Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The flu is not fun.

Had a pretty bad day today. Got the flu or something similar... basically body aches, headache, nausea, shakes, and feeling like I was freezing! Even ended up with a fever (at least for me, I'm usually in the 96F range, I was in the 99's the one time I checked).

Worst part was that my boobs were in TONS of pain! Somehow it seemed like the  body aches were amplified in my breasts. Made it hard not only to feed the baby, but to even so much as move from the bed!

I felt bad that J had to cancel all the plans that he had for the day (not just hanging-out type plans, but actually productive plans). He's been great about taking care of me, but he ended up losing the last day off he had for a little bit. Still, J is an amazing father! He took care of River and me all day.

I haven't really left the bed or gone downstairs at all today, we've just been laying in bed and watching Netflix (we just got it, and are still in our 2-week trail! it's been awesome since I've been spending so much time at home and the streaming video on xbox makes it worth the price). Right now he's even playing Left 4 Dead 2 with the volume super low.

At this point I'm just hoping that River doesn't catch this from me. Usually I'm a research maniac, but not so much when I'm sick. Does anyone know about getting sick while breastfeeding? From what I remember, I think it's better to continue breastfeeding and being close so that they'll get the antibodies. But I'm not sure.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One Month!

As of yesterday, River is one month old!

It's been a great month. It's felt too fast and too slow at the same time. We've done so much and so little.

This past month included, aside from having River and getting home from the hospital, River has gone to the Highland Games and Scottish Festival, to the Boerner Gardens Fairy Garden Walk, to the Bristol Renaissance Faire's GARBage Sale, and to her first fathers day celebration with her grandfather and great grandfather! It's been a busy month for such a little girl.

She's gone from being a little squiggly sleeping/eating baby to a slightly less squiggly and sleepy but still constantly eating baby. We're finally getting to know her, getting to know what all those funny little faces she makes mean, getting to know how to sooth her quickest so that we can get some sleep at night. She's even finally started giving us the littlest smiles and staring into our eyes.

We've learned a lot in the past month as parents. Both of us had never even changed a diaper. Now we've learned all about the practicalities of breastfeeding, how to swaddle and sling a baby, diaper rash, gas and burping, etc... We've also started learning about how to deal with all the unsolicited advice and over attentiveness. I even learned all about postpartum symptoms (like all the bleeding, achiness, joint pain, etc...).

This last picture is of J, River, and me from the fairy garden walk, we were dubbed the tree fairy family. She was slinged (slung?) and slept through almost the entire event.

((all pictures are in chronological order. Sorry for no newer close-up photo of River, I've been meaning to take one the past two days, but she's been pretty constantly attached to the boob))

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Handmade children's products: Illegal.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (or the CPSIA) is a piece of legislation that was originally intended to make large, multinational corporations liable for the safety of the toys they produce. It created a list of dangerous ingredients that were not to be allowed in children's products and held the manufacturer responsible by making them test the products. Sounds great, right? Honestly, as it was intended, it is.

Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to make mandates on large businesses that small businesses are not forced to follow as well. Where there is a loop hole, large business will find and exploit them. So, while huge corporations will not have an issue paying the thousands of dollars it takes to test a product, small-batch producers will be left in the dust. The legislation is, effectively putting small producers out of business.

I have been making simple children's toys out of recycled plastic felt for a little while now. I've mostly sold them to a friend of mine who is a doula and runs childbirth classes. I've been intending to start an Etsy shop, but wanted to wait until this legislation is figured out. Although all of the parts used in the production of my felties, I would be forced to pay thousands of dollars to test each product. Change the shape of one, or the color of another, pay another few thousand dollars to retest everything. Yup, that's how comprehensive this legislation mandates the testing to be. Keep in mind that every product sold at a store like JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels has already been tested, but because I have repackaged that product, I am forced to retest everything individually and as a finished product.

While this comprehensive testing is great for customers of companies that put out cheap plastic toys that are made using tons of chemicals and small parts, this is murder for anyone that buys products from retailers who make their products by hand in small batches. This doesn't only effect the seller, this effects the people who want to be able to buy locally produced or hand made products. This applies to anything that any child under 12 might use, including toys, clothes, slings, etc. Even thrift stores would be forced to comply with this legislation, which they have no means of doing! This means that the market will only contain products made by these large corporations.

