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Fourth Birth


I felt my water break at 6am, just a trickle, no contractions. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. Kate came over at 11am, and the four of us and her all went for a walk. Family Man turned around and went home to send emails to work. My contractions were still easy and mild, but getting stronger.

We went to get lunch at the brewery, but my water broke with big gushes, and we left to pick up burgers at Surfside instead. We ate in the car on the way to the birth center. Birthwaters came with more big gushes, soaking into the seat of the car and I wished I’d remembered to pack towels.

We arrived at the birth center, about 2pm, announced ourselves, and received a confused and surprised greeting from the admitting nurse. Already three women were in active labor and the birth center was understaffed. They put us in a small room where we remained throughout the birth.

First checked, I was 3 cm dilated and labor was progressing slowly. They said they wanted me to deliver within 18 hrs of my water breaking. (That would be midnight.) My UCSF records were not in my chart yet and Kate left to search NPS for them, but couldn’t locate them.

We met the on-call doctor, Dr. Hackett. Eventually, Dr.Kummerling brought the UCSF records and they told us that my uterine incision was low vertical, raising the risk of rupture from 1% to 10%. I was strongly advised to have a cesarean. Overwhelmed by the news during active labor, I broke down in tears and cried. Everyone left Brett and I alone in the room to talk it over. I had a good cry at the same time.

I chose to continue to labor and agreed to everything else the doctors advised: continuous monitoring, epidural port. Even though my labor progression seemed slow, I resolved to get it done soon, to avoid worried doctors and a time crunch.

After that, my contractions picked up. Next time I was checked my cervix was 5 cm dilated. I was deep into it and my discomfort was gaining on me. “It’s so strong.” I kept repeating, so I wouldn’t say my negative thoughts about the pain. I got onto the bed, sitting up, with Family Man and Kate holding my hands. I made loud, low ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ noises though the contractions. I felt grateful for the in-betweens. I looked Family Man in the eyes as he and Kate said the ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ with me. Sometimes I looked into Kate’s eyes.

Meanwhile, Brother and Young Son were mostly hanging out in the lobby and coming in once in a while to see what was going on. Sometimes they would sit down in the two chairs, and then a nurse or a doctor would come and it was so crowded in the little room, the boys would go out again.

Around 7pm, Family Man left with the boys and took them to a restaurant for dinner. An hour went by and I missed them. Kate texted Family Man and they were already on their way back.

I told Family Man I was feeling like I did during Young Son’s birth when I asked for the medication. I thought about wanting to relieve the pain, but resisted asking for it. I wanted to let Family Man know that I might be getting close based on that other experience. I asked to be checked again and Dr.Hackett said 6 cm. I felt disappointed, I thought I was closer (turns out I was).

When the anesthesiologist (another Dr.Hackett, the attending doctor’s husband) came in to do the epidural port, I had shifted onto my side. I knew it would be better to get off the bed, but I felt so tired.

The anesthesiologist needed me to sit up, I said the baby is so low, I don’t want to sit on her head. They told me there was plenty of room. I sat up and put my arms around Family Man’s neck and hung on him with all my weight. He felt strong and supportive. At first Dr. Hackett couldn’t get the port in and Family Man said “if you can’t, don’t worry about it” which was not well received according to him. He knew I was getting close. I said the baby is moving down. Family Man says they told me not to push, but I didn’t hear. My body was doing the pushing. He helped me to stand up and I continued to hang on him.

I felt the baby move lower with every contraction. My sounds got higher and more pained, I couldn’t control it. My body pushed, I bore down, Family Man held me up. I reached down and felt something between my legs – the sac? It felt softer than a head. Dr. Hackett pulled on gloves and squatted down. A few more pushes, and her head came out. Then her body. Somehow the doctor handed the baby to Family Man. Was he still holding me up too? Then I sat down on the bed and he put her in my arms. The cord was short and I held her low on my soft belly. It was surprising to the staff how fast she came and they were barely ready. When they checked the clock, they weren’t sure exactly what time she had been born, so 9:30pm was the time recorded.

Dr. Hackett helped deliver the placenta. For some reason, they didn’t let/ask me to push it out myself. It was lumpy and had two lobes, Dr. Hackett worked with her hand deep inside me to pull it out. She wanted to be sure the whole thing came out. (Which it didn’t, but we did not find that out until days later.)

After all that. they moved us into a postpartum room which was much larger, with two beds. Finally room for the whole family. When we were settled, the nurse came in with a scale and weighed her. 7 lbs 12 ozs. She suckled and fell asleep. I held her and loved her. We talked about her name. By morning we’d chosen her first and middle name. We stayed for the full day for them to keep an eye on us and do tests, like hearing, and oxygen saturation. When we checked out, her weight had dropped to 7 lbs 2 ozs and they were a little concerned, but still sent us home. We left after dark.

Taking her home from the hospital, she started to fuss in her car seat. I sang to her, “you can go back to sleep” and then Family Man and Brother and Young Son joined in and we all softly sang “you can go back to sleep” as we pulled out of the parking lot, and she slept the rest of the way home.

