tehuti: (Running Wolf)
I normally only do posts like this after some sort of event, usually a con of some kind. But I've been really busy lately, and to catch up, I'm breaking out my "quick thoughts" entry style.

Our little Raspberry has grown up into a Munchkin. Every time we call him that, I picture him with a Baby Club of Cuteness +3 and a Spiked Diaper Cover, kicking in a door and Looking For Trouble.

Seriously, he's growing up so fast!

Thank you to all of you that got that joke and laughed a little reading it.

I've been applying to jobs on a fairly regular basis for the last month and a half. At least two or three a week. Trying to find something in my field is going to be very difficult. Finding anything at all that pays me enough to make it worthwhile to be full time or a part time flexible enough to let me take care of the baby is going to be a challenge.

Still working on finding freelance writing work. I'm getting more targeted assignments from Yahoo, which is good. My other main source of writing income looks to be drying up. Not sure if this is temporary or not.

Got leads on a few new markets for writing. Nothing to report yet, other than I'm plugging away.

Did I mention that the baby is already four months old? He's not crawling yet, but he rolls around pretty good. And he LOVES to stand. With help, of course. It wouldn't surprise me if he's one of those kids that skips crawling and goes straight for walking.

My Bunker Hill paper was nominated for an award. I'll know whether or not I win in the middle of September. Fingers crossed!

I've been offered an interesting book review opportunity. Ever read one of those academic book reviews where the reviewer looks at two books on the same subject and compares and contrasts them? I'm doing that with two new books on the Battle of Bunker Hill. As soon as the books come in from the publisher, anyway.

Last week I ran an 8k (almost five miles) with the local running club. I ran that distance much faster than I thought, which was very happy making. And I wasn't last! But best of all, with about a quarter mile to go, I reached down for the last of my reserves and finished strong. But even bester than that, after I was done, I thought to myself, "I'm tired, but not as tired as when I ran the half marathon two weeks ago." And that's when it really hit me for the first time. "Holy shit! I really ran 13.1 miles!"

Today was a tough day with the Munchkin. He was not happy without mommy, threw up on me twice, and absolutely refused to do the one thing that would make him feel better; take a nap. I was supposed to go to a fiction writers group in Northampton this evening, but was completely unprepared and frazzled so I begged off.

The silver lining? I took out my fatherly frustrations on my Bikilas this evening. Ran a 5k in 33 flat. Best time this year. And afterward, I felt much better physically and emotionally. Remember this, Micah. Running is good for you in more than one way. Make time for it.

I am really looking forward to Pi-Con this weekend. Like, almost stupidly so.

We have a fridge! Ian got us a furniture dolly with stairclimbers. They are these little tank-tractor looking things that help you slide heavy things up stairs. And with it, we were able to get the new fridge upstairs and the old one out to the garage. Our new fridge is full of awesome. And food. This is a goodness.

Family-wise, we've been having a lot of high-level discussions about goals, desires and long range plans. This also makes me stupidly happy.

The Munchkin is finally starting to sleep in his crib. When we go to bed, he still ends up in the basinet on the bed with us, for Aimee's convenience. But he's using his crib, which means we all get some adult time sans baby most evenings.

I need to make time for fiction writing. I'm sitting on a bunch of ideas that are too good to just moulder away in my brain. I'm strongly considering doing NaNoWriMo this year, for the first time since the first time I did it, to force me to write fiction. All comments and opinions to either encourage me or stop me welcome.
tehuti: (Default)
Me: You've had a pretty good day, kiddo!

Baby on Lap: (smile)

Me: You've played on the floor! And napped! And nursed! All that's left is a good poop and it's a perfect day!

Baby on Lap: (smile)

Me: That's right! A big poop! POOP POOP POOP! Because pooping is the best!

Baby on Lap: (bigger smile)

Me: (serious tone) Well...maybe nursing is better than pooping. I guess pooping is number two, huh?

Baby on Lap: (smile)

Me: HA!!! Daddy made a funny!

Baby on Lap: (biggest smile)
tehuti: (Default)
Twelve weeks ago, our little Munchkin was born. So while he isn't three months old until next week, technically he is. He's three lunar months old, how's that for a compromise?

All of the adults are caught in the same loop. We cannot believe it's only been three months, and what do you mean it's already been three months! And he's growing so fast! We've finally left pretty much everything newborn-sized behind. We haven't been able to use the newborn sized cloth diapers for more than a week already. It became official when we sorted the newborn clothes into "keepsake" and "regifting" piles earlier this week. I'm amazed at his growth despite his small stature. He's under the average in weight, but about average in length. If he turns out to be tall and skinny, I'll be OK with that. So despite his low weight, he's growing just fine.

What's really amazing is how expressive he's becoming. He started smiling a few weeks ago, genuine smiles, as opposed to "I'm pooping" smiles. He's learning to recognize hand signs. Aimee and Ian took a baby sign language class, so I've been trying to use them with him. We all have. I don't know if he truly associates the sounds we make to the motions we make, but he definitely likes to watch us do it! He likes it when we sing, too. His current favorite is the classic Top 40 hit, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes".

He's getting much more vocal, too. He's always had slightly different cries for "hungry", "tired", "wet" and "infant meltdown". But he's getting *this close* to giggles and laughter. For you parents or kid-wise folks out there, he's starting to do the baby squeal that is the immediate precursor to true laughter. He's been giggling in his sleep for weeks (which, incidentally, is one of the cutest things he does), and I suspect that in not much longer, he'll be doing it awake as well.

He's developed a lot of other sounds and noises, too. But what amuses me the most is when he gets excited. When the Munchkin is excited, he flails like there's no tomorrow. His favorite place to do this is the changing table. I think the changing table might be his second-favorite place in the whole wide world, right after whichever of Mommy's boobs is currently available. He's a fairly fastidious child, and seems to like feeling clean. That "clean feeling" extends to clothing. He's positively giddy when we change his clothes. I've watched him, more than once, go from inconsolable mess to smiley boy just by putting him on the changing table.

His third most favorite place, though, is the bathtub. He's actually been in the "big boy" tub once, with mom, but most of the time, bathtime is in the kitchen sink. And like both of his bio parents, he loves being in warm water. And "warm" is definitely required. We took him in a "heated" pool while on the Cape two weeks ago, and he did not care for the cold! It was fine for the adults, but definitely not for him. When I found where the heated water jetted back into the pool, and stood there with him, that was ok. But otherwise, he was not a happy baby.

Essentially, the Raspberry is ripening right on schedule. He's growing and developing as he should, and we fall more in love with him every day. I'm writing this tonight, actually, for two reasons. First, it's been way too long since the last baby update. Second, he's off with his moms tonight, and won't be back tomorrow. It's the longest amount of time I've been away from him, and I'm not sure I like it. I'm actually home alone (completely alone, except for the four-feets. Even the downstairians are all out tonight), which is nice. But I kinda miss my son, so I'm writing about him.

Oh. And his moms. I miss them, too. But it's not the same. They go away on overnight trips a few times a year, so this is normal for them. But not Ian. He goes out often enough that it's no big deal.

Wait. I mean, of course I miss all of my partners equally when they aren't home! I'm eagerly awaiting all of them to come home.

But maybe the Munchkin just a tad bit more.
tehuti: (Default)
Seven weeks old.

It’s difficult to fathom how much life has changed in the last (almost) two months. I am all but done with graduate school (for now). I’ve started training for a half marathon (yes, I’m crazy. And apparently a masochist). I’m a father again (and there was a time within the last few years when I’d have laughed at the idea). We’ve all rearranged schedules and responsibilities to maximize time at home, both to help Aimee and spend time with Connor.

I feel like a broken record, because I know I’ve talked about this a lot. “This” being our adventures into parenthood and how life has changed. But that is pretty much the biggest thing in my life right now. Our lives, more accurately.

