Monday, October 22, 2012

Grayson James

A birth story, kind of.

Last Saturday night, our washing machine broke.  Not only did it break but it blessed us with the opportunity to clean the basement floor after it dumped gallons upon gallons of water on it.   By Saturday night I had already had my membranes stripped... Twice... (if you don't know what that is you can google it.  My friend aptly called it getting kicked in the nuts for girls.).  So I made some terrible joke about wishing my water had broken, instead of the washing machines', and we acted like grown ups and went to Sears Outlet to purchase a new one.  It was a swell last "date night."

Please note this monumental moment in the Noto household.  For the first time in our craigslisting, money saving lives, our time and backs were more valuable than our cash.  We paid to have them drop off the new machine and haul away the old one.  Dang, it felt good.  We also sealed the impending birth of our child when the only available delivery date was Tuesday.  Because really, when you finally man up and pay for that delivery, who wouldn't want to scramble to find someone to be at your house and await your beautiful new washing machine since you are stuck in the hospital.  I know we did!  Side note, thank you to the many willing to help!

Please excuse the obnoxious amount of details to follow.  I don't want to forget a single moment, and apparently, "sleepless night" brain is comparable to "pregnancy" brain and I can feel the details slipping away.

Monday morning I went back to the doctor to have my membranes stripped, for the third time.  I had to be seen twice a week anyways, and I was trying to avoid my medically necessary induction on my due date.  After that fun experience  I went to spend the day with my mom.  My sister had been awake with my mom all night and my mom had been really sick and puking.  Honestly, it just sucked.  No obvious reason for what was going on, but it was the worst off I had seen her in a while.  As I was laying in bed next to her, I started to notice some contractions that were not as easy to ignore as they once were.  I tried to will them away, because I didn't want to be in labor yet.  I wanted my mom to be able to come to my delivery and that wasn't going to be an option.  As the minutes passed and the contractions increased to the point where I could no longer lay in bed, I started to mentally admit defeat and tried to find someone to come hang out with my mom so I could drive myself home.

Because heaven forbid I didn't go home.  A girl needs her stuff, and to only have one car at the hospital.  You know you are in labor when you get increasingly illogical.  So I spouted off some angry words to God and had someone come be with my mom, "just in case" this was the real thing.

By the time I got home I was on my tip toes during a contraction.  My ideal situation would be to labor at home, head into the hospital around 7-8 cm, and have a baby within a couple hours.  All this being said, I have never given birth and had the right to change my mind at any point.

I had started contracting around 3:00 p.m. and ended up having our sweet babe at 12:21 a.m.  While it's not the fastest labor I have ever heard of, it is pretty quick for a first time.  Confession.  Jon and I watched "The Fast and the Furious" on our honey moon.  We wanted to watch a movie one afternoon and it was one of the only ones in the house we rented.  Embarrassing, yes.  Maybe it helped our labor cause.  Our peanut seemed to be on a mission once they finally made the decision to come.  We will pay tribute to Vin Diesel in the days to come and maybe watch the most recent spectacular edition of the movie.


Now Jon had been rooting for this whole labor bit the entire previous week.  I didn't want to get his hopes up and then let him down if things pittered out.  So, you know, I waited until I had difficulty breathing through a contraction to tell him to come home.  If it wasn't legit at that point, I was not at all prepared for what was to come.  He asked if he should finish his session.  I said yes.

So from about 4:00-6:00 I labored at home.  I hung out in the shower and then took a good 30 minutes to apply some make up because I was contracting every minute and a half and only had about 15 seconds of breathe time in between.  I also requested to be called off of work.  Heaven forbid I call in sick too soon and make a fool out of myself when I am not actually in labor.

Around 6:00 pm my friend, Amy, said she would come over and support Jon and I.  While I had originally figured that I wanted to be at home for many more hours to come, by the time 6:00 came around, I had changed my mind.  I mentally decided I was only 3 cm and my butt needed an epidural to make it through this crap shoot, or I was moving really fast and my butt needed to get to the hospital.  One or the other. So I desperately awaited Amy's arrival, car packed and ready to go.

So, Amy arrived and I was 5-6 cm with a bulging bag and a really low baby.  Make my day.  Let's go to the hospital.  Oh, and my water broke.

