Thursday, June 27, 2013

Last Fling and Wallabies

In February (I know, this is RIDICULOUSLY late in coming!) Phillip and I went out for a sort of "last fling" kind of meal, to enjoy a nice night out to dinner while it was just the two of us, one last time.

We ate at the country club in Launceston at the Terrace Restaurant.

But rather than regale you with stories and photos of what food we ate (I didn't take any, nor do I particularly remember what the food was like other than really good), I thought my non-Australian viewers would at least find the photos I DID take interesting.

Well, not all of them. Sometimes I get tired of playing tourist and taking lots of bad photos, so I stop after only a few bad ones instead. And give you, lovely readers, the cream of the crop (they're still somewhat bad though this time, but I thought someone could enjoy them. Maybe.).

Mamma and her joey (click to view larger image)
Mayhaps you remember in other blog entries I said something about wallabies being a pest around Tasmania, nearly as bad as rabbits? This was the first time I saw them in near-plague proportions. And only JUST outside the city. My photos poorly portray this viewing. They were everywhere around the country club. Just not close enough for nice photos in low light with a point-and-shoot camera.

But really. LOTS of wallabies.

I seeeee you!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Accidents Happen

We heat our house with a wood fire.

Like most of Tasmania.

This is our first year supplying our own wood. The last two winters we've gotten wood from Phillip's parents.  We figured it was about time we become real grown-up married people and buy our own. Also, we don't like to mooch (though I guess we did work for at least some of the wood we were given, helping split wood at his parents).

Load of wood being delivered
The cheapest way to get wood turns out to be just buying it as logs. Massive logs that you cut and split yourself. Which meant that Phillip got to buy himself a few new toys so he could accomplish this task (being that I was super pregnant, I was not going to help cut and split wood).

So, this past summer, not only did we buy about 15 cubic meters of wood, but Phillip got himself a sweet deal on an Echo chainsaw, and a beautiful splitting ax from Fiskars. He liked his new toys.

All summer, on days that weren't blisteringly hot, Phillip would use bits of spare time to cut through logs with his chainsaw, and then split them into manageable pieces for our fireplace. The wood was then to sit out in the sun and rain for a few weeks so that the sap could be washed out, then put in the shed to dry out so and we could have nice dry wood to burn this winter, unlike the past two winters where most of our wood has either been somewhat green or wet. Our (well, Phillip's) goal was to have it all done by the time the baby came. He came fairly close to accomplishing this goal, too.

Testing out his new chainsaw!
Nearly ALL the logs are cut and half of it split!
Unfortunately, things don't always work as we plan, and, on May 4th, while I was inside cleaning like the crazy pregnant woman I was, hoping I would go into labor at any moment, Phillip was outside splitting wood. Fifteen minutes in, Phillip walks into the house with a funny smile on his face.

"Boy, that was a short time splitting" I said. To which Phillip replied, "I cut myself." very calmly, and then showed me his thumb.

Apparently, while trying to dislodge the ax from a block, he managed to run the VERY sharp blade along the back of his right thumb. And, if you know Fiskars products, they're amazingly sharp (which you want. I love Fiskars. Really, I do).

Into the bathroom I dragged poor bleeding Phillip to clean and look at his thumb. It didn't stop bleeding. The second pressure was off it, it started to pour out blood again (maybe I'm being a bit dramatic with the pouring bit, but it was bleeding a LOT). So we decided to drive up town to get some more bandaids and MAYBE go to the hospital.

In the middle of this trip, my midwife, Jenny, called, to see how I was doing. I said something along the lines of, "Well, I'M fine, but we're trying to decide if we should take Phillip to the ER for some stitches..." Jenny also happens to be a nurse at a clinic, which she told us to come down to so she could take a look at Phillip, give him stitches if necessary, then take a look at me. (See why I love my midwife? And that's only one of many reasons...)

Turns out, Phillip needed three stitches. And a tetanus booster. And a note for a week off work. Thankfully, though, no tendons were cut.

At the clinic, waiting for his DPT shot post sutures

And by the time I went into labor his thumb was mostly healed so I didn't have to worry too much about busting open his stitches or hurting him more while I squeezed his hand.
Nearly all healed up, one more week to go with stitches in
(also, the least bad part of the cut goes nearly to the last thumb joint)
Unfortunately, the time Phillip had to rest his thumb to properly heal, which turned out to be about 4 weeks, and then taking on a lot of the household responsibilities because I had to sit for hours nursing a very hungry baby, as well as recover, has left us with wet wood again this year. We have a system of bringing wood in to dry by the fire so it isn't as sodden as it could be, but it still means that our fire isn't burning as hot as we'd like. Alas, not much we can do about it, and at least we've figured out ways of keeping warm without having the fire going hot. Things like, wool socks, and lots of blankets. Or, my dad's favorite, vacuuming (well, when one doesn't have to carry a baby around). 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bouncing Baby Home Birth

I would like to (proudly) announce that my most recent absence from blogging was due to the fact that I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 16th.

Simon David, born at 2:45AM at home, and weighed 10lbs 7ozs, and was 55cm long.

He's my monster baby.

