12 days later

You know you're postpartum when you cry over your nail polish.  Not just cry, but feel slightly nauseated and confused and actually moved by the gravity of the whole nail polish situation.

A week before Hal was born, I got a manicure.  I told everyone in the salon how my due date was coming up and my heart felt all toasty and warm while picking out the color, knowing this manicure would last until -- past -- when the baby arrived.  This is the nail polish I will wear when I am in labor and I will be wearing it when my son is born, I smiled at the OPI bottle.  And all of that seemed like a big deal.  Like, A Big Deal. A conclusion. 

Due to a combination of hormones and that persistent thing called time, I had to force myself to take off the remnants of that manicure yesterday.  It was stupid hard.  Like (sob sob) saying goodbye to pregnancy, to the anticipation, to the wondering when and how.  It was like running full force and stopping on a dime. 

(Yes, I am still talking about removing the nail polish.  I know.  I told you.  It's the hormones and I simply cannot help myself.)

But then it was also realizing Hal is only 12 days old.

I am still looking forward forward forward, I just get to mix it with memories of the past now.  Pregnancy and birth and all of that other stuff are way over. This is the real beginning. I get to raise Hal and I am (I pray) going to change my nail polish a hundred thousand times with this kid around.


So I took off my (formerly) chic black manicure and painted my nails navy blue.  From black to navy.  Nothing drastic.  Just a little teensy bit different and brighter than they were two weeks ago. Like me.


Your comments on my birth story mean so much to me.  I went back and forth before I posted it, trying to decide how much detail to give and how much I wanted to put out there.  Reading homebirth stories was a crucial part of my birth preparation so I ultimately decided that I should contribute my nickel to that pot.  Thank you so much for your love and support.  Xs and Os to you all.


the details, part 2

Very early on labor, I put "A Ghost Is Born" on through the iPod speaker.  We listened to it over and over while I labored.  The songs will forever remind me of Hal's birth.  Half of it's you, half is me.  Listen while you read for full effect! Yay technology!

This is part 2 of my home birth story.  Part 1 is here.


At 12:30ish I settled back into the tub and tried to let go of the unknowns. My midwife kept assuring me that even though I was totally dilated (minus that stubborn lip) I didn't need to worry about pushing or how long it was going to take, that I needed to relax and get through the contractions one at a time.  And rest.

"Just listen to your body, Erin," she said, "you will know what to do."  I halfway believed her and halfway thought that it all sounded like a bunch of BS and could someone please tell me exactly when the baby was going to come out and how on Earth I was supposed to know the baby and my body were ready for me to push if they hadn't gotten themselves ready in the last two hours of being complete? What exactly were they waiting for, anyway?  What if they were never ready?

After a little bit of time in the tub and a little bit of Rescue Remedy, the contractions spaced back out to every two minutes, which was wonderful.  I started relaxing deeper and deeper, and then I began to have the strangest most powerful feeling wash over me during each break.  I would very nearly go to sleep, my thoughts blowing around until they landed on something or other of no importance at all.  I would think very calmly and clearly about ideas and situations that had nothing to do with labor.  In fact, I would often TOTALLY FORGET I was in labor. Totally forget.  When a contraction would start up again I would blow and vocalize and sometimes lose control, yelling, "I don't know how much longer I can do this," and, "Baby, please come out already!" but the second it was over my head went down, resting and dream-thinking about life things.

At two o'clock, after hours of samesamesamesame, my body began doing something new.  I started to get this sharp funny feeling at the end of each contraction, almost like shocks, and I would grab the side of the tub to brace myself.   And then, out of nowhere, I knew I wanted to push.  So I pushed.  He was moving down, he was coming, and I knew it.  I just knew it. The midwife said I should go to the side of the tub and lean back on Luke.  I did, and then I pushed like crazy.  I pushed right past the pain, right past the feeling that I was going to split into a million pieces, and then miracle of miracles, his sweet little head was out. I reached down and felt it there and then paused for just a moment -- the cord was wrapped around his neck and needed to be loosened -- and then, at 2:11, one more push.  There he was.  All of him.  My baby.  Sweet little boy.  The best feeling in the whole world.


It turned out his head had been tilted, not applying pressure to my entire cervix.  Without pressure from his head, the stubborn cervical lip just couldn't get the message that it needed to go away  And it never did go away -- I pushed him over it when the time was right.  Why the time was right at 2:11 and not earlier, when I had tried to force it, I don't know.  But at 2:11 I instinctively knew what to do, just like the midwife had promised I would.

The funny thing is that I never had any urge to push with Alice.  The nurses in the hospital coached me into pushing hard, scary hard, for two and a half hours before she came out with assistance from my doctor.  I am so grateful that I spent the two and a half hours before Hal was born sitting in a tub in my bedroom, listening to Wilco, relaxing more deeply than I ever have in my life.  I am so glad that the midwife knew that I would know when it was time.  She didn't force anything.  She checked Hal's heartrate (it was always perfect) and told me I was doing well, but that was that.  And he totally came out.  He came out!  I got him out.  It was amazing.



the details, part 1

First of thank you all so so much for your congratulations.  I keep reading your comments over and over on my iPod while I'm nursing and smiling at them.  You guys are seriously the best.

