Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Birth Story (and then some)

A year ago, we were considering starting a family. I was mentally preparing myself for a difficult time conceiving and the possibility of not at all, worrying about my heart condition, and coming to terms with delivering via c-section should we actually get pregnant.

Which only goes to show God laughs at your plans.

I think I'm still in a little bit of shock that there is a 9-day old human, mine, asleep in his nursery dreaming of his next feeding. I could not have imagined this to be a reality as quickly as it became one, nor the way in which it did.

After getting pregnant immediately and having an easy pregnancy at that, I figured the rest would be a bit more complicated. When he was diagnosed with his heart condition, I felt vindicated, as I'm perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop. And then we determined it was simply something to watch, and knowing I've lived a full life with the same thing, there was suddenly less to worry about.

So therefore delivery would most certainly be on the grueling end of the spectrum you hear about so often (e.g. 20 hours of labor followed by an emergency c-section).  And then it wasn't. Induction, roughly 6 hours of contractions felt simply as pressure (thanks to that epidural), four strong pushes, and voila -- baby.


And now were home, finding our way in our new world and getting to know one another. It's, in a word, surreal. Exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, rewarding...every possible emotion on the spectrum.  And it's only just begun.

I've learned a few lessons, and there are a few things I wish I'd known:

  1. Get a brazilian before labor. You will be spread eagle and exposed most of the day in front of nine of your closest medical professional friends. And your husband. All humility is lost. 
  2. The "every three hour" feeding is actually every 2-3 hours, which equals about 1 1/2 - 2 hours sleep for you, max. Feedings are counted from the time they START, not end. Devastating. 
  3. Baby Blues affect everyone. In some way shape or form. Mine manifests in anxiety starting at 7pm each night, like clockwork, until my 11pm feeding. Crying has become a full time hobby, be they tears of joy or pain. Hormones are awesome.
I've also had a few unexpected realizations:
  1. Having a baby has evolved and deepened the love I have for my husband. Seeing him embrace and enjoy the role of Daddy makes an already amazing man absolutely incredible. 
  2. It's true - you can't describe the feelings you have for your child when placed in your arms for the first time. It's a whole new level of love, and an entirely different emotion. It changes you forever.
  3. Your body is superhuman. You will find a way to exist on 3 hours of sleep over 4 days, and manage to socialize. And you won't need caffeine (or blow) to do it. 
  4. I will never, ever, for a single second, consider delivering naturally. The 5 minutes of contractions I felt were enough for one lifetime. 
And now it's time for nap. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Extreme Nesting (among other extreme behaviors)

If I could somehow convince a camera crew to follow me around these next few weeks, I'm sure it would be 5 -star entertainment that might land me a new reality show.

Nesting. The emotion and actions of late pregnancy prepping for baby, sometimes accompanied by a surge in energy. Not something I thought I would experience as I am a natural nester when not pregnant.

Wrong. It's manifested in an extreme state. I am bat-shit crazy, and everything under the sun needs to be done. Yesterday. And this applies not only to my home, but my work. I have been insanely productive at the office, but making my husband insane at home. Trade offs, you know?

Let's look at my list. We got the windows cleaned and painted. In that order. So naturally they need to be done again. We had a bathtub installed for the baby, which is awesome, less the drywall dust that has cast my home in a lovely shade of grey that now needs to be resolved. We need a new bed, the damn Tempur-Pedic won't stop stinking. One thousand loads of baby laundry need to be complete. And the house needs to be cleaned -- top to bottom to include the baseboards, floors, vents, cabinets, and every visible surface. At least the garage and closet projects went well. And are done.

And then I need to hire a cleaning lady. Set up the cradle, pack-n-play, and baby bathroom. And pack my hospital bag.

Christmas shopping. Shit.

In the meantime, I understand how people go schizophrenic. All these things remain undone, it's like I don't know where to start. It's paralyzing. Debilitating. And making me so agitated and angry, which is awesome for my kid, right? The mood swings are visible. So I focus on working. Like 14 hours a day, because somehow that's easier to get done.

Here's hoping I get it all done this weekend so some semblance of peace of mind can return.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Memories Echo, Part II

"there is only so much you can control in this life"
-- Courtney Saunders, November 1, "October Lessons" blog post.

Never were truer words written. Two weeks ago, I found out that my Baby Boy has a hole in his heart. Just like his mommy. Of all the traits I had hoped to pass onto him, this was not at the top of my list. I always knew there was a "small but significant" chance this could happen, but when it does you are no more prepared for it than if you had zero knowledge of the possibility.

This condition, known as CHD, (and VSD or ASD depending on the location of the hole), is not all that uncommon. Approximately 1 in 100 newborns, in fact. And provided the hole remains small, the prognosis is that it will eventually close on it's own as his heart grows. Surgery is not usually recommended, unless it's large enough to impede function. In short, it's a lot less scary than it was 35 years ago when I was born.

But no less scary when it's your child.

You want the best for them. From the moment they are conceived and every day of their life there after, you strive to give them all the advantages you can because life is hard enough. So I didn't initially deal well with this diagnosis, no matter how insignificant it may ultimately turn out to be. Beyond my worry, it makes me mad. Furious, actually. Especially knowing I personally had something to do with it.

But I can't dwell on it, and my anger won't solve anything (nor will my tears). My doctors don't seem overly concerned, including the pediatric cardiologist who did an echo of his heart last Thursday. An echo in utero. Amazing, right? I thought my own echos were uncomfortable. I was very wrong. It's much worse when they are stabbing you with the evil wand in the stomach and applying pressure you didn't know was possible without popping.

But the pain was worth it, as will be most unbearable things I do in this life for my child's well being. In doing this we know exactly what we're dealing with and will be able to take any necessary steps to ensure his health (and Mommy and Daddy's peace of mind).

