The only water in the forest — River’s Birth Story Pt 1

June 20, 2013: You could have knocked me over with a feather when I made it to my due date, much less when it looked like we were going to sail right past it. I was expecting her to come early, but in my mind I had always said, she’ll be here no later than June 23. Now, I wasn’t so sure…

June 21, 2013
11:15 AM: A well-baby ultrasound to make sure she’s happy to stay in there, that fluid levels are staying optimal, and that her vitals are good. She sleeps through the whole thing. And sleeps. And sleeps. The technician can’t get her to wake up enough to move around and show muscle tone! All the usual tricks — butt poking, elbow jiggling, getting mom to go to the bathroom and move around, rolling mom from side to side — and she sleeps through it all. The technician is pretty sure she’s facing out toward my stomach, which corroborates what I’ve been suspecting based on her recent movements, which feel like hands and knees distending my abdomen.

12:15 PM: A 40-week OB appointment. The ultrasound images are all good-looking, there’s plenty of fluid cushioning her (it starts to decrease after 38 or 39 weeks), her heart is showing no signs of stress. The doctor did an internal exam and exclaimed, “Why is this baby not here yet!?” I don’t know, doc — we’re asking the same question! At 2 cm dilation and ready to go, he’d expect a first-timer to be in full swing labor. The OB issues an eviction notice: If she has not appeared of her own volition by Thursday, June 27, I’m to be called in on Thursday evening around 7 to have labor induced, and she’ll be born on the 28th. The doctor is pretty sure she’s NOT facing my stomach, but is correctly positioned facing my spine.

1:49 PM: Fretting myself to pieces over the idea of having a heavily-medicated, induced labor, I RSVP to a friend’s housewarming for Saturday night in a fit of pique, and drag Jim to the mall to pick out a housewarming gift. And buy chocolate, because chocolate. I even make a comment on the Facebook event wall that the best way to encourage baby to arrive is to commit to attending the party!

June 22, 2013
2:30 AM: Woken up by waves of lower back pain. Squinting at the bedside clock in the dark — they’re coming about every 9 minutes. Refusing to be tricked by another round of 9-minute Braxton Hicks contractions, I roll over and try to sleep.

3:30 AM: Rhythmic back pain still keeping me up. 7 minutes apart.

4:00 AM: Now they’re 5 minutes apart. I prowl the downstairs a bit to see if they’ll stop. They don’t. I wake Jim up enough to tell him I think we’ve got to call the doctor in a few hours.

5:30 AM: Still prowling the house, checking email, and corresponding with my dad about the comet Hale-Bopp‘s passing in 1997. The subject came up because we were emailing about the Supermoon due on the twenty-third, and he mentioned he had to start brushing up on his astronomy from my childhood for another little girl he knew…

6:00 AM: Still 5 minutes apart, except sometimes, when a second contraction comes after only 2 1/2 or 3 minutes, and the only comfortable position is kneeling in the hot shower with water hitting the base of my spine. If this isn’t going to be the day, we’ve got to go in to the hospital anyway to see what’s going on. We’re committed to calling the doctor’s on-call line at 7 if the back pain doesn’t let up.

7:22 AM: Jim calls the OB on-call. A nurse calls us back and asks to talk to me. I’m expecting this — they usually make the mother talk for about 10 minutes, to assess her state of mind, breathing, and the intensity of contractions. If she can talk through them, it’s not time to go in yet. The entire phone call only lasts 4 minutes, and I am able to talk the whole time, even though I know I am speaking slowly and in broken phrases. The nurse says, “Well, it sounds like you might have something going on here, so if you want to come in you can, so do you want to come in now or see what happens in the next hour?” I say to her, “We’ll start leaving now, but it will take us an hour to get past the front door with this pain.” I spend the next hour instructing Jim on what I need to have done before we can leave. He finishes my packing and wraps the housewarming gift (and it looked very chic, I must say).

8:38 AM: We’re finally in the car. I have a mental laugh that it really did take an hour for us to get out the door. Jim tells me that true to what was suggested by our natural hospital birth book, it took me ten minutes to walk from the front door to the car. I start text messaging our support team to let them know we’re in action.

