Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cit-ay: day 3

This will actually be a short blog. I'm not lying. I know, alert the presses, right?

As promised... day 3 synopsis.

It wasn't quite as eventful as days one or two, but more fun because we were with Daddy (YAY!). I'm thankful that Daddy called the bay home for enough years to be able to take us around town without getting lost (as I most certainly would have). And also that he can parallel park.

We started our day with Bob's Donuts. Daddy ran (literally) to the store in the early morning (a mile or so from the hotel I guess) while Ella and I enjoyed our last moments on the Hilton linens (they are fabulous btw). He didn't have running shoes (or shorts, or shirt) so he did this in jeans and brown dress shoes. He's that good. The kind Asian lady at Bob's told Daddy he could eat donuts because he ran. He returned, pastries in hand, slightly sweaty but still astonishingly fresh looking. We had the apple fritters and other tasty things. Yum.

After donuts and readying (which is not exactly like it used to be when it takes me an hour just to dry my hair in between diapers and feedings) we set out to do some touristy stuff. Namely Crissy Field and the Palace of Fine Arts. A year ago my sweet and I sat around the water at the Palace of Fine Arts eating sandwiches and talking about our future. Oh how things have changed wonderfully in the last year.

Us at Crissy Field (a good view of the GG Bridge). Daddy took this picture using the "stretch your own arm out in front of you" picture taking method and it turned out far better than the alternative "ask a British tourist to take your picture" picture taking method. We can both complain about our hair because the wind was, well windy. Ella had her hat though (plus she has so little hair it's irrelevant).
We then went to Nini's in Burlingame which is basically the best place ever to get breakfast. Ever. But we didn't get breakfast because it was 1 pm. I guess we both felt a little conspicuous ordering pancakes for lunch. After that is was into San Mateo to a great little toy store (well not so little) where we got the kiddies some treasures and me an AWESOME 3D puzzle of Neuschwanstein Castle. My favoritist castle ever (I mean that's not saying much since I haven't been to like a hundred castles or anything but this one is fantastic). It was probably the only castle I cared to see when I was living in Germany because it looks like something right out of a Disney movie and I'm totally into that fairytale crap (Not really, but what other reason is a castle appealing?). Just as a short history lesson King Ludwig II (it was his castle, though I'm sure you figured that out) died in the lake just below the castle. Hm. The water was only knee deep. Hm. You can read about it here. I'm not trying to force a history lesson upon you or anything but he drown in knee deep water AND he was an excellent swimmer. And his psychiatrist was with him and ALSO drown. Dun. Dun. Dun.

This is Ludwig: Fantastic hair right?

That concludes the history lesson.

This also concludes the blog post.

Next time: We'll talk about, well I don't know yet, I wait for inspiration. We might just talk about 12 year old boy's hormones. Because our house is currently overrun with them. And I fear I might be losing my mind.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ci-tay: day two

*I acknowledge there is no day one post. We were busy. That sums it up.

Ella is debuting her new sunskygrasscloudsflower hat today. Original design by dad and mom. You can't believe the number of comments we got on this hat. It bordered on absurd. I'm going to start mass producing (better photos to come).

Well here Ella and I are in the City. Capital C. San Francisco. We had a rather eventful day while dad worked at the Paypal Innovate Conference. I don't know what it is exactly, but apparently a rather big deal in the world of the computer-y types. Brilliant.

We started our day at Happy Donuts. It was pretty Happy. Even Happier though, the several drunk bums outside.

Walking around the Tenderloin was probably not one of my better ideas. However, I clearly learned nothing from that experience because I went back again. More on that later. If you don't know what the Tenderloin is please feel free to read the Wiki article linked above. Don't not feel obliged to visit. It's really not necessary.

While in the Tenderloin I did have a rather pleasant exchange with two fellows who were, let's just say, not employed... or showered. Anyway, I was clearly trying to avoid their secondhand smoke when one of the gentlemen (I use the term lightly) said to the other (while waving his hands about frantically), "Dude. Move out of the way asshole, there's a BABY on that lady." (I'm paraphrasing). The other fellow (I won't even ironically use the word gentlemen) said, "WHAT?!" To which bum #1 replied, "RETARD. It's a BAMBINO. She don't want your smoke f%$*er." Then...."Awwww. She's cute too." So there you go. All is not lost.

After that it was Union Square. That was a treat (once I found it). Ella was snug in the Maya and we hit up several stores. Old Navy. Sephora. Other stuff. Why bother with the Union Square Old Navy you ask? Well because it's Union Square of course. Three stories of clothing bliss (well not bliss exactly. Just clothes.) Also we found a not so little shoe store where I picked up some new tennies since my existing ones were basically making me wish I could saw off my own feet at the ankle. During this time we talked to some very interesting folks, most of which stopped to comment on either a. Ella's hat or b. the Maya. I managed to nurse twice, while walking, as I learned that, much to my dismay, SF has almost no public seating. No surprise I guess as the aforementioned bums would probably have been sleeping and/or living on them.

After our shopping and mobile nursing adventures I was getting pretty famished. Also I was quite tired from walking and lugging Ella and bags around. I stopped at the first reasonable place to eat. Blondie's Pizza. Do not believe everything you read because yelper's give this place a way too generous 3 stars. I can tell you I had what was undoubtedly the very worst piece of vegetarian pizza I've ever had. In. My. Life. IN addition to the pizza travesty, the seating area was closed. What the heck man? And the soda had no lid. HELLO. I'm carrying 3 bags and a BABY for pete sake. After that nightmare I went back to the hotel dejected and ready for a nap.

Ella didn't want to sleep. Surprise.

Back out we went in search of coffee, chocolate or hopefully both. Yelp did not fail me this time. To Hooker's Sweet Treats I went (stopping along the way at a grocery store {using that term very loosely} to get a banana and some nuts) Ok so it was a bit of a hike back into Tenderloin but I met two very interesting men wearing pink outfits and walking a tiny white dog. We had a lengthy conversation about the intelligence of babies and how to keep your dog the whitest white (which was apparently very important to this particular fellow. Note: the answer is not bleach). One of the gentlemen (and he was indeed) was in his 70's no doubt and declared that babies are "tiny dictators". Never has a truer word been spoken by a 70 something year old man in a pink tracksuit. I should have taken his photo. Anyway, I waited for what turned out to be the very best mocha I've ever had accompanied by the most outstanding piece of dark chocolate covered sea salt sprinkled caramel. One word. Amazing. This is coffee and candy alchemy tucked in one of the trashiest neighborhoods I've ever had the pleasure of walking through.

This is Hooker's. It's the nicest place in a two block radius by far. Very far. Bonus: the table was decorated with flowers in blue ball glass jars (ala our wedding decor)

More shopping after that. And the following things of note:

1. The Apple store @ Union Square is absurdly large.
2. They are inventing a new language in the Tenderloin. Mostly using the f word.
3. If you'd like to buy a pair of Dolce & Gabana/Ray Ban/Maui Jim/Ralph Lauren/Spy sunglasses you may do so on O'Farrell Street for $10. They might be counterfeit. Just sayin.
4. If you walk around long enough someone will eventually accuse you of "lying to them to try to trick them into having sex with you... for one thousand years." He might not have been sane. Just sayin. After I left he started talking to the bottle he was holding.
5. You will be asked for money/change/booze/directions/the time, repeatedly.
6. You will see the largest variety of people anywhere. Where else can you see a guy in a pink tracksuits/a bunch of Asian guys wearing the same coat/a bunch of doctors/a lady dressed in a trashbag/three Italian couples discussing the inappropriateness of one of the ladies fur coats. In Italian. With hand gestures.
7. Also seen, a whole bunch of necklaces. Randomly displayed on a corner.
8. And... Trolley car displaying Giants flag.
9. And... A Muni car. Retro styling (this I believe is the 1960 car). I'm told by my hub (who called the Bay home for many years) that the muni sucks so bad the "hipsters won't even ironically ride it"

Tomorrow: Day 3

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sew Something Sunday

So... In anticipation of our adventure to the Big City, Ella could not be without proper head attire. She's thrilled about going to San Francisco. I can tell because she asked me to make sure she has outfits that fit in with the other Big City babies. And hats. Lots of hats. Also she likes chocolate from Ghirardelli's I'm pretty sure. And the Golden Gate Bridge (well the park at least). And The Museum of Modern Art. And Union Square. Who doesn't like Union Square?

