Follow by Email

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mal is Three Months Old!

Crazars, isn't it? But before you say, "Wow! That was fast! It doesn't seem that long!" rest assured that it's felt very much like three months to me. Verrrry much. :)

Whether we've broken through a wall or I'm just comparing now to a very difficult week about a week ago, things seem to be calming down a bit. Mal still wants to eat every hour, but I can usually put him off for a while if it's nice outside or we have things to do that involve other people or driving in the car.

Mal's crying episodes (what some call "colic") have diminished a great deal, so that now they're the rarity instead of the norm. He still prefers me and will sometimes scream and fuss when James tries to hold him so I can get stuff done, but usually he'll put up with other people loving on him at least for a little while.

We started putting him in his crib a few weeks ago, and he sleeps there until he wakes up to be fed. Sometimes, this is under half an hour. Sometimes, it's 3-4 hours. Whatever. I've read all of the sleep training stuff, and it just makes me want to punch someone. "Drowsy but not yet asleep," they all say. My son doesn't have that speed. He's either wide awake, asleep, nursing, or screaming. He has never just fallen asleep when he was sitting around. He's fallen asleep in the car seat. He's fallen asleep in the stroller. He's fallen asleep in the carrier while I'm holding him. But he doesn't reach a sweet little half-drunk calm phase where I can put him down and he'll drift off. So guess what? I'm doing what works for us. Take that, people who don't know me and don't live in our house but still have an opinion.

Also, because of a rather shocking episode a couple of weeks ago in which I broke down bawling after Try #4 to put him, sleeping, into his crib only to have him wake screaming... and then a full-on FUH-REAK OUT (by me) after Try #5, we've decided that every night, we try up to three times to put him in the crib. After that, we fold, and I go to bed with Mal and we all get some sleep, which is kind of the point, anyway.

I am also pleased to announce that I ATE CHEESE and Mal doesn't seem sensitive to it anymore. I'm still going to ease back in to dairy (and I kind of prefer almond milk, anyway), but I'm SO HAPPY that I can have pizza again!

Being able to read and sort of predict Mal's moods, and his stabilized days, makes me actually look forward to our upcoming vacation.

Everywhere we go, people notice Mal and comment about how good and smart and "alert" he is. He is very charming, even to me, even when I'm really tired. I think this is why God made babies the way that he did.

I'm hoping that by this time next month, he will be able to start eating foods, which should buy more time between feedings and maybe even help with sleeping. But for now, we're doing really well. Love my little guy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some cool stuff

A few random neat things that have happened with Mal...

Last week, D and I spent a pretty significant time at the Apple store waiting for tech support. It was madness, and Mal and I spent a good deal of time walking the store so he could look at the displays. Daphne, unfortunately, had to sit at the "Genius Bar," but it was her device, so don't feel too badly.

Anyway, I was grumbling about Apple in general when I walked past an elderly gentleman. When I say "elderly," I mean ANCIENT. He was emaciated, with braces on both knees, and sitting on a stool attached to a walker. He saw Mal and held out his finger, so I stopped. He wagged his finger at the baby, who rewarded this man with a giant grin. The man beamed back and looked at me, saying, "Eh? Eh? Eh?" "Yep, you got him!" I assured him.

And that, friends, is the entire reason we were at the Apple store that day. It might be why Daphne dropped and broke her iPad. If so, it was totally worth it.

Twice now, I've had people (an adolescent girl and a man) tell me how beautiful Mal is, with the caveat, "I'm not one of those people who thinks all babies are cute."

We get lots of chats when we're out on the front porch. That's a good thing because we're out there as much to stave off a fit of colic as we are simply to enjoy the weather.

Our mail carrier is obsessed with Mal. She always stops to touch his face when she sees him, and asks how he's doing and how old he is now.

The other day, we were sitting out there when two ladies walked by, going back to their office after lunch. One lady pointed Mal out to the other, who actually walked up onto the porch to look at him. She petted him and asked a few things, then said, "God has blessed you with a beautiful baby."

And she was right.

Today, actually about an hour and a half ago, I texted my sister and said, "This is one of those times I wish we didn't live in town, because I want to go outside and scream or cut down a tree or something." It's been a rough one. But I'll say this: Having a child after having a couple of years of low-maintenance parenting, wherein I have pretty much done whatever I wanted, has certainly held a mirror up to me and shown me how selfish I am.

God help me to be a worthy parent, both to Malcolm and to D, who is a teenager with all of the stuff that entails.

It's interesting to me how often God sends strangers to point out the obvious to me: I am blessed, I am fortunate, I am the parent of some awesome kids.

Also, God had mercy upon me today in that as soon as I hit "send" on that text to my sister, Mal fell asleep. I was/am wearing him, so I haven't been able to sit down for the past hour, but that's fine by me. I'm enjoying the time and the quiet and the sweet, restful breathing of the child at my chest. Also, Daphne sent me a link to a video that made her laugh, and that's practically like a big hug and an "I love you," right?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Mission, should I choose to accept it...

It's been a while since I've posted to this blog, but I have a good excuse! I have a two-month-old who LOVES his mommy and can't seem to be around me enough. It's flattering, if exhausting, but I miss writing. Hopefully, within the next few months, we'll get onto some kind of nap schedule that allows me to do it some more. Baby steps. Literally.

I'm writing this because I want some accountability to do something that's way out of my comfort zone. First of all, I'm sad to say that I haven't seen "Grandpa" in months, and I hope hope hope that means he got into a long-term shelter or even that he was able to get off of the streets and into a permanent living situation.

The other day, I thought fondly and sadly of him when I saw another (unfamiliar) older guy walking around with his face pretty beat up: puffy (new) black eye with cuts and bruises, forehead bruise, face scratched up. I made it a point to make eye contact and say, "Hi." I wonder what caused the fight, and if it were reciprocal.

We love living near the UT campus and downtown, and homelessness and "feral people" are things we see every day. Still, we have a roof and doors and we are so far removed from it.

There is a gentleman who we've seen ever since we lived here, and he looks like a healthy and reasonably mentally sound person. I don't know where he sleeps, but he spends several hours of each day in the same place: a parking garage stairwell. It's right at the corner of Martin Luther King and Nueces, in the building that houses a dry cleaner and a Subway. It's where we climbed to the roof to watch fireworks last New Year's Eve.

But he doesn't just while away the hours staring off into space or talking to his invisible dog. No. This guy... crochets. He is always crocheting when I see him sitting there. The last time I saw him, it was a small white square using very fine yarn. I've seen him do longer pieces with bulkier stuff. I've never seen something as recognizable as, say, a sweater or anything... and here is where I'm challenging myself:

I want to ask him what he's making. I want to engage him. He is my neighbor. I see him at least twice a week, which is a lot more often than I see the people who live next door (which is about 5 times this whole year, although on Halloween the girl did offer to help me with the baby if I ever needed it... bless her).

