My Little Cabbage
Chronicling the lives of my children.

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Baby Capricorn
The Capricorn child may be born looking like an old soul. This physical attribute will shift as the baby finds its childhood bearing, but the presence of an "old soul" will be apparent throughout life. There is a serious nature about Capricorn and a great determination to succeed. This personality trait will be become apparent as the child learns to walk and take care of its own basic needs (dressing, potty training, etc.). Parents may find this impressive focus "adorable," but it is important not to minimize the seriousness Capricorn children bring to these tasks. They tend to set ambitious goals and meet them when they are encouraged to be true to themselves.

Capricorns may have pronounced foreheads and remarkable eyes. As children, they do not readily participate in frivolous games and activities, preferring to learn and apply their knowledge to acquire greater skill. Games like chess may be preferred. Capricorn children will treasure the parent who teaches them practical skills. There is also a great respect for manner and tradition in this personality. Your child may show an interest in older cultures such as Japan, China, and even Europe. Exposure to these cultures through fairytales, children's books, and videos will be a delight for your young Capricorn.

Capricorn children may feel extremely empathic when forming relationships with peers although they may not always have the words to express the deep emotions they experience. Your support in connecting emotions with language will be vital to their development. Foundation and structure is essential to this sign. Young Capricorns will be conscious of their foundation from a young age. The best way to show your respect for your Capricorn child is through regularity and dependability.

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Jan 22, 2012
Gavin Journal: 3 years old

Hi Bug!  Your third year.  You are such a little man these days, and it seems harder and harder to keep up with the tiny details that make you such a fun, amazing, enchanting boy.  I delight in your growing up.  This past year has been full of laughter, changes, tantrums, learning, friendships, hellos and goodbyes. 

You are doing so great in homeschool!  You are writing the beginnings of the alphabet free handed, but can trace just about any letter.  You can tell me what any word starts with and sound it out successfully.  Your patience with crafting has improved, but we are still working on your skills with scissors.  It's very hard with you leaning left handed and backwards.  You read right to left, and you are very, very  heavy handed on the left side.  We're working to help you at least write with your right hand, but it's also proving to be difficult.  I'm sure if you play major league baseball, they'll love having a southpaw on the team.  We have made a lot of friends in our little Tot School Co-Op, and you really enjoy the field trips and weekly meet ups that we have.  Just recently, we went to a small air strip, and you got to see and watch planes fly up close!  You really enjoyed that and talked about it all week long afterwards. 

We had to say good bye to your good friend, Ella.  You both really enjoyed getting to know each other, and were often found playing together at playdates.  Remember swimming with her at her pool all summer long?  You were close friends, and it was sad, at least more so for me, to say good bye as they moved away to North Carolina.  Ella refused to hug you or anyone else at her going away party; she views last hugs as permanent good byes and just doesn't do it.

You got to play organized soccer for the first time during a trial session with our playgroup.  I'm working on getting you into that little league of non-competitive soccer since you enjoyed it so much.  You had a hard time not wanting to pick up each and every soccer ball though, and I was often found snickering while telling you to put the ball down.  The coaches however, were used to this, and asked you to place your hands on your head; you spent a good portion of practice playing this way, and even scored a goal!  Other than that, you liked hanging out and sitting in the nets.

You are quite the conversationalist and will talk in complete sentences, even more so, adults understand and interact with you!  You can still be shy, but are still more often serious than not.  You like being surprised and chased.  You also like having stories read to you.  You still enjoy cuddles from time to time.  You love your boy parts and all the joy that comes with them (Lordy).  You love to run and jump.  You like the big kids swings and enjoy swinging on your belly.  You're learning through observation how to propel yourself on them, but find it way easier to be pushed.  You also like anything on springs at the parks, and will bounce back and forth for long periods of time.  You love slides, and stairs.  You have discovered ladders and climb them with such skill that I don't remember teaching you.  You enjoy your bikes, and the scooter you got for Christmas.  You love playing with anything with wheels or wings.  Matchbox cars have become a staple around this house.  You like to clean up your room and keep your things in order.  You love to help feed the dogs, and help mommy cook.  You like to wash the windows when I give you a spray bottle of water and rag.  You do a terrible job, but I just adore watching your little spirit wanting to help me out, and take care of our home.  You like sensory bins, magnets, and exploration bottles.

Potty training is done for the day time!  You totally let me know when you need to go these days, and you pee standing up thanks to Mama.  Your dad was quite surprised when he discovered that you knew how to aim all by yourself.  Now, we wait for the night time to catch up.

You look like your dad more and more each day.  Your baby fat is melting away, leaving behind a slender, tall, handsome little boy.  Your hair is coarse this year, and you got a not-so-wonderful check up at the dentist.  He informed me that you'll be needing braces by age 12.  Your dad had braces, so I suppose there was a 50% chance you would, too, but it was still a blow to my ego since I have never done anything to discourage your thumbsucking (dentist said it was hereditary, and nothing to do with your thumb).

