Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Asha Moremi, 3-4 months






My sweet Asha. She's entered into what I think is the "golden age" of babyness.  4-7 months is epic. They learn so much, and change so much - rolling, sitting, eating, babbling.... all of it is just on the horizon, and I want to capture as much as I can in words before this wonderful phase passes me by.

Babies make time go so fast.  Especially second babies.  I am feeling, for lack of a better word, utterly blessed to have Asha in our lives. I knew that all babies were different, because of course they are unique people from the start, but it still floors me how different my girls are in personality already.  Amaliya was sassy from the start, serious and discerning, very particular about everything and every one.  She rarely laughed, didn't roll or crawl until she was almost a year old, and was a generally intense personality from the start.  The old soul inhabiting her body made her seem more like an adult in a tiny body than a baby.

That's not Asha.  Asha is easygoing, innocent, joyful, a baby through and through. She buzzes with a quiet but constant energy. She does all the baby things - wiggles and coos and blows epic spit bubbles, those little actions that are so monumental in a mama's eye, because they are all one step closer to the end of babyness. Asha is a snuggler and not a crier, she loves her people but also loves to explore the world on her own. I can't wait to see what the next few months will bring, when she's mobile and ever more engaged in the world around her.


Asha Likes:  Just about everything.  She really only fusses when she's tired. She especially loves tummy time while batting at toys, "standing" on her legs, sitting on laps and observing the world, being talked or sung to, being changed, walking around outside, and watching her sister's shenanigans.


Asha Dislikes:  Being fed when she's not interested, baths (though she doesn't cry any more - just shoots me dirty looks), teething (SO early.  Why, nature?) and being in the house when she's bored or tired.  There's not much this girl doesn't like. She is a very chillaxed baby.

Eating:  There's not  much to say here.  She eats well, 4-6 times a day and usually 1-2 times overnight. She takes the bottle with no fuss at all, almost never nurses for comfort.... that's about it.  She does tend to spit up fairly often, but she's allowed :-). 


Sleeping:  I still can't believe the jackpot I hit with this baby girl. She sleeps like an absolute pro, and has twice now slept 12 hours through the night. The 4 month sleep regression shook things up for a bit - she was up 2-3 times a night, mostly because she was rolling herself over and getting stuck. I started swaddling her legs for sleep, and it seems to help. Right now she goes to bed between 6:30 and 7pm most nights, wakes up once or twice to eat (15 minutes), and wakes up around 6:30am.  There's no rhyme or reason to her naps yet.  She generally needs a short one early in the morning, then is up for a 4-5 hour stretch, takes a 3ish hour nap, and then is up until bedtime.


Nicknames: Ash, Asha-basha, Ash-ers, Awesome Asha (at daycare), squeakers, puddles, juicy fruit


We love you, my Asha <3 br="">

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

To Amaliya, on your 4th birthday





Amaliya,

What a year you've had, my girl. A year of growth, transition, and huge upheavals. When you turned 3 you were my only baby, mature beyond your years, physically restrained and emotionally reserved, the quietest kid in your class. Now? Now you scale all the playground equipment. You make friends with strangers everywhere you go. You sing and dance your way through every situation. And you are a big sister now, a role that suits you more perfectly than I could have imagined.


Your 3rd year was overshadowed a bit by the impending arrival of your sister. I felt bad when it took me away from you - when I was too sick to take you places, too big to run around the park with you, and unable to do much of anything for a few weeks when Asha was born. We did make the most of our time together, though. We had Sunday morning dates at Barnes and Noble, where we hit up Starbucks and then read books for an hour. Every other Friday, we skipped the daycare breakfast and went to Denny's where I watched agog as you polished off an entire Gram Slam breakfast. There were frozen yogurt dates and the occasional trip to the library. You've always been my sidekick, my companion, willing to go with the flow and accompany me on any whim or errand. You're not the kid that throws tantrums in public, melts down in the checkout line, complains about having to do things. Whether its standing in line at the bank or hitting up 3 grocery stores in an afternoon, you enthusiastically kept me company - always with a smile and a song. I appreciated your easygoing nature and maturity so much this year. Because of you, we were able to make the most of our last months together as mama and only daughter.



