Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Blood and Milk

by Sharlee Mullins Glenn
I dreamed of Oxford . . .
(spires, a thousand spires, endless lectures, musty halls
a solitary self in a Bodleian expanse
A good life my dear Wormwood. An orderly life.)
then awakened to laundry
and things to be wiped
countertops, noses, bottoms)
How did this happen? And when, exactly?

 Time flows, it flows, it flows
and there are choices to be made:

left or right?
paper or plastic?
blood or milk?

There's freedom in the bleeding;
bondage in the milk—do not be deceived.

Ah, but it's an empty freedom; a holy bondage,
A sweet and holy bondage.

Five times I chose the chains, those tender chains,
(though once will bind you just as well!)
and checked the crimson flow.
Suckled while dreaming of Trinity Term
but awakened, always awakened, to the laundry
and to that small and cherished captor at my breast.

 I stumbled across this poem the other day and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I am not generally a poetry person -- prose is much more my style. But this one...something about that small and cherished captor, and dreaming of Oxford, and choices, and bondage...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome Elijah!

Elijah Christopher Cutler
June 26, 2012
5:43 am
8 lbs 12 oz
21 inches

Elijah's Birth Story

Monday the 25th, my official due date and the day before Elijah was born, was a nice relaxing day for me.  Sunday I had been an emotional grumpy wreck because I had really wanted to have him that day, so Monday I was resigned and relatively cheerful. I no longer had any expectations of (ever) having him, I had reached the mystical due date, so that was kind of just over with, and my friend Adrienne had offered to take the boys so I could have a break!  It was a really relaxing, quiet day.  When I went to bed that night I had no thought that I would actually go into labor.

William got up sometime probably soon after 1:00 in the morning to go to the bathroom, and insisted that I come in with him and walk him back to bed.  I went back to bed and was just drifting off when he started calling me from his bedroom.  I listened for a bit hoping he would give up, but finally went in.  By the time I took care of whatever he wanted and went back to bed I was quite awake. I don't know how long I lay in bed feeling not at all sleepy when I had the first contraction that felt different.  I had grown used to fairly constant contractions (some of which were quite long) the last few weeks but this was finally something that felt more cramp-like with lots of  downward pressure.

I tried to ignore the next few more contractions and then decided that since I obviously couldn't go back to sleep I would time them to see if there was any pattern.  I remember looking at the clock at 2:18 am  at the start of one of the contractions, so my guess is that I probably started having contractions around 2:00.  The contractions were between 3-6 minutes apart at that point, and were definitely labor contractions, but also definitely manageable.

At 3:00 am I decided to get up, get a drink, walk around etc. to see if anything changed.  I also downloaded a free app on my ipad to time my contractions and started to time them using that.  By 3:30 they were averaging around 4 minutes apart and lasting around 45 seconds.

I figured that since they didn't seem to be going away I should let Chris know that I was in labor, so I woke him up, told him I thought it was the day, but that I was doing just fine and he could go back to sleep for a little while.  He told me to wake him up in an hour unless I needed him sooner.  I asked him if he though I should let my mom know yet and he said we could probably wait a little longer so she could sleep too.

So then I went back to puttering.  I did a few little things, and kept timing my contractions which seemed to me to be getting more intense.  I was finding it much more comfortable to be walking around and to stop and sway my hips during contractions than to be sitting or lying down.  However, I knew in my head that I hadn't been in labor very long and kept wondering if I only thought my contractions were getting more intense because I didn't have anything to distract me from focusing on them.  I did feel really close to the baby during this time.  I just kept thinking how excited I was to meet him and how glad I was that he was on his way!

By 4:30 I was still managing my contractions just fine, although they were definitely more intense than they had been.  I decided it would be best to have Chris get up and set up the birth tub because it would be better to get it up sooner rather than be rushing later.  Plus at that point I was feeling a little bit like it would just be good to have people up and getting ready.  So I woke Chris up and told him my contractions were more intense and that I wanted him to set up the birth tub.  He flew out of bed, got dressed and took the birth tub upstairs in the laundry room to blow it up so that he wouldn't wake up the boys with the sound of the pump.   I went upstairs and hung out with him while he was doing that and was definitely having to at least stop, lean on something and sway my hips with the contractions.  At that point they were probably averaging around 3 and a half minutes apart, but I was having some that would come after less than 2 minutes.  They were still lasting around 40-50 seconds though and sometimes only 30 seconds.

