Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lucy's (Accidental Home) Birth

Lucy Marie has a birth story that has no photos of labor, the birth, or immediately after the birth, unlike my first two babies. Each labor and birth has certainly been different. This one needs to be written before I forget the details since I don't have immediate photos! This birth is also the one for which I feel the most gratitude to God for a safe and smooth delivery. I'm so thankful for the loving support of my husband and for his quick thinking and calm demeanor - without him, I don't know that I could have done this on my own! I am very fortunate that all my labors have been uncomplicated thus far, but in this one, it was certainly an important factor since Lucy was inadvertently born here at home!

For those who know me well, you may have known that I did desire a homebirth, just to avoid hospital interventions and because my first two births went so smoothly. Cecilia was needlessly separated from me for a few hours after her birth, and I very much wanted to avoid that happening again! However, I would only consider a homebirth with a midwife I trusted, one who had lots of experience and who I had heard good things about from friends. Well, do you know what a homebirth midwife who fits that description costs? $3000! Insurance doesn't cover a cent of it since it is technically illegal to be a homebirth midwife in the state of Georgia. A hospital birth, on the other hand, costs $750 for labor and delivery on our insurance plan, and the hospital stay costs have come out around maybe $500 for the first two births. So, I resigned myself to a third hospital birth, reassured by Chris's reminders that my first two labors went smoothly and that we could likely avoid most interventions this time as well. I certainly would not plan to have an unattended homebirth... even with no complications during pregnancy, I wanted to have somebody there who'd had plenty of experience attending many births and who could help if any problems did arise. So I certainly did not intend for Lucy to be born with only my husband, my mother, and our older children in the house!

Labor began around 6:20 that morning with strong but very tolerable contractions about every ten minutes. I waited until just after 7:00 before calling my mom to tell her that it seemed like real labor, so she could come on up to be with the girls while labor got harder and then when we went to the hospital. Chris made our breakfast, and I ate a fried egg and some toast with strawberry jelly. I spilled some runny egg yolk on my placemat... just a random tidbit in the story. I found myself having to pause with the contractions through breakfast and put my head down and stop talking. The contractions began coming closer together at this time, too. After breakfast, I laid down for awhile to see if they would keep coming at the same rate... and they slowed down. They began coming every ten, sometimes every twelve minutes apart. So we decided at this point that we didn't need to take the girls to the neighbors' house and could wait for my mom to arrive.

Once my mom got here around 10:00, Chris encouraged me to get up since the contractions were not getting any closer together after an hour of laying still. They were getting harder to get through because they were long - a minute and a half and more - but still ten minutes apart. So I got up and walked to the living room with Chris's help. The contractions started coming much closer together... about every four to six minutes. However, they were shorter now... still intense, but lasting only 40 seconds to a minute each. After an hour of being up, I laid down again, thinking that if they kept coming then we'd be leaving for the hospital. But again, they slowed to coming every nine to ten minutes.. I only had seven contractions over the entire 11:00 hour. They were longer again, some around two minutes, and I was entering into the mindset of not being able to endure any more... they were extremely painful at this point and difficult to relax through. I wanted to go to the hospital, but Chris reminded me that the contractions were coming pretty far apart still and we didn't want to go too early. My water hadn't broken, and I needed to get back up so labor could progress and then we could go. My mind was confused... I had the head knowledge that when contractions are coming ten minutes apart, then it's too early... but then why was I feeling like giving up and that I couldn't do this any more (which is an emotional sign that you're getting toward the end)? I was really discouraged that the contractions were spaced out so far, because it seemed like a lot of pain for little progress (oh, but little did I know!). Chris had been wiping my forehead with a cool wet washcloth between contractions, as I was feeling very warm with some of them. I knew I should get up to help things along, but I was actually resting and dozing between contractions and was hesitant to move. Never did I express the desire to just stay home, which many women say when they are going through the hardest part of labor, shortly before the pushing stage of labor... but looking back, maybe this reluctance to move was a sign.

Our contraction log book... same notebook Chris used to record things during Cecilia's labor. He got it at a conference for work, and other than that, I think we've only used it for recording labor contractions!

Once I did get up shortly after noon, contractions began coming closer together again, and they were shorter again as well... most were now lasting around a minute each. They were getting to be around every five minutes apart. I was sitting up on the edge of the bed and leaning back on Chris, who was sitting behind me to support me as I tried to relax and melt back into his arms with each contraction... relaxing my body was very difficult at this point. Chris had gotten me some peanut butter crackers and was encouraging me to eat some and take sips of water... During Caroline's labor, I didn't want to eat hardly anything, and since it was a long labor, I didn't have much energy by the end and even blacked out briefly when I first stood up after her birth. We wanted to avoid that again! So I ate and sipped between contractions, and my mom was making macaroni and cheese for the girls. She was making enough for Chris and herself as well so he could eat something before we left for the hospital.

