Feathered Aspen


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Billie Photos

These photos are from our nice SLR camera, and I never got around to posting them here.  To think these were taken a month ago!

Four days old

Four days old

Sweet squishy face

Sweet squishy face

Mom, sister, sister

Mom, sister, sister

Nana meets Billie

Nana meets Billie

The four of us

The four of us

Henrie meets Billie

Henrie meets Billie

Grandma Eunice and Billie on day one

Grandma Eunice and Billie on day one

There are no words

There are no words

The tantrum to sleep phenomenon

The tantrum to sleep phenomenon

Little Billie

Little Billie

Looking at her daddy

Looking at her daddy

Auntie RaRa meets Billie

Auntie RaRa meets Billie

Weston meets Billie

Weston meets Billie

Every now and then, I hold Henrie and she burrows in; I'm so lucky.

Every now and then, I hold Henrie and she burrows in; I’m so lucky.

Sister sister diaper change

Sister sister diaper change

Day two

Day two


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One Month Update

Billie is four weeks old today!  I’m sure I’m the first mother to ever say this, but how did that happen?

It’s about 2:40 PM, and it’s that magical moment when both children are sleeping, so I’ll attempt an update and see how far I get…

BILLIE

This girl is easy.  Her labor, the first few weeks, everything.  She sleeps like a champion, eats well, and cries little.  In fact, sometimes I wish that she wasn’t sleeping so much in the night…  I’ve had to wake up and pump because she’s in such a deep slumber – for 8 hours at a time!  Even in her first week!

So, most notably, Billie is a phenomenal sleeper.  Sometimes I wonder to myself if she’s even awake for more than a couple of hours in a 24 hour period.  I even kind of worry about it.

Yesterday, I think I may have gotten my first smile.  I was nuzzling her neck and making kissing noises, and every time I pulled back, she opened her mouth wide, the corners turned up ever so slightly.  She’s also started sticking her tongue out when I stick mine out at her.

Yup.  That’s about it.  I look at Henrie, and she’s a marvel (to me) of development:  running, swimming, talking, joking, dancing…  (Throwing tantrums, refusing help…)  On the flip side, Billie is pretty much the easiest little thing ever:  she eats, she sleeps, she nuzzles her little face into my chest, she fills diapers.  I remember Henrie’s first month as a sea of anxiety.  Nursing was painful and hard; recovering from labor was painful and hard; adjusting to life as a parent was painful and hard…  I don’t think Henrie was a particularly difficult infant, but she cried, she woke up in the night, her jaundice made feeding harder, and between all of those things (and mastitis, and thrush, and an infected episiotomy), I was pretty wrecked.

I’m also realizing that I had post-partum with Henrie.  I think I didn’t name it as such because I misunderstood what post-partum was:  I thought it was disliking your baby or not wanting to be a mom, which is awful really.  It’s crazy that one out of four women have post-partum and there isn’t better education as to what it looks like/feels like out there.  For me, it was anxiety that I wasn’t doing a good enough job and feeling like a failure all the time.  With Billie, and I know I’m not quite in the clear because a lot of women have the hardest time at around four months, I’m feeling more confident.  Nursing for the second time is nearly painless, my labor was relatively quick and easy, and I recovered very quickly.  I don’t worry about Billie as much or put as much pressure on myself, because I pretty much think that she’ll tell me when she needs to eat, I’ll cuddle her and give her love, I hold her as much as I can, and what else does she really need?  My new mantra is “babies are simple.”  I’m taking Ina May Gaskin’s advice from my labor (let your monkey do it, don’t overthink it) and parlaying it to motherhood.  She needs food, love, sleep, and to be changed.  That’s about it.

The hard part, the part that I have beat myself up about (even though I know I shouldn’t), is Henrie.   I worry about being good enough for both of them, spending enough time with both of them.  On top of that, Henrie really is more challenging.  Between hitting 2 years and change, plus having a new baby sister, the tantrums have emerged in full force.  It just destroys me to see her melt into a sobbing, sweating, screaming, (kicking, hitting, “no-ing”) mess.  She throws her arm out, telling me to go away, “no!”  I just want to pick her up and rock her and tell her how much I love her, but my hands are full or she doesn’t want me to.  But more on Henrie later.

