Sunday, September 29, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - Planning

BIRTH PLANS & DOULAS

One of the many scary parts of labor, at least for a first timer, is not knowing what’s going to happen other than “I’ll have painful contractions and eventually have to push a giant baby out of a small orifice”. If you take a class, you will learn about what to expect from the experience. In that class, you’ll be asked, or at least advised, to make a birth plan.

A birth plan is basically a bulleted list of what you want during labor. Things like whether or not you want an epidural or some other drug for pain relief, who you want present during labor and delivery, what positions you want to labor in, where you want the baby after he/she is out (get cleaned up first or directly on you), and other related things.

My birth plan basically had line after line of “I want…” or “I don’t want…” though maybe phrased a little more politely. I didn’t want drugs to even be offered and I wanted no intervention or augmentation. Everything on mine leaned towards “just leave me alone so my body can work its magic”.

The only other important thing on it was that I wanted immediate skin on skin contact once my baby girl was out and that I wanted her to room in with me. Luckily the hospital was “baby friendly” and that was already in their policy. The Baby Friendly Initiative makes hospitals much more conducive to natural childbirth and breastfeeding, so I was very happy we were on the same page.

I’ve since learned that the primary purpose of a birth plan is for the couple. My doctor/midwife(s) honestly never cared much about it, and it was never looked at in the hospital. It helps you get your desires and expectations in order for what you want the experience to be like so you can express that to whoever delivers. Just remember that this is one of those things in life that you can’t plan. After all, the baby never read your birth plan, so he/she is going to come in their own time however they please.

Another thing that helps take the fear out of labor, as well as helping with labor itself, is a doula. You might learn about a doula in a birthing class, or at least hear of one, but that’s not guaranteed. My definition of a doula is a birth assistant separate from your birth coach (who in my case was my husband). She can help with labor positions, support you and your partner in little things like food and drinks, generally anything you might need. As an example, in my case, she helped me with my breathing, some labor positions, and even held one of my legs and held my head up while I pushed.

Because we were taking a Bradley class so Greg could be my birthing coach, we debated whether or not we needed a doula. In the end, we decided we wanted one as a safety net. However, our search for one was daunting because in our area, we were only finding ones that were like $900. With all due respect to the profession, we just weren’t paying that much.

In our class, we had a guest who shared her birth story who happened to be a doula. She talked some about it and mentioned a list you could get on where newer doulas look for clients. This sounded like something we wanted because they would be cheaper and we’re jerks like that.

She put us on the list and we got some quick responses within a couple days. Three ended up coming to our home to meet with us and it made for a very difficult decision. They were all very nice and each had their perks and experiences, so we liked all of them. Ultimately we went with the one that we were just the most comfortable with. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. The cool thing was that we were her first solo birth which I feel added an extra bond. She turned out to be an amazing decision, because she’s awesome and I don’t know if I could’ve done it without her.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

REVIEW: A Very Demon Christmas by Evanne Lorraine

***This book was originally reviewed for Book Trailer Showcase.***
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Summary:

Holly loves her job as a private nurse, but the ill and injured offer little chance to explore her secret longings, especially not for a submissive seeking a master worth risking her heart. When she braves the exclusive La Ceinture Noire, a mysterious dom takes charge of her. She never sees his face, but she'll never forget his powerful mastery.

Demon hunter Colin avoids the sweetly submissive nurse next door because she doesn't deserve to be drawn into his nightmare world. No one does. All he has to offer her is pain and heartbreak. He damn near trips over his own tongue when he spots her in red lace lingerie at the club. After a too brief interlude with the enchanting little slave, he comes to his senses, and alters her memory of their encounter before leaving.

But there's more to Holly than he suspects. For openers, she's immune to his mind games. He can't erase her memories without serious damage and he can't bear to hurt her. The more she learns about him, the greater her jeopardy. How can he keep her safe through a very demon Christmas?

Thoughts:

This was a very erotic book; an edgy BDSM tale that doesn’t cross the line, it’s great for BDSM lovers and in between readers alike. Colin is sexy and cute as a big bad demon with a tender, loving, protective side, and Holly is the kind of woman most women will relate to on some level. Her nerves, self-doubt, but ultimate core strength made for a heroine with depth to match the hero. The author has woven an exciting story in an interesting, versatile world with heartbreaking twists that bring tears and closure. Overall feeling is this is a very satisfying hot read.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

REVIEW: Granite Kiss by Jennifer Cole

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Can a determined librarian convince a mythological beast of the night that fairytales do come true?

