Monday, June 27, 2011

An Anktangle visits a Hobo Mama!

Amy of Anktangle graciously drove up with her young son, Daniel, to visit me just before the birth of our newest little one. This is a photo post she crafted of our time together helping me finish up my nesting chores and prepare for baby!

Super-fun guest post by Amy from Anktangle

Touristy shot of the Space Needle
This is quite a bit overdue, as the Hobo Baby pictured in-utero here (little Alrik) is out in the world and over one month old now. In any case, I wanted to share some photographs and a few stories from my time at Lauren's, helping her get ready for the arrival of her newest family member.

Lauren's Wordless Wednesday post (depicting the disarray of her house mid- third trimester home improvements) inspired me to offer to do something for her which was just a bit out of my usual comfort zone: to travel by car with my baby (and without my partner) to help a friend prepare her home for the arrival of her second child. I say it's out of my comfort zone because—and if you know me well, you already know this—I don't much like driving. I also really enjoy being a part of a parenting team, especially because Daniel requires a lot of special attention due to his sensory processing difficulties (even more so when we're not at home).

I stepped out of my comfort zone and Lauren graciously accepted my offer to help...and I am so glad she did! It was really fun for Daniel and me to have a bit of a reprieve from our regular lives, and I found that visiting someone who already has children is much different (and easier) than visiting somewhere that isn't as accustomed to having little people around.

I had a great time, and I was sad when we had to leave earlier than planned (more on that later). (Somehow, a lot of these photographs were taken on the same day...I assure you,
we all did change our clothes on a
fairly regular basis while I was visiting.) Here are a few photos from the trip:

I did a bit of computerizing while I was there...

...and Daniel did a fair amount of napping on my back.
Seeing Mikko interact with Daniel throughout our visit was one of the sweetest things I've encountered to date. Mikko would help me buckle Daniel into his car seat, he would hand Daniel something to play with, and he was always helpful in letting me know when Daniel needed more nummies. I could tell he was about to make a very caring big brother to a lucky little sibling!

Mikko and Daniel happily sharing the back seat.

(We also got to try out Alrik's car seat on Daniel.)
Lauren finished sewing this really beautiful (and extremely comfortable) mei tai while I was there:
 It wasn't quite the right size for Mikko.

Daniel fit in it just fine, though!
Lauren was kind enough to allow me to come with her and Mikko to what turned out to be her final prenatal appointment with her midwives. While Daniel had a little nap in the car seat in the waiting room, we had loads of fun in the exam room:

Mikko helped measure his Mama's belly.

And he "listened" to the baby.
(Notice how the stethoscope isn't even in his ears—so cute!)
There was (of course) some home improvement to complete before the baby's arrival. After the appointment with the midwives, we made an evening trip to Home Depot to buy a toilet for the unfinished downstairs bathroom. It must've been quite a sight: Me wearing Daniel on my back, while pushing Mikko in the cart, and walking with a very pregnant Lauren...while purchasing a toilet (and various other home improvement items).
Here, Lauren consults Sam about faucet options.
Turns out, the Home Depot was right next to Starbucks headquarters. I took this photograph while nursing Daniel in the back seat of the car. At the same time, the Home Depot guy was taking his time making sure the trunk was tied down securely...with the new toilet safe inside!

Toilet installation was fun (and also fodder for lots of potty humor). I took several photographs of the process, but it really was a three-person (at least) job. The actual toilet placement moment took all of us.

Why is Sam wearing only one glove?
(I have no idea.)
We got the toilet installed, and Lauren decided that this was the moment that it was officially OK for the baby to come:

"All right baby, we've got a toilet! You can be born now."
While Sam was getting some work done and Lauren was taking Mikko to preschool, I was tasked with the responsibility of setting up the birth tub. I was excited to do this because it felt like we were really making progress getting things ready for the baby to be born. (Also, I wasn't at all involved in the inflation of my own birth tub—as I was laboring while Jaymz and our midwives set it up—so it was interesting to do for the first time.) First, I put Daniel on my back, so he could see all the action without getting into it:

Next, I laid everything out in the spot Lauren had designated, then I began to inflate the tub:

After a while, it was all pumped up and ready to go!

