And then it happened....

Last weekend, I hoped to have a baby. Contractions came irregularly. I slept a lot. And then Laurel got sick, and I was distracted by that, and the weekend came and went. I took her to the doctor and it turned out she had strep throat. I started a new set of lesson plans for work, while she dozed in her bed and watched Diego on Netflix. My friend, Leah, had predicted the 23rd, but I wasn't feeling optimistic about it. Until, that is, I woke up at 4:30am on the 23rd, ravenous for my customary early-morning bowl of cereal. I had several contractions in bed and they felt different somehow. While I was sitting at the dining room table with my bowl of Chex, my water broke. I thought about what to do, and decided to wake up M. In retrospect, I might have let him sleep a little longer. But he was very excited and immediately set about getting the neighbor to come and watch Laurel and calling my mom and making coffee. Because of my VBAC status, I knew the midwife would tell us to come in for monitoring, but I also knew there wasn't a huge rush, since I wasn't in active labor yet. When we finally left home around 7:30, we decided to stop for some breakfast and went to the very empty Eat n Park in Squirrel Hill. We attempted to walk around a bit outside, but the wind chill was below 0 and we gave up on that quickly. When we got to the hospital, I had to go through the whole strip-down, pee-in-a-cup routine and they hooked me up to a monitor. They confirmed that my water broke and that I wasn't in active labor. We discussed getting some pitocin to get things started. That's when the first of the heart decels showed up on the baby's monitor. Decels sometimes mean something and sometimes don't, but in my case, they were exercising a lot of caution because it's often the first sign of a uterine rupture. The consulting OB said no pitocin and to check in and wait for a few hours to see if anything happened.

We spent a few hours chilling in the Labor and Delivery room. The midwife told us she would come back around 1. M was coding something and I was goofing around on Pinterest. Then around 10:30 am I started to feel real contractions. By 11:30, they were intense and frequent. At first I was up and about. M helped to rub my back and hold me. I asked for the yoga ball and the telemetric monitoring belt so that I could move around a little more, but they started having trouble keeping the baby's heart on the monitor and there were more decels and they made me get in bed and lie on my side. I found this to be a most unpleasant position for managing pain and I started to lose it pretty quickly. I was sweating like crazy and thinking, there is no way I can do this for the next 24 hours (Laurel's labor was very long, so I was imagining a time frame like that). The midwife finally came back and checked my progress and declared that I was at 6cm. Contractions were coming fast and furiously and we tried again to do some other positions, but the baby's heart rate kept going down, and they started to roll me back and forth from side to side in the bed.

The last 45 minutes is something of a blur. I demanded an epidural if I had to stay in bed. My contractions were literally on top of each other as the anesthesiologist was trying to explain every bullet on a very lengthy informed consent document, running from one side of the bed to the other as they rolled me back and forth. I felt an uncontrollable urge to push, which the labor and delivery nurse was trying to get me to stop because the baby's heart rate was slowing down so much. There were many people in the room, my blood pressure plummeted, and then there were hands all over my body taking my pulse in my wrists and neck and ankles (it was in the 30s). They put an oxygen mask on my face. Somebody said, should we just roll her down into the operating room and wait for the OB there. People started to unhook IV bags. It would have been scary, except I was all dizzy from having no blood pressure, so I wasn't thinking about much at all.

And then the doctor arrived. Finally. Our OB reminds me of a television version of an OB. Older, distinguished, makes corny jokes. He told everyone to calm down. He checked me again and I was fully dilated. The baby's heart rate was cranked up high, and I could hear it slow down with every contraction, as the midwife and nurse looked nervously at the screen. He said, "We're going to do this old school." I didn't care what that meant, I was just relieved to not be having another c-section. And that's how Mark Oliver came into this world. Pulled gently out of me with a pair of forceps. He cried immediately and they put him on my chest and the NICU people took a look at him and then disappeared. And slowly people started to leave the room until it was just M and me and our son. Megan arrived with my gluten free pizza and brownie. She was supposed to be another labor support person, but the whole thing happened too fast.

Mark Oliver was very alert and nursed immediately and I felt amazing and it was only 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

And that's how we had a baby.


And then there was a dance party....

The morning seemed particularly dark today. The days are supposed to be inching longer as spring approaches, but it's still January and 6 am is still very early. We ignored the alarms and woke up slow, scrolling through the New York Times on my phone from bed, waiting to hear Laurel stir. A cup of coffee for M and rooibos tea for me. A "ba-waffle" for Laurel, with plenty of jam. Lots and lots of oranges. Laurel shouted from dream-land on and off all night, but seemed to wake up refreshed. She got to wear her favorite skirt, and the fight over brushing her teeth was less dramatic than usual. For some reason, she suddenly hates the taste of virtually all toothpaste, even the sweet children's brand. I found something to wear that actually fits, good since I have two meetings to attend today.

M and Laurel set out for school and work. She blows kisses enthusiastically while I wave from inside. Yesterday she snuck a harmonica into her lunchbox when we were not looking, so I frisked her before she left. ("Only one teacher laughed, Mama. Other teachers took it away.")

