Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Curse of Imaginary Friends

Writing fiction means falling in love with people who don't exist.  It means devoting your time and tears to helping imaginary people conquer their outward problems and inner demons.  You must both love and loathe your characters or they fall flat.  If you only love them, they become nothing but paper doll Mary Sues.  If you only hate them, they become unsympathetic, shallow villains with no reasonable motivations driving their horrendous actions.  Your characters are an extension of your psyche, a glimpse into the inner workings of your mind.  They are your oldest friends and your worst enemies.  They are you.  You have reached deep into your soul and yanked out a hidden manifestation of yourself.  An that can be downright terrifying when you put your soul on display by showing your writing to others.

It can be infuriating to fall in love with an idea.  You create your ideal friends and enemies, but they remain figments forever out of reach.  You dream of them at night and imagine how they would react in your various day-to-day situations.  They become real people inside your head because you know that is the only way they become real to your reader.  As you write, you slowly learn even more about them.  Their quirks, both endearing and intolerable, become apparent.  They gain experience and therefore sometimes react differently than you would expect upon encountering new situations.  They change your own perspective.  Some people in your tangible life become a bit more one-dimensional, or perhaps just more opaque since you cannot see their thoughts the same way as you can root around in the brains of your imaginary friends.  You don't know what they are thinking, so you imagine.  Your tangible friends become inspirations for new imaginary friends.

I love my imaginary friends, even though all of them occasionally deserve to be punched in the face.  I love Sevilen's bookish eccentricity, Lani's vulnerability, Faron's quirky sense of humor, Ember's inner strength, Tesji's innocence, Rastaban's devotion to those he loves, and Dacibrega's reluctant willingness to overcome his/her flaws.  I can only hope I successfully translated my visions of them into words.  Even if I didn't, I still want to invite them over for a party, a la the end of Labyrinth.  Rhodren can sit in the corner whining to Ray about the dust on the shelves while Dia charms everyone to the rhythms of Tesji's sitar.  If that makes me a touch insane, I don't care.

Gratuitous kitty shot.  They don't care if I'm nuts as long as I feed them. 

The Aulor

This is an excerpt from my first draft of
Absolution.  I'll finish it someday, I promise.

The stars above illuminated the tranquil water below, infinite and ancient fireflies dancing within the subtle waves. The stars were never so bright before the world fell, and they were veiled for a long time after as well. Volcanoes and ash and meteor strikes, the beloved children of Wildfire, had left the sky dark and the ground sooty for a decade after she succumbed to her own flames. It was a ruined world, but strangely beautiful, and everywhere, once magnificent cities were being devoured by nature and time. Nature was not the realm of the Aulor, but time was.
He was a young Aulor, maybe one hundred years old, maybe a little more, but he had chosen to lose track of the years since they did not matter so much anymore. Some Aulors had perfect sense of time, but he didn't, and was glad for it. Years only reminded him of the things he lost, the friends who fell to their age, and the children who grew elderly as he remained constant. He was a phantom, dancing lightly through time while time never danced with him in return. The curse of an Aulor was to never age, never grow old, but also to always love and always be hurt because of it.
The inky black and starry mist saturated his skin until he was coated in a dark embrace. They painted him with their glittering light. It was the space between the stars which intrigued him, the nihility of oblivion, but he tried not to think about why. It still stung his heart to remember, so he focused on the brightness of the stars instead of the vast nothingness embracing them.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another Sick Day

My son is curled up on the couch, pretending to nurse his baby doll.  Every once in a while, he strokes her head or kisses her.  He's wearing Cars pajamas and has a purple bow in his hair.  He stole it from the bathroom drawer and asked me to put it in his hair.  He smiles at me, but I can tell he's not feeling well.  His right eye is stained crimson from a ruptured capillary and his temperature occasionally spikes as high as 103.  He's having chills, but he is still cuddling his baby doll.  He won't let me touch him.  I know his skin is hypersensitive because of the fever, so I let him decide when he wants contact.

Meanwhile, my daughter is content in her bouncy seat.  She bats at a dangling toucan and giggles at her reflection in the mirror.  She wears a football-themed sleeper, but her features are undeniably feminine.  I usually dress her in her brother's old clothes and leave her peach fuzz hair unadorned, but no one has ever tried to call her a boy unless her face isn't showing.  Right now, she is happy and healthy and I hope my milk is protecting her from this flu.  I tried to give her brother some in a sippy, but he will only drink it if he is desperately thirsty.  I think it's a little strange considering he only weaned three months ago, at the age of twenty-three months.

