Archive for ‘birthing babies’

March 25, 2015

The more kids I have, the more organized I get.

by Decemberbaby

It’s been an eventful five(!) months since my last post. Most notably, I had a baby. She’s beautiful, magical, sweet, everything a baby should be, really. For those of you who have difficulty keeping track, I now have four kids.

I get a couple of different reactions to my large family. Generally, religious people (of any faith) say something along the lines of, “what a blessing!” or, “isn’t that wonderful!” while the non-religious seem to favour, “you really have your hands full.” It’s a fascinating dichotomy which I’m sure reveals some deeper societal tendencies, but I’m too sleep-deprived to think any more deeply about it right now. If you can draw conclusions and articulate them, please share with the rest of us by leaving it in the comments.

But I digress.

I’ll let you in on the secret to having four kids and not going completely insane: organize, ritualize, and build infrastructure. And having some help, either paid or grandparents, doesn’t hurt either. But I can’t tell you how to make that happen, so I’ll elaborate on the first three.


Every person in our family, adult or child, has a binder which contains all of their official documents, all of their health information, school reports (for the kids), extracurricular information, tax information, and – for those who need it – sections for speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. Everything gets filed in these binders so that everyone knows where to look for the important stuff.

Each child (well, not the new baby) has a “look at me binder.” It’s just a plain binder with plastic page protectors inside. Whenever they bring home work that they are especially proud of, it goes into a page protector in that binder. If there’s a whole pile of artwork or school work, I ask the kids to choose a few favourites to keep. Those go into the binder, and everything else goes into the recycle bin. The binder doesn’t require any annotation, creativity, or time, and yet it creates an archive of work that’s very easy to flip through and enjoy.

We write everything down. Corollary: if it’s not in writing, it didn’t (or won’t) happen. I have a chalkboard in the kitchen where I write down the menu for tomorrow’s breakfast (usually a smoothie and something else) as well as any important notes, like “remember to bring gym clothes for trampoline class” or “no lunches – today is pizza day.” Not only does it remind us of what needs to happen, it seems to reduce tantrums, too. Recently K suggested, “Eema, you should write down what’s for dinner on the blackboard, too. That way I won’t have to feel disappointed.”

Speaking of dinner, I finally got smart and typed out a 3-week meal plan along with recipes for every dinner on the plan. The recipes are written simply (so that one day the kids will be able to cook from them) and include serving suggestions and side dish recommendations. It’s all in one binder (yes, I love binders) in the kitchen, which eliminates the frantic scramble for dinner ideas and then for recipes. Of course, we often don’t feel like what’s on the plan, so we improvise, and then there’s a scramble anyway… but on days when I can’t think or decide, the dinner binder is a lifesaver.

And lastly, the smartphone. Yes, I caved and bought the smartphone I was so afraid of. Everything is on it – calendar, “to do” lists, random notes – and it’s like walking around with an extra brain outside my body, which is a good thing since the brain inside my body seems to have lost its sharpness for now.

That’s about it for being organized. In fact, that’s it for this post. Tune in next time, when I expound on creating rituals.

What organizational tricks can I learn from you, readers? Please comment and let me know.

September 3, 2014

Is this thing on?

by Decemberbaby

*tap**tap* *feedback noise*

So… it’s been a while. How’s it going?

The past year has just been so full of everything, good and bad, that it’s hard to know where to begin. I offer no excuses for my absence, and I would like to thank both of my loyal readers for sticking around.