Alas here's what I've come up with so far:

Pink Pom-Pom with felt appliques. This is so ridiculously easy to make (well if you know how to crochet, if you don't then you've got a bit of a problem). I whipped it up in probably an hour or so (if you subtract the time I spent changing diapers/breastfeeding/cleaning up/scolding Sean for saying 'I hate you' to his sister/folding laundry... if you don't subtract that, it took me 5 hours). It's made with some snazzy wool blend yarn with a label that has a lady riding a horse on it. If nothing else, the label would have sold me, but in any case, it was on sale for $3.99 at Michael's. This is not a value priced yarn I realize however, I've made two different sizes and I've still got lotsa yarn left. Love those scraps (not really, how many scrappy round ripples can I make?). The felt was $.29 a sheet. They were out of yellow. That's really inconsequential except I was pretty ticked. How do you run completely OUT of felt? Jerks. Anyway. We used green, blue, purple, orange and white.

Mouse with floppy ear (this version has tassles and earflaps because I was making a demo for Ella's sister Kelsey and she requested them). In the interest of not providing Ella with a germ collecting/slobber attracting/choke hazarding device I will remove these. As for now, because Ella is motivated by nothing more that a clean diaper and breast, she thinks they are for sucking on and promptly starts rooting in that cute little I don't mind if you suck on my cheek way that babies do. The ears are floppy, which is ironic because every woman in my family has such ears. It has yet to be determined if Ella is blessed with such a gift. I used Vanna's yarn for this one (yep. Vanna White has yarn). It crochets up pretty nice and it's cheap-ish :)

I am now in the process of making one more that is Matt's suggestion with my alterations. It includes a sun and cloud motif. It's going to be brilliant.

Friday, October 22, 2010

adventures in cloth diapering

The Rainbow of Pee and Poop Collectors (aka diapers):

Today's disclaimer: I am not trying to make mothers who do not cloth diaper feel guilty. I am not trying to suggest that anyone who throws a diaper in the trash is solely responsible for destroying the a. earth b. ozone layer or c. our children's futures. My intent to only to share what we do and why we do it (and maybe make you laugh about it).

I decided to do a short (who am I kidding nothing I write is short) blog about cloth diapering. This was motivated by the following: a. most mom's of the current day do not cloth diaper (henceforth known as CD) and therefore find the act mystical and mysterious (much like witches and wizards, and why people are still talking about Sarah Palin) and well just plain ol weird b. well, I just like to raise awareness and c. It gave me an excuse to post a picture of Ella's diapered bum which is cute.

First let me tell you why we decided to CD. It's partly what you would expect the reason to be if you know me. Because I like to make other mothers feel guilty (no just kidding. See: disclaimer). The environment. That's reason numero uno (disclaimer: I only know like 20 Spanish words and most of them are labor coaching words). You may find some information about the environmental impact here. I'll admit that website is by some people called the "Real Diaper Association" so I imagine they might be biased. Noted. However, even if they are biased, the fact is, in a baby's first year of life alone he or she will soil approximately 3,000 diapers. I don't know where I heard that number but it's fairly simple math. 8 or so diapers a day x's 365 days is like 2,900 ish. Close enough right. That's a LOT of poop and pee. And plastic. The argument has been made that perhaps the washing of cloth is equally harmful but I'd say that's a matter of opinion. We are pretty water conscious around here (and by that I mean when we boil corn on the cob my husband then uses it to water the plants. That's pretty conscious people.) and we still feel that the cloth is a more eco-friendly option. So there's that. Also I drive a reallly really big car (it's a Toyota Sequoia. They did not pay me to say that. I just did.). It uses gas. A lot. I try to save where I can. Frankly, what else are you going to put 4 kids (and their crap) in? Also it has two tv's (that's just in the interest of full disclosure, it's pretty sweet to have 2 tv's in your car but also totally unnecessary). Anyway, I can't plant a tree every time I go somewhere so I do what I can. Turn off the lights. Conserve water. Don't litter. Cloth diaper. :)

However there is another compelling reason to CD and if you don't believe me I invite you to come to our house and see for yourself (if you know where we live. If you don't please just take my word for it, you don't have to come to California just for me to prove a point). Point made. Cloth diapers feel good. Like really really good. Like so good I wish I wore diapers. Well not really but you get the point. Go ahead. Touch a dispo (that's CD slang for disposable) and touch a CD. There's really no comparison. Plus they're cute. And they aren't filled with toxic chemicals. Toxic. Chemicals. That's all.

We use fuzzibunz. I'll readily admit these are the Cadillac of CD'ing (I believe my friend Karen coined that term. She's awesome and also CD'ed her babe). I used the old flat folds and covers when my other kids were babies and they were kind of a PITA (that's short for pain in the ass, for future reference). The particular ones we bought are one size and will fit from birth to potty training, thanks to adjustable elastic and nice little snaps. This is not your momma's diaper folks. These beauties have a cute outer waterproof shell and a microfiber insert that you stuff inside a pocket. Thus why they are often referred to as "pocket" or AIO (all in one). No pins. No folding. Just stuff the pocket. Put in on the baby. Baby pees (or does something slightly messier) and you remove the inner liner from the pocket and toss into the hamper (or whatever). I swear as I live and breathe you do not have to touch poop (I don't really care because I've touched far worse than poop. I'll spare you the details, but I am a RN after all. It's messy.). Anyway no pee or poop hands.

Here's the diaper in two pieces:

And together (I wish there was touchavision because these suckers are soft):

Also... when the poop gets messier they make these fancy little liners that look like toilet paper. You just flush them right down the toilet. Viola. People fear the poop. I get it. The mess etc. But it's not what you think. When the baby does her business you just wipe her bottom down with a homemade baby wipe (recipe below), remove the liner and stuff it all (wipe included) inside the "icky" bag (pictured below). Many folks like to put the icky bag inside of a diaper pail. I probably will too eventually, but honestly the laundry room door works pretty well for now. Ella's poop isn't too stinky. And nothing sits long enough to smell like pee.

We also have travel size "icky" bag (pictured below). Good for dirty diapers and other things that are wet and/or stink. I wouldn't recommend banana peels though. They just rot.

(Yes it has her name on it. It's cute. I'm all about the cute.)

Anyway, when you're ready (which is about once a day for me), you just toss the whole bunch of dirty business, including the bag, right into the wash. Washing is simple. Soak and rinse in cold/cold then wash and rinse in hot/cold. The rinse is important. Residue makes smell. Take my word for it on that one. We use the products pictured below. I love the Charlies soap (however, it is kinda costly) but I started adding Borax to make sure the ammonia was gone and the Oxyclean every so often to combat stains (laying them in the sun works brilliantly. Sorry people who live in Washington state. You're going to have to find sun first.). The Arm and Hammer is a nice alternative to the Charlies (and about $5 for that big bottle so pretty cheap). No bleaching. No fabric softeners. Nothing with smelly stuff in it. It's important to know that products with things like fabric softener or perfumes will actually make your diapers less absorbent which is not good, unless you like to wake up to a bed full of poop and pee. Which I do not. Especially since we co-sleep mostly. (Note: Charlies did not pay me to endorse their product but it is really quite fantastic. Non-toxic, biodegradable, and good for sensitive butts. Fitting right in with my whole eco-conscious thing.)

I'd be kind of a jerk if I didn't address cost. The fuzzibunz aren't cheap. We have I think about 15 diapers which is enough if you're washing daily or every other day. And they're about $18-20 a pop (I got all of mine from eBay and paid using Paypal {this is a shameless plug for Paypal and eBay because my husband works for them and hey, someones gotta pay the bills so I can blog in my free time). Anyway, like I said not cheap. But overall still cheaper than buying package after package of plastic. I'm not gonna lie, again, I chose them because they were convenient. I thought the hubby wouldn't be intimidated by them (well he isn't intimidated by much but anyway) and the kids could use them (yeah right. Suuuuure) and hopefully when I go back to work (insert frown here) the daycare provider won't mind using them. They are super duper easy. There are about a billion (ok that's an exaggeration) CD options out there. You've got the AIO's, the plain old flatfolds with covers like gramma used, prefolds, Gdiapers (which are kind of a hybrid), wool soakers to cover the prefolds (which I would have used if I had done more research ahead of time, and I will in fact be crocheting some of these up shortly), the list goes on (not much longer though cause I listed a lot). Fabric options vary too. And I would be amiss if I didn't point out that the fuzzibunz are made of a microfiber which, while very soft, do tend to retain some ammonia smell and require special care to prevent that (again, I'd probably go with plain out flatfolds and wool covers for home use if I did it over, but I doubt many moms want to handwash and pin and all that crap. I don't blame them.).

