Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Remember that old song "Father Abraham" that you sang in Sunday School, VBS or Girl Scouts when the sponsors had nothing else planned for the last 10min of the meeting?

"Father Abraham, had many sons! Many sons had Faaather Abraham,
I am one of them, and so are you! So let's all praise the lord,
Right arm, Left arm, Right foot, Left foot, nod your head..."

You know. And every time you sang another verse, another weird body spasm was added, until you all looked like a bunch of drunken soldiers on ecstasy?

Parenting more than one child is a little like singing Father Abraham. Here is how:

With child #1, everything is new. Every new age comes with a different set of challenges, and as soon as you accomplish the tricks of successfully (or something akin to success, anyway) parenting that age with that specific child, they move on to another phase.

You've just mastered breastfeeding and reflux, and discovered that green poo doesn't mean instant death, eh? On to teeth and solids! You've finally baby-proofed the house? Try *toddler* proofing, my friend. You've noticed that distraction is stellar for re-directing your one year old? Have you had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of staunchly undeterred TWO? Parenting requires massive amounts of fluidity and flexibility, and has the amazing effect of teaching you to dance on your toes with grace.

Adding child number two to the mix requires you to shift quickly between two different mindsets simultaneously. Right arm, Left arm, Right Foot, Left Foot. Bounce the baby, offer choices to your two year old, swaddle the newborn snugly, encourage budding independence in your toddler. Eventually, it becomes a funny, coordinated, practiced dance. They grow, and so does your ability to parent on two different age planes.

Just when you're thinking, "Hey, I don't look too silly...I'm actually pretty GOOD at this!", child number three is introduced to the boogie. Number one is now four years old, and requires great amounts of stimulation, serious and silly conversation, encouragement, insight, patience and tolerance. Number two is two years old, and requires ample doses of reassurance, opportunity to be "big", choices, snuggles, and sensory play. Number three needs what every baby needs: constant care, contact, feeding, interaction and energy. Nod your head, Turn Around.

That is where we're currently at in the dance.

Our song is currently something like:

Nate and Ashley,
Had many girls,
Many girls had Nate and Ash VO,
Eva's one of them,
Ess and Noni, too,
So let's all praise the lord:

Burp the tummy,
Establish boundaries,
Tickle her soundly,
Feed the grumpy,
Change the Diaper,
Teach her to read,
Offer choices,
Provide tactile play,
Sling her lots,
Read silly books,
Give responsibility,
Throw her in the air,
Potty Train,
Praise creative thought,
Give clear instructions,
Breastfeed often,
Hide and Seek,
Run in the yard,
Brush their teeth,
Comb their hair,
Cuddle them all....


It's exhausting to read. It's exhausting to do. It's slam packed with tears and laughter and frustration and jaw-dropping awe over the beautiful creatures who have somehow been entrusted in our care. We forget the steps we once knew, and have to remind ourselves that our 2yo is not yet 4, our 4yo is not still 2, and that sometimes, they ALL need to be snuggled like a newborn. We get dizzy from the crazy dance, and sometimes we marvel at how easy/hard it is to keep moving.

Someday, it will include algebra, boys, training bras, soccer, board games, orthodontists, hormones, pets, faith, and the Big Questions.

If we're lucky, we either fall to the ground proud of the end of each day, congratulating ourselves for our amazing coordination...

...or we fall on our duffs repeatedly, and have enough good sense to laugh about it and help each other up in the process. And remind ourselves that, eventually, it will become muscle memory. And that we'll never really tire of the joy of doing the crazy dance together.

That's the beauty of the song. <3

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mirth and mommy, late in pregnancy
I'll spare you the details of the three day prelabor...suffice it to say, it was emotionally and physically trying, and had I not gotten enough rest, good positioning advice and encouragement, I might still be in labor. Really. My good friend reminded me on the phone that since I was contracting away with no progress, I might want to stick my bum in the air to try and dislodge and re-position the baby in my pelvis. BINGO!  I did get rest and the baby did turn, and so I went into labor on Sunday evening after a day of hip lunges, dinner with Barefoot Man and a couple of funny movies.

Around 9:3opm or so, it suddenly hit me that my contractions were actually growing more intense. A few minutes later, Robin Hood Men in Tights ceased to be even a tiny bit amusing. Suddenly, the hilarious men looked like ignorant buffoons who had no place in what was quickly becoming a sacred space. That was my cue to make phone calls! ;OP

I gripped the bookcase and swayed my hips through the next contraction, and as it eased, I told Barefoot to call our midwife and heat my rice sock. Through the next pressure wave, I leaned over the arm of the couch and wished my rice sock were already hot.