Anyway, for those of you who are here because you like hearing about my life, here’s the update (in no particular order):

  • The children are now ages 6.5, 4, and almost 3. K (girl, 6.5) has lost four teeth and is currently sporting the adorable gap-toothed look. N is as sweet as ever. R just started potty training and has now gone 26 hours with no accidents.
  • Mr. December is pretty much the same, although this past year he started a very demanding volunteer position, which I’m tempted to blame for at least some of my blogging hiatus. For the record, I’m very proud of the work he’s done (even though I won’t be blogging about it.)
  • We still live in our little house, although we’re slowly putting together plans for a second-storey addition. I’m getting to the point where I’d really like to have my own bathroom (separate from the kids, anyhow,) not to mention the fact that we’re going to run out of room sooner or later because:
  • I’m pregnant. Once again, I’ve lost all my infertility cred. Come January, God willing, we’ll have four children.
  • Depression still looms large in my life, though I’ve finally gotten the hang of treating it like any other chronic illness.
  • I still sew, but I’ve found that I have less and less time for it. You’d think that evenings (after kids’ bedtime) would be a good time, but I’m usually too tired to contemplate going downstairs and starting to sew. Instead I stay up way too late on Facebook, arguing for common sense in the face of hysterical helicopter parenting.
  • I still bike, although I haven’t done any really serious biking in almost a year, and it looks like I won’t be biking any significant distances until maybe March or April, or whenever the ice melts around here.

In short, life is good. I am well. And I plan to pick up blogging again, even though at times I am, as Elizabeth Bennet says in P&P, “unwilling to speak, unless [I] expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”

And on that note, I’m off to bed. ‘Night!

March 23, 2012

Shabbat Shalom!

by Decemberbaby

Ah, the secret to speedy Shabbat prep – bentos in the bath! A wooden cutting board make the perfect floating table.

The stories this bathtub could tell... births, babies, bentos...

I’m still trying, as I have been for years, to make Shabbat feel more restful and holy. Last week I managed to resist the lure of my laptop (and the internet) for the entire 25-hour day, only because just before Shabbat I shut down the computer and took it downstairs. I spent the day talking with Mr. December, playing with the kids, napping, and getting together with friends. Our Shabbat day is a work in progress, but this feels like a step in the right direction.

And speaking of progress and steps… R seems to think that she has to keep up with the other little people around here:

Up on all fours and rocking. Mummy is not ready for this!

And so, I’m shutting off my computer to spend Shabbat with the little people. I hope your Shabbat (or just plain Saturday, as the case may be) is delicious, relaxing, and happy… just like the current moment in our home.

February 20, 2012

Horton runs for office.

by Decemberbaby

You guys know Horton, right? “A person’s a person, no matter how small”?

I think we all know where he ended up… in the Oklahoma state senate. Supporting the newly passed Oklahoma personhood bill.

The bill declares that unborn children (by this bill’s definition, any stage from newly fertilized ovum up to full-term fetus) are recognized as persons, with the same rights as any other person in Oklahoma. This, of course, opens up all kinds of potential abuses:

“But officer, Iam a high-occupancy vehicle! I’m a fertility doctor and I have three hundred test-tube embryos in this cooler!”

“I’d like to claim a dependent on my taxes… how old? um, six weeks gestational age.”

All joking aside, I’d like to explain to you why the abortion debate infuriates me:

It seems to me that there are a couple of straw men here, at least one for each side. The pro-life camp decries the use of abortions as a form of too-late birth control. They seem to feel that, left to our own devices, women would throw caution to the wind and have unprotected sex because “there’s always abortion!” Perhaps there are some women who operate that way, but I can’t imagine there are so many of them.

In the meantime, the pro-choice camp trots out the argument that no woman should be forced to carry to term a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest (although I don’t really understand the “or” there; if it’s consensual incest, she could have forseen the possibility of pregnancy and it’s not the same thing as rape. If it’s forced incest, how is that different from rape?). Again, I’m sure that there are some women who have been assaulted, became pregnant as a result, and chose to terminate. But to use that example over and over again as the reason for keeping abortion legal is missing the point of a movement called “pro-choice“.

Because when you really get down to it, the legality of abortion affects all kinds of reproductive choices – it’s not just about terminating a pregnancy. If a fertilized ovum is a person, if a three-day-old blastocyst is a person, then any infertility doctor who creates more embryos than she intends to transfer back into the womb would be a murderer. So would any infertility patient who, after having frozen a number of surplus embryos, ends up getting a divorce and choosing to destroy the embryos rather than use them. These issues alone would be enough to make many fertility treatments unfeasible, thus restricting women’s right to choose to get pregnant.

