More pictures?

You'll have to talk to my husband about that -- the memory card is full and he's in charge of emptying it. So no new pictures!

OK, here's one that I took with the camera built into the laptop:

Ups and Downs of My Recent Birth

I really loved nearly all of my birth experience. I got nearly all of my wishes and I'll go over the ups after the downs, to end on a good note!

In a perfect world, I would not be a VBAC mom -- most of the negative parts of my birth experience stem from the restrictions and attitudes that go with the VBAC. Continuous monitoring (and of course the telemetry monitors didn't work). Crazy charge nurse having to be there for 2nd stage. Said crazy charge nurse flipping out during crowning because they couldn't get a good FHT reading. Said crazy charge nurse telling me how to push when I was doing fine. I had a 2nd degree laceration and I wonder if I had been able to continue pushing as I felt it, as I was trying to do, if I would've remained a little more intact!

I wish PA was more homebirth friendly and I hadn't had a previous cesarean, and that our house was a little more suited to a homebirth. Then I might have considered a homebirth. I missed my kids immensely -- my mantra was "oooooookay" which is Badger's latest favorite word, and it just felt horribly wrong not to have Chim with me since she had come to every midwife appointment and shared the excitement and comforted me in a way that no one else in my life did.

Now, what I will remember positively...
I am so glad my midwife is my midwife. He advocated when needed and gave me space to advocate for myself and joked around when needed and told me what I needed to hear -- as he has since I had unexplained bleeding in February 2006 when I was pregnant with Badger. My only regret involving Patrick Thornton is that I did not try to transfer to his practice while I was pregnant with Chim.
I had a ball for most of the labor. Even hooked up to the monitors and after my water broke, I was able to freely move about the room and drink (and if I wanted to eat I reckon I would've). I brought my doula bag and my midwife got a kick out of nosing through out. And as with most clients' births, the only thing I used was lip balm and lotion!

I loved being emotionally and mentally present in a way I wasn't for Chim's and Badger's births. A combination of being that much more familiar with the process and an acute awareness that this was the last time I'd have this experience.

Similar to the way in which Badger's VBAC resolved a lot of pain from Chim's cesarean birth, this birth resolved a lot of pain from my miscarriage last year. And in another way it made me mourn that loss on a deeper level.

It was a very good birth. My biggest regret is that it was my last birth (barring a massive failure of an IUD that has my name written all over it... or a stellar increase to our income level). My greatest joy, well, that's easy:

4 weeks with baby boy.

he's so sweet. typical newborn stuff like spit up and not wanting to be put down... but i find that i am a lot more patient with him and his needs than i was with chim's and badger's when they were infants. i am a little distressed about the state of my house -- primarily because my inlaws are visiting next week -- but it'll get done and if it doesn't, they'll still love me :)

my husband described having a newborn around with a preschooler and a toddler as running a marathon while carrying a 10-lb bag of sugar. it's not necessarily that the sack of sugar is that heavy, it's that you're running a marathon! i had a lot more patience for the bigger kids when i could interact with them more actively instead of sitting and nursing all day.

but he's a sweet pea baby and we're all just in love with him!

cloth diapering.

i started using cloth diapers with badger this spring with the intention of being able to use them with the new baby, under the assumption that badger would someday start to use the potty. i'm sure he's not too far off but in the meantime, i am so turned off cloth diapering! in the short few months i have been using these diapers, they've become stained, stinky, harbored a stubborn yeast infection, and have just been disgusting to handle, especially the soiled diapers.

i took a break when the new baby arrived but now that his bowel movements have lost that newborn runny quality i started with both boys in cloth and have had mixed results. one day i'll have leaks on both boys, the next day i'll have none. but i've determined that i am done done done with cloth on badger. it's too gross. i can manage the breastmilk poop but sorry planet, i am putting my nearly three year old in disposable diapers.

Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding

very excited about ina may's guide to breastfeeding, out in a month or so!

now if she would write na may's guide to holding a baby and typing.... we'd be set here.

for my family members who may happen across the blog...

the birth story below contains some rather straightforward talk about my labor and delivery with baby boy. it's a doula's birth story after all! so if you are my dad, my brother, or my father in law, be forewarned :)

this public service announcement has been brought to you by karen the pittsburgh doula!

Charlie's Birth Story

Albert Charles's Birth Story
Tuesday July 28, 2009 – 10:44am
8 lb 7 oz., 20 1/2”

Throughout the third trimester, I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions, and generally feeling very healthy, happy, and energetic. I really enjoyed this pregnancy and concentrated on remembering the physical sensations and emotions I felt during this time.

On Monday July 27 my contractions were starting to feel a little more crampy but nothing to time or stop me in my tracks. ChimChim had school and Badger had speech therapy in the morning, and afterwards we went and got new litter boxes for Salem. The three of us went to Chim's favorite restaurant, Qdoba, and I got the vegetarian gumbo with the spiciest add-ons. Chim and Badger were really fun and great listeners on our outing and I thought about how glad I was that we could have a special, pleasant, fun lunch, just the three of us.

