From the category archives:

Challenges

Swingers

by Milton on Tue, Jun 15th, 2010

in Baby,Baby Gear,Challenges,Design,Home,Month 1,Parenthood

Baby on one knee... iPad on the other.

With the exception of our nursing and napping enabler, the marvelous iPad, we’re both super sensitive to baby gear.  Most of it is junk.  I see it in the store and immediately visualize it in a landfill.  It’s pretty much all badly made molded plastic crap, and much of it requires a batteries.  Gross.  I cringe at the use of even a disposable water bottle or plastic shopping, so you can imagine how all of this other stuff makes me feel.

I tried to get around the baby gear issue by only registering for very few things and buying vintage.  The furniture I bought to house Axelrod’s little onesies and pajamas is midcentury stuff that matches all the blonde wood we have in our space, refinished a little with some fabric that will eventually translate well into his own room (someday, someday!).  Our pram is a fantastic mid-70s vintage.  We co-sleep when he’s not in the pram, and hope to totally avoid ever owning a crib.  The little books and toys we’ve gotten for him are stashed in bins on the blonde wood shelves.

The big, amazing, SUV style BOB stroller is the big item in one of our only big closets.  The ugly Graco infant seat was my one plastic concession in our living room, along with a vibrating chair that is on loan from another family.  We found that we could strap him into the car seat and rock the seat with our foot, creating a swing effect, OR put him in the vibrating chair.  They both work, depending on his mood.  I thought it’d hold out through the infant swing phase nicely.

And then he started to get fussy in ways that only a good rock would suffice.

He’s generally not a fussy guy.  He doesn’t cry unless he has a really good reason.  He cries when he’s hungry.  He fusses when his diaper needs changing.  He cries when he has gas.  The thing is, that whole gas issue?  Yeah.  That happens a LOT.  He’s always working something out, be it a man sized burp or a series of charming farts.  He grunts and pushes and cries.  I can’t blame him.  Digestion issues are the devil.  We use a little Gripe water from time to time, but this stuff certainly doesn’t put him down for a nap, hands free.

The thing about infants is that they get all worked up.  They’re happy and gorgeous and smiling, and then something will happen to tip the scales and you could be looking down a rocky road for the next few hours of family peace.  It’s not that he screams, really.  We are very fortunate to not have a baby with colic.  He just fusses.  He grunts.  He squeaks.  He squirms.  If it goes on for two long, the scales get tipped and his head gets all messy and refuses to sleep.  You’ve got to reset that baby brain with some white noise and swinging to lull him off to sleepy time, thereby lulling yourself off to some precious sleepy time.

For us, the worse time is in the morning.  It starts to happen any time from 4am to 6am and can sometimes (luckily not often) last until 2pm.  He starts to get gassy and he starts with the grunting and the squeaking.  Sometimes, this makes for parental shambles for the whole rest of the day.  A baby who nurses at midnight, 2, and 4 and then decides to be mostly awake until late morning or early afternoon makes for a parent who is trying to survive the day on only 2 hours of sleep.  Exhaustion makes everything worse.  We will start to snip at each other and argue about areas where we generally feel peaceful.  That’s not a pretty way for new parents to go!

Enter… my bratty foot stomping insistence on buying a baby swing.  I was lucky to have the backup of my mother and sister-in-law on the swing front.  They were all visiting- Milton was uncertain of this ugly plastic monstrosity, but it’s rather hard to argue in the face of so many mothers.  Our family needed a swing- it was decided.  We headed to a local baby gear consignment shop and put our fussy baby into some of the ugliest swings I’ve ever seen to test them out.  In the end, Milton and I decided to come away with the cheapest one.  His sister used the same model for her little girl, and it worked for her, that was good enough reason for us!  We bought it and brought it home.  My mother sent me to bed for a much needed nap and commanded absolute silence from my very young sisters and step-father.  She scrubbed the swing while I slept.  It now looks practically new and now doesn’t have that sweetly rancid other-people’s-baby smell that I associate with day care centers and baby consignment shops.  Phew.

