Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Michael turned to me in bed the other night as we were falling asleep and looking at Avi laying peacefully asleep in bed between us.  He whispered in the most secretive hush, "She's an angel disguised as a human baby."  The sincerity in which he said that made me laugh out loud and wake the sleeping "angel".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

hands of love.

Great-grandma Louise holds Aveah. Eighty-eight years of wisdom and love surround Aveah's three week body and soul.

an angry dove!

Avi's perfect (if you ask us), but she does have her "moments."  Here she is during some of her "talkative" times.

Thanks, Moms!

You've heard of Mother Theresa. Well, we happen to know of a couple of "mothers" who would have given Theresa a run for her money (that is, if she hadn't taken that whole 'vow of poverty' thing). Mother Julie and Mother Peggy. These mothers are incredibly "motherly" and helped us tremendously. They each stayed a week with us soon after Avi's arrival and went crazy with pampering us-- cooking, cleaning, vacumming.  What would we do without mom?  
Michael's mom, Julia

Maren, Michael, Avi (laying on daddy's lap, just a couple hours old), and Maren's mommy Peggy

The Art and Science of Stealing Kisses from a Newborn.

First survey your subject.  Move in slowly.  

Make your first move quickly and adeptly.

Worry not about squishing eyes or other facial parts.

Be prepared for subject to apprehend you with cute looks.

If necessary, steal kisses from whatever body part lands near your mouth.

Bellies are fair game - especially during a tummy ache.

If subject places finger in mouth - kiss it...

... just don't bite it - or you may get a surprised expression from subject.

Be prepared for erratic movements of newborn subject.  Capitalize on the opportunity to kiss the elbow.

And always let mommy steal her kisses, too!

The advantages of a homebirth!

After much research, reading, and visiting hospitals and interviewing midwives and their practices, I decided on trying to have a homebirth with midwives attendants.  Many factors led me to this decision, including: safety, less medical/drug interventions, calm environment, cost, and Michael's encouragement and my own trust in the amazing female body.  My brother's comment also put a lot of confidence in me; he'd say, "Maren, don't worry, women have been having babies for over a 100 years now."  Obviously, he was being silly (that's his job as my older brother), but he was also making a point: women instinctively know how to birth - all of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and so on have birthed successfully or we wouldn't be here - so each of us come from a great line of successful births!

Here's a little excerpt from a book that I thought hit home on the safety of home births (which seems to be the biggest and most obvious concern): 

"A study done... with researchers at Stanford University, compared the safety of home birth with hospital birth. The results showed that morbidity outcomes were identical. The study also showed that only 5% of the mothers birthing at home received medication, whereas 75% of the in-hospital births received medication. Even more revealing, 3 times as many cesearean sections were performed on the mother in hospital births as there were in the planned home births that required transfer to a hospital. Babies born in hospitals suffered more fetal distress, newborn infection, and birth injuries than did those born in homes... when women are relaxed in the comfort of their own homes and are allowed to birth normally, what is looked upon as a medical incident can evolve into something quite natural and safe."

If you're interested in learning more about home birth, there's a fascinating documentary called, The Business of Being Born- click HERE

Aveah birthed in a birthing tub.  This is about 20 minutes before she came out.  The wonderful midwives gave me water with electolites to keep me comfortable and energized.  I loved how they served me with a straw!

Two minutes after she was born!  She is still a little gray, but pinking up nicely.  She was placed on my chest immediately after birth - not whisked off to be cleaned and given shots.  She stayed with me the entire time (except when grandmas and daddy wanted to hold her).  

Daddy helped with everything (except the pushing - my body did that with even my help!)  Daddy set up the tub, filled it with water, called the midwife when I was ready for her to come, and most importantly stayed with me when I wanted his presence.

Edana Hall, the certified midwife, holds Aveah for her Apgar test (which she scored a perfect 10 out of 10 on!).  I have the luxury of relaxing in the comfort of my own bed.  The other midwives were making me whatever I wanted to eat from my fridge (my craving was for raisin bread, peaches, and ramen noodles).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

She's a Mutt

Now that Aveah's here for us to see and hold (and not such an abstract thought as she was when in Maren's belly), we've been talking about all the races and nationalities that combined to get her that adorable face.   Here's her heritage:
Michael's side:

Maren's side:
Native American (Chickisaw Tribe)

Michael commented, after lisitng the 9 nationalities Avi has in her, not to forget she is part avocado, too (since we live in an avocado orchard now)!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chillaxin' with cousin Kendall

Kendall and Aveah

Cousin Kendall (2nd or 3rd cousin, to be more correct) came over for dinner the other night with her Daddy Doug (Maren's cousin) and Mommy Sarah.  We had to capture their first meeting, though not much happened!  Kendall, who is 5 weeks older than Avi, was definitely more active and responsive to the newest born Avi, who pretty much just laid there.  All four parents were completely enamored with them despite the lack of action!

