Feathered Aspen


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A Labor Story

On Sunday, Lily, 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.  Lily seemed to enjoy herself, but the water was chilly, and there was less swimming than there was people watching (one of Lily’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 Lily napped, Joshua went on ten mile run in the blistering heat, and I made matching outfits for Lu, Lily, and myself.  I was feeling pretty proud of my clothes making skills, especially without patterns, and when Lily 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 Lily 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.)

Lily 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, Lily, 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, Lily, Joshua, and I walked up to the stage and listened to Gumbo le Funque.  Lily 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, Lily and I spent some time together.  The contractions were a bit more intense now, and Lily sat with me, alternately squatting and sitting in butterfly position, rocking back and forth.  Lily 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 Lily 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 Lily 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 Lily, 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.

Lu 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 Lu, 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.  Lu was born at 8:40 AM.

For the next two hours, we looked at Lu 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, and most importantly, the role it plays in my favorite children’s book, Miss Rumphius.

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

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

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

I ate an amazing meal from Hi Rise that the Ps 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 Lu 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 Lily arrived, and Lily got to give Lu a kiss and hold her for the first time.  Lily 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 Lily left, and then Weston came.  He held Lu 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 Lu 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 Lily 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, Lu 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 Lily.

Thankfully, Lu 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 Lily, who was excited to see her sister but feeling very sensitive.  After nursing Lu, I took Lily for a little walk to the park to spend some time together.  Lily 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 Lu.  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 Lu 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 Lu 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 Lu

– 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 Lily 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.  Lu 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 Lily’s ear, “all is love,” and when she falls asleep, I gaze into my newborn Lu’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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2013 is an odd year..

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First, an update on my medical adventures for the week.  After six months of painless nursing, I began experience some irritation around New Year’s.  The irritation evolved into a couple of very large, painful plugged ducts, but in the end, it was nothing the heel of my hand and some force couldn’t take care of (you’re welcome for that image).  Fast forward to Friday.  I have another lump the size of a small pickle on my left side.  It’s super painful, and no amount of pushing or nursing will make it go away.  By Saturday morning, I’m not feeling so hot, so I go to Urgent Care, where I wait for four hours to be seen (thus, the bored instagram I took above.)

By the time the doctor was finally able to see me, I was positively shaking with pain.  She diagnosed me with mastitis and prescribed an antibiotic and some painkillers.  Finally, she said that if I wasn’t feeling better in 48 hours – an if the lump didn’t go down – then I should go see a GP about a possible abscess.

That night, I feel absolutely terrible, and even though I really don’t like taking painkillers, I decide that I’m going to have to if I’m going to continue nursing on the affected side.  On Sunday, things aren’t much better, and in fact, the lump has become angry and red.  Nursing Lily brings me to tears.

By Monday, the lump is no better, and I call various GPs to see if I can get in.  No one will see me, because I’ve been very irresponsible and have yet to establish a primary care physician.  Finally, I beg to be seen by the midwives (even though it’s far past my scope of care), and they agree to see me.

At the appointment, the midwife pokes me a couple of times, tells me to not put heat on the lump, changes my antibiotic, and gives me another prescription for painkillers.  She seems unconcerned about the angry red lump, but when I ask if it might be an abscess, she decides to refer me to the breast specialist for an ultrasound later in the day.

I go get my new prescription filled, pump, and go to the breast specialist.  I wait for another 3 hours, and then I am taken in for an ultrasound.  The specialist comes in to review the ultrasound, and he tells me that since it’s so painful, we should just wait and see if the meds start working and if the lump goes down by Friday.

Well, the thought of this going on until Friday and not knowing what was going on was not appealing at all, so I asked him what he would do if I wasn’t in pain.  He told me that he would try aspirating (draining) the lump and then he would take a biopsy.  He said it didn’t look like an abscess, but either a tumor or a collection of really pissed off, inflamed tissue.

So I told him to go ahead and do it, and it wasn’t that it was particularly painful (although when the nurse had to apply pressure afterwards for 5 minutes, it was very painful) or that I was even particularly concerned that would have a malignant tumor.  But the whole thing was completely exhausting and scary, and afterwards, I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering like crazy.