All in all I'd say the CD experience has been great for everyone. Ella has a cute little (color coordinated) bottom (pictured below). She's suffered no rashes (other than being a tiny bit red from having some poop on her bottom at night once without me knowing). In fact we are getting ready to go to the Ci-tay (as Steve Perry would say) and I'm TERRIFIED of having to use dispos. She's got such sensitive skin. I love knowing I'm doing a nice thing for her butt by putting something cushy on it.

Here's our changing station (which amounts to a basket with diapers and the homemade wipes):

And Ella is wearing her pink diaper in this picture (cute right?).

That's the CD rundown. Feel free to ask questions. You make ask me if I'm crazy, but I swear I'm pretty sure I'm not.

Homemade wipe solution:

2 cups water
2 T baby wash
1 T baby oil

mix together and pour over your cleansing rags of choice (I bought wash rags from Target and store them in a rubbermaid container). Rags, pieces of flannel etc.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Pain Passion Paradox?

Or.... not so much.

Here's the disclaimer: I am going to talk about sex (you have been warned). Sex and love and passion and that kind of stuff. Not the pornographic kind (so it's safe for general reading) but more like the "stuff dreams are made" of kind. Read on my friends.

So recently this Stanford University study was published. Their mascot is a tree which has nothing to do with this blog post but I'm sure makes for an interesting half time at football games. I digress. They are a school of research, and a good one I hear, so the aforementioned study was both interesting and timely, considering my recent painful experience (I'm referring to childbirth. It hurts.).

You may go read the study, I'll wait (which I would recommend because a. it's interesting and b. this won't make too much sense if you don't) or alternatively I will summarize it for you here: Love relieves pain. Or rather, it diminishes our perception of it. Do I have your attention? Now, lest I be misunderstood, not just any kind of love but the "passionate, all-consuming" kind. Still have your attention? Sounds pretty good right? In a nutshell the study participants were subjected to a "mild" pain and asked to 1. Look at photos of their "loved" one 2. Look at photos of an "equally attractive" acquaintance (whatever that means) and 3. think of sports that "involve balls" (because distraction too can be a pain reliever) and rate pain whilst doing said activities.

So obviously they are in fact not talking about pain equivalent to childbirth pain. That would be both difficult and cruel to emulate. Plus it has been suggested that the pain of labor is not like any pain you'll ever experience. Conversely, it has also been said that you can actually attain orgasm during labor and birth and I believe it. I do (I've watched that movie, by the way and it was pretty outstanding). But I'd have to say I fall in the former category of women who happens to think labor hurts. Kinda bad. It definitely does Not (capital N) feel like an orgasm to me. I mean I've never had a kidney stone and I've never been shot. I've only broken my toe once (which hurt pretty bad), severed my toe once (which again, hurt pretty bad, plus was very bloody) and stress fractured my leg running (which obviously didn't hurt enough because I kept running long enough to actually break it all the way). Anyway, labor hurt way worse than any of that. I don't want to shoot down the orgasm claims though because well... parts of labor felt pretty good.

So... if we can accept this basic principle it will assist greatly in the proof of the hypothesis:

Getting a baby out is a lot like getting a baby in, if you know what I mean.

Wink. Wink. (and thank you Ina May Gaskin for that). Now, something you may or may not know about me is I was a L&D RN. Before that I was a doula. In addition to those professional experiences I've given birth to four babies. Their births differed greatly however which is why I am now an expert on the subject (Note: I'm not really an expert on anything, except pie. Which I like. A lot.). Babies 1-3 were basically the same kind of births with similar pain experiences. I'll give you a quick rundown (I'm not going to go too deeply into what happened, or what I wish I'd done differently because that would make this particular post a novel. I'll save it. Read on.):

Baby #1: I was "overdue" (whatever) @ 41 weeks and induced using the prostaglandin/pitocin/ AROM (that's artificial rupture of membranes, for the non-birth junkie types) method. I had contractions basically every 2-2.5 minutes ALL NIGHT LONG and dilated to 2 whole centimeters. This is when I realized that pitocin hurts. Bad. I caved in a got an epidural at 12 hours of labor on the OB's suggestion because I was "going to be in labor all day". Well that and who am I kidding, it hurt like hell. She was born 3 hours later (for a total of 16 hours). The epidural made me so numb I felt like I had no legs, which I hated, so I had them turn it down. She was born after 15 minutes of pushing and I had enough sensation to know what to do but not too much pain during that phase. P.S. Pitocin hurts like a mother f*er (pardon the expletive)

Baby #2: Suspected to be macrosomic (that's bigger than 9 lbs, which he was exactly). I was induced using AROM/pitocin. Epidural at 4 cm (which was 2 pm). Pit hurts. Even with an epidural it hurts (HELLO it's supposed to take the pain AWAY). He was born at 4 pm (12 hours of labor). 3 or so pushes. Again very little pain during delivery but the pit was murder. Again.

Baby #3: Was feared to be bigger than #2 (but was in fact only 8 lbs) so I was yet AGAIN induced (I was educated, very, but fearful and not in the mood to argue with the medical establishment. Again. Another post. Another day.) This time cervical ripening/pit/AROM (in that order). Transition was AWFUL. I had no space between contractions. I was pacing and basically out of my mind. The intrathecal came right before he delivered so the getting him out phase was almost painless. I pushed like once, and poof, out he came (9 hours of labor). I felt pretty powerful after that birth because it was really painful. Somehow pain equaled power. I don't get it. I'm just sayin. P.S. Pitocin hurts like a son of a gun. In case I haven't mentioned.

This brings me to #4. Let me preface this by saying I went into this homebirth ready to handle whatever was thrown at me. I knew there were be no epidural or pain relief but I wasn't afraid. I just knew it would be fine. Moving on.

Baby #4: Ahhhh. Baby #4. There would be no artificial measures. You can read the birth if you haven't already (as it's linked above). No pitocin. No AROM. Just some Kung Pao chicken and my water breaking. Then labor and birth (well slightly more complicated than that but you get the idea). It hurt. Let me tell you how bad it hurt... at one point during my labor I actually said out LOUD, "I don't know what all the fuss is about, I could do this 10 times." And I totally meant it. She was a little tougher to get out, taking 6 whole minutes, 5 of which she was stuck (14 hour labor total). HELLO pain, pleasure principle. P.S. Pitocin can kiss my behind.

So what's the difference you ask? Let me tell you. First let's go back to my being an expert. I have to have knowledge of both pain AND love to be credible (and I have to have experienced both I'd say, to even be believable). In light of the study and how it relates to this blog, let me say, I am in love. Like LOVE. The real deal kind. My husband and I are a perfect match. And I am not even exaggerating (I'm just trying to make a point here, not rub it in). I should disclose that we are newly wedded. Well if you look at the pictures over there <---- you can see we are VERY newly wedded. But again, no joke. We are so deeply in love that I swear I can't tell sometimes where one of us ends and the other begins (you may throw up... now). Anyway, we decided to make a baby and we did. Also we continued to remain intimate throughout our pregnancy, even up to hours before her birth (hey, I warned you). We just love each other. We both love sex equally and think it's fun. Plus he's a really great kisser (I'm pretty sure that makes a difference). Ok I'm done now. Moving on. With that in mind it should follow that we'd love each other during labor too. And we did. We showered. We danced. We hugged. We kissed. In short, we acted just like we would on any normal day. We had a birth team (the midwife, two good female friends, and the 3 other kids) and we discussed before Ella's birth if their presence would have a negative impact on our ability to act normally intimate and we felt it would not, and it did not (if you know them, ask Staci and Jenny, they'll tell you. If you don't know them you just have to take my word for it). So how painful was this labor? Wait for it... Not a fraction as painful as my previous 3. Not. A. Fraction. And I had EPIDURALS with them. Epidurals. The absolute in absolute pain relief. I'm not making this up. For the sake of science and the well being of birthing women everywhere I don't think my husband would object to my saying that our intimacy was the single biggest factor in my perception of pain. His being a sweet and gentle and generally loving man was THE thing that made this labor so different. Oh sure, there was no pitocin which undeniably makes labor more painful (read: miserable). Oh sure, there was the birthing pool, which undeniably makes you feel less pain (read:water-dural). Oh sure, I was at home, which undeniably makes you more comfortable. I ate pancakes. I listened to Bob Marley. These are all huge factors as well. I'll admit. But the one factor, the thing I could get only from him, was love. The real deal kind of passionate love. And if it is possible (read: it is possible), Ella's birth actually made us even CLOSER than we were before. Thank you honey.