Billie was 8 pounds about a week and a half ago, so I’m guessing that at four weeks, she’s about 8 pounds 10 oz.  She’s been gaining an oz. a day pretty steadily, so that’s why my guess is so precise.  At her two day and two week check ups, she went down to 7 pounds and then up to 7 pounds 10 oz, so none of that scary 10 percent weight loss in the first two weeks.  She also never got jaundice, even though she was at higher risk because she’s an A and I’m an O (Henrie is an O too, but she was much more bruised from labor).

Our only scares with Billie have to do with vomiting.  Before her two week appointment, we went in because she had been vomiting large amounts.  In turn, her pediatrician scheduled a same-day ultrasound, just to be safe.  Luckily, the ultrasound didn’t show any concerns, and for the next few days, she didn’t vomit much.  Then we went camping.  On day one, she puked twice.  On day two, three times, and on day three, four, and so on.  We left early from our camping trip and went in to see the doctor.  They prescribed a medicine for acid reflux, and she’s been much, much better ever since.

So, in our first four weeks, Billie has:  gone to City Park Jazz twice, met her Nana, Grandma, Boobah, Zeydah, Auntie Hannah, Uncle Eamon, Auntie Sarah, and many of our friends.  She has taken four or five baths (is that weird that it’s so little?), slept through the night more nights than I can count, and even been camping for three nights.  We’ve been to the Botanic Gardens three times and when Joshua went back to work last Monday (when she was three weeks), we spent a few mornings at the Pietaris.  On Friday, we took Henrie to toddler yoga, and Billie (predictably) slept through the whole thing.  She was also a perfect date for our anniversary on the 11th when Joshua and I went to Duo, as tradition demands.

- Likes:  Billie likes being held face in and upright, she also is not adverse to the cradle hold.  She’s a quick nurser (I don’t think she’s ever nursed longer than 10 minutes at a time), and she’s usually only interested in one breast at a time.  She likes being held, and I like wearing her best in the “moby” that I made (pink!) and in the k’tan.  She loves sleeping and she likes laying on her back under the hanging woodland animals (thanks Stacy!).  She likes the bouncer and the swing.  She loves her mommy and daddy and sister.

- Dislikes:  Billie does not like bottles.  We’ve tried a few times, and she’s probably had less than 2 oz total.  Not interested in pacifiers, either.  They seem to make her madder.  She does not like the 7 to 9 o’clock hour, and she hates her acid reflux medicine.  She’s not a fan of my letdown, either.

- Traits:  Billie has a sensitive digestive system (I’ll let you fill in the symptoms), but she’s very, very easy going.  She cries very little and doesn’t seem bothered by too terribly much.  Joshua and I are predicting a constitution and personality like her daddy and a face like her mommy.  (We think Henrie is the opposite.)

HENRIE

Henrie is just shy of 28 months, and oh man, is she fun.  She’s a handful, but the developmental marvels I mentioned are a hoot.  I especially love watching her language emerge. I’m stunned by novel sentences and the replication of words I’m certain she’s heard no more than once or twice.

These days, Henrie likes:  playdough, her kitchen set, mangoes, band-aids, boo boo buddy (an ice pack in the shape of sponge bob),  peeling the shell off of eggs (and eating them), walking, play grounds, spotting airplanes, swimming, spending time with her grandparents and her many “aunties” and “uncles,” kissing her sister, dressing (and undressing) Dixie (her dolly), and playing ball.

Henrie dislikes:  having things done for her, being left alone to fall asleep, having her hair done, getting water in her eyes, and her pull ups with zigzag lines (she prefers the polka dots).

Traits:  Henrie is very particular about her appearance.  She likes to pick out her outfits every morning, and she determines her hair style.  Henrie is a pretty good eater, especially if we eat in courses (she’ll always go for the sweetest, most dairy filled thing first, if left to her own devices).  She’s reserved in big groups and anywhere she’s not familiar, and she loves to “people watch” (her words).  Henrie is full of life and kind.  She gives hugs and kisses and says, “miss you!” indiscriminately.  Her face is incredibly expressive, and she’s adorable.

