Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Epi-blog-ue

Looking at Charlie's birth in retrospect, I think it was wonderful and vastly different from Mumble's birth. I do sometimes wish that I had not gotten the epidural, other times I'm glad I did. It was on my terms, rather than because the hospital staff was trying to 'move things along' and gave me Pitocin. Being able to own that decision makes a big difference in how I feel about it. A few days after we brought Charlie home, I broke down about it to Micha. He feels some guilt because he felt like he let me down as the 'coach'. He said 'Well, can you hold Charlie and eat a bunch of chocolate?' He was partially joking but it's his way of saying 'I don't understand, but I don't want you to be upset.' Oddly enough he said, "Well next time maybe we can do it at home." This from the guy who, when I mentioned home birth, said "Why would anyone do that? That is crazy!" He was actually a really good partner, considering the fact that he was really not prepared. That might be the one part of this hospital birth experience that I was the most disappointed with. We took a child birth prep class and the majority of the time, the instructor talked about surgical births, worst case scenarios and her own child birth experiences. She spent an inordinate amount of time showing the various positions that the bed can be converted to (I've had labors shorter than the time it took her to demonstrate!) Very little time was spent on a normal, vaginal delivery or on how to cope with labor and how to support labor. In fact, Micha was very surprised when he was told to hold my leg and there wasn't a sheet covering my lower extremities like in the movies.

Charlie is two weeks old and we are still trying to figure each other out. Breastfeeding is presenting some challenges, as I suppose it does for everyone. Charlie 'cluster feeds' between the hours of 1am and 3 or sometimes 5am. Basically, he nurses non-stop, only pausing to be burped or changed or to switch sides. Compounding the lack of sleep and the sand paper nipples is the fact that Charlie is a 0 to 60 in 3 seconds baby. What I mean is, if Charlie's need isn't met in 3 seconds or less, he has a full-blown nuclear melt down. Also he is not crazy about the pacifier. The hospital sent one home with us which Lily the Destroyer promptly ate. My Mom had given me a variety of different ones knowing that babies can sometimes be particular about which pacifier they will take. Charlie didn't like any of them. The only one he liked was the one the hospital sent home, the one we couldn't find in any store and the one we didn't know the manufacturer of. Through Facebook, I did find out who the vendor was and ordered 7 more but my nipples, which had nearly healed, were starting to feel like sandpaper again. The lanolin and the soothies weren't helping any more and I was crying through night time feedings. This prompted Micha to make a 3:30 am trip to the ER to beg the hospital staff for another one while we waited for the one's I ordered to arrive.

I was having a conversation with a friend who took Charlie's newborn photos and she made the comment she felt like she was better at motherhood when she was 'too young'. She also had her first child at 19 and said she never thought about it, she just did it. I feel the exact same way. When Mumbles was born, I just did what needed to be done, I never considered the lack of sleep or the time it took heal up. With the exception of some anxiety post-partum was not even part of my vocabulary. Now I cry...a lot. I cry because I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, or because I'm tired or because my boobs hurt. I cry because I'm happy or I'm looking at Charlie while he sleeps and he is just so perfect. I cry because Micha is traveling or because I resent him for being able to sleep when I can't. And then Charlie makes a funny face or noise and I'm smiling and laughing.


I'm starting a new blog for the next chapter of my life: Charles in Charge

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Charlie's Birth Story

October 4th- My Mom's birthday, naturally with my due date being so close and Mumbles having been a little early, we've all mused about the possibility of Charlie and Mom sharing birthdays. After all the nonsense with the insurance and a couple false alarms, I had pretty much resolved to stop thinking about it. The truth was, I wasn't ready to not be pregnant anymore. I loved being pregnant and I didn't feel miserable like a lot of women do toward the end. Of course I was excited to see and hold my baby but I knew I would miss feeling him kick and the sense that as long as he was in there, he would be safe and happy. Once he was out in the world, he'd feel cold and hunger and loneliness. There would be times when he'd cry and I wouldn't know immediately how to help him. I always hated when Mumbles cried. Still do.
At any rate, it was a Monday not much different than any other Monday. I snapped a quick picture of myself in the bathroom mirror before leaving for what would be another boring day at the office. While I was at work, I decided to re-read the amazing birth stories of a few women who'd shared them via Facebook. For whatever reason, the stories of two sisters stuck out in my mind, specifically, the fact that they both felt 'crampy' right before their labors began.
After dinner, Micha and I took the dogs on a long walk. Truthfully, most walks any further than a couple blocks were long considering my need to be in close proximity to a bathroom at all times. On our way back, I felt 'crampy'. Not wanting to read too much into it only to be another false alarm, I blew it off. I thought to myself 'I'm looking for it because I read Kim and Kristin's birth stories.' I didn't think much more about it and went to bed. I woke up the usual five times to go to the bathroom, each time feeling 'crampy' but again I thought to myself that it was just because my bladder was full.

October 5th- When my alarm went off at 5:30 am, I woke up still feeling crampy. The cramps always went away but I didn't want to drive all the way into to work, only to have to turn around. I sent my boss a text message saying it was too early to tell but I thought I might be in labor but that I would be in later if I wasn't. I woke Micha up and told him I thought I was really close. Mumbles got on her bus like usual. I called my Mom and gave her kind of the 'please stand by'. I timed three contractions and they were about eight minutes apart. I called my Mom back. She's about three hours from us and I wanted her to have plenty of time to get here. Micha made me a good, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast: Malt-O-Meal and two eggs and then ran me a warm bath. I soaked in the tub while he loaded the car, put more air in my exercise ball, installed the car seat and packed his own bag. I felt pretty good in the tub and then I got out. I got dressed and tried to make sure I had everything but the contractions felt like they were coming very quickly and they were definitely more painful. I'd get down on all fours or lean over my ball and breath through them. We decided we should time a couple more. They were about 5 to 6 minutes apart. Micha called the doctor's office and they told him we should go ahead and come in. Micha was ready to go, I however; did not want to leave my bedroom. I wanted to get back in my bath tub and stay there. Getting into the car for the 15 minute ride to the hospital was the last place I wanted to be. I started to feel overwhelmed and I told Micha it hurt too much and I wanted the epidural. He said he didn't blame me and let's get in the car to which I shook my head 'no'. We did finally make it to the car and out the drive way but we had to stop after a couple blocks because I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. The idea of puking terrified me. I was pretty sure it was going to hurt so I didn't. I knew I had to do something to get on top of my contractions so I started listening to one of my meditations on my iPhone. By the time we got to the interstate, I was starting to feel more in control.
We arrived at the hospital and a very nice but ill-informed volunteer wheeled me up to the 5th floor but sent Micha to patient registration (which we'd already done). I tried not to be rude but she kept talking to me and I was feeling less than social. We got to my room and my nurse Kerri was extremely helpful. She didn't bother me while I was contracting and kept telling me I was doing great. Poor Micha was running through the hospital getting forms for me to sign. It seemed like he was gone forever and I still had to be hooked up to the monitors for 15 to 20 minutes. I didn't want to lay down so I sat in the rocker but every contraction made me want to rip off the monitors and throw them in the toilet. I wanted to be on all fours or in the tub or anywhere but that damn chair. Micha asked Kerri how dilated I was and she said about 5 or 6 and my contractions where about 2 minutes apart. The phlebotomist came to take my blood and asked me about my name. I didn't answer. I didn't want to talk. I just wanted to listen to my relaxation meditation on my phone, which rang in the middle of a contraction. It was my best friend. I told Micha to deal with her. I was getting overwhelmed again and couldn't get on top of my contractions. I felt out of control. I was having these little contractions between contractions, making it impossible to get caught up. When Micha said I might not need the epidural after all, I said I wanted it. Kerri started IV fluids and my Mom arrived shortly after.
Once I had the epidural, I had to stay in bed. I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's with no sound, and chatted with my Mom and Micha. It took quite awhile for Charlie to get himself in just the right spot which actually turned out to be good because Dr. MacFarlane was with another patient (maybe an emergency?) He did come in to check me and when he did my water broke. It was still quite some time before it was time to start pushing. Kerri helped me get Charlie down most of the way and then called Dr MacFarlane...and got his voice mail! I could tell Micha was starting to get nervous but Mom and I stayed calm and it wasn't long and the Doctor arrived. I honestly don't remember his presence there, just the sound of my mother's voice encouraging me to either push or breath and the song on my iPhone (I'd left one of my ear buds in). Charlie arrived to "I Can't Help Falling in Love" as sung by Micheal Buble, which I think is totally appropriate. Then I heard her say she could see his head so I reached down to feel, no hair (and I had all that heartburn!) I probably only pushed for half an hour. Time does something funny when you are in labor. It either stands still or it flies by. It seemed like my Mom got to the hospital amazingly quickly while it seemed like Micha was gone for ever. Pushing seemed to take just a few moments. I hadn't had enough of the epidural to make me completely numb. I still felt my contractions and I still felt Charlie moving through me, it just didn't register as pain, just a sensation. I could see his head and I knew it wasn't the right color but I just kept focusing on what my Mom was saying and then he was out. He was blue from the umbilical cord being wrapped around him but they put him on my abdomen and started rubbing him with a towel. He looked surprised and then he let out a cry. After a couple minutes I heard the nurse say "I like that color much better." Charlie had 'pinked' up and looked perfect. I looked up at Micha and he was fighting back tears (my Mom and sister had a bet over whether or not he would cry). I watched while they clamped the cord and showed Micha what to do. Dr. MacFarlane stitched me up, told us we did great and congratulated us and left. The nurses went shortly after that and then it was just us for a little while. I'm sure there was other stuff going on in the world at 5:02 pm on October 5th but I wouldn't have known it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Meltdown

