Yesterday morning, guess what we woke up to? Snow. Yup. SNOW. I covered the greens and the seeded beds, just to be safe. They probably would have been okay… but I decided not to take any chances.
Can someone please let this winter know it’s not welcome any longer? UNCLE. UNCLE! In defiance of the view outside our windows, Willem put on his best gardening sleeper and kicked away in the sunshine all morning.
In other news, I made my own baby wipe solution today (finally): 1/2 cup apricot oil, 1/2 cup baby soap, 2 cups water. We’ll see how it works out for us!
SEEDLING AND GARDEN RESUSCITATION
Back on February 1, knowing I was about to give birth ANY DAY NOW, I started all of our seedlings. I had an awesome spread of seeds, procured from Seed Savers Exchange, thanks to a gift card given to me by my in-laws for Christmas (great gift!). Thanks to the beauty and joy that is bringing a new being into the world, however, we ended up with our own little experiment in survival of the fittest going under the grow lights in the basement.
Only the strong survive!
Thankfully, the flat of greens did really well and went into the ground last weekend. That left two trays of raggedy tomatoes, miniaturized peppers, suspended animation ground cherries, a few spindly onions, a couple of yellowed cucumbers… and not much else. And those guys were hanging on by a thread, still eking out the last of the nutrients from the peat pods I had started them in.
Luckily, Willem loves his morning nap in his carrier, giving me a chance yesterday to repot all of the seedlings AND even plant a few more pots with fresh seeds, just in case I get some more growth in time for this season. I was especially sad that the arugula, peppers, and cucumbers did so poorly. I really wanted some lovely spicy arugula in my salads this spring; more seeds were planted in pots and directly in the ground. ARUGULA OR BUST!
This morning during Willem’s morning tandem nap, we planted more seeds in the garden – beets, arugula, and chard mixed in among the greens. The kale is looking rad, and the greens are thriving to varying degrees. Which reminds me – I need to water those seeds!
NO RATS ALLOWED!
In other news, Chris has embarked on an ambitious project this beautiful weekend to rid our coop of burrowing rodents (aka RATS), which have excavated extensive tunnels underneath our coop to get at our messy chickens’ dropped food throughout this polar vortex winter. Here’s a sneak peek of what he’s got going on so far; more details to come!
Yesterday, we woke to the dulcet tones of saws and hammers emanating from the neighbor’s backyard. It turns out they are rebuilding their chicken coop.
Chris’ response? “If their new coop is cooler than ours, I’m going to need to rebuild ours.” He’s only partly joking; he’s been dreaming of building something along these lines since more or less the day after we got our coop.
I love that our version of “keeping up with the Joneses” has nothing to do with having an in-ground pool or super lush green grass or a new SUV. I also love that our next door neighbors have chickens, too. Sometimes I swear our groups of chickens are talking to each other through the fence.
The barren garden beds have been screaming at me through our back windows for weeks now. The seedlings that did actually flourish in spite of almost total lack of care desperately need to get in the ground, and I have so many seeds that need planting.
Like… RADISHES. I want radishes – lots of them. Radishes are the best. In order to get radishes, I must plant seeds. In order to plant seeds, I need someone to watch Willem.
Fast forward to this morning. Willem was in a great mood (probably because he slept all afternoon yesterday and was ready to party from about 5 AM on today). Chris was happy keeping an eye on him. And the kid decided I could put him down in his bouncey seat for an hour. The end result? I got to dig in the dirt for an hour, leaving me feeling more like myself than I have in quite a long while.
Even this morning, though, prioritization was required. It’s amazing how good I am at prioritizing these days. I prioritize EVERYTHING because I never know when Willem is going to need to be picked up. Like, after my shower each morning, I prioritize how I get ready. Deodorant, clothes, and brushed teeth are non-negotiable. Next up is hair combing. If Willem is still doing well? I might even get a chance to pluck an eyebrow hair or two and put on a little mascara.
