Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From April to December 2008- in sentences

first sentence of first post of each month starting on april 8, 2008... the day we found out we were pregnant.

April- I was groggy, out of it.

May- So I'm supposed to fly to Louisville next week for leadership training for the General Assembly in June.

June- So, I've arrived at the second trimester!

July- Oh my dear friends and family, if you're still out there reading I thought I should offer an update...

August- These are pictures I've been meaning to post for weeks.

September- I have SO many posts brewing for this blog and no time in which to pour them out.

October- Several weeks ago every night before bed I was reading Ina May Gaskin's guide to childbirth

November- what do you think?

December- Actually, we noticed the drop yesterday.

What a year it has been... these sentences offer no hint of it... ah well.

Happy New Year, all!

thank you

not recommended- saying goodbye to six dear loved ones just over three weeks after giving birth.

recommended- blogging through the grief.

love you all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

a swing is a poor substitute

Kevin has headed off to work for the day. Bless his heart. I don't know how many times Caroline or I woke him up last night- plenty. We had settled into a pretty nice rhythm with his earlier return to work. He would spend some quality time with Caroline while I showered and or ate. And often once Caroline was full, he'd pass her to Aunt Katherine for an hour plus of cuddling to allow me to sleep. Well, the rhythm is changing now. My whole family is over at my friend's house a few miles away, that includes Aunt Katherine. Auntie Mieke was sleeping here last night, and she did some good cuddling with Caroline before bed, but she had to get on an early plane this morning and though I was awake, so was Kevin, and he took her to the airport. But that meant that some of the time for the morning routine got swallowed up... for a good reason and it is o.k. (IT WAS SO WONDERFUL HAVING MIEKE HERE AND HAVING HER PERFORM THE BAPTISM! More on the baptism later...) And there was no one here to pass her off to so I could grab some sleep after some mid-night insomnia that was more than infant care induced. So Kevin brought in the swing that is a hand-me-down from Rebecca and Josh, and for which we got appropriate batteries this weekend (Kevin declares the money spent on those batteries some of the best ever spent) and settled Caroline in it. She is sucking on a pacifier and peacefully swinging away. She's making little noises now and then and so may need some human time soon, and so I should be taking a shower, eating, something.... but I'm too sad. And so I'm blogging.

Katherine begins a very long drive home at noon today. She came in to say goodbye last night and we both lost it. I don't want her to go. I won't pretend it has been entirely easy spending so much time with my sister, the most since childhood and then we didn't want to spend time together, but it has been pure gift. Sharing these early days of parenting with her has been such a gift. There will be three heads to remember Caroline's earliest moments. There have been three pairs of arms to bounce and rock her. There have been three people to sing to her, change her, cuddle her, love on her practically constantly. And there will still be three people for awhile, (my mom will stay until January 9th) but Aunt Katherine lives FAR, FAR away... and it is not uncommon to go a long time without seeing each other. It will be a long time before she will be in the next room and able to take Caroline for a few minutes or a few hours. And I'm weeping.

Because as nice as it is for Caroline to be content in her swing, it felt so much better to have her content (or even angry) in Katherine's arms.

Katherine doesn't want me to think like this, but I honestly don't think that I would have successfully birthed Caroline at home if she hadn't been here. I honestly believe her interventions moved the birth along every time it threatened to stall, and her interventions eventually lead to the crowning and birthing so long awaited. She is bothered that I think that because she wants me to know that it was by my strength that I brought Caroline into this world. But I know in my bones it was by OUR strength. By the combined strength of everyone in that room, but especially by Kevin, Katherine, and me. And God, of course.

More needs to be written on our decision to birth at home, and on the part that Katherine played in that. A conversation with Mieke made me realize I haven't written much about that. But for now I just need to share how sad and how grateful I am. This is going to be a hard day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

unpredictable baby

We're in the midst of a long, middle-of-the-night feeding right now. These used to be standard. Used to be... the child has been on earth for 3 weeks and I'm talking used to be. She's been relatively calm since waking up at 2:30, just a few moments of frustration or bleating, but she slept three hours prior, and she's been busy eating for nearly a full hour now. Not last night, but several nights before we had long stretches where she was inconsolable. She'd eat a bit, but then get all cranked up and daddy would have to take her and try to calm her, or I'd have to get out of bed and into the glider and run through a battery of songs. Friday she was awake most of the day (unusual) and slept through virtually the whole night. She was grumpy before bed and ended up falling asleep with daddy on the couch. I woke up four hours after having fallen asleep in a pool of breast milk, went and found my little girl who was sound asleep in the crook of daddy's arm. She ate, but she did so sleepily, or rather, while sleeping. Her next feeding three hours later she basically slept through as well. And then... she slept almost all day. Her abuelita, Kev's mom, was concerned that she'd be awake all night after sleeping all day and periodically tried to sing or dance her awake, but... save for a few stretches for eating or interacting... she was out for the day.

So have we been up all night? No... she let us sleep for about 3 hours and then whimpered a bit... and now we're on to the home stretch of an hour long feeding. Daddy changed her when she woke up. So I can just put her back in the co-sleeper when she seems sound asleep.

Her baptism is later this morning. I'm hoping she's cool, calm, and collected... but my girl is totally unpredictable... so... we shall see.

Friday, December 26, 2008

first christmas

Other than looking gorgeous and appearing the perfect sleeping angel while in public as attested to below, what did it involve?

Aunt Katherine, Caroline, and I went to an open house at the home of the friend I made while waiting for my organic Thanksgiving turkey. You have to read the other blog to know the story behind that. Caroline was sound asleep while there and the object of much cooing. We didn't know anyone there, save for the hosts. So we got acquainted with one young family and ate really good food, and then made an early exit for church.

People were beside themselves with glee at the sight of Caroline at church. She continued to sleep peacefully, even after being extracted from layers of bundling. When we arrived the pastor said "Oh good, here's the baby Jesus." I chuckled because I was the baby Jesus my first Christmas on earth. This church doesn't do a pageant or a live nativity. They have a lovely reception the hour before worship and then the 7 p.m. service is a lot like Sunday morning except there is extra special music- a trio of guitar, clarinet and bassoon, a soloist, LOTS of carols to be sung.

There was a children's sermon in which the pastor desired to talk about swaddling. And he asked Kevin, who was then holding sleeping Caroline, to come forward for a demonstration. Now... usually we don't leave home without a swaddling blanket, but... of course... we had left home without a swaddling blanket. So Kev just brought our beautiful girl up to the midst of the kids, sat on the floor with her, and she became a visual of how small Jesus once was. The youngest kids were fascinated with her. The pastor's grandson kept trying to get REALLY close; his mom jumped up to run interference. So, I guess, in a way, Caroline was the baby Jesus for her first Christmas too.

Kevin had met us at church, bringing Katherine's car. Katherine scooted out in her car quickly after the service to see if she could find an open grocery store to pick up some supplies she had forgotten. We closed out the place as I wanted to feed Caroline a bit before heading home. And then, when it was just the pastor and us, and it seemed the pastor was ready to go home, we realized Katherine still had the keys to our car. So... we waited a bit... and then she came back with the keys and we headed home.

We had planned to have what has become a traditional Christmas Eve dinner and dessert in my family home, homemade manicotti and gingerbread, but we decided somewhere along the way to delay the manicotti for Christmas day (and no, my family is not Italian, so this is a funny tradition for us!) We had some very yummy Korean food that had been delivered by a classmate the day before, and that became Christmas Eve dinner. And Katherine was willing to delay the gingerbread as well, but I encouraged her to make it. She had been saying for days that she needs to eat warm gingerbread with applesauce and whipped cream before going to bed on Christmas Eve, and so we did. And it was delicious.

We got a slow start to Christmas day. Eventually Kev made some waffles and we baked some cookies. And we listened to Christmas music much of the day. We opened what presents were under the tree. And we played many rounds of bananagrams, a gift from Caroline's Godmother and Godfather when they visited earlier this fall. None of us had ever played this game before. But it was a good one for the three of us.

