Friday, April 14, 2017

My Pretty Baby Cried She Was a...Mom? (Birth Story, Vintage Baby Boy Greeting Cards)

Good morning!!

Don't worry, I haven't fled the internet yet-- I've just been busy the past several months as Matthew and I welcomed a brand new baby boy into the world...!! Our son, Remy, was born in late January, and I've been trying to get my wig back on straight ever since. 

Vintage Baby Greeting Card Boy Blue Background
While I promise She Was a Bird is in no danger of becoming a mommy blog (no shade on mommy blogs, I'd just much rather write about vintage typewriters and 1940's decorating than how little sleep I'm getting or what laundry detergent we use on Small Fry's duds [answer: not any and Dreft, respectively]), I hope those readers of you still out there will indulge me in a little rambling on the life altering event itself for posterity. I've been meaning to get to my many woefully blank journals I'd stockpiled for "all that spare time I would have on maternity leave" (ah HAHAHAHA, mister, you're funny), and then remembered there was a perfectly good blog sitting around idle where I could spitball to my heart's content and maybe even be able to reference back to it at some later date. Unlike my long-lost-in-the-attic college jottings or that cache of circa 2007 photos that are in SOME envelope SOMEwhere in this house, I've always been able to find and share words and images I've squirreled away on this blog-- which is my second favorite thing about it (after, of course, hearing from you all from time to time with tantalizing stories of vintage days gone by). So! Get ready for a personal post, or, stick around but wait until next week when I return to our regularly scheduled retro ranting. ;)

Vintage Birth Announcement Card 
Where to even start?

Matthew and I had been together a total of seven years, married two, when we decided to start trying to get pregnant after we got back from our second trip to Paris. There was no way I was missing out on every kind of French food and wine in the world during aforementioned trip, so I kind of marked late July as the "that's when we'll get 'for real' about this family planning stuff'. You'd think from those pamphlets they pass out in high school wellness that it takes BUT ONE TIME, slightly off your guard, even THINKING about the act of conception (or not thinking! Either one!) that you would instantaneously get pregnant, but maybe at thirty, or maybe when you're as massively stressed a person as I feel like I must be at all times, it doesn't necessarily work that way. We got serious about those ovulation tester things after about six months with no child in sight, and around the second month of trying and failing with those "blinky smiley face...ok, no today it's a solid smiley face!!" digital pee sticks, I started legit hating to check my Facebook feed and see another tiny, bald-headed miracle arrive in some else's life. Wasn't this supposed to just happen?? 

Nine whole months into the ordeal, I was out with my mom at an estate sale in Madison, sorting through some sheet music in the basement, when I spied a vintage, early 1980's PacMan cocktail table out of the corner of my eye. This is not a drill, folks, this was the real deal, and for some reason, it was sitting all on its lonesome in the corner of this cinderblocked basement next to a mansized pile of silk outdoor flowers. The model was the kind you'd see at Pizza Hut back in the self same decade (in fact, this one came out of the one on Dickerson Road we used to go to when I was a kid)-- it was on, it was working perfectly, and it was marked $100. Having spent the princely sum of fifty cents all day on some Ann Landers advice guides, I thought I was getting out easy that weekend, but no dice. The owner's son was a middle aged, stringy guy who looked a lot like Tom Skerritt (bristle mustache and all) and after I'd paid him, I took off my 1990s Hopi Indian symbols blazer and, in my uniform of  black dress loafers, black tights, and black dress, and tried in tandem with him to manhandle this monster out the back door and into my mom's Honda no avail. We tried it backwards, upside down, sideways...and finally discussed coming back in my dad's truck later in the day before they closed to pick it up. 

