For Unto Us a Child is Born!

Now that the newest Pierson is officially seven weeks old, I think it's about time we make our official introductions ...

[Cues "The Circle of Life"]

naaaaaa, savetnahhhhh, abbageeseeahooo



Let's try that again.

Henry Allan Pierson

Thursday, October 30, 2014
6 lbs, 13 oz
20.5 in

A wise person once told me that every pregnancy, labor and delivery has its own surprise. No matter how much you plan for the event and process, there are elements you cannot control. So you just have to wait, with an open mind, until you find out what your unique surprise will be. 

I think it's safe to say that my pregnancy surprise was the DVT (blood clot) that appeared at 30 weeks. After conquering that hurdle, one would think I was in the clear; how much bad luck can one person have? But I had lots of surprises headed my way: 
  • a super quick labor of 3.5 hours (this is obviously a welcome surprise!)
  • not feeling labor pains the way most women do (also a welcome surprise but it made it hard for the nurses to gauge my contractions, which might have contributed to how things progressed - or didn't progress - later)
  • not being allowed to have an epidural due to my blood thinner medication. I wanted a natural childbirth anyway, but not even having the option to fall back on was unexpected and scary
  • a long and drawn out second stage of labor - 3.5 hours of pushing!
  • not having a supportive nurse or doctor for part of my delivery. It's easy to blame others, but you cannot underestimate the power of a positive birthing environment. 
  • only getting five hours of sleep over the course of three nights - starting your recovery so sleep deprived is an added hurdle
  • postpartum complications due to my blood clot medication that landed us back in the hospital when Henry was just 10 days old (the youngest "visitor" on the maternity floor!)
  • finding out I have a genetic blood clotting disorder (Factor V and II mutations)
[above: the littlest "visitor" back on the maternity floor]

The thing is, I don't see any of these surprises as bad luck. In fact, they are part of my story that has now become Henry's story, so how can those chapters, no matter how stressful or painful, be bad? And of course there are other advantages to having gone through these experiences: 
  • I've come to realize that I have a high pain tolerance. Blood clots, natural childbirth, and crazy postpartum procedures (D&C w/o meds!) are just a few of my "tests" these last few months. I don't normally boast about such things, but I think it's okay to let people know that these experiences were hard and I'm proud to have gotten through them. A.A. Milne said it best: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." 
  • Now that my blood condition is known, other family members are able to be checked and I can take adequate precautions in the future to ensure I remain healthy and well
  • Now that I'm through all of the complications, life with a newborn is relatively easy!

Of course life with a newborn really isn't "easy" per say, but mixed in with all of that hard work and sleep deprivation there is JOY! I'm the type of person who is used to accomplishing a lot with her day and checking stuff off the ol' to-do list. Sure, it's hard adjusting to a slower pace and being okay with not getting much done in any given day. But then I realize how cool it is to be something that doesn't, for a change, require you to accomplish stuff every day.

Yes, there's laundry and nursing and a huge responsibility on my hands now that I'm a mom, but I can sit inside, cozied up with my baby all day and my title doesn't change.

To become a mother:

It's kind of like magic, isn't it?

