Yesterday was the first day in a year that I didn’t take a picture. I made a conscious decision to not take a picture, and it was difficult to abide by that decision. You were playing on the coffee table with your horses, and your round belly was sticking out, full from dinner. We had taken your shirt off because we had curry and I didn’t want your shirt getting stained. You made clip-clop noises and your horse stopped to have a snack and then kept galloping across the table, guided by your hands and voiced by your voice.
Instead, I captured the image with my mind, and honestly, I feel kind of regretful. There’s a duality to that moment – I enjoyed it, wasn’t scrambling for my camera, was enjoying watching you play without having to watch you through the lens of my camera. I struggled with that all last year – the camera. But these moments are so fleeting, and how long will my memory of you beginning to imagine and play independently really last?
With this in mind, I’m committing to a smaller project this year. I’m going to post on the weekends. I’m not setting a number of photos per day, or per week, or month. I’m going to capture the things about you that I find delightful. If that means we end up with another 300+ pictures this year, that’s okay. If it means I post a lame picture at the end of the day on Sunday and call it a week, that’s fine too. If I post only sleeping photos, or photos only in the bathtub, that’s okay too.
Last year’s project was a challenge for me. It was a time commitment unlike what I thought I was getting into when I started. As I learned to use my camera and got a few “really good” shots by accident, I was determined to have more good pictures. Lenses and cameras broke. Hard drives failed. There were some really hard weeks where I had to work late and spent almost no time at home. I relied on people to help me (mostly Daddy) to help me finish, to take pictures I couldn’t take because I couldn’t set them up, was working, or was busy cuddling.
It was hard. It was not an easy project to finish. I’m glad I did. I looked back at those pictures, the digital stack ever-growing through the year, and watched you grow. Looked at your happiness, OUR happiness, and smiled. Looked at you exploring the world with wonder and growing excitement and awareness. And I get to see it again, whenever I want to. And it makes me smile. I’m proud of myself for finishing. It is a gift to you.
You are a delight to me. Thank you for being my daughter.
January 2, 2013
A breakdown of our photos throughout the year…
2 posts with no pictures
2 videos (here and here)
2 dog pictures
4 days with multiple pictures
7 cat pictures
18 eating pictures
19 bathtub pictures
21 sleeping pictures (I thought there would be more!)
22 pictures with Daddy
25 pictures BY Daddy
29 pictures with Mommy
32 pictures in the family bed (including most of my favorites from the year, like this, this, this, this and this)
33 naked pictures
101 pictures not at home
125 pictures outside
You now help to dump water on your hair, wash your toes, and wash your belly. You love it when I scratch your scalp when we wash your hair, and when I rub your soapy back.
I think it’s interesting how all of the sudden you have all of these *things* in your crib – multiple blankets, a lovey, a music box… and you tuck in and curl up enough to not touch any of them, seemingly aware of their presence and proximity even as you sleep.
For Christmas, Auntie D got you a purple cape with a bold “V” – Ultraviolet, of course! You finally spotted it hanging on the wall of your room today, and although you wouldn’t model the matching glasses, had fun running around the yard, making Daddy run and fly you around the yard, and showing us “how big is Violet” for that perfect superhero pose. You fight crime with your trusty ice scraper!
You should have been asleep by the time we got back from the grocery store, but you want so much to see everything right now that getting you to sleep (ever!) is a challenge. This other picture, where you’re trying to eat Eliot’s face, was a close contender for picture of the day.
Sometimes, you need cuddles while you nap, and sometimes I need them with you. Such a good nap for both of us, and when you woke up, you laughed your silly cough laugh until I woke up too. A good way to end my first workweek of the year, curled up in bed with my girl.
I have decided to participate in a 366-photo Documenting Delight project. You can read more about the project here.
I’m looking forward to sharing my year and having something amazing to show V when she gets older.
We’ll see you in the new year! Happy Holidays!
I was very anxious for Violet to arrive. So when my contractions woke me up on Tuesday (7/12) morning around 4:30, I was excited. And then they kept happening! Enough that I could time them! The pain was different than I’d expected it to be – it hurt mostly in my back (oh thank you, posterior baby) and would wrap around to the front. I always expected it to hurt in the lower front of my belly, where period cramps are, but that never happened for me. Anyway, I was timing contractions and I got to the point where they were 5 minutes apart, and I’d had them for about 45 minutes. I was having to breathe through them and was contemplating waking Rick up because I was staring to have a little trouble coping without distraction. I was about 3 contractions away from calling the midwives and proudly announcing myself as 5-1-1 (5 minutes apart, lasting for a minute, for an hour) when… 8 minutes. Then 12, then 22. Then nothing. Fizzled out totally. I went back to bed (it was around 10:30) and slept for another hour and a half or so.