We found her in the poetry section...

Who would have thought a baby makes a great book end?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Avi Dove... 10 days old

With two photographer parents, every day is a paparazzi blitz. This kid doesn't stand a chance.

To see more images of little Avi, click HERE

Your Birth Story, Aveah.

Aveah.  The day you came to us the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  The avocados ripened in the trees outside our bedroom window where you were born.

I woke around 2:00am on Saturday, June 27, 2009 with cramps, not too severe, but definitely present.  I wondered, could this be her coming?  I got excited.  I was thinking about meeting you, and I was amazed with my body just knowing how and when to start working.  But it being 2:00am made me keep quiet.  For about 2 hours I stayed awake in bed, next to your daddy, but not waking him. I didn’t want to wake him, knowing this might have been his last night of undisturbed sleep for several years(!).   I watched the clock for a while, timing the contractions to make sure they weren’t getting faster too quickly.  The surges were anywhere from 9-20 minutes apart, and so soon, I felt comfortable enough to go to sleep between the contractions.  I did this because I knew I might have a big day ahead of me – and I wanted to be as well rested for your arrival as possible.   I was able to sleep in between contractions from 4am until about 7am.

Around 7:30am, I saw your daddy stirring, so I grabbed my cell phone and called the midwife.  I told her what I was feeling – contractions spaced 9-20 minutes apart and I was able to sleep between them. She said that I should rest a little more and get up to eat when I felt like it. She said she’d stop by later in the afternoon to check on me as things progressed. Her advice sounded good so I tried to go back to sleep. About 30 minutes later (after several more cramps), I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and felt a contraction ‘pop’ something inside me. My water broke. I was happy to see that it was clear since that meant you were healthy; but I was also a little worried because I knew that I had to get you out sooner than later to make sure you were delivered safely.

The next two hours of labor were the least pleasurable as you dropped down further in my body. My bowels emptied themselves quite dramatically and frequently as you pushed through my body to enter this world. It was like having menstrual cramps combined with painful diarrhea.  Despite the discomfort, it was so nice to be home and be able to use my own bathroom and then crawl back into bed between cramps.  At one point, I took a shower; the warm water was so nice and made me feel better despite all the other things going on!  Around 9:30am, I had Michael call Edana, the midwife, again.  I realized, while your daddy was talking to her, that my contractions had sped up and were about 3 minutes apart!  Wow!  Things were moving quickly now!  Edana said she would be on her way, but she was about 45 minutes away, and her assistants/apprentice midwives might make it sooner.  That was fine with me because I didn’t think you’d be coming that soon!  Little did I know that you would be born at 12:02pm – just 90 minutes after the midwives arrived!

I asked daddy to fill the birthing tub, and I lay on the couch in our room trying to get comfortable.  By this time, I wasn’t having to go to the bathroom, but my contractions were much more intense and they started making me want to “push”.  I didn’t want to push, because I read places that the body will naturally work the baby out, but at the same time I couldn’t help but push – it was my body making me.  (It felt like the sensation of your stomach retching intensely before you vomit – except instead of nausea and upward expulsion, it was a just a strong downwards pressing.  It is amazing how strong the body is!)  When the first midwife apprentice arrived, she wanted to do an exam down there.  She said she was having a hard time finding my cervix – this made me a little nervous, but I was also too involved with my body to care much about what she said.  Now,  I laugh because it was hard to find my cervix since it was completely open and dilated ready for you to come to this world!  When Edana arrived she did her own exam and said exactly that – I was fully dilated and you were in stage 2 of the 5 stages descending down the birth canal!   She said that I should get in the water/birthing tub soon. 

After I got in the tub I felt another surge come on.  Edana had left the room to prepare something, and I remember shouting, “help!”  - that contraction must have been the point of labor that all women get to thinking “I can’t do this.”   I felt very strong, but honestly was scared that you might have already come!   Your daddy called Edana back in the room and I felt better, ready to proceed.  In between surges I was able to really enjoy the warm water of the birthing tub.  Having not been able to use a spa for 9 months while you were in utero, the experience of warm water surrounding my body felt so divine!  I remember saying “Oh… I love spas” in between a surge. Everyone was running around, preparing things for your arrival, but now they stayed in the room.  Several times I would ask for something, like a pillow or a glass of water.  After I would ask for these things, I would nod towards Michael, and demand “not you” – I didn’t want him to leave my side.  At the same time, I didn’t want him or anyone touching me.  I was just focusing on remaining calm and reacting to my body’s surges that I couldn’t believe were bringing you closer to us.   Daddy did fan me during the final stages of your birthing, and that felt really nice.

