Saturday, March 27

The birth of our first child

It has been ten months since our first daughter was born. Even now, looking back on that event, I'm filled with a feeling of disbelief that this ever happened. But it did. And we have a beautiful little girl to prove it. Still....

Greta was technically due on June 6th, a date confirmed by two OBs, based on my hormone levels and her in-utero size. Note to self and expecting moms... due dates are just an estimate! According to our midwife, Greta was born with the gestational development of a 39 week old, rather than a 37 week old baby as she supposedly was. But I digress... Needless to say, when I started my maternity leave, Josh and I had these wonderful expectations to have a relaxing three weeks to prepare for Baby. We were both exhausted - I had just finished my last semester in the English program at Eastern Michigan, while Josh completed his last final for law school on Friday evening and attended Commencement on Saturday morning. Initially, I had intended to work until the end of the month, but on Wednesday of the same week, I came down with an awful cold, which when compounded with pregnancy symptoms, turned into a pretty hellish situation. My amazing boss called the situation for what is was and helped to make my last day the same Friday before graduation.

So most of the family that came into town for graduation left by Sunday night. May 17th. We invited Josh's mom to stay with us until Tuesday because the midwife was coming over for a visit and we wanted Mom to be around for that. Well, she certainly was around and for much more than any of us anticipated at the time! That Sunday night, as we sat around and visited with my Dad and Josh's Mom, we started timing contractions between 8 and 10 minutes apart, but after awhile, I got bored and stopped. After all, this baby wasn't due for another 3 weeks, right? :) Monday the 18th was a beautiful day - the sun was shining and we went to the Law School for Mass, after which I met my Dad for lunch. I think that awesome latte I had then had something to do with Miss Greta's early entrance!

Anyhow, we went to bed around 1am on what was then Tuesday morning, the 19th. Josh went to sleep immediately, but my contractions were too strong and too regular for me to fall asleep. So I lay still and worked on my breathing and relaxation, just as a good Bradley student should. This went on for about 2 hours. Then, out of nowhere, the contractions became really hard and painful. There was just no way I could breath through anything. At about 3am, I woke Josh up and gave him some very mixed signals about rubbing my back or not rubbing my back. That and saying "Hail Marys"... something about the rhythmic words of the prayer was very soothing. This went on for half an hour. All this time, however, I didn't think I was in labor. I was totally convinced that I was going through false labor and that somehow, the painful contractions were going to go away at some point. Furthermore, I was determined NOT to be one of those hyper young mothers who called her midwife out of the house at 3am for false labor! Plus, Josh kept reminding me that my water wasn't broken so I "couldn't be in labor." Give us credit, though... it was 3 am and we were ridiculously tired.

All of a sudden, I started shaking all over uncontrollably. Something in the back of mind recalled a sentence in the Bradley book about "transition" and shaking being a sign of transitioning in the the pushing stage of labor. So I told Josh call our midwife. Something told me that "something" was going on and it was going to be messy. I recall very calming telling Josh that I was going to sit on the toilet in case my water broke, to please pick up the rugs in the bedroom and bathroom, and to tell his Mom to call my parents and tell them to pray because I think I'm in labor.

Well, I sat on the toilet and immediately there was this little pop and my water broke. I felt this huge pressure "down there" and I just pushed without even meaning to. It was the craziest feeling in the world. I screamed so loud that I thought my throat was going to tear. It was frightening, relieving, exciting, painful and shattering, all at the same time. If ever there was a moment when I absolutely loved and admired my husband, it was then. Immediately after I stopped yelling, the first thought through my head was "Oh no, Josh is not going to like me screaming. But damn! if he tries to make me stop!!!" The things your mind latches on to at moments like this.... But my husbandly hero didn't visibly flinch, although later he said he was wondering how long the night would be if this continued. He knelt down next to me and put his arms around me. He started to slowly rub my back and I settled my head into his warm shoulder. And my favorite part of this whole experience happened. I suddenly felt to relaxed and pain-free, as if I was unconscious and just floating away. My whole body untensed and for a moment, I was somewhere else. In retrospect, I guess this relaxation let the baby out because seconds later, I heard myself scream again and jump off the toilet, yelling for Josh to "grab the baby!!! she's coming out!!!"

And that's how Greta narrowly missed entering the world via the toilet.

I grabbed her and then Josh grabbed, too. I will never forget the emotion in his voice as he cried, "She's here, she's here!" And I saved my placenta from being yanked out as I reminded Josh that "She's still attached"... he being prepared to run down the hallway with Greta to show her to his Mom. :)

For the next 15 minutes, we wrapped our daughter in a towel and held her to my chest. She was so little, warm, greasy and dark haired! Man, that child has a lot hair! I was in total disbelief and shock as I held her. I didn't even feel like I had given birth; it had happened so quickly. The pushing stage (all two pushes) lasted no more than 10 minutes. 15 minutes later, our midwife arrived. Very vaguely, I remember Josh cutting the cord... me pushing out the placenta, showering, being incredibly dizzy, changing, nursing Greta, getting into bed, pictures being taken... and I really don't remember anything until I woke up around noon and ate about 4 eggs with toast. MMMMM!

And that's how it happened.

Baby Necessities (from one perspective)

Everyone has different needs because everyone's baby and everyone's lifestyle is different. So what works for me may not work for you. But just to throw out a few ideas, here are some of the items we found helpful with our little girl.

