Rebecca Collected

My (very long) birth story

Friday, May 21, 2021


In the last week before I ended up giving birth, my husband and I decided to binge watch the Harry Potter movies again just for something to do. We had already prepped everything we could, cleaned the house and since it's still a pandemic there wasn't much else to do. I was 40 weeks and 6 days so we had been prepped for this for awhile. On Monday evening John offered that we could push back watching the last movie until tomorrow, but I said no, we better finish tonight. That ended up being very fortuitous! I sat on my birth ball while we were watching because I was trying to stay angled forward as they tell you to do to help a baby be posterior facing. I started noticing Braxton Hicks contractions but they were fairly evenly spaced. I started timing them in my app just to keep track and they were about 8 minutes apart. They didn't hurt at all though so I thought nothing of it. I had had some Braxton Hicks contractions previously in the week, so I assumed this was just more of the same. 


We went to bed after the movie finished and I slept just fine until about 2am. I woke up to what I thought was a Braxton Hicks contraction, but one that actually started to feel like a strong cramp. I went to the bathroom, returned to bed and fell asleep again. 4am rolls around and again I'm awoken by another contraction. Now I'm starting to think that this might be the beginning of something. Never before had they felt even remotely painful, nor did I often wake in the night. I managed two more hours of sleep until at 6am I started feeling more strong cramp-like contractions and this time they were relatively frequent. I went to the bathroom to sit on the toilet and assess what was going on and to avoid waking John. By the time our alarm went off at 6:45am I was pretty sure this was real. I told John as he woke up and messaged my office to say I probably would be late if I came in at all. 


With the first really strong contraction I suddenly felt like I was going to be sick. That sweaty upper lip, queasy stomach sensation. Luckily I wasn't sick, and the feeling never returned, but from that point on, early labor went really quickly. I asked John to get my birth ball for me to sit on which he got right away and I promptly ignored entirely. I spent most of my time either leaned over the bed, on the toilet or, eventually, standing under hot water in the shower. By 10am I asked John to run the contractions app because I couldn't anymore and to tell his work that he needed to leave. While I was standing in the shower he did my Duolingo for the day (Priorities -- gotta keep that streak alive!) and called the midwife. I had already been having contractions about 3-5 minutes apart for over an hour. I couldn't believe that it could have progressed from hardly anything to needing to head to the hospital in under 4 hours, but they told us to come in anyway!


By the time we finished packing the hospital bag (with completely unnecessary stuff as it turns out), texted our doula and got everything ready to go, it had almost been another hour and I was now having contractions 1-2 minutes apart. It took me several contractions to get down the stairs, and several more to put my shoes on. I remember yelling at John to hurry up (something he's absolutely terrible at) because they were suddenly coming so fast. We took what seemed like the longest drive over an absolutely pothole riddled route to the hospital, parked and I made a beeline to the labor wing. While walking down the entrance hallway I was so laser-focused on making it to the elevators that we blew right past the Covid checkpoint, I refused offers to go get a wheelchair while I waited through contractions leaning against the wall because I knew it would only slow us down and I barely remember the elevator ride up or the check in process.


I was put in a room to assess if I could be admitted. They had to monitor the baby for 30 minutes and do a cervical check. Despite my contractions being really intense already and very close together I was convinced I would only be a few centimeters dilated. Instead, when my midwife was checking me she chuckled to herself and said, "You definitely won't be going home." I was already 7cm dilated! They immediately started running water for the tub because I was interested in laboring in the water. As soon as the monitoring was done and I was free to walk around I stripped down to only my bra, losing any sense of modesty immediately. They asked me to try going to the bathroom first, joked that I should be careful not to have a toilet baby, and then into the tub I went. I labored in the tub for about an hour but was surprised that I didn't find it as comfortable as I thought I would. There was really no good way to relax because I couldn't lean back and there wasn't anything to hold onto really. My knees got tired from kneeling on them and I wasn't in enough water to float. They really should get themselves some bath pillows or foam boards! They gave me nitrous oxide while I was in the tub. I didn't like how hard I had to push the mask against my face to get it to actually seal when I inhaled, and I didn't feel like it was doing anything. Turns out, the tank had been empty the whole time. Super helpful. They replaced the tank, but even after that I still didn't feel like it was doing a whole lot for me.


