Saturday, April 28, 2007

The first day

I totally forgot to mention: the recipe for the cake that I mentioned a few days ago, Aunt Terry's Carrot Cake, can be found at my podcast blog. It's an amazing confection, and if you've never tried it, well, you should.

Yesterday was my first full day alone with the three children. It was challenging, and I'm sorry to say that I appear to have less patience than I had remembered, but we managed, and even had some fun moments.
In the morning, we went out with out brand new double stroller to mail something at the post office. There were rocks thrown in the stream, some ice cream was consumed, and Lavella slept through it all.
Thankfully Greg came home before their bedtime and entertained them with "dancing with all their might" (Joel's name for taking off their shirts and dancing like crazy in the attic. I don't understand it, so ask Joel).

On my podcast and fiber blog, I refer to my children by nicknames to protect their privacy. Andrew is Sparky, Elijah is Max. I'm having trouble coming up with a name for Lavella though, so I've opened a contest on the fiber blog. The prize for the winning name is some German gummy bears and a skein of my handspun yarn. However, if any of you want to enter the contest, if you win, I'll just tailor the prize accordingly (read: more candy, no yarn -- unless you knit or crochet or just think that the yarn would be fun). So go on over there and leave a comment if you have an idea! (In case you're new to links, click on the blue words, and it will take you to the page I'm referring to.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baby clean

Yesterday, Lavella had her first real bath. The boys were in the tub, so I decided to just bathe her in a large bowl in the sink.
Some of the time she thought this was not so fun. Doesn't she look like a fat little Buddha there?

(Photos courtesy of Joel.)

After a month long visit, my mom, Rachel and Joel had to go back home. They left a few hours ago, and I've been a little weepy since. It's very hard to be so alone after all of this time with help and companionship. It doesn't help that Greg won't be home until possibly after I go to bed tonight. Making this even worse is the fact that I have no idea when I'll get to see my mom again, or (possibly more importantly) when my children will be able to visit with her again. Living across the ocean is so hard sometimes, and today it just feels tragic.

Trying not to think about all of that right now though, or the hormones will just take over and I'll feel utterly hopeless. I'm trying to focus on happy (or at least peaceful) things. I have some wool that really wants to be spun up into some sock yarn, but my back is hurting too much right now to sit up for that long. Maybe I'll just work on some of my knitting projects.

It's on days like this that I need to guard my credit card, because online shopping feels like just the thing...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

kisses and hugs

Thank you for all of your birthday wishes. We started the process to get Lavella's passport, which included her getting a passport picture taken. She wasn't very cooperative, and kept waving her hands in front of her face and shouting at the guy. He did eventually get off a shot, but she probably has a terrible grimace. Ah well. I thought that it was kind of silly that such a small person would even need such a picture.

In the afternoon, two of the wives of the guys in my husband's battalion came over and brought a baby basket from all of the ladies in the group. I was absolutely floored when they walked in the door with this hamper, overflowing with little girl things!
The boys broke into the baby crackers right away, and ate the entire box
before I realized what was happening

The little girl clothes and diapers were much needed, so thank you, thank you!

Today for the first time, Andrew kissed and held Lavella. He's helped me dress her and stuff, but hasn't wanted "real" contact with her, up until today. I just let him take his time, and then when I was taking her out of her swing to put her down for a nap a few minutes ago, he just put out his arms and helped me carry her to bed. She sleeps on my floor right now on her lambie (easier for night-time feedings), so everyone gathered round for kisses and cuddles.
Because it's not possible to post too many pictures (?), here's one of Rachel and Lavella, reading a book together from the other night.
Joy The Hilarious has started a new blog. Check out Well...this is awkward for a few cheap thrills today, and leave a comment if you care to encourage this behavior. (And don't forget to notice the URL address when you get there.)

Alicia, I'm glad that your baby's rash isn't so bad anymore -- the fresh air idea sounds like a good one. Thank you Lisa for the link, I hope that Alicia can find some helpful info in there. MA, do you have any suggestions regarding allergies related to nursing? Shout out in the comments if you can think of anything.

Monday, April 23, 2007

So it's pictures you want?

Everyone's been asking for more pictures, but first, a response to a long ago question from Alicia. She asked about persistent diaper rash, and, while I hope that she has already found the answer to her trouble, I think it's worth while to bring it up here, in case anyone has something to add. Alicia's baby Delaney is about 2 months old, and is breastfed. I'm going to guess that Delaney probably has an allergy to something Alicia is eating (this could be anything from tomatoes to spinach to wheat...), and that's causing the skin reaction. Does anyone else have other ideas?

