Thursday, January 5, 2017

Finally Getting Our Ingrid Elisabeth

Our Ingrid Elisabeth Toler joined us on December 18 at 9:20 p.m., weighing in at 7 lbs. 12 oz. and measuring 22 inches long. 

Her name is a special one, deriving from her paternal grandmother and deceased maternal aunt. It is one that her parents knew long before they conceived the first time, and have tried to give it to both of her older siblings before they found out Gideon was a boy and Esther was—well, Esther. We are thrilled she is finally here!  Her birth story is recorded below.  [Warning: men, this may not be your best read...]

Like her older sister, Ingrid Elisabeth was born at home with midwives attending. I had a fairly long pre/early labor that lasted seven days (!), with a couple of false alarms. Do not feel sorry for me - it was all fairly mild but for those false alarms.  I think my pride was hurt for crying wolf more than anything else!  (You would have thought I knew what I was doing with it being my third...)  Every day was the same thing: really benign contractions beginning mid-morning and building up till bedtime when they would inexplicably stop.  I presume at this point our little Ingy just got tired and gave up the fight so she and I could both get a good night's sleep!

Finally, on day five I learned from my older sister that her body did the same thing with her younger children.  That helped me relax about everything, but I still was nervous about venturing too far from home, thinking that having done as much work as it had, my body could kick things into high gear at any moment and I wouldn't have a chance to birth the way I wanted.

However, next time (heaven willing), I'll know better.  My body just takes a lo-o-ong time to get labor going.  With the kids gone for the weekend, and having completed the last of the very last projects on my back-up to-do list, by Sunday morning on the 18th I had relaxed enough that little Ingy decided to make her appearance.  

Contractions started at 1:30 a.m., and were strong enough to sort of wake me up, but I was able to sleep in-between. They gently continued throughout the morning while I quasi-slept, then Lance and I watched funny DVDs and just relaxed, I took a bath, I played the piano and sang a bit, then the doula showed up around 4:00 p.m. and Lance got a break.  At that point I finally needed to hold someone's hand through each contraction, and did a few hypnobirthing exercises with the doula.  Around 5:00 p.m. the midwife showed up and began assembling the birth pool.  I paced the floor with Lance and sang Primary songs in-between contractions for a couple of hours till I felt the contractions were quite strong and I needed to get into the birth pool.  I did and labored hard for two hours with Lance providing physical comfort and breathing through the contractions with me and my mom on the phone verbally walking me through each one.  I was able to zone out, or down, at this point and finally get in a good hypnobirthing zone - something I've wanted for the previous two labors but was unable to achieve. Throughout, though I wasn't able to verbalize much, I felt really grateful that I had the exact amount of support I needed to labor at that advanced stage calmly and peacefully. 

At 9:25 p.m. or so, I had dilated to a 6-7, then had three fairly strong transition contractions. I had stood up when the last contraction came, and it was at once transition, crowning, and there was a baby all within a few seconds.  It caught all of us by surprise, and the midwife didn't realize what was happening until she heard me panting (the kind of breathing one is suppose to do to prevent tearing) - I was so deep into hypnobirthing, that I didn't utter the normal laboring mother cry to which she had become accustomed - and had to run and dive to catch the baby!  I sort of caught the baby, too, with one hand, the other still holding the phone with my mom on it so it didn't fall into the water!  Ingrid came out, like Esther, in the sack, my water having never broken.

We were lucky I had stood up before that last contraction, as the umbilical cord was extremely short.  Had I not, the midwives could have snapped the cord pulling her out of the water or I would have had to stand up, delaying her exit from the water (all fine considering she was passing from water to water). 

In all, despite its very slow beginning, it was about as perfect a labor as I could have hoped for.  I was able to alternate between active laboring tactics and hypnobirthing, and was able to go deeply into hypnobirthing when it really mattered.  I was so very grateful for the support I had - husband, mom, midwife (plus a lovely student), and doula, especially Lance and my mom.  They knew exactly what I needed.  That and our sweet baby, who politely allowed me to labor throughout the day rather than night and then slept all night so I could recover!   

These two are so cute with their baby sister. They want to hold her or interact first thing on waking or coming home. Their exuberance far outweighs their need for extra attention. I'm much relieved!

And because you can never have too many pictures of your newborn...

Two days old.

