Friday, September 30, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (the end)

I have had such a good time participating in KinderGARDENs this year. It has provided good focus for my gardening and photographing efforts. In many ways, with a new little Sprout on the scene, gardening would have taken a complete back seat, if I hadn't committed to myself that I wanted to do KinderGARDENs from start to finish (minus a few missed weeks, oops!) I can't wait until next year, for a variety of reasons, including seeing everyone else's KinderGARDENs again, and simply the sheer untapped potential (for better weather, for more diligent weeding, for tastier harvests) that next year holds. But first - a rundown of how this year finished...
Here is Bean walking through the weeds at our big community garden. To be honest, we just gave up on this garden, there was no time to redeem the lack of watering during this hot dry summer, and I just figured what could grow would grow, and everything else... would not. In front of Bean you can see the radishes that bolted like crazy. Radishes are awesome, I recommend growing them to boost the confidence of any gardener. Behind Bean you can see our kohlrabi and chard, which remain to be harvested, probably this weekend.
Here is a sample plant of the first member of the brassica family I've ever grown successfully. We picked three about this size and I chopped and stirfried them and thought they were delicious! Just like broccoli stem, which I happen to like a lot. I'm the only person in my family who will like these, so we probably won't grow it again. But I'm gonna go harvest the rest of it and eat it all by myself! Ha!
Here's Sprout keeping warm while we picked carrots. Luckily, PB's parents, who are visiting from Cowtown, met us at the garden with a truck and extra manpower, to help pull in the carrots. I wasn't sure how big or tasty they'd be, and I'm pleased to report carrots are pretty darn hardy :) We had a great harvest of at least this one vegetable from our whole plot lol. I also pulled up a few onions, and there are potatoes to be discovered at the back of the plot. We've got this weekend to accomplish the task, before the garden is shut down for the season (they plough it under each fall.) And then we're done with it. I am sad to leave the community, but we never really plugged in with other gardeners there anyway. I think if we hadn't been so busy growing a family, we'd have had a better experience growing a garden.
But, here is our alternative - two new raised beds! Altogether, this puts us at a little under 150 square feet of growing space at home, with beautiful sunlight, close to our rain barrels and water taps, and all round more convenient. Next summer, these boxes will be bursting with produce, I am SO EXCITED I'M WRITING IN ALL CAPS!!! (!!!) We'll be layering garden clippings, compost, and new topsoil in the beds over winter. We're also putting some fall onions and garlic in for tasty tasty harvests next fall :)
This is the beautiful delicate flower of the stinky coleus plant. I consider this plant a success story, and I'll be buying two (or four) next year to keep the rabbits out of the beds. We were able to grow lettuce and cabbage at home without the rabbit eating them, even though he still lived across the yard under our mugo shrubs. It sustained some freezing at the beginning of spring/summer to grow into a lush healthy plant. The smell is strong but surprisingly not that unpleasant, or maybe I just got used to it. Anyway, I'm happy to include it in my garden.
This summer was terribly dry, after such an insanely wet/flooded spring. These carrots show the effects of the dryness, I think, in their banding. See how they are all constricted at about the same level? I think the roots experienced good moisture levels above and below the bands, but at the constrictions, they grew thinner and more slowly. They are tasty, but maybe just a little harder to clean and peel.
Here's more or less what we harvested this week. Some potatoes, some carrots, some onions, some kohlrabi, some squash. Kim can add about 6 pounds of chard to the KinderGARDENs donation tally, and there will be several more pounds of chard donated in the next week, I'm sure. Along with some of this other stuff. The acorn squash are from our volunteer plant. My tomato plants are near done, still with tonnes of small green tomatoes to pick off and let ripen in our warm kitchen. All in all, for a kind of busy summer with really weird weather, I'm happy with the harvest. For sure, once again, we learned a lot of lessons, and I leave the year encouraged about next year. Make sure to swing by Kim's and check out everyone else's final summaries. Thanks for an excellent year of KinderGARDENing!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mama Bean believes there are only two kinds of people in the world...

...those who put the toilet paper on going OVER and those who put it on going UNDER.

Sometimes the internet conspires to make everything come together at once. Please refer to this recent blog post for a clarification of terms.