I spend today in a state of waiting.  Waiting for my son to start feeling better.  Waiting to call the collision shop so I can get the car repaired (I backed into my neighbor's car in November after she parked it too close to the end of our driveway in a blind spot), waiting for my friend to come over so I can help feed another baby.  I have 257oz of milk in my freezer for her.  My little girl has helped me donate 400oz so far and she's only eleven weeks old.  When I'm feeling down about not being able to fit in my clothes or my itchy stretch marks, I remember that and it makes me feel a bit lighter.  So what if my body isn't perfect when it can do such amazing things?  It can grow, birth, and feed babies.  It can snuggle them when they are sick.  It can chase them when they try to run away at the park.  It can hug them when they need reassurance.

My son's fever has broken again and he's now in the corner playing with his cars.  He is both nurturing and traditionally boyish.  I encourage him to express his interests, just as I will encourage my daughter when she is old enough to be interested in things other than faces.  If they want to dance, they can dance.  If they want be singers, or physicists, or doctors, that is fine.  I don't care if they want to wear pants or dresses, or if the people they love end up being men, women, or somewhere in between.  They never have to hide because they will grow up knowing I'll love them no matter who they are.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cast of Characters

While sandwiched between a sickling and a milk fiend, I compiled a partial list of characters in The Abyssal Night.  I still have a flu headache, so hopefully I make a little bit of sense.

Lunamar, Ganebra
Rastaban Achara Eryaucra  - the mentally unstable young king of Ganebra.  His secrets define his kingdom.
Sevilen Achara - Rastaban's younger brother.  Bookish, narcoleptic, and awkward, he is appointed Chancellor of Ganebra at the beginning of the trilogy.
Adelia Samaris - Rastaban's wife and the former Crown Princess of Maritor.
Lucienus Narsimor - a member of the king's Council.
Lirit Narsimor -a young Ganebran girl, daughter of Lucienus.
Tordian Keltau - malicious Commander of the Ganebran military.

Western Malora
Rhodren Briarwind - a young man from Heren, Maritor.  He possesses no apparent magical talents.  He is a bit obsessive-compulsive, rebellious, and narcissistic, and has auditory-tactile synesthesia.
Sharo Briarwind - Rhodren's mother, a baker.
Gazelle - a Geophorian priest and refugee from Fruithill, Maritor.  Rhodren's would-be love interest.
Tempo Aulani - Elder leader of Cascades, Rashomanon.

Eastern Malora
Ember - a fire priest from Reedwater, Anor.  She has difficulty controlling her abilities on her own.
Moth - a priest with a wind talent.  Ember's husband.  He also has difficulty controlling his talent, but he and Ember subdue and balance each other.
Echo - a Anoran priest who recalls the memories of others at the expense of his own.
Howl - Echo's silent spouse.  Her voice is deadly.
Lore - Howl and Echo's infant daughter.
Rain - Elder leader of Moonhaven, Lusifal.
Ray - Rain's teenage son.  Possesses a talent for light manipulation.

In Sickness and Promotions

The flu is running rampant in my house.  I had it on Saturday, my son has it today, and my husband has been dealing with it for four straight days now.  Our weekend was shot and I had to leave two very needy kids with my sick husband so I could go play timpani an orchestra concert (where I wrote "Star Baby" on the back of a business card during a tacit movement of Water Music).  Today we are surviving by cuddling on the couch with Sesame Street on the TV.  My poor son's eyes are bloodshot, but his fever is down for now.

