I'm currently in Oxford at the Piers Plowman conference while Rich and the kiddies are at the cottage in the Cotswolds. I love immersing myself in academia after all the stresses of travelling with very small children. I'm enjoying my brief separation from three-year-old-level conversations (although I miss Riley and Bella already) and mixing and mingling with other scholars, including one who is being advised by my former advisor. Good times! I'm giving my paper in an hour - keeping my fingers crossed :)
I can't believe it, but Rich and I survived taking a plane with a three year old and an eight month old from Vancouver to London. It was EXHAUSTING, even though the kids were actually pretty good - very little crying or acting out or anything. They were, however, rather wakeful, and it is so tiring trying to keep two little kids happy for a plane journey that long.
We are now ensconced in the cottage (a conversion from an 18th century barn which is built around the pillars of a medieval priory) we are renting in Oxfordshire with Rich's parents, and enjoying the ridiculously warm weather. And I have the Piers Plowman conference in Oxford coming up on April 14-17 so I'll enjoy a few days of academic stuff sans children (and no doubt I will end up missing them terribly by the end of the first day!). But it should be good. I'm giving my first paper as a Doctor :-) I am looking forward to exploring Oxford a bit - I may buy some appropriately medieval post-defense thank you cards for my committee members there, and perhaps a token of appreciation, like a nice pen or something. Good excuse for tourist shopping.
Now the kids are upstairs in bed and I have nothing to do except choose which book to read - my Elizabeth George novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (purchased today for 2 pounds at the farmer's market), or a Bernard Cornwell book. Ah, the luxury of not having to write a dissertation.
This was started a week ago, but was delayed due to technical difficulties....
I am now Dr. Phillips!
The defence went very well, with very positive comments from my examining committee as well as my external examiner, whose report I can now read. No revisions - other than a couple minor typos (I forgot the "s" in Nietzsche on the first page - poor Nietzsche). My advisor bought a couple pitchers of beer for the committee afterwards, and we all (including Rich and a grad student friend of mine, who both attended the defence) had a good chat in the pub. That evening Rich had made reservations at West, one of the top restaurants in Vancouver, and he even booked a limo to take us there! We spent a stupid amount of money on one dinner - an event that we will surely not repeat for many years.
A few pics under the cut....
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I am defending my dissertation tomorrow. OMG!
That's all I have to say right now. Two kiddies need to get to bed, then I am gonna chill out and watch "Inside Job". And try to stay relaxed.
I SUBMITTED MY DISSERTATION TODAY. Yes, I'm using caps. That's all I have to say. Oh, except for this: as soon as I submitted, I looked at the diss again and caught a couple of silly little errors (like a few times I used ampersands instead of "and" when I referred to _Troilus and Criseyde_ in the intro chapter, and there were a couple instances of me using, for example, "Chapter 4" in the text instead of "Chapter Four." Thought I caught all those. Annoying).
I SUBMITTED MY DISSERTATION TODAY.
I'm regularly reading my Friends' Page on LJ but I'm hardly posting anything myself. Here's the quick update, in convenient bullet-point form, for anyone who is mildly interested:
- after many revised drafts of different chapters, I finished a full & complete draft of the dissertation to my committee. Yay! Looks like things are on track for a spring defense. Now I just have to wait, biting my nails, for my committee's instructions for revision before the final submission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies
- Isabella is a cute, cute, CUTE little cuddle monkey. After the mastitis thing, she settled into feeding regularly and feeding well. I love coming into her room after the night or after a nap and see her stretch her little arms up and smile at me. Riley loves her.
- Riley is basically potty-trained (although he's still working on doing #2s in the toilet and he still needs a diaper while sleeping). We discovered that if we just put him in underwear he knows when he has to go. The whole "wait until he can go a long time with a dry diaper thing" never worked because as soon as he has a diaper on he seems to lose all awareness of when he needs to go to the toilet. So we're happy to have him running around in his "big boy" underwear :)
- I'm starting to dance at restaurants again - and I fit back into my Bella costumes, which is awesome. Ah, breastfeeding does amazing things!
- I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but Rich has decided to extend his parental leave until the end of April. He's been home with me since Isabella was born, but since I wasn't able to defend in the fall he decided that he might as well take a longer leave. Since we probably won't have any more kids, this is precious time for him to spend with them. Riley LOVES having him around so much. Rich has been ragged a little by the guys at work about it, but he just lets it slide off his back. He's a good dad :)
- Because Rich is taking more leave, I was able to accept a doctoral teaching fellowship position in January - ie, I get to design and teach my own English 110 course. It will be a good experience to have and a good line on my CV. Riley will go back to Anna's in-home daycare with a couple other kids 2 days a week in January, once he's three - he keeps asking about Anna's house and I think he misses having that playtime with his friends.
- As I finish this update and look at the clock, I realize I've forgotten one little thing that has allowed me to write such an update unhindered - Isabella is now basically sleeping through the night. It's 8:30 and she's not up! Or at least she's not crying (she might be just lying there sucking on her hand). Feeding her around 11 or 11:30 (in her sleep) before we go to bed has really helped her consolidate her night's sleep, and now she often sleeps until 8. Riley usually is up between 7 and 8 but will often play in his room by himself for a while before coming out. Yay for sleeping kids!
