Happy Thanksgiving

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday. Laurel for one of course, but also a fast recovery for me, and a house filled with delicious food, and friends and family who come to visit. We're keeping things low-key for the meal today...Jack is over to feast vegetarian-style with us. I cannot wait to eat the mushroom loaf and onion gravy, greens, beet bruschetta, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving!


Life With Babe

What is life like these days at the Frey house? Well, we run on a 24 hour clock, for one. There is not so much "night" and "day" as "when Laurel is awake" and "when Laurel is asleep". Thanks to the help from friends and family, we continue to eat well. One thing about our offspring is that she really digs personal attention...she wants to be held all the time. Luckily, we can strap her on to one of us in the wrap carriers and go about our business. There are lots and lots of diapers. She has an uncanny ability to wait until we have changed her to let loose again. Unfortunately, she is a bit small to fit in the cloth diapers we bought her, so we are spending fortunes on disposables for right now. Hopefully in the next week or two, she will plump up a bit and I can get her in the cloth. The weather has been wonderful, so we've been able to go out on some short walks. I am getting better every day, and hopefully will be able to drive again very soon. All in all, life seems very simple...I do nothing but eat, sleep, feed and change the baby and take a shower every day. The simplicity of it is kind of comforting. We're off to see the pediatrician this afternoon for another weight check, so cross your fingers that she's still gaining!


Look, ma...no hands!

This is how Aunt Meg rocks the Moby Wrap with Laurel. I am really looking forward to being able to use this, once my abdomen is healed up a little more. Laurel loves hanging out in this wrap. It's perfect for taking her out and about, especially in cooler weather because she stays nice and toasty.

M and L

M and L caught a quick nap on the couch this afternoon. Laurel really loves to be strapped to M's chest in the Moby wrap. We bundled her up and took her out in her first Pittsburgh rainstorm, and first trip to the Co-op. When we got back with the groceries, M cooked up a full English breakfast for us, and then everybody was content to lie down and relax for a while. It's very quiet in my house right now.


What do we do all day?

And where do the days go? Laurel is a night owl. She tends to be pretty active until 2 or 3 in the morning, and then will sleep for long stretches until 10 or 11. This makes the days blur into each other and overlap. Breakfast is served late. I wear pajamas all day unless we have to go somewhere. We sit in the big chair in her room and nurse and nap and nap and nurse. I put on Pandora radio. Laurel likes M. Ward and Bon Iver. She sleeps best when cradled in my arms, or tucked in a swaddle, stretched out next to me. We call her the Caterpillar when she is wrapped up like that. When she is ready to start waking up, she flexes her legs and wiggles her way out of the swaddle. Last night, she hardly cried, just made little cooing noises that I somehow anticipated and woke up to hear before she made them. She stared at me in the dim light at 5 am with enormous blue eyes, lined with long lashes that are most definitely from M. Her eyes flicker back and forth when she falls asleep and little gas bubble smiles appear at her lips. She fusses and squrims and begs to nurse continuously in the late afternoon, and through the prime time television line up. M carries her in a wrap, pacing through the house. Eventually, she falls asleep and I seize the opportunity to take a hot shower.

I feel like I can manage anything if I get a hot shower every day.

And that's it. The day starts over. She is one day older. One ounce fatter. I love her ten times more.


A Great Day for a Walk

We enjoyed some beautiful weather in Pittsburgh today, and it was plenty warm to take Laurel out for a walk. M wrapped her up in the carrier and took her out in the sunshine. I made it a full three blocks down the street and back.

Laurel Saves Us from the Jehovah Witnesses

Only a week old, and she has already proven her usefulness...

This all starts with a minor plumbing disaster last week, which required M to recaulk the shower this morning. Caulking involves a fair amount of toxic fumes, so Laurel and I were exiled from the second floor for a while this morning. The only thing wrong with the first floor is that there is no bathroom and none of her supplies are down here. And since she poops herself with great regularity, I had to change her on the couch. So anyway, we were chilling downstairs eating and pooping and changing diapers and napping.

She was sleeping peacefully on my lap when there was an, err, overflow of sorts. So I stripped her down and was attempting to clean her up, when it occurred to me this was a perfect time for her bath, which we were planning to do later. So M dragged down the bathing supplies while I wrapped her in the cloth diaper that I was using as a changing pad. Yes, it was covered in poo, but so was she at this point.

And then she peed on me.

So, I'm standing there, covered in pee and poo with a naked baby, who has a satisfied grin on her face. M and I are looking a bit haggard since we were not able to shower on account of the whole caulking thing.