We’re all handling parenthood just fine. Mich, who was very nervous about breaking the baby at first, is turning out to be a fine baby wrangler. Aimee is a natural mother, going at it with the gusto she brings to everything she does. Ian doesn’t know it, but I keep catching him with a goofy grin on his face.

He doesn’t think we’re paying attention.

As for myself, I cannot complain. The semester ended in early May, so I get to spend a lot of time home caring for the baby. And that really is how I think about it. I’m lucky to be in a family where I don’t have to immediately run out and start finding a job, any job, in order to make ends meet. I can take my time, look for the right opportunity, and finish preparing for my exams. This means I can take some of the work from Aimee so she can get back to being one of the family breadwinners. It makes sense on a lot of levels, this change.

It’s more surprising how little some things have changed. We’re still going out to some of our favorite restaurants. We’re still managing to keep up with household chores. We’re still going to yoga classes, social events, even the theater, in various combination up to and including all four of us. We’ve puzzled out how to travel with an infant. Most of the family (your erstwhile narrator excluded, stupid comp exams) went to Mass MoCA today. For those of you scratching your heads, that would be the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, a wonderful place that lies hidden in the shadow of Mt. Greylock, up in North Adams. For the record, that’s a three-ish hour round trip drive. Our little trooper was out for over nine hours today and everything went without a hitch.

Well, almost. Must remember to pack the magic mommy juice with ice packs EVERY time. Or it’s not pretty.

So what all this means is that we are settling down into “normal” life (our kind of normal, anyway), and things aren’t as different as we thought they would be.

Except, of course, in all of the ways that they are.
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Before I get into how my family spent our first Mother's Day, I'm going to talk about Connor for a bit. The Great Formula Experiment continues. He's gaining weight, and getting longer, so we're going to keep on supplementing Aimee's milk while we try to figure out how she can make more, or if we can change her diet to make it richer. Connor's innards are finally cooperating with the new diet, and exploding baby bottoms are a thing of the past.

In the last few days, Connor has started smiling. He did it with me first, late last week. I wasn't sure it was real until he did it more than once. For those unaware, babies can first smile due to gas, impending bowel movements or Democratic victories at the polls. Got to rule everything out to before you can be sure your baby is smiling at you and not for something else.

Saturday was Noho Pride. The whole family went, and four out of five of us marched. Actually, one was carried, but we'll count that anyway. I stayed at the table for TBC to keep an eye on things. Not much to report other than that. Pride is always great, we ran into a lot of friends and acquaintances that met the baby for the first time, and good times were had by all.

Sunday was Mother's Day. It was our first as a family, so we had some special plans in mind. It started off simple, with cards. Ian got the two moms matching pendants, and later this week, I'm going to take them out to select matching beads for their bracelets. Like those Pandora beads, ya know?

We started off trying to go to breakfast at our favorite place. It's called Three Cafe, a tiny little place down the street from us that uses farm-fresh, organic ingredients. Sadly, they are always busy on the weekends, and for Mother's Day, they had live jazz outside on their patio. The wait was at least an hour, so we gave up and headed north.

We headed north because our main plans for the day had us going to Montague (which is a bit north of Amherst, most of the way to Greenfield, for those of you that care). Of all places, we ended up at the Route 9 Diner in Hadley. A lot of local social groups meet there, so it's a place we all eat at quite a bit. Back in the day, when Aimee and I were still doing Rocky Horror, it was the cast's after-show eating place. Getting there is easy. As we liked to say (and the current cast still does), "It's a diner. On Route 9. In Hadley. Figure it out!"

The first stop after breakfast was the Bookmill. Their motto is perfect, "Books You Don't Need in a Place You Can't Find". It's the bestest used book store in all of western Mass., and one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to waste time in. It's an old mill building, with a nice waterfall out back, with books winding through the building on two floors. It's a really good thing it's so far from home, or we'd be there a lot, and spend far more money on lots of books we don't really need.

I didn't mean for this blog post to turn into a travelogue.

The main event of the day was at a place called Red Fire Farm. It's a local organic farm, with two properties, one in Montague and the other down our way, in Granby. Last fall, we ran a 5k race on their Granby farm called the Tomato Trot. It covers most of their farmland, and ends near the tomato greenhouses and farm stand. It was a blast, and I'm already looking forward to doing it again. Last summer, we bought a lot of produce from them at the Forest Park Farmer's Market (every Tuesday from May through October), so this year, we simply signed up for a CSA.

For Mother's Day, they were running a workshop on making planters, followed by tea. About thirty people showed up. We made a nice little planter of herbs in a hanging basket to put on the porch, with a few left over to put outside in our garden box. The day included a short ride and tour of the farm, run of the greenhouse and homemade pastries to go with the aforementioned tea. The weather stayed sunny and nice all day.

The best part? We were just hanging out, being together, having fun. In the last month, we've spent so much time together that we should be ready to kill each other, or at least getting on each other's nerves. But that's not what's happening. We've been a family unit for a long time, but with Connor's arrival, we've suddenly hit a new gear we didn't know we had. It's been a wonderful ride, and shows no signs of stopping.

Back in March, we did a talk/presentation/Q&A session about polyamory for a conference at Hampshire College. We talked about our family, how we came together, how our dynamics work, stuff like that. Some folks in the audience expressed disbelief. We made it sound too easy. The way we've been living lately reminds me of that. It does feel easy, and if I were reading someone else's blog, I wouldn't believe it, either. But it only feels that way because we laid the groundwork years ago. Being poly isn't easy. We're constantly checking in with each other, talking about our lives, our goals, our fears, all that relationship stuff. Our family didn't happen automagically, although someone just meeting us now wouldn't really know that.

I kinda wish I was writing about the formation of our family back when it was happening. Well, I did some of that, but more in the vein of "this stuff happened" rather than writing thinky-thoughts about the process. So consider this an invitation, dear readers. Ever wanted to ask me/us a question about our family? Let me know, and I'm make them the subject of a future post.
tehuti: (Default)
Connor is four weeks old today! Does that count as one month? People don't differentiate between one lunar and one calendar month, do they? Has anyone ever heard a parent say proudly, "My little angel is three lunars old!"

Maybe I'm overthinking this.

Whether or not he's officially one month old, that is not the momentous occasion I want to write about today.

A few days ago, we contacted Connor's pediatrician. In the first month of life, a newborn should lose some weight initially, but fairly quickly regain it and begin to increase in size and mass. Connor has grown in length (about a half-inch, give or take a smidge), but his weight hasn't recovered to his birth weight yet. So Aimee called the doctor, and we brought him in for a weigh-in. Sure enough, he was just shy of 8 pounds.

We had doubts about the accuracy of the scale when we was born. His birth weight was 9 lbs .06 oz., but the very next day he dropped to 7 lbs 6oz. The doctor said he wasn't too concerned about that, because Connor seemed healthy, and was eating well, but such a large drop is unusual. And then to only gain a half pound or so in three weeks was also odd. Whether or not the original number is accurate, the doctor recommended that we start supplementing his eating with formula. If he gains weight, then we know there's something wrong with the milk, and we can change Aimee's diet. If he doesn't, then it's something wrong with him, and we start trying to figure out what it might be. We all hope for the former rather than the latter. Changing Aimee's diet is way less difficult and scary.

So we gave Connor his first bottle. I found myself in the unusual position (for me, anyway) of doing something with a baby for the first time; I'd never bottle-fed a baby before. Aimee said the books and experts recommended that you hold a breast-fed baby upright when you give him a bottle, so the experience feels different. You don't want the child to replace breastfeeding completely with bottle feeding.

And while this is also a momentous occasion, it is not the one I wanted to write about today.

