Archive for June, 2008

so much to say.

i have so many posts buzzing around in my head–not the least of which is the afterbirth story, which i’m not quite in the headspace to write–but time away from being the boob is precious and scarce, so i will have to spit them out as i get little breaks.

right now, my girls are sleeping soundly next to me, and i am sipping a much needed cup of coffee. the day of my last post was especially rough in the crying jags department, but i have rallied. that was the day we decided we were completely through with trying to inspire jude to eat when she clearly didn’t want to. providentially, it was also the day i received this very encouraging comment from irina:

I don’t like giving advice when it isn’t asked for, but I will share with you my own early motherhood/nursing experience, because it sounds similar to yours.

Sophie was an awesome sleeper and I had to wake her to make her eat. More often than not, I would wake up in the middle of the night convinced that she had starved to death because she’d missed a feeding, only to find her blissfully snoring away.

Until we had our first pediatric exam. And my doctor pointed out that many babies don’t sleep very much at all. And that I should feel blessed that I can get a five or more hour stretch of uninterrupted rest at this early stage.

I found that if I left her alone, Sophie would eat during the day, every couple of hours, then sleep for five or more hours straight, which eased into eight hour stretches by the time I stopped nursing.

It was awesome.

So I just wanted to reassure you that sweet little Jude will let you know when her tummy is empty and that you’re only going to be stronger and more capable if you take advantage of the rest time she is allowing you.

since that day, feedings and sleeping have taken on a new, healthier rhythm in our household. and if i had any fears of starving my child by letting her go longer than *gasp* two hours between feedings, they were alleviated by her official weigh-in on saturday. my little girl gained 1 lb, 2 oz in SIX days. her blissful fattening has been the first notch in my “trust your mommy instincts” belt.

meanwhile, my chubby little girl has now met her nana (h’s mum), and her godmama/aunt e (my sister). needless to say, both nana and aunt e are completely in love, and are ridiculously proud of us for somehow bringing such a perfect being into existence…for their pleasure.

also of note, with my sister’s one day visit yesterday, i stayed up. no naps. and no lying in bed. i was actually really up, sitting somewhat on my ass (or hip). and for the first time, i was able to nurse my baby in my arms. we both loved it. she loved it so much that she demanded the boob every hour all afternoon. my stitches and tailbone are only slightly sore after all of that sitting, and even though jude woke me up every 2 hours last night, i feel relatively rested today. glory be.

i sense that i am about to be called back to being the boob, so here are some photos:

unsure about such extravagant bling.
jude not so sure about wearing aunt e’s engagement ring.

mi amor
post-shower snuggle with jude in her perfectly frilly dress

oh, zz top, i lub you.
loving on zz top the zebra, her 2nd favorite thing to stare at. (boob wins.)

stealing nana's heart.
snuggling with nana

…and finally:

debuting the gorgeous onesie made by the lovely owlie and pcat. thank you ladies so much again!

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last night was rough. today has been rough. exhausted. wish i had more words than these, but all extra energy is being expended on keeping above the hormones.

so here are some naked baby photos:

in the palm of her hand.

sun drunk.

someday she'll love me for taking photos like these.

ETA: i am so very much in love with my perfect little girl. we’re just figuring out how to communicate needs to one another. also, i’m glad she doesn’t have teeth.

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one week.

today, my darling girl has been with us for a week. at this time last week, i was dry heaving after my castor oil smoothie, my contractions were coming to closer together, and i was just 6 hours away from giving birth. i had no idea how real my daughter was about to become. oh, but here she is now, growing chubbier every day, and she is my whole life.

here are a few things i’ve learned this week:

1. even if she has just peed, jude will pee again the moment a wipe touches her girl parts. one does not have to be a boy to create an arcing fountain, by the way. her fountain of pee is just lovely.

2. ladies about to give birth, take note: once you are out of the sexy mesh panties and the big ass pads, do not use overnight maxi pads to hold your lochia. no one needs wings near their healing suzy. instead, simply use prefold cloth diapers. they are surprisingly NOT bulky feeling, don’t chafe, and wick away the nastiness really well.

