Posts tagged ‘love’

Introducing Baby J, and a (really long) Birth Story

Baby J joined us this Monday, February 20 at 4:38 in the morning, weighing 8lbs4oz. We are so glad he’s here. Below is his birth story. I tried to write a short summary, but it turned into the monster below. I need to hit “publish” before it grows any longer.


Here he is: Baby J, a week old in this picture! (He's 2 weeks old today and has gained a whole pound since his 7-day appointment!)

A few days before my due date, I came down with the worst bout of hacking crud. There was goo in my lungs and I was exhausted. In the end, because our bodies are awesome, mine waited until I had mostly recovered to go into labour. I think that acupuncture also helped clear my lungs as well. Thank goodness: I don’t know how I could have managed birth without being able to breathe. The downside was that a few days on the couch recovering may have been what caused my baby who had been positioned OK to turn posterior, despite all my hands-and-knees floor-washing to try and turn him before labour began.

First stage labour started Sunday morning, Feb 19, at 40W3d. I woke up with fairly mild contractions around 8am. Hooray for a night’s sleep beforehand. Things got going pretty definitively, although I was initially reluctant to cancel breakfast plans with friends in case early labour was just teasing me. I spent the morning and afternoon either standing and leaning on a dresser, or on my hands and knees leaning on a giant stack of pillows. My fabulous doula was on her way by 1pm, and we called the midwives with me in active labour (3-1-1) at 3pm or so. The whole afternoon, we listened to Hypnobabies tracks over and over again, and I demanded endless back massages and hot water bottles from Z and our doula.

A word on Hypnobabies: I’m glad to have had those tools to help me relax and focus even though I didn’t end up using the program in quite the typical way. For one thing, Hypnobabies mamas always look like they’re asleep through their whole labours, and I did a fair amount of moaning and yelling. Maybe because of his positioning, I found that vocalizing really helped, especially in the later stages which involved lots of excitement and decision-making and I couldn’t focus much on relaxing.

In addition to using Hypnobabies tools, I spent a lot of time using Ina May’s suggestion to meditate that you are a monkey or other kind of animal, because your human thinking brain isn’t really helpful in birth. So I was trying not to get involved in cerebral details like what time it was, or logistics that could be left to my very capable support team, because I was a monkey.

Second stage was hard work because, despite all the damn floor-washing in late pregnancy, because baby was still posterior. Therefore, I was in transition, by which I mean feeling pushy but not pushing yet, for damn EVER. Fortunately, my water didn’t break for a long time, and I was in my element at home, so it was manageable, but I was starting to fret about being seemingly stuck in that intense stage. Being in the birth pool was helpful for awhile, but we were trying increasingly crazy things to make the baby TURN already. Z got to spend lots of time holding me up in the water in weird positions, then hula dancing with me in the shower, then finally watching the midwives do the Rebozo technique on me (suspending my hips in the air from a giant scarf, shaking me from side to side)… but baby did not turn.

Finally at 10cm dialation, my water broke, and it was full of meconium. Damnit. At least no-one had to to feel conflicted about the reason for a hospital transfer – meconium is one of the non-optional scenarios to get to a hospital, in case baby breathes it in on his way out. So we got an ambulance ride at 1am, which must have made a fantastic spectacle for the neighbours, and continued the party at the (blessedly close) hospital.

I was getting pretty cranky but very determined to push the darn baby out, even posterior, which the midwife assured me is often possible. His head was visible with each contraction, but he was stuck under my tailbone. I was doing a lot of swearing and yelling trying to get him past that bottleneck, which may have disturbed the nurse. Sorry, nurse. The midwife remained calm, encouraging and awesome. Unfortunately, baby’s heart rate was starting to decelerate problematically, so the interventions began.

A lovely little perinatologist was summoned to get her hands in under my tailbone to try and manually turn the baby. This is a very groovy trick, but was officially the most uncomfortable thing that has ever happened to me, and the only part of labour which I wish I’d been a little tougher about enduring gracefully. The lovely doctor thought she would be able to turn the baby, but wasn’t quite able to do it in two attempts. The medical team convinced me to try some laughing gas to help relax my muscles, but it didn’t do a damn thing. Z since told me I wasn’t breathing it in properly, which may have been due to my horror of the stuff.

