Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My lovely

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd become the subject of a photography student's project on homebirth. After my friend Ashley finished her project, she came back to our home to do an absolutely breathtaking newborn photo session of our little Penelope Joy. Here are some of my favorites.

Ashley, thank you so so much for taking the time to do this for us. These pictures are such a treasure. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

At last . . .

I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time at the moment, but I wanted to announce the arrival of our latest: Penelope Joy. She arrived after a fast (well, "fast" except for the 3 weeks of practice labor) and furious four-and-a-half-hour labor at home during the night. It was a perfect and beautiful, albeit pretty darn painful and intense experience.

Our biggest baby yet, Penny (I'm going with "Penny," while Paul and Charlie seem to prefer "Pen") weighed in at 9 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 22 1/2 inches long. She's very healthy and pink and nursing like a champ! We're all doing very well, the kids SO excited to have a baby sister. I'm feeling great, though pretty tired. Laboring at night proved to be a very good thing where the other kids were concerned--they just slept right through it! However, the down side is that we were just settling in for naptime as the kids were waking up refreshed and ready to face a new day as always.

There were so many blessings and answers to prayers. I'll get to those when I share my birth story. For now I'll just say I'm so completely blessed and just bubbling over with gratitude. The most amazing gift that God could have given me (along with my brand new daughter and, of course, all of my other children) is my husband. Paul is truly the most incredibly selfless servant of a father and husband that I've ever seen. You really should see this man care for me and the kids like he has, even after being up all night supporting me through labor. I just want to say thank you. Thanks to God and also to Paul for allowing himself to be used as he has.

Penelope, welcome to the world. I can't wait to show you what a wonderful God we serve and what a beautiful world He has allowed you to be born into. Welcome to our family, where we hope to love you as we should, giving you everything. Charlie and Judah, I love you and I hope that you find in Penelope all the love and joy that you have found in each other. Paul, God bless you, my incredible prince of a husband.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sigh . . . still waiting

I'm getting awfully tired of this. I really shouldn't complain, I know, but really I just want to meet my baby! The thing is, the due date has been up in the air this whole pregnancy. If I go merely on dating, as in last menstrual period, taking into account my long cycles, my due date would have been around June 23 or 24. I was inclined to go by this date, considering that I found out on October 29 that I was pregnant and was having such strong symptoms, and that would have made me about 4 weeks gestation, which seemed about right. However, when I had what would have been my 20-week sonogram (20 weeks by those dates), the baby measured just over 18 weeks. But one cannot estimate the age of the baby according to measurements beyond 11 weeks, because all babies grow at different rates once they pass the 11-week mark. Anyway, the ultrasound people don't seem to be able to think analytically and decided that my new and improved due date would be July 4. So my midwife and I talked and decided to split the difference and set the due date smack in the middle of those two due dates at June 29.
Boy am I glad now that we did that. You see, if I want to have this baby at home, I have to do it before the 42-week point. I thought for absolute certain that the baby would come before the end of June, no problem. And here we are. It's July 7, and there is no sign that the baby is coming any time soon.
I've gone into "practice labor" several times the last three weeks or so, and just last Monday, July 4 (which would have made a cool birthday!), we had the entire birthing team here. Contractions started early in the evening on the 3rd, and by 1 AM on the 4th, I was calling my midwife, birth assistant, midwife student, my friend who was on call to help with Charlie and Judah, and my friend who is photographing the birth for her photojournalism project (that's 9 people, including the family, in my 970-square-foot 2-BR condo). Anyway, while contractions had been a minute and a half long and two minutes apart for a couple of hours, for some reason they ended up spreading further and further apart until they pretty much stopped. We called it quits around lunchtime, which was pretty disappointing. I thought that things would pick up later that day, but even now, three days later, there has been little activity other than the Braxton-Hicks contractions that I've had for the last 21 weeks.
Here's why I'm happy: I'm birthing this baby at home, and I have choices and power to decide what happens. When my midwife came to me and suggested that we take a break and have everyone leave so that I could get some real rest, she laid everything on the table and handed the decision to me. She offered that we could reconnect later in the day and try some things like castor oil, etc. and try to push on, or we could just leave things alone and see what happens. I opted for the latter, feeling no real pressure to force this baby to come. While I would LOVE to have birthed the little guy or girl by now, there is no real reason that it has to be. I firmly believe in letting nature take its course (at least until I run into the necessity of birthing in the hospital--I WILL take action to avoid that).
When I think about what may have happened had I chosen to labor and birth in the hospital, I am so thankful! I probably would have ended up being coerced into pitocin to help labor progress, when in actuality, the baby just needs a little more time to "cook," and my body is just preparing a little more for when the time is right. I'm okay with that. And being at home with such an understanding and gentle and knowledgeable group of women gave me such perspective. They aren't rushing me through the birthing process. They recognize this as perfectly natural, and most of all, they recognize my right to make decisions that I (and Paul) feel good about. It's just so lovely that I wish more women realized the value of midwifery.
Now, that's why I'm happy. Here's why I'm frustrated: Frankly, and please forgive me, I'm getting so tired of having the conversation about how dilated I am and why this baby hasn't come yet and can I believe that it's so late. I really wish that I had not shared my due date with anyone, including myself! I know that people love me and are excited, but I just can't talk about it anymore. It has taken me days to write this post because it's just so tiring.
So the lowdown for all of my loved ones: I really feel great, but I get tired easily, as one can imagine. I am sleeping pretty well, except for when the kids come in on occasion and wake me up. I'm not going to discuss my cervix here, 1) because eww and 2) because it really doesn't matter--when labor starts, it takes its own course, and dilation/effacement really matter very little. The baby was estimated at my 41-week sonogram to be about 9 pounds, but it feels a little bigger than that to me. I'm excited about that--I think big babies are actually easier to birth and eat and sleep better once they are born.
There. I think I've hit the highlights of my current status. I really, really do appreciate everyone's concern and excitement. I'll be quite sure to update everyone via email, Facebook, phone, and blog (probably in that order) as soon as there is a little one to introduce. A happy night to all, and keep me in your prayers, if you think about it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

