Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cheryl & Sherri

Hi all!  Some of you may also read my best friend Cheryl's blog.  If you do, you may have recently seen a post that she dedicated to our friendship.  It was a tearjerker and made me so appreciative of what we have.  So many people don't have a best friend, especially one they met at such a young age, and a friendship that has lasted into adulthood.  

If you don't read her blog and are interested in reading it, you can find it here:

For my tribute to one of the most important relationships in my life, I want to share my Top Ten Cheryl & Sherri Moments.  They are random memories I have spanning almost 15 years!  

1.  The Beginning:  We met in grade 7 in junior high at Birchwood Intermediate.  We were in different classes but had a mutual friend named Rae-Anne.  One day I was standing outside at lunch or something with her and Cheryl marches right over and introduces herself.  I learned right from the beginning that she was very outgoing - my opposite, especially in those days of early adolescence.  Soon after we starting eating with the same people in the cafeteria.  One day Cheryl reviewed a conversation she had had with her mother that morning.  It involved how Cheryl's mother had informed her that her butt looked excellent in her navy blue baggy splash pants.  I remember laughing at the story and thinking how funny and animated she was.  So fun to look back on those early days.

One of earliest photos together!

2.  Love of The Leafs.  If you read yesterday's blog post you saw that my Dad raised me a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.  Well, so did Kent, Chery's Dad.  In grade 9 we spent many a Saturday night in the Carr basement watching and cheering on the Leafs.  The wardrobe of the evening included pajama pants and our fathers' Leafs shirts.  Homemade noisemakers and signs on bristol board made for a festive atmosphere.  Good times!

3.  Rainy days.  Probably one of the craziest things we ever did happened during a sleepover at the Jewell house on a particularly rainy weekend.  It was pouring down rain for several hours.  The old Jewell house was located downtown and was near a street that easily flooded.  We took it upon ourselves to walk over to that street and sit in the pool of water that had overtaken the street.  After sitting and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, we decided the next logical thing to do would be a shampoo in the rain.  We went back to my house and got the shampoo.  We lathered it on our heads and then stood there letting the rain wash it away.  It was such a silly thing to do and yet it was so fun!  We couldn't stop laughing and it stands out as a favourite moment for sure.

4.  Camp Abby.  Our group of friends all went to Camp Abegweit in junior high.  It was the place to be.  It was the summer before grade 9 and grade 10 that really stick out as the best though.  There were just four of us friends who went the summer before grade 9 and we had a blast.  However, Cheryl and I were the only ones who went the summer before grade 10 because our birthdays were late in the year (September for her, December for me) and so we were the only ones who made the age cut (haha).  When we got there we realized we were the oldest people there.  You know what, though?  We owned it!  We had the most fun we had ever had and we helped out the younger teens with whatever we could.  The highlight of camp was always the second to last night of the week.  It was when all the campers and counselors put on a variety show.  A lip sync was usually in order.  The two previous camps we had performed "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston, and the classic "Respect".  We needed something bigger and better for our final week at Camp Abegweit, and let me tell you, we delivered!  Before we went to camp we used a cassette player to prepare a mixed song (I guess nowadays one calls that a mash-up!  Thanks Glee).  I can't remember every single song that had a cameo in our number but I know for sure "What is Love" and our favourite song "It's Gonna Be Me" by NSYNC made appearances.  We had it all choreographed and ready to go before we even got to camp.  Our outfits were classic and simple - jeans and red shirts.  We had the absolute best time performing it!  Instead of needing to come up with a number at camp we spent the week helping a young group of girls come up with their own lip sync/dance for TLC's Unpretty.  It's a time I remember fondly with singing, dancing, beach days, crazy/gross obstacle courses, and just having a ball with my best friend.

In our cabin our during our last week at Camp Abby!

5.  Canadian Idol.  Cheryl is a fantastic singer!  I love her voice and could listen to her sing for hours.  We both watched American Idol the first year it was on and LOVED it, as did most of North America. So when we heard that there was going to be a Canadian Idol we both knew that Cheryl just had to try out.  I wasn't going to let her do it alone either, I wanted to be there for her every step of the way, supporting her and just being there for the whole experience.  It was in Halifax that first year so we planned a road trip in Cheryl's red Sunbird and starting preparing for her audition.  We would gather at each other's houses and listen to countless songs.  We would choose our favourites and I would get out my Dad's video camera and videotape her singing the best ones.  We showed the results to both our families and ultimately decided that "How Do I Live?" was the best choice for her.  Off we went to Halifax.  That was an experience in itself.  I had no license so couldn't share any of the driving responsibility and she had never driven out of PEI before.  It was such an adventure.  We learned the hard way that to turn around when you realize you have gone the wrong way you take an exit, don't drive in the passing line at slow speeds in hopes that you'll come across one of those lanes on the median that are used for emergency vehicles to turn around in a hurry.  I'll never forget the look of that angry trucker giving us the finger when I glanced out my window.  Yikes!  We made it there safe and sound and settled in at a family friends' home of Cheryl's.  We spent the days preparing for her audition, shopping, and exploring.  We slept on the streets of Halifax before her audition and I waited in those same streets as guests of auditioners were not allowed entry to the building.  She didn't make it on the show but we had the best time!

