Sunday, October 04, 2009

i moved!

for several months, michael's been trying to get me to move my blog to a address that corresponds to his.

well, i finally did it.

i'm now posting at the roaring lamb. this will be my last post at senor elefante.

come visit at my new place! and, please change your subscription if you're a subscriber. if you're not a subscriber, what's keeping you from starting now? at the new place, of course.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

someday, her husband will thank me

i know it's been kind of quiet here at senor elefante. adjusting to this little one has taken much more time -- and energy -- than i anticipated for numero dos. i assumed we'd basically go on with life, just having added a little body and subtracted a great deal of sleep.

oh, i was so wrong.

the last five weeks were rather stressful. ava lost a good bit of weight the first week of life (at least one pound, though possibly more). and even once we thought things were going better with the whole breastfeeding gig, she didn't gain weight like she should. so, we spent several weeks breastfeeding and then bottle feeding and then pumping.

it. wore. me. out.

i had told michael that i would fight to breastfeed her until she was six weeks old. i breastfed luke for 14 months and really enjoyed it. my little guy isn't a snuggler, and it was a way i could connect with him and snuggle him when no one else could.

but, we were getting no where. i called linda the lactation consultant several times. and, several times, i was so close to throwing in the towel. and would have if it hadn't been for linda's encouragement. i love that woman.

despite all that, we couldn't figure out why ava wasn't breastfeeding well. her latch looked good. her chin moved up and down. i had her evaluated by a breastfeeding peer counselor. we took her to a chiropractor. everything looked good; she just wasn't transfering milk well to her little tummy.

i started researching (hello, wikipedia) and began to think she might have a slight tongue tie. tongue ties normally aren't a big deal: someone whose tongue is tied can't lick an ice cream cone or *ahem* french kiss. but, babies need to be able to stick their tongues out in order to breastfeed well. if the band of skin under the tongue is too tight, or short, the baby can't stick her tongue out far enough to suck well. our pediatrician hadn't said anything about a tongue tie, and it didn't really look tied, but my gut told me that was our problem.

lovely linda gave me a referral to a pediatric ent doctor and we set an appointment for thursday. it took the doctor 20 seconds to diagnosis miss ava's tongue as tied. so, five minutes of topical anesthetic, a quick snip and an hour later, we were out the door.

problem solved.

because her tongue tie was mild, the doctor wasn't sure how much the clip would really help. but, it has made all the difference in the world. baby girl hasn't had a bottle since thursday afternoon. nor has she wanted one.

my heart took a deep sigh. of relief.

we are back to finding what normal should be with two kids. and i love it.

someday, if she ever gets married, ava's husband will thank me.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

a front porch entrance: my perspective

the birth story of ava marie

aug. 25-26, 2009

with ava, unlike luke, i began having very mild, random contractions about 10 days before she was born. several times, i would contract for about an hour early each morning before getting up, and once contracted all afternoon. these contractions were noticeable, but never painful, probably just strong braxton hicks.

on tuesday, aug. 25, i had my 39w5d appointment. i declined an internal exam, but talked with our midwife about making sure i wasn’t pregnant at 41 weeks. she felt like it was crucial for me to have the baby before then. so, she schedule me for an appointment the following monday to “stir things up” and included an appointment for an NST with their consulting physician. i was disappointed to have to look at these steps, but wanted to make sure we were doing the best for our baby.

that evening, my sister suzanne and her fiancĂ© jerry came over for dinner. we had a great time and luke loved playing with jerry. our home was filled with laughter. they didn’t stay long, but at some point during dinner, i began having contractions that were short, but very uncomfortable. i didn’t mention it to suzanne, who was planning to be at the birth, because i didn’t want to jinx myself, but told michael as soon as they left.

after cleaning up, we laid down to watch a movie, babbette’s feast. during the movie, i timed contractions. they were lasting about 30 seconds, but were only 10 minutes apart. after the movie, we packed the rest of our bags for the birth center and went to bed around 11pm.