After the biopsy, I pumped for 48 hours on the left side and I took off Tuesday from work.  I took the painkillers for 24 hours, and then I stopped because even though KellyMom and the mothering.com forum seemed to think they were ok, I wasn’t comfortable having Lily exposed to too much.

Obviously, the biopsy really pissed off my left side, and it took another 48 hours or so, but finally the lump started to get smaller and the redness went away.  It’s still somewhat painful to nurse, but it’s not as much of a hassle as pumping every 3 hours, so I’ve gone back to nursing.  The lump is still the size of maybe two marbles, but I’m much relieved that it is getting smaller, especially because the breast specialist followed up by saying that my results were benign, there was no culture of bacteria, and he was “going to have to claim ignorance when it comes to breastfeeding” – i.e. he had no idea why I had the lump and what I could do to get rid of it.

I talked to one of our friends who is a doctor, and she told me that specialists are like a hammer and their whole world is the tiny head of a nail.  Apparently, in the world of medicine and medical research, lactation is a “black hole.”  Which strikes me as completely asinine and sexist, if you ask me.

Anyway, I’m thankful that this episode seems to be winding to a close.  I’m still in pain and nursing is still uncomfortable, but I’m hopeful that that will also wind down and I’ll be back to nursing pain-free in a week or so (expert medical opinion).  Once again, the KellyMom website was very helpful through the whole ordeal, and if you’d like the shit scared out of you, you can read this article on abscesses.

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It’s back to work after two weeks of vacation, and although I missed 1+ days at the beginning of the week, thankfully Monday was a work day.  The first day back wasn’t so great, but the next was better, and I got to wear a pair of new boots!

And on that note, I’ve been reading a lot of really inspiring writing recently, and it’s got me thinking a lot about down-sizing.  Obviously, Joshua and I aren’t very old, but we have managed to accumulate a lot of stuff, and while I wouldn’t say that we’re huge consumers, I do think that we’ve fallen into an easy pattern of buying, replacing, and pining after more stuff.

Anyway, I need more time to sit down and work out my own brand of down-sizing (I think we all know that trimming all of my earthly possessions down to 100 items would be both painful and inauthentic.), but the following principles appeal to me:

  1. I’ve always loved tiny homes.  Not only do they appeal to me aesthetically, but they also appeal to me in terms of less repair, less cleaning, and less space to accumulate stuff.  Luckily, for a family of three, our 600 foot home is pretty small, and as we think of excavating and renovating the basement, we’re trying to think creatively.  Perhaps we’ll rig up a temporary rental space so that we won’t have to shoulder a slightly increased mortgage?  We’re not sure yet, but we’ll keep you updated 🙂
  2. The average woman wears 20% of her wardrobe, and while I may fancy myself a bit more creative in the fashion department than some, I must also admit that I am a complete and total clotheshorse.  I would love to be able to look in my drawers and in my closet and see everything that is there, rather than pawing through burgeoning dressers and hangers.  While I don’t imagine that I will have a 30 item wardrobe, I would love to trim the fat.
  3. I love the idea of cataloging, trimming, and arriving at a set amount of stuff.  I would still own some craft supplies and books, and Lily will still own toys, and Joshua would still own tools and games, but we would have a number or an allotted space (like a rubbermaid) for each item, and if we wanted something else, we would have to make room for it by getting rid of something else.  I guess it sounds a bit rigid, but that’s where the next principle comes into play…
  4. I totally agree that object lust is part of what pulls you into contracts that don’t make you entirely happy.  Admittedly, when I’m trying to decide if I have to have yet another item of clothing or knick-knack from the thrift store, the final word is usually, “I work hard and thrift stores are like salads when it comes to self-indulgence.”  But maybe I wouldn’t have to work as much if we didn’t have to have as much stuff.  Maybe I would get to spend more time with Joshua and Lily, more time being crafty, more time writing.
  5. I’m a nut.  Extremism appeals to me.  I love the language of “100 Item Challenge,” “No-Refrigerator Challenge,” “No-Car Challenge,” “No Sugar Challenge…”  Oh my god, stop me.  It’s like crack.  Pretty much, challenge me, and I’m interested.

(If you would like to know more or are curious about who inspired these ravings of lunacy, read Tammy Strobel’s blog, RowdyKittens – it’s awesome.)

