January 30, 2013
Oh, also THIS has been happening. We launched a mom/baby/family blog on 100 Layer Cake! It’s called 100 Layer Cakelet and (obviously) I’m thrilled to have a new project. Exactly what I need – a new project. But this one is really really fun.
We want 100 Layer Cakelet to be a beautiful, inspiring, and practical place for all you mamas out there. We keep thinking, you obsess about your wedding for one year… but you obsess about your family for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t there be a pretty place to share all the great celebrations and projects and moments that revolve around family? Yes!
I’d love any suggestions you guys have too! Pop over and check it out.
And while you’re over there, you might consider visiting the the Pop-Up Shop where you can book a family shoot with Max Wanger. He took pictures of our family a few summers ago and I absolutely treasure the photos he took. I know there must be a few of you out there who wouldn’t mind a set of photos by Max & Friends.
Don’t be strangers over there, kay?
(And thank you all for your suggestions about family dinners!)
January 14, 2013
I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, I have to admit. But I LOVE the possibility that the start of a new year brings. Magically, with the turn of a page on the calendar, the slate is clean and we can start fresh. Don’t you wish we could be in this mental state more than one time a year?
One thing I’m working on for 2013 is making better family dinners. Meaning dinners that the kids will eat and we will eat, even if we don’t do it together nearly enough. Sara and I were discussing the importance of actually planning meals and ingredients ahead of time, and it has me motivated to put a little more effort into that part of our life again. I know I never wrote the post on what it was (and is) like to become a family of four, but you can probably guess by my lack of posting that it’s been a wee bit challenging. My friend Jessica and I, who have kids who are exactly the same age, call those early days and months “the dark ages”. Need I say more?
But thanks to the new year, we’re having a bit of a Renaissance around our house. Things are brighter, and easier, and more fun. And part of that is knowing what we’re going to eat for dinner, instead of frantically throwing something together 10 minutes before the kids need to eat. The key right now is that I know Dashiell will eat it (mostly), that I can grind it up for Forrest, and that Brock and I will also actually enjoy it once they’re both happily asleep.
Here are some of my go-tos:
Red lentil soup – popularized in our house when Jora made it for lunch at her house a year ago. It’s delicious, flexible, fast, and with very little thought, you can always have the ingredients on hand. I make it a point to keep a jar of tomato paste, dry red lentils and a few onions in stock at all times.
Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce (with pasta) – Again insanely delicious, especially for it’s simplicity and ease to prepare. I always have at least one can of San Marzano tomatoes in the cupboard for just this recipe. We eat it with pasta, a veg and a crunchy kale salad, or just by the spoonful.
Spaghetti Squash casserole – I use the basic recipe from True Food Kitchen, but instead of a can of pureed tomatoes, use Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce! Makes it extra yum. Plus I throw in extra veggies or even tofu, if I want to get crazy. This was actually Forrest’s first non-baby food and he literally scarfed it down. (More on feeding the second baby in a later post. Hopefully?) Last night I made it with bits of kale and since I didn’t have enough mozzarella on hand, I filled it out with cheddar. Flexibility is the key here ’cause I can’t always be driving to the store when I’m missing one measly ingredient.
Taco bar – Which entails a giant pot of homemade beans, corn tortillas, a crispy cabbage salad and whatever toppings we have on hand. Salsa, guac, cheese, and cilantro are actually plenty for a yummy dinner. (This doesn’t work quite as well for Forrest, but he doesn’t mind mashed up beans with some seasoning.)
Melanie’s Tortilla Soup – Easy as pie to prepare, especially if I have left over pinto beans on hand (though canned works fine too). Meets all criteria, especially the kid one. They both love it.
Quinoa Cakes – I make these all the time and it turns out that once you have the basic binding ingredients down, you can use whatever you want to fill it out. I’ve used brown rice when I didn’t have any quinoa ready. I’ve add bits of kale or chard, cooked lentils, different cheeses, kernels of fresh corn, peas… really it’s very flexible. The kids eat them alone (I pick one apart for little Forr, since he doesn’t have any teeth just yet), and we usually eat them with a salad. I like leftovers for lunch with avocado and fresh mint on the side.
Homemade pizza (using Blake’s secret crust recipe) – I probs don’t need to really ‘splain this one much. Pizza = delish for everyone. Except Forrest. Admittedly we haven’t made it in the last month or so since he starting eating real food, but if he’s anything like his brother and my husband, it’s only a matter time.
Now I want to hear what you all make for your families. As you can see, we could use a few more options. Any must-trys? Would love a good enchilada recipe, if anyone has one.