This legislation was already passed in 2008. Currently most small businesses that create products for children are choosing to break the law in order to keep their livelihood and keep doing what they love. They are working to contact legislators and have some exemptions added to the legislation that will allow them to keep creating their amazing products.

HERE is's story on The Handmade Toy Alliance, an organization that is working to support small handcrafting businesses

Please, keep supporting small businesses, keep buying from individuals, we need it now more than ever.
Check out and contact your legislators!

Reading Reading All The Time

I grew up with books like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Animal Farm, and The Last Unicorn. Later I moved on to Anne Rice among other authors. Although I did have some typically child-oriented books, such as Harold and the Purple Crayon, I was always encouraged towards more adult-oriented reading.

I've already begun continuing this tradition with my daughter. I read to her from whatever I happen to be reading. So far this has already included Lord of the Rings, Ishmael, and the Dalai Lama's book on science, as well as websites like,, and

My hope is that she will become an avid reader like myself. We'll see how that goes.

As an aside: I still haven't managed to master the motherly art of feeding my baby and myself in a day >.< Baby gets fed, I don't... This needs to be fixed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Baby Shower Finally Figured Out ^.^

This is a follow-up to my post HERE about my baby shower frustrations.

My mother decided to throw me a baby shower now that little River is here. This follows some of the Jewish tradition by waiting until after the baby was born, and still lets me have a baby shower. My husband and some other men of our generation were invited and are expected to attend, which we're really glad about. We're sad that there weren't even numbers of men and women invited, but there would have been if space was not a concern. I'm really glad that my mom took some of my advice and is planning on having the Onesie Decoration Activity.

As far as buying things for the baby goes, we went ahead and got most of the things that we felt we needed already. There were a few things that we decided that we didn't need that my MIL (mother in law) got us (another case of 'knowing better'). But either way, there's not much left that we need. Honestly, I'm kind of happy about this, because I ended up getting a lot of the stuff used or super-cheap, and because it means that I can register for things that I want and wouldn't otherwise get (like a baby-food making system).

(this is mostly just in response to my old post, not really associated with the shower any more) I have to say, now that I had the natural birth that I was planning, I've been getting an amazingly positive response! I think the fact that so many people who did not think I could do it has led to some real surprise! Although I have been corrected that not ALL of my family was unsupportive, I have to say I wish that there was more positivity when I was pregnant instead of just after I had proven I could do it.

I'm just hoping now that family members can be supportive of my parenting choices. I've heard some disparaging remarks about on-demand-feeding and cosleeping, but am set on the decisions I've made. Although I think the 15-min every 2 hours schedule might be easier on the mom, I don't think this is the best route for babies. Babies do not live by a schedule.

The issues with the MIL not wanting to plan the shower and complaining about the wedding shower have not quite been quelled, though we are getting there. She came to visit for dinner one day last week, and started complaining about some family friends that had not been invited. Please keep in mind that my mother was the one planning the shower, and that space was a concern when we pared down the guest list. Instead of staying silent and letting her complain like I normally do, I spoke up and told her that if she had thrown the shower herself, that she could have invited anyone that she wanted. I honestly can't believe I said that, I can say things like that to strangers and friends, but I have never been able to speak up like that to my in-laws! Still, I'm glad I did, and it worked. For that visit she didn't have anything else to say. Still, when we talked to her recently, she started up with pointing out that our registry info wasn't listed on the invites, etc...

All-in-all, I have to say that I'm actually looking forward to the shower! I think it'll be a good chance for everyone to get to meet River! I just have to get used to other people holding her and giving me all their parenting advice.

Why aren't there more midwife-type practitioners?

I think going through a midwife for my pregnancy was one of the best choices I ever made. I don't think I could have had anything close to my positive experience if I had chosen another type of health care provider. That said, I'm frustrated now. I'm frustrated that there aren't more professionals using the midwife philosophies in their practices. I'm so glad that I can keep going to my midwife group for my regular gynecological appointments, but I wish they could do more.

Much like pregnancy, I feel that the point of early pediatric appointments are to stand out of the way of the child's development and just monitor it to make sure that there are no issues. How does going to a medically trained pediatrician differ from going to an obstetrician for pregnancy?

