One week into 2013 already. Life has been keeping me busy, but in a good way. We took a two-week road trip in our new twenty-five year-old Westfalia Vanagon (Eddie) up the coast of California and into Oregon then back down again. What an amazing trip; both fun and exhausting. Photos of that trip are here. There may be an entire blog post dedicated to this trip sometime in the future. Maybe.
I paddled in my first official SUP race, the Row for the Cure. I have been training for this all year, but in a fun, casual way. My friend Kim got me into SUP and from the beginning has wanted me to race it with her. I didn’t start paddling until just after the first year she raced, then the following year I was 8 months pregnant at race time. So I was finally able to paddle. It was a lot of fun, just like all the “practices” we had were fun. I made a lot of new friends (my SUP sisters). Row for the Cure pictures here.Ashlyn turned one! All the usual new parent comments go here…I can’t believe she’s gotten so big, where did the time go, my little baby is growing so fast, etc. etc. She continues to amaze me. Since her birthday party in early December, where she took one tentative step, she’s now walking all over the house. Birthday Party pictures here. All other Ashlyn pictures here. Ashlyn videos here.
We took our annual winter camping trip to Refugio State Beach Campground. We had a few friends join us this year for some of the trip. We got the best campsite, enjoyed all sorts of weather, paddled, played uke, walked, rode the swings and just relaxed. A great end to 2012 and start to 2013. Winter camping trip pictures here.
Wow. Six months already. I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t written since Ashlyn was one week old, but then again, there are more important things now. Ashlyn is an amazing baby. Clarke and I are so lucky she’s so easy and we’re constantly reminding each other of that. She certainly has her crazy baby moments but overall, she’s awesome. Admittedly, the first month or so was a blur. We had so many wonderful people coming over to help, visit, bring food and snuggle Ashlyn. I’m so glad to be able to be home with Ashlyn and even more glad that Clarke is home too. We’ve all gotten into some sort of routine(ish). Clarke and I have even managed to return to paddling and hula.
From pretty early on I began writing a journal to Ashlyn, from everyday things we do to the big milestones. Someday I’ll get those milestones into the baby book. The journal is actually monthly notes on my phone because I usually write it in the middle of the night while feeding her. Here are some highlights:12/21/11 Your first visit to the beach. OB pier beach, we dipped your feet in the ocean and you didn’t even cry. It was a beautiful sunny day but cold water. Winter solstice, although that’s not why we did it, it was a matter of convenience. We were coming back from your 2 week check up, you were awake and agreeable so we went. Daddy threw your umbilical cord stump into the ocean (the original reason for heading to the beach) then Mommy dipped your feet in the water. We weren’t sure what we wanted to do with your umbilical cord stump once it fell off. We were glad when it did fall off, it was making us nervous being rubbed by your diapers. It fell off a few days before, the morning of December 19th, and Mommy kept it by the changing pad for a while why we decided what to do with it. As we were going to bed that night, Mommy suddenly thought “why don’t we throw it in the ocean”, like we do with our lei. So Mommy wrapped it up in a paper napkin and kept it with us when left the house the next two days, in case we were able to make it to the ocean. In case you haven’t realized by now kiddo, your parents are hippies (or hippy light at least).
2/3/12 I can hear your tummy gurgle when you’re eating.
2/6/12 Your hair is getting longer. It gets fuzzy when rubbed by your bath towel. You started blowing bubbles today.
2/13/12 Long distance spit up, down Mommy’s back and onto the floor and wall behind the rocking chair. Twice.3/1/12 Your neck control is getting so good that I don’t have to cradle your head when I put you over my shoulder to burp, I only need to use the tips of my fingers. Harley licked your face today for the first time. Summer came over tonight with her parents. The two of you hung out on the floor making noises at each other. 3/13/12 6:30pm you rolled over! During tummy time you rolled over onto your back over your left arm.
3/16/12 Mommy and Daddy’s first date night. You had four babysitters: Grammy, Nana, Papa and Auntie Jennica. We went to see our friends’ band, Brain Buckit, play at The Harp in OB. I only checked my phone about four times in the hour and a half that we were gone.
4/14/12 12am It’s midnight, you’ve just finished eating after a good four hour sleep and you are wide awake. You’re making all sorts of great noises and faces, I wish we could stay up and play. Daddy takes you so I can try to go to sleep but I think you two are having too much fun.
4/14/12 4am It’s crazy stormy outside, windy and what sounds like hail. You stop feeding to listen to the noise.