As I was thinking about this, and in the middle of writing this blog post, yesterday, I saw him walking down our sidewalk, in front of our house. I was nursing at the time and while I don't mind nursing in the public that is our front porch, it's not the time I want to initially introduce myself to a potential friend. Besides, he seemed to be on his way somewhere. He has his backpack, and he has a crafting bag. I've seen him up Guadalupe a mile or so, too. But he's always around. And I want to know his story.

Maybe it's stupid that I have to put it out here and make it a "thing." My introvert husband just naturally connects with people. I wish that were the case with me, but it's not. So I'm asking you: In early 2015, ask me if I've talked with this gentleman. I hope I can tell you something more about him.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Right-handed update

It is 3:11 PM on December 2 as I start this post. I am typing one-handed and my shoulder is already burning, but I have wanted to update for weeks.

Mal is getting big! At his two-month well check-up last week, he weighed 12 pounds, 10 ounces (up from a birth weight of 8 pounds, 2 ounces). He was 23 1/2 inches, so had gained 2 inches since birth. And his head circumference was... big. In the 86th percentile.

Here's an average day: Mal wakes up around 7 AM and is in a great mood. He usually hangs out with his dad for a while, and then when breakfast is ready, we all sit down and eat together. Malcolm wants to eat during or after that, and then we hang out for a while. Mornings are the best; when Mal is "fresh" and awake, he is so much fun. He is happy and... well, when he gets really happy and giggles, he gets the hiccups.

(4:57 PM)

After James leaves for work, the day is pretty much a game of my trying to keep Malcolm distracted as long as possible between nursing sessions. He *loves* to nurse. He wants to be on my breast at all times, even when he's not hungry. We're trying to train him on a pacifier, and sometimes, he will really get to going on it (like 4-6 good sucks) but usually, he chews around on it and it keeps him amused for about ten minutes before he's like, "That was fun, now let's get back to the real thing."

Also, I spend a lot of the day trying to put Mal down for a nap. It goes like this: he nurses to sleep. I lie him on the couch. He immediately wakes up... and will be consoled by nothing other than nursing, which often lulls him to sleep, so I'll wait a little longer to put him down... and he wakes up.

I have experimented with trying to train Mal to do things other than nurse, but he gets inconsolable (as you know, sometimes he's that way, anyway, as he has what people think of as "colic," though the episodes persist, they are not every day at the same time anymore; sometimes, we get a break of a day or two or even as many as five days) and it stresses me out a lot to hear him cry like that. A few weeks ago, I actually ran an errand, leaving the house when he was crying, and came back half an hour later without his having calmed down in the least. He doesn't know how to self-soothe yet, and it doesn't "feel" right to my parent heart to let him throw a fit for too long...

...So, I spend a great deal of my day with half of my chest exposed. And I'm going back into that newborn exhaustion phase.

On Thanksgiving, I actually had a bit of a meltdown because we'd spent a good deal of time at friends' house, and as the day wore on, I was expending more and more energy trying to stave off his crying, including my not being able to play a game because I needed to sit on the couch, reclined, and let him (surprise) nurse. James had won the game, and was finishing up a piece of dessert when Mal started to cry. I walked over to ask James if he was ready to go, and instead started sobbing. (He got that hint.)

The next day was another stressful one, with more crying from the baby... AND me. It was even starting to wear on Daphne, who typically just turns up her music when he's at his finest.

That's the tiring stuff. I make it worse by projecting. If I could stay in the moment, it would be fine. But instead, I worry that he'll be wanting to nurse every waking moment a year from now... or even two months from now, when we're going to be on vacation. And this makes me feel like I'm doing everything wrong, like I should have this "fixed" by now, even though, as I mentioned, it doesn't feel "on" to me to really do much in the way of work that makes him wail. I still feel like he's too young, but I don't know when "just right" is. I'm hoping my mother heart will tell me.

Now for the cool stuff:

Malcolm is delightful, when he's fully awake and not focused on my bosoms. He smiles and giggles and attempts "protoconversation." He is very strong, preferring to stand up rather than lie down. In fact, I worry that I'm going to bruise his armpits, I hold him upright so much. He will push off with his right leg a lot, and yesterday was alternating, so that it almost looked like he was walking on my lap. We got him a Bumbo, and as of about two days ago, he can actually sit in it. I don't keep him in for very long, because it's still a core work-out, but I think he'll enjoy that a lot more than the bouncy seat when we're eating, and I would LOVE to get him out of my arms and onto the table (even though the Bumbo is a floor seat!) so I can stop dropping food all over him. Also, I don't like having a teat pulled out for every meal, pardon my farm language.

(8:35 PM - too tired; giving up for today :) )

(8:53 PM December 3) Mal likes bathing and being outside. He does not like driving slowly (he gets that from his mom) ...

(8:28 AM December 4) Wherein I just say, "Screw it" and post this. You get the idea. He's a cool kid, parenting a baby is hard, and we're still transitioning.

A bit of important advice to expectant parents: Do not buy any shirts that don't snap under the crotch. You might think that's a darling outfit, but you'll just spend your life pulling it down. Trust me.

Chilling with Aunt Sister at the Christmas parade.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Newborn Parenting Initiation Week!

As I've mentioned before, Mal can be a bit of a time bomb. He's such a sweet, good-natured baby, but, man, when he's determined to throw a fit, he will throw one.

Monday, we stayed home from classes because of a flat tire, and he was just so fussy that I gave him 2 ounces of formula (he was still hungry half an hour later, and I was able to nurse; I'd run out of milk before that, though), then he slept for four hours. At that point, I had to wake him up so he'd eat because I was in borderline pain! (Also, I did try the pump, but my body just won't give it up for the machine.)

Tuesday, Mal was on the verge of a meltdown all day. I distracted him by walking a lot (to 7-11, to vote, to CVS) and moving him around a lot, but it required a lot of attention and effort, and I was exhausted by the end of the day! Even with that, he fussed quite a bit once James got home, though he did seem to enjoy the bath we gave him Maybe we should make that a longer part of the evening routine. If only we could figure out how to get him out of the bath without his having to be partially naked and wet at the same time!

Yesterday was pretty normal, but I gave Mal 2 more ounces of formula in the afternoon when he'd nursed and nursed and nursed and was so upset. I tried the pacifier with him, and he seemed to like the idea but for some reason can't keep that sucker (ha! see what I did there?) in his mouth. He didn't sleep after; in fact, yesterday, he only napped twice for about 30 minutes each.

He did fine during dinner, then James and I sat down to watch "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." Mal got upset, and stayed upset during the whole show. He screamed and cried, and I tried everything. We moved into the bedroom, where he lay down in the dark and calmed down... temporarily. Then more with the crying. By the time the show was over (I have no idea how it ended), Mal was losing his voice. James walked him around, but he would not be comforted.

This is one of the worst parts of parenting an infant: When your kid looks at you with pain all over his face, bawling and screaming, tears streaming, and crying mouth in a giant frown, and you think he's thinking, "WHY AREN'T YOU HELPING ME?!"

