I find that lately, I miss Silas more, rather than less, while I'm away at work. I think it's because he's becoming such a little boy now. He has so much personality and is developing so fast. I'm sure I miss a lot when I'm away, though I always get the lowdown on Si's day when I get home.
So if any of you want to hire someone with a Library Science degree to work online from home, and you just happen to be willing to pay enough to support a modest family of 3 and provide health insurance, I'm your woman!
My birthday falling just 5 days after the kiddo's means that it is just a tad bit overshadowed. That's okay. Seriously. I did go out to breakfast with my boys before going to work and they threw me a great birthday lunch at work, too. I left the office early so that we could take Silas to his 12 month doctor's appointment. So, here's the lowdown. Silas weighed in at just about 23 pounds. He is now in the mid 50s in terms of the growth chart (hight, weight, and head circumference compared to other 12 month-old boys). The doctor mentioned that he isn't putting on as much weight now that he's crawling around all the time. She also warned us that his eating may slow down in a few months as it is common for toddlers to get more choosy around 14 or 15 months. Hmmm. We will wait with baited breath for that. So, anyways, size-wise, he is very average and the doctor is happy with his size and overall health.
We thought that now that he has his 8 incisors, we might have a break from teething for a while. However, recently, Silas has been trying to bit us. A lot. For instance, he will crawl up to me while I'm sitting on the floor and crawl into my arms all smiles, then suction his little mouth onto my cheek and bit down with all of his might. Owwww. This is a daily occurrence. So with that, we really didn't need a professional to tell us that he's still teething, but apparently, I felt compelled to ask anyways, and yes, duh, he still is. Vaccinations. We've been getting them for Silas, but have never felt at ease about it. There's an overwhelming amount of contrary information on vaccinations out there. I'm really not going to go into the arguement on whether or not vaccinations cause autism here (you all know how to use Google if you need more info). Our doctor was really great at not being judgemental regarding our fears or pushing anything on us. Mercury is no longer used in children's vaccinations, which makes us feel much better. We decided to hold off on the MMR vaccination till he's 15 months. I was happy with this decision, since he was already getting 3 other vaccinations today. So far, he's shown no side effects whatsoever. Also, I must note that the doctor observed Silas and immediately said there's no way he's autistic. We know that, but somehow it felt very reassuring to be told this. So, him hitting his head repeatedly with this hand (like he's saying "doh!" over and over again), and also frequently shaking his head back and forth and then laughing ---both normal. It was a good appointment, if only to reassure mom and dad that all is well with Little Bear.
St. Patrick's Day Disclaimer # 1: We are not actually Irish, Irish American, Irish Catholic, Irish Catholic American, etc. The luck o' the Irish is not with us, but Silas is still our lucky charm, and he looked so cute in the St. Patrick's Day onesie that Grandma G. sent to us. Grandma also sent us this great bib. That's where St. Patrick's Day Disclaimer #2 comes in: This is not Silas' 1st St. Patrick's Day. He was born on March 16th. So this was actually his 2nd St. Patty's Day: But, seeing as though he was only a day old for the holiday in '07, and seeing as though it never dawned on us that it was St. Patty's day due to the fact that we had a day old baby, maybe we'll just pretend that this year was his first. Yeah, that'll do.
And finally, St. Patrick's Day Disclaimer #3: No, Si didn't get that fat lip fightin' over green beer at the local pub (even though he looks like he's been hitting the pubs in this picture. I assure you, he hasn't. Washington State laws are very strict on keeping babies out of pubs). In fact, the fat lip is courtesy of a nosedive he took into our dresser on his birthday. I don't think it showed up on any of his birthday pics, as the wound blended in with the berry juice.
Silas had a great birthday! Here's how our day played out: In the morning, I gave him the stuffed dog I'd knit for him. Looks like he likes it! He hugged it and patted it lovingly. We went for a birthday breakfast with Patrick, then came back home to count down to Si's birth moment (11:04 am). Silas celebrated by falling asleep 5 minutes later.
In the afternoon, we had a little party. Everyone had chocolate nut cake. Everyone, that is, except Silas. Here he is enjoying his birthday treat: huckleberries, blueberries, and breakfast Os: And, some of the party-goers: William and Jessica took some footage of us singing Happy Birthday to Silas. Enjoy! Don't forget to watch the tribute we made for Silas and his first year on the planet, posted below.
Please note: If you haven't visited the blog in a few days, there is a part 1, posted just below this posting. Start there, and then head back up to this one!
