Tuesday, February 18, 2014

six weeks and nineteen months

and now for a little polly and lucy update.

polly is six weeks old. she was sleepy, so sleepy, for the first month or so but now she's really woken up. she has big sparkly eyes and a little mouth that makes so many cute funny shapes. a very round head and face, round features. i always knew our babes would be round.

she is quiet and good, and seems to have an incredible gentle wisdom behind those eyes. 
she is starting to talk and coo to me quite a bit; i think she is excited to communicate.
she loves to be held in our arms, and is not fond of bouncy seat, swing, or boppy lounger like toot was. she loves to feel our skin: a cheek on her head, her hand to a chest.

she does sometimes just like to lie on her own and calmly look around, for a strangely long amount of time.

also, polly is an eye-gazer extraordinaire.

she wasn't an extremely early smiler like lucy or her cousin scout, and she doesn't smile all the time, but when she does it is so bright, it crinkles up her whole face. i have yet to capture her big huge open-mouth-wrinkled-nose-smile but it is coming more and more frequently so i'm sure i will soon!

she is not a vigorous nurser. she nurses gently and often only for a few minutes. she slips off frequently to stare, or grunt, or smile, or sleep. she burps and spits up more than lucy did too. but she is growing well so i'm not worried. i'm just learning more than ever that every baby has her own style and her own personality.

polly is wearing cloth diapers now. check out that nice big bottom!
also, she has rolled over seven times already. at first i thought it was a fluke at five weeks old, but she has done it several more times during tummy time, both fussy and not. she is a rock n'roller no doubt.

she's also getting realllly good at holding her head up.

i just adore my little bright star. waking up with her next to me in the morning is such a treat, with her beaming eyes and beautiful smile.  

speaking of smiling, lucy is 19 months old and as spunky, smiley, and gregarious as ever!
needless to say she loved valentine's day. after going nuts over the balloons at the grocery store for weeks, she was ecstatic to get her own from nana. she also loved seeing hearts everywhere and would point them out for all the world to hear: "AWT! AWT!"

She can slide down the slide all by herself now. (she used to be just a little bit nervous about it. all it took was seeing a three year old girl do it.)

she loves loves loves other kids. she is the most social person i've ever met. she likes adults too. she will reach out and touch old grannies in the grocery store and then reward them with a giant smile and wave. she just loves people. her favorite thing to do is list out the names of everyone we know. it relaxes her. 

she talks a lot these days, she probably has hundreds of words, but many of her words are indistinguishable and she can get pretty frustrated. 
she cries when i make her get out of the sandbox, when we have to leave the park, in general when it's time to go inside. she gets a little annoyed when i am nursing polly and can't immediately do what she wants. 

but usually things go pretty smoothly. while nursing polly, i try to color with toot or read to her with my free hand. she has so many favorite books that make her so happy. She squeals with delight while pointing out her favorite details. she's into Corduroy, the Berenstain Bears (especially The Bears' Vacation and the Spooky Old Tree), Bits and Pieces by Judy Schachner, 
Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow, and so many others. Recently she has taken a renewed interest in Goodnight Moon and the fun thing about that is how she points out every. tiny. detail. The kid is extremely observant; she notices things I've never noticed in all my 893 readings of it. Like the little babydoll on the shelf in the background, indeed no baby passes unnoticed.

it's nice she loves babies so much; she absolutely dotes on her own baby sister. her transitional period seems to be over and she almost never does anything too rough to the baby nowadays. she constantly gives polly the sweetest little nose kissies, bringing her face slowly and gently toward polly's and then rubbing her nose or cheek against that soft baby skin. i also notice her frequently trying to hold polly's hand in exciting moments, like while introducing new baby toys (lucy gets much more excited about this than polly).  tootie also asks to hold her, putting her hands out palms-up and saying "oh-wo, oh-wo?"
polly is generally a bit dazed by it all, but sometimes she even smiles about her sister's attentions.

other times, not so much.

lucy has become slightly more picky when it comes to food. she's always been a great eater, but i think it's normal for toddlers to begin asserting will in all areas of life. favorite foods right now are kiwi, pasta, raspberries, crackers, cheese (duh) and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. she feeds herself with both spoon and fork, but often resorts to hands. all of it messy.

lucy has become self-referential, if that makes sense. she refers to herself as "me" or "toot" which is kinda funny, i never would have dreamed that nickname would become so familiar to us all. she points at her chest with her little tapping finger and says "toot do," when she wants to do something herself or "me, me, me" when wanting to watch a video of herself (one of her favorite activities, and she watches with the hugest smile you've ever seen.)

she's very interested in the ABCs and is trying to learn to sing. she knows her colors and her favorite seems to be purple, which she says pretty perfectly. "dee" is green, "yo yo" for yellow, "beh" for red, "pee" is pink.

