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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflection of 2013

So I wasn't going to write another blog until 2014, but as I reflected over the past year and the crazy roller coaster ride it's been, I realized I had another post I needed to write.

2013 by far has been the most amazing, terrifying, saddest, happiest, hardest year of my life. In the last twelve months I experienced some of the most intense emotions since my brother passed away fourteen years ago. Nothing prepared me for what I went through this year. Here are the top 13 highlights of 2013:

1. Childbirth. Magical, terrifying, beautiful, ugly. Something I never want to go through again yet I'm happy I did it.

2. Becoming a mom. I never envisioned myself being a mother because I've never viewed myself as the mothering type, yet here I am with a gorgeous baby girl who is about to turn 1 in a few weeks. She is the light of my universe and now that she's here, I can't imagine life without her.

3. My first real surgery. I've always been scared of going under the knife, but when the IUD perforated my uterus, I knew I had no choice. Happy to say, all went well.

4. Postpartum depression. Kicked. My. Ass. But guess what, I kicked his ass right back. Thank you mediation, yoga, swimming, supportive friends, and Zoloft for backing me up.

5. Learning the fine art of Balance. Working 40 hours a week, full-time mom, and trying to write has been a struggle. I might never be a professional juggler in circus, but I've got skill, baby.

6. Letting go of expectations. Motherhood is the best teacher in releasing control--not that I'm not in control of my life, but sometimes things just need to be allowed to play out. They don't always turn out the way I wanted them to, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

7. Accepting help. Another thing I've learned as I was thrown on the deep end of the motherhood whirlpool is I can't do everything alone. The whole saying "it takes a village..." yup, it really does.

8. Discovering my limits. Childbirth pushed my pain limit over the edge and postpartum depression shoved me down to the slimy bottom of the bog of ultimate suck, but by doing so I learned to set boundaries and take better care of myself so I can be the mother, wife, friend, daughter, and citizen of society that I want to be.

9. Passing my CTR exam. In my day job, I work in the cancer registry for a local hospital. I LOVE my job. This fall I took the Certified Tumor Registrar exam (4 hour test, by the way) and passed even though I was completely sleep deprived, didn't have much time to study, and I was going through another bout of depression. I don't know how it happened, but am glad I have that credential behind my name.

10. Watching my daughter grow. The best part of motherhood is seeing your offspring discover the world around them and learning how everything works.


11. Learning to write again. Pregnancy and motherhood did a number on my brain. In the last year and a half I have only written one novel (my YA mermaid fantasy) and started about 10 different stories, but never finished them. Any attempt to focus on one project was like trying to empty the Pacific ocean one teaspoon at a time. But I didn't give up and discovered I had something else inside me I never knew existed.

12. Starting a new blog. As I began exploring new ways to express myself through writing, I knew I needed to start a blog that focused on motherhood, pregnancy, and all things modern day women face today. http://urbangoddessrevealed.blogspot.com/

13. Completing my first nonfiction book. Last week I finished writing the last chapter of a memoir/self-help book about postpartum depression and ways I was able to kick it's ass. Urban Goddess Mama is about 20K words long and will be self-published sometime in February or March of 2014. I never thought I would write nonfiction, but when I started documenting my journey over the last year, I knew I couldn't keep this to myself. There are other mothers out there who struggle and if my story can help lessen their suffering, then putting myself out there is well worth the effort.

There you have it. Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book Review: Half-blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I just recently tweeted about staying up until 2 am reading Half-blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout. That's a huge thing these days especially since I became a new mom earlier this year. Reading into the night is not something I can afford in my already sleep-deprived state. So if a book has captured me so much I'm willing to sacrifice a perfect night when my daughter decided to sleep the whole time, is well, a pretty damn good book.

I purchased this novel about almost two years ago after I read Obsidian (The Lux Series) and bought everything out there at the time written by her. Half-blood is part of the Covenant series.  I first read Daimon, the prequel to Half-blood. But when I started on Half-blood, I simply couldn't get into it.

Fast forward major career change at day job, pregnancy, and childbirth to a couple of days ago when I was browsing through my Kindle and decided to read something I'd already purchased rather than buying. I gave Half-blood another try. I was doing pretty good getting through about a chapter a day while I pumped at day job. (Trust me, reading is the only way to get through pumping, my least favorite thing about motherhood.)

So last night after daughter went to sleep I decided I'd read a little until I got sleepy. At this point I was about 40% through the book. My eyelids were starting to get heavy. Yawning became more frequent and then I got to about 46% (the end of chapter 10). BAM! Wide awake.

Oh. My. Gods. I had to finish the book and it was all I could do NOT to log into the Kindle store to buy the rest of the series when I reached the end at 2 am. Curse you, Jennifer!

The book is like Vampire Academy meets Greek mythology spun together in a delicious web of romance, snarky banter, kick ass action, and brilliant imagination. Jennifer has a way of luring you into her world of demigods and trapping you there until you read the last line of the book, but then only to realize you've become an addict and need your next hit. Soon. So many twists, so many fantastic characters that burrow under your skin, making themselves a comfortable little nest. No wonder she became a NY Times bestselling author publishing mostly through indie press. And it's a really good thing she writes a lot and has multiple books coming out each year.