The past couple of months have brought a lot of change.  Between moving and having a new sister, Henrie has been extra sensitive.  There have been more tantrums and some regression in potty training, but overall, she’s adjusting.  She’s sweet with Billie, giving lots of kisses and asking at regular intervals where here sister is.

There’s no way I could record all of the cute and sometimes less than cute details of Billie and Henrie’s growing up.  Nearly every day, Henrie says something that I tell myself I need to remember, I need to write down.  She’s hilarious.  I often feel like I want to hit pause and keep them this age; I don’t want to forget a single detail.

Ok.  It’s 11:30 PM now, and I’m feeling a bit brain-dead, so I’m going to hit publish and call it a night.

Welcome to the World

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A Labor Story

On Sunday, Henrie, Joshua, and I drove down to Chatfield Reservoir and went swimming.  Or rather, we sat in the sand and the sun and stuck our toes in the water.  Henrie seemed to enjoy herself, but the water was chilly, and there was less swimming than there was people watching (one of Henrie’s favorite things).

I was, of course, quite pregnant at 40 weeks and two days.  I refused to buy a swimsuit just for my pregnant belly, and as a result, I was a bit of a show-stopper in my bikini with my enormous tattoos and watermelon-sized belly.

We headed home, and while Henrie napped, Joshua went on ten mile run in the blistering heat, and I made matching outfits for Billie, Henrie, and myself.  I was feeling pretty proud of my clothes making skills, especially without patterns, and when Henrie woke up, she put on her new little dress right away.

At one point when I was sewing or when I stood up to shower after sewing, I noted a crampy feeling in my lower abdomen.  And, like with most noted feelings in the past three weeks, I thought to myself, “this could be it.”

After two or three contractions within five to six minutes of each other and a continued feeling of crampiness, and I told Joshua that I thought I might be in early labor.

I drew a bath for Henrie and me, dumped in a packet of lavender salts I had purposely bought for early labor, and we got in.

(As a testament to my frugality, this is the sign that I knew this was the real deal.  I would never have used a $3 packet of special bath salts if I hadn’t suspected something was brewing.)

Henrie and I soaped up and played in the lukewarm bathwater, and I shaved my legs.  Sure, I might be pooping myself in front of room full of people within 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be well-groomed.

Weston came over just as we were getting into the bath, and he and Joshua watched soccer and got a picnic ready for City Park Jazz.  Joshua timed my contractions, and both of them looked at me skeptically when I said I still wanted to go.

After my 36 hour labor last time, I thought a relaxing picnic in the park, listening to jazz and talking to my friends sounded like a great way to pass the first few hours of labor.

So we went.  Nana, my mom, my friend Zena, Stacy, Gaylynn, and Margot joined Joshua, Henrie, Weston, and me on blankets for babaganoush, greek salad, honeydew, and a little bit of red wine (I had a small glass, because somewhere I had read that that was the first thing you should do when you go into early labor.  It sounded like a perfect way to relax to me.)

The contractions continued, speeding up and gaining intensity when I would walk or stand and then slowing down when I sat.  I sat with my legs crossed and my back straight, rocking from side to side like we do in prenatal yoga.  I kept smiling and telling myself to relax.

At one point, Nana, Grandma, Henrie, Joshua, and I walked up to the stage and listened to Gumbo le Funque.  Henrie danced and clapped, and I watched my beautiful daughter.

Back at the blanket, we chatted and ate some more, and around 8:30, we drove back home.

Once we were home, Henrie and I spent some time together.  The contractions were a bit more intense now, and Henrie sat with me, alternately squatting and sitting in butterfly position, rocking back and forth.  Henrie was so sweet, copying me and looking very serious.  Joshua cleaned and packed bags, getting ready for the hospital.

At about 10:30, we all laid down together to try and sleep.  I would doze off and then wake up for a contraction, concentrating on breathing out through my mouth.  At 1:30, the contractions were too uncomfortable to go through laying down, and I thought it would be a good time for Henrie to leave so that I could focus on the contractions without scaring her.

