Lucas’s Birth

There’s no “pretty” way to write about a birth. Or at least, I’m not capable of it. Here’s a real, slightly stream of consciousness account of the birth of Lucas Aron. Our second home birth, our second child…the next chapter of our great adventure. 

After yet another long, uncomfortable, sleepless night, I awoke to Ali climbing over me and creating a nest for herself on what space was left on the couch. It wasn’t until I felt a tap on my shoulder that I was fully awake.

“Hey, it’s Father’s Day.”

I gasped and apologized, realizing I had completely forgotten that it was Father’s Day. I had no gift, no card. No meal prepared. Nada.

My poor man. He was so forgiving. He just wanted to spend some time doing things he liked around the house. I said sure…I will try my best to keep up with Ali.

A half hour later, we were all sitting on the couch, eating breakfast. We had broken down our dining table to make space for the birthing pool. After Aliana’s early arrival, we made sure to be ready at 36 weeks. The pool was inflated and in place. Our towels were washed  and clean. We had our birth box in the baby’s room, all items accounted for. We were all set to meet the baby. But he took his time!

Shortly after breakfast, I thought I felt a contraction. At this point, I had been having contractions for about two weeks. I must have forgotten what Braxton Hicks felt like, because I had been having them for a while and never knew it. For at least a week and a half, I had been having contractions ten minutes apart for two hours. Much like my first labor, I was able to sit quietly to manage them. We would text Michelle, our midwife, just to keep her informed. But the tapered off, each and every time.

At this point, I couldn’t believe that I’d made it to 39 weeks. I had finally accepted that I would go full term. But this contraction felt different. I quickly felt the need to scoot forward to the edge of the couch, then the urge to stand was too great. I walked it off, making sure to take deep breaths while imagining the contraction’s apex and release.

“Andrew……”

That felt different. That one didn’t feel quite right.

“Just letting you know, I think I had a real contraction there.”

The look on his face was hilarious. His shoulders fell, and he glanced at the pile of papers he had begun to shred.

“I guess I’ll start to put this away.”

Could this be it? Could it finally be happening, or am I going to keep being pregnant?

We quickly found the answer to this question. Not five minutes later, another contraction. Same intensity. Same need to keep moving.

It’s 8:45 am.

It’s time to call the midwife.

We’re on the phone and I have another contraction. She trusts me to tell her if I need her to come right away. I told her I thought I would be ok for a little while longer. She said she’d prep her things and wait for our call.

I called my mother, waking her. I also woke my sister in California, to just let her know the baby was likely to make an appearance that day. Mom didn’t believe me that I had just started labor. She must of thought I was calling her late in the game like last time. I remember telling her quite sternly, “Mom, I just had three contractions in the last fifteen minutes. You need to get up and go!”

I don’t know if the fact that I didn’t take another birthing class helped or hurt me this time. I mean, I remembered what I learned, and I had been reviewing my Bradley workbook over the last few weeks. I used what I remembered, but my labor was advancing too quickly for me to integrate the contractions. I spent some time leaning against the couch. I spent some time leaning on the exercise ball. But they were coming on quickly, and stronger each time. At one point, I just sat on the toilet in hopes that the gravity would help the situation, I had forgotten that it works way too well, though. Andrew had called Michelle to check in, He knocked on the door, I opened it a crack, and heard him ask if I wanted to speak to Michelle. My only response was to slam the door in his face! I couldn’t count my breaths let alone hold a conversation. Michelle took that as her cue to make her way to our house.

Funny (to me) detail. I got tired, so I opened the door again, and leaned against it while still sitting. Andrew leaned in to check on me, and placed his toes on mine. I moved my foot, but he just put his back on top of mine. I think this was his way of sympathizing with me, and letting me know he was there for me (up until this point, I had been laboring on my own while he topped off the air in the pool, and straightened up the bedroom and kitchen). As a woman in labor, however, this was the least helpful thing he could have done. I yanked my foot out from under him again while gritting my teeth, “get the eff off of me!”

10:30 am

The next thing I remember, is Michelle coming through the door quietly. Aliana is so excited to see her, she wants to take her upstairs to see her room. Michelle is able to hold her off long enough to check on me and see how things were going. We wait until a contraction subsides and I ask her to check my progress. As soon as she was done I have another contraction, but this one felt wet. I thought my water had broken and I was momentarily excited, but it was only my mucus plug. Slightly disappointing, but Michelle announced that I was 4 cm dilated, but that contraction likely pushed me past 6. This was happening so fast!

Faith, who I really should just start introducing as my sister, came over. She was incredibly helpful with Ali, and resumed her duty as birth videographer. It was around this time that I felt like I needed to get into the pool. Andrew filled it up, and I quickly got in. I tried to integrate the contractions, but they were so strong, so close together, I felt like I barely got a break in between them.

