Friday, July 24, 2015

Dear Rye :: 1 month old

Dear Rye,
This time is going fast, are you holding on? I'm savoring every moment - it helps that I think you are the cutest baby ever, even in the middle of the night. You're stretching out, you're making noises (squeaks and cries), you're making eye contact. Your eyes are big and blue, which is a thrill. Noah and Del had brown eyes by now and yours are lighter than when you were first born - so I think it's blue for good.


You get hiccups all.the.time.
Everyone who meets you comments on how much hair you have and how small you are.
After 3pm you want to nurse every half hour or so. You seem distressed when we're not home (we're usually not) sitting still for this. And then you fall asleep for the night some time between 8-10pm. I swaddled you the first few nights and then Daddy suggested not swaddling you because you seemed to fall asleep with your hands up by your head. We did that for a few weeks but you started getting more active at night - kicking me and startling - so I went back to swaddling and you're sleeping for longer stretches.


We discovered that you feel very relaxed in the shower. I was recently out with Nina doing night-milking and you were getting sad. Daddy brought you into the shower and you relaxed completely. Suddenly it was okay that there wasn't constant nursing, even though it was evening. Daddy found me in the sink-room cleaning up and said I should hurry because you needed me. Then he said: "and we'll be getting back into the shower now."
"Why?!" I asked. You weren't fussing or anything.
"You didn't hear that?" he asked. Apparently you'd pooped.
Which you do a lot - and nosily.


But you're noisy in general with your hiccuping, squeaking, grunting ... it's either that you want milk or that you're trying to poop. And it's not always clear which is happening.
You've been to your first wedding reception. You were a big hit. And despite your tendency to make your voice heard, everyone at the wedding kept saying: "Is she always this good?" (and really, we get asked that a lot). By "good" of course, your fans mean "quiet". And yes, you sleep a lot and are quietly observant, most of the time.
You're pretty mellow. You ride in the car well, except when you want to nurse, then not so much. You turn your head when you hear my voice. You can be hanging out with another grownup and I walk in the room and you suddenly are rooting at their arm.


I thought I would be so excited to do newborn shoot after newborn shoot with you for the first two weeks of life - but really I just wanted to hold you - something I couldn't do while also organizing the supplies for a shoot. And I'm a little bummed, but also feel very zen about the whole thing. Those first few weeks are so short and I don't regret spending them staring at you instead of stressing about getting the perfect picture.

It's amazing to me that you've been here for a month already. Time is just flying by. At the same time, you just make sense - it's amazing to me that you've only been breathing for a month!


I'm putting you in tie-dye all the time. It looks so good on you and it's easy. I'm just thrilled that your smaller birth weight means lots of time, relatively, of wearing these adorable shirts. I don't know what's going to happen when you grow out of your tie-dye wardrobe. People joke that they won't recognize you!

In the first week or so of life, Daddy was holding you while I scarfed down dinner. When I returned to the dining room after getting a glass of water, I saw that Daddy had put an asparagus in your mouth as a pacifier. He doesn't want you to have a pacifier - but an asparagus-pacifier is a-okay apparently. I balked. He argued that something like this was probably the original pacifier. I worried about butter or water or something sucked out. You survived.


Del and Noah are completely in love, but also, it seems, completely adapted to having a baby sister very quickly. Whereas the grownups called you "the baby" for a while, still getting used to the fact that you have a name officially - your siblings immediately called you Rye.
Del has been really excited about holding you - but the novelty has worn off and she's less frantic to get her hands on you. She is really great at picking you up when you're sad while calling out to me. She's also adept at carrying you around which makes us (the grownups) nervous, but there's no need to be.
Noah shows his enamored feelings differently. He found the camera the day after you were born and spent a few days obsessively taking pictures. He wasn't and isn't that interested in holding you much - but put a camera in his hand and the only thing he's interested in capturing is you.


I don't notice it, but everyone else tells me that as soon as I enter the room - and especially when I talk, you immediately turn your head and get more active. If you're hungry you do these wide grabs at the air with your mouth wide open, head moving slowly back and forth.
You're so alert lately and so expressive with facial expressions - you can go through an impressive range in such a short time frame!


You started going with me to the farmers market at 3 days old. You've been out doing chores. You're a grab-and-go-baby ... except if it's after 3pm. And that is okay - you get extra snuggles from anyone who will hold you - and there are lots of people willing.

The stretching you do! It's so cute and involves every part of your body - even your face, squinching up. You raise one (or sometimes two) arm(s) above your head in a big stretch regularly. Nina calls it "power to the people". When you raise up two arms, Del says: "look! TWO power to the people!" Del also really likes your cow lick and wishes she had a swirl in her hair too.


You were a big surprise from the beginning and I think being the "bonus baby" makes me feel so lucky to have you. I'm in awe of your tiny body fitting a whole human inside. Your super dark hair, your bright blue eyes that turned from the grey of your newness, your tiny tongue that you stick out all the time, your perfect little nose, your teeny-tiny nails attached to relatively long fingers and big hands and skinny long arms, the wrinkles at your elbows - it's all so amazing. You're here. It's incredible because you were so unexpected.