Christmas Day

Getting the jaundice out with sun baths.

Small Wonders:
- "My conversation is driving me crazy.  Logan and Truman are like, 'What are you doing?' and I was like 'You are driving me crazy!'
-  When I told G to stop annoying Esther, he plaintively asked, "Can I annoy you?"
-  Me: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good..." [pause waiting to see if G had paid attention to the children's version of A Christmas Carol] G: "future!"
- G started Primary at church with the big kids.  I asked him how it was and what songs he learned, and he said "I don't want to talk about it."
- "I'm doing the pooping dance." Then danced his way to the potty.
* Esther-isms
- "I like your outfit"
- "That's scary"

We had a full (mini) cast! for the Christmas Eve Luke 2 reading...

Don't know how Santa fit her down the chimney without waking her...

Grateful E has her own baby doll.  She'll often mimic doing whatever I am with her dolly. 

While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baby is Here & Reflections on the Christmas Story

Be near me Lord Jesus 
I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

This last week was a bit of a long baby waiting game, as I went into pre/early labor on Sunday the 11th and finally had our little Christmas babe on Sunday, December 18th (birth story and proper announcement to follow).

As I waited for baby, learning that this type of pre-labor business was perfectly normal for successive and especially mature maternal age bodies in my family and elsewhere, I had several opportunities to reflect anew on the Christmas story.

One experience stood out.  My midwife told me that she had never seen active labor kick in while the children were around. So I followed her recommendation that someone take the kids once mild contractions started in earnest (again!) last Tuesday night.

As I waited for their ride, my children freshly bathed and in their jammies, I read a simplified version of the Christmas story to them.  Not only did the above verse of song bring me to tears (Gideon responding by saying, "please wait so I can wipe your tears," jumping up to grab toilet paper and making me close my eyes so he could wipe them), vulnerable as I was and needing the Lord's closeness, but the story reached me in ways I hadn't considered in a while.

First of all, this was a story of a courageous young woman. Birth finds women at their most vulnerable, and labor requires the companionship of those whom you can trust to be your advocate emotionally, mentally, and physically. You pass through a phase where you are completely reliant on others for all of your needs - even to think for you and to know and anticipate your needs as they perceive them.

Historically, birth has been the province of women, including in ancient Israel, dating back to Genesis.  Midwives were present at most births, as were mothers and others who had experienced the miracle of birth themselves. Mary, young though she must have been, underwent the journey to Bethlehem with Joseph knowing she would give birth in an unfamiliar place (evidenced by her bringing swaddling clothes), likely with an unfamiliar midwife and without the aid of her mother or other women she knew and could trust at her most vulnerable time.

As I read the cartoonized version of Luke 2 + Matthew 1-2, I wondered why Mary made this choice.  She could presumably have stayed in Nazareth and awaited Joseph's return from fulfilling his tax duty.  Was it that Joseph alone of her Nazarene kin knew of the divine nature of Mary's conception? Was Mary shunned by her mother and other women of the village for what must have appeared a very unholy pregnancy?

Mary had chosen to be away from family at another vulnerable time - during the early, usually morning-sick days of her pregnancy before Joseph's angelic visitation and realization of Mary's true condition. Mary had learned from the angel Gabriel about her cousin Elizabeth's miraculous pregnancy and chose to take her secret there. Mary's choice to leave home was rewarded with further miraculous events, a quickening in Elizabeth's womb, prophecy spoken by both women, and the resultant comfort of being with someone who is in on your heavenly secret.

Perhaps based on this experience of going it alone with miraculous results before, Mary chose to labor in an unfamiliar place and (presumably) with an unfamiliar midwife, but with the person she found most trustworthy at her most vulnerable time - her "espoused" though unconsummated husband.

Reliant on the mercies of strangers and a man who presumably had never witnessed childbirth before,  Mary underwent the ordeal of labor for the first time. As with most first labors, it was likely long and difficult. Who knows how the smell of animals and the need for cleanliness impacted her.  Surely she was not spared the human experience because of her immortal child. Both she and he had to pass through all that mortality offers - to descend below them all - to bring about the miracle of Christ's life into the world.

Not only was Mary courageous, she was wise. I was again impressed as I later pondered the Christmas story from scriptures that, though young, she had the foresight and discretion to consider all of the miraculous circumstances heralding the birth and not to proclaim them, though this was likely tempting to write home about and overcome the hometown taint of an illegitimate pregnancy, but to ponder them in her heart.  She needed no validation but that of the divine and her constant Joseph.