Women who get pregnant the “good old-fashioned way” aren’t exempt here, either. If a pregnancy is discovered to have implanted outside the uterus (some figures put this as happening in 2% of all pregnancies) it generally must be terminated. Yes, must. An ectopic pregnancy can cause the rupture of the fallopian tubes or other organs, leading to hemorrhage, leading to death. It’s not even a question of the mother’s life or the baby’s life in those cases – it’s either the mother’s life, or nobody’s. Under the personhood law, a woman who is treated medically for an ectopic pregnancy could be found guilty of murder, although one presumes that she could plead self-defense.

And let’s not even get me started on the alarming idea (already a reality, albeit a rare one) of court-ordered caesarian sections on the basis that the mother may be endangering the life of the fetus (for example, a mother who wants to have a vaginal breech birth.)

There are other cases I won’t go into here, but I think you get the picture. The abortion debate is about choice, and it’s not just about termination. I don’t usually hold with slippery slope arguments, but as soon as you erode one reproductive choice, you erode them all.

See these guys? The one on the right is N (we think.) The one on the left (aka "the one who didn't make it") could be Oklahoma's new poster child.


October 31, 2011

How I lost 9 lbs, 4 oz in 2 and a half hours

by Decemberbaby

I woke up at 5:30 on a Wednesday morning. This was nothing particularly new, and I figured I’d go pee (for the fifth time that night) and then have a snack before going back to bed. I was having mild contractions, but this too was old hat and I refused to get my hopes up that this might be the real thing. I used the bathroom, had a glass of milk and went back to bed.

I couldn’t sleep – the contractions were intensifying and it was impossible to sleep through them. I decided I really needed a cup of tea, so I made one while the bathtub was filling. I nudged Mr. December awake and told him I had paged the midwife. “Are you sure this is it?” he mumbled, opening one eye just a crack. “Yes, I’m sure.” I snapped back, “And she’s on her way right now, so for God’s sake, get up and PUT SOME PANTS ON!” I’m pretty sure it was my tone of voice that convinced him.

I got into the tub with my iPod (cleverly sheathed in two ziploc bags) playing some solo piano music and breathed through some contractions. I sipped my tea. Mr. December appeared at my elbow with deviled eggs and I ate half of one before the next contraction demanded my attention. The midwives arrived and checked me – I was somewhere around 7 centimetres and fully effaced. The baby’s heartbeat was good. I breathed through some more harsh contractions.

I remember from N’s birth, feeling out of control with each contraction and feeling physically wrung out in between. “It’s not actually about the pain,” I blithely told people later, “you just have to manage the intensity!” It may have been true at the time, but this time I raised my head from its resting spot on the edge of the tub and announced to the midwives, “This time it’s about the pain. This f***ing hurts!”

That being said, I was completely silent during contractions. Mr. December got the birth on video, and it looks like I’ve just decided to rest on the edge of the tub for a minute or two. It looks peaceful and serene. I can assure you I didn’t feel that way. But it didn’t feel scream-worthy, and besides, my two kids were asleep in their bedroom a mere fifteen feet away from where I laboured.

Right, the kids. We tried to give them (and my parents) some extra time to sleep, so we didn’t call the parents until about 7:00 a.m. They arrived eventually (later I learned that my mom had almost fainted at the thought of me in labour) and began ushering the kids out of the house. N was too sleepy and snuggled against my dad to notice me as he passed the bathroom, but K saw me and doubled back. I asked her for a good-luck kiss; she sneezed on me instead. And then the kids were gone, and suddenly I needed to roar. It was around 7:45 a.m.

The student midwife asked me to shift position so that she could hear the baby’s heart. I did, but as she was maneuvering the Doppler scanner, I pushed her hand away and got back into my position over the side of the tub just in time to roar through yet another contraction. When it was over, she asked me to try again. This time I managed to lie there through a contraction, but it was more painful than if I had been on all fours. I wondered whether it would feel better to do some mini-pushes through the contractions. I tried, but it just wasn’t going anywhere. I was roaring through contractions by this point, and the midwives gently asked me to turn around so that they could have access to the baby.

