Sometimes I like to read through old blog posts or journal entries to reminisce or simply remember things. With Ellen’s first birthday fast approaching, I’ve been looking back at what life was like around this time last year and I would like to officially apologize to any of you who were reading the blog last February. Whew, I was a ray of sunshine and you were getting the upbeat version. If you managed to get through that and are still reading, thank you. (An even bigger thank you to Noel who had the privilege of living with hugely pregnant me and NEVER got the sugar coated version of anything.) Thankfully this February has been much better since I’ve had the privilege of seeing this little lady’s smiles instead of having her kick me in the ribs.
The day Ellen was born I had an OB appointment first thing in the morning. I was dilated to a 5 and my doctor told me that the baby was very low which meant she would likely come very fast when things got rolling. She expressed concern that a) I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time to get antibiotics for my Strep B and b) I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time to deliver. My doctor had a shift at the hospital later that day and offered, if I wanted, to call and see if they could fit me in. They would get my antibiotics going and when she arrived for her shift she would break my water. I was nervous about agreeing to do this, but also very tired of being pregnant and had spent a good deal of time worrying about getting to the hospital in time (our hospital is in downtown Denver and about 25 minutes from our house when traffic is good). My biggest fear of agreeing to this plan was that the initial medical intervention would lead to more medical intervention and complications and I would end up having a horrible experience. My doctor knew my goal was to birth without medication and assured me that she thought breaking my water would be enough to kick me into active labor and that we could try walking and other methods if labor stalled before moving to Pitocin. We agreed and left the office still discussing whether this was a smart move or not. Our minds were racing so much that we drove six blocks past our street before either of us realized it. Once at home I called my mom (whose intuition and wisdom I trust immensely) and talked to her about the plan and my concerns. My mom told me she thought I’d be fine and thought this was probably the smart thing to do. I began to feel more calm about things and also kept praying that if this was the wrong decision that I would know. We spent the next few hours tying up loose ends (Noel at work and me at home). It was kind of a weird feeling to know our baby was coming later that day, but it was also very exciting. It was nice to have the advance notice so we could get things in order and I didn’t have to panic when it took me almost two hours to work out the schedules of two different people to take care of Cooper.
Once at the hospital everything was extremely chill. It was actually kind of a nice change to chat leisurely with the staff, get all the paperwork taken care of, and watch TV episodes while we hung out. After I’d been on the antibiotics for five hours my doctor broke my water. I was optimistically hoping labor wouldn’t last for more than four hours, but knew that it certainly could. My contractions began to increase almost immediately (they were already about 7 minutes apart on their own beforehand) and they wanted to keep me on the monitor for 20 minutes to make sure Ellen was handling everything okay. Ellen was super squirmy, so 20 minutes turned into about 40. By the time I got unhooked from everything I was starting to feel pretty achy and wanted to get into the tub. They checked my dilation while the tub was filling. I was at a 7 and was advised to get out of the tub if I felt any increase in pressure. The tub jets made my achy legs feel better, but the growing pressure was undeniable. I wanted to be tough, but also didn’t want to be stupid. When I told Noel that I felt like the pressure was increasing after only being in the tub 15 minutes he pressed the call button without hesitation because he knew that me saying anything meant a lot. I told the nurse I felt like the pressure was increasing, but maybe I was just being a wuss. She told me, “Honey, you’re not a wuss, you’re at a 9 ” and started getting everything set up for delivery. A few very strong contractions later I started to feel like pushing. I asked the nurse if I was “there yet” and before she could check me my body began to involuntarily push. It was a crazy, but amazing feeling. The doctors (it’s a teaching hospital so my doctor and a doctor doing his residency attended to me) rushed into the room and told me not to push while they got their gloves on. I pushed only a few times (the duration of one contraction) and Ellen was out. After unwrapping the cord from her neck (she was double wrapped) they laid her on my chest. This was not an experience I got with Cooper and I was amazed at how she really did naturally begin sticking her tongue out in search of milk. They let Noel cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing and when all the pressing things had been attended to they left us alone for an entire hour to bond as a family. It was such a peaceful and wonderful time. Only after that hour did they bug us with typical hospital policies and procedures (they didn’t even weigh her until then).
