Saturday, December 8, 2012

11 months old

Just a basic journal-type entry about Henry, as he enters his last month before age one:

At 11 months old, Henry seems to be squarely on track for all baby development signs, if a little slower than his sister with mobility. He has become an adept crawler over the last two months. He is starting to pull himself up on things, balancing on his knees.

He eats a wide variety of food, and likes purees and finger foods including carrots, crackers, cereal, beans, corn, squash, apples, bananas, pears, rice, and peas.

We have been through many different phases of sleep, including a really rough patch a few weeks ago, but seem to be coming out of that into an easier pattern of falling asleep. However, he seems to be at the beginning of the transition from two naps a day to one, which makes bedtimes inconsistent.

Talking seems to be just around the corner, or may have already begun. Learning words seems to be such a gradual process, I never know when a baby crosses the line from babbling syllables to actually expressing an idea or naming something. I think he is saying mamamamamama to refer to me, and also says ba sometimes as if expressing something, but there is no consistency yet.

Henry screams loudly to protest when something he wants is taken from him (often by his sister), and squeals or gasps in pleasure at the sight of a truck rolling towards him. He giggles when it's time to nurse, and also laughs at his sister's jokes, funny faces, or just when other people laugh.

We think he is musically inclined, as he bops his body along to songs and is absolutely fascinated by instruments. He likes to play the instrument our friend Marie gave us, and spent a good 45 minutes strumming a ukelele at a friend's house.

He is big for his age, his eyelashes are still long and lovely, and his eyebrows still get frequent comments from strangers. We love our baby boy so much.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

10 months old

Baby Henry is ten months old and growing, growing, growing. Every week there are clothes to add to the "too small" bin. Every day he seems to understand something he didn't before. Just this last week, he finally learned to crawl. Like, forward. He would only go backward or sideways for the longest time, it seemed. The first time crawling from one room to another was to come from his bedroom into the bathroom where his sister and I were. He was so thrilled when he made it across the threshold and into the room with us! He immediately sat up (standard position for him) and waved his arms, kicked his legs, and squealed. I fell in love with him again, just as I do every day with each adorable thing that he does.

Nights have been a little rough lately. Henry is teething, or growing, or overwhelmed with his new learning, or something. Something that is making him wake up. Something that is making him scream for no apparent reason. And this kid can SCREAM - the high pitched, can't-hear-anything-else, makes you wince, kind of scream. It's unpleasant. Today, while I was trying to get him to nap, he bit me so hard on the arm that he got a little skin pulled up (and he bit me through my shirt). I said OW loudly, and set him down on the bed. He immediately screamed, and then cried with screaming for the next few minutes while I rocked him, until he fell asleep. On the bright side, he slept for more than an hour, which we all really needed.

Every day as a parent seems to contain both laughter and tears, peace and chaos, hugs and bites.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Family in Pictures

The talented photographer Amanda Reed did family photos for us about a month ago. Here are a few:



Eye contact

He thinks we're funny - You guys stuck me in a bucket?!

Best sister, cutest pose

Pure sweetness

toothy!

My sister, just returned from two years in Madagascar, with her niece and nephew

I'm pretty sure these are the cutest kids in the world.
I know I will treasure these pictures forever. Thanks, Amanda!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Three and a half

My darling daughter has unique tastes.
  • lunch yesterday: peanut butter, mayonnaise, cheese, pickles, and pretzels in one sandwich
  • outfit today (and regularly): all pink - shirt, tights, skirt, undies, shoes
  • hair: down, with the biggest barrettes or headbands or both that she can find. Sometimes she will let me braid it or do a ponytail, but she prefers it down and wild
Some of my favorite things she is saying lately:
  • "let's all split up and work together"
  • "we can do it with teamwork!"
  • "acciwentady" (accidentally)
  • "Mom, that's not my plan!"
  • singing "Henewy, stop crying! There's no crying in baseball, or in volvos" in a loud loud voice in the car, which inexplicably will often actually make Henry stop crying
  • "let's do ballalet!" (dancing, ballet)
  • "that trip to the library makes me have to watch a show"
  • "I want to take a bath WITH Henry" (them in the bath together is one of the cutest things I have ever seen)