I am very very much an OVER person. It just. works. better. Why? Well, the more important question is when. When does OVER work better? In the dark. At night, when you are half asleep going pee as quickly as you can when you're half asleep because the baby woke you up and wants to be nursed but first you desperately need to empty your bladder because you're drinking like three fricking liters of water a day in a feeble attempt to boost the amount of milk you're pumping when you're not half asleep nursing your baby in the middle of the night but are, instead, half asleep pumping your milk at work (half asleep because of waking up the night before, oh but you didn't need me to clarify that) not to mention not to mention the liter or so of decaf coffee you drink, also, decaf because your baby will not sleep but will cry and cry and not sleep if you so much as inhale a milligram of caffeine, and so you must empty your bladder very quickly before the hungry baby that has only just started to wake up wakes up more fully and makes noise more fully, noise which threatens to disturb her brother, her brother who otherwise sleeps peacefully through the night but has some sort of bizarre mindmeld with his sister, so that the smallest sounds from either of them will magically wake the other one or otherwise impede the other's good mood, and so it is imperative that bladder emptying be accomplished quickly prior to stumbling into the poor hungry baby's room to feed her, poor hungry baby, and in that moment of needing to pee in the most efficient way possible, it is absolutely easier to simply paw at the toilet paper roll in a vaguely downward fashion until gravity induces the overhanging tongue of toilet paper to naturally fall forward and down into your half asleep little hand, so that you may complete your task and move on to the much more important task of feeding the baby.

In the dark is when OVER works better. (Even before kids.) Tell me I'm wrong. (You're wrong.)

Do you know what wandered into my perfectly OVERed little world? A husband who doesn't think it matters. How could it not matter?! Do you know how long it took to convince him it was important enough to my  middle-of-the-night voiding activities to properly secure the toilet paper roll in an OVER fashion for him to actually comply? It took almost ten years!

Do you know what wandered into my perfectly husband-compliant OVERed little world? A toddler.

Toddler's are gravity-finding machines. They toddle around their little worlds discovering and discovering and rediscovering gravity. What happens when I turn over my breakfast bowl? Oh! Gravity! What happens when I open the hand carrying this toy? Oh! Gravity! What happens when I climb onto this chair and swipe my hand over the pretty shiny (breakable) objects up on this shelf? Oh! Gravity! What happens when I reach too far onto the shelf near the edge of the chair? Oh! Gravity! 

He doesn't know his colours or his numbers of his letters or his shapes. But he knows gravity. Or does he? If he knows it so well, why does he keep testing it out???

Unfortunately, the same gravity that makes the OVER roll so much easier to deal with in the middle of the night is the gravity my toddler discovers when he bats at the toilet paper roll in a vaguely downward fashion. Oh! Gravity! Lookit that spiiiiiiiiin, wheeeeeee. 

I didn't so much mind re-rolling the toilet paper. I didn't mind trying to remember to keep the bathroom door closed. I didn't really mind. But the fact is, an UNDER roll is less easy to unroll. For a toddler. It defies gravity.


The rolls in my house are UNDER. For now. I only have to get one more child through this phase, and then everyone EVERYONE in this household will be taught how to do it Right.

Which way is the TP in your house?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mama Bean is KinderGARDENing (19)

