Winter Woodland Quiche

Sometimes, I absolutely adore cooking. Creating your own recipes tends to heighten the joy of the being in the kitchen. While I have never completely made up a recipe, I often customize other recipes, cutting them apart and adding a few pieces to another recipe. When I learn a new skill (such as roasting garlic) and succeed, I am over the moon!

I hope you enjoy this fancy-sounding quiche. Breathe your own life into this recipe and own it.
This is the most flavorful quiche EVER. Below you will learn how to caramelize onions and roast your own garlic and make a pie crust that doesn't require a rolling pin! I like to double this recipe so I can eat some for breakfast all week long, but I have to warn you that it is not nearly as good when reheated. Another option is to double the amount of roasted garlic and save the extra in your fridge – you can use it for just about anything.

Winter Woodland Quiche

1 head of garlic
Olive oil
(olive oil is of course much more flavorful AND better for you, but I didn’t have any when I made this, and I got away with using vegetable oil just fine)
2 yellow onions, sliced thin
2 T. butter

1 ½ c. flour
¼ t. salt
½ c. garlic-infused oil
3 T. milk

¾ c. milk, ½ & ½ , or heavy cream (the heavier the milk/cream, the fattier and more decadent your quiche will be; I opt for milk because it’s what I always have on hand)
4 eggs
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
Basil and/or parsley for color

1 c. grated cheddar cheese
Two handfuls of spinach, chopped
Any other toppings you prefer

First, you’ll need to roast the garlic and caramelize the onions – simultaneously, for the sake of time. Slice your onions. Break apart the head of garlic and peel the cloves. (I know a full head of garlic sounds like overkill, but roasting it mellows out the flavor quite a bit.) Place the garlic cloves in a small frying pan and just barely cover them with oil. Keep on medium heat until the oil is shimmering/hot. Then turn it way down and gently cook the cloves for about 30 min. You’ll know they are done when they are brown and very soft (a fork test works great).

While the garlic is roasting, melt the butter in a second pan, then add the onions. Cook on low heat for about as long as the garlic. Stir occasionally; you want to avoid burning the onions. They will slowly change color until they are a lovely shade of brown: caramelized.

Set aside the garlic and onions. Save the oil from the garlic!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a pie plate, sift together the flour and salt with a fork, then add the milk and garlic-infused oil (aka the oil you used when roasting the garlic). Stir with fork until mixed, then press into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Prick with the fork and bake for 10 min.

While the crust is baking, whisk together the milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and parsley. (You could even use a fork to whisk it together and have less dishes to wash!) Set aside.

As for the extras, you can literally use ANYTHING you want – sausage, mozzarella cheese, broccoli, peppers, you name it. For this one I used spinach, cheddar cheese, and the caramelized onions and roasted garlic we just made. I chose to chop the garlic before putting it in the quiche.

When crust is baked, pull it out of the oven and turn down the temperature to 375 degrees. Layer the extra ingredients (onions, garlic, spinach, and/or your choices) in the bottom of the crust, and top with cheese. 
Toppings, sans cheese, right before the egg mixture is poured on.
Pour the egg filling over it all. Return quiche to the oven and bake for 35 min.

You will know it’s done when the eggs are “set” and no longer jiggle when you shake the pan. The edges of the crust will be lightly browned. 

If you’re not certain, you can always make a small cut in the middle to see if there is any raw egg still visible. If it needs to cook longer and you are worried about the top being burnt, you can place a sheet of foil over the top for the rest of the cooking time, though I have never found this to be necessary.

The Life-Sucking Powers of the To-Do List

We've been keeping the heat a little low apparently...
This morning I woke up with a frosty chill creeping around the corners of the bedclothes. Ice crusted the window, and I had to stand on tippy toes to see over it to what I knew would be there: a fresh blanket of snow. My baby girl was restless but not fully awake yet; it was time to get moving before she did.

As I pulled on something warmer, my glance fell on all the undone things in my little house, and immediately I formed a mental "to-do" list. At the top of the list? "Write down to-do list" - so I don't forget anything, of course. This was closely followed by empty dishwasher, do dishes, tidy living room, clean up clothes + trash in the bedroom, make bed...The list grew incredibly fast. Then I started to think of all the things I wanted to do (like working out), and added them to the list. Because it won't get done if it's not on the list, right?

I stopped for a minute and thought about where all of this was headed. Already my day seemed long and repressive. No matter how productive I was today, I would never be able to conquer that list. Worse, I would feel guilty doing anything that was not on the list (taking a nap, playing peek-a-boo with my daughter, reading quietly for a few minutes).