At age three and a half, Stella
  • likes to hide and be found
  • plays involved imaginary games with multiple characters, and will sometimes role play an entire book or movie, sometimes following the original plot, sometimes making changes.
  • loves "la la loopsies"
  • can sit and listen to a very long story, quietly absorbed, or watch a full-length movie
  • can also run and run and run
  • can ride a bike without training wheels, but still prefers her strider bike (no pedals) most of the time
  • remembers wrongs others have done her for weeks, or even months
  • feels sad and says she's sorry if she hurts someone
  • LOVES to make her brother laugh
  • can navigate pbskids.org on her own and has mastered most of the games
  • prefers cereal in the morning to any other breakfast
  • loves to play with friends, and is so good at asking "do you want to play with me?"
  • has many favorite books and series, including Fancy Nancy and Maisy. We read 2-4 books every night before bed, and sometimes tell stories too. After my explanation of "a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end" she can tell stories herself, but she still prefers to take turns putting a story together.
  • is already planning her 4th birthday party. Theme: Fancy Nancy AND princesses. There will be balloons and cupcakes.
  • can't decide between a butterfly and a princess for her Halloween costume
  • wants her father and me to dress fancy every day
  • loves ice cream, and her favorite restaurants are Dickie Jo's, Cornucopia (pronounced corn-a-de-copia by her), and Dairy Queen.
This age has introduced us to occasional tantrums, even stronger opinions than before, and a sassy little voice. It is also fun and endlessly entertaining. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dear Departed

My last living grandparent passed away on September 30. His obituary is here. I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Pennsylvania with my children, husband, father, step-mom, and sister, and spend time with members of my dad's family that I hadn't seen in three years. I also got to do a reading at Grandpa Bob's funeral. The sweetest moment of the whole trip for me, besides hearing people say how much I looked like my grandma Anne, was when I finished the first reading, at the front of the church my grandparents were married in, and read the thanks to the lord, and my darling daughter replied "Thank you, Mama!" She doesn't know the norms of the Catholic mass but she is learning manners.

Both kids did pretty well with the long days of traveling, thanks in large part to lots of helping hands from my family. It was so special to spend time in the place my grandparents were from and see where they are buried. We stayed in a really nice hotel, with a good free breakfast, and Henry and Stella both slept well. Really, it couldn't have gone any better. But still, it was such a great feeling to come home and sleep in our own beds and have our routine again. I am absolutely loving being home with my children this year, with the odd day of work here and there. Life keeps changing, we goodbye to those that depart, but life is good.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

So Long, Summer


Summer is officially over, in my view. Teachers are back at work, nights are cool, and it's time for preserving pears. That means fall. I didn't post a single thing on this blog all summer, but I would like to share and record some of what we did. I had a lovely summer full of fun outdoors, at the pool, the river, and my back yard. So, here are some photos to share a slice of our summer.
Above: We had a lovely lunch date with some friends at King Estate Winery this weekend. It was nice to get out and have some grown-up time with a fun couple. I'm sure what everyone would rather see are photos of my adorable children, though.
So, here are a few from a fun summer day at Odell Lake, a favorite spot for my family. Mostly, fun with hats, but also, Stella swimming in the pollen-filled lake:





Thanks to Anne for inviting us up to visit her cabin for the day! Next year you're getting Stella overnight :)

I will post more photos as I have time. We actually have another 2 weeks of summer-like activities, as we are going camping the weekend after next at another beautiful Oregon lake, Waldo, and I am not working a regular job this year! (I will be subbing, and maybe teaching online and/or scoring essays).