Formula is harder to digest than breast milk. This is no surprise. It's made from cow milk, after all. We were warned that he wouldn't go to the bathroom as much now that we were supplementing his feedings. The new pattern is this: first, he eats at Mommy's kitchen. If he's still hungry after a short break, we give him two ounces of formula (organic, from the co-op of course. You didn't think we'd sell out, did you?). Most of the time, I'm the designated feeder. While I give him his bottle, Aimee uses the pump, to continue to stimulate her own production and bank a supply against her returning to work in mid-May. After he drinks about half the bottle, we switch sides, just like he does with mom. Once he's done, we have a good burp, and then either fall asleep or go back to mom for the final top-off.

He got his first bottle Thursday night. He got a bunch more Friday.

Connor kept right on making wet diapers, same as usual. But no solids.

I bet, just now, you saw where this is going.

His last dirty diaper was Thursday afternoon. He went all day Friday without one. And all night Friday night, into Saturday morning. We were starting to get worried. Maybe his system couldn't take the formula? Should we call the doctor back, or just wait for his regular appointment next week? Connor, bless him, made the decision for us.

We have now reached the momentous occasion I wanted to write about.

Saturday morning began like any other day. Aimee woke me up around 7am, asking me to change him. We often don't change him at night, unless he messes his diaper. He hadn't, so she hadn't. She had just finished his morning feed, and wanted to go pump a little more. So I struggled awake, and brought him into his room to get him ready for the day.

Connor is really cute in the morning. He's a little cranky and befuddled, just like me. We're not morning people, him and I. Stripping him down is rote at this point, as is cleaning him up and changing diapers. I decided that it would be fun this morning to get some skin-to-skin tummy time with daddy. Everyone really enjoys it. Lots of contact, nice and warm, what's not to like? So instead of putting him in a onesie, I left him in his diaper, carried him back into our bedroom, and snuggled him on my chest under the covers.

A few minutes later, it happened.

Connor was chewing away on his hand, one of his favorite things to do, when I heard a strange noise. It was an odd whooshing sound, completely unlike any sound that had ever come out of my baby before. It lasted for a second or two, and then was gone. That's all it took. My midsection suddenly felt warmer. I pulled back the covers, not sure what to expect except the worst.

Those of you with squeamish tummies might want to skip the next few paragraphs.

The baby had finally pooped. Dear Gods, did he poop. Under normal circumstances, a poop wouldn't have been a big deal. Breastfed babies don't poop large amounts, nor is it very smelly. If you've never seen it, it's kinda yellowish-brown, mostly liquid, with little sand-like bits of matter in the mix. It looks nothing like poop from a baby eating solids, which is much more what you think of as poop. That stuff looks and smells like what you expect poop to smell like.

This stuff was it's own league. It was a similar color to what we'd gotten used to, but everything else was different. It was thicker, and pasty, oddly like frosting. I know, weird, but that was my first thought. "Ooh, it looks like cake frosting." It had a much stronger odor than normal, and once I threw the covers back, I knew I was dealing with something special. He had filled his diaper completely and then some. It had leaked out on both of his legs and stomach, which of course means he got it all over my stomach, too. It was truly an excrement of epic proportions. Luckily, nothing got on the sheets or blankets. Unluckily, I'm a very hairy man.

Connor continued chewing on his hand, blissfully unconcerned at the carnage he had unleashed.

I hope that this formula experiment is only temporary. As much fun as it is to bottle feed him, I'd much rather feed him his own mother's milk. These "nuclear option" bowel movements are already old, and he's only done it twice.

Let it never be said that life with a baby is uninteresting. At least I get to tell you all about it.
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Anyone that knows us is well aware of just how fast paced our life used to be. Most summers, we ran out of available weekends long before summer ended (and in some cases, before it even arrived). Our calendars were full to bursting with meetings, potlucks, social events, more meetings, concerts, family get-togethers, conventions and yet more meetings. We’ve been this busy for literally years. Sometimes it was a pain in the ass, but overall, it is the life we chose to lead. We still do a lot of stuff, but it’s not like it was, in the before time, in the long, long ago.

I knew living that way came with a price. Spontaneity was largely a thing of the past. If we didn’t schedule something, or block out time for a particular activity, it didn’t happen. This applied for everything like the things listed above to hiking, bicycling, and even yard work and household chores. We never felt like we had enough time to do all of the things we wanted to do, let alone were obligated to do.

We occasionally had to schedule time to do nothing. How sad is that?

All that changed twenty-seven days ago. Babies change your priorities in a hurry. Even if we wanted to go out as often as we used to, we can’t. Connor cannot be out that long. Aimee cannot either. It’s too much for both of them. So now that we are slowing down, something else that was missing is starting to creep back into life. Simple pleasures have made a comeback. These are the sorts of things that you don’t fully realize are missing until you suddenly do.

Mindless things like watching television together, or movies, or listening to music, because we’re not going to or coming home from some meeting every night.

Pleasant things like sitting together at the dinner table, partaking of a meal that didn’t come out of a take-out box or the freezer.

Silly things like having spirited debates over whose turn it is to take out the garbage, change the baby or walk the dog.

Simple things like walking into the pantry, hunting for a snack, and knowing that something yummy is lurking within because we actually had time to go grocery shopping.

And best of all, just laying on the sofa, watching the rain fall on a warm spring day, snuggling with the dog because you can. Got nowhere to go, nothing on the schedule, just sitting. It's a singular pleasure, like little else.

Until you do it with a newborn snoring away on your chest.

That’s a wholly different, wonderful thing.
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It's amazing how different life is now. It's equally amazing how little has changed.

We've hit the three-week mark here at Olympus. The Munchkin (the latest in a revolving series of nicknames, although I think this one might stick) has been constantly hungry the last couple of days. Aimee tells me this is normal for infants between two and three weeks, getting ready for a growth spurt. On that front, we're seeing only incremental change. He's a little bit longer, gaining weight slowly, and stays awake and alert a little but more every day, but nothing dramatic yet.

We've definitely found that new normal I talked about last time. Aimee and the boy-child spend most of their day sitting together on the sofa. Mostly, he eats and sleeps. Come to think of it, that's pretty much what Aimee does, too. More dozing than sleeping, but the concept is the same.

The rest of us have picked up the threads of our old life, with some adjustments. Michy rearranged her schedule so she can be home one day a week. Ian did the same, but he gets two days home. I'm finishing the last of my classes and papers (ten days, five GIS classes, two papers and one history class left!) and thinking a lot about what comes next for me. The next "big change" comes when Aimee has to start going back to work. She's got a trial coming up in mid May that will be the first big test. By then, the baby will still want to eat every few hours, but she could be gone for an entire work day, three days in one week.

To prepare, she's started using a breast pump. If you've never seen one, or watched it work, allow me to describe. The pump itself is a small machine about the size and shape of a homemade explosive device. It even comes in a handy little black bag to solidify the image. A bunch of wires snake out from it, which are used to control the speed of the device. A second set of tubes with large tuba-ish pieces of plastic fit over the female's udders, which lead to two small plastic bottles. The first tube provides suction, which is transferred to mom through the miniature tubas, to simulate an infant's suckling. While running, it makes a strangely soothing rhythmic sound as it extracts the magic mommy juice. And it looks absolutely ridiculous in operation. But since the other options are to use formula (which we are loathe to do), or for me to start lactating, we're going to try this first.

In other news, we're officially transitioning to cloth diapers. I'm a bit chagrined to admit that they are kinda cool. I was really down on the idea when Aimee brought it up, but I'm definitely a convert. We're going to do a lot of laundry, but with a newborn, you do a lot anyway. And we're not filling our garbage, or the landfill, with baby excrement. The newborn ones we're using now are kinda like little shorts that happen to have super absorbent fabric in them. Aimee bought twelve, in different colors and patterns. To her surprise, two of them that looked beige on the website are actually pink in person.

