Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sunset Sail

Unfurl the sails! How amazing to be able to visit Maine this summer, before school started!  We went for a sunset sail around Boothbay Harbor, on the Eastwind

It was positively life-giving to be out on the water again.

We had a steady breeze, and so we were able to boat around with out the motor too much. So lovely.

Grandma Anne and Arianna Jo

My Dad breathing in the peaceful goodness

Doesn't get much 'bettah' than this!

We had the most wonderful time.

You know you're pretty lucky, when you get to snuggle in your Grandma's coat when it gets too windy.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sleeping and Waking: Arianna 3 months old

Baby woke up...

Time to play!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Arianna's Birth Story

Getting Ready for Baby

"Please stay in there..." was the name of the game for a while. 

You see, Ivan still had finals to get through, and Mom wasn't arriving until April 25th.
Ivan and his brother Vladi -- Before the last final of the semester!

I had prepared myself with meditation sequences, putting together my labor music, breathing exercises, lots and lots of reading---and then giving myself permission for this labor to be our own, and not like anything I had previously witnessed. 

But I wasn't prepared to do this without my husband, or my 

Baby needed to stay put. 

And she did! (--even with all the contingency plans --just in case I went into labor while Ivan was in his History final, etc...)

Mom came, and promptly got into awesome project mode. Because, you know, you can't have a baby without a chest freezer! 

And for heaven's sake! You can't have a baby without having your garden boxes made, and planted!

THAT was a lot of good work, ripping up grass and weeds and planning and shopping and doing and chopping and drilling and dumping and planting---Oh my! ( I mostly stood around and being puffy, and brought people water.) 

Ivan and his sister Nelssie admiring one of the amazing garden boxes.

....and so there were projects, and trips to Lowes and Costco, and picnics and I was still feeling great (except for my every expanding ankles, which luckily Mom had packed some excellent compression socks that she let me use.)

And we had to have some carne asada! 

Ivan looking super manly in my favorite apron (we couldn't find his so, last minute substitute...)

It seemed like everyone else was very anxious for baby to come, but I was feeling content! 

Mom said, "You need to get to that place where you're finally ready. You're done being pregnant and the thoughts and feelings of seeing her and having her here on the outside are bigger than what you're feeling now."

I was feeling big, but not uncomfortable. I was certainly in denial...What? Baby? Pushing her out? Nah...too busy. Gotta plant a garden! Too many projects to do! 

But always in the back of my mind, I had the time crunch too... Mom was only going to be here for so long. 

April days were filled with good projects, and pretty soon we knew she was going to be a May baby...


After enjoying 75+ degree weather, we got a rude awakening after a surprise frost killed our tomato/ pepper plants... (How could we be so foolish and plant them before Cinco de Mayo?! I dunno. The weather report said nothing!) 

It was a cold, and extremely windy day. ---and here's where the details get blurry. I know I had been having some contractions here and there...but I don't know when they really "started"


Mom kicked Ivan and I out of the house to go for a walk in the afternoon (it felt like a death march to the gulags at times with the icy wind ripping through my clothes, and my legs cramping so I couldn't move) --But a couple of times around the neighborhood got some good contractions going. --That...and nipple stimulation. 

LABOR (or at least what I remember)

For me, in the beginning it was like...surfing. The surge, or waves of pressure had their peaks and valleys and I just had to focus on where I was, and ride it out to the shore...and then paddle and rest and wait for the next one. 

It was also exciting! We were gonna do this! 

I paced back and forth at home, and rocked out to powerful music, and hummed and moaned through some of them. The vocalizing really helped.

I remember going to bed. I remember being worried about my water breaking all over the place. 

I remember it being dark and late, and trying to rest between the surges. I think I did. 

At some point----we had finally reached the 5-1-1 rule. Contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long for 1 hour. 

It was time to call the midwives!  "Come on in, we'll check you."

I think it was 1 or 2 A.M. at this point?'s a little hazy now.

I sat in the back seat on a towel (just in case) and moaned and moo'd all the way to the birthing center--which only took about 7 minutes.

Once there, I sat on the couch tried to breathe through a couple of contractions, and then got checked...

ONLY A 2?!?!

Drat. I thought for sure we'd made more headway than that. I was discouraged, but okay.

So we got sent home to rest, and see if we could progress there.

My Dad was flying in to Salt Lake airport and my Aunt was able to go pick him up. Baby had waited for her Grandpa to be here!