I feel like the doctor, more often than not, is looking for something to be wrong. I feel like they can often let their own judgments get in the way of their practice. Every visit to my child's pediatrician has included her telling me that it's ok to use formula instead of breastfeeding even though I have told her my opinions and cited research that contradicts her. I have been less than honest with her about our decisions to cosleep and breastfeed on demand because I'm afraid that she will think less of my parenting (how stupid is that).

Recently the World Health Organization published a new set of size charts for babies who are specifically breastfed. My pediatrician, at our one week appointment, insisted that we bring River in for a two week appointment because she had decided that River wasn't gaining enough weight. She decided this based on her chart that was developed including formula fed babies, even though formula fed babies typically gain more weight and are more likely to be obese. I think I might have to print out these newer charts and bring them in.

I really shouldn't feel that I need to educate my child's pediatrician.

You might be asking why I'm not going to another pediatrician that shares my views about raising children and stays more up-to-date on research.. well, there's a couple reasons: (1) those pediatricians don't seem to exist in my area, or if they do, I can't seem to find them. (2) The doctor that we're seeing was my hubby's doctor when he was younger, and he has some attachment to the idea of River seeing her.

I have given in to seeing this doctor in particular because I feel that I am well-researched enough to counter her opinions with well-researched fact, but I worry about mothers who don't do their own research and follow everything that the doctor says.

Back to the original topic of this post: I don't see why there can't be a practitioner that functions more like a midwife. This would include a weigh-in, some simple measurements, maybe some occasional testing, but mostly just a check-in. This would include talking to me like I'm an adult who might have some knowledge or at least know how to read instead of like a child who would be hopeless without the doctor's guidance. This would include getting to know us as a family instead of just River's statistics in her file. This would include telling us about a procedure, vaccine, or concern instead of just telling us what the doctor recommends. Why can't we have more medical practitioners like that?

Monday, June 21, 2010

A day late fathers day post

Thanks to all the hustle and bustle yesterday, I wasn't able to make a fathers day post, and I really do want to share the awesomeness that is my husband and the father of my baby girl. Unfortunately, this isn't really that post.

The night before was another hard night for me. I had taken some benadryl before bed, so I was ridiculously groggy. River had woken up some time in the early morning hours, was having trouble latching on, and was getting quite fussy. Since I wasn't really able to wake up fully, I don't remember much of this, but apparently I was refusing to let J help with anything, saying that it was fathers day so he should get a full night of sleep. Eventually, with me crying, I let him change her diaper and help get us into bed. After that, River still would not latch or stop fussing, and I, in my Benadryl-induced stupor, kept getting more and more frustrated. I guess some craziness happened after that on my part (mostly half-asleep ramblings and a strange inability to differentiate sleep from wakefulness (according to J)).

One part that I do remember from that long night was J telling me that I shouldn't make a big deal about fathers day because he didn't even really feel like a dad. I know he's having a hard time right now because he's not able to feed the baby and she spends SO MUCH time eating! I know he feels helpless when she starts to get fussy and it's only mommy's boobs that can sooth her.

So, later in the day, I made a card for him with River's help (ok, I used traced her hand), and on the inside I wrote:
To the best baby daddy and kitty daddy,

I know you say you don't feel like much of a father yet,

But it's just because you are such a natural.

Love you so much,

Cheryl and River.

Unfortunately, J had to work through his first fathers day and I ended up going to my family's fathers day dinner with River. I was sad to spend the day separate.

Today is Gaming Day (basically, every monday, we have a group of friends over and play Warhammer, D&D, or WoW, though I haven't been playing much lately). He's downstairs with a big group of people while I am upstairs with little River who I am convinced is having a growth spurt because she WON'T STOP EATING! She starts fussing whenever she isn't attached.

This is a picture J took of River and me while we were napping on the couch. I love it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Today and Some Observations

Just got back from the Highland Games! had an amazing time with some good friends. River and I are back home now, chilling in the amazing air conditioning, and EXHAUSTED! It was really hot and sunny out today, so I'm downing water while she nurses. I had meant to bring a camera to the games, but with everything else I've been carrying around it just got left behind.

I used my new sling for the first time. We decided to go with a Maya Sling from Cutie Poops and Bottoms because it seemed to be the most versatile and provide the best support for a newborn while being in the lower price range (I won't say cheap, because no baby carrier seems to be cheap!)

