Monthly Archives: September 2007

Deck building

So often I think about posting but life is so busy that I just don’t get around to it!! This is the busiest time of year for me, and this year is busier than usual with our newest arrival taking up time and attention.  :)

Today was my official due date – it’s so nice that the baby has been a member of the family almost three weeks already, instead of waiting and wondering when he would be born.   Since I didn’t have to spend energy on wondering and waiting, I was able to move on to something else that I had been thinking about for quite a while. :)))

I’ve been wanting to build a deck for the past year, and had planned it for a summer project with my kids.  I thought it would be especially nice since we would have a sturdy surface to put up the new easily assembled kind of blow up pool and the kids could enjoy water play in the hot weather.  But when the oldest two kids suddenly ended up going to sleep away camp for a month, I shelved the plans for this year – it seemed like too much to take on in the eighth month of pregnancy, in the heat of the summer, without two of the most capable workers. 

My husband has been against this idea since I first brought it up, and didn’t get more receptive to it as time went on.  :)  He felt that I have so much to do that he didn’t want to see me take on another big project.  I explained to him a couple of months ago that I like having something to do, but he was happy when I realized that the deck was too big a project for me at that time and stopped thinking about it.

What does this have to do with anything right now?  Well, yesterday afternoon I had this sudden idea that we could build the deck (freestanding platform style) before my husband came home today at 4 pm.  I knew he would be happy to have it done, and if he didn’t know we were doing it, he wouldn’t worry that I was doing too much so soon after birth.  I discussed the possibility with the kids, who were very enthusiastic, but told them my concerns about the very tight time frame we would be working under.  When I first thought about building it, I planned to allot a week to get it done – and now I was giving us a day!  I talked to them about what would have to be done in what order, and the importance of being focused on our tasks.  They realized that I wouldn’t be able to physically help them with the building (it being so soon after birth), and the actual work would all be up to them – I would just direct them.  Since I had read books about deck building several months ago, I knew what we needed to do and we didn’t need to spend much time thinking about it or researching – we just had to work out the size and layout we wanted.

The kids really wanted to do it so that we could use it for Sukkos (last year we were on the dirt and when it rained, it became mud; not so pleasant) and eagerly agreed to take on the challenge, and boy, they are an amazing team!  It was very sweet to see all six of them (oldest ds wasn’t home at first) all working together – hammering, unscrewing, etc- even my 17 month old was in on the action – he found a large bolt and used it as a hammer to bang on the wood alongside his older siblings.  When ds14 got home, he jumped right in to help.

We decided on a deck that would be 16.5 feet by almost 13 feet, eight inches off of the ground.  (Because it is freestanding, we didn’t have to worry about digging foundations or applying for permits, both potentially a big concern.)  Since we were using lumber for the frame that we collected a few months ago from a deck someone was dismantling, it took significantly more time to assemble than it would have if we had just purchased exactly the lumber we needed from the store.  But the boards were already in the yard, and it was a good feeling to finally put them to use. 

We didn’t actually manage to finish everything before my husband got home, but we did have the entire frame finished by then, and I came home from the lumber yard with the final load of wood to cover the frame with right after dh got home.  He literally was speechless – he couldn’t believe that we thought of the idea and gotten so much done in the day that he was gone.  The kids at first couldn’t tell how he felt about it, because he just kept saying how shocked he was – so finally ds8 asked if he was happy about it.  And dh told him he just couldn’t believe it, that he thought it was amazing.

Tomorrow morning the kids plan to finish attaching the surface boards – most of them are down, but all of them aren’t yet screwed into place.  Since I have alot of other things I need to do tomorrow (being erev Sukkos), they decided they want to wake up early so they can finish it by 11 am or so before they need to get to their other tasks.  It has been exciting for them to watch the deck take form and know that they have really made this crazy idea happen in time to use for our sukka this year. 

I strongly believe in giving kids opportunities to stretch themselves.  As parents, we can’t give our children confidence or self esteem, but we can give them experiences that have the potential to build an inner confidence.  When kids successfully accomplish something that feels significant to them,  they feel more confident and that confidence will carry over into many other areas of life.


Processing birth experiences

When I was a doula, the women I assisted often appreciated being able to discuss the birth and the specifics of their labors with me several days later.  I think there is an inherent desire on the part of most women to emotionally process their births, and having the opportunity to speak with someone who was there, ask questions, and clarify details that weren’t clear at the time is really helpful.  It’s important to have the time to emotionally process the labor and birth experience, especially when things are unusually challenging or when things go differently from how you imagined they would.  Sometimes it’s enough to just have time to think about it on your own, but at other times, it’s really helpful to have feedback from someone else.