You found out about the new baby back in August, and dealt with it in your characteristic fashion:  by asking a million questions. You studied the stages of fetal development in a magazine. You asked a million more questions, and you fell in love.  You were so, so excited for your baby sister Moon Cheese (you chose the name) to be born. You covered my belly in kisses, asked me every day if we can keep her, and promised to protect her and change all the diapers. You suddenly had a baby in YOUR belly named Pela, who is a boy and apparently very mean.  For a while there you were bodyslamming your teacher and friends at daycare and blaming it on Pela's kicking!


You've had some anxiety about your transition from toddler to big kid, as all kids do. You've struggled to express yourself; you've raged, you've melted down, and you've taken out a lot of it on me. I don't mind - in fact, I welcome it.  I am privileged to be your safe place, the one to whom you can express the sadness and anger and confusion that overwhelms you sometimes while you learn to deal with the frustrations of life. 


You are so much like your dad: analytical, observant, talkative, cerebral. You are like me, too, in your pragmatic nature, your love of the spotlight, and your stubborn temper. I've come down hard on you in the past year, and then paused to realize that you were only reflecting my own behaviors back on me. That's the terrible and wonderful thing about parenting. It's not all wonderment and misty eyes and reliving the freedom of youth.  It's also a lot of watching the unsavory parts of yourself manifested in an innocent little person, and realizing that if you want to stop them from self-destructing one day, you need to first fix what's broken in yourself.


The hard moments, the growing moments, fade to the background when I think of all the good you've brought to our family this year. You are silly and bouncy, you love to roughhouse, to chase and be chased.   You love to use your imagination, but if I get too far into the fantasy, you are quick to remind me that "it's just pretend, mama."  You're always questioning why I do thing the way I do, and suggesting ways to make my life more efficient.  What's impressive about that is that, many times, you're absolutely correct!


You are starting to sound out words.  You can count to one hundred and ten. You draw pictures that actually look like what you intend.  You are utterly obsessed with Daniel Tiger and have all the songs memorized.
You enjoy art projects and helping me in the kitchen. You're happy to help me with anything, in fact, and are always fetching me things and offering your assistance. You still love your Music Together classes, and you are enthusiastically delving into ballet.  I'm so happy to see you finally finding confidence in your physical body.  You who never crawled, who has always been so cautious, unwilling to move and try new things, now you splash freely in the pool and tear up the sidewalk on your balance bike.  You are interested in all things related to the human body - we have books on skeletons and germs and babies that you've asked me to read you dozens of times.  


You challenge me and make me proud every day, Amaliya.  I've done my best as your mom, but I always want to do better by you: be more patient, more gentle, more empathetic, more generous with my time. You deserve all of that and more, and yet, even when I fall short, I know that you and I will be okay. We've been figuring this mama-and-daughter thing out together from the beginning, guiding and correcting each other. Even though the twists and turns of the past year have changed our dynamic, the bond between a mom and her first daughter is unique and unwavering. 


You are exquisite, baby girl. I can't wait to see how you shine this year.

Love,
Mama <3 br="">


 


Friday, September 9, 2016

Autumn Bucket List

  • Pumpkin Spice Latte date with Amaliya
  • Visit Live Oak Pumpkin Patch
  • Bake a fall treat
  • Paint or carve pumpkins
  • Go Trick - or- Treating
  • Picnic in Oak Glen
  • Play in the leaves
  • Decorate the house for fall
  • Visit Greenspot Farms
  • Take a nighttime walk in our neighborhood
  • Make an autumn art project
  • Take family pictures

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Notes on life right now



I'm tempted to say that I'd like to devote more time to this space, to writing, to telling my stories... but I won't, because it's just not going to happen. When I had Amaliya, there was still some wiggle room in my life that allowed priorities to come and go and shift around.  That second baby sure is a game changer, though. Since Asha came along, my life has been streamlined and simplified.  My priorities in my non-working hours are, in order: 1) taking care of my family, 2) spending quality time with my family, 3) working out, 4) reading for pleasure. That's literally ALL I have time for, and reading gets cut out quite often.