Thank goodness I have a whole week off starting Christmas. You know what I'll be doing. I admit it, I'm a J.L Armentrout junkie and now it's my mission to get as many converts. Here's the link to purchase Half-Blood. You're welcome and Merry Christmas.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005OCPT00/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

 See you all in 2014.

Cheers,
Melania

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some writer inspiration

A couple of weeks ago I had a down day where I did nothing. No house cleaning, no cooking, no writing, no working, no to anything that resembled the slightest bit like work. The whole day was devoted to reading, playing with my daughter (after she let me sit in my recliner and read for an hour- miracle of miracles- I know), and watching TEDtalks. I've been reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Memoirs aren't my usual literary drug of choice, but years ago I'd watched the movie and really liked it. When I saw the book on sale at Powell's, I didn't think twice about buying it.

Love the book and her style of writing. So bare. So honest. And I really liked her TEDtalks. So much so that I felt I needed to share it. What she speaks about can be applied to any creative endeavor and with all the struggles I've been experiencing with my writing, this video couldn't have come at a better time. Plus I could not not share this gem with you all.


Of course after watching this, I had to Google "Elizabeth Gilbert videos" and I came across this one which kicks ass. You'll have to go to Oprah's site to view it. I bookmarked both of these videos to watch when I get down about my writing.



http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Elizabeth-Gilbert-Talk-from-O-Magazines-10th-Anniversary-Video

The take home message, "just show up."

Enjoy!

~Melania



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Struggles and Challenges

I've been avoiding writing this blog post for months now, mainly because I don't want to sound whiny or ungrateful. But last night as I was falling asleep I realized I needed to share this. The whole point of starting this blogs over 3 (yes, that is correct, THREE years) ago was to share my experience and journey in pursuing the dream of becoming a published author.

Through the last 3 years, I've had my struggles and challenges, but none of them compare to what I'm going through now. If you recall in my last post, writing has taking the biggest hit since I became a mom. I didn't elaborate too much, but today is confession time.

My brain has completely left for vacation. What little brain cells I've left, I dedicate to my day job (it pays for daughter's school, new car, bills, and food on the table) and being somewhat present for my family. It's been a year now since I haven't slept a full 8 hours uninterrupted (the last three months of my pregnancy I got up at least 5 times a night to pee). After months of sleep deprivation depression sets in. I've been battling postpartum depression off and on since January. It's been survival every day for last 9 months and a human being can only live so long in that state before shutting down.

Lucky for me and my family I got help before it was too late, but motherhood has taken it's toll at a hefty price. I cannot focus for the life of me long enough to finish a story. When I lay at night thinking of what to write next, I get really good ideas and sometimes I actually get up and type them out so I don't forget, but that's where it ends. There seems to be zero energy or motivation for me to expand, develop, layer these nuggets of inspiration, let alone edit, revise, and fix the novels I have already completed.

When I have a moment, like right now, to work on a project, I either sit and stare at a blank document for five minutes before getting onto Facebook and blowing through all 5 lives on Candy Crush or  sit on my recliner and watch TV while drinking wine and stuffing my face with chocolate. Then I spend the next day when my daughter comes home from my folks' place feeling guilty for wasting a perfect opportunity to write.

To make matters worse, I haven't attended a RCRW meeting since April or even joined my writer friends for a meetup. I miss being around them so much. Every month I see their posts on Facebook or Twitter recapping the awesome meeting of that particular month and I try not to cry. I so wish I could be there and learn from these fantastic authors and writers who inspire me so much. But the monthly meeting falls on the Saturdays that hubby has to work and I don't have a sitter. 

*sigh*

What happened? I ask myself everyday. I used to love writing. I mean, I wrote my first novel while working full-time, going to school full-time, maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and running a part-time business. Why can't I balance motherhood, day job, and writing now? Why do I feel so lazy and unmotivated? Grrrrrrrr!

It will get better, I tell myself. It has too. I really want to be a published author. Especially in the Romance genre. I want to go to RT and sign books. I want to write stories that inspire, bring hope, and ignite passion in the reader's heart. I don't want fame, although I wouldn't object to fortune, but that's really not on the top of my priority list.

So there you have it. The raw, unattractive, revolting truth. No more secrets. It's out there in the open for the world to read and judge. Just don't throw any eggs or rotten tomatoes at me, please.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Vampires & babies

Hi,
It's me, Melania. Remember me? The girl that used to review books, blog about writing, and give away stuff. Yeah, it's really me still. Sort of.

This last year has turned my life upside down, side ways, and back down again. Having a baby will do that to ya. I expected things to be very different. You know, like bye-bye social life, going to the movies, happy hour after work, shopping trips, weekend getaways with hubby, and that sort of stuff. I knew my writing would change and I wouldn't have as much time like I used. But boy was I in for a surprise.

As far as social life, I didn't really have a riveting one to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I have AWESOME friends. And I still do stuff with them, it's just different now. I'll come over to a party, but instead of staying until 2 in the morning after 3 or 4 drinks, we leave at 9 after a 1/2 glass of wine.

Movies-nah. With the cost of theaters these days, I'm really not missing them. Amazon Prime, is where I get my movie fix. Although I'm going to make an effort to go see the new Thor movie and Catching Fire and Hobbit 2 on the big screen. 

Happy hour- nope. That one went away, not because I have to rush home to the baby, but more because I'm so exhausted I can't wait to come home and get baby in bed so I can join her in la-la land.