November 19, 2012
I’m not entirely sure what to call these actually. The only thing that’s certain is that I love them and I begged my friend Julie to send me the big pics from her phone so I could share them. Do any of you follow Julie on Instagram? She’s an incredibly creative lady and an exceptionally great home chef, who used to blog but has since forsaken it for IG. We can’t blame her, can we?
She started a little series ages ago making patterns with her spoils from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. It’s evolved into a really beautiful little piece of the social media megasphere… one that I look forward to every week. (No pressure or anything, Jules!)
Since lots of you like to cook, I thought you might find her creations inspiring. Wouldn’t you love to hang prints of these in your kitchen??? Maybe if we give Julie enough encouragement, she’ll start an etsy shop and sell them to us. Hellooooo super sweet and simple holiday gifts for the chef on your list.
There are soooo many. Here’s a bunch that I love:
Would you buy, or what!?
Thanks so much, Julie!
November 12, 2012
Some things that have been inspiring, helpful, or lust-worthy recently…
This NY Times article on aging. I want to move to Ikaria and grow a garden, drink wine with friends, and possibly live to be 100. (Thanks, Dad!)
Jamie is offering holiday mini-sessions next weekend! Get on it, SD peeps. We’re having our photos taken by her over Thanksgiving weekend and I’m so excited! (PS. I totally ordered a few of those white tees she posted about. Hoping they look as cute on me as they do on her!)
This sweet kitchen shop.
Babble included my blog in a list of the Top 50 Design blogs for moms! Whoa. I am in very very good company over there. Thanks Babble!
These pumpkin donuts… made them last weekend and I wanted them to be delicious. But I think having the kitchen smell like frying oil turned me off. And made me want a giant kale salad for breakfast instead. Donuts are apparently meant to be purchased on a whim from a donut shop.
This new-to-me food blog… has such a nice moodiness to it, doesn’t it?
Forrest needs his first Christmas ornament. I think I might get this one.
This kids party and decor site is adorbs!
Heath is trying to get me to buy more things. They are soooooo sneaky. Perhaps just the new ramekin colors? Maybe a gnome?
This Small Trades dress also makes a perfect nursing top over leggings, for those who are in the same boat as moi.
These date truffles are my new favorite dessert. Tasted them last week when Sara prepared the pretty food for our holiday shoot.
I found this little article on whining to be helpful, other mommies.
Dashiell and I both got big haircuts. Yep. He looks adorable, I look… well… I’m getting used to it. BUT I’m happy to be donating 11 inches of hair to Locks of Love this week! Teeny bit of an identity crisis, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. Hair grows, after all.
Trying to remember this post on losing postpartum weight that I wrote around Dashiell’s first birthday. UGH. I’m not approaching the fatness with as much grace this time.
In the meantime, I’d love to be wearing this Lauren Moffat shirt with riding pants. Or maybe this Rachel Pally maxi skirt with any old tank. I’m going through a maxi skirt phase. My new fave is this Ace & Jig number I snagged from Shop Pretty Mommy. I kind of love the blue option too.
What else am I missing out on? Do tell!
(Photo of Dashie just before I cut his hair. To be fair, I just don’t have any relevant photos for this post.)
November 1, 2012
Pretty scary around these parts last night, as you can tell. Melanie and I were in tears laughing about how ridiculous it is to try to get little people to wear costumes. Forrest was the most open to the whole thing. He makes a pretty good bear, don’t you think?
Luciana and Dashie were on board for approximately 10 minutes.
We even made it to a few houses for tricks and treats, which made me feel better since Dashie had to miss the Halloween festivities at school. Still has a nasty cold. Poor guy.
Look at me posting two days in a row!
October 30, 2012
Wow so the entire summer passed with barely a word on this poor blog. Things have been…
But things are also kind of settling down finally. And I keep having ideas for posts, but then I can’t find the time to write them. If I could stay up past 9 I would probably get more done, but I cannot stay up later than that yet. Nearly, but not yet. Sleep deprivation is so consuming and I think it takes a while to make up for all those lost hours in bed.
But somehow things do seem to be getting a wee bit better. And I miss it here, even though I’m not sure there’s anyone left to read. Maybe you will come back if I actually post again? Let’s try and see how it goes.
Here’s a general update…
Dashiell started preschool in September and it’s been amazing. His language exploded again and he seems even happier now that he can express what he’s thinking all the time. And I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. He’s the king of self-narrated play. We naturally find it adorable. However with the greatness of preschool has come the onslaught of colds. They are knocking us on our butts, I have to say. Dashie is in the middle of his third cold in 5 weeks. And I’m talking real colds, not just a sniffle for a few days. And Forrest has had a string of mini colds that have resulted in a secret ear infection only discovered because we had his four month appointment this week. Feeling pretty good about that one! He hates his antibiotics and I feel like I’m torturing him twice a day as he gags down the dose. The poor poor dear.