When my mom dropped me back at the house, I promptly burst into an uncharacteristic gale of tears... what if turning it upside down had dislodged something in the Pac Man machine and it didn't work anymore? What if we'd scratched up the surface trying to get it into the car? What if the model was some lame version I didn't know about and was a waste of money? What if Matthew gets home and he thinks he has this great cocktail table, and my dad broke it when he loaded it into his truck? Then my hundred dollars was gone, was it dumb to spend $100 on it? Should I have dickered more? What if it wasn't even worth a hundred dollars? And then we're stuck with it! And then it's broken! I called Matthew in Clarksville (his office at his last job was moving to another building, and everyone was pulling overtime that Saturday) and, through my weeping, managed to get the flurry of ideas menacing me across to him. He was a little taken aback, said to calm down and wait until he got home, and he would see what was going on with everything. I proceeded to stomp around the house a little, tears still streaming down my face-- and then thought, hey, you know what, I'm going to take that second pregnancy test from the box. You know, the one I had disconsolately shoved back into the box after its mate read yet another single, not-pregnant line on the Wednesday of the same week? 

And weeeeeelll....bust. My. BUTTONS. After the cursory waiting period, there was a a solid blue cross on the stick.

I texted Matthew a picture of the stick with the words, "Sooooo....?"

Vintage New Baby Greeting Card
For the next nine months, we anxiously followed the updates on the Ovia Pregnancy app I'd downloaded on my phone ("The baby's as big as a pineapple this week! Look at what his little hand would look like if he could touch the screen!!") and googled "pregnant can eat ok" coupled with every kind of food, drink, and medicine you can think of...I had no morning sickness whatsoever, got icked out by the smell of cooking meat, and craved pancakes and turkey sausage at all hours of the day. When we found out we were having a boy, I was a little thrown. But.....! But....! I had twenty girl names picked out, all ready to go, and no boy names! Who am I going to bequeath this closet full of sequined dresses and fur coats to some day? I got over it seconds after the initial gender panic set in, seeing that tiny hand on the ultrasound, looking like it was waving "hello" at us. As long as he was healthy and happy, I decided everything would be ok. I tested high on the initial glucose test that checks to see if you have gestational diabetes, so I had to go back to my doctor's office after a week of eating a strict, mandated diet of almost disgustingly rich foods (we're talking lumberjack breakfast, people-before-they-understood-what-calories-were lunch, and seriously-I-can't-eat-this-many-starches dinner)...and get my blood drawn four times in four hours. Lord have mercy. Turns out I didn't have gestational diabetes, so good deal! My mother-in-law bought me a fancy black and gold maternity dress at the Green Hills Mall Pea In the Pod location as a present that I took as "the official sponsored outfit of Lisa's pregnancy"-- if you saw me once in it, you pretty much saw me 100 x in it. Matthew surprised me by secretly finagling a visit from our friends Rob and Oznur-- I woke up the morning of my baby shower to the two of them sitting at my breakfast table, having flown all the way from the UK to attend the festivities! My mom threw the shower and all my girlfriends and friends of the family turned up to fete me in style. I had a brief scare when the brand of the hummus I'd insisted on having as a healthy alternative to whatever homemade dip my mom was going to make got recalled for listeria...oh, just one of the worst things you can catch if you're pregnant and in your third trimester. Did I mention this year was also the summer of Zika, THE worst thing you can catch if you're pregnant? I spent a lot of 2016 literally jogging from my car to inside buildings and wearing long sleeves and leggings through the heat. But! Again, I made it through in one piece and only complained as much as I had to. 

 Vintage Greeting Card Baby Congrats King Boy
As the new year rolled in, my doctor told me that there was probably no way I was going to go all the way to my due date. I was measuring huge for my height due to extra fluid around the baby, which I continually had to talk myself down from a panic attack about... she also assured me that, after three ultrasounds to determine the height and weight of the baby-to-be, he was a large though healthy as could be baby and the only things I had to worry about were a) how big his head was in terms of delivery [both Matthew and I have enormous heads, soooo] and b) hoping I wasn't in a public place when my (considerable) water broke. The day after his due date was my weekly third trimester appointment, and we scheduled a possible induction for the Monday after, giving the little guy the weekend to show up. I dragged Matthew around three different Goodwills and an indoor flea market that Saturday-- all I wanted to do was lay in the bed and watch old episodes of Project Runway All Stars, but I knew walking was supposed to help the baby arrive. And also hot food-- I put myself through some TRIALS [Nashville hot chicken is not kidding when it calls itself hot chicken] before the Saturday night, two days after my due date, when I sent Matthew to go get Thai food from the Smiling Elephant on the other side of town.

