Friday, December 7, 2012

Test flight to Paradise

The trip to Puerto Vallarta went well. The flight there went very smoothly, and Little Man charmed the flight attendants. One of them was on our return flight and she asked to hold him :)

For years, I've followed the rule of packing less clothes than I think I'll need, because I inevitably come home with unused/unworn items, and I hate humping around heavy cases.  But this time, I was traveling with a baby, and had to keep in mind that he would spit-up on my clothes and his. I actually did a great job of packing for all three of us. Just enough left-over clothes to last us a couple more days, if needed.

Bringing breast-milk through security was a little bit of a hassle. TSA opened the bottles and held little sticks over them. They also double-inspected the carry-on bags. I was half-expecting a strip-search, but didn't get one, thankfully :) Bringing the stroller and the car seat through was a bit of work, but we weren't charged extra for stowing them when we got to the plane.

In Puerto Vallarta, we had a long wait to clear immigration. In customs, I pushed the button and apparently drew the log straw because we didn't have to have our luggage inspected. It was warm and tropical and quite lovely.  It cost 180 pesos to get from the airport to our hotel in the Marina District -- that's about USD 15.00

It soon became apparent that PV has been Americanized. Walmarts and Costcos and Gallerias. And Starbucks and Chilis. But there is still Mexican culture once you're off the tourista circuit. And great Mexican food. The days there developed a rhythm. Little Man would wake up between 7 and 8am (CST) and I would hustle him out of the room so Daddy could sleep.  I'd have a leisurely breakfast outdoors (usually tea and poached eggs) and then I'd wander the hotel grounds with Little Man, trying to keep to the shaded spots as much as possible. Then, sometime around noon, I'd head back to the room and roust M out of bed. Noon in PV is still only 10am at home, and that's not much of a vacation-sleeping-in for him. It was easier to get him up once I could offer him ice cold Mexican Coke as his wake-up beverage :)

Once M was ambulatory, we'd head out for lunch, then go back to the hotel room for a siesta. Around 4 or 5 we'd head for the pool and the beach with the baby and play for an hour or so. Then back to the hotel room to cool off. Dinner was a local place. Seafood or Italian, usually, since M isn't a big fan of burritos and enchiladas and the like. Stroll around and watch the fireworks displays around 8pm, then back to the hotel room. Baby and I would crash and M would play on his computer until... whenever he went to sleep.

I managed to avoid buying souveniers from peddlars on the beach. I'm just not a wanter. And whenever I look at that stuff I just picture it stuffed away in a box somewhere, wasting space.

Leaving Puerto Vallarta was pretty simple. The airport is beautiful and modern, and the staff are very courteous. We had no hassles with customs or immigration. The flight home went very well. We actually got to San Francisco 40 minutes early. The problem was the descent. We got an early slot and the pilot was in a hurry to make it so the descent was very rapid and Little Man's ears (and mine, and M's and probably everyone else's) didn't handle the changes in air pressure very well. He cried that last 20 minutes or so, poor little guy. The bottle and pacifier didn't help. I did learn an important lesson ... don't bounce or rock a crying baby on a plane -- he might get airsick. Oops! Ah well. It's part of being a mom.

Coming back into the States was pretty easy. Showed passports and declaration. Waved through customs.

10 minute taxi ride home.
There really is no place like home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Home after the Holidays

We traveled nearly 600 miles in 5 days. Traffic was awful for parts of it -- we spent nearly 20 hours in the car. We saw about 50 people -- family, friends, and friends of family. Through it all, Little Man was great. We got a lot of compliments on his disposition. Such a sweet, easy baby. So surprisingly fearless with strangers and pets.  He warmed hearts with his big smiles, laughed at the antics of all the pets, and rarely fussed. He just needed down-time with The Momma once in a while.

M met the rest of my family, namely my step-sisters and their children. We also spent some time with my sister, which was much less tense than it could have been given the hell she put us all through the past couple of years. It looks like, at 40, she's finally getting herself together. He also met my mother's brother, and the rest of Annette's family. Her large Portuguese family :) But then, he's got a large family, himself, and I'll get to meet all of them in a few weeks, so I guess we're even.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Road to Truly Happy

I've known M a long time. Since 1998. He came to my attention because he's a brilliant puzzle-solver, and he was the first to solve a quest in an online game I co-created... a quest that had gone unsolved for 3 years. Technically, he's a brilliant gamer, and truth be told, in my 15+ years of watching over that particular game, I never saw anyone play it better. He was so good people assumed he cheated somehow, myself included, until I checked the logs. I could see his various attempts, the trial and error prior to success, and I recognized in him someone who understood the game on multiple-levels: as a coder, as a puzzle-solver, as a role-player. In was an enviable understanding, one that spawned enmity in some who also played the game.

In 2003, he and my partner had a falling-out in-game, and she was such a royal bitch to him that I felt sorry for him. I took an interest in this person who unwittingly brought upon himself the ire of an often irrational woman -- a woman who rarely interacted with men online long enough to get so upset with them. When I queried him as to what had happened, he impressed me by saying that gentlemen don't kiss-and-tell, so I would have to ask her. When I asked her, she became very upset and defensive. I figured she'd done something she shouldn't have and was worried I'd find out, so I let it be. Our relationship had been over for quite some time -- I was just waiting for her to realize it and break things off, since she had quite a victim complex and I didn't want to play into it by breaking things off with her myself.

Meanwhile, the more I learned about M, the more I liked him, and by mid-2004 we were good friends. He was a rather solitary sort of boy-man who seemed reasonably content with his life. He had moved to the US from Canada and put his wunderkind skills to use in Silicon Valley to great financial and professional success. He liked his online and console games, his weekly Dungeons & Dragons night, played pool regularly, and dated a bit here and there. He sometimes asked for advice with regards to women, and I was honest with him: women want to feel heard, and they want to feel like someone is on their side. If you can convince a woman that you're listening and you're on her side, you're in. I also acknowledged that women play games, that it's socialized into us at a very young age, and that while women often defy logic, we're not completely irrational. The key to understanding us is understanding that we're consistent within a particular moment, as it appears to us, rather than across time.  In other words, we're generally unpredictable (or as men prefer to say "crazy") -- our behavior cannot be modeled or systematized reliably, so don't bother.

Over time he realized that I wasn't like most women -- I could program (in whatever limited capacity, especially compared to him) and think critically, I was smart enough to catch him and call him on his shit, and most importantly, I didn't flip out when he called me on mine. He was also fascinated by my lifestyle once S and I went our separate ways and I started dating and living life on my own terms again. We developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other, and supported each other through personal and professional ups and downs. I often described my life using terms like "awesome" and "incredible" and "fulfilling". He used words like "good" and "ok." He was rarely unhappy, I noticed, but he was also rarely truly happy.

Until recently. Fast forward 8 years and it's wonderful to see the changes in him. He's finally chosen where he wants to be (US rather than Canada) which means he's finally put down roots in a place that feels like 'home'. He's happy with how his career is going. But most of all, he's just thrilled to be a daddy. Now that Little Man is more independent of me and becoming more of his own person, it's amazing how the two of them have bonded. It is wonderful to see how much fun M has with him, and how much joy he takes in just being with his son. It helps that Little Man is so transparently joyful around his father.

Earlier today M purred as I massaged his shoulder with one hand and cradled a sleeping Little Man in the other. His face was smooth and a smile hovered on his mouth. I commented to him that the past couple of months he's been happier than I've ever known him. He sighed contentedly in response. It is important to me that the people I love be happy -- their happiness is integral to my own. M is truly, deeply happy, and it feels good knowing my part in it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Living in the 1950's

Some days I feel like I'm living someone else's idea of a dream life, something out of the 1950's.

I live in a house with a white picket fence in front. Yes, really. It's a beautiful mid-century home. I can say this without prejudice because the appraiser who came by yesterday complimented us on it. It's not in the most desirable area of town (if it was, it would have cost 3x as much) but I happen to love the diversity, friendliness, and walkability of the neighborhood (91 on The weather is about as perfect as you can get (not too hot, not too cold), I can garden to my heart's content, and the backyard is completely private.

I have a beautiful little boy, a little boy who appeared like magic in my womb after 20 years of angst-free infertility. Babies were never on my bucket list, but if they had been, I would have wished for one like Little Man. He's an easy, happy baby, one who even tries to smile through his tears when he's in pain from gas that won't pass. I'm madly in love with him, and occasionally struggle with the fear that something will happen to him, probably because I've become so intimate with loss in recent years.

I have the love of a good man -- a brilliant, funny, kind man -- who is an excellent breadwinner. We had a couple of lean years during his start-up days but these days we're fortunate enough not to have any financial worries. In many ways our relationship looks very traditional: He goes to work and I stay at home, keeping house and baking gingerbread cookies, greeting him at the door with the baby in my arms and the puppy-cat at my feet. I balance him out, balance his intensity and introversion, and he seeks my opinions and usually heeds my advice. We take care of each other, and it just so happens that we're following traditional gender roles -- for now.

So, here I am, living in my 1950's home, living a 1950's life (minus the Valium). I even wear my grandmother's 1950's aprons sometimes. And I'm acutely aware that this is what my sister Tammy wanted. She wanted the house with the white picket fence and the babies and puppies. The "normal" Leave It To Beaver life we never knew as children. But she, like me, was infertile, and learning that changed her life. She gave up on her dream and pursued something wildly different, and though she succeeded beyond expectations, she was never truly happy with her life.

Me, I'm happy. Probably because I haven't given up on anything. Put some things on hold because of the baby, perhaps, but I don't feel like I'm making any unreasonable sacrifices. The thing I miss most is solitude, and upon reflection, I realize this is something I am giving up on -- for now.

This isn't the life I'd imagined for myself -- that life was a little house on the coast or in the mountains near a body of water, with lots of time to mediate and to read and write, and lots of friends visiting. A quiet life with opportunity for solitude but not lonely. I enjoy my own company too much to ever be lonely.

