Sunday, September 30, 2012

Greta, 2 months

I'll start with words and leave you with pictures.  Because, as usual, I'll assume you all want to hear what I have to say.  Particularly when I prattle on about my baybee, because everyone loves hearing about my baybee.  Maybe that's the blessing of blogs; since we Mama's get all our gloating on the internet, you don't have to listen to us go onandon when you sit next to us at a soccer game.

In case it isn't already evident, from my rambling non-sensical ramblings, I'm tired.  As in, pour-coffee-into-my-breakfast-cereal tired.  I'm certain it comes from two months without a solid night of sleep.  And really, Greta's doing pretty well.  The past few nights she's gone 5-7 hours, which is excellent!  Though that never really translates to 5-7 hours of sleep for me, because of course our bedtimes don't align, and of course I feel the need for a beer and some crappy TV once the kiddos are asleep.  These are the things that keep me sane.  So I'm pretty pleased with the sleep I've been getting, but I still just feel really out of it much of the time.  That is the way moms of newborns are supposed to feel, I guess.

I don't feel like I can really call her a newborn anymore, either.  She feels so solid and baby-like.  Much less newborn-like.  She smiles consistently, though I had a big fail trying to capture that.  There's really not a whole lot to say about a baby this age.  I'm so totally in love with her, but I understand fully why other people aren't necessarily very interested in them.  They just don't do that much!  She doesn't much like tummy time.  She smiles some and is a generally happy baby.  She's starting to became enamored with MJ, and it seems MJ is starting to become interested in her, as well.  Greta just stares at her when MJ sings to her or tries to play with her.  MJ has taken to calling her "Gigi", though pronounced with hard "G"s.  How would one spell that?  Elissa?  Clearly, I'm a fan of nicknames and we've taken to calling her Gigi as well.  A nickname of a nickname?  Why not.

Nursing has suddenly been going really well.  She had a big growth spurt last week, constantly eating, sometimes 7 oz. at a go.  I was pumping a ton to compensate for how much she was eating, and I just got tired of it and started nursing her.  And she was satisfied!  A first for us.  Furthermore, it has actually been upping my supply, which was starting to go down with almost exclusively pumping.  She nurses and is content, and when I pump afterwards there's not much, suggesting she really is eating quite a bit.  And she'll go a nice long stretch afterwards without eating.  Previously she would only eat a little, so I still had to pump after and frequently still had to give her a bottle after.  Now, in the middle of the night, we just nurse.  Throughout the day we do some of both.  I'm shocked that I'm saying this because I really felt like things were going in the opposite direction.  I thought my supply was going down and we'd never really start breastfeeding in a meaningful way.  I still am not convinced things will continue in this way, since it's only in the past 3 to 4 days this has happened.  It's been such a roller coaster.  It's hard to not get caught up in it all, even though I swore this time I wouldn't obsess so much.  And although I haven't staked my self worth on how much milk I can produce, I still find myself getting caught up.  Maybe it's inevitable.

So.  Sleeping and eating.  I think I've covered all the bases.  I can't get enough of this little girl.  I'm so excited to see the little person she will become.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A day in the life

While I find these posts interesting, I had no desire to do one because it just seemed like a pain in the arse.  And, to be honest, the mundane details are a bit much for me.  But a conversation with DH yesterday made it clear that I need to do one.  He could not comprehend what I do all day, and I couldn't really explain it.  I knew that I was busy all day long, that I'm doing stuff all day long, but couldn't explain where all the time goes.  So I decided to do one to explain it to myself, and to him.  You guys just get to hear it, too.

Sunday, 23 September
11 pm: I decided to start my day with bedtime.  Because the course of my day is entirely dictated by how much sleep I get.  I laid down so late because DH kindly/mistakenly let me sleep so late yesterday morning.

11:30:  finally give up trying to sleep.  Meal plan for the week.  Apply for a mortgage (we're considering buying a rental property, my goal this week is to figure out financing, which is a little complicated because it's an investment property..)

