Friday, April 27, 2012

The EQ

So, naming a child is a bit of a daunting task.
But a fun one.

I admit, I'm the kind of girl who thought about the eventual "what ifs" of baby naming long before there was ever even a possibility for a baby. At one time I had the idea to name a son Orion Xavier. Yeah... his initials would have been OX. I got over that.

Anyway, when we discovered that "we" would soon mean "me & J & a BABY" I started thinking of names pretty much immediately. J & I had some ideas. Such as, if the baby were a boy, we wanted to name him after our fathers. We'd use J's dad's middle name for the middle name, and find a G name to honor my father whose initials are GW, well, GWB technically, but the point is that our last name starts with  W, so we would be making another little GW. So there's that. We settled on G names pretty quickly. By like week 9 or some such. Had this baby been a boy, the naming thing would have been in the bag.

So of course the ultrasound tech says "girl." Kind of just like that too. "I'm going to say girl." Her exact words. You can understand then why I kept saying, "so they say" whenever we would reveal the baby's sex. "A girl, so they tell me." All the way up until they pulled her out. But I digress.

Girls names were much harder for J & I to agree on. We both liked the same type of names, but couldn't seem to find one name that we both really liked. I had the idea pretty early on that I wanted to use "Ella" as a middle name. It was my great-grandmother's middle name. Rose Ella. Pretty. Of course, as my grandpa says, because she was from Oklahoma, it was really "Rose Eller" but that's not really the point. Of course, my middle name is my mother's middle name which in turn was given to her to honor her grandmothers--that whole first initial thing. So, the family connection there really appealed to me. This is also why we liked the name Quinn, for either a boy or a girl. It's J's grandmother's maiden name. Well, O'Quinn. Or oQuin. Or something. I think the story goes that there are 7 or 9 siblings of that generation and none of them spell their last name the same. The presence or absence of an "O" (and the subsequent capitalization of it), an apostrophe and a second "n" are all contested. Regardless, we with with the "O'"-less-double"n" version.

The problem was finding any name that sounded good with "Ella" as a middle name. Names that end in "a" just don't flow right. Names that end in "n" wind up sounding like medicine or bacteria.

We decided to try Ella as a first name, but I wasn't really happy with the nickname-feel of it. I guess I tend to like more formal-sounding names. Also Ella is pretty common and while I don't mind names that are easy to recognize, spell and pronounce, I do also like names that are a little more... unusual. Even if that's because they're more classic and have fallen out of favor. Hence, Eleanor. Old-fashioned, classic, pretty, keeps the idea of Ella and also Ellen (my middle name), and even a little bit of a hint towards my grandmother's middle name, Nyra.

But we still weren't convinced, and couldn't decide on a middle name, so we narrowed our choices down to 3 names that we both liked and decided that we'd wait until we saw the wee Freckle with our own eyes before deciding upon her name. This drove many of my friends & family a wee bit crazy, but it was the right decision. It's also the reason for this:

One look at her (even when she was periwinkle blue and a tiny bit cone-headed) and we knew. She was Eleanor. Will she stay Eleanor? Will she become Ella as she grows? Will we continue to call her Freckle? Dunno. Right now, she remains The Squnchler.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Weeks

Tiny feet with tiny socks
Two weeks ago it was Easter. Four generations of my family sat together in our hospital room and oogled this tiny baby in a dress her cousin had worn to my wedding and booties that I wore when I was her size.

It's been two weeks and...I don't even know. The days are a blur. The nights are a blur. Eleanor is doing all three of her duties with gusto. Eat. Sleep. Poop. I feel like that's all I've done too. My mom has been staying with me which is the only reason I've been able to shower, the only reason there is clean laundry, clean dishes, food in the fridge and the animals haven't revolted. She goes home tomorrow. I'm terrified. Thankfully J starts his 2 weeks of paternity leave tomorrow, so I won't be all alone just yet.

