staying afloat

Our mini-vacation has come and gone. Ralph and I had a great time; our friends Cyn, Paige, and Chris came (along with two guest dogs) and we just ate, swam (yes, Ralph got a water fight – with only one opponent though), cooked (me only), and did dishes (sadly, a necessary evil of that last thing).

Sophie ran and jumped off the dock, swimming back to the end of the pier. She did this four thousand times, but each one I had to watch her swim back to the dock because her swimming still looks spastic and unreliable. I tried to look casual, not as if my heart was in my throat. Nels did not like the water so much; he mostly stayed inside, sometimes stripping nude and eating chips. Both kids got stung – Sophie by a wasp, Nels by a bee. Sophie helped me make Ralph’s birthday cake and suggested pink frosting.

The drive home was easy and our newly-stung boy fell asleep before we reached the end of the driveway (I watched him carefully; he had the tiniest bit of swelling on his finger and it went down within 12 hours). We capped the weekend with only a brief stop home before heading to see Ratatouille. Then home to mountain of towels and vacation laundry.

Ocean Shores Cinema, Sunday Night

my little man turns three today,

and I’m gonna gift ya’ll with a tribute to my son and our life thus far.

Mama about to get knocked up
This is me, right about when I got pregnant with Nels. I haven’t been skinny since. Thanks, Boy!

Wee Sophie, summer '03.
Sophie, same time as above. What the fuck? How cute is that? That’s Ralph’s pasty leg in the background, BTW. Not mine. I swear.

Newborn Nels
My Easter Baby. Well, not Easter exactly. His birth was my favorite thing ever. He hung out in the sling quite a bit – in this case, daddy has him.

Ralph and Nels, back then as now.
Ralph, a few days later. Everyone in the goddamn house slept while I ran around. It was great.

the "big" sister
Sophie, the “big” sister – right after Nels was born. Her hobbies at this time: dressing up as a ninja, nursing a couple times a day.

Sophie + Nels
Sophie and Nels – still summertime, you can tell by their skin. Jesus, have I never heard of sunblock? What kind of mother am I?

Nels' smile
Nels’ smile is always in his eyes. Our doula knit this cap.

First Halloween for Nels
First Halloween. How cute is this? His ears even match his expression. He’s just about to go on the hayride at the Ft. Worden Spooktacular. We went every year. (P.S. you can see the tiny “flaw” in his left eye, in this picture).

1 year old
One year old – and this is how our life was. He rode around on my body as I went about my business. I loved it.

Nels 1, Sophie 3,
Why is he so fat?!? Why did no one tell me?

Aw yeah.
Grabbin’ the junk, in the front yard. God I miss PT. We won’t be doing that here.

Nels at 2.
Nels’ second birthday. I made him a butterfly cake. Check out Mr. Surly Curls. He will look the same in 65 years.

A typical "squinky" look
A typical “look” from Nels, usually trying to get some boob or chocolate (or both). Check the cleft chin. What a hunk! Yes, I’m a sick Oedipal case – but most mommies are, they just don’t admit it.

Last days of PT
My little kitten on our last day in PT. He’s heading – who knows where. I have always yelled, grabbed, and / or caught him. So far.

New life in HQX
The Boy, contemplating life’s existential issues.

(Flickr tag set)

sophie it’s your birthday, happy birthday sophie!

If you visit Los Arcos family Mexican restaurant in Hoquiam, you will find a picture of my daughter, beaming yet gripping my arm shyly as she is sung “Happy Birthday” in front of a ginormous Cinderella double-layer cake my mother made her, replete with a large Cinderella doll. Except Sophie pronounces it, and I’m not kidding, “Cingorilla”. She is suddenly interested in princesses. I am trying not to hate on princesses but rather find examples of useful princesses. P.S. I am open to suggestions!

My mother bought Sophie a Mary Kate and Ashley Olson white embroidered blouse and long skirt. Yeah, you heard. But it is actually just fine – not too trampy nor barfy. Don’t ask me about her pensive expression here – I have no idea. The little “glowing things” in her hair are tiny clips – my mom fixed her up before we went out.

I made Sophie a swim kit: her own Sophie-sized duffel bag (a black Nike one), a towel, small shampoo and conditioner, goggles (she had the suit and cap already), and Cliff bars (one after each swim lesson). Here was the coup de grace – my brother made her a laminated “swim kit key” with her name on side of the tag, and a pictorial and label reference for the items she needs to pack:

Get this, my brother created this off of photos I took of Sophie’s exact swimsuit, etc. Now she has a waterproof tag listing her gear. Cool, huh? And yes, my brother just is that talented and available to hire except perhaps to me.