Same goes for getting things ready in the morning before Willem needs breakfast. Water must be filled, food must be eaten, and pills must be taken. If the kid is still all right, coffee is poured (can you believe coffee isn’t priority numero uno? Who am I?). Usually that’s about as far as we get, but if he’s STILL happy, I might even get a load of laundry in and some music on the stereo before I get the sleeping beauty.
Same goes for my garden planting this year. First priority: getting all the early seedlings – a TON of greens – in the ground. Tatsoi, Forellenschluss, Mizuna, Arugula, various lettuces, and Kale. YUM.
And… that’s as far as I got. Still, though, I’m feeling pretty pleased! Maybe the seeds can get planted this afternoon. Hey, a girl can dream.
I planted a bunch of seeds at the beginning of February, about two weeks before Willem’s due date. Unfortunately, only about 1/3 of them germinated and grew – and by the time I realized they were looking pretty pitiful, I had a tiny creature that was occupying all of my time, energy, and brain space.
In other words, the seedling trays are completely haphazard this year, which means the garden is going to be completely haphazard. Hobo garden. Ghetto fabulous. I’m okay with this. I HAVE to be okay with this, since I have no time or energy to do much about it.
We do have signs of life out there, though, which makes me very happy. The bee balm and other perennials are coming back, and the garlic is shooting up through the hay. At least we’ll have garlic!
This weekend, the plan is to have Chris on baby watch for a couple of hours at some point so I can plant the many greens that are flourishing under the basement lights, as well as all the direct sow seeds: beets, turnips, collards, radishes, sunflowers, and other goodies. At the very least, we’ll have greens, garlic, some root veggies, and strawberries this year!
I also think I might break down and actually buy some seedlings this year. We NEED fennel, peppers, rosemary, basil, and tomatoes. NEED. And next year? Well, hopefully the seeds that didn’t grow this year will do a bit better next year when I have a bit more of an attention span.
And speaking of the little guy, Willem gets cuter and cuter every day. His happy times are my favorite – he coos and squeals and is generally the most adorable guy in the world. Not that I’m biased or anything.
Bump Watch 2014
I must say, I have been terribly impressed by what the body can go through re: babymaking. Just the sheer SIZE and dimensions to which I grew were astounding to me.
See? Holy crap. And now, 4.5 weeks after Willem’s birth, I stepped on the scale to find I’m about two pounds above the weight I was when I learned I was pregnant on June 8, 2013. How in the heck does THAT happen?! I’m not complaining. I’m just amazed.
And now? Now I have this sweet little guy who, just in the last few days, has begun cooing and making little squeaks and smiling at me (instead of just sleep smiling after a good meal; he actually laughed in his sleep post-middle-of-night feeding this week, which was pretty darn adorable). It’s been very tough in some ways – a lot of ways, really – caring for a newborn. Probably the toughest thing I’ve done will be THIS. To all the parents out there, that’s probably the biggest “DUH” statement of all time. I just had no concept of it until we brought this little guy home with us. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, of course, but newborns? Tough.
I figure I should also get his birth story down before I forget. Actually, I feel like I already was in such a different world throughout it all that my memory of it will not be very accurate. It was such a surreal experience, and I definitely feel like a total bad ass for getting through it in one piece with this awesome little guy at the end.
The start: my first day of maternity leave was Monday, 2/17, and I had a midwife appointment that morning. She had me set up an appointment for Thursday to check on baby’s overall health since we were officially “overdue.” She said, though, “I really don’t think you’ll make it to then.”
I bought a bunch of picture frames at Michael’s for our wedding photos, then headed home before the latest ice and snow storm could hit. I finished our wedding photo album, set up the changing table area in the baby’s room, walked out… and my water broke.
That was surreal experience number one. I called Chris, then the midwife. There was meconium in the fluid, which can be normal or can mean the baby has had some distress. We headed to the hospital right away because of it, and on the way there we realized my contractions were 2.5 minutes apart already. It was pouring rain, which turned to ice just as we pulled into the hospital (and later heavy snow).
