Saturday, December 22, 2012

No More appointments, for now

Yesterday was the last appointment for the month. Kateri was greatly relieved. With pediatrician appointments for Malachi, neurology and naturopath for me, and hearing aid fittings for Kateri it has been a busy couple weeks. For several of my appointments she has been my second pair of arms, keeping baby happy in the car or bouncing him while I fill out paper work. She's been indispensable and every outing I am more aware how 5 is so much easier than one, two, three, or four were. I even said to Shane the other night #6 does not sound overwhelming right now. Which I don't think I have ever said/felt at the 10 week stage before. But he is a pretty good baby. And Shane has been on paternity leave for a couple weeks. Shane saw right through me and said,

"You just want to see the midwives again, don't you?"

I do. And maybe I'll get to see them soon. But not for that reason.

When Malachi was born the he had a slight tongue-tie and said we'd keep an eye on it. I had never heard of such a thing before. But have since heard of two babies needing the little flap under their tongue needing clipping so I guess it is all the rage and Malachi is just being hip. My mom said both her brothers had a tongue tie.

Well, after a week of nursing, it seemed his was causing a bad latch on one side and they went ahead and clipped it. The soreness got better. But as the nursing continued I noticed some different habits he had whenever nursing on that same side. Like him acting like he needed me to hold it for him. Or else he'd lose his latch and start searching loudly and frantically. Then he'd get a letdown going and pop off because he couldn't keep up, sending milk everywhere. which makes for some very non-discreet nursing. His ear on that side is always stinky. He nurses normally on the other side so it seemed like something was up, not that he was still just getting the hang of it. So to the myriad appointments we've already had this month, I added a visit to the lactation consultant.

She looked Malachi over and said it still seemed to be tight. She ran her finger under his tongue and explained the frenulum should feel like  a little speed bump, your finger just goes right over it. His feels more like a trip wire. She said it could be clipped again but suggested some craniosacral therapy to get him to adjust to nursing normally on that side and we'd give it a week. At least that is what I think she said. The night before I got about 5 hours of cobbled together sleep which didn't even start until after 2am. I realize now I don't want to wait a week. With Christmas next week it will be harder to get appointments and there is no downside and he seems to need it, so why waste more milk?

In talking it over with Shane I  came up with cunning plan. Since Heike did the first snipping it might make sense have her look at him and maybe do the second as well. Right?

I don't know if they can still see him as I think their postpartum care only extends to the 6week check up but it is worth a try. We'll have to wait until after Christmas, but there might be time to get one more appointment in this month.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not Your Grandma's Toffee

Kateri is a bit of a slave when it comes to the kitchen. She loves to cook. And somehow I always get roped into projects I am not quite ready for. Yesterday I came into the kitchen. The mixer was running and she had a  variety of ingredients lined up on the counter. She had decided to make oatmeal cookies. She doesn't use recipes. She likes to cook from memory and  taste. I asked what she had added already. She said butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla,and baking powder. Which sounds ok at first. Then I asked about amounts. Turned out to make the amount of sugar work, we were going to have to quadruple the recipe.
 So we added the necessary missing ingredients. At which point she got bored and left me to finish and bake several dozen cookies. Which had been on my to-do list for the morning. Right there before breakfast and showering. I thought Oh, well. At least we'll have some treats for the freezer for a while. Then I realized Kateri had disappeared. And so had an entire pan of cookies. When I finally found her she was just coming back for a neighbors, where she had delivered the missing cookies. Oh, well, I thought. We didn't really need that many cookies. And other than being a little on the flat side they were tasty and worthy of gifting to a friend.
So the next night when Kateri was having some sad issues, I can't even remember what it was about, but it was really sad and required Shane to sit in her room at bedtime for a ridiculous amount of time, I came up with the brilliant idea of telling her we could make some toffee the next day. To give away. She was content with that and stayed in bed making plans for the next day
The next day came and we got distracted with Christmas cards and never got to the toffee. Which of course she remembered at bedtime which gave her something to be sad about. So to make sure we would be successful the next day, I put out all the ingredients and pans we needed so we could start as soon as Malachi had a full belly and went down for a nap.  
  Imagine her surprise when she came down in the morning to find I was the only one awake and we were ready to start cooking.

It was good we got an early start. Because it took three hours, as many batches, and more butter than I care to think about. Not that I have anything against butter, just wasting it. 
My Grandma used to make toffee every Christmas and we were always excited to get the instant Folgers  jars filled with yummy toffee. This was not like that.

Here is what I pictured, and how the session started out.

Then it all went terribly. For a reason I could not figure out, the butter kept separating from the sugar.  We stirred and stirred. Tried different temperatures. Stirred some more. The first batch was not working out. So I tried soaking up the butter with paper towels and continuing with the stirring. It came out way too thick and undercooked.

The second batch came out better, but was actually on the burned side and still had the butter problem.

  We still had butter and Malachi was awake but cooperative so we forged on ahead to make a third batch. First I looked up problems and fixes. One said to keep a constant temperature. one said to start with room temperature butter and add sugar right away to keep the melting even. Another to add a tiny bit of boiling water and keep stirring. We did all of the above and when it looked like this we stopped.

And followed the rest of directions. They are cooling now, but I think after 3 hours, 3lbs of butter, and lots of kitchen mess we have success. At least one batch of it. Malachi seems to have used up most of his good will for the day and will be needing  some more intense attention. And Kateri went to play at a friends so I can finally sit down, have a coffee, and hold my baby. If you are interested- Here is the recipe I used.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I feel like we should get a medal. or at least a pizza

I imagined getting to Liturgy with a newborn would be so much easier this time around, what with FOUR kids who, theoretically, can dress themselves and put on their own shoes. When they can find their shoes anyway. But this last Saturday was one for the books. Or blog, rather. I told Shane I was going to write about it. He asked why. I said to make me feel better. Which is pretty much why I write. Because as soon as I start narrating a situation to myself, in the event no one is there to hear me, the hard, messy, frustrating, disgusting, or anything else unpleasant situation suddenly feels removed and I can look at it from the outside and find entertainment in it.

We have decided to send out Christmas cards this year. Complete with an updated photo of the kids. It's been 5 or 6 years, so it seems about time. To save time and anguish we figured we'd take a picture right before leaving for church. Which turned out to be not the best way to prepare for Liturgy, unless we were looking to shine a spotlight on many  personal imperfections to reflect on and things to seek forgiveness for.

Well we found them. Along with four pairs of shoes- after several modifications- some decent outfits, and I quickly decided to go with the minimal hair brushing  package, just the front that would show in the picture. Some of the kids expressed their disdain for the camera by trying to sabotage every picture. I am toying with the idea of sending some of the more unflattering pictures out and seeing how they like having their scowling face looking down from peoples' mantles. But we'll see.

We made it to the car with lots of incidents. Then the baby found an empty spot and started to fuss. Then 20 minutes in we hit ridiculous mall traffic.  Getting close  to the bridge we saw a sea unending red lights hardly moving. I  knew Malachi's polite hints that he would like a snack would soon be turning into unmistakable "I am about to die" demands. The last exit before we were at the point of no return was coming up so I asked Shane to take it and find a place to park so I could feed him.

He did. And as Malachi tanked up we both mentally weighed our options and came to the same decision. Stick it out. Luckily, liturgy is  almost 2 hours and Saturday evening always starts with vespers. So that would buy us a little more room. Even so, they were just preparing for the Gospel as we walked in. But we were both glad we forged ahead. Even when Malachi did a , as Kateri called it, the most 'hunormous poop'.

 It was just at the end of the homily so the rest of the congregation got to be in the know too. Cyprian, who was sitting next to me, got to be in on the stink and was madly fanning his nose with his hands while he scrunched up his face  and made disgusted faces.

The dr had mentioned at his 6 week checkup that sometimes babies won't poop for a week, and that is normal. I thought, whatever. Mine poops every time he eats and then some. So when he didn't go for two days I thought hmmm, once a week would be ok. But not when I saw the backlog that just two days amounted to. He had to be completely stripped and put back together. I was glad I had whispered to Kateri to come with me to change him. Four hands were not too many. Especially when I got the new diaper under him and he decided he was no quite done and then decided to end with a flourish by peeing all over his blanket.

I was also glad  that amidst the chaos of picture taking I had packed a new outfit, undershirt, and blanket in the diaper bag. Next time I might add gloves. And a mop.

The rest of Liturgy went smoothly, and Malachi being cleaned out and tanked up, the drive home did too. We felt some sort of celebration was in order so we picked up a pizza on the way and watched an episode of BBC's Merlin with the kids.

At least next week we can skip the picture taking.