Monday, 24 September
12:20 Lay down again.  Feel tired enough to sleep and start to drift off.
12:30  Greta wakes up.  Give her a bottle.  Catch up on Facebook and Twitter on my phone.  This is a big difference since MJ was born.  I didn't have an Iphone then, and didn't spend nearly so much time connected.  I'm generally not a fan of Facebook, but have found that I know far more about people's lives than I want to because I'm in the nursing phase of life.  I think this should be a named phase, much like "Retirement", because it has such a bearing on your activities.  Maybe it's the same as the "diapering years", but diapering doesn't really affect what you do with your time.
12:40.  Change Greta.  Reswaddle her and lay her in her crib.  Make sure she's settled.
12:47.  Pump.  Had pumped only two hours prior so this is a short session.
12:55.  Wash pump parts.  Put milk in fridge.  Bathroom.  Convince myself that Greta is asleep or close enough to it to try to sleep.
1:00.  Lay down.  Apparently sleep worked.
3:29.  Greta up.  Bring her into bed to nurse.  Also give her a small (2 oz) bottle to insure she got enough. This is the wake up that she often has a hard time settling back to sleep from, so I just keep her next to me so I can keep her Nuk in.  Half sleep for next few hours.
6:40  Return Greta to cradle.  Climb into bed.
7:40.  Chaos.  Apparently MJ woke up and I wasn't aware of it.  Go sleep in guest room and let DH deal with the girls so I can get some extra sleep.  This is the deal we've worked out. I get up with Greta through the night, then from 6 or 7 on (depending on the night) DH takes over (supposing his schedule that day allows for it).  He takes MJ into school and deals with Greta.  It means I miss out on some family time but get enough sleep, so I think we'll continue this for a while. 
9:40.  Greta wakes up.  Not sure how long DH and MJ have been gone, I'm guessing about an hour.  Give Greta a bottle.  Settle her in her cradle, make sure she's happy.
9:55. Pump.  Entertain Greta while pumping.

I feel compelled to include some pictures.  Many of them are blurry.  Here is the chair where I spend much of my day.  Super comfy.  Super cute when not filled with crap.  
10:06.  Change her diaper.  Get dressed.

  10:13  Go downstairs to this, and intend to clean.

Absolutely trashed from the weekend.  This is not a slam on DH, but he definitely doesn't help with the cleaning.  If I had his job I probably wouldn't either.  But everything stays where it was placed.  Dishes don't get put away.  Papers are left where they were set down after reading. 

Instead, need to calm Greta.  Turns out she likes being sung to.  Didn't know this.  We have a rousing rendition of "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.

10:22 Start cleaning kitchen.  Pour coffee.  So in love with iced coffee, I will miss this once the cold weather hits.  I can't even comprehend how people with small children can get by without drinking coffee.

10:30.  Greta not having it. Try again to settle her.  She's sitting in her carseat in the kitchen.  Seems to want to sleep.
10:36.  Clean a bit.
10:42.  Still upset.  Try feeding her more.  For a while she was consistently eating every 3 to 4 hours, consistently eating 4 oz.  She seems to be upping her amount, so we're constantly guessing whether she's still hungry.  Didn't want a bottle, but likes being held.
10:47.  Settles down.  Try to clean.
10:50.  Give up.  Moby wrap her.  Pukes all over the place.  Maybe this was the issue? 
10:55.  Start cleaning with her strapped to me.  That doesn't work either.
10:58.  Back in her carseat.  She spends a lot of time in her car seat, seems to love it.  MJ was the same.
11:00.  Back in the Moby.  Frustrated.  Nothing is working. Tempted to give up and go for a walk.  But this time it works!  She falls asleep!  I commence cleaning!
11:10.  Return sleeping Greta to carseat.  It works.

 11:33.  Done!  I finish the dining room too.  Certainly not spotless but it pacifies me.

11:36:  Try to do laundry, but the washer didn't spin for some reason and the clothes are soaking wet.  I have serious issues with these new fangled HE washers.  They're good when they work but so often don't.  Set it to spin again.  So I go upstairs and review a quote from a landscaper for some work we want to have done in the backyard.  We need to replace a fence and a retaining wall, and are considering doing more.