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Today, Lily went to her 9 month check up, and holy smokes!  She is one tall baby.  At birth, she was just 19 inches tall, and now she’s 29 inches and at the top of the charts.  (At 18 and 1/2 pounds, she weighs in at the 50th percentile.)  To get her measured, I had to strip her down, and she is just so darn cute.  She sat on the doctor’s table, grinning and rocking on her butt, and it was like she was saying, “I know!  I’m proud of me too!  Look at how much I’ve grown!”

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Finally – and completely tangentially – I thought I’d share a photo of the completely nasty lunches that my students eat every day.  I was inspired by BUST magazine to look into some blogs that are advocating for healthier school lunches.  One, called NeverSeconds, is written by a student who started out by posting pictures of her food on line and started a huge movement in her school and other schools, and another called FedUpWithLunch, is written by a teacher who ate lunch with her students for a year and documented the experience.

While I’m not about to eat anything that comes out of my school’s cafeteria, I am interested in having this conversation with my students.  This week, when yet another student complained about the nasty food, I asked them what would be better:

“Spicy Chicken!”

“Pizza everyday!”

“McDonalds!”

I tried not to make a gagging face and asked them, “is there anything healthy that you guys would like?”  They responded:

“I like pineapple, kiwi, and watermelon.”

“But salads are gross.”

“Does bacon count?  If I could, I would have a bacon machine in my locker.  I would make bacon for everyone, and I would call it the baconator.”

So.  I’m interested in the food revolution, and I’d love to see some change in the schools, but I think we have a long way to go.


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Full of Thanks

Lily

At our 6 month checkup (which actually occurred just past 7 months), Lily’s measurements placed her firmly on the same growth curve she began at birth: 50th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference.  It’s funny, because when it comes to our baby, average is a beautiful word.  When she was first born, she seemed so little, and the prospect of how much she had to grow felt daunting.  In the past months, I have learned that while babies may require near constant maintenance, their growth is rather effortless.  I suppose after millenia, our bodies have it figured out.  Nevertheless, watching the ordinary has never felt more miraculous.  Like the day she was born.  It happens every day.  People are born, they grow, they love, and yet it just seems totally miraculous.  Extraordinary.  Extraordinary, and so forth.

In other news, Lily’s first tooth has emerged, and I’m pleased to report (even if it might be a bit premature) that it’s appearance has not plunged us into a spiral of breastfeeding despair.  In fact, on that front, we’re doing quite well.  And while I’m on that topic, I was thinking the other day that I should mention how wonderful and happy we are with the whole breastfeeding business.  After a steep, all-absorbing, and very painful learning curve, we hit our stride, and I’m so thankful I had the support and frankly, grit, to stick it through.  I wanted to be honest and forthright in my reports early on, but I feel as though I would be perpetuating certain stigmas and fears if I neglected to mention how relatively easy and positive the experience of breastfeeding has been ever since those first couple of months.  I’m still not a mega-producer, but it’s enough, as I’m sure you can tell by Lily’s adorable cheeks and rolls 🙂  After about 10 weeks, I was pretty much pain free and able to feed lying down (which changed EVERYTHING).  I pump three times a day at work (every 2 – 3 hours), once before I leave in the morning (after she has fed), and two – three times over my three day weekend.  It takes about 15 minutes to do the whole thing (including set up and tear down), and it’s definitely a commitment, but I have a system that works, and I feel good about doing something for Lily even when I’m at work.  Each day I produce about 12 ounces, which is on the lean side, but I’ve mitigated any problems with Lily by asking her school to feed her just 3 ounces at time and buying the slowest flow bottle on the market (Playtex Dropins slow flow newborn).  Lily is still fed on demand, and she still feeds through the night, so she gets enough – even if her quantities are smaller and more frequent.  As we creep into Lily’s eighth month, the freezer is full and so are her cheeks, so I wager we’ve been a success 🙂

Other reports of normalcy include Lily’s continued pleasure in sitting, wriggling, and picking things up (which she does with acuity and precision :)).  Her tummy time gets stronger and stronger, but she’s not crawling yet.  We’re in no rush and still enjoying her cuddles.  In a renewed effort to document our lives, we took a flurry of photos this weekend.  Among them, we included some (but definitely not all – some of her most used stuff is either in the stroller, car or at school) of Lily’s favorite things:

This Saturday, Joshua and I had to add a certification to our teaching license by taking a test.  Lily had her first play date with a family from her school.  Their house was very cute, and as we drove away, we laughed.  If you walked in our house, you might be able to tell we have a baby, but I don’t know that you would be able to tell right away.  We don’t have a lot of stuff.  This house was like a magical play land in comparison.  Anyway, we reassured ourselves by recounting and being thankful for all of the thoughtful gifts we’ve been given.  A lot of Lily’s toys are handmade, but the ones that aren’t are still lovely.  We particularly love her block set from Caitlin 🙂  Recently, she’s been loving harder toys that she can teethe on and anything that has a rattle.