P.S. If you'd like to be on the Christmas card list send a SASE to - just kidding. Just email me. And if you were at the baby shower, don't assume I still have your mailing address because I have postpartum   brain- how long can I keep using that-and I am not sure where that list is. But Kateri will be thrilled to play the part of secretary and another envelope and stamp would make her day. Audrey has agreed to write up a Christmas letter, never done that before, and she is a very good writer and will offer a fresh perspective and probably more accurate account of whatever she deems noteworthy in the past year. Which means there is bound to be a horse in it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Can You Hear Me Now?

Tomorrow I get my 'when it works for me' MRI. It was supposed to be in April, but go cancelled due to more important things. Or a person, I should say. I had the neurologist apt still scheduled for December. Seeing it was getting close, last month I called the office to see if I should get an MRI on the books as well. First I called the office.  But no one answered so I left a message with my questions. A week later, not having heard back,  I called them. And tried to leave a message with the receptionist. The words seem to have gotten through and I was told they'd get back to me the next day. A few days later, when I remembered, I gave them a call back.

It seemed like my request was new to them.

" I have an appointment with Dr. S next month. I was supposed to have an MRI in April but I didn't because I was pregnant. I want to know if she would like me to have one now, and if so, I'd like to schedule it so the results are in before my appointment with her. Also, I don't want the gadolinium this time, as I am breastfeeding, so would she still want me to have one?"

A few days went by. Finally, someone called.

"Yes, she'd like to go ahead and schedule the MRI. Breastfeeding is not a problem. Most women just pump and dump for 24 hrs after the MRI. "

"I don't want the gadolinium. Does she want me to have the MRI if I don't get the contrast?"

The next day,

"Yes we can schedule the MRI. The contrast isn't knows to be an issue, but just to be sure they recommend you wait 24 hrs before breastfeeding to make sure it is all cleared out of your system."

"NO", I said, trying to be really clear. "I don't want the gadolinium. I want the MRI. Do I need to get an order from the doctor or can I just call and schedule it myself?"

"So you don't want the contrast?"


"OK, I'll let the Dr know your feelings on that and get back to you."

Eventually it came out that, yes, the Dr did want to go ahead so I scheduled for tomorrow. The clinic called to confirm the appointment this morning and gave me a check in 30 min before the actual scan. I am going to just leave the baby at home with Shane so don't want to spend any extra time in the waiting room. I asked if I could come later. She said there will be some paperwork to fill out. I asked if they could email it to me and I can come with it filled out. She said I'd need a little time to get changed. I told her I knew what to wear I'd come in the appropriate attire, which honestly at this point only requires switching out a nursing bra for a sports bra. Sweat pants and a stretchy is all I wear these days. She said just show up 5-10 min before the scan.

And even though I might only be gone for an hour, I pumped a bottle, just in case. Which Kateri is super excited to give it  to Malachi. I suspect even if he is sleeping and content she might just 'accidentally' wake him up so she can feed him.

I won't know the results until next week when I see the neurologist, but getting it done tomorrow there will be time for the radiologist to look at and compare last year's scans and write up a report. The neurologist appointment happens to be on my birthday. My very first neurologist appointment was 22 yrs ago, one week before my birthday so I guess it is in keeping with the birthday/neurologist pattern. I think I'll have Shane take me and Malachi to see Skyfall later that day or something more birthdayish.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trudy's Delicious Bars

Because I get asked for this recipe a lot, I decided to just do a post dedicated to it. I don't know where it originated, but as my mother-in-law has been the provider of said delicious bars over the years, it has come to be named after her. Sorry for the not so clear picture. I have not made them recently and did not have a picture. So I took a picture of a picture. It is from the welcome baby shower my mother-in-law threw for Audrey. 14 yrs ago. But it gives you an idea of what the finished product looks like.

Trudy's Delicious Bars

Preheat oven to 300 and grease large baking sheet.

Layer One


1/2 lb butter
2c. flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c cornstarch
pinch of salt

Sprinkle crumbly mixture in baking sheet and press to make and even . Bake 15 min.

Layer Two

4 eggs
1/2 t baking powder
1 pkg coconut
1 box powdered sugar
4T flour
2 t vanilla
2 c chopped nuts

Beat eggs. Add rest of ingredients. Spread over cooked crust. Bake 15 min at 300. Then turn oven to 350 and bake 5 min more.

Remove from oven. Let cool.

Layer Three

1 cube  butter
8 oz  cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

Cut bars into squares. Top each square with frosting and add a half a pecan.
They can be prepared ahead and frozen.

I think each batch makes around 40 squares, maybe more. Also, if you buy the big bags of powdered sugar, one box is 3 3/4 cup.

Friday, November 30, 2012

6 Weeks

How time flies. We had our 6 week apt with the midwives. Which was our last. This is how Malachi and I both felt about it.
"I want my midwives!"
At the appointment  Heike held Malachi, who sensed her presence, relaxed, and went to sleep.
She truly is a mommy-in-labor-baby-whisperer-can-you-move-in-next-door-please kind of lady. Makes me want to get pregnant just so I can go see her. But she encouraged us to  stop by anytime to say hi. And since she is near my neurologist who I see in a few weeks, we just might do that.
But most of the time Malachi looks like this:
Which is probably due to the fact that he has become a very rotund  11 lb 13 oz  piglet.  I took him to his 6 week check up. He was 75th percentile for height and weight. And 90-95th for head circumference. So he is a smart piglet too. He passed all the tests with flying colors.
I was a little worried that night, when actually cried at bed time. More like screamed. I tried nursing him. Burping him. Shane walked him, bounced him, talked to him. I was hot and sweaty and afraid he was starting a new phase and my calm little kitten was turning into a grunty, squealy, screaming pig. But finally, he did an enormous poop, nursed, and went to sleep. I changed him between the pooping and nursing. And being that it was almost 3am when all was said and pooped, we slept in until 11:00 the next morning. Fortunately, he has not repeated the episode and we are attempting to get everyone to sleep at a more reasonable time.
Malachi still likes to sleep on someone's chest. Which is great for me. None of  the other kids liked that for too long. But I love knowing I, or Shane, is right next to him all night. I can feed him, hand him  to Shane,  and Malachi wakes up from a sound night's sleep smelling like men's cologne. Everybody wins. And gets sleep.
My snorky little pig is calling for lunch. Which means I should eat something too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I wrote this post three times. Then decided none of them captured the magical night before Christmas feeling of the event. It was thrown together two days before the actual event. No reception. Three grandparents, one uncle, and godparents were able to attend. Plus regular Saturday night parishioners. The kids were given their cameras and my phone for pictures, These are all by Kateri. It was super cold that night. Afterwards we stopped at the store for dinner ingredients, came home and cooked the meat inside because it was too cold to grill. Turned on the fire, opened some celebratory wine, and enjoyed our new little Christian. The whole event felt positively magical. I half expected to come out of the church to Christmas lights and a surprise snow storm.
A quick wardrobe change.

And there he was. No picture of his first Eucharist as we did not have time to get into position.

Afterwards I realized we did not get a group picture with godparents and family and Father. But I quickly saw an opportunity to get most everybody in this shot. His godmother is just leaving the church. I thought it was pretty successful given the last minuteness. Oh, and there was a football game that night and traffic was horrible. My brother texted me saying Father was looking for a baby. we arrived a couple minutes later and walked right in and Father started the opening prayers.
Shane's parents arrived a bit later and the godparents just a little before the actual baptism.

Standing there, holding Malachi, next to Shane reciting the creed gave me an overwhelming sense of awe, together with responsibility, gratefulness, and the feeling that everything at that moment was just the way it was supposed to be and it was humbling to be able to participate in something so incredible.  It was not just me. Shane said afterwards he felt the same. That it was perfect.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Look! Two Arms.

As opposed to one. Or none. I forgot how exhausting just holding a baby all day can be. Even with all the extra arms. Sometimes only mom's will do the trick, and mine are sore and my back hurts. Then I took him to his 3 week check-up yesterday and found he weighs 9 lbs 13 oz! So that explained it. The midwife took one look at me and said,

"You need to eat more."

So  on the way home I stopped at the store, first time grocery shopping by myself, actually Kateri was with me. But I was the only adult. Ok the only driver. Anyway, we stocked up on more half and half, doughnut holes, steak, eggs, butter, and honey crisp apples. If he keeps gaining weight at a rate that would make a sumo wrestler proud, I might just have to schedule some maintenance back rubs. And some regular  deliveries of highly caloric foods, as I should probably save my stores by not walking around a store pushing a cart. Or thinking. The midwife asked me how many wet diapers he has in 24 period. And how many hours of sleep I get in a 24 hr period. Then she told me I need to get more of that too. ( the sleep, not the diapers). Which is hard to do with a nursing baby who, when he is not sleeping, is grunting, pooping, or eating. She suggested I nap with him. Which is tempting, but it is also tempting to do things with two arms when I have them both available. Things like typing.

