After sewing up a frenzy, taking a million photos, and anguishing over pricing, my shop is officially open for business. Right now I am testing the market/waters, so if there’s anything that you don’t see that you want to see or something you’d be willing to pay more for, let me know. Also, if there are typos anywhere in the shop, let me know ASAP. I hate typos. (How embarrassing.) Any other feedback is welcomed as well. If you like what you see, spread the word. Tweet, pin, mail a letter to a friend, use that Facebook thingy, whatever gets your social mojo going.
When Cooper was born I didn’t post much to this here blog about his birth story. For the most part that was intentional. I tend to be very private in some ways and very open in other ways (don’t ask how I decide to categorize things, there isn’t much rhyme or reason) and at the time I felt weird about spouting off my birth story on the internet. I didn’t mind telling the story. It wasn’t that I felt sharing it would taint the intimacy of the experience or even gross people out, I guess I just figured most people didn’t want to hear about it, so I never brought it up unless someone asked me. However, I love reading other people’s birth stories and seeing how this common experience of becoming a mother can be so different for each new mom. A part of me always felt a bit hypocritical to hold back my own experience when I so eagerly wanted to hear about other people’s. As I make mention here and there about my experience with Cooper and expectations for this second baby, questions come up and so even though it is much belated, here is the story of how Cooper was born. It is long, but it will be PG and have cute pictures 🙂
The day Cooper was born I woke up around 2 or 2:30 feeling crampy. There were some signs that I was in labor, but mostly I just had this feeling that Cooper was coming. I hadn’t expected to go into labor that soon, but felt really calm about the whole thing. I’m not sure whether that was because I’d just finished a Hypnobirthing course or because Noel and I were both born a month early or because I just had a spiritual sense things would be okay or some combination thereof, but I wasn’t freaked out.
My goal was to have an unmedicated birth and to help accomplish this I’d been advised to labor at home as long as possible. I knew that first time labors could last quite awhile, so I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up because my mind was so awake. I reviewed some stuff on relaxation and visualization during childbirth, read blogs, googled signs of labor to validate my feelings, and warmed up a heating pad for my lower back which had begun to hurt. I periodically timed my contractions and clocked them at about 5-6 minutes apart. My water broke somewhere around 3:30 or 4am, but my contractions weren’t bothering me that much so I decided I wouldn’t wake Noel up until 6am because I wanted him to be fully rested so he could be a good labor coach (I’d also read up a lot on the Bradley Method and liked the idea of husband coached childbirth). I changed my clothes and
returned to the couch and resumed blog stalking.
At about 5am Noel stumbled out of the bedroom and asked if everything was alright. I asked how he felt about having our baby that day. It took awhile for that information to sink in, but once it did he frantically began packing our hospital bags. I told him that I wanted to wait until 8am when the clinic opened and be checked by them just to make sure I was actually in labor. I’d just known too many women who had been turned away by the hospital and didn’t want to be one of them. I also may have been experiencing some sort of denial at this point. Between 6 and 7 am Noel timed contractions (3-4 minutes apart) and tried to convince me that we needed to go to the hospital. The contractions were getting to be a bit intense and so I eventually agreed.
At the time we lived about 5 minutes away from the hospital, but the ride was still pretty horrible. Twice I made Noel stop the car to wait out contractions. We arrived at the hospital at 7:30am and went into the Women and Newborn wing, but then we had no idea where to go (I was going to call the hospital that day and schedule a tour). I sat down in a chair to wait out another contraction and a nurse who was finishing a shift asked if we needed help and directed us to take the elevator to the 2nd floor. Only when we hit the up button did we notice the tiny little plaque that said “Labor and Delivery – 2.” I had to lean against the wall as the woman at the check-in desk asked us a couple of questions. She then sent me through the doors to get checked and detained Noel for a second. I figured that she sent me in alone because she could sense how awful I felt, but after I’d gone she told Noel, “We usually have you fill out paperwork, but they’re probably just going to send you guys home.” Meanwhile, a nurse escorted me to a room, had me change into a gown, and asked me all sorts of ridiculous questions.
Nurse: What makes you think you’re in labor?
Me: I’ve had lots of contractions, my water broke.
Nurse: What makes you think your water broke?
Me: There was a gush of water . . . I had to change my pants.
Nurse: How big of a gush?
Me: I don’t know . . . I did change my clothes . . .
Nurse: If you had to measure it in a cup how much liquid would you say there was?
Me: Umm, I really have no idea. (Make mental note to keep measuring cup on hand next time I’m in labor.)
