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6 month pics

3 Mar

The photos are in from Baby E’s 6 month portraits. I have to say, I am ecstatic about the results! Rachael at Kachoo Kids did an awesome job – the session was fun, the shots were great, and we got a disc with nearly 100 photos of our little nugget.

What I love best is the array of facial expressions captured in these images. E has a funny face, and he always has some silly expression.

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See what I mean? I have a good empty wall and I think I’m going to do a little montage of 8×8 photos of tightly-cropped faces of Ezra. Can’t wait to have some fun with these photos!

Press Pause!

17 Feb

Today we took Baby E to have his 6-month photos done at Kachoo Kids, which is an awesome little photo studio on Woodruff Road in Greenville. Rachael, the owner/photographer, did a great job and made the session really fun. And Baby E did a great job sitting and posing and laughing. I can’t wait to see the proofs next week. I’ll be sure to post pics when I have them.

On the ride home, D and I were talking about how proud we were of Baby E’s big boy behavior. D was afraid he’d have a meltdown and scream the whole time. I had a little more faith, but was still pleasantly surprised by E’s chipper demeanor for the better part of the hour session.

Really, Baby E has been quite chipper for the past week or two. Six months has turned out to be a pretty good age for him. His motor skills are improving every day and he is getting good at sitting by himself. Rolling, on the other hand, is apparently for suckers. Baby E wants nothing to do with lying down – he needs to be up with the grown folks and in the thick of things. He’s matured quite a bit and is happy playing for longer stretches now that he has the hang of sitting up. (In related news, if you see me out, I might actually have makeup on now.) And after previously being inseparable from me, he’s now becoming very fond of his Daddy, who is apparently freaking hilarious for no reason I can determine. But believe me, he is. Baby E is quite vocal about it and squeals with delight at most anything D does.

The boy is still curious as ever and spends plenty of time staring at people and trying to figure out new situations. This has been emphasized recently by a cock of the head when he’s trying to figure something out, which I adore. His fascination with electronics has begun and he goes after any phone, computer or remote he can see. He LOVES the dog, talking to her and grabbing her at every opportunity. Fortunately, Fluff-dog is pretty tolerant of this. E still loves taking walks and cuddling and his sleep schedule still sucks, but we’re working on that. I love watching him learn all of the neat things his body can do as he twists and turns and reaches and grabs and jumps and screeches and squeals. I know it won’t be much longer before he figures out how to scoot and crawl…

Intently watching dogs at Falls Park.

Those dogs were seriously interesting.

Being the silly baby that I love.

I just love this sitting-but-not-yet-crawling stage, and I know it’s not going to last for long. I have the distinct feeling that I’m going to have a hellion on my hands once Baby E achieves mobility, and I’m just not ready to give up the sitting and cuddling quite yet. Can we press pause now?

Birth Story

11 Feb

I’ve been meaning to record our birth story for some time now. I’ve managed to get bits and pieces of it down here and there, but haven’t taken the time to put it into one coherent story. This is probably because it is rather long. So without further ado…the story of Baby E’s birth.

I started having mild contractions on August 8, a Monday night right when I went to bed. By about midnight they were keeping me up – partly because they were mildly uncomfortable and partly because I was a little excited about the commotion in my uterus. Baby E’s due date guesstimation was August 4 and I had grown huge, hot, and a little uncomfortable. I lay in bed and timed contractions for a little while before I decided to get up around 1 a.m. when it was clear to me that I wasn’t going to be sleeping. I got up, drank some water, and took care of a few things I needed to do in the event that this was actual labor and we’d end up heading to the birth center. I had packed a baby bag, but still needed to put some things in a bag for me. And I decided I really needed a playlist on my iPad for labor, so I set about finding some soothing music suitable for bringing a baby into the world. (I settled on Bach Cello Suites, which I am glad to say, is delightful and doesn’t even get annoying when you listen to it for 20 hours straight.) Darion woke up around 2:30 and realized I wasn’t in bed and got up to check on me. When I told him about my contractions, that was pretty much the end of his sleep for the night too.

The contractions got a little stronger, but weren’t that close together (they were about 5 min apart and 45 sec in duration), so I remembered what we learned in our birth class and decided to take a bath, then eat a snack and drink some more water and see what happened. They continued to progress a bit, so I decided I’d try to get a little rest and lie down, but after lying on my side for a while the contractions got stronger. Around 5:30 we decided to check in with Midwife Linda and see what she thought. Of course, she told us that we could come to the birth center whenever we felt we needed to, and we decided to head that way around 8:00 Tuesday morning.

