Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A late and much postponed birth story for FIG, finally

Has it really been since January?

I've just belatedly finished watching OINTB Season 2, on my phone, as my tv watching goes these days- restless baby nursing in bed accompaniment.  I won't spoil it, but I will say I'm a little disappointed, I think the producers took the easy way out. Predictable, and I'm definitely not as hooked as I was after the first season.  Ugh, now I need a new series to get swallowed by.

42 weeks in 42 week out.  This feels like a marker, she is growing into herself so fast.  This little being has preferences, she has sounds that mean things, she is fiery.  Nick says she's like our dog, who speaks only in capital letters.  She is a nuzzler, when she's not feeling so hot, she sleeps on my shoulder in bed, she likes to be close.  When she is feeling fine, she rolls away, and takes her own space.  She pushes through things that are in her way, Nolan, the dog, toys. She is a mover.  She nods her head in agreement, she crawls over to the park swings and raises her arms and bops up and down.  She knows how to get what she wants. She plays peekabo with everything. She is brave.  Today she crawled right into Lake Michigan. Today she stood up in the bathtub.  She is a discoverer.  She likes opening and closing doors, she likes dogs fur, she likes nibbling noses and tasting and biting everything.   She loves feeling her hands and feet in dirt.  She has one dimple and seven teeth and a crinkly face smile.  She has a natural mohawk.

42 weeks ago, on a cool summer night Nick and I were watching Sherlock, Nolan was sleeping in the big bed, there were a few dishes in the sink.  I was waiting. Our baby had been cooking for 42 weeks 1 day, and it was go time.  I had acupuncture at 3pm, and was desperately hoping for a natural beginning to labor, natural

and... cut to returning weeks later to finish up and add pictures and my writing is gone.  Feeling very frustrated and pissed at web karma.

This is a picture of my left shoulder.  I had acupuncture and some form of scraping earlier that day, and the practitioner and I talked about how we didn't know the gender of the baby, I told her our name choices and I thought the conversation was over.  Before even getting into active labor, Kristy, our doula mentioned that I had an "F" on my shoulder, and maybe it would be our Frances that was on the way, perhaps the accupuncturist knew it would be a girl and was giving me a clue.  The F is very faint in the picture, squint and you can see it! 

Figs birth story got interrupted, much like her birth.  Here is the story, or what I can get out in the next few minutes before she wakes up, or Nolan presses the power button on my computer.

When I say natural, I mean, anything but castor oil, birthing at home in the tub with candles, without intervention, at my own pace.  I got my wish, it all happened, sans the candles, which are still sitting on a shelf, tall and unburned.  She started to make her presence and intention known at around 9:30 pm, which I retrospectively marked as the beginning of labor.  Since it was imminent, one way or another, I finally downloaded a contraction timing app (already during the beginnings of contractions- I must not of wanted to jinx myself by doing it before).  And knowing finally that it was going to happen, I did the dishes to stay busy, I think I subconsciously left them in the sink thinking that if there were dishes then she would definitely come, because that would signal "unready" in some way, which would therefore make it the right time... does anyone but me follow that kind of thinking?  Weird I know, but maybe it worked.

This picture and the one following and the only pictures of me in labor.  The last moments of my baby in belly. 

I guess there are some candles.... 

So things picked up and I remember telling Nick not to have a second beer because it was now or within the next 12 hours or so and no matter what, he was going to have to be awake.  He obliged. I think we called Kristy, our doula to keep her in the loop, and she decided to come at around 1:30 am and just be here in the case that labor picked up really quickly.  There was a lot of concern around the baby coming fast because Nolan's birth was relatively quick, this being number 2, anything could happen.  Also, I was at 4-5 cm before labor even started.  Thinking about it now, it should have been a surprise to no one that Frances entered the world at her own pace, taking her time to come on down.  Everyones hurry ended up being unnecessary.   The midwives Amy and Sarah arrived sometime early in the morning, maybe 4:30 or 5, the pool was inflated, I threw up twice.  I remember someone saying that as awful as  throwing up is, in labor it is productive and I probably dilated another half centimeter.  Contractions were more and more intense and I got in the pool.  We all thought baby was on her way at around 7, and then Nolan woke up.  Everything slowed down almost to a halt.  I don't remember this, but now I know that my body was waiting for Nolan to be safe,  I  couldn't have predicted feeling this, but I wanted him not to see me in pain.  I could not have the baby with him there.  Our buddies came and picked him up in their wagon, the midwives told me to try and rest.  Which I did, all the while thinking that this is totally crazy, contractions are really happening now and they want me to sleep.  I needed support, but tried to rest for about 30 minutes until it became too uncomfortable to be on my side.