When we finally went back to the birthing center I had progressed to a 5 (?)

My Aunt Kara came to be my doula, and talk me through the ever intensifying contractions...

The birthing tub was filled and I stripped down to my bra and got in...

Trying to find the perfect temperature was tricky. Kara and my mom took shifts talking me through the contractions, and reminding me to breathe, and pushing on my knees for relief. I pushed on the back of the tub during the painful back labor.

That was something I wasn't prepared for--- I thought the pain would be more localized to where I was feeling my contractions early on---but this labor was all in my hips and back...Pushing and pressure helped a little bit. Mostly to distract me.

I must have labored there for a long time.

Kara kept reminding me to do low sounds, and slow breaths. She reminded me that baby was moving down, and soon I would meet her! She talked me through a great meditation sequence focusing on colors of the rainbow and imagining all the beautiful things in the world of that particular shade---it was excellent.

In the background I could hear my laboring music---and I was happy with my selections---but I could tell that we had repeated several times--and I had about 2 hours of music on there!

The midwife apprentice Lea would come in and quietly and gently make sure the babies heartbeat was doing well...and Arianna was totally happy and healthy. That was a relief to know.

In the back of my mind, I was worried about where my husband was...and my Dad. I was safe and warm, and working with baby to move and open up, but my husband was in the other room getting some rest. (Which was great--because he was gonna need to really work later!)

At some point I realized I really had to pee...and I knew an empty bladder would help--and I didn't want to pee in the tub.

With help I got up and onto the toilet, and realized I felt like I sort of needed to push.

I had heard and read about other births where the feeling to push was overwhelming. I didn't feel like that...

It was more like--"Eh...I kinda feel like I could...maybe? Okay--Yeah. I think that's the right feeling..."

The more overwhelming feeling was I wanted to get my knees up, and squat. I knew I was nearing transition because I didn't know where I wanted to be.

I felt like a momma cat looking around for the perfect box to give birth...clawing around the house...unsure and wild.

I knew I didn't want to be in the tub. I didn't want to be where I was.

We tried walking to the bed, and I thought it would be nice to labor while laying down-- NOPE! One surge and I knew that was NOT going to work.

I sat up, and felt like I needed to puke.

I did.

And the pressure from that, broke my water! YES! I felt so relieved to know we had reached transition. I knew even though I felt gross that we had reached a great milestone.

The birthing stool was brought out and chuck pads laid out, and it was time to check me again to see how far we'd progressed.

8.....we were at 8 cm.


"So, it was a good thing we checked, because pushing at this point isn't going to get you anywhere. We're kind of at a crossroads. We can wait and see if you progress over some more time, or I can help lift the cervix over the babies head. But it will be painful."

I knew I was nearing exhaustion with my labor---and I was worried how I would handle this extra pain. I didn't feel like I was able to control more pain, and so I hesitated. But I also knew that this would be the best course of action.

With every surge, and the midwife's hand inside me, and Mom and Kara pushing on my knees and Ivan squeezing my back I focused on a spot on the wall, and blew away every negative feeling and thought. "I WILL DO THIS! WATCH ME! I CAN DO THIS! I AM POWERFUL!" I'm surprised that there wasn't a laser burn on the wall later, I centered so much energy there.

I'm also pretty sure that I pushed all my guts out onto those chuck pads. I felt bad about that...but oh well. 

Having the midwife's hand inside me, wasn't painful at all. I was so relieved, but too busy trying to manage the pain in my back to 

"Pushing" was hard to get. I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be pushing and I felt like any second, we'd be crowning! ---but no. 

This wasn't getting anywhere, however. I think we tried this for an hour and still, no progress. Ugggggggggh! Baby was doing great, however, and I really did try to rest in between the surges.

Mom did a great job coaching me where to focus my pushing---but I was getting discouraged with all this effort and no baby.

I remember saying, "There is a baby in there right?! Because I can't do this, if there isn't a baby at the end!"

I was starting to feel a little panic because my Aunt Kara could only stay for a little while longer, and though I hadn't seen a clock since we came in, I could just sense that it was starting to get really close...

Another friend who's a doula recently told me, "I'm a firm believer that whoever needs to be at the birth, will be there." This was true for us.

The midwife suggested we try putting my legs up on the shoulders of the midwife and pushing that way...

Finally pushing made sense! All the women in the room, "ooh'd" and "aah'd"---"That was a great push!"  "She's almost here!"

"Do you want to see her head?"

Another sudden wave, hit..."No!"

