29 July 2012

Weekend in Photos

We had a busy (but good!) weekend. Now that we've crossed over the one month line of parenthood, it feels like the fog is starting to lift. I'm encouraged by the fact that this weekend reminds me a lot of our pre-Madeleine life, so it looks like we're well on our way to integrating her into our lives.

I laced up the ol' running shoes and hit the pavement for the first time since last fall. It wasn't pretty, but every step is one in the right direction.

I've started calling Madeleine "Sweet Pea," so it seemed appropriate to pick up a bunch when I took her to her first farmers' market on Friday night. They smell soooo good!

We have a (very mini) tomato!

Fuchsias are blooming!

The dahlias just keep getting bigger and better. Misha tells me they're dinner plate dahlias, which makes sense given their (extremely large) size.

On Saturday night, we celebrated the 40th birthday of a friend (not pictured). Madeleine was up past her bedtime and slept through loud music, a crowd of people, and singing and cheering by about 50 people. Good girl.

Breakfast burritos ready for the freezer. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Madeleine is ready for a busy day of BBQs and meeting friends. Thanks for the great outfit, Aunt Sherry!

Fresh peaches at the farmers' market means that I have to find time to bake a peach pie....such great therapy and so delicious.

Lots of daddy/daughter time allowed this mum to go running, get back into the kitchen, actually do my hair, find my makeup again, and get a few extra hours of sleep to power it all. I am incredibly lucky.

What did you do this weekend?

27 July 2012

Madeleine's Birth Story

On Madeleine's one month birthday, I thought it was time to share the story of her birth. This story is personal and may be considered graphic by some. If either of these things make you uncomfortable, best to stop reading now. And, be warned that a labor lasting more than 24 hours does not make for a short story. :-)

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Many birth stories are all about the mother and, to a lesser extent, the baby. The story of Madeleine's birth is a story of our family. Madeleine's arrival is every bit a credit to George as it is to me. When the going got tough, George stepped in and made it possible for me to make it through. He may not appear a lot in the story, but put simply: I could not have done it without him. I thought George was a strong man before, but, after this, I know it.

Although I was under the care of an OB and planning to deliver at a hospital, my birth plan was to labor and deliver as naturally as possible without any unnecessary interventions. Part of this was motivated by my opinion that childbirth is a natural process rather than a medical one; part of this was motivated by my deep and complete hatred for needles. I did not want a c-section unless there was a medical emergency and strongly preferred to go unmedicated.

In preparation for labor, I'd regularly attended prenatal yoga during my second and third trimesters. This helped me to remain flexible and active during the pregnancy as well as giving me positions and breathing techniques for labor. George and I attended both a one-evening yoga for couples in labor class and a one-day labor and delivery class, describing the process of labor and general hospital procedures.

The Big Event
On Tuesday, June 26th (the day before the due date), I woke up with contractions that were noticeably different than the contractions I'd been experiencing for weeks. Realizing that something might be up, I went back to sleep for a few extra hours. Throughout the day, the contractions continued, but they were 15 to 30 to even an hour apart. In the afternoon, I went to my previously scheduled OB appointment, and George and I had an early dinner. At home, we went for a two-mile walk to keep things moving. During the evening, the contractions got stronger and were closer together. (Sidenote: I'm glad I was tracking contractions in the age of cellphone apps.) By bedtime, about 10pm, I felt pretty confident that I was in labor. I tried to lay down, but the contractions were too strong. So, I suggested that George get a few hours of sleep, and I bounced on an exercise ball while trying to finish Half Broke Horses (I did finish it - great book!).

By 1am on June 27th, it was time to call the doctor as the contractions were one minute or more in length, four to five minutes apart, and had been in this pattern for over an hour. I woke up George, and we called the on-call physician, who told us to come in as soon as I felt the contractions were getting nearly too strong and too close to drive in. (Note: we live about 20 miles from the hospital where we planned to deliver.) We showered and finished packing our bags.

At about 3am, we arrived at the hospital and proceeded to triage, where a nurse checked my cervix for progress. She told me that I was not dilated enough for admission, so my options were to get a shot of morphine to numb the contractions for six hours and go home, go home unmedicated, or walk the halls of the hospital for two hours and come back to see if I'd progressed. Given the distance between home and the hospital (and the severe discomfort of having contractions in the car), George and I opted to walk the halls. At 6am, we checked back with triage with contractions now noticeably stronger than when I had originally checked in, and the nurse told me that I had not progressed at all. The first two options were now my only options. Very unhappy about the prospect of sitting in traffic going home and sitting in traffic returning and without any clear explanation of when I should come back, we left the hospital (unmedicated). A mile or so from the hospital, I told George to turn around because we had to go back...and we did. By now, it was about 7am. We returned to triage, were told that I'd progressed far enough to be admitted, and were shown to a labor and delivery room where we were assigned a nurse for the day and received a visit from my OB.

