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Hey everyone. This is Tina. It's my first (slow, dizzy :p) walk down to the computer room. Hence, my first glimpse of the internet since our transfer (aside from G printing some of my comments and bringing them to our room).

I'm blown away, you guys. The raffle, the grocery delivery,, all of it...all the prayers and thoughts and donations. It almost doesn't seem real. There's no way to say Thank You enough.

I wanted to fill in some gaps where we've only recently heard things, or where something got "lost in translation":

Nancy and the head of obstetrics here are both theorizing that what happened to Elise is that she somehow got in a position to compress her cord in utero, before labor had even begun. We don't know how severely or for how long this deprived her of oxygen, only that it did. The afternoon before I went into labor, she passed a non stress test with flying colors - everything still looked absolutely perfect in there. But sometime probably later that day, there was compression, which put her into distress enough that she passed a LARGE amount of meconium. And one of the things that oxygen deprivation does is initiate a gasp reflex that caused her to aspirate some of the mec into her lungs (normally that wouldn't happen as they aren't breathing in there - Jake had a ton of mec and it didn't bother him at all). She's shown signs of trouble in about every major organ system...her heart while I was in labor, her lungs when she was first born, her kidneys for the first day or two, her brain in the form of seizures, and the unifying factor that causes all of these things, is oxygen deprivation. The good news is that small babies are amazingly resilient and a lot of these kinds of things can sometimes resolve themselves as continued growth and development goes on, in ways they couldn't in older children or adults.

I was really happy with how labor was going and how well I was handling it and all that. Nancy and I both believe I was entering or in transition when she arrived at the apartment. We're also both REALLY really grateful that Elise gave us a "clear sign" that there was real trouble, and as such we wasted no time getting here. I actually had a c-section wearing all of my jewelry and my bra. She was wonderful to have with us - she got us here quick, bulldozed right through protesting admissions people and security, and checked me in herself so Grant could stay with me. She also remembered things I was in no state of mind to remember, like preferences we had for what we did and didn't want them to do to our baby immediately after birth, and she stuck around to get us "good nurses" and put her students "at our beck and call" before she left. The staff here has been wonderful...nobody has even implied or looked at us weird or anything as if we caused any of this. I was kind of bracing myself for a lot of "What did you expect?" after how Jackson treated us with Jake, but it's not that way at all. I've actually had hour long conversations (several of them), one on one, with OBs, social workers and nurses who seem to respect our decisions and understand why we made them, and agree that this all just sucks.

Someone yesterday told us that they do think Elise has some significant brain damage, but in the temporal lobe, which has no effect on higher level thinking, only motion - things like seizures, ticks, etc. They also seemed to think that she may be able to be discharged as soon as a week or two from now, but on medication(s) to keep her from seizing. As she grows, we'll have to adjust the amounts based on her weight and that is a trial and error process that is mostly based on when and how often she starts seizing despite what she's already taking. Many babies outgrow the needs for the meds and the seizures completely by 6 months old, though.

Her MRI yesterday was postponed when another baby had a major emergency, so she had it this morning instead. We're supposed to meet with a bunch of people including a group of pediatric neurologists this afternoon, to get a more complete picture of everything all these tests are showing. Right now she has a small oxygen tube going to her nose, a catheter because she wasn't peeing on her own (but that she is producing pee and it is going to the bladder means her kidneys aren't in the danger we thought), a couple of wires monitoring things via her cord stump, and an IV for fluids and antibiotics to keep the mec in her lungs from becoming an infection. She has done well breathing on her own, though, and never needed to be intubated.

I'm dying to nurse her. I miss her in the hospital bed. It's way, way too bitterly familiar for me to be in a baby-less hospital room, struggling to sit up...I've been maintaining a pretty strong's like I have to just not let myself feel a whole lot of this, because as soon as I start to it's like a tidal wave that will kill me or something. And that makes my whole body clench up and then I'm in really, really intense pain and just kind of lose it altogether. I actually contemplated asking to be sedated the other night, which I've never done before.

I'm trying to focus on the good news from her. And drink in the little bits of contact. The kids all came and visited yesterday and that was good, too. I miss them. And, really, I can't imagine how this would be if my mother were not here and with the big kids, or if we were out of money. It seemed like such a monumental, miraculous thing that between Grant's business and the tax return, we actually put together an $8k budget for April and could do this. But of course what that means is that we exhausted every resource (selling my old car that had sat in the yard for years, yard sale, all kinds of stuff) and when curve balls started coming we had no where else to pull from. I think that on some level all of you have been keeping my faith alive, because even though what's happened to Elise and I seems so totally contrary to having been led here....the miracles are still coming and we're still provided for. I am confused about everything. I know this c/s was necessary, and it went very smoothly, so I'm not left with that sense of being cut for nothing or having my own complications...but to be honest those things are the least of my concerns right now anyway. I think I'm starting to ramble and my head feels kind of foggy from oxycodone and lack of sleep, so I will wrap this up...

I love you all. I appreciate everything so, so much. I don't know when I'll get down here again but I'm sure Grant will continue to update, and probably bring me comments/emails as well. He is amazing. I wish I had a little more right now, to support him with.

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I want to tell everyone who is reading this, that I absolutely love you. I am so grateful for every well wish, every prayer, every candle lit - we are all so grateful for every donation, every idea, every place to stay, every care package.

I had a really hard time posting that last entry. I did it braced for criticism and judgement. I was totally expecting to hear whispers of locked posts talking where I couldn't see, and to have people popping over from communities to link me in snark places like stupid_free. I was projecting so much and bristling up, ready to just stay away from the computer.

Instead, I've found myself crying as quite a few people who I have little in common with and had no idea even read me have come out of the woodwork as long time lurkers, supportive of all we're doing, and even donated money. I've teared up again and again as people who I know have less than we normally do have said, "I wish I could do more", and I am just astounded that they are doing, at all. I've called Grant in surprise as real life friends I didn't even know were following this blog or pregnancy weighed in (positively).

It has added up in a huge way. We still have some bills that are backed up, but our grocery worries and our expenses of having to stay here another week, are covered. We were even able to pay for my mother's flight transfer so she could stay another week. Yesterday was a much happier, easier day than the day before, when we woke up broke and thinking she'd be gone in 24 hours.

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All of my kids are so wonderful. I haven't been talking about them much lately, here, but they rock my socks.

I left Ananda a note in her love letter pillow last night, saying, "Today is 'Arbor Day'. 'Arbor' means 'tree', so that means today is 'Tree Day'. Think of something we can do for it. Love, Mom" She read it easily and already had a bunch of ideas when I woke up. She's been spending an hour or more per day playing with Isaac and/or Jake, which is a new development. I'll find her with one or both of them in their room with the door closed, or hear them wrestling around on my bed. She's done better at kite flying than any of the rest of us, and at any moment can launch into an ongoing speech on technique that we're all supposed to learn from.

Whenever we're all walking to and from the building or the van or any place, and I'm waddling along behind everyone by more than 5 feet, Aaron always stops and turns around and quietly comes and walks next to me until we get where we're going. He heard me tell Grant I was cold at a playground yesterday and commenced with rubbing his fists on my back and blowing hard on my neck for a minute. I've realized that he's huge compared to most other 5 year olds. He reminds me of my brother a lot, because he's just...different. He sits and looks out the window silently for minutes at a time, he asks questions about things nobody else notices, and he assumes literal meaning in every metaphor and figure of speech.

Isaac is changing. His face is different every day. He's in one of those transitional phases between being a toddler and being a preshooler, I guess, and looks more like a KID all the time. He says words I don't expect to hear from him. Sometimes that means, "It echoes here because of the steep hill." and sometimes it means, "I hate you!" He is a wild card; a question mark. Will he be bipolar and nuts his whole life? Will he outgrow this? He whines and cries about everything all day long...but in between he does more laughing than any of the others. It's so quiet, when he's out with Grant or my mom or sleeping. He's so polite and charming and articulate, to strangers - he steals the heart of every waitress we encounter. But in between waitress visits, we're distracting, threatening and struggling with him at the table.

I can no longer call Jake's outlandish sideburns, sideburns. They're full on mutton chops, at this point. I keep saying I'm going to cut them, but...I dunno, I just can't do it yet. He adores being tickled or chased, he loves to get into things, but he also is happy to sit with someone on the couch and watch a cartoon or in my lap and listen to a book. He gets this wide-eyed, open mouth grin that goes with screaming "Daaaaa!!!!" or "Maaaaa!!" excitedly, whenever he sees us. I watch him scan the parking lot from his car seat, with his face tilted up to see out the window, anytime Grant's run in to a store or gas station for something. I call him my primitive jungle creature, or Wild Thing, because he's naked whenever possible, very affectionate, extremely expressive and eats and sleeps as he pleases and when, for the most part. His grunts, scowls and wild rhythmic "rain dances" all make us laugh.

Taken together I just can't imagine what another one will be like. All of my kids are so incredibly different and unique from each other.

This morning I was laying in bed, nursing Jake with my arm around Aaron, and Annie asked, "Is Elise EVER going to come out?" It seemed like such a silly question somehow; I answered "Of course!" and then explained that it will almost surely be within the week. That explanation out of my own mouth has been carrying me through the rest of the day, as I clean the bedroom and make lunch, and I feel really peaceful after such a long, long, restless yesterday.