In the meantime, Baby Boy is growing well and kickboxing, tumbling and flipping like a champ. We're praying for his continued good health, comforted by the fact that we already know he's a fighter.

Just like his Mommy.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Lessons

For one who likes to call herself a writer, I sure don't write much. It's been almost three weeks since my last post, but feels like yesterday. I woke up to November this morning, after 12 1/2 hours of much needed rest to get over the month of October, and pondered the things I've learned since we last spoke (well, wrote and read).

Kids change you. More than you think they will. And mine isn't even born yet. I was faced with a fairly monumental life decision over the past few weeks, and ultimately went in the direction the single, non-Mommy version of Courtney would have never, not in her lifetime, chosen. I went the safe route, and looked the other way from adventure and opportunity. Even I didn't think I would until the moment I did it (and then got violently ill wondering what the hell I had done).  I know, right? Who does that, certainly not this girl. But some little voice nagged and nagged and I could not make it shut up.

I've since come to terms with it, and have reconciled that this is the first of many sacrifices I will make in my lifetime for my child. Someday, I'll be glad I chose him.

I've also come to find that pregnancy is hard when your old. Especially late pregnancy. I'm not talking about people discounting you with "pregnancy brain" or dropping rude comments about how large you are (with two months to go). No, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Screw the emotional, I'm talking about the physical.

I went into this thinking I'm Wonder Woman, I'll work up until my due date, carry on as normal la ti da. I didn't consider how limiting all this extra weight on my front side would be. You know, like limiting how well (and if) you walk? And how much you sleep, if at all. I sit there, my brain spinning, with a list of things I need and want to do, yet. You just.can' Physically speaking. It is BEYOND frustrating.

No one really talks about this phase of pregnancy -- maybe because it's so close and you're simultaneously wrapped up in the excitement of meeting your child? Women forget, God's little trick of nature to make you have more kids.

I'm going to the Dr. tomorrow, and worried they are going to put me down for the count. Just a hunch, seeing as my candle has been burning at both ends with activity and my stress level could stand to come down a few hundred feet. Not to mention I'm sick. And can't walk. So naturally they will put me on bed rest because that's the last thing I could possibly deal with right now.

And finally, I've learned that there is only so much you can control in life. You do your best, and good enough is sometimes, well, enough.

On that note...

Friday, October 12, 2012

House of Destiny

As I work from home this morning, happy to be horizontal and unshowered, I ponder how much this house has brought to our lives. It's done much more than provide a roof over our head. You might say it's predicted our fate. A little story for you.

Finding our home was a bit of happenstance in itself. I drove by it one day while touring the area, a little side street I'd never seen before, and loved the neighborhood. I got excited when I saw the For Sale sign, but completely defeated once I looked it up online. It was absolutely beautiful, exactly what we had searched an entire year for, and way out of our price range.

And then it wasn't. For some reason I elected to watch the property, and a few weeks later I was notified the price dropped, significantly. It was a short sale (defeating realization number two). But we went for it anyway. Pestered real estate agents, banks and home owners for three months, until the day after Thanksgiving they called to say the sale was approved. I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it. We closed December 20th.

You see, my home is everything to me. It's my rock in the storm of life. My sanctity from all things that trouble me, and nothing can touch me when I'm in it. I am not stable unless my home is.

Finally settling in our home was so powerful in bringing my now husband and I closer together. Which is why three months after we moved in he proposed to me in our bedroom. It couldn't have been more perfect.

In searching for a wedding venue, the Mansion on Forsyth park had stuck with me following a trip to Savannah several years ago. But they only had Sunday dates available for 2011. We decided to visit anyway. The day we arrived to tour the property, they had a cancellation for Saturday, October 1. And of course you know that's the day we got married.

What I didn't mention is that the Mansion was designed by the same architect that built (and from whom we bought) our home. Coincidence? I think not. It was meant to be.

We've spent the past two years feathering our nest, getting it just so, enjoying it with friends and family, and never for a second forgetting to appreciate how fortunate we are to have it.

Now, we're getting ready to share this dwelling with a new little guy. This morning, as I was standing outside waiting for Gizmo to be done with his business, I happened to glance at a sign that had been left in our garage that we just never moved. It was a sign for our neighborhood developer. It.was only then that I realized....our top choice for our baby's name is on that sign. And he's due almost two years to the day that we closed.

So you see, my home brought much needed stability to my life, led to my marriage, picked my wedding venue and now has named my baby. That's a lot for a house to do outside of providing comfort and shelter.

We can never move. It just wouldn't be right. Can't wait to see what it cooks up for us next.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Elusive Down Time

I'm slowly learning that sleep and relaxation are not so bad. That is, when it actually happens.

Let's start with sleep. It's amazing we get any at all seeing as we can't seem to find a mattress that works for us (and Gizmo).  Scott and I have been together for 9 years, and in those years we've had 4 different mattresses. Truth be told, it's him, not me. But not this time.

The week after Labor Day we bought a Tempur-Pedic bed (seeing as we've been through most brands of innerspring and a Sleep Number, not even kidding). It took two weeks to arrive, and when it did it took over my house. With it's smell. Or, "offgassing" as they call it. So bad it caused me headaches, nausea, a stuffy nose and a cough. Not to mention fighting my way out of quick sand each of the four times I had to get up to pee. Seems my side of the bed had a defect. I slept in the baby's room for a week before we finally returned it. And for the record, that $200 Ikea mattress rocks.