Yet, that is not where this story ends. After two more days, our baby girl was still losing weight and my milk had not come in yet. On day four, Kate brought formula and showed us how to feed her with an eyedropper. We went to WIC to see the lactation consultant. We came home with an electric breast pump and I started pumping almost hourly during the day and several times at night. I took tinctures and supplements. I talked to the doctor on the phone. Kate kept visiting. She suspected retained placenta. The doctor disagreed. I cried. I pumped. I held and fed our sweet baby. I took notes, recording every time I breastfed, every time I pumped, every time I gave her a bottle. I was even taking notes on every pee and poop to make sure she was getting enough food and hydration.

Finally, after visiting the doctors office with photo evidence of my increased heavy bleeding, the doctors decided it could be retained placenta. I went in for a D&C on our 10th wedding anniversary. Our baby girl was 11 days old. She was regularly nursing, still just getting colostrum and we were supplementing with bottle feedings of formula by then. The D&C removed a small chuck of placenta. A few more days went by, my milk came in gradually. Over the next few weeks, we supplemented less as she breastfed more. Her weight gain improved. I kept pumping to increase my milk supply.

That time was really challenging and stressful. I’m deeply grateful to our phenomenal midwife Kate for her expertise and guidance. With her support and that of my dear husband, I stayed strong and worked hard to get to the point where I was finally exclusively breastfeeding our precious baby girl.

Winter Garden

At the end of the Summer, when our vegetable garden was popping-off, I felt inspired to transition to Autumn crops.  I bought the very last six-pack of sugar snap pea starts from Pierson’s.  I know it was the very last one because I went back a couple of times looking for more, and they didn’t have them.  A friend had told us that he grows peas year-round (near-by, but a little more inland that we are here).  So I thought I would give it a shot.

sugar snap peas growing on a string trellis along the fence

Here they are looking good, eh? But it is not that simple. It never is, is it? They are growing, flowering, and producing peas. But the peas are smaller than Summer peas and they don’t taste as sweet. Altogether disappointing.

broccoli harvested from the garden and one medium sized cucumber

I found this Surprise Cucumber in the garden yesterday. Probably was there for weeks, I just noticed it. It ’twas a bit sour, but the boys devoured it anyway; they love cucumber. We do get about a meals worth of broccoli about once a week from the little shoots that are still growing out from the broccoli plants. The issue I’m having right now with the broccoli is caterpillars. They are all over the broccoli and no matter how hard I try to pick them all off, some of them end up cooked on the plate. Always on Young Son’s plate, too, somehow. Well, he is just a really good noticer. I suspect we all get one, but the rest of us just eat our without noticing.

Interesting side note, the caterpillars are only on the broccoli growing in the lower section of the garden. The broccoli plants in the upper section of the garden have snails which eat the leaves. So are the caterpillars not there because of the snails presence? Or is it more of micro-location thing? I do not know.

I also planted carrot seeds back in September. They are are growing well and I’m trying to keep them weeded. Other than that, I gave up on Autumn crops. Fall only lasted for one month this year: September. Then we went straight into winter. Heavy rains and cold, but not freezing yet. I couldn’t bring myself to do much gardening in that. I still have summer sweetpeas and pole bean plants to pull out and clear away. One day.

First Day of School

Better late than never. Here they are, first day of school.  August 29, 2016




Merry Go Round


Spring has sprung. Time to hack out the weeds and get this garden back into production. Feeling very stoked on taking what I learned in the last few years and making this year even better. The first plant to fruition this spring was amazingly last years strawberries. Who would have guessed? Not I…

bright lights chard sprouts

drop of water on a broccoli leaf

potted spearmint in front of big leafed artichoke

ripening and unripe strawberries hanging over the edge of the redwood planter box

raspberry canes with blossoms and green fruit

baby artichoke growing within the artichoke leaves

Babs and the Aloe Plant

Babs resting under the rocking chair

This is the sweet and innocent-looking terror of our household, Babs. In the past month, she has bitten through the cords of three keyboards, one set of computer speakers, and the cord connecting the computer to the screen. She is really keeping us on our toes.

Babs on top of the coffee table

We think we’ve finally blocked her access to the delightful destruction of computer equipment. So that leaves her with the other pastimes of climbing on stuff, nibbling houseplants, and ripping up all the newspaper in her box.

Babs flopped over sleeping under the table

Clearly, all these rascally rabbit antics and can be quite exhausting. Everyone quiet down please, the destroyer of electrical cords needs a nap.

Young Son petting Babs with Pac the fish in the background

Jokes aside, this little sweetie has been warming our hearts lately. She has just gotten friendlier since the passing of her buddy Mr. Buns a year and half ago. She loves to be petted, especially on her forehead.

Babs resting under the rocking chair

And she seeks out our attention everyday. Lucky for her, the kids are often right down on her level.

Soccer for the win

Last weekend we wrapped up the soccer season with a couple of wins. It has been a lot of fun. We saw a lot of improvement from both Young Son and Brother out on the field. It has been exciting and rewarding to watch their progress and cheer them on.

Young Son in action on the soccer field

Young Son had the chance to try out all positions over the course of the season. He played aggressively as a forward and showed patience and strength as a defender. He even played goalie for one half, mid-season, and made several critical saves for his team.

Brother in action on the soccer field

Brother played primarily midfield for his team. Being one of the strongest runners, he had the hustle to get up and down the field in a hurry, supporting his team both defensively and offensively.

Go Team!