Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Birth Story - Lass's Arrival

I know that I always like to hear about other people's experiences in the childbirth process. Here is the story of Lass's birth:

On Monday, August 23 I started having strong regular contractions at around 5:30 pm. I began timing them at about 6 while we were eating dinner on the deck. I knew the contractions felt strong and different from those I had had previously (I had to stop and breathe through them as they got stronger) and was pretty sure labor had started. I gave Miss a bath and put her to bed. When the contractions continued to get stronger during this time, I told my hubby to get our things in the car, I called our babysitter and the on-call nurse, and we left for the hospital.

When we got to the hospital, I was monitored for a bit to make sure I was really in labor and we finally got into our room around 9:30 pm. Here I am in the triage room still:

In our room at about 11 pm:

We got a big yoga ball and I sat on that for a little while and then we went out to walk around the hallways. My contractions were definitely stronger and closer together when we walked the halls, but I was more comfortable when I was sitting on the ball, so we alternated these two things for a while. When I had a contraction, I faced my hubby and put my hands around his neck and kind of “danced” with him and breathed through the contraction. After a while I tried lying on my side and trying to get some rest, as it was getting really late and I was very tired. I continued to alternate resting and walking for a few hours. Then I got into the tub for about an hour and a half or so in the very early morning. The nurse said that the on-call doctor would probably want to break my water around 7 or so in the morning to get things moving, so at that point I decided to try to stay in bed and get as much rest as possible for the last few hours, since I figured I would not get much rest after my water was broken. Through all of this, my hubby was great, reminding me to breathe slowly through the contractions and relax.

Some time in the wee hours of the morning:

The on call doctor came in and broke my water at about 7:30 am (I think). At that point I was only 4 cm dilated. Of course, once my water was broken my contractions became much stronger. My hubby really had to help me get through them at this point. I got back into the tub for a while and sat on the ball some more. I started to feel a little unsure that I would be able to continue without pain relief. I think I said to my hubby a few times something like, “I don’t think I can do this.” He continually encouraged me and told me that I could do it. It was probably around 10 am when the nurse offered to check my cervix to see how far I had progressed. We agreed, hoping I had made progress and it would help me to feel more certain that I could proceed without medication. When the nurse checked me she said I was almost 7 cm, which really helped me to get my “second wind” and I again felt certain I could do it. A while later the nurse checked me again and said I was 8, almost 9 cm, with just a bit of cervix left. Around that time I started really feeling the urge to push with each contraction, though I couldn’t push because I wasn’t completely dilated. The nurse suggested I try getting on my hands and knees or lying in the “recovery position” (on my side with top leg forward) to help get my cervix to dilate the rest of the way. The “recovery position” was very uncomfortable and made my contractions more painful, so I spent quite a while on my hands and knees. I was so tired I almost dozed off and face-planted several times while in that position. The urge to push continued to get stronger, and I would say this was the worst part of my labor, needing to push but not being able to. I think this went on for at least 45 minutes or so. The nurse checked my cervix a couple of times with minimal change. Finally she said she could check with the doctor about whether she could stretch my cervix enough to allow me to push, and she called the on-call doctor (my doc was on vacation). The on call doc happened to be the doctor I had seen the previous day for my appointment, so I was familiar with her, which was nice. She came in and said that she would be able to stretch my cervix enough that I could start to push, so I did. It took a few tries to get into the right position and push the right way, but I got it pretty quickly and seemed to be making good progress. I got great feedback from the doctor and from my hubby that I was doing a great job, which really helped. I was so tired I was dozing off in between contractions. I pushed for about an hour and a half, according to my hubby, though it didn't really seem that long to me (maybe because I was sleeping between contractions??). Finally:

As soon as she was born, the doctor placed Lass on my chest, which was amazing. It was the best feeling ever. Unfortunately, she was not breathing very well right away and she wasn't really crying, so I didn't get to hold her for long, but the few moments I did were the best.

They had to take her and do lots of suctioning to help improve her color and get her breathing better. She did start to look better pretty quickly and she started crying more, which was good.

Man, she looks huge in these photos.

They ended up needing to take her to the nursery for monitoring for a few hours, but she turned out to be just fine and was back in the room with us after about two hours.

I've written a dissertation and earned a PhD. I've written a book. I've worked in various prisons with dangerous criminals. I have trained for and run two marathons. Going through 20 hours of labor and giving birth to a nearly 10 and a half pound baby without any pain medication was by far the hardest thing I've ever done. I could not have done it without the help of my husband. No way. It was an incredible experience to go through with him, and I am so glad I got the opportunity have that and that our girl was healthy and perfect.