A good book, a puzzle to solve, a riddle to master--these all get Elena Xavier’s blood pumping. But is her drive for a solution enough to break a powerful wizard’s curse and free the beast of her dreams?

Over two hundred years ago a man was cursed by a spell of humility and his mortal life ended. Now he soars across the heavens under cover of darkness, praying to the gods for an end to his tortured existence.

Elena has one chance. Her problem-solving abilities are put to the ultimate test when she finds herself in a race against time. She has until the stroke of midnight on All Hallow’s Eve to solve a riddle. Then, only consummation with her one true love will undo the ancient incantation cast centuries before. One obstacle stands in her way--a very stubborn gargoyle reluctant to follow his heart.

Thoughts:

I thought this book was actually very sweet. The plot was pretty predictable, but the characters are kind of adorable (especially for being gargoyles) and you just don’t really care if it’s predictable anymore. For being a fairly short book, Jennifer Cole does a good job of bringing out the relationship between the hero and heroine, while also bringing out some personality in the secondary characters. One really cool thing I found is the tone in the beginning, which is set in 1792, is very different than the rest of the story, which is set in present day. My last note is that the ending is just too cute…that’s all I have to say about that! *giggles*

My complaints are few, but my biggest one is pretty typical…why do women always have to get emotional and overreact? And why are men always so damned stubborn? Sigh, whatever, they still get over themselves when the time comes *grins*. I have only one real complaint, and that is that there’s really not much on the villain, and when he shows up for the big reveal, he’s contradictory to the way I expected given previous descriptions, as well as to his own agenda. But who cares about the villain anyway when you’ve got a fearless woman in the face of a sexy gargoyle?

Overall, I’d give the story a 4 out of 5 and the same for heat level. There are some pretty steamy scenes, and the most pivotal one towards the end is the best in the book!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

REVIEW: Cupcake Boys by Melanie Thompson

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Steven Henderson and Leslie Carlyle have been friends since childhood. When they opened Baby Cakes, a cupcake store, they had no competition. When a new cupcake shop opens and starts eating away at their business, it's war.

Loner Duke Waldon owns three cupcake stores and is opening a fourth. He didn't realize his newest store had to compete against the most delicious, tempting cupcakes ever baked! When he discovers his competitors are a tall blond bombshell and a tempting young gay man, he knows he's in trouble. He decides to ferret out their secrets no matter what he has to do.

Thoughts:

I hadn’t peeked at the blurb before reading this book, so looking at the cover and title, I was expecting a M/M romance. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a ménage story!

The good: Steven and Leslie’s characters were consistent in their behaviors and attitudes, and their bond is strong throughout the story. I LOVE a happy ending, and I got pretty much everything I wanted out of this one, plus I enjoyed the steamy hot uninhibited sex scenes.

The bad: Duke was a complete a**hat through the majority of the book, until the turning point near the end. I felt that Steven and Leslie were too forgiving (at least much more so than I would’ve been), and the turnaround felt way too easy and fast. One big hindrance I found while reading was that now and then, the wrong name would appear. For example, at one point we’re focused on Steven as he’s talking to Leslie and the narration calls him Duke, when Duke isn’t present in the scene anywhere.

To sum it up, the conflict felt a little too drawn out and sometimes painfully awkward only to be resolved seemingly too easily and quickly, but I still enjoyed the book overall.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

REVIEW: Seduced by a Shifter by Jennifer Dellerman

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Willow Yancy lost her career as a ballet dancer, and nearly her life, after being in the right place at the wrong time. Located by her shooter, she's transferred and placed into the protection of people who have secrets of their own. As bait to lure the enemy, she'll accept all the help she can get, especially if it comes from the one man who makes her body sizzle with desire.

Ben Alexander is a charming ski instructor and go-to guy for the Colorado shifter wolf pack. His engaging attitude lands him baby-sitting duty- only this baby turns out to be a gorgeous redhead that captivates his senses. With the pending full moon, Ben must tell Willow the truth about himself and many of those she's come to call friends. A daunting task because if she runs, she'll destroy him. Yet how can she resist being seduced by a shifter?