Shopping-oh no, that one hasn't changed. I now have a little shopping buddy which makes it even more delightful. Her favorite color is pink. Makes buying things easy.

Weekend getaways with hubby- we're still working on that one. Shouldn't be long. As I type this I'm home alone because my folks have taken little angel home with them for the 2nd night now in a week. Unfortunately hubby is at work, but I'm already planning with my mother when it would be okay for her to stay an entire weekend.

Which brings me to the fact I'm alone and actually blogging. *insert gasp* One of the biggest changes in my life since little angel arrived is my writing. It took a ginormous hit. And I didn't understand why or what it was until recently.

Normally when I'm writing or working on a story, I pretty much live and breath every detail the entire time. Sure when I'm at day job, I take a break and focus on that, but the rest of my free brain time I devote to the story. I dream about my characters at night and think about them first thing when I wake up.

Well, when I got pregnant last year, that changed. My focus was off. I could only write about 1000 words on a good day. When the baby arrived I didn't type a damn thing except for my birth story (which eventually turned into another blog) and an occasional poem or short baby story I could make up while trying to put her to sleep.

I tried to work on editing my vampire novel, but I just couldn't get into it. I didn't seem to have the brain capacity to even think about how I should fix the problems or make it better. Baby, baby, baby, and an random vampire were pretty much on my mind.

Then I realized what was happening. Vampires live at night. Vampires suck the life out of you. They charm you with heir magic and lure you deeper into their realm. Pretty soon it's they are all you can think about.

Hmm. Sounds suspiciously like my little angel. Keeps me up all hours of the night, breastfeeds like a fiend, charmer, and she's always on my mind. Damn.

Halloween 2013
 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm back!

Well, sort of. Just wanted to drop in and give you all an update. First of all, remember in my last post I mentioned a very important exam for day job? I'm proud to say I passed and am a certified tumor registrar. So happy to have that out of my hair.

As for writing. I've got three things going on. 1. A super secret project that is about 80% complete and when it's ready to publish, I'll share more. 2. Still editing/revising The Vampire Novelist. Actually I'm working on the second book, because I'm hoping it will help me with the first one, if that make any sense. 3. I'm dabbling a bit into children's books, the hardest challenge EVER. People who say writing a children's book is fluff, aught to be flogged. It's like flash fiction but worse. The less words you can use the better, but they can't been too fancy or over the top that a child can't understand either.

All in all I'm still trying to find a balance between motherhood, day job, and pursing my dream of being a published author. I haven't been blogging much here because I'm blogging more at my other site Urban Goddess Revealed these days as I want to share my experience as a mom.

Most of all I'm super excited about Fall, my favorite time of year. Of course I have to share a picture of my darling little pumpkin.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Taking a break & top summer YA reads

Hey gang,

I'm taking a breaking from this blog for a couple of months. I have a very important exam I need to study for in September which is taking up all my "extra" time. I know, I'm hardly ever on here anymore since the little princess showed up. But seriously, I NEED to pass this test to get the required certification for my day job. Any writing time, I would like to devote to my novel. However I do have some prewritten posts I'll be putting on my Goddess Revealed blog about pregnancy and motherhood in the next couple of months, should you be interested. And I pop onto twitter every now and then too.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and check out these new releases. Click on the titles to purchase.

Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike (book 1 in the new series by the ubber awesome Aprilynne Pike.)


Origin by Jennifer Armentrout (releases August 27 & book 4 in the kick ass  Lux series)

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr (This is actually an adult novel, but pretty much anything from Melissa Marr is a must read in my book.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm still here...mostly.

People of blogger nation, it's been almost 2 months since my last post. Yikes! Sorry about that. Since I became a mother last January, my life has been thrown into a tailspin straight into the pit of everlasting chaos. But I have been writing, not as much as I'd like to, but I'm still at it.

My focus has changed, though. Prior to baby I was all over the place, writing this type of story or that, trying to get published. Last month I had a little run in with one of my critique partners. She pointed a couple things I wasn't ready to hear, but they were so true. Ultimately, she did the best thing a CP could do- guide me in the right direction.

When I first started writing, I wanted to tell a story about a vampire and the mortal girl he chased over the centuries as she reincarnated into different lives. I rewrote their story of her second life 4 times, the third life 3 times, and dabbled a little in their first life together before he became immortal. It's a love story, but not the traditional type you see published. I've submitted versions of this story multiple times and got rejected. The common theme was, "we don't know what type of novel this is and wouldn't be able to market it."

So I got discouraged and then would try to write something else. I splashed around with mermaids and Atlantis. "Too high fantasy" was the excuse I got from editors and agents that represented the high fantasy genre.

I even wrote an adult contemporary romance that I loved and got many requests for but didn't send. Mostly because it needs serious editing and I don't know if I have the stomach to do it. Why? *sigh* It's a great story, but not really representative of what I want to write. Sure, I want to get published, but if that is my first story out, then the expectation is that I write more of them and I'm not sure I have that in me. Contemporary romance, both adult or YA, is really not what I want to produce. Give me magic and supernatural creatures any day!!!