So, having been through Bradley Method childbirth classes before Caroline's birth (and having reviewed our books and materials over the past few weeks), we knew the things we should be looking for in deciding when to leave for the hospital. These classes are very thorough, lasting 12 weeks, and they are also referred to as "husband-coached childbirth," involving the husbands in aiding their wives through labor. We knew we were seeing some of the signs: the self-doubt I was expressing, for instance. However, another suggestion is to wait for 4-1-1: contractions every four minutes, lasting at least one minute each, and coming consistently for an hour. We'd almost met that before when they were coming about every five minutes, until I laid down and they spaced back out. In any event, I hoped that we were getting close!

Our childbirth books which we'd been reviewing over the past few weeks... such a good thing to have had this kind of information and a husband who was willing and able to be involved to this degree! Chris has been instrumental in each one of our babies' births.

After about 45 minutes, Chris reminded me to use the bathroom - one of the many jobs of the labor coach, as it is an important thing to do! And, as other moms who have done this before may be able to relate, the position when sitting on a toilet can help labor to progress since it helps to open up the pelvis.

Well, my pelvis had apparently already opened up... so that's why those last few contractions while sitting up in bed were being felt down through my outer thighs, I realize in retrospect (at the time, all I could say was, "These are weird, Chris, my legs are hurting and it doesn't feel right!"). After a few contractions while on the toilet, I broke down and said, "I'm so scared we're not going to make it to the hospital!" Chris says it was just about this time he was thinking we needed to leave. Our bag was already packed, of course (had been for two weeks!) and we just needed to put my wallet and phone in, along with the white noise machine (in an attempt to get some rest in the hospital - ha!). Since my water hadn't broken, I think we both thought I was still going through transition and had a bit more time. Often there is also a pause of many minutes between labor contractions and pushing contractions. But suddenly, I felt the urge to push and told Chris. He was saying for me to get up so we could leave, but I said I was going to give a small push (this may be too much information for some, but if you are a woman who has given birth, you probably remember that the urge to push in labor feels similar to pushing when using the toilet, and so my giving a small push was hoping to be able to get anything out before getting off the toilet!). With the small push I gave, I knew it was an actual pushing urge because I began to feel her head ready to emerge, and I said, "The baby's head is there, she's coming!!!" This was the point at which all fear left me and instinct totally kicked in... the baby was going to be born, and we just had to let her come!

The last two crackers in the package from which I was snacking just moments before the birth.

So Chris had me stand up and he could tell the baby's head was right there too... as I stood up, I remember grabbing and pulling up on the toilet paper roll and towel rod, both of which I pulled off the wall... I had actually done that to the towel rod a few times already by using it to support myself with my back pain during pregnancy! Chris said I had planted my feet and wasn't able to move, and apparently I cried out, "I can't walk!" Chris had gotten me up so the baby wouldn't be born in the toilet, but his next step was to get me into an actual pushing position so I wasn't just standing in the bathroom. As I took a couple steps into our bedroom, I felt the totally uncontrollable urge to push, and as I got down on my hands and knees, I could feel the baby's head crowning and the instant relief that came with it as I gave an effortless push. As I got down on the floor, I grabbed the comforter from the foot of our bed and pulled it down under my chest and between my legs so there was something other than the rug and hardwood floor... of course, Chris was behind me ready to catch the baby, but having the comforter there gave some padding in case it was needed (and ended up being great for me to sit back on after she was born).

Lucy's birthplace... right there in front of the vent, pretty much.

My mom heard that something was up by this point and came down the hall to see what was going on... she looked in and Chris called to her, "The baby's coming," and I added, "Call 911!" Her response as she rushed back down the hall was, "I told you not to wait too long!!!" Yes, wasn't that what everybody had been telling us, including ourselves? So I pushed Lucy's head out (she was facing my left leg, away from Chris, who was on the right side of me), and one more push after that and she was out - in an intact bag of waters, of course, since the water never broke. This is a relatively rare occurrence and surprised me: the water broke with Caroline while I was pushing (but I pushed for almost an hour and a half with her), and it broke early on with Cecilia, kickstarting my short period of active labor before pushing for about 20 minutes to get her out. This time, pushing lasted about two minutes! And I think I only pushed four times, one of which was a weak "practice" push.

