Our First Week(ish) As Three

We were home from the birth center by 10:00 the evening of our little Oakleigh’s birth, and faced the reality of settling in as a family of three. Since she arrived 12 days early, the house and closet nursery in our room was not really in the status where we anticipated it being when she came home, but oh well…it would just have to work!

Her space was clean and tidy, with a bassinet, changing table, set up ready to go…but we also had piles of laundry to fold, random packages and packaging stuffed into corners, the shower needed to be scrubbed…and that was just our room! Upstairs the kitchen was in full on demo mid-remodel, with no sink or stove. And piles of dirty dishes that we had not yet gotten to (easy to procrastinate on those when the bathtub is how you are washing them…ugh!). But that was home and we were in it as a family of three.

The first night we had the go ahead from our midwife to just let her sleep till she woke up hungry. Thank goodness, because I was totally exhausted. Having only slept for maybe 45 minutes the night prior to her birth I really needed sleep. Matt needed sleep too, but was more alert and kept checking on her throughout the night. Being so new, she was moving a lot of fluid through her system still and he did not want her to choke.

By morning we were slightly more rested and started our first real day of our first week. Waking her up to eat every two hours (midwife’s instructions for the first two weeks), changing diapers, Matt making sure we were fed, and trying to rest as much as possible. Our midwife Shari came by later that afternoon for her first house visit, weighed little Oakleigh (she lost 10oz) and gave us some instructions to get her some sunshine to help with a blush of jaundice. Then we were back on our own.

A rollercoaster of hormones, sleep deprivation, and a learning curve gave us some really high highs and some really low lows, but we slowly figured out a system that worked. We decided that it was pointless for both Matt and I to lose so much sleep, so he would sleep through the night while I tended to Oakleigh. This would give him more energy to take care of us throughout the day while I could rest. By day 5 he was back to the remodel!

By the end of the first week she and I had breastfeeding down. I feel super lucky because I know that is not everyone’s experience. Feeding every two hours during the day (and every three at night) has become our routine…except of course when she decides it is time to cluster feed! A few times there have been 3 hours straight when I am nursing this little piggy! Those get really exhausting.

My dream of being at the lake for the 4th of July, huge belly in a swimsuit, well, that did not happen. Instead we had a picnic dinner in the back yard followed by a night of diapers and boobies…and could not have been more happy.

This little girl is truly an easy baby so far. She sleeps easily and in her bassinet, giving us space to catch up on our sleep. She eats well and has helped my milk come in…and is fattening up and growing! Her sharky jammies are already too small! Pretty sure today is her last day to be in them (12 days old). We also mastered cloth diapers! We went through a package and a half of disposables, and came to the point where we either needed to buy more, or suck it up and try the cloth stash that I had washed and folded a few weeks prior. So we gave it a go and have not looked back!

Daddy loves to sing songs to her, making up lyrics to all sorts of tunes. And a favorite way to calm her down is listing off all the things that she will get to try someday. Flavors of ice cream, fruits, dairy products, Italian dishes…you name it. She is super cuddly and adorable and we are so so in love.

Grandparents have visited, and helped get the house back on track and in order. Dishes are done, the kitchen is making progress, grass is mowed, and we have our new grill finally put together! Friends and family have been delivering us food which is so so appreciated, particularly when we have limited cooking capacity right now!

And now we have made it to her due date! July 11…oh little Oakleigh Elaine, we are so happy that we have had you in our arms these past 12 days already!

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Oakleigh Elaine Frugé: A birth day story

Throughout my pregnancy, our wonderful midwife Shari has been predicting that our little Grain would be right on time: due date, July 11. I was measuring on track, and we had an 8 week ultrasound to get the most accurate date possible. On Wednesday, June 28 I had an 2:30 appointment where everything still showed I was on track. Baby was doing great. I had some Braxton hicks contractions while she measured my belly that I could not even feel. This surprised me, so I asked what I should be paying attention for when it came to real contractions. Good thing I asked, because 90 minutes later, on the ferry towards home, I started feeling those first ones roll through.

I thought, nah, I am going to my due date, these must just be nerves. After all, this was my final day commuting to the office. I planned to work from home until the baby showed up, and take some time to decompress and shift modes to maternity leave.

But the contractions kept coming.

So I downloaded a contraction timing app and started to keep track.

