Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Next Week

I return to work after over 3 months on maternity leave. I can't believe it's been 3 months already. I'm not ready to leave my baby. He's not ready to be left. The husband isn't ready to take on 2 kids full time.

Everything will be fine, I know. It's just the build up to the inevitable that leaves me feeling such dread.

You know what is totally wacky? In this country, I am so damn privileged to be able to take a whole 3 months off. Thank you, FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). Plus I have worked for my organization long enough to have built up a stock pile of paid leave so that all three months were paid. I'll be going back with no paid leave remaining, so it will be a month before I can take even one paid sick day, but I'm darn fortunate to have what I have.

So I have no excuse to whine about how I really wish I were living in Canada right now. Or pretty much anywhere else in the developed world. :-f

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Checking In

Where have I been for the past week?

1. Recovering from my 2nd case of mastitis (I could spend an entire post whining about all the troubles I'm having with breastfeeding this time around)

2. Having family in town visiting

Above mentioned family is still in town so I probably won't be able to post again this week.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous holiday season!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An interfaith household experience

There's a Christmas tree in my house. This is actually the second year we've had it. The husband bought it the week after Christmas on sale two years ago.

It's weird.

Not the tree itself. The tree is lovely, even being fake. It's just weird that I have a Christmas tree in my house at all.

Oh, pardon me, it's actually a winter solstice tree. Decorating pine trees at this time of year is, after all, a Pagan tradition. Nonetheless, it is a very stark symbol of... (dun dun dun) ... assimilation. As in, I have assimilated into the dominant (Christmas celebrating) culture. I have sold out, so to speak.

But, not completely, my family will be happy to know. Today I went to SchmoopyBoy's school where I lit my menorah, and talked to the children about how we celebrate Hanukkah at our house. I told them that we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah in our home, because SchmoopyBoy's daddy grew up celebrating Christmas and I grew up celebrating Hanukkah. SchmoopyBoy helped by handing me the candles and warning the other children to stay away from the fire because fire might kill them. I sang the prayers for the children and, although I didn't translate them into English, I told them what each was about (for example, "This one is about being thankful that we get to light these beautiful candles", etc).

We don't talk about being Jewish at my house very much. In fact, we tend to not talk about religion, period. Nonetheless, SchmoopyBoy is now at an age where he will remember what we do and what we don't do. He will start to feel ownership, so to speak, of the traditions we do in our home. Despite our household being by and large non-religous, I do want him to feel ownership of the practices I grew up with. I want him to understand that this is his heritage, and there is value to it.

So, I suppose the time will soon come when start having talks about what people believe and that different people believe different things. For now, I am content to say that some people celebrate only Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or the Winter Solstice; and that we celebrate more than one holiday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Brothers

First Meeting
There's a lot of this going on at my house:

Very sweet, but you can see how everyone gets sick around here. The hands cannot stay off.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

His Soul Eyes

He looks at me. No, he looks into me. Clear blue eyes, the windows to the soul.

His soul reaches through his eyes, past my own eyes, and wraps around my own soul tentacle-like, drawing it back into his tiny body.

The expression is one of familiarity and devotion. His soul seems to says to mine, Ah, it's you! I remember you. I remember loving you. And I love you still, for you are mine.

Yes. I am yours. And you are mine. We belong to one another. Two souls recognizing each other from across an ancient lifetime.

Trust, Love, Devotion, Remembrance in his older, other-worldly eyes.

I do not know what unfinished business we have to complete. I know only this:

I must not let him down.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Proof we are unfit company for the Queen

Exhibit 1.

How do get my 3 year old to eat black beans?

By calling them rabbit poo-poos.

Because, you know, there's nothing quite so hilarious as poo-poo. And what is better than talking about poo-poo than eating poo-poo?

I wonder how the Queen gets young children to eat beans. hmmmm....


Exhibit 2.

A recent conversation at my house.

It helps to know that (a) SchmoopyBoy is in the habit of adding the word poo-poo to everyday sentences, totally deadpan, (b) the husband recently got a new iphone, which is a great new toy for him, and (c) we watch all our tv through the computer.

SchmoopyBoy: I want to watch something.

Me: I think you've had enough screen time. How about if you play now, you can watch more tomorrow.

SchmoopyBoy: I want to watch poo-poo.