She decided to give it another go the year the auditions came to Charlottetown.  I think it was 2005 or 2006.  This was a much more pleasant experience.  Instead of sleeping in the street we slept on the floor of the Confederation Center.  Instead of having to live off snacks we could put in our pockets we ordered Dominos.  Instead of a Leann Rhimes tune, she sang a Faith Hill one - "A Man's Home is his Castle".  Instead of it not being a successful audition, she made it past the first round!  There were many squeals and hugs when she came out with her yellow paper.  Such excitement.  She may not have made it on the show but I was so proud of her!  

6.  Getting in Shape.  I was never athletic, coordinated, or interested in any kind of exercise at all.  Somehow Cheryl twisted my arm into joining a women's gym when we were in University.  It was called Shapers.  It soon turned into one of our favourite places!  We went regularly, 6 days a week, for an hour and a half to two hours.  We started out just doing the circuit and eventually designed our own workout routine that included the circuit, cardio on the bike or elliptical, weight lifting, lunges, stability ball exercises, even a few Paula Abdul dance exercise videos were used!  We so enjoyed getting fit together and seeing results.  Cheryl has always been my ultimate motivator when it comes to exercise.  Eventually life, school, and different schedules got in the way of our workouts and we stopped going.  Last fall after having our babies I convinced Cheryl to lead me and our fellow mommy friends in a class similar to one she used to lead in Fort Mac for her teacher friends.  It eventually ballooned from four or five people to 40 people at any given class.  In November, 2010 she somehow convinced me to join her at UFIT bootcamp.  It was the greatest thing she could ever do for me!  I love it so much and have her to thank for it.  She keeps me motivated at every single class and amazes me with her dedication and strength.  

After a super hard workout!

7.  Cheryl & Mike's Wedding.  May 31, 2008.  It was a fantastic day and I was so proud to stand beside Cheryl as her Maid of Honour.  She made the most beautiful bride and we had a complete blast that day.

8.  Our Wedding.  June 20, 2009.  It was so special to have my best friend from junior high stand beside me as my Matron of Honour at my wedding.  She also sung a beautiful rendition of "I Cross My Heart" at the ceremony making it extra special.

9.  Pregnancy.  We always fantasized that we would end up pregnant at the same time and have babies that would end up getting married.  Eventually it dawned on us that because our husbands are first cousins, our babies would be related and that would therefore never happen.  So we changed the fantasy to our children being best friends.  I guess it shouldn't really have been much of a surprise that we did end up being pregnant at the same time.  After all, we have always been at the same place in our lives.  That is something that has made our friendship stay so strong.  You never know, though, how long it will take a woman to become pregnant.  My due date was August 18, 2010 and Cheryl's was September 18, 2010.  Perfection!  There were hundreds of emails exchanged between Charlottetown and Fort Mac during those months of pregnancy.  How are you feeling, have you experienced this, this is what my belly looks like today, etc.  We checked up on each other every single day, multiple times a day.  When she got home for good from Alberta at the end of June, I was off work and we were ready to spend the summer lazing around taking advantage of the excuse to do so and eat whatever we wanted while we were at it.  Pregnancy is one of the greatest experiences a woman can go through, and going through it with your very best friend is just incredible.

10.  Along came the babies.  The perfect way to end my pregnancy was with a pregnancy photoshoot with my bestie and our husbands.  As soon as we realized our due dates were so close together we decided a photoshoot in those last months was definitely in order.  Turns out we were very close to missing out on the opporutnity completely as I was in labour during the shoot, though I didn't realize yet.  Cheryl and I spent the evening afterward referring to books and the internet to see if what I was experiencing really was labour.  I had my husband call her as soon as we found out that it was labour at the hospital, even though it was 2 in the morning!  I would have called her myself but I was unable to speak.  As soon as Harrison was born and taken up to the nursery, I called Cheryl.  It was so special to be able to share the news with her myself and get her on the nursery's visit list as I knew we would be in the hospital for several days and if there was one person who would visit me every single day, support me through the hard times, and bring me yummy food, it was my bestie!  Of course, she delivered.  She spent the month and a half before her own babe came along cuddling mine, supporting me through those first scary days and nights as a first-time Mom, and just being there for both Harrison and I.  I can never thank her enough for that.

Cheryl and Harrison
Finally, it was her turn!  The days leading up to Grace's birth included many texts and Facebook messages detailing any signs of labour.  The day of her hubby called me on his way to the hospital scared out of his mind. haha.  I waited by the phone anxious and excited!  She called me that afternoon and I was amazed that she was calling me in the middle of labour, 8-9 cm dilated I think, happy as a clam!  Her epidural was administered and working and she could now speak again!  haha.  It was so neat to talk to her knowing that her baby was only minutes away from being born!  Shortly after that, I got another phone call from her, this time with the great news that baby girl Grace MacKenzie was officially here!  It was so soon after the delivery that they hadn't even weighed her or anything yet.  I couldn't wait to hold that precious little one.  I did so the next day after sneaking into Unit 4.  I was so proud of Cheryl!  And that baby?  Just perfect.  Tiny and beautiful.  

Grace and I

Our babies are now 10 months and 8.5 months old.  They see each other a couple of times a week usually and will no doubt continue our tradition of having a wonderful friendship.

Recent pic of bestie Moms and bestie Babies!

Melt your heart!

Just spending some time together!
To my best friend in the world, love you girlie!  We are so lucky to have each other and our friendship is truly a gift.  You're the best.  xoxoxoxo

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Stanley Cup Here We Come!