The week before Ellen was born I was despairing about how awful it was to be so hugely pregnant and the thought came to me, “Maybe you have to be pregnant this long because you need to keep her inside of you long enough to get to the point in pregnancy where the doctor would feel safe starting your labor so you can avoid a problematic situation you haven’t even thought of.” It seemed crazy at the time and I immediately categorized it with other pessimistic thoughts I’d had about delivering a 10 lb baby on St. Patrick’s day or having an induction that ended in an emergency c-section. I’ll never know if I narrowly escaped having an interstate birth or something worse, but I feel very good about how everything happened. Active labor lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes which was incredibly fast, but also very nice. Even though Ellen was about two pounds bigger than Cooper she was much easier to birth and I tore a lot less (I only needed one stitch). The whole thing was a really good experience and I can’t say enough about the hospital and it’s staff. Recovery has been better this time around as well. Thus far Ellen is a really good baby and we feel so blessed to have her in our home.
- Lying on my back.
- Rolling over in bed.
- Painting my toenails.
- Wearing high heels.
- Jumping. (I think I currently have a vertical leap of 1/4.”)
- Fetching things from under the couch.
- Facing the stove/sink/changing table head on (instead of having to turn sideways).
- Being kept up by a crying child (instead of discomfort).
- Fitting back into my maternity clothes. (I seriously almost wore a sheet toga-style to church since nothing else really fit.)
Although it went against the intuition of all our family members and defied a few laws of physics (most specifically gravity), February was NOT baby month. Even with the extra day, we just couldn’t pull it off. However, March is a more pleasant month in my opinion (take no offense Groundhog Day) so I guess I’m not that put out (I mean, you know, other than being super uncomfortable) that this baby will be born in March.
Even though February is technically the shortest month, this year it has been excruciatingly long at our house. Despite the growing anxiety and the periodic meltdowns, there have been many “tender mercies” that have really helped me not feel so dismal and alone. Loving phone calls from my parents who knew exactly what to say to make me laugh, an offer to throw a baby shower from a new friend at church, countless prayers from family and friends, a vibrant bouquet from my sis-in-law to brighten my spirits, a comforting Priesthood blessing from my ever patient husband, and many other small gestures have really made a difference for me these last couple of weeks. Nine more days till that menacing due date. We’ll keep you posted.
Still no baby, but it won’t be too much longer.
Every Sunday we drive by the Unitarian church and read their sermon topic off their sign. They always have such interesting topics and some Sundays it is so tempting to attend their one hour sermon instead of our three hour block. (One Sunday I was sitting in the last hour of church and one of the other primary instructors pulled out this cartoon.) The past couple of Sundays I’ve dutifully attended sacrament meeting and then taught my bunch of wiggly 7-9 year-olds (Ten of them were there this last Sunday, ten!), but the last hour I’ve been ditching my final meeting -where it’s my duty to sit in an uncomfortable folding chair and shush kids for that excruciating third hour of church. It is seriously debatable who wiggles more, the three-year-olds or me. Instead, I’ve been sitting in the foyer in one of the comfy armchairs. I stare out the window and ponder or talk with other adults (so nice) as they go about their business. At first I felt kind of guilty, but it’s honestly made my Sundays so much better since I leave church feeling more at peace and less like I’m going to kill someone.
On Saturday it was really warm out. Noel went for a run and I pushed Cooper around in the Chariot at a moderate waddle. When we got home I stretched barefoot in our front yard and dreamed about pushing two kids around on sunny spring days. I too often forget how much better I feel when I spend time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Here’s to looking forward to double the snuggles and more sunny days in the not too distant future.
About a month ago Noel got assigned to be in charge of a church activity on February 24th. When he told me I was
mad irritated in disbelief surprised. I heatedly said to him, “Are you kidding me? Don’t they know we’re going to have a newborn?” (My typically trustworthy intuition has been frustratingly off lately, but that’s another story.) As the event neared we made preparations for a low-key “Garden Expo” and I continued to complain. Noel simply told me, “Well, why don’t you just have the baby so everyone realizes that we are people too . . . and maybe they’ll never ask me to plan anything else ever again.” (That last part was said with a great deal of optimism by the way.) As it turns out, Ellen is a far less vindictive person than I am. Even though Noel had done a really good job of delegating most tasks, she was considerate enough to hang out a little longer so we could still be there. So sweet. The evening was pretty minimal (no centerpieces or special musical numbers), but was just a good opportunity to learn tips from a local farmer, eat garden fresh food from Costco, and get excited for spring. I think everyone, except maybe the ginormous 8 1/2 month pregnant lady, had a really good time.
