Alcott and High

a weekly story about Denver, life, and the things that interest us

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Category: Living in Denver (page 1 of 4)

My Birth Story

7 weeks ago my husband posted an update on Facebook that read  ” So, after 40 hours of labor this little guy showed up in the operating room. Mom was amazing and is recovering well. He’s a voracious eater whose favorite foods are 1) milk, 2) fingers, 3) wrist. Pretty sure his name is Fitzgerald, aka Fitz.”

I just reread that post and the beautiful messages from friends and family that followed the birth of our baby boy. I just finished looking at all the images from my labor and c-section. I just told my full birth story to my friend, for the first time, yesterday. Before my birth maybe I had imagined posting pictures of us all smiling on the hospital bed or writing something sweet but I learned, with my birth, that birth will happen not always the way one plans, or wants, but the way it needs to.

My birth story started 7 weeks and two days ago. I went into the labor naturally, the day I was scheduled to be induced.  It was snowy outside and  Marcos timed contractions starting at 3 minutes, two minutes, then 90 seconds apart as we enjoyed walks, brunch, lunch, and labored at our favorite restaurant over dinner.

(Marcos timing my contractions at Dio Mio)

We texted family and friends with updates and were  giddy and nervous thinking our baby boy may come within a few hours…we didn’t plan on a few days.

We took a peaceful nap in our room and packed last minute items in our hospital bags. I still remember laying in our quiet bedroom and feeling close and cozy. We went to the hospital and ended up having to stay the night because it had been several hours since my water broke.

(Arriving at St. Joes)

I labored through the night and as the sun rose the next morning. We walked around the hospital, outside, and even home because we live ten minutes from the hospital. My Sister, close friend Gina, and Mom came in the afternoon. They took turns rubbing my back, walking with me, using essential oils, and breathing along with me. They said I was doing an amazing job, they added more Beyonce to my playlist, they laughed and cried with me.  We labored on.

I used Nitros gas, the robozo, a birthing ball. I dialated, but not enough. We used Citotec to get contractions started, then pitosin, then the jacuzzi tub and finally, after 36 hours, an epidural.

Marcos, was as close to an extension of myself as a partner could be. He held my hand as I squeezed his through painful contractions. He counted with me, he made me a hospital mix with “Cheery Music.” He got into the tub and held me as I moaned in pain.  He whispered over and over that he loved me and was so proud of me from the first hour and as we approached the end of my second day of labor. His words kept me breathing and hopeful.

At hour 43, our midwife held my hand, while Marcos held the other. She explained that while my contractions were strong the baby was showing signs of distress in the birth canal. I was not dilating and the risk of infection and further complications was increasing. The thing I wanted to avoid was a c-section and the next step, for a safe delivery, was a c-section.

The surgeon sat by my bed and with a bright and peppy voice listed off the risks that could occur during surgery, including the removal of my uterus or death and if yes, I was giving permission to go ahead…Sure. !

I remember I had to take off my gold earrings and give them to my Sister and also  that I was SO thirsty. As they wheeled me into the operating room I was shaking and Marcos held my shoulders still. I kept licking my lips and just wanting it to be over so I could drink a gatorade. They pinched me and asked ” Do you feel this Shannon?” I did. They said “Really?” Then they pinched further down… “Does this feel the same as this?” The two pinches felt the same. I felt the blade of the knife and it hurt. Eventually it numbed but it was more than a little pressure. I just kept staring up at Marcos.  Then, quiet.

The baby was having trouble breathing. They were about to take him to the NICU and then… he took a big breath of air and was breathing on his own. No NICU. I heard laughter and I saw relief in Marcos’s eyes as he brought me our baby.

Fitz had so much hair and they laid his body haphazardly on my chest while they finished stitching me up.  I was shaking and when they laid him on my chest I calmed.  His feet and lips looked exactly like Marcos. I remember the Dr. saying “Shannon, we are just putting your uterus back.” I didn’t love this real time update but was relieved it was over and the baby was actually here. I had started to doubt he would ever come out.

