Photos of a Homebirth

21 01 2012

Here I am, 5 months along. I’m smiling because I no longer have morning sickness.

 

6.5 months pregnant.

8 months, looking forward to my upcoming delivery.

Dear Baby, we are due to meet next week. I can’t wait to meet you.

 

One day before Bean is born, 2 days into contractions, I just wish it would get over with already.

 

9:54 pm.

 

10:36 pm

 

10:39 pm. Mr. Ewe was amazing. He chanted with me through contractions for hours!

 

11:55 pm. Triumph! She was born into my own hands while Mr. Ewe and two midwives assisted me.

 

New mama.

 

New papa.

 

She never cried. Not once. She just looked around the room a lot.

 

The end.

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8 months pregnant!

3 09 2011

We have a rather unusual living situation here. Picture a large 1940-s farmhouse set on 8 acres, partially wooded. In the back we have the orchard with a trail leading down to the tree line, which houses a small (polluted) creek and pond. In the house, we have 6 bedrooms, which house Mr. Ewe and I, our “landlord” “T”, a world-travelling aquaponics system builder, “M”, and then my closest friend “C” and her partner, “P”.

My midwife is 30 minutes away, and has a lovely birthing suite that I used almost exactly 9 years ago. We have had several house meetings with our roommates to make sure they were comfortable with my need to have a homebirth. Lucky for us, everyone is on board. T will probably shut himself up in his room (we don’t see him for days at a time anyhow), M will be out of town, C will be my and Mr. Ewe’s labor assistant, and “P” will be doing an imitation of “T”, but in his own bedroom. I probably won’t call the midwife until the last minute as I really just want her here if something goes bad and to sign off on the birth.

I am planning on letting C and P know when I go into labor because they are going to start making homemade chicken noodle soup (with homemade noodles!) for our first post-baby meal. Mr. Ewe is in charge of getting the fire nice and hot, putting stones into the crock pot for hot stone massage, and making my placenta smoothie as MY first post-baby meal (we’ve been collecting wild fruit all summer just for this smoothie).

I plan on walking around outside a lot, visiting with the goats a little, sitting on my birth ball, and possible ending up in the bathtub if I feel called to do so. We decided on not getting a birth tub just because I remember from last time I coped better with pacing than with water.

I am so excited for our newest housemate to arrive next month. I’ve been having some spotting and somewhat regular “contractions” for a couple weeks now, so the house has all but put me on bedrest, as no one is ready for the baby to come yet. I’ll be letting the midwife know at next week’s appointment what’s going on in case I really do need to be on bedrest. It’s nice having so many people around us that are just as excited and nervous for the baby as Mr. Ewe and I are. It’s also nice being put on light-duty and house rest and knowing that the chores will still get done.

I think right now, some of the things I am most excited about are eating some placenta to see how that helps with PPD, and getting breastfeeding right this time. I really am looking forward to having a breastfeeding relationship with my child that doesn’t hurt me and frustrate both of us.

 

The last few weeks have been so busy here! We have been working like mad to get our newest housemates moved in, get the house ready for fall/winter, get the animals ready for fall/winter, plus I have had an insane urge to nest.

For starters, when C and P arrived, we (everyone else but me, really) had to empty out our basement. This house has been a rental for a large number of years, and has accumulated a lot of left behind, unwanted junk as people have moved on. As these things piled up, storage space got smaller and smaller for the people still living here. It finally came to a head when we realized that we had new tenants: rats. The cats had done what they could, but the rats had too many hiding places and ways in/out that the cats couldn’t get to. The rats had to go. And going they are. As stuff gets removed to the driveway for sorting we are finding nests, entries and cat toys (dead rats) all over the place.

Seeing everyone else cleaning the basement led me to clean out my bedroom. It is on the NE corner of the house, and is therefore quite dark most of the year… especially in winter. The previous user of this space had painted it this godawful pastel puke mint green color with brown trim. I couldn’t take living in a pastel mint green room anymore. So C and I broke out the paint I had brought with me from my old apartment and re-did my walls. Now they are a rich deep purple and egg-yolk orange. I had Mr. Ewe hang a bunch of shelves after the paint cured, and got all of my stuff out of my dresser and onto shelving. I also got everything I have for Bean so far on shelves. In one corner right next to my side of the bed, I set up a nice Ikea chair I got from the thrift store a year ago. The chair is right next to a window and underneath Bean’s shelves. It’s my new nursing corner for when I want to get out of bed, but don’t want to leave the bedroom. I absolutely love my “new” bedroom!

