September 30, 2009

road trip!

During what may still prove to be a considerable lapse in judgment on everyone's part, a couple of weeks ago we invited ourselves out to visit some friends who bought a farm in Springdale, and they accepted. For us, that means five hours in the car with our seven week old baby. Each way. For them, it means hosting us and said baby for the weekend. In their house.

Since we really have no way to predict how Lincoln is going to handle such a long car ride, this may be a very unpleasant weekend for all of us!

Stay tuned to find out!

September 26, 2009

trial and error

It seems to me that this baby-raising thing involves a lot more trial and error than one would think. There are so many things to figure out based on your particular baby's temperament, size, tendencies, and personality that you just can't really do until your baby is born and you've spent some time getting to know them. For someone like me, who loves to research and plan things out in advance, that's been a bit of a challenge for me to adapt to!

I've already documented a bit about our search for the perfect baby carrier here, although my writing and photos have only scratched the surface of the carriers that we've purchased and tried (all second-hand, at least 50% off!), much to my husband's chagrin. We've also been through a half-dozen cloth diaper covers in search of the perfect combination of a good fit around those chubby little thighs and leak protection that will survive at least part of the night. Then there was the obvious clothing obstacle, as we didn't realize until Lincoln arrived that those adorable little newborn size onesies were never going to fit him with his overachiever's body.

At this point in time, a little over six weeks after Lincoln was born, we've gotten many of those things hammered out. The one glaring exception to this, and the one that impacts me the most personally and directly, has to do with sleep. And that's not sleep quantity- as our little monkey is a great sleeper and consistently gets around 12 hours a night, going down some time between 7 and 9 pm, and sleeping until 7 or 9 in the morning. There's some variation depending on how much he naps during the day, but overall we've lost very little sleep so far, and I think that might be a miracle!

So the issue we're having with sleep is not how much we're getting, but where and how we're getting it, or more specifically, how I'm getting it. Since those first nights in the hospital, Lincoln has slept on my chest or by my side so we have easy access to nurse every one-and-a-half to two hours. That was fine when he was a little newborn (not that he ever really was), but now that he's over thirteen pounds and he's working on two feet long, it's getting to be considerably less comfortable for me to sleep with him on top of me all night long!

Thankfully, as he's gotten a little bit older, he sleeps for longer stretches at a time, and now when he first goes down for the night he usually stays asleep for four to five hours. He's also fairly easy to relocate during this stretch, so we're able to move him from downstairs (where he falls asleep with us watching tv) to our room when we're ready to go to bed. He starts out the night in the cosleeper, and I bring him to the bed the first time he wakes up, usually around 1 or 2 am. He eats and falls back asleep, and I do too. Lincoln's happy and snug as a bug, but unfortunately, I'm sleeping sitting up with the equivalent of an oversized sack of flour on top of me! And no, he won't let me put him back in the cosleeper. He wakes up the instant I put him down, and no amount of soothing or patting or reassuring him that I'm still there will convince him that he should fall asleep again.

And while having him so close does make nursing easy, part of my problem is that it almost makes it too easy. Lincoln has no problem eating from 3am until 6 or 6:30, while maintaining sleep, and seemingly without interruption. You can only imagine what those marathon feeding sessions do to the delivery devices. By morning, not only is my back stiff, but I feel like a human pacifier. I feel like there's just too much temptation, and if he would just go down in the cosleeper maybe he would forget for a minute about eating and I could also lie down and get some relief.

And so, a couple weeks ago, after a particularly uncomfortable night, I found this on Craigslist and went to pick it up. The owners were a sweet young couple, about our age, who related a story that sounded so familiar that I could have narrated it myself. Their daughter slept on mom- it was fine at first but after a while mom would give anything just to lie down, or sleep on her stomach for even an hour. They have the cosleeper, but daughter won't sleep in it. They heard that the cocoon works for a lot of babies, and they were willing to give it a try. They were willing to give anything a try! And now, a few short weeks later I found it on Craigslist. I'm an intelligent woman and I could sense the likely futility of this purchase, but I too was blinded by discomfort and was willing to try anything!