Since I was a old enough to write, I would make lists. I know this because I have boxes of notebooks and loose papers at my childhood home full of these lists. They contain everything, from songs I wanted to listen to, Bible verses I wanted to memorize, things I wanted to be when I grew up. It was a compulsion. I couldn't stop making lists. Soon there were so many lists that I didn't have time to read the previous one before a new one had been made. I used to think the most amazing feeling was being able to cross an item off of my to-do list. I was wrong. The most amazing feeling ever is not having a to-do list at all.
It sounds counter-productive at first. Without a to-do list, aren't you stranded? What will happen to the feeling of accomplishment, the organization of your thoughts, the method to remembering what you have to do?

Nope. The list is not your organization ally; it is a cage. Step out of the list, and you're free.

I am a Master of lists. Every time I think of something to remember for later, I add it to a list. Tiny notepads and the notes on my phone are covered in these things that I need to do...later. I'll be walking around the house and see a lightbulb that needs changing. I whip out my phone and type change lightbulb. "There," I think. "Now my head is cleared and I don't have to worry about it." Except that I do have to worry about it, because making all these lists isn't clearing up my head for more important things. It's actually filling up the back of my mind with an impending cloud of doom. All of these lists are just hanging over my head. Now I have to remember to check all of my lists and I have to actually do the things on the list. And if I don't, I feel constant nagging pressure all the time.

So here is my solution: when you find something that needs doing, get it done immediately. You heard me. Get it done right now. Silence that nagging thought with action.

My normal routine lately has been to wake up right before it's time for the baby to wake, scramble around the house getting breakfast and pulling on socks, then tuck myself, my baby, and the breakfast into the couch and settle into Netflix while we eat. As I watch my favorite show, I'm already typing up the day's list. {Actually, I'm usually adding to yesterday's list of unfinished things and relabeling it for today. Yeah. Horrible.)

Within ten minutes, I am overwhelmed. All I can think about is the stuff I have to do that I don't want to do and it's all more than I can possibly get done, so why not watch another episode? Why not take a nap with the baby and leave the list for tomorrow - I'll get to it eventually?

But this morning, instead of drowning in my own lack of motivation, I dove into something before it even made it to the list! The baby slept for fifteen more minutes, and in those fifteen minutes I cleaned out the dishwasher and took care of the dishes in the sink. wiped the countertops, picked up a few misplaced items in the living room, and moved a small bookshelf into my closet (something that had been on my list for a few days).

Then I woke my baby and cuddled with her in a chair in the bedroom and started writing this blog post while she nursed - instead of falling prey to my de-motivator: that looming television.
We have a small apartment that is impossibly full of things. Day by day, I am whittling away at this forest of stuff.
It's going to take me a long time to break the list habit. And I know that this approach does not apply to everything. Some things, like paying rent, are time-sensitive and therefore must be written down to avoid forgetting them. But the things I need to do will get done in order of importance very naturally, without ever having to write them down. The things that I don't really care about will automatically fall to bottom of the list. And if something is big and pressing and important and I forget about it? It will keep showing up. It's not as though things disappear if I forget to write them down.

The first step to decluttering your house starts with your mind. Declutter a little portion of it today by mentally deleting your list. Start over. Do the thing that is right in front of you. And when you're done? It's okay to take a guilt-free break.

Shredding Our Parenting Image - One Climb At A Time

Red Rocks Open Space, the Quarry
"We are either the coolest parents, or the dumbest parents ever," I declare to my husband, as I'm jiggling the incompetent stroller over tree roots and small boulders, stopping every few seconds to lift it with my foot. 

I'm wearing a climbing harness, a baby carrier sans baby, and a large windbreaker. Clutching a half-frozen Larabar while maintaining my grip on the stroller. Laughing a little in embarrassment. I'm flushed and tired - but in the best way. I just finished my first climb in over a year.

Last Sunday, we decided to get our butts in gear and (attempt) rock climbing. For the first time in a little over a year, my hands and feet were scrabbling on rock and it felt good. Unnerving and difficult and slightly disappointing, but good.

We went to Red Rocks, where there was a light coating of snow on the trails, and everything was a bit wet and icy, and made our way to the Quarry. Also known as: The Worst Place To Take a Stroller.
Oh yes, we were those parents. AdventureDad sporting his Kelty backpack with all of our climbing gear, me pushing the stroller with the baby. My original thought was that most of Red Rocks has wide, easy-to-navigate-a-stroller trails, and I wanted to be able to leave her in something familiar like the carseat so that she would stay warm, calm, and hopefully be able to sleep while we climbed.

