The rest

Christian’s birth-day story while it is still fresh in my head:
I wasn’t in the room for the birth, or anytime after Jeannie went into transition. For one, there wasn’t much for me to do since we hadn’t discussed what I should or shouldn’t do while she was in labor, and I found myself just sitting there staring at her while she worked her way through one contraction and went into another with little or no time to recover from the previous one. I remember laying on the bed next to her and thinking, “If Christyne were in labor right now, I’d know what to say to her…” And then thinking that Jeannie must wish her sister was with her, since she was next to her for her birth last year.
Jeannie had also said that she wanted as few people as possible in the room during delivery. While this may have been aimed at the possibility of having the baby when there were more people in the house, awake, we didn’t have time to talk about that. So in an effort to stick with the birth plan, I vacated the room permanently after the midwives arrived. I went downstairs and tried to make sense of Grey’s Anatomy, then texted Asia a few times, and soon drifted off into a deep sleep. I awoke to Chad saying, “Do you want to see him?” And I said, “What, the baby was born?” And he said, “yeah, he’s born!” or some sentence with the word “him” in it. And I took off upstairs ahead of him saying, “I always knew it was a boy!!”
Little newborn Christian was laying on the bed, on his side in front of Jeannie, who was sitting up. He had a recieving blanket folded over him like a taco. He kept twitching his fingers and looking around at what must have been a very blurry mom, dad and aunt. There was actually a very long time between things, and I think his umbilical cord was cut over an hour after he was born. I was very reluctant to take pictures because he was blinking at the flash, and I tried to take some photos without the flash. I finally took a few while he was in Jeannie’s arms and trying to nurse for the first time. He did some blinking and kept opening one eye at a time. He seemed to want to use those eyes. It’s amazing that after all that pain and blood and mess, there’s this tiny little person, with all the little parts right where they’re supposed to be. Chad asked me to call mom, and I clarified (“are you sure???”) because I SO hate waking people up. My intention had been to text her so she’d see it when she awoke on her own. Chad assured me that he wanted me to call mom, so I did. And then they wanted me to wake Bella up. I tried twice, but she wasn’t waking up. The midwife persuaded me to at least lean over her and say, “Do you want to come see the baby?” So I did that, but with no results. I just had this awkward one sided conversation with her sleeping body, violating the sanctity of sleep. All of this was a bit if deja vu, because when Asia was born, Chad was asleep in the next room and Dad tried to wake him up to see if he wanted to meet his new sister, and Dad too, was rejected.
Time seemed to go by very fast though, because every time we made a note of the time, it felt like only a few minutes had passed, and really more like 20 min had passed. We had to start focusing on getting the placenta out, and it wasn’t coming. Somewhere in all of this, I got to hold Christian for a big chunk of time, and I was startled at how light he was. He weighed over 7 pounds, but it felt like a piece of paper.
At about two hours after delivery, the placenta still wasn’t coming, so we had to call an ambulance and have them come and take her to the hospital. Ian came out of his bedroom to find seven EMT’s in the hallway and bedroom, and I called to him from where I was standing by the bed, “Everything’s okay!” And I went over and explained to him more details than he might have wanted about what was going on. Then I went in and woke up Bella, who was probably already awake by then because of all the noise, and explained to her what was going on so that she didn’t wake up to any confusion when she got up to go to school.
It took us about 20 minutes to get the car seat in the back of my car so that I could transport Chad and Christian to the hospital. Jeannie was taken down the stairs in some kind of upright stretcher-chair, and when she arrived bump-bump-bump at the bottom of the stairs, I was very much expecting to see a disappointed or distressed face, but she was taking the whole thing very calmly and smiled at us. I was very, very surprised that she was casual and good natured about having to leave in an ambulance. We were all kinda looking to her to see how we should feel about this sudden turn of events, but she was taking it as though it was all part of the process.
I’ve spent a lot of time awake in South Orange County at 4 in the morning, but Denny’s is usually involved. This time I was driving up Moulton towards Mission Hospital, with my brother and brand new nephew bundled up in the back in an infant seat. Chad rode in the back with him. All of the lights everywhere seemed to glow extra bright, and it felt like Christmas would feel if there was going to be only one Christmas in our lifetime. Christian was so very fresh out of the womb, and was now having to go for a ride. He was very calm. It was so surreal watching my brother walk into the hospital with his new son, so tiny that he didn’t really need two hands to carry him. He was carrying him more with one arm and the other hand.
Anyway, that’s the night that Christian was born, from my P.O.V. The real story is over here. She lost a lot of blood and is recuperating.
Oh, and if you ever find that you have a placenta in your fridge or a family member’s fridge in a large freezer bag, tell yourself that it’s somebody’s frozen strawberries and ignore it. Unless you’re like me and have a strong stomach for that sort of thing, then just stare at it all you like.