Rick and I went to my 4:00 midwives appointment, and Joanne reminded me (like I needed reminding) that if the baby wasn’t born by Friday at midnight, they’d have to sign me over to an OB. I consented to having my membranes swept. I was 80% effaced and stretchy and about 2 ½ centimeters dilated at this point. She told us to go walk, and have lots of sex. We went to the mall and wandered around. I had another contraction in Williams Sonoma (looking at knives) and had a few more as we wandered back to the car. I didn’t think anything of it – I thought I was just crampy from the membrane sweep.
We decided on Chevy’s for dinner (in retrospect, this was a very poor idea.) I drove there, and had another contraction in the parking lot. We didn’t wait to sit down, and as the waiter was bringing us chips and salsa, I had another contraction. Rick thought it was probably a good idea to start timing them. All through dinner, I had contractions that were 8 minutes apart. I lamented at the start of one that I hadn’t finished my taco yet. I was famished. The ride home was uncomfortable.
I got home and took a bath, just to see if this was more labor that was going to fizzle out. My contractions were actually a lot stronger in the bathtub. I chatted online for a bit, and then waddled out to the living room to hang out with the birth ball and watch the All Star Baseball game. I continued having contractions every 8 minutes or so. The game finished up, and Rick and I were just chatting (he rubbed my back during contractions) and then at 10:30 or so, I felt a pop and then a lot of wetness, so I exclaimed (in total ladylike fashion) “either I just pissed myself or my water just broke.” I grabbed the towel that was lying on the couch, and went to the bathroom.
Rick needed to take a picture of my amniotic fluid on the carpet, apparently.
And then, the shit kinda hit the fan. Instead of every 8 minutes, my contractions were coming every 2 ½ minutes. And they hurt. They hurt a kind of pain that I have never before experienced. I thought my spine was trying to climb out of my body through… itself? I have no idea. It hurt. We dealt with this for about thirty minutes before we called the midwives. Nikki called us back after about 3 minutes and talked to Rick for a minute while I moaned through a contraction. She talked to me, said I sounded awfully chipper, and that’s when I ran to the toilet, and lost the Chevy’s. Goodbye, steak taco, I hardly knew ye.
Nikki said we should probably come in. (I learned later that they thought I was miraculously in transition because I was throwing up. Ha. Ha. Ha.) So off we went. That car ride sucked. I gave Rick permission to speed and had visions of having a contraction as the cops talked to him (which wouldn’t have been difficult. They maintained their every 2-3 minute status for the next 8 hours.)
We got to the birth center, and it took me quite awhile to even walk inside. Got in there, and they did a cervical check. I was 3cm. Nikki tried three times to get an IV in, and finally got it on the 4th try. (I’ve always been a hard stick. I’d never had an IV until I gave birth…) She started up a bag of fluids and my first round of antibiotics, since I was GBS+. I lay on the bed and tried to relax.
At this point things get hazy. I remember moaning kind of like a cow for a very long time. I dreaded the start of each contraction. The pattern changed, and I’d have 2 or 3 contractions back to back, and then a minute or two of rest in between. I had three piggy-backing 60 second contractions every 5 minutes or so. I labored in the bed, with Rick pushing on my back. I remember going to the toilet and sitting there and crying. I remember saying around 3am that I couldn’t do it anymore. They encouraged me and said I could. Apparently I fell asleep between some contractions. I could not stop moaning and being miserable. I had to constantly remind myself to keep my tones low and not high pitched. This became much more difficult as time went on. As I got more tired, things got really squealy.
At around 6am, I went and sat on the toilet again and it was decided that there was meconium in my amniotic fluid. It wasn’t thick, and it wasn’t early in my labor, so it was determined to not be a problem. But as I sat on the toilet, I mentally checked a few things. I decided at that point that it was a shame I was never going to be a mother, because I was going to die. And I was not upset about dying. I don’t really know how to explain that thought process. Something hurt, and I knew something was not good, and I knew that death was better than continuing. (Or, so said my monkey brain after 12 hours of un-medicated labor.)
I told the nurse I wanted to go to the hospital. She encouraged me to relax. In my brain, the midwives were trying to keep me from leaving. (They may have been. I’m sure they want to encourage people to work past things and have the natural birth they wanted.) I felt trapped. They did another cervical check, and I was “somewhere between 3 and 4.” I stood up to pack up my shit, because I was leaving. They convinced me to stay until the bag of antibiotics (I think it was my second?) finished. We left the birth center around 8:30 and drove to the hospital.
