Thursday, March 29, 2012


Warning - this post is a bit personal... even for me. I'm sharing something secret, something close to my heart right now. But I feel the need to share it. Maybe I'm sharing it for me -- just to get it out into the world and to be held accountable to it, or maybe God is having me share it for you -- to challenge and encourage you. Whatever the reason, here it goes.

[taken from my journaling this morning]

On Sunday I made a decision. For months now I have been waiting for my Christian walk to come to me as a fresh encounter, a new vibrancy, and that's all I was doing -- waiting. I thought maybe reading a new book would do it for me or maybe just listening in church the Holy Spirit would boldly, clearly tell me, "Hey, listen up! This one is for you. This is the message you've been waiting for; the one to change your life." Well, none of that has happened, and I kept on craving a freshness. 

Then on Sunday, I realized -- all I am doing about this "craving" is sitting, waiting. I'm not pursuing it. I'm not chasing God. I'm not surrendering my life. I'm just holding onto my life, waiting for God to show up on my terms. 

And so, I've given up on waiting. I'm moving on the pursuit. I'm hunting down this freshness I desire, and I'm doing it by being active and intentional.

No longer will I avoid reading my Bible because "it's a drag sometimes" or "I'm stuck in the Old Testament and none of it matters to me/my life anyway." [I told you I was being honest, didn't I!?]

No longer will I refuse time in prayer because "I don't know what to pray for" or "I just prayed about that yesterday."

No longer will I avoid talking about real, spiritual matters with unbelievers, worried about what they will think of me. Because, more importantly, their souls are on the line! 

There are two people who I know will read this post that I need to have those conversations with. And it's not for my sake, it's for theirs. I will seek out those conversations and I will be bold with my witness, because I want them in heaven with me someday. 

Yes, I will stumble. Yes, I will falter. And, yes, I will definitely fail. But this time, I'm not waiting; I'm moving - I'm seeking - I'm pursuing. And I will grow.

NJFacts [part 1]

Here's a new series for you: NJFacts: Nora Jean Facts. I say "series" because I'm sure that, as she grows, she will produce more and more facts for me to share with you. As for today, here's 3 facts for your enjoyment. (Three facts in 11 days; this girl is pumping them out!)

#1 - As of 4 days ago, Nora's stomach was the size of a ping-pong ball. How cute is that. I'm sure it has grown by now, since she is growing each day, but I love that imagery. [It's almost as cute as the fact that back in week 8 of my pregnancy when she was the size of a raspberry.]

#2 - Nora has acquired the skill of shooting milk out her nose. It's cute. It also scares me a little, because I think it is a sign that she's not really breathing fully while eating, but I'll let the doctor tell me tomorrow exactly what's going on. As for now, it's cute. ...and a little gross.

#3 - There is so much bodily fluids between this little girl and I that I don't know what is what and whose is whose. It's kind of super gross, but I think that's life with a newborn. I'm just going to have to deal with the fact that as of last night there are two new stains on our bedding (joining the many others created this week) that I just can't pinpoint their creator or substance. [I think new bedding may be in our future. know, after the milk coming out the nose and other creative spurts subside.]

Bonus fact: She is the best thing. ever. And that is a fact.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

1 week old [labor & delivery]

stretching to show her whole 19.75 inches

not a happy camper
Nora Jean is one week old today. We have been home since Tuesday around noon, and we are quickly adjusting to life with a little one. She's a very easy adjustment for the majority though -- a little doll with a wonderful temperament. She sleeps through the nights, eats every 2-4 hours, and does all of her "business" perfectly too. Her resume is quite impressive.

She has been out and about a lot this week too for only her first week. We took her to Target just a few hours after we got her out of the hospital. She slept through the whole experience, which probably means she loved it. She's been back to Target a second time (it will feel like a second home to her, I'm sure), on the CTA buses (for an appointment), to the doctor's office, to the DHS (human services) office, to the park for a walk, and this morning we ventured out to church. She's quite the well-traveled baby, and she snoozes in her car seat and Lulu wrap easily.