Now I wasn't necessarily afraid to deliver in the car, but I had one little problem.  I couldn't sit still to save my soul, nor could I really sit.  Poor Jon, that had to be a rough car ride.  I'm pretty sure I was more of a silent, don't touch me or even look at me, labor kind of girl, but man that car ride brought out some special words.  Especially when there was a freight train.  I almost got out of the car and labored on the three lane road because my crazy self could not sit without thinking that my pelvis and legs would surely explode.

Can I just say I have a new found respect for my job and my patients.  I will no longer tell you to breathe.  Screw breathing.

By the time we made it to the hospital I was arguing with Jon about parking.  Yup. Because in labor you get really smart and you demand that your husband park the car and refuse to sit your butt in a wheel chair.  So our compromise was for Jon to drop me off at the door and go park the car.  There will be no emergency entrance valet or flasher lights, because this my friends, was not an emergency and I was still going to be "in control."  Sheesh I have some issues.

I bee-lined my butt to my unit, and surprisingly was able to power walk all the way there without making a fool of myself and acting all unruly in the hospital hallways.  The girls at work knew I was coming and were all ready to go.  I also texted my wonderful doctor to let him know he was not a total failure at membrane stripping and that I was almost sure we would have a baby tonight.

I was a good 6 cm when I got to the hospital and doctor was en route.  Unfortunately when he checked me, we were able to confirm, that like that morning, the baby was still facing up.  Little stink.  No wonder I felt a little bit like death.  I had always heard that labors with OP or face up babies were more difficult, and I am hoping it is true, even though I have nothing to compare it too.  Because it was beyond intense.  My put together, in control self, wanted to curl up in a ball and quit.  Only that's not an option, and you can't slow down contractions that are coming every minute and a half, when your body is doing it all on its own.  So instead I got in the shower and tried to melt the contractions away.  Jon stayed near by and continually offered to help. Unfortunately nothing felt better.  No pressure on my back, hot water on my belly, or special position made it any better.

So eventually I got out of the shower and gave my wonderful doctor a whopping seven seconds to check and see if I had made it any further before I again bounced out of the bed, because sitting and laying were surely not options at this point.  7 cm.  You've got to be kidding me.  I was not able to breathe, or relax due to how quickly the contractions were coming, and honestly I was about to go off the deep end.  With Jon's support and my friends, I decided to get an epidural to see if being able to relax would help the process to keep going.  While I really wanted to do natural labor, I also really wanted the baby to turn so that we could progress, and I didn't feel that I would be able to relax enough to do that.  At this point, an epidural was a good compromise for me.

After getting the epidural we were able to go from 7 to 10 cm in a matter of an hour or so.  While I could still feel some of the contractions, I was able to catch my breath and relax.  Baby's heart rate took a nice little dip  and Jon got to see my friends quickly transition from friend mode to work mode.  Jon and I were able to talk and relax.  I was able to process a little bit more how sad I was that my mom wasn't there, but that I was so grateful she is still alive and will be able to meet my kiddo to be.  My legs never really got numb and the pain never fully went away, but it was beyond tolerable now.

Until I started pushing.  Then, no longer tolerable.

For two hours I pushed, because our sweet child did not correctly know his up from his down.  For two hours I turned inside and mustered every ounce of strength I didn't know I had. And, for two hours, I'm pretty sure I didn't open my eyes.  Because it is hard to open your eyes when you are having a mental battle with yourself.  Labor and delivery nurse Jaci knew it was beneficial to have someone try to turn the baby into the correct position because then all the pain could stop and we could meet our sweet babe.  Normal human Jaci wanted to scream at her friends and physician to get their hands out of places that they don't belong because it feels like I will surely rip in half.  While I know I have an epidural running, I can feel everything and this is really just not the best feeling in the world.   I'm not really sure what I ever said out loud, but that was definitely what I was thinking.  With every contraction I would want to panic that one was starting, but at the same time dig in to end this crap.  What a conundrum.  I am so, so thankful for the support and love of Jon and my friends through those moments.  Thank you for telling me I could do it when I surely wanted to quit.  Thank you for not pulling the kid out with a vacuum, because I am pretty sure I asked for that too.  Thank you for staying with me, even after your shifts had ended and for decorating our rooms.