In yesterdays post, Are we there yet?, I talked about my stupid insurance company, with their stupid deductible and all the stupid people who think it's just as simple as making the baby come before the end of the month. A few hours after posting, I thought I might have been leaking amnio fluid. I tried not to get excited about it and for 45 minutes, tried to figure out whether I was just peeing my pants, a drop at a time or if it was in fact my water. Finally, I decided to just go to my doctor's office and have them do the test. I knew if I didn't Micha and I would just be freaking out all night. Turns out, I was just peeing myself. Awesome. This baby is not coming until October and I get to be wet the entire rest of time. And that was it, I completely lost it. I started bawling, sobbing loudly, in the car, driving down I35 all the way home. I scared Micha when I finally pulled in the drive, still sobbing. Was I really that upset about peeing myself? No, I've been peeing myself for weeks now the only difference is I can't really feel it anymore. Was I upset that I wasn't going into labor and thought I soon would be? No, I'm actually torn between being excited to be so close to holding Charlie and being sad that I won't be pregnant anymore. I was just tired of thinking about it. I was tired of hearing all day long things like "Clocks ticking" and "Wouldn't that be better than paying an extra $1000?" (when referring to the affects of Castor Oil and/or Pitocin). For starters, I am not going to issue an ultimatum to my baby, "Either come out on your own before midnight Sept 30th or I will make you come out!" I'm not evicting Charlie from my uterus. Secondly, unless you've actually had Pitocin, then shut the hell up! It's not like getting an IV of antibiotics. It's miserably painful- more so than natural, unmedicated labor. And yes, I could have an epidural, and like last time the headache that accompanied it for the week following delivery. An unrelenting headache and a newborn baby, between the two of which, a new Mom will never sleep. Sounds like a real party. Induction isn't even on the table anyway. My doctor won't do it and I think it's great that he feels strongly enough about letting babies arrive in their own time, not to allow patients who might be tired or uncomfortable to just decide they don't want to be pregnant anymore and force the baby out.

My doctor did offer up a couple suggestions but most of the options are about as appealing as the ass end of a skunk. There's the old wives tale about sex, which actually has some scientific basis and is the only attractive option. Micha really likes this suggestion, although maybe not in conjunction with some of the other methods. The most effective, in the doc's opinion, is Castor Oil. Castor Oil is not only not very palatable, it also works by causing diarrhea. Lovely. The other is what is called 'sweeping the membranes'. Now, let me preface the explanation of what this is with a little statement about my doc. When he does my exams, he is extremely 'kind'. I'm 31 years old and this is my second pregnancy so I can guesstimate that I've had approximately 20 or so vaginal exams in my lifetime and he, by far, is the best. Very quick and virtually no discomfort. This is important, particularly during pregnancy, because when you already have something essentially the weight of a bowling ball sitting on top of your cervix, the last thing you want is some guy with gorilla hands feeling around up there. 'Sweeping the membranes' is when the practitioner goes in with his fingers and pulls the membrane away from the uterus around the opening of the cervix. In order to accomplish this, he would have to push his fingers through the cervix. Sound painful? By all accounts, it is. Plus, there's not much evidence that sweeping the membranes works and there's the small risk of accidentally rupturing the membrane, at which point the clock really does start ticking due to the increased risk of infection.  Fenugreek and Evening Primrose Oil have also been used to get labor started but little is known about their efficacy and Fenugreek can cause diarrhea and Primrose Oil is thought to lengthen labor time.

So I can have a painful, invasive vaginal procedure while having the shits with a suppository stuck up my woo hoo ditty, and that might start my labor but it will be longer than if I had just waited. (Notice I didn't mention having sex because, let's face it, with all that going on there's no way sex is happening.) The best part is, the baby may still not be ready before midnight on September 30th, making my last few weeks of pregnancy miserable for no good reason. Where do I sign up?! I wish the money wasn't a consideration for us, but that just isn't our lot. There are somethings that are just not worth the worry though and somethings that are totally worth the wait.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 38- Are we there yet?

I am a planner. It's my nature. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, I start planning my steps, even on my days off. Don't get me wrong I plan for stuff like fun and naps, but it's typically after the work has been done. And I don't get bent competely out of shape when things don't go exactly according to my plan because I plan for them not to. Naturally, when I found out I was pregnant, I started planning. What kind of birth did I want? Who will be there? Who will take care of Mumbles? How will we pay for it? And my personal favorite, when do we decorate the nursery?! Knowing that the final month of pregnancy can be chaotic, emotional and physically very draining, I really wanted to have everything ready/done by the time September rolled around. I wanted to spend as much time with Mumbles and Micha as I could and I wanted to relax and focus on taking care of myself. The house is clean, the nursery is done (mostly), the freezer is stocked and Mumbles will be taken care of by my new, but very dear friend. The financial arrangements were made and fullfilled months ago. So far, so good right? Then, less than 4 weeks to my EDD, my boss sends out an email stating that as of October 1st, our insurance policy will change and our new deductible will be $1,000 more than what we were already paying so if we've met our deductible and we still have any needs, we should take care of them before Sept 30th. Wonderful. An extra $1,000 when I only have 2 weeks of paid leave (I'll be on leave for between 5 and 9 weeks, depending on when Charlie decides to arrive), Christmas is right around the corner and even when I do return to work, it will only be part-time until after the New Year. Even more upsetting is everyone's purposed solution to my dilemma- "Just go get induced." Seriously?! WTF?! Even the stupid woman from the agency that is supposed to be trying to get us the best rates for insurance suggested that maybe my doctor would induce me. No, for the record, he won't because it's unethical to induce labor if it isn't medically neccessary. Not to mention that trying to make a baby come before he and Mom are ready is essentially like trying to shove a person through a small window...that is closed. It doesn't work. It puts undue stress on baby and Mom and will more than likely end up in c-section. So basically instead of relaxing and taking care of myself, I find myself obsessing about when the baby will come and hoping it's before midnight on Sept 30th.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 36- Just a little emotional vomit...

I've had a stressful week. My Dad was in ICU overnight, my insurance company has essentially asked me to bend over and grab my ankles, I peed myself, I still hate my job and Micha has started traveling, the first week of which is always so hard for me. I decided to allow myself last night to mope and feel sorry for myself and cry and just be very small version of a train wreck, maybe with model trains instead of life-sized ones. I couldn't sleep because of the storm, which was odd because a storm is usually like a shot of tranquilizer in the ass. I would love to sleep. A deep sleep that is uninterrupted by the immediate need to pee no less than five times every night.

Anyway, while I was lying awake, I thought about the conversation I had with my Dad. He'd been in ICU overnight but was going to be ok and they were moving him to a regular room. He got all emotional and started saying that he'd gotten cheated out of raising me and I'd gotten cheated out of having him as a Dad and that if we hadn't been we might be different people. I hate when he says stuff like that. No one cheated him more than he did, but even still I don't feel cheated and I don't want to be different. Is it so hard to believe that despite everything that I am happy? I have Mumbles, who is amazing. Sometime between watching music videos and texting her friends she has time to think about the beginning of existence. She's beautiful and sensitive. I have Micha, who is perfect for me. He makes me laugh, he supports me and he has no problem with me being stubborn and hard-headed at times. He's smart and, as my Grandma has said, he's hot. I have a beautiful home, plenty of food, I get to enjoy shopping and friends and most of my close relatives are around for me to spend time with. Sure, I hate my job, but I have one and even that it something these days. So would I trade one minute of pain or sadness in my entire life if it meant that I wouldn't be exactly where I am right now? Absolutely not! All of the things that really matter are all of the things that make me happiest, the rest is just filler. No, I was not cheated nor do I want to be different. When I look back at what could've been, I know it couldn't be any better than this.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Week 35- How about a cup of shut the hell up?

