three months

And what a whirlwind it’s been. I’m a firm believe that each is given what they can handle at the moment, and Asher has been just what this family needs right now. She’s so sweet and mellow, laughs easily and smiles a lot. She adores her big sisters, and they adore her (fight over her is more like it). We’re settling nicely into have three kids, and I have to admit, just like when the others came into our lives, I can’t imagine life without her.
Happy three months, Asher! We’re so, so glad you’re here.

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Welcome Asher Eleanor!

I’ve been debating how to start this story…it seems so typical, so normal, and yet, of course, as with her sisters, she deserves her tale written out. And it is miraculous, like all births are. And it is silly, like births in our house seem to be. And, as is the trend, it is written with a baby in a sling, by a tired, vaguely incoherent mama.

As we’re both sitting here, wondering how we ended up with THREE kids (much less three girls!), I’m literally left wondering how I’ve got this tiny baby in my arms. Again. I know, I’ve been in denial for quite some time about it all, and even blogged over at Motherhood Unadorned about my feelings towards this pregnancy. And I’d LOVE to say it’s all roses and lilies now that she’s here, but I’m not sure. Yes, Asher belongs here, clearly. And yes, much like when Finleigh arrived, and when Ryan arrived, she just fits. But I’m still left wondering – how the hell did I end up with a third child?

We had plans to head to the pumpkin patch on Sunday. I really, really love fall (I’ve surely blogged about that before), and Halloween, and my birthday (on the 24th – you can send presents), and despite knowing I’d be 39w pregnant, I was excited to go to Enumclaw to hang out with some friends and do the patch with the girls. Finleigh was teeny last year, and enjoyed watching it all, but couldn’t partake. Ryan remembered it all and was SO excited to go back. I just love to take photos of it all! We joked that baby better wait, as Enumclaw is about an hour from home, and how would that explanation go to the police/fire/paramedics? “Please drive past 4 hospitals to deliver this woman to her home so she can give birth?” Um, yeah. But, as nothing was happening that morning, we hustled our buns together and got out of the house. I had some suspicions that it would be soon as I’d done a massive grocery trip the night before, and insisted on having chicken chili in the crockpot before we left, but you know, just because I teach this stuff doesn’t mean I recognize it in myself. We’ll get to more of that in a bit.

The girls had a blast at the pumpkin patch, and we had fun warming back up at our friends’ home nearby. They had delicious homemade soup that was a teensy bit spicy (I should have guessed…) and the girls played hard. We got home, all in one piece, and without a newborn, and settled in for our usual crazy, zany dinner/bath/stories/bedtime routine.

I always spend a fair bit of time in my classes talking about what things parents can do at home to kick start labor. It’s an amusing topic and always gets the class laughing: walking, exercise, spicy foods, sex. Yes, sex. What gets your baby in there will get your baby out! And, since I was quite done being pregnant, well, yeah. And as expected, contractions started shortly thereafter. But I expected them to fizzle out…after all, just because the other two came at 39w (ish) didn’t mean I thought this one would. I half expected her to wait until Halloween!

About two hours later, I called the midwives to chat, and see what they thought might be happening with these contractions. See, she’d tried to escape at 37w, and I wasn’t really enthusiastic about calling them back out for nothing again. But, neither of us was really excited about having another unassisted birth, either. Michael was totally amused at this point – this was basically a total repeat of Finleigh’s birth, only with slightly less disbelief from me. We thought, yes, maybe early labor, as I was clearly dealing well and could move and talk through these, but should try to go to bed soon and maybe take a shower to relax. I watched one more episode of Big Love (love that show) and then showered and went to bed.  I remember sort of sleeping through contractions, and feeling them but not waking for them, and thinking that if they didn’t keep me up, then they weren’t anything. Really, at this point? Really, Katy? Now we’re talking about 5 hours of contractions and you still don’t really think you’re in labor?

At 2:30am, I woke up to a stronger contraction, and got up to hit the bathroom. I went back to bed, thinking this STILL wasn’t really it. I laid in bed, drifting in and out of sleep for another hour, and then the contractions got more intense. By 4am, I woke Michael, and we decided it was time to call the midwives back. They asked if I thought they should come, but I had to hand the phone over to Michael to tend to a contraction. I’m sure the conversation was something to the effect of, “yeah, um, you need to come now”.