I keep looking at one year olds and realizing you'll be walking next summer! It's going by so fast - you've changed so much in this first month already!
We love you more and more every day and you just fit in our family. I laugh at myself because most of the time I can't imagine our family without you. And every once in a while I'll look down and be shocked that there's a baby in my arms.
We love you baby girl,
Momma

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Baby Rye's Birth

I wasn't surprised when prodromal labor started around 37 weeks gestation. Del and Noah both had about a week of labor-y type contractions coming and going that would peter out with no baby in arms ... only to start up again. With Del I remember realizing that labor was actually happening because contractions intensified (finally)one night. So I expected the same here. There had been regular braxton hicks starting from 20 weeks (a first for me). But prodromal contractions were different. So I anticipated birthing within a week when contractions started on a Sunday. For better or worse, though, we had one more wedding scheduled for the following Friday. If the baby came a week before, I'd bring my mom to take care of the baby and I would go and nurse as needed. But it couldn't come the night before the wedding. Tuesday there was another night of being woken by contractions. Okay, so if the baby came Tuesday, I'd probably be okay by Friday, I told myself. No baby. Thursday night another night of contractions. No, baby, no - not tonight.
I was listening to hypnobabies to fall asleep most of these nights, which helped me get sleep instead of focused on when the next contraction was coming.
Friday morning there was still no baby (phew!) and we headed off to photograph a delightful wedding .

During the 2+ hour drive home I timed contractions at 4-10minutes apart lasting about a minute. But I hadn't timed them before and this may be about what they were doing all during prodromal labor.

No baby Saturday.
Sunday I went to Burlington and hung out with a friend I really wanted to see who is expecting a few months after me. I also had an engagement shoot nearby. The couple was great (we're shooting their wedding in September) and knew that the shoot might be postponed last minute. But no baby, so the shoot happened (phew!).
All official pre-baby photography business was complete.

All I wanted for my birthday back in March was prenatal massages. Our parents came through and I had one more massage. I was insistent I didn't want to NOT have it before the baby (in hindsight, a postnatal massage, while harder to coordinate with a new baby, would have been welcome too, I'm sure!). The massage was scheduled for Monday afternoon. Except I lost track of time and decided to start another tie-dying project so was rushing and slightly frantic by the time I left for the massage.
As I passed through checkpoints on my way to the massage appointment (oh. This was also over a week into a massive manhunt for two felons who had escaped from a nearby maximum security prison), I wasn't feeling so excited about the massage. It was on my "to-do" list, but usually I was so relieved and excited to be going to a massage.
Even so, the massage was awesome. I thought about looking up if the relaxing benefits of a massage would increase the chance of active labor starting. But I didn't want to jinx myself, so resisted looking it up. I really really like my masseuse who happens to be a homeschooling friend who I've spent more and more time with recently. But after the massage, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I usually am so chatty (Del will confirm this, repeatedly) but I just wanted to get home. Back through checkpoints and I was feeling weird and a little scared to be driving.

My intention had been to clean up the tie-dying project when I got home. Instead, I walked through the back door and said: "I'll clean up later, I'm going to bed."
"Going to bed? You were just laying down for an hour massage!" Ren Man replied half in jest.
Focused, I climbed the stairs and fell into bed. I slept for 2 hours before waking and eating and then I started listening to hypnobabies again. Prodromal labor was on again. I asked Ren Man to go get the hook thing we could put on the closet door frame. I was insistent that I would squat for birth as I had for Del very effectively. So he put the hook on the door farm and I tied a wrap to it.

I listened to the early-labor track several times and slept off and on. Around 4:30 I felt a small gush and thought: "I think that's my water breaking". In the bathroom I saw that my underwear was soaked. I found this fascinating because in the previous births my water had broken well into active labor. Both times the water had had meconium. Which turned out to not be anything, except a reason for people to get a little nervous. This time - no meconium. I already had a water proof mat under my sheets and grabbed a towel to put under me too. Back in bed I could feel some more water leaking at times, but not a lot and not all the time.

There was a prenatal appointment scheduled for later that morning so I thought I should give the midwife a heads up. If there hadn't been an appointment I would have waited, I think, until contractions were coming and I was clearly in active labor. But I didn't want the midwife to come and want to stay but her not have her birth supplies. So I texted her a little before 5am, not wanting to wake her. I just told her she might want to bring her birth stuff when she came - but no need to come earlier than our 11am appointment. She asked what was going on and I said my water broke, no meconium, and not really a ton still coming, and not really active labor although I was contracting. She said to keep her updated. I apologized for waking her. She assured me she was already awake. We talked about how the baby's head may be limiting how much water is able to come through. The midwife said she was sending her assistant (a three hour drive away) and the midwife would plan to be here for 11ish as planned.

Whenever I peed water came. I put on a pad and for the rest of labor was surprised by how much water flowed. When Ren Man finally woke up I told him about my water breaking. He looked excited and surprised. I had asked him to set up the cradle for about two weeks, but he'd put me off saying the baby might not come for a while still. I noticed throughout the day that the cradle was put together in our spare room.