My dear CP said I needed to focus and stop being all over the place. At first I wanted was like, "yes you're right." Then the next day I woke up and growled "How dare she tell me what to write!" I shot her off an email. Her response a couple of days later was, "This is the story I enjoyed reading from you, but you stopped sending me stuff and changed to something else." (I paraphrase.) The story she referred to was The Vampire Novelist. Yes, my baby. After I cooled off, I realized she spoke the truth. TVN is reflective of me. It's my soul in that book.

I made my decision then. Stop trying to get published and write the book that I want out there. So what if NY doesn't know where to put it on the shelf. In the world of self-publishing, I don't have to rely on them to get my book out to the readers. Stop trying to make it fit into a category. I added so many characters and scenes so it would fit urban fantasy or romance. I even lowered my heroine's age so she could YA. But I don't need to worry about that anymore. I just need to worry about writing the best story possible.

For the last month, I've focused on revising my baby and applying all the wonderful things I've learned in the last few years. When I have it the way I want, then I'll start looking to publish it whether traditional or indie. It's been a very slow process because I have an almost 6 month old and I've started working full time again at day job. To add to the madness I've been compiling a collection of tips and solutions for new moms that I've found helpful along the journey as a mom. I even started a blog yesterday to post some of these things. Some things I've learned the hard way, others from friends and other moms. Regardless, I feel that I should share these things because someone out there could use the information and possibly save her sanity.

Here's link to my new blog. I'll try to post more often (at least more than once every couple of months) here too, but I'm not going to make any promises. Mommyhood is my priority right now. Speaking of that, I'll leave you with this adorable pic from 4th of July.

You're welcome.

Cheers,
M






Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dabbling

I can't believe I'm blogging twice in one week! That hasn't happened since, well, last time I had a contest I think. But I had to give you an update on my writerly "stuff."

If you remember last month I mention I was working a project that I couldn't give too many details about. That particular book is still in progress and going great, but I had another little project I didn't mention.

About a month and 1/2 ago my daughter went through a growth spurt and the only thing that calmed her was me carrying her through the house against my shoulder while I sang to her. Of course, most of these songs were off key and the lines didn't rhyme, but those details didn't matter to her. She loved it. Eventually I came up with a little poem that I named Elly's Lullaby. I sang/spoke it to her over and over again until she finally fell asleep. When I laid her down I jotted down the words because wanted to remember it. As I did so I saw them in a colorful picture book.

Well, folks, today I put that idea out there and queried 3 agencies (Bent, Writer's House, and Dystel & Goderic). Been thinking of dabbling in children's books for a while now and today I made that big step. I plan on querying some more but my daughter woke up from her nap and she needs some mommy time. Keeping fingers crossed! 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My 1st Mother's Day

Today was my very first Mother's Day and let me tell you it felt weird. After 33 years of wishing my own mother a happy day it was strange hearing her return the greeting this morning when I stopped to see her. Last night my cousin and her two kids came over and brought me a huge bouquet of flowers. I laughed when the kids wished me a Happy Mother's Day. "Me? A Mom?" On what crazy planet would that happen? Then my daughter cried and I rushed to pick her up. Oh, yeah. That.

This morning hubby brought me a gorgeous azalea plant and a card from baby. I loved the card so much I HAD to take pictures and share.

Is that not the cutest card EVER?! Love the pitch fork in the "Your" and the pointy tail in the second "angel." So creative. I had a fabulous day. Had lunch with my mom, talked to my grandmother in Romania, and got to see my new nephew in Texas via Skype. I even bought myself a new workout outfit. (I always wondered why I used to see moms in athletic clothing out and about. I now understand. Motherhood IS a workout.) When I got home, Elly and I hung out on our cover patio while it sprinkled outside and enjoyed the smell of fresh rain and the new blossoming honeysuckle.
That's her and her new The Very Hungry Caterpillar book by Eric Carle. She's already a book worm and that's the best gift this mama can ask for. If you are ever looking a gift to give a baby, this book is a winner. Happy Mother's day to all you fabulous mamas out there.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Parenting & Writing

It's been far too long since I've blogged. Please don't throw tomatoes at me. *ducks* Being a new mama is really a good excuse. And since I'm talking about that here's a picture of my little Boo-ma-Goo, as I so endearingly call her, and her "I need boob now" face.

Parenting is hard. If kids weren't so darn cute, the human race would never survive. But parenting also has it's joys like when your kid does this.
Yeah, that's when you think, "awe, she's so cute and such an angel" and you have a sudden case of amnesia forgetting the fact you have had zero sleep that night because she screamed at you every 15 minutes. Amazing how that happens.

In the last post I shared my birth story. We had a rough start and once I came home the bumps didn't stop. We went through thrush (both me & baby), postpartum depression, minor surgery (me), and a long road to healing. In fact I'm still healing my body and it's been 2 1/2 months since I had her. Add to that lack of sleep. To say my life has changed would be the understatement of the year.

Before baby my priorities ranked as such:

Hubby
Me
Day Job
Writing (1-2K words/day)

Post-baby:

Baby
Baby
Baby
Baby
Hubby
Me

Writing (Will be replaced by Day Job once I return from Maternity Leave at the end of May)

So what do I have to show for my writing? Not much but you can see why. It really sucks because while I'm holding my baby, nursing, or rocking her to sleep, I have millions of ideas, smart dialogue, and fun scenes to add to the different projects I've completed or started, yet when I do have a free moment, I'm either eating something fast to keep my energy going, doing endless loads of laundry, cleaning, or paying some bills. Or worse when I do get a chance to jot down these thoughts and my postpartum brain reboots, erasing everything I was thinking about moments before.