After laboring in the tub for awhile they asked me to try to go to the bathroom, do another cervical check and try some new positions on dry land. I was 9cm dilated at the check, with only a lip of my cervix still present. I did some side lying and hands and knees for awhile positions, moving about every 30 minutes. I remember that every time I moved to a new position the first contraction in that position was really unpleasant, so I wasn't super keen on all the moving they were having me do. At some point during these didn't positions I felt my water break. It was only a tiny bit of water, but it was clear. Eventually I felt my body do a tiny little push of its own. By this time I had totally given up on the gas because it was so annoying to have told hold and press on my face and it just wasn't worth it when I didn't feel any different. My midwife checked again and the lip of my cervix was still present, so she manually moved it aside during a few contractions which wasn't the most pleasant thing ever. It paid off however because then it stayed aside on its own and I was cleared to start pushing.


This is when things slow down quite a bit. I started pushing on the birth stool. The stool is appropriately named because boy does it make you pass a lot of your own! Luckily because of Covid everyone was wearing masks except me, but I was honestly jealous. They always tell you that nurses will just happily wipe the poop away and say nothing of it, but in my case they just left it on the chuck pad below me and I wished they would have cleared it away faster! Anyway, enough of that gross detail. When I first started pushing, my noises were a lot higher than they were supposed to be and my pushes weren't quite strong enough yet. It was pretty clear I wasn't fully in the thick of things yet. After the birth stool I moved to hands and knees, side laying, even on my back. I was in so many positions I can't even remember them anymore. My midwife kept disappearing and in hindsight I think it was to fend off the attending physicians because I had been pushing for so long already. At one point they asked me to try going to the bathroom, but absolutely nothing would come out even though I had drank enough water that there was definitely pee in my bladder. 


Eventually I started making much lower noises and my pushing got a lot stronger and my breathing a lot more in sync with what they wanted while pushing. I was honestly surprised that they were telling me to hold my breath and bear down because the hypnobirthing class I took had advised against doing so. In the end I didn't really care -- my heart wasn't set on any one approach -- I was just surprised that this is the one thing my midwives differed on from the approaches I had seen promoted in the more "natural" community online. Up until now the pain wasn't really something that I had thought about too much. It was present, but it wasn't at the forefront of my mind. When I started pushing it was nice to be able to utilize that pain and do something productive, but for some reason the pain was the worst for me when I was inhaling during a contraction. Exhaling and pushing? Fine. Inhaling? Very unpleasant. I never thought to myself that I wanted pain medication, but I did start to dread having to stop holding my breath after a push. I didn't really make any noise while pushing or in pain though -- I spent almost the entire time I was in labor with my eyes closed and silent. My midwife and doula actually had to coach me to make the low groaning noises when having a contraction or pushing. 


After about 2 hours of pushing with little progress, my midwife suggested that I get an IV and start fluids so I could would hopefully have a little more energy. I honestly couldn't tell you if it helped or not. I hadn't felt particularly fatigued to begin with. What I did feel was more of a mental fatigue. I just had this feeling that none of my pushes were doing anything at all. I obviously had no idea what progress during pushing would actually feel like, or if I should be able to feel anything at all, but in my head I just knew that I was getting nowhere. I pushed for another hour after that, again with very little progress, and so my midwife asked me to get an epidural. In hindsight I think she knew I was going to have to have an epidural for one reason or another when she asked me to get an IV because you have to run fluids for a certain time before administering the drugs. I think she might have just been preparing but trying not to scare me. Her reasons for me getting an epidural were twofold. First off, she wanted me to actually rest. Secondly she was hoping that my pelvis would expand a bit if I wasn't able to feel anything or control my muscles. 


I don't actually remember the feeling of the first local anesthetic that they administered while getting an epidural, but I do remember how hard it was to remain completely still during the middle of a contraction. I remember how close both my doula and my midwife were and how hard they were trying to coach me to breath through the contraction and assure me that I was doing well. They actually require that your birth partner sit in front of you, and I remember how scared John looked while it was happening. He was probably more scared than I was because at that point I just wanted something, anything to change from what we had been doing previously. I remember telling my doula that I just didn't feel like she was going to come out of me on her own and I appreciated that she actually relayed that to my midwife and that they actually considered my instinct seriously. Once the epidural was administered I initially couldn't feel any contractions at all. I actually opened my eyes and was talking for the first time in many hours. After a few minutes I started to be able to feel contractions again and my feeling was getting stronger with each one. They brought the anesthesiologist back and I was given a booster dose. Feeling started to mostly go away again, but I could still feel them a bit, especially in the right side of my pelvis. I was then given another booster and they rolled me to my right side to try to get rid of the hot spot. As soon as they did that the baby's heart rate slowed and out of nowhere there were nurses all surrounding me and they all flipped me back over and waited to make sure her heart rate stabilized again. Shortly after that my blood pressure dropped (a side effect of the epidural) and so they had to give me medication through my IV to help stabilize me this time. Eventually things calmed down and I was able to rest for an hour despite being really cold from all the fluids they had to have running through my IV.


