Birth Stories: My Younger Son


This week, I’m going to be telling the stories of how Sprout and Little Bird were born. For two babies born in the same place in the same way, the births of my two sons could not have been more different.

No one was ready for my second son’s arrival.

Three and a half weeks before my due date, I told my doctor, “I’m having some pains.” I didn’t think much of it because I had some face-twisting Braxton Hicks false contractions earlier. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to take any chances. I was going to travel New Jersey to attend my grandmother’s funeral that weekend, and didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks.

Looking up between my legs after checking me, the doctor said, “You shouldn’t travel. You’re already four centimeters dilated.”

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Birth Stories Part I: My Older Son


This week, I’m going to be telling the stories of how Sprout and Little Bird were born. For two babies born in the same place in the same way, the births of my two sons could not have been more different.

It was three days after Sprout’s due date. My abdomen kept getting rock hard. The feeling was sporadic, but I had been more than a centimeter dilated a few days earlier. Just in case, I called my family.

“I think I might be going into labor,” I said. They must have heard, “I am going to have the baby right this minute,” because they traveled down to see us as fast as possible.

But when they arrived seven hours later, I wasn’t in labor. That night, I still wasn’t in labor. The next day, still not in labor.

Instead of greeting a beautiful baby, my parents, in-laws and sister-in-law were just sitting around, staring at my belly.

Logically, they decided the best course of action was to take the hugely pregnant lady on a mile-long walk. Normally, this walk would be a lovely stroll on a sunny June afternoon. Instead every inch was a grind. While I’m usually waiting on my mother-in-law, I was panting and dragging my legs to keep up.

The next day, everyone was terribly sick of waiting and dispersed to do their own thing. Chris and I decided to go to the movies, one of the last times we figured we would be able to do so for a long, long time. (We were right.) Unfortunately, the only movie out at the time was the rather abysmal Man of Steel, but at least I didn’t feel bad when I had to get up to pee in the middle of it.

My sleep that night was that of a heavily pregnant woman – uncomfortable and never quite right. But something woke me at 4 AM – a puddle of wet. I poked Chris, squinted and said, “Hey, Chris. Hey. I think my water broke.”

The contractions were steady and slow to build, far more obvious than my fake ones while being tolerable enough for me to take a shower. We headed off to the hospital at a leisurely pace.

Once there, the nurses told me my doctor instructed them to give me Pitocin to speed along the labor process. Convinced that my labor was proceeding just fine on its own, thank you very much, I pushed back. I wasn’t rushing my labor because the doctor wanted to go home early. “Ask him if it’s medically necessary. I don’t want it if it’s not medically necessary.”

While they waited for him to respond, they confined me to the bed for monitoring. Every contraction made me twist in pain. The main reason I didn’t want an epidural is because I wanted to be able to move around. Because epidurals numb the lower half of your body, you’re stuck in the bed once you get one. Every minute in the bed was the worst.

Finally, the nurses returned. I didn’t need the Picotin after all. Good riddance.

I started pacing the hallways, fending off the pain with a series of moans. As I walked, the anaestheiologist – a dude, of course – commented, “It won’t be long until she calls me.” I took that as a personal challenge.

Instead of drugs, I bounced on the yoga ball like a maniac and clutched my teddy bear so tight I’m surprised the stuffing didn’t pop out. For eight full hours.

Suddenly, the urge to push flooded my system. I screamed “The baby is coming!!” at Chris. Any and all lessons I learned from prenatal yoga promptly abandoned me.

But the doctor wasn’t there yet and the nurses had stepped out. I believed I was going to give birth with only Chris in the room, but he talked me down, in the ever-narrowing moments between contractions.

The nurses eventually meandered back in, checked me, and declared it wasn’t time to push yet. “What?!” My eyes almost bugged out of my head Wiley E. Coyote-style. “Are you sure?” A couple minutes later, they were sure.

The first push came with a rib-cage rattling scream. The nurse scolded me, saying, “Use that energy to push!” So the next time and the one after that, I choked it back. I swallowed and channeled everything into getting that baby out.

Ten minutes later, my son emerged into the world. He cried and then calmed down, taking in the new world around him. We had just become parents.

What was your experience becoming a parent?

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Science Adventures: Feathers

Photo: Black feather on multi-colored gravel. Text: "Science Adventures: Feathers; We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

This post explores the biology and ecology of feathers. It’s part of a series I’m doing on using everyday situations to help young kids explore science – particularly ecology and biology – more in depth. 

The opportunity:
With birds winging their way south for the winter, it’s the perfect time to investigate their most unique trait: feathers. Find a feather on the ground to examine it!

The scientific context:
While feathers are unique to birds these days, they’ve been around for far longer. Unlike when I was a kid, scientists now think that many dinosaurs had feathers as well. Although they didn’t fly, dinosaurs’ feathers probably served many of the same purposes bird feathers do today.

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The Hardest Part of Parenting Two Kids

Text: "The Hardest Part of Parenting Two Kids; We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So" Picture: Baby on floor and older brother leaning over him

I have high standards – so high that they often exceed the limitations of space and time. No other time has that ever been more apparent than in parenting two children.

Before Little Bird entered the picture, I believed – despite it being impossible – that I could be there for Sprout all the time. When I wasn’t at work, I made every effort to be as present as possible. I limited missing bedtime to once a month, minimized the number of date nights, and rarely traveled for work. I even scheduled my prenatal yoga during his naptime in hopes of missing as little time as possible with him. When I was spending time with Sprout, I did my best to focus on him and him alone. I was determined that if I was going to be gone from 8 AM to 6 PM five days a week I was damn well going to be present the rest of the time.

All of that changed with Little Bird.

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What I’ve Been Reading

A home-made apple pie.

My mother-in-law made apple pie with Sprout last weekend. But doesn’t it look hilariously angry?

We’ve been running on not much around here, between the start of preschool, potty training, lack of naps, and teething (not all the same kid, obviously). Lately, I’ve been reading about getting kids outside, how to raise kind children, and badass women.

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On the Bus and Down the Rabbit Hole: Philadelphia’s Please Touch Children’s Museum

Photo: Picture of Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland and big card; text: "Philadelphia's Please Touch Children's Museum; We'll Eat You Up, We Love You So"

The heavy lion statues in front of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia belie the raucous energy of the smallest visitors inside. Visiting Philly for our friends’ wedding, we made a full trip of it and visited both the Liberty Bell and this renowned children’s museum. (We’re working our way through the children’s museums of the Northeast U.S.) Despite some whining, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The museum is split into several sections, each of which focuses on a childhood theme: transportation, construction, water, fairy tales, and pretending to be an adult.

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Six Months with Little Bird in Our Lives


Despite his nickname, Little Bird has always strived to be big. When he was inside me, he wouldn’t just kick, he’d stretch, his feet jamming into my organs. He arrived 3 1/2 weeks early, scrambling out into the world unexpectedly. Now he’s been with us for more than six months, a half-year full of so many changes.

When Little Bird arrived, he was a peanut, just over five pounds. As Sprout said, “He’s so teeny tiny!” Because he hadn’t gained most of the fat babies do in their last weeks in utero, his wrinkly face looked especially old-mannish.

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