Not to worry though. I assured her that our son is secure in his masculinity. Which isn't saying much since he doesn't know what that is yet, but that is besides the point. And besides that, I know he'll look good in pink. Because I know I do, and he looks so much like me it's scary. He's got some of his mom's good looks, too, but there really is a striking resemblance between the Raspberry and me.

Except in all the ways he resembles Ian. Which should be endlessly amusing as he grows up.
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Connor is now seventeen days old. We're finally starting to find the new "normal".

From his perspective, it's always been "normal". His routine has been pretty much the same since he was born. Eat on demand, sleep as much as possible. Occasionally go out to places that he mostly sleeps through anyway, and that's pretty much it. He's growing (really, we measured him and he's a half inch longer), so we must be doing something right.

His parents on the other hand, are continually adapting. We haven't really had a "normal" day yet. Since we brought him home, we've had a regularly irregular days. All of us were on "maternity leave" for the first week, which was fantastic. That time to just be together was invaluable. Then we started to pick up the threads of life again. We've had a fairly constant stream of visitors, both parents and friends. Ian's mother was here over the weekend. She left Monday morning, to be replaced by Aimee's mother that afternoon.

And about the time we start to even out, the semester is going to end, disrupting things again. I'll be home more, which is good. But that also means that I'll have to finish preparations for my exams, which will be very time consuming. Plus, I plan to really make a go of the writing thing, so I'll have to make time for that as well.

Nonetheless, we're finding our groove as a family. It hasn't been seamless, but we've integrated a baby into our lives fairly well. We've greatly slowed down, which is exactly what we planned to do, but we haven't stopped going out, seeing friends, and being social, either.

I guess this post boils down to this; so far, so good. When you've got a newborn in the house, that's a pretty good way to be.
tehuti: (Default)
Two weeks ago, my family welcomed home the newest member of our family. He’s a beautiful little boy, and we’re happy beyond belief, as most of you following along at home know already. I can’t keep shaking the same thought, every single day. I look at my son, and shake my head.

I don’t know how they do it.

Monogamous parents, I mean. To be really specific, monogamous parents of newborn children.

There is so much bloody work to do! Feeding and diapers and changing and feeding and cuddling and bathing and more changing and laundry and more diapers and more comforting and yet more feeding and none of that takes “regular” life into account. Where do they fit in cooking their own food, their own laundry, their own sleep, for Gods’ sake?

Babies are hard work, everyone knows that. Even if you are blessed like we are, and have a pretty happy and very healthy child, there’s so much to do. Our little bundle of joy is quite a handful. He doesn’t like not being held, and let’s us know it if he’s put down for more than a couple of microseconds. Honestly, he’s a really good baby. Doesn’t cry unless something is wrong; generally he’s hungry, cold, dirty or some combination thereof. He eats every few hours, needs new diapers or clothes slightly less often, and frequently needs help relaxing into sleep. Nothing unusual for a two-week-old newborn, and I’m not complaining about any of it.

But I simply cannot imagine doing it with only two people, or worse, alone as a single parent! Because there are four of us, we’ve been able to trade off housework and sleep and baby duty, so none of us are wandering around looking like overwhelmed, exhausted zombie parents. Every third night or so, someone has baby duty, staying up with the infant so mommy can sleep (“mommy” here referring to the biological mom, who is the only one of us that can feed the little guy at the moment, since we’re exclusively breastfeeding and she cannot pump yet). We’re all working together to keep all of the balls in the air. We’re eating regular meals, the house isn’t a total disaster, we’re not running out of clothing, and errands are getting done. Mom is the most tired of us, but she’s got a good excuse. Giving birth is hard, and nursing is literally a drain on your body. Couple that with only being able to sleep, at most, three to four hours at a stretch, maybe twice a day, and cat naps in between, and it makes for a tired woman.

Imagine how tired she'd be if she only had one person to help? Or none?

There are a lot of advantages to being in a poly relationship. There are lots of advantages to living in a polyamorous household. We knew that having multiple adults around to care for an infant would be great, but I don’t think we had any idea just how great. Unlike the rest of my family, I can speak from direct experience. My ex-wife and I had two children, and when they were babies, we raised them without additional partners, pretty far from our biological families. It was hard to juggle everything. We did pretty well, I thought, but it was a struggle.

It is so much easier to do it this way. If someone is tired, we have backups. If something unexpectedly comes up, we have options. If someone can’t do something they said they would, someone else can step up and make it happen. Taking care of our son isn't easy, but it's certainly easier with more people to pitch in.

Real life is about to intrude. This week, one member of our household (the primary breadwinner) went back to work. Next week, another one does as well. In a month’s time, mom will have to pick up her job again (she works for herself from home, which is good, but her business cannot wait forever). Of all of us, I have the most flexibility. I’m about to finish grad school, and in this economy, it might take a while for me to find work. In the mean time, I get to play Mr. Mom. I have no doubt that taking care of our son is going to get a little more difficult for us as we are forced to go back to our regular lives. But even so, I feel sorry for all of the people in this world trying to take care of an infant with two or fewer sets of hands.

It is often said that polyamory isn’t about sex; polyamory is about love. Maybe the general public would be more interested or sympathetic to our lifestyle if we added a bit to the second part:

Polyamory is about love and family.
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There isn't much to life when you are seven days old. You can't move much, and what movement you do have is jerky and somewhat uncontrolled. For the first couple of days, your eyes don't focus well, nor do the pupils work right. Anything further away than the distance between your face and mommy's when she's feeding you is blurry. You can't do anything for yourself, except suck on your fingers, toes or whatever handy body part happens by your mouth. Luckily, none of your physical limitations matter much. Your job as a newborn baby is to do three things. You don't have to do these three things in any particular order, although they often coincide with each other:

Eat. Sleep. Poop.

The first one is the hardest. Nursing is a skill that takes patience and practice to learn. It's really easy for Mom to just let Baby go to town, but both of them will wind up unhappy pretty quickly if they aren't paying attention. For Mom, it's a huge change. She's known theoretically for months how breastfeeding works, has probably read about it in books or on the Internet, maybe even taken a class or three. But like all battle plans, they do not long outlast contact with the enemy. Mother and child quickly learn that everything the books and teachers say is helpful advice, but they have to figure out what works for them. They have to practice good technique, or Mom will be so sore so quickly that she'll want to cry every time Baby does for more milk. But aside from that, they have to work together to get it right, and it won't exactly match what any of the experts said to do. Mom also has to adjust to being a two-legging walking lunch truck, not necessarily an easy transition to make for modern, liberated women. Having a boy child puts a new spin on a man only wanting you for your body.

Baby is blissfully unaware of all of this. He just wants breakfast. And brunch. And elevensies. And lunch. And so on. He's happy to eat pretty much constantly, and will if Mom lets him. Which mommy is inclined to do, as the second thing all babies have to be good at usually immediately follows eating.

There is a lot more sleeping going on than the other two, which is a blessing as far as the parents are concerned. A newborn child teaches you about a new level of sleep deprivation, the kind that would be illegal if someone did it to a prisoner of war. Mom has to perfect the art of sleeping while sitting up, catching naps in between feedings at all hours of the day. It's only marginally better in families that bottle feed. If Mom exclusively breast feeds, the only way she is going to get any real sleep at all is if her partner stays up with Baby at night. Because inevitably, the middle of the night is Baby's favorite time to be alert, and he simply won't put up with not being held.

Baby has no clue of the havoc he's making of his parent's lives. His day is spent in a perpetual fog of fatigue. If he isn't sleeping, he might be if you look away for a second or two. Never again in life will the gentle sound of snoring be so welcome to the ears. Babies are capable of a dizzying array of cute sounds, snoring foremost to my mind. Baby hiccups are pretty darn cute, too, but if Baby is snoring, then Mom can be as well, and that is like a gift from the gods in the first few days of life.