It's been a few weeks since I did a KinderGARDEN check in - I missed week 17 and week 18. So far, Kim hasn't posted a week 19 sign up. In fact, she hasn't posted anything in over a week, and I hope it's not because something is wrong. Thinking of you, Kim, and praying everything is okay with your family! [Update: Kim came back! Her son needs back surgery, so she's been battling HMOs to get his precious spine the very best care she can, because that's what all spines deserve! Please head to her blog to check out everyone else's KinderGARDEN updates.]
I missed the week when the assignment was to take pictures in the glorious golden light of a rising sun, but I still did the 'homework.' I went out early on my way to work one Friday morning, but actually missed the golden morning sun by about 10 minutes. Instead, I have the cool cool tones of pre-sun. It was still peaceful to be out when no one else was around and putter about taking pictures of my (sad) garden.
Here are the tassles on the corn-that-wasn't. Next to that corn are the potatoes-that-didn't, followed by the beans-the-weeds-ate, and then the squash-the-drought-killed. Let's not forget the onions-the-grass-drowned, the carrots-bravely-growing-despite-the-weeds, and the cucumbers-of-mass-patheticness. I also have kohlrabi and chard, so much I don't know what to do with it. I have a few twigs of cinnamon basil which will be cooked into a small batch of tomato jam. And the peas were done long ago. I know my big garden suffered from a) having two babies to care for (/sigh KinderGARDENing will one day be easier, yes? promise?) b) too little rain and c) laziness, because we know we're giving it up next year. This land, which will grow pretty much anything with a bare minimum of attention, deserves the respect of people who will care for it. We are not (currently) those people.
Our garden at home has confirmed for me that raised beds are the absolute bestest thing EvarintheUniverseWow. The tomatoes are rampant, the vines have cascaded over the cages and are spreading across my lawn. I roasted some for a pasta salad. I turned five pounds of just the yellow ones into a lovely glaze/jam concoction that tastes delightful on grilled chicken. I would have had beautiful cabbages if I'd combated the slugs with any sort of consistency. I have EGGPLANTS! And I really do think the stinky coleus plant did it's job, because we had lettuce, and the rabbits didn't eat it. Most importantly, raised beds grow an amount of food we'll actually use, instead of rows and rows of stuff four folks couldn't possible consume. So, I'll happily post pics of our two new beds when they are completed (in a few weeks!)
I may have mentioned a few times we had a remarkably hot and dry summer. It has virtually disappeared overnight (though the forecast promises a return to warmer temperatures for the weekend, when we are having an early birthday bbq for Bean *fingers crossed*) The past two days have been gray, rainy and super windy. Tonight we'll drop near freezing and will probably frost later this week. On the one hand, I'm glad it will kill the wasps. On the other hand (wringing hands) my tomatoes! I sort of covered them with sheets, but the tomato jungle is really rather uncontainable. I picked the eggplant, even though I don't know if they could have used a few more days on the plant. I hope they are tasty anyway - I'm just excited to have them! They grew much bigger than I expected. And the flowers were so pretty, I'd grow it just for them :)
We planted these raspberries our first full summer here, and I must say we've been a little disappointed in their yield. I think we need to feed their soil with some compost and mulch, and probably watering them would help. Anyway, we've grown enough that little Bean hands know what to do with them - the trick is stopping him from picking them all!
His face is tear-streaked because we had a Bonk right before this. He wasn't hurt, only scared, but he knows he gets hugs and cuddles for Bonks and he maybe milks that a little right now. (Parenting aside: previously, we've tried to teach him to just "brush off" the Bonks and get on about his life. However, he is lately going through some separation/anxiety/stuff, not really sure what it is, probably typical 2-year-old neurology, and I feel like he needs the extra cuddles and reassurances. We are building a relationship, you know, and a big part of that is really laying the foundation that we are Here For Him No Matter What. Plus, he's never really been a cuddly kid, and to hear him ask for hugs is so heart-warming and adorable I can't help myself. So maybe I will regret in a few months that he's running to me for pats on the back every time he Bonks, but for now... I'm just gonna keep doing it!) I used the raspberry picking as a distraction, and it was successful. A little too successful. As in, Papa-Bean-didn't-get-any-berries-too-successful. Sorry PB! You've got dibs on the next ones, if Bean doesn't sneak them, ok?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mama Bean's hands are Sprout's to hold