Ok so let's say, just hypothetically, that someone you know, could be anyone, is going into the hospital for surgery. Let's say it's the first time this person is ever going through such an experience. Would you A) Reassure them and tell them positive and uplifting stories or B) Tell them every horror story you can possibly think of in which something has gone horribly wrong and resulted in death, near death, mutilation or, at the very least, an unsatisfactory ending? Most of us who are sane, rational people, considerate of the feelings of those around us would choose A. The same thing applies to preggos!

Don't get me wrong, I know that there are women out there who have harrowing stories about traumatic births. Births that did not go the way they had envisioned and that years later they still mourn. Imagine if for nine months you planned and dreamed of your perfect wedding and then on the big day a team of jack asses waltzed in, told you that you weren't doing it right and started running the show. Sure at the end of the day you might still be married to your soul mate but you were made to feel miserable and inadequate or drugged so what should've been a profound experience winds up a hazy memory, confusing and painful. I completely understand the need for women who experience this kind of pain to share their stories. I even appreciate them doing so because it teaches other women that, no matter what kind of birth experience they want to have, they have to find their voice and make their wishes known. It helps those women who felt alone feel less so and it gives them hope that their future birth experiences can and will be different.

That being said, please refrain from telling your story of vaginally birthing a 12 lb baby and nearly dying due to hemorrhaging to a pregnant woman, especially if it's her first pregnancy. Please don't share how your sister-in-law wound up on the surgery table after 37 hours of labor or how your grandmother died in childbirth. There is an appropriate time and place and there are many women who would love to hear these birth stories, but at 35 weeks, I am not one of them. Right now, all I want to hear are positive, awesome birth stories and things like "I was only in active labor for a couple hours" and "It didn't hurt that bad." I'm not turning a blind eye to women who have different stories. I know they are out there. I know they mourned and, for some, still mourn and I want to hear their stories too but not until after. And whatever you do, don't tell those stories to our partners. They often times freak out even more so than we do.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Week 34- Dear Charlie

I can't wait for you to get here! I think about you all the time. I want to see you and hold you and smell you. I think you'll have blue eyes but I wonder what color your hair will be? Sometimes I imagine rocking you in your room or lying down with you to watch you sleep. You'll be long and thin, I'm sure, with long slender hands and fingers. Your Dad can teach you to play guitar or maybe we'll have piano lessons. Will some part of you remember the conversations we have during my daily commute? When we talk about 90's alternative rock and 'Axl Rose Syndrome' being the reason so many of my favorite bands have not enjoyed the lingering success of one of my all time favorite bands, Pearl Jam. Do you know that whenever I hear the song Just Breathe, I think about your Dad and how much I love him and that Amongst the Waves will always be your song?
It seems you move more than Mumbles did and with more force. She is my quiet and delicate girl. I suspect you'll be a perfect contrast to her. In fact, your beginning is already vastly different than hers. I feel as though I planned for you but Mumbles was planned for me. She changed my life and you are here because my life was changed. I hope you will grow up seeing just how truely amazing your big sister is. Your Dad is just as remarkable. He's smart and he works hard. I feel certain that you will always be able to look to him and see just what a father and partner should be. I know he worries about you all the time and is as anxious to hold you as I am. I wonder if you will remember a little game called 'Hey Baby' and how excited he gets when you 'do something cool'!

Of all the things that I think are the most important for you to know before you get here and throughout your life the most important is this: You have a big, crazy family who loves you and will always love you more than is even imaginable. Like my Grandma used to tell me "I love you to the moon and back".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Week 31- Are you gonna cry about it?

Thus far, I have not had any of the roller coaster-esque mood swings that women often seem to be afflicted with during not only pregnancy but ovulation, pre-menses or just whenever we need a good excuse to be bitchy. Imagine my surprise when I cried no less than 15 times Friday. Okay, that might be a bit of exaggeration and a couple of times it was merely a welling of the eyes. Still, it isn't like me to get sappy over a wall decal but there I was cruising the Target website, looking for stuff to decorate Charlie's room. Normally, I'm not a fan of wall decals, particularly words, but this one was the God Bless the Moon poem that my Grandma used to say to me at night. "I see the moon; the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me." It's simple and cute and seeing it there over a staged crib in a random photo studio made my eyes well up. I put it on my registry immediately, forgetting completely the fact that the walls in Charlie's room are going to be light blue, (very light blue as Micha is painting them as I type) and the decal itself is white. Oh well.

We have finally started on Charlie's room after finishing up some other home improvement projects we'd started earlier in the summer. We went to an antique mall in Ottawa and found a couple of old 45's I'm going to frame and hang on the wall and Micha found a toy Swiss plane that we'll hang from the ceiling. I love this part. If I was better at art, I'd go to design school. Decorating the new house has been so much fun and it's kept me sane on the uber slow days at work.

Saturday night we went to the county fair. Mumbles hung with her friends and rode the rides while Micha and I walked around looked at the animals and the 4-H projects and ate funnel cake. I'm not exactly a 'health nut' but I eat pretty good. Lots of veggies, lean meats and not to many refined carbs. I am human though and funnel cake is one of those once a year treats that no one should leave this life, without first having tried. Two hours after eating said fried, doughy, sugary treat, I was awake with heartburn, thus ruining my funnel cake experience for the year.

I've started noticing Charlie's responses to certain things, like riding in the car, or the sound of his Dad's or Sister's voices. During our trip to Ottawa, I could feel a sort of rythmic waving motion across my belly which I've notice a few times since then (althought never while the DJ is talking or during a commercial, so maybe it's the music?). If he hears his Dad or his Sister talking to him, he wakes up and kicks around and if I laugh (which I do a lot at my house) he responds a few seconds later with a little rumble.

Monday, August 2, 2010

None of your business!

I overheard and interesting conversation while at work. Two older guys were talking about what a problem it was that one of their grandchildren was still sleeping in Mom and Dad's bed at 1 yr old. The other made the comment that it was a bad habit that children need to be "broken of." Whenever I hear someone talk about "breaking" a habit or behavior, I can't help but think back to watching the Cowboy "break" horses. It was almost invariably a brutal process. Is that really what we want to do to our kids? The conversation then turned to how when they were young boys, children shared a bedroom with their siblings. This got me to thinking, where did young children and infants sleep 'in the old days'? Wouldn't they have had to have slept with their Mother's before central air and heat, wet nurses, formulas and bottles? So how did we go from probably universally co-sleeping to the idea that co-sleeping is dangerous or at the very least a bad habit that needs to be 'broken'? And when did our bedrooms become everyone else's business?

As it turns out, co-sleeping was actually the norm, even in Western cultures, up to about 150 years ago. During the 1800's child-rearing experts started to emerge and thus business of telling women how to do what they had done for centuries before without the peanut gallery, began. These 'experts', who were for the most part men, emphasized self-reliance. Additionally, the germ theory further encouraged separate sleeping quarters for fear that a mother and child breathing the same air would make one another sick. Then, with the Industrial Revolution society began breaking out of the extended family model and even building homes with additional rooms for children to sleep. Without other family members on site to help with the household duties, the burden fell solely to the mother, requiring more of her time and energy. It was late in this century that the 'cot death' myth arose and further frightened mothers into believing that sharing the same bed or room was unsafe. (http://editor.nourishedmagazine.com.au/articles/the-cosiness-of-cosleeping)

When Mumbles was born, I had never heard the term 'co-sleeping'. She had her own bedroom with a crib where she slept when she was napping but at night she slept in bed with me. This facilitated nursing and I never worried about rolling over on her because, with only a couple hours between feedings, I never really fell into very deep sleep. When we stopped nursing and she started sleeping for longer periods of time (around 2 months old), we made the transition to her crib. With the exception of travel, she has never slept with me since. Now, obviously Mumbles is not every child. She never developed a fear of the dark, as some children do, and she mastered a couple self-soothing techniques very early on. I still smile when I remember her flipping the handle on her 'binkie' with one hand while rubbing the satin edging of her blanket in with the other. The decision to bed-share with Mumbles was not made based on extensive research or even because it's what my mother did (although I do remember the babies sleeping in bassinets in her room). It simply felt like the normal thing to do; and it is. Newborn human babies have the least developed brain and nervous system in the mammal world. In their first years of life they rely heavily on their caregiver for basic survival. Food, temperature regulation and even heart rate and breathing are influenced by whomever is providing care. (http://www.nd.edu/~jmckenn1/lab/articles/B.pdf)

For much of the rest of the world, co-sleeping is still the norm. There is a great deal of research indicating that it reduces the risk of SIDS. Obviously, every family is unique and co-sleeping is not for everyone. Often times we hear of an infant dying and the cause is reported to be co-sleeping. In fact, a more thorough look would reveal that there are other circumstances involved such as exposure to second-hand smoke, a chaotic home, or the over-laying parent consumed drugs or alcohol. There are other safety concerns too such as the type of bedding and the surface. Waterbeds and sofas, for example, may not be appropriate for co-sleeping. There's also a study that suggests that formula fed babies should not bed-share however; co-sleeping doesn't always mean sleeping in the same bed.