11:46.  Look at reviews for double strollers.  Thought we could get by without one, but it has been prohibiting long walks and we're thinking of springing for one.

11:53.  Greta wakes up.  Furious child.  Change diaper and get stuff ready to leave the house.  Beautiful day, I think we're all feeling a bit stir-crazy and hope some fresh air will appease her.
12:11.  In the van.  Greta calms down with movement but gets fussy frequently during the drive.  I suspect she's hungry and hope she'll last until we get to the park.
12:23.  Arrive at Crosby Farms but it's closed!  Under construction!  Greta screaming, no where to park to feed her.  Head across the river to Lilydale.
12:31.  Arrive at Lilydale.  Feed Greta.  Read post by Law Momma about her 3 year old that convinces me that the fourth year (from 3 to 4) is terrible for everyone, not just me.  Having Greta means added frustrations, but also reminds me I'm not just a terrible parent, because I rarely get frustrated with Greta.  3 sucks.  That's the conclusion I come to. 
12:45.  Load up stroller.  Finally on a walk!  It's beautiful out, 70 degrees and possibly the last remaining warm day of the season.  I walk on a trail we went on with MJ the other day, only she threw a tantrum the whole time and was generally unpleasant.  It's nice to walk with a happy, fed baby in the beautiful weather.  I actually get far enough from roads to find some quiet.  The main thing I dislike about cities is the noise, so sometimes I have to seek out some quiet to regain sanity.

1:15.  Greta still awake but totally content; she loves the outdoors.  Turn around to head back to car.
1:24.  Finally asleep.  Not a peep!  Finish walk.
1:44.  Arrive back at car.  6,000 steps!  Have been aiming to get out for a good walk every day and continue to lose the baby weight.  I'm up 9 pounds from pre-pregnancy, losing about a pound a week.  Could be worse, but would really enjoy fitting into my pants again.
1:58.  Arrive back home.
2:03.  Pump.  4.5 oz.  Supply seems to be back.  We had a babysitter on Saturday night and I went too long without pumping a couple times, seemed to affect my supply, but it seems to be back to normal.
2:10.  Try for laundry again.  Still hasn't spun!  Lint trap appears to be clogged.  Change it, try the spin cycle again.
2:17.  Must choose between lunch or shower, as I don't think the nap will last much longer.  As you can see, I need a shower.  But lunch wins.  I heat up some frozen taquitos.  Guilty pleasure that I don't eat when MJ is around.
2:21.  Front porch.  Beautiful day!  Research strollers some more.  Dishes.
2:31.  Greta wakes up, but seems to settle down again.  Decide to risk it and hop in shower.
2:43.  Greta wakes up again.  Shower done!
2:48.  Back asleep.  Ugh.  Hungry?  Don't know.  Decide to call Citibank for some mortgage questions.  Of course Greta wakes up the moment I'm no longer on hold.  I feed her while answering questions.  Lots of cries, but thankfully the customer service rep was understanding.  I think he has a small child at home too.
3:16.  Off the phone.  Change diaper and clothes.
3:23.  Tummy time!!  Doesn't go well.  Pack stuff up to leave the house.
3:33.  In car.  On my way to pick up MJ at head to swim class.
3:40.  Arrive at daycare.  Check to make sure towel is in car ; relieved that it is.  Thankfully MJ comes without issue today.  Often this departure is a tantrum because I arrive when she's in the middle of something fun and she doesn't want to come.
3:46.  Back in car.  Endure 200 questions and lots of traffic on our way to swim class.  Better than whining.  Someday I will count the actual number of questions.
4:09.  Arrive at pool.  Pickup was smooth and traffic minimal, so we have lots of time.  Get MJ into her swimsuit.  Endure obligatory stop at potty, simply because it is kid sized and therefore must be visited.
4:16.  Dressed and ready.  Sit by pool and breathe a sigh of relief.
4:22.  Dad arrives!!  SCREAMS!!! Try to keep MJ from running on the wet floor but fail.
4:30.  Class starts.  It appears the trouble maker boy is absent, but he shows up after a little bit.  Watch him splash the two other kids in the class and be a general pain in the arse.  This time his parents actually try to discipline him, so that's a step in the right direction.  Also, this time MJ was also a bit of trouble so my high horse is not so inpenetrable.
5:00.  Class done.  (Note: Greta has been sleeping this ENTIRE time.  Dad asks during class if this counts as a date since both of our children are otherwise engaged.  I note that it is a sad state of affairs if we have to be asking this question.)  Get MJ changed into street clothes.  Tactfully try to explain why there is a little girl using a nebulizer in the changing room.  Wait as MJ takes adult sized dump in the kiddy toilet.
5:15.  Back in van.
5:18.  Arrive at Chipotle next door.  Enjoy a relatively uneventful meal and some Dad time before he has to go back to work.  Give Greta a bottle.
5:49.  Dinner done.  Back to van.  Kiss Dad goodbye, he leaves for meeting.  Endure MJ's sing-yelling the entire way home.  Turn radio up to drown her out until she is so loud I can't even hear the radio and demand she quiet down.  Finally a song by Lumineers comes on the radio and she claps along, both of us pacified for the moment.
6:11.  Arrive home.  Disembark.
6:18.  Pump.  MJ plays with loud banging toy.  Try to remember if I got her this, in which case what was I thinking.  Or someone else, in which case thanks!  She loves it!  Still plays with it two years later!

