Friday, January 31, 2014

The birth that proved I could trust myself

I can’t believe it’s already been three and a half months, but I’m finally sharing my birth story.  It will be ridiculously long…just so you know. 

Months before my due date, I had a “feeling” about October 17th.  Such a strong feeling, in fact, that I even told my husband about it.  “This is probably silly,” I said, “but I just feel good about October 17th for the baby to come. We’ll get there, and it will come and go and have meant nothing.  But, you know, maybe.”

The week of my due date, my mom decided to come over to visit.  She lives about a four-hour drive away.  “If you haven’t had the baby by Wednesday,” she said, “I’ll take Little Spaghetti, and we can go back home and give you guys a day to yourselves.”  My heart dropped.  That meant he’d be gone Thursday.  October 17th.  What if the baby really did come that day?  He’d miss it. 

Wait a minute. He’d miss it? Miss what? Watching me be in labor?  On second thought, that sounded like a perfect idea.  

But what if I didn’t spend my last day as a mom of one with him? Well, I’d had three and a half years for it to be just me and him.  If I hadn’t made the best of my time with him, one more day wasn’t going to change anything.  

Monday morning – the day my mom was to arrive – about 2 a.m., I started having contractions.  I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks, but these were definitely different.  They came every 8-10 minutes, and after about 2 hours, they were more like every 5-7 minutes.  “This is it!” I thought. “Today is going to be the day.”  

And then they stopped. 

Later that day, I went to the OB for my 40-week check-up.  He said my cervix looked the same as it had for weeks.  He stripped my membranes and sent me on my way.  That afternoon, my mom and I made "Put You Into Labor Eggplant Parmesan."  I’m not sure if eating this lasagna could put you into labor, but I think making it sure could. 

Tuesday morning, about 3 a.m., the contractions started up again.  Every 5-7 minutes.  “The lasagna worked! This is going to happen for sure now,” I thought.  Three hours later, when my husband got up for work, I told him I thought it might really be happening.  

And then they stopped. 

I tried to keep busy.  I googled “labor starting and stopping?” and ”does labor stop?” and “contractions start and stop, when will I have this baby.”  Everything I read told me I was having “false labor.”  Let me tell you, folks, that may be what they call it, but this labor was anything but false.

Wednesday morning, can you guess what happened? Boom, contractions, every 5 minutes starting at around 3 a.m.  And then, after a few hours, they stopped.  I was getting really discouraged by this point.   

“Why can’t I just go into labor???”  All this false labor bullshit sucked.  I tried to tell myself that the contractions had to be doing something.  I whined to the Blogger Idol contestants group (who happened to be having a contest to see who could guess when I’d actually have this baby).  A couple of women there were very reassuring. “I had labor on and off for days, but then when it really happened, it went so fast.  Until then, it was horrible, though. The waiting. The starting and stopping.”

My mom took Little Spaghetti home with her later that day, and my husband and I went out for pizza that night.  If nothing else, I was going to enjoy my last day to not haul any kids around.

Thursday morning, about 4 a.m., the contractions came back.  This was old news by this point, so I tried to go back to sleep.  My husband woke up with his alarm clock and told me he was going to stay home from work because he was getting a cold.  We both went back to bed, and I think I dozed on and off.  

A few hours later, the contractions weren’t stopping, and it was getting harder and harder to lie down through them.  I got up to move and walk.  Or sit on the yoga ball. Or something.  Some positions helped the pain; others made it much worse.  I’d get myself in a position and be afraid to move in case I got caught somewhere that made me much more uncomfortable.  When I did, I’d just buckle down and breathe through my contraction until it was over and I could get into a position I knew would hurt less. 

About 8:00 or so that morning, I decided to get in the bathtub.  That felt so much better.  The contractions were still intense and still coming every five minutes or so.  

