Vale at 9 Months

Vale enjoyed playing with her buddy Sienna when we went to visit Matt & Jess in Arvada, CO. On this trip, she thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors, the grass, time by the lake, and discovered her love of slides. She enjoys climbing up slides, though she’s a bit less certain about the sliding down part. She was slightly less cooperative on the plane this time, but still slept most of the way there and back.

 

Overall, she is quite social and enjoys interacting with other babies and people. She had a blast at a couple of birthday parties for her buddies recently.

Vale has learned to like the water a bit more: she enjoys splashing during baths and playing in the hot tub/pool. She was less fond of putting on a bathing suit and being slathered with sunscreen, but the fun times that followed appeared to be worth it, as she had a great afternoon playing in the water at her cousins’ birthday party.

She detests shoes, and broke down in a tearful demonstration of melodrama when we tried to put some cute, sparkly, silver shoes on her feet. She doesn’t walk, and thus doesn’t really need them anyway, though she has stood unassisted a couple of times and just might be walking soon.

She has proven to be an active baby, and hates being confined. If we don’t let her crawl around and explore, she gets extremely frustrated. She’s also a bit stubborn – with shoes, solid foods, hats, and bottles. In the solid food department, we are making some progress though – she regularly eats yogurt now, and has taken a few bites of mozzarella.

Vale at 6 Months

Vale spent her 6-month birthday in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. She did not enjoy being dunked in the cold ocean water, but loved meeting friends on the plane and experiencing new sights.

She is increasingly mobile, and loves to scoot, turn, flip over, and put things into her mouth. She is able to sit upright in her booster chair, but gets bored after a while if she does not have a toy to keep her pre-occupied. She likes listening to numbers in mandarin and looking at ABC flashcards. These activities always bring a smile to her face.

She is still stubborn as ever about drinking milk out of a bottle, and her parents question whence this trait came.

She babbles constantly, including at 4:30 a.m. on occasion, which apparently is just a good a time as any for riveting conversation. She still laughs infrequently, and her sense of humor seems unpredictable (it may have been funny to her yesterday, but it won’t necessarily be funny today or tomorrow). When she does laugh, it’s a sort of a “heeeh heh heh” smirk/chuckle reminiscent of George W.

She has started paying more attention to her cat sisters, and occasionally reaches out for a pet (or a fistful of fur!), so they continue to be relatively wary and suspicious of her.

Little V Makes Her Entrance

Little V was born on September 2, 2017 after 30 hours of labor on Labor Day weekend (ha!). I say 30, which includes only the labor that required concerted physical and mental effort, but I was having contractions since Monday and she wasn’t born until Saturday morning. The total number of hours is only useful for satisfying morbid curiosity.

I noticed a friend on Facebook had a recent home birth. She posted about her 45 hour labor, which she counted from first contraction until delivery. Well, if I did that I could literally claim like 100 hours of labor. In sharing her birth story on Instagram, she was glowingly positive but felt the prolonged labor altered her plans and her mindset such that she felt deprived of the experience of falling in instant love with her son. Apparently other women with negative labor and delivery experiences report feeling similarly robbed, but I’m not the type for falling in love at first sight anyway so I can’t say I relate.

When I left off my last post, I had seen the doc in the morning at 2 cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, and my contractions had started to speed up on Thursday night, probably in part as a result of the membrane sweep. By 11:59 p.m., they started to become seriously painful enough to be the real thing, and we started our Hypnobirthing skills, exercises, meditations, and tools. I felt most of the contractions in my low back/sacral area, which has been a completely new sensation for me, as I’ve never had any significant back pain my entire life! Until contractions started, low back pain was something totally foreign to me, and the sensations of being hammered in the tailbone were quite awful. Husband was totally amazing with pressing on my back at the right times, reminding me to eat, and lightly massaging my back. After about 3 hours, the contractions were coming faster than the 5-1-1 rule, and we went to the the hospital around 3:00 a.m.