Throughout the morning, the contractions continued, and I was able to breath through them. Although they weren't pleasant, they were manageable as they didn't seem to get closer or stronger and my breathing technique was working. At this point, I'd been awake for 24 hours and hadn't eaten in over 12 hours. Thankfully, my OB allowed me a full diet, so I ordered and ate some hospital food and snacked on some energy bars we'd brought along.

At about 1:30pm, my OB came back to check on me. My dilation and effacement progress were slow, and we all agreed that breaking my water was the right thing to do in order to keep labor progressing. Immediately, the contractions were much (much, much, much) stronger and noticeably closer and longer. I was no longer able to breath through the contractions on my own but rather relied upon George's (awesome) ability to keep me focused and under control through each bout of pain and pressure. I tried several different laboring positions with no relief. This is how things continued throughout the afternoon and early evening. Even though it went on for hours, I don't remember much of it because I tried to stay focused on each contraction as it came.

When my OB finished her office appointments, she came by to check on me again. It was around 6:30pm. I'd been in labor for at least 20 hours and had not slept in 32+ hours. To the shock of all of us, I was only dilated to 4cm. I asked her for the options, and she told me that I could continue laboring as I was, I could get a narcotic to take the edge off the contractions (with the side effect of passing the narcotic to the baby, who would be born in a groggy state), or I could get a spinal epidural. I told her that if we were talking about another hour or so of the strong contractions, I could do it...but that I did not think that was the case. She confirmed that she'd expect me to finish dilating at a centimeter an hour (so about six more hours). I opted to get a spinal epidural, needing both rest and pain relief.

Shortly after 7pm, the anesthesiologist arrived to administer his goods. As he set up, he read me the legal warnings about possible side effects and the like. Even in that moment of pain and exhaustion, I found some humor in my profession interfering with his work. I digress. The process of getting the epidural was less than pleasant as I had to be still and not breath deeply (my coping mechanism!) through very strong and frequent contractions as a massive needle was being weaved through my spine. Despite his warnings that it would take 10 minutes to take effect, I felt relief almost immediately. I could still feel a light pressure telling me that contractions were happening, but I no longer felt the need to respond to them. And, while I couldn't sleep with all the monitors on me, I did get some much needed rest.

Sometime around 9 or 9:30pm, the on-call OB came by to check my progress and found that I was complete (100% effaced and dilated to 10cm). It was time for active labor (aka pushing). I love that this is called "active labor" - as if the rest of the labor isn't active?!

I started pushing around 10pm, and at 10:30pm on June 27th, Madeleine was born. As soon as she was born, the OB handed her up to my chest. As she did, the umbilical cord snapped because (unbeknownst to anyone but Madeleine) the cord was exceptionally short, less than a foot long. Fortunately, Madeleine had already taken her first breath, and this didn't create any complications for her. It did mean that we were not able to donate her cord blood, have the cord stop pulsating before being clamped, or have George cut the cord...but we'd much rather have a healthy baby than any of those things. After such a long labor, it was a beautiful shock to have her arrive so suddenly. We didn't even have cameras ready!

Our labor and delivery experience was a great first lesson in parenting: go in with a plan but remain flexible enough to change course should it become necessary to do so. For example, I never imagined having an epidural (I couldn't even watch the video in the labor and delivery class without getting lightheaded), but it ended up being a great decision for us. There's a lot of hype around laboring/birthing methods, but we continue to believe that the most important thing is ending up with a healthy baby.

Happy One Month, Madeleine!

You may have physically only been here a month, but you've always been part of our family.

Your daddy and I love you SO much!

June 28, 2012

July 27, 2012

25 July 2012

Madeleine - Week 4

This week's fabric is particularly special because it comes to us from my dear friend, Julia, in Maryland. As luck would have it, Madeleine's crab outfit coordinated nicely. Thank you, Julia!

I chose this particular photo because Madeleine is currently working very hard on controlling her hands in order to get them into her mouth. See the look of determination on her face?

And, yes, her hair is looking redder (more red?) by the day.

22 July 2012

Weekend in Photos

We had a good weekend at our house, though some of the best parts were not captured on film phone. Madeleine met several of our friends, some local and some in New Zealand (via Google+ hangout), and reached a few milestones. Namely, she went six hours between feedings, giving this tired Mama four uninterrupted hours of sleep: the longest consecutive sleep I've gotten since the night of June 25th/26th. While I have no expectations that this will become the norm, I remain hopeful.

Without further ado, some photos from the weekend:

Little eyes

Our dahlia the size of Madeleine's head...if not bigger...impressing me with what I can grow by doing absolutely no cultivating at all.

Madeleine is considering burning her Chinese-made Ralph Lauren onesie in solidarity with the U.S. Olympic team.

More GPO cuddles - compare with 20 days ago.

We've been temporarily using disposable diapers (love these ones), and Madeleine made the jump from newborn size to size 1 this weekend.