So, we decided to go to the emergency room. Maybe I decided it and James went with me. Whatever. We did give him some Colic Calm and said that if he seemed relieved before I got dressed, we'd stay home. He didn't.

As we were about to go, James was holding Mal in a fireman's hold so James could grab some stuff, and Mal let out a giant man-burp. We paused to see if that would help, but he was still riled up, so we got into the car and headed out.

By the time we got to Dell Children's, Mal was asleep. James said he'd rather talk to a doctor during the day, so we came back home.

Mal and I went straight to bed, and he had a normal night.

Insert: Praise God that the boy seems to appreciate nights for sleeping. We might pay for the co-sleeping thing one day, but so far it has done more to protect my newborn-mom sanity than I can express. If James never knows the exhausted hopelessness of another. sleepless. night, I won't resent him for that at all.

This morning, Mal was in a great mood during breakfast, but seemed to get fussy as he was feeding. Then he started crying. I couldn't calm him no matter what. James had already left, but I decided we were going to the hospital because I didn't want to find out later that something awful was going on.

As I headed toward Dell Children's again, I had an idea. I looked up Austin Regional Clinic, where we intended to find Mal's pediatrician, anyway, and called them. I asked if they happened to have any appointments available today, and the receptionist put me through to the pediatric nurse. The nurse said that they had a 9:45 appointment. It was 8:45 at the time, so that seemed perfect.

I drove over to the clinic, getting there about 40 minutes early. I was able to check in and go have a seat... well, that sounds nice, right? Actually, I sat in the parking lot for a moment to put on my make-up, and Mal woke up. He immediately expressed his displeasure at being trapped in his car seat, so by the time I walked into the clinic with him, he was howling. He cried during my entire check-in process, and as I made my way down the hall to the pediatric waiting room.

They have a well child waiting room as well as a sick child. No one else was in there, and I didn't know which we were, so I sat in the sick child waiting room in the chair the closest to the break. I was called back almost immediately.

Mal was still unhappy throughout the weighing (10 pounds, 12 ounces; so he's gained pretty much an ounce a day since he was born) and the temperature-taking (98.1, just a smidge higher than his normal, but, again, he was MAD!). When we got into the examination room, I was able to nurse him a bit and he calmed down. As I talked to the nurse she said knowingly, "That sounds like colic."

I was shocked when the doctor walked in almost immediately after the nurse left. He spoke to me for a few minutes, then looked at Mal's ears and nose. He said, "I always examine babies' feet because I've had moms bring in screaming babies who had hair wrapped around their toes. I also always look at their penis for the same reason."

In the end, he said that his temperature, weight gain, and all observable data lead him to believe that this was just colic. He said, "If I could tell you a sure-fire way to avoid colic, I'd be a rich man. Just eat very boringly and let your friends hold him, because a colicky baby will drive you crazy."

On the way home, I realized that it was still before my 9:45 appointment time!

Mal ate a bit when we got home, and then we hung out and chatted. My sister came over for a while and ended up dancing him to sleep on the front porch (told you he loves the dance party, Facebook friends!). He's been asleep ever since.

So, basically, I guess we do our best to keep him comfortable and distracted when he's trying to throw a fit. I hate to think that he's really in pain but if there's nothing medically wrong, we will just go with it.

I was very impressed with the doctor and the clinic, so we'll be going back for Mal's 2 month appointment in a couple of weeks.

Please be praying for our patience, sanity, and hearts... I'm telling you, they want to break when he's so upset!

Here is a list of foods for me to avoid:
brussels sprouts
green peppers

So. I'll be eating mush, I suppose. Bananas and avocados, remember? I guess that's it.

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's official: We have a teen in the hizzouse!

Yesterday was D's 13th birthday!

First, she got an extra hour to celebrate, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time.

Then, when she got up, she got to see me.

Well, you'd think that was enough, but no. We had ordered her a cake from Polkadots Cupcake Factory (they make more than just cupcakes!) just a few blocks away at West Campus. She'd requested Bill Cipher, and I wanted to make her a cake, but given our current lives (and, honestly, Saturday was hugely challenging with Mal, but we're figuring it out), I knew that wasn't a given. The bakery did an AWESOME job with it, and she loved it!

Also, their fondant is delicious! :)

The T-shirt I got her isn't here yet, but will be either tomorrow or Tuesday, and James is getting her a wired keyboard and mouse (I know some people swear by wireless, but if you're gaming or drawing, they can be a PitA), but wants her to shop with him so she can pick them out. She's gotten cards and money from grandparents, and her dad gave her a beautifully-bound and illustrated copy of "The Hobbit."

When Daphne was born (which you can read about here), I had no idea what I was doing. I was freaked out and had some pretty intense postpartum depression, even though I didn't fully recognize that that was a "thing" until I was over it.

After the first eight months, though, once we got free from Boys Town, I hit a parenting stride. Throughout problems with my marriage, financial uncertainties, and all sorts of "life" things, I always felt like I was a pretty good mom.

Having only one child was easy. Well, Daphne was an easy child. For the longest time, were together almost all of the time, and I loved it. Then Daphne started doing gymnastics four days a week, and then I started working, and sometime around the age of 10, she started liking to stay home and do her own thing. By the time we moved into the Nuthaus, Daphne was ready to be pretty independent... and maybe I wasn't so ready.

Over the past year and a half or so, I've realized several things:

1) Although I sincerely did not realize it, I bullied my child at times. I used my authority and size to force her into compliance because I was too lazy to use relationship and discipline. I have apologized to her about a lot of things, namely that, as the first child, she was kind of like a beta testing of my parenting, and how although I appreciate that this release will hopefully be better, I regret having made my mistakes with her.

2) The things about Daphne that bother me the most are the areas in which she is most like me. She has an opinion, she has an attitude, she is a bit profane, and she wants to be in white-knuckle-hold charge of everything about herself.

3) Daphne has become a completely different person since I stopped "strongly suggesting" that she do things she doesn't want to do. For the most part, she's settled comfortably into being an introvert. This is not surprising, given how artistic and creative she is. And her art has improved incredibly. Also, sometimes, I feel like I don't know her, and that makes me a little sad. She reminded me the other day, "Did you used to be worried I was too attached to you?" It's true; I did. I have always pushed her to be independent. I just didn't expect so much so soon, I suppose. I am grateful, though, that she's becoming who God made her to be without my interference.

Halloween night, after I went to bed early as usual with the baby, Daphne stayed up talking with James until 3:30. So while I miss being her go-to, I am glad that she has someone else she trusts and whose opinion she values right here in the house.

Yesterday, I was going through my memory banks, thinking about D's previous birthdays.

Her first year, we had a party at my sister's house; I'd made a boom box cake with a small remote control for Daphne's "smash cake." She was barely interested in it, but held on to the Winnie the Pooh spoon Pappy and Nana gave her all day. (Literally. Even when she was in the swing outside.)

