high heels and grits

high heels and grits: April 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who's waiting when waiting tables

Before the baby we country folk went to the big city. No not Lubbock, Dallas! While in Dallas we decided to go out to eat. There may be a lot to see and do in Dallas but I love the restaurant scene.

I was am ambitious teenager. As soon as I could have a job (age 16) I had two jobs. By day I was a camp counselor and by night a steakhouse waitress. Both jobs fit my personality and satisfied everything I was looking for in a summer job. Two paychecks didn't hurt either...IF ONLY I had saved that 'fun money' and not eaten Chick-fil-a every day! Then again, only in my teens could I get away with eating Chick-fil-a every day. 

I digress... There is a HUGE difference in Dallas restaurant experiences and country restaurant experiences. I'm not talking Kenichi vs. Cracker Barrel. I mean really....the service in the country is slow. This is expected and embraced. Ok, maybe not embraced but it's dealt with because you have no choice. There aren't as many people in the country, so the waiter is going to enjoy your company, your food will be made fresh (or freshly defrosted) and you'll find little to complain about when the only other table is across the restaurant. This slower pace was a huge transition for this city girl but I've grown accustom to it. 

However, in Dallas?! No. Not expected and not embraced. With the restaurants so packed and waiters flying all over the place you expect attention and therefore fast service. During our recent trip, at this un-named restaurant, our waitress was as slow as molasses. Seriously. I understand if you're double sat or in the weeds, but this chick WALKED slow and TALKED slow. Think Daria. (Remember Daria?) I always thought she talked slow.

The worst part of the entire meal was towards the beginning when my dad asked for lemons for his iced tea (why didn't the tea come with a lemon to begin with?). She left the table for the lemons and went somewhere (not the kitchen because we could see the kitchen door). We see her walking towards us with the lemons but in route she decides to grab a water pitcher and refill water from another table and they ask for the check. So she goes to a POS, waits for the person using the POS to finish, and then prints the check and drops it at the table. THEN she brings my dad his lemons. 

Thankfully my parents had their back turned and didn't see this. My sister, husband and I saw her entire journey and knew we were doomed!  I am a firm believer in the common saying "everyone should work in a restaurant or retail at one point in their life". I totally agree. I even agree with Maria who writes "7 Things you Learn from Working in a Restaurant" Her final thought is working in a restaurant gives you the "inability to tip anything less than 25% for the rest of your life." I've been known to over tip. I even have my husband over tipping! 

HOWEVER, after you've worked in a restaurant you realize that it's NOT THAT HARD. That there are certain things you ALWAYS do. Like:

  1. Greet your guests as soon as they are seated so they know you saw them and they know they are important to you. There is nothing worse than looking around the restaurant like a pound puppy thinking "doesn't anybody love me?" Hubby and I have been known to leave restaurants if we don't get greeted in a timely manner. First impressions people, first impressions. 
  2. Bring lemon with iced tea (and water) <-- why has this stopped being the norm? Know that your table is probably watching your every move. And if you would rather stand in line at a POS than serve a table they will feel under appreciated and have a bad experience.
  3. Do the 360 turn! When you leave a table turn around in a complete circle and check ALL the tables around you- yes, even those tables that aren't yours. You'll notice something is needed, or a guest will ask you for something. It's a guarantee! Don't just walk away! Do you want your table to walk away from the check? Didn't think so. 
  4. I agree with Maria, in that the wait staff isn't a servant or a slave. However, they are the only way to get anything at a restaurant...if I could I would have grabbed those lemons out of her hand and given them to my dad! 
My husband paid for that lunch and I was sure to write a note on the check. Back in MY days the manager would read the credit card receipts to be sure you input the correct tip amount. So I always leave my notes on the credit card receipt. Is this still the case?

Am I turning into a bitter old lady? Sorry for the rant.


p.s. I would never work retail because I know I wouldn't have a paycheck after that job! I would spend everything on the inventory I was selling! I can only eat so much food so I took the restaurant route. Anyone feel differently?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Books I've read during my pregnancy

I've always loved to read. No matter where I am I'm reading something. I give credit to my mother and my grandmother (a retired librarian). Heck, I had a book themed baby shower!

It comes at no surprise that I remained an avid reader during my pregnancy. I'd like to share with you the books I read during my pregnancy and my personal book review.