And thank you Stanford for studying for a year what I could have told you in 14 short hours. Love makes all the difference.

And this is what it looks like...
and this...
and this...

and this.

Tuesdays with Ella... or Ellawearing

Recently my dear, sweet husband went back to work. I should amend this to say he went back to work AWAY from home. See, he is a programmer (At least that's what he says he is, as far as I can tell he just types all day. No I'm kidding. He works.... I think.). Essentially all of his work could be done from the sofa. Nice, right? Nice. Nice for a couple of reasons (here I go with the numbered lists again). 1. I love him and I get to see him all day 2. He cooks (really well. Honey, if you're reading this can we have chicken chow mein?) and 3. Our DD (that's short for dumb dog not dear daughter) would probably starve if he was gone everyday.

In any case, while he is home a few days a week (working on the couch, I'm really trying to work on my envy problem), his job necessitates some travel for a couple of days a week (Because otherwise the HUGE Internet Company he works for, I'm not naming names but it's HUGE. That's all.) might doubt that he actually exists in human form. So he drives some distance for a couple of days a week to show his face and do some social work (and by social work I mean it's not unheard of that there might be cake and champagne in the office. I can't tell you where he works because EVERYONE would want to work at a place that has this much fun). Anyway because Huge Internet Company isn't in the tiny valley town we live in when he works away from home he is actually AWAY from home. Now, because the children (aside from the one attached to me) are with their father right now (not him, duh.) Ella and I are left to our own devices for those days he is gone. Which gives me loads and loads of time to do... well... not much. This brings me to my point... (it look a long time to get there I acknowledge)

Ellawearing. Known to people with babies of other names as "______(insert your baby's name here) wearing". This is not a new or revolutionary concept I realize. Oh sure now we have companies that sell devices for mothers such as myself (you may find my favorites here and here) but I might share with you that this has been done for years. Probably millions of them. My great granny herself told stories of picking cotton with a baby strapped to here ala The Grapes of Wrath or to take it even further back to her Native American ancestors who wrapped their babies tightly and tied them to themselves for the purposes of hunting, gathering and trying to get away from the White Man (I can say this because though I am genetically mostly White (Wo)Men I am also Cherokee and Creek Indian). Moving on, what surprises me most about Ellawearing is not the loads of things I can get done but rather the number of people who look at me like I'm an enigma. It may be partly where I live. There aren't many hippies (or liberals) here. Homebirth is insane. People that tandem nurse are crazy. Families that ride their bikes instead of using their cars are weird. Mom's that babywear are rarely seen and therefore must be a. co-dependant b. a hippy c. insane or d. a liberal (not that we'd recognize one). We should probably move. Oh well anyway, another blog for another day. So it's partly where I live but I think it's mostly just that I kind of am an enigma. I told the cashier in Panera that I had my baby at home and she replied "Like, on purpose?" Yes. Indeed. Anyway.

Ella is 5 weeks old Sunday. We have been to 1. Panera Bread. 2. Whole Foods. 3. Trader Joe's. 4. Walmart (more than I'd care to admit) 5. Target 6. Out to dinner to various restaurants etc etc etc and I'm proud to say Ella's infant carrier carseat has never, not once even, left the car. Her stroller (I'm pretty sure we have one) is somewhere in the carhole (I didn't make that up, my husband says that's French for garage). I have worn Ella to eat, shop, vacuum, fold laundry, make the bed, make breakfast, lunch and dinner, clean, tidy, chase other children, attend back to school night and even go to the bathroom (that last one may be taking it a little far I realize but hey, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do to facilitate use of the facility). Anyway, this is nothing new to me, I was a fan of Dr. Sears before I even knew Dr. Sears existed, before the internet and before there was a book that said you were... wait for it... supposed to wear your baby. I can't say when the concept of Attachement Parenting was first so aptly named but I can say I did it before I knew there were books to tell you how. Because it just seemed like what you were supposed to do.

Back to granny. She was born in 1908. She weighed 12 pounds and didn't get a name until she was 3 months old. My granny wasn't a touchy feely lady at all. She chewed tobacco and drank wine from a box (white zinfandel no less, she wouldn't have recognized a good Cabernet if it hit her int he face). She wore pants and used a circular saw. She pulled weeds until she lost her fingernails. She actually cooked food on a stove that used FIRE. Fire I tell you. She read the bible and she believed firmly in the use of a fly swatter for discipline if she couldn't get to you with her bare hand (see: Spare the Rod Spoil the Child) but she knew how to attachment parent. No one told her how. She nursed cause she had to, who else was going to feed them kids. She wore her babies because, hey that cotton wasn't picking itself. She responded to their needs because, well crying was kind of annoying. She was born at home and gave birth at home because it just "didn't make no sense" to go to the hospital, plus if she left who was going to behead and fry the chicken. Period.

It seems simple to me. You make a baby. You nurture it in your body. You do what you can to give him or her the best start. You birth it safely (you know at home [I'll admit I'm partial to that option] or the hospital or wherever you see fit). Then you love it. How do you love it? Well you keep it close to you. You co-sleep or adopt the family bed policy. You breastfeed. You respond to cries and needs, you know like changing diapers and stuff that moms and dads do (ok mostly moms I guess). So if you want to do all that, because you want your baby to have the best start, it seems pretty logical that you'd just put your baby on you.

So why do people look at me like I just stepped off the crazy train? Well I suspect because they don't know why I'm keeping my baby so close. So I tell them. And usually they say "Wow. That's neat. Where did you get that thing?" Or something like that. Hm. Neat. I like it. Granny would be proud. Except that I buy my chicken at the store. That would just tick her off.

This is Ella @ 2 weeks of age. Where she belongs :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

For Infant and Pregnancy loss remembrance day, I remember

Though those who know me know will know what I'm talking about, some do not. This blog post is personal and not positive. If you don't want to be saddened maybe don't read it. If you don't mind being saddened please do.

I got married young. That wasn't my best idea ever. We starting trying to have a baby right away. Also probably not my best idea ever in light of the aforementioned bad idea. That's another blog. It took some time, several months, but it happened eventually. I was thrilled and in the only way I could, I prepared. A lot. I picked an OB. I read. I shopped. I decorated. I was thrilled to be having my first baby. I knew she was a girl. I wanted to name her Jordan.

Around Mother's day. I felt her first kicks. Then nothing. I wasn't very far along in the pregnancy and the OB told me it was normal not to feel movement until 20+ weeks. OK. Fair enough. I went to my regular appointment. My OB had to cancel it due to an emergency. Two weeks later I went back. We were getting ready to have an ultrasound soon and I was anxious to have my suspicions confirmed. The OB used the doppler to listen to the heartbeat which could not be found. He then reassured me that often babies hide. He'd just get the ultrasound machine an find the baby. So he did.

When I saw the first glimpse of my baby that I'd not seen since early after conception, I was delighted. My baby was no longer just a blob. Arms. Legs. Hands. Feet. Fingers. Toes. Beautiful.

But no heartbeat.

I'll never forget the look in his eye when he sat on his rolling stool and said nothing except, "Oh my God, Joni. I'm so sorry. I can't find a heartbeat."

And my world literally crumbled. All around me.

He sent us to a radiologist. They repeated the same procedure. Cold gel. Blurry black and white screen. No heartbeat. And the radiologist..."Your baby is dead. Sign this form. Where's your insurance card? Have a nice day." Other things I don't remember.

