Thursday, November 29, 2007

Esme's Day Out

I took Esme to town with me in the truck for the first time. No major events, just bank, gas, co-op and grocery store, but I'm proud of myself. Esme hardly made a peep anywhere, but was awake and playing with her hands at all the stops. Nice test run - I can do this as long as I take everything slow and easy.

Mark's friend 'Meow' from Canada sent a wonderful package for Esme that arrived yesterday :) She sent some onesies, receiving blankets (which are already in use), a 3 piece 'Mommasaurus' set ;) a little lamb toy and some instructions on how to baby massage especially for babies with upset tummies. Thank you Meow :)


Kitten onesies ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Elizabeth has arrived

My brother and SIL have their baby girl today. The doctors took her by cesaerean section sometime early this morning at the Duluth hospital. She weighed only 3 lbs, so I am guessing she was very early (my mom _still_ didn't know how far along they were... *sigh*) The good news is she was breathing on her own. She will still stay in the NNICU at the hospital for some time. Mom is doing okay, but not feeling the best, of course after all of this emergency.

My brother told my mom he would pick up the boys to go see mom and baby at the hospital this weekend.

We wish continued good luck for all of them :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Elizabeth (continued)

Got word today they'll be delivering my brother and SIL's baby girl sometime tomorrow - and she'll have to stay in an incubator until January, at least. My mom doesn't have too much info on it - but so far they've not gotten any 'bad' news. Their youngest boy Benji is 8, and he was worried mom and baby were never coming home - poor little guy they had the hardest time getting him to go to school today... but they were able to calm him down. He really can't wait to have a little sister.

My brother and his wife lost a little girl just a year before they had Benji, so I'm thinking all good thoughts for them - hope this all goes smoothly and the incubator is just routine and not serious. Thanks to all of you for your good wishes too!

It will also be very cool (agreed!) for Esme to have a cousin so close in age she could visit one day. My sister had a boy a year before Benji was born that now lives with his father in Oklahoma, but Benji and his cousin did get to meet once and had a good time together.

Developments around Here

I took Esme up to her grandparent's in the truck today. It was my first time driving with her in the car seat. I can lift her no problem in the car seat now, which was still a little difficult on the 13th of this month. She weighed in at 9 lbs, 3 oz. yesterday :)

Esme at 3 weeks

Monday, November 26, 2007

My niece Elizabeth

My sister-in-law's water broke this morning. They took her to the hospital in Duluth, MN to be under observation, hoping they can keep the baby inside her for a little longer. My mom did say when Elizabeth is born they will have her in an incubator, so I guess my sister-in-law is less than 36 weeks? My mom couldn't remember what their due-date was, just 'December.'

My brother is taking off several days from work and going to stay with her in the hospital, while my mom keeps their two boys at her house. I'll call my mom again tomorrow and see if she has any updates.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Getting Ready for Mark's trip and backstory on the move

Mark has been getting things ready for his trip - and we're getting to where he will probably take off sometime this next week. He now has a mobile internet connection, as well as new tires on the vehicle, updated driver's license (his birthday is in the first week of December) and will be looking into getting his glasses updated before he travels as well.

The mobile internet connection was quite a big deal. That should let us do our Ebay auctions from anywhere in the country.

That leads into this:

For several months, (nearly a year by some measures) we have been telling Mark's father he does need to get a new tech to manage the network system for his company. Up until recently, we also ran our Ebay pictures and some email off that same system. That system has been breaking, systematically, over the past several years. Usually Mark creatively 'tapes' the sytem back together or buys parts out of his own pocket to fix it if he can't get money for parts from the company.

Our computer network is a complicated beast - it has lots of different parts that all run together to make the whole. A few months ago a major hardware part of the system broke, and right on the tail of that, another machine began to fail as well. They didn't affect immediate productivity (everyone still had email, internet, and most of their files), but they have affected things more and more as time goes on. We can't fix them, without a lot of scrambling and restructuring. We just don't have the time or energy to do it anymore.

Mark's father has looked some for that new techie, but hasn't found anyone yet who can and will take on the job. Two weeks ago Mark stopped monitoring the things that are breaking. He had been watching system messages since September 1997. He can translate the messages from the system (attempts to connect, files not found, errors, memory allocations) into potential risks and alerts... This is no small task - as it requires constant diligence. He said it is terribly depressing to know what was breaking when he couldn't fix it. He will also be gone for several weeks and not here to fix it even if he wanted to. He shut down the messaging terminal with all that in mind. So, we are no longer fixing things OR monitoring the broken pieces.