i fell asleep quickly after realizing the contractions had spaced out to 20 minutes apart. i was bummed because i thought labor was fizzling. i figured i’d wake up in the morning, like normal, and we’d go on about our life. in fact, michael had planned a “fun day” for our family. despite being disappointed about labor dying down, i was looking forward to spending the next afternoon with my “men.”

i woke up suddenly at 2:33am. i might have been having a contraction, but what i realized was that i had to go to the bathroom. as i left the bathroom, i had a really strong contraction that had me leaning on the sink and breathing deeply. i woke up michael to help me keep track of the time. i had another contraction 10 minutes later that was equally as strong. and then, they started coming five minutes apart, lasting 30-40 seconds.

during this time, michael decided to take several trips to our car with our bags – we had a lot since luke was going with us to the birth center and would likely still be asleep. at the time, i didn’t think his trips were necessary, but i’m so glad now that we didn’t have to worry about everything when we were ready to leave.

we timed contractions for an hour – i tried to lie down, but spent most of that time on my birth ball. after an hour at 4am, we called our midwife cherie. we chatted for awhile, she listened to me through a couple contractions. since she wasn’t the midwife to deliver luke, she asked about how long i’d pushed with him. because i’d had a lip of cervix, i ended up pushing about 1.5 hours, which is what i told her. however, once that lip was gone, i pushed about three times, which is the information she wanted.

if i had known to tell her that, the story might not have been as exciting.

at that point, my contractions were very painful, but i only felt them low in my uterus. cherie wanted us to call back when the contractions were higher and longer – she told me that would probably be an hour or two. she also recommended i take a bath.

i was thrilled with the prospect of a hot bath, so that’s what i did. michael grabbed a chair and sat with me in the bathroom timing the length of contractions. i wasn’t as comfortable in the tub as i’d remembered being with luke (looking back, i’m sure i was much farther along in labor at this point than i was when i took a bath in labor with luke) and so, i didn’t stay in the bath long. i got dressed, and leaned against the ball instead. at this point, i kept wondering, sometimes out loud, why we didn’t choose to go to the hospital so i could have an epidural. i also wanted to be at the birth center instead of at home – labor felt much more intense than i remembered and i wanted the support of our birth team.

around 4:30 or 4:45, i started to feel really panicky during contractions. i also told michael i thought i might throw up. i had to hold his hand or touch him during each contraction so that I stayed “grounded” and focused through the pain. still, i was only feeling contractions low and they were varying between 45 and 60 seconds, but not consistent. in hindsight, i’m pretty sure this was transition (the panicky feeling especially makes me think that). however, michael didn’t think to be looking for it already and i didn’t have enough cognitive awareness to recognize it myself.

we called cherie at 5am. she asked if i was ready, and said i was. she told me she was dressed and would meet us at the center. we had farther to drive than she did, so i never thought to call her when things picked up. i also should have told her initially I was feeling a lot of pressure in my bottom and that i was feeling panicky. however, for some reason, those things didn’t cross my mind. i just wanted to get to the center.

michael finished gathering a few things while i rocked on the ball. at some point about five or ten minutes after i talked to cherie, right as he was getting up luke, things changed for me – i needed to push. i looked at him abruptly and said, we need to leave NOW.

we practically ran out the door. i remember michael asking me to grab luke’s small backpack (which i normally carry when he carries luke) and i couldn’t. we live on the fourth floor and had to walk down a long hall to the elevator and then back down another hall to our car. i had three contractions during that time, including one in the elevator; michael says they were about two minutes apart. the entire time, i knew we had to hurry and tried to convey that to michael without yelling at him.

the drive to the birth center, which is 15 minutes, was excruciating; i felt every bump and every pothole. with every contraction, i tried to breathe deeply and to not push, but they were awful. like many women say, it really felt like a freight train moving through my body and i could do little to stop it, especially while seated in the passenger’s seat! while driving, michael called both sets of parents and my sisters – including suzanne who was meeting us at the center. the whole ride, i was encouraging him to run red lights, which he did, and get there as fast as he could.

