Alden’s Birth Story

For quite awhile, I had been predicting our baby would be born sometime between February 14th and 18th. Of course, the weekend of the 14th-16th was a holiday weekend and the one weekend when both our doctor and our doula were scheduled to be out of town. Come Friday the 13th, there were no signs that baby planned on coming anytime soon, so both doctor and doula headed out of town. Zach implemented a bed rest order for me for the weekend (we didn’t want to take any chances!) and set up a TV and DVD player in the bedroom for me. I thoroughly enjoyed two days of lying in bed, watching movies, reading books, and catching up on much needed rest. I was still finishing up a fifteen-day long prescription of antibiotics for the sinus infection I’d been fighting since Thanksgiving, and my energy reserves were in desperate need of replenishing.

Alden Zachariah

On Monday morning, around 3:30am, I had a dream I was in labor. In my dream, the contractions had just increased in frequency and I told Zach it was time to start calling people. Then I was awakened by a real contraction that felt just like the ones in my dream. I tried to go back to sleep for a little while, but couldn’t get comfortable and intermittently would have another contraction. These contractions were definitely “real;” somewhat painful with a lot of pressure behind them. I got up and ate a snack, timing the contractions. They were about every fifteen minutes. Around 5am, when the contractions were every eight minutes or so, I finally woke Zach and told him what was going on. He called my mom and our backup doula to let them know this might be “the day” and I went to get a shower and shave my legs.

After a second breakfast, I headed back to bed to try and get some more rest. My dad arrived to help care for the girls in case we suddenly needed to leave for the hospital. Throughout the day I would experience an hour or two of strong, regular contractions – usually every ten or fifteen minutes – and then they would stop again for awhile. I tried to rest as much as possible, figuring we were in for the long haul. In the afternoon, Zach and I took a slow walk (ok, a waddle) around the block to see if it would help speed up anything. I didn’t have a single contraction.

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I had been lying in bed, trying to rest between the increasingly painful but still not regular contractions. I was feeling the need for some support and had called Zach in to be with me while my dad got dinner ready for the girls. He held my hand through several contractions and we talked about the baby we would be meeting soon. Around 5:15 pm we checked in with our backup doula and Zach let her know we didn’t think anything was going to happen very soon. Zach told her we’d probably be calling her in the middle of the night sometime. I was sitting on the edge of the bed, about to get up and join the dinner discussion, when I was suddenly hit by a very intense contraction. It was quite long and painful and then, suddenly, GUSH. My water broke! There was no doubt about it!  (Of course it would be on the bed!).

Zach helped me to the shower as I called out to my dad “Thundercats are GO!” Zach went to call back our doula (this was literally only ten minutes after he had told her that he didn’t think there would be any activity for hours to come). I stood in the shower, laughing with joy and surprise at the thought of my water breaking. I wasn’t laughing for long, however, as the contractions suddenly started hitting me fast and hard. Every 1-2 minutes they came, as I held onto the wall and breathed through them.

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After Zach helped me to get dried off and dressed, he then packed up the last few things we needed in our hospital bag as I paged the on-call doctor to let him know we were headed to triage. It was then, of course, that I realized I was really hungry. I knew they wouldn’t let me eat at the hospital and begged Zach to throw together a burrito for me from the leftovers in the fridge. (What I really wanted was the pizza we had discussed ordering, but clearly there was no time for that now). I also had the good sense to have Zach throw a towel over the seat of the car. What a funny ride to the hospital that was! Every minute or two I would clutch the overhead handle and groan and breathe my way through a painful contraction. As soon as it was over, I’d start stuffing bites of burrito into my mouth, chasing it with swigs of Cherry Coke and exclaiming how delicious it all was. As we drove over the I-5 ship canal bridge, Zach and I both were enthralled with the stunning Seattle sunset. It was gorgeous and seemed like a good omen. I told Zach that, for the first time, I felt like I was experiencing labor “the way it is meant to be.”

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Our backup doula met us as we were getting out of the car at the hospital. A kind person in scrubs who was clearly on her way home saw us in the lobby and brought over a wheelchair. We headed up to the too-familiar OB triage. Fetal monitors were placed on me and I was found to be four centimeters dilated already. I nearly cried with joy when they said that. With Eleanor it had taken me almost forty-eight hours of exhausting labor to get that far! We were then joined in triage by my mom and our primary doula, who had just gotten back into town. The nurses quickly got us admitted and we learned that we would have two nurses, as one of them was newly hired and still orienting to the unit. As if two doulas and two nurses wasn’t awesome enough, we then learned that our fabulous doctor was back in town and going to come in to deliver me, even though there was another doctor on-call for her throughout the night. So two doctors as well!