Standing By

We've officially hit the final waiting period of pregnancy. Baby P is 39 weeks! Of course the entire nine months is one long waiting game, but something happens towards the end when you realize that the baby actually could come at any time. There's some anxiety, antsy-ness, and persistent nesting that sets in, but there is also a sense of calm in knowing that the events that will enfold in the next week or two are pretty much out of your control. It's a slight shift of mindset, perhaps elevated by the fact that you start fantasizing about handing the baby off to someone else and daydreaming about simple things, like jumping, bending and generally being limber. Some days I feel like I've been studying for a test or preparing for a race, and now we are so close to the big event that we set aside our books, our flashcards, our running cleats (whatever metaphor you want to use), take a deep breath, enjoy a pasta feed or two (oh, that's just for track? ... ) and say "bring it on."
Despite the totally consuming and potentially overwhelming nature of waiting for a baby to arrive, we realize that this feeling isn't all that foreign. Waiting for the unknown, that is. In fact, Evan and I have had our share of practice planning for something we have little control over, packing bags when we don't know our destination, waiting--and waiting--to see how everything will unfold, and literally taking a leap of faith into the great unknown. Because as many of you know, for the past year and a half we've traveled around the world flying standby. As a little recap, the mysterious Mr. P is chemistry teacher by day ... airport luggage handler by night (or weekends, as in his case). Thanks to some awesome benefits, we are able to fly as standby passengers, or non-rev, nearly anywhere. [You can read more about our 2013 adventures here.]
But making a trip happen when you don't have a ticket in hand can be a daunting task, and one that requires a certain level of patience and letting go of control, while still holding on to what is most important to you. As with childbirth, you can't control what gets thrown your way--will your connecting flight to Detroit get cancelled at the last second? Will your midwife be on-call when you deliver? Heck, you don't even what time your adventure will begin! But you can know how to navigate amidst those unknowns and remain optimistic.
After our failed attempt to board the 6am Vegas flight, we checked the board to see if anything else looked appealing - or possible. Good thing we decided to stay home, because later that week I ended up with a blood clot!
I am tempted to go into detail about all the non-rev travel skills we've learned and how this applies to childbirth, but for as valuable as that all is for us, I don't think it would make a very interesting read for you. So instead, let's have some fun looking through the non-rev trips Baby P has taken with us these past nine months - in utero. 


Over E's spring break we headed to Phoenix for a little warm-weather reprieve. I was only about a month pregnant at the time and didn't feel wonderful, but that didn't stop me from climbing Camelback and exploring Frank Lloyd Wright's desert home. (Although I did wear those Sea Band bracelets the entire time and I believe there was an emergency string cheese craving run to a gas station at one point). We were happy just to make it home, but for the record, in order to do so, we awoke at 3:30am to catch an early flight to JFK, followed by one to Indianapolis, and finally home on one of the last flights of the day. We worked for this one!

Rapid City

One Saturday morning in April we spontaneously decided to fly to Rapid City, South Dakota. My dad was in town visiting his folks so we decided to go for it. We climbed around on rocks out in the Black Hills, enjoying some quality time with both sets of grandparents, and then proceeded to get stuck there. Yup, the flight home was full and didn't look promising for the next day, so we rented a car and drove home the long way. Mr. P had to make it back for school in the morning!



Evan's cousin got married in California in June, so off we went to San Jose (because closer destinations failed), followed by a long drive out to the Yosemite area. We stopped for a baby announcement photo shoot in the park, because I was now entering my second trimester! Baby was juuuuust beginning to show.

New Jersey
My parents made the big move away from New Jersey, where they've lived for the last 20-some years, to Massachusetts. So naturally we had to make a quick stop at home one last time to help go through boxes and say goodbye to the ol' house - and the Jersey Shore!


Our trip to Germany in June deserves a post all it's own. But in a nutshell, we flew into Frankfurt and took the train west to the Mosel Valley region, where we stayed in a B&B for two nights, exploring the castles and towns in the area. Then we stayed with some relatives in southwest Germany for a couple days, while they toured us around the wineries, pastry shops and university towns in their area. We even bopped over to France for an afternoon! Baby P especially enjoyed the homemade Spaetzle (pasta) with zucchini cream sauce ... and of course, all of the chocolate and treats.

North Carolina

My sister got married in North Carolina - right on the first day of my third trimester! The ceremony and reception were beautiful, of course, on a farm out in the countryside near Greensboro. Baby P thoroughly enjoyed the mac n cheese and all of the amazing PIES! But in hindsight, I realize I was already beginning to feel symptoms of my oncoming blood clot and wasn't able to spend much time on the dance floor. Good thing it held off another couple of weeks! Fun fact: Evan actually worked the plane that I flew out to the wedding (see the airport photo near the top of this post) - that was a first!
[photos by Hartman Outdoor Photography]

Our travels were cut short this August and September by a DVT scare (blood clot! Read all about that and my year of being "fearless," here). So we've been grounded for the last 10 weeks. But we're already looking forward to what non-rev travel adventures lie ahead, this time, with Baby P on board! Hospital bags are packed, homemade felt mobile is hanging above the crib, cloth diapers are prepped and ready to go, I've cleaned some random corners of the house and canned a batch of homemade applesauce. 