And while we got ready there was a dance party. Are you reading from your office? Close the door right now, hit play, and move your body. I guarantee you will feel better after.


Nap Gamble and Other Parenting Adventures

M reads scary Norse myths to Laurel every night. "Mips," she calls them. I have a hard time following the stories myself, so I'm not sure what she's getting out of it, but it's a welcome change from Thomas the Tank Engine, and she listens in rapt attention.

Laurel did many things on purpose to piss me off today. I'm sure of it. I would say that 99% of the time I can figure out a behavior for a kid and it means something...a need they are trying to meet, or perhaps they are simply solving a problem in a way that doesn't make sense to us and it looks like a misbehavior. But there's the 1% of the time when the kid is actually looking at you, eyes all twinkly and daring, and you can tell...they just want to get your goat. For their own entertainment.

It started with stripping off all of her clothes and rubbing her butt on the couch cushions. I was able to stop her before she dumped out the paint water and paintbrushes. But while I was cleaning up, she busted into the pantry and stole a box of cheddar bunnies 10 minutes before dinner and then shoved them in great handfuls into her mouth while I chased her around the house. And by chase, I mean shuffle, because I am nine months pregnant and very slow and rather wide.

On Sunday, we had a delightful day at Phipps Conservatory. So delightful that we pressed our luck a bit and ate at the cafe and then went to the library to get some books. By the time we got home, Laurel was glassy eyed and whiny. She took a very long nap, which resulted in a very delayed bedtime and we were reminded that messing with naps and bedtimes usually has consequences that last many days and may or may not be worth it. When we were on the self-employed train, we just slept in and all was fine the next day. But now we have to stick to a 6 am alarm.

I can't do much of anything right now without wondering what it will be like with another kid in the mix. Despite all the antics tonight, I was able to throw together a delicious, well-balanced dinner (roasted cauliflower and sundried tomatoes over GF pasta and a salad). How will I keep Laurel entertained and clothed during dinner prep, while I'm nursing a newborn? We will probably just eat cheddar bunnies for dinner.


Hurry Up and Wait

In a fit of early pregnancy enthusiasm/paranoia I signed up for one of those Babycenter email lists where you get a weekly update and they compare the size of your baby to some fruit or vegetable. (Usually an odd comparison. This week it's Swiss chard.) I immediately regretted giving my real email address and Babycenter is relentless in its ability to skirt any type of filter I try to set up to divert these ridiculous emails to my spam folder. And don't even get me started on the unsubscribe feature.

Now that I'm full-term (37 weeks), the update was all about how to keep yourself occupied during this I'm-fat-I-can't-sleep-I-have-to-pee period while you wait for labor to start. Get a haircut. Make a lunch date with friends. Read a novel. Schedule a spa treatment. Those were the suggestions. For pregnant ladies living the leisurely life, who are apparently not working, but also have a lot of discretionary income.

Those things didn't really seem practical. Instead, I got a job, decided to head up a committee to organize a home renovation workshop for 100 people in March, and despite my original intentions to keep this month very chill and clear...I just can't stop RSVPing to community meetings. I'm a community organizing junky. Do not complain to me about crime or traffic and then say, "someone should do something about it." Because I will, and I'll make you come to the meeting with me. It runs in my family. I have a cousin who is not even 25 and is the mayor of his town.

I figure this is the best way to coax this kid out. And if he decides to stay put until 42 weeks like Laurel did, well, then I'll have had a very productive month and won't be bored.

Just so you all know, 42 weeks will be February 12. That's Abe Lincoln's birthday. And also M's. That's more or less the end of the line for this pregnancy because they get all antsy and start fiddling with you to get the baby out once you've gone "post-date".  As Laurel puts it, "I wouldn't come out so a doctor cut me out with a knife!" Yes, we have discussed the different ways babies come into the world and she gleefully recounts her entry, much to the horror of the people standing in line next to us at the Coffee Tree. Sorry about that. (At least she didn't start talking about vaginas. Oh, the downsides of being honest with your kids.)

I called M yesterday to make arrangements for some minor this-or-that and he yelled at me for using the phone. "Only call if you are in labor!" he told me. Apparently he cut off his boss mid-conversation to answer the call or something like that. Therefore, I will now be texting him unless something exciting starts happening with my uterus.

So, enjoy the wait with me. Remember we are a family who blogs and tweets and facebooks and all that, so you will definitely know when this baby is born. No need to worry that you were left out of the loop. There will be an announcement and probably 13,000 pictures.


Sending them Off

Now that M is working just a few miles down the road from our house, he's been walking to work and dropping Laurel off at daycare along the way. The sun is barely rising when they set off, all bundled up in boots and hats and gloves. On the really cold days, Laurel wears a balaclava and looks like a little ninja. Today, it was only 18 degrees. I hear about bits and pieces of their antics when we are back together for dinner. Snowball fights and stopping at John and Maggie's corner store for coffee and fruit cups. Greeting the crossing guard and petting all of Laurel's favorite dogs, out for their morning walks.