     My favorite book this pregnancy was Ina May's Guide to Childbirth which speaks to the very natural process of childbirth. This hippy book is about a midwife who lives on a farm in Tennessee. Women would come from all over the nation to have Ina May and her team guide them in natural childbirth. Each woman becomes a part of the farm during their time before and after their childbirth. They clean their own cabin rooms, help with farming and even walk the woods during their beginning contractions.
     I heard about this book on a blog and I'm so glad I did! The beginning of this book contains stories of women who had natural births on 'The Farm'. The second half of the book, written by Ina May, speaks to the process of natural birth and explains terms and medications your doctor will mention. I will say this book is very biased. Ina May is completely against a medicated and hospital birth (she HAS had to take a high risk mother to a hospital for a birth - she's not cruel). But the 1960's hippy girl in her never died as she fights for women's rights and sticks it to "the man".

     When I heard about two friends from my Catholic elementary school becoming pregnant around the same time (1 year before I became pregnant) I was so happy for them! I wanted to send them a congratulations gift. I looked and looked for what I thought would be best and I came across this book. Unfortunately by the time I found this book I thought it was too late to send a congratulatory gift. But let's face it, it's never too late to send a gift!
    This book is a week by week journey through your pregnancy. Each week is about 2-4 pages beginning with what's medically going on in your pregnancy, followed by real life stories and advice from the author and finished with a prayer. The prayers were short and always had a challenge for the week: Dear Jesus, walk with me in these final weeks of pregnancy, and hold me close to your Sacred Heart. I am looking forward to meeting this baby, but I'm not necessarily looking forward to the process that gets me there. Keep me wise as I prioritize and focus always on God's will for my every day. Amen. See?  I loved this book because it was a light read before bed. Nothing too scary or too heavy.
     I just realized this book also has a chapter on baptism. I guess I need to read that (we haven't baptized Marshall yet).

     Another Catholic book I read throughout the nine months was Prayerfully Expecting by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. I knew the nine months of pregnancy would be a perfect novena opportunity. A novena is when you pray for nine days in a row. It sounds easy but it is really hard for me! I figured if I had nine months I would at least have 30 days to remember my novena commitment. Believe it or not I still fell behind!
     This novena is pretty intense. You really need to set aside time to pray this. Not only are you praying a rosary (which takes about 30 minutes) there are other prayers and meditations that go with each month. While this was the most challenging book to read/pray. It was also the most rewarding. If you're up for it, I say give this a try!

     Funny story. One day I was in a Salvation Army store because they were having a sale. $5 for as many books you can fit in a box. I found a What to Expect When You're Expecting and put it in the box. I figured "Hey, I'll be pregnant someday and these books are expensive!" What do you know, it came in handy! 
     As soon as I found out I was pregnant I read this book cover to cover. Seriously. And it was an AWFUL idea! While they guide you through month by month, there are many tangents you can take when you find a symptom throughout your pregnancy. Q: "I have gas, what does this mean?"  A: "Gas is very common for pregnant women, it is due to the change in hormones. However, if you have severe gas it could be a sign that this pregnancy will be horrible and you will have a severely painful birth!" I would proceed with caution with this book. It give a LOT of information, most of which I found unnecessary during my pregnancy. Just keep it by your side as a reference but definitely take your doctor's word over anything.

     When I wasn't reading I was visiting blogs, pinterest and the WhatToExpect website. One day on this website I found a message board for mothers due in March. I joined and someone shared that there was a Facebook group for mothers due in March that would work better than the message board. So I joined the March Mom facebook group. This community was a godsend. No really, God sent me this community. Without them I would have been a nervous wreck throughout the pregnancy. We were all going through similar symptoms at the same time. "Anyone buying new bras? Where are you getting yours?" "My body is doing this funny thing, anyone else?" "Is my baby bump supposed to look like this?" etc. 
We turned Wednesday's Hump Day into Bump Day and would share our belly bumps!
Faces distorted to protect privacy. It was a secret group on Facebook.

     My sister-in-law was the only person in my life who was pregnant around the time I was. This was her second baby and so she had her hands full with a toddler. With over 200 women in this Facebook group there was always someone to encourage you, comfort you and suggest medical attention. This group is still going strong today as we share milestones our babies are reaching. I've learned I'm already a competitive mom. I said to J the other day: "A baby in my mommy group is already rolling over. Should Marshall be rolling over? I'm going to see if he can roll over." yikes! It has begun!