Chris was holding Lucy still in the bag of waters, looking to see if there was a spot where it had begun to tear. He said it was like a balloon stretched around her, and the amniotic fluid was down in the bottom of it as he held her. My mom was in the doorway on the phone with 911, and after giving them our address, she asked, "Is she breathing?" I had felt such relief at pushing her out that I felt no worry, but then I started asking, "Is she okay???" I think Chris asked if he should be breaking the water, and my mom said, "Yes," and the next thing I knew, Chris was passing a sputtering baby under me and up onto my chest as I leaned back. She was making little coughing sounds as she took her first breaths... Chris had pulled the sac off and had tilted her upside down and tapped her back, and she began breathing. She was totally covered in vernix, which I began rubbing into her skin as I held her close to warm her. My mom brought a couple towels to drape over her to keep her warm and dry her on me. She was crying a bit, not loudly, but in a way that we knew her breathing was fine. At the moment I held her and heard the snuffling noises, I knew everything was okay. The paramedics arrived just a few minutes after she was born... two ambulances and five paramedics had come because they had all been just down the street eating at a local buffet restaurant! The apparently told the restaurant staff, "Don't worry, we'll come back and eat when we're done!"

Caroline and Cecilia had been eating lunch while all this happened, my mom later told me. She said they were wondering about what was going on, so she told them to just wait in the living room... then she had them go out on the porch and wait for the ambulance and wave when they saw it coming, which they enjoyed doing, apparently.

The cord had stopped pulsing, so one of the paramedics clamped it, and Chris cut it with a knife-like tool which they had. They helped dry her a bit more and then helped me stand up with Lucy and get onto a stretcher they had brought into the hallway. Another warning about semi-graphic childbirth details here... it sure feels weird to walk with an umbillical cord hanging out of you! I didn't look back at the comforter... all I'd seen was a spot of blood on the wall which must have been on Chris's hand or something. But my mom's later words to me as I talked on the phone to her from the hospital were, "Erin, that comforter is shot. I'm buying you a new one!"

I had the presence of mind to ask somebody to grab a hat for Lucy as we were headed down the hall. Chris found the Pooh Bear hat I described and we put it on her head to help keep her warm. Caroline and Cecilia had been down the hall the whole time, and I got to see them briefly and say that the baby just came so fast, and that we'd be going to the hospital so we could get checked out. The girls got a brief glimpse of their baby sister and said hi to her. After we left, my mom said Caroline got upset and was crying that the baby didn't wait until we went to the hospital... she likes things to happen in the way we are expecting them to happen. Cecilia, on the other hand, simply said, "But she just came too fast!"

Lucy gets checked out by the nurses and NICU staff right there next to me in the labor and delivery room.

So Lucy got to take her first car ride at about 15-ish minutes old in the back of an ambulance on my chest, covered up and making her first attempts at nursing. Chris grabbed our bag and last few things we needed and rode up front. The paramedics helped me keep blankets over Lucy... they'd swapped out the wet towels in our house for some blankets. They also put a huge piece of foil over the blankets to help insulate her. We even had the siren on and everything... Chris said at one point they hit 60 mph on our 40 mph main road to the hospital! There was no emergency, but I guess they just wanted to get us there quickly just in case (and because they wanted to go back to lunch, maybe? ;).

They took us in through the emergency entrance and up to maternity, where they'd been having a quiet day despite the fact that it was a Monday and there would be a full moon that night! We went straight down the hall into a labor and delivery room, where they could check us out. They checked Lucy's vitals while she was still on me... we'd done a good job keeping her warm because her temp was 97.5. I had been rubbing her feet under the blankets the whole ride to the hospital. She had looked a little purple at birth and had pinked up nicely on the ride, but she began looking a little purple again, and her oxygenation levels were slightly low, so they put her under a warmer in the room there with us and checked her out, gave her a brief breath of oxygen, and she was back on my chest after about ten or so minutes of them checking her out. All done in the room... the hospital has made some great changes to do as much as possible in the rooms and to keep mothers and babies together. I was very impressed with how they did this! They didn't even weigh her yet at this point... they said they could do it - in the room - whenever we were ready. Lucy was nursing again, so we waited until she had gotten a good long time on me before checking her weight and length: 7 lbs. 7.2 oz. and 20.5 inches long. By this time we had looked over her thoroughly and I was commenting on her hair - it appeared to be light brown with maybe a bit of red in it, lighter than our first two babies' hair had been at birth.

Beautiful baby Lucy Marie!

One of the OBs from my practice had come in by this time and was sitting around waiting for the placenta... he joked when he got in the room that he was worn out because he wasn't used to running, ha ha (he's great at making deadpan jokes... when a friend of mine gave birth, he said in a monotone voice as he placed her son in her arms, "Oh, look, it's a baby."). And here's a part that those who are squeamish about blood and birth details may want to skip, so you have been warned... The OB helped with the placenta delivery and then checked me... no tears at all! This is the first time, because I had torn somewhat badly with my first birth (they had said it was a first degree tear but borderline on being 2nd degree), and then it was repaired somewhat badly, and with the second birth we knew it would tear at least slightly in the area where it hadn't been totally repaired. But this time, nothing! Very brief pushing stage on hands and knees seems to be the way to go for me! Chris had said he didn't notice any tearing when she was born, and the doctor was able to confirm that. He said, "Only papercuts," meaning minor abrasions. I must say that this recovery has been so much easier, too. No swelling, only minor irritation rather than pain. Also, for what it's worth, there has been less bleeding this time around... I am now at almost a week since the birth. Of course the uterine contractions which work to shrink the uterus back to its normal size were painful, as they are supposed to be (lets you know they're working right!)... apparently they get a little stronger with each birth. But even those have subsided now. There is just an achy feeling, particularly after I have been laying down all night.

