Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baby Wearing

Are you a baby wearer?

Since Ewan's birth I have become a consumer of baby carriers. Someone from our Bradley class introduced me to the idea of having a sling to carry the baby in. Of course everyone knows about the Baby Bjorn and we got one of those but there was something appealing to a more non-Western way of holding and wearing my baby. I have to admit that when I first learned about it, it seemed like the cool, hip thing that naturally minded folks do. Now that I have 3 kids I love the benefits and versatility of wearing the little munchkins around.

When Ewan was born I bought the Native American Baby Carrier. He didn't like it too much as a newborn but did like it when he was about 4 months old. We used it quite a bit as well as the Baby Bjorn. The Baby Bjorn wasn't as helpful once Ewan got older. He was too heavy to carry comfortably and we used the Native American Baby Carrier on occasion.

When Isaac came along I carried him around ALL day in the Baby Bjorn because he had to sleep upright due to reflux and that he did not want to sleep apart from me. He also did not like the NABC as a newborn.

When we moved to Dallas I was more interested in trying some different kinds of slings. One of my friends in the neighborhood made (and still does) Mei Tai slings. They are great! Of course Isaac and Ewan were already 2 and 3 years old but it didn't stop me from using it. We took it to Canada and used the sling to carry the boys in while we went hunting for frogs and hiking. The Mei Tai can be used to carry babes on your back or front and the boys loved riding in it.

Once Isaac reached 35 pounds the Mei Tai was harder to use and was more uncomfortable--only because carrying 35 pounds is hard no matter how you slice it. I wanted to try a wrap sling that could do a hip carry. I decided to wait until I was pregnant again to purchase an Ellaroo wrap. These slings can also do different holds--hip, back, front, newborn depending on what size you get. I was interested in a wrap length that would do a hip hold. I was very excited about my sling but discovered once Graham was born that the length I chose was not long enough to do a newborn carry. I have to wait until he is older so I can do a hip carry.

One of my friends from my small group here in Pittsburgh was given a Moby Stretch Wrap. She let me try it and I was sold just by looking at all the different carries you can do from the directions! Not only that but cost wise, it is the least expensive sling and you can wear the baby in so many different ways. I hear from others that it is good until the babies get to be in the 20+ pound range because once the baby gets that big it stretches out easily. For now I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this sling! It is so easy to use--although it looks intimidating at first. Graham loves it. He usually falls asleep in it right away and stays warm and cozy. Jon even likes wearing it and can put the sling on and stick Graham in it all by himself!

The benefits of baby wearing are that it makes it easy to get some things done especially when babies like to be held so much. Baby wearing makes it easier when you have a fussy baby. Babies cry less when they are held and baby wearing even helps stimulate/boost your milk supply, and of course it promotes bonding with your baby.

I can't wear Graham around ALL day because I start to go crazy but it works awesome for grocery shopping, running errands, going for walks etc. My kids never liked being in their car seats and I have always hated lugging the infant car seat around everywhere. It is bulky and heavy and makes you contort your body in ways that you aren't supposed to. We leave ours in the car and I use the sling to carry Graham around everywhere when we are out and about. I find that people also tend not to touch my baby when I am wearing him because it invades my personal space. When the babies are in car seats it is very inviting for small kids and adults alike to spread their germs on your baby. I am a little sensitive about that so it works well for me.

I am now a huge fan of baby wearing. Some women have figured out how to wear their babies and nurse at the same time. I haven't got there yet but if we can figure that one out it will make grocery store excursions a lot easier! Another cool thing is that baby wearing is great for taking baby out for a walk. You carry around the extra weight which also burns more calories. Say good-bye to that extra leftover baby weight.

I think the hardest thing about baby wearing is choosing the right one. Common stores like Target or Babies R Us don't carry all the different kinds of slings and wraps. If you are interested in baby wearing see if you can find someone who will do a presentation and let you try on their slings to see which one you like the most. It is definitely worth it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Pictures

This was taken today. Isaac is very sweet with Graham and like to "give him a gentle pat" on the head. His words, not mine.

Hanging out on the porch swing.

I let Graham sleep on his tummy during the day. (I know, Gasp!!!) I keep him downstairs in the pack and play to sleep for n0w. Eventually he won't be able to sleep through all the commotion but if he can get used to the noise it will be good for him. Graham doesn't sleep well on his back and I don't have the patience to keep putting him back to sleep after only sleeping for 20 minutes on his back. I have too many other things to do during the day. He sleeps on his back or side next to me at night. I am still nervous about letting him sleep on his tummy during the day but I am around much more often to check on him. At night when he is sleeping I am sacked out. You can't see it too well in this picture but his hair sticks straight up. He wears a fohawk very well.