I actually composed some really good posts in my head in the past few weeks. At least I thought they were gems at the time. But they never made it to text, which is probably just as well as the post partum hormone cocktail with a twist of sleep deprivation that I  was taking probably made things sound a lot more entertaining than they were. Plus, there was a touch of  "O, me miseram" that would not be so uplifting. And  I realized, what is better- when you are feeling sad about totally imaginary things- than adding really sad, but also real, things to the mix. Not much, if you are going from maximum drama. At least I can say I didn't watch myself cry in the mirror like a 7 year old. Although that might have only been because I was in the shower and the glass was too fogged up.

But eventually I did get some sleep and the fears of him stopping breathing lessened and the sad disparity between his  sweetness and the world's insidious and cold ways did not feel like an immediate threat. And the sad but true stories were put back in the past.  To await being dragged out again the next time he pulls an all-nighter.

So basically we are all doing really well. It was great to see the midwives again. I will be sad when the appointments end at my 6 week check-up. We finally made an appointment for his baptism. I don't know if the baptismal gown will fit him. I have no clue what will fit me. I thought there might be an opportunity to get my hair done before the event but it does not look like that is going to happen. I put the big kids on picture duty for Malachi's big day and hope they don't fight over vantage points. We decided to do it on a Saturday evening as there is nothing like trying to get 6 people fed, dressed, and in church before 10am after a rough night. And because we may have had a rough night the night before, we are forgoing a reception afterwards. Once it gets dark and cold, which it has been here lately, I just want to put cozies on, have some tea, or maybe some wine with Shane and be home.

Which reminds me, I think it is time for lunch. Too bad I ate all the doughnut holes already.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's Been Fun

Fun going over the previous births. And helpful to me, as well. Maybe it's odd, but I feel excited about the next one. Not just because it means we'll get to meet our new baby, but to see what kind of challenges it will present and how I deal with them. Hopefully well. But almost like a marathon runner or whatever you like, you want to do it better than last time. And much like a long distance race, it is a mind game. I am feeling mentally prepared in that I have everything at my disposal that I might want or need. But then there is always the unexpected curve ball and you think, 'OK, next time I'll prepare for that too.'  I can only talk about a next time because I am not currently in labor. I will re-read this post , post delivery and maybe add some thoughts.

Shane and I were discussing this morning over the Swedish pancakes he had made, how wonderful life is. And as the kids left the table to go on to  their respective activities  how full of life the house feels. One aspect of the first few weeks that is hard for me is adjusting to the loneliness of being on a schedule that only one other member of the house is on. And then it is only because that other member has very specific and urgent needs that must  be addressed and will not be put off until morning or after your shower.

But I am realizing #5 will not be like #1-4. Most of them can meet their own needs, or help the others when they can't. Some can even meet mine and the baby's needs and I am feeling like it will not be the 4 to 1 ratio of needers to providers that our week days were before. They can all cook, clean, make coffee, go to bed on their own, and are eager to hold and help with the baby. Some nights they might even want to sit up and watch whatever I might find on Netflix because I'm too tired to  read and Malachi can only sleep with me sitting up. And having to get up at 5am for work, I can't expect Shane to join me often. It is comforting to think I won't have to face it all alone. Which like I said is the hardest part for me, emotionally. The other part being sleep deprived, but again they can take care of the house  while baby and  I take a nap after a bad night.Plus they are all proficient baristas, chefs, house cleaners, baby sitters, and Scrabble players. It really will be a whole new world.

So I am looking forward to all of it. And to not wearing the maternity shirts that don't actually cover all my belly anyway and require a jacket or sweater if I go out in public. I only have one pair of pants, and they are not even maternity. And like the shirts, they require another top layer to give full coverage. I only have one dress for Sundays, which makes it easy for choosing what to wear, but with the colder weather settling in, I'd like some warmer options. Of course nursing has its own limited wardrobe, but cotton and stretchy is what I like best anyway so I don't mind.

If I don't go into labor in the next few hours we are planning on attending a retirement party for a friend downtown. I will change my stretchy pants and shirt for something more appropriate and festive.( Ok, my one dress)  And I will take the carseat and diaper bag, just in case Malachi  tries to beat the shortest labor record. But nothing seems ominous or looming and I fully expect we'll make it back home for a midnight snack and bedtime. I do think consciously that each meal could be my last and try to eat accordingly.

Ok. I wrote up to this point pre-baby, planning on finishing it the next morning. But the next morning felt ominous to me and I forgot about it.

We did, in fact, make it to the party. It was fun to get out for a bit and everything went well. Except the part where I directed Shane to the bathroom, only to have him come quickly back out when he realized it was for the opposite sex. He asked why the big "W" had not clued me in. Honestly, I forgot the name of the hotel  (Hotel 1000) and thought it was the The  W. So I hadn't thought twice about the large letter emblazoned on the door. Or once, apparently.

But after that it was smooth sailing and, as I thought, we came home,  and had some more snacks, because you never know, and went to bed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Getting There

I was planning on sitting down with my second breve latte of the day- this one being decaf-and writing up a post. Which of course meant it was time for Malachi to wake from his nap and keep me company. So we will see how this goes. I decided to switch to decaf coffee after my morning regular breve. I am finding lattes are still my preferred method of conveyance for keeping with my daily half and half quota. I figured Malachi would be dependent on it, given how much I drank throughout his gestational period. And we are having perfect weather for coffee, so I don't mind. I was already practiced in making them one-handed. Typing one-handed, not so much.

I had considered making a regular coffee as I was feeling rather sleepy. But I've been having trouble sleeping at night and am trying to break the cycle of insomnia so decided to stick to the light stuff after the morning. I asked the midwife about it and she said it is adrenaline still keeping me going. A runner's high that lasts almost 2 weeks? Seems a bit extreme to me. And very frustrating when I can't sleep but the baby is.

She also recommended I get at least one solid 4 hour chunk of sleep in a 24 hr period. Sounds dreamy to me but baby has not gotten the memo yet. So far his sleeping pattern seems to be no real sleep until after 1am, only light naps before that. Then there is lots of eating and pooping and grunting as he prepares for really deep sleep starting around 4am. That lasts anywhere from 3-4 hrs or when mom wants to take a shower. Whichever comes first. Then if  Kateri is up I have her come lie down next to him to act as a decoy while I sneak in a quick  personal hygiene routine. The past two nights he slept well, after 4am, and I was able to get some real sleep. I celebrated by adding a hair wash to the morning routine and staying in until the hot water ran out. Which, given that the Shane and the older kids had just had showers prior, was not as long, or as hot, as I'd have preferred. But at least it happened.

I find that even if I wake up feeling rested, it only lasts until 1pm or so and then I feel exhausted the rest of the day. Until I try to go to bed. But I know things will eventually get on a more normal schedule. It just might be a couple years so I need to be patient.

Our daily schedules are cobbled together as best we can. Grandma takes the kids to music and writing and Latin lessons so we are getting some school work done. Today, Shane was able to work from home. Then when Cyril was having trouble focusing on his Latin, he decided to take him and their laptops to Starbuck's to work. Cyprian has been exploring new technologies by making lots of movies on his new Surface. Kateri has been researching historical forms of entertainment by watching old Tom and Jerry cartoons. And Audrey has actually been doing her algebra, while simultaneously listening for and soothing the baby as he naps on the couch. So we'll get there someday.

Just so you know, it has taken me over an hour to finish this. It was punctuated by lots of baby needs, getting distracted by baby's warm fuzzy-coma-inducing body, and finally by a dirty diaper. Which Audrey is not so keen on abandoning her math for. Duty calls.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

He's Here

Malachi Arcadius
He is currently 10 days old, 2 oz past his birth weight, and so far a very chill baby. I lost a bit of blood and was on bed rest for awhile. Shane went back to work this week. We are getting a little schooling done, enough laundry, and not too many tears to go with it all. I finally sat down and looked through the birth pictures today, wanting to get some energy back before re-living the event. It was ok. The picture viewing. Eventually I'll get to telling his story in full. And a host of other things I have not gotten to yet. But first we are going to take some snuggle time. And change  a diaper.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

And Now We are Up To Date

Kateri was one of the easiest babies. She was always happy. So content that when Shane suggested we fly across country with her to go the Treasures of Byzantium exhibit as the Metropolitan Museum of Art when she was 10 mos old, I could  honestly say, "That sounds like fun!" And it was. Cyril had gone from happy baby, to trying to compete for most mischievous toddler. Which, unfortunately, he was very successful at. No cup of coffee was safe if you put it down. Distraction and subterfuge came naturally and I would have pulled out all my hair, but the post partum shedding was doing that for me. He was at least cheerful as he went about his antics, but still exhausting, and thankfully, Kateri didn't seem to want to join in the  competition, so we managed  to get through our days.