Eventually the doctor was able to get our sweet babe to turn and we were able to meet him.  Jon confirmed what we thought was the case all along.  We had a son.  It was a boy.  Surrounded by so many people that care about us at work, we brought Grayson James into the world at 12:21 a.m, weighing 7 lbs and measuring 20 inches long.  He was 7 lbs and 20 inches of perfection.  Cone headed perfection, but perfection none the less.

I am pretty sure I was in shock.  At the time I did not cry at all, but instead scooped up his messy little body and checked him all out.  I fell in love with his itty bitty features and is head full of dark hair. I fell in love with my baby that already had eyebrows and eyelashes. I fell in love with the sweet little babe that I had carried around for 10 months, yet could never have imagined how truly captivated I could be by this little person we had created.  It took us a little while to pick a name, but I love it and it suits him.

Jon was wonderful.  Jumped right in and held a leg as I worked my butt off to bring our son into the world.  And it was awesome to see him gaze into his sons eyes and fall in love for the first time as well.  I don't know how one is supposed to sleep when you meet your new baby for the first time.  I could have stared at him all night.  In the next couple hours he got his bath and met his Nana and Aunt Aly.  I texted and talked with my mom as she sobbed her face off over her new grandson.  While I desperately wanted her to be there, I am trusting that it played out for the best.  It would have been so hard for her to be up that long and to want to be able to physically support me, but to not be able to.  So instead she was able to come up the next morning and spend a couple really awesome hours with us.

It was wonderful to be able to introduce our sweet babe to our friends and family that stopped by the hospital.  It was even more wonderful to bring him home.  In the next day I'll write about some of our adventures and also some of the precious moments my mom has been able to have with sweet Grayson.

Thank you for all of your love and support.  I'm sorry about any and all TMI.  Huge thank you to all my friends and coworkers at work.  Everyone went above and beyond.  Thank you to my doctor who knew and understood that this was so much more than just another delivery.  Thank you for letting us share our story, and thank you for being a part of it.

The labor stance.  Thanks for supporting me Amy and finding those heart tones while I danced around like it was a disco party.
 My Rock.
 Noto Baby Love
 Excited to start pushing and able to smirk in between contractions.  Let's meet this peanut.
 My labor face from then on out.
 Lovely room decorations.
 It's a pleasure to meet you my smooshy friend.

 Rounded up to 7 lbs even.
 You're ticked, we get it :)
 Daddy can't get enough of you.
 Neither can I.

 We look exhausted.  We were.
 Now a family of three.
 Grandma snuggles.  I love that you can see my mom's scar on her chest.  She has made it through so much for this moment and I will be forever thankful.
 Someone was quite content in grandma's arms.
 Little love.
 Snuggled up.
 And finally, my favorite picture of Grayson so far.  We took some pictures at home on our camera and I just cannot stop staring at this one.  Love this guy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

6 Nights

It took six nights.

What I would have written off as an impossibility took six nights to complete.

In six nights we were blessed with $6000 to help take care of my mom.  I wish I could express with the 26 letters of the alphabet what this means to us, but I really feel like my words will not do it justice.

My words cannot describe the tears that streamed down my mom's skinny face as that last donation came in and my cousin messaged me that we met our goal.  My words cannot really describe the burning in my chest as I tried to hold back my own tears because I have been sick with a stuffy nose and I just didn't really want to go down that ugly cry road.

So instead, I waited.  I waited until I was in the shower, because that is my favorite place to cry, both happy and sad tears.  I love that the spray of the shower and the steam make it impossible to differentiate between your own snot and tears, and the clean water streaming down you face.  I love that I can be alone if I want, but that if Jon is home, he knows this is where I go to melt down, and he will come check on me. There is safety for me in that small space.  I meet God in the shower.

This weekend I was able to cry thankful tears.  We are so thankful.  For the money, for the outpouring of love, for the time, for the words.  We truly cannot say it enough, nor can we believe that it only took six nights.

There is a huge part of me that wishes we didn't need it.  I wish this wasn't our heart break and our road.  I wish my mom could be here to celebrate not just the birth of my child, but the birthdays to come.  I wish she could be here for the many more monumental moments of my sister's lives.