Lily’s temperament continues to reveal itself: curious and alert, loves the outdoors, Oscar, toys, painting, music, you name it.  The only things she doesn’t like are:  getting in the carseat, putting on clothes, getting her diaper changed, washing her hands, and being ignored.  She is a social little butterfly, and her whole face lights up when she sees other kids.  With adults, she’s a shameless flirt, grinning and turning her face into our shoulders.   School has been so wonderful for developing this social side of her.  She just loves it.

The last update on the Lily front (for now) is that she was a very sick bunny for the last week.  Two Fridays ago, she woke up with a stuffy nose and gunky eyes (medical term, you see).  She seemed pretty unbothered by the whole thing until later than night when she screamed bloody murder for 30 minutes and then fell into an exhausted sleep.  Later, she woke up another three or four times, sobbing and clearly in pain.  She was hot to the touch, and I would try to nurse her, but she kept crying.  The only thing that would console her was standing up and rocking.  After waking up the second time, Joshua made a trip to Walgreens (at 2 AM) for a thermometer and baby Tylenol.  Good thing he looked up a “normal baby fever,” because I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t known that and seen a temperature of 103, I would have started sobbing and packing for a midnight trip to the ER.

Anyway, she was still within an ok range, so we just tried to make her as comfortable and possible for the next 24 hours.  She was feverish, very congested, listless, and very sleepy.  When we tried to give her baby Tylenol, she projectile vomited.  A direct way of saying, “thanks, but no thanks.”  On Sunday, her fever went down, but she was still sick, and on Monday, her fever went back up.  We went to the doctor and they diagnosed an ear infection in the right ear.

Thankfully, we had Monday off, and my Mom was able to move her flight back to Wednesday morning, so she stayed with Lily on Tuesday.  She seemed much better and her fever went down, but nights have still been a bit disrupted by uncomfortable ears and crying for the past week.  She still seems a little off her game (not quite as chipper as usual), but today she seems the best yet.  Unfortunately, she’s developed a bit of a post-nasal drip and a barking, phlegmy cough since Friday morning.  I’m hoping that this is actually a good sign – as in, this is just what happens when a baby finishes off being sick (?).

Me

As for me, things are going well.  Last year at this time I was just bursting with thankfulness and this year, I feel much the same.  It’s not that I need a holiday to feel thankful, but I think it’s very nice that we do have a holiday that makes us think about all the little blessings that make up a full life.  I am so lucky.  So blessed.  I live in a colorful home with a great man and a cute, happy baby.  Colorado is beautiful, and even if we get out to the mountains a little less now that we have an infant, I love walking by the Lake, walking up to the bakery for biscuits on a Sunday morning.

At work, I had my first formal evaluation for the year, and it was a very positive, productive meeting.  I feel more confident than ever in the classroom, and while there is still so much room for improvement, I feel lucky to have a job where growth is fostered and expected.  My students are smart and challenging, and I like and respect my coworkers.  As Joshua and I scheme about our future, I know that I want a professional change, but I also know that I’m very lucky to have a job that challenges me, allows me to engage with brilliant minds, and keeps me busy.  Joshua and I are both at a point where we know that we’ll be getting a Masters degree in Education in the next three to four years, but we have to figure out some logistics first, so we’ll keep you posted.

As for other pursuits, I take things as they come.  Hobbies are done in stolen moments.  I’ve begun a sea penny blanket (haven’t gotten that far, as you can see), and I made Lily a pair of wings for a little Halloween party at her school (not a great picture, but Joshua is a Swashbuckler/Austrian in Lederhosen, I’m Frida/Politically Incorrect “Woman  in a Foreign Port, and Lily is a Parrot – the other parents guessed Old World Peacock Trainers, so that works too).  Otherwise, I’ve been cooking and reading a bit.  Most recently, a couple of trashier romances and a couple of more interesting ones:  And She Was and My Name is Memory.  And She Was is seedy and dark and perplexing.  It’s set in grunge Unalaska and you might like it if you give it try.

