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.

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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.

Willem-Speak

As I get closer and closer to starting this whole child-rearing journey all over again with a second little guy, I find myself constantly amazed of Willem, our first little guy. I swear the kid has grown leaps and bounds in the last several months.

End of the year snapshots.

The latest: potty learning and language. Maybe we’ll get to potty training some other day. Let’s just say I am completely amazed at his ability to really get it this time around. It’s totally impressive to me that in just a week, we are really getting this down. I’m so glad to be laying this groundwork now, even if things slip a little (understandably) when Baby #2 arrives.

Now for the fun stuff: language. A few choice phrases in Willem-ese:

  • Helicopter: “apart-ter-ter”
  • Octopus: “ah-puh-tata”
  • Lawn mower: “murr-murr”
  • Again: “ah-NENN”
  • Stuck (his favorite book lately): “kuh”
  • Semi (as in semi truck): “hem-eye”

Some other faves:

  • Together/Apart: he says “apart” with such gusto, all high at the end – “ah-PAAAARRRRT.” He also loves pulling things apart just so he can say it over and over.
  • “Oh no!” repeated in a very high, sweet falsetto, usually when he does something like purposely pulling his train off the tracks
  • “Milk” – which sounds more like a goofy “MEEEEEELK” (totally taught him that, I’m so proud)

 

And just to get a real dose of the cuteness over here:

Dusting Off the Old Blog: Year in Review

Wow, has it really been since MAY since I posted? Somewhat fittingly, it appears my last post focused on the general feeling of living life like a chicken with its head cut off, a feeling which characterized much of 2015.

I’m happy to say things have slowed down just a tad as the year comes to a close – enough for me to update the blog! – although I fully anticipate the whole “head above water” thing to jumpstart again soon enough for reasons which will become abundantly clear in just a mo’.

So here’s a sampling of what we’ve been up to since May of this year:

  • About a week after my last post, we learned there would be another little critter added to our homestead. Of the two-legged variety. And, no, I’m not talking about chickens. Here’s Willem making the big announcement for us:
    20150712. Big brother! 

    And here I am today at 34 weeks. Baby #2 is due January 30, 2016, and we are thrilled (oh, and it’s a boy!):
    20151218. 34 weeks.

  • The Keystone-Monon Community Garden work chugged along, hitting a number of snags, all of which were pretty much out of our control, which drives me bonkers. I’ve learned a tremendous amount already about launching such a project from the ground up, and I am completely thrilled that, after one last hail Mary pass right before the changing of the guard with the mayoral elections in November, we’ve made it happen! We have our agreement with the city signed to begin building at Arsenal Park in 2016, we raised over $3,000 in 2015, we have a coalition of excited neighbors, and we’ve secured insurance. Now… WE BUILD! We’ll be picking back up in January to plan out what needs to happen to have our official ribbon cutting in May. I am hoping to still be massively pregnant by that meeting and not have recently birthed a small child… but we’ll see.

    Painting out the outlines for the garden:
    Arsenal Park.
  • In the span of about a month, Chris and I listed and sold our wonderful first home and moved into a new one! We tried to find a way to make our old home work for our growing family, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t happening. And then we found our new home: a half-acre of land only a few blocks from our old home (in other words, in the same part of the city we know and love). Three bedrooms, two baths, a giant maple tree out front, and a garage I can actually park in. And did I mention the land? It all worked out just as it should: the first people to see our old home put an offer in the next morning, and within a month, our beautiful little homestead in the city was sold. It hurts my heart a little that I won’t get to enjoy the asparagus I planted this past spring or the strawberries and blackberries, but I can plant all of those again and then some in our new space. And, oh, I will. 

    The old house, all prepped for sale: 20150819. Prepping the house for sale.

For sale!

And the new place! 20150919. Tearing out grass, planting oregano, sage, lavender, thyme, and butterfly weed.

Chris and my dad building the new coop:
20150919. Building the new chicken coop.

201510. The finished coop.

Moving the bees:
20150920. Moving the bees.

Our amazing maple tree:

201510. Fall outside times. Our amazing maple.

  • What else, what else? Oh, right. Chris got a new job! Well, that happened back in April, but this year he has really settled in and flourished. I am so grateful that he found a place where he can grow and be challenged and has the support to do so. Also, I quit one of my part-time jobs as of this month. It was a tough decision, but I already feel lighter. And I have no clue how I was going to pull it off once I had another little kiddo to care for all day.Oh, and Chris’ new place of employ? It’s a big enough company to host a holiday party  (I’ve only ever worked for small non-profits, so this was super novel to me – can’t resist a photo booth):

    Holiday party photo booth.

 And a glimpse into the rest of the second part of 2015: Coxhall Gardens.

20150628. Trip to Des Moines.

11947972_942145505828864_6141154475902616680_o

 

20150811. Indiana State Fair.

 

100 Acres morning.

 

On the homefront.