So, in celebration of surviving a particularly lousy weekend, I've decided to do a promotion.  The Abyssal Night will be free on Amazon on March 1st and 2nd.  Download it, read it, tell me what you think, and I will be very grateful for your time.  Thanks to the free Kindle reader apps, you don't even need a Kindle to read it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Star Baby

Star baby, water baby, who are you, little girl?
You look like me and came from me, but you are not me.
You are a dreamer already, but what are your dreams?
Is there music in your soul, or physics, or poetry?
Do you wish to soar through the universe,
Or would you rather stay closer to home?
I'll help you either way, my star baby, my water baby,
I'll help you find your dreams and make them your reality.
Your future belongs to you and I am just your guide.
Sleep now, sweet baby, and dream your favorite dreams.
Weave your dreams, my baby, let me rock you to sleep.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Scrawled Notes

I'm big on hand-writing parts of my books.  In the case of Mayfly Requiem, it is the entire book that is hand-written.  There is something primal to be found in scrawling pages and pages of nearly illegible words.  I knew from the initial idea for Mayfly that it needed to be handwritten to be effective.  It is a confession, written in the candlelight by a broken man on the edge of a breakdown.   The interludes are written to Dia, but the main story is written to someone else, someone who is the reason Lani carries so much regret.  It is both an apology and a warning.

This is one of the pages from my original draft of Mayfly Requiem.  I actually changed very little during my edits.  Lani carries the habits of many eras and I wanted his language to reflect his past.  I filled two large journal-style notebooks in four months, and then I had to transcribe and edit it.  That part took longer than the initial draft.  The work is never done when you finish the first draft, or the second.

Echoes of Oblivion was originally a short story.  That short story quickly became a single book.  When I finished the first couple of edits, it came in at 300,000 words.  Using the rule of 250 words per page, I ended up with a mere 1200 pages.  I knew it had to be split, but it took me a bit of thought to figure out where the logical splits were.  To me, there were obvious first, second, and third acts, but those did not lend to an even break.  I kept the first act as is and moved the start of the third act back about a hundred pages.  I wanted to end Shards of Chaos with a bit of hope instead of a death.  That meant the immediate introduction of a new character at the start of The Shattered Veil.

I scrawled 180 pages of notes in a couple of 6x9 notebooks for Echoes of Oblivion.  Most of it is jotted scenes, bits of dialogue, and interesting sentences I had to write down as soon as I thought of them.  The order is completely chaotic since I composed the notes as they came to mind while I was also writing the book in chronological order.  Also in my notebooks are diagrams and rules for ineku, family trees, and Kirak and Volle dictionaries.  The below page is part of my Volle dictionary before I typed it into a spreadsheet.
This is how I normally write and keep my thoughts organized.  They probably wouldn't make any sense to anyone else who read them, but they don't need to.  This last page is from my notes for my work in progress, Absolution.  On the left is part of my runestone collection (I even have a clay set I made to play with), which Dacibrega and Onyx both use throughout the story.  On the right is part of a conversation between Dacibrega, Bethel, and Onyx about those runestones.  I am about 2/3 of the way through the book and have the rest plotted out, but I need to finish writing it.  I'm not exactly having trouble with the story, but instead I'm having other issues while writing it.  I wrote the first third and had to stop because Mayfly Requiem needed to be written, then I wrote the second third and got pregnant with my daughter so my brain shut off for a while due to lack of sleep and nausea.  I don't want it to stay a work in progress forever, so I plan to dive back into it after I get The Crystal Lattice in working order.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Musings on a Windy Day

I am afraid of myself.  When I set my books free, I exposed my soul.  I am naked for the world to judge.  I am tough, but I am not sure how tough.  I have not had any critics yet, but there is always someone eager to dissect, analyze, and berate everything ever written.  I must not crumble if my thoughts are ripped apart.  I must see any harsh words as suggestions for improvement and not.  My writing may be fiction, but it is undeniably me -- my thoughts, my imaginary friends and adversaries brought to life, my demons splattered upon a pristine page.  A writer must wear plate armor so her inner demons do not injure her as they rush into the world with claws aloft.

No matter what, I will always be able to call myself a writer.  I am not aspiring, I have written.  I set forth on an uncertain journey, and although I am far from its conclusion, I have completed the quests I laid on my own head.  At some point I had to stop editing and say to myself, "That was the last word I am changing.  This task is complete."  I am now working toward completion for the fifth time.  Then I must move on to the sixth, which is a 2/3 complete first draft with some brutal demons of its own to overcome.  Then what next?  A fork in the road.  I can see it.  With Absolution I finally reach the end of the Malora quest line and must choose to go left or right into the next world of my creation.

