Thursday, June 21, 2012

41 Weeks

41 weeks:

60 (and sometimes 90) is the new 30 around here! I am talking about minutes because ore often than not, Alice is now napping for longer than a half hour at a time, completely unassisted. Instead of scrapping together and being so grateful for any sleep she would condescend to take, I began keeping her awake longer than usual and just going for 2 naps a day (rather than the bakers dozen she would like to be taking). It is kind of like turning so far left that you eventually make a right, but lo and behold it is working. In the past week, Alice has taken more 'long' naps than she has in the past 6 months combined and I am beside myself with joy! And as a bonus, just when I thought she was about as delightful as she could ever be, our days are filled with 40% more delight- as she is more properly rested. SHe needs that rest now more than ever as well because she is a freaking hurricane when she is awake! A cat chasing, mom finding, magazine tearing, laundry pile unfolding hurricane. One of her favorite things is unstacking (and shaking) the clean diaper pile I am in the middle of folding. Another favorite thing is testing boundaries with what we call the 'danger corner'. You have one too, just around the tv where all the plugs and cords are-only our danger corner is really open because our tv is in the middle of the apartment with its back exposed and the cords are actually right by the cat toy bowl as well so it is all cables and cat spit. Alice loves sneaking over there (you can tell she knows it is frowned upon) and the other day she came across a long forgotten cat toy which, when cleaned, became her own. It is a 5" tall stuffed tuxedo cat that Tim bought as a joke because it looked like Pablo. It meows when you press its body and Alice is delighted to no end with it. The Mini P and Alice are super tight and she crawls all over the apartment with its tail in her hand dragging face first across the floor- and she wonders why they cats all run from her. 

Also in this week:
We baked Tim a Father's Day carrot cake. This photo is like an advertisement for Sloppy Baking. Look at Alice's posture! And you know that with the beaters at that angle I got batter ALL OVER the place. Whatever, it is hard to do things neatly one handed. 

We also hung around in the park all weekend because the weather was so lovely. Alice loves crawling to the edge of the blanket and pulling up the grass. 

...and then it got hot. Like 100 degree hot and we got to use the popup pool I got for just such an occasion. My mom sent Alice this adorable swimsuit and bathing cap in the nick of time. I really didn't think she would wear the cap, but she thought it was hilarious! I put it on her first and set her in front of the mirror and she stood up and got all close to it and then began laughing hysterically and hopping up and down. 

Sweet little hairs poking out the bottom. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

40 Weeks

 40 weeks:

Well, Alice's crawling is in full force. Also, her pulling up, walking around things she is holding onto and trying to stand up on her own is in full force as well. It has been like a set of dominoes falling ever since she finally learned how to roll over. Everything is going so quickly that sometimes she is just starting to do something when Tim leaves for work in the morning and by the time he gets home she has gotten it down pat. It is so amazing to watch her think about how to do things and how carefully and determinedly she gets things done. I love the way she gets down from a standing position. No one showed her, one day she was bending in half and plunking down on her amply padded diaper butt and the next day she was squatting slowly and putting one hand out first before leaning forward to get into a ready-set-crawl position. It is so carefully unfolded and with such intent. She needs to be in that crawling position as quickly as possible because she knows every second counts when she is trying to catch a cat, which naturally is her very favorite thing to do! Scraps is pretty good about it and dutifully allows Alice to pat her (though sometimes Alice grabs a fistful of fur-meOW!) and Pablo is even coming around. Simone however, is like the invisible cat around here. Somehow she has been escaping Alice's notice by continuing to do exactly the same things she used to do and not reacting to Alice's presence at all. There is a life lesson in there somewhere I suppose. Or perhaps Alice has inherited Tim's observation skills (as reflected in the Kauai'i story where Tim was asked to take a photo of a guy and a girl, but he thought it was just a guy-and the photos reflected that- because the girl was already in place and apparently so very still that even though Tim was looking right at her and her boyfriend, he didn't see her until she moved to come get the camera back from him). She seemed observant enough during this weeks photo shoot anyway, I had to really wrangle and then quickly distract her from ripping down the backdrop. Here are some outtakes:
Take one: Devious hilarious good fun.

