Tuesday, July 31, 2007

miss elie montana does nature

here is elie on the trail along rattlesnake creek and with her boyfriend jiah at red rocks beach on the blackfoot river...

getting into the groove

so yesterday was the first day since el's been born that i actually sort of felt 'normal'. now normal is a funny term after you've given birth. the headache in my vagina still lingers. this is certainly not normal. i have a fancy, soft, fleshy belly. again, new and not normal, at least, not for me before. also, i do things like sit in the back of the car with my baby and leak milk on my toes. not really normal. but, i guess those are normal for me now. new and normal. but other than all those lil thangs, we had a good, quasi normal day. we took little sweetie to dr. sandra who said that she was developing just perfectly. she weighs at whopping 7 pounds, 4 ounces now and seems to be taking fantastically to her mama's leche. in fact, mama predicted her new birth weight (to the ounce i might add - and who said i was lousy with numbers?) we showed dr. s her little baby acne that has developed on the sweet folds of her neck and dr. s said that was normal and not to buy any oxy or anything. and so we carried on. we then had to go to the vet to pay some ginormous lucy bills since she continues to carry on with all sorts of mysterious, post baby in the house, problems. luckily the xrays are fine and she has just been having lots of random sprains and/or bites. good god dog.

so then we decided to head to the rattlesnake for a family walk before the weather heated up too much. mama was feeling like she could walk without exacerbating the headache in her vagina too much, so off we went. little miss elie loved the walk and made her special little dolphin noises the whole time in the sprout pouch. it's kind of like she is her own little ghetto blaster and she makes noises that are appropriate for the activity - sorta like a soundtrack. yesterday in the pouch it was an "ooh wee woo wow gulp breathe" kind of song of delight and summer love. last night it was a slower, "so, feeling swell, and trying to beat the heat, we headed to the rattlesnake for a walk. sweet eliewooh wooh gulp gurgle good dreams ooh yah" kind of song. so we did a two mile loop or so and i didn't end up bleeding too much or with too bad a v-ache. i'm on the mend!

after hiking we came home for a little lunch/feed/nap (mom and baby) and then decided to join bobby, joellen, solan, jiah and mama and papa shannon at red rocks. what an amazing spot that is. very river runs through it. because it was a monday we were almost the only folks there and could laze around and not feel hassled by silly college kids and their excessive beer drinking. little elie slept most of the time and mama even got to swim for a while. then, just our serendipitous luck, a nice lady on the beach asked how old elie was. i said, proudly, today is her two week birthday. then she explained that she is a photographer and that she wants to get some newborn shots on her website and could she, perhaps, come by the house and do a photo shoot of elie? are you kidding, of course! i had been hoping to do something like that, but it's so darn expensive and i'm not going back to work full time and blah, blah, so i had sorta backed off the whole fancy birth announcement idea. well, this fabulous lady set me back on course. so today at one thirty little el will have her first photo shoot! and because i love to share the wealth, the photo lady will go up to bobby and jo's afterwards to photograph baby jiah. i love how the world works!

finally then it was off to biga pizza to pick up dinner for the fam. mom had one of her low blood sugar breast feeding surges right when it was time to eat. this seems to be what happens these days. and it doesn't matter when i eat dinner. if it's six thirty, she's suddenly awake and hungry. eight thirty, it's the same thing. so i tried to snarf some food and drink a most heavenly glass of pinot but, alas, she still insisted on being with me (though jeffy is fabulous at trying to avert her attention and distract, jiggle, shush and love her while i try to eat). so we breast fed for a while, but then she started doing her head banger, i don't really want to eat, i just want to play with your boob and pretend like i'm listening to quiet riot routine, so i got frustrated and she got frustrated and we began our meltdown. so elie screamed and i tried all the tricks and ended up slowly walking around joellen's neighborhood hoping that the neighbors wouldn't call the cops for disturbing the peace or some other horrible thing. she settled down enough to get in the carseat, but then she started in again at home, again, headbanging on the boob, but not eating. finally jeffy did some good burping and we realized she had some serious gas (she is her mother's daughter!). so finally her belly settled, and she ate, and we all fell into another blissful, cooy, dolphin song slumber.