(Lauren actually took these next two photographs after I had left.) Mikko made sure to test out the tub to ensure that it was safe:

It was a relief for me to see these photos of Mikko in the tub,
"contaminating" the tub liner that was marked sterile before
I took it out of the package. I had worried that I'd touched it too much
in the tub-inflation process. (Turns out it was no big deal.)
On the last evening I was there we had dinner out together, and saw the sunset on the beach by Lauren's house. I can't imagine a more beautiful and peaceful place to spend the beginning of one's birthing time than on the beach:

Daniel was all tuckered-out on our last night there. (He was cutting a tooth and also fighting an infected diaper rash.)

Lauren has the most comfortable sofa bed I've ever slept on.
(Daniel seemed to agree.)
Because of Daniel's infection, I decided to drive us home a day earlier than we had originally planned so that I could take Daniel to his pediatrician for treatment.

Lauren went into labor right about the time we arrived back in Portland.

I felt quite sad at first that I had so closely missed being there for Alrik's birth (though I had not specifically intended to attend the birth). As I lit a candle for Lauren and Sam, I felt a sense of peace, knowing that events had transpired exactly the way they had for a reason, and that perhaps Alrik was even waiting for me to leave before he decided to come out.

Lauren here again. Just a few of my own notes on the experience: First of all, how awesome is it to put out a cry for help and have an internet friend answer? (It's happened to me more than once now, too! The [virtual-meets-real] world is a beautiful place.) I was so glad to see Amy again so soon after first meeting her at the Ina May Gaskin talk — it was such a relief and such a privilege to have someone calm and compassionate help us get the rest of the way ready for the birth. (Amy's a nurse and doula, if that gives you a sense of how she is in person!)

It's funny that Amy starts off this post talking about comfort zones, because honestly, accepting her help was out of my comfort zone — because I tend to be independent and wary of imposing on other people. It seemed like such a big deal for someone to drive, solo, from Portland to Seattle with a baby, and then commit to several days of helping a near-stranger instead of, say, enjoying oneself. But as I was talking over Amy's offer with Sam while deciding how to respond, I told him I just really felt called to accept. I tend to talk a lot about tribe and how I wish I had support and blah blah blah — so I had to put my money where my mouth was and allow community to happen. I'm so glad I pulled away my usual "No, no, I'm fine" facade, because — yea for connection!

It was fun to have someone with a young child visit, too, because we don't often have such a treat. It made me feel like we were a big family, and it was fun to be able to alloparent Daniel a bit as well! And it was so good to give Mikko a break with something besides his parents all stressed out about the impending birth. Hanging out with Amy and Daniel was just what he needed. Daniel immediately became "Baby Daniel," and Amy became "Daniel's Mom" and then, for short, I kid you not, "Mom." We then convinced him to call her Amy, which he pronounced "Ammy." We got to give "Mom Ammy" a glimpse of what living with a preschooler is like: non.stop.talking.

I have to say: Seeing Mikko interact with Daniel just before giving birth to his little brother? Awesome. It was like a lens into the future, and it's really been accurate so far. Mikko dotes on Alrik. We just had a little party for both boys, and Mikko played with all the little ones there. I heard him talking to a three-and-a-half-year-old (you know, six months younger than he is) with the same singsongy, patient voice he uses for all babies — hee. I couldn't believe the three-year-old tolerated it — and even seemed to look up to my big boy!

Sam and I are loving that mei tai I made, by the way. I really have to get up my tutorial soon!

When Mikko has the stethoscope to his eye? Just fyi, he's being a pirate. Hobos or pirates — they're all much the same!