And now, for the those of you who are down with reading the words "cervix" and "contractions" ten zillion times over the course of several paragraphs...


Now that I have had three babies I know how I labor; my "early labor" is always spread out over the course of a few weeks, hard spells of contractions coming for an hour or so at a time and then disappearing, ultimately leaving me somewhere around 4cm dilated -- and waiting.  Then one morning - poof!- I am in hard and fast active labor.

On my due date, I had a midwife appointment.  I asked her to check me and she said I was easily 4cm, then decided I was 5cm.  FIVE centimeters!  I know it sounds like cheating to be that dilated when not in active labor, but trust me, I worked for that progress.  I just worked for it a little bit at a time.

Around 5:30 the next morning, I woke up with contractions that I had to hum through.  They were hard and evenly spaced, but I expected them to go away like usual.  By 7:30 they still weren't gone and I told Luke I was having contractions but to go to work.  At 8:30 I called my mom and said maybe she should come get the kids.  I had Luke come home from work.  I called the midwife and told her maybe today was the day.  It's funny in retrospect how in denial I was.  During contractions I was 100% convinced I was in labor -- they were really hard and required lots of vocalizing and were rapidly getting closer together and harder to handle.  But during the breaks I felt so normal that I would talk myself back into thinking they could still go away.  Silly me.

I tried to hold it together in front of the kids as my mom picked them up around 9:30, but as soon as they were out of the driveway I went straight into transition. It was just me and Luke and Wilco at that point, and I felt like I was handling things pretty well.  It was hard hard labor, but I got in the tub and relaxed during the breaks. I made lots of noise during the not-breaks.  The midwife arrived a little after 10:00 and I asked her to check me so I could know how far I had to go.  She quickly checked and said I was just about complete.  Hooray!  Complete!  I mentally high-fived myself and was thinking I could have the baby really soon, maybe even around 10:30 -- the time Alice was born two years (minus one day) earlier. My midwife told me to just relax, that I was doing really well, to keep doing what I was doing, to listen to my body and to push if I felt the urge.  But I didn't feel the urge.

Transition went on.

By noon I was getting discouraged.  I kept thinking back to my labor with Alice, how the contractions got so much less intense after I was dilated to 10cm, and I was wondering why that wasn't happening this time. The contractions were incredibly intense and close together, but baby's head wasn't moving down and I didn't feel any urge to push him out yet.  The midwife suggested that I take advantage of gravity, and helped me get into the optimal positions to do so. We tried a few things, and then I walked around for a while, holding onto Luke during contractions.  I asked her check me again and tell me if the baby had moved down at all.  I so badly wanted to hear some kind of progress, just for the encouragement.  She checked and broke the news that I was still not totally complete, and was pretty much in the same shape I had been in two hours ago when she had arrived.   I had a cervical lip -- a tiny piece of cervix that wasn't getting smaller, even though the rest was totally gone.  She said she could either try to hold it out of the way so I could push the baby past it, or I could wait.  Waiting was better, she said.  We didn't want the lip to swell and if I didn't have the urge to push I probably wasn't ready, but IF it worked, the baby would be born and we could rest.  Of course I had been in transitiony labor for several hours at this point and was really desperate to GET the baby OUT, so we did a little trial of pushing with her holding it out of the way.  It didn't work.  And it hurt.  A lot.  The lip started to swell.  A lot. She put some anti-inflammatory somethingorother on it and had me get as comfortable as I could in the tub.

And now, she said, you try to rest. 



And now my sweet baby is awake.  I will finish the story as soon as I get the chance. I don't want to forget a thing about it.


meet hal

Yesterday I had a baby. 


Harrison Dale was born at 2:11pm, at home, in the birth tub.  The labor and delivery were wild.  He is perfect. We love him.  We are calling him Hal.


I will write more about it soon, but right now I am tiiiiired.  I know you understand.

Two years ago today, I had a baby.
A sweet little girl baby.  Happy second birthday to my Alice Vivian.
She is smiles and light and sweetness all the time.  She makes us happy every single day.



things my family said this weekend

"Mama, no, I need the seatbelt ON."
-Rather forcefully wrapping my arm around her waist as I rocked her to sleep.

"Oh no Mama, I broke Target!"
-Looking very sadly at a piece of plastic she pulled off of the shopping cart.

"Mama, I wuv you.  I wuv you mama mmmmm....  I wuv you, too."
-She says this all the time.  She is made of sugar.

"Oooh, fanks mama!  Fank you, I wuv it!  I try it, I like it!"
-Her words to me as I find her with the Hello Kitty nightgown that was supposed to be a birthday present.

"Wow, this is just like the timer Ethan and Kai have! I'm assuming they went to Chick-fil-a too."
-Excitement over the 30-second timer that came as his Chick-fil-a Kid Meal prize.  
I just can't get over how he uses words like "assuming" and "referring" and "apparently" correctly.  When did he grow up?

