Sunday, August 30, 2009

two years and nine months

Here is an update on First Girl. She is getting more and more fun (when she's not throwing a fit about something, like wanting to take her ponytails out, or not wanting to sleep in her own bed). And I'm thrilled that her hair is getting longer!

She likes to pose. Here she is at exactly 2 years and 9 months old.

I get various smiles from her that are not her "natural" smile.

She likes pretty things. Apparently with the headbands around her legs she looks like Cinderella.

She likes her baby sister. Often she says, in a high voice, "Lil [L], are you otay?"

Some of her fun pronunciations:

sandwich is "HAM-a-wit"
beautiful is "beau-di-dull"
fabulous is "hab-ee-lit"
Afghanistan is "a-DAN-i-dan"
face is "hate" (she can't made the f or s sounds)
her friend Siena is "beehenna"
Cinderella is "hee-a-WELL-a"
phone is "hone"
take a shower is "tate a how"

Saturday, August 29, 2009


This was just a really good day, with all the little things combined.
  • I got up early (7:30) and went to the temple while my in-laws watched the kids. It was nice to serve in the temple; I hadn't been since May. As I walked toward the temple I said "good morning" to an older woman and we walked together. She kept the conversation going until we were inside, which was enough time to say that the parking lot was pretty full, that we both had our toenails painted, and that she plays the organ in the chapel.
  • I bought fresh fudge on the way home.
  • I finished and mailed a letter to a relative.
  • At a yard sale I got nine books for two bucks.
  • I picked up my camera; I had left it at my neighbor's yesterday.
  • Shboogoo finally fell asleep. While she napped I nursed the baby for a few minutes, then changed my clothes to go out for a run. My step-mother-in-law held L for me while I went. It's not hard to put one of the kids in a stroller (I don't have a double stroller yet), but it is easier by myself. I love the things I get to see on the neighborhood trail. I captured some of them with my camera. There was even a real goat today by the creek.
  • Soon after I got out of the shower Shboogoo woke up and came to me. She had slept for an hour and a half, her underwear was still dry, and she used the toilet. Usually her pull-up is wet in the morning, but she's great at using the bathroom during the day. Sometimes she even tells me she needs to go to the bathroom.
  • While we waited for dinner, Shboogoo and her young aunt E played well in the backyard and I did a little bit of reading.
  • My step-mother-in-law and E talked about words that rhyme, which made me remember a certain song in my Sesame Street Songbook. I got it out and played 5 or 10 of the songs, which was fun. A lot of them I don't know from when I watched the show as a kid; I learned them from the book when I was a teenager. A few, like What Do I Do When I'm Alone?, are really really beautiful.
I love the freedom and flexibility I have as a grownup. My little ones need a lot of my time, but that time with them is enjoyable and fulfilling for me. (They are so darn cute.) I like who I am right now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

two months

I took these the day L turned 2 months old:

She was in a good mood; notice the milky bubbles.

And then she tipped to the side.

Looks as though she's flexing her bicep!
I'd forgotten all about this darling bonnet that our first girl didn't get to wear much.
(Yep, this is the same day, after L required a change of clothes.)


Now, compare those to her at about a day old:

and one month old:

and her sister at about the same age (2 months):

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

my second birth story, day two

Still awake at midnight (Saturday morning), I sat on the birth ball and then was lying on my side while D got some sleep on the couch. Surges came every 6 minutes. For the next few hours I was able to rest between surges. The baby's heart rate looked great.

3:40 a.m. The midwife came in to check my cervix. The dilation was the same as the last time I was checked (4 cm) and the baby had descended to a +1 station. The midwife talked about my options; one was to go home to get some sleep. I chose to stay at the hospital and sleep with the help of medication. Until then I had done it drug-free. They gave me a combination of Morphine and Fentanyl, S went home for a while, and I slept for about 3 and a half hours. During that time my contractions were 6 to 13 minutes apart (which we know because of the fetal monitor).

