Thursday, March 31, 2011

If You Wish It, It Will Come...except when it comes to diapers

Today was GORGEOUS! We walked to school at pickup time again, stopping at the park on the way home, and we were all flinging off layers of coats and sweaters and socks and shoes (Ayden even took off his shirt), and I lay down on the ground and soaked up the sunshine. It was so fabulous. And so warm! Hurrah! Glorious.

We cancelled our wonderful diaper service this week. We gave it a good effort, Amarys' bum just couldn't handle cloth diapers in any way, shape, or form...well, we didn't try different diapers or soaps or anything, because we were using a diaper service...but we gave it a try with several different creams and airings and really frequent diaper changing tactics, and some copious amounts of corn starch, but nothing worked. Her butt was so raw it was bleeding sometimes. Poor baby. So we made the switch. She's in disposable diapers. Ack! But you know, we did our bit and kept thousands and thousands of diapers out of the landfill by putting three kids in cloth diapers, and we are trying to be a tiny bit better and use chlorine free diapers, or at least using some in conjunction with your regular run of the mill store brand diapers. I'm hoping some EC will also reduce the number of diapers we use, although I haven't really gotten around to researching that yet. I have caught some poops and some pees, but nothing really more than recognition on my part!
Goodbye to my wonderful diaper service....we've loved you for years...



Springtime is finally, slowly appearing. Amidst some Arctic gusts and Amazon downpours, spring is springing. At last. Cherry blossoms are blooming on our neighbour's cherry tree and we are pleased to see that it fills our front picture window. Total bonus: all the glory and none of the pruning or pink petal mess! Our backyard window sports the same view from a different tree. We also planted 10 raspberry canes (on sale at Cedar Rim Nursery for $1.98 per cane), 9 blueberry bushes, and 20 strawberry plants. And some daffodils and primulas, which promptly froze because we did them too early. Final frost is a tough guesstimate, especially around here. Those we did before Amarys was born, but the fruit plants should be safe now.

A little while ago it was sunny one evening and while Brent cooked dinner I walked to the mailbox to collect the mail. By myself. All by myself. Solitary. Oh, blissful solitude. Don't get me wrong; I love my kids and I love to be with them like nobody's business, but I'm a creature who appreciates quiet moments alone with my thoughts. It occurred to me that this was the first time I had been truly alone in approximately ten months. Unaccompanied by Amarys. It was a half a block to the mailbox and half a block back, so we're not talking jailbreak here, but it was a very nice half block trek.

Then last week one evening I put Amarys to sleep in our bedroom and left Brent to put the older three to bed, and I LEFT THE HOUSE. I went to the grocery store. What freedom! I picked out two entire items without interruptions, and then sat in the van in the parking lot for five minutes listening to the silence. And eating chocolate. Then I drove to McDonald's because Brent wanted a McFlurry (I can't eat them because of Amarys and the whole milk thing). I was gone for about half an hour.

Then yesterday I put a pot full of chicken bones on the stove to boil, left Brent with all four chicken littles, and drove to WalMart. BY MYSELF! This was an hour round trip, same idea: two items selected in solitude with no interruptions. Really, it's about being sprung from responsibility and human appendages. Just for a short, blissful stint. Ah, so nice.
When I got back from that one, Brent asked if I had the paper for the thank you cards CUSTOM MADE. As in, "WHAT TOOK YOU SO F#$%^ING LONG?!" Well, I took my time, thank you.

Speaking of walking, we got it together yesterday to walk to school to pick up the boys for the first time since Amarys was born. It was fun! We stopped at a park on the way home and they yelled and climbed trees and flung was fabulous. Now if only the atmosphere would warm up, it would truly feel like spring.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

4 Weeks Old

Amarys is four weeks old today! What a blessing she is for all of us, and totally loved by everyone. As our littlest member of the Vose Team she is rarely put down and even more rarely alone somewhere. She always has someone to watch (or glare suspiciously at), and is remarkably adept at continuing to sleep, nurse, or observe while being jostled, kicked in the head, bumped into, or while there is a whirlwind of noise and activity going on around her.
Amarys is a fairly particular soul. If the stars align, she's content. Bright eyed, curious, and observant. If not, she's noisy! I'm glad she's our fourth baby, because by now we don't get too stressed by crying or sleeplessness. There's a fair amount of both in our household these days! I feel like her personality is fairly high strung, but one that prefers to be content. That might not make sense, but I think some personalities are directed towards seeking out stress, discomfort, or pessimism (like mine), and others are directed more towards seeking out calm, balance, and optimism. So even though she's discontented more often than my other babies, I think she's got an undercurrent of calm in her personality. Her facial expression, though, is really best described as suspicious. She glares. She freaks out. Her smiles are few and fleeting.

She likes to be carried. She likes to be warm. She likes the bath. She likes to be vertical. She loves being patted or stroked gently on her back, especially when she's falling asleep. She loves our baby chair that vibrates.

She doesn't like to lie flat. She doesn't like to poop. She doesn't like my forceful letdown. She doesn't like to fart. She doesn't like diaper changes. She hates being cold. She hates an uncomfortable bum. She doesn't like to pee. She doesn't like to burp. She gets all freaked out and gassy if I eat milk, cheese, yogurt, goat yogurt/cheese, onions, garlic, cabbage, or apple juice. Like I said, she's particular! =)

Isn't it quite smart to be particular if you are #4? Really, it's an early sign of genius. How else can one make sure one doesn't get left behind at a rest stop on family vacations?

As far as having a tiny girl instead of a tiny boy, I can't say it's much different so far. The fun parts are shopping for girl clothes and dreaming about her as a teenager and an adult, someone who will *get* the girl aspects of me and hopefully someday have her own wedding and babies and education and career and interests and hopes and joys. I love thinking about watching her grow up and feeling like it is familiar, because I've been there myself. I love dreaming about my boys all grown up (or nearly, as teenagers), but the process of growing from boy to man is something I have no experience with so it doesn't feel familiar. There are some things I just won't know experientially. She may be wildly different from me, or somewhat the same, but in the end we're both girls so there's something I'll know in my bones as far as what it is like to be her.
But when they are newbies, they all eat, cry, poop, and sleep the same. I get all crazy happy when I get to dress her up; grandpa's birthday on Sunday was fun because she wore her party dress which has two layers of dress and one layer of crinoline (tulle), and that cute white flower headband we have...
I also love those little pink onesies, tiny white sweaters, and a pair of teeny tiny blue fabric shoes with ladybugs on them that my mom bought her when she was the size of a soy bean. But to be honest, I like her best in her yellow pyjamas with little ducks on them. I like her suspicious glares. The dry patches of skin around her eyebrows and the ring of baby acne at the back of her neck. Her left cheek dimple. Her spiky hair. Sweet milk breath. Curled pinky toes. And her bellybutton, which is shaped like an 'e.'