I must have labored on the ball, standing, walking for a while, I think I got back in the pool at 9 ish.  Cold washcloths, cold water, someone else getting my hair out of my face: I remember choosing not to push, waiting until the urge was impossible to resist.  I got to the point, which I remembered from Nolan's birth when it felt impossible, summitting a never ending mountain with no air to breathe, and then someone said they could see the head.   Back to reality, saying I can't do this, someone said, you are doing it right now.   Then it was really imminent, she was coming, things sprang in to action, no one had realized how close she was to swimming/ shooting out into the world.  I saw Amy put towels on the warmer.  My water broke at 9:28am, I pushed 2 times.  She was born at 9:31am.

The blurry first moments of life on this side. 

Giving us her classic WTF face. 

I love the clarity of Fig's face in this one, moments after birth. 

Taking a breath, relishing the moment. 

It took her a while to pink up, and then she was so pink, like red pink, much more color than Nolan.  She's fair like me.  My stubborn placenta didn't want to let go, needed some encouragement, but finally gave way, and like with Nolan's birth, I bled a lot.  At one point after trying to pee for the first time, I fainted and fell, and like an angel, Sarah caught me, an exhausted, depleted, thrilled pants-less new momma.  They had me lay on the floor for 30 minutes or so with my feet up, all the while Nick had Frances on his chest.

Skin to skin with daddy while the placenta came and I got cleaned up. 

  She was trying to nurse, eating his chest hair, and I asked for help to the bed so I could finally have her with me.  Here she is, nursing away, my girl.  

Our first nurse. 

The fainting was from fluid loss, once I ate and drank a lot, I was on the mend, recovered, and had color in my face again.

8 lbs 10 oz! 

Amy making it official with footprints. 

The first of many sleepy snuggles.  This is actually pre faint.  

First close up, Oma's knitting and a Nolan sleeper. 

This is my team! Amy and Sarah were amazing. 

Brother meets sister for the first time.  There was definitely toe counting going on.   
And now, almost 12 months later, I finish her birth story, and it's time to start writing the story of her first year.   Here's a sneak at what she's up to.  She is amazing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter update

Well I feel like a success right now. I (we) got through a tech week and weekend of performing and came out if it feeling good about the dance and the experience. My family survived my evening and daytime absence and I only took one sick day at work.  It was a special gift to dance with someone who knows me so well.  (Is this where I hashtag Kristina Fluty? :) Because our friendship is so long and storied we could focus on the integrity and honesty in the dance: A true and rare delight for me. I am pleased to say I want/ need to do this again, and feel motivated to make it happen.  I am so grateful for the gentle observers in the dancers and audiences and the generous comments that made me feel so appreciated.

At home, there has been tons of cuteness going on, and milestones jumped over all the time. Everybody is growing up so fast. Maybe reverse chronological order is appropriate since it's been a while.

Nolan's getting ready for Mardi Gras! 

Light, shadow and love.

Snow (or extreme cold) day snuggles this morning.

Jam sesh after the show last night.

This kid is a performer.

Family cuddle puddle. 

Pic from dress rehearsal (photo by Lizzie Leopold).

Car seat sleep pics on the way home from Iowa Christmas last weekend.

Sleepy face mouth breathers.

Our girl loves to smile big!

And Nolan gets in at least one squeezy hug everyday, which Frances is not so sure about...

It's been a packed few weeks. Nick has been the rock that we all balanced on and I am forever grateful. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Grutz says, "Well...........maybe I'll start a church." or "I'm having issues with a rat's nest."

A gift beyond words.

We held our 'Iowa Christmas' last weekend.  A house with 17 wonderful people is a true joy.  And of course, a ridiculous amount of gifts.  One gift though, needs special mention.  My grandfather, Bill Linden, made me a glorious stained glass window.  Frankly, the content is secondary.  I'm gobstruck at the detail and can't imagine the time and effort.  Unfortunately, Papa Bill left the gift for me and I was unable to see him and thank him in person.  I'm going to have to remedy that....
Now I just need to build a house around this.....

Hey guy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grutz says, "When the sh!t hits the fan, er, rather the floor." or "St. Nicholas comes tonight! But be wary of Krampus!!!"