The first night I was thrilled to find that when we transferred him to the cocoon during his first stretch of sleep, everything went great and he slept until 1 am as usual. He woke, I fed him, and I returned him to the cocoon for another two hours. It worked! I was so excited and well rested that I could hardly contain myself. That is, until the next night- when we were right back where we started and he woke up as soon as I put him down. We've gone on in this manner ever since, until last night when I finally gave in. You see, we've had a solution at our disposal this whole time, but foolish pride has gotten in the way of us putting it to use.

The solution appears to be this devil of a swing- a gift from my sister that she insisted that we needed and that we have tried to return to the store twice with no success. I think we're opposed to the swing on principle more than anything. It's huge and cumbersome, made of plastic and obnoxious in its design, and then there's the fact that it takes FOUR D BATTERIES to operate it. I just can't stand the idea of the thing, so we left it in the box in the basement storage room until Lincoln was a few weeks old and we decided in a moment of weakness that since we couldn't return it, we might as well open it up and see if he likes it. Well, he doesn't. He LOVES it. It's the only place other than my lap that he'll nap during the day, and he calms down pretty much the instant we strap him in, mesmerized by the flashing lights and plush fish. More than one evening Gus and I have sat grumbling on the couch after we've spent half an hour walking, bouncing, snuggling, singing, swaddling, shushing, and otherwise attempting to calm Lincoln down only to put him down in the swing and have him go out like a light in two minutes.

So last night I finally requested that we swap the cocoon by my side of the bed with the blasted swing. I was worn down by the fact that on Thursday Lincoln spent the hours between 1 am and 5 am gnawing me raw, and I was determined that that be the last night of that. Ultimately, my comfort won out over pride, and I have to say- I slept like a dream last night! I brought him to bed with me from 1-3, and again from 5-6:30, and he stayed so long because I wanted him to, not because he wouldn't sleep elsewhere. The swing successfully lulled him to sleep during the in-between times, while I slept peacefully and horizontally! Woo hoo!

September 23, 2009

Grandma's brag book

My mom's birthday is tomorrow, and she's absolutely the worst person in the world to shop for. Instead of buying her something that she doesn't need or won't use, I decided to make her something that I hope she's going to love.

Every Grandma needs a brag book, right? And a hand made and embroidered fabric version must beat any one that you can find in a store.

I took apart an small basic photo album to rob the page inserts for mom's book, and hand embroidered the patch with a baby block pattern for the cover. There's a layer of soft but stiff interfacing to give the cover the weight that it needed, and the blanket stitch on the edges keeps it all together. The label with his name and birthday is printed on ink-jet fabric for a neat and tidy look, since I didn't think I could embroider cleanly so small.

I requested that Gus set up the tripod and take a family photo too, because we didn't have any pictures of the three of us and I'm sure Mom will appreciate it. We felt like the biggest nerds in the world posing like that in our living room, and it took a lot of takes to get one with all of us making a normal face, but I think it turned out okay.

Happy birthday Mom! Hope you enjoy it!

September 21, 2009

keep 'em covered!

The nursing cover was another one of those baby-registry things that I presumed that I would be able to do without. I figured that I could always just leave the room, or wear outfits that made discreet nursing easy, or cover up with a blanket if I felt really exposed. Plus, once I pulled one out of the package to inspect it, I realized that there was no way that I would ever consider paying for something I could very easily make myself if I ever changed my mind about the usefulness of such a thing.

Well- I did change my mind, as I sat in the corner of a busy restaurant's outdoor patio at lunchtime, nursing Lincoln under cover of a flimsy receiving blanket that I carefully held with my teeth while adjusting him on my lap. It became all too clear that those silly squares of fabric with their essential little neck straps really might have a place in my life after all. So I made one!

One of the things I love about making things myself is that it gives me the opportunity to customize things and sometimes even improve upon the original design. So I did a couple of things to modify the basic cover idea to make it suit my needs a little better. I had a piece of the Heather Bailey fabric left over from Dizzle's mixer cover, and it seemed to be about the right size for the project, so I got to work.

First I added a strip of flannel receiving blanket to the bottom hem on the underside, both to provide a little weight to keep the cover in place while I'm using it, and also to work as a handy clean-up rag for any dribbles that might occur.

And since I really don't like how the neck straps of most of the major brand covers have a dangling strap that you pull to tighten it up, I used some hardware that I had purchased for the Cupcake Apron to make mine adjustable in a slightly different way.

