Saturday, August 31, 2013

Baby #4!!

Baby #4 made her arrival into the world yesterday (8/30)! She was born at 12:52pm, weighed 6lb 2oz and measured 19 in. We decided to name her Gavriella Esther. The name Gavriella comes from Shmuel's aunt (his mother's half-sister) Geneva. The name Esther comes from my father's grandmother Esther Faigl.

Gavriella's birth was just as quick as her older sister Tzipora's, but the birth story starts just about a week earlier. On the evening of Fri the 23rd I started to have some irregular contractions and thought "oh boy this is it!" But it wasn't. I went to sleep and they totally stopped...for several days. But that was the beginning of the sleepless nights. I would have a hard time getting comfortable and getting to sleep only to be woken up within hours to go to the bathroom or with a random contraction. Then it would take me forever to get back to sleep...only to wake up again a few hours later. It was horrible, and by the following Thursday (the morning of my 39 week midwife appointment) I was at my wits' end. I took herbal supplements, did acupressure and even saw someone who does shiatsu just to try to get things started, but nothing made even the slightest difference. I was starting to get nervous because with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana coming next week I did not want to be in the hospital alone over that holiday. So, when I saw my midwife on Thursday I begged her to strip my membranes. She did and also told me that I was a "stretchy" 3-4 cm dilated, so we knew that it wasn't going to be a long birth once things finally got started.

I went to bed on Thursday night a bit defeated that nothing had happened, since I was convinced that if I didn't go into labor at night that I for sure wouldn't go into labor in the morning. But when I did get up in the morning (around 7am thanks to Dovid looking for the Kindle Fire - and I got SO angry with him for waking me up since I was running on very little sleep) I noticed that I was having some contractions. They were uncomfortable, but I didn't think they were particularly regular. And I could still do other things during and between them - like run after Dovid screaming and finish my biochemistry project (which I did). Around 8:15am I called my friends Joanmichelle and Melanie who were going to be my doulas for the birth. Joanmichelle headed over to my house and Melanie went to work, knowing I would probably be calling her soon. It wasn't until about 8:30am that I decided to actually time them, and they were about 10 mins apart.

Joanmichelle arrived around 9:30am, and she was helping me through contractions, though I still thought they were somewhat irregular - they would speed up when I was walking around and then slow down if I sat. But they were still less than 10 minutes apart. By 10:30am I had gotten quite uncomfortable during contractions and knew that we had to leave. They were pretty close together - maybe every 5 mins or so - and I was not relishing the idea of doing them in the car any closer together than that.

We arrived at labor and delivery about 11am, and they took us into a triage room. I changed, got hooked up to monitors and then got checked around 11:30am. All the while the contractions were still about 5 mins apart or so and concentrated mainly in my back, which was not pleasant. Some of the time it would also migrate to my thighs, but at least that I could use hypnobabies to take care of - the back pain, not so much. When the midwife checked me I was already at 6cm, fully effaced and -2 station. I knew from experience that it would not take long for me to become fully dilated from this point - with Tzipora I went from 4 to complete in about an hour and a half. So, they took me into a room and I got situated there around noon.

By now the back pain was really terrible, so we tried everything. I already had a heat pack on, and whoever was closest to me would press on my back, but it was getting to be even too much for that. So we tried to put on my TENS machine. That helped maybe a little bit, but if the baby would move during a contraction, it would send me screaming about my back. Oh goodness I was having flashbacks to Tzipora's birth and not liking it. In contrast to Tzipora's birth, however, my contractions never really got much closer than every two minutes apart, I never got that "I've lost total control" feeling or had double-peaking contractions. I could easily talk and function in between contractions, and I never had the feeling of "oh just give me a break!" the way I did with Tzipora. But, from experience, I knew that I might feel better sitting on the toilet, so I headed over there just before 12:30pm. Sitting there was actually a bit better, but my midwife didn't want me sitting there for too long. She suggested that if I wanted things to pick up that I should get back on the bed and lie on my left side. I grumbled but obeyed.