Thoughts:

I loved this book! It was sweet, sexy, romantic, and fun. Willow has a quiet strength about her, and Ben is such a giver. They really make a great couple when they stop overthinking it. The shifter world that’s created is a neat and family oriented one, making for fun and friendly people. The dynamic of Willow not knowing about the Shifter secret and everyone trying to hide it from her allows for many awkward moments, but are offset by some hilarious ones built on inside jokes and some very surprised Shifters.

Other than some editing issues, mostly consisting of typos, I don’t really have any complaints about this story. Although I do wish I’d read the previous books in the series (I believe this is book 4), but I guess I can go do that now :D!

I’d say the story gets a 4 and the heat gets a 5. Overall it was very enjoyable and incredibly sexy. Her bodyguards are adorable and I love them, and the only thing left to say is…I want to make Rome purr.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

REVIEW: Special Force by Brynn Paulin

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Amelia Barker and Keon Munro are about to meet face-to-face for the first time. With F-16 butterflies dive-bombing her belly, she nervously awaits her soldier and the promises he made over the internet. Fresh off deployment, Keon is ready for some one-on-one action with the woman who captured his heart through cyberspace. Too bad she’s not who he thinks she is. Either way, she’d better be ready for his special force. He’s been dreaming of this night for months, and her sweet behind is his.

Thoughts:

This is a quickie read, but oh so enjoyable. I’m a sucker for a man in uniform, so I loved the military angle, and the homecoming scenario that’s created. Though I’ve never been in that position, the way it’s portrayed feels authentic. The dynamic between the characters feels a little awkward at first, but once they get past big secret, the chemistry is sizzling.

The reference to “special force” might give you the idea that this story has some BDSM in it, and Keon absolutely exudes that commanding persona, but there is no actual bondage or anything so it’s not as taboo as it might sound. Though I will say there’s a little spanking involved.

Besides the sexy aspect, I enjoyed the emotional bond they have, especially when it really shone through as they consider and discuss their potential future (even if it was a short conversation :P).


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

REVIEW: Obeying Olivia by Kim Dare

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Mark’s been working as a bartender at the monthly meeting of local female dominants for months. He’s played out scenes, he’s knelt, he’s served to the best of his ability, but he’s still yet to date any woman who inspires inside him a genuine desire to completely submit in the way he’s always desired.

There’s one domme at the meetings who Mark longs to submit to—Olivia—but she’s never shown any interest in him, and he knows it’s not his place to approach her. When he suddenly feels someone watching him across the room, Mark doesn’t expect it to be Olivia. He really doesn’t expect the interest he feels in her to be returned either. However, Mark needs to learn to expect the unexpected, once he starts obeying Olivia.

Thoughts:

This story is a little quickie, bringing you heat and a happy ending. We start off just as Olivia get Mark in her sights, and we follow them through their first encounter that will hopefully bring them everything they are both looking for. Because of the short length of the book, we only get the one experience, and we really don’t get enough character building. While I felt some connection with Mark, I felt almost none with Olivia.

Despite only getting the one scene, the good news is that it’s a pretty hot one. You get what’s expected with her driving everything, but it’s all pretty low-key. I guess I expected the stereotypical dominatrix (this was my first read of this particular genre), so I was pleasantly surprised with the gentleness and mutual respect that existed between the pair.

Overall, I’d give the heat a 4 out of 5 rating and the story a 3 out of 5 rating, mostly just because it just felt too short.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

REVIEW: Night with a Dom by Casea Major

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Melody Manning’s workaholic ambition, coupled with a slave-driving former boss, has made her the youngest market analyst in her firm. It’s also killed her personal life, including losing her fiancé. When she receives a message from him on New Year’s Eve announcing his engagement to another woman, Mel loses it. Her new, more compassionate boss has the perfect solution for her—get laid. Good and laid.

At his suggestion, she signs up with the 1Night Stand service, listing her deepest sexual desires on the application. A speedy response from Madame Eve has Melody on her way to Sonoma Valley wine country and a one-night stand with a mysterious Dom.

The sexy, masked Master promises to get to the bottom of her guilt and provide ultimate satisfaction under the safety of his stern hand. After an emotional night of submission and uninhibited passion, will her lover’s unmasking lead to the end of their encounter or give Mel another chance at love?