I had some boning that I purchased for something or another along the way, so I added that to the neckline so I can peek down at Lincoln while he nurses. That's a feature that the commercial brands have that I might not have thought of, and I think it's kind of brilliant.

I haven't tried my cover out in public yet, but I imagine it will be much easier than my blanket-in-mouth method, and more stylish as well.

September 18, 2009

history repeats

Since the moment that Lincoln was pulled from the womb, people have asked us (and we have wondered) just who he looks like. We have consistently replied that we didn't really think that he looked like either of us, what with the reddish peach-fuzz hair and the still softly defined baby features.

But then I remembered the photo album* that my mother-in-law brought me a few months back and now it's all very clear.

I snapped this pic of Lincoln a couple of weeks ago.

And this one is of his daddy, at around four months.

I know! Right?

But wait. It gets better!

No, we didn't stage this photo. It's pure coincidence that the composition is so (eerily?) similar. And clearly, those genes are powerful. He's definitely his daddy's boy. Mystery solved.

*You might recall this little gem that I posted before.

September 17, 2009

mei tai carrier

Since we haven't had much luck finding a baby carrier that Lincoln fits well in and will tolerate, I decided to try making my own. I used Meg's mei tai pattern that I picked up at a local quilting shop.

The fabric came from my stash- it was a shower curtain in our second bathroom in its previous life. The size provided plenty of yardage for the extra wide and long straps and the main body. I lined the carrier with a soft yellow fabric from an old dress shirt that Gus doesn't wear anymore.

The pattern came together quickly and was super easy to follow. There is an error on one of the pattern pieces regarding how many pieces to cut, but I was able to figure it out from the instructions before it tripped me up. Overall, I'm happy with the result and it gives us one more option in our baby wearing wardrobe.

September 14, 2009

the best thing ever

I love the little smiles and coos that Lincoln gives us now! Turns out that there is nothing like a gummy little grin to absolutely make your day.

September 12, 2009

birth story, part III

For part I of the story, click here. For part II, here.

Alright, so at the end of the last installment, we were being chauffeured to the hospital by sweet Jenny, the student midwife. It's about seven am, and I've been in hard, active labor for nearly eleven hours but have little to show for it except exhaustion.

We arrived at UW and our midwife Heather took us inside to get checked in. Thankfully, although our midwives aren't directly affiliated with or allowed to practice in any hospitals, they have developed a good rapport with the midwife team at UW and Heather had already contacted them to let them know we were on the way. When we got to the Labor & Delivery floor the nurses knew exactly who we were and we were shown to a room right away.

I was shaking and continuing to have contractions while people were buzzing around doing whatever it is that they do in this scenario. I was getting an IV, someone was taking my vitals, and questions were being fired away at all of us. At one point, the entire team of OB doctors, the anaesthesiologist, and nurses were packed into our room, along with our entourage of three midwives, our doula, and the two of us. It was a full house to say the least, but despite all the attention, it seemed as though nothing was happening. I could feel his frustration and tension as hubby was trying to comfort me, and I know he wanted to tell them all to just get the hell out.

The doctors offered me a Cesarean immediately, which we fiercely rejected. We were there to rest, and then to continue with a natural labor and delivery as if we were still at home. Our birth plans directed these wishes, and our team was there to make sure that we didn't fall victim to the hospital bureaucracy and have our plan derailed.

Although our preparation in our Bradley class had been focused largely on the goal of achieving a fully natural birth, our instructor (and doula) Betsy had also made it very clear that drugs can have a place and may even be useful when they are not abused. In situations like mine, where the baby was poorly positioned but my body was trying to push it out anyway, it can be beneficial to have a short epidural to relax the uterine muscle a bit. The pain relief it provided meant that I got a mental and physical break from the work, and could try to take a nap while my body (hopefully) continued to progress.

It took forever for everything to get arranged and for me to finally receive the relief I was craving. The anaesthesiologist arrived after an incredibly long hour, and administered a combination epidural/spinal block while Gus held my hand and comforted me between my still persistent contractions. With the epidural in place, the UW docs gave me another exam and discovered that I was holding at 7 cm and my cervix was swollen and Baby's head was too, as it was trying to mold to the opening. They also inserted an intrauterine pressure catheter to measure the strength of my contractions during this process.

