Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby Smiles

7 weeks old
Somebody has a new skill!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kids Do the Darndest Things

Today's kiddo moment is from the archives so to speak...I wasn't blogging yet when Wolf was doing goofy toddler/preschooler things, but he was as amusing as Bear has ever been (even though he hasn't gotten as much print space), so this post is devoted to him.

When Wolf was about 4, there was some kind of disturbance up the street that involved a police car being parked in front of the house for an hour or so. Wolf was fascinated of course (he was in the "I want to be a policeman when I grow up" stage). He and daddy stood outside for a while and looked over at the car and talked about how police officers help keep us safe. A little later that evening as Wolf was saying his prayers at bedtime, I heard the following from his room:
"Thank you for policemen, for keeping us safe, and for helping us...BJOOOOO! BJOOOO! BJOOOO!"
[yes, he was making shooting noises mid-prayer!]
Daddy had been sitting with him as he prayed, and he told me afterward that it was all he could do to not laugh out loud...but thankfully he kept his cool and Wolf went on to finish his prayer without realizing just how much he'd entertained his parents.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Comment Issues

A long time ago I disabled anonymous comments on this blog because I find it annoying for someone to say something without telling who they are...I mean either own up to your comment or keep your mouth shut, you know? However not everyone has a google account, so some people (nice people) who wanted to comment were unable to do so. So a couple of weeks ago I switched the setting to allow anonymous comments, but just added a note saying that if you use that setting please indicate who you are.
I have never seen so much spam in my life. Fully half the comments I have gotten in the last two weeks has been spam (some of it isn't even in English, good grief!). No way is this going to continue.
So I have essentially two options: return to the "no anonymous comments" setting, or activate the word verification. Now I really hate word verification--I just think it's a pain--so I've never had it and never wanted to have it...however maybe it's the lesser of two evils in this case. I don't know. What do you think?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Facebook Weekend (holiday edition)

Jenni and the kids just got back from the dough has chilled (and so have we!) so we're making Christmas cookies!

Happy 6th Anniversary to me!

Winter Solstice
Here comes the sun little darlin'...and the Son too. I love this season of celebrating light from many sources.
See my posts Season of Light and Celebrating Solstice
...FOUND THE DPNS!!! They were under the couch

...finished sewing the kids' christmas eve jammies...they're wrapped and under the tree. :)
...really really really really really dislikes knitting with DPNs (double pointed needles). But this sleeve is at an awkward size right now where it's too big to magic loop it on my 40" circulars and too small to use my 16" DPNs it is... *sigh*

(This week Wednesday was the off-computer day)

... is hoping that the last two packages of presents (one from each grandma) arrive today...both were mailed early, but somehow neither one has made it here yet.
(they did make it, whew!)
...finds it a little depressing that so many people have switched to digital holiday greetings (or ditched them altogether). I'm usually all in favor of going green, but once a year I want to see all those cards/pictures taped up on my wall. It makes me feel loved...and when I look at my wall on Christmas eve and see only 7 cards, well, WTHeck people?!

...loves seeing the kids' eyes light up when they get something perfect...or give it.

Merry CHRISTmas folks. ☺

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Grinchy Musings

I like Christmas, I really do. But after a whole month of love and light I confess I definitely have my moments of relating to Scrooge or the Grinch. Of course, the best things about those characters is that in the end they learn to love, and they cease to be "Scroogelike" and "Grinchy" respectively...but for the moment (in lighthearted fun of course) I thought I'd share a few of my Grinchier holiday thoughts:
(did I just make up that word, grinchier? hmm, nice!)

  • All the twinkle lights shining on my tree, window, and front porch stairs are a little less lovely when I consider how they will shine through my electric bill next month.
  • I hate people spending money they don't have for stuff they don't need. The only thing that's worse is people spending money (whether they have it or not) to give me stuff that I don't need/have nowhere to put.
  • Really bad commercials. Need I say more? (Of course there are a few funny ones too, like this one, or this one.)
  • Some of the worst "traditional, must-see movies" seem to be official holiday fare. It's often difficult to escape...even if I manage to avoid seeing the actual film (which I usually do), I frequently have to hear it mentioned or even quoted, and then come the memories...and the pain...
  • Ditto on some of the worst songs ever...(and I'm not the only one who thinks so!) oh, excuse me, did you just say "snow" or "bell" or "winter" or "santa" or "tree" in that lame love song? Well, nobody would listen to it otherwise, but we'll call it a Christmas Song and give it airtime anyway! (everybody pardon me while I go barf for a minute).
  • Having a newborn baby is a good excuse to not take goody plates to anyone else this year...and to eat more than my share of the goodies on the plates that are brought to us. (Hey, I need those extra 1000 calories a day for the nursling, I'm required to eat them, I have to get them in wherever I can!)
  • It's a bit lame that some of the best foods are somehow 'reserved' for Christmas. Who decided that anyway? Can I take my post-pregnancy hormonal self on a little shooting spree in said persons' vicinity? I mean, really, we should eat homemade truffles and cardamom bread and peppermint pie all year long. Duh.
  • It seems to be a law of the universe that my biggest sewing/knitting failures (you know, the "EPIC FAIL" ones) always happen when I'm trying to work too fast to get something finished up in time to slip it under the tree...Nothing stresses me out like a project on a timeline gone horribly horribly wrong.
  • And finally, I get grinchy over the growing trend of not bothering to send holiday greeting cards/letters/photos (or with going digital--yes, this may be the only anti-green sentiment you ever hear from me, write it down someplace quick!). I know stamps are expensive (I have three international addresses on my list--that's 98cents now!) I know not everybody has the time or money every year...but really truly I think the thought counts for something, and I like hearing from people and seeing all those pretty cards taped up on the wall.
So Merry Christmas! You survived another year, and if you eat enough sugar cookies in the next few days you will probably survive the next one. Probably. (You may have to jumpstart with another batch of cookies around Valentines or Easter.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Just Call me Elastigirl

After our family saw “The Incredibles” in the theater we were talking about the movie, and someone commented that Elastigirl’s powers had a nice side-benefit when it came to the childbirth department. After all, she can streeeeeetch with ease!

As I mentioned in the birth story, after Eagle’s birth (with his big head, nuchal hand, stuck shoulders, and even the midwife’s hands in there with him working him loose) my midwife anticipated that I would have torn a lot and that she would have “a big sewing job.” Although I had not thought about it at all as I was actually giving birth, as soon as she mentioned it I realized that, since I’d had 5 stitches after Bear (who was smaller), I probably did need some stitching up. And yet, as you know if you’ve read the story, I didn’t have any tearing at all. Not even one of the tiny tears commonly referred to as a “skidmark.” I have spent some time pondering over why this was.
I don’t know the answers of course, but I thought I would share some of my speculations, and perhaps they will be helpful for others mamas preparing for birth.

Belief in the possible
In her book “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth,” Ina May Gaskin tells the story of a first time mom who was nervous about labor and how a baby could fit through. Ina May taught her the physiology of birth, and explained “you’re going to get huge.” During labor Ina May noted that this woman dilated well and had plenty of room for her large baby to come through. Afterward she congratulated the new mother, who said, “I just repeated that mantra you told me ‘you’re going to get huge.’” Perhaps it’s a little easier to believe in your body’s stretchiness if you’ve done it before, or if you’ve seen it happen (especially in person). Perhaps simple affirmations are sufficient. In any case, I believe that a genuine belief that my body could do this—was made to be able to stretch this way without incurring damage—was an integral part of its doing so.

