May 29, 2009

Another New Family Member...

I am now the proud owner of a KitchenAid Professional 600 stand mixer. Ironically enough, according to the manual, the Professional 600 is intended only for home use. For me this is no problem, as I merely dabble in the culinary arts; I do not intend to gain any sort of monetary compensation as a result of my baking. I think they named it "Professional" due to the industrial noise level created by the all-metal gears. When it is working, you know it--small children everywhere will come running when I bake cookies.

The Cat Daddy found this particular mixer via KitchenAid's webpage of refurbished items. Refurbs usually include items that have been returned for minor repairs (plastic gears, for example). KitchenAid might send out a new mixer for expediency, and then repair the broken one. So then they have a perfectly functioning mixer that they cannot sell as new, so they give it a 6 month limited warranty and slash the price. Excellent deals to be found, those refurbs.

To the right of the mixer is my second attempt at divinity. My first attempt, as you may recall, ended tragically in the death of the best electric hand mixer in history, and resulted in a big bowl of marshmallow cream. Divinity, however, has a different consistency than marshmallow cream; more along the line of whipped drywall mud. For a first-ish attempt it turned out great--most definitely edible--but I thought it was still a little too marshmallowy. So from here I can test & tweak, and maybe figure out how to make it look better than little scoops of joint compound while I'm at it...

May 25, 2009

Best Ever Home Birth Part III...

Part I Part II

The pool soon became a moot point. The contractions were very close together, and I was moving toward pushing. I was very much in my own world, working through the contractions, and my body sort of started pushing for me. Janet must have been watching me closely, because she came over behind me (I was still on hands & knees), and I said, “I might be pooping.” Yes friends, I am among the estimated 30% of women who tend to poop in labor. It happened with His Highness as well. Why I always feel the need to confirm this I have no idea, but I had a similar conversation when His Highness was born. Anyway, Janet said, “That’s alright, go right ahead,” and that’s all I’m saying about that. Then I felt that the baby was either crowning or darn close. So I yelled. I don’t think I was panicking…I remember being surprised to find that the baby was right there, and feeling like I needed that extra oomph to get through it. Then I heard, “OK the baby’s going to crown with the next contraction, OK the head is out, OK the baby is here.” I don’t know, but it might have been that quick. I thought “I can tell the baby’s here because it doesn’t hurt anymore,” but I think I said something entirely boring, like “Good.” Faith helped me turn over w/o disturbing the cord, and they handed him to me. One of them had said “He’s a little peanut,” and as I took him I said, “Oh my gosh you’re tiny!” I heard Faith say “Time of birth 6:35.”

I held the baby while Janet and Faith were bustling around me. I don’t know what they were saying at first, but I started paying attention again within a few minutes and heard them saying Apgar score types of things, and somewhere in there they stuck a thermometer under his arm, and were listening to his respiration (and pulse?) with the stethoscope. They commented that while he didn’t cry he was pink, and breathing, and his lungs sounded nice & clear, so he was just a mellow baby. I checked for boy parts, just to be sure.

No, the Cat Daddy didn’t make it back in time! The sitter lives on base, which is a 15-20 minute drive. Add in the drop off time and there’s no way he could’ve been back by 6:35. He came in very shortly after—he said the clock read 6:40 when he got there. He breezed in the door and said, “OK I’m back, you can give birth now!” and I looked at him and said, “I already did.” He looked at me (holding the baby) and asked, “Where’s the baby?” and I replied, “Right here, I’m holding him.” I would love to have a photo of his expression as he realized that it was done. Never have I surprised him like that. It was great.

Janet and Faith had me sit on the birth stool to wait for the placenta to come. This was not my favorite, as the contractions were more noticeable than I remember with His Highness (I’ve heard that is common). I remember feeling very whiny about wanting them to stop. I teased the Cat Daddy that he was in time to see the placenta come out. He hung out in the vicinity, but stayed where he was sure NOT to see the placenta come out. The placenta came out either right before or right after Janet cut the cord (she waited for it to stop pulsating). A disgusting blob into my 4 quart Emerilware pot. Apparently for a placenta it looked good—all intact and such. That was all I needed to know. Blech.

