HIGH // LOW // THANKFUL

April 18, 2014

maxwangerfeet

image via

I should probably just give up the idea of a successful weekly series entirely because, let’s be honest, consistency is not exactly a strength of mine. It’s not even consistently a weakness of mine, that’s how bad I am at being consistent. It should have been no surprise that I missed the second installment of HLT, is what I’m saying. The first is here, in case you missed it.

HIGH: I wore my engagement ring on my middle finger for over six weeks because I couldn’t bear to part with it long enough for it to be sized. I finally shipped it back to its maker earlier this month, and practically hugged the UPS guy when he brought it safely back to me this week. I can’t stop looking at my left hand, that’s how pretty it is.

LOW: We made secret plans for a quick getaway to the desert, involving live music and a fancy hotel, which we were forced to abandon at the last minute. Sadface.

THANKFUL: To the good people of El Indio I say muchos gracias for having fed my family no fewer than five times this past week. I’ve never met a potato taco I didn’t like, but theirs is my favorite. Also, tamales. And buñuelos!

We’ve got company visiting from out-of-state this weekend, which means there is lots of good food and a trip to the beach in my near future, but which also means I’d better do something about my bedroom. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one incapable of keeping a nightstand organized, oy vey iz mir.

TWO

April 17, 2014

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I’m going to be come right out and say it, the second month was hard. Weeks on end of irregular and interrupted sleep wreaked havoc on my nervous system, and it manifested as good old fashioned anxiety with a smattering of depression. Also, high blood pressure and I never have high blood pressure. Except for that one time during labor, and this is where I tell you that the birth story, and all of its gory – literally, gory – details, is forthcoming, but that it might take me a while. I mean, it only took me ten years to write the story of my first birth! But I digress!

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Week Seven just about knocked me flat on my back, and I spent all day, every day in bed. This baby of mine, he needs me. Needs me in a way my other two never really did, those two have always been so independent and extroverted. Not this baby. He wants to be held all of the time, and eat all of the time, and to quietly observe our family while perched upon either his father’s shoulder, or mine. He missed out on an entire month of time in utero, it makes perfect sense as to why he wants to spend so much time snuggled up to one of us, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It does, however, make it necessary, which is why I had to make the difficult decision to extend my maternity leave until the Fall.

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Ugh! The guilt! Once I finally accepted that as much as I want to, I can’t actually do everything – including being a handwork teacher while carrying an infant – I got a little bit excited about getting to spend these next few months at home.

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This tiny guy, well, he’s not so tiny these days. In fact, he officially grown out of his preemie clothes and is fitting nicely into the newborn size. We’ve used an Honest Co. diaper bundle this last month, and we’re going to continue for another month, but in the next size up. And because he’s eating and growing as well as he is, we’re actually starting to get a little sleep around here, about four to five solid hours at least once a night. Life changing.

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He’s still not the most interested in people or things, but he has started to discover his voice and the sounds he makes are a cross between Gizmo, deflating balloons, and choirs of angels. Just perfect.

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Adjusting to life with a new baby is accepting that everything is in constant transition, this is as true for the first time as it is for the third. There are just more variables, like school days and baseball practice, which only add to the chaos. But it’s all chaos, so what’s the difference? We’re figuring it out as we go, one day at a time, and so far, we’re doing pretty darn well. We hit the ground sprinting, and are just starting to find a more comfortable pace.

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Oh Huckle, my Huckle! I knew you were going to be a cute baby, but the cutest baby? You are the spitting image of your father when he was a baby, and aren’t you lucky because he is one handsome fellow. In the night, when you are hungry, you whimper so sweetly that I can’t help but be happy to scoop you up into my arms and give you milk, your favorite thing on Earth. I’m lucky to be the one who gets to nourish and sustain you, and those moments are some of my most favorite. You have made the most perfect addition to our family, even better than the bunny I wanted. I mean, I still want the bunny, but now the bunny will be for you! When we get the bunny, that is. Maybe next Easter, wink wink?