We went to Seattle a few weeks before preschool started for my friend Jen’s wedding. It was fantastic. Despite my fears of traveling with both of them, and I’m not going to say it was a walk in the park, it was really great for our family morale. We can go places! We can do things! We are not actually stuck at home from here on out! Brock and I even snuck out one evening for an hour or so to grab dinner at How to Cook A Wolf, which was conveniently right around the corner from our rental house. The wedding was beautiful and the venue, Bella Luna Farms, truly one of a kind. Like if the Sundance Catalog and Anthropologie got together and styled an entire farm. Unfortunately 10 weeks of broken sleep caught up with me that evening and I literally hit a wall during the party. But we survived and I’m so glad we went. Also, Seattle is gorgeous and special and we’re hoping to go back sometime when we can really explore and enjoy.
We’ve actually been to three weddings since Forrest was born, most importantly… um, hello! Amanda’s! Which will be making it’s media debut in Martha Stewart Weddings in March. It was beautiful and fun and the cocktails were delicious and thanks to Brock’s mom making a huge effort for us, we were able to enjoy a bit of the party.
I still feel like there is never ever enough time in the day (see: going to bed at 9pm every night), but I know that will change too. I did manage to make Dashiell a little halloween costume, though it remains to be seen if he’ll actually wear it. I’m sure you’ll find out on Instagram tomorrow.
We managed to carve pumpkins and roast seeds. I’ve actually made dinner a few times, which makes me feel somewhat normal again.
I gave Dashie his first “boy” haircut and now he looks even more like a girl. Oh well. At least he can see.
I desperately need a haircut myself. And I mean desperately. My hair is the longest it’s ever been, well below the bra strap, which I think is a pretty standard measure for having really long hair. Now I think I could actually sneak out to get it cut, but I’m waffling back and forth between keeping it long and going for a big cut. I reeeealllly want to chop 10 inches so I can donate to Locks of Love, but I know I’ll want it back the second it’s gone. What do you guys think? See how long my hair is in these pictures?!!
I still have posts brewing about welcoming the second baby, about sleep, and about how to get your bottle-resistant baby to take one. Who wants to hear them? Maybe if I start posting again I will find the time.
Forrest did his first full night last night (only two months behind average French babies but who’s counting??!!), so I feel like we might be headed towards normalcy. Sleep is after all the most coveted of all things that are lost when a new baby arrives. At least for me.
Photos by Michèle, while we were up in Seattle. She shot my friend’s wedding too!
August 23, 2012
I promise this isn’t going to turn into a birth story blog, but this is such a good one that I just had to share. Plus, like everyone I know is having babies at the moment which makes these stories major low hanging fruit in terms of blog posts.
Leslie is a good friend from college who welcomed her first little dude into the world in a pretty awesome way, just two weeks after Forrest was born. She’s also a great writer and apparently born to give birth, both of which make for a great read.
Thursday, July 5th felt totally normal: I took Rowdy on a long walk, helped Scott at the shop, did a big grocery store run so I could cook up a storm before I went into labor… I even went to a wine bar on the wharf with Jen, stealing sips of her champagne flight as we gossiped! I did notice that I was having more of the “fake” contractions, and as I finally settled in at home around 8pm, I realized they were coming consistently about 10 minutes apart. My heart quickened a bit as I wondered if maybe these weren’t fake after all, but they didn’t hurt at all, which certainly wasn’t what I expected labor to be like. I called my doula, Courtney, around 9pm just to give her a heads up that MAYBE something was happening, though I didn’t really think so. She reassured me that even if this wasn’t labor, my body was gearing up. Courtney encouraged us to get some rest and check in with her in the morning.
Scott fell asleep immediately (of course), but my head was swimming with questions and anticipation. I re-read Joy’s birth story, looking for clues about what to expect, and the contractions started to pick up. She had mentioned something about tracking her contractions with an iPhone app- there seriously is an app for everything!- so I found one and downloaded it. When I started tracking at 12:10am, they were about six minutes apart, and at that point, felt similar to menstrual cramps. I tried to remember from our birth class how long the various phases of labor are supposed to last, with no luck, but according to the app’s quick reference page, it appeared I was moving from “early labor” to “active labor”. Eeeeeeeeee!