she's a climber, loves to ride on the edge of the couch and pretend she's on a pony, loves to climb ladders or chairs and then point to the ground and say "boo, boo." i'm not sure if she's saying she'll get a boo-boo if she falls, or she could go "boom" if she falls down.

basically my tootie is just a pure ray of light.
she's got a wild streak; she's happy; she's adaptable and loving and so smart.
she even plays practical jokes these days, like pretending to be asleep and then surprising us. she loves to shriek with laughter and loves suspense. 

two under two. i always heard that phrase but there is no way to conceptualize what it will really be like until you are doing it. for example, i didn't know and couldn't have imagined that there is no way you can leave your one year old alone with your newborn for even a second. that complicates matters like going to the bathroom or basically doing anything at all.

i've found that it's best to have no expectations from my days.
there are hard days, days when i decide that nothing is going to get accomplished besides keeping my babies and myself alive. but then there are good days; i feel like a superstar, i get laundry done and the bed made and ourselves dressed; we do some fun activities, and i might even get a little time to myself during naptime, and then i cook a nice dinner. those days are fewer and farther between, but guess what? yesterday was one, and today was too. that's a good sign. we're figuring this out and we are often having a lot of fun doing so. and to tell the truth, i'm loving life.

if you ever have questions, comments, or advice about baby-raising, i'd love to hear it all in the comments!

polly's adorable calico bonnet was made by my friend kim's mom.
lucy's vintage kercheif came in the sweetest package from tera.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

some say love, it is a burning thing. that it makes a fiery ring. (another birth story)

Emily and Joey had their baby!
WELCOME to the world, Scout Maple Beatty.
my tiny new niece was born at 10:40 a.m. on Friday, February 7, 2014.
7 lb. 20 inches. 
looks a lot like her daddy. she seems to possess an inner grace and self-awareness already.

i had the honor of attending the birth. my job was to rub emily's feet or hands and to offer moral support. i had gotten the text at 1:10 a.m on February 6 that her water had broken. 
let me tell you a little secret about emily: she knows things. she foretells things. she is a soothsayer and a good witch. she told me several days beforehand: i hope i go into labor on thursday and have my baby on friday at sunrise. she was pretty darn close.

because her water broke so early, she had to go to the hospital by one in the afternoon on Thursday even though her labor wasn't yet in full swing. this may or may not have affected the length and progress of her labor, but in any case she and joey worked diligently all afternoon and evening to get her into more active labor. even after they were checked in, they walked, used essential oils provided by the doula, tried different positions, and did nipple stimulation. she was having good, intense contractions but not very regularly. i know from experience now how normal this is, and emily did a great job trying to focus and just allow those contractions to come wash over her.

we were in contact all day, but darin and i didn't even head over there until later in the evening. i couldn't stand the anticipation anymore. my mom came over to hang out with lucy and get her to bed; we packed up polly and headed over to the hospital. emily's mom was already there in the waiting room, and i left darin and polly with her and headed in to be with em.

she was doing beautifully, walking the halls, laughing and talking in between contractions, and so eager to get them coming on stronger and more regular. She noticed that they happened closer together whenever she went to the bathroom, so she labored in there a while with joey. finally, at about 8:30, her contractions finally started coming about four minutes apart. it was a sudden shift in pace that felt very positive, and right after that Dr. Nelson came back to check her dilation. We were all so pleased to find out she was at a five!

after that the work she and joey were doing got much more intense. sandy, the doula, and i each massaged her feet or hands as the contractions came on strong. emily was breathing through each one. she and joey would look at each other and breathe together. it was the most tender sight to behold: a man and a woman who love each other and are bringing a child into this world together, being brave, breathing together, steady and true, letting this powerful experience flow through them.

as the mother of a newborn myself, i was on-call for nursing sessions throughout the night. someone would text me that polly was hungry and i'd hurry out. the scene in the waiting room was kind of cozy....it was the first night of the olympics, emily's mom was keeping everyone's spirits up, and our friend brittney had driven all the way up from oakland to meet the new babe. for a while they were jolly, placing bets on when baby would arrive. later they were just punchdrunk with exhaustion. 

we love you emily!

pops takes his turn with polly:

little polly getting in some tummy time:

is it really two in the morning?

the scene in the delivery room was getting pretty intense. i could not believe how beautiful emily looked as she moaned and breathed through her contractions. her face had a pure glow, her skin seemed extra radiant, she was like some ethereal fairy princess in great pain and gracefully dealing with it. i can hardly describe it but it struck me over and over again that night. for a long time she felt like she was going to faint, she got super light headed and dizzy. she was so exhausted. the wee hours of the morning marched on, full of the mounting sounds of her labor pains. she labored on and on and on, hour after hour of excruciating pain interspersed with long rests. she threw up all the water and the couple bites of food she'd had. we thought for sure she was in transition. in between contractions she was almost falling into an uneasy sleep. 