On to the pictures. (All of them are clickable for bigger.)

This is a shot that I took for Grace when I was on the phone with her the other night. Lavella has Grace's hairline exactly.

Joel really wanted this baby to be a boy. However, he's completely taken with her, perhaps in spite of himself. He would hold her all day if he didn't have to share with Rachel. He loves to tuck her into his lap and read on the couch at night.My mom baked a birthday cake the morning of Lavella's birth, hoping that we'd indeed have reason to celebrate that night.
We ended up eating it the next day instead, because of all the excitement. The boys had fun blowing out the candles (smaller cake is for Greg with no walnuts or coconut in the frosting).
It was, of course, my Aunt Terry's carrot cake, which is to this day The Best Cake I Have Ever Had. I have no idea why we don't make it more often. I will post the recipe on The Knitting Cook website tomorrow, in honor of my birthday (I'll be 27!), and Lavella's 1-week-day.
As mentioned yesterday, Hannah had to leave on Saturday, but before she did, I got a few shots of her and Lavella together.

I am endlessly grateful for everything that she did while she was here, from taking over the kitchen to entertaining the boys with the "steal me!" game and dancing to Gnarls Barkley with a small fellow in each arm.
Time with Grandma. These shots were taken yesterday. Lavella is getting so much more alert now. She still spends most of her time sleeping, but now when she's awake she really looks around and studies things carefully.
She makes some rather funny faces while doing it.
So there you go. As expected, she looks exactly like a squishy little newborn, but I think that she's 100% precious.

Today I was feeling a little stronger, so Joel, Elijah and I made chocolate chip cookies. (Recipe from back of Nestle chocolate chip package, but using unsalted butter makes them really fantastic)
I couldn't help taking a few pictures of my helpers, because they both have the huge, round, freshly shorn heads.
After I took these pictures I realized how much they look like each other. It's amazing how the genes work out in children.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The long and the short of it: a birth story

Thank you so much for all of your congratulations! Lavella and I are being very well cared for by my mom, siblings and Greg (Hannah, sadly, had to leave yesterday), and are getting plenty of rest.

For those of you who are interested, here's the story of how the crazy short labor happened.

On Tuesday morning (9 days past due date), I woke up tired, swollen, and still absolutely full of baby. I'd already tried several strong herbal labor starters from my midwife, walked up huge hills, taken a homeopathic "body harmonizer", cleaned my house, completed some spinning and knitting projects. The day that my sister had to leave was creeping closer and closer, and it even seemed that the baby might wait until my mom had to go as well (at the end of this month).

Each day after my due date I'd been having strong and sometimes regular sets of Braxton Hicks contractions, but nothing that was actually "labor". I even contracted for 8 hours straight on Monday, but still nothing to really call labor.

My midwife told me that she had one thing left in her "birth trigger" arsenal that she uses only as a last resort, because it can produce such violent contractions. I decided that Tuesday was the day. I went out and bought the following ingredients:
1 large spoonful of nut butter, 200 milligrams of Sekt (bubbly, cheap alcoholic stuff), 20 ml Castor oil, 2 drops Verbena oil. I mixed it all together with 1 cup of orange juice.

Looks tasty, no? It smelled sort of like bread dough, but bad. I was supposed to drink it in a half-hour or less, and was warned that it would likely make me throw-up, as well as give me other intestinal troubles. I felt that it was completely worth it though -- nothing could deter me from chugging the whole "cocktail" in one go.

Then I sat around. And sat and knit and sat some more. The alcohol gave me a light head, and the entire brew made me feel a little sick to my stomach, but nothing else. I was afraid to leave the house, lest the effects of the Castor oil come on suddenly, but still, several hours went by, and nothing. The midwife came by to check the baby's heartbeat, and my blood pressure. All was well. She was shocked to find that I was not throwing up. I was kind of discouraged, thinking that somehow my body was unable to respond to anything. Finally, I took a nap.

I woke up a half-hour later and realized that I was having a huge, hard contraction. This lasted for a good 5 minutes, wavering in intensity from strong to much stronger. Finally it passed, and I called Greg to come home from work. Smaller, crampy contractions followed, but by the time he got home an hour later, I was sitting in the kitchen, eating an apple. We were all frustrated, wondering if it had been a false alarm. Then the cramping started again, and progressively got stronger and stronger. Still, they lasted no longer than a few seconds each, so I called my midwife and asked her to come in about 2 hours.