I called my mother in law to tell her that the baby was probably coming in the next 24 hours. She made arrangements with work and headed over (first back tracking to get clothes from home and then going to the grocery store to get cake-making supplies - I'd asked for a "birthing day cake"). I drank some water, and fairly quickly puked it right back up. Puking+contraction-at-the-same-time is not so fun.
When Del woke up, I told her the baby would be here in the next 24 hours. She was so excited and asked if she could tell Nina (my mom). Then she ran to tell Noah. "really?" he asked: "are you serious?!"
"Yes, YES!" she said all excitedly.
"Good, I was hoping we'd have pizza for dinner tonight!" Noah responded, knowing that I'd asked for pizza the night of the birth.
I puked again - stomach acid, and decided no more eating for me!
The midwife's assistant arrived and took vital signs. I was feeling silly because contractions were so manageable - even could be missed! Then I'd remember my water had broken - so things were happening. It reminded me of when I first found out I was pregnant and had to keep going to look at the picture of the positive pregnancy test, because it seemed so unreal!
Del and my mom left to pick up veggies and do our usual Tuesday farm deliveries in town.
The midwife's assistant suggested I eat. I explained that I didn't want to puke. She reasoned that if I was going to puke anyway - might as well be food, and not stomach acid. Good point.
I went downstairs to make some yogurt (meaning add sunflower seeds to some plain yogurt). I think I also decided to have strawberries and cream - because apparently I was hungry.
My mother-in-law arrived and I was so happy to see her.
I retreated again to my "cave" and listened to hypnobabies more, trying to encourage active labor.


Throughout the day the midwife's assistant checked my blood pressure, the baby's heartbeat, etc. The midwife arrived around 11 and asked if I wanted to go downstairs. No, I wanted to stay in my cave. She explained that she'd been under the weather so she'd be relying on the assistant even more than usual. I was concerned and wanted her to be comfortable.
Hungry again, I went downstairs and hung out with the midwives in the living room. Contractions were coming more regularly and clearly, but still underwhelming. I was feeling guilty that everyone was waiting and things weren't picking up speed! The midwife said this was very normal - for things to slow down during the day and then pick back up at night. But, I argued, the other two kids were born during the day ... but still this labor was not happening. The poor midwife was uncomfortable and she explained that she'd been in on again off again pain for about two years and it was getting worse and she didn't know what to do. As a result of the worsening pain, she'd recently not been able to sleep at night. She had planned on going to the ER and canceling her appointment for the day. She paced and laid down, trying to get comfortable.


Back upstairs I decided I was done and just wanted to start pushing. That's what had happened with the previous babies. I got to 10cm and pushed - there was no overwhelming need to push - but I was at 10cm and they said I could, so I did. Because at that point I wanted to meet this baby and stop doing this laboring thing! This time however, the midwives assured me no checks were needed, just push when I couldn't help it.
But maybe if I started pushing, then my body would just push on its own.
Ren Man came to check on me. I was hungry again. He brought cheese. It was around this time that I messaged a friend telling the friend I had met on Sunday, that she needed hypnobabies. I offered to lend her mind. She responded that I needed the book. I wasn't interested in telling anyone I was in labor, but I told her I didn't need the book any more because I had the tracks and laughed to myself ... if only she knew.


The midwife's assistant came to take vitals again and she asked about pushing. I explained that I just wanted to be done. She suggested I take a walk - the rain had cleared up. But I didn't want to get dressed and leave my cave. She was very supportive of whatever I wanted to do - if I wanted to walk, I could - if I wanted to stay in my cave I could. She encouraged me to get out of my head.
The midwife came upstairs. She asked about pushing. She firmly and kindly explained that the baby was coming, I didn't need to rush it and to let my body do it this time. It's so much better. Get out of my head. The midwife was staying until the baby came and that didn't have to be any time soon. We talked about how with Del and Noah I pushed because I was 10cm and wanted to be done. Waiting for my body would make pushing faster (not the 1hour+ experiences of the past) and more effective.
That pep talk helped.
Ren Man said he was going out to do chores. I said I wanted to go too. Dressed, I I told the midwives I was going outside to do chores.


But first, they said, let's do vitals. Again, the midwife assured me that labor would pick up again once the sun started setting. I encouraged her to go to the ER - and come back after, we still had hours until sunset. She told me that once your water has broken things can pick up really fast. She was managing and would go after the birth.


And then it was outside, with a quick smell of german chocolate cake as I went by the kitchen. Now if that wasn't motivation to get this baby out!
It was nice to be out with just Ren Man, and getting chores done.


First, as usual, we fed and watered the pigs.


Josh spent time picking up the rest of the limbs we'd cleared a month or so ago and added them to bonfire piles. I was so thankful he was doing this!


I had spent time looking through birth photography and wanted awesome birth pictures. Ren Man insisted he wanted to be the one with the camera. I pointed out that I wanted him IN some pictures. He reasoned that birth is about ME - not the dad, so he found the images of men looking worn out or focused on them rubbing their partner's back silly. But then he suggested we do a picture with both of us because it was so important to me - so we did, and laughed about it too :)


Back at home I probably ate again but also wanted to clean up the tie-dying stuff from the day before. We had tie-dyed in the "not garage" that is missing part of a wall where you can see out into the pasture. I noticed that it was raining pretty hard - but also very very brightly lit by the sun. So I checked, and sure enough - there was a rainbow!



Back in my cave, I continued with these manageable contractions. I was so discouraged! More hypnobabies. Del came and asked when would be a good time for Poobah (my dad) to go get pizza. I told her I didn't care, I wouldn't be having pizza that night, the baby wouldn't be here in time. She let me know I could have a leftover piece the next night. Thanks, kid.


