Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Before 10:30 AM

I was able to:
  1. Walk the dog (albeit a short walk)
  2. Eat some breakfast (the oh-so-healthy bowl o'cereal)
  3. Take a shower
  4. Brush my teeth!
  5. Blow dry my hair!
Yes! I got one good stretch of 3.5 hours of sleep last night, which makes all the difference in the world! I also managed to find Haven a new pediatrician and get the insurance info all squared away. And eat lunch. And have a friend visit Haven for the first time. So many things we've accomplished today!

Today has been a good day with a newborn...yesterday, not-so-much (so tired! such a big headache!). It all averages out, I guess.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Diapers: Who Knew?

Did you know that not all diapers are created equal? Aaron and I had always thought the diaper commercials were just marketing ploys, pouring the blue colored water into a brand name diaper to show how much it could hold compared to its competitors. We thought that until last Friday, when we had to use a different brand diaper because we'd run out of our normal diapers and couldn't find them in our size (preemie - up to 6 lbs, in case you are wondering). Sigh. I didn't know.

I thought huggies would be just fine because, well, why not? And besides, they were decorated with Winnie the Pooh and friends. Problem A: these are supposed to be diapers for LITTLE babies, but were significantly wider than our normal diapers. Haven already seems a little bow-legged - we don't need a diaper to exasperate the problem. Problem B: these are supposed to be diapers for LITTLE people, up to 6 lbs. Haven is pushing the upper limit of the threshold, just now weighing in over 6 lbs (Yay!) So if she's on the BIG side for this size diapers, why do we have to criss-cross the tabs over one another, practically attaching each tab to the opposite thigh, in order to keep the diaper on? Problem C: every diaper we put on Haven leaked, due to problems A and B.

So it's true: we will listen to commercials from now on. If you containing waste is important to you, within in reason, then Pampers really ARE better than Huggies.

See what we are learning these days??

Someday I think we'd like to transition to a waste management program that is a little more environmentally friendly, but I'm waiting until Haven is a little bigger and fits more standard baby things (for instance, a rolled up clothe diaper is about the size of her torso - that may be an exaggeration, but I'd like to wait until something like that wouldn't take over her ENTIRE body). Until then, we are polluting away. Sorry, dear environment. We promise to make amends soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pump Session: Gifts, Part II

Dear Haven,

Last night, we were all out for a walk together as a family as the moon was rising. It was big, golden, and so tangible, almost reachable there above the trees in the neighborhood. I love the moon – I love the silent witness it seems to bear to our nights, some of them dark, some of them bright. Last summer, at the contemplative retreat, the moon sat as a small sliver of light in the western sky just above the pine trees. This summer, at the retreat, the moon was full and bright. At night I would leave my window open for the fresh, cool pine air and each night I would check to see what streetlight was outside my window, only to find the moon instead, shining bright across the mill pond. As we walked together as a family, as the moon rose, I remembered that it was the four-week anniversary of your birth. That means that four weeks ago the moon would have been big and full, just on its way in or its way out, I can’t remember. Did you arrive at the beckoning of the moon? Did it have a pull on you that brought you here early? I don’t know. But maybe.

In Oregon, the full moon also illuminated the labyrinth, the dirt circle of prayer that lay next to the mill pond, amongst the trees and flowers and deer. I carried you on the labyrinth with me this year, we journeyed together in that sacred space. Before we walked the labyrinth, Nancy reminded us that the labyrinth was like god’s womb, that we were held in that space, in that journey, in that circle where we could not get lost, as if in god’s womb, in the center of god’s mercy. A space to be, a space where things did not need to be solved or figured out. And so we walked together that day in June, on the warm dirt, following the sliver stone guides as we made our way to the heart and back. I remember at one point facing east, letting the sun hit my face, raising my hands to the sky, shining you, my belly, to the trees to the blue sky, to the brilliant sun. I was warmed, immersed in that moment.

