Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Favorite Things about Living in a Small Town {in the Midwest}

I have been listing off ideas in my brain for a few months of the positives of moving back to a small town.  All of my experiences with small towns are in the Midwest, so I don't know if small towns out of the Midwest are the same or not.  In no particular order:

Positives of Small Town Life

  • I don't need my GPS to get many places.  I think I used my GPS to get to the grocery store for the first month we lived in Littleton.  And I used my GPS all the time to get anywhere out of the ordinary.  I think I used my GPS for half a day around Paulding and then maybe a week or two to get around Defiance and Van Wert.  There are still times I need to pull it out, but for the most part, I can think of a place and drive there and not need elaborate directions.
  • The cost of living is lower.  I am a fairly frugal person so saving money is a big perk for me.  I LOVE that I can get a latte for less than four dollars and that it taste better than my more-than-five-dollar Starbucks.  THE MIDWEST HAS ALDI.  And now it is cool to go to Aldi (unlike when I was a kid and I was so embarrassed that my mom shopped at Aldi).  Our car insurance dropped over $125 per month.  Our rent for a two bedroom house is about half of what our one bedroom apartment was in Englewood.  
  • People are friendly.  People acknowledge other people by smiling and saying, "Hi" even if they don't know each other. Strangers will stop and talk to Samuel in stores and try to coax a smile out of him. 
    • Related: People are kind.  Receptionists are so much more helpful on the phone (in my opinion).  We are on our third doctor for Samuel (2 in Denver due to insurance changes) and then 1 here.  Instead of handing you a bunch of papers to try to fill out while entertaining an infant, the nurses here ask questions and fill out paperwork for you.  And offer Samuel flavored tongue depressors to play with while asking you questions.  Is it efficient? Probably not, but it is nice.
  • People do not drive crazy.
  • There are possibly six stoplights in our whole entire town.  I drove through 30 to get to work every day in Denver.
  • Folks tend to be more conservative. I am conservative. It is draining to be around liberals who belittle conservatives.  You are welcomed to have an opinion as long as you are open minded to other people having different opinions and being respectful of their opinions.
  • Specific to life in Ohio: You can always count on having something flavored "buckeye".  My new favorite latte is a buckeye latte.  My favorite cupcake is also a buckeye.  The rest of America needs to jump on the chocolate + peanut butter bandwagon.  I would suggest the rest of the world needs to jump on the bandwagon but the rest of the world views Americans to be cray-cray for our love of peanut butter, much less peanut butter + chocolate. 
  • The Midwest understands how to plow roads AND embraces said understanding. I will take plowed roads with tax payer's salt on them and thus the ensuing potholes over driving in Denver's unplowed streets any day.
Samuel is thankful that we have our own yard with leaves that he can eat any time he wants.
One positive of moving out of Colorado - every time I have smelled skunk, I have seen a skunk (usually dead on the road).  After smelling a whole lotta weed over the last four or five years, I will take the skunks.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankfuls 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!  Ever since I have been a little girl I have been making a list of 100 things I am thankful for each year on (or close to) Thanksgiving Day.  The tradition was started by my mom on a car ride out to Iowa to visit family for Thanksgiving and has continued.

Thankfuls for 2017 (in no particular order):
1. God - faithful, kind, compassionate, sovereign
2. Wheelchairs
3. My wife (said by Ian)
5. Coffee
6. a job
7. leftovers!
8. Samuel Cary
8.5 Coach P and Heather
9. My husband (said by Alissa)
10. naps

From Samuel:
11. Corn Toothbrush (and all chew toys in general)
12. Wind Chimes
13. Boxes that one can sit in
14. End of Nap time
15. Sitting on Dad/ Grandpa's shoulders
16. People (repeatedly) picking up what I have dropped
17. Tylenol for teething
18. warm hats for cold walks
19. pacis (and blessed silence - added by Samuel's Mom)
20. Halloween is only once a year
21. the Jumparoo - thanks to Uncle Dan and Aunt Sara