Suddenly I got the unmistakable urge to push, and I did. My water broke but nothing else happened, or so it seemed. I pushed again and got that “pooping out a bowling ball” feeling, but instead of relief as the whole head slid out (as it did with N), I felt it stop halfway when that contraction ended. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than that head-half-in-half-out feeling.

One push later the head was out – what a relief! – and I knew what would come next: a single push and the feeling of little arms and legs as the body slid out of me. That didn’t happen. The body felt stuck. As the next contraction hit me, I yelled, “Jeez, will you guys just PULL!?!?” The midwife did some maneuvering with the shoulders, and our baby was born. It had only taken a minute, tops, from the birth of the head to the birth of the rest of the body, but it felt a lot longer than that. It was 8:13 a.m.

I turned around and sat while they put the baby on my chest. It hadn’t cried yet – had it breathed? – and the midwife rubbed the baby vigorously until it did. At this point I looked at Mr. December (still manning the camera) and held the baby up, butt-first. “Call it, honey,” I instructed. “Is it a boy or a girl?” “A girl.” came the reply.

Our girl was quite cold and wasn’t breathing the way she should be, so the midwives took her to the “warming station” they had devised and gave her some oxygen and wrapped her up next to a hot water bottle. They had asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and go with her, but I decided I’d prefer to deliver the placenta in the tub and then take a shower. See where my priorities were? I was stinky and couldn’t wait to get clean. Mr. December was with the baby anyhow, and our midwives are lovely, and I figured they could do without me for five minutes while I worked on feeling a bit human again.

By the time I got back to the bed the baby was warm and pink and ready to try nursing. She latched beautifully, after I was reminded that newborns need a lot more support and guidance than older nurslings. How quickly I’d forgotten!

The midwives checked me for tearing and found only a very small one that required no stitches. Someone brought me breakfast, and the midwives left Mr. December and me to snuggle with our daughter as they gathered in the dining room to eat and debrief. A while later they returned and completed the newborn assessment (she was 22 inches long and weighed 9 pounds and 4 ounces – a pound and a half bigger than N, and two and a half pounds more than K!). Around 11:40 that morning, the midwives were on their way to the clinic to get on with their day.

This birth didn’t quite have the magical feeling of N’s. Because the baby’s shoulders were getting stuck, or maybe because she was so big, pushing wasn’t quite the relief I remembered it being. Also, there are a few pretty unsavory details I’ve left out (suffice it to say that your body deciding to empty your intestines before labour is good; your body making the same attempt during labour is really, really gross). That being said, I’m still glad we decided on a homebirth again. The atmosphere was so peaceful – there were no interruptions to break my focus – and having the midwives to support me throughout was absolutely priceless. They handled what could have been a very bad situation (shoulder dystocia) so calmly and efficiently that Mr. December hardly noticed that anything was amiss, and even when they had to take the baby from me to get her breathing, they asked my permission to take her and offered me options. They even cleaned up and left us with only a bag of laundry, a sealed bag of garbage, and a placenta in my freezer (we need to plant another tree).

And now our baby girl is here, and our life is forever changed. Oh, and I feel positively svelte.

October 15, 2011

… and baby makes three

by Decemberbaby

She had her first bath in a soup pot. Mr. December wanted to move this photo shoot to the kitchen and throw in some onions, but I nixed that. Notice that baby girl is sleeping? She slept through the entire bath. I think I might buy her one of those upright european baby tubs.


Notice the dark circles under Mr. December's eyes? He always looks worse after childbirth than I do. Must be the endorphin rush that he's missing.


Our whole crew. Baby is about eight hours old and has now survived being held by her big sister and closely inspected by her big brother.

October 12, 2011

Oh, baby.

by Decemberbaby

It’s a girl!