Micha is fearful of bed-sharing. He is a pretty big guy and he worries that he could role over and hurt the baby. If he isn't comfortable with it, then I see no reason to try and force the issue. His fears are not silly and dismissing them as such won't make him more comfortable with it. I thought about getting a side car or turning a crib into a side car but didn't have to. My Mom brought me a beautiful bassinet that will work perfectly. It's a pretty good size so the baby can sleep with us for quite some time. He'll eventually grow out of it but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. In the meantime, I'll look forward to napping with Charlie during the day. Who wouldn't want to drift off to that intoxicating newborn smell? Or nuzzle up to a cherub cheeked baby? Not to mention, isn't sleep the one thing everyone is always saying new parents will never have enough of again? So if co-sleeping works for a particular family, what does it matter to anyone else? I don't see any reason to torture children and parents alike, in order to 'break' them of this very healthy and natural pattern.

Preparing financially for Charlie's arrival.

Let's face it, money matters at least for most people it does. The economy is tough and it wasn't that long ago that Micha and I were college students surviving on shoe-string budgets. Naturally, when we found out we were expecting, our finances were a concern. Here's what we did (and are doing) to prepare.

One of the very first things I did, before we went to the doctor or told anyone, was look into Short-Term Disability Insurance. Unfortunately, neither the state I live in nor my employer provides STD Insurance however; I could purchase a policy on my own for relatively cheap. Since I was already pregnant though, the policy would only pay out in the even of complications. Since I'm healthy and this is a very low risk pregnancy, I decided against the STD Insurance. I would recommend if you are trying to conceive this year, purchase a policy now before you get pregnant.

Something we do periodically is look at our budget.  I look back at the last month or two and see exactly where our money is going and how close we are to meeting the goals we set for ourselves. When looking at our budget now, I actually look at two: our Before Baby (BB) Budget and our After Baby Budget (AB). The AB budget is broken into 2 different 'sub-budgets': one for the period of time that Micha and I are on leave and the other for when everyone is back at work. The AB budget reflects stuff like an increased grocery budget, what my take home pay will be with the additional insurance and child care. This is also how we decided whether or not I should return to work after the baby. Daycare is expensive so for some families it makes more sense for one parent to stay home.

In looking at the budget, we tried to find ways we could cut expenses now, especially for those weeks that we only have one income. We used our tax refund to pay off credit cards and other small debts. We also started paying a little extra on our car payment every month so that in October we will be a full three months of payments ahead. We also continue to try and find ways to make our home as energy efficient as possible and ended up purchasing a front loading washer and drier. It seems counter intuitive to spend money to save money however; we've nearly cut our water bill in half despite needing to water our vegetable garden on a daily basis (yes, I'm waging a full scale nag-a-thon until I get at least one damn rain barrel). For more easy energy efficiency tips: http://www.cleanairgardening.com/saveenergy.html. 

Another way we save money is at the grocery store. We try to go on a weekly basis and set a weekly budget. A couple months into the pregnancy, we increased the weekly budget to accommodate stocking up on non-perishables, cleaning supplies and toiletries. We take the weekly ads with us (our grocer price matches) and I clip coupons. We are planning to try cloth diapering at least part-time (Micha isn't completely sold on the idea and we know most daycare providers won't go for it) so we have already started stocking up on diapers and wipes.

Our budget also included a certain degree of what I like to call 'fat', the biggest chunk of which being our cable bill. I hate our cable. It's terrible. After looking more closely, it turns out that the we were paying for service that the provider essentially could not provide, at least not with any kind of consistency, even though they were consistently charging us for it month after month. We got rid of the cable portion and reduced the Internet speed (since it wasn't faster, just more expensive). We got a subscription to Netflix and we haven't missed cable even for a minute. I mean really, who wants to watch a bunch of shows about the biggest dumbasses New Jersey could produce?! 

Two words: Garage Sale. After moving into our new home, I found we had a great deal of 'stuff' that we no longer needed/wanted/used. We cleaned out our closets and participated in the city wide garage sale. The larger ticket items that didn't sell we put on Craigslist. We sorted through Mumbles' clothes and will consign the stuff that is still in good shape and donated the rest. We also picked up some great buys. Micha found an infant seat and two bases as well as a jogger stroller for $30! We found a crib and mattress for $50 on Craigslist and picked up a bouncy seat for $16 at one of my favorite consignment shops Children's Orchard. The important thing to remember when buying used baby gear is to check whether or not the item may have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You'll also want to be certain that car seats have never been involved in an accident. It is also important to note that it is illegal to resell any product that has been recalled, so be sure you check before putting your old baby gear up for sale.

There were three phone calls that were super important for us to make, the first was with our respective HR departments and supervisors. In the US, maternity/paternity leave falls under the Family Medical Leave Act, which grants most employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Some companies, such as the one I work for, are exempt from this because there are fewer than 50 employees. It is important to know what your company's policies are for paid and unpaid leave and other benefits such as insurance premiums while you're on unpaid leave, changes to Health Savings Plans and the availability of short-term disability insurance. Also, life insurance is an important consideration. If your employer does not provide any or enough, buying a term policy is really inexpensive. I recommend a plan that would at least pay out enough to pay off your mortgage and any other large debts (student loans, etc.) plus provide a little extra.

Since both Micha and I have health insurance through our employers, we were able to compare premiums and coverage and decided that the baby should go on my policy once he's born. That doesn't mean we'll stick with it. Once Charlie has made his debut, I plan to get quotes elsewhere. There are a few companies, like Blue Cross that are very competitive even with employee plans.

The next call I made was to my insurance company. The last thing I want to do is walk out of the hospital with a brand new baby and a huge debt. Do a little homework about what types of questions to ask about insurance coverage during pregnancy. Watch out for the small things like labs. My provider has in network and out of network lab providers. If your OB doesn't use an in network lab, it could cost you hundreds. Also, find out what, if any, alternatives to traditional care are covered. Some insurance companies will cover Mid-wife attended births and chiropractic care while others will not.

The last call I made was to the hospital. I spoke with the billing department and asked for a rough estimate on what I'd be billed (my OB's office was very upfront and we were able to make financial arrangements early on). I wanted to try an make a few payments ahead of time but was not able however; she did give me a number and an idea about making financial arrangements after the baby is born.

I think one of the most important parts of planning for Charlie's arrival was just deciding what was really important to us. Buying a new washer and drier: important. Buying all new baby gear vs. second-hand and hand-me-downs: not. Taking a babymoon: time sensitive. Remodeling the master bath: can wait.

Re-Normalize Breastfeeding: A first step for life-long health

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Carnival hosted by The Leaky B@@b. It's World Breastfeeding Week and the carnival theme is "Perspectives: Breastfeeding from Every Angle."  Visit The Leaky B@@b for more perspectives on breastfeeding.http://leakyboob.blogspot.com/


Sadly, the United States has become known for being one of the fattest nations in the world. "During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%" (www.cdc.gov). Most of us are aware that obesity contributes to a number of other health problems ranging from added stress on bones and joints to type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Now more than ever, good nutrition has become the focus of attention for many Americans, including First Lady Michelle Obama. Good nutrition for each of us starts in the womb. So much of our development in those nine months depends upon the good eating habits of our mothers but what happens beyond that? Formula manufacturer's would have us believe that they have come up with a solution for all of us who have to return to work, hate pumping or simply struggle with the natural act of breastfeeding but is it really the perfect solution or a slippery slope? If what they are selling is good nutrition, then why is it chocolate flavored?