22. car rides and walks that put Samuel to sleep
23. police and firefighters
24. craft beer
25. dishwashers
26. water bottles
27. restaurants to go to when you don't feel like cooking
28. disposable diapers
29. gyms
30. dreadmills for cold days or dark nights
31. fitbit
32. community that embraces (and celebrates) us like family
33. witnessing the joy and delight brought to grandparents by Samuel
34. Christmas music
35. all the people who have helped, encouraged, and supported us as we have moved
36. catalogs that come in the mail
37. friends that listen with their hearts
38. the Bible
39. drive throughs
40. DQ Blizzards
41. Target
42. Costco (costco diapers - see #28)
43. Vista being family
44. good co workers
45. health insurance
46. taking the Fit in to get a new turn signal and getting the air conditioner fixed by surprise
47. sweet potato souffle
48. epidurals
49. caesarean section for when things do not go as planned
50. smart phones
51. Chick fil A 
52. doughnuts (and students who came to doughnuts and derivatives)
53. Calc 3 MIT Lectures on youtube
54. bouncy seats, swings, boxes, high chairs, strollers, and other things that contain Samuel
55. times that we communicate clearly
56. deodorant
58. Mom forums
59. Necklaces that Samuel can safely on
60. misletoe
61. air conditioning
62. stevia
63. decaffeinated beverages
64. La Croix
65. Coke
66. special egg rolls
67. soccer
68. cross country and track
69. dogs (said by Ian)
70. books
71. trees
72. flowers
73. wreaths
74. crisp morning air
75. smooth running trails
76. sea salt dark chocolate
77. white noise maker
78. wood burning fireplaces
79. magic eraser
80. foot rubs
81. ponytail holders
82. real cream for coffee
83. moving company
84. Hadley Rose and the Donkey
85. technology that keep us in touch with family and friends
86. shoes
87. the fact that no one can stay awake forever
88. gum
89. we survived seminary
90. wine
91. cinnamon rolls
92. the Babylon Bee
93. eggs
94. slippers
95. bacon
96. paper snowflakes
97. those that welcome us with open arms
98. magic the gathering (said by Ian)
99. scented candles
100. Grandpa and Kathryn

Monday, June 5, 2017

seven years

Today is our SEVEN year wedding anniversary - wootwoot! I thought I would share seven things I love about Ian (in no particular order).

1. Ian points us to Jesus and the Gospel. 
He is so faithful in this. We have friends that say, "Everything is negotiable... except us and Jesus." Ian has adopted this for us as well. I can get caught up in superficial things, but Ian stays focused on eternity.

2. Ian knows me better than I know myself.
There are times that I am externally processing my life and Ian will say something and I am like, "Boom! Yes! How do you know me better than I know myself?" or we will play, "Guess what Alissa is thinking right now?" And he can guess 100% of the time (even when I think I am thinking crazy weird not related to what we are doing thoughts).

3. Ian believes in me, encourages me to be brave, and chase my dreams.
Sometimes I am asked to take on big projects and I lack the self-confidence that I can do it. Or sometimes I lack the courage to do small things (like talk to people). Ian reminds me of what I have already accomplished, who I am (You are Alissa Ferguson, you work hard, and you can do it.) and what others have said to me.  Some of my proudest accomplishment I would never have attempted if it was not for Ian cheering me on.

4. Ian can make me laugh even when I have zero desire to find humor in a situation.
I don't know how he does it.  I can go from fuming angry to cracking up (and calmer) in moments when Ian reframes our situations. He also cracks himself up, which is good because I do not make him laugh often enough.

5. Ian is patient with me.
I am not very patient with myself (and sometimes others). I want everyone to have the same unreasonably high expectations that I do. I have said this many times, but it is still true - I am so glad I am not married to me.  It is good that I am married to Ian.

6. Ian speaks truth into my life.
Worry Kills.
Expectations are meant to be broken.
You need a pedicure.

Just a few of the truth bombs that Ian has dropped in my life in the last few months.

7. Ian still sees life as an adventure.
I probably would have lost the adventure mindset somewhere along the way (when we moved back to America) but Ian still reminds me that we need are in adventure mode and that we are on an adventure because we are changing the world.

seven years later
Bonus: He buys me ice cream. And he rubs my feet. Some said it would not last after we got married - it has. He is my favorite and my bestie.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The birth of Samuel Cary part 5 - the C section

I am writing this post to try to remember all the details of our son's birth - maybe too many details.  Feel free to read along or just scroll through and look at pictures.