Ok, time to feed our dog and get ready to take the kids into campus (Rich is painting the bathroom today). But first....I must add a few photos :)
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Although Isabella and Riley seem (so far) to have similar temperaments, I didn't realize how lucky I was with Riley in the breastfeeding department. He knew how to latch on correctly from day 1, and I never had any problems with it. Isabella's latch goes on and off, and she can also be a lazy eater after about 5 minutes, and these factors combined to create mastitis. Which SUCKS big time. I was very sick last week and on antibiotics now.
Isabella's latch is continuing to be bad, even though I've tried "training" her with proper positioning etc. It is killing me! My nipples are so sore that I dread each nursing session - although once she does latch on the pain mostly goes away. Anyway, the whole thing kinda bites.
In good news, she's been sleeping decently. I put her in her crib after her 9 PM feeding, then she gets an 11 or 11:30 PM dream feed, then she'll usually wake up around 3:30 and then around 7:30. Although last night she went from her 11:30 PM dream feed to 5:15! I woke up at 5 in a panic, thinking she'd stopped breathing, but then figured out she was ok and pumped a bit before feeding her when she woke (the last thing I need is a recurrence of mastitis due to engorgement!). We'll see how she does tonight.
Now back to the dissertation....
I am happy to announce that Isabella Grace was born at home, in a birthing pool in our living room, at 4:27 AM Saturday August 7. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 13 ounces - over a pound more than my son did.
Labour had stopped and started for a couple days (thanks to some stressful episodes, including my son cracking his head open and needing staples - things like that totally stalled the beginning of labour) but contractions started coming regularly around 5 PM or so on Friday night. By 11:00 they were about every 4 minutes. The midwife and doula were here by midnight, and we watched Flight of the Conchords between contractions for an hour or two. During contractions I managed the pain using Hypnobabies techniques.
By around 2 or 2:30 AM we decided I could go in the pool. I had about a ten or fifteen minute break from contractions when I first got in - it was heaven! However, labour started up again pretty quickly after that, gradually becoming more and more intense. By the time transition hit I couldn't do anything except hold on and yell (not scream though - I was yelling things like, "God help!!" but when I yelled "no" they all told me to yell "Yes" instead). ItFor a few contractions the back pain was unbearable but I had to push through it to push her down into the birth canal. Then pushing her out it felt like my pelvis was going to explode. It felt scary, even though intellectually I knew that this was a short time and that it was transition. The pain of pushing her out was nothing - I sort of felt the ring of fire, but I didn't tear or anything. I now feel pretty much normal down there!! She was actually almost born in the caul - my waters didn't break until her head was almost out.
When she came out she was so calm. She was looking around, and cried a little bit after a few minutes, but seemed happy to have arrived. I delivered the placenta outside the pool and I've since had relatively little bleeding, although I was faint and exhausted afterwards.
I'd had a long back labour with my son, and I ended up having an epidural at 5 CM after 2 days of bad contractions. It took 3 hours of pushing to get him out. This time the pushing was probably 10-15 intense minutes after about 20 minutes of transition contractions. I'd say the pain felt manageable to me until that last little bit - it was only then that I felt like screaming for pain meds And then it was over and I got to snuggle up in bed with my daughter!
And pics - yes, here are a few of the publicly releasable ones :) These were taken from about midnight, when the midwives came, to when we had Isabella's birthday cake the next afternoon. My doula gave me a recipe for the yummiest chocolate cake - she suggests clients make it or ice it during the first stage of labour to distract themselves, then after the baby's born everyone has some birthday cake!
Loads of pics behind the cut.
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So...I'm 38 weeks pregnant now and feeling huge and tired and a bit panicky. I have done nada, zip with the nursery except to put Riley's old crib in there (my desk and books and boxes are still sitting there). I am rushing to finish a full draft of the diss before the baby gets here - I'm getting close, but I know there will still be some revision to do afterwards. I'm trying to avoid as much of that as possible by doing the work now. I'm also doing the hypnobabies home study course to prep for the birth, which will be at home if all goes smoothly. So that's another time investment. I find myself battling between hypnobaby stuff and dissertation stuff and housework when I have spare time while Riley is sleeping or whatever and there is never enough time for all of it.
Riley is super fun and cute, but exhausting as only a 2.5 year old can be. He has finally figured out how to open his rather sticky bedroom door, so after his bed-bouncing and book-reading in the mornings he'll come out and find me. This morning he poked his head into our bedroom with a big smile while I was getting changed after my shower, and he immediately was concerned that I was cold ("Mama cold!"). So he gave me a couple of big hugs to warm me up. So cute! He's also enjoying playing with other kids his age a lot more - tomorrow is his last day at daycare (he's been going twice a week to an in-home place with two other kids) and I think he will miss that interaction. I wish we could afford to keep sending him, but my fellowship ends at the end of August and Rich will be on parental leave so our finances will be a lot tighter. Bleh.
Rich and I celebrated our 6th anniversary a month ago by leaving Riley and the dog with Rich's parents for two nights and spending the weekend at a secluded lovely B&B up the Sunshine Coast. I was forbidden to bring any work with me, and it was so wonderful to just relax and be together. Rich has been really good with understanding how much I have on my shoulders and helping out as much as possible, but we really did need that time away.
Well I have more I could say but it's getting late and I need to sleep tonight. Here are a few photos from our anniversary weekend and a few of Riley doing summery things.
Edit: Looking at the photos, I'm not sure why the first few are big and the others are small. Hmm.
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