Something I ate?

Last night as I was sleeping in my apartment I woke up to gentle and inconsistent shaking of my bed. I don’t even know if it would have woken me up; I may have already been awake. As my shoulders ever so slightly continued being jarred, I started wondering if we were having an earthquake, and as it continued, I felt even more sure that the earth was, in fact, shaking. The big one, that we’ve all been hearing about for years and grows even more imminent every year, is finally upon us and we’re getting hit right as the economy is plummeting. My apartment building will be rendered uninhabitable along with many homes in the southland, and the main routes to work will take forever just like after the Northridge quake, and even if I could get to work, the further crippling of the economy will send the company I work for into a nosedive. We will all have to rethink the meaning of “status quo” and living off the land without dependence on gasoline will be far more appealing and necessary than ever before. I will move out to my parents’ property, and we will all pour our energy into gardening and trying to avoid the Mad Max world out there, and hopefully, the rest of the siblings will join us so we can all be together.
Then I realized the cat was just bathing itself rather energetically on my bed and that was what was making it shake.


Having a new baby in the family makes you remember how fast they grow up and how just as you’re getting used to a new phase, it’s on to the next one. Like that phase where my nephew was still wrinkly from being wet for 9 months and looked like he was wearing plastic gloves. That phase is just a memory now. He’s a big boy and latches on now, and pretty soon he will cry when he makes the cry face, instead of giving it five good silent tries before noise comes out.


My nephew Christian Holden was born at 1:22 a.m., weighing 7 lbs, 2 oz. Chad and Jeannie are doing fine, and baby Christian is a very quiet baby. He just wants to look around and suck on his fingers and marvel at having lips. He has my crooked pinkies (and my mom’s and Asia’s). He looks a lot like his sister Bella and his cousin Nabi Grace. He has black hair and it looks like it’ll be curly. He’s learning to latch on right now, and doing pretty good at it, considering how alien everything in the world is to him. Every now and then he looks like he’s going to cry and then forgets what he was doing, and goes back to looking around. He’s had one diaper change, and Chad did a great job. We very gently got him into a tiny tiny onesie, and he’s swimming in it. He only weighs as much as air. My arm can’t even get tired. He’s very snuggly and slept for a long time with mommy and daddy in their bed. Gizelle curled up downstairs with me, but snuck off upstairs as soon as I fell asleep.
We just want to stare at him and watch him squish up his little chin.

9:30 pm

The midwife and her apprentice are on their way. Ian and Bella just finished watching “Cloverfield”. Contractions are still 4 to 18 min apart, but appear to be pretty grueling. In between contractions, I told Jeannie that this was the third time she’s changed since I got here, and she didn’t think that was the case until we went down the list of clothes.
She is being very brave and quiet with her contractions, and doesn’t even appear to be in a lot of stress other than needing to be quiet and focus for the duration of them. Chad has music playing, and it’s dark in the birthing room, with just a candle burning right now.
I have had quite a spastic amount of energy and just finished scrubbing the stovetop with Ajax, having had no desire to either eat or sit down.
I guess when we all get up tomorrow, there will be another member of the family here, whose birthday is either on May 22nd, or May 23rd, and hopefully Jeannie, Chad and baby will be resting peacefully.

Don’t worry, I won’t get graphic

This is very exciting! According to the Bradley Method, Jeannie seems to be in between the “early first stage” and “middle first stage” of labor, or, the first two stages out of five stages of labor. She is currently in between contractions, and is laying on her back and resting. She really only looks about 5 months pregnant, to me. I would have thought that at this point her belly would look maxed out. Her contractions are about 4 to 7 minutes apart, are about 1 min long, and getting more painful than before. She’s got a furrowed look on her eyebrows but still looks peaceful while she’s taking the opportunity to rest.
I haven’t been there for a birth since my sister Asia was born when I was a kid, and I thought I’d have a lot of flashbacks, but because of the very relaxed atmosphere and the casualness of it all, I am reminded more of the birth of puppies. Everybody is going about their business, and I’m contemplating watching a movie. Gizelle wants to snuggle with Jeannie and was being very polite about it, but I took her out of the room anyway. She can snuggle with the rest of us, and Jeannie can focus on her body.


I’m at Jeannie and Chad’s house right now, and Jeannie’s in labor. She’s having the baby at home, so we’re in for a possibly long memorial day weekend. The contractions seem to be between 15 and 25 minutes apart, but seem to be fairly mild. We’re just relaxing, talking and eating. Gizelle, the chihuahua, is nesting permanently inside my shirt, with her head sticking out. I’ve been skimming through a book about childbirth that her friend sent her, and just read the section called, “laborland”. I thought it was about the birthing environment, but it is about the mental state that the mother goes into during labor to relax into the contractions.