Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

Archive for the tag “third baby”

The Red Light Green Light Experiment

Owlet and Platypup are over the moon about their baby sister. Truly. Platypup even says she’s the one he loves most in the world. (The rest of us try not to feel like chopped liver about it.)

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But that doesn’t mean this is a seamless transition from four to five for our family.

Cria is an easy baby thus far: she nurses, she sleeps, we change her diaper and take her to the loo, she nurses again, she sleeps again. There are moments of minor fussiness that quickly resolve. Usually the solution is burping… or spitting. And then more milk.

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Even an “easy” baby is still a major upheaval for older siblings, though, especially those who are toddler/preschool age. Platypup may be the sweetest, gentlest big brother *with* Cria, but with the rest of us chickens he has become an irrational short fuse on a powerful set of lungs. To make matters worse, he is more sensitive to others yelling and screaming than the average kid… And Owlet’s typical response to any perceived slights against her is to — yup, you guessed it, yell and scream. (At least at home. Hardly anyone believes me because she’s a model citizen out in public.)

So they’ve both been doing their best to ensure Cria develops the ability to sleep through at least 120 decibels. Which will surely come in handy later, but Thor and I may go mad in the meantime if we can’t turn this train around and find the mild-mannered sweethearts we fear we have inadvertently swapped for banshees.

Enter red light, green light.

We are far from the first to apply traffic signals to parenting. But during the course of a surprisingly cordial family brainstorm session on restoring the peace, we came up with a promising take on it.

Instead of “no” or “stop,” both of which are apparently rubbish within the confines of our home even though they continue to work perfectly well outside of it, we are trying to adhere to the following:

Step one: say “red light.”
[Person stops. Hopefully. Otherwise skip steps two and three and go straight to cacophony.]
Step two: explain why.
Step three: when the issue is resolved, say “green light.”
[All is peace love and puppies.]

It’s worked for the hour between implementation and bedtime this evening. How long will it last?

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I dunno. Wish us luck!

And Baby Makes Five

Fourteen days ago this enchanting imp made her grand entrance: 

 

She built up the suspense with two days of painless “warmup” (more frequent than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been experiencing for months, but definitely not yet active labor) during which I optimistically visualized dilation occurring and stockpiled sleep and food like the apocalypse was looming.

My first labor was a day and a half. My second was half a day. Both natural births, neither of them abnormally difficult, but both involved a sleepless night and more than two hours of pushing. I was hoping for shorter and easier, of course, but preparing for endless.

I began bedtime with Owlet and Platypup pretty certain labor was almost upon us but still able to read to them and sing a few songs. Then singing during contractions became more challenging so I put on some music and sat at the edge of Platypup’s bottom bunk until he fell asleep. I kissed an engrossedly reading Owlet goodnight in her top bunk and headed out to the living room. It was a little after 8pm.

I pulled out a favorite book I was rereading (Destiny’s Song, by Audrey Faye) in anticipation of tackling its newly released sequel during the nursing marathon that is the newborn period. Contractions were closer together and no longer ignorable, but I was still able to read through them awhile, and then read between them until I finished the book around 9pm.

Next I entered what I think of as the “restless” period. Contractions were… Bothersome? Not painful exactly, but just… irritating, and I wasn’t able to settle into a groove of coping with positioning or visualization or anything the way I remember doing in my first births. I stood, I walked, I sat, I leaned, I squatted, I crawled, I reclined on my side, I used the birth ball and Thor and the back of the chair. I even did a few half sun salutations — mostly to ease my mood a bit.

I stopped being able to simply draw long slow ujjayi breaths through contractions and began to make low, quiet moaning sounds. Thor had been keeping an eye on the clock and asked a couple of times whether I thought we should call our midwife yet. I was grumpy, completely unsure whether this was even active labor yet, and each time said I didn’t know. Then I threw up, a common sign of labor well underway. Thor went ahead and made the call.

Soon after, my water broke a bit. Fictional births almost universally cast this as the first sign of labor, and for a small percentage of laboring moms it is. But not for me! With Owlet, the midwife broke the bag of waters manually late in first stage to help a long slow labor accelerate, and with Platypup, it leaked a bit toward the end of the first stage and then exploded suddenly on my midwife mid-second stage. In other words, for me, any amount of water breaking = baby coming.

And the tornado hit. So fiercely that I felt I had no coping skills at all. I anchored to my breath and held onto its well-practiced steady undulation for dear life as contractions seemed to overlap, with any brief potential break in the action obliterated by an impatient babe who seemed to be attempting to tunnel out. Her every movement seemed to pummel the same spots that bore the brunt of each contraction. With each contraction I filled my core with deep, resonant sound that could almost but not quite drown out the pain. I had dropped to hands and knees when I felt my water beginning to break (I was actually able to warn Thor in time for him to slip a waterproof pad underneath first) and that is where I stayed, all ability to move having vanished.

In the time it took our midwife to drive from the next town over, I went from waffling on whether it was time to call to unquestionable certainty that she should already have arrived.

The midwife agreed. She opened the front door at around 10:30 and immediately called the second midwife based on my voice alone. Then she came into the room, checked the baby’s heart rate, got the rest of her equipment into the house, and at my request checked my dilation.

I was completely dilated other than a small lip.

A couple of contractions later my body begin to push on its own. A few more and I could tell the baby’s head was already crowning. Thor got ready to catch with our midwife’s assistance and as her face emerged they were both surprised to see the caul still around it. I was able to stop actively pushing and just breathe instead (a feat that was frankly impossible in prior births) to ease her out gently. Moments later she slipped free into Thor’s waiting hands.

It was 11:08pm. A mere three hours after I’d put our two children to bed, we now had three!