After resting they did another cervical check (which I didn't even know they did because of the epidural -- so weird!). She had moved down an inch which was great news. My midwife talked to me and said we would try pushing with an epidural for another hour, but that she was going to ask the hospital physician that's especially skilled with forceps to be ready to come in if we hadn't delivered her yet. She told me the doctor could do a forceps delivery if I wanted to and she thought it was safe and possible to do based on baby's position or I could go straight to a c-section if I didn't want to try forceps. She warned me that even if we try forceps that it may not be possible and I may end up having to get a c-section anyway. This was the moment I was very glad I had taken the birth classes with our doula because I felt like I knew what the risks and benefits to each option were already and I wasn't scared. I just wanted her out! 


We began pushing with an epidural in the classic stirrups position. My midwife told me she wanted me to hold a mirror and I immediately looked horrified and said "MUST WE??" Clearly I was not interested in seeing whatever was to be seen down there. Thankfully the mirror never made an appearance. The entire time I was in labor I had been having an irregular contraction pattern where one contraction would be weaker and less than a minute and the next contraction or two would be up to three minutes and really strong. It hadn't been a problem until we got to this stage of pushing and they noticed that during the long, strong ones baby's heart rate was decelerating. I was given oxygen to help it pass on to her and I was told to stop pushing on every other contraction so she would have a chance to recover. Luckily it never got any more serious than something that could just be monitored and mitigated naturally.


I pushed for another hour and again there was no progress made so the hospital doctor was called in. My midwife and doula spent a lot of time assuring me she was the best in town with the forceps but that she was very direct and didn't have the best bedside manner, but as a person that grew up in a family of direct, assertive women I thought she was perfectly nice and that she took her job very seriously (thankfully)! I already had an epidural so when she arrived we were ready to go straight in. She told me that she did think she could attempt a forceps delivery but again, we might find out it wasn't possible and have to go into surgery relatively quickly for a c-section. Then she told me she would get her tools in place, wait for a contraction to start and that I was to wait for her to tell me to push and no one else. It took her no time at all to get the forceps inserted. I didn't see them, but John did. Later he said they kind of horrified them because they were huge metal hockey-stick looking contraptions. On the first contraction she had me push a total of 4 times. After the third push her head was out and suddenly all the difficulty was made clear. She was sunny-side up and her eyes were staring straight up at us! Normally they only have you push 3 times per contraction, so the nurse tried to tell me to rest but the doctor was very stern and said "No, push again, push again!" On the fourth push she was out! 


Things were moving at lightening speed by this point. I had wanted to have delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin, but I knew that something wasn't right because as soon as she was out they called John over very quickly to cut the cord and then she was taken straight to the NICU station in the corner of our room. She was not crying yet and she was completely brown from meconium. It turns out the water that broke earlier was just the outer sac. Her inner sac had remained intact and was completely filled with a ton of meconium. Even though she was taken away so quickly, I was oblivious to the idea that something could be wrong. I just assumed this was the way things had to be due to having an instrumental birth. John however was more clued in and stood halfway between me and the warmer, not sure if he should comfort me or make sure she was okay. They ended up having to suck fluid from her stomach twice before she cried, but after that she was perfectly healthy. They gave her oxygen for a little bit just to make sure she was okay, but her coloring was great and all her vitals were completely normal. The nurses said later that she had swallowed so much fluid that they were surprised she was able to stabilize as quickly as she did and not have to go to the NICU and for that we are very thankful.


While this was happening and I was just laying there waiting, the placenta was delivered. I had no idea it had happened so quickly because of the epidural and I had assumed it was something that I would have to push for. Apparently not! The medical team stayed for another 45 minutes or so stitching me up because I had a 3rd degree tear (which they told me later) and some unexplained cervical bleeding. My epidural had started wearing off so I kept having to say that I could feel what they were doing. I ended up getting two shots of local anesthetic and fentanyl in my IV line while they were working. I was never actually told how many stitches I received, but my doula and midwife both told me that the physician was very meticulous about her stitching so I'm sure it was a lot. To help stem the cervical bleeding they inserted this very long gauze strip, probably at least three feet long, into my vagina to sop it all up. When they were doing inventory of the sponges, gauze and tools, etc after they finished stitching me they found that they were missing a sponge. They used a sort of metal detector thing to try to locate it (apparently they have chips in them) and they heard it beep while holding it over me and thought that it must have accidentally gotten wrapped up in the gauze they had put inside me. They took it all back out (I felt a bit like a magician pulling a colorful scarf from her sleeve), looked for it in the gauze, didn't find anything and the subsequently realized that the sponge was just under me, not in me. Still glad they checked though!


