We woke up Monday morning and went upstairs to have breakfast with our new friends before setting off in search of an adventure.
It’s one of our favorite places.
After a short drive and lunch at the trailhead, we strapped the little ones on backs and set off down a very warm, sunny, and overgrown path. The shade of the forest trees was a welcome respite. A flooded creek washed over the path, and Husband set off upstream – with a few small boys stomping after him in rubber boots. They turned over rocks and inspected brush.
Man Cub squirmed in his sling.
The mamas took some of the littles down the path in search of our ultimate destination, and as we tromped through the muddy, flooded trail the temperature dropped and the sound of crashing water rolled up the valley. Climbing down the small stone embankment was like stepping back into the air-conditioned house. In a word: glorious.
The sleepy Kentucky river was being ambushed just around one of its own bends by a small waterfall stolen directly from a story book. Where the rock bed rose above the shallow water, it was blanketed in a patchwork of mosses. The water carved smaller accent waterfalls where ever it could.
Trees hung over the small canyon, the creek wound through limestone walls, and somewhere off-stage a crew must have been working with painstaking focus to pump in just the right amount of delicate fog – nearly imperceptible, but still captivating.
With Man Cub still snug in the sling, I waded over to the base of the waterfall and let the spray cool our faces. He squeezed my arm and shoulder even as he closed his eyes toward the rock face. It was loud.
After a moment he was ready to get down. He held my hand most of the time, and as he walked around – from one level of rock to another, one mossy patch to the next – I tried to show him things.
Look at the waterfall. Look at the moss over here. Look at the way it filters water in a wall of steady drips over there. Look at the flowers, the butterflies, the fog. Sometimes he looked. Sometimes he didn’t. Mostly, he watched the water and stomped around. Up and down. Back and forth. This little stream to the next, and then back to the first.
Amy was due June 2, but she was a rookie too, so when June 2 came and went with no serious contractions no one was very surprised.
On the evening of the fifth, she texted me about some slightly more forceful contractions, but then went to bed. Friday evening she texted again, because they were becoming more and more convincing, more and more often. Still, Amy knew that if she could sleep she needed to, so she did.
Saturday morning my husband – with Man Cub in his new bicycle seat on the back, and three of our young adult volunteers, pedaled their bicycles out of a parking lot on the bike trail with 19 teenagers in tow, for a 66-mile weekend trip. The other support vehicle drivers and I swapped morning plans, and just as I declared my intentions, Ethan (baby daddy) called.
She woke me up early. She’s having pretty good contractions every five minutes. Still talking through them, but it’s harder. She didn’t want to talk on the phone.
That last part made me perk up. Ethan and Amy used to live across town, but Ethan recently accepted a great job offer two hours north, so I knew I had a pretty serious drive ahead of me.
On a Saturday.
In about 10 minutes I had dumped all of the tents and bags from my car into the big van, rushed home for a phone chord and some treats I’d been saving for Amy, and was copying their new address into my phone.
I sped up and slowed down and sped up and slowed down for hours, wondering what was happening and how she was doing and if her mom was on the way and when the midwife would show up. I wondered how my little man was doing on his very long bike ride and how long he would be okay without me and how long I would be okay without him nursing.
Speed up. Slow down.
By the time I got there I was such a bundle of anticipation and excitement that I don’t think I bothered to even knock on the door I’d never seen before, and eagerly pushed it open.
To a very quiet, little house.
Ethan was slumped casually in an armchair. A very sweet-looking woman in a cap much like the one I’d just left in my car was curled up on the far end of the couch. Both sipped coffee out of mugs. Both turned very casually to me as I stepped inside.
Oh. So not as urgent as I’d thought.
You want some coffee?
No thanks. I had some on the way.
Amy hadn’t slept much the night before, so she was tired and trying to get some sleep. As well she should. She gave up after about an hour and got up.
Billy – the sweet-looking woman from the couch with excellent taste in hats – is a midwife, but so is her mother. Mother showed up after a short while, and they watched a few contractions and asked a few questions and decided there was probably still a good while to go. So they left.
We played Skatergories between contractions – which were now back to about 10 minutes apart – and waited.
Billy had mentioned that baby Nora’s head wasn’t quite where they wanted it, so Amy need to try to squat during contractions. Which Amy wasn’t having. She did a couple, but it was really painful, so we ended up kind of passive-aggressively arguing as I timed each one.
You wanna squat for this one?
Next contraction, let’s try to squat.
Okay. I know. I know.
Try to get down a little bit for this one.
I don’t wanna.