No, this isn't the life I'd imagined for myself -- but its the perfect life for me, because it's where I am and where I choose to be. Even if it does look a bit like the 1950's ;)

I'm blessed, and I know it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Relationship after baby

I was prepared for our relationship to change as a result of Little Man's arrival, and things have changed. Not really for better or worse. They're just different.

I knew our relationship was pretty solid -- it was a major factor in my choice to proceed with a high-risk unplanned pregnancy at age 43 -- but it's proving even more solid than I'd thought. Or perhaps it's that having a baby together has gelled things for us even further. It feels good. Feels right. We're relaxed and happy with each other most of the time, and that impacts Little Man. He's a very easy, happy, loving baby. In the past month, as the baby has gotten a little more independent of me, M has really stepped up his game. He takes Little Man off my hands and has learned to distinguish between a fussy baby that he can console, and one who can only be consoled by mommy. I actually got to spend an hour digging in the garden this weekend, putting arabian jasmine and hibiscus in the ground, and digging up and transplanting a bird of paradise, some fountain grass, lavender, and rosemary. I got dirt under my fingernails and sweat in my eyes and it felt good!

I really like the relationship I have with Little Man's father. He's a good man, a kind and appreciative man. His biggest complaint about me is that I don't give him enough opportunity to do things for me. His second biggest complaint is that I'm not back to normal emotionally. I know that he was looking forward to having me "back" once the baby was born, and I did warn him that I'd still be under the influence of hormones while I'm lactating, but, well, I'm just not as unflappable as I was before-baby, and that is hard on him.  There are moments when he really irritates the hell out of me. Most of the time I know it's about me -- know that he is who he is and if something he does irritates me, that's about me, not him. It's not his nature to deliberately try to piss me off, and sometimes... sometimes I have to remind myself of that. Just like I remind him not to take my irritability personally. Being over-tired and hormonal does strange things to people, and all we can do is try to keep our heads and be compassionate with each other in the aftermath of any heated exchanges.

He's still my best friend, M is. I enjoy his company. He makes me laugh. I can talk with him about just about anything. He's communicative about his unmet needs, which keeps baby-related resentments to a minimum. He's incredibly supportive. He's always asking me what he can do for me, how he can help me achieve my goals. I'm incredibly grateful that he is such a strong breadwinner that he can support our family on his income alone -- in the Bay Area, which is so incredibly expensive to live in. And in exchange, I do my best to be frugal. He is often exasperated by my frugality, so he doesn't give me a hard time when I do spend money. I've done really well with regards to spending on the baby -- scored a lot of great stuff on Craig's List. I actually just bought the first item of baby clothes at a store last week -- an outfit for family photos next month.

Before the photos, we're going on a trip to Puerto Vallarta. I wanted to get some experience with airports and flying with the baby before heading off to Canada to meet M's family at Christmas time. When he asked where I wanted to go, I told him a quick hop to Las Vegas, or LA, or maybe San Diego for a night or two. He knows I don't care for Vegas or LA, and he wasn't interested in San Diego, so he suggested Hawaii. I love Hawaii, particularly the Big Island, but for a first time flight with a 5 month old, a 5 hour trip is daunting. However, given that we do have a passport for Little Man already, that opened up the possibility of flying south, to Mexico. Cabo San Lucas was our first thought, but then a friend suggested the more tropical Puerto Vallerta, which is just a 3.5 hour flight from SFO. Given that we were in Bali just a year ago, I've definitely got what we need for the tropics -- including SPF 50 for the baby.

As for Little Man, he's developing quite well. He's not the butter-ball people expect breastmilk-fed babies to be, though he does have a little roll on each of his thighs. He's sitting up under his own power most of the time -- until he loses interest in being upright, and then he falls over like a puppet. He's started taking control of his bottle from me when he doesn't like how I'm holding it, and as long as it's not too full, he can feed himself. Now that I've finally gotten rid of laryngitis and am talking to him more, he's more talkative -- doing his baby babble. I am amazed by how his dexterity improves daily. His strong little legs support him very well when I've got them shoulder-width apart, and his balance is improving enough that he can stand unsupported for about 5 seconds at a time. He's a cheerful baby, charming people with his big grins, and is rarely fussy or cranky in public. I took him into San Francisco to meet up with Jem and her daughter Rosie for lunch and a museum tour and he did great the whole trip -- including both legs of the BART ride.

Life is good. Not at all what I expected for myself at this age. But good. I'm blessed, and I know it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time flies

The past few weeks have been busy ones.

Little Man seems to be developing more rapidly. He moved his walker toward me for the first time. He's started doing repetitive gestures, like putting his pacifier in his mouth and pulling it out, again and again. I notice him inspecting things with his hands and his eyes. This morning he was laying on my chest and we were doing some eye-gazing. He reached his little hand out and stroked my cheek. I smiled. He stroked my cheek again. And again. I stroked the side of his face with my fingertips. His eyes widened and his mouth made this little 'O' of surprise. He stroked my face and I stroked his, too, and then he smiled beatifically at me. It was a moment of real connection and intimacy that left me glowing inside.

My days seem to fly by. We still don't have a routine down yet, but I'm working on it.

During the day he naps for very short periods of time, usually 10 to 20 minutes, every two to three hours. Every once in a while he will nap for an hour or more, but it is sadly quite rare, so I rarely have time to myself to do the simplest things, never mind write blog posts. I'm somehow managing to keep up with laundry and most days, the dishes, but the floors and bathrooms are rather neglected.  To top things off, the acid reflux is still making me cough at night, and I've had laryngitis for weeks. It's pretty miserable.

The new fence we had installed looks phenomenal. I hadn't realized how much effort it took not to notice the ugliness of the old fence when I was on the patio or gardening in the back yard. Of course the reason we replaced it wasn't primarily aesthetic-- it was safety. It was leaning rather dangerously in a few spots and dry rot and termites had damaged enough of the boards that I worried Alex might scuttle through by moving a board aside. But no more.  We're in the process of water sealing the fence, which is time consuming given that it's 220 feet long, 6 feet high, with another foot of lattice.

 Now I'm looking forward to updating the landscaping, moving some plants around. I've got a hydrangea that needs to be moved now that the city cut down the big trees in the parking strip-- it's getting too much afternoon sun. And the impatiens solenii that I planted this spring are getting too much sun, too. Conversely, the previous owners planted day lilies and African irises on the north facing side of the house, so they hardly bloom. I'll be moving them and planting them around the bottlebrush tree, which produces a natural herbicide that keeps grasses and weeds at bay, but which doesn't seem to bother bulbs/corms. The Arabian jasmine and the hibiscus will be going into the ground soon, once things cool down a bit more. I still have to decide whether I'm going put the wisteria in the ground or leave it in the planter. The nice thing about living in California is that it's rarely a bad time to plant, and nearly everything grows. The difficulty lies in finding the time to garden with an infant needing my attention.

We're looking at taking a short holiday somewhere so we can get the flight experience in with Little Man before the big year-end trip to meet M's grandmothers. His passport arrived in the mail this week, which opens up the possibility of a trip to Cabo San Lucas as well as Vegas and Hawaii.  M would prefer somewhere tropical-- it's been a year since our trip to Bali. I'm just not sure I want our trial flight to be 5 hours long (Hawaii).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

4 months already

My friend DaTo rode into town last weekend and stayed through Thursday morning. He was an easy guest. I enjoy his energy and low-key company, and Little Man really seemed to take to him. 15 years ago we were a couple -- today we are good friends. It doesn't make sense to me that people fall in love and later break up and never have anything to do with each other again. Relationships change -- this is inevitable -- but if we really love someone, what we love about them doesn't change. That is why I think it is important to be grown-ups and find a way to let go of the past romantic relationship and grow a new one that works in the new circumstances. It is how I maintain a rich life full of love and connection that spans decades and continents. I am fortunate that my partner, M, has known me so long that he is (mostly) comfortable with these apparently unusual circumstances. He's met most of my previous partners because I'm fortunate to still be close with most of them, and so far he hasn't objected to anyone. I'm hoping that as we raise Little Man he will follow in my footsteps with regards to forming relationships and maintaining them through their various iterations. I think he'll be a happier, more connected individual as a result.

This weekend is going to be a flurry of activity. We're taking advantage of the Smithsonian Free Museum Day to visit CuriOdyssey, which is just a mile or so from our house. I think I'll be bringing Little Man there quite a lot over the upcoming years. We'll also be visiting an open house on a house for sale a few blocks from us. We've recently had our home appraised for refinancing, and it's come back far better than we anticipated -- this home for sale is 300 sq feet smaller than ours, has had similar renovations, and is for sale at $50k more than we bought ours for last year. If it sells as fast as the other houses in our area have been, we'll feel pretty good about our decision to buy this place, as well as the price we paid for it.

We're also having the old fences taken down and a new one installed starting on Monday, which means I need to find time to trim back the plantings along the property line in order to make sure the fencers have access and to minimize damage to the landscaping. The fence will be redwood in the board-on-board good neighbor style with a foot of square lattice on top. It will pull together the Mediterr-Asian style we've been creating for the house and grounds. Last weekend we removed the ivy that had over-grown about 50 feet of fence. It revealed a lot of damage to the fence, so we're hoping that the neighbors will agree not to allow ivy to grow on the fence any more.  It's difficult to communicate this because they are a Mandarin-speaking older couple and their son isn't around very often for translating. But we'll work it out.

Once the fence is completed and water-sealed, we're pretty much done with updates to the house for the year.  We'll start the hunt for a japanese maple as an anchor plant for the back yard, and then that's it until Spring, I think.

