Not at all. Yes, it has the BDSM element to it, but this is now the third book with a BDSM element that has literally scared the Jesus out of me. The difference between this and erotica books similar to Fifty Shades and Sylvia Day's Crossfire series is that this version of BDSM is heavily violent. It's violent and it's incredibly degrading. For all of the people who tout Fifty Shades as not a romance and a horrible example of a sexual relationship? You people are absolute pussies because that's nothing. That looks like light slaps on the ass before climax. This is a whole other ball game. There is one scene towards the beginning that absolutely should have made me stop reading (but I didn't because I thought SURELY that has to be the worst), and it's where a woman has her nipples suckled by piglets. No, I'm not kidding. No, I'm not even going to re-type it out to emphasize it because the sheer thought of this? 

There is something really wrong with you as a human being to even think of this, let alone subject another human to this. 

I can read a lot of really questionable things, but this one.... this one really was too much. Just way too much. Not to mention the characters? I hate them all. I hate them. I feel kind of bad for Franny, the sister who was murdered, because I think she was looking for a relationship to be loved and maybe was looking for an older guy to be kind of a father figure as well, combine that with her obvious low self-esteem and right there, you have a woman who says "go ahead, abuse me- I won't mind!" all over her. So in walks Michael, a classic abuser, who sees that and snatches her right up for what he calls play time. Well she ends up murdered so her sister Nora decides to figure out how to make Michael pay because she's certain it's his fault. Except she's an asshole too, who basically was so self absorbed she couldn't see the issues her sister was having, and she then starts up a relationship with Michael to basically drudge up evidence that he killed Franny. Except it all goes to shit because OBVIOUSLY IT WOULD. The author gives Michael a kind of lack luster "justice" and after I read it I had a feeling of, "Are you serious? This is IT???" and it's just bizarre. I finished the book feeling angry and disgusted. If you have this on your "to-read" shelf, I highly suggest you ask yourself how hard core of a BDSM book do you want because this is not the fairy tale, let's-just-have-fun type BDSM. Not at all. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keebler screwed me over.

So this weekend I had to go grocery shopping. I'm going to admit fully that being at home all day with Penelope means I do a LOT of snacking throughout the day. It's not even healthy stuff, it's crackers, cookies, and ice cream. Sometimes I forget to eat a meal because it means I will be too full to have cookies and ice cream and that's not a world I want to live in.

But this weekend there were some sales on cookies and other snack things, which is clearly the universe telling me to continue this trend. One item on sale was Keebler cookies, 2 for $5. BUT! I had coupons, so I would end up getting 2 for $3.75. Deal.

I opt for the ol' standby, those shortbread cookies with the chocolate drizzle on them. Who doesn't love those things? (I do. I love them a lot and my family didn't even know we had them because they are now gone.) I also buy these, because the package feels like I'm getting a bunch and they look good. But when I got home and opened them?

My level of pissed off cannot be measured. You see, it's not a real package of cookies. No. It's only EIGHT. Eight lame ass cookies. EIGHT. Who buys a package with only EIGHT cookies? Normally my argument for buying pre-packaged cookies is that it would cost me more to make the damn things and who has that kind of time? But had these not been on sale, I think they are retailing for $3.99 or so. WHAT A FLIPPING RIP OFF, Keebler. They aren't even big cookies.

I of course ate a cookie out of anger at this point. And then discovered that it's not even real marshmallow in the middle! It's like a weird marshmallow flavored paste. It's absolutely foul. I then make both kids and Matt eat these because I have to know if my tastes post-third-baby have gone astray, but no- they also confirm how incredibly disgusting these are. Not only are you trying to process marshmallow paste, but the graham cracker is so dry and crumbly it has the consistency of cardboard that was once wet but now dry and brittle.

And then I just got angry all over again that I spent any money on these damn things.

I obviously then went and had some ice cream because Edy's Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream NEVER lets me down.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Husband's Secret

Oooh... I bet you thought Matt did something really wrong, didn't you? Sadly, nothing fun and salacious, just another book review!