 With that being said, I have been writing a little almost daily. Some days, it's 1k words (that's a really good day) others only 200 yet I've managed to keep it going. The key is to keep writing everyday.

I'm also working on a new project that is completely different than anything I've ever written and is something I never imagined I would want to write. Last month I attended a Donald Maass workshop that my local RWA chapter put on (thank you hubby for watching Boo). One of the exercise prompts he had us do was to write down what is the one thing you are too scared to write about or never want to go there. I wrote this particular theme down and shuttered. Not that I had a problem with it, but I just didn't know where to go or what to do with it so it frightened me. Two weeks later I was watching an episode of One Tree Hill on netflix and it hit me right in the face. Every cell of my body screamed, demanding that I needed to write this story.

I can't give you details or tell you what it is because I'm not ready to let anyone into this world just yet, but I'll say this much:
  • I'm having to dig deep
  • Very emotional
  • A part of my past I'd never thought I would write about is coming up
  • It's contemporary
  • It deals with a very contraversial subject
  • And it's going to piss off a few people
  • But hopefully open a some minds up and maybe help someone going through this
 At the rate I'm writing it will take me the rest of year before I finish, but the story is one that cannot be rushed. I'm thinking about each chapter thoroughly before I start writing it. And you know what? I don't mind taking my time, even though I prefer to crank the words out. I want it to be good and I want it to sell because I really REALLY believe in this story.

So that's pretty much what's happening in my world. Happy Spring to everyone and I promise to blog a more often.
xoxo,
Melania


Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Birth Story

Hello my dear readers,

The last month and a half has been a total blur. I can't believe it's March already! Well, as promised here is my birth story. It's long. (You have been warned). It's not edited because I don't have a lot of time these days for editing and I suck at it (probably explains why I'm not published yet). And it's not PG. There are gory details about birth here because I feel it necessary to share the raw experience the way it happened. So without further ado here we go:



My birth story starts back on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. All week I’d been eating like a proper piggy. One day I actually went to the cafeteria at day job FIVE times and bought full meals because I was so hungry. Well, that Friday at 3am, I took a pregnancy test and for the first time in my life of peeing on the “stick”, it came out positive.
I’d always known when the time came to have a baby, I’d want a natural birth either at home or a birthing center. I’d watched The Business of Being Born. I knew I was a healthy person and didn’t need to be in the hospital. So when I found out I was pregnant it seemed natural for me to pick a midwife and birthing center. I went with a local midwifery center, which came highly recommended by a personal friend and other acquaintances. Over the nine months of pregnancy I received top notch care from the nurse practitioner midwife I had chosen and the two assistants. I was so happy that all my ultrasounds and labs throughout the pregnancy were normal. This only validated my decision to have my little girl at the center rather than the hospital.
In December I took a Birthing From Within childbirth class and really enjoyed it. I learned that I can cope with pain pretty good as we had to hold ice in our hands while practicing the breathing techniques taught in the class. I even bought the book that goes with the class and found it very insightful. In my head I had this vision of me laboring in the water at the center completely in my birthing land haven. I’d swam most of the pregnancy regularly and even wrote a mermaid YA novel over the summer, so it seemed appropriate for my daughter to be born in the water. Yeah, I was going to be the ultimate Zen water goddess mama.
The last trimester flew by like a torpedo with the holidays and getting everything ready for the baby to come the first week in February. My pelvis had been hurting bad and I’d been going to see the chiropractor regularly for adjustment, but the treatment on Friday the 18th of January didn’t seem to do me much good. My midwife was gone for a long weekend, but I wasn’t worried because this was my first baby and they ALWAYS come late. (Huh, huh, huh) Saturday I had my last prenatal massage. Sunday the 20th I had an infant CPR/ first aid class. Before the class I went for a good long swim. I swam longer than I normally do and it felt great. I stopped by the store and bought some last minute items “just in case.”
Sunday night I felt like needed to get some stuff done. I finished up a book review and did some other chores. Monday morning at 3am I turned in bed and realized I was going to pee my pants, but not really. I rushed to the bathroom just in time to feel the gush of water pouring out of me and it wasn’t my urinary organs at work. My first thought: “Oh shit, my midwife is out of town.” Second: “Is it okay to text the assistants at 3am in the morning to tell them my water broke?” Yanno, I don’t want to be rude.
My husband happened to be home this particular morning and he said “you’re paying them good money, you can text them whenever.” I followed his advice.
One of the assistants called me back and told me to stay home. I texted my boss and told her I’d be working from home. She was very understanding. I worked for 4 hours mainly trying to wrap up some loose ends “just in case” this was my last time working before maternity leave.  Hubby finally installed the car seat that my folks had bought me and had been sitting in my living room since November.
Around 9 am the other assistant came over and checked me. She said it could take hours before my labor would begin, but suggested I rest and take it easy. I took the remainder of the day off and lay down for a nap next to hubby who had gone back to sleep since he works nights. Around 11:30 I came to and released I’d started contractions. They felt like really bad menstrual cramps which I was used to after battling endometriosis in my early twenties. I thought, “this isn’t too bad. I can handle this.” The contractions became more regular and within the hour they started coming every 5-7 minutes and each one grew in intensity to the point I couldn’t lay in bed anymore. I got up and started doing some last minute stuff around the house and packed my birthing center bag. I texted the assistant and told her what was happening. She came over again.
When she knocked on my door I was having a contraction leaning on the yoga ball and couldn’t even move to open it for her. Yeah, that’s how intense they were.  Honestly, I don’t know what early labor is, because I went into active labor so quickly. The pain reached the point of unbearable and I got in the shower on my hand and knees. The hot water hitting my back seemed to take the edge off and let me breathe through the contractions.
Soon afterwards the assistant came in and said it was time to go to the birthing center. Yes! That meant I was close. We arrived in the early afternoon and they had filled the tub. I got in and relaxed into my labor. Water goddess, here I come. I let the water hold me, felt its warm embrace as I concentrated on opening my body to let the long awaited child through. Yet, soon thereafter I became cold as the water cooled. We added more hot, but soon realized that only cold water was available. Somehow they had run out of hot water for that particular room and tub. To make matters worse the room was cold too. I shivered as I got out and that only made the contractions worse. By this point I couldn’t take the pain and became very vocal with each one. Holy shit it hurt.
At some point the replacement midwife came in and introduced herself. She seemed pretty nice, but we didn’t connect, mostly because I was in agony. She checked me after a while and said I was almost dilated and could start pushing soon. It was dark outside, the fireplace was lit, the light turned down low, and it was time to get this baby out. Boy was I ready. I’d had enough of pain. She needed to come. The sooner the better.
I pushed for what seem like eternity, but it was more like an hour or so. When the midwife checked me, I was fully dilated but the baby hadn’t moved down. She suggested I walk around. I laughed. I could barely move it hurt and the drugs at the hospital started to sound really good. So for natural pain relief they then suggested I bounce on the yoga ball in the shower.
And so I did. There I was in this tiny shower on the ball. Hot water cascading down my body, warm steam enveloping me, and I was surrounded in my element. I drew strength from each droplet. The heat eased my pain and I entered laborland alone, but fully empowered. I felt like a goddess on her throne at last focusing my energy on pushing and opening rather than the pain of childbirth. Those 45 minutes I labored were exactly what I envisioned as what my labor would be.
Unfortunately, when I came out and the midwife checked me the baby still hadn’t moved down and she needed to turn her body too. The pain returned with a vengeance. They tried different techniques to get her to turn, but the only thing that happened was more pain. At this point I realized it could be hours before this baby came and I had run out of steam. I was tired and had enough. I remember thinking this natural birthing thing is bull shit and pain relieving drugs sounded really good. The epidural at the hospital called my name and I answered.
Per my request, my husband loaded me up in the car and with the accompaniment of the assistants I was whisked to the hospital. Within minutes of arrival the physician came in and administered the epidural. It took another ten minutes before I started feeling the effects. All I know is that doctor was the hero of the night. If my legs weren’t suddenly numb I would have crawled out of my hospital bed and kissed him.
The midwife at the hospital let me sleep for three hours. Blessed rest, FINALLY. Oh, how my body and mind need it. About 3 in the morning she came back in and started the Pitocin, but only a very miniscule amount at first. She also put a catheter inside my uterus to measure the pressure of my contractions and adjust the dosage accordingly. I also had control of how much epidural medicine I received. I was pretty numb, but still could feel the pressure with each contraction. This allowed me to breathe through and focus on relaxing my pelvic muscles—a much better way to labor after the ordeal from the previous day. By 11 am it was time to push again.
To my amazement, they had me pushing in all sorts of positions. Hands and knees on the bed (the nurse and midwives held my knees and legs steady since I’d lost most of my control of the them), squatting (the foot of the bed dropped and they put a bar over the bed so I could pull myself over the edge and drop into a squat during a contraction), and others too. This I did not expect from a hospital birth. All the hospital births I’d witnessed the woman was strapped to the bed and her feet up in stirrups. That was the main reason I didn’t want a hospital birth, unless I had a condition that required medical attention.
After two hours of pushing the midwife said the baby was stuck behind the pelvic bone. It was over 24 hour since my water broke and they were concerned about infection. She called in the surgeon to discuss my other options. After everything I’d gone through I didn’t want a C-section. He offered me vacuum and forceps or the dreaded C.  I chose the vacuum. He explained to me that while there are risks, because she’d descended so low and just needed a little help turning her head and coming under the pelvic bone she was a good candidate for vacuum.
The room filled with medical staff: 3 NICU nursing team to resuscitate in case she stopped breathing, my nurse, the midwife, the two midwives assistants from the birthing center, the baby’s nurse, the surgeon, his assistant, and husband. Talk about a birthing “party.” There I lay on the bed propped up by pillows in all my naked glory. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about modesty anymore. I needed to get her out because I was tired and if I didn’t do it now, the scary C loomed over me like a greedy villain in a Disney animation. By golly, I wasn’t going there after all my hard work. At least not if there was a chance I could still have her vaginally.
Ready, set, go! I started to push again on the doctor’s cue. With each push he suctioned her head down a little more. With each contraction he coached me on where to push and for how long. I didn’t think I had any more strength in me left, but he encouraged me and somehow found the extra ounce of energy hidden in my pinky toe. Like an angel sent from the heavenly realms, he guided me through the last lap of this wild birthing journey. Four contractions and my baby girl was out. 
When I saw the slimy, bloody, little human laying on the table between my legs, my heart almost stopped. I spent most of my life never wanting kids. Sure I loved children, other people’s offspring, that is, but never felt the urge to procreate one of my own. All of my adult life I had spent avoiding getting pregnant. I also didn’t think I would ever marry either. I was pretty happy living my own life.
First night with mom.
Then I met my husband. Everything changed. I knew I could be a wife to him and bear his children within the first week we met. For someone independent as me, that is saying something about the awesomeness that is my partner, best friend, soul mate, lover, and spouse.
The nurse put my baby on my chest. I held her close and kissed her wet gooey little head with black hair. She was mine. All mine. I’d done it. I’d carried her for nine months, felt her kicks, talked to her, wondered what she’d look like, and now she was here in my arms. They took her away for a few moments to do her assessments and vitals, but brought her back. Skin to skin, she lay on my chest. One slow wiggle at a time she made her way to my breast and within 20 minutes she found my left nipple and latched on naturally.
While I was enjoying bonding with my daughter, the surgeon was busy sewing up my perineum. Apparently I had a 3rd degree tear. I didn’t feel it because of the epidural. I didn’t care, though because I’d avoided surgery and I had her vaginally. I owe that man a debt of gratitude for helping me bring my little angel into this world, even if she had a little cone head thing going on from the vacuum. 
Once the drugs wore off, I did care about my condition. I couldn’t sit, much less walk because of the stitches and my bruised tail bone. Baby’s head had done a good one on my pelvic area. It hurt like a mother you-know-what. Oh my, and trying to pee… let’s just say I started wondering what the hell I had been thinking and if a C-section might have been a better option. It hurt to pass gas and I started freaking out about actually pooping. The midwife put me on stool softeners. That helped. Ice packs and good ol’ narcotics helped too. Oh, and did I mention sore nipples. Yes, breastfeeding is amazing and really great for bonding and the baby’s health, but OH. MY. GOD. OUCH!!! It didn’t matter to me because I was determined I was going to breastfeed her even if hell freezes over.
Shortly after I had delivered my baby I spiked a fever. They put me and the baby on antibiotics. Day two, baby became jaundiced. She spent 12 hours under the bilirubin lights. The third day, when we should be going home, they check our blood work. I was okay, but baby’s white blood cell count had gone up. Good news was her immune system was working; bad news was we needed to stay for another two days so she could complete her antibiotic regime, even though the blood cultures came back negative. The physician said it was better to keep her two more days than to go home and becoming ill. A second hospitalization would be worse. I agreed with her.
So we were transferred to Randall’s Children’s Hospital. It felt silly having NICU nurses talking care of my baby just to have antibiotics when other babies where there with much more serious problems. At least they got one easy patient. However on Saturday, her IV became infiltrated and they needed to put in a new one. Hubby went home to get a few things and I didn’t have the courage to watch. They took her into another room. The whole time I felt like the worst mother not having the strength to be there for my baby, but I simply couldn’t watch unless they were ready to put one in me and give me a sedative. ½ hour later the nurse came in and said that they are going to get the IV specialist. Another ½ hour she said they couldn’t get it in and would be calling the care flight nurse because she was the best. Well, they couldn’t do it either. Finally the talked to the doctor to see what other options we had to administering the antibiotics. It turns out she only needed 3 more intramuscular shots and that’s it.
The nurse felt awful. I felt terrible when I saw all the band aids on my baby’s body. Well, if I learned anything from this experience is that she is one tough cookie and stubborn as a bull, kind of like her mama. :) During the whole birth, her heart rate stayed good and the five days afterward she took each challenge like a champ. On Sunday they tested her blood, everything was normal and they let us go home. 
Baby in her going home outfit.