Meanwhile, Little Man is growing like mad. We've got his 4 month check up next week, and I'll find out how much he weighs and how long he is at that time.  I figure he's at least 15 pounds and 24 inches now. He had a persistent diaper rash that didn't respond to the typical ointments, so we switched to an anti-fungal and it's mostly cleared up.  I think he's starting to teethe as he's using people's fingers as chew toys and he's drooling a lot. He's falling asleep around 9pm and waking for a short feeding break around 1am, then sleeping until 5am-ish. I try to take a nap with him in the afternoon so I'm not feeling sleep deprived.

I'm still struggling with feelings of inadequacy with regards to taking care of the housework and the baby. I'm also trying to take an online class, because I don't want my brain getting any mushier. I'm still lactating so I'm still subject to hormonally-influenced emotional swings, which makes things difficult for me and M, both. I find myself taking things personally that I normally don't, and getting irritable very easily. Ah well.  I'm doing my best to be ok with it, knowing that this, too, shall pass.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Today's one of those PJ days

It's official: I'm one of those new moms who spends the entire day wearing pajamas at least once a week. I do get to shower at least every other day though, and now that the Little Man can hold his head up and he's tall enough to be in his walker, I get to brush my teeth all in one go every day.

I'm extremely fortunate that Little Man is an easy baby. I'm hoping we will continue to be so, but I'm not counting on it. He wakes up all smiles in the morning and he's mostly a fuss-free baby for the rest of the day. That said, he's prone to what I call power-naps (under 30 mins) and is very alert and talkative, so I don't get much opportunity to nap during the day. However, I'm able to get a 4 to 5 hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep each night, which is a blessing.

I'm still pumping milk every 3.5 to 4 hours (except for that 5 hour stretch at night) and Little Man is still downing nearly 30 ounces of milk each day. Every once in a while I have to open a bottle of formula, but mostly, my supply is keeping up with his demand. I'm actually grateful that he isn't nursing. I miss the intimacy of it, but bottle-feeding is pretty convenient in that 1) someone else can spot me in feeding the baby on occasion, 2) I'm not getting mastitis and Little Man isn't getting thrush and 3) bottle-feeding takes less time than breast-feeding. Little Man didn't like my low-flow nipples -- he wanted his milk NOW -- which is why he refused to transition back to my breast. He'll down 4 ounces of milk in under 10 minutes, rather than 45 minutes, which means we both get to sleep sooner and I am not sore from having to hold him to my breast. Pumping is taking 5 to 10 minutes, and I'd still be pumping even if I he was on the tit, so, really, I'm getting back 30 minutes of my life 5 or 6 times a day. That's three hours. That's an eternity in new-mommy time.

What else?  The quest to start baby-proofing has begun now that little man is starting to squirm around on his belly. The first thing to tackle is the home entertainment unit.  I've had nightmares about the baby teething on the wires and drooling into all those electronics with their pretty lights. After months of searching I found a TV console that will hold the DVR, the PS3, the Wii, the Nintendo, the home theater PC, the gigabit switch, the Denon receiver, and all associated handsets and remotes. It's supposed to be delivered next week, as is the new Klipsch speaker that will just fit into the cabinet drawer specially designed to house center channel speakers. I'm looking forward to all the wires disappearing.  I've worked hard at ignoring them for over a year now. The irony is that we have a data closet with a NAS server and all the equipment for the internet and TV services in it, and we completely wired the house with ethernet, cable, and TV in every room -- but we've still got wires everywhere in the family room. Go figure ;)

We're in the process of re-financing the house because rates have dropped so low. It's a bit of a hassle, but a point is a point and that adds up to tens of thousands of dollars over the long run. The good news is that the house was appraised at 15% higher than what we bought it for 18 months ago, so we've gotten great value for all of the improvements we've done. We've got just one more. We're replacing the 30+ year old perimeter fence next month and then we're done for a while. M promised :)

The GERD situation is slowly improving. The upper GI test didn't show anything unusual other than slower-than-usual movement through the esophagus due to edema -- the stomach acid has caused a fair amount of irritation and swelling. It's still weird to me that I didn't experience heartburn during the pregnancy but I'm getting it now.  All that weird post-pregnancy body-change stuff.

It looks like the little guy is waking up from his nap, so it's time to end this post. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I made it through 3 months!

M and I finally got our romantic dinner together last night. Fourth try was a charm :) M's father and sister watched over the Little Man while we ate dinner just a few blocks from home. We dined at The Melting Pot, and this time we ate with enough moderation to get to the chocolate fondue course with room to eat some of it. It was a leisurely two hour meal that reminded me how much I enjoy his company. For all that we are so different, we complement each other. He thanked me for giving him a son. I told him he was the only man I could imagine having a child with. It was a good night.

Little Man is three months old now. He's been a lot of fun for his grandfather and aunt, and a very easy baby. Normally he's very alert for long periods of time interspersed with occasional power-naps, but he's going through a growth spurt -- eating often and sleeping for 3 or 4 hours at a time -- so he's easier than usual. And he's such a happy little guy. Grinning and talking (when he's not grumping about having gas), making eye contact, and playing with his toys. He's flipped himself over onto his back as of yesterday, which surprised everyone, including himself.

The weather has been gorgeous here, perfect really. Blue skies, warm days, cool afternoon breezes. I generally spend most of the afternoon outside with Little Man, gathering peaches and tomatoes, monitoring the growth of the summer squash and cucumber, playing with the baby, and listening to audio books. It's a comfortable life, for the most part. M earns good money and provides well or us, and in exchange, I take very good care of us all. Being a stay-at-home mom is very different from the "kept woman" we used to joke about me being, but I can't complain. It's not a life or role I'd ever envisioned myself in, but it is working out. And perhaps that is the key -- I didn't have my heart set on things being a certain way, looking a certain way, etc, so I'm able to go with the flow of What It Is with little friction or disappointment.

The heartburn / acid reflux / GERD situation seems to be improving, though it's a bit early to be certain. I'm still struggling to keep my food intake up, especially protein, and I really notice it in my energy level some days. Humping all 14# of Little Man around, plus pumping breast-milk every 3 to 4 hours, trying to keep up with the housework and coordinating with 5 neighbors to get the fence around our property re-done is wearing me down. And I am pretty sure that is nutritional, because I'm rarely easily worn-out. But apparently all this is pretty normal for new moms. I'll get the hang of it.

Interestingly enough, my PCOS symptoms seem to be abating. I think that the prolonged changes in my hormonal balance due to pregnancy and lactation is over-riding / interrupting that awful cycle of androgen and testosterone generation. It's certainly made weight-loss much easier (read: normal), which itself helps reduce the excess hormones floating around.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The center of the universe

I remember saying to more than one person on more than one occasion that I didn't want to be the center of anyone's universe -- that it was too much responsibility. Yet here I am, the center of an infant's universe. It's a lot of responsibility, but more than that, it's stressful. Taking care of a baby 24/7, no matter how much I adore him, is wearing. It finally occurred to me during a long awaited shower that the terrible heartburn and acid reflux I've been suffering might be stress-related. I'm very good at sublimating stress and just pushing forward -- it's how I got through all the sickness and death from years 2008 through 2010 -- but at some point I have to wake up to the fact that some levels of stress, or stressful situations, are not sustainable.

I am used to copious amounts of me-time. I'm an introvert who has worked hard to balance-out my introversion with a tolerance/appreciation for extraverted activities, but I'm an introvert all the same. One of the great benefits of the Information Age is the ability to maintain contacts with friends and family wherever they, or I, am. But one of the drawbacks is that this ease of remaining in close contact with people far away is that I've neglected developing much in the way of local relationships. I am developing some good relations with my neighbors, one of whom is great with Alex, but with my family all living 3+ hours away, and my best friends all living 500+ miles away, I don't have anyone to help out with Little Man. So I had a talk with his father about needing him to spot me with the baby more.

I do my best to make sure that M gets his full quota of sleep, so I take care of the baby at night as well as during the day. M usually spends 10 or 20 minutes with him her and there throughout the evenings, but usually hands the baby off to me when he starts to fuss. Given that the only time I have to get much done for myself or around the house is when M is entertaining Little Man, I'm always feeling rushed and stressed trying to get things accomplished during those mini-breaks. It's just not sustainable. So we talked, and he acknowledged that I do make things awfully easy on him, and that taking care of the baby 24/7 is a lot of effort. We both know that right now Little Man is completely dependent on me, and that he will slowly outgrow it, but for the next 6 months or so, it's mostly all on me. But there are still things he can do. This weekend he took care of the baby for a couple of hours while I got a much-needed massage. Yesterday he stayed home from work and helped take care of the baby and drove me to the doctor because I'd basically been up for 3 nights with acid-reflux and night coughing and was too exhausted to drive myself.

The good news is that my weight-loss is at a much more sustainable rate of 1-2 pounds a week (I've dropped 12# the past two months). The bad news is I need an upper GI test to try to figure out what is going on with my stomach and the acid reflux. Hopefully it is not my LES valve or I may need surgery. Yesterday I ate 1 cup of rice and a protein shake with bananas and blueberries. Not enough protein (14g) to sustain lean muscle mass -- but at least I slept through the night (minus baby interruptions) without coughing up the contents of my stomach. I wish I could eat more of my protein bars but I only have one type that isn't covered in chocolate. And chocolate, like coffee and tomatoes and many other fruits, are big no-nos for GERD. *whine*

So, I'm trying to eat a careful, bland diet with lots of protein and extra calories for breastmilk production, and trying to find ways to get myself baby-breaks. I love the Little Man beyond description, but being the center of his universe these past 3 months is starting to take it's toll.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Processing Motherhood

It is good to know that all the feedback I received about mother-in-laws mellowing once they meet their grandchildren is true. The visit from M's mother went very well. Better than either he or I expected, based upon her previous visit and comments regarding the pregnancy. Unfortunately, I had a GERD episode in the middle of her visit so I didn't get to do much with her, however, it was a blessing that she was here to take care of the Little Man while I spent the day in bed running a temp and coughing up aspirated stomach acid and phlegm. I've a feeling that my LES valve has been damaged somehow either during or after the pregnancy, because I can't lay down with anything in my stomach or it will come up. The back of M's head can testify to that, poor dear. I'm waiting to hear back from my doctor as to what to do next.