How many of you out there are "Daddy's Girls"?  I was always one.  Idolizing my Dad meant being interested in what he was interested in - Sunday drives, fishing, farms, and Hockey Night in Canada.  When I think of Saturdays when I was a kid they involved Dominos Pizza and watching the Toronto Maple Leafs play.  My father raised me a Leafs fan.  And I was proud of it.  He would often remind me that he so fondly remembered the last time Toronto won the cup because he watched the game on TV with his Dad who died many years before I was even born.  It was really special to him.

Over the years I have learned that it's rough going if you are truly invested in this team.  They rarely make the playoffs (though I do remember a few years in my childhood where they did and things looked more promising), and when they do it's rare they make it very far.  Slowly my interest in hockey faded, I couldn't name a single player on the team anymore, and my knowledge of how they were doing was only comprised of little tidbits Dad would fill me in on once in a while.

Cory and I have been together for 10.5 years now and he is very interested in sports.  Over time I have learned that if the Red Sox or the Bruins win, his mood will improve exponentially.  Naturally, I have become fans of both of those teams.  I hadn't watched a single baseball game before I met him and never knew a thing about the Sox.  Now I have a special edition DVD set all about them that includes a movie that I love watching.  The Bruins hold a particularly special place for Cory (and therefore for me) because his Dad was a huge fan, and he passed away in 2005.  Since the Leafs never make it to the playoffs I am never forced to choose between Bruins and Leafs (Cory vs. Dad).  I am free to root for the Bruins.  This isn't always sunshine and rainbows either, though.  I don't think anyone needs to be reminded of last year's series against Philadelphia.  This year, however, things are proving different.  Last night I watched the Bruins edge out Tampa Bay in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final and they are on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.  Sadly, as a Leaf fan, this has never happened to me before.  A team I am cheering for going all the way (well just about, anyway)?!  Unreal.  Can't wait for Wednesday.  Go Bruins!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Goodbye, Michael Gary Scott

Hello bloggers!

Thursday night Cory and I said goodbye to one of our favourite characters on television, The Office's Michael Scott.  We have been watching this show together for more than half of our relationship.  It was probably the first show that Cory had to persuade me to watch that I ended up loving.  The only reason I agreed to watch it in the first place was that he told me there was a great will-they-or-won't-they relationship that would be right up my alley.  That would be Jim and Pam, or Jam as they are affectionately known as.  Well, by me anyway.  They sucked me in and I soon learned to love the fearless leader of The Office, Michael.  We spent as much time cringing at him and hiding our eyes as we did laughing at him - but that's exactly how you are supposed to react to this insane character.  He is a fantastic salesman, desperate for his employees to love him, and just wants to be everybody's best friend.  He has made a lot of mistakes over the years but just when you are starting to lose faith in him he does something to reel you back in and save the day.

As we watched the final episode we couldn't help but realize how much Michael has grown up and how much the employees of The Office have come to appreciate what a great boss Michael has been and how much they will miss him, craziness and all.  A few things stick out the most about this episode.

Holly & Michael
I am so pleased that Michael has found true love with Holly and that he is leaving the office for a good reason.  I loved how when he was upset and scared about the move and wasn't sure he could do it, as soon as he heard Holly's voice he was instantly calmed and laughing.  He knew he was making the right decision.  As he so eloquently stated "Holly's my family now.  She's my family.  And the babies that I make with her will be my children."  After all of Michael's hopeless relationships and his desire to have the real thing a la Jim and Pam, it is so fitting that he has truly found his soul mate.

Oscar's Scarecrow
One of the best parts of the episode is Michael's goodbye gift to Oscar and the hilarity that followed.  He gave him a brown sack that he drew a face on with a marker and called it a scarecrow because Oscar "gave him a brain."  Oscar accepted this gift with a genuine "thank you Michael" and "it's beautiful".  Then we are in Michael's office where he is giving a hilarious interview to the documentary crew about how Oscar accepted the gift believing that it had taken Michael a great deal of effort to put together and how Oscar truly has "the lowest opinion of me of anyone."  This was Steve Carell at his best.  We couldn't stop laughing.

Jim Figures It Out
My very favourite part of the episode was the fact that Jim was the only one to figure out that it was Michael's last day in the office, not the following day as he told everyone.  The goodbye between Jim and Michael was so moving and just so perfectly Michael and Jim.  There were tears, both in Jim and Michael's eyes and also in mine.

Pam's Goodbye and The Documentary
Jim tried to contact Pam who was out shopping for a new shredder (actually she was seeing The King's Speech) so that she could hightail it back to the office to say a proper goodbye to Michael, but she didn't respond (how could she receive his text as she was in the movie theatre where no cellphones are allowed?!).  We see Pam's car pulling into the parking lot just as the cab taking Michael to the airport leaves the lot.  At the airport Michael is putting on his shoes after making it through security and he says his final goodbye to the documentary crew.  Favourite line of the episode: "will you guys let me know if this ever airs?" - genius.  You must be a long-time Office fan to appreciate the hilarity of this.  Anyway, as he removes his microphone pack he says "this is going to feel so good getting this off my chest" to the cameraman and just like that we can't hear anything he says. However, we are treated to him mouthing one last "that's what she said."  Perfection.  We see him mouth the word "goodbye" and start walking to his gate, his suitcase trailing behind him.  But wait!  Next we see Pam carrying her shoes running toward Michael.  We can't hear their conversation but there are two hugs and I'm sobbing.  Literally sobbing.  Pam later tells the crew as she watches his plane take off that he wasn't sad - he was hopeful.  Hopeful that he would be upgraded on his flight and looking forward to seeing Holly.  It was just perfect.

