Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chloë's first Christmas

We spent Chloë's first Christmas in Seattle with my parents. She turns out to be an excellent traveler. She had no problems with her ears, even on the flights back when she had a cold (which is better than I did); she loved walking through the airport, riding in the carrier and watching the lights and the people; she was able to sleep most of the way out and part of the way back. We connected through Dallas on the way out, and through Chicago on the way back, and got caught in the Chicago traffic jam--we left Seattle three hours late and arrived to a canceled flight, couldn’t get on standby or another flight until the next day, and ended up spending the night in a hotel without our luggage. Except for kicking off her socks in protest when we tried to get her to sleep (at nearly midnight, Central time) in the hotel crib, she even adapted well to that.

She had a great week with her grandparents. I hardly saw her at all except to feed her and put her to bed, but she was happy to introduce them to her ways and accept their adoration. She was introduced to aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, and carrots, and loved them all. She got so much stuff Mom and Dad are having to ship most of it back to us (plus Aunt Kris packed her present in a mailer box, which was pretty awesome). A year ago we had no baby stuff. Now we've got more baby stuff than almost anything else. There are teethers, balls, rattles dolls, toys that sing, squishy books for the bathtub, soft books for chewing, hard books for reading.

We had Snyder family Christmas the day we got back, and except for sleeping through most of it (due to having gotten only about six hours' sleep that night and another couple on the plane and in the car, which wasn’t nearly enough) she did well there, too. She certainly got plenty of loot, including an exersaucer, which is good because she's almost outgrown her swing.

Yesterday we finally had our nuclear-family Christmas. Her gifts from us were a stuffed dog which she opened herself (with help), a pendant with her birthstone, and a Christmas ornament. She got four other ornaments so this last wasn't exactly necessary, but it was important to me--my parents gave my brother and me an ornament every year to help out with our trees when we moved out, and I want to do the same for my children.

So Christmas number one was a success. Now we've got to teach her certain pieces of etiquette, such as thank-you letters, but her penmanship isn't the best so those probably won't go out very promptly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Careful what you wish for

We lay in bed the other morning, Chloe gnawing on my cheek (everything goes into the mouth nowadays). "Are you giving me a kiss?" I asked her, and pulled her off, making a sucking noise. She looked delighted. "I'll give you a kiss!" I said, and planted a loud one on her cheek.

She looked even more delighted, and went back to sucking on my cheek. "Everything goes in the mouth," Eric remarked.

"I wonder why my cheek," I said. "Instead of something pointier, like my chin or my nose."

She pulled off and lunged for my chin.

We're headed for Seattle this afternoon. It'll be Chloe's first plane flight, and I'm hoping she takes after her mom and not her dad when it comes to flying. She'll be wearing her "Going to Grandma's" onesie (at least until she spits up on it) and her Santa hat, ready to charm the Shafer side of her family as she's charmed the Snyder side. Watch out, Shafers. The overlord is coming to conquer you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chloë's birth story, part 2

One of Chloë's loyal minions pointed out a couple weeks ago that I never actually posted the rest of the birth story. Apparently I completely forgot about it. I meant to post. Maybe I just wanted to forget. Anyway, here's part two. If you recall, Eric and I had arrived at the hospital at around ten after my water broke, had been checked in, and had tried to settle down for a nap before the action started...

...At around two AM, having gotten about forty minutes' sleep, I woke up to see Sandy (the midwife) and Stephanie (the nurse) standing there. "You need to get this labor going or we're going to have to start you on Pitocin," Sandy said.

She left, and we pointed out to Stephanie that I wanted to walk to get the labor going, but couldn't while hooked up to the monitors. "Well..." she said. "I know we have a portable monitor that you can wear, but I'm not sure I can give it to you..." She hemmed and hawed and finally decided, "Let me see how far along you are. I'm sure the midwife won't mind."

