Kristina

I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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June 10, 2013

Raw zucchini salad

This salad was a pretty happy accident. It’s inspired by one that Melanie showed me how to make years ago, that I’ve been making faithfully every summer since. But I made a few changes to it this time, mostly because I didn’t have everything on hand and sometimes I just cannot bear to get in the car and go to the store. Especially when we have so much growing out back at the moment. You’ll see by the only photo I snapped, we (I) devoured it.

We’ve been trying to have Sunday dinner as a family in the backyard. I love it. But sometimes I don’t start prepping in time and before we know it it’s 5:30 and the kids need to eat and it’s overwhelming to try to feed 4 of us in 1/2 an hour. But I was determined last Sunday. I started prepping early in the day (slicing and salting zucchini, boiling french lentils) and by 5 I was throwing together this salad. The original recipe calls for tomatoes (and squash, basil, and walnuts), but I didn’t have them. And was starting to despair that it wouldn’t be delicious enough to even eat, let alone BLOG.

And then kitchen magic happened. It was a true necessity = invention moment. Be warned, as per my ongoing discussions with Jamie via Instagram, my recipes are loose. But believe in your own approximate measurements! You can always add salt or acid at the end if you need it. And note, you need an hour of resting time for the zucchini before you can move ahead with the salad so plan accordingly. Here goes:

First zucchini of summer salad
(You know, when you’re crazy excited to eat them?)

3-4 zucchini and squash
coarse sea salt

1 big-ish shallot, minced
lemon juice and/or white wine vinegar
sea salt
pinch of sugar (maybe, I kind of forget)
yummy olive oil

chopped, toasted walnuts
avocado
mint, basil, or any other herbs you have around
arugula

Thinly slice zucchini and squash, preferably with a mandolin. I do this right into the colander, but if you don’t, set the slices in a colander and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let sit for an hour (or more), preferably in the sink or over a plate to collect the drips. At this point I like to wander off and do something else for a while, especially if I’ve started the squash early enough in the day. But you could just plunge ahead with your prep.

While the zukes are resting, make the dressing. Combine the shallot and vinegar with a hearty pinch of sea salt in a large bowl. How much vinegar? Enough to generously cover the shallots. You’re making enough dressing for the whole salad, so however much you think you need. (Do you hate me? I would.) Now, I normally use lemon juice here. But I didn’t have a lemon so I decided to be brave and try vinegar. It’s possible that this is the key, I’m not sure. But I do encourage you to try the vinegar if you’re up for it. If you prefer lemon, you can go for that too. I usually do.

Let the shallots macerate in the vinegar for 10 minutes or so. Again, longer is fine. I’m mostly sure I added a teeny bit of sugar to the mixture too because I was afraid of the vinegar. Give it a go, I bet it won’t hurt. When the shallots have sufficiently softened, whisk in a few glugs of good quality olive oil. Whisk whisk whisk. Then taste. If it tastes good, time to move on! If it needs a bit more of something, add it.

You’ll probably finish the dressing well before the squash is ready. If so, do something else. Or you could prep the other ingredients so it’s not a mad, messy rush at the end. How novel! One day I will learn about that. Wash and pick through arugula (straight out of the garden is the best, but it comes with caterpillars and dirt and such). Toast the walnuts. Clean and chop the herbs. Or leave them whole if you’re lazy like me.

When you’re ready to move on, rinse the salt from the zucchini. Re-whisk the dressing if it’s been sitting too long. Add the squash to the dressing in the bowl. Mix it up well and taste. Maybe add the herbs too. At this point I left it alone again for a bit. I was making a lentil salad too and setting the table and drinking a beer and such so it wasn’t totally on purpose, but I do think it helped to develop flavor, you know? Kind of like lightly pickling the zuke slices. When you’re nearly ready to eat, add the arugula, avocado, and walnuts. It should be pretty darn tasty at this point. If not, you can always add a bit more salt, some pepper, some lemon juice, some olive oil… whatever you think is missing.