What came after that can only be described as the worst several days of my life.

She was in fact a girl, as I'd suspected. the OB gave us options. Wait. Induce. Have a D&E (similar to a D&C but using kinder words so that mom doesn't feel like she's aborting her baby). I was paralyzed with pain and sadness. I looked pregnant. I felt pregnant. This couldn't be. How could the baby I dreamt about and planned for just suddenly be gone? I cried and cried until I was out of tears to cry and then I cried some more. I took her nursery apart piece by piece. I sat in the floor and cried. Day after day. I went to bed. I slept. Then I couldn't sleep. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare.

My body refused to let Her go.

I thought once she was born I'd feel better. Normal. Not consumed.

I was wrong.

People said stupid things.

"At least you can have more." I don't want more. I want this one.

"At least you're young." Because it would hurt less if I were old?

"It was God's will." To make me suffer?

"At least you weren't full term." Oh because I love her less since I was only 20 weeks. OK. I get it.

"There must have been something wrong with her." Like I would have cared.

"Someone else needed that spirit right now." Oh really? Well I'm going to go find them and get MY baby back.

"You'll meet her in heaven." Uh huh.

What was there to say?

I'm sorry.

That's all.

This experience of losing my daughter changed me. It changed my marriage. It changed my life. I was crippled with fear of losing another baby. Paralyzed with sorrow. Even the arrival of my next baby wouldn't heal the wound of loss.

Later in my life as a nurse, I'd care for women like me. Losing their babies. No one really ever wanted those patients. So sad. So depressing. But I wanted them. I wanted to hold their hands. I wanted to cry with them. I wanted to tell them I knew exactly how they felt. I wanted them to know it would hurt. For a long time. Maybe forever. I wanted them to feel safe to grieve, to cry, to scream. I wanted to tell them that people wouldn't understand and that they might say stupid things. I wanted to say, "I'm so sorry."

Monday, October 11, 2010

to blog or not to blog...

So recently I've contemplated the concept of restarting the blog... and I found myself asking the following questions:

1. Why?
2. When?
3. Why?
4. About what?
5. Why?
6. How?

and lastly

7. Why?

I'm seeing a theme here. First I have to admit that my reason for blogging before was mostly selfish. The blog to lose blog served as an outlet for my pent up feelings about weight loss about my bad self image and about my fitness routine. I was pretty faithful to the cause, weighing and recording and updating my progress. I appreciated the feedback from my readers and relished the praise of my efforts. When I reached my "goal" weight and found myself still dissatisfied I kept blogging for a time as I continued on the path to inner peace or whatever thing it was a I was looking for and then... WHAMMO. I realized something. Big. HUGE. I wasn't finding it. It wasn't what I weighed. It wasn't how far or fast I could run. It was something else entirely. So I made some major life changes. And by major can I say Major, capital M? In fact I don't think it would be a stretch to make that... MAJOR. In the course of the aforementioned changes I stopped blogging. There were a couple of pretty compelling reasons for this 1. I was really too emotionally busy to write 2. How do you adequately explain turning your entire life upside down?

Without too much detail (because no one has the time to read all that) let me recap, mostly in order:

1. This began with separation from the husband of 15 years (and subsequent divorce). This included: sharing visitation of children (which is a lot harder that you could imagine), move into apartment, division of assets (which is to say, I took my clothes and all the debt and he took the DVD's and my dog), arguing, making up, some periods of time where we hated each other, other periods where we loved each other and yet other periods where I thought my life would never feel normal again. Unexpected side effects of said divorce included: missing my in-laws (who would have thought I needed them so much) and an almost complete severing of ties with my family (which would require another blog entirely)
2. Professional specialty change (from labor and delivery RN to Hospice RN. How much more opposite can you get there?)
3. New incredible relationship (with the boy who caught my eye at the 6th grade spelling bee)
4. Move into second, larger apartment.
5. Pregnancy (Yes. Planned).
6. Purchase of new home (and third move)
7. Wedding (at 8 1/2 months pregnant. Also planned).
8. Birth of baby @ home. Yes, on purpose. (at 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant).

So... you can see the issue(s) A. When would I have had time to blog? And B. How would I even begin to explain all that?

But now, with all that part of the preceding chapters of my autobiography written I can, again, begin to consider the "blog" as an outlet. But wait, what do I need an outlet for anyway? We blog what we know, or in my case, what we need.

That brings me, in a round about way, to my point.

I no longer need the blog.

Well.Well. Well.

How about that.

That's not to say that blogging doesn't have a place or purpose in my life. I like to write. Actually, given accommodating circumstances, I love to write. Well. Let me say that another way. I love to talk. And writing is like talking for people who 1. don't have a captive audience or 2. don't want to look completely insane talking to themselves or alternatively 3. people who like numbering things like an outline. Anyway, it's not that blogging doesn't have a place or purpose it's just that I might have lost my target audience.

Begging the question: Do my former blog to lose readers want to read about how I used to weigh 124, far too thin, mostly muscle pounds? And how that WAS so NOT The Answer (capital T capital A). How I then turned my life over and around and upside down looking for The Answer. How I got peaceful, gained an intentional 20 pounds, got pregnant and gained yet 50 more pounds. How I felt like I should care that I was gaining weight, but how basking in the glow of love and the creation of new life, marveling at the amazing things my body was doing (as we should), I barely even noticed. How I now, at one month postpartum, weigh 168 pounds and only care because I don't have any clothes that fit.


But I'm not entirely sure I even care to blog about that. In my oxytocin induced baby haze all I can think about is this little beautiful creature we created. I'm giddy with baby love and at the same time painfully aware that there is no toilet fairy that comes while you're sleeping to scrub your bathrooms for you.

Besides that, my relationship with my body has changed. I... wait for it, believe in natural childbirth. In fact, I believe in natural mostly everything (except diet pepsi which is far from natural). I always believed in natural childbirth, it's just that for whatever reason I couldn't seem to achieve it. Pitocin. Pitocin. Pitocin. It's the devil (but that's for another time). But one month ago today (not lunar months, the other kind) I had a 10 pound 6 ounce baby. In. My. Kitchen. And though every birth of every child has changed me a little bit, this one was the earth shattering, mind blowing experience that will forever effect how I see myself. And all 168 pounds of my body.

So what I need right now is to bask in the love of this new little person. Let the toilets be dirty. Let the scale get dusty. Let the running shoes rest.

That's what I need. So I guess that's what I'll blog about...

Beautiful Little Creature:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ella's story. Part 2. So it begins...

Disclaimer: This is LONG. It has to be long because a. I love to talk and b. I really didn't want to leave anything out. I keep trying to edit for length and failing. Oh well, grab some tea and a snack and settle in.

Spoiler alert: I have a baby at the end.

Dear Ella (part 2)...

In the days leading up to your birth I contracted almost constantly. They were almost never more than 15 minutes apart. A week before your due date I woke up at 2 am to a very strong contraction. I was almost certain it was the start of labor. I didn’t know if I would know what labor was, having been induced 3 times, but this hurt. It took my breath away and made me feel like something was happening. Something different. The contractions kept coming. Irregularly but there. 8 minutes. 6 minutes. 4 minutes. 10 minutes. I didn’t wake your dad or call the midwife. I just sat up all night waiting for them to get closer or more painful or regular. They never did. The next day we met with the midwife, Jacque, who gave us some suggestions for dealing with the contractions. Bath. Wine. Chamomile tea. Massage. We tried those things but the next night was more of the same. And the next and the next. Over the course of the next week and a half I would have episodes of contractions every night. I was getting tired and weepy and I was arguing with your dad about anything and nothing (he's a saint by the way). I wasn’t at all proud of how I was handling this part of the pregnancy (being a whiny baby, that is) but he kept telling me he wouldn’t expect me to handle it any other way. I was exhausted and in constant discomfort and honestly felt like I might be losing my mind. Because i had never gone into labor on my own I began to wonder if I even could. Irrational but still. I felt like I might be pregnant forever. I can laugh about it now but I was really frustrated. I was doing lots of research on prodromal labor and trying to figure out what was going on. Your dad kept reassuring me that once you were here it would all make sense. I would swing between feelings of quiet contentment, enjoying my last days with you, and total discomfort and frustration just wanting to meet you. I was so confused as to why I couldn’t just START. I mean I have three other body should KNOW what to do by now. Jacque continued to reassure me that my body DID know and that I wouldn’t be pregnant forever. She continued to make her suggestions as to how to keep myself busy which often fell on deaf ears (except the baths, who wouldn't like a bath?).