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty
The Husband's Secret
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died...

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

To be honest, I strictly bought this for the cover. As it turns out, my method of judging a book by the cover still works for me because this was a really good book. Easily this book would be a hit with reading groups and book clubs because there is so much that you could argue with this book. 

The book centers around three main characters: 
Cecilia: Finds a mysterious letter written by her husband which clearly tells her to not read it until after he's passed away. But things are kind of off in their marriage and as we all know, curiosity will kill the cat, and so she absolutely totally reads it. Oh shut up, we ALL would. Hell, let's be honest- if I found such a letter for someone else, I would probably still read it. But the contents of the letter are HUGE. 

Tess: She's maybe my favorite character. Mostly because Tess is approached by her husband and her cousin (who is basically like a twin sister to Tess) and is informed that they have fallen in love. THEN her husband has the balls to suggest that all three of them live together. Not to mention? Tess and her husband have a little boy, Liam, so the whole thing is absurd. So Tess does what we all would do, she packs up her boy and she travels to the other side of Australia to stay with her mother until she comes up with a game plan on how to handle this. Except she runs into an old boyfriend and everything gets exponentially more complicated. 

Rachel: My least favorite character. She's a widow and is reeling from the murder of her daughter years ago. She still has her son, his wife (who she doesn't like), and her beloved grandson. Except she is informed that they are moving clear across the world to New York, seemingly leaving her all alone in her grief. She's very much a "feel sorry for myself" and she desperately wants the man who killed her daughter to be arrested, but she's the only one who thinks he was involved. 

Cue a super tragic car accident to not only bring to light the revelations of Cecilia's husband, give Rachel closure, and help Tess make a decision. 

Overall? Really good read. I managed to read this book while letting Penelope nap on my chest and it was hard to put down. There was a few chapters where I felt like giving up once I read what the husband's secret was, but then I decided I really wanted to see what was going to happen to him, what would Cecilia ultimately do? I really thought the epilogue was fascinating because it's basically the "what could have been". 

There are so many secrets about our lives that we'll never know. - page413

There is another passage that just hit me, because I think any of us who has experienced some kind of betrayal in our marriage can relate to it: 

And once the waves (of hatred) passed, there would still be love. It was an entirely different feeling from the uncomplicated, unstinting adoration she'd felt as a young bride, walking down the aisle to that serious, handsome man; but she knew that no matter how much she hated him for what he'd done, the love was still there, like a deep seam of gold in her heart. It would always be there. - page 411

Doesn't that just... hit home? Of course it does. Because no matter what our spouse does, at the end of the day, you can't just shut off the fact that you love them. With time, two lives are so intertwined that you can't just untangle them and move on. That there is always that love, sometimes buried deep but it's there, and that? That's what you need to find to make the decisions to move a marriage forward. The couples married their whole lives? They never lost sight of that love, no matter what was going on in attempts to bury it. 

You can purchase this book on Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's Not Me, It's You (and GIVEAWAY!!)

You guys know I absolutely would not steer you wrong when it comes to books you should read because they are books you will love, right? Good, because whip out your credit cards and order this one right now.

It's Not Me, It's You - Mhairi McFarlane
It’s Not Me, It’s You
What do you do when your hour-old fiance sends you a text for the Other Woman? Apart from break something valuable. Like his face.

Another hilarious and romantic story from the author of the bestselling YOU HAD ME AT HELLO.

Delia Moss isn't quite sure where she went wrong. Everything was going smoothly. Ok, she had a slightly rubbish job working for the council and she hadn t seen her best friend Emma in god knows how long, but she'd been working up to proposing to Paul for months. This. Was. It.

But with one annoying little beep beep, Delia's life is turned upside down and rather than stick around and commit GBH by punching her cheating scumbag boyfriend (who still wants to be with her) in the chops, she decides the best thing to do would be get some head space and leave for London.

