Friday, May 31, 2013

Ivy is 2 months (and change)

Zari finished kindergarten yesterday, so we're officially on summer holidays now. I've been doing lots of gardening. So far, here's what I've done...
  • moved all the asparagus plants to one location
  • planted 20 white cabbages, 3 red cabbages, 3 cauliflower, 8 tomatoes, 2 raspberries, 6 romaine lettuce, 10 basil, rosemary, oregano, cilantro
  • transplanted chives, lavender, fruit bushes from our other house (june berry, red currant, josta berry, honey berry), and about a zillion hostas
  • dug up some areas of weedy lawn near the house, installed brick edging, and planted perennials
  • planted 4 more dwarf fruit trees in our orchard, for a total of 7. I'd like to add some peaches and one more variety of apple
  • built some large cages covered with chicken wire to keep the squirrels out of our strawberries (they're working!)

...and what I still need to do:
  • till our main garden area (adding in compost, peat moss, and perlite to the heavy soil), which consists of eight 12x4' beds
  • plant the main vegetable garden with Masai bush beans, edamame, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, beets, watermelon, and other yummy things
  • plant some grapes if they're still in the garden centers...I'd love to have a few varieties to eat
  • transplant my sage & garlic (they're currently residing in one of the flower beds)
  • mulch all of our vegetable and flower gardens to keep the weeds at bay 
  • try to trap the squirrels and rabbits that are eating our garden

Yes, I really love working in the garden. It's mentally relaxing and provides a good workout at the same time.

Ivy is a roly-poly baby now. She's pleasantly chubby but not crazy chubby like Inga was. She smiles all the time and has settled into a fairly predictable routine of nursing, being awake, and napping in 2-hour cycles. And she lets me put her down for naps now! She goes to bed between 7-8 pm and has a nice long sleep before waking to nurse, often midnight or 1 am and sometimes as late as 3 am. Then she nurses every 2+ hours the rest of the night. This just started last week.

She loves playing Patty Cake and The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Once There Was A Snowman. She's starting "talking" to us with little gurgles and coos.

Inga is starting to be very temperamental. It's such a drastic change from her normal easygoing self. Maybe it's because she's getting 3 molars at once? Or maybe it's just that she's 2 years old and wants to assert her independence all the time. "No, my do it!" is a constant refrain. Fortunately she calms down easily if I tell her "Ask the right way, please."

Oh, and some good news: we have an accepted offer on our old brick house, the one where Dio and Inga were born. We'll be closing in a few weeks! I'm glad to get rid of one of our properties, although I will miss the master bathroom that we remodeled when I was 7 months pregnant with Inga...

The kids horsing around in the bath. Zari said she was a zombie.

And finally, a typical morning. Kids are tumbling around showing me their "tricks," Ivy is hanging out on the bed kicking her legs while I'm getting ready.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

What to expect after your baby is born

A Postpartum Survival Guide

Let's talk about how to survive and thrive in the postpartum period. For me, postpartum life has always been blissful and magical. Nursing...cuddly newborn making little squeaks and grunts...being able to lie on my back and stomach...more nursing = bliss. It's my favorite stage by far.

nursing Inga a few days postpartum

But I know that many women struggle to adjust to life with a newborn baby. It can be a terrible shock after all that planning and preparation for the birth. You have a baby in your arms, and WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU DO NOW?

So today, let's talk about all the postpartum stuff that you wish you'd known, or that you figured out, or that surprised you, or that blindsided you. Let's talk about what to really expect postpartum for yourself, your baby, and the rest of your family. Let's share our tips and tricks for an easier postpartum adjustment.

Here are some things I've figured out:

Make a list of your postpartum responsibilities. Keep it short. 
*Everything else* other people should be doing for you. My postpartum responsibilities are:
1. Nurse the baby
2. Stay in bed and snuggle with the baby
3. Take pictures of the baby
4. Read books and putz around on the internet
5. Eat dark chocolate

I'm quite serious about #5 (but it has to be at least 70% and preferably 85% cocoa). That's really all I do for the first few weeks. I don't look after the other kids. I don't prepare meals. I don't do laundry. I don't really do anything except hole up in my room and admire my baby. Now, sometimes I feel a bit stir crazy and I have to *make* myself stay in bed.

The first recovery is probably the hardest and longest
I was really, really sore for weeks on end after I had Zari. It hurt to sit and walk for a long time. But after my other three children were born, I hardly felt like I'd had a baby. Give me a day or two, and I was almost totally recovered except for the postpartum bleeding.There's just something about having had a baby before that makes subsequent recoveries so much easier (unless, of course, you have something unusual happen like a c-section or shoulder dystocia or vacuum extraction or whatever).

Learn how to nurse lying down ASAP
This was a lifesaver. It took me about a month to master after Zari and Dio were born. But with Inga and Ivy, we nursed lying down from day one. It is seriously one of the BEST THINGS EVER.