3. our breastfeeding relationship is developing really well. it is now, anyway. we spent the first few days trying really hard to follow the schedule of feeding her every 2 hours. because jude is a deep sleeper, most of the feedings entailed a lot of trying to wake her up. we jostled her, swayed with her, burped her, checked her diaper, stripped her, and resorted to the cold cloth on her skin. and basically, the result was either a very pissed off baby, or a sleepy baby who grazed for a few minutes before falling back to sleep.

ultimately, i think all of these attempts to get her to eat when she wasn’t up for it made for a baby who started eating less. by yesterday, she was a super unhappy camper, who grew angry when approached by the boob at all. i had a meltdown, my breasts ached, and i couldn’t deal anymore. and so we decided to let jude dictate her own schedule during the day, so long as she didn’t go past 3 hours between meals. and wouldn’t you know it? it’s working. she stirs on her own after about 2.5 hours, wakes with a little burping action, and latches perfectly. and mostly, she hangs out on each boob for 15-20 minutes!

last night, we woke her every two hours, spent a few minutes rousing her, and she fed like a champ, which allowed h and i much more effective sleep between feedings.

i SO hope that jude is gaining weight back now. her cheeks are increasingly chipmunk-like, and she’s actually got thighs! and she is so content.

4. sleeping when the baby sleeps = good idea. i napped until noon today when jude wasn’t on the boob, and i am a whole new person. hallelujah.

oh, she’s awakened! time to latch her on!

here is your daily jude:
snuggly afternoon.
smile girl.
i ate my twin.
[yes, this tshirt says “i ate my twin”.]

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money shots.

how dare i be so vain to think you’re reading this blog because you want to see ME?! forgive me. and now, what you came here for:

the decrescendo of a yawn.
that perfect face.
a portrait

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holy jebus. as a girl who has had roll after belly roll since i was 5, i am so effing proud of my post partum belly.

39w2dsix days post partum

(39 weeks, and 6 days post partum.)

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we’ve been a napping little fambly all day thus far. oh the pricelessness. here’s the view from here, as i’ve finally gotten out MY camera!

what i found upon returning to bed from a nice, hot shower:
mama schmelen snuggling.
(this may be my favorite picture ever.)

smooshy faced mama and sparkstress:

milk drunk baby in black & white:
squishy baby in the crook of my arm.

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it’s a sunny sunday evening here in the bedroom. my eyelids are heavy, but i’ve got a baby to feed in a bit, so i will stay awake by updating.

first of all, wow. we are floored by the amazing support of people around the world caring about the beginning of our little fambly. we have been flooded with wellwishes from wonderful strangers, and we feel so loved and supported. i know that i was carried by the kindness and hope and prayers of all of you. thank you thank you. the internet is such an amazing place sometimes…

our darling jude is emerging from the haze of being born, and every moment, a new wave of intense love crashes over my squishy little heart. i kiss her eyes and nose and baby lips, and i stare. how on earth did this person come through my body into the world? she is such a force of nature, and i cannot wrap my brain around the fact that a sperm and egg, meeting by way of a syringe, came together and created her. wonders never cease.

…i think that the world hasn’t collapsed into utter chaos for no other reason than the wonder overtaking new parents upon the birth of their babies every day.

so our judebug is blinking her blue eyes back at us with something like recognition now. and she snuggles close against my belly, skin to skin, every time i feed her.

my milk came in last night, and she fed constantly all.night.long. it was a rough night. poor h has to be awake with me as i feed the baby, because i still can’t sit on my ass, and have to nurse lying down. h handles the burping, the mid-feed shitsplosions, the fun of helping me flip over to switch breasts. along with the joy of nearly engorged breasts, the swelling around my many stitches disappeared last night, leaving me fully feeling the aftermath of jude’s fast birth for the first time. sitting down to pee was a nightmare that left me in cold sweats, and stupid ibuprofen sucked ass.

oh, but morning finally came, and jude was milk drunk and content. i caved and took half a hydrocodone, and order was restored with my ability to rest and heal.

midwife michele came over to check jude’s progress as a newborn, and the report was mostly great.
at 2 days old, jude had lost 6 oz, and at 4 days, she’s gained back 2 oz. considering my milk just came in last night, we are very pleased with this. her jaundice is not bad, and is already clearing up. she’s got great transitional poo, and clear urine. h has been sunning her twice a day out in the yard, which is helping things along greatly. also, i’m healing well, despite the pain last night. my stitches are dissolving, and my uterus is just where it should be. [now, if i could just poo…that’s another story.]

there are so many stories to tell, and my afterbirth story is one of them, but it’s time to give my girl the boob.

i leave you with this milestone: a few moments ago, i enjoyed my first postpartum whiskey. a half shot of bushmills over ice. after 10 months without my favorite libation, i nearly swooned at the perfect sting on my tongue. joy complete.