Finally the nurse checked me. I was at 9cm. The nurse got on the pager (“The 36 weeker is at a 9”) and machines started rolling in. They put me on an IV (I never made it to my Strep B test) and asked a million questions about whether I was an organ donor or had a living will. I calmly answered them in between contractions while Noel gave her dirty looks. A little bit after 8am they told me I could start pushing. Hypnobirthing is all about “breathing the baby down” so at first I just took deep breaths and gently willed the baby down the birth canal. After a few minutes the nurse told me, “You’re going to have to try harder. You aren’t pushing.” I was uncomfortable, didn’t feel like arguing, and had always kind of had my doubts about birthing a baby without pushing, so I started to push. I pushed for about 2 hours before Cooper crowned. In some ways it felt like an eternity, but in other ways the time flew by. They brought a mirror so I could see him crown. The feedback helped me see that the end was in sight.
Everything went pretty quick from there. Because Cooper was technically preterm they whisked him away and gave him a detailed once over before handing him to me. They briefly let me try to breastfeed, but it was rushed and unsuccessful since they wanted to take Cooper to the NICU “just to be safe.” After pricking him and prodding him they decided the only thing wrong with him was his low glucose levels (remember how he didn’t get to eat?) and tried to feed him a bottle, which he promptly spit up. Finally, they brought him to me and everyone felt much better about life. Well, until Noel started thinking about the final that he just missed and how he didn’t have a job, but that all worked itself out.
There are things that bug me about Cooper’s birth, but it wasn’t a traumatizing experience and I think everyone meant well. As a second time mom I feel more confident and plan on being more assertive about some things. Plus, I was very impressed by the hospital on our tour and have high hopes for their policies and procedures. Chances are this labor will be shorter (my total labor with Cooper was about 8 hours, 2 of which were pushing) and there’s a few more things we need to take into account with our traveling (longer drive, dropping Cooper off, etc). Because I don’t particularly want a home birth (just not my thing) or especially a side of the interstate birth, we’re going to keep the at home laboring to a minimal and head to the hospital as soon as things start moving along, just to be on the safe side.
This picture of my great grandmother sits on my dresser. When my mother first gave it to me a few years ago, I put it there simply because the frame matched the one holding a family photo and it added a nice aesthetic balance to my bedroom. Lately though, the photo has taken on more meaning.
Ellen Blattman Olsen lived until she was 101. She was a widow for around 50 years and up until a week before her death she lived in her own apartment. Every time I went to visit her, which sadly wasn’t often enough, she remembered who I was even though I was one of many of her great grandchildren. I remember visiting her one time in particular when she was around 98 or 99 and we found her making cookies in anticipation of our visit. It was very difficult for my grandmother to persuade her to sit down and take it easy. The woman wasn’t very good at “taking it easy.” She must have told us “this Christmas will probably be my last” for 20 years, but she just kept on ticking.
Several years before her death, she wrote down her life history and gave one copy to each family. I was a teenager at the time and I remember pouring over the pages and being fascinated. To me, she’d always just been this nice old lady with white hair, but she’d lived a vibrant life growing up in Norway and then moving to the United States after converting to the LDS faith. She endured many trials, but also witnessed many miracles during her life. I remember thinking I would have felt lucky if I’d had only one of her many testimony building experiences.
She passed away February 16th, 2008. I’ve never been to such an enjoyable viewing. The room was filled with tons of pink flowers (pink was her favorite color), making the cold, snowy day feel like spring. Instead of being a somber experience, the evening was truly a celebration of life as the funeral home was filled with laughter and reminiscing relatives.
When we were coming up with names for our first kid, Cooper was the only one that ever seemed to work. We even tried to come up with other names since we feared contention from Noel’s relatives since we knew the name was coveted by more than a few. Still, nothing else fit. He was just supposed to be a Cooper. I’ve felt the same with this baby. Even before the 20 week ultrasound I’d told Noel a couple of times, “We’re going to have a girl and we’re going to name her Ellen.” For whatever reason, she’s supposed to be an Ellen. I honestly can’t think of a better, stronger name with a more inspiring namesake. I can’t wait to see what kind of spunk this new little Ellen brings into our lives.