Good idea? Nope. Never take a stroller. Just don't. Want to be adventurous? Wear the baby, carry the baby, string up a hammock for the baby...but leave the freaking clumsy stroller in the car, because the only thing it is good for is the sidewalk.
I'm exaggerating here, but seriously. I felt like a dunce pushing and pulling and dragging that thing around. There were narrow paths, tree roots, rocks, and (drumroll) stairs. Which meant that we had to pop out the carseat + baby and then drag/carry the stroller separately.

I'm sure we were a comical sight.

I'm not exactly proud of the fact that the first and only climb I did was a sad low rating. However, I conquered it. And then I climbed it again, because I was mad that it had been so difficult for me the first time.
Obviously just practicing some yoga.
But we planned poorly. We left in the afternoon and climbed on the east-facing side of the rock, so we were cast in shadow from the get-go. This made everything colder. And as it got colder, we of course needed to worry more about the munchkin and ended up trying to belay each other while wearing her on our fronts. Not really an easy (or safe) way to handle things. However, Roxanne held up just fine. She was a bit clingy (probably the cold and unusually long time spent outdoors without being strapped to me). But overall, the trip was successful and amazingly fun.
Any tips for our further forays into climbing with a baby? Hiking with her is easy. Climbing is a bit trickier to figure out. 

I now understand why sometimes parents give up the things they love: doing things with a kid is hard. You move at a snail's pace. You have to pack 10x the amount of stuff than you normally would, because you have to prepare for a million and one scenarios. It takes you forever to get ready, and once you get there, there's a lot of time spent finagling all the stuff you brought into a manageable travel load.

Staying home is a cakewalk in comparison.
This weekend, we decided to make a second attempt. This time we got an earlier start, nixed the stroller, and headed to Garden of the Gods. But we got there too early this time. The day hadn't warmed up enough (it was in the 30s, though the forecast promised a mostly-sunny 50 later in the day). And the approach to the rock we had chosen was covered in snow. We decided that climbing was out.

Crestfallen and frustrated, we hiked around a little, carrying a peacefully sleeping Roxy. We had wasted the morning stressing about and preparing for something that wasn't even going to happen.
As we headed back to the car, more than a little dejected, we saw a small group of people that included a very pregnant woman. Of course she couldn't help but notice that we were carrying a baby around on this cold morning. As we passed them, we heard one of the guys say, "Hey, look at that, you can have a life with a baby."

I was blown away. This morning felt like a massive defeat to us - and yet our being there had given someone else a little hope. That "life after baby" could be more than diapers and sleepless nights. That parents are still people with dreams and goals.

Trying to go climbing? That's not for Roxy. That's for us. We do it to challenge each other. Make memories. Live a life that is startling, like a splash of mountain spring water in the face. To remind ourselves that we are alive. To shred the notion that parents have to fit into a box of preconceived notions.
A huge shout-out to AdventureDad for dealing with my stressed-out morning self, for allowing his climbing passion to be derailed by an emotional hot mess (aka me) and a drooly baby. We love him to death and couldn't be more happy to go on adventures with him - be they successes or utter failures.

Cabin in the Woods

Vacation, noun
1. freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
2. an act or instance of vacating.

What is it about our lives that makes us feel the need to escape the way we live? Why do we constantly want to vacate our homes and families and disappear into something else?
Our family members gave us the most adorable newborn hiking boots for Roxy.
I nearly died of cuteness overload when I saw them.
Of course our baby has the nicest looking shoes in the family...
My little family (bearded husband, rosy-cheeked baby, and tousle-haired me) headed out into the mountains this weekend. We have amazing friends that offered up to us their spacious cabin home while they are visiting family for the holidays. After months in an apartment, an actual house feels gloriously large.

There was a wood stove (the fire I'd been craving), hot chocolate, snuggles on big couches, sprawling on the living room floor just because I could (there was that much room), and the most lovely snow-covered trees outside the window.
I had been to this house many times before and we were less than two hours' drive from home. I still did very normal mom and wife things like dishes and diaper changes and middle of the night feedings. That doesn't exactly scream "vacation."

But it felt like one.

We went hiking in snow, surrounded by pungent pines and spruces, the freshest air imaginable filling up our lungs. Roxy slept most of the time, strapped to my chest. And when she woke up, we changed her diaper on top of a rock and I nursed her while we hiked again. I felt like the ultimate badass mom.
The Infantino Flip carrier is a fantastic hiking companion. I love using my wraps,
but this thing was way faster and easier to take on and off,
plus I can always hand her off to the husby if needed.
The entire time, I felt incredibly relaxed. Nothing really bothered me. Everything was warm and comfy and still. I came home trying to figure out why it was like a vacation for me. Why I didn't feel stressed, emotional, confused. Why each moment came and went and I dealt with it in that simple fashion.