Truthfully I’m not sure why this salad was so darn good. But it just was! I think part of it was the my expectations were reeeeal low, since I was missing the key ingredient. And also (not to be too too annoying about growing food), it makes a huge difference when your veggies and herbs come from the dirt and go straight into the kitchen. Can’t even compare your own bright, fresh squash to the sad ones you find at the grocery store. And don’t even get me started on arugula. It’s a whole different green when you grow it yourself.

That being said, who wants squash? Because they are getting mighty sad on my kitchen counter.

May 28, 2013

Forrpist di Gahtti

AKA, this guy right here.

He’s our semi-Italian baby, according to his older brother, who has been experimenting with nonsense sounds a lot recently. Which is really funny and fun, but also confusing because sometimes I think I’m just not understanding what he’s saying. And then he smiles and I know he’s trying to trick me. I love his face when he’s trying to play the jokester. One day we heard him calling his little brother “Forrpist”, and then soon it was “Forrpist di Gahtti”. We’re rolling with it.

And Forrest. Ahem, Mr. Di Gahtti as I’ve started calling him, he’s really coming into his own. He crawls FAST with one knee and one foot, just like a very busy spider (another nickname courtesy of big bro), he stands and sits and stands and sits over and over again. He babbles and chortles and watches and thinks and does. He throws balls clear across the room. And taught himself to crawl down stairs when I wasn’t looking. (EEEE!) He’s such a headstrong little guy already. Second babies, it seems, just figure it out.

He has 6 little teeth, all new in the last month. I adore his toothy little smile. And his thighs and toes and strawberry hair and the way he says “buh-by” to every airplane that he sees. And that he’s actually turning into kind of a snuggly guy. I love that he buries his head between my shoulder and my chin and rests there for a few minutes to regroup.

Also, he’s going to be one in 4 weeks. ONE. I am not ready.

PS. Hi! I’m not even going to talk about how long it’s been since I’ve posted. Just know that I always have this tab open on my computer but the time, oh the time. Or lack of it. Volumes could be written on “the balance”. I haven’t found it just yet. But I’m trying. And I do know that it feels really good to be here. More soon.

April 8, 2013

Beginnings in the garden

I do not love spring. I love what it represents, to be sure. I love the new buds forming, the light scented air, the possibility of warmer days and nights, daylight savings time… But generally spring is windy and it tricks you into thinking it’s warm because the sun is out, but really it’s cold. And I find the whole season just slightly irritating.

But the garden is starting to come back to life, after nearly a year of neglect. That little Forrest. His arrival put a few of my hobbies on hold for a while.

This little box under our bedroom window just keeps going. I add new plants in every once in a while. It’s one of my favorites.

Dashie and I have been working on a little sedum garden outside my office door.

These guys are huge. And just about to flower now.

More succulents. They’re everywhere.

Ah the favas. We’ve started harvesting. Yum.

Artichoke plants so grey this photo looks black and white. Can’t wait for the babies to arrive.

Kumquats for days. I think this year I’m going to make marmalade.

Found a broken bird’s egg in front of the back door. Nature isn’t always kind.

Then there’s this little kumquat. I love him so much.

January 30, 2013

100 Layer Cakelet

Oh, also THIS has been happening. We launched a mom/baby/family blog on 100 Layer Cake! It’s called 100 Layer Cakelet and (obviously) I’m thrilled to have a new project. Exactly what I need – a new project. But this one is really really fun.

We want 100 Layer Cakelet to be a beautiful, inspiring, and practical place for all you mamas out there. We keep thinking, you obsess about your wedding for one year… but you obsess about your family for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t there be a pretty place to share all the great celebrations and projects and moments that revolve around family? Yes!

I’d love any suggestions you guys have too! Pop over and check it out.

And while you’re over there, you might consider visiting the the Pop-Up Shop where you can book a family shoot with Max Wanger. He took pictures of our family a few summers ago and I absolutely treasure the photos he took. I know there must be a few of you out there who wouldn’t mind a set of photos by Max & Friends.

Don’t be strangers over there, kay?

(And thank you all for your suggestions about family dinners!)