I did not finish this post for a long time (like 10.5 months AFTER Samuel was born) so here are my foggy memories:

Once the forceps did not work, I knew that I was going to have a c section.  I pretty much just laid in there and cried and tried to not cry while people went into action.  Dr. Bozeman was really sweet and as I was signing my life away he told me, "You tried everything you could. You are not failing." My response was to cry harder and ask Ian to bring puke bags into the Operating Room with us.

Ian was getting scrubs on.  Dr. Bozeman was stitching me (becuase I pushed long enough/ hard enough / whatever enough to tear).  Even with an epidural it was not a pleasant experience.  I found out that Sara could not go with us into the operating room.  Only one person was allowed and we thought it would be good if Samuel's father was there for his birth.  I was nervous about Ian holding the puke bags.

They wheeled me into the operating room.  People kept walking up to me and introducing themselves and telling me their duties.  I did not care in the least at that moment, but I do remember thinking, "there are SO MANY people in here".  I had to be switched to a different bed and I was so impressed by how amazingly smooth the procedure went (I am guessing this is part of people's every day job, but for someone who has never stayed in the hospital for longer than a few hours, I was impressed!)

Dr. Bozeman had another doctor assisting him with the procedure.  It just so happened to be Dr. Jill Ingenito.  Dr. Ingenito just so happened to be the doctor who removed my arm stick 38 weeks and 5 days before Samuel was born.  She told me to start taking prenatal vitamins and to stop drinking alcohol (at that time).  I was all like, "Oh it is going to take us years to get pregnant.  I will think about possibly starting prenatals soon." Dr. Bozeman and Dr. Ingenito had a chuckle about it.  I was not chuckling.

Anyway, I do remember that there were two anesthesiologists or one anesthesiologist and one assistant to the anesthesiologist.  One was a man and one was a woman.  The woman anesthesiologist gave me the play by play of what was happening.  She stood above me and would hold my face in her hands and bend over and talk right into my face any time she wanted to tell me something.  At the time, it was reassuring and sweet.

Dr. B and Dr. I were doing going about the c section and shooting the breeze like it was no big deal.  I was crying, trying not throw up any more, and trying to process my life.  I did throw up once or twice in the operating room.  I can't remember if it was before or after Samuel was born.

They did announce, "Your son is about to be born.... He is here!" (I don't remember what they said but it was something along those lines.)  Soon, I could hear his cry.  I had not really stopped crying in the last 45 minutes, so I just kept crying.  

Ian went over to check on him and ended up cutting the umbilical cord (not by his consent, but it makes for a funny memory). Eventually they brought Samuel all swaddled up in a blanket over to let me see him and hold him.  The man anesthesiologist took a couple "first family pictures" I did not look at the camera.  I did not smile.  I laid there and cried.  I don't know if I even held Samuel.  Then they took Samuel and Ian off somewhere.  I can't remember when I stopped crying, but I was trying to pull myself together while they stitched me up.

I feel like it was half an hour later that I was wheeled into an alcove of a hallway with a chair for Ian.  Samuel was in his little plastic bed thing, just taking the world (I was surprised he was not crying). Ian and I tried to process our life and call people and send pictures etc.  We did it!  We had become parents.  Ian did not faint.  I did not make it anywhere close to having an unmedicated all natural birth, but a few months later I would finally accept it.  We did find out that Samuel had a slightly over 15 inch circumference of his head which is huge.  One nurse practitioner mentioned that I may have broken my pelvis or something if I had pushed him out (Lordhavemercy).  Samuel Cary weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces and was 21.5 inches long when he was born at 3:01pm. 

I could probably ramble on and on about our stay in the hospital but I will end here.  The adventure of parenting has just begun.  We are so thankful for our friends and family that supported us so much the first few weeks of Samuel's life.  We would not have made it without yall.  Much love and thanks.

The birth of Samuel Cary part 4 - the pushing

I am writing this post to try to remember all the details of our son's birth - maybe too many details.  Feel free to read along.

Once Casey came back she asked if Ian would like to cut the cord after the baby was born.  His reply was a solid, "NO!" Then she asked me if I wanted to cut the cord after the baby was born.  My reply was also a solid, "NO!" Our friend, Sara, was there and so Casey asked her and she was like, "Of course! That would be so cool!"