We will miss you here in the Maye household, Michael!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Random Thoughts That Don't Go Together

1.  I watched Marley and Me this week.  Great movie.  It made me think about our beloved Boston who we lost last Fall.  It also made me realize that our golden retriever Fenway is part-Marley.  Not so much on the destroying all property side but rather on the goes bananas when people come over side.  I should really get him trained.  Like Marley though, he loves us, all three of us, more than anything in the world and he shows us that everyday.

Cory and our beloved Boston

Boston and Harrison

 Our precious Fenway!

2.  I also watched Country Strong.  Very enjoyable movie if you are a country music fan (who isn't?).  What surprised me, though, was how strong of a singer Leighton Meester is.  I love her on Gossip Girl, love her even more as a singer.  She needs to release a country album!

3.  Facebook can be mind boggling and annoying.  What is with all the people who write status' that are four lines long with not a single punctuation mark?  I am by no means a grammar expert - quite the opposite in fact.  You will find several grammatical errors in this paragraph alone (please don't stop being my friend, Jill!) but throw in a period or a comma here and there so we can at least separate your thoughts.  This is an example of what an awful, annoying status would be:

I was walking down the street and wouldn't you know it Cheryl jumped out of the bushes screaming I like dogs I can do 10 pushups from my toes do you like mustard circles have no corners my favourite colour is pink I bought 3 new picture frames I keep a fan on all year long there are lights in the sky that look like UFOs Netflix is taking over our house I believe in ghosts

See what I mean?  It drives me bonkers.  You know what else does?  Some of the pictures people put up.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  Let's just leave it at that to protect the guilty.

4.  I'm very lucky. 

I have a wonderful husband who loves me and loves our family.  He takes care of us and he makes us laugh. He asked me out when I was a too-skinny (oh to be 15 again), nerdy girl (still am) with crooked teeth (still have those), and he was the cute boy everyone liked.  He holds my hand when we are in public sometimes.  He laughs appropriately at my brother when he makes a joke that isn't funny.  He doesn't make fun of my Mom when she gets lost in a parking lot.  He doesn't punch my Dad in the face when he yells at the top of his lungs when Harrison is sleeping.  He doesn't file for divorce when I have my cranky pants on in the morning (and boy were they on this morning).  He took me to see The Notebook three times in the theater.  He introduced me to the Red Sox in 2003...just in time to really care when they won the World Series in 2004.  He agreed to go to Disney World for our honeymoon and agrees that we must return as often as we possibly can.  He has baked me pancakes and cookies shaped like Mickey Mouse.  He combined two different kinds of cereal to recreate my childhood favourite cereal that you can no longer buy in stores.  He married me.

Our wedding day - June 20, 2009

Rehearsal party - June 19, 2009

This about sums us up

Goose and Duck (we have a new shirt for Harrison for this ball season - Gosling)

I have great friends who love me and are always there for me.  They listen to me when I complain about being poor (thank you, maternity leave pay!).  They reassure me when I tell them I am worried about Harrison and whatever new thing he is doing that has my stomach in knots that turns out to be nothing.  They keep me going when I am ready to quit at bootcamp.  They tell me I look great even when I don't.  They pass along movies, songs, books, and blogs that they think I would like.  They are always up for a chat.  They notice when I change my hair or wear new jeans or have new glasses on.  They give me advice when I ask for it.  They don't give advice when I don't want it.  They give me a shoulder to cry on.  They like me for who I am.  They don't judge me.  They inspire me.

My beautiful cousin and friend Holly and I

Our wedding party - so much fun!

My bestie (since '97 ish!) and I

Tanya and I and our boys

The girls at Jill's birthday (Jill this is the only pic we are both in, so my options were limited - we need to work on this!)

Wedding party girls

Jody and I!

My best guy friend - Darce and I

My beautiful work friends!

5.  I have a son who I love so much it overwhelms me sometimes.  He is the most beautiful, handsome, and cutest baby boy I have ever seen.  His smile lights up the room, and he smiles often.  I have hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures of him and he is smiling in most.  He has the best laugh.  He laughs when I kiss the side of his chest up to his armpit.  He laughs when we play peek-a-boo.  He laughs when I gently blow air on his face.  He just laughs and it is magical.  It is my favourite sound in the entire world and I cried real tears the first time I heard it.  When I pick him up to take him downstairs in the evening to get ready for bed, he puts his hands on my face and pulls me to him, and gives me a "kiss" (he opens his mouth and tries to eat my face).  I think of him and I can't help but smile, no matter how sad or mad I might be.  He is a real life pick me up that never fails.  He is so special.  He is delicious.  He is mine.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harrison's Birth Story

Hello strangers!

I know it has been a long time since I've written.  I'm working on this :)  I have just been inspired to share the story of Harrison's birth.  I have to admit, I am doing this purely for selfish reasons.  I feel like I am forgetting the details and want to put this down on paper - or rather, put it on screen - as soon as possible so I have it on record forever.  I can't wait to one day share this with Harrison when he is older.

If you have no interest in the details of this scenario I suggest you stop reading now!

