My Birth Story

It Starts and Ends with a Burrito

My labor began on Friday March 11th. I had mild cramping around 2 pm, so I took a nap when I finished my work for the day. I knew a few people who had mild cramping weeks before they gave birth, so I had no reason to think I was in labor. My husband and I had plans to have dinner at Neato Burrito before his haircut at 6pm. I really didn’t feel like going anymore, but I desperately wanted a burrito. On our walk from the car to the restaurant, I felt like I couldn’t walk too far. I held my stomach as we slowly walked into Neato. My husband asked if I was okay and I told him that I was. I said, “I think I’ve reached the point where I can’t really walk too far anymore.” Throughout my pregnancy, I’d still been going on 1-2 mile walks. We then ordered and ate our burritos (I only ate half of mine, so I took the other half with me), and then I waited in the car while he got his haircut. Normally I’d go in with him, but I had a cold, so I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I assured him that I had my book and I’d be fine in the car. The appointment lasted for over an hour, and I was feeling too uncomfortable to read my book. The cramps felt like they were getting worse, but I kept thinking that maybe I was just overreacting. I called my mom and talked to her for close to an hour, then I sent a Marco Polo video to my friend Rachel. Just when I decided that I needed to lie down in the back seat, I saw Tyler walking towards the car. I breathed a sigh of relief, but I didn’t tell him exactly how I was feeling. I simply said to him “When we get home, I need to lay down.” He said, “Because of your cold?” I said “NO…” with an attitude, and later he told me that’s when he knew something was up with me. The cramps were definitely getting worse now; I could feel it as I cringed with every bump in the road. When walking from the car to our house, I felt a gush of liquid fill my pants. I told Tyler “I think my water just broke.” I ran up to the bathroom and pulled down my pants to the sight of A LOT of blood; None of it was water. I then called the on-call nurse and told her that I think I just had my bloody show, not realizing that this was certainly not a bloody show. It wasn’t a normal amount of bleeding. Since my husband and I had never gone through this before, we didn’t panic. The nurse told me to start timing my contractions. I told her “I’m not sure I’m having contractions.” I was apparently in denial all day that I was in labor, but my doctors and nurses had always told me I’d definitely know when I was having a contraction. It was such a different type of pain, I wasn’t really sure I could call it pain. As it turns out, my contractions just felt like really bad period cramps. I downloaded an app to time them, and my husband put Seinfeld on to try and relax me. I tried sitting in the bathtub and that didn’t feel good. I laid on the bed and that didn’t feel good, so I walked around and that still didn’t’ feel good. I tried kneeling with my birth ball, getting on my hands and knees, but those things made it feel worse. The most comfortable position for me was lying on my side in bed while listening to relaxing music and doing the breathwork I had practiced. After timing the contractions for an hour, the app was telling me to go to the hospital. Throughout this hour, I was throwing up the burrito I had eaten and texting some of my friends to get their opinions about when to go into the hospital. My friend Jess told me that because I mentioned the bleeding twice, just know that I don’t have to have the nurse’s permission to go to hospital; I can just go. The worst they can do is send me home. Because I had wanted to labor at home as long as possible and I was downplaying my pain, I was very unsure as to when we should go to the hospital. Tyler told me “We can go whenever you want to, just let me know.” I tried to hold out a bit longer, and then I decided it was time. Tyler already had the car packed and he called the nurse to let her know we’d be coming in. It was only a five minute drive to the hospital, and I waited in the lobby while Tyler parked the car. It was about 10 pm at this point. While waiting, I puked in the garbage bag I had brought with me. When Tyler came in, we walked up to the security guard and I told him “I’m in labor.” It felt like a lie as I said it, because I was so calm as opposed to what you see in the movies. He directed us to the maternity wing and they checked me in. The midwife checked me to see how dilated I was… I was 8 cm dilated! Since my preferred method of pain relief was nitrous oxide, I was relieved that I was an 8. The midwife asked me if I wanted the epidural and I told her no. I figured if I was already at an 8, I didn’t need it. I will say that if I hadn’t been so far along, I would’ve taken the epidural. It felt like once I accepted the fact that I was in labor, the pain became real. The nitrous oxide was finally set up once I hit a 9, and they still asked me if I wanted the epidural. I told them, “I think it’s too late now.” Then I pushed for an hour and a half, my husband holding my right leg and a nurse holding my left. I did my breathing into the gas mask and when I felt the urge to push, I’d tap my right leg and Tyler would tell the nurse “Now.” The two of them would lift up my legs and I’d push with all my might. It really felt like the pushing would never end. I did poop during labor and I broke a lot of blood vessels in my face. I felt the head coming out, and the rest of her followed. She came out “sunny side up” the nurses said, meaning her forehead came first. I was so thankful that I didn’t tear. She was born at 1:40 am, weighing 5 lbs 9 oz. The nurses laid her on my chest for only a few seconds, then they took her away. They said that she seemed “stunned and floppy.” I had apparently lost a lot of blood while delivering her in addition to the amount I had lost during labor. Because of this, they sent my placenta down to the lab and sent Clara to the NICU. Clara had to be put on a CPAP machine to breathe, but she was able to breathe on her own by 7 am that morning. Clara was in the NICU for two days, so we got to take her home on Monday. Once we came home with her, I was starving. I asked Tyler if he had put the other half of my burrito in the fridge, and he said that he had. So he took Clara and I finished my burrito. While at Neato, Tyler had joked “If you go and eat a baby sized burrito, it’s going to push a burrito sized baby out of you.” He was, indeed correct.

