Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The brothers meet

During my babymoon, posts and responses will be sporadic as we enjoy our transition into a family of four. Putting up this post during the normally peaceable Alrik's witching hour, for instance, has been an exercise in frustration. I feel like a bad Wordless Wednesday host not to be visiting everyone back, but I hope you understand. Yea for lying around all day with a sweet baby in my lap!

big brother and baby brother meeting — mama and siblings

big brother and baby brother meeting — older sibling peering into newborn's face in mom's arms

big brother and baby brother meeting — father holding newborn

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Introducing Alrik, born at home May 21


May 21, 2011
2:25 a.m.

8 lbs, 8 oz
21 inches

After about a week of warm-ups, I started into what I figured was real-live contractions on Friday afternoon. Alrik was born, after about 10 hours of labor, unexpectedly and joyously, into the water, into his father's and my arms, about 8 minutes before the midwives arrived.

As Sam put it: Last time we called them too early. This time, we called them too late. At least our average is good!

So far, all is peaceful on this babymoon — Alrik's got a tremendous latch. Maybe because of his gentle entrance, he's been sleeping up to 6-hour stretches and just generally being an easygoing sort. As Sam and I were saying to each other, just imagine, if we'd had him first, how smug we would be about how easy babies are — and imagine how many more kids we might have by now…

Mikko is doing fabulously so far, considering this major shift. He slept through the birth, downstairs on the sleep sofa with his aunt. (I take it this was a rare cosleeping experience for her — she marveled at how our little wiggle worm was able to turn a full 360 degrees over the course of the night. Raw talent.) He gave the baby his gift and received one in turn from Alrik – quite skeptically, it should be pointed out, because how could Alrik have driven to the store? As Mikko put it, "He no have a steering wheel in his car seat." Both boys have taken to tandem nursing, and I have no doubt my milk will be in in no time.

Alrik looks a lot like Mikko — only so much smaller, like Mikko Lite. Sam and I just keep staring at him — the visible ribcage and spine, the lack of caterpillar segments in his arms, his long, skinny fingers, and saying, "He's so leeetle." He's swimming in his small-size diaper covers, since I didn't bother to stock up on newborn sizes. I'm sure he'll plump up soon, anyhow.

The labor was fast and intense — at least, transition and pushing were. I kept not being sure that's really what that was … until a baby came out!

It's hard to type one handed, as I now remember. I'll have to write the full birth story soon, but for now, here are some pictures.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Glimmers of hope

After complaining so hard last week about the suckiness that is third-trimester home renovations, I thought I'd present the flip side this week. Things are looking up.

home renovation — new kitchen and bathroom black and white tile floor
We have a floor again! And it's so, so pretty! It makes everything else look like crap. But in a good way.

home renovation — drywall dust abominable snowwoman
It's hard to get the full effect of how white my hair, clothes, and glasses were in a photo, making me look something like the Abominable Pregnant Snowwoman, but suffice it to say my days of sanding the drywall compound on the ceiling are thankfully over. Our bathroom is currently in the midst of painting, and we might even have a toilet tomorrow! Progress! Our kitchen is put back together and functional for, say, cooking. Imagine!

home renovation — kids room floor showing
This will be impressive to no one else, but in the room we affectionately refer to as "the crap room" (theoretically one day the kids' room), there is floor visible. Floor! And room for a little bed!

boy sitting in box with sharpie marker
We had lots of help labeling (and filling) our boxes for storage and to go to the office — and everything's (kind of) in its place now. (I say good enough.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My first birth story, part 2 — Mikko, June 2007: A hospital transfer

This is Part 2 of Mikko's birth story. Part 1 is here: "Labor at home."



Once we’d decided to transfer, we had some time to get ready to go. Since it wasn’t an emergency transfer, we were able to get there in a leisurely manner. M was able to call her hospital of choice and the nurse-midwife she trusted to preside over the birth. Once we transferred, our midwives would no longer have any authority at the hospital, but M & L would drive with us to act as doulas, or birth support. K went home to get some needed sleep before another birth the next morning. Many of their clients were due right around the same time.