Some pictures )
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I spent all day yesterday with a low grade depression clouding the back of my mind. Just feeling so much like I'm simply never going to go into labor, and like somehow I've gone from being more and more confident with myself, to letting doubts creep in because, damnitt, nothing is happening!!. Stupid though it sometimes seems to me, though, there really is something to the way the "energy around you" effects you...I spent the whole day yesterday with shocked strangers who heard my due date (after asking) saying, "Oh my God, you must be miserable!" and "What are they going to do?!" and "They let you go that long? Is the baby ok?" Even though I gave them all the counterarguments in a very seemingly calm gets under your skin without you even realizing it's getting under your skin.

Today, I spent the afternoon with Nancy and her partner midwife. Nancy talked about the ICAN conference, about how speaker after speaker emphasized how drastically improved your chances of successful birth are if you wait for your body to be ready all on it's own. And how my due date was pretty much surely the 15th based on all available evidence, which means I'm not even post-dates yet (38-42 weeks is considered "normal", and I'm 41w2d). We also just talked about anything and everything, and casually took my blood pressure and laughed about how it's ALWAYS 110/70, and she palpated my belly and saw that Elise is still holding that perfect LOA position (back up my left side in the front, head down). My fundal height has went down again, to 40 cm (from 40.5, from 41.5), and they can feel that her head is even lower than it was before. The partner midwife got teary eyed feeling my baby, and Nancy did later on when she told me she wants this just as much as I do. I left feeling like I could go anytime, everything is fine and what have I been stressing about anyway? They really talked about how I will surely NOT be pregnant anymore in July, and I'm not going back to Florida without a baby, and that is that. They also fed me almond bread and cheddar cheese and grape juice and laughed with me at the nerve of nosy strangers. And expressed very positive attitudes about large birth weight babies.

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But today was a great day -

-We finally got some more money into the bank from Grant's checks.

-Had a GREAT time at Nancy's. Whooped it up laughing while her and a group of women tried to do breast implants, leg shortening and other such surgeries on a pregnant lady made of pantyhose and batting that she's taking to the conference. Many jokes about what passing truck drivers or any cop who might pull her over will think when they see it in her backseat, life-sized and floppy. Posed for pictures for a series of progressive shots that may be turned into paintings for an advertising campaign that this attorney she's co-authoring her latest book (Birthquake) with is doing...the series is really, really emotional, I almost cried just hearing about it. That same attorney woman has a house available halfway between Syracuse and here, on the Mass. side of the border, that Nancy and I can meet at should I go into labor while Nancy's out of town. And the more I talked about it, the more obvious it was to me that my due date was so totally the 15th, not the 8th. I just had to go by the earliest date for traveling in time and got fixated on it as a result.

-The SUN came out! The sky was blue! It hit 50 degrees! We walked around Needham Square, I got awesome Manos del Uruguay yarn to make Elise longies with, and we had lunch at this amazing little place where they ended up giving us lunch free because of minor things like A and A's food taking too long (we tried to tell them it was fine, but hey). Also played at the playground there and browsed the little independant toy store.

-We're picking my mother up at the airport tomorrow evening! No joke.

+13 )
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Basically I woke up yesterday morning with a badly cramping abdomen, diarhhea and intensifying nausea. I was in the bathtub sure I would faint but unable to even call Grant to tell him I would faint. It just kept getting more and more intense; I had a LOT of sharp pain right up front under my herniated belly button. I was freaking terrified of going into labor like that, and so woozy and miserable...My mind was going a mile a minute but I had no energy and little ability to even move. The baby wasn't moving at all for what seemed to me to be very long periods of time. I felt really really afraid in general and like maybe a nice little morphine drip, catheter and IV was exactly what I needed, especially after I started puking uncontrollably a few minutes later. What a relief it could be, to just wake up feeling better and get to meet my baby...

After quite a lot of throwing up, though, I felt a tiny bit better in that way that throwing up can give you a reprieve. I came and collapsed in the bed in here and opened up my devotional journal. The page was titled, "God's Promises Are Sure" and listed the scripture, "He hath given meat unto them that fear him: He will ever be mindful of his covenant", and then went on to say, Father, being human, with human weaknesses, we may forget our promises to our children, but You never forget Your promises to us. You remain honorable and full of compassion even when we are weak and frightened...(more stuff like that for awhile, concluding with...) Sometimes my needs seem to be the most important things in my life, but I know this is only panic speaking. I need never panic again. Your promises are sure. Help my desperation of today give way to your reassurance and love.

So that sustained me throughout a long day of praying through the nausea and puking and half-watching bad, bad court tv (no cable) when it would ebb a bit. It also really renewed my general sense of confidence in birth. By evening I was finally able to keep down some liquids, and today I've been eating again, albeit not nearly as much as normal. I'm REALLY super dizzy off and on and kind of weak, but I think that's just lack of food. Tonight I finally seem to really be able to eat as I normally would, so hopefully tomorrow I'll be back to normal.

Grant is amazing. All day yesterday he was talking to my mom and Nancy on the phone to update them about me, cleaning out my puke bucket (!), checking on me, and taking care of all the kids/keeping them out of here. And in a really above and beyond way, too, like making caves out of furniture and coming up with pretend games and not forgetting the cream for Jake's red butt when he needed changing, etc. Today he took them out to the park and grocery shopping while I dozed all afternoon. With customers and his employee calling all the while needing answers to questions. He's passed out in the living room right now, and I really don't blame him.

It was weird, my body completely and totally shut down yesterday, labor-wise. Not a single Braxton Hicks the entire day, no discharge, nothing that's been standard fare for the previous week. It's all back today, though. Nancy was telling me over the phone this morning that she should have told me yesterday, so I wouldn't worry, that she's never ever seen a woman go into labor while violently ill; your body just knows it can't do both things at once.

I AM starting to get a little Alright, any day now..., about labor, but not too bad. I wasn't even 100% sure about my due date (though my fundal height has been at 41.5 weeks since I got here) and it was still 3 days further along than this, when I went into labor with Jake. When I could, today, I was reading Hypnobirthing or birth stories I found online. I feel like I'm in a much better headspace than I was even a few days ago, for birth. Except for the whole, "Can't stand for too long or I get really woozy" thing.

Anyway...I wanted to write about our trip to the New England Aquarium on Thursday, and post pictures from it, but I need to lay down again. So here are some more outdated pictures, concluding this past Wednesday. I'm planning on printing many of these journal pages, developing a lot of these pictures, and putting them along with many other things into a scrapbook for Elise.

+15 )
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It's been really interesting, this journey to birth or whatever you want to call it, since we got here. I've told my whole long story to Nancy, her partner (who had a hba2c), and her two students. I've been TERRIFIED of my adhered bladder blocking descent because of some comments a student made (and was scolded for...) and some possible ways of viewing this pregnancy and Jake's labor. I've done a total 180 and felt completely at peace with that, because of talking it out and having faith. I've sat through a hypnobirthing class that I was certain was a total waste of time right up until I found myself crying and getting a lot out of it, and I've been to THE COOLEST chiropractor on the face of the earth, and walked out feeling like a million bucks. When I arrived in Boston, Elise was posterior, I'm certain due to 5 days sitting in the car, often with my feet up. I've done a lot of all fours with my head down since then, and she's back where she should be (perfectly so, actually) since then. She's dropped a bit, as well. Mother, you'll be happy to know I had a blood draw today even though we're liable to not know the results until after the birth, and my blood was the perfect color and clotted up as soon as the needle was out. Nothing whatsoever like when I was pregnant with Aaron, didn't know a thing about low platelets, and a little furniture staple protruding from a couch armrest jabbing me in the thigh had blood pooling on the floor :x

I've spent a LOT of time with Nancy. I really like her. I feel a certain comraderie with her as someone else who is both very jaded against the medical establishment and a writer. It's awesome to be seemingly surrounded everywhere I go (class, chiro, her house/office) by these very holistic and naturally oriented people.

I'm starting to feel like I'm really ready for this to happen. I've got chux pads, olive oil and celebratory bottles of sparkling grape juice standing by.

I am way behind on editing pictures and posting them, as we're trying to stay out of here as much as possible as a FOURTH neighbor has now come and complained about our noise twice. I can get off the elevator on the other end of the building and here Grant calling "Isaac?" from the kitchen of our apartment. Not screaming or bellowing, just calling to him from the next room travels that way. It's like we're having a wild party in a morgue or something, just living. The guy downstairs can't sleep at night, can't nap in the afternoon (he's old), he said it sounds like we're "building a house up here". He asked us if we could just keep the kids from jumping off of things and beating on the floor. I don't know how to explain to this guy that, REALLY, they are NOT DOING THOSE THINGS. They're walking or in Jake's case running from room to room, sitting and playing with play-doh or eating meals or whatever. I'm actually getting to a point where I feel angry with the owners for responding to an ad posted by a large family full of little kids, knowing they were offering an apartment with thin walls and hollow floors in a building where everyone else is either single, a senior citizen or both. I kind of assumed that ok'ing birth and everything implied something a little different. It's such a relief to us to go out to restaurants that offer high chairs and kids' menus and are loud, or to the indoor playground where they can just do whatever they want. Ananda and Aaron both had some major spells of homesickness today, just acting very sad and talking about things they miss for awhile (separately), and being very uncharacteristically clingy, and I really think that this atmosphere of constant panic and shushing is a HUGE part of that. I guess I didn't realize how "free" my kids normally are to use ride on toys and push carts (those things would make so much noise here that I could never even consider them - just sliding a chair across the floor makes Grant or I cringe; I turned away an offer of wooden blocks because when the towers fall, it will be audible throughout this entire floor and sound downstairs as if we're building a house), and run out the back door to the trampoline whenever the urge strikes. Blah.

