Spinning

26 Jun 2013 | 2 comments »

In Jannik’s first four months of life, we spent 44 days out of town. That’s an average of 11 days per month. He has been to Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Germany and the Olympic Peninsula. Were he not flying for free, he would have already accumulated 20,218 frequent flyer miles and a gold medal in carseat riding.

 

Jannik kicked off his globe trotting adventures with a trip to Oklahoma and Texas for my Grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary celebration at five weeks old. This was also the inauguration of my spring odyssey of traveling alone with two children. The first trip I had a backpack, two rollers and a stroller as carry-ons with three hour connections. By our final adventure I was down to just a backpack and the ergo and had braved a 45 minute connection.

 

Traveling with a five week old gives people in airports the opportunity to show how bad they are at filtering their opinions through their facial expressions. After receiving a stern non-verbal talking-to of disapproving glances and whispers from an elderly woman who asked how old my baby was, I began lying and telling people he was two months old. Certain traveling fathers paying for a seat for their one-year-old because everyone knows it’s not safe to fly with a lap child, still felt this was too young to be out amongst the germs of the world. I took the high road and did not tell him that in the event of a fire on the plane, he and his child would probably die while wrestling with their five-point-safety belt while my kids and I would be gliding down the evacuation slide.

 

We returned toSeattlefor two weeks before setting out for 16 days in Germany. Nine weeks and four-years-old are by far the best ages to travel with children. The baby slept and Anabelle was finally at the age that she understands the concept of having to go to bed and is totally susceptible to the effects of Benadryl.

 

We came home for three weeks and then the kids and I headed back to Oklahoma for a family reunion inIowa one weekend and another on Lake Texoma the next. We met my sister on the way up to Iowa and piled the older kids in a car with my parents and the dvd player while us girls traveled virtually whine-free with the baby in the other car. Somewhere on the way back from Germany, Jannik went from sleeping seven hours a night to waking up every two, demanding attention in the form of liquid nutrition. Unfortunately the cohabitation of this trip further fed Jannik’s night-nursing addiction and kicked our sleep training routine back another month.

 

I have a sneaking suspicion that all these travels may have contributed to the feeling of out-of-control spinning the last four months have had. Going 8 ½ weeks without sleeping for more than two hours at a time may have further fueled this downward spiral. With summer now rearing its gorgeous, sunny head in Seattle, we have called upon the name of the almighty Dr. Ferber to anoint our home in deep slumber and dreamy bliss and declared a moratorium on movement for June, July and August. The doors are open and beds are made for a gauntlet of planned guests but our bags are not packed and the suitcases are staying closed for at least the next ninety days – except of course for trips every weekend this month and my itchy booking finger that keeps checking plane ticket prices for the fall.

Balance

22 Jun 2013 | 8 comments »

This whole mother-of-two thing is totally overwhelming. Whoever thought this was a good idea was crazy. The topic of exactly whose idea this was has come up several times over the last four months in our house. Apparently the person with the bright idea no longer lives here. They’re off somewhere else – along with all the laughter and sleep they sucked into their suitcase on their way out the door.

 

In my haze of sleeplessness and dirty laundry I keep hearing the repeated warnings of one of our Bradley friends who, following the birth of their second child, every time his wife was out of the room, would spin cautionary tales about the trials of having two children. His wife was pushing for baby #3, though, so I never took him seriously. Oh how wrong I was…

 

In the black hole of month two post-babypocalypse another friend told me it takes four months. Four months until you feel like you can finally get out the door in a reasonable amount of time and get to the place you need to be roughly around the time you wanted to be there. I think that’s probably about right. We have hit the four month mark and this week we actually showed up somewhere early. Not my pre-baby-two required fifteen minutes early but like, three minutes early. It’s the small victories we now celebrate. The days where we only change clothes twice! The blocks of 2 ½ hours of sleep instead of the usual two! The 15 minute nap stolen in the afternoon before the four year old comes in the room yelling that now is not the time to sleep!

 

In the midst of all this tired chaos, though, the fog clears to the sunshine of a thousand smiles every day. I do not know what this baby is so happy about but apparently he likes being surrounded by people at their tired and hungry worst. Anabelle cried for pretty much the first ten months of life. She was not happy to be out in the world. There was not separation anxiety when I returned to work. I practically threw her at her new caretakers, shouting “see you at 6!” on my way out the door.