It was about 6:30 pm when I got admitted, and I spent the next three hours laboring away, mostly in the jacuzzi tub. I decided really quickly that I didn’t like the jets, but the warm water felt great. Zach had brought his swim shorts and was in the tub with me, holding and supporting me through the contractions. Both doulas were next to the tub and one would apply pressure to my hips, the other to my back with each contraction, as they coached my breathing. I remember having a thought of how, despite the insanely hard work of labor, I felt utterly pampered. Here were all these people, focused entirely on me and helping me in any way they could. I almost felt guilty!

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The contractions continued to come, with increasing intensity and frequency. A little after 9 pm I decided to get out of the tub and soon found myself doubled over the bed, clinging to Zach as I was hit with relentless waves of pain. Sometimes one contraction wouldn’t even finish before then next one would start, and I felt as if I couldn’t catch my breath. The pain was beyond anything I had expected or planned for and, quite frankly, more than I could continue to handle with each contraction coming immediately on the back of the one before it. I was sobbing and unable to breathe effectively, making the pain worse. I asked to be checked, thinking “if they tell me this is transition and I’m almost there, then I can do this.” When they told me I was still only at four centimeters I was devastated. I knew I couldn’t continue these back-to-back contractions for hours more, especially if they weren’t progressing me. I had reached a point where I realized two things: I don’t want to do this anymore and I don’t have to. 

I asked for an epidural, and relief was swiftly administered. (There is a special place in heaven for kind, competent anesthesiologists!). I then settled in for we all expected to be many more hours of labor, albeit blissfully pain free. My mom, Zach and our backup doula found places in the room to curl up and rest and I tried to sleep as well. I succeeded in resting, but was unable to fall asleep as I could still feel quite a bit of pressure with each contraction (although no pain). I felt quite cold and a bit shaky for awhile. I asked for some broth to appease my empty, growling stomach, but felt too nauseous to eat it when it came.

Just a little after midnight I told the nurses that I was feeling a lot of pressure down low. I didn’t yet feel the overwhelming urge to push, and didn’t really believe I could be that far along yet anyway. It was about then that I started shaking head-to-toe and vomiting. I was in transition. A short time later, they checked me and, sure enough, I was fully dilated. I asked if I could “labor down” with the epidural for awhile to lessen the time and effort of pushing later (something I had done when Eleanor was born) and the doctors readily agreed. By then it was about 12:30 am on Tuesday, February 17th.

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Around 1 am, baby’s heart rate rate suddenly started dropping from the 140’s down to the 80’s. They called my doctor in and put an oxygen mask on me. I didn’t miss the concern in my doctor’s face and the worry in her voice. As a nurse, I’ve seen and heard that before. It is the “there’s no emergency yet but there are signs there could be one really soon if we don’t fix this” look and voice. The nurse told me, “I think you’re going to need to start pushing baby out now.” I told her to just tell me exactly what she wanted me to do and when. I was talking to our baby, begging him to hang in there, telling him how close we were.

At 1:13 am, my doctor had me start pushing. I felt like I wasn’t pushing quite as strong as I wanted to, and was confused as to why. I figured it was the position I was in or the effect of the epidural but, in hindsight, it was probably because my doctor was having me push in between contractions, rather than during. It was something she said they wouldn’t do with someone who didn’t have an epidural. I think she had me do it that way to put less stress on baby and it also made it less likely that I would tear (since there was less pressure behind the pushes). At 1:20 am, after only seven minutes of pushing, my doctor told me “Open your eyes! Here’s your baby!” I reached down and helped to pull him out of me and up onto my chest. Zach was calling out, “It’s a boy!!” with more joy in his voice than I have ever heard before. I felt no surprise that our baby was a boy (I thought, “Well of course he is! I already knew that!”) but was in complete shock that he was here. It had all happened so extremely fast, especially once that epidural was in place. I had dilated six centimeters and pushed him out, all in under four hours! I remember thinking, “I’m not pregnant anymore!” and having immense joy at that thought!

