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Sunday, October 30, 2011

where i am at

Friday, October 28, 2011

five weeks as a family of five

So our little Evergreen has been with us for five weeks now. And somehow, somewhere in that time, we have become a family of five. Little man now refers to her as "she" instead of "it" (which took reminder after reminder for several weeks) and just said to me "Our baby is the best baby in the whole world."

Melt.

Little miss has gotten the baby lingo down. "Oh, its okay, I gotcha, I am here, dont cry bebe. Oh, sweetie, its okay. Awww. So CUTE."

And we have had our moments of overly helpful siblings. Little man was left downstairs with baby for all of two minutes the other day (as I chased little miss upstairs to wrestle her into her pajamas) and suddenly I hear him in the living room, "Mom, the baby was crying."

And I hear a coo.

And I turn around and she is in his arms, fat little body dangling in front of him.

Yes, up the stairs. I kind of half laughed, choked and the kids looked at me and started laughing too until they saw the panic in my eyes. Then little man started crying, so I had to restrain and not yell.

He spent the next half an hour justifying his action "But mom, why would I drop her? I can carry this whole gallon of milk! She is barely heavy at all!" "Mom, why would I trip on the stairs, there isnt anything slippy on the stairs." Finally I had to leave it as "Its mama's job to take care of the crying baby. You shouldnt have to!"

Fun times.

Then yesterday I come into the living room to see little miss throwing the burp cloth over her shoulder. "Its okay bebe. You have burp? I can do it!" Uh oh.

But we have melded. When she tucks up in the sling for a nap and I can bustle around doing things taking care of kids etc I start feeling like something is missing. And then she wakes and coos (baby coos are lovely!) and smiles (so adoringly!) and lunges for me (she is totally going to be rolling over in the next month) well, then everything feels right.

And I guess that is why the posts are sparse these days (aside from how slow one-handed typing is!) I am just being. Here. In this moment. Drinking it in.

my girls




happy girl

talking to mama

photo by big brother


In other news...a visit to the pumpkin patch, er, parking lot, was very exciting. Pumpkin carving was accomplished (THANKS MOM AND DAD!). And my first post-baby crafty project, a leaf garland, was completed (cut out felt and fabric leaves, string up on yarn, done!)

so many!


first semi decent family shot


little man loved this (knives! scary faces!) little miss got bored
and came in... :)


leafy nature shelf and garland

bad photo but it turned out really cute

Saturday, October 22, 2011

in the woods

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...


  to front only the essential facts of life,

 and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,

 and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.


 I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear;


 nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.


  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,


 to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life,


 to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner,


 and reduce it to its lowest terms,


 and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world;

or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."

-Henry David Thoreau
Thursday, October 20, 2011

anti-recipe #40 cheesy chicken broccoli casserole

So, Monday, was feeling hopeful, yada yada yada. Was going to pre-bake this casserole (plus an extra one to freeze! Genius!) so when we got back from a doctors appointment at five I could finish it off in the oven for a few minutes and voila! Dinner!

Here is how it actually went down.

Baby crying, insists on being held, put her in the sling. Dump my chicken pieces (from a giant roasted chicken that I had deboned) into two 9x9 pans. Hmmm. Doesn't really look like enough for two casseroles. Oh well. Pre-cook two cups of frozen broccoli (and cauliflower). Get out milk and mayo to make white sauce. Measure out one cup milk and scrape out remainder of mayo. Totally not enough left. Dammit. Turn on heat (on low), mix in handful of flour. Turn off heat when children start fighting in the other room as baby simultaneously starts crying. Thirty minutes later come back in, bouncing baby in sling while barking at kids to get their shoes on to leave for appointment. Strain and dump veggies into casserole dishes. Dump veggies in casserole dishes. Layer in some American cheese. (don't be snobby! It melts the best!) Think hmmm, maybe rice would be good. Dump in some rice. (half a cup in each? Maybe less.) Think hmmm, should've precooked the rice. Dammit. Oh well. Whisk up sauce (slowly, on low, adding a pinch of flour at a time until its thick, like your mom taught you to do) Throw in a little salt and pepper. Scrape into casserole dishes. Realize the dishes are both half full. Bark at kids to get shoes on for Pete's sake! Dump contents of one pan into the other. Cover in tinfoil and throw in the fridge.

