Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Birth of Lucia Stellamaris Part 2

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

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

That's when things started to get exciting. The ferry FINALLY left the dock, right when we were calling to get an ambulance on the boat. Too late for that, but we were able to arrange for them to meet us on the mainland. This was my first time being in active labor in a vehicle. It was...unpleasant. Additionally, the sitting position speeds up my labors, so I was worried about that. Contractions kept coming closer and closer. Cosmo was off letting the ferry workers know the situation, so they could prioritize our exit. They were more than happy to oblige, since they like to avoid babies being born on the vessel. 

When we got off the boat there were three ambulances there with a plethora of concerned looking paramedics. They put me on a stretcher, told me to lie on my left side (ouch), and buckled me in. I told all my information to a nice lady and was elevated up into the nearest ambulance. Cosmo parked the van. I met the two paramedics who were assigned to us. #1 was young (about my age - upper 20's), #2 was younger. Both of them were dudes. Like, more than just the fact that they were guys, dude in their demeanor. They told Cosmo firmly that he was not allowed to ride in the back with me, because of ambulance regulation (!).
#1 paramedic dude assured me that he'd done this before. 
"Oh", I said, "so you have kids?"
"No", he said, "I've transported women in labor".

As a child I always wished that I could ride in an ambulance. 

We were frustrated at the seemingly pointless rule, but in favor of getting to the hospital ASAP, we didn't put up a fuss. Cosmo hopped into the front seat and we were off. Things had spiraled into completely unknown territory. I was not in control, I was not comfortable, I was in a strange environment, and I had two paramedics trying to make small talk with me. Although I didn't have control, I did have a choice. I could fight the situation and suffer, or I could turn to prayer and probably also suffer. I turned to prayer. 

 The three shepherd children of Fatima

"Oh my Jesus, I offer this for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

I lay there in an uncomfortable position, grasping the hand of a paramedic dude child of God, and I offered up my pain. I offered it up for my friend who has difficult pregnancies. I offered it up. Suddenly all I could see was this:

The pain completely left me. I felt Christ suffering for me. I asked to take on other people's pain and my own suffering went away. All I could see was Christ on the cross. I was so calm and at peace that the paramedics didn't believe me when I told them that my baby was crowning. 

Me: The baby is crowning. 
Paramedic #1: Okay, just hold off until we get to the hospital. 
Me: Um, that won't be possible. This is my third baby and she is coming out now.
Paramedic #1 (to Paramedic #2): They always say that.
Me: No, really, I feel her head coming out.
Paramedic #1: Okay, I guess we should check her. ... PULL OVER! Baby is being born!

Paramedic #2 caught her, because he's never done that before and needed the experience.  

And she was born, on 4th avenue, across the street from Costco. 

7 pounds, 15 oz. 

Cosmo broke the rules, ignored their protests, and hopped back to meet his daughter. I was glad that we took the ambulance, because she needed some suctioning, and we didn't have a bulb syringe in the van. She sneezed, cried, and sneezed a few more times. Then we were back on our way to the hospital. I noticed those paramedics were physically shaking for the rest of the ride to the hospital. 

The midwife was very glad to see us. She found everyone to be healthy and brought us to our postpartum room. 

I am happy to report that the lactation nurses were helpful. If nothing else, they gave me the confidence that I was doing everything right. They all felt that I knew what I was doing and that baby was a pro at sucking. The food was also excellent. I was able to order tons of delicious food whenever I wanted. I did miss my family. Cosmo left the next day to return to our kids and I was by myself until we were discharged the following evening. I couldn't really relax. I didn't sleep more than an hour those first 48 hours. So, the verdict is that hospitals are not as bad as I thought...but I don't think we'd want to plan another hospital birth. Actually, Cosmo said that he wants to start studying childbirth, because after 3 quick labors, it's good to be prepared. 


Our Lady of La Leche, pray for us! 

We named her Lucia Stellamaris. Cosmo read A LOT of C.S. Lewis during this pregnancy, and he liked the name Lucy (from chronicles of Narnia). I talked him into Lucia, because I wanted a nod to Sister Lucia of Fatima (this year is the 100th anniversary of the apparition and miracle). I also have loved St. Lucy since childhood, probably mostly because I had a Kirsten doll. We call her Lucie for short.

We chose Stellamaris for many reasons. It means "Star of the Sea". My Nonna (grandma) is named "Stella", so it honors her. Also, it's one of the oldest Marian titles for Our Lady Star of the Sea. My name means "Morning at sea", Rosemary means "dew of the sea", so I love that we girls all have a sea connection. 

You can purchase this gorgeous print here:

Now she is 2 months old and just the sweetest, most smiley baby ever. Her baptism is in a couple weeks, on the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Perfect for a baby named "light". 

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia; quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia; resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia; ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

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.