Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Elliott's Birth Story

Elliott at 3 days old

Kyle and I had been planning on having another baby since Isaac turned one, but when we discovered in April that we were going to have Baby #2 at the end of October, we were surprised. Who knew it would happen so soon! 

Since Isaac had been born exactly on his due date, I was expecting the second baby to come on time or a little earlier. In the end, he showed up a day late (his own perfect timing!) at 10:22 p.m. on October 28, 2019. 

The second time around was nothing like the first, when I experienced two nights of unproductive contractions followed by 12 hours of the real thing. This time there was hardly any indication that a baby was coming at all until he got here! 

I went to the doctor at 1:00 p.m. because my water was (very very slowly) breaking. She confirmed it, and sent me right on to the hospital, thinking I would need to be monitored from the get-go. I wasn't having any pain at all, and I was so mad because I was sure I would be sitting in a hospital room all night doing nothing. (I was expecting a repeat of what happened with Isaac.)

So we got to the hospital around 3:30 p.m., did all the check-in things, and got settled into a room. I was bored because nothing much was happening, so Kyle and I went outside to walk around. However, once in the fresh afternoon air and the sunshine, things started picking up. It was about 5:00 or 5:30 p.m., and every time a contraction came, it was a little stronger than the one before. Then they got to the point where I couldn't talk through them at all.

Back in the hospital room (around 6:30 or 7:00), I put on my iTunes "Party Mix" from 2010 and we started using all our tricks from Isaac: TENS machine, birthing ball, and lots of focused breathing. The whole time I was in shock that things were progressing so quickly, but Kyle was right with me at every step, telling me it was all going the way it was supposed to. 

When the midwife came a few minutes later, she gave me the OK to get into the birthing pool, which was exactly what I wanted to do. Sinking into that warm water was such a relief from the intensity of the previous contractions. The overhead lights were off and Christmas lights were strung up for mood lighting, making the soulless hospital room much more cozy. The two nurses accompanying me were kind and supportive, and Kyle, who had joined me almost immediately in the pool, was a physical and emotional rock throughout the entire labor. 

All in all, I think I was in the tub for about two and a half or three hours before Elliott was born (time ceases to mean much while you're in labor). It was definitely uncomfortable towards the end, but luckily the pain seemed to peak and never got any worse. 

Right before it was all over, I had a flashback to Isaac's birth: five people telling me five different things about how to breathe through pushing, and the no-nonsense doctor sternly telling me to lay on my back during delivery. This time, the midwife hardly said anything but encouraging phrases, telling me I knew what to do and I could do it. As it turns out, I did. Without any intervention at all, Elliott Wilder came into the world and turned our little family into a family of four. 

Catch Up

Last time I wrote Kyle and I had moved to Michigan. I wrote two blog posts while I was up there, but they are both too damn depressing to share, so I never published them.

A year later, I'm writing to say that we have moved back to North Carolina. We bought a house in Greensboro in April and are now back in the South. I've met a lot of new people and gotten reacquainted with old friends. And we had a baby in October. That's what I really wanted to write about, the baby, in this next post . . .

Friday, November 30, 2018

Displaced (Of Our Own Accord)

While the world outside is transitioning from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Kyle and I are finding ourselves transients, waiting for some stability to come back into our lives. We haven't had a normal day since early November (or maybe even October), and we probably won't have another one until January. I'm writing this post from my mom's house in Winston-Salem, where I'm staying with our one year old son, while Kyle is at a hotel in Charleston, WV with our two cats.

Let me explain.

We first got the idea to move out of North Carolina in February, when we were lamenting not having family close enough by to watch Isaac when we needed to. Over the next six months, we debated moving to Fort Wayne, IN (where Kyle's brother lives), South Bend, IN (where my sister lives), Clarkston, MI (where Kyle's parents live), and Lapeer, MI (where Kyle's stepbrother lives). But one by one, they were all shot down for various reasons. Instead, we found ourselves drawn more and more to another city where, ironically, none of our family lives: Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But the more we thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. The craft breweries!  The hip restaurants! The culture! Activities for children! Top medical facilities! Basically, Durham, but without the high rent, and with better schools and a lot more snow.