Kara said, "Wow, you're doing great! You should have 9 kids!"

I knew she was saying it in a supportive, 'look at you powerful woman!'- way..but I replied, "Uh...can we table this discussion?" 

Pushing,--so much pushing---it felt like holding my breath---- pressure, everyone pushing on me, and me pushing on baby------her head was out! I closed my eyes, and asked, "Please can I keep pushing? Are we almost there?"

Another powerful surge, some gushing, and a groan of relief, and when I opened my eyes---the midwife was handing me a bloody looking alien.


"Ooooooh! You're here!"

 Baby had a loud, healthy cry! I had to rest her on my belly, because the umbilical cord was so short. I couldn't see really her face, but her head was pretty smushed from squeezing through the birth canal.

And then...for some reason, they had me stand up from the birthing stool, and go to the bed, and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.

Baby kept yelling and peed on me!

 I knew that only one thing would calm her, after that startling transition from cozy warm womb to loud and light outside...

"Do you need your Dad to sing to you?"

Ivan was next to me on the bed, and started singing the same sweet song he had sung to baby in my belly for 9 months...

"Ariannnnnaaa, ariannnnaaa,---here's a song about you."

Arianna stopped crying, and turned her head to the sound of Dad's voice.

I started tearing up. The midwives all sighed and cooed and said, "Look, she knows her name! She knows her daddy's voice!"

The midwives were kneading on my uterus to help the placenta wasn't painful! ( I had been preparing myself for that...) 

Ivan cut the cord, and finally got to hold her.

 and I was helped into the bathroom, to sit on the birthing stool and deliver the placenta. 

"Uh--I just pushed a human through there. I don't want to do any more pushing!"

But it was nice and soft and over with soon.

Back to bed, and skin to skin with my baby---finally could look her over, and see her cone head and adorable hands and feet.

I thought, "I just gave birth to my father in law..." and then two seconds later..."Nope! It's my little brother!"

Born at the right time 
May 2nd, 9:57 am

Everyone who needed to be there, was. Kara was able to stay until a little after 10, and then had to go to a funeral. It was a full circle kind of 24 hours for her. 

My Dad was there. 

My Mom was there.

My husband was there.


 We did it! We all got her here!

 Arianna Jo Flores was 7 lbs. 8 oz, 19.5 inches long

Measuring baby and checking hips, spine, and tongue--then printing her feet for the certificate. 

Dad and Ivan made a trip to Cafe Rio and we all chowed down on some food, and then Mom and Dad went home to rest, and Ivan, baby girl and I stayed at the center for a few more hours to recuperate and doze. 

Around 5 PM that evening, we decided we'd had enough of the plastic sheets, and I was feeling ready to head back to familiar ground. So we loaded up extra chuck pads, and cleaned up a little, tucked baby into her going home outfit from her Great Grandma Barker---and went home, feeling sore, and elated, and nervous and tired.

Practially swimming in it...

 Just for fun--here's a comparison of one month later!

AND NOW! --too many pictures of baby...

Friday, April 05, 2013

To my baby-

So this one time...

Gosh, April really snuck up on me...

This pregnancy...

Um--okay I've started this post about a million times in my head.

Here's the thing kiddo:

This has been hard. You child, knocked me off my trajectory---quite literally making me pass out, and oh boy-- the nausea was enough to make me sob, and pray for it to all just end.

I've had to adjust my expectations of what my body does.

For example: I used to be able to do EVERYTHING! Teach, photo shoots/ editing, house keeping, read, work out, paint murals, cook--unload the dishwasher--garden!

Early August -- You let me know of your presence by sending me into a vertigo induced migrane-- hot, sweaty nausea--and so much spinning! Your Uncle Soren and Aunt Emily had their open house that day, and I was a puddle of helpless goo...

Unsure that I was REALLY pregnant (gasp! could it be? What? No! ...hmmm...well?) we waited a couple days before taking a test.

I was so passive about it all--what? me? pregnant? HA! No, not yet. ---the first test had the faintest of faint lines, and I threw it out, thinking...--"Oh well...Guess not really pregnant! "

But the smells....oh my goodness child, you made me so sensitive to smells...

More tests...

Yep--two lines.

Holy moly.

Your Daddy was driving across the country with all our stuff in a van, heading back to Utah. I sent him a picture.

He was giddy with joy!--and at the next rest stop, bought you a stuffed animal : a dolphin. He has always been so excited for your arrival. So supportive, and so positive--I know I couldn't have done this journey without him.