So pizza was gotten and I decided to eat dinner - I was famished (again). I had wings among many other things (yogurt? a salad? and more - but now I can't remember, I just remember eating a TON!).
I decided to go to bed to get some sleep. The midwife said many women wake up in labor after going to bed - get rest while I can.
I fell asleep listening to hypnobabies while Ren Man put Noah and Del to bed.

Two hours later I was awoken by a contraction and started listening to hypnobabies again. I was so tired and wanted to sleep - contractions were still about 10minutes apart, but now I was being woken half way through them and they were overwhelming. After three go-to-sleep-wake-up-overwhelmed-by-contraction, I gave up on going to sleep in between.
Active labor had begun. It was 10:30pm. Suddenly I wondered why I had been wishing for this all day long. I suddenly wanted to crawl out of my own body. The midwives checked on me. Vocalization was definitely happening. The midwife's assistant said she didn't want to interfere with my instincts, but maybe - and here I wasn't sure what she was suggesting - some different kind of noise might be a little more gentle on my throat. But I didn't get what she was suggesting as an alternative.
At some point in here I told Ren Man I was too old for this and I was glad it was the last time.
Besides vital checks, the midwives were still downstairs and I wasn't sure what I wanted in terms of being with just Ren Man or having someone else there too. I threw up. Chicken wings (which is maybe why I know for sure they were part of my huge last meal). Then I started shivering. I wasn't cold, but I was shivering. I asked Ren Man for some more Red Raspberry Leaf tea and to tell the midwives I was shivering because I presumed they would know that meant we were even closer. At the same time, I really didn't want Ren Man to leave the room.


He brought back the beverage. I had hypnobabies in my ears but I was arguing with the woman, partly for Ren Man's benefit ("you're lying, this is not calm and peaceful!", for example). Soon after the midwife's assistant came upstairs and did vitals. She asked if I wanted to shower. No, no, I didn't want to do that. I wanted to stay in my cave. I remembered with Noah, the shower didn't make anything happen quicker and maybe slowed things down.
But then, okay, yeah - we can try a shower.
Oh, shower. I love you.
But when the first contraction hit, I panicked. In the bedroom I'd been leaning over a birthing stool during contractions. In the shower, a large stall shower, there was nothing to rest on. I grabbed onto one of the molded shelves on the opposite wall from the shower head and did a high squat. That worked. And I focused on the feeling of the water hitting my back.
The midwife's assistant talked about making different noises again. My throat WAS sore. I asked her to get my teeth brushing stuff. I kept coughing because my throat hurt and thought maybe it was from throwing up. In fact, insisted that it was from throwing up, not the noises I was making! She didn't argue with me (and I keep meaning to message her and say she was right - the next day - sore throat).
"Do you want to take a break from the shower, so you don't run out of hot water?" the midwife's assistant asked after several contractions.
"No, there's enough water," I said firmly.
More contractions.
"Are you pushing because you want to or because your body wants to?" She asked.
"I don't know," I replied, maybe whimpering.
I happened to see the midwife's assistant's face and saw she was dripping with sweat.
I realized I was hot!

So out I came and waddled to the bedroom. The midwife was waiting and the midwife's assistant listened to the baby's heartbeat again. Then they decided to listen to the heartbeat during a contraction. When the next one came, that once very helpful birthing stool paled in light of how the shower had helped.
"I need to get back in the shower", I said strongly and everyone agreed that the shower would be our next stop. As soon as the midwife's assistant called out a heartbeat number, I told her to take away the doppler. It was too much.
Suddenly things were intense. I reached inside myself and felt the head. I tried to push it back up.
"NO NO, never mind! CANCEL! CANCEL! I don't want a baby!" I yelled. (At this point my mother in law apparently went to check on Del and Noah. They said they were okay but Noah said: "I just want to get a little sleep around here!").
"I don't want this baby anymore!!" I said.
"Okay, you birth the baby and I'll bring it home with me," the midwife assured me.
I tried squatting, as that's what I did with Del and it worked well.
"No, no, that's not good! It's too intense! I can't do this, make it stop! I'm all done - I CAN'T!!" I yelled during a contraction.
"But you ARE doing it!" one of the midwives said.
"Keep talking, keep saying that!" I told them between a contraction.
As a strong sense of pushing started again: "can I try all fours instead, squatting is too much!!"
"Do whatever feels right," they said.
"But will it be less intense?" I asked desperately as I found a tiny space (our bedroom is small) to fit my body on the floor on fours.
"Ring of FIRE!" I said a few times as I felt the head stretching my skin.
I heard someone ask where Ren Man was. Someone said he was getting Del, who had said she wanted to be woken for the birth.
"DEL! Hurry!" I yelled.
I reached between my legs with one hand.
I felt the head coming outside and the midwives encouraged me to slow the head down to minimize tearing. I tried, but also wanted it over! I felt the head fill my hand; wet, warm, and covered with hair.
When the head was fully out, I was so relieved ... but also panicked that the shoulders of this obviously 15lbs baby were going to be as hard to birth as the head. Another slight push and the baby was out. (Ren Man said it looked like the head came out and then the body with no time in between.) The midwife's assistant passed the baby through my legs and I scooped it up to hold close. It was a little before 3am and pushing had taken about 3minutes. My water had been broken for 22.5 hours.


