Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dear Rye :: 4mos

Dear Rye,
You're so close to rolling over. Okay. Fine. You've rolled over more than once, but not when I'm in the room, so I'm not sure at you intentional you are. And also. I'm not ready. I can't believe you're 4months old. (I also can't believe I gave birth four months ago.) People talk about starting solids at 4months old. Solids - like food! I can't even imagine that with you.
You nurse whenever, wherever, and rarely pop off yourself. So you're getting a ton of breastmilk ... and there's a ton of spit up that goes with that (although, Noah and Del have asked me clarify why we just don't call it puke).

You're such a momma's girl - it's crazy. Dad says you last about 15minutes before you suddenly lose it if I'm not there. I don't think it's quite that bad, but maybe. You are chill being passed from person to person (it happens a lot at the store), but you wiggle with your whole body and give me a huge grin when you see me across the room. To be fair, you're not too stingy with your smiles. You're happy to grin big and wiggle around whenever anyone looks at you. You might be most excited to see your siblings though, which is really cool. You've started giggling this month too - so Del and Noah have all kinds of fun trying to get you to laugh.

You're putting weight on your legs and seem to be trying to lift your head up off flat surfaces - like starting to do a sit up? I don't know what you're doing - but your ab muscles surprise me!
You're still tiny, but like Noah's "big" seemed "normal", your "petite" seems "normal". Then we see a baby that is very close in age and are surprised at how monstrous the other baby seems. This happens every time. So that makes me think you are actually small. Which is fun, because you act your age, in a tinier human form than the average. Yet those hands (feet too) are so so huge!

You've totally discovered your hands this month and it's cracking us up. You often grab at your hands in a nervous way or in a "I am scheming" way. But you also grab those hands and your eyes cross as you concentrate on them ... and then shove them in your mouth. Because the teething is real. You're gnawing on your hands and on mine (and anyone else's) and the saliva is overwhelming so there's lots and lots of drool.

Your favorite time of day is still morning. As soon as you see a person, you're smiling at them, big. When the swaddler comes off, there's a big warm stretch, then smile, smile, smile. You sleep awesome at night, but it's like sleeping with another grown person - the wiggles, burps, farts, grunts ... yep. Who knew a baby could be so loud and expressive with bodily noises?

Sometimes you fall asleep in the day in my arms. If you wake suddenly, your eyes are red and you look around all confused. Once again, making us laugh.

You continue to charm everyone who sees you - it's like they've never seen a baby before. People often comment that your face isn't a baby face - like you already have mature features. More than once you've had two grown men smiling and cooing and doing anything they can to get a grin from you. More than once someone has asked if you are for sale, at the store. Del is always quick to say "no way!" Noah is still holding out for you to learn to love video games.
We also have to remember that this is the month I told the kids to entertain you as I rushed out of the room to help a customer. Del dramatically turned her back to you and took a few steps away - then quick! - turned to you and shouted "boo!". Your face crumpled up and you started bawling. It was just too scary. We laughed and laughed.
The next day the three of you hung out at Grammy and Grampy's while I went to this photo shoot and that one. Grammy said you had the same reaction when Noah shouted "boo!" at you. Grammy assured Noah that it was an accident. He replied with certainty that it was no accident, he knew shouting "boo!" would cause the reaction it did. Brothers!

As the temperature drops and we head into the cold season, I don't feel I can get enough layers on you! So thankful for babywearing, when appropriate. But it also reminds me that you'll be experiencing so many firsts! There's already been your first snow-fall. If it stays this cold I'm going to see if we can have you skip trick-or-treating, even though Del and Noah have big plans for dressing you up. But I'm excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas with you.
Funny to think that this time last year we didn't even know you were already gestating - and now you're this interactive person! And at Thanksgiving we were keeping you a secret and at Christmas we were finally telling everyone ... and this year you're here - with your smile on!

We love you always,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

And that is how we accidentally became bakers

Last March I briefly alluded to a project in the works but still under wraps because we weren't sure it was going to go through.
And that was just about the last in-depth blog post because we've been so insanely focused on getting this project up and running.
Now finally is 5 minutes (or more) to catch up on sharing what we've been up to.