Mark's father called last night with another problem on the system and we really couldn't tell him anything. I felt bad, but he really needs a new tech to be able to call. Mark is going to be gone for several weeks - and I wouldn't know how to fix problems that deep in the system anyway -- I'm a software and internet geek, not a hardware geek. This system needs both. Most of this equipment is over 10 years old and running custom code and open source software. Some of it uses more electricity and puts out more heat than you could imagine. But, for the most part it works - and like a car held together with Bondo - it has done what it needs to do long enough to get us here.

*sigh* but basically, this is the time we ALL (us and them) have to learn how new systems work, and how to get the same jobs done with whatever is out 'on the market' nowadays.

We're doing that with our cellular modem and laptop. Mark's father will have to do that with whatever new tech he finds. Hopefully, this won't affect our family relations. If we continue to try to scrabble up fixes for the dying network with as little resource and time for other things -- that will surely break us down. And it won't help them in the long run either - as eventually we won't be here to call up and ask for repairs.

If we don't stop doing things around here sometime, when will it ever become someone else's job? That sounds harsh... but there isn't any nicer way to say it.

For years Mark lived what he describes as a 'monkish' existence. He thought he was building equity in a family business that had an honorable and attainable goal. He was helping provide technology services (internet publishing, email etc) to people in the property rights movement, to help them get their message out to the public. This was back in the very early 90s, when lots of people still didn't know about the Internet or how big it would become. Their family's website and magazine gave a voice and a forum to people who wouldn't have had it otherwise. He worked 24/7 on maintaining and monitoring the website and office network. It was a job that required constant upkeep and quick response time, and he gave it his all for ten years.

Up until a year or so ago, he didn't even take salary above his household bills, assuming he was paying into the mortgage on the property he lived on in lieu of other compensation. That made for some interesting and frustrating financial problems for him, then and now.

Now, he is disillusioned about the equity and partnership he was originally told he was participating in. He can't get a straight answer about things that were once said, and doesn't want to wait any longer for others to decide what they want to agree was the actual case. He is also upset that his father always wanted him to make his projects happen smoothly, but Mark's ideas and projects never got support. Or, even worse, the support was pulled from them after Mark had done a large amount of the work. It made him bitter and frustrated. This house we currently live in is one of those projects, although the building itself was successful. Mark built it on his own design, as the place he would live and work. He also put his own handwork into its construction. Now, he is told it isn't 'actually' his. He cannot get a deed to it because it 'belongs to the company', and was paid for partially by a grant given to the company.

It has come down to the point Mark just wants something he knows is his, that he can put his hard work, heart and soul into and know that someone else can't take it away arbitrarily. He has 'burned out' on this dream, and I want to help him in finding one we can both share. With Esme, we feel we have to take that action now, and start building a solid future.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving holiday :) Mark and I have a lot to be thankful for this past year! This past year has brought a lot of changes for both of us, and almost all of them for the better. We are with each other, happy in love with a beautiful new daughter :) We stayed at home, just the three of us, and Mark made a wonderful dinner of steak, potatoes, rolls and corn. We added a can of cranberry sauce just to be more in the traditional holiday spirit ;)

Wishing you all the best as well!

PDF pattern for Horse or Zebra softie now available

PDF pattern for Horse or Zebra softie (soft stuffed toy) is now available at KnitOwl toys with electronic delivery. Great for making Christmas gifts for your friends and family :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Failed Zoetrope and other recent things...

Esme's hair is getting quite long!
The color (right now) is darker than mine, but lighter than Mark's

Our new postal scale arrived in the mail, and the first thing we weighed on it was Esme. She now weighs 8 lbs, 15 oz, which is quite a bit more than last week!

We brought her up to see Mark's parents on Sunday and she slept almost the entire way through the visit. Mark's mom showed me some of his baby pictures. We were surprised how much Esme looks like her daddy did when he was that age ;) (which is quite a bit different than he looks now *grin*)

freehand paper cutouts taped onto the lampshade draw baby's eyes with high contrast

Esme likes to stare at the lights in the house, and at reflections of light on mirrors, chrome etc...

A failed 'zoetrope' attempt

I cut out a circle, added a strip around the edge to make a cylinder, and cut strips in it at equal intervals. However, when I tried to place images in the places between the cutouts, it didn't really work like I thought it would :( Something larger, and much more exact measurements will be needed... or ricepaper that the light can shine through from the inside (like the lampshade above).