(Ren Man informed me after that I was ridiculous because it went like this: "I CAN'T DO THIS, I DON'T WANT A BABY ANYMORE hi-baby-you're-so-beautiful..."). I couldn't believe the baby was here! A head full of dark hair and a body covered in vernix - another first! I rubbed the waxy substance into some smooth baby skin and marveled. Then checked, and wasn't too surprised to find I had predicted right - a girl! Del was so excited.
Noah and Del had been quick to latch on and start nursing, not this girl. She had me laughing as she licked and squirmed but never latched.


I moved to the bed with some help. I started shaking again, but it didn't last long. Noah asked about the cord and I showed him how it was still in my body connected to the placenta. I was surprised that he seemed really comfortable with my lack of clothes and thankful for the opportunity to normalize birth.
Soon after I birthed the placenta that was put in a low baking dish. I wasn't too worried about birthing the placenta quick after birthing the baby in theory but the midwife said it would feel better to have it out - and she was right. With little effort it was out and it felt wonderful to be empty of pregnancy. The midwife suggested I take ibuprofen so I asked my mom to get some - with a few strawberries (my gestational diabetes left no room for fruit, so I was excited to have fruit - but nervous to have too much yet). Yum! Sweet strawberries!!
About this time I felt a warm stream of pee go down my side - a ton of pee! So we knew her systems were working.
There was talk of how much she weighed. The midwives had predicted 7.5ish lbs before she was born. I said 7lbs 3oz because Noah was 8lbs 3oz and Del was 9lbs 3oz and I hoped this baby was smaller. Now that this human was visible, the midwife said she looked smaller than 7lbs but no one was rushing to do a newborn exam. There was all the time in the world for that later.

The midwives disappeared. The grandmothers and Ren Man and the kids all gathered close. I'm not sure what everyone else was doing, I couldn't stop staring at this perfect person who had just been inside of me. I could not believe all the vernix, even thicker in every crevice. You could tell Noah was excited because he just.kept.talking. Del said she was tired but wanted to snuggle with Grammy for a few minutes. My mom went to her bed. Noah kept.talking. We told Noah it was a big exciting night but he needed to get some more sleep, it was the middle of the night. So he reluctantly went to his bed.
Soon I heard: "Mom, it's too late."
"What do you mean?" I called back to Noah.
"It's too light outside. It's morning time," he called back.
"Just try closing your eyes," I suggested.
I didn't hear from him again.


The midwives returned and felt how low the uterus was (hard and shrinking - yay). I asked about weighing the baby and they did that as Ren Man slept with his head at the footboard. She was 6lbs even. Unreal! I grew a little baby!! The midwife was so pleased - pleased about the baby's size and pleased she'd been present at the birth.
"how are you feeling?" I asked, remembering she had also been struggling physically this whole time. She assured me that they would go to the ER when they left.
The midwife stayed with the baby to do her newborn check while the assistant walked me to the bathroom. I was surprised to pee a ton!
With me and the baby settled back into bed, the midwives said their goodbyes, which felt bitter-sweet. The baby laid on my belly and I dozed, finding that I was so very tired. I was also hungry. I was half-asleep at times and half forgetting that the baby was outside now, because her squirms and kicks on my belly felt the same outside as they had when she was inside.

The next morning, everyone woke around 8am. Ren Man brought the most delicious sweetened yogurt with granola and strawberries. I took a picture of the placenta (our second lotus birth), still attached to our baby.


Noah grabbed the camera and enthusiastically took pictures for the rest of the day.
The moms grabbed the laundry (mostly towels) from the bedroom and whisked off the laundry.
All that heartburn had been for a reason. Her hair is exactly like Noah's as a newborn.
We got a good look at her eyes. Noah's had immediately looked brown and Del's were seeming more brown but was unclear. This baby has the more typical slate grey color...




Cruising through Facebook (and honestly stressing a bit about when and what to post), I saw that our midwife had posted saying that while she's very pro-alternative medicine, she was feeling thankful for western medicine as she'd had emergency gall bladder surgery. It wasn't hard to put two and two together - she'd gone to the emergency room after attending my birth and had emergency surgery! I don't know, I've never had gall stones, but from what I've been told by women who have birthed and had stones - stones are worse. It's like birth, with no break between contractions and no baby at the end! Wow, just wow.



When the midwives returned for a one day checkup, the baby was down to 5lbs 10oz. At her 3 day checkup she was 5lbs 140z.
Nursing this baby is like nursing for the first time. With Noah I was wondering if it was my positioning or an incorrect latch. Now I just know that it takes a week or so for breasts to be acclimated to their new role. And seeing her bounce back weight-wise was affirming. (And yes, my midwife who had had emergency gall bladder surgery after nights of being in so much pain she couldn't sleep, was at our house a day later to check on us.)


Our parents are always very respectful of our parenting choices and trust us to make the decisions we think are best for our family. Apparently this isn't typical.
Having said that, my mom had some reservations about a home birth which she balanced with her trust in me - not just to be able to birth but to have done the research about home birth. The next day, it was so cool to hear both of our moms say that they felt very strongly positively towards homebirth after witnessing this. They pointed out benefits that I hadn't even thought of - like the amount of attention and care received in your home, versus out of your home where the care providers are potentially responsible for many women at once.


The midwife pointed out that we got our small baby and our home birth. And it wasn't always certain this was going to end this way, given the gestational diabetes. She asked how I felt pushing compared when it happened spontaneously (like this time) versus with intention (like the last births). That soon after birth, I wasn't sure. It was nice to be done so quickly and for it to just happen ... but it wasn't so fun to feel out of control of the pressure being put on my body. With more time to think about it, this is the way to go.