Friday, September 17, 2010


All things considered, I have found that the second baby is way easier than the first baby. I know part of this is because Lass really is just an easy baby. She sleeps well, she eats well, she rarely cries. But Miss was a pretty easy baby too compared to the stories I had heard from some moms I know. So I know that part of the reason Lass is so easy is because of me. I'm different. I'm more confident. I kind of feel like I know what I'm doing this time around. Things don't freak me out as much as they did the first time I did all this. I don't keep an obsessive journal of every feeding, complete with how long Lass nurses on each side, when I pump (heck, I haven't even pumped an ounce this time around yet!), and when she pees and poops. I know part of this is because Lass did not have issues with her weight gain, and though she lost a little bit of weight in the hospital, it wasn't much, and she was well over her birth weight by her two-week appointment. Miss on the other hand had lost a considerable amount of weight in the hospital and we had to go for weekly weight checks until she surpassed her birth weight, which I think took three or four weeks for her to do. But also, I'm less nervous about breastfeeding in general this time. Last time I was scared to death that I wouldn't have enough milk, or my "supply" would run out, or Miss wouldn't learn to latch or would refuse to nurse or whatever. This time I wasn't nervous. I knew that I had successfully nursed Miss for 14 months and could do it again. I knew my boobs could produce, so I didn't worry. In general, I really just worry less this time around.

So like I said, baby #2 is much easier than baby #1. What I do sometimes worry about this time around is Miss. I worry that she will feel that I'm not paying enough attention to her or that somehow she'll feel left out. I've found that the big trick to taking good care of two very small children and maintaining your sanity is juggling. Keeping the balls in the air. Coordination. Etcetera.

I've gotten pretty good at juggling. I'm able to do many more things at one time than I ever thought possible. Sometimes it's just small things to juggle, like holding Lass to nurse with one arm while using the other hand to help Miss put on her Daddy's coat, which she very much wanted to model for us.

Or bouncing a fussy Lass in my BabyEtte wrap outside so that Miss could blow off some steam in the yard.

And then there are the times when you can't help but drop a ball. Or two. The other night was one of those times. Picture this. My hubby was at a meeting. It was dinner time for Miss. I was planning ahead. Realized that Lass would be hungry right about the time that I would usually give Miss her bath and put her to bed. I'm flexible. Loose. I decide Miss can stay up a bit later while I feed Lass. Then I'll do the bath and bed routine with Miss. No biggie.

Well, just around the time I make this plan, as Miss is happily eating her dinner, she toots and says, "Biiig Poop!" (which kind of sounds like "Beee pup!" when she says it). And I reply, "No Honey, I think you just tooted. Say 'Excuse me' please." Not 30 seconds later I hear what sounds like an actual "big poop," and sure enough she says again "Beeee pup!" So I know I have to revise my plan. Because I can't let Miss sit in a poopy diaper while I feed Lass. But it seems stupid to change Miss's diaper only to put her in the tub 20-30 minutes later. So I roll with it and decide I can put Miss in the tub and let her play while I nurse Lass. Juggling, juggling.

Dinner is done. I take the girls upstairs. Miss hadn't really pooped much at all, but I went ahead with the plan. Cleaned her up, put her in the tub, and positioned myself on the stool by the side of the tub where I proceed to nurse Lass. This is not comfortable, but I'm keeping the balls in the air, and all is well. Until it's not. I hear the toot. See the bubbles. Miss says again, "Beee pup!" And I'm thinking, "Please, please, please let this only be a toot." But then Miss gets her "I'm pooping" look and sure enough, she poops in the tub.

Balls dropping. I have a moment of panic. Then Miss sees the poop and proceeds to completely freak out. She scuttles away from the poop, stands up and starts screaming at the top of her lungs, reaching for me and trying to climb out of the tub. So I have Lass latched onto my boob, and Miss clutched onto my arm screaming, and poop in the tub, and I do the only thing a Mom can do in this situation. I start cracking up laughing. Because really, what else is there to do in that moment? But the laughter only lasted for a second, since I did have a terrified toddler trying to claw her way up my arm and out of the tub. So I quickly gathered my senses, spoke soothingly to Miss while unlatching Lass (who fortunately had eaten enough to be temporarily content) and putting her in her bouncy seat right by the bathroom door, got all the poop out of the tub and cleaned up, and proceeded to finish Miss's bath with fresh water in a clean tub.

I think I'm getting pretty good at juggling a newborn and a toddler. I can handle two under two. And I've learned that even when I inevitably "drop the ball" once in a while, it's not too much of a big deal as long as I can just pick it back up and get back in the swing of it. And after the Poop-In-The-Tub Incident, as this will ever be remembered, I think I can handle just about anything.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our Weekend

We had a nice weekend here. My hubby was on call and had to work all weekend, but we had fun anyway. Yesterday the girls and I went to a local store and cafe where they have lots of toys in a big play area, so Miss had a blast playing with other kids and some different toys. I was a little bit amazed at how long it took me to get ready and get out of the house with two kids, but we made it, only a half hour later than my intended time. And we weren't meeting anyone, so we weren't really late, just later than I thought we would get going. We got home just in time for Miss to have a nap. Lass wasn't tired, so we had some bonding time while Miss slept. We lounged around.