one last note. your baby's fits seem similar to the memory of birth contractions in that you know they are terrible and hard in the moment, but upon reflection, they don't seem half as bad. i know i had tears of frustration and sadness and wanting so, so badly to help my sad and scared little angel but not knowing how, yet when i write about it, it just seems like another little piece of our otherwise fantastic day. interesting. i also cannot ever remember what exactly happens in the night. again, these are kinda like labor memories. i know i get up and feed her and change her or whatever, but i can never remember exactly when or for how long or what have you. it's this cool new hazy dream land that i guess is a part of parenthood, cuz jeff can't remember the details either. i guess at the end of the day, the details don't matter, it's just that we covered all our basis.

i just love her so.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

on our own

today is the first day of little elie's life where her parents are the only ones taking care of her. we were so grateful to have my mama here for her first twelve days of life. this morning i took mama to the airport and tearfully we said goodbye. while i want nothing more than to raise eliana in this beautiful mountain valley, it doesn't take away the pain of living so far from family. my mama probably won't see elie until the fall and will miss so many of her beautiful changes.

so to get on with our old, pre-baby, summer routine, jeffy and i went to the creek. i sat in the water and soaked my still ailing "ladies parts" while elie took a little nap on the bank of rattlesnake creek. we are so lucky to live close to so much beauty and i have to say i am feeling relaxed and content with my place in this world.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

sleepy day

so we had a very sleepy day here at 1120 van buren. the little missy wanted to be sure that we indeed understood that she is a brand new baby and no easy task and subsequently had her biggest crying fit last night. we did lots of shushing and swaddling and swinging and singing and sucking and she ended up doing just fine. i think what happens though, is that then her mama doesn't really sleep because she's so ready for her to wake up again. so today mama ended up taking three fabulously long naps while dad and gran held elie. i didn't get dressed til this evening when we went to bobby and joellen's for dinner. it was really a fabulous day and good for me to remember not to do too much. it feels so good to be back in my body that it's hard to remember that they say not to do ANYTHING for two weeks. i think the laps around greenough park and trips out to lunch took their toll on us last night. alas, we've learned from our mistakes and are well rested today. so rested that i think it's time for us to turn in and begin our night's journey of sleep. night night.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

little elie's adventures on the town!

miss elie had a very exciting day. first she went to the hearing aid doctor with mama who finally committed to spending the mega bucks to upgrade her hearing. mom figures that if there's a time to hear well, it's definitely now with all those sweet little grunts and coos that eliana makes while feeding! then we decided to take gran to 'nature boy' missoula's hip little cloth diaper and wooden toy spot. it was here in nature boy that we had one of our first big on the town moments. first mama realized that elie smelled a bit sour and decided to finally actually USE the diaper bag and set up shop to change her on the carpet on the store. we were doing fine until the little peanut decided that it is so much more fun to poop and pee while her diaper is off and proceeded to let loose all over her blankey and changing pad and onesie and mama. luckily for me the kind woman who owns the shop seemed quite comfortable with this sort of thing and helped me change her and clean up the mess. note to self and other new mama's...always pack a 'ghetto bag' (as we call them in our family) to put dirty stuff in. dad did an awesome job packing the diaper bag but we forgot to put something in to hold the soiled items. anyway, we cleaned her up and changed her and then, of course, she decided she had to eat. well, i have yet to nurse her on the town and, of course, i was wearing a little dress that i couldn't exactly slide over my shoulder. so i sat in a comfy sort of mock lotus on the floor and stuck little el's head under my dress. she quite liked the 'tent feed' and had a good, fast and furious snack for ten minutes or so.
then she was all amped up, so dad (who had been called on emergency pick up), decided to walk her down the street to scotty's table where we were meeting jody, our doula friend, for lunch. elie was in her "quiet/alert and borderline fussy" state all through lunch. luckily jody is a baby master and was happy to hold her while i wolfed down my lunch (this breast feeding thing makes a girl hungry!) then little el started trying to nurse the wrong woman, so i got to do the tent feed right there in the middle of scotty's! all in all, a successful day of firsts!