Today is the first day we’re getting to test the swing.  His little head flops around a little in it, so I’ve got him supported with an adorable purple elephant that a good friend of ours knit.  I put him in that swing when he was grunting, squeaking, and badly in need of a nap… and he went down for the count.  After 10 minutes, I moved him to his pram for a proper sleep and breathed a sigh of relief.

The swing will go right back to that consignment shop in a few months.  Our living room will look worse for the wear in the meantime, but we three will get some sleep in the meantime.  We’ve learned that a sleepy baby by day means a sleepy baby by night… so I don’t doubt he’ll be lulled to many naps in this thing.

Once he grows a little more and can focus on some different things, I’ll tell you all about the ugly playcenter hand-me-down that was dubbed by it’s previous owner as the “Neglector 1000.”  We’ll use that thing (currently stashed under the couch) and pass that right along to the next baby, too.

In baby world, the fussbucket motto must be, “By Any Means”. Even if those means are plastic.

{ 8 comments }

40 Weeks, 6 Days

by Esther on Fri, May 14th, 2010

in Challenges,Psychological,Week 40

A Night of Hemingway

I was up all night last night with 45 second long contractions that started every 2.5 minutes.  It was very similar to a bit of false labor that happened last Sunday, but last Sunday’s hours of excitement and discomfort followed a cervical sweep, and this night did not.  This particular false labor followed a walk around the 3 mile path of GreenLake.

The walk was REALLY difficult, which surprised me.  Just a couple of weeks ago, I had no problem keeping up a terrific pace around the lake.  One week ago, I had no problem mounting the hills of Seattle on an hours and hours long walkabout with my husband.  This time I crept along at a snails pace.  The last mile of the lake about killed me.  Aching knees, aching feet, grumpy pants.  I could have curled up on any old patch of grass for a nap, but then I would have gotten to the car (and ultimately my bed) even later.  I can’t believe the difference one week post your due date makes!  I’ve always been in great shape, and feel a little broken.  I feel detached from my body in a way that I never have before.  I am watching my lumbering from afar.  Sometimes I wake from a nap and wouldn’t know I was pregnant… until I have to move and roll over to somehow make it up and to the bathroom for my every 10 minute trip to the toilet.  Everything is taking so much effort that I’m a little concerned about what a long labor is going to be like.  Having strong Braxton Hicks for 8 hours straight is not at all painful, but is absolutely exhausting.  Will real labor take even longer?  Will real labor be 10 times stronger… or 100?

We went in for a 41 week ultrasound today.  The baby looks great!  His cheeks are chubby like mine and we think he has his father’s eyes (which is how I always pictured him).  I felt as if I was cheating a little bit with our sneak peak, but placated myself with the knowledge that we were doing this to make sure everything was ok.

(Honestly, I knew everything was ok.  He’s totally chilling out in there.)

I’m exhausted today.  I just woke from a 4 hour nap and, having eaten a sandwich, am thinking about retiring for 4 more hours.  Maybe I’ll wake up in for real labor some day soon.  My sleeping schedule is totally screwed so I must be ready to be a newborn nursing mom, right?

{ 4 comments }

Control

by Milton on Wed, May 12th, 2010

in Psychological,Week 40

We don’t have any.

{ 7 comments }

Shhhhhhh

by Esther on Tue, May 11th, 2010

in Challenges,Pregnancy by week,Psychological,Week 40

Oh you guys! Honestly, we don’t need labor inducing tecniques. I get acupuncture needles all over my body, have been inserting Evening Primrose Oil for weeks, love awkward pregnant intimacy with my husband (even if I don’t want to talk about it on our blog), have had cervical sweeps, walk all the time, spend lots of time meditating, eat pineapple sprinkled with cayenne (ok mostly because that’s delicious!) and on and on and on and on and on and on. And then on. And on. Really. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

We know. We hear you! We read the books you recommended. We talked to our midwives. I get calls, texts, emails, facebook wall messages, gchats, facebook chats, and even pretty snail mail cards from everyone in our community. We love you all for that, but are feeling a little overwhelmed. And, honestly, we understand that none of it really works if the baby’s not ready.