At 8:00 the midwife asked if I would like her to break my bag of waters to see if that would help get the baby out soon. "No artificial rupture of membranes" was in my birth plan, but I said yes, hoping it would be a good thing. Feeling the hook breaking the bag was so strange, and so was the continuing hot gush of clear fluid.

S returned at 10:45 after about six hours spent at her home sleeping, showering, etc. My surges were now 6 to 8 minutes apart, and I was still feeling them in my back. The pain usually started there and moved around to the front. I was very tired.

When midwife #3 arrived and checked me at 11:15 a.m., there had been no change. (Yeah, in seven and a half hours.) A little bit later we started a low dose of pitocin; we wanted to get the surges closer together. D left for about an hour, for some fresh air and a drive by himself. S had me do more exercises to encourage the baby to rotate.

At 12:35 p.m. the nurse increased the pitocin to 4 ml. The surges came anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart, sometimes with spacing of up to 7 minutes. D and S were wonderful. When they knew another one was starting, they rushed to do hip squeeze or other counter pressure to help me. I really benefited from S's words: "Let the pressure be there," and "You can do anything for one minute." At some point, as the peaks of the surges were more intense and I made louder sounds, I understood why women ask for drugs. I'm very glad I was able to experience it.

When I got down on my hands and knees at about 1:20 p.m., the baby's heart rate decelerated dramatically. With help, I moved onto my left side and the heart rate went back to normal. During the next surge the baby's heart rate again dropped a lot lower than it should. The nurse turned off the pitocin and the midwife had a discussion with D and me. She did not know why, with the baby being low, my cervix had not changed (in almost sixteen hours), or why the baby still preferred a posterior position. The midwife said if I wanted to I could keep going for a while, but because my contractions weren't effective, she was unsure of what would happen. The other option was to have a cesarean section.

She and S left the room so D and I could talk about it. I don't remember him saying much besides asking me what I thought. I said that if my body would dilate more, we had no idea how many more hours it might take to get to 10 cm. I cried. It was hard, but we knew what we wanted to do. The ladies came back in about fifteen minutes later. Starting to cry again, I told them, "We think that it's not working, so we want to go ahead with the section." They thought this was a wise decision and I had done the best I could. Here I am with the midwife before she went to call the anesthesiologist.

S reminded us what to expect in the operating room. We borrowed her CD of relaxing music to listen to in there, since we hadn't remembered to bring the music Shboogoo was born to (piano solos played by Wayne Egan). The anesthesiologist (Dr. H) and then the resident (Dr. Z) explained to us the risks and benefits of the surgery. We both loved Dr. Z's personality. She and Dr. D would perform the surgery.

I used the bathroom one more time, D put this oh-so-cute outfit on over his regular clothes, and we were ready to go get our baby out!

As D, the midwife, and I walked into the operating room, I thought, "This is the worst I have felt in my entire life." It was hard both physically and emotionally. I wanted a VBAC so badly and did not know why I was unable to dilate. Dr. H was impatient. And he was a man. So he couldn't know what it was like for me to get onto the table, form a C shape, and hold still while my uterus was still contracting. During the surgery he wanted me to keep my arms up in precisely the right place, which I simply could not do. I couldn't keep my arms from shaking (a common problem during c-sections; I also had pain in my shoulders due to trapped gas). My sweet D never let go of my hand. He told me later that it was really hard for him to watch me. I would not want to have to go through it without him.

Finally, the baby was born at 3:51 p.m. One of the doctors told D to announce the gender, so he said, "It's a girl!" I was a little surprised and disappointed that it wasn't a boy, but I got over that quickly. I saw her briefly above the drape, and she looked healthy and beautiful. D cried. I couldn't see much of what was going on and I don't know exactly what happened when. He said that when she was lying on the table she got to hold his finger. He got to hold her very soon after she was born, and when he brought her to see me I liked that she still had vernix on her. I felt so much love for this child whom I had already done so much for over the last nine months. D told me (I must not have heard) that he was pretty sure they said she was 5 pounds 14 ounces and 20 inches long, and her Apgar scores were 8 and 9.