EIGHT WEEKS

April 15, 2014

helloroux

holding my huckleberry for the first time, 36 hours after he was born

The thing I can’t wrap my head around is that some women actually choose to have their babies delivered by C-section. For me, that was never even a consideration. I skipped over all the chapters – even in Spiritual Midwifery there are chapters – pertaining to hospital deliveries, and almost especially I did not read about surgical deliveries and or recovery therefrom. Why would I? I was giving birth at home.

Up until a few hours before my baby was born, I had been exclusively cared for by midwives during the course of my pregnancy, with the exception of one initial prenatal visit with my beloved OB in Los Angeles. And this being my first non-obstetrical pregnancy and therefore my first experience as a patient of midwifery, I had little reference by way of either expectation or practice. So I went with it, and since everything seemed fine, I didn’t ask too many questions.

To be honest, I really loved, and still do, the idea of compassionate birthing. Being a person of strong physical constitution, and also one that vehemently believes in the natural abilities of the body, it was very easy for me to accept the idea that biology know best, especially in the case of mothers growing babies. Plus, I’d already had two relatively healthy pregnancies and did not expect for this one to be any different.

In many ways, this pregnancy was similar to my others in that I was blindingly nauseated for months on end. But it stood out to me mostly because I was so aware of, and so grateful for, being pregnant. In spite of how awful I felt all of the time, I loved every second of carrying a little baby in my belly. And I most certainly was not ready for it to be over, and so suddenly.

It’s been eight weeks since my tiny guy was born the only way he was able to be, through emergency surgery. I walked into a hospital with a question, and did not leave until five days later, after what was easily the most emotionally intense experience of my entire life. I had absolutely no intention of giving birth within the walls of a hospital, and yet without a hospital and a highly skilled team of doctors and nurses, my baby would not be alive. In a matter of minutes, I faced one of my biggest fears without even the slightest bit of advanced preparation. And little by little, I’m getting through it.

At my six week check-up, my doctor (I sort of adopted the physician that helped me through my labor, more on that later) informed me of a condition I developed during pregnancy that is the primary cause of stillbirths. There are a variety of reasons as to why this particular condition can arise, including the baby compressing his own umbilical cord for a period of time, and both the baby and I will have tests over the next several months to rule out any serious complications.

The good news is that, for the most part, we are both doing really well. That baby of mine is fattening up rather nicely, and all thanks to my boobs, which is quite an accomplishment when it comes to premature infants. He’s starting to coo, and I’ve spotted a few smiles peeking around the corners of his sweet little mouth.

We are both, however, still rather sensitive. The baby, well. The baby wants to be held. Which makes perfect sense given the shocking and most traumatic way in which he entered the world, but which also means I don’t get much else done other than nursing and cuddling a baby. Also, sleep. We have not yet established our rhythm, meaning I’m pretty sure we’re both totally exhausted.

As for me? I can’t touch my scar without crying, and from a conflicted place of deep sadness and profound gratitude. It is not a pretty wound; it very clearly illustrates the urgency of the situation. I experience consistent, throbbing pain throughout my lower abdomen, which I’m told can last for an entire year. I’ve yet to wear anything with a waistband. And I’m constantly leaking breastmilk.

In reality, I still haven’t completely processed what happened the night I delivered a baby over a month early, while strapped to a gurney, completely knocked out from general anesthesia, and in front of at least a dozen people I had never met. I’m not sure I ever will. The truth is, I’ve learned a lot more about myself from this than I would have from a home birth, including my ability to handle devastation with grace. I discovered strength I didn’t even think I had, and I felt loved and cared for completely. As the days pass, I still feel those things. But they’re joined with feelings of grief as I mourn the loss of the birth I wanted.