It's been a relief, actually.  Instead of trying desperately to fit in time to work on a painting or craft project, I packed up all my supplies and stored them in a closet.  There will be time for that later, but not now, during this season of my life. I still love to write, but my oversharing is now done mostly in short bursts on Instagram, because I can post from my phone with one hand while rocking a baby with the other.  I will still be doing milestone posts and letters to my kids now and then, because I'm committed to documenting their childhoods for them (which they will either love me for, or drag me to therapy over. We shall see), but they won't be my finest writing, proofread and revised.

I'm heading back to work full time in a week and a half. I really want to get it over with - I hate dreading unpleasant things, and would much prefer to just leap in and get it over with.  The transition back is what I'm dreading, not the actual being-at-work part. My job is fine. It's the unsettled feeling I have over sending a tiny baby to daycare. It's knowing that I'm going to come home exhausted in the evenings, with one screaming, tired baby and one sass-mouthed, hungry, obstinate preschooler, and somehow still get dinner on the table and wash a zillion bottles and breast pump parts. It's knowing that my kids, who deserve the best of me, almost always get the worst of me on evenings like that.  I'm anxious to plunge in, get over the adjustment period, and settle into a new routine.... though I also anticipate that routine will weigh on me heavily. A routine doesn't eliminate stress, it just keeps the stress at a constant low hum so that it eventually fades into the background of your life, and you don't realize that you're actually suffering from constant stress until you have a few months to shake it off and finally BREATHE.

Ah, maternity leave.  Just when I hit my stride being home all day, it ends, and back to work I go.

I don't mean to paint a dismal picture here though. I am happy.  Truly, deeply, surprisingly happy, satisfied with my life in a way that I never knew I could be. My marriage is strong, and a constant source of peace and pride for me. Amaliya amazes me daily with the person she is becoming, and though my relationship with her is definitely the most volatile one in my life right now (almost-4-year-olds feel ALL the feelings ALL the time, and I am not the most empathetic of souls) she is and will always be my greatest companion in this life. Asha is a dream baby, a trick baby, the kind of baby that makes you want to have a dozen more babies. I am so in love with her it makes me spontaneously weep, of all the ridiculous things, but you mamas get it. Watching my family grow is pure joy.

As for me, well, I'm transitioning too of course. My hair started falling out this week, right on schedule. I still weigh about 20lbs more than I'm comfortable with, and though I'm not having any sort of crisis of confidence (my self-esteem and body image are, for the most part, impenetrable), the extra weight poses some difficulties.  For one, I don't fit into ANY of my old work clothes.  I am also having a much harder time running now.  I'm heavy, I'm slow, my feet hurt, I FELL tonight for the first time in years because I wasn't picking up my feet enough (scraped up a hand, knee and shoulder but I'm otherwise fine).  I have totally lost my sweet tooth since Asha was born, which is weird. I've been all about chocolate since birth, practically, but it rarely sounds good right now. I don't have any cravings, actually, and I'm in the unique-to-me position of struggling to take in enough calories to fuel breastfeeding/pumping and exercise (which still staying in a slight deficit so I can slowly take the weight off). It's a tough balancing act, but I'm listening to my body and slowly figuring things out.

Despite having pumped and stored well over 400oz of breastmilk, I'm still worried about keeping up with Asha when she goes to daycare. I'm worried about daycare in general. Will she sleep? Will the caregiver get frustrated with her? What if she won't take a bottle for her? Worries aside, I am having MUCH less postpartum anxiety this time around. I didn't realize what a shadow that cast over my first postpartum experience until now, when I'm enjoying my baby outside of the shadow cast by insomnia and intrusive thoughts and random surges of adrenaline. Aside from having some trouble getting physically back to normal (which, to be fair, is my own fault for gaining 60lbs while pregnant. And I regret nothing, because I ate a lot of amazing cake), everything has been so, so easy this time around.  I am grateful for that.