And so, four weeks ago, as the moon was big in the sky, you were busy making your way to the world and I was scared. This wasn’t what I was expecting for your arrival – I did not feel prepared and was unsure of what the day would bring, unsure of if you would be okay or not if you came this early, unsure of what all this meant. In a moment of rest I began a conversation with you and this conversation turned out to be such a gift to me, to your dad, and hopefully to you. I believe it is what brought you here, into this world, into our arms. I wrote about it in a letter to two very dear friends – it’s the best summary I have of my special moments with you:

When I went to bed last Monday night, I did not think that I'd wake up to my water breaking and that my Tuesday would mean the birth of my daughter - the week has been somewhat bewildering to say the least. My labor and delivery went well - Aaron was a wonderful companion and my doctor, the one I felt so grateful to have found this spring, was truly amazing during the delivery. There was a moment of calm in the early evening on Tuesday, when my epidural had kicked in after a very long few hours of contractions with very little to no break, where I rested and had a long conversation with Haven. I realized that we were both probably scared and weren't sure what was happening, weren't sure how this had become the birth day, and so in my conversation with her we walked over to the OE [Oregon Extension] labyrinth and I told her all about the labyrinth, how it was a space where we could journey, where we were held in all of our fears and joys and sorrows, where it was as safe and merciful as god's womb. And we walked the labyrinth together, carrying our fears with us, understanding that it was okay to have those fears, that we were safe and held. Sometimes we were alone on the labyrinth, sometimes we stopped to face the sun, sometimes we stopped on the little axes at the corners for strength and rest. Sometimes there were others on the labyrinth with us, and I named all of those people to Haven, told her what wonderful companions and fellow-journeyers they were to us.

The conversation began to wind down and Haven's heart rate began to drop and to become a little more erratic, which signaled to just about everyone in the room that she was deeply engaged in my pelvis and probably ready to make her way out. It was time to push. Aaron and I had a few moments to connect, to feel the weight of what was about to happen, and for me to share with him my conversation with Haven. The delivery was a little touch and go at times - I guess when they are this young they can't always handle the trauma of childbirth - but my doctor did some amazing work and I kept reminding Haven and myself that we were sitting in the center of the labyrinth, in the center of God's womb, and all would be well. Next thing I knew, I had a little baby on my belly and she looked at Aaron and I and began to wail, which everyone thought was tremendous that her lungs were working so well. :)

Dearest Haven, may the full moon always pull us into being, may the new moon grant us rest, and may we always remember that we are held so tenderly in the mercy of god’s womb.

(Thanks, Sarahs, for the onesie!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sometimes we sleep, sometimes we don't

Haven has been home for almost two weeks now and we feel like we are getting the hang of a few things. We also feel mystified by a few things, but figure that this will be part of our lives as parents. Do you ever really figure your children out completely? I didn't think so.

We are all doing pretty well. Haven is eating well, breast feeding well, and growing every day. She sleeps pretty well, too. Usually. For the most part. We are a wee bit sleep deprived every morning, but we don't have much to do except take care of Haven, so we are able to find time to rest as needed. (I will note: my last full night of sleep was August 5. I slept for 9 solid, dream-filled hours. Sigh. I assume this won't happen again for a good few years.)

My mom was in town last week and the week before that, which turned out to be an enormous help, especially since Aaron was working those two weeks. I had one afternoon by myself, after she left for the airport and Aaron was finishing up work. Nothing went wrong - really, it was fine - but I do think that baby-tending needs to be a two person job. At least if one is ever going to brush one's teeth.

Since Aaron is home this week, we decided to welcome Zoe back into our lives. She'd been staying with Aaron's parents since Haven was born and, while we've missed her, we didn't have the capacity to take on dog responsibilities in addition to our new adventure. So, Zoe came home yesterday. I think she is happy to be home and extremely curious about the siren that keeps sounding periodically, wondering what animal makes such a noise. She likes to investigate Haven with her big tongue, so there hasn't been much chance for her to investigate. Though she did get a few big licks of Haven's feet. Haven wasn't pleased. We like having Zoe around, but it will keep us busy to keep up with all of our dependents' needs.

Almost time for bed - at least for a short bit!

Finally some pictures!