Fear --> Tension --> Pain...or not

If you have read any natural childbirth books then you are almost certainly familiar with the concept of the “fear-tension-pain cycle,” which states that a woman who feels fear will tense up, being tense (rather than relaxed) will make her pain more intense, and of course intense pain will increase her fear. The solution then is to break the cycle—many methods promote relaxation with the idea of breaking the cycle at the ‘tension’ point, but what if you could break the cycle at ‘fear’? If a woman can go into labor feeling comfort and love and support rather than fear, might not that reduce (or remove) the tension and thus the pain? In my experience, yes it can. It’s not that labor wasn’t intense (it was) or even hard (parts of it were), but I felt sufficiently comfortable with my environment and supporting team that I felt no fear, and felt no tension, and (depending I guess on your definition of the word) felt no pain. I’m not saying it was an orgasmic birth—it wasn’t—but it was genuinely fearless, and thus my body was loose and able to stretch as far as it needed to.
Fearless labor and birth may sound lovely but figuring out how to actually do it is another question of course. I think that being able to choose a birthing location and provider that made me comfortable was vital. I happened to choose to be at home with a hands-off midwife, but I don’t believe that there is a universal ideal: some women will be most comfortable with a hospital setting and OB, some will want to be alone in the woods. The people present at the birthing matter too. Many women want to have their mother and/or spouse present, but some do not. Some invite a friend or sister or hire a doula or have their other children there. Many women feel safer and more relaxed with low light, music, massage, water, or aromatherapy. The point is not to do any one certain thing, but rather to know yourself well enough to choose what makes you feel safe and comfortable.

Gentle, supported birthing
Gentle birthing in the physical sense means that the baby is able to descend gently through the birth canal and vaginal opening. When the mother is coached in “purple pushing’ (the chin-to-chest-and-hold-your-breath-while-we-count-to-ten kind of pushing) the results tend to be not so gentle. At a postpartum visit my midwife commented that I had brought him down very gently, which I think is accurate, but I can honestly say that I wasn’t doing it consciously; I was just going with instinct. Some labor techniques talk about “breathing the baby down” rather than pushing, and I can say that that is definitely not what I did. I pushed and I pushed hard. I put my chin on my chest. I probably even held my breath a little—though if I did it was of my own volition and not because I was told to do so. BUT I pushed when I felt the urge and not when I didn’t. I let the baby come down, then retreat a little, then come down some more, then another small retreat…two steps forward, one step back. That back and forth motion helps things stretch more gradually and therefore more gently. I knew he was coming, and while I was eager to have him out, I also knew that he WAS coming and that there wasn’t a point in trying to force him to come any faster. Basically I just went with the flow.
When I say ‘supported’ I mean it in two ways: first, the emotional support that comes from having the right people (and none of the wrong people) present. I already went into that. Second, the physical support of the vaginal opening as the baby (especially the head or presenting part) emerges. Most providers who promote natural birth will use their hand(s) to put gentle pressure on the perineum, however when Eagle was crowning there was more than one set of hands supporting me. I know her hands were there, and I believe Hubby’s were too, and I instinctively reached down as well, so I was supported all the way around rather than just at the back. Since tearing can occur in any direction, I think that the all-around support definitely helped. I’m glad that my environment and birth team were comfortable enough that I was able to be uninhibited enough to do that.

The final thing that I think contributed to my stretching rather than tearing is that I labored and birthed in warm water. The warmth during labor definitely helped my body relax, and as I explained already being relaxed and loose increases stretchiness. I think that the water also provided some gentle lubrication for the baby as he came down the canal. We all know that a little lube can facilitate and increase the comfort of other vaginal activities, and I don’t see why birth should be any different. Many midwives use KY Jelly or olive oil on the perineum during birth, but being immersed in water provides a more, shall we say, complete lubrication.
For what it’s worth, while I loved birthing in water and hope to do it that way in the future, not everyone likes waterbirth, and many providers do not allow it. Don’t for a moment think that delivering “on land” precludes a tear-free-birth. Water is just one contributor of many, and it is my belief that while all of them may help, probably any of them is sufficient.

So there you have it: my thoughts on why I didn’t tear during Eagle’s birth (and why I did with Bear’s). I’m interested to hear your thoughts (or experiences) as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Inspiration

Never let a problem
to be solved
become more important
than a person
to be loved.

~Thomas S Monson

Happy 6th Anniversary to me and Hubby!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Facebook Friday

Saturday 12/12
Jenni has a houseful of sickies :(

Sunday 12/13
... got the tree up and decorated and put a few presents under it... Bear immediately wanted to open one. He's young enough that he didn't remember the difference between "Christmas time" and "Christmas Day" and he was pretty disappointed. Oh well, I guess it's good we got the tree late this year--even Wolf says now that now it's up he can't wait.

Monday 12/14
... has to frog almost half of the body of a sweater because the stranding pulled too tight. So much for being able to give Wolf the sweater for Christmas :( I can't even look at it right now...I gotta go a sleeve or two before I can think about that body again.

The word is that as of today, Facebook will automatically index all your info on Google, which allows everyone to view it. To change this option, go to Settings --> Privacy Settings --> Search --> then UN-CLICK the box that says 'Allow indexing'. Facebook kept this one quiet. (I went to do it and mine was not checked,... but some of my friends' have been, so it's worth taking a second to make sure!!)

Tuesday 12/15
...has dealt with altogether too much snot in the last few days

Wednesday 12/16
...was letting the toddler play with my biggest DPNs (metal 7s) while I knitted last night, and now I need them and can't find 2 of the 5. I have a sneaking suspicion they may be in the Christmas tree...

Thursday 12/17
...needs more hours in the day...or at least, more hours in which children are sleeping and/or no one is screaming

Further notice of changes for Facebook: If you don't know, as of today, Facebook will automatically start plunging the Earth into the Sun. To change this option, go to Settings --> Planetary Settings --> Trajectory then UN-CLICK the box that says 'Apocalypse.' Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see.
KS--I tried that and got an error message reading "Resistance is futile."

...has the coolest midwife
She has a headlamp that she uses at births (so mama can have the lights off but midwife can still see). When she got hers out Wolf got his out, so Bear wanted one too and borrowed daddy's...fastforward a couple of weeks and we can't find daddy's headlamp anywhere. We finally hit on the idea that it might have ended up in midwife's birth stuff...
It took me several days to remember to call her, and when I did I just got the voicemail so I left a message. A couple of days later I had an appointment with her but we both forgot about the headlamp. A couple of days ago I called her again--another message. I knew she was heading out of town for the holidays and thought maybe I'd missed her. Tonight she called me back--FROM VACATION!!--yep, the headlamp was in her bag, she found it at a birth which was literally hours before she left on her trip, BUT she took the time to take the headlamp to her office so I can pick it up even though she's gone for three weeks.
See, she's cool. :)

Friday 12/18
...loves the way all the snow looks

...knows too many people with birthdays today, therefore nobody will get a personalized "happy birthday" and everyone will have to be content with a general shoutout.

...SO MANY URGENT FACEBOOK UPDATES!! Starting today, Facebook will be sending out Stormtroopers to do a search for two stolen droids. To ensure they do not expose your properties, go to Settings -> Jedi Mind Tricks. Select the box labeled "These are not the droids you are looking for." Copy this to your status and warn your friends!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just a little thing... of these days I really want to meet some of these people who comment on my blog all the time, and those whose blogs I read.
Or the people with whom I so often chat (and feel I know so well) in forums or email groups.
My husband doesn't make fun of me for having more friends online than in person--after all, we met online!
But it would be nice to meet you all in person anyway...just because, well, it's more personal.

So who wants to take a vacation to Alaska in 2010?! We've got world-class fishing, spectacular views, and me!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Checking in on my 2009 Goals

In January I listed a few goals for myself for the year, so I thought I'd check in and see how I did with them...