 

Jannik, though. Jannik smiles and laughs ALL DAY LONG. I have no idea what he is so happy about but his happiness is probably the only thing that has kept us maintaining some semblance of functioning the last four months. That and a crazy amount of coffee.

Winter

07 May 2013 | 1 comment »

Some crazy version of spring with 80° heat and everyone outside in bikinis has descended upon Seattle so I’m declaring it officially time to say good-bye to winter and that whole pregnancy thing. The child-growing-inside-me-incident knocked me out of all the advantages of living in the Pacific Northwest during the rainy season – specifically, winter sports. Pregnant women sledding, skiing and ice skating are not looked upon favorably by other participants or bystanders and I kind of figured that even if I did manage to expunge my body of its temporary tenant before the snow melted in the mountains, there was no way the wideness that was my pregnant ass was going to fit into my ski pants.

 

Anabelle, however, finally reached that almost optimal winter sport fun age where the joy of speed and snow mostly outweigh the pain involved in being cold. With the exception of the occasional finger freeze or snowball in the face, she took to all the winter fun like a champ. Henric was also tips down into the snow season participating in a weekly downhill ski team through his work and enjoying in the occasional “board” meeting on the mountain with his colleagues.

 

I did eventually get to get into the action a little bit. Jannik made his arrival on February 7th and when my parents came to visit three weeks later, I felt like I felt great enough to give the slopes a good run myself. Much to my surprise, the initial baby-falling-out-weight-dump was enough to allow me to slide my ski pants up, just not enough to let me zip or button them. No matter, the sun was shining and I felt good and, who’s really checking out a 30-something, mother-of-two busting out of her ski pants and unable to zip up her jacket? Apparently someone. Three guys told me they liked my sunglasses. Eat that, 47 pounds of root beer float on my backside.

 

I made it up the mountain and had some nice slow runs before I took a small tumble and was awkwardly reminded by my lady parts that I had had a baby just three weeks earlier and maybe wasn’t supposed to be plummeting down a mountain on six foot long sticks.

Expulsion

03 Apr 2013 | 8 comments »

(This is Part III of III parts about Jannik’s birth. Check out Part I here and Part II here).

 

 
I curse flagrantly in high stress situations. It may be my fatal flaw. I’m really working on it but it’s hard and when you’re sitting on a toilet and you reach your hand down to your vagina and feel a baby’s head, there’s really just one thing to say: Oh Shit.

 
Which I shouted very loudly, followed quickly with “Henric get in here and f*cking catch this baby – it’s coming.” With that, I stood up and took a half step away from the toilet as Henric ran into the bathroom and at 12:04am, February 7th, 2013, a baby literally dropped out of me. I’m serious – no pushing, no people yelling “you can do it” / “breathe” / “one more big push” – he just fell out. Henric and I caught the baby together ala Bradley videos of Latin American squatting natives and I sat down on the bathroom floor with my new baby boy.

 
It was insane.

 
The baby quickly let out two little wails and settled down on my stomach. Jayme was on the phone with the midwife, shouting “the baby’s here! Oh my God, she just had the baby!” and all I could think was “Praise the Lord.” There is no way I could have continued laboring in that intense pain. From first contraction to birth, my labor lasted two hours and four minutes. Having had the stress test that evening, I know I wasn’t having contractions earlier, validating for me, the real intensity of the pain, most likely tied to how rapidly my junk had expanded to get the baby out.

 
Ten minutes later, Sally arrived for the end of the show and let me cut the umbilical cord. We hung out on the bathroom floor until the baby started nursing and within an hour of delivering, I was able to stand up and move into my own bed. Why a homebirth totally rocks: you get to get in your own bed with your own stuff and your own food and never have to leave your house or have all those people bothering you or keeping you up all night. With Jayme and Henric there to take care of everything, I got to spend the next five days in bed, just concentrating on the baby and my body. Totally awesome and definitely why I felt so great so quickly afterwards.

 

 

Sally stayed for several hours after the birth but by 3am, we were all in our respective beds and settling into our new life. Reflection on the whole experience for me is totally surreal. The thing that surprises me the most is how absolutely not scary it was as it was happening. Leading up to the birth, I had plenty of fears and doubts about everything that could go wrong with a homebirth. Henric and I had a lot of conversations about the consequences to our relationship and home life if things went wrong. I watched countless birthing videos and read a lot of negative critiques of homebirthing.