Today was a right-side-of-bed kind of day. I woke up at 5, and being totally awake, decided to do a little work then. I swear my body is starting to get ready for sleeping in 2-3 hour stretches. Laurel woke up at 6 and came downstairs to get me. I asked her if we should wake M up, but she said, "Maybe we make him some coffee first." Good idea.

Now the house is quiet and I have to exercise extreme self-control to keep plugging away at work. Strategy number one is to make all the beds first thing, so I am not tempted to crawl back in. Strategy number two is to get dressed all the way, so that I do not find myself in pajamas at noon. Strategy number three is to work in 45 minute segments, taking a 10 minute dance party break after each one. I'm all about the Prince today.


These Days

I'm hitting the last weeks of pregnancy and am alternately ready to be holding a baby already and utterly terrified at that prospect and willing to stay pregnant forever.

It's a confusing place to live.

You would think that once you have a baby, the second go-around would be fairly routine. I mean, I know what happened last time and that was only 3 years ago! I had a moment of panic the other day and checked out a big thick baby care manual from the library. I read it and was like, oh yeah, feed them, rock them, change them, repeat. Whew. Yes, it's really that simple. I know how to do that. And then I read the part about newborns only sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches and I started panicking all over again and thinking that it's going to be spring at the very earliest before I sleep, and if this baby is like Laurel it will be the spring of 2014. Gah. And I can't even drink coffee now to get myself through it.

M & K Thru-hike the Appalachian TrailTonight I was thinking about mountains and how much I like to hike up them, but also how much fear is involved in that for me. I love the rhythm of finding a nice stride going uphill. Even if you are in good shape, it starts to feel impossible after a while. The mountain goes on and on. You think you see a peak, but you get there and there's more to climb. For me, if the wind so much as starts to blow I worry about a thunderstorm. Sometimes it's slippery and the trail goes really close the edge. Sometimes, after you've walked over a few hundred mountains, you wonder what in the world you are still doing walking over mountains. Then, the peak comes. You are perhaps rewarded with a view. You say, I just kicked that mountain's ass! I feel amazing! I am on top of the world! Life is good. But for me, that exhilaration always came with pit in my stomach. I feel vulnerable and exposed and worry that Nature is coming to get me in the form of a lightening storm or mountain lion attack. I immediately start thinking about getting the heck down off that mountain.

I am both empowered and terrified.

This is motherhood to me. Today I felt good about what I have taught Laurel so far....with the philosophy that I am educating a person, not training a child to behave. It's tedious and I often don't know if what I'm doing is "working". But it does feel empowering from time to time when your kid suddenly makes another developmental leap and you can see how you helped them to that place. I rocked that mountain.

Motherhood terrifies me because it's such a place of vulnerability for me. Being honest with your kids is harder than I imagined. The father of one of our friends died this week and Laurel found the sympathy card I was sending. It would be easier to gloss over it. Maybe call it a birthday card or something. Much harder to find the appropriate words to tell your three year old that people die and it makes other people sad and here's one tiny little thing we can do to make someone feel better. But it does not make it go away. And yes, everyone dies. Gulp. I want to get down off this mountain right now.

Empowered and terrified. That's what I am these days.


Do You Want to Die on this Mountain?

What is up with three? Laurel's potty trained, she can feed herself, makes hilarious observations about the world, and can tell us where it hurts.

Parenting should be a breeze, right?

ZOMG. No. Three year olds are insane. Laurel is so p.o.'d at us sometimes that she yells at us in her sleep. Sometimes she walks into our room and gets into our bed and wakes us up, just to yell at us. You are hurting my feelings. I didn't like when you said no to going to the purple playground. I love you, but you are not a good mommy. Reliving the perceived transgressions of the day.

She's very bossy, too. And if you do what she says, she gets mad and wants you to do something else.

We are considering buying some kind of straight-jacket device so that we can wrestle her out of wherever we are trying to leave without sustaining great bodily injury. Have you ever seen what they use to capture alligators? You could say that transitions have gotten a bit...errrr...challenging.

And she won't eat any vegetables except for saurkraut.

I threw away all my parenting books during my deeply sleep-deprived days when nothing seemed to work to make Laurel sleep through the night. And I gotta admit, I've been kind of winging it since then.  Staying off the old internet message boards and parenting blogs. Feeling very good about my gentle discipline parenting style. Mutual respect and all that.

We went on a 3,000 mile long road trip together a few months ago. And it was actually fun to hang out "all both together" as she puts it. Like, we actually had a rockin' good time on vacation with our kid. That's how awesome Two was.

I googled.  I read this. And this. And the quote that stood out for me was "Do you want to die on this mountain?" Pretty much anybody who is writing about three year olds ends up here. As in, choose your battles. Their (completely developmentally appropriate) behavior can be challenging. They are compelled by their little brains to exert independence and control.

It's actually kind of funny at times.

But do not laugh at your three year old.

That makes them really mad.