Since I wasn't able to feel them anymore and epidural has a tendency to decrease the strength of contractions, we opted for a low dose of pitocin to counteract that effect and see if we could encourage my cervix to finish dilating. This was exactly the cycle of interventions that we had wanted to avoid by birthing at home, but we agreed to the plan after we were reassured that the doses would be as low as possible and that the process would be abandoned if there was any evidence that it was causing a negative reaction in the baby.

By this time it was after 9 am, and the attending doctor was recommending a two hour trial. If there was still no change by eleven, she might insist on a c-section. Betsy didn't appreciate the ultimatum or the time limit, and she intervened with the resident and the midwife on our behalf asking them to ensure that any decisions were ultimately left up to us, and that we be provided with evidence and options. Everyone expressed understanding and support of our desire to continue with as natural a birth as possible, and Gus and I were left alone in the room to try to rest while our wonderful nurse Robin continually monitored the Baby and me.

The pitocin dose was increased, but despite that, my contractions had slowed to almost nothing and I was no longer in active labor. Nurse Robin was starting to worry about the baby, as it seemed that even with the weak and spaced out contractions I was having, he wasn't responding well. His heart rate dropped enough that she turned the pitocin off completely by 10 and put an oxygen mask on me to see if that would help. Betsy later told us that Robin was being extra vigilant monitoring us and was careful to act quickly so she could avoid calling in the doctors unnecessarily and hindering our ability to labor as we wanted. Her actions seemed to be working, and the oxygen helped regulate things until 11 when the docs were scheduled to come back in to check on us.

The epidural and spinal block had worn off by that point, and Betsy asked if I thought that I might want to try moving into a hands and knees position and try to work on turning the baby. I agreed, and we enlisted Robin to help organize all my tubes and help us with the fancy adjustable bed. I was on all fours trying some pelvic rocking when the rest of the OB team arrived to do another exam. It turned out that Betsy had carefully orchestrated this scene- hoping that if the team came in and saw me actively engaged rather than just lying there waiting, they would see our persistence and respect our determination. Such a clever and crafty advocate! I'm really glad that she was there with us, as we were too tired and emotionally spent to be looking out for ourselves.

Despite all the efforts, the exam at 11:20 revealed that I was still 7 cm with a swollen cervix, and Baby was straight OP. His heart rate started to plummet during the exam and I could feel the mood of the room change. Robin and the doctors went from casual to alert mode, and then one of them said that there was meconium in my fluid. We knew that fetal distress often led to Baby passing his first bowel movement in utero, and we also knew that this meant it was probably time to accept further intervention. We agreed that the signs were indicating that this baby was not intending to be born vaginally, and our efforts were not likely to change that. His response to everything so far was also not reassuring anyone that he would tolerate more labor. With many tears and much emotion, we finally accepted the plan for Cesarean.

I was wheeled into the operating room just before noon, and was soon joined by Gus, who held my hand and reassured me despite the fact that I know he was a wreck himself. We even had a laugh when the surgeons cut me open and one of them exclaimed "Wow! That's a big baby!" They asked if he wanted to see, and Gus bravely stood up and looked over the drape at 12:25 pm when our son was born. Gus took some photos while they took Lincoln aside to be weighed and cleaned up, and then Gus cut the cord. They brought Lincoln over to me within just a couple of minutes, and put him on my chest so we could get acquainted. We even breastfed a little bit while they were stitching me back up.

Lincoln was swaddled up and placed on my bed to be wheeled back into our room, where Betsy greeted us and we all immediately burst into tears. She couldn't believe how huge he was, as her babies had both been just over five pounds at birth. Our little guy eats babies like hers for breakfast. And follows that up with an hour on the breast! What?

Since Betsy is also a lactation consultant and a La Leche League leader, she helped us get going on Lincoln's first real meal. We unwrapped his swaddle and put him on my chest so we were skin to skin, and let him find the breast instinctively. It's so amazing to watch an infant, just moments old, bob and scoot his way to a nipple and latch himself on. We marveled over our perfect little baby for a while, and then Betsy left us so we could finally try to get some real sleep.

