Friday, October 31, 2014

Baby Face(s)

Cece 4 weeks       Abram 18 months       Elizabeth 2 1/2 yrs

Ohhh, how these two little people LOVE 
the "new baby"!
Abram holds her so nicely and gives her lots of gentle 
pats and kisses.
Elizabeth asks forty times a day
for a turn to hold Cece...
"Me hold Baby?"
then runs to the couch to get herself ready.

No doubt, three under three
makes life interesting (and sometimes LOUD).

I wonder what life will be like for Mr. Abram
as he grows up surrounded by 
(you have to say it like that...giiiiiiiiirls
That's what Christopher and Elijah do.)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Birth of Cecelia Corinne

Goodness, what a busy last three weeks!
During the last weeks of pregnancy, I thought I would prepare several posts to have ready to publish so that I wouldn't have to think about it during the immediate postpartum days.  Ha!  That didn't happen...

I have wanted to share the story of Cece's birth so many times.  I wanted to write it well, and to do that I knew I would need two hands and the chance to have a few complete thoughts.
These have been in short supply as of late.

I guess the best way to tell a story is to just start, right?
Labor started at about 2:00 on a Friday afternoon, I had been feeling "different" since about 11:00 am that day.
I decided to send the kids to my parents' house (they both work but we have a key to their house so Linnea could just watch them down there).  They loaded into the suburban and Isaiah drove them over.
While I was getting kids out the door there were no contractions.  If I laid down, I could time contractions that were reliably 10 mins apart.
I texted Beth (my fabulous midwife) to let her know what was going on and we agreed to wait watchfully.

Dennis called in to let them know he'd be late for his shift hauling beets.  He didn't want to miss the baby's birth.  He'd be working an hour away and was worried he wouldn't get back in time if I called him later to come home once things picked up.
  Once the kids were out of the house I decided to try rest.
(I was all alone in the house.  This never happens.  Like, NEVER.  Well, I think I could list maybe two other times in the 18 years I've lived here, so never isn't exactly true.  Rarely, then.  RARELY.)
The contractions were each enough to wake me and I was needing to breathe through each one.  I texted Beth again, and my husband kept texting me asking if I had asked Beth to start this way yet.  He was worried I would wait too long and she'd miss it as she has an 80 minute drive to get to me.
He was nearby, chopping silage, and said he'd keep working on that until I told him to come in.
I gave up trying to sleep and started to pull out the birth supplies, and do some general last minute tidying of the house and my bedroom. I texted Beth at 5:25 and said "I think it'd be good if you headed this way." I took a shower, decided what I was going to wear in labor, and was disappointed that during my long, hot shower there were no contractions.  I convinced myself that I had jumped the gun again and that baby would be days away.
I laid down again, half in discouragement and half in tiredness and had a couple more contractions that were longer and harder than before. I had to really breathe through them and was very glad I had Beth on her way to me.  I wondered if perhaps I should have texted her sooner because they were getting stronger.
Dennis came inside at about 6:20 and Beth got here about 6:45, 81 minutes after my text.  (Turns out that when she says she's ready to hop in the car, she really means it.)  I was working through the contractions, though they were still spaced several minutes apart.  Christine (student midwife) and then Janelle, Beth's assistant, arrived and they set about doing their "thing" which I found fascinating, really.
I became more of an observer, impressed by their teamwork and efficiency and the busy-ness of preparing for birth. It hit me that they were here to help me birth MY baby at MY house. Even though this was my 11th delivery, it was my first birth at home.  It was familiar and new all at the same time.
Things became much more intense and I moved from bedroom to bathroom.  I remember saying, "I don't want to birth the baby in the bathroom; I'm in here because it feels good to lean on the sink" (being higher than the bed, and sturdier, it allowed me to sway through the contractions.)
Before much longer I was back in my room and leaning into the window sill next to my bed;  Dennis came in and I clasped my hands around the back of his neck as I could feel the baby making his or her way down.  Beth had stepped into the next room to get gloves on (I learned later). I heard her say, "Is she pushing?" Dennis said, "Yes."  I tried to answer, but couldn't.  I stood in front of Dennis, leaning into his chest; my water broke, her head came down, I said, "the.....head...." and Beth was there behind me, flipped up my skirt, and caught the baby. 
When I climbed up on to my bed, she handed her to me, helping with the cord since we were still attached.
I could NOT believe she was a GIRL.  I had been so certain that I was carrying a boy--and I don't know why I thought that--but I probably said four times, "I canNOT believe it's a GIRL!"
Cecelia Corinne
4 hours old
wrapped in a blue blanket because she had pooped on the pink ones
I put her skin to skin with me and I covered her with blankets.
Her cord was allowed to finish pulsing, which is so important for babies.