Thoughts:

I actually really enjoyed this book! With any story about BDSM you expect that hard, dominant tone throughout, but while this one has that, it also has a playful tone that was very endearing. Frankly the combination made it sexy as hell!

The story, while predictable, was still enjoyable and well played out. Mel’s one night stand wears a mask, so the author’s build up to the big reveal has you on the edge of your seat. My favorite part is when we get to see the softer side of a Dom *wink*. My only complaint is that it was short and most of the experience felt like build up to a short lived event…I wanted more!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

REVIEW: Loaded Question by Cassandra Carr

***This book was originally reviewed for The Forbidden Bookshelf.***
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Summary:

Rob adores his girlfriend, Daisy. She’s a Southern belle girly-girl, which is perfect, except for one thing. As much as Daisy likes sex, she draws the line at oral. She’s not good at it, and Rob has resigned himself to doing without. That is, until Daisy offers to get a tutor. Is this a great idea or the worst mistake Rob has ever made?

Thoughts:

I am not normally one who particularly enjoys dwelling on the oral part of foreplay, but this was pretty damn hot. Every good couple strives to better themselves to please each other, and when Daisy asks Rob if there’s anything he wants or that she could do better, he answers honestly, fearing it could ruin them. What a pleasant surprise when she decides to do something about it, rather than slap him and run.

The tutor they hire is sexy, hot, and is surprisingly kind, especially for a Dom. This short story takes you on a ride as a couple tries to spice up their sex life and realize how much they love each other. The character development is great for a novella, and the story sexy and compelling, and hell maybe even just a little educational *wicked grin*.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - 3rd Trimester

THIRD TRIMESTER

Now begins the home stretch. It’s a little surreal to be in the third trimester because it suddenly seems very imminent that birth will happen. Obviously it’s got to happen eventually, but it’s suddenly very real and feels kind of like “omg it could happen any time” in your head. At least that’s how I felt.

Oddly enough, transition from second trimester to third happened a lot quicker than first to second. It was like a switch was flipped. I started feeling more tired and achy, a little nausea (the 3rd trimester seemed to mirror the 1st in the fatigue and nausea department, only not as severe – thankfully!), and I felt like my belly grew even faster. I couldn’t get comfortable sitting, standing, or even lying down much at all. This baby loved to be in my ribs making it hard to bend or even breathe.

The early movements from the second trimester, which felt like bubbles, are a lot more distinctive in the third trimester. You can mostly tell exactly what the baby is doing. Summersaults, turning, fidgeting, hiccups, and straight up kicks/punches to the ribs or cervix (those are fun ><) are very pronounced. It’s later in the third trimester when the baby has reached probably a good 6-7 lbs that those movements get lighter because they run out of room. My baby girl would still move, but it just looked like a wave across my belly instead of staccato beats and started feeling fainter, and I could sometimes not even tell if she was moving, which tended to freak me out, especially if I woke up on my back…repeatedly.

Just a note that the reason it’s bad to sleep on your back, especially in the third trimester, is because the primary blood supply to the uterus is in the back, so the weight of the baby if you lie on your back can restrict blood flow. However, that doesn’t mean you should panic simply because you woke up on your back sometime in the night. I would go to sleep on my side and wake up on my back all the time, and my daughter turned out perfectly.

My baby shower was on July 27th, which put me at about 35 weeks. Two days later I literally felt like I’d grown tremendously. Even the hubby couldn’t deny that I suddenly looked a lot bigger even just overnight. It was weird. As I’ve already delivered by the time I’m writing this, I can look back and think that despite the doctor saying that the sensation of the baby dropping would feel a certain way and be visually noticeable, maybe I’m one of the weirdos that are different and that’s how I presented as having “dropped”. It was after that point that I really waddled and needed help with things like standing and I could no longer reach to put my own shoes on.

I started getting antsy about everything. Before the shower I was anxious about getting the nursery put together, and once the shower happened, I had the nursery set up within the week. I started wondering when labor would happen and what the birth would really be like. Fear of going into labor before 36/37 weeks was ever present, but that’s because I can be a paranoid pessimist. It didn’t help that the Braxton Hicks contractions picked up in frequency quite a bit.

All of this is normal though. The third trimester is a time when the finishing touches are happening for the baby in the belly still and mom is putting the finishing touches on her life to prepare for baby. Something I think all moms-to-be should keep in mind though is that there is no truly “ready”. There is “as ready as one can be”.