Baby Clothes -
For the first 3 months, I really liked onesies, as Greta was small and they stayed on better than dresses. The Gerber brand stuff was crap. They ran small and shrunk in the wash. Carters was much better. Most of those button up from the bottom things are a nuisence because it's such a pain to unbutton them to change diapers.

Blankets -
If you swaddle your baby (which worked wonders for us for the first 2 months), the best place to buy real swaddling blankets is Target. And they're called "Swaddling Blankets" not "Receiving Blankets," which are much smaller and don't keep the baby wrapped.

Baby Gear -
The SWING. We would have died without it. Greta still sleeps in it if she's really fussy. We had two - the Fisher Price fishy one (which someone gave us), and this super-duper fancy expensive Graco Sweet Peace thing. The former worked, while the latter did not. The reason that the Fisher Price worked so well is because it swings pretty fast. Not dangerous, but enough that Great could feel like she was moving. The only draw back is that it's battery powered, but we probably change batteries every 3 weeks. This is the wonder swing:

The Bumbo. By the time Greta was able to hold up her own head, she loved this thing. It's a goofy looking chair that supports the baby all over, allowing them to sit up. She would sit contentedly in this thing for an hour at a time. We started using it when she was 3 months old. Sadly, she outgrew it by 5 months. You'll know they're too big for the Bumbo wen they start arching their backs and pushing themselves out. Here it is. Walmart and Target also carry it.

The Walker. Now that Greta's outgrown the Bumbo, she really loves her walker. Her feet don't quite touch the ground yet, but between being able to sit up and all the cool toys on her tray, she's very happy. I picked this one because it has wheels and I liked the color.

Cribs - So far, we've found it to be a highly decorative means of taking up bedroom space. Greta cosleeps, so we haven't used it much yet. If you don't have it up by the time the baby arrives, don't freak. You probably won't use it right away. But it DOES make a great diaper changing station :)

Baby carrier - I love my BabyHawk. It works like the Moby wrap, only it has less fabric and is easier to use ( I think). We used it from the time Greta was born and you're supposed to be able to use it up to a year or so.

Breast pump - It's all about what your plans are after having the baby. Since I didn't go back to work after Greta was born, I only needed one for "occasional relief." The Medela Harmony is very easy to use and VERY easy to clean (only four or five pieces). And it's not expensive.

Nursing Bras - Muy importante! I bought some from Motherhood Maternity and hated them. They were itchy, rubbed in all the wrong places and aren't flexible at all for nursing. The only Motherhood bra that I'm still using and like is their Sports nursing bra. The best part about this one is that the cross straps in the back is very supportive.
From A Pea in the Pod (formerly Mimi Maternity), I liked this one for its support and thickness.
Note to new moms: When your milk first "comes in," you are going to be and feel huge! Have a couple nice, stretchy bras on hand because your size then is not a good indicator of what you will be in a month from delivery. I liked these ones from Target (and they're pretty cheap). They also work well as sleep bras if you don't mind the back latches.

Stroller - I went a little crazy on this one and have never regretted it! We splurged on a BOB stroller because I go crazy if I can't go outside. This thing goes anywhere, including the sand on the FLorida beaches. It's a jogging stroller and one of the few with a near perfect customer review ratings. If you use it while your baby is still in an infant carseat, you need to buy the $50 Infant Carseat Adapter. The total came to about $500 with tax. We bought the BOB Revolution.

Diapers - When G was a newborn, we loved Pampers because they were really soft and easy on her sensitive skin. However, after she was about 5 months old, we switched to Huggies because she was ALWAYS having blow-outs.

Diaper rash - A&D Ointment is the only thing that worked to clear Greta's diaper rash. She had a nasty one for weeks after she was born and we tried all the different creams. A&D was the best.

Awesome Chewy Choco-Oat Cookies

I am not a huge recipe fan. Pretty much everything I cook is made from scratch and whatever needs to be used up in my 'fridge. However, I am not an instinctual baker. I religiously follow recipes whenever the urge to bake hits me. I found the following recipe online and modified it... so now it's mine :) These are seriously amazing cookies.

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup sugar (raw or turbinado is so much better!)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Cream sugar and butter; add other wet ingredients. Mix in dry ingredients. Form balls, place on cookie sheet, bake for 12 minutes at 325`. Allow to set before removing from sheet. ENJOY!

Friday, March 26

Not another mommy blog

Why blog? It is arguably an exercise in introspection. I held off from starting one for the longest time because the only time I really wanted to write was when I couldn't make sense of things in my head and needed to write them down. And the only time I can't make sense of something in my head is when I'm not 'up to par' emotionally or physically. But, to quote the oft quoted Socrates, "the unexamined life is not worth living"... a thought that makes me think there might just be something to writing and "sending it out there."

I'm not writing necessarily to entertain, amuse, or update anyone. The filters involved in writing to an audience tend to thwart the self-expressive purpose of "writing things out." The fact is that my life and what I do makes so much more sense to me when put down in writing. I'm a "to-do list" sort of person.

This is going to be a messy sort of blog. I intend to post whatever interests me at the time, be it song lyrics, recipes, complaints, baby talk, movie reviews (yes! I have always wanted to write movie reviews), or ideas about that bugbear of a thesis. I organize so many other aspects of my life that I intend to let myself go in writing this blog. So read at your own risk :) You may also learn a lot more about me than necessary. Again, 'caveat emptor'!

It may be that "we cannot have all things to please us" (Gillian Welch, "Annabelle") but here's to making the most of the blessing we have been given.