Your third birthday celebration was lots of fun!  We threw you a Cars Drive-In Party, complete with cardboard cars to sit in and eat lunch while watching your favorite movie.  You are totally bazonkers over Lightning McQueen and all sorts of cars.  You had many friends come, including Nolan, Parker, and Cates.  It was a great time, and you got lots of fun things to play and learn with.

We're going to focus this year on science, geography, math, and handwriting in a heavy way with Tot School.  I'm very excited to see how you do.  You take to this like a duck to water; and even though you lack patience with things you are not good at right away, you're figuring things out at your own pace and I love being able to teach you things one on one.

You adore your sister, and I truly think that her presence in your life has helped you learn to share and show you further how to be kind and compassionate to others.  I also think that it made your tantrums more volatile, but it's not something that can't be worked out.  I love the way you entertain her in the car, and talk to her as if you both have your own language.  You constantly take her toys, but you share your cars.  I hope you both are always this close throughout your lives.

I love you, and am so very proud of the little guy you are turning into.  You're always going to be one of my most favorite people to be around.

Posted at 11:33 pm by Candy
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Mary Journal: 5 - 6 months

Hello my Moish-Moish.  You are so completely huggable and lovable that it's impossible to not want to squeeze the stuffings out of you whenever I hold you.  You are the smilingest and flirtiest baby I have ever had the ability to get to know.  You are as sweet as the day is long.  You are also completely honest with your feelings, and the smiles are not fake at all.  You can't be tricked into being happy for the sake of being happy.  But you are almost always in a good mood.

We play "Where's Mary?" in which I will say the aforementioned phrase, and you'll turn your head and lock eyes with me and smile in response.  You love rolling all over, and are never where I leave you.  You find it hilarious when I point that out.  You love chewing on everything and went through a small bought of teething crankies, but have easily overcome them while we wait on teefers to show up.  You're due to start solids in the next couple weeks, but I am in zero hurry considering I remember how much more work it is compared to breastfeeding.  You find it intriguing when I drink water when wearing you, but you don't show any signs of interest in whatever I'm eating or drinking as far as taking them, or wanting any part of them.  Give you a wooden spoon, however, and you'll happily chomp away for an hour.  You hate bottles and refuse to drink from them still.  You love boobahs and they fix any and everything.  You grasp, pull, push, and kick.  Kung Fu kicking while on the changing table is your latest sport (that hurts, by the way).  You are very close to sitting on your own without falling over when placed into that position, and want so badly to do that all by yourself.  You are craving so much independence and want to get up and move all the time.  Your favorite toys are your Raggedy Ann doll, a wooden spoon, a bumble bee with all sorts of teethers for rings, and your activity bar on your car seat.

You like to sit in your high chair or bouncy seat when I cook, and you want to be in the middle of whatever is going on.  You hate playpens, and will loudly voice your intolerance of them.  You love being on the floor with open space all the way around.  You are almost saying "Mama," but it comes with you being a tad upset and hungry at the same time.  It comes out "muh muh muh muh."  Your face when you are scared, crying, or really upset?  Completely adorable.  You have the cutest little square mouth and pouty lip.  Of course, I never let you cry for long, but holy gajeebers, it's so so so cute that I can't help but hoist you up and get you in a snuggle bear hug to figure out what's wrong.

You LOVE the boys in our house.  The sun rises and sets in your daddy and your bubba.  I find it completely adorable.  All you have to do is simply hear their voice, and you are craning to find them and smile at them.  Gavin is the only person who can put you into a fit of belly laughter, and you will do every trick your repertoire for your daddy, just to get him to smile back at you.

You fit so beautifully into our family, that while I sit and acknowledge that you are coming up on six months in disbelief, it feels like you have been here for so much longer.  I love you, sweetie.  You make me entirely too happy.

Posted at 11:16 pm by Candy
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Dec 25, 2011
Letter: Christmas Eve

To my wonderful, precious children,

I'm sitting here, doing the very same thing my mother used to do before Christmas morning rush was official, and that is bask in the glow of this holy night.  It's late, the house is sparkling clean, the stockings are filled, presents wrapped and under the tree, and it is now that I offer my thanks to our Lord for the both of you.

I am moved with such love by the Holy Spirit on this night, that my eyes are brimming with tears at the amount of joy you two have brought me this year.  I can hardly believe how natural it feels to have the both of you here this Christmas; how natural it has felt all along.  While I hope you enjoy your gifts later this morning, I hope even more that this holiday becomes such a celebration of your walk with your God.  Remembering this miraculous birth of Jesus, so close to the birth of you, Mary, just fills my heart with wonder and awe.  It's still so fresh in my memory.  I hope to instill and pass onto you, the traditions of our faith, and the traditions of our household.  I hope that this holiday brings you joy, fills your heart with peace, and brings you both such love.

As you slumber peacefully in your beds, I pray over you.  I'm so very grateful for healthy, vibrant, smart, beautiful children.  You are the joy of my heart, and I find myself so wrapped up in your smiles and laughter.  This family is blessed beyond measure.  I hope you two are as close as you are now for the rest of your lives.  I hope that you know how loved you truly are.  I hope your future brings happiness with each of the challenges that you rise to meet.

I love you Gavin.  The charming boy who brought me my highest honor by making me Mama first.  I love you Mary.  The sweet little girl who has charmed the world around her. 