The ouchy baby-rotating procedure was making me tense up in a counterproductive way, so the doctor needed me to be seriously anesthetized before she would try one more time. So, damn it all, I agreed to a spinal anaesthetic and a forceps birth. Baby was in distress and needed to be out. They summoned an anesthesiologist to take me to the OR, where the really frightening medical instruments are kept. The anesthesiologist had just arrived when I was pushing through another contraction, My awesome midwife looked at the baby’s head and noticed that he had finally turned after all! Angel choirs.

Baby still had to be born in a big hurry, but because he was (finally) optimally positioned, the perinatologist could use a vacuum extractor to enhance my pushing instead of the forceps of doom, and I didn’t have to have any anesthetic. Thank Christ on a bicycle.  I understand why some women choose to have spinal/epidural anesthetic for birth, but I think everyone would agree that 5 minutes before the baby is born is not the best time for a needle in the spine. So, vacuum extractor: very strange but not the worst thing ever (see above re: worst thing ever), and soon enough he was out!

Baby J was super alert at birth (Apgars of 7 and 9) and was pretty hungry. He has continued to be a big fan of eating ever since. He was 8lbs4oz at birth, and today at his 2 week appointment was 9lbs4oz. He’s going to be a bruiser, although nowhere near the giant baby predicted by ultrasound. He’s healthy, sturdy, and super cute. I had a really sore tailbone for a few days, and a few minor stitches but nothing serious. I would not have come out of a forceps birth so unscathed. Thank you, amazing midwife, for being awesome, indefatigable, observant, and calmly coaching me through everything!

All in all, Baby J is a lot of fun.  Z is a wonderful dad, and I think he will enjoy parenthood even more once J is interactive and his set of interests expand beyond boobs. Even though we decided to have a baby on purpose, I both underestimated the pain in the ass that a newborn represents (as I think everyone does) and how much joy he would bring, even right off the bat. And all he does is eat, poop, sleep and yell. Wait till he does other stuff too!

The mind and the body are one long braid

Today I feel all fragile. I would have made a great Victorian lady, and when not fainting could have spent my time lobbying for women’s cycling attire.

I want to take action, preventative measures that will help me be able to control my sympathetic nervous system so I can manage to finish my gigs. Linda Stone’s writing about breathing is inspiring to me, and I might just try to have a regular meditation/breathing exercise. Z thinks I might be further expressing my paranoia by obsessing about breathing, but… I don’t know. I want to take control.

Aaaand, in other news, people are so kind to me. My bandmate’s sister-in-law has offered to put in a good word for me in a starter job I want in the local government here. I am overcome with gratitude.

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

Meditations on the close of 2009. Lengthy, wordy meditations.

Let go of what was bad about the past year.
– The frustrations of summer renovations with my mom, with attendant insecurities about her control over my finances/apartment/life and her scowling disapproval of my relationship.

– Angst and lack of sleep thanks to my procrastination and crappy time management.

– Anxiety about my job prospects after school.

– Actually, plain old anxiety. I had some terrible panic attacks this year, which left me almost unable to continue my job playing music, and affected my ability to attend class.

– Wistfulness, obsession, sadness over (voluntary) childlessness

– Missing friends who moved out of town in 2008.

– Z and I have not done as well as we could have about getting in shape. He is in worse shape than me and I have worried about his health every day.

Celebrate what was good about the past year.
– School has been overall pretty awesome, and I’m pulling in good grades.

– By the end of the year, I arrived at a general topic to narrow down for my final project, which means that the end of my masters is in sight!

– I have become friends with some really fantastic classmates

– The planning community has been completely awesome to me, and I made a few professional connections.

– Some really fantastic babies were born to my friends and family, and I got some great time with my little “nephew” I. The last few days of 2009 will be spent in my home prairie town getting to know my new second cousin. That will be the best way to end the year.

– My relationship with Z has continued to be my rock, my foundation. Whenever I am fraught about something, he helps me to sort it out. We care for each other in small ways on a daily basis which make life at home warm and wonderful.

Set a direction for the new year ahead.

– Doing a good, inspired but sensibly scoped job on my final project.

– Graduating! Ideally before September!

– Getting ready to tackle a beginners’ triathlon this summer, and coaxing, cajoling, pleading, inspiring and motivating Z to fulfill his own desire to do the same. This needs to involve a day-by-day commitment to make time, schedule workouts, communicate with Z.