And then came the news of a new arrival in the fall. Though feeling a little overwhelmed, I was excited to call up the midwives. I'd missed the visits and was excited to see who was teamed up together and have them meet the kids. Kateri loved going to 'Allie's house' as she called the Birth Center and accompanied me to most of the appointments.

Cyprian's due date was Oct 1st. We planned another home birth, but this time I wanted an ultrasound to check out the placenta placement and anything else it could tell us. Unfortunately, cord length was not something they could discern on the ultrasound, but they could see it was all functioning properly, the placenta was in a good location. Also clearly visible was the indisputable fact he was a boy. I figured after three surprises it would be nice to know which set of baby clothes to wash. And if I needed to spend time figuring out a middle name for a girl or not. We had already settled on Adele for the first, after Shane's great aunt. So instead we sorted out Cyprian's middle name there in the ultrasound room and after washing the boy clothes we had nothing left to do, but keep Cyril from setting the house on fire while we waited.

Shane asked me last night which of the births did I think was the best. Well, all of them were mostly straightforward with no real complications or sad endings so I feel like I could say all of them. I don't think of the hospital birth as bad. Not the birth part anyway, but that has nothing to do with the hospital. Somehow Cyprian's birth seems very memorable, but maybe because it was the most recent. recent being 7 yrs ago. Or maybe because I got to experience something new this time.

Like Audrey's, labor started around 3:00 am  with my water breaking. Then it went on more like Cyril's and  Pippn arrived weighing 7lbs 12 oz, 4:43am. See why I am hoping for an afternoon baby? I am sure everyone who will attend and come see Malachi would appreciate it too. But at least not getting a full night's sleep was offset by the not too long labor. I hope I am not mistaken in expecting  this one to mostly follow suit. Funny that both boy's labors were 2hrs or less. Maybe Malachi can be the record breaker?

The brevity, coupled with the intensity, was a little tiring and I felt rather spent afterwards. As did Shane who had been helping alleviate the lower back pain by massaging it for the better part of  an hour, getting a short break when the midwife took a turn. Still I got up to clean off. Shane helped me into the tub and as I sat there I started to feel worse and worse. Where was my post-delivery high? I felt like I was still in transition, when you feel that if you tore off all your skin and jumped out the 2nd story window, you'd actually feel better than you do right now. I told Shane I didn't feel well and maybe I wanted to get out, I wasn't sure. And  then, I passed out.

Shane said it was the most bizarre thing so see my body go absolutely limp. He quickly bent down and scooped me up, out of the tub and put me on the bed. He said the feeling of carrying such dead weight was eerie. Shortly after, the midwife cracked an ammonia capsule under my nose and I came to.

But I had not idea where I was or what was or had happened. I screamed. I saw the midwives and wondered who these strange ladies were and what they had done/were doing to me. I thought I was in some medical experiment and had no clue how I had gotten there. I heard one midwife say

"Quick, give her the baby!"

But still nothing registered. I felt cold all over and my teeth were chattering, despite the pile of blankets and the warm room. Finally, I looked up and saw Shane's face leaning over me. All at once, though still having no idea as to what was going on, I felt safe and that no matter what was/had happened everything was going to be ok. Shane was there. We lay there, the three of us, huddled on the bed as I slowly took in what was really going on, felt my body temp returning to normal, and realized the little baby on my chest was our new son.

And then I probably asked for and was given food.

So given the varied experiences, I am very curious to see how this next one goes. Will it follow suit with the boys' deliveries being fast and furious? I am hoping for not too much back labor this time, though I've heard the water can help with that so maybe Shane can keep some reserves and give me a back rub later, See why I wanted to wait until Shane was feeling better and all recovered? Knowing he is there to make me  feel safe and grounded is so comforting and I couldn't imagine going through it without him.

I was a little mean last week, when he was out for dinner and guy time with his brother-in-law. I specifically made sure he turned his phone on before they left. So when I texted him to bring some milk on his way home and did not hear from him I got a little annoyed. 30 min later I called and got no answer.  So I left a little message with the baby's weight etc and said I'd send a picture soon.

A little later  he called and said he saw that I had called, but he'd left his phone in the truck, and what was up? I started to tell him what the message said. He was silent.

"Are you serious?"

"No, but I could have been. And you wouldn't have known because you didn't take your phone."

He told me I had him for a second. Which I was glad of. Maybe it was mean, but I wanted to make sure he'd be available when it is real. Whenever that may be.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Enter Kateri, Stage Left

At the time of this writing, Friday morning, it is officially my due date. No signs yet. I made it to my 40 week appointment, and made an appointment for next week, just in case. I then decided to stop by Costco for some non-refrigerated essentials, then back home to have dinner and watch the VP debate. It feels strange, thinking back to the beginning, when it felt like the nausea would never end and I would be confined to my sick bed for the rest of my life, to be in a place where I feel ready and labor is a real possibility at any time. I'm starting to feel content with a late arrival. Especially since Shane, who was still not feeling well after our colds and actually made a dr apt for himself, is taking a short round of antibiotics for suspected ear infection and needs a little recovery time before being my labor support. Though tonight would be nice as we'd have the week-end to sort things out. But I would not mind waiting and getting another night's sleep for both of us. Going into labor in the morning would be a new experience. So far all of our have been night babies. Which brings me to Kateri.

Again, there were no warning signs with Kateri. She was due Aug 2nd.  A week before, we were hauling buckets of water to irrigate some newly planted trees on our property, about an hour and a half from home. Then we went to a big horse show a few days before her due date in the same location. The thought  of her coming early and birthing in the forest with no running water never seemed a concern. I was so used to going over my due date.

So it was a little of a surprise when I found myself  calling the midwives at 11:00pm on the 30th of July. My water had broken and was coming out in gushes with each contraction. Unfortunately, so was a bit of blood. It was hard to tell how concentrated it was, but I knew it was not normal. After the phone assessment, the midwife told us to go to the hospital. She would phone ahead to arrange for an ultrasound and meet us there.  My in-laws came to stay with the big  kids, who were probably not asleep yet , and Shane and I headed to the hospital.

It felt like a long drive, though it was only 10 min or so, but when you think there is something wrong with your baby time creeps by. Just the year before I had known two mother's who lost their infants at birth. So the thought and the experience were not foreign.

It felt like it took forever to check in and  they did not feel the same panicked urgency Shane and I were feeling, which made it even more frustrating. Finally we were admitted to a room and met by the midwife, my mom, and a super nice nurse. They started monitoring the blood/fluid loss and eventually the ultrasound technician came in to see what she could.

Nothing looked out of the ordinary or worrisome. She asked if we knew the sex of the baby. We didn't. She asked if we'd like to know and we figured we'd find out in a few hours anyway so why not. But Kateri was too scrunched and we couldn't tell. After all the tests and investigating turned up nothing we felt  free to go or stay as we wanted. The nurse tried  to convince us to stay, offering a labor tub and other niceties. I asked if I could deliver in the tub and she said no. So not seeing they had much to offer, remembering Audrey's birth, and knowing I was  5 cm dilated and would not be wanting to be moving very soon, we quickly packed up and moved the party back home.

The rest of labor went as usual. I liked the birthing stool again, and holding Shane around the neck for support. Finally, at 3:26, weighing in at 6lbs 10oz, Kateri arrived. She was so small, especially after Cyril, but checked out completely healthy. Upon closer inspection the placenta showed evidence of an old clot and a  partial abruption. Her cord was the shortest the midwife had ever seen- about 6-8 inches. To this day Shane still calls Kateri our 'miracle baby'. Which isn't exclusively   accurate, because every baby is a miracle.

As are heir birth stories. Which will bring me to Cyprian's birth next, hopefully followed in a bit by Malachi's.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Take Two

Fast forward 18 months. Audrey was a wonderfully content baby, and aside from the usual 'I'm not tired' routines and getting into lots of mischief, we were not feeling overwhelmed when we found that number two was on the way. Our main concern was where he/she was going to be born. I am so glad my research found the Birth Center, as it has been our go-to for all our maternity and labor support needs. The first visit was so different from the OB visits. They acknowledged Shane's presence in the room, treated him like an adult, answered questions and made us feel very at home. Not to mention the birth center felt like a nice home. In the end we signed up and decided on going for a home birth. I was familiar with them as many of my siblings were born at home, and Shane seeing how nicely things just go on their own said yes, we were both looking forward to a non-stressful home delivery. Complete with all the snacks I'd get ready, our own cozy bed, no beeping monitors, and no drive home afterwards.