 

20151021. Offset button band sweater.

20150926. Anderson Orchard.
20150926. Anderson Orchard.

20150926. Anderson Orchard.

Halloween 2015! Mass Ave trick or treating and Dia de los Muertos at the Eiteljorg.

Everybody's getting cozy for story time - especially Birdie.

Cozy snuggle time with grandma (aka "Ma").

IMG_20151112_154602

End of the year snapshots.

End of the year snapshots.

Warm December chicken petting.

20151201. First Christmas present tradition: Christmas book and jammies.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our half-acre of happiness to you and yours!
IMG_7726

Head: Above Water?

This is both Willem’s latest adorable move and how I’ve been feeling lately:
Spinny Willem

*Huge shout out to my buddy Ian for being amazing and creating the above magic. Amazing magic!

Spring Has Sprung, the Grass Is ‘Ris…

I wonder where the birdies is!*

*This was my late Grandma Farm’s favorite springtime poem, my mom told me recently. She would recite it every time my mom saw her in the spring – spring has sprung, the grass is ‘ris, I wonder where the birdies is! – then cackle with delight. I just love that.

Today was a simply fantastic day. It’s also that wonderful time of year where, even though still stark and brown, the air holds promise of greener days, of growing things, of time spent rolling in the grass and picking dinner from the backyard:

  • I spent a wonderful morning visiting just a few of the many churches in our neighborhood, inviting them to the upcoming Keystone-Monon Community Garden organizing meeting. So many friendly, smiling, welcoming faces and well wishes – it was a great way to start a busy Sunday! I’m reminded yet again of how many awesome people there are, right in our neighborhood, I have yet to meet. Also, if my church growing up had been like any of these? Well, maybe I’d still be a church goer. They made me feel embraced and welcomed.
20150322. First days of spring.

Although you can’t tell, so much has happened already this spring: fresh compost in all the beds, soil turned, hay removed, things cut back, sweet potato bin readied, and the first seeds planted.

  • I got some work done – a grant application for our after-school and summer camp programs, the Eat Well Club, and editing a monthly online newsletter – then got some food into the boy post-nap. Then….
20150322. First days of spring.

Gardening doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive: we’ve used this same chicken wire and canvas drop cloths to grow sweet potatoes three years now.

  • We headed back out and wandered around Arsenal Park, where we’re hoping the community garden will take root (literally), putting flyers on every house around the perimeter. I feel so strongly that we need our community to drive this effort, thus my flyering and helloing efforts this morning. Facebook and email only go so far.
20150322. First days of spring.

The middle bin was full of amazing compost just last week. Now? It’s mixed into all of our garden beds for some hopefully amazing plants this year.

  • THEN we had a very special surprise for our fearless leaders, who are expecting their first baby any day now. We headed to the farm at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center, which is a fantastic place to enjoy the spring weather. I was feeling a little lazy while volunteers moved wheelbarrows full of mulch all over, readying the beds, but Willem and I had the important task of hanging out with 4-year-old Berlin. She loved Willem and really wanted to teach him to not eat the mulch. Sorry, Berlin, we’re not quite there yet, but we appreciate your steadfast efforts and sweetness.
20150322. First days of spring.

Garlic, always our first green things!

  • Fearless leaders arrived, and we handed over their gift – well wishes for them and the newest little one from the entire Indianapolis food, health, and yoga community. We couldn’t think of a single “thing” to give them; but then we thought of the amazing work they have done to build this community right here in Indianapolis and realized the most meaningful thing we could give them were that community’s words, hopes, and dreams for their new family.
20150322. First days of spring.

Some fresh chicken bedding for the run and a set of Chris’ still-empty bee hives (I think he plans to use that for a swarm if he’s lucky enough to find one this year).

  • Willem and I finished our flyering, then headed home. On the way back, I noticed a bunch of folks a few doors down, doing some lawn work and hanging. Willem and I sauntered over, invited them to the next community garden meeting, then chatted all things gardening and neighborhood block partying. This community organizing stuff is making me bold!

Spring, friends. It’s here, in all its still-slightly-brown glory!

A Year Ago Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

I don’t think I will ever feel as strongly, strangely nostalgic for “a year ago today” as I do right now. See, in a few days, my first baby turns one. A year ago, he was still part of me. And after his first birthday? Well, a year ago from then, every day moving forward for the rest of his life, he will have been his own little awesome person. You follow me on that one? Good.

Stats have been taken! Now the kid just needs to turn one.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? I mean, there are anniversaries, of course. This past September 7, I certainly reminisced fondly about a year prior, when I got to marry my love, my best friend, and one all-around awesome, standup dude.

But, just as all the Bradley classes and relaxation techniques in the world could not possibly prepare me for how painful labor was, I also couldn’t begin to fathom how completely life would change once Willem joined us. I read up on every possible thing I could before Willem was born: labor, caring for a newborn, baby sleep, cloth diapering, hospital packing lists, stroller reviews, etc. etc. etc. I read until I could read no more… and then I rallied and read some more.