Shortly after this (right after?) Janet said, “OK, time for you to go to bed,” so we all proceeded to get me to bed. Here Janet & Faith looked me over and proclaimed me a superstar birther (or something like that—that’s how I felt, anyway). Janet was saying that the baby had never turned back—he had actually come out with his head sideways, and it was so quick that there was no molding. In her words His Highness had “paved the way” (he had been 8 lbs 9 oz, the new one was 6 lbs 12 oz). Yay for him!

After all this and in no particular order--Janet & Faith helped us get started with nursing, and the Cat Daddy made a big breakfast for everyone. Yum. If I hadn’t just given birth, I’d have said that I felt tired only because I’d been up since 1am. I felt better than I’d felt at all since we arrived in Cheyenne. No heartburn, queasies, or anything. We called the fam to let them know the baby was here and all was well. Janet hung out with me while she did paperwork, or texted, or something, while the Cat Daddy and Faith set about emptying the pool. It took some doing to get the drill pump to work, and even then it was slower than we’d expected it to be, but whatever. The pool got emptied. They also pulled up & tossed all the plastic, started laundry, etc. They caught Zoe getting into the placenta--ew. This was the grossest of the gross for the day. Faith called her a “dirty bird,” a nickname which I think has stuck. Faith told us stories about gross experiences with pool-emptying. We were equally amused (because she told them with great panache and they were hilarious), horrified (because they were, in fact, gross), and grateful (that they didn’t happen to us).

Eventually Janet decided that I would need a couple stitches for a very small tear (Faith called it a skid mark—nice). The worst part of the entire day was the local anesthetic because it involved needles and because it STUNG. But Janet and Faith both know my needle issues and were way cool about it, so it wasn’t so bad. They were talking during this time, and at one point Janet said something about “…and here we have our first knot,” which makes me laugh because it sounded like they were at a scout meeting or something.

After all this excitement, it was time for the weighing and measuring. Janet undressed the baby and found that he’d had a healthy poop already. Ah, the milestones of the neonate! The Cat Daddy took lots of pics, and I had great fun getting to be right there to watch it all (as opposed to lying down across the room). Faith (who is also a nurse, doula, and lactation consultant) gave the baby the Vitamin K shot, which of course made him cry, so there was his healthy cry.

All in all, the baby and I were sound as a pound and good to go. Except for the unused, deflated kiddie pool airing out on the porch, I don’t think you’d have known anything out of the ordinary had happened that day. So Janet and Faith went on their way for the day (to return the next day, and three days after that).

I take the credit for placing myself where I knew I’d be the most relaxed—at home. Beyond that, I am just plain grateful for how smoothly everything went. I loved not having to worry about packing or getting in the car to go anywhere. I loved laboring amid my own space and having access to all my own stuff. I loved feeling like I was in charge, could do what was most comfortable for me, and didn’t have to ask ‘permission’ to do certain things (eating, for example). I felt safe & supported, but not intruded upon. I felt like a rock star for the day. I loved that such a major event felt, to some extent, like no big deal. It felt seamless to me—we have our new kiddo, and here he is; he’s in our family now, and here we go.

That’s all to say it was fantastc--all I dreamed and more. I can't say enough good about the experience. Rock on...

May 14, 2009

Personal Space...

One thing we're working on with His Highness lately is the concept of personal space. It's necessary, since we all want the new baby to survive until he's old enough to defend himself. But it is rather unfortunate timing. We have to try to word things sensitively so as not to create a feeling of personal rejection...

"We do not smush our brother."

"Please get off of your brother."

"Please unwrap your octopus body from Mommy."

"We do not poke our brother's eyes."

"Please give Mommy/your brother room to breathe."

"Mommy needs a personal bubble."

"I love you, but I need some space." (sounds like I'm breaking up with him, poor kid)

It'll catch on eventually...

May 13, 2009

A Momentary Break...

...from the home birth story. The Cat Daddy thinks all the gory details are TMI, but I'm thinking my male readership will come back when I move on to other topics. Which will be soon; I'm almost done.