While this was all going on they had returned the baby to my chest for skin-to-skin time. They warned me as they brought her to me that she had a very misshapen forehead because it had been hitting against my pelvic bone for the entire five hours we were pushing. The bump on her forehead was huge -- probably about two inches tall! Amazingly this was completely gone by morning and you couldn't tell it had been there at all. The combination of the bump and the fact that she wasn't in the birth canal for more than one contraction meant that her head was in the 95% percentile for circumference. My vagina says yikes. I also wonder now if her head pressing on my pelvic bone is why I had that hot spot with the epidural. I'm far from being a doctor, but it seems like a pretty plausible explanation to me. She stayed on my chest for about an hour before she started crawling to my breast on her own. It was truly insane to see such a new little creature already know where to go. She latched on and we were able to breastfeed for a little bit. We were left alone, just the three of us, for about two hours to hang out and bond. In reality we just sat there a little stunned at the fact that she was here and real and everything was okay.


After we had time alone, they came to try to move us to the recovery room. No one had told me yet, but I had officially lost around 1.5 liters of blood during labor, so I was classified as having had a postpartum hemorrhage. When they sat me up to get out of bed I felt a little light headed, and when I stood I got very pale and light headed. They took one look at me and told me we'd be spending the night in the delivery room to rest some more. Unfortunately for John that meant sleeping on a hard couch instead of in a double wide bed that they have in the recovery rooms. We stayed until around 6am when someone came to take my blood so they could check my hemoglobin levels. They did this several times a day and yet I still had no idea that I had lost so much blood. I just assumed it was normal post-delivery procedure. It wasn't until they told me that my hemoglobin levels got down to 6.8 and that I officially qualified for a blood transfusion that I understood why. This was on the second day in the hospital, around late morning. It wasn't until mid afternoon that it was finally cleared and I was hooked up to receive a unit of blood. They had to run a bunch more fluids through me first which added to my already very swollen state from the fluids I received in labor. So much so that I had to remove my bracelet because it was getting too tight! A few hours and a very bruised arm later (blood transfusions are a very strange sensation) I was on my way to getting my hemoglobin back. After my last hemoglobin test after the transfusion, my levels were back up to 8 and I was cleared to go home. We raced to get everything packed up before the pharmacies closed for the night and headed out for the first time as a family of three!


My birth story is absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be. It's not a very nice story on the surface, and it was especially hard for John to process as someone who had to watch it all from the outside. I am lucky that I didn't feel particularly scared or upset during any of my labor. I was just happy that things were progressing after so many hours of no changes. I didn't even consider the gravity of the situation until well afterwards. I am incredibly grateful that everything turned out okay for both me and the baby, and that we had come into labor incredibly well informed from the birth classes we took and supported by our doula and midwife. To anyone preparing for the arrival of their baby, I hope you take time to consider how you want your birth to go if things don't go exactly as planned. You'll be grateful you're not scrambling to make decisions or understand a procedure in the moment. I hope that hearing my less-than-ideal story that still ends happily has provided a little reassurance that even if things don't go how you thought they would, it can still be a positive experience. And remember, birth trauma is real. Seek help if you're having a tough time coming to terms with your own birth story!

Third trimester recap

Saturday, April 24, 2021


So I'm finally sitting down to start writing this up a month after having given birth. That should give you an indication of how things have been going lately, but more on that later. Instead, I will now try to think back a lifetime or two ago (a.k.a. a few months) to when I was still pregnant so I can talk about how I was feeling and what was on my mind.

People say that the third trimester is absolutely torture -- that you feel huge and tired and achy, etc. I must have just been very lucky, but for me the third trimester really wasn't so bad! I had a lot of aches and pains when sleeping during the second trimester and most of those went away during the third trimester. My bump must have just gotten so big that it was actually finally supported by the mattress when I was sleeping on my side. Even in the last weeks of my pregnancy I was still taking daily walks and exercising (lightly). I managed to avoid any swollen limbs or back pain and it was only in the last few weeks of my pregnancy that I started getting stretch marks to any real degree. I had one or two by my belly button in the end of the second trimester, but once she started moving down into my pelvis and getting bigger it really stretched out my belly and I ended up with a halo of stretch marks around my belly button about 3-5 inches in diameter. My poor belly button was also completely turned inside out. Who knows if that belly button will ever return to its former glory...