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Story of Amarys

So we had two names shortlisted in case our baby was a girl; Amarys and Leokadia. We wanted to see her face before we named her to see which name suited her the best. In the end, Amarys was it.
A friend of ours from university, who was one of our bridesmaids and a really cool person, was named Vanessa. Her older sister was named Amarys. I think we met Amarys once at Vanessa's wedding, but I can't actually remember for sure. So we don't actually know the original Amarys herself but we always loved her name. To me, it reminds me of amethyst, which is a really beautiful purple and white stone that sparkles in the sun. It also sounds like the french word for love. It means 'Promised by God.' Which is pretty cool, although we didn't have any prophetic word that we would have a little girl, a fourth child, or anything. But aren't all children little promises from God that peace is possible, that redemption is worth striving for, and that God himself is full to overflowing with love?
It's a beautiful name. And it suits her well.

The Story of Leokadia

Amarys' middle name is the name of a family friend who passed away in November of 2008. Some of you will remember I posted about her around the time of her death, talking about her significance to our family and a bit about her remarkable life, but if you missed them, you can read about her here and here. Leokadia means lion hearted, and although the original Leokadia was shy and quiet, she had a lion's heart of courage to face many of life's worst challenges, and she loved with a lion hearted fierceness. Especially children. I'm so glad we finally had a girl so we could use Grandma's name.
I still miss her all the time. All the time.


So we mailed Amarys' documents to vital statistics Wednesday March 16th, which registers her birth, applies for a social insurance number, a birth certificate, and a Care Card all at once. It costs $27.
Thursday March 17th my mom calls, and says, "I think you spelled Amarys' middle name incorrectly."
It's Leokadia, not Lukadia (which explains the meaning a little better: Leo=lion and Leokadia means lion hearted). The correct spelling is important to us because she's named after a specific Leokadia and because the meaning is associated with the spelling.

Brent called vital stats on Monday to try and rectify the spelling but they said it will take $54 and an notarized letter to change it after you mail the documents. It has to be done within a year of the child's birth. We decided that it is important enough to change the spelling, but what a pain in the butt! I should have double checked the spelling before we went ahead and named her I guess!

So Amarys' name is actually Amarys Leokadia Smith Vose. Or it will be, after we do all the above steps! Unless we change our minds on that one. For now, this is the plan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grated Potatoes, and Other Oddities

I know that in general I'm an oddity. I mean, I say words like perineum and cervix and areola on the internet and my blog is not even private. Who does this? It's like being a reproductive cyber stripper: exhibitionist on all things birth and breastfeeding! Read my descriptions of the above in great detail! SO FUN!
But heck, y'all keep coming back. Why stop now?

So, I developed another breast abscess. So delish. This one was more of a montgomery tubercle (those tiny bumps in the areola) that started to grow a bit out of control a few weeks ago, and then got blocked and kind of infected but only a little, but it is very close to the nipple so both Amarys and Riley overlap it when they breastfeed. Yesterday when I woke up it HURT, so I called my midwife. She suggested I grate a potato, wrap it in gauze, and put it on the abscess. I figured, why not. I'll give it a shot, it's better than torturous aspiration with a sharp needle, which is what the allopathic treatment is. Guess what? IT WORKED! Within 2 hours, the abscess was gone. I'm not kidding! I still have a bump, a larger than average tubercle, but the infection is gone and the bump is 1/5th the size it was yesterday.
Potato. Who knew? Now you do.

Amarys is a sleep angel. Only she needs a heavenly memo telling her to fall asleep around 11 pm or midnight, instead of anywhere from 2:30 a.m. to 5:00. Once she falls asleep, she stays that way for 8 to 10 hours. Yes, I said eight to ten hours. Holy crap! I've heard of babies like this, but they're so rare they are legends. But I've got one. An oddity. Half the time she does actually fall asleep around midnight so I shouldn't complain, except the other half the time SHE DOESN'T. Plus even when she sleeps eight hours Riley toddles into our bedroom at around 4:00 a.m. all bleary eyed and "Me want milk," waking me several times between four and when he gets up for the day. So it's not like I have eight to ten hours of uninterrupted sleep! Because that would be RIDICULOUS!


How ironic. I have a sleeps through the night three week old infant, and I can't enjoy it. Well, I could if I got tough on Riley but I don't care nearly enough to do that. Sure, he's old enough to go through the night without nursing, but I wouldn't trade a sleep for those cuddles with my older baby. Not a chance. Besides, when he wakes up in the morning he pats his sister so sweetly. Sometimes when she is close while he is nursing, he holds her hand. I can't quite manage to breastfeed both of them simultaneously yet, but when I do I'm sure it will be cute.

We have had a ton of fun lately; I took all four kids to the park by myself one evening while Brent made dinner. Our new house is around the corner from a park, perfect for a 45 minute jailbreak before supper, especially in the spring sunshine!
The next day we made cinnamon buns together as a family, which is a several hour project with lots of steps (I had never made cinnamon buns before so it took even longer than it probably should have), which is perfect for a kid involved project. It was fun and the end product was SO delicious.
The next day was sunny and warm: that was randomly half dressed boys on the trampoline day. Very fun.
We went to Campbell Valley Park for a mini hike yesterday in the sunshine and had a great time! There are lots of trails and several main entrances so we don't always go on the same hike, but this particular spot was where Brent and I had our first date just over ten years ago. It's pretty cool to go back with four kids in tow and ten years' worth of memories, and it gives me goosebumps to think of us on that date with no idea what is coming in the future (the very near future, AYDEN), nor the weight of what's riding on the success of that date! And these kids, they run around with the sun shining on them through the trees, and splashing in the creek, chattering endlessly and totally wrapped up in their small worlds and big emotions, with no idea how meaningful this geography is in the history of their lives.
Amarys decided 3/4 of the way through the hike that she was decidedly DONE, so some of the hike wasn't so magically sunshine through the trees. Wailing baby in the woods isn't so romantic. And I tell you, this baby is LOUD. Anyone who has been to visit us can attest that she is equipped with a Set Of Lungs, which will do her well considering her position in a family of all boys. She makes my ears ring. I think we scared all the fauna, and perhaps all the people out enjoying the park and minding their own business on a nice spring weekday.
In some ways, she's so like her daddy. And in other ways, she takes after moi.

It's just so cool, having four. Having another itty bitty one around. Having a girl. Being married to this particular person. Tripping over these particular Tazmanian devil boys. Laughing at their particular jokes.
Whew, so blessed. Sleep or no sleep!