January 14, 2013

Easy family dinners

I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, I have to admit. But I LOVE the possibility that the start of a new year brings. Magically, with the turn of a page on the calendar, the slate is clean and we can start fresh. Don’t you wish we could be in this mental state more than one time a year?

I do.

One thing I’m working on for 2013 is making better family dinners. Meaning dinners that the kids will eat and we will eat, even if we don’t do it together nearly enough. Sara and I were discussing the importance of actually planning meals and ingredients ahead of time, and it has me motivated to put a little more effort into that part of our life again. I know I never wrote the post on what it was (and is) like to become a family of four, but you can probably guess by my lack of posting that it’s been a wee bit challenging. My friend Jessica and I, who have kids who are exactly the same age, call those early days and months “the dark ages”. Need I say more?

But thanks to the new year, we’re having a bit of a Renaissance around our house. Things are brighter, and easier, and more fun. And part of that is knowing what we’re going to eat for dinner, instead of frantically throwing something together 10 minutes before the kids need to eat. The key right now is that I know Dashiell will eat it (mostly), that I can grind it up for Forrest, and that Brock and I will also actually enjoy it once they’re both happily asleep.

Here are some of my go-tos:

Red lentil soup – popularized in our house when Jora made it for lunch at her house a year ago. It’s delicious, flexible, fast, and with very little thought, you can always have the ingredients on hand. I make it a point to keep a jar of tomato paste, dry red lentils and a few onions in stock at all times.

Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce (with pasta) – Again insanely delicious, especially for it’s simplicity and ease to prepare. I always have at least one can of San Marzano tomatoes in the cupboard for just this recipe. We eat it with pasta, a veg and a crunchy kale salad, or just by the spoonful.

Spaghetti Squash casserole – I use the basic recipe from True Food Kitchen, but instead of a can of pureed tomatoes, use Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce! Makes it extra yum. Plus I throw in extra veggies or even tofu, if I want to get crazy. This was actually Forrest’s first non-baby food and he literally scarfed it down. (More on feeding the second baby in a later post. Hopefully?) Last night I made it with bits of kale and since I didn’t have enough mozzarella on hand, I filled it out with cheddar. Flexibility is the key here ’cause I can’t always be driving to the store when I’m missing one measly ingredient.

Taco bar – Which entails a giant pot of homemade beans, corn tortillas, a crispy cabbage salad and whatever toppings we have on hand. Salsa, guac, cheese, and cilantro are actually plenty for a yummy dinner. (This doesn’t work quite as well for Forrest, but he doesn’t mind mashed up beans with some seasoning.)

Melanie’s Tortilla Soup – Easy as pie to prepare, especially if I have left over pinto beans on hand (though canned works fine too). Meets all criteria, especially the kid one. They both love it.

Quinoa Cakes – I make these all the time and it turns out that once you have the basic binding ingredients down, you can use whatever you want to fill it out. I’ve used brown rice when I didn’t have any quinoa ready. I’ve add bits of kale or chard, cooked lentils, different cheeses, kernels of fresh corn, peas… really it’s very flexible. The kids eat them alone (I pick one apart for little Forr, since he doesn’t have any teeth just yet), and we usually eat them with a salad. I like leftovers for lunch with avocado and fresh mint on the side.

Homemade pizza (using Blake’s secret crust recipe) – I probs don’t need to really ‘splain this one much. Pizza = delish for everyone. Except Forrest. Admittedly we haven’t made it in the last month or so since he starting eating real food, but if he’s anything like his brother and my husband, it’s only a matter time.

Now I want to hear what you all make for your families. As you can see, we could use a few more options. Any must-trys? Would love a good enchilada recipe, if anyone has one.

Do share!

November 19, 2012

Gorgeous food collages

I’m not entirely sure what to call these actually. The only thing that’s certain is that I love them and I begged my friend Julie to send me the big pics from her phone so I could share them. Do any of you follow Julie on Instagram? She’s an incredibly creative lady and an exceptionally great home chef, who used to blog but has since forsaken it for IG. We can’t blame her, can we?

