Labor Memories

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

April 30th, Caleb
It was definitely a life changing event for us. And a life creating one for Shaw. For me, witnessing that much pain, physical intensity (to the breaking point and beyond) blood, gore and exhaustion, while at the very same time knowing it was welcomed, purposeful, and as natural as can be, was one of the more humanizing events of my life. Shaw is sleeping and not crying much. So far he’s pooping, which is key because it means he’s nursing effectively (even if we can’t tell at the time). Laura made it to the porch today for 2 minutes before back to bed. We’re feeling very supported by family and friends.

May 1st: Laura two days later, worried about a burp, but worried that she’s too worried:  “I don’t want you to choke on your own spit up, is that so wrong?
You laugh, but I’m trying to find in this damn book where it says how to keep him alive at night. Are all my fears unfounded since I can’t find them here?”

April 28th, Caleb: Pre labor snuck up on me, but Laura knew at morning Yoga “something was happening”. Laura: Those lower ab cramps were back with a vengeance by mid-afternoon. Kam stopped into the porch and witnessed me “having a moment.” I still wasn’t ready to get psyched because I knew from Anji that they could go on for another week. I don’t remember the sequence of events well, but I felt like I wasn’t able to get anything done, including make lasagna. I finally gave up after cooking the pasta halfway. Then I went to bed and waited for Caleb to finish making it and bring it to me. But…She felt more strong pushes every hour, then more often, until about 11pm when she was in bed moaning every 5 or 6 minutes with contractions around a minute. I felt during the afternoon that she was just getting ready to maybe go into labor. Then it hit me when she started long, loud hummms and moans and chants of “I’m relaxed, I can do this, I want this, I’m relaxed, i’m open, open, it’s Okay, the baby will come, hummmmm, hummmmmmmm, hummmmmmmmmm”.  We called the Doula, Libby who was here about 11pm.

By 3 am the moaning and loud with contractions that were a minute or two long, every 2 to 3 minutes, for half an hour. I had taken an hour nap 1am-2pm. Libby sat with Laura who liked all fours and then finally in bed on her side. Laura would go limp between contractions and sleep sometimes for 5 minutes. Laura says: “I had heard that the laboring mom should “rest” or even SLEEP between contractions, but thought, “I’ll believe that when I see it.” Well, it truly does happen. I felt like I would put my head down and no sooner would be up again omming. No idea that five whole minutes would have passed.” We were nervous that Libby wasn’t in charge of calling of midwife and instead asking us if we wanted to call her. How would we know? But she was on it when it was time and said to call.

Anji and Lucina arrived at 3am. Laura was full in the ommmmmm zone.

They checked in on my smart phone contraction timer logs. They checked in with Laura, watching her and asking her questions. They disappeared and let Libby and I continue to help Laura. We set up the tub. The shower thing didn’t fit, and I cursed myself for not testing it early, despite being told it would fit the shower. I used the sink, which we had tested, and prayed silently that it would have enough pressure to push water up the stairs. It did! We filled the tub. Laura got in and for 1.5hrs slipped in and out of the world. She ate a little Yogurt, continued her sipping water with a straw, had some honey, and Ensure we had lying about, even though it was strawberry cream flavor and sucked.  Great to have the Ensure! Used it for days after for calories with no chewing, something Laura was insistent on.

Then the bathroom and pushing labor. Lunging in the door frame. Screaming in my face. Crying. No drugs though, not even a peep from her to have any meds or make it stop. She was in a “bring it on” mood mostly. Anji had a mirror and was watching every contraction. Then it was obviously getting long after two hours of all fours on our thick wrestling style stretching mat. We moved into the bedroom. She couldn’t make it on the bed and had a lot of pushes on the edge of the bed, forcing Anji with a mirror almost under the bed. I could see the mirror. It was intense. The head and hair were there, then gone, then there, then gone, then a little more then gone. On the bed, back down, the midwives insisted. Laura had hated this position from the get go, or the idea of it with no leverage and being “squishy” and would not do it, but it worked for a while.  But it seemed to fade then. Then the midwives got noticeably agitated and Anji said “OK Laura, you’ve got to push and get this baby out. I’m going to tell you what to do, and you’re going to do it.” and she would flip Laura on all fours, and then back on her back, and see what worked. The Olive oil came out. The fingers reached inside and pulled. Then a moment and Anji said “episiotomy” to Lucinda. A little sewing scissors came out and snipped. Blood.

9 weeks

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

Basically she’s tired, sleeping, eats every 3 hours and having a hard time working and working out. Common for first trimester. Supposed to get much better energy wise in second and third. I keep my head down and cook her food. She goes to be early, I’ve got time to myself. We’re home birthing and interviewing midwives, which have gotten much better and are not fully certified, can do blood tests and ultrasounds, IVes, and are backed up with docs often, etc. Cheap too, like $3500 flat fee for the entire pre and post visits and help.