Me: Well, you're in luck. I'm on my way to the bathroom. You want to come with me? You can watch. (What? Half the time he follows me uninvited anyway, I might as well invite him.)

SchmoopyBoy: No. I want to watch poo-poo on the TV.

Husband: I can video tape mommy if you'd like. The iphone plugs into the computer really easily.

Me: ?!?!?!?!!!! (sighs and shakes head)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Universe, Take Your Viruses and Shove It

I am so sick of sickness I could cry.

Oh wait, I've already done that.

I am so sick of sickness I could scream.

Oh wait, I've already done that too.

Sheesh.

I don't know when the last cold ends and when the next cold begins. Or if it's all the same damn cold lingering or coming back all over again. I can't stand it. I just can't stand all the damn nonstop sickness.

I hereby am calling Primal Scream Tuesday.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Thanksgiving! (and I'm still here)

Wow, time flies when at least one person (typically 2 or more) in my home have been sick nonstop for a month. It's Thanksgiving, so it's all the more appropriate for me to take a moment to thank the family and friends, even virtual friends that I've never met in real life, who checked in with me to see if everything was ok. To be honest, I was fairly far off in postpartum land for a while, but I think I am doing a little better now. I pretty much checked out from the computer. I haven't been reading any of my regular sites that typically provide inspiration and motivation for my own blog posts. Not much reading, no writing. It's pretty much been all baby all the time, and one-dimensional life has never been particularly good for my emotional state. Not to mention, between all the illness, and Lil' Schmoo's determination the past several weeks that the carseat is the most awful torture device in the world, I haven't been getting out of the house much. Isolation is another aspect that has never been particularly good for my emotional state. I've been forcing myself out of the house a bit this past week, and with the holiday I'll likely get out of the house a bit more this weekend (Thursday for Thanksgiving lunch at my in-law's at a minimum).

So, in honor of Thanksgiving, and in the spirit of getting out of my funk, here are 5 things I am thankful for:

1. Mastitis is cleared up. Whew!

2. Family and friends that care enough to take a moment to check in on me when I go MIA (yes, I mentioned this above, but it's worth repeating here)

3. Baby smiles (pictures forthcoming)

4. Kisses from SchmoopyBoy - he has been quite generous with them recently

5. Morning naps - I got one today. It was awesome.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Got Mastitis?

I do. And I can assure you, in case you've never had it, it is just as bad as you might imagine it to be.

Wait, no. I take that back. It's worse.

Besides the red, hot, sore and painful lump on my breast, there's the fever, the chills, the achey and painful everything - the worst flu ever is what it feels like. The kind of incapacitating flu that makes you want to curl up in bed and not move ever again. The kind that that, when you wake up lightheaded, dizzy, and nauseous from barely eating or drinking anything all day, makes you wonder how you're going to find the strength to carry an 11 1/2 pound infant that is sleeping in your arms a whole 20 feet to get yourself a glass of water. Nasty business, this mastitis.

This, plus the lingering cold that everyone in the whole house has had. That's right, now there's four people coughing their lungs out all night.

It's just a barrel of joy and rainbows around here I tell you.

bleh. vent over.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween

Just a few pictures of the kiddos in their outfits.

First, my happy fire fighter:



He went trick or treating with his cousins and was done after about 15 minutes. hehehe

Second, my little pumpkin baby:


And because I am a goofball, here is a closeup of OMG-cute-pumpkin-feet!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Recent Events

First, SchmoopyBoy's first attempt at independent spelling. This spells "mommy":


Also, a few pictures of our 3rd annual visit to the fall festival at the local farm house. We had to wait in a ridiculously long line for the horse ride. Thankfully there was no wait for the hayride, which I think he actually enjoyed more.



Sadly, SchmoopyBoy got sick (again!) and even sadder, this time Lil' Schmoo was not so lucky to avoid catching it. This afternoon we're going to the doctor to make sure it's nothing serious. I really hope everyone is better by the weekend. My sister is coming out to meet her newest nephew and play with her oldest nephew. Hopefully sickness won't prevent anyone from having a nice visit.

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween! Hopefully I'll get pictures of the kiddos in their costumes posted before Thanksgiving. ;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

One year later

It is nearing the end of October, which is, in case anyone has forgotten, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I haven't written about it yet (although considering I've been up to my eyeballs living in newborn-sleep-deprivation-land, it's a minor achievement to post anything at all). That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about it, and how my life has changed over the past year.