Name: Rye Lorraine
Birthdate: June 17th
Time: 2:58am
Weight: 6lbs
length: 19"


Writing out my memories it became clear that the timing and/or details that I wanted to remember were at times fuzzy. Actual active labor to birth was about 6 hours - but it felt like maybe 2. So I'm not sure events are necessarily in the right order - especially during those 6 hours. And I'm sure I'm forgetting details. She'll be a week old tomorrow and I can't believe how fast the time has gone! I'm relishing every moment because Del and Noah are a constant reminder of how fast Rye will grow.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pregnancy and what I don't want to forget

Not too much longer now, and unlike with Del's pregnancy, we know the plan is to not get pregnant again. (With Del, we didn't have an opinion either way about whether that would be the last pregnancy or not ... until after she was born).
I always tell photography clients who are seeking a maternity shoot that this time is so relatively short in comparison to life. It's hard to remember looking back that you actually had that baby inside of you and your belly grew to accommodate your baby. It feels long in the present, but it's just not. Pregnancy is fast.
So I'm trying even more so to live in the moment, relishing every pregnant detail.
This time I'm waddling. A first. And it started around 20 weeks gestation. I've realized this has nothing to do with how small or big I am, just how loose my pelvis is.
Everyone comments on how tiny I am. And to be fair, I have a hard time gaining weight (this is largely due to a restricted diet that comes with gestational diabetes. At least, that's my theory. I think of oreos, doritoes, tacos, pasta, etc were part of my diet, it wouldn't be so hard to gain and keep weight on.).
I want to wear a shirt that says: "I'm 8mos pregnant. Yes, really."
And even when people are saying: "you're so small!" - I feel like I look huge. I know "huge" is culturally a negative thing, but not in this case. I can't believe how much my stomach has stretched. I keep feeling amazed that my body has done this!
I can't walk as fast. And I'm often out of breath more quickly.
But I also don't realize how much I'm doing until I sit down and realize my body is tired!
It's harder to squat than last time (say for milking - although I wasn't milking last time, I was faithfully squatting to prepare for birth).
When pregnant, it seems the rest of my body gets smaller, my muscles become more defined, and my belly grows.


This baby seems to be the most active of the three pregnancies.
I try to keep this in perspective - I'm experiencing this pregnancy now, and memories fade. So maybe I'm exaggerating? But I don't think so. They say that babies form a routine in utero and take naps.
I don't think this one naps at all.
Ever.
It's constantly constantly on the move.
You can see it bump, nudge, and rub my belly as my skin moves across my uterus.
And it can be intense. This is a strong person and I'm seeing a lot of heel pushed up against me, I'm guessing.
Even intense movement, I want to remember. How amazing to think there is a person inside of me!

Braxton Hicks are real. This time. And all the books/websites say Braxton Hicks are "mildly noticeable" at worst. That's a lie. They are most definitely noticeable. And if this was a first baby, I'd have been the mom who cried labor multiple times already. The pressure from these contractions wakes me in the night. That's not "mildly noticeable". And if there isn't a bathroom nearby - watch out! The contracting uterus puts intense pressure on my bladder. When we're out and about (say, in the car), this can be awful. I take a deep breath, shocked by the sudden need to empty my bladder, while trying to relax through a Braxton Hicks.
The children find this incredibly funny ... after Ren Man told them the baby finds my bladder and squeezes it and says: "oooh, this is squishy squishy!" So now the children will randomly say to me: "squishy, squishy" in a sing-song voice. As a side note: laughing while trying not to pee is really hard.


This baby has been head down with its back to my right, and feet and hands pushing on my left side. It's not uncommon to get a jab to my bladder, or a head (I presume) rolling across my bladder. Hiccups happen occasionally - maybe once or twice a day. I remember Noah having hiccups and it was painful because it was right under my ribs.

Physically, I feel great overall. Yeah, it's harder to breathe and I'm starving one minute and two bites later feel super full ... only to be starving 20 minutes later. And the gag reflex is still intense at times.

Colostrum happens before the baby comes. I can't believe how full and ready these milk makers look and feel!

The hardest thing about this pregnancy has been diabetes. I'm so so relieved that my numbers have been fine after some weeks where they kept creeping up. I think what made a difference was increasing veggie intake significantly (a large salad a day). I'm sure experience has also helped, I know what works and what doesn't and just hammering that out has been huge. For example, conventional gestational diabetes advice includes a night-time snack - as in, right-before-bed, to decrease the risk of "dawn phenomenon" where your number spikes in the morning. I found that a night time snack doesn't help, and seems to increase my fasting number. So if I'm hungry before bed, I'll eat something small, but my number is lower if I skip the night-time snack.


Diabetes has been so stressful because it limits my diet, making food an obsession. You have to think about every.single.bite and its potential effect. For a few stressful (and tearful) weeks when those numbers kept inching up, it was very frustrating. What more could I do?! If my numbers didn't come back down, insulin talk would begin. If insulin was started, then the homebirth was off the table. And that was very discouraging.
Ren Man started doing (even more) research and found that people on low carb diets will have a sugar numbers without huge swings post-meal. What this means for fasting numbers is that they tend to be higher than the conventional norm. This doesn't mean it's HIGH though, in comparison to the conventionally recommended diabetes diet (that includes carbs).
After seeing this, suddenly my numbers weren't so scary and even started declining into that conventionally expected range (this all refers to fasting numbers as post-meal numbers were always more than okay - they need to be below 140, and were typically below 100). Which speaks highly of the effect stress can have on those numbers!