The midwives graciously began to clean up, washing dishes, putting away supplies. I wasn’t sure how long this lasted, but now it was time to get our things packed up and go. I had just been continuing to labor as activity whirled around me, and I was feeling more and more intensity. The contractions were now right on top of each other; I kept waiting for the breaks I had gotten used to between contractions so that I could pull on my skirt, pack up some extra undies, make sure we had my Hypnobabies CDs and iPod — but the breaks were gone. I felt like I had become whiny and unhelpful, that I was just stalling. At the same time, I could barely stand up, and I was seriously considering just burying my head in the pillows and refusing to leave. They would have to let me give birth in my room if I refused to leave, right? Finally, I was able to direct Sam and the midwives to pack everything up I needed, from my perch on the bed. Weeks before, I had packed up a half-hearted hospital transfer diaper bag, but I purposely neglected to put any of my own clothes or belongings in it. I had wanted to stay confident that I wouldn’t need it. Now I had to point to items I needed and try to remember where things had ended up. Eventually, they gathered clothes, baby clothes and diapers in newborn size (not the most practical size, as it turns out), and my car keys so that L could move the installed baby car seat from the back seat to the front so that I would have room to stretch out in the back. They made sure to tuck my birthing rock in a front pocket of the diaper bag.

{Is anyone thinking with me, "If only I had stalled longer…"? Clearly I was in transition, despite lack of visible progress. This is why my plan for this home birth is indeed of the bury-my-head-in-a-pillow-and-refuse-to-leave variety.}

Monday, May 16, 2011

My first birth story, part 1 — Mikko, June 2007: Labor at home

I hope no one got excited that this was my current birth story. I tried to be as clear in the title as possible. This new baby's still inside!

I feel like I've maybe done things a little backwards, giving you bits and pieces of Mikko's birth without ever posting his full birth story. I started this blog when he was three months old, and I never thought to go back and write this out for you. I had written it out for my friends and family around that same time, though (with Sam's contributions in italics), so I have it in its preserved freshness and hadn't actually read back through the whole thing since I first wrote it.

I had planned to edit this substantially, both for content and for length, but I kind of like the way I wrote it at the time. I'm even keeping my original photos and captions intact. I did add in some more recent links and notes, and I will make the concession of splitting it into two parts: home and hospital.

Here it is, then, from June 2007:

The tale of my birthing time, 42 hours of labor and a home birth-turned-hospital transfer, culminating in the all-natural delivery of our little guy — 11-pound, 13-ounce, Mikko.

My disclaimer as I sit down to write this, several weeks after the event, is that even if I’d written this the day after, I don’t know that I’d remember all the details clearly. I was in a (helpful) foggy state that let time pass one sticky moment at a time. Concentrating only on the now, I tried not to analyze what had happened so far or predict what would happen in the future (and how much longer it would take). That way panic lay…. I know we annoyed some relatives by not being more update-friendly during the birthing time, but that was the reason — we really were trying not to think in terms of progress and minutes ticking away.

This all to say that I might not get details exactly right, and I might be incorrectly remembering even how I felt at particular moments. But, this is my story, and no one else can tell it for me, so here goes my attempt at telling the birth of Mikko, my firstborn son, who’s talking to me on my lap as I write, waving his hands around and tasting the air with his tongue, and reminding me that everything about his birth was worth it.

[These bits in italics are me, Sam, the daddy, chiming in with a few recollections of my own from the 42 hours. I, however, promise to get all the details right, as my memory is so exquisite that I once made an elephant weep in self-pity.]

SUNDAY, JUNE 3, 2007

Regular contractions began at 10 a.m. but weren’t intense enough to stop us from going about our daily business, as we had planned and as we had been advised. Little did we know it would be a couple days yet, and good thing we didn’t! We walked out of the apartment that afternoon to go to the post office one last time, and our neighbors across the street yelled down from their balcony, “Are you on your way to the hospital?” I laughed and said no and debated whether to tell them I was in labor but coming back after errands for a home birth. I just told them the baby was definitely coming soon and that my due date had already passed a day or so ago, and they were excited for us.