It snowed last night, which logically got me worrying about my unborn child’s tiny feet staying warm. The blog Delia Creates has been doing a nesting series the last week or so and one of the days featured a tutorial for some baby booties. They looked simple enough, so I whipped up a pair this morning. When Noel came home for lunch I was just finishing them up and asked what he thought. He said, “They’re inside out, right?” I was about to sew some slightly bulky flowers to the outside to add some spunk, but his comment got me thinking that maybe they could be reversible. Instead of the flowers, I made some faux buttons out of felt so the booties could still be turned inside out and not irritate our little girl’s ankles.
Now that Ellen’s tiny toes have been accounted for, maybe she’ll decide to come . . .
As of today I am 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant. This is the longest I’ve ever been pregnant.* It’s nice to be considered full-term, but I’m honestly kind of bummed that the baby hasn’t come. I don’t even feel like ranting about the crazy, insensitive things people said to me at church or joking about how I should come up with a prize to give the thousandth person to ask if I’ve had the baby yet. The energy burst is gone and I’ve run out of natural labor inducers I’m willing to try. I guess I just need to learn the hardest lesson of all: sometimes I am not in control and I just have to wait.
*I know some of you are thinking “Oh, you think that’s a long time, well I was pregnant for 45 weeks before my child was born” and you’re right, that is a long time and that would be hard, but for me this is hard.
I’ve been pretty tired lately. More tired than I’ve been my whole pregnancy. You can tell by my To-Do list. Recently it has honestly looked about like this:
- Walk 1 mile
- Watch The Bachelor on Hulu
- Take a bath and listen to “Birthing Affirmations” (Hypnobirthing track that gets you thinking positively about birth)
- Do hair and get dressed
- Load dishwasher
Even with Noel making lunch and me letting Cooper stand 4 inches away from the TV while he watches DVDs, it will take me the full eight hours that Noel is at work to get through the entire list. Then when Noel gets home from work, I lay on the couch and complain about how tired and uncomfortable I am while he tries to make something for dinner that I might actually eat. I might clear the table or give Cooper a bath, but most likely Noel will do those things while I bounce on my exercise ball and then nearly fall asleep in Cooper’s bed. (Poor Noel is such a trooper.) Lately though, I’ve had this crazy resurgence of energy. For example, on Monday I went to Target to buy Cooper a new binky. (I was really hoping his old one would last until we were ready to take it away, but it’s in pretty sorry shape.) On a whim I decided to slowly meander the store and look at all the clearance shelves. I came across some curtains at 50% off that fit perfectly into the color scheme I have in mind for our front room. When I got home I set to work hemming the curtains and making pillows out of the extra fabric for the couches. Keep in mind, I haven’t touched my sewing machine in a month.
When Noel came home for lunch he was surprised and told me to try and take it easy that afternoon. I lounged for about 45 minutes checking emails and blogs before I felt a compulsion to clean our kitchen chairs. I cleaned in between all the slats of the chairs and every nook and cranny of Cooper’s high chair. Then I sanded the gunk off the bottom of the chair legs, and glued felt strips to the bottom of each one in hopes that it will protect my floors a little bit. I also intermittently stopped to start new loads of laundry and get all our clothes washed. When Noel came in the door I’m pretty sure he thought I’d gone insane. I’m not sure what this burst of energy means, but I’ll take it.
The other day Cooper and I sat down to eat lunch with just the two of us. (We are lucky to live super close to Noel’s work so he generally joins us for lunch.) I had made fish sticks and tater tots because they were easy and they sounded good. Cooper took a bite out of a fish stick, laid it back down and refused to eat any more. All he wanted to do was dip his fingers in the fry sauce I’d made. I rummaged through the fridge looking for something for him to eat and warmed up some leftover pasta from the night before. It was a pasta Noel had whipped up from his favorite cookbook, The Food Matters Cookbook, which is full of deliciously unusual recipes. (Think things like a toasted sandwich with black beans, avocados, and pickles which was surprisingly tasty.) The dish was composed of pasta, tons of mushrooms, and sauteed onions flavored with red wine. Cooper downed several bowls of the pasta and then ate a small salad with homemade Caesar dressing while I nibbled at my tater tots. I’m proud of my child for his sophisticated palate, but a little disappointed that pregnancy has left me with the food preferences of a two-year-old. Hopefully it’s something I’ll grow out of. (Or would that be shrink out of? Whatever.)