Her Arrival Story:
(Warning: If you don't want details, don't read any further!)

Last Saturday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day), I started to have contractions mid-afternoon. But these were funny contractions, because they didn't hurt at all. I just knew it was a new feeling, with definite tightening in my abdomen, and we started timing them to check their frequency. They were 2 minutes apart and very regular. I knew I needed to get up and start walking around to really activate them and see if they were the real thing, and since we needed to go to Target for a few things anyway, we decided to get all the hospital-things around and head out. (Big surprise, we went to Target, huh?!) The contractions still continued to be very regular, and still didn't really bug me much, as I was able to talk and laugh through all of them, but they did start to increase intensity.

We called the doctor from the Target parking lot, and she told us to come on in and get checked out. (Side note: I was very relieved to hear that one of my preferred doctors from my practice was on-call for the night.) We went to the hospital and got checked in, and they measured me at 4 cm. I had been 3 cm. earlier that week at the doctor's office, so this wasn't really much progress. They told me that the doctor would probably want to break my water sometime that night if the contractions didn't really turn up the heat, but I could start walking to see if that would help. So Mr. Allen and I walked the very small loop of the triage floor for an hour. Then I was rechecked and measured at 5 cm. The nurses were satisfied with this progress and said they expected me to progress at about a centimeter per hour. I figured that to mean, since it was then 7 pm, the delivery would happen around midnight, which seemed a long time off. I had called my mom during our hour of walking and discussed breaking my water and I decided that I wanted that to happen so we could "get this show started."

I was then moved to the labor and delivery floor and a doctor broke my water. Let's just say, things definitely started to change. We continued to walk on the new floor and my contractions picked up quickly. I was having to stop and breath through them, struggling to stand at times because of the pain. I dealt with nausea and almost passed out at one point, and around 10 pm, I decided to head back to my room and rest for a little while. The contractions continued at 2 minutes apart and I, well, was in a LOT of pain. At midnight, I asked to be checked again for progress, and in my mind was at the end of what I could handle. I thought to myself, 'I want to be at least at 8 cm to keep going without medicine.' But when the doctor checked, I was at 6.5 cm and I asked for the epidural.

After the medication, I felt amazing. Mr. Allen laid down to sleep and I rested for a few hours. I was such a happy camper when he came back in the room after they gave me my first dosage that he texted his mom and asked "Who is this? And where did they take my wife?" I really was a different woman. Around 3:30 am the nurse checked me again and said that I was at 10 cm and fully efface, it could be game-time at any moment. She said that my doctor wanted me to "labor down," which means let the baby come down lower and lower on her own, letting the contractions do their work since I wasn't experiencing severe pain, which would result in less need for extended pushing.

At 5 am, they woke me up (I finally fell asleep for 15 minutes), and I woke Mr. Allen up, and we got ready for go-time. We were about to start practice pushes, and then the doctor walked in and said, "Let's make them real pushes." They said Nora was already visible before I even started pushing, thanks to the laboring down. At this point, I could feel my contractions working because I hadn't re-dosed the medicine in a few hours. I was ready to push and felt excited to know that an end was so close and we would finally meet our little one. To be honest, I thought the pushing-part was so much fun. I was ready to be done and I knew that I just needed to get through this little bit. And a little bit it was - after just 20 minutes of pushing, at 5:37 am, Nora Jean Allen was born. She cried immediately and they put her on my chest. I was overwhelmed, too much so that I don't think I even cried. I just stared at her and was so, so much in love.

Her stats:
born at 5:37 am on March 18th, 2012
19.5 inches
7 pounds 4 ounces
(and so so beautiful)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

waiting on Nora

There's a woman in my life who recently started a blog, and I'm sure she doesn't want me sharing her name or blog site, so I will just say this: I follow her blog religiously. This week I checked my subscriptions more often than ever before, hoping for a new post. Finally, yesterday, TWO posts came. I was so delighted. I read along, clearly hearing her voice behind the typed-out words, and loved being reconnected with her in this way.