right before we got to the center, i had a contraction that required me to push. at that point, my water also broke. fortunately, it didn’t gush yet. as michael stopped the car, i jumped out and almost ran up the stairs to the porch. he later told me he thought i was going to get sick. i was surprised to find the house dark and the door locked. i couldn’t figure out why cherie hadn’t turned on the lights, which is now funny to me.

i kept telling michael, this baby is coming, this baby is coming. i think he knew things were serious when we got in the car, but it obviously wasn’t until then that either of us thought we might have an unassisted birth. i was scared to be just the two of us, but knew i couldn’t NOT push. i pulled my pants to my knees and knelt and leaned on a bench on the porch. michael considered calling 911 because we were only three blocks from a major hospital, but called cherie instead (the time stamp on his cell phone was 5:38am; we'd been on the porch only a minute or two). she was four blocks away and sped toward us. at that point, i asked michael to help me take my pants all the way off. i felt the baby’s head and knew i couldn’t stop her from being born. it makes me laugh now to remember that all i kept saying, over and over, was this baby is coming.

because it wasn’t even 5:40am, it was still dark, but dawn was approaching. all of a sudden, cherie was on the porch with us. she told us that when she got to the porch, the baby’s head was almost out; she could almost feel the ears. she and michael helped me to sit back and with one more half push, ava was born. cherie later told us that ava had her cord around her neck fairly tightly; i’m so thankful cherie made it in time to catch her. in that moment, neither of us would have thought to look for that. we estimated her time of birth to be 5:40am, based on the time michael called cherie.

as a funny side note, when i jumped out of the car, michael wasn’t sure what to do with luke. so, he rolled down the window and left him in the back seat, buckled into his car seat. cherie didn’t realize he was there and told us she thought his cries were from a cat in heat.

because of our location, cherie ran inside to grab supplies while michael and i tried to get ava to cry (she did finally whimper). we immediately cut the cord so we could be moved. cherie gave the baby to michael and helped me inside without making a mess. this was the point where michael was most scared – he was left with the baby, whose face was bruised from being born so quickly and with her cord around her neck, and cherie was tending to me. we later talked to her about it and she said she wasn’t at all concerned for the baby because she had made noise and breathed. her main concern at that point was getting all of us inside so she could see and assess ava from there.

suzanne also arrived right after avaa was born. cherie had her run inside before us to strip the comforter and pillows off the bed. then, she got luke from the car and set him up in his pack ‘n play. cherie did have to warm ava and suction her mouth, but she still apgar-ed at 9s, despite her completely bruised face. fortunately, the bruising faded quickly and was almost gone by the time we left the birth center, six hours after birth.

a lot of my mom friends with two children told me how it wasn’t “love at first sight” with their second child. michael and i can relate to that: though we loved ava before she was born, we weren’t in love with her the moment we met her. but it only took a day before we were head-over-heels for this little girl. she’s our little lady.

Friday, September 04, 2009

in honor of, well, labor day

yes, yes, girl, ava marie (blog pseudonym -- if you know us and want to know her real name, just email; if you know her real name already, please use her pseudonym when you comment), was born last wednesday! and, since we have a newborn, i thought it would be appropriate to participate in this meme.

i will be posting her birth story, as soon as i've had a chance to finish it. however, michael's version of the story is sure to be more exciting. and, he'd really love it if you commented on his, he's already posted the first several parts (yes, there are parts...). check it out.

if you're interested in participating in this meme, let me know, and also go post a comment at rocks in my dryer. c''ll be fun!

How long were your labors?

luke: nine hours
ava: three hours (yes, it's an exciting story).