As our baby waited for the perfect time to come and I had more time to ponder the first nativity, other things stood out to me. Chief was that the two Biblical accounts of the birth are distinctly different.  The information in Matthew and that of Luke are mutually exclusive.  One focuses on Joseph's perspective, the other, Mary.  One features wise men and power machinations, the other the humblest shepherds, mangers, and a visit to the temple.  One focuses on the prophecies of and revelation to women (and a bit of Zacharias before his martyrdom and Simeon in the temple), the other the prophecies and revelations of men, chiefly Joseph, but also to the wise men. We fit these two very different and contradictory stories together in our creches as if seamlessly part of one whole, but they were quite different. The implications for other conflicting historical accounts (the first vision of the Latter-day prophet Joseph Smith) were many.

I'm grateful - so grateful - baby is here now, and that a new phase of life has begun.  But I'm also grateful for the chance this last week's worth of waiting has given me to ponder anew the Christmas story, sharing as I did the distinguishing characteristic of one of its main characters.

What are your new or newly re-discovered reflections on the Christmas story this year?  Would love to hear!

Greeting baby Ingrid Elisabeth for the first time.

As far as I'm concerned, she's perfect!

Aunt Tammy was a champ to take on childcare during labor and before - her care I'm sure helped me relax enough to go into hard labor!

First night in the trug - she slept nine hours!

Daddy again braved the birth pool with me, and I was so very grateful.

Last bump pics.

Small Wonders
* The children's reactions to the new baby have been priceless: 

Gideon: [Aunt Tammy] "Want to go meet your new baby sister?" [Gideon] "No, I'm busy." [Tammy] "What are you busy with?" "Sleeping, dreaming, and playing." 
- [Daddy] "What will you say to baby Ingy?" [Gideon] "I will say thank you for coming out of mommy's tummy!" (he did!)
- "Will baby Ingy be happy to see us?" "I want to see her for four minutes and then we will go to a shop and play toys.  Does that sound like a good plan?"
- [After meeting her] "She's a little bit scary but she's happy to see us!"

Esther: [held her for five seconds, then eager to put her back in her bed so she could sleep, putting blankets on her (burp cloths)], called her "baby Ingy" and said "Sleep baby!"

* when I asked Gideon not to annoy Esther, he asked instead if he could annoy me.
* Gideon: "My conversation is driving me crazy.  [Cousins] Logan and Truman are like, 'what are you doing' and I was like 'you are driving me crazy!'" [Where he got the teen 90's speak, I don't know!]   

My last nesting project - Sharpied the piping blue on this prison-reupholstered chair (I had them use the fabric from the piano bench instead, and it was just too busy). Seven hours later... 

Arranging and re-arranging the pieces of the nativity - best Christmas decoration we own!

Found an indoor baby gym!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

An Early Christmas Present To Myself: Kitchen Reveal

Farmhouse kitchen, colonial kitchen

It's the holiday season, and this blog should be full of Christmas goodness as I prepare to welcome a little Christmas babe into our family.  But before I could decorate for Christmas or start wrapping all of the presents I finished purchasing in October (ultimate deadlines are incredibly motivating!), I had to finish the early Christmas present I gave to myself this year: a kitchen renovation.

Nesting is a real thing for me, as witnessed yesterday when, as Lance had the kiddos for the day, I was afforded the luxury of being able to clean. You read that right, clean.  I normally hire this out, as I work during nap time, and that is the only daylight hours sans kids in which cleaning would be possible (and with this pregnancy, I'm just too tired at night and have to do what I can sitting down - usually folding laundry or online Amazon shopping for family needs).

Anyway, yesterday gave me the opportunity to finally finish kitchen renovations (OK, so there is an electrical strip that still doesn't work, and I just ordered a pot lid holder to mount on the wall).  BUT I was able to do two things yesterday that I've wanted to do since contractors finally exited in early November - clean the final bits of grout off the backsplash tiles, and oil the countertops one more time.  I did it while listening to Don Quixote (four more CDs to go out of 30!), and my nerdy, clean-freak self was kind of in heaven.  I also deep-cleaned the stove top, wiped down the stainless steal appliances, and scrubbed the outside of pots while I was at it.  Yes, nesting is real.  And it felt so, so good.