I've decided that my bobbies are my super power! No matter where I am, I have easy access to the best thing to feed my baby. They're also a great way to bond with her and sooth her. I never have to fully wake up to feed her at night (unless she's being a fuss-butt). And I don't have to carry around any bottles, formula, water, etc...

I decided that this post needed a picture, and I've found this breastfeeding picture beautiful for a while now :-)

Tomorrow River and I will be driving up to my parents' house, and then on to my grandparents' for fathers day ^.^ it'll be the first time introducing River to my extended family. Unfortunately, like today, J is pulling a double tomorrow... so that kinda sucks.

Well, I have a snoring baby asleep on my boob. Life is good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Some Unbidden Advertising!

I have to take a moment here and do some un-asked-for advertising for my midwife... If you live in the Chicago-land area and are pregnant, seriously, GO TO HER!

SHE IS AWESOME! I had the coolest, silliest, most awesomely supportive midwife EVER! She really made J and me feel comfortable and we really had FUN with her! She supported every decision we made.

I have a big problem with most people in the medical profession talking to me like I am a child. I spend a lot of time reading medical literature about anything pertinent, I'll ask questions if I don't know something. It usually feels a lot like a strange parent-child relationship where the child is paying the parent... Instead Cynthia was amazing about treating us like adults. She approached everything by giving us recommendations and information and letting us make the decisions.

Our pre-labor appointments honestly felt a lot like social visits! We would chat about emotions, work and financial situations, as well as pregnancy health related issues.

Our labor and delivery was peppered with awesome geeky jokes, fantastic support, and amazing encouragement. She respected everything I did, even allowing me to push even though I was only 9cm, with a lip, and I wouldn't let her check me again. She trusted my body and my instincts even more than I did. She even took the time to stay hours after birth and sit with me while my husband went with the baby to get measured.

I honestly don't think I would have gotten the delivery experience that I wanted without Cynthia Mason as my midwife. If I ever am pregnant again, I have no questions about who I would go to.

So seriously, if you live in the Chicago-land area and are pregnant, make an appointment to meet with Cynthia Mason. DO IT!

To make this post interesting I have inserted River pics between every paragraph ^.^

Haven't really posted here in a while, mostly because there's nothing much to post about. I haven't left the house unnecessarily yet, only leaving for midwife and pediatrician appointments, so not much has happened. After the appointment we'll usually try to hit up somewhere for lunch and then the grocery store, but that's still too much for me..

Here's a pic of River and me in the hospital:

Otherwise, my mother has been over a few times, plus some close friends, but mostly I prefer to be by myself with the baby and the hubby.

Here's a pic of my mom and River:

I'm still sore, swollen, bleeding, and head-achy. Any time I do go anywhere I end up exhausted.There were two times that I had to call an early end to the errands we were trying to run after an appointment. It happens though, and I've been assured that everything I'm feeling is totally normal (doesn't make it hurt less though).

Here's a picture of J and River, he's a FANTASTIC DADDY!!!

I've been keeping a close eye on my mood since delivery. I had a lot of the indicators that I was more likely to get postpartum depression, but so far I seem to have been pretty lucky. I've had a couple crying jags, mostly related to frustration though (they were both when River was upset and I was exhausted), so those were pretty normal. Otherwise I just get a little overly sad when J has to go to work for a long day (like today). I think I've gotten off easy so far, especially compared to the antepartum depression I had earlier.

J and I have both gotten really good at using the computer while River is on us (she's a cuddly baby who tends to fuss whenever she's not being held). Here he is playing WoW:

I've gotten to the point though, where I don't think it's healthy to be sitting around at home and alone so much. I want to start showing River the world so that, at least when she's old enough to really absorb things, she'll be used to going out and experiencing everything. So.. tomorrow I'm planning on taking her to the Illinois Highland Games and Scottish Festival, and then sunday I'll be taking her to my family's Father's Day get-together. The really big thing here: I'll be doing these thing ON MY OWN. J is working an extremely hard 'week' (his week is most people's weekend since he works in entertainment).

Here's a picture of River in the hospital:
Since I have more pictures to share, I'm just going to make random statements to go between them :-)

Here's another picture of her in the hospital.. she's all pensive looking, and you can see the scratch she gave herself while the nurses were weighing her :-/

River looooves Kangaroo Care! She's a sucker for being nakey on someone's chest! (unfortunately the article I linked to associates Kangaroo Care with premature infants primarily and misses out on the benefits for babies who are at term.. but I'm too lazy to look for another article right now)

Here's a picture of River the day that we got her home. She's laying on one of the blankets I crocheted for her. Since she was still all flail-y we had to put mitties on her.