I’ve got a super exciting sewing update for you today. We’re planning on having the new baby sleep in our room for awhile when she first arrives. We have a pack ‘n play where the mattress pad can function as a hanging bassinet and I wanted to make it a bit more comfy and homey for our little one. I made a super soft swaddle blanket using two different types of minky. I used this tutorial to produce the self-binding for the blanket. I had to read through the tutorial about four times because some of the steps didn’t seem intuitive to me, but once my neurons started firing it wasn’t that hard. The minky was a bit slippery and didn’t produce as clean of a border as I’m sure the recommended flannel would have, but I still adore the blanket and can’t wait to wrap a tiny baby in it. For the sheet, I just used some fabric I had leftover from another project and followed this tutorial. The sheet was SUPER easy to make, so I’ll probably whip up at least one more.
As of today there are only 100 days left until my “due date.” Dipping under 100 days makes my heart race a bit as it makes me realize how quickly things are going to change. Am I ready for the return to sleepless nights? Am I up to the challenge of taking care of two kids? What if I can’t find anyone to watch Cooper when I go into labor? Are any of my maternity clothes even going to fit if I really have that many more days to go? Then there’s something that makes my heart beat even quicker: the 100 days is only based on one of my due dates. So far we’ve had three: March 17th, March 10th, and March 3rd (which is a three week span for those, like me, that must consult calendars to figure these sort of things out). I’d heard of people having two due dates (Haven’t known anyone yet with three, any of you had this happen?), but always figured it was for people that couldn’t remember when they last had a period and not for OCD trackers such as myself. Guess I was wrong.
Right now we’re working off the middle due date, but the three potentials make this whole unpredictable experience even that much more befuddling. I realize the whole thing is just very scientific guesswork, but I always kind of liked having a “target date” to work with. Cooper himself (who only ever had one solid due date) came a day past 36 weeks. (All of his own accord and was completely normal and healthy for those whose hearts just skipped a beat.) My doctor tells me I statistically have a 30% chance of delivering earlier than that this time around and while I’m a firm believer that babies generally come when they’re supposed too, I’m still using all my powers to will this baby into not coming until at least 37 weeks. I’d just prefer not to put the well-meaning hospital staff into an unnecessary panic this time around. But what exactly would 37 weeks even be? February 11, 18, or 25? Hmm. As if pregnancy alone didn’t already have the power to take emotionally stable people and render them certifiably insane, now my doctor is playing mind games with me. Is anyone else’s brain spinning with all the numbers?
I know it sounds like I’m freaking out, and well, I guess I am, but at the same time I’m fully aware that whatever is supposed to happen will happen and there’s really not a whole lot I can do about it. Earlier or later, the baby will come. She’ll be beautiful and we’ll figure out what it means to be four instead of three without (hardly) ever looking back. Now if only I could figure out how to permanently setup camp in the part of my brain that generates those thoughts. In the meantime, I have somewhere between 74 to 107 days left of this belly madness (Or more. Or less. But who’s counting?) and you better believe my hospital bag is going to be packed early. Basically, I plan on spending the entire month of February not expecting to go into labor, but being prepared if it happens. Now will someone please destroy all my calendars so my over-planning-brain won’t be able to mull over the endless possibilities anymore?
Cooper’s spirit animal seemed to be a monkey. He had blankets, outfits, and pajamas with monkeys on them and was even a monkey for Halloween. Well, I have a feeling that the new baby’s spirit animal is going to be an elephant. She already has elephant sheets that I purchased before I even knew the gender
and I keep finding elephant clothes that I must have.
Then when I go to make things, I keep involving elephants.
Not sure what the elephant fetish means, but I think it’s somewhat coincidental that the baby’s name also starts with “E.” However, that’s a story for another day 🙂
I’m generally very excited for October to be over since I don’t really get into Halloween that much and November is one of my favorite months, but this October treated us really well. A brief recap:
My sister and her husband, Joe, came to visit us.
We loved having them, although we’re afraid we nearly bored them to death,
We had our “halfway” ultrasound and discovered that baby #2 is a girl!
Cooper discovered the joys of Halloween and helped us not feel so curmudgeonly about the holiday.
Not even the uncharacteristic amounts of snow were able to get us down this past month. Perhaps October is making a comeback.
Everyone thinks that Cooper is Noel’s replica. For some reason, this always makes me feel a little put out. I mean, I would like to think that I have something to do with who Cooper is (not to mention his existence). When we found out about baby #2 I instinctively thought “girl.” I was so sure of it that I frequently referred to the baby as “she” and every time we saw cute girl clothes on clearance Noel had to restrain me from buying them. As I talked to other women about mother’s intuition my feelings of surety began to waver though. Countless women told me they had guessed wrong with every child and that there was no way to “know” the gender of your baby until the ultrasound. It made me feel sad that perhaps my feelings were untrustworthy and I began to feel nervous about our upcoming ultrasound. Fortunately, my intuition did not suffer any crushing blows today and I can continue to trust myself. We’re ecstatic to welcome a little girl into our family, and I figure it gets me one step closer to the prospect of having a “mini me.”