The day before I went into labor your dad and I debated what to do. We had been trying hard to keep my mind busy. We had got a dog that week (Lucy) , gone out to lunch twice and shopping at Whole Foods and TJ’s. I was so discouraged and tired. That morning, Saturday, I fell asleep on the couch and slept for almost 2 hours while your dad did some studying/work. It was September 11th, the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. We weren’t sure if that was a good or bad day for you to be born. Anyway, before I laid down I told him I wanted Chinese food. When I woke up it was after noon. We got up and I wanted to see your brothers and sister (they were with their dad for the weekend). We went to see them and visited for a little while. Then we headed to Chinese food. The US Open was on and your dad was checking the score the entire time on his phone. It looked like Roger Federer was going to lose to Djokovic. While we were eating your dad said, "if Federer loses you’re having the baby tomorrow." Whatever, I thought. He already won the Open 5 times. I figured he was going to win again for sure and I laughed him off (He lost. Duh.). When the US Open started I told your dad I’d make sure you were born before the finals... We had Mongolian Beef and Chicken Chow Mein and I had contractions. I was timing them like I always did but again they were 6 minutes apart. No closer. I was pausing with them and he was watching me watch the clock. Ugh. More contractions.

This continued through the afternoon and evening. Contraction after contraction I counted and timed then tried not to count or time because it was only making me frustrated thinking I was now going to have contractions all day AND all night. We snacked for dinner. I wasn’t hungry. We decided to watch TV and put Arthur on. We had a little wine (it's ok the midwife told me to). I told your dad that maybe something was happening because even the wine didn't help me relax. I laughed at the movie a few times (though i didn't find anything very funny). About 11:30 we decided to go to bed. The movie wasn’t over but I think your dad could tell I needed a change of scenery. We got upstairs and he offered me a backrub but I declined (who declines a backrub? I mean REALLY?). I was tired and ready to try to sleep. Or cry. One of those. Your dad fell asleep quickly but I laid awake timing and trying to sleep in between contractions.

I was in that place between awake and asleep when I felt a strange sensation and I knew my water was going to break. I was aware, even in my sleep, that it was happening. I sat up almost at the same time I felt a huge gush of water and told your dad to grab a towel. I don’t think he was quite awake but he jumped up and asked me what kind of towel. Hand towel? BIG TOWEL. I got up to head to the bathroom and lost a bunch more fluid into the toilet. I noted it was very lightly tinged with meconium. I came back to bed at 12:48 and had your dad give me a glove so I could examine myself and make sure your umbilical cord was still where it was supposed to be. It was and I grabbed my phone to call our midwife Jacque. I reported to her the happenings of the day and the water breaking and then I had your dad hold the phone while I examined myself again to let her know I was 3-4 cm dilated (yay for being a L&D RN, boo trying to reach my cervix around my huge belly was harder than it sounds). Jacque suggested I shower and then call her back in an hour. You weren’t moving much and I really wanted to feel some good kicks so I had your dad talk to you and you responded with some wiggles. I called your brothers and sister and let their dad know he could expect a call from us soon. During that time I sent your dad off to fill the tub. Not knowing how long I’d be in labor, I wanted to be ready, and I got in the shower. I was pretty hopeful that labor would be quick. The fluid kept coming and my heart was pumping away after being woken so abruptly. I had a few contractions but nothing too painful. I know now that I must have been feeling pretty darn good relatively because I took the time to partially blow dry my hair after the shower. Your dad called Staci and Jacque again. They both were on their way. I remember thinking we’d probably meet you sometime around breakfast. This was the first moment I’d had to really process that you were coming. It was 2 am.

I came downstairs and set about baking your “birth”day cake. By the time it was in the oven Staci and Peyton had arrived. The pool was full. The cake was baking. The team was arriving. Staci took a last belly shot and I paused with contractions to breathe. By 3 am I was leaning on your dad a bit. I didn’t really need to as they were quite bearable but I enjoyed being close to him and didn’t feel like I needed to be independent. He was around busying himself with picking up and such and eating leftover (cold. yuck) chinese food. Jacque arrived and I remarked at how quickly she came. I suspect that she thought the labor would be quick too given this was my 4th time . I was in a strange place of being the laboring mother and a nurse at the same time. I wasn’t sure what to expect not knowing how different an unaugmented labor would be. I was watching the clock and noting that the contractions were still about 3-4 and sometimes even 5 minutes apart. I wished they’d get closer so I’d know I was more active and then I was also a little worried that I’d called the birth team too early and we’d all just be sitting around all day.

Now, as I recall your birth, there are large gaps of time I can’t fill with anything specific. Lots of walking and singing and swaying and laughing (and I'm not gonna lie, there was some pain). Jenny came at about 4. That was good timing because counter pressure on my back was welcome and almost required at that point. I know Jacque checked me at 5:40 and I was a “good 5 cm”. I did the math.... 5 hours of labor and only 1-2 cm dilation. Ugh again. I tried not to be discouraged thinking that at some point things would probably move very quickly as they had in my other deliveries. We putzed around some more. We walked outside. It was almost cold. I had contractions outside and leaned on your dad. We did that for a few laps and then I was cold enough to want to come back in. We enjoyed that time being alone and smooched and enjoyed one another. Jacque suggested we shower and we did. We took our time. He rubbed my back and we continued with our swaying and breathing. He washed me and let me stand in front on the nozzle so the water could hit my back and then my belly. That felt fantastic. It was an intimate time (I realize this might be TMI but your dad is a great kisser).

Around 7 am I called your brother’s and sister’s dad and told him to bring the kids whenever they woke up. I felt restless and wanted them there. Jacque remarked that with the sun up and a house full of activity I should expect things would slow down but they stayed steady at the same pace. Given my social nature that doesn’t surprise me. Even though I thought you’d be born in the early morning I’m not surprised you weren’t (well, cause you were HUGE). Staci made pancakes and bacon and the kids arrived at 8:45. I was still social and talking in between contractions. I ate a pancake which tasted great. Those pancakes will always remind me of your birth day. We joked. Your dad told me it was the most fun he'd had in a long long time and I agreed. It was the most fun I've ever had. We sang with the birth playlist. I used the ball and found that helpful but I really felt compelled to stand hoping things would move along. Your dad was a wonderful support. I was doing some moaning with the contractions and he matched my tone. He told me I was doing great. Over and over. I said I felt like I looked whimpy. The room commented that I made it look easy. I didn’t say so but I felt like I was handling it better that I thought I would (which I was). Jenny told me she was amazed... She had seen me birth your brother with pitocin. It was nothing like this. Note: An epidural never even crossed my mind. Never. Ever.

At 9:30 we got in the pool. Jacque suggested it and she only had to say it once (it took long enough). I hopped in. Your dad got right in as well and we got into our little groove. I was worried he would be hungry and I needed him to be nourished. Someone handed him a pancake wrapped around a piece of bacon. We dubbed it a “paco” and laughed about it. I tried to eat jello, drink gatorade and water, I had a popsicle. Nothing really tasted good but I didn’t want to be dehydrated. I loved the pool. It really was surprisingly amazing. I told everyone that labor wasn’t that hard and that I could do it 10 more times. I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Again people laughing. I meant it though. I really felt like it was manageable and wondered if it was going to get far worse. I told everyone I didn’t want to go to the hospital. They said I didn’t have to. Things were fine. I had to explain that what I meant was that I was surprised I had no urge or desire to have pain medication or a physician around me nor was I firghtened. I was perfectly delighted to be in our kitchen surrounded by people I loved. Your sister rubbed my head. Your brother Owen was even there and quietly watching and asking questions. They were so sweet and wanted to see you into the world. Even Sean, who was afraid of the blood, came to the house. He stayed in the living room and upstairs (except when he came down for food ;). Staci took photos and helped out immensely. Peyton videotaped. Jenny was tireless pressing on my lower back. Jacque let us do our thing and stayed quiet in the background in the way a midwife does. She took a nap too and left us to do the work. I appreciated her quiet presence. She was just there in the most peaceful and supportive way. I could write an entire story just about her and how she is part of our family now. What a blessing she is in our lives (That’s for another time though...).