We found an AWESOME playground at the top of a very large hill with a great view, today. Unfortunately as Floridians we had no idea that going to the top of a very large hill on a day with a wind chill factor of 23 degrees is a BAD IDEA. We all ended up running for the van, Jake with tears streaming down his face from the wind and Isaac throwing a tantrum about his hands and face hurting. The locals even had insulated parkas on, up there. It was seriously the coldest I've ever been in my life - luckily soon after we found the INDOOR playground, which also features a playhouse, sandbox, carousel and many other neat things. It does cost money to go, but right now I can't think of anything more important to spend money on.

And now...On the Road, Part 2 - 'only' 12 today )

ALSO: I want everyone on my flist to know I AM reading it, just in spare moments and I rarely get to sit down and type out a lot of comments. I'm sorry I've been quiet, especially when I'm valuing all of YOUR support and input so much :/ It's just really hard to find the time right now. You'll note I'm posting at 3 am while tired, because it's available time and Grant is passed out so I'm not missing our fleeting bits of time to ourselves kid-free.


Apr. 4th, 2007 01:26 am
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Let's just say our last day of travel, and first day or two in Boston, were WAY more stressful than the first few days of travel were...It started with the traffic being backed up to nearly stopped for a whole hour north and south of Manhatten, on I-95. Then there is the fact that we didn't anticipate the tolls in that area being $6 each (yes, a few). Or gas at $3 a gallon.

Then there is Boston. It's IMPOSSIBLE to navigate this city!!! The streets all have names (no numbers), pretty much all of them are curving and twisting - generally a given intersection has in between 3 and 6 different possible turns. It's INSANE. And the hills, and the fact that for some reason the street you're ON isn't listed (only the cross street, no double stacked street signs showing both) and the street you're on is liable to turn into another street with no notice whatsoever. Finding our way around everywhere else we've been has been fine - this is insane. We're lost all. the. time. Grant has GPS and google maps on his phone, and we can't even follow the directions it gives us; they all involve alternate street names that the signs don't even say, or "left" but not whether that means the slight or sharp left, and all sorts of other things like that. For anyone who doesn't know how the other half lives, in Florida we have a flat grid system of sequential numbers, 4 possible directions per intersection, and both street numbers displayed on each corner. Sheesh. We seriously get lost going to the grocery store we've visited 3 times already, and can pick a place to go that's two miles away and spend TWO HOURS trying to find our way back. Nancy told me yesterday that she still gets lost regularly, and she's lived here for 10 years. ARGH.

The apartment -

Good: It's bigger than I expected, in a nice enough neighborhood. Very clean. The bed is comfortable. There are features I didn't expect, like a great massaging showerhead, On Demand cable system, and a very effective dishwasher and garbage disposal.

Neutral: We're adjusting to things we knew to expect, but still have to get used to, like going downstairs and across a parking lot to take out the trash, paying to do laundry on a different floor than we are on in tiny washing machines that hold less than half what ours at home does, and parking 2 blocks from the doors of the building (in 39 degree rain. With all the kids. And everytime you need to go get something else out of the van...).

Bad: NOT KID FRIENDLY. Oh, my gosh, it's EASIER to go be lost all day than it is to be here with them. Way easier. I don't even know where to start...the main thing, I guess, is that I just didn't remember how noise is in apartment living. Or else I'm used to concrete buildings with thick walls, built to withstand hurricanes? Because I lived in apartments a lot, in South Florida, and none of us ever had to tiptoe around or talk softly to be considerate. It was more like, "Don't BLARE your music full on unless it's Saturday afternoon, and no hammering in nails after midnight". Either way, every step every one of us takes ECHOES and booms. The walls are so thin that I can hear them halfway down this floor in the main hallway when I'm walking towards our front door - just talking, asking for things, playing, not even counting Isaac's screaming fits, that come several times a day and into the night. I've already been talked to by TWO different neighbors, both of which had really annoying things to say to me about parenting that were irrelevant to the noise (you can't take them out in this weather, you need to be careful with them on these stairs, they should be in bed by now, etc). We're on the corner, at least, thank God. Still. I was informed tonight that the building has a 10 pm noise limit? By someone else who wants to know who we are or when we moved in, because they "haven't ever seen us here before". Geez. I don't know how to keep an 18 month old from running around making noise on the floor. I can barely sort of almost keep a 3 year old from doing any running, hurrying or stomping. Aaron's going nuts trying not to jump, stomp or bang. I really don't know how any of you deal with this apartment stuff, with little kids. Unless this really is a flimsy building (without carpeting, even).

And, call me crazy, but I assumed several small children moving in for a month would mean the landlords would NOT do things like leave shoe boxes of their bills, glass ash trays and framed pictures, and toxic chemicals at floor level? I also didn't expect so many freestanding top heavy floor lamps or hinged glass doors with expensive items inside. I didn't expect "furnished" to mean someone else's contact lenses would be in the medicine cabinet and their tampons and underwear filling the dresser drawers and the window sills full of their stuffed animals. There is this huge walk in closet in our room...with her entire wardrobe and shoe collection stuffing it O_o Maybe I'm weird or paranoid, but I would feel so VULNERABLE leaving all my stuff in an apartment a family of strangers was going to be staying in for a month. There's a piggy bank full of change and what looks like a Master's Degree's worth of college textbooks and a full collection of fridge magnets...and some expired eggs and frozen meat and so on.

Also the floor is some kind of cool looking and feeling criss cross pattern of wood pieces...that Jake can dissassemble. Seriously, everytime we turn around there's a bare patch of concrete showing and he's running with double handfulls of what look like Jenga pieces. *sigh*

We're making the best of it. We went and bought some plastic, portable stacking drawers for the kids' room (which was big enough, and had nothing but a futon and night stand in it) - and an air mattress. And we picked out some fabrics at Jo-Ann's that we're going to use painter's tape to cover all the hinged glass doors up with (there are 8 in our room, 4 in the living room), and also cover all the look of "you're living in someone else's personal space" that are under them, in the process. It will just be big 5 foot panels of color and pattern. We're finally easing back into eating right, as well - 5 days on the highway got pretty gross, aside from our visit to Dama's house. I made us whole wheat blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs for breakfast, beef stew over brown rice for dinner, and warm cinnamon apple sauce for dessert. All very well received. We still ended up having crappy croissanwhiches from Dunkin Donuts for lunch, though :x I'm also putting the book collection to use - we decided to put Rowan of Rin and Harry Potter on hold for the month and read The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling's real chapter book) and A Children's Garden of Verses, while we're here and they're available.

What kills me is I haven't heard sound one from any other tenant in this place. I mean, nothing. In my room or the bathroom with the door closed, I hear EVERY LITTLE THING from the rest of the apartment. From down the hall, I hear our apartment. The one neighbor said we sounded like "a herd of elephants". But it's like we're tiptoeing through a mausoleum or something - I wonder if everyone else here keeps 3 pairs of socks on and a thick layer of wall to wall carpet, and whispers at all times. I definitely haven't seen any other kids.

And come to think of it, I've very rarely seen other kids out and about around town, either. In the grocery store or BJ's, even, which is where you would generally see kids. When I do, I see one kid with 1-2 adults. What the heck, man? I'm used to always seeing at least one other mom with 3 kids and a few with 2, whenever I make a big food run. People here aren't even asking when I'm due and acting congratulatory, it's just this pursed lip thing like they have to look away before they sneer. #$*@&#!!

Anyway. It's harder than I expected in many ways, especially after the highway and hotels and a friends' house were all such a breeze that G and I were both like, "We should travel all the time!"

Highlights -
-Driving through a parking lot I saw what I assumed was a big pile of some kind of foam insulation or something, filthy by the look of it. "That's snow" said Grant. No it isn't, I replied, but he insisted, so we stopped and he got out and kicked it and ice went everywhere. Cue crazy Floridians all playing and fighting in week old dirty snow that has yet to melt. The kids had a BLAST.
-A wonderful, amazing, anonymous woman from Canada emailed me several times and sent us a couple of things, before we left. RIGHT before we left, we got a package from her loaded with individually wrapped presents for each of us - several apiece. All for the trip. Activity books, art supplies, warm socks, cash for coffee, little car toys - so thoughtful and amazing. Anne, the children are constantly begging to open something else and I'm amazed at the care you put into everything. I keep meaning to email you, but things have been really hectic getting settled in. It will happen, though.
-We meet with Nancy tomorrow. She's thrilled that we're here.
-And I briefly talked to [ profile] julierocket on the phone today.
-Grant is working so hard. He's been hauling and doing all the laundry, all the packing and unpacking of heavy things, all the running things up to the apartment and down to the van/trash. And still doing half of Jake/Isaac duty. He took A and A out on a hike in the nature reserve early this evening and the two of them came back thrilled and full of stories. It kind of blows my mind that we can somehow still love each other in the midst of everything else going on.