Her second birthday, I made Bob and Larry chocolate chip cookie "cakes," and we had the party at the "butterfly park" near out house in Las Vegas. I hid some treasures in the sand box and the kids loved that. I remember it being very cold and windy.

We'd just moved to Sherman in the July before Daphne's third birthday. Since we had a bunch of left-over July 4th decorations, we had an American-flag-themed party, and I made a flag cake. Two new friends we'd just met since moving to Sherman came over and celebrated, and my parents visited from Las Vegas.

Daphne's fourth birthday was at Old Settlers Park in Sherman, and was Clifford-themed. This time, it was 84 degrees, and the red icing melted off of the cake!

I'm completely blanking on Daphne's fifth birthday. How weird is that? Time to pull out the Maxtor external hard drive ($100 for 8mb of memory!) and figure it out. (I did, and this is why I have all of these pictures. Still haven't figured this one out, though!)

Okay, weird... I guess we just took her to Chuck E. Cheese! :)

For D's sixth birthday, we rented out the skating rink and had a Harry-Potter-themed party. She was skating twice a week there for a while. She loved it!

Oh, my goodness, these little kids aren't little kids anymore!
When Daphne turned seven, we had the party at our house. I made a jungle cake and a snake cake. A whole bunch of homeschool and church friends came over, and the kids played outside the whole time.

When her eighth birthday rolled around, we went to Herman Baker Park and tried to slide down the grassy hill. I bought a delicious Dr. Pepper cake from Yahoo! Bakery and decorated it with an owl, since the theme was "Hoot," a book by Carl Hiaassen. We also had pancakes, in honor of Mother Paula's House of Pancakes. Now I want to read that book again!

I might have geeked out a little bit on the invitations.

Both Daphne's ninth and tenth birthday parties were at Gymnastics Sport Center, and they were loads of fun. Tian and Travis were there for her 10th, and they rode around the gym on their Striders. One year, I cut the cakes into individual servings and made them look like sponges, because Daphne had wanted sponge cake (and, yes, it was actually sponge cake). The year before that, I made her cake look like a gym mat, and I used the topper to one of her trophies as the gymnast.

We moved to Austin right before Daphne turned 11. We had a party at Mueller Lake Park, and I tried to make a 3-D Tardis cake, but I used a bad recipe. The cake wasn't dense enough and it fell over, so I made a GIANT "cake pop." It was messy but delicious.

Then last year, we had a scavenger hunt out of our house, with Minecraft-looking snacks.

So... This year, D didn't want to "do" anything. We had cake, we had presents, and she was happy. Her online friends feted her, too.

I cannot tell you how much I love this kid. I love that she knows who she is and she's comfortable in that. I love that she can't be bothered by a lot of distractions typical to teen girls (yet and ever, Lord willing). I love her snarky personality, even, sometimes, when she turns it on me (I can take as well as I can give, I hope!). I love her laugh and her smile. I just love her tons and will forever. Glad she's my girl!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things and Stuff

It seems like we're in the midst of a super-growth-spurt (so named because Mal's been growing pretty much since he was born, judging from the constant nursing for the past 5 weeks). Mal was in a really fussy mood (read: crying any time he was awake and I was not holding him) from Sunday night until this morning.

And, actually, I think Sunday afternoon's might have been my fault: I ate shrimp scampi AND garlic Parmesan shrimp scampi at Red Lobster as part of their never-ending shrimp promotion. I also had hand-breaded, coconut, and skewered grilled shrimp. The good news is that Mal made it 2 hours awake in a restaurant, only petering out at the very end (although he did, of course, want to eat most of the time). But the dairy I consumed... ugh. I thought it wasn't very much, but Mal was a mess that evening.

Last night, I got my first shower since Saturday morning because James held Mal while he screamed during that 6.2 minute ordeal. Today, I was prepared to sit on the couch nursing all day, and I did to that A LOT. But Mal's been asleep now long enough for me to put a shopping list together and start this blog post, so that's been nice.

While he was awake, we vacuumed and put clothes away from the dryer. I also started dinner (in several stages) and dusted. While he was nursing, I read all of this month's Clubhouse Magazine (Focus on the Family) and read most of "Stuff You Should Know About Stuff." I highly recommend that book; it's very funny.

Today, we also spent some time in Mal's room getting some exercise, and we have talked a lot. Malcolm is starting to make some very sweet noises, so we'll end with this video of him talking to his diaper-changing monkey.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One Month of Mal! (As of Saturday, but goodness knows if I'll get a chance to post again, so here goes...)

And now for what everyone really wants to know: How's Mal doing?

Malcolm is great. He's a generally easy-going baby. He seems to have some issue we don't understand with feeding fussiness certain times of the day, but he's starting to eat more at one time and less frequently (as in, I don't have to have a mammary in his face every moment he's awake; only about 40% of the time). He is gaining weight and has normal digestive processes, so that's not a worry.

Mal seems to think that the day is over around 8 PM, and so if we're out at that time, he makes us come home... which is putting a kink in our small group relationships. However, everything gets incrementally easier every day, so I have high hopes for this to resolve in the near future.

The boy is still sleeping with James and me; as long as he's noshing half a dozen times during the night, it's just the easiest thing. We plan to bring his bed into our room this weekend, because now that he's sleeping longer stretches at a time, it should be easier to transition him to sleeping on his own. I need him in his own space because I managed to roll over facing away from him in the middle of one night, and fortunately at that time he was between James and me. When he's on the outside, I feel safer with my arm around him so he doesn't roll away. Maybe a cat would catch him, anyway.

Mal is starting to smile a lot, but it's often right before he cries, so I'm not sure he understands what a smile is supposed to be. Still super cute. He's also trying to vocalize in ways that aren't crying. Sometimes, he brays or bleats, sounding vaguely like a goat, and other times, it's clear that he's just testing out what sounds he can make. He's approached something sounding like a halting "coo" a couple of times, and it's precious.

Today, we went to Trader Joe's for the first time, and Mal was great most of the way. He was awake, looking around, and only decided he was finished after about half an hour. I still couldn't go to the store, but it beat the visit to Target when he screamed the whole time, even though I was holding him. At TJ's, I left him in his car seat, then my sister carried him while we checked out. He fell asleep and waited to wake up until I put the groceries away. What a good boy.

Yes, Daphne has held him and helps me out a lot. No, she's not head over heels in love. But I think she has the makings of a great big sister, and I'm glad she's at home during the day to give me someone else to talk to (when she's not listening to music). She doesn't mind that I pack it up around 9 PM every day; she enjoys having her late nights to herself, and draws a lot at that time.

James... James is a great dad. Although Mal is getting increasingly okay with being put in the bouncy seat (which he can't use right now because the cover is in the wash due to the boy's Houdiniesque elimination) and the swing (thank goodness; it cost a small fortune and I'd hate to have wasted it), at first, James and I were constantly having to hand him off. We still do this a lot at night and in the mornings. It gives James time with Mal, and it gives me a chance to get dressed in the morning and get breakfast and lunch together, or to shower. Luxury, no? 