As soon as I got on my side, the back pain during contractions was unreal. I was basically screaming for people to press on my back and whimpering (deja vu to Tzipora's birth!). The midwife had finally found another midwife who would do sterile water injections, but then said that I was probably complete and ready to push and to try and give her a good one. I was not convinced but did it anyway. She then checked me again, and I actually was fully dilated! sterile water injections again - the exact same thing happened with Tzipora. By now it was 12:48pm. So I started pushing, but unlike with Tzipora it was agony. I was very confused since I remembered pushing being so easy and much better than contractions, but the back pain wasn't going away and now I also had lower abdominal pain with it. So I pushed as hard as I possibly could to get the pain to go away, and I could feel her sort of slip right down. So now instead of the back pain I had the abdominal pain and the "head crowning" pain. At this point I really couldn't control pushing vs not pushing even though the midwife was telling me not to. lol She's telling me to slow down and blow, and I'm yelling back "I can't! I can't!" Luckily the pushing didn't take very long, and she was born at 12:52pm - 4 minutes after I started pushing. My water broke as she was crowning, and she was born in the caul - something very, very lucky and unusual. We also realized why I was having such back pain as well as pain during pushing. The baby was turned sideways - so her nose was facing my inner thigh vs my tush - and she had a hand up by her face! Crazy baby! But since she's such a little squeaker, I was able to birth her quickly and without trouble. If she had been an 8 lb baby with a big head I don't think she ever would have come down that way.

Here are some pictures of the little cutie and the family:

Gavriella's birth by numbers:

6 hrs after waking up in the morning
4 hrs after beginning timeable contractions - though even at 9:30am it was hard to time them...
2 hrs after arrival at the hospital
1 hr in the labor & delivery room
4 mins of pushing

But here's the really cool part... The twins were born on a Wednesday on the Hebrew date the 22nd of Adar. Tzipora was born on a Thursday on the Hebrew date the 23rd of Teves. So I bet you can guess what day of the week and Hebrew date Gavriella was born, right? ;) Friday the 24th of Elul.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

New Family

How do I even begin this post? No, it doesn't have to do with the baby - she's still baking away. But I'm hoping this post and the ones that come after will explain a little bit about my blogging absence for the last few months. So much has happened, but we were waiting for a good time to talk about it...which meant that I couldn't post about anything fun that was going on!

Let me start all the way at the beginning...over 60 years ago. My mother was born to two college students, and it was decided that she would be given up for adoption. Not many people in her biological family knew what was going on, but fortunately my mother was adopted into an amazing family. The adoption wasn't talked about, though basically everyone in my mother's extended adoptive family new about it, and for most of her life my mother really had no urge or intention to find her biological family - she had loving family and amazing parents, so what was the need, right? Then her adoptive father (Grandpa Bill) died in 2000 and her adoptive mother (Grandma Bess) in 2006, and I brought up the topic a few times to my mom over the years since then. I had even read this book about identical twin girls who had been adopted separately at birth and then found each other and, I believe, their birth family. I was pretty sure my mom wasn't a twin, but I was definitely curious about her birth family. In the fall of 2012 I saw an ad for an agency that helped get adoption records and find birth families, and I was finally able to convince her to see what we could find out.

Fast forward through several months of getting documents signed, notarized, and filed away with the agency...and, of course, waiting. In early March 2013, my mom received her adoption papers which named her birth mother (Grandma Lotta). Luckily for us her birth mother had a very uncommon name, so that coupled with the non-identifying information that we had from the adoption agency made it very easy to track her family down. Some basic genealogical searches led me right to the family within hours. Then I made a leap and contacted someone that was connected to the family on the genealogical website that I use ( I had no idea how close or far related this person was, but it was all that I had to go on.

I waited a few days and hadn't heard back from the woman, so I figured she probably thought I was totally insane. I mean, I had basically sent her a short note saying I thought this particular person on her family tree was my biological grandmother! Not exactly the type of email you expect to receive... But, in the intervening days this woman contacted one of Grandma Lotta's other children, Aunt Gina, who then used her expertise to track me down. She called my house and got my babysitter, who was completely confused. I was at school at the time, and my babysitter calls me on my cell phone saying she got a call from some random lady saying she was my sister or something. Immediately I knew it had to be my mother's sister, not mine, and I tried to keep from screaming gleefully into the phone. I don't think I was particularly successful at this, though. Luckily Aunt Gina had left her number with my babysitter, so I called her right up. And we talked...shared some basic information, tried to get our stories all straight, etc. It was March 4, Grandma Bess's birthday - coincidences like that just don't happen. In any case, none of the biological family even knew about the pregnancy, adoption, etc...except for one person - Grandma Lotta's brother - who eventually confirmed what we already had figured out. But that confirmation took a few days. I still have the voicemail saved that my Aunt Gina left on my cell phone when she got that final confirmation that she and my mom were sisters. There was no blood test necessary. The stories checked out perfectly, we had the document with Lotta's name and my mom's name, and just look at the family resemblance!