While changing Ammi yesterday, she peed all over me. Riley was witness to this, and asked
Her pee out her penis?
Uh, no, she doesn't have a penis.
Where her pee?
She pees out of her urethra, near her vagina.
Oh. Where my 'gina?
You don't have one. You have a penis.
What dis?
(he was naked. Of course)
Those are your testicles. Boys have those.
Ayen hab dose?
Ma-hew hab dose?
Daddy hab dose?
Amiss hab dose?
No. She has a vagina.
Oh...Her hab ankles?

I howled. He's trying to figure out, exactly which body parts are missing, here? Because maybe she doesn't have ankles! His face when he asked was classic: scrunched way up in a huge question mark, with one eye closed and one eyebrow raised.

Her have ankles?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Between Interruptions...

My kids are on the trampoline in our backyard as we speak. Apparel is as follows:
-Matthew, fleece sweatshirt and basketball shorts
-Ayden, blue trousers, bare feet, shirtless
-Riley, naked as the day he was born, but for a pair of winter boots
I apologize for not posting photos, but Riley might kill me in future if I do...

Amarys has slept 8 hours per night four times this week. And then Friday night she was up freaking out and screaming til 4:30. Last night? Freak out central til 5:30. I have slept for a total of six hours in the past 48. I feel like a mosquito on a windshield.

While nursing these days I'm re-reading "Between Interruptions," a compilation of thoughts on motherhood by Canadian writers: some of them journalists, some of them novelists, some of them everything in between, and I love it. I love it more this time than I did the first time I read it, several years ago. Here are a few snippets;

(from the introduction)
I don't want to be too hard on myself. There's enough judging of mothers and mothering by friends, family, and perfect strangers. I'll leave the criticism to them. I'm more interested in figuring out how this happened. How a woman like me, raised with more opportunities and choices than any previous generation of women, could be so unprepared for motherhood. Just like women in the 1960s, mothers today are discovering that the ways we are brought up and the goals we set for ourselves are strangely, and often painfully, contradictory. Liberation, autonomy, and equality are all good principles for women to aspire to, in theory. But they don't fit so well with mothering. How can you put yourself and your kids first at the same time? And then, where does your partner, assuming you have one, fit into the picture? You get the idea.
But it's not just women from the sixties who will find parallels in today's mothering experience. As any reading on the history of motherhood will reveal, cycles repeat themselves and mothers today are struggling with many of the same issues as mothers of previous generations. Perhaps the one mark of distinction for today's mothers is our widespread sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are: with our "motherload" (the career, the kids, the house, the husband), with gender roles, with society's expectations. It's hard to be satisfied when you are brought up to believe you will have a fabulous career, a fabulous family, a fabulous social life and a fabulous house, and when you suddenly find yourself with all those things, you realize it's not at all fabulous; that having all those things means losing yourself; that motherhood has much more inherent value and joy than we were ever taught to believe; that having a job and kids and an "equal" relationship or marriage is highly stressful, and not always possible.
Maybe I wanted to write this book to write myself out of madness. That is what it feels like every time I write something about motherhood--a big exhale. Except I didn't want to do all the writing myself. So much of what I've found interesting about the struggles of motherhood has been hearing other women's stories, sharing their experiences. It can be vindicating, depressing, surprising, or just a plain relief to know I'm not the only one having trouble, say, weaning my two-year-old or swearing in front of, and sometimes at, my kids.
(Cori Howard)

Since the submissions written for this book are by professional writers, some of them are remarkable, and they are all beautiful to read as well as insightful. Some describe lives very similar to mine, others very different. Some of my favourite bits;

"Sacred" is the word that immediately precedes "sacrifice" in the dictionary. It is defined as something that is unassailable, inviolable, highly valued and important. Women like me were brought up to believe that our personal aspirations and identities were sacred. So we hang on for dear life, loath to let go of our hard-earned uniqueness of self. Instead, we layer on a new life--the life of mother. And what motherhood demands of us is not just our love and desire but a deep cut into the essence of who we once were. A cleaving apart of the life we were once driven to create for ourselves and our new reality. How could any of us be ready?
(Carol Shaben)

I used to love the adrenaline rush of all that pressure and all those deadlines: that flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants energy as you took on way too much, and the huge sense of accomplishment when it all fell into place. I think the magazine editor Bonnie Fuller has it right. It is exhilarating to have much too much. It's absolutely affirming to take on great big chunks of life and revel in the fact that you took it for all it was worth.
I never imagined when I was single that having children would give me the same kind of rush. Life with four kids is full-on, an all-hands-on-deck kind of challenge.
(Monika Deol)

The truth is, I don't think any mother can be perfect. And the definition of a good mother seems awfully narrow these days. Have your own identity but don't seek paid employment. Breastfeed for at least a year, but don't be seen breastfeeding in public. Be close with your children but not too close or you will smother them. Eventually, we all set foot in the bad mother camp. We find ourselves shouting at our kids in the supermarket. Or using the television as a babysitter. Or giving up breastfeeding too early. Feelings of guilt seem unavoidable.
(Jen Lawrence)

"Couldn't you have kids of your own?" people used to ask me. Assuming, of course, that adoption, as a second choice, must be second-best. Our culture, like most others, begins in the procreational imperative. To adopt a child, especially one who cannot be passed off as "one's own" is to insist that family can be bound by invisible threads of love as surely as by chains of genes. To adopt a child is, intentionally or not, to threaten the foundations of patriarchy. People tend to get huffy when you do that.
...When it comes to ideas about adoption, Mark and I werent' all that different from anybody else. Adoption had presented itself as a magical solution, a promise of "happily ever after." Now, we brought our baby home and found not our perfect fantasy child but a real person with needs and strengths and weaknesses of her own. And we faced a welter of unanticipated questions, a thicket of unexpected problems. Here, too, we were no different from most parents, bu the extremity of our daughter's needs and their unfamiliarity walloped us, sent us reeling.
When you adopt, there is no way you can analogize Matthew's dyslexia to your uncle Sam's; no way you can compare Emma's stubborn streak to your own. So you tend to read every twitch and tantrum for darker messages. What if your child grows up to be the next Charles Manson? After all, he was adopted...
Becoming a mother--any mother--means learning to see through your child's eyes, to feel with your child's heart. Becoming an adoptive mother means accepting from the start that your child's heart beats to another body's rhythm.
Imagine you're learning to dance. You begin without the warm-up and you miss the first few classes, so you and your new partner are clumsy. You tire easily, lose confidence, lurch and tread on one another's toes. Sometimes you even fall. The steps you're learning are different--more intricate than the ones that other dancers need to learn, so while your classmates dip and swing, you'll still be practicing your basic moves. Sometimes you'll envy them, wishing you had it as easy; ironically, a few of them may envy you because you got to skip those dull introductory lessons. Never mind. Keep dancing. You'll need to improvise a lot of the choreography. After all, unlike most of the others, your combining moves from more than one dance form and more than one tradition. But improvisation is freeing, and drawing on multiple sources adds texture and richness to your art. As you gain grace, you'll glow with pride at your own achievement. Because you're unusual, you may attract stares in public and the kind of attention that nobody wants. But in time, you'll move so fluidly that people will comment on how miraculously you're matched. By then, like most dancers you'll have lost your self-consciousness, forgotten the pain and embarrassment of your first halting steps. By then, you'll wonder what gave your life meaning before you learned to dance.
(Susan Olding)

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Barely contained chaos is really just par
for the course around here, and Amarys
is fully immune to it already. Tazmanian devils...