Now, if it's pictures that you want, you can check out my September and October Picasa albums. Links below. Special thanks to my sister Sarah and friend Jana for all of the awesome pictures that I didn't take. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Treasure Every Moment"??

Having a newborn baby is exhausting. You hear that, but you don't get it until you have one (although perhaps the first couple of weeks with a new puppy come close; at least Mal won't tear up the couch or poop behind the stove when I'm not paying attention). I don't mean that in a condescending way. It just is.

When Daphne was four days old, I wrote this: "The word 'mommy' means something different to me now. This is not a warm fuzzy term of endearment at this point; it is a hard, dirty, almost war-like appointment. I'm not sure I am mature enough for the task, but no one may ever be until it is forced upon them. I long to pay more attention to my dog. I ache to sing songs to Daphne and to show her things about the world around her. I would love to feel like my 'normal self' for a while. But there is too much to do and not enough time..."

You'll notice that I only had one baby... until love convinced me to have another. I adored D and I love Mal. But babies are DIFFICULT. I am not one who looked back at baby pictures of Daphne and thought nostalgically, "Awww, I miss that stage." I never did. The older Daphne got, the more I enjoyed her.

So... No one is obligated to listen to my complaints about bone-tired weariness. I know it's par for the course, and we're still surviving. But there are two things that people say that make me more than a little bit crazy.

THING NUMBER ONE: "Treasure every moment. It goes by too fast."

Well, I suppose that is two things. To address the first: No. I'm sorry, but we're human and although all of life is precious, none of us treasures EVERY moment. We squander. It happens. When you're with a sick kid in the E/R waiting room, do you treasure that moment? Or do you wish it'd be over with because you'd like to get to the solution? That's how I feel when Mal won't let me put him down, or when he's crying for reasons I can't discern, or when he wants to eat every second of his waking life.

When you have a teenager, if you tell a co-worker, "Last night, my daughter came in and asked her mom and me to turn the channel because she wanted to watch Teen Mom 6, but we since we were already watching NCIS, we told her no, but asked her to sit with us and watch. She screamed, 'You are a couple of fat-ass idiots, and if you really loved me, you would have put me up for adoption!' then she ran to her room, slammed the door, and cranked the radio," no one says, "Aww, well treasure every moment because she'll be moved out before you know it."

Can we please be honest and say that there are parts of parenting that aren't our favorites? Maybe your least favorite is the awkward tween thing. Maybe you hate potty-training. Maybe you really can't stand the terrible twos and have facetiously thought of selling your screaming brat on eBay (when that was a thing). Maybe the teen years make you question your decision to procreate. It's okay. We all have those moments.

For me, it happens to be early infancy. It's just not my favorite. That doesn't mean I don't love my boy, or that I'm resentful or not properly caring for him. For me, this is a means to an end. It gets me from Point A (not having a kid) to Point B (having a child and having the basis of a relationship with him).

Yes, there are many, MANY times in a day when I'm overwhelmed by my maternal affection for Mal. I just stare at his face in wonder. But there are also many times in a day when I'd really like to be able to use the restroom without feeling like there is a timer going. And that's okay.

By the way, a shout-out to a bunch of my friends who are expecting for the first time. Especially if you had to go through a lot to get pregnant or are in the process of adopting, you might be mystified when the time comes that, after you've gotten everything you ever wanted, you are troubled by a fleeting thought of, "Why did we want this so much?" or "Why did we think we could do this?" PLEASE don't let anyone make you feel guilty for being exhausted and being in the adjustment phase. It passes. But it's a real thing. And right now, it's my thing.

Even Mary, the very mother of our Lord, treasured up "these things" and not ALL things. She didn't even have a washing machine for her diapers. I can't imagine.

Part B, the "it passes too quickly." Pppth. Some people look at their kids' baby pictures with semi-sadness, wishing those days back. I don't. I loved the toddler stage, and think pretty much everything preschool kids do is adorable. But I never wish those days back. I certainly don't feel like Daphne grew up "too fast." I mean, yes, I miss the days when she'd hold my hand in public and actually liked to go out with me. But that was when she was 10, and I know that this stage we're in now is a transition. I trust that we will be really great friends when she's an adult. I don't ever wish her younger, and have liked her as a person more and more as she has matured and become more independent.

Time passes exactly the same for everything. There is no "too quickly."

When people look ahead excitedly to their wedding, why aren't they chided, "Don't wish the time away! Enjoy today!" Because being abstinent with you're in the throes of passion is fun! Woo hoo! Well, that's a little silly, but you get what I'm saying.

THING NUMBER TWO: "Forget about chores..."

To the people who have suggested this, I'd like to know: What is your solution? What is the alternative to getting things done that genuinely need to be done?

Believe me, I'm not kicking my butt over the fact that I haven't dusted in more than a month (my sister did a couple of weeks ago, though!). I don't need to wash the windows or sweep the patio or anything like that.

But we only have a limited number of clothes, and when they're all dirty... what? I can only "ignore" laundry so long before we suffer. Same with doing dishes, cooking meals, and going to the grocery store.

I understand that these people probably mean not to obsess over the small things, and to get people to help. I've done both of those things, but there are still things that need to be done. Having an infant doesn't mean I'm not a wife anymore, even temporarily. Or that I can just ignore my older child. This is the first year I've ordered her a cake because I don't have time to make one for her. It's cool, and she'll love it, but I could have made the cake she wanted this year. It wasn't a big deal. I just know I won't have time. (P.S. "But you had time to write this blog post!" Yes, in sentence fragments over days and days; cakes don't work like that when you don't have ample refrigerated storage or ways to keep it from cats.)

So if you say to forget about the chores and by that mean that you are going to take care of them for us, then, by all means, come on over! Bring food (and many thanks to the friends who have; it's been awesome!)! Feel free to vacuum because even that genuinely needs to be done on a daily basis or we end up with cat litter all over the place. (I already did it today, though.)

IN SUMMARY, while I appreciate people's concern for me, advice that is tantamount to "Buck up, sweetheart," isn't very encouraging. I get that parenting is difficult; I've been though this once and lived (and the kid lived! Bonus points!). I get that kids are only the age they are the moment they're that age, and then never again. Well, then, let me say I'm looking forward to the first birthday when, if it's like it was with Daphne (and so far, almost nothing has been, except for Mal's yawn face), I'll have time to make a cake. If you don't like that attitude, then be glad you don't have it. I'm pressing on, loving my baby and trusting that the time investment today will result in relationship soon. But that doesn't mean I have to be in drunklove with every single second. Some of it is tedious and exhausting and I'm just keeping it real, yo.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Seven Reasons Why Formula-Feeding Totally ROCKS!

Shortly after Daphne was born, we realized she was tongue-tied and I wouldn't be able to breast-feed. I'd tried (stressfully, for the both of us) for three days and then found out I'd basically been starving her. The first formula I offered her, she slurped up greedily, and after the lactation consultant from the hospital stopped calling me, I never looked back.