We called Nana, and she came and got her within 45 minutes.  In the meantime, I set up the living room with candles, tealights, and music.  My playlist was mostly comprised of Sun Kil Moon, Alexi Murdoch and a series of yoga ragas.

I tried laboring for a while on my knees with pillows propping me up and my forehead on the couch, but as soon as a contraction would hit, I wanted to stand up and move my hips, breathing deeply.

In the incense burner, I had jasmine, clary sage, and lavender, and I found the smell of jasmine and the fan blowing on me very calming. At 3:30 I was feeling pretty tired, so I tried laying on my side to labor through the contractions.  That allowed me to rest more effectively for the next couple of hours.

At 5:30, I could no longer labor lying down, so I got up and told Joshua that I wanted to call the midwife.  While I was handling the contractions significantly better than I had handled my contractions with Henrie just before going into the hospital, I wanted to go in now, because the contractions were intense enough that the prospect of going through them in the car was very unappealing.

When I called, the midwife encouraged me to eat something, shower, and then come in.  Joshua gave me some yogurt and berries, and I did eat, but when I considered the shower, I just couldn’t get in.  My legs were starting to tremble, and I was feeling a little less in control of each contraction.

Thankfully, the car ride was only 12 minutes long, and I had only two contractions, bent over the back seat.

In triage, the nurse wanted to put me on the monitors, but when she saw me bend over, sway, and breathe loudly through my next contraction, she decided to check me first instead.

7 cm.  I cannot tell you the relief I felt when she told me this.  What I did say was, “Halle-fuckin’-lujah,” and then I held both of her hands and thanked her and told her I loved her.

When I checked in with Henrie, I was 4 cm and screaming.  Getting to 7 cm took forever, and I stalled there.  Now, I was ready for transition, and the nurse moved me up to labor and delivery.

Once I’d arrived in my room, the labor and delivery nurse strapped the monitor to my belly, and I had to labor through the next 20 minutes of contractions standing relatively still, hunched over the bed.  This was probably the worst part of the whole labor.  I felt extremely hot, the contractions were very, very uncomfortable,  and I had little relief.

Finally, the 20 minutes were up.  I needed to use the bathroom, but when I sat down, another contraction hit, and I practically crawled into the already drawn tub.

Initially, I wasn’t interested in getting in the water, but as soon as I stepped in, I felt my entire body collapse.  The water seemed to take some of the pressure off, and at this point, the contractions were sending thoughts through my head like I don’t know how much longer I can do this.  

Joshua sat with me for a couple of very intense contractions, and then he had to go to the bathroom.  I was feeling pretty desperate, but I had read that it is important that husbands aren’t holding anything in while your trying to push something out, so I let him go.  When the next contractions hit, I held onto the bathrail with all my might.

I had vocalized very little the entire labor, but at this point, something else took over and before I really understood what was happening, I was screaming and pushing.  When Joshua got back, he heard me yelling for the first time, and I confessed after the contraction passed that I thought I was pushing.

Joshua ran out to tell the nurses, because your not allowed to push or deliver in the tub, and then he carried me to the bed.  Another contraction hit while I was still squatting on the floor, and that’s when the midwife and the nurses somewhat frantically transferred me onto the bed.

In child’s pose, screaming, and pushing, I still wasn’t quite sure what was going on.  I vaguely remember the midwife calmly telling the nurse that we were about to have a baby and the nurse seeming very flustered that her patient was crouching on the bed.  “Shouldn’t we move her onto her back?” The nurse said, and I  found myself thinking, “make me.”

I asked the midwife what was happening, and that’s when I realized that this was as bad as the pain was going to get, because she said, “you’re going to have a baby in two or three contractions.”  “What should I do?” I asked, and she said, “you’re losing energy through your mouth (aka you’re screaming).  Curl in and push through the sting.”

So that’s what that was.  The so called “ring of fire” had already arrived, and in some ways, all the things that had scared me the most didn’t hurt as much as I had feared.  I pushed without screaming and then they told me her head was  out and then I pushed again.  They rolled me onto my back and handed her to me.