6:28.  Finish pumping.  Change Greta's diaper.  Head outside.
6:39.  MJ is ready to scooter.  Argue about why we are not going to the park and we are just staying in front of the house.  Finally okay with it once she sees neighbors are out.  Neighbor stops by, happy to hold Greta and get his baby fix.  We end up in an in-depth conversation on schools, starting children early (which we're considering for MJ) and the right fit for your kid.  MJ stalks his cat, plays with his boys, and goes in his house for something?  Don't know.  It takes a village, and the village is happy to entertain her.  Beautiful fall evening, just happy to get everyone outside.  Greta busy starting at a tree but eventually falls asleep.  All is well.
7:20.  Back inside.  Lay Greta down.
7:28.  Get MJ in bath and of course Greta wakes up.  Attempt to pacify her for the remainder of the bath.
7:50.  Bath done.  Get ready for bed.  Have conversation with MJ about whether she's up to undies, as she's had MANY accidents the past few days.  Agree to give undies a shot.  Give Greta a bottle because she's not calming down.
8:10.  Dad gets home!!  OMGG!!!! THE BEST THING EVER!!!  We all settle in MJ's room and read books.  This is one of my favorite parts of the day, as it's the only time MJ really cuddles.
8:25.  Nearly done reading books.  Has been a really excellent evening with no real tantrums.  MJ announces she's hungry and we tell her she'll have to wait until morning.  I don't actually believe she's hungry, just stalling.  This sparks a total, balls to the wall meltdown.  We try to tuck her in but it's no use.  We say good night and turn off the light.
8:30.  Start puumping.
8:33.  MJ still screaming.  Now Greta starts screaming.
8:36.  Greta calms down.  MJ still screaming.
8:40.  Finish pumping.  Wash pump parts.
8:50.  Tantrum finally ends.  I go in to tuck her in again.  Dad goes in after me and tantrum starts AGAIN.  Poor Dad.  What a horrible thing to come home to.
9:00.  Tantrum ends, this time for good.  MJ in bed.  Dad worn out.  Mom worn out.  Mom gets a beer.  Head upstairs to watch mindless TV, address birth announcements and work on this post.  Head to bed ~11:00 and start it all over again.

I learned a couple things from this post.
1)  I live my day in 5-10 minute increments.  That's really the length of time that anything happens for, most of the time.
2)  I spend quite a lot of time in my minivan.  My glorious, glorious minivan.  I've thought about trying to find swim classes closer to home, but that drive is one of the only calm parts in my day.
3)  Greta really does take most of my time when MJ is at preschool.  I thought I was getting more time to do other things, but no.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 53

I'm sitting here waiting for Greta to wake up.  So that I can feed her and go to bed.  Though now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I'm tired enough to fall asleep.  I'm very tired, mind you, but my brain always has to be in that special place to actually fall asleep.

