Three Months Later… A Birth Story

Oh, hey – the last time I posted, I was in the home stretch (pun intended) of pregnancy. Here I am at home on Friday, January 29. I knew I was in labor, but I didn’t know Maxwell Orion would be born only about four hours later.

As of yesterday, we have a three-month old!

20160429. Three months old.

So what if it took me three months to getting around to documenting our birth story? Let me hook you with some spoilers: this tale includes Taco Bell, getting your frosting swirled, and a hilarious anesthesiologist with a potty mouth. Brace yourself.

It all started at my weekly OB appointment on Wednesday morning; my due date was the following Saturday, 1/30/16. The doc checked me out, told me nothing seemed to be imminent, swirled my frosting (this is a fun way of saying she stripped my membranes, which sends about 50% of ladies into labor within 48 hours if their bodies are ready), and said it could be a day or a week. I asked if we should get my parents down to Indy since they would be watching Willem during all the hospital/birthing hoopla, and she said, “Well, I would.” Okay then!

The parents came down and hung out with us Wednesday and Thursday. I felt totally normal and fine, but I did have some business going. Still, I just assumed I’d be pregnant FOREVER, because that was exactly how I felt the entire last week of pregnancy: that I would be the lucky medical anomaly to have a college student in my uterus.

That night, we got Taco Bell because, if any kind of food was going to be successful in expelling a baby, it would be Doritos locos tacos, AMIRIGHT?! I had some pretty good contractions that night but assumed it was the tacos talking.

The next morning, I woke up feeling totally downtrodden. I slept just fine the night before with no contractions, no discomfort, no nothing. By 8:30, though, I was calling my parents at the hotel to tell them, OH HEY, no rush, but I think I’m having a baby today. Contractions had kicked in and were regular, but they were still totally manageable painwise. I kept waiting for them to become horrendous like they were with Willem, but they never did.

I spent the morning cuddling Willem, yukking it up with the parents, timing contractions, bouncing on my yoga ball, and finally calling the doctor’s office around 11:00. I was annoyed that they wanted me to come right in; since nothing felt super awful yet, I was afraid I’d be stuck in a hospital bed laboring forever if we went in too early. Chris came home around 2:00, and we headed to the hospital.

January 2016.

Thank goodness we did. I was already dilated to 5 cm when I arrived, but I was really not in any pain and walked from the office to L&D to get checked in. My two L&D nurses thought I was an induction because I was acting so a-okay: “So why are you getting induced?” When I told them I was 5 cm already and in labor, they got a little more pep in their step.

January 2016.

It all went extremely fast after that. We checked in around 3:30, water was broken around 4:00, epidural process started around 4:15. The anesthesiologist was hilarious (Anthony) and, as the bearer of the mighty epidural, by BFF very, very quickly. By 4:45 I told the nurse I wasn’t sure the epidural was working since I had some intense pain on one side. She was like, “Um, I’m pretty sure that just means you are about to have this baby.” Sure enough, there he was, RIGHT THERE, ready and waiting.

Suddenly, there were a lot of people in the room, and I swear one of my nurses said, “Oh, here’s so and so. She’s going to catch your baby.”

The doctor did manage to get back in time, right around 5:00 pm (I think). I still was in shock and disbelief when she looked me in the eye and said, “Let’s have this baby.” I think my exact words were, “Wait, I’m not ready!” I figured I had at least a few more hours.

I pushed through 5, maybe 6 contractions, and there he was at 5:25 pm, screaming on my chest, a little dimple on one side of his sweet mouth every time he got really worked up. I still cannot believe what an amazingly different labor and delivery experience this was compared to Willem’s. It was, dare I say it, EASY. And because I wasn’t completely wiped out when Max arrived, I was actually able to enjoy him… and definitely got pretty teary eyed when I saw his face for the first time.

January/February 2016.

Welcome to the world, Maxwell Orion! Born Friday, 1/29/16 at 5:25 pm, weighing 8 lbs. 7 oz. We love you more than we can say.

January/February 2016.

January/February 2016.

January/February 2016.

January/February 2016.

On the homefront.

On the homefront.

TWO WEEKS!

That’s right. Two weeks until Baby #2’s estimated due date. This iconic scene from Total Recall is all I can think of:

We’re ready…ish. Readyish. With Willem, I really had no idea what to expect. Sure, you read the books and the blogs and absolutely soak up all the information you can about caring for your newborn (or at least I did). You get all the baby “stuff” that is supposedly essential to having a happy baby these days. You stock your freezer and buy 20 extra rolls of toilet paper so you won’t have to send your husband out at 2 am.