The sweetest moment was when they were wheeling us into recovery. My baby was nestled beside me and he confidently grabbed my fingers, like “we got this.”In that moment I felt like we did it together, and we were fine. I felt proud for bringing him here, and strong, and a huge cloud of relief surrounded me.

In the recovery room Marcos held our baby while I rested. We had both been up around 46 hours. I heard grunting and movement like Marcos was trying to wrestle a bull or something. The baby wanted to nurse and was trying to latch onto Marcos. Marcos brought the baby over and his little body melted onto me.  He was instantly quiet. Marcos kept saying “Wow, that is what you were looking for. ”  He was looking for his Mama… and he found her.

Your birth story is not one that you get to write ahead of time, I think some people go into it with that idea. The story unfolds the way it needs to. The process is where you find you are stronger than you ever imagined. The best part was the end, when I met, finally! my beautiful baby boy.

Have A Festive Weekend!

This weekend is jam packed with brunches, lunches, dinner, Bach Breakdancing and The Nutcracker! The holiday buzz begins! I am looking forward to every moment.

 

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Denver Date-The Colorado Ballet!

 

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Marcos and I were lucky enough to see the Colorado Ballet’s Swan Lake last weekend. This ballet has been top on my list for years and I was giddy with excitement as the lights went down and the curtain opened.

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The ballet is a magical escape from the daily grind. The costumes, Colorado Ballet Symphony, and theatrics transport you for a few short hours. Watching the dancers is meditative, you don’t have to focus on words like in a play and you can just sit back and enjoy the choreography. Swan Like was powerful, graceful, and oozed with romance.  Baby McQueen loved the roar of the symphony and was leaping in tune with the dancers during the last act.

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We saw the matinee and had drinks and dinner after. It was the perfect date because matinee tickets are reasonable and easy to get for popular shows.  The timing is perfect because you exit just in time for an early dinner. I loved the crisp autumn air, wearing a cute new outfit, and walking around the theatre district with Marcos after the show.

The Colorado Ballet will feature Swan Lake until October 23rd and will start the Nutcracker on Nov 26th.  You can purchase tickets here. This winter, make a perfect date  and go to the ballet. The experience is timeless, lovely, special, and festive.

Thank you Mike Watson for the images from the Colorado Ballet and the Colorado Ballet for Supporting this post.

Farmer’s Market Season Begins!

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We love The Denver Farmer’s Markets. The image above is what every Saturday looks like at our house after the market.

This weekend we are looking forward to trying out the new market at Union Station! During the summer the bulk of our food is bought at the Farmer’s Market and its such a joy to checkout each stand, support local farmers, and bring home healthy, beautiful food and flowers 😉

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Summer Festivals in Denver

Growing up my Mom always took Shelby and I to festivals during the summer. What’s not to love? Free entertainment, people watching, and for us, growing up in Littleton, a break from the suburbs. Now we are lucky enough to be down the street from most of these festivals and a short drive from others.  Here are our top festival suggestions for the Denver area for the summer:

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  1. Cherry Creek Art Festival July 2nd-4th. We go to this every year.  Partly because its nostalgic but also because its worth it. Artists from across American gather in Cherry Creek and there is live music, food, and art creation tent for kids. You can spend an hour or a whole day and its worth it.
  2. Denver Chalk Art Festiva June 4th-5th- There are some amazing chalk creations on Larimer Square. Professionals create amazing feats and you can also grab chalk and make your own work of art.
  3. Greek Festival June 17th-19th. This is my favorite festival because THE FOOD! I love that  the Greek community puts on this festival every year and it feels like you got invited by someone on the inside. You can eat Baklava to your hearts delight and enjoy greek dancing, food, and music.
  4. Black Arts Festival July 8th-10th- Another festival we have been going to since we were kids. African dancing,drumming, and local bands perform. Sadly, the attendance levels have fallen, we were bummed more people from the neighborhood didn’t come. This is right down the street in City Park so be sure to attend and represent!
  5. Colorado Shakespeare Festival runs June 3rd-August 7th Actors from across American perform under a starry sky in the Boulder campus outdoor theatre. If you want to be transported and enjoy theatre in a romantic and whimsical setting, checkout their season asap. Popular shows sellout quickly. Also, there is not a bad seat in the house.