So a little update.  Without pictures, because that's one step too many.

I've been trying to think how to describe life with two kids.  I often catch myself thinking "And I thought having just an infant was hard".  But MJ has been going to preschool during the day, and I'm with just Greta much of the time, and it still feels hard during those times.  So what is the difference?

With just an infant, you really don't have time to do much of anything other than watch the infant.  Cooking, laundry, cleaning; all difficult because your hands are almost always full with a baby, or you're pumping (in my case) or changing a diaper or rocking.  But you have lots of time to think about all the things you're not doing, because actually watching the baby doesn't take much brain power.

With two, I no longer have time to even think.  I am simply running on auto pilot anytime both children are awake and active.  I am constantly calculating what are realistic expectations to set for MJ, what order to do things in (MJ WANTS FOOD!! GRETA WANTS MILK!!  Who wins?  It's a constant calculation of how to best satisfy everyone).  I don't have time or energy to try to stay patient; I am simply on autopilot and hopefully the kiddos get patient mom today.  Which is entirely dependent on how much sleep I've had, how much coffee, and whether the moon is in the right alignment.  And then, at the end of the day, or for brief moments during the day, I look at everything that hasn't happened.  I think about the fact that it's fall and beautiful.  I think about the birth announcements that are still sitting unsent.  But I don't get nearly as much time to even think about those things when I am watching both girls. 

But all in all, life has been pretty sweet.  I truly don't know how women (or men) that watch an infant and a toddler all day long do it.  At least, if they watch the kiddos and don't have a spouse around.  I assuage my guilt for having MJ in preschool with the knowledge of how very much DH works; he has been gone every evening this week save one, and will be gone every evening next week.  So if I didn't have MJ in preschool during the day I would be solo parenting for entire days most of the time.  I know some women do this.  I think I would lose my mind.

Greta has been interacting more.  Smiling lots, with the exception of these last few days as she battles her first cold.  It makes me glad to be breast feeding (which is really mostly pumping with a little bit of breastfeeding) because it has been a minor cold, and I like to think it's because of that.  I should clarify she smiles a lot when she's fed, changed and awake, which is not for huge chunks of the day. 

She has been sleeping a bit better.  We get 4ish hour stretches rather than 3, which makes a huge difference.  Furthermore, she wakes, eats, and goes back to sleep.  No more middle of the night parties.  I have to acknowledge that she is (usually) amazingly easy to get back to sleep.  The whole idea of "put them down drowsy but awake" actually works on her.  I used to try that with MJ but always ended up rocking/bouncing her to sleep.  I lay Greta down, swaddled with her Nuk, and she just peacefully drifts off to sleep. It's amazing.  Sometimes I wish she needed to be rocked a little more, but I know better than to establish that habit and just thank my lucky stars.  I also know this could change at any time, but I'll take it and hope it continues.

That's about all I've got.  MJ continues to be a great big sister.  This week we ditched the last vestige of diapers; she now sleeps through the night in undies, and we've gone 8 nights with no accidents.  We had her third birthday party last weekend, which I dare say was a blast.  Complete with apple bobbing and a pinata, and lots of crazy toddlers.  I didn't get many pictures because I was too busy hosting, but suffice it to say that MJ got it.  This party was for her. The presents were for her.  This is the first year it has sunk in, and she is now a huge fan of birthdays.  It's probably fair to say that it all went to her head a bit, but maybe that's unavoidable?  When everyone gives you presents and sings to you, you probably just think you're the bomb.  
Alright.  Greta is still not awake, but I am definitely tired enough.  So to sleep I go.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MJ. 3 years old.

Well little girl, it should come as no surprise that your birthday wishes are a little late.  I was busy making your real-life birthday special, and surviving.  But this is the part that you may read someday, so it's worth commemorating.

Your continue to be an amazing little person.  You make me proud and frustrated at every turn.  Your quest for independence is never ending.  Since your sister has come along, this has been a wonderful help.  You can do many things for yourself.  You can get dressed with minimal help, go potty, get breakfast, get things that you want, and entertain yourself.  But it also means that you are constantly trying to push further.  You may be ready for this, but I'm not always ready.  I have watched to see how far away from me you would run in public, but the answer is that you would go much further than I can comfortably let you, and I always end up calling you back.