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I held our son to my chest and he started nursing almost immediately. It was quite some time before I realized I should let Zach have a chance to hold him and handed him over. We couldn’t decide what to name him. We had a couple of favorites we were considering. I think we both had been hoping to use one name, but were realizing it just didn’t fit him. The nurses weighed him. He was 7lbs, 2 ounces, exactly what I had predicted earlier in the evening. (That makes all three of our babies that I have guessed their exact birth weight, down to the ounce!). They officially marked him as 18 1/4 inches tall, but Zach said it was actually 19 inches when they stretched him out right (that makes all three of our babies nineteen inches as birth).

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About an hour after he was born, as Zach held our son next to me, we looked at each other and agreed. His name is Alden Zachariah, we said. Alden, our “old friend.” Welcome to the family, Alden.

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St. Patrick’s Day Crafts: Popsicle Stick Rainbows and Felt Shamrocks

I decided to seize the chance to spend some more time with the girls this weekend while Zach was home to hold and soothe Alden. I frequently feel guilty about how little time I’m able to spend giving them my undivided attention these days. One of the easiest ways for me to interact with them that they enjoy is through arts and crafts.

Eleanor's Rainbow Project

Eleanor’s Rainbow Project

For our first craft, I pulled out the bag of jumbo size Popsicle sticks and washable paints. These girls seriously love paint. I set out a full rainbow of colors, substituting pink because we were out of red. I had the girls paint one Popsicle stick for each color of the rainbow. I tried to throw in a little bit of education here, quizzing them on the colors of the rainbow and then having them put the sticks in rainbow order after they were painted. They then glued the sticks onto a piece of paper to make a rainbow. I cut out a black pot and shamrock for Eleanor, and had Zoey cut out her own after I drew them (yay for scissor practice! Fine motor skills FTW!). The girls glued their pots and shamrocks onto their projects, and then we used gold glitter glue to make the gold in the pot.

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Zoey’s Rainbow Project

For our second craft, I cut out some shamrocks from green felt. Zoey and I then decorated them with silver and gold glitter glue. She decided to make extras to send to her friends. The idea is that the kids can wear them with a safety pin on St. Patrick’s Day. Eleanor woke up from her nap just in time to direct me on how she wanted her’s decorated.

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That’s So Pinteresting: St. Patrick’s Day Paper Chain Rainbow & Pot of Gold

With a new baby in the house, the girls aren’t getting nearly enough attention. I wanted something that I could sit down and do with them that wouldn’t require herculean efforts of preparation and clean-up on my part. Something simple, fun, and preferably in line with the season.

I saw this craft on Pinterest, but sadly cannot share the link with you as it was deemed “suspicious” and removed by the powers that be. This craft was quick, easy and relatively mess-free (except for the glitter, the herpes of the craft world). Exactly what I was looking for.

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I cut out the rainbow-colored strips for the chain, yellow “gold pieces,” and the black cauldron, then let the girls put it all together. I opted to have them tape the paper chain links together, rather than staple, as tape is more in line with their current motor skills. They also taped their gold pieces to the pot. I then put some glue on the gold pieces and let the girls sprinkle the glitter on. A final strip of black paper to attach the pot to the chain and we were done. Zoey promptly asked to make more. Many, many more.

St. Patrick’s Day Children’s Book Review

Get your shamrocks and shillelaghs ready, because it’s March and St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! As each holiday approaches, I’m quick to jump on the local library website and place holds on a bunch of children’s books about the holiday. Since Zoey and Eleanor are still so young, they don’t really understand what most holidays are about yet, and books are a great tool for explaining.

I requested the following books for St. Patrick’s Day a few weeks ago and, after endlessly reading and re-reading them to the girls, I have my reviews ready for you. I hope you find this helpful. Erin Go Bragh!

A Fine St. Patrick’s Day by Susan Wojciechowski
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This was by far my favorite of the bunch. It tells of two towns that compete each year for the best St. Patrick’s Day decorations. One city wins every year, while the other is always the loser. This year, the losing city has a plan that is sure to finally win them the trophy. When an intriguing stranger comes seeking help from the two towns (spoiler alert: he appears to be….a leprechaun!) only one of the two towns has it’s priorities straight. In the end, each town is rewarded in exactly the way it should be and we are left with the idea of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day simply for the joy of it, rather than for a competition. My favorite part of the book: the character who comes up with the best ideas and who helps remind everyone about the importance of helping others is a young girl. This book is especially awesome when read aloud with a terrible Irish accent, which is exactly how I read it to my kids.