Caroline slept through much of the day. We tried out her swing for the first time, only to realize we didn't have the right batteries for it. Now we do. We took turns holding her as we played. We fielded phone calls from loved ones. I turned on the t.v. as I fed her in the evening hoping for "A Christmas Story", but I just missed the marathon on TBS. Sigh.

This boxing day, feast of Stephen, is getting off to a slow start. Kev is cleaning out our car for airport pick-up purposes (and, thank goodness, just because it needs to be done). I have a running list of things that need to be done and things I want to get done before family arrives. And cleaning is at the top of the list. My mom, dad, and brother are scheduled to get in mid-afternoon. Kevin's mom and dad are supposed to get into their motel this evening, but they've had an exhausting few days of travel and we won't see them until tomorrow. Auntie Mieke arrives tomorrow morning. Some church members from the congregation I used to serve will also be checking in sometime in the next two days and will join us for the baptism.

We have some baked goods to share and lots of leftover manicotti... and we have the best Christmas gift ever to pass around. All shall be well.

Oh... and Caroline's godmother and godfather can't make the baptism as they need to be with family far away, but they sent a GORGEOUS song they composed for the occasion. We'll play it at the reception after the service, but it would be wholly appropriate, even, to play it in church. What an exciting day it will be. Caroline will wear the gown that was made for me... and that has been worn by so many babies ever since, all the names are stitched into the hem of the gown. My mom had the job of putting me in my robe at my ordination and she brought out this gown first to talk about having had the privilege of dressing me for my baptism and thus how appropriate it seemed to now dress me for my ordination. Special memory...

Enjoy these twelve days of Christmas all... God is good. All the time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

for unto us a child is given

best. gift. ever.

worth. the. wait.

Merry Christmas to all!

And to all a good night!

Thank you, thank you, Jesus.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Caroline's First Worship (out of the womb)

We worship in two congregations here in our new city. But we haven't been to church since Caroline was born and the Sunday before Caroline was born we only made it to the first of the two services because Kevin had to work at noon (when service two begins) and we had a lot of home preparations to complete. We hope to attend Christmas Eve services at congregation number one, so this Sunday we headed to congregation number two. The volume of worship in congregation number two is much higher, clapping, drumming, amplified music and voices... she slept through much of the two hour plus service. And I recalled that she often was exceedingly still in my womb through these services as well. The volume seemed not to phase her. Katherine, Kevin, and I all took turns with her. I did my best to discretely feed her. But at some point during the sermon Katherine took her out to change her and I followed so to feed her more easily. She was greeted as a "new angel" in the congregation. Folks were respectful and not grabby. We saw folks from congregation number one before the noon service started and several folks brought us gifts they had been carrying around for weeks. Lorraine, you were right. We need only wait for church for cooing. People of all ages were delighted with her.

This coming Sunday, when she is but 23 days old, she will be baptized. Auntie Mieke is coming to officiate, both congregations will participate, and Caroline will meet both sets of grandparents and Uncle Daniel and some friends from the town where we served for the last six years who will be sharing the holiday with family in a suburb of our new city. Twill be a BIG weekend. Trying to get our house in better shape for all the company now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not at all a grey day...

... So for our first big outing post-birth, excluding the middle of night trip to the hospital, we got a taste of spring in December. It was nearly 70 degrees and sunny... meanwhile, in the parts of the world we know much better it was dumping snow.

I packed up the camera to bring with us to document our first outing, and then I left it on the couch. So we just did a quick photo shoot in the evening... some evidence of which you'll find below.

A quick report on the day...

In my alone time with Caroline Grace yesterday morning I got her all dressed and ready to go and discovered that I need to bring order to our bedroom and her belongings a.s.a.p.. From my bed, where I've spent the better part of the past two weeks I can sense some chaos. Out of bed... oh. my. goodness. We need a better system... soon. Or I do at least. Currently I'm the one "J" in the household- we'll see whether Caroline joins my team or not on that one...

So when Aunt Katherine arrived (she's staying at one of my friend's houses now) I said "When we get back I want to work on this room because tomorrow I REALLY want to bake Christmas cookies." She said, "When you get back from TWO doctor's appointments, you're not going to have energy to do ANYTHING."

I hoped she would be wrong.

She was right.

But the doctor's appointments went well. And we survived our first lunch out with a newborn in pretty good style.

We waited for a long time at the o.b., only to have a very quick appointment with him. Pretty standard I guess. Upshot of it all... I'm fine. No fever anymore. No uterine tenderness. No evidence of infection elsewhere in my body. And so far the pro-biotics Katherine purchased for me seem to be warding off nasty side effects. His best guess about what happened is that some trace membrane finally made its way out and brought some infection with it. I guess that makes sense. Most exciting news from the o.b. appt... I'm down 21 pounds from my only other appt with them at 37 weeks. I'm not trying to lose weight yet, at all. But it is coming off. That said... I have a ways to go yet to get back to a healthy weight. But I'm going to keep eating what I feel like eating for awhile yet as I need the calories for breast feeding.

Caroline was very ready to eat by the time I joined her and Aunt Katherine in the waiting room, now empty of anyone else. So I fed her and we changed her and then we went in search of lunch for the big people.

Just before leaving yesterday morning the mail arrived and there was a lovely card from Auntie Nancy to Caroline with a generous bit of cash in it. So Caroline treated us to our first lunch out. I think Auntie Nancy (the officiant at our wedding) would approve. I wanted to go to a great deli and have some matzah ball soup (thanks for the tip, e.j.), but traffic prevented us getting there easily and we likely would have had quite a wait. So we went to a medierranean restaurant across the street from the part of campus on which I spend most of my time (or did this past fall anyhow). I requested a booth and put Caroline's car seat up on the half of the table we didn't need. Katherine wasn't sure this was a good idea, but I swear I've seen other parents do it. She was o.k., content, while we ordered, but then started to get wound up and fussy. So I took her out of the carseat and Katherine said "I don't think that's going to make a difference unless you feed her." "Well then, I'll feed her." I draped a blanket over my shoulder, pulled out the breast, and she ate contendly the whole time we were eating and I don't think anyone's sensibilities were offended. The table worked well to keep her properly position for her latch on so I didn't even have to assist as much as I usually do. Towards the end of the meal Katherine said "I don't think anyone would guess this was your first meal out with your baby." I think she's right. I was surprised we didn't receive more cooing... not while she was buried under the blanket, but while she was visible and adorable as ever in her pretty pink outfit and booties... the young people (students) who passed us, in fact, seemed horrified rather than enchanted. Oh well. Their loss. She'll get cooed over at church and she gets cooed over plenty at home.

So then we headed to the pediatrician. Traffic was RIDICULOUS. It took us 20 minutes to travel 3 miles in a straight line. (Note to self- find alternate route...) But we made it on time and were seen pretty quickly. They weighed her with her diaper on (we've been weighing her buck naked) and she was 8 pounds, 1 ounce. And measurements revealed she has grown 3/4 of an inch, She is currently in the 75th percentile for weight, the 80th percentile for length, and the 90th percentile for head circumference (38 cm as of yesterday). I REALLY like our pediatrician. She spent a fair bit of time with us. She is committed to informing and educating her patient families, but didn't seem at all condescending, I think we really lucked out. She deemed Caroline very healthy, gave us some diaper changing tips, and informed us about open hours at their clinic, but suggested we stay away from the germs at those until Caroline is a bit older. Their office policy is to get sick kids an appt within 24 hours of a call so... seems like they should be quite accessible. She also urged us to call for advice any time at all, especially in these first two months.

Katherine got into some fascinating conversation in the waiting rooms, but I suppose those are her stories to share, if she is so moved. She was present in the doctor's office for the pediatrician appointment and was holding and comforting Caroline when the doctor came in and was thus assumed to be the mom. That's o.k.. She's put in A LOT of time and energy these past two weeks. She should get to claim this beauty as her own from time to time. The doctor figured it out quickly enough though...

