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On Tuesday, February 22nd, at 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I woke up around 5 a.m. with mild cramps. 

I wasn’t excited – I still hadn’t managed to wrap my mind around the fact that I really would have a baby soon.  And I didn’t want to be one of those “oh my gosh I’m in labor!” women and then it turns out to take another week. 

Nathan, however, was very excited when he woke up a couple hours later and insisted on starting to time my cramps.  They weren’t very regular, anywhere from 6-9 minutes apart.  He called into work and we sat reading in the breakfast nook, way earlier than we ever get up together.  Laying down to try and sleep again made the cramps worse. 

Around 10:30 a.m. he decided to go out and buy cigars and I gave him a list of ingredients for this somewhat complicated Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Pie I wanted to make.  I was sure I’d be bored for the next few hours until we went to our regularly scheduled doc. appt. at 3 p.m.  We’d already called our doula and the midwives and they said just keep tracking the cramps (contractions?) and go to your scheduled appointment. 

By the time Nathan got back from shopping, the cramps had gotten more intense.  I wasn’t sitting through them anymore, but standing and bending over onto the counter, or getting on my hands and knees. 

The pain still didn’t seem bad though, and in between I felt fine.  Meanwhile, Nathan started packing up the car, sure we’d be staying the night at the hospital.  I guess somewhere in my mind I accepted that as a possibility because eventually I made sure everything I needed was packed too. 

Trying to have a contraction and pack at the same time.

At 2:00 Nathan said the contractions were 3 1/2 minutes apart and convinced me to leave early for our doc. appt. (Which I should note is in the main hospital where we’d be delivering). 

Being out of the house seemed to make the contractions more painful.  I remember leaning against the wall in the hospital with my eyes closed thinking the elevator was taking foreverrrrrr.  They got me to the exam room immediately after seeing my condition.  The midwife came in to check me and I was at 6 centimeters!  So they wheeled me straight to Labor & Delivery, it was the real deal, and I still couldn’t believe it. 

We got into our room at 3:30 and the next four hours are a fast blur in my memory. 

I spent a lot of time on the floor on my knees, with my head resting on the bed and Nathan pushing on my hips during contractions.  They hurt, and made me whimper and swear a few times, but were not excruciatingly painful. 

In our hospital room.

I need to insert here than I’m sort of a huge wimp.  I’ve never experienced pain in my life.  I don’t do vigorous exercise – even running one mile seems strenuous.  I’ve never made it past a beginner’s yoga class.  I hate being uncomfortable and think people who wear stilettos are nuts.  So yeah, even though I dislike medications and wanted a natural birth, I was definitely ready to let them drug me if the pain got too bad. 

Around 5:30 the midwife suggested I try to push with the next contraction instead of breathing through it.  I tried, and it lessened the pain, but I had no urge to push and really no idea what I was doing. 

At this point I was on my knees in bed, which was in the a fully upright position and I was leaning over the back of it.  From there, they got me to move onto the toilet and also try a physically challenging (for my weak legs!) squatting position to help move the baby down.  My water broke as I was shuffling back to the bed from the bathroom.   

Leaning over the back of the bed and holding onto a cloth rope.

 I got on my knees in the bed again and continued pushing with the contractions, even though I never felt a strong “urge to push”.  They told me to push like I was pooping, and I finally let go and did exactly that, even though my naked butt was eye level with three people looking right at it.  In this post you can see a little video clip of me telling Nathan to “get a picture of them wiping my butt”.

They told me to grunt very low, so I did, but probably would’ve been silent otherwise.  The midwife had to keep putting her fingers in the spot where I was supposed to focus my pushing.  Just goes to show it’s not all instinct, but I was lucky enough to have an excellent midwife, doula, and nurse to coach me. 

Before I knew it, they said the baby was moving down and they could feel her head inside me, did I want to feel it?  Nooo I didn’t.  I preferred to stay in disbelief that this was really happening and it wasn’t the time for a reality check.

They had me change positions again so I was sitting mostly upright in bed, sort of on my side, with one leg way up pushing against the nurse’s chest. 

My delivery position!