Big sisters meet Lucy for the first time

Another thing which I am sure eased our recovery was the fact that we had gotten sleep the night before! Chris and I went to bed around 11ish and slept until 6:15ish when labor began... with the past births, we'd not gotten much sleep at all, and it really wiped us out compared to this time. It was such a nice change to be in my postpartum room in the hospital a few hours after the birth, looking out the window at a gorgeous, clear blue sky... what a beautiful day to be born, and on the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, from whom Lucy's middle name comes. She was actually born on her due date - imagine that!

Proud sister Caroline!

So, the changes being made in this hospital are great... along with the things I already mentioned, they were switching over to having mother-baby nurses, meaning one nurse for each pair rather than a separate nurse for the baby than the mother. This is brand-new, and so at one point I did have a separate baby nurse coming in every two hours all night to check Lucy's temperature and skin color... and the lab tech came in at 4am saying, "Good morning!" Morning??? Ha! But the nurses were cheerful and helpful, and overall we had a happy stay. But it's almost impossible to get any rest in a hospital, so we were hoping to check out after 24 hours.

Lucy was able to be checked by the pediatrician in the morning - Chris took her to the nursery where they like to do their checks. All looked great with her, and she said we could check out after 1:00 as long as Lucy urinated before then, which she did. The nurses clipped her umbillical stump a little shorter... it was kind of long and had a huge clamp because that's the kind the paramedics carry in the ambulance. So the nurse tied it off with string instead of putting on another clamp since we'd be going home soon.

the whole family!

My mom brought the older girls to visit us later in the afternoon. They stopped at Kroger and got balloons and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They'd had fun letting Gramma do their hair with new hairbands, and Cecilia told me that Gramma put our comforter in the bathtub to soak... which didn't help, but oh, well! They brought Arby's for Chris, since he hadn't eaten much... although we did break out our snacks as soon as we were in the labor and delivery room getting checked: orange juice, granola bars, crackers (both peanut butter and cheese), and that yummy True North nut cluster trail mix stuff... one of the nurses seemed amused that we'd brought our own snacks! Having only delivered at night before (when no meals are served in the hospital!), we definitely had food ready in our bag! Anyway, my mom brought me an Arby's sandwich as well, even though I got dinner from the hospital food service. Giving birth takes a lot of energy, so I saved my Arby's sandwich for an evening snack, since dinner comes around 5:30 in the hospital. Chris rode back home with my mom to get his car, since he hadn't brought it!

The next day, Gramma and the girls came to visit again, and Grampa and Gran and Grandad came to visit us and meet Lucy too. I took a shower shortly before they came... I waited a long time this time, having read more on birth in recent years. Did you know that when the baby is placed on the mother's abdomen after birth, the amniotic fluid gets on the mother's skin, and the baby is more comfortable there with the familiar smell... and it helps also to postpone the bathing of the infant. So Lucy didn't have a bath in the hospital at all... in fact, we finally bathed her on Saturday here at home, when she was five days old.

Daddy and baby... how lucky he is to have four girls who love him! ;)

Looking back, I am so grateful for a smooth birth and that even though it didn't go according to plan, we are healthy and safe and happy, and we were able to have another natural birth, even if it was in a different way! Baby Lucy was born in an intact bag of waters for a reason, I think: it kept her safe and secure for her speedy arrival into the world, and it kept her umbillical cord where it needed to be. Chris and I had been praying for strength for a good labor and a happy delivery for Lucy, just as we did for our other children while pregnant with them.

I had been reading a book to the older girls during the pregnancy, and Cecilia in particular was fascinated with it. It is called Angel in the Waters and is a beautiful pro-life children's story which tells about the baby growing from the beginning as a teeny baby until the birth, and then beginning life on the outside of the womb. The baby's guardian angel is with him throughout the story, right from conception. The book keeps mentioning that the angel is there in the waters with the baby, and then when labor is occurring, the baby is sad because the waters all left. The baby finds that after being born, his angel is still there with him. I thought it was neat how Lucy kept the waters with her, cushioning her through the delivery, and her guardian angel was right there with her, watching over and protecting her!