OH! and the feared postpartum sagging belly lying next to me in bed has not happened. i’ve clearly got no sixpack, but my muscles are strong, and my skin has begun to snap back already. my belly actually looks better (to me at least) than it did before i got pregnant. or maybe i have a faulty memory. in any case, i am grateful!

after reading this meandering post, i reward you with what you came here for:

dr evil hatches a plan.
doctor evil, much?

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birth story.

[note: m = midwife, v = backup midwife, and s = midwife apprentice.]

on june 18, i woke up with a craving for blueberry muffins. i’d been dreaming of them, freshly baked. and so i woke h up at about 7, and asked her to go for a morning walk with me. i envisioned us finding yummy muffin mix at the corner store. sadly, they had no muffins to speak of. fortunately, they had donut holes delivered by the krispy kremey people. so. nice consolation prize. and we got a 1.5 mile walk out of the deal.

incidentally, i had pretty regular contractions throughout our walk, and i could feel sparky’s head low against my cervix. i felt different that morning. the contractions felt similar to how they’d been all along, but i had a sense of this is all working up to something today. and so i called my midwife to update her with details of sparky’s whereabouts in my pelvis. upon hearing the news of sparky’s lowness, m said excitedly, “it looks like we’re having a baby today!”

h and i needed to make a trip to the grocery store later that morning, and since m’s house is in the neighborhood, she asked us to stop by for an exam. m immediately agreed that sparky was ready to come: she was -1 station, and i was 3 cm dilated and as effaced as i was going to get until i was completely dilated. she gave me an intense cervical massage to stir up the hormones, and recommended that i drink a castor oil smoothie when i got home, to push me over the edge from pre-labor to active labor.

h and i took our time at the store, and as we walked the aisles, my contractions were slowly becoming more regular, and more intense. finally, we came home, and i ate a lazy late lunch. i really was in no hurry to drink the castor oil. i didn’t want to do it at all. i knew that it would push me into active labor, but i also knew that i would probably have the worst shits of my life, and knowing my sensitive little system, i’d still be shit-happy by the time i was ready to deliver sparky. finally, at about 4 pm, h blended orange juice and castor oil, and i forced it down with much whininess and gagging.

castor oil is supposed to take effect within about 2 hours. 20 minutes after i drank it, i was on the toilet. the contractions quickly came closer together (about 3 mins apart after being 5 mins apart all day). m, v, and s arrived to our house at about 6 pm. m immediately checked my progress, and said i was now 4 cm dilated, and the baby’s bag of waters was right on my cervix. she offered to break my waters then, and get the party started right away, but i wasn’t ready. i was tired and was on the toilet every 10 minutes, and the thought of jumping into the big scary part of the experience so soon was too scary.

and so we drew a bath. heaven, heaven. hea.ven. i lay there on my side for a long, long time, as h poured water over my belly and my back and my legs. the contractions were coming in stronger, longer waves now. they weren’t crashing over me, so much as rolling by. i watched in awe as my belly turned into a rock every few minutes. i breathed deeply as my lower abdomen seized and my lower back ached with the worst mentrual cramps ever. the endorphins kicked in about that time, and i was able to find a peaceful place inside myself to just let these contractions happen and to bask in the relief of their passing. the midwives poked their heads in the bathroom every twenty minutes or so to check fetal heart tones, and sparky was a happy little girl. as i rested in the tub, with h so lovingly tending to me, i felt the presence of my dear aunt mh, who passed last summer. i felt her calmness, her stoicism, her fortitude. i smiled and told h.

finally, m told me it was time to get out of the bath for another internal check. it was a little after 8 pm, i think, as i could see the sun going down outside my bedroom window. i remarked that a walk sounded nice, now that it was cooling off outside. m checked me, and said that i was now 5 cm dilated, with a poochy bag of waters waiting for the perfect opportunity to break. she offered again to break the bag, or to leave things be and go to bed for the night. i was still afraid of getting to the point of no return so quickly, but i felt like it was fast approaching anyway, and so i agreed.