I am trying to relax and not feel exhausted by pregnancy. I am madly looking forward to the batch of babymoon hormones I will get when our little crane decides that it’s high time he arrives. In the meantime, my best friend is going to arrive via plane tomorrow! We hadn’t been intending to have her here at the birth… but that could be awesome if it happens. Whatever comes with our imminent futures will be awesome as long as everyone remains in good health and high spirits.

{ 3 comments }

Ok, it’s true.  The end of pregnancy gets weird.  I once read a tweet from a recently pregnant girl that said something along the lines of, “It’s like waiting for a houseguest who hasn’t told you exactly when he was coming, who will stay for 18 years.”  That’s true.  On top of that, there are all of these amazing hormones that a lady has to deal with.  Alternately, they have me spaced out, bone tired, become a weeping madonna, or they cause me to buzz about like a squirrel in November making last minute preparations for hibernation.  I’ve had me some manic episodes, but never combined in quite this way.  Usually, the buzzy squirrel (by far my favorite hormone-induced personality manifestation) comes after 10pm, and often stays until 2am, after which point I find myself meditating my way to sleep, which is great hypno-breathing practice.  Without a great effort towards breath meditation, there is no way I would even sleep after 2am.  We no longer sleep before 2am in this house!  We also no longer get out of bed before 11.  It’s just not possible.  This baby dictates these hours from within.

World, did you know that you can walk around with your cervix 3cms dilated, while breathing through non-progressive (and not painful) 30 second contractions that come every 2.5 minutes, for a whole day, without being in labor?  I did not!  My uterus has been doing lots of work without really bothering me too much.  Hopefully this means that when showtime comes along, I will need to work a little less.  I don’t really know.  The whole birthing process is still such a great mystery to me, even after reading all 50 of the books on our shelves and having a somewhat solid base understanding of the science that goes on behind the madness.

I am on my way to get some acupuncture at my midwifery office.  We are hoping to nudge this little crane down a bit.  He doesn’t seem to understand yet that, while it’s great that he’s comfortable, a bit more pressure on my cervix will bring him to his second home- The Outside World- where we spend a lot of time laughing, dancing, and cuddling.  Milton keeps telling my belly, “You can come out now.  There are warm blankets here!”

{ 2 comments }

What If? A Portrait of Infertility

by Esther on Thu, May 6th, 2010

in Challenges,Parenthood

This video touched me to tears this morning. I found it on the Offbeat Mama blog, along with Offbeat Mama Ariel’s story.

We got only a small taste of infertility when trying to make our little crane. Making this baby led me down the road to a heart-breaking miscarriage and 9 months of treating my body and our sex life like my own personal science experiment. Ultimately, we were very lucky. We did get our little crane to plant himself naturally. But the what ifs that I got a taste of during that year of trying were quite a life lesson.

Let’s hear it for all of those women out there re-defining motherhood, shall we? Let’s hear it for modern science, infertility research, and a healthy dose of awareness. Let’s hear it for all of you folk out there who are NOT pressuring lady friends by constantly asking if they are pregnant. You never know if that woman is letting the What If’s plague her. You never know how many different mothers rest in the hearts of different women. We don’t all have to give birth to realize that goddess within.

{ 1 comment }

I had the hardest time sleeping last night because of a relentless windstorm… and a bit of a storm in my mind that I’ll keep to myself as far as this blog is concerned.

I woke up today at noon, after a few hours of rest, and am still exhausted. I’m so low energy today that I’m boring myself. Finally just drug myself to the mirror to put on some lipstick a minute ago, and am looking forward to a walk with my husband, and then a movie with friends.

I just thought to myself, “If I’m really right about having this baby right around my due date, I’m going to be a full on mom by this time next week, for certain.”

That’s just crazy. And awesome. And hilarious!

boredpants. waiting and anticipating.