When we first found out I was pregnant, we did a lot of praying about what we were going to do throughout the pregnancy and with the birth. Neither of us were really wanting to become entrenched in the medical system and the way it treats birth, but honestly, I wasn't too gung-ho about doing a home birth for my first baby. Though, from the age of about 17, I've been very interested in doing home birth (for possible subsequent children), and water birth (I just love water). So, after one visit to the midwife clinic (most births are handled by midwives here in Tasmania, unless it is a high risk pregnancy or a doctor is requested), one to a doctor, and MUCH prayer, we managed to contact and book the only midwife in the area who does home births.

And she was a God-send.

Jenny was immensely comforting and supportive the entire pregnancy, even going so far as to take me into the hospital for a check-up when I could no longer fit behind the wheel of the car and Phillip couldn't get home in time to take me. She had us come in to the clinic she works at as a nurse when Phillip needed stitches on Saturday afternoon (that's another story though). She did home visits during and after my pregnancy, and would call occasionally, just to check up on me (still does!), Phillip, and Simon. She wasn't just here to look after me and the baby and make sure we were healthy physically, but actually became involved in our lives and made sure that we were and are healthy all around, mentally, physically, emotionally. It was much more... personable... than I have ever experienced or expected.

Giving birth was, well, amazing. Absolutely and utterly amazing.

At two weeks overdue, after an attempt at using castor oil and acupressure, I officially went in to labor at 11:30AM (contractions were a steady 5 min. apart), both Phillip and I had been awake at 3:30AM when contractions actually started. Jenny came over and notified another midwife she was having assist her that she would need to come over some time that day. It was all remarkably relaxed and, well, nice. I wanted to snack on some crackers and peanut butter? I got to snack. I wanted to make cake? I made cake. I wanted to walk around the house doing things? I walked. I wanted to be in the birthing pool? Well, you get the idea. Being at home meant I was free to do pretty much anything I wanted, go about my normal day, while still laboring. Making it seem less... intense. More like life.
Birthing pool, set up in our living room
Phillip, exhausted and "sleeping" on the floor while holding my hands

We covered up or hid clocks in the house because I had no desire to know how long anything was going on, so I don't really know how long I did what. I know that at some point, even being in the birthing pool was taking a toll on my back (I had problems with my lower back the entire pregnancy), and Phillip walked me to our bedroom where he laid down with me and I half napped for, he says, three hours. Don't ask me how I managed to sleep, but I was absolutely exhausted at that point, and somehow fell asleep in between contractions.

What did seem odd to me was that the contractions never got closer together than 5 minutes. Regardless of what I did; walking, sitting on my Fit ball, squatting, "dancing", nothing seemed to help anything progress. After hours and hours, Jenny asked if she could check dilation, and, turns out, baby was all ready to go. After a few more hours of nothing happening, we decided to see if breaking my water would help things. Again, nothing happened. I could feel the little guy descending and all that during the last few hours, but my body didn't seem to want to speed up the labor. My back started giving out in the pool again and I ended up on our bed, where, we just decided I should try pushing.

Pushing was probably the best part of the labor. It was ACCOMPLISHING something. I was WORKING (wow was I working!) and getting something done, not just waiting around for things to progress.

Honestly, it was HARD. One of the hardest things I will probably ever have to do, but it was also one of the most invigorating, wonderful, amazing things I have ever done. I felt... like a warrior woman. Powerful, like, as exhausted as I was after all those hours of contractions having gotten only three hours of sleep the night before, I could DO this. I was MADE for this. I was going to get this done and birth this baby no mater what.

It didn't happen the exact way I wanted, really. I wanted to give birth in the birthing pool (I love love love water, and being in that pool, most of the time, just relieved a lot of pressure). I didn't want to be on my back on our bed. In possibly one of the most difficult positions to give birth in.

Being on my back rather than squatting or kneeling in the pool (which allows for somewhat quicker birth), slowed things down so that my body could really adjust to what turned out to be a BIG baby. We had no idea Simon was going to be as big as he was (we chose to do as few scans as possible and asked to not be told anything unless absolutely necessary). And big babies come with the risk of dislocating little baby shoulders or breaking collar bones during birth, as well as lots of tearing for the mother. We think that God allowed my back pain and the slowness of the birth so that both our bodies could adjust and deliver safely (or at least we allow that God was in control the whole time anyway, and allowed what he allowed for a reason, good or bad in our eyes).

First time holding our little boy
And, I can't say it enough, it was truly amazing. The whole process of Simon being born, and of being able to do it at home. And when his little body was laid on mine.... I have no words. It was just shock, awe, and love. Phillip was able to cut the cord (after it stopped pulsing), and I was able to hold my beautiful (well, at that point he was still rather squashed and a little funny looking) little boy.

AND, (score!) being that we were at home, I got to take a nice hot shower right after and sleep in my own bed for what was left of the night. And my wonderful wonderful midwives helped with, well, everything, afterwords. Jenny even stayed the night to make sure we were ok and help us a bit in the morning.

Phillip, wonderful, amazing, brilliant man that he is, was with me the entire time. He helped me breath through contractions, held my hand, rubbed my back, told me I was amazing, doing well, and, what amazes me the most maybe, watched the entire birth and was amazed and awed by it.

Even now, a month later, Phillip and I are still kind of in awe of it all. The whole process and what God allowed, and what we allowed by following what we truly felt was God's will for this birth.

Simon, one day old, not enjoying having this photo taken at all
(he had just been changed and oiled, so it was all a little much)