There are numerous reasons to breastfeed ranging from emotional connectivity to health benefits for the mother. This is a look solely at the nutritional benefits as they relate to the infant.  Formula is food made with science therefore; it is not natural to an infant's diet. Infants, just like adults, can have difficulty digesting ingredients that are unfamiliar to the body (remember 'Trans fats'?). The proteins in formula are made from cow's milk, easily digested by calves, but human infants' stomach's take time to adjust. Breast milk is perfectly formulated for infants. There are over 150 ingredients in breast milk that cannot be produced synthetically. Of these 150 ingredients, some of the most important are the mother's antibodies. These antibodies become the infants' defense against disease while the immune system is still developing. Breast milk has been shown to protect infants against illnesses such as rotavirus infections, ear infections, and upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Breast milk also has amazing transformative properties. It actually changes over time to suit the needs of the infant as s/he grows. This is something formula cannot do. As many lactivists describe it, breast milk is 'live' while formula is...well...not. Research shows that breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations than formula fed infants. Breast feeding mother's also miss less work. Their infants are sick less often so medical costs are lower and employees are more productive. The conclusion one can draw from this information: Breastfed infants are healthier, in general, than formula fed infants.

Formula isn't inferior for lack of trying. Formula makers have been attempting to improve their product since development began in the 1860's. Most recently, DHA and ARA have been added. DHA is believed to be an important component in brain and nerve development. DHA deficiencies are associated with cognitive decline, which occurs in people with diseases like Alzheimer's. Additionally, severely depressed individuals show a depleted level of DHA in the cerebral cortex. As a result of these findings, DHA is being added to many foods and a supplement is recommended for pregnant and nursing women. Adding DHA to infant formula would seem like a good idea however; once again it is synthetically derived and therefore difficult to digest. Cornucopia, a watchdog group, upon request for information from the FDA, found a number of adverse reaction reports concerning formula with the DHA additive. Severe gastrointestinal problems were reported. These problems resulted in 'failure to thrive', acute dehydration from diarrhea and other symptoms including emotion distress for both the infants and their families. Symptoms resulted in highly-invasive medical testing and procedures and hospitalizations. Upon switching to formulas without the DHA additive, the problems (in most cases) were resolved. As long as a breastfeeding mother is eating a diet containing DHA rich foods or is taking a supplement, her infant will get all the DHA his or her body needs for healthy development. To read more about Cornucopia and their findings about breastfeeding, formula and DHA go to http://www.cornucopia.org/2008/01/replacing-mother-infant-formula-report/

An additional benefit to breastfeeding is the frequency of feeding. Breastfed infants need to eat more frequently than formula fed infants. This may not seem like a benefit if you are a sleep deprived mother but, more frequent feedings through the night translate into a decreased risk of SIDS. Scientists also know that IgA, found in breast milk, has a binding affect on bacterial toxins, such as staphylococcal enterotoxin C and Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin A, which have both been implicated in SIDS. Breast milk is also rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, which promotes faster development of the central nervous system of the infants. This could be another explanation for why breastfeeding helps prevent SIDS. (South Med J 94(7):704-71, 2001. © 2001 Southern Medical Association) Frequent feedings also affect metabolism. Any one who has ever been on a 'diet' has been instructed to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. A healthy metabolic rate in infancy may translate into a healthier metabolic rate in childhood and on into adulthood.

About 2% of mothers are physiologically unable to breastfeed, yet only about 77% of infants are ever breastfed and only 50% are still breastfed at the age of 6 months. This means about 20% of new mothers never try to breastfeed and roughly another 30% give it up before their child reaches 6 months. Young mothers (particularly under the age of 20) and those in low-income households were most likely to formula feed, rather than breastfeed. (http://www.cdc.gov). Sadly, these are also the individuals who have the least access to adequate health care and information regarding nutrition and wellness. The cycle of poor education, poor nutrition, poor health continues from generation to generation and our society never gets any healthier. For the first time in history, future generations will actually have shorter life expectancies than the proceeding generations. This is why re-normalizing breastfeeding in the United States is of critical importance. Formula should not be the first choice but rather, the last resort. Not only do health care providers and government aid resources need to educate and promote breastfeeding as the the healthy, normal way to feed an infant but communities at large need support breastfeeding mothers, regardless of their socioeconomic demograph. Breastfeeding is an infants very first step towards life-long health.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Charlie's Birthday Playlist

Canon in D major- Bach
All You Need is Love- The Beatles
Baby You're a Rich Man- The Beatles
I Wanna Hold Your Hand- The Beatles
Baby Boy- Beyonce
No Woman No Cry- Bob Marley
The Little Birds- Bob Marley
Close to You- Carpenters
Angel of the Morning- Carpenters
Here Comes My Baby- Cat Stevens
Father and Son- Cat Stevens
Nocturne Op. 9, No.2- Chopin
Prelude for piano No. 4 in E minor- Chopin
Baby Blue- Dave Mathews Band
One Sweet World- Dave Mathews Band
American Baby- Dave Mathews Band
Your Song- Elton John
100 Years- Five for Fighting
Sweet Child of Mine- Guns N Roses
Doing It All for My Baby- Huey Lewis & the News
To Zion- Lauryn Hill
What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong
This Woman's Work- Maxwell
Fade Into You- Mazy Star
Can't Help Falling In Love- Michael Buble
Feeling Good- Michael Buble
Ave Maria- Mozart
L-O-V-E- Nat King Cole
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major- Beethoven
Hey Baby- No Doubt
The Prettiest Thing- Norah Jones
At Last- Norah Jones
Come Away with Me- Norah Jones
Thinking About You- Norah Jones
These Arms of Mine- Otis Redding
Just Breathe- Pearl Jam
Amongst the Waves- Pearl Jam
Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd
Snow (Hey Oh)- Red Hot Chili Peppers
By Your Side- Sade
The Sweetest Gift- Sade
It's Only Love That Gets You Through- Sade
Push It- Salt-N-Pepper
Joy to the World- Three Dog Night
Baby Baby Baby- TLC
Beautiful Day- U2
Sweetest Thing- U2
Bittersweet Symphony- The Verve
The Swan from the Carnival of Animals

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 27- In the Weeds

I don't know if 'in the weeds' is a phrase used elsewhere but as a former waitress, it means being overwhelmed. Too many tables, too close together and not enough time to stop and figure out what the hell is going on. Just run your ass off and hope for the best. If pregnancy had weeds, I'd be in them or at least that's how I feel.

In addition to feeling like I need to do a ton in order to be ready for the baby, who's ETA is in about 2 1/2 months, I'm not sure how to prepare for the actual arrival. I really, really want a natural labor and delivery this time but I'm totally afraid it's going to hurt like hell. I've never even had so much as a broken bone or even a minor surgery. Ok, it's going to hurt and I just have to come to terms with that so how do I get through it? There's a virtual ton of information about how to ease labor. Drinking rasberry leaf tea, chiropractic care, classes, Kegels, exercises designed to help 'open' the pelvic floor, meditation, hypnosis and on and on and on. Which books should I read? Does any of this stuff really work?!? There's probably a marketing genius in Malibu driving a Maserati GranTurismo S paid for by millions of terrified women like me spending a small fortune on these methods.

On a completely different note, I waddle. Not because I'm very big mind you, but because my hip joints are so stiff it hurts to walk. Oh and to the cranky refridgerator repair man who came to my house complaining about how hot and tired he was, STFU! Like I don't know how hot it is, I'm the one with out ice, dude! I guess I could use the butternut squash that froze in my crisper to cool my drink. Jerk!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Re-Normalize breastfeeding: A first step for life-long health.

Sadly, the United States has become known for being one of the fastest nations in the world. "During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%" (www.cdc.gov). Most of us are aware that obesity contributes to a number of other health problems ranging from added stress on bones and joints to type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. Now more than ever, good nutrition has become the focus of attention for many Americans, including First Lady Michelle Obama. Good nutrition for each of us starts in the womb. So much of our development in those nine months depends upon the good eating habits of our mothers but what happens beyond that? Formula manufacturer's would have us believe that they have come up with a solution for all of us who have to return to work, hate pumping or simply struggle with the natural act of breastfeeding but is it really the perfect solution or a slippery slope? If what they are selling is good nutrition, then why is it chocolate flavored?

There are numerous reasons to breastfeed ranging from emotional connectivity to health benefits for the mother. This is a look solely at the nutritional benefits as they relate to the infant.  Formula is food made with science therefore; it is not natural to an infant's diet. Infants, just like adults, can have difficulty digesting ingredients that are unfamiliar to the body (remember 'Trans fats'?). The proteins in formula are made from cow's milk, easily digested by calves, but human infants' stomach's take time to adjust.