We prepared Aliana as best as we could. We read books, we watched natural birth videos of cats, dogs, horses, and some human births. We talked about how some mommies need to make noises to help their bodies get their baby out. I let her know that I had to make a lot of noises to get her out, and that I might make a lot of noises to get our new baby out. Ali was very excited to watch her baby brother’s birth, but she got really nervous  with how much I was vocalizing. She mostly stayed out of the way, preferring to be in the living room watching a movie. She did come into the kitchen to check on me once in a while, and I remember catching a glance of her peeking in flapping her hands. She’s anxious, I thought to myself, but I couldn’t spare much more thought to make sure she was okay.

Because I actually got to test for group B strep this time, I found out I was positive, and I opted for antibiotics again. I know this is one detail that conflicts with many others that I know who have chosen to have unmedicated births at home, but with my medical history, I err on the side of caution. I have been very lucky to have a midwife who helps me become informed of the choices I have and supports the decisions I make. It’s one of the reasons why I love her so much. Michelle is not only an amazing birth provider, but she’s also a teacher, counselor, friend, and certainly family.

Like my first labor, I wasn’t able to finish the whole dose of antibiotic. I couldn’t quite feel a pressure they way you would think when it’s time to push. I just felt my contractions getting longer and longer, so I began to pull in on my belly as I did with Aliana. I thought I could feel crowning, but then there was a pop! and the feeling was gone. My water broke! I don’t know if my bag was actually hanging out or not, but I swear it felt like his head had come out. Though that was disappointing, I knew that he was only so much more closer to coming.

Ali was pushed into this world two hours after my water breaking. Lucas….it had to have been under an hour.

The contractions were coming on one after the other. I kept moving, swinging around in the pool, at one point practically hanging out of it with my butt in the air. I seriously could not keep control of myself. I was trying so hard to work with my body, but my body had one mission. I kept trying to control it, but it was telling me to let go, let it do what it needed to do. I wasn’t blocking it, by any means. I wanted to work with it so bad, to be a part of my body as it went through this amazing transformation. But I couldn’t. I was afraid. I didn’t want to be in pain. The thought that kept me going was the little girl in the other room. I did this for you, I can do this for your brother. Don’t fight it, meet it head on.

I want to say that I finally reached my breaking point, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Deep down inside, I knew I couldn’t be ‘broken,’ but I was also so tired of trying to be in sync with my body. I needed a break, so so badly.

Another contraction, another push. I could feel him coming, the burning sensation that comes with crowning. Jesus, it hurt. It burned. Got to get it out to catch a break. Once his head is out, I can breathe, I can take a moment to regain my strength just get it out getitout getitout getitoutgetitoutgetitout.

I let all my air out and cry, “It won’t stop!” This contraction will not end! It keeps mounting, growing bigger and bigger. Keep pushing keep pushing keep pushing. A deep breath, hold and bear down. I open my eyes and see a flicker of something round in the water below me. I push and reach down to touch his head and suddenly my son is in cradled in my arm. I sit back against the side of the pool and pull him up and out against my chest. “I’ve got him!”

12:30 pm

His eyes slowly open and close as if he’s waking from a long, peaceful nap. He was totally chill! Like he hadn’t just journeyed out into the world. We begin to call Ali over and she rushes in. I had to do a double take when I caught sight of her. My baby girl suddenly did not look so little anymore. At that moment, I was so overjoyed with the two greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I’ll never forget the moment, when all pain was gone and only joy left in it’s wake.

Lucas remained quiet but he was by no means struggling. Though pictures taken in those moments show him to be blue, he was actually quite pink in person. He was just, relaxed! He passed his apgars with flying colors.

Getting the placenta was super easy this time around. I merely looked down into the pool and noticed a bit of a red cloud forming around me. Michelle reached down while I gave a light push and out it came, intact. We took a similar journey from the kitchen to our bedroom, where Lucas and I were cleaned up. It’s 12:45 when my parents walk through the door, barely missing it!

Unlike last time, I tore a little and needed two stitches. This boy practically shot out of me, my body didn’t have time to stretch and adapt around him. He was measured and weighed, Andrew held him while mom got me a snack. I’ll never forget the next couple of minutes, where I sat on the edge of my bed next to my midwife in silence, just the two of us, sharing a pupusa. Both of our jobs had been completed; now, the feast. It was one of the most emotionally and physically satisfying meals I’ve ever had.

We started the day on the couch, planning the day ahead. We ended the day on the couch, holding the greatest Father’s Day gift anyone could receive, and one I can never ever top.

Lucas, I was so scared to be your mom. I didn’t think myself capable of being a “boy mom.” Today, as I stare at your sleeping face, I cannot picture my family looking any different than it does now. You’ve taught me so much — patience, excitement, strength. Thank you for choosing us to be your family. We love you so, so very much.