Any suggestions that we missed!? We can’t wait for summer in Colorado.

Denver Happenings – Food Trucks at Civic Center

Hello all, Shelby here. Summer is my favorite season in Denver. There are a few things that always make it feel like summer to me – the first time I can stay out at night without a jacket, the smell of sunscreen, and a show at Red Rocks. In the past few years, Food Trucks at Civic Center Park have become one of those things that signify summer is here. My work colleagues and I love getting out of the office and walking over to Civic Center Park for food truck lunches.

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In the last five years that I have been working downtown I have seen this grow massively (like all of Denver, really).  It used to just be a handful of Food Trucks and now there are so many different choices and they have tables and umbrellas and live music.

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Join in on the fun each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this summer!

Would you Wallpaper?

Lately I have been digging wallpaper. Not the tacky  80’s flowers but  more Downton Abbey in style. The right wallpaper can look so elegant.

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(Image from HomeAdore)

I don’t think I could commit to a full room but I think I would like to do an accent wall.  These are the looks I am liking. I especially love removable wallpaper because it you hate it, its not a huge mess to just change your mind about.

From Wall Need Love– I like the fresh, bright, and playful giant lemons!

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From Hygge and West– So whimsical and dreamy. I might use this in a nursery or even my own room. I feel like I would wake up happy.

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This Weekend-Yard Makeover

Hi, Happy Friday! Shannon here. This weekend we are beautify-ing our yard. All summer we plan on hanging out outside for morning coffee on the porch and evening get togethers in the backyard.

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I want the space to feel inviting, cozy and easy. I am thinking white lights, adorondak chairs and some blue and white linen somewhere. I want to plant flowers in the yard  that we can put on the tables and create a wall in the backyard to grow herbs.

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What are you up to this weekend?

I’ll share some before and after pics next week!

(Photos from Local Milk)

An Evening with Elizabeth Gilbert

Recently I went to a reception and talk by Elizabeth Gilbert in DenverThe reception before the event featured antipasto spreads, wine, and Elizabeth Gilbert. We got to meet Elizabeth Gilbert! Her demeanor was calm, genuine, and exuded friendliness. It has been a long time since I met a stranger (even though I have read every single one of her books) that was easy and happy and chatty in the first 5 seconds.

After the reception my friend and I settled into our seats. The stage was setup like  living room so it felt like an intimate conversation. Elizabeth got right into it. She was not some peppy motivation speaker that was like do this and everything will be amazing and perfect.  Rather, she just shared her personal story and spiritual journey and how she spent too much time pretending to be someone she was not. In all the beautiful words her thoughts on fear and creativity resonated most with me.

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Gilbert said that fear can hold us back but that we don’t need to have this attitude of  “I am going to kick in the butt” I am going to “overcome my fear!” The aggressive nature we have can be harmful. Fear keeping us back actually saves our lives. There is a purpose for it, like in an emergency, so don’t dismiss fear’s purpose.  I used to  give myself “mean pep talks”  all too often and I felt sad, not motivated, after. I never thanked fear for how much it has helped me.

Elizabeth said to acknowledge fear for all that it has done for us. She said to thank it for keeping us safe and then gently remind fear that you will not be needing its services right now. I loved that she acknowledged that fear plays a role, but that it doesn’t need to overwork itself and dabble in all areas of our life.

Instead of taking the path of fear Gilbert argued for taking the path of creativity. She said the stakes are never as high as you think they are and that the worst case scenario is that you fail. She kept saying “No one is going to die over your mistakes.”  (Unless you are a Doctor or something ;/)

I am going to take Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice. I will gently thank and then remind fear that I am doing okay, and don’t need its services at the moment.

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Neighborhood Food Love

Shelby here, with another fave from our neighborhood – Black Eye Coffee in LoHi.

You all know about my favorite bakery in the neighborhood, but I go to Black Eye Coffee when I need something specific:  avocado toast.  I have tried to recreate it at home, but to no avail.  They also have amazing lattes made with housemade cashew milk!

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I also appreciate the great design here.  Lots warm wood and filled with greenery.

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Go try the cashew lattes and avo toast this weekend!

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