I got off to a really good start on all my etsy-oriented ones, although I didn't maintain them very well through the move (sewing machine in storage + all materials in storage = not a lot of sewing/listing going on for a few months there!) plus the end of the pregnancy and newborn stage are not great times for focusing on my shop either. In the early months though I did keep up with the sewing/listing things every week as planned, and introduced a couple of new products (just not 6 as I'd hoped.) BUT even through the summer downtime, I didn't let the shop entirely die, I didn't spend anything on new materials, I did get a lot of new things sewn/listed/sold, and all in all I'm happy about it.

As for my personal goals:

Pay off credit card
Unfortunately moving was expensive enough that we didn't quite get the thing paid off (had to use it again to get through the paycheck gap) but we made a LOT of progress, so I can't feel too badly about it. Come tax return time I hope to finally get the last bit paid off. (Another kid = another deduction, so that will help!!)

Knit a sweater for Wolf
I've made a lot of progress...I was up to the shoulders (just needed to do the sleeves) but it's a stranded sweater and I discovered that some of my stranding had pulled too tight so I'm having to frog (undo) almost half of the body...I could just cry. I had high hopes of getting it done for Christmas, but I tried the body on Wolf and it's pretty snug and I know it wouldn't fit him long if I don't redo that stranding. So I'm redoing it, and I guess it won't be his Christmas present after all. But if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right. I'm dozens of hours into this project, and I would hate to finish it and have him not be able to wear it...better to back up and fix it now. *sigh*
026 025
(see how pulled it is through the ships?At least the lower stranding is ok!)

Get pregnant ☺
I'd say this one went pretty well. I actually did it twice, and managed to do so early enough to see the results within the year as well!

Spend less time on the internet
This has its ups and downs. Sometimes I do really well, sometimes not so well...but I have gotten back to reading more which has me off the computer, and with an additional kid in the house that keeps me busier too. I have designated Tuesdays as my no-net (no-computer) day, so I'm trying to be really good about that. Three weeks down so far...

Get Bear night-weaned and sleeping through the night
Well, he's weaned...some nights he sleeps through the night but not all the time yet. It's a work in process I suppose, and one of these days he'll get it down!
Here's a bonus though--he's learned to use the potty, and does so quite independently! Well, except for the part about putting clothing back on after he's pulled it off to go...but you can't have everything, right?!

Be supportive of my Hubby in his weight loss goal by providing appropriate and helpful foods (and not too many unhelpful ones!)
I wasn't perfect, but I think I stuck to my end of it pretty well. He got off to a great start but over the summer things kinda petered out and it took a while for him to get up and going again...however there's visible progress, and here's to continued progress in the coming year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We put our tree up over the weekend. I realize that for some people getting the tree up on the 11th of December is early, but for a girl who grew up getting the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving (yes, some years we even had it decorated before December 1), the 11th feels terribly late. I don't feel Christmassy until the tree is up, and since it's one of my favorite seasons, I like getting the tree up sooner rather than later!

It's a far cry from last year's flat tree, don't you think?!

Both boys seem to feel the need to get up close and personal with the tree...
Bear wanted to open a present right away, and was a bit bewildered when we explained that "Christmastime" is not the same as "Christmas Day."
Wolf said that now that the tree is up he is having a much harder time waiting for Christmas.

I mentioned last year that we have a tradition surrounding our ornaments--we each have a personalized ornament, and then we have (or are collecting) ornaments from each country where our ancestors are from. So this year, since I am actually in the same state with my ornaments, I thought I'd share some pictures (did you know that it's really hard to get a decent photo of a christmas tree ornament? They sway too much to use the slow-shutter that is on the light-filter setting, but the coloring comes out very yellow with the rapid-shutter setting...)

"Our First Christmas" (there's a little metal tag on the top that says "2003") Waterford Crystal from Ireland (a gift when we were engaged--our wedding was just a few days before Christmas).

Wolf (angel) and Bear (bear). They look funny cuz I used the paint program to cover their names to post the photos here... both ornaments were purchased when the boy was a baby. No, we don't have one for Eagle yet. I'm inclined to go out after Christmas and find one on sale--is that bad of me?!

I got angel ornaments for my angel babies--the bear for Thomas, the ball for Kjersti (it has l.e.d. lights so the angel changes color...)

Mine (my parents got it for me when I was little) and Hubby's--no, his doesn't have his name on it, but his ornament also happens to double as our Norway ornament...

wood shaving star ~ Germany
straw goat ~ Finland
(wooden) heart basket ~ Denmark

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eight Days of Hanukkah

(read the NYT article first, it makes it all make sense)

A Senator’s Gift to the Jews, Nonreturnable
Published: December 8, 2009

WASHINGTON — The canon of Hanukkah songs written by Mormon senators from Utah just got a little bigger.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a solemn-faced Republican with a soft spot for Jews and a love of Barbra Streisand, has penned a catchy holiday tune, “Eight Days of Hanukkah.”
The video was posted Tuesday night on Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish lifestyle and culture, just in time for Hanukkah.
Known around the Senate as a prolific writer of Christian hymns and patriotic melodies, Mr. Hatch, 75, said this was his first venture into Jewish music. It will not be his last.
“Anything I can do for the Jewish people, I will do,” Mr. Hatch said in an interview before heading to the Senate floor to debate an abortion amendment. “Mormons believe the Jewish people are the chosen people, just like the Old Testament says.”
In short, he loves the Jews. And based on an early sampling of listeners, the feeling could be mutual.
“Watching Orrin Hatch in the studio, I said to myself that nothing this great will ever happen to me again,” said Alana Newhouse, the editor-in-chief of Tablet.
Set against a bouncy synthesizer beat, the song begins:
“Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah,
The festival of light/
In Jerusalem,
The oil burned bright.”

Adding to the project’s only-in-America mishmash is that the song is performed by Rasheeda Azar, a Syrian-American vocalist from Indiana. But Mr. Hatch is the song’s unquestioned prime mover, or macher. He is featured in the video, sitting stoic in the studio, head bobbing slightly, donning earphones and contributing backup vocals.
The song’s contagious refrain goes:
“Eight days of Hanukkah,
Come let’s celebrate.
Eight days of Hanukkah,
Let’s celebrate tonight, Hey!”

At one point, Mr. Hatch unbuttons his white dress shirt to expose the golden mezuzah necklace he wears every day. Mezuzahs also adorn the doorways of his homes in Washington and Utah. Mr. Hatch keeps a Torah in his Senate office.
“Not a real Torah, but sort of a mock Torah,” he said. “I feel sorry I’m not Jewish sometimes.”
The genesis of “Eight Days of Hanukkah” came a decade ago. Mr. Hatch was considering a run for the presidency in the campaign eventually won by George W. Bush (Mr. Hatch wound up writing a song for Mr. Bush’s second inaugural, titled “Heal Our Land”). He was discussing his love of songwriting with the writer Jeffrey Goldberg, a well-known mensch-about-town in Washington with a longtime grievance against “the general lameness of Hanukkah music.” (As a columnist for The Jerusalem Post years earlier, Mr. Goldberg had organized a “write-a-new-song-for-Hanukkah contest” that attracted 200 entries, most of them — in his estimation — “dreck.”)
He asked Mr. Hatch if he would write a Hanukkah song. The senator said he would, but never did.
Mr. Goldberg, who now writes for The Atlantic, mentioned the decade-old promise in his blog last year a few days before Christmas. A day later, Mr. Hatch sent him an apologetic e-mail message that included the first five stanzas of “Eight Days of Hanukkah.”
“I am willing to serve as a Semitic song muse for any United States senator,” Mr. Goldberg said. “God forbid any of the Jewish senators write a Hanukkah song.”
Mr. Hatch enlisted his collaborator, Madeline Stone, a Jewish songwriter from the Upper West Side of Manhattan who specializes in Christian music. “I’m a pretty liberal Democrat,” Ms. Stone said. “But it became more about the music and the friendship for me and Orrin.”
The song was recorded in October at a studio in Manhattan.
Mr. Hatch speaks of “Eight Days of Hanukkah” as a gift to the Jewish people. “This song means more to me than most of the songs I have ever written,” he said. “People need to know the story of Hanukkah. It was a miracle.”
He said his ultimate goal would be for his idol, Ms. Streisand, to perform one of his songs. “It would be good for her and good for me,” Mr. Hatch said, while acknowledging that given her outspoken liberalism, that union might require another miracle.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

And it came to pass...