I think part of it was my mindset. I set aside the whole weekend in my head as a time where I didn't "have" to do anything.

Another part was that I was removed from the internet (no cell service, no internet); my phone tends to keep my mind whirring, adding palpable background noise to my life. You don't notice how loud it is till it's gone. 
But the biggest reason I could relax? I felt that I had escaped. Time, stress, decisions, money, to-do lists...none of these things existed for me. Being in the woods tends to have that effect.

We watched movies. We hung out with our baby girl, who is honestly super low-maintenance right now. Her favorite part of the weekend was definitely laying on the floor, smiling and cooing at the ceiling fan. Does it get much cuter than that? We made pasta and biscuits and coffee, ate a chocolate cake right out of the pan. I read, he played gameboy.

It was impossible not to be giddy, not to feel drunk on the idea that we were just having fun and nothing else mattered. We talked about a million things, and yet also were content to enjoy the silences.

Does your life feel a bit tangled up in a quicksand of stress and noise and never having enough time? Does it make you want to vacate everything that boxes you in? The solution to this is not finishing everything on your to-do list, believe it or not. The cure is something far simpler: take a vacation today - for ten minutes, or thirty. Turn off your phone and allow yourself to sit down and do nothing. Or do something you love, that isn't on your to-do list. Let yourself to breathe, release any stress that's tightening your muscles, and let God's peace have control again.

If we constantly feel as though we need to escape our lives, then something is wrong. Make your life something beautiful, peaceful, joyful - an environment that you are happy to be alive in. If you can succeed in this, then you won't ever have to escape your life to find happiness again.

I do have a small confession to make. While I love taking, editing, and posting photos, I absolutely have no idea what I'm doing. It doesn't help that my camera is a phone I got for free that packs a whopping 5 mega-pixels, and my editing software happens to me my Instagram app. Any tips for how I can (economically) get in to photography? I have a Canon PowerShot but I'm not sure how to get the best photos out of it, so I never use it...

Motherhood Is

There have been many moments where I simply don't want to be a mom anymore. Moments where I am horrified by the fact that I have become that mom. Moments of utter weakness when I want to whisper, "Don't go," as my husband leaves for work in the morning. Moments of complete selfishness when I feel like I just want a break and I get upset because I can't have one. Moments where I am so down and close to tears that the only thing that helps is trying to see my situation in a humorous light.

Last Wednesday night, I was done. Roxy has been crying and screaming a lot, which isn't like her at all, and it had sort of built up in my head till I couldn't think straight. I just wanted to get out of the house. I didn't care if she came with me, but I needed out.

My husband, being the incredible man that he is, told me to leave for three hours. I protested that that was too long (he was at work all day, how could I ask this of him?) but all he did was pick out my outfit and shove me out the door. Gosh, I cannot get over this man.

So I left. I only drove five minutes away. I sat in a restaurant with a plate of chicken and waffles and I read a book. All alone, with the hood of my hoodie pulled up over my head. At dinnertime, with large families seated all around me. I'm sure that they all thought I was a wackjob. Then I watched the movie Bad Moms.

As I sat there, alone, breathing deep, letting my thoughts wander peacefully, I realized something. Every day being home alone as a mom, I have at least one moment where I simply want to get away and be without the baby. But every single time I am away from my little family, they are all I can think about. I miss them tangibly - miss their smiles and the way their warm bodies feel cuddled next to mine. I feel shaky and stressed because I am not there to take care of them. I am constantly on the verge of running, driving off as fast as I can, dashing up the stairs, and bursting into our apartment, breathless, because I need to see their faces.

Getting away that night reminded me that while having a break can be good, it isn't something I need all the time. It isn't even something I truly want. I am a mom now (that definition changes every day) and even though I think I don't know how to be one, I am one already.

Motherhood is many little things that tend to add up in a negative way - dirty diapers, rushed lunches, never getting enough sleep. But there are moments that stand out that make being a mom something to be treasured, laughed at, and celebrated. Come laugh with me at these moments of my motherhood that are pathetic, witty, and just plain exasperating.

Motherhood is eating a pb & j at three in the morning in a dark kitchen, praying that the baby you just laid down is going to stay asleep.

Motherhood is hating your boobs because even though they are big and sexy, all they do is ache and leak all over the place, like an unwanted runny nose.

Motherhood is being afraid to reach into the crease of the couch, knowing that it is full of the remnants of the hundreds of mini meals you've stuffed in your face with one hand while nursing her with the other.

Motherhood is
feeling guilty when you're alone away from your baby.