We totally ate McDonalds that night.

The NEXT night however we finished off the casserole. We added some more water, due to the lack of precooking the rice, maybe a cup. And then here is where you have to give in and be totally Midwestern with this casserole (AKA hotdish) because you top it with crumbled up crackers (Ritz!) or, er potato chips, which is totally what we did, plus some grated cheddar and a sprinkle of seasoned salt. Oh yea. All ready for the church potluck. HA.

Cover with tinfoil and bake for an hour at 350 or until rice is done (if you havent precooked the rice). (We forgot to cover it - and by we I mean dada - and it took an hour and a half until we - and by we I mean me - discovered this and covered it.)

Be prepared for delicious, creamy, Midwestern yummy-ness.

Reheat and eat leftovers for lunch the next day. YUM. EASY. (We fought over who got the last serving. I pulled the nursing mom card and won. Go me.)

And there you have it. Cooking with a newborn. It is possible. Kinda.
Monday, October 17, 2011

on a sunny monday

On a sunny Monday, anything is possible.

The weekend left me feeling fairly rested. I have already done the dishes (dont laugh, a big accomplishment these days-with no dishwasher mind you). I have meals planned out until Wednesday, and marked up on my little white board.

The baby is sleeping in her little bed. The big kids are watching a movie.

So I pour a big mug of tea and blog about how accomplished I feel. HA.
look at that little face!
But I do feel accomplished. It doesnt take much these days.

Can I be honest with you? This three kid thing is throwing me for a loop. I thought, baby in sling, get on with life. But I am tired. Always. We have thrush. Which hurts and makes baby even more fussy. (Not as fussy as little man, not as easy as little miss...) Somehow all the help has come and gone. Grateful for the help. Overwhelmed with the weeks looming ahead of me, until I figure this out. Did I mention being tired?

I also threw a huge pity party for myself one day last week over how I would never get a career figured out. All that grad school debt for nothing, poor me! And feeling insanely jealous of friends posting status updates from all over the globe, doing great work, while I sit here, squirting milk all over the place, shoving food in my mouth like a wild woman, wondering if I will ever fit into my old clothes, let alone have a reason to wear them. (I just reread my own post I linked to up there and it made me cry. Damn hormones. Are you ever astounded at what good advice you can give to yourself?)

This has turned into a whiney post.

Sorry. It wasnt supposed to be.

That is right, I forgot, I am feeling accomplished! And I am. But I have drastically lowered my standards. Which is what is required to feel accomplished, post baby. I only yelled at little man once this morning (ummm, he tossed a full cup of water at little miss because she put grapes in his cup...) Not bad. And he, despite a bad case of the grumpies, has only had one time out (after the grape water incident). Doing the dishes and de-boning a chicken (putting aside enough meat for tonight and two other meals!) were my achievements in the kitchen.

I was even fully dressed by 9:30am.

Wow-wee Sara! Dang girl. You are GOOD.

It is a hard balance between making it work and trying to be my former get-it-done self. One itty bitty step at a time I guess.

It is hard for me to lower my standards. Seriously. Maybe because my whole sense of accomplishment is wrapped up in this little house and its contents? Meals cooked, bread baked, how clean the floors are, how happy the kids are, how organized the damn playroom is. It seems ridiculous written out but that is what I DO. When I feel like I am not doing it well, well, it sucks. I like doing things well. I have that frustrating trait of being a perfectionist, albeit a lazy one. I like getting it all done and doing it well. Letting go of things that seem silly (such as the organized playroom) is exceedingly difficult for me. But I am learning. For sanity's sake. Close the playroom door. Keep the baby fed, the kids happy (and fed too, HA). That is enough.