Breast milk is perfectly formulated for infants. There are over 150 ingredients in breast milk that cannot be produced synthetically. Of these 150 ingredients, some of the most important are the mother's antibodies. These antibodies become the infants' defense against disease while the immune system is still developing. Breast milk has been shown to protect infants against illnesses such as rotavirus infections, ear infections, and upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Breast milk also has amazing transformative properties. It actually changes over time to suit the needs of the infant as s/he grows. This is something formula cannot do. As many lactivists describe it, breast milk is 'live' while formula is...well...not. Research shows that breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations than formula fed infants. Breast feeding mother's also miss less work. Their infants are sick less often so medical costs are lower and employees are more productive. The conclusion one can draw from this information: Breastfed infants are healthier, in general, than formula fed infants.

Formula isn't inferior for lack of trying. Formula makers have been attempting to improve their product since development began in the 1860's. Most recently, DHA and ARA have been added. DHA is believed to be an important component in brain and nerve development. DHA deficiencies are associated with cognitive decline, which occurs in people with diseases like Alzheimer's. Additionally, severely depressed individuals show a depleted level of DHA in the cerebral cortex. As a result of these findings, DHA is being added to many foods and a supplement is recommended for pregnant and nursing women. Adding DHA to infant formula would seem like a good idea however; once again it is synthetically derived and therefore difficult to digest. Cornucopia, a watchdog group, upon request for information from the FDA, found a number of adverse reaction reports concerning formula with the DHA additive. Severe gastrointestinal problems were reported. These problems resulted in 'failure to thrive', acute dehydration from diarrhea and other symptoms including emotion distress for both the infants and their families. Symptoms resulted in highly-invasive medical testing and procedures and hospitalizations. Upon switching to formulas without the DHA additive, the problems (in most cases) were resolved. As long as a breastfeeding mother is eating a diet containing DHA rich foods or is taking a supplement, her infant will get all the DHA his or her body needs for healthy development. To read more about Cornucopia and their findings about breastfeeding, formula and DHA go to http://www.cornucopia.org/2008/01/replacing-mother-infant-formula-report/

An additional benefit to breastfeeding is the frequency of feeding. Breastfed infants need to eat more frequently than formula fed infants. This may not seem like a benefit if you are a sleep deprived mother but, more frequent feedings through the night translate into a decreased risk of SIDS. Scientists also know that IgA, found in breast milk, has a binding affect on bacterial toxins, such as staphylococcal enterotoxin C and Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin A, which have both been implicated in SIDS. Breast milk is also rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients, which promotes faster development of the central nervous system of the infants. This could be another explanation for why breastfeeding helps prevent SIDS. (South Med J 94(7):704-71, 2001. © 2001 Southern Medical Association) Frequent feedings also affect metabolism. Any one who has ever been on a 'diet' has been instructed to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. A healthy metabolic rate in infancy may translate into a healthier metabolic rate in childhood and on into adulthood.

About 2% of mothers are physiologically unable to breastfeed, yet only about 77% of infants are ever breastfed and only 50% are still breastfed at the age of 6 months. This means about 20% of new mothers never try to breastfeed and roughly another 30% give it up before their child reaches 6 months. Young mothers (particularly under the age of 20) and those in low-income households were most likely to formula feed, rather than breastfeed. (http://www.cdc.gov). Sadly, these are also the individuals who have the least access to adequate health care and information regarding nutrition and wellness. The cycle of poor education, poor nutrition, poor health continues from generation to generation and our society never gets any healthier. For the first time in history, future generations will actually have shorter life expectancies than the proceeding generations. This is why re-normalizing breastfeeding in the United States is of critical importance. Formula should not be the first choice but rather, the last resort. Not only do health care providers and government aid resources need to educate and promote breastfeeding as the the healthy, normal way to feed an infant but communities at large need support breastfeeding mothers, regardless of their socioeconomic demograph. Breastfeeding is an infants very first step towards life-long health.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Week 26- About as warm and fuzzy as a fish

I'm feeling rather uninspired lately. This has been the first week, since those really early weeks, that I've really felt 'hormonal'. No, I haven't been crying inexplicably or flying into frenzied fits, I'm just 'blue'. It might be because this is my first full week back after the babymoon and I hate my job. Whatever the reason I'm hoping the upcoming holiday and the prospect of QT with some girlfriends will help improve my disposition. The bright spot for the week was seeing 'belly rolls' for the first time. Charlie moves All. The. Time., especially in the evenings now (which makes it difficult to sleep, another contributing factor to my mood). The other night, Micha and I were laying in bed reading (how lame and 'married couple' do we sound?!) and my book 'jumped'. I pulled my shirt up to watch the action and pretty soon so was Micha. He was feeling the baby and saying to my stomach "Hey Baby, do something cool" and there it was, a foot or a hand pushing up just beside where Micha's hand was.

Aside from uninspired and cranky, I've been feeling under the gun. Being 26 weeks along means that in 11 to 14 weeks Charlie will be here. Holy shit! Even though I know it is irrational, I feel like there's a ton to do and we're running out of time. There isn't even paint on the walls in the baby's room (well there is, but not the paint I want.) We don't have enough money in the bank, we don't have all the 'stuff', we haven't talked about the birth plan or taken any classes or made any arrangements for Mumbles. I know that my usual obsessiveness coupled with the normal feelings we have as expectant mothers is the reason for my sudden sense of urgency, but I still feel rushed. I'm anxious for Charlie to get here but I'm even more anxious to be ready for Charlie to get here.

One thing I have done that was on my list of 'to-do's' was watch the Business of Being Born. It's a documentary style film done by Ricki Lake and her friend about child birth in America. It certainly explained, for me at least, why a growing number of women are choosing Midwives or Unassisted Home Births instead of the traditional OBGYN/Hospital route. I found that every time they showed a woman giving birth, I teared up a little. I think because my own first birth experience was not the experience I wanted to have or even knew I could have. Just goes to show; you don't know what you don't know. I don't know if I would ever choose to have a Midwife over an OBGYN but I do know that if we aren't proactive about pregnancy/labor/delivery it becomes something that happens to us instead of something we are apart of.

Cool stuff from the womb: Charlie is about 2 lbs and about 9 in. long. He's probably starting to look less 'lanky' and fill out a bit. Also, this week, his eyes will start to open.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Week 24- Tan-stache

I am blessed with a head full of hair and a face which is not. I have very little need for painful hair removal techniques. An occasional plucking to keep my eyebrows neat is all I need. So why then, does it appear that I need to have my mustache waxed? Take a closer look and you'll see that it is actually pigmented skin, not hair, that has darkened my once lovely upper lip. I also have weird tinges on my cheeks. What. The. Fuck? I'm really not this self conscious. I have no problem traipsing around the beach in my two piece for all the Floridian fitness freaks, with their toned and tanned, bodies to see. My body is weirdly shaped; a tiny upper body, an ever growing round belly, and an extra cottage cheesy ass and thighs. I know it's there and yeah it bugs me, but not enough to obsess over it and try to figure out some clever and inventive way to cover it up when really everybody knows what's going on under there. Overall, I kind of love my prego body. I think my big round belly is cute and as for my cottage cheese ass, I just don't turn around to look in the mirror. Besides, as Micha told me, he likes cottage cheese. But a tan-stache! Really?! Sure, it's fine when I wear make-up but what about when I want to forgo that ritual like when I'm running late for work or I'm going to the pool. Or when I sweat? This is summer in Kansas! What then, hmm? This isn't fair! I wasn't out in the sun for hours with sans sunscreen. I wear it everyday! And hats! I bought big hats and big sunglasses to keep the sun off my face and still I wound up with this ridiculous....TAN-STACHE! Micha says not to worry about it, 'it's cute'. No buddy, this is the exact opposite of cute. There is not a culture on the face of the Earth that thinks a mustache on a woman is cute! Sigh...
Anyway, the realization that a very tiny, additional person will be occupying my house in just a little over 3 short months has me motivated to get down to the nitty-gritty preparation. The room, the videos, the classes, the shower and preparing Micha and Taylor for what is sure to be a wild ride. Maybe I'll start making a list and a time line because, yes, I am that anal.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pregnant, Barefoot and in the Kitchen

This is a phrase I've uttered many a time, as in "He's one of those neanderthal idiots that thinks all women should be pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen." Now in my second pregnancy and coming into the final stretch, I've decided to re-think this phrase. I have a lot of time to re-think things. My job is incredibly boring. In fact, all of my blog posts are written while I am at the office. I don't do it to make them think I'm busy either. I've made it abundantly clear that I need more work. They just haven't come up with any. At any rate, here I am stuck in my office with nothing to do. I'm wearing a dress and shoes with a heel that isn't too high. The sun is out and I know it's hot because I ran out for lunch today. All I can think is the numerous other places I'd rather be. The pool might be nice. Taking a nap would be blissful. Pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen wouldn't be too shabby either.