So Grand Rapids it is.

However, moving across the country is not, as you would imagine, a walk in the park. Deciding what to keep and what to throw away, which movers (if any) to use, what to do with the cats and the baby (keep them?), and a host of other questions all had to be answered.

Here what has been going on recently:

  • July - November: packing
  • Monday, November 12: POD delivered to our house to start loading. Four days of solid rain put us a few days behind schedule. 
  • Wednesday, November 21: Almost everything loaded (95% by Kyle while I kept the baby out of the way). Also, my last day at work.
  • Thursday, November 22: To my mom's house for Thanksgiving
  • Friday, November 23: Back to our house for more packing and cleaning
  • Saturday, November 24: Packing & cleaning (thank you Jaimie & Chris for the help!)
  • Sunday, November 25: Our last night at home, sleeping on a mattress on the floor with our remaining belongings in suitcases
  • Monday, November 26: POD taken away to start its journey north. Kyle and Isaac and I go to my dad's house to say goodbye.
  • Wednesday, November 28: Back to Durham for more cleaning. I take Isaac to stay at Jaimie's house for the night. Kyle stays in Durham to wrangle the cats. 
  • Thursday, November 29: Kyle starts the journey to Michigan with two cats (a journey which demands a separate post).
The plan for the next week, Lord willing, is: 
  • Friday, November 30: Kyle arrives in Grand Rapids with two cats, leaving them in the new house to get settled.
  • Saturday, December 1: Kyle flies to Raleigh. I pick him up. We go stay with a friend in Apex. 
  • Sunday, December 2: Kyle and I, for the last time, go to our house in Durham to meet our landlord for the final walk-through. Then we start the journey north, stopping in Knoxville, TN to stay with a friend. 
  • Monday, December 3: Drive from Knoxville, TN to Indianapolis, IN to stay with another friend. 
  • Tuesday, December 4: Drive from Indianapolis to our new house in Grand Rapids.
  • Saturday, December 8: Kyle's family comes to help unload the POD.
  • The rest of December: Get the house together and boxes unpacked. 
Whew. I'm exhausted just thinking about all this. I'll keep you posted how things go once we arrive. In the meantime, we're just going to have to continue living out of suitcases and doing the best we can. 

Monday, September 24, 2018


How many times have Kyle and I googled "why isn't my baby sleeping" or "best bedtimes for x month old" or "how long should my baby's naps be?" Any time Isaac isn't sleeping the way we wish he was (you know, like at all), we spend the next hour frantically looking up what we're doing wrong and why our baby is so bad. And everywhere we get conflicting advice about the best way to do it.

So what we've been doing is following our hearts: our sweet, pliable, attachment parenting, bleeding hearts. From the time Isaac was about three months old, he slept in bed with us, cozied up either between me and Kyle or between me and the wall. I was able to nurse him whenever he needed to, cuddle up with him when he slept, and attend to his every need right on cue.

But now Sweet Little Baby is over 10 months old, 20 pounds, and not the calmest sleeper in the world. He likes to thrash around in the middle of the night, kick me in the stomach, twist around, babble in his sleep, nurse constantly, and generally keep us up all night. Both for naptimes and at bedtime, Kyle or I would either rock him or nurse him (in my case, not Kyle's) to sleep, and gently transfer him to the crib, where he would either continue to sleep peacefully, or where he would immediately wake up screaming until you started the whole 30, 45, or 60 minute routine again.

I love my baby, but evenings were getting very difficult.