That's when the doorbell rang. Saturday wouldn't be Saturday without a visit from the Jehovah Witnesses. They love coming to our house because we always answer the door. They launched into their usual greeting, when they caught sight of me and the naked baby and the pee and the poo. For the first time ever, they made a quick exit.

We gave Laurel a high five for saving us from the Jesus pitch. And then we gave her a bath.

Now I have a sweet smelling baby laying on my lap asleep.

And she just pooped again.


What's in a Name?

M and I didn't spend a lot of time discussing baby names. We never consulted a book, or made a list. We were basically thinking botanical and traditional. Originally, we called our unborn child Rosemary. However, as you know, our cat is named Rosie. So this just seemed weird.

Mountain Laurel is the state flower of Pennsylvania. It grows in abundance in the mountainous areas all along the Appalachian Trail. We saw tons of it in the spring time in Virginia when we were hiking the AT. It looks similar to a rhododendron (another of my favorite flowers, but this was immediately rejected as a name), but with smaller leaves and more delicate clusters of flowers.

There are many different varieties of laurel across the globe. My Aunt Mary was recently in Spain, and she sent me this picture and wrote:

The tree is called (in French) un laurier rose. They grow all around the Mediterranean, some in pink, some in white. I took this photo in the gardens of the Alcazar in Cordoba on October 10th.
You probably know that the laurel's branches were made into wreathes and used to crown heroes in Ancient Greece and Rome. That's where our title "Poet Laureate" came from. The History of the Laurel Wreath Ovid told the story of Daphne and Apollo, in which Daphne is changed into a beautiful laurel tree. Love from Mary

So we call her Laurel in honor of the mountains we love.

Norine, of course, is the name of my grandmother, who died in February, just as Laurel's tiny heart began to beat. I threw up on the way to the funeral, and we were late, which was probably a good thing, because it might have been awkward to refuse the whiskey toast that happened right before we got there. I'm sorry that she did not have a chance to meet her great-granddaughter, but my grandmother was one person who never objected to me choosing adventure over motherhood in my twenties.

Laurel Norine has some other names. We called her Puddin' during my pregnancy, and still do. And she's also earned the nickname Caterpillar for the way she wriggles out of her swaddling blanket.


Some new pics of Laurel

We'll be adding new pics of Laurel will be added to Flickr with the tag laurelnfrey - if you've got shots of her feel free to do the same. You can view all of them anytime by visiting http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=laurelnfrey&w=all.


Laurel's Birth Adventure

Here's the story of Laurel's entrance into the world.

As you know, we have been eagerly anticipating the birth of our daughter for months now. The nursery was painted, hospital bags packed, and my due date came and went. But no labor. We had to schedule an induction at my 41 week appointment, and were sent on our way to try some of the non-medical tricks, including, but not limited too, a fancy night out on the town, lots and lots of walking, eating eggplant, eating spicy food, walking up stairs, and duck walking. We were hoping to avoid medical induction, but the general rule of thumb is not to let a pregnancy progress past 42 weeks, for the safety of the baby. It was getting down to the wire at 41 weeks and 3 days, when I started experiencing some contractions. Hooray!

The First Part
We spent Tuesday evening at home, trying to relax through contractions. I wasn't able to sleep very much, and by 3:00 am, they were under 5 minutes apart, so off to the hospital we went to get checked. Unfortunately, I had not dilated much, and the contractions started waning a bit, so back home we went. They started to pick up again the next night (naturally, just as I was getting ready to go to sleep), and carried on through the night, so once again we went into the hospital very early in the morning to be checked. This time the contractions were more regular, and I was dilated enough to stay, so we checked into the labor and delivery rooms. Time passed very strangely on Thursday. M put on some music and we walked and hummed and swayed and massaged and got in the hot shower and all that other good labor management stuff. My contractions got more regular and more intense throughout the day and we had high hopes to have a baby by supper time. However, by the evening, I had really significant back pain and was not making any progress with my dilation. This can be a sign that the baby is in a bad position. We did some yoga to try to get her to roll over. Through all of this, M was the most amazing labor coach, and I felt really prepared for this stage of it. I was imagining meeting my daughter in a few hours and that thought was very comforting. It had been a long day, and we both started to doze off for a minute or two in between every contraction.

The Complicated Part

Then things started to get a little complicated, and a bit less "natural."

I hadn't slept properly in two days, so I was starting to get a little tired and a little dehydrated. My contractions were losing intensity and I still was not dilating any more. Nobody could figure out why. They could feel the babies head, the contractions had been strong enough. The midwife suggested some IV fluids, and starting on some pitocin to get things moving along. I felt better right away and was still able to move around the room enough to be comfortable. And then the contractions picked up. Good news, we thought! It's working. They very slowly continued to increase the pitocin drip. I started to feel a lot of pressure and the urge to push, so we paused for a minute to check my dilation and it Still Hadn't Moved. At All.