9 AM: We arrive at the hospital and an ER nurse wheels me to the 2nd floor birthing centre while Jim parks the car. I spend the time waiting for him to come back kneeling on the floor and leaning over the seat of a chair. After about 10 minutes, during which I swear I was surreptitiously being monitored by the reception nurse, the triage nurse — the same one we had when we had to visit at 30 weeks! — comes out, starts to call for me, then says, “I guess you are in labor!” I get as comfortable as possible in a triage room, roped to monitors, and as it turns out, my contractions aren’t exactly 5 minutes apart — they’re “coupling,” so there’s a big one every five minutes with a smaller one during the interim. You know how they tell you that false contractions are irregular, and real ones aren’t? THEY LIE. Real ones can be irregular too. After an hour or so the OB on call comes in to see how I’m doing, and he’s happy — we’re at 4 cm. We’re moved to a labor & delivery room and I spend the next hour or so kneeling on a rolled up yoga mat on the floor and draping myself over either the side of the bed, or a birthing ball.


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38 Weeks :: 2 Weeks

Nice things:

  • When a waitress doesn’t realize you’re 9 months pregnant if she only sees you from the back and from the mid-torso up, and the hilarity that follows.
  • 5 consecutive hours of sleep for the first time in a month.
  • Chocolate cake.

Not nice things:

  • Woodpeckers at quarter past 5 in the morning.
  • Being more tired after 5 consecutive hours of sleep than you are most nights when you only sleep in 90 minute increments — “baby sleep training” is when the baby trains you to not sleep continuously anymore, right??

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37 Weeks :: 3 Weeks

Full term! The doctor’s expert opinion this week is that I’ll probably be able to keep my appointment for next week. But then, he also said that the fact I was born 8 days early is good news for me, implying that he wouldn’t be surprised if the same might happen to us, now. Filing all these tidbits away in my head. Chances I will make it to my best friend’s birthday party next weekend? Pretty high. Chances I really will need to buy Jim an advance Father’s Day card to have “just in case”? Could also be pretty high. Playing the probabilities off of each other and trying to decide where to put my money, or in this case, effort.

I learned just this morning that all of the births we can track through all-female descent from my great-great-grandmother, the Annie Wickline Knight of whom I have just recently written, averaged one to two weeks early. This makes me lean even more toward having that Father’s Day card on hand. The middle and end of next week will be interesting, if the “getting ready” symptoms start to speed up appreciably.

The sudden high 80s and low 90s affecting our region this week wreaked havoc with hands and feet that had stayed unswollen for the first 92.5% of pregnancy. This coincides with me mentally bumping up against the wall that says “Ok, I’m done with this, any day now is fine by me.” Yes, I could reach that thing I dropped on the floor, but I don’t want to. I could do something productive, but I’d rather curl up, semi-tired, on the couch and elevate my feet and just meditate the afternoon away. I can practically feel the fluid collecting in my arches as I type. I feel a little better and more energetic when I drink water, so I’m drinking water like a drowning fool today. It’s noon and 90 with a sluggish breeze — at least I know it will get a lot better when the sun dips low enough to get behind a tree, and the sea breeze picks up.

Hanging in there…

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The Spirit of Anna Wickline Knight

First, a brief history of the Wicklines:

Johann Georg Wickline was born, just before 1700, in Alsace or the Black Forest of Germany. He immigrated to Philadelphia, by way of Rotterdam, arriving on the Palatine German brig John in October of 1736 and married Anna Christina Rietenauer, also of Alsace, in 1741 in Berks County, PA. We can tell that Johann Georg was literate, because he signed his oath to the American government with his signature, not an X mark. All of the Wicklines in America are descended from Johann Georg, my line through his son Jacob George, born 1750 in Montgomery County, PA, and Jacob’s wife Maria Catharine Spahr of Berks County, PA.