The golden dappled heady sweet sunshine laden days of summer are drawing to a close. The flowers are gone, the fruit is gathered, and I have stewing vegetables in the ground waiting for harvest. This transition is my favourite time of year, hands down. I like to watch things dry and curl in on themselves and prepare for The Long Sleep. I am always a fan of sleep...
But the passage of time is always bittersweet now, in a way I never thought about before parenthood. This summer has been richer and hotter and brighter and lovelier than any summer of my life, except perhaps the summer Papa Bean and I were falling in love. And every summer is an extension of that summer, naturally. But now, every day brings a bigger Bean with more! words! Every day brings an older Sprout with more! smiles! Every day is another step, a growing distance, between the babies I brought into this world and the adults they will be, the adults who will leave me, to go and change this world in their own Bean-y Sprout-y ways.
This little girl is killing me very slowly with her mink hair and doll's eyes and big smiles and tiny, grabbing hands. She is wringing my heart out with those hands, because they are always looking for mine. And never letting go. She wants to hold my hand when she's nursing - and I want this, too, or else she's scratching with those impossibly sharp nails, laying claim to the b00b with kneading kitten fingers. She wants to hold my hand when she's fighting sleep, as in the picture above (which is actually PBs hand) because it calms her down. When you go to put the soother in her mouth, she latches onto your big hand with both of her small ones, and pulls it to her face. I think she is more interested in the hand than the soother. When she's chilling in a seat or mat, she wants a hand, to know you're there, and nothing more. When she's chilling on my lap while I'm on my computer, she wants to hold specifically my mousing hand - so perhaps there is something more she wants. For me to stop. So I do.

And I feel the blood in her hand meet the blood in my hand, and I know she carries chunks of my Being in her Being, and I feel those chunks drift inexorably away from my Body-self, with Time, always with Time. So it's comforting to know we can connect here. There's still an interface, more human than words (which can divide as easily as they unite), and it's our skin. She won't always want the things I can give her (my words, my "wisdom"), and she will sometimes want things I cannot give her (a pony, her dreams) (Though I will try, you know I will try). For now, she wants my hands. It is so very much the least I can give. So I do.
Look at this big boy! Running! Finding life, finding trees and sticks and rocks and sunshine and so. much. mud. This kid doesn't know how not to express his heart. If it's angry and "nononono" then it's angry and no. If it's cranky and when's-nap-time, it's thrown food and gritted teeth and when's-nap-time. Sometimes it's bonked knees or head and "hug" with kiss-y noises. Sometimes it's gentle (and less-than-gentle) petting of sister's mink hair. And when it's pure joy and look-how-fast, well... well, just look. How fast.
when did summer
my summer
turn cliche
how fast
time flies
beneath the leaves
how fast
so fast

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mama Bean was born on a Friday.

 monday's child is fair of face, tuesday's child is full of grace, wednesday's child is full of woe, thursday's child has far to go, friday's child is loving and giving, saturday's child works hard for a living, but the child who is born on the sabbath day is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I was born on a Friday in 1981. Bean was born on a Thursday morning. Papa Bean was born on a Monday, just like his daughter.

Now it's a Tuesday, six months later, and I figure I need to get this down "on the page" before I forget it all, because this writing thing, I've determined, is wrapped up in the exercise of memory keeping, for me, and so I should get on with it. The memory keeping.

(Subsequent birthing stories are always remembered in reference to the previous ones, so forgive me if this sounds like a list of what was different and what was the same, instead of a story. But this is still a birth story, and if you don't want to hear about the gory details, this is not the post for you! Rest assured, a baby came out at the end.)

For two midwife visits prior to Bean's birth, I had an internal exam and a stretch/sweep. Two days before his birth, I was dilated to 3cm, my cervix was soft, but still posterior. I am amazed at how many changes the cervix must undergo before contractions can be most effective (and less painful). It should move from posterior-facing to anterior, it should soften before it can think about thinning, it should thin before active dilation. All of this happens without (m)any outward signs or symptoms, but it's really important work. With Sprout, I had an internal before going away on a weekend retreat, to make sure I wouldn't deliver while an hour away from home (and twenty minutes from a hospital, regardless of homebirth being the plan.) At that time, cervix was softening but not soft, still posterior, and not very dilated (finger-tippy.) At the midwife visit (a week before?) Sprout's birth, the midwife demurred to perform a stretch and sweep, as I was still only 38 weeks, and she didn't think we needed to encourage anything just yet. I did not have any other internal exams with this pregnancy, even to check my dilation during active labour.

I never felt the Braxton-Hicks with Bean, probably because I didn't know what they were, and I'm unfamiliar with menstrual cramping in general (I know, I'm very lucky.) I was more aware of the cramping this time around, and I knew this time it was part of the work my body was doing to prepare my cervix. I knew it was soft, and I knew a little together time with PB would give it a good prostaglandin kickstart. In a way, I feel like any night of the weekend would have worked, but for some reason we waited until Sunday. At 2:30am that night, I felt an especially sharp kind of cramp and thought, "Pay attention" then went back to sleep.