I will start with the morning of July 26.  The first "flag" should have been my shower.  It was early in the morning.  I had to get up extra early because I had an appointment at the bank about our new (to us) car.  A second vehicle for H and I to cruise around in on maternity leave - hooray! This was a huge deal  to us after sharing one vehicle for several years. Anyway, so I am in the shower and all of a sudden I am overcome by the heat or something.  I need to be sick.  Like right now.  Then came the choking.  I had to open the curtain and hop out of the shower...dripping all over the bathroom floor as I tried to catch my breath.  Eventually I was able to maintain steady breathing and feel semi-normal again.  I thought maybe I was coming down with something and/or my shower had been too hot for a very pregnant lady.  I should mention at this point I was only 36 weeks and 5 days pregnant so I did not think labour was a possibility yet.  Most people will gladly tell you that you will be well past your due date with your first child, so you never think you'll be a few weeks early.  Since I was feeling okay again, I got dressed and off to the bank I went.  I told my Mom about it that morning and she made some comment about how it was probably a sign that things were moving along.  I didn't realize at the time that they were moving so quickly.

The rest of the morning and afternoon were fairly uneventful.  We had our pregnancy photos scheduled to be taken that evening with our best friends Cheryl and Mike.  Cheryl's due date was exactly one month after mine.  So Cheryl and I ran some errands that afternoon.  We went to get our eyebrows waxed, for one.  I remember laying on the table chatting with the eyebrow wax lady about how I hoped it wouldn't be too much longer as the giant belly I was lugging around (and it was HUGE) and the heat were really getting to me.  As she helped me down off the table she told me she hoped our little one would come sooner rather than later. We continued our errands with a trip to Old Navy where we struggled to find shirts that would flatter our ever-growing figures for our photos.  We settled on a couple of cute ones and headed home. 

I believe the photos were scheduled for 7 pm that evening at Blooming Point beach.  By the early evening it wasn't looking good for the photos.  It was pouring rain outside.  I was disheartened.  I knew it would be a challenge to find another night that the four of us were free, and that Jason, the photographer, was free.  We were running out of time.  We got to Cheryl and Mike's a bit early.  I remember as I walked in and Mike saw me, his jaw dropped and he said something like "holy crap".  He hadn't seen me in a week or so and my belly had grown apparently.  I think I was doubling in size everyday by then!

By some miracle, the rain hadn't even started in Blooming Point.  In fact, the sky was blue and the sun was shining, Jason told us.  So we piled into the Roberts' Saturn and headed for the beach.  Driving along the bumpy road I mentioned that I was having some weird pains.  They were nothing I couldn't handle and I certainly didn't think them to be labour pains or "real" contractions.  I figured they were more Braxton Hicks which I had been experiencing a little bit on and off.  I can remember there being one other time where they were actually painful, so I didn't think anything of it.  The four of us joked about how awful it would be if it was real labour because I couldn't possibly have a baby in Cheryl and Mike's beautiful new car - it would ruin the leather seats!

I only noticed a few "pains" during the photos.  I was probably too distracted to notice them.  Maybe H gave me a break so I could get some decent shots :)  After we were all piled back into the car they started again but, again, they weren't anything to freak out about.  They weren't overly painful, they were more uncomfortable.  We made a pit stop at Cheryl's parents' house.  I can't for the life of me remember why.  It may have had something to do with needing to use their printer - I can't remember.  Anyway, we walk in the house and Sheila sees me and she is shocked by how much I have dropped.  She asks me how I'm feeling.  I tell her about the weird pains and she gives me a look that says "you're gonna have a baby soon."

These are a few of the pictures taken at the photoshoot.  
Photographer: Jason MacLean

It was "Bachelorette" night so we made another pit stop at the Petro to grab some snacks for the show.  Let me point out here that the guys would be putting together Baby Girl Roberts' dresser and not watching The Bachelorette.  Anyway, we get to the Petro and I realize I can't go in.  Suddenly my little uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions are turning toward the more painful end of the spectrum.  We all laughed it off and Cory agreed to get my snacks for me.  I can't remember what they were exactly.  I know Pepsi was probably involved and perhaps chips?  I know that part isn't important but I feel the need to recall every little detail of this experience.

The Bachelorette begins but we aren't paying too much attention.  Lucky for us it was only "The Men Tell All" episode, so it was pretty boring anyway.  The pains continued and Cheryl and I were stumped.  She suggested we start timing them - just for the heck of it.  After three or four more contractions she tells me they are three minutes apart exactly, everytime.  Huh.  They are lasting between 20 and 40 seconds.  Huh.  Well certainly labour would not progress this quickly for a first timer, so again, we convince ourselves it's just Braxton Hicks.  I'm surprised by how painful these contractions are becoming so I decide to give Labour & Delivery a call anyway.  Just in case.

Cheryl and I at the photoshoot
Photo by Jason MacLean

A kind nurse (who would later turn out to be my labour nurse) answers the phone.  I blurt something out that sounds like this:  "Hi.  I'm almost 37 weeks pregnant.  I'm having contractions every three minutes.  They kind of hurt.  It can't be labour, right?"  She asks me a few questions and probably sensing my anxiety assures me that I am probably correct - it's most likely not real labour.  It could be an irritable uterus.  I could be dehydrated.  I should drink lots of water and go to bed.  Okay.  I was relieved.  I was terrified of giving birth, I didn't feel ready yet.  I couldn't wait to meet my boy but I felt so ill prepared when it came to motherhood.  Sure, I had all the essentials.  The nursery was finished and looking beautiful.  All the tiny clothes were washed and either hung up in the neatly organized closet or folded up in the new change table/dresser combination.  So after about another half hour of pacing the floors Cory and I head home.