But a new city is never going to be the answer, and with a dodgy new job in media PR, where a suspicious yet devastatingly handsome journalist seems to be sniffing around and endangering her job, Delia can't run forever. Where did the old Delia go? And can she get her back?

This was EASILY the best book for me to read while holding Penelope for hours so she would sleep. It clocks in at 531 pages, so a bit longer than I usually enjoy, but it was so good. I don't even know where to start with the review to fully convince you to purchase this baby, but I'm going to try. 

The story is about Delia, who has been with her boyfriend Paul for years. She has gotten tired of waiting for a proposal from him so she decides to buck tradition and ask him to marry  her. She's got the entire thing planned out and it was romantic. Until he is only kind of excited about the prospect. Determined to not let his lackluster reaction bring her down, they go to a pub to celebrate when she receives a text from Paul that was clearly meant to go to someone else. 

Cue her world falling apart. 

Because as it turns out, Paul isn't faithful so she does what every reasonable gal would do- she packs a few bags and heads home. Only she can't stay at home with her parents and brother for long because it's quite obvious she's the odd duck in the odd family so she packs up again and heads to London to stay with her best friend, who is a highly successful lawyer. Delia decides to find a job while in London and ends up at a sketchy PR agency with a total douchebag of a boss. Almost immediately she falls victim to a blackmailing scam by a freelancing journalist out to ruin her boss. Begrudgingly, Delia finds herself being a double spy of sorts because she's really damned if she does, damned if she doesn't. 

All the while, Paul is making if very clear he wants Delia back. He's sending romantic gestures, trying to call her, and she just isn't sure because as their shared dog is dying, she realizes Paul lied when he "fessed up", though he says it was to prevent hurting her more. Douchebag. 

But THEN!!!! Delia finds herself a bit enamored by Adam, the man blackmailing her, when it becomes clear that she has to take the reigns of the job situation. And Adam is kind of dreamy and I was rooting for him  hard. HARD, I tell you. 

I got a little worried towards the end that Delia was going to screw it all up and end up with the wrong guy and then even I got a little confused on who she should go to, but then I decided NO. It's so clear, please, please, please let Delia see who the clear winner of her love triangle is. 

I can't tell you if she does or not because that would be a spoiler, but I can tell you I was on the edge of my seat the entire book. I absolutely loved it. I loved how Delia just wanted to be loved, she wanted to feel loved, she wanted a job she didn't hate and it'd be really nice if she could just find her niche in the world. She was always just a part of someone else's niche, she never really had her own. So she's the underdog really, and you find yourself rooting for her and it's so refreshing to not hate the main character. Truly. So many women's fiction books are so heavy and you end up hating characters but not here. This book is so fun, it feels like a real thing you've gone through or watched a friend go through, and you just enjoy every page. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a fun read. 

You can get the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but in the meantime, check out Mhairi's Twitter page. She has other books, which I'll be adding to my to-read list FOR SURE. 

The great news, is I have ONE COPY to give away to a lucky reader in US/Canada! To win a copy, here are your tasks: 

1. Follow this blog on Bloglovin!
Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaoscx
2. Leave a comment on this post WITH your email address so I can contact you after the giveaway!
3. Optional: Follow me on Twitter and then leave me a comment with your Twitter information and I'll follow you back! 

That's it! I'll draw a winner on Wednesday, May 27- good luck! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What day is it anyways?

I'm not kidding. I thought pregnancy brain was bad this time around but honestly, baby brain is worse. The bonus to having to go back to work eight weeks after having a baby was that I had to keep on track of things like, days of the week and a general sense of the date. But this time, since I'm off work until the fall, I literally have no idea it is anymore. I know today is Tuesday only because Olivia reminded me she has dance tonight, but beyond that it's all kind of a blur. I pretty much have no idea where in the month of May we are, and that's kind of an awful feeling.