That was the strangest time, for me.  I’d be in incredibly intense pain for thirty seconds or so.  Rocking in the water and moaning through the pain.  And then it would just be gone.  And I’d feel totally normal for another four minutes or so until the pain came back. During those in-between times, we’d laugh and joke about things.  My husband had brought a laptop into the bathroom so we could watch TV.  We were blowing through the whole season of Master Chef Junior.

At one point, I said to him, “I think I’m in labor, but this can’t possibly be it, right? I mean, I feel totally fine between the contractions.  It’s actually sort of boring.”

I felt hungry after a couple hours and decided that Jello was the only thing that sounded good.  “I’ll go get a couple boxes,” Mr. Engineer said.

“Boxes??” I said, “Who are you kidding? What are we gonna do – boil water and wait for it to set up in the fridge? I think we’ll have a baby before it’d be ready to eat.”  Pre-made Jello from the dairy case it was.  Red and orange.  They both tasted phenomenal.

About noon, I was really starting to feel like we might want to head to the hospital.  I was getting anxious and excited that we were finally going to meet our little girl.  My mind started racing, thinking of the things we should gather up and get in the car.  Eight hours of contractions every five minutes seemed like it had to be going in the right direction.  I decided to get out of the tub and walk around to see if I could move things along.  I texted my doula to let her know that I thought I might be getting close, as she had a two-hour drive ahead of her to get to me.

I went out to the living room to sit on the exercise ball.  The contractions didn’t seem to be coming as often.   I started timing them again.  7 minutes apart.  Then 8. Then 9. 

And then, they stopped.

Tomorrow: birth story, part 2!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Warm and Fuzzy {Free Printables}

So, it's almost Valentine's Day.  I never cared too much about Valentine's Day.  I mean, it's nice to celebrate those you love. And it's nice to get a sweet surprise.  But it's never been one of my favorite holidays or anything.

Until last year when I realized just how much fun it is to make your little boy give valentines to grown women.  Actually, there was very little making involved; Little Spaghetti was super into it.  I think he had a lot of fun with it.

It seemed to totally make people's day, too.  You should have seen him melt all those ladies' hearts.  Except the one librarian to whom he said, "No! There are none of these for you!" while he handed them out to every other librarian. 

Thankfully, he reconsidered about thirty seconds later and gave her one after all.

My favorite part is when we go visit people on our weekly outings, and there are a couple of them that still have his valentines hanging up by their desks almost a year later.  Which is also, sadly, when I'm finally getting around to blogging about them. 

But...Valentine's Day is coming up again, so I figured I might as well share our cute little fuzzy valentine guys from last year.

Aren't they cute? And fuzzy?

It's pretty much just a yarn pom pom (see this page for a tutorial on making yarn pom poms if you don't know how).  Then I glued on a foam heart at the bottom for feet, some googly eyes, and the antennae, which are just little pipe cleaners with glittery foam hearts.

Little Spaghetti had so much fun helping me make them that he asks me to make them on at least a monthly basis. We have a lot of warm fuzzies around our house these days.

I used some double sided tape to stick the little guys (or gals?) to the valentines...which I'm posting here as a free printable so you can make your own if you feel so inclined. Easy, cheap, and cute; that's my kind of project.

(download the .pdf file here)

Anyway, Little Spaghetti has a fondness for things with eyes, so the project we've picked for this year's valentines will also feature a little smiling creature.  Stay tuned.  Maybe I'll blog about it before the next year goes by...

Friday, January 24, 2014

My week in pictures

Because I don't have time for words. Yet. But soon. 

I'm finally getting the hang of being mom of two. I think. I'm sure that will fall apart tomorrow. 

At least I remember to take pictures.

(No, these are not for Spaghettini. And, also no, I'm not pregnant again and planning for a little boy. These were projects for a friend's nautical-themed baby shower.)
This face!
We have rolling.
Oh, my poor, sad boots. They were my favorite.
Mobile = 5 minutes of mommy time.

And that's why I have no time for words. But I love it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Two Months old. And my mom-of-a-newborn advice.

Holy where has the time gone?  I feel like I have so much posting to catch up on, but the holidays just suck the time away.  In a good way, though. Is it even possible for something to suck in a good way?