Last week when my midwife visited for a follow up check, I had the chance to ask her some questions.  I was having trouble understanding what happened during the birth, why things were so unusual (like the contraction pattern, the extremely l0ng pushing stage, copious amounts of blood immediately after the birth), and wanted to hear her perspective on it.  I don’t usually feel that there’s much to ask about or discuss afterwards, but I found speaking to her about it this time sooo valuable.  As much as I thought about it on my own, I wasn’t getting any more clarity with time or distance on what happened, and was really bothered to think about a future birth following this pattern and still having no better way to understand it.

The first thing that was helpful was hearing her validate that it wasn’t me just being overly emotional about the labor and birth – she confirmed that it was definitely not typical.   I also had some specific questions that I hoped she might have some insight into, and found her responses very helpful.   She has seen many times that when there is a situation that could compromise the baby, the body will adapt and change the labor process to protect the baby.  Apparently this was one such case.  What is fairly certain is that the placenta was partially abrupted (began separating before the baby was born).   If contractions had followed the typical pattern, he wouldn’t have had time to recover from one before another contraction began – hence the long breaks between contractions even until the very end, which gave the baby time to recover (he needed more time for recovery because the placenta wasn’t fully functional).

There were some other questions that I had about specific times when the birth seemed to be held up that the midwife was able to address.  Speaking to her not only answered my questions, but left me with a feeling of intense gratitude for the positive birth outcome, as well as an increased appreciation for the amazing birth process.  Not only was our baby not compromised, he received a 10 on the one minute and five minute Apgars (my midwife rarely gives a ten for the one minute Apgar) – better than any of the others, who all received 9s on the one minute Apgar.


He’s here!

I’m delighted to share the wonderful news with you all that our newest blessing has arrived!  He was born at 1:41 am yesterday morning (Weds), and weighed in at 7 lb, 6 oz – a very nice weight, especially considering that he was three weeks early!

The birth ended a pregnancy that’s been different than my norm very appropriately – with a labor and delivery that were very different than my norm.  :)  My water broke three days before I actually gave birth, early Sunday morning, but since that happened last time, I wasn’t too anxious about it.  My midwife had told me then that most women will deliver within 72 hours of their water breaking.  There aren’t studies or statistics available on this, though, since most women have hospital births and are put into a situation of needing to deliver within a shorter time frame than many would  if labor was allowed to unfold naturally.  My midwife has been in the field for 13 years and has only seen this situation 4 or 5 times prior to me – and here I change her ratios by presenting her with the situation two times in a row!!

 I really believe that alot of the labor process is a mind game, and how well prepared you are mentally determines a lot of what you experience in the birthing process.  So when so much of this birth contradicted my past experience and expectations, it left me mid-labor feeling like I didn’t know the rules of the game.  For example, I had very strong transition like contractions, but only about every 8 minutes.  I told my midwife I didn’t know how to handle contractions like that so early on, since usually there aren’t more than just a couple like that at the very end.  She thought they were closer together than I thought, and that I might be much further along than I thought.  But they never got more than four or six minutes apart.  The unusual labor pattern was followed by an equally unusual second stage – you have to understand that after seven births (and being present for at least forty births of others), you get a sense that you know what to expect.  So when something is drastically different the eighth time around, it’s probably not a surprise that it caught me unaware!    

 But as different as this labor/birth was, it resulted in another beautiful baby.   The minute the baby is born, it always amazes me how quickly your mind shifts out of the laboring zone and into a totally different space of just being in the present with your newborn.  And for me personally, no matter what labor has been like, it all feels worth it the instant the baby is there (though five minutes before that I was wondering why I thought another baby was a good idea!).

This time I drank a strong raspberry leaf tea (two doses, since one didn’t seem to be helping), which is supposed to make labor much quicker and less painful.  I can’t know what the effect was since I don’t have another birth like this to compare to, but I have to think it was beneficial.  I’ll try it next time around and see how it works then.  :))  For those who want the recipe, it’s very simple.  Take one ounce of red raspberry leaves, and pour two cups of boiling water over it.  Let it steep for 30 minutes, strain, then drink as hot as possible once labor has begun.  (My personal tip – add honey so that the strength of the flavor doesn’t upset your taste buds.)  You can get the herbs from your local health food store, though I buy mine in one pound bags online since I get terrific bulk prices and enjoy the tea throughout pregnancy (when I remember to make it).  Raspberry tea is a great uterine tonifier during pregnancy and after birth, as well, but in regular tea-like amounts, not in this kind of strength.  Sometime in the future I’ll share the recipe that I have for pregnancy tea (I planned to share it with you when I made it for myself this pregnancy, but making the tea was one of those things I didn’t get around to doing). 