  1. ... that on the twelfth day of the eleventh month the woman did bring forth a son.
  2. And she did bring him to her breast, and he did suckle.
  3. On the third day her milk did come in, and she was full unto leaking, and the child did nurse and was glad.
  4. And the mother was full, and did pump, and leak, and nurse, and leak, and nurse, and leak again.
  5. And the child did grow ten ounces in eleven days.
  6. And the mother was glad for good bras and washable nursing pads and olive oil and water bottles and the smell of the baby's milk breath.
  7. And at four weeks of age the child was found to weigh two pounds and one ounce more than at the time of his birth.
  8. And thus we see that mama milk is not nearly so thin as it appeareth!

(yeah, still got that hand by his head...all the time!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Facebook Friday

Sunday 12/6
Jenni is makin sweet pumpkin pie, and having friends over for pizza night!

Monday 12/7
...made three etsy sales over the weekend. YAY!!!!! Now I can finish the christmas shopping :D

Wednesday 12/9
Jenni 's sister is in town. Yay for somebody to play with kids so I can attempt to finish knitting Wolf's sweater before Christmas!!
... is cookin cardamom bread. Mmmm, smells like Christmastime!

Thursday 12/10
...just bought the flannel for the kids' christmas jammy pants...instead of all of them matching, this year I found fabrics with wolves, bears and eagles for my Wolf, Bear, and Eagle respectively!
...just discovered that the envelopes that came with the photo cards are 8 inches wide...and of course the Christmas letter is 8.5 inches wide...but I had already addressed most of the envelopes, so I'm trimming letters. *sigh* Thank heaven we left wide margins!!
(the family christmas last year's matching jammy pants...
yeah, I used the last little scraps to make a matching diaper for Eagle ☺)

Friday 12/11 finally wrapping some presents. I've had a growing pile of boxes holding (unwrapped) presents in my room, but we didn't have a tree to put them under yet...well, Hubby has promised to take the (bigger) boys tomorrow and go into the wilderness and bring me home a tree.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Babies (the movie)

I just saw this posted over at Stand and Deliver, and I definitely want to see it. It's a documentary (coming this spring) which follows four babies through their first year of life: Ponijao (in Namibia), Mari (in Tokyo), Bayer (in Mongolia), and Hattie (in San Francisco). The site says that the film "joyfully captures on film the earliest stages of the journey of humanity that are at once unique and universal to us all."

(If the trailer doesn't work for you, you can see it at the movie site)

Based on the trailer I think it will be interesting to note the different cultural habits (birth practices, breastfeeding, babywearing, etc) and their differing effects on the kids. After all, I've chosen some "non-mainstream" things (non-mainstream in the USA at least) because I believe they are the best things for my kids and family. However I'm curious to observe those behaviors in cultures where they are mainstream (for example extended breastfeeding is standard in Mongolia).

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Greatest Gift I Ever Got

This summer my dad's family had a big reunion. My dad had put together an activity that involved asking questions (and collecting answers) from his parents and all his siblings, and then putting the unlabeled answers on a page and everyone trying to guess who had given which answer.
One of the questions was "What was the best gift you ever received from a family member?" Answers were varied of course, but of 9 responses, only two or three were purchased items. All the others were handmade or were actions instead of things, including "the letter I got from the kids on fathers day," "green needle-point diaper bag," "visits to my home," and "my better half." Great gifts are just not about the money.
They never have been.

When one of my brothers was about 6 or 7 he was given a little plastic marble run. It had about 20 pieces of track and a few connectors and a half dozen marbles. I'm sure it was not terribly expensive, but he enjoyed it. As the years passed, of course, he outgrew it. It sat on his shelf collecting dust until one year he decided to give it to our younger brother--who was then 6 or 7 himself. The younger brother also got several years of enjoyment out of it before it ended up on a back shelf. Two years ago my oldest son (age 7!) had expressed interest in a marble run, but we had been unable to find one we could afford. I happened to mention it to my then-teenage brother, and he said "I have one, it's getting old, but I would love to give it to him if you think he would like it..." So my brother passed the marble run along to my son, and yet another little boy found hours of amusement in this simple toy. Now Wolf is more interested in other things, and while he has not formally given the marble run to Bear, it is Bear who now plays with it almost daily. Some of the pieces are cracking, but the marbles run down the tracks as well as they ever did (and as loudly as they ever did too). ☺

Often we get caught up with the notion that a gift must be something purchased, something new, something fancy or hot-off-the-presses. The truth is that the best gifts are often things that are tried and true and yes, often used. When Wolf turned 7 we had gone to the trouble to get a somewhat expensive but (we thought) very exciting birthday gift for him. He was thrilled with it...until two minutes later when he opened something that Hubby had decided to wrap up at the last minute: a big baggie full of his 20-year-old plastic army men. Guess which toy has seen the most playtime?!

I remember one year when I was in my early teens and my little brother was 2 or 3. He was just learning about giving, and in the excitement of the holiday, as we watched the pile of gifts under the tree grow, he started asking for help wrapping up this or that to give to other family members. By the time Christmas Day rolled around he had a virtually empty toy box because he had wrapped almost every one of his toys (certainly all his favorites) to give to all of us. Of course none of us particularly wanted little teddy bears or trucks, but when we tried to sneak them back into his toy box he would get them out and bring them back to us "I gave this to you!" he'd announce. He missed his toys, but he really wanted to give to the people he loved. This is the kind of attitude that we hope to cultivate with our children. (Luckily for this little brother, his birthday was less than a month after Christmas, and we were able to wrap up all his toys and give them all back to him. He was very happy to have his favorite things back. ☺)

Since we've established our new Christmas gifting plan, I have been talking with the boys about what they want to give to the other family members (daddy will help them figure out things for me, but I tend to head up the gifts for everyone else--writing the wish lists and coordinating with grandmas--so I'm helping them with most gifts). I was talking with Bear one night, asking him what kinds of things he liked to play with, and he mentioned that he really liked "the blue lego motorcycle" (it's Wolf's, but Bear plays with it a lot). From the other side of the room I heard "ooooooo!" from Wolf...later, when I was talking with Wolf, he said "I think I will give Bear that blue motorcycle, and a guy to go on it."
I asked Wolf if he'd prefer to buy something for Bear (I'm subsidizing, so he certainly could). He said he'd rather give the blue motorcycle. That blue motorcycle is missing one of the handlebars, and it's nothing like new. In fact, it was my blue motorcycle loooong ago (I passed my bucket of legos along to Wolf a couple of years ago). The mainstream world would probably look upon that blue motorcycle as a poor gift indeed...but I think that Bear is going to love it.

What is the greatest gift I ever got? I'm not sure, but I don't think it was something off my wish list. Of course I appreciate getting things I need or want, but it's usually the things that weren't on my list that are the most touching. It might be the co-sleeper that Hubby built for me (since we couldn't afford to buy one and couldn't fit the crib beside the bed in our small bedroom). It might be the framed, hand-written note from my then-teenage sister "sisters by nature ~ friends by choice." Perhaps the plug-in l.e.d. nightlight of praying hands that my brother gave to me in college, and which now lights my children's bedroom, or my favorite candy bar (from that same brother) when we were both too little to afford anything bigger. Maybe it's the phrase my husband had engraved on the inside of my wedding ring (which was free at the store where we bought the rings). Maybe it's my mother's ring, which admittedly did cost some money, but has far more value in sentiment than in dollars. I still think the greatest gift I've ever given was the group gift my siblings gave to my parents two years ago. It also involved money, but was more about sentiment than funds.
I'm not saying that great gifts cannot be purchased items, just that the greatness of a gift is not correlated to its cost.

