Saturday, December 27, 2014

The story of Miriam's birth.

There are two ways to look at Miriam's birth; either I was in labor for one hour or I was in labor for six weeks.

I had my first bout of prodromal labor at 35 weeks. And I worried because I knew that was too early for a homebirth. The next week or so was tense for me as I prayed labor would hold off till 37 weeks. Every couple days I'd have regular contractions for 5 or 6 hours at a time, not painful, but enough to exhaust and frustrate me. The prodromal labor also caused huge hormonal changes that made me weepy. I prepared our extra room. The birth pool was aired up, the birth art and affirmations banner I made were hung. Everything was ready. 37 weeks came and went and the erratic contractions continued.

By the time my due date rolled around it became clear we wouldn't be having a November baby. And I assumed labor would come along at any time since Gideon was born at 39 weeks and Zeke at 40. But no such luck. Every day I'd have some contractions but they would dissolve into nothing at bedtime and I would dissolve into tears. My wonderful doula Cindy came over and we talked a bunch about what fears I might have that might be keeping me from wanting to go into labor and we also checked Miriam's positioning. She was turned to the side a little so we did some belly massage and turned her to the perfect position for birth and she happily stayed there. I could feel Miriam moving and she felt huge.

At the end of the week I went and had acupuncture done. Laying in the chair in the dark room I realized how unready I was to be done with this pregnancy. This pregnancy had been a pretty awful time in my life. Morning sickness had made it hard for me to care for the boys, then my hand injury made it totally impossible. I had surgery on my hand and couldn't even care for myself. Then the
boys got staph and I had to be extra careful not to touch them too much because I had an open
incision in my hand. I thought all sickness and injuries were behind us but the next month held two ER visits for Zeke and a call to poison control, followed by a month of Silas needing traveling for business. I had intended to stay active and enjoy an uneventful pregnancy and the opposite had happened and it was the most stressful time in my life. And I hated that it happened that way and wished I could have a do over and I started crying in the chair with all the needles in. Silas and I talked through everything that night. He reminded me that there is no perfect pregnancy, no perfect birth, and if I was expecting that I was not being accepting of what was actually happening.

The next day my midwife, Bev, came to my house for my 41 week appointment. We talked about the day before and how I was pretty much in denial of how my pregnancy had gone. One of my birth affirmations is "I am accepting what is happening right now." And we talked about how that might apply to what had happened in the past couple months. I asked her to check me and I wasn't dilated at all but quite effected. I wasn't disappointed, though. I was feeling so peaceful after addressing my feelings about my pregnancy. Bev said she'd need me to go get an ultrasound on Wednesday to check my fluid levels if I didn't go into labor before then. On Friday I'd be 42 weeks if I hadn't had her by then we'd have to consult with an OB.

Cindy called to see how my appointment had gone and I told her much of what I'd told Bev about where I was at mentally. I felt like the boys were all growing up so fast and I knew as soon as Miriam was born she would start growing up too and I wasn't ready for it. We talked about how important it was to dwell in the moment and to let go of the past and the future. I couldn't control any of it anyway! I imagined myself with open hands - accepting of what was happening and letting go of my desire to control everything. More on and off contraction for the next four days.

On Wednesday I went in for an ultrasound. It was very brief, less than ten minutes. My midwife had ordered a fluid check only so they didn't do a weight estimation, thankfully. My fluid levels turned out to be not only adequate but very good. At my appointment afterwards Bev praised my nutritious eating habits for making such a healthy place for Miriam to grow. She checked me again and I was
dilated to a 3. I had her strip my membranes and then went to another acupuncture appointment. I didn't have more than the usual contractions but I started losing pieces of mucus plug.

Friday rolled around. 42 weeks. I went to see Bev and she asked me what I was thinking and I told her I wanted to have a baby today and was thinking castor oil. She said I was the perfect candidate for castor oil because I was dilating and effacing and Miriam's heart rate was good and this might just tip me into active labor. She gave me a recipe for a castor oil smoothie and some lemon verbena to add to it that was supposed to mitigate its laxative effects. She checked me again and I was dilated to 4 and she said I was almost completely effaced and very, very soft. She also gave me the names of two homeopathic tablets that I could get if I wanted.