(5-7 minutes apart, ~40 seconds long)

When I got home, I walked into our totally wrecked in-the-middle-of-a-remodel house. No functional kitchen, sawdust and debris everywhere. We were close to putting on countertops the upcoming weekend and progress was looking good, but it was a frustrating day for Matt with some projects going awry.

I got in the bathtub to see if the contractions would stall out. Nope. Then laid on the bed. Nope.

We ate dinner, watched an episode of the Sopranos. Contractions still coming.

(5-7 minutes apart, ~40 seconds long)

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Matt doing some last minute labor coaching reading before we head to bed

Living on an island with no medical facilities presents a limited array of options when it comes to giving birth. Basically homebirth, or get yourself off the island. The idea of a home birth was what resonated most with Matt and I, but the possibility of needing to transfer off the island in an emergency was not a thought I wanted in my head for delivery. Instead, we opted for our little Grain to be delivered at a freestanding birth center in Tacoma, The Birthing Inn. We liked that it was basically a homebirth at a bed and breakfast type atmosphere, 4 minutes from a hospital. I wanted to have a water birth, and they were perfectly set up to accommodate that with huge comfortable tubs.

So now the question was, when do you leave the island? I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, while managing ferry lines and the nighttime gap in service. We called Shari and let her know what was up. Ho boy was she surprised to hear from me the same day as the appointment!

We decided to keep me at home and check in the next morning, unless something drastically changed. She was super flexible throughout the whole process, ready to come to Vashon for labor, or just meet in Tacoma depending on ferries, timing etc.

Matt was exhausted after his trying day, so my #1 priority for him was sleeping. I knew I would need him to be 100% for the real deal of active labor and getting me safely off the island. So we went to bed and I quietly labored in bed as he slept.

(4-6 minutes apart, ~35-45 seconds long)

Contractions were regular but manageable. Eventually I moved from laying down to standing and swaying as each one came.

(3-5 minutes apart, ~45 seconds long)

Finally, around 4 AM I knew it was time to get Matt involved. The contractions were strong enough that I needed to hang on to him. We tried the yoga ball, hated that. I could not sit or lay through these, I needed to hang on to him and sway.

(2-4 minutes apart, ~60-70 seconds long)

We called Shari again. We check the ferry schedules and decided Matt and I should head to Tacoma and check in when we were off the ferry to decide if we should come to her condo or straight or the birth center. So we loaded up the car and started on the 20 minute drive to the south end of Vashon. Contractions in the car were uncomfortable, and I was glad that we were going when we did because I could work through them. They also slowed down. My body knew I was in transit. We stopped at the grocery store for sandwiches, bagels and chocolate milk. Then headed to Shari’s condo.

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Driving to the ferry at the south end of Vashon Island

We were 4th in line for the ferry and loaded easily. Checked in with Shari and decided to head to head to her condo to labor longer. The Birthing Inn was not for until active labor started.

(6-7 minutes apart, ~45 seconds long)

At her condo we took a long walk along the waterfront. Talking and looking at the glass sculptures and pausing for me to hang on Matt and sway through contractions. After an hour of walking I was exhausted and we went back. Ate some sandwiches. Rested. And the contractions were not picking up. They were more intense but still too far apart. Not active labor.

(7-8 minutes apart, ~90 seconds long)

At 12:30, Shari suggested that we check my cervix, and consider a membrane sweep if appropriate. Her approach has been minimal physical checks (which aligns with my approach to childbirth) so when she suggested it I knew it was in my best interest. The check revealed that I was dialated to 2cm…not nearly as far as we had anticipated. However, she also found that my cervix was SUPER soft and elastic…and ready to stretch so she manually moved me to 5cm with her fingers! Baby was in exactly the right place and ready to go when things got moving. She did a membrane sweep (and commented that I must have a high pain tolerance since it did not bother me at all) and let me know that things would likely really start to pick up the pace.

She was right.

Contractions started to get more intense, and Shari had me work through them in positions that encouraged baby to move down and engage. I would lean into each one with on leg bent like a runners stretch. These really made things feel open. And intense. Matt was awesome at talking me through each one. The whole labor, I really could not use the work painful to describe what I was physically feeling. It was more of extreme discomfort, with a purpose. I knew I was working for my baby and he/she was working with me. We had a goal, and to reach it we needed to just keep doing the work. Shari observed that my moans through each one were getting higher in pitch and guided me to lower my tone to a low groan, almost a growl.