Wilhemina was crying and it felt a little chaotic as nurses wiped her off and cleaned up the refuse of labor (this is probably why labor scares so many people; it’s very messy).  The midwife asked me to push again and the placenta came out.  As I lay with Wilhemina, she checked me for tears, and then she said, “you’re intact.”

After an episiotomy and third degree tear last time, I was shocked and I nearly started crying as I thanked her.  She laughed and told me that she hadn’t done anything.

And then they all left.  Apparently, there were 6 deliveries before 10 AM that morning, and the ward was a very busy place.  Joshua and I just kind of looked at each other in amazement at how quickly it had all happened.  We were checked into the hospital at 7:11 AM.  Wilhemina was born at 8:40 AM.

For the next two hours, we looked at Wilhemina and talked about a middle name. We had been planning on Everdeen (the last name of Katniss in the Hunger Games), but I still wasn’t sure.  Empire and June were candidates, but ultimately, Lupine won out.  Lupine has so much significance for us:  a Colorado flower, a flower middle name like Lily for Henriette, and most importantly, the role it plays in my favorite children’s book, Miss Rumphius.

Pediatricians came in to examine Wilhemina, and eventually, she was weighed and measured.  7 lbs 3 oz and 19 3/4 inches.

As we looked at Wilhemina, Joshua pulled up pictures of Henriette from the blog.  We decided that they look pretty different.  Wilhemina’s nose for one and the shape of her face.  She also has more hair.

Wilhemina nursed for a bit in the first hour, but not for long, and we were trying again when Stacy, Kyle, Margot, and Gaylynn came to visit.

I ate an amazing meal from Hi Rise that the Pietaris brought, and then we waited to be transferred to the Mom and Baby unit.

In the meantime, I was up on my feet within an hour, going to the bathroom.  In general, I was amazed by how good I felt.  The cramping in my uterus was pretty painful, but otherwise, I could walk and move easily on my own.

When we finally did leave and go to the Mom and Baby unit, I walked there, and when we arrived, I decided to take a shower.  I was pretty much in awe of how much better I felt compared to my first labor.

Once I was out of the shower, we tried nursing again without much luck and my mom came.  She declared that Wilhemina looks like a Kuhne, and thinking of a beautiful photo of my grandma Marlene, I decided I was more than ok with that.

Soon after, Nana and Henrie arrived, and Henrie got to give Billie a kiss and hold her for the first time.  Henrie seemed happy to meet baby sister, but she wears her heart on her sleeve, and it was obvious that she felt a little off-kilter.  We gave lots and hugs and kisses all around, trying to send the message that all is love.

Eventually, my mom, Nana, and Henrie left, and then Weston came.  He held Billie for a bit, and then we had the room to ourselves for a couple of hours before Sarah came with a little dinner for Joshua.

That night, I nursed Billie every two to three hours, but in the first 24 hours, she wasn’t particularly interested.

The next morning, the nurses changed shifts, and I was so happy to see a familiar face. The postpartum nurse that we had had with Henrie had a lasting impression on me, and I was lucky enough to have her again.  She’s funny and warm and a little crass, and she even remembered us from two years ago.

After spitting up quite a bit of amniotic fluid, Billie finally seemed interested in nursing, and right away, her latch was great.  Nursing felt a little pinchy and uncomfortable, but now four days in, there is none of the excruciating bleeding or soreness I felt with Henrie.

Thankfully, Billie passed all of her tests, including jaundice, and we were ready to be discharged by 2 PM.  We drove home and were greeted by Nana and Henrie, who was excited to see her sister but feeling very sensitive.  After nursing Billie, I took Henrie for a little walk to the park to spend some time together.  Henrie seemed to relax a little, and I was so thankful that my body was allowing me to reassure my first little girl.

So that’s the story of labor and the first 36 hours or so of life with Wilhemina.  I feel like there’s a lot that I missed, but I wanted to get it all down here so I won’t forget.

Recap on Labor and Delivery:

- Contractions started around 4:30 PM on June 29.

- Contractions intensified around 1:30 AM on June 30 (I’m guessing I was at about 4 cm somewhere between 10:30 and 1:30).