What are some great gifts you have gotten? Or given?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Facebook Friday

Saturday 11/28
Jenni had a crying baby but needed to finish getting the laundry into the drier before getting him, so the toddler offered to nurse the baby!
[I chuckled at his suggestion and said "you're gonna nurse the baby for me huh? That's very nice of you!" And he cuddled up next to the baby for a few moments, then announced that they were done, and he ran off again. *shrug*]
Jenni made the world's cutest diaper (yet again...I've done that so many times), and put it on the baby...and he promptly pooped in it. Way to break it in kiddo. -------->
[It's an all-in-one with velour inner and two rows of snaps to make the rise adjustable...]

Monday 11/30
Jenni wishes that the two little ones would take turns needing me rather than wanting me at the same times in the middle of the night...I'd really like to sleep of course, but if they'd take turns then at least I could attend to them both, rather than having to ignore one and winding up with crying that wakes the whole house.
Jenni loves looking at the snow...but upon going to the pediatrician's this morning she remembers how much she hates driving in it.
Jenni will not be online on Tuesdays. Must sew and knit more. Must stare at screen less. If you ever catch me online on a Tuesday then chew me out, ok?! (Peer pressure at its finest!!)

Tuesday 12/1 I sewed and knitted and played with my kids. ☺

Wednesday 12/2
Jenni is thankful for gripe water.
Jenni is so blessed: healthy kids, generous friends, a break in the clouds, a season of giving, and the most beautiful place on earth to call home.

Friday 12/4
Jenni's sister is coming to visit!
Jenni WILL BE COMPLETELY HONEST... you can ask me ONE question. Any question, no matter how crazy. I WILL answer no matter what. You have my FULL honesty, but I DARE you to put this as your status and see what questions you get...
[no questions yet...I'll answer you in the comments here too though. I find it fascinating what people think to ask!]
Jenni wishes the baby would stay latched on without needing my help so much. I got spoiled nursing a toddler and forgot how much work it can be with an infant!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Welcome to the World

Even before he came, I had a feeling that Eagle would be born in the nighttime or early morning. When he arrived near sunrise (actually just before it) this song came to mind, and I knew I wanted to make this montage.
As I listen to the words of the song again and again, I am struck by how applicable they are to the birth of a sweet little soul, straight from Heaven.
The sunrise photo at the beginning is not one we took, BUT it was taken in wintertime about 30 miles from where we live.

As Sung by Cat Stevens

lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reconsidering Christmas Gifts

Last year I did daily posts throughout the month prior to Christmas, and while that was really fun for me (and hopefully for you!) I have a newborn this year and don't have that kind of energy! Furthermore, I've said a lot of the profound things I wanted to say!! BUT, I do still have a few topics for thoughtful posts this season, so every week or so I'll be waxing philosophical again.
Enjoy my (holiday) monday musings!

In the past, Hubby and I have typically set a dollar budget for Christmas (and then typically tried to get as many items as possible within that budget). On the one hand it meant we kept Christmas 'modest' in a monetary sense, which I think is good for moving away from the greed and more toward the giving and Christ-centered holiday that we want to teach our children...on the other hand the whole stress over how much stuff can we get for how little money kinda defeated the point of it all.

So this year we were talking about it and I brought up the idea of only having 3 gifts per person (since the Wise Men brought the Christ Child three gifts). Some people make it more specific where "The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need, like socks. And the myrrh gift is something to nurture their souls." (I've also heard the idea of giving 4 gifts: "something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.") These ideas felt closer to where we wanted to be, and yet neither was quite what we wanted, because one of the biggest issues is that we want our kids to care about the giving side of Christmas, so we want to encourage/help them to give to the other family members. Then Hubby came up with a brilliant idea!
We have concluded that from here on out each person in the family will get just one gift from each other family member. While the kids are young we will help them pick out gifts for each other person (and we'll subsidize) but as they get older we'll encourage them to think of gifts themselves (we'll still subsidize--within reason!). So for example Bear will get one gift each from dad, mom, Wolf, Santa, and each set of grandparents (not sure if we're gonna have gifts 'from' the baby brother this year, since he'll only be a few weeks old!). BUT, I'll also be helping Bear choose/give gifts to each other family member as well.
In the long run, we figure we'll be spending about the same amount of money, because there will only be one gift from mom, and one from dad (rather than several from us)...things will just have different 'from' labels, and be thought of/chosen by different people rather than all from mom and dad. (Hubby likes to do the Santa thing, so that will still happen...but I'm currently trying to negotiate for Santa gifts to be things that fit inside the stocking, so they will be small...keep the fun and 'magic' of the idea of Santa, but stay away from the greedy side of it. )

Anyway, I'm really excited because it will still keep Christmas spending/greed/stress to a real minimum, but this idea feels like we're going at it from the other direction--it's not about the dollar amount or the number of gifts, but since we each get to pick out just one gift for each other person, each of us is going to end up making it more personal and meaningful, you know? Especially as the kids get older I'm hoping to encourage homemade things or passing along things (like books or toys that they've outgrown). It feels so much better than if we were just trying to pack in the maximum possible bang for our buck.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pregnant in America

Recently I watched the film "Pregnant in America." I have to agree with all the netflix reviewers who said that it was somewhat of a B-grade movie, and in many ways inferior to "The Business of Being Born." With that said though, I still recommend it for a couple of reasons:
1--it is clean (no language, no nudity...BoBB has quite a bit of both, and while they are in context, they are still bothersome for many viewers).
2--the film features interviews with a broader range of people, ranging from experts to random people on the street.

One quote (played during the credits, so I don't know who said it) was particularly memorable:
We can only change things in two ways: either with litigation, or with education.
Obviously, I'm a proponent of the latter.
While this movie does have its flaws (it gets pretty dramatic--in melodramatic way--at the end; and they don't provide references for most of their statistics, so I don't know how precisely factual they are), it's still an effort at education, and for that I must applaud least a little bit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Facebook Friday

Sunday 11/22
Jenni wonders why people always ask if the baby is "a good baby." Of course he's good. He's straight from Heaven. Some babies have more needs than others, but they are ALL good.

Monday 11/23
...forgot how much harder it is to nurse a LITTLE baby at the computer...he doesn't hold on by himself very well!

Tuesday 11/24
... loves that new baby smell...mmm, milk breath!

Wednesday 11/25
... is going grocery shopping, to the post office, and to my 2wk postpartum visit with the midwife...Hubby is back to work and I'm back to normal life. I'm not sure if it's exciting or sad that the babymoon is over.

Thursday 11/26
Thanksgiving Day thankful for three little guys and a big guy
[and also for the church friends who invited us to join them at their inn--along with about 30 other people--for Thanksgiving dinner and 6 hours of friends to play with and good conversation.]

Friday 11/27 thinking about putting up some twinkle lights in the window...betcha Eagle will love them. (I know Bear will.)
[Christmas-related stuff is officially allowed now that Thanksgiving has passed]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh yeah, we had a homebirth...