I revisit my old inspirations as I rewrite The Crystal Lattice.  Some creatures were inspired by food that rotted in my refrigerator during a multi-day power outage during the summer of 2003, the summer I started writing my first book.  There are characters inspired by people who I loathed so much that just hearing their names made me angry.  And in the middle of everything is a narrator inspired by a narcoleptic daydream I had while hiking in the Ozarks alone.  These are snapshots of my life as a twenty-one year old.  I matured with my character and found he was a different person at the end than he was at the beginning, the way all good characters should be.  I am rewriting his words but keeping the heart of who he is -- an innocent and naive creature who must find his own path in his world or always be left aspiring and doing nothing of interest.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mommy Cookies

I get so many requests for my vegan lactation cookie recipe, so I figured I'd post it publicly so that all the moms out there can use it.  And hey, it's not just for lactating moms!  My husband and son love these things.  No, they have not lactated as a result.  They are just tasty cookies with lots of stuff in them to help support lactation.  They are dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, and can be soy-free depending on what non-dairy options you pick.  They might not work for all women since everyone responds differently to galactagogues, but they work for me.

Vegan No-Bake Lactation Cookies

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I've used soy, rice, and almond successfully)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanut butter (the natural all-peanut kind)
1/2 cup vegan margarine (Earth balance works well and comes in a soy-free variety as well)
1 Tsp vanilla
3 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2-4 Tbsp brewer's yeast

Combine oatmeal, flax seed, and brewer's yeast in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, combine non-dairy milk, sugar, cocoa, peanut butter, and margarine.  Stir over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Boil mixture for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add vanilla.  Pour chocolate mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir well to combine.  Drop cookies onto a cookie sheet or wax paper to cool or refrigerate until cookies are firm and no longer sticky.

I've played with a couple of variations on this recipe recently that turned out well. Replacing the peanut butter with another nut butter like almond or hazelnut is tasty. I also tried adding a scoop of vegan protein powder to the oatmeal mix before adding in the heated liquid mixture, and that also turned out well. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Stitches

Everything must contain a minimum of three pieces of cat hair.

This is a hat I'm working on for a friend about to start chemo.  It's slow-going since I keep getting distracted by kids and books.  I have about 12 rows left.  It's a slow pattern since it's all in sc, but I really like the durability of sc fabric.  It's nice getting back into productivity after months of pregnancy-induced swelling and nerve problems in my arms and fingers.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Entering the Crystalline

The ocean sings to me. The deserts, the wind, the rivers whisper to my soul. The mountains and forests beckon to me, but they are not my masters. I listen to the fire above all else. Starfire and kindling, candlelight and infernos. I am not a disciple of fire – I am fire. I am wings of flame and sparks on the wind, dampened only by the bitter winter rain and the coldness of an empty universe. I close my eyes and see only waterfalls of flame and molten rock. I breathe deeply of the ash and char to refresh my spirit and subdue my elemental nature. I open my eyes and return to a far more serene place, the cool and calm world of my physical home. -- The Crystal Lattice
I am finding this opening chapter to be a bit tedious, so I've made the intro a little more interesting I hope.  I wrote the first draft when I was twenty-one and I'd like to think my writing skills have improved since then.  This isn't just an edit, it's a complete overhaul.  I'm still in the first chapter because I've altered over half of the sentences.  The story remains the same, the words are different.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Visiting Paradise and Poverty

I guess I've done a lot while neglecting this blog.  I spent a little time in Central America over the summer, so here are a couple of pictures.  My toddler needs some attention so I'm only putting up four.
Kohunlich.  I was about 17 weeks pregnant.

Roatan, Honduras

A cemetery in Belize City.  Notice the lizard on the tomb.  The poorest people live closest to the cemeteries.


Someday, I won't have to wonder if there is vomit in my hair or on my shirt when I go to the grocery store.
Someday, I will take a shower without seeing tiny hands and noses pressed up against the glass.
Someday, I will be able to use the bathroom without hearing, "Mommy!  Look!  Look, Mommy!"
Someday, I will be able to take my family in public without worrying about my son running amok and yelling "Boobs!" as loud as his little lungs will let him.
Someday, my daughter won't cry when she is hungry, but will use words instead.
Someday, I will perform my last diaper change and pack the fluff away in favor of colorful underwear.
Someday, my children will decide they no longer need me to cuddle them to sleep in my bed in order to take a nap.
Someday, it will take less than two hours and three clothing changes to leave the house.
Someday, I won't hear "Watch Elmo?  Watch Elmo?  Mario Cart?" when we go in the basement.
Someday, my underclothes won't need snaps at the shoulders and my freezer will not be in danger of a milk avalanche.
Someday, the dining room floor won't be sticky.
Someday, I will no longer need to step over baby gates to navigate the house.
Someday, little blue eyes will no longer be excited when I raise my shirt.
Someday, I won't be struggling to pull a shirt over anyone's head in the middle of a tantrum.
Someday, I won't be giving anyone else a bath.
Someday, my children will no longer want me to read to them before bed.