I don’t remember being in pain at this point.  I don’t know if I’d remember much at all if it weren’t for the pictures & Nathan’s recap.  One thing I was terrified of was tearing**, so if anything I was holding back just a little on the pushing.  But just a few more pushes and about 15 minutes later, Jane was born. 

Our new family

I was in shock, slightly hysterical, in total disbelief that I did it and here was our baby!  By all accounts I was acting like I was stoned during most of the labor, but now it was like I’d taken some crazy upper drug.  I shook uncontrollably for hours after her birth, unless she was laying with me.  See this post for a video of us immediately after she was born

The whole experience was not nearly as scary or painful as I’d imagined.  For perspective though, both the midwife and doula said it was one of the easier births they’d seen. 

I know luck played a large part in everything going so well, but all the natural birth research, being in a comfortable environment with people I trusted, and really believing this was something my body was meant to do had to have some small part too. 

K

**I was surprised to learn I did have a 2nd degree tear, but they numb you for the stitches so I barely noticed.  All that worry for nothin!

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Baby is here!

Jane Mavis, born at 7:26 on 2/22/11.  8 pounds, 5 ounces. 

I’ll have lots to tell later, but Nathan just posted this on his Facebook wall:

“This hospital food is terrible.”

Along with a photo of my placenta.

Bwwwahahahaha.  I love my baby’s daddy.

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We thought the due date was the 17th and then at the unexpected ultrasound last week they told us they had the 19th written in our file.  So we’ll just say it’s today, as if it matters anyway!

I’m feeling surprisingly chilled out.  Maybe I’ve realized by now that none of this labor and actually having a baby stuff will seem real to me, well, until it’s happening. 

Otherwise I’m very physically comfortable and not impatient…I know it’s very possible I could still be sitting here in my cubicle next Friday. 

The one reason I’d sort of want labor to start this (3 day) weekend is because we have no plans yet and I don’t want to be bored, HA! 

And I’m getting a little tired of being stared at all the time.  Ya I’m a leo and generally like all the extra pregnancy-related-attention, but especially out at the bar feeling constantly on display gets old. 

Anyway, I didn’t have enough time to make dessert on V-day, so I made these for Nathan on Tuesday – Orange Chocolate Buttercream Truffles. 

Orange flavored chocolate is not my personal favorite, but he really likes orange dreamsicle and orange julius type stuff, and LOVED these chocolates. 

This is another recipe I picked up at the last Compassionate Action For Animals Cooking Class.  They’re not hard, but take some time.  They’re extremely rich, like a specialty chocolate you’d pay over $1 apiece for in a nice chocolate shop!

Vegan Orange or Vanilla Chocolate Buttercream Truffle Recipe

(Makes about 36 pieces)

-1/2 cup margarine, soft, but not melted. (I used Earth Balance)

-3 oz. vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti brand)

-1 1/2 t orange or vanilla extract

-6-8 drops food coloring (I happened to have this on hand and used 4 drops each of red and yellow to make a lovely pale orange)

-4 cups powdered sugar

-2 cups chocolate chips (Note, most good quality chocolate is naturally free of dairy.  Really, it would be a crime to use Hershey’s in this recipe!  Buy some decent semi-sweet or dark chocolate.) 

Directions:

In a large bowl blend margarine and cream cheese with a mixer.  Add in flavored extract and coloring.  Blend in powdered sugar one cup at a time until well mixed.  (Note – I was a little freaked when mine didn’t make a smooth mixture, it was more like small little chunks, but worked out fine!)  Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. 

To assemble, first melt chocolate: 

-If you’re a baking pro and have a double boiler, go for it.

-I used the method with a pot, glass bowl, and simmering water.  You can also melt it in the microwave, but have to be careful with both these methods, chocolate is easily ruined.  Google it for detailed instructions. 

Form the buttercream into 1 inch (sort of flattened) balls, place on foil or waxed paper, and spoon melted chocolate over until the top and sides are covered.  The original directions say dip the balls in the chocolate, but I thought my way was easier: 

Yum. 

Happy weekend, maybe next time I post I’ll have had a baby…!

K

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I’m not one of those people who’s terrified of their water breaking in public. 