Take 2: Rumpling the bottom and becoming momentarily distracted by the tag on her diaper.

Take 3: Such a sweet photo, but the only one from the entire Raccoon set before we had to move on to maracas. Which reminds me, I have a good raccoon story to tell on here. Perhaps for her birthday. 

Kilroy was here. 

Sweet stripes and dots

...and floral sunglasses. 

Alice getting down so sweetly and then chasing the backdrop fabric. 

Pulling up like a champ. 

We got Alice a new toy. And it is awesome. And yes, it holds my weight. 

When Alice was crawling on the carpet at the beach house she was crawling like a normal child. Here on our hardwood floor, she was had to adapt to minimize slipping. This is how it is done, folks. Alice Jones, cat wrangler. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When two became three, reposted.

Somehow, due to the ridiculousness of Blogger, I deleted Alice's birth story from the blog. I didn't even realize that it had gone into my draft folder and that I was deleting the only copy when I was trying to clean up a bit yesterday. Then at 1:30 am a bolt of realization hit me and I was so upset when I knew just what I had done. It would have been gone completely had I not remembered that my mom has been a long-term subscriber to the blog and the posts get emailed to her account-and she never, and I mean never deletes emails. So help me in order to get back to sleep, I hacked into my mom's email account and found Alice's birth story. My mom saved the day! (Mom, I know you are on vacation. Sorry to break into your email before you are even off the plane, but thanks for your habit of ignoring old emails! Most people I know delete them and if you had done that Alice's birth story would have been lost. You are the best.)

Originally posted on October 29, 2011

The Tuesday before Alice was born was a dreary day. Dark, Rainy and cold. It had pretty much been like that for the entire week actually. Or perhaps it just felt that way. I had spent the week doing nothing because I had lost my mucus plug the week before (a big sign your body is getting ready for birth) and I really didn't want to go into labor when I was at the gym or the grocery store or god forbid on the subway. So I was just hanging around the apartment trying not to drive myself crazy waiting for labor to begin. But really, on this particular Tuesday it was all I could think about. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, on and off, and was experiencing a big increase in them that day. At one point, I was standing at the window watching the rain and a very clear voice in my head whispered the words, "Tonight I am going to meet my daughter." When Tim came home he was greeted by a very quiet and thoughtful wife.

As the evening came on my Braxton Hicks contractions kept coming and I began unofficially timing them after dinner when Tim and I were on the couch watching television. Around midnight they had more of an edge to them and were becoming regular 8-10 minutes apart, so I decided to get up and walk around to see if they would stop (as BH tend to do, but real contractions don't). I hadn't said anything to Tim because I didn't want to get his hopes up. As I mentioned I had lost my mucus plug the week before, had a ton of BH contractions, and really thought that Alice would be born that night-which she wasn't. So we had already had a bit of a dry run where we blew up the birthing pool and got all excited for nothing. But he did notice that something about me was different when I began wandering around the apartment and occasionally stopping to do squats. I told him that I was just getting some exercise since I had not been to the gym since the week before. It was around midnight and knowing that early labor can take forever, I wanted to keep it to myself so perhaps at least one of us could get some sleep that night. He looked at me suspiciously but said nothing and we went to bed. After laying down for about 20 minutes or so I had to get up and go to the bathroom. Like really go to the bathroom. Ok, I'll just say it. I had the shits and was in the bathroom for about a half hour still having contractions while everything that was once in my system cleared the F out. Once again, Tim noticed that something was different. I also noticed something was different and knew for certain that we were going to meet our daughter this night. Tim called out to ask me if I was ok and I came back into bedroom answering yes, I was ok but I was without a doubt in labor.

Tim blowing up the pool during our 'dry run'.