What's that, staying home? Well, yes, I decided to take a leave of absence from my teaching job this year, and am so happy that I made that choice. I am very glad not to be heading back to work, especially after the worst week we have ever had with Henry, which included random vomiting, low fevers, nights of screaming and coughing, a (unnecessary) visit to the ER in the middle of the night, and several conversations with our doctor, and ended with three new teeth poking through, for a total of 7, almost 8, teeth in this little guy who is not quite yet 8 months old. Could the whole thing have been caused by teething? I am skeptical, since his first 4 teeth came through with little excitement, but it does seem possible. He slept all night last night, for the first time in weeks, the day after his teeth came in. Also, I was drinking caffeine for a while and have completely cut it out again. Also possibly not causal but might as well since stopping drinking it has coincided with great sleep. It also could have been a virus of some kind. We'll probably never know.

P.S. The ER doctor said Henry was the happiest baby he had ever seen in there. I was like "yeah, that's how he normally is, which is why the last two hours of inconsolable screaming have been so distressing..." But I was just glad he was done screaming. He miraculously stopped crying as soon as we got the hospital.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What We've Been Up To

Since my last post, in March, I've returned to work, and life feels incredibly busy. The days go by so fast, even though I'm getting up earlier than ever (by 6:00 most days). I would love to share some photos but can't figure that out right now as my ancient computer is hopefully off somewhere getting fixed. At this moment, I am sitting on the bed in Henry's room, next to him as he stirs in his sleep, gazing out the window at the apple tree in my backyard that is absolutely coated in white blossoms. It's one of those spring afternoons where the sky is kind of dark and stormy but sunlight is coming in from the side and lighting up the fresh bright green-ness of everything. Just lovely. I love spring! One reason I have always loved the spring is that my birthday is in May. I'm not ashamed to admit - I love my birthday. This is the first year, though, that I will turn an age that might be seen as undesirable. Thirty years old does seem like a milestone of some kind, a bigger deal than, say, 26, but I'm not sad at all to be turning 30. I've made it to this age in pretty good shape, mentally and physically (although still have a long ways to go to in terms of post-baby body work), and am proud to be a mom, teacher, wife, doula, and friend. I read the 30 Things... list and feel like I'm doing well by the standards of that list. Although, I don't have a good suitcase yet. Birthday gift, anyone? So, what to do for a 30th birthday party? I'm not going to Las Vegas, or Rome. In fact, leaving town at all seems impractical and unappealing. One of my best birthdays in recent years was a croquet party at a local golf course. I could do that again, but an exact repeat seems not quite right somehow. I've asked for advice on facebook and am getting some interesting responses! I do have tentative plans for a late-morning movie viewing with good friends, including some light drinking and heavy snacking. This is the best way to watch a movie, if you haven't tried it before. Go early and drink your Bailey's and chocolate milk from a pre-mixed Nalgene bottle, and fill your purse with Chex Muddy Buddy's. You won't be sorry you did. But enough about me. You want to hear about the little one, I'm sure!

Henry is a giant of a baby, still. The classic oxymoron. He eats well, sleeps well most of the time, smiles a lot, and brings us so much joy. He is just learning to hold onto things and is doing little giggly, gurgly laughs on occasion. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The No-Cry Nap Solution have led us to a sleep-wake routine that seems to be working very well. He eats right away when he wakes, hangs out for a while, and when he starts fussing or yawns it's time to go back to sleep (after 1-2 hours, usually). When I follow this pattern, I don't hear him cry for days at a time.

Stella, my Sweet Pea, is doing awesome as a big sister. She does want to be in my lap more than ever, particularly when Henry is already in my lap, but jealousy has been pretty minimal. Today she had her second haircut ever, which she really needed! Her babysitter Belia did it for us, and she is very professional about it, has all the tools and does a great job. Stella has lengthened out into quite a string bean. We have been marking her height on a wall and she has made some major jumps up this year. She turned 3 at the end of February, and we had a super fun princess party for her. it was a good lesson for me in letting her choose what she wants. She is the smartest little girl I know (of course), and can count to 30 in Spanish, higher with a few prompts, recognize all the letters, write her name, and is beginning to recognize the sounds letters make. She loves to paint, draw, read, ride her bike with training wheels (a birthday gift), watch Yo Gabba Gabba (she calls it Yo Yo A Dabba), and play with her dollhouse and dolls.