And so the kids watch too much TV. And my Work In Progress goes untouched (and most likely unsubmitted). And my kitchen floor stays unswept for too long. But, but, but...I did do the dishes. And the sun is shining. And I have this round little sleepy baby face staring at me that I want to gobble up. And careers can wait. The floor can wait. This is good, now.
Saturday, October 15, 2011

three little birds by my doorstep...

every little thing is gonna be alright....right?

Monday, October 10, 2011

newborn days...

So I have been waiting for the craziness to settle down before posting. Get my feet underneath me again and all that. You don't want to read about me crying into my coffee at 11am begging dada to come home and rescue me, do you?

Turns out if I waited you may never get another post. Apparently crazy is here to stay.

Woah.

Seriously, I feel like half the mom I was pre-baby.

At first it was a relief to not be pregnant anymore, once the week of terrible tailbone pain was over (that birth was NOT easy on my body!) I can chase kids, do stuff around the house, etc. But that was when someone was around all the time to hold the baby. Once dada went back to work it was like, ummmm, how is this gonna happen?? My girl LOVES to be held. (The new one, that is) I am itching for the days when the sling is easy, right now she just like the wrap.

She is also a fan of the cluster feed.

Nurse. Burp. Poop. Nurse. Burp. Spit. Nurse. Burp. SLEEP. (Ah!)

None of this is condusive to parenting two energetic kids. I seriously need one of those baby pillows that Michelle Duggar wears, you know the TLC reality show lady with all the kids? It straps on over the chest, baby lies on it, and you can nurse and chase kids all at once. HA. Seriously I should buy one. Seriously.

My kids are feeling it too. The big ones that is. Little miss has given up napping, unless dada is home. Little man turns into a screeching banshee several times a day. Our time out step is getting a lot of action. SIGH.

I feel bad for them. The other night he says to little miss, "Mama can't read us books and build us forts anymore you know, cause of the baby, she just cant do the stuff she used to do." And then this afternoon I hear him say to her (after the 100th reminder to PLEASE BE QUIET THE BABY IS SLEEPING) "Why are our parents so grumpy all the time?"

Dude. Maybe if I could just sleep more than two hours in a row.
I dont remember the newborn days being so tough with little miss.

Perhaps I have blocked it out.

Although, it IS easier that the two older ones have each other. And having a five year old who can make bread and butter sandwiches and get out carrots (dinner the other night, HA HA) on his own, is quite useful.

Maybe its me? I did have a part time nanny after baby number two. I definitely don't now.

Maybe I expect more from myself now?

I don't know. I thought I would totally rock the three kid thing. Instead I feel like my little world has been rocked and I dont quite know which end is up anymore.

And its funny all the newborn things you forget. Smelling like someone dumped sour milk on you, mingled with sweat from profuse post-partum sweating. LOVELY. Bleary-eyed diaper changes. Finding poop under your fingernail or on your elbow (how did it get THERE??) three HOURS after changing a diaper. Never eating a hot meal. EVER. Crying over newborn clothes that are already too small. Doing everything one handed - typing, cutting apples, washing dishes.

But then again its the little things too, that are oh so good. How delighted you feel with that first real baby smile. Listening to your big daughter coo at the little one (she talks to her in this funny falsetto voice, "AAAAAWWW. You are SO CUUUUUTE. SO BOOTIFUL! OHH, I WUV you. AWWWW. SO CUTE." And little man with his adorable version of baby talk that sounds rather like a Californian surfer/stoner "Looking good today, not so red in your face! Gonna have some milk, HUH? All riiiiight.") And then the baby soft skin. Sweet little outfits. (Oh shoot, you puked on that one I just changed you into? Time for a new one! Quick, quick, before she weighs 15 lbs - like next week - and outgrows it all!) And that lovely new baby smell. Hmmm.