Flashback to New Years Eve. I knew I was pregnant. But it was still days before my period was due so I decided to wait until the morning when the pregnancy hormone is more concentrated to take a pregnancy test. So I woke up at 7 am and peed on an early detection stick. There was a shadow of a line and with butterflies in my stomach I woke Tim up and told him I was pregnant. Flash forward 9 months to what had just become midnight on Wednesday September 7th. I had those same butterflies in my stomach and Tim certainly had the same look on his face as he had the morning of the New Year. It can only be described as a very excited Oh Shit face. He got up and hugged me and then I called our midwife Ellen to give her the heads up. Labor is a very slow process, the exact opposite of what Hollywood has made it, so Ellen and I talked about what I was feeling and she said to call her back when I needed to. At this point my contractions were getting a little stronger and about 6 minutes apart. I laid back down in bed, listened to a book on tape, and rested as Tim pretended to read between my contractions. I was laying on my side and would rock my hips through each one while focusing on the book I was listening to.

We had downloaded an app on the iPad to time my contractions and I would tell Tim at the beginning and end of each one and he would hit the start and stop buttons. The app would record the length of and between each contraction. It was great to have the actual times to tell Ellen and super great to have a job for Tim to do. I can only imagine what he was going through during my labor but I know it had to be tough for him. Tim is such a kind, empathetic person and had been amazing through my pregnancy. He was supportive and sympathetic and really interested in what I was learning and would share with him. I am so thankful that he was involved, and happy to be involved-but I knew early on that I would need to go through labor with myself, by myself. I had been telling Tim for the past 9 months that I did not want him fussing over me when I was in labor as he tries to do when I am sick. He is thoughtful and considerate and these wonderful qualities are totally wasted on me when I am not feeling well. I just internalize and power through and can't bear being fussed over. The poor man had to fight every kind instinct in his body so he wouldn't get bawled out by an angry pregnant lady. We had been having discussions for months about how he would have to try to leave me alone (difficult for him) so I could focus and how I would have to try to ask him for help and support when I needed it (difficult for me).

After about half an hour I got up to go to the bathroom again, only this time to throw up. In spite of these super exciting bathroom trips, things were really going well. I mean I hate having the shits and I hate throwing up, but honestly I felt great. During my pregnancy I had really been trying to shed the fear I had surrounding labor and delivery. For whatever reason (Hollywood's version, horrific birth stories people tell you, self doubt, etc), there is a lot of anxiety and tension in our society about giving birth and I really wanted to get my mind straight before having Alice. I wanted to be excited about meeting my child, not fearful of something going wrong or anxious about the pain I was going through. And beforehand, you really don't know how you will feel. You never know how you will react when things get primal. It is difficult to plan for the unknown in terms of coping techniques and whatnot and personally I think the best prep I did was killing the fear I had about giving birth. I can honestly say that fear was probably the only emotion I did not feel at all the day Alice was born.

At this point my contractions were stronger and closer together. I laid down in the bathroom for a while but eventually had to turn off my Audiobook and pace around the apartment. We decided that it would be a good time to re-arrange the furniture in the bedroom so we could fit the birthing pool and start getting it filled up. As Tim was setting up I called Ellen again to update her. It was around 3:30 am and sometime in the past hour things had gotten to the point where I had focus on breathing through the contractions. I was moaning/ chanting these OOOooo sounds to remind myself to visualize what was happening during the contractions. I was concentrating on my body changing and opening. When I was on the phone with Ellen I had to set it down during the contractions so I could work through them. They were around 3 minutes apart and we agreed that once the pool filled up I could get in and see how things felt. I had progressed really quickly and intensely but getting in the birthing pool too early can slow things down, so if that happened I should get back out and keep moving around. She talked to Tim and told him to call her back when the sound of my moans changed. She told him he would hear it in my voice as I transitioned into active labor and she would come over.

It is so difficult to move when you are 9 months pregnant and being weightless and able to move around quickly and with ease in the water was the best thing ever. In my eyes everything was happening in 3 minute intervals. The time between contractions was painless and I was able to snap back into my normal self and talk to Tim like nothing unusual was happening. He was sitting on the edge of our bed in the dim bedroom and giving me sips of water. I was on my knees with my arms out of the tub holding his hand, rocking my hips, moaning my OOOooo's and visualizing my body giving way for Alice. I remember having such moments of peace after each contraction and being so thankful that we were at home, together, and alone. There were no interruptions, absolute quiet, and I had no inhibitions about what I was doing or the noises I was making. After a short while I had one contraction in particular that sent a bolt of energy directly up my spine and I knew Tim had heard it in my voice. Without a word he got up and called Ellen to come over.