20160115. Baby blanket for #2.

But no one can tell you how your body and brain will react to insane hormones, nursing all day and all night, the physical pain and recovery your body must go through on zero sleep, and a tiny creature you don’t quite understand, are just getting to know, and are trying to keep alive and, preferably, from crying.

End of the year snapshots.

And so now I know all of that… which makes it both easier and even more terrifying. That’s where the readyish part comes into play. I know I will never be truly “ready” for the newborn shock to the system. It’s just something you’ve got to get through, in all its sweet messiness.

End of the year snapshots.

This time, of course, I also have a wonderful little boy in the mix, a little dude who amazes me daily with his smarts, sense of humor, gentleness, and sweetness. Latest cute Willem-ism: he has this running monologue lately that goes something like, “big car, red car, green car, big big car,” etc. as he’s going about his day. Yesterday I asked him what was in mommy’s tummy. His response? “Baby car.”

I am so proud to be his mom, and I can’t wait to see how he and his little brother become a team. And I worry I am not going to be able to live up to being the mom Willem knows and loves.

Warm December chicken petting.

And then I worry that I’m going to sell this new little guy short, that he’ll just be along for the ride. And I know this is all silly and, really, pointless to fret about because, in TWO WEEKS (+/- two weeks, of course), Baby #2 will be here.

We’ll be fine, we’ll be great even, and when it comes right down to it, I absolutely cannot wait to meet this kiddo.

20160116. 38 weeks.

The Baby (Food) Bourgeoisie*

The other day, Willem had a late harvest medley with deconstructed meatballs for lunch. Oh, yeah. We’ve reached a new level of fine baby dining.

Willem's dinner: chard, lentils, and some sauce.

What exactly is that, you wonder? I’m glad you asked. It’s actually pureed spinach and carrots mixed with ground beef, onions, and garlic I had cooked up for chili for the grown ups in the house. But it sounds so much more intriguing when described all fancy-like, doesn’t it?

The chard is as big as Willem.

I’m kicking myself for not planting some more fall chard. Willem loves spinach, and chard is basically like spinach on steroids, right?

The other day, he had chard from the backyard mixed with lentils and apple sauce from our trip to Andersen Orchard. And yes, I sampled it. Pretty delicious, I must say.

*NOTE: You know how I remember how to spell “bourgeoisie”? I pronounce it in my head “bur-gee-OY-zee.” Every time. One of these days, I’ll slip and say it out loud.

What else is new? Well, our sweet guy is eight months old today. Consequently, getting his monthly pictures has gotten a tad trickier.

20141018. 8 months old.

20141018. 8 months old.

Love love love you, you majestic little creature, you.
Hanging with my favorite almost 8-month-old.

Fleeting Fall

The leaves seem to already be falling to the ground, and I feel like I’ve barely had the chance to enjoy them shifting from green to yellow to orange to red on the trees. What’s the deal, fall?

We’ve been in the throes of fall cleanup around here. A few weekends ago, the chickens got their coop and run deep clean. Last weekend, I dug the sweet potatoes and put more of the garden to rest.

There’s always so much excitement to see what’s buried under the soil on sweet potato digging day:
20141004. Sweet potato digging day!

And then? Sometimes, this happens. Yup. That is the entirety of our sweet potato “crop” this year.
20141004. Sweet potatoes... And this is all we got, folks.

Sad trombone.
20141004. A rather lackluster sweet potato year.

Still left to do: planting the garlic, cutting back the perennials in the back, and cutting back our newer/smaller perennials up front. Then the snow can fly.
20141004. Putting the garden to bed for the winter.

This weekend? This weekend, I took care of most of the older perennials in the front yard. We usually leave the coneflower all winter for the birds and other little critters, but we were a little distracted this summer and didn’t do much in the way of staking them as they grew. The end result was a bunch of beautiful, wild, crazy flowers laying across the lawn and each other. So… they had to go.