I woke Scott up around 12:45am to let him know this seemed legit. We were both excited but surprisingly calm. I decided to take a shower, and I yelled to Scott each time I had a contraction so we could keep tracking them with the app. Around that time things really cranked up: now the contractions were more like three minutes apart. I called our hospital to let them know I was in labor and would be coming in at some point, and when I gave the nurse details about my contractions she seemed to think we had plenty of time. My big concern had been that my labor would stall out midway and require interventions like Pitocin, which was part of why I wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going into the clinical environment of the hospital that often slowed things down. It’s funny how opposite things turned out!
Timing the contractions with the app kept me somewhat distracted, but I was definitely in a good amount of pain, so we called Courtney around 2am to ask her to come over. I also called my parents; even though I knew it would freak them out, I felt like they should know what was going on! I announced to my mom “It looks like I’m having a baby!” and she responded “so what do I do?!” I assumed she could wait until morning to make the half an hour drive here and still catch plenty of the action.
Courtney arrived just before 2:30am, watched me moan through a contraction, looked at the handy list on the app charting the duration and frequency of my previous contractions, then promptly took my phone away from me so I could focus on the labor instead. Darn her! She encouraged me to loosen up as the contractions came, especially my shoulders, and I suppose that helped. However, that point it was hard to find any position that was remotely comfortable: I leaned on Scott, we “danced” in the kitchen, I leaned on walls, and finally I was on all fours on the couch with Courtney next to me rubbing my back.
At around 3:30am I decided this was as intense as things needed to get at home; I was ready for the security of being surrounded by medical staff at the hospital. Scott had to stop by the shop to put up a sign indicating we would be closed that day (because we were having a baby!). He was gone no more than 10 minutes, but by then I was starting to go a little nutty. The short drive into the hospital was brutal, and as we tried to walk in I doubled over in pain with another contraction. I’d said all along that I wanted to go as long as possible without any pain medications- ideally making it through to the end- but the idea of some relief was starting to sound really great.
As the medical staff started the check-in process, I could see why people claimed the hospital atmosphere could slow things down. They couldn’t find my pre-registration, so I was forced to answer questions about my Social Security number, my phone number, etc… all while in intense labor! I was alternating between pacing around, leaning on the bed, moaning/ screaming, and I heard the nurse say to someone on the phone “I think we’ll end up admitting this one.” You think?
After what felt like forever, the nurse checked me and declared I was five centimeters dilated. I hadn’t held any expectations about where I should be at that point, but that seemed pretty good. I figured I was about at the midway point after less than five hours of “real” labor, which certainly made the 24 hour labor (or more!) that I’d feared less likely.
Around this point I started asking about pain medication options, and Courtney encouraged me to get in the giant tub first to labor in water. “They call it the midwife’s epidural; it could really help!” she reassured me. A real epidural didn’t seem so bad at this point, but since I had been looking forward to the tub (if that’s the right way to phrase anything involving labor?!) I did want to try it. I had actually bit down on Scott’s shoulder and wept during one of the contractions, so he was freaking out a bit at seeing me in that kind of pain and seemed open to whatever might help.
The tub is when my memory of everything gets less clear, probably because I was a bit out of my mind! Every contraction would take over my entire body, starting right underneath my chest, and I felt completely out of control. It was beyond intense and somewhat scary. As promised in our birth class, I started to doubt myself and tell Courtney I didn’t think I could do this, to which she calmly but firmly responded that I could. During one of the seemingly brief breaks between contractions, I reasoned with myself that there was no reason for me to suffer like this when I could have pain meds, and if nothing else I just needed a break, so I apologetically told Courtney that I wanted to try fentanyl. It would “take the edge off” for about an hour, which sounded dreamy. Courtney reassured me that I’d done great, and while I don’t remember it, apparently she asked if I wanted to be checked again first. The nurse (who had barely been around at this point) popped back in, I requested the drugs, and since she still needed to draw blood for some reason anyway, she said she’d be back to set up an IV lock.
Scott was also in and out of the room; he called my parents with an update (again thinking they could probably wait until morning), and then he left to use a restroom out in the lobby.
My water still hadn’t broken, and I started to feel an incredible amount of pressure. I reached down and discovered what felt like a balloon bulging out between my legs. When I told Courtney, she said that I could push a bit to help it break. I pushed and felt it get bigger; at this point the pain was accompanied by an intense burning. I don’t know exactly how many times I pushed, but I just wanted to make the crazy pain go away, and in my head I was determined to break that darn balloon.
No more than a few minutes later, I felt the pop of my water breaking, accompanied by a powerful gush. The relief was immediate and AWESOME. I sighed “thank God!” and sat there blissfully catching my breath for a second. When I opened my eyes I noticed all sorts of nastiness around me in the tub… and to my surprise, floating next to me was what appeared to be an umbilical cord. I recall thinking “that’s not supposed to be out yet, is it?” as I continued to look around in the dim mood lighting Courtney had set up.