From Schuhtastic!
From Schuhtastic!
From Schuhtastic!
From Schuhtastic!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pump Session: Discharge Day

Dear Haven,

Three weeks ago today, a post-partum nurse wheeled me out the front entrance of the hospital where your dad was waiting for me with the car. I held my purse in my lap and sat uncomfortably, still sore from the labor and delivery. In the days following my discharge, your dad and I would see this scene repeatedly, a new mom in a wheelchair by the curb, a car awaiting her, a baby in her arms. It was incredibly painful for us to leave the hospital empty handed, so difficult to have worked so hard, to have experienced so much and yet seemed to have nothing to show for it. We felt a little lost at the time, and plenty scared. I was scared that I wasn't pumping enough, wasn't producing enough and that my breasts would shrivel up and fall off and I wouldn't be able to provide you with the one thing I still had that was perfect for you. I think we were scared about what you were experiencing, what all of the machines and tubes, wires and lines, ultrasounds and scans were saying about you, communicating to you. And I think we were sad to leave you in a little plastic box rather than someone's arms. It was such a bewildering time for us.

You are home now, currently sleeping in my mom's arms while I pump just a little milk. My breasts didn't shrivel and fall off and the amazing part of this week is that you've started breastfeeding. Just a little bit but you are getting the hang of it - and I am so thrilled (especially thrilled that I might be able to not pump in the near future!).

I must admit that we are still sometimes scared, and still sometimes bewildered, and still sometimes a little sad that the start of our journey together was a little less than perfect. But it's less scary, less sad, less bewildering when we get to hang out with you. We are so glad that we are now all finally home together.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pump Session: Gifts, Part I

This summer, the contemplative retreat in Oregon (you know, right about the time I scratched my eyeball) afforded me the time and space to connect with my pregnancy, with Haven, that the previous weeks of worry and doctor-searching had left little room for. I arrived feeling healthy and energized, with all of this time and quiet to listen to my pregnancy, to just pay attention to what was going on inside of me. I could sit during morning and evening prayers with my hand on my belly and wait for her to move, marveling in the kicks, the flutters, the swirls. I went for walks and hikes regularly during the week, enjoying the fresh air and the sweat and the blood pumping through my veins, enjoying the extra package that I carried on each of those walks. Each morning, I spent some time in the silence stretching, doing yoga, in the sun, feeling the power and life of my body slowly and in sunny warmth. Fellow retreatants rubbed my belly, offered prayers for the little girl I was carrying, and gave Haven tokens, gifts, of love and prayers. In terms of my pregnancy, it was a very special week of connecting with the life that was growing within me.

Prior to the week of the retreat, I'd had a difficult time connecting my pregnancy with God. All of my images of God felt very very male - kind and compassionate, but male nonetheless. But throughout the week, images of the womb, of life, and of birth seemed to come up repeatedly, serendipitously, be it in prayers or lectio divina or the labyrinth. There seemed to be something very spiritual about the womb and birthing. And then, in the midst of connecting to my pregnancy and wondering how God might be connected to me in this, one of the retreat leaders shared with us that in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for God's mercy toward his people is the Hebrew word for womb. God's mercy is womb mercy, which seems like a decidedly female image of one of God's most powerful attributes - mercy looks like the womb. That did it for me. With all the images of God, whether God was male or female or whatever, God knew something about having a womb, carrying a new life, granting that life grace and protection, sanctuary, nourishment, wonder, and sacrifice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Resemblance

In order to finish her dinner tonight, Haven had to take a break for a poop. Once that was taken care of, she could finish her bottle no problem.

Sounds just like a certain brother of mine.

We are doing well. I'll update more soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She's Home!

We are so happy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pump Session: Isn't She Lovely

Dear Haven,

Tonight is your two week birthday. Tonight at 9:20 we were busy burping you, coaching you to "burp like Puppy Zoe" (for Zoe knows and always burps after she eats, which signals to your dad and I to reach for a towel and wipe off her big sloppy, flappy jowls before she either shakes her head or wipes it on our legs). Two weeks ago at 9:20, I gave birth to you with all my might and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I sobbed once I knew you had been born, overwhelmed, exhausted, and exhilarated. I don't know if I have the words really to describe that moment, the moment of a new life's arrival, of your arrival, but what a gift.

Tonight, after you did successfully burp like the dog (well, not quite as big or impressively as the dog, but soon you'll catch up to her), you fell asleep against my chest. Quietly, peacefully. And for as sad as I am that your first two weeks have been spent in an uncomfortable, bland hospital, there was a moment tonight where the quiet little radio in the room was playing Stevie Wonder's song "Isn't She Lovely?" And it felt so wonderful to hold you, breathing together, and think about how lovely, how wonderful you are to us.

Sleep well. Grow big and strong tonight.

Haven Pictures