Linda checked me when I got there and I was at 2 cm, but my contractions were progressing a bit and since we have the drive from Greenville, we decided to stick around for a bit and see what happened. After lunch and a nice long stroll around Westgate Mall and a delicious meal of Chick-Fil-A, we decided to head home and wait it out there for a while. Throughout the afternoon my contractions got stronger and I started needing some help getting through them. Darion and my sister, Kim provided good entertainment and distraction while we waited and were great support in timing contractions and helping me get through them as they grew stronger. We decided to make our way back to the birth center around 5:00 – we probably could’ve waited, but I was pretty uncomfortable and Darion was a little worried about I-85 traffic and the potential of getting stuck and delivering a baby on the side of the interstate. By the time we got back to the birth center I was at only 4 cm, so yeah, we totally could’ve waited at home.

Back at the birth center is where the fun really began. The going was SLOW to say the least. My contractions were fairly regular and seemed to be increasing in intensity, so I felt like we were making pretty good progress. I spent most of the night on my feet – walking, swaying, rolling my hips around – just trying to keep things moving along. I honestly have no idea how on earth I would have made it through labor if I was forced to be on my back the whole time. My contractions were about 2o times worse when I was lying down and I avoided it at all costs.

Contractions were getting stronger, and with that came some nasty back labor. Really, back labor was the worst part of the whole experience, I think. Around 10, Linda suggested I get in the tub for a little rest and pain relief. HEAVEN!! I lounged about in the big tub for a good little while, resting between contractions and enjoying a little break from gravity. But then it was up and back to work.

Heaven is a jetted bath tub.

By this time (maybe 11, midnight?) I had only made it to 6 cm, but my contractions were pretty strong and the back labor was kicking. Darion and Kim got a good workout applying counter pressure to my hips throughout the night. The rolling-pin and tennis balls we brought were definitely put to good use. Since things were moving slowly and the baby wasn’t engaged and my water hadn’t broken, I tried some different positions – on the birth ball, squatting a bit, moving my hips around, lunging – pretty much anything I could remember from birth class that might help scooch the little squirt down. After a couple of hours more of this we found that I was still hanging out at 6 cm.

Oh so much more cozy than a hospital bed.

By this point, we were all getting a little tired. Linda told me to do rotations for a while to try to get the baby in a better position – she had a feeling that there was some hang up that was stalling the labor. If you don’t know what a rotation is, well, it’s kind of like hell. You basically rotate like a rotisserie chicken, doing two contractions on your back, two on your left side, two on hands and knees and two on your right side. I mentioned before that for me, lying down through a contraction was the worst. Lying on my back waiting for the next contraction to come was misery. I think anticipating it was almost as bad as going through it. If I had to spend the whole labor on my back, I’m sure I would’ve been begging for an epidural.

Once the rotation was done, I was back up on my feet again. Darion and Kim were pretty fatigued and by early morning were taking turns with contraction duty. One would take a couple of contractions while the other caught a quick cat nap. Did I mention how much I appreciate their help? I’m so thankful that Kim decided to make the drive from ATL – I really needed an extra support person, and I know Darion was glad to have the help.

The hours ticked by with still no progress, so I hopped back in the tub for a little more pain relief and more rotations. During my pregnancy I had read several birth stories where the women said they slept between contractions. This seemed crazy to me. Until I found myself awake for over 24 hours doing contraction rotations in a big, jetted bathtub. It wasn’t much sleep, but it helped a little, as I was bone tired by that point.

Once out of the tub again we found that I was still at 6 cm, and as a last-ditch effort to move things along, Linda wanted strip my membranes to see if that would help. My membranes must have been pretty tough and attached and she didn’t have much luck. By around 6 a.m. she sat us down and suggested that we think about going to the hospital. This was something I hadn’t really prepared for. I knew it was possible, but I had such a wonderful pregnancy and I was just sure that I was going to have an uncomplicated labor. I mean, I have excellent birthing hips. How could they let me down like this?! Traitors.

Linda knew that I was exhausted and we just didn’t know how much longer I would have to labor before I’d be ready to push. She explained that by going to the hospital, they could break my water which may speed things up, but to be prepared that they may want to give me Pitocin and that Cesarean was a possibility. My heart sunk. We had put so much time and energy into preparing for a natural birth, free of interventions to minimize the chances of C-section and here I was, after laboring over 24 hours looking at a hospital trip and potential C-section. This was the lowest point of the whole experience, and I think the only time I cried. But we decided that was what was best for me and for the baby, so we gathered our stuff, hopped in the car and headed to Spartanburg Regional around 8 a.m. (Note: car contractions are NOT fun.)

