Dear Ethan,

Today you are one month old.  I know it's a cliche, but I still can't believe how quickly it has gone by.  Tomorrow will be the start of my 5th week of maternity leave.  Only 7 weeks left to stay home with you full-time.

You are a very easygoing baby, and I really don't have any complaints.  When I was pregnant I tried to prepare myself for being up all night with a screaming baby, but that hasn't happened (yet).  Our first night in the hospital you slept for 6 hours straight.  You haven't duplicated that yet, so I'm lucky to get 4 hours between feedings at night, but you do go right back to bed after you eat and get a diaper change.  You sometimes have fussy periods during the afternoon or evening, which I think is due to your tummy bothering you.  I'm looking into remedies for that, but it might just be something we have to get through.

We're still waiting for your first "real" smile.  You smile like crazy after you've eaten, or in your sleep, but not really in response to me or your dad.  There have been a couple times when I thought you might be smiling at me, but I'm just not sure.  Most times, though you don't seem unhappy, you have a permanent scowl on your face.  It's the exact face that your dad makes when he first wakes up.  He's not a morning person, and I'm thinking you probably aren't either.  But he's afraid that you won't like him, since all you do is scowl at us, so you should really work on that smiling so he'll feel better.

Eating is without a doubt your favorite thing in the world.  You very rarely scowl while you eat.  And you're getting plenty, since you've already shot up to 12 lbs 4 oz and 23.5" at your last pediatrician appointment.  You're off the growth charts and already into 3-6 month clothing.  You also outgrew your x-small diaper covers.  At this rate, you'll weigh about 65 lbs at your first birthday... 

For the first few weeks we always swaddled you before a meal.  You got to know the routine, and when we wrapped you up, you would get so excited you'd start to snort.  Now you just make your mouth into an O shape and breathe really fast.  It's cute, but not as comical as the snorting.

You also seem to like going for walks in the morning.  Even when it's chilly I've been trying to get us both out for some fresh air.   Sometimes we take the jogging stroller (and yesterday I even jogged!), and sometimes I put you in the Beco carrier.  Either way, you usually go right to sleep.
All-in-all, everything is going much better than I expected.  I guess it can pay to expect the worst, but you're pretty much the best baby two clueless parents could hope for.  We appreciate it!


Old house pictures!

Today my neighbors across the street (D and M) gave me the most incredible gift: 2 pictures of my house, one from the '50s, the other from 1960. D's sister lived in the house in the 1950s, and when I talked to D a year or so ago about the house's history, he said that he'd ask her if she had any photos from when she lived there. Since it's been so long, I assumed he had either forgotten or couldn't find anything. I wasn't going to be a pest about it. But today when Shayne was leaving, D flagged him down and gave us these two photos. How exciting!

D's wife M wrote the following caption for this picture: "D's sister bought the house like this." To me, the exterior appears to be in completely original condition. My guess is brown on top with white below, which is a common color scheme for foursquares. The screen door is the same one I found beside our neighbor's garage and "rescued" on a hunch that it belonged on our house. I'm so glad I did, since the neighbor cleaned out the junk pile over the summer, and it would probably be long gone otherwise. The porch floor looks like it's wooden, and I love the lattice on the bottom. You can just barely see the original garage in the back. The tree on the right may be the same one that's there today. The one on the left, which is obviously a maple, is still there for certain.

The second photo is dated June 1960. M wrote another caption: "Then closed in the porch." I wonder why they changed it? I generally don't like screened-in porches, but I don't think it looked too bad. This one confirms that the maple is the same one there now. The second story looks to have been painted white., but not much else has changed. You can barely see the original garage in the back, as well as the fence along the railroad easement. Maybe it's the picnic table and swing, but I love how homey this picture makes the house and yard look.

And a year or two ago. Is it just me, or does the house look WAY smaller? I think the spindly porch supports make the house look less substantial. And the windows look so naked without trim! The 2 car garage was moved to the property at an unknown date. D told me the '50s, but it wasn't there in the 1960 picture. The original is still behind the new one, but I'm not sure now if that's its original location. It looks closer to the house in the old pictures. Obviously the original porch is long gone. And it's been "updated" with vinyl siding and fack brick. Ick. I'm almost positive that the mailbox on the left is the same one, it's just that the little slope leading up to the yard is higher.
I never thought we'd have old pictures of our house. Thanks D and M!!