Smiles, hugs, laughter and love,

Posted at 02:26 am by Candy
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Nov 30, 2011
Mary Journal: 3 months 4 weeks

You're almost four months old now, and a complete delight to be around.  You finally hit that smiley, happy, bubbly phase of babydom.  I love listening to you babble on and on in the car, or wherever we are; you talk to whoever will lend an ear.  You giggle when tickled behind your cheeks, near your ear.  And you giggle when I change a particularly smelly dipe and tell you all about it in animated fashion.  You love seeing my face come over your crib in the morning, and are all about snuggles during nursing.  You smile to anyone who will smile at you.  You have the most beautiful grin, and your dimples show right up when you start beaming; those you got right from your Daddy.

You live for Boobahs and snuggles.  You enjoy being worn and carried everywhere we go.  As far as physical accomplishments, you're thiiiis close to rolling over on your own.  You want to sit up so very badly.  Every time I place you in your bouncy seat, you lean forward to try to sit up.  You're incredibly strong, and when held, hold yourself up quite nicely.  You grasp and hold things, and just the other day, picked up and put your pacifier back in your mouth!  You dig Sophie Giraffe, and you finally figured out that you're supposed to chew on her.  You also like your own reflection, though not as much as your brother did.  Not so easily fooled into playing with a mirror.

You celebrated your first Thanksgiving this year.  It was a busy day!  You went with your Daddy and Grandparents Kent to the finish line of a race that I was in that morning, then it was off to Grandparents Williams to enjoy the company of family for a little while.  You got to meet your cousins for the first time there as well.  You nursed yourself into a mini coma, and after the parade, we headed over to Grandparents Crawley to have dinner with them this year.  You did amazing the whole day.  Once we were at my parent's, you babbled for a long time in the playpen, and then enjoyed being passed around to all the family members.  Towards the end you were so done, though, and slept sound once we finally got you to your own bed at home.

You like your routine, and you like your own sleep space.  You are less temperamental than you were a few short weeks ago, and have blossomed into such a beautiful, happy baby.

Posted at 11:00 pm by Candy
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Oct 30, 2011
Mary Journal: 2 months 4 weeks

Hi Sweet Girl.  You've gotten so big, so fast.  You went, and are still going through, a tough time.  You're require much more needs than Gavin did, and while I can appreciate that, with the demands of the house, and the demands of raising a sibling along side you, it can be difficult to meet those needs from time to time.  I hate admitting it, but sometimes, I wind up having to listen to you cry as we move through the day.  Those jags lately have gotten longer in between, but it's still stressful to have to go through them.  When you are unhappy, you definitely know how to show it.

On the upside, you are smiling these days; granted, you can be pretty stingy with them, but I think it's your age more than your temperament, so I don't take it personally.  You have your Daddy's dimples, and they show so wonderfully when you smile really big.  You love mornings, and as soon as my face comes over your crib, I get the biggest smiles out of you.  It won't be long until you are reaching for me. 

You sleep nicely these days, only waking once in the night, and once in the early morning.  You have two naps a day, and amazingly enough, take your afternoon nap at the same time as your brother.  You like your environment very calm.  You are not a pick up and go and take anywhere type of baby like your brother was.  No.  You like order, repetition, and above all, quiet, still and slowness.  You are getting to the age where you like to be entertained rather than just sat with.  You love interaction, and enjoy when people pay their full attention to you.  You have found your hands, and along with sticking them in your mouth, you like to grasp and reach for objects in your sight.  You are holding the same set of keys that Gavin first held.  Your legs are busy whenever you are placed on any flat surface (which you prefer most times to any other type of sitting).  People laugh as you look like you are running a race.  You like to be held upright and walked around to take it all in.  If you are in full blown upset mode, you hate any and all interaction, and above all, hate being rocked to sleep as a solution, but it's almost always the solution.  Most of the time, your crankiness is due to over stimulation.

You laughed for the very first time today.  I heard you, then looked up, and realized you were giggling at Gavin sitting in front of your swing.  Every time your swing bumped into his knees, it sent you into a fit of giggles.  It was the most heartwarming sound to ever leave your lips.  Your coos are getting to be pretty regular as well.  You always seem to have something to tell me.

You also rolled over with a little bit of help today.  I held out my hand, and you pushed your little foot against it and flipped over.  It won't be long now, and you'll be doing it all on your own, and the easy days of infanthood, for me, will be over.  You are still small enough to fit into a sling with ease, and I look forward to a great many month more of wearing you.  You don't seem to be chunking out at the same break neck speed that your brother did.  You are still in 0-3 month clothing, and mainly live in footed pajamas these days.  You do well in cloth diapers, and on some, have moved up to the second row of snaps, and on others, are on the smallest setting available, just depending on the brand.

You're confident, and simply beautiful.  I watch you sleep and sit in awe of this little wondrous creature I have been blessed to raise and know.

Posted at 11:19 pm by Candy
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Oct 2, 2011
On Motherhood...