– Getting a fricking job. Holy shit, becoming a two-income household in which I actually contribute to our living expenses in a meaningful way. Pulling this one off –in such a shitty economy right now for local government – is going to involve patience, dedication and flexibility. If I can find nothing but temporary work, which is totally possible, it might involve selling the apartment (Nonononono!) and moving around a bunch. Here’s hoping that’s not how it goes, but I hope I can pull off the serenity to handle that transition period and make sensible decisions. Also, if I get a total miracle job (local, permanent) then I need to be patient with whatever happens with Z’s work. I can be the gracious breadwinner if that’s what needs to happen in terms of him getting more training or whatever.

– Coming to terms with how I feel about marriage. If we want to get married before having kids, 2010 would be a great time. I still have all kinds of doubts and anxieties about the formal institution of marriage (perfectly expressed here) which are compounded with my dread of dealing with my mom’s disapproval and all the awful things she is going to say, and her dragging me to lawyers and making me feel like an idiot, and how old am I again? Yeah, marriage. I’m going to do some reading.

– Trying for a baby in 2011 is our goal, but in an amazing, perfect world, we could start next year this time. My employment situation is the critical deciding factor.

Toddler visits!

My good and long-time friend R has been visiting the last few days with her 15-month-old son. I was so fortunate that they decided to pop by in this brief and dangerous lull between the last days of class and when all my term papers are due. (Tomorrow morning after they leave – out come the books!)

We spent the whole day today just out wandering and visiting people, and the sunshine cooperated, which here in the Rainforest, in the Rainy Season, is pretty much a miracle.

I’m really happy to be an honourary auntie to such a wonderful little boy. I am also lucky to have the parenting example of R, although my basic plan is a little different than hers – for a variety of reasons, she is full-time attachment parenting, and I’m pretty determined to keep working, especially after going back to school for a career I find really interesting. Her patience and warmth with her son are an inspiration.

Hanging out with my little “nephew” I demands this physical, ever-present-in-the-moment attention which is not my natural way of being in the world. It stretches me in a wonderful way. After he went to bed, I walked down to pick up our dinner and listened to a planning podcast and I could feel it engaging a totally different part of my brain – the analytical, thoughtful, long-range thinking part. I hope that when it is my time to be a parent that I can make this balance work, and find joy in the complete difference of these two centres: childish joy in the moment, and strategic thinking for the future.

Not to wish away the beautiful present, with some Christmas knitting on my needles and Z playing WOW in the other room, but I’m excited for what is to come.

Body and Soul

We need to work our muscles over here. Days filled with blogging, studying and riding the bus (in my case) or working at a desk, reading books and playing video games (in Z’s case) don’t seem to be maximizing our physical fitness. Who knew? Without putting too fine a point on it, we could both stand to sweat more.

My favourite way to get exercise is as a side effect of daily life. Using a bicycle for transportation is the optimal solution- taking the stairs and walking to get groceries also do the trick. But in the neverending rain it’s harder to get excited about an hour-long bike ride to school and last winter sometimes weeks went by where I take the bus to school. For Z it’s even harder to incorporate physical activity into his day – he works from home, so there’s nowhere to walk to on a daily basis.

So! There’s this beginners’ triathlon in a small town a few hours from here that happens every summer. Z signed up to do it with a group of friends one year, and ended up wanking on it for one reason or another. (Haha, spell-check doesn’t recognize “wanking.” Or wank, for that matter. Wanky!)


Then, this past summer, he and a friend decided to do it together. His friend bailed after a few months of training, and he sort of gave up.

Right now, my boy is in probably the worst shape of his life and feels bad about himself. I would dearly love to help him out. Partly self interest, of course – he is beautiful now, but damn, he’d be hot if he lost a few pounds. We could eat better, of course, but I think the big ticket for him is more exercise. He’s built to climb mountains and lift heavy things, not sit and type all day.

As for me – I’m lucky enough to be a tense little person with a high metabolism. I’m not overweight. But I do have a soft little belly and I should have way more strength and stamina for things like biking up big hills. My doctor, in one of her moments of actually discussing my health with me, mentioned that physical exercise would be really good for my anxiety, which can get pretty crippling. Finally, as I keep relentlessly mentioning in this blog, we hope to have a baybee in the next few years, and if all goes well, I will be needing to push said human being *out of my hoohaw*. I understand that being in shape is a good idea for that sort of endeavour.