I'd wanted to breast-feed, and I was temporarily disappointed that I'd be unable to do that, but I jettisoned that plan relentlessly when I realized my daughter's well-being was at stake.

This time, with Mal, breast-feeding seems to be going "well." By "well," I mean that my milk has come in successfully and that he drinks it. However, after only three short weeks, there are glaring advantages to formula-feeding that have me thinking back nostalgically on those days of bottles. I will detail these advantages below.

After you read this list, you might wonder why I'm breast-feeding at all, so I'll tell you -- and, no, it's not because it's "healthier," because science and time have not borne that out; if it were a cut-and-dried issue, we could tell bottle-fed adults from breast-fed adults, and you just can't. My daughter has averaged one doctor's visit every three years of her life since she was a year old, and she's pretty dang smart, and we bonded, so none of those "arguments" have anything to do with my current choice to breast-feed.

Why I Breast-Feed: 1) It's cheaper. 2) I don't have to get up in the night to make a bottle. (Or suffer the consequences of forgetting a bottle when I leave the house.) 3) Allegedly, it burns 300-500 calories a day, and Momma needs all of the help she can get. 4) Poop don't stink.

Seriously, that's it. We've actually tried two or three times to give Mal a bottle, and he's ticked off about the whole notion. But here's why the bottle rocks my socks off, in no particular order:

1) Anyone can give the baby a bottle! Right now, Mal wants to eat. ALL OF THE TIME. And although the midwife, in an inspirational talk, assured me that things would be different "a week from now, and two weeks from now, and next month" when he was a week old, not too much has changed. He constantly wants to eat. And it's ALL on me. I can't go in the bedroom and talk to James privately, much less leave Mal with anyone and walk to dinner for an hour. People want to come over to visit the baby and hold him, but he wants to eat. ALL OF THE TIME. And I'm the only person who can give him food.

No, I haven't pumped yet so I don't have any milk supplies in the freezer or anything. Remember that whole thing about how he wants to eat ALL OF THE TIME? He does sleep for two- to three-hour stretches occasionally, but they're so random, I can't count on them and don't want to start pumping, have him wake up from a doze-off "famished," and then not have any milk.

Yes, he also sleeps for stretches at night, but I'm tired, too, and I choose to sleep.

2) When you formula-feed, you don't have to worry that if your husband had an internal monologue like mine, made up of Tweets and Facebook status updates, it would currently be, "I never thought I'd be tired of seeing my wife's breasts." (P.S. Daphne was tired of it the first time I whipped that puppy out.) (P.P.S. James said his internal monologue has only one line: "Farts are funny." That could be a Tweet.)

3) Formula-feeding is a lot less awkward in public and mixed-company situations. And, I know, some of you think it's not awkward at all, and bless your hearts. I'm not there. I feel self-conscious pulling out a boob in a restaurant or at church.

And forget about the grocery store. I might never be able to go to the store again, as it takes me 1 1/2 to 2 hours to shop, and this child wants to eat ALL OF THE TIME. Now, I know, also, that some of you can strap your baby on and nurse them while you shop, OR sit them in the child seat of the buggy and they'll just lean over and nurse, and nobody even notices. Again, you've reached a mom level I'll probably never hit.

Being in a room full of family and friends, I am super aware that even if I cover the majority of my ample bosom with a blanket, Mal is going to back off, leaving my glistening nipple visible until I notice and cover it. And I've lost enough sensitivity in that area (thank goodness!) that sometimes, I don't notice that I'm *not* covered. So I apologize in absentia and in advance in case this happens to any of you dudes. (And, no, I can't keep his head covered while I'm feeding; it's Austin, it's hot and muggy, and it's SUPER uncomfortable in there... we've tried.)

4) When you breast-feed, you second-guess EVERYTHING. Do I have enough milk? Now that I have enough milk, did I eat something that is making him cry like that? Is it dairy? Nuts? Nut butter? Chocolate? Onions? Tomatoes? Caffeine? Am I torturing my child with my old lady curdled non-sustaining boob cheese? ARE BABIES SUPPOSED TO CRY THIS MUCH?! I'm pretty sure that by the end of this week, my diet will consist solely of bananas and avocados.

5) When you formula feed, your nipples don't permanently look like you decided to visit Alaska in the dead of winter and forgot your coat. Or any clothes at all. (Sorry; was that TMI?)

6) Formula-feeding supporters don't feel motivated to create condescending infographics like this one.

P.S. Sometimes I feel like a pacifier. Also, sometimes I feel like a sadist. Anyone else had a sometimes-angry-feeder? Good gravy. I feel like I should apologize for supplying him that apparently venomous brine.

7) When you formula-feed and your husband comes to bed, telling you goodnight and stroking your breast, you don't leak. (Again, TMI?)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Citrus Lane, Month 3

I can't believe we're already 1/4 of the way through our year-long Citrus Lane subscription! And this month, we actually have a baby go to with the box! So here's what we received this month...

Mal yawns, only because he can't see this awesome stuff. (Yes, I know: "Do not use on elevated surface." I was standing there the whole time.)

First, there is a soft book called "Where I Live." Question: Why do soft books have crunchy paper in them now? Do babies not like turning quiet soft pages? Anyhoo, I do like the teether fish that goes into the pond with his baby. It's really cute. I think Mal will enjoy this when he's a little more fine-motor-developed.

A bell rattle! Only for use on special occasions or to bribe the kid to do something.

Doughnut rattle. Makes actual rattle noises. James tried it this morning and said it doesn't taste great. Adorable, though!

Rash ointment, put in a drawstring bag so... we'd feel better about getting two tablespoon-sized samples? Whatever.

Also, the box had these No-Shave November punch-outs on it... but they're pink, so it also covers breast cancer awareness. Umm. Again. Whatever. You're supposed to post pictures of your kids sporting the mustaches. And if you buy a gift subscription for a friend, Citrus Lane will donate $20 to breast cancer research. I don't know that I love any of my friends that much. :) I'd just write a check and make the donation myself.

To review... this is what came in (and on) the box this time. I'm again a lot more pleased with this stuff than I was the first month's box. Can't wait until next time!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do I Actually Have Time For an Update??

You might have noticed my commenting or "liking" something from a few weeks ago on your Facebook wall today. It's because my younger child has, for the second day in a row, been asleep for nearly three hours this afternoon. If this is the new "thing," I'll be super happy! It gave me time to fix breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, and to catch up with some people on social media. Oh, I also got to go to the restroom without hurrying, so that was quite the luxury.

Things have been good. Mal is a good-natured baby, and the biggest issue we have right now is just figuring out what it is that I eat that bothers him. About every other day, he has a one- to two-hour period where he's just inconsolable. I'm not going to post too much about it here, because as much as I appreciate everyone's concern, I've had a whole "too many cooks" thing going on several times during my pregnancy and we're addressing things, so I really don't need any advice... just making the point that other than those times, he's such a fun guy to have around.