How I Met My Husband

“We should drink tea together sometime. Like make a whole pot of tea and just sit around and drink it together. We could even have little tea cakes and sandwiches to go with the tea.”

“Are you trying to trick me into having a tea party with you?”

This is all you need to know about my relationship with my husband.

Tyler and I wrote this together in tandem for our wedding day. This is the Story of Us.

It began at a coffee shop on Green street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Little Amps Coffee Roasters is well-known in the city of Harrisburg for its superior coffee, but to me, it’s the place I fell in love. I had to work at a Christmas party that night for my internship. It was an Ugly Christmas Sweater party for the neighborhood, and my job was simply to help set up and mingle.

I just got back from the barbershop and I remembered that there was an ugly Christmas sweater party going on at the coffee shop across the street.  It was getting a little late but Matt and Ashley had just given me a trash bag full of Goodwill sweaters so I figured I’d throw one on and head over for a few minutes. I never had too much luck at those types of events, I’d usually show up, say hi to an acquaintance or two, get bored, and leave. That’s about how the sweater party was going and I was probably about to leave when I started talking to Brigette.

It was a wonderful evening filled with laughter, drinks, ugly Christmas sweaters, and games. I took a break to eat, standing at the counter with my sandwich. Then a boy appeared beside me and I said hello. I swear our conversation froze time, because the next thing I knew, my boss was politely interrupting us because she needed me to help her clean up.

I can’t remember who started talking to who, but I remember feeling a connection as soon as we got talking. She complimented me on my sweater, I started rambling about comics. I couldn’t believe she was still listening to me as I rambled on about whatever I was reading at the time and then she told me she was writing a book of her own. We were talking for over half an hour or so when I realized I didn’t get her name so I told her a story with my name in it, and she did the same. I was having a wonderful time talking to her.

I got home that night and laid on my roommates’ floor, telling them about this charming boy I had just met. I told them that I really hoped I would run into him again.

Eventually she had to get back to work since it was her employer throwing the party. I remember stepping outside and feeling like something big just happened to me. There was no way I could keep this to myself, I had to talk to someone so I called Ben to tell him about Brigette and figured out that I had to cancel all the lame Okcupid dates, any and all prior engagements and get this girl out on a date as soon as possible. I hung up and called my Mom and had the same exact conversation, and then I called someone else right after.

That was Thursday, December 19, 2013, and we had our first date at a nice restaurant the following Monday. She’s had my heart ever since!

 It was only a few days later that he asked me to dinner. We met at Home 231 on North street and talked for hours over dinner. One date became two, and two became four, until January 17th, 2014 when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Three and a half years later he asked me to be his wife. And today, before all of our closest friends and family, we say I Do.

A Letter to My Best Friend

Dear Best Friend,

You have no idea what your friendship has meant to me. I remember how we met in 5th grade when you let me borrow your orange lead pencil with the white gripper. I remember how we’d play with that water wiggler toy and make dirty jokes with it. Do you remember our paper clothes business we started during indoor recess? Or sitting down reciting Linkin Park lyrics to each other, wishing we could see them live in concert? The Clarks were our first concert we saw together when we turned 16.

