After nine months of excited anticipation, Baby Sister is finally here. Lake held her for the first time when she was five days old. He has the proud wonderous look reserved only for the big brother to the Baby Sister. He held her beautifully for a few moments before the gravity of the situation overwhelmed him: “she’s too heavy!”
We keep exclaiming how similar the two look. Lady Kitty is being constantly referred to as “he” or “Lake”… Mr. Cat is proving to be a faithful companion to both.
A perfect pair. A perfect day. I’m glad I spent it with you Lake and Lady Kitty. I’m glad you have each other!
At four days old, Lady Kitty has her first Big Appointment with the World. She has an occasion to get dressed up and out of the cozy nest of home. She has her very first own doctor’s visit. With Lake since we were under the care of the licensed midwives, Carly Meisner LM came to our home to do the first visit. So it was funny going to Harborview with our four day old well baby. Nana drove us over to Harborview Pediatric Clinic. Clarence was there to greet us upon our arrival and meet Lady Kitty for the first time. She immediately cuddled right up into him. She met her PCP, Dr. Abby Grant and we had a perfectly delightful time. All went really smoothly with the visit and there were no significant concerns. She was weighed and measured and clicked and tapped.
She tolerated the medical assistant’s vitals exam and then melted under the doctor’s skilled touch. He weight is at a recorded nadir- she’s lost 10% of her birth weight. Nonetheless, we predict she’s on the upswing since The Milk Has Come In! We will confirm she’s growing appropriately in a few days and have another appointment on Thursday. Busy Lady Kitty needs her own calendar… and secretary… and driver!
A perfect day, a perfect outing, and such a strong team of Lady Kitty handlers. Thank you!
We passed all the discharge check points, and obtained a fairly efficient and uneventful 1200 noon discharge on Saturday. The nurse Caitlin was magnanimous about our older car seat and didn’t try to overly manage the situation. She advised us if we had any concerns we could visit any fire station on the way home for a safety review. We didn’t have any concerns. We were happy to be accompanied out the door in good spirits taking our new addition home. What a miracle! Michael was amazing throughout the entire experience, so loving, present and tirelessly supportive.
Then suddenly we were home, with a new child. What a celebration! A new life and generous maternity leave arriving with us.
I still was in shock, not completely believing all of the events of the past few days. In theory it’s all quite logical, pregnancy culminates in birth and a new baby. However it is another matter to comprehend the magnitude of the transformation I was actually going to be birthing our daughter- so wonderous as to be surreal.
And here we are… cozy at home together with our family, singing “Happy Birthday” to Lady Kitty. An unbelievably perfect day! I’m glad I spent it with you.
Right before noon on 20 February after a full 27 hours labor and getting fully dilated and fully effaced and pushing hard several hours, we transferred to the OR for emergency Cesarean surgery baby extraction. Weighing in at just over 8.5 pounds, Baby Sister is a full pound and a quarter bigger than her brother at birth, and perhaps due to being sunny side up, she just wouldn’t descend in a timely manner- then her heart rate was up in the 180s and mine was in the 150s (which was concerning for infection) and it finally became the best option (and the only option recommended by Dr. Dawn Frankwick, the fresh attending who took over for Dr. Ali Lewis at 8am). So in an unexpected twist of fate Lady Kitty Ethel VanLaanen was born by Ceasarian on 2/20/2020 at 11:24am. We were both put on infection watch, which we both pulled out of in typical Thom(p)son-woman strength.
Lady Kitty has a sweet disposition, and the nurses here at UWMC Northwest (we had some great ones: Bryce, Stephanie, Becky, Janine, Amy, Caitlin, and Nikkea) all find her to be very cuddly. She’s figured out breastfeeding (which she prefers to do at night), and sleeping (which she prefers to do during the day). She’s extremely loved and as a bonus she even has red hair!
A perfect day! I’m so glad to meet you sweetheart. Looking forward to sharing the world with you and introducing you to all our friends and family!
There was reluctance on my part to agree to the induction of labor which is standard of care between 39-40 weeks for a woman of my age (over 40 years old). I was wanting to trust the process and believe in the mantra your baby knows when; your body knows how. I enjoyed a prenatal yoga teacher training last fall, and we read and discussed a lot of Ina May Gaskin, the nation’s preeminent midwife and childbirth educator. She’s a strong advocate for empowering women to experience low to no medically intervened childbirth, achieving impressive statistics of safe and effective child birth. I wanted that experience for myself. Could I do it?
In my mind I was struggling to balance risk management for baby safety and not wanting to succumbing to fear-based medicalized childbirth. As was Dr. Ali Lewis. She has her training and professional standard of care obligations, but at the same time was not worried about me or Baby Sister. Then a moment arrived I did not think would have arrived: I was 41 weeks and 2 days and she was entering her last shift on-call at the hospital before going on vacation to Hawaii.