Early on the morning of Thursday the 15th (around 3 am), I woke up with contractions about 10 minutes apart. I think I'd been having them since the previous evening, but they were finally strong enough that I could no longer sleep through them. I let Drew sleep for another hour, then woke him and announced that I was FINALLY in labor. I had been told that when labor begins, the best thing to do was to store up as much energy as possible and eat a high carb meal. I remember that we decided to watch the episode of Lost (of all things) that we'd taped the night before in order to distract ourselves during the early stages of labor. What a surreal experience that was for me. I could not quite focus. I also ate two bowls of granola. Little did I know that that would be the last meal I'd eat for a day and a half. After finishing Lost, I think we tried to start watching a movie, but I couldn't deal with it. That was the end of the distraction phase. Around this time, we also made two phone calls. The first was to Anna, the midwife's assistant. We let her know I was in labor and she told us to call her back when things progressed. The next call was to Patty, one of our fabulous, extraordinary doulas.
--Side note 1: I cannot stress how important it is to have a doula, especially if you are a first-time parent. They completely take care of you, support you, and are a wonderful resource for the dads or birth partners. We were fortunate enough to have not 1 but 2 awesome doulas. Louisa was our first doula, but I was so overdue, the week I went into labor coincided with the week Louisa was in Seattle for Midwifery school. Patty was called in to take her place.
Back to the story: We called Patty. Doulas come to be with laboring moms whenever the moms want them (midwifes don't have to be there till things progress further, usually). So, Patty came fairly early in the morning and hung out with us, massaging my feet, walking me around, etc. The labor did progress, slowly, and as afternoon hit, Peggy, the midwife, and her assistant Anna showed up.
Things start to get blurry here, so I will give a list of impressions I have from that time: I was put in every position you can imagine. We even did lunges and climbed the stairs. We also utilized every room in the house--living room, bedroom, bathroom. The birthing tub was wonderful for pain relief, but it slowed the contractions down. In the evening, Peggy and Anna ordered Thai food for their dinner. Around that time (I think) Louisa showed up! She was back from classes in Seattle and was kind enough to come and spend the entire night with us, leaving only when she had to catch the ferry back to Seattle again. The baby's heartbeat was monitored after every contraction. Although I never said anything, once or twice I thought it was truly annoying to have the Doppler shoved onto my belly constantly. This was, of course, irrational, but I was in pain, and any added disturbance was most unwelcome. I was put on oxygen at one point. This was the scariest moment for me because I didn't really know why I needed it. They removed the oxygen after a contraction and then took the baby's heartbeat. Peggy smiled. Apparently, his heartbeat had dropped but now it was back up. That's the only time this happened. People were constantly sticking a straw in my face getting me to intake electrolyte-laden fluids. At one point, Peggy wanted me to go on an IV unless I could get more fluids into me (I'd been violently sick several times). I didn't want to go on an IV, so I forced myself to drink as much as they wanted me to in between the next several contractions. Some of the stuff I was drinking made me feel sick, and I remember insisting to Drew and the doulas and anyone who would listen that I needed to have my puke bucket with me no matter where I went. I was obsessed with having that thing right next to me. As things got intense, every time I had a contraction, I made low guttural sounds, and the birth team joined in with me. This is one of the things Drew remarked upon later--that he felt strange being a man among this primal force of females howling out the baby. I got stuck at 9 centimeters dilated when my cervix inflamed. Ouch. I was given homeopathic pills every 15 minutes, and they let Drew and I lie down in bed for a while. The idea was for me to relax as much as possible, slow the contractions down and allow the swelling to subside. This worked eventually, but in the interim, let me just say, that laying down is the WORST position to be in during labor.
Meanwhile, there was, how shall I say this, a situation brewing. Peggy had gotten a phone call from another client who was also in labor. I was 2 weeks late. This woman was almost 3 weeks early. So even though our due dates were 5 weeks apart, we both went into labor the same day. Peggy uses a back-up midwife in these sort of situations, but the back-up was already attending a birth. Yikes! Peggy was on the phone a lot at this stage, trying to work things out. She attempted to keep this stressful situation from us as much as possible, but even in labor, I got the gist (though the fine details were told to me after the fact). Another midwife was finally called in. Lucky woman, she gave birth at her home, just an hour or two after the step-in midwife arrived. Peggy could have gone to her home, birthed her baby and still been back at my house hours before my baby arrived. I don't remember how long I was pushing (not exactly watching the clock, you know?), but I began when it was still dark out. Likewise, I don't know when my water actually broke. I never actually felt it happen. Apparently, I was in the birthing tub as we noticed the water became much murkier. Ah, yes. The "murk" would be from our good friend, meconium. You'll be hearing more about that in just a moment
Night passed into morning. Let's pick up the story again at about 9 am. I've been in labor for over 30 hours. I'm squatting on a yoga mat. Drew is seated behind me. Peggy and the rest of our birth team (minus Louisa who had to depart for the ferry) are crouched around me. We hear Peggy say to Anna "That's a lot of meconium." Now, I know in my preparatory reading, I'd seen that word before, but in the moment, with nothing but the next contraction in mind, the word meconium could have been the word cello or the word daffodils. It meant nothing to me, but the next words did hit home: "my policy when there's this much meconium is to transfer."