I don't care how you do it: in the bed, with a co-sleeper, or even with a crib or bassinet in the same room. The more you can stay in bed at night, the better you'll sleep. I usually get out of bed once at night--and that's to use the bathroom and get a drink of water. Otherwise I get to stay cozy and warm under the blankets all night long. I think I would DIE if I didn't co-sleep. I can't imagine having to get out of bed multiple times per night, sit in a rocking chair and nurse the baby, put the baby down and settle it to sleep, then walk back into my bed and go back to sleep. That sounds positively horrific.

Size matters
Get a king-size bed if at all possible. I feel way too crowded co-sleeping on a queen bed.

Learn about breastfeeding before the baby is born. Get help ASAP if a problem arises. 
Nursing has gone very smoothly with all four of my babies. Some of it was luck (no tongue-ties, no routine practices that undermined breastfeeding, etc.), while some came from learning as much as I could before my first baby was born. I felt really well-prepared and knew how to get help if I needed it. If you can, spend some time with nursing mothers. Watch them latch their babies on. Ask them questions. Watch them some more. It's so helpful to see breastfeeding up-close and in person.

Wait to buy nursing bras
You don't know what size you'll end up after the baby is born. Wait at least a week or two to buy your nursing bras, because you'll change sizes so much in those first weeks. You'll have crazy huge porn boobs once your mature milk comes in around days 3-4-5. Then they'll settle down to a more manageable size. You can buy your sleep bras in advance, since they're stretchy and less supportive.

Towels are very handy
I put a bath towel underneath me and the baby when we're in bed at night. It catches the inevitable fluids (leaking milk, blood, spit up, pee, poop...) and saves me from having to change the sheets every day. Because leaks happen. All the time. I also put a crib-sized mattress protector underneath the fitted sheet. If we have a big leak and need to change the sheets, this protects the large mattress pad.

Double up
So, I finally figured out how to avoid bleeding all over the bed every night. Before I go to bed, I put an extra pad in the back of my underwear. Do this maybe the first week or two, or until your flow lightens up.

Learn how to ask for help
When someone says, "If there's anything I can do, just let me know," I've become really good about saying, "Yes, actually, I really need help with ________." Don't be polite and turn down help.

Get a sling
(Or a Moby wrap, or an Ergo, or a mei tai...) I don't know how I'd survive postpartum without one, especially when my help leaves and I'm on my own with a newborn and several other little children.

Now for some crowdsourcing...

Time to share your postpartum stories (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Tell us all about what it's really like to have a new baby. Share any tips or tricks you've learned. What do you wish you'd done differently, or known beforehand?
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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reflections at 8 weeks postpartum

I feel fully "back to life" again. My postpartum bleeding has finally stopped this last week. It was done in 10-12 days with my first two. Not so with Inga and Ivy.

I started exercising today, and I soon realized that I have no core! My stomach is still really squishy and bulging, more than I remember it being with the other kids. If you're interested, I run sprint intervals based on this research. Basically, I run 30 second sprints at maximum intensity with 2-3 minutes recovery, x 4-6 repetitions. I've been doing a lot of gardening, too.

Ivy is starting to settle into a routine at night. I usually can put her down around 8pm and have a few hours of baby-free evening time. I'll often head outside and garden until it gets too dark or until the bugs drive me back inside. Eric and I are watching old episodes of MI-5 (a.k.a. Spooks). Ivy nurses every 2-3 hours at night. Just what I'd expect at her age. She sleeps really well in between nursing, so I feel very well rested.

She also sleeps really well with her grandpa!

In her "baby jail", a.k.a. swaddle wrap.

Her daytime schedule still has no discernible pattern. Sometimes she'll nap for 20 minutes, other times for 2-3 times that long. I remember that my other kids usually settled into a predictable routine around 4 months.

Ivy started smiling when she was 5 1/2 weeks old. They're still fleeting, but I've seen lots more the past few days. I'm glad to have these exciting milestones. They make up for the happy-sad feelings I get when my infants turn into babies and my babies into toddlers...and on and on.

Now for some birth analysis...

I suspect that Ivy might have been posterior the whole labor and pushing stage, until about 5 minutes before the birth. I had constant rectal pressure almost the whole labor...not the "I have to puuuuuush" pressure, just icky uncomfortable pressure that never subsided. I've never had this with my other labors. I think that's also why I didn't feel the endorphin rush between contractions. When I showed my birth video to a group of Home Birth Summit participants, one of the OBs said Ivy was likely posterior and finally rotated about 5 minutes before the birth in that gigantic contraction that brought her down. There's no way to know for sure, but there are so many little things that all point towards that possibility. If so, no wonder why it was my most challenging labor!

More family pictures from our surprise visit to Minnesota:


Dio's Angry Bird birthday cake. Really simple. Peanut butter bars were the building blocks, and mini cupcakes with green frosting were the pigs. All on top of a dark chocolate tart (for the adults!). He threw some Angry Bird toys at the structure until it all collapsed.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Special discount for the ECV & Vaginal Breech Workshops

There is less than one month remaining before the ECV, Vaginal Breech, and NRP workshops in Niceville, FL!