Mark is going to the DMV and getting the vehicle ready for his trip out to Utah and other places West. He thinks he might leave next week if he can get everything ready. I have to go to the DMV as well *yuck* next week, as I still haven't gotten there to change my name on my driver's license. Time is really passing by quickly here!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Living the Minutes and Not the Hours

I told Mark a few days ago I can't believe Esme will be two weeks old soon. I said: 'Ever since those first contractions started, I feel like I've been living the minutes and not the hours.' He agreed we both are. The actual time we record in our minds has slown down immensely, yet the days somehow keep passing by almost unnoticed.

And it's not just this beautiful baby that is making us pay attention to every little thing while the hours somehow slip away in the process... although she is the majority of it ;) We have a task list a mile long, and only so much time to do it in.

We're transferring our store over to a new computer system, which means a lot of juggling in the next week or so. I have to learn the new system before Mark travels. I'm still not too good with the car, but I did drive the truck (also a stick shift) to the store yesterday with little problem.

We're working at being independent at a time (new baby) when most people we've known were leaning on others around them for much more than ever. But, we know we have to do this, because we want something that is ours, totally, that we know we can continue doing together on our own ambitions, with less chance that it could be pulled out from under us unexpectedly.

So far, we're doing quite well, but we're feeling the crunch coming up. We're stepping up our already busy days to get ready for the move. I'm almost ready to do that, but not quite yet. I'm sleeping better at night and Esme is on a much more regular, almost predictable schedule.

Milestone: Esme's umbilical cord stump fell off last night. She was having a 'digestion fit' at the time, when her belly hurts her and she has to fuss until something settles. I told her: 'Hey little one, be good to your new belly button, you only get one!'

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Working on a Plan...

Mark is working on a plan to go scout out several places we might move to. That won't be for a few weeks yet, but until then I have to get refamiliarized with driving the car and doing things for our shop.

I have to learn to drive the stick shift without jerking it - and without getting stranded on hills etc... before I can go out with Esme in her car seat. I drove to the post office yesterday by myself. I have trouble with the stick shift in general, and this car has a starting problem as well. It gave me trouble three times just on the way back from the post office, but I was able to get it acting right again.

I was going to go do some shopping today, but decided it could wait for another day. I don't want to leave my baby to go buy things that aren't immediately needed -- it feels silly, and she is perfectly safe and happy here with Daddy but I definitely had trouble letting go enough to make the trip.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Update from the Homefront

Me and ' Bazooka' (Esme) sitting in the workshop

Esme had her first week doctor appointment today, and she actually gained weight! Some babies lose weight the first week, but she has gained 3 oz. since her birthday (8 lb, 3 oz.). The doctor did her checkup and said she looks very healthy. She didn't even sqwuak much except when the doctor turned her over in midair (holding his hand under her tummy) to check her back.

The little white bump near Esme's left eye is called 'milia', and should go away by itself. It was there when she was born and we had both wondered what it was when it didn't brush off.

The doctor also said we're clear to do our move with Esme. My physical antibodies should protect her until she is about three months old. As long as we make sure she sees a doctor for her two-month immunizations, and I get my 6 week postaprtum checkup, we should be okay. We don't have to get those here, but we do have to make sure they don't get forgotten in all the shuffle.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank You Lynn!

Lynn from Canada sent a wonderful package that was waiting for us when we got home from the hospital. What good timing! However, it took me a while to get it opened, and I apologize, a bit longer to get pictures taken!

Pretty pairs of shoes to grow into, receiving blankets and 'The World's Smallest Diaper Bag.'

The diaper bag is really neat - Lynn took a lunchbox (with little lunchbox containers in it) and really packed the compartments full of useful and handy-to-reach things! There was a nice small 'Nuby' bottle, but it's already in the dishwasher.

Sleepers and a handknit baby sweater and booties!

Lynn also sent a lot of clothes that Esme can grow into, and a few things that fit her now (such as the cute yellow sleeper in Wednesday's post. The handknit sweater and booties are so cute - and they have little 'lamb' buttons on them ;) It was such a surprise! She must have dropped a couple of hints on her blog including one 'Which November baby is this for?' but I didn't think it could be Esme! What pretty wonderful work Lynn! The yarn is also very soft and 'cushy' :)

She also sent a few snowsuits, which I haven't seen for sale yet here at this 'warm' time of the year. They'll work great for when we do visit my parents in Minnesota sometime next year when Esme is bigger. There was a very nice gift for Mark as well! :)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Esme's birth

Daddy and Esme nap together

Labor Stats: About 33 hours. Labor started at 12:30 am on November 3rd, and was continuous until her birth at 9:37 am on November 4th.