We’re feeling really ready now for baby to come and I’d be happy if my water broke anytime, anywhere.  Most likely I’d yell “Oh shit, my water just broke!!”  for anyone within earshot to hear. 

 If I was in the office, one of my poor co-workers who I’m not even close to would have to be guilt tripped into driving me home, since I take the bus to work. 

Ahhh, yes I’ve imagined the whole scenario, while sitting here in my cubicle…

I think we’re feeling even more ready for her to be born after our minor scare these past couple days.  At my regular appointment on Tues., the midwife (one I hadn’t met) said she was concerned because my uterus hadn’t grown for the past two weeks. 

(For anyone unfamiliar with pregnancy stuff – they take a tape measure every week and measure the height of your uterus by feeling the outside, to the nearest centimeter.  Not exactly precise technology.) 

So they wanted to do an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok.  And it was scary, even though it was just a very early precaution.  Worst case scenario was that I’d stopped producing amniotic fluid for some reason, causing the uterus to be smaller, and I’d have to be induced, but none of this poses serious risk to the baby. 

But, it was still scary. 

We went for the ultrasound yesterday, and everything’s fine.  Plenty of fluid, nothing abnormal at all. 

But, even a minor scare makes you appreciate how precious health is.  

K

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The official due date is Feb. 17th.  A lot of people are guessing earlier for whatever unscientific reasons, Nathan and I both like the sound of the 12th.  But I’m trying to mentally prepare for the fact that this girl could have a March b-day too. 

I’d been feeling great early last week, but Thursday and especially Friday felt unusually tired, huge, and crampy.  I really wanted to go out and play in the weekly bean bag tourney at one of our favorite bars Friday night, but getting out of bed at all made my whole stomach tighten up. 

Feeling better now, but my whole uterus seems to have jutted OUT a lot more:

Right now it’s 1:40 p.m. on Sunday.  Our weekend schedule, without fail, has always been:  Go out Friday night, go to sleep 2 a.m. or later, never ever wake up before noon, shower/sit around and read/eat breakfast from about 2-4 p.m., maybe run some errands, go out again Saturday night and repeat on Sunday. 

People like to laugh in our faces and tell us how this will change forever when we have a kid.  So, I’m trying to really enjoy it while it lasts. 

Usually my breakfast is something simple – toast, fruit, or oatmeal – but today I was hungrier than usual and used this recipe to make Vegan Blueberry Pancakes.  They turned out great, and are pretty healthy too.  I topped with Earth Balance, 100% pure maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.   

My variations:

-Used 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour and 1/3 cup regular whole wheat flour.  I think any flour combo would work fine. 

-Doubled the amount of blueberries and it wasn’t too much. 

-Threw in 1/4 cup shredded coconut, but unfortunately couldn’t taste it at all. 

-Keep in mind you can sub any sweetener or oil for the agave and oil in the recipe.  I used some agave and a little vanilla, and canola oil.

-Added a couple extra splashes of soymilk because the batter seemed dry.

That’s a lot of variation I guess, don’t be afraid to play around with whatever ingredients you have on hand and make some pancakes!

Also, I used frozen blueberries from Trader Joe’s.  They can be expensive at other places, but frozen fruit is one of the really affordable things I always stock up on at Trader Joe’s

My one “errand” for today is going there to stock up on some more prepared/frozen food than usual in case the baby comes!  Then we might head over to the bar to play some darts and watch the superbowl – a lot of Minnesotans are adamantly against the Packers, so it should be interesting.  I don’t even know the rules of the game but am cheering for the Packers because the enthusiasm of some hardcore-Packer-fan friends of ours (who are AT the game!) has rubbed off on me =).

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Everything I read says it’s sooo expensive to have kids.

I don’t believe this has to be true, but right now I can only speak with any credibility on what the costs are to prepare for having a baby. 

As of yesterday I’m officially full term, and we’re ready (in terms of material things at least!) 

Here’s a breakdown of our baby related expenses so far:

The Big Ones:

Medical Costs:  $1800.  (Out of pocket max + deductible)

Doula:  $600. 