None of those things could ever prepare me for life as it is today. It sounds so cliche, and I can’t even quite describe it. The closest I can come, though, is thinking about where I was a year ago. I remember how excited I was, how ready I felt, how impatient… and I laugh at myself for how completely unprepared I really was. 

So where was I a year ago? A year ago yesterday, 2/15, was my due date. Chris and I celebrated by getting splurge yarn at Mass Ave. Knit Shop and eating delicious Mexican food at La Margarita in Fountain Square.

Splurge yarn:
Hearts.

BELLY:
20140215. Hello, due date!

A year ago today, 2/16, Chris, Birdie, and I tromped through over a foot of snow at Holliday Park, determined to walk this baby out of me.

Birdie and the Sleepies

A year ago tomorrow, 2/17, was my first day of maternity leave. I visited the midwife in the morning, bought some photo frames, and made it home in front of an ice storm. I framed a bunch of our wedding photos, got the diaper changing area ready… and as I walked out of the nursery, my water broke.

I remember that feeling like it was yesterday. Up to that point, it was all theoretical, the whole “having a baby” thing. Once your water breaks, you realize, OH HOLY CRAP, child birth is imminent. Like, it is ON, people. You also quickly realize that you are both the train conductor and passenger on this ride and at a level of intensity you might never experience again. This is actually happening to you – you’re the only one who can actually do this whole child birth thing – and, at the same time, you are totally just along for the ride. Oh holy shitsnacks.

And then a year ago the day after all that? Well, on 2/18, Willem was here.

Baby K has arrived.

Baby K has arrived.

Baby K has arrived.

Baby K has arrived.

And nothing will ever be the same again. What a lovely life.
20150127. Sickie kid.

Hello, Blogness, My Old Friend

WOW. Has it really been a month and a half since my last post?! HELLO, little long lost bloggie. And how are you?

I wish I could say I’ve been solving world hunger or writing a manifesto that will lead to sustained peace on Earth and good will towards mankind, but no. I’ve just been busy – working, living, prepping for and then celebrating Christmas, playing with my super amazing kid, and watching movies in my jammies with my husband.

So what drove me to post today? It’s pretty self-serving: garden planning has begun, and this is still my official place to store such knowledge for future seasons. This is the second year in a row that I’ve received a gift card to Seed Savers Exchange for Christmas, which is pretty much the best idea ever for a gardener in the winter. Just cracking open that amazingly colorful catalog on these insanely gray December days has been good for the soul.

Day 43. I think Seed Savers Exchange has perfected when to send their dreamy catalogs, full of promises of beautiful, colorful, delicious growing things. Don't worry, Willem, we'll get plenty of green beans. #100happydays

And today was the magical seed ordering day. I also ordered a heat mat, and we’re heading to Lowe’s later to step up our game with lighting in the basement. No more lights zip tied to the bottoms of shelves; no more of this propping up of seedling trays on various boxes to get them closer to or further away from the lights depending on their stage of development; no more needing to constantly rotate the trays so they actually get sort of, kind of equal lighting. We will have adjustable, bright, wonderful lights this year, and my life will be so much easier for it.

Here’s what I ordered today. It also turns out I have an insane number of seeds packets from last season, too, which I’m hoping will still germinate somewhat successfully. Mama needs her arugula!

Exciting things this year: cucumbers will make their return to the garden, and we’ll be trying to grow acorn squash and muskmelon for the first time this year. Oh, and I’m going to have a lot of space dedicated to growing onions right this year. And maybe an entire husk cherry area somewhere. And tomatillos!

  • Tomatillo, Green Husk
  • Swiss Chard, Five Color Silverbeet
  • Tomato, Mexico Midget
  • Tomato, Italian Heirloom
  • Squash, Table Queen
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Tequila Sunrise
  • Pepper, Jalapeno Traveler Strain
  • Onion, Red Wethersfield
  • Melon, Schoon’s Hard Shell
  • Kale, Lacinato
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Japanese Climbing
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood

Basically? After my disappointing seed starting endeavor last year (I DID have a baby in the midst of prime seed starting time, so I have a  good excuse), I AM NOT MESSING AROUND THIS YEAR. You hear me, future garden? NOT. MESSING. AROUND.

Wendell Berry: Still the Man

I don’t know if I’ve posted it here before, but I stumbled across one of my favorite writings from Wendell Berry today. I love being reminded of a beloved poem or essay or quote and breathing in the words all over again. This poem is an old friend who I haven’t seen in a while, and re-reading the words is like meeting over coffee and picking up right where we left off.

Day 18. Willem's magnet board, covered in cards, prints, and artwork from loved ones. #100happydays

Case in point:

“Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.”

Day 14. Chive and carrot seeds, shaken loose from their seed pods to feed us next summer. #100happydays

And the closing:

“As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.”

Day 16. Church sign wisdom I can support. Let's all fail gloriously today! #100happydays

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.