Picking up where we left off…

Ok — obviously, it’s been a long time since we last updated. A LOT of things were happening, many quite personal that I won’t really get into here. But basically, I think we needed to concentrate on us as a family for a while. So here we are… here’s a basic recap some cool things we’ve done since 2012. [And note this is pretty one-sided]

Of significance:
  1. Aliana not only turned one, she also turned TWO! and a month from tomorrow turns THREE. We’ve successfully kept another human alive and thriving for 35 months.
    Victory Baby
  2. We bought our first house! After 8 months of searching and attending at least 20 showings, I stumbled upon our house while trolling Zillow. We pounced on it, and here we are, 9 months later and still enjoying living there. One of the things I was really excited about was finally being able to make a place my own. My most important mission upon moving in was to find THE perfect color for our front door. Growing up, I had a long bus ride to school. There was this grey house on the way, with dark grey shutters and a bright yellow door. I said to myself, “One day, my house will have a yellow front door.” I don’t regret the decision whatsoever. The house just looks happy and welcoming. It totally has character! (Behr’s Honey Locust color matched to Valspar Duramax.)

    House and door

    Even on a rainy day, it makes me happy!

  3. I was laid off from my first job back in 2012. Within two weeks, I was back at work as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor. Within a month of this, I was hired full time as an assistant content editor with the company in which I was freelancing. I admit to taking a few days off to wallow in self pity (there were a lot of cupcakes involved) but I had to pick up my big girl pants and get a job. Just last week, I was promoted and transferred to a new department. I’m not an associate project manager, and it’s been pretty sweet so far. Project management has always been an interest of mine, and if any of you remember, I interned as a PM at Microsoft. Life kind of came full circle at this point.
  4. I fulfilled a life-long dream and had my nose pierced. Despite everything that I did to take care of it (honestly, I was obsessed with keeping it clean), it refused to heal. I had it taken out after 11 months. I have a tiny scar, but it’s barely noticeable. It was actually kind of freeing to have it removed. I think I was going through some weird, post-having-a-child-and-starting-a-new-job life crisis. I felt like I needed some excitement in my life. Ultimately, it didn’t work out.
  5. But that didn’t stop me from getting tattoos number 2 and 3 (or numbers 10, 11 and 12 if you consider each character a single tattoo). This, I do not regret. All of my tattoos have extreme significance, so I do not regret a single one. Andrew is officially jealous that I now have more ink than he does. I think that officially makes me a badass. My friend Jamie is trying to convince me to get #3/13 with her, but I don’t feel like there’s anything I “need” right now except a little retouching. I’ve always wanted a feather, but there’s no real significance to that for me to really justify it. I was able to at least find a significance to the heart on my finger, but I think i totally faked my way into that one, haha.
  6. Andrew’s been having some weird, digestive issues and we might need to go gluten free. We’ll know more in May.
  7. We went on our first family vacation. For months I worried about entertaining Ali on the plane, but luckily she was a total trooper and didn’t cry or get loud at all. Fortunately/Unfortunately, she started potty training right before we left, so it was a little hard having to juggle undies and pull ups and knowing where the closest bathroom was. Luckily she did great on vacation, did not regress at all. She’s also keeping dry through the night, or she will wake up asking to go to the bathroom. We’ve been really lucky so far. It’s funny how people tell you that it’s so easy to potty train once their mentally ready to do so. It’s unbelievable until you’re there, doing it. It really was super simple and quick, and I cannot begin to tell you what we did to make it work. It just did.
  8. I started knitting in December 2012, and thought it was pretty cool. I stuck with crocheting for a while, until I heard about a Harry Potter knit along (don’t judge, it is totally AWESOME) in September 2013, and I’ve been knitting ever since. I always thought that knitting looked hard, but I’ve actually found it to be quite easy and much more versatile than crocheting. I love both, but knitting has really given me a lot of satisfaction. I’ve also made some pretty great online friends through Ravelry.
  9. Oh, and I had another car accident in December. Totally not my fault, I was rear ended while stopped at a yield sign, but the injury lasted for a few months. I’m still dealing with shoulder discomfort, but having Andrew give me “adjustments” on a regular basis has helped tremendously. The car barely had a scratch on it, it’s such a beast, but it did end up getting a lot of work. And we had to replace our car seat even though she wasn’t in it at the time. It was a completely new experience now that I have a child. When Andrew picked me up from the ER he had Ali. She told us she wanted me to have a baby. Somewhere, she must have picked up the notion that babies come from hospitals (even though she was a home baby?!?). The nurse heard her and gave a pretty loud chuckle.
That’s pretty much all I can think of right now. I’ll probably be back in the next few days with some pictures of the house. We’ve done quite a bit of painting so far, but in reality have only completed two rooms. Ali’s room is the most put together right now, and I’ve been pretty happy with how it’s turning out. So. Yeah. That’s all I got for you.