I've been (loosely) following the Dr. Sears approach to Attachment Parenting because it makes sense to me. My goal is to foster a strong sense of security in the Little Man, the kind of security that comes from trusting that the adults in his life will meet his needs. It is my hope that I'll never lose that trust, because one of the things I've been processing as I've been caring for my son are the early memories of my own mother, and my lack of trust in her.

I should state that my mom wasn't a bad mother per se... she just wasn't a good one. She wasn't very maternal or nurturing -- I recently confirmed this with her best friend from my childhood years, wanting to make sure my child's memory and Reality squared-up. Getting married and having children was, for her, the cost of freedom. Being a wife and mother, however, was not terribly interesting to her, and she put both roles behind her when I was 9.  I chalk it off as a Me-Generation thing.

Anyway... I can remember as early as 4 or 5 not telling my mother about an injury because I knew she'd hurt me in the process of attending to it, and knew she wouldn't provide any comfort to offset the pain. It was not an isolated incident, either. I should have gotten stitches on that occasion, and still have the scar to remember it by. Even today I am convinced that the ugly scar is better than the care would have been.

As a consequence of my lack of trust in my parents (my VietNam Vet father was a whole other story), I had trust issues until I entered grief-therapy in my mid-Thirties. Since I know what lasting impressions parenting styles can have on children, I'm determined to create and maintain a sense of security and trust with my son -- even if it means less sleep for now :)

Several times a day, Little Man meets my eyes and smiles this special smile that causes something inside me to flutter. It's a bit like the tearful-wonder feeling I get when my milk lets down. That smile lets me know I'm doing it right, this motherhood thing. Evolution at work -- the maternal instinct is alive and well in me.

This weekend is a just-us weekend, except for a BBQ at a friend's house, and the following weekend M's father and sister arrive for a week-long visit. Fortunately for them, there really isn't much work left to be done on the house, so they'll actually get to enjoy a California vacation with the newest addition to the family. Then a week later it's my step-mother and step-sister. My step-mom is willing to stay for several days, if we want. M seems to be pretty comfortable with her, her nursy-talk about illnesses notwithstanding.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


My mornings used to be my own.  I used to have a few hours to myself between the time I awakened and the time M woke up. Not any more. Though I don't mind, most days, because I wake up to a smiling baby boy. When he sees me looking at him he lights up with a big toothless grin. Sometimes he even coos. It's impossible to mind waking up to that :)

Little Man seems to be done with his growth spurt and I'm able to keep up with him milk supply-wise. I haven't needed to supplement with formula for a couple of weeks, and I've actually been able to freeze about 3 ounces of breastmilk a day. He is looking more and more like his father now, and he's growing into his (my) nose. In addition to inheriting my nose and feet, he seems to have gotten my light-sensitive eyes, poor thing.

He handled being passed around to a dozen different people pretty well at the party this weekend. M and I both were concerned that he might be overwhelmed by all the attention and handling, but he seemed to enjoy it. We might have an extrovert on our hands, instead of an introvert, like us. The jury is still out on handedness. I hope Little Man is a lefty like us just so it is easier for us to teach him to write and whatnot. I remember how difficult things were for me given that my parents were both right handed. M actually does a lot of things right-handed because that was the only way he could learn from right-handers, whereas my paternal grandfather was a leftie and taught me how to hold my pencil and fork, etc, and my mother fought the schools to keep me left-handed. My father's family has a strong left-handed streak, and a lot of people in the older generations stammer when they speak as a result of being 'thwarted' and forced to become right-handed, my father included.

Yesterday a friend of mine from Portland had a layover at SFO so I got a chance to see her and her daughter. We talked about the need to find a woman friend or two with infants to provide support and commiseration -- and my somewhat misogynistic tendencies. My misogyny is surprising to people who know that I attended a women's college and have dated women -- until I clarify. I don't dislike women -- I dislike the lowest-common denominator level that so many women sink to. Having gone to college with over 3000 brilliant women, I know what women can be -- and it annoys me no end to see what women resign themselves to being. I'm just not good at relating to a lot of the concerns that occupy so many women: I'm not into appearances, so swapping stories on clothes shopping, makeup and hair styling flat out bore me. I'm not a wanter. I despise shopping in general and conspicuous consumption in particular. I prefer simplicity and an uncluttered life. I'd rather have a meaningful conversation about what's going on in the world than gossip about movie stars and neighbors. And I don't play the woman-games -- I don't do the passive-aggressive competitor-co-dependent friendships most women seem to perpetuate with each other. I'm animus-dominant, and while I've definitely given my anima room to grow this past decade, I accept that I'm always going to prefer the company of men or masculine-minded women. Thus, finding women I can connect with is difficult enough without adding criteria like new-mom and over-Forty. But I'm not giving up :)

On this 'unintentional mother' blog I've mostly avoided mentioning the things that occupy my thoughts that seem unrelated to the topic. But politics and the environment and technology impact today and tomorrow -- they impact the world my son will inherit. M and I are looking at buying an electric car and putting solar panels up on the house. We're trying to reduce the amount of waste we produce by reducing consumption. We're following the breakthroughs in battery technology and alternative energy. And medicine. It would be lovely if my son came of age in an era in which a cancer diagnosis was not a tragedy, and diseases like malaria and cholera are no longer endemic to Third World. I have hopes that we'll revolutionize education so that young people will be able to learn and retain what they need to in order to take over for the technology priesthood and further the interests of humanity by evolving their thinking. I have hopes, but there are days when the omens and portents point to a dark future and a dying planet, and even my eternal optimism and sunny nature are no match for it. I have a dread that one day that my son will tell me he wishes he'd never been born into such a mess of a world. So I'm doing what I can to make it a better place, bit by bit, neighbor by neighbor, street by street. I'm Being Love, but I know I can try harder. I know I have to. There is too much at stake.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ten weeks old and a peach party

So, two months in, the mom-thing is working out quite well. M said when he thought about whether or not to proceed with the pregnancy, one of the things he considered was whether or not he thought I would be a good mother. I'm a nurturing person, and given that I practically raised my sisters and half of my cousins, M knew the answer. Still, he seems surprised by how good I am with the baby. To be honest, there are times when I'm surprised, too. There is so much about mothering that is innate, I've come to realize, probably on a racial-memory level, because it's not like I've trained for this. I just know what to do for Little Man.

I miss sleeping. It's been six months since I had a good night's sleep. M tries to help with the baby so I can nap, but often as not, Little Man gets agitated when we're separated for a while and I end up comforting him rather than sleeping. He's an easy baby, for the most part, but he's an alert and fidgety baby. When he's awake, often as not he wants to be in motion, and I don't mean sitting in a swing. I mean sitting in a baby sling while I move him around :) It gets tiring, wearing him all the time, but I'm sure that it will seem like a blink of an eye and he'll be zipping around in his little walker. But for now, I'm learning how to do all sorts of things while wearing him in front--like installing metal weather-stripping on an exterior door while Little Man made curious expressions at the sound of the drill, and putting up a tent single-handedly.

Today we're having friends and neighbors come by to harvest peaches off our tree and meet the baby. All the work we've done to the exterior of the house the past 6 months have really paid off -- we've got a lovely, comfortable outdoor space that I spend a fair amount of time in, and will probably spend a lot more time in as Little Man grows up. And we've got seating for 14 adults, which is nice for entertaining, I hope. This will be our first gathering since I learned I was pregnant.

To go with the peach theme I've made a jello mould with peaches fresh from our tree, and some panna cotta poured into individual cups for people to have with fresh fruit. No cheesecake this time. The baby only naps for 15-20 minutes at a time and I can't mix the batter while wearing him -- too much chance of disaster :)

M's mother will be arriving mid-week. I'm hoping it will be a good visit. I really enjoying meeting his aunts and uncles a couple of weeks ago. They said that M and I make a good team. I think so, too.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Descent of the Aunts

M's Aunt Jean sent an email that she and her sister would be coming this weekend. The email was titled "Descent of the Aunts." I read it with a grin. One was coming by Amtrak, the other, by plane, and the plan was to converge at SFO around noon and take the CalTrain to our place, since we're just 4 blocks from the station.

They and their spouses arrived here a little after 1pm on Saturday, bearing gifts. Jean handed them to me, but I left them for M to open -- he loves opening presents. My favorites of the gifts was a little porcelain piggy bank like the one I had as a kid, and the baby crocs shoes. It will be a while before he wears them, but he'll be able to wear them outside and help me in the garden next year. I look forward to making mudpies and running through the sprinklers with him :)

M enjoyed showing his family the house and telling them about the various projects we've done. They liked that the house seems modest in size from the front, but is so large on the inside as it unfolds along the depth of the lot. I like that about it, too. I've never been one for pretense -- which is why I balked when M wanted to look at houses in Palo Alto. After growing up in the Santa Barbara area, I'm full-up on pretentiousness. So we've got a nice modest-looking house in a friendly working-class neighborhood and the renovations have made it especially lovely.

M was proud to show off the patio extension we did with his father's help back in April. I'm still amused that I was hauling 15 pound pavers around at 7 months pregnant.  The whole patio area is really shaping up nicely, especially since we added the sunbrella to the patio set M's father got him for his birthday. There is still some clean-up work to do there, but I should have it done in time for the Peach Party we're having in a couple of weeks. I actually had to tie up the branches of the peach tree because it is so heavy with fruit.

The pièce de résistance was Little Man, of course. Both great-aunties spent a lot of time holding him, and even the uncles, too. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the beautiful weather and chatted for a couple of hours, at which point Jean noticed that I was tired. Little Man had me up at 5am, so by 3:30pm I was wilting. We arranged to meet for dinner at Buca di Beppo in SOMA and I laid down with the baby for a two-hour nap.