After he got the birth tub pumped up, in position and started filling it I asked him if he would let my mom know.  He texted her at around 4:40.  He also texted his mom who we had wanted to attend the birth as well, but she didn't respond.  My mom came downstairs after a few minutes, and asked how things were going, how long I had been in labor etc. And then settled down, not seeming in much hurry.  She looked at the ipad where I had been recording my contractions and didn't seem like there was anything at all urgent in what she saw. Chris did a few things and then curled up on the couch with a blanket.   I was sitting on the rocking chair at that point just to get a break from walking around.  I was having to concentrate through contractions.  At some point Chris checked the water and it was running colder so we shut it off.  The birth tub was about half full.  My mom and I covered the tub with a blanket to help keep the water hot, and she said we would just wait an hour or so for the water heater to recharge and then fill it the rest of the way.  I think Chris had also put some pans on the stove to heat some water that way.

Sometime after she came downstairs my mom asked if dinner was the last time I had eaten, and I told her I had had something at about 11:00 pm.  Before waking anyone up I had had the thought that I could/should probably eat something but I hadn't really felt like getting anything so I didn't.  My mom said I should eat if I could, and although I didn't really want to I told Chris to make me a peanut butter sandwich with a little bit of honey.  By the time he brought it back down I didn't really feel like eating it, but I gave it a try.  I probably ate about 3 or 4 bites and then put it down because I didn't want it.  I then remember having a contraction (sitting in the rocking chair) that hurt REALLY bad.  I knew I couldn't sit down for any more contractions.  Probably right around this time Chris asked my mom when it was a good time to get in the birth tub and she responded "well, she could get in and then if everything died away you would know it was too early.  It's usually better to wait until a little later".  To me that clearly said "this is still early labor that could easily die out and I think it will be quite a while."  But in my head I thought "This does NOT feel like early labor and I can't imagine it will die away at this point."

 I actually had a little voice in the back of my head that said "this feels like it is going fast" (it had only been 3 hours of labor at that point) but at the same time both Chris and my mom seemed so completely unconcerned that I didn't really trust that little voice, and I didn't vocalize it either. I had also stopped timing my contractions at some point. 

My mom had been doing something upstairs, but then came down and asked if she could monitor the baby for a minute including during a contraction. I think she had brought all her bags downstairs at that point, but hadn't really gotten much set up.  I didn't even know if she had called the assistant that was supposed to come or not.

She tried to monitor the baby during a contraction, in which I was standing up leaning on the desk, and not only was it extremely uncomfortable for me (the contraction which I was feeling a lot of in my lower back) but was also frustrating because her monitor kept shutting off.  She thought maybe the battery was dying and called my dad (out doing the paper route for Mary) if he would get her a new one.

I really felt like I had to go to the bathroom (#2 :)) and my mom told me to go in and go.  I tried to go, but just sitting down on the toilet was very uncomfortable and I just couldn't make myself do it.  I remember feeling really disoriented and a kind of frantic in the bathroom.  I had a contraction leaning over the sink and then went out and told them that I just couldn't sit down.  I think my dad got there with a battery right then and my mom went upstairs to get it.  I went over to Chris (who was still on the couch) and knelt down next to the couch and moaned through a contraction.  I told him that my back hurt really bad and he gave me counter pressure.  He was in a really awkward position to do it though, so after that contraction he got up and got behind me.

I'm not sure when exactly around now he called his mom, but it was sometime in here.  She answered and he told her I was in labor and should come.

Anyway, I was kneeling on the floor, and Chris was behind me giving me back pressure when my mom came back downstairs.  I had another really hard contraction (although they were ALL hard at this point) and I felt the babies head move down what felt like a ton.  I told them "I just felt the baby move down" and then looked at my mom and said "Can I PLEASE get in the tub?!!" She said to of course get in.  Chris helped me get into my sports bra really fast and I got in the tub, which of course was only half way full.

Sitting down the water came about half way up my belly, and I don't remember it feeling very soothing at all.  I remember having one contraction sitting down in the tub and knowing that I didn't want to be in that position, so after that contraction I knelt over the side.  This made it so the water hardly covered my belly at all, but I was pretty oblivious at this point.  I suddenly felt like I had to go to the bathroom really really bad, and I had a moment's hesitation because I didn't want to poop in the water, but then decided I didn't care.  The urge to push was too strong.  I think I pushed through one contraction, and I remember Chris saying to my mom "she's pushing".  Then I pushed again and I heard a big "pop".  It took me a second to realize what it was and then I said, "My water just broke".  I think both Chris and my mom were behind me then, but I'm not sure. 

As soon as my water broke I could feel the baby crowning.  I pushed through the next contraction and I knew that the baby was right there, but it felt like it took forever (it was only one contraction but it felt like it lasted about 10 minutes) for the head to actually come out.  I started freaking out because it hurt so stinking bad.  I felt like I was screaming, and I remember saying "Why isn't his head coming out?!!" I also remember my mom and Chris both telling me to SLOW DOWN!"

We had been planning for Chris to catch the baby, but I was freaking out so much that he moved around to be close to me and tried to help me settle down and breathe.  At the end of that contraction the head came out, and then I think my mom was trying to unwind some cord, or move the babies shoulders or something, but I snapped at her not to pull on the baby.  With the next contraction which again felt like it was long...the rest of the babies body came out.  It was 5:43 am. Oh, and for the record, I didn't poop in the tub! 