We still need one more wall’s worth of shelves for Mr. Ewe so we can sell his dresser, and one wall of book cases so we can unpack the last of our boxes. The last thing I want to do to my room is to hang fabric on the ceiling to muffle sound. We are directly beneath M’s room, and when she is home, I don’t want to interrupt her sleep with a crying baby, if possible.

And the last thing I really want to get done before Bean comes (besides about 10,000 sewing and knitting projects) is to get the animals ready for winter. We need some sort of a mobile pen for them to go in during the day for rotational grazing, the goat pen itself needs to be expanded about 75%, and we need a more permanent and stable barn for the animals to sleep in. Right now they are in a lean-to type shack, and the “barn” is really just some 4×4’s sticking up from the ground. Yesterday we got the pen bedded with 8 cubic yards of fir mulch that we had delivered for free. I think the plan is to deep bed the barn and pen through the winter, and then clean it out to the garden in the spring as compost.

I will have pictures hopefully soon, as soon as I figure out which box my camera ended up in when I cleaned out my room to paint.





Knitting, Sewing, Cooking, Farming

11 08 2011

WARNING: LOTS OF PICTURES IN THIS POST

So we are at 30 weeks 4 days here in the pregnancy. My body is finally forcing me to slow down, and mentally, I’m ready for it.

I still have daily farm chores like caring for the goats and chickens, and playing with the kittens.

I’ve started cutting back on milking, much to the goats chagrin. They have been unhappy about the upset in their routine, namely having to deal with overfull udders while their bodies adjust, and less grain because I believe that ruminants should be grass fed, not grain fed.

Seriously. The only goats that GET grain are the milkers, and then it is just a little bit to keep them from kicking the milk bucket over. I get less milk than their grain fed relatives, but the milk tastes so much sweeter, it is worth it.

I’ve started keeping a journal of my goat thoughts while I’m out in the field with them. Someday I want to turn it into a book.

On the domestic front, things have been gearing up for a busy end of the month and an even busier September. My roommate got our “new” freezer wired up so I can start cooking ahead and freezing meals for this winter, and it gives me somewhere to put all of our extra milk. I’m actually considering roping my roommates into ramping the girls up on a twice a day milking schedule for a couple of weeks so we can freeze a bunch, AND THEN drying them off. We only have two milkers that give anything, so it wouldn’t be too hard. Schedule and energy wise, I only have it in me to milk once a day at the most right now. I just know that in the middle of winter, I am going to be craving that sweet white gold for hot cereal, fresh milk bread, chowders and all sorts of other things.

I’ve been knitting like a fiend in my “down” time. So far, in the last couple of months, I’ve made:

two pairs of long wool soaker pants two pairs of newborn sized soakers. All the soakers are from the Sheepy Pants pattern

 4 bibs from Mason Dixon Knitting, Baby Bib O’Love 2 sock monkeys for my nieces, the pattern is Jerry the Musical Monkeyworking on a Horai Scarf for Mr.  2 bibs as a gift, working on a Miralda Lace Shawl turned blanket for Bean. The blanket is two triangular shawls knit in the round. The final shape SHOULD be a square, or square-ish. and a mystery Knitalong shawl by WestKnits for my midwife.  I also got out the sewing machine and made 8 diapers, and 2 skirts for myself (only one of which still fits). Funnily enough, the one skirt I can take a picture of is the one that doesn’t fit anymore. The other one is in the wash. The skirt and apron patterns are by Amy Butler, and conveniently enough came in the same package.I have cut out and ready to go 8 more diapers, about 20 pairs of nursing pads. The fabric is to make the nursing pads extra thick and absorbant, and also because I made the orange ones too small.  2 aprons  2 receiving blankets  (Mr. picked out the fabric this time!) and ring slings for Mr. and I.

I’ve been putting off sewing lately, not because I hate sewing, but because sunny days have been so rare here this year that I only want to sew when it is raining. So my sewing projects are stacking up, but I’m not too worried about it. I have most things ready to go, and a good week’s worth of rainy days should get most of what I have to do, done.