The rest of that day, Sam & I kept an eye on the clock every once in awhile to see if the waves were continuing and if they were getting closer together. I also napped for awhile while I still could do so comfortably. The contractions didn’t go away and they stayed regular, which made me happy and excited that I was actually, truly in my birthing time. I started listening to my Hypnobabies tracks. Hypnobabies is a version of self-hypnosis for childbirth, a method of deep relaxation and positive thinking.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Meeting midwife Ina May Gaskin & a giveaway of a signed copy of Birth Matters

Since I met up with the delightful Amy from Anktangle, we're both posting our experiences of Ina May Gaskin's visit. Check hers out at Anktangle.

World-renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin came to Seattle this past weekend to promote her new book, Birth Matters, at the conference for the Midwives' Association of Washington State, and I got to hear her speak — on Mother's Day, in fact! What an oxytocic treat for a super-pregnant lady.

If you don't know who Ina May Gaskin is, you'll enjoy finding out. She's a midwife who has inspired countless women to trust their own bodies and the birth process, through her hands-on work at The Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee (check out their birth statistics) and her previous books: Spiritual Midwifery, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding. She's also the only midwife (only woman) to have an obstetric maneuver (for shoulder dystocia) named after her.

I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth during my pregnancy and birth preparation with Mikko, and it meant so much to me to hear her wisdom and the stories of women who had birthed on The Farm. There is so much variety and beauty in birth, particularly in natural birth, and I was able to hear her encouraging voice in my head while I labored with Mikko for two long days, chanting internally for my cervix to open open open and waiting patiently for each wave to come to shore.

Ina May believes in Sphincter Law, which was influential in my choosing a home birth over a hospital or even birth center experience. The cervix is a sphincter that reacts to stress, fear, and shyness the way any sphincter does. Consider pooping in a crowd of strangers shining bright lights in your face, firing questions about the intensity, and dictating your pooping position, and you'll understand what she means.

So I was thrilled to hear Ina May Gaskin speak at Town Hall — and to meet some of my bloggy friends: Amy from Anktangle and Stefanie from very, very fine (who got a MUCH awesomer picture of her and her friend with Ina May than any of my absolutely horrific phone pics turned out!).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Prenatal renovation

In case you didn't take last week's post about not being ready for this baby to come out (particularly for a home birth — yipes), I thought I'd give some pictorial proof.

Because this is what you want to be doing at 38 weeks pregnant.

This is our kitchen.

This is also our kitchen.

This, by contrast, is not our kitchen.

Here's the floor we're not allowed to step on.

Everywhere. Perched on top in back is one of the many gardening tasks I have yet to do.

All of the above is why I keep breaking down sobbing that we will never be ready.

This is about all that keeps me going.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Urban gardening with kids

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Urban gardening with kids

I didn't grow up with a garden grown by my parents, but maybe it's in my blood. My grandma had a fantastic garden, way up in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by tall electric fences to keep out the deer. Every time we'd visit her, she'd let me tag along to pick the produce that would end up on that night's dinner plates. She also ringed her alpine house with hanging fuchsias (I thought of them as ballerina plants) and window boxes. It was a riot of color amid the arid high-altitude landscape.

But my dad was in the Army, and we moved around a lot and lived in military housing — neither conducive conditions for gardening. When we settled into a house for good when I was in high school, I tried planting a garden out in the yard. In the shade. Under a bazillion pine trees. Yeah, um, it didn't so much grow. I also made a half-hearted attempt to start a compost pile. I hope I made some earthworms happy at least.

By the time I got married, I thought I was good only for killing houseplants. Living in apartments, I'd kind of given up on my dream of having a garden — until I realized it didn't have to look just like my grandma's. After all, she'd had decades to make hers so lush! I just had to start somewhere, and somewhere small. And, most important of all, I had to give myself and my plants the grace to fail. Or, as I came to see it, to experiment.

Along the way, I acquired a kidlet, and it was fun to see how my urban and rental gardening techniques could work with kids. I still have a lot to learn — mostly patience related — with regard to gardening with children, but that's an experiment, too. Here's a pictorial overview of our family's gardening odyssey so far.