I am grateful for so many things. And that's where I'm at right now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Asha Moremi - 8 weeks

 



 




My sweet, snuggly, easygoing Asha is 8 weeks old today. I'm not one to believe that "everything happens for a reason," but it does seem fated and somewhat magical that this steady, gentle soul entered our lives at such a transitional moment.



I'm going a little bit crazy with two kids, I admit. They are so LOUD, all the time, and I hate noise. My brain short-circuits, and I just want to run away. They have competing needs and I feel like I need four hands for each of them, when I only have two to do everything. It's in those moments, when Amaliya is shouting mean things at me and dinner is burning and daddy is late and I'm totally burned out from 12 hours with no moment of silence and at least one person always touching me, that I have to pause.... and be grateful that, of all the second babies in all the world, Asha is mine. I can put her down to tend to her sister; I can lie her in her crib and know that she'll nap; She doesn't mind waiting a few minutes to eat, and then eating quickly so I can get other things done; She goes to bed with minimal pageantry and no fighting required.

Yes, she cries, and yes, she demands as much attention as any other baby. She'll scream her protest at being put down while I'm busy with her sister, but as soon as I pick her up, all is forgiven. She's accepted the chaotic but inflexible routine of our household and adapted to it perfectly, in only 8 weeks. She smiles at me, and I know without a doubt that she's on my side. I need that, these days.



I'm not generally prone to guilt, but I do feel as if I've been failing a bit for the past few months. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not as bonded to Asha as I was to her sister at this point. Part of it is that I haven't spent much time alone with her, since her dad and big sister have been home a lot since she was born. Part of it is that we're frequently stuck in the house (with the weather being so damn hot and Asha screaming murder in her carseat or the carrier, it's really hard to get out and even take a walk) and being indoors/inactive makes me unhappy and rather crazy. And of course, part of it is those lovely postpartum hormones which have been doing a number on me for the last couple weeks. I don't feel as bonded with her as I'd like to be, and I also feel like her presence has drastically changed the solid bond I have with Amaliya. I feel adrift, taking care of both of them and loving on them the best I can, but not really connected, you know? I know this will pass, and I'm doing my best to take care of all of us (myself very much included) and find our new normal. I love my girls, they love me, and their growing love for each other is a beautiful thing to witness.



It's been hard, but now that my husband is back at work and Amaliya is settling into her new school, I'm trying to make the most of the days I have with Asha.  I talk and sing to her, take naps with her, and try and be more "in the moment," breathe in her sweet babyness and let go of my anxiety.

I'll save my crazed postpartum ranting for another post, and focus now on my beautiful Asha. She's just started cooing this week, and it melts me.  I love how she locks eyes with me when I talk to her, grins, and squeaks while frantically flailing her limbs. You can tell how excited she is to be part of the conversation. Her eyesight is much better now, so she can actually focus on and watch her sister's crazy antics (for the first month or so I think Amaliya was just an afro'ed blur and source of loud noise for Asha, and she was terrified. Now, she's fascinated!)

She's still incredibly strong - she pushes herself so far up during tummy time that she consistently rolls over onto her back. She's getting much better at holding her neck up and sitting upright in my lap. She'll get weighed at her 2-month appointment next week, but I think she's approaching 11lbs right now, and almost outgrown her 0-3m sized clothes.

Lots of drool these days

Asha Likes: Being talked to, making eye contact, watching her sister (from a safe distance), being outside, my left shoulder (still), her play mat, wiggling on her changing pad, and this balloon that Amaliya "bought"for her:



Asha Dislikes: Her carseat (sigh), the carrier (bigger sigh), being stifled by her sister's love (see below), being carried "like a baby"unless she's eating, being bathed and massaged, pacifiers (unless she's REALLY tired, and then she'll take one until she falls asleep), being woken up prematurely from a nap.