Then I noticed something larger floating in the tub. As I reached to scoop it up, I realized it was a baby. Yep, a BABY. He was still perfectly curled in the fetal position, angelic and quiet. I was in such shock that I didn’t even have time to worry if he was okay or not before Courtney started yelling “BABY!!!!”
I sat there, holding the baby up like a prize I happened upon and wasn’t sure I had earned, as suddenly all sorts of hospital staff came running in. A moment later, Scott came in, equally confused and with tears in his eyes, and I hoisted the baby a little higher in his direction, kind of like “Hey, look what I did while you were gone!” At some point during all this commotion, our baby started crying.
It’s funny how fuzzy those few minutes after birth are in my memory, but I suppose my brain was busy trying to wrap itself around the fact that I’d just had a baby essentially by myself, in a bathtub. As much as I knew things don’t always go according to plan in labor, this was miles away from anything I ever would have imagined. And as the hospital staff would point out, both at that point and repeatedly throughout the next two days of our stay, patients aren’t supposed to give birth in the tub, so they were all rather baffled by the situation as well.
I think they drained the tub then refilled it with clean water to rinse us both off, then an entire team of people lifted me out (while I held the baby close) into a wheelchair to transfer me to the bed. As I recall, it wasn’t until then that it occurred to anyone to ask if it was a boy or a girl, so I pulled him away from me to confirm we had indeed gotten the boy we’d expected. From there I pretty much just stared at the tiny baby on my chest as the hospital part of this whole experience kicked in: Various people examined and discussed the condition of my lady parts. A doctor finally showed up, though not mine, as I had figured I could wait until a reasonable hour to call her since she wasn’t technically on duty that day. Someone offered Scott scissors to cut the umbilical cord. I was jabbed with a needle then the unknown-doctor delivered the placenta. More shots and some stitches. I still couldn’t believe that this had all actually happened so fast.
I was admitted to the hospital at 3:45am, and Beckett Radford Ruble was born at 4:51am. (At least that was the guess, given that no one was in the room to officially record it.) He didn’t mess around. Beckett weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, measured 19 inches long, and he had a solid amount of blonde hair. Not surprisingly, we found him to be absolutely perfect.
Pretty amazing, right? I thought you all would enjoy. I don’t know if I could ever tire of birth stories. They’re all so different and all so miraculous, each and every one.
August 21, 2012
By special request via Instagram… the quinoa salad recipe. So, here’s the thing. Not really a “recipe”, more like throw some things together and call it delicious. But I will share what I have. It’s a knock-off of a salad that Joan’s on Third does, but it’s so obvious you’ll be like, how did I not think of that?
Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
2 cups quinoa, prepared as usual (Don’t forget to let it drain!). If possible make this at least an hour or so ahead so it has time to cool before you make the salad. I sometimes make it in the morning and just leave it out in a bowl until I’m ready to use it.
1 can chickpeas (or cook your own if you’re awesome and/or don’t have a new baby!)
Parsley, chopped (you decide how much of each you like)
(I use this dressing from a fave Orangette recipe as a guide, and gussy it up a bit.)
1 shallot, minced
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated zest of 1 lemon (do this before you juice one of them)
2 cloves minced garlic
Let’s make the dressing first. Combine the shallots, garlic, lemon juice, zest, and a large pinch of sea salt together in a bowl. Let the shallots and garlic macerate for at least 5 minutes. 10 is maybe better. Whisk in a large blob of tahini. Probably a 1/4 cup? Maybe a little more. You’ll have to trust your cooking skillz here because I didn’t measure, and you need a little more sauce than the Orangette recipe calls for. Whisk til nicely combined. Then add as much olive oil as seems to make sense, plus some more salt. And if you like, a bit of water. Taste it, (it’s probably delish), and then add whatever you think it needs.
I usually add the dressing to the quinoa first, to make sure it’s nice and coated. Then I dump in the rest of the ingredients, mix, and that’s pretty much it. You might need to add a bit more salt (I like me some salt), or olive oil.
This salad is super duper flexible and you can add lots of things to it to make it even more tasty. Like:
All of the above!
It’s generally a crowd pleaser, but also super simple. And makes for a perfect picnic/potluck contribution.
I’m so glad it’s summer.
August 13, 2012
Some things I’m finding useful this time around… the baby swing in my office is pretty great, while it lasts! Action shot below.
The Miracle Blanket. OMG! Trust me on this one, you don’t need another swaddling blanket. For actual swaddling, that is. The Aden + Anais are beautiful for decorative purposes (I bought these before Forrest was born as a treat to self) – over the stroller, as a light blanket, I even use them for nursing covers when we’re out and about. But they’ve got nothing on The Miracle Blanket when it comes to keeping baby wrapped up tight. No folding, no velcro, just an ingenious design that makes it easy breezy.