"A mother's body remembers her babies - the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has its own entreaties to body and soul. It's the last one, though, that overtakes you....A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life there will be no coming after - oh, that's love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she's gone to sleep. If you put her down, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She is the one you can't put down." - The Poisonwood Bible (Kingsolver)

Posted at 10:42 pm by Candy
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Sep 14, 2011
Siblings Journal: 2 years 8 months, 1 month 2 weeks

You two are so adorable together.  Gavin, I'm simply blown away by how grown up and sweet you are with your sister.  You love her dearly, and it shows.  You're always super gentle with her, and when you see her you say "It's Maaaarrryyyy."  You touch her gently, and are always sure to point out that you never touch her eyes.  Excuse me, his eyes.  You still refer to her as a boy.  We're working on it.  But you do know she is your baby sister, and you tell people that.  You are very proud of her, and like to hold her a lot, and feed her given the chance that there is a bottle involved.  You help out in the car when she is less than happy by sticking your finger in her mouth; Gavin's Milk, you call it.  And when the three of us are together, you name us off: Mary, Gavin, Mommy, and Boobies.  Ha!  "She's drinking Mommy's Milk!" is a common phrase around here whenever she's eating, and the high pitch that you say it in at the end is positively priceless.

Among other things that you say that are adorable that I never want to forget are Scumscreen (sunscreen), I pick you up (will you pick me up), No, it's [fill in the blank with whatever you are disagreeing correctly about, usually colors or numbers], I dropped a juice (I dropped a deuce... thanks, Daddy, for that one).

You swim like a fish these days with no floaties required.  Still not confident to let you in the water by yourself, your dad is always with you, you swim underwater for surprising lengths.  You've got the pull your head up for air down, now we're working on the arm mechanics to go with your super strong legs.

You have grown an entire inch since Mary's birth.  You are in size 10 shoes, and 4T clothing.  I'm still in shock at what a big child you are, as you tower over all of your friends that are the same age.

Your favorite things are: outside, water, legos, trucks/cars/trains/construction equipment/anything that goes, matchbox cars, books, and blocks.  You eat everything.  Honestly, I cannot name a favorite food, and I can't remember the last time you didn't inhale whatever we put in front of you.  You choose wise foods for breakfast (though the morning you wanted, and got, a cheese sandwich was pretty amusing), and know how to pour gently (it's getting you to stop gently is the problem) your own drink.  You don't fuss over clothes, just helping me put on whatever I deem appropriate.  You prefer bare feet to shoes.  You are amazingly verbal and love talking to adults.  Talking to children?  Not so much.  Not unless they are older children.  You always make your Monster Truck face and do a vrooom vrooom at least once with whomever your speaking with.  You, like many kids your age, have a brain that moves a million miles an hour.  You have an imagination as big as the sky (you put a sticker on the doll's knee and proclaimed it a band aid with a full on back story as to how she got hurt to begin with).  Your blue bear is still your absolute favorite possession, and that, as well as anything sticky or soft will cause you to instinctively put your thumb in your mouth.  You don't like going to bed, but you do love sleep.

Posted at 09:29 pm by Candy
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Aug 29, 2011
Mary Journal: 4 weeks

You're exactly the weight and length that Gavin was when he was born.  You've grown out of your five newborn cloth diapers, and are now in the diapers you'll be in through potty training.  It's very nice to have a big stash to diaper you from! 

You hold your held up, and you interact quite a bit with me when we're face to face, or rather, cheek to cheek.  You quiet immediately just being picked up into my arms, and that warms my heart to no end, for these days are fleeting.  You really love being wrapped as I go about the day with things to do.

You're finding the rhythm in the 24 hour day, and sleeping more through the night.  You start out sleeping next to my bed in a bassinet, but somewhere in the dark hours, you make your way to me and remain there until around 6:30am, when your day begins.  A lot of times, you're awake for an hour, then you go back to sleep until 9:30am.  At that point, the whole house is all a bustle as Dad leaves for work, and your brother and I eat breakfast.  You're up until about 11 or so for a quick cat nap, then up until your brother goes down for a nap.  All in all, you're awake for about four or five hours during the day, and only waking twice during the night.  You nailed the night is for sleeping thing pretty much when you were a week old.  You only wake for a fresh diaper or milk, then it's back off to dreamland.

I'm so beyond in love with you.  Your brother has also taken quite a shine to you.  He still calls you "he", but we're working on it.  He likes touching your soft head (full of strawberry blond hair, by the way!), and touching your feet.  He thinks it's really neat when you look right at him.  He shares his blue bear with you, which is h-u-g-e, since that bear is very special to him.

You're growing fast, as babies do, but I'm relishing each and every phase of it.

Posted at 11:20 am by Candy
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Aug 11, 2011
Birthing Story: Mary Ayn Rae Young

The night you were born changed my entire life.  Yes, we had planned the birth, planned to have you at home, practiced relaxation techniques - me more than your daddy, but nothing could prepare me for how I was going to feel about this entire experience.

It all started at around 4:00 on the morning of July 31, 2011.  My son came into my room, crying, and as I sent him back, I realized that I was having a very mild contraction; more than Braxton Hicks, but nothing that registered in my consciousness as labor, or even something to be noticed.