Just like Audrey, Cyril's due date came and went. At first we thought maybe he'd be early and we'd have a Christmas baby. Then we thought New Year's Eve? A nice tax deduction for the year. 2000 looks cool on a birth certificate. But that passed. As did New Year's Day. And a few more. Spicy food, bumpy roads etc. Nothing could dislodge him. Finally the 6th of January came. Theophany, or Epiphany in the west, seemed like a fine day. But nothing seemed to be happening. We went shopping at Costco. Had lunch at Maya's, our favorite Mexican restaurant, went to visit at my parent's house. I was feeling some back discomfort so my mom  gave me a hot water bottle, which I took home. We contemplated going to evening liturgy, but decided on getting home instead.

We got home around 8, unloaded the groceries, and I started in on some dinners to freeze for the future. I was making a large batch of chicken cacciatore, standing at the stove stirring the tomato sauce when the familiar sensation of feeling like my body was in a vise grip started. There was no gentle ramping up, just a constant barrage of 'let's get down to business' contractions. I told Shane to call the  answering service and have  the midwives paged.

30 minutes and some intense feelings later, we got a call from the midwife who was not on call. And was not currently even in Washington state. She was at a wedding across the country and had just popped into her hotel room to grab something when she saw her pager blinking. The paging service had paged the wrong midwife. So Shane tried again and this time we got a call back right away. The midwife was on her way, as was Cyril. Shane told her I wanted to push, she said go ahead. She arrived about 9:55 with the assistant and a birthing stool. My water had still not broken so she went ahead and broke them at 10:25.

It helped, and at 10:44 Cyril arrived weighing 8 lbs 4oz, Superman style with his arm and fist leading the way. The midwife said had it not been for the arm, he probably would have arrived before she did. Which would have been fine with me. Shane  did the catching and the midwife just watched and stepped in to assess the baby and then do all post birth duties. I showered, got dressed, and back in bed with some snacks. Grandma and Grandpa had come to see the baby and get the laundry washed and I am sure some other things I was not aware of because I didn't leave the bedroom. But once everyone had left, a little after midnight, we all four got in bed and went to sleep.

The next morning Shane went and got bagels and cream cheese and all kinds of fruit and tasty things and sparkling wine and we had a breakfast party to welcome Cyril, who had been very intent, and successful,  on arriving on the 6th.

I was going to include pictures, but as I am having trouble locating them have decided to wait. And then maybe we can do a fun matching game instead.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reminiscing, or why we had the rest at home

As I prepare for a new arrival, it is fun to talk to the kids about their own birth stories and reminisce a bit. And wonder which, if any, will the new one be similar to. Each time I approach it looking for ways to make it better, add new things to my 'just had a baby' list etc., and realize there will be some surprises completely out of my control. Not just like broken appliances. Things have naturally progressed in a helpful way. Audrey's birth was not complicated, but definitely had room for improvement.

She was born the middle of October. We didn't know she was a she. Shane and I had discussed our options, but it being our first we both felt more comfortable planning for a hospital birth. I went to a regular OB at the nearby hospital and got a run-of-the-mill rather impersonal treatment plan. She weighed me, poked me, told me not to eat too much of the summer fruit, scoffed when I told her I did not want her birth control. I just smiled and ate all the peaches I wanted. But it does not matter who you see for you maternity care, you get whomever is on call when the baby finally arrives.

I had no prior signs it was going to be that night. At least not that day. She was born on a Sunday and for the two previous Sundays I as having contractions and feeling like this is it. So my mom came and stayed the night with us each time. At least we got to  have coffee in the mornings each time.

Finally the third Sunday, I awoke at 3:30 to the feeling of having wet the bed. I reached over to Shane to wake him up.

"Sweetie, my water just broke".  He was up in an instant. The contractions started right away and I knew this was not another test run. We grabbed the diaper bag and ran out into the very fall night, cold, dark, and misty I encouraged Shane to run the red lights and not to worry about the speed limit. But neither of those could lessen the intensity of what my body was doing on its own. We got checked in, I got dressed in the lovely gown they offered and hooked up to every monitor they had.

The nurses were all  very nice and I wish we could have just kept the staff to them. The OB on call was Dr. LePonto. Or something like that. I just remember when I heard her name the refrain from Chesterton's poem came into my head "Don Juan of Austria is riding to the war." Followed quickly by the thought that this lady didn't like babies, women, or birth. A thought that was confirmed over and over as the time wore on.

My mom showed up shortly after we arrived and I was so thankful to have her calm, supportive, experienced, presence. The Dr looked over my chart and saw I didn't want an epidural, and would rather  tear a little than have an episiotomy, and would like to have Shane participate. And she pretty much took a stand contrary to all that. I don't think she liked fathers either.

 I don't recall the following hours being too traumatic. The beeping machine was annoying. And poor Shane thought it would be helpful to let me know what he was seeing on the monitor, "Ok, here comes another contractions".  If it weren't for that monitor I don't know how I would have known. Did David Banner have to be told he was turning into The Hulk? Shortly, I let him know, in some not uncertain terms, that he didn't need to keep me apprised of the situation, I could pretty much tell.

At some point the "Dr" came in to check progress. She recommended an episiotomy. I said no.

"It is going to take another hour if we don't and your going to tear anyway".

My mom stepped in,

"She is doing just fine. Tears heal better than slices. Leave her alone."

The Dr left, but unfortunately came back for the delivery.

I could not see, but Shane reported that she all 10 fingers between Audrey's head and me. I have never heard of that technique, unless it is to cause more discomfort and increase the chances of tearing if things are going smoothly. Despite her best efforts, things went smoothly and at 9:04. weighing 7lbs 7oz, Audrey made her entrance. 

She did 'allow' Shane to cut the cord. Then asked in a very condescending voice as she readied the sewing kit,

"Do you want me to numb you or would you like to feel the needle?"

"Actually, I'd prefer to stab the needle in your stupid face, if you don't mind" I felt like saying. But I refrained and just said,

"Oh, you can numb me first. That would be fine."

She finished and left and we got on to enjoying Audrey as grandparents and aunts and uncles showed up with flowers, coffee, and scones. Which we really appreciated. In the entire hospital stay we were not given anything to eat or drink. Maybe they were trying to get rid of us, not that I needed encouragement, but looking back I do think it odd that in our 12 hr stay not one bit of nourishment was offered. We were packed up and ready to go as soon as we could. But the hospital wanted us to stay until Audrey peed. Her pediatrician had already come by and checked her out and given the all clear so we felt fine leaving. Then they threatened to call CPS if we insisted  on our departure plan. Apparently they were not finished starving us yet.

Shane ran out to get some lunch for us. By the time we finished Audrey had obliged us with a wet diaper, and Shane and I were committed to never darken the doors of the maternity ward. Which led to the search for and discovery of the amazing Puget Sound Midwives and Birth Center. Which is full of lovely women who respect women, the birth process, babies, and don't treat father's like guilty criminals.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I was planning on using up the last of the nesting energies over the weekend  to get the kitchen, pantry, and fridge organized. To go shopping for some tasty quick snacks, maybe do some freezer cooking, and make plans for what the kids are going to need to do on their own when I am AWOL with a fussy or tired baby. Or so tired I cannot even make a cup of coffee. Fortunately, they can all make coffee, and at least feed themselves so we are not totally unprepared. I was however unprepared on Friday when I opened the freezer to find everything melted and dripping and the fridge full of almost room temperature food. (It was not due to a lack of cleaning, FYI). The repair guy came out the next day and diagnosed an issue with the communication between the mother board and the compressor. He rush ordered a part, which would arrive today, and said it could be repaired tomorrow. ('Could' being the operative word here.)

Well the part came a day early, so I called to see if they wanted to come out a day early to fix it as well. We do have a couple ice chests we keep filled so we can at least keep the milk and eggs cold. But I am getting tired of going out in the mornings to get milk for breakfast and having to refill the ice blocks, and it is starting to get cold out now and I have not gotten slippers yet so the whole thing is just kind of a nuisance. And of coursed that meant the big shopping stocking-up-trip was going to have to wait. Instead I thoroughly scrubbed out both the fridge and freezer and will now have to load up on some basic essentials that did not survive as well. So I was eager to get things settled and back to normal.

Side note: Pippin just came in and started reading over my shoulder. He read out loud "tasty quick snacks!' We are going to get some?"  He asked, his eyes wide with excitement.
 When I informed him that had been the plan, but now the fridge not working it would have to wait. He was very bummed. Then he asked if I'd ever been AWOL. He could not think of a time. Now he is stuck on going to get tasty quick snacks.

I however am stuck on the fact I called to let them know the part was here and was informed the repair was scheduled for the 18th!!! I informed the lady the repair man had told me tomorrow and my fridge was broken and I am expecting any day and cannot live out of an ice chest for another 8 days.

She said she'd let them know the part arrived. And I was scheduled for the 18th. So now I am wondering how difficult it is to replace a mother board. Any tips?

