Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tales: Father's Day

helping Frankie eat
I was recently asked to find pictures of my son Jack with his dad for a special Father's Day gift. I scoured hundreds and hundreds of photo and could only find a few shots. It wasn't because of him not being involved, in fact, it was because he is so involved. I realized he wasn't in most of the pictures because he takes most of the pictures.

Frank's involvement started right from the start, during pregnancy. Now he cooks dinner every night, and that started when I was pregnant with Frankie. I was so tired and nauseous all the time that cooking was impossible.

Frank with Frankie and Bekah
It was also with Frankie's pregnancy that we took Bradley childbirth classes together. The Bradley Method is also known as Husband-Coached Childbirth.

Frankie was born 45 minutes after getting to the hospital and there really wasn't a lot of time for Frank to use the childbirth coaching skills he'd practiced. He did manage to film the birth with 2 different cameras, on a tripod and a handheld.

falling asleep
Frank comforting a fussy Frankie

Frankie turned out to be a very high need and sensitive baby. He went through a difficult period of colic, and I don't know how I would have gotten through it with out Frank.

finally sleep

When Frankie was scared to start kindergarten, Frank gave him a special key to hold to remind him of home. It helped him get through the rough beginning. Frankie's teacher commented on his ability to rhyme, something he always enjoyed doing with his dad. Frank also volunteered during library and on field trips.

carrying Frankie at Disney
And Frank was the one who had to say Frankie's long goodnight wishes in the exact right order before Frankie could fall asleep.

cuddling Bekah
Bekah was the first to be born at home. Not only was Frank able to document the birth on video, but I never felt like he wasn't there for me as well. After Bekah was born, Frank made all of my meals and brought them up to me in bed, sometimes with flowers.

mini golf with Jack
For the other 3 homebirths, Frank documented the births, set everything up for the midwives, cleaned up afterwards, and even played host by making food and coffee for everyone. And I still got my trays of food in bed for weeks so I could focus on our new babies.

hangin' with Jack at the pool
Frank took care of the older kids and always made sure I had a glass of water close by while I was nursing. He was always available to hold a newborn so I could shower or take a nap.

Singing Happy Birthday to Lillian

As the children have grown, Frank is always there. He has documented their growth in his "wall photos."

And his voice is always heard in the background of the video clips he records (especially when he's trying to teach them to say "dada" instead of "mama.").

foofing Bekah while teaching her to swim

He's helped the kids learn to swim and ride bikes. The kids help him with chores, like grocery shopping and taking out the trash. Together they love to play basketball.

the whole family

So, even though you don't see him in most of the family photos, you can feel him in there. As I look over years of photos, I see Frank in every single one.
holding Luke's hand

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tales: Luke's Birth Story

I found out I was pregnant with Luke after I had started dancing a lot again. I was also working at a dance supply store and teaching several dance classes. I got pregnant in September which meant I was due in June, right around the end of the year dance concert at the studio where I worked.

I continued to dance through my pregnancy and for the first time I had a hard time gaining weight. I would often not gain anything, or even lose weight, from month to month.

I continually tried to convince the studio director that I should perform, after all I had done it while I was pregnant with my oldest. Of course, I wasn't 40 then and it wasn't a week before my due date. Still, I thought I could pull it off.

The week before the dance concert, I had resigned myself to not performing, but I still had a lot to do to get my students ready. I was still demonstrating full out, even in Irish Step Dance, but I remember feeling very tired and "funny" after my Thursday classes.

On the morning of Friday June 13th, I woke up not feeling right. I felt like it was getting to be that time. I was supposed to take the train and then a bus to Arlington to see my midwife, but I didn't think I could make it. Thankfully, she came to me.

After checking me out, she thought it would be soon but could still be a few days away. The baby's head was still up pretty high. That was all I needed to hear for the "green light" to finish up everything I needed to get done. I would be at the dress rehearsal that evening. I also had a load of pottery I needed to fire.

I carried 2 boxes of pottery a couple blocks up the street to my kiln. I unloaded finished ware and loaded the kiln back up again. On the way home carrying the boxes of finished pieces, I felt a small gush. Soon after I got home and rested, it slowed to less than a trickle.

I put on a pad and went to the dress rehearsal. My daughter, Lillian, was performing and I wanted to be there for her in addition to my students. I had mild cramps throughout the night, some strong enough that I stopped talking to breathe through them. I left at about 9pm and immediately went to bed.

At about 5:45am strong contractions woke me up. I went over to the computer and started timing them on a website to monitor contractions. After a very short time, I decided that it was not only time to wake up my husband but that we should also call my midwife.

I wasn't totally sure I was in labor because my water had very obviously and dramatically broken prior to labor in all 5 of my older kids' births. I also generally retreat and get very quiet in active labor. This time I was more stir crazy and wanted to sit up rather than relax lying down. Still, I could not talk through contractions.

My midwife left to come over as quickly as possible, knowing how fast I can go.

In the meantime my husband got everything ready. I was sitting on the edge of the bed when my midwife arrived, and then the assistant. I asked my midwife to check to see if I was dilated because I still wasn't sure if I was really in labor. She checked and said I was fully effaced and dilated, and that my baby was about half way down the birth canal.

Several contractions later, at exactly 9am, Luke was born. He was my 2nd Saturday birth. Lillian was also born on a Saturday, and also at 9am. All my other kids were born on Tuesdays.

getting ready to sneeze...

He sneezed twice immediately after being born!

the sneeze!
5 minutes old
He nursed right away with no problems. Since we had practiced Elimination Communication (EC) starting at birth with 2 other kids, we were able to catch his meconium and first pees in a potty. He wore tiny little training pants and undies.

needs the potty
That evening was the dance concert. I did Lillian's hair and make-up and my parents brought her to the show. They announced Luke's birth during the performance.

Soon after Luke was born, the kids came in to meet him.

Bekah holding Luke
Six weeks after Luke's birth my family was in a family member's bridal party. I needed to have my bridesmaid dress altered so that I could nurse Luke, and I had to find a halter style nursing bra. My mom made me a brocade sling to match my bridesmaid dress.

When Luke was a few weeks old, I took him with me to help out at the dance supply store. The wonderful owners bought a baby swing for Luke to sleep in while I worked. Most of the time, though, Luke just liked to be carried in the sling. By now I had plenty of babywearing experience, including working and wearing.

Luke turned 4 years old yesterday. He is smart, funny, energetic, imaginative, and extremely empathetic. Happy Birthday Luke!