Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sam the Cat

When I was a junior in high school, two friends and I went shopping for costumes to wear for an upcoming play. Next door to the discount store happened to be an animal shelter so we stopped in to visit the cats. There I met the sweetest white with a gray tipped tail cat. He meowed at me and upon being taken out of his cage, put either paw on the side of my neck and gave me a huge cat hug. The next day I returned to the cat shelter with my Mom. Sam the cat returned with us to our house.

Over the years, Sam worked his way into all of our hearts with his quircky cat ways. Never the smartest cat, he was, however, sweet and gentle and funny. The first days he lived with us, he would follow me around (even jumping on my back when I would lean over to put my contacts in). Years later, after I left for college and then eventually moved out of my parents house, Sam became less my cat and more theirs. When I would return home to feed him while they were on vacations, Sam would yell at me and lead me to their room as if to say "they are not here - where have then gone and when are they coming home to me".

Last week, Sam's continued decline (he wasn't eating, couldn't jump onto furniture and was just looking miserable) led my Mom to make the tough decision to call the vet and have him put to sleep. Clearly, we were all very sad about this. As soon as I heard the news though, I was worried about Milo. Milo and Sam, although having a rough beginning, had struck a truce and developed a close friendship (if somewhat one sided). Milo often talked about Sam and would bring toys to show him. Sam tolerated the pets and hugs and chases around the house.

When Milo asked about seeing Sam this week, we had to say he was dead. The word sounded so harsh - dead, died, gone, not coming back. It's no wonder adults cling to the nicer ways of talking about death - passed away, moved on, resting. The finality of the words we chose to use with Milo are tough to swallow. He was quite upset about and had a lot of questions about where Sam went and why. We didn't have great answers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The First Two Weeks

I just put up my 2012 calendar. It seems the last two weeks have been a little busy around here. I'm old-fashioned in that I like a hard copy of a calendar with pretty pictures to uncover each month.

Much has happened in these first days of 2012. I turned 34. I gave birth. Leo entered the world. Milo became a big brother. Chris moved up to number 1 in Milo's eyes. Milo and Leo held hands for the first time. I managed to get all three of us out of the house. I forgot how much time is spent nursing a newborn and then remembered how perfectly that little body settles into my arms. I have laughed, cried and smiled. I tried dancing in the kitchen. I've insisted on more hugs from my boys than I usually would. Milo got a haircut. Leo went to the park for the first time thanks to some unseasonably warm temperatures. It seems like we have always been a family of four. It seems like everything is brand new.

Some of these milestones will earn a scribble on the calendar. Most won't, but I will write those others on my heart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leo is Here!

Our new little guy is one week old today! He is currently sleeping in the bouncer (that big brother Milo so loved as an infant) in the middle of the kitchen floor while I sit typing this at the kitchen table. Chris is upstairs putting Milo down for a nap. Tomorrow Chris goes back to work and I need to learn to handle life with two little boys. So before we ratchet up the crazy times, I wanted to take a moment to sit down and record Leo's birth story.

Last Monday was the holiday after New Year's Day. Chris was home and we met some friends at a bounce place. After a few false starts there, Milo had a great time and was worn out when we got home. We all had a nice nap and I was feeling mostly fine. Later that night we went to the grocery store for dinner and to do a big stock up trip. I was starting to feel a little crampy with all the walking around the store, but otherwise fine. After heading to bed, I woke up with slight contractions around midnight. I was able to stay in bed for most of these, but around 2 a.m. I headed downstairs and popped on Facebook since I couldn't sleep anyway. I noticed my brother was on messenger, so I sent him a message saying to keep his phone on that night because my contractions were getting stronger. After that, I woke Chris up to tell him I thought I was in labor.

We stayed upstairs for a few hours before moving down to the living room and eventually calling the doula around 4 a.m. She came over and helped me through the contractions I was having. She also suggested some positioning moves (lunges mostly) to help the baby move from resting on my right side (which if he would have stayed there would have meant a posterior baby). After working through these exercises, we noticed the baby had moved which was a relief. Around 6 a.m. I decided to head to the hospital. I didn't want to be home when Milo woke up and I was certain I was in active labor and wanted to get the show on the road.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I was admitted and found to be at 5 or 6 centimeters dilated. After the paperwork and getting the IV in place (ouch), I moved to the tub and labored there for about an hour. The water at first really helped the pain of the contractions, but then it stopped having such an effect. After deciding to get out of the tub and finding I was 7 centimeters dilated, I opted for an epidural. I was in pain and tired and just wanted to rest.

After the epidural I fell asleep for an hour or so. Thankfully, my body kept contracting and the baby was happy. A resident came in a broke my water, after which I quickly progressed to the complete 10 centimeters. At this point, I was wondering if the epidural could be turned down a bit. It seems my body responds a bit too well to this medication because I couldn't feel a thing. The answer was no, it couldn't really be turned down.

I started pushing around 3:30. My doctor came in and said the baby's head was coming out crooked and it would be tough to deliver him. He suggested using the vacuum. I opted to keep pushing for a bit, but ultimately agreed to the intervention. With that help, Leo was delivered at 4:28 p.m. He came out screaming and squirmy. I was able to immediately hold him for quite a long time.

Overall, this birth experience was 100% better than Milo's. I felt more in control, more respected and more at ease the entire time. Are there things I would go back and change if I could? Sure, but since the outcome was so positive, I am just thrilled with how it all went. The recovery, both emotionally and physically, has been so much easier this time around.

Why the differences? Being a second time Mom probably had a lot to do with it. This wasn't all brand new to me. My birth team definitely had something to do with. Choosing a Dr who was supportive of VBAC was key. Changing hospital environments also seemed to have an impact. Hiring a doula to be a supportive influence was also a dramatic change for the better. And finally, I think having a stronger yoga practice helped me be more aware of my body and my ground.

Little Leo is a joy. Well, I think he is a joy. At this point he mostly sleeps. And eats. Milo, as expected, is a loving and sweet big brother. We are all enjoying bonding and getting to know our little lion.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year!

When I look back over this last year, it seems like a blur. Spending most of it pregnant and with a very busy two-year-old made for a really busy time. Add in the yoga training and I spent a lot of time trying to fit things in and just make it through days. This doesn't mean it was a bad year at all - in fact it was overall a really positive year, but it did seem rushed.

With these overall ideas in mind, I've come up with a few goals for 2012. Some of them will seem familiar from past years!
  • Rededicate myself to my personal yoga practice. By the end of training, I was a little burned out (plus I was 8 months pregnant) and my yoga practice has been rather non-existent as of late. Bottom line is I like myself more and feel way better when I practice regularly so I am going to get back into it. Also, my own personal practice will lead me into who I will become as a teacher.
  • Give myself more time when leaving the house. We are constantly rushing around and hurrying to get out the door - and are still often late for outings, play dates and appointments. This causes stress and much more yelling than I would like. It's going to be even harder with a baby. So on mornings when I know we need to be somewhere, I am going to streamline, stay positive and make it happen.
  • Speak more positively to the people in my life. Yell and snip less. They are worth it.
  • Blog more. I miss having the record of what is going on in our lives and I'm going to blog more so I have that account of everyday happenings and my thoughts.
  • Continue to cut down on clutter. We are all so much more peaceful when we have a clear living space.