Friday, July 30, 2010


I'm sitting in the glider that I used to nurse BB in during the wee hours of the night while BB redecorates his room - "I think these books on the shelf would all make a much better rug Mama, and also why are these drawers closed when they looks so much better open! It's all about open storage Mama - Plus, this way I can pull out all of my shoes and socks and stomp around with them! And the rocking chair should really be facing the wall, but don't worry, I'll take care of the heavy lifting," until it's time to change him into his swim shirt for his ISR lesson. I can't believe I haven't blogged about ISR yet! BB is completing his fourth week (of six) of swim lessons this week - the lessons are really more water survival lessons than actual swim lessons. You can learn more about Infant Swim Resource here, but the basics are that they train your child what to do in a water emergency by teaching them to find safety (the steps or edge of the pool or body of water) and swim there, turning on their back to float to rest and breathe as often as they need until they reach safety. We don't have a pool, but BB's auntie does and since he spends 1-2 days a week there, and also since we live in Arizona where everyone, including two of our neighbors who have backyards that adjoin with ours, has a pool, we wanted him to have some kind of swim lessons, and decided that ISR was right for us after observing some lessons.

We heard about ISR from a couple of different sources - J had actually done a website for an ISR instructor through his small business (the website had pictures of children floating in pools fully clothed (to graduate ISR the children demonstrate the techniques in a summer and a winter outfit) which led to us affectionately referring to it as the "dead baby website"). Also, a friend from work's son had done ISR, told me all about it and she'd highly praised the program - in fact, her preschool aged son has been on a swim team ever since and she credits ISR with turning him into such a little fish. Another friend at work put her son through the program, and when she was sitting on the back porch nursing her newborn her older son (around two) was playing outside and reached for something and fell in their pool. As she quickly tried to figure out where to set her newborn down to go rescue her son, her son rolled to his back and shouted "It's okay Mom, I'm in my float!" Now, ISR makes it clear that this program is not a substitute for supervision, but clearly, accidents happen, sometimes even right in front of you!

The lessons are five days a week for ten minutes a day - intense. Thankfully the instructor lives around the corner, so it's a quick 5-7 minute drive over each day. We have to document when he sleeps, eats, pees and poops, and what he eats and provide this documentation at every lesson. I thought this would be really laborous, but it's actually really simple - we just keep the worksheet next to the fridge and it's no big deal to jot it all down. When we observed the lessons the instructor pointed out that although the kids tend to cry throughout the lesson, they cry not because they are in fear but because they know when they get in water for ISR it's time to work, not play. The kids still engage in the lesson and learn, which they would not be able to do if they were in a fear state. BB cries during every lesson, but he also claps if we clap and engages in his lesson.

The first thing the instructor taught him was to hold his breath as he feels the water rising up his chest and neck, and from there on out it's been amazing to see how much BB is capable of learning. Within just a few days he was kicking his feet and holding his breath underwater. She's working on teaching him to float right now - we had a setback because BB started teething again, which we didn't know until he got in the water and started clawing at his cheeks and pulling his hair and sticking his fingers in his mouth. Our instructor told us that the water pressure adds to the already intensified pressure in their head from the teething, and it can be more painful in the water, which is why he's fine out on dry land. We're hoping that during this week long break BB's teeth move and that the pressure decreasing so that we can move forward on the float, as he had made a lot of progress before our San Diego trip.

So that's what we've been up to everyday at 9:10 am for the last few weeks!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


BB's first view of the ocean was this weekend shortly after we pulled into San Diego, threw our stuff into the hotel room, and changed him into some jammies and a clean diaper. We then drove down to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to introduce BB to Mama's most peaceful place -the beach. BB inhaled the damp, salty air and gazed at the water curling and crashing and then rushing towards us. I like to think that he was silently realizing the vastness before him. It was evening and the tide was high, and a few bigger waves pushed the edge of the ocean quickly towards our feet and J and I laughed and screamed as we ran from the water.

I don't know if it was the screaming and running that did it, or if BB came to understand that he was in the presence of something big and powerful, the likes of which he had never encountered, and did not know how to respond other than in fear. I guess it was probably the first one. Either way, BB's face screwed up in sad sobs as tears flowed down his soft cheeks and he clung tightly to me, his cries getting louder if I moved towards the water.

We left Moonlight then to meet some friends, but returned the next day with beach blankets, towels, sunscreen, and even a tent where BB could have a break from the sun (although the sun was nowhere to be found - we blamed the overcast weather on Comicon's attendees, who J said probably used science to drive away the sun for the weekend so that their pasty, normally-only-screen-lit skin wasn't scathed with any Vitamin D). Despite the fog, the air was warm and the day seemed promising, other than the baby screaming on my hip. It took several tries for BB to allow me to put him down on the strange soft, uneven surface, but he finally relaxed and started playing with his ball on the blanket. J and I quickly realized though that if his ball rolled off the blanket, he would squat at the edge of the blanket and reach, reach, reach for it, but would not venture onto the sand! After we tried to encourage him to walk on the sand a few times, we realized as I read my book and J ocean-gazed, that this was a blessing in disguise! BB was trapped on the blanket, not running all over the beach, requiring one of us to chase him! We could relax! Read! Sit! "Yes, BB, sand is scary," was our joke. It was wonderful. He just played with us and around us and we appreciated the invisible fence that contained him until the air chilled and it was time to head to lunch.