Little room for deviation.

Into our technically third week of Dad Duty pt. II, and things are going very, very well.  The kids and I have a pretty good routine so far.  Chores get finished, naps are fulfilled, bellies are amply filled, and much time is spent playing, goofing, and baby-talk.  Bowels are evacuated (usually in tandem by the the kids) and they are painstakingly cleaned (by me).  Usually dinner is more or less ready by the time Mommy gets home and all is hunky-dory.  Get to listen to great music or great radio.  Heck, I even send in emails that get on the air on  the fine Talk of Iowa on IPR.  Yeah, I'm "Nick from Chicago".  I post blogs.  Make lists of thing I need to do, lists of things I'd like to do.  All is pretty darn good.

BUT, when life adds a little spice to the routine, well, things can get dicey.  Case in point, our fearless (some may say fear inducing) dog, Arnie, has got a bug or something.  Let's just say rugs have been cleaned, floors scrubbed.  I'm sure he'll be heading to the vet, at some point.  But with his "Oh my I really have to get out or I'm going to use the floor again!" to my "How the hell do you dry a wet 8x10 rug when it won't stop raining and a wicked cold front is coming?" and everything in between, it has been a stretch to maintain a sense of positivity.  (For the rug it takes fans.  And rigging it in such a way your almost-two-year-old won't hurt himself.  And he does try.  Tenacious that one is.)  Now, normally, this incident would not be much of an issue, but with kids, things can become very difficult, very quickly.  Like logarithmically difficult.  There is no more "drop whatever it is you're doing and address this issue", rather it is evolved into "I HAVE to do this now, but A, B, and C have to take place first, and hope that the little ones are in a good mood."  Quick, slip on your shoes and coat is not a reality when a sleeping baby is strapped to your abdomen.  And we don't have a yard so I can't just let him out.  Fortunately, up until today the weather has been wet, but balmy.  And Nolan is very, very compliant.

But this is an example of life, right?  This is what happens and it is all about developing new skills and outlook.  Carleen had a rough day the other day when 12 additional students joined her class for the day due to an absent teacher.  Challenging, I've been there.  So it comes from all fronts.  But you get through it and, usually, you come out the other side better suited to handle the next crisis.  And there will be more crises.  Luckily, I have Carleen to be there at the the end of the day, so we can look into each othes' tired eyes and I mutter something like, "Jeez, I can't remember when I showered last.  I love you." and it makes things better, maybe just a bit, but better non-the-less.

As I walked Arnie this morning I was feeling bad for myself and I stopped and said, aloud ('cos I'm crazy), "You've been through worse."  And I have.  And it turned out all right.  And I smiled.  Life is good.  My boy won't stop yapping and my daughter won't stop giggling.  What's better than playing peek-a-boo with your daughter?  Nothing.  Except watching your son play peek-a-boo with your daughter.

And St. Nicholas comes tonight!!!

Growing up you would put your shoes out on the 5th and if you've been good you'd find the next morning an orange and a candy cane in your shoes, gifts from St. Nicholas.  If you've been naughty you'd get coal, and if coal wasn't readily available, you would get gravel and stcks in your shoes, which did happen to me ONCE.  St. Nicholas would even leave candy canes on our desks at school, too!!  We are excitedly anticipating a visit tonight!!!! Hope you've all been good!

A number years ago, my Dad told me about Krampus.  Krampus (and his other incarnations) trace back thousands of years to pagan times of central Europe.  He's devil-like entity who punishes naughty kids. He usually joins St. Nicholas, dishing out the fear, while St. Nicholas gives the cheer.  A fine coupling of christian with pagan ritual.  He's quite a big deal in Europe and he's more common in the US.  I definitely believe Krampus should have a more prominent role today.  Best get moving on making a costume and mask now so it'll be ready in few years.  MWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  A little fright does a body good.  Here are some photos of Krampus:
Old school St. Nicholas and Krampus.

Present day Krampus in Austria.  (Photo:Kerstin Joensson)
Here's an article and video from 2011 from NPR.  Check it out.  And I hope you've been good this year, if only not keep Krampus at bay........

Monday, November 25, 2013

Grutz says, "On the whole, I'd rather be sleeping." or "Kids change fast."