Now we're just standing by, waiting for our little passenger to arrive.


Fearless. I'm sure this word means something different to just about every living person on the planet. When I chose that as my "word of the year" at the beginning of 2014, I didn't fully know my own definition of the word, I just sensed that I could use a little extra fearlessness this year. Do any of you do that? Instead of choosing a long and intimidating list of New Year's resolutions, just pick one word and try incorporate it into your life throughout the entire year. I've been doing it the last few years or so and am always surprised at how the word ends up fitting me well, before the year is through.

For me, it all started in February when we found out I was pregnant. I know, a joyous occasion for most people - and for us as well - but deep down, if I'm being perfectly honest, part of me was feeling a large portion of fear mixed in. For someone who likes control of her body, eating habits, exercise rhythms, and sleep patterns, finding out you won't have control over any of that for the next 9 months (and beyond!) is a pretty scary proposition. I've never been one to worry too much about change, but lack of control, that is terrifying.

Before becoming pregnant, I never understood why those who were, had to comment on it tirelessly. Every blog post from my favorite food blogger turned into pregnancy or baby commentary, coworkers who were expecting brought it up on a daily basis, and of course friends and family journeying down that road had a knack for keeping the entire Facebook world informed. But now I get it. When you're pregnant (or at least for me) it is all-consuming; there isn't a single part of me that doesn't feel fundamentally different. Maybe it's because I'm so sensitive or in-tune to my body, but it definitely causes me to pause and fully take in this life-changing experience.
Evan's pretty in-tune to his body too.
And it's a good thing I'm sensitive to my body because sometimes your own intuition is just as important (or more so) than your doctor's knowledge. Here's an example: it starts with a tightness in your side that feels like the standard pregnancy Round Ligament Pain, but as the week progresses it moves to your groin and upper thigh, and eventually you're limping around wondering how this can be normal.
The swelling begins ...
By Thursday your leg has swollen and turned a lovely shade of purple so you visit your OB office and the doctor orders an ultrasound of your leg to rule out blood clots. Ultrasound is complete and shows no sign of clots (whew!), so your doctor says to rest, ice and elevate over the weekend. "It will probably be better by the morning." Famous last words.
Baby Shower
After your wonderful baby shower Friday night that keeps you planted in a chair the entire evening, wincing in pain, you wake Saturday morning to find you can no longer walk. Extending your leg past a 45 degree angle is nearly impossible, and the pain in your groin is now reaching record highs. Of course the on-call doctor you speak with over the phone knows you've already been checked for blood clots, so he isn't concerned. Thankfully you have an excellent and intuitive midwife, who, upon seeing you at the clinic Monday, knows something serious is afoot and sends you off to have another ultrasound. This time the verdict is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - blood clots in three veins originating in the groin with clotting extending down the entire leg. (You can look it up for more info, but in a nutshell: pregnancy is a risk factor for DVT since you have three times the amount of blood and your body simply clots easier in preparation for childbirth. The main concern is that a piece of the clot will break off and head to your heart or lungs - this can be fatal. Once you start taking blood thinner your risk goes down significantly, but it still takes a few weeks until the clot has dissolved and symptoms/pain subsides). 

Pain level 8-10 at this point!
I know I should have felt some sense of fear upon entering the ER and spending the night in the hospital hooked up to an IV, but in reality, I just felt a huge sense of relief. I had been right all along - this wasn't normal pregnancy pain, and it wasn't even a normal blood clot scenario (groin clots are much less common than ones in your calf - and three of them?!).