People say the darnedest things

I thought I'd take my mind off what is sure to be more "practice labor" (only because although I've been having somewhat intense contractions every 5-7 minutes for the last hour or so, I have now called my midwife for the headsup, which only seems to slow labor almost immediately), and tell you about some recent conversations I've had with total strangers.

1. This one has happened about six times during the last 4 months or so, ever since I've been visibly pregnant:
Stranger: "When are you due?"
Me: "The end of June."
Stranger: "Well, my birthday is June the 6th, so I think you should have the baby that day."
Variation: "Oh! You should have the baby on July 12th--that's my birthday!" (this one was said just the other day, after I told a woman that I was past my due date)
Now, I don't mean to be cranky, but seriously? Why the heck do I care to have the baby on a COMPLETE STRANGER'S birthday? I mean, the baby IS going to be born on many, many complete strangers' birthday, regardless of what day that is. And really, my own mother's birthday was yesterday--if I had any control over the day that this baby is to be born (since I don't believe in scheduled c-sections or unnecessary inductions, that is), would I not try for the birthday of someone that means a little more to me than the random guy at the local farmers' market?

2. I'm actually having a contraction during this conversation, mind you.
Stranger: "So, when are you due?"
Me: "About a week ago or so."
Stranger: "So that's the stressed-out look on your face?" (Tactful)
Me: "Um, I guess so."
Stranger: "Pizza helps."
Me: "Excuse me? Like, pizza helps with stress? Or pizza helps with what exactly?"
Stranger: "Both of my kids were born two days after my wife ate pizza."
Now, there's some scientific proof. Once again, some random guy's wife ate pizza and then TWO DAYS later she gave birth. But that's not all! It happened TWICE! Amazing results! Even if she does eat pizza every other day during a pregnancy, who knew?

3. Stranger: "So, just those two kids, plus the one you're carrying?"
Me: "Yes."
Stranger: "You need four more."
Me: "Why's that?"
Stranger: "Because I have seven, so you need seven."
So, nevermind that I have two children in heaven, I know this guy doesn't know that, and I'm not offended by it. But basically because this random guy taking my order at Panera has seven children, I'm supposed to have seven children? Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have that many someday, if God wills it. But it won't be because Chuck the bagel guy thinks his kids are great, which I'm sure they are.

I know that people mean well and that they are only trying to relate and be friendly. It really is okay. I've said some pretty stupid things during my time here on earth as well. I just find it unbelievably entertaining sometimes.