(4-6 minutes apart, ~70-90 seconds long)

By 2:30 contractions has picked up pace, and the stretching positions had dramatically increased the pressure I was feeling. Matt and I had been laboring upstairs in her loft by ourselves, and I called down to her that I felt it was time to go to the birth center. We stopped keeping track of contractions, packed up our things, and headed for the parking garage.

I had three intense contractions between leaving her unit and getting in the car. Then three more on the 9 minute drive across town. Contractions in the car took all my mental energy to breathe through because I was on my own, sitting, trying to keep Matt focused on driving. But this labor was MOVING!

When we pulled into the parking space marked for laboring mothers I burst into tears of relief…we had made it. This was the destination. This was where I knew I would be giving birth and my body knew that too. We had the whole place to ourselves, and my favorite birth assistant, Suzie, was on staff that afternoon. I immediately felt comfortable, and they prepped room 1 and turned on the tub while I had another contraction. I had another one moments later as Shari started to take my blood pressure, me leaning against the wall while Matt changed into swim trunks to join me in the tub.

Getting in the water felt amazing. I could relax and settle in. This is what I had mentally prepared for and felt ready to tackle it. However, sitting was not comfortable, so Shari had me kneel like a frog with my arms on the side of the tub. Matt settled in behind me sitting on a step and poured water over my back during each contraction. I focused on keeping my breathing steady and voice a low pitch when I needed to make noise. And so we labored. At some point my dear fried Cassie arrived! It was so good to see her face! We had invited to her witness little Grain’s birth and also take some photos. I was so glad she made it!

I could feel my baby moving down more and more, and then felt something pop…my water broke! Shari told me that I would soon start to feel myself needing to push, and to wait for that feeling to just take over. I settled in and then yep, there it was! My body was pushing my baby down and out.

After a few pushing surges it became super uncomfortable being spread kneed, there was just too much pressure. So Shari had me roll to my side, my top leg propped up on Matt. I honestly don’t remember much of what was happening at this point, I just heard Shari say that baby’s head was crowning, and Matt’s hands were guiding her out. She told me to take my time, and only bear down when a contraction was helping guide the baby out. And roughly 3 pushes later at 4:14 in the afternoon on June 29, my baby was out, safe in Daddy’s hands and he placed her on my chest.

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Shari asked him to see if it was a boy or girl, and Matt looked and said, boy?, nope, look again, things are a bit swollen down there on newborns…IT’S A GIRL! We were in shock! Yes, her gender was a surprise, but we most have both really been thinking it was a boy…this was a SURPRISE!!!

I started to get a bit distracted with some discomfort from her umbilical cord…it was shorter than average and rubbing uncomfortably since my placenta had not yet been delivered. Matt cut the cord and I delivered the placenta. As my body prepared to expel it Shari could see that I was not ready to push again, and reassured me that this would not hurt…there were no bones in this one.

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My favorite photo ever ❤

We got out of the tub and Shari and Suzie got me to the bed while Matt snuggled our little girl to his chest. They took my vitals, monitored baby, and Shari kneaded my very floppy stomach to help my uterus clamp down. She also gave me a shot of Pitocin to help stop extra bleeding. When I was stable, and resting on the bed we gave breastfeeding a shot, and our little Grain took too it right away! Horray! We rested a bit and got me cleaned up, then took inventory of our little lady.

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Weight: 7 lbs, 11 oz (her due date! although for days Matt and I incorrectly remembered this at 7 lbs, 13 oz)

Length: 19 ¼” long

Grey/blue eyes

LOTS of dark hair, fuzzy arms and legs, and lots of vernix!

Reflecting on the labor: Active labor 2:30-4:20PM, 19 minutes of pushing, no tearing!

Also, she and I grew the biggest placenta they had ever seen! Which is likely why she came early, it was used up and needed a new source of nutrition.

Our little girl was perfect!

One of the best parts of giving birth in this atmosphere was the amount of freedom we had. Once everyone was squared away we were left alone to just bond and recover. Cassie was a huge help in getting me showered and to the toilet a few times, and the 4 of us just sat around and chatted, and rested. It was a wonderful start.

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Shari came back and gave us some instruction for the next 24 hours before she would visit us at home. We were to monitor my and her temperature, keep an eye on bleeding, and a schedule for breastfeeding. Around 7:00 we were given the OK to leave, and decided to hang out and aim for the 9:30 ferry home. Shari went home, and Suzie was around if we had any questions. I laid on the bed with our little girl, and Matt went to install the car seat, and shuttle our stuff back to the car. Cassie snapped a few final pictures as we left, and then went home with our sweet little girl: Oakleigh Elaine.