I woke at 3:00 with another sharp cramp and then small gushes of liquid. I did not have SROM with Bean - my water broke during pushing, and almost got midwife LH in the face. I suspect if she had broken my membranes earlier in my pushing with him, I wouldn't have needed to push so long, but I think we didn't effectively communicate to her that they had not yet broken. It was a disorganized kind of birth for him, despite it feeling very calm at the time lol :) Anyway, it was neat to feel the "traditional" water release, and I was careful to maneuver myself out of bed and to the toilet without making a mess. I woke PB.

I called the midwife on call right away, as instructed, because my first delivery had gone so fast, we expected this one to be faster. I had only met midwife C once, at the home visit one week earlier (!) but we had hit it off and I felt really comfortable with her. In fact, I was really glad we "timed" the birth to be on the weekend she was on call. She let me know midwife KK,who would be her second, would reach me first. KK was on our midwife team with Bean, but had not been there for his birth - I was glad she would be there for this one. C asked me questions about how the contractions felt and I didn't know how to answer her. As with Bean, I woke with active labour - the contractions were already a minute long, and about five minutes apart. On the other hand, they weren't terribly intense and I still didn't know if it was just cramping or needing to poop or something. I felt a little muddled talking to her! 

While we waited, PB pulled the futon mattress off the frame and laid it flat on the living room floor, covered with the shower curtain and a dark bedsheet (same set-up as with Bean.) We also set up a little table for the midwives to lay out their equipment. KK arrived at some point. I did most of my dilating standing up this time, which had been too painful with Bean, but worked this time. I would feel a sharp wanting-to-poop with an internal stretching/tearing kind of thing - and I envisioned the orange birdcage with the golden bars pulling out and back on the tight round muscles around the uterus (I will explain this image in a later post - it's part of my hypnobirthing strategy, although I wouldn't say I practiced or used much hypnobirthing in this delivery. I think having gone through it once, I had a deep abiding sense of my capabilities, and probably these images came to mind because I had previously thought so much about them.) I did a little dance, from foot to foot, on my toes, while moaning and breathing. I felt these contractions as both more intense than with Bean but less painful, if that makes sense. I had a flash of fear with Bean, alone in my basement wondering why it was so intenese so fast, when I understood why we want the drugs to take it all away. I did not have the fear this time, but I had more self-pity. I had more moments of why-must-this-be-so-hard kind of thing. I remember this time my face would get all crampy and scrunched with pain. KK listened to Sprout's heart a few times and all was well.

C arrived and met PB for the first time (lol) and my next contraction felt push-y. I went to lay down then got back up, I couldn't get comfortable (ha! Is any of this comfortable??), I felt restless, like an animal pacing a cage, looking for something productive to help myself. I guess this was transition, my thinking brain took a backseat. I remember asking rather pitifully, "What's next?" by which I meant, "Please check me." I wanted some reassurance, that this would be over soon, that I was making progress, that I could push the way my body felt. C suggested a hand and knees position on the mattress - I leaned on the futon frame and had some more face-scrunchy, push-y contractions. I was still waiting for confirmation from the midwives that I could push, and I felt a little angry that they weren't giving it to me. They are wise women, and I think they knew I needed to take back responsibility for my birth, stop giving my power to them, and know within myself when I was ready. (I know that sounds hippie dippy as all get out, but that's what I felt!)

It had been about an hour and a half. I didn't know when to call our friend N to come take care of Bean - it was the middle of the night, he was sleeping through it all, and I hated to disturb her needlessly if this was going to go on for awhile. But it clearly wasn't. I'm glad we called her when we did.

C asked if I'd like to take my underwear off (a good idea for having a baby!) and we found the infamous mucus plug (there is no good phrase for this. Bloody show is just as bad. Whatever. It is what it is, but someone should come up with a nicer way to name this thing.) I suddenly felt hot and sweaty and took off my nightgown, too. C asked if I felt hot, and when I said yes, she said, "I think your baby will be here very soon." This was as close as she got to telling me, you're complete, you can push, and she did it in very midwife-y way that mostly meant, follow your body. I had no internal exam to confirm I was at 10cm, I just did what felt right. I had two or so more push-y contractions against the futon frame, where I felt a perineal bulge and back pain. I knew I preferred pushing on my back (darn my weak low back!) so I knew it was time to turn over and get this show on the road!