So Kyle and I finally bit the bullet. Last Sunday night, I left the house at 6:00 p.m. and let Kyle start the first night of the dreaded Sleep Training. When I came back at 9:00, the baby was asleep, but it had been an evening fraught with tears and screaming. The next night I stayed in the house, where I tried to keep it together as Isaac fought sleep for about half an hour. Kyle and I had decided in advance we weren't going to let him cry for more than ten minutes at a time, so the evening was spent in ten minute intervals. By Tuesday, though, Isaac went down with just a murmur of protest, and since then, he's in his crib all night, usually from 6:30 p.m. - 6:30 a.m. He seems to be taking it very well: he's in a great mood by morning and is his same bubbly, happy baby self during the day.

Honestly, though, this transition has been really rough on me. I know Isaac is old enough to realize that a) his parents love and care for him deeply even if they don't sleep beside him at night, and b) he needs to learn to sleep on his own (otherwise he'll be rooting around for a boob when he's 10 years old). But even though he's sleeping better, it's still been hard listening to him cry for the 3-5 minutes it takes for him to settle himself down. And it feels very empty at night without a little warm baby body right beside me (no offense to Kyle). Plus not nursing all night has been a hard adjustment on my own body. I may have cried more this past week than the baby has -- tears of guilt for not sleeping with him any more, of sadness for missing him when he's asleep, and of mourning for knowing that my baby is growing up.

In fact, I felt so bad the other night that when Isaac woke up crying at 12:30 a.m., I immediately rushed across the hall to bring him back to our bed. I held on to his little body and snuggled up to him, confident that he'd fall blissfully back asleep now that Mama was holding him.

That is not what happened.

Instead, he did exactly what he was doing two weeks ago: trying to nurse while lying on his stomach, rolling around, sitting up while still asleep, and everything else he could imagine so that Mommy and Daddy didn't get more than a few snatches of sleep the whole night long. My nostalgia for cosleeping quickly waned as I realized this baby of mine is about to enter toddlerhood, and is not the little 12-pound baby of a few months ago.

Logically, putting Isaac to sleep by himself in his crib all night long is the right thing to do. He's too big for us to rock to sleep and put in his crib, and he can't keep needing us to put him back to sleep until he's a kid. Inwardly, though, it's still a hard thing for me to accept (I feel for some reason that I'm failing him). In this Grief Cycle of saying goodbye to my little cosleeping baby and hello to my independently sleeping child, I find myself not googling sleep sites any more, but getting through baby transitions.

Monday, April 9, 2018

That's the Worst Parenting Advice Ever!

I've noticed, now that I have a kid, how flooded the world is with parenting advice. And while almost everyone agrees on the majority of the big issues (use a car seat, see a pediatrician, don't beat your baby), there are always at least two -- sometimes three or four -- opposing opinions on everything else. Some of the things I've seen just in the 5 months since Isaac was born are:

- natural vs. medicated birth
- breast-feeding vs. formula
- cloth diapers vs. disposable ones
- working vs. staying home
- nanny vs. daycare
- co-sleeping vs. crib
- schedule vs. no schedule
- feeding solids early (4 months) vs. late (6 months), along with baby-led weaning or purees
- giving baby vitamins or not
- vaccinating or not
- sleep training or not

I mean, good grief. And the thing is is that there is so much judgement and guilt tied to whatever decision you make. The people in Camp A believe the people in Camp B are ruining their children's lives, and vice versa. Experts on both sides of all the issues tell you that their way is right and the other guy's way is wrong.

But at the end of the day, it takes a lot to completely ruin your child's life. There are billions of people all over the world being raised in different ways, and they're all doing more or less OK.

Kyle and I aren't stressing out too much about raising this boy. We're following my mom's advice of, "You'll know what to do when you have him." And she was right.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Three Month Check-Up

I'm sitting here at the kitchen table, eating peanut butter toast, while Isaac is sleeping wrapped up like a burrito beside me. Today is his 12-week birthday, the day he officially turns three months old and the day my maternity leave officially ends. It's been a wild ride here in the "fourth trimester", with plenty of ups and downs as our family gets used to this new addition. We are forever grateful to our friends and family who have helped us with housework, meals, naptime, and emotional support over the past few months.

