Saturday, January 30, 2010

Smiling for Papa

Looking for more pictures of the monsters? Try HERE.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Pleasure of Childbirth

If only I could bottle it up.

When women talk about birth and labor, the conversation usually centers around one thing: pain. Ok, two things: length of labor. I don't know why this is, but the stories always seem so horrible, terrifying, and long. Often, it seems a competition to say who had the worst labor.

Is labor really that bad? Are the horror stories real? Probably. So how about some not-so-scary labor stories?

Yes, childbirth is painful. It's also pleasurable. Generally, if I tell people that, they say that's because I had an "easy" labor. Or, I was just lucky not to have pain. No, I felt pain. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it was in the 8 range. But I also felt joy, and with that joy, pleasure.

Part of it is control. Or rather, letting go of control. It's true one can really work with the pain, make the pain work for you. That's not to say I was the picture of calm during labor, though I was for most of it til the last hour. I had my fair share of "Holy Cow this hurts!" comments. Yet that powerful, intense, overwhelming contraction is telling you something. It's telling your body the next step for birthing that baby. Giving in to it is to ride the wave of that contraction like a body surfer in the Pacific Ocean. You come to the crest, then ride it out. You can't stop the pain, so you let it work for you rather than against you.

And then, when finally, FINALLY, that baby makes its way out, the relief and pure joy. That's what I really want to bottle up. There's a feeling, immediately after the baby is born, and for me at least, lasting the few hours after until I finally gave in to sleep, that is so overwhelming: peace, joy, love, pleasure, ecstasy. Ok, and some exhaustion too, but the other elements are far more powerful.

Sure, with Angelina I was puking for hours and couldn't move. With Lenaïc it wasn't much different: contractions on top of one another, begging Frédéric or my midwife to aim that shower head at my lower back NOW. But that's not what I remember most. I remember the anticipation, the excitement that each contraction brought. And yes,even the pleasure of pushing. Sure, I do remember the PAIN of pushing, but when your body has the urge to push the baby out, it's an incredibly positive feeling.

Even with Angelina, whose final hours of labor were traumatic thanks to a hospital transfer, and she was immediately intubated and whisked off to NICU, so we didn't get that physical bond, those feelings were there. And now, with Lenaïc, whose birth at home was intense and beautiful, I can definitely say this feeling is overwhelming, all-powerful. And the most beautiful thing on earth.

I feel truly so so fortunate to have been able to experience it.

And so now my one piece of advice to all my pregnant friends is this: enjoy it. Enjoy the anticipation of birth in the final weeks of pregnancy, and most importantly, enjoy labor. If I could bottle up those few hours after the baby is born, I would. Instead, I just remember them every time I'm up at 3am nursing....

(I do actually have one photo that shows this - Frederic smiling, Angelina in awe, me in a sense of utter calm and baby nursing. Alas, it also shows a bit too much of me, so I'll leave this one, taken the following morning)

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Day at the Park

After multiple freezes and lots and lots of rain, a sunny day meant a trip to Nature. So we headed to Guadalupe State Park. It was a bit chilly when the wind blew, but that didn't stop Angelina....

She had a blast skipping stones with Papa while Lenaïc slept happily against Mommy's chest in the ergo carrier. That's another problem...he sleeps so wonderfully in the carrier, that if we're out and about all day, he sleeps ALL DAY. Which means nighttime is party time.

Anyway, back to the park. It was a gorgeous day but as we were getting ready to leave, Angelina made some new friends. A father and his two young daughters eager for a new playmate. So we stayed another hour, "hiking." The older sister and Angelina were our guides, leading us through mud puddles. They had fun though.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Enchanted Rock

Maybe not my best idea ever.

Angelina does best when I get her out of the house for a bit in the morning. Then, my previous non-sleeper (she hadn't napped for us in 2 years), is generally ready for a nap of say 2-3 hours (only since Lenaïc was born). Nanny is here visiting, and she always likes hikes. So I figure, why not go to Enchanted Rock? It's only about 1.5 hours from here, and we don't have to hike to the top, can just wander around the bottom. Angelina loves hiking/nature. And we can go to Fredericksburg for lunch and maybe wander a bit there. Then head home at nap time, providing a car ride nap for both kids.

Great idea!

Except, best laid plans and all that....we started the morning opening a gift from a dear friend in CA. Legos. VERY SMALL PIECES and tons of them. Wonderful gift, but Angelina would not budge until we had built at least two of the trucks (dump truck and bulldozer). That, getting kids ready, nursing, getting me ready, nursing some more....we didn't get out of the house til almost 11. So much for the morning hike.