I was watching a vintage episode of the newly posted Unsolved Mysteries on Amazon Prime, and looking through an East Nashville Buy and Sell Group on Facebook for treasures, when I felt something weird. I called Matthew and said, "I'm going to be super embarrassed if this turned out I've just peed myself or done some other kind of thing that happens to pregnant ladies I don't know about, but I'm pretty sure my water just broke?" Homeboy was in line at the Thai place like, "WHAT! REALLY? OMG!" I texted my mom, called my doctor's after hour line, and then took the latter's advice to go to the hospital, where, sure enough, we were checked in around 7 o'clock (sadly sans Thai food...I thought we'd have more time, Thai food!).

Vintage baby boy congratulations card 
An hour after I was admitted, the nurse put me on pitocin to induce contractions, and Jesus Christ Our Lord, did they ever do just that. I really hadn't been through very much pain other than just feeling uncomfortable from how huge I was towards the end in this pregnancy-- that all changed. There was a monitor behind me to measure how strong the contractions were, and I thought I was doing ok around 15...when one cranked up to an 80 something on the monitor, I asked for an epidural WITH THE QUICKNESS. The only time I was really upset through the whole delivery was the epidural-- after how hard the pitocin-induced labor contractions had been for the hour or so I'd been able to stand them without medicine, I just didn't have any strength left and cried and cried and cried as this poor woman tried to stick a needle in my freakin' spine. Low tide for yours truly. Immediately after, however, I felt four hundred percent better, just exhausted and starving (and unable to eat until after the delivery...woe was me). My water finally BROKE broke a little after the epidural, and it was like a scene in Grey's Anatomy where the nurses aren't trying to alarm you, but something medically crazy just happened. Not to be gross, but it sounded like someone had overturned an aquarium right there on the tile floor, just all of a sudden, and with one loud splash. The nurse, who was wonderful and I think had a South African accent, kept giddily saying "I'm sorry, I've just nehvah... NEH-VAH ... seen anything like that before." Once the epidural went in, the only thing that really hurt was the IV that for some reason they put in through a vein the back of my left hand-- it was at a near constant throbbing, but after the seismic contraction pains, I was like, "You know, this could be much, much worse".

Thirteen hours into labor, I still hadn't progressed like I was supposed to-- the baby wouldn't move down into my pelvis, probably still a little shell shocked from the swimming pool he'd called home for nine months being tout à coup emptied in one go. He kept wiggling around in my stomach, ducking in and out of the fetal heart rate monitor on the belly band, and causing an alarm to go off on one of the machines I was hooked to. Finally, after talking my poor mom's head off all through the night and none of us, she, me, or Matthew, having gotten more than twenty or so minutes of sleep, during yet another episode of Unsolved Mysteries on my phone, my doctor came in Sunday morning and said it might be a better option for me to go ahead and have the C section. I'd heard recovery times were better with natural births, so I'd been trying to avoid those two words ever since they'd been offered to me as a possibility instead of induction when we set up my just-in-case appointment. At this point though, I felt like the writing was on the wall and that was the way it was going to go-- I told Matthew, after some discussion, that I was ok with going with the C section delivery. He said he was going out to get a Coke-- really, he chased down my doctor in the hallway before she left for church services to say I was ready to go ahead and have this child be born now instead of waiting another three or four hours to see if he would come down on his own.