She started a little series ages ago making patterns with her spoils from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. It’s evolved into a really beautiful little piece of the social media megasphere… one that I look forward to every week. (No pressure or anything, Jules!)

Since lots of you like to cook, I thought you might find her creations inspiring. Wouldn’t you love to hang prints of these in your kitchen??? Maybe if we give Julie enough encouragement, she’ll start an etsy shop and sell them to us. Hellooooo super sweet and simple holiday gifts for the chef on your list.

There are soooo many. Here’s a bunch that I love:

Would you buy, or what!?

Thanks so much, Julie!

November 12, 2012

A list of things for fall

Some things that have been inspiring, helpful, or lust-worthy recently…

This NY Times article on aging. I want to move to Ikaria and grow a garden, drink wine with friends, and possibly live to be 100. (Thanks, Dad!)

Jamie is offering holiday mini-sessions next weekend! Get on it, SD peeps. We’re having our photos taken by her over Thanksgiving weekend and I’m so excited! (PS. I totally ordered a few of those white tees she posted about. Hoping they look as cute on me as they do on her!)

This sweet kitchen shop.

Babble included my blog in a list of the Top 50 Design blogs for moms! Whoa. I am in very very good company over there. Thanks Babble!

These pumpkin donuts… made them last weekend and I wanted them to be delicious. But I think having the kitchen smell like frying oil turned me off. And made me want a giant kale salad for breakfast instead. Donuts are apparently meant to be purchased on a whim from a donut shop.

This new-to-me food blog… has such a nice moodiness to it, doesn’t it?

Forrest needs his first Christmas ornament. I think I might get this one.

This kids party and decor site is adorbs!

Heath is trying to get me to buy more things. They are soooooo sneaky. Perhaps just the new ramekin colors? Maybe a gnome?

This Small Trades dress also makes a perfect nursing top over leggings, for those who are in the same boat as moi.

These date truffles are my new favorite dessert. Tasted them last week when Sara prepared the pretty food for our holiday shoot.

I found this little article on whining to be helpful, other mommies.

Dashiell and I both got big haircuts. Yep. He looks adorable, I look… well… I’m getting used to it. BUT I’m happy to be donating 11 inches of hair to Locks of Love this week! Teeny bit of an identity crisis, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. Hair grows, after all.

Trying to remember this post on losing postpartum weight that I wrote around Dashiell’s first birthday. UGH. I’m not approaching the fatness with as much grace this time.

In the meantime, I’d love to be wearing this Lauren Moffat shirt with riding pants. Or maybe this Rachel Pally maxi skirt with any old tank. I’m going through a maxi skirt phase. My new fave is this Ace & Jig number I snagged from Shop Pretty Mommy. I kind of love the blue option too.

What else am I missing out on? Do tell!

(Photo of Dashie just before I cut his hair. To be fair, I just don’t have any relevant photos for this post.)

November 1, 2012

Dress up

Pretty scary around these parts last night, as you can tell. Melanie and I were in tears laughing about how ridiculous it is to try to get little people to wear costumes. Forrest was the most open to the whole thing. He makes a pretty good bear, don’t you think?

Luciana and Dashie were on board for approximately 10 minutes.

We even made it to a few houses for tricks and treats, which made me feel better since Dashie had to miss the Halloween festivities at school. Still has a nasty cold. Poor guy.

Look at me posting two days in a row!

October 30, 2012

Oh, hello.

Wow so the entire summer passed with barely a word on this poor blog. Things have been…

busy.

But things are also kind of settling down finally. And I keep having ideas for posts, but then I can’t find the time to write them. If I could stay up past 9 I would probably get more done, but I cannot stay up later than that yet. Nearly, but not yet. Sleep deprivation is so consuming and I think it takes a while to make up for all those lost hours in bed.

But somehow things do seem to be getting a wee bit better. And I miss it here, even though I’m not sure there’s anyone left to read. Maybe you will come back if I actually post again? Let’s try and see how it goes.

