From the monthly archives:

November 2009

Baby sans automobile

by Milton on Wed, Nov 25th, 2009

in Home,Week 17

Just in case we end up not being able to sell our house before baby arrives, we’re going to have to come up with a strategy for taking care of a baby without the convenience of a car. Our current house doesn’t have a garage, and none are for sale, and parking spaces are hundreds of bucks per month.

Of course, all difficulties merely turn into challenges, and I’m especially interested in challenges that require minimalism and creativity to overcome.  But, I haven’t really thought about it enough to know if it’s even possible.

I like Dear Baby’s take on the car-less life with baby.  Their solution, which has yet to be tested, is:

  • Quinny Zap stroller – 13lbs, can hold a stroller seat or a car seat, folds up real small, has storage, etc.
  • Maxi Cosi car seat – for the first few months when the baby’s too small for a stroller, and also for car travel.
  • Zipcar – for doctors appointments, emergencies, day trips, etc.
  • Taxis + stroller + car seat for quick trips or visits.
  • Moby Wrap or BabyBjorn when we using public transportation, or walks.

I think it can all work. The main wild card is the fear factor of “what if something crazy happens and you need to get to the hospital and every second counts”… a car would clearly be the most convenient option, or an ambulance actually, so we’ll need to come to terms with that fear and see if it’s worth the cost of a car plus $150/month in parking plus insurance and all that.

I’m looking for examples of people who have a newborn and survive without a car. Any tips or tricks or advice would be really helpful! Thanks.

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Dear baby

by Milton on Wed, Nov 25th, 2009

in Letters to baby,Week 17

Esther texted me today, “Our baby is awake. :))))))”

I texted back, “Yaaaaaaaay! What’s he/she doing???”

She texted back, “Swimming! Spending secret time with mom…”

“I’m jealous.”

It’s true, I don’t get the same secret time with you as Esther does.  I still haven’t felt your swimming frog legs kicking flips in her belly.  I have a feeling I’m going to want to overcompensate by speaking to you in deep sea voices once I do make first contact with your other-worldly self.

I’ve started learning some songs on my guitar to play for you once you arrive. I’m trying to find baby-appropriate songs that are somewhat soothing and also have either ambiguous or happy lyrics.  I’ve learned about 66% of From An Aeroplane Over The Sea, by Neutral Milk Hotel, and am working also on learning Flume by Bon Iver, When U Love Somebody by the Fruit Bats, and a couple Decemberists and Fleet Foxes songs sit on the backburner waiting for my fingers to callus up a little.  Once I get my guitar-playing fingers working a bit better, and my play-and-sing coordination down a bit more, I will try to write a song or two for you. Or at least change a few of the lyrics to songs I already know. We’ll see. Underpromise overdeliver, right?

Since I haven’t played guitar in a while, I’ve noticed that the songs I’m playing are a lot different from the ones I used to play.  The music of the last few years that I’ve been listening to is actually a lot simpler and easier to play than the music of my highschool and college days (lots of classic rock back then, to be sure).  In particular, the songs are easier to play, but there are a lot more lyrics to memorize. And the melodies are a bit more difficult to sing over the chords.  Just my observation. You won’t know the difference, really. But, I hope you like our music… cause you’re gonna be listening to a lot of it as you grow up.  We’re gonna try our best to avoid baby music… I don’t really get why baby music has to suck. But who knows, maybe it’s because babies have bad taste in music. I’ll leave all options open. Another good policy, I guess.

Back to some guitar now.  Talk to ya later, baby.

Yours,

Milton

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We got a $428.73 bill from Polyclinic today, apparently for various things that we did in the doctor’s office last month, before we decided not to go with them.  See the November 24th section of our Money Spent page.  I admit, it’s more than I was expecting… and of course they give you no warning or indication of the cost of the things you’re doing while there. I almost feel like they assume that money is simply not part of what they do… that it’s between us and our insurance company.  But they’re the ones that know how much things cost, how necessary they are, etc, and should be able to at least inform us that this or that thing will cost however much so that we can know what we’re buying.  That would at least help stir my memory when the bill came and something like “RTU PG UTRUS W/IMAG DOC T” that cost $178 was actually an ultrasound and we were glad to pay for it (that’s what I’m assuming it was, at least).