I went to Whole Foods when I left Bev's and bought castor oil, the homeopathic tablets, pineapple, and I was supposed to get a neutral tasting nut butter but I forgot. Silas was at home with the boys so I decided to treat myself to lunch. I bought sushi, which I'd avoided my whole pregnancy, and a chocolate cupcake. I sat in the cafe and ate and thought. I felt so calm and at peace. I thought about the affirmation "I am accepting what is happening right now." And it felt true for me.

When I got home I made a smoothie of orange juice, pineapple, castor oil and lemon verbena. I was supposed to add the nut butter (also to keep the poops at bay) but since I forgot it I used peanut butter. The castor oil taste wasn't that strong but the lemon peanut butter taste I will remember till I die. Bleh. I started having regular contractions around 4pm. but they weren't very strong and had petered out by 8pm so I made a second smoothie. Nothing. My light contractions stopped. Nothing. I cried on Silas's shoulder and we went to bed around 10:30.

I woke up a couple hours later and ran to the bathroom. I was waiting for this. Some people get violently ill from using castor oil - that was not the case for me, but I did have the runs. When I finished pooping my guts out I stood up and HELLO! A contraction started. I big one. A long one. It just kept going and I started moaning and the. yelling through it. I walked over the sink and had another which I had to vocalize through. When it was over I yelled for Silas. He was sleeping so I had to yell a couple times but he rushed in once he heard me. I had another contraction and it left me breathless. I told him to call Cindy. I'd only had 3 contractions and knew this was it and it was HARD. It was around 1AM.

He called Cindy and she asked to talk to me. I only managed a few sentences before I handed the phone back to Silas to focus on a contraction. She said she was on her way. I tried to relax through the next contraction and I couldn't do it. It was so intense. Silas said he was going to call Bev but I urged him to wait till Cindy got there because the plan was to have her come for the first part of labor and then call Bev when it got more serious. But Silas insisted. I found out later that Cindy called her on her way over to tell her she'd better come right away. Bev answered when Silas called and heard me roaring in the background and said she was leaving immediately.

Silas helped me back to bed but already it was feeling like too much. I remember telling him "This is like back labor!" And "This is so hard, why is it so hard?!" I also remember feeling like if I was in a hospital I'd have an epidural. Anything to make it stop. Everything started to blur together. Cindy came in and I felt really comforted by her presence. I was laying on my side and Silas was behind me on the bed and Cindy was kneeling on the floor next to me. She put some lavender oil on her hands and had me smell it. The contractions were so overwhelming and the lavender was distracting and comforting. Cindy and Silas were both saying encouraging things but I don't remember any of it very clearly.

Then at the end of an especially long contraction I gave an involuntary push. I said "I think I'm pushing!" I wanted to get away. I imagined climbing up the wall but I couldn't move. I should have recognized it as transition but it was happening so fast I didn't think it was possible. I'd just had my first contraction 30 minutes ago! I think I was saying "I don't want to push, I don't want to push!" Cindy reminded me I could just try to pant through that urge if I wanted. I later learned she also texted Bev that I was pushing. I could feel Miriam moving down a little with every contraction.

Bev came in and immediately started setting up her stuff. I told her I couldn't do this for hours and she assured me I wouldn't have to. I wasn't so sure after my 6 hour pushing ordeal with Zeke. We had planned that I would hold off pushing for as long as possible to try to avoid another long pushing phase but I couldn't stop these little pushes my body was doing at the end of each monstrous contraction. And with each little push I felt her move down.

Suddenly, I HAD to push and I told Cindy to hold my leg. I pushed and my water broke. SO MUCH FLUID! Cindy looked down and saw me crowning. Before I knew it her head was out and I never felt the ring of fire like I did with the boys. I reached down to feel her head and remembered thinking "That wasn't bad." I had to wait for another contraction to push out her body which took about a minute. I was a little worried about shoulder dystocia since I was pretty sure she was a big a baby, but then the contraction came and I pushed with it and she just slid out.