As to why Sam wears only one blue glove…nope, I have no idea either. I could make up a story for you if you'd like…

That birth tub was amazing. Amy definitely set it up right! It's a Birth Pool in a Box that we rented from my midwife — I gave those handles near the seat a workout during pushing. The sterile liner thing cracks me up — I had no idea. As if I could have kept Mikko from playing in that inflated tub! Hoo boy, was he excited. (Of course, he wanted to fill it.) I was so glad Amy got it set up while I was out on an hours-long errand to purchase a tincture of Shepherd's Purse for postpartum bleeding. It was such a load off to know she'd handled the Most Important Task of the day, since Sam wasn't around either (he was trying to get a bunch of work done pre-paternity leave).

Seeing Amy off on Friday morning was sad. I had hoped she'd be around for Alrik's birth, plus I was worried about Daniel's condition and what their drive back would be like. We're on radically different sleep schedules (witness that it's 3 a.m. here, and I'm trying to finish this up to schedule to post later this morning!), so I was glad I got up in time to say goodbye and help them out to the car.

What Amy was saying about not being there for the birth — "perhaps Alrik was even waiting for me to leave before he decided to come out" — struck a moment of epiphany for me. When Amy told me when she was coming and how long she planned to stay, I thought, and then told her (afraid she'd think I was overstepping but fortunately she didn't), that it would be great if she could be there for the birth and help us with the childcare doula-ing. Mikko was totally comfortable with Amy, and with Daniel, as aforementioned. I had gentle warmup contractions all that week and kept thinking, Come on out while she's here, baby. But, of course, we had to get the toilet installed first!

But anyway — the epiphany part. When I read that sentence of Amy's, a memory came back to me, a strange sensation I had during that pre-birth week. I kept having this sense that I was camping, or I guess more that I was at camp. Now, I haven't been to camp since high school. I guess it was the girly, sleepover atmosphere? Or the fact that our place was unrecognizably clean for once? (Heh.) But there was something unsettled and temporary-feeling about it, even as it's kind of fun and exciting, the way it feels when you're staying at a hotel or, well, camping. Like, this isn't my home. But I was in my home. I don't even know that it was Amy being there so much as just feeling unsettled in general. I actually can't remember if the sensation started before Amy got there, maybe beginning while we were renovating. And not until that feeling passed did I (apparently) unclench and let a baby out. We had the toilet. The birth tub was set up. My nesting was complete. Labor started that afternoon after the morning she and Daniel had to head home.

But I'll always consider Amy a kind of honorary godparent, and my pre-birth doula. And a friend.

Stay tuned for another guest post from Amy on Friday — a seriously helpful one on person-to-person breastmilk sharing.


Unknown said...

Oh, the love! I'm glad you added your thoughts at the end; it was so nice to read about how you were feeling about all of it. (And here I will write a book responding to some of what you said...please forgive the mushiness:)

Again, I'm glad that we both took the leap to make that trip happen! You used the word "called," and that's exactly how I felt when I offered the help in the first place: like I couldn't *not* offer.

The thing you said about the "big family" feeling really rang true to me. It made me think again that perhaps communal/multi-generational/extended-family living situations are the way to go.

I <3 Mikko. That's all.

I began to feel that way about your practice labor (that maybe I wasn't meant to be there) partway through my visit, and I'm glad that what I wrote helped you recognize & name that unsettled feeling. (BTW, "overstepping" by suggesting that I might attend your birth: No way! It would've been my honor.)

I <3 you, too (not just Mikko =P). I'm so glad we're friends.

teresa said...

Does anyone else tell you guys that you look like sisters? I confused you in a couple of the photos. Well, sisters in spirit for certain....
I love this and I'm glad I read this one first because I might have missed the additional comments thinking you both posted the same thing.
It's beautiful in so many ways, friendship, sisterhood, the little ones connecting, everything!
I'm glad you've shared so much of it.
thank you.

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

Aw! It makes me happy to see the connections we make as bloggers online when they turn into in real life support for each other. I think you're both awesome people and rockin' mamas!

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