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|
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.|
|Mikko and Daniel happily sharing the back seat. |
(We also got to try out Alrik's car seat on Daniel.)
|It wasn't quite the right size for Mikko.|
|Daniel fit in it just fine, though!|
|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!)
|Here, Lauren consults Sam about faucet options.|
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.)
|"All right baby, we've got a toilet! You can be born now."|
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:
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.)
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 in place of Natalie, since I was feeling conflicted about Natalie's presence as it was. 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.