my waters broke with a pop and a gush. immediately i entered transition. the contractions took me over in a new, frighteningly intense way. they were no longer aches and cramps, but fire in my belly, wave after wave of fire. and those gifts of relief were much harder won. as i was coping with the adjustment to this new experience, m reminded me that i wanted to walk. i backpedaled with a “hellll no”. but she thought it would be good for me to try. and so i tried.

it took a few fits and starts to get me moving. i couldn’t integrate the contractions with movement at all and i was beginning to feel panicky. m looked me in the eye and said, “you’re experiencing fight or flight feelings now, and you can’t fight or flee this. remember, only your uterus hurts right now. let everything else go. let go of your arms, your jaw, your neck, your legs, your bottom. this is only happening in your uterus.” and so i focused on everything else i was holding tightly, and one part of my body at a time, i exhaled until the fire only remained in my belly.

somehow, we made it downstairs, and the midwives recommended i sit on the birthing stool for a bit. i did not like this at all, and politely told them exactly what i thought of their torturous stool. all i wanted at this point was to go outside, and suggested we go out into the backyard. i was wearing sexy mesh panties, along with a gigantic pad to absorb the leaking amniotic fluid. as soon we walked out the door, i remembered that we have four dogs, and they were all outside in the yard. naturally, they came flocking to me just as i had another huge contraction. i fell into a squat, with h supporting me, and another gush of fluid poured onto the patio. the midwives tried to push back the now very intrigued dogs, as i thought to myself, in any other situation, this would be equal parts nasty and hilarious. m decided to help me into a makeshift adult diaper, right there in the yard, as the pad was clearly useless against the fluid. and so it came to pass that i stripped and was put into a diaper made of chucks pads and tape. ingenious.

after the “let’s go for a walk” debacle, i was done taking suggestions for things to do. i wanted to be in my room, on my birthing ball, with h’s thumbs pressed firmly against my lower back. there was only the matter of getting back upstairs in order to make that happen. i have no idea where i found the strength to climb stairs while contracting, but i did it.

finally, i was in my room again. v dimmed the lights and lit candles. the midwives left h and i alone. this is the time when everything gets fuzzy for me. i sat on the ball for a long time, with my head leaning against the side of the bed. h stood behind me, applying constant counter pressure to my back. my labor mix played quietly in the background. so many of my musical friends were singing and praying me through the birth of my daughter. in my altered state, i was very aware of this fact.

i was in the most intense pain of my life during this time out of time. and yet, i was mostly silent. i moaned through each wave, and finally understood what is meant by trying to get on top of the waves and ride them through. i kept my eyes closed, and slipped deeply into myself. i’ve never been more mindful of remaining in the present tense. there was simply nothing else in the world other than me, the fire, h at my back, and my daughter descending. in fact, i forgot that h and i were separate people. she felt like the strong, standing part of me; my backbone.

i felt annoyed when the midwives had to come in and check sparky’s heart. i hated the interruptions, and mostly tried to remain silent and focus as they listened. m came in after what she said was 45 minutes and told me i had to try to pee. i was not happy about this change of scenery. i don’t remember if i was successful in my urination attempt.

another bath was drawn for me, but this time, it was not soothing. in fact, i fell into my most panicked state while in the tub. it felt angular and hard and i couldn’t escape and the contractions were coming so fast that i couldn’t change out of an uncomfortable position…i demanded to be freed at once.

and then suddenly all was quiet again. v recommended that i spend the rest of transition in bed, lying on my side with a pillow between my legs. she told me to try to sleep through the breaks, until it was time to push. everything around me went dark and silent, as h held me through the contractions, and i found my way back down inside myself during the breaks.

just as i was getting used to being in this place, m was in front of my face. “you smell like peanut butter,” i remember saying. she apologized, and asked if she could check me. it was just after 10:30. i was 9 cm dilated, with just a lip of a cervix remaining. h and v each held up a leg of mine, and m asked me to push. there went the lip. i was fully dilated now and ready to go.