In light of gestational diabetes, the midwife asked that I see an OB she trusts for a second opinion. I was nervous. An OB!! She ended up being really authentic and as mellow an OB as can be, I'm thinking. She did say she wanted an ultrasound. My feeling is - it shouldn't just be done to be done, there should be a purpose. And the big concern with diabetes is a big baby. I'm measuring over 2 weeks small based on fundal height. But that has wiggle room for inaccuracy - as does everything. Ultrasounds are no different - I've read they can be up to two pounds off. So telling someone they are having a 10lb baby, could really be an 8lb baby ... or a TWELVE lb baby!
The ultrasound happened at 32weeks when the average baby is 3.75lbs. This baby was 3.5lbs. Well, inaccurate or not, it was nice to have an ultrasound show a smaller reading rather than a larger one.

So here are my baby predictions: I think it's a girl, lots of dark hair, hoping for blue eyes, she'll come early (I'm guessing June 13 - the day after our last wedding, or June 21 - the day after our annual solstice party) .... but this baby has been a surprise all along and if it's small then maybe this is the baby that will go past my due date?, she'll be 7.5lbs (smallest baby yet). I'm nervous about how active this baby is! We'll see how that plays out after birth :)

I'm so relieved that we're homebirthing. No matter what, there will be a baby. I know. But the thought of just birthing without having to over think anything (is this it? Or not yet?) or stay on guard to be sure silly things like wearing your own clothes or eating when you're hungry can happen.

Is there anything else I'm going to forget about pregnancy? It's hard (and I had forgotten that) and it also feels so empowering. I'm growing a person. I'm going to birth a person. Our family will grow. And my diabetes sugar numbers are awesome.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dear Noah :: 9years old

Dear Noah,
You are the kid who made me a mom and now you're so close to a decade old. We've lately been looking through baby pictures anticipating the arrival of your new brother or sister and it's so hard to believe that that baby is the big kid sitting next to me, snuggling in for a closer look.
Every year, I think, you look and act more like Dad. Sometimes it has me rolling my eyes, usually it has me grinning big.


I have realized that you are a pro and winding up your sister, but it takes a lot for you to notice that someone is winding you up - you rarely take the bait. That goes hand in hand with your easy going nature.
You love video games. Obsessed. It's all you want to do/talk about/spend money on/think about. Obsessed. It's such a hard balance of letting you self-monitor your video game consumption versus encouraging you to vary your life experience. We talk about how even if you only ate green beans (arguably healthy) it wouldn't be healthy to eat them all.the.time at the exclusion of any other food source. So it is with video games. They are fun and have lots of benefits, but it's not okay for that to be the only thing you do. You get it, and you're good with the limits set for the most part - but if you had free range entirely, that's all you'd do.


If someone is hurt, you're the first to ask if they are okay.
You love carbs, but have a limit on sweet things.
Recently you've had times where you feel like organizing and picking things up - like your bedroom -even when most of the disarray wasn't yours.
You value time to be quiet and think (known as "thinking time").
You also love listening to upbeat music, at volume: loud!
In light of video-gaming, you've also become adept (for the most part) at researching games.
You're not usually a phone person, but you go through occasional phases where you ARE a phone person.
Usually you opt out of board games.
You enjoy reading - the funnier the better; being read TO is the best.


After a few years of asking, I finally signed you up for basketball. You like soccer better, but might do basketball again. It was fun to see you readily included with a team that all knew each other from school. It also was fun to see you figure out the "rules" of being in an indoor school gym. While everyone else was running around loudly and stealing balls from one another, you were hesitant, especially in the earlier practices. During games, at first, you were more apt to hand the ball off to a persistent opposing team member, rather than keep possession.
Throughout the season, you went from never having touched a basketball to being able to run and dribble at the same time. A basketball was a perfect birthday gift.


You also discovered ice skating this year. I was amazed at how quickly you took to ice skating! You wore shorts all winter - yes, during this record-breaking-cold winter. To be fair, you didn't go outside much, and relative to the outside temps, the ice rink felt warm! It also made you easy to spot as you skated around, with more confidence each time we made it to the rink.

People keep asking if you want a brother or sister. You say, a little bit more you want a brother because of our "history", as you call it. A break from sisters wouldn't be a bad thing (our girls went home a little over a month before your birthday, after being here for 18mos). I've recently realized you REALLY want a boy, but you tone it down, I think to take care of me. I really think it's a girl, and you say you're okay with that.


You amaze me. I can't believe you're half way to 18! I'm so thankful for the person you've been, the person you are, and the person you're becoming.

Love you always,
Mom

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dear Del ... at seven years old!!