--Sidenote 2: "Transfer" means "travel 20 miles to the nearest hospital." Meconium is a normal occurrence, but a lot of it can signify increased risk of Meconium Aspiration. This means that the baby breaths in meconium during or right after birth. It can cause problems, including death. I learned later that Peggy had attended a birth in which a baby died from this: Hence her policy.
I hear the word "transfer" and I know what it means and I know I don't want to go to the hospital. I want the baby out NOW. He's so close. I can reach in and feel his head. But according to Peggy, we have time to make it to the hospital. I've trusted Peggy with the birth of our baby, so I trust her decision now. This was perhaps harder on Drew, who wasn't experiencing the primordial-laboring-woman-zone that I was. He was really upset that we had to go to the hospital, and that something might go wrong with the birth.
It was decided that I would ride with Peggy and Anna. Drew would go separately with Patty. Have you ever ridden a half hour in the backseat of a Corolla in the pushing stage of labor? I don't recommend it. This was not the best half hour of my life. I was apparently supposed to try to not push. Uh-huh. My body was a bit on autopilot. One thing I recall was that Anna fixed my hair, which must have been a complete nest, in order to make me less of a mess once we got to the hospital. I recall Peggy coaching me, saying that I'd have to give it my all once we were there. Meanwhile, the ride was good for Drew, who benefited from a half hour with the calm and patient Patty, rather than with my constant screams. We all arrived at Harrison Hospital. I didn't know what to expect when we pulled up at the emergency entrance. The doctor I'd encountered here just two days previously was such a prick. Would we be treated that badly by the doctors and nurses today? Worse yet, would THAT doctor be on call and deliver the baby?
I am so glad I had Peggy, Anna, Patty, and Drew with me. Sure, we were in a hospital now, but actually, it felt as though we'd just transfered our energy from one location to another. We kept doing everything we'd been doing at home and the nurse helping out was very obliging. About an hour after we arrived, a doctor (NOT the bad one) showed up and caught the baby, who was born at 11:04 am.
Silas was so alert, so healthy. No meconium aspiration, after all. He could have been born at home, and though it didn't matter at the time, looking back, I wish his first breath had been in our living room rather than a hospital room. At the same time, we made a good decision and erred on the side of caution, and I'm okay with that too. Since we labored at home for so long, and since our homebirth energy transfered to the hospital, in a way, I still feel like we had Silas at home.
Silas was placed on my chest and he was so beautiful, so surprising. I didn't think he'd be such a pink color as I had the impression that all newborns were rather purple. His skin was the same tone as mine. I was surprised that he was blond (I thought he'd have brown hair like his dad). I was also surprised at how ravenously hungry I was. I had just birthed a baby after 32 hours of labor with no pain meds and hadn't eaten in over a day, so why would this surprise me? Drew fed me pasta premavera while I held our son. I was tired, but euphoric, and so happy to have our lovely boy, at last. That meal was the best!
That's where I'll leave things. It's really the beginning of the story, rather than the end. But for rest, you'll just have to read the blog!
With Si's birthday just days away, I've decided to dust the cobwebs out of my head and retell his birth story. I've not written anything down regarding this in the past year, so I'm just pulling it out of my head. It should be easier than pulling a baby out of you-know-where. But still, there are bound to be things I've forgotten or events I remember differently than how they actually occurred. Bare with me.
Today, I'm focusing on the 2 weeks prior to labor and I'm pretty solid about these facts. In a few days I'll be back with the story of his actual labor and birth.
