April 20, 2011

Thoughts On Balance

I've been thinking a lot about balance lately. It started because I have been unsuccessfully trying to resurrect my yoga practice for months now. While marinating on why, I realized I am having difficultly reconciling time for "my" things (writing, yoga...brushing my teeth) with my Beckett time, my time with H and my time for household things.

I am very lucky. I have a total 50/50 partner in H and I work from the house, although on a 9 to 5 type of schedule, not at my leisure. I'm very good at compartmentalizing that time in my day. When I'm working, I'm working. I may occasionally pop into the other room to see Beckett performing his latest developmental feat or just kiss his blond head, but for the most part I stay in my office with the door shut. This is not my time, someone is paying me to do a job.

Without really meaning to I have put "my" things on lowest priority. If Beckett is throwing a fit before bed and I know only nursing will calm him, but I haven't washed my face yet, I skip it. If he's had a late nap and just won't go down for the evening. I play with him, no matter what else I had planned. I'm cool with that. It's what mom's do.

But where is the line? What can I forgo to write a blog or fit in a yoga class? The dishes? Grocery shopping? Sleep? And is it selfish to even want to have more me time, when I have an amazing life already? I always feel like it implies that H needs to pick up the slack and that makes me feel guilty.

I'm not the super-mom type. I mean really, I am in awe of those women who have three kids, a career that involves client meetings, business suits and STILL make it to the gym four times a week. I'm assuming there is a lot of take out involved, perhaps hired help. I'm okay with not being that personality type. I just have to figure out exactly what type I am now that my priorities have shifted.

I do know being Beckett's mom is at the top of the list, right up there with being H's best friend and partner. But then what? And where do I fit it in? Is (almost) 32 super late to be contemplating all this?

Did I mention the yoga studio is across the street? And yet I haven't even made it through the door.
April 11, 2011

Scenes From the Weekend - Miracle Blankets & Baby Ice Cream


We had April showers for much of last week, but yesterday was lovely - 80 and sunny. A perfect day for the first cook out of the year (and Beckett's first ever!). Although our friends who threw it don't have children, they were well prepared for their tiny guests. A newly installed tree swing and sliced grapes for the toddlers and baby friendly ice cream! More on that in a moment.

I love meeting new people and especially talking with other parents. They always have some insight for us newbies or, in this case, a product recommendation we'd never heard of. When one of the moms I met this weekend told me that the secret to her child sleeping for 8 hours a night was the Miracle Blanket, I immediately Googled it. It's sort of like the Fort Knox of swaddling blankets. She even went home and got her's to show me how it worked she loves it so much.

We are considering it for Beckett, who at 6 months, should be out of a swaddle, but without one he wakes his self up by rubbing his eyes. (Any one have any advice on stopping that, please, please comment.) So the Miracle Blanket may be just the thing. 

Our host, Mark, whipped out a baby friendly dessert for the kiddos that Beckett loved. He's just beginning solids, but bananas have been high on the list for weeks now. So this "ice cream" was a huge hit.  Mark shared the recipie with me, which I will pass along to you.

Peel one or several bananas. Freeze. Puree in blender. That's it! Not too complicated right?

I have heard of doing this before, as a vegan treat, but never even thought about applying it to the baby food list. Beckett was totally interested in the texture and the cold in his mouth. He couldn't get enough. We'll have to keep a few bananas in the freezer for an occasional special treat.

Thanks Mark & Meghan for a great day!
April 5, 2011

Birth Story - Beckett Laughlin - Part 2

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As soon as the nurse proclaimed that we had a head full of hair and this was happening - now! - plugs were yanked out of the wall and I was wheeled to a labor and delivery room, leaving Hillary in the dust. I yelled to him as I was pushed down the hall. Call my mom...and Nicole!

I was elated! It was labor! I didn't have to go through all of this again. It was short in labor terms, but it was the longest night of my life. Almost non stop pain and too much uncertainty. Our midwife got there just in time and proclaimed she couldn't believe we were in labor, she thought for sure she was coming in for an emergency C-section based on her info from the nurses. Our doula arrived in no time and was right there encouraging me and taking photos - which we'd agreed upon beforehand.

I pushed for about 50 minutes. H was a champ. He knew exactly what I needed without me saying it and I didn't get annoyed with him even once. I've been told I was in good spirits and even joked with the nurses in between pushes. I do remember making fun of H, but the rest is pretty fuzzy.

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I remember being very focused and knowing that if I could just get through that part...it would be the hardest, but it was almost over. Then I had a baby on my chest. His little head was so cone shaped H said he looked like Marge Simpson. He was kind of blueish. I think my first words to him, my son, were, "Hello! Who are you?" And he has been revealing exactly who that is to us ever since.

I held him for a few moments while post birth things took place. People swirled around us. H and I just stared at our 6 pound, 4 ounce lil' Beckett. He was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen. Then I began to feel it. That all too familiar feeling of the walls closing in and I knew I was going to pass out. I had noticed quite a bit of blood loss in the moments after delivery, but I had no idea how much was supposed to come with the afterbirth. Turns out, not as much as I was losing.

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I told Hillary he better take the baby because I needed to pass out now. As soon as Becks was out of my arms I lost consciousness. It was a post-natal hemorrhage because my body was expecting more of a slow build up instead of the lightening speed that it took to bring B into the world.  I don't think I was out long and some Pitocin to help everything contract was all it took to get me right again. I was fine with interventions now that Beckett was on the outside. Morphine drip? Oh, I have to be in pain to get one of those...yeah, I knew that, never mind.