So she examined me, which was very wet and uncomfortable ("the amniotic fluid keeps on being made," she explained, "so it's just going to keep on leaking"), and pronounced me one to two centimeters dilated. Based on this, she gave me the portable monitor and let me walk.

So we walked. Up the hallway to the big window, down the hallway past the nurses' station to the little kitchenette. Up, down, up, down. For hours. I looked at the security monitor each time we passed, knowing it wouldn't show me anything interesting, but unable not to look anyway. I pointed at the scale in a little alcove and said "Ha!" because at my last checkup I'd been 199.5 lbs and had been depressed about going over 200, but now I wouldn't be weighed until after the baby was born. Eric calculated how much we had walked. We talked. For hours.

At first the contractions were barely noticeable. Then they were noticeable but not bothersome, so I'd tell Eric when one started and when one stopped, and he'd time it. I was averaging about one every five or six minutes, I think, when they started hurting enough that I would stop walking each time one began. Sandy said later, "That was the first time I saw you without a smile. So I knew that this was serious."

A little after six AM, a new nurse caught us and introduced herself as Shannon, saying she would be Stephanie's replacement. Not long after, it was time for my next dose of antibiotics. (I'd tested Group B Strep positive, which meant that while I was asymptomatic the baby might catch it, which could be serious, so I got a hep lock for antibiotics every four hours.) Sandy met us there. She looked at the readouts and was pleased at my progress. I sat in a little rocking chair that squeaked, rocking each time a contraction started. The conversation occurred in fits and starts around the contractions. "I'm unhappy that the nurse examined you, because since your water broke we don't want to look down there too often, because of the chance of introducing infection," she said. "But I think we can do without the Pitocin if you keep on progressing like this. Amy will be taking over for me soon, and I'm not going to examine you because she'll want to, but you're looking good."

Things were hurting enough and the contractions were close enough together at this point that I decided walking was over and we'd stay in the room. I was allowed to stay off the monitor and off the bed; they just needed to check the heartbeat and my temperature every half hour, and come back every four for my antibiotics. Shannon offered a birthing ball, a beanbag chair, the Jacuzzi, and I accepted the birthing ball. It's a big bouncy ball, and you sit on it, rocking or bouncing, whatever feels right. That worked for a while. Things got a little worse. I asked Eric to press on my lower back whenever a contraction started, and that worked for a while. Then I told Eric and Shannon, "I want something to pull on," so Eric knotted a blanket around the rail of the bed and I pulled on that. I tried getting on my hands and knees. I tried the ball again.

"I think I'd like to try the Jacuzzi," I said eventually.

"I'm already getting it filled up," Shannon said.

Amy came in to see me when she came on shift. I was about four centimeters dilated, she said, and I was disappointed, but glad that the threat of Pitocin hadn't intensified. "Where are you feeling the contractions?" she said, and I indicated two lines in front of my pelvis, like a V. "In the back or the front?" she said, and I said, "In the front."

I also wanted to know if the Jacuzzi was okay since my water had broken. "It should be fine," she said. "I'm a big fan of water births. We can't do that here, but you can be in the Jacuzzi while you're laboring."

The hot water felt wonderful, but it didn't actually help the pain. I tried a few positions there and then gave up. I also gave up my hospital gown at this point; I was hot and uncomfortable and didn't care what anyone could see, and it just got in the way when they put the monitor on and the IV in.

Sometime in here, Shannon came in with another woman, whose name I have forgotten but will call Martha. "Martha's a tech," she said (without explaining what a tech actually is, on the maternity ward), "and wanted to know if she could observe your labor. She's never seen anyone actually try to go natural before. Usually everyone just gets epidurals." I said of course. Later I wondered uneasily about all those women with epidurals and how good the soundproofing was, because the pain kept on growing, and I started making noises, groaning as they'd suggested in childbirth class, then something halfway between crying and screaming. It was mid-morning, and I was tired and hurting and growing less willing to change positions, but Shannon and Eric kept after me to do so. Eric was fantastic. He never left me, never stopped encouraging me, and managed to be supportive and helpful without sounding like he was repeating what he'd been told in childbirth class or like he wanted to be anywhere but in this hospital room on no sleep and little food.