Watching Backyardigans with Riley

Four Voses on a couch

Riley loves holding Amarys for a general average of
about eight seconds, and he yells "TAKE PICTURE ME!"
the whole eight seconds

Heart to heart with Nana

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Photog carnival

Remember how, when we packed up our old house in October to show and sell it, I lost my camera cord? Remember how, when a photo was called for or overdue, I'd say I lost my camera cord and will post more photos when I find it? And then we moved and it still didn't show up, and then one day, IT DID! I have hundreds of photos since October so I think we'll go slowly. But here are a few of Amarys in the past few weeks...

Riley and Amarys share a secret

I LOVE this picture of my dad with his first granddaughter; he
looks SO HAPPY

The milk snuggles

Amarys on the scale in our living room the day after
she was born (8 lbs 12 oz at this point)

Squishy lips

Fell asleep on daddy and stayed there for hours...

She's actually pretty little despite how she looks in
close ups of her face with those chunky cheeks

We call this expression "The Smith Look" in
our family~its common on my dad's side for a neutral
expression to look cranky. The furrowed brow is a
staple with Amarys

Jonah Did

Take me for a ride
I'll stay inside your belly

and learn to play love songs
on your rib

We'll dive for quarter

and let the sea fold arms
around our secret


~deborah vansickle

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A friend of mine had her baby!! Super duper exciting all around, but especially because her baby was breech for weeks and she tried everything to get that little one to turn. My friend's story runs parallel to mine: baby #1 cesarean for breech, baby #2 VBAC with midwife, and then baby #3 due 2 weeks after mine. But then her baby #3 was breech and there was lots of back and forth over whether to give birth vaginally or surgically~so tough.
Well, an external cephalic version WORKED, and put her into LABOUR, and she had her BABY and everyone is in spectacular health, and she had the natural 2ndVBAC birth she was hoping and praying for.


Oh, so great. I was praying so hard.

Interesting, for one woman to have 2 breech presentations in three pregnancies, hey? My grandma had 2 breech babies, but they were #4 and #5. I think it's more common to have unusual presentations when a woman has had lots of babies. The uterus has more stretch to it, or something. But 1st and 3rd?

I'm just so glad for this friend.


My midwife came by today for a post partum visit~did I mention she's coming to my house for all of my post partum visits instead of the customary 1st week (customary in my area)? She lives close to me. I love this. Anyways, today she came and Amarys weighs 9 lbs 4 ounces. Last week on Monday she was 8 lbs 14 oz, so that means she's gained 0.75 ounces per day. I was surprised. Not because of her size, she fits her clothes all the same, but because my babies historically gain 2 to 4 ounces per day at this age. It freaked me out! But Cathy said anywhere from 0.5 to 1 ounce per day is the normal range, so I guess we're okay! It's just so far from my normal experience. I swear Amarys pukes as much up as she keeps in, the kid is incredible. It often comes out BOTH nostrils and her mouth at once, with some force. It doesn't really bother her that much, and she then gets back on the breast and fills her tummy again, but it sure sucks to make that milk and feed her carefully so she can cope with the flow and burp when she needs to and then have it all wasted! Not to mention the time investment. But mostly it's like, "Look at all that liquid gold precious milk! Totally wasted!"
I have oversupply. TOO MUCH milk, and always have. And I still fret that I might wind up with NOT ENOUGH MILK to feed my babies. Every time. I have to remind myself often that every time I feed her, there's milk there! Thank goodness that if I have pukers, I have more than enough. Although it's the oversupply and forceful letdown that goes with it that makes them puke so hard and so often, so they go hand in hand.

Today was hard. Brent and I were both done before we even got up today. Exhausted. Wrecked. Riley's babymoon is over, and now he's SO IRRITATING with his constant clingy flailing neediness, and every time I nurse Amarys or hold her or have three seconds to sit down while she's finally passed out in my arms after 2345432 false starts, he jumps all over me and whines and kicks his legs around flailing as he climbs or mad because he WANTS MILK WANTS IT NOW CAN"T SHARE CAN'T WAIT MUST HAVE MILK NOW. And guess what? I don't want anyone touching me. So the LAST THING I want to do is breastfeed HIM. Well, today this was the case. I enjoy nursing Riley, when it's mutually agreeable and devoid of whining and flailing.

Also, I have been having some anxiety pop through my babymoon, and I just hate it. It's manageable so far. But it's really really awful to be playing or nursing or walking around my own house minding my own blissed out babymoon business, and WHAM I'm floored by images of accidentally dropping my baby or finding her dead or forgetting to fasten Riley's seat belt or fires or crashes or drowning or SIDS....Gurrrrrrrkkkkk....and some massive doses of guilt. Good old Stu. Haunting my babymoon. Bad memories of poorly coping parenting moments from the past.
So far, it's only brief and manageable, so I'm being watchful and trying hard to use positive imagery to replace the anxious images and somehow talk myself back from the guilt (totally hard). Pray for me. THIS is manageable, but of course there's potential for it to go south. It wouldn't ever go as far as it was after Riley was born, because I'm diagnosed and more on top of it and have a ton of resources to draw from, right? Right.

Ah life. It just ain't easy, huh?
But really, massive amounts of time are spent blissed out on the smell of newborn. And when he's not whining and flailing, Riley is remarkably enjoyable to be around, and ridiculously cute. So I can't complain.

Although as Brent noted tonight in is status on FB, it's so NOT what we signed up for when we had four kids to have ALL FOUR of them crying for different reasons at dinnertime, and ALL FOUR requiring major interventions to calm them down! Hysterical.

Oh, and I read a book called Room in the week before Amarys was born and it was FANTASTIC and totally disturbing yet totally full of redemption and innocence and beauty....
I'd highly recommend it with lavish enthusiasm, with the caveat that the subject matter is quite disturbing. You can even buy it at Costco as of this week.