I was doing pretty well for a while. We had our music playing the whole time, and I was able to roll and bounce and moan away on the birthing ball for a while. Early on, this jerky doctor barged into my room and wanted to hook me up to some machine that would flush the amniotic fluid out and would also have made me bed bound. Willem’s heart rate dropped once (it actually continued to have some concerning dips). Apparently, this doc is known for doing this crap, because my nurse called my midwife right away and got her in there stat. My birthing classes came in handy just for helping me speak up for myself. With nasty doc there, I said something like, “I’ve got one doctor making me feel like my baby is under incredible distress and I’m an idiot for not doing this invasive procedure and another telling me we can monitor it.” Thank goodness my midwife was there to tell me the doc was being an idiot.
Things got really super intense fast after that. I almost fainted on the birthing ball and had to lie down on the yoga mat. Apparently, I was there for a long time. I remember almost throwing up a lot, and at one point Chris totally got to witness me take a dump in the bathroom (I asked him to help me with a courtesy flush). :) Time all blurs together, and all modesty and logical thought went completely out the window. They say to just think about the contraction you are currently dealing with. Well, there was no way I could really think about anything else. For a long time I was on all fours on the bed, rolling my hips around and moaning a whole lot just to get through each contraction. In between, I would fall back into child’s pose on the bed. I think I might have even been sleeping in between. I don’t know, I was completely unaware of my surroundings.
At one point, ten people all came rushing into the room. The baby’s vitals dropped pretty severely, I guess. He was okay, but that kind of shifted things. I remember my midwife checking me (I believe I was writhing in agony during that particular check), and I was only 7-8 cm. She recommended an epidural, and I was all for it. Honestly, I just couldn’t see how I was going to make it any longer, and if you’re wishing for a c-section the pain is so bad, you know you’ve got problems. I had just reached the point where I literally couldn’t NOT push, and they were telling me I somehow had to wait. And the pain and effort of getting through each contraction was just too too much. I can’t even describe that pain. Plus, if we had needed an emergency c-section, they would have put me completely under since I didn’t have the epidural in, and Chris wouldn’t have been allowed to see our baby’s birth.
So I got an epidural, and it saved me. I slept for maybe a half hour and was fully dilated. For the first hour of pushing, though, I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t even really count it as pushing. At 3 am, there was a nursing shift change. The new nurse tried getting me to push, then asked if I wanted the epidural turned off. We did that and within 5 minutes I could feel pressure again, and we started pushing for real. I was so so lucky. The epidural doc came back and was able to turn the dose up just enough to cut the pain again once that kicked back in, but I was totally able to feel my pushing, move around in the bed, squat, etc. I think it saved me from a c-section.
We pushed for about an hour and a half, just me, Chris, and the awesome nurse, Crystal, who coached me through it all. Chris says he has never – and probably will never – look at a vagina for that extended of a period again. He’s hopefully right! We got to the point where it was baby go-time, the nurse called my midwife to come back, and I think Willem was born within 10 or 15 minutes of her getting to the room.
Birthing a baby is crazy. I still can’t believe I pushed him out of me. The midwife gave me an episiotomy, which pissed me off a little, but whatever. I’ve healed, and my other aches and pains were worse. I was mostly so so glad I was not trying to care for Willem and recovering from a c-section because, holy crap, I’m up off and on all night with this little nugget. Anyway, back to the actual birth part: I pushed and pushed, and suddenly he was just… out. They put him on my stomach for a moment, someone said it was a boy, Chris cut the cord, then because of the meconium, they did some pretty intense suctioning of his airway. I got stitched up, Chris watched them work on Willem, and then he was back in my arms. He breastfed for about 2.5 hours after being born.
TL;DR: Willem Altair Koester was born 5:35 am on Tuesday, 2/18/14. He’s 21.5 in long, 8 lbs 13 oz and just awesome.
It’s been quiet around these parts. And by “these parts,” I mean this blog, because it certainly hasn’t been quiet around the house. No, I am not sitting here, massively overdue and still pregnant. Instead, I type this with a sweet little boy sleeping in his wrap across my chest.