Now, I had not mentally prepared myself for the hospital, which is a totally different experience than the birth center. Fortunately, Linda has a great relationship with the hospital and knew that the doctor on the floor would cooperate with her and she was able to stay with me in the hospital room. We got to the room and they equipped me with a hep-lock and a fetal monitor that was a pain to try to keep on. The nurse was nice enough, the doctor was kind of an ass, but mostly stayed out of the way, and then there was a young resident who got to experience an interesting birth.

Once I was all hooked up and we were settled, they started offering the epidural. At that point, I was so tired and I just didn’t know how much longer this thing would play out. I was worried they would give me Pitocin and I’d have crazy strong contractions and I wasn’t sure I was prepared to handle that. This is where my support team became vital. Darion suggested that I just wait and let them break my water and then see what happens. This advice, coupled with the fear of an anesthesiologist bill (our insurance kind of sucks) kept me hanging on.

To be honest, there was one more thing that kept me hanging on. Smart Ass Doctor kept popping in and making comments about taking the drugs. At one point, I was telling Darion, Linda and Kim that I was feeling a lot of pressure, to which Smart Ass Doctor responded “You’re trying to push a watermelon out of something the size of a grape. What do you expect?” He pushed me right over into obstinance and I wanted to do it just to spite him.

Fortunately, once my water was broken things started to speed up and dilation progressed. I moved around as much as I could on the bed to avoid being on my back. The most I could do while keeping the monitor on was get on my knees, leaning against the top of the bed. When it was time to push, I was able to be on my side, for which I was very thankful. The side position allowed Linda, Darion and Kim to continue counter-pressure on my hips and back, which I desperately needed. At one point they were pushing so hard that I heard Linda say she was afraid I’d be all bruised the next day.

Things were starting to get pretty intense, but I was so relieved to be able to push and to know that we were getting close. I did get a little burst of energy, but the hormones and tiredness make that part a little of a blur. I remember opening my eyes and suddenly there were about 15 people standing there staring at my crotch. (Why so many people are needed, I have no idea. But I think this explains why healthcare costs are so stinking high.) I remember pushing. I remember asking Kim not to talk when she was trying to encourage me because the pitch of her voice was distracting. I remember Linda coaching me through the contractions and pushes. I remember hearing the Resident say that she thought I was going to kick her off of the edge of the bed (well, she wasn’t doing anything else at the time and I needed something to push against when I pushed). I remember Darion holding my hand and encouraging me. I remember being told that they could see the head and that I was almost there. And then a couple of pushes later, at 11:46 a.m. on August 10, little Ezra came screaming into the world. I was so happy and so relieved and so thankful that we made it through, that everyone was healthy, and that I got to have the drug-free, natural birth that I had worked so hard for (with no tearing – woohoo!!).

Finally he's here!

While it didn’t go completely to our plan, I am thankful and I am happy with the experience. I am glad that we went the route that we did, and if we choose to have another child I would want to use a midwife and birth center again. Having experienced both midwife and the hospital, there’s really no question. The preparation and care I received under the care of my midwife during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum were so personal and so special, the hospital experience just cannot compare.

We like to jump!

8 Jan

Baby E is LOVING his jumparoo. So I decided to have some fun with iMovie. Enjoy! 🙂

Ezra’s Bedtime Story

24 Dec

Baby E has a pretty regular bedtime routine that we follow every night: bath (if it’s bath night), put on our jammies, play alone in the crib for a few minutes, read Brown Bear, bottle, then nurse to sleep.

Now since we’ve reached 4 months, nursing has become much more….lively. Or dangerous. Depends which side you’re on. Baby E likes to grunt loudly, kick and flail his arms, slap me about the face, rip my lip off, dig his baby fingernails into my neck skin, and if he’s feeling really spunky, try to scratch mommy’s cornea out. Fortunately, his night time feedings are a little more subdued, due in part to him being partially swaddled.

However, the night before last, Baby E gave me an extra special treat. All through his bedtime nursing he kept unlatching and whipping his head around to look at me. My first thought? Great – this kid is wired and is gonna be up all night.

But then he started talking to me. Not in his usual, loud, boisterous daytime talk, but in soft, sweet, breathy little coos – like he was telling me a secret or my own little private bedtime story. For about ten minutes, I got to sit there, holding his hand while he gazed into my eyes by the glow of the nightlight. Eventually, his eyes became heavy, his coos became softer, and he fell asleep while telling me his little bedtime story.

