Designing Life: a graphic designer’s birth story

Graphic designers are known to be control freaks. We are detail oriented planners who set up rules and regulations for brands to follow.  We love our to do lists, setting and following guidelines, choosing what’s above the fold etc. I am well aware of this personality trait of mine, so when I was embarking on motherhood I knew I’d have to loosen up a whole heck of a lot. As a first time mom, there were so many things to obsess over but I was determined to make a conscious effort to relax about my birth plan. I decided I’d be very go with the flowwhich to me meant make no set plan. I knew I wanted an epidural and was shooting for a vaginal birth (seemed pretty standard) but was mentally preparing for the necessity of a c-section, just in case. I even took the birth classes so I’d have full exposure to possibilities and how to cope with my optionstotally covering my bases (so I thought)!

40 weeks pregnant rolls around and to my dismay, no baby. At my 40 week appointment my cervix was still completely closed. I had only even felt maybe one Braxton Hicks contraction throughout my entire 40 weeks, but I wasn’t even sure about that! The silver lining to this appointment is my doctor agreed to induce me at 41 weeks on the dot. Induction: not my initial or ideal “plan” but I warmed up to that idea realllly fast (at this point I thought any exit strategy would be ideal).

After adjusting my expectations, I awoke early the next morning to what I believed to be a few contractions. Excited at the prospect of something happening I clocked my contractions until they were coming about 5 minutes apart. After a lot of deliberation we decided I should swing by the hospital, get my cervix checked and just to see if there are any updates (not expecting to stay but maybe to get an idea if things can be sped up a little).

The OB Emergency Center was pretty quiet for the holiday weekend so far but, like all quick hospital drop-ins, the visit took forever! I felt like the staff looked at us like we were silly for wasting our weekend afternoon when I wasn’t huffing and puffing in pain. Fortunately, they seemed less put out when they learned I was full term and the machines confirmed my growing contractions. My cervix had only opened 1 cm (out of 10) so they did not consider it much progress. Being that it was my first baby the doctor and nurses said labor will take a long time so they recommended I go home and eat a meal, take a napprobably through the night, and take a brisk walk to get that baby moving. They said we’ll maybe see you in 24 to 48 hours at least to get this party started and to come back when the contractions hurt so much you can’t talk or breathe through them. At this point it’s after 4pm and my contractions have grown to be uncomfortable and occurring every 3 minutes.

Once we get back home (after an ice cream stop) taking a nap felt like a joke so we decide to take the brisk (and miserable) walk to my mom’s house a few blocks away and back. I’m sure my heavy breathing and breaks every three minutes for a contraction terrified the neighbors, but we did it. Next up is food and/or sleep. Eating anything is no longer an option and neither is sitting much less laying down. I took Tylenol, a trick the nurses suggested, to help the pain and to determine if it’s the real deal or not (if there’s no pain relief then it’s the real deal labor.) Trying to avoid another unnecessary stop at the hospital I waited 1 hour to see if the meds would kick in. I force myself to shower and my nausea comes back. Finally, I’m so miserable I tell my husband, Jake,  we have to go back to the hospital. It’s about 8:30 pm and I waddle to the car my mind only focused on all the real pain meds I’d be getting soon.

We pull up to the hospital and I tell Jake we have to leave the car at the frontno time for parking. Woman on a mission I can’t wait for a wheel chair and book it back to the OB Emergency Center. When I enter there are no questionable looks this time. Despite the very busy waiting area I was immediately made a priority. Jake begins filling out the paperwork as they prep a room for me. I require Jake to stand in the doorway to flag down the doctor immediately. We aren’t usually pushy people but I was not waiting around this time. Fortunately, my pain was very visible and audible so nurses and staff were bustling around to help us. In fact it was my same doctor from a few hours earlier. Jake never makes it back to the car and the doctor reports that I am at 7 cm. The nurses looked shocked as they nod approvingly and congratulate me on the success of that brisk walk. They tell me they are prepping my room in labor and delivery and ask if I want an epidural- I respond “I want all the drugs!”