"This is because I am DEFINITELY going to preschool... and this is because my sister Alice is having a birthday this week and she LOVES Hello Kitty... and THIS is because my mom is having a baby..."
-Putting items on the Target conveyor belt and giving the cashier a little more information than she needed about our purchases.

"I'm thinking of writing a book about raising these kids and I need your help with a title.  Should I call it Lunatic Angels or Joy Demons?
- I think Lunatic Angels.


august (and everything after)

A year ago today, we were waiting at the bedside of my Papa, Dale.  We knew he was going to be leaving our world very soon but we didn't know exactly when.  A week?  Two weeks?  Three days?  All we had to go by were vague physical signposts and the stuff they said in the hospice book.  At the time I remember being bothered by the odd, sad, unsettling similarity to waiting for a new baby.

I couldn't have planned it this way if I'd tried, but I'm 39 weeks pregnant today, and a baby is coming, though we don't know exactly when.  As I wait and smile over these last exciting days wondering if it will be two weeks or three days, I can't stop myself from reliving last August.

It was August 10th, a year ago yesterday, that Papa asked to hold Alice.  He could only sort-of whisper and he was totally paralyzed and weighed less than 100 pounds, but he made it clear that he wanted to hold Alice.  We put her on his lap and put his hands on her fat thighs so he could feel her chub.  He sat there and teared up and kind of smiled.  We stood around him holding our breath and holding his arms, holding her up, and smiling at the two of them. It was the single most heartbreaking moment of my life, so far.  He died two days later.

I want to write, I want to socialize, I want to be part of the world, but I am totally in my own little place and I can't help it.  I'm happy and introspective and busying myself around the house.  I'm alternately full of energy and totally exhausted and I can't believe it, but we are to the part where we wait.
We are waiting.
We are going to have a baby, very very soon.
And his middle name will be Dale.



the great needle-in-a-haystack-gut-trusting-straw-grabbing experiment

I am relieved that all of this isn't new anymore.

I remember when I only had Clark and every bad day hit me like a wave.  I worried so much about doing things "right" that day or week or month, because I thought, back then, that doing things "right" meant that I could be one of those "good moms".  Every teensy decision was fact-checked, worried over, and eventually swallowed.  Part of this was due to insecurity over my young age (23), and part of it was just new-mom jitters.  Someone out there knew if I was doing a "good" job, I was sure of it, and the answer was probably tucked into the pediatrician's file folder.

Now that I have parented through a few stages I can say with total certainty that whether or not I am intentionally striving for balance, balance will always find me.  The days my kids eat all organic and play hard and sleep hard and use their brains and grow and shine (good mom!) will be balanced out, whether I like it or not, by plenty of processed junk and television and tantrums (bad mom!).  And the housework!  There are stretches where I somehow swoop in and keep my house perfectly clean, each and every day, for weeks or months at a time.  There are also days (weeks, months) where the thought of plugging in the vacuum cleaner or folding and putting away a single basket of clothes makes me want to throw something.

The thing I try to tell myself, whether things are up or down:  the bad days don't mean I'm bad and the good days don't mean I'm good.  I'm just here, loving my kids as hard as I can and giving this crazy mom-ing thing my all.  On the days it is easy AND on the days it makes me want to throw things.  Things will get easier and  things will get harder.  My job is to do my best.

The other morning I tried to nap with my kids.  "Let mommy close her eyes for just ten minutes," I begged.  I turned on cartoons and tucked them in next to me with sippy cups and shut my eyes.  Fifteen minutes later I woke up (I had been sleeping so hard I was dreaming) to find the kids cracking eggs in my bed.  Go ahead and read that sentence again.  THEY HAD A CARTON OF EGGS. IN MY BED.  THEY WERE CRACKING THEM OPEN. IN MY BED.  My brain went blank with frustration.  Cue the wanting to throw things feeling.  I couldn't help wondering how other moms would handle a situation like that?  But I had to shrug the question away and just do what I thought was right.  No one can prepare you for this stuff.  No one has the same kids, husband, life, personality, etc. etc.  No one can do this for me, tell me how to do it, or grade me.  So I just did what I thought was right. 

These (crazy wonderful smart persistent) little people of mine aren't good or bad either.  They are little people.  We work through a lot of human nature mixed with some patience and some impatience and good choices and bad choices and loads of amazing breathtaking personality.  There are some things that work for us and some things that don't, and it takes a whole lot of needle-in-a-haystack-gut-trusting-straw-grabbing experimentation to separate the two. 


I do not feel ready to have this third baby.
At all.

I am standing right on the edge and shaking my head, laughing at the idea of jumping off.
I keep thinking, if only I had six more months, but I do not have six more months.
I am 38 weeks pregnant.  I may not have six more days.

I think I am writing this post so I can read it next month when life is crazy and my house is not as clean as it is right now and feel reassured.

And maybe (hopefully) it can reassure some of you too.