Life Right Now

Cheering at Rob's soccer game.
I've been totally pampered after giving birth to Ella; between Rob's time off from work and visits from my mom, Rob's sister Andrea, and Rob's parents, it won't be until 8 weeks after her birth that I will finally have to cope with caring for a newborn and toddler on my own. I have to say that as a fair preface to now saying that I LOVE my life right now and I can't believe how manageable it has been to have a second baby.

Total fascade, I know. But I'll live in this little dreamland while it lasts. What every mother needs is a mother for herself. I was so so sad to say goodbye to mine yesterday after three weeks of being pampered. What should have been a totally hectic period of my life was instead a time that I was able to just enjoy my new life. It's a feeling of "my cup runneth over" instead of "bursting at the seams".
Rob's soccer game

Michael found the two cutest babes at the park and thought it looked like fun to hitch a ride. So he just hopped on. They looked at each other like "huh?" but then happily drove him around for like 15 minutes.

Playing at the beach with Grandma Davis.

Grandma Davis and miss Ella Mays

Michael likes to do what Ella does. She had tummy time so he copied her, complete with a pretty fierce impersonation of her moving her head about all wiggly and jerky and unstable-like.  One of the best things ever that has come as a result of his copy-cat behavior is that he will FINALLY lay down for diaper changes. Thank you miss Ella for providing the good example.

Michael woke up last weekend and told Rob that he wanted to wash the windows. I now know how to get Rob to do chores.

He had no idea of this when he stuck his head through that hole. Haha, sucka.

Looking out off the balcony, one of our favorite activities.


Squishy Face

Ella's squishy face. I like the black and white effect because A. It looks good. B. It hides an unfortunate amount of baby acne and dandruff.

Showing off her manicure. And her long fingers.

Mostly these two just coexist. He gives her a kiss every now and then each day and that is sweet. But he wasn't too in to holding her for a picture. The first few did not turn out too well, so we put away the camera. But then he realized that holding Ella was the key to getting his picture taken, and then he was begging to hold her again.

Is this not the coolest contraption of a stroller? Smalls is riding on a skateboard attachment and loves it. Yeah, he's pretty hip.


Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Another Michael video. He is still getting plenty of attention even with the arrival of Ella.
He is way into songs these days - here he is singing Take Me Out the Ball Game like a broken record until I help him remember there are other lines to the song.
Also, I love this video because it captures the way he sounds like Daffy Duck when he pronounces certain words (here: Giants and shame).


Ella's Birth Story

For those like me who love to read birth you go. In a totally uncreative, time-line format. And completely unabridged.

the week before birth: many contractions each day, "false labor" for a couple hours on like 3 different days. So that by the time I am actually at my due date, I'm already feeling pathetic as if I am already a week overdue.

In my sleep Saturday night (1:00 or 2:00 am Sunday): water breaks...just a trickle so I wasn't 100% sure and just went back to sleep. I'd spent the entire previous week getting worked up over false labor, so I went overboard with non-chalance at this point.

Sunday morning: I can feel a hormonal shift in my body that makes me feel a little more certain of the ruptured membranes. But no contractions. Call the hospital. The nurse wants me to be more certain that my water broke, totally thinks I am just over eager or something. She tells me to get out and move around, go for a walk, laugh, etc - to see if it would make more water come.

Sunday midday: Having some contractions now, especially on the drive over to church - every acceleration and bump. And every time Rob makes me laugh.

At church: try to forget about it. Ha! Cry through a talk. Try to avoid talking to people, but that is impossible. A friend who is a midwife and I especially didn't want to talk to because I was sure I would burst into tears, actually succeeds in making me feel better. But, oh, all the people who say "I didn't expect to see you here today!", or ask "so when are you due?" (yesterday, thanks for the reminder). It just feels totally wrong to be at church like any other day, even filling in as nursery leader because no one is there, when you know you should be at the hospital having a baby.

After church: Go on a walk with Sir Smalls. His nose leads us down the street to the neighborhood trampoline. I was secretly hoping for that. Good kid. After a few mild bounces, I sat down and thought I sat in a puddle. No puddle there. Just my amniotic fluid, sorry neighborhood kids who use that trampoline. So there is my solid evidence of water breaking for that lame nurse. Wahoo! I was so happy with the event that I happily walked back home with sir Smalls without even a trace of shame that I looked like I just peed my pants. I was ready to happily explain to every neighbor what it was and that I was about to have my baby.

Early evening: Contractions every 5 to 15 minutes now. Go to the hospital, they confirm ruptured membranes and say I will be induced the next day. Luckily, Sweden has changed it's policy regarding inducing labor for women with ruptured membranes. When this happened with Michael they waited 3 days, but now they want to do it within 2 days, thank goodness. (In the U.S., policy is to do it within 24 hrs to avoid infection, which is why I felt the nurse who sort of snuffed my call was especially lame.) I feel disappointed that my body is not going into full-on labor on it's own and I will have to be induced - the same exact scenario for the second time in a row - but I am at least calm about it this time and feel relief to know that I will have my baby the next day. It feels good to know it will happen one way or another. As opposed to Michael's birth, this time I just try to relax as much as possible - not frantically trying every home method to get labor going. I know I will need my energy and peace!