In all reality, it was hard to believe that I was actually in labor after all this time. None of it seemed real, since the contractions were so short. My husband changed out of his work clothes, and in that time, the contractions changed so that I had to breath through them. He started helping me with acupressure to manage the pain, and we both locked "labor mode".

My mom came back from a walk with the kids. They went to the other side of the house to watch the movie "Cars", and she came to where I was, in the computer room. One look at me, and she was sure that this was for real. My sister was making soup for dinner, and left it on the stove to come help. Since they knew that I'd called the midwife, no one thought to calculate how long it had been since I said "two hours", and she wasn't called again.

The contractions were still not even quite a minute long, but close together. The last thing that I remember my mom saying was "maybe we should start timing them", and suddenly, I was pushing. Five minutes later or less, Lavella was in my arms.

A few minutes later, someone thought to call the midwife again.

At that moment, the children walked in. Lightening McQueen had reached Radiator Springs (in the movie), and they were taking a snack break. To their surprise, they found that there was a new little person in the house.

So that, my friends, is how Greg delivered our baby on the computer room floor.

Note: Please know that I am not advocating an unassisted birth in any way. I know that some people hold to that convention, but I personally feel that births should be assisted by someone who has been trained to handle complications, should they arise. Greg, my mom and Hannah, however, worked perfectly together as a team, and I remained confidant and peaceful through the entire thing. Thankfully, all went well, and it's the best birth experience I've had.

Also, please do not use that labor trigger recipe unless you have consulted your midwife or doctor first.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ladies And Gentlemen...

Welcome Lavella Faith Darling! Lavella was born today, at 5:30 pm, after only an hour-and-a-half of labour. Her name is Latin and means 'cleansing', and she weighs 9.5 lbs, and is 21" long.
Faith and the baby are doing wonderful, despite being very tired, so subsequent posts will follow in a few days.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What do you do when you can't have a baby?

Current projects include spinning the skeins (twists) of yarn on the left and the yellow on the right

Spinning, knitting, library, museum, post office, anything and everything. Well, everything except having a baby. That's what's going on around here lately. I would post pictures of it all, but at the moment I can't sit still long enough to do anything. I'm freaking out with anxious energy, so I think that I'll power wash the house. Look out. I might power wash anyone who gets in my way too.
Everything I've knit for the baby thus far, mostly in the past week

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

40 weeks today. I was hoping that I wouldn't get to take this picture.

Happy Easter everyone!

Well my friends, very unfortunately, I have no baby picture for you. I am frustrated, jittery, tired, sore, and otherwise "stuck" feeling. The midwife is coming tomorrow, and I sincerely hope that she can help me get something started, if nothing has taken place yet.

In other news, Greg bought an oval shaped excercise ball for me. After blowing it up, he discovered that it's a comfortable place to be... and promptly fell asleep.
Last week we went to the library on post. Elijah thought the most important parts were the stuffed animals, trucks and balloons in the children's area.

Rachel is very good at reading out loud now, and has been Andrew's faithful servant, reading book after book.
Completely unrelated, but rather cute:
Samba, a variation on Nutella, but with more hazlenut (50%) in the equation, and a lot less sugar.

Because of the monkey on the label, the boys have named it "monkey chocolate"; a favorite way to eat it is to dip hard pretzel sticks into it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Burg Lichtenberg

Sarah: I can hardly believe that you're already 31 weeks! Then again, it's hard to believe that I'm right at the end. Time flies. I'm so glad that you're getting yourself fully prepared. A huge factor in a peaceful, incident free birth is being confidant. It's good that you're doing everything you can to get to that place.

Sarcy: Bring on the questions as you think of them!

Alicia: Yes, there are things that you can do to encourage labor herbally. There is some controversy over whether any herbal stimulation should be used at all, or if the baby should just be left to decide when is the right time to enter the world.

The argument against it says that since so much depends on the baby (flexing it's head and moving down through the pelvic bones, shifting it's body into optimal position), that encouraging it to come out early can just make for a longer, more painful labor for the mother, and the unprepared baby can experience more stress.

The argument for it suggests that since herbal methods are being used, it's gentle enough that your body and the baby can decide whether or not labor will start, and the worst that can happen is that you will just be very uncomfortable with the side effects (more time spent on the toilet, etc.) with no results.

Personally, I feel that a balance is preferable. If the midwife and mother have consulted together and have determined that the mother's body is probably ready to go into labor, but it seems that a little extra "nudge" in the right direction might be productive, then I'm all for it. I have never done anything besides taking extra walks uphill and such, but if I were ever to go past my due date, I'd consider trying something a bit stronger.