I did use the time to get the kids' beds ready for fall. Monday was beautiful and warm. Yesterday was cold and I turned the heat on. I figured it would be good to get it done now, so we washed all the bedding, got out flannel sheets and down blankets and I am making plans to go and get everyone slippers. Which do not require refrigeration so should be fine.

I will also be able to make my 40week midwife appt tomorrow, since the fridge guy isn't coming.  No signs of much activity there, but with things as they are I suppose it is OK. Colds are cleared up now. But I do hope the baby and the fridge do not have to wait until the 18th. I am ready to stop running into things with my belly and eating Tums like the most important  food group. And strangely enough I am looking forward to a new labor experience. Not that it is all new, but trying a water birth, if it feels good to me, and having it just be Shane and I for most of it. The midwife said she wants to observe me and the baby every 30 min or so, but will leave us alone for the rest. If that is what I want. It sounds cozy to me right now.

So now we are just waiting.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Familiar Territory

And not in a good familiar. The colds have been getting a bit more intense. The kids seem to be weathering it pretty well, and other than being a little whiny and needing extra sleep and then getting whinier when they don't get needed extra sleep, they are doing ok. Shane actually worked from home one day, which is unusual for him, but this morning he said he might be starting to feel better. I guess I got the end of the train cold and feel like I am trying to play catch up to everyone else. I think last night was the worst so far. I am sure the sleeping arrangements didn't help.

We had settled down into our respective sleeping places. Kateri's sleeping place being our bedroom floor. For some reason she just 'felt like she needed to sleep with someone'.
Shane had taken a thera-flu and was quickly off to dream land. I remembered I could take Benadryl and had taken one, but was not feeling any extra sleepiness  because of it. Unfortunately, when he has a stuffy nose Shane tends to snore. And as I was still awake it was keeping me from getting to sleep. So I got up and found Kateri coming back from blowing her nose. I suggested she come sleep with me in her bed. We grabbed out blankets and pillows and settled in. A few minutes later I heard a knocking on the bedroom door. I looked out and saw Pippin waiting to get entrance to our bedroom door. I had to call out loudly for him to hear me over the fan that I was in Kateri's room.

He came in and said he wanted someone to sleep with. I reminded him Cyril was in the  top bunk. He said that was not close enough. I told him the little bed was too full, but he could sleep on the floor. Or if he didn't mind snoring he could sleep in my bed. He went into my room and came out a minute later saying there was no snoring then went back in. I cozied in again looking forward to sleep, eventually.  Less than a minute later he pops out again and says 'it sounds scary in there.'

So I tell him to go sleep with Audrey,  hoping she is already asleep and won't be disturbed by it. he ends up getting in his own bed instead and I am thinking it is all done. Then I get the feeling of someone standing in the doorway. I roll over and see Audrey's silhouette there. I ask her what's up, and of course she can't hear over the fan so we volley back and forth with "What?" "I said what it is up?" "Huh?"

Finally she comes close enough to hear and I explain any noise she heard was Pippin going back and forth. She says she had something to tell me. I ask what. She says she can't remember now. So we say our good nights and I roll over to find a comfortable position, of which there are getting fewer and fewer. And then one of the boys gets up to go pee, banging the toilet seat hard on the way up and down. I am thinking we will practice 'how to go pee at night and not wake up the entire house' today.

As I finally got comfortable flashbacks of these days came into my head. Horrible, nasty days. But they made me appreciate so much where I/we are  now. Plus my father-in-law pointed out a new, to us, show 'Foyle's War' which has helped pass some time when the evenings start to get congested and unpleasant. And being a British production, goes very well with tea.

I think the kids are waking up now. I am glad they have all been able to sleep in  at least. At my midwife apt yesterday I was lamenting the timing of the cold- being due in one week. She said sometimes the body just waits until things are right to go into labor. Then she went on to say the cold (which is popping up all over)is not too bad, just really, really, long.  So maybe we'll have a Thanksgiving baby? I am glad Malachi is tucked away safe in all this. I did go get diapers yesterday and washed the last of his new outfits. I think today I will get the bed set up and clean the bathtub and shower.

And the fridge. Which I was planning on cleaning, and now that it seems to be broken and everything in it is warm and melted, will not wait until the weekend, as I had planned. I will be calling the repair guy at 10:00, when they open, though I am sure they probably can't come until next week so I had better get more ice for the cooler too. Good times. Glad I had not stocked up on lots of snacks to get spoiled yet.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

No baby yet

Which is not surprising. None of mine were early, and half were almost a week late. Plus some of us have  colds, so I am hoping we can get over them quickly and then move on to baby. My cold just started last night, at precisely 5am, so another week, which would put me at my due date, could be very useful. But so far it  all is quiet on the western front and I am enjoying slowly, and thoughtfully, preparing. I am so excited to get all my cozy stretchy pants washed and ready and my non-maternity stretchy shirts. And get the fridge cleaned out and stocked with good, quick snacks. Actually, I am not excited to clean the fridge at all. But it needs it and I know I won't want to later. And there is not room for tasty snacks in it as is, so maybe this week-end. If the baby came next Friday, that would be great. Then I'd have Shane for the week-end, and I could watch the vice-presidential debate without the newborn haze, which I am expecting to be very entertaining. The debate. Not the newborn haze. Oh, and I need new socks and  slippers. And speaking of clothes I was laughing at the lovely undergarment sent in my birth kit. Large netted, what look like boxer briefs. And they only come in two  sizes. Large and Extra Large. My midwife calls them the Victoria's Secret Special. Then she told me to forget them and just get some depends for the first few days. Hadn't thought of that before but I'd like to limit laundry/sheet washing, so I picked some up. I didn't tell Shane. But they are pink, or maybe peach, and don't look too industrial. And  hopefully they will be useful. I'll let you know.

My sister and mother-in-law both offered to throw me a shower. I have not had one since Audrey and had given away all my little  baby things. Plus I like cake, Kateri loves a party, so they planned one. It was lovely, the weather was wonderful and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. There are pictures, but I have not downloaded them and I only took two, so I will have to steal some from other people.

This week I went and picked out a car seat, finally, and now I think we are totally ready. Well maybe some more diapers. I debated on doing cloth again or not.  I do like the softness of cotton and there are so many new options out there. We had just used the Baby diaper service, which was great, but when my hands started having problems fastening the pins I switched. Now they have  diaper covers that don't require pins. But in the end, convenience won and I decided to just start with disposable and see where we go from there. Actually, I had bought Kateri a pack of newborn diapers for her baby doll a while back.  I just scrounged up some of those for now, I think just a handful, so I do need to get more.

Monday, September 17, 2012

36 weeks...and counting

Aside from the long bouts of insomnia in the middle of the nights lately, pregnancy and our school routine, are going fairly well. I feel like a character from the Walking Dead some days, but that is good prep for new mommy (not) sleep, so maybe it may help with that transition.

I have moved into the midwife appt every week now. It seems to have come quickly, what with everyone being well and all. I even got my birth kit last week and thought "Ok. I guess I'm ready whenever it starts". Except Shane was several hours away on a 'come-over-and-let-me-pull-you-around-the-lake-like-a-rag-doll-until-you-can't-move guy trip. It's an annual thing and every year I pray he comes home in one piece and still able to earn a living. He did. So now we are good to go.

Last week was extra busy. Kateri had an appt to get fitted for a hearing aid, again. We had tried it a few years ago but she was not impressed and we decided to hold off a bit. But now that she is bigger there are more options, and hopefully ones she can tolerate better. She was lamenting, when school started, the fact there was no one to play with and how she wanted to go to the local school with all the neighbor kids. I tried to explain that it would not all be play time.  But seriously, I think she would love the routine and the social aspect of being in a classroom and do well. And she'd probably get in trouble for talking, every day.

I think next year we will put her in some of the co-op classes where the big kids take some lessons. And then I thought the hearing aid might be really useful, as the teacher would not be sitting next to her. So we went. On the way she was chatting about how it will be and how she can turn it up so when they are watching a movie and the other kids can't hear it, she'll be able to and then the other kids will be like "What?"   That was her exact word. The trial hearing aid will not be ready until next month, but she enjoyed picking it out- a marbled purple with sparkles-and getting the pink goo squirt in her ear. I am glad she is excited about it.

Then I had a midwife appointment. I hit the 36 week mark. And it hurt. I feel so ready to not huff and puff just rolling over in bed, to eat a normal sized meal, to wear whatever pants I want, and to stop collecting souvenirs of the day's events and meals on my belly. And to see my toes. I know afterwards I'll probably look back fondly on the days when there was no crying, my arms were free, and I could drink a whole cup of coffee while it was still hot. But right now I am feeling over-stretched and ready to move on and make plans for how our daily routines will change. And then I think of this:

And I remember the crying baby pulling at your feet while you stare blankly into the pantry wondering what to make, knowing that it will probably end up like the previous night and you'll ask Kateri to make French toast again. And then I think of Kateri. And how willing she is/will be to make dinner, or hold the baby, and clean the kitchen.  And then I feel like I will make it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I found them!