When it was time for me to fly back I remember going through the security lines at the airport --wondering if the metal detectors would harm this tiny fetus, the size of a pea.

Unpacking, and moving into the house was great. I had energy! I had a project!

I was ready to pounce on this new adventure of teaching at a new school---I had students, and parents all excited---and THEN:

You knocked me out.


On the bathroom floor with a broken nose and a black eye, and twitching, and your Daddy hovering over me, "Kjirsten! Kjirsten! Are you okay! What happened?!"

That's when the debilitating weakness hit. I couldn't lift my arms. I couldn't turn my head. You were very particular about which way I slept (only on the left! Don't even THINK about turning to the right) ---and all I could do was mumble for protein shakes, and toast, and roasted potatoes...and pickles for the first time in my life...

I had become useless, compared to my regular standards. My body, was so busy jump starting yours that it became consumed by it. I was completely thrown-- What about all my plans?! What about my teaching?! What are we going to do?!

*deep breath*

This was the part where Mom had to start learning to be your Mom. The part where you started making me into something I never knew I could be.

But I couldn't mother you with milk, or snuggle you, or wipe your tears---because you, little one were still so--so ---SO small inside me but so huge in my universe.

I just had to hold my hands over my belly and cry, and say--"Okay! This is what we do now."

This was the part where I had to learn to let my body do whatever it was going to do-- even those early scary days of spotting, and dizzy spells...and not knowing if you were going to hang around and turn into whatever it was you were/are going to be...

 Just breathe. Just try to sleep through it.

Sleep and pray and barf through September.

And October.

And Oh---keep going--It's November. *butterfly flutters, and popcorn popping--you were saying hello!*

Our mantra was just make it till Christmas. Just make it till then...

Make it till December 10th-- 20 weeks, and an ultra sound with Abeulos and ---there you were--really really YOU! With a face, and attitude, and thumb sucking, and adorable stretching and kicking---we could see you!

After that, I started to feel better. Small bursts of energy... The smells still got me...but I started climbing up out of myself, and lo and behold! I could do a load of laundry! I could do more than just lay in bed!

My body continued to morph---stretch marks, and sore boobs. My hair and skin texture---my ear wax---everything changing. Everything about me looked pregnant. My eye lids, My toes. Looking in the mirror--It was my body--but so alien. And now this dancing womb---like you were continually doing tai chi. I felt beautiful and strange and huge.

This was all happening to me, and I just had to let it wash over me. Again. And again... like waves. "This is your new normal. This is what you are now. This is real. and this--- will fluctuate yet again...and become another normal. Another version of you."

So I let it.

I read.

I prayed.

I survived through those days.

I reveled in the sunshine--and the days where I felt great!

I pushed myself too hard, trying to get back into my old routines and would have to abandon ship-- Dishes had to be left--mid my attempts to unload. The floor could not be mopped, by me. I would have to sit, at the stove and try to stir the pot of soup because standing was just too much--only to finally give up and retreat back to bed.

Your Daddy realized that this made me a little crazy--and cheerfully cleaned the house, did the laundry, the cooking, and constantly gave me encouragement and love.

He sang/ sings to you, every day and every night. You would start to kick so hard, you'd lift his hand off my belly!
He still loves to pick out your clothes--- and asks how and what you're doing all the time.

We started prepping your room, our house, the "stuff" that you'd need.

and we made it through all our appointments---the midwives always remarked how active you are, and how much you like to move...

and then...suddenly--now

It's April.

And it feels like we've had no time to get ready, and yet, we're three weeks away from your 'due date'...

and baby---dear baby... we are heading into a new normal. Where Mom freaks out a little bit, about you being on the outside, and someday growing up--- and then calmly folds your clothes, and reads a lot of calming words...and sings to you and you kick back----you're running out of room.

And Daddy happily sings to you and wonders what you'll be like.

And both of us try to send you good energy to stay inside until April 25th... after finals--and after Grandma Anne gets here.

* * * * *

“What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

* * * * *

To my baby-- Oh, sweet baby! You are worth it. You are worth all my aching back, and fried mommy brain. You are worth the nausea. You are worth the sleepless nights, where I wonder what our relationship will be like as you grow older. You are worth painful contractions. And being unmade---and then becoming something wholly new.

Give me time, baby. We've never done this before. We'll figure it all out. You and me, and your Dad.

and thanks for making us real, baby...

"because once you are real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts...for always..."