We've had a busy month with many firsts for Henry, and some for Stella too. We went to Portland and went to the zoo, celebrated Easter with family, and towed both kids in the bike trailer. We've done some work on the garden, started exercising again, and learned to go to bed early (most of the time).

Life is good. Henry is waking, and I MUST get Stella up before she's completely ruined for bedtime tonight! Blessings to you. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Can't Afford That

Sweet Pea has been asking "why" for a while now, but in the last month it has become her response to practically everything I tell her. This can be fun (why is it cloudy?) and it can be frustrating (why can't I have another Lego set?). Sometimes I choose an answer I regret, because it leads to more confusion, more questions, and me doubting my own answer. One of the worst of these, I think, is the "we can't afford it" answer. First of all, it doesn't make any sense to her - money is just everywhere to her, and she sees us give money to salespeople and them giving us money right back (change). When she plays at buying things at home, imaginary money always changes hands both directions. How can a three-year-old be expected to understand things as complicated as paychecks, tax returns, and budgets? Secondly, I don't like this answer because it often rings false to me. When there is something that we really need, we buy it. We have credit cards for just that reason. Although we technically can't afford my husband's physical therapy sessions for his knee, he needs it so we do it. So maybe it's time to work on the concept of needs vs. wants with my daughter? Even then, though, the "affordability" explanation still doesn't work because sometimes, we buy things just because we want them, even though they may be outside of our budget.

One such thing was our recent session with the amazing photographer, Amanda Reed. She took family photos for us when Stella was around 18 months old, and I treasure them. I wanted to get some new photos with our newly expanded family, and was lucky to see she was offering a special for newborns. No, we didn't need these photos, but they are something that I really really wanted. They are gifts for us, for our extended family, and for future generations of our family. As Joe said, this isn't exactly something that we could wait to do until we had saved the money for it, as our baby won't be a baby forever. So affordability can become quite complex, with all sorts of calculations of personal value and values in addition to the hard facts of dollars and cents. It seems like maybe the best answer to Stella's "why can't I have that?" at the store is simply, "because you don't need it" or "because I said no." For now....

Here is one of the photos from our session in February:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nap-Time Tools

Siblings cuddling in the morning. Isn't she sweet!
Baby Henry is a fantastic sleeper. He has been giving us 6-8 hours uninterrupted at night for the last couple of weeks. He also takes long naps (often 2-3 hours) during the day, and is able to sleep in a variety of locations, including on his own in a bed. This is pretty shocking to me as my first child would pretty much only nap in my arms or in her car seat in a moving car for many months. One book that has helped me to understand baby sleep needs is The No-Cry Nap Solution. Stella was likely over-tired much of the time, and although lots of family members suggested that she needed more sleep, I couldn't figure out how to get her to sleep more or how to nap without me. Many days I didn't mind holding her for naps, but she probably could have slept longer if I had been able to put her down. Simply laying her down in her crib or co-sleeper when she was drowsy never worked for her, although I did try.