Last year at this time I was grieving pretty hard. Two losses in a year is certainly enough to put anyone off kilter. It was all I thought about, all I wrote about. And here I am, a year later, typing one-handed as I cradle my 5 week old nursling in my other arm.

Am I a better parent now because I have experienced loss? I sincerely doubt that. Am I a more appreciative parent? That is a possibility. I think back to what I took for granted with SchmoopyBoy, all the gratitude I did not indulge in. Granted, in the throws of my postpartum depression, I was more or less incapable of gratitude, but that feels like such a waste now. I look down at this dear, perfect child and the tenderness I feel for him is matched only by the gratitude I have for him. For Him - the child that lived, the child that I thought might never be.

He is worth the wait. But there is still some... regret? sadness? bitterness? that such a wait was imposed. Was he not yet ready to be born? Was I not yet ready to receive him? I may never understand the whys, and I may always wonder who might be here in his stead, had one of those other babies lived.

Does that make me a worse parent now because I have experienced loss? I doubt that. Am I a slightly more wistful parent? That is a possibility.

Such are the laws of physics and family building - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is appreciation, but also wistfulness. There is joy, but also sadness. There is looking forward to the future, but also remembering and honoring the past. There is marveling at what I have, but also wondering about what I don't have.

Most of the time I am absolutely more connected with the positives - appreciation for what I have and looking forward to the future with my family. To be honest, I am rarely connected with the opposites. It's pretty tough to focus on negatives when you have such a soft-haired, cuddly pile of baby to gush over. Nonetheless, I can't help but grow thoughtful about these things when I look back to where I was at this time just one short year ago.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fun Facts

Five facts about Lil' Schmoo - age 1 month:

1. Hates being swaddled, must have his legs free to stretch out and hands by his head.

2. Having hands by his head means he sometimes wakes himself up when inadvertently sticking a finger in his mouth.

3. Refuses to stay asleep for more than 10 minutes when put down on a flat surface.

4. Still hates being vertical and loves being cradled, so still living in the ring sling.

5. Highly unimpressed with Gripe Water.


Five facts about SchmoopyBpy - age 3 years, 5 months:

1. Thomas the Train is the Greatest.Thing.Ever. Cannot get enough Thomas.

2. Toby the Tram is his favorite character.

3. Prefers soccer to t-ball.

4. Wants his baby brother's attention so badly, and gets upset that babies can't give attention yet.

5. Wants mommy-SchmoopyBoy-only time so badly, and gets upset that the baby is almost always attached to my body.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cloth Diapering My Newborn

When SchmoopyBoy was born, we had every intention of cloth diapering from the beginning. We bought a stash of one-size pocket diapers thinking the smallest setting would certainly be sufficient for our newborn, who would certainly be a least 8 pounds. Surprise! Out came our little 6 pound stringbean. The diapers we had were enormous for him. So we turned to disposables until he grew big enough for our stash.

This time, I bought a small stash of newborn sized cloth diapers of various types, and so far its going very well. I wanted to share some of my opinions on the various types we have, in case it may be useful for someone considering cloth diapers for their newborn. I purchased everything new, although I found most on some sort of sale or discount. All opinions are my own, and no one has offered any sort of compensation for my writing about them.

My favorite is probably the Rumparooz Lil' Joeys. I only bought one 2-pack because they are a little more pricey. These are an all-in-one diaper, so they are easy-peasy. Super cute. They come in lots of colors and they have a snap that allows you to use them before the cord stump falls off baby. I'm so sad my Lil' Schmoo will grow out of these soon.

I'm also loving my FuzziBunz Perfect Size in X-Small. I've got 6 of these in various colors. These are pocket diapers with a snap closure. I've used the one-size FuzziBunz with SchmoopyBoy with great success, so I thought I'd give the newborn size diaper a try. I'm glad I did. These and the Lil' Joeys are the diapers I use when we leave the house.