Sleeping: We're emerging from the chaotic newborn days, and Asha is turning into an excellent sleeper. She's in her crib at night probably 90% of the time, and only sleeps with me if she wakes up in the early morning hours and can't doze off again. She is AMAZING at putting herself to sleep.  We started putting her down sleepy-but-awake at around 6 weeks, and she usually dozes off within a few minutes with minimal fussing. In the last week or so her sleep patterns have changed - she's not napping for such long stretches during the day right now, but she's consistently doing a 6-7 hour stretch at night (one night we got a solid 8.5 hours!)



We're working on a bedtime routine, since that will make evenings with two kids SO much easier. For the past couple nights I've changed and fed Asha around 6:45, rocked her in a dark room with white noise on and sang a little, and put her down in her crib around 7:00. She goes right to sleep, wakes up between 1-4am to eat, then goes back to sleep until 6. After I put her to bed I'm free to spend a little time snuggling and reading with Amaliya, and both kids are in bed by 7:45 which is so, so essential for my sanity and hygiene and marriage.

Asha is getting better about napping in her crib, but her favorite nap location is still the Boppy Lounger (but she's outgrowing it and getting more mobile, so its days are numbered). She doesn't seem to like sleeping on me much anymore, but that's probably because it's hot and we get sweaty.

 

Eating: There's not much to say here, really.  She took to breastfeeding like a natural, eats 6-7 times a day and once at night, and has no issues taking a bottle.  She tends to gag and choke on my milk a lot more than her sister ever did, but I think it's because I have an oversupply and am pumping extra to freeze.  I try and pump regularly and not feed her when I'm engorged, and that helps. She's pukey sometimes and has really terrible gas that makes her miserable (due, I think, to the abundance of kale in my diet. I'm quite sad to give that up).  Gas drops and gripe water seem to help though.




Nicknames (all given by her sister): Ashie, Ash-ba, Ash-bosh, chubby cheeks.



Asha is definitely one of those "trick babies." The kind of baby that makes babies seem so wonderful that you feel like you should have more babies. Terrible birth control, this one is. Aside from the temptation to always have a sweet smelling, snuggly baby in the house, I do feel that our family is very complete now that Asha is with us. She rounds us out, in a way. My husband with his intellectual, analytical brain on fire; me, like a dalmation on steroids, always jumping around and juggling a dozen things and unable to contain my need to MOVE; Amaliya, with her fiery temper and social nature, always talking, always needing to interact and connect and communicate; We're a mess of strong, at-odds personalities.... and then came Asha, with her steady gaze and aura of Namaste. She unites us. She brings us peace. She seems softer than the three of us, more sensitive, more gentle. She is exactly what we always needed.




And we do love her so.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Asha Moremi - 4 weeks



It's been four weeks since Asha joined our family and, dare I say it? I feel complete. She's so sweet, so snuggly, so tiny, such a baby, that I just know she was meant to always be the littlest member of our family.

Amaliya's infancy was a confusing time for me.  I knew nothing about newborns, of course, so the physical demands of caring for one knocked me askew for quite a while. For the first 6 weeks I wished fervently that she was just grow a bit, just be a bit older and more independent, not constantly needing so much from me. I wished away her newborn-ness, and though I don't feel particularly guilty about it (I was doing my best, at the time), I am happy to say that I am reveling in Asha's first weeks on this earth. Newborns are familiar to me now - their simple yet taxing needs, their squeaks and gasps and yawns and sneezes, their erratic sleep patterns. I felt overwhelmed by Amaliya, never sure I was doing the right thing. Now?  Ah, the different that confidence makes.