I am so grateful for my wonderful husband who helped us through this amazingly - he kept his cool and acted in a way that was perfect, like he knew exactly what to do (and he did!). His calm confidence helped me tremendously. I'm so glad we had both been through intensive childbirth education and that Chris was so involved in it. We'd even learned about preparing for emergency childbirth, and while we'd put towels and blankets in the car "just in case," we hadn't anticipated this! And while I wouldn't recommend planning to do it this way, there is something so incredible about having the man you love single-handedly bringing your child from the womb to the world (well, okay, Lucy and I helped too ;). He brought her out, removed the sac, and helped her take her very first breath of air before placing her on my belly, wet and tiny and snuffling. So in this week after Lucy's birth, I'm just overcome with love for her Daddy each time I look at him and when I see him interacting with his third baby girl. I'm going to cry when he has to go back to work in the morning! Lucy will grow up knowing the story of her birth and be smitten with her Daddy! I think he's going to write his own version of the birth story as well - which is good since I am not always an expert at remembering details! We had a very restful week at home... well, Wednesday through Sunday on our own, getting used to life as a family of five with one being a tiny newborn. We took it easy and just enjoyed all being together, having lunch together on the patio and getting some time in this beautiful weather! Lucy Marie, you picked a great week to be born!

Look at that blue sky beyond our flowers in the hospital postpartum room!

our flowers back at home, gracing our table as a centerpiece for as long as they will last!

Giving my third baby a kiss on her tiny soft head

the girls picked this out for the mailbox!

Lucy with the man we love

Welcome, Lucy Marie! We love you, little miracle! What a precious gift from God!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

She's Here!

Lucy Marie arrived into this world on Monday, September 12, 2011, the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. She was born at home (!!!) and weighed in at 7 lbs 7.2 oz and measuring 20.5 inches long. Mom and baby are healthy and doing great, home from a hospital visit to get checked out and make sure everything was normal.

Birth story to follow soon!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nature Club

Our nature club met for the second time at the creek where we met before. The weather had cooled off a lot and we'd just had some heavy rain after about a month with zero rainfall, so we thought it would be interesting to observe the changes there... and this would be a good time to take advantage of the last chance to do a nature club outing before the baby is born. Any day now...

The kids spent some time observing the stream, but there were less minnows this time, and they were harder to catch. So we walked down the stream and spotted many interesting things:

(anyone know what this thing is??)

we're going to have to do some research to figure out what this flower is called

This was interesting... I had never seen these sweet gum balls on the ground when they were green. We assumed that the wind during the heavy rains caused several of them to fall from the trees before they would have otherwise come off on their own.

The kids took some time to consult their field guides and make some sketches.

trying to identify the beetle...

Caroline makes a rubbing of a fern

A tiger swallowtail butterfly floated by on a breeze.. it just so happens that it is our state butterfly. Caroline found it in the field guide and sketched/labeled it in her notebook.

Cecilia may be our family naturalist... she went slowly along the creek, stopping to pick up various seeds, rocks, a muscadine... and then she spent the longest time sketching in her notebook. She drew the beetle, and us walking along, and then later she sketched some pinestraw. I was thankful for her slower pace... it was all I could manage, ha ha!

Here's the whole nature club... just now noticing they are all a bunch of blondies except for one of mine!

They are excited about their club... Caroline came home and made some sort of sign-in sheets for each family in the club. Not sure how they work or what she plans to do with them... we may have to structure it so that we devote at least the first hour to nature observation and then give them a half hour or more (depending on our schedules) to just play and have their own "nature meetings," which I think is what Caroline made those sheets for...

This used to be our "nature shelf." It was too high up and narrow and just got cluttered with dirt, basically... so I turned it into Caroline's very own "chapter book shelf." After reading her a chapter book, I put it on this shelf, because she likes to reread them a lot. She also loves these old school readers... s we have some of those there as well.

With our nature study club, I figured it was time to make a better, more serious nature shelf... so I took this old flat basket and lined it with a red playsilk (I figure I can change the color based on the season... red for fall leaves in this case, even though it's not really fall here yet!)...

...and I put all our recent nature finds in it. It is on a lower shelf now, where Cecilia can see it well. I have other things they have found in the past... rocks, feathers, acorns, a bird's nest... and I need to figure out how to arrange them as well. Any ideas? If anyone else has a nature corner, I'd love to see photos of how you have it set up!

Friday, September 09, 2011

September Feast Days

We have begun September by celebrating several feast days... figuring I'll get them in before I have a newborn and end up not celebrating anything until Christmas! ;-P

September 5th was the feast day of Blessed Mother Teresa. We took a whole day... on September 2nd - t learn about her. We read a few books from the library, one of which Caroline retold to me. Then we printed her narration of the story and she made a page for her liturgical year binder along with a coloring page from Fenestrae Fidei and some copywork she chose from the book... a quote from mother Teresa.

Caroline reading one of the books

We made banana bread with an Indian touch... chai banana bread, along with chai smooties. The smoothies were not my favorite... they also had banana in them. I love Oregon Chai mixed with milk, but it's pricy to keep buying it, so I haven't had any in a very long time!