As for knitting project I still have to get done, I still need some newborn sized hats for Bean, a couple kimono or wrap type tops for the winter for Bean, 3 more pairs of soakers sized small, socks and legwarmers for Bean, I would LOVE to finish my knit blanket before Bean arrives, as well as Mr.’s scarf, I have an Adult Surprise Jacket I’m making for myself that I started LAST summer  and if I could squeeze in a pair of hand knit wool socks for myself I would be the happiest person alive. Finally, I have one project that won’t be done until Bean’s first birthday, the Beekeeper’s Quilt. I love this project so hard. I’ve always wanted to make a quilt, but don’t want to sew one. When I found a knitted version, I jumped on the bandwagon immediately! It is primarily going to be made with leftover yarn bits and whatever I can find in fingering weight on clearance from the yarn store. As you can see, I have 6 puffs done, and need about 394 more. One thing I changed about the pattern is that I am weaving in the ends to the middle of the puff, and then threading them in from front to back several times before tying them off. This will give a small dimple in the middle of each puff so the batting inside shifts around less with use.

And a couple of weeks ago I hung up my project board where I keep track of my WIPs I cleaned out and re-organized my yarn stash according to fiber content and yarn weight. I have baskets for all my WIPs, and 3 milk crates for my yarns. The bins go: wool, worsted weight or heavier  lace and fingering weight  and non-wool fibers (novelty, cotton, hemp, nettle, etc.) 

So as to why I am spending all of my time making this stuff. Well, Mr. and I have been financially… insufficient for most of this year. With a baby on the way most new parents want only the best for their little ones, and we are no different. It seems that I have spent the last few years accumulating crafting stuff (fabric, thread, buttons, yarn) so that I had all the supplies I needed to make a gagillion cute things for little Bean. I have bought very few things this year to complete any of these projects. Sure, I’ve picked up the occasional ball of yarn on clearance here and there, but that’s about it. Almost of this stuff I already had, sitting in boxes, getting moved from apartment to storage to apartment to storage and back again. I am just glad that I finally have a use for it. It means less stuff to store and move, and nice things for the baby, Mr. and me. Besides, if I didn’t craft, I would go crazy.

Maybe some day I will turn these skills into some sort of money-making venture for us, but for now, I am just enjoying creating and growing.





My Baby is Not Pink or Blue

28 06 2011

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news for my, uh, 24? nope 25 week update. But I have to get this off my gradually enlarging bosom. See, there has been a lot of talk in blogs and the news about gender lately, and I have noticed it myself as well, although to a lesser extent.

It all started when I decided to not have any ultrasounds unless my midwife deemed them necessary.  I had one ultrasound with my previous pregnancy, and it was fun knowing in advance what sex my child would be. I only had half as many names to sort through (although I didn’t pick one until the midwife was filling out the birth certificate). I only had one color that came in for the baby’s stuff: pink. Lots and lots and LOTS of pink. In fact, as soon as I knew I was having a girl, I went and bought some pink socks and onesies that were so adorable.

But that was 10 years ago, and a lot has changed since then for me. My perceptions of what I find acceptable and safe and reasonable have changed quite a bit. Now I am not as quick to jump on the ultrasound bandwagon. Babies develop in the relative comfort and privacy of their mother’s womb. Sure, sounds get through, and I am sure that Bean can notice the difference between a hoodie pulled down over my belly or the sun shining directly on my skin. A fetus will shy away from painful, invasive procedures and things like ice packs placed on the belly. I know Bean reacts to his father’s voice in the morning, and he loves it when I play music on my belly. Bean really likes anything with a cello, and Manu Chao seems to get her really active.

So what does this have to do with having an ultrasound? It seems relatively harmless. Everyone is doing it these days. But how much do we really know about this technology as expecting parents? How well do you know your ultrasound technician? How well do they know their equipment? How well is that equipment calibrated? There are so many variables that come just with the machine and the technician’s competency, not to mention the fact that we are looking at a 2D image of a 3D inner world. Mistakes get made all the time. Mothers get diagnosed with “low levels of amniotic fluid”, babies get diagnosed with abnormalities that cause stress to the expecting parents, only to find out later that nothing was wrong. Babies can also get mis-diagnosed as too small or too large for their gestational age. This can cause panic at the least, or and induction and possibly a cesarean at the worst.

These are all things I took into account when I decided I did not want to have an ultrasound done prenatally. In fact, I feel so strongly about it that I don’t even want my midwife to use a doppler to check for heart rate anymore, Iwould prefer if she used a good, old-fashioned stethoscope.