The princess hair didn’t last long… (note my psoriasis – yay!)

… and the goggles were a big hit.

My brother, father, and husband did not get gifts for Sophie. But everyone had a great time (or seemed to) at the restaurant and celebration afterwards.

lovely gifts in the mail. and … ass.

In a few minutes: the family all-out for Sophie’s 5th birthday party. Yay Sophie! Yesterday she received a simply lovely birthday package from her friend Olivia (daughter to my friend Abbi):

From left to right: miso pretty gum, picture of Liv, fabulous summer fisherman hat, optical illusion book, small pewter night and dinosaur card.

Thank you, Olivia!

A few minutes ago I overheard my mom quickly turn to my dad and angrily say, “He smells like shit. Check his ass!” (referring to the dog who came in from his afternoon outside dump). And my dad kind of shrank in his chair when she yelled at him because he knew he’d have to do it. 10 minutes later and I am still laughing, laughing, laughing.

here’s what you need to know

1. Yesterday we found out my cat Fancy had been killed. R.I.P. my beloved, sweetest kitty.

2. The last 22 hours have been me at a surprise 30th birthday party / going away party / slumber party with my FOO and my most dear friends. I am still kinda shell-shocked (including, see #1). I need time to myself with the kids – to clean up (us and the house), rest, relax, nap, and pull myself together.

Individual thank yous will follow, but for now: thank you to all my friends and family who really, really surprised me with a wonderful thirtieth birthday party. It was a lovely experience.

feliz cumpleanos to me

Today is my thirtieth birthday. After brushing my teeth in the bathroom and pulling four combs out of my tangled post-sleep hair I re-entered my bedroom to a full-family seranade (Cyn knows just how sweet Sophie’s “birthday” rendition is). My husband presents me with coffee (in a “birthday cup”) and a card with a $25 iTunes gift certificate inside (my Ricky Gervais collection will all-too-soon be complete).

Besides Ralph’s gift, I haven’t received other gifts yet. However I have received so many nice comments and well-wishes for freinds, and they are appreciated. And because it was asked for, I’m going to provide my list of material goods I want:

1. Fancy’s return home.

2 An old Euro breadbox from Pane D’Amore in Port Townsend ($80 – $110 apiece).

3. Two items from Escentials: A 1/2 ounce of their Dragon’s Blood, and a 1/2 ounce of a custom blend (two parts cucumber, two parts grapefruit, one part fig).

4. A better coffee maker. Not a lot of timing, self-grinding crap. Not a french press, either (or Scaldy McScalds-a-Lot as I call them). I dunno.

5. A date (or a night away!) with Ralph. Very much.

6. A trip to the hairdressers. Perhaps put in the “Much Needed” category?

7. A date to see Ghost Rider with Sophie.

By the way: since I’m thirty now, and a big girl? I might just get some of these FOR myself.

happy birthday, Nels

I can’t believe it’s been a year.

Nels David Hogaboom
a birth story

Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sister Sophia
1:20 AM Wednesday April 7, 2004
8 pounds 7 ounces
21 inches long

April 6th, 9 AM – is it or isn’t it?

A couple hours after I wake up on Tuesday I’m having mild contractions that are only a tiny bit more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had throughout the last half of my pregnancy. These contractions are only slightly painful and certainly not too intense. Nevertheless, they are somewhat distracting and never truly subside, coming anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart. Ralph senses things are going to go into motion and comes home at noon, starting his two weeks off of work. He calls my mom at about 3 PM and tells her to head up to see us (she leaves about 5 PM). At this point I am hopeful of labor but also feeling somewhat silly at the thought I might be treating everyone to a false alarm. My mom arrives at about 9 PM time and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.

April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing

My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to “get things moving” or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m trying not to be too fearful of another long labor like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about 4 minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’s to come.

Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.

April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote

Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide to get in, hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well — grunting urge. I know it is perfectly okay to grunt and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing” and I reply (idiotically) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.

April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!

Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little silly about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon — with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful and very alarmed and – well – a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of his head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.

April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born

With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of his long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding him to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. He is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby boy in my own home, with my own power.

April 7th, early morning – getting to know you

I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my child away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see we have a boy! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.

I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food — cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with Sophie too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with Sophie, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. Sophie wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss her and introduce her to her brother (she is unimpressed) and Ralph takes her back to the bedroom to settle her back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to pee, feeling now finally that everything is alright.

My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.