- Called the midwife at 6:00 AM.

- Checked into the hospital at 7:11 AM.  7 cm.

- Delivered at 8:40 AM.

I did a bit of preparation in hopes of an unmedicated labor (I say unmedicated purposely, because I don’t like the terminology “natural” – as if some labors aren’t natural – psh.)  So here are the things that really, really helped:

- I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.  It was really interesting, and I actually almost didn’t even read it, but for some reason, I picked it up about a week before Billie was born and read the whole thing.  There were a number of helpful tips that I used:

- – – Stop thinking about labor and delivery as improbable or incredibly painful.  For some reason, people are always talking about the improbability of passing a baby through a small opening, religious texts are cursing women with pain during childbirth, etc.  In reality, your ligaments loosen, your body pushes out the baby, and there is enough room.  Gaskin recommends the mantra, “open,” and I thought that to myself constantly.  I also tried to describe the contractions as intense or productive, rather than painful.  I’m a words girl, so this kind of stuff matters to me.

- – – Obey the “Spincter Rule.”  It sounds silly, but this is why I let Joshua go use the bathroom when the contractions were the worst.  Ina May tells this story of an explicably long labor and chalks it up to the husband “holding it in” for too long.  That may sound a little far fetched, but the other piece is a body rule that feels pretty sensical.  Ina May says that it is impossible for your cervix to open if your jaw and face are not relaxed.  She even goes so far as to say that you should blow your lips (horse lips) while pushing to prevent tearing, and by god, that’s what I did.  Given the extent of my tearing from last time and the likelihood of me tearing this time, I was willing to do about anything.  So I did horse lips, and guess what?  I didn’t tear.  So pretty much her word is gospel.

- – – Let your monkey do it.  This one makes me squirm a little bit, because the more primal parts of living make me a little uncomfortable, but again.  I was willing to try anything.  Basically, this meant that if squatting feels natural and good, do it.  If getting down on all fours and pushing feels natural, do it.  Have no filter; don’t let your brain get in the way.  Nuff said.

- – – Move.  Do not try and take those contractions sitting still.  Just thinking about trying to do that makes me shudder.

- The other thing that I did was take prenatal yoga.  Again, I was skeptical, but I decided to go in with an open mind, and I ended up really loving it.  Two things in particular that helped in labor where:

- – – Positions.  There’s a lot of squatting and moving your hips in prenatal yoga, and it helped a lot to practice the movements that I used to get through contractions.

- – – “Keep ups.”  This is where you hold a pose for a long time (5 mn) and experience muscle fatigue but use your breath and movement to persevere.  This is where I learned to concentrate on breathing out loudly and adjust my movement to provide my muscles with relief.

- One of the most helpful things I did was watch labor videos.  Brittaney (thanks!) sent me a prenatal yoga DVD and recommended the videos, so the week before Billie was born, Joshua and I watched them together.  It was helpful to see how the women worked through their contractions, and in labor, I copied their moves.  It put all those pieces – breathing, moving, relaxing, and letting your monkey out – together.

- Finally, there were a bunch of other little things that I did that may or may not have helped:

- – – I drank copious amounts of raspberry leaf tea.

- – – I bought and used clary sage, jasmine, and lavender essential oils.

- – – I ran all the way up to the day before labor.

- – – I tried to sit crosslegged or in butterfly with my pelvis tilted as much as possible.

In the end, labor and delivery were easier than I had hoped.  The transition stage from 7 cm to 10 cm were definitely the most intense and yes, I would say painful, but the actually delivery wasn’t as painful as I had anticipated.  It was a pretty amazing experience, and given how much better my body has faired and how much easier these first few days have been, it was very, very worth it for me.