I've learned not to overthink babies. With Amaliya, anxiety about everything kept me up at night, even while she slept.  With Asha, I am much more easy going. No panic attacks wondering if she's getting enough breastmilk, if her poop is the right color, if her weird breathing patterns are a sign of undiagnosed issues. She nurses and is gaining weight, so I don't freak out about her nutrition. She won't sleep in her crib? That's fine; we all sleep better with her tucked into bed with us anyway.  Panic-free parenting has been wonderful, this time around.



Much of the credit for this relaxed attitude goes to Asha; Her needs are easy to interpret and address. I never felt like Amaliya was a baby, really.  She was such an old soul, independent and sassy from the get go.  Asha is different. There's something so vulnerable, so sweet about her, young though she is. Something about the way she can't sleep unless she's snuggled up in my warmth, how she burrows her face in my neck and falls asleep on my shoulder. Something about the way cold sensations and loud noises seem to upset her, the way they never upset her sister.  She's delicate and gentle, with a quiet, mournful cry that sounds like singing (which her dad says makes him feel guilty, even when he hasn't done anything).  She's made these first few weeks relatively easy on us.

Asha Likes:  Being held all day and night, sleeping, boobs, staring at faces, the Boppy lounger, her play mat, the changing table, blankets, resting on mama's shoulder.



Asha Dislikes:  Baths, cold wipes, the car seat, the bassinet, babywearing (though we're working on it), getting dressed, unfamiliar people, pacifiers.



Sleeping:  Not bad for a baby, I guess?  Her first couple nights at home, she cried from 12-4am and otherwise slept fitfully on my chest, but thankfully she straightened out her days and nights fairly quickly. Now she reliably sleeps from 8pm-12:30am, 12-3:30am, and 3:30-6am (roughly). The only caveat is, of course, that she has to sleep tucked into the crook of my arm, hugging my breast. We start every night in the crib, just for practice, but it typically lasts about 10-60 minutes before I take her to bed with me (except for one glorious night when she slept the whole night in her crib and I got really excited, only for her to refuse the next night).  Honestly, I don't push it too hard. When she gets a bit older I'll try harder to transition her (I really don't LOVE cosleeping, snuggly though it may be. I want my adult bed back soonish), but for now?  We're sleeping.  I have a newborn and I am more-or-less well rested, so I'm willing to do whatever works to keep it that way, for now.



I am enjoying these moments.  I know the days of falling asleep with a tiny baby snuggled in next to me are fleeting, and its likely something I won't experience again. I am soaking it in while I can.

Naps are all over the place, in typical new baby fashion, though she does take one 3ish hour nap every day, usually in the morning.  She'll nap in the crib sometimes, but mostly likes to be on her tummy in the Boppy lounger (a position that does give me anxiety, but it is what it is. I watch her like a hawk).



Eating: Asha had an amazing latch from the beginning and, thankfully, we've had no problem with breastfeeding.  She has a partial lip tie just like her sister, but less severe than Amaliya's I think, so my nipples are sore but not bleeding like I remember from 4 years ago. It doesn't affect her intake and I know from experience that the soreness will go away in a few weeks, so we're just going with it.  There's no pattern to her feeding yet - on demand, 'round the clock is how we roll right now.  She generally doesn't go more than 3 hours without eating, with an occasional 4 hour stretch overnight.  I started pumping as soon as my milk came in to start building a freezer stash.  She took her first bottle at around 2 weeks with no drama whatsoever, thank goodness.



How's the family?:  We've all fared better than I anticipated in the wake of so many huge changes. The jump from one kid to two has been just as hard, if not harder, than I anticipated, just in interesting ways. Amaliya has been absolutely wonderful with her little sister.  She's never acted jealous, loves on the baby constantly, and really enjoys being a helper. We're sleeping and therefore not as short-tempered as I had prepared for.  Mostly it's the NOISE that is killing me now. Having a baby screaming in one ear, Amaliya yelling in the other, my husband trying to talk to me, and the TV going in the background is just too much, and I start to short-circuit and want to run away (obviously, I'm the only one in my house that appears to be averse to noise and chaos. Lucky me). I'm trying my best to just roll with it.