But all these wishes won't necessarily change anything.  While I believe in miracles and the power of prayer, I also trust, that if this is the road that we are meant to walk, that there is a reason.  I trust that there is a reason for our story to be written this way.  I trust that the same God that was with me when my life appeared so stable in the beginning of June, is with me now.

And I continue to learn that we will be OK.

"Thank you" is a drastic understatement.  But regardless, thank you for being a part of our story.  It may not be all rainbows and unicorns, but it is deep and rich and filled with immense joy and hope that is constantly created by those walking alongside us.  Thank you for allowing my mom to have peace in these upcoming weeks about all things financial, so that we can focus on living.  It is a gift beyond our wildest dreams.

While the pumpkin farm was wonderful, we do the majority of our living in the sacred place of my mom's bedroom.  Next to the meds and the puke bucket, is where we take in every ounce of life my mom has left.

My moms ability to connect with people, especially kids, never ceases to amaze me.  Gav knows the instant he walked in the hospital room that it was ok to climb right in bed with her.  No anxiety about the wires or the tubes.  To him it was just his nanny, and he continues to run right to her bed the instant he walks in the door.  

So we will keep snuggling and cuddling, and doing as much living as possible.  Thank you for this gift.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Sometimes it is just so hard to wait.

Since yesterday morning I have been contracting enough to feel like crap and not sleep, but not enough that I would think I was in labor and actually go to the hospital.  Poor Jon.  The guy has been rooting for 10/11/12 since we found out the due date.  I don't think it is going to happen, babe.  So we will keep waiting.

I am constantly in a state of waiting with my mom.  Waiting for the day that things take a turn for the worse, waiting for the next really awesome field trip or really good day, waiting for the next hug or conversation I sob through.  We really have no idea what is coming or what it will look like.

Today I am waiting to go get my pregnancy massage at 1130 thanks to a wonderful friend at work.  I want to storm down the doors and tell them to take me now,  I realize it is 5:30 in the morning and normal people are asleep, but this girl is really looking forward to that massage and cannot wait.

It has been hard, and wonderful, and miraculous to wait and watch my mom's fundraiser page.  Thank you truly feels in genuine at this point because of how often I have said it.  What a powerful example of the possibilities out there if you open your heart and create a world of community.  So many aspects of my gut told me to not move forward with it.  The lies and beliefs that we have for many years are hard to break down.  I was scared of people judging us, of being considered weak, of people judging my mom for not being more prepared.  And honestly I was scared that I wouldn't be able to take the blow if we put ourselves out there and then no one stood up next to us.

So much of my life has been lived in the fear of that question.  Who will stand up next to me?  What I'm learning is that there are plenty of people who will, but you might have to go out on a limb and ask. You might have to be vulnerable and ugly.  You might have to come together on the level of heartbreak and humanity, but heartbreak and humanity are strong rocks to stand on together.

So thank you for standing and waiting with us.  May our story change lives for the better as it is constantly doing to mine.

While the waiting is hard, I am excited to bring my babe to be into this new world of ours.  I'm excited to share my deeper appreciation of all the little things.  I can't wait to tell my kiddo how this gift was from your grandma, cousin, aunt, uncle, and you are so dearly loved already.  I can't wait to hold an innocent life in my arms that knows nothing of shame or doubt.  All he or she will know is trust.  Trust that there is enough and trust that all will be ok.  I want to continue to make strides to live like my baby.

Once again, thank you.  Thank you for loving us in all different ways.  Thank you for walking with us. And thank you for waiting with us.  Thank you for helping to shift my view on the world and for better preparing me to be the mother I would want to be.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Blown Away

Over the past four months I continue to underestimate.  I underestimated my mom's life expectancy as she was coding in the ICU. I recently underestimated how much hospice could really make a difference in our lives.  It has been a world of difference since they have been involved.  I underestimated my body's ability to carry this baby potentially to its due date even with all the stress it has been under.

Last night I underestimated the power and strength of community in our lives once again.

I am a "type A," freakishly independent, perfectionist.  Asking for help is hard.  It makes me feel like I have failed.  Putting my needs out there to be met by others scares the bejebus out of me. It feels much safer to rely solely on myself and my own abilities to provide and take care of situations.  Gives this control freak a fake sense of control.