Motherhood is pretending to be young and carefree while shopping in the juniors' department at Kohl's. And then spilling Dr. Pepper all over the dressing room because you forgot you were carrying it.

Motherhood is promising yourself that tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow you won't have a meltdown. Tomorrow you won't become irrationally angry if the baby refuses to nap. Tomorrow you will take care of your husband instead of begging him to take care of you.

Motherhood is watching your baby fart and then grin about it, and you immediately tell her that this means she's just like her dad.

Motherhood is trying to rock your baby to sleep and realizing that you're putting yourself to sleep instead of her.

Motherhood is stepping outside for a minute to breathe and notice that there are other things in the world besides your screaming baby.

Motherhood is going to Burger King and the grocery store as a family and feeling like it's date night because how often do you really get out of the house with your husband?

Motherhood is the phrase, "I just want to sleep," running through your head on a continuous loop, until all of a sudden reality nudges you and says, "Sometimes, it doesn't matter what you want."

Motherhood is realizing how your own parents sacrificed everything for you. And there is no way you could ever pay them back (except by letting them get lots of grandchildren snuggles, of course).

Motherhood is having the best sense of style. Plaid flannel with floral pants. A nursing nightgown over baggy sweatpants that belong to your husband. Slippers while out running errands. A shirt that the baby has been drooling on all day. Yes, of course I wore these things, and forgot to change because I hadn't showered yet, so what was the point of clean clothes?

Motherhood is peeking in at the supposed sleeping baby, only to jump three feet in the air when you notice that she is staring through the slats of the crib right at you.

Comment and share your own moments of motherhood so that you, too, can see them in a different light; not as bad days or mistakes or dumb things that happen when you're a mom, but as memories that you're making. 

loving the home you have

A new month should come with a fresh start - so why not a new challenge? I know I'm a week behind, but having a newborn with napping issues doesn't lend itself to being on top of the changing seasons.

Since I am an avid reader, people are always giving me books. Which of course I don't mind at all. But it does take me awhile to wade through them - especially when most of them are non-fiction (please someone send me some stories). I recently picked up this one and got so excited about it that I have to share:

This book (and I am only just diving in) takes you on a journey to learning to love the place you live in right now by making it into the home you want it to be. We all love imagining our perfect place to live; my husband and I love to talk about the things we want in our dream house when, you know, we become millionaires. The plans involve a climbing wall to an upstairs loft and a ginormous kitchen.

But the point is, no matter where you live right now, you can make it into something that you want to come home to. A place where you love creating memories. Because, duh, this is where you live. Don't wait till you get the house you want. Start now - whether you have your own apartment, you live with your parents, or you have a home of your own that's still in the works.


I am going to spend 31 days following the challenges in the back of the book. I'll be posting about them on Instagram (every day) and sharing each challenge with you so that you can follow along if you like.

To get us started, choose one of the following mini tasks for inspiration:
#1 List three reasons you're grateful for the home you have.
#2 Start a special tradition or create a fun memory in your home.
#3 Think of one area of your home you enjoy.

Be sure to comment which mini task you chose and why, so we can start this challenge together! Here's mine, #1:
  • Location. We may not be in the greatest neighborhood, but I feel safe where we are. This is huge when I'm toting around my baby. We are also within twenty minutes of just about everything in town, there's a library two minutes away, and I am near several hiking spots. Oh, and I can see the mountains when I walk out my door.
  • Ownership. We don't own it, of course. Still I like to think of it as ours. We don't have to live with someone else or depend on rent money coming from somewhere else. We are on our own. So so many people have helped us in a million ways, but I can't help but be thankful that we are able to simply have a place to live right now on our own.
  • Little things. Our apartment feels so small to me. But the truth is, it isn't bad at all. There are wood floors which I love. We have a walk-in closet in the bedroom. There is somehow room for our bed and Roxy's crib in the bedroom. The kitchen is basically a hallway, but next to it is this great closet/pantry shelf thing that makes all the difference. I am able to find room to do yoga, the shower has strong water pressure, I get to take baths, there is a big window in the living space...when you're looking, it's easy to find things that are positive.
I know someday I am going to look back on our "cute first apartment" with all its crappy furniture, creaky doors, and gummed-up cabinets and miss the fun times we had in it. Despite the claustrophobia that settles in around me like a dust blanket when I'm in our home too much, I know that this is a special place. One already full to the brim with memories...

The first meal I cooked for AdventureDad, and the first time he got to say, "Honey, I'm home!"

The night we made chocolate cake and pizza (from scratch, of course) and ended up with flour everywhere - including my eyes.

The afternoon we carried our new baby girl, Roxy, over the threshold, exhaustion and a strange sense of calm permeating the air.