Here’s a general update…

Dashiell started preschool in September and it’s been amazing. His language exploded again and he seems even happier now that he can express what he’s thinking all the time. And I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. He’s the king of self-narrated play. We naturally find it adorable. However with the greatness of preschool has come the onslaught of colds. They are knocking us on our butts, I have to say. Dashie is in the middle of his third cold in 5 weeks. And I’m talking real colds, not just a sniffle for a few days. And Forrest has had a string of mini colds that have resulted in a secret ear infection only discovered because we had his four month appointment this week. Feeling pretty good about that one! He hates his antibiotics and I feel like I’m torturing him twice a day as he gags down the dose. The poor poor dear.

We went to Seattle a few weeks before preschool started for my friend Jen’s wedding. It was fantastic. Despite my fears of traveling with both of them, and I’m not going to say it was a walk in the park, it was really great for our family morale. We can go places! We can do things! We are not actually stuck at home from here on out! Brock and I even snuck out one evening for an hour or so to grab dinner at How to Cook A Wolf, which was conveniently right around the corner from our rental house. The wedding was beautiful and the venue, Bella Luna Farms, truly one of a kind. Like if the Sundance Catalog and Anthropologie got together and styled an entire farm. Unfortunately 10 weeks of broken sleep caught up with me that evening and I literally hit a wall during the party. But we survived and I’m so glad we went. Also, Seattle is gorgeous and special and we’re hoping to go back sometime when we can really explore and enjoy.

We’ve actually been to three weddings since Forrest was born, most importantly… um, hello! Amanda’s! Which will be making it’s media debut in Martha Stewart Weddings in March. It was beautiful and fun and the cocktails were delicious and thanks to Brock’s mom making a huge effort for us, we were able to enjoy a bit of the party.

I still feel like there is never ever enough time in the day (see: going to bed at 9pm every night), but I know that will change too. I did manage to make Dashiell a little halloween costume, though it remains to be seen if he’ll actually wear it. I’m sure you’ll find out on Instagram tomorrow.

We managed to carve pumpkins and roast seeds. I’ve actually made dinner a few times, which makes me feel somewhat normal again.

I gave Dashie his first “boy” haircut and now he looks even more like a girl. Oh well. At least he can see.

I desperately need a haircut myself. And I mean desperately. My hair is the longest it’s ever been, well below the bra strap, which I think is a pretty standard measure for having really long hair. Now I think I could actually sneak out to get it cut, but I’m waffling back and forth between keeping it long and going for a big cut. I reeeealllly want to chop 10 inches so I can donate to Locks of Love, but I know I’ll want it back the second it’s gone. What do you guys think? See how long my hair is in these pictures?!!

I still have posts brewing about welcoming the second baby, about sleep, and about how to get your bottle-resistant baby to take one. Who wants to hear them? Maybe if I start posting again I will find the time.

Forrest did his first full night last night (only two months behind average French babies but who’s counting??!!), so I feel like we might be headed towards normalcy. Sleep is after all the most coveted of all things that are lost when a new baby arrives. At least for me.

Photos by Michèle, while we were up in Seattle. She shot my friend’s wedding too!

August 23, 2012

Leslie and Beckett’s birth story

I promise this isn’t going to turn into a birth story blog, but this is such a good one that I just had to share. Plus, like everyone I know is having babies at the moment which makes these stories major low hanging fruit in terms of blog posts.

Leslie is a good friend from college who welcomed her first little dude into the world in a pretty awesome way, just two weeks after Forrest was born. She’s also a great writer and apparently born to give birth, both of which make for a great read.

Thursday, July 5th felt totally normal: I took Rowdy on a long walk, helped Scott at the shop, did a big grocery store run so I could cook up a storm before I went into labor… I even went to a wine bar on the wharf with Jen, stealing sips of her champagne flight as we gossiped! I did notice that I was having more of the “fake” contractions, and as I finally settled in at home around 8pm, I realized they were coming consistently about 10 minutes apart. My heart quickened a bit as I wondered if maybe these weren’t fake after all, but they didn’t hurt at all, which certainly wasn’t what I expected labor to be like. I called my doula, Courtney, around 9pm just to give her a heads up that MAYBE something was happening, though I didn’t really think so. She reassured me that even if this wasn’t labor, my body was gearing up. Courtney encouraged us to get some rest and check in with her in the morning.