Elijah gave some good yells right when he was born and pinked up right away.  I felt exhausted and a little like I had been torn apart.  Either my yelling or the babies yelling woke up Isaac because he came out of his room minutes after the baby was born.  He ran in to go potty like he always does, and Chris went in and explained that the baby had been born.  After going to the bathroom he came in to see me and was so excited and so sweet.  He stood at the edge of the birth tub and just looked and looked at the baby.  It was one of the sweetest moments of the whole thing to see his glowing face as he looked at his baby brother.

Isaac meeting baby Elijah minutes after birth.
After being with us for a little while Isaac tried to wake up William and was yelling at him that the baby had been born, but William was so dead asleep he didn't respond at all.

Chris's mom also came in only a few minutes after the baby was born.  We were sorry she missed it, but were also glad to have her there afterward. 
Elijah meeting Grandma Cutler
I stayed in the birth tub to deliver the placenta.  The birth center assistant, Anna, got there while I was still in the tub and helped out with that, and then helped get things ready so I could get out of the tub and onto the couch.  They set me up on the couch, and my mom gave me an ice pack thing to put between my legs that felt like heaven! She also informed me that unfortunately I had torn and would need to be stitched.  Lame.  Elijah nursed right away.

Sorry for the scandalous picture, and that Chris's head is cut off but it's the only one I have with him and I was SO glad to have him there this time!
When my mom weighted Elijah neither Chris or I could quite believe that he was almost 9 pounds!
8 lbs 12 oz
Chris decided to go get his electric fish scale and try weighing him with that just to make sure.  Guess she was right! Elijah was more than a pound bigger than William (7 lbs 10 oz) and a more than a pound and a half bigger than Isaac (7 lbs 1 oz).  No wonder I felt like it hurt so bad!
After things got settled down a bit someone went in and woke up William to come see the baby.  He still had a hard time waking up as this picture clearly shows.  Ha ha! 
Tim and Irene came down from Rexburg to help with the boys that day.  Here they are watching the new born exam. They were a big help and took the kids out to the park and helped them make pictures for me. 
When I felt like I could deal with it they helped me move to my bed and I got stitched up.  I was so glad to have Chris there holding my hand while I was stitched.  Later I also had to have my blood drawn and I let Chris do that.  He did an awesome job and got me on the first try.  I have really little veins and have had people with a lot of experience have to try several times before they can stick me. 

After that we just kind of settled in to recover.  My Dad came in at some point and got to meet the new baby, but sadly I don't have any pictures of him with Elijah. Chris and I took a long nap that afternoon with the baby which was wonderful.  We knew we liked the name Elijah but weren't quite sure that it was the right name, so all day we kept trying out different names.  We finally decided that Elijah it was and I knew that I wanted him to have Chris's name for a middle name.  It is always so much fun to get to know a new little spirit and we are so glad to have Elijah as part of our family.

Looking back, and talking with my mom and Chris there are a couple of things I realized about this labor/myself.

1-I agonize internally.  I kept wondering why they couldn't tell that my contractions were intense and why they weren't a little more concerned.  I guess I don't show it.  I guess I just do all my agonizing and stuff in my head.  Chris said he didn't realize that I was in hard labor until I came and knelt next to him, and even then he never thought "transition" because the only previous experience he had was when I was in labor with William and I was in hard labor with him for hours.  

2-I time my contractions wrong.  I could tell that a contraction was "coming on" but I wouldn't start timing it until it was definitely a contraction (nearer the peak of the contraction instead of from the very first).  Therefore what looked like 35-45 second contractions were actually lasting closer to a minute.  That definitely led to some complacency on my mom's part.

3-I remember sitting in the water after I had the baby thinking that I didn't really love the whole water birth thing.  In the moment I thought "it didn't really seem to help at all, and now I'm just sitting in yucky water".  However, I would definitely be willing to give it another try because I think if we set it up and filled it up sooner, so that it was all the way full and would actually cover my belly and if I got in earlier, before I was ready to push, I think I might like it. 

Here are some more pictures:

William and Isaac showing me the pictures they made for me.  William remembered that two o's together say oo so he wrote I lev yoo and drew a picture of our family :).  Love that kid!

Grandma Cutler playing with the boys.  They kind of like her.

Isaac getting to hold baby Elijah.  He is so thrilled with everything about the baby.
William holding his brother.  He is the best big brother ever.  He is attentive and careful with the baby and helpful to me. 

Grandpa Cutler meeting Elijah for the first time later that night.

The day after that baby was born.  They boys love to get to hold the baby while I am reading them bedtime stories.
3 days old
Brothers! William 4, Isaac 2, Elijah 1 week
2 weeks