Finally as we’re on the cusp of making the choice to induce, and if so when, or to wait, this joke came to mind. It has always had extra significance to me due to where I grew up. I heard it as a child and it is fitting for the property of my childhood home, nestled in the Quinault River Valley and rainforest between two creeks prone to swell their banks during seasonal flooding:
There was a flood and a man holed up in his house as the waters rose around it. A rowboat came by, offering help. Oh no, thank you. I’m quite alright, the good lord will provide. The rain kept on and the flooding waters rose higher. A fire boat came by and declared evacuation of the area. Climb aboard, the rescue persons commanded. Oh no, thank you. I’m quite alright, the good lord will provide. The rain kept on and the flooding waters rose higher. The man climbed out the third story window and out onto his roof. Finally a helicopter flew over, flying low and dropping a ladder. Over the loudspeaker the pilot compelled the man to climb on and be flown to safely. Floodwaters were continuing to rise and the area would surely be swallowed. Oh no, thank you. I’m quite alright, the good lord will provide, answered the devout man.
Indeed the water rose higher and the devout man drowned. He appeared at the gates of Heaven and asked God in dismay: How come you didn’t save me? God answered, I sent a rowboat, then a fireboat, and even a helicopter.
Now we are at UWMC NW campus for induction. Our amazing doctor Ali Lewis, MD is here on her 24 hour shift, and our doula Meg is on the premises splitting her time between us, another patient, and sleep. Ali put in a Cooks catheter at 9am. That went well. It will stay in for 3-6 hours to dilate my cervix. It was still at 0.5 cm 60% effaced midline. Then plan for pit drip (+/- epidural: we will see how it goes. I have nitrous oxide for when needed), then breaking the waters… goal baby born in the window of after midnight and before 8am 🙂, in order to have the awesome birthday 2/20/20 and Dr Lewis before she goes off shift!
Golden Gardens Park is a little treasure of sandy beach in North Seattle. NanaBaba are golden grandparents. We came out for the last rays of sunshine on one of the first really brilliantly sunny days of the year. But… still bitingly cold, especially with the wind. Well, it is February! Didn’t bother Lake a bit; he had a hilarious time in spite of the cold. He was making dinner in the sand (salt, pepper and tofu), sand angels and planning for camping outside overnight. And laughing out loud the whole time!
When Nana asked him if he saw anything notable at Greenlake earlier in the day (he walked all the way around with Vivi), he replied, “of course… the lake…” Too funny! I’m glad everyone is having such a great jovial time, enjoying each other’s company during these special golden days. It’s such a gift having all the support and family around for these last days of pregnancy. Thank you for the perfect Golden evening. I’m glad I spent it with you!
It’s 41 weeks with Baby Sister on board. Still pregnant! It’s inevitably nearing the conclusion though of our time together in cozy symbiosis. Yes, I think I get just as much from being pregnant with her as she does from gaining life from me. Lake is excited to have NanaBaba in residence. He’s so thrilled he trucked down to the apartment this morning at 7am wearing his pajamas and carrying his Uggs. He put them on to keep his feet cozy, then jumped into bed with NanaBaba. He’s gearing up for the household change (we think).
Lake has said on multiple occasions he’s going to be a super helpful big brother because babies are a lot of work.
“When she wakes up in the night I’m going to wake up, go in to the hallway, pick her up out of her basket. I’m going to bring her in to your room mama for milkies.”
In practice, we will see. Nana thinks he’s beginning to show signs of jealousy with the purchase of yet another item of clothing for Baby Sister. He thought we had enough! Here’s the guy who invented the response to each admittedly precious addition to Baby Sister’s wardrobe: “too cute for words!” We will see.
Here he is out with Vivi in Ballard at the Sunday market, bringing Mama home a beautiful vegan-gluten-free lemon cookie. Yum. Such a sweetheart. Looks like he’s going to be an exceptional big brother.
Our doula Meghan Heather Ford just sent me a poignant article The Last Days of Pregnancy: a place of in-between by Jana Studelska CPM/LM published in Mothering Magazine on 4/10/2012 (https://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between/). It brought me to a weeping state. It is such a tender time, preparing for the epic process of birth. Now at 40 weeks and counting, all the nesting and baby preparations are complete. It’s trusting the process, that “my baby knows when and my body knows how.” It’s a time of slow walks, shared moments of presence with Lake and Michael. Nothing is taken for granted. Nothing will ever be the same. It is a deeply spiritual time, palpable with opportunity. It is the in-between time, or interim: zwischenzeit, in German. In a culture that has little patience for waiting in general , and is specifically quick to schedule inductions and surgical extractions, it’s a form of rare gem, a radical and transformative act, to create space around this intimate time, to sink in to the zwischen and allow it time to unfold. I’m blessed to have a supportive team at UWMC Northwest, lead by Dr. Ali Lewis MD who respects the natural process. Mama, Little Sister cozy in utero, and loving family all poised on the cusp of the upcoming labor, birth, new-mothering/parenting/big-brothering/grandparenting/au pairing. Our family is growing!
To mark the occasion of the due date ( by serendipity, yet a lovely act of hygge) We had a lovely adventure with Chamonix Penelopy Browne of The Happy Film Company at Discovery Park yesterday at 40 weeks yesterday morning. It was a beautiful morning, some sun flirted with us from 7:30-8am on our drive over, warming the air above the bluff so one arrived, although the sun tucked under a dark bank of grey clouds, we were not freezing and were able to run and play with some abandon. Lake had me running and romping with him like I hadn’t done since late summer!
These last days are perfect days, like pearls on a strand of unknown length. I’m so glad I’m spending them with you. Sweet sweet zwischenzeit…