My heart BURST with pride

technically, this should be a “Conversations With Ali, Eve of her 2nd Birthday,” but because i was pretending to be asleep (or rather, trying really hard to go back to sleep this morning), this was more of a one-sided, overheard somewhere, kind of Aliana-ism.

Aliana, almost 2

Aliana, almost 2

everymorning, ali and i cuddle while she drinks her morning milk. sometimes, this means we both get an extra 30 minutes of sleep before i really have to get up. as i mentioned, i was trying really hard to get back to sleep, but i was failing. ali was wide awake, and starts to count the beads on my silver necklace. she started as one is wont to do, when counting. “one, two, three, four…” little lady can get up to the twenties now. but that’s when she did something so incredibly surprising: she started to count in spanish.

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“Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, cinco, seis, cinco, seis…”

granted, she started to sound like a broken record, but good Lord did my heart leap from my chest. no one asked her to count. no one asked her to count in spanish. i sometimes feel terribly guilty that i don’t speak more spanish around her. honestly, it’s a word here or there. it happens sometimes when i don’t expect the spanish to come out. but when i have to sit and make myself think of what to say, i feel ashamed. i was hoping that our kids would grow up in a bilingual household, but with not having anyone to converse with in spanish, i’m afraid that i’m starting to lose it. even speaking to my family over the phone (we’ve always spoken in Spanglish, but majority of the conversation is in spanish), i find myself having to concentrate a little harder on what i’m saying. it’s like a complex mental math problem. one thing for sure though, is that my child loves Guatemalan food. i don’t cook the more traditional things at home, that require all day, exotic ingredients, or sometimes a muchacha as an extra hand, but boy does she love the few things i do cook here, or that my mom cooks for us.

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regardless, i think we did a great job finding a daycare that uses spanish in their lessons. i am so incredibly thankful for them, not just as a practical third parent, but for the care and thoughtfulness they put into their lessons at “school.” i was so disappointed when we first interviewed a daycare provider in clifton park who was a native spanish speaker and refused to speak to the kids in spanish. i’m glad that we felt a resounding “no!” and found someplace much much better.

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mommy guilt aside, i have to remind myself that we’re doing this practically alone. we don’t have family to help us at a drop of a hat. we don’t have many close friends, but we’ve done well in raising her. she’s healthy, she’s so incredibly smart and thoughtful, and she’s certainly beautiful.

as a friend told me recently, “guilt shouldn’t belong in a mom’s vocabulary…” and she’s right. i realized that (again) this morning as my baby girl–who’s not so much of a baby anymore–counted her way in spanish. i may not be doing much at home, but the few things she does hear, she’s picking up and absorbing, repeating. that’s worth calling a success, right? we can always add more vocabulary as she gets older.

she’s amazing, and i find that out more and more each day.

call me sappy, but i’m very thoughtful today. to think that this time, two years ago, i was 3 cms dilated after being in labor for almost 24 hours. i was testing out every position i had learned in bradley class, trying to find the most comfortable position for that contraction. then finding another for the next.

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look at her now, from a zygote to a gorgeous little girl. we love you ali. can’t wait to see how much more you grow this next year.

 

 

 

 

3 MONTHS!

Ali officially turned 3 months yesterday! Woohoo! It’s funny how each month of her life is a milestone I feel requires a celebration. We didn’t do much though, just not enough hours in the day. We laughed and played in the evening for a bit, gave Ali a warm bath, and fed her to sleep. After Ali fell asleep Lilly and I had some much needed mommy/daddy R&R, resulting in a pretty stress-free evening. It’s so nice Ali goes to sleep at night without arguing about it. I mean, she will try to fight sleep as it creeps up on her but she won’t look me in the face and say, “NO!” I’m trying to cherish these bedtime moments as much as possible before she learns she can cry and complain that she doesn’t want to sleep, or that she’s scared of the closet monster or that she’s going to be defiant simply because she can.

Knowing how much I love my family, it pains me to see the sad article I found on the news today about an infant Ali’s age. The article said the infant fell from the 2nd story of a hospital parking garage. There weren’t too many details except that officials expect the infant was 1-3 months old and that this was no accident. It’s terrible to think of an infant just like Ali being hurled over the edge so carelessly. I can’t even begin to describe the disgust I feel towards the heartless coward who did this. It’s unreal what everyday people are capable of. I could go on and on ranting about the idiots of the world but I know it won’t accomplish anything. I just felt this particular story was worth noting. I love Aliana so much, so unconditionally. It doesn’t matter who she is, what she does, or who she is going to become. Ali is my daughter I she will always be loved.