Spaghettini is getting so, so big! Well, not really. I mean, she still only weighs like 11 pounds.  But some days I feel like she's getting so, so big.  Her brother was two pounds bigger than she was at 2 months.  I'm not complaining about that, though.  I don't mind if she stays my little peanut for a while.  She's got lots of time to be big.

Anyway, she's actually almost three months old at this point, but I figured I'd share her photos from a couple weeks ago. And maybe some Christmas photos.  Then I'll feel all caught up, and I can start blogging regularly about everyday life again.  Maybe.  Hopefully.

 That's not a joke about Miley Cyrus. It's the truth, people.  There was a time when we would blast "Wrecking Ball" on repeat for hours to keep this kid from crying.  At least, it felt like hours.  I discovered her Miley fascination one day in the car when she was crying non-stop (because she hated her car seat). The song came on the radio, and she was quiet.

The next time we were at home and she started to melt down, I decided to give it a try, though I knew it was probably just a coincidence.  Sure enough, as soon as she heard Miley's voice, Spaghettini stopped crying.  It worked almost every time.

One day, we were driving to visit my parents, and I had to pick my husband up in a town about an hour away.  So it was just me and the baby in the car.  She started crying (because, as I mentioned, she hated her car seat).  I turned on the radio in hopes that some music would help, but had no luck.  After a little while we were out of the service area for the radio stations (it happens more than you might think when you're in the middle of the desert driving across Nevada), so we were listening to radio static (and baby screaming).

I went to pass a semi-truck, and all the sudden, "Wrecking Ball" broke through on the radio.  And she stopped crying.  For about ten seconds until it faded back into static as we moved away from the truck.  I'm still convinced that the trucker was listening to the song on some radio tuner that I picked up, and I seriously considered flagging him down and asking him if he could play the song on repeat and let me drive next to him for the next 70 miles or so.

 But the long bouts of crying are (almost) a distant memory now.  Replaced by this happy face. Who can get mad at a face like that?

I sure can't.

Now, my favorite part of this post: My completely unsolicited advice for newborn moms.  For the record, the only advice I usually give people is not to listen to other people's advice (especially when it's unsolicited).  So, you can feel free to take it or leave it, but here it is.

1. I think it's true that you never really can be prepared for a baby (especially a first baby), so I'm a firm believer in "you'll figure it out as you go."  With the exception of one thing, and that thing is: Eating with your left hand.  (Or your right hand if you're left-handed).  Seriously,  I think this is something that you can only get good at with practice, and it's a much better idea to practice at your leisure before the baby comes than trying to get good at it while you're starving and trying to hold a crying baby or nurse your newborn.  For real, your belly will thank you (or me...).

2. It's perfectly ok to do things you said you'd never do and to not do things you said you would.  You shouldn't beat yourself up for changing your mind (even if you change your mind on every single aspect of parenting).  It doesn't make you a bad mom (or dad).  In fact, I think it makes you a good one: you listen to what your baby (and you) need, and you adjust for it.  Besides, there will be plenty of outside influence that makes you feel like you're screwing everything up, you don't need to add to it by making yourself feel bad.

3. There are no stupid questions.  I had done this once before, so you'd think I'd have the basics down.  But I came home from the hospital and for about four days, I couldn't even answer one very simple question: Where do I put the baby? Seriously, where do I set her down?  Everything seemed like a death trap or something.  No surface seemed suitable.  Today, I can obviously very easily answer that question, but at the time I was totally stumped.  I'm going to blame the hormones for this.

4. Find someone who will tell you that you're doing a great job.  If you start to get frazzled or you start to question your decisions and feel like you're surely ruining your child for the rest her life and you've only had her home for three days, make sure you've got somebody on standby to tell you you're doing a great job.  Sometimes all it takes is hearing it from someone else to get you believing it again.

And now, some more photos.  You haven't seen Little Spaghetti in a while, so I don't want to leave him out!