Monday, June 29, 2009

The Littlest Arbuckle's Terrific, Overwhelming, Very Good and First Adventure into the World

It was a cool summer morning on Natalie Viann's due date--June 24th--when contractions began that were consistent and significant in length. After an hour or so of unchanged circumstances, I decided to delay going into work, hoping, praying, wishing that these were signals that little Miss Natalie (who in our opinion was already two days late---both Ethan and Meira came two days before their due dates) was excited and ready to meet us face to face.

Alas, after another hour or so there was little change in the intensity of the contractions and I was feeling that even if it was going to be today, it wasn't going to be anytime soon. Little Miss Natalie had already given me a few false starts in the last two or three weeks so I was expecting baby #3 to be unlike any previous labor. So, I went into work. Trey went with me and read outside my office in case we had to make a mad dash home. The hours faded by and the contractions went with them.

Thursday came and went. Few contractions if any graced my bulging belly all day. Then, at 7:30PM they started to return, coming and going at about the same pace as Wednesday until about 1oPM, when they pretty much ceased to exist.

Defeated, I went to bed.

Somewhat elated I awoke at 1AM with more contractions that were on again/off again like a bad high school relationship. I fell asleep and woke up at 6:30AM not able to sleep through the disruptive but seemingly unproductive contractions. These fickle little pains that wrapped themselves around my mid-section continued most of the morning. Having spoken with my midwife, Erin, I knew that she wanted me to call her when my contractions had been consistent for an hour--5 minutes apart and 45 seconds long each. Finally, around 1PM they had met that criteria.

Erin arrived, we checked my status and prepared ourselves for labor to progress. We waited. I folded laundry. We waited. Trey and I threw the frisbee in the backyard "froggie style." (Explanatory note by the editor: this involved squatting and leaping in an attempt to intensify the effect of gravity. Strange, I know, but we were determined that another day would not pass be spent in waiting.) We waited. I made some brownies (good labor fuel). The contractions remained constant but did not increase in intensity, speed, or frequency.

Around 4:30PM we talked through potentially breaking my water since contractions were not slowing and I was already dilated at 6; it seemed that might push me over the edge. Trey and I talked about it, prayed about it and then we just started trying to naturally induce. Feet rubbing. Jumping jacks. Squats. You get the idea. A few rounds of those and I started to feel like the contractions were taking more of my breath away. I asked Erin to "check"my status. I had dilated further! I was ecstatic and extremely chatty! They continued to be more intense like this until about 5:50 when I started to feel the desire to push. So, I hopped on the bed and prepared for the toughest part--delivery. With Trey at my side, blotting my head with a cool rag and encouraging me through every contraction and push, we worked. A painful and fatiguing forty minutes later, Natalie arrived screaming with her eyes wide open and pouting--that little lower lip garnering all the sympathy it could for the entrance she had just made. It was absolutely amazing. This was probably the most challenging and exhausting labor I have had. But, ironically, I have never been so relaxed during labor at the same time. I cannot imagine having spent all that time laboring at the hospital. I would have missed out on the brownies! In seriousness, the LORD knew just the right place for her to be born and perfected our circumstances. He is GOOD!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 1: Some of the Many Faces of Natalie Viann

Daddy and his newest girl.

About an hour old!

Chatting with mom...

Surrendered to sweet sleep!

No pictures, please.

Here she is, folks! We tried to capture some of her personality in just these few pictures in her first hours of life. She is always making little faces--contorting her mouth in all kinds of new dimensions. She especially likes to lick the air. I think that is reminiscent of her feasting on amniotic fluid in utero. Now, it just looks kinda funny.

Enjoy. More to come, of course!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

To Cloth Diaper or Not....

I typically "check in" with the lady who blogs at She is interesting, gifted in domesticity and has free, worthwhile giveaways on her blog. If you not visited her site yet, you definitely, definitely, definitely should. Two days ago, I read or rather viewed this post about cloth diapering. If ever you have been intimidated by the process of cloth diapering, this video will change your perspective and make it seem a lot more friendly and a lot less yucky.

Today, I read this post and my interest in cloth diapering has been further renewed. I can't say for sure that we will be going ahead with this but I do think that I will start making my own wipes solution and I already have a ton of baby washcloths that I NEVER use which could easily be converted into bum wipes.... so how's that for saving money? In fact, with all this attempted potty training we've been doing with Meira, I am thinking maybe we'll just infant potty train little Miss Natalie Viann. The technical term is "Elimination Communication." Then, all three kids will be potty training (technically, Ethan is just "in training" at night so we are third of the way there to the land of the diaper-free!) and we'll be out of diapers in no time! Take that Huggies, Pampers, LUVS, et al! 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Exiled to English

"I was in the People’s Liberation Army in the 1970s, and we soldiers had always been instructed that our principal task was to serve and protect the people. So when the Chinese military turned on the students in Tiananmen Square, it shocked me so much that for weeks I was in a daze.

At the time, I was in the United States, finishing a dissertation in American literature. My plan was to go back to China once it was done. I had a teaching job waiting for me at Shandong University.

After the crackdown, some friends assured me that the Communist Party would admit its mistake within a year. I couldn’t see why they were so optimistic. I also thought it would be foolish to wait passively for historical change. I had to find my own existence, separate from the state power in China.

That was when I started to think about staying in America and writing exclusively in English, even if China was my only subject, even if Chinese was my native tongue. It took me almost a year to decide to follow the road of Conrad and Nabokov and write in a language that was not my own. I knew I might fail. I was also aware that I was forgoing an opportunity: the Chinese language had been so polluted by revolutionary movements and political jargon that there was great room for improvement.

Yet if I wrote in Chinese, my audience would be in China and I would therefore have to publish there and be at the mercy of its censorship. To preserve the integrity of my work, I had no choice but to write in English.

To some Chinese, my choice of English is a kind of betrayal. But loyalty is a two-way street. I feel I have been betrayed by China, which has suppressed its people and made artistic freedom unavailable. I have tried to write honestly about China and preserve its real history. As a result, most of my work cannot be published in China.

I cannot leave behind June 4, 1989, the day that set me on this solitary path. The memory of the bloodshed still rankles, and working in this language has been a struggle. But I remind myself that both Conrad and Nabokov suffered intensely for choosing English — and that literature can transcend language. If my work is good and significant, it should be valuable to the Chinese."

Ha Jin is the author of “A Free Life” and “Waiting.”