When SchmoopyBoy was small we tried a set of gDiapers. SchmoopyBoy was so skinny, they never fit particularly well and we had a lot of trouble with leaks. Lil' Schmoo is much more substantial in size, so I thought I'd pull out the old gPants and give them a try. To my delight they are working very well! I haven't used the flushable or cloth inserts that they sell specifically for the gDiaper system yet. I have been taking a bunch of cotton pre-folds that I already had on hand (the kind they sell at major retailers that most people use as burp cloths) and folding them into the right size to use as inserts. This has been working very well. I will say that this method is very bulky. I only use these when I'm at home because I can't really fit clothes over them. For travel I think the flushable inserts might be a good option.

The biggest disappointment is the set of Monkey Doodlez pocket diapers I found for cheap on Green Baby Bargains. The problem is that the inserts are tapered in a triangle shape, so there is almost nothing to catch pee in front. Perhaps these might work better for a girl, where more absorbency is needed in back than in front?

I wish I had pictures of Lil' Schmoo in each diaper to share with you. I tried taking some pictures with my trusty old cell phone camera and the results are really not worth sharing. You can see generic pictures of the diapers on the web sites linked above.

Happy cloth diapering!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Semi-functional

I am thrilled and amazed to report that I am actually semi-functional these days. So different from 3 weeks after SchmoopyBoy was born. Today I had 3 goals - take a nap, put away the 3 loads of clean laundry sitting in my basket, and bathe Lil' Schmoo. It is not yet 2:30pm and I have met all 3 goals! Woo hoo! (What? It's the little things.) Bonus, I'm also getting diaper laundry done, updating the blog, and managing to put sustanence in my body every so often.

I also got out if the house twice this week! I went to a baby wearing group meeting on Wednesday, where I met a couple of really nice ladies who lent me some fabulous carriers that Lil' Schmoo hates. It's the position really. He wants to be in the cradle position pretty much all the time, and the wrap and mei tei I have on loan are based on a vertical position, which is currently totally unacceptable. So, he's been living in the ring sling, which is fine with me for now. I did also get to try a woven wrap at the meeting, which was totally drool-inducing for me. Perhaps when Lil' Schmoo gets older and bigger he might like those carriers better. Then I'll have to spend more money on such beautiful and comfy carriers. Or, I can stick with my Ergo, which really suits me just fine. I don't have an infant insert for it so that will have to wait a while. But then again there's that hating to be in the vertical position anyway thing, so just as well. I could so easily get addicted to baby carriers.

I had a really hard time with SchmoopyBoy in the ring sling when he was a newborn. I didn't really have the confidence to practice and figure out how to make it comfortable for him. I ended up not really using it until he developed head control and was able to use it like a pouch with him looking partially outwards. He never really wanted anything to do with facing my chest unless it was time to eat.

Using the carriers this time around is really an issue of practicality for me. I need to have my hands free to function and take care of of SchmoopyBoy and things around the house. Lil' Schmoo tends to wake of within minutes of my putting him down, so it I want any time to accomplish anything, I need to have him on my body in a safe, hands-free position.

I also went to a breastfeeding group meeting yesterday, which was a little disappointing because the lactation consultant wasn't there. So, I got a little feedback from a couple of mamas, but I'd have preferred a little professional advice. Breastfeeding is going pretty well in general, I just wanted to get a couple of tips because my right side has, once again, taken on the role of The Producer, and sometimes it's too much for my little guy. He sometimes comes off choking and gasping, which then of course triggers screaming, which is thankfully short-lived, but very sad nonetheless. They meet weekly, so I'll try to find out ahead of time if the lactation consultant will be there next week. It will be a good excuse to get out of the house again anyway.

I have to admit I'm still a little intimidated about taking trips to the store (any store) with Lil' Schmoo. And I haven't been anywhere outside of the house with both kids on my own yet. That will come soon though, I'm fairly sure. I'm at home on my own with both kids fairly regularly, as the husband takes class twice a week this semester.Things only got a little out of hand once, and thankfully the husband got home early that night so was able to take the baby while I gave SchmoopyBoy some much needed mommy-only time. I could talk about how SchmoopyBoy is adjusting, but I think that's a whole separate post, so I'll hold back for now. In general he is loving himself some baby, but the lack of mommy-only time is clearly taking a toll on him.

Well, that's the update for now. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More tidbits

First, a picture of the new poop factory:

I cropped this out of the birth announcement the husband emailed out, so it has a goofy little bow at the bottom that I couldn't crop out. There are more (and probably better) photos, but I can't access them right now on the husband's computer.