I told Casey that this was my first rodeo as far as giving birth and Ian and I had not attended any birthing classes or really had any idea what we were doing.  She assured us that this was okay and that she would just teach us her own method.

I was supposed to wait for a contraction (which I could not really feel all that much) and then hold my breathe and push. Casey would count to ten. I would exhale, inhale and repeat. And a third time. It sounded so easy.

On the second or third push Casey told us, "Your baby has hair!" I thought, "YES! This is working wootwoot!" and on the push after that, "He has long dark hair." I was encouraged.

Aunt Sara and Samuel
The story gets fairly boring for the next few hours.  I pushed and I pushed. I started throwing up about an hour or so into the pushing.  God Bless Sara and Ian.  Sara held the puke bag and helped me rinse me mouth out after I threw up each time.  Good thing the room was well stocked with puke bags. Ian was so great!  He held my leg and was so encouraging. (I kept waiting for him to pass out or something and he did not.  He hung in there for the entire process and was so great!) Actually everyone was encouraging.  I specifically remember asking Casey how I was doing at one point and she told me that 75 to 80% of my pushing was good.  The main thing I HATED was holding my breathe. I could rant about that for a long time. I don't think the person who proposed holding one's breathe while trying to push what feels like a bowling ball out of one's self did not had any experience in doing so.

Casey was SO GREAT! She was so encouraging and she did not give up on me. She was the slowest count-er to ten that I have ever met.  I would try to count to ten slowly in my mind and I would be at twenty and she would be at six.  One thing that I will always laugh about is my memory of pushing.  I told Ian later, "I know I pushed for three hours, but I was only pushing like every 10 or 15 minutes... so it wasn't really that much." He looked at me with a shocked face and said, "No. I was watching the monitor, you were pushing every 2 to 4 minutes." Hahaha - time can become a funny thing.

At one point after I had thrown up and was feeling exhausted, I pathetically asked Ian, "Once this is all done (and in my brain I added, "And I survive this ordeal alive...") can you please find me some Sprite." The only thing I want after throwing up is Sprite.  Of course I was restricted to ice chips. Ian agreed to find me some Sprite.

At one point I think they may have turned down my epidural so that I could feel the contractions so I would know when to push as it was not timing out correctly.  I can't really remember... it is part of the fog now.

I don't remember how far along we were, but at one point Casey asked me how much I had left in the tank.  I gave a pretty vague answer. I did not feel like I knew. At that point it felt like I was going to spend the rest of my life pushing as I was not really making any progress.  

Dr. Bozemann came in around the two and half or three hour mark of pushing.  He said that I had four options:
  1. Turn the epidural off and let nature take its course - Um, NO, I was not about to do that.
  2. Keep pushing - well I had not really progressed (in my opinion) in the last three hours, so I am not sure why this was an option
  3. Try forceps or vacuum - I was not crazy about this option.
  4. C-section - at that moment in time I thought, "I will do anything so that I do not have to have a c-section."
My only "birth plan" was: do whatever the trained people tell me to do. Unfortunately all the medically trained people were like, "What do you want to do?" and Ian and I were like, "Tell us what to do!" By order of elimination we decided to try forceps.

I don't remember a whole lot at this point - they had me put my legs in stirrups and my legs started shaking uncontrollably. They did a quick ultrasound to see what way the baby was facing.  A LOT of people started coming in the room. I think I tried to keep pushing through most of this because trying to breathe through a contraction and not push was WAY more painful than pushing.

Once everything was ready, they told me to push. Sweet Lord Jesus, Rapture Me Now. Pushing with forceps was hands down the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life.  I was willing to do anything in that moment to not experience that pain again.  I screamed (from pain) and then started crying (because I knew I was going to have to have a c-section).  

The birth of Samuel Cary part 3 - the unnatural labor (aka magical unicorns, rainbows, and puppies)

I am writing this post to try to remember all the details of our son's birth - maybe too many details.  Feel free to read along.

At 7am Dr. Bailey, an anesthesiologists, came in and introduced herself.  Ali, our night nurse, was there too.  Ian was awake and hanging out.  I was scared to get the epidural and exhausted and discouraged.  Dr. Bailey was amazing! She was direct and quick.