then this afternoon (after mom took a much needed two hour nap), elie had her first bath! she was smelling quite sour (actually for someone who seems to be dripping in breast milk all day, she actually still smells sorta sweet!) so we set up her tub and did a little rub down. she didn't mind it so much and now is happy as a clam, all swaddled up and clean. what an adventure!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

birth story

they say with writing you just have to start, so here goes. this seems to be such a long, eventful, huge type of story, replete with so much raw emotional and physical craziness...no wonder i'm procrastinating getting started. but with little elie growing every day, i know if i don't write now, the memories will continue to morph and change and the time to sit and write will diminish. okay. so the first contractions i felt were on friday the 13th. we were tubing on the river with my two prego buddies, joellen and leslie, and i kept feeling funny, crampy sensations. being in the water was great and they just seemed to pass. the next day my mama and i were busy at the farmer's market and then running around doing all sorts of other pre-baby errands. i wasn't too tuned in to my body and didn't feel anything funky. sunday i had lots of contractions in the morning. i was excited. i felt powerful and strong and ready. i danced around the kitchen to 80's songs and felt fired up about the idea of brining my baby into the world. my doula said to not get too excited, though, that i could be having early labor symptoms for a few weeks. i tried to chill out. BUT...the next morning i woke with more contractions. they started around five and seemed to be coming at ten minute intervals. they were mild, like menstral cramps, and i stayed in bed and just watched the clock. around seven i made myself a poached egg and some toast and tried to be normal. i remember jody teaching us that it was important to eat before the mega-labor began and your stomach didn't want anything anymore. i was proud of myself for remembering this important piece of information, as it would definitely serve me well later.

so....around eight thirty or so jeff, lucy and i headed to greenough park. this was the first "junk show" moment of my labor. jeff was holding his coffee, my nalgene, a little scrap of paper and a pen, a stop watch and lucy's leash. everytime a contraction came, he wrote down the time and the duration, trying to identify them as "hard" or "mild". i would sort of stop walking and double over with my hands on my knees and wait for them to pass. jeff would then frantically try to write the information down, trying not to spill his coffee of let lucy pull him on her leash. at one point on the greenough loop a few power walkers definitley gave us some questionable, "should we see if they need some help" kind of looks. we perseveared and began to journey home. the worst contraction then came, in the alley by my house. i knew that they were gaining in intensity and standing on the black pavement in the early morning, july heat was definitely not helping me deal with them. we decided to head to the birth center.

lucky for us we had a ten thirty appointment that morning, so we wouldn't look like we were jumping the gun too much. we threw our stuff in the car, reminding ourselves that we would probably be home again and that it was okay if we forgot a pillow or the extra massage oil. at this point jeff also decided to stop by our friend bobby's office so that he could help us install our carseat. just to be clear, we are not slackers and had tried to see the carseat specialist at the hospital BUT our very special carseat took forever to arrive and we had to keep pushing back the appointment to have it checked. so this is junk show momement number two. jeff and bobby pulling this fancy peg-perego carseat out of the box and hastily reading directions while i had contractions in the front seat. at one point joellen came out of the office to check in and i remember trying really hard to look like i wasn't really in labor. i think i was afraid of looking like some first time prego ninny who was overreacting. needless to say, i wasn't.

so the car ride to the birth center sucked. it was hot and my contractions were increasing in intensity and i felt strapped down and uncomfortable. i was not meant to labor in a still, seated position. when we arrived at the birth center, i checked in as normal. "hi, i have a ten thirty appointment with jeannie." "okay....just one minute...." I put my head in my hands and must have looked sort of strange because the receptionist then said, "are you okay? you look like you're in labor." i meekly replied, "yeah, i think i am." "oh my, let's get you into a birthing room, okay...come on back, gillian." and it was settled. i was certifiably in labor.