Yes, I am still excited to meet my growing baby. No, seeing a blurry image of her skeleton in advance is not going to change how I feel. But if I am eating right, exercising, taking vitamins and horrible tasting fish oil so the he can develop right, why would I put Bean and I at risk for a glimpse that won’t matter in the long run, or could change everything?

So here is the truly amazing thing about MY choice to avoid external, electronic monitoring of the inside of MY womb and MY growing baby. My choice to not have an ultrasound has an effect on other people for some reason. I have actually had people reply, incredulously, “How will I know what color to buy, and what names to pick out?” “Excuse me? What do you mean ‘What colors to buy?'” “Well, pink or blue…” they say, sort of trailing off.

I am here to tell you my baby is not assigned pink or blue based on what sex it it. There are a whole rainbow of colors and people out there, and just because my baby has a vagina or a penis does not automatically mean it is limited to one of two colors. Bean will wear every color of the rainbow, and maybe even some made up ones. Bean will have access to a full range of colors, people, and anything else I can expose her to. He can make up his mind if he like pink, magenta, purple, black, blue, green or yellow best. I know that I have a vagina, yet my favorite color is blue. My skin is pinkish, isn’t that enough pink?

I suppose this won’t be the last time that the choices I make for my family are judged by others. But I get the feeling that when people are judging the choices I make, they are really basing their judgments on the choices they have had to make for themselves and their family.





Week 15 Update

26 04 2011

I still want to be a doula, but….

This pregnancy is like an immersion class on, well, pregnancy. Each day I am a little more pregnant, and my desire to help other pregnant women goes out the window a little but more. Don’t get me wrong, I am no less compassionate than I was before. But I really want to focus on ME and MY pregnancy more than anything. I feel like the more I care for myself, the better doula (maybe even midwife) I will be in the long run.

And I don’t want to stop at doula, my ultimate goal would be to become a midwife, preferably through the Bastyr training program. God only knows how I would ever pay for that, Bastyr is SO expensive. I know that there are other training programs, some of them are quite excellent, and some of them are not even in this country. I wouldn’t mind learning how to midwife somewhere else where my services are needed more. But it always comes back to time and money. When I have lots of time for school, I am short on funds. When I don’t have time for school, I am still short on funds.

If I want this I will have to find a way to make it work. Until then, I can keep plotting, planning, and incubating Bean.

This week in my pregnancy: My belly has “popped.” I feel pregnant when I wake up, after I use the bathroom 800 times a day, when I am constantly hungry and/or cranky, when I am sitting at the computer, and when I go to bed. In other words, I FEEL pregnant all the time now. I keep poking at my belly hoping Bean will kick hard enough for me to really feel it, but alas, no such luck. Hopefully this doesn’t come back around later in my pregnancy when Bean is strong enough for revenge kicks to the ribs…

One of the great benefits of pregnancy is this awesome new set of boobs I’ve got. Seriously, I forgot how great pregnant boobs are. They don’t hurt like breastfeeding boobs, and they are at least twice as big as my pre-baby set. I don’t have to contort myself into weird positions to make cleavage happen. Hell, I don’t even have to wear a bra in order to make cleavage happen. The downside is under-boob sweat. If I don’t wear a bra, my boobs now sit at the top of my belly, collecting sweat until I notice and tuck my shirt under them.

Lets just say, these have been fun so far. But if they are this big now, how big are they going to get? And I wonder if I will get new stretch marks on my boobs this time around? Last pregnancy (sweet baby Jeebus, has it been 9 years?!) the only place I was graced with stretch marks was on my rack. No butt, belly, hips or thighs were harmed in the making of that baby. We’ll see about this one.

Something new Mr. Ewe and I are doing is taking food-grade diatomaceous earth every day. One of our roommates came home with a big jug of it and left a container on the counter for every one to try out. We already use DE ON the pets to help kill fleas during the summer. It had never occurred to me feed it to them, or to take it internally myself, but apparently it is extremely good for you. I’ll post in a bit about DE and its health benefits so you can find the info again if you want it.

Not much else is happening here. We are getting ready to clean out the basement so we can take over a larger bedroom so that there is room when Bean comes. I’ve gotten a lot of my sewing stuff out. Mostly cotton print fabric and two half-finished baby quilts. If I want to sew most of my baby clothes, I am going to need a job so I can stock up on fabric… that stuff is expensive. But so are baby clothes. Thank goodness newborns don’t need much.