She’s 9 lbs 4 oz – a pound and a half bigger than N was, and 2 1/2 pounds more than K. She’s beautiful and amazing and has a ton of dark hair.

Labour was pretty quick – I woke up with some mild-ish contractions at 5:30, and baby was born just after 8:00. Stay tuned for a birth story sometime next week.

Going to nap now.

October 6, 2011

I cried.

by Decemberbaby

No, this is not about Steve Jobs. I mean, I love my MacBook and iPod and everything apple, but this post is just a lot more selfish than that. Sorry to disappoint.

Today’s midwife appointment went pretty much the way most of my appointments have gone. Baby’s heartbeat is good, my measurements are fine, etc. But today I was one day past due, and I’m tired of this and said so to my midwife. I asked if she’d do a “stretch and sweep” and she replied that she didn’t think it was a good idea at this point. Next week, she said, if I was still pregnant, she’d be happy to come to our house and rupture my membranes in the hope that it would get labour going.

“Next week?” I wrinkled my nose and then sighed. “I don’t think I can take another week.” The disappointment started welling up, as did the tears. And I cried.

At this point I have to tell you that I’m not generally a crier. I mean, I’ll cry if something really sad happens, but I’m not the sort of person who gets teary at weddings or who cries at movies. Tears just don’t come easily to me.

So there I was, crying in the midwife’s office, as she explained again that since I’ve had two wonderful uncomplicated vaginal births before, she expects that my body will do this on its own. She pointed out that a stretch and sweep or AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) could mean that if my water breaks and I don’t go into active labour within a certain time frame (I think 24 hours), I’d automatically end up in the hospital needing pitocin. She said that she knows how much I want to give birth at home and that with no medical indication for induction, there is no compelling reason to try moving things along.

She said all the right things, things that I would want any care provider to say to a mom who’s feeling done with pregnancy. Except when I’m that mom and I’m feeling so emotionally and physically drained. I’m tired of the on-again-off-again painful contractions. I’m tired of not making plans for the next day because “what if I’m in labour?” I’m tired of not being able to sleep, what with the contractions and having to pee all the time and the discomfort of sleeping in a bed made for a person when I’m shaped more like a hippo. I’m just tired. So I cried.

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. Maybe there’s something in particular I’m supposed to be davening for? Maybe I need to let go of my illusion of control and accept that my brothers won’t meet their newest niece or nephew anytime in the next few months? Maybe I need to stop swinging wildly between excitement for this baby and ambivalence about how it will affect the other kids, my parenting, and my marriage? Who knows.

I came home from the appointment and took a long nap. Our babysitter left, I put N down for a nap and explained to K that she needed to play quietly by herself for a while, and slept some more. I got up and moped around. It feels ridiculously similar to a depressive episode. No matter how many people say, “it WILL happen!” I keep thinking, “yeah, that’s what I thought last week and it hasn’t yet.” I know depressive thinking when I see it, and for me that’s a prime example. I have no right to be depressed – healthy, fetus, healthy pregnancy, supportive family – and yet I feel like I am. And it scares me. So I cry.

October 5, 2011

Work-in-Progress Wednesday – Due date edition

by Decemberbaby

Sorry about last week’s absence, everybody. I was busy trying to get Rosh Hashana stuff done, and I decided in favour of braiding round challahs and picking wildflowers with the kids rather than blogging. Yom Kippur is right around the corner, so now that I’ve apologized you have to – in the words of Homer Simpson – “forgive me, or your God will punish you!”

Ahem. Back to the program. I haven’t seen any posts from Lisaleh or Bookishima lately, so I think it might be just me this week. That’s okay, it’s a busy time for Jewish bloggers everywhere. I’m sure they’ll join us after they’ve recovered from four weeks of overeating, then fasting, then overeating again holidays.

And now for the works in progress…

Completed: baby quilt (and pattern!)