so this is when the story starts to get sort of blurry. jeanne (midwife) and lindsay (nurse) came in to check my blood pressure. it was off the charts high and clearly worried both of them. this was scary for me as well because, A. i have never had high blood pressure, and B. if it didn't go down, we were all going to the hospital. so they told me to relax and try and get calm and they would come back and check again. they returned and it was still high. this was, again, very frustrating to me because i really did feel calm. i guess that shows you the power of the subconscious mind...i thought i was cool as a cucumber but really i was in a prickly panic.

lindsay suggested we light some candles, dim the lights and put on some soothing music so that i could try and lower my blood pressure. we lay on the big, fancy, right out of pottery barn catolog sleigh bed on the super supine red sheets and tried to be mellow. this felt a bit forced but seemed to lower my rates enough to let me stay at the birth center. thank god.

soon enough jody (doula) came and she suggested we go for a walk. so jeff, jody and i walked around the building and chatted. when contractions came i would brace myself on these little posts and they would rub my back and my neck. we had this system worked out pretty well and soon i wouldn't even have to say anything, i just assumed the position and they helped me through the contractions. this sort of non-verbal communication would continue to serve us well.

at some point we went back into the room and i started to really move. i was doing this swaying, hippy, rocking motion that really seemed to help me. a dancer/doula/masseuse friend suggested this hip movement a few weeks earlier and it was fantastic advice. jody says she's never seen a woman dance a baby out of her, but apparently that's what i did. between contractions we continued to laugh and talk and make jokes. at some point my mom and hilary (sister) joined us and we all just sort of hung out. during contractions i would brace myself on the bed and jeff and jody would work their magic, and we'd continue along.

soon enough someone suggested i get in the tub. that's when things really heated up. i had pretty much lost all modesty at that point and eagerly got undressed and got in. the tubs at the birth center are wonderful, big, deep, jet set things that a bathtime beauty like myself would salivate over. i was so happy in that tub. when a contraction came on, i would hoist myself into cat/cow position and push the button for the jets. jeff, jody and hilary would position their hands on me - head, neck and sacrum, respectively, and we'd work through the contraction. we were in the tub for a very long time and the contractions were gaining in intensity. every half hour or so (though that's potentially a fib because at this point i had no sense of time) jeanne would come in and check the baby's heartbeat. they were also still checking my blood pressure. this continued to make me anxious and i really just wanted to be left alone. then tnhe contractions started to hit hard and i entered hard core laborland. i finally started to make noise, saying "ow" and the occassional bad word. it was during one of these last tub contractions that an insane, overpowering, jolt surged through me. i screamed "pushing" and sure enough, i was. jeanne then returned in her scrubs and i knew the party was really rockin.

so she suggested i get out of the tub. she wanted to check me and, there it was, i was nine and 3/4 centimeters and ready to push. the pushes seemed involuntary at first, more like ugly aunties of the hard contractions coming for an unexpected visit. i didn't feel like i had any control over my body at this point. jeanne suggested that i squat and that sounded like the worst idea ever, but she's the boss and i'm a good, compliant chick, so i rolled my heavy ass body out of the bed and squatted. this was not fun. i felt out of balance and out of control and scared. i started saying things like "i can't do this" and "this really hurts" and then i promptly turned my head over my shoulder and said, "you two, OUT!" to my sister and mother. this is my one birth regret. how could i have been so rude to two of my favorite people in the world? i think i felt scared and needed to re-gain some control. i think i was also worried about them seeing me in such a crazy, scary, helpless state. they complied and hurried out of the room.

jeanne then made some comment like, "you can have this baby now, or you can have it in an hour." that got things moving. they put me back on the bed on my back, held my legs apart, and i finally gave a real push. in my mind i was pushing for everything i ever cared about. i was pushing like a warrior/goddess/deamon/monster woman. i was pushing for myself and my baby and all the other women who had pushed before me. i pushed like a mofo. and it actually felt kinda great. one more bad ass push like that and, before i even registered what was happening, i saw tears on jeff's cheak and looked down, and saw my baby girl.