Of course, the end of those 2 weeks is the beginning of his first week long international business trip. He's going to Canada to learn how to do the job he just got promoted to. Bad grammar, but I can't think well enough to fix it. Anyway, I'll be flying solo for the first time ever with my baby, one month old. Yikes. Thankfully, "solo" actually means "with lots of help from my friends & family" so I'm not too worried. Worried, yes, because keeping a tiny person alive is a daunting task, but you know... there's help and there's hope.

But enough about me. You're just here for baby pictures. Eleanor is doing really well. Gaining weight and doing...newborn stuff. I take a million pictures a day of her sleeping. I'm not very good at sleeping when she's sleeping yet. Sometimes she gets her night/day thing mixed up and she's actually making tears when she cries. That's not fair. I thought I had more time before the real tears.

Cabbage Patch face
We call her "The Squnchler" most of the time, as she rarely unfolds herself*. I only really use her name when talking about her, and even then, I think about her as "the baby." She's beautiful and I can't stop staring at her. I can't connect this squishy, mostly sweet-smelling little person I spend my day holding with the baby I carried on the inside for 273 days. I also can't quite grasp that I'm a mom.

I guess the bottom line is that everything is normal. Eleanor is growing. I'm able to feed her from my person. I'm also surprised at how tiny she is. I know she's almost 9 lbs now, but all her clothes just hang off of her. Newborn stuff is baggy. 0-3 months is all long in the arms & dangly in the legs. She's only 20" long, and at her check up she was 50% for both height & weight, which makes her roundly average, but...she's tiny.

A rare moment of un-squnching
J & I spend time dividing up her parts. She looks remarkably like me as a baby. She has my fingers, or at least fingernails, complete with the cuticles that peel & snag on everything. She has light brown/dark blonde hair that looks vaguely reddish in the light, but not at all like my hair when I was a carrot-topped baby. Her eyes are the same color as J's, but that could just be because they're that newborn shade of blue grey. She's just the tiniest bit tongue-tied (which thankfully hasn't affected her ability to latch) and that she gets from her dad. Also, potentially his chin, though it's hard to tell with those cheeks in the way. Those cheeks she gets from me.

And this little whirl? No idea where that comes from
*Which is hilarious, since she sent most of her time in the inside insisting that the fetal position was for chumps.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Awesome Saturday

I have lots of things I want to tell you about Eleanor. I want to tell you all about her name and why we picked it. I want to tell you about her funny faces and smooshy cheeks. And I will. I'll get around to it, but after a week, I still have some thoughts rattling around my brain about her birth, some stuff I've been trying to put into words.

So, I went into labor on Good Friday. At some point in the evening, I was sitting in the room, on drugs, having contractions, but chatting with my folks, my brother, his wife and my husband. We were talking about Good Friday and the importance of it, and pre-conceived notions that we have about Christ and Christianity from popular culture versus what the Bible actually says. It was interesting conversation to be having during labor.

I really wanted to have my baby on Friday. I really wanted to have her "naturally", although in retrospect, I think what I really wanted was to be given the opportunity to try, which I had, and that's good. I knew at 10pm that this was going to be a Saturday baby, which was ok, though again, not what I wanted.

Ok, but the point that I've been trying to distill is that Friday was a hard day. Physically, it was draining. Emotionally, it was draining. Along the way from "hey, I think that's a contraction" to "did my water just break" to the eventual trip to the O.R., there were some hard decisions that had to be made. The path that I was on wasn't the one I wanted. I had lots of time in those 23 hours to pray that things would go differently. They didn't. I had to face down some of my biggest fears (as far as birth is concerned), and while I am not trying to say that my suffering was in any way as great or as meaningful as Christ's, in light of it being Good Friday, I was very mindful of the fact that even though things weren't going the way I wanted, I was still in God's hands. He wasn't going to let me go or abandon me.

It made Sunday just that much sweeter. While *the* Good Friday changed my life forever, this Good Friday did too. It was a hard day, but I emerged on the other side changed. I'm a mother now. We had an awesome Saturday. I got to celebrate Easter with my parents, grandparents, and all my nieces and nephews. It was an explosion of life, of celebrating life, and at the heart, that's what Easter is about--celebrating the gift of life, eternal life.

Also, I got to put my baby in a basket. So, there's that! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

If everything goes well

"If everything goes well..."