With Henry, I have been much more open to using tools to help him sleep. Stella never used a pacifier, Henry has had one since week 2 (with no disruption of nursing, luckily). The pacifier often helps him drift off easily. Stella also liked to suck to sleep, but for her it would be comfort nursing. That would mean though that milk would keep flowing and she would eventually get upset and spit up all the excess milk she was taking in. Another tool we have just started using is a white noise machine. The one we got is inside of a stuffed giraffe, and has a timer and 4 different sounds. He loves it! It really helps to block out the other noises of the house (particularly his older sister) and allow him to nap longer. I avoided those kinds of things with my first child, thinking that I didn't want to give her something I'd just have to wean her from later, or have her become to dependent on "things" for comfort. Having more experience now, I realize that infancy and childhood are a never-ending series of transitions. Yes, he will have to wean from the pacifier eventually, just as he will have to wean from the breast, learn to sleep in his own room, learn to walk, start eating solids, etc. etc. etc. So, I am not as worried about ending with the pacifier as I can see it is just one of many changes that we will go through together, when the time is right. And if it helps him to sleep now, then I am definitely using it! Holding Stella for naps was a sweet time, and I do still hold Henry for maybe one nap a day or so (he naps at least 4 times throughout the day), but not HAVING to hold him for every nap has given me so much more freedom and allowed me to still play with Stella and care for her and our house with much greater ease. Sometimes, the "things" of modern life really are a blessing! I do still believe that not all babies need all of the products that are marketed to us, but I am more open to trying some of those tools than I used to be.

Babies do constantly change and I expect that our great sleeper may start waking more at night as he passes through milestones. But it sure is nice for now! I hear him waking from one of his marathon naps now... Happy sleeping, everyone!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Fussy Weeks

We recently went through two challenging weeks with Henry. First, he was having trouble napping for no apparent reason, then he had a stomach virus. I was worried that I had done something to screw up his natural ability to nap, and we were never going to get back on track! However, the last few days he has been pretty much back to his pleasant, long-sleeping self. Even before this, several friends had recommended the book The Wonder Weeks. I finally got it a few days ago, and reading it helped me discover that the unexplained wakefulness/grouchiness before the illness was my little sweetheart likely passing through his 8-week fussy period. And now he has new skills! Smiling and interacting! Batting at objects! Knowing when he's about to get fed! I've read about a third of it, and am finding it is so helpful for understanding baby development and anticipating changes that will come. It also is an important reminder that sometimes babies are more fussy not because we are doing something wrong, but because they are going through major changes in the way they experience the world and they need extra comfort and support during those times. I love the full title of this book:

The Wonder Weeks: How to stimulate your baby's mental development and help him turn his 10 predictable, great, fussy phases into magical leaps forward

 What a great way to think about baby's fussy times - as leaps forward! I highly recommend this book.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Henry's Birth Story

Contains details of my birth experience - read on at your own risk.

If you have been following along, you read about how I was sick of waiting for Henry's birth, and how every day after the external version (turning around a breech baby) I thought I was in early labor, or was about to be shortly. That kind of expectation is mentally exhausting. So, in a way, I felt like I was in labor for a week before he was born. Another way of looking at it is that I was only in labor for four hours, and yet another way would be that I was only in labor for 19 minutes. I will explain.

On Saturday night, January 7, we went out to dinner with some good friends. I ate a lot of food, and I was having mild contractions about every 5-8 minutes. We went home, the contractions went away, and I got in the shower and cried. I was so tired of waiting, of being in that "at any minute" state of mind of anticipating the unknown and knowing that I was growing a bigger and bigger baby. I was also so sick of the discomforts of pregnancy, even though the sciatic pain and heartburn got much better after the version. Truly, I have appreciated having a non-pregnant body every single day since the birth. So, I took a really long shower, then I went into my room and started folding the laundry that was piled on my bed, when suddenly.... my water broke! I grabbed a towel, and stood there in a amazement for a minute. Joe walked in and I told him. I think he said "really?" and I laughed. I was so happy! This was a little after 10PM. I called my midwife and asked her to come over to listen to the baby even though I wasn't having any "real" contractions, and I had Joe make the other calls. I felt too distracted and scattered to really talk on the phone. In a way I had felt that was all week, which is one reason I feel like I was in labor all week - I was so inwardly focused and so not like my normal self for days and days. I braided the front part of my hair to keep it out of the way, as I remembered being annoyed by my hair falling in my face during my labor with Stella, then put on a maternity dress so I could have the top of my body covered while still sitting on a towel to absorb the occasionally gushing amniotic fluid. When my midwife arrived we listened to the heartbeat, then she gave me two options: either she could go home and I could try to go to sleep and call her when labor picked up, or she could lay down at our house while I took a walk with Joe to encourage stronger contractions. I chose the second option, of course!