I got out of the pool to pee on Jacque’s suggestion (and only because she made me). I didn’t want to and I even told her I had peed in the pool thinking she might not make me get out. I wasn’t argumentative about it I just liked the water. So I obediently got out and went to the bathroom. It might have been about 12:30. She examined me there I wasn’t sure I wanted to know how dilated I was just in case I was still 5 but said I was almost done. 7 or 8 I think. Transition. After I got back in things started to get more intense (read: OUCH). There was a forebag of fluid. It broke at about 1:30 and I called Jacque in. She examined me and said there was no cervix left and that I should just wait for the urge to push. Wait. For. The. Urge. That seemed like a strange thing... to be complete and have no urge. She suggested we get out and go up and down the stairs which we did. By this time the contractions required my VERY full attention and I was making low sounds in my throat (suddenly a baritone?). I don’t know where I got the idea to do that but it seemed to really work. I paced around. It felt really primal and good to be in my own house. I went wherever I desired and your dad followed and kept me focused. Jacque left us alone for a while and we paced and breathed and talked. He hugged me and whispered in my ear. I told him it was taking too long. I didn’t understand what was going on but in my brain between mommy in labor and OB nurse I knew something was different. Of course I know now what the difference was but at the time I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on.
I wondered if you were acynclitic or posterior or what you were doing in there. Jacque had me lay in the hall and she checked me there. I could feel that you had moved up and shifted. Jacque didn’t tell me that she felt the same thing. In hindsight that was probably the best choice. If I had known I would have been afraid you weren't coming out at all.

This is when I started to get into the labor zone. Laborland. Whatever it was, it was a place that needed my full attention. Your dad and I worked like a well tuned machine (in case I haven't mentioned, he's awesome. You'll know soon enough). As the contraction would approach he would start to breathe and mimic my sounds. We would do that for the duration of the contraction. A few times I felt like I was losing focus at the peak but I was able to quickly regain it. He applauded my efforts each time and told me that i was doing great. When we talked about labor later he told me that he knew it was painful because I said it was but that it was hard for him to conceptualize that because I never “looked” like I was in that much pain. I was in that much pain but in hindsight, and even in that moment, I knew I could do it. I’ll never forget how your dad and I worked together to get you here. He was so sweet and loving to me. He never even noticed the presence of the other people in the room (did I mention he's awesome?). His focus and energy was completely on me and on you getting here. It was just like I hoped it would be and created a lasting bond between us, and with you. He whispered to me in my ear and sang Bob Marley. The song we call ours came on and we both sang and cried (OK I'm crying now). Jacque kissed your dad on the head and said “you’re just the man I thought you were.” I thought so too. For all the talking and anticipation leading up to your birth he surpassed any expectation I had of him. I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it without him (and I wouldn't have wanted to even try).

Jacque examined me again on the couch sometime around 2:30 and had me push once (just to see if you'd budge I imagine). I still had no urge and I wondered if I just wasn’t going to have an urge ever or how far up you must have been. -3? -4? Were you even in my pelvis? Were you even in this zip code? We went back to the pool. Once we were there I pushed without the urge (STILL) maybe once and then finally felt like you were moving. It was 2:43 pm. I felt the actual desire and then a sudden and intense need to birth you. I could feel your head pressed so firmly against my rectum I kept remarking on that pressure. The kids thought that was funny. Me talking about my butt. I pushed and felt you quickly move down. The feeling was so intense I could feel every nerve. Then the burning of your head coming down and out. As your head emerged I felt it draw back slightly. This is what midwives and doctors call the “turtle” and it’s a classic sign of a shoulder dystocia. Knowing this fact might have been helpful or hurtful, I’m not sure which. I didn’t say anything about the “turtle” but I did say “she feels big” in between breaths. Your dad was sitting right in front of me encouraging me and telling me I was doing great. He was touching you and me. He had his hands ready to catch you... the first hands you felt. I touched your sweet head and in the days after your birth I touched it again and again reliving that feeling of joy. The softness of your hair and the wrinkled skin. It was a most amazing feeling. I’ll never forget.

After your head was out I took a pause for breath to wait for another contraction to help get you born the rest of the way. I wasn’t worried. I just waited. And waited. One minute. I knew that you were ok because the water kept your drive to take your first breath at bay. When there still was no contraction I told Jacque I’d push anyway and I did. But nothing. You wouldn’t budge. I knew then getting you out wasn't going to be easy. I said to Jacque “hands and knees?” She said “not yet.” Later she’d tell me she was worried you’d be out of the water if I turned. I pushed again and again and nothing. Your dad moved over so Jacque could get in and grab you. Still you wouldn’t budge. I pushed as hard as I could. I wasn’t scared or timid. I gave it everything but you still wouldn’t move. Your dad kept telling me I could do it. It was a strange sensation to push so hard and have nothing happen. By the third minute Jacque and I were both getting nervous and the rest of the room was too. She said “hands and knees” and I flipped over in a flash. When I watched the video later I was amazed at how quickly I moved. Because I’ve been a nurse in cases like these I know how mom’s can react with passivity and defeat and I didn’t. I was determined and I’m proud to acknowledge that. I was getting you born. Period. Once I was over I grabbed the side of the pool and pushed. And pushed. The thought that you weren’t coming out at all briefly crossed my mind. But it was fleeting. I dismissed it as not an option and I pushed again and again. Because the other people there didn’t really know what was going on they were all getting pretty nervous byt his point. Jenny was in front of me talking to me but I couldn’t hear her. At one point she said something like “you have to push Joni” and I said (ok it was more like yelled) “I’m trying.” When I hear myself say that now on the video I can remember the sensation of pushing against nothing and being so determined but frustrated. Just force with no movement. Jacque told me to give you to her. She told me to hold my breath and push again and I did. She said she had it. I knew that meant she had your shoulder and was getting it free. You finally slipped from me and into the water. 5 minutes 10 seconds from when your head came out. 2:49 pm. 14 hours almost to the minutes from when my water broke. Who knows how long I was really in labor. 14 hours? Two weeks? A long time that passed in a flash.

I spun around and took you from Jacque’s hands to mine. You had a nice long cord, 4 feet maybe, which gave me plenty of space to get to you. I knew you were going to need to be called in and I said “she’s going to need help.” I set about massaging your back and lungs. Your heart beat strong and steady at your cord. I bent to give you my breath as Jacque did the same. She gave you two breaths and then two more. Your dad rubbed you. I rubbed you. I reassured your brother and sister that you were ok. Mothering. I knew you would be because I knew what to do for you. You dad and I called you to us and you came. Slowly but surely. White. Then blue. Then pink. Squeaks. Then cries. Limp. Then wiggling. Then kicking. I kissed you and loved you.

Then I told you you scared the shit out of me.

What came after that was just normal. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. I held you and we loved you and your dad and I admired you and looked at one another. Nothing had to be said. Then I handed you off to your big sister while I birthed your placenta which was large and beautiful and the way you came to be so big and healthy. It took a little time and I worried about bleeding (because I’ve seen way too many PP hemorrhages) but I just said to my body “Body, you’re not going to bleed.” And I didn’t. I got out of the tub and dried off and on the sofa. You came right to me and started nursing right away. You knew where to go and what to do. Jacque looked you over and pronounced you 10 pounds and 6 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long. Staci made me a peanut butter sandwich and a banana which I shared with with your dad. We ate the cake I baked for you 12 hours before and we toasted your birth with champagne. To a “healthy baby.” I took a shower with your dad’s help. I felt great. Just fantastic. No repairs necessary and my bleeding was scant. I really can’t quantify how good I felt. I felt like I had conquered my greatest fears and had my greatest desire fulfilled at the same time. I had you, all 10 pounds and 6 ounces of you, in our kitchen. Your dad was right there to support me and help you get here. Your siblings welcomed you with love. Your midwife caught you. Your friends celebrated you and all of us.

Eventually everyone left. Your dad emptied the pool and you and I laid on the sofa. Kelsey, Sean and Owen ate pizza and cake and at some point we all fell into bed, you in between your dad and I. We slept blissfully snuggled in the bed you were made in.