We couldn't believe how beautiful River was right when she was born! She looked just like a little baby! We had been bracing ourselves for some hideous monster-baby; all purple and covered in cottage cheesy-nasties. Instead she was pink, clean, breathed right away, gave a little cry to let us know she was ok, then snuggled up to me.

Here's another pic of her right after we got her home:

I'm out of random things to say, so here are some more pics:

Here are her chubby cheekies, I eat them for breakfast!!

Here she is in the Thirsties diaper we bought from an awesome local store called Cutie Poops and Bottoms! The owner was awesome and even gave us demonstrations of all the different cloth diaper options. We'll definitely be going back there! Seriously, if you live in the Chicago area check out this place! and if you don't, you can still order from them online!! Unfortunately we have her in 'sposies right now because the adjustable Thirsties covers we bought seem to be a bit large for her and she springs leaks out the sides. As soon as she gets a little bigger we'll be cloth diapering!!

Oh, and because it is awesome and I'm very proud of myself: here's a pic of breastfeeding! I HAVE MAGIC BOOBIES! You can't really see it in this picture, but I have some issues breastfeeding. This might be over sharing, but I think this is an issue that should be talked about more and people shouldn't feel alone. I have relatively small, flat nipples. River had a VERY HARD time latching on and still does. One of the night nurses at the hospital was particularly amazing! I mentioned momentarily that I was having a hard time getting her to latch, and she was instantly there with a ton of little toys to help. She was very pro-breastfeeding and wanted to make sure that I had everything I needed to be successful. The toy that worked: a nipple shield! It looks a bit like the nipple on a bottle, it fits over my areola and nipple and gives her something to latch onto. The only downside is that she doesn't seem to recognize my actual nipples any more, and only nurses with the shield on which can be a little awkward to juggle in public. It's a small price to pay for being able to feed my baby what's best for her!

I have to say that I'm a little disappointed with our pediatrician. The two times we've seen her she's made it a point to tell me that "it's really ok to supplement with formula." I've told her how I feel about supplementing and that it's really unnecessary as I don't mind breastfeeding and it's going well. The pediatrician in J's childhood doctor though, and the doctor for the rest of his immediate family, so he's willing to let some of her opinions slide. Since I just met her, I'm a little less at ease...

Anyways, that turned into a rant, so here's the picture:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life is Pretty Good

I've been having a hard time posting since River's birth. Not for lack of time, I've had plenty, but because I just find it so much easier to post when I have something to complain about!

J has been amazing. Not only through labor and delivery, but since then. Whenever I have any sort of issue, he's always there to take care of me. He changes practically all of the diapers (my abdominal muscles are still really sore) and takes River whenever I start getting frustrated. He is coping really well with the fact that River is almost always attached to me (she's a hungry little thing) and that feeding is just not something he can participate in at the moment (we're looking into borrowing or buying a pump). When he is holding her, I can't help but smile as he gets lost gazing at her, or does some of the stupidest things to try and get her to smile.

River has been amazing. She's a quiet little thing, and although she is hungry and can nurse for HOURS (literally, i'm not kidding) she's good about telling us that she's uncomfortable before breaking into a full-blown cry. I've already gotten pretty skilled in deciphering what's making her cry. There have only been a few times (I can still count them on one hand) where I've gotten frustrated, and most of that has just been because of sleep deprivation (she still has her days and nights flipped, and I'm not the best at napping during the day). She sleeps on my chest at night and I often find myself falling asleep while she nurses to wake up an hour later to her demanding more boob.

The only issues that I have are related to my physical recovery. It's going sloooowly. I'm still sore, shaky, bleeding, and overall feeling like I got hit by a truck. People who know me know that I have a really hard time with not being able to do something.. it just makes me want to do it more. Most also know that I have a really really hard time asking for help. J keeps being reminded of this when it takes a full blown breakdown on my part just to ask for some snuggles (as happened a couple nights ago).