Dinner was quite an event. I'd never eaten at Buca's before, and so I was unprepared for the big, hearty family-style Italian fare and the celebratory atmosphere. Lots of birthdays with singing and clapping going on. It made conversation difficult, but eventually most of the groups left and by 10pm it was calm enough to visit a little. M's aunties said they think we make a good team, and told me that this is the happiest they've ever seen him, which was gratifying. I think he's the happiest he's been in the 15 years I've known him, and it's always nice to get independent confirmation of that perception.

He makes me happy, and I make him happy. Relationships are work, but when they work life really is beautiful. Fortunately, the arrival of the Little Man hasn't negatively impacted the connection we have.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

He's a charmer

Little Man is really developing a sunny personality. He's almost always smiling and cooing when he's awake. I'm finding him more interesting now that he's more interactive. Newborns are time-intensive, but monotonous, to care for. He seems to respond well to strangers -- and strangers to him. We were at Home Depot at 6am yesterday (what else is open at 6am?) scouting out plants (I picked up an arabian jasmine and a kaffir lily, both in bloom) and I was surprised by how many men were charmed by him.

In a couple of hours Little Man will be meeting his great aunties on his father's side of the family. M is looking forward to showing them the house and all the work we've done on it the past year. Hopefully they'll be able to see past the patches of messiness here and there. I didn't get a chance to tackle the floors like I wanted to -- I spent most of my free time the past two days cleaning up a mess the older cat made on the hardwood floor in the office. Grr. Any way, M is certain The Aunts are going to fall in love with Little Man. It will be interesting to see how it all goes.

Still no go on the nursing front. I've given up. We picked up a double-breast pump on Craig's List and I'm feeding him breastmilk via bottle. I do miss the way breastfeeding feels -- it's incredibly intimate and pleasurable and an amazing bonding experience.

Now that I'm pretty much recovered from childbirth (I still haves some lingering stiffness in the pelvic region) I'm feeling restless. When I'm not exhausted, that is :) There are things I want to do, and with the baby, they're just not an option anymore. No more writer's groups, Ruby Tuesday geek girl meetups, college alumnae meetings, photography expeditions, or visits to the gym. Not during the day, anyway. Little Man is still too young to leave with his father for more than 30 minutes or so. He seems to have this radar that wakes him up when I leave the house without him, and then he gets a little agitated when The Mama doesn't appear. When he's a little older, I'll have to look for meaningful social opportunities that involve other mothers and infants/toddlers -- something that is rather outside my experience. As an unintentional mother, I've never found babies all that interesting, and I confess that the conversations between my previously childless self and parents of young children were only marginally more interesting than their little kids. I'm definitely feeling the pressure of a paradigm shift.

In the meantime, I've been exploring the neighborhood on foot with an eye for future activities. There is a Shaolin Cultural Center a few blocks away that teaches a few of the forms of wushu (Chinese martial arts) as well as Mandarin language and culture. They offer classes for kids starting at age 4. There is also a kuk sool won school here in town, and the Buddhist temple nearby offers tai chi, hula, and bon odori dance practice. I also found out they have a Cub Scouts troop there, but given the recent decision by the organization to formally exclude gay boys and leaders, I doubt the Little Man will be a member. I've also found a Safari Run playland a few blocks away, in addition to the Junior Gym and the Kumon learning center over on B Street. The Martin Luther King Center offers lots of family activities, including swimming classes in the summer, and there are lots of parks in walking distance. All-in-all, this is a good neighborhood to raise a family in. That wasn't what I had in mind when I first noticed the house for sale -- I was more interested in walkability / proximity to Downtown and cultural diversity -- but it is going to work out well since I'm not going to be car-dependent and trapped in the suburbs.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Seven Weeks!

We've reached the 7 week mark.

Little Man is growing and growing. He's got to be over 10# (4.5kg) now. He's discovered that he can gnaw on his fist, and he's started moving his fingers independently of each other, rather than just keeping his hands in fists. He's holding his head up quite a lot now, bracing himself up on his elbows, and even pushing upward/forward with his feet. With all the hardwood floors in the house I think he's going to be an early crawler.

He's still a quiet baby, though he's beginning to make cooing noises and such, and his smiles fill my heart so full I can feel tears in my eyes. He's an active, fidgety baby. I could tell that about him in the womb. He's often awake for 3 or 4 hours at a time, his hands and feet moving around, and his eyes following everything. When he's like that I tend to put him in the Baby Bjorn and bounce him around as I do housekeeping and gardening chores. Honestly, I wish he slept more, because there are days I don't get to shower or change out of my pajamas and end up brushing my teeth in stages.

When my back gets tired of carrying him, I've been putting him in the baby carriage (minus the car seat) and wheel him around the house. The added bonus is the carriage has space to put things, so I use it to ferry stuff back and forth along with the baby. It's been great for when I'm working in the kitchen and I want him nearby but not on the counter. I even put him in it when I'm (trying) to take a shower, because he's at a good height to reach out and adjust the pacifier or touch him to try to soothe him.

Yesterday we went to the library for a couple of hours. I'm going through book-withdrawal, so I've decided to try audiobooks. He was very good--but then I've gotten very good at reading him, so I fed him and changed him before he even had a chance to fuss. The loudest thing he did was burp.

With M away at work this week I've been getting into more of a routine staying on top of the housekeeping. It's difficult to quietly while away 4, 5, and even 6 hours with the baby when we're waiting for M to wake up, and now that he's usually out of the house by 10am, I'm able to vacuum and scrub and bang around to my heart's content. Yes, crazy as it sounds, I enjoy (to a point) housecleaning -- mainly because a clean, organized home is one I can function (and relax) more easily in. If I don't keep up with it, every horizontal surface in the house would soon be covered, the way it was when M lived alone. Living with him I've become much more tolerant of disorder than I used to be, and I expect that with the baby I'll become even more so -- or have a nervous breakdown ;)

What else? I'm still lactating, and so I've got all those hormones going -- which means I'm more 'sensitive' than my usual self. Last night I actually told M that I didn't like him very much right then because he was being mean to me ;) At the time it seemed true, but in retrospect, I think I was just tired and overly sensitive. He's pretty good about helping me when I ask him to -- partly out of gratitude for not requiring him to help with the baby at night, I think. And M has been great about doing what he can to lighten my load or make things more efficient. For example, he noticed how much time I spent outside watering the 60ft planting bed alongside the patio, so he asked me if I wanted irrigation installed. Our landscape service wanted just $250 to install it and hook it up to our existing timer, so we got it done last weekend.

The plum tree in the back yard is dropping the sweetest cherry-sized plums right now. I set up a tarp to collect them -- partly to keep the mess off the lawn, and partly because it seems a shame for such bounty to rot on the ground. This week the peaches on the peach tree have started to get their blush. The tree is so heavy with fruit -- even after considerable thinning -- that the espaliered branches are bending. The fruit should be ripe in the next three weeks to a month, I think.

So far, things are going remarkably well. I'm learning how to plan the things I do to minimize back-and-forth, and to plan for those times when Little Man is napping in order to get things done (like now). M and I get less snuggle time than we used to, but that makes the moments we do catch even sweeter. Seven weeks into this new world of unintentional parenthood, I can say that life is (still) good.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Breast v. Bottle -- and 6 weeks of heartburn

Little Man isn't nursing. He doesn't want to nurse. He's made it abundantly clear that he finds nursing too much work / too frustrating compared to bottle-feeding.  I've seen the lactation consultant three times and I've got nipple shields and gravity-feed mini-tubing, and he's fine with them as long as he gets his milk straight away -- if there are any delays or kinks he pitches a fit. I'm trying to decide if messing with all this paraphernalia in hopes of getting him back on the breast is worth it. Admittedly, pumping 30oz of milk a day is a hassle, and the thought needing to pump for a couple of years is unexciting to say the least. The need to have a bottle ready in the wee hours, instead of just popping a nipple in his mouth so we can both get back to sleep, is disappointing. On the other hand, we're avoiding thrush and some of the other problems that go with nursing, and given my extreme sensitivity, that is something to be very happy about. In my observation, children that have been nursed for several months tend to be very secure -- they don't suffer from separation anxiety, etc -- so I've been trying to hold Little Man the way I would if he was nursing, rather than just propping him up and popping a bottle in his mouth (which I admit to doing sometimes).

I've been having problems with heartburn since we got home from the hospital -- even acid reflux and night coughing -- which is completely foreign to me. I've got (had) an iron stomach and now quite a lot of food isn't agreeing with me (yogurt, most dairy, sometimes eggs, most meats, fruits, juices, coffee, breads, etc). I've had to go buy protein drinks and protein bars to try to keep my intake up because I'm dropping 3 to 4 pounds a week and I'm concerned about the impact on my breastmilk supply. Even pumping ~30oz a day I'm having to supplement with 4 to 8 oz of formula a day for the past week. I'm hoping it's just because of the 5-6 week growth spurt I've heard about. I'm on a 14-day course of Prilosec to see if that eliminates the heartburn problem. Meanwhile I'm enjoying eating low-acid foods (like ice cream). I'll take any calories I can get right now.

Little Man's father went back to work today. I liked having him at home -- I really enjoy his company -- but it will be good to get into a routine during the week. Starting Monday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cloth Diapers

I am learning about the benefits and drawbacks of cloth diapers.

In addition to the environmental benefits (primarily less landfill and fewer trees), using cloth diapers is frugal. Disposable diapers cost $.30 to $.40 each, so I'm throwing $2 to $3 away each day (if I factor in the cost of doing the laundry, which I'm over-estimating at $1 a day). It also cuts down on the garbage service costs. I was about ready to step up to a larger garbage bin (we're using the smallest one) because a week's worth of disposable diapers (70 to 100) takes up a lot of room, when I decided that Little Man was now big enough to fit into the stash of cloth diapers I'd picked up from an acquaintance (about $400 worth of pre-fold diapers, diaper covers, all-in-ones, and miscellaneous paraphernalia for $50).