PB had been helping me with low back massage throughout, because it really helped me handle the pain and pressure. I needed him to push against my lumbosacral junction, right in the middle, as hard as he could. He smiled through most of my labour, and encouraged me to smile. His joy was contagious, he said to me, "I like when you're in labour. It makes me laugh. You're so fun to watch." I suppose this would enrage a lot of labouring women, because it doesn't feel very fun, but being his wife, I knew what he meant and the love behind it. If he didn't have this joy and was all serious, I think that would have scared me - it really picked me up to have him keep smiling. He's the best birth partner, well, whole life partner I could ask for <3

Once laying on my back, I propped up my head and shoulders with pillows (called the inverted J position, because your body looks a bit like a backwards J leaning back.) PB knelt/lay by my left side, holding my left hand with his left hand,for me to squeeze, and supporting my head with his right. This helped me keep my chin pulled to my chest during pushes, which is really important and helpful for me to keep the energy of my pushes directed downward. (I know not every woman likes the chin-to-chest thing...) I remembered to keep my mouth open and loose, instead of clenching my teeth. (This is a Gaskin thing, about keeping all the body sphincters loose, because they run off the same neural circuits, and if an upper muscle ring is tight i.e. the mouth, the lower muscle ring i.e. the cervix, cannot loosen.) I would hold my breath from the start of a push until the most active,peak of it, and then let it out in a whoosh. This is the very same purple pushing hypnobirthing taught me not to do, but it's how I got Bean out, and I figured to just go with what works. I think it was helpful that I let myself sort of sink into the contractions and really feel the wave of it, and know the most productive times to bear down.

C knelt in front of me and put my feet on her knees. This was much nicer than with Bean, when each midwife grabbed one of my feet, and I had to pull back on my thighs, to spread my legs during pushes. C kept the right pressure on my legs without me having to hold anything, and all I really wanted to hold was PBs hand, anyway. But I did feel bad pushing on her legs so hard, I wonder what the longterm effects on her legs and knees are - I can't imagine it feels very good to be in that position for so long with such strong forces being exerted on her joints. That's just the Chiropractor in me speaking.

I was having hamstring cramps and worried I would run out of steam or get a cramp at a key moment during a key push. This time, I knew how to push into my perineum and was not afraid of the bulging feeling, like the baby was going to come out of my butt instead. This was a fear I had to overcome during pushing for Bean. N arrived shortly after I started pushing, and I managed to introduce her to the midwives through my breathing, they all laughed at me. She went downstairs and folded laundry because she is a sweetheart. I was worried about how loud I was being, but she says I wasn't very loud at all. I didn't wake Bean, anyway.

I did remember I didn't like the burning feeling of crowning, I was afraid of how long it went on with Bean, but I let the fear go, and I needn't have worried, because it didn't last long this time around. During a contraction, I would have a set of two maybe three good pushes, then rest between for a bit. I had two or three sets of burning when Sprout's head first started peeking-and-retreating. Then there were two or three more sets to where Sprout would crown and the head would stay, which C called "bringing baby around the pubic bone." 

KK checked Sprout's heartrate every two or three sets of pushes, and was very reassuring. During Bean's delivery, the constant heartrate checking sort of irked me, because that midwife had been more serious about it, with her serious face on and seriously writing it down with her serious hands. I suppose that is just her demeanor, there was never any concern with Bean's heartrate. I thought that I might ask the midwives to just forego Doppler during this delivery. Then I was privileged to support a friend (N! Who was sitting patiently in the basement folding my laundry :) through her delivery in a hospital, and saw what continuous fetal monitoring looked like. By comparison, a few Doppler checks didn't seem so intrusive after all, and it is, of course, very important to monitor the heartrate, as it is one of the first indicators of baby's distress. So it would have been irresponsible to drop it, and I'm glad KKs methods were calm and reassuring.