I think I said something like "I can't believe she's out already!" And Bev handed her up to me. She was born at 1:56; less than an hour after my first contraction, thirty minutes after Cindy arrived, and 15 minutes after Bev arrived. Kate, the birth assistant, walked in while I was crowning. Miriam still had some vernix on her and she had that beautiful newborn smell. She looked like both of the boys and yet so much like herself. She looked so familiar! It later occurred to me that it was because she looked just like my newborn pictures and that's why it felt like I'd seen her before. I was insistent that she not wear a hat since there was recently a study that showed babies don't really lose body heat through their heads and the smell on the baby's head is instrumental in establishing bonding,

I felt completely euphoric. I couldn't believe it happened so fast and it was so easy. I didn't have to try, my body just did its job perfectly. And her delivery was so smooth! She just came right out! It took a bit to deliver the placenta but I had no real conception of time at that point. Bev said my uterus wasn't clamping down and I was bleeding a bit too much so she was going to give me a pitocin shot in my thigh and good God that sucker hurt. I know I had just pushed a baby out but OUCH! My bleeding slowed quickly, though, and after a bit I cut the cord. Cindy whisked The placenta away to put a chunk of it in a smoothie, which was delicious, and the rest of it was encapsulated.

Bev measured her and she was 23 inches long. Then she weighed her and made some exclamation of disbelief. I asked how big she was and she said "11 pounds!" I couldn't believe it either because it was so easy! Bev said she was the biggest baby she'd ever delivered. Her head was 14.5 inches, just a bit smaller than Zeke's was. I had a tiny tear or, as Bev described it, a little split, but it never hurt at all. I hadn't torn with either of the boys but had been very bruised and sore for many days after birth, but I had none of that with Miriam. I couldn't believe I had just given birth.

Third time is the charm; it was my perfect birth experience. I wouldn't have changed anything about it. It happened even better and more perfectly than I'd dared to hope. I never used or even filled the birth pool. I didn't have a single contraction in the room I'd prepared. Never lit the candles, saw the birth art, or got the mattress protector on (Yes, gross). But I know every thing I did prepared me for my birth. I'd prepared and prepared and prepared and it all paid off in this whirlwind of a birth that was over before I knew it! Sorry to all of my mom friends who I've secretly hated for having short labors because I didn't believe it would ever be possible for me. And to my other mom friends, I forgive you if you secretly hate me now too.

Miriam is a sweet baby with a sunny disposition and a huge appetite. We all adore her and she fits so beautifully into our family. It already feels like she's always been here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Miriam Lovelace Snider

 She waited two extra weeks for her perfect birthday; 12/13/14.
Born at 1:56 AM after just one intense hour of labor weighing 11 pounds and measuring 23 inches long!
She the first Snider baby to look a lot like her mommy and is adored by all. It's amazing how perfectly she fits into our family already.

Full birth story to follow.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Sunday

This is just a quick post to say how thankful I am for an easy weekend with my husband and kids.

In the last days of June I severed a nerve in my hand while pitting avocadoes. I ended up having surgery. No driving, biking, or changing diapers. During this, my kids somehow contracted MRSA and were on several rounds of antibiotics and needed their bandages changed daily. Silas had to take time off to take care of all of us and drive us to frequent Dr. Appointments. As we all started to recover it was time for Autumn's beautiful wedding and all the busyness that entailed. Then we came home and Zeke got his hand smashed in a door and we had another ER visit for them to glue his fingers back together and more bandages to change daily. Then Silas started traveling for work and I'm in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy, and MAN, this summer has been a hard one.

But Silas got home Friday and we've enjoyed a beautiful weekend together and being a partner and a mother was just easy for the first time in a long time. And I am really grateful for that.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My second child; some thoughts on expectations and gentler parenting.