Huh. Usually I can talk myself into feeling more capable in these blog posts. Not working so much this time. Mainly I am just doing the day to day thing I guess. Trying to make it work. Trying to do the best I can. Hopefully by this time next month things will be easier? More restful? More peaceful? Maybe not?

Time for more coffee I think.




Some pictures of our week.......for grandmas, aunties and etc.

sisters

first bath - with eager "helpers"

comparing baby pictures, little miss and little man

first car ride

first sling

farmers market!

big fan of the moby wrap

attempting a family picture


Monday, October 3, 2011

the story of evergreen

NOTE: This is a birth story. That is, a story of a real birth. As such it has quite a few details that are, well, explicit. Be warned. And, to put it out there, I am generally not into oversharing on this blog. Believe it or not I am kind of a private person, as much as one can be when one blogs quite a bit, but I want to share this story 1)because people need to know the real shit that happens in birth, and that sure it can be scary BUT that doesnt mean it isn't worth doing, the best things in life require risk and daring from us, but that is what makes us stronger, more able, you know? Becoming a parent is all about this kind of risk...and 2) because I know many of you care deeply for me and my babies and my family and to honor that I want to share with you. Thanks for the love. ~ Sara

my biggest belly ever

All week my moods had shifted up and down. One day, hopeful it might be “the day” the next totally down. This baby is never coming out. Life sucks. Leave me alone. Friday was okay. My mom was really sick but my dad came up to hang out with us for the afternoon, as soon as he left my mood plummeted. I had been contracting every 10-15 minutes for two days, still nothing.

I will be pregnant forever.
Physically my body was ready to give out. With both kids coming a week early I had never been THIS pregnant before. I kept saying to my midwives how big the baby felt. Oh, no, they would say as they felt my belly, this baby is average, maybe 7-8 lbs. Don’t worry.

I wasn’t worried, I KNEW she was big.
And I wanted her OUT. NOW.

I had been taking walks in the evening to calm myself. Abandoning dada to the kids and dinner prep and nightly etc. and walking for 30+ minutes. I went out that night. A beautifully perfect fall evening. The light bouncing off of the trees, filtering the leaves as I pounded on, clump clump, like a hippopotamus, each step an effort. Down along the creek, up the hill, doing lunges, and finally headed home, in a slightly better mood.
We put the kids to bed and hung out, eating ice cream, drinking a little wine.

I woke up at 4am.
And Halleluiah, it felt different. These were REAL. Seven minutes apart, then five. I got out of bed and sat in the rocking chair in the dark of our bedroom, listening to the quiet rustles of dada and kids as they slept, almost enjoying each wave of pressure. This is happening. I can totally do this. YES!

I was trying to hold off waking up dada, knowing he had stayed up too late. But around 5:30 at 4 minutes apart I knew I should wake him.
“Steve. STEVE.”

“Huh? Wha?”
“Steve, I’m in labor.” I remember thinking that I sounded like a cliché from a movie, saying that.

“What?? really??”

Somewhere between throwing on some clothes and going upstairs he called our midwives. I was upstairs by the time they came, hunkered down in the family room, my head buried on a little coffee table. By this point my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, lasting more than 1 minute.
My sister and brother-in-law happened to be in town for a wedding, we had planned to spend the morning walking around the farmers market and going to breakfast. I texted her around 6. Um, when you get this, text Steve. I am in labor. Could you come hang out with the kids for the morning?

The kids woke up around 6:30. They both came up sleepy eyed but excited. Dada had told them the baby is coming. Little man’s face was the best. A big open mouth smile. They hung out watching PBS kids on their own, eating squeezie yogurts, until my sister arrived at 8am.
The tub was getting filled in the basement and that water sounded SO GOOD. I headed downstairs.