Otherwise, we're getting into a rhythm. Figuring out how to do all the things we used to do with one kid, just with two.  Accepting that everything takes longer and requires a lot more equipment.  A big perk of baby #2 is that you're not allowed to just wallow around in the newborn haze for too long. Big sister has school, extracirriculars, a routine that cannot and should not go out the window because a baby came along. Plus, it's almost summer, and we have a ton of fun things in mind to do. Our newest addition will be right there, living life with us.

Though it would help a lot of she could make peace with her carseat already .










Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Arrival of Moon Cheese (Asha's Birth Story)



Asha Moremi Ojo
Born on 5/4/2016, 2:24pm
6lbs 15oz, 19.5in

Knowing that second babies tend to come earlier and faster than the first, I was prepared for a quick labor this time. This made me slightly nervous, since my husband works about a hour an a half away and is slave to the train schedule, but knowing that most babies are born during the night, I didn't worry too much. It was a running joke throughout my pregnancy that I was afraid to have a baby in the middle of Yucaipa Boulevard, the long main road that leads to the birth center, a good 15-20 minutes away. I'm afraid I almost jinxed myself.

On Wednesday, May 4, I was technically 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant and mentally very tired of the whole thing. My body hurt, my stamina was nonexistent, and my patience with myself (not to mention Amaliya's patience with me not being able to play tennis with her) had run out.  I'd been to the midwife 2 days earlier, but I was only dialated 1cm and not at all effaced - not unexpected, given that my cervix showed no progress when labor started with Amaliya but still progressed quickly. Still, I was discouraged, and every day more fearful that I would require a hospital induction.

That Wednesday morning I came home from dropping Amaliya off at school, looked at the sink full of dirty dishes and thought, you know what?  Not today.  Today I'm not going to frantically get the house ready just in case this is the day we have a baby. I'm going to enjoy some time to myself. I made a luxurious cup of coffee with butter and cinnamon, and laid on the couch to read for two blissful hours.   Around 10:30, I headed over to the midwife for a non-stress test to check on the baby, stopping for a mini blizzard at Dairy Queen along the way.

I opened the door to the birth center and before I could step one foot inside I heard a "pop" from my abdomen, and felt a sharp cramp along with a small gush of fluid. What perfect timing. We went ahead with the test, which involved being hooked up to one monitor tracking the baby's heartbeat, and another monitoring my contractions.  Moon Cheese was active and healthy, but I wasn't having any contractions. After a quick check revealing that my cervix was, in fact, progressing (3cm, 65% effaced), I headed home around 12 to wait for contractions to start. From the car I called my husband and told him to grab the earliest train home (which happened to be at 1pm), my mom to ask her to leave work and get ready to take Amaliya for the night, and my best friend Pokey (Erin) to come sit with me in the meantime.

I noticed some crampy sensations on the drive home, and had my first intense, had-to-stop-and-catch-my-breath contraction while trying to parallel park the car. My first thought was regret for the sink full of dirty dishes I'd left from that morning.  I ran upstairs to finish packing Amaliya's overnight bag (which was a disaster, by the way. I packed nothing but shorts and t-shirts for a cold rainy day, and forgot underwear and a sweater entirely. Somehow I did remember a toothbrush and all her hair/bath supplies). I came downstairs and attempted to unload the dishwasher, but was in too much pain to get very far. Finally I gave up and put on a movie (Dances with Wolves - I wanted pretty scenery and a beautiful score to distract me. Of course I remember nothing of it, except for glancing up once between contractions and seeing Kevin Costner's bare ass on the screen. There are worse things). At that point the contractions were extremely painful, requiring vocalization and rhythmic movement. I threw up my entire lunch, then draped myself over our ottoman and labored on my knees.