We decided to bite the bullet and just do whatever it took to get the creamery built because we've been dragging our feet on cheese-infrastructure-building, always uncertain of what the best thing to do would be, and where the money was coming from to make possibly-not-the-best-infrastructure-choices.
So we called our local independent home center and had them deliver trusses. The plan was to create the creamery over an existing slab that was installed by a previous owner with the intent of building a garage ... which didn't happen when the previous owner died days after the slab was poured.
It already has the required drain in the floor and we "just" need to put up walls and a roof.
On a Wednesday the trusses were delivered.
It was freezing (you may remember?) and we were excited to be able to get started ... but the cold deterred us from doing more than clearing space near the slab for the delivery of the trusses.
The next day, owners of a nearby restaurant called.
Their building had been for sale for over a year and they heard we had expressed interest back in the fall (are you following this timeline?). At that time there was another interested party and they were looking like they were going to buy the building. But that had fallen through.
Were we still interested?

This was February.
I told Ren Man I was pregnant and couldn't make the decision.
But it wouldn't hurt to go look (keep in mind, this was half way through a pregnancy and at the start of the girls we were fostering starting to transition home - not that there was a lot of emotions going on in general).
So we went to look.
And it looked better inside than out, in my opinion.
And the sellers were motivated.
And the building already had the walls and roof - we would just need to install a floor and we'd have our creamery!
And it's on a main road (unlike our farm), so we could have the farm store there.
Actually, what if we had a farm store with a viewing window to see the cheese-making?
And not just a farm store with our products - but what if we brought in as many local sustainable farm goods?
And there's high speed internet (which we can't get at home) so my dad could telecommute from there instead.
And since we have the space, maybe we should do a coffee shop too - my parents have wanted to do a coffee shop f.o.r.e.v.e.r!
And Ren Man could bake - pies, breads, cookies, pastries ... oooh! And what if we did pizza and local beer on tap too?!!?
And there's nothing in our town currently, apart from a gas station which doubles as a mini-grocery store/pizza joint.
This could be perfect!

We roped my parents in quick and they jumped right in, adding their own enthusiasm to the mix.
We told the owners - YES! - and then contacted a lawyer to get the ball rolling.
We waited months.
And months.
We felt like we couldn't go too public about our intentions because we'd heard rumors that this property had fallen through before a closing happened with other prospective buyers.
Meanwhile, we have trusses sitting in the driveway that can't be returned.
Until finally the closing happened.
We closed at the beginning of May.
We assumed we'd be open by July 15th - after all, we were expecting a baby in the next few months - the middle of July would give us plenty of time to get the building up and ready, birth a baby, and recover from birth.
I remember ripping out three horizontal barn boards that formed part of a half wall we wanted to open up. That exhausted me in my nearly-done-being-pregnant state. So I laid down on a bean bag that had been brought down to the store, specifically for this purpose.
I napped for an hour.
Less than a week later, and when Rye was two days old, I walked into the store and saw the missing barn boards and the bean bag. I laughed at how little I'd done but how big an accomplishment it felt at the time. I also had a huge feeling of dread - what had we done in taking on this project?!

After much structural work, extensive cleaning, and an impressive amount of painting (that I didn't do, because - pregnant), and debating a new business name and agonizing over a logo ...we opened with great anticipation in early September.

:: This is a very quick version of our life this summer to catch you up to speed. This was all very stressful, feeling we were maxing ourselves out and scared out of our minds in terms of not knowing when we could open or how long it would take to feel somewhat comfortable financially again. All this while I was trying desperately to be in baby lala land and Ren Man was desperately trying to get the building ready for opening and my mom (who thankfully has a very light work schedule in the summer) doing a ton of the farm work including milking and momming me, and my dad was trying to juggle the desire to help get the business open as well as his full time job.
We are doing much better now that we're open because all that work is finally being rewarded - but it was intense for several months after Rye's birth.::

And in the end it's kind of perfect. We're having so much fun. Farmhouse Pantry has been open 2 weeks. And yes. It's exhausting. But it's also so so satisfying. And it's getting easier every day.
It's like our whole adulthood we've been trying to create community. And we do. We do it really well. We bring together awesome people and tribes are born. It's a beautiful thing.
But it doesn't pay bills. And yet it's what we spend so much energy doing, unintentionally, because we find it so satisfying. We love seeing people make deep authentic connections with each other. So we foster that. It's amazing stuff.
And now we've figured out how to make it pay bills.
A store.
A cool hippy store that attracts an amazing community.