Dear Del,
Another year! And now you're a SEVEN year old kid. Again, it's amazing it's only been a year. We've done so much, you've grown so much, and at the same time, we're still here, on our farm living our life. You've become increasingly ... um, screechy? Maybe that's the way to say it? It seems that any action someone else takes, is clearly an attack against you - at least, in your own mind. This is stressful for all and hard to know how to approach.
The biggest change for you this year, was your sisters moving back to their dads. This is what fostering is. And while you were sad to see them go and you miss them, you were also happy to see them go. I think that feeling was shared by everyone - me, you, the girls, daddy, Noah ...
And overtime, the screechy-ness ebbed and your immediate assumption that someone sniffed because they were mad at you eased. You're still drama and you still take things personally (that are not personal in the least), but you seem more comfortable in your own skin.


And it wasn't the whole year that was like that - mostly the weeks leading up to your birthday, which were also the weeks leading up to the girls moving home and involved a drawn out transition - which was challenging for everyone. Up until that point, we were having regular life, you featured as the oldest sister. You patiently read to a girl less than a year younger than you and loved playing dress up games with her. You tolerated a sister a few years younger than you, and doted on a sister 4 years younger.

You've found a passion for reading - comic books and chapter books. You like Judy Blume, Garfield, Junie. B, and most recently these random unicorn books that Grammy found for you. When you're not reading, you're a whirlwind wherever you go. When you're done with a book, you drop it; when you're done with your coat, you drop it; when you're done pouring milk into your granola, you leave it on the counter.


You're also the first one to help with a chore when asked (washing dishes! stacking wood!) and check in when you're feeling sad or you notice someone else is feeling sad. Life is fully of ups and downs and you're often looking for the person to hold responsible to remedy the situation. This can be awesome, or it can be not awesome ("guys, time to finish up on the video games." "It's not MY fault! You're the one who SAID we could do screen time!"). You're strong and smart and funny. You can come across as so confident with a huffy puff, a foot stomp, and an eye roll. And a half hour later be a ball of mush in my arms because someone didn't ask how you were doing. You're complicated. And I sit and wonder sometimes because we can feel another neurofibroma on your forehead, or near your eye. And what we've read is that learning disabilities - often with memory/reading are common. So you blow me away when you read incessantly (and correct me when I read aloud, insisting that you are right) or when you are obsessed with getting through math lessons or practicing handwriting. Like you can't get enough of life!


We've had camping trips and amusement park days. We've said bye to some great friends and you're a pro at talking on the phone now. A lot. You love every color of the rainbow, except brown or black. You insist that whatever whacky clothing combo you pick out is totally normal and not a big deal. You are disorganized to a fault, mostly because you have more important things to do in life (primarily reading). You have found a new love for twirly dresses and would love to wear dresses every day. But as always, you are "cool" only - no one is to call you "cute" or "adorable" or "sweet" or anything similar. Or they get a growl from you. Although, you recently went to work with daddy (which you LOVED and rocked with your socialness spilling all over) and people were calling you cute, etc all over the place. And you didn't growl. I was shocked to hear this. "They didn't know I didn't like to be called "cute"", you explained with a shrug like it was no big deal. After 4 years of growls. I'm impressed. And I realized this was another step in your growing process - seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

And when people ask if you're excited about being a big sister, you remind them that you've already been a big sister. But you are excited about a new baby. You want to be the first to hold the baby and you insist that we all have to agree on a name. And if we have to vote, then we will .... (except in our experience, a "vote" to you is only valid if the majority agrees with you).


You are exactly the kind of grownup I want you to become. Strong, thoughtful, sensitive, independent, compassionate ... sometimes all those wonderful attributes are hard to manage in a seven year old body. We'll keep holding your hand, helping you navigate those feelings as best we can. It's not just you who broke down crying when we got the call that the girls were leaving ... and then when asked if we were sad - we both said: "I don't know!".
I'm so proud of you, navigating all that you do with fierceness and a grin all mixed together.

I'm so so thankful you're our daughter. I can't wait to see what the next year brings - bumps, scrapes, bruises and all!

Hugs (but no kisses at your insistence),
Momma

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Our rules for baby-naming


With Noah, naming was easy. At 9 weeks gestation, I said: "I like the name 'Noah' if it's a boy." and Josh said: "I like the name 'Sophie' if it's a girl." And that was that. Noah if it was a boy and Sophie it was a girl and we were both happy.
But we also learned some things.
Like, the name you love when naming your firstborn is likely a name that many love. In the case of Noah, it was 6th the year he was born, and has climbed even higher since. Fortunately, for us, he was a boy because if he'd been a Sophie - well, that was number one that year. And Sophie has the added complication of having many variations (Sofie, Sophia, Sofia) so Sophie when all those versions are added together is very very popular.
For baby #2 the only rule was - not in the top 100. We were pretty set on a boy name but the girl name was a struggle. And after suggesting 50+names (literally) and having Ren Man turn down every.single.suggestion, I jumped at Madeleine, with the nickname Del, because I could live with it. At that point, if he had suggested Butt Head, I probably would have said "YES!" - just so the poor thing had a name.

For this baby, we've articulated many more rules. There has also been the list of 50 (before we hammered out the "rules"), that were turned down. But I think this is it:

1. Can't be too popular (ideally not in the top 100 names)
2. Can't start or end like someone else's name in our immediate family
      ie. the name can't start with a J, S, N, or D (M is a maybe)
          the name can't end with the sound /a/ or /el/
3. The name also can't end in a long /e/ as this can sound cutesy

I think those are all the rules.
Now hit me with your baby names! Feel free to be unique, think outside the naming box. We like familiar words/names just not ones where the chance of them having a peer with the same name is very likely.
Ideas?!?!