The Small Ones That Really Add Up:

Cloth Diapers & Accessories:  $300.  This includes diaper covers, pre-folds, cloth wipes, diaper pail (a.k.a. plain garbage pail from Target), and washable liner bags.  I got some diapers off craigslist, but got overwhelmed with looking so ended up buying most of them new from Peapods and Green Mountain Diapers

Maternity Clothes:  $200.  I actually spent more than this but subtracted a little based on the average amount I spent on clothes in pre-pregnancy months (not very much!).  My maternity wardrobe consists of all my regular pants held up by a BeBand, a pair of leggings from Motherhood Maternity, 4 dresses, 7 tops, 3 t-shirts, and 2 nursing bras that I may return if they don’t fit well post-partum.  None of the tops or dresses were “maternity” specific and I’ll be able to wear them after baby, so the real cost is a little subjective.

Dresser:  $125.  A large, newly refinished, solid wood, great condition dresser from craigslist, delivered free of charge from about 50 miles away.  We looked around for awhile, including at places like Ashley Furniture and Slumberland, which were selling same size crappy particle board dressers for $300+, plus $80 delivery charge.  We also sold some furniture on craigslist to convert the 2nd bedroom to a baby room, maybe $100 worth, so the real cost of this is subjective also. 

Baby Prep Classes:  $115.  We took one class we had to pay $55 for and the rest through the awesome non-profit Childbirth Collective, which is donation based. 

Other Random Stuff:  Consigned bouncy chair & some clothes ($15), Glider from craigslist ($10), Adorable Froggie Hamper ($20 – I’m not completely immune to falling for cutesy baby decorations!) , Diaper Bag from craigslist ($25), Moby Wrap ($40), Books – The Birth Partner and Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth ($20, both recommended!), Pink Curtain ($20, which will serve as a closet door instead of the ugly heavy dark wood foldout one that was there). 

Grand Total:  $3,300

If we skipped the doula and some of the nicer and not completely necessary items, we could’ve saved about $1,000.  But, we are neither extreme minimalists nor dirt poor, so we spent more than we needed to. 

All other major baby items (crib, car seat and stroller, changing table, bassinet, clothes)  were gifts or hand-me-downs. 

My biggest piece of advice for saving money on baby stuff:  Get as much as you can used, then register for the rest at somewhere like Target where it’s easy for people to buy off the registry AND easy to return registry items.  Then be sure to return anything that you don’t really need! 

$3,300 is a lot of money for us, but worth it for what people say will probably be the most important event in our lives. 

Most women, even those way, way in debt, are wearing well over $3,300 on their left hands and probably spent many times that paying for the day the ring got put there. 

So, comparatively, I feel like our money has been well spent and that we haven’t strayed too far from our frugal values. 

K

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Week 36 Pregnancy Pic

Feeling pretty big, but thankfully still not too uncomfortable.

The time is creeping closer and closer. It’s still so hard to believe there’s a little baby inside of me, who’s already fully formed and would probably be perfectly healthy if born right now.

It’s a little easier to believe at times, like today when the midwife examined me and said she’s a good sized baby, not huge and not tiny, probably about 6 pounds at this point. Nathan got to feel the head, which seemed to sort of amaze him. (Still head down, yay!)

We are almost ready. Still left on my to-do list:

-Find a pediatrician

-Find some daycare options (even though I won’t be sure of my work situation until at least halfway through my maternity leave)
-Finally order the rest of our cloth diaper supply (trying to search on used sites got frustrating, I’m planning to order from the site Green Mountain Diapers)

-Make an iPod playlist for the hospital.

-Make a packing list for the hospital and start getting a bag ready. 

-Have as much fun as possible and enjoy my last few weekends sleeping in and being extremely leisurely. 

Those are the major things.  Can anyone help me with the pediatrician task?  Right now I have a list printed out of docs in our area who are covered by our insurance.  I plan to call the offices and…  ask if they are taking new patients and if they have a holistic approach?

What does that even mean?  I don’t have a specific list of questions to ask.  All I know is I’m very wary of doctors and am not sure yet what we want to do about vaccines, want someone who is supportive of my diet and who won’t push drugs. 

Also, is there anything you wish you’d done the last few weeks of pregnancy, either practical or indulgent?

K

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