The final wearing of the Kate Quinn yoga pants didn't make Madeleine as sad as it did me.

We all love the beautiful merino onesie that arrived from Uncle Heath on Friday - perfectly timed for this cool summer day.

How was your weekend?

20 July 2012

What's in a name?

I previously wrote here about the process of choosing a name for our daughter. I thought you might like some more specifics about how we ended up with Madeleine Ngaire.

I'll start with Ngaire because that's where we started. Ever since George introduced me to this Maori name, I have loved it. Shortly after learning that we'd be having a girl, George and I hoped to include Ngaire in her name. However, we knew that our daughter would spend at least some part of her life living outside New Zealand and the South Pacific, so giving her a first name that was not phonetic and virtually unheard of in most of the world seemed harsh. Using Ngaire as her middle name seemed like the perfect way to remind her of her Kiwi roots and give her name some international flair without all the hassle of a difficult first name. Ngaire it is.

Choosing a first name was much (much, much, much) more difficult. (Again, see the criteria we used.) After about a month of trying on virtually every female name imaginable and not finding any names that we both really liked, I suggested that we think about the characteristics we wanted for our daughter. George and I both want our daughter to be strong, determined, and independent (remind me of this when she is a teenager - yikes!). So, we started thinking of women in politics who embody these characteristics. Helen. No. Margaret. No. Eleanor. No. Hillary. No. Madeleine. We both agreed that we liked the name Madeleine. A day, a week, a few weeks later, and we still liked the name. So, we started calling my belly Madeleine. It stuck. After considering the various spellings (Madeline, Madelyn, etc.), we decided to be true to the name's French roots and use the traditional spelling. We've also decided to wage a war against her being Maddie/Maddy. Her name is Madeleine. :-)

And...that is how our daughter ended up with the name Madeleine Ngaire.

15 July 2012

Weekend in Photos

Hello, weekend.

Our first walk in the Ergo was a huge success.

It's not always happy faces and giggles around here.

Dad, do not go anywhere.

Baby cowlick.

Milk coma (and mom/baby matching colors).

Sunday afternoon/evening snooze.

We had a low-key but enjoyable weekend and look forward to this week's challenges as the man of the house heads back to work. What's on your agenda for the week?

08 July 2012

Weekend in Photos

Grandma Janie and warm, sunny weather came to western Washington on Friday. We managed to get out for a birthday party and a Sunday drive. What a good weekend!

This mama is obsessed with this Kate Quinn gown on her adorable baby.

Madeleine's hands and nails are already growing. Slow down!

Sleep is easy in Grandma's arms...

...and in Daddy's arms.

Madeleine was an angel for two hours of newborn photos. 

"Please, Ma, no more photos."

And she slept well after her portraits. 

Every good nap ends in a good stretch. 

George gave Madeleine her first (pumped breastmilk) bottle. Success.

Party dress. Check. Next stop: birthday party.

Sunday afternoon nap...

For not doing anything to our hydrangeas, I'm glad to see they're blooming.

And there's even more than one! 

How did you spend your weekend?

05 July 2012

Madeleine: Week 1

This is the first installment in a 52-post project to track Madeleine's growth over her first year. The idea (borrowed from several sources online, including Young House Love) is to take a photo of our sweet girl each week on a different fabric. At the end of the year, we'll have a fun way to look at her growth and 52 meaningful fabrics, which will (hopefully) become a quilt and a stash of fabric for projects over the years.

For this first week, there are two photos. Madeleine was so excited when we started to put her into her Little Firecracker onesie that she decided to pee all over it. So we took some naked baby shots while we waited for the onesie to wash and dry.

02 July 2012

Weekend in Photos

I've uncovered the secret to getting the most of the weekend: have a baby! I recall the clock saying 1:30am at the start of Saturday, and last night I watched the time tick over from 11:59pm to 12:00am...all the while only sleeping about six or eight hours in between. I haven't had that much weekend...mmm...ever.

Anyway, photos...

Madeleine and her GPO

Daddy and Daughter Time

First cloth diaper (we love them!) and the onesie top from her mother's birth

Despite taking at least half the care of our daughter, George still manages to make gourmet meals from fresh ingredients. 

Our friends, Sam and Brian, brought us sushi from our favorite local sushi joint.  Mmm, sushi, how I've missed you!

Madeleine received her first piece of mail. Thanks, Aunt Denaye and Uncle David!

Daddy's Sous Chef

Excuse me. I'm just plotting to take over the world.

Theresa brought us lactation-promoting cookies. They are seriously tasty. 

Madeleine's Milk Mustache

You didn't expect this to be about anything but Madeleine, did you?  :-)

This weekend was overwhelming. Even more overwhelming than the responsibility of caring for our brand new baby is the overwhelming love and support I've felt from my (rockstar, super amazing, awesome, wonderful, beyond-even-the-most-complimentary-adjective) husband and from our friends and family across the globe.