The other thing I'm struggling with this week is depression. I think I'm beyond the "baby blues" and that I've moved right on to post-partum depression, though it's not nearly as bad as it was with Olivia. Which thank god, because my summer would be horrendous if that were the case. I didn't have anything with Jackson so I had hoped that maybe this time if I got anything, it would be just a few days of hormonal madness and then I would be fine.

And then I thought I was fine. I had a couple of really good days where I felt on top of everything and like I could manage it all and be just fine.

Until I decided to venture out into the world with Penelope and interact with people and try to connect with other adults. A few people mentioned how tired I looked, which isn't good considering Matt mostly does all of the night time feedings. He's exhausted but he's also not getting a lot of sleep. I'm exhausted because even though technically I can sleep, I'm not getting into a deep sleep so it's useless. I can't sleep during the day when Penelope sleeps because if by chance I do fall asleep, I have a fear I won't hear her cry because I don't really hear her at night. So that's out.

The other kicker? I have lots of people who offered to come and help, watch Penelope on their own, take Olivia and Jackson for a night, or all three, let Matt and I go out for dinner kid free, a whole variety of things. And none of it sounds good. I'm at the point where I don't really want to leave my house, and I don't really want to see people. I don't really want to do anything. I also don't want to leave Penelope with anyone, which is the strangest part of this whole thing. I remember when I had Olivia, I was so depressed I didn't want to be with my baby at all. Like not even a little bit. I would beg for someone to just come watch her, I would beg Matt to come home early from work, just to get away from her because I couldn't do it. With Penelope, I don't feel any of that. I just want to hold her all of the time (handy since she doesn't like to be put down to sleep) and be alone.

So I don't know. I called my OB office to see if I can get an anti-depressant and maybe I didn't sound convincing enough but they really want me to try to make it to my six week appointment, which is in three more weeks. I guess my next plan is to just call every single day until they get fed up. What I should really do is leave a message for the nurse at 4am, which is usually when I'm rocking Penelope because Matt has gone to work and I just cry in the rocking chair with her. I get it all out before the kids wake up for school so I don't make them worry. But the thought of being on anti-depressant again makes me feel a thousand times worse. Yes, I know it's beyond my control. Yes, I know they can be helpful and if you need them, you need them. But I also know I've tried several different ones over the years and every one of them make me feel nothing at all. Like I'm in a box of gray. No happy, no sad, nothing. I'm ambivalent towards things that should make me happy or proud. Things that should make me angry or upset don't even make sense to me. I feel foggy. I feel like I'm constantly in the state right before you get the flu really bad- achy and tired. So my options are feeling all of that or crying randomly. It's kind of a terrible choice, really.

The worst right now is having people tell me that it'll get better, that they had the blues too, that I look really great anyways, or worst of all- to enjoy this time with her. Like, fuck you and "enjoy this time". Seriously. Who wants to enjoy hours of rocking a baby while crying? If you enjoy that, there is something really wrong with you.

Bah- who knows. Maybe tomorrow I'll be better. It's not awful every day. It's very up and down. Some days I feel really great and I can't get enough baby time with her. Other days I feel like I can't get enough baby time with her but I'm crying and I don't know why.

But it'll be OK. It always works out. Somehow I always manager to pull myself out of these ruts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Week two: not as horrific.

Week two with Penelope has gone a bit easier. This week Matt went back to work and that has been the hardest adjustment so far. The really great thing was that Matt did all of the night time feedings and shenanigans when he was home so I could get some rest. Which is just so incredibly great and believe me when I say I don't take that for granted at all. I fully know I'm beyond lucky with him. So with Monday being his first day back at work, I got up with Penelope. All six times. Needless to say, I was in rough shape Monday morning.

Which meant taking the kids to school in my night gown, with sweatpants under it, and a hoodie covering the fact I wasn't wearing a bra and a hair tie stuck in my hair from the bun I fell asleep in. Jackson was pretty concerned I was going to walk them into school like that but I didn't. The plan was to get home, feed Penelope again and hope to god she'd fall asleep in her swing.

Except that didn't happen. She ate like a champ and fell asleep in my arms. Which meant I was going to try to detangle my hair and put makeup on with one hand. I managed but it certainly wasn't easy.