The first time I diapered him in the cloth diapers, I did it wrong, and the clothes along his back got wet.  So I went online and found this cloth diaper video from Susan at and realized that I hadn't folded the diaper over in the back so the cotton wicked the urine up where it came into contact with his onesie.  Silly me.

Using cloth diapers requires a bit more forethought. Instead of everything going into the garbage pail, nothing does, really. The diaper and it's paraphernalia needs to be sorted. There is a flushable insert to catch the poop-paste (looks like a fabric softener sheet), and the baby wipes are flushable, too, so they go into the toilet. Then there is the cloth diaper, and the diaper cover/wrap. Most of the time the diaper cover can be re-used, so I have little hooks above the changing table and I hang the just-worn one there to air-out. The soiled cloth diaper (in this case Indian cotton pre-fold) goes into a washable diaper bag designed to hold soiled diapers, which I'm washing every other day.

Once washed, I try to put pre-fold diapers with the liner already on it into the diaper wrap and stack them just above the diaper changing station to make things as easy as possible. Sometimes I just don't get around to being that organized, and I'll pull them directly from the laundry basket. Little Man is very active/alert for a 5-week old.

Of course, when out and about, disposable diapers are preferred, though I've recently learned that there are disposable-diaper type bio-degradable inserts (made by Grovia, gDiapers, and flip) designed to be used with diaper wraps for people who want the convenience of disposable diapers combined with the environmental friendliness of cloth diapers, for about the same price as conventional disposable diapers. I might give them a try--it should be easier than having to buy disposables in the baby's size and worry about him out-growing them before they're all used.

The only major drawback is teaching M how to do the cloth diapers. Fortunately, I've got all-in-ones for him to use, so no need to fuss with the pre-folds.

Monday, July 2, 2012

One Month Old

Little Man has been with us a month now, and wow, what a month!

It's amazing how quickly M and I have adapted our lives to the extreme changes that come with having a baby around 24/7. And amazing how much we haven't had to change.

Dining out, for now anyway, is still feasible. So is going to the movies. Sleep has become a luxury, though I know I'm getting more than a lot of new parents do. Little Man sleeps for a 4 hour stretch most nights. Keeping up with the house-work is a little more challenging, especially while M is home on paternity leave. Let's just say that he is getting a LOT more sleep than I am, often until nearly noon, and as a courtesy I avoid doing things like running the vacuum and other appliances until he is awake. At which point the noise bothers him. Ah well. A couple more weeks and he'll be back at work. And then all the family on his side will be coming to visit.

I'm finding that there are conveniences to bottle-feeding Little Man, but for the most part, I'm trying not to regret giving him the bottle, since he no longer wants to latch on to my breast. Too much work to get that milk, I think. I'm pumping about 30 ounces of milk a day and he's drinking nearly all of it, the little glutton. He's gained two pounds his first month of life, so he's less wrinkled. His cheeks are looking chubby and his thighs are filling-out, but he does not yet exhibit the rolls of fat that are characteristic of breast-fed babies.

He's less of a baby-blob than I thought he'd be. Past experiences with other infants lead me to believe that he'd mostly sleep when he wasn't eating, but Little Man is often alert and active for hours at a time. He surprised me on our first night with his ability to lift his head and shoulders, and as each day goes by, he gets stronger and stronger. He uses his hands to grip my clothes and uses his little legs to push himself as he climbs up my torso to reposition himself. Sometimes he likes being low on my belly, while at others, he wants to rest his forehead against my collarbone. He's also learning to mimic facial expressions. M has taught him how to stick out his tongue and make fish-lips. He's also starting to smile more and make noises, starting to experiment with his voice.

He's often enraptured by his father. M has a wonderful voice, and Little Man will turn to look at him, his eyes wide. M often unbuttons his shirts and puts the baby on his chest, especially when Little Man is being fussy and nothing I do settles him down. It's a heart-warming picture -- father and son enjoying a skin-on-skin interlude.

My body is mostly back to normal. The swelling in my feet is gone, and the tingling in my fingers, as well. The bulk of the bleeding stopped around day 20, and the lochia has been very light since then, though I've noticed a little bit of spotting again, the past couple of days. I've been walking a mile+ most days, some of them pushing Little Man in his pram, others wearing him in the Baby Bjorn. After half a mile of carrying him, it's definitely more of a workout. I've resumed most of my normal activities with the exception of heavy-lifting and other forms of exercise that put strain on the abdominal area. I don't want any hernias or other complications from over-exerting. So painting and power tools and gardening, yes, but no resistance-band training yet.

Motherhood seems to agree with me. My neighbors have commented that I seem to have un-aged a decade or two. Looking in the mirror, I do notice that something is different. I'm 44 and I have no wrinkles. Very little gray hair. My skin looks great (must be all that coco butter cream I'm slathering on after I shower) and the odd blemishes that appeared during pregnancy have completely cleared up. Breastfeeding is taking a fair amount of weight off of me, so much in fact that I'm meeting with a dietician/nutritionist today to see what I can do about that. I don't mind dropping a pound a week, but 4 pounds a week is just too fast, and I'm worried about endangering my milk supply.  As it is, I've pulled sorted through the bin of 'someday' clothes in my closet, only to realize that I've dropped two to three dress sizes since last summer and there is very little that fits properly. Washing everything in hot water and drying on high has helped shrink some stuff up, and while I can still wear a lot of my shirts with my breasts ballooned to DD/F territory, even the smallest skirts and pants in my closet hang down around my hips. I suppose I'm going to have to bite the bullet and do some clothes shopping some day soon. Grr. I hate shopping.

I admit to being a bit tired, and on the rare night that Little Man is fussy, I struggle under the pall of  exhaustion and irritability. I've awakened M a couple of times and handed the baby over to him when I'm at wit's end, though I try not to. M functions on 8 hours of sleep but needs 10. Less than 10 hours, or interrupted sleep, and he ends up with a headache all day, so I take care of the baby every night. M often takes over when he gets up, so I can  nap for a few hours. I am already longing for the day that Little Man can speak his needs so it is easier to meet them.

Little Man is adorable when he's sleeping, and when he snuggles up against me and his breath puffs against my skin, all is right in the world. Everything slows down. Time simultaneously stops and flies. My world narrows down to the confines of our home and the peace and love that exists within it. And I think that is as it should be. Yes. It is as it should be.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Celebratory Wine

To celebrate the birth of my son, I recently opened a bottle of wine I'd laid away a dozen years ago, a rare 1999 Bordeaux blend out of Willamette Valley Vineyards called The Griffin. I paid $75 for the bottle in 2000, and if I recall correctly, it was the first year that WVV made a Bordeaux-style blend -- 1999 was the first year the winemaker thought they had the perfect fruit for the attempt.

The wine itself was worth the 12-year wait. It poured from the bottle a deep blood red color -- a color you'd expect from a wine made with cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot grapes. The nose was complex, as was the taste. I'm not the type of person who intentionally singles out different scents or flavors from wines -- my feeling is that when you are preoccupied analyzing a wine (or a book, or painting, or anything similarly complex) you lessen the experience of the whole. In this case, the whole was a luscious, smooth red wine with very little astringency -- most of the tannin was aged out of it.

We drank it when we got home from a Moroccan restaurant. The wine was a good finish after a sweet meal (lamb with honey and almonds). The baby fared pretty well through all the music and belly-dancing, and was completely limp when we got home. I limited myself to one glass, to minimize the mount of alcohol that passed through to my breastmilk. It is interesting to note that even though he's no longer in utero, what I do with/to my body is still dictated by his needs -- and will be for another year or two.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TMI: Lady-parts postpartum discussion

While I am excited to have my body back, there are some things I wish I'd understood about what would happen to my body during the postpartum period, so I'm documenting it and passing it along to other first-time mothers. Just a warning, the ick-factor of the subject matter may make some people uncomfortable.

First, the bleeding/discharge, also known as lochia. A friend recommended I stock up on sanitary pads a couple of months ago, and the hospital gave me a package of maternity pads, but I didn't really understand what I was in for. It's been two weeks and I'm still bleeding, though it is lessening. It's like menstrual flow at first, and then it changes (as mentioned in the wiki article I've linked to). There is also the smell, which is a lot like the typical coppery menstrual smell, along with a fresh-meat/meat counter scent that is probably related to healing up from the level 2 perineal tear. I recommend buying heavy-duty pads and just preparing yourself to spend a few weeks feeling less-than-pretty while dealing with your messy Aunt Flow.

Second, anemia. Most women experience anemia in the Third Trimester, I learned. I'd never been anemic before, and even with extra iron in my prenatal vitamin, my iron, etc tested low. I ended up taking ferrous fumarate supplements my last couple of months of pregnancy, because the last thing I wanted was to go into childbirth anemic. With all the bleeding that has been going on, and all the energy that is required to take care of a newborn, I strongly recommend taking extra iron in the Third Trimester and continuing it for a while afterwards.

Third, constipation. In the last weeks of pregnancy I didn't eat much, so I didn't have much in the way of bowel movements, but given that I was taking iron supplements, which are known to be constipating, I made sure to eat a couple of dried figs for fiber every day. Also, I learned the hard way that some of the pain medications used during childbirth can cause constipation/hard stools, and when you're sore and healing from an episiotomy or a tear, (or a C-section for that matter) the last thing you want to do is bear down, so do yourself a favor and have stool softeners waiting for you when you get home from the hospital.You'll be taking them for a couple of weeks, at least, until you're healed up "down there."