Minor adjustments

Ethan is now almost 3 weeks old, and I've been on maternity leave for a few days more than that. Since then (aside from pushing the not-so-little guy out!), I've accomplished pretty much nothing. I have cooked one meal, vacuumed a few times, mopped the floor, and kept the kitchen mostly clean. I've washed diapers galore. I'm really scared to see our utility bill this month...! On nice days I put Ethan in the stroller or sling and go for a walk (except today because I'm lazy). But even when he's sleeping (which he does most of the time), I'm too chicken to be more than 10 feet away from him because I'm worried he might wake up and cry. 

Oh, the joys of being a new parent!  :)

I know I'm normal. I know babies cry. I know than the extra 4 seconds it would take me to run down, or up, the stairs wouldn't permanently damage him. But even when he's just sleeping, I feel like I should be doing ...something... with him. Or that I have to stay very close by in case he wakes up.  I do wear him in the sling or Beco carrier, but even then I end up playing on the computer instead of cleaning up the house.  When he's awake, I talk to him, and "play" with him, but that's only for maybe 20 minutes at a time. 

I've gotten out a few times, to the grocery store, Barnes and Noble, and to Applebees with Shayne or my mom. But aside from outside destinations like going hiking or something, there are not a lot of places I want to go. I'm not much of a window shopper, so I'm kind of at a loss for what to DO all day.  I don't even know what I want to do.

I'm not feeling any pressure to get things done, but I need a little bit more to fill up my days besides staring at the baby.  I like being a mommy, but I need a little structure or something.  There are plenty of things around the house I could do, I suppose.  Organize the "new" hall closet, make and can more applesauce, organize the back porch/laundry room/mud room, finish writing thank-you cards from the baby shower... 

My goal this week is to accomplish one small something each day, even if it's just getting out of the house.  I'm making a list, and every day I stay at home, I'll try to get something crossed off it.  If I can pry myself away from the sleeping baby...


Welcome to the world, baby Ethan!!

What do you know...  I actually finished a project for once!!

Ethan Edward entered this world on 9/29 at 1342 hrs.  He weighed 9 lbs 7 oz and is 21" long, and I delivered him completely drug-free!

I wanted to type out the story of his birth while everything is still relatively fresh in my mind.  If you have a problem with graphic descriptions, then you might not want to keep reading...  : )

I started having noticible contractions on Monday night at around 9:30 pm and told Shayne he should probably stay home from work.  They weren't bad, but they were regular (about 7-10 minutes apart), and something just told me that this was it.  I called my doula to give her a heads-up, then tried to get some rest. 

Yeah, that didn't happen...  I was feeling the contractions mostly in my back, and laying down through them was uncomfortable enough that I didn't want to do it.  I layed down for a while, and it was like I could just feel this gaping hole opening up inside me.  I wasn't trying to visualize anything, it just felt like that's what was happening.  I did the positioning exercises suggested to me to prevent or turn a posterior baby, but was still having lots of back pain.  In fact, there were very few contractions that hurt all the way around.  Or maybe it just felt that way because of the back labor.

By 4:30 am Tuesday morning, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart.  This is when my midwife told me I should go to the hospital, but I just wasn't sure.  I'd heard that you just know when it's time to go, but I guess I'm not one of those people.  I called my mom, who suggested I go, then my doula.  My doula didn't seem positive that I was ready.  I talked to her through 3 contractions, though, and by the third, we had decided I should go and get checked.  If I wasn't dilated to at least 5 cm, I figured I'd just come back home.  My mom agreed to meet us there.

Sitting in the car through contractions sucked.  A lot.  At home I had to stand and sway my hips through each one to find a position where my back didn't quite hurt as badly.  I obviously couldn't do that in the car, and when we it bumps while I was having a contraction it was pretty painful.  Shayne (carefully) ran every red light we came to, which I thought was funny.  When we got close to the hospital there was a stretch of brick-paved road we had to go down.  This stretch had hurt even when I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I had warned him in advance that I'd kill him if he drove down that road if I was having a contraction.  Of course I was having one then.  We waiting at a green light for what felt like forever and waited for my uterus to behave itself, then finally made it to the childbirth unit.

We entered the childbirth triage, where I was told to pee in a cup (maybe I'm not really pregnant after all!) and put on a hospital gown.  I told the receptionist/nurse that I'd be staying in my own clothes, which seemed to offend her personally.  After I went into the bathroom I heard her tell Shayne, "Well, she's not going to give birth in sweatpants!"  Maybe not, but I sure as hell wasn't putting on something that would leave my ass bare to the world.  So in my yoga pants and tank top I stayed.