We moved to the living room, and texted a few friends who wanted to join us. I was still thinking we had a while at this point. Contractions were strong, but not unbearable, and I was dealing well. I kept telling myself that I can do anything for ONE minute (though they felt longer). Of course, doing anything for ONE minute every 30 seconds for any length of time starts to SUCK. And then when you realize you are having an even harder time coping, and you are no longer quietly breathing, and you can no longer stand on your own, and you’ve got to hold on FOR DEAR LIFE to your partner, that yep, this is labor and you’re going to have a baby in the very near future. Of course, at this point, I’m still thinking that I’ve got a while, and why the hell do I give birth at home where there’s nothing stronger than ADVIL??

And then, holding onto Michael and trying to CLIMB to the ceiling, I hear the MW say that she thought I was pushing. Pushing? Brilliant!! I should totally push! That might be fantastic! So I pushed. And I was really glad they got the plastic table cloth under me as I announced that I was peeing. Nice, right? Birth is the great equalizer, folks. One of the MWs said she was taking my pants off (what’s with me trying to give birth in my damn pants?), and I remember her trying to actually get my pants off my ankles and me saying something to the effect of “leavethemthefuckalone”. I was pushing. One LONG push. One LONG contraction that really didn’t seem to end. Except it did. And there was her head. I reached down, instinctively. This was the first time I’d ever done that. I felt her head: soft, hot, velvety. Her cord was wrapped around her neck, and the midwives were working it off. And then I had to push again. I pushed hard. Harder than I did with Finleigh…I worked for this kid. One huge, long, hard push (or four, I don’t remember), and out she popped.

7 pounds, 5 ounces, 20″ long. At 5:20am, October 17th. As the sun was thinking about rising on a beautiful, cold, clear, crisp fall morning. My favorite kind of morning.

I crashed on the couch, exhausted, elated, and still shocked. I’m pretty sure Michael was equally shocked, but I honestly have no idea. We didn’t talk, I hardly talked to anyone. I labored. And then I birthed. With so much wonderful support, but in my own world the whole time. I couldn’t have done it without any of them, but I did it alone. If that makes sense. I just laid there, on the couch, with her on my chest, shellshocked. I had a baby. She’s here. In my arms. Michael went to get Ryan, and we both hoped she wasn’t disappointed that she missed the birth (again). This time, she’d get to see the placenta!

She was elated to see the new baby…her new sister. She asked what we were naming her again. Oh yeah, her name! We’d been quiet on the name this time, since we shared her sex. And because I wasn’t entirely sold on it. But now that she’s here, it’s perfect. It suits her to a “T” and suits our family quite well. It “goes”.

Asher Eleanor.

Asher means “fortunate, blessed and happy”. Eleanor means “light” and is the name of my great aunt, my dad’s Aunt Rene.

We are, indeed, fortunate and blessed to have this sweet girl join our family. We were surprised at her intentions to join our family, but are truly, truly blessed to have her here with us.

We also find ourselves truly, truly blessed with friends and family and friends who have become family. Though no one made the birth (again- we’re just too quick for that), we had so many sweet people be a part of Asher’s first day. Lindsay came to say hi instead of heading out for her morning run, Kirsten skipped half a day of work to feed us and hang out with our big kids, and be a part of a very, very normal birth (which I know was insanely difficult, and also, hopefully, cathartic), Ruth took our biggest sister out for a special outing on her own, and so, so many others have helped in tiny, countless ways. I don’t know that any of you will ever really understand how important our “family” here in Seattle is.

Asher truly, truly is a blessing to us all.

This photo says 773 words.

celestin by ~oye on deviantART.

I stumbled on this image the other day on Pinterest and it’s been haunting me ever since. Likely not so much because I’m pregnant right now (or maybe it is) but moreso because of how much, and how often, I think about the state of maternity care in our nation.

Though I understand the photographer was simply paying homage to another photographer, using her newly born nephew as the subject, I find it speaks VOLUMES about birth in hospitals. And yes, I recognize that this post may piss people off. The good ones usually do. They touch nerves, they elicit guilt, they bring up memories you’d might have rather not remembered. But the truth is that our maternity care is abysmal, we’re doing it to ourselves (yes, even those self-selecting OUT of hospitals), and we can change it, if we just choose to open our eyes to what’s really going on.