Although the final hours were nothing like what we had imagined they would be, we are lucky to still be able to say that we had a positive birth experience. The time at home was just what we wanted, and the hospital staff was wonderful and respectful of our desires. Add our awesome birth team to that mix, and we are nothing but grateful for the experience. We have a beautiful son and he's thriving. I feel so lucky and blessed to have such an amazing family!

For a selection of photos of Lincoln's birth day, use this invitation link to visit a non-public set on flickr. And don't worry, they're all safe for viewing!

September 9, 2009

sweater refashion

This refashion was one of the things I did during the last weeks of my pregnancy, but I wanted to wait until my giant belly had deflated a little bit before I took a photo of the finished product. The shrug style wasn't very flattering on a super pregnant belly!

I received this blue sweater along with the brown knit shirt and some other items from a friend a few months ago, with the blessing to use them in any manner I saw fit. Some of the items made their way into my maternity wardrobe as-is, and the rest went to my fabric stash or into a pile to be refashioned and worn once my shape reappeared.

The style was pretty basic to begin with, with a v-neck, wide ribbing at the sleeves and hemline, and a little bit of ruching at the shoulder.

To transform it, I used the simple and inspired technique described on Cut Out + Keep for a t-shirt shrug, which I saw first on Vively Online.

By just cutting the sweater up the middle and adding a channel for the twill-tape tie, I've got a brand new cover up that will be perfect for the transition into fall. I love this concept and it will probably be something that I will repeat, whether with a t-shirt as intended, or other simple shirts that need a transformation.

The ruching on this particular sweater, combined with the slightly too-large size of the original makes it a little bit baggy in the bust once all that fabric is gathered up, so I may go back and slim it up a bit now that things are returning to normal with my shape. Other than that- I love the result for such an easy project. I highly recommend trying this!

September 4, 2009

measuring our success in dimples and fat rolls

We got some surprising news at the midwife yesterday when we discovered that our little baby monkey is already tipping the scales at 11 lbs 15 oz! That's practically 12 pounds, folks. He only turned three weeks old on Tuesday, and already he's gained two pounds!

He's also already moved on to the 3-6 month clothing in our collection, a fact that his father is incredibly proud of. It's obviously a testament to our parenting ability that we have made such a big healthy boy!

Mostly this just means that the boy is absolutely insatiable. He continues to spend most of his waking hours (and some of his sleeping ones) firmly attached to my breasts. It makes getting things done a bit of a challenge, especially because he doesn't seem to like the sling, so nursing while wearing the baby, as the books suggest will make my life so much easier, isn't really possible at this point. Thankfully, since he'll no doubt be walking in a week or two, we won't have to worry about that for long!

September 2, 2009

the Fit is go!

Since we've had our small yet surprisingly roomy car, we've used it to haul all manner of slightly inappropriate and over-sized things home. For example: there was the time we drove with a giant piece of lumber stretched diagonally from the back left corner to the passenger side dashboard, and the time we had the two ten-foot copper pipes sticking out the open passenger window and resting on the side-view mirror for the ride home.

But it's the latest trip that in my opinion, takes the cake.

In case you too are a city-slicker and unfamiliar with such things, that's a bale of straw. And if you're wondering what in the hell we were thinking, buying an entire bale of straw, I really wish you would have been with us at Haye's Feed store when we made the decision to do so. You clearly think much more logically than we do.

The reason for the straw, of course, was that we had just harvested our onion patch and we had a lot of onions. One of the books we bought suggested storing your onions in the basement or cellar, layered with untreated wood chips in a box to discourage mold growth and in this way you can keep them for months until you're ready to eat them. We have a basement, and we had a box, but we didn't have any wood chips. Thankfully though, we have a feed store just a few blocks away.

This feed store is complete with all the essential components that you could hope for. There are bins of various types of bird seeds, sacks of animal food of all types, and even an old man that it wasn't clear was an employee, who was sitting on a stool doling out advice. His advice to us, was that we didn't need wood chips, we needed straw. And given that we didn't have any reason to doubt this wise old man, we said sure! Straw! A whole bale of straw? Indeed! A bale of straw sounds perfectly reasonable! Let's stuff it in the hatchback of our tiny car! Mind the baby in the back seat- he's new!