A new Tempur-Pedic has since been delivered (we've been old our first one was a defective model), and while the smell is significantly better, it's still there. Every day, the windows are opened, fan is turned on high, and the bed is generously doused with Febreze and left to continue "offgassing" for 12 hours.  Then every night, we re-make the bed and flick our new pets, the stink bugs, off the curtains back out the open windows. Not exactly the nighttime ritual I'm used to, but at least I'm sleeping in this bed.

I've got three more months to slumber when I want and as long as I want. Let's hope this bed works out.

Our couch, on the other hand, has seen a lot of me. I've taken to naps, at least once day including weekdays after work. It's a wonderful indulgence, and boy do I need them. This weekend, I planned to practice relaxing and napping -- part of my committment to taking care of me. We did all of our chores and activities on Saturday, so nothing but laundry and football would be left for today.

And then my husband woke up with the flu or stomach flu -- maybe a little bit of both -- and God laughed at my plan. Granted, I haven't left the house, but I haven't exactly been sitting on my ass all day either. I spent my morning cleaning vomit off the floors and walls of the bathroom, and now I'm playing nursemaid. Believe me, he needs it. I'm simultaneously scared for him and of him. But as bad as I feel for him, I can't help but pout a little too. It's my turn to be taken care of, damn it.

Although let's hope not because I get what he has. That would forever define my hell.

Seems down time is just going to have to wait a little while longer.

Friday, October 5, 2012

All About Me...or not.

Eleven weeks and counting until our lives are forever changed and Baby Saunders graces us with his much anticipated presence. I remember when I was just eleven weeks pregnant, and couldn't wait to hit thirteen so I could tell everyone. Time flies when you're getting fat.

Last week, I completed my last business trip of the year, a milestone I've been looking forward to since April 20th. While I am over the moon about being grounded, naturally I'm a mere 1,434 MQMs (read: one friggin' flight) short of maintaining my Delta status into next year. I have seriously contemplated taking a roundtrip flight to anywhere just to get my miles. Sickness.

And then I remember that it's time to start taking care of me. I've not slowed down one iota since becoming pregnant, and these last three months are supposed to be time to cut myself a break, give my boy everything he needs to complete his in-utero growth, and do everything I can to avoid preeclampsia, pre-term labor and permanent insanity.

Which does not include flying on airplanes, mopping my floors, throwing parties, working 60 hour weeks or worrying about keeping everyone around me happy. All things I actually think I'm going to be doing in the next 90 days.

It's supposed to be me time (not to mention the last of it for the next 18 years) and yet I feel immensely guilty about it. A few examples:

Holidays. Seeing as I will be 37 weeks pregnant come Thanksgiving, that pretty much rules out flying, or even going, anywhere. So I've ruined Thanksgiving and Christmas. We've been asked by virtually every family member to join them, but seeing as they all live miles and miles away, there's a slim to none chance it's going to happen. I feel pressured and guilty.

Work. We've already established my super-human productivity. So one might think working from home a day or two a week would be appropriate at this stage in my pregnancy. Wrong. I somehow can't seem to allow myself that reprieve, which isn't really a break at all other than I don't have to shower.

Husband. I just want to be taken care of. Pretend I'm a helpless, insecure trophy wife. Consume me with affection and compliments. Expect nothing of me but to sit there in the glory of my pregnancy glow. That's what I want (and need) right now. And yet, I feel terrible just asking him to pick up a few more tasks around the house.

I know this is all my own doing. I can choose to think and act differently, it's just not in my nature to indulge "me" and let others "do".  It's the one time in my life I should be able to justify being a little bit selfish, and yet I struggle. I'm the pregnant one, right?

The truth is, it's exhausting pretending to be me day after day. She's just not there right now. I blame the hormones. They're crazy. Correction, I'm crazy. All the more reason I should be taking care of me.

Here's hoping I figure this out before bed rest does it for me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Case for the Bad Boy

I have always been that girl who could not resist the bad boy. The truth is, most women can't. All of us have someone, somewhere in our past that didn't respect us and in most cases didn't even really like us that much. And we just COULD NOT get enough of him and his evilness. I know I'm guilty. Several "wish I could forget" times over.

In some cases, they really are just raging assholes lacking sensitivity chips. In others, women don't respect themselves in which case, why should a man? My period of indulgence was most definitely high school -- teenage self-esteem co-mingled with some really (and still) wrong dudes. I don't think there was a single good one in the mix, despite their sheer numbers. This might explain why I went polar opposite in college and dated the Good Guy. For eight years. Because I wanted to marry a guy who I knew genuinely loved me, would never cheat on me, and offer me a lifetime of security.

And then I didn't. Why? Because I wasn't challenged. I'm a handful. I'm highly opinionated, aggressive, driven, and good or bad can only respect people that level with me. Not concede to me. Because I'm not always right and I don't know everything. You just have to remind me sometimes.

So I married a bad boy. Oh yes I did and I am proud of it. There is no question he has been awarded this status by more former girlfriends and one-night-stands than I care to know about (yet, somehow do). He even started out as my rebound bad boy. And then something happened.

I realized the bad boy isn't really all that bad. Sure, they objectify women and use them as entertainment. Until they find the right one, that is. Once they do, you realize they too are very human and even feel, underneath all of that crazy "I could care less about you" sexiness. And there's a woman for every bad boy, because no guy, I don't care what they tell you, wants to be 45 hitting up 25 year-olds in today's club scene. Trust me. I know a few who still talk a good game but would do anything to be snuggled on the couch watching the Bachelor with their wife. Seriously.

Most bad boys want to be challenged and intrigued by their mate. And most young women don't have a clue. Hence the reason these bad boys are usually the last to marry. But when they do, they redeem themselves and then some. Like my very own husband. Who is likely going to put me in my place for writing this post, but wait Honey! I'm about to say something really awesome.