I also just finished a book called The Midwife of Venice last night and it was also very captivating! Set in the 1500s. Very interesting, and historically intruiging, and the main characters are captivating.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A few more details of life lately

-Amarys is tongue tied. She can still get her tongue over her bottom gumline, and I had pain the first week but no damage, so I decided to leave it as is. She has an awesome latch, so after many months of painful pregnant breastfeeding, I'm enjoying a pain free boob experience right now! And a busy one; when Ami eats, Riley usually wants milk too.

-Riley calls one breast The Drippy One, and the other one Lidda Bit Drippy One. This is because the drippy one sprays across the room, but the lidda bit drippy one just drips a little sometimes. This distinction is funny, because the lidda bit drippy one is my super producer!

-my supply is pretty close to my kids' demand for the first time ever: it's freaky to be that close to demand because the big fear is always that there will someday be too little. But I've more than enough so I should relax. I still have forceful letdown, especially in The Drippy One. When Ayden was dealing with forceful letdown he would power through like a little locomotive: suckswallowgastsuckswallowgaspsuckswallowgasp!
Riley would bite me. YOW!
Amarys is the kindest: she uses her tongue to push the offending Dripper out of her mouth so politely, and then she just won't take it back again for 5 or 10 minutes.

-I'd say my in utero assessment of each child's personality was accurate. Ayden is fairly rigid when he wants something in particular, but relaxed the rest of the time. He also never stops moving.
Matthew is intense and personifies the concept of perpetual motion. I didn't form that opinion when he was in utero, obviously, but I couldn't leave him out!
Riley is VERY easy going.
Amarys is somewhere in between Ayden and Riley; more active, more opinionated, but pretty easy going MOST of the time.

-I got a blackberry today. The phone was FREE because of a special sale this week! Cool.

-that's all for now! Gotta go play blocks with my 2 year old....

Thank you lovely friends for enjoying my birth story. It is cool to have an avenue to share it with you; a story like this one is intensely personal but amazing to share with friends. ♥ ♥ It truly was amazingly peaceful, and I'm so grateful. I thought I'd answer some of the questions/comments here to be sure you get my responses!

First, I wanted to clarify that Riley's birth was very positive, and healed a ton of the feelings of unfinished, untested, uninitiated, opened up and delivered of feelings I had from my cesarean birth. I've never felt violated or angry or cheated by my cesarean, but I did feel that I missed out on something that was remarkably important to me.

[Well, those few weeks of "you possibly might have placenta previa" I was angry about my cesarean, since they make placenta previa more likely in future pregnancies~other than that, I've not felt angry]

Riley's birth was amazing! It changed me in huge ways, including making me want to change my entire career path from a trajectory towards ALS paramedic with a possible eye on the Infant Transport Team, to midwifery school. Four years of university and another degree are a big undertaking but suddenly I wanted that path with a passion! I wanted a good shot at a VBAC and got a life's passion as well as a gorgeous VBAC! But yes, Riley was born unconscious and didn't start breathing on his own, despite a 12 hour labour with good fetal heart tones right up until 2 minutes before he was born!

Jeanette, the midwife who caught him, said his cord was looped around his neck and then over his shoulder blade, and likely got compressed during the last 2 minutes of birth. She and Sharon, my second midwife, put him on my chest, dried him off, and tried to stimulate him for about a minute before quickly cutting the cord and putting him on the baby warmer while calling for a resuscitation team and working on him for what seemed like eternity but was only several minutes. He came around, was cleaned, weighed, assessed, and measured, and then returned to me within half an hour, but obviously this event was not ideal NOR a gentle way to enter the world! I was overjoyed to experience a non traumatic, non separated for several hours, normal transition with Amarys. So grateful. I didn't know how much I needed that until it happened!

Rachel asked why I opted to break the waters~nothing enlightening, I just figured they were slowing the second stage down. It's rare to give birth with membranes still intact, and I've always thought that would be cool! But with a freaking head in my pelvis I wanted them broken so she would come out. =)
I left them alone for as long as I could stand it! But with her head all the way engaged there was little risk even that the water behind her would come splashing out (it didn't, until after her body came out), let alone the cord, so I figured no risk, possible benefit of speeding up the second stage. I don't know if it helped or not~she didn't come flying out after the membranes were ruptured as anticipated! But it wasn't too long afterwards.

Special props to Louise for all the amazing photos. It was actually fantastic not to worry about each moment being captured, and simply get lost in the process. You were great. I love that you cried and I didn't. =)

I'm also glad you got to see a natural birth: Ina May Gaskin talks in her book about the media and how it shapes our perception of birth. Emergencies, of course, are more interesting than regular, everyday birth, so we see an incredible number of real or exaggerated risks or emergencies when it comes to birth on TV. Plus, she points out that we are *allowed* to see cesarean births, but vaginas are always fuzzed or pixelated out, so we don't actually get to see the natural process unfold and then believe in the body's process because we've seen it. She's pretty right on, I think. The natural process is pretty darn cool!

And I'm surprised to find a kindred who would rather be double poked with an IV needle than labour with a saline lock~maybe I'm not so weird, Caryn!

Thank you to all of you for your comments! This birth was amazing and I'm glad you got all the way through the loooong story and all its details. Thanks for being excited for us! xoxoxo

Two things I would have changed; I would totally have said bring the kids in right near the end, since they were prepped and wanted to be there, and I really wanted them there for the birth. And I would have tried getting upright to deliver the placenta before going to the oxytocin. But seriously, you can never have a big event like a birth (or, as Louise pointed out, a wedding) that goes 100% as you had anticipated or planned, or in such a way that in hindsight you would change nothing. I'm just grateful for my natural birth, healthy baby, positive and empowering experience, midwife, support team, kids, friends, prayers, and Canadian health care system with integrated midwifery care (in BC), and the ability to refuse those procedures I believe would hinder my body's process, making my birth less functional and safe overall. I've had the privilege of experiencing natural birth TWICE! So great.

In other events around here, Amarys has champion slept several nights (Sunday morning she slept from 1:30 a.m. til 9:30 a.m.!), and loser slept several other nights (Sunday night she didn't go more than 45 minutes in a row), so that averages out to a semi adequate sleeper. Last night she was kind again. Not to Brent though; she had two middle of the night poops and one first thing in the morning.

Despite me removing dairy from my diet she's still in pain a lot. She also hates going pee or poop in her diaper, so she might be a good candidate for EC, which I'm willing to try once we get more settled and I get more healed and maybe a little less tired. I don't know what to do about the pain, since I thought it was dairy and maybe it is, but it's something else too?