I feel alright, physically. My braxton hicks are still just 6-10 a day, but they're definitely stronger now than they have been before. I also suddenly have to get up to pee at least TWICE every night. I'm a bit dissapointed with myself for starting to get impatient already, when I'm not even "due", which should be my starting point for thinking of labor, until Sunday. But now that we're here and I'm so uncomfortable all the time and my circulation and hips are making me nuts and I can't keep my belly all the way covered in the cold...Blah. I compose myself by looking around at the still-disheveledness and thinking how much better it would be if nothing happened until I can get everything in order and we can be back in some kind of routine. I felt very sad and almost hopeless yesterday, just so depressed, because it was just all we could do to spread ourselves so thin to really be there individually for the kids we already have, and we were stretched sooooo far, that I just felt like the last thing I need right now is another baby :/ I know it's the circumstances - I did NOT feel like that at home, and today is better than yesterday. Still and all, 39+ weeks pregnant is not the tme for that to be what's going through your head. It would be a good thing to get things to a manageable enough point that we could actually fully appreciate this new soul before she's on the outside. I guess it's just being pregnant I'm tired of, really, since I'm at this very late stage and have been pregnant so much in the past few years. I'm ready to sleep on my stomach, be able to fit in a towel and not wonder if everything bothering me is just hormones, again. It would be nice to roll over in the night without the pain waking me.

Ok, since everyone else is asleep, I'm going to go and start editing and saving pictures. I'll get them up as soon as I can, but I can't promise any specific time. Maybe I'll do them in several posts because, really, there are just too many of them.
altarflame: (Just the six of us...)
I don't have much time to update, but wanted you all to know I'm up to date on my comments and my friends' page, now. And my email. We're a day behind schedule after catching some HORRIBLE traffic in Maryland, and are at a hotel in New Jersey with wi-fi for Grant's laptop. Which we will also have in Boston. It's nice; the two biggest kids are watching Happy Feet in a pull out bed where Isaac is also sleeping.

Day 1: VERY LATE START - we got out of town in the evening, got to Jax at like 2 am. But the kids slept the whole way, hotel was fine, it was cool. Good to be on our way, although I'd felt really frustrated earlier about how long last minute things were taking.

Day 2: Spent a little bit of nice time with my mom, and then were excited to cross the state line and really be on our way. Hotel was fine again, kids were slightly harder to get to bed - mostly because Aaron was freaking out SID style, and Jake had slept the day away in the car and didn't want to go to bed. He was willing to lay with us happily, but in a playful way. Aaron just needed a massage. I got extremely ill and sat on the floor by the bathroom for a long time, thinking I had food poisoning from road food :x But it ended up passing after awhile.

Day 3: Beautiful, breathtaking scenery; hills rolling everywhere, trees like we've never seen before (i.e., not of the palm variety). We stopped at a rest area where Aaron asked, "Why is it so beautiful?!"? and we spent awhile running around in the trees and sitting and collecting pine cones. As afternoon passed G and I were bemused to see signs like "Pentagon, 27 miles" as we just don't ever see things like that. Then we got to [ profile] mommydama's house - it was great on a lot of levels. Within a couple of hours of being there I really felt comfortable and clicked talking like the online prescence and real person had merged :) Her kids are adorable, and I think Aaron has a crush on Mari, now. It was SO NICE to eat good dinner and breakfast and not have to worry about eating some kind of nasty road food. She even gave me leftover cloth diapers of Luci's that fit Jake just as we were going to run out of the "Traveling stash" I'd packed him. I'm insanely excited that she's reading the Dark Tower and looking forward to seeing them all again on the way back :)

Day 4: After leaving Dama's, we started seeing all kinds of neat things. Driving through underground tunnels and over TALL bridges near houses on cliffs. Industrial parts of Philadelphia. We love traveling. It's been so easy, overall, with the kids - both of us are so pleasantly surprised. Isaac has had some meltdowns but that happens just as often at home. A and A are used to road trips and Jake really does very well. We were getting way behind schedule though and realized we couldn't show up at the apartment tonight to get the keys at, like, midnight. So we looked at the map and thought...well heck, we can't drive within 10 miles of New York City and not stop there. So that's what we'll do in the morning, since we only have about 200 miles to kill before we hit Boston. We're at least going to go look across to the Statue of Liberty, if not take the ferry over, and Grant seems really interested in Central Park. The highways around here are INSANE, I thought Miami was nuts. And it's cold! It was 42 when we checked in just before sunset, here in Newark.

That's the deal. I'm feeling very, very appreciative of Grant, who is pulling at least half with Isaac and Jake and doing all the driving, packing and loading/unloading right now. As well as taking pictures. He's amazing. We keep looking over at each other in the front seat and just grinning.

I've started, since day 1, having my first bunch of Braxton Hicks that are actually really uncomfortable, or that happen when I'm just sitting down. Before I left town they were coming anytime I walked a lot or nursed Jake, but never when sitting or laying without him and never to a "Hey, ow!" extent. Now, both. Nothing regular, just...5-10 a day or something. I'm mildly aware that April 2 is a full moon, but not really expecting anything. I feel like some sort of chemist with everything I'm taking in a day...chlorophyll with a hemaplex vitamin, and yellow dock once with alfalfa and once without. I guess it's not really "all" that much, but it feels like it because of remembering it all on the road, carrying it with me and spacing it out across the hours. But I feel good. I feel a little fat and gross from sitting so much, eating less well and my circulation bothers me the last hour or so in the van (even though we stop at least once for an hour or so in the middle), but other than that - and ravenous thirst and eating constantly - I'm good.

Once we arrive and settle into our apartment, I'll post some pictures.
altarflame: (Default)
Today was EXACTLY what I needed!

Let me preface this by saying that Isaac got some severe and terrifying croup a few days ago, and we have spent this week going through a wringer of worry, fear, irritation, frustration and exhaustion. There was a whole night that neither of us slept because we were too afraid he would stop breathing. And it's viral, not something antibiotics can treat (you know it's bad since I took him to the doctor...) A major thing about it that has been making us insane is, he can't get freaked out. He can't throw a fit or start crying, or his larynx swells and his breath gets extremely hoarse and high pitched and he starts choking badly. So...we've spent over four days catering to The Tyrant's every whim, rather frantically. Even with us scuttling to accomadate him in every way, there've been quite a few scary crying jags. He has whined pretty much continuously; at the doctor's he was screaming bloody murder, thrashing wildly and choking and squeaking. Grant was holding him outside the door, and the ped asked me, "You have a lot of trouble getting medicine into him?" "How can you tell?", I replied, and he laughed a lot. Grant and I are both starting to go squinty eyed, longing for him to be better again so we can say NO YOU CAN'T! about anything at all and make him deal with it :x He has such an insane lot of totally unreasonable demands. And he's been watching Pirate Dora (the explorer) for the entire time - night and day, endless loop, KILL ME NOW. We KNOW YOU ARE THE FREAKING MAP, STFU!!!
Anyway, then last night Isaac was finally sleeping relatively well, and Jake got a mysterious stomach bug and puked the night away. He was waaaaaaaaay easier to deal with, only crying when he was overwhelmingly nauseas and ready to throw up, and clingy. And HOT. Poor guy. But on the heels of croup, we were just so spent, the both of us.

So this morning it was EXTREMELY difficult for Grant to get me out of bed. Going to my prescheduled belly casting seemed like a chore, albeit a necessary one because I've really wanted a belly cast. Little did I know that Grant was trying to rush me out the door and discouraging me from eating (totally weird...) because it was actually a surprise Blessingway. Melanie was at Kristin's house, and my sister showed up, too. They had copious lunch and decadant desserts ready for me, and a spa style bathroom set up with salts, homemade soaps, and towels set up by Kristin's huge, awesome tub for after I was done with the cast and needed to clean up.

It was really great. It started off rocky, because I sat on this seat while she started the first part of the cast, and all of a sudden out of nowhere got REALLY nauseus and dizzy...I could barely talk to complain about it, and sort of registered that they all looked pretty worried before I lost consciousness. Three times. Each time I would come around in a hazy way thinking, Whoa, I blacked out, and then be under again. Whenever I was semi-coherent I was sure I would puke - there was a bucket standing by and I remember at one point I was leaning back on Kristin with Melanie holding a cold rag on the back of my neck and my nausea pressure point (inner wrist) in her other hand, with Laura standing there with a bucket, but it was just surreal. Finally I layed down on the ground/floor (we were on Kristin's patio, big and private but still outside) and the cast crumpled off of me and I started to come around enough to feel embarrassed and focus my eyes. Sheesh man. I think it was a combination of major sleep deprivation, inadequate food today, sitting totally still and upright for a prolonged time with all this weight of unsupported breasts that I'm not used to, and hot weather + really cold strips of wet plaster on me.