The pictures I downloaded to a secret location, that is. Here a few highlights from our trip.

OK, this first one is not from out trip, but seeing as how we were all leaving, and the neighbors on that side were also going to be away, it was the perfect time to take down the pool without offending anyone's sensibilities for clean air. I suppose the rabbits had to endure the fallout, but seriously, these guys, or girls rather, think their feed bowl is also a latrine so I don't think they could complain much. Anyway, it worked and by the time we came home, the only remnant of the pool was/is the dead patch of grass.

 One of many courses from our dinner at EVOO in Canon Beach. This one was beef tenderloin with  succotash and watermelon salad with lime-habanero pepper dressing and cumin cream topped with a strawberry-tequila sorbet. It was very yummy. Sadly, little Malachi was squeezing out my ability to eat much in one sitting but every course was amazing and I enjoyed them immensely. If you want the recipes you can go to EVOO and look up the August Dinner Show. We've made several of the courses since coming home, including the tostada stack with citrus braised pork belly and the watermelon salad, with all the toppings.

The next night we went to a little french-italian restaurant there and had a lovely farewell dinner before we headed....
 to our yurt. Like I mentioned it was not very rustic at all and super cozy.
 This was the fruit basket the waiter put together for us when I realized I had no snacks and low blood sugar and felt horrible. I got better.
 The yurt had Wi-Fi and electricity, neither of which could make my pictures not blurry.

 And amazing views.
 And this is what we came  home to. Actually this is how Cyprian came home several days after we did. They are out now and it healed nicely, though it has been an effort to remind him to not wrestle while it finishes healing.

And now we are all home and are jumping right into our school year. So far it is going well. Or at least now it is. The first day I had a horrible night's sleep ( about 3 hrs ,interrupted) and was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and then of course pregnancy hormones don't help much and once Shane was home and I was recounting things and feeling everything and then some I actually broke down and cried. Which is not something I do easily, pregnant or not. But the next night I slept better and was more on top of the day and we were actually productive and I felt optimistic about the school year. We'll see how today goes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No Pictures

It's not that I have not taken any, or have not downloaded them, so  much as I can't freaking find them once I do! Shane loves to "up-date"  the computers with the latest version of whatever and then I cannot find anything. It's called 'beta' for a reason. Because it is not ready for public consumption, they are still working out bugs. I don't want to be a  test user or guinea pig, and honestly, if it is not extremely intuitive and easy to use, I don't want it near my computer. And I am pretty sure they would not want my 'user feed back'. But Shane feels that newer is better and  that it is important to keep up with the changing technologies and all that. Or maybe he just really enjoys confusing the heck out of me. Either way, I did successfully download all the pictures from my phone, only to have them disappear somewhere in that scary black box called a computer. So no pictures. And there were some very lovely ones of our vacation last week too. But I will enjoy putting Shane on the trail of the lost pictures and seeing how he feels about the experience. And then I'll post some pictures.

Grandma and Grandpa offered to take  ALL of the kids to a fair and to visit cousins. For a week. After much thought and deliberations we said yes and put the kids with bags on the front porch. No, we did a proper send-off and farewell dinner, while also looking into things for us to do as well. Shane took the week off work and we explored our options. I was not sure how'd I'd be feeling (this was 4 weeks ago) and not sure what kind of travel I'd be up for. My midwife said flying would be fine and wrote me a letter, if we decided to go that route.

The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to stay closer to home. Shane had down to Cannon Beach, OR to explore some kite boarding beaches and liked it. So I booked a room there and a dinner at the cooking studio, EVOO. Then we thought we'd just play it by ear after that. Cannon Beach was great and we enjoyed being able to  walk on the beach, go out for coffee, and do whatever caught our fancy at that moment. Shane brought his kite gear, but the wind never presented an opportunity. Still, it was very relaxing and after two nights we felt ready to head out for something new and different. Something different being the desert.

The day before we checked out Shane suggested we head over  the mountains and visit some wineries. And then he suggested we stay the night. In a yurt. Which of course conjured up pictures in National Geographic of animal skin tents with livestock wandering around and into  your yurt. Which Shane would have liked. But being in the 'I need to go every 30 min and I can't sleep without five pillows and a fan and that goat better not eat my snack or he's shish-kebab' stage of pregnancy he offered something much more amenable. Air conditioning, electricity,  a real shower, a king size bed, even Wi-Fi. And rows and rows of grapes out your front door. Not to mention a restaurant, pool, and a view to die for  at the end of them. This was my kind of yurt.

My only regret was not eating enough on the drive there and  arriving very much worse for it. At dinner I really just wanted to lie down on the cold floor and sleep. Instead I managed to east some meat, then asked for a glass of 1/2 and 1/2 and a fruit basked to take back to our yurt with us. We really were not prepared to 'camp'. I had not even brought anything for swimming, which would have been very welcome in the desert heat, but not at the 65 or so degrees at the ocean so I had not packed anything. I think if we had prepared we would have stayed another night, but as it was, after breakfast and a wine tasting and feeling refreshed by the oasis that is Cave B, we headed over the mountains and home.

There were so many things we 'could' do and some that felt like we 'should' do. Knowing there is only about 6 1/2 weeks to go before baby arrives there was a little panicky feeling of what we wanted to get done, plus starting school next week as well. So in the end, we spent the time resting, reading, going to the movies, twice, and meeting up with friends for more wine tasting. Finally, the last day, we got serious. After going out for breakfast, we went to the bookstore to get Audrey's math book and picked up some biology and logic books as well. Then hurried home to organize some shelves and clean the house before picking up the kids.

And now this week I'll spend organizing the rest of the books, procuring the missing school supplies. And hopefully some napping.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Heat Makes Us All Whiny

It is supposed to be 93 today. Even the birds seem quieter this morning. And the air is still so there is no help from the wind. Everywhere you go, it is just hot. I got up at 6:30 and opened all the windows in the house and it has cooled down to 71 degrees. I think that might be the coolest indoor temp for the day. Unfortunately, we drained the pool that stinks up the yard, in preparation for refilling it. But then it rained and  I wondered how much time we'd have left so did not bolt the metal frame back together again. And now tomorrow is supposed to be warm, with thunder showers, so I wonder if it is worth it for a few hours today. So the kids are pretty much stuck with being hot, or running through the neighbor's sprinkler, as ours is broken. And when they get hot they get whiny. And then I remember to give them popsicles. And just to make the heat more fun,  the baby has discovered my bladder makes a great bouncy cushion and has been jumping ever since. But I'll save the pregnancy whining for later. Not too much later, though.

On a very pleasant note, another result of Shane's hiking trip, besides the much appreciated perspective he got on my daily dealings, was his offer of whatever I needed to keep my sanity and get a break. Which is not a surprise, coming from Shane, who is very thoughtful, but a nice reminder that it would be a good idea to plan some regular time to take a break and get my bearings and maybe thoughts  in order. He said whatever I needed, a weekly massage, a night out, maybe just time to take a long bath with no interruptions. I have not thought too seriously about it as the heat is not conducive to great cognitive events, but it is in the back of my mind to consider.

I had another validation of my theory of massage being the best MS therapy. Every few weeks I get fliers from drug companies offering free lunches, or dinners, along with some professional giving a talk on various aspects of MS or therapies. Imagining them to basically be big sales pitches, and having no interest in ever going on them again, I generally just ignored them. Not to mention the restaurants were generally not convenient to me, or a place I would go out of my way to frequent. But last month the invitation was to a restaurant I do like, and there was  maternity store nearby I wanted to check out. And it said I could bring a friend. It was a work day. So I called my sister. She said yes, and I RSVP'd for two. The other part I was interested in was the  "title" of the talk. Cognitive dysfunction in MS. I was hoping for  some cool cog-no-meter that would tell you  if you were in any frame of mind to be picking wall paint colors, or something like that. I was a little bummed when the talk turned out to be basically a rundown of all the fun possibilities of dysfunctions, with thinking, sandwiched between spasticity and urinary problems.

I wondered how he was going to navigate such topics in  a lunch-friendly way, and noticed when he started choosing his words very thoughtfully, no cognitive dysfunction there. Not that it would have bothered me. The stomach flu, or very bad morning sickness, is the only thing that can ruin my appetite, and the ravioli with goat cheese crostini and arugula were tasty. But there was the potentiality of me revealing my immaturity by laughing, so I felt a little on guard. And having my sister next to me, I was very careful  not to catch her eye and have us both end up acting like school girls. However, when he started  hinting at other bowel issues and the off chance he might uses the word 'sphincter', I decided it would just be safer to leave. So I abandoned Tirzah to hold things together herself and went to the bathroom for a bit. I might have suggested we leave all together, but I was holding out for coffee and dessert, of which it eventually became clear there was  none of.