Zeke turned two on Saturday. Two years of mischievous smiles, two years of his sweet cuddles, and, to be honest, two years of parenting frustration.

Everything about what I expected from my second baby was, well, not what happened. I expected a shorter, easier labor, maybe a girl, if a boy, then a boy just like Gideon. Another good sleeper, another easy baby, another obedient, articulate, trophy toddler. None of that happened. Thinking about it now I don't know whether to laugh hysterically or kick my stupid first-time mom self in the butt.

Zeke's labor was long. I pushed for 6 hours. He only slept on me and never for longer than an hour or maybe two at night. He would scream and scream for no apparent reason. We eventually ended up with blood in his diapers - he could not tolerate any dairy. The screaming stopped but the sleeping never started.

About six months in, after not sleeping for longer than two hours at a stretch for, well, six months, cutting all diary from our diet, and trying to constantly control this baby who got into everything and threw the biggest tantrums I had ever witnessed, I started to realize that I was in way, way over my head. And that this little baby had something I hadn't really expected, a strong will and a big personality.

Gideon had hardly needed any discipline. He was happy to do whatever we asked and when he didn't respond the first time, a little slap on his thigh got him moving in the right direction. By the age of two he had thrown maybe 3 short lived tantrums? We laid him in his crib at 8 months and told him to go to sleep and guess what? He rolled over and went to sleep.

And this six month old? He refused to sleep unless being held, rocked even. He had thrown so many tantrums I had lost count. He always did the opposite of what you requested of him. And no little tap on the leg was going to motivate him to see me as boss. And that didn't change as he got older. As he approached a year he only became more like himself. More head strong. More disobedient. More and more frustrated by his lack of control of his life. Not unlike what I was experiencing myself.

I was so self-centered. I was upset that he wasn't making MY life easier. Upset he was making ME look bad. I was embarrassed by my not-perfect child. He was a baby and I was an adult and I still could not control him! He lost his temper at his brother and hit him. I picked him up and angrily exclaimed WE DO NOT HIT! And I hit him on his butt with my hand.

And it hit me. The ridiculousness of what I was doing. Telling him one thing and modeling another. That night I went back and read all of the posts on my favorite attachment parenting blogs about spanking. I homebirthed, breastfed on demand, wore my babies, co-slept, left our sons intact, at the time I also cloth diapered, but I held on to spanking because I thought it gave me control. But it didn't. The only thing it offered was the illusion of control and something to do when I was frustrated about not being in control.

The next six months were a journey. I had been building our relationship on control and force instead of on our bond of love and trust. There was no easy path. It took a long time, lots of work, and a lot of creative problem solving to make progress. But we made progress! In the beginning I would have to calmly wait out his tantrums, now I can usually end one by letting him know I'd like to help him solve his problem. In the beginning he would refuse to apologize for hitting or stealing toys. Now he usually apologizes quickly and amends his behavior.

Zeke has a lot more needs that need to be met than Gideon at this age; attention, assurance of my presence and availably to him, and an unhurried environment. He is also very sensitive to having low blood sugar. Making sure I am meeting his needs most of the time and telling him I am doing so helps him to know that I am doing my best to take care of him and makes it easier for him to be calm and patient in situations that are hard for him to handle.

The difference it has made in our relationship is huge. I used to feel like Zeke was always against me. But now I know, and he knows, that we are on the same team. We are learning to control ourselves together, to be patient together, to find solutions together. He still has rules, limits, clear guidelines for acceptable behavior, and consequences for destructive behavior. But we are working through it together with love and respect.

Note: This is my parenting journey. I'm not condemning anyone or telling anyone else how to parent and I hope you won't do that to me! I am simply sharing my experiences and what I have learned so far.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

30 Days of Biking

April is the month that we celebrate 30 days of biking. The point of it is just to raise awareness for daily biking and it's a fun excuse to try to ride your bike every day. I did not succeed in biking every day without fail, mostly due to morning sickness and/or pregnancy exhaustion (oh, hello, pregnancy announcement), but I did manage to bike more than my usual 2-3 times a week.