So we went into surgery! I was a little scared but the team was so sitcom-level-jovial and I was so out of it from food and sleep deprivation that it seemed to me everything was going to be all right. After no pain whatsoever during the delivery, the little guy made his debut-- shrieking a shriek I am now all too familiar with, lol, as the doctors and nurses sang "Happy Birthday" to him and he was weighed and checked out by the NICU nurses to make sure everything was jake from the waterpark ride he'd been on earlier. It was! And he was! Matthew handed him to me above the surgical field's drape and I started talking to him, the same as I had on all those commutes to Lavergne for work when I was a million years pregnant or those days in the house watching tv before he was born. He looked at me, squalling, and then slowly calmed down and laid his cheek on my chest. I have a video of it or I wouldn't believe it...but I think he recognized me!

And so little Remy, all eight pounds fifteen ounces of him, became a part of our lives.

Vintage baby boy congratulations card digital download
That was two and a half months ago, though it feels like at least ten years have passed since then.
It's extraordinary watching our little micronaut grow... just as you get used to one stage of his development, it feels like another one begins immediately. This apparently continues throughout their lives, lol. Considering we didn't even have a goldfish before (but remain extremely responsible people, ne'ertheless!), it's been quite the learning curve, but we've both eagerly anticipated and celebrated even the smallest little changes as he gets bigger and bigger. "He laughed! Did you see, did you see?!" "I think he's starting to try to crawl!!" As much work as it's been, having a kid has also been the most joyous period of my life-- it sounds hackneyed and overprecious, but they really do change everything. And JOY is the best word for it...I've never worked so hard at anything, but I've also never been so happy with anything. Having a partner who really feels the same way has been no surprise to me, knowing Matthew as I have over lo, these many years-- but I am thankful every day to have someone who has my back and truly cares about my feelings through this crazy process. It also doesn't hurt how cute he and Remy look together when they're making each other laugh. But I digress!

So, there you have it-- my birth story. Can you believe the old girl's a mama now? She can't! :)

its a he thanks to me vintage birth announcement mad men abstract adorable

How about you? What in the heck have you been up to in the almost year since I've dusted off the old blog? Any exciting life changes? Any couldn't-believe-it estate sale finds? I'd love to hear from you if you're still out there!

With the dumpling in mid-February...he's much larger but just as cute now. :)

That's all for now, but I'll be back! There are so many crazy things I've been wanting to write about, and ain't this just the place for it. Stay tuned!


  1. Congratulations!!! Very exciting! In the last year, my "baby" has come back home to live with us, while she works her second year out of college (housing is too expense and salary too low!) But, your happy post brings back memories of another 30 year old's baby saga, many moons ago! I did just bring home a coveted find, this week, acquired for free! Last Summer, we went out to a country cafe and peered into a sad, derelict little log cabin, sitting next to the cafe. Inside, there were lots of cast off items, but a light blue painted, metal, full-sized headboard was a dream! Finally, after half a year gone by, we were back at the cafe for lunch and it was quiet enough to ask the waitress about the things in the log cabin... specifically, the headboard. She checked with whomever is in charge of the cabin, and said we could have the thing for FREE! I am thinking it may be 1930's vintage. It's very unique design, with a mesh center panel, some ornate vertical strips on each side and pretty spindles between the strips and the actual frame. I am cleaning off all the dirt of decades. Oh, I also found a wonderful, large, circa 1890's, bamboo, multi-shelved stand for $5! Someone was trying to get rid of her elderly mother's things, as she was moving to a retirement home. Enjoy your baby boy! He will be climbing on the counters in no time! ;)

    1. Wow! That story about the abandoned cabin and the free headboard sounds like a dream I would have, I am constantly waking up like "Wait, what about my box of dresses I found in that attic? That was a...DANG IT." :p All that elbow grease in cleaning it up will pay off, and you can't beat free. And a $5 Victorian bamboo shelf, to boot. Lucky lady!! :) Thanks for the kind words and for reading/commenting!! I hope to share some of the junk I've been hauling home soon.