I say that I waited in anticipation for her posts, which I'm sure some of you (maybe just ONE of you?) do the same for my blog. We have this expectation, this anxiousness, when really attached to someone's blog, that the writer should always be writing more often than they do. And if this is you (you sorry soul for picking my blog as that blog in your life) I'm sorry for my inconsistency. But this other woman, she has a methodology of keeping herself accountable for posting which I am stealing from right beneath her nose. At the end of each post, she leaves you with the title or idea for the next post. That way she's already scheduling herself to develop a new idea, preparing her words in anticipation for sitting down to write, and, guess what, she actually follows through. (Guilty woman here for doing QUITE the opposite.) And, since she hasn't published her next post, but has left the title, I stole that too: "waiting on Nora".

Well, for the last few weeks, Mr. Allen and I have been anxiously awaiting Nora Jean's arrival. I had a doctor tell me (almost 4 weeks ago now) that this little girl was most definitely coming early, as she had already made it to her VERY low departure position, head-down and down and down. She was low. And the doctor said it could be "any day really". So we hurried. We bought all the "things" that we needed for Nora, put all the pieces into their new home, turned this apartment from a (quite dirty) dumping spot of two post-college adults into a home for a family of three. Over the weeks I've had spurts of urges to sweep, to scrub, to clean all corners. Was this nesting? Probably. Was this insanity? A little. You see, over the weeks, my mind was going crazy on this emotional roller coaster of "this baby is COMING" to "well, where is she?" And each time I cleaned a new corner, or rearranged her drawers (too many times for clothes that aren't being worn or messed up), I thought "maybe this is the key to letting her know it's time; maybe she'll come now". And to be honest, I kept hitting this wall.

This week I hit it the hardest. And I backed up, got a better running start, and would hit it again, day after day. It's been a hard week. The doctor (a different one than before) told me Monday that (after three weeks of no progression) I was finally making progression: I was 3 centimeters dilated and, as she put it, "on the launching pad". She kept telling me that I was really ready to go. We scheduled a routine due-date ultrasound for Friday with the expectation that really there was no need to schedule this appointment since I would clearly be delivering before this. And my hopes went high, sky-rocketed really.

And then, a day passed... and another. And although baby was moving and shaking inside, she seemed to have no interest in coming outside. And I hit that wall again. Yes, I cried. Yes, they are probably pregnancy tears (although really, people, I think I have set the world record for tears shed during the 9 months of pregnancy.) And at night, Mr. Allen would reassure me. We would talk about how long we've waited thus far and how close she is. And we would talk about the fact that we probably wouldn't even have to get up for work in the morning because we would already be at the hospital with our little girl. And then the mornings would come, (5:30, you kill me), and I would run myself right into that wall again.

I still was so hopeful though. She just has to come out. She doesn't get an option, so she must be coming. And Thursday, I went to work, had a false alarm of losing my mucus plug, and after waiting for contractions to start for 6 hours, realized my error and realized that we were still back waiting like always. And, luckily and barely, I made it home before the water works started again.

I was. am. so frustrated with this waiting. I know I am the most dramatic and impatient mother-to-be you have ever heard of. You have been thinking that while reading this whole post. Feel free to say it, I know it's true. I realize I'm ridiculous. But that doesn't change how disappointed and frustrated and anxious I am. I've been waiting on edge because of the doctor's news for almost a month now. That's a long time. And you probably, if you follow me on facebook, have been so annoyed with my constant Nora-themed statuses. I'm even annoyed with them.