Gardening indoors

In our studio apartment set into a hill, we got indifferent sunshine for our single bank of windows. But I had some luck with herbs, and another good indoor option is a broad container of mesclun lettuce that you can grow year-round. I did not have so much luck with sun-soaking veggies like tomatoes and strawberries — I think, even in a sunny window, there's simply not enough direct light and heat.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thoughts on going though clutter (aka "memorabilia")

The post "Holding on to Sentimental Things" on Small Notebook inspired me. I had two large storage tubs of wedding, college, and high school memorabilia, plus an extra box just for kicks.

The above post shares a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the grandmother brings out her box of treasured memories. Not quite the same sentiment, Rachel points out, if the grandmother had instead opened up her storage facility, crammed floor to ceiling with the detritus of her life.

"When it comes to keeping sentimental things:
the fewer things you keep, the more special they are."

It's complicated to explain, but basically our living space over the span of our marriage has gone from livable, to unlivable, to livable, to unlivable again, generally based on the amount of inventory we have going through because of our business.

It is currently in the throes of unlivable, the living room/dining room area overrun with large boxes of DVDs that that poor UPS guy drops off day after day. The second bedroom, which we we had hoped to prepare as a, gee, second bedroom, is stuffed.

We have a birth coming up this month (deep breath, deep breath), and our bedroom, which I hope will be our peaceful birthing space, and our downstairs, which I hope will roomily enough contain our midwives and my sister-in-law and Mikko as they wait, are nowhere near an acceptable state for the birth.

We threw around some ideas: Do we open a storage unit for the business boxes? But Sam would then have to travel there daily to carry boxes to and fro and pack up what we need to send out. Do we rent an office space where he could do the same in more comfort? But more comfort means more expense, and that's not the best choice as we enter a period of not working as much for the summer. Do we rent storage for our actual storage, so the business boxes can move into that space instead?

Or — well — do we add paring our storage down, majorly, to our list of pre-baby tasks? And most of the storage — sigh — is mine.

I am trying. I hate it. But I am trying.

I'm keeping in mind the shoebox. Sam even found one for me, and handed it over. I'm allowed, max, one shoebox per event: high school, college, wedding. I have in mind a time when Mikko will sit with me and go through it — or maybe, sit without me and go through it. I want everything that remains to be something interesting, preferably self-explanatory, and possibly symbolic for something larger. I don't need to save every college paper — maybe just one that sums up those days for me.

Here's what I've learned going through my college box:


I lived through the dark days of email and the internet. Friends were pleasantly surprised for me when setting up my school email account took less than a week (woot!). Other friends had their emails cut off because the phone line went down (or a roommate picked up the extension and cut the connection), or couldn't get on email for several days because the dial-up was continually busy. Ah…

On the bright side, back then email forwards were fresh.


My ex-boyfriend was an ass.* He kept emailing me about farts. What was that about? Also, I didn't really need to relive the part where we decided to date other people while I was at college (this was my my mom's idea), but he, a 21-year-old, took that to mean hooking up with my pastor's 16-year-old daughter. What the holy heck. Although I guess I should have been forewarned that someone who writes so much about farts wasn't the pinnacle of maturity.

*To be fair, I'm cringing from who I was back then as well.


Not joking about the dark ages of email. Here are my instructions for how to download my email:
Log on to DAVE with Kermit. From the> prompt type "CD Mail." Type "LS" to view available Mail folders. Type "Kermit." From the C-Kermit7 prompt, type "server." Oh, my gosh, I'm too bored to keep typing it. It's a page long.


I wonder if my roommate still makes little circles for the dots on her Is.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Stay in, baby

Mikko has been alternately excited and ambivalent about the idea of welcoming a new baby into our household. I had just been reading some big-sibling books to him, and his succinct review of the charming book Silly Baby was "I don't like silly people." Here he drew a sign to underline the fact. "That say, 'No Silly Baby,'" he told me.

This next one was even more pointed, reflecting his distress over the thought of birth itself. "That one say, 'Baby, Don't Come Out.'"

Well, ok, then. Let's just hang them outside my uterus and hope the baby can read.

Honestly, at this point, we have so much renovating and organizing and cleaning to finish up, I'm with Mikko on this one. This baby can take its sweet time. You hear that, silly baby?

As you can see, though, ready or not — there's not much time left.