We went back to our room with L in my arms. D called our families. By 4:40 our baby girl was breastfeeding perfectly! All but three of our many immediate family members visited us that evening. They probably wanted to hurry because we made them wait to find out the baby's name in person. A bunch of them, plus our good friends Katie and Sam, arrived at almost the same time. I made this video while sitting on the hospital bed, happy with my baby and my loved ones.

I agree with my husband's words, written in an email to me a few weeks later:
I remembered how impossibly happy I was to see L for the first time. I thought that the experience couldn't be as powerful as [Shboogoo's] birth . . . but I think it was *exactly* the same: celestial.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

my second birth story, day one

From 6 a.m. on, two day before my due date, contractions woke me up about every 12 to 20 minutes. I had been writing down the times for days, but this was different -- not Braxton Hicks. Somehow I could tell labor was beginning. I had told D the night before that I thought "this could happen soon." We were on a date at a luxury hotel; it was his idea and he made the arrangements. I didn't sleep as much as I wish I could have, waking up throughout the night to use the bathroom and when I had contractions. (I did have some before 6:00.) I don't think I told him that I was in labor until we got up a little before 8. We had to check out of the hotel and go pick up Shboogoo in time for Nana (my mom) to get to work.

My husband, Shboogoo and I went straight home to labor, even though home is forty-five minutes north of Nana's and the hospital is south of Nana's. At 11:30 I called S, my doula (and a woman I have known since I was 17), to let her know my labor had begun. Based on my first experience -- 29 hours of labor -- I guess we knew we wouldn't need her very soon. She was happy, like we were, that we no longer had to consider inducing me. I didn't want my husband to miss the birth, but I also wanted my body to help the baby come when he or she was ready to be born, so we felt very blessed. We planned to leave for the hospital when the contractions were consistently three to five minutes apart.

I relaxed as much as I could, and I also finished packing our suitcase. I walked around in the house. We had had a delicious breakfast at the hotel, and we ate lunch at home. Fortunately I did not throw up after eating like I did during my first labor. I had my husband take a few pictures, including this one. If I could go back in time I would get one of him behind me with his hands on my belly.

Whenever a contraction came I wrote down the time with pen and paper -- low-tech compared to the spreadsheet D created in 2006, which I didn't open. (If I'd known about, I definitely would have used it.)

For a lot of my contractions I knelt with my arms on our bed. Kneeling felt the best. Sometimes I sat on the birth ball or leaned against the wall, and I often swayed my hips. I was by myself for many of the surges (another word for contractions), which was fine. D was with Shboogoo and was using the laptop and watching a news channel on TV. Of course he did whatever I asked him to, such as rubbing my back. He also began tweeting. With those updates showing up on his facebook profile as well, hundreds ("literally hundreds") of people -- both friends and strangers -- could have been following what was happening. It was fun to have a "twitter birth." Come to think of it, I have only read a few of those tweets.

From 10:00 to 11:00 the surges were 7 minutes apart, and after 11:00 they were as close as 3 minutes apart. It varied: 3 minutes apart, then 5, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7, 3, 6, 5, 7, 5, 3, 4 . . . A little before 2 p.m. I called the midwife for the second time. I told her that since 1:00 my contractions had been 2 to 4 minutes apart and we were ready to drive down to the hospital. We took Shboogoo with us. D didn't drive any faster than usual. The contractions were not too intense and I was excited.

In triage, within the labor and delivery area, we had a wonderful nurse. First we made sure that the baby was still head-down. (On Monday, my 39-week check up, the midwife had checked me and she felt toes. Tuesday we returned to have an external cephalic version. That day when the nurse used an ultrasound she saw that the baby was no longer breech! I was happy that the baby had flipped because I knew that versions can be uncomfortable for the woman and are not always successful anyway.)