In any case, it turns out that our $3,000 deductible will reset on January 1st, so all of this money we’re spending now won’t count towards the deductible in May.  Lame!  The full bill for the midwives, home birth, etc is a flat $1,900, and is due upon delivery of the baby.  Both fact of which are pretty awesome.  I called our insurance and made sure that this would all at least go towards our deductible when the time came, and they verified that it would.  The helper at Regence even told me that we can get a free breast pump if we order it through one of these approved sellers.  Cool!  I’m assuming that we’ll also have to pay for the week 20 ultrasound (coming right before Christmas) that will hopefully be able to tell us the gender of our little avocado-sized swimming character (bigger by then).  Very excited for that.

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Not much to report

by Milton on Sun, Nov 22nd, 2009

in Week 17

We’re definitely solidly in the “sweet spot” of the pregnancy now. At least, this is what Esther reports. She seems to be feeling a lot better nauseous-wise, only reporting feeling ill when she eats too much or too fast.  The second meeting with the midwifery group was fun… we met another of the midwives, Lynn, and she seemed just as calming and helpful as Beth.  We talked out some of our fears about having a home birth at our current place (in case our house doesn’t sell by then) and she reassured us that it would work fine, even though our bathroom is on a different floor from the main living area.  Apparently bedpans can be used. Iiinteresting.

Also, Lynn mentioned that Esther will be required to not move much for a week after she gives birth. The uterus needs to heal (especially where the placenta was attached) and of course if any tearing happens that too will need to heal.  Stairs are not allowed.  Women who don’t rest for that required week sometimes have continued bleeding for long after the birth–something we’d want to avoid.  Which means that Esther will be hanging out in bed and around the bed for about a week… which will be an interesting adventure for us both.  I plan on staying home for about a month after the birth too so I’ll be able to do all of the other things, but I worry most about Esther feeling couped up in a little area after going through such an ordeal. I’m sure she’ll be itching to run around and explore the world with little baby it tow, but I guess that’s gonna have to wait til week two.

Anyway, not much to report. I still haven’t felt anything, not for lack of trying. The baby’s now the size of an avocado. Our house still hasn’t sold. And on through week 17 we go…

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Right before it starts becoming real…

by Milton on Mon, Nov 16th, 2009

in Week 16

I feel like we’re currently at the very edge of where this mystical baby starts becoming more real. Last night, Esther felt the first popcorn popcorn pop of the baby’s movements.  I sat in bed with my hand on her belly for a good hour at least trying to wait patiently for a little pop.  At one point, popcorn happened, and I didn’t notice it.  I resolved to put more attention into the nerve endings of my palm and to concentrate as hard as possible on the slightest movements, but by that point the popcorn had stopped.

Yes, the baby is still popcorn in my mind.

But, I think, once movement starts happening, and I can feel it, the popcorn idea will poof from my head.  And then, shortly after the movement is confirmed, the true obstacle of de-abstractification will be just on the horizon: gender.  And then, of course there’s that ever-growing belly on my beautiful wife to consider.  With a baby inside!

I want reality to break through.  I want to know this baby.

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I read Jenny McCarthy’s Belly Laughs book a couple days ago.  Wow.  It’s scary to think that she’s encouraging women to act like her, in my opinion.

On the other side of the spectrum, we watched the Business of Being Born last night.  That’s a pretty great documentary.  I think it was meant to be controversial, and to show the worst of hospitals, and I don’t think all hospitals are as ignorant and backwards as the ones depicted (Seattle’s Swedish, for instance). However, I think the fact that more light should be brought to the midwifery traditions and practices is definitely called for.