These Gap Pure tank tops. They are super long and stretchy, which makes it easy to pull the neck down for nursing. And since they’re so stretchy they don’t seem to get ruined as quickly as others I’ve worn in the past. In truth they’re all I’ve worn for the last 6 weeks.
A white noise app. Brock used this all the time with Dashiell, but I resisted. No! We do not need technology for our baby! Yes, in fact we do. We have an old iPhone with no cell service that we carry around in the stroller and the Ergo and the car. I swear it helps him sleep better. Big fan of tools thing time around. Big fan.
The baby swing. You guys, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Ready? Baby swings are FOR SLEEPING. Oh, you already knew that? Yeah, well. I didn’t. I totally thought they were for hanging out in whilst baby is awake (which they hate because it probably makes them sick or something). I’m a little slow on the uptake, apparently. Now, we’ve only used it for a few naps so far, but it seems to be amazing. I have it set up in my office and I’m hoping it allows me a few hours of quiet work time every day. At least for a few weeks until he outgrows it. Even better, we’re borrowing Luciana’s. I love passing baby stuff around!
Belgo from New Belgium Brewing. It’s my go-to right now. A Belgian IPA that’s a little sweet and a little bitter. The perfect combination at this very moment for me. Every night. Around 8 pm. Err, sometimes 6. Or 5.
There’s probably more, but the sleep deprivation is setting in and I forget things as soon as I think of them. But it’s temporary, remember? That’s what I’m telling myself.
July 31, 2012
They were wrong about the second baby coming early (as you all know), but ooh boy. They were right about him coming fast. Want to hear the story? Of course you do! We all love a good birth story, don’t we?
It was Tuesday morning, I was finally giving in to the obvious fact that I would be the first person to be pregnant forever. Despite having contractions for 3 nights in a row for an hour or two, they’d stopped, and Sunday and Monday night I’d felt nothing. Hrrrummpf. I spent Monday hanging with my brother, having a long late lunch at Gjelina. And Tuesday, via Instagram because it’s just that awesome, made plans to have lunch with Liz while she was in town, also at Gjelina. One can never have enough Gjelina, I say.
And now here somehow I’d made it to my post-40 week appointment with the midwives. So dutifully I went, whined that I was still pregnant, made an appointment for a non-stress test the following Tuesday (horrifying thought… that’s I’d still be pregnant 7 days later), and was sent on my way.
Before lunch I stopped by the pool for what I was hoping would be my last swim this pregnancy (I’d been saying that the last 5 times I’d been to the pool, mind you). It was glorious, as swimming always is. Especially while 40+ weeks pregnant. (I’m seriously missing time at the pool right now, as a side note.)
And then it was time for lunch with Liz. Which was as delicious as any lunch can be. We said our goodbyes and as I turned to walk away from the front door of the restaurant… POP! My water broke. Again! That’s two babies and two labors starting with my water breaking. Apparently that’s how my body prefers to do it. As you can imagine, I was like UHHHH, now what?? Luckily I was not actually sitting in the restaurant. Can you imagine? “Um excuse me, waiter? I’ve just leaked amniotic fluid all over this chair and the floor under our table.” No, there may have been a few drips that hit the sidewalk, but luckily I was wearing a long, dark skirt and no one could tell what was happening but me.
I spread my pool towel on the seat of the car, got in, and called Brock to give him the scoop. As I drove home, I called our doula, Joanne, to let her know, and then called my parents to tell them to grab their bags and head up to LA so they could stay with Dashiell.
It was all very exciting, and also such a relief to be able get things in order that afternoon. I was so hoping that I would know during waking hours that I was going into labor, instead of being woken in the middle of the night with contractions. It just seemed so much easier to be able to plan during the day, rather than in the middle of the night. And I was so glad that we could tell Dashiell that we’d be gone in the morning and that he’d know that my parents would be there with him instead of us.
SO. That all happened at 3-ish. About 5-ish, I started to feel mild contractions. We went on a walk around the block with Dashiell and Brock’s sis Jess, who was there to hold down the fort in case we had to leave before my parents arrived. (We’d been warned that second labors can pick up and progress very quickly by multiple people, so we were prepared.)
My parents arrived, we ordered take out Thai for dinner, bags were packed, and by about 8 pm I was started to feel my contractions enough that we decided to time them for a bit (there’s an app for that, BTW). The confusing thing was that they weren’t really that long, only about 40 seconds, and came every 3 to 7 minutes. So I was sort of thinking we had a while to go still. Don’t they say they should be 1 minute long and 3-5 minutes apart to indicate active labor? Apparently none of the rules apply for second timers.