In terms of health and exercise, things have been, shall we say, sub-par.  I’m still consistently running 4 to 6 days a week, but it’s less when things come up – like puking my brains out on Halloween with the 24 hour bug or this past week when I had this weird/terrible/horrible body seize where it felt like the fascia between my ribs had lost all elasticity and I couldn’t take a deep breath or twist or really even move.  I missed work on Halloween and lost about 5 lbs, and then this past week I sat through the last two classes of my day with tears in my eyes and then I skipped out on enrichment so I could go home with Lily and take a long, hot bath (which improved things immensely).  The next day, I was right as rain and thought I had kicked it, which was slightly surprising considering how absolutely shitastic I had been feeling not 12 hours before.  That was Wednesday night.  On Friday I was still feeling good, so I went for a run and then paid the price that night and most of Saturday.  I feel good today, so we went for a walk, but I’m not running again until I am certain that I’m all better.

Joshua has been sick for a month.  Shivers, fevers, pukers, poopers, sleepers.  Sicker ‘n Sick.

Family

We’ve been blessed to have a lot of family out recently and more on their way (literally – Nana and Grandpa Dave are on their way as I write).  First Hannah and then my Dad, Mandy, and Eamon.  With Hannah, we cooked lots of food, relaxed, and just hung out.  With Dad, Mandy, and Eamon, we went on a couple hikes in the Flatirons in Boulder and near Bierstadt, ate good food, and talked a lot (the Kuhnes are good at talking…   A lot 🙂 )  My mom came this past weekend, and although it wasn’t the most enjoyable weekend for her, we felt so lucky to have her when we were so sick.  Lily has never been sick before, so it was a little scary.  Having my mom and all of her homeo – natro – pathic remedies as well as her mad cooking skills was such a blessing.  Thanks mom!  We’ve loved the visits, and it’s funny, when we tell people about all the family visits they give us this loaded look and say, “so how was it?”  And it’s great, and we mean it.  We love having them here; we love sharing our families with Lily and Lily with our families.

Today, our little family went on a nice walk up to the bakery for breakfast.  We brought our biscuits to the park and ate them there, enjoying the sunshine and cool air.  We played in the park a bit, and then we nursed on the bench to enjoy the view.  I also took a bunch of photos over the weekend to post for posterity (there should be a pun there) and had some fun with filters and photoshop:

That’s all for now.  Hopefully I’ll get another post up this week for Thanksgiving, but if not before, have a wonderful, happy, and full holiday.  Love, Ellie.


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4 Month Update

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19 weeks, four and a half months.

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to write, and let’s face it, I don’t really have the time to write now, but with family so far away, this has to be a priority.  Also, we’re not very good at keeping a baby book, so this is it for Lily 🙂

Last Friday, I took Lily to her 4 month check up, and she was doing very well.  She’s dang tall:  26 inches and in the 98th percentile.  Her weight, 14 lbs and 4 oz, hovers in at 50th percentile, and her noggin’ is a growin’ (can’t remember the specs, but 75th percentile).  She got a few shots, she screamed, we went home to spend the rest of the day together.

Fridays have been a godsend.  They make the week – and my separation from her – bearable.

No major developements for Lily.  She’s fascinated by our food and grabs for our spoons.  She’s curious about what we’re drinking.  No solids yet.  She’s developed a love for her nuk when she’s tired or a little upset, and she’s the same happy, chill baby.  She drinks between 9 and 11 oz while I’m gone at work, and I pump about the same.  She wakes up with me at 6:45 AM, naps 3 to 4 times a day in her swing, and hates tummy time.  She’ nearly sitting up in her boppy, and she’s laughing occasionally (usually only for Daddy).  She’s grown out of most her 3 mo. clothing, and now she’s wearing mostly 6 mo. stuff.  She’s cute as a button, curious, and smiley.