The next day we went to Carlsbad State Beach after driving around my hometown, found a killer parking spot, and settled onto the sand (sans tent). Shortly after our arrival, BB realized that the sand was not so scary after all, and ventured off the blankets, with Daddy in tow. But anytime BB faced the ocean, he would stop dead in his tracks as soon as he saw it. He wouldn't walk towards the water, only away from it! We carried him down to the water and built sandcastles in the mud, but BB hated it when the cold water rush over his feet. I finally carried him into the water and he got splashed and cried, so we went back to playing on the sand. Finally at the end of the day, after much encouragement from Daddy, BB would walk on the sand towards the direction of the water. Not to go to the water, mind you, but he wasn't turning tail to run away from it.

If we'd only had one more beach day, I just know we would have had him surfing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Birth Story, Part 3: Labor of Love, or Getting Acquainted With Genesis 3:16

I felt my contractions quickly grow stronger. Everyone was gabbing with each other when I started to feel a crampy sensation in my lower abdomen. Surprised, I breathed slowly and deeply and tried to focus on relaxing my whole body like the Bradley book had said was so important. The sensation stopped and I glanced at my visitors who seemed oblivious to my sudden silence or the paradigm shift in my labor that had just occurred. A pain-ish sensation, finally, about 19 hours into my labor. A harbinger of what was to come, I realized. My hope for Wendy's miraculous painless labor was forgotten. And before I knew it, another crampy feeling was upon me, this one a little more consuming than the last. I took slow, deep breaths.

The contractions quickly escalated both in strength and frequency.
"Guys? I think I need a break," I managed between contractions. My visitors scattered.
Alone with J and our nurse, the next hours are piecey and blurred together in my memory.

Early on in labor (as I mostly labored on a birthing ball), trying to channel Dr. Bradley

A nurse rapidly turning the Pitocin down, down, down.

Sitting on the birthing ball at J's suggestion.

Breathing, breathing, breathing. Slow, deep breaths. In. Out. Iiiiin. Ouuuut. Over and Over.

The relief of a warm rice sock on my lower back.

The dread with the menstrual-cramping sensation that signaled the impending contraction, breathe breathe breathe, relax your body, relax your body.

Focusing on this one moment. Nothing else exists outside this one moment.

My servant husband holding pressure to my hips and pressing his thumbs in my lower back like we learned in our birthing class.

Wendy telling J "See how she's getting irritable? That's actually a good sign."

Nausea and dizziness.

Increasing intensity.

Wendy opening my birthing book, my focal point, asking where I bought it.

Seriously, you think I can answer you?

"Borders," I grunted. Speaking required too much focus and energy.

J suggesting a shower and feeling like if I stood up I would just fall right over from the light-headedness.

I can't possibly get up and move without fainting.

I am trapped on the birthing ball.

Contraction upon contraction upon contraction. Only moments between them.

I can't catch my breath. I can't breathe. I need to...breathe. breathe. breathe.


I need to rest.

When will I rest because here's another contraction?

How can I be thinking these calm thoughts but be unable to speak, be so physically incapacitated?

Trapped in my mind.

I want to go somewhere away from here - but I can't escape because it's my body. I can't stop this. I can't rest.

Weak sobs.

"I can't do this."

How am I going to do this? I'm so tired. There's no rest.

Just focus on this one contraction.

But how many more contractions are there going to be?

How am I going to push if I'm this tired now?

"Wendy, I'm thinking about getting an epidural," I gasped.

"Well, what were your reasons for not wanting an epidural?"

"I don't want BB to come out all drugged."

"That's very unlikely to happen."

"I don't want it to slow down my labor."

"At this point it shouldn't slow down your labor. It may actually allow you to relax and finish dilating until you are ready to push."

"How far along do you think I am?"

"Would it make a difference?"


"Let's check you."

Maybe. Maybe if I'm transitioning I can keep going. I just need rest. If rest is close, maybe.

I walked back to bed, contracting in the middle of the 3-step walk, amazed that I could move without keeling over.

6 1/2.

I sat cross-legged in bed.

It felt better.

Minutes later the contractions intensified again, and I was trapped in my mind again, thinking, thinking, breathing, breathing.

I just need to rest. I'm going to have to push this baby out and I need to rest.

Awake for so long.

I asked for my friend A, Mommy to Little C and future Doctor.

She appeared at the bedside. I grimaced through a contraction.

"When you got your epidural, could you sleep? Does it only take away the pain but you can still feel the pressure and you can't sleep? Or can you sleep?"