I held our new daughter sitting back on my heels after she had been passed up to me and was able to change positions without needing major support. Getting comfortable was another matter, but the last two times I basically became jelly instantly post-birth. I was glad to feel I still had strength left.

Our second midwife arrived minutes later. After the initial postpartum activities (checking us both out, cleaning multiple meconium explosions, inspecting the placenta, pushing super hard on my belly to help the uterus shrink — the usual) Thor went to bring in the big kids.

Owlet was instantly awake. Platypup would not be roused right away so Thor brought Owlet in first and went back to try again.

Owlet came in all wide-eyed and hushedly excited:

  

Platypup stumbled blearily into the room, spotted on the floor the white and black couch cushions we designated as the ones that must stay on the couch (the others can be played with), and apparently his sense of order was offended, because he immediately attempted to rectify the situation (fortunately without putting them directly in a pool of blood) without so much as glancing around for the baby. I managed to draw Thor’s attention in time for him to rescue the pillow in question. Then we reminded Platypup there was a new baby sister to meet!

    

Eventually we all migrated to bed together: Baby “Cria” in the middle, Thor and I on either side of her, Owlet and Platypup on either side of us. We sang to Cria for the first time; Platypup asked for Rainbow Connection and Owlet requested Onawa’s Waltz. Sleep was fragmented, Platypup kept me far too warm, and my escapes for water/bathroom breaks were acrobatic feats, but our first night as a family of five is already etched in the rosy hues reserved for memories most beloved. One sweet, cozy, crowded family.

   

  

  

  
 

  
First outing: going to sushi to celebrate our two week old!

The time between

I am an elephant. A cranky elephant. A cranky, creaky, elderly elephant. A cranky, creaky, elderly elephant who needs to sleep more hours than there are hours. And eat more food than exists.

Which is to say, there is likely still at least a month and a half to go until our third baby makes an appearance.

I am ready to nest. And yet who would attempt to nest now, when nesting means wrestling space for clothes and diapers in drawers and closets already full of four people’s things? “Nesting” the third time around looks a lot more like intensive purging and a lot less like tenderly folding tiny onesies.

Today I entertained the notion of never teaching again after this birth (but not with any real seriousness). In almost the same thought-bubble I considered suggesting Thor quit one of his bread-and-butter gigs, because third-hand smoke is a *thing* (which it is, but thankfully I can count on one hand the times my pregnant nose has even noticed that he was in a facility where smoking is permitted). Later, I enthusiastically plotted the new little kid classes I’m putting together for this coming summer.

A smart fortune cookie would say “you are in no condition to make life decisions.” The word on the back would be “dàn jiǔ” (eggnog).

One of our cats is missing. The shy one. Pajama. The one we took in as a feral teenage waif of a kitten. I spent a whole summer taming her, almost a decade ago now. She barely ever leaves our yard, and she is terrified of strangers.

  
I am hopeful she will return. The only other time one of our animals has disappeared was the last time I was pregnant — also during the winter. Our cuddle-bug Cricket vanished two weeks before we moved. Fortunately our new house was quite close to our old one so we could still patrol the same neighborhood. He was gone a whole month. Thor found him walking down the sidewalk only a few blocks away. He was skinny as all get out, writhing with joy to be home again. Blessedly safe and sound.

So we find ourselves turning the page of the year as one would flick a waiting room magazine. Soon our beautiful baby will make his or her debut. Hopefully sooner than that, if we are lucky, our little tuxedo cat will have made her way back.

Of course, we are hardly just waiting. We are doing all of the living we always do; flipping pancakes, quelling squabbles, making music, collecting stray shoes from the yard before they decompose or acquire residents, brainstorming for our family/businesses/selves, sneaking eggnog from the fridge. On top of it all, we are posting flyers, scanning shelter listings, and taking walks in the dark making real cat-calls that sound something like a drowning bumblebee with an urgent secret. We are meeting with midwives, gearing up for the routine glucose tolerance test, going to yoga, and clearing the aforementioned space for nesting to eventually occur. We are having serious conversations with children about guns, and dinosaurs, and maybe not coming into our bed quite as early in the wee small hours of the morning so mommy can have enough room for her beloved body pillow and therefore just possibly get enough sleep to stay sane.

But we go through it all cloaked in the stuff that makes daybreak so beautiful and at the same time so damn tediously suspenseful that you seriously regret leaving your bed just to see it. I remember my dreams well these days (because I am so often wrenched from them by the incessant need to use the loo) and I can say with certainly that my every hour, waking or sleeping, is draped in dawn’s mauvy gauze.
 

cloaks of a different sort (handmade by Granny)

 
I wish I could tell you that by the third child I know to cherish this last bit of breathing space before the hurricane of newbornhood. I mean, I do “know” it. But actually doing the cherishing is a challenge when your skin, your brain, your bladder all resemble nothing so much as a water balloon filled by a child too young to know not to fill with the maximum amount possible.

Still, there are moments quintessential to this in-between period. Time spent watching my lurching belly. Time doing my witchy thing, wrapping my unborn babe in love and protection, summoning my cat home with an open beacon of a heart. Time making sure my older babies are properly treasured, my marriage nurtured, my body kept healthy and strong — with a side of eggnog and a nap if I can get one.

Because this time around, I know I am preparing the right way. Not by reading every prenatal book ever written, like my first pregnancy, or by planning endlessly for the practical aspects of having two children, like my second, and all the while, both times, knowing there was something more important and yet less tangible I should be doing, but unable to reach it through my pregnant haze.

This time I am focusing on my emotional state, my spiritual exploration, and above all my connection with each member of my growing family. In this glittering stillness between inhale and exhale, I am growing like a weed. A very rotund weed. And I feel certain there is no better way for me to honor this time between.

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