Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Birth of Lucia Stellamaris Part 1

...Or That Time We Had a Baby By Costco

3 Days Old 

Hello everyone! After over a year of hiatus, I'm back! I hope to blog more regularly now. 
A lot has happened in the time since my last post. We built a tiny house, we moved onto a goat farm, my husband Cosmo started RCIA, we started the process of getting Peter some dentures, Cosmo took on a whole new profession and job, and we had a baby! I'll write more about those other things in the days to it's all about Lucia. 

She's All Smiles

Someday I'll write up Peter and Rosie's full birth stories, but in brief they were both straightforward homebirths. Rosie was born really really fast though, so we knew that was a possibility for baby #3. For those who don't know, we live on a beautiful little island in the PNW. It's a 20 minute (or so) ride to Seattle. Ideally there would be a midwife on the island, but right now we don't have a practicing one. I spent weeks making phone calls to midwives in the whole Seattle area and I couldn't find one who was able to do a homebirth ON our island at the time of her due date, who also took our insurance. We would have to plan an off island delivery. 

I also was fretting about postpartum. I had MAJOR difficulties breastfeeding Peter - and the breastfeeding difficulties continued in different forms for the entire first year of his life. I'm not a quitter, so I stuck with it. But I encountered literally EVERY breastfeeding problem in the book. I was relieved that when Rosie came along, the major problems only lasted 2 weeks. I did get mastitis monthly that first year of her life, but that was a walk in the park compared to what I went through with Peter. I had an incredible lactation consultant who helped Peter learn to latch and saved my supply from dropping (and then later helped us with oversupply issues, thrush, mastitis, etc., etc.), but she was unavailable when Rosie was born. We had to go off island to get the help we needed and that was expensive and difficult. I firmly believe that women who have trouble breastfeeding need to be able to rest in their bed, with their baby, skin to skin, and have the help come to them. Spending extended time away from home, traveling to appointments, is not ideal. But it was our only way of getting help, and thankfully the major issues resolved so much quicker with Rosie. 

Since we already knew that we were going to have an off island delivery, I decided to go with the midwife group at our local hospital. My choice was mostly based on the fact that I would get to stay at the hospital for a day or two and get help from their lactation nurses who work on call 24/7. I also heard that the food was excellent. 

The only big concern was getting to the hospital before having the baby. Because Rosie was born so quickly, we knew that it could happen again. Lucia tried to come too early, but thankfully we were able to stop preterm labor. We are so thankful for our community who rallied together and helped us when I was on bed-rest. Finally when I reached the week when it was safe to go off bed-rest, I entered into weeks of confusing/painful prodromal labor. The contractions would take a pattern and get closer together and then stop. It was extra stressful because I knew we had to get going as soon as possible if it was the real deal. 

For my 39 week check up, the grandparents came over early in the morning to watch the kids, so that Cosmo and I could go to it alone. I was really hoping that I would go into labor while we were over there. The midwife checked me and said I was at a 5 and she told me she thought it as gong to be that day. But, I wasn't actually in labor yet. We stayed in the city a couple extra hours to try and encourage things along. We went to Costco, took a brisk walk in a park, and got spicy Thai food. It was the first "date" we've had in a long time (since having kids?!). It was delightful, but true labor wasn't starting, and we felt that we had to get back to our kids. We didn't know when it was going to actually start, and we didn't want to exhaust our childcare before we actually needed them. We got home and I took a nap with Rosie. Little did we know that this would be the last baby bump nap we would take. 

 Baby Bumps Make Excellent Pillows

Cosmo and I both grew up on the island and we've never known there to be as many back-to-back ferry problems as there were this year. Additionally the ferry system decided to make new rules for women in labor, to try and avoid babies being born on the boat. Because of all that, we had different plans for different circumstances. I decided it would be a good idea to take a vigorous forest walk that late afternoon, because if labor could start before the middle of the night (when there are bigger gaps between boats), that would be good. So we went...

After the walk we stopped for some groceries at our island store. Cosmo had just gone in when the first REAL contraction hit. I waited. Eight minutes later another big one. I called Cosmo and he ran back. We dropped the kids off at our house, had our neighbor wait with them until the grandparents could come back, and raced to the boat. We got in line at 6:25 for a 6:35 boat. Everything was going as planned. Contractions were staying steady at about eight minutes apart. We got on the boat and my water broke. I knew things would probably start to speed up, but at this point we still had time to get to the hospital. Then, right when the boat was due to depart, the captain got on the intercom and announced "We don't have enough crew to sail the vessel, so there will be a ten minute delay".  Ten minutes later he said it again. Then ten minutes after that he said it AGAIN. It was 40 minutes before we finally set sail. 

Just, you know, sitting at the dock, trying to not have a baby.