at 3:30 in the morning she said she wasn't sure she could go on like this. i remember asking her, do you think you could do another hour? i thought for sure her baby would be here within an hour. she hadn't been checked since 8:30 and i thought surely she was close to fully dilated by now. she didn't think she could go for another hour, but she did anyway.

finally, probably a little over an hour later, the nurse asked if emily would like her to check her dilation. she was aware of the possible discouragement an assigned number could bring, and even offered to simply state whether or not there was progress. emily had a few more contractions in the bathroom, standing up against joey. she was at the end of her rope. she got back on the bed to be checked.

needless to say, we were all pretty surprised and somewhat dismayed to find out she was only at a six. this was about eight hours after she'd been at a five, eight hours of such hard hard work. so at this point, emily asked about her options for pain relief. she needed some kind of reprieve. the nurse took her request very seriously, knowing emily had been aiming for a natural birth, but also knowing that she was truly exhausted and this would be a last resort, hopefully allowing her to rest and giving her the strength she needed for the final push. 

the epidural did just that. after all the prepwork it was administered a little after six a.m. darin and i took polly home to get a couple hours of much-needed sleep. i was in contact with joey about the process and what was going on over there. Dr. Nelson came back to check emily just after she got the epidural and she was at an 8-9. Much more encouraging! He was going off his shift at 8 a.m so he had her try a couple pushes. She wasn't ready so he turned over the reins to Dr. Cherry (who delivered our friend Becky's baby, another story, just two days before!) She advised Emily to rest a little while before pushing again.

At our house Lucy was waking up, my dad was there after sleeping a couple hours in our spare room, and my mom came back. It felt like a holiday. Someone was cooking eggs. I was nursing the baby and fielding phone calls and texts from friends waking up wanting to know if Joey and Emily had had their baby yet. It felt festive and I was very eager to get going, get my contacts back in and head back over there. Ten a.m. Next thing I knew, I had a text from Emily's mom that had come in twenty minutes before while I was on the phone. It said: Pushing! Come back now!

We all rushed madly in a flurry of activity to get both babies in the car and get back over there. I had Darin drop me off in front and ran up to the Birth Center with my camera in tow. The elevator ride felt like an eternity! 

As I entered the delivery room, it was like a different place. I immediately felt that everyone's spirits were uplifted since earlier. No more exhaustion, no more excruciating pain. Just a bright, brave woman pushing perfectly as her baby's head began to emerge. She had easily figured out the technique of pushing, and she never lost feeling in her legs, plus she was still able to feel the contractions just enough to use their energy. Her pushing was smooth and powerful. My hands were shaking as I snapped photos and took some video footage.  The nurse and the doctor had good, encouraging, triumphant energy. One big push, two, and on the third push after my arrival...out came this enormous purple baby head! Not a fast pop out like my Polly's head, but a slow, steady emergence. The doctor turned her head around toward us. It was so otherworldly, the beautiful, still, pure sight of that face coming from within to without. I will never forget it. Emily was elated! The room filled with the sweetest celebratory energy, and moments later they swooped baby Scout's body up out of Emily's body and onto her mama's chest. Emily could not stop smiling, loving her baby, cooing at her. I could not stop crying. Scout never even cried. She just stared up at her adoring parents and calmly figured it all out.

It had been such a night! So full of emotion and energy and power and exhaustion and despair and love and triumph. Birth takes us through the whole gamut of human emotion, from the dark night of the soul to the rapture of creation. I was on a high, and teary eyed for days.
We stuck around for a while, taking turns letting the new parents bond and then going in to peek at that amazing new face. In the waiting room I had my own little miracles waiting for me. Darin had to leave at noon to walk downtown and get to work. It was a couple hours later when I finally packed up my babes, kissed the new family good-bye and hit the winding road through the rain to get Lucy down for a nap.

in the waiting room, telling Lucy all about her tiny new cousin:

I will never forget driving down Cedar Ravine in the rain, with my two girls falling to sleep in the backseat, music playing that had also been on Emily's birthing playlist, the scenes and emotions of the night rolling through my head, my heart overflowing. Tears flowing down my face. Picturing Scout's perfect, wonderful little face and the way Joey and Emily, two of my very favorite people on this earth, are reflected there. The way they took her into their arms so naturally, so full of light and laughter and love, like it was always meant to be, which of course it was. It felt like this little baby and this great great love brought the rain, washing over the earth with this huge regenerative power. The cedar trees were shaggy with their dark green boughs heavy with water, pine needles blowing across the winding road, the fields and squirrels and hawks, the bridges and barns, everything lifting up their weary heads for a drink of this good clean life. 

And me, right here, blown open, my little grateful heart raggedy with it all.
Thank you, Joey and Emily and Scout, for letting me be a part of it, and for being the amazing people that you are.