My mental journey has mirrored my physical journey. For the most part, I really enjoyed being pregnant. I'm not sure what it was about pregnancy exactly, but I just felt very womanly and sensual even when my bump was absolutely huge and I had gained a few pounds. My body changes didn't really bother me aside from the stretch marks that cropped up at the end which I'm still coming to terms with. It wasn't until I passed my due date that I grew really tired of being pregnant. Any apprehensions about actually giving birth didn't matter to me anymore. I just wanted to move on from this waiting stage and into the next. Every day that I had to go to work past my due date was such a drag and really annoyed me, especially since I couldn't really start any projects of substance because I could be on maternity leave at any moment. I almost would recommend leaving some stuff to organize or get ready until the very end because it just provides something to do and to take your mind off being pregnant. I had finished everything a few weeks in advance and not having a task list combined with the monotony of week nine million of Covid quarantine meant all I could do was sit and stew. Luckily I only went 6 days past my due date and then it was time for the main event!


In the end, I had a really smooth and enjoyable pregnancy. I consider myself extremely lucky. If that were the only part of the story, I would do it again in a heartbeat. However, my actual labor complicated the story a bit more, but we can talk about that in another post.  





Second trimester recap

Sunday, December 6, 2020


I'm sure this is the most cliche thing to say and that not a single pregnancy related blog post has ever gone up without the phrase, but where in the world has time gone?? Five seconds ago I was taking a pregnancy test and bricking it, and now we're a week and a half away from the third trimester and I have a room full of baby stuff as a result of religiously scouring Facebook marketplace at all hours of the day. This whole year has been a blur anyway (thanks pandemic) but it goes by so much quicker when you spend practically every free moment working on some spreadsheet or another, watching hypno-birthing videos or sorting the items in the registry we're building for the millionth time. Let's just say that the last three months have been extraordinarily focused and productive.

I consider myself really lucky because aside from only a few symptoms in the first trimester this pregnancy has been really easy so far, and especially in this trimester. I feel like I have maybe even more energy than I normally do? Not sure how that works, but I'll take it. My bump has only recently gotten big enough to be a little annoying while trying to sleep, but for the most part I have found myself forgetting about it entirely. We're reached a milestone however -- I can no longer zip up my winter coat. Walks are going to be a lot chillier from here on out!







In general, things are starting to feel a lot more real though. When you're in the early stages of pregnancy it's so hard to tell what is happening inside you. You can't feel anything, and if you don't have a lot of symptoms it's easy to wonder if everything is going alright or not. Even after the initial scan, when the baby is just a little blob on the screen, it was hard to translate what I could see into the reality of a new human. The 20 week ultrasound definitely make it sink in a lot more though. We saw her opening and closing her mouth,  moving her little tummy up and down for practice breathing and flailing her arms around. It's really amazing how much movement is happening when you can't feel any of it! To top it off, I have an anterior placenta (meaning it's implanted itself on the front side of my uterus, rather than the back side) which adds an extra cushion that prevented me from feeling any kicks until a couple weeks after when most people start feeling kicks. Now I can definitely feel her kicking around in there and my husband has even been able to feel her too. My whole stomach has even visibly moved a few times already! I can only imagine how much stronger it's going to be by the time we're well into the third trimester.

We've sent out (virtual) baby shower invitations, sent out the registry link and we've started putting together the nursery. It's a little surreal that it's only 3 months away, but reality is going to hit really fast. We're excited, nervous, terrified, and happy, all at once. What a ride. Here's to a smooth third trimester!

First trimester recap

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Surprise, internet void, I'm making a baby!

Right the beginning of lockdown my birth control prescription ran out of refills. It was early March when Things were just starting to get crazy, so I really didn't fancy going into my doctor's office if I didn't have to. While I'm sure they would have been able to see me safely, it gave us the perfect little nudge to consider if this was the right time to decide on having kids. I was 31 at the time (happy belated birthday to me) so I knew I needed to start thinking seriously at some point. In the end we decided just to see what happened if we "pulled the goalie." Turns out, about 3 months later, a baby happens!