We stopped for frozen yogurt at the shop we frequented after childbirth education classes. When I walked in it was just the owner with whom we shared fertility joys and woes. When I saw her I said "I have a baby in the car." (Katherine was in the car too!) She didn't recognize me at first. I said "Not pregnant anymore," pointed at my belly. I could see the light bulb go off, "Oh oh oh... it's gone!!! And there's a BABY in the car!" "Do you want to come out and meet her?" She was about to run right out, but I thought that would creep Katherine out so I suggested she come out with me after I got my yogurt. Of course as soon as she rang me up a huge group of new customers came in so she'll have to meet Caroline another day.

And when we got home around 4 p.m., about 5 and a half hours after we left home, I was COMPLETELY exhausted. I got back into bed a.s.a.p. and fed Caroline on and off. I tried to take a nap, but was too tired even for that. We ordered out for pizza. Kev and I watched a few episodes of "Arrested Development" on Hulu and we did our two week photo shoot. The rest of the night is a haze. I think Katherine took Caroline for quite awhile before heading back to my friend's house. I think I groggily fed Caroline when Katherine brought her back. I dunno. But I do know that she's falling into a pattern of waking up for a good stretch of eating, fussing, being changed, burping, eating... at 2:30 most days. And again at 6 a.m.. I guess it is nice that there is a pattern to it. And those are pretty good stretches of sleep.

I guess the baking will wait. Ordering this room will happen today. But I'm still pretty wiped out so I think I'll be having Kevin bring me things on the bed, I'll be sorting and directing... He says he doesn't mind. Am I still the princess a week later?

2 week photos!

Friday, December 19, 2008

BIG day

Caroline is 2 weeks old today! I hope to take and post a picture before day is through. We have sort of slowed down on the picture taking.

Aunt Katherine and I are taking Caroline out on the town, in daylight (such as it is on this grey December day). First I have a doctor's appointment to follow-up on the excitement of last Friday. And then she has her first appointment with her pediatrician. I took a recommendation from my childbirth educator's mom group... first call I made worked out... hoping it is a good fit.

We debated about how to dress Caroline for her big day out on the town... but I decided to put her back in an adorable pink outfit she wore for several hours yesterday. It is just. too. cute. And it is picture day afterall.

This outfit was a shower gift when we yet did not know that we would be blessed with a daughter. At the time I thought, "Um..." Kevin swears he would have put a boy in this outfit... but... as much as I want to not succumb to the "pink is for girls" phenomenon and as much as I don't want to melt when I see that my girl is pretty in pink... I have and I do. And, at the moment, it is the only pink outfit we own. So... from time to time I'll indulge.

It is just Caroline and me at home at the moment. Katherine is staying at the home of one of my classmate's now. And Kevin is off to work. In bits and pieces as these two weeks have unfolded we've had more frequent and longer just the two of us moments. And I like them.

But I also like having wonderful people who love her to pass her off to.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick Update

Even with all the drama of the weekend... Caroline is still, apparently, getting enough to eat. As of yesterday her weight was up to 7 pounds, 9 ounces, just an ounce off her birth weight!

She is also a pooping machine... my goodness.

And... we know that supposedly it doesn't happen... but honest to goodness... she smiles! When slowly waking from a nap, usually, she rotates through facial expressions and smiles a lot, and sometimes... it seems... she laughs. Katherine and I watched her do this repeatedly yesterday and it cracked us up every time.

Daddy is enjoying some quiet alert time with her right now. These are special moments.

I have a follow-up appointment with an o.b. on Friday and Caroline has her first appt with her pediatrician... here's hoping I found a good one! Hopefully this outing will be less dramatic than the first!

I'll start practicing with the sling tomorrow. And we'll finally stamp out Caroline's footprints tomorrow. She has BIG feet- like her mommy!

Welcome Home, Abuelita!

Kevin's mom has been on a peacemaking mission in Colombia for the past six weeks and was scheduled to return home yesterday. She also celebrated her birthday last week, appropriately on International Human Rights Day. We're proud of the work you've been doing, Abuelita, and so excited to share your newest grandchild with you so soon.

Abundance of Grace in December

On December 5, 2008- Caroline Grace entered the arms of our extended family to great rejoicing.

On December 12, 2008- Nola Grace, born to a cousin of Kevin's, entered the arms of our extended family to great rejoicing.

And on December ?, 2008- Grace Katherine will be born to a cousin of mine, entering the arms of our extended family to great rejoicing.

Grace abounds this Advent tide.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

mysterious development

Thank you all for your love and prayers.

The fever came out of nowhere and was the worst one I've ever had. I don't typically get fevers. It was 101.4 when I finally decided that my excessive chill and shaking meant I should take my temp. When Katherine felt my uterus it was extremely tender to the touch. So, we called our midwife and she said "Go to the hospital." Throughout the birth there were three things I didn't want to happen- a trip to the hospital, the need for antibiotics, and catheterization. O.K., so there were other things I wanted to avoid as well... but those were the three that felt most likely to be needed and for various reasons I was really not interested in any of them, and had the greatest anxiety about the last of them. So, in one night, once it seemed we were well clear of the birth, within 12 hours of a postpartum check-up which was utterly non-eventful- absolutely no uterine tenderness midday, and no fever either (though, in retrospect, I didn't mention to the midwife that I had taken tylenol for a headache in the morning and my temp was slightly higher than normal, so maybe I did have a mild fever then). But, seriously 12 hours earlier, no body shakes, no high fever, no uterine tenderness. My mom asked in the evening how the check-up had gone and I said "Fine. There are really no issues with either of us."

Now I did look in the mirror at one point and said out loud "I look like death warmed over." And Katherine concurred that I was greyer than usual, but we chalked this up to not enough sleep or something. Really we didn't know what to make of it. Until I was shaking to hard to effectively feed Caroline... until the thermometer read 101.4. When we got to the hospital we weren't sure whether to go to the regular e.r. or to the women's hospital that handles births, etc. It turns out we should have gone to the women's hospital, but they took me into triage right away where the man on night duty was dumbfounded by the fact that I had given birth at home. "You a Marine, or something?" When he gave me my arm bracelet he said "This should have gold stars on it for what you've been through. No epidural? Wow. People are such wimps today. You did it the 19th century way." (O.K., so I think I combined several statements made throughout the intake process into one... and... friends... I don't think that having an epidural makes one a wimp... at all. I dreaded having a needle inserted into my spine. One could say that makes me a wimp.) My temp was 101.6 in triage, and my pulse elevated. Anyhow, they took me by wheel chair to the women's hospital. Katherine walked by my side carrying Caroline, who was looking cuter than ever in her bear bunting, and under that various stripes from head to toe, and who was sleeping soundly and had been, after being quite agitated, since the moment daddy stepped outside into the crisp night air and settled her into the car. Kevin drove around to the women's hospital to meet us there.

They put me in a private room and a WONDERFUL nurse, who, as it turns out, is a good friend of our primary midwife. My temp was 101.7 by the time I "settled" into the room. Our nurse was clearly working through a mental check-list trying to make sure she considered all the possibilities- she didn't say them out loud, but as she checked various regions of my body, for the most part, I knew what she was looking for. Pretty early on she said she was going to need to catheterize me to get a clean urine catch. I knew this was not a u.t.i., because I have had so many u.t.i.s in my life I usually detect them coming on before a test can even identify them, but... I understood her need to be thorough. But the only other time I have had a catheter was associated with an operation I had when I was five years old. I was under when they put it in, but awake, and traumatized, when they took it out. So my anxiety shot up as soon as catheter entered the conversation. When she came in to do the catheterization it shot up even higher. My sister simply said "She has a lot of anxiety about the catheter." And then she became super nurse, very gently and slowly talking me through what was going to happen and how it would feel, and completing the procedure quickly and smoothly, with no trauma whatsoever. My sister said, in retrospect, that it was a privilege to watch her work through that. So, by 2 a.m. I had confronted two of the things I had hoped to avoid.