That’s right: on February 18 at 5:35 am, we welcomed yet another little beastie to our menagerie, this time in the form of an 8 lb., 13 oz., 21.5 inch long baby boy named Willem Altair! On Sunday, 2/16, we took a nice walk with Birdie through snowy Holliday Park. Seriously, the snow was up to her chest, and I was wishing I had snowshoes at one point! The first day of my maternity leave was Monday, 2/17, and at my morning appointment with the midwife, she scheduled a workup for us on Thursday. But she said as she left the room, “I really don’t think you’ll make it until then.”
Three hours later, I had finished setting up the changing area in the nursery, and my water broke as I walked out of the nursery. Labor was totally surreal, raw, and intense. Most of the time, I had no clue what was going on around me or who was in the room with us. Chris did amazingly well, and we had some fantastic nurses coaching me along. Although we wanted to go non-medicated, I did end up getting an epidural right towards the end, and it seriously saved me. I have no regrets about the epidural, let me tell you.
If the lateness of this blog post is any indication of our experience with new parenthood, Willem will be two weeks old tomorrow. I’m not sure where those two weeks have gone or what we’ve been doing, other than a lot of feeding the baby, changing the baby, rocking the baby, napping, etc. It’s amazing how much time and energy these things require. I finally managed to pay a couple of bills today, which I consider a great success. I might even make it out to the grocery store! Hey, it’s the little things.
Chris has taken such good care of me, Willem, the house, and all our animals the past two weeks. It’s going to be a little rough when he goes back to work next week, but luckily my parents will be coming for most of that week to help out and meet their newest grandson.
Long story short, we are happy, exhausted, and figuring things out still. Breastfeeding in particular has been a challenge, but I’m really hoping we are on the upswing with that. Raising a newborn is a lot of work!
February 15, 2014. No matter what they tell you about due dates and how they really are just general guidelines, EVERYONE counts down to the due date – websites, friends, family, pregnancy e-newsletters, and, most especially, the parents to be.
Yesterday was our official due date, and, although it did not yield a baby, we did make it a lovely day. Our due date antics included the following:
- A visit to the Indy Winter Farmers Market, where we ran into a birthday girl and some good friends and co-workers. Mostly, it was nice to get out into the hustle and bustle of the market, always a great place to spend your Saturday morning.
- A trip to my favorite yarn store in Indianapolis, Mass Ave. Knit Shop (which is actually located on Virginia Ave., but whatever), for some splurge yarn… and GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! How can you not love a knit shop that has oodles and oodles of to-die-for yarns AND boxes of Girl Scout cookies waiting for you at the register?
- Lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, La Margarita in Fountain Square, for tacos de chorizo and the best damn virgin peach margarita a girl can find.
- A long, hot bath while Chris shoveled the driveway (again) and cleaned the most recent 6″ dump of snow off my car (bless him).
- Some photo documentation of the two (three?) of us in celebration of surviving the last 40 weeks!
Today, we took Birdie on a very snowy walk at Holliday Park. The snow was up to her chest! I’m going to walk this baby out of me.
After the latest round of temperatures in the negatives, a sunny 25 at lunch time today felt downright balmy. I took the opportunity to waddle myself out to the coop, armed with my pitchfork, and clean up a bit. The shavings needed turning and refreshing, the nesting boxes needed some sprucing, and the girls needed some fresh hay.
It appears they are just as stir crazy as I am. When they bum rushed me as I opened the door, I decided to let them explore the snowy yard for a bit while I worked.
Most of them were pretty okay with the snow. Then there was Dino Puppy. She flew about 10 yards and then, come hell or cracked corn, would not budge. She just hunkered down in the snow like she was in a cozy, quiet nesting box. I think she was actually completely freaked out. I finally had to pick her up and carry her back to the run.
All of this brings us back to the subject of this post and the following video. I know my chicken. You’ve got to know your chicken!
P.S. How have I never posted this amazing song here?