Bringing home my baby was the best gift imaginable. We received the highest rated care possible in the hospital. All the nurses, the midwives, the lactation specialist and doctors rocked. I am so proud of Legacy and the care they provide to our community (especially since they are my employer). And if I’m every crazy enough to want to go through that again, I choose the midwives at Emanuel clinic because they are goddesses. But there is nothing like being home.
All in all my experience was perfect even if things didn’t turn out the way I had wanted. The fact of the matter is I’ve got a beautiful healthy baby girl tucked in the Moby wrap on my chest sleeping while I write this. That’s all that really matters in the end. 
Sleeping on mom's chest.

Now begins a new chapter of my life—the adventures of parenting.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Elly

My dear readers,

It gives me great pleasure to announce the birth of my baby girl, Elly. She was born January 22 after a long 28 hours of labor. We spent 5 days in the hospital and only got home yesterday. I will be taking some time off from blogging so I can focus on transitioning to motherhood.  Thank you for understanding. When things settle down, I'll post my crazy birth story. But for now here is a picture of the new love of my life.

Love,

 Melania


Sunday, January 20, 2013

3rd Sunday Sweet: Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike

Last fall, I experienced one of the greatest honors imaginable- having the privilage of being the first to reveal Aprilynne Pike's Life after Theft cover, share not one but two teasers (click on the links to view teasers), and ARC giveaway. This is a book that I've been dying to read since read about it on her blog years ago. As a thank you for hosting the cover reveal and giveaway, I got my very own ARC copy (which is like the coolest thing ever to read something that's not even out yet). After the madness of the holidays, I finally had the chance to sit down and read the book.