Poop comes third on the list only because it is the most infrequent thing Baby does. But make no mistake. Pooping is serious business. Just look at Baby every time he does it. He gets a look of determination that is unmatched in his short life. Pooping requires concentration. It's literally the only thing that he does completely on his own. He obviously can't feed himself, and if you wait for a newborn to put himself to sleep you're in for a long night. But pooping, that he can handle.

It's also a lot of fun. Just watch Baby while he does it. He's clearly enjoying himself. He usually starts with a quizzical look. It is a strange thing to be doing, after all. His forehead wrinkles, as he thinks about what he's about to do. Then, without further warning, the gurgling noises begin. He strains a bit, maybe grunts, and then it's all over. But at some point during this procedure, Baby will break out in a smile. He doesn't know what a smile is yet, not like you do. But he does it anyway. Because pooping is fun!

Pooping is a lot less fun for Mom and Dad. Changing a poopy diaper is always an adventure. Baby seems to have an unerring sense for the exact moment to urinate all over Mom, himself, the new diaper, the changing table and maybe the wall if he's close enough to hit it. And there is nothing in the Universe like the black tar that comes out of Baby during the first few days. It's worse than cement. Thankfully, that phase doesn't last long, although Baby never learns that peeing on his parents is a lot less fun for them.

Childhood is essentially a long apprenticeship in being an adult. The learning process starts right away. Within the first hour after birth, many babies are already on the breast, learning how to eat. Not long after that, they fall asleep for the first time. And not long after that, they learn the joys of elimination. In the first few hours of the first day, they learn how to do three things that they are going to do for the rest of their lives. It's easy for us, as parents, to lose sight of just how important these three things are, simply because we do them every day and have been for years. The little things in life matter, especially when they are the only things you know how to do.
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"...Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." - Closing Time, Semisonic.

I heard this song on the radio the other day, and it is perfectly appropriate here. This post is the end of Aimee's labor and delivery, and the beginning of our new life as a family of five.

According to her wishes, as soon as Connor was out, the nurses put him right on Aimee's chest. According to her wishes, they didn't even ask if she wanted any pain killers, and waited until the pulse in his umbilical cord was imperceptible before they offered to let me cut it. They did almost all of the medical exam stuff they had to do while Connor and Aimee simply sat together, bonding in mutual exhaustion. Within the first few minutes, Connor was on the breast, learning the first essential skill in a lifetime of education. Aimee suffered a slight wound during delivery, but taking care of her didn't interrupt a thing. The nurses flowed around us, like the well-oiled machine they are.

For our part, her three partners milled about in stunned pleasure, alternating between taking pictures and stares of pleased bewilderment. And lots of hugs and tears. We started making phone calls to far-flung family and loved ones, letting them know that Connor had finally arrived. One family member in particular couldn't wait, and was on her way to us as soon as her husband got out of work. Aimee's parents arrived about fifteen minutes or so after Connor was born. They came into the room, expecting to see their daughter still hard at work. What they got was their little girl nursing her little boy, and the waterworks began to flow. The look of surprise on her face is one I will not soon forget.

Connor was 20.5 inches long at birth, 9 lbs. .06 ounces, with a head 34 inches in circumference. In every respect, he was a big boy! His feet and hands are huge, his feet in particular. He came out not fitting into newborn sized socks. Like both of his biological parents, he can't wear a hat, either. They just don't sit on his head. He had that squished cute ugliness that all newborns have, and a fairly full head of hair. He's now five days old, and the hair shows no signs of falling out, so we think he's going to keep it. It was no surprise to anyone that a boy child of mine was born with hair that was already over his ears. His eyes were (and still are) the generic blue-grey of most Caucasian babies. Both of his parents have fair eyes, so we suspect he's going to keep them in that general shade.

Time continued to pass by in a blur. There were tests, eating, nursing, visiting friends and family, sleep, and more nursing. Barbara gracefully bowed out about an hour after Connor was born, wanting to give us time to just be alone. We hugged her goodbye. If she's reading this, I hope she knows that we consider her an honorary auntie, and hope she'll accept the title. Aimee's parents left after a little while, to spend the night in a nearby hotel room. Aimee had her first real meal in almost two days. It was hospital food, which was not nearly as good as the cafeteria food, so I went out with Laurel to the local Uno's to get more for all of us. This is a good moment to praise her, as she played a very important role for us. She was our dog sitter, but more than that, she took it upon herself to straighten up and clean our home, so that when we got back, we found things much more orderly than we would have otherwise. I know she'll be reading this eventually, so I'll say for all five of us; we loves us a Laurel, we're thrilled to have her as Connor's crazy auntie, and cannot thank her enough for being part of our life.

Before we knew it, we were heading home. I'm not intentionally skipping things, but honestly, the next day and a half passed by fairly uneventfully comparatively speaking. We rested, helped Aimee regain her strength, ate more cafeteria food, bonded together, and basically hung out until the doctors and nurses pronounced Connor healthy and whole so we could take him home. We came home Monday in the early afternoon, and have been blissfully happy ever since. We know that real life will intrude soon, and force us to pick up the threads of work and school, but for now, we're simply enjoying being a family.

I didn't get to see most of the comments on my Facebook until well after everything was over. I cannot imagine what it was like on the other end of the Internet. I've heard from some of you that you were waiting with baited breath for every update, as eager to greet Connor as we were. One person said that she was refreshing her feed almost constantly, while another switched from computer to mobile devices to make sure she didn't miss an update. The unofficial award for best comment goes to Michael W., for the following: "Congratulations. You have gained a new party member: Level 1 Baby!" Truer words have never been spoken!

I want to end this story by thanking everyone that watched and participated in the live labor updates I was doing over the web. I did it for three reasons. First, I knew that lots of folks that couldn't be in the room with us would really appreciate knowing what was going on. Second, by tweeting events more or less as they happened, I was creating a record to use later. I consulted the log of them to help reconstruct and remember the timeline. Last, my family is from the Internet. This is how we roll!

Reading through all of your well-wishes, comments and congratulations on Facebook and Twitter was wonderful for all of us. In a very real way, every single one of you that took the time to say something was part of this magnificent experience. If I have left you off this list accidentally, the fault is totally mine, and I beg your forgiveness. In the interests of privacy, I've scrubbed out last names, sometimes leaving an initial for clarity. In no particular order, I want to thank:

Alex S., Bette E., Barbara M., Mary S., Jane B., Beverly M., Ellen S., Hugh C., Kelly S., Sara H., Lorelei, Alanya D., Seána, Dusti, Laurel, Jessica C., Crystal H., Eric Z., Mel G., Julie J., Meg and Matthew W., Megan M., Jill O., Matt W., Sariel, Magdelen, Sara B., Kelsi W., RJ, Karen June, Jill K, Justin W-P., Martina R., Michael W., Annie R., Adrian, Michelle S-L., Nick M., Tara R., Eliza J., Jennifer C., Chuck, Sherrell S., Megan P., Gia, Bill A., Ricky M-A., Lisa H., Adam S., Nadia, Victoria C., Angela L., Jessica W., Sarah Rose F., Rebecca M., John and Jennifer R., Dani R., Mark R., Dominic C., Amanda M., Richard A., Katy C., Larry, J.J., Brynn H., Melissa C., Sofia M., B.K., Rhiannon, Lee H., Aiden F., Elaine T., Alice R., Cassie H., Dee, Amelia S., Winterson, Martin G., Georine R., Stephanie S., Faye W., Ricky M., Dawn W., Ron R., Brian R., Alicia H., Jessi C., Donna D., Laura, Michael L., Tikva, Lynne S., Kevin C., Justin C., Esh, Halley C., Amy W., Sandy M., Mariama, Sara Jane L-Z., Taneka and Josh M., Eliza A., Roseanne M., Julia, Ann R., Karen M., Sher, Rachel W., Sunshine and Wally, Adam M., Crystal N., Kiernan, Cid and Bear, Roxy, Andrea F., Tiffany, Ross, Sarah Noel, Jason P., Sarah S., Kali, Bendy, Kay, and Sharon and David von Behren.