We all sort of hung around the living room, watching Wimbledon, and waiting. I’d talked to the midwife on call by then (Shadman, the women I wanted to deliver this baby, yay!), and she was cool with us staying at home for a bit since there wasn’t meconium in the water when it broke, and that my first labor had started the same way. My mom went to bed and my dad stayed up with us until about 10 (both urging us to just go to the darn hospital already!), when I made the arbitrary decision that we would leave for the hospital at 11. I talked to Shadman again who told us to call her on our way in. Her last (knowing) words were, “Okay… just don’t wait too long.” Contractions were more intense at that point, but no longer and no closer together. Brock packed the car and I synced my iTunes on my phone. And then suddenly it was 11 and it was time to go.
As I stepped off the porch and headed towards the car it felt like things started to change. At the last minute I grabbed an extra pillow from home for the car ride. Best decision ever. I rode to the hospital laying down in the back seat this time, unlike last time where I for some reason thought I had to sit in the front with my seatbelt on like a normal person. The plan was to call Joanne when we’d checked in to the hospital and have her come then. Why we always wait to call her until the last minute, I have no idea. I never think I need her until I REALLY need her and then I have to wait for her to arrive. But as we drove to the hospital I stopped talking or answering questions, and Brock made the executive decision to tell her to get in the car and come immediately.
I had a moment where I thought I might throw up in the car, but I kind of couldn’t believe I was that far along, and frankly didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was really really feeling the contractions at that point, but I was also doing a much better time visualizing each contraction opening my body to the birth of my baby. With Dashiell I definitely fought the pain as opposed to surrendering to it, which it turns out really does help you get through each wave. It’s the craziest feeling, being in labor. It’s so intense and so hard, but somehow you just DO IT.
We pulled up at the hospital, grabbed our bags and made our way up to L&D. I had to stop every few minutes for a contraction (again, glad I had my pillow to lean on!), and I couldn’t help but find it a wee bit funny that the orderly still had to follow us with an empty wheelchair even though there was like ZERO chance I was going to sit down in it.
By 11:45 we were checked into our room, and I dutifully laid on my side on the bed for 20 minutes of fetal monitoring. Laying on the bed was definitely not where I wanted to be, but the other option was to stand and that was out of the question too. The one bright part was that our nurse was just amazing. She was young and kind and helpful and totally on my team, and knew when to tell other staff to give me space. Which was really really more than I could have hoped for.
Our doula Joanne arrived shortly after we did and together she and Brock rubbed my back and squeezed my hips through each contraction. The one thing I did know what that I had to be touched at all times. Joanne rubbed my lower back continuously during breaks from contractions and if she let go of me it felt like I might just lose hold of the world. Something about having another person’s hands on my kept me from falling into pieces. And as much as I didn’t want to keep going, I knew that I couldn’t admit it to myself or to anyone. I was still unsure how much longer I’d be in labor and to admit distress felt like I would lose what little control I had of my body and my mind.
After fetal monitoring was over, an OB resident came in to do an ultrasound to make sure the baby was head down (even though he had been since 30 weeks) and to check the level of amniotic fluid left. They’d somehow lost my pre-admit forms so I then had to hear all the complications that could arise and the measures they’d take in those cases and sign a handful of forms. Which took another 20 minutes or so. She asked if I wanted her to check my dilation and while I was curious, I declined. I knew that I couldn’t hear that I was 4 or 5 centimeters at that moment, and keep my shit together. And with Dashiell they didn’t check me until I was 9, and that was awesome. Not knowing somehow made it easier.
All the while my contractions were building and at that point coming two at a time, instead of a more civilized one every 3 or 4 minutes. I’d have a really big one then a 30 second break followed by a slightly less big one before I’d have a moment to rest. The only thing I could do was hold onto the bar on the side of the hospital bed and breathe as slowly as I could manage.
At this point it must have been nearly 12:30. A second nurse came in to put in my heplock (it’s always a nurse in training, I swear), and it took her a few minutes to find a vein that would work on the top of my wrist. Just as she’d decided on a vein, I had a set of contractions that were different. The second one of the pair in particular felt like what I can only describe as the sensation of a bowling ball starting to descend through your pelvis. I felt the same thing with Dashiell, and remembered Jen feeling it during her birth. But I couldn’t believe that I was that close to having my baby. We’d only just arrived at the hospital after all. After that contraction, I looked up and told everyone that the last one was different. As in things were changing.
Before the nurse could start the heplock I was like, “Ummm I need to go to the bathroom before you do that. Like, right now.”
