Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Today on Mamalode

Today I am honored to be featured over at the Mamalode blog. For those of you who are not familiar with Mamalode, you are in for a treat. A finer collection of honest prose on parenthood is hard to find. Enjoy!

The wee one is deep in her newborn sleep phase which we are enjoying while it lasts. Perhaps we will get lucky and she will grow to be a great sleeper. Fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Looking Back On Life As Three

Remember the maternity photos I mentioned awhile back? Well the edited, complete set arrived a few days after our newest family member. It is a wild sensation looking back on an earlier time in the pregnancy while holding and nursing this person who was, at that time forming in me. This person who we wondered so much about.

As I move further along the journey of parenthood, the act of documenting has become more and more important to me. These photos were taken at 8:30 in the morning, after a night of vicious teething left us all with about four broken hours of sleep. Driving to the park to meet our photographer, our faces puffy and coffee clutched in hand, we were doubting whether Cora would cooperate and whether any photos we loved would come from the session.  As always, I am so glad we did it. It is uniquely special to have this moment in time captured, to look back on us at that exact moment feels outside of time. All of the little details, how I felt at that stage of pregnancy, that Cora would not fit into those shoes one week later, that Scott took us to brunch right after, all rise up with a succinct crispness when I take a glance at these photos.

Working with our favorite photographer felt even more special this time as she has relocated to Montreal since Cora's birth. We were lucky enough to work with her while she was travelling through Portland this summer. Here are a few of my favorites from a long list of amazing photos. Thank you Hollin Brodeur! Please check out her talented portfolio by clicking here.












And of course I wouldn't dream of finishing a blog post without an update on our new wee one. Three days old and she is thriving, gaining weight steadily and slowly waking up to this world. When Cora was born she was immediately alert and very interactive. Her little sister is taking her time, sleeping lots and only occasionally opening her eyes. We are paying attention as she unfurls and it is bringing us closer to a name decision. It is a lovely, peaceful time getting to know her and adjusting to becoming a family of four.

Blissing Out

It's a non-stop love fest in the Calanca household these days. We are still pondering the littlest one's name while she slowly wakes up to this world. She is sleeping and nursing great and I am recovering more and more each day.

Cora has been adjusting really quickly. When she first met her baby sister she showered her with kisses and that love continues to grow. She has had moments of confusion and weepiness which is to be expected but overall she has accepted the baby with an open heart. We are getting closer to a name, more soon!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

She's Here!

Baby girl Calanca, 5 hours old.  She was born at home, in water, after a 6 hour labor.  She is a vigorous 9 pounds 1 ounce!  We are all doing great, resting now, more details later. Thank you everyone for your thoughts, love, and support.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

...and she's not quite ready yet. Going to nab some sleep now.

Happy Due Date

I just might be in labor, feeling intense and that this could be it. The mixture of excitement and fear i feel right now is super powerful!

I can hear my mom and Scott working together to get the house set. Such a comforting sound.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

39 weeks

Two days to go until my "official" due date. It is hard to imagine that my body could be like this until October! Cora was two weeks overdue so we will see when this baby decides it is time to appear. It is definitely making me anxious about delivery especially since I am pretty sure this baby is bigger than Cora was. I really don't want to give birth to an 8-10 pounder if it can be avoided. Cora was 6lb 15ounces which was pretty small for two weeks overdue but there has been more ice cream involved in this pregnancy so I am pretty sure this baby will be more then 7 pounds.

My mom is arriving on Thursday and I am excited to spend time with her and have an extra set of hands around the house. Hopefully I will be able to accomplish some of my last minute nesting projects and get some extra naps in!

In other news, hello Downtown Abbey and where have you been all my life? Streaming netflix is pretty fantastic, then I read an article online about this Masterpiece Theater series. I watched the first episode today and it's like a drug. I am going to have to pace myself since there are only seven episodes available right now. One of the main characters is even named Cora, it makes me so very happy to hear her name over and over.

I haven't done a belly shot in far too long, so here we go. There is a lot of baby in there! I officially can no longer put socks on which is sad because the weather has shifted to fall and I am longing for my wool socks.  Also, thank god for pedicures, the ultimate gift to a pregnant lady. Oh and please ignore the dirty mirror, it is seriously low on my priority list these days.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Love, Loss, Life...This Moment

We have had a collection of so many simple and sweet mornings lately. The days are blending one into another, the edges blurred by my lack of a work schedule and Scott being switched to night shifts. It's a special and quiet time, taking the edge off the anticipation.