So we started off with lunch in Fredericksburg with a hungry and tired Angelina (i.e. cranky). Survived that. I almost gave up and drove home, given the nap and all, but decided no, we said Enchanted Rock and MUST do it. And it was a gorgeous day.

So off we go. 75 yr old Nanny with a sore foot, 3 yr old wild child, and 6 week old baby in my ergo carrier.

Despite all my efforts, Angelina would NOT be deterred from summiting the Rock. It's not the easiest climb - sheer rock face at some points. Totally walkable, but for a 3 yr old? And a mom with a baby? She kept running up ahead of me, as I was trying to stay slow to make sure Nanny was doing ok. Finally, Nanny called it quits and took a break mid-way. And off goes Angelina, just as it gets steeper. And windier. Did I say she's only 32lbs? The wind was very strong. She was doing fine, I was starting to get scared. I could hike fine, even with baby, but I couldn't chase Angelina and if she fell and slipped down.....

Well, she didn't fall and slip down. She forged on to the top, all the while going on about Enchanted Rock and "I MUST go to the top. I HAVE TO!" We make it, spend five minutes, the wind kicks up so high she has to grab my leg to hold on.

And she says "Mommy! I don't like Enchanted Rock! I want to go down!" Finally. Is it bad I'm glad she finally got scared?

This time, she's willing to hold my hand the whole way, as I gently lead her down a very steep least it's steep when you have a baby on your chest and a 3 yr old at your side, ready to blow over in the next gust of wind.

We meet back with Nanny, make our way back down to the very bottom. Angelina turns around. "I want to go UP Enchanted Rock."

um, kid, you already did!!! She has a short memory.

As for Lenaïc, he slept in his carrier the whole time. Gotta love the ergo! He woke just as we got to the bottom and nursed. And nursed. ANd nursed some more.

By now it's almost 5pm. We head off. He starts screaming....he's hungry again. We make it to F'burg. Stop, nurse some more while Angelina and Nanny go exploring. Head off. More hunger screams. Make it to the highway (now 6pm). Stop at a gas station/McD's, nurse some more...finally head off at 7pm. more screaming. This time I don't stop and we push on home. Arrive at 8pm, more nursing. Little guy was hungry after all that hiking I guess. So much for making it home by 3pm and heading to Friendly Spot (my original plan), which has it's own little climbing wall....

(I try my best, but taking pictures in the blowing wind, with a baby on your chest and trying to stand still...not so easy)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ah, the Magic of Birth

Birth is such an amazing, powerful, intense, wonderful experience. Yes, it's painful, but it's a positive pain. I was scared before having Angelina, but not about the birth, more about what I was going to do being the sole person responsible for a newborn! (ok, not the ONLY one responsible, Fredo was here too). But labor didn't scare me. In fact, I was excited for it. And second time around, I was even more excited for it.

I'd been thinking about how to put me thoughts into words, when it seems my friend did it for me. Well, not for *me,* exactly...My friend Monica is a doula in training. As she's in Switzerland and I'm, well, not, she couldn't attend my birth. But she did recently attend her first birth there, and wrote about it here. She wrote very eloquently what I'd been feeling about birth, so I just refer you to her page :)

Boobs and Poops...feeding challenges, part Deux

So I considered myself an experienced breastfeeder. I nursed Angelina for 25 months. I just remember it being easy as pie. Latch her on and go.

So, of course I could breastfeed Lenaïc, no problem.

But I had forgotten about the Beginning.

It wasn't so easy, at least not to start. And 2nd time around turned out to be challenging too. He latched on immediately after birth (literally, came up from the water and latched on to my breast. Angelina said "Mommy, the baby likes your boobie!" We didn't even know "he" was a "he" at that point). So I was sure all would be great. Not so.

Once my milk came in, about 48 hours later, I was too engorged and he couldn't latch. I was also being lazy, he was sleeping long stretches and though I would wake him to feed him, was not doing it enough. So by the morning of day 3, when my midwife came for the newborn screen, she noticed he was jaundiced and had lost a lot of weight. She checked my breastfeeding, sure enough, he wasn't latching. So, orders were to use a nipple shield and wake him every 2 hours to feed, feed for 30 minutes (15 minutes each side). That leaves about 1 hour or less to do anything - like shower, go to the bathroom, eat, play with Angelina. Not easy! With Angelina, all that was easier because she was the only one. I could just sit there and nurse nurse nurse. It was harder this time. But that's what I had to do.

Worry about jaundice, worry about his weight, worry about the breastfeeding, worry about Angelina, throw in post-partum hormones. Not a good combo.