So after that, I felt a bit more human, so I managed to get dressed and start some laundry, while holding her. I tried to put her in my baby carrier but her head still feels too floppy for comfort so I gave that up. Maybe in a few weeks that'll be more handy.

The kids continue to love on her. They both want to hold her a whole lot but with the floppy head, it makes me nervous.
Jackson really likes kissing on his sister. He's convinced we aren't giving her enough kisses so he's taken it upon himself to pick up our slack. 
He also told me he's sure glad my stomach has gone down so he can cuddle on my lap with me again. And it's so strange because we haven't really gotten to do that in a few months and it's amazing how much bigger he feels. It only reminds me time flies by. The other thing? He has big boy hands. I remember when Olivia's hands somehow switched from chubby toddler hands to being the hands of a big kid. It's kind of a startling thing, really, when you realize that.
And of course, when Matt is home he spends his time in this position. He's gone back to working 60-80 hours a week so the poor guy is exhausted. He does a LOT for our family so I can stay home with Penelope.

Penelope and I have had a couple of outings just her and I as well. No poop explosions and no mommy freakouts or crying fits. It feels really strange to do things on my own and I'll be honest, I feel so out of practice it's awful. People keep asking me if this is my first and when I say no, that I actually have two others, I get the, "what the hell is her problem" look in a sometimes polite way. But seriously, I really do feel out of practice. So I'm pushing myself to get out more and do things on my own.

This photo is actually from today- a few minutes after she projectile vomited her formula into my face. That was fun.
Aw... this was yesterday. She really is a super mellow baby, hardly ever fusses. We spend lots of time with her cradled in my arms and she just looks up at me, totally content. This was kind of a cute moment and then she started loading her diaper, completely breaking out agreement of no poops when daddy's gone. Let us just say this kid enjoys pooping. A lot. 

Stumpy is insanely jealous that she gets burped frequently. I think he thinks she's getting her butt slapped, a favorite of his, so he will always hop onto my lap and try to get some slapping action. He kind of gives up eventually and settles on trying to lay on her and share my lap. 
I spend a lot of time in my chair on the couch so you're going to see a lot of pictures with the same background. I switched it up here and sat on a different cushion to make it look like I get to be in other areas of my house more often. Which is a total lie. 

I also have gotten a lot of compliments on looking really great despite pushing a 9 pound human out of my vagina two weeks ago. I don't have a secret, just that every single day I do my hair and my makeup and get dressed in something other than yoga pants or sweatpants. Not that I'm a vain person by any means, but those are things my mom told me to do when I had my first child because it will make me feel far more ready to tackle the day. And it's true, and of course my mother was right. I may not leave the house other than kid drop off at school, but knowing I'm ready to go if I wanted to leave is kind of huge. I really do feel like if nothing else, I've showed the day who the boss really is. 

So that's what week two has been like. I can't even tell you how in love with Penelope I am. Seriously, she is just the sweetest little thing. She may have been a stinker my entire pregnancy and assaulted me at every chance, and she maybe doesn't sleep worth anything at night or on her back, but by god- she's perfect. She really is maybe my easiest baby? Which is hard to say because Jackson was incredibly easy and I thought I really couldn't perfect a baby but dammit, I think I just might have. I'm kind of excited to be with her all summer and watch her little personality develop. More to come. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Raven (The Florentine #1)

I'm trying to get back into the blogging bit because it actually helps clear my brain a bit, so posts might be spotty for awhile. But I also have a desire to clear crap off my desk, so some book reviews are going to come your way so I can move them from my desk to my shelf where they can be their pretty little selves up there.

The Raven (The Florentine #1) - Sylvain Reynard
The Raven (The Florentine, #1)
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel Series comes a dark, sensual tale of romance in a city shrouded in mystery…

Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…

Cassita vulneratus.