"You're handling this so well," he said.

"Is it okay if I stop being able to?" I said, because the pain was continuing to get worse, and the contractions longer and closer, and while I'd been able to tolerate them I knew I was getting to the point where I was no longer going to be able to do so.

"Yes," he said, and so I didn't feel so bad about wanting to cry in the middle of the contractions.

Sometime in there breakfast came, and I used the bathroom and tried standing for a few contractions, pulling down on Eric's shoulders. Amy came and went. I got more antibiotics. I was on my hands and knees on the bed when Amy asked if I wanted to be examined again, and I hesitated because I felt if I wasn't very far along I was going to be too disappointed to keep going (as if I'd be able to just stop). Another contraction hit, and Amy said helpfully, "I can examine you in the position you're in."

"Okay," I croaked, and she did so, but I didn't hear what the result was because another contraction came. I decided that if I was only at six or seven centimeters I was going to start asking about drugs--I still wasn't interested in an epidural, but Nubain was starting to sound good.

"Did you hear?" Eric said, and when I shook my head, "You're at eight to nine centimeters! You're almost there!"

Eight to nine, I thought. I'm almost there. Then it won't be much longer and I won't need medication. That was at around noon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Maybe you should have asked for coal...

Evil Santa is here to steal your presents...

But thankfully the good Santa is here too. (Thank you Santa Tom!)

More pictures posted on Eric's Facebook.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bringing the R.I.N.D.S. backup system online

Chloe has graduated Rice Academy and moved on to Oat High. Last weekend she suddenly seemed to understand how to eat; she swallowed the food, then gulped it greedily and reached for the spoon. We gave her another couple of days with rice cereal, and now she's on oatmeal. We figure once she's past the oatmeal gauntlet, it's time to start vegetables and fruits.

This is good, because I went to daycare at lunch today (as I usually do) and Miss Mindy told me that Chloe had already had two bottles. "I’m really sorry," she said. "But she was screaming and screaming. And after her first one she was already screaming, like she hadn't had enough. She cried herself to sleep."

"She's a growing girl. Maybe four ounces isn't enough," said Miss Linda, who was nearby.

"She's at four and a half," I replied, because it's annoyed me that they always write "4 oz" on the daily sheet, even when they tell me she drained her bottle, or that she left an ounce.

"Have you considered cereal?" she suggested. "Just a spoonful twice a day?"

"We're already doing that," I said, then realized she meant in the bottles. We've been told not to do this, and now that she's working on cereal by the spoonful it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Also I don't know why adding cereal would be better than just adding more milk. Also I resent the implication that we've been starving her for weeks. She's been at daycare having these same bottles for the past few weeks and done just fine with them. And yes, she's a growing girl (16 pounds 4 ounces and 25 inches as of Monday's checkup), so eventually she'd outgrow this size, but we don't feed her bottles at home so how would we know today was the day to move her up?

(Actually, I guess I can excuse that. They're not used to having a breastfed baby; their other two get formula, and one gets a bottle as thick with cereal as they can make it per his mother's request. It probably doesn't occur to them that I wouldn't know how big a bottle she needs day by day.)

So she'll start getting five ounces, and starting next week we should be able to send along some jars of baby food in case the bottles aren't enough. Getting her on solids was already making me excited, and now I'm doubly pleased. Moving up to five ounces means the R.I.N.D.S. need to go back into training--I've been keeping up with her daily daycare feedings by pumping, but just barely, and we've been using the occasional bottle from the frozen stash. I had stopped pumping after every feeding at home, which has been lovely, but it looks like the break is over until production has increased. (The beatings shall continue until morale improves.) So having solids as a second food supply will be a good thing.