Finally, I want to end this post with the wellspring of gifts and love that are all around us.  I’m so thankful for:

- a relatively short and easy labor

- a healthy and beautiful little girl

- knowing how to nurse

- my first little girl who is sensitive but still brave enough to love

- being able to lie down to rest, nurse and cuddle with Billie

- an incredibly helpful and compassionate husband who is also a fantastic father

- friends and family for their companionship

- friends and family for their overwhelming generosity, including:

- – – cleaning our house, doing laundry, dishes, cooking, you name it

- – – giving us delicious food, including cheesecake, champagne, enchiladas, Hi Rise bagels, paninis, pasta salad, salad, yum, yum, yum

- – – giving Henrie little gifts to make her feel special and loved and spending time with her

A while ago, during prenatal yoga, the teacher said, “babies are born with a sandwich in their hands,” and it’s true.  They are.  Billie arrived with more to spare, and these first few days has been the work of ambassadors, spreading her love and receiving love.  At night, I whisper into Henrie’s ear, “all is love,” and when she falls asleep, I gaze into my newborn Wilhemina’s face and feel it all well up within me.  I am so, so very lucky to have these two little girls by my side.

Pictures to come :)


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Before she is born

Three months ago, we bought a new house.  Both Joshua and I were excited about the newness and change that accompanies a new home, but I knew enough about home renovation to feel a good bit of trepidation.

Joshua never ceases to amaze me.  He’s a DIY plumber and electrician.  He can build a kitchen and install any appliance.  He’ll look it up on YouTube, call his dad, or buy a book, and he’ll figure it out.  It’s an admirable quality, this can-do attitude.  This Spring, he made the transition from a History Teacher writing his curriculum from scratch to the Dean of Instruction for a new grade in a relatively new high school charter.  He also trained for a 50 mile ultramarathon.

Sometimes, my husband seems like Superman, and sometimes, my husband seems like a crazy person.  I’m comfortable with dichotomies, so let’s just say he’s both.  He’s Superman, and he’s crazy.

The past three months have been difficult.  Between a new house which could only be described as “a challenge” or a “fixer-upper,” an already over-committed husband, and a baby-belly waiting for no man, Superman or crazy, it’s been a test of endurance and sanity.

I’d like to tell you that I’m one of those zen-mamas that takes adversity in stride, finds the calm in the storm, and all that great BS, but who the hell would I be kidding?  I am definitely NOT zen.  When we moved into this new home nearly a month ago, I felt my world slide into chaos.  I had no kitchen, few outlets, no laundry.  Wires were exposed, and there were many gaps in the floor where I could see down into the basement.  At 35 weeks, I was feeling a nearly primal urge to scrub baseboards, launder linens, and windex windows inside and out; instead, I sat paralyzed amid boxes in a construction zone.

Even a task as seemingly simple as hanging artwork had multiple steps: is it an outer wall or inner wall? Lath board and plaster or cement on brick?  Which drill bit do I need and which fastener?  Hanging Ikea frames quickly reduced me to a pregnant mess of tears.  First, there was figuring out how to afix the wire to the frames, then there was the realization that each wire was at a different height, then the complicated mathematical problem of spacing them in an even grid.  It took me hours, and in the end, Joshua had to go back in and redo the fasteners because the entire thing was a catastrophic mess waiting to descend upon a small toddler’s head.

So here I am, pregnant, unskilled in matters of renovation, and unable to perform even the simplest of labors.  My anti-zen mantra went something like this:  “om, no counter, no sink, no stove, no outlets, om, sob, sob.”

We had help.  The Pietari’s let Henrie nap at their place probably a dozen times, and they cooked us plenty of meals when we had no kitchen.  Yvonne painted and cleaned up a storm, and Kyle and Jesse helped Joshua move all of our belongings.  Stacy helped me pack up Gray and then went back to clean.  At the end of April, Papa Tim came out to help Joshua with the kitchen.  I can’t imagine doing what we’ve done without them, and I still have a hard time imagining how we did it all, even with them.

On Monday, we finished the “To Do Before Billie is Born List.”  The outlets are wired, the trim is installed, the lights are hung, and the kitchen is done.  Things are unpacked, baby items are put away, and even the front porch is a pleasant place to sit.  The washer and dryer (actually as of this morning) are installed, and we’re nearly finished with all of the loads of laundry.  We vacuumed and mopped, finished painting the trim, and windexed the inside of the windows.  On Tuesday, we hosted friends for dinner.