It was a beautiful clear night with a nearly full moon, and we held hands and joked a little as we walked. We were less than a block away when I started getting stronger contractions. At first, I could still walk and talk through them, but within another block or two I had to stop walking and bend my knees and hips whenever one would come. We made it to the park in our neighborhood and I wanted to come back home. Contractions were coming every three minutes and I wanted to sit down. I labored on the ball for a while, and in the bathroom for a while, as Joe and my midwife worked on filling the tub. I had chosen to put it in the baby's room, where I had hung the banner of encouraging words that my friends and family made at my baby shower. Contractions were strongest on the toilet, and at one point my midwife told me to do three more there and then I could get into the tub. My doula had arrived in the meantime, and brought me a blanket and coconut water when I asked for it.

I got into the tub, and things become even more of a blur from this point on. My sense is that I was having contractions quite close together (still 3 min.) and they kept getting stronger. My friend Marie arrived at one point, in time to hold a bowl for me while I threw up, and my other midwife also arrived. I heard her voice but don't remember ever looking at her. I think I had my eyes closed most of the time. I had asked for my music and the started the iPod. The only song I clearly remember hearing is "I Want to Break Free" by Queen. I said "this song is for the baby" and made my support team laugh. My arms and hips were getting tired from the forward-leaning position I was in so I turned over and rested the back of my head on the side of the inflatable tub (these are awesome - I highly recommend them!). In this position, I wanted to squeeze my own hips. I felt like labor was getting really really hard at this point, and I started experimenting with groaning, grunting, and holding my breath during contractions instead of just breathing or moaning. I felt like I was going to be ready to start pushing soon. This was at about 2 AM. My midwife asked to check me, wondering if I really was close to pushing. I got to stay in the tub for this, but I was not happy with the news she had to report - 6 centimeters and the baby is high and posterior. This was such a disappointment as my sense was that I was more dilated than that and I felt like labor couldn't get any more intense than it was. I couldn't imagine hours and hours more of that strong and frequent contractions. If I had been having a hospital birth, this is the point at which I probably would have changed my plans and asked for an epidural. Instead, I used the tools I had, decided to change my position back around to leaning forward, and let my emotions out with more crying. I remember encouraging words from my doula, and then feeling like I needed to use the bathroom.

I waited until right at the end of one contraction, and got out of the tub and into the bathroom. I was in there alone, and had crazy strong contractions while sitting on the toilet. I was in a kind of inner world of only sensations, and it took me a little bit to realize that I was done using the toilet, but couldn't stop pushing and that I probably needed help. I called out something like "I need someone!" as I reached down and felt the baby's head against my perineum. Luckily my doula Laura was standing outside the door, while everyone else was in the living room discussing how I had a long haul ahead and was going to need lots of moral support, and she relayed the message. Everyone rushed in, and after a moment of uncertainty realized that yes, the baby was about to be born. I think I said that I couldn't stop pushing, and my midwife Sarah told me to open my eyes and to remember that I wanted a gentle birth. I somewhat came back to the world with these words, and was able to slow myself down and breathe. They had Joe sit on the edge of the tub, and he helped move me to leaning back onto him, kind of sitting on his lap. The baby crowned for maybe one minute, then was born at 2:19AM, at home, in my bathroom! My midwife caught him, and lifted him up to my arms. The placenta followed very quickly after. I knew he was a boy as soon as I saw his face, but checked to be sure. Joe, behind me, asked, and I tried to show him but he couldn't see over my shoulder. He says that when he asked there was a long silence which worried him, but everyone else was allowing me to be the one to announce it and I didn't realize that he couldn't see for himself. I had help walking into my bedroom - directly across the hall, luckily, and was tucked into bed for a few minutes of cuddling with my husband and new baby. Joe went and woke Stella up - I couldn't believe she had slept through everything - and brought her in to meet her brother. She was sleepy and seemed a bit confused, but was sweet. He took her back to bed after just a few minutes and she went right back to sleep.