When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets…

I will start by saying I am SUCH a fan of Sylvain Reynard. Like if I could be a groupie who hides out in his front bushes, I absolutely would. I would buy anything that had his name on it because the romance in his novels is tremendous and it makes it a thousand times better because it is a man writing them. I don't know what it is about a man writing a romance novel, maybe it's the fact that it gives hope that not every guy is completely incapable. The ability is there. Right? I tried getting my husband to listen to me read passages and he rolls his eyes and says it's dumb. Yeah, it's dumb until it becomes a fast panty dropper. Then it's not so dumb, IS IT?!?

But let's talk about the book. 

The book focuses around Raven, who is described as a crippled, possibly homely young woman who isn't skinny but she isn't fat. She's basically like the normal lot of us, but she uses a cane due to a childhood incident she doesn't like to talk about. Men don't regard her as beautiful so when she finds herself in the hands of the Prince, also known as William, who happens to be a vampire. (Right here I need to just tell you that I love this author that much more because you know I love a good vampire story.) Some artwork is stolen, but WHO CARES, because William is clearly dangerous, clearly has some issues, but he's amazingly gorgeous and he finds Raven irresistible. Even though it might not be in her best interest, and it's certainly not in his best interest, he finds it hard to be away from her. And she feels the same, except she has some really awful self esteem issues so she finds everything he says suspect. Which is understandable in the beginning, but as we get to even 3/4 of the book finished, GIVE IT UP, LADY. He thinks you're beautiful, stop questioning the guy or calling him a liar. Dang. That's the quickest way to get a guy to give up on you. 

This is the first in the series (if you don't count the prequel novella The Prince), and I am so excited to read the rest. I love how William isn't depicted as the friendly neighborhood vampire but it's clear he's dangerous, it's clear the world he's a part of is highly dangerous and Raven shouldn't mess around because she doesn't know what she's getting into. I hope that in future books she isn't so flippant about danger because there is nothing more annoying than a female character throwing all caution to the wind and getting herself in trouble only to be rescued every few chapters. 

So if you are in the market for a good romance novel with a good story line, I highly suggest this one. You can order it from Barnes & Noble and even Amazon

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Week One

Is it weird we start the countdown all over? It kind of feels weird. But Penelope is one week and one day old as of right now. I wanted to get this post out yesterday, which would have been her due date, but I actually didn't leave the couch and I haven't mastered typing with an infant yet.

So let's take a look at what Penelope's first week of life has been like.

We learned that Penelope absolutely, will not, sleep on her back. The closest you can get to that is doing it while holding her slightly inclined or on a boppy or something. Needless to say, most of her naps take place while being held. Thankfully, Matt wins dad and husband of forever because he has done 100% of the night feedings and screaming fits of refusal to sleep in her crib. He's logged in a lot of hours on the recliner in the living room. He goes back to work on Monday, which means I'm basically screwed.
Jackson has taken his role as big brother pretty seriously. He runs when she needs a diaper change, but seems to be fine with crying. Which is weird. He's slightly annoyed that she can't do anything other than lay there.
Olivia is a great big sister as well. She is all about helping and while she's a little hesitant to do anything, she likes to watch and see what I'm doing.
So far, the only family picture we have. It's really bizarre to see so many people in the photo. But by gosh, it's still kind of amazing.
Sometimes, Penelope looks cross eyed and I kind of love it. It usually only happens when she's trying to poop. Which makes it even funnier.
She won't sleep on her back but she's totally OK being completely squished up. Explain THAT, people. Explain it.
She had her first doctor appointment on Monday. She was basically a champ the entire time. She is back up to her birth weight (8 lbs, 15.5 ounces) and she grew 3/4 of an inch.
She also went on her first walk outside. She has no idea since she slept through it.
The pets have all gotten used to Penelope. The only one who seems a little depressed is Twinky. Probably because he's not getting all of the love in the world right now since usually either Matt or I are holding Penelope. But he has now started coming near her and has licked her feet a few times. Yesterday he actually sat by and then started laying down by her. At least until she kicked him in her sleep.
Today I managed to get out of the house by myself with her. Well, I've taken the kids to school each morning on my own with Penelope, so maybe that's not a totally accurate statement. But today I stopped at my old bookstore job to say hello and show Penelope off. I got home just in time for her next feeding, so that worked out really well.