Me, in labor.

From that contraction onward, I really had to focus on catching my breath between them. It was around 4:30 am when Ellen arrived and Tim had to leave the room to let her in. I'm certain he thought he wasn't doing much but for that brief period he was out of the room, I was lost. My rhythm shook completely and I have never been happier to see him than I was the second he came back in our bedroom. My contractions were 2 minutes apart and radiated through my entire body. I had to shiver each one off afterwards just in time to begin another. Ellen quietly set everything up and joined Tim at the edge of the birthing pool. Between contractions she listened to Alice's heartbeat and took my blood pressure. I had tested positive to group B strep and although I had gone through a treatment earlier that week, I went into labor before we were able to test again. As I progressed, Ellen gave me an IV of antibiotics just incase. I was still in the pool and didn't really know if my water had broken. Around 6 am I had two contractions in a row where I felt the urge to push and asked Ellen to check my dilation before I did anything about it. I was a bit nervous to have her check because although my labor so far had been quick, it was no walk in the park. I had a horror flash of her checking me and saying, 'Ooops, Lauren you are only 2cm! I'm going back home to bed.' But when she checked, sure enough I was 10 cm and it was time to start pushing!

I was really excited to push. I felt like I would be good at it and I was so looking forward to having the whole ordeal over with and meeting Alice in a matter of minutes. I looked at Tim's face and thought that was the last time I would look at him only as my husband, that the next time I looked up that he would also be the father of my child. As fate would have it, things did not go quickly. My contractions stayed around 2 minutes apart and with every one I was giving it all I had. After being in the tub for 2 hours already my knees were getting sore from rocking around and my wrists hurt from leaning forward. We put a towel under my knees to cushion the bottom of the pool. I changed positions to shorten the birth canal and widen my hips. I pushed and really expected something to happen, but it felt like nothing was happening. Ellen was monitoring Alice's heartbeat constantly during this time and quietly giving me helpful suggestions about positions and breathing. After every contraction I would push and be genuinely confused that nothing was changing. I breathed and yelled when I pushed, more out of frustration than pain. Frustration that things were going so slowly. I had a six-pack before I got pregnant! I took care of myself while I was pregnant, eating right and going to the gym! I couldn't believe it was taking so long. I was so exhausted at this point, I had nothing but water since dinner the night before (though I had thrown that up) and I was completely unprepared for this part of labor taking so long. In my mind, this should have been the quick part. I got my hopes up when I reached down and felt something soft but it turned out to be the bag of waters- which had never broken. Ellen was assuring me in her gentle, soothing voice, that Alice's heartbeat was strong with no sign of distress and things were definitely moving, that it wouldn't be much longer. For me, it was forever. With each contraction I was pushing with all my might, using the full strength of every muscle in my body, directing my energy down to give birth to my child. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to make Tim a dad. I wanted this to be over. I knew that it was taking too long, that every minute longer it took Alice's heartbeat was in more danger of dropping. I knew that if that happened we would have to call an ambulance and transfer to the hospital for an emergency C-section. I lost faith in my body and would have ripped myself open with my own hands to help Alice out safely. I was exhausted and frustrated and so confused that this was the part that was taking so long. I didn't know how I could be doing anything differently, more efficiently, or more completely. So I just kept trying, hoping that something would give and the next contraction would be the one that would bring my daughter to me. I imagined every breath I pulled in was one I was passing to her. I was holding Tim's arm and Ellen was softly encouraging me that I was so close, that she was almost here. And then I noticed that they were prepping the room to welcome her. Getting a heating pad ready, towels nearby, the camera, etc and I knew it was almost over with. With the next contraction I pushed with the force of a thousand selves and didn't stop until Alice was out, on her own for the first time in her life.

It was 8:01 am and as the room brightened Alice Parker Jones made her way into the world. My water never broke. She was born in the caul, after 2 hours of pushing, with her right arm up over her left shoulder like she was scratching an itch. She broke her own bag of water with that arm, the arm that had made me push so hard for so long. Ellen helped her out and passed her back under my legs so I could pick her up. Seeing her for the first time as I pulled her up out of the water and onto my chest was unbelievable. After all that frustration and energy, my hands were steady and my heart was absolutely huge. Tim was behind me as I sat back with Alice in my arms and he had poured over with tears. She didn't cry though, she just found our faces and stared right back into our eyes as she took her first breath. To be in the presence of a soul beginning it's life is something I will never have the words for.