I retreated into the candlelit bedroom, and leaned forward through the next half hour of rushes, finally settling on my knees with my arms draped over the bed. I mused inwardly at the fact that I could feel the baby rotating downward through my pelvis, and the back pressure was intense! At that point, I realized I'd reached the point of no return. Ready or not, my baby was coming, and I needed to get to a place of release and surrender. A small amount of hesistation and fear crept in for a short while, and I didn't want to accept that I needed to change my physical position. I'd just stay on my knees forever!!

I was vaguely aware of front door opening down the hall, and of my MW calling hello softly, but I didn't look up. I was lost in a celtic drumbeat for the moment, still convincing myself that I could just hang out at the end of the bed forever.
rebozo aiding pendulous belly..amazing! 

Somewhere in the middle of half an hour in the draped on the bed position, the song "Everyone's got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" by the Beatles came on my iPod. Dh snorted and teased me for having such a weird song, and it broke my tension. I heard Michelle, the MW's apprentice giggle, too, and that did it. I laughed, and the endorphins from the fast guitar riffs and laughing with Nate saw me easily through that intense contraction.

After my first and only cervical check of that labor, Debi let me know I wasn't ready for the birth pool yet. Four centimeters. I was incredulous. I could feel my body speeding towards transition, and suspected they should fill the tub soon anyway. She suggested a hot shower (I suspect to coax me off my knees!), and I lept at the chance.

I spent 15 or 20 min in the shower, and being on my feet intensified the contractions. (Barefoot commented later that in the pics of me in the shower, you could tell by the shape of my belly that the baby descended quickly into my pelvis at that point!) Barefoot leaned halfway into the shower and braced his arm across the end of it for me to grip, and I squeezed his arm with my hands through the powerful waves, puffing a steady stream of air out of my cheeks. The feel of his sturdy, sinewy arm and the hot water pounding my back made standing up much more bearable. In the back of my mind, I knew I'd be complete soon, and got out of the shower sooner than I would have otherwise...I wanted hot water for my birth tub, lol! I shuffled my way back to the bedroom, and Michelle tied a red rebozo around my belly and encouraged me to stay vertical. It was at this point that I surrendered completely to the idea of meeting my baby soon, to opening my body to let my baby out. I became instinctual, and my thoughts were more like a consciousness hovering above my body than my own. My mind became an observer of my most primal instincts, and only interjected enough dialouge to inform my body on a "need to know" basis. :oP

For the next 45min, I gripped dh's hand and stood and swayed my way through powerful waves. I gripped Barefoot's fingers so hard, his normally pale strong Dutch knuckles turned an even more ghostly white. At one point, I called out, "Someone hold my other hand!!", and the instant I felt a strong, womanly hand in my own swollen left hand, the edgy fear left me.

I could feel my cervix stretching and quivering, and a voice that didn't sound like my own was making low, moaning sounds. My doula brain informed me that those were very "birthy" noises, and I smiled inwardly as I heard my MW chuckling in happy agreement somewhere across the room. She whispered, "Nate, go start up the hoses!" I suspected as much..and the water sounded GOOD. I was ready to meet my baby. I trembled all over, and stated the obvious: "I'm shaking."

I don't remember taking off my lounge pants. I remember feeling the heat of the water slither up my ankles, calves, and around my middle as I sank myself into the water. It took every ounce of courage I had to relax and accept the knowledge (gained from experience with my second birth) that I would soon be doing the hard work of pushing a new child into the light of the room.

My legs were in a weird position, but another rush had already started, and I heard the earthy voice shift from a low moan to a rumbly growl. Was I feeling push-y already? I gripped the handles of the pool, and fought the impulse to tighten my lower body in a fight against birth. I rested and breathed. I knew I'd be pushing with the next contraction.

I never asked for permission; when the next contraction came, I growled and pushed. As it peaked, I pushed HARDER, because pushing was the only relief that was to be found in that intense moment. I vaguely remember hearing Debi call, "That's it, girl, bring that baby down! Reach down and touch your baby!", but by the time I let go of the handle to feel, the rush was over. It made me mad, and it fueled my determination to hold her soon, lol. Come hell or high water, this babe was going to be BORN.

With the next contraction, I felt like a strong mother cougar, throwing a screaming growl into the night, fighting to bring my baby into the world. The feeling was so very intense. I could feel the baby crowning, but didn't dare to believe I could get her out this time. I pushed and growled in frustration, not realizing how CLOSE she was.

I did this for another contraction. And one more.

The next contraction, I was so very exausted, using up every last bit of energy I had in a mighty effort to push that little head OUT. I thought it would be stuck there forever. I stopped screaming and grunted and felt my face glowing with the effort, and finally gasped in air and yelled, "Oh, c'mon, get the frick OUT!!!!" (At least that's what I vaguely recall saying...both Nate and Debi have asserted that I actually dropped an F-bomb)

One last angry, determined push, and I heard the amazing words: "Head's out!!" I perked and happily pushed the rest of a slick body easily into the water, and was astounded at the big, healthy GIRL that landed on the top of my now-puffy belly.