I started out the month strong. On April 1st I rode 30 miles, part of which included this ride with Madi. This was a personal best for me, milage-wise. The longest bike ride I've been on and for the first time I experienced actual chaffing. FUN. Also, maternity pants are not great for biking. I was so tired and sore when I got home I swore I'd never bike again and forget this whole 30 days of biking nonsense. Then Malora texted me "Wanna bike for coffee tomorrow?" and I was all "YES!" and that was that.

Monthly Totals
Days Biked: 20
Miles Logged: 85
Children Carried: 3

My final thoughts after this month is that pregnancy biking, for me, requires an e-assist. If Seattle were flatter I think we'd be ok. But THESE HILLS. They take me forever anyway and they take twice as long when I'm pregnant because I have to keep stopping for breath and water. So I'm saving all my monies and selling some of my excess stuff. And I'm working on a full scale launch of my rebranded business and website. So hopefully I will have one soon :)

Here's some pictures from our many bike adventures this month:
We like to bike to Dick's Drive-In for burgers, ice cream, and to visit Aunt Autumn who now works there.
Getting a drink on our way home from the Bike Rodeo. Gideon can ride up to 2 miles on his balance bike.
Visiting our neighborhood free tiny lending library.
First day of Preschool. First day of Preschool pick up by bike.
Heading out to the zoo! You can see my baby bump.
Zoo parking!

Trading balance bikes for awhile.
Our Costco load!
Meeting Malora and her kiddo for coffee.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bike for burgers.

Today was a beautiful day. Sunny, mostly warm, and not windy at all. It was the perfect day for a bike ride. And with my basement currently a hot mess while our rental company repairs flood damage from last week,  I needed even less motivation than usual to get out of the house!
 Zeke is happy because he is finally allowed to ride up on the deck instead of the rear Yepp seat. He's pleased with himself. Gideon rides on his own for at least a mile of our rides these days. We drag that balance bike all over town.
We had a pleasant ride into Lake City.
Gideon rode extra carefully down this hill as he had a wipe out on a hill last week that left him unscathed but embarrassed.
Eventually, though, we got near the busy part of the neighborhood and I had Gideon join Zeke on the bike. There's just not a safe place for him to ride.
We arrived at Dick's Drive-In and the boys got to spy on Aunt Autumn being trained. Maybe next time she'll pack our burgers!
The boys were in remarkably good humor despite the fact they haven't been napping well with their room all pulled apart. We weren't ready to go home yet but I didn't want to spend any more money as we prepare for our Pgh vacation. So, to the park!
One of my favorite things about the sides I made for my Bullitt is that you can just unclip them anytime you want. There was no seating at this park so I just unclipped one side and sat on my bike deck. Win!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Full circle.

I just signed up to go on our church's women's retreat. A weekend away with the women who make up an important part of our church body. Besides the fact that I LOVE PEOPLE, we are fairly new to this church so I am excited to get to spend some quality time getting to know these ladies.

There was a cost associated with this retreat and when I went to pay (online registration is the BEST) there was a box where you could enter a dollar amount to contribute to scholarships for those in our church for whom the cost would make the retreat impossible. It struck a chord with me and after checking with Silas (yay for budgeting!) I doubled the amount due so I could cover the cost of the retreat for someone else.

I bring this up not to pat myself on the back. Not to brag about how much money we have or how generous we are. I mention this small thing because I have spent more than half of my life being on the receiving end of such gifts. And it is hard to convey the joy I have in finally being able to pass this blessing on.

Our family was dirt poor when I was growing up. My mom was a single mom of four children. My father, a soldier, was out of the country for most of the year. And when I needed things, people in our church frequently paid for them. People gave us scholarships for 4h trips and homeschool field trips. Adventures to the roller dome, the water park, and the bowling alley. To movies, the zoo, even the lame and overpriced museum in our small town.