Here he is freshly bathed. His hair looks really pretty after it is washed. It sticks up everywhere until it gets oily.

I thought this was a cute picture of Isaac. Wouldn't you be impressed if I told you he made that all by himself? He didn't. Ewan got some Tinker Toys for his birthday and they like to make the monorail. We were enjoying the afternoon weather and playing on the porch. We figure we better get all the outside time in nice weather while we can because winter is coming soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Still Here

I am working on writing a post about circumcision....I think the title will be something like

Circumcision: Why I don't advocate it but did it anyway

Other news:
I love our community here! We have had so many meals brought to us by new friends and tons of offers to help out in any way we need it.

I am part of a women's small group that I already love. There are 6 of us...some moms, married, single, spouses of seminarians, seminarians, or former seminarians-- all in different stages of life yet we find ourselves here in Pittsburgh all connected through the seminary. I am looking forward to being stretched in my faith and sharing my life with these women.

Graham is doing well. He is quite the snuggler and loves to sleep on the next available person. I have an awesome sling called the Moby Wrap that I use to carry him around in. More on that later...

Ewan and Isaac are doing great in this transition to a new baby. Isaac has warmed up to Graham and today offered to help me "squish milk in Graham's mouth". I'll spare you the details but he was being sweet by wanting to help me feed his brother.

Ewan started preschool last week and LOVES it. We decided to send him to preschool for a variety of reasons. I have not been in favor of sending the kids to preschool but after considering Ewan's needs we decided that it will be a good thing for him. Ewan will be a very young kindergartener and we felt like it would be good for him to have some experience in school before he has to go every day, all day next year. It is possible that we could hold him back a year but it is too early to decide now. He goes to school M,W,F for 2.5 hours and the program he is in is very play oriented. They do work on writing letters, letter sounds, numbers etc. but all centered around play. Ewan likes to show me his papers and projects when he gets home and tell me about what he did at school. His favorite thing, of course being the extrovert he is, is playing with his friends.

The baby calls for food and I am ready for bed.

That post on circumcision will be coming soon.

Thanks for praying for our illnesses by the way. I am feeling much better as is the rest of the family. The only person who avoided getting sick was Graham. The wonderful benefits of breastmilk!!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Need Some Prayer

Hey Friends,

I have caught a pretty yucky cold and need some prayer. So far Isaac caught it first and passed it to me and Jon isn't feeling great either. I think Ewan might be next on the list as well as my mom.
I am praying that Graham doesn't get sick and will be protected by breastfeeding. I need to get better soon so that I can take care of kiddos and Jon can study. My mom is leaving tomorrow so we won't have the extra hand around to help with the boys.

Please pray for a speedy recovery!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Announcing Jonathan "Graham" Antonius Parker

If you read all the comments you might have noticed that Sharon recommended eating some eggplant parmesan. She sent me a link to a recipe from a restaurant that guarantees to get labor going. I was ready to have this baby and willing to try anything. I had been having lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions and knew that my body was probably ready to kick into gear. I didn't want to go through all the work to make the meal so we went out to dinner on Sunday night.

We had a lovely dinner at a place called Bravo!. The boys were soooo well behaved and we had a great waiter. Ewan was feeling very snuggly with me and wanted to sit right next to me all night at dinner. Normally he wants to sit next to daddy. Maybe he was picking up on some motherly hormones about to go off or something.

I went to bed around 11 and woke up at 12:30 with a fairly strong contraction. Normally, contractions had been waking me up at night when I had to pee but I didn't feel like getting up since I had just gone to bed. I went back to sleep and at 1:30 I woke up with another strong contraction. That time I decided to pee so I could get back to sleep but I did notice that the contraction was much stronger than what I had been waking up to previous nights. I thought that something might be up especially when my bladder wasn't very full. I laid back down and waited to see if another contraction would present itself. Sure enough, 7 minutes later it did. Hmmm...I thought...could this be it? 7 minutes later another one came and something told me that this was labor beginning and it would probably go fast. I woke up Jon and told him I was having some strong contractions. 5 minutes later another one came. He said he thought we should pack up. The part of me that thought it would be a fast labor wanted to agree but the other part of me that didn't want to wake up the midwives and go to the birth center too soon wanted to wait. My husband said he thought we should get ready to go. As soon as we got up my contractions were 3 minutes apart and moving along quickly. I was already pausing during the contractions and not wanting to talk. I don't think my contractions ever were longer than 30-45 seconds. How nice was that?! I decided it was a good thing we were getting ready to go.