Today, however, I'm going to talk about my very cool grandma. She had breast cancer a few years ago. She's been doing great, but goes in every 6 months or so for checks and rechecks and such. In April she checked out great. Last week she went in for blood pressure-related tests and was very quickly scheduled for a cat scan because one of the x-rays, or scans, or something came out really bad. She was given very little info at first, then on Monday was told that basically it was a disaster and the situation was dire, and they were calling in an oncologist, and they were shocked that no one had told her any of this. My mom was there with her & asked some questions, among them wondering if there could be some mixup to explain such a sudden and drastic change in the situation. No one had any answers for her, partly because the doc who read the disastrous scan is on vacation until next week.

We had to have some hard conversations and make some difficult contingency plans. In some ways it was good to think these things thru, but it overwhelmed me with feelings & memories, and I felt rather small & fragile to be dealing with such heavy things.

And then the cat scan was yesterday, and it came back clean. Completely normal. There was indeed a mixup in the records. Big relief for us, but unfortunately someone else is running around completely unaware that they are in seriously bad shape. And unfortunately the hospital is having a hard time figuring out who that someone is, since the doc they need to talk to is still on vacay.

On one hand, statistically this sort of mistake is going to happen at some point--no person or institution is perfect. On the other it's easy to wonder who dropped the ball and how exactly they managed to determine that one person's test results belonged to someone else entirely. My mom is going to register a complaint. I'm going to call the entire place stupid buttheads and call it a day...

May 11, 2009

Best Ever Home Birth Part II...

Part I Part III

Wednesday (April 8)—1-ish am...

So then my water broke. I was unsure at first if that was truly what it was, but my body helped me out by leaking some more fluid, and oh good, there’s some bloody show (ew). Yep, water broken, labor time.

I had some lingering denial to deal with. I’d done such a good job of not getting my hopes up for an early labor, that it came as a great surprise to find that very thing happening. I would say I was shocked, except that at 39 weeks it was entirely reasonable for me to be in labor.

I went back to bed and looked at the clock—1:13 am. Dangit. I did NOT want to have to call the midwife in the middle of the night, even though she’d assured me a million times that that was exactly what she wanted me to do, especially since she would be driving 2 hours to get to me.

I had not felt any contractions yet, so I decided to wait a little while to see what happened, and try to get some sleep if I could. I couldn’t. I was shaking, either from adrenaline or labor hormones; probably both. I really wasn’t feeling anything, except maybe a little crampy, but then it went away after half a minute or so, and—DUH. So I looked at the clock again and it was around 1:20.

Now I was satisfied that I was, indeed, in labor. I still felt bad about calling my midwife (I’m a dork; I know), so I decided to time a few contractions and call her at 2 am. So I did. They were coming reliably at 6 minutes apart, lasting 30-40 seconds, and they were still fairly easy, but definitely more than the initial crampy feeling. Then I called the midwife. She asked a couple questions & then said she & her assistant would head our way. I tried to lie down & see if I could sleep any more, but ended up going out to the living room to sit on the fitness ball…which had become a birthing ball for the day.

I had not awakened the Cat Daddy yet. I wanted to let him sleep as long as possible. So I sat on the ball and timed contractions, which to me made the time go really fast. Around 3:30 I finally decided that he would not be happy to wake up on his own to find the midwife already there, so I woke him up with, “Dude, I’m in labor.” He looked at me and said, “Are you sure?” and I said, “My water broke, and the contractions are 6 minutes apart, and Janet (the midwife) will be here probably within an hour or so.”

He still had work stuff scheduled the rest of the week. He had worked out a leave plan with his commanders & such, based on the assumption that I would not go into labor until at least the 11th. He said, “So you probably don’t want me to go to my trainer ride this morning,” and I said, “Um, we’re probably going to have a baby today.”

His response was “Oh, shit.” This is exactly what I was thinking. Most women would be ecstatic. I was slightly disappointed that I wouldn’t get to finish the last few things I’d wanted to do that weekend—mostly laundry--and had to suck it up a little about the fact that my plans had been disrupted. I think I kept a reasonable perspective, though. Above all I knew it was time to get to work, so I did.