During the newborn exam, Beth noticed that baby had a tongue tie.  Not gonna lie, I was disappointed to learn this.  I knew it could really create a struggle for nursing.  She nursed well right away, but I didn't know what the future would hold. 
She was a little unsettled compared to my other new babies, which made for a long night.  She and I got precious little sleep and she cried a lot.  I nursed her for hours and hours.

So that was Friday night into Saturday.  My younger kids were with my parents and they brought them to meet the baby later Saturday afternoon.
Ivy was the first one in the house,
having run from Grandma's car,
up the stairs and in to the living room,
saying, "Can I hold the new baby?!?!"

Abram was delighted with the new baby.
See his face?  He was so excited to see her!

Andrew loves babies.

The kids have always been so welcoming to the new babies.
Abram loved touching her very soft hair.
He would push the other kids' hands away so that
he could touch her by himself.
A happy big brother!

I decided to keep some kids here at home Saturday night and send Elijah, Ruby, Ivy and Elizabeth home again with my parents.  Then the real fun began as one by one my kids fell to the stomach flu.   If there's a worse time for a family to get the stomach flu than immediate postpartum, I can't think of one.
Nine out of thirteen got sick but it was very short-lived and everyone was better within four days total.
I was one of those who was spared, thankfully!

Saturday and Sunday, there were times I cried.  It was very overwhelming and helpless-feeling.  Dennis was hauling beets and so was completely gone for 14 hours a day and then working here or catching a little sleep.  He's not very hands-on with the household stuff normally, but just having him around to peek in on me and listen to me has been the way it has gone with the other kids.
He called in the day Cecelia was born to say he wasn't coming for that shift, so he was able to be here with me after she was born.  They were broke down at the field so it worked out well for us that he could stay home rather than rush right out after the birth.
He did go haul on Saturday and for the rest of the 2 week season.

Through a series of phone calls on Monday, I was able to get in to a clinic on Tuesday morning to have her tongue tie clipped.
(This picture actually shows her tie fairly well.
Notice her tongue at her lower lip?  That was as far as she could move it.
For effective nursing, babies need to be able to move their tongue.)

It felt weird being out with a 3 1/2 day old baby but it needed to be done.  Nursing a tongue-tied baby is PAINFUL.  Like, white-hot pain.  I cried some more.  Once it was clipped that morning, it was noticeably better; still some pain but I think it was collateral damage from three days of hellish nursing. With the addition of some cranial sachral chiropractic work, we've got it all worked out now.
The birth was wonderful and very special to me; I'm bummed that we got sick afterward because it has meant no rest for me but that couldn't be helped.  
My only regret for homebirth is that I didn't begin birthing babies at home many babies ago.  I don't have too many opportunities left to work with Beth before I age out of the system, haha.

Birth can be very empowering
and it is so very important to listen to, trust, and respect a woman during childbirth.
I have lived through a traumatic birth experience where I was ignored and disrespected among other things.
It was one of the most damaging experiences of my life.
I wish all women, regardless of where they birth, could experience what I did with Cecelia's birth.
Birth is very precious to me and having people I trust attend me during that time was very healing.
The midwifery model of care trusts that birth is a normal life event--not a catastrophe waiting to happen--
that a woman's body is capable of birth and that women and their spouses are responsible for their decisions during pregnancy and childbirth.
Normal, physiological birth was allowed to proceed without interference or intervention
and that is what was so empowering for me.

The only things I would change if I could would be the stomach flu and the tongue-tie! haha!
I felt very safe at home; I felt cared for and like a respected part of the birth process, not just a person out of whom a baby must come.
It was very natural for both Dennis and me to labor, birth,
and meet our new baby here in our home.

Some pictures of Cece's first days...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Not Divided, But Mulitplied

It is one of motherhood's greatest miracles
that my heart is not divided by eleven
but multiplied by it instead.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

She's Here!

Cecelia Corinne arrived at 7:32 pm last night at home like we planned. 
She weighed 8 lbs 12 oz and was 20 3/4 inches long. 
Her story later!!.
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