High Heels!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

What happens PP (Postpartum)

My sister took this picture when MJ was 1 week old. 
Which means I'd been a new mom for one week! 
My expression sums up how overwhelmed I was after 1 week, haha!

I was so ready to become a mom. I read every blog and book out there! I thought I was so prepared for what would happen before, during and after the delivery of my son. However, I will admit I skimmed over the after part. 

I took advice from mothers close to me who said:
  • take everything from the hospital: disposable underwear, extra large pads (and I mean EXXTRA large), baby brushes, etc.
  • You won't sleep at the hospital or when you get home so get ready
  • You won't want to look, touch or even think about what happened down there - just mentally avoid that area all together. 
  • require anyone who holds your baby to wash their hands first
However there are a few things I didn't expect to happen. Let me share: 
  • You will lose your butt! It was so firm and tight and now it's flabby and loose. I was wondering why Tracy Anderson was so focused on the glut exercises during my pregnancy workouts... now I understand and it's depressing!
  • Your baby will not be a newborn for long! We're already out of newborn diapers (thankfully we flew through three boxes of newborn diapers in perfect timing). He outgrew newborn clothes by week 3.
  • Your boobs will be HUGE for a few days after delivery and then deflate. Womp womp (Don't buy new bras for this new "huge" stage, it only lasts a couple of days)
  • You will need night vision. You'll be nursing and changing diapers in the dark. Unless you want to turn on the light and confuse your newborn into thinking it's daytime. Therefore causing him to stay awake all night and sleep all day. Trust me - keep the lights off!
  • Breast milk will get EVERYWHERE. In some cases that's ok. They say breast milk can soothe baby acne or mucus in the eye - even diaper rash! But it will also be on on every shirt and pair of yoga pants you own. (Because you will only be wearing yoga pants in public now) I say "in public" because you may walk around the house naked. Or maybe in just a pair of boxers and a nursing bra. Seriously- no shame anymore you just squeezed a baby out of you know where! Your body is AWESOME.
  • Baby spit up will be everywhere too! Think you have enough burp cloths? Think again! Did you buy those onesies with clever sayings on them? Well that will be covered up by a bib until your baby out grows that onesie. Think not? well if your child isn't wearing a bib you'll be changing onesies non-stop because they are spitting up every 5 minutes! Oh, and you probably don't have enough bibs either. 
  • And finally, if you think you are a good person because you went to the baby shower, bought a gift and said "congratulations" the day your friend's baby was born; you're right you are a good person. But after you have a baby you realize a FREAKIN AMAZING person comes over, cleans the house of the new mommy, gives her time to nap and doesn't touch her baby's face and spread germs just in time to leave her with a sick baby. 
Of course you'll never truly understand ANY of this until you have a baby of your own. I just had a baby and I still can't believe half of it!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Birth Story

I am so honored to share with you the story of how our little boy entered the world!