Alice Parker Jones
Born September 7th at 8:01am
7lbs 9oz, 19"
(with a stubborn right arm)

Monday, June 11, 2012

And This

One of the reasons the previous posts were so delayed was I was having issues uploading videos. In the end everything was taking so long that I decided to just post the vacation pics and the videos that actually did upload and simply move on. But then, lo and behold the video I was having problems with decided to upload here instead. So, I present Alice at the Beach!

39 Weeks

39 weeks:

My brain melted. I should say, what was left of my brain melted. I have rarely had more than 2 hours sleep together in 9 months and it is finally beginning to wear on me. I think you can tell from the above photos just what kind of day/week I was having with my darling darling. We got back (surprisingly great flight home, third time's a charm) and decided to make some changes to our sleeping arrangements. I am always trying to get to the root of Alice's issues with sleep and after meeting constant dead ends (is she too cold? Too hot? Too full? Hungry? Etc) we are attempting to mix things up a bit and see if she just needs more space. Previously she was in the bed with us and that worked great for a long time. Then she began rusting and I noticed that she would sleep more peacefully if I had a few inches between her and I at night but she still needed to be close by because of 'the pinky'. So we moved her crib into our room, set it up on the same level as our mattress and saddled it along my side so I could reach over and settle her when she woke. And she just kept waking. In an effort to test whether my proximity to her is causing some of the waking, we decided to move her crib a bit further away from my side of the bed. We have a large semi-walled walk-in closet in our bedroom-the only room with a door in our apartment- and it is the quietest room in the joint (oh New York traffic). Don't feel all 'cupboard under the stairs' sorry for her, it is really more of an alcove than anything else and we dressed it up all nice. But boy, oh boy the issues this had caused!
As it turns out, I just may be no cry-it-out mama. To each their own. I just can't do it. You know those dreams where something is happening and you try to scream only it comes out silent and you can't get anyone to help you no matter how hard you try to yell? That is what I imagine cry-it-out feels like. Like it or not (and believe me I don't like it) crying is a babys' only method of communication and far be it from me to judge how urgent Alice considers a situation (though we are trying to teach her more appropriate judgement skills). It may seem like 'hey, you are just in your crib with your special bunny and your papa and I are just watching Friends in the other room, why are you nearly paralyzed with fear and anxiety?' But to her, it is that fear and anxiety- and with cry-it-out it is also the frustration of not being able to communicate those feelings to the one person (or two people) that can actually help you. So anyway, as cross-eyed with exhaustion as I am, we are trying to pursue different methods of helping Alice sleep.
It is probably a good thing that I am a no cry-it-out-er because from what I have seen from Alice she would loose her shit in a real big way. There have been some times in the past few days where I have had to put her in the crib and walk away from her. Sometimes to tag Tim in, sometimes to go to the bathroom or whatever but you would think that I am packing a bag and leaving for Denmark never to return. If I even turn my back on her when she is in the crib she becomes inconsolable with misery and abandonment. It is not to be believed! If Tim comes in to take over trying to get her to bed (sometimes she simply will not stop being delightful for me) she grabs onto me with all her might and begins crying even before he touches her because she knows I am going to leave the room. The day after this happened she wouldn't let me out of her sight and suddenly we were back in the newborn days when I couldn't put her down. The emotional fall out from even these tiny bits of separation is so monumental to Alice that I can't even begin to imagine the consequences of well-meaning and temporary desertion. So anyway, we are continually trying and it is very two steps forward and one step back only with land mines all around you. The good news is that everyday, whether what we are doing is helping or we are getting nowhere, her waking time is really delightful! She is so amazingly curious! She is also so strong and coordinated and cautious and so much else. It is so much fun being around her and watching her be amazed that she 'gets' waving and seeing her joy that she can notice a water bottle across the room and get it for herself-only to be distracted by a cat on the way over and change direction entirely and end up in the kitchen and find where I keep her toys in there and be so happy to see her duck when she wasn't expecting it. She is loving her newfound freedom! And yes, we are trying to tucker her out-always thinking of sleep-zzzzzz.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