4/17/12 Sleeping in, in the big bed. You and I slept in until 10:30 this morning, it was blissful.
4/28/12 Baby Winston was born early this morning. Looking at pictures of him and his parents in the hospital make me nostalgic for your birth. Not so much the stress and fear, but the amazing fact that only five months ago you were still inside my belly and now you’re here and how amazing it has been from day one.4/19/12 We went to the zoo today! Jen is working her last week at panda so we took the opportunity to get a behind the scene tour and your first visit to the zoo. For the tour, you were in the Bjorn, facing front, and you loved it. You made excited noises through the whole visit. Gao Gao, the male panda, woke up as we were finishing the tour and we went to watch him eat his bamboo. We also got to watch porcupines get fed and we walked around and saw a few other animals, some of which you slept through. 5/7/12 Five months! When taking your monthly picture today, we were having a hard time getting a picture of you without the owl in your mouth. You’re almost as tall as the owl now (when you’re sitting). I wonder if you’ll be sitting on your own by next month’s picture. 5/13/12 3am My first Mother’s Day begins with feeding time. I love you so much Ashlyn.
5/24/12 You and I went to see Caitlin’s masters presentation today – your first science lecture! You were fairly attentive and only made a few squeaks.
5/25/12 5:40am When you curl up on my shoulder to burp, you are so long you’re feet reach my belly button. It doesn’t seem that long ago when you were this little hedgehog curled on my shoulder. You don’t even need my shoulder to burp anymore. Usually all you need to do is sit up after feeding and you burp yourself.
5/25/12 You’re almost six months old. It had gone so quickly in an awesome, albeit sleep-deprived, blur. You are so interactive now and respond to our voices and faces. You smile when we enter the room whether it’s after a nap or you’re just playing on the floor. That smile is amazing. It makes my heart soar every time I see it.
After our last doctor’s appointment at 41 weeks, they called me on Monday November 28th to tell me that I was scheduled to induce labor on Wednesday December 7th at noon. Forty-two weeks would have been December 8th so it made sense, although I felt bad about having it scheduled for Clarke’s birthday. Ever since we got her due date (November 24th – Thanksgiving), we’d joked that if she were two weeks late, they could share a birthday. This happened last year with our godson Christopher; due on Thanksgiving and born on December 7th. Clarke had been going back and forth with his thoughts on sharing his birthday with his daughter and ended up thinking it’d be pretty special.December 7th began as usual for me, taking Harley for his morning walk. Our contractor was here working on the house. Clarke met up with friends for a surf session and a birthday coffee while I finished putzing around the house getting last minute things ready. We’d had the bags packed and the car seat in the car since 36 weeks so we were very prepared on that front. Clarke returned with a guava cheese pastry for me from Azucar as my “last meal”. By 11am we were sitting on the couch with Harley just hanging around and waiting until 11:30 to leave. We took Harley on one last walk (Clarke’s mom, Judy, came to take Harley shortly after we left) and got in the car. I felt so weird. This was not how I pictured the trip to the hospital would be, and frankly I wasn’t very excited about being induced. I was worried about Harley, who has been stressing during the louder portions of construction. I cried as we drove away from the house. I was excited and scared and nervous to finally be going to the hospital and yet it all felt totally surreal, this (relatively) calm drive to meet our baby.
We checked into Scripps Mercy, filled out some paperwork and went into labor and delivery room 8. Our nurses were, coincidentally, the same two nurses who gave me the non-stress test the week before and I felt very comfortable with them. Clarke handed over a copy of our birth plan which basically stated that I wanted as natural a birth as possible but was willing to do whatever necessary to have a healthy baby in the end. The nurses explained that they’d be administering Cervidil to “ripen” my cervix, a medication that is the less intense than Pitocin. That was something I hadn’t been expecting and it helped a good deal in relaxing my fears about inducing labor. They said the medication stayed inserted for twelve hours at which point they may need to move on to Pitocin depending on how things were progressing. Well, we thought, perhaps she won’t be born on Clarke’s birthday after all. I had been having very light contractions for about a week and had hoped I’d be more dilated, but alas no, I was still only at 1 cm dilated. They hooked up the external monitors, one for fetal heart rate and one for contractions, and gave me an IV in my right hand (which the nurse did pretty well considering my tricky veins). Because of the Cervidil, I had to stay lying down. I was allowed to stand up to use the bathroom and the nurses suggested that when I did get up, to take that time to move around instead of just peeing and returning to the bed. While attached to the monitors, I couldn’t go further than a few feet but was able to stretch my legs and work out the kinks; Clarke was a great stretching coach. We began watching Sweet Home Alabama on the laptop. About two hours (?) after being admitted (it was hard for me to keep track of time in there), the nurses became concerned that the baby’s heart rate dropped a few times during contractions. They said if this continued, they’d have to remove the Cervidil and once removed it could not be replaced; at which point a C-section was pretty much the only option to keep both me and the baby safe. They couldn’t determine the cause for the fetal stress, but possible options they told us were meconium in the placenta, an old (past due date) placenta that isn’t strong enough for the contractions, or the umbilical cord placement being wrong. They called my obstetrician and decided to monitor it a bit longer before making any decisions. They had the IV flowing and put an oxygen mask on me. After they left the room, I broke down. I didn’t want surgery but I really didn’t want our baby to be in any danger. Part of me was ready to tell them to do the C-section right now and get her safe. We resumed watching the movie to keep me distracted.