  2. So much sweetness and what an amazing and fascinating post! I loved reading it from start to finish, even that aquarium part. I don't know if the internet will still exist when Remy is older (ha!) but be sure and print this out for him. It's such an amazing tale of mama & daddy love and the journey that got you your little one. Congratulations again. It couldn't happen to a lovelier couple. :) Also, I totally want a scan of that dark haired girl on the birth announcement. She's fab.

    1. Aw, that's a great idea! My uncle told me to be sure and grab a newspaper from the day Remy was born because he'd get a kick out of it when he was older-- I'm going to print this and tuck it in with the January Tennessean for his keepsake box. And thank you! And isn't that last set of cards the coolest thing? I almost bought it when I was writing this post bc I couldn't stand how much I liked the rhyme and the Mad Men esque illustration, but decided I'd waited too long for mailed announcements... maybe next time! :D

  3. Congratulations! When my wife and I were first married a friend wished us 'happy babies'. We thought it was a funny thing to say at the time, but appreciated the wish after we had one with colic.

    These cards are lovely. I was born in 1949 and have the baby arrival cards that were sent to my parents. I also have two mechanical ones that were sent to my great grandparents in about 1860. On one, the father has a moveable arm which powders the baby's behind with a verse that says, 'Dear me! what a lot of powder it takes'. But the personal wording at the top suggests it may have been sent on their wedding.

    You pull a tag on the other one and the father's eyes move and he bounces the baby up and down. The verse reads:

    Oh! I'm so happy - Oh! I'm so happy-
    Now that I'm a papa;
    Put on the saucepan, and warm up the pappy,
    And sing fol-de-rol, la, la, la.

    Naughty mama, to eat gooseberry tart,
    And give little baby a pain;
    Chuckey, chuckey, chuckey,
    Bless the little duckey -
    Ah! there's the gooseberries again.

    I’ve put the Victorian ones on my Facebook page – here’s the link to the post

    Take care and all best wishes from Australia.


    1. Well, I LOVE those mechanical cards, both the verses and the images...what a hoot! I almost did this post with solely Victorian cards of babies-in-bushels and babies-in-trees...the babies-as-crops theme seemed to be hilarious to our great and great-great grandparents... but I couldn't decide if I liked those or these slightly-newer-vintage cards better. Who am I kidding, I am crazy about them both. Thanks for the kind words and for reading. I hope little Remy stays a happy baby, he's been very good thus far!!

  4. Im so glad to hear this and congrats on your addition of Remy. I have missed your posts I was so glad to hear from you and know that all is well and happy.
    ITs a time in your life that you and Matthew will enjoy, be patient with yourselves and always know that you love each other and kiss each other goodnight every night.. Hugs cc
    ps I love the vintage announcements so you. LOL

  5. Usually I check in every few weeks to see if you posted, but I was on vacation in April-and here I check in to this AWESOME NEWS!! I am so very happy for your little family!

    I loved what you said about joy, that is always how I described my feelings after I had my daughter. I wasn't even sure I wanted children, but I became pregnant, and it is the most joyful thing that has ever happened to me. I remember going back to work after my maternity leave, and talking with another mom-I said I could not wait to see her-she was all I thought of during the day when I wasn't with her. Not to be weird, but it was like the most potent crush I ever had, times 100.

    My own girl is going to be 23 next month, and I wish I could do it all again!! Very best wishes to you and your adorable boy!

  6. Congratulations! What a beautiful post. I loved reading every detail, from your maternity-sponsored outfit to the water-slide-aquarium to the nurses' banter. My sister just had her first baby in March, and I can't believe how sweet he is, and how much he changes every day. I'm always happy to hear (and see!) that the old "parenthood is the hardest job you'll ever love" thing lives up to the hype. Again, congratulations to you and your family!



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