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Exhausted by happy mama and little Oakleigh

A Sewing Project: Maternity Caftan

A few months ago now I ordered a maternity caftan dress. I really liked it, but there was something just “off” about the fabric, and the neckline…concept  was great, but it was not right for me. So I decided to dust off  the sewing machine I have received last Christmas (still in the box) and make my own.

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My friend Jenny was visiting and we scouted the perfect linen/rayon fabric, adorable buttons and I was inspired to start.

Then came the actual starting. I did not have a real pattern, just one I had made (and I have never made a pattern before) and so was a bit lost in what parts to do first. I was thrilled  with my success with threading the machine on my first try, and remembering how to wind a bobbin. YouTube later came in very very handy  as I started putting things together and came across questions. You see, I have sewn in the past, but never on my own. It was always a project with my mom at the ready to step in and help. This was my first true solo project, on a new machine all by myself.

Two weeks ago I finally did make some progress. I had the major parts cut out and pinned…and then I was stuck. Interfacing the neckline was a new concept, and I was not making heads or tails out of the tutorials online. So the project sat.

And sat.

And I kept getting closer to my due date. If this was supposed to be a maternity (and nursing) dress, I had better get it done if I wanted to wear it!!!So this weekend I unpacked all my supplies and really gave it a go.

I conquered the neckline, and pockets, and button loops. I even gave the hemming foot a shot…and ended up making a turned hemline the old fashioned way (or sloppy way?) with my hands, an iron and lots of patience, finished with two rows of top stitching.

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Result? I am beyond pleased! The caftan dress looks great! My nearly 37 week belly JUST fits, but it will be wonderful for nursing. The neckline is exactly what I wanted. It was a learning project, so there are things I would FOR SURE do differently next time, but I am excited to wear this in the coming weeks and years.

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Planting Tomatoes

Saturday was another garden day.

I cut down more cover crop (we really need a scythe next year!), weeded, and then was finally able to get some of our tomato starts in the ground. We have roughly 70 plants that have been hanging out on our deck just waiting for a place in the ground.

I also tackled trimming brambles and weeds on the far back side of the garden fence. There were blackberries coming through the wire and I knew it was now or next year that I would be able to address them. This pregnant body does not work too fast anymore, and I hit a wall before I got as far as I wanted, but listened to baby and called it a day with about 1/3 of the tomatoes in the ground.  Things are looking good!

Beans and corn are up, garlic is starting to turn yellow, peach tree has fruit and has been thinned. Very few apples are out this year. Some of the tomatoes are in. I could call that more of a garden success than I was anticipating the summer our first baby arrives! 4 weeks to go!

Update from Sunday: Matt spent the day in the garden and prepped and planted over 40 more plants! We are set for the year with about 75 in the ground and it looks great!

Picking a Whole House Color Palate

We love color. We also love most of our furniture. In the past, these two things have always come together in a mish-mash of design and decor for our house. Although we like the eclectic feel, for our post-remodel house we are shooting for a cohesive grownup comfortable look that truly looks intentional.

We will be ditching our old couch (well, to be fair, my parent’s old couch…it was around before I was born!) and only keeping pieces that we truly love. The new darker hardwood floors, new fresh trim, and remodeled kitchen deserve a color palate that brings out every bit of beauty possible.

Enter: a whole house color palate!

I started out thinking this would be easy. I have always been good with color, and have picked paint for many spaces. But I realized I had never truly started with a blank canvas, and included so many considerations as I selected paint.

Considerations:

  • wood floors
  • white trim and cabinetry
  • red brick fireplace
  • creamy white/terracotta/black kitchen tile
  • slate black counters
  • mix of white and stainless appliances
  • lots of green foliage through windows
  • very grey weather all winter long
  • antique oak and walnut furniture
  • light and airy feeling of house, but we also like bold color
  • desire to have room color flow from one to the next while being distinct
  • Matt has to like it!

I started where most people start these days: Pinterest. I got some good ideas, but no clear vision that was right for our home. From there I went to our local Benjamin Moore store and started sifting through colors. We have used Behr in the past with descent results, but tried the Aura paint on one room last year and were SOLD! Also, the BM Advance is what people tend to say is best for cabinets so we are going 100% Benjamin Moore on this remodel.