Without thinking anything of it at the time, I started noticing how much more I was sweating after runs, and how long it was taking me to cool down. I thought it was just something to do with my hydration levels or something like that, but when I think back on it, nothing had really changed there. Then, and maybe this is completely crazy, but ones of my cats started to become obsessed with being near me. Normally he's not that interested in sitting on my lap, but for a few weeks he just wouldn't leave my side. Finally, a good week before I was due to get my really quick regular period, I had some spotting. I never have had spotting that early in my cycle so at that point I started to think something was up. I googled around and learned about implantation bleeding and just knew that was what was happening. Sure enough, four days later, one day after my period was due to start I got a positive pregnancy test result. I still can picture the look on my husband's face when he glanced at the test before he thought it would be showing a result, only to see it say 'Pregnant.' Definitely an amusing memory! 😂

At first I didn't feel too differently than I would have during a normal period. Everything just felt a little more intense. I had cramping for several days, maybe even a week or two, when normally I would have only had cramps for about a day. My boobs were sometimes slightly tender during a normal period, but now they were much more sore, especially on the sides, and for about a week or two. They also tend to get a little bit bigger around my period, but they definitely have grown quite a bit more than normal now. The only things that I didn't normally experience during a period that I definitely experienced during the first few weeks of pregnancy were bloating and constipation. For an avid once-daily pooper, that was quite a shock! 

Luckily I haven't really had any of the stereotypical nausea or morning sickness. Apparently my mom and my husband's mom never had any either, so maybe I just got extraordinarily lucky! I would definitely feel a little weird if I didn't eat with regularity, so I started eating breakfast and having two snacks a day which I never did before, but that kept any strange feelings at bay. I did struggle to stay hydrated at first however because with all the extra eating and the bloating, I kept having this feeling like I was water logged even though I definitely was not. That was very strange and I still don't really know why I felt like that. The closest I've come to nausea or throwing up has been food aversions. I didn't have any problems at all until one day, when going to get the meal prepped lunch from the fridge that I had eaten for two days in a row prior to this day, I suddenly couldn't stand the idea of eating any more of the cabbage soup I had made and normally really like. For awhile thereafter I struggled to eat really spiced things like curries (aka half of my diet usually lol) or anything close to a vegetable. Even my beloved Chipotle order was gross to me -- a real tragedy. 

The only other thing I can think of to note is that from week 6 and onwards for about 3 or 4 weeks I felt a little more tired than normal. Nothing that I noticed when I was working or staying busy, but if I sat down on the couch for long enough I was definitely taking a nap, something I never normally do. I also used it as an excuse to stop exercising, pretty much completely. I was mid couch to 5k program when I found out I was pregnant, so I definitely could have kept that same level of exercise up, but sometimes you just need to give in an rest for 6 weeks instead (apparently).

Now that I'm just on the other side of the first trimester pretty much every symptom I had is gone. I ate broccoli and curry today and didn't hate it. I feel back to my productive self, I'm exercising again, I can drink all the water I should and I don't end up every evening with a super bloated tummy! I definitely got off lucky compared to the average woman's first trimester, but regardless, I'm glad that the small symptoms I had seem to be gone. Now to get used to a growing belly!

What is "old" clothing anymore?

Sunday, July 12, 2020
I watch a lot of videos from various content creators on YouTube. Some fashion specific, some more lifestyle based and many who are focused a lot on sustainability. I've noticed that a lot of them have been referring to clothes as "really old" when in fact they mean no more than 3 or 4, sometimes even one 1 year(s) old. That surprises me.  

Is this concept of "old" clothing being under 5 years old unique to them because they all work in world where by nature anything older than a year is outdated or is that something that most people think these days? I understand that you constantly have to be evolving on social media and looking at what is on topic now in order to stay afloat, but even some of the more sustainably minded content creators refer to their not-so-old-to-me clothes as old, so maybe it's more of a widespread thing? Maybe it's only "old" relative to other content creators' clothing? 

I'm currently wearing my sister's old tank top that is at the very least 14 years old. My underwear is probably at least 10 years old. My shorts are around 5-6 years old. Am I just disgusting? It all still cleans up just fine! Perhaps my family just raised my sister and I in a bit of a stranger way than I realized...  

I worry a lot about shopping at less than sustainable companies because unfortunately we don't have any storefronts here that stock sustainable brands and sometimes you just need to see things in person (or...did before a pandemic I guess). Is shopping at fast fashion houses still "fast" if you end up wearing the pieces for decades at a time? Aside from the obvious ethical problems of these institutions, when does the sustainability of the product in the consumer's wardrobe outweigh the overall sustainability of the corporation? And if we don't believe we can participate in a system without taking on the whole of the ethical responsibility, are we ever really able to consider ourselves as individuals more sustainable while still living in the capitalist society that we do?  