Pain management: I listened to Esme's heartbeat on the monitor, when it was on, to help ride contractions. I also used repetitious movements of my hands and feet, humming and, in the last hour, growling (yes, growling... it surprised me too) to manage the pain of the contractions. They gave me one shot in the middle of the night so I could sleep for an hour and a half as I had been awake for 24 hrs+ at that point.

So, How was Childbirth? : My best friend from high school called me the other night and asked this question. What am I supposed to say to that? The first words that came to mind was 'I loved it. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.' It was a transition - and it meant keeping Esme safe and bringing her into the world. I didn't enjoy the pain, but it was purposeful and every step was something unknown to be passed through on the way to our little girl's birth. I think I disappointed my friend -- she expected me to complain to her maybe? I can't - things went beautifully well - unexpectedly well, and I am grateful for that for both of our sakes (Esme and I).

My first words as Esme came out (delivery): 'That was SO cool!...' I felt like a surfer dude saying that, but really, it was an amazingly strange feeling. The pressure was instantly gone, and I felt Esme unfold all her limbs on the way out with lots of liquid all around her. It was like a squid came out of me! All of my fears of not knowing what my baby would look like subsided immediately - she couldn't look like anything but what she is, which is perfect.

My first interaction with Esme: They laid her on my chest after Mark cut the cord. She was screaming her head off because they had just cleaned her up at the delivery station. I started singing her song to her as I looked at her and tapped the rhythym out on her back. She quieted immediately and started staring at me with this 'Wow' look.

Post-delivery: I was up 65 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight when we left for the hospital. The day we got home I had already lost 18 lbs (baby, fluid, placenta etc.), and today I've reached nearly 30 lbs. lost! That is kind of crazy, as the doctor only wanted me to gain 30 lbs. maximum during the entire pregnancy. I'm so super-hungry and thirsty these past few days I don't think I would have survived without this extra weight on me ;)

I had a super-woman high (human biology, ain't it neat?) for several days after we arrived home but it has begun to diminish and I'm having to make sure I don't overwork myself because Esme can feel that. She didn't let me sleep at all last night fussing every time I put her down and wanting to eat every few hours. That made ME want to cry this morning because I was overtired. She did sleep this afternoon for quite a while though, and Mark and I took that nap with her which helped both of us ;)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Esme watches the bunnies dance

We've been watching Esme gaze at the sunbeams in her bassinet
When I put this bunny fabric up she gets really happy and starts to reach out to grab it - then she shrieks in delight because she gets hold of it or cries in frustration when it slips back out of her grip.

And this is at six days old. Amazing.

Family Protectors/Protections (artwork)

drawn at 2 am Saturday, November 10th, 2007
'Family Protectors/Protections' original artwork by Marie Lamb

Note: deer mask on figure, deer is the protector of family and family relations

Friday, November 09, 2007

Childbirth (artwork)

This drawing was actually done on the night of November 2nd. I had been in 'pre-labor' since Halloween night, with the contractions coming and going. This was done between the last spell of pre-labor and (what was to be) the real labor that started in just after midnight (morning of November 3rd). So, just to make it clear, this drawing was made before Esme was born, while she was still inside me.

Original drawing 'Childbirth' by Marie Lamb

Since I know these drawings are VERY hard to tell anything apart in - I've included an 'emphasized' version with some digital color added. Although, it might not help much. The area I made in lightest blue surprised me (happily, to tears) that night, too - as it looks like a baby head-down in the womb of the woman (darker blue).

digitally enhanced to show some of the figures

The bird to the right was a 'hummingbird' like creature and the bird to the left is like a mask or costume, giving some aspects of the bird to the lady inside. There is also a fish to the left of the 'baby' figure, which is symbolic to me because I often described Esme's movements in me like a fish flopping, and in some cultures I studied in my anthropology courses fish (and rabbits, btw) are symbols of fertility and children.

Again, these are my drawings that begin with an uncontrolled set of random lines, drawn to a rhythym (my grandmother's song, now Esme's lullaby) on the paper and then slowly filled in over the course of a few hours until every line is used.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

24/7 Esme

We interrupt your craft blog with a baby post:
She is keeping me really busy, but she is also so sweet and alert. Well, I caught her sleeping here ;) I'm pretty sure I couldn't ask for a better baby :) I'll have details on the birth at some other time, but that was also amazing and went 'surprisingly' well by the comments of the nurses, doctor and midwife at the birth center/hospital.