I looked at Cosmo and said, "we are not going to make it to the hospital". 

To be continued... 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Every Day

If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these (daily tasks) are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!” 

― Charlotte M. Mason 

My secret to a (mostly) level headed almost 3 year old...
A daily 3 mile forest jog (he runs) with frequent stops to whack foliage with sticks, look at tracks, climb trees, sample wild edible plants, and practice his bird calls. The 10 month old also enjoys the tradition very much. Rain or shine.

Toddler on the run! 

Riding the forest motorcycle. Rosie's in a sidecar. 

Hard to play in a fleece suit, but it keeps her toasty.


The root ball which we fondly call "the meatball" for fun. 

Whacking the leaves with a big stick. Because it's apparently what 3 year old boys need to do. 

This is a great example of why I keep to a daily schedule. Not to make my life overwhelming, dull, or task oriented. Exactly the opposite. It helps me to remember to include everything. The play and the work. A balance. We often are visiting with friends, which totally mixes up the routine (no big deal!). My schedule keeps me sane and generally happy while I'm solo. This is roughly what my day looks like on a weekday:

3:00am - Up with baby. Prayer (chaplet of divine mercy)
6:00am - Awake. Morning prayer (as a family). Breakfast. Cosmo leaves for work. Then I do household chores (with plenty of interruptions from kids).
9:00 - I stop household chores. Pray mid morning prayer. Put dinner in the slow cooker.
Daily walk. Forest play. I always bring my knitting because I can knit while Peter climbs his favorite climbing tree. We like to make up stories as we walk. I like to incorporate landmarks we see along the trail for awareness of surroundings. Once a week or so we walk to the playground instead.
12:00 - Noon prayer (aloud with kids). Lunch. Quick tidy.
Then we do crafts, play games, walk to the library, or something like that. I rotate our afternoon project craft every day. It changes frequently, but here's an example:
Monday - puzzles
Tuesday - electronic circuits or a cooking project
Wednesday - ramps and pulleys
Thursday - painting
Friday - fiber craft or beeswax
2-3ish  - Rest time. Peter often gets a little screen time while Rosie naps (because we live in a tiny one room hovel - only way to keep it quiet enough)
3:00 - Afternoon prayer. Then read aloud tea! I make tea and snacks and read until dinner time. If Rosie is being super cantankerous we listen to an audio book and do art.
6:00 - Cosmo is home from work. Dinner. Then family time! I really try and embrace the leisure of the evening. I knit, read, play with the kids. I don't tidy. Peter helps put the toys away before bed. Family Rosary (at least we try). Cosmo puts Peter to sleep around 8. Rosie stays up and is usually a handful. So I tend to her and either watch some netflix or read my book. I try and pray Compline before bed, but that only happens a few times a week. I usually fall asleep right when Rosie finally does around 9:30-10:00.

On weekends, everything is different. Saturdays are different every week. Some Saturdays Como works, so it ends up looking like a week day (with more screen time for Peter). Sundays we spend the morning at Church and then make a point to have leisure time and rest.


Read aloud tea.

Classic Ergo nap. Successful transfer. 

Winter walk. 

Circuits! The light turned on!

Ready for a Christmas party. 

Singing in Epiphany. 


Nightly chaplet of divine mercy. 

Dinner. Usually I do it in the slow cooker so I don't need to cook in the evening. 

A happy baby.  

She's way more excited about my morning dishes than I am. 

Rosary before bed. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Last Week of Advent

"Today the darkness begins to grow shorter and the light to lengthen, as the hours of night become fewer.... Realize that the true light is now here and, through the rays of the gospel, 
is illumining the whole earth."
-Gregory of Nyssa

I'm one of the seemingly few people who loves the cold and dark days of winter. This is my favorite time of year. Here in the Puget Sound it's usually gray and rainy for weeks and weeks and honestly I'd be happy if it was gray and rainy for the whole year. So I really try and soak it up! 
My son Peter was born with HED (Hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia). He cannot sweat, so we really try and enjoy these cooler days with as much outside time as possible. When everyone else is starting to go outdoors in the summer, we seek shelter inside and actually (by necessity) end up watching way more movies/netflix than we would ever do in the fall/winter/spring. 

This Advent I've spent more time than usual inside. I cleaned up and gave away a lot of our things. It was great, but I totally noticed a difference in my kids (and my) mood. It was exasperated by the fact that I was cleaning and not as present with my kids. I turned to screens more than I should have and the repercussions of that were very hard. Everyone was getting crankier and crankier. Eventually I realized that the cleaning must stop. My attention turned back to our normal schedule. I turned off all screens for 3 days to reset the family. Suddenly the peace and anticipation of the season was felt. 

I'm glad the cleaning happened, but in the future I will have to take a slower approach. 