I feel like we should be doing “fall stuff” with Willem – taking him on hay rides and to pumpkin patches and little kid costume parades. But really? At this point, those things would be more for us than him, and he’s just not terribly keen on big crowds. He had such a great time playing on his blanket in the sun this morning, watching me hack away at the bushes of false blue indigo, butterfly weed, and coneflower. So instead of pictures of Willem with pumpkins, we’ll have pictures of Willem on my Grandma Farm’s colorful quilt in the front yard.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

Can you also tell our latest exciting development? Willem now has two bottom teeth coming in! His gummy smile is a thing of the past. Sniff…
20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

I must say, though, I can’t wait until he’s old enough to snuggle up on the couch with us and watch a movie or go play at Conner Prairie or the Children’s Museum or really have a blast watching the Christmas train display at the Eiteljorg Museum. Don’t grow up too fast, kid… but when you do, we’ll have some awesome stuff to do.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

Life? Not Too Shabby

Serious dork confession here: at least every other day, there’s a moment where I stop and think to myself, “Wow. I love my life.”

Seriously. Who is this girl?!

20140911. Birdie photo bomb.

Our favorite play things – the nasty old mirror on the inside of Chris’ closet and Birdie.

And then it occurs to me that life probably isn’t like that for a lot lot lot of people. And then I wonder if Chris feels the same way. Hell, five years ago, I definitely didn’t feel this way. Even two years ago, I didn’t have these moments wash over me quite so frequently. Blame it on the baby and the massive, life-changing decisions that have defined the last year and a half?

091023. oh, hi!

Me. Five years ago. Not looking like I love my life.

It’s not super easy, and it’s not perfect. But I’ve decided I need to kick perfect to the side of the road. It’s great, and I love it. Even the hard stuff.

I think a lot of it is that I’m starting to feel settled in this whole motherhood gig. Looking back, the first four or five months were me battening down the hatches. Being a mom was so all-consuming. I went from successful working person to OMG WTF DO I DO WITH THIS TINY CREATURE (and with myself). I had no idea what being a mom was going to look like for us.

IMG_0032

I hardly remember what we did all day when he was this tiny.

We’re seven months in now, and I feel like Willem and I “get” each other these days. I’m expanding my fellow mom friendships and feeling confident in getting out of the house and doing stuff. EX: Willem and I met up with a friend for a youth orchestra recital (at a McDonald’s, of all places – a McDonald’s WITH A STAGE. Only in Broad Ripple) today, and he sat in my lap, eating sweet potatoes and taking in the world while friend and I chatted. We can DO stuff like that now, because we get each other, you know?

Baby brigade takes over City Market.

Us downtown this past week, kicking it in the fall foliage with our iced coffee (for mom) and sweet potatoes (for Willem) at City Market.

I’m knitting and cross-stitching and making friendship bracelets and doing “me” stuff again – note that this is stuff that, five months ago, I had literally no concept of how I would ever be able to fit it into my life again. Like, really. I was just keeping my head down and hoping to fake it til I made it.

Now? I’m able to lift my gaze, and the view is good. I can see, if not the horizon, at least to the end of the road. The more comfortable I get with this whole mom thing, the more I’m able to dream and plan and think about other things again. Fun things. Crafty things. Projects. Friends and relationships. Farms in the Smokies. Tiny houses and big barns. You know, life and stuff and the future.

So life? Yes. I love it.

Our Freezer Has Never Witnessed This Level of Beauty

No, for real. Look at how pretty our freezer is these days! I could cry.

20140930. Our freezer is a magical, colorful land of baby food.

We’ve got carrots, pumpkin, apple sauce, black beans, berries, sweet potatoes, chicken noodle soup, peas, and spinach all in puree form… and some chocolate peanut butter ice cream for the grown ups.

Also, Willem had spaghetti (mixed with winter squash puree) for the first time today. I think he’s a fan.

20140930. Willem's first spaghetti (with winter squash).

In other “I like to eat things” news, here I am trying to teach Willem that eating grass is icky. It’s a work in progress. He IS quite small.

Adventures in EATING, Baby Edition

It is so strange to me that I get to witness another human being’s first time ever eating stuff. We like food over here, as evidenced by our garden (and our restaurant/takeout bill – up until last month when we decided we really needed to cut it out if we are going to be able to survive on one income). I was really hoping Willem would like food, too. General consensus? Does he ever.

20140726. New high chair. And our awesome kid.

No, really. I swear he likes food. This is just his well-honed Elvis impression.

Like, yesterday? Willem ate PEAS for the first time. Ever. In his life. And he was all, “Hey, it’s no big thing, I’m just eating PEAS. For the first time. Which, by the way, are REALLY GOOD, and CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME MORE? Right MEOW?