{ 7 comments }

Reposted in part from a friend in New York due to give birth at home next week:

Basically, in new york state midwives need to have a written practice agreement (WPA) with a institution or a physician. most of the homebirth midwives here had a practice agreement with st. vincent’s, which was essentially the best/most progressive hospital to birth in in new york city. unfortunately it was in a lot of debt and earlier this month it was decided that it would shut down. so as of friday all the homebirth midwives are without a WPA. which means all the homebirth midwives are kind of screwed and have been scrambling to figure out what to do. apparently there is legislation in the senate already to remove the WPA requirement and the only real thing to be done in the meantime is to have a “health emergency” be declared by the governor so that the midwives can continue practicing until either the legislation goes through or they find someone to sign a WPA. of course, the department of health is saying this is not an emergency because all we homebirthing women can and should just give birth in hospitals anyway.

This is really horrible up news, people. Pregnant women in NY will be denied a right to choose their births if something isn’t done very quickly. Hundreds of women are right now planning home births in New York, and have worked for months to provide their families with the comfort and medical assistance they need. Also, there will be several midwives completely out of work for an undisclosed amount of time, forced to send their patients to OB (surgeon!) strangers for labor and delivery!

Please call Wendy Saunders, Executive Deputy Commissioner for the NY State Department of Health, appointed by Governor Paterson. The goal is to flood them with calls tomorrow. the governor’s office number is 518-474-8390. Leave a message with her staff explaining that with the closing of Saint Vincent Hospital in NYC, there are hundreds of families now stranded and it is your understanding that the governor is the only one with the authority to declare a Health Emergency and to issue an Emergency Executive Order waiving the provision of the law that requires midwives to have a written practice agreement.

Please pass this message on to anyone from NY state that you know and encourage them to call!!!

{ 3 comments }

I’ve finished working!  Which of course brought about a round of emotions last night at dinner.  I can’t recall the last time I straight up didn’t work for 4+ months.  I must have been about 10 years old.  As soon as I finished my last client yesterday, I felt a wave of “What in the heck am I supposed to do now?”

Of course, I have a long list of things I need to get done before the baby comes.  After the baby comes, that list dissolves into all the things that are completely imminent!  Breast feeding.  Burping.  Swaddling.  Rocking.  Catching whatever sleep I can.  Rinsing and repeating until something changes in the overall baby scheme and I have to reformulate my parenting style completely.  Intellectually, I am aware of all of this.  I’ve read about 100 books and talked to at least 100 moms.  I’ve got all the stories, all the supplies, and all the information.  Of course, I have no real knowledge of what having a newborn will actually BE like, because I have never had a newborn.  I’m looking forward to experiencing something altogether new, but am of course a little apprehensive about being the best possible parent I can be.

My mother suggested recently in a facebook comment that it’s ok to be scared.  I immediately felt defensive!  Defensive is my go-to emotion whenever anyone suggests that I am, in any way, vulnerable.  Goodness forbid I should appear to be vulnerable!  Luckily, I am able to afford being self-aware, and was thus able to step back from my defensive stance and investigate.  Am I scared?  I don’t really think I am.  I don’t think that’s why I’m crying here and there, all overwhelmed with emotion.  Frankly, I think I’m crying here and there because my hormones are peaking with impending babyhood…. but that’s not to say that the emotions that are coupled with the hormones are anything but totally viable.  I am emotional because my time alone with my husband as my only immediate family (side note: my parents and siblings are technically immediate… but live 3k miles away.  This is less… immediate.  Obviously).  I am emotional because I have no idea what the life ahead of us will be like.  On a lesser scale, I am emotional because I missed the Wedding Present perform Bizzaro at The Crocodile the other night (alas, I am too pregnant for shows right now) and because I can no longer just skip out into the city to catch shows or grab drinks at bars.  I am emotional because I might never have visible abs again.  Everything is changing!  When you can afford to be self-aware, you can’t help but well-up a little with emotion.

I’ve said it before, many times.  Pregnancy is  a long time.  A whole lot happens in 40 weeks!  There is a whole process that we have gone through as a family to prepare us for the next step.  I’m not feeling emotional because I haven’t prepared myself for life on baby island.  I’m 34 years old and filled with all the love and capability that is necessary.  Arguably, I am a fantastic candidate for a mothering job.  I’ve worked out all my kinks, gotten jollies in my career, let the ants in my pants make me break dance, lived in several desirable cities, and generally ensured that I’m not going to freak out and wonder if there was something I didn’t DO before building a house on baby island.  I’ve got a solid loving relationship with a partner who is a fantastic candidate for a fathering job.  I’m also seasoned enough to know that I’ll DO plenty more as my child grows and my family progresses.  I’m ready.  But until the time comes and the whole transformation occurs- I am over here feeling grateful, reflective, and emotional.