And before we left I had to embrace the third- antibiotics. I wanted to avoid antibiotics because they almost always disturb various other systems in me, which now, could make life unpleasant for beautiful, precious Caroline and not just for me. But... by 5 a.m., all they had to go on was the fever, still high even after tylenol, and the uterine tenderness, only on the left side, only when pressure applied. There were no other symptoms of a uterine infection, but that was the best guess of the moment. She did decide to take some blood at the last minute to see if that gave any other cues, but she called my midwives back-up o.b. and he recommended 10 days of augmentin, supplemented by yogurt, and a follow up visit to his office. As my fever was still up, and my heart rate still too high for the nurse to comfortably release me, she asked me to drink a whole lot of water and take one dose of the antibiotic before leaving. So I did. And my heart rate came down.

We were discharged with instructions to call the doctor if the fever stayed over 101 even after a few doses of antibiotic and regular consumption of tylenol every four hours. If I didn't feel markedly better within two days, again, I was to call the doctor. I was also encouraged to call the hotline at the women's hospital for input any time. If the temp didn't go down, likely I was wrestling with something viral, or, my impression was, something more serious or scary. The hope was that whatever was going on would be addressed by a strong antibiotic... and we wouldn't worry so much about the what as about getting me better.

So by the time we headed home around 6:15 a.m. I had confronted all three of the things I had hoped the most to avoid. And yet I survived. Caroline fed a bit in the hospital and we received a good nursing tip while there, but she remained calm and sleepy for the trip home and slept through much of the day. Just before leaving the hospital our wonderful nurse said "You are the princess, and these" she pointed to Katherine and Kevin, "are your subjects. Your job is to sleep a lot, eat a lot, and drink A LOT, let them take care of the rest." So I was in bed ALL day yesterday. We took shifts with Caroline and sleeping. I was awake and feeling o.k. in the afternoon, so she stayed with me then. And, of course, I fed her throughout the day. My temp was cycling between 99 and just below 101 all day. But when I took my temp at 4:30 this morning it was 97.7. It was a bit elevated at 8:30 this morning (up two degrees), but I had been bundled up under a few layers and perhaps this gave me a slight bump.

Caroline had a bit of a rough night last night. She had some painful gas and seemed to think that eating, rather constantly, would help, but she'd pull off my breast and scream. Eventually I decided she wanted to suck for comfort, but didn't need to eat anymore and so let her lay across my breast and suck my finger. This calmed her substantially. Eventually I asked Kevin to take over this task because I desperately needed sleep and she was too agitated to allow me to sleepily comfort her or even to comfort her while sleeping. He worked to comfort her for awhile in the room, able to do pretty well while sleeping at first, but as she grew more agitated he left the room and eventually he passed her off to Aunt Katherine who had offered to take a stretch of the night if need be. Aunt Katherine and Caroline are sleeping side by side now and have been for some time. Apparently once Caroline got the gas out of her system she settled right down. (O.K., Kev clarified that Caroline was wailing when he passed her off to Katherine... we all did time last night with an uncomfortable baby.) I imagine I'll be seeing her soon, but I took advantage of this quiet moment to capture some of the mysterious 36 hours prior.

Our midwife is utterly stumped. We are stumped, but... so far, it seems the meds are working and my sister is supplementing them with strong pro-biotics, not just with yogurt, though I'm also eating plenty of that. So... here's hoping my temp stays down, Caroline and I avoid the nasty side-effects triggered by antibiotics, and that, within a few days, we begin to feel well rested again.

The one major discomfort in me right now is a headache that I've had all week. It is like headaches I had frequently before pregnancy, and occasionally during pregnancy, unfortunately, the only ways I know to stop these headaches involve adding more meds to a cocktail that Caroline is alright taking in through my breast milk, and unless I become incapacitated by the headache, unable to sleep, function... that is something I want to avoid. So... all things considered I guess I prefer the devil I know to the devil I don't know. And I still don't know what devil grabbed hold of me... but I'm glad that it seems to be losing its grip.

I hear Caroline.... I need to attend.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

request for prayers

Well, we made it eight days without leaving the house and engaging Western medicine. But last night Sarah spiked a fever requiring a trip to the hospital. We received excellent care. Due to the fever and some abdominal pain, a uterine infection is the best guess. We are back home now, but it seems like all the resting we've been doing was lost last night.

Caroline is fine. From her first outing, it seems like she likes riding in the car. She slept through most of the night. Sarah hopes to sleep as much as possible during the next 24 hours (or more). She requests your prayers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

oh and...

... gaining weight!

it is handy having a resident midwife here. aunt katherine weighed caroline on monday and we learned that she had lost exactly 10% of her birth weight. that is considered normal and so we just kept on keeping on feeding frequently, whenever she roots... and yesterday katherine said "ooh... I want to weigh her again already, look she's getting a bit of a double chin!" to which i responded "let's wait until tomorrow as you originally planned!"

so... today... caroline took another elevator ride in aunt katherine's sling and she is up from 6 pounds, 14 ounces on monday, to 7 pounds, 5 ounces today. apparently babies are given two weeks to regain and as tomorrow she'll be one week and we're only five ounces off birth weight I think we're in great shape.

the transition to nursing has been much smoother than i anticipated and for that i give great thanks.

first bath tonight

twas traumatic, but all came through unscathed and smelling lovely.

caroline is now in a sleep gown again... hoping this one lasts a bit longer than the first.

she is ridiculously cute, particularly when she seems torn between treating my breast as food source or pillow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

disappearing cord

Well, the excitement of this morning came in Katherine taking Caroline from me to change her and discovering, upon doing so, that the cord stub was gone. Then we started looking for it and it was nowhere to be found. We got a good laugh out of this. When at last I got up to relieve myself the cord stub was found beneath me, but... twas a mystery for awhile.

She's wearing a sleep gown now!!

e.t.a.- or rather... she has wet the gown and will be changed out of it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

finally... a few pictures...

These pics don't do our gorgeous girl justice... but they'll do for now. One with each of the three main figures in her life right now and a close up of her,

I've got a bug in me to write up the birth story in Pages and insert pics along the way. If I'm happy with it, I'll make the pdf available to folks.

It may take me awhile though, so a few pics will have to do for now.


Caroline is four days old now. 4 days. Yet it feels like so much more time has passed. I said something like this to my dad when she was only two days old and he quoted Augustine, something about being able to say what time is, but then... not really. And it is the moments like these when the wisdom there is so accessible. Most babies by now would have had a ride in the car... they would have known hospital space and home space, but not this baby. This morning, Kevin rocked her and said "Do you hear that? That's the wind. But you don't know what that is. You haven't even been outside yet."

On Saturday night, at our first postpartum visit from the midwife, Caroline was subjected to the not so fun heel prick and squeeze. In prepping her foot for this, Marecha, our midwife, swabbed her heel with alcohol. Kev said "That's the first time you have smelled that smell, Caroline." We looked at him a little funny, of course it was... she was only a day old. "But if she'd been in the hospital she would have smelled it lots already!" Oh, right...

Today we're having another lazy day in bed, sister's orders. And we don't need to use the white noise machine we've been using on and off because today we are blessed with the sounds of a rainstorm, even thunder on occasion. Caroline's first thunderstorm. It is easier to stay in bed when the rain is beating down its soothing sounds outside.

I ordered an adorable, fancy dress and ivory tights for Caroline's first Christmas Eve... we have a couple of baby's first Christmas things, but... I wanted to buy a pretty dress. And so I did. Twill be her first!

But as of yet... she's never been dressed. Diapered and swaddled in blankets, that's it. She'll be dressed soon enough... for now we're going for as much skin to skin time as possible to encourage her cord to continue to dry.

Her skin is so deliciously soft.

First clothes, first car ride, first trip outdoors... all yet to come.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

sleeping loves

beloved k sleeping soundly beside me. he goes back to work tomorrow and is catching a nap to help him through whatever tonight brings.

beloved c sleeping soundly on me.

and i'm surfing the web.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Numerically Speaking*

24- hours of pre-labor warm-up

24- hours of early labor

26.5- hours of active labor

3- hours of sleep in the above 74.5

8.5- hours of pushing included in the active labor total above

2:34 on the 5th- when Caroline Grace at last entered the world

7 - pounds, 10- ounces- Caroline's weight at birth.