This part is all blurry. I found myself tearing off my pajamas and standing and swaying while leaning on little man’s dresser. People were trying to get me to eat and drink and I just didn’t want any of it. Leave me be. Let me work.
Sliding into the tub, around 7:30, was like heaven. The water was hot and such a relief. My three midwives perched on bar stools above me. For the next hour and a half, I just worked. I let them come.  I savored them. Easing in and out of each with deep breaths. And then I could feel my water break.

zen happy labor
the kids were well-prepped for the home birth. mama is
working hard, right little man?!
And then, after more than an hour of this, I started losing my cool zen place. Transition. I had the midwives confirm, 7-8 even 9cm. Nearly there. Thank God.
At one point I yelled at Steve, “I can’t not scream. Get the kids [and my slightly squeamish sister] outside!”

And then progress stopped.
And the urge to push started, as well as horrible back pain. I tried pushing a bit but nothing.

Why wasn’t I dilating??
Another midwife checked me. Still an edge of cervix left, preventing the baby’s head from crowning. She told me later she knew something was up with the baby’s position at this point.

You can’t push Sara. Not yet.
I started crying, a huge sob welling up from inside of me. “Noooooo. I can’t do it. No more. It needs to come out! “

“Focus Sara. Focus,” came the quiet urgings from somewhere above me. With each contraction – for 30 minutes - I was told to “blow it out,” with a raspberry/zerbert like breath. “Ptttttttthhhhhh. Pttttttttthhhh. Pant Pant Pant. Oh please God! PLEASE.” Steve held my hand. And then started pushing on my back to relieve the pain in between the surges. “Okay, now, now! No stop!” as the contractions came back.
Then they thought, lets hold the lip of cervix back during a contraction, as she pushes, maybe we can ease the cervix around the crown to release the baby’s head. We tried this for another 15-20 minutes, with no luck.

And yes, this was horribly painful.
And it didn’t work.

Everyone thought, lets get Sara out of the tub and let gravity pull that last bit of cervix away. Something was going on.
Getting out of the tub was agony. I DID NOT want to leave the comfort of that water. Heaving my huge body out, leaving the weightlessness, ugh. And then the step out of the tub, dripping onto the floor, leaning my head against the cool concrete walls of the basement. Surge. Oh God. Surge. Oh God.

Someone threw my robe over my shoulder.
I tried lunges, yelling in pain.

Sitting did nothing either.
They prepared our bed and I somehow mustered strength to walk the five steps into our room from the laundry/birth tub area of our downstairs.

Once in the bedroom I couldn’t figure out how to ease my body onto the bed. I was rigid. Somehow I flopped down, Steve by my side. Gripping my hand.
“Get her legs up. UP!”

The baby was crowning with each contraction, still that cervix held on. Why?
Then they reached in and felt for a face. She was posterior. Coming out looking up rather than down. Except she had started to turn, in the birth canal, her head corkscrewing, but her body had not done the same. She was stuck.

One midwife held one leg, Steve the other, and another midwife worked to push back the cervix.
“Just tell me what to do! What do I do??”

“Push Sara! PUSH. Whenever you can as hard as you can!!”
And finally, finally, her head comes out. I wait for the floppy slimy body to follow, easily with a second vaginal baby right?

Not easy.
I am shaking as I write this. Sitting in the semi-dark of our bedroom, in the same spot where she was born. Remembering.

“What is happening? Tell me what to do!”
“Hands and knees, turn her over. NOW.”

“I can’t!!”
“Sara, you have to. For your baby. Do it NOW.”

I summon up the energy that can only a woman has, energy that can only be tapped in childbirth, and flop over to my hands and knees, and then sink my face into the pillow, screaming in pain.
PUSH.

Hands inside of me, searching for a place to grab.
PUSH!

Steve yells in my ear, “GET IT SARA, GET IT.”
I push as hard as I have ever pushed.

“Put one leg up. NOW. DO IT.” I crouch in a starting runners position, forehead against the bedframe. I lunge. I push.
“OTHER SIDE. Now!”

Other leg, up. Pain. Scream. PUSH.
“Flip her over, she has to flip over. God.”