As for me, I'm alright. I'm not great, but I'm also not at my worst. I don't know if I have post-partum depression or if it's just baby blues but I definitely have moments where I feel overwhelmed with life and cry in the bathroom. But then I also told a friend that this is the first time where I ever considered seriously not going back to work. Like I can't get enough of her and I just want to soak up every single second with her. Which is a really strange feeling, to be honest. I was never that mom who wanted to be a stay at home mom and I would dread being home with them for long stretches by myself. But this time... I don't know. It just feels different. Maybe it's my brain mentally preparing me to be totally done with babies and telling me I better enjoy it now? Who knows. But it's definitely something I think about.

Physically I feel like a mess. My back is killing me. I cannot emphasize that enough. The back pain I'm experiencing is really horrible. I don't know if it's from my epidural, if it's from two shit nights of sleep in the hospital on what is the equivalent to a kindergarten nap mat, if I pulled something while delivering her, or all of the above. But it is absolutely horrible. My vagina is now super itchy right where my stitches are. That's super annoying. I also remembered why five days of stool softeners is a dumb idea. My whole intestine system is not back to normal so I kept taking them thinking I should maybe get back on a pooping schedule. Well. Let's just say, there was a critical situation in the middle of an 8 am feeding yesterday and I learned quickly how to go to the bathroom while feeding a baby. Which sounds disgusting but trust me when I tell you it was an emergency. Nonetheless, I feel like I lost maybe five pounds right there. And I am not taking any more stool softeners because that was not a fun situation. Had I been out and about in the world, it could have been just like that scene in Bridesmaids where Mya Rudolph's character craps herself in the middle of the street. Imagine if that happened in Target. Mortifying.


Week two will be hard. Matt goes back to work on Monday. I expect to be a hot mess of tears, boredom, and loneliness. Maybe it won't be so bad. But it's been really great to hand her off to Matt so I can have a good cry in the bathroom. So we'll see. I expect to get more weepy as the weekend progresses knowing I'm on my own on Monday. This is maybe the only time in my life where I'm such a lame ass and dependent on someone. I really need Matt for my mental health sometimes, but I also recognize the bills need to be paid and having one week with no overtime is going to be AWFUL on his next paycheck. So here's hoping we don't starve.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Penelope has arrived!

I feel like such a slacker for not getting this out sooner for my blog readers, but I promise you I have a good reason.

Penelope is here and she is adorable. And amazing. I seriously can't even.

It all started Wednesday. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I very clearly had the "bloody show", though it wasn't as much as I thought I was going to have. But I felt alright, so I continued on with my day. I went for a very short walk with Twinky and when I came home, had even more blood, so I figured I had better double check my bags and be ready.

Around 2 p.m., I started having contractions though they weren't bad at all. They were similar to what I was having the night before so I didn't think much of it. I text Matt and told him to come home at 4 because the kids had a birthday party at 4:30 to go to and I didn't think I'd be up for driving them. I picked the kids up from school at 3:15 and had two contractions on the drive home that were painful enough that I white knuckled it the rest of the way home. Once home, I got the kids ready for the party and started timing them.

Matt came home at 4, got the kids to the party by 4:30, and was home by 5. Once he got home at 5, I told him that he needed to call his parents and have them drive into town because this was it and that he needed to get himself ready, I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to wait it out at home. So he proceeds to take the longest shower in history while I'm downstairs trying every relaxation technique I've been practicing. He comes down, totally nonchalant and I'm hugging my exercise ball for my life and he starts dicking around on his mom's laptop that he's working on. I had him call my mom and let her know we were leaving for the hospital and that she could meet us there, and then we called his parents and said we were leaving NOW.