Throughout the afternoon nothing really intensified but during dinner prep (fettucini alfredo) I started noticing the contractions a lot more – while I was draining the pasta, notably! During the evening they kept going and for a span of 90 minutes, during which time I lost my mucus plug and took a shower, they seemed to be getting regular. But then around 10 they fizzled out and around 11 I decided to drink a little beer and try and rest up.

Well. Baby likes beer because as soon as I lay down to sleep the contractions became regular and frequent – every 3-5 minutes – but mild. Since they weren't mild enough to sleep through, I called my midwife at 1am (poor guy) because of the frequency of the contractions and this being my third baby. He suggested I take a shower and see if that slowed things down or got them started. They didn't change but at least I was super clean! My husband put Krull on TV to try and bore me to sleep. It worked for him but not for me, I was up for the long haul. I was able to do some laundry and light cleaning since I was sure I would not be home for several days.

I was able to lay down on the sofa for about 20 minutes before I had to move with the contractions, probably around 3am. I used the birth ball and hot rice socks for pain relief. At 4am we called Kelly to come over to watch the kids – it was getting pretty intense and I didn't want to get to the point where I didn't want to make the car ride. I called her home phone.... no answer. Called again..... no answer! Kelly had been in Seattle visiting her husband on business but she was SUPPOSED to be back on Monday... I tried her cell and she picked up – hooray! She was here in 30 minutes or so. I packed up a few more things, told Kelly to expect my parents to be there to relieve her by 10am, called the midwife, and off we went to Magee!

On the car on the way there, I had an excellent PB&J, and we called my parents' home phone. No answer. Tried again at Magee. No answer. I was admitted and I'm 4-5 cm, which sounds right to me and I am happy with the timing – glad I didn't wait so long that I had to get used to the monitors, new people, etc., too close to transition. I had my heplock placed and we headed to the LDR. I was psyched that I was able to wear my own clothes.

Once we were there we finally got in touch with my parents. They were on their way home from the ER – my mom had gallstones and they'd been up all night. They had an appointment with a surgeon to schedule her surgery at 1130am, so my husband spent probably about an hour on the phone and emailing to see if anyone could help. Finally around 730 he got it settled. Phew.

I listened to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Farmhouse while I did my thing with the contractions. They were still quite manageable and I was more concerned at this point about my energy level. I had been up since Monday morning, more or less. I worked on the birth ball to conserve my energy. At 830 or so I was not in a suitable amount of discomfort so the midwife and I talked about AROM. I said, let's check and see the progress and see how far down the baby is and then decide. Well, I was 7cm and then my water broke. Fluid was clear. Not a particularly vigorous exam so it was ready to go. I could feel the difference almost immediately. I integrated the more intense contractions while in bed for probably 30 minutes or so and then got out of bed. Things continued to intensify and I could tell the baby was descending. I felt those kicks and punches and started to cry because I would miss being pregnant. I held on to Sayf during the contractions and probably around 930 I started to feel some pressure. This was a big deal because I had never felt an urge to push spontaneously – someone looking at a monitor would have to tell me. One of my hopes for this birth was to not have directed 2nd stage!

So I was pushing while standing and being encouraged by my husband, my midwife, a resident, and I believe a nurse as well. At some point I moved to the bed and things get sort of muddled. I was checked and there was an anterior lip (shit!) but within a few contractions it was gone. I was sort of on my right side, just because that's how I guess I landed on the bed! I was very aware of the baby moving down and frankly wanted no part of it. I kept telling my husband that I did not want to do it. He would reply, “Well, what do you want to do?” He was right – it really wasn't a question of whether or not I wanted to! I didn't believe it when they told me it was all going well – and frankly that's what everyone was saying for 4 hours as I tried to deliver Imogen so one can forgive my skepticism! I was able to reach down and feel the head – what a strange strange feeling – and that was very motivating.

The baby was crowning, I swear to god, for 10 minutes. The nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest apparently is a charge nurse at Magee and when the baby got too low for the monitors to pick up the heartbeat, with me being a vbac mom, she got into the directed pushing. I pretty much ignored her instructions about shutting up and holding my breath. I like breathing and lord knows I hate shutting up.

Finally, at 10:44, I delivered a healthy baby boy (as Nurse Ratched announced, despite our requesting that my husband be the first to say so!), APGARs 9/9, 8 lb 7 oz, 20 ½ “ and just sweet as anything. We named him on the following day – Albert Charles.

Welcome to the world Charlie! Thank you for a great birth!

introducing charlie...

i know i have been absent -- getting our 3 bedroom house ready for family member number five has been keeping us busy!

without further ado: introducing baby charlie! born 7/28, vbac #2. 8 lb 7 oz, 20 1/2"