First sleep without crying

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

Tonight Shaw went to bed without a single cry. It was 7:40, a little late, and he fussed when we tried to change his diaper. Laura nursed him instead, and then changed him and put on his Jammie’s. She handed him off to me in the darkened bedroom and I played with him gently for a while. A little tummy time, a little tug on Hands, a little lying about. Then over to the sheepskin on the cosleep platform. More gentle joshing, slower, and singing, message, with my face very close and hand on his chest, letting him grab my fingers until he faded away – a miracle,

Peaks lsland, ME. Sandy beach

Peaks Island, ME. Off season family vacation in rented house

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning, Travel Reports
Peaks island, me. View of Cushing island from Whitehead lodge on Whitehead street.

Peaks island, me. View of Cushing island from Whitehead lodge on Whitehead street.

More to come. But so far, Peaks island off of Portland, Maine is a really wonderful family vacation, especially off season. Laura, Baby Shaw and I rented Whitehead Lodge and invited both our granparent’s and friends and family to join us. I grew up 30 miles south in Kennebunkport and left for college in 1984. My mother left in 1991. We both miss the soul soothing sounds, smells, bracing breeze, freeing views of the rocky Maine coast.

I’d never been to Peaks island, a 20 minute ferry ride off of the cool little city of 70,000 that is Portland, ME.  Peaks island isn’t teaming with 5000+ tourists as it does during prime time summer. The roughly 1200 locals are chilled out. The mornings and evenings are cool, the days mid-70s and mostly sunny.

The water is some of the warmest of the summer, with a surface temp in the mid-60s. We’ve been swimming three times on Sandy Beach, which has been mostly empty. A local demystified ocean temps for us one day. He said beach water temps are highest when the wind is blowing the sun warmed surface water towards the beach. Wind blowing out to sea brings up cold water from the bottom.

MORE PHOTOS: Public photos are populating on Facebook over the next few days.

Casco Bay Ferry ride to Peaks island

Shaw's first ferry ride in Portland, ME.

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning
Casco Bay Ferry ride to Peaks island

Casco Bay Ferry ride to Peaks island

Shaw was a little confused and concerned as the ground floated around him in waves of water. The wind was very strong from recent southern huge storms. He was quiet, staring at me for comfort and to see if it was OK. We made it to Peaks Island with no freakouts. We had made Casco Bay Ferry with 15 minutes to spare.

Brattleboro Amtrack Station with train approaching

Wizzing Forest, doctor visit, weight, New York City train

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

(By Laura) Forested New England whizzes by. The babe sleeps on my right arm. The wifi eludes me. Near panic ebbs into reflection. Meditation, perhaps sleep.

An entire bag of trail mix has only 360 calories. I will finish it by New York. Four-and-a-half hours to go.

August 28: The cherub weighs 19 pounds 9 ounces today, head circumference 17 3/4 inches, 25 inches long. If he weighed 8’8″ after a week, 16 weeks since then, 11’1″/16=

Brattleboro Amtrack Station with train approaching

Brattleboro Amtrack Station with train approaching

Put 'em down.

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

Laura Goldblatt

3:13 PM (1 hour ago)

to me
I finally decided to just put him down when he was tired-fussy, shushed and rubbed his legs, and timed it. Five minutes to calm finger-sucking, ten to slumber. Wow! It was a leap of faith but I took it and feel like a million bucks. Thanks for setting such a fine example for me. You are a great dad!

Shucks, now I am all teary. I admire your calm persistence. Our boy is a lucky one, and I am a lucky woman.
Caleb Clark

3:35 PM (1 hour ago)

to Laura
thx, i’m a little teary too. You’re a fantastic mom.

Doin' the butt

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

Inspired by his buddy Lucy, no doubt, Shaw is taking a new step toward the world of self-ambulation: the butt, or bootie wiggle, whichever you prefer. This involves, first, a roll from back to belly. Then, arms still trapped under the bulk of body, knees splayed out behind, the toes reach toward the shoulders. Torso and face planted, the legs pump and pump even propelling the little man forward a few millimeters. Huzzah!

The dramatic twists of a rhythm

Baby Shaw's Lessons Learning

(By Laura)

You would never know it from the angelic cherub peacefully beside me, but we are hopefully at the tail end of a two-week shift that has caused me angst, given babyShaw a hoarse throat, and catapulted Caleb into the bedtime limelight. My memory of how it began is fading, but suffice it to say that the past week and a half have involved a lot of sucking frenetically, writhing in arms, protracted – by our high standards – fussy spells, and some all-out wailing. Me sitting on the stairs, hair up on the back of my neck, starting and then stopping myself from dashing up and seizing the babe from the…loving care of his father. It is HARD to let go. I remember myself saying how I enjoyed sweetly rocking the babe to slumber, while papa reasoned that he might go down just as well laying in his bed with company beside him. No, I said, I’d rather have him be held than not. But before the smug satisfaction and pride in my gentle, effective mothering had worn off, curveballs started flying at our little family. What must be 2.5 pounds and several weeks later I am taking the other tack, if only because most contact seems to have become distracting stimulation rather than soothing ritual. Sleeps comes within seconds when I pop him in the carrier…but then it’s my body on the line, growing achy, weary, and antsy as I sway him through sleep squirms. When I look beyond my responses to a practical dilemma, I see once again the other subtext, that of co-parenting, learning to listen with my primal instincts to my child, my ears to my husband, and my heart to both.