And on that day I will miss all of it.
And on that day I'll know it all went by too fast.
It's hard sometimes to remember this when I'm struggling.
I have to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and remember they won't be little for long.
The days are too slow, but the years are too fast.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly from my own experiences.  I try to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me, and that has taken me around the world.  So, who am I?

I am...
...human, though I suspect I may be a fraction Lilliputian.
...a wife of one and mother of two.
...a person with mitochondrial disease.
...a person with narcolepsy.
...a scientific pantheist.
...a classically trained musician, currently a percussionist.
...a writer.
...a crafter specializing in crocheting and sewing.
...a reader of everything in sight.
...a vegan.
...a milk donor.
...afraid of horses and large dogs.
...allergic to cherries.
...a former hockey and soccer player.
...a sci-fi and fantasy geek. engineer by education and chemist by (former) occupation.
...a horrible housekeeper.

Oh, the places I've been!  The most amazing and inspiring locations I've ever visited are...
...the forests of northeastern Michigan at night after a heavy snow with the aurora dancing above the pines.
...a ninja training school near Kyoto.
...Lake Biwa
...a vineyard in rural France.
...Paris at 5am.
...the mountains above Grenoble.
...Luxembourg City.
...the Black Forest.
...the site of a former concentration camp in northeastern Germany.
...Giant's Causeway.
... Edinburgh.
...Stonehenge at Midsummer.
...Trinity College, Dublin.
...the Ozarks.
...the mountains of West Virginia before dawn on a foggy morning. far from civilization in South Dakota that the Milky way was phenomenally clear.
...Devil's Tower.
...the Mayan ruins of Kohunlich.
...Roatan, Honduras.
...the slums of Belize City.

My books have their own origins.  The Crystal Lattice was started on a whim during the summer when I was twenty-one.  I put it away when the next semester started and didn't go back to it for several years.  I was working a mind-numbing insurance job and was suddenly inspired by a Muse song.  I finished the book and one of my coworkers was my first reader and critic.  Echoes of Oblivion began as a short narrative within The Crystal Lattice, a cautionary tale told by the narrator.  I read it to a friend, who said, "You should expand that.  It would be a cool story."  What started out as a short story became a 300,000+ word trilogy written over six months and I blame it all on my friend.  I edited it a couple of times, put it away for a year, and then did a final edit after I finished Mayfly Requiem.  Now, that one is my beast.

I was writing Absolution (which has been an ongoing problem for three years now because it's been interrupted by other inspirations and babies), and had a dream about one of my Echoes characters.  I picked up a notebook and started writing.  And writing.  I filled two large notebooks with 2500 years of Maloran history, most of it written during my lunches at work (I was now working for an environmental testing company) or late at night.  I put it away for a while to edit Echoes, and then typed the whole nasty thing out while I was home on maternity leave.  I started working on Absolution again after a round or two of edits, but when I was really getting into it, I hit pregnancy brain fog and fatigue and haven't picked it back up yet.  And I have to wait a little bit longer.  I've decided to revise and add to The Crystal Lattice, so now I need to find the time to do it.  More late nights and sleepy days ahead, a real adventure when I have two little ones to chase after.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Now Comes the Scary Part

My books are now live on Amazon, crappy covers and all.  I couldn't really leave them coverless, so I edited some old pictures I took of various things and added words.  Now they are dressed like a quartet of particularly shabby hobos, but at least now I'm the only one left naked and completely exposed.  I'm afraid of these books.  They're my babies and I have set them loose to face the world.  Their failure or success is my own.  I had nothing to lose by setting them free except my pride.  I'm biased.  I don't expect them to go very far from home, but that is okay.  I just needed to set them free because I love them.  They have been languishing on my hard drive and in my head for far too long.