I sat on the edge of the bed and hugged a pillow.  Ali directed Ian to sit on a little stool that had wheels on the bottom and be near me (I whispered in an angry voice for him to back up - sorry Love - I laugh now when I think back on it.) I don't remember all the directions, but at one point Dr. Bailey said that I would feel a sting in my back (a tiny bit painful, but nothing in comparison to contractions or other pain I have felt in my life). I cried during the procedure (spoiler alert: I cried a lot during the whole giving birth process).  Why did I cry? I am not 100% sure - I think I was disappointed in myself for getting an epidural.  Dr. Bailey said the whole procedure took about 17 minutes. 

Napping in his Baby Box
Once I got all hooked up and good to go, I was told to lay on my back for 20 minutes to let the medicine disperse correctly. Glory, glory, hallelujah - I got to lay on my back after months of being told not to. One thing I did not know was that once you have an epidural, you are not allowed to get out of bed and need to be catheterized (how did all of my friends leave this part out of their stories!?!).  I told myself that I did not really have a choice and to just get over it.  In case you are wondering the PRO of having an epidural far outweighs the CON of having a catheter put in.

Since it was coming up on shift change time, Dr. Webster and Ali came by.  Dr. Webster checked things out and told me I was 6 cm dilated (wootwoot!). Then she said that she was wrong and I was only 3 (bummer!). Dr. Webster (I think her name was Kelcey) told me that she was going off and Dr. Bozeman was coming on duty.  She mentioned that he had a lot of experience and if she ever had to deliver using forceps, he would be the person she would choose. (At the time, Ian and I found it to be a weird tidbit to share.) 

his favorite position to nap - being held
My new nurse, Casey, came on shift and introduced herself to me. I love Casey! She will forever be remembered as the best nurse that has ever lived and all future nurses will have to live up to her crazy awesomeness.  She told us a little bit about herself and that she was good with me hanging out for awhile.

After they left, Ian mentioned that he was tired and hungry (and I think I gave him the death stare) and he headed out to find some breakfast.  I told him, "Under no circumstances will you bring a cup of coffee into this room!" Clearly the epidural did not take all of my unkindness away. I drifted in and out of sleep for a little while.  At one point someone came in the room for me to sign some papers.  I think I would have signed anything at that point. I think one was for the hospital to take photos of the baby later (which we opted out of), one was for a hepatitis B vaccine, and one was something super crazy like "if you are about to die, can we try these things to keep you alive".

Once the epidural kicked in, my contractions slowed down so they put me on pitocin to keep things moving. I felt nothing! (and I was ecstatic about feeling nothing). I tried to get some rest as I knew we had a long day ahead of us.

I woke up around 9:30 or so and found our friend Sara chatting with Ian. We filled her in on what had happened and we were just shooting the breeze. We decided to take bets on when the baby would be born.  I remember that I thought 6pm. Ian said 3pm, Dan said 2pm, and Sara said 4pm.  I don't remember what anyone else guessed.  I do remember thinking, "TWO P.M.!?!? These people are crazy, I won't even be fully dilated by then."  I told Ian that he needed to tweet out, "Have a good day!" for me so the kids would know that I was in labor at the hospital.

Around 10:30 or so I felt "different" like I needed to pee (but I had an empty bladder). Casey came by (or we called her, I can't remember) and she checked - I was 10 cm and ready to push.  I was SHOCKED. (At pretty much every point in this story I was shocked and in denial but this was probably the most shocking part - I felt exactly the same at 10 cm as I did at 1 cm).

Casey told me that she needed to go pump for her 6 month old daughter and that she would be back in half hour and start pushing.  If you have been reading along on these pregnancy posts and labor posts than it will not be hard for you to believe that I was in disbelief and denial.  To help the thirty minutes pass we turned on the TV and watched some show on HGTV about people who win the lottery and then use the money to buy a house and furnish it.  I don't know if we really paid attention, but we all pretended to watch it.  (We never turned the TV off so I can remember throughout the next couple of hours seeing the TV still on and chuckling in my head.)

The birth of Samuel Cary part 2 - "The All Natural Labor"

The point of this post is so that I can remember what happened - feel free to read along.