Your loves: coloring, Curious George, doctor stories, Elmo, cake, strawberries, your scooter, puzzles, games, babies.

Your hates (we had a long conversation about that word today): ants, thunder, fireworks.  There's really not much you don't like.  It's pretty much just ants and loud noises.

In reality, you are a wonderfully well behaved kid, especially given how "spirited" you are.  You have started backtalking,. tantrums and generally testing limits.  But generally you do as we ask.  You are good at sharing, and helping, and putting toys away.  These may sound like little things, but it makes me a proud mama when I see you be kind to other kids.

You love school.  I had thought a lot about keeping you home during my maternity leave, but I see how you blossom at school, and how much you learn, and how engrossed you are when the teacher is talking to you, and decided that it would be a disservice to you to take you away from that.  As every mom thinks, I think you're one smart little cookie.  I got you a puzzle for your birthday that I thought was far beyond your abilities, only to find you could do it all by yourself with minimal help from me.  I've been thinking a lot about what school you'll be going to, because I want to make sure that you don't lose this zest for learning. 

And you never. stop. talking.  You are SO full of questions.  I find it frustrating because it robs every moment of silence, but I also find it wonderful how fascinated with the world you are.  It is so fun to teach you things.  I get to teach you abstract concepts, like seasons, time, etc., and didn't realize what an amazing experience that would be. 

You have been a wonderful big sister.  I suspect some of it may change when Greta becomes more of a threat, given how upset you were when she "kicked" you the other day, but for the time being the transition has been better than I expected. 

Your Dad is fond of saying that you will change the world some day, and I wholeheartedly agree.    I'm a bit scared of the emotional intensity that comes with being three, but I'm so proud of the little person you're becoming.  I want to bottle up these moments and save them forever.  Since that isn't possible, I must settle for trying to enjoy each moment as much as I can.  Thank you for giving me so many moments to enjoy.  As sad as I am for all the moments I'll never get back, I am so excited for all the moments to come.  Thank you, little girl. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Greta's Birth Story

One of the more frustrating things in life is a peacefully sleeping baby, coupled with the inability to fall asleep myself.  DH kindly took Greta this morning so I could get some extra sleep, but I didn't realize he'd let me sleep as long as I wanted!  I slept until noon, and now can't fall asleep for anything.

So I'm trying to get some things done.  And drinking a beer in the hopes it will help me fall asleep.

Let's go back a month.  On Saturday, July 28th, we went to a going away party for some dear friends of ours.  They were our first friends in Minnesota and are greatly missed.  At the time, I thought we would see them again before their departure, so it didn't really feel like a goodbye.  That, and I hate goodbyes, so I usually just avoid them.  It was a wonderful party.  MJ was up late that night, probably not getting to bed until about 10 o'clock.  I felt completely blissed out.  It was an absolutely phenomenal evening.  I'm not sure quite how to describe it, but the feeling was one of elation, intoxication (and no, nothing was imbibed).  At first I felt like it was due to it being a wonderful party, which it was, but as DH and I were crawling into bed I realized that the feeling was the exact same as I had had the evening before I went into labor with MJ (which was at a Regina Spektor concert).  I made a comment to DH that if I was a betting person, I would bet that I would go into labor with MJ that night.

I got up many times that night to pee, and as the early morning hours started to roll around I began to despair.  Like, really despair.  I had been really, really certain that I was going to go into labor.  And now it looked like I was wrong.  But about 6 am I woke up with very mild cramping.  I thought it was wishful thinking, but (of course) hoped it was the real thing.  By 7 they were real enough that I began to wonder if I wasn't imagining it.  I decided to get things ready, just in case.  I got out of bed and made some cinnamon rolls.  I packed up the last of the things that needed to come to the hospital with us.  At 7:45 I had some bloody show, and I started to become convinced this was it.  I was nervous to notify anyone, because I didn't want to be wrong.  But the show convinced me to contact our doula.  Just a head's up, in case she was trying to plan her day.