{ 4 comments }

A few things…

by Esther on Tue, Apr 13th, 2010

in Challenges,Home,Midwives,Pregnancy by week,Week 36

1)  I just don’t know how to make the reflux stop this week!  I couldn’t possibly eat dinner before 9 on nights when I work, and when I go to bed at midnight, all hell breaks loose.  Last night was just terrible!  I kept trying to sleep my way through through the reflux, which would result in hilarious dreams about people trying to buy me a spittoon for my pregnancy, but arguing about what china pattern should be on the spittoon… and here I am yelling, JUST GIVE ME THE SPITOON!  I NEED IT NOW!  I ended up spending time in the bathroom, convinced I was going to toss cookies all over the place, still lucidly dreaming, and in that lucid dream, convinced I was going into labor.

I’ve never had food poisoning, rarely had heartburn, and acid reflux was only a problem when I occasionally went so BOLD on my spicy foods that even the heartiest belly would object.  Granted, I’m lactose intolerant, soy sensitive, and can’t really digest much red meat… but it’s not like I’m shoving these things into my system.  I can’t wait for this little man to drop down a little and give my stomach some room to digest.

2)  In other news, I started taking these herbs last week.  My midwife said, “I’m not going to say they work, I’m not going to say they don’t work.  Some people like them and swear by them.  You can try them if you want.”  I did some research online, found some reviews, and the reviews basically echoed everything the midwife said.  I decided to order them because I am petrified of carrying 2 weeks or more past my due date.

As directed on the package of pills, I upped my dosage of the herbs on Saturday.  I am having LOTS and LOTS of contractions.  I don’t mind them at all!  They usually don’t bother me a whole lot.  In fact, they make me happy.  I feel as if my body is practicing for this labor.  When my belly contracts, I instantly leap into breathing and meditation exercises, which help so much.  Even Milton is getting so used to the contractions that he rolls over in his sleep and starts to practice touch relaxation exercises with me.  If he can do it in his sleep, people, imagine what a magical birth partner he’s going to be when the real deal comes along!

Anyhow, I left the pills at work yesterday and haven’t taken any in about 20 hours.  Thus, the contractions have slowed down quite a bit.  I’m still not sold on these supplements being a great thing or a not so great thing, all told.  I don’t want to have this baby early (no Aries men in my house, please- no offense meant to Aries men), don’t want to have this baby late, just want to have this baby on or around his due date.  It’s just that my mother carried so so late with both of her children… and my torso is so roomy… I can totally imagine kiddo hanging out, taking his sweet time, and going so far overdue that it’s too late for my highly anticipated home birth.  What to do?

3)  We hired a lovely cleaning woman!!!!!!!!!  This is an idea I have been flirting with ever since I started working a whole lot after moving to Seattle, but I kept putting it off and putting it off because, frankly, I didn’t want to spend money on something I figured I could do myself.  The fact is, yucky floors make me feel so sensitive, and I’m always convinced that no one sees the grime in the bathroom as well as I do.  Here I was, all sensitive, starting to resent the grime.  The more pregnant I got, the more I couldn’t reach grime without grunting, resenting, and working myself all up into a blood pressured tizzy.  Who has energy enough for grunting, resenting and pregnancy?  Gross.  Finally, we called a cleaning woman and she did SUCH an amazing job that I nearly cried when I came home from work yesterday.  So so worth it!  I imagine that this will be such an amazing help when the baby comes.  We don’t have any family here to help us out in Seattle, and will both be so busy figuring out how to take care of our new family member.  Thank goodness we can afford the ease of this wonderful woman coming over to take the pressure of cleaning off our backs!  It is definitely a luxury that I am now happy to pay for.

Here is a photo of myself earlier this week that is somewhat unpleasant for me to post, but par for the course, I suppose:

Hugeness

{ 1 comment }