According to our midwife, that documentary and the book Pushed have both contributed to a surge in business for midwives in the last few years.

Only 1% of births in the United States are done via midwives, and only a fraction of those are home births.  Seattle’s a little different, and actually has between 4-7% of births through midwives.  I think it might be because of the better insurance policies that allow them to be covered.  So hopefully this number will grow.

One of the great and unexpected things about The Business of Being Born is that the film-maker is pregnant during the making of the movie.  Of course, after all this talk about home births and everything, she ends up having pre-term labor and a C-section at a hospital, and had to keep her baby in NICU for 3 weeks.

The reason I think that’s great (in the documentary’s sense, not in the sense that the baby had such a scary beginning) is because every doctor in the movie is like “what if something scary happens?” and this is the answer… you go to the hospital.  Hospitals aren’t inherently bad, it’s just that they are designed to deal with emergencies and dangerous medical conditions.  Most births, however, are not in this category, and could just as easily (and some argue more safely and nicely) be handled outside of the hospital system.  For the 10-15% of births that have complications, it’s awesome that hospitals are there to help, and this fact has a lot to do with the lowering maternal mortality and baby mortality in the last 100 years.

Anyway, it’s just so interesting to think about all of this.  I keep trying to remember how we first started down this midwife/home birth track–I remember being just as pro-epidural as the next person before Esther got pregnant.  We are trained to be afraid of birth.  And, as the non-participatory husband, of course fear is even more justified because all of this is happening to Esther, not me, and therefore the lack of control is scary.

This is merely how I feel now, and reserve the right to change my mind at any point along this pregnancy.

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Pop!

by Esther on Mon, Nov 16th, 2009

in Pregnancy by week,Week 16

I’ve been having a lot of lucid dreams about feeling heartbeats and baby movements under my hand.  I wake up feeling so happy and excited during the mornings after.  The dreams make what’s happening inside of my body feel very real and sweet.

The most recent dream happened this morning.  When I woke, I realized that I had been laying with my hand on my womb for goodness knows how long, dreaming about all the pops and bubbles I could feel from the little fish alien swimming inside of me.

This is a big week for pregnancy-  you just might feel your beb for the first time!  The Mayo Clinic book and The Baby Center page both say that first-time expectant mothers don’t usually feel the baby moving inside of them until the 20th week, but that the expectant and wise first time mother can feel movement as early as 16 or 17 weeks.  Prone to an excess of body awareness and sensitivity to every little nut and bolt inside of me, I’ve believed (sure-  somewhat smugly)  from the beginning that I would feel the baby early, and have been eagerly seeking quiet and still moments for the past few days, gently poking around my belly to see if I could wake anyone up (how rude, I know).

Quite unexpectedly today, while sitting at the computer to perform mundane errands, I felt my first decisive little *pop*.  A little gold fish!  A bit of popping corn!  A butterfly!  The tiniest beep on my personal radar.  And there it was again, just a moment ago, a tiny little knock.  So exciting!

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Gear, money, and travel.

by Esther on Mon, Nov 16th, 2009

in Challenges,Money,Pregnancy by week,Week 16

I’ve been feeling pretty great.  Fatigue is in check, nausea has disappeared, pickle cravings have subsided, and somehow I refrained from spending $50 on sheep milk cheese at the market this week.  I even want to have sex again!  The second trimester is truly the sweet spot of pregnancy.

Milton and I have been getting on well.  Our only argument has us recalling one of our only wedding-prep related arguments, which was quite specifically about gift registration and gear.  We agree that there is a colossal amount of waste in the baby industry.  Obviously, every baby born does not need a brand new status stroller.  Obviously, any baby born does not need a brand new anything.  I have no qualms about hand-me-down anythings (other than a breast pump, because that just seems a little weird), but worry that not registering for anything at all will leave my family at a loss for how to help out… and, like most American families, my family likes to help out by buying gifts on a registry.  I also worry that we’ll end up throwing money we don’t have on things we later find are necessary when we feel a pinch.  We do have that bad habit.  It’s nice to be prepared.