Some of you are family, some are friends. Some are blood relations, some married in, some sibs from another mother. Some are fellow activists and educators, some former and current co-workers, still others schoolmates, college friends or fellow grad school masochists. Many of you we see frequently, others we don't, and a very few I've never met in real life at all. Many of you have met all four of us, but quite a few haven't (and I hope someday that changes). There is no way for me to thank you all individually for being with us in virtual spirit on the day our son was born, so this will have to suffice. Never was a child born surrounded by more love as he made his way into this world; from his parents, his family and the electronic throng gathered to celebrate a new life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being part of that amazing day, when our son Connor was born.
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This entry is going to be long, folks. Consider yourself warned.

We finally made it into the room at 1:30pm. They put us in room 1823, one of the largest rooms on the floor, at the far end of the hall, closest to the operating room. I think they put us there for two reasons. They knew that Aimee had a sizable entourage, and that she intended to have a natural, intervention-free birth.

Whenever we talked about having a child, Aimee was always clear about two things. First, that she wanted to have her first child by age thirty. Second, she wanted to do it naturally. We came close on the first one. She turned thirty right around the time she became pregnant. The second desire was tougher. Women today just assume a lot of things about birth as a matter of course. Of course you'll give birth in a hospital. Of course you'll circumcise male babies. Of course you'll take pain medication, and pitocin, and an IV, and everything else the hospital nurses and doctors want to do to you. That's how it's done, right?

Not so for our Princess. She knew what she wanted, and dammit, she was going to have it. Her birth plan reflected that, which I share here with her permission:

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I will have a doula with me for my labor. I have 3 partners who I would like to be present for the birth. They are all very important to me, and I do not want to have to choose who can and cannot be present.

While I recognize that complications can arise, my goal is to have as unmedicated and as intervention-free birth as possible.

Please do not offer me any pain medication. I know that it is available and will ask for it if I choose.

I would like to be given an opportunity to try natural labor progression methods (nipple stimulation, intercourse, walking) before being offered any interventions (ie pitocin)

I would like to eat and drink freely during labor.

I would like the option of wearing my own clothing for labor and the duration of my hospital stay.

I would rather not have an IV unless it is necessary for my health or the health of my baby.

I would like to be able to move freely during labor and make use of any available positioning tools, ie birthing balls, squatting bars.

I would like the option of laboring in a tub if possible. If the tub is not available, I will plan on showering.

I would like to keep a calm environment and would prefer if the lights remained dim.

I would like to keep fetal monitoring and cervical exams to a minimum.

Unless there is an emergency, I would like my child to remain in the room with me at all times.

I would like immediate skin to skin contact with my child. Please perform any newborn exams with my child on my chest.

Please delay cutting my child’s cord until it has stopped pulsing. I would like my partners to be offered a chance to cut the cord if they choose.

I am planning on breastfeeding. Please do not give my child any bottles, whether they contain formula or water, or pacifiers.

If there is an emergency, I would like one partner to be allowed to remain with me, and one partner to remain with the baby at all times.

I would like to avoid being catheterized unless it is absolutely necessary.

I do not want an episiotomy unless it is necessary for the health of my child.

I am having a boy and I do not want my child circumcised.

I do not wish to have a routine pitocin injection to deliver the placenta. Please only offer the pitocin if it is necessary for my health.

I will be having my placenta encapsulated and will bring a cooler to bring it home with me.

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I know that some of you reading this are aware of Bay State's reputation. They have a fairly high rate of caesarian sections, about one in three. They are known to be intervention-heavy, and don't have a lot of experience with doulas, let alone alternative families. If the list above is the kind of birth that Aimee wanted, why weren't we at a more accommodating hospital, like Cooley-Dickinson in Northampton? First and foremost, we live in Springfield. Northampton is at least forty minutes on a good day by car. Bay State is about ten. And if you don't think there's a difference between two or three contraction on the way to the hospital and twelve to fifteen, try having one sometime and I bet your opinion will change. Second, if anything did go wrong, we'd already be at the best place to be. Bay State accounts for almost half of all births in Western Mass. every year, and is the only Level III NICU in our end of the state. These folks really know what they are doing, so we elected to go with their experience and expertise.

Our room was a strange hybrid of hotel and hospital. The lighting was pure institution, with bright overheads supplemented with softer site specific lights. The medical equipment was all mobile and/or concealable, so it was only around as long as we needed it. We didn't have enough chairs (there were five of us in the room, after all), so we got an extra. One of the chairs was a spring rocker, which basically is an oversized chair with a bouncy back. We had a TV (that never got used) and more outlets than we could use. And considering that we brought nearly all of our computers and electronic gadgets along, that's saying something. The bathroom was nothing special. The shower had a hot water governor on it that made using it somewhat unsatisfying. If that was our biggest complaint, we were doing ok, no?

So anyway, by the time we made it to our room, were all hungry, since breakfast was four hours before and none of us had eaten much. Excitement does that to the appetite. I had just tweeted to the world that we were safely ensconced, and could update the folks at home more quickly and easily when I got sent off to the cafeteria to hunt us up lunch. I made it back to the room around 2:30 with lunch, but all Aimee could swallow down was a few bites of a protein bar. At this point, her contractions were coming every two to three minutes, lasting for a minute or more, so to her, it felt like she was getting no break at all.

Aimee labored like a champ, and here is where Barbara really demonstrated why every pregnant woman should have a doula. She gave expert advice on positioning, encouraging Aimee to shift positions frequently to prevent fatigue. She had, of all things, a piece of shelf liner (the kinda rubbery mesh kind that keeps things from sliding around), that she used to hold up Aimee's belly. Taking the weight off of her, for even a few minutes at a time, was an invaluable relief. And I cannot underestimate how important her presence was for Ian, Michy and I. She took the lead on helping Aimee through the beginning of her active labor, which kept the rest of us physically fresh for when Aimee needed us later. She also taught Aimee a technique to use sound to stay on top of her contractions. They harmonized together, at a low frequency (kinda like a modified "ohm"), to help her stay focused. It worked amazingly well, almost to the very end, when the pain and frequency finally began to overwhelm her.

But I'm a bit ahead of myself. The next few hours were a blur for all of us. Aimee's contractions were almost non-stop at this point. Barbara and Aimee would harmonize through her contractions, and eventually we all took it up, taking turns being her physical and emotional support. Around 3:00pm, she was hit with the strongest contraction yet, and her control faltered for the first time. As it passed, she told us that she peed "a little". It's an easy mistake to make for someone in her position. What actually happened is that her membranes ruptured. When a woman's water breaks in the movies or on television, it's usually portrayed as a gush of fluid. This is rarely the reality. Aimee was much more typical. She leaked a bit, fairly consistently, for the next two hours. If you stop to think, it makes logical and biological sense. The amniotic fluid helps lubricate the way for the baby to pass through the birth canal.

Ironically, right before that contraction, we were talking about getting Aimee out of the clothes she was wearing to the hospital (the outfit she had on in the deep squat picture). She settled that question for us!

At this point, Aimee again asked for the tub. She'd asked for it earlier, but it wasn't available. Bay State does not allow water births, but they do have a jacuzzi tub for women to use. It's the same principle as the strap Barbara was using; take the weight of the belly off of the mom. And warm water doesn't hurt, either. We changed Aimee into a skirt and sports bra, and prepared to walk her to the tub room. Before we left, the nurses checked her cervix again. She was at 7cm.