How did you know you were in labor?

luke: contractions that began gradually that morning picked up around dinner time (while we were enjoying dinner with good friends).
ava: i woke up at 2:30 to go to the bathroom and had a lean-on-the-sink-so-i-don't-pass-out contraction on my way back to bed. it was fast and furious from there.

Where did you deliver?

both at the birth center, though ava was almost born at home. on accident.


nope, though with ava, i kept asking michael, "why aren't we going to the hospital again?"



Who delivered?

our midwives, carol (with luke) and cherie (with ava), though michael came within about two minutes of delivering ava. i tell you, it's a great story.

she made her entrance into this world in her own way...i have a feeling she's going to add a little drama to our small family!

Friday, August 07, 2009

seven quick takes friday

i'm back for seven quick takes with jennifer. this seems to be an easy way for me to blog amid the crazyness that is our life. enjoy.

1) i had a great appointment with our midwife on tuesday (we're 37 weeks and officially full-term, by the way). baby looks good. and, she thinks cheerio is a girl! the babe is on the small side and has a heartrate in the mid-150s, both typical for a girl. even though i've been thinking it's a boy, i'm starting to get excited about the possibility of purple and pink.

i'm also thrilled because i've not gained as much weight as i did with luke -- my goal is to stay under 30lbs, which is totally do-able at this point. with luke, i gained 35.

2) last weekend, michael surprised me and took me to san antonio. i didn't know we were going anywhere until an hour before we left -- he had my bag packed and everything! he had lined up my sister to stay with luke and wisked me away for a relaxing weekend sans child. it was heavenly. we stayed at a fabulous hotel (seriously, my favorite hotel ever) and slept in and watched tv. and walked along the riverwalk. and ate dinner without worrying about a little person's meal. and talked. and talked. and talked. it was wonderful.
the entire weekend, we only got one photo of us together and we were super hot at the time. we laughed about how we look like an "old" married couple in it, standing several inches apart with michael's arm around me. but, as i said, we were hot. so, you don't get to see that picture...just these.

3) wednesday, we took luke to the zoo. we took him a little less than a year ago, when he was really too young to care, and this year he did better. however, wednesday was h.o.t. we managed to make it through the primates, which luke loved, before he was done with it all. he still enjoyed some of the animals, like the elephants, but mostly just rode in his stroller while we walked in the shade as much as possible. michael and i had a lot of fun, even though we sweated buckets, too.

one highlight of the zoo was the train. the last time we rode a train, luke was not amused. this time, he loved it. he sat in my lap and we choo-choo'd the entire ride.

4) my last day of work is next thursday. it feels very surreal. i went to my last staff meeting yesterday. this next week will be busy as i wrap up and get everything ready for a new yet-to-be-hired person to take my place. but, i'm really looking forward to staying home with luke for a few weeks before the baby is born...that is, if i get a few weeks. michael thinks the baby is coming aug. 31. i think cheerio might be early. regardless, we're excited.

however, being an unemployed family is a little scary at this point in our lives (it wasn't such a big deal four years ago when we moved here without a job...and without kids). michael is going to start interviewing cares teams (he had his first interview today and enjoyed it) and that will bring in a little money. it also gives him something productive to do outside the house, which is good for him.

5) michael dubbed july the "month of the word" for luke. his vocabulary has exploded. he's still not putting words together for short sentences (stubborn boy...where does he get that?) but he can communicate really well. my favorite is his word for banana: beebo. it's really cute when he's asking for the banana.

6) michael is still diligently job-hunting (if you know of a church position, there is a "finder's fee"). he had an interview last week with a church in iowa, but that didn't pan out. we were pretty discouraged, but trust that God has something else planned for us. on good days, it's not hard to trust, but even on good days, it's hard to find joy and purpose in the waiting. but, he is in the waiting, right? (is that the line of a contemporary christian song? i've been singing it, whether it is or not...but someone help me out!)