Here’s a quilt for a new baby boy. I actually took the time to make a pattern, and then I used that pattern to cut fabric for two quilts – way faster than my usual method! Here it is:


Completed: cloud wall decals

I wasn’t fully satisfied with the shape of the cloud I made myself. Then I was at Lowe’s and found some cloud wall decals on sale – but they weren’t repositionable, and I wasn’t crazy about their colour. But they were only $10 on clearance so I bought them and used them as stencils. The clouds look great, the vinyl shelf paper is totally repositionable and wipeable, and I’m happy. So here they are – my cheap ($15 for the whole set), removable, wipeable cloud wall decals:






I think I’d like a few more clouds. If I have time I’ll go and get some more contact paper and make them, but for now I’m happy with the result. The room looks brighter and cheerier already.

In Progress: Ugly kids’ flip-out-couch makeover

Someone recently handed us one of these:

Well, ours has the Wiggles on it, but you get the idea. It’s tacky, tacky, ugly, and has no place in my living room.

(Yes, I’m a toy snob – which is another post for another time – and have banned tacky licensed toys from my home because they offend my aesthetic sensibilities.)

Anyhow, I’m planning on sewing a new cover for it out of fabrics that are fun but also coordinate with our living room. K loves this couch and is devastated that it’s currently out of commission (I’ve ripped apart the cover so that I can copy the pattern). I figure this is the perfect way to bring on labour: start a time-consuming project that I won’t be able to finish when the baby arrives and the absence of which will disappoint my kids to no end. If that doesn’t get labour going, what will?

So that’s that. I hope that the next thing I post will be a birth story, or at least an announcement, but at this point I feel like I’ve tried everything and now I just have to wait. With my luck, I’ll be back next week pledging to create new mobiles for the kids’ room and placemats for our dining table.

Happy Wednesday, and G’mar Chatima Tova – and an easy fast – to my Jewish readers.

October 3, 2011

Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

by Decemberbaby

I’m still pregnant.

There is a magical line (somewhere around the 38-week mark) where that stops being a massive relief and starts being a bit annoying. Actually, I think that line appears sometime around the same time as people start calling you to say, “how are you guys?” but really mean, “had that baby yet?” I’ve even fielded a call from my in-laws tonight, who said that someone they know who knows me on facebook told them that I was in labour. Um, no. I am having contractions, but no labour. Twice in the past two weeks I’ve said to Mr. December, “I think you’ll end up having to call the midwives tonight.” Yet here I am, still pregnant.

And yes, I’m whining. My due date isn’t even ’til Wednesday.

In the spirit of serving this baby an eviction notice, I’ve tried many things. I even went to a massage therapist who only told me after I was naked and lying on the table that she felt it was unethical to massage the pressure points that can bring on labour. Um, thanks. Check, please!

I’ve been guzzling raspberry leaf tea, which so far has done nothing but make me pee a lot. I’ve tried plenty of “doing what got the kid in there in the first place” which is admittedly easier when you conceived spontaneously rather than through IVF (I highly doubt that the egg-retrieval equipment can handle anything as large as a newborn baby). I’ve tried lots of walking, bouncing on the exercise ball, lifting heavy objects (22-pound and 36-pound children, respectively), and self-administered accupressure. I’m getting contractions, but they kind of hang around and visit for awhile before deciding to leave. I need the kind that will bring along a U-haul and holler, “we’re moving in! where’s the fridge?”

Now, I firmly believe that the baby will be born when it’s ready. I believe that if the baby isn’t ready, there’s a reason and it’s probably better not to rush things. I think that if I let these piddly-ass contractions do their job, when labour finally happens it’ll be faster and smoother. But I also think it would be nice if my brothers (both of whom live far, far away and will be in town next weekend for three days) could meet their newest niece or nephew. Even better if they can attend the bris or naming, though at the time of typing this I only have another 18 hours or so before the bris would end up being the day after they leave.

I also believe that this kid is disturbing my sleep so much that he or she might as well be disturbing me from the outside. At least then I’ll be able to turn over in bed.

So there you have it. In principle, I’m against trying to induce labour (even naturally). In reality, I want to get this show on the road. Anybody know a good RMT with no scruples about hitting those labour-inducing pressure points?