Work has been good.  I feel like I’m getting better, and I already love my students.  Pumping isn’t too crazy of a hassle.  (The slow flow nipples for Lily’s bottles are keeping her interested in the real deal.)  Evenings after work are too short, and it’s hard to leave Lily to go for a short run, but I tell myself that I need to make time for exercise now or pay for it later 🙂  Still love co-sleeping.

Nana’s been taking care of Lily for the last three weeks while we’re at work, and she left last night to return to WI.  My mom, Mormor (grandma in Danish 🙂 ), is coming on Sunday to help us with the last two weeks before she starts childcare.  It’s been so nice to have our moms here to ease us into the swing of things 🙂

Okay, that’s all for now.  I’ve got too much to do!


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16 weeks

Can it be?  Lily is 16 weeks old.  A few notes:

  • Lily has spent 5 nights in a tent!
  • Lily’s longest hike has been 9 miles (we stopped to nurse twice).
  • Lily spends most of her hot summer days just in a diaper.  When she does wear clothing, we realize that she’s grown like a bean.  Her newborn and 0 – 3 month clothes are too small already!
  • Lily smiles the most in the morning.
  • Lily loves napping in her swing.
  • Lily LOVES reading ABC Zoo.  She says the peek-a-boo details are a metaphor for loss in biodiversity, and the variety of species are a commentary on the globalization of our ecosystems.  What a budding naturalist.
  • Lily isn’t laughing all the time yet, but she has let out a few giggles and squeals.  It is the single most wonderful sound I have ever heard.
  • Lily is teething.  Although she hasn’t been particularly upset, she does drool and chew on her hand quite a bit.
  • Not that interested in her nookie, but it does help when she’s upset in her carseat.
  • Not the biggest fan of car rides.
  • Loves singing and dancing.
  • Loves being outside.
  • Has had the juice of a peach, cherries, and watermelon.  She LOVED all of it, but we’ve decided to hold off on juices and foods until she’s a little older.  We don’t want her going off breast milk 🙂
  • Loves baths, but has a perpetual dirt necklace.
  • Loves swimming.
  • Hair is definitely not the platinum blonde that we might have expected.  In fact, we detect a little strawberry 🙂
  • Sticking EVERYTHING in her mouth already.
  • Wide-eyed and alert.
  • I’m pretty sure she nurses most of the night.  I wake up, she’s nursing.  I fall asleep, she’s nursing.  Joshua looks over, she’s nursing.
  • We put away the TV a few weeks ago, but we’ve taken it out for the duration of the Olympics.  Although Lily has hardly had any exposure to the screen it entrances her.

On another note, I have returned to work.  I feel blessed to have been able to spend 16 uninterrupted weeks with our baby girl, and the time has allowed to bond, figure out nursing, and enjoy one another in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible if I had had to return to work after 6 weeks.  It’s been hard to come to terms with this new adjustment, and I’m sure it will continue to be difficult, but there are a few things that make this transition bearable:

1.  I was blessed to have nearly four months with Lily.

2.  Lily will start child care on September 5, but until then, she’s getting quality time with her Nana and then her Grandma.

3.  I like my job.  I think it’s worthwhile work.

4.  I only work four days a week!

5.  Whenever I feel insecure, Joshua reassures me that Lily loves me and she knows that I love her.

6.  I get to sleep next to Lily every night.

Our first day away was ok, and I had way too much fun selecting an outfit.  Pumping was a bit of a hassle, but I think I’ve decided on a schedule of three times for 10 minutes each.  Since I’m usually gone for just shy of 10 hours, that gives me just a little over 3 hours between pumpings.  I got 9 oz, which wasn’t a lot, but I can also pump in the morning and evening and get an extra 3 oz.  On my three day weekends, I’ll keep pumping.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to piece together 14 oz. a day for Lily.  I SO wish I was one of those women who could pump 10 oz. in one go.  To make the transition for Lily a bit easier, I researched the slowest flow bottle out there (so she doesn’t start to hate nursing) and found that most people think the Playtex drop-ins slow flow are the slowest.  Hopefully, it works!  Nursing was so rocky at first, but now that we have the hang of it, I would hate for us to meet an insurmountable obstacle.  At the moment, mothering and nursing feel almost interchangeable, so the possibility of loosing one feels pretty scary to me.  My goal is to continue for at least a year, so send positive vibes my way 🙂


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Food to Die For (and other gastrointestinal misadventures…)

Joshua started referring to me as “boobs” very early on.  In fact, I believe it was our first night in the hospital.  Lily wanted to feed all night long, and Joshua and I learned for the first time who was in charge.  Not us.  Not any more.  So, after my very long labor, I had a very long night, and let’s be real:  I had a very long couple of weeks, and really, since I haven’t slept for longer than four hours since April 3rd, I’ve had a very long couple of months.  Anyway, I digress.