Anyway after a few minutes of talking I got up and put on a bra (I'd been in just pants) and ate some of the wonderful food - Laura made me picadillo and black beans and rice and whole wheat crepes with fresh fruit filling and homemade whipped cream, and Melanie brought this INSANE awesome chocolate mousse cake with brownie base and a layer of dark chocolate ganache on top (!!) that went SO WELL with Kristin's extreme amount of overripe organic strawberries...yum man. After I had eaten like a pig pregnant woman and went to the bathroom and talked for a little while, they got out gifts. Each of them had a seed for me, that represented something - like Melanie chose a sunflower seed because sunflowers have SO MANY SEEDS :p and Laura gave me a spinach seed, because of Popeye and knowing I can be strong. And a bead, that I can wear on a labor bracelet. Melanie also got me a warm maternity shirt and knit me a scarf, for Boston, and brought a picture frame for me to put that first "just born" picture in, and a candle that had already been burned some, to remind me of all the women who've birthed before me. Kristin made me a sitz bath for after birth, completely from herbs that she grew in her garden.

For awhile there that nasty feeling lingered in the background ready to overwhelm again and I was afraid I just wasn't going to be able to do the belly cast at all, which was pretty dissapointing. But then we tried again with me sitting on the floor, tailor style (way better for my circulation) leaning against a wall with a pillow, and I had no problems at all. I really like the way it came out, though it's still "blank" and rough of course. Kristin is amazing, too, you guys should check out the amazing sKiLlz I'm getting for free here at her site - If you go to the belly gallery, there is this one Where the Wild Things Are one that is *out of control*.

So then I went to the bathroom for my spa bath (alone) and as I stood there in the mirror I was struck by how, for some reason or other...I felt totally ok with my naked body. Somewhere in the midst of 3 other moms memorializing my pregnant glory (and all having to stop to whip out an imperfect boob to nurse someone at some point), and being taken care of and eating together, and looking at all of the different casts Kristin had already made...I just felt completely fine. With my saggy lower belly, with my huge herniated tree stump belly button, with my boobs that are no longer precisely where they were when I was 18. It was really peaceful and amazing. And I got in and scrubbed my moisturized-by-so-much-olive-oil skin down with homemade calendula soap, and then sat down in the HUGE tub and filled it up with several spoonfuls of these amazing homemade bath salts that smelled so good. And sat there for time out of mind, alone with the water noise (the tub probably took half an hour just to fill up) and thought about the fainting thing. I was really glad it happened, in retrospect - because I've never been in a situation like that, where I have some kind of difficulty and supportive, understanding people help me through it and then I go on about my business. It made me feel so good about birth - it wasn't "OH NO SHE BLACKED OUT, RUSH HER TO THE HOSPITAL" they just helped me through it - cold rag, physical support, laying down, juice, food. Then we went on about the belly casting. That's how I want my birth to be. I talked to Elise about it.

And when I came out we did a birth circle, with Ananda (the only child I'd brought along, who'd been happily watching or hanging out the whole time). We took one (very)long piece of yarn and all wrapped it around a wrist, with room for tying, and the promise that none of us would take it off until Elise was born.

By the time I left, I'd been there for SEVEN HOURS (and had no idea that much time had passed). Grant never called or anything, at home with all the boys including two recovering sickies. Annie was feeling special, it was raining lightly and I felt so freaking good. SO GOOD. And there was a package waiting for me!

I have a couple of people to email and one to call - I will do it, either (even) later tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
My days have been SO CRAZILY full, and there are so many more things to be accomplished in the coming days, that I am just in a daze today. I started out well enough, with my Lenten devotional time and then I got a couple of loaves of flax banana bread baking in the oven and started a chicken soaking in brine for tonight's dinner. It all felt good, Ananda came out because she said she'd heard the KitchenAid from her bed and couldn't get back to sleep knowing something yummy was coming. I lanolized Elise's (FINISHED!!) longies. And then something happened and I just started idling along. My sister came to visit while I was picking up my room and I think that as a result I just sat down and chilled to talk to her, which is when it started. Now I've been crocheting and surfing the web for HOURS while trying to shoo the kids away or give them the laziest answers possible, whenever they request anything. The house has fallen to pieces around me. Grant Sr is out of town and Robbie is up at Teresa's, which means nobody is even gonna be popping in and dissaproving of the mess.

The kids are watching a movie. Jake is sitting in Annie's lap, and Isaac and Aaron are coexisting side by side without any sort of hostility. I wish I had the camera here, they make me smile in a big way. Isaac finally seems to really be getting better today; his fever has been absent since last night. He's hoarse, though, and still a little sluggish. I don't understand how nobody but him got sick.

I'm having some major PATH conundrums. The president mass emailed a letter of resignation to us all, after some members accused her one too many times of not being the best president. We have no president elect. I also feel that the (now former) president is a real friend of mine and someone I truly respect. She's been going above and beyond all year to hold together what has been falling apart. Now...I don't know what's going to happen. Our longtime treasurer is also stepping down this year, and we have a much smaller membership - about 80 families. It was 200 a couple of years ago. I'm torn - so torn...because I think I could help pull it together. I think I could reschedule this weekend's executve committee meeting for my house, since it won't be at the x-presidents, so that it still happens, and we can formulate a plan. Even though that would mean I'll have to stay up late as heck Friday night cleaning my place, get up early to cook breakfast for everyone, and have Grant pre-agreed to wrangle all the children. I can send out emails and update our site, for my particular park. But a part of me feels as if I'm trying to save a sinking ship. Especially since I'm about to leave the state for a month. Apparently these sorts of ebbs and flows have been very normal for the group throughout the last couple of decades, but when you are in an ebb it means that each volunteer is doing 5+ volunteers' worth of work, until things start to flow again.

And school...I took test #2 last night for Human Sexuality, over at the college. I think I did pretty well. I love being there, on some level, because it's just so completely far removed from my normal day to day - for being here in this little suburb they really went all out with the campus, it almost seems silly how big and art deco it is. I like it, though. But I'm supposed to take #3, like, TOMORROW. Or maybe Friday (it's Independant Studies and they just all have to be taken by the end of the course). SO MUCH READING. Stimulating reading that I start conversations about, and I read fast so that's in my favor, but each test is 5 long chapters and not in such a way that you can skim or just know the vocabulary or something. I have an email to send to my abnormal psych prof and some discussions to submit to the messageboard (that class is online). That is easy to breeze through...I almost resent how easy and simplistic that class is, because the material is so complex and fascinating. I will not complain right now, though. All of these things - PATH, my classes - have value in my life and I think they're worth it. I just want to have a WHOLE DAY to lay around doing the bare possible minimum, and I don't think it's going to happen for a long long time. Maybe it will happen in Boston? I felt kind of depressed yesterday about how Elise's birth will reset the clock on Grant and I being able to go anywhere alone, as I won't leave a new baby with anyone else, and on us getting to go to bed together in our own bed with no kids in it. Not the overwhelming depression that I felt about that sort of thing with Ananda, or Isaac, when I had less perspective of things being temporary. Just a sort of internal *sigh* My sister has miraculously offered to watch my kids while the two of us go out to lunch somewhere, though. Which surprised me a lot. Maybe I'll try to schedule that with her this evening.

I don't normally talk about sex in my lj for a wide array of reasons, but this afternoon we were "reconnecting" in the room while all the kids were occupied elsewhere. And I had this moment, when he was just feeling so familiar and nice and looking so good and I felt so in love with him and happy, and I realized that he had his "World's Best Dad - Hands Down" shirt hiked up around his chest with the fabric painted hand prints showing, and my giant belly was between us, and I just started laughing. What's become of us? :p


Mar. 14th, 2007 03:32 am
altarflame: (hospital)
I think about birth more and more. About reading Hypnobirthing and listening to the CD and doing the visualizations. About going to Boston and attending Nancy's childbirth classes. About having the right posture and the right chiropractic adjustments so that her position will be just right. And then I also think about not reading or studying or giving a shit, and having a frappuccino if I want one, because in the end it's an involuntary physical process and you can't stop the baby from coming out regardless. Sometimes I think that the only thing I have to fear, is fear. Which can actually impede your progress enough to make things much harder. That should make me feel very relieved, since fear is intangible and unnecessary. But if it can really have such negative consequences, how am I supposed to not be afraid of it?

Then I think, what am I afraid of? Dying. Or the baby dying. Ok, people don't just up and DIE having babies/being born - specific (and very rare) things have to go wrong (and, often, totally undetected, which is unlikely in my situation), I tell myself. So what in particular is it that I am worried could happen? For some reason I've realized I have this fear that my heart won't be able to handle the stress and intensity of labor and birth and will suffer some sort of thrombosis or embolism or something. I don't know where I'm getting this, except that I have low blood pressure, had scarily low blood pressure after my 3 days of Jake labor + c/s blood loss, and it would be the sort of undetectable thing that somehow explained why all my previous surgical deliveries were somehow necessary and valid after all. Yet, HELLO, after 4 major surgeries and all the OB and midwife care I've had in the past few years, someone would have picked up on it if I had any sort of heart condition or problem. My sister DOES have diagnosed heart conditions and had a natural birth just fine. I was never aware of my heart during my labor with Jake, either, and she says the same of her experience with Brian.