Scott fell asleep immediately (of course), but my head was swimming with questions and anticipation. I re-read Joy’s birth story, looking for clues about what to expect, and the contractions started to pick up. She had mentioned something about tracking her contractions with an iPhone app- there seriously is an app for everything!- so I found one and downloaded it. When I started tracking at 12:10am, they were about six minutes apart, and at that point, felt similar to menstrual cramps. I tried to remember from our birth class how long the various phases of labor are supposed to last, with no luck, but according to the app’s quick reference page, it appeared I was moving from “early labor” to “active labor”. Eeeeeeeeee!

I woke Scott up around 12:45am to let him know this seemed legit. We were both excited but surprisingly calm. I decided to take a shower, and I yelled to Scott each time I had a contraction so we could keep tracking them with the app. Around that time things really cranked up: now the contractions were more like three minutes apart. I called our hospital to let them know I was in labor and would be coming in at some point, and when I gave the nurse details about my contractions she seemed to think we had plenty of time. My big concern had been that my labor would stall out midway and require interventions like Pitocin, which was part of why I wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going into the clinical environment of the hospital that often slowed things down. It’s funny how opposite things turned out!

Timing the contractions with the app kept me somewhat distracted, but I was definitely in a good amount of pain, so we called Courtney around 2am to ask her to come over. I also called my parents; even though I knew it would freak them out, I felt like they should know what was going on! I announced to my mom “It looks like I’m having a baby!” and she responded “so what do I do?!” I assumed she could wait until morning to make the half an hour drive here and still catch plenty of the action.

Courtney arrived just before 2:30am, watched me moan through a contraction, looked at the handy list on the app charting the duration and frequency of my previous contractions, then promptly took my phone away from me so I could focus on the labor instead. Darn her! She encouraged me to loosen up as the contractions came, especially my shoulders, and I suppose that helped. However, that point it was hard to find any position that was remotely comfortable: I leaned on Scott, we “danced” in the kitchen, I leaned on walls, and finally I was on all fours on the couch with Courtney next to me rubbing my back.

At around 3:30am I decided this was as intense as things needed to get at home; I was ready for the security of being surrounded by medical staff at the hospital. Scott had to stop by the shop to put up a sign indicating we would be closed that day (because we were having a baby!). He was gone no more than 10 minutes, but by then I was starting to go a little nutty. The short drive into the hospital was brutal, and as we tried to walk in I doubled over in pain with another contraction. I’d said all along that I wanted to go as long as possible without any pain medications- ideally making it through to the end- but the idea of some relief was starting to sound really great.

As the medical staff started the check-in process, I could see why people claimed the hospital atmosphere could slow things down. They couldn’t find my pre-registration, so I was forced to answer questions about my Social Security number, my phone number, etc… all while in intense labor! I was alternating between pacing around, leaning on the bed, moaning/ screaming, and I heard the nurse say to someone on the phone “I think we’ll end up admitting this one.” You think?
After what felt like forever, the nurse checked me and declared I was five centimeters dilated. I hadn’t held any expectations about where I should be at that point, but that seemed pretty good. I figured I was about at the midway point after less than five hours of “real” labor, which certainly made the 24 hour labor (or more!) that I’d feared less likely.