 

In the end, we stood by our decision but still, there were lingering doubts and fears going into childbirth, no matter where we were doing it. When the baby came, though, and the midwife wasn’t there and it was just Henric, Jayme and I, there was never a moment of fear or doubt for me. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. Sitting there on the bathroom floor, in a pool of fluid that had been festering in my stomach for the last nine months, holding my new baby with his umbilical cord still up in my stuff, was totally surreal and amazing.

 
(And anyways, I probably would’ve ended up having a home birth planned or not. Or a baby in a car. Because whose baby just falls out two hours and four minutes after the first contractions begin? And I’m pretty sure neither my car or health insurance policy covers auto detailing…)

 

 
Jannik Matthias Anders Goss Jentz born February 7th, 2013 at 12:04am, 8lbs 5oz, 21 inches long.

 

(The five names thing is a whole other conversation about three day postpartum hormones, my husband’s declaration that this is the last baby, and the result of two very long contrasting lists of possible baby names).

Transition

02 Apr 2013 | 8 comments »

(Part II of Jannik’s three-part birth story. Catch Part I, here)

 

Nashville starts at 10pm and my labor began with the opening credits. Suddenly I felt very uncomfortable and unable to sit down. I pulled out the yoga ball and tried to sit and kneel on it but an overwhelming discomfort was totally messing with my tv viewing. By 10:30, when Jayme announced she was heading to bed (apparently watching Hayden Panettiere sing country-pop was as awesome as I thought), I was pretty sure it was game time.

 

I made it through Nashville but by the time it was over I was in so much pain I couldn’t speak through the contractions. At 11:00, I called my midwife, Sally, to tell her I was in labor. She offered to come right over but I told her to wait, I had only been having contractions for an hour. Yes, things were super painful, much more painful than they had ever been with Anabelle, but still, an hour in and I’m going to have the midwife come? That’s like those people that go to the hospital with Braxton-Hicks. I’m not one of those people – I am a birthing champion.

 

Sally suggested I get in the shower to help relieve some of the pain. The thirty minutes in that shower with hot water beating down on my back was my day of reckoning. Leading up to Anabelle’s birth, we had taken twelve weeks of Bradley birthing classes. I went into that birthing process prepared. Ready for the 48 hour labor. Ready to doubt myself, ready to hit that moment in transition where I would think I couldn’t do this. Through seven hours of labor, though, that moment never came. It was tough, it was painful but I never thought I couldn’t make it and I never doubted myself. We showed up at the hospital and I was already at 10 and pushing.

 

This time, I’m an hour in and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. I called Henric into the shower and told him he needed to pray and lay hands on me. (For real, I told my German Lutheran husband it was time for hand laying). After 30 minutes in the shower, I moved back into our “birthing room” (aka office). For the next 15 minutes I gave myself a pep talk while Henric held a hot water bottle on my lower back and ice pads on my neck. I reminded myself that I ran a marathon. It sucked and lasted a lot longer than an hour and a half. There was rain and wind and chafing. I can do this. Then my other self would say, “There’s an easier way – it’s called a hospital. This is super stupid and painful. I already proved I’m a birthing champion once. There isn’t even a medal for this.”

 

By 11:45 I told Henric it was time to call Sally back and tell her to get here – now. A few minutes later, I headed to the bathroom to sit on the toilet, hoping it would relieve some of the pressure. Henric called Sally and came into the bathroom just as my water broke. When my water broke with Anabelle, I was sitting on our bed, on Henric’s lap. For the following two hours, I sloshed amniotic fluid throughout the house and made such a mess that Henric rushed home from the hospital after the delivery to do a pre-cleaning before the cleaning lady showed up for her regular visit. Breaking over the toilet is so much more convenient.

 

Once my water broke, I felt an immediate release of pressure – physically and emotionally. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. This baby was going to come out. Within a couple of hours, the baby would be born, I thought. I can do this.

 

Henric stepped out of the bathroom and two minutes later, still sitting on the toilet, I felt a sudden pressure in my nether regions. I moved my hand down to my vagina and felt the baby’s head coming out.