We woke up Ewan as we were on our way out the door since he wanted to come to the birth. We left the house at 3:15 This was my first labor where I wanted to really be upright instead of laying down. I used the birth ball to lean on while we were at home and at the birth center.

As we were driving in the car I started feeling pushy and was about ready to jump out of the car and walk to the birth center since sitting down was miserable. Every contraction in the car was so much more painful than when I was at home able to stand up and sway or lean on the birth ball. At one point I said, "I WANT OUT of this car!!!" Jon decided to pick up the pace in the car and (cautiously) ran a few red lights. I kept imagining getting pulled over by the police and yelling at them to let me get to the birth center. Ewan was very chatty in the backseat with me. I told him that I may not be very talkative during a contraction but he kept the mood light and I welcomed that.

We got to to the birth center at 3:45 and got settled in. The nurse, Gretchen, checked Graham's heartbeat which sounded great. My favorite midwife, Anne, was on call and I was thrilled! If you remember from my birth plan I wanted to enjoy the wonderful jacuzzi bathtub for labor. Before getting in the tub she asked to do an initial exam. I was already 9ish centimeters. I thought briefly about going ahead and breaking my waters but on Anne's recommendation decided to enjoy the tub first and to get used to being in the birth center environment. I relaxed in the tub for a bit and then started to feel like pushing a little. It felt really good to have warm water poured over my belly while I was in the tub. I got out of the tub and asked Anne to break my water. When she broke it she said I still had a little lip left on my cervix and was going to try to move it out of the way when I felt like pushing next. We were all pleasantly surprised that the water was clear since he was already a week late. Apparently it is pretty common for meconium (baby's first poop) to be present when babies are late. It makes for one less complication--especially later. This was my first birth where I had that overwhelming urge to push early on after being complete.

After getting out of the tub I got on the bed on my knees and leaned over the birth ball. As I felt like pushing I did. At one point I said to Anne, "I'm afraid I'm going to fart on you!". Everyone laughed and she said, "Please do!". I had to say it out loud otherwise I would have kept thinking it and it would have gotten on my nerves. After a few contractions that way I decided to sit up in the bed and lean back against Jon. I knew that this baby was probably bigger than Ewan (9lb 6oz) and I could tell it was taking more work to get this baby down. I was thinking that he was going to be a 10 pounder.

For me, labor has always been the easier part of birth. Second stage is more challenging for me both physically and psychologically. It is more challenging physically because I know the "ring of fire" is coming and it is a very uncomfortable feeling for me Having your skin stretched, even though it is only minutes long is quite the challenge--for me. That is what makes it psychologically difficult for me--to welcome the burning and to work with my body during that process. For some women other parts of birth are more challenging but that is most difficult for me.

I took my time to get the head out-it felt like years to me and I was the most vocal this time letting out grunts and little sobs to work through the pain and work with the contraction. It was awesome to feel his head moving down and to touch his head while it was emerging. Ewan, my oldest son, was watching me push out the head and decided after seeing a little blood that he wanted to go upstairs and watch a movie. Up until this point he was around and in and out of the room excited about everything going on. I was a little sad but wanted Ewan to feel the freedom to do what felt right to him. I think it ended up being a good thing.

I don't remember how it came up before I started pushing but Anne had mentioned something about how flipping over on hands and knees is helpful when the shoulders get stuck. I can't remember if she was just being informative or if she mentioned it because we all agreed that this baby was probably bigger than Ewan.

After Graham's head came out it was obvious after a few pushes that his shoulders were stuck. Anne said calmly, but urgently to get on my hands and knees so I flipped over and pushed with all my might. Flipping over or moving really, when a baby's head is between your legs is quite the feeling! Anne hopped on the bed and pulled and pulled while I pushed and pushed to get that shoulder out from under the pubic bone. It was 2.5 minutes after his head came out that the rest of his body came out at 5:10am. There was not really any time for waiting to cut the cord. She immediately cut the cord and took him to the table to rub him down. Thankfully his heart never stopped beating but it did take him a minute to breathe. As she was rubbing him down she told Jon to start praying. It was a fairly intense 4 minutes after the head came out. We were all thankful when he started crying and it looked like his collar bone was not broken.

Interestingly, when I had been imagining this birth--listening to my intuition--shoulder dystocia kept coming to my mind. I think that perhaps it was the Lord preparing me because when she was pulling him I was very calm and peaceful even though I knew the outcome could be grave. Graham's Psalm was Psalm 121 and I knew that God was not going to let any harm come to him. I knew that He was watching over his coming and going.