I love cleaning and my preferred approach is intense. In the past I would empty every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen at once, along with the fridge, and then deep clean the oven, then clean the cupboards, then put everything away again neat and tidy. Obviously, that would never work with a 2 year old and a baby, but I guess I had to try a few times to believe it. Actually, I'm embarrassed to say that I'm so stuck in my old habits, I might have to try a few more times before I'm absolutely certain. 

One of the biggest things for me to let go of as a parent is a contently tidy house. I also value creative play. So I compromise by rotating the available toys, making sure every single thing has a place to be put away, and then (while silently praying about 30,000 Hail Mary's) I relax. 

Peter enjoys stringing yarn all over the house. 

Peter actually loves putting things away with me. That's where everything having a place to be put away really helps. He knows where everything goes, so he's relaxed and happy to help. 

I'm thankful that the second half of our Advent reflected the joyful expectation that this season offers. 

Our daily walk to the forest. Binoculars for bird watching.

Peter and his uncle Arlen (my brother, who's only 9 months older) "fixing" the tractor.


On the carousel at Zoo Lights. 

Rosie has really started to enjoy reading books! <3

One of her favorites, she pulls it of the shelf and brings it to me!

Peter in a soothing lavender bath. Rosie laughing at the splashing.

Nanna and Papa got us a glowing stomp rocket. It's just about the best thing ever.

 Stringing popcorn and cranberries.

Peter telling Rosie that the cranberries are "bleck".
Eventually we had to move to the table, babies and cranberries-popcorn-sharp needles-fishing line don't mix.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Story Time Saturday - Our Favorite Winter Books

The weekly installment of (some of) what we're reading this week 

"The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air."
-John Greenleaf Whittier

The shortest day of the year is almost upon us! I can hardly believe winter solstice has come around again. My husband and I got married on winter solstice, so it's a sweet day for the family. 
It seemed a little too close to Christmas for me to do a post about our favorite Christmas books, so instead I'm going to list our absolute favorite winter books to read while the nights are long - all snugged up on the couch. 

1. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader. 
The illustrations are so beautiful. Great story about woodland animals getting ready for winter.

2. Winter  by Gerda Muller. 
This is our all time favorite winter board book. Gerda Muller's illustrations are so detailed and fun for people of all ages to look at. This book doesn't have words, but beautiful images of a family enjoying winter activities together. We enjoy making up little stories about the family or just looking at the pictures. Gerda Muller has made one for each season and they are all great.

3. The Three Snow Bears By Jan Brett 
Most of Jan Brett's books are winter themed, but I'm listing Peter's all time favorite. A retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Snow Bears tells the story of Aloo-ki who comes across an igloo while out with her sled dogs. The igloo belongs to three polar bears, who left while their breakfast cools. Like all of Jan Brett's books, the illustrations are stunning.

4. Bear Snores On  By Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman 
A fun story about a bear hibernating in his cave totally oblivious to the party the other animals are having around him. Eventually he wakes and joins in the fun. Peter loves to retell this story with his stuffed animals. It's a great introduction to the concept of hibernation.

5. The Snowy Day By Ezra Jack Keats
I'm sure everyone is familiar with this one, but I just couldn't leave it out. It was one of my all time favorite books as a kid. Peter also loves it. This book captures childhood wonder like no other.

6. James Herriot's Treasury For Children By James Herriot
This is such an incredible collection of James Herriot's fantastic stories of a British Veterinarian. The illustrations are so lovely. Although not all the stories are set in winter, there is a cozy feeling about all the them. The stories themselves are unabridged, so they are fun for the parents to read over and over again too. This is an all time favorite of ours!

7. Owl Moon By Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
Oh my gosh, this book is so stunning. It tells the story of father and daughter walking through the night to see an owl. It's written poetically and the illustrations are gorgeous. We love books about appreciation of nature and parents spending time outside with their kids. At the end, when the little girl gets to see her first owl, I always tear up a little. I'm a sap like that.

8. Snowflake Bentley By Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Mary Azarian
This is my all time favorite winter picture book biography. It's about the scientist Wilson Bentley who developed the technique for photographing snowflakes. Through his photographs it was discovered that no two snowflakes are identical...and that they are stunningly beautiful. Illustrated with charming woodcuts.

9. Animals in Winter By  Henrietta Bancroft and Helen K. Davie
Another great nonfiction picture book about winter. This one talks about what the animals do during the winter. I've been reading it in anticipation of our plan to decorate a tree for the wild animals (birdseed pinecones, strings of popcorn and cranberries, and suet) on one of the 12 days of Christmas. I'm hoping that will become one of our yearly traditions.

I hope everyone has a peaceful winter weekend! 

*This post contains affiliate links ~ For any purchase made through the links I post, a small stipend goes to our family book fund.