My husband is the most caring and compassionate yet strong and principled human being I know. He does not let me get away with anything, and I would not have it any other way. At the same time I feel very loved and supported and I question nothing about our commitment to one another. Admittedly it took some time to get here, but once we did the reward significantly outweighed any hardship. Even as a writer I don't think I could ever find sufficient words to describe how much I value him and the life we live together. Every day he positively impacts my world and makes me a better person. Which is more than anyone could ever ask for in a mate.

And he was a bad boy. They make the best husbands. You know, if you marry one, that you were worth changing their ways. Not to mention they come with significantly less ex-baggage than good guys. You are the one, and the only one, because the rest (for the most part) simply didn't matter. Which in turn brings that little ego boost that comes with knowing you snagged one...but you can't let that go to your head. Enjoy it,  privately.

Morale of the story? Don't run away from the bad boys, embrace them, but do so wisely. If the timing's right, they could be the one. Today's asshole could be tomorrow's hero. You just never know.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I am a machine. I make efficiency an art form, and it's inconceivable that life could be lived any other way. I make the most of every moment of the day, to the point where I can plan to procrastinate. Yes, that's right. Plan to procrastinate. I have to, otherwise the balance is thrown off.

I don't know how I got this way. I just have a knack for seeing the shortest yet most effective means of getting things done, and establishing the systems that make it continuously possible. You could say I'm always prepared. For anything. I should have been a performance engineer.

It comes in really handy at work, as I can juggle a hundred different balls and barely break a sweat. When I say I'm busy, I stretch the definition of the word. My to do list is not average, not even close. Like your own, plus three of your co-workers. It's sometimes hard re-setting your own expectations in managing people who don't have that same level of efficiency (and are not expected to), but otherwise, it's pretty damn awesome.

I'm the same way at home. It takes me two hours to clean 3,500 square feet. My husband? Three days. Again, not his fault, just wired different ways. I even attempt efficiency in putting things away around the house, making little piles to carry with me up and downstairs as I go about other tasks. I will have considered it a wasted trip if I go downstairs to feed the fish and forget to bring my laptop back to the docking station. It's a little sick, I admit it.

So to my point. To all the lovely people out there that keep telling us we aren't going to be able to keep a tight ship around here once my little man arrives, I have two words for you: watch me.

Let's be clear about this. I'm under no delusion that things aren't going to change and that expectations won't have to be re-established. They certainly will. I won't be able to keep playing the same game because there will be more things to care for, namely raising the child. Which becomes a priority over the weekly vacuuming and once I go back to work pretty much everything.

But, I can assure you that what I would consider my bare minimum will still manage to get done, and in comparison to the rest of the world it will seem as if I'm achieving the impossible. I know you want to see me fail, and you want me to eat my words. But it's not going to happen.

Beyond my confidence in my own capacity for get shit doneness, I have living proof. Lots of it, but for the case of two examples, one is of my own blood and the other might as well be. Full-time working Moms with two kids, running a tight ship in the household, while managing to still be beautiful. It's possible. I've seen it with my own two eyes. They might not think they're doing it, and yes there are days when a padded room sounds more fun than coming home, but they are indeed successful and if they can do it I can...especially with just one bambino.

No, my husband isn't going to go hungry. Yes, my house will stay clean, even if I have to outsource it. So let's stop preaching and see what happens.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The desirable blood pressure of an adult female. Unless "high strung" defines your temperament, as it has mine on more than one occasion. Usually, this trait is associated with some level of hypertension (that's high blood pressure for all you healthy people). I typically hit 120/90.

These days, my pulse has been so faint I'm not sure I can claim the status of living. Pregnancy has once again gotten the best of me, and caused the polar opposite effect. My blood pressure has dropped, significantly. Dizzy, nauseous, about to faint...all common over this past weekend, not to mention the ridiculous weakness and fatigue. Yet more evidence of the possession of Courtney Saunders.

But not today. Oh hell no. By 8:30am my inbox was so full of bullshit my mmHg's spiked at a greater rate than is considered safe in the medical world. No fatigue here, unless you lump "defeated" in the same category. While it seems this pregnancy is treatment for my job stress, conversely my Monday is treatment for my LBP symptoms.

Despite the apparent yin/yang of the whole situation, something tells me none of this is good.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Meet My Little Man

Thanks to a low PAPP-A test result and a pre-existing heart condition in me (the mommy), we have doctor's appointments every 2 weeks to keep an eye on how things are progressing with the little man. Which means scheduling is hell, but I get to see him every month.

Before today, he's been pretty stubborn -- a trait he will undoubtedly possess once born as well. I mean, you've met Scott and I, right? He's been fond of facing inward, preventing us from seeing anything and everything we really needed to (even after being prodded, poked and allowed periods of rest). Not sure he likes Dr. Gomez.

But today, he decided to cooperate. We had a little talk on the way, and he did not disappoint. I'm not sure I'll ever see or feel anything more amazing than when his tiny face suddenly appeared on the screen. Twice. And then he yawned. You want to talk about all this becoming real? That'll do it. Before today he was a squirmy little alien that liked to kick me...and now he's a little person.

Baby Saunders
He's a charmer, right?! Yes, he kind of looks like the aforementioned alien, but you did too once upon time. He's only 25 weeks old and doesn't even really have his skin yet, don't judge.

I like how he's kinda smiling! But even more I like that everything is nice and normal. He's perfectly average in weight (1lb 10oz), no issues with his heart and all other development seems to be progressing as planned. You think I might cut myself a break and stop worrying a little, but I can guarantee that won't happen until he's in his late 30's. Maybe 40's.