38 Weeks and a Vacation

38 Weeks:

We changed the photo format this week from laying on the back to sitting. The reason? This:

I suspect this is will be a permanent change (well, until Alice is walking). Anyway, our trip. Alice began crawling 4 days before we left for the beaches of NC and I was super excited to see how quickly she would really get going. The house we rented with our friends had carpeting (we are hard wood here) and I thought that would help give her that added oomph she needed to find her stride. What I didn't expect was the speed bumps we would run into along the way. I suppose it began with the flight down there. I should have known something was up when Alice was inexplicably, a perfect flier. I mean 5 gold stars, absolutely flawless flight behavior! AND we had one of those loud, scary flight attendants. Seriously, it was as if Ozzy Osbourne were a tranny performing a one-woman show in Las Vegas loosely based on the life and times of a long-term flight attendant. Don't get me wrong, she was sweet and she loooved Alice, but there was blue eye shadow, tire track eye liner and long red nails and when you are a baby that is a LOT to deal with when it comes at ya. At one point Alice was sleeping like an angel and the flight attendant actually choose that moment to make her way back to us and start chatting me up about the baby. Alice woke up, simply gave her a dreamy smile while I used my quietest voice ever to signal to the lady that thanks for your interest, but now just isn't the time to have a conversation and then Alice went right back to sleep as soon as she left! When we landed everyone around us told us how wonderful she was-smiles all around. I was flabbergasted. But once we got to the beach house (in front of like, 10 of Tim's family members) Alice just went apeshit. Screaming, that high pitched ouchy kind of screaming, purple face and to top it off- a complete refusal to nurse for about 8 hours. She finally went to sleep and I had to sneak back in the bedroom and trick her into nursing (a necessity since I had not brought my pump) when she was in light sleep and her instincts took over. But when she woke up a few hours later (long nap? My third clue) she felt hot. To cut a long story short, we had a trip to Urgent Care and Alice had an ear infection which we treated with Amoxicillin since we had a return flight to think of and I didn't want anything to hurt her hearing on the way back home. The funniest part though was filling our prescription. We went to CVS or something and I was going to wait in the car with Alice since we had stripped her down to her diaper at the doctors and I didn't want to piss her off further by putting her pjs back on. So Tim goes in wearing typical beach attire, longer cut off jeans ( I hate to use the word jorts here, but they totally are) and a tank top. He fit right in for the area, as he grew up there and him alone was nothing to look at. I brought the white trash to our vacation when I came in wearing cuttoffs and a semi sheer tshirt over my bathing suit with a baby wearing only a diaper on my hip. We were like feral versions of ourselves, the only thing classing us up was Alice's cloth diaper. 
Let me tell you though, I am super impressed with how stoic Alice was when she was sick. She was the saddest thing in the world though to look at. Droopy, glassy eyes, expressionless face, listlessness. My poor baby, all she wanted to do was cling to my chest and be bounced on the yoga ball, barely taking advantage of the traction she could have had on the carpeting. After the initial refusal to nurse which had me panicked, it was all she would do (she would not eat), which had me panicked that  Crap, I hope I make enough milk still. I shouldn't have worried though, the above photos were taken when she was feeling a bit better after several days and look at her gut hanging over her diaper! This baby girl is doing just fine. She also got her spunk back (clear in that last photo) and was loving the beach. Gidget goes to Wilmington, I swear. 

Do I have to say it? Ladies and gentleman, photoshop by Tim Jones!

Straight chillin' on Mama's legs, water in hand and leg in the air. 

Entertaining the entire room.

(insert wolf whistle here)


Alice and Emmy began their vacationship in matching tanks courtesy of my mom. May it be the first of many!

Alice, Emmy and my niece Harper. Is that beanbag chair? Is it 1986?

Fearless in the sand and surf. 

My baby was born in the caul. According to fable this makes her drownproof. It also may mean she has control over the farmlands in her area. Whatever. 

Worn out.