We went for a walk. She tried to lay down. I went for a veggie burger. We made her pace in the kitchen as it started to rain. The contractions started to pick up again. Amy was such a rockstar through each one (except for the squatting thing), and Ethan was right there with her every time.
Several hours later the contractions were back to five minutes apart, and Ethan wanted to text Billy.
I don’t think you need to text her just yet.
By the time Billy came back, the contractions were slowing down again, but she at least was confident enough to start calling some shots. (She’s delivered over a thousand babies. I felt like I was in the presence of greatness all night.) Four contractions on this side, four on the other side, four on your hands and knees. They were still kind of slow, but they were taking Amy away from us now. She was fully invested in each one.
Amy had requested music by this time, and she was leaning into a pile of pillows for contractions – with Ethan right next to her. She relaxed and breathed through a contraction and then, with her face buried in pillows, started to sing along with the Spotify station. I only heard her because I was six inches away from her head. Ethan, with his face buried next to hers started to sing with her.
Our God is greater. Our God is stronger.
It was a slow, very natural, very real labor process. We all just sat around and stared at each other for five minutes, and then jumped into our positions when Amy started to breathe heavily. Finally, the rain let up (mostly), and Billy got us out for another walk. Amy was tired already from not having slept much, but the afternoon was starting to wear out and I think she realized that it was time to try to pick up the pace. Read more…
Our sweet little Man Cub has been really growing into his will lately, and putting some new finesse into his temper tantrums. He could probably teach Houdini a thing or two about dislocating his shoulders to escape an unwanted confinement.
He’s nearing 18-months, but he gets this gleam in his eye sometimes that makes me realize the “terrible twos” are right around the corner. So I appealed to mamas on Instagram recently, and have been getting a flood of wisdom about the “twos.”
Violeta (@cricenia) is a cute little mama with a daughter who is almost three, and a son who is 15-months old. She’s doing something right ’cause her IG feed is full of two happy littles who seem like they’re BFFs, and I love that. She’s Violeta Vasquez (/cricenia) on Facebook, if Instagram isn’t your thing.
Leigh (@aparentleigh) has three littles – a seven and a five-year-old boy, and an 18-month-old princess. I followed her for I don’t know how long before I actually read her username and got it. I love her normal, everyday scenes of happy family life (and, recently, a really cool picnic table project). For all the ways you can find her, check out her About.me page.
Give it to me straight – How terrible are the “twos”?
For both kids, it seems as if the terrible twos aren’t during the twos at all. They both seemed to have had it right at their first birthdays. With my daughter, she was the throw-yourself-on-the-floor-and-have-a-fit type. Now that we are approaching three, I’m learning that I now have a teenager! She’s learned to articulate, developed a sense of self-identity, and has no problem telling you what is what. I’m told it may get worse before it gets any better.
As for my son, well he’s taken to crying when he can’t have his way. Followed by throwing himself and crawling in reverse. Worst case scenario (if floor space is unavailable) he hits (something we don’t do) and bites (something he learned while breastfeeding). He’s learning to express himself a bit more, so his behavior problems are decreasing, but they are not fun to go through!
Honestly, not too bad for our family. My oldest had terrible fives. He was the best behaved child through four, then he started screaming over little things and throwing such fits. He was almost unbearable to be around.
My middle one was a hard two-year-old, but three was even harder. He could throw some major fits and kept going until he was five. Right around then, it’s like a switch flipped and the tantrums stopped. My husband and I were talking and we realized he hadn’t thrown a major, meltdown tantrum in a week.
My youngest is already proving she will be a terrible two. Her strong will is showing in how she hits and yells when she doesn’t get what she wants. I laugh when she’ll throw herself on the floor during a fit. When I walk away, she will follow me and throw herself on the floor again.
Do you have a terrifying story about your little as a two-year-old?
I tried to potty train my daughter while I was pregnant with my son, prior to her second birthday. I followed the three-day-naked theory, and let her run around naked. Well, I spent a lot of time cleaning up messes. So I gave up.
After my son’s birth she started to show signs of self training. I wasn’t working and spent a lot of time at home with the kids. She would wait until we stepped out of the room (to make dinner, use the potty ourselves, sorting clothes, etc.) take off her cloths and poop. Then she would come and get us and tell us she pooped, but wouldn’t tell us where. We would have to search the house and try to find the poop. It would be everywhere: in her bed, on the floor, behind a cabinet, etc. She refused to use the potty in the bathroom. I finally gave up and put a potty in her room. From that moment on we were potty trained. This story doesn’t seem so bad (except for the searching for poop), but keep in mind I had a crawling baby as well who would sometimes find the poop before us and would help himself to it. Yep, cute baby covered in his sisters poop! Read more…