Fourth, inflammation and pain. Sitting was very uncomfortable for several days. I can't take NSAIDs, but I wish I could, because the inflammation of the vaginal and rectal areas are aggravated by the pressure/pain from sitting, including using the toilet. In my case, I have access to a Japanese bidet (a Toto Washlet) or I would have used a sitz bath. Soaking helps with the discomfort as well as keeping clean. I use baby wipes instead of toilet tissue right now, as it reduces the abrasion of tender tissues. In the medical profession pain is considered the fifth vital sign. It is important to keep pain levels down when you're healing because otherwise your body diverts resources toward the stress response (fight or flight, production of adrenaline, cortisol, etc). Add pain on top of dealing with a fussy newborn and a sleep deficit, and you're likely to be irritable toward everyone around you. So make sure you've got adequate pain relief when you leave the hospital.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Life with baby, week two.

So far Daddy M and I are adapting fairly easily to the changes that Little Man is bringing to our lives.  It's good that his father has several weeks of paternity leave because it gives them time to bond. I love settling Little Man on his father's bare chest and watching him relax into his father's warmth, arms limp and hanging down along Daddy's ribs. They nap well together, now that M is learning how to relax with the baby on his chest. He's been great about stepping in to help with baby-related stuff when I find myself trying to juggle too many things at once.

Being a mother is a comfortable role for me. I wear it well. It's definitely not a role I ever intended to take on, but it suits me all the same. My life has changed significantly, but not beyond recognition. I value tranquility and contemplation, and while there is certainly less of both in my life these days, nursing Little Man does create opportunities for meditative moments. These little time-outs are restorative. They also enhance the bonding process and force me to slow down. There is very little going on in my world that can't wait until a baby finishes nursing, I've discovered.

We are blessed with an easy baby. Little Man rarely cries or fusses, and in the past two weeks I've learned to read him well enough to know when he's gassy and needs burping, when he needs a diaper change, when he's hungry, and when he wants snuggling. He's got a great smile that he shares liberally with us, and each day he's more alert for longer stretches of time. I carry or wear him around the house and outside when I'm puttering in the garden. He's such a quiet little guy that we've taken him to a few restaurants and even to a movie without incident. Our proximity to downtown means we can walk to dinner or the movies pushing him along in the pram, and when he's older the nearby city parks are going to be very easy to visit.

I am blessed with the ability to be fully functional on 4 to 6 hours of patchwork sleep.  It's hereditary, I think. My sisters were the same way, as was my mother. I am also blessed that Little Man only wakes up once a night for a feeding. I usually feed him at 11pm, again at 3am-ish, and then when we wakes up again sometime between 6 and 8 am, depending on how long it took him to get back to sleep from his middle-of-the-night milk-a-thon. He's drinking 3 and sometimes even 4 ounces at a time now, which is why he's sleeping for longer stretches than a lot of other newborns.

He started out rather small, at 7 pounds 1 ounce, and after losing 9 ounces on colostrum-only, was 7 pounds 9 ounces on Day 12. He's getting about 1/2 a liter of breastmilk a day (18 ounces), which accounts for his weight increase. And some of my weight loss, I'm sure. I'm glad I made the effort to exercise and keep my weight down during the pregnancy, because my energy-level bounced back up to near-normal within a few days after the baby was born. Seriously. I was cleaning house, doing laundry, gardening, baking, and taking care of the baby with just Daddy M's help (my step-mother had to go home the morning after I came home from the hospital) by Day 4. Apparently this quick a recovery isn't common, but I attribute it partially to my hardy Scottish and German peasant heritage (I'm built for baby-making) and partially to my efforts to stay active and keep my weight gain to a minimum so my body isn't burdened with the exhausting task of moving a lot of surplus weight around in addition to keeping up with the demands of a newborn. As it is, I'm looking forward to the soreness and bleeding to end so I can get to work firming up my lower body. I feel loose and jello-y in my abdomen and hips, and trying to walk at my usual pace still causes pelvic discomfort.

The wait to find out what he looks like isn't over yet. Infants are so plastic. So far it looks like Little Man has my nose. I wish he'd gotten his father's lovely grecian nose instead of my snub nose. I think he's got his father's mouth and eyes. Not sure about the chin yet. It's a pointy chin right now. If it had a hint of a cleft or a dimple I'd say he'd gotten mine, but time will tell. He definitely got my ears, which I got from my father's side of the family. His hair is brown and straight right now, but I know that newborn hair often falls out and grows in quite different. I was born with dark hair that fell out and grew in straight and blonde, and then when I hit puberty it turned dark and curly. Everyone comments on the perfect shape of his head. So far it looks like he's got his father's slender build rather than my sturdier one. Hopefully that means he'll have his father's grace, because I have very little. Without a doubt he's got my feet -- I'd know those long, almost prehensile toes anywhere :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

A mother's fears

In my late 30's, I conquered Fear. I picked up the tools for dealing with self-sabotaging fears -- the fears that existed in my head, in my inner world, but not in the real world. I faced my own mortality, I sat with the dying, and I went out and did the things I feared doing because I was tired of being afraid all the time. I learned that everyone is afraid, and that the difference between myself and people who did great things was that the people who did great things felt afraid and acted anyway. I learned that if I wanted to fulfill my own capacity for greatness, I had to develop tools for moving past the paralysis of fear, and use them, every day, until it became second nature to acknowledge my fears and act anyway.

I got off the fear bandwagon, and it was very freeing.

Until last week.

Last week, when my newborn was jaundiced and losing weight and not pooping -- I felt real fear for the first time in years. It was a new kind of fear, and it hit me in the gut like a suckerpunch: What if something happens to my Little Man?

 That thought brought anguish greater than I'd felt at the loss of my sister -- the most keenly felt loss of all the deaths of loved-ones yet -- and sent my mind reeling down the What If path.  As soon as I realized where I was going though, I stopped that self-indulgent sabotage. Down that path lies Smothering Motherhood and an Anxious Fearful Child.

Somewhere there is a balance, and I'll find it. In the meantime, I accept that I'll probably swing between extremes for a bit. I'm sure life will present me many opportunities to confront my mother-fears. I'm also certain I'm up to the challenge of raising a happy, well-adjusted child -- all my fears aside.

I'm also certain that the physical, gut-wrenching response to threats to my son's health and well-being will be with me for the rest of my life. I've just got to learn to accept it as one of the tithes of motherhood and hope it gets easier to think critically and act appropriately despite the fear and the pain.

It does get easier, right?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Little Man's First Week

This first week with our newborn has been challenging. Little Man is jaundiced, but improving. At full-term birth he was 7lbs 1oz but within 3 days he lost 9oz -- about 8% of his original weight. It was tough to see him losing weight on the colostrum he was drawing from my breasts, and when I was told it could take 5 days for my milk to come in, I felt real fear for him. I started drinking Mother's Milk tea and visualizing breasts full of milk during my meditative moments. When my milk came in I was ecstatic, and the blissed-out expression on Little Man's face as he fell asleep with a full belly of milk is one I will always remember.

Our next challenge to face was bowel movements. After 5 days he stopped passing the meconium (which I call toxic waste) and stopped passing anything at all. After 24 hours I called the advice line. They recommended I stimulate his bottom with petroleum jelly and breastfeed him longer and more often, so I did. After 48 hours I was at the pediatric clinic, where they tested his bilirubin (up but not at danger level), took his temperature with a generously lubed anal thermometer, and observed me breastfeeding him to make sure he was drawing enough milk. He was a very aggressive latcher, and I'm producing lots of milk, but the lactation nurse recommended that we supplement the breastfeeding with an additional 2oz of expressed milk every 2.5 to 3 hours. Five feedings later we got what we were looking for, thankfully, but with an undesired side-effect: nipple confusion. He won't latch on anymore, I think because it's so much easier to get milk from a bottle's nipple. So, once we've got his weight up and his bilirubin down, I'll start the battle to get him back on the breast. Thankfully, Kaiser Permanente is strongly committed to breastfeeding because it makes for healthier, happier babies, so I'm getting lots of support from the lactation consultants on staff.

Speaking of Kaiser Permanente, I've got to say that I'm really impressed with this foundation as a health care provider and insurer. My prenatal care was excellent. There was no stinginess when it came to making sure that the baby and I were as healthy as possible, and with all the ultrasounds, fetal non-stress tests, dozens of doctor's appointments, specialist visits, lab tests, etc, I only made one (yes one!) $10 co-pay. My only expenses were my medications and nutritional supplements, and gasoline for all the to-and-fro. The birth experience was great, too. The Redwood City birthing center is staffed with midwives in addition to nurses and doctors, which is why I chose it. It was a very caring environment and the staff all did a great job of keeping me in the loop and educating me so I could make informed choices about how to progress with the laboring and delivery processes. I ended up with two hospital stay co-pays of $100 each. Knowing that I didn't have to worry about minimum deductibles and residual fees made the pregnancy much less stressful than it otherwise could have been.

What else? I'm retaining more water now than I did during my pregnancy. My feet and ankles look pillowy. The past couple of days I've been wrapping them in compression bandages and elevating them, and it does help -- they look better than they used to, but some of the swelling comes back within an hour or so of removing them. I'm still feeling bloated and flabby, and very sore/tender from the waist down, but that is to be expected. Even so, it appears I lost a dress size or two during the pregnancy. I had to dig deep into my closet to find a pair of pants to wear that don't hang off of me, and most of my skirts are way too loose. It will be interesting to see what my weight is now, and what my dress size is once I've firmed up.

Daddy M is being great. He never fails to step-up when I ask him for something. He's taking time out each day to do a skin-on-skin snuggle with his son, and helps with the supplemental feedings. We had a couple of emotional flare-ups the day after my parents went home, mainly because I was in pain and tired and feeling overwhelmed, but since then, my emotional state has been balanced and my body is handling the pain/discomfort better as I'm adjusting to the new sleep schedule and feeling less tired.

