made: clara’s bonnet

Poof! It’s summer. Clara has no hair and thus required some sort of adorable headgear, and lo! the Purl Bee posted this pattern! I made it at once. (It reminded me how challenging and/or frustrating it is to sew with a little baby around. But I still finished it!)

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I sparkly heart love it.

pictured: this just happened

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I grabbed the camera just as she managed it – Miss Clara Bear rolled over for the very first time, with a whole team of cheerleaders to encourage her! Yay Clara!

pictured: snuggles

It’s Saturday. My to-do list is long. But there wasn’t much sleeping last night, and now there is this.

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So I’ll just stay here for now.

clara’s birth story

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Somewhere in the 38-39 week range of my pregnancy, the occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions that I’d been having turned into occasional patterns of contractions that would hang around for a while and then disappear again. I was a few centimetres dilated and her head was within reach, so I hoped very much that things would happen sooner rather than later, especially because I wanted Clara to avoid a back-to-back birthday with Christmas. But alas, my due date came and went while I tried to ignore the stupid contractions that got my hopes up at least twice a day. I went to Lucy’s Christmas party, Sam and I went on a few dates, most notably to see The Hobbit and to a Christmas concert where Sam’s arrangement of the 12 Days of Christmas was performed, and I cried big hormonal tears of frustration several times. It was cold, I was uncomfortable, and I was DONE.

On the 20th, I paged my midwife and talked to her about how very frustrated I was. She said I could come in to the birth centre for a stretch and sweep (so fun! or not) and we could try a breast pump for a while to see if anything changed. I was so frustrated with everything that I agreed, and we went down. All my memories of Rowan’s birth are overwhelming, for which I blame the pumping that I did, and the pumping happened because I was paranoid about having another induction like I did with Lucy. So deciding to do it again was scary. We spent a few hours there pumping and pacing, but by supper time nothing had changed so we called it quits. I cried (again). I was discouraged and uncomfortable and fed up but there was nothing I could do about it. Even so, I was glad that it hadn’t started something as intense as Rowan’s birth. We went home and watched The Avengers and went to bed.

On Saturday, I woke up at 4am with contractions. This was in no way exciting, since it wasn’t the first time they’d woken me up. I couldn’t go back to sleep. We’d sent Lucy and Rowan off to the farm before we’d tried the pumping on Friday, so we went out for breakfast and then went to Ikea to walk around, since it was still too cold to walk outside for long. The contractions weren’t going away, but they still weren’t that strong. We went to see Thor 2 in the afternoon (the parking lot was madness, but the theatre was pretty empty, since it was the Saturday before Christmas) and by the time it was over, I was pretty sure things were actually moving forward. I wasn’t particularly hungry for my supper, and at 10 we went to bed.

It was a futile attempt. After an hour of drifting off and being jolted awake by contractions that actually hurt, I woke up Sam, texted my doula, and called my midwife. She told us to come right down to the birth centre, so we did. Of course, going right down took over an hour because I kept having to hang onto Sam through contractions. Unlike the last two births, this time I really needed physical contact during my contractions. The only thing that felt okay was to hug Sam and sway back and forth (that’s a classic – we doulas call it the birth dance).

When we got there, I was seven centimetres. Hooray! We got into our birth room and starting filling the tub. The contractions were awfully strong, but we were chatting and laughing in between them, so that the backup midwife was asking if I was really in active labour. Getting in the tub was nice, but I found it really hard to find a good labouring position that didn’t put my ankles to sleep, or hurt my knees, or be completely unbearable in some way. I stayed in there for an hour and a half or so, then got out for a break. That sucked. Being in water usually dulls the contractions a bit (sometimes slowing or even stopping them), and getting out was terrible. I was in transition at this point too, but it didn’t completely overwhelm me like it did with Rowan. I knew what was happening when I started crying at the end of every contraction and grunting a little bit. I tried a few positions but mostly just wanted to get back in the tub, so I did. One of the most awkward things in the world is a pregnant and labouring woman trying to get in or out of a birthing tub.

Once I was back in, I had a tough time figuring out how to push properly. It was probably 3:30am or so and I’d been awake for nearly twenty-four hours, and my body was trying to curl up and go to sleep. But the contractions were really intense, and so painful that I couldn’t coordinate any sort of proper effort. Even though everyone was telling me what a great job I was doing, I knew that I had to do better if I was going to actually give birth. Sam suggested I try nitrous oxide, so I did. That stuff is wackadoo, just so you know. It tasted gross and really dried out my mouth, but once I got it in my system it did the trick. I found it really complicated to get the “sweet spot” of pain relief but not completely loopy because my labour breathing was so deep, but it didn’t take too long (or so it seemed to me – maybe it was a while) before I could feel what my body was trying to do with each contraction. It was still really painful. I decided that I just had to get it over with, so I pushed like crazy and got her head out. Then it took me a while (probably not long at all, but it felt like a long time) to work up the courage to do it one more time to finish it off. I categorically did not want to push anymore, but again I had to make a serious decision to give it one more go. While I was pushing with all the energy I had left, I knew that if it wasn’t enough I’d have to try again, and I wasn’t going to be able to try again, so I had to finish it. And I did.

I picked her up from the bottom of the tub and she expressed her displeasure at being ejected from her cozy womb, but calmed down a bit with a nice yet awkward snuggle, because her umbilical cord was really quite short. Sam cut the cord once it stopped pulsing and we got out of the tub. Women usually shake like crazy after giving birth, but I felt like I was being electrocuted. Between the effort, my exhaustion, and the cold of getting out of the water, I was vibrating from head to toe. The best thing in the whole entire world was the warmed blankets they wrapped me in. Clara and I snuggled on the bed for a while, and then she went to Sam so I could use the gas again while I got my stitches (just one this time). She was completely starving and told us about it at top volume, so once that was finished I fed her and she ate like she was born to breastfeed. I love that my babies are born with big mouths and big appetites and a strong sucking reflex – she was a total pro, like her siblings. I was still shaky and so tired, but pretty darn thrilled too.

We were home again by 8am and went straight to bed. Lucy and Rowan came in with Sam’s parents to meet her that evening. And that is the story of how we became a family of five.

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Clara Beatrice Sawatzky
8 pounds 12 ounces
21 inches
4:39am December 22, 2013
Merry Christmas to us!