At some point I managed to sleep a little bit. Clarke said I continued to have stronger contractions, but clearly nothing strong enough to wake me up. The baby’s heart rate was looking good until another deceleration (drop in heart rate) occurred and the nurses came back in again to reposition the monitors to ensure that it wasn’t a result of the monitor not being positioned properly. Again came the conversation that we may have to do a C-section. We told them that we’d do whatever to keep her safe. I took this round much better than the last (at least I think I did). We tried watching television to keep distracted but I kept my eyes on the monitors a lot. The nurses’ shift ended and I met my night nurse, who was just as nice as the others. The contractions continued getting stronger and suddenly there were three nurses rushing into our room. One watched the monitors, one of them removed the Cervidil and the third came at my left arm with a needle. I barely had a chance to ask what it was (something to stop the contractions) before she injected me. It all happened very quickly which only succeeded in scaring me more. They monitored me a while longer to see how baby did without the Cervidil but when another deceleration occurred, this time not during a contraction, they called in the obstetrician. I had been laboring about six hours.The obstetrician I’d seen throughout my pregnancy, Dr. Hui, wasn’t on call that night so her colleague, Dr. Van Den Heuvel (who we’d met), was coming in to do the C-section. Once Dr. Van Den Heuvel arrived, she came in to talk to us and said that she was confident that a C-section was the best route to go. It wasn’t an emergency C-section, which she said could happen if we continued to wait. She explained the procedure, asked if we had any questions and away we went. While Clarke suited up and waited in the hallway, they took me into the operating room. I tried to avert my eyes from all the operating equipment; I didn’t like thinking of this as an operation. I climbed on the table and closed my eyes. I was leaning forward on the nurse (Mary Jo) to allow the anesthesiologist access to my spine. As the anesthesiologist injected the spinal block, my left leg shot out of its own accord and kicked Mary Jo. It felt like I’d hit my funny bone, if my funny bone were in my leg instead of my elbow. The anesthesiologist said this happens because I wasn’t totally centered and that my left leg would go numb first shortly followed by my right leg. It all happened in less time that it took me to write this sentence. Suddenly I was totally numb from waist down and the numbness was spreading up my body. It was a feeling I never want to feel again, the complete lack of control over my own body. Mary Jo deftly swung my legs up on the table and the nurses (several of them) adjusted me. I had enough feeling in my arms to lay them outstretched to each side (the table looked like a big cross and I really tried not to think about it that way). Everyone moved quickly but not rushed. They inserted a catheter and set up the screen (I did not want to watch). Clarke was finally let in and came to sit by my head. It went quickly, maybe 30 minutes. The whole time I kept my eyes closed, just listening to Clarke’s voice and trying to ignore the other noises in the room. I could feel slight tugs and pulls from my stomach region which was weird but oddly reassuring that I wasn’t permanently numb. Suddenly, I heard her cry. The doctor said that C-section babies don’t always cry right away and that is perfectly normal and fine. But not our little girl. She let out a wail as soon as they got her out. Clarke and I both began crying. Clarke went over to watch her and cut her umbilical cord, and then brought her over by my head so I could take a look at our baby girl. She looked so pale wrapped in a white blanket with a white beanie but the doctor said she was totally fine. I just kept staring at her and listening to Clarke’s voice while they finished the procedure. My body (what I could feel of it) began to shake uncontrollably, but the anesthesiologist said that was a normal reaction after giving birth and not to fight it. Once everything was done, they put her on my chest. I was afraid at first because every part of my body was either numb or shaking, but she lay there with her warm body and I put my arms around her and the shaking slowed. They told us that there was meconium (poop) in the placenta and that some was found in her mouth and throat but thankfully not in her lungs. This was the cause of the fetal stress. They wheeled us into a recovery room where we spent the next two hours. The nurse put her in a bassinet nearby for a little bit while checking her out, but otherwise she spent her time on my chest with Clarke right by our side. Around 1:30am (December 8th), we were taken to our room. The nurse gave her a bath and we spent more time cuddling before finally all falling asleep. Several nurses came in and out to check on me and the baby throughout the night (I guess technically, it was morning). Around 7am, Clarke began making phone calls, text and Facebook posts announcing the arrival of our daughter, Ashlyn Kailani Kay Graves.