Barefoot's face was streaming tears. I hadn't seen him cry that freely since our wedding. And she was lovely. So very lovely, and I was completely exhausted. She stared at me, stunned and alert, but not wanting to take the first breath. I felt a bit stunned, too. The MW puffed a breath into her mouth and rubbed her back, and she began to cry. I was relieved, and so, so tired. I had to be coaxed to push out the placenta, lol. I was happy to just sit there, grinned dumbly and blissfully, and listening to Nate mumur contently to himself, "I knew she was a girl!"
I was so in awe, and so exhausted. Hello, new life! 

At 1:16am, Grace was born, 9lbs, and 22inches. And we were in love. <3 I retained a bit of placenta, which wasn't fun, but a manual retrieval (yowch!) and lots of greens and chlorophyll and floradix set me right again, eventually, and it was a pretty spectacular babymoon, all in all.

sweet MW's apprentice, M, weighing Grace! 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Belly binding and some baby pics

So, if you've ever given birth to a nine pounder (or, heck, an eight pounder, or more than one child period), you've likely experienced the fluffy joys of stretched out abs and diasis recti (abdominal muscle separation).

I've currently got a nice four finger separation going on. :P Having already brought a four finger gap down to a one finger after one pregnancy, I know it's do-able. This takes away a great deal of wailing-in-front-of-the-mirror anxiety. I've been belly binding for a week along with very gentle modified postpartum exercises, and I'm already encouraged by the results: I look only a couple months pregnant rather than a full six. Hooray!

I've been using my Maya Wrap part of the time, and a plain old supportive old lady style girdle the other part, taking them off only to shower. It's been really helpful, at the very least, in getting my organs back where they belong, and in supporting my weakened belly and back while my muscles go back to being taut. This is a very good thing.

Anything that takes away the feeling of being punched in the gut every time you stand up is indeed a brilliant idea, as far as I'm concerned. :D

Thursday, March 19, 2009

She's here!! :D

After a three day puttering labor, Eva Grace entered our loving home at 1:16 am on Monday morning! 9lbs, 22inches. I'm trying to rest well, so I'll write the birth story later. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

-4 Pregnant. Why do I still FEEL huge?

Had a lovely round of strong prodrom last night, which petered off at bedtime (with the help of some cal/mag, rescue remedy, skullcap and a ton of water). No baby, but on the upside, the contractions are feeling VERY labor-y. A few of them took my breath away, and had me running for my cell phone, convinced that if they kept up that intensity, my MW wouldn't make it. :P

I continue to crave insane amount of acidic fruit. I ate almost another entire fresh pineapple yesterday morning. *blushes furiously* Ahhh, but it was scrumptious.

My brain was even more cloudy than normal yesterday, from lack of sleep and presence of off-again-on-again prodrom all day, I suspect.

If it keeps it up tonight (but still isn't the "real" thing), I may have a half glass of wine and a long bath in order to get some decent sleep.

I'm quite nauseated this morning, even after a good breakfast. :oS

At this point, time is on my side, odds-wise. ;oP Even if I go past 41 weeks, that's only a few days away. Then, I can cry and feel sorry for myself and refuse to change out of my pajamas all day.

Wait, wait...I'm already doing that!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I feel that baby #3 has settled down a bit further in my belly. From what I can feel, it's head's not engaged, but I'm definitely breathing a touch easier and peeing a lot more.

Some contractions last night, but nothing serious. Nothing exciting happening today, so far. Yee-haw.

Monday, March 9, 2009

No baby yet.

Today, in the grocery store, the clerk asked Essie, "Are you having a baby brother or a baby sister?"

Essie answered, "Maybe a boy, maybe a girl. Or...MAYBE a hippopotamus! We'll just have to wait and see! ;) "

Totally made my afternoon. :P

Monday, March 2, 2009

39 weeks +1 day appointment

Everything looks good. :o)

Baby is high and floating, which I expected...with this being #3, he/she likely won't engage until I'm into labor. With the ample amnio I have, it's flip flopped back and forth from left to right several times in the last week; good news is it's still quite head down.

No sign of bladder infection today! :D

I've got my hoses and pump for the La Bassine.

My sweet husband got up and made pancakes for everyone before he left for work. Chocolate chip with blueberries on top. He's totally amazing.

My good friend Jennifer dropped by for lunch today and brought pizza, which made getting everyone out the door (and my general outlook on life!) much more positive. It was a total lifesaver!

I'm so blessed with supportive friends and family...seriously.

In the last couple of days, my contractions have gotten markedly more effective feeling, causing lots of pressure and stretching in my cervix. Nothing really crampy, and no pattern that's timing-worthy to speak of, but it's definitely encouraging to feel the change. :)

Now, it's just a sit around and distract myself and chew ice while we wait game. ;)