As I went back to sleep, I had about two more contractions over the span of the hours prior to the dawn breaking that were enough to rouse me.  I knew then.  It was like a quiet secret all to myself.  I had a very comfortable feeling we were going to have a baby that very day.  Little did I know that 8:00 would come complete with a very uncomfortable little boy throwing up.  The day found our feet hitting the floor in a hurry.  As I softly moaned through another contraction, Matt helped get Gavin settled and was trying to figure out where Gavin "drank too much water" from.  Turns out, his only experience with throwing up came from swimming lessons.  Matt took him, with a bowl, to the living room and turned on a long movie, Cool Hand Luke that they could watch together while riding out his nausea.  No matter what we gave him, it came back up.  Poor soul fell asleep in his arms partway through the movie.

I got up, and right away, got a load of maternity laundry started in case we needed to transport and I needed clothing to go with me, got a shower and vainly dried my hair to look nice for later, ate breakfast, and kept moving.  I got the huge stack of dishes on the counter washed and in the machine for drying, then started picking up clutter, and vacuuming the floors.

All of that in the span of a couple hours, and I swayed through the couple of contractions I had, moving my hips to help get the babe in position.  I smiled at the thought that this felt so different from my first labor.  This was all to keep me upright and distracted while doing so.  I called my best friend because I could no longer keep this secret to myself.  She offered to bring over dinner to ensure I wouldn't have to worry about cooking and asked if anyone was taking care of Gavin.  I told her we had it handled, and not to worry, as it was still very early first stage, this may well take either hours, days, or a week.  I was still easily talking through them, and able to stay upright, so I did.  I texted the midwife to just give her a gentle heads up to keep her phone handy.

It was around noon, the house was clean and ready, and I was able to sit and relax with my boys.  I had been drinking to stay hydrated, and eating when hungry to stay fueled.  (Tuna fish and crackers for lunch?  It was the easiest option without cooking.)  I simply knew that we were having a baby, and wanted to stay in front of labor while I still could.  I laid down for a nap on the couch to keep my rest up.  I had three contractions wake me up that required stretching and a bit more focus.  Deeper relaxed, I kept saying to myself, reminding myself that my uterus was doing much work to help make room to bring my baby here.  Slowly the process took over.

Around 3:00, I woke up from the nap, well aware that I was in full blown labor.  Every time I sat up or moved, another contraction would follow, and they were getting to be more intense.  We had moved from officially 40 minutes apart to about 10 minutes apart in that seemingly short span.  I sat on the ball for a while, and Matt was making plans to run out to get food for the house and dinner, as well as supplies for Gavin. 

I took Gavin to the bathroom with me while Matt had a surprise from our neighbor saying our dogs had gotten loose before he was able to leave.  Gavin hung with her for a few minutes while I sat on hands and knees in the bathroom floor, waiting for the dogs to be secured, and Gavin to return to me, and Matt to hurry to the store so he could come home.  My world became very small.  The tiniest details of our bathroom.  The text on the spines of the books on the back of the toilet.  The way the fibers looked on the bath mat. 

Gavin sat with me in my own little universe while we got through both of our ailments together.  He rubbed my back, saying "it's okay Mommy, it's okay".  Sweetest of little boys.  Larissa made it with baked ziti to my house, took one look at me, took action to get Gavin fed, and then made me eat a few bites of food as well.  Thankfully, since I was not in my right head to feed the hunger that had been plaguing me for a while before.  She heard me deal with more contractions than she was comfortable with, tried a couple of different techniques for help with coping, then softly demanded that I call my mother; that it was time, and Gavin is going to need more care than she and I could provide.  I agreed.  One more contraction, and I was able to call her, and did so, quickly, so she would not have to hear me deal with one.  I told her things were picking up and getting serious, and I needed her to come and care for Gavin while I labored.  She did so, cheerfully, and I hung up and moaned through another wave.  Larissa, bless her heart, would have stayed, but my boy being sick was making her sick, so she had to make a quick exit the second Matt came home.

Things were rockin' and rollin' and this is where my memory gets a bit fuzzy.  Tara, the midwife, called and listened to me for a few minutes.  She had been calling all day in intervals to check and make sure I was coping well, eating, drinking, also to check on my body processing labor and not producing bad things like excess blood and the like.  I had had no bloody show, no waters breaking, no mucus.  The only thing I was relying on was my emotional sign posts, and the intensity of contractions.  No, I had not been timing them, just guessing how far apart.  I purposely stopped looking at clocks very early on in labor just so I didn't stress the numbers.  Once she listened to me handle a couple of contractions, she concluded that I was far enough along to need assistance, and instructed me to call Cecilia, the Doula, and get her on the way as soon as I could.  I hung up with her, called my photographer who heard me simply speak and told me she was on the way (apparently, I was appearing very ready to have a baby, while I was thinking I might have a long time left to go).  I called Cecilia, but from a text we shared earlier, I knew she was teaching class and couldn't be free until 9pm, but I left her a voicemail anyway.  I had not looked up in what felt like a very long time, and I was vocalizing through every wave.  I found myself standing in the door frame of the bathroom, utilizing my fist at the small of my back, pushing against one side of the frame with my full back, the other with my feet, counter pressuring my way through.  They were coming on top of each other.  I was not freaking out, but I knew birth was going to be imminent.