The hospital ride was uncomfortable to say the least, and I tried to continue breathing and moving on all fours in the backseat during the 25 minute ride. Unfortunately, when we got to the hospital, we were surprised to find I was still only 2 cm dilated, despite the intensifying contractions and hours of seeming progress. They sent me home, and advised me to try and sleep. I declined Ambien, as at this point, I was tired enough, but my major problem was pain. I have never needed help sleeping, as I am a champion sleeper.

At home, I tried to put my champion sleeping skills to work. I took a couple of Tylenol PM and we “slept” in 5-minute chunks between contractions until the late morning. Husband had equally poor sleep because he was amazing enough to wake up every few minutes to massage my back. Not wanting to risk being sent home from the hospital again, we continued the home labor activities until late afternoon and returned to the hospital around 4:30 p.m.

The good news was by the time we went to the hospital for round two, I was 7 cm dilated. My water had not broken yet and the midwife observed I had a bulging amniotic sac. The bad news was I stayed at 7 cm for literally eight more hours. I think I probably stopped keeping track of the time at this point, as it was too devastating. The midwife explained the bulging sac may be blocking the baby’s head from descending, and suggested the option of breaking the water to allow things to speed up. We considered it and in the mean time, Husband motivated me and walked me around the hall twice, and helped me breathe through some contractions on the birthing ball. There didn’t appear to be much change after these efforts and we decided to go ahead with breaking the water 1-2 hours later. The pace did pick up indeed, along with the severity of contractions.

Yet, the bumps in the road were not over for us. I pushed for 2-3 hours (who’s counting?), in different positions, including squatting, on all fours, on my side, with a squat bar and Rebozo. I ended up pushing the traditional way and could not help but constantly feel like I could not take much more. I found comfort in growling like an animal to control my breath (but my throat hurt the whole next day).

After being encouraged that I was “very close” and just a “few” pushes away (and boy, did I need the motivation at this point!), Baby V was born at 6:00 a.m. Again, I don’t know about “instant love” but it was a very overwhelming, exciting, and incredible feeling when I saw her emerge from my body. I baked a little hooman! Holy shit! As soon as they placed her on my chest, it was just as a friend had told me – all the pain and discomfort leading up to it became negligible.

I previously thought having a whole baby come out of my vagina was going to be the most painful and difficult part, but as it was happening, I observed it mostly felt like an uncomfortable stretching that slightly burned. It was the contractions that continued to be totally killer. Maybe I got lucky and had a baby with a smaller head. I didn’t tear, but had some mild uterine bleeding and received some Pitocin and Cytotec. Afterwards, our nurse, who by now was accustomed to me refusing all kinds of meds, came by to persuade me to take pain medications. To her relief, I did not put up any resistance to a some Ibuprofen.

Honestly, these were some of the most miserable hours of my life, but they were met with great reward. After this experience, I’m also fairly convinced Husband is the best husband in the world.

 

Week 38

Monday

I woke up 3 or 4 times to pee the night before, and the 4th time, I think my body was like, “Oh, you keep waking up. I guess you don’t really want to sleep, then!” and I was unable to fall asleep for over an hour. It was pretty lame and I was pretty grouchy and tired all Monday so after work, I completed a short prenatal yoga focusing on leg and core strength, did some meditation practice, and we ate leftovers for dinner.

Tuesday

I woke up 4 times to go pee the night before, but at least I had no issues falling back asleep each time. Anyway, it was still a tiring day and I was not capable of much beyond some yoga. I did a power yoga video, and called it a day. It was actually pretty hard.