When you agree to have a midwife attended birth, particularly a home birth, you agree to a drastically different birth philosophy than that of most doctor attended hospital births. This post isn't the forum to elaborate on all of the differences, but it will end up highlighting several, the first of which is that midwifes do not get all hyper nervous when you go more than seven days beyond your due date. After all, a due date is not an expiration date. Some women have a longer gestational period, and first time moms are often overdue. That's just the way it is.
But I digress. My last day of work was February 23rd. March 1st was my due date and all of our ducks were in a row. The baby's clothes were all washed and organized. We had practiced setting up the birthing tub and knew how to do it. We were as ready as we could be. As the days passed, I did all that I could to try to go into labor. Most notably, I began a daily regiment of hiking up the steep hill into the trail head of the Grand Forest. Drew often joined me, partly in case my water broke or a strong contraction overtook me while in the forest. I should be so lucky! At the most, these walks got a few contractions started, but they subsided soon after I got home and began relaxing again. Still, the walks were good for my body and gave me a mental boost as well. I particularly needed this boost towards the end, when I became more discouraged, impatient, and desperate to get that baby birthed.
This whole time, I was being closely monitored by my midwife, Peggy, who reported that the baby was doing very well--strong heartbeat, no signs of stress of any kind, plenty of amniotic fluid to keep the little guy healthy. But Peggy also wanted me to go in to the hospital for some routine tests. These tests would be proof to the medical establishment that we were doing everything we could to ensure the wellbeing of myself and the baby. Of course, we were already doing that, but the tests would be the sort of proof-on-paper assurance the docs just can't get enough of. So, fine. On a Monday, 1 week and 5 day after my due date, I went in for an ultrasound that would determine the amniotic fluid index. The baby and I passed with flying colors.
When I still hadn't given birth by Wednesday--nearly two weeks beyond my due date, Peggy suggested I go in for a Non-Stress test. This measures the baby's heartbeat for 20 minutes or so. Again, we had already done this with the baby Doppler in Peggy's office, so going in for the Non-stress test was just to appease anyone in the medical community who might question our judgment at letting me go 2 weeks (gasp) passed my due date. Just as in Peggy's office, Silas passed the non-stress test easy-breezy. In fact, the nurse (who was fabulous, by the way) only had me hooked up for 10 minutes before announcing that I'd passed. If only it could have ended there. Instead, apparently, these results had to be shared with the doctor on-call, and boy, did he not like it when he heard my due date was half a month previous. He ordered me to take another amniotic fluid test. --We should have declined. We should have walked out right then. But we were nervous first-time parents, plus I'd just passed the fluid test 2 days ago. What harm could having another ultrasound do? Ohhhh.
A different tech did the ultrasound this time and she TOTALLY rushed it. She finished in just a few minutes, whereas it took the tech that Monday nearly 10 minutes! The Monday tech took her time and looked for the spots with deep pockets of fluid. The Wednesday tech did the exact opposite. She announced that there were depleted levels of amniotic fluid and the doctor went ballistic. He wanted to meet with me, but had a patient to see, so we were ushered back to Labor and Delivery and put back on the monitor (totally unnecessary). Meanwhile, Drew and I were getting agitated. I called Peggy and told her what was happening. She said there was no way my amniotic fluid levels had decreased that much in two day. She said that I had to talk to the doctor and be firm. She also told me to expect for him to try to intimidate me. I should be prepared for this. Okay. I hung up with her and Drew told the nurse we weren't going to wait to see the doctor. We had to get going. The nurse called the doctor, and the doctor insisted on talking to me over the phone. Wow, was Peggy right! He told me that if I was his patient, he'd keep me there and induce me (if I consented, of course--he said that as though it was a shame I would have to give my consent). He said that the baby may be fine now, but if I came back in two days, he might be dead. I repeat. If I waited two more days, my baby might go from being perfectly healthy to being dead. That. Did. It. I try not to swear too much in this blog, but what a crock of shit! I thanked him for his advice and then told him we'd consult with the midwife. We got out of there as fast as we could.
I remember crying on the way home. I was already in such an emotional state, and the doctor had really upset me. I wanted what any soon-to-be mom wanted--a healthy baby. I knew the doctor was not seeing the whole picture. After all, he never even saw me! If he'd spent two minutes feeling my belly rather than ordering a test, he'd have known that there was plenty of amniotic fluid remaining. But his negative tone had an effect on me. I wanted this to be over. I wanted my baby. I had tried herbs, hikes, and many other things to get labor going, but there was one unexplored option remaining: caster oil. This was guaranteed to start things moving, but not just the uterus. --Most unpleasant side affects. Peggy came to our house that afternoon to lift my spirits and reaffirm the fact that I had plenty of amniotic fluid remaining, test be damned. While she was there, I pitched the caster oil idea. She could see that the doctor had done his damage and that I was becoming desperate. I didn't want to have to go in to a hospital and be induced. I was really really determined to avoid this, but I didn't know how long I could wait for labor to begin on it's own. Castor oil, as undesirable as it was, seemed like a better alternative to artificial induction in a hospital setting, as I really wanted my midwife attended home birth. So, we decided that the next morning, Thursday the 15th, I'd take the dreaded caster oil and then see how things went.