The house is not done.  There is a maw of a basement, debris all over the yard, two unfinished rooms in the back, nonexistent landscaping in front and back, and the exterior of the house is pretty homely.  But it is enough.  More than enough, really.  It’s a beautiful home, and it’s fairly astounding that Joshua did so much of it all by himself.

This is the story of my last trimester.  I can’t tell it without telling this story as well, but I’d also like to include the things that are a bit more commonplace.

Tomorrow I’m 39 weeks.  It’s been on my mind that Billie could come any day for two weeks now.  I could be pregnant for another day, or I could be pregnant for almost three more weeks.  Who knows?  So here are the stats, big and small, of my second pregnancy.

  • I started showing at 16 weeks.
  • We found out Billie’s gender at 20 weeks.
  • I took maternity leave at 35 weeks.
  • At 38 weeks, I measured 34 cm and had gained 20 lbs, and the midwife scheduled me for an ultrasound.
  • At my ultrasound on Wednesday, we discovered that Billie may be a bit smaller than Henrie (who was 7 lbs 5 oz at delivery), but not so small to cause concern.  The guess for Billie at this point is 6 lbs 6 oz.
  • I like being pregnant.  I have a few fairly unglamorous symptoms, but overall, I feel lucky to be able to carry a baby and bring her into the world.
  • As for the unglamorous symptoms:  wicked varicose veins on my left leg, complete with dark purple patches that cover most of my shins and lumpy veins, loose ligaments in my pelvis, strong and frequent braxton hick’s, and cankles that could easily compete in any geriatric ward.
  • Now that I have two pregnancies to compare, here’s what I’d have to say about the differences:  the first trimester was rocky for both Henrie and Billie, but it was definitely harder with Billie.  I was nauseated most of the time, EXHAUSTED, and repulsed by a variety of foods and smells.  With Billie, it was mostly the same, but just more intense.  I threw up more often, and it was harder to find time to sleep with a toddler.  The second trimester was pretty similar.  I gained weight and showed more quickly, but in the end, I hit a plateau and found myself at a similar size and weight to where I was with Henrie.  The varicose veins were worse the second time around, and I experienced much more back pain this time.  The one thing that did go much better this time around was my exercise regimen.  With Henrie, I stopped running at 27 weeks, but I’m still running with Billie.  I had to learn that even if one run was terrible, horrible, miserable, that didn’t mean I would feel the same way the next day.  So, some days I barely run and I mostly walk, but I do still have days where I run nearly two miles (yesterday in fact!).
  • Another thing that I’ve done differently with this second pregnancy is yoga.  You can read an entertaining post on my general feelings towards yoga up until now, but I decided it was time to try it again.  So many people recommend yoga for attempting unmedicated labor, and so I thought, why not?  I bought a five class pack at the Mamahood, and I’m considering buying another for this last bit.  I’ve surprised myself by loving it; for the first time, I’m appreciating the grace of the movement and the mindfulness of breathing.

So this brings me to my hopes for labor.  I’m at peace with waiting for Billie to arrive, but I am drinking raspberry leaf tea by the liter, and I would prefer to deliver before 41 weeks.  I might grumble a bit if I go later than that.  Given my epic labor last time, I have some plans for this time.  They include:  drinking a glass of wine, going to bed, listening to yoga music, concentrating on my breathing.  I plan to keep moving, sit in the water, and maybe even try a few yoga poses.

Above all, I’m excited to meet Billie.  I’m excited to introduce her to Joshua and Henrie, to hold her for the first time.  If I deliver her with an unmedicated, vaginal labor, it will be the fulfillment of a hope of mine, but if I learned anything from my first labor, it’s that my hopes and plans are not the same thing as a map or a blue print, and I have to be ok with that, too.  If I should be so lucky as to have another healthy, beautiful little girl, I will be extremely blessed.

So that’s all for now.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying our time together.  On Tuesday, we went to the Science Museum and had friends over for dinner.  Yesterday, we went to the Children’s Museum and Joshua and I had a little date.  Tomorrow, we’re off to the Botanical Gardens and on Saturday, we’re having a playdate with one of Henrie’s friends from school.  Today, we drove to Lair O the Bear and played in the river.  It’s been a good few days.

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