Maternal Mortality in the United States falls behind 40 other countries at 11 deaths per 100,000 live births. It’s defined as the death of a mother, from a number of various causes, within 42 hours after giving birth (1). Severe bleeding/hemorrhage is listed as the top cause of death. One of the most used drugs during labor in American hospitals is Pitocin. Why? Because it (can) speed labor up (why, I ask, must labor be sped up and not allowed to go at the pace the woman’s body deems it should go?). One of the side effects of Pit is post partum hemorrhage (2). Ironically, it’s also administered by midwives FOR post partum hemorrhage. The drug works, much like our own natural oxytocin, to create uterine contractions. This can be a good thing, or it can be a very, very bad thing.

The use of Pit often leads a laboring woman towards an epidural a lot faster than she might have gone on her own (if at all). Pitocin contractions are notoriously intense, moreso than oxytocin contractions, and can come on stronger and more suddenly than a woman’s body (and baby) are ready for. So she asks for an epidural. Though epidurals are considered generally “safe” by the medical community, they introduce a whole host of other potential problems to a labor (3). It is extremely controversial to say that the likelihood of a cesarean delivery is greater with an epidural, but it appears more and more that this may be the case. And, though a cesarean is again, generally considered a “safe” surgery, it is still major surgery. And with that comes another host of potential side effects, including blood clots and anesthesia issues, and placenta previa and accreta for future pregnancies (4).

Maternal death is highly preventable. Highly. If modern obstetrics would just LEAVE BIRTH ALONE, and let it develop as it needs to, most of the time, it would be fine. The WHO believes our cesarean section rate should be at 10-15%. It’s currently above 35%. I refuse to believe that all of those are true, true emergencies. Yes, I know, yours was. I understand that, and this post is not to undermine your birth, how you’re processing it, or how it has been retold to you. What’s hard for me to process is how many women are told their c/s was an emergency, needed to happen, baby might die, and it’s largely because of how we care for women in labor in hospitals. Care providers push, nudge, outright force babies out of wombs before they’re ready, and we are left to believe that our doctor saved our sweet baby (and likely ourselves) from the throes of evil, scary, deadly labor. Except that many of the hospital interventions LEAD TO that “life saving” c/s. Again, I DO NOT wish to undercut YOUR experience, how YOU felt about it, or how it makes YOU feel. What I wish to highlight is the culture surrounding birth, and how it’s so much more about an institution (a patriarchal one at that, believe that women are simply not capable of doing this whole “labor thing” without modern science to help it along) rather than an individual. And again, until the institution can change, there’s little hope for women and babies.

So where the hell was I going with this little lesson in the “snowball of interventions”? I was getting to the picture, and what it said to me.

And to me, it shows a newborn, alone, on a hospital bed and I wonder, where’s mama? Because I don’t know of many mamas who’ve just given birth and would voluntarily leave that sweet baby, lying there, alone. That is, quite possibly, the most tragic thing I can think of.

embracing the changes

Our world is changing at such a rapid pace. Michael and I realized how much has happened for our family in the last year. We had a baby (no big, right?), have been dealing with Michael’s mom’s poor health, have been back and forth to California more times than we’d like to admit, we found a great house for us and are waiting to hear back, I started a new job and left it due to morality issues, I started a new hobby in earnest (my sewing machine is jealous of my camera), Michael got very into biking, I started Stroller Strides…whew, I’m exhausted just looking at that. And that’s just us grown ups.

Finleigh isn’t so much of a baby anymore…our sweet girl started walking on Ryan’s birthday. At ten months. Yes, 10. Not even one year. And about 5 minutes after she started walking, she started climbing. And getting into everything. And just being sort of hilarious. We’re about to start planning her first birthday shindig, which is a little bittersweet. I love hitting milestones with my kiddos, but hate how quickly they grow up.

…our house is on the market, and we are hoping beyond hope that our “maybe house” becomes our “real house”. We’d like to be moved by summer. It’ll be too late for much gardening (tomatoes and strawberries maybe), but plenty of time for playing outside in what would be our very own backyard. We’ve been pining for a yard for years now and would be so excited to have a place for the kids/dog to play safely.