A lot of thoughts for a Sunday morning. Time for some coffee.





.... *queue existential dread stemming from coffee consumption*.

The great boxed vegan mac cook-off

Sunday, July 5, 2020
We've had some extra time on our hands lately (*ahem*) and we're getting reaaaaaaally tired of cooking everyday, so what better time than now to try out the FOUR WHOLE OPTIONS of boxed vegan mac that our grocery store offers? Four. How is this real?

Let's introduce our contenders!


First on the podium is Annie's Organic Vegan Mac with "Creamy Sauce." While she's been around for awhile longer than our other competitors, she doesn't win any points for her marketing. That name could use some work.


Next up, the first from the Modern Table team, good old "Classic Cheddar Style" mac. 


Warming up behind her, we've got her teammate "White Cheddar Style."


And finally, pulling up the rear but still itching to win, the last Modern Table contestant -- "Southwest." Southwest of what, nobody knows.

All four contenders weigh in around 6 ounces so this should be an equal fight. We'll have to take up the issue of this teeny, tiny weight class with the producers. We're not quite sure why they think 6 ounces is enough food for anyone, especially when we're talking mac and cheese, but that's a discussion for another time.

As the contest gets started we notice that all three members of the Modern Table team seem to get really foamy when cooking. In fact, their boxes even warn you of this phenomenon. Strange, but not unmanageable. The lone contender from team Annie's doesn't appear to cook much differently than a "normal" pasta. We're also noticing that all four entrants are reaching the finish line a lot faster than their published race times on the box. There is no way we're cooking these as prescribed or we'll end up with mushy, over-tired pasta. Faster time to finished mac is not a problem for me.

After a quick drain in the colander, we're onto the final stages now. It's time to see how the powder packets stack up with the support of Oatly oat milk and Earth Balance butter.

As the packets of powder are opened, the judges seem to be signaling an initial preference for the smell of the Modern Table competitors. Team Annie seems to have elicited a rather strange reaction from some of the judges -- hopefully her smell isn't too overpowering.

As the mac and cheese comes together, all competitors appear to have a similar consistency. Everyone is creamy, with an even texture. No graininess to be seen. Things are looking promising for all entrants. 

Now for the final taste tests. Let's turn the mic over to our judges.

Annie's - Organic Vegan Mac with "Creamy Sauce" 
While Annie's pulled ahead early because of her more refined cooking style, she fell later in the smell test and ultimately disappointed in the taste test. We were surprised that something with such a strange smell uncooked could lack much of any flavor when fully prepared. We give Annie's a 5/10.

Modern Table - Classic Cheddar Style
Classic Cheddar Style lost some points for it's rather strange cooking technique, but ultimately made a strong showing in terms of flavor and styling. There's no denying the importance of the classic orange mac and cheese for ultimate comfort and satisfaction. 9/10.

Modern Table - White Cheddar Style
While White Cheddar Style had a very similar showing to it's teammate, the white color and slightly less traditional flavor profile lost it a few more points. A solid effort and still satisfies. 8/10.

Modern Table - Southwest
Finally, the last Modern Table entrant made a bigger statement with it's flavor profile, and while we judges appreciated the variety, ultimately we do not believe the consumer would be looking for these flavors when craving the typical boxed mac and cheese. Good for a little fun, but not when you need mac and cheese the most. 7/10.

And there you have it! Modern Table stacks the podium! Better luck next time Annie's -- you might want a new training approach the compete with this new breed of competitor.  

Black Lives Matter.

Thursday, June 18, 2020
In 2014 my entire family and a friend from college drove packed together in a car from Lincoln to Chicago. The Ferguson protests were happening at the time. For the entirety of the 8 hour drive we talked about race.

Our group, comprised of six college-educated, liberal, well-off people, still managed to all have very different perspectives and experiences. Some of us were extremely outspoken and outraged despite having never been directly affected by racism, some were a little more quiet and apolitical but open. Some empathized with both the Black Lives Matter movement and the legal/government workers, excluding the officer that murdered Michael Brown, having had good relationships with the legal system themselves, while others listed off the rules their mothers had for them when they went out in public to avoid being unjustly targeted.

That was six years ago.

Over the last few weeks, we've been having the same conversations again. Our perspectives have all evolved. Everyone is louder now. The emotions more adamant, the ideas more radical. Even those that had previously been hesitant to make blanket statements about the police are starting to see that perhaps the political correctness of a more moderate reprimand directed only the officers and the jurisdictions in question is not enough.