Ultimately, I did not get pregnant so that I could have a home birth. I got pregnant so that I could have a healthy baby, and that is exactly what I have. An extremely cute one, to boot. And as much as I’ve yet to recover from the circumstances of his birth, I’d do it all again this moment just to bring him into the world. Because truly, he is a miracle.

HIGH // LOW // THANKFUL

April 4, 2014

ourbabyroux

photo by jamie street

I’m not exactly sure where the rest of March went, but I’m pretty certain most of it was spent nursing? It definitely wasn’t spent sleeping. Or cleaning, ahem. But it most definitely was spent cuddling a certain scrumptious baby who, by the way, is a whole fifty percent bigger than he was at birth. Meaning, he’s a solid six and a half pounds, which doesn’t sound like much, but I assure you. He is b-i-g.

So, April! A new month – and a new season – calls for a new series. We’ve had a tradition in our home for the last several years, one that began as a way to engage the kids in meaningful discussions around the dinner table, in which we each declare our highest, lowest, and most thankful moment for that day. I thought it might be fun, on a weekly basis, to bring that same idea to this space….

HIGH: Without a doubt, the highlight of this week was when my tiny guy told me his very first story. To be fair, he didn’t tell me, he told my friend Kelli. But I was there! And it was precious.

LOW: I received a certain, and most unexpected, electronic correspondence on Tuesday. I’ve been wrestling with how to respond all week, and it is only after much meditation and a good ol’ fashioned gabfest with a couple girlfriends that I was finally able to gain a little perspective and therefore at least begin to be able to address such an offensive message.

THANKFUL: I am always grateful for the wonderful man in my life, the one who loves me and cares for me in a way that no other person ever has. But this week, specifically, I’m beyond thankful for his continued support in all of my random – and sometimes entirely harebrained – creative endeavors. That being said, I’m pretty sure what I’ve got cooking is chock full of potential, but my point is that without him, I’d never be able to entertain any of these wacky ideas that occupy my brain. Also, he’s the best dad ever, so there’s that.

We’ve got a few exciting things happening over the next few weeks, including a visit from Babe’s sister, and a quick trip to the desert to catch one of our favorite bands. But mostly, our days will be spent soaking up every last second of this blissful, hazy newborn phase. All the sleep in the world couldn’t compare to the sweetness of the past six weeks. I may be exhausted and a bit out of sorts, but I’m ridiculously happy and in love with this cute little family of mine.

ONE

March 17, 2014

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And just like that, the first month of his life has passed. And what a month it was, full of surprises and challenges and so much love. The kind of month that changes you in such a way that you can barely remember what it was like before.

To celebrate this milestone, we gave our tiny guy his very first bath. And let me tell you, he was not impressed with the gesture.

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He was really upset about being wet.

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Turns out, there aren’t many things that make my Huckleberry friend angry, but diaper changes and baths are at the very top of the list.

He’s a remarkably peaceful baby, generally content and easily soothed. Of course, he loves his mama’s arms most of all, followed closely by daddy’s chest. He is always happy to be worn, skin to skin, in my Solly Baby Wrap, and has his very own cozy spot in nearly every room of our home. In fact, he’s napping in his wooly-lined Moses basket right next to me as I type this, all bundled and smelling fresh.

Because he’s still so small, our main task is to get his weight up, which means we’re on a strict feeding regimen. He and I spend a lot of time together learning our nursing habits, which is fine by me because nursing a baby is one of my most favorite things in life, ever. We had our first bottle-free day today, a huge success in the world of premature infant nutrition. Tomorrow, we’ll see his pediatrician – a young doctor who was present at his birth – for our fifth (yes, fifth) weight check since being discharged from the NICU. Fingers crossed we’re over five pounds!

Life with a brand new baby is a lot of things, and not all of them easy. But life with this brand new baby is nothing if not spectacular.

Oh, Roux Huckleberry! Thank you for choosing our family, for bringing your sweet spirit and positive energy into our home, and for being so darn cute. Everything is better because of you. We love you so.