Though it drives me batty, I’m trying hard to embrace the changes, as it seems that they’re neverending. I can either run with it, or run against it. And I’d rather run with it. In fact, I’m joining a running club and setting my goal at 10k. Yes, 10k. I’m going to run a 10k in May. I said it. I have to sign up for it still. But I’m going to do it. And I’m really excited about it.

 

Mama Birth: Daddy As Midwife- A Beautiful Homebirth-

Our birth story was “published”…in another person’s blog!! It’s one thing to post it yourself, but entirely another for another blogger to find it worthy enough to share. We’re honored. And the Mama Birth blog is a lovely resource for expecting families and birth junkies alike.

Mama Birth: Daddy As Midwife- A Beautiful Homebirth-.

via Mama Birth: Daddy As Midwife- A Beautiful Homebirth-.

Already?


Already, the sun is sitting a little lower in the sky.
Already, the air is a little crisper and smells a little different.
Already, the leaves have brown edges.
Already, a different breeze is blowing the crispy leaves across the sidewalk.

already, she is sitting up.
already, she eats solid food.
already, she gives kisses.
already, she is trying to move.

Fall is most certainly upon us. And Finleigh’s baby hood is going so much more quickly than I’m ready for. I’m ready for fall. Not so ready for Fin to move. Ready for cooler weather. Not so much for Fin requiring meals beyond mama milk. But alas, with the weather change, it seems that Fin is changing too. And, like the seasons, you just have to go with it.

oliver + s

I adore this dress. And think RE may have to have it in corduroy for fall.

ice cream dress sewing pattern | oliver + s – sewing patterns for children’s clothing.

Oh man…the sweetness. I want both girls in this for the holidays. In some sort of shiny silk. Heck, I want it for me, too. Pretty please?

Welcome to oliver + s > introducing the school photo dress sewing pattern.

via oliver + s.

This morning

FOR TODAY
Outside my window…It feels like Fall. But I’m trying not to get too excited about it.
I am thinking…about my many VERY pregnant friends right now and wishing them love and luck as they complete their journeys.
I am thankful for…this lovely cup of coffee.
From the kitchen…an updated look: store has been relocated and there is, instead, a small table with a small girl eating a large breakfast. I couldn’t love it more.
I am wearing…the usual. Jeans and a polo. It’s a uniform, of sorts.
I am creating…a big mess.
I am going…to just soak it all in today.
I am reading…blogs. Short, quick, and easy to read. That’s about my attention span right now. And Goodnight Moon.
I am hoping…that the week passes quickly as we have a mini vacation this weekend.
I am hearing…kexp and Ryan singing.
Around the house…we’re about to start painting, and have already done tons of little changes.
One of my favorite things…listening to my sweet littlest talk to herself in her crib when she thinks no one is listening.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Some babywearing activity, more packing, cleaning out and painting, and a trip to Port Townsend on Friday.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing…

If you feel so inclined to share as well, please link your Simple Womans Daybook in the comments, so I can read it too!

Unrelenting Passion

I love that I’ve found passion in life. It’s an amazing thing to be passionate about things, and to be able to delve wholeheartedly into ideas and topics that mean so much to me.

But where I find passion challenging lies in the sharing of said passion. I sometimes get, well, overly passionate about it all. And even more so after Finleigh’s birth. I know that my zeal for natural childbirth and breastfeeding turns people off. And part of me really wants to say eff it. It’s the way it’s meant to be done, and dammit anyway, you have to try. If you don’t want to have a go at childbirth, then don’t get pregnant. If you don’t want to have a go at breastfeeding, then don’t have a baby. I don’t say these things though, because I risk losing people in my zeal. This comes off a discussion in a group, where I, as a mommy, said something about breastfeeding that set someone else, a mom who had chosen not to breastfeed her child, off. She was bothered by the “digs” that formula feeding moms endure. And while yes, I respect people’s right to choose, and telling women that they HAVE to breastfeed or go through a natural childbirth, to me, is akin to telling a woman that she cannot have an abortion, or telling gay people that they cannot marry, I just wish (and hope that someday) it’s all considered normal enough that breastfeeding or natural birth aren’t considered just another option.