I found myself saying/typing that quite a bit on Friday. So here's the story of how The Freckle, our internal baby, became Eleanor Quinn, our external baby. First, the pictures, because that's the important part, right?

8 lbs 7 oz, 20" long
The short version is I went into labor early Friday morning and she was born early Saturday morning, roughly 23 hours later. And now, the long version of what happened.

So, Thursday I took some suggestions from the Internet and drank some castor oil. Mixed in Diet Coke. I also had 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea.  I told J that I'd done some "kickstart your own labor from the comfort of your own home" stuff and if everything goes well we might have a baby on Friday. Did either of those things actually tip the scale so I could go into labor? I will never know, but there's my loose, anecdotal evidence.

Because go into labor I did. I had been worried for most of the third trimester that I would be completely clueless about going in to labor, I wouldn't recognize contractions or know when my water broke. Turns out there was no reason to worry. I had classic "monthly cramps" style contractions at first, which of course didn't stop me from second guessing myself. Neither did it stop me from taking a shower, just in case, you know? I wanted to start fresh. Then I went to bed for a couple of hours, and when I got up for my typical mid-night bathroom break, I noticed that the light was still on in the living room. Surely my husband, who knew that he would be either going to work at the relatively-wee hours of the morning as per usual or with me to the hospital, wouldn't still be awake at 2:30 in the morning? Oh, surely he was. He curled up on the couch and was asleep 15 minutes later just as I was Googling "how do I know if my water has broken*?" In this case, Dr. Google was very helpful and informative. I started timing contractions, watched an episode of Grimm, french braided my hair, changed clothes and put on some make-up. By then, I'd reached the magical number of contractions between 3-5 minutes apart for an hour. So I woke J up to tell him I was going to call the doctor and he should get ready to go. We left the house at about 5:45 and were admitted to Labor & Delivery shortly after 6 am on Friday, April 6th where, if everything goes well, we would have a baby before the day was done.

Because my water had in fact broken all on its own, the proverbial clock was ticking, so after determining that the contractions were the right amount of time apart, they switched me to a different kind of monitor to see how strong the contractions were. I had felt that they were only mild up to that point. Nothing I couldn't get through with just a little bit of focus and some breathing. Well, the new fancy monitor confirmed that they were consistent, but not strong enough to get the job done. So, the "as naturally as possible" portion of our birth plan now included Pitocin to keep the ball rolling. At 7 am, I started at a dose of 2 of whatever measurement Pitocin comes in these days.

After 3 hours, I was up to a dose of 8 units and I was tired. I wasn't handling the stronger contractions as well, but I was hopeful that I was at least moving things along. When the nurse checked, she told me I'd made minimal progress. Progress enough to keep going, but they were going to need to up the dosage, and it was looking to be a long day--probably 8 more hours if everything goes well. The decision to get an epidural was a hard one for me, but it was the right decision to make. As the day progressed, that became more and more evident. So, with drugs keeping me from feeling the increasingly stronger and more violent contractions, the day continued. Because I wasn't in pain, I didn't mind having some visitors. It was a nice distraction from the fact that I was doing some of the hardest sitting on my butt that I've ever done in my life.

By 5pm, I'd made it to the halfway mark. Everything looked good and Dr. H** said that if everything goes well I should be able to move on to the pushing phase by 10pm and we'd have a baby before midnight.

Not to spoil the surprise, but everything did not go well. Nothing really went wrong, but some things just didn't work out the way we hoped. Even though the contractions stayed strong, and Freckle's heart rate stayed in the acceptable zone, and my blood pressure was still awesome and my temperature was steady, progress slowed down. Freckle just wasn't moving down. I stayed on track for the first two hours, slowed down to half speed the next two hours, and inched along for an hour after that. By midnight, I'd made no progress at all in 2 hours. I was still 2 cm away from being able to push. I'd been having contractions for almost 22 hours. I was tired and discouraged.