A couple of people commented that they thought I was planning a birth center birth, not a homebirth. It's true, at the beginning of this pregnancy I did talk about a birth center as my ideal. At the time it was. However, when we finally found out which city we were moving to, I discovered that the nearest birth center was 80 miles away (remember midwife K who arrived 10 minutes after the birth? She was from the birth center...) I actually considered going there but was hesitant about the distance particularly because my due date was in the wintertime and, well, this is Alaska! So I opted out of the birth center, which left me with either home or the hospital.
I didn't think that Hubby would be comfortable with home (since he wasn't last time), but I had heard such good things about the midwife here that I decided to meet her anyway. I also visited the L&D area of the local hospital, and actually it was quite nice: more birth center-like than I would have expected of a hospital, even in a pretty naturally-minded area. However I still just felt really good about midwife A. So I prayed about it--I told God that I liked the midwife and was feeling drawn to homebirth, but that I needed His go-ahead that this was an appropriate and safe choice for this birth. After all, the vast majority of births are safe at home, but occasionally one isn't, so I figured it made sense to get an ok from Someone who would know.
I continued to feel very peaceful about birthing at home, and as I started trying to visualize labor and birthing I always pictured myself at home (in the dark...see, I did know something!)
When I felt like I knew what I wanted, I talked with Hubby...I told him that I really liked the midwife, and that I wanted her to attend me at home, but that I needed him to be part of the choice, and to be comfortable with what we chose to do. He said that he "would be more comfortable at the hospital," but that he was "ok with home." So I started planning for a homebirth.
We basically adopted a "don't ask don't tell" policy about the homebirth plan though--we answered honestly if someone asked us (only a few people did), but otherwise we didn't volunteer the information. The reason for this was that we knew that some of our family members would worry a great deal over our choice, and we didn't want them to worry (nor to have to listen to their worries). So we simply waited until after Eagle was born and then called them and said "he's here, by the way, he was born at home...yes on purpose..." In the meantime, since we weren't telling our family our plans, it didn't seem appropriate to be telling the rest of the world either. So we didn't.
I used the term "midwife" here on my blog, but I guessed (and rightly) that many people would assume I was seeing a CNM who would attend me in a hospital or birth center. My mother and sister (both homebirthers themselves) saw the term "midwife" and assumed I was planning a homebirth, but I don't think anyone else did. ☺

At my 3-day postpartum home visit, Midwife A asked Hubby if he'd liked homebirth better than the hospital.
He said "yes."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Musings on Movies for Little Kiddos

Anyone who has a toddler or preschooler knows that they like the same things over and over: the same books, the same songs, and the same movies. While I detest using the screen as a babysitter, I’m not opposed to letting a kid watch a movie a few days a week (I usually use the time to get my housework done, to put a baby to sleep, or even take a nap…hey, sometimes I need one!)
Since they always want to watch the same few movies though, I at least try to help them see the lessons contained in those movies.
For example:
  • In “Finding Nemo” Nemo’s troubles all began when he disobeyed his father. I won’t argue whether Marlin was overprotective or bossy, I’ll just stick with the simple fact that if Nemo had not ventured into open water he would not have been caught by the diver. Lesson: obey your parents.
  • In “The Emperor’s New Groove” Kuzko was mean to Pacha. In fact, he was downright beastly—he lied and tricked Pacha on several occasions. But through it all Pacha forgave him and was nice anyway. Lesson: be nice to people and forgive them no matter what they may do to you.
  • “The Incredibles” has a lot of loyalty to family, teamwork, believing in yourself, and working hard.
  • “The Lion King” teaches about the circle of life (which I like), and also shows that facing problems works a lot better than running away from them.
  • “The Dark Crystal” shows a triumph of peacefulness over violence, and also vindicates hard work and tenacity.
  • I like most of the Veggietales too, but of course those were intentionally created to teach lessons, so I figure they are sortof obvious. ☺

And just for the record, here are a couple of movies I am really bothered by (because of the lessons in them)…
  • Aladdin—Everybody tells lies and it’s ok so long as you’re a nice guy, and incidentally lying can really pay off if you tell the right lies to the right people, and then apologize a little bit when they catch you.
  • The Little Mermaid—(besides the immodesty) It’s ok to disobey your parents and do whatever you want because in the end you’ll be right and they’ll be sorry.

Can you think of any children’s movies that you love (or hate) because of the lessons hidden within them?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eagle's Birth Story

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings that I want to put with this story, but it's taking me a while to get them all into words, and since the story part is actually fairly short, I decided to go ahead and post the facts and then I'll post the thoughtful part later on.

There is a standard which suggests that if mama has contractions that are one minute long, 5 minutes apart, and continue at that rate for an hour, then she is in active labor and should go to the hospital (or call the midwife). In the two weeks prior to Eagle's birth I achieved that status at least four different times, always in the evening. On each occasion, I thought hey, maybe this is finally it...but since the contractions never got closer together or more intense (and in fact always slowed when I laid down for bed, if not when I was snuggling in the kids) then I knew it was not really labor. After three days in a row of it however I did call my midwife just to let her know what was going on. I told her I felt a bit silly calling, because I knew this was not it, but I thought she should know that I was contracting a lot, and regularly. She said that probably my body was warming up, and that as soon as the baby's head engaged I would have a fairly fast labor. She encouraged me to do things that would help him engage (ie--drop down and put pressure on my cervix).

I spent two days doing belly lifts/hip tucks and hip circles (both on and off the ball) trying to get him to descend, but so far as I know he hadn't engaged when I went to bed on Wednesday (my due date). He may have started to engage though, because over the course of the evening I had a half dozen contractions that seemed different from the many previous ones. I can't explain how, they just seemed different... I had a gut feeling that I'd probably wake up in the middle of the night in labor, but since I'd had that feeling on several nights in the prior two weeks I didn't bother to say anything to Hubby, and just went to bed as normal.
Bear woke up around 3, so I got up to comfort him for a few minutes, and as I got back in my own bed I had a really uncomfortable contraction. Then 10 minutes later another--the kind where you think gosh, laying down is terrible, I have to move. 10 minutes later I had a third so I got out of bed to lean on the bathroom counter and do hip circles, and the contractions promptly switched to being 5 minutes apart. After all the false starts I decided to wait another 40 minutes to make sure they kept on consistently before I woke Hubby, but I knew they were going to.

Shortly after 4am I woke Hubby. I told him I was in labor and that I needed him to put up the pool. He didn't know yet that I'd been up for over an hour, and later admitted that he wondered if it was another false start and was very tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. But he got up and started puttering around. I felt terribly impatient at this point and started working on the pool myself--we had inflated it to about 80% two weeks prior so it was quick and easy to finish the job. I think my impatience in getting the pool out helped Hubby realize that I was not at all iffy on whether this was the real thing, and he quickly stepped in to get it done for me. As he was working on the pool he informed me that he was going to have to run in to his classroom briefly, as he'd been working on some things the afternoon before and would need to put them away if a substitute was coming in that day. (After two weeks of figuring that any day could be the day, I guess he had reached the "she's gonna be pregnant forever" state of mind too!) He said he would probably only be gone about 20 minutes, so as soon as he finished inflating the pool I told him to hurry and go because I knew I'd need him soon. We called the midwife to let her know that this was it, and she said to call her back as soon as anything changed and she would come right over. So Hubby left, and I took a shower, lit some candles, and started filling the pool.