So, I try to tone it down. And really, as an educator, a bigger part of me does believe that women and families have to go through birth in ways that make them comfortable (not talking about physical comfort, but personal, mental comfort). Birth is such a personal journey and I can’t even begin to pretend that I understand all of the implications for each individual. I suppose that I would just beg people to do real research. And by that, I mean REAL, DEEP, INVESTIGATIVE research into childbirth. The methods, the politics AND the practice. A family’s choices go so much deeper than “epidural or natural” which is so often the debate I hear.

And then there’s breastfeeding. Yes, I’ve heard it before: “but I couldn’t”, “I didn’t produce enough milk”, “my baby was allergic to milk”. I don’t entirely buy it. And while I applaud a mother’s effort (because they’re all valiant), I still don’t entirely buy it. Breast isn’t just “best”, it’s normal. If we didn’t breastfeed our babies, civilization as we know it would not exist (hell, if we do, civilization might exist in an entirely different way as well). So it doesn’t jive with me to hear as many women as I do that “can’t do it” for x, y or z reasons.

What I do know is happening is that we don’t support women. We (as an institution) want women to breastfeed, but we don’t help them do it. We want our babies breastfed, but again, don’t support it. We hear of women being kicked off planes, out of restaurants, and being asked to cover up while breastfeeding their babies. I see women all the time covering up with those awful “Hooter Hiders” (kudos for a cute name, but it’s still a lame product), more obvious than the women who can nurse discreetly without one. I even see women covering up in a mommy and me class. What? Seriously? That’s the safest place to learn to nurse your baby in public. A place no one cares if you flash your boobs! And of course, part of me thinks that if those are what it takes to get more women to nurse, then great. Use ’em. But a bigger piece of me, again, believes that we have to walk our walk, and if we’re going to promote breastfeeding, we need to promote it for real. Without coverups or caveats.

And beyond support the breastfeeding mother, how can we support the women who do need to formula feed without making that the norm? Yes, absolutely, women who need to use formula, for whatever reason, deserve to be supported. But how can we support those women, without allowing formula feeding to become “normal”. Because while, yes, it’s ok to use if necessary, it’s far from normal. And it shouldn’t be considered such. It shouldn’t be considered the immediate alternative. And it certainly shouldn’t be marketed as such (but there’s another topic that’s already been blogged about beautifully in so many other places).

I had this post in my head when I stumbled on this post from “Blacktating“. The author describes her experience learning to nurse in public, yearning to nurse in public:

I saw how a baby might start to wiggle a bit and like Houdini the mom had unhooked her bra, lifted her shirt and latched the baby in seconds flat. It looked effortless and it also looked like there was a baby in her arms – no breasts hanging out, no cover ups – simply a babe in arms. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to feel that assured. I wanted to look that smooth and at ease.

And she felt comfortable enough, with her community, to learn and try. Most women today don’t, and I guess I don’t understand that. They feel pressure from all angles to breastfeed, or to have a natural childbirth, but aren’t offered ways to learn to do that. They see the research that shows that epidurals and inductions are dangerous, but hear from friends that labor hurts and the epidural is a godsend. They know that breastmilk is the perfect first food for infants, but don’t know how to get started, or are made to feel awkward about nursing. Where are our communities?

And as usual, women do other women a disservice. We are our own worst enemies. This hasn’t changed since elementary school. We cut each other down to make ourselves feel better. Heck, I may even be doing it right now. Telling pregnant women horror stories of 40 hour labors and tears from here to there, and nipples trashed by babies doesn’t help. No one needs to hear your train wreck story. There’s a time and a place for it, and your pregnant friend is not the right audience.

What she does need to hear is that birth is normal. That feeding your baby, from your  body, is normal; and while challenging, possible. And that being a mama, if it’s something you really want, is the best job in the whole world. Becoming a mama will transform you. It will give you passion for something new.

(A huge part of me feels like I might want to offer an apology for this post. But I’m not going to. Because I’m not really sorry. What I will say is that this post IS NOT at all directed at women who’ve had to, for TRUE MEDICAL REASONS had to have a cesarean, or not been able to breastfeed. Lord knows y’all don’t need to feel any more guilty for choices that you didn’t really get to make.)