Finally, we had a plan. Perhaps that's what did it--perhaps having a course of action was what I needed to relax enough to let things proceed on their own, perhaps it was just coincidence. Either way, I woke in the middle of the night in the beginning stage of labor--no caster oil needed...
Stay tuned for the concluding chapter of Si's Birth Story: 32 Hours, to be posted in a few days, probably.
We went over to Patrick and Shannon's house for breakfast this morning. They were all set up and ready for Silas! Shannon tells me that the wooden implement Si is holding is a Scottish porridge spurtle. You learn something new every day. Silas really likes it.
Oh, and check out the new duds that Grandma G. sent us, along with some birthday gifts for him. Thanks Grandma! Doesn't he look like the bee's knees!
We estimate that we've washed about 330 loads of diapers in the past year and used between 25 and 30 gallons of vinegar. Phew! That's a lot of laundry to keep our son in clean nappies! And while we're on the subject of laundry, yesterday Silas tried to wash one of my skeins of yarn. He opened the door, placed the yarn inside, closed the door, then stood up and turned the dials on the washer. Thankfully, he really can't push the buttons hard enough to actually turn it on. I carefully explained to him that while some yarns are indeed machine washable, I would recommend washing this particular skein of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino by hand, just to be safe.
So, the question that comes to mind now is this: which will come first for Silas? (a) the ability to do actual loads of laundry so that he can wash his own diapers, or (b) the completion of potty training so that we no longer have to wash diapers :)
What you see pictured here is a daily occurrence in our house. As long as he's not too rough with the cookbooks we really like, we don't discourage Silas from taking them down off the shelf, disbursing them across the floor, and paging through them to find the most scrumptious apple turnover recipe, or to glean other cooking hints. Since he can already turn the stove on, we figure, he should know how to bake us bread. He's gotta start earning his keep.
Seriously though, he loves books and cookbooks are no exception. Playing with them may actually buy us a coveted 5 or even, wait for it, 10 MINUTES to do some dishes, clean up a bit or even, gasp, make a cup of tea and enjoy it, without having to chase him and stop him from eating some unknown substance off the floor, or from crawling head first into a wall (yes it's happened). So , even though we SHOULD move the cookbooks up out of reach, we just haven't seemed to do it yet.
Other forms of baby-proofing around the house are now in full swing, however. I'll be talking more about that in the coming weeks. I leave you with this update today: We tried the dreaded avocado again for Si's dinner and this time, about face, he LOVED it. No gagging, no tears, no head shaking, no clenched jaw, and no pained looks. He just gobbled it down. Yessss!
Announcing Planet Silas' first ever book of the month! Since Si and his parents love books we decided to share one with you (along with some honorable mentions) each month. Enjoy!
And this month's books is... Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks ; pictures by Georg Hallensleben.
Silas LOVES this book. The vivid images capture his attention. He convulses with happiness when we show him the cover and will often laugh at the images of Little Tiger, who is resisting his mama's gentle attempts to get him to go to sleep. This is a beautiful story and Silas recommends that all of you parents out there read it to your young ones. You will be captivated too! This month's honorable mentions: Winnie the Pooh's Touch and Feel Adapted from A. A. Milne. Silas is really into textured books now, and that makes this book very engaging for him. And... 1, 2, 3 by UNICEF. A counting board book that introduces readers to numbers as well as works of art. Silas is particularly interested in the picture for #5. He loves those clouds!
This is what my belly looked like exactly one year ago:Silas' due date was 1 year ago today: March 1st, 2007. He would not enter the world till the 16th. The next few weeks would be the longest of my life (Drew's too).
This is the start of Si's birthday month and I've got a lot planned, both on the blog and in non-cyber "real" life. Be sure to stay tuned as we'll be recounting Silas' birth story, reminiscing about the past year, as well as celebrating his first birthday!
We've also introduced a new feature--the book of the month. You can see the image from this month's choice on the left. I'll post more about it later today.