That's when we (J & I) had the hard conversation with Dr. H. She told us we could keep trying. She was confident that both the baby & I were handling things well enough to keep going and even though we were approaching 24 hrs since my water had broken, there was no sign of infection so she would be perfectly willing to let us keep trying. She was encouraging and supportive, but she was also honest. She said that in her opinion all the waiting wasn't going to get us any closer to a baby. She recommended a c-section.

J told me later that when she said it my face sort of crumpled. I will admit that it was my absolute least favorite option for having a baby. It still fell within our "as naturally as possible" plan, because sometimes intervention is what makes birth possible, but it was low on the totem pole. Not only that, but c-section after a long labor was somehow worse. All that work, and still a surgery. Yet, when Dr. H checked me at midnight, I knew. I had held on to hope all the way until the end. I got sick to my stomach right before that last check, and I said "That's a good sign, right?" remembering something from our Lamaze class, and Dr. H was very positive about it (maybe the only time anyone can feel positively about puke). She confirmed that it was often a sign that the pushing part was very near. Then she started to check and I just knew. I knew before she looked down and said a bad word, then excused herself for swearing, which, honestly, wasn't even a bother to me. It sort of made me feel like she really was on my team, you know? She wanted things to go well just as much as I did.

It didn't take long for J & I to decide to go ahead and have the surgery. At that moment, it felt right. Not what we wanted, not what we'd "planned" or hoped, but right. Then everything was a blur of J getting handed a bag of paper scrubs & being wheeled into the O.R. (where "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" by U2 was playing--a good sign I thought. An appropriate song by one of my favorite bands). There was more anesthesia and I fell asleep while they finished doing whatever it is they needed to do before the surgery began. J came in, looking dapper in his blue scrubs. I think I told him he was pretty when he sat down next to me. I was a little out of it.

Then, just a few minutes later, Dr. H is saying, "Oh my God, she's HUGE!" I was suddenly worried that all estimates had been off and instead of an 8-8 1/2 lb baby we were well into what I call "Welch territory" where babies don't come any smaller than 9 lbs. Jeremy went to go watch our little girl get cleaned up while I lay on the table feeling them move stuff around and finish things up. He did come back to tell me that she was 8lb 7oz, which wasn't nearly big enough to qualify as "huge" in my head, but you know, it's pound larger than the average newborn. I'm still not sure what the official reason for the "failure to progress" was, even after talking to the doctor. She never really dropped far enough to move things along. She was possibly turned the wrong way. Her head was very large and may have been too big for my pelvis. Honestly, once the decision to do it was made, the "why" mattered a lot less to me.

At some point, Dr. H mentioned to the other doctor, or a nurse, or someone (other than me) that her brother (I think, maybe husband?) worked in the "Wine & Spirits business." So of course, then I had to butt in to tell them that my brother was a Sommelier and we got to talking about what kind of wine we liked best, and I may or may not have said that I would gladly shank a nun for a glass of shiraz.

The rest of the story is pretty anti-climactic. Jeremy went with the baby, who we were both pretty sure was going to be Eleanor, to the nursery but wanted to get a good look at her once she was clean and not screaming at the top of her lungs. I got stitched up and taken to recovery where I started to shake as some stupid side effect of the anesthesia. They gave me Demerol to stop the shaking, which made me loopy and then sleepy. When I woke up, we moved up to our postpartum room and I got to meet my little girl. Ok, so that only sounds anti-climactic when you write it. It was pretty much the best part of my day.

I'll tell you all about her, but first, I'm going to go nap.

*the grammatical phrasing of that stumped me for a while. I'm going to blame lack of sleep, ok?
**Not my usual doctor because even though it was a Friday, and thus a normal business day, it was in fact Good Friday, which also happens to be the first day of Passover, so my doctor was out of the office to spend time with her family. No big deal, the doctor-on-call was really great too. Actually, I've now met 3 of the 4 doctors in the practice (an all lady doctor practice too, by the by) and liked them all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