Roxy's first smile.

Purging our stuff together while we tell each other stories about each item (old climbing gear, diy tees, random eBay purchases, that thing we've had for years and refuse to ditch, my baby blanket from home that is Roxy's now, the collection of pocket knives stashed in the closet...).

The fights we've had. Tears, laughter, shame, sin, forgiveness, learning to much learning and growing has happened.

And the truth is, my thoughts towards our home play a pivotal role in how we live. I have been focused on first my pregnancy, then our new baby, and I've taken it upon myself to assume that this apartment is so temporary I need not worry about it being a true home at all.

We could be here for two more months. or we could be here for two more years. God knows.

I'm so excited to challenge myself to look at my home differently. Not in pursuit of perfection or Pinterest-worthy decor, but for the sake of my personal contentment. I will be where I am right now. And when things change, I will let it go.

See you tomorrow on Instagram (@grownup_adventure_girl) for day one of the challenge! If you're not on Instagram, I'm hoping to do a recap of the challenge here on the blog; either halfway through and/or at the end of the challenge. Hope you feel inspired to join me!

The Start of Something New: Roxy's Birth Story

I've been adding to this post since I had my little munchkin seven weeks ago (time is flying!). Roxy is loves to be awake during the day - pretty sure her naptime motto lately is, "Sleep is for the weak." (She does sleep quite good at night though, so I can't complain.) Her smiles light up my days. She is doing a killer job during tummy time; not surprising considering she was trying to hold her head up on day two. She is a tiny, high energy being who must have my metabolism because she is still wearing newborn clothes! But on to the real reason for this post.

What's crazy about our bodies is that God designed them to get through insane difficulties and then only remember the good parts. Things are already starting to blur. For instance, I remember that things were painful in the birth process, but I can't remember the actual sensations of pain. All I have left are the highlights - things I can look back on and smile at the memory. So it's a dang good thing I wrote most of these details down in the first week or two after birth.

The general consensus about adulthood is that nothing can really prepare you for anything in life. No matter how much you plan and discuss and research, you are never actually ready for the next step. Even if you feel like you are.

The labor and delivery of my baby girl were like that for me.

Let me start off by saying I originally wanted a water birth, possibly even a completely natural home birth. It sounded beautiful to me. Was I crazy? No, not at all. A little naive, sure; my husband and I soon realized that we were not ready for a home birth - especially not one that took place in our teeny apartment. Then it turned out that water births aren't allowed in the hospitals here in Colorado Springs. Go figure.

As I got more pregnant and read more books, blog posts, and pinterest lists than I can even remember now, I began to see that maybe leaving things up to the doctor and the hospital crew would be a kind of relief. I was doing so much naturally on my own. And I could keep things natural in the hospital as well.

Little did I know just how appreciative of the hospital and staff I would be.

I knew, of course, that truly anything can happen during labor and I couldn't be adequately prepared for how my body would react. But I made a birth plan, informed my two helpers (my husband Josh and my amazing mom-friend Tammy, who has five beautiful children, all birthed by c-section), and went into that hospital armed with my decisions. You can read my birth plan here.

My due date, September 10, came and went without event. Josh and I did random things that weekend - ate some spicy Thai food, relaxed together, played video games, and finished it Sunday night with a hike. Actually, it was more of a scramble on some rocks, which maybe a nine-months-and-counting pregnant woman shouldn't do. But it felt amazing to pretend that I was not pregnant and just play outdoors with my husband.
My husband took some fantastic photos of me and it made me incredibly happy
On the drive home in the dark, I kept feeling like the baby was tightening into a ball inside of me. It was only later that I realized those were preliminary contractions. But the previous Braxton-Hicks I had felt were more of a tightening in the lower muscles, and these were different, so I thought nothing of them. I was exhausted and we went to bed.

My husband is convinced that our rock-wandering hike is what induced labor and he feels very proud of himself for taking me there. I can't help but agree.

Monday morning I woke with Josh to send him off to work, then crawled back into bed...I felt a slight urge to pee, but that was a constant for me at that point anyway, so I ignored it and fell asleep...only to be woken by a hot trickling at 7:30am. I ran to the bathroom and began texting the women in my life, asking if this was it. Had my water just broke?

There was no huge gush and honestly I didn't even get the bed wet. It soon became apparent, however, that this trickle of fluid was not planning on letting up.

I immediately became flooded with some good ole' adrenaline. I jerked around the apartment, adding last minute things to the hospital bag, calling people and asking what I should do (duh, go to the hospital), and trying to figure out if I had time to eat breakfast first.