I think I'm afraid, more than anything, of someone pulling back the curtain and shoving me into the OR. Like, destroying this illusion I have that I could actually birth a baby naturally and leading me back to the reality of green tiles and a baby behind glass where I am not allowed to touch it. That Nancy will give me a few hours, nothing will happen, and she'll say "We really need to go to the hospital" and I'll get there and they'll seal off all the doors and rush in a team of people with forms to sign and masks on their faces. Everyone will speak right over my head as if I wasn't there, as the feeling fades from my lower body. But I will have "done all I could", since I searched so long and traveled so far.

I have these very lucid moments of confidence, these crystal clear epiphanies wherein I KNOW I can do this, and also that it is not even some amazing accomplishment; I am just a woman, and women give birth. Our bodies are designed to conceive, carry, deliver and feed babies. My body would not grow something that would then remain stuck inside of it forever; that's just silly. These are great moments, some longer or more powerful than others, but then something so simple - the mention of some other person's complication, the idea of how big this baby could end up being, the very idea of how hard it was to find ANYONE who believed in me this time around - will end it very abruptly.

The good news is that they come more and more often. I feel like it will be good for me to get some time totally alone, in Boston, to just...think and feel? Listen to music? Write stream of consciousness with nobody around to interrupt? Pray and study? I don't get a lot of totally alone. It's easy for me to avoid and deny, here in this house with seven other people and an endless stream of responsibilities. The moments of clarity are like pinpoints of light in this haziness I otherwise exist in, birth-wise, which is full of doubt, confusion, an urge to make this happen through copious planning and preparation alone, and, most of all, general avoidance of honest thought of any kind.

And when they come, I feel like jumping up and down screaming, or spinning in circles laughing. It's just so good. To imagine. It's like one more link in this long, long chain of patterns and intertia that I'm breaking bit by bit since high school. I want a newborn picture that is not strangers' hands in latex gloves holding my screaming baby aloft in a freezing cold, sterile room. I'd like a picture of myself without 50,000 things hooked up to me. I'd like to actually break through the gauze of precedent and reach down and feel my baby emerging from my body on it's own (!), real and alive. And to maybe be able to stand up the next day.

We leave so soon. Once I go to sleep and wake up, I'll be saying 13 days til we leave.
altarflame: (closeupAnnie)
We had the weirdest experience tonight. Ananda has these little wart things that have just recently developed on her knee. I was actually just telling Grant today that I want to take her in to Dr Geraldi and have them looked at, since they're multiplying and growing and she probably just needs some cream to get rid of them. Anyway we were out shopping, and her and Aaron were sort of horsing around in the aisles. Not too bad, but something on one of them scraped the edge of a wart up or off. It proceeded to bleed way too much - she kept soaking it up with the edge of her skirt and when it was obvious that it wasn't just going to instantly stop or be done, we went over to get a box of bandaids, so we could use one immediately. By that point it was down her leg and pooling in her sandal! I don't think she was in any danger from blood loss or anything, but still, what the heck. We had her hold onto the edge of the cart on the way over to bandaids so she wouldn't be walking and making it bleed more, and she was looking REALLY freaked. It was hard for me to not laugh at her a little because this little trickle of blood had her all hyped up dramatic, moaning and making these fish gasping motions with her mouth. But then I got in the bathroom with her and she got completely unresponsive and fell down. Her face was too pale already, with big dark circles having appeared under her eyes, but as I was watching her the circles went away and her lips even lightened. Her face was completely white. The bleeding had stopped by this point, but I had to carry her from the bathroom, and really thought she was going to lose consciousness. Once I had her sitting in a little chair and got her leg cleaned and bandaged she gradually regained the ability to talk and little by little her color came back. Sheesh. She is the one who CANNOT see my c-section scar - she'll run from the room gulping if Aaron is looking at it - but...I'm starting to have my doubts about her witnessing this upcoming birth, you know? Poor kid. I layed down with her for a bit before bed talking about it, and she was saying it was like she just couldn't breathe at all, and was too tired to move. She said she kept reminding herself that she bled more than that when she split her chin open as a toddler (but that's not something she remembers; it's a story she's heard).

We had a really great weekend. The PATH camping trip was SO COOL for the kids - the rangers at Castellow Hammock had all sorts of presentations and games set up for them, and they provided a campfire, marshmallows and s'mores, led them on an owl walk through the woods, and so on. A and A really had a blast. I think they especially liked camping in a group of tents wherein 30 kids all yell "GOODNIGHT!" back and forth to each other for half an hour O_o I was kind of shocked to get any rest at all on an air mattress, after the way I've been struggling to sleep lately, but it wasn't that bad. I hurt a LOT when I woke up, but only for about 10 minutes. I get stiff and sore really quick lately. Aaron, my budding zoologist, made a friend of this dog that came over to the campground in the morning - it was a really big, fluffy, all white thing with a collar that was obviously used to people, and all the kids were trying to get close enough to it to pet it, but it kept running away from everyone at the last second. Adults couldn't get close enough to touch, either. Next thing I know, I look over and Aaron is sitting a ways off with it's head in his lap, and it's on it's back with it's paws in the air while he pets it. He's always like that with animals.

And we got out of there early enough to go to church Sunday - this Christ Fellowship place I talked up last week starts at 11:30, so it wasn't too hard. The children's program is REALLY amazing there. The staff to kid ratio is incredible, this time around Isaac and Jake were fine the whole time, because an adult took each of them one on one for the entire service. I still have things that I miss, being there - communion, for one, and just...kneeling and crossing myself and other such things that mean worship to me, on some level. But there is nothing about this place that I don't like, if that makes sense. I really, really, REALLY wish there was a way to have both the moving sermons full of real life things that impact you, and the rituals. The music we love and want, as well as Lent. The connectedness AND the sense of reverence. As it is, I'm just happy that we've found a church where Grant feels really happy and at home and touched, that I am getting good stuff out of, and all of our kids are enjoying and learning from.

Can you believe I'm 36 weeks pregnant? We leave for Boston in 15 days. I looked at the 10 day forecast for there, today, and was like...Wow. The highest high is in the 50s. There is one day with a *high* of 33. There are SNOW SHOWERS predicted 6 days before we leave. About a week ago I was on the phone with Nancy, and it was 5 there. FIVE! I don't even register 5 as a temperature; 5 is a freaking TIME. A child's age. Not a temperature.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Posing for my Baby...


1 more, similar but a better full side view )

Yes, yes I do have a bit more than a month to go. No, actually I am straightening my back as much as I can there. Yes, it does hurt. A lot, today. I sat on the floor leaning forward for far too long, folding clothes and cleaning out the kids' room, and I think my tailbone is actually padded with a layer of swelling, now.

Those are DDD breasts being dwarfed there. You can see my massively herniated (from previous pregnancies) belly button sticking out.

I keep thinking, shit...I'm going to have a 12 pound baby.
altarflame: (Jakeonthego)
First of all, I am madly in love with Jake. I don't know how to convey how incredibly affectionate he is...long squeezing hugs galore. I pick him up and he wraps his arms and legs around me and lays his head on my shoulder and squeezes, and if I'm standing or walking he'll stay that way indefinitely. I drink it in. There's also no real way to describe how EXPRESSIVE he is...his huge grins of surprised joy, his squeaky squeals of playfulness, his coy smiles of about-to-give-chase, and all those furrowed brow scowls. He says ma, da, uh-oh, hi, bye, pee, Annie, yeah, apple, cracker, Opa and there, and signs milk and water regularly, but he also shakes his head or nods, points and understands pointing, waves, groans at things he doesn't like, and if I say his name while he's nursing, he looks up at me and makes this very distinct "Hmm?" sound that just slays me. He crawls into bed between Grant and I, lays there and drifts off to sleep. I'm not kidding. We don't have to do anything, he doesn't have to nurse, he just lays down with us and goes to sleep. If I'm out here and Grant is in there already sleeping, he'll get sleepy and just go in there and lay down and drift off. He folds his hands together to pray when we sit down to eat, and yells at us, looking down at his hands, until we get the picture to do it. Then he invariably tears up whatever I've set in front of him with great gusto and no complaints. Tonight we had tacos and he's happy to chow down on ripped up spinach leaves, ground turkey with seasonings, raw tomato chunks, avocado chunks and shredded cheddar cheese. He's getting good with a spoon.