I immediately change into my jammies and go to bed.  I last there for maybe two minutes.  They are becoming increasingly painful and I am concerned that if this isn't labour something is really wrong with me.  I won't be able to last the night if these pains continue.  I decide to try a bath.  I think Cheryl had told me to try that if the pains didn't subside.  I am willing to try anything.  I just want it to go away.  I last in the bath for maybe fifteen minutes.  At first I thought it was working because once I was in the bath my first contraction seemed to take a couple of extra minutes to happen (but made up for it with intensity!).  No such luck.  I called Cory to come help me out of the tub.  I had to call several times because apparently he had fallen asleep already.  I put my jammies back on and slid into bed.  This just wasn't going to work.  Either I was in labour or something was really wrong.  Cory suggested I call the hospital again before we go in.

So at 1 am I made the second call.  Same nurse.  I didn't really ask her anything.  I said something like "Listen, I called earlier and the contractions haven't stopped.  They are still only 3 minutes apart or so and have increased in intensity.  I'm freaking out."  She told me if I was freaking out I could come in.  There was definite skepticism in her voice.  There was no way she believed me to be in labour.  I told Cory she told us to come in so we got ready.  At the last minute he saw my hot pink hospital bag in the kitchen and asked if we should bring it.  I wasn't sure.  We ultimately decided to bring it just in case.  My camera was not packed in the bag as I was still using it on a daily basis, so unfortunately I don't have any photos of the labour process or the first moments of his life :(

When we arrived at the hospital Cory told me he would drop me off at the door and go park.  I wouldn't let him.  I was too embarrassed to walk into that hospital alone, even in the middle of the night.  The truth was I knew I was in pain but I also "knew" there was no way I could be in labour.  I thought it was going to turn out to be nothing and I would be humiliated.  The commissionaire let us in and I told him we were going to labour and delivery.  He was like " uh, yeah, I kind of figured that out on my own."  Let the humiliation begin.  He asked if they knew we were coming and I said they did.  He told Cory to go to admitting and he would wheel me down to labour and delivery.  I refused the wheelchair...he said he would get in trouble with the nurses if he let me walk. Oh God.  This was going to be my most embarrassing moment when they sent me me home a few minutes later.  And I have had some pretty embarrassing moments.  I was also worried about how Cory would find me.  I became much more attached to him in pregnancy and if there was a chance, even a slight one, that this was the real thing, I didn't want him to leave my side for a second.  I knew my way around the hospital since I work there but Cory did not and this made me nervous.

My nurse, Jane, took me from the commissionaire and showed me to a small room.  She gave me a gown and sent me to the bathroom to gown up.  I had another contraction in the bathroom.  She asked me some more questions when I came out and wanted to confirm that the contractions were in fact coming every three minutes.  I insisted they were.  I could tell from her face she didn't believe me.  She asked when I had last had one, and I told her about the one in the bathroom.  She told me they would monitor them and see what was going on.  So she and a student nurse named Marsha hooked up this band thingy to my belly and we waited.  Cory showed up right before they hooked it up to my relief, so I didn't feel so alone and quite so frightened.  After a few minutes of monitoring Jane assured me I was in fact having contractions (thank God I'm not crazy) and she would need to check my cervix to see if it was labour.  Oh no!  This part terrified me.  I immediately reached for Cory's hand as I prepared for the unpleasantness.  It wasn't as bad I as thought.  Huh.  I think it was probably overshadowed by all the painful contractions!  I watched Jane's face as she "checked" me which seemed like FOREVER.  She got a weird look on her face and then she said "Well....I think you're in labour."  Oh.  My.  God.  My eyes immediately went to Cory's and welled up with tears.  I was stunned.  I knew I was in horrible pain, worse than anything I had ever experienced but most of me truly believed that this was just my body playing tricks on me.  He just smiled back at me...I think he was in shock too.  He really didn't think it was the real thing.  The student nurse saw the tears right away and asked if I was okay.  I told her I was fine, just surprised and really scared.  She was great, really supportive and excited about her job.  Harrison was moving around a lot in my belly and you could see all sorts of movement of what I assumed to be knees and elbows or something and she was very excited about this.  It was cute.

Jane had left the room to go notify the doctor or something and I suddenly realized this was actually happening and I needed some more information.  I asked Marsha how many centimeters I was dilated and which doctor was on call.  Both very important questions.  She told me Dr. C was on call (phew).  She was on my list of "good" doctors so this made me very happy.  I obviously would have preferred my regular OB-GYN but he was on vacation so I knew that was a no-go.  It was about 2 am at this time.  I figured there was no way I would have the baby before the end of the doc's shift so I asked who would be on call after that.  She knew Dr. C was on call until 7 and she wasn't sure who came on after that.  Note to self: try to have the baby before 7!  She went to find out from Jane how many cm I was dilated.  She came back in shortly after and informed me 3-4.  I was shocked!  That was pretty far along, I thought, for such a short time.  I think I based this on births I've seen on TV where they stay at 1 cm for, like, 24 hours.  Like when Rachel gave birth to Emma on Friends.  I also instructed Marsha to tell Jane I wanted an epidural and as soon as possible.  I knew things must be progressing quickly and I wanted my epidural!