There then followed the most hilarious of car rides that ever took place. I was chattering aloud - both to remind myself that this was real, and also to try to calm myself. I was simultaneously stuffing my face with donuts, singing with the radio, and fielding calls from my family members. Oh, and seriously hoping that the fluids that kept gushing out of me weren't going to soak through my clothes.

There was traffic. I was sugar-hyped. I took selfies.

The weird thing was, it all felt so urgent and of course Josh was on his way from work to meet me at the hospital so this was really happening...but I wasn't noticing any contractions. And when I got to the hospital, I had to check in, and then wait in a room for a nurse to check me (meanwhile laying in a hospital gown leaking profusely).

Me, waiting in the Triage room, alone and bored.
Very anticlimactic.

Josh arrived and after what seemed like ages they declared I was in labor (no kidding) and moved me into an actual room. Then Tammy came with her essential oils diffuser and her excited energy.

For the next few hours I excitedly tried to encourage my body in its labor efforts. I used some essential oils, walked on the balcony in the fresh air, squatted, and kept pumping my body with fluids. I was having contractions, but they were weak and irregular.

I was only 3cm dilated. I had been 2cm dilated for my past two OB/GYN check-ups, so this did not seem like progress.

The nurses continued to tell me that I wasn't progressing fast enough and they wanted to use some pitocin to get things going. This stressed me out, partly because I felt like they were initiating fear and I didn't want any of that. And partly because I knew I didn't want anything that would jumpstart labor and lead to a complication, such as a c-section. But I was confused as to how long I should refuse pitocin, because even I knew that things were moving slow. 

I was a bit upset that I couldn't be home during this "easier" part of labor. That I couldn't just soak in a tub (to prevent infections, no soaking allowed after your water breaks).

I continued to beg the nurse to wait on pitocin as things moved into the late afternoon. She said she would need to see progress on my contractions. So every time she hooked me to the monitors, Josh and Tammy would have me bounce on the birthing ball while they rubbed essential oils on my ankles to encourage contractions. I felt a little bit like a diva-princess.

At some point, the nurse told me that my Doctor suggested I try something a little weaker than pitocin: a pill called cytotec that they usually administer vaginally to soften the cervix (encourage dilation). I took my time deciding to take this, but in the end I knew that I was too tired to let this labor drag on. And I'm pretty sure that little pill did its job big time.

Contractions started becoming really painful around 7pm. You know, twelve hours after my water broke. I was exhausted. They told me my Doctor would come by around 9pm to check on me. I was stoked to see her and get some definitive information on why this baby was seriously not coming out of me yet!

I watched Little Women (the version with Winona Ryder). It made me happy and a bit calmer as the contractions started to rise to an unbearable level.

This is where timing starts to get a bit hazy in my memory. I remember that I started to having contractions that were two at a time; one big one, followed immediately by a slightly smaller one. I was realizing that pain was hard to deal with and I was scared to move, scared to get up to pee, scared to eat or drink because I was starting to feel nauseous. Scared of the next contraction.

It was at this point that it might have been helpful to dig into my hospital bag and pull out the props I'd brought (calming rain sounds, music, essential oils). Or perhaps try to move around the room a bit during contractions.

But I forgot everything I'd ever read about labor and was simply trying to survive. So I stayed in the hospital bed, gripping the hands of the my amazing support team.

I remember that for the last few hours of labor my legs involuntarily shook, causing tension other places in my body. Josh and Tammy literally had to hold my legs down for me to relax them.

There were times when I looked at Josh with the pain clearly written all over my face, and I could see the pain echoed back in his expression. I looked at him because I wanted him to be the one to give in and tell me to take some pain medication. If he would have told me to, I would have. But he never did.
Then there was the breathing problem. The more tired I got, the more scared I was that I wouldn't be able to do this. Fear makes you tense up. Fear makes the pain bigger in your head. Fear makes it harder to breathe. Each contraction I would start to freak out and lose my breath. Two things helped tremendously:
  1. Having Josh or Tammy touch me - put pressure on my lower back, grip my hand, touch my face...I just needed that physical assurance that I was not alone - and that there were things that existed outside of the pain.
  2. Having someone tell me to breath low. I probably sounded like a moaning cow, but keeping my voice low made me calmer and relaxed my muscles. Every time my voice got high or I held my breath, Tammy would whisper, "Breathe low." 
Because I was so focused on staying relaxed, I made it a point to exhale longer. Which meant that I almost wasn't inhaling at all. Suddenly I was feeling tingly in my right arm and my face - low on oxygen. They set up an oxygen mask for me and I absolutely DID NOT want that thing in my face. It smelled weird and it was gross hospital paraphernalia. But I was dizzy and suddenly the oxygen blowing in my face tasted sweet. Tammy held it up to my face in between contractions to help me catch my breath.

