Summer’s here and we are doing with it what we can. Summer with kids is wild and exhausting and there’s sand everywhere and somehow more pressure to make weekends fun and adventurous despite the heat and the limited childcare and the fact that work doesn’t change. But it’s also making core memories for your kiddos at beaches coast to coast. It’s finding moments and days to savor the sunshine, the smell of sunscreen, sitting in a cold pool, laughing with friends. It’s ignoring laundry when you need to, in the name of bumming out. Trying to live by Adriene’s wise words of “take responsibility for your vibe” as much as possible.
I’m done with pumping as of yesterday. It’s sucked up so much energy during the day for the past months while I balance work and home life, and after my surgery, my supply was down. It seemed like a natural point – Ollie’s 10 months tomorrow – to just nurse morning and night. With Evie, I nursed four-ish times a day until she started daycare at a year; but once she started going, I didn’t pump to make up for it. I nursed her until two and a half, well into our global pandemic life, and would be happy to do the same with Ollie. But the pumping multiple times a day while trying to work a meeting heavy job is not for me anymore. And that’s ok. Balancing combo feeding (aka some formula and some breastmilk) is what works for us. And so, we shift energy to other things.
I got my gallbladder out this week and I’ve done some more sleeping and some more resting and sitting. When I am healing I tend to pull back from all things and bubble myself into a time. A book, a story, a show. Nothing too contemporary, nothing in the news. Certainly no email. No newsletters. Some mindless internet scrolling to be sure, but nothing below the surface because I am living in the moment.
I once had a boss who told me she didn’t understand I truly needed to disconnect over the weekend. I think it was that job and that role but it still is true – I shut down parts of my world when I’m focusing on others. I don’t know how to float between both, so I do a complete switch and can’t lift the veil until I’m meant to be fully somewhere else.
So before I get back into the world, for now I am reading, drinking coffee, and noticing the nature, as always. I hope you are too.
Oliver was born on July 10, 2022, at 10:46 am. He was 9 pounds, 6 ounces, and 22.5 inches long, making him significantly bigger than his big sister! This labor was so completely different from Evie’s. Early in the morning of the 10th, around 4:40 am. I was feeling a little crampy, and was losing my mucus plug. I texted the midwives at 5:40 am, telling them I was having twenty second contractions that were manageable. About a half hour later, I asked Jeff to get up and call Becca. To which he was like “Call Becca?” and I was like “JUST CALL HER.” She was to come over and watch Evie.
At that point I also had him call Traci (who was coming to support us at the birth center) and then tried to get myself ready. Most of our items were together, but I wanted to eat and have some water, but my contractions were just too close together to do much. I asked Jeff to call the midwives and they said they’d meet us at the birth center around 7:30, which was about an hour from them, which honestly made me feel desperate. I was laboring in our bathroom, trying to eat a yogurt, and waiting for Becca to arrive. Meanwhile Jeff got the car packed up. Becca arrived and we got ready to leave, and as we did Evie woke up and I got to give her a hug goodbye.
We headed to the birth center and my contractions were really close together and really intense. Traci met us at the parking lot, and it took two or three contractions to even get INTO the birth center. Once we were inside, after a few more contractions and a cervical check, Michelle (our midwife) said she was going to do rebozo to get the baby in a better position so that I would have more reasonable contractions. When she checked me, Michelle said, “OK, you are between 7 and 8, I’m going to say 7” and Jeff was like “centimeters?” and I just was like “NO MONKEYS, OBVIOUSLY CENTIMETERS.”
Once I had a (teeny tiny) break in my contractions, Michelle and Jeff did rebozo so that I would be more comfortable and it was like night and day. My contractions went from back-to-back and intense to reasonable 3ish minutes apart. I went from feeling like I absolutely couldn’t do the labor to feeling back to having the power to do it. At this point, Michelle drew a bath so we could labor in the bathtub. Jeff got in with me and we labored there for a couple hours. Traci kept us in music, water, and laughing, and of course was taking pictures and video of the whole thing. I felt like I needed to push not too long into this, and Michelle said I was only 9 centimeters, so to not push quite yet. At that point, I really did think I couldn’t handle the labor, so I asked for some nitrous oxide, taking some deep breaths of that.
I remember several times Michelle explaining to Jeff what was happening in my body, and at one point she mentioned that there’s some time between active labor and pushing where your body gives you a break to catch your breath, so to speak, and feeling like that was bullshit because the contractions were still strong, but in retrospect she was right, and I was in a “lull” for a little while in the tub. Once I started pushing, however, I really felt like I was in unknown territory, because I hadn’t pushed with Evie. I pushed in the tub for a bit, but Michelle asked if I was open to other positions because Ollie wasn’t progressing. So I got out of the tub and was pushing on the birth chair, and finally in bed. At this point, Michelle told me she could see Ollie’s head and I was so doubtful anything was happening. I did say several times I did not want to do this anymore, and she said (and I knew) this was a good sign and that things were moving along well.