Ashlyn – the name Clarke would have had if he had been a girl, a derivation of his mother’s maiden name
Kailani – kai is Hawaiian for sea (pronouced ky, rhymes with sky), lani is heavenly
Kay – for my mom
As I finish writing this, our baby is one week old and life has never been better.
Ashlyn Kailani Kay Graves, born December 7th, 2011 at 10:17 pm. 7 pounds, 11 ounces, 21 inches long. Ashlyn’s photo gallery
Pseudo-time lapse of our home addition thus far, as viewed from the backyard. If you can’t get the embedded video to play, here’s the You Tube link: Home Addition.
On Monday a big Peterbuilt arrived to drop (literally) a lot of sand for the stucco.
If you can’t get the embedded video to play, here’s the YouTube link: Sand Drop.
On Monday and Tuesday, the first layer of stucco, the “scratch” layer went on then was setting until Friday. Friday and Saturday, they were here doing the “brown” layer, which has nothing to do with the final color. The next step for stucco is coloring, but that won’t happen for 30 days since it needs to set until then.
Meanwhile, the drywall guys were here putting the final coats and texture on the inside walls. They did us a favor and finished up the baby’s room first so it could dry by this weekend.
The paint guy, Martin, is scheduled to come this Tuesday. But Clarke was getting anxious and painted the baby’s room himself on Friday night. On Saturday, Clarke finished painting, put the crib together and moved our bedroom furniture back in place. Who says nesting is only for the pregnant mom? Until our new bedroom is ready (probably another two weeks), we’re bunking with the baby.
We (mostly Clarke) hung blinds in Baby’s room this evening so we finally have some privacy in the bedroom again. We had been relying on the plastic sheeting and then an old sheet hanging on a shower curtain rod.
We’re getting so close! If Baby doesn’t come on her own by the end of this coming week, I’ll be induced. So, one way or another, she should be here by next weekend. !!!!!
41 weeks. Almost 1 cm dilated. Had a non-stress test done, everything looks good. Scheduling induction for next week, unless she shows up on her own. Pretty sure I felt my first contractions yesterday. It was also the first day I was done with being pregnant.
I’ve been trying to walk at least a bit every day. Most of the time, I still walk Harley first thing in the morning, although there have been a few rough mornings for me where Clarke has to take over that duty. Some days I feel great and putz around the house getting stuff done (sewing, cooking, web design, etc) and some days, I sit on the couch all day watching movies, reading and napping. The days are easier than the nights. Sleeping is uncomfortable no matter what I do. Sometimes I can sleep through the night (with a few potty breaks, of course). Other nights I wake up (3 am seems to be popular) and stay awake until around 6 am when I finally fall back asleep for a few hours sitting on the couch (stupid heartburn). We’re basically in a holding pattern until she arrives. We still make plans, although not too far in advance, and always with the caveat that we might not make it. Our next doctor appointment is Thursday (41 weeks) at which we’ll schedule an induction for sometime in the following week in case she doesn’t show up on her own before then.
Thanks for all the well-wishes, lunch dates, movie dates, phone calls, texts, Facebook messages and love!
We have walls! Despite being a holiday week, the addition kept moving forward (yay!). Drywall went up on Monday and Tuesday last week.
The metal edging on every drywall corner was done on Wednesday.
Everyone (including us) took Thursday off for Thanksgiving, and not for baby’s arrival, we’re still waiting on that. Drywall taping and patching (?) was done on Friday while Clarke and I Black Friday shopped online for curtains and set up my new computer.
Clarke and I picked up a few bits and pieces for the house last week including the accent tile for the bathroom and the flooring for the family room. We got the last boxes of laminate flooring in “oak”; so glad we didn’t wait another day!
This coming week: final drywall taping/patching/texturing inside and stucco outside and then the painting begins!