Around this point I started asking about pain medication options, and Courtney encouraged me to get in the giant tub first to labor in water. “They call it the midwife’s epidural; it could really help!” she reassured me. A real epidural didn’t seem so bad at this point, but since I had been looking forward to the tub (if that’s the right way to phrase anything involving labor?!) I did want to try it. I had actually bit down on Scott’s shoulder and wept during one of the contractions, so he was freaking out a bit at seeing me in that kind of pain and seemed open to whatever might help.
The tub is when my memory of everything gets less clear, probably because I was a bit out of my mind! Every contraction would take over my entire body, starting right underneath my chest, and I felt completely out of control. It was beyond intense and somewhat scary. As promised in our birth class, I started to doubt myself and tell Courtney I didn’t think I could do this, to which she calmly but firmly responded that I could. During one of the seemingly brief breaks between contractions, I reasoned with myself that there was no reason for me to suffer like this when I could have pain meds, and if nothing else I just needed a break, so I apologetically told Courtney that I wanted to try fentanyl. It would “take the edge off” for about an hour, which sounded dreamy. Courtney reassured me that I’d done great, and while I don’t remember it, apparently she asked if I wanted to be checked again first. The nurse (who had barely been around at this point) popped back in, I requested the drugs, and since she still needed to draw blood for some reason anyway, she said she’d be back to set up an IV lock.

Scott was also in and out of the room; he called my parents with an update (again thinking they could probably wait until morning), and then he left to use a restroom out in the lobby.
My water still hadn’t broken, and I started to feel an incredible amount of pressure. I reached down and discovered what felt like a balloon bulging out between my legs. When I told Courtney, she said that I could push a bit to help it break. I pushed and felt it get bigger; at this point the pain was accompanied by an intense burning. I don’t know exactly how many times I pushed, but I just wanted to make the crazy pain go away, and in my head I was determined to break that darn balloon.

No more than a few minutes later, I felt the pop of my water breaking, accompanied by a powerful gush. The relief was immediate and AWESOME. I sighed “thank God!” and sat there blissfully catching my breath for a second. When I opened my eyes I noticed all sorts of nastiness around me in the tub… and to my surprise, floating next to me was what appeared to be an umbilical cord. I recall thinking “that’s not supposed to be out yet, is it?” as I continued to look around in the dim mood lighting Courtney had set up.

Then I noticed something larger floating in the tub. As I reached to scoop it up, I realized it was a baby. Yep, a BABY. He was still perfectly curled in the fetal position, angelic and quiet. I was in such shock that I didn’t even have time to worry if he was okay or not before Courtney started yelling “BABY!!!!”

I sat there, holding the baby up like a prize I happened upon and wasn’t sure I had earned, as suddenly all sorts of hospital staff came running in. A moment later, Scott came in, equally confused and with tears in his eyes, and I hoisted the baby a little higher in his direction, kind of like “Hey, look what I did while you were gone!” At some point during all this commotion, our baby started crying.

It’s funny how fuzzy those few minutes after birth are in my memory, but I suppose my brain was busy trying to wrap itself around the fact that I’d just had a baby essentially by myself, in a bathtub. As much as I knew things don’t always go according to plan in labor, this was miles away from anything I ever would have imagined. And as the hospital staff would point out, both at that point and repeatedly throughout the next two days of our stay, patients aren’t supposed to give birth in the tub, so they were all rather baffled by the situation as well.

I think they drained the tub then refilled it with clean water to rinse us both off, then an entire team of people lifted me out (while I held the baby close) into a wheelchair to transfer me to the bed. As I recall, it wasn’t until then that it occurred to anyone to ask if it was a boy or a girl, so I pulled him away from me to confirm we had indeed gotten the boy we’d expected. From there I pretty much just stared at the tiny baby on my chest as the hospital part of this whole experience kicked in: Various people examined and discussed the condition of my lady parts. A doctor finally showed up, though not mine, as I had figured I could wait until a reasonable hour to call her since she wasn’t technically on duty that day. Someone offered Scott scissors to cut the umbilical cord. I was jabbed with a needle then the unknown-doctor delivered the placenta. More shots and some stitches. I still couldn’t believe that this had all actually happened so fast.

I was admitted to the hospital at 3:45am, and Beckett Radford Ruble was born at 4:51am. (At least that was the guess, given that no one was in the room to officially record it.) He didn’t mess around. Beckett weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, measured 19 inches long, and he had a solid amount of blonde hair. Not surprisingly, we found him to be absolutely perfect.

*****

Pretty amazing, right? I thought you all would enjoy. I don’t know if I could ever tire of birth stories. They’re all so different and all so miraculous, each and every one.