     You need to know I read tons of books, tons of blogs and watched The Business of Being Born (it's on Netflix) prior to this day. I felt fully informed and aware of my options. I was 100% confident in our doula, Danielle, and in my husband. The three of us attended a doctor's appointment 9 days before the birthday. At this appointment the doctor wanted to know the size of the baby fearing the baby was too big for a vag delivery.
      My husband and I had hoped for a vaginal delivery for various reasons. First, the recovery time following a vaginal delivery is much shorter than a C-section recovery. But along with the vag delivery we wanted to stay away from pain medication. The whole "baby comes out drugged" excuse doesn't fly any more because the drugs used now-a-days don't effect the baby like that. So for us it was a spiritual exercise. In the Catholic faith suffering isn't seen as a bad thing. Hence why our churches have a crucifix hanging at the front showing the suffering of Christ. We believe it is through suffering that we are brought closer to Christ. He suffered and we can too. Life isn't easy, even the Son of God didn't take the easy way out. Also in our faith we believe you can offer your suffering to God for a special request. I had never heard of this before, but the thought of offering my labor pains for this unborn child seemed like the most amazing opportunity to prepare for his future. Forget the college fund, let's store up his treasures in heaven!
     Our goal was an all natural birth. At that last appointment we learned the baby weighed 7lb 6 oz so he was technically small enough for a vaginal delivery. I was so happy! They estimate babies gain half a pound a week, so he would be 8lbs at birth. Hopefully that natural birth I wanted.
      Imagine my surprise when my due date came and went, when my doctor demanded an induction and I was scheduled to be in the hospital at 41 weeks and 3 days. Most doctors don't want their patients to go past 42 weeks, for the safety of the baby and mom. My doctor was the same way. I was stubborn and wanted my water to break naturally, I wanted the "It's time" moment with my husband. Instead we arrived at the hospital with water bag in tact and facing the induction we didn't want.
      In the end we realized it was better for me to be at the hospital on a schedule. I'm such a planner it would have driven me crazy to have no control over when my water would break. So we came to terms with it and thanked God for giving us what we needed, not what we wanted.
       I checked into the hospital at 7:30 p.m. My doula, Danielle, met us in the "ambient birthing suite" a larger than normal hospital room with 
  • large flat screen TV (we never turned this on)
  • glider rocker (my new best friend)
  • birthing ball (my other best friend) 
  • squatting bar (never got to this side of the room)
  • XM radio with surround sound (never turned this on)
  • alternative lighting (it was AWESOME to be able to dim the lights and keep the room dark during the night hours)
  • mats for birthing positions (never used these)
  • portable monitors  (an absolute MUST!!)
     As a first time mom the check-in process was intimidating. We had to sign contracts and liability forms for things you hoped weren't going to happen. When it came time to sign the C-section form I hesitated. "Just because I'm signing this doesn't mean you're going to cut me open right?" I found it important to ask these questions and feel I had control over my choices in the hospital. I wasn't sick, I was just pregnant. The nurse checking us in was surprised with all the questions we asked. I could tell it was going to be an interesting night... As my doula left she reminded us that first time deliveries are an average of 12 hours, some shorter some longer. We prepared for a peaceful night followed by a long day of labor.
     The plan was to dilate over night with a slow releasing progesterone insert cytotec. Following a 2 hour check in process (talk about anxiety!) we finally settled down and prepared to sleep through the night. The last time I looked at the clock it was 11:00 p.m. The next time I looked at the clock it was 11:30 p.m. I couldn't sleep through this dilation! I couldn't get comfortable on the bed and I needed to move around. Thankfully my doctor was OK with the wireless monitoring available in the doula room. Instead of being attached to a machine with wires limiting my movement I was attached to the machines through wireless monitoring. The BEST idea EVER!
     From 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 am I remember standing up, sitting in a rocking chair, eating ice chips and going tinkle a lot! I was given fluids via an IV throughout the night so while I wasn't drinking, I was being hydrated. My husband was a champ through this beginning stage of labor. He reminded me who to offer my pain for (I had a list of many people, living and deceased to offer my pain for). I remember telling him the pain was too much and that if I needed the Pitocin after this I would take pain medication because this just felt awful! His first response was silent. When I mentioned it again he gave me a vague reply like "We'll see". But I never screamed out in pain "GIVE ME THE MEDS!"
       The nurse came in at 2:00 a.m. and checked my cervix. The only time I was in the bed was when she checked my cervix and that was the only time I was in EXCRUCIATING pain. Again, so happy I went with the wireless monitoring.  She said I had progressed so much that we wouldn't even need the Pitocin or induction medication! Thanks be to God! I knew this meant I could do this natural which meant I could do this! I pumped myself up and got ready for the natural birth I wanted.