We got there and I remember getting out of the car and taking a looooong time to get upstairs to L&D. I had four contractions walking the 50 feet to the elevator, and another one getting out of the elevator, and then like, three more getting through the door. I got to skip triage and go directly to my birth room. I guess when you’re moaning loud enough to make all of the nurses look at you when you walk in, you get to skip the evaluation part. (Or maybe it’s because my chart came over with me from the birth center and clearly said: Admit URGENT, but I didn’t see that until hours later.)
I parked myself on the toilet, because I was bearing down (and I knew I shouldn’t have been, but I had to, because it was the only thing that made it feel even the least bit better). Eventually the nurse (Ann, who was great) told me they could make the bed sit up like a toilet/chair and I should move there so they could start doing my intake paperwork. She did do a blood draw in the bathroom though, because I couldn’t move.
And then, the best man in the universe entered the room. I would love to say it was my husband, but it was the anesthesiologist. I had to sign the consent form (I would have signed away anything), he explained the risks (including the 1 in 300 people who get spinal headaches. I hope you’re taking notes, this will be important later) and off he went. I had 2 contractions while he was placing the epidural, but the lovely nurse Ann, was just lovely and helped me sit still through them. And then… bliss. I had 3 more contractions I could feel and then just nothing. (I’ll get into the emotional aspect of this part of my birth later.)
Things continue to be fuzzy. I know I napped. I know Kiija showed up and was resplendent and amazing and brought food (shhhh) and took amazing pictures. At some point I napped. And Diana came and visited for awhile. And I napped some more. At some point during napping, my midwive (Joanne) came and talked to me about pitocin and hooked me up. I was unhappy about the pitocin, but at that point I was 6cm and 100% effaced, and my contractions were slowing down. They started the dose very small and everything picked back up.
Lovey tummy rubs
There were some lovely discussions about bikini waxing and the food police with Joanne, Kiija, and the student midwife Marie. (She was amazing! She’s going to be an absolutely amazing midwife and I’m glad I changed my mind and let her attend the birth.) Things are fuzzy again for awhile here, with the napping and the chatting and everything. They checked me at 6:00 and I was fully dilated, but they wanted me to labor down for a bit to let her descend further into my pelvis before I started pushing. Having an epidural was really strange. I couldn’t’ feel my legs if I poked them, and if I tried to move them, I knew they were there but they felt too heavy. My feet felt like they were the size of snowshoes.
My feet, not the size of snowshoes.
At 6:45 or so I started pushing. They started me on my back, and I asked why since obviously all of the natural birth literature says that’s the worst position, but Joanne told me that for babies that are posterior (which she wasn’t anymore, but pushing with the side of her head, as we found out when she came out) it can help to turn them if you push the legs far enough back. It becomes like a squat, only lying down. So I pushed like that three or four times, and she turned. They rolled me over to side-lying and I pushed a few more times (six contractions maybe?) and they could see her hair. They told me to reach down and feel my daughter’s head. It was incredible. I think I started crying there. Her heartbeat kept decelerating, and they gave me oxygen, and I remember commenting that it smelled like a plastic swamp inside the mask.
Because I was pushing thick meconium, and her cord was wrapped around her neck (they’d seen it on the sonogram I’d had the day before to check my fluid levels) they performed an episiotomy. There was another thing I didn’t want to happen. But it literally was pinky-nail sized and took 4 stitches (and honestly, it didn’t hurt even during the healing process… my back hurt worse than anything in my nethers.) Her head came out, and then I was told to eek out the shoulders, and poof! I felt the rest of her body move out in a large gush, which was unexpected because I hadn’t felt anything until then. She was alert, but not crying. She was born at 7:18.
All of the fears and doubts I’ve expressed about becoming a mother in the last few months vanished. They were simply gone, and replaced with this entirely overwhelming feeling of love and protectiveness. It was the most immensely changing moment of my life.
I didn’t get the birth I planned for. I stuck it out for 16 hours before I “caved” and wanted my epidural. Knowing that I hadn’t progressed at all in nearly 12 hours and knowing what that would mean for the rest of my labor totally overrode my desire to have a natural birth. I know that’s what nature intends, but nature also intends for babies to be pushing with the backs of their heads, and to not pass bowels before they’re born. It ended up being good that we were at the hospital anyway – she was easily identified as jaundiced by 4am after her birth, and that’s a whole different post.
I thought I’d feel like a failure for not having the birth that I wanted, but really I don’t. Everyone’s story of arrival is different, and no matter how much you plan for what you want, I think that truly I thought that the only outcome that mattered was a healthy baby. And I believe that even more now, that she’s home, and she’s healthy. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t know what I would have done in cave man times. Gotten through it, I suppose, but maybe not? This was Violet’s birth, and I did the best I could. I think the result ended up being pretty amazing.