****************************

SchmoopyBoy is sick. Isn't that awesome timing? I have a 3 day old newborn, and a sick 3-year old who can't keep his hands off anything, and wanted little more last night but to sit in my lap with his hands on my mole and my belly - all evening long and into bedtime. Primal scream going on over here from that mess.

*******************

I had one goal for yesterday - take a shower. (First post partum shower, mind you.) I failed that goal.

Which is only scary because now I have 2 goals for today - take a shower and take LittleSchmoo to the pediatrician by myself this afternoon.

Can I handle 2 goals in one day yet? Ugh.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Checking in - He's here!

At 3:32am Sunday morning, we became a family of four. I'm currently experiencing the delirium of 3 nights with no or very little sleep so I'm going to make this short. I will likely check out for a while, but will share some reflections on this birth, which I did rock, if I may say so myself. Going into labor naturally and progressing completely on my own all the way to pushing him out was somewhat awe inspiring to me - I can finally see why and how women feel transformed after a natural childbirth. It was really quite empowering. I will confess that I was screaming for an epidural at one point, just before it was time to push. Of course by the time the guy arrived the baby's head was half way out.

Nursing is going well.My milk is already in! This kid is going to be a boobie-monster just like his brother.

Speaking of the big brother, SchmoopyBoy is loving him some baby. I can't believe how great he is responding to him. Here are some quotes:

"He's so small!"

"He has no teeth!"

"He is so soft!"

"I love him" (followed by kiss, yes I started to tear up at that point)

"You have a soft big round belly now!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Checking In - Still Pregnant

I'm still here. Yes, I'm still pregnant. Yes, I'm uncomfortable as all heck. No, I don't want him to come out yet. I need one more weekend. He can come out anytime after Tuesday. I'll be at 39 weeks starting Sunday so that sounds completely reasonable to me. Plus, that would be infinitely more convenient. ;-)

SchmoopyBoy start T-ball on Saturday and I really don't want him to miss the first day. Then he's got a birthday party on Sunday evening to which we've already RSVP'ed and I would hate flaking on something like a child's birthday party. Then on Monday we are going to be very short staffed in the office and Monday is a very busy day with reports on tight deadlines and meetings, and Tuesday evening the husband has an assignment to do for his class this semester. I know, I know, I'm sure everyone would understand if I was in labor at the time of the event in question. I just don't want anyone to miss anything.

I'm sure I'm being quite ridiculous, and I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sing-along, Brush-along Songs


Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play


This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


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SchmoopyBoy does not like getting his teeth brushed at bedtime (or any other time, really). Tooth brushing has been a struggle pretty much since we first started brushing his teeth. He is the king of holding his hand over his mouth with his lips tightly fused together. I’ve tried reasoning with him about the dangers of cavities. I’m pretty sure all he hears is “wah wah wah.” Have I been tempted to just pry his hand away and use my physical strength to overpower him and force my way into his mouth on a particularly tiring and frustrating day? I’d be lying if I denied it. Yet using my superior physical strength to impose my will over his body feels very wrong. I think it teaches him a dangerous and destructive lesson that using violence and physical force over a smaller, weaker person and forcing them to do what you want is ok. Not to mention how NOT conducive to a peaceful, relaxing bedtime it is to engage in a physical struggle with a screaming, flailing, 30 pound octopus of a three year old.

So how do I get him to willingly open his mouth? One major tool I don’t hesitate to bring out is music and song. I am all about making up alternative lyrics to popular (or not so popular) songs, and singing them in funny voices with lots of melodrama and silly vibrato. If you think this idea might work for you and your child, here are a couple ideas for a variety of musical preferences.

For the classic rock lover, sung to tune of Queen’s We are the Champions:

I’ve got a toothbrush, my schmoo-oooo
And I’ll keep on brushing every tooth
I’ve got a toothbrush, I’ve got a toothbrush,
No time for cavities, so I’ll keep on brushing…
‘till they’re clean!

For the pop music fan, sung to tune of Madonna’s Music, Hey Mr. DJ:

Hey Mr. Toothbrush
How are you today?
Come on and brush my teeth now.
‘Cause when the toothpaste’s on,
I never want to stop
You know it is so yummy.
Hey there! Mr. Toothbrush!
Brush my tee-eeth! Yeah!
Hey there! Mr. Toothbrush!
Brush my tee-eeth! Yeah!