Once in the delivery room Dr. C came in to check me herself.  She was very kind to me and I was lucky to have her.  She checked me and told me I was actually almost 5 cm.  What??  Holy crap this is going fast.  Get me my epidural!  She told me that the anesthetist had been called and would be on her way to the hospital shortly.  I told Cory to go call Cheryl as we had promised her we would let her know if we went into the hospital.  Initially when we made the decision to go to the hospital I really thought they would send us right back home so opted to wait to make that call.  I told him to also call my Mom and tell her to get here as soon as possible as we had made the decision to have her in the room with us.  My Mom is an LPN and is great at taking care of people so I thought she would be a huge help, and I knew that it would mean so much to her to be there.  He made that call and also called his Mom, Heather, to let her know what was going on.

By the time Mom arrived, probably 15 minutes later, I was in so much pain I didn't know if I could make it through.  I had stopped talking altogether about 5 minutes before.  I answered the nurse's questions and just tried to power through what was happening.  Mom was talking away to me and I had to just ignore her and try to make time go faster so the anesthetist would arrive already.  Dr. C had asked if I needed something for the pain while we waited to get the epidural.  She didn't ask me though, it was almost as if she wondered it aloud.  I gave her a resounding "YES!" but she just gave me a weak smile and left the room.  I guess she figured it was better to wait - I'm not sure.  I kept hoping she would come back with some magic pill that would make this pain stop.  It got so intense that I had to get sick a few times.  There was no warning.  It just happened.  All over my gown.  Yuck.  This is when all my pride went out the window.  I tore off my gross gown and waited while they grabbed me another gown and helped me into it.  I just stood there in my room completely naked and I didn't even notice, really.  This is what happens to you in labour, or at least this is what happens to me in labour.  My self-consciousness was gone for the time being.  I was too focused on making it through this to care about anything else.

At this point I just told kept telling myself "one more".  One more contraction until the anesthetist finally gets here. And then one more after that and so on.  After what seemed like forever but was probably only 45 minutes to an hour she arrived.  I knew she was going to have to explain to me all the risks and benefits, what the procedure was like, what to expect etc.  I knew all this from typing this stuff in Medical Records.  I just kept nodding and yes'ing and hoping she would just do it already.  I had been pretty scared of this part because I knew that getting a needle in your spine is a pretty big deal and that any movement can be dangerous.  I was very scared I would sneeze or get one of those shivers and be paralyzed or something.  I had thought a lot about this in the last several months.  However, when the moment arrived I really wasn't scared.  I was more scared of what would happen if I didn't get this freakin' epidural!  I sat on the edge of my bed facing Cory who sat in a chair.  I leaned over and placed my hands on his knees.  He held them there.  I kept telling her to wait because my contractions were practically on top of each other and I was scared of getting the needle during a contraction.  She told me they were too close together to wait and I just had to deal with it, basically.  So I squeezed my eyes shut and waited.  I didn't feel it at all.  The pain of the contractions was way too intense to worry about some silly needle.  Dr. M. told me the epidural would take about twenty minutes to kick in.  It seemed like forever to me.  I continued on with my "one more" strategy.  Just one more contraction until it kicks in, just one more, just one more....

Right after Dr. M left Jane wanted to check me to see how things were going.  I nodded, kept my eyes closed, and struggled through yet another contraction.  My eyes shot open, however, when she told me I was fully dilated.  Um...what?  "Fully dilated?!", I exclaimed.  She said yes and asked me if I had an urge to push.  I didn't think so.  I laid my head back and closed my eyes.  I heard her tell Cory and my Mom that hopefully I could have a little rest and then start pushing.  I listened to Jane talk Marsha through different nurse stuff in the chairs to the left of my bed and Cory and Mom talked quietly in the chairs to my right.  After a few minutes I opened my eyes and said that I thought maybe I felt like I had to push...I wasn't sure.  I had never been in labour was I supposed to know?  Jane had left the room for a moment so Mom went to get her and tell her this.  She came in and the pushing began.

Cory and I had discussed the whole giving birth situation before.  I was clear I did not want him watching from "down there" as I didn't figure he'd ever look at me the same way again.  That was more than okay with him.  So, we had decided he would stay up near my head during the whole thing.  He held my right leg and my Mom held my left as I pushed.  It took me a while to push correctly.  Again, I had never had a baby before, how am I supposed to know?  After the first couple I got the excited encouragement from Jane and Marsha:  "Exactly like that Sherri!  Keep going!"  A couple of times I felt like crying and would say "Ow!" in a rather pissed off/in torture kind of voice and Jane told me to breathe.  I may have responded with "I am breathing!" a little too forcefully.  I told them my face was going numb and was told I wasn't breathing correctly.  I knew the right way - in your nose, out your mouth - but I just felt like I couldn't do it that way.  I was more hyperventilating.  I do have to say though the pushing was the easiest part for me.  By this time the epidural had kicked in.  It hadn't helped me with my contractions at all as I was already fully dilated by the time it started doing its magic, but I'm so thankful I had it for pushing the baby out.  Cory kept quietly cheering me on and encouraging me, almost whispering them to me in my ear.  I wanted to look in his eyes and see his face during this experience but I lost all sense of reality.  I couldn't respond to anyone, I just dug deep and hung in there, basically.