Henry cried right away, and showed himself to have a very strong suck when he made his way up to nurse. We were amazed at his size, over nine pounds, and his thick black hair. He also surprised us all with the speedy entrance he made into the world. Within 19 minutes he went from being high up behind a 6 centimeter cervix, faced the wrong way, to being born.

Looking back, I think many details have already faded from my memory. I have had a good recovery, much faster than with my first birth, and feel like perhaps the shorter time pushing contributed to that. Although, I did say shortly after Henry's birth that I would prefer an 8-hour, mellower labor to the 4-hour intense labor I had just had, but perhaps I just don't remember quite what the 8-hour experience was like either. I am extremely grateful to have had two smooth homebirths with wonderful support teams, and perfect outcomes. I am such a lucky mama!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Introducing...

Baby Henry!

Also known as Cupcake, Sugar, Hank, and Big Boy (so far).

Born 2:19 AM January 8, at home (in the bathroom!), with a great team of support.
9 pounds 3 ounces, 21 inches, with a 14.5 inch head.

We are getting good rest thanks to Henry's amazing sleeping abilities and the help of my wonderful mother.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Crafty Day of Waiting

I got out the sewing machine today, a friend came over, and we made a couple of things. She made Christmas stockings for next year, and I made a cashmere baby sleep sack and a little taggie toy for the unborn baby. I would have been able to get more accomplished, except I had to do some creative patching together on the baby sleep sack since I had less fabric left than I thought I did, and it took three tries to get the taggie pinned together correctly. I'd like to make another, bigger taggie that's more blanket-sized rather than toy, now that I know how to do it for sure.


The taggies:
(monkeys one made by me, flowers by my husband)
Good directions for a taggie blanket can be found here 


Sleep sack - may be a little short in length and I may still cuff the sleeves and add an applique design on the front:
Good directions for wool baby sleep sacks can be found here

And one last thing I whipped up at Stella's request - a dress for her baby doll, made out of a handkercheif:


Other activities for today included taking down our Christmas decorations and going to the movies. Sweet Pea was sad about putting away the Christmas stuff so we left out one ornament and the wreath. Then, with our daughter at daycare, we went to see a matinee of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Matinees are so much cheaper! I'm never going to an evening showing again! Well, maybe I will, but probably not for a while anyway.

If real labor doesn't start overnight tonight, my husband will go back to work tomorrow. On my too-short list of activities to pass the time I have: making play-dough with Sweet Pea, walking the dog, visiting friends, and adding items to my Amazon wish list. I do have lots more sewing projects with fabric already purchased, pre-washed, and ready to go, but sewing with Sweet Pea in the house can be a challenge unless there's another adult as well. I can always rake leaves and clean up the back yard (now that my hips aren't hurting so bad), but I would prefer something fun to look forward to, rather than chores I'd like to avoid. 

So again, my question to you is, what would you do while waiting for labor to start? Baking? Writing? Deep cleaning? Swimming?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Waiting Game

Written around 10:00PM January 1
Here I am, sitting at the computer using a contraction timer, hoping these mild contractions are the start of labor. I am only 39 weeks pregnant (tomorrow) and have been through this with my doula clients many times before. I KNOW that there is no reason to set my hopes or expectations on having my baby on a particular day. I KNOW that the best time for my baby to be born is when my body goes into labor naturally. And yet.... I can't help but hope that it's tonight. Or tomorrow. Or within a couple of days at least.