While I was being admitted, hooked up to an IV, and monitored, Ian and I were having a full on conversation about what he needed to do - mainly run home for stuff and fill the car (with the car seat in it) up with gas.  Since I had not packed a bag for the hospital (it was on my to-do for that day) I was saying a lot of things like, "... in the bottom drawer of the dresser there are gray fleece sweatpants, get those..." Ian was googling, "What to pack in the hospital bag" and I am pretty sure our nurse, Ali, thought we were crazy.

The way our health insurance provider works is they have two OB/GYNs rotate through the labor and delivery unit at the hospital.  The first doctor was really nice - Dr. Webster - I think.  My blood pressure was a little bit elevated, so she gave me some possible scenarios that we would be facing and I expressed my desire to do whatever was best.  However I really, really, really wanted to go all natural.  Dr. Webster was so nice!  She let me get out of bed and do whatever for an hour and then I had to get in bed and be monitored for 20 minutes.

Once Ian left (around 1 am I think), Ali brought an exercise ball in for me. My contractions were really manageable at this point.  I knew that I should try to rest, but once someone told me that I was having a baby, I had way too much adrenaline in my system to try to sleep or be stationary.  I spent a lot of time walking with my IV cart (super annoying - you would think in 2017 they could invent an IV cart that would move easily), bouncing on the ball, and just trying to breathe through each contraction.  I can't really describe how a contraction feels - mine were all in my back - the main issue is I could not find a comfortable position (and I tried every position known to man) to be in.  Once the contraction would pass, I would be fine, but in the middle - oh man - they were not fun.

I think Ian got back to the hospital around 3 am and I was definitely feeling the contractions at that point (I was having contractions when we first arrived at the hospital - I just did not notice them).  There was a couch/bench in the room and Ian stretched out and went to sleep.  Before he drifted off, he reminded that we live in a day and age of epidurals and that I have choices.  I don't know what I replied, but it was not the kindest.

Around 4 or 5, Ali came in to hook me up for monitoring and the contractions were getting really unbearable while I was in bed.  I would just sit and watch the clock waiting for 20 minutes to pass and for Ali to come back and let me get up and move around again for 40-60 minutes.  This time, though, the baby's heart rate did not measure the way they wanted it to, so I had to stay in bed for more monitoring.  I was really discouraged in that moment.  Ian was asleep, I had just talked myself off the ledge for 20 minutes, and Ali did not know how much longer I had to stay in bed.  Thankfully, the baby's heart rate returned to normal in the next 10 minutes and I think I jumped out of bed.

I do not have a great memory of timing, but it was starting to feel like I was having three contractions back to back and then a break for 10 to 15 minutes.  I really wanted a tall (bar height?) counter to lean against during each contraction.  Yet, there was only a normal counter for the sink.  I was starting to have a hard time thinking during each contraction. 

I had a little conversation with myself that basically went like this, "Could I keep going all natural?" YES! "For how long?" I don't know.  "Will you be in any shape to push if you get no sleep tonight and labor takes 12 more hours and you are not allowed to eat?" Probably not. "Do you want to bite your husband's head off each time he tries to be nice to you?" No. "Can you continue to sit in bed and be monitored for 20 minutes at a time and not move around if the contractions get stronger?" Maybe, but it is torturous. 

So at 6am I told my nurse Ali that I would take an epidural. She said that two other people had just requested epidurals as well.  I told her I was not in a hurry and the other two could get theirs first.
how I felt during contractions
Other things I remember from this part:
  • Ali was a traveling nurse from the Dallas area.  Her accent was so cute!
  • I went to the bathroom several times.  Getting the IV cart in and out of the bathroom was not easy (did I mention that the person who designed the IV cart would not be rated (by me) as effective at their job?).
  • Our hospital room was near the helicopter landing pad - I would not have known this except there was a little blinking in our room ALL night.  I was so annoyed by it! (I was pretty much annoyed by everything to be honest).
  • At 3am (or so) I realized that I needed to put in for a sub on Monday so I bounced on the exercise ball and went online to put in for a sub for Monday and Tuesday. It took me awhile to get it done, but I did it!
  • Ian texted his parents and my parents around 2am to tell them we were at the hospital - I was not the happiest camper about this (I wanted to wait until 8 or 9).  I don't remember why it felt like such a big deal at the time but it did.