20- inches- Caroline's length

14- inches- circumference of Caroline's head

10- perfect fingers with lovely long nails (shorter now- daddy trimmed them)

10- LONG toes attached to big feet at the end of strong legs

So many- overjoyed, grateful hearts.

It means the world to know that so many kept vigil with us through our long labor and delivery. Our birth team was incredible. Our daughter is beautiful. Thanks be to God. And thanks be to all of you.

* I know you're waiting for pictures. I may add pictures to this post later, but between feeding and sleeping and recovering... posting pics is a bit time consuming at the moment!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thank you all

Kevin here.

Our thanks to all of you who have been following the progress of our pregnancy and the labor leading up to the birth of Caroline Grace. We have so very much appreciated all your comments, prayers, humor, best-wishes, and companionship throughout this journey, especially over the past few days. The knowledge that so many people were thinking of us and attending to us through the delivery was an incredible blessing, and it gave us a powerful sense of companionship. Again, our thanks to you all.

We will be posting more here (especially pictures) in the coming days. Today, however, is a day of catching up on sleep and getting ready for new routines. We do have one picture to share, one of Mommy and Caroline sharing a bed separately for the first time.

Again, thank you all. We have felt your love throughout this journey. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Caroline Grace has arrived!

At 2:34 a.m., after a long, hard labor, Kevin and Sarah finally welcomed their daughter, Caroline Grace, into their arms and their home.

Daddy and Mommy are overjoyed and all three members of the S-D family are well.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

12:15 am

Jay-Z, Rilke, Dec. 4... They are great and all, but that is soooooo yesterday. This baby is coming Dec.5.

Still pushing...

9:40 pm

Still pushing in earnest.... Baby is slowly coming, but definitely on the way! The contractions are really tough now. And Midwives and sister are buzzing around busily.

Soon and very soon.

6:07 pm

Sarah is in the pool and now she is pushing.... pushing... pushing...

3:05 pm

Sarah is in transition. She is getting in the birthing tub. Contractions are intense and often. The water is soothing and so is Kevin.

She is working really hard right now.

Sarah says that at difficult moments in labor the chorus from the Dixie Chicks' song Lullaby is going through her head:


How long do you want to be loved
Is forever enough? Is forever enough?
How long do you want to be loved?
Is forever enough?
Cause I'm never, never giving you up

1:30 pm

Sarah had another exam. She is at 8 cm. Contractions every few minutes or so, especially if she is standing up. She is having pain and she is singing through it.

Somewhat, ironically, the cable showed up to hook up the cable. I bet he'll have a story to tell tonight.

We are singing, waiting, and hoping. Sarah is doing an incredible job!!

Happy Birthday, Rilke...

This morning I looked up some others who were born on December 4.

The S-D baby will likely share a birthday with several people including (but not limited to) Jay-Z, John Cotton, and Rainer Maria Rilke. The latter is whom Sarah was most excited about. So we got out Rilke and read her favorite poem by him. She wanted me to share it with you.

Ich liebe dich, du sanftestes Guesetz

I love you, gentlest of Ways,
who ripened us as we wrestled with you.

You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us,

you, the song we sang in every silence,
you dark net threading through us,

on the day you made us you created yourself,
and we grew sturdy in your sunlight...

Let your hand rest on the rim of Heaven now
and mutely bear the darkness we bring over you.

11:12 am

We are at about 12 hours of active labor now and things are getting more intense. Sarah is tired, going on very little sleep, and contractions are longer and harder. She is doing a great job-- remaining calm and breathing deeply through contractions. The midwife and Katherine (it is so cool that she is both a sister and a birthing expert) are readying the birthing pool thing (I don't know the actual name of it. It's just a giant plastic pool, like a kiddie pool but without the colorful pictures of fish and stuff on it). They thought it would be a good idea if Sarah walked around a bit so she is up and moving. Kevin is being an amazing encourager and back rubber.

Things seem to be picking up.

8 am

The midwife just did another exam and the good news is that there has been progress! Sarah is at 6 cm, and I didn't really understand the rest of the midwife jargon, but it sounds like things are getting somewhere and going well. Her contractions are longer, more intense, and getting closer together. She continues to be a rock star and is doing great.

Kevin and Katherine are up from their short naps. The sun is up and everyone is getting ready for a birthday.

5:25 am

Tish here.

I had to go to the airport to drop off my husband. While I was gone, Sarah and Kevin rested some. Sarah had some intense contractions and got in the tub.

They have slowed, but seem longer to me than earlier in the night. We are waiting hopefully. Labor is a beautiful picture of Advent.

Sarah is doing great. She is in good spirits and doing an amazing job breathing and leaning into the contractions. I think she is going to try to get some needed rest.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

1:18 A.M.

This is Sarah again. Tish is resting and I wanted to capture a few thoughts between contractions.

Kev and I just took a vigorous walk around the block, in the rain. It rained like this on our wedding night and honeymoon. I'm very grateful that it is raining. The sound is soothing and cool water falling from above felt wonderful. The contractions are coming closer and closer together now, but they aren't quite as strong as they were before. I wonder if this is my body's way of getting me ready for a new pace before a new intensity.

Kev is being absolutely wonderful. Tremendously present and supportive, as I knew he would be.

And Tish is fabulous. I am so grateful I went with my instinct and invited her in.

And, of course, it continues to be a great gift to have Katherine here. She's giving good practical tips in light of the results of the internal and exam and is getting ready to make more chex mix... mmm...

Kev asked how I was feeling emotionally while we were walking and my answer was "grateful, excited, and unsure". The unsure part is related to the fact that this STILL doesn't feel real to me. I can't actually imagine that soon and very soon we're going to have a baby, a real baby. I can't get my head around it. No matter how long, strong, or close together the contractions are.

But... it will be real soon enough. Soon and very soon.


Well, December 4 has arrived, but baby is not quite here yet.
Marecha, the midwife, has arrived and gave Sarah an exam. Everything looks good. She is in active labor. We have about 6 cm to go.

Katherine is hanging out and she and Sarah just began singing. They sound great and Kevin is filming us.

11:25 pm

The midwife and her apprentice are on their way here! Contractions are closer together (we're at about 5 minutes apart now). Tish (that's me) was called over to write on this blog, sing harmony (yes, there is singing as part of labor), and just be around (and hopefully helpful).

Sarah is doing an amazing job! She is breathing, focused, and calm. Kevin is also rocking it. He's taking pictures, loving on Sarah, and generally being a great Dad.

We'll keep you posted.

6:55 P.M.

Contractions seem to be coming a bit closer together now and I have to be intentional about my breathing through most of them. So... slow and steady progress... but progress indeed.

Thought you might appreciate a pic. Kev is well documenting these days and when Katherine checked the heartrate at 6 so we could give the midwife an update we asked him to capture the moment. It is a belly shot of sorts, Aunt Debbie.

Pretty lucky to have a sister midwife, eh?

5:09 P.M.

We took a half hour walk and then returned to decorate our tree. We videotaped the tree decorating, reflecting on the source of various ornaments along the way, and musing about future trees to be decorated with a child in the house... which ornaments that we find to be "meh" will the child find gorgeous? And will an annual birthday tradition be the decorating of the tree?

Definitely still seem to be in early labor, but I remembered that first time moms often have at least 24 hours of early labor. And I feel o.k. about this. My midwife was a bit anxious earlier in the day given the leaking fluid yesterday, but the leaking has been minimal today and I'm just content to let this baby come when he or she is ready. One of Katherine's dearest midwife friends said to her "I want to remind you that your sister is having an entirely normal first birth. Everything is fine." Yes. It is.

I have invited Tish, one of my newest and dearest friends, to join us when active labor begins and she has been very sweetly checking in throughout the day. She said that when her husband woke up this morning he said "the baby is not coming today". I think he's right. She remains on call.

I think the baby is intending to prove Aunt Katherine wrong, Aunt Katherine who has said repeatedly "You do know this baby is NOT coming on the due date, right?"

Kev stayed home from work today, but he's off the next four days anyhow so this baby is well timed, a most cooperative baby indeed.

2:40 P.M.