There were many comments as Sprout crowned about her having lots of hair, and I remember the sense of joy building like electricity during this time. It is so amazing to hear how powerful and strong you are at the height of delivery. The burning became constant, even during the rest periods, as I stretched around the head. C was an absolute genius about coaching my pushes to give time for the head and perineum to shape around each other, so I wouldn't tear. I could have pushed Sprout out very quickly, because I am powerful in my pushes. As it was, I pushed for an hour, which is half the time I took for Bean, so it felt quick to me. C told me to pant through the second part of my later contractions and not push, because she wanted to slow me down. It's not instinct to slow down at this point, everything points to let's-be-DONE-already! But I'm really (really really) glad she directed me in this, because I would have torn otherwise, and in every way possible I can think to express it, not tearing is a gift beyond measure. I would gladly push for two hours if it meant I wouldn't tear.

I had a set of pushes when I felt Sprout's head was halfway out. A second set of pushes and I felt her head push through, and very loudly said, "Thank God!" C quietly said, "One, two...three! nuchal rings. Another push please" then unwrapped the cord from Sprout's neck. I didn't know what a nuchal ring was (oi!) which was maybe good, because I might have had a panic moment then. As it is, C was super duper calm about it, just asked for another little effort from me to push Sprout out enough to give her the room to loosen the loops, it was very quick. Nuchal rings are very common, though three is a little rare. They are nothing to worry about, in the grand scheme of things (they can become something to worry about, I suppose.) I would not have pushed just then, because once her head was out I wanted to rest before the push for her shoulders and body (unlike with Bean, once his head was out I just kept pushing even though the most active part of the contraction was over because I just wanted him out!) But C very calmly did what her training told her to do, and I am grateful. Sprout's cord was much long than Bean's and seemed much skinnier. I wonder if the nuchal rings were why she seemed less active in the womb than Bean (other than simple activity differences of personality and maybe gender) and I also wonder if they are why her head stability was not as good as his at birth, and took longer to strengthen.

I had one more easy push for Sprout's shoulders and body to slide out, and then she was up on my chest and we were saying hello. She did and does have a whole pile of beautiful, dark hair. She was also covered head-to-toe in thick white vernix, even more than Bean. Is this from the heartburn?! It took way longer for her vernix to rub into her skin, and I did have to wipe it out of some of her creases, because it made the skin raw underneath (poor baby.) It was a great relief to be done, a great rush of love hormones, and I drank it all up. That's why I don't remember the pain - I would actually say I didn't find the process all that painful (I know, I am a cliche.)

I don't remember precisely what happened next. At some point we looked to see she was a girl. This was a surprise in the sense that, statistically the Y is strong in PBs family, and so another boy was more likely. But it was not a surprise in the sense that many things were different in this pregnancy (less nausea, more heartburn, carried lower and wider - all things that can be explained by 2nd-pregnancies-are-different, but if you give credence to folk wisdom...) and everyone (my mom, staff, patients) had been predicting a girl all along. I had that mom gut feeling she was a girl later in the pregnancy, but just kept telling myself and others it was probably a boy.

C carried out the newborn exam, Sprout's Apgars were 9 and 10 or something like that. We moved the futon back onto the frame so I could sit up and try nursing. I was nervous about this because starting Bean on the b00b had been such an ordeal. C has a long career history as a lactation consultant, she was so helpful it's ridiculous, and Sprout was a natural. We did a little hamburgering to help her latch, and then she just took to it like a fish in water. C actually perched on the arm of the futon, which is not padded, and held my b00b for me, so I could concentrate on orienting Sprout's body, which demonstrates her commitment and support of good breastfeeding - she is a gem. Sprout ate from each side for more than 20 minutes, which C assured me would really help cement the breastfeeding relationship. It was lovely.

Normally the 2nd midwife doesn't stick around much past the birth, but KK stayed so she and C could go get breakfast. N stayed all day to play with Bean, while I nursed and napped and got to know Sprout (thank-you, N!) 

Both of my labours started about the same time of night: 2:45 for Bean and he arrived at 7:17, 7 pounds 4 ounces and 20 inches long, on a Thursday I was scheduled to work, five days before due date. 