Slowly through this process I am learning that my sense of control is horse crap and that I need people.  My husband and I need the love and support of those that surround us to truly live this life to the fullest.  My mom needs the love and support and prayers of those that she has touched in her life. 

As a human on this earth, we need each other.  

It sounds so cliche and simple, yet it is a concept that was so hard for me to swallow.

Well last night I set up a fundraiser for my mom online.  The link is on the top of my page.  While I would love to put on a big event like Goat Fest and celebrate the life my mom has lived while raising funds, a child will be birthed from my body in the next few weeks, and honestly, I want to be able to spend all my free minutes with my mom and not event planning.  So a boring website it will be.  

In the past few months we have had so many people ask how they can support us, and I never really knew what to say.  Little by little we have figured it out.  Honestly, we could really use some financial help, which is why we created the fundraiser.  

We will continue to constantly need prayer.  I have no clue how long my mom will live.  Hospice says that right now they would guess three months.  My mom says she wants to live until march first. Why? I have no clue.  Maybe to just prove someone wrong,  regardless, I would take it, if the end of her life can look like the last couple days we have had.  If she starts to quickly decline, I honestly hope it is fast.  Suffering is not on my "horse crap sense of control" agenda.

In the future, we will continue to need help with people to spend time and check in with my mom.  She has been doing so well these past couple days, that she hasn't needed someone there constantly.  It has been great.  At the same time it is hard for me to not want to spend every extra minute there and soak in every last moment, memory, thought, touch, and conversation with my mom.  I am like a garbage disposal.  Throw it all in, I will take everything I can get. Because the world keeps spinning even when you feel like your life has come to a screeching halt, I am trying to find the balance between working and spending time with Jon and friends, while still taking in all that precious time with my mom.  Oh, and I will need to have this baby at some point.  Eventually it will set in.  Maybe when I'm pushing.

So if you are reading and have asked how you can help, these are our biggest needs.  Time, prayers, and money.  We set up this fundraiser with no expectations, just trusting that God will provide just enough.  Trusting that our story can be one of hope and love.

In one night I have been blown away.  I think I constantly lower my expectations hoping to not get disappointed.  I am learning that my "prepare for the worse and sort of hope for the best" attitude doesn't really serve me anymore.  I want to start living my life trusting that there is enough.  Enough hope, peace, security, time, love, and joy.  Our needs will be met.  We will be ok.  This does not mean that life will not be hard or that we will not struggle, but there will be enough, and we will be ok.  Thank you for helping me come to this realization.  Thank you for your love and support.  My family needs you, and I look forward to the day when we are on the opposite end of this table and I can help someone else come to these realizations.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Pumpkin Farm

Not too many words needed to describe this weekend.

I think hospice was the best decision we have made.  We have had a couple really awesome days and I am beyond treasuring this precious time with my mom.  Removing some of the really rough cardiac meds and focusing on quality instead of quantity has been such a relief.

Even though it was freezing, we made our way to the pumpkin farm.  We were quite the site.  My sister's husband was in a car accident about a month ago and is currently in a wheel chair as well.  So gravel walkways and two wheelchairs are not always the best match.  Luckily no one was tossed out of their chair on the bumpy roads.

Please pardon the crazy amount of photos.  My mom must be dying because prior to this even she has always been anti-photo.  Not her thing.  Thankfully, she has gotten over it :)

 Yes child to be, mind you mummy.
 Nothing says fall like apple cider donuts.
 Gorgeous sky, freezing air.  Good thing we had hot apple cider to warm us up.
 Pumpkin farm family portrait.
 Love this lady.
 Paved roads are easier than gravel.
 Pumpkins with butts.  Or something else according to Jon.  We are very mature and ready for a child.

 Who loves corn on the cob doused in butter?  These girls.

 Aly is excited to be out with the momma.
The one and only free photo-op.  You couldn't even walk by the park and the pumpkin patch without separate admission fees.  Silliness.
 Boys on the love bench.


 Oh, forgive me.  The only other free photo-op.

 Refusing to buy maternity sweatshirts at this point.  Hence my glamorous fashion statement.
 What a babe.
 My favorite this season.  White pumpkins.
Couldn't have been a better day.  So grateful for the small moments, for the hot apple cider, corn on the cob, the jokes, the laughs, the donuts, and one more good day with my mom.  Hoping for many more.