I went back out to the living room to sit on the ball, and the Cat Daddy made me a PB sandwich to nibble on & then busied himself with setting up the pool and putting down all the sheets of plastic. It was a bonanza of plastic--I could move freely without worrying about the carpet (which we're tearing out anyway, but that's another story).

I had done the test-inflation of the pool and had worked out the particulars…so I helped out by answering a few questions the Cat Daddy had along the way. He had a knack for asking in the middle of contractions, which I found highly annoying, and yet I was pleased that I found it annoying because that meant we were moving right along.

My midwife & her assistant arrived around 5 am. Janet (the midwife) got up to speed with me while Faith (the assistant) set up the gear they’d brought in with them (several bags’ worth--they were ready for anything). By this point the contractions were longer, stronger, and closer together--all good things. In the course of our conversation I said, for lack of better terms, that it felt like I was going to poop out a baby. Janet said that probably meant he was nice & low. Good.

After talking with me, Janet had me lie on the couch to take my vitals and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Everything looked and sounded good; the only thing was that, after weeks and weeks of perfect positioning, the baby had twisted himself so that his back was now facing right instead of slightly-left. Not a catastrophe, but still not ideal. Little booger. I got back on the ball and Janet brought me a snack (vanilla pudding--yum), while Faith refilled my water bottle for me. I didn’t really feel like eating, but I hadn't felt like eating the entire pregnancy, so I kept nibbling, not knowing how much longer I'd be in labor, but knowing that as time went on I would be glad for the extra energy.

Somewhere in there, around 5:30 I think, His Highness woke up and joined us. The Cat Daddy fed him and got him ready to go to the sitter’s (who he had called a little before). Janet suggested that, once His Highness was on his way, I should try getting on hands & knees to encourage the baby to turn back where he had been. The Cat Daddy wasn’t dawdling exactly, but he seemed to be kind of lingering, so Janet told him, “You should go and drop His Highness off because her contractions are really picking up.”

Something to know about Janet—she is one of the calmest people I’ve met. Ever. Everything she said to me or The Cat Daddy was as if we were just hanging out by the pool on a regular day, instead of milling about preparing for a birth at 5 in the morning. So even from her comment to The Cat Daddy I really couldn’t get a read as to what she thought my timeline might be. That, or I was too engrossed in concentration to think about it. Contrast this with Faith, whose personality is more energetic and “up”--she had come up & rubbed my temples while I was on the couch and said, “Yay, you’re having a baby today!” They are like Yin & Yang--it was very fun to watch the two of them work together.

So The Cat Daddy and His Highness were out the door around 6 am. I did a couple of the wiggly exercises Janet suggested to get the baby to twist back to the left. The next contraction came and was more intense than when I’d been sitting on the ball. I told Janet this and said, “That’s probably a good thing, right?” and she said, in a very nonplussed way, “Yes.”

So I went through a few more contractions like this, and it kept getting worse, and I started thinking that I’d really like to get in the pool. It was about half full at the time. Faith and the Cat Daddy had been working on this, first with hot water via the washing machine hookup and then with pots of hot water via the stove. I asked if we could work more on filling the pool because I was really uncomfortable and would like to get in. So Faith threw in the hose and started adding cool water to balance out with the very hot, and fill it up faster so I could get in & hang with the cheerful sea creatures...

May 3, 2009

Best Ever Home Birth Part I...

Part II Part III

A prologue (writing is slow-going these days):

Tuesday (April 7) was a fairly ordinary day. Throughout the day I had some little quirks & discomforts--the type of thing that could be a sign of labor or could be nothing at all—but nothing I hadn’t been feeling all along during the pregnancy, so I didn’t think much except “Boy am I ready to not be pregnant anymore.” By the evening I was tired & grumpy, and had a nasty backache (which I’m not sure was labor related, but either way it took almost 3 weeks for it to go away; stupid backache), so I called it a day & went to bed early. The Cat Daddy said my belly looked weird, and wondered if I felt like labor could be starting, and while I’d been having a TON of Braxton Hicks (light, ‘practice’ contractions), I assured him I just needed some sleep. I had at least a week left, after all...