Almost time to wake Little Man for his next feeding! I think I'm going to hop into the shower while I can.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Little Man is here!

Our little man arrived this past weekend. 

It seems I managed to avoid the C-section that the doctor thought I was going to need because my cervix was so slow to dilate. They put in an epidural before they started the pitocin, and thus before there was any real pain, because my history of long, difficult intubations (for anesthesia) could be problematic if an emergency C-section was needed and I was too far along for an epidural. However, the slow induction worked out in the end -- after 20 hours on pitocin I suddenly progressed from 4cm to 8cm in a 2 hour period and then there was no stopping his arrival -- I pushed 3 times (with a lot of yelling on my part as it seemed once he was in the birth canal the epidural wasn't as effective) and there he was! The midwife said that the birth was so fast he was in shock when he arrived. It took a minute or so for him to cry.

M and my step-mother were there for the birth. Just barely. They walked into the room as he was crowning. M really surprised me by how much he participated in the delivery (he'd expressed some squeamishness) and early care of the baby. He was going to cut the cord but as they handed him the scissors the doctor cut the cord -- apparently it was wrapped around the little man's neck. My mom was here for a couple of days but had to go home. Fortunately, M is on paid paternity leave so he helps me with Little Man. He's a bit overwhelmed right now, but I've never known him to fail to step-up.

He's a perfectly healthy baby boy, thankfully. We had our concerns, even after the genetic screening came back clear, because of my age and the fact that I was on some medications in the first trimester (including the contraceptive pill) that they steered me clear of once I was diagnosed as pregnant. Since I managed my pregnancy weight so well, he was 7 pounds at birth. It looks like he'll have brown hair and brown or hazel eyes. He's got long legs and big feet so it looks like he's going to get the height on my father's side of the family, just like M wanted. Unfortunately, it also looks like he got my nose, which I have courtesy of my father ;)
The Unintentional Mother's Little Man
The first days with Little Man have been pretty intense, especially when he was only getting colostrum from my breasts, but now that my milk has come in, he's sleeping longer and the quality of his hunger cries is far less heartbreaking for me.

Well, the little guy is awake. Time for breakfast!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Labor & Delivery Day (take two)

Tomorrow we try again with the labor induction. I don't doubt we'll be successful this time. I saw my obstetrician today and she said that I've dilated another centimeter and I'm 50% effaced, so I've made progress in the last four days. This is great news, because it means that this time around my body is more ready for labor.

I'm doing my best to envision a positive birthing experience, particularly one without the need for a C-section. I've spooked the anesthesiology department with my revelation that in all three of my experiences with general anesthesia, I was very difficult to intubate -- my most recent one took 30 minutes, even with a glide-scope. I'm "anterior" -- whatever that means -- the first anesthesiologist repeated it to me over and over again as I was being taken to recovery. I remember her urgency, saying I needed to remember that one word to give to a doctor if I ever had to go under again. So now the Labor and Delivery team are on notice that Anesthesia needs as much lead time as they can get if it looks like a C-section is needed. The mid-wife's response?  "We'll just have to make sure we won't need a C-section then."  I liked her immensely after that :)

I've had time to relax this week since I got the last of the preparation work done last week. I'm feeling much more rested and centered.

I'm kind of dreading breastfeeding. I've been having those nipple vasospasms two and three times a day, and instead of dragging myself into the shower in the middle of the night, I've been having an ounce of alcohol--which my OB says is ok, especially after she witnessed first-hand just how painful they are. The alcohol is a vasodilator that counteracts the vasoconstriction, usually within 5 minutes or so. It's blessed relief. On top of that, I've been having breathtakingly painful charlie-horse muscle spasms in the groin area the past few nights, so I'm eager to push the little guy out.

I'm looking forward to getting my bladder back, and my stomach, too. Solid food isn't sitting well with me, hasn't for weeks. Most of all, though, I'm looking forward to this next stage of my life.

In some ways I'm still in disbelief that I'm having a baby, even as the reality of it kicks me in the diaphragm and bounces on my bladder. But I'm just crazy about M and we've got a good life and a beautiful home and it seems natural for the baby to be the next thing. After that, who knows?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Back home, no baby -- yet

I had no idea that labor induction could fail, until it happened to me.

I went in on the evening of May 25th and they started me on Oral Cytotec to try to soften up my cervix and start contractions. Well, contractions started, but over the course of 36 hours there was no change in my cervix.  I was given the option of going home and seeing if nature would take it's course over the next few days (and coming back on the 31st if not) or changing up to Pitocin and using a balloon to widen the cervix.

At first I was leaning toward more intervention. I was already there at the hospital and I was tired of being pregnant. I'd also overheard three other women give birth in the room next door, and wanted to move on with labor so I wouldn't have more time to dwell on what it sounded like they were going through. But after talking with the mid-wife, nurse, and OB-on-duty, I chose to go home. I Do Not Want A C-Section, and putting me on Pitocin when I'm not even 2cm dilated means hours and hours of the baby's head slamming against my cervix until it dilates and we 1) have a vaginal birth, 2) have a baby in distress and they to do a C-section, or 3) wear me out and I need to do a C-Section. After thinking about it, the battering ram approach just didn't sound like a good way to start the labor and delivery process -- so I'm back home as of yesterday noon.

Today there is a little discomfort -- a big improvement over yesterday, as I was very sore in my lower abdominal area from all the induced contractions. I continued to have some contractions throughout the day and hoped they would continue into today, but I haven't noticed any, which is a big bummer. It looks like our hopes that the Cytotec would jump-start the laboring process even once the drug left my system isn't panning out. Ah well.

In the meantime, I'm being as active as I can. I may even get out there and do some gardening. The nurse midwife said to go home and have sex, and try some nipple stimulation. I've been having very painful nipple vasospasms lately so the thought of stimulation makes me cringe, and I'm tender enough in my nether parts after the contractions that the thought of sex also makes me cringe. We'll see what the next few days bring.

Naturally, I'm feeling disappointed, but I'm also pleased with my decision to go home and not force the labor. The OB on duty told me he thought it was the right decision. I don't want to increase the risk of a long, hard labor that ends in a C-section -- it's not the best thing for me or the baby. He'll be here soon enough. We just need to balance the benefits of letting him choose his time against the risks of placental and amniotic deterioration that are more common in women my age.

In the meantime, my step-mom will be around until the birth, and I'll get some more just-us snuggle time with M. Not a bad trade-off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Try a little tenderness (instead of pissiness)

I was up and around after 4 hours sleep.

The "up" part has become a lot more challenging this past week. It's something I do s-l-o-w-l-y so the baby weight in my uterus has time to shift with me. If I get up too quickly it just plain hurts, so I ease into a standing position and make my way around the house with the help of the walls until I've got my equilibrium and momentum. I cleaned the kitchen, fed the cats, took my morning vitamins, and got to work finishing the data migration from my old MacBook Pro to the new one. I know if I don't have it done before the baby comes it could be months before I've got a fully-functioning personal computer again.

The wind woke M up about 10 minutes earlier than his usual time. It's been gusting up to 40mph here for at least 36 hours and the wind downed a gorgeous old olive tree across the street yesterday. We spent a little time together before he fired up the computers for work and play, and by 10am I felt an uncontrollable urge to nap.

We had another workman come in today, and after I found dealing with yesterday's workman so tiring, M decided to work from home today to help me out. The window for his arrival was 9:30-11:00 and at 10:50am, while I was napping, M got into the shower. He thought the guy was going to be a no-show. Nope. At 10:55 the doorbell rang. Then some knocking. I yelled for M to get the door, not knowing he was in the shower. The doorbell rang again and more knocking. I realized that if I didn't get to the door soon, the guy might leave, and the hole in the wall (left by the plumber who repaired a leak in the master bath) would go un-repaired. So I leaped out of bed (a feat that hurt so badly my knees almost buckled) and hobbled to the door as fast as my legs and the walls would support me. This 60 foot dash had me a little out of breath as I opened the door, still in my pajamas and clutching at my belly. I'm sure I wasn't a pretty picture, and as a result of my humiliation and disappointment, I sought out poor M while he was still in the shower and got pissy with him. It took me about half an hour to get over my pissyness, even after he'd apologized a couple of times and gave me a hug. Grr.

The good news is the contractor did a great job of patching up our wall. If we had regular drywall I would have patched it myself, but we don't. The walls in our circa 1950 house have two layers of wallboard--one is cementboard and another is a plasterboard that was a precursor to sheetrock, for a combined thickness of about 3/4". I didn't feel like wrestling with trying to find a combination of furring strips and sheetrock that would make the right thickness to match the rest of the wall, or doing the amount of messy mudding (spackling) it would take to build the surface up if I had to use just 5/8" drywall--even if I wasn't 39 weeks pregnant :) The best thing about being "handy" is knowing how to do a cost-benefit analysis that helps determine whether or not to let a pro do the work.

This afternoon we snuggled a bit and had a mini-talk about how the baby is going to impact our lives. I told him he's going to have to step in as the primary source of attention for Jasper, who is a very social animal and needs interaction with his people, or he acts out. It's rather funny, actually.

I also told him that I want him to let me know if he is experiencing an attention deficit, because I'm going to be tuning into the baby's needs and may not be as attuned to his. I've gotten very good about letting him know what my needs are, even making an effort to give him advanced notice where I can, and I've also gotten very good at anticipating his needs (which he loves--who wouldn't?) but realistically, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to maintain that level of presence with a newborn on my hands. I know a lot of couples go through a tough time the first 6 months because the father feels like a third wheel and an afterthought and I'm hoping to avoid that by reminding M that he has a better chance of getting what he wants if he has the presence of mind to ask for it ;)

Tonight he plays poker with his friends, and I get the evening to myself. Probably the last evening alone in a long, long time.

Tomorrow night we'll have our Last Supper as a childless couple.

And Friday morning we initiate labor. Finally.

Wish me luck!