Guess which one is my mom and guess which one is her birth mother... ;) Even just looking at my mom and aunt next to each other now you can see they have the same nose and such. Aunt Gina has even said that sitting and talking to my mom feels like she's looking at their mother. Chana B has a very strong resemblance to one of my other aunts as well.

In any case, once all of this happened it took my mom a few days for the reality to sink in before she and her new found sister talked. And then my aunt went a step further and was able to track down my mother's birth father (Grandpa Joel). Unfortunately Grandma Lotta passed away a few years ago, but Grandpa Joel is still alive and well! Aunt Gina spoke with him and got his side of the story, and then eventually my mom made contact with him. In the mean time, Aunt Gina planned a trip to Boston for July so that she could meet everyone - my mom, sister and brother-in-law would all come up here for a little family reunion.

And that's why I haven't been able to update! I've wanted to post about our July adventures for ages, but I couldn't possibly do it without talking about Aunt Gina! Now that you're all clued in, hopefully in my next post I can get to talking about our fun in July and August...with pictures, of course. :) And there will be more to tell about Grandpa Joel, too.

P.S. I use the terms adoptive and biological/birth only to make things more easy to understand. Grandpa Bill and Grandma Bess will always be my grandparents who I love and miss terribly, I just happen to now have additional family to get to know, including some who live right here in Boston. The heart never gets consumed, it only grows bigger.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oat Groats

Yes, I know I haven't posted in like 2 months. I've been busy! And exhausted. I was without child care for weeks and still having to work. I'm extremely lucky to now have family coming in to help out or I would really be up a creek. There's a lot to catch up on - like a visit from my mom, sister and brother-in-law in July with lots of kid pictures and the fact that I'm now 38 weeks pregnant. (YIPE) I haven't taken a belly pic in ages, mainly because the shirt I usually wear has been in the "laundry to do" pile for months. And when it comes out it gets dirty again before picture day. lol Anyway, to get back in some kind of writing groove before having this baby, I will tell you about my amazing discovery.

I'm not one of these organic, raw, healthy foods only people. Yes, I get some organic fruits and veggies, but I almost never shop at places like Whole Foods. Anyways, I saw an herbalist/shiatsu lady on Sunday and of course the first thing she wants me to do is switch things I'm eating. Like buying local goat milk instead of the stuff I get at Stop & Shop. HAHAHA Yeah right. And she suggests I buy seaweed to eat. Except it's like $30/lb. Heck no. Not unless I win the lottery. I have no problem eating seaweed, but I can't afford that kind of a pricetag. Then she suggests I buy oat groats to eat for breakfast instead of cereal. Ok, oats I can deal with. I like oatmeal, and she assured me it was very similar and that I would love it. Hmmmm.

So I ventured into Whole Foods, which is the only place on earth I could find oat groats. And lo and behold they have them in the bulk containers for like $1 something/lb. WOOOO SCORE! CHEAP OATS! Much cheaper than the quickie oat stuff you get in packets and with no added crud (like sugar or worse). But of course it needs to slow cook. Luckily I actually randomly have a quart-size crock pot that has never been used, so I figured I would put it to good use and have some oat groats. I set it up to cook overnight last night and served myself this morning. At first taste it wasn't bad but definitely needed a little sweetening, so I put in a little Splenda. That was a good move. Then I added raisins. That was an even better move. Then I devoured the whole bowl. OMG OAT GROATS!

My mission in life is now to get everyone to eat this for breakfast. lol If you want a healthy & cheap alternative to cereal and quickie oats, THIS IS SO IT! Yeah, you need a mini crockpot (unless you're planning to make a ton of it, which actually wouldn't be such a bad idea if you're feeding the whole family oats for breakfast) and it needs to be set up before bed, but that took all of 2 minutes. Here is my recipe for the awesomest breakfast ever:

1/2 cup oat groats
2 cups water

Put oat groats and water into crock pot. Set on low. Cook approx 8 hours. Add sugar/Splenda/Stevia/honey to taste and chuck in some raisins if you want. Makes just about 2 servings.

I think the difficult part of this is going to be cleaning the crock pot. lol Excuse oat groats are calling...