So, yesterday, I decided to drop my expectations; to lower the bar, I guess. Not to say that I'm not anxiously awaiting meeting this little girl. Not at all, I can't wait to see her eyes and kiss every inch of her, and watch my husband fall in love. The thoughts of those moments captivate me completely. But I've decided to just wait; and to not expect. Last night I went to bed, (yes still staring at the empty crib for a few moments) with the expectation to just wake up in the morning and be a pregnant mom-to-be. And I think, maybe, maybe, I can experience peace here in this sense of waiting. Because I surely wasn't experiencing it before.

And I want to make my thankfulness for my best friend, Danielle, public. Because she has been outstanding in the best friend category this week. She followed my excitement peak on Monday with the news of progression. She touched base with me daily this week to see how I was feeling physically and remind me of her excitement for our family. And Thursday morning, when I was really facing frustration, she talked me down (with distraction) for probably an hour. Then later in the morning, as I thought we were mere hours from labor starting, she reflected my excitement. And when I realized my error later in the afternoon, she sent me an encouraging verse and prayers as she knew that my spirits had fallen. And she continues to amaze me with her support in each moment, knowing what to say and how to share my emotions with me. So, thank you, Danielle, for your consistency this week; for knowing me so well in these moments of pregnancy craziness where I don't even know how you can follow my emotional patterns.

And, of course, thank you to my Mr. Allen. You have been my rock for 9 months (and a few years before that)... for 9 months of marriage that have been tainted (cursed?) with a pregnant wife. Thank you for clearing up my many tears, for dealing with my ridiculousness of irrational thinking and acting, for comforting me, for holding me, for being my best friend, for getting me (again, how do you possibly do that with this roller coaster of a wife?!). I love you so much. And, in response to your Valentine's Day facebook post (first ever, and obviously the best ever): Thank you for letting me have your baby. Soon we will be three.

Next post: Labor and Delivery
(So this post could happen anytime between now and a week from Monday)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

MS love.

Let me preface this post with a gigantic: I'm SO sorry about my blogging absence. There have been posts floating here and there in my brain, and I just couldn't seem to discipline myself enough to sit down, think the post idea fully through, and publish it. And now so many post ideas have come and gone, so I will start again with something simple... a confession.

It all started about 9 months ago. You know, around the same time our marriage started; around the same time this baby-waiting-business started. A week or two into our marriage, I got out of the shower and draped my towel over my head (not in the typical turban style, but more of a New Testament, mother of Jesus style) and then I asked Mr. Allen if I looked like Mary, mother of Jesus.

This became a little game I played after each shower, like an inside joke (yes, I'm aware it's not funny at all), as I would change the character of asking, yet keep the same towel draping. I asked Mary, mother of Jesus, Mother Teresa, Mary Magdalene, and then out came "Martha Stewart."

And then, I had to admit it - my secret obsession, love, craze for Martha Stewart. I told Mr. Allen about my guilty pleasure of watching hour after hour of the Martha Stewart show on the Hallmark Channel. (I had a lot of TV-watching time when I nanny-ed for Henry. That boy could sleep!) Her ideas are brilliant, beautiful, cliche and, yet, glorious. Oh, Martha, how you amaze me each episode.

Now, I'm not dumb enough to think that she is sitting there, being a genius, thinking up every ounce of her creative flow. I know she's got people working for her. But, man, what a woman.

I've learned to not be ashamed of my adoration for her style. In fact, I found out about a free subscription to the Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I sure did jump at the opportunity.

Now my relax/chill-out/escape-from-the-world-moments are spent in a warm, bubbly tub with a MSL issue in hand. I soak in the beautiful, warm water while I repeat page-after-page "Oh, Martha, you never cease to amaze me." or "You're right; I should do my house like that!" or "Why did I never think of organizing my closet like that, Martha?".

In fact, just last night, I needed one of those escape-my-problem nights in the tub and I read the February issue and felt so much better (about the fact that this baby only teases me of making an appearance) afterward. And, since a new issue comes each month, I am licensed to get-away for an hour or so every month.

So, thank you, Martha, for your brilliant ideas, beautiful creativity, and allowing me a wonderful escape. :]