I had D read me a nice one-page birth affirmation from my childbirth class. The author talks about strength, joy, and love for the child who would soon be born. "I accept all that comes to pass with the birth of my child. . . . My body knows what to do, I must let it be. . . . As the waves come, I will triumph with them, one by one, all the while surrendering to them . . ."

My mom and S joined us there, too. At 3:20 they stepped out of the room and the nurse checked my cervix. I was 2 cm dilated and 85% effaced. I had hoped I would be further along than that. The baby was low, though. Through the whole labor I felt a lot of pressure. Because I was only 2 cm, the midwife didn't officially admit me. I stayed active in the triage room with the external fetal monitor on. By 4:30 I had progressed to 90% effaced.

Then D and I walked the halls for about half an hour and saw parts of the hospital we had not seen before. I loved it. It was so nice to have him with me, holding my hand as I walked, letting me hang onto him for contractions. Some strangers asked him, "Is she okay?" and we just smiled and said yes. As we had discussed, once it had been more than a full hour (5:50 p.m.) the nurse checked me again and I was 3 cm. They admitted me and by 6:35 I was on a different floor of the hospital in a labor and delivery room.

Because I was trying for a VBAC I needed a heploc in my hand in case we would later need to quickly start an IV. But that was fine. I'm very glad that the nurses and midwives did read and respect my birth plan. They didn't use internal fetal monitoring, which I had with my first labor.

We used iTunes to play music until our laptop battery died (we had forgotten to pack the cord). I didn't like the genre D chose first. I needed something calmer, so he changed it to our piano genre. The only song I definitely remember hearing was A Small Miracle. I said to S, "I wrote this." As I listened to it my eyes moistened; emotions came, and so did strength to keep working for this particular desired miracle.

Around 8:00 S helped me use a variety of positions, changing every 15 minutes, to encourage the baby to descend and to rotate from being posterior. The photo below shows me in the knee-chest position, with S applying counter pressure. (The other positions were the all-fours tuck-in, passive pelvic rock, and lying on my left side with my left leg straight and my right leg bent up close to my chest.)

Then D and I walked some more, but we couldn't go very far from our room or the telemetry would not function. We were both starting to get tired and also missed Shboogoo a little.

My cervix was 100% effaced but still 3 cm when midwife #1 left. She suggested a few different options, and I chose the tub; I got in at 9:45. I became totally relaxed in there as S read relaxation scripts. I had a thin blanket draped around my neck to keep my upper body warm and S continually poured water onto my belly. I fell asleep for a bit. The water felt good but also helped things along. At 10:50 pm I got out of the tub and midwife #2 checked me. I was 4 cm dilated with the baby down at zero station. My contractions, however, spaced out anywhere from two or three minutes apart up to ten minutes apart.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

taking things for granted

It's been a while since I blogged, but I am alive and well. Life (gatherings with family and friends, a laptop that won't be fixed until several days from now, and a sick Shboogoo) has kept me from spending much time online.

During the weeks since sweet L was born, I have thought about things that I had taken for granted -- things that I was appreciating being able to do now that I wasn't able to do them. If you can do these, be grateful.

  • driving
  • lifting things heavier than a newborn, like an older child who wants you
  • getting up easily from a lying-down position
  • vacuuming
  • sneezing without pain in your abdomen
  • running
  • living with your spouse
  • talking to your spouse whenever you want to

Now I can do all of those (except the last two), because it's been six weeks since my c-section. I actually only took the percocet for a few days, because I wanted to be able to drive. (My recovery was good, but I think any woman who wants an elective cesarean is crazy. It's faster than a vaginal birth, but that doesn't mean it's easier or better. . .) Well, besides feeling good myself, I'm thankful that the baby is so good and already sleeps seven to eight hours each night! And now it's time for me to get some sleep, too.