I remember how smart you were in school and how you taught me the parts of a cell by turning it into a mini school. If I remember correctly, the mitochondria were the janitors. That’s all I remember. We always teased you for being in the gifted program because you got to go to a special class and play fun games while we had to stay in our normal, boring class.

Do you remember when we made those funny videos together? One video was of you eating a block of cheese and of me dancing on stage with a Christmas tree, singing “Oh Christmas Tree.” We imagined and created together. I remember our summers at band camp and marching at the football games. I think my favorite time with you was always when we’d goof off in the back of the band room during rehearsals. And I can’t forget how much fun we had every morning working the music and cameras for the morning announcements.

Our bond was so strong that it probably was a little unhealthy, but I don’t know how I would’ve survived school without you. You helped shape the person I am today. We spent some time growing apart, but we always found each other in the end. Now you’re an incredible mom of 3 and married to the man of your dreams. I don’t visit as often as I should, but I know that we’ll be best friends forever just like we said we’d be back in 5th grade.

 I’ll never forget the “invisible circle” or singing Sweeney Todd at the top of our lungs, watching Spongebob and quoting it to each other, and walking around your town making weird and random videos on your parents’ camcorder. You showed me that it’s impossible to not smile when riding on a quad, and that hate has no place in our society.

Here’s to the mini screenplays we wrote, the conversations we had in AOL chat rooms (pretending to be other people), the secret code we wrote in our notes so other people couldn’t read them, and the squeak of a janitor’s cart in a deadly silent library.

A Letter to an Addict

Dear Addict,

I miss the person you used to be. I remember the moment I realized that you were gone. You stood there talking to me, but I could tell it wasn’t you. It was like a foggy version of you. I cried that day, mom and dad not understanding why. But I knew you were gone. That was 12 years ago, a lifetime ago. Where did my brother go?

I haven’t seen you in over 8 years. To be honest, I’ve lost count of the exact time. I think about you every so often and wonder where you are and what you’re doing. I hope you are okay. I hope you are healthy.  It’s been so long since we’ve spoken, you are a stranger to me now. I don’t know anything about you anymore. I wonder why I haven’t heard from you in over a year. I hope I hear from you.  I hope you come back to me.

You died today. They gave me the news when I came home from work. This can’t be real. I feel as though I’ve mourned the loss of you those 12 years ago, but now I’ve lost my hope. It’s died along with you. I wish you could’ve made it to your 30th birthday. I wish you would’ve come home to me. I wish I could’ve said goodbye.

I’ve been with you since the day you were born. I’ve grown up with you; Climbed trees and hills with you, “ice-skated” on the kitchen floor with you, played karaoke in our rooms together where you, me, and our stuffed animals would judge our singing abilities. I remember the imaginary towns we’d create with our matchbox cars and plastic mats, the battles we’d engage in with our army men, and watching Little Bear and The Busy World of Richard Scary as we ate lunch on our ABC plastic placemats on the living room floor.

We were so creative together. We’d play “garbage man” to get you to clean your room, take on our spy personas “Airlo and Jdog” to take down imaginary crime, play “garage sale” in our rooms, where neither of us made any money because we’d spend the same amount on each other’s stuff.

I know you weren’t strong enough to fight your addiction. I know some of the demons you carried, because I carry them as well. I wish I could’ve fought with you. Been with you. But I promise I will never forget the person you were before he started chipping away. He is the innocent one. He is the one who was funny, brave, and full of love. I love you so much, and I’ll keep these memories with me forever. You are my brother always, and I know I’ll see you again someday in Heaven.

Signed Book Bundles

I am happy to announce that my signed book bundles are now up for sale on Etsy! My original plan was to sell them at a handmade market, but I think for now online sale is best. We’ll see how things go with the virus, but I hope to eventually sell them in person in the community where I live.

These book bundles includes a signed copy of Bellow, plus a handmade dream/art journal and 3 fun buttons! I created these to fully immerse you into Tori’s journey throughout the book. Each piece ties into the story, leaving you with tangible reminders to inspire you on your own life journey.

These make great gifts for the YA book lover in your life. Each handmade journal was inspired by the book and will help you get creative. Visit my Etsy shop to get your very own bundle now!

Here’s the link to my shop, Pretty Obsessed.