We had our chai-themed snacks at teatime, where we read a couple Mother Teresa stories.

We also did some mapwork... we are plotting saint and historical figures/places on a world map and locating them on our globe. Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia, so we plotted that, and then we plotted Calcutta, where she did all her work as a nun. She began studying to become a nun in Ireland, actually... so we followed the route she took from Ireland to Calcutta. She actually sailed through the Mediterranean Sea and then the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean. It was interesting to follow the path she took!

On another day, we made this craft from the Seton Art 1 book. The dedication for the month of September is the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The girls colored an image of Mary and hearts containing each of the Seven Sorrows.

They also used our Seven Sorrows activity, which has photos from the Our Lady of La Leche shrine in St. Augustine... they have carvings of each of the sorrows, and I printed the photos and made matching labels. The girls match them up after putting them in order.

Here is Caroline with her finished project... we hung them on the china cabinet.

Then yesterday, we celebrated Mary's birthday. We did as we have for the past two years... made a blueberry cheesecake. We said our family decade of the rosary at the table after dinner, lighting a candle with each of the ten Hail Marys prayed.

Cecilia has recently begun leading a couple of Hail Marys each evening!

Then we sang Happy Birthday to Mary.. like we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus at Christmas - and then...

...the girls blew out the candles! This reminds me to add birthday candles to my grocery list for tomorrow... looks like Baby Lucy is going to let me have at least one more of my weekend trips to Wal-Mart and Kroger!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Daybook for September 5 ~ Waiting for Baby Edition

Outside my window... dark and rainy. It has been raining all day long, which is great since it hasn't rained here in weeks... maybe a month! We spent a leisurely Labor Day at home, doing some light schooling, starting a big puzzle, Chris and Caroline played a 90 minute game of Scrabble while I took a nap... nice rainy day activities!

I am thinking... about the baby. The due date is next week... Sunday or Monday. I am ready. Emotionally, that is... there are still some things to do around here, but nothing major. I am at the point now where, although still enjoying her movements and subtle presence within me, I am visualizing holding her against my chest as a tiny, naked newborn. I don't remember having quite the same feeling with past pregnancies, the visualizing in my mind... waiting to enjoy her and spend lots of time relaxing with her. Maybe that's just a dream, ha ha, to get lots of time to just lay around in bed with my new baby, but I am certainly going to try to spend as much time as possible doing this, as long as I have other adult help in the home with me!

I am wondering... when labor will really begin. I have been having practice contractions off and on, hopefully doing some good prep work for me. I am also wondering how fast she will come and how stressful it will be to get the kids into other people's care before we rush off to the hospital. Our neighbors across the street said they would come over if we wake up in the middle of the night and need to go ASAP, before my mom can make the drive up here (a bit over an hour) to stay with the kids while we're gone. I called her today and reminded her to go ahead and start packing a bag!

I'm also wondering if I will be able to make it to our consignment sales this year... the three closest ones are all the same weekend - one week after the baby is due, of course! I have her set on clothing pretty much, but the older girls both need a few pairs of jeans. Even if I have to go to a sale with a one week old, I guess I can handle it just looking for a few pairs of pants and keeping my eyes open for playdresses for Caroline, something that is harder and harder to find as she gets older, but which she loves.

I am praying... for a peaceful, healthy, birth and as few interventions and interruptions as possible so that our baby can have a calm beginning to her life on the outside.

I am thankful... for each and every movement inside me. For an extremely helpful husband who will support me through the birth and take care of details at home in the newborn period: groceries, dishes, cooking, cleaning. He's awesome!

I am hearing... the sound of light rain outside, and the TV, which Chris just turned on... not sure what's on yet, though. Oh, it's The Karate Kid. Wow, that takes me back...

Learning at home... We have finished seven weeks of school now. I have been drafting some ideas for loose schooling plans once the baby is here... some reading and retelling of gentle nature stories, some lapbooking on Things We See at Mass, some picture study, liturgical year crafts, maybe some fine motor fun stuff like play-doh and such...

From the kitchen... some easier stuff for this week, mostly. We had chicken pot pie last night - yum!! Chris and Caroline made it together. On Thursday, hopefully, we'll make a blueberry cheesecake for Mary'd birthday! We had our small dinner group from church over on Saturday, and Chris grilled some pretty rockin' fajita meat!

I am reading... Bradley childbirth materials with Chris, as a refresher. Need to get off here and go read some in bed for a bit... Also have a Charlotte Mason Companion and Siblings without Rivalry lined up to read some hopefully during the postpartum period

To live the liturgical year... This month's dedication is the Seven Sorrows of Mary. We reviewed them with our photo cards which we took at the Our Lady of La Leche Shrine last year. Then we did a craft out of the Seton Art 1 book. Later this week, we hope to make a craft from the same book for the Triumph of the Cross. We'll also read about St. Peter Claver this Friday on his feast day and do some copywork and a coloring page of him. Today is the feast day for Blessed Mother Teresa, so last Friday, we used the day to read about her, locate her birthplace and follow her travels on a world map and a globe, do a craft and copywork about her, and bake a recipe with an Indian twist: chai banana bread, which we had for tea time along with banana chai smoothies.