We tell him sometimes that he really needn't be so insanely cute, because we really wouldn't kill HIM even if he wasn't ;) The survival tactic of toddler cuteness is just unnecessary....though it does help when he's in the garbage, on the table or unfolding a pile of laundry for the 5th time O_o

Secondly, I'm 34 1/2 weeks pregnant. This baby is big and moving constantly - she's been acting like she's on some sort of upside down treadmill in there all day. My belly is huge and taut and I've been spending a lot of time running my hands over it in awe, today. It feels so very palpably full of baby all of a sudden, as if she had a growth spurt overnight. Though I still feel like it's Feb 28, my LJ date thingy says March 1, which makes me think...damn. I'm DUE NEXT MONTH. I'm due next month! The beginning of the month, even (well the 8th). And believe it or not, we think we have a place lined up in Boston. A 2 bedroom apartment, furnished, utilities included, laundry in the basement of the building - the landlord is FINE with us being there for one month and giving birth in the place while we're at it! How can this be? She sent us pictures tonight, it seems very clean and has hardwood floors throughout. It's practically across the street from a big nature reservation, as well, from what we can see on google maps, so how sweet is that?! The illustrious [ profile] julierocket is going to check it out and meet the landlord for us on Monday, because she rocks that way. We've spent the past few days in a total flurry of trying to (gulp..wethinkwecan wethinkwecan wethinkwecan) budget for this; trying to make a (HUMONGOUS, VERY INTIMIDATING) list of things to pack; coming up with a travel plan with mapquest, friends and relatives' houses and hotels involved; and realizing we have so much to do before we can leave. Like clean this place spotless, get an oil change, line up a temporary PATH leader, inform a dozen customers of Grant's that we'll be out of town, get a hitch installed on the van so we can rent a U-Haul tow-behind...and so on. It's starting to (dareIsay) seem really really real. Not like some pipe dream. And I'm excited. About the adventure of going to another state and having Grant with us and a little utopia for a month, about GIVING BIRTH in a safe environment with a trusted attendant who believes in me, about meeting Elise (!), about all of it. I admit I'm also starting to think how it will be mighty fine to NOT BE PREGNANT ANYMORE. Alright...I've been thinking it hourly at times. It's just getting very hard to sleep comfortably, or bend over 5 million times to pick up kid clutter throughout the day. Today it seems ok, though, largely due to my fascination with how time is flying and a really cool dress I still feel guilty for splurging on at Target (I was living in one pair of gouchos and 3 shirts that barely covered my was $20 and is just one thing, but $20 is kind of a big deal right now as we struggle to scrape together about SIX GRAND for next month :x ...)

And some personal stuff involving song lyrics that I'm not sure I'll be able to relate properly )

Tomorrow is going to be another busy day...I have to make an agenda for the "planning meeting" PATH is having this coming Tuesday, send out an email about it, A and A are due for recorder lessons and Spanish practice, and I also promised them I'd call Yoli and Melanie (to get them playdates with Kayla and Eli, respectively). I'm also on a "Throwing things away" binge trying to get this cluttered up house in order, and am supposed to see the chiropractor. As well as being scarily behind in my online classwork :x

I will leave you all with this gem from my freakish 6 year old daughter:

Annie: You know I learned today during Animal Planet that people usually swallow up to a quart of snot a day, and sometimes a lot of it ends up in your lungs because it gets in your trachea instead of your esophagus and can make you sick. But someone did a study to prove that you can be healthier if you pick your boogers and eat them, since your intestines have this bacteria that defends itself against the bad germs in the boogers and helps your immune system build up an immunity to whatever bad germs are trying to get into your body. Plus then you aren't swallowing the snot into your lungs. *looks smug*

There goes my 4 years of fighting with her to NOT EAT HER BOOGERS because it's nasty and her body's trying to get rid of that stuff, so she shouldn't put it back in O_o


Feb. 18th, 2007 03:02 am
altarflame: (hospital)
I got a phone call just after noon today, from Valerie - she's had a stroke, and is under strict orders now not to work, or travel, at all. She was heartbroken and nearly crying on the phone, saying I'm only the second person in her whole career that she's ever turned away.

I called Nancy again immediately, and it was her last day in Florida - her plane leaves early tomorrow (well,'s 3 am and I say Sunday is still tomorrow until I've gone to bed and woken up again). She agreed to meet with me this evening in Delray (a 2 hour drive), free, bring the kids, let's get to know each other.

I was full of thoughts before we left. Like, well, I was getting used to the idea of staying home. And like, well, I had to sweep a lot of things under the rug in the name of finances and Grant's customers to get used to that idea - like not being at all comfortable birthing in the house with Grant Sr, and a whole bunch of other things. So maybe this makes sense and is forcing me in the right direction. Although I obviously don't think or hope God is going around giving people strokes just for my benefit; I believe it's bigger than that and all of our purposes and destinies and meant-to-bes can be entwined in really complex ways...Anyway. Just before we left we were budgeting and thinking and it's not quite impossible, the Boston thing, just very very difficult.

On the drive there I was full of...self revelation? It's easy to put on a brave face for the internet, for my mother and for my mother in law, but really - I have a lot of fear. I've grown up seeing the screaming agony of birth played out on tv, I've come from a long legacy of cesarean deliveries, and I've been brainwashed by the medical establishment, too. There are a lot of things I know, statistically, about birth that I sometimes have a hard time really REALLY believing - I'm unteaching myself left and right here. Being on the highway to Delray made me think of being on the highway to Boston and was making me tense. Making it real. Everything, the "pressure to relax" knowing that you have to be calm and relax to progress and let your body work - I kept realizing my whole body was a knot of tension and breathing just to let it out, over and over.

Nancy was awesome. She had strawberries and almonds for the kids, and offered me the bathroom and water as soon as I walked in the door (the woman's been around some pregnant ladies). She took some time to tell us about herself and then opened up to any and all questions we could have. And after I heard about her unnecessary c-section, and then her HORRIBLE (bad episiotomy, poked and prodded nonstop, baby whisked away and poked and prodded for hours before she could see her, etc etc) hospital birth, and finally her awesome awesome homebirth and then the 5-6000 homebirths she's gone on to attend, most of them vbacs. Women who's water had been broken for days; who were 3 weeks overdue with a 12 pound baby; who were in labor for days and pushed forEVER, but then had their babies. Without any nonsense interventions. I felt so incredibly foolish explaining why I've had 4 c-sections...Because I was 18 and stupid and my OB had a 68% rate, and scheduled a pitocin induction when I was barely at term just because it was convenient and never gave it a chance to work...and then next time because he outright lied and said I'd die otherwise...and then because I couldn't find an OB/hospital to let me try and I wasn't comfortable with midwives yet and, oh yeah, that time my baby was misdated and came out premature and couldn't breathe and was in the NICU... Before I left she measured my fundal height, because we're trying to figure out about when I am due for traveling purposes, and it was so...liberating? Corny? Refreshing? She asked permission to touch my belly, she told me she was going to have to pull the waistband of my pants down, she talked to the baby. These are not things I've experienced before. The baby who's head down and on my left side as she should be, btw (not that she won't likely flip 3 more times before labor...)

The ride home was a little different. I felt good. I felt like we're all mortal and we're all going to die, and we can't really control when or where or how - but we can control the way we live our lives while we have them. The truth is I'm FAR more likely to be horribly hurt or die on the freaking highway driving the whole way to Boston and back, than in some freak birth complication, but THAT doesn't worry me at all - because it's familiar. I drive all the time. Well, women have babies all the time, too.

Having just hashed them out with Nancy, and then driving past Jackson Hospital, I kept thinking of all the different things it would be so nice to avoid - like having a needle stuck in my spine. Like not being able to just freaking SIT UP without pain for weeks. Like the whole first day of my baby's life being spent behind a closed door struggling to pee again once the catheter is out. I remembered the big old nasty hematoma on my spine, and how I couldn't even lean back in a chair for over a month without it jolting through my whole body, and forget laying on my back without my skin just crawling from the pressure and sensitivity - it's a physical memory and I felt it there like a phantom the whole way home. I was talking out how nasty it was to feel all the pressure and pulling inside of me, and the waves of intense nausea as stuff gets moved around, and the feeling when my lung got bruised with Annie, until Grant asked me to please stop because he couldn't handle it anymore on a full stomach.

And I was thinking how, on some level, it's easier for us - women who've had c-sections, I mean - to have another one and be pissed about it, than to really DO SOMETHING and not have it. Because regardless of how violated or robbed you feel or how your life was jeopardized or how your babies have suffered, you always have that little voice in the back of your mind, the what if, the Do You Want Your Baby to Die? that some nurse or OB has pulled on you. I hear so many women say that they have to have another one, nobody will let them vbac, etc etc. Women with 1 c/s, or 2. And it's like...You don't yet know what "Nobody" means. My options have shrunk in a direct inverse proportion to how badly I've wanted a natural birth.

Shari told us once in childbirth class that something people forget is that SHIT HAPPENS. Midwives are not Gods; neither are doctors. There will be the very rare freak complications that will kill a mother or a baby. They are few and far between, but women die of them in the hospital more often than out, and the bottom line is just that we're all mortal and we are not in control. She told us about a party she went to, outside in the summer with a big family reunion in attendance, and how this little boy had been running with a glass coke bottle and he tripped on a rock and fell. The bottle broke, and the glass lodged in his throat and he bled to death with two uncles holding onto him, both of whom were doctors. There is something about that kind of inevitability that gives me a warped sort of peace. There really is no point in worrying, especially when you're making the safest informed choices. I spent my whole pregnancy with Isaac having nightmares and laying awake at night, about dying in surgery. I was TERRIFIED and just KNEW I was going to freaking die on the operating table. Well, that was my ONE smooth-sailing, uncomplicated section, but my baby - who I always assumed would be fine, just possibly motherless - couldn't breathe, had tubes and wires all over - at one point it was We might have to do open heart surgery if this pulmonary artery is overactive. Life is funny like that.