After 15 minutes or so of pushing Dr. C. came in and got into position.  I took this as a sign that the baby would be coming soon but at the same time I knew I had been pushing for a short time and expected this to go on for much longer.  Like hours.  After a couple of pushes I asked Dr. C if things were progressing at all and she said they "oh yes, definitely!".  Mom kept telling me she could see the head, but they had been saying that right from the very first push.  Then all of a sudden my Mom felt faint and Jane rushed her to the bathroom where she was given cold compresses.  She came back two minutes later and said she was just hot and tired and that she was totally fine.

All of a sudden it seemed like it was finally time and Dr. C was telling me that the head was out and that it looked like a big baby.  Then he was out and I saw him.  It was 5:06 a.m.  He looked....purplish.  She cut the cord herself right away and handed him off to some other people I hadn't even realized were in the room.  He wasn't crying which I knew wasn't good but we could hear him breathing and making little baby noises, everyone was calm, and they were no codes being called, so I knew it wasn't anything too serious.  I asked Dr. C if everything was okay when she came back over and she said he was most definitely okay: pink, good pulse, breathing, he just hadn't had that one big cry, probably due to fluid in his lungs so they would have to take him up to the nursery.  I was relieved that he was okay, and again, thanks to working in MR and typing consults etc., I knew this wasn't that unusual.  They brought him over to me and set him on my chest.  It was magical.  He was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.  His perfect little pink pout sticks out the most in my mind and his eyes wide open and looking at me.  I couldn't believe this perfect little guy had come from me - it was the greatest gift.  They told me they were taking him up now and invited Cory to come along.  Cory looked at me for reassurance and I told him to definitely go and be with our baby, that I was great now.  And I was.  I kept saying "I did it!"  It was the best feeling to know that I had been strong enough to endure this and that my precious boy was finally here and he was beautiful.

I delivered the afterbirth which felt really gross.  Dr. C thought it was quite large.  I didn't get a look at it - though I meant to!  She started sewing me up and we chatted a little bit.  I told her I typed her stuff and that she was an excellent dictator which we so appreciate in my department.  She told me what a great job I did.  Cory came down with exciting news:  Baby was doing well and was 9 lbs even and 21 in long!  Needless to say everyone was surprised by his size given that he was over three weeks early.  My first thought was that my due date was wrong.  I had had a chemical pregnancy (early miscarriage) the month before, so I thought that we made a mistake and that that pregnancy had actually continued and therefore my dates had been off by a month.  I explained all this to Dr. C and she said that wasn't the case.  Harrison was acting exactly as she would expect a 36/6 week baby to behave and there were certain physical characteristics that coincided with 36 weeks as well, like the white filmy stuff that he had been covered in.  So, it turns out I just grow very large babies! ;)

I called my Dad and Cheryl from the delivery room while I waited to be taken up to Unit 4.  My Dad was excited and so very proud of me.  He couldn't wait to meet little Harrison.  Cheryl was shocked to hear my voice on the line, I think.  I told her she was an aunt and she couldn't believe it had happened so quickly.  As another very pregnant lady she had heard the stories of the intense long labours of first-timers too.  After those phone calls we made our way to the Maternity Ward.  They took me to the nursery and showed me where Harrison was.  They told me I could come see him anytime I wanted to.  Again, I couldn't get over how beautiful he was.  The most perfect baby I had ever seen.

They showed me to my room and my nurse, Amanda, helped me into my bed.  The epidural was still working so I couldn't completely feel or work my legs correctly.  My family doctor came in very shortly after (he works fast!) and told us he had just been to see Harrison and that the pediatrician was checking him out now.  He told us that the pediatrician would be here to speak with us shortly, but that essentially Harrison was born a little over three weeks early and was behaving as such.  He would be fine, just had to catch up a little bit.  That sounded like good news to me.  Dr. Gaston, the pediatrician, came in soon after and reiterated what Dr. Morais had told us.  He had some ailments, but nothing they wouldn't expect from an early baby.  He had some fluid in his lungs.  He was pretty sure there was no infection but IV antibiotics would be given as a precaution.  He had a heart murmur common to premature babies that would probably disappear in a few days.  He had jaundice which, again, was typical of early babies and would be taken care of with the bili lights.  He was very positive and assured us that Harrison was healthy and just needed to catch up before we could go home.  I was very pleased to hear this from the expert and hoped it wouldn't take too long before we could go home.  I was on cloud 9 after speaking with him, knowing that Harrison would be just fine and it was getting late enough in the morning that I could start making a few more phone calls.

It was shortly past 7 in the morning and I knew one of my coworkers, Donna, would be in the office by now.  I told her to guess where I was calling from and she knew right away:  "Not Unit 4?!".  Yeppers!  That was my favourite game to play when I called people.  I always asked them that same question.  I waited until a more reasonable hour and then had to call one of my closest friends and a mommy-to-be herself, Tanya.  I kept getting no answer.  I knew she had to work at 9 and is usually late leaving for work, so I knew she couldn't have left already.  She must be in the shower.  I kept calling and calling and finally she answered.  It was so exciting to be able to tell her!  She was shocked, just like everyone else was.  I called a few other girlfriends and visited with my parents and mother-in-law.  It was awesome.  As each of them came in Cory took them to the nursery to show off little Harrison.  My legs weren't working correctly so it was a while before I could go join them.  When I finally did I just stared at him in awe.  I couldn't believe he was finally here and that he was so perfectly....perfect.

My next blog will be part 2 of the story - our week-long stay in the hospital.