But it doesn't mean the recovery has been easy. In fact, this whole ordeal has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. It is not like recovering from a sports injury where I'm simply at home resting, icing and watching movies; it is draining both physically and emotionally and this blog post is the only productive thing I've managed to do all week (and that's saying a lot for an over-achiever like me). Since I'm pregnant on top of it all, it adds an extra layer of discomfort and complexity - I can't help Evan prepare the nursery, stockpile food for when baby comes, or keep up on my prenatal yoga or exercise. But I try not to wallow in my misery because in the big picture it could be a lot worse. And after all, this is just temporary and will soon pass.
Although I did manage to get out of helping with this sticky nursery-prep situation. Maybe not a bad thing!
(note: the walls are not nearly this harsh a yellow and the leaning tower is now appropriately assembled inside the closet)
Now, here's where my word "fearless" comes in again. I have to give myself shots. As in half-inch-long needle injections IN MY PREGNANT BELLY twice a day for the next ten weeks (until delivery). If I were to rewind to the beginning of 2014 when I chose the word Fearless and pose the question to myself, Jeopardy (or Apples-to-Apples?) style, I'd probably says "FEARLESS: what is, learning to administer my own injections." Seriously. Well, that would be right up there with spending a night in a haunted hotel. (Which one would you choose? It's a hard question.) If you're on team needle-phobia, maybe you are like me and have to lay down whenever your blood is drawn or you receive a shot because you fainted once in high school. (I can't be the only one who did that!) Fell to the ground and heard the nurse yell "She's gone down!" And they hadn't even pricked me yet. I can't say that shot-giving was ever something I put on my bucket list - whether administering to myself, someone else, or even a cow. But yet …

In order to stay in the half-glass-full club I'm trying to see the positives here. And really, overcoming my fear of needles has got to be one of the biggest challenges - and dare I say opportunities - I've ever been given. To know that within the next ten weeks I will become so accustomed to the routine of shot giving that it will become second nature, helps me want to do it again every day. Every time, I'm one step closer to overcoming that fear. So far it has gone pretty well and the nurse even complimented me on my steady hand. Who knows, maybe I'll switch professions yet! ; )

Of course there are other benefits to this entire ordeal, and for the sake of remaining upbeat, I will list them here:

  • We were actually scheduled to tour the Birth Center of the hospital the night we were there - I guess we opted for the behind-the-scenes tour instead! Our hospital "trial run" will help me pack my hospital bag: I now know to bring a sweatshirt to supplement the poor hospital pillows, ear plugs and an eye mask.
  • People make you food. Evan's mom is driving up tomorrow with some quiche, calico beans, bran muffins and peanut butter cookies. Needless to say I am quite excited. Evan has filled the fridge with fruit, yogurt, and a hot dish I've been enjoying every day. Lesson learned: when someone hurts, bring them food. Treats, baked goods, leftovers - whatever! No need to ask, just do it : )

Evan knows how to make me feel better: he brought me kale broccoli salad!
  • I gained perspective: Last time I was in the hospital I was experiencing very unnatural pain - next time I will also be in pain but it will be natural and serve a very clear purpose.
  • Now that part of my blood clot area is starting to clear I'm surprised at how much of my stomach pains I've had the past few months and assumed were just pregnancy symptoms are also clearing. After this, pregnancy will be easy! I don't know that much about blood clots but I suspect this one was a long time in the making.

 And apparently Germans get pregnant too, although we didn't see a single one during our visit in June!
  • We discovered that a hospital stay is not completely unlike riding first class (what?!). Of course there are no IVs on an airplane along with a zillion other differences, but we couldn't help but chuckle when we noticed that in both situations you have a bedside service/call button, you often slide down on the slippery inclined bed, and you're constantly woken up or stuck waiting for someone to tend to the next task, whether that be delivering a warm washcloth (happens in both situations), checking your vitals, or spreading a fancy napkin and silverware before you for your five course meal (I'll let you guess on those last two).

  • I realized, yet again, that I chose well. I have the best in-home nurse in the world: Evan! He's definitely gone above and beyond in taking care of my physical and emotional needs and has proved already that he's going to make a great dad.


Ten more weeks and counting!

Back in the Game

Despite the radio silence on the ol' blog the last few months, I really do have a lot to say.

For starters ...