Matt was listening to me, and asked if he should fill the pool, I could only nod.  He left and got started.  I got through a few more, and he returned to tell me that the pump would not work to get air into the pool.  I could only shake my head, while inside I was not wanting any bad news, but couldn't find the words to tell him so.  He left again to finangle a solution to our problem, and called my mom to ask how far away she was, and to inform her that the pump she loaned us wouldn't work.  She was about 20 minutes out, but heard me in the background and, in a very worried tone, asked how far apart I was.  I growled at Matt upon the asking that I thought I was about 3 to 5 minutes apart.  Mom hurried.

Once she got here, she immediately broke out a watch and started timing.  She quickly found out that I was 2 minutes apart with 30 seconds in between waves.  She proceeded to ask where the midwife was and freak out a bit since we were alone; all she could see was us catching a baby by ourselves.  I don't think she could have ran a marathon to get the nervous energy out of her.  She physically supported me through a couple of waves, and I hung my body onto hers for one; it was nice to not have to hold myself up.  My universe was still very small, and I had long since closed my eyes to all the light and energy going on around me.  I needed to be alone.  I needed to have people support me.  I needed to not be touched.  I needed to have someone to hold me.  I needed to have silence.  I needed to have someone tell me I was doing well.  I told Matt that I was pretty sure this was not my greatest idea, and that this was really painful.  He did what men do best and told me that we were in the thick of it now, and it was a tad late to back out of laboring.  I agreed, and turned back inwards as another (another) wave came crashing through.  I kept thinking that my uterus works.  My cervix is working.  I felt everything up front and in my thighs as well as my abdomen.  It was the most intense thing I have ever gone through.  I somehow still thought that we had a while to go.  I also knew with my self doubt that transition was coming, and with that thought, up came dinner.  Bingo.  My tell tale sign that pushing was coming up on the horizon quickly.

The pool was announced to be ready, and with that, I somehow hauled my body into my bedroom to change from my nightgown into my tankini top that I bought especially for the occasion.  I clipped my hair up, and hauled my body back down the hallway to climb into the warm waters.  Off went the overhead light, and I finally caught a small break as my body adjusted to the therapeutic heat of the birthing waters.  I was able to grasp the handles and allow my body to float a bit.  I, at this point, had no idea how many people were outside on my porch turned waiting room.  All I knew was as soon as my mom arrived, Gavin was whisked out to be watched by caring hands.  People were coming in and out.  Matt sat across from me in his chair.  My body adjusted and the waves were back to one on top of the other.  Stephanie came through the door and with a caring smile and soothing voice came down and said hello on my level.  I remember looking in her eyes and feeling a bit of relief that at least all of this will be captured in a beautiful way, and she was just in time.  She made her own introductions to those in the room, and with that, I was back into laborland. 

I was constantly announcing start and stop to my mom, as she was still timing.  I couldn't get comfortable.  I wanted to run away from my body.  I was writhing when all the sudden, at the peak of another, my mom took my hands, and held her head close.  I so needed that.  I needed anchoring.  I needed to re-center, and I needed the hands of support at just that level to hang onto; I needed a piece of something outside myself to help keep me out of my own way.  My head needed to be reminded to relax, that my contractions are not stronger than me, because they are me.  My mom's hands did that. 

This woman's work.

With that realization tucked into my head and heart, the next thing I remember was the midwife's assistant, Tonya, arrived.  She made her introduction, but I never looked up, I just weakly waved.  Late labor sounding; low, but getting louder.  I kept trying to keep my tones low in my gut this whole time.  The lower the tones, no matter the volume, the more relaxed the body gets during each wave.  Thankfully, my consciousness kept that nugget of wisdom handy.  Tara came through the door not much later.  More introductions and hellos.  She got down to business and got the doppler out for the first check in my labor.  Heart tones were great.  She took my temperature and blood pressure, and upon satisfaction of those numbers, proceeded to set up her equipment.  I pointed her to the direction of the Birth Kit in my bedroom, as Matt had already brought out her other items in the big bin.  The next thing I remember, Cecilia walked through the door, and immediately took place right next to Matt's chair on the stool he had set up in front of me for his seat.  He happily sat in his recliner instead.  During each wave, I reached out and asked for hands.  That simple touch was so healing.  I got Matt's fingers and Cee's hands.  I squeezed the dickens out of Matt, and tried to hold Cee's as gently as my hands would allow during the moment.  The baby's hearttones were being checked every couple minutes; it was only mildly distracting since nobody was asking me to move out of my little world to accommodate them.

I was fully aware of every conversation going on around me, yet, I could not contribute, nor did I want to.  It was rather nice to, in between waves, just lay there, and be.  Be supported, be taken care of, be looked after, be cheered on.  Cee mentioned my "perfect Bradley relaxation", then rubbed her finger over the one wrinkle I had in my forehead.  Having had it made known to me, I melted it away, and relaxed further.  Deeper relaxed.  Another wave came through, and I toned my way through it, but this time, I had to tone differently; my mouth needed to change shape, my throat needed to sound out.  My mom cracked the joke that I sounded like Dori doing whale impressions; while funny to the rest of the room, I could only glare at being disturbed.  This went on for a few more waves, my varied toning, hands anchoring me, upper body hanging over the side of the pool, knees supporting my working body, sweat starting to bead on my face.