Book One - The Abyssal Night

Book Two - Shards of Chaos

Book Three - The Shattered Veil

Mayfly Requiem - the prequel to the trilogy and the history of Malora through the eyes of an immortal

Lyra's Water Birth

I wrote Lyra's birth story a week after I had her. I'm just now getting around to posting it up here. This is a direct copy-and-paste from my post on a natural birth forum.

Lyra was my second unmedicated birth. My first was in a hospital and I felt like I was constantly fighting off offers of drugs and interventions even though everything was going great my labor was relatively short -- sixteen hours from water breaking to birth, ten of those hours in active labor. With my second pregnancy, I started out at the same OB practice I had my son with, but switched at 21 weeks when our insurance changed to one that was in-network for the new free-standing birth center opening nearby. I transferred to the midwives and my anxiety about having another hospital birth immediately disappeared. The birth center officially opened in September and the day after Thanksgiving I hit 37 weeks and was cleared to give birth there.

I woke up at 4 am on December 8th with contractions. They felt like intestinal cramps, so I just laid back down and tried to sleep. I'd been having GI issues for two weeks and was having prodromal labor on and off for the last six days, so I figured it was one of those causing my discomfort. An hour later, the contractions were still keeping me awake. I got up to use the bathroom znd wiped away my mucus plug. I started leaking fluid about 5:30. It came in intermittent trickles, but was slightly pink-tinted so I knew my water had broken. I was having a lot of back pain already so I took a shower and waited for my husband to wake up. When the alarm went off at 6, I told him, "I think you're getting a Get Out of Work Free card today."

We hung out downstairs for a little while and made sure we had everything we needed for the birth. Unlike last time, I was GBS- so we didn't have to worry about rushing to get antibiotics. My husband put together a birth announcement template and I woke up my mom, who was staying with us to help with our two year old son, and told her what was going on. At about 7:30 we drove do my husband's office so he could pick up some things and be closer to the birth center. We called the midwife on call at 8:30. She had just gotten home from attending another birth the night before, so we arranged to meet her at the birth center in an hour. We had an hour to kill, so we wandered around Whole Foods and picked up some food to get us through the day. I was having contractions strong enough to make me stop walking and lean over the shopping cart. We got out the contraction timer on the phone and timed them at 1 minute long and 3-5 minutes apart.

We went to the birth center at 9:30 and got checked in after the test strip confirmed I was leaking amniotic fluid. I was having fairly strong contractions with a lot of back pain already so agreed to a dilation check to find out where we were starting from. At 10:30 am I was still only 2-3cm dilated, but my midwife commented on the stretchiness of my cervix. We decided to put our coats on and go for a walk outside. The birth center is in a heavily wooded corporate park and it was about 40 degrees outside, so it was a nice place to walk. Partway through our walk, I had to grab my husband's arm and just sway back and forth as a multi-peak contraction hit me and hung on for several minutes. By the time we got back to the birth center 20 minutes later, I was having contractions I had to focus to breathe through and was in pretty obvious active labor.

I accepted the pain as progress and let my body tell me what positions and movements were best. Lyra was posterior so I spent some time on my hands and knees with my husband holding a phone playing music at the base of my spine. This worked and she flipped to face the right direction, but she flipped back to posterior at some point later and stayed that way. I was standing and using the windowsill for support for most of the labor so I could move through the contractions and let my body take over. I also sat on a birthing balland did hip spirals and bounced and got on my knees and leaned over the ball so I could rock. I tried to lay on my side to rest for a few minutes and that triggered a lovely tetanic contraction. I had to get on my hands and knees while still on the bed as it started and then went into the bathroom to see if emptying my bladder helped, but it continued for about six minutes. I jumped almost immediately into transition and every contraction was significantly stronger than the last. I was becoming really noisy, but concentrated on keeping my jaw open and kept my moans and grunts low-pitched.

I finally got in the tub as the contractions continued to intensify. The fatigue in my legs lifted almost immediately and I let the water support my weight. I got myself into an odd lunge position and stayed there. I was feeling a huge release of fluid and bloody show during each contraction. My midwife did one last cervical check (I only had 3 the entire time). I was at a 9 and Lyra was still high up. All of a sudden, I started involuntarily pushing. I couldn't control the rapid-fire pushes in quick series, like a jackhammer. It wasn't an urge to push, more like hiccups or muscle tics that I couldn't do anything about. It was terrifying but I couldn't fight it. I felt an extreme amount of pressure and thought I was going to the bathroom. I jumped onto my knees without leaving the water and reached down to feel her crowning.