So – should I tell him I want to do this triathlon with him next summer? It’s not a real triathlon, but a shorter version for beginners. As part of our training, Z would have to teach me to swim pretty much from scratch – no way in hell I could swim 500 meters or whatever it is at the present, even to save my life. We’d need to set up a training schedule and be committed about it – limited flexibility.

If I mention it, I’m 90% sure he’ll be in. I’ll also have to be 100% committed myself, and can be pretty sure that at some point I will wish I’d never even thought of it. He’s bailed and been bailed on in the past – so if I so much as say I’m interested to him, I have to mean it. Even though next summer is going to be when my final project for school is wrapping up, and HELLO ANXIETY!

I’m going to think about this for a week or two, then once classes are underway for the winter and I’m good and stressed out, I’ll check if the idea is still palatable. Helping Z get in shape is a noble goal, but for this to be a success, I’d have to want it for myself.

Looking Forward to Employment

Can I just say how good it is going to feel to be out of school and earning an income again?

I’ve been employed part-time at a research job which I do not enjoy and which is not in an area of my interest. It pays pretty well but makes demands on my time which I can’t fill. After lots and lots of consideration I have decided to give my notice tomorrow, which will hopefully enable my employers to find someone new at the start of the school year.

Reclaiming those few hours a week will hopefully enable me to move towards graduation faster. It’s also going to mean I contribute even less money than I do now towards my own care and feeding and general household expenses.

Z is very kind about supporting me right now, and just wants to help me get through school as quickly as possible. I appreciate this attitude a lot, but can’t help feeling like a liability. I needed a computer this year, and clothes… I find myself leaving more financial decisions up to him, since he earned the money. In reality, we should be in dialogue about expenses and budgets, since we share our lives.

About a year from now, with any luck, I will be on my way to some kind of reliable income. We’ll be able to start actually saving money and even donating to charity, Z won’t bear the entire weight of all our expenses, and I am going to make a budget….

Wow, I am excited about budgeting. That must mean that I am procrastinating from finishing up the last of my research job before giving my notice – tomorrow!

Welcome little second cousin!

My “little” cousin Scooter and his girlfriend brought their little boy baby J into the world last night. I wish I could drop every piece of this schoolwork crap and get on the first plane out there to live on their couch and hold the baby. Probably best for everyone involved that isn’t possible.

Holy crap I sometimes wish we all lived in the same city though. Enough to drag Z to live in my old car-dependent prairie town? Maybe not, although wouldn’t it be hilarious if that’s where a job came up for me. Ha ha!

I wish those kids every blessing. The parents are 23 and 24, and while they’re not teenagers, they’re not exactly an old married couple either – they had only been dating a few months when that baby happened along. It won’t be easy, but they have lots of good friends and two great families. my cousin is plenty smart although not a great communicator. (What, we’re related?)

I suspect that as far as parenting goes, some aspects (like the no-sleep thing) are easier for younger parents, and other parts (like financial stability, and maybe a steadfast co-parenting relationship) are a little easier to handle when the babie(s) came along later.

They will be in my thoughts. I love that baby already!

Motorbike Vacations!

I’ve been out of town a bunch lately, neglecting this blog alongside critical matters like work and school… but having lots of fun, and storing up thoughts to blog about.

On a superficial level, the last two weekend trips were memorable because I made them on the back of Z’s motorbike!  Until two weekends ago, the furthest I’d ever gone on the motorbike was across town when he drove me to school.

Due to poor planning, we found ourselves on the day we were to leave home for a family wedding in the situation of realizing that we might not be able to make it to our destination in a car. This probably sounds insane unless you are familiar with the coastal ferry system. The ferries get really full and busy in the summertime. That day there was such a long line-up already that we might not have been able to get on a boat, even after hours of waiting…

Unless, Z pointed out apologetically, I was willing to brave the few hours’ trip on his sport bike. Motorbikes (and petal bikes) hardly take up any room on board the ferries, so they go straight to the front of the line. I grumbled and freaked out a little bit about whether it was safe to carry all the fancy clothes and stuff we needed to take for the wedding on my back… then agreed. We quickly repacked our suitcase into two little knapsacks, and off we went.