Wednesday

I drank my regular 80 or so ounces of water a day but did not drink beyond two sips of liquid after 8:00 p.m. the night before and only had to wake up twice to pee! Victory is mine! It was a good morning. We had a doctor’s appointment and it was all good news. Fetus is still head down despite her totally insane movements that make me feel like she’s doing acrobatics, grating on my spine, and trying to punch a hole through my uterus. Again, I think of aliens inhabiting people’s bodies and trying to burst out, like this:

Unfortunately, the decadent eating and Taiwanese bakery treats caught up with me and I somehow gained 2 pounds overnight. Literally. I was 139.6 pounds on Tuesday morning, and 141.6 pounds Wednesday morning, which made me really irritable as my thoughts immediately floated to thigh cheese. The good news is, in the absence of freakish weight gain in the next 3 weeks, I should still fall within the recommended weight gain range, and will be successful in heeding my mother’s warning to avoid gaining 45 pounds as she did.

I went to Lazy Acres for lunch to switch things up a bit, and had an amazing salad with salmon poke, beautiful purple radishes, beets, peas, garbanzo beans, sweet peppers, and greens. Yeah yeah yeah. Raw food is so unbelievably delicious sometimes, especially in summertime.  I have not been very fond of cooked salmon since eating it while having morning sickness, but that slight distaste has not translated into the raw version. I thoroughly enjoyed the buttery, cool, cubes of salmon in my salad and savored the lovely texture.

Thursday

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and could not sleep for 2 hours, so that blew balls. This day sort of sucked so I treated myself by skipping my workout to go shopping after work. I tried to return some baby clothes, but they said I had to exchange the clothes that day and use store credit. The whole point of returning the clothes was because I believe we have more than we need and I did not want to buy more clothes without really knowing how many of each type of clothing is necessary, so this was a fruitless endeavor. I browsed some winter coats and was enamored by this faux suede, faux fur-lined hippie vest,  but it was $32! As if!

I also looked at some baby accessories, but the only thing I found useful was a pair of infant sunglasses, which were $10. They were tortoiseshell patterned and cute as hell, but I was like fuck this… $10 is like what I pay for my own adult sun glasses the fuck am I going to pay $10 for infant sunglasses? Ridiculous. No!

Later in the evening, I mixed some henna powder to prepare for use. The directions I found online said it may take 24-48 hours for the dye to release. We’ll see if I can execute this successfully.

Friday

The no liquids after 8:00 p.m. thing really does work. Only woke up twice to pee again, which I consider the second win of the week. I wake up feeling like a rock every morning because my bones feel tight and heavy. I also found stretch marks on the underside of the left side of my belly which was really sad and awful.

I was angry and and sad so I did some sprints, followed by triceps dips and then some prenatal yoga focusing on leg strength.

We don’t have any more major baby preparations or purchases to make, but I am trying to squeeze in some more piano, another massage, and a pedicure before she comes. My wonderful husband has asked me if there are any fun things I’d like to do before the due date, but La Traviatta and Magic Flute aren’t playing at the opera this season, I can’t find any recent Swan Lake performances, and anything else I can think of probably involves drinking. Regardless, it will be nice just to take it easy and spend some time together over the next two weekends.

 

Dream

When your sleeping breath heaves out a tropical breeze

Whispering across the steady streams of my back the waves of my spine

The warm rhythm of ripples does not end until I am in a dream of

Hot white sand on my thighs palms rustling behind

And the cerulean crystal expanse before us is urging us to rise with the sun in paradise

So I blink

To find my lonely flesh

Stale without you

Bristling at the rain

Sinking under the weight and ash of the sky

Emerald Evening

The boat is aglow with firefly lights and with every slow deliberate breath

They are floating past the dock where just a change of mind ago they sat by the fire, kissing cigars

While she threw dull smiles at the red flames, unwound unrequited attachments,

And left someone else behind in the rainforest daydreams

The barge of drifting lights and youth is swimming in circles

Creating a breeze that makes her dress dance like a sea creature with pink tentacles

Behind the crystal of her champagne glass, his eyes are green in the dimness of this yacht and in the morning

She’ll notice they are an unfamiliar slate color

She looks back to see the fire is dead at the dock and wonders if she has been here before