We haven't said much about this, either, because I've been very scared to jinx it, especially as Mal sleeps longer during the day, but as much as I want that baby out of my bed sooner than later, I'm LOVING being able to sleep at night with a newborn. Someone at James' office said they didn't believe he had a new baby because he looked too well-rested. That's because Mal sleeps with us, wakes to nurse, and I fall back asleep once he's latched and loaded. He might be awake for half an hour, but is content to look around the darkened bedroom and go back to sleep. I typically head for bed with him around 9-10 PM and get up at 6:30. It's heavenly, even though it's interrupted sleep.

And I'm SO not a co-sleeper, you should know what a compromise this is. I just decided I was going to be a lot more chill with this kid than I was with Daphne. I apologized to her, explaining that the first kid is always the beta test and you do the best you can, and you learn a lot. Hopefully nothing I did with her broke her.

++ truncated due to wakey baby ++

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A couple of thoughts a couple of days later (weeks, actually)

I started this blog post on Friday, September 26. Now you can see how much time I've had both for organizing my thoughts and for writing. But I'll finish these thoughts as much as I have the time to do, then go on with some other stuff if I can. Clock's ticking!

I've been thinking about two things the past two days (again, this was the Friday after Wednesday's delivery), and thought I'd share them while I have a moment...

1) I've read a lot about different venues and philosophies when it comes to birthing babies. And I've read a lot about how ultimately, the way you give birth doesn't affect anyone or anything in the long term. What I've realized having now had two distinct birthing experiences is that it definitely does matter. I don't think it's too important whether you choose to go to the hospital or have lovely pain-blocking drugs or do it at home with no help except your family, just that you are heard. I wanted something very specific, and even when it looked like I might not get it, I knew, at the bare minimum, that I had a team who had listened to me and tried to make it happen. I walked away from that experience feeling hugely different than I did after fleeing the omniscient, condescending doctors with whom I dealt before, during, and after Daphne's birth.

That said, I am out of the business of having babies (James is having a medical procedure done this week to ensure that), but if I had to do it again, I'd definitely go with a midwife and birth center birth again. The only thing I had at the hospital was an epidural, and I LOVED it at the time. But I ended up feeling like it put a wall not only between me and my pain, but the actual delivery of my daughter. I don't think everyone is like me, so I don't hold what I experienced up as gospel. I am just not a "baby" person, and I think I needed all of the endorphins and hormones I could get in that moment, in order to start an early bond with the kiddo. And birthing naturally did that.

THAT said, if my true labor pains had lasted 4 hours or 18 hours or even one hour instead of 9 minutes, I might feel differently. But altogether, it was blissful. Not having to fight to go home was a plus, as well.

2) I don't remember the second one. Sorry.

But here are a few random things:

The first couple of nights, I'd wake up, see Mal's head, and think/say, "That's my sweet little girl." Then the night I was dozing off (due to no caffeine) and he was so fussy, I asked James to take him for a drive. James stood there while I dozed off and crept out of the room, not realizing that Mal was about to come back into full-screaming consciousness after three or four seconds. I called James back in and said, "So, is that a 'no'?" He said, "I thought you'd fallen asleep." I said, "I DID. But I need you to take her out for a few minutes, because even if she dozes off, she's uncomfortable... and I KNOW he's a boy. I know it's a 'he.'"

When James and I talked about it later, I think I decided that in that particular brand of exhaustion, my brain goes to the only other time I've felt that tired, and it was when Daphne was a baby.

Mal has had two non-meconium dirty diapers, both on Mondays. He might be a once-a-weeker, and as long as he's comfy, I'm all for it. Our cloth diaper laundry duty will be so much simpler.

I have had to stop dairy. I don't eat much, mostly cheese, but it seems to upset him a lot. I'd stopped caffeine, too, because I was worried it'd given him a lot of energy the night I was worried he might be colicky. I don't think it was affecting him like that, but now that I've been off of caffeine for 5 or 6 days (and, yes, I'm still sleepy but no more headache), I figure I might as well go with it. I like caffeine. I don't think it's harmful. But when you have to take caffeine gum with you to Haiti because you're afraid they won't have enough for you, you might have a problem!

James is awesome. He is doing everything that he can do, and being so gracious about the fact that I sit on my backside for hours on end. Mal has only in the past couple of days let me put him in the bassinet to nap for an hour or so; until then, I (or someone else) had to hold him or he wouldn't sleep. We're out of groceries; I'm making ridiculous things for breakfast and lunch. James is stepping up his chore level, and getting things for me, and dealing with a baby we didn't plan to have in our bed, and is just generally wonderful.

Also, my sister and my friend Jana have been invaluable. Sarah came over yesterday and cleaned, and today she's going to pick up some stuff for me at the grocery store (but don't worry, Nana, I'll have a FULL list for you next week!). Jana has brought us two meals and took pictures of a sleepy (therefore not-as-cooperative-as-ideally) Mal so we'd have some newborn shots while he's still a newborn.

When James' mom and Pat were here, Patsy held Mal a lot and I was able to get some things done (apparently overdoing it, according to the midwives). And Pat also picked up supplies a couple of times. But it was at Trader Joe's, and I don't think she considered it much of a chore. :) We loved having them here.

There's a lot more, but Mal is waking up. Gotta go hold that baby boy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Birth Story (thankfully, it's a short one!)

After a tense last week, and staring into the eyes of having to go to the hospital for an induction if I didn't go into labor by noonish on Wednesday, September 24, I woke up at 6:00 AM with some lower back pain. I got up, and the pain kept cycling, starting in back and eventually being like a ring of discomfort around my entire lower abdomen.

Since James and I were to be at the birthing center by 9:00, I kept a "journal" from 7:40 until 8:40 and found that these contractions, different than but also including the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd been having for weeks, were coming about every 4-7 minutes and lasting for 30ish seconds. They weren't getting stronger, but they weren't going away, either.

At 9, we walked up to the Birthing Center. Natalie, one of the midwives, gave me a very delicious shake made out of orange juice, ice cream, and 2 ounces of castor oil, just to keep the contractions coming (they did weaken on the way up there, and then hit again pretty hard an hour later). She and Stephanie, another midwife, monitored the baby's heart rate, and then we waited.

I was uncomfortable enough that I couldn't lie down, so spent time on the yoga ball and birthing stool. James' mom and her best friend got there a bit after we did, so we visited and hung out. Then my sister and her two girls showed up, so we had a little party.

At around noon, the practice was in session and women were coming in for appointments. I was continuing to have consistent contractions without too much progress, and thought aloud that maybe they would let me go home to labor a bit. I'd already been told to feel free to move around the neighborhood, so Sarah went on a walk around the block with James and me. It was a gorgeous day!

Mackenzie and Hannah stayed with us most of the day, minus trips to McD's for food, and TJ visited with Daphne at the house. I didn't know it, but my parents had also come into town and were at the Nuthaus with D for a while, as well.