One of my favorite things... babies!

I am creating... I think I have created most everything I need for this school year. I printed off some supplies for lapbooking yesterday, and I just need to create a few last Old Testament lessons. I also need to type up a few journal topics on a list for Caroline, and sew a decorative cuff on some pants for Cecilia so they'll be long enough for her this fall. I also created a preliminary birth announcement and have been working on a list for the baby's baptism celebration!

Around the house... cleaned out and organized my underwear drawer tonight - exciting stuff, huh? I've also been cleaning out some things and have a bag to donate. We have been keeping up on laundry... washed some nursing articles yesterday. Some things just won't happen before the birth... dusting, cleaning out the microwave, straightening the girls' closet, and cleaning the windows (which has been on the list since spring cleaning ha ha). That's okay. Our house is sanitary and not very cluttered, which are the most important things.

A few plans for the rest of the week... oh, gosh, if I wasn't in this baby-visualizing dreamland bliss, I'd be stressing right now... we have ballet lessons beginning tomorrow for Caroline. She is so excited! She'll be in class with two friends and hopefully will catch up to what the others know, as this will be her first year taking dance lessons. Then on Wednesday, our church's PSR classes begin in the evening... 6:30-7:45 every Wednesday evening. We also have an OB appointment Wednesday morning and OT at noon that same day. We'll be having all these things repeat every week or two (except OB appointments!) for awhile... yikes, it will be busy on top of having a new baby!

A picture thought I am sharing... none for now, going to get to bed!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Nesting, Nesting...

Fresh, clean, newborn diapers on the line!

I love the look of all the itty bitty cloth diapers out in the sun... Caroline and Cecilia helped me hang them up one morning earlier this week. Good fine motor work, those clothespins.

I have been getting into serious nesting mode in the past couple weeks... baby Lucy's 0-3 month clothes had all been sorted and washed and put away a couple months ago, but we hadn't done much otherwise. So I pulled all the cloth diapers out from under the bathroom sink, where they'd been stored in the cabinet there... I washed them all to freshen them up, trying something new in the wash - Bac-Out. It is a stain and odor eliminator, all-natural, and recommended by some for keeping diapers fresh, They smelled much fresher when they came out of the wash, so here's hoping it works well! I did dry them all in the dryer - high heat also helps eliminate germs - and then put them out in the sun for good measure. It freshens them up some more and gives them a good airing, and the sun also kills icky things like yeast and helps to fade stains.

All ready to make baby Lucy have a fluffy bum!

Here's the pile of diapers after I pulled them out of the cabinet before washing... while I was under there, I noticed some junk that had accumulated under the sink. Things like partially-used soaps, old knick-knacks, a mostly-empty, crusty bottle of Softsoap that my mom bought for me ten years ago when I first moved into the duplex... stuff that needed to go. So I cleaned that out while i was in there, just because.

Chris climbed up into the attic with Caroline to retrieve the bouncy seat... it had been wrapped in a large kitchen garbage bag, so it was still in good shape. I removed the fabric and put it through the washing machine. Now to get new batteries, because it plays music but does not vibrate currently... if the vibrate function is broken, hmm, I don't know if we need to do anything about that, since I don't think my previous babies have cared one way or another... they just didn't like bouncy seats much either way. But it is a nice handy place to set the baby when I need my hands free. The baby swing is still in the attic... we never got it out for Cecilia, so I don't know if we will this time or not... guess we'll wait and see.

There are also packs of newborn and size 1 disposables here for the early weeks and going out anywhere. I love the Target diapers (both for price and function), but I have never tried them on a newborn. I also got the huge crate of wipes since we have none left from Cecilia. They don't sell newborn and size 1 diapers in "family packs," apparently... I think it is hilarious that Target use to call the cases of diapers "family packs." Like you buy a package of size 3 diapers for use by several members of your family.... I think they changed the name recently to something like super pack...