The Scary Part

How demoralizing. I had been laboring, unmedicated for several days and in pretty hard back labor since early that morning. M might remember the next part a little better, but I think what happened is that I had a very, very strong contraction that did not stop - an overreaction to the pitocin. They had to give me medicine to counteract the pitocin. The baby's heart showed something called a "deceleration", which can indicate distress. Suddenly our quiet birthing room was filled with people. They put an oxygen mask on me. We decided to try an epidural and take a rest for a little while. Originally I was not wild about the idea of somebody poking a needle in my spine, but at that moment it seemed like a very good plan. Plus, I already had an internal catheter monitoring my contractions, and an IV, so it wasn't like I was going to be walking around to manage my pain anymore.


The epidural turned out to be a good idea, although it dropped my blood pressure, which necessitated even more medicine. But it did give us a chance to rest. The midwife came back and we discussed our options...try more pitocin and hope that the epidural would encourage dilation, or do a cesarean. Because I had reacted strongly to a small amount of pitocin before, there was concern that it would stress the baby and lead to an emergency cesarean. We called in the obstetrician that consults with my midwives to hear her opinion. During our conversation, the baby experienced another heart deceleration in response to my contraction, and after checking my cervix once again, and finding no progress, we decided to deliver her via cesarean then.

I have never had surgery, never even been in the hospital before, so being a patient was a novel experience. Once we decided on the cesarean, things moved pretty fast. They changed my epidural to a spinal block, which made my legs feel like giant, lead-filled balloons. I had to have a catheter put in my bladder and wear an oxygen mask. M was given some surgical scrubs to wear. It was a "hurry up and wait" situation, since as soon as we were ready, there was some other emergency and the whole team ran off for a bit. I had to lay on my side to keep good oxygen flowing to the baby while we waited.

The Birth

Finally we were wheeled into the operating room, which was extremely well-lit and filled with people and machines. Everyone from the surgeons to the anesthesiologist was very good about explaining what they were doing. The midwife on call that night was awesome. She stayed with us through the entire thing, and took Laurel's first pictures so that M could stay with me and hold my hand. I was awake for the birth, with M sitting next to my head. As soon as they pulled Laurel out, we heard some reassuring cries. M was allowed to be with her as soon as the NICU team cleared her. After they weighed her, M brought her over to me. Then he took care of her while they closed me up.


It's on odd, odd feeling to have people tugging and pulling and slicing up your insides, all of which you can feel, but without the pain. Having an operation was a scary part of this birth that I didn't expect. The moments right after our daughter's birth were dizzy, nauseous, and uncomfortable for me. All I wanted to do was fall asleep, but I threw up instead. It felt like it took forever, but the whole thing lasted under an hour. We were wheeled back to the labor and recovery room where we had a chance to properly meet Laurel. They did another exam and attached a bunch of ID bracelets to her. Thankfully, she was doing great.


Everyone who told us how amazing having a child is was absolutely right. I think M would agree that Laurel is the best thing that ever happened to us. But she certainly didn't enter the world the way we expected. When they pulled her out, we confirmed that the problem was with umbilical cord compression - it was wrapped once around her neck and again around her shoulder, keeping her from descending properly into the birth canal. She was also facing the wrong way to enter the birth canal, so while they could feel her head during my exams, it was the wrong part. It turned out to be a very good decision to do the cesarean before it was a true emergency for Laurel.

Having had a complication-free pregnancy, I totally expected to write a different kind of birth story. But this is the story of Laurel's entrance into the world, and I think it taught me the first of many parenthood lessons. Your kids will pull all kinds of tricks you weren't expecting, and that you have to make all kinds of difficult decisions to protect them.


Happy Birthday, Laurel

Welcome into the world Laurel Norine Frey.

Born 3:51am on Friday, 6 November 2009. 7lb 8oz and 20 1/4".



Don't get excited...this is not a birth announcement.

But I know you are all on pins and needles waiting for one.

Just wanted to let you know that we are still waiting. We went for something called a "biophysical profile" today, which is an ultrasound to check on the baby's health. She scored an 8/8, which basically means she is doing just fine in there.

So, we'll leave her in there for a little while longer and wait for nature to take its course.

Come on, nature!!


Still Waiting

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.
Arnold H. Glasow

Another weekend come and gone and no baby news to report to you. It was a nice weekend anyway.