I'm more excited than ever to hold him for the first time. Only two more perinatal appointments before our birth month. But first, I'm going to spend the next three months enjoying the changing of the seasons, my husband, dinners out, movies, and sleep. We celebrate our first wedding anniversary in a few weeks, and celebrate we will. What a year it's been.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

I am but a vessel, navigating the world in search of healthy food and calming environments for my passenger. Who has all the sudden decided he needs a bigger cabin. 

Last night, I stood in the front of the full-length mirror brushing my teeth and wondering who the person quizzically looking back at me was. She had the same face, legs and arms of someone I used to know, but the torso looked vastly differently. 

It's disturbing to all of the sudden have so much more of yourself to contend with, especially when it seems to have happened overnight. 

My first clue to my expansion was a t-shirt I wore last weekend, that this weekend didn't come close to meeting the top of my pants. I thought I'd shrunk it, and then that I was losing my mind. No, just gaining belly mass. Not to mention my heaving breasts, seemingly attempting to keep pace with the belly. The insanity of this is I did nothing to acquire this body, it's being manipulated by a tiny human inside of me. 

It's like something from a science-fiction novel. At least for a first-time Mom. 

I have to admit I am somewhat fond of my roundness, aside from the strangeness of it all. It's rather attractive, and the only time in my life I will consider myself bigger to be better. That said, it feels a little too good to be true. I keep waiting for my ass to expand and the rest to swell. So far so good, but the third trimester is right around the corner. 

In the meantime, I will accommodate my passenger's request (as if I had a choice) and enjoy this new womanly version of myself. And of course acquire a new wardrobe to suit it. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The first and last. Promise.

Let me start by saying that I am the least politically-minded person on the planet. I believe that my odds of solving the mysteries of the universe are significantly greater than finding an honest political candidate I can get behind. So I generally remove myself from the shenanigans and hoopla. But I also believe that you have to participate in some way, shape or form if we really are to be a government "of the people, by the people, for the people". In other words, put up or shut up.

Of course I have an opinion that, like everyone else, I feel compelled to share. I might not even consider it a well-informed opinion at this point. But this is my blog, which you have a choice to read or not to read. And I do hope you'll hear me out. This isn't about Obama or Romney. I would likely be classified as a Republican, but it's not about my label. This is about people.

It's not the politicians fault. Crazy, right? But it's true. All of humanity is a disgrace these days and collectively we are failing to meet our potential. That's the bigger problem. Where the politicians and government play a role is in how easy they make it for us to destroy ourselves and thus our country. I am extremely proud to be an American, and there is no where else I would rather live. But damn did we become a bunch of greedy, moralistically depraved bastards.

Case in point, the Banks and Corporate America. You hear so much about how greedy they are. And of course they are, doing whatever deceitful act it takes to make a dollar (euro, yen, whatever). But so are the poor. Bitching about how unfair it all is, perfectly capable of working but instead living off welfare. In both cases it's because, in part, the government and thus we made it possible.

I, for one, am sick and tired of paying for both of their mistakes. I work my ass off. I never aspired to own Freddie Mac or Frannie May, and I never really had the desire to take care of someone who has less than me. I have a job. I bought a home I could afford. I don't spend more than I earn. Oh yea, and I save money too. I don't expect anyone to take care of me, and I expect that those around me won't ask to be taken care of. I'm honest, fair, and understand that the bottom line truth is what I put in is what I'm going to get out. What is so damn hard about this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What makes me (and many Americans) different? Accountability. Or, let's call it personal responsibility. This is the second part of the equation. Somewhere along the way our government taught us that it was ok to be irresponsible if it meant we could have more and someone else would pay for our mistakes. So we decided to compromise the hard-working, ethical nature that our country was built upon.

And nothing is going to change until we hold the irresponsible accountable for their actions. Government, corporations, and your everyday American alike.

So who I am voting for? Whomever I decide is going to throw down the hammer and make us own up to our mistakes. Economic, environmental, social policy - no matter. It's going to hurt, you can guarantee it will be painful. But it has to happen if we are ever to be a people I can be proud of once again. And maybe, just maybe, with a little humility we'll achieve the moral correction we so desperately need.

I'm going to step down off my soapbox now. Some of you will be offended by what I've written, some of you will praise me. It doesn't really matter, and you shouldn't stop talking to your brother-in-law or write off good friends because they feel differently. People are entitled to their own opinions, it's what makes this country great. But it could be better. So much better.

That concludes my first and last political post. Good luck in making the decision on how to cast your vote for  yourself. But don't fuck it up by voting for Obama, ok? I'm kidding. Relax.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dead Animals

A few weeks ago, I came home from a business trip and walked in my front door only to be overcome with an urgent need to vomit. Our house smelled like dead fish, or, the scallops Scott had made for dinner. My food aversions have passed, but I'm still not the biggest fan of seafood, especially as a signature scent.

I'm incredibly sensitive about smells in my home, and on top of that my olfactory system is frighteningly keen. Even when I'm not pregnant. So I paraded around with air freshener, choking the shit out of my husband, dog, plants and ultimately myself. But at least it was with clean linen.

Here we are, several weeks later, and I swear I can still smell it. It certainly cannot still be the scallops. I look for it it the garbage, the sink, Scott's shoes? Dead animals in the walls? I'm currently convinced that there are thousands of cockroaches decomposing in our walls from our regular extermination. I also think those cockroaches are the re-incarnated souls of murdered civil war mill workers, but that's another post.

The problem is (beyond my own psychosis), no one else can smell it. I feel like a crazy person wandering around my house, sniffing every surface and wall. I just finished reading a book, Broken Harbor, where a man was so convinced there was an animal in his attic that he drove his family insane trying to track it down -- to the point where his wife killed him and his children. I need someone with a good nose to walk around with me and prove to my husband that I do not need to be committed, and prevent myself from a similar fate.