My feet hurt and are starting to swell, ever-so-slightly. Most days the thought of having anything on my feet is irritating. Barefoot just feels so much better but isn't exactly 'business casual'. Neither are the clothes that I'd rather be wearing. I can wear whatever I want in my kitchen. No shoes, no shirt, no service doesn't apply there. Dress code, smesh code!

At work, I have a desk drawer full of snacks. I am, by nature, a grazer so I keep them there so if I need a nibble, I have something. Funny thing about being pregnant is it has to be the right something. I may not want a granola bar for breakfast but that's what's in my desk drawer so that's what I get to have. If I was in my kitchen, I could whip up some eggs and bacon or maybe pancakes or a grilled cheese sandwich and cucumber slices with a little bit of salt.

So yeah, pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen sounds pretty good right about now.

Breakthrough

I feel like a broken record.

"I really don't want to spend the very little free time I have cleaning up after you guys."

"You know it really pisses me off when I come home from having worked all day, and the house is trashed."

"Could you please pick up after yourselves?"

"How many times have you walked by this in the last week? Why couldn't you just pick it up on your way?!"


So last night, because of the mountain of laundry to be folded and because I really wanted to watch the movie Blind Side and because I knew that I would not be home on Tuesday night to pick up and because I didn't feel like coming home on Wednesday and having a major melt down before yoga, I instituted Family clean up time. Think of it sort of like Martial Law and I am the Army. The usual drill involves me cleaning up the kitchen and all the random crap they leave laying around the house while everyone else (by 'everyone' I mean Micha and Mumbles) watches TV, plays video games, dinks around on the computer or texts their friends. This routine makes me crazy. Especially when this routine takes place the same day as or the day immediately following a day when I've spent the majority of the day cleaning/working. Seriously, our house does not stay picked up for more than 30 minutes. The kitchen table only stays cleared off for about 5 minutes and the sink never, NEVER does not have a dirty dish in it. On any given day you can walk into my house and find: hats, shoes, tools, pens, keys, computers, phones, recycling, dirty socks, food containers/wrappers, empty toilet paper rolls and dirty dishes. All of which have an appropriate place but none of which are in said place. Am I a bit neurotic about the housekeeping? Yes. Would I be willing to let certain rooms, Mumbles' bedroom for example, go in an effort to keep the peace? Yes, if it weren't for my fear that they will become a bio-hazard. Last summer, we (actually Lily the Destroyer) found a half eaten bologna sandwich under Mumbles' bed. Under her bed! For the record, I don't buy bologna, that was all Micha. The mere fact that it was a bologna sandwich was gut wrenching enough. My child has always been a bit of a hoarder and not a particularly neat one but Micha was not like this when I met him. When I met Micha in college he had a male roommate and it was pretty much a guarantee that the common areas where going to be trashed, but Micha's bedroom and bathroom were always clean, immaculate even. When he moved and had a female roommate, he was still the neater of the two, even cleaning the rest of the apartment when he knew I was coming to visit. When he lived on his own, his apartment wasn't the nicest but it was neat. So what the eff happened? Where are the freakin' sparkling clean bathroom countertops and toilet seats you can eat off? My countertops are covered with shaving gunk and some days I'm not certain the toilet is fit to be shit in! WTF?!?

Anyway, back to last night. I told everyone during dinner that I had laundry to work on and I wanted everyone to pitch in and help out so we could watch the movie. Micha went down to the basement to play Call of Duty and Mumbles joined him after she put the dishes in the dishwasher and ran it. Not quite the mark I was hoping to hit but rather than get mad and start yelling, (alright I yelled a little because I hate Call of Duty) I gave them all marching orders. The pile of shit that's been on the landing for two weeks, Micha, take it to the garage. Mumbles, the dishes in the sink have your name written all over them. Empty all the trashes. Take the recycling out. Pick up your hat. Seriously, I should've been in the military. I helped out too and in no time the house was picked up. I said "I like family clean up time! We're going to start doing this all the time!" The reaction I got was a little like the reaction Micheal whatshisface from Seinfeld got when he 'heckled' a heckler. Which leads me to this conclusion: my family likes it when I get pissed and yell at them. They thinks it's hilarious when I swear and stomp around. It keeps them in stitches when I shout that I'm moving out and I'm not taking dogs, or kids, or cats or Spousal Equivalents with me, that way they can just go right on ahead and live like a bunch of slobs. All this time I've been concerned about trying to be a more patient Mom and Spousal Equivalent and what I really need to be better at my roles is a mega-phone and maybe a cattle prod.

One of my bossy, but classy idols, Katherine Hepburn.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Week 21- It's a Boy!

The baby is basically the size of a Barbie so the clarity is pretty amazing!

"Our baby is pretty metal" according to Micha. (It's a Metalocalypse reference for those of you who don't know.)
Charlie was awake and very active. At one point, we got to see him reach up and rub his eye. He was also practicing sucking and had the hiccups. He was a little shy about showing his face but.....
totally comfortable showing us his 'junk'!

Micha had us all write down on a peice of paper what we thought the baby would be, before the appointment. We arrived at the Doctor's office to find a bit of commotion. Apparently, a transformer blew and the building was running on emergency power. Nuts! No sonogram for me! The doctor went ahead and saw us just as they were trying to evacuate the building and the nurses pulled some strings and got us in for a sono at another facility. Woo hoo! So we got to see Charlie after all and were all amazed! We decided that, to let everyone know (all three of us were getting text messages all day!), we'd send a picture message anouncing the news. My family still eats together at my Grandmother's house every Wednesday, so they all started getting the messages and found out together!

Bump's first name will be Charles (we'll call him Charlie) after Micha's grandfather who passed away last year. We're still thinking about middle names. I'm looking forward to decorating Charlie's room. I like the idea of vintage toys. I think Micha does too because it will give him a chance to dig out some of his old childhood favorites! ;)

Evil Evelyn vs. Lily the Destroyer

I've delayed writing this epic battle because if either Evil Evelyn or Lily the Destroyer turned up missing, I didn't want there to be any incriminating evidence linking me to their dissappearance. I'm over it now so I feel safe sharing the tale.

By day, I work in an office that never deals with the general public. Almost never. We deal with first responders, public safety, and law enforcement, mostly. So when Evil Evelyn called I felt certain this would be another civilian inquiring about amateur radio parts and I would have to tell her I was sorry but that isn't the business we are in. Was I ever wrong?! Apparently Evelyn knew precisely what business we were in as evident by the way she asked "Am I talking Greek here? Do you install antennas or not?" A couple of weeks later, I came back from lunch only to be greated by a seriously pissed of install manager and Evelyn. Great. Evelyn was to be charged for an hour of shop labor and a part that was installed on her truck. A part that she insisted we install, against our advise, to plug a leak, which we were certain we told her, would continue to leak. Antenna mounts don't plug leaks. Plugs plug leaks. Body shops plug leaks. Never the less, she insisted the work be done so we obliged but now she was unhappy. She was told it would only be $55. "Well, yes that's correct. It is $55 for the labor rate but you were also told that we'd have to charge you for the part. With tax that brings your total to $87.67", I said.
EE: "Do you take checks?"
Me: "No Ma'am. We accept cash and major credit cards. Do you have a Visa or Mastercard debit card?"
EE: In a pissy tone, "Yes, I have a debit card."
Now normally, when I run my customers' credit cards there's no tax involved so I ran the card the way I normally would. Realizing my mistake, I quickly refunded the card and ran it again for the correct amount. I apologized and explained what I had done. "Well, that's just great. I have no money now!", she says. She goes on to tell me that she has been moving all day, she has to finish moving her stuff and she already owes her apartment manager $5 but now, because of me, she has no money for gas so that she can finish moving. Now look, I'm not a heartless person and even though up to this point she has been incredibley rude to me, I still feel bad for her, but what can I do? She insists that she needs to call her bank. Sure, I tell her, I'd be more than happy to speak with them if she would like. It's during this next part that I start not to feel quite so bad for Evelyn. She was just a rude to the people at her own bank! After she bitches the people at her bank out for the fact that the refund will not post faster, she continues to bitch me out. She demands to talk to a manager. I calmly tried to explain that there was no manager here. I even motioned around the office as if to say "Lady, do you see anyone else here?" "Well where is he?", she asks. Uh, he's not here. "Well why do I have to talk to you, you're just the secretary?!" she says. At this point an engineer comes out of his office and poses as a manager. He calmly tries to explain that we've done what we can do. I calmly walked back to the install shop and exclaimed "Spanky! Evelyn will not leave! She wants to know if she was supposed to get some kind of cable.", so he comes up to talk with her. Did I mention, the Fed Ex driver came in and now she is telling him her sob story about how I took all her money?! God love Spanky because he ended the entire thing. He told her that she was charged the correct amount and if anything she had already gotten an antenna for free (he told me later, he gave it to her to get her the hell out). And as for her predicament "It's a hard knock life.", and that was that. She signed the credit card slips and stormed out. I could feel my face on fire. Whatever. I'm going to pick out a new desk so we can clean out the baby's room and a new washer and drier after work, so nah na--na boo bo!