3:00 for Sprout and she arrived at 5:25, 7 pounds 7 ounces and 21 inches long, on a Monday one week after I stopped working, a week before due date.

I don't know about "fair of face" or "far to go" but everything around here is bonny and blithe and good and gay as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mama Bean is an INFJ, what are you?

Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type? I was told my type during therapy during a depressive episode when I lived in Iowa, as it was one of the favourite therapeutic tools of my psychologist. In my case, it was exceedingly instrumental in helping me solidify my identity, find language for explaining my self and behaviours, and establish healthy boundaries in navigating my relationships. It helps me in these things, I'm not saying I'm, like, perfect at them ;)

A facebook friend recently posted her type, with an interesting site explaining the characteristics of all the types, which I'd not perused before. I love reading more about my type - I like recognizing myself in the description :) This one and this one were really fun, because I recognized a lot of myself! (Though it is necessary to look past the sort of frou-frou hippie-dippie lanuage that makes it read like a horoscope at times.) For example, I know that I get excited about organization systems and efficiency in organizations, which the first site described as:
Counselors...make every effort to help an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. They understand and use human systems creatively, and are good at consulting and cooperating with others. As employees or employers, Counselors are concerned with people's feelings and are able to act as a barometer of the feelings within the organization.
I read this, "The Counselor can become stressed when they are required to deal with too many unexpected events or required to be too extraverted for too long a time" and think about how annoyed I get when my work schedule suddenly changes (patient cancels, or empty space gets filled) and I didn't know about it. I like to know what's coming, especially because my job is All Extroversion, All The Time.

[Incidentally, the counselor who told me my type was, himself, an INFJ. Cute, right? We're a rare type, and we have exactly the type of personality to get a little ego kick out of that lol.]

The second site explains how my type is sort of obsessive about parsing out the inner motivations of others, how we like to understand the "hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect." Which is, like, Yes.

I also agreed with this bit, "They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people - a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world...While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates...As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character." Any IRL friends out there want to comment on this?

Papa Bean and I are pretty much type opposites; he's ISTP. We share Introversion, but I often joke that I'm an extroverted introvert, and we're at opposite ends of the introversion spectrum. He has very strong needs to be in the cave and decompress, and has struggled with social anxiety. I think my introversion is more obvious under stress, but in general the F makes me so relational, it outweighs the I, in a way.

Speaking of stress, there's this little nugget, "The INFJ under stress may fall prey to various forms of immediate gratification. Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the "SP wannabe" side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously." Teehee "immediate gratification" That explains the midnight ice cream binges, yes?! bahaha :P And I do often wish I could be more spontaneous - but I fail at it, spectacularly. Planning is my lifeblood. I used rainbow highlighters to colour code my daytimer at Palmer.
I suppose it fits my personality that I find personality typologies themselves so interesting - Myers-Briggs, enneagram, etc. I like these human systems that concisely categorize behaviour and help me explain why people do and are the way they do and be. I get so totally geeked about it, I will help you do your personality test (which is generally frowned upon, but c'mon! I gots talentz! This is my thing!) [In fact, I helped PB do a test while writing this post, because I know his answers to the questions better than he does. When he did it by himself, he got the wrong type! rofl]

I can get a little entrenched about it, though - I resist people acting "against type" because, frankly, it confuses me. And now I know what elements of my personality (N F) feed into that need to understand motivations and drivers, and how anything which derails my understanding makes me all... flustered. This is one of the best things my therapist showed me; when I identify a personality pattern that creates maladaptive feelings or behaviours, if I can name them, it's easier for me to overcome them. I can sort of calm my personality down, "Hey, self, little INFJ self, I see that you're upset about this situation, it's just your personality. Deep breath. Try on a little S or T or P for a bit and see if that helps. Act against type (horrors!) and things will be better in the morning." And most of the time, it works!

When I write it out like that, it sort of looks like one of those positive parenting scripts. "The next time your little Beast is doing [x] try talking it out like this..." That's right, I parent my personality :D That's awesome. If you enjoyed any part of this post half as much as I did, I encourage you to go find your type! (There are any number of sites with similar tests, but that link has a good explanation of all the letters. There's even a Harry Potter version! INFJ is Dumbledore!)