Right now though, I have a sleeping baby on my chest and a computer in front of me. If J were at home instead of at work, all would be right with my world. And tomorrow is my 2-week followup appointment with my most favoritest midwife ^.^

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

After Birth

Throughout pregnancy, and even before it, it seems like every woman wants to share her stories about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Everyone has their gruesome tales and their unasked for advice. Seriously, I've met people who go on for hours about whatever horror took place during their delivery, as if that was supposed to help me not be terrified for mine. But no one told me about what happened after!

There are even tons of websites devoted to pregnancy, most focusing on the baby, but some focusing primarily on the mother. And none of the websites that I was reading mentioned even momentarily what to expect for after labor. American Pregnancy Association, the website that I frequented most often because of its no-nonsense scientific approach to discussing pregnancy (though I wasn't so appreciative of their very gender-stereotypical advice for mom's partner), DID include a section on After Pregnancy, but this section focused only on the baby, with a small bit focusing on postpartum depression. Yes, PPD is very serious, and needs a lot of attention, but it's a hot topic. You can find information about it anywhere (hell, there's usually even an article about it on CNN's health section's top 5 articles).

What I didn't hear anything about was aftercare for any tears, about the bleeding, clotting, etc., about the soreness that stays with you for weeks, about the utter exhaustion that it never feels like you get a chance to recover from (after all, I'm this baby's only source of food), about the pelvic pain, about feeling like your organs are sloshing around in you, etc.

Keep in mind that I only called my midwives once during pregnancy, and that was to get their permission to travel to Michigan during my final trimester for a funeral. Otherwise, the midwives never heard from me except at scheduled visits. Since giving birth I have thought of calling them every day to ask if _____ was normal. It's only my usual procrastination that keeps me from calling. I'll wait and wait, trying to see if it will get better, until finally their office is closed and I can't talk myself into believing my issue is important enough to bother the on-call midwife.

It has been 11 days since River was born, and I'm still bleeding. Some of it is still bright red, some of it is rust colored. Yesterday I got lightheaded and blacked out in the shower, today I couldn't stand long enough to accompany J on a short grocery trip. My pelvis and tail bone still hurt, and so do my legs, arms, neck, head, etc. My abdominal muscles hardly work. There's other pain too, but I don't want to gross out the family members and in-laws that read this. Yes, I expected some of this, but the intensity and duration are already more that I was told to expect. Even in the hospital they didn't really prepare me for this.

The only mention of postpartum bleeding that I came across in my normal pregnancy and baby reading (meaning not without extra research and searching) came in my most recent American Baby Magazine (a free magazine that I magically started getting after becoming pregnant) that I actually received after leaving the hospital. Still, the article only mentions the bleeding, and manages to skip over the pain, the tears, the readjusting that your entire body is going through, etc.

Basically, I'm saying that there needs to be more attention paid to, and more information out there about, what happens to a woman after pregnancy. I hope that sharing a bit about what is happening to me helps some other women who read my blog.

Other than that, I have a sleeping baby on my chest, and it feels so good ^-^

Saturday, June 05, 2010

River's Birth Story *TMI WARNING*

Starting May 25th  I had been having some pretty intense pre-labor signs. On Tuesday it was the inability to sit still and some pretty intense discomfort. The baby had already dropped, so I was in the bathroom every half-hour or so. Wednesday was mostly discomfort and painful contractions. Thursday I got a break from the painful contractions for the beginning of the day, but they came back during the Bradley Method classes I've been attending. I honestly don't remember much of what was talked about in class that day, I was just concentrating on relaxing and feeling what my body was doing.

7AM (on the nose) on Friday May 28th I woke up, ran to the bathroom, and felt my water break. Spent the next half hour sitting on the toilet dealing with the now-intense and painful contractions. J and I waited until the midwive's office opened for the day before calling. Found out that our favorite midwife, who agreed to 'special' our delivery, was actually on call that day ^.^ Contractions were jumping around between 7 and 10 minutes apart, and usually a minute and a half long. My mother, who had a very fast labor and delivery with me, rushed over expecting me to be similar. She expected us to run to the hospital, but instead worked on the quilt that I had started.

Jehosh was amazing, he was with me for most of the contractions (the only ones he missed were when I sent him to do something else). I spent my contractions with him holding me, swaying with me, and generally making sure that I was relaxing and letting my body do what it needed.