Pokey arrived around 1 or 1:15, I think, and at that point I was timing contractions 5-6 minutes apart. They quickly increased to every 4 minutes, then every 2.  Looking back, I'm amazed at how coherent I was as compared to my first labor. I remembered to try and keep my voice low, to find a rhythm to my movement and breath to help me through each one (I swayed my hips and tapped my hand on the ottoman). I remember desperately wanting to wait until Kunle got home, not wanting to leave without him. And then I had a different contraction - longer, so intensely painful that I lost control of myself and cried, and I felt the baby move distincly downward. My brain short-circuited at that point. I knew I was in transition, I knew we needed to go, I was afraid to leave without my husband with me, I was irrationally worried that he'd come home and not know where I was. I am so, so thankful to have had such a capable friend by my side through all this, since I was unable to vocalize anything that was going through my head.  She made the call that we needed to leave at that moment, a bit before before 2pm, and threw the car seat and my bags into the car. I somehow ended up in the passenger seat, screaming and biting on a pillow, and we sped off.

I had a few bad contractions in the car, but the change in position actually helped the pain and moved things along - not ideal, since we were still 15 minutes away. I had a moment of almost- panic when suddenly, in the middle of traffic and construction on the Boulevard, the pain lessened considerably and the next contraction brought with it the intense urge to push. I've read enough to remember that you're supposed take shallow, panting breaths to avoid pushing, so I tried, and it worked for a while. I saw Erin expertly maneuvering the car through traffic and was so grateful, even in that moment, that she was so calm and in control of the situation. She was using my phone, trying to reach my husband who was on the road, telling him to come straight to the birth center. I said out loud, "I am NOT having this baby on Yucaipa Boulevard!" And she confirmed, "No, you're not!"

We pulled into the birth center and one of the student midwives rushed out. She ordered me out of the car and told me to keep walking, even through the next contraction, likely afraid I would drop a baby on the pavement. The next 10 minutes are a blur. I'm on the bed on my hands and knees; I'm ordered onto my back and hold my knees to my chest; my midwife tells me to breathe her down, so I focus on keeping my breaths even and deep while I push; Pokey is by my head, holding my hand; I feel the ring of fire (something else I don't remember from last time, and wow, what a sensation); I feel when her head, and then her shoulders emerge; finally I'm told, "take your baby!" and I reach down to pull Asha into my chest. 

She's so tiny, I thought. So much tinier than I thought she would be. I worried for about a second, until she let out a loud, angry cry. She turned pink right away.  Healthy and perfect. I felt so much love for her during those first few moments, despite still being in shock over what had just happened.

We waited a bit for the cord to stop pulsing, and just as they were about to cut it, my husband rushed in. All he said was, 'Oh!" and he looked rather dazed as they immediately handed him the scissors so he could cut the cord. He missed the birth by about 5 minutes.

We forgive him






That is how Asha entered the world, only 2.5 hours after my first contraction. Moon Cheese does what Moon Cheese wants, after all.



I received a shot of pitocin in the thigh due to some heavier-than-expected bleeding, and delivered the placenta easily. Once I was cleaned up and checked, they propped me up in bed and left us alone to marvel at our creation for a while. We laughed at her enormous feet, were amazed by how she already loved to suck on her hands. She has a very strong latch and nursed well from the beginning. A perfect specimen, all around.

Pokey picked up Amaliya early from school and brought her over to meet her sister, only an hour after she was born. Amaliya walked in nervously, overwhelmed and obviously very excited. She was thrilled to meet her sister, climbing into bed with us and showering her with kisses immediately. She got to "help" with measuring and examining the baby and watched with amazement as they trimmed the umbilical cord.  I was so proud of how maturely she handled the situation, especially considering how surprised and overstimulated she was by the whole thing.


Moral support






 


 

And then, 3 hours after the birth.... we were home!  Pokey picked us up dinner, Kunle dropped Amaliya off at my parents' house for the night, and we settled in for a long, sleepless, yet blissful first night with Asha.

It's a nice feeling, to know that your family is complete.

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