 

St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning by Eve Bunting.

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One of the things that first caught my eye about this book is that it is illustrated by Jan Brett. This book tells the story of an Irish boy who wakes up before everyone else on St. Patrick’s Day. He is considered too young to partake in the holiday traditions that his older brother’s will enjoy, in particular the parade walk up to the top of a large hill. So the small boy sets out to the top of the hill on his own, with several encounters along the way. It is whimsical and sweet, with fun Irish dialogue (break out that accent again!). My favorite part: In the end, the boy is satisfied with proving his abilities just to himself.

 

St. Patrick’s Day by Anne Rockwell

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This book was the best of the bunch for explaining a bit of the St. Patrick’s Day traditions observed here in the U.S., and a bit of the history of the holiday. Many of the children’s books about this holiday seemed geared for older children when describing the origins of St. Patrick’s Day. How do you explain to a preschooler – who is being raised without religion – about the shamrock representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? This book glosses over all the religious affiliations of the holiday, as well as St. Patrick’s kidnapping, escape and Catholic conversion. Instead it offers a child-friendly snapshot of St. Patrick “teaching people to be nice to each other” and scaring all the snakes out of Ireland. A good book for introducing your child to some basics of the holiday without getting into all the religious details.

 

Jeremy Bean’s St. Patrick’s Day by Alice Schertle

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This book actually has very little to do with St. Patrick’s Day, other than the tradition of wearing green clothes. It is about a school-age boy (Jeremy Bean) who is a little bit afraid of the school principal. When Jeremy forgets to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day, he learns that the intimidating principal is actually a kind ally. A good lesson, overall, even if the book is lacking in holiday relevance.

 

Little Bear Marches in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade by Janice

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First off, why do the author and illustrator only have first names? I find this confusing. Secondly, this is another book with very little to do with St. Patrick’s Day. Thirdly, my kids absolutely loved this book. I think we read this one twice as many times as all the others. Little Bear and his friend mouse have a magic umbrella that stops the rain whenever it is opened. When the March weather is horrid, they are called on to save the day for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There is a small lesson about keeping your promises (and you can extrapolate a message on forgiveness), but mostly it is just a silly, charming tale.

There you have it folks. An assortment of St. Patrick’s Day books for the 2-6 age range. Go pour yourself a green beer and get reading!

 

Dino Day at the Burke Museum

Alden may be only a couple weeks old, Zach and I may be utterly exhausted, we may now have more children than adults in our family but, gosh darn it, some things are just worth leaving the house for. Namely, dinosaurs.

Little Paleontologists

Little Paleontologists

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture resides on a corner of the University of Washington campus, and is a local treasure trove. When I saw that they were hosting Dino Day this past Sunday, I knew we couldn’t miss it. Zoey is quite interested in dinosaurs (and rightly so), as is Zach. We were not disappointed. The line to get in was long but moved quickly. The girls got to dress up in dino costumes and give their best ROAR, “dig” for a fossil, see entire dinosaur skeletons and finally gain an appreciation of their size, chip out their own plant fossil to keep and generally just get their “saurus-ness” on.

Digging up a fossil

Digging up a fossil

So We Had A Baby…

…and then everything else promptly ceased to exist. Pure survival, folks.

But gosh, he is cute.

That's Zach's childhood teddy bear. Adorable, yes?

That’s Zach’s childhood teddy bear. Adorable, yes?

I’ll have lots to say about him soon, I’m sure, including the whole birth story. In the meantime, here are some tidbits:

1) That post on “what labor really feels like” ?? HA! HAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, no. Let’s just consider this my formal retraction of that post, ok?

2) I now know what my 10 out of 10 on a pain scale is. No joke.

3) Alden frequently makes these adorable little noises that sound like a sheep bleating and it is the cutest thing to ever happen. Every single time.

4) Zoey’s adoration of her new baby brother is too precious for words.

"Oh, hi!"

“Oh, hi!”

Photographs by Bella Baby Photography. 

When Nurses Throw A Baby Shower

My sweet, crazy, awesome coworkers threw me a potluck baby shower. Because they are just amazing like that.

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The whole crew (or at least a lot of us). I seriously love these people!

 

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Seahawks, baby!!

 

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FOOOOOOOD! Nurses know how to do potlucks right! I may or may not have eaten six of those chocolate cake pieces….

 

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No vase? That’s ok. We have urinals.

 


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I don’t even know what is happening in this picture….