Here's my beginnings of packing for the hospital. Ugh, I hate going to the hospital while in transition... not too comfy, you know? Maybe we can make it a bit before this time... doubtful, given the super-speedy labor I had last time. So, I packed several snacks like peanut butter crackers and orange juice, and now I have clothing added to the bag for baby and me. I got a new nightgown that unbuttons partway down the front for lots of good skin-to-skin contact. Hoping that if this baby is unsettled as Cecilia was in the hospital, I will have it in my brain to remember to just try some relaxed "kangaroo care" with her. I have a list of other things to add to the bag when the time comes: toiletries, shower shoes, maybe makeup in case I want to put it on before coming home, maybe?... and this time, I am taking a white noise machine so that any nutjobs walking down the hall whistling "Hail to the Chief" at 6am will hopefully be drowned out by the white noise. The hospital is the worst place to get any rest! Our hospital is working towards a more mother and baby-friendly atmosphere... they are combining the nurses so that the same one who checks on the mom also checks on the baby, meaning only one person coming into the room at disturbing hours instead of two. Unfortunately, I think that is not slated to begin until October or November... but they are working towards several changes there, like less time in the nursery for the baby (not that I let them do the "mandatory" nursery stay of four hours anyway, but good to know change is coming).

Here are baby Lucy's clothes in her "dresser" in her "room." This means they are in some available drawers in a piece of furniture in the guest room. ;) The little outfit in the bottom right corner and the one that is diagonally to the left and above it are packed in the bag now, and she will wear one of them home. It is hard to decide what to bring baby home in with this heat! Newborns need warmth, but I don't want to overdo it, you know? I wonder i she'll even get a chance to wear any of those cute little gowns... it might be too warm. I love how newborns look in those, all slug-like! But not slimy like an actual slug, of course. ;)

Baby booties and a headband... two new things for Lucy, since much of her stuff is hand-me-down. The booties should fit her well in the cooler months ahead, which is the age when my other girls were barefoot all the time since it was summer! I guess I will need some 3-6 month size socks!

And just for fun, here's a picture of how huge I am now. ;) I am retaining more water than I have in the past since it is summer, but I doubt that accounts for the extra 15+ pounds I have gained. I am also hoping there's not a 14 pound baby in there... if it was twins, I think we'd have noticed by now, right?!? So, I am trying to stay cool but also enjoy the last of summer activities... I have taken the girls to the fountains several times, and I just wear as little as I can and stay in the shade or wade in the cool water! The swelling in my ankles began a week or so ago, not unusual, but I also have it in my hands. i will wake up at night with my right hand asleep, and throughout the day it will tingle after I have done something like washing dishes, writing, or gripping anything for more than a minute. I have almost dropped bottles of dish soap, shampoo, etc., since my fingers don't flex so well right now. One of the OBs said it's carpal tunnel and will go away... yeah, it sure feels like what i would think carpal tunnel would feel like (and here I am typing on a laptop...). So, energy level is lower now, having trouble getting comfortable at night, achy feet and ankles which make me give up on doing the dishes partway through (and maybe not being able to reach the sink past my belly has something to do with that as well!)... all telling me that we are in the home stretch now. Yet I am feeling the urge to nest... tonight I cleaned out the baby bathtub and cleared off the "nature shelf" which was basically covered in broken leaves and dirt at this point... I made it into a shelf for chapter books for Caroline.

Chris is nesting, too, because I asked him to install the carseat. Caroline has moved to the back bench of the van, and Lucy's seat is next to Cecilia's. They look so... big. They are identical seats with different fabric, but both rear-facing, so it looks weird to have both those seats taking up all that room in the middle of the van! Amazing that the same seat will work for a 6 pound newborn... Cecilia is a bit over 30 pounds now! Anyway, the fabric we got for Lucy's seat happens to be girly, because it was a discontinued print and therefore the cheapest of the My Ride 65 seats. Caroline wasn't even jealous this time about the fact that she's the only one without a girly seat cover, but Cecilia had to rub it in a bit that Lucy also gets two cup holders in her seat (like that will be useful to her any time soon, ha!) while Caroline just has one. But Caroline now has access to the actual van cup holders and the A/C control in the back!

So, I am also brushing up on my Bradley childbirth education stuff... Chris and I are reading through our workbook before bed, and I am going through Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way when I have time. I am hoping to be able to focus on relaxing a bit more this time, but when you wake up ready to go to the hospital and then the drive and getting checked in with all the annoyances like signing paperwork... not really conducive to relaxing! I honestly don't know which I prefer... long labor but able to relax since you don't have to rush to go anywhere right away, or fast labor where you feel really out of control! I think I liked the long one a bit more just because I didn;t like the out-of-control feelings, as brief as it was!

And, the last thing I need to be doing with this nesting urge... resting! I should be wrapping up any of the nesting stuff and putting my time toward resting. Meaning I really should be getting in bed by 11 or maybe earlier as we get toward the big day! It is so hard to do when last-minute preparations are swirling in my head (and in my to-do lists in my notebook!)... I am also wanting to plan out as much school stuff as I can so that I don't have as much of that to think about with a new baby. Most things on my lists have been completed now, though, so everything is really coming together now! There are some meals in my deep freeze, stocked up on some snacks, postpartum supplies, pretty much deciding on not even getting the co-sleeper back and setting it up (although it is an excellent place for middle-of-the-night diaper changes!)... Just need to make sure I can find my sling and wrap and wash them if needed...