This was good, too... until it wasn't. I spent several contractions on my knees on the yoga ball, then realized that I was progressing very quickly. I was in enough pain that I told Stephanie the thought of an internal exam (which I hadn't had since last Friday when we did the membrane sweep) made me want to cry, but she told me we'd time it so that she'd set up and then I'd have a contraction, immediately lie down, and she'd do it super fast.

I was standing there and had a contraction while she was setting up, then she left the room as that contraction was waning. She came right back, but I started to have another contraction, and during that one, my water broke. I hurried up and lay down, she told me I was at 8-9 centimeters and still had a little way to go, so I asked if we could fill up the tub as I knew the pressure was going to become a lot more intense. Stephanie started the water, said it'd be about fifteen minutes, and I did the next three contractions or so on the birthing stool.

The tub wasn't full at that point, not even quite half way, but I HAD to try to get the gravity away as much as possible. Sarah told me that it was deep enough that I could submerge my belly, and it did feel SO much better.

But also, the next contraction I had was very down low and I could see why women say they feel like they have to use the restroom when they're contracting (I had consumed mass quantities of Castor Oil and did not have this problem).

It was 1:10 when I got into the tub, and it took another 5 minutes or so for the water to fill and someone turned it off. I had three increasingly-intense contractions, yelling out while thinking, "I'm not a yelling person! This is crazy!" And Stephanie would see me tensing up and remind me to relax, so I'd answer back snarkily, "I'M TRYING!" And she'd have to say, "I know. Just reminding you."

Here's the deal: I was only in the tub 9 minutes before I had the baby. I wonder if I'd known that going in, whether it might have been easier not to freak out during the pain. What's funny is that once he started crowning, it wasn't as bad as when the pain was further toward the back. Also, I was very fortunate in that, while my contractions were painful and exhausting, causing me a complete lethargy in my muscles, which were shaking with the strain of supporting myself even while buoyant, after every third contraction, I'd have a minute or so where they would abate enough for me to go back into my "sane" brain and relax before the next one started up.

The WORST contraction I had was probably the 4th to the last. Stephanie was getting things ready as fast as she could; I'd progressed super fast in like half an hour, so she'd run out into the hall to grab something, and I said to James and Sarah, "You need to go get her and tell her he's coming."

Stephanie came back in with a Doppler she could use in the water, and she said she was going to see if she could feel the baby's head. Well, I did not like that AT ALL and started screaming not only "the" word that got the kid in "A Christmas Story" in so much trouble, but "Please don't touch me! Stop it!" Like literally screaming hysterically.

Stephanie got very serious and shushed me. She said to stop screaming because it was a waste, but to keep that in and push it down to help the baby get out quicker. She also told me that I might want to lean back to help the baby slip under my pelvic bone; since I'd gotten into the pool, I'd contracted leaning forward on the side of the tub.

I was skeptical that I'd be able to move, but I did, and was able to balance on the edge of the stair/seat so that there was no pressure on anything sensitive. This is, I believe the second to last contraction.

I could tell (but not see; I had to close my eyes against the pain) when his head came out. I begged James and Stephanie to "take him out, please! Get him the rest of the way out!" but it was already better. His shoulders were intense, but not as bad as the head. The rest of him was no big deal. James got to grab him, pull him out of the water, and hand him to me. Enter Malcolm Khrystopher Gatannah at 1:19 PM on September 24. 2014... after 4 hours at the birthing center and probably just under an hour of what felt like work, but only 10 minutes or so of "I can't control my own actions and sounds and words" labor.

My James was an awesome birthing partner. He was right there if I needed him, but didn't do more than I wanted him to. He asked about everything and listened if I said, "I like that, but not this right now." I couldn't look at his face between my really heavy contractions because he was so concerned. I could see it in his face, and I could hear him sniffing. My sister said she gave him a little reassurance that she knew it was hard to watch, but that what I was doing was exactly right. 

Of note: Mal was blue when he was born, and was wrapped up in the cord (which stands to reason; his heart rate reading was usually somewhere behind the cord pulse), both things that might have gotten him whisked off to NICU in a hospital. But he was fine. His APGAR score at 1 minute after birth was 8, and at 5 minutes after birth was 9. His cord was clamped 13 minutes after he was born, and James got to cut it... but not easily. I guess he really REALLY didn't want to leave his mommy, and we might have gotten him out, but he was still kind of holding on.

We stayed in the water until I'd finished the complete delivery, and then when it was time to get out, James took the baby and I hosed off and was treated like an Egyptian princess. Nikki, a midwife intern and a doula, dried me off while my sister prepared my gown and put it over my head. This morning's after-shower routine by myself was a real letdown after all of that.

We got to sit and hold Malcolm for about an hour before Stephanie did the newborn exam.

Grandma Patsy and Aunt Pat were in and out, so they missed a lot of the more colorful and nudity-filled moments. (Although I suppose they were in the entry of the building and actually probably heard more than they're bugging me about.)

8 pounds, 2 ounces! 21 1/4 inches long. Everything checked out great, the only note on his physical was that he was still blue at the extremities when we left.

First diaper. Much less disturbing than changing him, 'cause, you know, meconium. 

My sister took all of the pictures, and she finally got into one! I'm glad she was there, and not just to document everything.

The birth ended up being everything I'd wanted, and we got to go home three hours after Mal was born. We walked home; James carried the baby and Hannah carried my stuff. It was so nice to start and finish the day at home, and to get to hang out with Daphne for the afternoon and evening instead of being tied up at the hospital for 24-48 hours.

I know that there were hundreds of people praying for me to go into labor so I wouldn't have to be transported to the hospital for any emergency intervention. Thank you, people! I am SO grateful! Also, Stephanie said he only looked 41ish weeks, which surprised me not at all. It was a great experience all around. I highly recommend Birthwise Birth Center and Family Services. Such great midwives and laid-back but thorough care.

Today when I looked at my delivery progress notes, they were recording everything I ate, the stuff I was saying to indicate my tolerance of labor, etc. But they also did not insert themselves into the delivery in a way that said, "I'm the boss; you're going to do what I say, and don't ask questions." They will tell you as much or as little as you want about progress, they will conduct as many tests as you want, and not pressure you if you decline.

So happy to be home with our family and looking forward to whatever is to come! Mal had a peaceful (except for my yelling, then his) entry into the world, which hopefully bodes very well for his future.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's Time!

The midwife has our room ready, and it's time to make our way to the birthing center!

Oh! But we need the diaper bag!

That'd be the breast pump.


Seriously, I could get the bag myself, but James really wants to help.

Yea! He found it!

Daphne tells us to call her when something exciting happens.

And we're off.

It's a short walk; less than 1/5 of a mile. But there is quite an incline.

James happily leads the way, making sure there's no traffic or anything dangerous on the sidewalk.

He flags a little on the way up, but I'm able to help him.

But we *don't* have time for a reading break!

Sometimes, you just have to do whatever works.

Finally here!

We'll let *you* know when something interesting happens, too! :)