Sleep remains elusive, but I rested calmly for four hours... that is something at least, right?

I just took a hot shower and I'm heading out for a walk with Kevin.

The leaking amniotic fluid has ceased, but the bloody show continues.

My midwife seems a bit anxious about the fact that I haven't progressed further... but... I think it is o.k.. And Katherine agrees. So we're going with that for now.

I thought Ali was going to win the bet, but perhaps this a due date baby and Aunt Debbie B. will claim the prize!

9:59 A.M.

Back from pancakes... mmm....

No dramatic water break... the biggest surprise was that, for the first time ever, there was NO WAIT at this fabulous and popular restaurant. We were seated immediately and our food seemed to come moments after being ordered.

We're going to watch a d.v.d. in bed, hoping to catch a few more hours of sleep. My sister is afraid that the baby won't come until tomorrow and I'll be too exhausted if I labor through the night tonight after only three hours last night. So... texting my midwife to let her know the plan. And I hope to be sleeping soon.

I don't know if I'll continue this live-blogging, but... so far it is fun to stay connected with all of you and to thereby feel your prayers and support. I suspect that once truly active labor kicks in... this blog will get quieter. We shall see.

8:05 a.m.

Our midwife left a little while ago.

As I was leaking amniotic fluid for much of the last 24 hours she did an internal (first ever) just to assess status.

3 cm dilated, 50% effaced, Baby's head at 0...

So still early labor. But... progressing.

Think we're going out for pancakes.

7:02 A.M.

Received a text message about 15 minutes ago from my primary midwife. "This is your morning wake up call. I'm here. : )"

I didn't really get back to sleep after the 2 a.m. wake up... made the play list, listened to today's pray-as-you-go podcast (of note- today is the feast day of St. Francis of Xavier- even though I won't name this child after Fran... what a day... and the reading for the day was the first one I chose for my ordination "Consider us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries..."), then to the most recent episode of "Radio Lab"- on, of all things, "Sperm"- and then tried to sleep, checked in with sister at 5, she said to try to sleep more, timed contractions, listened to "Wait, Wait..." kind of. And then the text.

And that's the latest.

2:54 A.M.

My sister said I had to at least try to sleep for three hours. So I slept... for three hours, from 11-2. I am supposed to be taking my temp every four hours or so, or when I awake to pee... and I couldn't find the thermometer nor my cell (where crucial phone numbers are stored) so I probably woke up more than I really needed to. I've been trying to get back to sleep since 2:19 (after finding the missing items), but the mind is active and sleep is distant.

I think the contractions have slowed as I have been resting, but when I do feel them they are stronger now. I'm sure once I get up and start moving around they'll pick up again. But I'm not getting up yet. Kev is snoring next to me and I have yet to make playlists for the birth. I'm still hoping we'll sing, but... I probably won't sing through pushing... and if it is a long labor, I won't sing right though. So I'm going to make a playlist or two... and then sleep some more... or track contractions... or... we'll see.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I had my prenatal appt at 6, at home. She wasn't sure whether she should be filling out the prenatal form or the early labor form. She went with the prenatal form. She left over an hour later saying, I'm going to take a nap. I look forward to your call at 3 a.m.

I'm leaking amniotic fluid, a slow leak, all day... just like my mom had when she went into labor with me. I'm now more aware of contractions, but they're not painful. I'm trying to time them. They may be 5 minutes apart already.

We're making a double batch of a really yummy Moosewood casserole. We'll eat some of it and then try to get some sleep. But if these contractions really are 5 minutes apart, we'll be making a call before going to bed. Think we'll try out this site recommended by Mama V to try to get an accurate count. It's a bit hard to tell when they start and stop at this point.

We stocked up on yummy food for those who will assist (and for me if I want it). And the birthing room is TOTALLY ready... and lovely. All we need is some candles I think... Hmm...

I can't believe how calm I am. My blood pressure was nice and low at the appt. I'm just curious to see what happens next... curious, but calm.

2 days away- more signs- perhaps TMI

I have slept incredibly well the past few nights. Thanks be to God.

Yesterday, as the day progressed I felt more dramatic movement than usual in my uterus. When my sister felt my belly late in the day it appeared the baby was in the process of turning into a left-sided position which is a standard pre-birth shift. She called it a shift to the "rapid exit" position. As of last night though the baby was posterior (her best guess), the baby's back to my back (I think that's what that means), and ideally it has completed or will soon complete the turn and not remain in a posterior position.

This morning I appear to be losing the cervical mucus plug and for the past two days my bowels have been dramatically clearing out... so... perhaps we're getting closer. Maybe this baby won't be late afterall!

Thanks so much for all your predictions. More predictions are certainly welcome! My brother guessed that the baby would come on his half birthday, the 11th. If the baby were to come today, which seems unlikely, it would be three months to the day of my birthday. And, for some strange reason I remember that today is the birthday of the church musician from my childhood church, who lived in our extra room for awhile. He is a pretty cool guy... so I'm cool with that. I'm guessing we won't make it to the 8th however... but we'll see.

I was going to edit until I got sick of editing today and then work on further prepping our bedroom for the birth. I think I might reverse the order of those activities.

Monday, December 1, 2008

3 days away- a drop! MAKE YOUR PREDICTIONS

Actually, we noticed the drop yesterday. I noticed it in the morning, but I've thought that I dropped before and was wrong so I didn't say anything, but after church my sister said "You look lower. Can I feel your belly?" So she did, and the head is much lower, beginning to engage it seems. I'm still not all that uncomfortable. Maybe I feel slightly more pressure in my pelvic region, but not really. The movements of the baby that I'm feeling now feel more like actual kicks, probably because of the shift in position. Katherine says that from the drop, for first time moms, the baby will come anytime in the next two weeks... I'm still figuring December 8th- that would be a week from today. She thinks December 12th. So I should have done this a long time ago, before you had such an increased chance of making a correct guess... but for fun... why not leave your predictions in the comments here- date of birth, time of birth, gender of baby, size of baby. Perhaps I'll come up with a prize for the closest guesses.

Yesterday was also the first day I actually felt a Braxton-Hicks (sp?). They've been happening for awhile, but I'm usually unaware.

We're getting closer...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Begins

It is a Sunday morning, the first Sunday in Advent, in fact, and I am allowing myself to lazily and slowly come to consciousness. My mind is not racing with all the services that need to be planned, the volunteers that need to be recruited, the youth group events that need to be coordinated... I'm just thinking about finding our home Advent wreath and getting it on the table, and having friends over tonight as my family always did on weekends in Advent, and making chex mix with my sister (another weekly Advent tradition in my childhood home). I'll go to one of two worship services today, the one that is likely to be more Adventish. And I'll do my best to rest and or prepare the home for the season...

... and the baby.

For the lack of parish madness is not the only difference this Advent season. For the last three Advents (or was it four?) I felt the grief of infertility more acutely than at any other time of the year. As I prepared to preach on improbable conceptions, hope, expectation... it was dreadful. And this couldn't have been sadder for me as Advent had previously been my favorite liturgical season. For the last several years it has been something to survive and that has been very sad indeed.

So, of course God would give this gift in Advent. Of course. To literally be in my own Advent as this liturgical season dawns, awaiting a holy birth... a gift finally given.

I don't know why I fretted about a possible early baby. There is no way this baby could have come before Advent. No way at all.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel
         O Come, O Come sweet child of mine
And ransom captive Israel
         And bring to us your light divine.
That mourns in lonely exile here
         For we in darkness long did dwell
Until the Son of God appears
         Until the gift of you on us fell.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
         Rejoice! Rejoice!
         Sweet child of mine
shall come to thee, O Israel.
         shall come to bring light right on time.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

5 days away (from the due date)

Though the baby could be a few weeks yet. I am not so uncomfortable that that thought scares me. Perhaps we could get a nursery together if we have a few weeks... But even if we don't we now have a co-sleeper ready by the bed (thanks mama v!), and appropriately sized diapers organized and hung in our bedroom, and clothes sorted by size into bins. And there is a sleep positioner ready to be picked up at the store at which we're registered which will make me feel better about having the baby in bed with us.