Here is the "natural inducing" method that my midwife in the states suggested to me. (Remember that anything you do should be cleared with your midwife or doctor first!)

Nature’s Sunshine brand “Mastergland”: take 2 capsules every 1/2 hour
Castor oil: take 1 Tablespoon every other hour, up to 4 doses per day

This will not force you into labor, but it will work with your body, and if the baby is in the correct position, etc. you will probably go into labor.

Try this starting in the morning. If you are not in labor by the 4th dose of Castor oil, stop taking the Mastergland as well and try again another day.

There is also the suppository method where you use a capsule or two of Evening Primrose oil, but I can't remember that one exactly. It also involves Black Cohosh, but once again I can't remember which. That helps ripen the cervix and can get things going.

There are some more suggestions I found online here that sound helpful.

On Sunday, we went to Burg Lichtenburg. We're attempting to get out and do stuff with my family as much as possible before the baby comes and puts a damper on my energy levels. (Not that I'll mind -- I am ready whenever he/she is, let me tell you.)
Everyone trekked around the castle grounds and climbed on the ruins.
Rachel and Joel proved themselves to be the little monkeys that we thought they'd be.
Rachel got up one ledge that wasn't all that high, but of course Joel had to push on a little further. For whatever reason, my mom thought this was a fine idea, and even offered her head as a stepping stone. (Surprisingly enough, this proved to be a less than good idea when her head snapped sideways a bit.)
He got up pretty high, and then decided that he'd proved himself enough. We agreed. He made it back down, and we gave him a good cheer.
For more pics from that day, click here for the whole gallery.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Family Arrives

Ok, I know that some of you are dying of suspense anytime I don't blog for a few days, so before anyone asks The Question You Never Ask A Hugely Pregnant Woman: no, I have not had the baby yet. I promise that someone will update the blog AS SOON as the little person shows up. So whatever you do, DO NOT ASK. I want this baby to be born even more than you do. Now that we've got that out of the way...

Alicia had asked about pelvic floor preparation to avoide getting an episiotomy. Firstly, I will tell you what I think of episiotomys in general (you couldn't imagine that was coming, could you?) For the most part, I find them to be completely useless. The point is supposedly to facilitate getting the baby out with a "clean" cut instead of a messy tear. This is all well and good...except that from what I've found, it seems that most doctors tend to use it for their own convenience. Very often, the baby really can fit. Also, the episiotomy can tear down further as the baby comes out. I'm not going to continue in this line of thought, because it's just too painful to consider, but you get the idea.

There are two ways that I know of to prepare the pelvic floor for giving birth. The first is the most commonly known: perineal massage. It has to be done for the last 6 weeks of pregnancy, and tends to help quite a bit. However, nothing has been proven to be quite as effective as using the Epi-no device. Unfortunately, almost no doctors or midwives in the US have heard of it at all. You can read all about it by clicking here. I highly recommend it if you can at all afford it. You can get more ordering information by emailing here:

On to the fun stuff.

My mom, Rachel and Joel got here last week, and on the first day, we did some of this:
Did you know that you can knit with only your fingers and some yarn? Neither did they, but it's kept them occupied on more than one occasion since getting here.

Essentially, you use your fingers as a loom. It goes very quickly; Rachel was able to complete a 3-foot scarf in about 45 minutes (!) In case you want to try it, click here for the how-to.
Two days after arriving, we celebrated Rachel's birthday (which had been on March 31st). Hannah made a delicious (although very "special" looking) cake -- yellow cake base (from scratch, of course), sour cream hazelnut custard filling, topped with a hard dark chocolate glaze.
On Saturday, we went to the indoor playground, and everyone especially enjoyed the set of trampolines.
I was unable to capture it, but Joel and Greg were actually doing flips. Joel wants to make sure Christopher knows that.
Elijah is absolutely fearless. He runs from trampoline to trampoline, and is getting pretty good at not falling until he wants to. (His version of a jump is more like a dramatic drop to the ground.)
Hannah was having such a great time...
That she actually split her pants, all the way up. Thankfully she had a sweatshirt to cover things up a bit.

Surprisingly enough, it was Mommy who saw it, even with here eyesight being the way it is.

This is Mommy, "hiding" from Joel. According to Joel, she was in such an obvious place that he thought she wasn't playing hide-n-seek anymore. According to Mommy, he "didn't even see her".

Daddy, Caleb, Jom, Grace, Joy, Christopher -- we miss you all!

Tomorrow, I'll post about our trip to the castle.