MJ woke up about 8 and was ecstatic to see cinnamon rolls waiting for her.  We ate some together then woke up Dad.  I told him I thought I was in labor and he should get up and get things together.  He was totally skeptical but I ignored him.

Apparently at 8:45 I started sending out emails to people (because I have a record of this).  My contractions were 7 to 9 minutes apart.  I asked our friends if they could watch MJ for the day.  I told my work that I would not be coming in and sent them my timesheet info.  I was pretty convinced, apparently.  I still was afraid that things would totally stall but didn't want to be caught in a panic situation.  I also lost my mucous plug at 10 am.  So by about 10ish (10:30?) MJ was at our friends house with enough stuff to stay the night if needed.  She was excited for it and completely oblivious when contractionts hit, but I was relieved when she was gone. I knew she was in safe hands and I didn't have to worry about anything other than getting the baby out. 

After DH came home from dropping MJ off we sat and watched some olympics.  I had some strong contractions and called the oncall midwife.  Contractions were 5-7 minutes apart.  She seemed subdued, unconvinced this was anything serious yet, but I was convinced.  I took some Zofran at 11, because I was starting to feel nauseous and wanted to head off the extreme nausea that had gotten me last time.  I ate part of a sandwich, largely because I was told to.  Our doula showed up about 11 to see how things were going.  We chatted for a while, and my contractions lessened.  We went for a walk and things seemed to have totally slowed down.  This was exactly what I was scared of: putting everyone on alert for nothing.  After our walk, about 12:30, when it seemed nothing was happening, our doula went home for a while.  We sat and watched some more olympics, me feeling totally discouraged.  But by 1:30 things had picked up again.  I took some more Zofran.  DH called our doula again about 1:45, and when she showed up at the house 15 minutes later things were intense.  While we were chatting, I had an absurdly painful contraction that made me convinced it was time to go to the hospital.  I remember Rebecca asking what it felt like and responding that it felt like someone was stabbing me.  It wasn't until then that I realized my water had broken during that contraction.  So we threw everything in the car and left, about 2:15.

I sat in the back seat of our virtually brand new minivan.  I didn't think to bring a towel.  With every contraction fluid went everywhere.  I remember just sitting in a puddle of warm fluid thinking how gross this was going to be.  I also remember driving by the hospital we had MJ at, which is about 5 minutes from our house, thinking "Why did we decide to go somewhere so much further?  Maybe it's not too late to just go to the closer hospital."  I was yelling through each contraction at this point. 

At some point, I realized we were nowhere we were supposed to be.  I asked DH "Where the fuck are we?"  I took joy in swearing, knowing MJ was nowhere around and therefore it was okay.  All in all, I think I took the fact that DH got lost on the way to the hospital very well.  I was really in too much pain to worry too much about it, and by the time I realized it we were almost there. 

He dropped me at the door to the ER so he could park.  I was not in a cooperative mood.  I spoke to the receptionist, and she asked me to sit down while she contacted maternity.  I told her no.  I need to go now.  I am not sitting down.  I wasn't angry or anything, I just felt like there was no way I could do these things they were asking me to do.  They wheeled me to maternity (I was still leaking fluid, afterall) and asked me questions on the way.  They called my midwife, got me into a room and told me I'd have to wait to be checked and monitored.  Again, I couldn't do this.  I wanted to get in the bathtub.  I remember them telling me I'd have to wait, and then leaving.  They didn't come back!  So I did it myself (with help from Rebecca and DH once they realized I was not going to abide by what I was told). 

When they came back and checked me at 3 o'clock I was 8 cm.  This made me feel better, knowing that I had every right to be having a tough time at that point.  I almost wish I'd arrived earlier, because at that point I had a really hard time complying with their requests.  They wanted to monitor the baby for 15 minutes before letting me labor freely.  A reasonable request, but it was torture to not move.  Things went so fast from there that I never really felt like I got my feet beneath me.  I wish I'd had a little more time to settle in before labor picked up so much.