Half a year old today.

Beets are also a serious fave.

It’s also kind of amazing watching his little brain work. He’s at the stage where, if you put a Cheerio or overcooked piece of broccoli or green bean in front of him, he gets laser sharp focus on whatever is on that tray. First he rakes it into his fist. If he gets a good grip on it and part of it is sticking out (on the mouth side, that is), he’s in business. If not, he sucks on his hand, shoving as much of it in as he can in hopes of getting that little food morsel out. If not? Well, he drops it back on the tray and starts all over again. Baby development = super cool to see.

20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU? This is mostly for my own reference (and for times when I will inevitably feel uninspired re: Willem snacks and need a reminder of some faves), but here are just a few things our little guy has inhaled. We haven’t had to buy baby food yet – just made this stuff from fresh and frozen produce:

  • Sweet potato sticks, green beans, and broccoli (cooked soft so he can feed himself)
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup
  • Peas, spinach, and lentils
  • Banana and pumpkin with a little pumpkin pie spice
  • Beets!
  • Peas!
  • Carrots and apple sauce
  • Broccoli, carrots, and spinach
  • Black beans with just about anything
  • Lentils with just about anything
  • Peaches and blueberries

So we’ve got eating down. Now if we could just figure out how to not end up with sweet potato or spinach up our nose and down our sleeves.

A Gratuitous Post All About LOVE and THE FUTURE

Today marks our one-year wedding anniversary. What a wonderful, insane year it has been.

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our Wedding!

20130907. Our Wedding!

20130907. Our Wedding!

For instance, we now have some new residents: tens of thousands of bees and an adorable almost-seven-month-old.

Willem adores his BFF Crosby:
Friends.

Homies and their chew toys.

As always, we are looking to the future. I think that’s one of the coolest things about us as a couple: we push each other and support each other and egg each other on with whatever latest hairbrained scheme one of us has until it doesn’t seem so hairbrained anymore and we actually do it.

Today’s discussion (during lunch at La Margarita, our fave Mexican restaurant, which I hadn’t visited since my due date) centered around finding some land/buying a farm so Chris could start raising nucs and building top bar hives (the latter he could do here; the former, not so much). I also had a really freaking amazing idea last night centered around food deserts and a new way of getting produce to communities who would maybe love to eat fresh produce if only they had access…. And that’s all I want to say about THAT because I might actually want to try to do it at some point.

I’m also exploring new ways to spread art into the world (and maybe make a little cash on the side so we can maybe, possibly, actually get us some land one of these days) and have re-opened my Etsy shop! Visit me at www.etsy.com/shop/famousthecat and get yourself a custom “home sweet home” print to display your own family love all year round.

Here’s ours:
20140712. Updated Home Sweet Home.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #3: ON HIPPIE MOM IDENTIFIERS

Here lies the third and final (for now) installment of “too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream” (aka trying to figure out where we fit into this whole “parenting” thing).

There’s nothing like a cloth diaper sticking out of a onesie or an amber necklace or a toddler who has never seen Finding Nemo to scream, “HIPPIE MOMMY HERE!” So let’s chat about bums, necks, and TV-induced brain rot.

ON CLOTH DIAPERING: Okay, so I’ve been a pretty big cloth diaper proponent up until the last month or so. I swear, Willem’s, ahem, output is just not being contained anymore. We go through three, sometimes four outfits in a single day due to wetness. Our newest experiment is doubling up the diaper pads, which makes him look like an extra straight out of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts” video. So far, it seems to be working; will report back.

When I told Chris I was considering the possibility that we’d need to move to disposable diapers soon, his response was, “If you had seen the diaper I changed the other day, you’d already be running to the store for diapers.” I think he’s still traumatized.

20140717. Willem.ON AMBER NECKLACES: Maybe once Willem starts teething and I’m desperate for something, anything to help us get through it, I’ll feel differently about the ubiquitous hippie mama amber necklace. For now, the science just doesn’t back up the claims of soothing teething pain enough for me to insert this beautiful choking/strangulation hazard into our lives. No judgment whatsoever for those using amber beads, for real – I have a lot of friends who swear by them. For us, it’s a no.