      My doula, Danielle, arrived at 5:00 a.m. her scheduled arrival time. She heard from the nurse I was dilated to 5 cm. When she walked in she said "You should have called me earlier." My husband and I just looked at each other, clueless. We thought it was going to take 12 hours...we're not even in active labor yet! While I was happy to see Daneille, I was even more happy to see the birthing ball (we couldn't find it)! This yoga ball on wheels with a kid's wagon handle. Such a brilliant invention.
      I think my husband was happy to have her there. Now we had an advocate on our side, someone who knows how the natural birthing process works and he finally got to take a break. I remember seeing him laying on the floor stretching his back. I thought he was sleeping! I felt so bad for keeping him up all night (I had actually kept him up the night before at home, he was going on 4 hours of sleep!).
     Once Danielle got there the energy in the room changed. I now had a woman's hand massaging me along with my husband's hand. The ying and yang of her gentle touch to his firm touch was distracting and helpful. I had her new voice and words of motivation and my husbands familiar voice and focused mantras. Knowing I was surrounded by so much love and support, at some point I became fully focused on laboring. I found a rhythm in the contractions. I found a happy place sitting on the birthing ball and leaning over the bed grasping a pillow while I looked into my husband's eyes. I found my previous experience with hot yoga helped me in my breathing as I exhaled "Shhhhh" during the contractions. 
     Around maybe 6:30 a.m. Danielle said to me "You're doing go great!" and I replied "Well, I keep telling myself I haven't even hit transition yet, so this is only the beginning!" The delay in reply from Danielle hinted to me that I was actually going through transition at the very moment! She never told me I was in transition and I never asked. I just kept going and expecting much more pain. 
    Then there was the throw up and my water breaking while I stood by the bed. It wasn't a gush because the bag was bulging and the baby was pressing on it. Finally around 7:30 a.m. I had this incredible urge to go number 2. I went to sit on the toilet and couldn't bring myself to sit all the way down. But I really felt I had to go number 2!! I was thinking "well, I'll just go on the floor if I can't sit down". Then Danielle called the nurse and everything began.
    Nurses rushed into my room,  they got me on the bed and said I was dilated to a 10. One nurse said the baby would slide out at any moment. I'm thinking "What?! No, I just really need to use the bathroom". They were setting up the stirrups, I couldn't leave the bed. No more walking around. I was so exhausted at that point I was happy to stay in bed. It didn't hurt to lay down anymore...then again I was just so tired!
    My doctor came in to the room and made a joke. I was so out of it I didn't laugh and he said "Come on, not even a smile?" I smiled but I have no clue what I was smiling about. Then he reached in and broke the rest of the bag. It felt weird, no pain. It sounded like a rubber band being snapped, but it felt like a balloon being pinched to exhale the air...not a dramatic POP! My team of husband, doula, doctor and now 3 or 4 nurses were telling me to begin pushing. This was when things finally got difficult. I had no clue what to do! I had never had a baby before! I didn't know how to use those muscles! They told me to hold my breath and push. I didn't hear them say they needed me to hold and push for 10 seconds. I could only hold and push until count 7 or 8. And I could tell I wasn't pushing correctly. 
     They kept saying "You can do it!" which I thought to myself "Yea, I know I CAN I just don't know HOW." The doctor got a little frustrated and left the room to check on another patient. Then a nurse stepped in and pointed to the area where I needed to focus my energy. Danielle had brought a mirror, so I could see the baby's head and understood a little better what I was supposed to be doing. They also raised up these handles I could grab on to with my hands so I could push myself into a crunch position easier. THANK GOD FOR NURSES, they knew exactly what I needed. They had me push more without the doctor and he was called back in 5 minutes later. He gave me an episiotomy and a few pushes later our son was born!
    Marshall didn't really cry when he was born, he was making noises so we knew he was ok. Hubby got to cut the umbilical cord, which, I was told, was really thick and tough. I think when the doctor started suctioning out his mouth the baby started to cry. Then they placed him in on my chest (a process called skin-to-skin), he stopped crying, I looked at his pretty little face and my husband leaned over and kissed me saying "You did so good!" A moment I'll never forget.
     There were so many nurse hands on the baby cleaning him off and taking his apgar test (he scored an 8 the first time). I don't even know if I was holding him, I was so tired my legs and arms were like jello! We began breastfeeding immediately and it seemed so easy! My doctor was stitching up my 3rd degree episiotomy and I could tell my husband just wanted to get his hands on his son. Eventually my husband held him, bathed him, put on his diaper and got his birth measurements. He was 22 inches long and our "too big for vag birth baby" estimated at 7lbs 6oz was 8lbs 11.8oz! 8lbs 12 oz baby! That ultrasound was off by a pound!

     We are so blessed and happy with our birthing experience. We know God gave us the doula, doctor and nurses we needed for this to go well. But honestly the best part of this process was growing together as a couple. I couldn't imagine anyone else by my side on that day!