40 weeks! It's my due date! I'm blogging on my phone in the doctor's waiting room. Here's what I look like now & my countdown jar looks...empty. Because it is.
the "official" shirt
getting distracted by the dog barking at who knows what, but look, color coordination!
no more M&Ms
So far, there have been no signs that Freckle is thinking of heading to the exit, but thanks to my Internet ladies I a) was prepared for her to be late (once we got past the "possibly going to induce you @ 39 weeks" thing), 2) have heard lots of stories of "there were no signs of progress & then surprise! Labor!" and D) that should I have to be induced, it doesn't have to be horrible, even with a first-timer. That makes this little glitter hippie happy. (UPDATE: after my appointment there are slight signs that Freckle is heading towards the exit. Hooray! Keep praying she keeps moving that way in a timely manner. I still have hopes for putting this baby in an Easter basket. If I don't, those of you with wee babes must do it for me so I can live vicariously through you!)

Speaking of glitter hippieness, here's an update on some of my current projects.

Oil Cleansing Method: I love it. At first, I just liked it. It seemed like more work than I was used too and I was still having some dry patches on my cheeks & nose. That kinda boggled my mind. I'm rubbing oil on my face & my skin is dry? But then I actually took a leap of faith, trusted Erica & rubbed some oil in AND LEFT IT THERE. It was like a miracle! No more dry spots. No flaky nose! I could powder my nose again without looking like a leper. And here's my favorite part of the whole thing: it feels good! I love rubbing the oil in. I love the hot towel part. Someday, I want to find a spa that does full oil baths. I'm picturing a giant vat of oil with a slide. Not a twisty/splashing type slide, but I can imagine trying to walk down steps or something in a giant vat of oil. Anyway, there would be oil, and then someone could scrape it (and all my dead skin) off.

I did finally make my own laundry detergent. I went with the liquid soap recipe my sister-in-law uses because I'm used to liquid soap and didn't want to have to worry about melting the powder stuff in hot water first, since right now we wash everything in cold water and I've heard that can be a problem sometimes.

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar - I used Ivory, because that's what we had at the house
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax
- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Anyway, I made it. It was super easy, except for the part where I sacrificed some knuckle skin to the grater because we don't have a food processor to do that part for me. I've only used it on a load of linens so far, so I don't have much to report other than that it is super fun to stick my arms into the 5 gallon bucket to stir things up (it settles into goo & water when it sits). Once I can fill an empty laundry detergent bottle, I can just shake the bottle, but for the trial run, I used it out of the bucket. Anyway, the texture is fun.

I'm almost out of shampoo, so I'll hopefully be starting the it's-not-a-volcano method of hair cleaning soon.

I have 2 bread recipes I want to try out too. Because baking bread just sounds wholesome and wonderful. Plus, I love bread!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunshine Nursery

So, back when we bought this house, I decided that I wanted the extra bedroom to be yellow. I'm not really much of a yellow person, but I wanted a sunshine room--the antidote to my husband's need for a cave-like existence. So I painted one room a pretty, creamy yellow and trimmed it in marigold.

That room is now "the nursery" which is still pretty weird for me to say. Anyway, it's not too fancy. We don't have a crib set up yet, since my niece is still using it, and our cradle is still in the "some assembly required" stage (did I mention that my dad is making it? Like, from scratch? Because he is. And it's beautiful. Well, the wood pieces are beautiful. As soon as it's put together, I'll show you pictures), but here's what we've got going so far, for those of you who care about such things.
This is the view over the changing table. I had way too much fun putting up these little decals
The giraffe light switch face plate

Hippo & Giraffe

This is the corner where the glider sits, upon which is sitting my nursing pillow, a quilt from KRho's mom (made with squares from some of KRho's old sheets/curtains/pajamas from when she was a baby) and a beautiful Victorian picture from our dear friends keeping watch over the spot

The Elephant night-light (and the fabulous edge of the lovely curtains)

This picture frame from Freckle's Aunt B is just waiting for her first photo. Also, for us to give her a name, so Aunt B can go buy the rest of the letters to go with the W.

the unexciting rug, but you know, it's part of the room

For Valentine's Day, J's office had a "make a valentine" contest, and so I put my scrapbooking skills to use.

This quote actually came from a page from Freckle's baby scrapbook. The page was lovingly made by her Aunt B as part of my shower gift. 

So, there you have it. That's what we've got so far!
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