In the meantime, it's candles and La Tee Da lamps. And a "no fish in the house" mandate, strictly enforced.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Always Something

...more to do. And you thought I was going to say "there to remind me". I actually hate that song. Irrelevant, moving on. It's been a busy month. Lots of planes have filled my Monday - Friday, with nursery decorating consuming my weekends. And cleaning, birthday celebrating, bill paying, crafting, name changing, travel planning, among a myriad of other tasks.

Seeing as it's been a while since I posted (yet another thing to do), there's a long list of topics I've mentally stored to shared. Problem is, I can't seem to recall what they were.

Oh wait, there's one. My pregnancy brain. And I thought it was a myth. Let's see -- there was repeating myself in meetings, wearing my underwear inside out three days in a row, leaving a car running while I went to go eat at a restaurant, and my general inability to focus. Such as on this post. I am all over the place.

There's another one. My travels. It was harder to change my name with Delta than it was to get a new social security card. I suppose I should be grateful for the security, but the reality is it only affected my ability to get upgraded and board the plane before the lay people. Speaking of security -- pre-check. God bless pre-check. Shoes stay on, laptops in, and they don't care how much liquid you're packing. The best part? No wave machine, just a simple metal detector. Which means no more pat downs for this lady, even though I was starting to enjoy them.

Everything, and I mean everything, seems to take more to get done and in general there is just more of it. And just when I think I've reached the point of completion, there's another few things to check off the list. Big ones like naming my baby, and small ones like sending a birthday card. Not to mention my 16 hour work days. Awesome.

I've decided I need a personal assistant. But that's why you have kids, right?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Not So Much

In case you were wondering, I have not yet found the holy grail to efficiency in my work day. I arrived in Lexington, KY, after working all day, only to work all night. After my meeting tomorrow, I'm flying to Charlotte where my husband will pick me up en route to PA, so I can attempt some semblance of a vacation next week. No, I've definitely not uncovered the answer.

And sadly, my quest shall have to wait. Allow me to give you some perspective. I had a local meeting request for pretty much anytime in August today, and I had to say no. Not because I was attempting balance, but because I actually have zero availability. Zero. Every single work day in August is scheduled to the hilt. I'm either on a plane or at a local meeting, and I cannot recall another time in my career where this has happened.

But there is light at the end of this eight-week tunnel. No more travel for at least 6 months after September 23 thanks to this little man growing inside of me. As well as a day off (Labor Day), and a new couch that will complete the nap trap in my living room. This is what keeps me going.

Until then, I'm going to have to grin and bear it (as a Delta Member Services rep told me the other day in regard to the fact that they ripped me of my status because I changed my name and they're administrative processes are archaic -- sorry, another post for another day) and do what I can to maintain my sanity and well being.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ringling's Got Nothing on Me

One day, when my child asks me what I do for a living I am going to tell him that I am a Ring Master. Because managing three rings of activity is what I do all day long. I manage up, I manage down, and I manage out. Not to mention the circus animals.

At the highest level, I love my job. Because what I do keeps people employed, makes companies productive, and is a win-win for everyone involved. I'm a "subject-matter expert" who helps clients do the right thing. And I'm good at it. Really good. Which is why I want to keep doing it. Not for a second have I ever believed I'd be a stay at home mom.

But being a Ring Master requires a lot of stamina...juggling priorities, running from meeting to meeting, mentoring teams, multi-tasking to a fault, firefighting, and seeing more planes than anyone other than a flight attendant should in a 30-day period. You have to be a hell of a whip cracker. And understand that 9-5 is a rough guideline, at best.

Which is all fine and dandy. When you're 24. My track record will clearly demonstrate that I am not afraid of hard work. But lately, come Friday night I am incapable of anything requiring any level of thought or skill. No exaggeration, I can often barely speak. So I got to wondering, has it always been like this, or have things just gotten crazy? Or, has my pregnancy changed my perspective?

It made me think, REALLY think, about what I actually DO, and I've come to the conclusion that there's a lot of "interference" and "filler" in my day. Most importantly, filler and interference that does not need to be there. If I could cut the stupid, I'm certain I could maintain some semblance of normal hours and deliver a higher quality product to more customers. Which in turn means, you got it...more business.

There has got to be a better way to do this. And I am determined to define it. It's very clear that if it is to be it is up to me. So in true Courtney nature I will create more work for myself in this quest, but hopefully reach an outcome that makes it a little bit easier for all of us so we can focus on the challenges that really matter. And get shit done. More shit.

I'm tired of being tired. And I cannot imagine for a fraction of a second pulling this off when my baby boy arrives. Something has got to give.

Time to get those animals back in the cages.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Resting State

As a result of what is known as "round ligament" pain, I am resting today. I was never taught this skill, and therefore am not very good at it. I look around and see a million different things I could be doing (windows, floors, lining dresser drawers, cleaning out cabinets, re-painting the coffee table) and can't.

So, I shop. Online. Which is incredibly dangerous because it's so damn easy.

We decided to re-do our living room. Our couch is 10+ years old and while it still looks awesome, I'm certain it's destroying our backs. Seeing as we plan (will be forced) to spend a lot of time at home after December, we decided it was worth the investment to upgrade our furniture.

I hate spending money. Especially on large purchases. I agonized for weeks over the couch. It's ridiculous, until you realize that I am still under the impression that my financial situation is the same as 21-year old Courtney who bounced checks to get cash and strategically planned which bills could be skipped each month. I am so terrified of ever being in that position again that spending money paralyzes me with fear.

I hope I can stop resting soon. It gives me anxiety.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Laws of Opposite

Question: What goes up and down and round and round?
Answer: Life (and you thought I was going to say merry-go-round)

Not to get too philosophical people, but it's very true that we live in a world of cycles. My husband is thrilled to see me write this, as he's been extolling this truth since 2005. One day you're down, the next day you're up...and repeat.  