And now we know that a whole bale of straw will indeed fit in the back of a Honda Fit. 'Cause we were curious. And we also now know that a bale of straw contains A LOT of straw. Turned out that we needed about 1/30 of that bale. But now we have extra to spread over our garden beds. And for seasonal decor come Halloween and Thanksgiving. And for all those other things that you need straw for. We're prepared for that too. Thank goodness.

September 1, 2009

birth story, part II

For part I of the story, go here:

So- when we left off, we had just resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to be having a baby that night, and I was convinced that I had gulped down 10 oz of emulsified Ensure and castor oil deliciousness for absolutely nothing.

And then...

All of a sudden I started having pretty powerful contractions. It started at 7:45 pm and they were almost instantly 3 minutes apart and over one minute long. Our instructions from the midwives and all of our training told us that it was the real deal when we got to 4-1-1. That is: contractions four minutes apart, one minute long, and that pattern continuing for one hour. I had been expecting to gradually work up to that though, not to dive right in, and I was still skeptical that this was anything more than another false alarm. I took a shower and things didn't slow down, and I was having bloody show, so I started to pay a little closer attention.

By 8:25 we contacted our doula to let her know that there had been a turn-around from earlier. Things seemed to be progressing pretty quickly, but we were still fine.

At 8:45 we contacted her again, and told her that we didn't need her to come yet, but we were wondering if we should order the tub. She suggested that we do that, as it takes a couple of hours for them to get everything set up and the tub filled.

I started to really have to focus on the contractions at this point, and I was pacing the house and trying to remember to breathe and relax through the contractions when they came. I was having a lot of back pain with each contraction, and it was essential that Gus be there to apply serious pressure to my lower back in order for me to tolerate them. He was forced to basically follow me around the house and then start pushing when I turned around and started breathing deeply. Despite the fact that I wasn't able to communicate my needs very well, he was so patient and eager to help, I'm so grateful for that.

By 9 pm we decided that it was time to get Betsy the doula over. I was getting more serious and I could tell that this was "it". I didn't think it was time for the midwife yet, but I wanted someone else to be there that had been through this before. When Betsy arrived at 9:45, my contractions were coming 2 minutes apart and were 1 minute long. She spent her first few minutes just observing the scene, she said that she didn't want to change the dynamic of what we had going on. I appreciated that, as I felt that we were doing pretty well on our own and I didn't want anyone telling me what to do at that point.

I remember telling her that I felt "indecisive" when she asked me how I was, and that was really the best word I could think of for what I was feeling. Her and hubby were asking me if I wanted to call the midwife, and if I wanted to change positions or eat something, and all I could think was "I don't know!" I'd never been through anything like this before, and despite all of our preparation, I didn't have any idea what would help or not at the time. I was trying to just listen to my body and respond in what seemed like the most natural way, and most often that involved just pacing and bracing myself on the wall for each contraction.

Betsy commented that I seemed to be handling things really well, and that to look at me you wouldn't even know that I was in hard labor. I remember being kind of irritated by that comment, because it was so real and intense for me and I felt like she was downplaying my experience. I told her "Oh believe me, it hurts like hell. If this isn't the real deal, then I don't want it."

The labor tub had arrived by this point, and the woman who was setting it up was moving back and forth between our kitchen and dining room getting it filled. Betsy helped her out and Gus and I moved to the bedroom to labor for awhile. By 10:45 the contractions were really strong and they were coming one on top of the next with very little break. By 11 I was shaking and crying and felt like I was losing control.

I was kneeling on the bed over the yoga ball so I could get my requisite back rub for each contraction when my water broke. I felt a little pop and a gush and I jumped up from the bed and tried to get onto the hardwood as quickly as I could. Even in the middle of labor, I remember still being concerned about dripping blood and fluid on the bed and the rug, and Betsy had to tell me more than once that this was going to be a messy project and I really should probably give my OCD a break for the evening.

With amniotic fluid still running down my legs, I made my way to the shower and cleaned up. Gus was there on back-rub duty, although my contractions had slowed and spaced out a little at this point. The midwives arrived at about 11:30 and took my vitals and checked on Baby. They needed to administer the group b strep antibiotics before they could give me an internal exam, since my ruptured membranes meant that there was an increased risk of infection. There was some trouble getting my veins to cooperate, and as I'm writing this two weeks later, I still have a bruise on my hand from the botched job!