Finally, about 20 or 30 minutes after I got in the tub, you began to crown.  You showed your little head (including an ear) during a push, but the rest of your head wasn’t ready to make it out during that push.  So we waited until the next contraction when your head popped out.  Edana and your daddy could see your little face and your eyes were closed (I think that’s cute – you were so calm during your birth – asleep even!)  Edana said that when your head came out you also decided to stick out one of your arms.  That made my perineum area tear, but I think that’s cute that you were raising your little arm – saying, “Here I am, world!”  Once your head was out, we had to wait for another surge (the final one) to have the remaining part of your body come out.  This final expulsion was the strangest feeling I’ve ever felt as your shoulders passed the perineum and the rest of your body quickly slithered out.  It felt like you were ten feet long coming out of me, but it didn’t take long at all maybe 2 seconds for you to fully emerge.  Immediately, Edana grabbed you and put you on my chest while we were both in the water.  You were grayish/purple and smelled sort of funny.  Sorry, but this was my first impression.  It wasn’t love at first sight, more like bewilderment at first sight.  It was so surreal, you coming from inside of me, and now within several short minutes being a part of this world.  You cried a few short cries and then rested on my chest.   The umbilical chord was short, and it was hard keeping your mouth out of the water, so I regretfully took you and me out of the warm water and we sat on the couch.  There you first breast-fed.  The midwives had warm blankets from the dryer, and they wrapped you and me together in their warmth.  I was still in a state of amazement and honestly quite exhausted from the birthing experience, and I tried to take you in, but I was so dumbfounded by what just happened.  I kept you on my chest and didn’t want you to leave me, though I didn’t know exactly what to do with you!  I just knew I wanted you near me.  You laid on my chest during the stitching of my perineum, and I didn’t let you go until your grandparents got here and wanted a share of your amazing self.

The midwives said that you were such an easy baby to deliver that I should become a surrogate mother – I appreciate their praise, but I don’t think I could ever give up someone that I had such an intimate experience with.  Within tens of minutes of birth you got a nice pink color to you.  You slept most of the first day, and woke to feed several times in the evening.  Your grandparents Paul, Peggy, Julia, and Jim came to see you and so did your great-grandma Louise.  They were all so excited to meet you.  They all thought you were perfect and so good-looking!  I stayed in bed and rested and shared you with all those who wanted to see you.  By the next day, I was totally in love with you.  You had won me over with your adorable facial expressions, need to hold me with your little hands, soft-as-air hair and skin, and your irresistible baby smell.  I don’t know how we got so blessed to have such a beautiful birth experience and baby.  I couldn’t have hoped for anything more!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm a sucker. There, I admitted it.

From my/Michael's perspective, you ask any parent of a newborn who the cutest person in the world is, and they will of course tell you it’s their kid. But the thing is, people like that are operating under some crazy, delusional spell. It’s really just a biological trick to get them to bond with the baby and continue the human race. You could ask me the same question, and I’ll tell you the same thing— my kid is the cutest thing in the universe. The main difference however, is that I’m right. She really is the most beautiful baby in the universe. I can’t take my eyes off her. I hold her in front of me and lose myself in gazing goo-goo eyed. I get giddy at every little facial expression (there’s the ‘pursed-lip-I’m-too-good-for-all-of-this’ expression, the ‘furrowed-forehead-of-surprise’ expression, the ‘frantic-horror-stricken’ expression accompanied by her insane orchestra-conducting arms, etc., etc. etc.)  You know that old Frankie Valli song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”? That song is on repeat in my head. Especially when I’m not with her, that song is playing over and over and over. I facebooked with my cousin Candice who has not one, but five little girls, and told her I now understand the euphoric-addiction to baby-making. There is no question that I am punch drunk by this girl.

But the weird thing is, for all the tremendous love and awe I have for Avi, she barely even notices me. I spend a lot of time admiring her and talking to her and staring at her, but she doesn’t even return my gaze for longer than a second, if she’s even really looking at me (as opposed to her just seeing a fuzzy glob in front of her). I’m aware that she’s processing who I am, what I look and sound like, in her own neonatal way, but that just isn’t the same is it? She notices Maren way more than me, since Maren holds the groceries, literally. She’s dependent on her. But me? I’m just a supporting actor at best, really more of an extra on the set. Her heart-stopping gray eyes roam over the room and just glide right past me. I am a schoolboy with an intense crush on the most popular girl who doesn’t offer the time of day. She doesn’t even know my name. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining here, just observing. In fact, this all just adds to my infatuation with her. Because like any other sucker in love, the more I get ignored by her, the more I get hooked.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Aveah at 2 days old

You asked and we delivered... here's a few more quick pics of our little Avi

this is a rare shot of our little 'one-eyed jack' who hasn't done much eye-opening these first few days of her life.

what do you do with a drunken sailor...?

you bathe her in the galley!