My butt was sore and it rained a little, but we had such an amazing time! Even the sore butt thing was kind of an opportunity, as it made us stop for juice and stretching at many small-town corner stores. Not being able to take our laptops on holiday forced us both to quit working and have fun.

Water Lily

A water lily in a warm and glassy-calm lake up the coast. There were little green frogs too, sitting on the lily-pads, but they were always long gone before I got close in the borrowed kayak.

Then, last weekend we took the motorbike again up the coast to visit more  members of Z’s family, and we had another amazing time. My knitting fits very nicely into the tiny backpack, along with a few clothes, some sunscreen, a good book and an iPod. What else do you need on vacation?

Lazy Saturday

All around, it’s been a very homey Saturday. We canceled plans to go out tonight because Z is having a crappy few days and not feeling well. I spent the afternoon doing a little stoned knitting (which proved about as slow and inaccurate as regular knitting), and tweaking and cat-proofing the patio garden.

The patio garden is one of my favourite places at present, as well as an incredible time-sink. I’m trying to buy as little stuff for it as possible, so it’s built mostly of cobbled-together found materials. You can interpret this to mean that I am either an Earth-loving recyclista goddess, or too cheap and lazy to go to the hardware store. All of the roughly 200L of sterile dirt filling the various pots, planters, buckets and dresser drawers were purchased and brought home in plastic bags over the last two summers, which kind of diminishes any Earth goddess cred.

Last summer on the patio garden: tomato flowers

Last summer's patio garden: Tomato flowers

Having taken a quick bathroom break in between splicing chicken wire to fortify and re-install the homemade fence around the patio garden, I returned to find a cat sprawled ecstatically on the soft warm dirt of my herb bed. Bastard! 15 minutes later, catproofing was complete.

Then I made dinner out of delicious ingredients from this morning’s farmers market, including a rhubarb PIE, and then Z and I played some cards….  Tomorrow upon awakening I will resume panicking about schoolwork*.


It’s interesting that dirt, rocks and sticks – the raw materials of gardening – are such scarce resources here in the inner city, while pots, planters, furniture, etc. are heaped abundantly in backalley trash heaps. I had a hell of a time finding sticks to prop up the chicken wire, and finally lucked out when biking past a municipal tree-trimming work in progress. (I then proceeded to bike 10 km home with a bundle of 4-foot long sticks lashed to my frame…)

It’s also interesting that all the glorious tinkering I did today for fun (knitting, gardening, cooking) represented unceasing toil for my grandmother, sixty years ago.  She grew most of the family’s produce in her garden, cooked and baked all their meals from scratch, and knitted socks for everyone. I greatly appreciate being free of the urgent necessity of doing these things. For lucky me they can be leisure, like sitting on the beach, but they are more. They are also little symbolic ways of handmaking beauty for this house and this life.

I ordered a book of knitting patterns for baby stuff in the mail, and can’t wait to inflict nubbly handmade “beauty” on the helpless, immobile and mute offspring of my friends.

*Schoolwork = Coursework? Sort of. I find that one of the ways grad school chips away at my sanity  is that there are infinite tasks that are only cursorily related to actual courses, but that have to get done for one school-related purpose or another. Networking, resume-building, volunteer work, independent research, responding to 11,345 emails about the students’ association… all schoolwork.

On gettin’ hitched

Yesterday, Z returned from working out of town for a few weeks. We spent the day together lazily, him jet-lagged and me still coughing, doing a few errands, eating home-cooked food, and generally doing a lot of nothing.  At the risk of being predictable and insipid, I am delighted to have him back.

I am not a romantic. I haven’t anticipated finding a soul-mate or other magical interpersonal connection since high school. I don’t mean to suggest that other people who believe they are divinely destined to be with their partner are wrong. A good love story is a beautiful and useful thing.  But for me, a relationship is based on intent, on an agreement between two people (or more, but personally I’m conventional that way). If Z were eaten by a shark, or up and left me, there would be other fish in the sea. Multiple other people could make acceptable partners for me, and for him too.  That idea could be depressing or confusing – after all, how do we know that it’s best for us and our community that we devote our energies to each other? On the other hand, it’s kind of beautiful to recognize that our relationship is whatever we have built.  As long as we both are willing to make the necessary effort, relationship issues can be resolved.