Sweet Pea was born on her due date, during the first week that I stayed home from work. I had just in the previous few days gotten everything done that I had wanted to do before the birth, and started some very mild natural labor encouragement techniques. I knew that first babies were often late, and was not overly anxious for her birth. So, when my water broke at 1:00 AM on her due date I was pleasantly surprised, and excited. Even at that point, I knew that I could still have another day or couple of days until I actually met my baby. We were too excited to go back to sleep so we played games on the Wii for a while, until it became clear that I was getting longer, stronger, and closer-together contractions. At around 5:00+ AM I got into the tub, and that's where she was born at 8:50 AM. Overall a very short labor with no waiting and questioning for me. My midwives didn't even ever check my dilation because things just kept progressing so clearly. This experience is different.

In one of my conversations with my midwives the day before the procedure to flip the baby head-down, we discussed the idea of breaking my water afterward, if it was successful, in order to minimize the chances of the baby flipping back before labor began. At first I was unsure about that idea, then it really grew on me. Later that night, I spoke with her and my other midwife, and that was no longer a recommended course of action, as the doctor doing the version was confident that if baby flipped, it would remain that way, and the risks of AROM (artificial rupture of membranes  - breaking your water) were greater than made sense for this particular situation. So, we pretty much took that idea off the table. But still, I had started thinking about the reality of the baby being born within a day or two of the version. My positive image or plan or whatever that I was focusing on was the idea that the baby would turn head down, and then labor would begin shortly after. We got our house ready, prepared my other labor support people and family, and then all afternoon after the version I had mild contractions, sometimes very regularly, with moments of strong pressure. I was hopeful that was early labor. However, my midwives were called to another birth that day, and were discouraging me from doing anything to promote labor at that time. I slept fine that night, but woke often with more mild contractions. By morning they were gone, and for the first half of the day I felt only occasional "braxton-hicks" style tightenings, even though I spent some time walking in the early afternoon. My midwife came to check me around 2:30 and found me to be only barely more dilated and effaced (3ish cm, 60-70%) today than last Wednesday, but with the baby in a fairly good, head-down, left-side position. At my request, my midwife did a sweep of my membranes, which is another way to encourage labor, but she talked with me for a while about adjusting my expectations and accepting that it could be several to many days before the baby is born. Of course, this totally makes sense, but was not exactly what I wanted to hear. I took another walk tonight and had very frequent, very pressure-y contractions the whole time, but of course they practically stopped once I got home again.

If I was my doula, I would tell myself to go take a bath, go to bed, and let nature take it's course. Labor will happen when it's meant to, babies and bodies know better than brains, and rest is the best way to prepare yourself for when it comes. This is difficult advice to heed, however. I want to meet my baby! I don't want to spend more days waiting, wondering, should my husband start his leave now, or keep working? How long can I maintain the clean house I want for labor? This is hard.

The upside is that since the baby has turned my hips are no longer in constant pain (with moments of excruciating pain), my heartburn is nearly completely gone, and my belly feels oh so much more comfortable. I should be enjoying the pleasure of a happier last few days of pregnancy, but all I can think is that I want this birth to happen! Even though I know I am asking for pain, asking for discomfort and challenge for days and weeks and maybe months after with a newborn.

Writing this out has really helped me process my thoughts on this matter.

Yes, I can wait, it's not that bad. I'm not even to 40 weeks yet. But, I will still do little things to encourage my body to get going. I'm going to take evening primrose, take walks, use acupressure, and stimulate oxytocin. None of this may help, but I will still feel like I'm doing something.

It also doesn't help that my husband has a knee injury that prevents him from doing all of our normal outdoor activities - he's not even supposed to take long walks. So, hiking together is out, as are biking, cross-country skiing, sledding, etc. This makes it harder to find fun ways to pass the time together. There are only so many days you can spend inside with Netflix, hulu, puzzles, and cleaning, especially knowing that we're about to have a few weeks of mostly home-time with the new baby.

Update morning of January 2
No labor last night. Today we are going to get a new car battery, do a little shopping, maybe watch a movie, and see if hubby can find a place to watch the Rose Bowl. Maybe I will do some sewing - there are still things I want to make for the baby and for late Christmas presents.

Other moms, what did you do to pass the time while waiting for labor?