Here's the discription on Amazon:

Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto.

No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so--in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history--he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice.

Clash meets sass in this uproarious modern-day retelling of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Aprilynne Pike.

 So what did I think of the book?

Like the last sentence from Amazon said: Clash meets sass. The number one thing that really sticks out is the voice. It's in first person and male protagonist- 100% totally different than the voice in the Wings series (which I absolutely ADORE). It's edgy, witty, fresh, entertaining, and very appropriate to the characters. No wonder this is the book that got her on the publishing agent's radar.

The second thing I like about the story is that it's very realistic. She doesn't shy away from common issues that face teens today like drugs, alcohol, sex, or personal identity. Though they are addressed in a positive manner. The biggest challenge is learning about who you are and the story highlights this beautifully both in Jeff (life) and Kimberlee (death). The dialogue is true and not squeaky "clean" but not full of vulgarity as some YA novels are. Though I love a good story, sometimes when authors try to be too PG the dialogue comes out contrived and unbelievable. In this case it was perfectly balanced. With that being said, there is nothing wrong with being "clean."

The pacing and plot flowed naturally. Haunted by a klepto ghost, finding new love, and trying to fit into a new school are enough to create page-turning conflicts, juicy twists, comical situations, and a happy ending. So yeah, I basically LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much, Aprilynne and Harper Collins for giving me the chance read this brilliant, funny, romantic adventure months before it comes out.

Click on the above Amazon link to pre-order today. You won't be disappointed. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2nd Sunday Savor: 2012 reading list

One of the things seasoned authors tell you when you ask for writing advice is to read and read alot! I've taken this to heart over the years. Normally I read about 16 books a year (paper), but last year I got a Kindle and so I'm going list all the books in order read in 2012 and see if I've beaten my usual amount.

Completed:
1. Obsidian  Armentrout, Jennifer L (YA)
2. Daimon (prequal to Half-blood)  Armentrout, Jennifer L (YA)
3. Siren  Jacobs, Delle (Adult)
4. The Marked  Scott, Inara (YA)
5. Kiss and Makeup  Robertson, Faye (Adult)
6. The Dragon Stirs  Aicher, Lynda (Adult)
7. Paradise 21 (New Dawn)  Dionne, Aubrie (Adult)
8. The Dark Divine   Despain, Bree (YA)
9. Destined (Wings)  Pike, Aprilynne (YA)
10. Walking in Fire (Hawaiian Heroes)  Cade, Cathryn (Adult)
11. My Blood Approves  Hocking, Amanda (YA)
12. Fate  Hocking, Amanda (YA)
13. Flutter  Hocking, Amanda (YA)
14. Hollowland  Hocking, Amanda (YA)
15. The Marriage Bargain  Probst, Jennifer (Adult)
16. Innocent Darkness  Lazear, Suzanne (YA)
17. Wake  Hocking, Amanda (YA)
18. Sweet Venom  Childs, Terra Lynn (YA)
19. Sweet Shadows  Childs, Terra Lynn (YA)

Books started in 2012 and still reading:
1. Wired for Story  Cron, Lisa
2. The Eye of the World: Book One of 'The Wheel of Time'  Jordan, Robert (fantasy)
3. Art of Extreme Self-care  Richardson, Cheryl
4. Birthing from Within  England, Pam 
5. Life After Theft  Pike, Aprilynne  (paper) (YA)

So almost 20 completed books and this list does not include all of the audio books I've listened to as well. The ones I'm still working on I'm more than 50% through. So I would say it's been a successful year of reading. As you can see I read mostly YA and romance with a little bit of fantasy and self-improvement here and there. 

Well, I need to get some words in today and finish up Life After Theft so I can review it next week. Catch ya later.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

1st Sunday Snippet: Flashback

Yellow Warbler visiting my balcony in December.
Hello and Happy New Year to you all! Hope your holidays were fun and exciting or whatever you wanted them to be. Mine were peaceful and quite, exactly what I wanted. We had tons of yummy food and watched lots of movies and TV shows on Netflix. I even got some writing down, but mostly I needed to rest. Sometimes, a writer needs to step back and take a break.
Most of December however I worked on a Valentine novella (only 50% finished). I was hoping to have it done by Jan 1, so I could try to submit for possible publication this Valentine's, but things didn't quite line up as I hoped. There is a really good reason too, but I can't talk about that just yet. Regardless, here is a snippet (the intro) from A Veteran's Valentine:



Sand. Heat. Wind. Shots. Sulfuric smell. Blood. Explosion. Flying metal, rocks, & pieces of human flesh. Screams. Brain-numbing ringing in ears. Wind. Heat. Sand.

Drops of water pooled at Kevin Wood’s feet as he stood on the corner of Yamhill and Seventh Avenues. Rain slashed sideways as the bitter February wind whirled through downtown Portland. He’d been standing in the exact spot for a while now, frozen in place. His grip of the walk sign post loosened as the disturbing images faded into the dark depths of his damaged mind. The sweat covered his forehead and the back of his neck masked by the moisture pouring from the sky. A clenched breath trapped in his chest released as the post-adrenaline rush swept over his body. For a few brief seconds he thought he was in a very different place, one where rain came only several times a year and fine granules of sand filled his groves and crevices of his gun.

As always, thank you for stopping by and reading. Cheers,

Melania