It is pretty overwhelming to look a 10,000 colors all at once. So I borrowed a fan deck and brought it home to look at more closely. I also got a white deck and their Williamsburg collection booklet. The fan deck is over 3″ thick and was also quickly overwhelming, so I stuck with the Historical Colors section and the Williamsburg  collection. We like classic style the best, and our craftsman house really is asking for those tones anyway. Through process of elimination, we were making progress.

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Pulling out tile samples and overlaying them on the colors further helped narrow our choices. Right now we have 4-5 wall colors that we really really like (beachy toned theme), and have narrowed down the whites (trim and cabinets) to a small handful. We keep revisiting them as the light changes throughout the day.

This weekend we plan to paint the interior of the two new kitchen cabinets Matt built (existing cabinets will not get painted interiors, but the new ones need a protective layer) so we will be picking a color and giving it a try!

Kitchen Demo

Memorial Day weekend Monday the first bit of granite tile was smashed in our kitchen. By Wednesday afternoon, demo was done! There were a few (very frustrating) snags, but overall it was quick and successful!

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The biggest snags were what were supposed to be the easy quick parts: taking out the gas stove and sink. Disconnect, lift up and out. Right? RIGHT? Wrong.

For both of these, the attachments were in too cramped of a location to utilize tools to loosen connections. Both ended up being cut and will be a repair job later. Not ideal, but that is what you deal with when you remodel (and want to save things!). We really like our stove, and ADORE the wall mount farmhouse sink and did not want to repurchase either of them…never mind that replacement was not in the budget!

The sink was also grouted in place rather than calked, which was a large concern for additional chip/cracking damage. It is successfully out in one piece though and waiting to be reinstalled.

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Backsplash and counter came off pretty easily and cleanly. The plywood is still in good shape so that is some time and cost savings.

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Now we are on to the rebuilding phase. New drywall and backerboard, then we can lay the counters and tile backsplash. Cabinets are ready to be sanded and painted. The end is nearer than it has ever felt!

34 Weeks Pregnant without a Kitchen

And the remodel journey continues…

Today I hit 34 weeks in my pregnancy with our little Grain. Belly is big and sleeping is not great. This week baby found that he/she gets a few extra inches by stretching feet into my ribcage at night. It is painful!!! As if it were not already hard enough to roll over or get up to pee every hour! Luckily as soon as I am up the pain is gone and I can generally go about my day, with a slight waddle of course.

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nearly 34 weeks pregnant, prepping the garden!

For the long Memorial Day weekend we took a break and played!

Ha, just kidding. We do not feel like we have time for a break right now. Although a day at the lake sounded perfect with 80 temps, we remind ourselves how good it will feel to have the house back, but to get there we have to keep plugging along. So we did.

It took a day and a half to empty the kitchen and remove cabinet doors/hinges. Then we paused and took a day to seriously get the garden started for the season. Matt broadforked the areas where we pulled out the overgrown winter garden while I prepped for and planted beans, zucchini, squash and zinnias. We moved some kale starts, and prepped a bed for corn. The garden looks SO much more under control, at least for the house facing half. We will need to get more space cleared for 60ish tomato plants, but that is likely a few weeks out. They are happy on the deck for the moment.

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garden prep day

After killing ourselves in the sun and garden (oh boy did an Epsom salt bath feel good on this pregnant body!) we slept like rocks. Good thing, because Monday was full too. Matt bottled hard cider in the morning, I planted corn, and then we started on the kitchen demo.

Demo on the kitchen counters and backsplash have been a looming milestone for months now. The final really messy piece of this remodel…and a time critical one since it means a stretch of living without a kitchen. It is also an unknown of how easy (or hard) the removal of these old materials would be…while preserving the sink, appliances, and cabinets.

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kitchen ready for demo!

I am happy to report that the counter tops came off easier than we were expecting, and the backerboard and plywood under the old granite tile is in great shape! That will be a time/cost saver. Taking out the sink was not an easy task. It was a) grouted in place (ugh!!!) and b) the plumbing is soldered copper that is tucked way up behind the sink where we cannot disconnect it. This will require cutting and more rebuilding when we go to put the sink back. Figuring that out took more time that we anticipated, but this week Matt should have a whole lot done! We are anxious to see how the rest of it goes.

So yes, we are living without a kitchen, 6 weeks away from our little Grain’s due date. Luckily the sunny weather has made evenings on the deck a perfect retreat from the chaos of the house, and Matt and I are riding the happy wave of progress, sunshine and excitement of our growing family.