I also remember that I was checked three times during this final stage. The first time, I was 4cm dilated (four is an awful long way from ten, and it was going on sixteen hours of labor). The second time I was around 6cm. The last time she checked, I was 8cm. And I was feeling the urge to push.

I went from 4cm to 8cm to being ready to push in about an hour. Holy crap. 

I remember whispering a thank-you to the nurse, and Tammy saying under her breath (joking, of course), "I haven't heard a thank you in a while." Pretty sure I almost cracked a smile.

I vaguely remember the Little Women dvd menu playing its theme song over and over again as the contractions hit me wave after wave. I remember getting up to pee and all of a sudden telling Tammy to get the nurse now because I needed to push.

Then I was crawling back on the hospital bed and seeing the nurse on the phone. "Your doctor will be here in five minutes. Don't push."

Don't push? How do you not push when everything in your body is telling you to push and if you don't push then you might explode and ohmyfreakingword there's another contraction and it hurts like a mother (you can bet your butt that there were some profanities boiling in my brain). 

Then my doctor was there. Praise Jesus she actually did live only five minutes away.

She was calm. Efficient. Told me we'd wait a few more contractions to see how I was doing.

Doing? Um, I was trying to have a baby, that's what I was doing.
Two contractions passed while she observed me and prepared a whole lot of stuff that I was seriously hoping she wouldn't need. I mean, there was an entire cart of tools (instruments?).

Then they were transforming the lower part of my hospital bed. Stirrups appeared out of nowhere for my feet to rest on. The lower half of the bed dropped out. Josh, Tammy, and the nurses were instructed to support my legs.

I tried to focus on my doctor's face. This was it. She was telling me important details about how to push. I felt another contraction building and promptly forgot everything she had said two seconds before. Something about inhaling and pushing?

So I inhaled big, and then exhaled loudly as I pushed. The nurse immediately told me not to do that and I was confused. I was supposed to be pushing, right? Apparently she only meant that I shouldn't exhale. Holding your breath while you push allows your lung capacity to actually put more pressure on the uterus for you. Cool.

Tired out of my mind.
The pushing part comes naturally, by the way. Such a relief. After hours and hours of trying to be limp and nonexistent when the contractions hit you, you can finally DO SOMETHING. I was excited to push. Excited to be done. Tammy said I even smiled at her in between pushes.

So I pushed. It burned. I pushed more. Everyone was very vocally encouraging, but I couldn't see any progress and it hurt.

In between contractions, the doctor looked at the clock. It was about five minutes to midnight. "The baby's choosing what day she wants to be born," she said. Just come today, I thought. Come right now. I cannot do this anymore. 

The final pushes were the craziest thing for me. I could feel her move down the birth canal. And I swear she kicked and squirmed as she came out. Weirdest. Sensation. Ever. And I thought her kicking me inside the womb was crazy.

She arrived as Roxanne Rae Neuberger at 11:57pm, three minutes before midnight. She has since proven that she prefers being awake at night.

They laid her on my chest and I was crying and smiling and trying to breathe and felt totally incapable of holding her (but I cradled her anyways, of course).

Unfortunately, it was not quite over. There was still the placenta to deliver and a flurry of activity that I couldn't focus on. All I know is, there was a heck of a lot more going on than there should have been. My baby was here, she was here, I was done being in labor - the world should have stopped and just let me look at her.

She was tiny and yet huge all at once. She weighed 6lbs. 1oz. and was 19 in. long.

I had done it. Somehow, by the grace of God, I had made it through labor without any sort of pain medication whatsoever. Nothing had really interfered in the birth. We both came out on the other side healthy and strong.

Whew. That was a lot of intense details. I wanted to be thorough in letting you know about the things that happen during labor, though, because sometimes people gloss over everything - not necessarily on purpose, but because it's easy to forget. Once you're baby is in your arms and everyone else leaves the hospital room, the pain and process of arriving in that moment is forgotten.

You have a baby. A little life that you can touch and hear and see. A person that is completely dependent on you. 
We tried to sleep and eat and figure out our baby as much as possible while we were in the hospital. It was all very surreal.

Just knowing that I didn't have to clean up any of our messes or worry about food was enough for me to be eternally grateful to the hospital staff. I don't like hospitals or medical procedures, but they can be fantastic things to have around.

No birthing process is the same. No baby or mom is the same. The amazing thing is watching God bring about new life, no matter how that little one comes into the world. 

We had an amazing photographer (if you're in the Springs, definitely check her out!) come to the hospital on day two to take some "Fresh 48" photos of us and Roxy. Here's a sampling of them: