Sunday, October 26, 2014

Some days.

Some days are really awesome.  Naps time out perfectly, kids are happy, you get time to clean and time (30 whole minutes!) to look at Pinterest :). On those same days, you also get all the way downstairs with your crew and outside, only to realize that you've left your shopping list in the kitchen and are walking down the street in your slippers.

Do you think I turned back?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Harvest Festival

Lua has been taking a few classes this fall and one of them is the Dance Project of Washington Heights.  It is a 'by donation' class and, by far, Lua's favorite.  Last weekend, our neighborhood hosted a Harvest Festival and Lua's dance class was invited to dance in a "parade" around the park!  Lua was so excited:)

And then she wasn't so excited...

Until we found her teacher, Miss Heather!

We were joined by our dear friend, Simon and his mama, Ashley:)  Simon didn't like Lua leaving him to dance!  I don't have any pics of the actual parade, because it was pretty crowded and Lua insisted on me walking next to her the ENTIRE way (pushing the stroller and carrying her sister).  Ah well.

After the parade, we got to have some fun at the Festival!

I'm starting to feel more and more like a functioning human some days (this day was one of them).  And on the days when I feel just like a machine that goes through the motions of being a teacher, janitor, milk maker, cop, chef...something like this happens at the end of the day that just fills my little heart and reminds me that we're going to be okay.

I was getting the girls ready for bed and I was tired.  And irritated.  And tired.  Andrew was gone a lot last week and I missed him, Lua missed him and we just all get along better when daddy is here to pick up some of the playtime-always-on-the-move-i-ness that Lua throws down.
Esmé was getting cranky and yelling to be picked up, Lua was STILL eating supper and jumping on the bed (not at the same time) and "helping" her sister learn to roll over.  She spilled something on the floor and I stomped off to the kitchen to grab a towel.  I came back to this.  The girls were talking to each other.  Esmé was babbling and Lua was telling her a story and holding her hand and they were just so....sister-y.  I love it.  How could I be upset?

Have a great night, everyone!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Short and sweet.

Two things:

1. She is so scrumptious. 
2.  Where did that middle aged lady come from?

Hope you are all enjoying Autumn!  We are spending the day picnicking in Central Park!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

3rd Annual Cao Family Trip to the Amazing Maize Maze!

So, I know we didn't make it last year, but we've been going to the Queens County Farm Museum every year since Lua was born.  See our very first trip here :)

This year we went as a family of FOUR! and were joined by our dear friends Becca, Audra and her adorable babe, Hugo!  It was just about the perfect day.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The baby ladies...

Can you really tell nature vs. nurture?  Are these two girls so incredibly different at this age because they just ARE, or are Andrew and I doing something crazily different?

We started out just the same with Ez as we did with Lua, waiting for my milk to come in and dealing with about a week of a supremely hungry (and fussy) baby.  Even weeks two and three were a bit rough. She wouldn't let me put her down, wouldn't let anyone else hold her...I thought we were in for another high needs baby (not that there's anything wrong with that...!).

 And then, after the first few weeks of figuring out the whole, "I'm out in the world and able to cry and breath and see!" thing, which was a bit (scary/crazy/sob-filled) rough, Esmé  blossomed into this dreamy, zen babe.  She sleeps!  She is delicate and talkative and just so amiable!  We walked the city all day yesterday without so much as a peep and every time Andrew looked at her, she busted out this big, gummy grin:) 

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, or I write any further, know that I fully expect this to end at some point, maybe tonight, so you can just shut-it with the, Wait until a sleep regression's and your smug, YA, you say that nooowww's.  I know we may lose this.  I know it, and I'm okay with it.  Just let me roll around in the big pile of happy that is my second baby for a bit, will ya?!

Lua came out with a thick skin and a loud voice.  She slept in 1 hour naps all night until she was almost two.  She is wildly funny and smart.  She is emotional, passionate, eager.  She experiences feelings very intensely - be that shyness, happiness or anger;)  Or am I just describing your typical 3 year old?  Is Esmé just your typical second baby?

I've asked myself that a lot lately.  Because, inherent in having a second baby is the, also having to tend to the needs of your first baby, thing.  Inevitably, Esmé has cried a little more - waiting on the floor while I wipe her sister's nose - and has had to figure out how to be soothed with little more than an, "it's ok, baby!" from mama.  Lua never waited for ANYTHING.  I think I probably tried to hold her for the first 9 months of her life:)  Though, there's another big difference.  Lua didn't really like being held 24/7.  She loved to face out, ride in the stroller, etc.  She was an explorer like that.  Esmé startles easily and would rather be worn in a sling than ever ride in a stroller.

My pregnancies were different for sure.  Lua's was super easy.  While I was tired and a bit pukey-feeling, I only actually puked twice (ask me the story about swallowing in a subway tunnel someday) and was able to work all the way through.  I was managing an animal shelter at the time and there were many stressful days and many sleepless nights.  I felt connected to the pregnancy, but more in a look at how freakish this thing looks! kind of way.  I was rough on my body.  I ate poorly, exercised less and, honestly, felt a little more than weirded out the first time I felt Lua move.  Esmé guessed it...different!  From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I was puking.  All day, every day.  We're talking a good two months where I barely got off the couch.  As miserable as I was, I was still eating healthy and doing what little exercise I could.  Mostly, trying to keep up with a 2 year old (while puking).   And this could be inherent with all second babies, but I felt closer this time and more connected from the get-go.

I, of course, could also be looking at my tiny, happy baby being helplessly "snuggled," "patted" and "mama, I'm just going to touch her eye"-ed by my crazy-active kid, and that could be leading me a little more in the they are so different direction;).  I guess only time will tell!

I do adore them both and am amazed every day at what beautiful souls I've been blessed with to raise!

ps....that's me under there;)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On the night you were born...Esmé Aurora's birth story.

So, we (and, when I say that, I mean, "I") spent a whole lot of time figuring out how and where we were going to have this baby.  If you want to have a home birth in NYC, unless you have fantastic insurance or a whole lot of extra cash, it's not super easy.  I had a midwife and then all of a sudden the insurance decided it would only pay a fraction of what they said they had.   Like, 1/8th as much.  

At one point, I was certain I was going to have to deliver in a hospital and, well, to be honest, a hospital birth in NYC really, really scares me.  I was lucky enough to have Lua at a birthing center with little/no need for intervention and so the thought of being hooked up and poked and prodded  just seemed humiliating and terrifying, to say the least.  During this "what are we going to do" period, I really and truly thought about just doing it on my own - a free birth -which is pretty dangerous and I don't recommend.  I remember, with Lua's birth (read her story here), I went deeply into myself and didn't want anyone, not even Andrew, around.  I am a pretty independent lady and for both my babies, I half joked that I'd love nothing more than to, when it was time, walk out into the woods and come back with a baby.  Little did I know that, with Esmé, I would come pretty close!

Monday, June 30th - "due date"

Saturday, July 5th- 

10pm - After eating super-healthy, home-cooked meals all week (my mom was in town), Mom, Lua and I splurged on Famiglia Pizza and some fantastic gelato on the Upper West Side.

11pm - Maybe a cramp or two?  Andrew got home from the show.  I decided to take a shower, braid my hair, put make-up on (Ya. I did that. Don't you dare judge.)

Midnight - We decided to get some sleep. 

At this point, I'm pretty sure something was happening.  Contractions were regular and anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute.  With second babies, you think you would know, "Ok.  I'm at transition, " or, "There's still a ways to go," or, "Holy Shit I'm ready to push!" (ok, maybe you know that last one when it happens:).  But, I was so much more present and prepared - I actually took a birth class this time, guys! - that I wasn't sure exactly what was going on.  I felt good.  And calm.  And ready.  I was able to smile and breath through contractions until about 2:30am, when I woke Andrew.

Sunday, July 6th-

2:30am - I'm pretty sure it's because I was so calm and I woke him out of a deep sleep, but Andrew for sure told me to go back to bed!  Little did either of us know that Esmé would be coming in less than two hours:)  I was like, "ummmmmm, nah dawg. this is for shizzle. get yo punk ass up".  Or, something to that effect.

3am - Andrew called the midwife and her assistant.  They were 30 minutes away.  I spoke with them through a few contractions, so they could get a feel for where I was in labor.   Usually, midwives are very good at recognizing the sounds of active labor, but I guess I was confusing everyone with my zen-like-awesomeness:)  The assistant asks me, "So, is this the call that means we should come? Or is this the call just to tell us where things are at?"  At that point, I remember being a little (super duper) annoyed.  Like, "ladies, this is YOUR JOB.  YOU TELL ME WHERE I'M AT."  But you'd never be able to tell from this photo!

After I got off the phone with the midwives, who had decided to pack up and come on down, I remembered a bit of advice from birth class.  Peeing is good!  A full bladder can make contractions painful.  I'd also been lying down this entire time and I felt like my labor with Lua was 12 hours, in part, due to the fact that I was completely still in the tub for most of it.  So, to the bathroom!  BUT THEN THERE WAS THE SHAKING.  Any other mamas experience this? I mean, like, uncontrollable shaking.  It wasn't painful, but made me super tense and was super annoying.  Going from the depths of a contraction directly into the shakes is no fun.  And a great way to kill the zen.  And this, I suspect, was transition. No more screwing around.

3:30am - After one failed attempt at a potty break, my mom and I finally make it.  Andrew has begun the process of filling up the birth tub, because, God Bless Him, he knows from last time how much I loved the tub.  I swear, just the sound of the water filling in the next room was blissfully relaxing.

4:00am - While the tub was filling, Andrew was able to sneak around the corner to snap some pictures.  I'm secretly holding the baby in at this point.  He's able to stay with me for the next contraction.

4:15am - During this contraction my water breaks.  Then the midwives are on the phone with Andrew trying to figure out parking and which elevator to take and stupid stuff that only happens in the city and I wish he would've just hung up on them, but what are you going to do?  He runs downstairs to let them in, and...

Next contraction - Her head comes down and crowns.  My mom is there and helps me sit forward on the toilet.  She doesn't believe it.  I don't believe it.  I am somehow able to slowly breath her head out (zero tears, people!).  We sit there, together, stunned and wait for the next contraction.

4:20am - Andrew comes around the corner with the midwife's assistant in time for the next contraction, shoulders and body.  

She's here!  The midwife finally makes it in and helps us to the floor.

Eventually, we wrap our heads around what just happened (Andrew kept saying, "that was so easy!") and head into the bedroom for all the cleaning up and eating breakfast and celebrating.  Lua woke up around 7am.  Yes! She slept through it ALL.  She was so very excited....about the princess stuff we had purchased the night before:)  I happened to be in the bathroom when she woke up and she ran in to get me and brought me back to the bedroom to show me the new baby.  Yeah, kid.  I know.

Some cute, interesting, weird facts:
*Esmé was technically born at 4:20am and shares her birth date with our two, loveable, wonderful, pot-head friends:)

*My midwife had encouraged me to write down my ideal birth.  I had written down that I didn't want her to be there.  I wrote that I wanted labor to be 4 hours.  I wrote that I wanted to labor through the night and give birth in the wee hours and have Lua sleep through it all.  To be able to cuddle in bed with my new family and have breakfast is what I wanted - and got!

*For two days after the birth, we used the birth tub as a swimming pool for Lua:)

*I ate my placenta raw this time (in smoothie form).  Last time I had it encapsulated and I would absolutely recommend fresh.

*Arnica tablets are the bomb-diggity.  

*Much different than with Lua, I was PREPARED for this labor.  Laborade, birth music, stretches, exercises, birth ball, labor food, tub, oils, candles.....and I used approximately NONE of it!

Like I said before, I'm a really independent gal.  For both births, but especially with Esmé's, I really felt a strong sense of it just being the two of us (me and Ez).  I still can't look at these pictures or any of the videos without feeling a tiny bit of....oh, I wish it were just me, alone....?  Is that totally crazy?  It is such an intimate experience.  One that I even feel weird sharing with my husband.  You would think, I'm such a fan of oversharing, that I wouldn't mind who was in the room - this is why one-million people were invited to Lua's birth.  But, I quickly realized there is something so so different when you're actually IN IT.  

Don't get me wrong, it was just about as perfect as could be with only my mama and baby daddy present:)  What a fantastic gift to be able to have my baby safely, in the comforts of my own home, surrounded by my family.  

I'm also glad to be able to finally write and share my birth stories with all of you!  Thanks for reading!