And today there was what sounds like it was a lovely shower in my hometown, in my parents' home, hosted by my mom (with help from friends). Towards the end of the shower a phone was passed around and I talked to just about everybody. My sister commented that it was like "This is your life" as we never knew who would pop up next and indeed there were folks there from all different parts of my life. A lovely book of blessings is heading my way as are many lovely gifts. I am so grateful that so many loved ones would assemble even in my absence. Thanks again, mom, for all your hard work on this.

Twas a VERY low key day today. Saw our guests off EARLY this morning. Then back to bed... slept in spurts... but slept in... spent much of the day lounging around. Think that's what I needed after so many days of doing so much. As tomorrow is sabbath I'll get another day of it tomorrow. I did sign-up for cable today... to ease the early months of breastfeeding. We haven't had cable since about a year into our marriage- 5 years! I'm a bit of an addict so it is like willfully bringing a drug into the house, but when our childbirth educator said, in one of our last classes, that in the first few weeks I'd be breastfeeding for up to 45 minutes every 2-3 hours... well... I turned to Kev and said "We're getting cable." And so we did. Even if the baby doesn't arrive on its due date, which will most likely be the case, the cable will arrive that day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

6 days to go- highlights

  • organized what baby stuff we have over the past few days, with the help of our marvelous houseguests, and we have A LOT more than I realized. And I thought we didn't have any onesies... we have LOTS of onesies.

  • actually got nine hours or so of sleep last night with only brief interruptions.

  • got lots of pictures hung on the walls in this house.

  • the guys picked up and put up a lovely Christmas tree today.

  • lost a knitting pattern at the mall tonight, went to the mall on black Friday to take a 4 year old to his first big screen movie experience, brought the knitting with in case the movie was tedious or boring, managed to leave it on the floor at the food court... sigh...

  • really, really tired.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

8 days away- the wisdom of a sister

So before crashing last night I strategized with my sister. What did we need to accomplish before our guests arrive? As the friend who is coming initially offered to help us with organizing the nursery I felt, therefore, that we should really have a nursery ready to be organized when she got here. But we don't. And that was stressing me a bit.

My sister asked, "Is organization of the nursery really your top priority this week? Are there other ways that your guest can be more helpful to you now?"

A flood of thoughts came to mind. I shared a few.

"Well, she wants to be helpful. And that's the help you need. And that's o.k.."

My sister pointed out that as she will be here until my mom gets here (over a month) and that as a nursery is not needed right away and that as she and my mom are willing and able to help with just about anything... it is o.k. to ask for the help I need.

It sounds so obvious, but thank God she is here because I'm not sure I would have arrived at this conclusion on my own.

So this morning we will continue basic house cleaning, will prepare space for our guests to comfortably sleep, maybe we'll get some more pictures on the wall, maybe. And we'll bake for the big meal tomorrow. I asked Kev if he wants me to plan a flow for the meal preparation and he said that was fine with him. The husbands are in charge of the meal, but I've been in charge of planning the meal, shopping for the meal, etc. So maybe I'll do one more step of planning. If time and energy allow...

While our friends are here I'll use her wise visual brain to help me figure out some puzzling decorating challenges for our general house decor, and will draw on her assistance to decorate for Christmas. I was thinking as I woke up this morning that perhaps organizing diapers and a changing area is a good idea. So maybe we'll do that too...

I am very blessed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

9 days away- cleaning

We haven't accomplished as much as I had hoped we would by tonight. But the kitchen is MUCH cleaner than it has been in a long time, and we've got nearly all the groceries we need for the week. And lots of laundry has been done. And our bedroom is closer to fit for birthing. We have guests arriving tomorrow who wish to help us continue to get ready for baby, but I'd like to be further along before they get here... it will be what it will be, right?

I began to tell my midwives in my check-up today that I was not getting any exercise and then I realized I had been on my feet cleaning or shopping most of the day and changed my report.

Monday, November 24, 2008

10 days away- naming

Frequently throughout this pregnancy we've been asked, "So do you have names picked out?"

I know some people keep quiet about their name selections.

I know some people can't quite decide, and wait until they see their babies face to face.

That's not us.

For much of this pregnancy my answer has been "3 and a half years ago we picked out names. Yeah, we know." And then we share-

If the baby is a girl- Caroline Grace- after my paternal grandmother and her mother (common middle name with me)

If the baby is a boy- Stephen Charles- after Kev's father, and his maternal grandfather (who died rather recently and was very dear to him. Charles is also a family name on my side.)

The girl name actually came to me in seminary. The first paper I ever wrote in seminary I was asked to write a letter to someone uncertain about Christian faith explaining to them why I am a Christian. I chose to write to my as of yet unborn child (this was nine years ago!) an explanation of why I would present her for baptism. The paper began "Dear Caroline Grace..."

I don't remember how the boy name came together or when, but it was a long long time ago.

I did waver on the girl name at some point in the last four years though, when my dear, dear friend Fran died. I trace my urgent need to conceive to the time I found out she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Something came over me then... how many people that are dear to me will die and never meet our child? It broke my heart that I wouldn't ever bring a bundle of joy up the many steps to Fran's porch where surely she, and likely Hank and Alan, would be waiting. Fran's hands would be clasped together at her chest in anxious excitement, and she would have swept that baby out of my arms and loved on him or her for hours. She would have loved that baby forever. As I've shared before, the last thing she ever said to me was "I love you and that's never going to change. Do you hear me? That is NEVER going to change." So I know she is loving this baby that she has never met.

Wow. I miss her.

Anyhow, when you are loved so unconditionally by one, so fiercely... and when you realize that your quest for a baby had some link to that person, it is hard to NOT choose to name your child after said person. But even though the two women named Frances whom I have known have been among the two most wonderful people I know, I just can't bring myself to like the name and bestow it to child. Especially when we're already blessing/burdening a child with a huge mouthful of a last name. And attaching Frances to that last name... it just doesn't work. And nick names for it aren't any better. So eventually, I went back to the family name and let it go. But I resolved myself to make sure my child knows about Fran, and, more importantly, knows about the unconditional love that Fran embodied for me.

I knew that it was time to post about names because we were at an open house on Saturday night that was FULL of little kids. We arrived pretty late (think I'll be writing about the reason for that on the other blog) and by the time we got there the wee ones had found the bowl of chocolates that the hostess had intentionally put up high thinking this would ensure parental control of chocolate intake. Well, not sure how they got to it, but they did, and they were gleefully stuffing their pockets with as many chocolate nuggets as possible (wrapped of course). I'm sure they were also stuffing their mouths. They were pretty wired. Anyhow, as I was in the kitchen/food area most of the night the kids kept circling by on their chocolate quests and I took the opportunity to meet them one by one. One five year old blonde girl tried to tell me her name and I just couldn't get it. She said something to which I replied, "Kayla?" Her friend (a five year old Sarah) said "NO!" And again, "Kayli?" Her friend said "NO!" She tried again and before I could slaughter it her friend, Sarah, said "Her name is CAR-O-LINE." The little girl smiled. I beamed and said "If I have a little girl her name will be Caroline Grace!" One of the moms in the kitchen said, "Wait a minute, I think HER name is Caroline Grace." She ran off... A little while later Caroline's mom came and told me that her daughter had told her I was having a girl baby and her name was Caroline Grace. I explained that I didn't know the gender of the baby, but that there was a 50/50 chance I'd have a Caroline Grace. The others in the kitchen, five year old Sarah was still there, asked for the boy's name, and when Sarah heard it she said "THAT'S MY DADDY'S NAME! HE'S A STEVE!" She was beside herself, her friend or her dad... we hit the jackpot, in Sarah's eyes, with our name choices.

But I did realize from this whole exchange that not only are we ensuring the literacy of our yet unborn child by assigning a VERY long name to him or her, but we're also demanding a lot from speech... Caroline isn't easy to say... and I'm not sure our last name is much easier. Stephen could be hard at certain points in speech development too.