Then I embarked on the longest car ride of my life, all the while doing my breathing and visualization and literally none of it is working because this really hurts and he's not driving as fast as I would have been, and I felt like I was going to have her in the car.

Thankfully, I did not.

We got to the hospital at 6 and after what I'm sure was a comical view of me trying to cross the busy street mid-contraction and stopping cars in their tracks, I got settled into our lovely room with a view of the lake. Turns out, I was dilated to 4 cm and 60% effaced at that point.

This is obviously between contractions. 

It was quickly after this that I decided hypnobirthing is a bunch of shit and I am not cut out for that. Not one of my relaxation playlists were doing anything, breathing through them wasn't helping, and I figured I am not a hero, there is absolutely no reason to be in that kind of pain and hate the experience. So I called for an epidural and that was able to happen at 8. Which by then, I was 100% effaced and dilated to 6cm so thank god because I didn't think I could make it another minute. 

The really great thing? Is that I got a GREAT epidural because I still had full use of my feet and legs, something I hadn't had with my other two epidurals, so I was so happy about that. I definitely didn't feel like I couldn't do much, it essentially took the edge off though I could still feel abdominal tightening, I could feel the waves of the contractions, it just wasn't painful at all. Easily the best labor experience I have ever had. 
By 9:30, I was dilated to 9.5 and I felt glorious. They started wheeling things into the room and getting everything set up. My doctor wasn't on call that night so I was going to get whoever and I'm always totally fine with that. So that doctor comes in and asks me to do a practice push just to get the hang of it and I ended up moving her quite a bit. He announces that I am a pro and tells me that not only am I at 10cm, but she made pretty decent progress down so this won't take long. I did say I wanted to just wait until I felt more of an urge to push, and that came at 10:30. As it turns out, I am a pushing champion. Between my mad pushing skills and my uterus being a rock star, after 6 sets of pushing and 20 minutes, Miss Penelope Rose Mary Strand was born at 10:52 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29.
The best part of all of it was that not only did I feel her come out (unlike my other two), but I was angled just right that I got to see her come out. And immediately, this girl was so alert. She hardly cried. They put her right on my chest and I was in love.
She just stared at me intently like she just totally knew I was her mama.

The strange thing? This was the first time I ever wanted to hold a totally goopy baby on my chest. Usually I'm fully grossed out by it but I wanted her immediately. 

After a little while I had them weigh her. 
 Turns out, Penelope is a god damn MOOSE. She was 8 pounds, 15.5 ounces and 20 inches long. To give you perspective? Olivia was 7#, 10oz, 21 inches and Jackson was 7#, 7oz, 19 inches long. I absolutely KNEW she was bigger. Did I not say this repeatedly? Poor kid literally had no room left in me.
The great thing is that I think she looks like Olivia, but has Jackson's personality. So far, she's really very mellow and hardly cries. She's very alert and watchful, she enjoys warm bottles and constant snuggles. She nuzzles herself on your neck or chest and seriously, your heart melts.
Matt did amazing as well. He didn't get woozy, he didn't pass out, he didn't even feel faint (unlike with Jackson) and he did a great job counting to 10 for me while I pushed. So that was great.
We got to come home yesterday (Friday) and it was weird. I had a lot of mixed emotions. I felt so great Wednesday and most of Thursday. By Thursday evening I found myself randomly crying, to the point where I literally couldn't stop. I cried on the way home on Friday. I cried a good portion of Friday evening, to be honest. I was doing really good today but then early evening I started crying again. I don't really feel sad or anything, it's just that I can't stop. I think Matt's worried, so I am going to call the doctor on Monday. I thought once I got home I'd be better but no, it's just more of the same. Matt will take this entire next week off so that will help me a lot. I'm scared for when he goes back to work and I have to just hold it together. I can't fall apart because I've got the other two kids that need me too. So I'm going to do my best.

I have tons more pictures for you, including from when Olivia and Jackson came to visit and meet Penelope. Seriously, they are so damn sweet. More soon!