wow. that's an intense story to write. but what a story it is!

after she came out things were still nuts and the midwife had to stitch me up and eliana had to try to nurse and jeff and hil and lindsay had to push with all their might to keep my legs open because at that point, i just didn't want to be open or touched anymore. i wanted to be left alone.

eventually the chaos died down and the stitches were in, my mom and sissy left, and jeff and i were alone with the baby. we didn't name her at first...the original name we thought we had planned on just didn't seem to fit her. she was so little and so fair and came out like such a good, little lady, not the hard core chick of her initial namesake. we rested. we marveled. we chose her name, and eventually, we fell asleep. my baby on my chest in the beautiful red room, on the fancy sleigh bed. the sky was cloudy and calm and i had never been happier.

Monday, July 23, 2007

one week old!

happy birthday, miss eliana celie! it was exactly a week ago that i was having mega contractions and about to start pushing with all my might to help bring you into the world! we are going to take you out to dinner tonight to celebrate your birthday. your mama meant to write your birth story today, but is just so busy feeding and loving you. dad is going to put some beautiful pictures of you up for all the world to see!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

babies abound!

what a beautiful day for our little missoula family. our dear friends, bobby and joellen, brought their newest family member into the world at 4:30 this morning. jo is a birthing goddess and brought baby grillo out after a mere two hours of labor! we saw the family this morning and are happy to say that they all look beautiful and content. it's pretty amazing to watch these two new little creatures together! love is certainly all around.

we continue to have great family support. jeff's sister, kelli, arrived yesterday and has been working like a little bee to help our household stay somewhat manageable. we had a great family dinner last night with kel, hil, mama, jeff, elie and me. i felt surrounded by all my favorite people! we then had a rockin' game of taboo, sibling style. elie had another great night and is now nursing like a little maniac! i am getting used to the hard work of nursing and find it so rewarding to be able to give her everything she needs. our bodies are such intricate, fascinating machines! here are a few more great pics from yesterday.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Elie had a wonderful day five hanging out with family, lunching at Scotty's Table and meeting her auntie Kelli for the first time.

good night!

i'm definitely following the take it day by day theory, but i would love to say that we had a great day and NIGHT yesterday. this little lady just loves to sleep! we got up twice to feed in the night and then went right back to sleep. she slept in the crook of my am and we were blissed out beyond belief. on a personal note, i washed my hair today AND shaved my legs! it's amazing how easy it is to get lost in baby land and forget yourself completely. anyway, i feel like a new woman! it is so great to have my mama and sister here to help hold her while jeff and i try to keep ourselves together. this afternoon kelli comes to meet her new niece. we are so blessed with friends and family who love us!

here is baby elie in her count dracula pose being held by auntie hilary!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Elie's Day Four

Little Eliana had a busy day sleeping,eating and sleeping some more. Her mama's milk came in and she is very happy!

day three of little elie's delicious life!

little eliana is doing wonderfully! she is such a sweet, mellow little lady these days. yes, yes, i know this can and will change shortly, but i have to say i'm just trying to focus on the here and now and enjoy every single moment! here are some sweet shots of her napping with her papa.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

eliana celie kessler

i am too exhausted to write her birth story but the long and the short of it is, i have the most beautiful baby girl in the world! eliana celie was born yesterday, july 16th at the birth center. she weighs a perfect six pounds and shot out like a little cannon. we did the birth naturally and i did most of my hard labor in the tub. my doula jody, husband and sister were amazing - i don't know if i could have done it without them. here are some pictures of the little beauty.