They stayed like that until around 3, when, even though they weren't much closer together (maybe around 6-8 minutes apart) I started feeling really anxious. It took till shortly after 4 before I could convince J that we really needed to leave. The midwife was hesitant, worried that I wouldn't progress fast enough once I was in the hospital and might be pushed into an induction.

When I was at home I was doing a lot of the laboring on the toilet since every contraction made me have to pee, so the car ride was pretty horrible. We got stuck in traffic, and the drive that should have taken 45 minutes (there are very few hospitals that offer what we got in Illinois) took like an hour and a half. To make matters worse, I had started getting a slight urge to push, the weather was extremely warm, and I had been really reliant on J for relaxation.

We finally got to the hospital, and after checking in the E.R., I was sat in a wheelchair in front of an elevator to wait for someone from labor and delivery to get me. Since I hadn't been able to pee for the past hour and a half, I was getting impatient, and it felt like it was taking forever for the L&D nurse to get me. So I started wheeling myself over to the bathroom. Guess they don't like that in the E.R., and I pretty quickly got someone pushing me to meet the L&D nurse half-way.

My midwife, Cynthia, was already waiting in L&D for me, and got me hooked up to an external Electronic Fetal Monitor for the required 20 minutes of monitoring. We had a really hard time keeping track of the baby's heartbeat, and kept accidentally picking mine up. This is one of the many times I was SO GLAD to have Cynthia as our midwife! Other health-care professionals might have gotten worried, or even started an intervention, but Cynthia was completely calm.

Oh, we also found out that I was 5.5 cm dilated when I came into the hospital! Cynthia's worry that I wasn't progressing fast enough was replaced by gratitude that we came in when we did. We were moved very quickly into an open Alternative Birth Center room. Once there, I finally got to sit on the toilet like I had SO wanted to, while the nurse filled the water birthing tub. As soon as it was full I got in and it was AMAZING! seriously, it was the best pain relief ever! I finally was able to relax, and the weight off my body was extremely cathartic. I was able to relax so much that I hardly even felt the next two contractions.

After that, I have to admit that I was terrified. Nothing can prepare a person for labor and delivery, especially transition. I managed to let go of myself and started screaming pretty loudly. J said it sounded like I was being tortured... I think that's because it kind of WAS torture!

Cynthia checked me at this point, and I was 9-cm with a small lip on my cervix. Unfortunately, her checking me gave me some horribly painful contractions.. and I didn't let her check again. At this point I felt the undeniable urge to push. Even though I knew I had another cm before I 'should' be pushing, my body didn't really give me a choice. Of the almost two hours that I was in the hospital, I think I spent a little over an hour actually pushing.

J was amazing through all of this. I pushed on all fours in the tub with J holding my head up so that I could push against it. I didn't realize that he was using the wrist that he had broken in highschool and apparently had never healed correctly. He was also great about supporting me and helping me relax between contractions.

After a few really GOOD pushes, River's head was out. I wasn't sure I had any more in me, but next thing I knew she was in my arms. It was amazing. She cried for half a second, almost like she just wanted to say hi, then she was completely quiet and looking into my eyes. She was already pink and wasn't covered in that nasty cheesy stuff. It was amazing, she just looked like this happy little baby. She scored a 9,9 on her apgar.

A lot of birth and what happened after is a blur. I know that at some point I looked around the room and commented that I hadn't actually seen it before because I had my eyes shut through most of the time I was there. I think J even had to lead me from the bathroom to the tub. We were left for over an hour with the baby, just laying in the nice queen-sized bed and bonding. Eventually River was taken to be measured: 7 pounds 9 ounces, 19 inches long, 34 inch head diameter (yup, I pushed that out of me >.< )

All in all, the labor was about 13 hours long, with only 2 hours of it spent in the hospital. River was born at 7:52pm.  My mom was amazed at the end of it, she couldn't believe that I got through the whole thing with no medication or interventions. I ended up with only a small tear that didn't even really need stitches.

We decided to spend the next day and a half in the hospital, mostly so that I could get some sleep, breastfeeding assistance, and so that family could visit us in the hospital instead of at home.

Trying to write this (it's been up on my browser screen for the past two days) has really shown me how impossible it is to describe the pain and the emotions involved in childbirth. It's easy to talk about times and facts, but it's hard to describe exactly what it felt like. We are just so happy that we got the birth that we all wanted.