He did touch on massage therapy and was very convinced that of all the alternative or complimentary therapies, it was worth investing in. He explained the difference between spasms and spasticity. Spasms are momentary contractions, painful, or not. Spasticity is a constant contraction, like you have rigor mortis in one of your limbs, which sometimes you need help from someone else forcing the arm or leg back into its non-spastic position. He also mentioned that generally, spasms are a precursor to spasticity somewhere down the road. Which does not bode too well for my legs. But he said massage therapy is very useful for getting your muscles to relax way beyond what you can do stretching on your own. He pretty much had me sold at the massage part.

I was also entertained by the fact that the projection of the slides he used would kind of jerk every few seconds. No one went into seizures or anything, it just seemed kind of ironic, especially when he got to eye movement issues. All-in-all it was a fine overview, nothing earth shattering, and not a sales pitch at all. And, given, the right restaurant, the right neurologist, I might go again.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


So, Shane says he is thinking about taking the kids hiking overnight. Knowing me he does not even ask if I'd like to come ( the last time we slept in a tent I had dreams all night about people freezing to death, and the last big hike was life changing, he proposed.  I feel  I've gotten my share of bad and great things out of hiking  and I am content). So he pretty much got that vibe and didn't involve me in the planning. However, his dad, said yes. And then Shane thought it would be great to take the kids' cousin, Azriel, along too. So he made meal plans and sorted out backpacks and bug spray. I thought they were a little crazy taking four kids hiking, Cyril being the only tested hiker, but I kept quiet and helped pack bacon and Advil and clothes. And Thursday morning they were off to breakfast and then the trail. After breakfast, Kateri started to think about bears and was not sure she wanted to anymore. And would Shane please take her home. Not to let her suffer defeat before she even put her foot on the trail, Shane was able to convince her stick with the plan. Here they are at the start of the trail.

Is this all you've got? Piece of cake!

The plan was to do a 5 mile, not too strenuous hike to the lake, stay two nights and come home. So Audrey and I made plans to see a movie, maybe go out to lunch, or pretty much anything we wanted. She gets eaten my mosquitoes and hiking has been rough on her. Plus she had a job dog sitting so we were quite comfortable staying home. We did get to see a movie. And go out to lunch. Get a couple Scrabble games in and enjoy all the peace and quiet we wanted.

Then Friday Shane was able to get a call in and said they were contemplating coming home that day. And then later, could I call in some pizzas to pick up as they were 20 min out and very hungry. They finally arrived home around 8pm. I opened the door and in fell a raggle-taggle group of limping, dirty, exhausted kids. Shane and grandpa were starting to seize up a little from the long drive home and were afraid to sit down to eat for fear of not being able to get up again. Once the kids started eating the stories came pouring out and they were all talking as fast as they were eating. Then we showered them all down, put on a movie for them to pass out to and Shane  gave me the details of their trip.

Apparently, the not-too-strenuous part of the description was also not-too-accurate. There was quite a bit of elevation to deal with and pretty soon Shane was carrying his enormous pack, plus Pippin's and the cousin's. Pippin was not quite the silent soldier and whined at every step- I probably would have too. Kateri was a trooper and carried her pack all the way in, and out. Which does not really surprise me. Cyril did too, along with a big blue sled they found up in the snow which they were able to make use of at camp, but only made hiking up the brush more difficult on the way out. But he was pleased to show off his nice sled when he got home and can't wait for the first snowfall.

The camping spot was beautiful, and isolated. The kids could explore the hillsides, try to catch fish, fall in the lake, or slide down the snow as they wanted. Unfortunately, it was in a no-fire area, so if you did get wet you mostly stayed wet. But the sun did come for a while to dry things a little. Which was good because they also had a nice big storm too. Just as Shane was making some potato soup for the hungry campers the wind picked up. He could see the rain coming so quickly stashed the camp stove, soup and all, under an overhanging rock, along with some shoes he had the presence of mind to grab, and they all  stuffed into the tent. The thunder was amazing and with each clap, the kids would fall face down on the ground in silence. Shane said that was the good part. But in between, they loudly discussed the chances of being struck by lightening and what would happen if you did. Cyril was a little distressed and was cuddled in his sleeping bag, so to cheer him up and show him things were fine, Az picked up a metal cook pan and held it over his head. Just as a lightening bolt struck just outside the tent with the thunder right on top of it. Az quickly joined Cyril and they huddled together on the ground.

The storm raged for an hour or so. Being confined with the four hungry, scared kids, Shane was very tempted to face the storm un-protected instead. And maybe hold up a pan or two himself. When the rain finally reached a lull they all ran and took shelter under the branches of a large tree. On the way Shane grabbed the soup pot and some dishes and they stood there huddled under the tree eating. When they were home and going over the menu, they all picked the potato soup as the tastiest meal. I wonder how much the emotional  and electric charges added to the flavor. Shane said it really was quite tasty.

Although the storm was gone before bedtime, it was night was still not without its own trials. Of course that is when bear fears and I-want-to-go-home feelings start to come out. In the middle of the night Grandpa was dealing with Az who wanted to pack up and head for home right then. Grandpa, in his most comforting way bluntly told him,
"Yeah, that's not going to happen."
                            Cyril made  a spear and was determined to spear a fish. Kateri tried hand fishing.

Shane got his own scare when he was woken up to some watery sound just outside his tent wall. It was just Kateri going to the bathroom. She had not wanted to go far from the tent so just stepped out and went right there, which was pretty much on Shane's head. I was impressed she did what she needed to do on her own. I would have woken Shane up and asked him to go with me.

                                   The water was quite cold, see the snow on the hill?

I think bear stories at night, Grandpa, might not be the best way to prepare for a good sleep.

Then told me my favorite part of the  story. He recounted how at every meal, he never got to eat when it was hot. How he and grandpa had to make three different entrees each meal to feed everyone. How he could never enjoy a bite or sip without someone expressing a need for something and once the kids were sated they were  agitating to go off on an adventure, without any consideration as to whether he and Grandpa were ready or  had gotten enough, or any for that matter. Or if he tried to make something later for himself someone would sniff and ask,

"Do I smell chocolate? I think I smell hot chocolate!"

Once, Shane just said,

"Yes. You do."  but did not offer to put his cup down and immediately make four more cups while his got cold as was the usual routine. Once in desperation and wanting a few seconds without demands he took his coffee and went up on the hill to sit and take in the view. After getting settled in a nice spot it only took a second for the frantic calls of ,

"Papa! Papa! What are you doing?"  to start and shatter the quiet.  I don't know what he thought would happen. Sitting down to relax in peace will bring on a smattering of emergencies, needs, and screams. Anytime. Anywhere. Mountains are no exception.

He matter of factly answered " I am enjoying my hot drink in peace and I am not coming down for 20 minutes."

I just laughed as he expressed his dis-belief  and amazement of the constant care-taking they demanded. I don't know what he was expecting, taking four kids camping. But I expressed some sympathy and empathy and said I knew just what he was talking about. That I was shocked after 14 years of doing this it would ever be a surprise. But mostly I laughed and took delight in having him understand why I feel so exhausted some days.

On the way down the mountain, things were a little better. Az, carried his pack the whole way. Kateri and Cyril were still committed to making it with their packs on, and it was downhill. Shane would keep spirits up with sounding off games and inspirational rounds of  "Hoo Rah!" But at last they saw the end of the trail and Shane's truck. Then some mustered up enough reserves to start running. Some started crying. And after taking his shoes off, Cyril realized his feet were hurting so badly because he had blisters on the bottoms of his toes. He knew your feet get sore when you hike so had not brought it up to Shane the whole time. Apparently his feet have grown since his last hike. Which was not that long ago. I felt very sad for Cyril. And impressed. This from a boy who cried at the sight of a dog for quite some years.

Shane said he knew, before hand, that hiking would not be for his exclusive enjoyment. That it was for the kids and he relished the experiences of them becoming more confident and testing their own endurance. Just like he did with his dad. And he realized how special it was that Grandpa  was there with them to witness and pass on his wisdom and expertise. And despite the tears, fears, and pain, it was all worth it for the memories, the shared stories, and the growing opportunities.

One of my favorite pictures. Shane has a similar one where he is the little boy.

When Cyril asks how Shane can say something definitively like why this will work, or not work, Shane tells him because he can play the experience card. He's done it. Grandpa has collected lots of experience cards. And now, having done some hard things, felt some pain, kept going, and reached the top the kids are building up their decks of experience cards which they can play.  Which is what parenting is all about.