Friday, July 13, 2007

mama's finally here!

well after a long journey in seattle, my mama finally arrived for the birth. now we're ready to rock and roll. she's sitting right here at my kitchen table eating a fantastic sandwich of jack, arugula, tomatoe on birdman! a missoula treat.

here's a picture of me dancing for joy on my birthday, the same way i'm dancing for joy (inside of course, i can't move very quickly) that my mama is right here in my kitchen! i was somewhere in the earlier stages of the second trimester when this shot was taken and i thought i was "so big!" how sweet and naive i was!

baby k's crib shots

back up further: getting the baby's room ready, june 2007

so we were thrilled when jack and kelli said they would drive over from portland to help us get the baby room ready. you see, a pregnant gal at this point is fairly useless in all areas of house projects. i can't really paint (though i did do some doors outside where i didn't have to breathe into much toxicity), i can't really lift heavy things (though i sometimes like to try and then jeff has to get huffy with me)and i get hot and flustered extremely easily (no thoughs, this is a given). so jeff and kelli and jack scraped, taped and painted while i washed baby k's clothes in special, spendy, organic and baby safe detergent and continued to fold and organize them diligently. jeff says this baby is already a clothes horse and she hasn't even been born! see, i have this clothes karma...i don't spend much money on them, but they always come my way. come my way in huge, bountiful, quality/funk/syl-ie amounts. and that's just what happened when a very generous and wealthy mama from the school gave me seven garbage bags of newborn girls stuff to go through and have. so most of it seemed unworn and it was all deliciously cute. so i took a ton of stuff and then had the prego shop open for all my pregnant lady friends. so much fun to share the wealth and be able to dress baby k like the fabulous, hipthang that i know she is (though we have yet to meet face to face).

so here are some photos of us getting lil baby k's room ready....

backup: solstice june 2007

can you believe i got those photos on the page? am i a genius or what? now i will try to find a picture and create an appropriate caption to go with it.

these are a few shots of the family on the solstice. we hiked up mt. jumbo with ms. lucy and enjoyed a remarkable western montana sunset. i am filled with gratitude and wonder with this land we inhabit!

prego photos

as i try to navigate this computer thing alone...perhaps a prelude to the unknowns of motherhood, chuckle, chuckle to all of you who think this is super easy, if only you knew what an absolute ninny i am with a computer...at any rate, here goes my attempt at adding photos of my fantabulous belly, replete with my "angry inch" as my husband so lovingly puts it....

strange sensations

so we spent the better part of the afternoon floating down the blackfoot. lucky jeff. he was with three extremely pregnant women, me, joellen and leslie. what a sight we were floating with our ginormous bellies popping out of our tubes. there really isn't a better way for a very pregnant woman to survive an oppressively hot day. my pregnancy symptoms were definitely hip hopping down the river. new, gentle cramps, low, low, low in my belly started this afternoon, as well as a tingling, tapping sensation. i've seen stars and felt faint. but really i am sososos happy to be experiencing all of this. my mama comes in soon - her flight from seattle is delayed, but what else is new? so excited for the wonder that is this life today!


so i can't really believe that i'm doing this, creating a blog and all. those of you who know me know that i hardly know what a blog is and am thoroughly computer illiterate. but here i am about to birth this baby with friends and family all over the place - how else in this day and age do you tell folks all about it, if not with the computer? i also am determined to learn a thing or two about this fabulous new computer that we have, so alas, we begin the learning.

it is very, very hot today in missoula and i'm trying my best to stay cool and deflated. jeff suggested we have a scavenger hunt to find my ankles...needless to say, i'm huge. at 39 weeks pregnant, i am absolutely enormous. i could go on and on and complain with mega prego symptoms, but i don't want to be that kind of pregnant lady. i do want to say that i cannot wait to meet this little girl inside of me. i cannot wait to hold her and feel her kick on the outside. i can't wait to smell her sweet baby smell and feel her breath and see her face.

what a journey this has been. i had lunch with a friend who is eighteen weeks pregnant the other day and it was so cool to feel like the knowledgeable one. after all the reading and yoga and birth classes, i actually know a thing or two about this pregnancy thing. and, i'm feeling pretty darn excited to learn a thing or two about the birth thing, in the real, here and now, hands on way. no more of this 'imagine your having a contraction' and breathe through the pain. i want that warrior woman moment. i want to move my hips and squat and hear the primal sounds that come from me. i'm tired of being afraid and anxious and scared of pooping myself. i'm just so ready to meet her!