  • We're expecting a baby this November! How's that to start off with the big one? 
  • Flight benefits continue as Evan passes the one-year mark - we have recently added Phoenix, the Black Hills and California to our non-rev travel destination list. Oh yea, and he's still a chemistry teacher as well for the majority of the year.
  • House projects demand attention, especially the office-to-nursery switch and a big basement renovation (need an official guest room and bathroom before Baby P arrives!)
  • Pearson parents are leaving New Jersey after 25+ years and venturing four hours north to central Massachusetts. This weekend will be my last trip "home" for a final beach day and helping pack up boxes. Yea, it's kind of bittersweet as one would expect, but it's an awfully exciting adventure as well! {And I've never been one to label one singular place as "home" anyway}
  • Speaking of bittersweet, the Pierson parents just had a big change in their life, that also falls in that category of "moving." Only their home remains in place, firmly planted on the farm just outside of Lake City. When you live on a farm, the definition of home is a complex thing, spread in part between the bodies of 200 dairy cows. Earlier this spring Sapa Ska Farms held an auction and sent their herd out into the world. This event deserves a write-up all its own and I have pictures and video to help tell the story. Don't worry, it has a happy ending, in which the farmer now has time and flexibility to spontaneously visit the cabin, attend a full wedding reception or help his son finish off the basement ... what?
I've been missing this part of my life where I sit down by myself in a quiet room and send my thoughts out into the void. For a good two months, being in front of any screen made me motion sick so I let go of any extra activities that involved screens for a while, and then one gets accustomed to other evening activities (like sleeping, for the most part). Sometimes you realize that you have to slow down a little bit, let life catch up and tend to other things for a while, even if that means pushing pause on your favorite hobby. Now that I am through that early stage of pregnancy, I'm looking forward to bringing the Tales of E and C back to life (although perhaps it is due for a name change?). We have some big adventures ahead and what better fuel to light my creative fire than a year of change and new beginnings? 

As Frank Costanza once said ...

I'm BACK babyyy!


You know you're over-commited in life when "quality time" spent with your husband consists of rescuing your car from a snowy street at 11pm. Oh, it was quite a date, as we hopped in his old Honda Civic and started our trek down the city streets to where my car decided it couldn't quite make it up a hill earlier in the evening. Really, it should be the other way around, with old Civic throwing in the towel when times get rough and Prius, our young chariot, coming to the rescue. But "old faithful" maneuvered that mashed potato terrain despite the hanging tail pipe that needs welding once again. He takes a little maintenance, but like any good relationship - or marriage - the engine will certainly outlive its frame.

2013: Let's do the Numbers

It's 20 below zero in Minneapolis today and E and I are hunkering in and reminiscing on the past year, especially this sunny vista:

When I think back on 2013, the main word that comes to mind is travel. I laugh when I look at my planner, especially last summer, when we were home in Minnesota a total of two weekends. (Suffice it to say this took a toll on our house, and our sleep!) Before you ask I will tell you: no, we are not rich. As it turns out, you don't have to be wealthy to travel like you are. You just need a crazy husband (or be so yourself) who happens to love spending his free time throwing around 50-pound bags and hanging out in the belly of a plane.

Let me explain. Evan started working for the airport as a luggage handler this summer during his off-season from teaching. We spent the summer visiting family and friends and faraway lands thanks to the amazing Delta benefits, and when school came around again we couldn't bear to part with the perks, so on he continued into the fall while juggling his teaching schedule. "Let's just make it to fall break so we can take another trip," he said. But after that there was a short weekend jaunt to St. Louis for my 30th birthday and then of course our annual Christmas trip to New Jersey, so he kept holding out. Now that it's the new year he claims he can see the light at the end of the tunnel - summer. So onward we go! He's already working in sub-zero temps and it can't get any worse than that! It's been a heckuvayear and we're grateful we've been given this opportunity ... and I'm grateful I have a husband who's willing to work 60 hours a week to make it happen.

In typical Carolyn fashion, I've accumulated pages of notes and thoughts from our travels and some pretty crazy tales to share (caught in the worst storm of our lives, lost in Tuscany! on bikes!). And they'll make it to the page ... err blog ... eventually. But until then, I had a little fun going through old photos and finally putting these crazy stats together we've been tracking since the first flight last May.

Let's do the numbers!

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