Then it happened.

At the peak of a wave, I grunted out loud.  This caused a knowing look between the midwives and doula.  "Candice, can I check you, please?"  The one and only check during my labor of my cervix.   Tara was having a time trying to get in there under the water and in my current position, I finally just declared that checking in general is not fun, and to go ahead with however it had to be done.  Surprisingly, I felt nothing while she checked.  It was then declared that I was complete, and effaced.  Baby was nice and low.  Pushing could commence at my leisure.

Low and slow, that was what I kept repeating in my head.  Each wave brought about the uncontrollable urge to push with it, and for once, my body felt like it was working with me instead of me working against it.  I visualized in my head, and arc, and at the start of every wave, I was at the bottom of this arc, as I continued up, I would start to push, doing my most effective pushing at the top of it.  Slow.  Effective.  Slow.

I regained consciousness for a moment and looked straight up in front of me.  I was greeted by a warm smile from Cee.  She proclaimed, "you're doing it, Candice!"  Indeed, I was.  I sunk back into my world pretty quickly.  But I was doing it.  Female hands holding mine, guiding me through.  Female hands reaching into the waters for measurements, confirming life is coming.  It was really wonderful to not hear people yelling at me to push, or counting to 10.  Somewhere along the way, during a push, I felt my membranes release.  "Something broke" I said, even though I knew immediately what "something" was.  I seem to remember more waves in between, but my memory jumps to as Tara was providing perineal support, she was noting the position of the baby, and gently guiding my pushing to slow down to avoid a tear.  Slowly, at her direction, I started to puh-puh-puh my way through with shorter, gentler, but controlled pushes, to help me stretch evenly.  While this was going on, Matt had a lot of different questions about the baby, including her hair color, but never once got up to check.  Cee happily gave him a play by play of what I was going through, as he kept telling me to breathe at the top of a pushing contraction.

I worked quietly.  It was intense work, but good work, and I knew this, even in the thick of the fog.

I was asked if I could turn over for heart tone readings, but I could not.  I could not move my body from the position that was working.  They had me move my leg out, and maneuvered to get low enough to hear, moved away when I was pushing, then came back when it was over; this was the one heart tone I could not hear right away, but Matt, and everyone else, heard the faint heart tone that was good and strong.  From having two babies, Matt had learned to tell the difference between maternal and fetal heart tones.

I could feel myself stretching with each small push.  Stinging, stretching, burning, but once the muscle stretched initially, it did not sting nearly as much on the next push.  I could feel her head stretching and coming down.  I felt her brow present, and all the fears of having an arm present with it went away.  I knew she was textbook perfect at that point.  I felt her brow come through, then her face, her chin, then I felt her rotate.  I knew I'd have her out soon.  Upon rotation, the neck came through, then one shoulder, another rotation back, and the other shoulder.  She easily slid into the warm birthing waters.

One hour after the birthing team walked into my home.  Eighteen hours after labor had begun.


I was overwhelmed and wanted to touch her, to hold her.  As Tara brought her up, I was trying to turn around and catch a glimpse of my prize.  She came out of the waters with healthy, strong cries; the sound that will bring tears to any new mama's eyes.  I had to pull my leg up and over the cord, once thick and pulsing with life, now empty and white as it put what was left into my daughter.  I held her.  In the warm waters, we connected, and I drank in her scent from the top of her head.  I marveled at her beauty, and her small size.  She was wrapped into a fresh pink towel and a little white hat put on her head, as I was hoping to deliver the placenta shortly after her, so I wanted her connected.  The special bowl for catching the placenta was retrieved, and we waited while I adored the newest creation to come earthside.  More hot water was added to the pool, and as the warmth flooded around us, my heart poured over in elation.  I couldn't believe that I was finally face to face with the one that I had dreamed over for so many nights before.

Time was ticking by, and after half an hour and only cramping to show for waiting, I made the call to cut and clamp her cord to get her to warmer, and drier, settings.  Matt was not all that interested in cutting, but my mom was all about it.  Two hemostats were placed, scissors passed, and with a loud "clack", we were now two instead of one.

Gavin was briefly brought in to see her, but, like any two and a half year old, all he saw was this really awesome pool, in his living room, and wanted in it, right then.  Because he couldn't, and he was feverishly sick still, he was ushered back out to be taken care of by family outside.  Thankfully it was a nice, warm summer night.  Now to get back down to business, and get this organ delivered.  One full glass of gatorade later, I was regaining strength and endurance.  While I leaned over the side of the tub once again, I started to sweat as the water was now hot again, and all I could feel was cramps again as my uterus did its work of detaching, and expelling it.  Mary made her way next door to my elderly neighbor's house to make her debut with them.  It was quick, but it felt like an eternity that she was gone.  15 more minutes passed, and no placenta to be seen yet.  So we decided to come out of the water, with a plan of moving me to my bed, and giving it a bit more time before we give it a shot of pitocin.  Getting out of the pool was about as graceful as getting in.  After gathering myself around a chux pad, I waddled my way down the hallway to my bedroom to finally lay down and get out of my wet top.  This also provided prime opportunity for skin to skin with her, and to see if we could get her to latch to get the oxytocin flowing and my uterus to clamp down.  Then, with one giant push, and a sloosh, out it came into the bowl.  One hour and twenty one minutes after she was born.  It never felt so good to be done before.