Things are infinitely easier now than they were the first week. Sleeping patterns have emerged. Sometimes we even get to sleep for four hours in a row! (Rare, but it happens!) I feel confident taking the baby out in public and whipping out a nursing cover if he gets hungry. I've also become a pro at tying my Boba wrap in less than 30 seconds (which is important, since Isaac takes such good naps in it). Kyle and I are both getting used to our new role as parents, and we have both fallen madly, deeply, crazily, in love with our son. 

So what's next?

You may have read my post last year about women who Do It All (and do it well!). I was feeling pretty indecisive about what to do regarding work. Some days I was 100% committed to staying home with the baby; other days I knew I'd have to be in the office every day. Even the first two months after the baby was born I changed my mind daily. I finally decided to tell my boss that I wouldn't be able to go back full-time: I don't want to pay for daycare for 40+ hours a week, but more than that, I don't want to be away from him for that long!

There is a possibility of me being able to work part-time at my current job. My boss is finagling out a way for me to return just for 16 hours a week: 11 hours in the office and 5 hours at home. That schedule is still not set in stone, but if it does work out, that will be good news for us! I'll only be away from the baby for 4-5 hours a day a few days a week, make a little bit of money, and be able to think about things besides housework and childcare. (Although I have been super productive over maternity leave: I knitted a scarf for Kyle and a bonnet for Isaac, baked bread, and have figured out meal planning. Which of course has to be contrasted with the days when Isaac won't sleep anywhere but in my arms and I can't do a thing.)

There's still one more big step Kyle and I have to take: buying a house. Our lease at our current abode is up in April, so we've got to figure out where we're going to live after that. Soooo...we'll let you know in three more months!

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: The Year in Review

2017 has certainly been a year for change! A lot got packed into this one, namely getting married and having a kid. I suppose some other events happened as well, but those are the two main attractions. Here's a quick, bare-bones summary:

January: Kyle and I rang in the new year in Michigan with a group of his friends from college, then spent January 1st driving back to Durham. We also definitively decided to start a family, at the same time as doing some wedding planning.

February: So that was easy. We started having our suspicions that things were easier than we had expected: it wasn't going to take six months after all, like we had planned.

March: The doctor confirmed what we already knew to be true. It was official: we were going to have a baby!

Sunrise on our wedding day
April: Kyle and I were married on April 9 at Spruce Pine Lodge in Bahama, NC.

May: My mom and I met for tea at the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro to celebrate Mothers Day, a first for me!

June: Kyle and I went to Mia Francesca's in Raleigh for Father's Day, where he got a free lunch for being a dad!

July: We took a week-long trip to Indiana over the Fourth of July to visit my sister in South Bend, his brother in Ft. Wayne, and my friend Leslie in Zionsville. We also started our go-out-of-town-every-weekend-for-four-weekends trips: the beach, my mom's house, Boone, and Washington, DC. We also started our 10-week Bradley husband-coached childbirth class.

August: I turned 35 on August 2nd. Also, see above.

September: Trying to accomplish as much as possible before being stuck inside with a baby forever, we attended a two-day Lamaze class, CenterFest Arts Festival in Durham, and the Apple Festival in Winston-Salem.

October: Our last month before our lives were changed forever! Kyle and I rented a cabin in the mountains with some friends and spent a beautiful weekend hiking around Boone. I tried to see all of my friends for dinner or coffee, and I threw a surprise get-together ("party" would be too big of a word) for Kyle's 31st birthday on the 21st. We did not, however, attend the state fair, which kind of bummed me out, but I also didn't feel like walking around at 8 1/2 months pregnant either. 

November: The rest of the world may have continued to exist, but for us, nothing else happened except for Isaac Henry's birthday on November 15.

December: A very busy month filled with visits from family and friends, all while trying to figure out this parenting thing. Kyle and I spent a quiet Christmas Eve together, and a relaxing Christmas Day with friends. We didn't do a thing for New Year's Eve, but hey, there's always next year.