More than once we've had friends and acquaintances stop in - people we haven't seen for days or months. They would never randomly stop by our house (you usually have to be intentional about coming up to our house because it's off the beaten path). But because we're on the main road and we're "open" - people come. And obviously not just people we know. Lots and lots of really cool people we've never even met before. Our community is growing exponentially.

They come for the amazing coffee, the delicious baked goodness, the authentic farm products - and maybe just for the free wifi, because believe it or not, that's not a common offering in our area.

The creamery is coming too. It's closer to being a reality today than it was yesterday or last week or definitely last year. It's all coming together - even better and richer and fuller than we could have predicted.
Oh, and the trusses are up and the garage framed. So the would-be-creamery at the house is now actually turning into a garage ... without walls or a roof - but that will come too. In time.
That's what this whole process has taught us. It all takes longer than you think. But through that process you appreciate the result

And there's coffee. Really really good coffee.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dear Rye :: 3mos

Dear Rye,
And just like that, the fourth trimester is done. It was not as easy as the first trimester but definitely a lot more fun - and a lot easier than the second or third trimesters.
It's been a whirlwind of a month! In the very first week of this month you went on your first camping trip - but we took it easy for the first adventure. It was homeschool camp with lots of willing grownups to help ... and cabins. This was our third year going to this camp and it was so crazy thinking that the year before we didn't have birth or pregnancy or YOU on our radar at ALL. You charmed everyone and we all talked about how it's going to be very different next year. You'll have stronger opinions and you'll probably have just started walking. So this year I made sure to spend a few afternoons down on the dock. I went swimming one afternoon because it was so unexpectedly hot and you were not picky about whose arms you were in. And you were such an awesome easy-going baby the whole week. You slept well, you ate well, you smiled some. And that is the week that confirmed that you are an outdoors-y baby. We spent so much time outside and you were so relaxed.

You continue to be an amazingly easy baby. But when you are crying, the trick is to bring you outside. You immediately relax.
I tell people all the time, when they ask how you're sleeping, that I can't tell them. It's because I don't want them to feel bad. Because I remember how hard it was to have a baby that doesn't sleep in large chunks. I don't know how I could do my life if that was the kind of sleeper you were. But you're not. You go to bed, and you usually wake up sometime between 1:30-4:30 the first time. Sometimes you wake up again, sometimes you don't. It's amazing. So much so that you often are in bed before me asleep (!!) and I wake up before you to get milking done before you wake up! Often we're home late - and the later it gets in the day, the crankier you get - and I nurse you, swaddle you, and lay you in the cradle next to our bed. Then Noah stays in our bed to help keep the pacifier in your mouth, if you need it, and I go out to do night milking.

We think you may have started teething - at least feeling the effects of teeth working their way through. You're drooling a lot and not as easily soothed without breastfeeding. But you seem to overeat because you've started spitting up more ... all very similar to how Noah was as a baby. He got teeth around 5months old, and you seem to follow his patterns pretty closely. Poor baby.

On the other hand you are full of smiles and you coo in large chunks every day. It's very very adorable. Especially as you got to the end of the month.
You don't like the car. Especially the later it gets in the day. Del always insists on going with us whenever possible, but then often feels frustrated and annoyed at your crying. There are very few times you'll accept a pacifier and the car is not usually one of those times.