Throughout Sunday night/monday morning: Contractions still irregular - 5 to 15 minutes apart. But getting stronger. I catch a few zzz's in between contractions, but that is a pretty messed up night of sleep! I break out my TENS unit (I loved it so much with my previous birth that I went out and bought my own this time) in the middle of the night to help me cope with the pain and it worked wonders for me! Love love love to the TENS.

Monday morning: Rob tells me what a bad night of sleep he had, "thanks to a certain someone who shall remain nameless". HA! I shed a few tears on his behalf and apologize profusely.

Monday lunchtime: I pick up the baby sitter. Rob and I head to the hospital. Rob has fun pretending it is an emergency and drives too fast. I feel like a lamb going to the slaughter. I feel less convicted about natural childbirth this time than I did with Michael - I've hardly thought about it this time around and just know I'm going to do it like I did last time. I remember the torture a little louder than I remember my convictions for taking it raw. But I don't want to think it through again, I just want to do it the way I know how. I trust that I had the right reasons with my first birth, although I forget what they were as I deal with the pain.

Noon: arrive at hospital. Wait around foooooorever till a midwife comes to check me. Around 2:00 I find out that I am actually dilated to 5 or 6 cm!!! Contractions still irregular - 5 to 10 minutes apart - but the midwife says I won't need pitocin. WAHOO! She decides to give my membranes a bigger rupture to help move things along (although for some reason they don't get around to that until about 4:00.)

Afternoon: A midwife walks in as Rob is giving me a demonstration on birthing positions and the faces to make to help with giving birth. My laughter may have induced labor as much as the midwife puncturing the membranes.

Late afternoon/early evening: Rob tries to make a joke, and I inform him that NOTHING is funny anymore. I am in the SERIOUS throws of labor now and must be in my zone even between contractions because I have such intense back pain. It feels like my lower backbone is breaking. The back pain is so intense that I don't even feel the contractions in the front at all. In fact, I don't even feel my uterus contracting - I just know a contraction is coming because it feels like my back is breaking even more. The pain stays even once the contraction is over, it is just a little less intense. Still loving my TENS although it isn't as helpful now. Loving the music mix I made for labor.

The midwife's helper, like the student aide or whatever - is totally nice and trying to help but driving me batty. She keeps asking the same questions that HELLO, I ALREADY ANSWERED and suddenly I totally understand the Toby character on The Office. She is my Toby. My disdain is totally unfounded but real. Why should it bother me to have someone ask me if there is anything she can get me and bring me sandwiches and drinks and hot packs? She was totally nice and yet I wanted her to get lost. I warmed up to her once the birth was over and we had some good conversations and I mentally apologized.

Around 6:00, maybe?: At one point, I feel a hormone shift and start trembling. I give the TENS unit the boot - it can't even put a dent in dealing with the pain now. Before labor, when I tested it, an intensity of 20 was the most I could take. I had it cranked up to 37. At that point, it was sending my back into an arch and still not helping me deal with the pain so it became a little counter-productive.

I feel like I will puke, but I don't. I know I am in the transition phase - the most awful, difficult to deal with part of labor. Perhaps pushing and delivery is more actual pain, but you don't have to sit there and try to relax through it. My whole body keeps getting the shakes. I start feeling the urge to push. The midwife says I still have a little to dilate still before I ought to push, so I try to relax through the contractions. But finally, I get this contraction that possesses my body like a demon. My whole body pushes and writhes and mocks me for telling it to relax. It was absolutely agonizing. In my mind, the scene was like something from a horror movie, but Rob says he couldn't tell anything like that was going on. Luckily, the midwife checked me immediately after and said I was totally dilated then. She said to just listen to my body from then on - push if I had to, but relax if I could. Amazingly, the next several contractions let up on me a bit and I was able to not push. This was good and I think allowed me to stretch more gradually so that I didn't tear too much. Finally, my body became possessed again by the pushing demons, and it only took a few contractions - good looong contractions with multiple pushes - until I felt the "ring of fire" that made me want to rip my own head off. In heavy breaths I asked WHAT! IS! THAT!? and the reply was "the head!" and I was like, Okay, then I can end this. Pushed with every fiber of my body. Gave one unintentional scream - the moment that is truly unbearable to continue and makes me scream is the moment the baby is born.

7:08 pm: Out she came. I could not believe it was over just like that. There she was. It is so unbelievable. I exclaimed over and over "my baby, my baby, my baby..." There she was beneath me. She cried the second she was out. I was on my knees for birth, and this time the nurses thought to bring her toward me instead of out toward them - so I actually got to see her with the cord still there. I was a lot more with it this time than I was with Michael and although I was shaking, it was manageable enough this time that I could hold her right away. Rob cut the cord. It helped that I could focus on her as I had to deliver the placenta and get stitched up (only one stitch this time, yay!) - a good distraction from even more pain. She was a model nurser from the very first latch. I had plenty of time to just stare at her every feature while she nursed and run through a gamut of emotions. Childbirth is truly the most amazing, profound experience...anything short of that would not be fair, considering it is also the most excruciatingly painful. I suppose I could make a nice analogy of it to parenthood in general - sacrifices and trouble that only the pure joy and love of a child could outweigh. I'm so in love with my little Ella girl!


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