Michelle kept asking me for three pushes per contraction, which absolutely wasn’t going to happen – I was focusing on two pushes, max. With some gentle coaxing (hah) I did try to eventually give her three pushes while Tayelor and Jeff supported my legs and Traci continued to document and be my cheerleader. Pushing, as it turns out, really hurts! I was probably on the bed for forty minutes or so before we got Ollie close to out – and at that point, Michelle told me he’d be out on the next push. I asked her repeatedly if I was going to tear, and that was my biggest fear, and she said “You’re not going to tear, you can push as hard as you can on this next push” so I did, and finally, Ollie’s head was out! Michelle turned him a bit to get him in a better position for the rest of his delivery, and I pushed again (maybe twice?) and he was out. I know I had a breather when his head was out to just gear up to push again.
Once little man was out, Michelle was like “I think he’s going to be over nine pounds” which like, good thing no one mentioned as we were pushing!! He was on my chest during this time, while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and waited for me to deliver my placenta (which she said was very large, as well!) Delivering the placenta was more uncomfortable than I thought it was going to be, but once that was done, I was feeling great. No longer nauseated, and our chunky baby was here!! Unlike Evie, Ollie had a name from the get. I got him to latch a bit, and we just enjoyed our time together while Michelle and Tayelor cleaned up, checked us both, etc. Traci put on our non-mellow playlist (we’d started with mellow straight up this time around) and we bopped to some jams and introduced Ollie to Sara Bareilles, naturally.
This second labor was a completely different experience from the first time – in venue (no monitors, no IV, etc.) and in length (Ollie’s labor was six hours total, Evie’s was about twenty four), and in size (6 lbs 9 oz v. 9 lb 6 oz). Plus, Ollie was so long that Michelle measured him twice because it seemed like he just was SO SO long. After about an hour or so of relaxing, having some snacks, and enjoying Ollie, Tayelor helped me up and helped me take a shower. It felt amazing, and then I was helped to dry off, change, and get back in bed. It was so lovely and comfortable at the birth center, and we stayed just a few hours after his birth. Once Ollie and I were cleared for healthiness, we were ready to get home. Traci ordered us sushi and picked it up on the way for us to enjoy. We were home by 2:45, in the blazing hot sunshine of July. I was so proud of myself that I managed to do an out-of-hospital VBAC by advocating for myself, finding the right providers, support people, and of course having a supportive family. I am endlessly, tremendously in awe of Traci for being our overall birthing coach, the team from Gracefull for supporting me through a pregnancy that included thyroid management and low iron counts, on top of being a TOLAC, and of course of Jeff being there the whole way as a birth partner and Dad of the year. And of course thank you to Rebecca for caring for Evie while we were getting Ollie earthside. Traci and Rebecca hung around for most of the day taking turns with hanging with me and hanging with Evie while I rested and took in little Mr. Oliver! We are so glad he’s here, our little missing puzzle piece, who’s smiley and chunky and wonderful.
I’ve been journaling on paper when I can but I can’t remember everything (even though you think you will, but you can’t because who is sleeping these days?)
Here’s where we are at. She’s 7 months 5 days old (every day counts!) and here are some things she’s up to:
- Standing – This is the past 2-3 days, she can get herself flat on her feet if she’s holding on to something – she’s almost standing in her crib and I can hardly believe it
- Sitting – She learned how to do this April 12 – she woke up not being able to, and went to bed a sitting champion. She was about 6 and a half months old. I had to lower the crib to the lowest setting before bed while she cried nearby, cranky and ready to sleep but unable to go to bed in a raised crib any longer!
- Crawling – She’s been crawling in earnest for about a week. She was scooting around on her stomach for a few weeks before that, but she’s cruising around now.
- Eating – She’s into all things pretty much. She’s not CRAZY about avocado but eats it, and she loves loves Bamba, which are basically peanut butter flavored cheese puffs. She has had a lot of different things, from polenta and oatmeal to prunes to kale to cucumber, pears, different meats (some even spicy because I want her to have a higher tolerance than me!) I’ve been pureeing things for her out of ease so I have a bunch of stuff ready, but she’s also eating tiny chunks of meat, and fruit like mango and banana that’s softer, and polenta in little slices.
- Playing – Evie loves her books. She’s into flipping through them and going from book to book to book. She loves being read to, as well, and loves all her touch and feel options. She also loves knocking over stacks of toys, and pulling on her baby dolls hair. And she loves to make noise!
- Other stuff – Her new thing is fake coughing/laughing at everything, screaming while she crawls, crying near the Roomba (it’s terrifying, don’t know you), chewing on books, and when we imitate her noises it really makes her giggle. She doesn’t have any teeth yet, and it doesn’t seem like she’s even close, but that hasn’t stopped her from chewing on everything and eating all foods.
- Sleep – Because I am still home, we are no schedule. Sometimes she wakes at 6 am, sometimes at 8 am. She was sleeping 6:30 pm – 3 or 4 am for a week, then went back to eating between 11-12, and last night she slept 6:30 pm – 6 am, so who’s to say. Fingers crossed that sleeping through the night becomes her new normal – it’d be nice to sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time!
- Signs/Language – She’s saying a lot. She talks all day long, and says “mama” and “baba” and “dada.” She loves to yell. She knows “more,” “all done,” and “eat” quite well, but she’s not signing back yet (except to slam her fist on the table when she wants more of something.) She also loves using her tongue to explore her mouth, and she loves to blow raspberries. She is just learning how to kiss which involves a big slobbery open mouth on yours, but oh how it’s cute!
That’s the majors. I’m going to try to keep track better these next few months here, but we’ll see! Where were your littles at seven months?