And now, my kitchen is done, and a Merry Christmas to me! Yes, maybe I'll finally pull up the floor someday (or get one of those lovely lacquered, traditional floor cloths custom-built), but it's now a very happy place.  I cook almost everything from scratch (exceptions include not making my own gluten free pasta, and I usually use canned beans), so having a kitchen in which I can happily serve my family is about the best present I could ever receive.

Thanks to the ingenuity, creativity, and expert know-how of dear friend Amy Mitchell of Home Glow Design, I was able to do it within the little budget I earned (all home renovations and furniture acquisitions have come from my earnings) from my consulting practice.  

I used paint to cover a multitude of sins, including most of the natural wood found in the kitchen: tall dividers in the traditional grey-green the keeping room and top cupboards were already painted in and painted the bottom cupboards white. As you can see, it brightened and freshened the small space considerably.

before pictures

The worst part about the kitchen was the burgundy formica countertops and backsplash, which were just hideous.  This was the expensive part of renovations (but at a budget of just under $6,000, the makeover was apparently priced at a DIY renovation rather than something one normally has a contractor do).  

I hated these tops so much I didn't take many close-ups, but above you can see their horrid color.  I did a lot of research on countertops, and finally landed on three different pieces - charcoal soapstone around the stove, which can combat oil splatters form the stove and allows me to set hot things from the oven and stove directly on the countertop, a rock maple chopping block above the dishwasher, and a live edge wood slab for the island.  I love all three, but especially the live edge wooden slab. Makes me happy every time I look at it.

My favorite part of the kitchen, however, has to be my new backsplash.  I got these cement tiles from  Cuban Tropical Tiles, a tip from Amy of Home Glow.  I obviously love color, and was considering (and even ordered) Mexican or Mediterranean tiles, but Amy wisely help me identify something still colorful but a bit more in keeping with our eighteenth century home - something I tried to bear in mind when choosing countertops and other aspects.  

I didn't know about cement tiles before Amy pointed them out.  I absolutely love them, and they look a bit vintage while still being fresh and interesting.  However, had I to do this renovation over again, I would have treated these porous tiles before installation (thus the post-grout problem). But you live and learn, and thankfully baby #3 didn't arrive yesterday so I could finally clean them! 

Call me a vintage snob, but it makes me happy using this basket for our on-the-go food.  It also works well in the car to keep things organized.
I kept several aspects of the kitchen in tact - the vintage stainless steal sink rather than a farmhouse sink - which would have made the renovations possibly twice as expensive (as there was nothing that would have fit, requiring us to change the lower cupboards and install more countertops, the most expensive part of the renovations), the floors that didn't bother me as much, the cupboards, and our appliances.  In my dreams I would get a traditional German range oven, but am super happy I have a gas stove and electrical (read evenly-cooking) oven. And I kept those beams of course, which I love.

In all, thanks to a little elbow grease, wonderful contractors, and Amy at Homeglow, I am over the moon about this new happy place in our little home, and believe it will serve our family for the decades more we intend to live in this spot. 

With all of my pops of color, I've kept the palette as neutral as possible, including with these large kitchen items.  The stool I found at Savers for $5 and painted.

I grew up with a dinner bell, and use one now!  It's a farmhouse after all, right?

Small Wonders
* E has started requesting that I make up songs at night - she will often want me to sing about a "Cookie," a "Kitty cat," a "truck" or some other fixation.  Sometimes she will revert to songs I actually know "Sunshine" (you are my sunshine), but generally, it takes a lot of creativity to satiate her.
* E, newly almost-always happy thanks to her new anti-yeast regime, has taken to singing almost anytime of day, and especially when putting herself to bed.  I love it.
* G is into using big words in inappropriate places - "Seriously" and "appropriate" are often used in seriously inappropriate ways, along with a host of other big words he doesn't quite understand the meaning of.  I don't have the heart to correct him.
* We looked at a potential investment property on Friday, and somehow G started calling our realtor "old lady," which we quickly corrected.  She had white hair but was probably in her late 50s.  We were mortified, as was she, but had to chuckle afterwards.
* Our first snowfall of the year has G loving sledding, Esther learning how to put on her own mittens, and Esther calling it "pretty snow." I agree!