Praying that the verbal skills of the parents rub off on the offspring...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

11 days away

I seem to be continuing my one great day, one bleh day pattern even now that the papers are done. I think the exhaustion of the last few weeks (of the semester, of the move, of the year???) is settling in as is the exhaustion of late pregnancy.

I have a post in mind about names. I thought I had shared the names we have picked and where they come from, but lots of people have been asking lately so maybe I haven't done so. Too tired to post it tonight though.

Just returned from a concert at a historic and lovely venue. Two good bands... a portion of one of the bands might be staying at our house tonight! Does that make us hip?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

keeping vigil

my sister was supposed to be here between 10 and 11.

but then a major road was closed, a detour necessitated, and now it is looking more like she'll be here at 1 a.m..

i'm keeping vigil, though i may fall asleep on the job. it has been a LONG (but glorious) day.

i'm realizing all sorts of things i've wanted to get done that i can finally get done... ah... but... probably not tonight. think i'll put in a d.v.d. and stretch out on the couch. maybe i'll sew some ends in though.

more mundane, but GOOD NEWS

  • Katherine, sister midwife, is in the same time zone now. Spent the night in Kansas and arrives TONIGHT!!!

  • Finally got the results of my Strep B test- NEGATIVE. Thanks be to God. I REALLY didn't want to have to make the decision about I.V. antibiotics (which can be administered at home-wow!) because antibiotics and me- we don't generally get along.

  • Midwife check-up on Thursday was luxuriously long. The apprentice, who will be at our birth, came. It is the first time I've met with her since our first appointment months ago. She is lovely. Just the energy balance to my primary midwife (who is also lovely, but different) that I need. She asked me lots of questions about my hopes for the birth. She asked specifically about what I anticipated from my husband... and I realized that I don't have specific anticipation except that he will be wonderful and attentive because... have you met Kevin? Then you know that no plan is needed for him to be on the spot with compassion. I got all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it. They had left their stethoscope at the last birth they had attended so I don't know what my blood pressure was, but not too worried about it as it has been so consistently good. My fundus was measuring 39 (maybe this baby is really bulking up... or else it is all the cheese I've been eating...) My weight is up to 225. Baby's heart rate in the 140s. Baby still head down- good baby. We have a GREAT birthing team. Thanks be to God.

o.k., i will finish these papers... i will.

because... clearly... i don't REALLY want to finish these papers

... i'll blog a bit.

12 days.

I'm due in 12 days.

A year ago I thought I might never be pregnant, and now, in the holy length of 12 days I'm due.

Is this how Elizabeth felt as her womb grew heavier and heavier and tightened on and off, mostly imperceptibly?

Or Sarah? Or Rebekah? Or Rachel? Or Hannah?

Awe and wonder primarily.

There is a baby inside me. A BABY.

And like my foremothers in faith, I know not who this child is or will be.

Unlike my foremothers in faith, I've had no divine messengers or holy dreams.

Unless you count all the people who are CERTAIN they know the gender of this child.

And I haven't kept a poll, but... I think... they're split 50/50.

In my dreams, the few I've had about a baby since becoming pregnant, I've dreamed of a boy.

But my heart pulls a bit harder at the thought of a girl.

I just started reading about the earliest hours and days of a baby's life.

And I know that it. will. not. matter. at. all.

For a child will be born to us.

A son or daughter given to us.

And all shall be well.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

she'll be on her way this morning!

My sister checked in several times yesterday as she packed for her huge road trip to come to be with us for the birth. Should she bring a backpack or a suitcase? We settled on suitcase. Do we have a copy of Penny Simkin's The Birth Partner? Yes. Was I at a computer, could I look up what size wiper blade she needs to buy for her car? At that moment, no.

I welcomed the many calls in my frustrating day of paper writing and I welcome the news that early this morning, Thursday, November 20th, she's hitting the road.

I've taken a couple of HUGE road trips in my day, the hugest of which I did almost entirely solo. She has a driving buddy for at least part of her journey, which is good. But a big chunk of it she'll be on her own. And though three months of alone time on the road was a little crazy making for me (o.k., it was a lot crazy making for me), the first few weeks were pretty glorious. And so I hope she enjoys these three days. Admittedly, I'm a bit jealous. I'd like to be on the open road about now, seeing different landscapes, listening to audiobooks and good music.

Oh wait, I'm 38 weeks pregnant today. I get painfully sore after sitting for longer than an hour. Guess I'm where I need to be right now.

In any case, I am SO grateful she's coming and SO excited she'll be here so soon.

She's planning to put in three at least 10 hour days of driving. I would guess that at least two of these she'll be on her own. I don't believe I've ever subjected myself to that much constant driving (I really paced myself on my gigundo road trips). So, friends, if you could please pray for her over these next few days I'd be much appreciative. I want her to arrive safe and sound! And I know she does too!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

dreaming of nesting...

... of ordering and cleaning the kitchen.

... of hanging pictures on the walls (finally!)

... of creating a nursery of some sort.

... of planning and prepping for thanksgiving dinner, maybe decorating a bit?

... of turning our bedroom into a suitable birthing room.

so much that normally might sound tedious to me sounds absolutely lovely to me.

but i have one more paper to write, then three to revise. hoping to be done by Friday! a day ahead of schedule! so the nesting can begin...

Monday, November 17, 2008

more shower pics

The mommy and daddy!

Some of the pretty leaves they gathered to put on the tables as decorations. IT FINALLY LOOKS LIKE FALL HERE!

Sarah with the fabulous hosts- Jenn and Tish!

My second mother, Debbie, and me. (My mom's best friend who lived with us for one year when I was in elementary school while she finished her doctoral course work. She is the first person who ever expressed confidently, when I was VERY young, that I would get a ph.d. someday. And she provided the houseboat for our honeymoon)

shower pics

Tish and Jonathan, half of the fab hosting team, with the very first cake they EVER made, with NO refined sugar, and it was yummy too!

The amazing spread and dear old friend, adrien!

The woman at the end of the table is named Melissa and she is a member of one of the two churches we've been attending, she and her lovely children represented the congregation marvelously. See that gorgeous homemade cake? She made it. And young Gabriel was in awe.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shower in 10 minutes!

Not sure who is going to be there.

Not sure what is going to happen.

But our houseguests will be there.

We'll be there.

Our hosts will be there.

And even that is enough.

Friday, November 14, 2008

a different tone for the start of this 37th week

I realize I was grumbly, anxious, moany yesterday... but... really... I had every reason to be jubilant, grateful, and full of praise of God.


This pregnancy has gone full term. Those anxious nights in the first trimester when I couldn't sleep and when I'd send positive vibes to the baby hoping it would dig in and stay tight... I couldn't believe then that this would actually come to pass, that we would really and truly have a babe in arms at the end of the year. I have been cautiously hopeful through this pregnancy, but I've also been self-protective- still not really relating to the baby as a person, for example, even now, not until I meet him or her will I feel able to do so (unless something amazing shifts in the next few weeks). But friends, the baby should be totally capable of surviving outside the womb now, even if I unfortunately go into labor before the last paper is written, it is o.k. now, truly. This is a major milestone. A milestone for which I give thanks, great thanks.

And the kind o.b. yesterday (HOORAY! A doctor with whom I'm comfortable should a doctor be needed!) said in more ways than one "There are no risk factors in your pregnancy. You have every reason to believe you will successfully birth this baby at home and will never see me again." He felt around on my belly and identified a head, a foot, a heel, a butt. Wow. There really is a person in there. And his confidence in the health of this pregnancy, his words of assurance- again, so much for which to give thanks, great thanks.

And so many at school are checking in with love and concern and admiration. One of my classmates called me "Shera" yesterday so in awe was she of the ways I'm keeping up with school in these last days of pregnancy. For this I give thanks, great thanks.

And two friends are joyfully preparing to host a shower for us on Sunday. I'm not sure who all will be there, but... we're so new here. To have close enough friends already to be able to have a shower, for this I give thanks, great thanks.

So... even though I'm still in crunch week, even though I didn't sleep much last night, even though I'm not quite sure how I'll get through today- I will because God is good. All the time.

And I give thanks, great thanks.