Which is basically code for, “I’m about to push a baby out”, but I didn’t have that sensation with Dashiell’s birth so I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just like, get me to the toilet ASAP.
I started walking to the bathroom and made it halfway across the room before another huge contraction came. Luckily there was a rocking chair to hold onto right where I stopped because before I could even think I was pushing. And by pushing I mean the kind of pushing they talk about that feels like throwing up in reverse. Like there’s nothing in this world that can stop you from doin’ your thing. At that point (obviously) everyone in the room mobilized. I should mention that I was still wearing my clothes. Running shorts (because they have a liner so I could wear a towel in the to catch more leaking water) to be exact. And I heard someone say, “She’s pushing with her shorts on! She needs to come back to the bed!”
To which I was like, “NOOOOOO. I CAN’T!!!”
And I think our nurse said, “Yes you can, Kristina.” And our doula said, “Stay in control, Kristina.”
And I was thinking, control? I am not in control. I have never been in control of this experience. I’m just holding on tight and letting my body do what it needs to do!
But what I said out loud, because I was having another contraction and pushing was, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKKKKKKKKK.”
Yep. I’m always so classy when I’m in labor! There were a lot of expletives starting at this point folks. It was just so crazy and so fast and so so so intense. Intense is not nearly a descriptive enough word. And clearly I didn’t have the vocabulary at the moment to adequately express myself. I just kept saying “Oh my god oh my god ohmygodohshitohmygod.”
See with Dashiell, I don’t really remember the pushing part being that crazy. I mean I’m sure it was but my labor was so much longer and by the time I was pushing I was sort of maxed out on feeling. This time it all happened so fast that I felt everything.
So they did manage to get me to the bed, to get my shorts off, and luckily called the midwife in time. For some reason they hadn’t told her when I was on my way in (I had called from the car), nor when I arrived in L&D. And she didn’t have any other patients so she was sleeping in the call room. But she did arrive. As did a baby nurse and a few residents and maybe some more people too, I can’t remember and didn’t care.
And then once I was on the bed, someone checked me and it wasn’t a matter of dilation at that point. I was plus 2 and his head was practically already out. At that moment a little face peeked around the side of the bed and was like “Hi! I know this is sort of an awkward way to meet, but my name is James and I’m an OB resident here and I’m going to help deliver your baby if that’s okay.”
Uhhhhmmmm. I can’t imagine the look I gave him. Like um, guy. My baby is literally coming out right now. I DON’T CARE who is here and who isn’t! Poor James. I think it might have actually been his first birth ever.
In between one contraction Shadman guided my hand down so I could feel my baby’s head and know that I was actually making progress. Do you know what? Baby heads are SQUISHY! They do not feel like head at all. Very weird.
And then on the 4th push at 12:46 am, I heard Shadman say, “That’s too fast, too fast!”. But there was nothing anyone could have said that would have made me stop pushing. Nothing. And he came flying out, screaming just like his mama. Sorry bud! Don’t they say that the birth experience informs the temperament of the baby as a newborn? Oops.
It was insane. That’s the only way to describe it. But it was fast and then it was over and that was awesome. They laid him right on my belly and I asked if he was a boy or a girl. Last time Brock was so anxious to find out who we were having that he called it out practically as Dashiell was entering the world. But this time he was more concerned with making sure everyone was okay and in one piece. So the nurse said, “It’s a boy!” And I said, “A boy. Of course he’s a boy!”
And then I said, “I’m sooo glad that’s over.”
Followed shortly by, “If we have a third, I’m getting the epidural.”
I got two stitches and then everything was golden. It was amazing to be so unconnected to everything. No IV, no heplock, nothing. Just me and my baby laying on the bed. They did end up giving me a shot of pitocin in my thigh to help with bleeding, but that was so much better than being hooked up to the IV, which they probably would have done had the nurse had time to get the heplock in. I totally get why people go to such lengths to keep things as minimal as possible. With Dashiell the actual birth felt like a procedure. I had an IV for fluids, I had oxygen, they used a vacuum. It felt very medical. But this time I could have been anywhere, I just happened to be in the hospital. Aside from the insanity, it really was perfect.
And now here we are. One month gone already and to be honest, my birth story seems kind of insignificant compared to our new life as a family of four. But that’s a whole different post that I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think I would like to share, because I know there are people out there who would love to hear another mama’s experience. But we’re taking things day by day at the moment so we’ll see when I have time to write another post. This one has taken two weeks, after all.
We are well and settling in to a little routine and while there are have been ups and downs, I’m trying to remember that before I know it things are going to be awesome. MORE awesome, I mean.
See you all soon.