Of course, all of this baby gear prep is still a few months away.  Right now we’re concentrating on selling our awesome house, which is really only awesome if you don’t have a baby.  We’re also concentrating on buying tickets to go to my hometown for Christmas and my Grandmother’s 85th birthday, which is making me sad because I have to spend a whole lot of money to fly during the holiday season… and money has become this whole different thing to me now that I need to save it for a new family.  I am truly worried that I will never see my family again once this kid is born.   Goodness knows that tickets feel a whole lot more expensive when they are bought in twos and (later) threes.

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100 days down

by Milton on Mon, Nov 9th, 2009

in Week 15

Only 180, give or take 14, to go.

Status:

  • Everything with baby seems to be going fine.
  • Esther reports that the nausea is calming down (but not gone entirely)
  • Esther reports that she can barely feel the baby. “Like a little fish swimming around.”
  • Our house is still not sold. There may or may not be an offer coming in next week, but the agent seems a little sketchy. Cross your fingers that their client is not!
  • I’m reading Spiritual Midwifery, and it’s awesome.
  • I got The Birth Partner from a friend who was a doula for a while, and I think it’s gonna be a great book to prepare me for not being a waste of space during the birth.
  • We are having trouble finding anywhere with an H1N1 vaccination. Everywhere is all booked, even though we have been calling and checking everything every day. I just have to be more diligent about checking at 11am every day and calling all the pharmacies that have the shot. We will get immunized!

With every day, I feel more and more excited about this. I’m excited to be a father. I’m excited to get to be there from the beginning and experience this process of becoming a human being from scratch. I’m excited about how this will change the way I view the world and experience life.

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I think today we went from being pretty certain about having our baby in a hospital with a doctor and all that that implies to going to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and deciding to do a home birth with a midwife.

I totally think it’s the right thing for us to do.

We met with a midwife group called Rainy City Midwifery and the difference between what we learned in the 60 minutes there versus the 3 visits and many hours of being at the Polyclinic was stark, to say the least.

Beth Coyote (great name, right?) at Rainy City Midwifery was amazing. Right away she talked about how this is not simply a medical procedure involving a uterus and a baby, but something that is happening to our family.  The creation of a family even.  Imagine that.

3% Cesarean rates, with 85% of the births taking place without transferring to a hospital.  That’s a stark contrast to the 30% Cesarean rates at Polyclinic (even though even that’s lower than the national average).

They have 3 midwives and 2 students, with one midwife always on call, while all 3 are always up to date on everything happening with every mother.  The 2 students attend every birth.  So there are at least 3 people with their full attention on you at all times.  If things end up going to the hospital, they come with you and stay through the end.

Listen to this.  They visit your home 1 day after the birth and 3 days after the birth, and also continue to help out for the following 6 weeks.  That alone was a huge deal to me, and illustrated the difference between getting the baby out and starting a family.

They are cheaper than a hospital.  Mostly because they don’t bother running up every single bill that they can.  When we explained our insurance situation Beth even suggested that some potential payment plans were available.  We might need those.

On every visit (about the same number of visits as you would for a doctor) they spend most of the time talking with you, answering questions, etc.  Contrast that to our 10 minutes of doctor time that we’ve had during our first 3 visits, and however many minutes waiting in waiting rooms and little rooms.

I was ready to sign up right then and there this afternoon.  Esther wanted to talk about it, so we left, talked 10 minutes, and then made our next appointment and canceled our future appointments at the Polyclinic.

We’re gonna try to do a home birth.  1% of births in the US are through midwives, and only a fraction of those are done outside of a hospital.  So we’re going a pretty radically different route than most people do.  But, outside the US, plenty of other countries do it this way.  We both strongly feel that this is the right decision for us.

Exciting.

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