Case in point: Tuesday sucked. On Amazonian levels. Work was stupid complicated, I felt like my belly was being ripped in half, and I was exhausted. Today? Work was ah-mazing, my belly is cute, but I am still exhausted. You can't have everything (another truth). 

I am told my Nana used to say, "this too shall pass, dear" and I have to agree with her. Bad or good, everything is temporary and runs it's cycle. I am beginning to think the key to happiness is embracing this perspective. Not that it's easy. By the time you're my age you are pre-conditioned to react in certain ways and it is no small task to teach an old dogs new tricks (NOT a truth). But it can be done.  

Armed with this perspective, it's amazing how the bad becomes just a little more tolerable and the good that much better. I have been through hell and back throughout my life, and will of course repeat this in future years (see, I am not delusional)...but this time I'm prepared. 

Murphy's got nothing on me. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

It's a Boy! Oh boy.

I've had several premonitions (yes, you read that right), even years before I was pregnant, that Scott and I were going to have a little lady. When I learned we were expecting, I just assumed it was a girl. I had her name, nursery theme, arguments for why I'm right, and her life plan through her mid-thirties all worked out.

And then it was a boy.

Blue. That's about all that came to mind. And the fact that we don't have to fund a wedding. You could say I wasn't mentally prepared for a little dude. What do we name him? How do we decorate? What am I going to DO with a little boy? 

Despite being terrified of him and his little penis, I am completely smitten. I've seen him a million times, and I'm already dreading the day when he's no longer a mama's boy. I've heard little boys love their Mommy's, and I'm looking very forward to being the first girl he falls in love with...the feeling is mutual, little man.

But that's tomorrow. Today, we must name him. Boys? I got nothing. My husband claims I have too many associations with boy's names that rule out many otherwise excellent selections. What can I say, I was greatly affected by the men who have passed through my life. Or I'm just a reformed slut. Don't judge.

Then there's the nursery. I immediately went the route of blue with a primary color scheme, and just as quickly decided I don't want a box of crayolas throwing up anywhere in my house. So, I'm working with a yellow to create something spectacular that doesn't imply he could go either way. That's for him to decide, not my decorating skills. 

The rest will have to come in time as I get to know my little guy, and learn the ways of mothering. While it's not what I expected, I couldn't have it any other way. He's my shining light, the sweet baby boy who keeps me company all day, and I can't wait to meet him.

And, of course, for the day he reads this and is mortified by me, his mother.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Who's That Girl

I've spent my entire life stubbornly and to a fault taking care of myself. If it is to be it is up to me, the ten most important two-letter words. I've exploited what it means to be a Type-A personality. Always in control, always calling the shots, always following the plan (mine, of course).

Until now. Enter my alter-ego. I didn't plan it, I didn't think about it, it just...happened.

Plan? What plan? It's like my pregnancy is happening to someone else, it's fuzzy and I can't seem to recognize that I need to prepare for this life-altering event. Independent? Forget about it. Ask my husband, forced to be my personal butler and having to make every decision because I've forgotten how to do that. He's currently in Mexico, and I am lost. I hate him for this (despite knowing it's wrong to begrudge him this guy time).

My confirmation that this is really happening? I haven't cleaned my house in weeks. Weeks. Scott's been helping out, but former Courtney would be spending this solo Saturday doing it her way to ensure everything is sparkling clean. Nope. This Courtney is wandering aimlessly around the house because she can't decide what to do today. I haven't even picked up my breakfast dishes yet.

On the positive side, I am noticeably more relaxed. I may even go so far as to say I'm "unaffected". By anything. With one exception. Work. Fewer things ruffle my feathers, but I've otherwise seemed to maintain my former self. It takes more effort these days, which might explain why the peversely opposite is occuring in my personal life, but I'm still exploring that theory.

I don't know this person, and frankly she frightens me. Is this my body's natural response to calming the crazy while carrying our child? I sure hope so, because I can't stand myself some days.

The days I bother to care, of course.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Memories Echo

I was born with a congenital heart defect commonly known as VSD. It means there was a hole in it. My ticker fixed itself spontaneously before I turned 10 (although I don't quite know when, something I probably should), and I went on to live a pretty normal life. Physically speaking.

In my early years, I endured endless echocardiograms over what seemed like centuries. An evil crushing wand held by a tech wearing too much Charlie, skating across my tiny breastbone (with no padding at that point I might add), taking pictures of my broken heart. You do know that 20 minutes is a lifetime to a 4 year-old. It was intolerable.

Being pregnant, I'm once again under a cardiologist's care. Who knew your blood volume increases 40-50% during pregnancy and your heart works twice as hard? I always thought the potential issue would be delivery and the stress it may put on my heart -- not my first trimester. You can imagine my disappointment in being told they prefer natural delivery for people with my condition. I had always assumed I would have a C-section. No painfully waiting, panting or pushing. Scheduled and surprise -- baby! Not so much. I was misinformed.

Since it had been awhile, I was sent for another echo to rule out any stenosis and aortic stretching (if you look it up, I'm told it's not likely, so don't freak out). This appointment was the closest thing I've experienced to time travel. As soon, and I mean immediately, as she put that wand on my chest the intense need to get up and get it OFF of me was present. I lay twitching like a patient with a severe case of Tourette's. Mind you, this isn't a painful procedure, most people probably nap. But impressions formed as a child are ever-present, especially in those 20 minutes. It was, again, intolerable.