In minutes I am wheeled in the most uncomfortable wheelchair down to the labor and delivery room but not before my water breaks all over the Emergency Care room. Once we make it to our destination the bustling nurses have cleared and it’s just me, Jake and our delivery nurse, Melissa. As I get into the bed I ask Melissa if my epidural is here, as a clever reminder that I’m ready for it! She quickly checks me and cool and calmly tells me it’s too late and I will not be getting the epidural. My eyes get wide and I respond, “fffff*ck” (I went from 7cm to 10cm in a matter of minutes!) Melissa replies “f*ck is right, but you can do this”. I turn to Jake and say, “This is my nightmare.” In all of my birth plan assessment I knew a natural childbirth could happen, and certainly felt sorry for those ladies, but didn’t think it could ACTUALLY happen to me. Jake attempts to reassure me as I’m convinced I’m not going make it. Alternatively, there is too much pain to really panic so I just do what I’m tolda Jesus and Melissa take-the-wheel moment. Fortunately, Melissa’s calm and helpful demeanor is wonderful, but it’s not over yet. The next hurdle is keeping the baby in until my doctor gets here to deliver. It’s not even my doctor on the way but one of her partners who is on call for the weekend (and I haven’t met), but again there was no time or energy to panic about that.

What feels like an eternity goes by as I hold in every urge to push. I can only focus on the door and the clock as I await the doctor and Melissa gets us prepped for pushing. Barely holding on, I finally see the doctor walk in and it’s go time. It takes three contractions and less than 10 minutes to push my baby all the way out. I felt every little wiggle as she exited and it was amazing. She proceeded to poop all over my stomach and I didn’t even care because she was perfect and I felt like a rock star!

Follow up:

Our car thankfully did not get towed. I was only at the hospital an hour and a half (the second time). There was no time to call family to be at the birth (which was a-ok with us!) I had second degree tearing, which I was told was normal. If I could do anything all over again I don’t think I’d change a thing. Except maybe doing more kegels 🙂

Check back soon for a post about my first week with baby… it’s not exactly part of the birth story but we do make another trip back to our favorite OB Emergency Care…!

Letter A Day Project

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I started my letter a day project April 2016, just two days before we bought a house! My husband and I were currently homeless, living in separate cities out of boxes and suitcases and road tripping constantly but I decided there was no time like the present to start a side project. Maybe not my most practical decision, but in my defense, I had just attended a design conference (Creative South) and was feeling extremely inspired and ready to hit the ground running!

I was feeling pretty creative and ready to just create but I did realize I had a lot going on. I decided taking a little time out of my workday to create a simple letter was something I could swing. Some days I had a couple hours to play- others I only had the energy for a few minutes to scramble and get something together. A true test of self discipline.

Now these letters were never meant to be seen as shown above- all together. So definitely cut me some slack because it looks like a jumbled mess between the designs, colors and even those Instagram filters that were so fitting of my mood at the time. Additionally, I feel it’s important to note if you don’t follow me on Insta that I started the letters in reverse order beginning at the end of the alphabet with the letter “Z.”

It has been a few months now since I completed this project and I feel like I learned so much about my own process – I even still love a few of my letters! (always a struggle for overly critical designers/overly critical=designers) This process forced me to create something and post it whether it was good or finished or neither. It’s cool to look back and see a few of the letters that reflect my day; it feels like an insider because I remember what was happening and what I was feeling when I made it. Since I was moving and traveling during that period there were a lot of things I simply had to let go. It was also really nice to work on something that other people would see but their opinion really wouldn’t matter since the letter wasn’t for client or anyone, not even myself. I never thought creating something to basically throw it away would ever be so liberating!  I might even do it again.  I do have something in the works that came from this little project so I hope to tackle something similar that will be just as fulfilling.

xx, Mal

 

 