And had a little tummy time.

And we snuggled.

Then Miss woke up just in time to watch the Michigan game. It was a pretty good football weekend. Michigan State and Michigan both won, and the Michigan game was exciting to watch. I didn't watch the game, but Iowa beat Iowa State, which made my husband happy but my brother unhappy. My hubby went to Iowa for his undergraduate and medical degrees, and my brother went to Iowa State and played football there, so that game never really has a happy ending for me.

Naturally, since yesterday was 9/11 I spent some time thinking about that day nine years ago, the people who lost their lives and all that has happened since then. My brother participated in a cool 9/11 Stairclimb memorial event with other firefighters. Since my brother and my dad are both professional firefighters (dad retired), the part about the 9/11 tragedy that always seemed the worst to me was how many firefighters and other emergency personnel lost their lives running into the towers to save people. So the stairclimb memorial was a pretty cool tribute I thought.

Yesterday was also the one-year anniversary of this blog. I have gone back and read all the posts from the past year in the past week or so. Mostly I've done this while nursing Lass in the middle of the night. It's been fun to see the things I've written about and the photos I've posted. I started this blog kind of on a whim, but I'm so glad I did. It has been very enjoyable for me to keep up with it and to look back at how much has changed in the last year.

Today was a beautiful day so we just hung around at home. Miss played some music this morning.

And she showed off her sparkly pants

and bedazzled shirt, which she loved to look at all day.
We played outside this afternoon. The weather was perfect and Miss had a great time in the yard as always. Lass hung out in my BabyEtte wrap again. Bubbles were blown, sticks were collected (and crab apples, and acorns. . .), and there was lots of happy running.

When the Daddy got home he had some good cuddles with both of the girls.

They read a magazine. A plane magazine, of course.

And Miss gave Lass lots of kisses, as she always does.
And finally, I am happy to say that the "transition jeans" I bought after my pregnancy with Miss are already way too big. Yay. It was a good weekend.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Our Own

This has been our first week on our own. Just the three of us. Just us girls. Just me, the Mom, managing a newborn and a toddler. Zone defense. I think I've done all right. We have had our moments. A meltdown here and there. I have let Miss watch waaayyy more TV than I ever have before. Which still isn't a lot, since previously she pretty much watched no TV, but I feel a little bad turning on the TV to occupy her when I'm busy with Lass. But she doesn't watch it much, and I've said many times to other mom friends who have had the same guilt, "A little TV isn't going to hurt anyone." So I should listen to my own reassurances and stop feeling bad about it I guess. Besides, Miss loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Yo Gabba Gabba. Has anyone ever watched that show?? Whoa. It is seriously weird, but Miss loves it and dances to the music and waves to the strange characters. The first time we watched it Jack Black was on. That was a little scary. Especially when he was suddenly and magically wearing the weird orange suit to match the DJ guy. Jack Black does not look good in that orange suit. I'm just sayin'.

Miss continues to do well as the Big Sister. She still tries to test me sometimes, and I am occasionally at a loss about what to do with her when she does this while I'm nursing or otherwise occupied with Lass and not very well able to correct her. But overall things are going well and getting better every day. I got a new gate to replace the stupid useless one I had previously purchased. I am always trying to encourage and praise Miss about being a Big Girl, and in that vein she got a new Big Girl Seat.

And then there's this angel.

She is really a good baby. She eats well and sleeps well at night, for the most part. Some nights are better than others, but I know I have it easy compared to some. For example, a bad night for us is when she wakes up three times instead of one or two (Wednesday night) or when she is fussy and won't stay asleep until I put her in the bouncy seat at midnight, and then she sleeps until 6 when I wake her up to feed her (last night). So really, even her bad nights aren't all that bad. And she is just so snuggly!!

We're chilling at home today, but the past two days we've gotten out and about a bit. Doctor's visits for both girls on Wednesday, Lass is 11 lbs, Miss is 25 lbs. Having both of them together was a bit of an adventure, but it worked out okay. Yesterday we all went to pick up our produce box and then went for a nice walk around the neighborhood. Lass loves to ride in my BabyEtte wrap when we walk or go to the store, or even just around the house. She just snuggles right in and snoozes away. Yesterday she slept while I wore her for our walk and then just stayed in the wrap while I made dinner and ate. Handy.

And while us girls have been doing well on our own during the day, we sure do love it when Daddy comes home. He and Miss have been having little dance parties in the evenings. A breakdancing session turned into this:

After a while he pretended to be asleep. she wasn't having it though. She prodded him.
She signed "more" and said, "Agi??" (again)
Then she flashed this grin when she knew she had him.
The next game was Mop-the-Floor.
They took a little break for some photos. Check out the adoration with which she looks at her Daddy.
And back to playing.
Miss then wanted to read a book for her Daddy.
And now, right on cue, she's waking from her nap. Back to it!