The actual triage nurse was much more accomodating and let me stand up while I was being monitored.  I continued with my belly-dance-through-a-contraction maneuvers until she was ready to do a pelvic exam.  I was completely expecting to be only 2 cm.  After all, first time mothers usually go slowly, and the contractions just didn't seem that painful.  Nowhere near what I'd been expecting.  To my surprise, I was nearly 7 cm.  I hadn't shown up pushing, but it didn't look like I was going to be spending an eternity in the hospital either.  I was admitted and called my doula to come on over.  It was probably a little after 5:30 am by now, but from here on out my time sense got a little fuzzy.

Once I was in my L&D room I was put on cordless monitors because they weren't seeing the accelerations in the baby's heartbeat with each contraction.  My doula arrived and we agreed to try a more aggressive positioning exercise (Texas Roll?) to try to ensure that the baby was not posterior.  My back labor was a little worrisome to me as my mom had had the same thing and I had been jammed against her pelvis and unable to come out.  I did NOT want a c-section if at all possible.  So with the first exercise, I had to lay flat on my back with a rolled-up sheet under my lower back.  It hyper-extends the lower back to allow the baby more room to reposition.  And it hurts like hell.  I stayed there for what felt like forever, then moved to the"roll-over" position.  In that one you lay mostly on your belly with pillows under whichever side you want the baby to move to.  That one hurt too, but I suppose most things having to do with labor do hurt...

After that I could feel that the baby was laying more "back to belly" than before.  My midwife confirmed it, so I was "allowed" to resume laboring in any position I wanted.  My back still really hurt through each contraction, though, even though the baby was supposedly in a better position.  I tried laboring in the whirlpool tub, walking up and down the hall, and probaby a few other things that I don't remember.  Nothing but standing up seemed to help the back pain, which really disappointed me.  I'd had visions of a zen-like labor in the whirlpool, then a waterbirth.  Not so much.

Around 11:30 (maybe?), I asked my doula if there was anything we could do to speed things along.  I was getting really tired, and I didn't feel like my contractions were geting me anywhere.  She said we could have my midwife break my water, assuming an internal exam showed that I was dilated enough.  By breaking my water, my contractions would hopefully become more productive.  She also expressed concern that I was so tired and didn't seem to be making any progress.  I was really nervous about having any interventions, so I decided I'd try to rest for a while first.  Shayne and I both laid down, and everyone left the room.  Shayne got a nap, but my back hurt so much with each contraction that I pretty much just laid there and wondered why natural childbirth was so important to me.  I still didn't want an epidural, but I totally understand why people get them.  I felt like every muscle in my body was contracting right along with my uterus, even though I was trying so hard to relax.

After a while I got up, found my mom and my doula, and told them I wanted to have my water broken.  I needed to get this over with, and that was the least invasive way we could all think of.  So Kristen (my midwife) checked me, found I was 9+ cm, and used a crochet needle-looking instrument to try to break the bag of waters.  Which didn't quite work.  After 5 minutes of fishing around, she finally managed.  For some reason, my membranes were extremely stretchy and tough, and she couldn't puncture it. 

From that point on, things really got going.  The contractions (and back pain) intensified, and I had a few panicky minutes where I swore I just couldn't do it.  Shayne, my mom, and my doula all talked me through it, though, and a little while later they asked me if I wanted to try pushing.

The nurse hooked a bar to the bed, and I tried a few different positions.  I didn't feel an urge to push, though, and I wasn't quite sure how to do it.  Another pelvic exam, and Kristen found that there was a lip of cervix that was holding things up.  I had to lay back down on my back, back on the rolled up sheet to tilt my pelvis, and Kristen held down the lip while I tried my best to push.  After a few tries, I finally got a decent one or two, and the baby moved over the lip and into the birth canal.

Holy crap.  I'd read on someone else's birth story that the pushing stage was like trying to shit a watermelon out your asshole.  I can't describe it any better than that.  I'm not even going to try.  Pushing sucked more than anything I'd ever imagined and hurt like hell.  At some point the folks at the business end said they could see the baby's head, and everyone kept saying how much hair he had.  I kept thinking, "Who gives a shit how much hair this baby has...  Get him OUT!"  I lost my contraction while he was crowning and had to wait for the next until I could push him out.  That was the worst part.  I begged for a shot of lidocaine.  My mom kept telling me to push, and I just couldn't.  It felt like forever, but I finally had another contraction, and out he came.

Immediate relief.  Ethan's hand had been up by his face, which was probably why I'd had such intense back labor.  They quickly wiped him off and put him on my stomach.  He DID have a lot of hair.  And he was huge.  I don't know that I was thinking much at this point, but I was (and still am) amazed that a fully-formed person came out of me. 

So...  I'd say I have a pretty good excuse for not getting anything done around the house for the next 3 months or so  :)