I have not written much about it here but there have been many moments during this pregnancy that were spent mourning the loss of friends and/or their children.  A dear friend's miscarriage, two mothers lost in childbirth, a baby lost to SIDS just before her one year birthday. In so many ways it has been a challenging time and a powerful meditation on the reality that all we have is this moment, that nothing in the future is guaranteed. I tend to become overly goal focused, gazing forward instead of sinking into what I have right now.  I have been slowing down, sharpening my focus, hugging Cora closely and imagining a healthy baby sister for her while making donations and sending as much love and support as I can to those surviving losses.

In the midst of these experiences I have been reading about two fellow blogging mamas who have welcomed new babies into their lives in the last week (Here and Here). I have been reading along with these ladies the duration of our pregnancies and it is very exciting to watch them welcome their babes. I find myself staring at newborns with a disbelief that we will have one soon. The last few months have been such a gift, an extreme understanding of living in the present has pervaded me thanks to all those who write about their experiences. In this way the world of blogging weaves a tight web and the connections we create with people we will most likely never meet are powerful and uplifting.

More then anything, what this journey to parenthood has taught me is that when you dream of creating a child you are always "rolling the dice". To hope to bring a child into the world is to pull your heart out of your body, set it on a dish and know that at any moment it can be smashed to pieces, but the risk is always so very worth it. I remember all those years ago, before marriage, before children. I would think about my future as a parent and just assume that once I was ready it would happen so perfectly and easily. I wonder what I would say to that girl now. 

I think I would say forge ahead with courage, that this is going to be one hell of a heartbreaking, soul searching ride. That your heart will shatter in ways you did not know possible, that you will come to understand that you will never fully understanding suffering...yours or another's. You will rise again and again through searing pain and continue to fight for your beliefs and somewhere in that rising you find a strength you did not know you possess.  You will learn that loss has touched almost every one you know. You will stand your ground when all you want to do is pack a bag and run. You will eventually realize your greatest hope. You will look at your child every, single, day and see a miracle.

Every. Single. Day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bigger & Bigger

Swimming is about the only thing that makes me comfortable now. When i am not in the water I am dreaming about it. Coming out of the pool and realizing anew all the pressure in my pelvis is so humbling and challenging.

I am growing increasingly excited to meet this little one, so curious to get to know her. Will she look like Cora? Will they have a similar disposition or be complete opposites? Will she, god willing, be a better sleeper? It is so exciting to be on the verge of meeting a brand new person who is going to transform us into a family of four. The waiting is tough but soon enough she will make her appearance, perhaps even on my birthday which is this coming weekend.

Cora loves pasta, staying true to her Italian heritage. I better get that girl wearing some wooden shoes soon to balance it out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yes, still waiting for baby. My midwife likes to remind me that it is not even my due date yet. In all reality it could be a few weeks yet. The labor symptoms have certainly slowed down but of course my discomfort grows daily.

My extreme sense of drawing inward is increasing daily. It is becoming harder and harder to engage with the 'real world' outside of our home. I take this as a good sign that my mind is quieting and listening to my body as I prepare to birth this baby. I do however dream of the day when I will have normal energy levels once again and where bending over to put on socks doesn't make me weep.

Today's big adventure was Cora's 18 month doctors appointment. She is in the 94 percentile of height which is stunning even though we knew she shot up this summer. I figured the news warranted a peanut butter and jelly bagel.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Simple Morning

I woke from a dream that my massage for today was cancelled and sure enough my great massage therapist is sick so no dice. Time to shift plans. I think this calls for more serious nesting and a trip to the community center pool to float on a mass of water noodles.
My poor body is so huge and sore, something must be done to help it along.

A few photos of life here this morning. I can not wrap my brain around the fact that soon Cora will be one of two. I am cherishing this quiet time with her.

Friday, September 9, 2011

No baby yet, everything calmed down last night and Cora slept great so I got some deep rest. My plan for today is continue knocking things off the to do list, spend some good quality time with Cora, call a repair person to look at our fridge which is emitting a faint burning smell, and take a belly photo before I pop.

Some friends have been asking if we have a plan for meal deliveries once the baby comes, so we set up a little account through Mealtrain. If you would like to help, click on the link below. Thanks everyone!

We started a Meal delivery sign up for friends/family here in Portland.

All snuggled up, just waiting and enjoying our quiet time together.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Could it be?