It looks like our little one is a poser. The ultrasound tech kept saying, “I could take pictures of your baby all day, she’s so cute and cooperative!” I could have guessed she wasn’t camera shy though, do you remember the initial ultrasound at 11 weeks? Even then she was hamming it up for her photo shoot. Maybe I’m biased, but how many early ultrasounds look that good? Seriously, at that point Cooper just looked like an alien.
Last night we got back home from a trip to Utah. Somewhere in our travels, Cooper and I both managed to catch some sort of a head cold. Between not feeling so hot and trying to cut the remainder of his teeth simultaneously, last night was a bit rough. Funny thing is though, as I was rocking my little boy at 4am I started thinking about Cooper’s past sleep history and I couldn’t help thinking, “This isn’t that bad.”
I’ve blogged about it some before, but Cooper hasn’t been the best sleeper. Just when other kids were beginning to sleep through the night (~4 or 5 months) Cooper began waking up, almost religiously, at about 3:30am. He would then scream (not cry or whimper) for 2 hours straight. He didn’t want food, he didn’t want a drink, he didn’t even really want to be held – which he made abundantly clear by pushing away from us with all his strength. We read a million sleep books, got all sorts of advice, and tried pretty much every method besides drugging the kid (although it was deeply considered 🙂 ). Sometimes we would think a particular method was working because these nightmarish occurrences have always been somewhat sporadic and we would go a couple of days or maybe even a week without one, but every time we were about to breathe a sigh of relief and close that sleepless chapter of our lives they would always start up again with even more intense frequency. When other moms told me I just needed to sleep train him or complained about their 4 month-olds still waking up to nurse I actually had to suppress urges to tackle them to the ground or repeatedly call their house in the middle of the night. (Seriously, sleep deprivation can make you CRAZY.) I solicited advice from my pediatrician and read up on night terrors (had them myself as a child), but the answers were all the same: just give it time, all you can do is wait for him to outgrow it. In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the most helpful or reassuring advice when your personal sleep habits are being affected.
When Cooper was about 14 months old (about 2 1/2 months ago) this whole saga was still going on. Every night we’d go to bed, unsure of whether we’d sleep peacefully through the night or whether we’d spend two hours pointlessly trying to console our little one. At that point I was beginning to suspect that I was pregnant and the prospect always seemed particularly daunting in the early morning hours. I remember one particular night where Cooper lay thrashing and screaming in his crib and I sat pathetically on the floor sobbing and wondering how on earth I could handle two kids. When Noel came in to check on us, I’m pretty sure we had him flabbergasted as to who to console first.
So far this has been a long and whiny post, but are you ready for the good part? Shortly after I found out for sure that I was pregnant Cooper’s middle of the night tantrums stopped. It’s been two months now and while he still often stirs and needs a drink or help finding a binky that’s escaped him, these problems are typically remedied in a few brief minutes and seem hardly a bother in comparison. As Cooper snuggled up against me and we rocked in his chair last night I thought about how this new sleep development is nothing short of a miracle and how nice it’s been to not fret about my distressed toddler these past two months. While I’ve put in an order for this next baby to be a good sleeper and I have my fingers crossed that Cooper won’t have any more problems, I know that the God really is “faithful [and] will not suffer [us] to be [tried] above that [we] are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The other day Noel and I were hanging pictures in our living room. To make sure everything was even and centered we measured and then made marks on the wall with a pencil. Unfortunately, Cooper was watching and now thinks you are supposed to draw on the wall with pencil . . .
Thank you for all your congratulations. To answer some of your questions I’m doing really pretty well. Not feeling quite as spectacular as I did with Cooper, but on the spectrum of pregnancy I would say my complaints are still pretty mild. The Big Bro shirt Cooper was sporting is something I made. I made the body of the shirt out of an old t-shirt of mine, cut the letters out, ironed them on with some iron on tape, and then did a zig-zag stitch outline with my machine. Fairly simple. We hope to get the random due date calculator up and running this weekend (Remember that awesomeness from last time?) , so look forward to that excitement every time you visit our blog for the next couple of months. (Not gonna lie, when I was pregnant with Cooper I used to sit and refresh the page until I got a due date that satisfied me :))