While he was gone my contractions continued to be 5 minutes apart. After a little while, needing to convince myself that I was making progress, I decided to do an internal check on myself. I had tried this several times throughout the pregnancy, and especially during the final weeks. During pregnancy the cervix is very high and also tipped to the back, so I was never able to reach it very well (I was familiar with what it felt like when I'm not pregnant because I check it regularly as part of my fertility awareness, but pregnancy is a whole different ballgame!) I had discussed with my midwife how I couldn't feel it, and she said that the height combined with the softness of it in those late weeks was probably why. This time when I reached in though I could clearly feel it: I guessed I was around 3cm dilated and I could feel the sack of waters bulging. The sack is the coolest thing to feel--sortof slippery and slimy but also obviously very strong. I couldn't feel the baby's head behind it, just the squishy edge of the sack, but I knew he must be right there since I was dilating.
I started really focusing myself into the labor. The body can (and will) do the work of birthing pretty much on its own, if mama will just relax and let it do so; on the other hand, if mama will work with her body (as opposed to merely stepping aside for it) then the whole process can be all the more effective and efficient. Ina May Gaskin talks about "integrating" contractions so that you can move forward and into the next level. Birthing From Within teaches a similar notion when it encourages the mother to go into the center of each contraction. So as I leaned against the counter and circled my hips I repeated words like "down" and "center" and "deeper." In the prior couple of weeks I had mentally stumbled upon the image of a drop or stream of water coming down onto a pool and the waves of ripples radiating out from it--so I took that image (with the downward and outward motion) and replayed it in my head over and over.

As soon as Hubby got home (around 5am) my contractions became noticeably more intense. I really think my body was just waiting for him to get home before it allowed labor to progress. I was needing to concentrate enough that I couldn't time them myself anymore, but Hubby said they were still 5 minutes apart. They were stronger though, so we called the midwife. Since my water had not broken, I'd had no bloody show, and they were still 5 minutes apart, she said she'd be over soon but we all understood that she wasn't rushing. Hubby got a quick shower and I got into the pool.
I had planned to labor in the water with Bear (although at the hospital they'd have me get out for the actual delivery), but labor had been so long that by the time we got to the hospital I was too tired to do anything but lay on the bed. This time I had had a nap the prior afternoon, plus gotten half a night's sleep prior to waking up in active labor--I was awake enough that I was far more conscious of everything that was going on (I was falling asleep between contractions at the end of Bear's labor). I also had enough energy this time to be upright and moving around, which I believe helped labor progress rapidly...although I think this would have been a faster and more intense labor regardless. In any case, warm water felt fantastic on my hard-working middle and back. I sat down in the water between contractions, but during them I still needed to be up and moving, so I knelt up and leaned on the edge of the pool and continued my hip circles...the only problem was that this brought my hips out of the water (right when I wanted it most!). So Hubby got a saucepan and poured water over my lower back during contractions. I have to say, now that I have labored with water, I cannot fathom wanting to labor without it! I started vocalizing through the contractions--keeping a loose throat can help keep a loose bottom, so a low "ahhhh" while contracting can be helpful--and it simply came naturally.

Midwife A arrived sometime around 6am I think--I was far enough into laborland that I had no concept of time. I had recently checked myself again and estimated that I was around 5cm dilated--still with the bulging waters. Bear had recently wakened and Hubby put on a movie for him. A had me get out of the pool between a couple of contractions so that she could check my vitals and dilation. I knew I was in serious labor because I didn't feel the need to grab a towel or sarong when I got out (I'm normally a very modest person, and had those things on hand because I'd expected to want them). Modesty is one of those things that just goes out the window in labor, which is good because it would be terribly inconvenient if it didn't! I was pleasantly surprised when she reached in and said "you're about 8cm dilated" (she later told me I'd been "a stretchy 8"). I got back into the water for a contraction while she called her associate midwife K (who had a 90 min drive) and got her doppler ready, and then I sat on the birth ball so that A could listen to the baby's heartrate through a couple of contractions. During the first one his heartrate dropped dramatically, but during the second it stayed steady. Contractions can be stressful for the baby, though not usually dangerously so, but she needed to listen through a couple more to determine which result had been the anomaly. The next three contractions--two with Hubby holding under my arms (suspending me), and especially the one laying on the bed--were awful. Contractions are intense anyway, but without the mediating effect of the warm water they were harder to integrate. (Did I really spend an entire labor on a bed last time? Yikes!) Baby's heartrate was stable through the subsequent contractions, so I got back into the pool.

Getting back in the water felt glorious, and was just in time...the next few contractions were stronger and I was getting louder at the peaks. I wasn't focusing myself into them anymore, just trying to stay on top of them and let my body work. I remember thinking that this was awfully hard and I'd rather just stay pregnant, and even that I totally understood why epidurals are popular...and then it hit me that those kinds of thoughts are a sign of being in transition, and that it meant I was in the home stretch! (I don't recall having any of those sorts of thoughts during Bear's labor--presumably because I was too tired to have thoughts that conscious.) Between contractions I stretched out, laying my head on the side of the pool and letting my body float out behind me. (A commented "now that's a woman in labor!" so we took a picture, but I cropped it for the blog...I'm open but not quite that open!)
I guess I woke Wolf at this point--though 7 would have been his normal wake up time anyway--he joined Bear watching the movie. I started feeling pushy. I wasn't sure if it was my body pushing or my mind wanting to push, but I told A because I figured she'd want to check me again to make sure I was fully dilated. That's what they'd done in the hospital after all. But A just said "do what your body wants to do; don't do anything that hurts." What perfect advice for labor! I don't know if the timing was coincidental or if her "giving permission" freed me, but with the next contraction I was definitely pushing, and I was getting louder too. A asked if my water had broken yet, and it hadn't, but within a couple more contractions it did. If feeling the bulging sack with my finger was weird, feeling the sack break spontaneously was really strange! (Bear's water was broken by the OB.) It was something akin to blowing a bubble gum bubble and having it pop all over your face...except of course it wasn't on my face. I really thought there was an audible pop, but I guess in the midst of labor sensory perception is garbled because Hubby and A both said it didn't make noise.
The older boys' movie got over and they came in. Wolf sat back but Bear came right over, put his hand on mine, and started vocalizing with me.
Within another contraction or two I knew things were getting close so I turned over and leaned back against the side of the pool rather than staying on my knees leaning forward. I know a lot of women deliver on their knees or hands and knees, but I wanted to be able to look down and see what was happening. In retrospect this was pointless because I couldn't see around my belly, but at the time it seemed terribly important. I reached in and for the first time felt my baby's head: all soft and wrinkly and covered with hair! The mind definitely doesn't function normally in labor, because I had the momentary thought "he doesn't have a skull" (because I could only feel the soft wrinkles of his scalp). Fortunately the work of pushing distracted me before I had a chance to linger on that notion!
Interestingly, once I turned around I no longer felt contractions nor a physical urge to push. I had a huge mental urge to push, but nothing physical. However I could feel the baby's head coming down so I had no hesitation about pushing like crazy. I'd had a feeling for some time that this baby would be bigger than the last one, so I had mentally geared myself up for a 9 pound baby. As I felt his head begin to enter my birth canal I had the thought that it was impossibly big and would never fit, but there's not really any way but down and out at that point, so I pushed anyway and remarkably enough he slid on down without much trouble at all. Of course sliding down the canal is one thing, actually getting out is another. I don't recall the classic "ring of fire" as he crowned, but I was aware of many hands being there--Hubby was in the pool with me catching the baby, the midwife's hands were supporting my perineum, and I realized that I had reached down to support myself in the front as well. Being part of my own 'catching team' was something I don't think I ever would have done in a hospital, but it came instinctively and I think it helped me not tear. His head came out, but then he stopped at the shoulders. I was pushing but he wasn't budging. Hubby moved aside and A started working the baby back and forth to get him out. My mind started racing with thoughts of shoulder dystocia and I just knew that she was about to tell me to turn over (it's easier to get sd babies out if mama is on hands and knees) and I was just sure she was going to have to break his clavicle to get him out (that's the official procedure if the baby won't come unstuck). All within the moment I was already beginning to mourn my baby's broken shoulder...but A never asked me to flip over. I felt pulling and stretching that made delivering the head feel like birthing a pillow (A later told me that she had her hands "in there with him" to get him free), and then suddenly she was done and Hubby was handing me the baby and A was putting a towel around the little one.

The first moments after birth are so precious, just staring into the eyes of my new little one and realizing the blessing of being part of a miracle.