My husband and the nurse helped me to sit back so my feet were in front of me and I felt intense burning as her head crowned and emerged face-up and my body continued to push on its own. I managed to take control just enough to slow down the rest of her coming out while the midwife helped ease out her shoulders because her hand was by her face and we didn't want to hurt her shoulder or collarbone. I helped catch her, but I was in a state of shock after the involuntary pushing, so I needed some help to bring her to the surface. Lyra was on my chest four minutes after that last dilation check. It was 4:23pm. Lyra was alert and looking around, but it took her almost four minutes to start taking good breaths, which wasn't a huge problem since her cord wasn't cut. My midwife said she was probably shell-shocked from coming out so fast so needed a few minutes to get oriented. The pain was gone and I suddenly felt really good, though a bit shaky.

We hung out in the water for a little while while the cord stopped pulsating. My husband cut the cord and took off his shirt so he could hold her skin-to-skin while I was helped out of the water. We laid on the bed with Lyra on my chest so I could deliver the placenta. My damage from the rapid delivery and nuchal hand was surprisingly light... three first-degree periurethral and labial tears, but none on the perineum, although that was already showing bruising. Lyra's face was a little swollen and bruised, but not too bad, and it was fine after a couple days. The midwife stitched up two of the tears while Lyra nursed, something it turns out she was very good at from the first latch and has needed almost no adjustment since (she was already back to her birth weight at 5 days old). We did skin-to-skin on my chest for about four hours before any weighing or measuring were done, and my mom and son visited during that time. Lyra ended up being 6lb 4oz and 18.5 inches, just an ounce smaller than her brother was and the same length.

We came home at 10:30pm. We had the option to stay overnight, but I was feeling pretty good and we wanted to sleep in our own bed. I had the shakes on and off for about twelve hours after the birth from the endorphins and adrenaline, and couldn't sleep until about 5 am.

This labor from beginning to end was far more intense than my first one and a bit shorter (12 hours vs. 16 hours from first sign, <6 hours of active labor vs. 10 hours, and fetal ejection reflex vs. 20 minutes of controlled pushing). I just let go of any fears and doubts and went with the pain, allowing my body to dictate positions and movement. I don't know how much being in the tub actually helped, since I was only in it about an hour and during that time my body went insane. It took me a while to process what happened at the end, but it helped to find a name and reason for it -- fetal ejection reflex. My labor was mostly undisturbed and the midwife and nurse were hands-off and quiet except for occasional heart rate checks with the doppler and when I asked them for something. I felt safe and instinctual, unburdened by the presence of people I didn't know and trust and unrestricted in movement. I probably would have had a lot more damage from birthing a posterior, compound presentation baby if I hadn't been allowed to labor and birth her as my body instructed me. It still is an awesome feeling knowing I could trust my body to do exactly what it needed to.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time Warp

So... it's been a bit too long.  Mommy brain took over and this blog fell neglected.  It was all worth it, though.  On December 8, I gave birth to an awesome and beautiful little girl named Lyra.  She weighed 6lb 4oz and came flying into the world by way of a water-filled tub in a beautiful new birth center.  She was sunny-side-up, had her hand at her face, and graced me with a mere 6 hours of active labor.  She's already helped me donate a gallon of milk to a needy baby and there will be plenty more to add to that gallon.  In more masculine news, my son has grown into a rambunctious two-year-old and is really putting a new spin on "terrible twos".

I haven't been able to focus enough to get back into writing yet, but I did decide against conventional publishing this morning and I'm now on Amazon.  Everything is going digital these days and I wasn't really up for waiting months or years on rejections from publishers and agents, so I just reformatted them and made them available for Kindle.  And why not?  I didn't write them for money, I wrote them because I was inspired.

My E-Books! (if all four of them aren't up yet, they should be soon.)
So, here I am.  Here are my verbose babies, set loose into a world that probably doesn't care.  But that wasn't the point.  No point letting them hang around on my laptop anymore when there are new ideas echoing around in my head.