Knowing that the end was in sight, we headed off to the tub on foot. Unfortunately for the rest of the unit, it was on the complete opposite side of the ward from us. Aimee had two contractions in the hallway. We must have been a sight, four people helping to support one laboring mom, two nurses trailing behind, stopping every few minutes to moan in tandem in the halls! One nurse playfully shushed us, saying Aimee would scare the other moms.

The tub was instant relief. It was a free standing tub, with high sides and a hand sprayer. It was theoretically mobile, but in practice they kept it in the same room most of the time. The water was warm and waiting for us when we got there. I know Aimee would have stayed in there and given birth if they'd let her. She really liked the tub. After one contraction, she tiredly exclaimed, "You guys are awesome." We were trying to keep a light and humorous attitude throughout Aimee's labor, for her sake and ours.

It seemed longer at the time, but we were only in the tub room for about thirty minutes. The nurses kept checking in with Aimee while she was in the water, asking her how she felt. They kept asking if she felt pressure, like she had to go to the bathroom. Aimee was so far out of it at this point that she didn't understand why they were asking. Once a mom passes 5cm, the labor process accelerates. She could go from 7cm to baby in the blink of an eye. She reported that she felt pressure, so they moved us back to our room. Mercifully, we transported Aimee back in a wheelchair.

Once back in our own room (about 3:45pm), Aimee got back in the bed, on her hands and knees, and continued to labor. They were coming in a constant wave at this point. The nurses began monitoring them more regularly; blood pressure for mom, heart rate for the baby. Both passed every check with flying colors. About ten minutes after we got back in the room, our midwife said to Aimee, "You're ready to push!" Aimee, becoming more unaware of her surroundings with every passing minute, replied, "Really? I can do that?". The nurse chuckled, "That wasn't a question, it was a statement. Your body will know what to do."

She was right. Aimee started pushing at 3:58pm. Ian supported her upper body, Mich and I stood on both sides. The nurses faded into the background. Barbara helped with ice, but from here on out, our family was pretty much running the show. With each contraction, Aimee pushed, with very little coaching or encouragement. More fluid came out, more harmonizing happened. It was getting harder and harder for her to stay on top of the pain. Her voice was starting to break, the humming replaced with exclamations like "Come on baby!", "Get this kid out!", "I can't take anymore!", and "Jesus Christ!" and other more colorful expletives. At one point, I pointed out to her that her Catholic was showing, so the next contraction was met with, "Oh Gods!".

After about a half hour, Aimee's poor legs had finally had enough. She'd spent much of her labor on her knees, either over the bed, a yoga ball, or in the tub. We coaxed her into lying down on her side. Ian continued to hold her upper body, so with every contraction, he held firm, giving her something to bear down on. Mich held her left leg in place, while I held her right leg up. Once she was laying down, she again said that we were all awesome, and got down to the serious business of birth.

We first saw his head about fifteen minutes before Connor was born. Each push brought him tantalizingly closer. The nurses kept back, letting Aimee and us do the work. Every few minutes, they'd check the baby's heartbeat, but otherwise, we could have been at home alone. Twice, they encouraged Aimee to reach down and feel his head, to prove to her that her suffering meant something.

I don't want you to leave with the impression that the nurses didn't do much. They were constantly in motion around us, but in a way that faded into the background. They changed the chucks under Aimee a few times, to keep things fairly clean. When we got close to the end, they got all of the equipment we needed ready. They were just as awesome as Aimee thought we were.

Every time Aimee pushed, I glanced at the clock, wondering if this was the minute he would emerge. Ian joked that we should have gotten a pool going. Michy held up like a champion, being strong for Aimee when she needed it most. At about 4:55, our midwife asked if we (Michy and I, since we were in position), wanted to catch him. A few minutes later, Connor was fully crowned. Time slowed down. Even though the contractions kept coming at the same pace, each one felt like an eternity, the breaks between them somehow longer. At 5:04pm, Aimee gave a prodigious push, and Connor's head popped out. Liz (the midwife) guided Michy and I to catch him. Aimee screamed in pain and relief, and with one last bit of encouragement, pushed for the final time.

Connor Paul Bouchard entered into this world, caught safely in the hands of his father and his little mother together, while his Dad-E held his mother safe and strong.
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Friday night was a very long night.

It started with kinda-maybe-sorta early labor. Aimee, as mentioned previously, was uncomfortable enough that sleep proved elusive. So we settled down in our living room. She timed her contractions while I kept vigil. To keep ourselves distracted, we watched movies most of the night. We started with "Eat, Pray, Love", before Mich and Ian went to bed. After that, I found "Chicago", which is always entertaining. We followed that up, somewhat inexplicably, with "District 9". Not that there's anything wrong with it. To the contrary, it is a perfect sci-fi film: aliens, social commentary, fun visual effects, good action, smart plot and cool guns. But this isn't a movie review, it's a labor review. So the last thing I'll say is these movies took us up to about 3:30am, Saturday morning.

We were now seven hours into early labor. There was no doubt now that this was it. The contractions were coming every five minutes for at least a minute in length. By the 5-1-1 rule, it was time to go to the hospital. For those of you unfamiliar with this law of pregnancy, it is the golden standard for pregnant women. If contractions come every five minutes, last for one minute, for one hour, then you are in labor. If they aren't, or haven't gone that long, then you aren't.

The problem, of course, was that it was nearing 4am. We were already exhausted, and had an unknown number of hours ahead of us. So we switched from movies to music, and tried to get some sleep. Soundscapes (or whatever your generic New Age-ish cable music station is called) is quite nice in the early pre-dawn hours. We "slept" for three hours, at the most. In reality, neither one of us slept terribly well, or very long. I might have gotten an hour and a half of real sleep, the rest I was half conscious, listening to Aimee softly moan. She didn't sleep at all, not really. She was resting, trying to relax, but no real sleep. How do I know this? Remember that handy-dandy iPhone app she was using? There is no break in the record. Which means she was awake and using it all night.

At this point (around 7am Saturday morning), Aimee had been awake for almost twenty-four hours, and in labor for eleven of them. I point this out because my admiration for her just went up, which is saying something, as the rest of the story will show.

Around 6:30, Aimee woke me up. We quickly consulted her contraction log, and I went to wake up Ian and Michelle. Then we called Barbara, our doula. A doula is a non-medical professional labor assistant. Aimee found her through the Green River Doula Network. We selected her for two reasons. She was young, a recent MoHo grad, and still in grad school. Our family believes in what doulas do, and felt it important to give a relatively new doula more experience and references. But most importantly, she didn't bat an eyelash about any aspect of our family, and came back at the second interview meeting with good questions. She obviously did her homework about polyamory. That pushed her over the top. Her job was to support Aimee, to help her through the labor in whatever way she could. Barbara was a champ, as you'll soon see.

During the night, I had collected our pre-packed bags and moved them to the front door. At 6:26am, I announced to the world that we were heading to the hospital. We left the house at 8:23. In between, we showered, dressed, slopped the animals, and called our family members.

We arrived at the hospital at 8:36. This is the first time I'd been to Bay State on a Saturday. It's a completely different place on the weekend. Parking was a breeze, and the halls were mostly empty. We checked in, and were sent to a screening room for monitoring. Aimee was about 2cm, and her contractions were about the same as they'd been when we left the house. The nurses instructed Aimee to walk around for a couple of hours, to see if activity kicked her labor up, or if it would slow down or even stop.

So Aimee started doing slow laps around the lobby area of the Wesson building. I took a food break, the first of many visits to the North Cafe over the next two days. For institutional food, it was pretty good. Better than pretty good, truly. Decent salad bar, great tater tots, lots of snack choices, and the special taco bar Sunday night was awesome. But this is a labor review, not a restaurant review. So the last thing I'll say is that, if you have to go to Bay State and need a nosh, don't be afraid of the cafeteria.