I was really shaky and vomited after the antibiotics but by 1 am I was in my warm, wonderful labor tub and I was feeling so much better. The midwives were concerned that the tub would slow my labor, but the opposite actually proved to be true. Soon my contractions were coming 20-30 seconds apart and they were each over a minute and a half long. After about an hour and a half in the tub, I started feeling like I needed to push. It seemed too early to me, but the relief that came with pushing with each contraction was awesome, so they told me to just listen to my body and do what I felt like I needed to do.

An exam around 3 am revealed that I was only about 7 cm dilated, but my cervix was soft and flexible. The midwife suggested that I try not to push anymore until I was completely dilated, and I got out of the tub to try some walking. In the tub I was falling asleep between each contraction, but walking around forced me to focus on the work we were doing. Another exam at 4:45 revealed that my cervix had not dilated any more and Baby's head had not descended any more. I was getting frustrated by the lack of progress we were making, so our midwife Heather suggested that we start working harder to see if we could get things going.

Heather's idea involved Gus and I walking the stairs, and spending each contraction in a lunge position with one leg up two stairs higher than the one below. This position was supposed to help open my pelvis and encourage Baby to turn into a more favorable position. By this time, it was obvious that he was Occiput Posterior, or "sunny-side-up", meaning that he was facing straight up in my pelvis instead of to one side or the other. This position means that baby's spine is grating right along mom's spine, and that explained my persistent back labor. OP also has a tendency to give a mother a premature urge to push, which doesn't do anyone any good.

So we spent about an hour working our way down and then back up the stairs, leaning and pushing through each contraction despite the horrendous misery it was causing me. I was pretty fed up by this point, to be honest. I was exhausted, and my body was still being racked by contractions every couple of minutes.

The contractions had a new element after this point, and instead of peaking and then fading away, they came with a bonus end feature that made me feel as though my uterus was folding in half and flexing with the most intense force I have ever experienced. I was doubling up and pushing against the hallway wall, moaning and attempting to ride out the extreme urge to push that I was feeling. There was no rest, and I remember just wishing that I would reach transition so I could have a break.

Everything we read and learned in class said that transition was often marked by a feeling of hopelessness and the sense that you just couldn't do it anymore, so my attitude was actually giving me some hope that I was getting close to being done. Unfortunately, another exam at 6am showed no further progress. I was holding at 7 cm dilation, and Heather could feel Baby's head fixed in the same position that he had been, no lower and no closer to being born.

My cervix was starting to swell, but Heather offered to try pushing back on my cervix while I tried to push, to see if we could get him past this stuck point. I was willing to try anything, and it was just as awful as you would imagine. Her fingers were inside of me stretching my cervix tight, pushing up while I gave my best effort to push him down. Unfortunately, it was all for nothing, and the midwives had a chat about options with Betsy while Gus and I worked through some more contractions in the hall.

Betsy came to us a few minutes later, and said that the midwives agreed that it was probably time to start thinking about a transfer. They had been monitoring me and Baby regularly all night long, and there was no indication that it was dangerous for me to continue laboring if that was what I wanted to do, but there was also no indication that anything would change if we did. It seemed as though our not-so-little Lincoln had gotten himself good and wedged, and our efforts to correct that didn't appear to be working.

We had spent months preparing for this labor, and we had a very definite idea of what we wanted to have happen. A trip to the hospital had no place in our plan, and in fact I had even had a hard time writing the worst-case scenario "plan c" birth plan that even allowed for the possibility of this event.

That being said, however, I was more than ready to go when they suggested that we pack up and move our project at this point. I was absolutely ready for a rest and some relief from the non-stop discomfort that I had been experiencing for the last 11 hours straight. Hubby was not so amenable to the decision, and in fact the decision to leave home really upset him.

Once we made up our minds to leave, the midwives and doula were amazing. They went into overdrive and got us packed up and out the door in record time. Jenny (one of the student midwives) offered to drive our car so Gus could sit in the back with me holding my head in his lap and rubbing my back while I had contractions during the million-year long drive to UW Medical Center during the morning commute hours.

Alright. That's enough for tonight- stay tuned for the finale!