7) one of my surprises last weekend on our trip was a new lens for my camera. i was pretty jazzed. for those photographers who read my blog heidi, it's a 55-200mm nikkor lens. we enjoyed taking pictures with it, though i admittedly am still figuring out how to make my lovely camera do what i want (even though i've had it over a year! gah!). i'm looking for a good deal on a 50mm/1.8 lens and then i might be set for awhile, though i'll probably put a new 18-55mm zoom on my christmas list. just to have my amateur bases covered. for the time being, i mean. three lenses in a year? that ought to hold me for awhile...
as a bonus, here's belly picture from our san antonio trip. taken at 36 weeks.

hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

my 21-month-old battleship

since michael has been staying home with luke this last month (at least more than i have), he's often eager to get all three of us out of the house when we have the chance. today, he recommended the mall. so, we headed north to a local mall with a great play place for children.

i had taken luke here for a playdate probably six months ago. then, most of the children playing were toddlers and preschoolers. still, he was overwhelmed and it took a long time for him to warm up to some of the smaller structures. i figured this afternoon would be better because he's been there before.

yeah, not so much.

late this afternoon, most of the children playing were "big kids," elementary-age children who were really too big to be there. and they were running. luke finally got up the gumption to explore and not 30-seconds later, a six-year-old plowed him down. literally. at least the kid stopped to make sure he was okay, but by that point, i was already holding luke. he realized after a few tears that he wasn't hurt so he hopped down to wander some more. again, 30-seconds later he couldn't find me and panicked.

it was all over at that point. my non-cuddler was quite content to sit on my lap and watch the other kids. he made one more attempt to wander three feet away to a crocodile, but a big kid came by right as he got there and he was back to my lap in .7 seconds.

the child is not what you might call adventurous. granted, he is teething and not feeling super great, but in new situations where he's not acclimated, he's never been adventurous. if it doesn't seem "safe," he's hesitant, testing the waters with his big toe and then running back to play in the sand.

i love my son. with all my heart, i love him. more than i thought possible, in fact. but, as i am the adventurous one in our marriage, i've had to come to grips with the fact that my son is not like me. what's more, he's not like i would choose for him to be.

i see being adventurous as an asset, a character trait to be lauded. brave. bold. unafraid. exciting. whole-hearted. unabashed. explorers, after all, get all the glory. lewis and clark. neil armstrong. columbus.

and yet, there is one i love even more than luke who exhibits the same hesitancy and, at times, uncertainty. in him, i (usually) see this as a trait to be greatly admired. it's one reason i fell in love with him. it brings stability to my chaos. it protects me from jumping off the deep end. it keeps me sane when i take on more than i should.

when michael and i were first married and beginning to realize the impact this specific difference would have on our marriage, he decribed our relationship to me in an analogy i still remember when i'm frustrated by his slow decision-making patiently waiting for him to come to a decision i made my mind up about three days prior.

he said he's a battleship and i'm a destroyer. (hang with me here...he had to explain it to me, too.) destroyers move quickly and flit back and fort within the fleet. they're made to move fast and to take out smaller targets. battleships are huge ships. they take a long time to change direction, but when they do, they are the most powerful of all ships. and when all that power is chanelled in one direction, its a force to be reckoned with.

i'm coming to terms with the fact that i probably don't have a son who is a destroyer. he's a battleship. all 23 lbs of him. he's a 21-month-old battleship.

and one that i love with all my heart.

Monday, July 27, 2009

you're right!

obviously, i've been thinking a lot about cheerio's gender lately. (keep voting in the poll -- and leaving comments!) i thought i would share this funny story with you. lisa belkin, at the ny times blog, mother lode, shared a story about a doctor who was reknown for making accurate gender predictions of babies...

what was his method? he guessed! then, he would write the opposite gender in the patient's chart. when the baby was born, the parents either marvelled that the doctor was right, or told him he had guessed wrongly. in case of the latter, the old doctor would simply show them the chart and say they must have been mistaken because he'd written down his guess.

either way, the parents were amazed that he was "correct."

how's that for ethical?

happy monday, everyone!