After he started crying I finally got to hold my little boy and spend some time bonding with him. His precious little face was bruised but he was beautiful to me! We were taking bets on how big he was. Anne kept saying she thought he might beat her record of 11lb6oz but he didn't look that big to me. Sure enough when we finally put him on the scale he was 11lbs 12.5 oz and 23" long. Labor was from 1:30am to 5:10am start to finish. She said he was the biggest baby born in that birth center!

I couldn't believe that I had an almost 12 pound baby and was sooooo thankful that I was in the birth center surrounded by people who believe in birth. If I had to go to that non-stress test on Tuesday I am not sure that I would have passed to have the baby in the birth center. If they guestimated the baby to be as big as he was the doctors who back up the midwives at the center would not have cleared me to birth at the center and probably would have been talking to me about having a c-section.

The other thing that amazes me is that that I only had a couple of skid marks (minor abrasions) and didn't need any stitches at all! I think taking my time to push out the head helped but also I couldn't believe that I didn't tear when the midwife was pulling with all her might with my pushes while I was on my hands and knees. What a blessing to not have stitches! I tore with both Ewan and Isaac so I was completely amazed. My symphysis pubis is pretty tender and sore so I will be taking more of the Ligaplex to get that working better. I got a chiropractic adjustment that will hopefully help. It hurts like the dickens in my pubic bone when I stand up or move my legs in certain positions. I think that it separated some and that is why it is so sore. Hopefully the Ligaplex will help repair the cartilage.

As they were working on Graham I felt the placenta detach and it was sitting at the base of my perineum. I was ready for it to be removed. I didn't want to stand up to let it fall out because I was pretty sure I wanted active management of 3rd stage (birth of the placenta). I wasn't sure what my blood count was going into labor and I didn't want to lose too much blood this time and end up with a transfusion again like I did with Ewan's birth. With the size of Graham I think Anne would have recommended it anyway because women who birth extra large babies are more at risk for post partum hem0rrhage. Active management includes massaging the fundus (top of the uterus) and getting a shot of pitocin to help the uterus contract and the blood vessels to close where the placenta was detached. Normally breastfeeding is enough to get the job done but I thought the benefits outweighed the risks in this case.

Ewan came back down after his movie was over and was so into his brother. I was so happy that he was there even though he chose to go upstairs during the birth. I think being able to come and see the baby on his own time table was good for him. I think it was good that he was not in the room during the critical time of getting the baby out. He would have noted the tension and I don't want him to remember birth that way.

I don't know if it is an age thing but Ewan is much more connected to Graham than Isaac is. I think Isaac may be working out some jealousy issues.

So, I don't know if the eggplant Parmesan was coincidence or not but I guess it wouldn't hurt to add to your list of natural ways to get labor to come.

We all are doing well and enjoying our time together. This was my first birth center birth and I loved it!

An update to how we are doing: Breastfeeding is going well. We had to get his frenulum under his tongue clipped so he could nurse better. It is apparently a very strong genetic factor because all 3 boys have needed it done. Graham is starting to gain his weight back and it is looking like there won't be any breastfeeding issues! Praise the Lord!!!!! Even though this birth was more traumatic than the others it has felt like an easier transition than the other two boys. So far Graham is not very fussy and does a good job at night. He is sweet in every way and I am enjoying him so very much!

How We Chose His Name:
Jonathan-Gift of God; God told me in prayer his name was to be Jonathan
Graham-We liked the name and he has a super cool cousin named Graeme (British spelling)
Antonius-Named after St. Anthony (more on why later)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Birth Story to Come

I am having a hard time making my way to the computer so bear with me. I have a rough draft of the birth story in the works! My goal is to have it finished in the next couple of days and to post some pictures too.

Sorry for the delay--but I am sure you understand!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Time

As per Sharon's suggestion that eggplant parmesan can kickstart labor (see comments in last post) we went to an italian place for dinner tonight and I ordered the eggplant parmesan. It could be coincidental but I think I am in labor.

I woke up about 45 minutes ago at the peak of a very strong contraction. I had been waking up a little since 12:30 at the peak of some pretty intense contractions but I thought I probably had to pee and was holding off for a while. Usually when I wake up at night with a contraction it is because I have to pee pretty bad and it is such a pain to roll my big belly self out of bed to pee. Contractions are about 2-5 minutes apart and we are packing up all our stuff and getting things in order.

I am excited--happy this moment seems to finally be coming. We are being a little conservative since the drive to the birth center takes 30-40 minutes but since the contraction are so close together and 3rd labors tend to be a little unpredictable we want to make sure we have plenty of time to get there. I have to admit I am a little bummed that it is 2:30 am because I do like my sleep and I feel bad waking up one of the midwives and Ewan in the middle of the night.

So, start your prayers and I will post again when we get home!