Also, Matthew was put into the special Reading Recovery program at school and is finally making some significant headway with reading; he was coming along before the program when we compared him to himself, but not compared to his school curriculum, or other kids in the class. In hindsight, it would have been better to put Matthew in preschool for one more year, and start him in kindergarten at six, and grade one at seven. He's on his own timeline, which doesn't jive with the school timeline, but he flourishes in school in other aspects (emotionally, etc) because of the highly structured environment. Anyways, this new RR program is really helping him to discover the building blocks of literacy and to build his confidence, so he's really coming along.

Ayden is hitting his stride with violin lessons, too! It took him awhile, which frustrated him because he's not accustomed to taking awhile to master something. He is gaining confidence and skills now, and seems to like playing although he's not keen on practicing. Who is? But that kind of discipline is an extremely valuable asset in life, so hopefully he will continue to be positive about music lessons in general and violin specifically. He did tell me shortly after Christmas that he "only agreed to take violin lessons so he wouldn't hurt my feelings," which is total bogus crap because he wanted to learn an instrument and we gave him the choice of anything from Oboe to voice lessons and HE CHOSE violin. Twerp.

Update on Brent and I: exhausted. Happy. Good team.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Amarys' Birth Story

This birth was a gift. It was beautiful, and peaceful, and so filled with love I could hardly contain it.

A short time before my due date, my friend Dana emailed me that she was praying that I would hear a specific word from God regarding this birth. Immediately afterwards, my friend Jen emailed me with several Bible verses filled with words of peace. Several of them stood out for me and were comforting for me during labour, and remarkably descriptive of the emotional and physical space of this birth.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.

Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

~John 14:27

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.

For (s)he will be like a tree planted by the water,

that extends its roots by a stream

And will not fear when the heat comes,

But its leaves will be green,

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought

Nor cease to yield fruit.

~Jeremiah 17:7-8

Shortly before I went to bed on Sunday evening, February 27th, I had some mild contractions. I ignored them, figuring they would disappear once I went to bed, as usual. I was able to sleep soundly and peacefully, but the contractions continued all night. By six a.m. they kept me awake and were steadily ten minutes apart, so at seven as the household woke up for the day I told Brent and tried to distract myself between contractions. I let my labour support team know so they could plan their day, and paged my midwife. I knew it was early but I wanted to give everyone lots of notice. My midwife lives closer to me than to her office, so she came by to see me around eight in order to assess whether she should cancel her clinic appointments, or continue her day until I kicked into active labour. I knew it was too early to cancel clinics and expend a bunch of energy focusing on contractions, but she wanted to be sure so she came by. The baby was well engaged and my cervix was very soft and very thin, but too posterior to feel dilation, which means early labour.

She went to her clinic, and I had breakfast and helped scoot the older boys off to school. As I moved around and distracted myself, I noticed the surges were spacing out. Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, half an hour...

I pulled out my breast pump to add to my stash of expressed breast milk to take with me to the hospital in case my gestational diabetes caused blood sugar regulation problems in the baby and the hospital staff wanted to feed her. A bottle of formula can help regulate a newborn with low blood sugars, but for long term health formula puts an infant at increased risk of developing type II diabetes later in life. A baby who develops in the womb of a woman with gestational diabetes is already at increased risk for diabetes, so I was determined my baby would be fed only human milk to decrease its overall risk. I had asked a friend to donate me three ounces of her milk, and added what I could of my colostrum, just in case. The pumping helped bring things back to ten minutes apart, and regular again.

Louise came over to take some photos at about 9:30 or so, and stayed for over an hour chatting and taking gorgeous photos of my kids and my clock and me on the phone...I love her kids, and they play well with my kids, so we had an impromptu playdate! The surges were spacing out again so as she left, I went for a walk.

I was continuing to watch the clock to time contractions and to time my food intake, since good glycemic control is important during the last few weeks of pregnancy and during the birth process for women with diabetes. I ate every three hours and took my insulin as usual. Riley wanted to have a nap, so I lay down with him and nursed him to sleep. Breastfeeding him made my contractions jump from every ten minutes and moderately strong to every two to three minutes and stronger. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, which is also the hormone that stimulates contractions. It was handy to have this tool to help keep things moving along during this long prodromal stage! I had expected this labour to go quickly, but the early phase was long and relaxed. I felt a bit impatient, but mostly relaxed and peaceful. I phoned my midwife and let her know that things had picked up a bit. She came over to assess me, and I was 2-3 centimeters dilated and the baby had progressed to +1 station, cervix very soft and very thin, and no longer posterior. This was all good information to have, but I knew I wasn't in active labour yet. It just didn't feel quite like my productive labour had been with Riley yet; that feeling that I was riding a river current that was deep, fast, powerful, and unrelenting. My midwife went home, but told me she expected to be back within an hour. This was around two o'clock in the afternoon. I let Louise and Rowenna know, so they could prepare to leave for the hospital once things picked up. However, things slowed down again! I had been trying to balance distracting myself so as not to waste my focus or energy on early labour, with being able to cope with contractions I couldn't ignore, and paying attention so I would know when my body made the shift to active labour. I got in the bathtub for an hour or so to relax, which made things slower again but warmed up my feet and helped me to get a regenerative rest. At six thirty I pulled out my breast pump again and pumped a few ounces to add to the hospital stash, and within fifteen minutes, my body shifted and I knew I was finally in that fast, powerful river of active labour with little chance of slowing down again. I ate dinner, and then we all headed to the hospital shortly after seven p.m.

When we walked onto the Family Birthing Unit, it was shift change and a large number of nurses were at the desk. We walked past with our entourage of photographer, midwife, Brent, my mom, three little boys, birth ball, pillows, food, and a rather full suitcase: an unusual sight on a maternity ward! It was a homebirth in the hospital, just like I wanted! Riley had his baby doll in his arms and two pigtails in his hair "jus' like mommy" and his favourite spiderman pyjamas on, and the nurses all thought he was SO cute.

When we arrived and got to our room (#216) there was paperwork for my midwife, and several routine things for the hospital with regards to women who are delivering VBAC. Here's where there is the most potential for conflict with hospitals in my part of Canada, when it comes to me. I tend to be a pain as a patient, because I have some weird preferences that go against standard policies. My nurse came in. Lets call her Amber. She was very businesslike and 'efficient'~which is a nice way of saying brisk and detached. She had the external fetal monitor with her, and my midwife turned around and said, "Actually she has refused the external fetal monitor. She won't be going on the monitor." Amber was stumped, "Oh, I don't know about that," she said, indignant.

"Both myself and Dr. Drake (my OB, not his real name) have discussed it with her, and she knows the risks and has chosen to refuse it. All you need is the refusal form, and she won't be going on the monitor."