He slept there on my lap for a few minutes, then woke and was a bit restless. I moved him from my lap to my shoulder where he nuzzled in and drifted right back to sleep. He so seldom stays up on my shoulder anymore, and I had forgotten how wonderful it feels to have him warm against my chest, to feel him breathing softly, to smell the back of his neck, to stroke my cheek against the silky hair on the top of his head.

A bedtime so sweet makes the occasionally scratched cornea seem like a small price to pay.

Merry Christmas to Me!

20 Dec

I got the best Christmas present I could imagine this year…BabyE’s first laugh. He’s turning into a happy, funny little human and I’m loving every second…

Decisions, Baby! Installment 2

12 Dec

Baby is the new black.

Babies can become rather inconvenient once they pop out into the world. Not that they’re not all cute and amazing, but they do make handling mundane tasks like going to the bathroom a major challenge.

I know some people have babies you can just plop in a bouncy seat and they can sit there all content and maybe even catch some z’s. Not so much for Baby E. At four months old, he’s just beginning to realize the fun of sitting on something besides me. So it was quite lucky that I had considered baby wearing before E was born.

If you’re not familiar with baby wearing, here are but some of the benefits. Once you dig in, you might find it a little cultish and a bit confusing. There are tons of carrier types and even more options within each style. If you’re simply thinking Baby Bjorn, you have no idea (serious BWs won’t touch that one – apparently it puts all of baby’s weight on his crotch and no one wants to be carried by their crotch).

I spent a ton of time researching carriers and reading reviews. I even visited a local baby wearing group where I could try on different styles and ask questions. Here’s what I learned:

  • Wraps. These are basically just long pieces of fabric that you can tie and wear in a million different ways.
    • Stretchy: Some wraps are stretchy like t-shirt fabric. These are good for newborns and small babies and are super snuggly and warm. The Moby is a popular knit wrap. These are generally great, but can be hot in warm climates.
    • Woven: For bigger babies, choose a woven wrap which will hold its shape and support baby weight better. You can tie these in a million ways and wear baby on front facing in or out, on your hip or back. These come in pretty prints and cooler materials like gauze. As a bonus, you can nurse in a wrap if you’ve got mad skillz like that.
    • Other: there are other wrap-like contraptions that aren’t quite wraps. I have a Baby K’tan that a dear friend gave me. She didn’t care for it, but I LOVE it. It’s cozy like a stretchy wrap, but it’s two loops of fabric joined by a fabric band. You can wear it like six different ways, and there’s no tying or having wrap tails dragging on the parking lot pavement. Watch the sizing, though.  I have an old one that’s a small, but they changed the fabric and the small now is way too tight for me. They said it will stretch, but I don’t know…Mom's-eye-view of Baby E in the K'tan. Quite cozy!
  • Slings.  These go over one shoulder and secure with a knot or a ring and work for little babies and bigger ones as well. Pros- quick and easy, pretty, and you can nurse in them. Cons- not completely hands-free, doesn’t distribute weight evenly and can hurt a little if you wear it for a long time.
  • Mei Tai. These are Asian-style carriers that are squares of fabric with straps at top and bottom. Not as good for newborns, awesome for ones with moderate head control and up. Pros- cute and comfortable, wear front, back, side. Holds the baby securely. Cons- takes a little practice to learn to tie it quickly, especially for a back carry. I have a Babyhawk and really like it. I’ve also tried on an Ellaroo and liked it, too.Babyhawk
  • Structured Carriers. These carriers have straps, snaps, buckles, and, well…structure. I have a Bjorn that The Hubs uses from time to time. I have heard from those who know that the Ergo is the schiz. If someone wants to buy one for me, I will gladly take it!

And that brings us to price, which is always a big factor in my world. Carriers are expensive, y’all! I found my Babyhawk on eBay  at about 50% of retail. Thebabywearer.com has a for-sale-or-trade section on their forum. You have to register to participate. I did, but found the forum a little intimidating. Lastly, I found paxbaby.com, where you can rent carriers to try them before you buy.  $9 for two weeks, and if you decide to buy, they deduct the rental fee from the sales price. Pretty good deal!

So there you have it – a crash course in baby wearing from a novice. If you’re new to the game and have any questions, shout at me in the comments. I’d love to help if I can!

BTW, all of this is strictly my opinion. I am in no way paid to promote anything I mentioned here.