I hadn't been able to see it, but Eagle had a nuchal hand (his hand was by his face as he was born, so although his head measurement was 36cm, the addition of his hand made it 38cm--15 inches). Hubby and A were discussing the nuchal hand when I felt a uterine twinge and knew it was time to deliver the placenta. I started to hand Eagle off to someone when I realized we hadn't cut his cord so he was still attached to me. I pulled back the towel to expose the cord and discovered that it had broken on its own! I had never heard of such a thing (and I have read a lot of birth stories). A said that it happens occasionally, but is very rare. She clamped it to make sure he did not lose any blood through it, and then turned to help me with the placenta. Delivering the placenta is easy--it doesn't have any bones. ☺
An unmedicated birth is followed by a rush of adrenalin, so I climbed out of the pool and took a quick shower. While I was showering midwife K arrived. Both A and K commented that I seemed very lively for someone who had given birth just minutes before...I wasn't trying to be lively or anything else, I just felt fantastic and ecstatic (and very glad to have the baby on the outside!). I climbed into my bed (how wonderful to be able to get right into my own bed!) and tried to get Eagle to nurse. He wasn't interested for a while, in spite of Bear telling him that nurn was good and he should try it. Wolf cut the umbilical cord (closer to his navel, as the break was several inches down). After we'd all had a chance to cuddle the baby a bit A examined me. She said that between the nuchal hand, the big head, and the stuck shoulder she'd expected to have a big sewing job, but somehow I had no tearing at all. I don't know if it was being in water, being well-supported, being relaxed, my prenatal diet, or something else, but A pronounced that I had "a beautiful vagina" and after double-checking that there was not even a skidmark, she tucked me back into bed with my baby.

B C Brighton
Born on November 12, 2009 at 8:03am
8lbs even, 20.75inches long, 36cm (14.5in) head
(Bear was 7lb1oz, 19.5in, but his head was the same size!).

This labor was shorter but more intense than my last one. I was more conscious of everything, but also more in control. I do not have regrets over my choices nor the events of my first birth; in fact Bear was not even an hour old when I told Hubby "I could do that again!" (a sentiment I did not feel for a couple of days this time). However if I could choose one labor & birth to repeat in the future, it would definitely be Eagle's.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Facebook Fri-er-Saturday

(hey, I have a new baby in the house, and when Hubby is home there's a sort of loss of sense of which day of the week it is...)

Saturday 11/14
Jenni always forgets just how tiny newborns are...even newborns who are a lot bigger than their brothers were!

Monday 11/16 knows the official score: dimpled children--2, undimpled children--1. Welcome to mama's team [Eagle]!!

Tuesday 11/17 writing out the birth story
I'm still writing...the story part is short and simple, but my thoughts and feelings about it are not so will probably have to be two posts.

Wednesday 11/18
Jenni's toddler is asking for airplane cookies (as he flies the cookie cutter around the house). I DID offer to make cookies together since he didn't get to go to scouts with daddy and big brother, but in spite of my attempts to explain it he doesn't seem to understand that the airplane cookie dough has to be chilled for several hours and thus won't work for tonight.

Friday 11/20 longer has to feel guilty: baby is in cloth now ☺
I was feeling a little guilty for putting him in disposable diapers for the first week or so (just as long as one package lasted)--not for environmental reasons, but for the comfort of it (because I had cloth for me during that time). ☺

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quirky Thursday--I'm Weirder Than You

You know how there are some things that everyone likes, or that everyone dislikes? We have these seemingly universal human preferences, and then someone like me comes along and ruins everything.
I don’t like peanut butter cookies.
I don’t like ginger snaps.
I don’t like Jane Austin books.
I hate shopping for clothing.

…on the other hand…
I don’t mind grocery shopping.
I don’t mind doing laundry (and I don’t let it stack up).
I don’t mind scrubbing the kitchen floor--it gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
I prefer kneading bread by hand
I don’t mind bathing the dog.
I got rid of my kitchenaide because I prefer mixing most things by hand.

So, how about it, where do you break the rules of normalcy?

Monday, November 16, 2009

"The Vulnerability of Men"

This is excerpted from an essay by Vincent Bach (you can read the full text here). He was born in the 60s in the USA when almost all boys were circumcised, but "by a fluke" as he says, he was left intact. He was aware of the difference from a very early age, and has written a number of essays about the issue. Incidentally, he is grateful for that "fluke" and strongly opposes circumcision.
As most of my readers probably know by now, I oppose routine infant circumcision. In talking with other mothers though, I find that many of them don't like the idea, but when they bring it up with their husbands, the father is insistent on circumcising so mom gives in and goes with it in spite of her feelings on the matter. For those mothers in particular, I share this essay.
First of all, you need to understand that circumcised men are cornered on this issue. They were circumcised without their consent and have no inherent knowledge of what being intact is like. Even though they rarely will discuss the issue, they are keenly aware that they have been surgically altered in a very private way. There are several ways for a man to deal with this issue but the safest way, psychologically speaking, is to believe at all cost that the surgery performed on them was an enhancement and is preferred by women. Confirmation of this belief is essential to their sexual self-image. Do I need to tell you that sexual self-image is a major issue for men? Didn’t think so.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the circumcised man. He asks for very little. All he wants is football on Sunday and to be assured that there is nothing wrong with his package. A nice bonus would be that women actually prefer it the way it is. Then along comes the newly pregnant wife and the issue of circumcision is no more personal to her than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she starts openly discussing it with him with all the casualness that she would with her gal pals down at the salon. Yikes! Batten down the hatch. Incoming torpedo!!!! At first the strategy is to dismiss her without appearing to be alarmed. He’ll probably toss back the usual "It's not clean" or "That could cause health problems" hoping this will scare her off since he assumes she’s heard those things before. He won’t seem particularly disturbed at first. Its part of being a man to not show vulnerability.
I think it's important to acknowledge that its perfectly understandable that our circumcised friends react this way. Men who have been circumcised have an extremely difficult dilemma. For them to acknowledge that the practice is unnecessary and harmful means that they must acknowledge a painful personal reality. For that reason circumcised men can be forgiven if they don't want to lead the parade in the fight against routine infant circumcision. I can empathize and therefore understand completely why so many men will voluntarily offer their sons up for the same procedure without giving it a second thought. To do otherwise opens them up to some vulnerable feelings that can be most unpleasant. Society puts lots of expectations on women but it also puts a couple on men. One of them is that he be sexually virile. You know - masculine, strong, potent GRRRRR!! I think many circumcised men accept without question and perpetuate the myths regarding the intact penis in order to cope with this particular expectation.

So, the problem is how do we save our son’s genitals without psychologically emasculating their fathers?

Hmm...well I think the first step is having a better understanding of just how personal an issue this is for him. The reason I spent so long discussing it is because it's extremely important and he’s not going to tell you about it.

Going into the discussion, you’ll be much better off knowing what’s really bothering him. Trust me, he really doesn’t give a hooey whether his son’s penis looks like his. What is important is that his bulb is not dimmed. Probably not a good idea to refer to the practice in initial discussions as genital mutilation (although it certainly is that). The thing that you need to get across to him with all your female charm is that you love him EXACTLY the way he is and wouldn’t change a thing. In other words, I think the best strategy is probably to build him up as high as you can before lowering this boom on him. The ship can only take a hit so big before going under. So get your armor out and start fortifying his self-image. What means everything to him is that he is the best lover and provider that you could ever hope for.
Please don’t use my lame words exactly. I ain’t got no feminine charm :-). I suspect you get it and can take it from here. Ironically, if you succeed, you’ll be giving your man a huge future reward in that his son will someday be a man and will know all too well the tremendous courage it took for his father to break with this barbaric custom and leave him intact.
You can read further writings of Vincent Bach here.

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