Jacob and Maria moved their family south to Sweet Springs, Virginia, right on the border between present-day Virginia and southern West Virginia, where the Wickline family stayed until the late 19th century, when Anna Mazuria Wickline moved to central West Virginia and married William Clinton Knight of Braxton County.


Though she is not a grandmother to either one of us, my mom and I both call her “Grandma Knight.” She’s my grandmother’s grandmother, my mother’s great-grandmother, and my great-great-grandmother. And she was a West-Virginia-hills-country homestead-woman, who shot her own meat, chopped her own firewood (and probably called it “fahrwood”), quilted, gardened, and boasted a canning cellar that was apparently quite a delight to visit. Her whole front yard-patch was nothing but a flower garden. She must have been the embodiment of the old saying about “idle hands,” because I’ve never once heard of her sitting idly. And I could probably deduce that my pricklyness is an Annie Wickline trait, diluted by a couple of generations and tempered extensively by a recent injection of Avery good humor.

If there’s one really great thing about knowing the oral history of both sides of your family, it’s that you can recognize when you honestly come by certain traits in yourself. It’s the old nature versus nurture argument, but as a small-time genealogist that’s half the romance of digging up these old stories — not just figuring out whence a dimpled chin or prominent nose, but personality traits or interests shared with long-gone, unmet ancestors. And sometime last summer, I became possessed by the spirit of Grandma Knight, or at least her DNA. The desire to plant something, and make a mark on my tiny landscape, became an undeniable itch. I finally got Jim to build first one and then a second raised bed, I put in berry bushes and flowers, started planning fall bulbs,* and got Jim to rip out most of our lovely-but-blah box hedges and call in a landscaper for new stone edging and perennial summer and fall bloomers. I honed home-canning skills and plotted out a year of grander canning designs. I tried to figure out where (and how) to start a small vegetable garden. I bought a share in a friend’s farm CSA, and started to research summer fruit and veggie CSAs.

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36 Weeks :: 4 Weeks

Having completed 36 weeks, I am now in the last four weeks — the final month — of being pregnant. It hasn’t been the most fun or comfortable thing I ever did, but it was only ever a necessary means to an end, not the end itself. It didn’t have to pleasant, it just had to go well. And for the most part, it has. So far.

Just checking off the last few tasks…

Buying the last few items…

Washing the last few outfits and linens…

Packing the bags…






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35 Weeks :: 35 Days

I had to point out in the title to this post that at the 35 week point, the average pregnancy only last another 35 days. 🙂

Parenting advice from dad:
“No. 1 rule for new moms: Any song sung softly enough is a lullabye.”

Yes, I know this post is a few days late. My weekend was dedicated to last-minute bridesmaid meetings, dog-sitting trial runs, social meetings, and co-throwing a really fantastic bridal shower for my BFF. My feet aren’t hurting too badly this morning, despite the really ambitious red crocodile pattern high heels I wore for most of the day, or the fact that I was standing or sitting upright from 8 AM til 7 PM. My lower back was a little sore last night, but that’s par for the course. I fell asleep at 10 PM and didn’t really wake up til the morning. But I’m looking forward with relish to the extended weekend coming up.

We grew in week 35. Significantly. People have stopped telling me I’m too small and have started telling me that I look fabulous, very healthy, and am carrying it well. So that’s a comfort! My own weight didn’t change significantly from 33 weeks to 35, so the friend who remarked yesterday “It’s all baby!” is on to something.

The extended weather forecast is very rainy with passing storms, with a bit of a break in early June expected and then back to rain and storms afterward. Given that we’ve already had a weather-related run-in, and that she’s already head down and shouldering the exit (she had a fabulous time socializing at the bridal shower and testing gravity!), I’m wary of the forecast the way it looks now. She’s “lightened” — gotten her bony feet and knees out of my lungs — but not yet “dropped.”

As I’m fond of saying: 4 weeks — or less.

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Why It’s Awesome to be a Nerd….Girl.

An open letter to Baby Violet and baby girl nerds everywhere, from Wil Wheaton:

Posted by Violet’s Mommy. Violet’s Mommy is awesome.

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