i was right about the castor oil and its lasting effects. i’d told h as i bitched about drinking the smoothie, “i am going to shit all over m and not feel bad about it. she can wipe my ass and i won’t care.” and so it came to pass that the prophecy came true. “well, annie, isn’t that the sweetest poo you’ve ever laid,” m said as i pushed. i grunted and pushed some more.

once again, just as i got comfortable in this pushing position, m asked me to get up and try pushing on the birthing chair. the birthing chair is the assless chaps of chairs. it’s basically a chair without a seat. there’s room enough to hold your legs, but that’s it. your ass is left to gravity.

i pushed and pushed and pushed on this chair. things were going great; everyone was smiling. h supported me once again from behind. m told me to look down at my belly as i pushed, and wouldn’t you know it, my big belly was totally gone, except for just above my pubic bone. “reach up in your vagina and feel your baby,” m said. i thought i must be making fantastic progress, but i had to insert my finger a long way to find a baby head, and i briefly felt disheartened. i let the thought go and continued pushing.

and then the mood changed and the air was charged with urgency. sparky’s heart tones had dropped from 160 to about 90. she was stuck under the pubic bone and i was going to have to push double time to free her.

i was given oxygen, and taken back to bed. i held my legs behind my head, and pushed with my ass to the sky. there was a small part of me that felt panicked about the situation, but mostly i was back inside myself, concentrating on nothing but pushing. pushing, by the way, did feel comparatively awesome. it wasn’t pain anymore. it was just pressure. the contractions felt purposeful and helpful, and i worked together with them to bring my baby down. and i knew that i was a good pusher, too. i had no idea had such core strength, but i felt the sparky descent with every push.

meanwhile, m suddenly called for a shot of lidocaine, which snapped me back to the current situation. “are you going to cut me?” i asked as she numbed my perineum. i think she replied something vague like “we’re just helping you get your baby out”, and i knew she didn’t have time to properly answer me, and so i went back to following directions to push. i felt tugging and more pressure and her hands inside of me, helping me push sparky out. she asked me again to feel her head, and this time, a squishy fuzzy crown was poking out of me. i kept pushing.

there was no ring of fire for me. my perineum was numb, and the rest of me was well supported by hands and copious amounts of olive oil. i pushed as hard as i possibly could, and the oxygen mask kept slipping off my face, and then plop! her head was out. m yelled, “h, pull your baby out!” and with my next push, h had sparky’s whole body in her hands.

our daughter, judith marguerite, was here, after what turned out to be 34 minutes of pushing. she came out pink and screaming. and then she quieted down, and checked our her new digs. i’m not sure how long we all stayed that way, staring at each other, h crying and me staring in disbelief. but at some point, the cord stopped pulsing, and i watched h cut it. it was then that i delivered the placenta, which was mostly painless. it felt like i gave birth to a pancake.

jude got stuck because she refused to come out without her arm against her head. because of the distress, and having to push her out a lot faster than the ideal pace, i tore a lot. the pressure i felt after the lidocaine shot was m tearing my perineum to make room for my daughter’s head and hand. all that work with stretching and softening my perineum for months and it was torn on purpose!

i am so grateful for all the iron i’ve been taking. after delivering the placenta, i had an arcing hemorrhage, and required an immediate shot of pitocin in my leg. i bled a lot, “more than average” i’m told, and it could’ve been a lot worse…but i’ll save that story for next time. i’ve got a baby to feed now.

[next intallment: the afterbirth story.]

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perfect, squishy baby

i plan on writing jude’s birth story today, if she gives me more than 5 minutes between feedings, but in the meantime, here is a pic of her perfect squishiness. her uncle dennis took the pic on his cameraphone. once i am able to actually sit on my sad, healing ass, i plan on getting out my camera and getting some proper photos! soon…

blissed out in the sling.

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welcome sparky!

ladies and gentlemen, meet sparky, aka baby jude:

introducing baby jude.

i am utterly wrecked with exhaustion at the moment, so here are the raw details, with stories to follow:

judith marguerite was born AT HOME on 18 june 2008 at 11:09 pm. she is our full moon, almost-juneteenth baby. she came very quickly after the midwives arrived around 6 pm. also, she decided that she’d not like to take her hand away from her face as she was born…with a 14″ head. consequently, one of her mothers has many stitches in her suzy.


8 lbs 6 oz
22″ long (!)

she’s got a powerful latch and we’re finding our way slowly…

more later…

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