She said yes, she could sleep.

She told me to make whatever was the right decision for me, and later revealed how she just wanted to tell me to get the epidural, but she knew she shouldn't.

I looked at J and said "I think I'm going to get the epidural."

He looked nervous. I know he wanted to be supportive of my desire for a natural birth, and wasn't sure what he should say or do.

I told Wendy I had decided.

The anesthesiologist was there quickly. I curled up in a ball, trying not to move as I contracted in this awkward position. One other reason I didn't want an epidural was because I had fainted in nursing school watching an epidural. My best friend from nursing school - we met on the first day of orientation and instantly connected, and we carpooled, studied, and planned all of our clinicals to be together for all 2 1/2 years of our program - had told me in detail about how she had fainted watching an epidural being placed, and all the details about how they had actually finished inserting the epidural but when they were positioning it, pulling it in and out, she just got disgusted and then she passed out. Days later, I was in preop excited to head into the OR and watch a nephrectomy and the anesthesiologist came to place the epidural - I remember being surprised at how aggressively he injected the anesthetic and watching the epidural being inserted, but lo and behold, as he was pulling the tiny plastic tubing in and out of the patient's lower back, at the exact moment she had described, I knew I was about to faint, so I walked over the wall and lost consciousness as I slid to the ground. Since then, I have been squeamish about needles in the back. Lumbar puncture in the ER=Nursing student K lying on a stretcher in a cold sweat with low blood pressure while the walls and ceiling spun around me. Every nurse has her thing that she just can't do, and needles in the back is mine. So as much as I wanted to have a natural labor for BB's health and for my own empowerment and fulfillment of this aspect of womanhood, I also was just plain afraid of the actual procedure of getting the epidural. And I was afraid it wouldn't work, or that it would puncture some part of my spinal column and I would be paralyzed forever.

But turns out that when my entire abdomen is one round flexing muscle doing the most intense workout of it's entire life, needles in the back are totally my thing. With the intensity of the contraction, I was back inside my mind, trapped by the pain, and I barely felt a pinprick. The anesthesiologist said it would kick in quickly and he was true to his word. Within minutes, I was experiencing some relief, and shortly thereafter my entire thorax was numb.

The relief was incredible. I felt such gratitude for the anesthesiologist and his magical work. And I could still sense my legs! I could even move them a little if I really concentrated! No phantom limbs like I had feared!


My mom and my sister appeared at my bedside, as my sister had arrived sometime since I had kicked everyone out. It was sweet and encouraging just to see them. I remember my sister looking at me and saying "Sunday's child, full of grace," with tears in her eyes. All I remember saying to them is "I'm so glad I got the epidural," in a sleep-deprived daze. And they laughed as I said it a few more times before they stepped back out and I got ready to take the nap I had been longing for.

I got comfortable in bed and J laid down on the recliner chair and we both fell asleep while my body continued laboring.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


We love our little knee-bobber

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Papa love

BB just loves his Papa, and his Papa loves him right back.
Papa frequently can be seen parading BB around church or family gatherings, proud of the youngest man in the family.

Cuddles with Papa at BB's Great-Grandpa's 80th birthday party

Happy Campers

We celebrated 4th of July weekend a little early by returning to Rose Canyon on Mt. Lemmon for BB's first camping trip ever! I grew up camping with my family, but, as I said before, many years later J and I both fall more into the "indoorsy" category. We only stayed one night, piggybacking onto J's sister's family trip. They made several trips up the mountain last summer, so we figured it was a good idea to make our first baby-camping trip (and really only our third camp trip as a couple!) with an experienced crew.
We made the hour drive after J got off of work, and J got the tent up just as the sun set and the last light faded. Once we were unloaded, top priority was to set up the pack-n-play and put BB down for the night. Our tent was just big enough for the pack-n-play and our two sleeping bags. After just a little fussing BB fell asleep - he's such a great sleeper, he can sleep anywhere, which I am so thankful for because I know not all babies are as sleep-adaptable as BB, and it allows us to have a much more active social life than we could otherwise. So BB fell asleep and J and I joined the rest of the family around the campfire and made smores - which, J can tell you, I had been obsessively craving since the exact moment we first considered going on this trip. Once the little ones were all in bed and my tummy was full of chocolate and toasted marshmallows, I tried my hand at a little mixology. Sadly, my smores drink was a failed experiment, but between giggling at camp fire innuendos and the fun when you combine outdoor toileting with flashlights, the rest of the night was a definite success.

The next day we went to Rose Canyon lake so J and M could help the little girls fish and I reminisced about the last time we brought BB to this lake - he was so little and he slept in the carrier almost the whole time.

August 2009 & July 2010

Now I followed him as he toddled the lake walkway and let the dirt and rocks sift through his hands.

We were given a hiking backpack carrier which we used for the first time on this trip!

I think it's safe to say that he's a happy camper.