The rest of our horde met me at the cafeteria. After we fueled up, Aimee went back to laps, with a little extra thrown in. With Barbara's encouragement, Aimee took out her yoga mat and started doing poses. Deep squats, mostly. Ian already posted one great shot of her in a deep squat, hands in prayer position, concentrating deeply on what her body was doing, but one pose impressed the hell out of all of us. At nine months pregnant, while in labor, Aimee got down into pigeon pose. Pigeon pose is a leg split, with one leg straight behind you and the other tucked underneath your torso, at a right angle. In full pigeon, you lower your torso down to the ground, on top of the forward leg. Google has some great pictures of it. Aimee couldn't do that, what with the belly and all. But the fact that she could even do a modified version of it was simply amazing. Ian has some pictures of her in pigeon pose that he hasn't uploaded yet. It's pretty amazing.

Two hours of walking and yoga go by quickly, especially when you're tired. She went back in for another check (a peek under the hood, I tweeted), and was at 3 cm. According to the nurse, 1 cm every two hours was normal for this stage, which meant Aimee was officially in active labor. We were admitted, and taken upstairs.

It was now about 1pm. Aimee started having contractions seventeen hours before. She'd had almost no sleep for almost thirty hours, and not a lot of food. I wasn't far ahead of her in either regard, but I wasn't contending with labor, too. Mich and Ian were in the best physical shape at this point, having gotten the most sleep the night before. We had no idea how much longer it was going to take, but we were all reasonably certain that April 2, 2011 was going to be Connor's birthday.
tehuti: (Default)
Exactly one day ago, as I begin writing this blog post, Connor Paul Bouchard came into this world, caught in the loving hands of two of his parents, while a third held his mother, safe and strong. We were surrounded by a top-quality, professional staff, made up of midwives, nurses and our doula, who did everything correctly, and everything we asked. Connor's entry into this world went exactly as we wanted, with minimal intervention, surrounded by love and full of hope for the future. His life officially began at 5:04pm on April, 2, 2011, in the Wesson Building, Room W1823, at Bay State Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts, United States of America, North American Continent, Earth, Sol System, Milky Way Galaxy.

This blog is meant to be the story of his birth. It is, obviously, from my point of view. You'd have to ask Connor for his, and since the only language he knows at the moment predominant pertains to breastfeeding (which consists of various noises and sucking motions, up to and including full throated cries), mine will have to do. You can also ask the other three parents what they think, but that's for them to tell.

I'm going to pick up the story not with his conception (there are grandparents reading this! Dirty minds, the lot of you...), or with the bulk of the pregnancy. The best place to start is the last full day Connor was in his mother's womb, April Fools' Day, 2011.

Aimee's due date was March 30, last Wednesday. We'd all secretly hoped that she would give birth early, and we've all been anxiously waiting for the big day. So for most of the last three weeks, every little exclamation from Aimee was met with the same question, "Are you OK?", from one or all of her partners. How she didn't kill any of us is testimony to her prodigious patience, a trait that will serve our family well as we adjust to life with a newborn baby boy. She'd been having Braxton-Hicks contractions (a painless sort of contraction that is essentially the uterus getting "warmed up") fairly regularly for a few weeks, and was just as anxious, if not more so, to get it over with.

Good thing I'm not on the floor of the Florida state house. I hear "uterus" is now a dirty word there. Funny things happen when you aren't paying attention to the world.

Friday began like any other day in our household. Two of us went to work; Mich at the store, Ian at the office. Aimee was already on maternity leave (as much as anyone that is self-employed can be), but nonetheless did some work-related business throughout the day. My schedule this semester has me home two days a week, Monday and Friday. In the middle of the day, Aimee had a well-visit with our midwives, to see if anything was going on. Since we knew we were so close to baby-time, I elected to work from home on a paper for class, and drive Aimee to her appointment.

She decided to go with a midwife service here in Springfield for our pre-natal care. She's a bit hippie (in the 60s way, not the Beyonce way), and so are midwives by definition, so it was a good fit from the very start. This particular service was connected to BayState, and of the hospitals within easy driving distance of us, it made the most sense. It's big, lots of resources if you need them, and only five minutes or so from home.

At the midwife appointment, Aimee was between one and two centimeters, so all of the practice her uterus had been up to was doing something. The nurse cautioned that things could stay like this for a few more days, or she could suddenly open up and give birth in a few hours. With that in mind, we went home. Aimee scheduled herself for a massage at a place in Northampton that specializes in working with pregnant women. I drove her up, and she met Ian and Michelle up there for dinner. I choose to go back home to keep working on my school stuff. I actually had the most productive day I've had this semester on my "big project", getting out almost three full new pages and a slew of minor edits.

The girls got home around 8pm. Ian had an errand to run, so he got back later. Not long after that, at around 8:25pm, Aimee gave out an exclamation that was not as little as before. Then another. She was painfully cramping along with the Braxton-Hicks contractions. This was something new.

It suddenly occurred to us that maybe we should time them. The first one we marked was twenty minutes between cramps, then half that, but we weren't very good at keeping track. Like a good geek girl, Aimee got this little app for her iPhone that created a log of her contractions. Push a button to start the timer, push it again to stop, and it created a handy dandy log of your use. She fired it up and started using it to get good data.

Her contractions (if that is what they were) were six to eight minutes apart, thirty to fifty seconds in duration. If this was early labor, we knew it could be a long process, or even stop. Ian and Mich went to bed, determined to rest in case it was the last good night's sleep they'd have in a while. Aimee was too uncomfortable to really sleep, so she and I bunked down on our sectional, watched movies, and settled in for a long night.
tehuti: (Default)
Yesterday morning (dear Gods, was it only yesterday!?), as we were packing up, getting ready to head to the hospital, I took care of a final little detail that I'd like to share with you guys in it's entirety.

Earlier this week, our family decided to attend this year's Relaxacon. It's a weekend getaway on Cape Cod for the staff, volunteers, friends and family of Arisia. We got a room, and I pre-registered the four of us. Shortly before we left the house, I got confirmation of our registrations.

Last night, once things had calmed down a bit, I started wading through happy emails and Facebook messages of congratulations. One email was different. It was a request from the con for the names of the other three people I'd pre-registered. I sent the following reply, at about 9:30pm:

---------
Greetings,

The other three names are:

Aimee Bouchard
Michelle Driscoll
Ian Rose

Also, we'll need a badge for Connor Bouchard, who will be attending
his first con. He was born about four hours ago. :-)

Micah

----------

Why yes, I was tearing up writing it. And no, this poor child NEVER had a chance to avoid his fate. :-)
tehuti: (Default)
At about 8pm last night, Aimee started feeling some pain and cramping. Over the course of the next few hours, we started to time the contractions. We called our doula and midwives, and everyone agreed that it sounded like labor had begun.

She and I have been up fairly continuously all night. The contractions have steadily gotten longer in duration, stronger and closer together. In the last hour or so, they have become markedly stronger, to the point where Aimee can no longer speak well when in the middle of one. The plan has always been to labor at home as long as possible. Aimee feels that she is nearing the end of what she can endure here and still be able to get to the hospital easily. So we are planning to head to the hospital in the next two hours. Mich and Ian got a good night's sleep, and I sawed a few logs, so Aimee will have constant support as we see this through.

Some of you reading this have already been informed via email or phone call. If you did not get a specific notification, please don't read anything into it, no slight was meant or intended.

I plan to update the internet via Twitter and Facebook, so all y'all should know what's going on pretty much as it happens.

Phone calls, FB comments, Tweets and any and all forms of well-wishes, congratulations and/or encouragement will be appreciated. I've been waiting all night to tell you guys this:

It's Baby Time!

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