By 3:20 there was only a tiny lip of cervix left.  But we were having problems with Greta's heart rate.  It kept dropping to uncomfortably low levels, so they put an internal fetal scalp monitor on her.  I was having the urge to push, but the lip of cervix wasn't gone until ~4 pm.  After about an hour and a half of pushing, Greta was not really descending.  She was somewhat twisted, and we continued to have problems with her heart rate.  I felt like this was becoming a mirror of MJ's birth.  The difference was that with MJ, I had an epidural at this point and felt like I just wasn't pushing effectively because of it.  This time I could feel everything and was pushing, but just didn't feel her get anywhere.  She was stuck at +1 or +2, I think.  I was starting to shake really badly with each contraction and became convinced I needed an epidural.  Largely, I felt like I had to do something to change what was happening.  Because we'd tried lots of positions, etc., and all that was happening is that I was getting exhausted and she wasn't moving.  I was starting to become so convinced this would end in c-section that I wanted to change something.  I also found myself making peace with MJ's birth, because I started to think that it was my anatomy and not anything I did. I knew that the epidural might lead to a c-section, but I felt like I was already heading that way and maybe it would help me rest.

At 5:30 they gave me some fentanyl, which I don't recall provided any relief.  At 6:10 the epidural was in.  Having to sit still through those contractions was absolute torture, but it went in without a problem.  It started to take effect soon after and they let me rest until about 8:00.  During that time, I had my right leg resting on a peanut (which looks like a large, peanut shaped birth ball) with the hope that my contractions would turn her into a better position.  At 8 I started pushing again, but there were two issues.  Her heart rate kept dropping unless I was in one particular position (which was not the position I needed to push from).  So every time I pushed I had to rearrange myself, then go back to another position so her heartrate returned to normal.  Furthermore, I couldn't feel when the contraction was coming so the timing was problematic.  They were concerned enough about Greta's heartrate section that they called the OB in from home.

 This looked even more like it was heading towards a C-section.  If I had gone with any other OB practice I still think it would have.  Between the time the OB was called and the time she arrived, we figured some things out.  We were able to turn the epidural down to the point that I could feel the contractions well enough to know when to push.  This also helped Greta's heart rate; it still fell a bit when I was pushing, but wasn't as dramatic or prolonged.  When the OB arrived, rather than suggesting a C-section, she labored with me for a while, then went into the other room and let my midwife take over again.  I was very impressed (in retrospect) at the way she dealt with everything.

By 8:45 I was into active pushing.  I recall at 9:30 asking how much longer they felt it would take, because I needed to mentally gear myself up if we were looking at hours still.  I could feel myself wearing out again.  But they told me no, we were close.  We were not talking about hours still.  Shortly thereafter I remember feeling her hairy little head with my hand; one of the oddest feeling things I've ever experienced.  And at 10:08 she was born!

The activity immediately after she was born was frenzied.  There was a lot of meconium, so they had a whole team in place in case she was in bad shape.  The cord was around her neck, which was what was causing the heart rate drops.  They let DH cut the cord then rushed her to the little NICU table (not sure what the real name for it is) to suction her; she took a breath before being suctioned, but didn't show any detrimental effects from it.

It was all pretty awesome.  I felt pretty ecstatic it had worked out.  I didn't feel the rush of "I can do anything" that so many women talk about.  I mainly just felt really freaking lucky that this didn't end in a c-section.

In retrospect, if we have another kid, I'm not sure if I would try for another VBAC.  I felt like we so narrowly squeaked by that I'm not confident another birth wouldn't end in C-section.  Last time, I attributed all of my recovery to the C-section, but this birth showed me there was still quite a bit from a vaginal birth.  Much more than I expected.  Yes, the recovery was easier than with a C-section, but if I had to put a number on it the recovery was still about half as bad, maybe a little more.  My greatest fear is pushing for a long time and still getting a C-section, and I'm not convinced that wouldn't happen again.  Only time will tell, and only if we decide to have another kid. 

The rest of our stay in the hospital was pretty uneventful.  She nursed pretty well, we got some rest.  MJ loved meeting her for the first time, and you can see in the picture below she was already stealing her things.  There is, of course, always more to say.  But this post has been a week and a half in the works, so time to just hit "Publish" already...