My abdomen now soft and fleshy, an empty vessel that carried her.  It was time for a warm shower and to get cleaned up.  It took a bit of help to get me neatly into the shower, but once in, water flowing over me felt so nice, however, I was in a hurry to get back to my little pea pod.  I'm pretty sure that was the fastest shower I have ever taken.  Tara was giving me instructions as I was showering for care during this time and afterwards for my body.  Once out, I was asked to urinate.  That was the hardest part of this whole thing.  To control that muscle and make it work was an almost impossible task.  Tara turned her back and turned on the water in the sink in an effort to help my mind over matter.  I finally was able to dribble, and thus was able to get up and get back to my kiddo.  I was so happy and proud that I was up and moving within moments of giving birth.  I was not broken.  I was not beaten up.  I was a mother, a woman, and capable.

I was swimming in a sea of pink with all the towels around us.  My mom found a brush and brushed my long, wet hair.  I finally got her to nurse; her latch was perfect, both lips flanged out.  Time seemed to stand still as everyone waited and watched, making conversation.  Her newborn check was about to take place as a hot plate of ziti from Larissa was brought in to me and I handed her over.  I chowed down, not realizing how ravenous I was! 

Tara checked over every single detail of Mary; nothing escaped her notice.  She observed, and made note of everything to Tonya, who was writing it all down.  She was so gentle with her.  Matt stepped forward to help weigh her; the one question everyone had burning in their back pockets.  Gently, she was placed into the sling, and held up in the air.

6 pounds, 9 ounces.  19 and 3/4 inches long.

One vitamin K shot, and a lot of pictures later, everyone was making their way out and saying their goodbyes.  It was around one a.m.  I was completely over the moon and swimming in a birth high.  It was a wonderful place to be.

I spent many hours in the night, next to my mom, simply beholding the wonder of what just took place.  She stayed the night with me, in the same bed, all three generations in the same space.

The warm July night in which you were born, we all rejoiced.

Birthing Story: Mary Ayn Rae Young from Candice Young on Vimeo.

Posted at 10:22 am by Candy
Comments (4)  

Jul 13, 2011
Baby Journal: 37 weeks

Daughter... it's late, and yet here we are, awake, with thoughts running through my head.  I just got signed off and approved to homebirth with you.  I'm really ecstatic that everything seems to be falling into place.  Your nursery is very close to being complete, the birth supplies are all stacked and ready to be organized on birthing day, and people have showered you with love and trinkets to celebrate your coming.

This birth, this pregnancy; I have called myself selfish prior to now with it, but that description is inaccurate.  It's far beyond selfishness that I consider this birth.  This birth is sacred.  How you come into this world is something that, as I delve deeper within my heart and mind in these last weeks, is rooted in love and calmness.  I want nothing about your arrival to be rushed through, to feel pushed, to feel like I'm on anyone else' time table but yours.  This birth is your birth as much as it is my birthing.  To be apart of something so monumental in your life, as the beginning of it, is ominous, but is also something that I cherish with great humility.  I've never been more content, more at peace, more ready to greet you, my little love.  You have some cooking time left, but with that 'yes' came a rush of relief that I will not be forced back into a world of clocks and charts, of people waiting, of someone else' expectations or desires.  That you and I will work together, and bring forth a new life into this family.

I want to reach down and pull you out of the birthing waters.  To be the first one to touch you, to drink in your scent, to wipe the vernix into your skin.  To hold you, birth your placenta, and keep everything calmly in place until it is time to separate.  It is my honor.  I want to tap into our great grandmothers, and the ancestors that walked the paths before us; to celebrate the rite of passage that is birthing.  Women are the great carriers of life.  We have the gift of carrying two hearts within us at the same time, and then bringing that life earthside.  It is a profound gift to be a woman in this way.  From the first breath of air, to the first menarche, to the first baby, the gift of fertility has spanned generations of women before you; and it was not until I realized that I am passing this blessing into another life, into you, that it hit me how important this task of womanhood is.  You, my child, are a strong one.  You are a daughter of this house, but first, a daughter of God.

I hope that you receive all the benefits of the sanctity of your birthing day; that you come into the world and feel completely at ease and loved by those surrounding the waters.  How lucky and blessed are we to have such support and strong women to be present.  How amazed you will be when your grandmothers hold you for the first time the coming days after.  How adored by your father and brother in the first hours.  How indescribable it will be to behold you in the first moments as no other person in this world but your mother can.

I love you, beautiful, confident, you.

Posted at 10:50 pm by Candy
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