 I haven’t yet taken any raspberry leaf since the birth, though. My midwife has a wonderful (in results but absolutely disgusting in taste) Chinese herbal mix that is great for easing afterpains.  I used to have such horrible afterpains that I always felt that they made labor seem minor – they went on for two weeks and are the only thing I’ve ever taken any pain medication for.  The last birth was the first time I used this midwife (since it was my first birth in this area), and the cramping didn’t last more than three days after using this herbal mix plus the tincture she recommends, which is an amazing difference.  I unfortunately don’t know the recipe, because it’s a special mix that is made privately for her to give her clients, but the tincture that she recommends is called Afterease.  The bottle is upstairs so I don’t remember exactly what herbs are in it, but the company that makes it is called Wish Garden.  She also recommends taking liquid calcium, which I haven’t had, but I’m sure is a good idea as well.  So far the cramping has been very manageable, and it’s less than 48 hours after the birth.  I’m hopeful that by tomorrow there will be just minor twinges left. 

 My mom came by and gave me a massage, which was nice, since my ‘sit’ bones are seriously sore from the posterior presentation of the baby.  But even that is feeling much better than last night.  Isn’t it wonderful how quickly the body rejuvenates and heals itself? 

Now I’m gratefully off to bed!


Labor Day activities

We had a nice full day yesterday.  We started off by starting to finish off organizing all the boxes of clothes, but then needed to leave to a community fix up day.  We were there for several hours (not dh and ds14), and got a lot done.  Well, I didn’t do much except watch ds17 months while the kids worked.  I feel that volunteering is an important thing for the kids to participate in, to see how they can help others with their time and energy.  They are able to realize that they can help make a difference even if they are kids!  Not that many people showed up, maybe because it was Labor Day.  One of the organizers came over to ask if he could give the older girls a brand new stereo he had forgotten was there in the storage area they were clearing out, so I said it was fine.  I didn’t realize that he really meant a stereo system!  (Apparently he bought a load of 50 at an auction, sold a bunch, bartered a bunch more for a vehicle, and forgot that he had stored three more away.)  It is really nice, but really big!  So they ended up setting it up in the basement instead of their room, where everyone can enjoy it.

Straight from there I took ds to a dentist appt – his dentist was very generous in offering to stay late so he could see ds, since he knew that I made the appt seven weeks ago but then got the school calendar and found out they would be having school at the time of the scheduled appt.  The entire building where the dentist was located was locked, but we found an unlocked stairwell and went up.  There was just one problem – I couldn’t remember what floor the dentist was on, so at each floor, we walked around to see if he was there, then went back up the next flight of stairs.  He was on the fifth floor – I was finding it kind of amusing picturing myself going up all these stairs (while having lots of strong Braxton Hicks), as fast as I could (which isn’t very fast at this point :) because I didn’t want to be late. 

Right after the dentist, ds and I went to the memorial service for a friend’s 20 year old daughter, who was tragically killed in a car accident.  She was a very special young lady, who left an unusually large amount of good memories behind for someone that age (or even someone 20 years older). 

 Once I got home, I wanted to get back to the job of organizing all those clothes boxes we started on earlier, but got sidetracked when we went to set up the new stereo in the basement.  When I got down there, I saw it needed some major reorganizing, so we got to work to get that done.  I was pretty wiped out by dinner time!

I was joking to ds14 that it would be a good day to give birth, due to the name of the day, but that didn’t happen.  :)   I actually expected that it would, due to some signs and strong feelings about it, but those feelings shifted to anxiety when I found out my midwife was an hour and a half away and wouldn’t be back until 8 am.  And since dh had to leave for work at 6 am, it didn’t seem like a good time. :)  People don’t realize what a major part emotions play in giving birth or going into labor.  A woman who feels emotionally ready will let go and labor can progress, but many times labor will stall or stop entirely when something happens to interrupt her feeling of security.

 As for those boxes of clothes – that became today’s job!  We have a few boxes left that were in the room where our toddler was sleeping that we didn’t yet get to, but otherwise, all the others in the house have been moved to the attic.  So hopefully I can get it all finished up today.  Though there’s always more to get done, this is a big project that I will be glad to know is finished, and will give everyone more space in their rooms, while making it easier for everyone to find/put away clothes that they are growing into or out of.