We spent two lovely days in the hospital. Less glamorous then the Four Seasons, but my senses were heightened - This chocolate pudding with whip cream is the best thing I've ever tasted. I don't even like pudding! Nothing to do but rest, recover, receive visitors and get to know our little guy. I loved being in the hospital as a non-ill person.

Then we brought him home and the real work started! As much of a surprise as it was, we ended up getting exactly the birth that we wanted. Well, I didn't get my moments of zen, but I did it with no drugs or interventions and we ended up with a perfectly healthy, gorgeous baby boy.

** All photos by Nicole Zirnheld Aldridge - our amazing doula.
April 4, 2011

Birth Story - Beckett Laughlin - Part 1

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I'm introducing a new blog feature here on the Manifesta called The Baby Mommas. They are a group of wonderful women who have all had a baby within the last year, but live very different lives and have different parenting styles. They will be a panel of go-to experts that I'll check in with every few months to see what decisions they are making and what their opinions are on hot parent related topics. I'll be introducing them over the next few months with their birth stories. I thought I would kick it off with Beckett's birth story. Seems fitting since it was his 6 month birthday last week.

Even before I was pregnant I knew I wanted a natural birth - no drugs, no interventions and certainly no C-section. When the time came H and I trained like we were getting ready to run a marathon. We enrolled in a Bradley Method class that was a few hours every Sunday for about 8 weeks. This was no Cliff's Notes version of labor prep. We did our homework and strength exercises. I began appointments with the midwives at a local hospital and we hired a doula. All of this was necessary for me, after all, labor can be just as long and taxing as a marathon and I didn't want to set myself up for failure. If I needed to go a medicated route for the baby's sake or for a reason beyond my control, okay, but I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I finished the race the way I wanted to finish it.

I had a birth plan - I wanted to labor in a warm water bath with dim lights in the room. I wanted to be able to move freely throughout the room and not be tethered to the bed. Nicole, our doula, would make sure we had cool cloths and suggest new positions if things got rough. H would be there as my support and comedy relief. I wanted honey sticks and dove dark chocolate for energy boosts. It would be as relaxing and nurturing as possible.

Becks, however, had his own birth plan, which went something like - get me the hell out of here! Just shy of 37 weeks I suspected I was leaking amniotic fluid. I spoke with my doula, and we waited for contractions to start. After 48 hours, when they hadn't, we went to the hospital. We were sent home. They didn't know what it was, but it was NOT amniotic fluid. Wrong. But that's okay, because if they had discovered that it was amniotic fluid, they would have most likely induced me and that would have been an intervention, which I didn't want. So H and I went home, feeling secure we had three weeks back to put the finishing touches on things before our baby boy arrived.

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My parents were in town for the weekend, we went to dinner, brunch and they left with the promise that as soon as labor started we would call and they would make the five hour trip back down. That evening, a Sunday, I started contractions. They were light and lasted about 8 minutes a piece, so I thought they were braxton hicks - because, as I'd learned, contractions last 1 to 2 minutes in the beginning. We went to bed. Contractions got stronger, so I got up. At about 11:00 p.m. I woke Hilary because the contractions were very strong and very long - lasting up to twenty minutes. When we timed them they were three minutes apart. I just kept thinking - this can't be labor - this is NOT what contractions are like.

We spoke with our doula several times and at about 2:00 a.m. we decided to go to the hospital. I was imediately hooked up to the contraction monitor and the monitor for the baby's heartbeat. The worst part was that I had to lay still for them to get a reading and all I wanted to do was move. The pain was too much to be still. Their monitors were not registering my contractions. And the most frightening part was that they couldn't find the baby's heart beat. It turns out it was because he was so far into the birth canal.

When I arrived at 2:00 a.m. I was 0 cm dialated. All I could think at that moment was SHIT! This is going to be a long ride. After about an hour of them trying to get a reading of the baby's heartbeat they offered me a grape popcicle. I took one look at it and threw up everywhere. I had the shakes and was completely clammy. I thought - these are all the signs of transition. But the nurse asked me what I had eaten that day because food poisioning was going around. Still no one was admiting that I was in labor.

Unfortuneatly I didn't trust my gut. I thought - well they must know what they're talking about. So we didn't call our doula and we didn't call our families. At about 3:30 a.m. they did an ultrasound to check on the baby and still I was strapped to the table. I was in horrible pain - it was like one long contraction at this point. Finally Hillary insisted that I be allowed to stand up. They unstrapped me and I went straight to lean on Hillary. It was a relief, but also brought stronger pain.

I looked at him and said - If this isn't really labor, I'm not sure if I'll be able to handle the real thing. He kissed my forehead and then I leaned on the bed because I felt like I had to push. But no...I can't be pushing, this has to be something else. I was 0 cm not even 2 hours ago. No one had told me that yes, in fact you are in labor. I was still in triage! But there it was again, the urge to push. I went to the bathroom to no avail.

The nurse decided to check me again and low and behold she yelled to a nurse outside of the curtain - I have 10 cm and a head full of hair!

To Be Continued...

**All photos by our wonderful doula - Nicole Zirnheld Aldridge