First of all, if Dr. Drake was in the room telling Nurse Amber I wouldn't be going on the external fetal monitor, she wouldn't be saying 'I don't know about that,' and second of all how fantastic is it for me to have a midwife to advocate for my wishes, which we had discussed at length for the previous eight months, while I focused on labouring. I knew this conversation was happening, but I didn't need to contribute to it. My midwife also said, "It's in her birth plan. You really need to read her birth plan, which is in her chart."

I wasn't aware of what happened next, but my midwife and Amber wound up at the nurse's station talking to the head nurse. Of course, the head nurse knew that a woman can refuse anything she doesn't want in health care, so she settled the matter in my favour and nothing more was said.

A similar thing happened with my I.V. Women who are VBACs in hospital are always given a large bore I.V. saline lock in case they require surgery and/or a blood transfusion. I choose not to consider myself a potential obstetrical emergency and dislike extra discomfort or apparatus while giving birth, so I refuse this I.V. However, I have tested group B strep positive for both my natural births and decided in both cases to accept I.V. antibiotics to treat it, which are administered every four hours during labour. Most women would choose to have a saline lock in place so they only need to be poked once with a needle, but I prefer repeated pokes and no saline lock.

Amber bustled up with a eighteen gauge needle and the longest saline lock I’ve ever seen with about a billion ports.

“Why are you using an eighteen gauge for an in and out I.V?” I asked, eyeing the huge needle with a green port (green is eighteen gauge).

“Oh, this is the standard size in obstetrics,” Amber assures me.

“Yes, I know it is, but it’s not staying in so can you get a smaller one?”

“No, this is all we have.” POKE, fiddle, tape, op site, more tape…I rolled my eyes. Then my midwife Cathy noticed what was going on and reiterated that Amber really needed to read my birth plan, because that I.V. would be coming out as soon as the antibiotics finished running. Ambers eyes widened in surprise:

“You would rather be poked more than once?” I laughed.

“YES! I know I’m weird, but that’s what I want!” I’m not sure if it was the joke about me being weird, or if she figured my birth plan really deserved a read, but she was no more trouble after that. We didn’t need her much, so she was only in the room for a few more minutes and then for the birth itself, several hours later. This whole interaction took only about fifteen minutes but was an interesting example of the intersection between a medical approach and a humanistic or midwifery approach.

The kids all grouped around the room, eating timbits and looking around with wide eyes at the hospital room. Matthew was curious about all the machines, my I.V., the fetal monitor, the cupboards, the bathroom…

Ayden settled back in the soft chair and watched like a pro~he was present for Riley’s birth process and remembers it well. Riley was establishing territory with Matthew and settling his doll on the windowsill, waiting for the “baby come out.” All three soon settled in reading stories. Brent was perfect labour support, he was very in tune with me and applied counter pressure to my back during contractions and rubbed my back in between whenever I asked him to. He was never far away. If he was occupied with one of the kids my mom filled in with counter pressure on my back.

It was interesting to me the amount of pressure I felt in my back during each contraction this time~my labour with Riley was almost all in the front. I didn’t have ‘back labour,’ because the pain was absent between contractions, and Amarys was in a good position (not posterior), but with every contraction my sacrum felt pulled with such force that it flexed in the middle. A few times I commented that it felt like my back was going to break in two pieces!

Brent’s mom and sister arrived and came into my room to say hello. Everyone was quiet and peaceful, but I like to have a number of supportive, loving family and friends around when I give birth so it was nice to feel like we filled the room and that there were a number of conversations going on at once.

When the I.V. antibiotics were started, I moved to my exercise ball on the floor by the bed. Early evening was generally the baby’s most active time of day, and so it wasn’t surprising that she started doing some major gymnastics at this point, causing her heart rate to increase to the 170s and 180s. Cathy recommended some time on the fetal monitor and I agreed. The monitor paddle kept being kicked by a very active baby and the sound made me giggle; “thwockathwockathwockaTHUMPBUMPthwockathwockaKKKKKTHUMPBUMP!” The movements were very visible. It was remarkable how everyone’s focus, even my own, moved from my body to the readout and noise coming from the monitor. We are a fairly low tech bunch of people who believe in physiological birth and a woman’s body knowing best and yet that machine is quite captivating! Once she settled down her heart rate returned to the mid 140s and stayed there, and Cathy removed the monitor. For me, as long as I stayed vertical, either sitting or standing, and I had counter pressure, my contractions were very manageable. The antibiotics finished and the ridiculous eighteen gauge gadget was removed from my hand. I was free! The kids went to a waiting area next to our room to watch a movie, and I emptied my bladder and then climbed in the enormous bathtub. WOW the tub was awesome! I loved the tub, I praised the tub, I determined I wanted to MARRY THE TUB! It was obviously designed for labouring women because it was enormous and deep. (Water births are not officially “allowed” at this hospital as yet, but this tub will be perfect once they are). The water really soothed me and helped me to maximize my hypnobirthing techniques to really get deeply relaxed during surges. It was still more comfortable for me to be upright so I mostly sat in the tub rather than lay down.

The best techniques that worked for me this time were counting backwards from ten, silently, and relaxing twice as much with each number. Usually by the count of six or seven, the height of that surge was finished and a few more breaths and it faded away. Sometimes the counting didn’t work so I would repeat, silently, “Relax, relax, relax,” or “Peace, peace, peace,” or if it was really intense, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” A few times I visualized my cervix melting away into the thinnest ribbon and lifting up and disappearing, and a few times I pictured that tree planted by the water in Jeremiah 17. Whenever I remembered that my friends and family were praying for me, I smiled, and a few times I laughed even during contractions if someone said something funny. Ina May mentions the dilating power of being positive in labour, so I tried to be as positive as I could. This really helped me, as did the Birthing From Within concept of non focused awareness, because last time noises really bothered me, but this time full conversations didn’t bother me, nor did the Doppler, nor did the camera. There were floaties in my tub, but they didn’t freak me out. My strong fear of germ contamination was totally absent. It really was incredible how peaceful it all was, and how calm and capable I felt.

The kids were in and out of the bathroom during the several hours I was in the tub. I lost all track of time on purpose, and didn’t want cervical checks because I try to get away from my left brained, measuring, logical brain during birth, particularly the active phase. Its better in my experience to get deeply engrossed in the present moment, it makes things easier to cope with. Counter pressure would have been helpful~before I got in the tub it brought my back pain from 7/10 down to 3/10 or less! But the tub was so large and deep that without his bathing suit it would have been awkward and pretty wet, and we forgot to pack Brent’s shorts. It wasn’t as bad in the tub, or I didn’t care as much, because I was managing well without the counter pressure. I ate my evening snack in the tub, a pear and some cashews. When we arrived, and later when I got out of the tub, Cathy had me test my blood sugar. It was high after that snack so she had me give myself four units of short acting insulin to bring it down a bit.