Last week I also made yogurt cheese, one of my favorite dips ever for fruit and veggies. I always use plain, whole milk yogurt, but last time I was at the store I couldn’t find and plain, whole milk traditional yogurt so I had to go with the Greek yogurt. OMFG, that was the smartest thing I’ve done in a while. I comes out like a soft cheese instead of a cream cheese texture. And it tastes so creamy and rich. I chopped up some strawberries, mixed in a little honey and maple syrup, and ate it all with some apple and carrot pieces in, of, about 30 nanoseconds. I will be making that again.





Pregnancy: Week 14 update

23 04 2011

So this has been a big week for this pregnancy. This would be my 14th week of pregnancy, and I finally had my first midwife appointment. I absolutely ADORE my midwife, Christine Thain at Eastside Birth Center. I went to her when I had my first baby, Little Red. She is the sweetest, most compassionate, loving midwife I could ever wish for. She has such enthusiasm for what she does, I always feel like she cares about what is going on with me.

At our appointment last Tuesday, Mr. Ewe and I got to hear Bean’s heartbeat for the first time. The good news is that it is nice and strong. S/he was kicking the doppler a lot and moving around plenty. I wish I could feel those kicks, but it’s nice to know Bean is strong and active.

It also seems that Bean has an aversion to anything spicy in my diet. I thought I was finally over this morning sickness business, but the other day I made myself some ramen noodles sans “spice” packet, but with some Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and some garlic chili paste we got from the Asian market. Seriously, this is one of my favorite quick meals, and a staple in my diet right now. But Bean said “NO!” The ramen got to sit in my stomach, partially digested for about 2 hours, making me salivate a lot (you know, like when you feel slightly nauseas, but not enough to actually throw up?), before it made a reappearance in the toilet bowl. After that, I told Mr. Ewe, “for the love of God, please make sure I don’t anything spicy again until after the baby is born, please.”

This is hard for me. I used to love spicy things. Spice was my go-to flavor enhancer for most meals. Cock sauce, garlic chili paster, tabasco, hot salsa, wasabi. It all did the trick. Now my meals taste so bland. I actually have to think about how I season things. I have switched over to a lot of raw garlic and fresh grated ginger in place of my spicy stuff, and that seems to be doing the trick. Once we finish getting the kitchen reorganized, I am going to make up a couple of big batches of garlic ginger paste and stick it in the fridge so I don’t need a grater and cutting board every time I want to eat.

Anyone who has ever been around a pregnant woman knows one thing for sure: they have to pee a lot. What most people don’t realize is that besides having a giant water balloon sitting on the bladder and constantly squeezing it, another reason we pee so much is that our blood volume increases by 50% during gestation. More blood means that our kidneys have a lot more work to do. They have to clean and filter 150% of our normal blood volume!

Now for something very interesting. I have been having some super wicked migraines and back aches this week. I assumed the migraines were mostly hormonal, and the back aches were due to the fact that I am pregnant and have scoliosis. I mentioned something to my friend Ron, of LaTour 5 Element Acupuncture during my weekly session yesterday.

He said that pregnancy is a time when the body uses a lot of Ancestral Chi energy, which comes from the kidneys. Some of the symptoms of a lack of Ancestral Chi energy are headaches and backache. He said that old age and deterioration come from a gradual loss of this Chi and that there is no way to replenish it, but that we can help strengthen what we do have through acupuncture and herbs.

So he tonified my kidneys with a few well placed needles, and my backache and headaches cleared up almost immediately. Also, I make my own pregnancy herbal tea blend based on a couple of different recipes I found online. One of the main ingredients in this recipe is stinging nettle, which, according to Susun Weed, is great for the kidneys! So I will be making sure to drink a large glass of pregnancy INFUSION daily (as opposed to a tea which steeps uncovered and for less time.) Hopefully with all this help, my kidneys will be able to do their job more efficiently and I won’t have as many problems with headaches and backache.

Oh, and one last thing that I am super excited about. WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors. I was lucky enough to be able to change WIC offices after Mr. Ewe and I moved to the commune. My new WIC office is so wonderful. They have breastfeeding pictures and quotes all over the walls, and I was able to sign up right away for a future peer counselor. So now I have one more person on my team when the time to breastfeed comes and I have to deal with who knows what problems. I wish that my other WIC office was like this instead of feeling industrial and pro-formula.








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