As I look back on my childhood I realize how many things my friends' moms paid for that I didn't even notice at the time. And I remember the money that would show up in our mailbox with no return address. And the boxes of food that would appear on our doorstep. And the bags of clothes and shoes. I remember the people who would invite us out to eat after church and then pay for our meal.

You know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your money was not wasted and it is bearing fruit.

Freely you have received. Freely give.
- Matthew 10:8

Monday, January 13, 2014

Groceries by bike.

My last great adventure of 2013 was a shopping trip to Costco. There are some things in life that I just have to do, things I can't give up. Shopping at Costco and getting lunch for dirt cheap in their food court is one of them.
 I'm not sure why I decided that riding to Costco was something I needed to do but I did and so on our first free day we went.
 It was less cold and rainy that it had been in awhile so we only had to wear sweatshirts. We later put on gloves too.
 Gideon brought a stick named Mr. Stick along for the ride.
 It's about a 5 mile trip and right in the middle of those 5 miles is an enormous hill on 155th. I almost didn't post this picture because it does NOT do the hill justice. I was already half way up this hill when I took picture. It is a truly monstrous hill. I tried so hard to make it up without having to walk my bike. But ended up have to take a breather.
 I always always take applesauce packets on bike rides for when I push myself too hard and need instant energy.
 I took the side off the Bullitt so I could sit on the deck and rest for about ten minutes. I cannot say enough good things about the sturdiness of the stand. Gideon helped Zeke have a drink.
 Once we were over that abominable hill, though, we reached the Interurban Trail which only had tiny hills and inclines.
So it was an easy 2.5 miles to Costco once we reached the trail.
 We did our shopping and indulged in our (my?) favorite treat, Costco pizza.
I bought two chickens, two loaves of bread, a giant bag each of lettuce and broccoli, and a Costco sized bottle of wine.
 Then we loaded up. I wrapped my ring sling around Zeke because I suspected he would fall asleep and biking with his head laying on my back is not my favorite.
 My suspicions were well founded and by the time we reached Central market he was asleep.
 I used the sling to cover up my Costco groceries when we went in.
 At Central Market we added to our load tortillas, cheese, spinach, butter, celery, lemons, limes, cake mix, jello, ricotta, whipping cream, ginger ale, orange juice, coffee, two pomegranates, and other bottle of wine.
The groceries, plus our bag of snacks, diapers, water bottles, etc... took up the whole deck so Gideon rode home on the top tube.
I made him a seat with the ever versatile ring sling and he stood on the little step that extends back from the deck.
 I considered trying to make it back up that hill on the way home without walking the bike but we came across this accident and I had to walk around it anyway.
 We returned home triumphant! I wondered if I would have bought more if I had been driving our minivan. It's possible, but I bought everything on my list and anything extra would probably have put me over budget anyway. Also, I didn't need to buy toilet paper.
The next week I also went grocery shopping by bike, this time because I lost the only key to my minivan. I opted for the shorter 1.5 mile trip to Fred Meyer. Here's a video from that ride.
I'm currently planning another Costco trip for the end of this week as I just used the last of my 5 lb. bag of chocolate chips...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pausing to ponder some incomplete thoughts.

It's more than a week into January and I'm still soaking up all the rest I can get.
 I'm stealing all the hugs and kisses and coffee dates I can from my family.
I'm baking all my favorite things and eating second helpings of them.
 I'm reading books I've been meaning to pick up for months... years even.
I've laughed at a lot of things I would usually stress about.
 Silas and I have been trying new places to eat and discovering fun things to do here in Seattle that we've missed, even after living here almost two years.
We sit around in our jammies a lot.
 The boys and I have taken a whole day to do our grocery shopping by bike.
 And have taken time to stop at the playground just because we happened to pass one.
I've been making my bed (almost) every day. Weekends don't really count.
I'm still working on a few sewing projects... but that's about it. I'm going into this year with the intention to savor the good moments. And forget the bad. Not that there are not bad moments, but they are not worth remembering. 

Those are some of my thoughts. 

And my closets are half way decluttered!!!