Next month will mark five years since our first date.  Z was a friend of friends, and came highly recommended as kind. I simultaneously entertained the paradoxical ideas, even before our first date, that we were too different to possibly get along, and that we’d end up together anyways.  He drove a car, ate meat, seemed disturbingly stable and grown-up, and lived 90 minutes away by bus and by boat… I was hopelessly analog and poetic,and lived for music in a filthy crumbling house by the university with a large rotating cast of roommates and one toilet. My old journal entries from our first summer together recount concerns that he might not have enough substance to his character, he might “rely on other people to structure his life”, I might “have trouble respecting his lifestyle,” and anyways he was so nice I might just walk all over him. Mostly, though, those journal entries exclaim what a ridiculously nice person he is. In the intervening years, I have gotten to know his flaws as well, but to this day I am still marvelling over his genuinely sweet and thoughtful character. Even my mom, who so vigorously disapproved of our relationship back in the day, seems fond of him now, sometimes.

Now, above all people, he knows what is on my heart. Our lives are functionally interdependent. He has lived in the apartment I own for two and a half years. We file our damn taxes together. As of eight months ago when I finally bit the bullet and went back to school, he has been paying all the bills. Financial dependence was hard for me to accept gracefully, but I really do apreciate the gift of his support.

But damned if I feel like getting married. There are so many reasons not to do it:

  • Trepidation and cold feet! (that would be me, worrying.)
  • Giant pain in the arse and significant expense! (even for a small wedding with fewer than 20 guests)
  • Great potential to piss off beloved family members because not everyone could be invited to said small wedding!
  • The thought of scheduling a personal event in addition to the chaos of the next year or two of my life gives me panic attacks.
  • I regularly attend plenty of weddings as a musician, and do not appreciate the conventional rituals.  They can be very sweet if they are meaningful to the people involved, but they sure don’t speak to me personally.  Getting dressed up in white and being led to an altar reminds me of animal sacrifice.

On the side of motivating me to plan the damn wedding already, there is what?

  • There is some part of me that thinks it would be nicest, or at least classiest, to be married before having a baby. My cousin critically probed this assumption of mine – do I really think it makes a damn difference? Who am I trying to impress?  The truth is that I am trying to impress said nonexistent child. Children don’t understand things like adult relationships, and I suspect that a child might find it comforting if his or her parents are married.  It’s not a big deal, and if we accidentally got pregnant right now, there would be no quams about being unmarried. Nonetheless, this is the most compelling reason I can think of.
  • My best friend from university, R, once explained to me the rationale for her own wedding. She thinks, as I do, that getting married doesn’t magically change anything about your relationship – doesn’t make you more compatible or loving or better communicators.  She sees having a wedding as formally declaring “Hey family/community! This person here is someone I intend to be meaningfully partnered with in the long term. We hereby ask for your recognition and respect for this partnership.”  That’s a pretty good reason, although I feel like we already have the respsect of  the relevant communities.
  • It might be sort of marginally cool to have a ritual to mark this stage in our lives, for the sake of memories, pictures, and a family gathering. My life does suffer at present from a deficit of poetry. I’m so committed to burning through school and getting on with my life that I’m definitely missing out on some joy and reflection. Maybe weddings should be undertaken from a place of spiritual and emotional reflection. In that case maybe we should prioritize quiet togetherness and reflection, or alternately wait until retirement.
  • Um… nope, that’s all I’ve got. We already share every aspect of our lives together. The government and our employers (you know, if we weren’t a self employed dude and a student)  already consider us married for the sake of benefits and such.  Our families basically consider us hitched… so what is left? Cake?

Z and I have talked about my sense of trepidation already. What if after these years together, it’s a giant mistake? We don’t have enough in common! We run out of things to talk about! We dislike each other’s cooking!  He replied that of all his friends who have gotten married, the only ones who did not express some level of trepidation to him about the whole idea, the only ones who were absolutely sure about their marriage was one couple who got married in their early twenties and divorced a few years later.

Meaningful relationships are complicated, and rightfully so.  He is willing to wait patiently for me to find enthusiasm for gettin’ hitched. In his mind, we are married already.