While it's extraordinary frustrating that the same conversations we had years ago are still being held today and little having changed, I am reminded of how important it is to have these conversations frequently, and over time. With people you disagree with. With people that don't necessarily interact with people with different perspectives all that often. With people that live in heavily white, suburban, middle class areas. 

The system will not be fixed as it is today. The system must be overturned, thrown out, remade. 

People, however, aren't like that. They have to be challenged, made to see different perspectives, and made to feel and know the effects of systematic, institutionalized racism that they themselves don't experience. They need to finally see that the system of oppression does in fact exist. They need to develop empathy. Doing so happens over time and with great, persistent effort.

We all have internalized racism, no matter our backgrounds. Let's all begin and continue to do the work to unlearn and become true anti-racists. We have such a very long way to go together.





Don't forget to check out the Libby, Overdrive and Hoopla apps through your local library to see if you can checkout a copy of the many great books about race that all seem to be sold out right now!

My favorites from the coronavirus internet landscape

Friday, May 22, 2020

Free barre (and HIIT, yoga, meditation, etc) classes daily on Instagram Live. Bonus: they post a selection of the weekly classes on IGTV as well so you can go back and do them again! I love Rod's barre classes.

@carolinehirons's skincare IG lives (or on YouTube if you prefer)
If you don't know Caroline Hirons yet and you like skincare, prepare yourself. So much knowledge. She's been doing daily lives for several of the weeks we've been in lockdown, and they're loosely themed but let's be real, it rarely stays on track. 

This photographer in Provence, France created one photo for each of the 60 days they were in lockdown. My favorites are day 21, 25, 40 and 55.

I love dance music and they've been organizing a lot of weekend livestreams that last all weekend long.

Not a coronavirus phenomenon per se but they've featured heavily in our quarantine. 

I love these two content creators, and their weekly chats are so fun to listen to each week. Funny, relaxing, like hanging out with two friends. They switch accounts each week, and have recently started saving them to their IGTV afterwards.

Slightly crazier, really chill. Somehow it's even better now that everyone's stuck at home?

The other site going around the internet wasn't working for me, but this one did! Made for a really fun Friday evening Zoom session with friends.

Notes from isolation: Week 10

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The amount of dishes remains unreal.

All this grey weather is making it a lot harder. When the sun was shining and it was warm enough to sit outside this all seemed a lot easier.  Also, exercising at home is hard, but when it's rainy and cold it's definitely not happening.

I still don't feel the need to see people though. Am I just broken in that sense?

As a person that doesn't normally worry about the 'point' of life, I've been doing that a lot more. Now that I don't have things to distract me, I have a lot more time to sit around and wonder what is actually meaningful in this world (hint: it's not capitalism), what my strengths actually are, what I like doing, etc.

Am I a soft summer or a soft autumn??

I can't bring myself to read books that don't feature a female protagonist. 🤷‍♀️

I've never baked more in my life.

What do you think businesses will do with all their pandemic supplies when this is all over? Like the plastic screens, masks, gloves, even the signs they've made explaining how their business operates now. Do they keep that for future pandemics? Ugh.

I'm fed up with only consuming. I want to do something, but at the same time I don't have the motivation or attention span for anything. This middle ground is hard.

Watching other countries and states start to open back up when we haven't even peaked yet is scary. That world seems so far away from our current reality.

I've discovered a new love of having dance puzzle parties. Find your favorite dj's livestream, brew some tea and dance around while trying to finish that puzzle you've had going since January...


Orange

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
@shotfromthestreet #shotfromthetheme
theme - orange









Notes from isolation: Week 2

Saturday, March 28, 2020
It's amazing how many dishes you make when eating all your meals at home.

Dining room chairs from the 80's do not make good office chairs. Old French textbooks help raise your monitor to still-terrible-but-not-as-bad height.

Social media is a godsend. Most of my friendships were already long-distance and so I've always relied on social media and texting/chat to keep up with people, but now more than ever it's been nice to see what other people are up to.

Vlogs are my solace. I could watch people putter around at home for days.

I'm so lucky to work somewhere that's relatively stable, even when our industry (travel) is in shambles.

I feel rebellious going outside for walks.

Cooking is a lot less arduous when you have super simple meals.

My cats are annoying. And adorable and lovely.

No commute is amazing. Even if my commute is usually only about 7 minutes.

My house has never been tidier.

I should call my grandma more.

I certainly think I should do a lot more things than I actually want to do.

Reading is hard to do right now. My brain just can't concentrate, even though I'm normally quite a reader.