I have a lot of little epiphanies, like when I remember how I was never actually SCARED and certainly never thinking of rupture, during my late miscarriage or during labor with Jake. Or when I realize that while my mom and nana had c/s, I am built like my cuban family, exactly, and they have all had babies no problem - even HUGE diabetes babies that were upwards of 15 pounds! I imagine a baby crowning and I get all giddy, and - I actually believe I can do this.

Lastly, [ profile] babyslime linked to this documentary trailer in [ profile] naturalfamily and I think it's worth watching. I will be seeing it when it comes out. The movie is called, "Pregnant in America". Click to view.
altarflame: (Default)
It is a girl. Without a doubt - we have pictures of labia. I almost couldn't believe it, as I've been trying to prepare myself for the seemingly obvious boy I'm obviously destined to have. Aside from Ananda literally jumping around the room screaming with joy when I came out and told her, and that there is a little voice in the back of my mind saying "You can buy things now...", I am relieved because girl babies typically are not quite as large as boys but mostly because girl babies are much stronger, lung wise. Whether doing a c/s or a vaginal, girl is safer. Thus far I have had ONE baby who did not have post-surgical breathing problems...and it was the girl one.

It was really hard for me to be at the center. Birth videos running, birthing women in the adjacent buildings, memories from my "failed" labor with Jake really fresh. All these pictures of newborns still gooey and just placed on women's bellies. And Shari telling me that since I've now had 4 c-sections, it's illegal for them to even do my prenatal care. I read a pamphlet set out on the reasons to vbac, and the dangers of elective repeat c/s; the list was 25 things long. It included all kinds of insane all potentially deadly compications. The list of vbac dangers is only rupture, and that rarely.

I suppose that after THE FARM turned me away, I should have been prepared for anything.

I have had a couple of people who found out I was pregnant after 4 sections in the past week ask how in the world I got a doctor (assuming I had one already) as most obs won't do more than 3 on anyone because it's too dangerous.

Shari gave me the name of a female OB who is a vbac mother herself. She cannot help me vbac, because of my history and the law, but she would "empathize with my situation and treat me with compassion". Which I DO value, even if it isn't what I want. She is affiliated with a hospital where, at a birth Shari was at, they let the woman nurse her baby right on the operating table and keep it with her during recovery. I was floored that there is any hospital that would allow that sort of thing. They are really, really urging me to have an OB so that I can go get a planned c/s (one after a labor's begun is way more likely to result in infection, and hostile hospital staff treating me really shitty, and possible legal trouble). They did treat me really shitty and cause infections, at Jackson, when I showed up after 3 days of laboring with Jake.

The ultrasound today dated me at 29w5d, and the fundal height measurement at 30 weeks. I'm glad that I had a blood test at ONE week that shows I'm actually only 27 weeks tomorrow. I've been misdated for a large baby before, resulting in Isaac's prematurity.

Two weeks ago I got a birth talisman in the mail that made me feel so good. In the past week I've picked up two new books - Active Birth and The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, both of which have helped me a bit. But they've both also stated that despite almost anyone being eligible for a vbac, an unattended one after several c-sections is just a bad idea. This was after a long, long read over statistical findings on rupture after vba2+c, that basically said after every worst case scenario something like, "But she was on her 7th pregnancy" (so am I), or "But she had had FOUR cesareans, not two or three" (oh, how reassuring). It also lists every factor that can make a vbac less likely - things like never having had a vaginal birth before, c/s for failure to progress, big huge babies, and seriously half a dozen other things that are ALL ME. Granted now, she went into why each of those factors does not PRECLUDE vbac and some women have gone on with each of them to beat the odds, but damnitt. When the most biased, crunchy, birth warrior sites and books out there still say "Unless you're Tina" it's a little disheartening.

My ultrasound today showed a head down, rear-facing baby and a placenta way up on top. The sonographer, who knew no better, went on about how she's ready to come out with no troubles. I've recently reinstated twice weekly chiropractic adjustments. And I cried the whole way home.

Sometimes I really think that the more I research and learn and know...the more deeply I'll understand how I've been screwed over and should've known better at the beginning. And I wonder if that is really good for anything but masochism and spreading the word. Grant thinks I have a responsibility to be submitting articles and essays on this business to newspapers and magazines and journals, and I'm starting to think he's right.

I feel very heavy.
altarflame: (new allfour)
But I have caught up on my friends' page now. Let's see...

-Friday I took the kids for a walk up to the grocery store, and on the way home this random guy pulled a bit ahead of us and parked at a house that's up for sale. He got out and started pacing on the sidewalk, talking on his cellphone. I paid him little attention. Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were on the sidewalk and I was pushing Jake and groceries in the stroller on the edge of the street. Close enough to talk and all, still. Anyway we get close to this guy and he starts plowing through the middle of them repeatedly in his pacing, even doing a figure 8 through them at one point, and as he turns around then I noticed he HAD HIS PENIS OUT AND WAS JACKING OFF. He leered at me, seeing me seeing all, and started walking back towards them, at which point I started screaming at him, telling him I was calling the cops, etc. He pretended he didn't speak english at that point - total bs, I could tell - and so I told him in spanish, still at full forcefull volume, and acted like I was digging in my purse for a cellphone that didn't actually exist there. He got in his truck and drove away. I was not able to get the plate number, but did call the police after arriving home anyway, with his and his truck's description. It was NOT THE FIRST COMPLAINT IN MY AREA. Ugh man. I feel like I can't take the kids for a walk or something now. Luckily he was creepy and getting in their space to an extent that A and A were majorly averting their eyes and seem to have seen nothing - they assumed he was saying "really bad stuff in spanish" on his phone, and that was why I yelled at him O_o

-On that store trip I took a cue from ariellejuliana and bough clementines, which the kids have WENT CRAZY WITH. Seriously, we've went through 6 crates so far and are working on a 7th...since Friday. Each crate has about 30-35. The amazing thing is that at our local store here, the crates are only 1.99 each. So I'm just trying to run intereference and force them to eat meals sometimes, lest they all get horrible diarrhea.
Annie: These are better than candy. They should replace candy with these.
Me: Beaming with pride.
Annie: Well, I would miss chocolate...
Me: Thinking I agree.

-Saturday we had a metrorail adventure. The kids love riding that thing.

-Sunday we finally used our Miami Seaquarium free passes. Ananda, my budding marine biologist, was totally in a state of bliss. They sat right on the wall behind railings during a dolphin show, getting splashed all the while, and the orca show was awesome for me just because I got to watch it take her breath away. Honestly though, a 7000 pound whale leaping into the freaking air is enough awesome on it's own.

-And today I have an appt at the center. I'm getting an ultrasound to check out placental placement and reassure myself that this giant draining belly of mine is not twins, but let's not be coy...I'm all aflutter to see the sex. We'll be leaving in about 30 minutes, but it's an hour each way and I'm liable to be there for an hour, so it will be awhile before I'm reporting back. I was irked that it has to conflict with PATH, but it's the only time during the week that their sonographer is available and I've (hopefully) delegated well enough to my co-leader that we won't be missed.
altarflame: (Default)
This is a list of things I would really like to accomplish in 2007. I'm not sure that it's the same as resolutions, really, more like a to-do list, but a hopeful one because a lot of it is contingent on outside forces or variables I can't forsee. And I'm not putting anything on here that is already a total given, i.e., keep all the kids fed or continue to homeschool A and A, or whatever. I'm trying to put them in priority order, starting with, "OhpleaseGodletthisbe OhpleaseGodletthisbe OhpleaseGodletthisbe" and ending with "That would be nice".

1. Have a healthy baby in a way that is free from medical and legal complications.

2. Make a decision I feel solid about, and Grant and I can both live with happily, and either convert to Catholicism or find another church that I can consider a real "church home" and feel good about taking the kids to.

3. Maintain the newly forged contact I've made with my dad's side of the family and a few olds friends, as well as REALLY keeping in touch with Nana and Pa all year long, and not just around Christmastime. Sidenote - I think I've maybe finally forgiven them for moving away.

4. Improve my math skills enough to not need remedial algebra classes, and test out of taking English 1 altogether. This requires me being proactive enough to study math quite a lot, and proactive enough to schedule a testing date and make it, for english.

5. Lose weight again like I did before Jake, after I've delivered.

6. Earn 12 more college credits, between Spring and Fall semesters combined, and with good enough grades that maybe I could actually shake off this academic probation I'm on from dropping out when Annie was a baby.

7. Start entertaining here, rather than always hoping someone or somewhere will have something entertaining going on for us to go to. A dinner party, a movie party and a Thanksgiving some relatives come to would be a good start.

8. Find an agent and/or publish my book

*it's taken me far too long to put those in order. In the end I just thought about how I'd feel if I didn't accomplish this or that, and it became a little easier.
altarflame: (uh-puh-GAH!)
For those of you who wanted to see my "Born Cuban, former Madonna and Motley Crue fan" crazy necklace, here is a pic of it )

And for those of you who have expressed interest in my belly...
Doesn't exactly scream 'not due until April', does it? )

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