3 days old

As you can guess, we've been '24/7 Esme' since she was born, and that is a wonderful thing. I'm getting used to taking care of a baby, which I was pretty worried about. The last baby I 'took care of' was my sister's when I was eleven years old. She was eighteen, and upset/anxious about everything. She got angry really easily with everyone, even angry at the baby - so it wasn't a good experience. But Esme is ours, and that makes a world of difference.

Sleep? It is really difficult to sleep now that Esme is born. And I don't mean she is waking me up crying... sometimes she barely has time to make a noise before I'm there. Mark is helping a LOT. I admit I'm kind of 'hogging' her, though - my instincts are to always have her in sight, keep her safe and keep on the alert to take care of her next need. I keep jerking awake when I try to nap, even when she is settled. I'm surprisingly alert most of the day (and night) for a total of about three or four hours of 'jerky' sleep. All that with no caffeine involved -- which is hard for even me to believe. Mark has made sure I can get a few hours here and there to _try_ to sleep, which really does help.

I'm up and around the house, taking care of her and myself, keeping up dishes and laundry when she takes short naps - but everything else was at a standstill and might (might) pick up a little more in the next few days, but maybe not for a while. Now that I have more milk to give her she is sleeping longer at a whack - which helps on all fronts.

Jeanne's zebras were finished last Friday before Esme was born, but I have yet to take good pictures or do anything else with them. Lynn's package arrived from Canada, (THANK YOU!) and I did get to open it last night. More on that later as well. I've been asking questions on a midwifery bulletin board since we found out we were pregnant, and have been tapping away at our birth story for the ladies there but haven't gotten a good draft yet. This post itself took me all day to write in tiny pieces :}

Breastfeeding for the First Time

We are breastfeeding, and that was quite a bit of anxiety for me but today especially things worked out much better. I learned a few things between yesterday morning and today that I'll list here just because they really helped.

  • Continue drinking two teacups of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea a day to help bring in milk.
  • Drink LOTS of water - if you're dehydrated there won't be any/enough to give baby.
  • A very warm (not hot) washcloth before feeding for the first few days. Place it between the collarbone and the breast you'll feed from next.
  • Feed as often as she makes the 'rooting instinct', don't wait for a certain time interval to pass. (Baby gets confused, you lose precious practice time)
  • Aiming to make sure she has her tongue DOWN and not curled or raised up.

    Specific to my experience:
  • If I swing her back and forth in my arms she throws her arms onto her tummy - which gets them out of the way. She has LONG strong arms!
  • I can rub a finger behind her ear (not just on her cheek) to get her to turn that way.

Excellent breastfeeding articles:

As new parents we had a few questions we went to look up:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Introducing Bazooka, our work of art

Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 9:37 am
8 lbs even, 19.5 inches

This is our Esme, (Esmerelda Mona Lisa), our work of art and love.

Everything started really rolling along at 12:30 am Saturday morning. At 3 pm, we headed to the hospital. She came on her due date at 40 weeks even, surprising everyone, including me.

Daddy was there in the room with us and is just so sweet and wonderful to both of us. Watching him hold Esme and interact with her is pure joy and amazement that I am here with both of them at this time and place

Saturday, November 03, 2007

She Might make her due date after all

Lots of steady contractions today, plus other signs that this could be happening today or tomorrow. We'll see if she makes the 5-1-1 rule today. (5 minutes apart, lasting one minute each, for at least an hour)

Friday, November 02, 2007

No Big News Yet

Still in 'pre-labor' and resting up. Baby Bazooka is moving a lot, and we're just waiting for things to get close enough together to go to the hospital. Hope to have good news for you sometime over the weekend, otherwise ultrasound on Monday.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bazooka Sends out a Convincing False Alarm

Last night was quite interesting, although not enough to go to the hospital yet. My Braxton Hicks felt, for the first time, like real contractions hard and painful across my stomach and abdomen. And they repeated, first at 50 minutes apart, then closer and closer until they were about 10 minutes apart. They came when I was walking around, when I was distracted by something else etc... so they had me thinking maybe she was coming! We were keeping the time on a computer screen Mark has that records a time when you hit 'return.'

By the time they were ten minutes apart I had that little card ready to call the hospital. But, I was really tired, and they weren't increasing in strength, just frequency. Even the hardest one didn't make me hold my breath through it. So I laid down to see if I could sleep at all - and after about a half-hour they stopped coming and I slept through the night.

So, very convincing little girl -- but you'll have to do better to get this mom to take you to see the birthing center again ;)

On a side note - she was active throughout those feelings and I've felt her move around since I've been up this morning, which makes me feel really relieved and certain it was just a false alarm.