It's 7:40pm. I am resting on the couch and feeling waves of contractions although it is still far too early to tell if this is it or just practice. I spent a lovely day visiting with my friend Kelly and her sweet pea daughter. The girls played together here at my house while we mamas relaxed and caught up. The last two weeks we have been surrounded by such a bubble of love, it has been amazing!  Our newly arrived friends have taken great care of us, helping to finish our massive to do list, throwing in some elbow grease with dishes/chores, and helping us to keep Cora tuckered out.

So much of this pregnancy has been marked with anxiety and fear of the pending birth, it's been a huge bummer and a challenge I have tried again and again to reverse.  In the last week my energy has changed drastically. It feels as if life has slowed down and all of my focus has turned inward. It takes a monumental effort for me to focus on anything outside of the small bubble of my home and family. This feels so natural and good, and much of the anxiety has magically dissipated. The fear of the birth is being replaced with a deep excitement to be meeting our new daughter soon. I am also feeling a sense of surrender, as if I have done everything I know how to do and now it is time to just take the ride and see how it goes.

My nesting has been taking on hilarious fits and starts. I felt anxious to get out of the house for a few minutes tonight. Once Scott was home I took off for Target to get baby wipes and other sundries we were low on. It was once I was there that I realized I had been feeling contractions all day and some of them were intense enough that I had to stop walking and just hold onto the cart. Then I almost bought a flat screen TV, because, you know, that's a logical and methodical decision to make without your partner there. I called Scott and he talked me down off of the ledge and I made it home without a new TV.  Phew.

Now I am resting as comfortably as possible as I move through these cramping contractions. I wonder what the night will hold for us. Perhaps I will rest and it will all slow down and the baby will wait another day. Perhaps not.

Almost There

That's it, I am done. Not done in the 'I'm fed up with being pregnant way'. No I'm done because this baby is ready.

Walking by the mirror yesterday I recognized this belly, this entire posture. I look exactly like these photos which were taken 48 hours before Cora was born.

The official due date is Sept. 22. My midwives reminded me that ages ago, at our very first ultrasound the tech gave a due date of Sept 10, which was later modified to the 22nd. Hearing that was confirmation of my intuition that this baby is coming sooner rather then later. I will be so shocked if I am still pregnant in late September.

I have been moving mountains this pregnancy, trying to wade through a sea of birth trauma. Cora's birth was so long and difficult and took so many confusing turns that I am humbled and trembling with fear at the thought of undertaking that endeavor once again. I cling blindly to the belief that the second birth is faster, easier. I've scoured the internet and asked friends and my mom to repeatedly tell me how much easier their second births were. I have been seeing a fantastic talk therapist who specializes in processing birth trauma. All of these things have helped immensely but at the end of the day, or the pregnancy if you will, it is me standing on the precipice hoping I am strong enough to do this.

It may come as a surprise that we are trying a home birth once again. Cora was eventually born in the hospital after 31 hours of labor. I have not been able to identify exactly why it is important for me to labor at home this time, except that it just feels like the right choice. I had an incredibly positive experience with the hospital portion of Cora's birth so there is no fear of returning there. I simply want to be home, want to be in my comfort zone and am hoping to know what a natural birth feels like. A part of me even dares to hope that my trauma will be healed with a home birth.

Last Wednesday our midwife/naturopathic physician came to our house for our home visit. This was a monumental moment and it drove home the fact that this is really about to happen. Scott and I have both been reeling since that visit, overwhelmed with a mountain of lists we want to finish before baby #2 arrives.

We have also been taking more time to focus on Cora's needs and prepare her as fully as possible for the transition to big sister. It is challenging with an 18 month old because I can not tell how much she understands but it is always more then we think. We have talked over and over again about the baby in mommy's belly. Early in the pregnancy we gave Cora her own baby to hug and kiss, and we introduced her big girl bed a few months ago and have been slowly encouraging her to sleep in it. More and more we are becoming comfortable in our parenting style, which is to introduce new things as positive developments and then not push, just keep being with them until they seem very normal.

Yesterday Cora and I went to a fantastic kids book store and picked out some books for her, one on welcoming a little sister, one on potty training and one on sleeping in a big girl bed. Her love of books is definitely on our side here, and utilizing that love to help her understand big transitions is comforting to her and to us. When we opened the book on becoming a big sister she started squeeling "baby, baby, baby!" over and over and now when we read it she kisses the baby on the page. She has also started pointing to my belly and exclaiming baby then kissing it. So adorable.

This photo was taken several weeks ago, even though I couldn't image my belly expanding any more, it has proven me wrong.