What am I doing up at this hour?
My wife needs to sleeps.  So does Frances, so I'm wearing her in the moby typing away.  The floor in the kitchen is quite cold but it's not worth the trouble to disturb Baby Fig at the present moment.  So 3 whole days alone with the kids!!  As I posted earlier, when it's bad, wow!  Take your most stressful work related event and add your kids screaming to it.  But as bad as it seems, it is ever so brief and rather infrequent, like 5-10 minutes a day.  On the whole, I'd say things are going great!

We cook and clean.  Play games and sleep.  Nolan is turning into a sweet and smart little man.  And he's one hell of a singer.  Frances definitely turned the corner.  Literally waiting until the last moment to take a bottle, but she takes it now like a fiend!  And she's a baby now, no longer an infant.  She coos and giggles, smiles and blows bubbles.  She's really good for me, she only gets stinky when she's hungry or tired, piece of cake, right?  I think she takes it easy on me because I don't make mommy milk.  I can see her little mind working away, "No point being fussy with Dad, he doesn't have boobs."

I really enjoy being home with the kids.  We're getting into our routines and Nolan usually stays off the counters and only chases Arnie occasionally.  And it must be said that Arnie is very, very, very tolerant (in his own, Arnie-way) with Nolan.  It's pretty cold here, so I have yet to venture out with the 2+dog, but it's going to happen.

Ok, it's almost 1.  I have to be up in 4.75 hours to walk the dog.  Oh and Nolans up!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Grutz says, "Well, um, here's the new reality now. Whew." or "Kicking ass and taking names?"

Day 2 of Carleen's abandons family return to work.

It hasn't been this bad.  Well, not the entire time.
The good.
Frances is taking a bottle.  Sleeps for spells.  Nolan is great.  Getting a considerable amount of work done around the house, more than I anticipated.  Meals made.  Hell, I'm brining a chicken at the moment for dinner tonight. Hell yes I had dinner made and the laundry and the kids were fed, happy, and healthy!  BAM!  

And he kids are beautiful. 

The bad.
See photo above.  When the poop hits the fan, it is intense.  Like a perfect storm, a gut-wrenching, oh-my-god-how-did-Grandma-Barb-do-this type of storm.  Crying kids hurt the heart.  Screaming baby has poop streaming out her diaper, son is crying for Mom while systematically and dangerously pulling heavy non-fiction books off a shelf above his head (something very new) and something's burning on the stove, couch spontaneously combusts into flame, dog starts speaking in tongues, toilet explodes.  At times, very critical times it seems, Nolan is NOT great.  A understandable thing in lieu of the current state of things. Yesterday, our first day sans Mom, I'd say there was about a combined 45-60 minutes of chaos.  What's that Arnie?  Oh, yes, rough!  But it passes and things work out.  I wanted to congratulate myself as Carleen got home (from her own tough job) for a pretty successful day (IMO), but then a little voice in my head said, "This is what's supposed to happen now, the new norm.  Nothing special here big guy.  This is how it is now.  No big deal."  Oh, right.

The ugly.
Me.  Lack of sleep.  Time spent with wife.  Arnie's lack of walks.  I've had tougher jobs in the past, I just can't recall any at the moment.  Bitch, bitch, bitch.....

In conclusion...
Like any new change, it takes time to get into the swing of things.  I can't expect things to be hunky-dory right off the bat.  But it is going much, much better than I thought (at least for 1.5 days!).  We'll manage.  We have to.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I'm going back to work on Wednesday. Nothing feels good right now.  Leaving Frances feels viscerally wrong. The idea of it hurts.  Momma instinct or evolution or survival, I am twisting up inside. I've made commitments to my job, people are counting on me, other peoples children will be affected if I don't go back. That sinks in and I want to follow through on my commitments. Ironically, money is the last thing on my mind.  How does anyone do this? She can't be the first cranky baby who refuses a bottle. Part of me wonders if it's physiological, and on some level I'm wondering if she's refusing it because she needs me, like really needs me for comfort and survival. She was induced (albeit acupuncture) to be born, she didn't entirely come on her own, and part of me is thinking that she wasn't ready, and isn't ready to face some things here on the outside.  She's always needed to be held close, and to this day she sleeps best on my chest.   I don't know, thoughts rolling around in my head, especially after reading about birth trauma (www.thetwincoach.com).  We've also been working with a cranial sacral therapist who says sometimes we have to process things that happen, to unwind in order for everything to work right.  She's coming back tomorrow.

I'll take any thoughts anyone has about bottle feeding, (or cup or syringe), and how to deal with mommy guilt too.  

3 months old and very alert!