I come back to a lying position. Legs up. Two hands inside of me. Searching.
“I can’t grab the shoulders.” My other midwife scrambles. Suddenly I see the fear in their faces.

“Oh God,” I yell. “What is wrong??”
I push several more times, 7 minutes have passed, with a head hanging out of me, hands inside of me searching for a place to grip, to pull out the shoulders that are stuck vertically inside of my pelvis.

Finally, I see my midwife look up at the ceiling, feeling her way to the baby’s armpits.
“OPEN YOUR EYES. FOCUS SARA. PUSH NOW SARA. EVERYTHING YOU HAVE. I NEED YOUR HELP!”

“GET IT Sara. GET IT!”
“Open your eyes, focus on something. FOR YOUR BABY SARA.”

I find myself staring at our ceiling.

And I push. With everything I have. For my baby.
And then, the pain eases, the feeling of tearing and crunching is over, the body slides out from me. I feel its slimy presence pass through me.

I don’t ask if it’s a boy or girl. I simply cry out, “Give me my girl.”
They push her limp body up onto my chest.

She is blue. She isn’t moving.
“Talk to your baby. Tell her it’s okay.”

I rub her belly, her chest. All I can think to say is “Sugar, sugar! mama is here. You are safe. Sugar, my sugar. Breathe for me baby.”
One midwife leans over, placing her mouth over her nose and mouth. Puff. Puff. She comes up. Still no breath.

“Baby girl, mama is here. Breathe for me. We love you.”
Puff. Puff. Still no breath.

Puff, and then finally, a whimper, then a cry.

Oh. God. Thank you. Thank you.
I choke back the sobs of relief and pull her to me, her face to my face, urging her steady breathing.

Thank you God.
The cord was still pulsing, so she never lost any oxygen, and her heart never stopped, and she was breathing steadily on her own. She was safe. Her body had been posterior, her head had turned anterior to come down the birth canal but then rotated back to posterior, leaving her shoulders stuck vertically in my pelvis, unable to rotate, and her 9lb 14oz body stuck posterior inside of me.

My midwife later said she had witnessed a birth like this two years ago. The midwife who had stepped in to deliver that birth told her sometimes the only way to handle that situation is to reach in and “Pull like hell.”
Thank you God Thank you God Thank you God.

The paramedics had been called 3 minutes before she came out, just in case she needed more help being revived. They arrived 2 minutes after she had started breathing on her own. And while it was scary that they were in my bedroom, that their presence was deemed needed, I was so grateful for my cautious midwives to have called, just in case we needed transferred.

this is about as fuzzy as i remember that moment...
Thing is – and I say all this because I know people might wonder – this would’ve gone down exactly the same in a hospital. Doctors might have cut an episiotomy – although it was the bone of my pelvis she was stuck on, not any soft tissue - and she would have been revived on a crash cart, feet away from her mama’s skin, as four of my nephews and one of my siblings were for being stuck in similar ways. The only possible option not available to us might have been to push her back in, risking injury to her and me, and cut an emergency cesarean.
Oh, I am so grateful. My midwives have seen many of these cases, though this was the worst shoulder dystocia, as it is technically called, they have ever seen, and they knew what to do, though it was hard and scary. Unbeknownst to me they had been doing all sorts of maneuverings with technical names, squeezing hands across her chest and trying to flip her over, reaching for an arm to swing around and lead the shoulders out, and then (painfully) pushing above pubic bone as I pushed and another midwife pulled and rotated, which eventually is what worked to open my pelvis enough to deliver her shoulders VERTICALLY.  And then, as they revived her, they knew just what to do, and had done so many times before, and had her heart stopped they would’ve resuscitated her, and they even had an oxygen tank, just in case. But it was just a few puffs that my strong girl needed.

And now, a week later, I look at her little face, greedily swallowing milk, eyes squinted up at me, and I am oh so grateful, for them, for dada, for grace and mercy, for that angel that protects children in birth, and I am thankful for you, my sweet, strong, resilient Evergreen, full of life.
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