Now you’re 3 weeks old. It’s taken me that long to get this story written. First it was because I was too busy. Then I was overwhelmed by it. Then I was too busy again. I knew that writing it would make me feel it all over again and partly I wanted to, but then partly I didn’t want to close the book on this wonderful chapter of my life. Since you were born we’ve talked and talked about how you got here. We talked with each of the people who were here. We talked with Jacque. We even talked with some people who weren’t here. I went though a period of endorphin haze where I was so glad you were here I didn’t care about anything else. Then I went through a period of feeling like I could have done something different or better to get you out quicker. Your dad and I talked and processed until we couldn’t talk or process any more. Then we talked and processed some more (more me talking, him listening). He gave me the gift of saying he had faith in me.

Having a baby at home isn’t like having a baby in the hospital. Things can go not quite right and even downright wrong no matter where you birth. Home is no exception. Sometimes babies die. Sometimes mommies die. That’s a sad but painful truth wherever you give birth. It’s inherently risky sometimes. The first step in overcoming fear of those things is just accepting that part of living this beautiful life means taking risks. In the end I’m so incredibly glad we had you at home. I can’t imagine it any other way. Every birth helps makes a woman who she is, a mommy a wife, a sister, a daughter. Your birth changed me in the best way possible. It made me a better woman and a better mommy.

Some day maybe I’ll really tell you all the ways it might have been different if you’d been born in a hospital. How you would have been born into the hands of a stranger. How you would have been greeted in this life by bright lights and an unfamiliar room. How they would have taken you from me and then taken you to be resuscitated by a team of professionals who resuscitate babies all day long. How you then probably would have gone to a NICU to be observed because of how big you were and how “hard” it was for you to be born. How they would have pricked your heel to check your blood sugar because they would have assumed I might have been diabetic since I opted not to have the glucose test done. How they would have suggested, probably strongly, that I give you a bottle because of the chance of you dropping your blood sugar. Or, how you never would have been born that way at all because I fell waaay off the labor curve and any doctor would have suggested a c-section (and no one would have dared question that decision. Good grief you weighed 10 pounds 6 ounces for heavens sake). How. How. How. How things would have been so very very different.

In the end, none of those things happened. You were born: At home, on purpose, in the kitchen. My water broke. I baked a cake. Your dad and I danced and sang and loved one another. And out you came. We got you going and you came to us beautifully. I nursed you and you stayed with me. Always. Where you should have been. Oh sure it wasn’t quite that simple, but then in a way it was. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t that hard either. It was just beautiful and how it was intended to be. I know that many people would say we shouldn’t have had you at home. Those people would also say that the fact that you got a little stuck (ok a lot stuck) on the way out is that much more of a compelling reason to have a baby in the hospital. But I’d disagree. I'd say the knowledge of a skilled midwife made a differnce. I'd say an unmedicated, emotionally present, strong mother made a difference. I'd say having your dad and your family there made a difference. I’d say that the fact that you were born at home and how well you did after your rough start is only proof that home is where you belonged. I can’t quantify that and no one would dare study it but I know. I know the difference. I know that how well you did after you were born and how you grow up began right here. At home. I know that the hormones of labor and birth helped me to be present in that moment, in every moment from the time you were conceived until you were in our arms. To feel every nerve, sensation and emotion with clarity and to know what to do for you without being told. I trusted my body and myself. I trusted birth. And you were born.

And that’s the beginning...

Ella's story. Part 1: BL (before labor)

Dear Ella Grace,

This is the story of your birth. The first part I wrote before you were due. I stopped abruptly probably because it was bedtime or I was getting emotional. I’m going to finish it now, with the whole thing.

It starts in October 2009, when we decided to make you... but really it started in 1986 when I first met your dad in 6th grade at the district spelling bee. His funny personality, intelligence and beautiful blue eyes captured my heart then just like now. All the girls swooned over your dad but I’ve no doubt I did the most. It took us until we were 35 years old to finally be together but how worth the wait it was...

Part 1:

You are due in two weeks and 4 days. That’s 18 days. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll be born in 18 days. You could be born any time really. And that’s what we are waiting for...

While we are waiting i, your momma, am doing some important work dealing with my birth “tigers” as our wonderful midwife calls them. But first things first:

My own story of birth starts 16 years ago. Well it really starts when I was a little girl. Watching cats and dogs have babies and being fascinated by life. My favorite book was the Better Homes and Gardens Baby Book which I read cover to cover to cover to cover constantly, from the time I could first read until I had memorized it. I probed and asked people about having babies. Did it hurt? What was it like? My sweet old Granny, a 12+ pound baby born at home herself, would entertain my constant inquisition and answer usually “Does it hurt? Well honey, people DIE.” Ouch. Scary news to an excited 8 year old. But I wouldn’t be dissuaded. I played house and I was always having babies. Twins. One. Girls. Boys. You name it. I was hooked. So no surprise I wanted have a baby as soon as I got married. And that’s what I did. I read voraciously and educated myself in every way I could. I wanted it to be just right. I wrote a birth plan and drove my OB crazy with questions. When I was pregnant with your sister I knew really wanted to birth naturally. I truly did trust my body to do what it should. I didn’t want a medicated delivery of any kind. I wanted a pulsing cord. No episiotomy. Nothing. Lave it alone was my mantra. I wanted to keep my babies with me after they were born. I wanted to nurse right away. I was into attachment parenting before it had a name. However, I also wanted healthy babies and sometimes it seemed like the professionals felt that the best way to get that result was to take matters in to their own hands.

I knew then, and I know now, that wasn’t necessary.

Fast forward to 2009. You father and I fell in love. When we decided to make you we talked and thought about it. We were still just new in our relationship and weren’t sure if having a baby was the right or best thing. We knew we wanted you but weren’t sure when would be the “right” time. The clock was was ticking though I was getting older and being older means certain risks and often more difficulty in conceiving. Statistics said we could expect to take 7 months to conceive. So once we decided that we’d make a baby, we got started. I stopped taking my birth control pill and started counting days.

I hoped we’d get pregnant right away. The first month I felt kind of suspicious and symptomatic and i took a test. It was negative and the next day I started my heavy and painful period. I wondered if itwas an early miscarriage. I suspect it was.

The next month was December. I used an ovulation predictor to make sure I was ovulating. Honesty I wasn’t sure. I’d had a lot of irregular bleeding and of course again with the being older thing. But the test said I was and we were trying diligently to have you. Your dad proposed to me on December 14. We made love that night and made you. As Christmas approached I wasn’t feeling particularly pregnant but I wasn’t feeling normally premenstrual either. I took a test on Christmas morning hoping it would be positive so I could surprise your dad even though my period wasn’t during for several days still. But the test was negative and I put the book on becoming a father that I’d bought him away. After we finished with gifts and your brother’s and sister went to their dad’s house, your dad and I left for San Diego. We spent that day driving and then the evening with the Edelman’s. I was cautious and let your dad finish my wine, hoping no one noticed. The next morning we got up early and got ready to go have breakfast. Once your dad was occupied I quickly took the test. Then I stashed it under my bag. In the event it was negative I didn’t want us to start the day that way. A couple of minutes passed and I peeked at it and saw the very faint line. I told your dad I had taken a test the day before hoping to surprise him but that it was negative, he looked sad. I quickly followed that with “but the one today wasn’t” and he looked at me, shocked. Then happy. And tearful. We hugged and kissed and looked at each other in disbelief. I don't think either of expected it would happen so quickly. He took a video of our hotel room saying he wanted to remember that moment forever. We rode down in the elevator quietly, both taking in the news. We spent the rest of the trip giddy with our secret and stole moments away to talk about you.

To talk about the pregnancy really would require whole other entry so I won’t try to do that now. But I’ll say this... It was a time of love, planning and hope for your dad and I. We enjoyed talking about your birth and our future with you and your brother's and sister. We picked our midwife carefully. We felt you kick and photographed my growing belly. We laughed and we cried. We bought a house and painted your room. We planned our wedding. We got married. We talked about our hopes for you and decided how we wanted to welcome you into the world, at home...

Coming soon to a blog near you...

The homebirth story of Ella Grace Edelman...
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