ON “SCREEN TIME”: When Willem was first born (okay, let’s be real, for the first four weeks of his life at least), I was a Netflix junky. The TV was on ALL. THE. TIME. Because I was a sweaty, hormonal, exhausted mess just trying to keep it together, and I spent more time on the couch, nursing my son and eating Pop Tarts, than anywhere else. We’re talking, “I made it through 7 seasons of the Deadliest Catch” Netflix-junky-level. Oh, yeah. Shit just got real in this here blog.

Nowadays, the TV is hardly ever on when Willem is awake, but this winter? When football season starts? We’ll see what happens then.

IMG_0055

Willem at 1.5 weeks old. I somehow look pretty coherent here. What I’m thinking: wha…? Where am I? Who are these people? What is this baby doing here? Am I awake or asleep? Can we go back in time to when I was pregnant so I can just have one more full night’s sleep?

When it comes right down to it, I just can’t get my undies in a bunch over screen time. We’ve Skyped with faraway relatives, and when he’s super extra crazy fussy, 10 minutes of Finding Nemo gives mommy a much-needed break. I can’t imagine his synapses are getting that jacked up from 10 minutes of THE SWEETEST MOVIE EVER.

I think that sums up the latest in my quest to figure out who the hell I am as a mom. For me, it comes down to “live and let live.” If it’s working for you and your baby, awesome. If it’s working for me and my baby, I will never assume it’s the best for anyone else. I’m thankful for the good days and the minor successes, and I’m getting better at taking the tough stuff in stride.

And I love my kid with all my heart, so that certainly makes all of it worth it and perhaps one of the coolest times of my life.

Too Mainstream to Be Hippie… Installment #2: ON SLEEPING

In the second installment of “too mainstream to be hippie, too hippie to be mainstream (aka trying to figure out where we fit into this whole “parenting” thing), let’s talk SLEEP. Or lack thereof?

ON SLEEPING: I think co-sleeping is super awesome. I really do. I always feel a tiny pang of wistfulness when people talk about co-sleeping. Again, though, it’s one of those “love it in theory, not for us in practice” type things. Mostly, we just don’t have a big enough bed, but also? Newborn babies are LOUD. Willem slept in a mini pack and play next to our bed until he was four weeks old, and the kid honked like a goose. I kid you not. At four weeks, I realized I was getting quite literally NO sleep, and it was off to the crib with him. We never looked back.

20140823. Willem's room is coming together.

Where the sleeping magic happens.

At four months, we experienced the dreaded four-month sleep regression. It was awful. The dude would only nap for longer than 30 minutes in my arms or in the carrier. Which is no huge deal, but have you seen my baby? My baby is BIG. My body was HURTING. Ideally, I wanted him to be able to nap in his crib.

20140429. Me and the babe.

Back when Willem’s naps were ON ME.

Not only that, but none of us were happy or well-rested. He’d wake screaming, and I’d struggle for 45 minutes to get him back to sleep. Something had to change, and so we finally got on a loose schedule (I KNOW! A baby on a schedule?!), following the “Eat, Awake, Sleep” cycle. I quickly realized he really didn’t need to nurse to sleep. We instituted a nap and bed time routine. We know how long he generally is able to be awake before getting sleepy again, and we watch for sleep cues like a hawk. We focused on nothing but getting Willem into this new mode of sleep, complete with three decent naps a day, for about two weeks. And you know what? It took. We now have a baby who, most days and nights, actually SLEEPS.

So yeah. It was really, really hard work, but it worked for us.

Sweet sleep.

Nap time, complete with elephants on parade.

On the sleeping note, I scoff a bit at the suggestion that there is any sleeping solution that could be entirely “no cry.” Yeah, yeah, I bought the book. I read the book. The book has a lot of good ideas in it. But a baby, not crying at all? Babies cry to communicate. They cry when they are tired or overstimulated or just want to be held or just want to be put down. Sometimes babies cry, and you can’t figure out a reason. All you can do is hold them and be sweet to them and sing them songs. Sometimes, you even have to put them down into the crib crying (GASP!) and give them a minute to try to work it out themselves. I discovered this one day when, at my wit’s end, I set Willem down – and 30 seconds later, all was quiet. He just needed to settle himself, and no amount of me holding him was going to help him do that.

And you know what? Some babies are just complete shit for sleeping. For real. I think Willem is actually a pretty easy baby (now) in the sleep department, and he still wakes screaming inexplicably some nights. If we ever have a second, he/she will probably be hell on wheels, and I’ll look back on these days, a single, silent tear of wistfulness running down my cheek. Eh, who am I kidding? I’ll be weeping openly.