I was also working to stay hydrated, but at one point in the tub my water was too cold and each time I drank some of it, it gave me painful contractions. I asked for it to be warmed up and Cathy poured most of her peppermint tea into my water bottle: there’s a true example of midwifery care going above and beyond! I had expected warm tap water, but peppermint tea was infinitely better!

Suddenly, I hit an emotional wall, and I said, “Okay I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this anymore.” Part of this was deadpan humour, but the other part was dead serious. I knew I was near the end, I didn’t want to face greater intensity, and I did not want to push. Cathy reassured me that because I didn’t want to continue, it meant I was almost finished, and that I was doing really well. It was what I needed to hear. I told her I was afraid to push, and that I thought my vagina was too small to push out a baby, but she reassured me there, too, saying vaginas are built like accordions and designed to stretch. My mom reminded me of another analogy, where a tiny bud seems far too small to become a flower without violence or damage to the bud, but nature knows that full bloom is not only possible, but beautiful and natural.

After expressing not wanting to do this anymore, I felt bad for being negative and apologized for being whiney. Both Cathy and my mom laughed, because in general I was so quiet and peaceful, it didn't seem to them that I was being whiney at all. Cathy wanted me to get out of the tub for my second round of antibiotics and I kept saying, “Uh-huh,” but not actually doing it! I had been feeling pressure but not a strong urge to push, and I had a feeling the decreased gravity in the tub was keeping me from really feeling a strong urge to push. I didn’t want to get out of my nice, warm tub oasis, and I figured that once I got out I wouldn’t be able to get back in. I didn’t mind too much the idea of pushing outside the tub, although I had hoped to break hospital policy and just ‘accidentally’ give birth in the tub. This idea wasn’t something I felt strongly about but I couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t get out of the tub until it occurred to me that I was afraid to be cold. I remember the transitions in and out of the shower with Riley’s birth being quite uncomfortable. So I asked for some warm blankets to wrap around me when I climbed out, and they worked wonderfully. I went over to sit on the bed for the second round of antibiotics but realized I should empty my bladder again. While I was on the toilet I got really pushy, and I thought, “Well, lots of babies are born on the toilet!” Cathy didn’t want me to give birth while she was fiddling with an I.V, especially on the toilet, so she abandoned the I.V. and asked me to move to the bed. I did NOT want to be relegated to pushing on that darn bed like a beetle so I asked for the birth stool so I could be vertical while I was pushing. Both Cathy and myself anticipated this second stage to go quickly, so the second round of antibiotics was set aside as something we didn’t have time for. Ironically, I pushed for an hour! I spent about half that time on the birth stool, and it was very nice and peaceful with the lights low, my mom on one side of me, Brent on the other side, Cathy waiting watchfully and encouraging me, and Louise taking photos very unobtrusively and occasionally encouraging me also. Eventually my tailbone got tired of being compressed on the chair during each push and I felt that lying down would be better because I could rest more completely between pushes, so I requested to lie on my side on the bed.

It was remarkable to experience the difference between a first and second delivery with regards to pushing; it took me a long time and a lot of help and coaching to push Riley out, but this time my body transitioned into the second stage seamlessly, and I breathed through contractions until the urge to push was too strong to resist, and my body did it for me. Cathy said this is normal, to need coaching for pushing the first time but be able to follow your body in subsequent labours.

Eventually the second round of antibiotics was given to me by a nurse that I loved because (a) she used a smaller needle without hesitation, and (b) she was quick, thoughtful, and worked hard to ensure it went in my vein between contractions despite them being very close together at this point.

I breathed and moaned and Cathy said a few times that my still intact waters were bulging and that once they broke, the baby’s head would be right behind them. I felt them once with my hand, and it was like a balloon filled with water, but with seams in the balloon. Eventually I said, “Can you please break them [my membranes]? I’m a strong believer in letting them break on their own, but this is ridiculous!” Everyone laughed and Cathy tried to break them with her finger, but they were very strong so she needed an amnio hook. Right behind the waters, there was the head. When the baby’s head was crowning I swore, because the fullness was so intense and everything was stretched to its maximum. I think I was surprised that it stayed that way between contractions, and that is why I had such a strong reaction. I tend to be quiet in labour and turn inward very deeply, so it was funny that I laboured so silently and then hollered at the end! The experience of pushing this second time was far more coordinated and natural than the first time, and I just followed my body. The baby’s head emerged slowly and without tearing, with one loose loop of cord around the neck, but when her shoulders came out it was more difficult to control and I had a second degree tear. I had extensive tearing with Riley and scar tissue is not as strong as intact tissue so I wasn’t surprised, although Cathy was frustrated; we had worked together so well to ease the baby’s head out without trauma, and then the shoulders caused a tear!

I was so relieved that the baby was out! I reached down and Cathy passed her warm, slippery body to me, and I lifted it towards my chest. The cord was not long enough to come all the way up to my chest or for me to check if it was a boy or a girl, so we stayed cuddled up with her on my tummy while she was rubbed dry. She opened her eyes and let out a cry, and I was overcome with emotion and repeated, “You’re awake! You’re awake!” This moment made me realize that a small part of me was still emotionally wounded from Riley being born unconscious and needing resuscitation and immediate separation. This birth helped to heal that memory for me. My mom couldn’t wait any longer and checked~she jumped up and down and shouted “YES!!” so we knew it must be a girl!! Once the cord stopped pulsing Cathy clamped the cord and I cut it~our first time separated. I lifted her up to my chest and we stayed skin to skin for two hours, nursing and cuddling. It was perfect. I had knit her a hat, and she wore only the hat for two hours, and stayed on my skin under a towel and blanket acclimatizing to life on the outside.

The placenta took awhile to come, and although it had detached it was large and having difficulty coming out, so about half an hour after the birth Cathy proposed the idea of a shot of oxytocin to help expel it. We had been trying more natural methods, breastfeeding and being patient. I agreed to the shot and that did the trick; out came a large, healthy placenta.

Shortly after she was born, Brent went to tell the kids and grandma and auntie in the waiting room that we had a girl! The plan had been for the kids to be in the room when she was born, but it didn’t happen that way. They were very excited to have a sister though! And they had been a big part of the whole experience, so it was okay in the end. Brent gave them the choice to come in now, while there was still a lot of blood and the placenta yet to come out and suturing to do, or to wait until that was done. They opted to wait. By the time we were ready to call them in, Matthew and Riley had fallen asleep and they were so exhausted that we couldn’t wake them up for more than a quick peek, but Ayden was enraptured. We all were! It was a wonderful, joyful, peaceful birth and I am so grateful to have experienced it. And we are all grateful for our baby girl!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.

~John 14:27