Fortunately, the jaundice was gone in about 24 hours, and diapers were good and poopy/wet. But not enough.

So off to the lactation center. I am so glad this place exists! The consultant worked with me on the latch (still recommended the nipple shield), and agreed with the schedule my midwife had set. We also discussed my goals for breastfeeding, and all sorts of little tricks to get him to eat better. I *knew* my supply was fine, fortunately (many are not so lucky). They have weighing rooms, so you can go in anytime they're open, weigh, nurse, weigh again to see how much the baby has taken. So, that's what I did. Every day at first, then 2x per week, and now once per week.

He was improving, so I was feeling better. Then the pediatrician noticed his weight drop: from 30th percentile at birth down to 3% at 4 weeks. Now I'm worried all over again.

Until yesterday. The goal is for them to gain 5-7 oz per week. As of yesterday's weighing, he gained 10 oz in the past week!

We're still using the nipple shields about 75% of the time. I keep trying to wean him off of them, and he does ok, then other times no luck. But at least he's gaining! Yeah for Mommy's Milk!

Monday, January 18, 2010

First Day of School! First Day of School!

If you've seen Finding Nemo, picture Nemo's first lines....(ok, so we've seen it about 5 billion times in the last few weeks).

Angelina started preschool last week. It's really a daycare that's a "learning center," since the Circle School, where we really want to send her, doesn't have space. That's ok, we like this other place too, and they'll also take the baby when I go back to work.

We had been disappointed to lose our daycare and not have dear Nana anymore, but Angelina is not at all bothered it seems (she does say she wants to take the baby to see Nana, but that's all). She is soooooooo excited about school! She could not wait to go to school. She has had her backpack on and ready to go for weeks! So we finally started her last week, just 2 days per week. Both mornings she practically ran out the door and she comes home all bouncing and happy. I hope she always loves school so much!

The next trick is finding a school bus. She has had this fascination with school buses for awhile (she says it in French - bus d'ecole...then said "bus school", now she says "school bussy"). Every time we see one she screams with delight, and constantly talks about going on one. Alas, she doesn't ride one to school. So now we're on the hunt for some school bus excursion. I think a plane ride was actually easier ;)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Day at the Beach

Or not....

It's been COLD here in Texas. Really cold. Ok, so not as cold as it is in the frigid north, but it FEELS colder. We've dipped down below freezing quite a bit and even into the teens F the other night. For Texas, even in January, that's REALLY COLD. We tolerate the 80+ days over 100F in summer because we have 80F days in January. Not so this winter. After the hottest driest summer, we're aiming for the coldest winter. Have I said I don't like the cold? It's especially bad in our old drafty house. Oh, it's warm in the top 2 feet of the room, thanks to our wonderful high ceilings, but down below.....

Angelina doesn't appear to know that though. The other day Frédéric showed Angelina some pictures from our Mexico trip. Before I knew it she'd pulled ALL of her swim gear out, was running around the house naked carrying her (many) swimsuits yelling "We're going to the beach! We're going to the beach!"

I explained the beach was far away and it was no avail. I finally convinced her we'd go to the pool (indoor pool at the YMCA), except they didn't open for a few more hours. It was not easy to contain her that long, but we did and managed to go to the pool and swim for awhile. However, the water was very cold that day (normally it's almost too warm). Felt like the Pacific Ocean in California in winter. That didn't deter her though. She wouldn't leave. It wasn't til her lips were turning blue and she was shivering so hard she could barely move I finally convinced her to get out of the pool....

More Sibling Love and return of the Happy Hurricane

Angelina can't bear to be apart from her brother. She gets as close to him as possible....

On a positive note, we think the Happy Hurricane has mostly returned. Sure, we still have tantrums and other issues, but she's happier now overall. I guess she finally came to terms with being a big sister. More pictures to come.

And Lenaïc meets Desmond Peebles for the first time.
Desmond is our good friends Kyle and Marisa's son, born in September. He's a cute little guy. He and Lenaïc are sure to be best buddies!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy New Year!

New Year's Day is our friend Lucien's birthday. Yesterday he turned 3! (I work with Lucien's mom, and he's a regular playmate of Angelina's when we meet at Bubblehead)

His party was at a great place called Fiesta Farms, basically a petting farm where the kids can feed and play with cows, goats, pigs, horses, ponies, donkeys, rabbits, and more.

The highlight (or one of the many highlights), was the pony ride. Thanks to Trudi for the photos.

And where is Lenaïc? Asleep in Papa's arms the entire time.

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