Home Design: Updating with Wallpaper

The 2016 summer months have been filled with home renovations following our relocation to Pensacola, FL. We bought a house built in 1938 that has been updated periodically which is filled with plenty of charm and potential. There were endless days of painting, scrubbing and power-tooling (drilling, sanding and the like) that made our arms/neck/back ache for a week; however, when a room is complete you remember why you’ve been putting in that elbow grease.
Not the first room to undergo a makeover, but definitely one of the truest labors of love in the house is the half bath. I loved the bead board that was existing, although it did need a lot of attention. Since wall area minus the beach board is such a small space-and I knew something had to be done about that overwhelming salmon color-I had the brilliant idea to take my first stab ever at wallpapering. When all was said and done, I am pleased with the results but it will probably be my first and last experience wallpapering! (At least I chose my favorite paper from RiflePaperCo!!)

bathroomBeforeAfter

I do not wish to discourage the creatively adventurous nature in anyone, but wallpapering was much harder than I imagined. Even after watching as many youtube videos I could find about easy wallpapering, my best advice to someone so determined is to stick with an accent wall or piece of furniture (like a bookcase).
My final piece of advice is to pick a paper you love! I think I would have given up if I had picked one of the cheaper options I tried to talk myself into. Originally I thought this paper was too expensive for a beginner like me but even though the application is not perfect, I love it!

Process shots from wallpapering:

 

Details from the final walls and the cutest sink you’ve ever seen:

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Summer Melon Daze

Some days you just have to play around and remember all the little changes you can make to create. I love patterns so recreating using these watercolor watermelons I did a while back is fun and easy. As designers, many projects we labor over for so long trying to perfect every detail; therefore any quick creative gratification is refreshing!

Watermelon art 3

 

Watermelon art

 

Watermelon art2

The Buzz on Mead

Lately my husband has been turning our living space into brew stations. I encouraged the hobby with some beer brewing kits, not knowing what the takeover would look like. Not only have we been collecting and saving bottles for the brewing process but now he has decided to venture into brewing mead. I had no idea what mead was but I quickly learned it’s an alcoholic beverage that comes from honey, and I suppose it’s considered to be “brewed.” Well, we already happen to use a lot of honey at home, but since we don’t do anything half way we will soon be adopting a group of the cutest bees around! I think I was tricked into this idea since I have yet to find a type of mead I truly love; however, I’ve been told the hobby is here to stay!
Being the designer I am, of course I’m already researching and brainstorming label and branding ideas for our homemade brews. Before the pretty packaging here are some fun facts I’ve learned about mead:

1. Mead is it’s own category, like cider. 
Mead is fermented with three basic ingredients: honey, yeast and water. It can be flavored with various fruits as well. It isn’t classified as beer or wine in the typical sense, but stands apart in its own rank of alcoholic beverage.

2. It’s fancy! “Nectar of the Gods” 
Referred to as “nectar of the gods” by ancient Greeks, mead was believed to be dew sent from the heavens and collected by bees. Many European cultures considered bees to be the gods’ messengers, and mead was thus associated with immortality and other magical powers, such as Olympus-level strength and wit. For this reason, mead continued to factor heavily in Greek ceremonies even after its eventual decline in drinking popularity.

3. It’s *BASICALLY* healthy 🙂 
It was used medicinally in early England by infusing herbs of different varieties to heal various ailments.

4. Honeymooners?
Yep, honeymoon came from mead. The origin of “honeymoon” dates back to the medieval tradition of drinking honey wine for a full moon cycle after a new marriage. Supposedly the mead would ensure a fruitful union bearing plenty of children. Often mead was included in the bride’s dowry.

5. Mead is brewing all around
There are almost 250 meaderies in America currently. Even local mead festivals are cropping up and some chefs are using mead in their dishes.

Now that we know what mead is, here’s some packaging design and the last is our first homemade brew that I dutifully oversaw:

Stay tuned to see how the bee adoptions turns out!
For full article on mead see http://liquor.com/articles/10-facts-about-mead/#gs.MwTgxzk
Packaging: CODO design, Hired Guns Creative, Honey Creative and