I have made it no secret that I think the people who lived in my house before me were disgusting. I've since made it my mission to scrub every remnant of them out of my life. The last thing that needed to be done was the carpets, so as soon as we had a little extra cheese laying around I scheduled to have them professionally cleaned. As soon as I returned home, I litterally wanted to roll around on my semi damp but very fresh looking and smelling carpet. We promptly installed a dog door to avoid any accidents in the house. Much of my motivation to get this done is in preparation for the baby, as was my desire to get a new washer and drier. So despite Evil Evelyn's best attempts to shit on my parade, it was still going to be a good day. But after arriving at the store, I got a text from Mumbles, 'I threw up'. Terrific. I try and hurry home... in the rain....in traffic. I arrive to find Mumbles standing at the top of the stairs and....puke. Everywhere. Horrified, I looked at Taylor, expecting her to be positively green. Instead she was pointing to Lily, who was puking. Oh, what fresh hell is this?! I quarantine Lily in the kitchen, a proceedure I've become accustom to doing because the damn dog eats everything. Socks, underwear, shoes, paper, speaker wire, a wooden Christmas tree ornament, a tampon, nothing is safe in the house with Lily the Destroyer. Pissed, I walk back to my room to change my clothes so I can commence the clean up. She's puked on the bed, a new pillow, the last remain clean pair of the the three pairs of maternity pants I own. Fantastic. Then I discover what it is that she is puking up. She ate an entire bar of Costa Rican dark chocolate and half a bag of truffles. Holy shit, that dog won't make it through the night, I thought, but I was too pissed off to feel bad for her. Micha tried to figure out what to do with her while I tried to clean cocoa puke out of what were my nice clean, beige carpets. I yelled at everyone. I left the chocolate on the night stand, my bad, but Micha left the door open and Mumbles let her out of her kennel without keeping an eye on her. I told Micha I didn't want her any more. We can't have a dog that doesn't know better than to eat everything in whole damn house, especially once the baby comes. Of course, then he got upset and started blaming Mumbles, which only served to piss me off even more. "A dog is supposed to bring us enjoyment," I said. "All she does is tear shit up and make us fight!" And that was it. I lost it. I went to the bedroom and started bawling. It's not that I don't love the stupid dog but she's cost us more money in the last year than the entire 5 years I've owned Bruiser, all of his vetting and neutering included. She ruined the carpet and the padding in our old apartment and we had to pay to replace it and was on her way to doing the same in the new house. She's ruined numerous pairs of shoes, of course, always the most expensive ones. She barks incesantly. She terrorizes the cat. She ate all the leaves off of my pepper plant and she digs in the strawberries to eat the worms. She's basically the worst dog ever and that's even with obedience training.

So in the epic battle between Evil Evelyn and Lily the Destroyer for who could ruin Sparkie's day, Lily came out the victor. Evelyn hadn't brought me to tears, although she did call the following week and pissed me off so bad I broke out in hives. I refunded her money but only after telling her that if I did so, she was not ever, EVER to contact us again because I would not tolerate her being so rude to myself and my staff. Lily survived her near death experience and now has resorted to eating cat shit out of the liter box. I did find one of my sandals that she'd apparently thought about chewing on but decided that it was cheap and not worth the effort. Even the pepper plant whose leaves she ate nearly every one of has come back and is beginning to bloom. After some ginger ale and a good nights rest, Mumbles was fine. Micha and I are very much enjoying the brand spanking new washer and drier in my gleaming house with carpets that are mostly clean.
Lily the Destroyer

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week 20- Half way there!

Next week we find out what we are having (fingers crossed that bump co-operates). I'm still convinced the baby is a boy. Micha thinks that the baby is a girl. I've asked him if he wants to place a small wager but he's declined, saying he doesn't want to jinx anything. Bump is about 10 oz now, almost a whole pound! And s/he's a mover and a shaker for sure! It seems like I feel his little kicks all the time now! Micha is a little less weirded out feeling the movements, but his eyes still get huge and he still sucks in his breath at each little rumble.

We are counting down the days until our babymoon! I'm excited about getting to see some place new and best of all- I get Micha to myself for a whole week! I've already told him: No emails, no phone calls! If it is work related, it can wait. I'm also looking forward to no boring job and no housework. I feel like my free time has been sucked up by the vaccuum of housework. We watched 'Couples Retreat' last night, not that funny, but I kept looking at the beaches and ocean and thinking 'That is where I need to be.' Florida here we come!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Old-Wives Tales

This one is just for fun. I always love to hear the old-wives tales about pregnancy and babies. Morning sickness means it's a girl; none means the baby's a boy. A woman from the Philipines once told me that I should take care not to block doorways or else I would have a difficult labor. Here are just a few others:

If you are 'babymooning' in Hawaii, don't expect to get leid upon arrival. Hawaiin supersticion says wearing a Lei can cause the baby to choke.

Sex kick starts labor. This one is actually true!



How are you carrying? Carrying high or having a small belly that sticks straight out means the baby is a boy. Carrying low or having a big round belly means the baby is a girl.

Faster heart rate means a girl, slower means a boy. This is one that my OB jokes with us about all the time.

The Mayan Tale- The Mayans believe that by adding the age of the mother at conception to the year of conception, the sex of the baby can be determined. If the number is even, the child will be a girl, odd you're having a boy.
 
Cravings- There are a number of variations to this one. Cravings sweets or fruits means the baby will be a girl. Salty or veggie cravings are a sure sign of a boy.
 
Wooden spoons, scissors and pink bows. Oh my! There's an old wives tale that says if the mother puts these three items under her pillow, she'll have a girl. How many husbands found scissors under the wifes pillow and started sleeping with one eye open?
 
Who was on top? Another old wives tale that claims to predict the sex of the baby says that the sex of the baby will be the opposite of whomever was dominant during conception. Another variation is whether the couple was face-to-face during conception. Good ole' missionary makes baby girls, while doggy style will give you a boy.
 
Moodiness and a little pecker. The theory here is that all the extra hormones from carrying a girl makes mom moodier. Conversely, having a little pecker insider her, makes mom happier. I have no idea how true this one is, but it makes me laugh.
 
Drinking water. Drinking plenty of water is important for health reasons, especially for pregnant women but not because it will cause the amniotic fluid to be 'dirty'.
 
Cats can steal the babies breath. This goes back to the time when cats were associated with witchcraft. The more likely reason behind a cats interest in baby's breath; it smells like milk!
 
If a new mother takes her baby to another woman's home and leaves something of the baby's behind, a woman in that household will become pregnant.

Feel free to comment with a few of your favorite old wives tales!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thank you for not Mouth-breathing...

I simply don't understand why they feel the need to do that in public. I mean, I get that its necessary to sustain life but what about the rest of us? Don't we have a right eat a meal without having to worry about what the person at the table right next to us is doing. You know what I'm talking about.

Mouth-breathers are especially annoying. They make no attempt what-so-ever to conceal what they are doing. Do you know what else that mouth has been used for? I don't want to even think about it! A part of the body that is used that way is certainly not for children's eyes. They have masks for that you know! The worst is when their lips are chapped or crooked or just really thin. Gross! Who wants to see that?! Certainly not me! The only lips I want to see in public are thick, full lips. I mean if you aren't going to keep them covered, they should at least look good! Angelina Jolie's lips are good. I don't mind seeing those in a magazine, just so long as I can't tell by looking what she is using them for.
It's really annoying how when you encounter a mouth-breather and ask them to wear a mask or go in the bathroom, they get all indignant about it. Like it's such a big deal to put a mask on! No, I don't put a mask on when I breath, but I breath through my nose, so I shouldn't have to. And no, I don't really want to go to a smelly, germy bathroom to breath but again, I don't use my mouth to breath, just my nose. I know some people's noses are stuffy so they have to mouth-breath, but they don't have to do it all over the place!

It's really about respect and common courtesy. I think mouth-breathing is a personal choice we should all be free to make, I just don't want to see anyone doing it.