Ever seen your heart? It's the ugliest, scariest looking little machine...and yet beautiful and amazing at the same time. I can't for the life of me understand how it just keeps pumping. We are truly miracles, every one of us. And tomorrow I'll find out how fit my miracle is for pregnancy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Older than Dirt

That's about how I'm feeling right now. It may have something to do with the excitement couch-surfing and television brings me these days, or the level of difficulty in getting around despite being only 4 months pregnant, but I am feeling like a 70-year old woman.

What's provoked this line of thought in my consciousness? My littlest sister graduated from high school recently, which means I've been out for 18 years. That is not possible. The thought of a 20-year reunion (shudder) doesn't register. Of course, I probably won't be invited, like my 10-year when they didn't bother to find me. I wasn't that bad.

What gets me the most though is those things we did in our early 20s through early 30s that are now "over". Mainly freedom to be selfish. Right now I'm not necessarily missing getting hammered on random Thursday's, flirting with disaster (for the record I married him), and taking off for vacation on a whim. But I do mourn the passing of this phase. It was a good one.

Now it's marriage and anxiously and eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little Bean. I'm certain this will be a high point in my life as I reflect on my death bed (hopefully a long time from now), but this particular transition has me feeling aged. Gardening, nursery decorating, reading and eating healthy are my new hobbies. I've even taken to wearing a lot of cardigans. Basically becoming everything I never thought I'd be.

There is one thing for certain however that I know will not change. I will not be cutting my hair. Long live the long hair, even if it's gray (found one of those the other day too).

And now for a nap.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Little Less Heart

I made Silver Medallion by February*, and I would like the first three months of this year back.  I jumped through a wormhole and landed in June. To say I was busy is an understatement, and overwhelmed not quite powerful enough.

Trying to be perfect at everything. Which is impossible, in case you were wondering. It only took me 35 years to figure that one out. And I consider myself intelligent.

I wanted to quit my job. And while most people fantasize about this daily, I can truthfully tell you it never seriously crossed my mind in 14 years.Until March. I spent many sleepless nights pondering how I may actually do that (and of course my dramatic exit). Then this thing called reality stopped by to let me know that was not a good idea. A wine/grilled cheese/book/ice cream shop wasn't going to materialize overnight, and really, do I want to work weekends? And of course I recalled the numerous horror stories where the proverbial grass wasn't so green after all (just fertilized with bullshit). So I sucked it up and stuck it out.

Randomly, one day a friend/colleague/mentor/pain in my ass told me to take my heart out of it a little, after observing my soul-sucking posts on Facebook (also cheaper than therapy). People like me will always give more than necessary, and take it all personally. It's true, and it was killing me.

So I did...just a little. And mainly in regard to things that really don't matter (i.e. those I cannot control). Enough to maintain my sanity, and quite honestly the hardest thing I've ever done. But I learn quickly, and I practice often.

As a result, I'm saving my marriage, my friendships, and myself.  I learned that my 100% is perfectly acceptable and more like most people's 70%. I don't carry any guilt about leaving at 5:30 when I'm done with my work, as for every day I leave on time there are at least 10 where I've worked (or will) well past my 8 hours. Make no mistake, I am committed to my life's occupation and it has me by the hair (neck, arm and leg) while I'm there...

But it can no longer join me for dinner.

*Achieving Delta's Silver Medallion by February is just ridiculous, without opening a credit card. This milestone is typically not reached until June. I'm an overachiever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The $12,000 Question

The other night at dinner, I remarked at how inexpensive our greatest expense had become lately. On average, $60 less than usual. Seeing as a good 2/3's of every restaurant bill was booze, and that was usually me and my wine snobbery, pregnancy had turned me into a cheap date.

And then my husband remarked, "What do you think we spend on wine a year, $12,000?"

$12,000? As in dollars? No way, no how. That's insane. But he was pretty sure of his figure. So I did the math. And much to my chagrin, he was about right.

I came up with $8,000. Conservatively. Granted, I can technically claim it as a decorating expense since it's a must that I fill the wine hutch (and the cooler), but I do ultimately drink it. Or, I did. Now I just stare at it. Open it. Smell it. Rock the bottle to sleep.

Frankly, I was a little embarrassed. Not of how much I drank of course, but of how much I spent. The equivalent of some mortgages. But then I learned I was not alone. This figure was not surprising to friends and relatives that shall remain nameless, and in some cases exceeded my ridiculousness.

Seems this is a popular way of coping. I suppose it's cheaper than blow. Or therapy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And We're Off

I'm pregnant. That's about how I told my husband too. As he walked in the door, and before he put his keys down.

I didn't plan to pee on that stick. My evening was about to begin the way it always does -- by piercing a cork and letting it (and me) breathe. I opened the bottle. And, for some unknown cosmic reason, I POAS (peed on a stick).

Then there was a second red line, and I learned that there's no such thing as a false positive. Yep, you're preggers. No matter how "pink" or thin that line may be. No matter how many different brands of test you take, or what time of day, or even three days later. You are still pregnant.

It's a good thing I wanted to be. I just didn't think we'd be so good at it. It really does only take one time. It's beyond me how this didn't happen in the first eight years of our relationship.

I'm 6w1d. That's six weeks and one day. Another annoying abbreviation I picked up from the countless pregnancy forums I've been reading. Because I can't tell anyone, and my husband is tired of my constant questions, what ifs, and incessant and relentless desire for information. Already. It's gonna be a long nine months.

So I write. Which means, dear reader, that this blog post is 6 weeks old and I am now 12 weeks pregnant, well on my way to delivering our Christmas baby.

Don't worry, we'll catch up quick. For now, ponder this news. Baby. I'm overwhelmed, elated, excited, terrified, worried, consumed, and above all wondering what I did so right that I've been blessed with this precious gift.

We're having a baby. What a difference a year makes. Or three.

Don't worry. This isn't a baby blog. But I had to start somewhere.