Joshua started calling me “boobs,” because essentially, that is my primary duty.  I supply food for Lily on call, 24 hours a day.  While this new found role could conjure up metaphors to livestock, I have decided to take matters into my own hands.  No.  I am not a cow.  My baby’s first word will not be boob, mistaking me for my most vital body part.  Instead, I have decided to name one life-sustaining organ champagne and the other cheesecake.  Yup.  When Lily goes all fussy over one side, I say, “oh, are we not interested in cheesecake today?  Shall we have a little more champagne?”  When Lily spits up, I call it cheesecake.  When she wets her diaper, I call it champagne.  I ask you, at this juncture, to recall that I have not slept for more than four hours since April 3rd.  I also ask you to consider how funny it would be if Lily’s first words were champagne and cheesecake.

Anyway, not too long after I started referring to the mammaries as champagne and cheesecake, most of the people around me began to crave champagne and cheesecake.  No.  Not our mother’s milk, but the real thing.  After Elephant Rock on Sunday, Stacy and I resolved to make a cheesecake for ourselves, and – because the pairing does seem both decadent and fitting – we decided to enjoy our dessert with a bit of champagne.

So here’s where the title of this post comes into play.  Having misplaced her springform in the move, Stacy purchased another from Target.  Divesting the apparatus of its packaging, she reads aloud the warning, “keep birds and other small animals away from the oven while in use.  The respiratory systems of birds are sensitive to the fumes released from non-stick surfaces at high temperatures.”  Excellent.  As if cheesecake wasn’t already deadly enough.

In a similar vein, Joshua purchased the ingredients for pancakes this past week and woke up early one morning to satiate his craving.  Lily and I padded into the living room just as Joshua finished the batter, and we kept him company as he flipped pancakes.  As usual, however, Joshua is multi-tasking, and as he leaves the room to change the laundry around, we hear and I see an explosion come from the stove-top.  Glass shards shoot across the kitchen floor and leave a glittering mess in their wake.  Joshua jogs onto the scene, uttering choice profanities.  He’d accidentally turned on the front burner and set a Pyrex dish full of finished pancakes on top.

Joshua turns off the stove and cleans up.  He tries to salvage the finished pancakes, but bits of glass have embedded themselves in the cakes.  In the trash they go, and Joshua fries up the last of the batter.  Luckily, the remainder yields two pancakes – one for him and one for me.  We sit down with Maple Syrup and Butter, as well as a juice/shake concoction Joshua has blended up with kale and blueberries (yum…).  I’ve eaten two bites when Joshua yelps, “STOP!”

He spits out a shard of the glass the size of a quarter.  We conclude that the batter was contaminated.  Joshua picks up his pancake, throws it at the wall and yells another choice expletive.  I leave the room as he gets up to get a wet rag to clean up his little temper tantrum, and I whisper-talk into Lily’s ear, “Daddy makes some killer pancakes.”  We both snicker, and Joshua can’t help but smile.


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Six Week Update

Hen’s Data (counting chickens, if you will)

Weight : 9 pounds 8 ounces – Of course, this data is SUPER reliable.  We used an A family heirloom, a vintage table scale, to take this measurement.  However, I think it just might be accurate, because when we tested it with a 5 pound barbell, it read – viola! – 5 pounds on the dot.  Regardless, I’m underestimating.  The scale actually read 9 and 3/4 pounds.

Height : 24 inches – This little lady is seriously tall.

Nights : Sleeps for one 4 hour stretch – Hen seems like she wants to feed from about 7 PM to 10 or 11 PM, with only a couple 30 minute breaks tossed in.  Once she’s finished, she usually sleeps for about 4 hours (at least for the last couple of weeks or so).  We’ll get up (she’s not a fan of doing any serious feeding in bed), she’ll feed for 40 minutes, wet her diaper three times, and then we’ll go back to bed for another 2 and a half hours (three hours on two lucky occasions).

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