In other news, we opened our farm store/coffee shop/bakery this month. See? It's been a busy month. This just means more admirers for you. Everyone comment on your small size and many ask if you're a boy or a girl - I appreciate that you aren't too gendered. You sleep on my back often as I move around making a drink or unloading dishes, or chatting with a customer. I tried spreading your legs around my hips instead of froggying your legs while wearing you, but you're still too small. That's okay with me! I weighed you on the market scale and your a little over 10lbs - that's heavy enough for all the babywearing we do. Even with your small size, you're starting to grow out of your tie-dye! Sad sad. It's going to be hard to hand that down to another family. It's been so much part of you!

You love ceiling fans. You coo and laugh at them, opening your eyes wide. Nina says I was quite fascinated by them at your age.
Your hair has thinned some and has started sticking up in a fauxhawk sort of way and curled on the tip. I remember really wanting the older two kids to grow up! I was so curious what they would be at 2yrs old, at 4, at 10 ... With you, it's all going by so much quicker. I'm embracing the present so much more. I'm excited about knowing the 2, 4, 10 year old you, but that time will come soon enough. Right now I'm totally in love with this tiny nursing (right at this moment!) 3 month old Baby Rye.
Always, always,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dear Rye :: 2mos

Dear Rye,
Anyone who sees you for the first time comments on how small you are; anyone who has seen you several times comments on how big you're getting. We recently weighed you on the wii and you were just under Del's birth weight. That's unreal because you're so big to me - perfect for your age. A friend pointed out that that is what makes you so funny - you're the size of a newborn with the behavior of a two month old.

You're cooing and holding your head up and you have the biggest eyes ever, open and looking around.
It is hard to get pictures of you because you are a momma's girl to a fault. You are very insistent that you be held - preferably by mom. You are happiest in the morning and get increasingly specific and insistent about your preferences as the day wears on. So I don't know if these pictures are a super accurate representation of your month. It's a good reminder that you're still in your "fourth trimester" and I love being able to calm you with my presence.

You are quite the impressive burper - and if you aren't burning, you're farting. It shocks everyone who hears!

You met Tante A for the first time this month and she was completely smitten. Except the time Daddy and I were processing chickens. It was our second processing of the season - during the first processing day, you were young enough to sleep through most of it in your car seat a few feet from us. This month, the car seat is not your preferred resting spot. So Tante A became the default parent. This is ideal in the early part of the day - but it became less tolerable as the day wore on.

We're learning your different cries. You never cry in the night, just grunt and move around until I get you close to me if you're in the cradle - or when you're in our bed you just wiggle yourself closer. When you get hurt - like when I'm nursing, talking on the phone, and pacing the dining room and your foot hits a chair - you cry and it's so sad. So then I move to sitting down so that doesn't happen again! When you've been away from me for too long and you're tired - that's when you cry the loudest. This often happens in the car seat. You can tolerate the car seat only so long - depending on when you last ate and how tired you are.

You are so wiggly - Nina says it's you exercising. You're more alert and interactive which means Del and Noah are interested in hanging out with you again. I was feeling sad that your newborn phase was over - and it was so fleeting! But it's so fun to see how much you've already matured and think about you're becoming a more of a person every day. You may still be in 0-3mos clothes, but you're filling out the clothes more every day.
You recognize your family's voices for sure and will give them big smiles. You are most chatty with Daddy - maybe because he's the one most willing to listen.

I think your hair is starting to thin, but it's definitely the curliest of all our babies too. I'm excited to see it evolve. People always comment on your hair and how much you have but to me, it's just you.... until someone else holds you - then I see it! I guess all that heartburn was for something.
Love you always,

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Worried Mom

In many ways, I'm so easy going with this new baby. I've got experience on my side. I know that babies are generally happy, healthy, and meet their milestones even with less than ideal conditions (see fostering).
On the other hand, I have experience. I've witnessed wonderful families face challenges of ill babies (or worse!) and babies that don't meet milestones. Rye feels like such an incredible surprise, so I think I'm holding my breath - half expecting a challenge - while knowing it's silly to worry and arguably a BAD thing - I should just enjoy this time!
So while looking up "baby not making eye contact" I hear cooing and glance down at my bright eyed infant, looking directly at me, and grinning big.
Stop worrying.

PS The outside of average is 3mos - not the time to worry yet.

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,

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.