We are offering two special perks for new registrations:

  • Extended early-bird discount through May 24
  • The next 5 registrants receive an infant scale sling of their choice from Second Womb Slings

If you've been thinking of attending, now is the time to act! Dr. O'Neill is a fantastic instructor. You will leave feeling more confident in your ability to safely attend (and risk out) a vaginal breech birth. Even if you do not offer planned breeches in your practice, you will greatly benefit from the hands-on training in the event of a surprise breech. As we all know, meconium happens if you're in the birth business.

Oh, and look at some of the beautiful new batiks I just bought for the infant scale slings...

Disclosure: The ECV & breech workshops are volunteer-run programs. The conference organizers have invested significant personal funds to cover program expenses.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Cardinal movements of the breech baby

Day 2
Jane Evans:
Cardinal Movements of the Breech Baby

I finally got in touch with Jane Evans about posting her lecture on the cardinal movements of the breech baby. She gave me the go-ahead, so here it is!

In this video, UK midwife Jane Evans explains the cardinal movements of the breech baby through the maternal pelvis when the mother is in an upright position. This was an abbreviated version of her physiological breech birth lecture. Please visit her earlier presentation for written notes.

During this presentation, Jane Evans showed photos of upright breech births. We did not have permission to film these images. Other footage of interest:

If you have other pictures or videos of upright breech births, please link to them in the comments.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some Mother's Day awesomeness

I'm the first one up this morning. Ivy woke up to nurse at 6 am and I couldn't get back to sleep. So I watched this clip from Stephen Colbert about the newest trend of going diaperless:

During church, I'm going to fill out this FmH Mother's Day Bingo card. I'll give one to Zari, too, to keep her occupied. If I hear anyone say "all women are mothers, if even they aren't mothers" I think I will scream.

I've never really cared for Mother's Day. When I got married, I was trying not to have children for the first 5 years. Then we had several years of unexpected infertility. Then, once I had kids, I resented how our culture gives lip service once a day to mothers but doesn't otherwise do much to support mothering. Read more at Mother's Day Blues.

What are you doing for Mother's Day? 
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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Downton Abbey napkins

When my mom came to help after Ivy was born, she got us hooked on Downton Abbey. Wouldn't it be fun--and tiresome after a while--to dress up for dinner every night? Tiara and long gloves and diamonds. A far cry from dinner at our house most nights. 

For my mom's birthday, I made her a set of Downton Abbey napkins. I wrote some of the wittiest quotes from Violet Crawley onto vintage linen napkins that I bought years ago. I followed the instructions from Design Mom's tutorial.

This was a simple, fun project requiring only a few supplies: fabric marker, lettering guide, and napkins. When I was stenciling the letters, I stretched the napkins out and fastened them to my work surface with masking tape. The weave on my napkins made the fabric marker bleed a little, but the overall effect was still quite nice.

If you had the time and skills, these quotes would look amazing with hand-embroidery.

I have several more sets of vintage linen napkins at home. I think I'll make myself another set (or two..or three) when I get home!
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Monday, May 06, 2013

May in Minnesota

We're visiting my parents in Minnesota this week. On the day that we drove in, they received a record snowfall. We saw downed trees and broken branches all over town. Crazy! Even May in Minnesota isn't usually this cold and snowy. But the sun is out now and the snow is gone.

Our first big road trip in the Mazda5 went pretty well. Ivy slept most of the time (except for nursing breaks). True to form, Dio was the worst traveler! We can't fit suitcases in the back hatch area, so instead we packed everything in cloth shopping bags, one per person. We stacked them up and with a little pushing and shoving, managed to close the door. We didn't need to put anything between the seats. So it's nice to know that we can fit a reasonable amount of baggage in this ultra-minivan.

All of us siblings came in from across the country to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday. It was super secret, so I couldn't say anything of our travel plans here or even to our kids. We have 10 adults and 11 grandkids in one house. Fun times.

On Saturday I met up for lunch with a midwife I knew back in my Iowa City years. She was in town doing prenatals, so we caught up on news and birthy stuff. We're already brainstorming for a breech  workshop in the Twin Cities area in summer 2014!
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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Seeking breech catchers in Calgary!

I just received an email from a 2nd-time mom from Calgary, AB who just discovered her baby is breech. Here's more info on her situation:

At 38.5 weeks, I recently discovered my baby is breech after finally deciding on a home water birth and making all the preparations. I was quite shocked. I had an ECV a couple of days ago, and the baby simply would not turn, for no apparent reason, despite lots of drugs and a very aggressive approach. I am continuing to do some Webster chiropractic treatments, and buying myself some time. The OBs were quick to offer a scheduled c-section, but I don't favor that option. They have told me that I can wait until I go into labor and then show up at the hospital hoping for a doctor willing to do a vaginal breech delivery. But there aren't a lot of OBs with experience doing breech vaginal birth (since it hasn't been offered for the last 10 years here, and only recently has the option opened up again). (My midwife can't offer me a home birth with a breech baby). Unfortunately, if I show up at the hospital and the doctor isn't comfortable/experienced with breech, then I may be required to undergo a c-section!

Let's put our heads together and find her more options before her baby arrives! If you can help, leave a comment or send me an email. 
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