For the Star Wars fan, sung to the tune of the Imperial March (aka Darth Vadar’s theme):

Brush brush brush
Brush your teeth, brush your teeth
Brush brush brush
Brush your teeth, brush your teeth
Brushie-brush, brush, brush, yeah
Brushie-brush, brush, brush.
Brush brush brush
Brush your teeth, brush your teeth

The lyrics of this are simple and boring enough that silly voices/faces and gratuitous over-the-top vibrato (think of an Ethel Merman caricature or Goofy from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) are a good mix for this choice.

Really, the possibilities are endless. Any tune I get stuck in my head is fair game for being turned into a tooth brushing song. If I can’t think of any appropriate lyrics on the fly, I just substitute the word “brush” or “toothbrush” or “brushie” for the usual “la la” or “doo doo doo” that most people hum to themselves.

The benefits of a playful approach to brushing teeth are numerous. First, the obvious – teeth are successfully and adequately cleaned. Second, the child is either smiling and giggling at the end, or at the very least isn’t having a melt-down and no one is hurt in the process. Third, on those rough “I’m so done you could stick a fork in me” days, you might even find yourself in a better head space – such is the power of play and laughter.

Happy brushing!


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!



Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:



  • On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.

  • Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.

  • Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.

  • Say Please — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by "play," showing that actions speak louder than words.

  • No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.

  • I'll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.

  • A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.

  • Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn't always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.

  • Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.

  • A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.

  • The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.

  • The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.

  • Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.

  • I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.

  • Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.

  • Playful Parenting = Extra Energy??Momma Jorje didn't think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…

  • Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.

  • Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son's well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.

  • Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.

  • Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.

  • Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Three-year old + nail polish = Halloween toes

This is what happens when I let my three-year old paint my toenails. The final product looks like something from a Halloween movie.


Lest you miss the fine details from my oh-so-stellar photo skills:


In case you are wondering, I did manage to remove all polish before I left the house.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Good analysis of a complicated issue

You may or may not have heard about the controversy surrounding a certain barf-inducing sexist shirt for girls on sale at a certain major retail store. I won't get into the details here, but rather refer you to the most articulate and well thought out commentary I have read about it by Liz at Mom-101.

It is useful to note that she approaches the issue from the perspective of a mother of girls. As a mother of boys, I will need to approach the topic of sexism with my children from a slightly different angle. I will confess I'm still sorting out in my head how I am going to do this.

My 3 year old son has remarked on the giant billboard on the freeway near our house which shows four scantily clad women with bare midrifs. The photo is cropped to just above their necks - the photo is literally a bunch of faceless bodies. He thinks it is hilariously silly that there's a giant picture of a bunch of tummies. He has also deduced, in true 3-year-old logic fashion, that since the tummies in question are clearly those of women, and clearly flat (versus his own mother's huge round pregnant tummy) that these "mommies" have already pushed out their babies and that is why their tummies are now flat.

I have no idea how to address this in an age appropriate way, other than to say that they may be mommies and they may not be mommies - I don't know because not all women are mommies. I have not touched the whole objectification of women's bodies issue, nor have I touched the idea what constitutes female attractiveness in our society and how that contributes to unhealthy body image and behavior.

I don't know when is the right time to start talking explicitly about these topics. I do believe it will be critically important for me to talk to my sons about it though, because teaching women to empower themselves is only half the equation. As one of Mom-101's commenter's put it, "You know who will help stop sexism? MEN. Men standing up and saying THIS IS BULLSHIT." I want my sons to be two of the men who recognize sexist BS when they see it and stand up and call it for what it is.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Random Tidbits

SchmoopyBoy is going through another growth spurt. I cannot believe the volume of food this kid is consuming. Seriously. I'm talking twice as much french toast for breakfast than I can eat, or three dinners in one night (separated by about 1/2 hour to 1 hour intervals). He's still a pretty thin kid, so where the heck is it all going? Furthermore, if he eats like this at the age of three, how the heck am I going to feed him when he's a teenager without going bankrupt?

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Wow, I am uncomfortable these days. Which is ironic to me only because of how very different this pregnancy is that my pregnancy with SchmoopyBoy. With SchmoopyBoy, I was so miserable the first half of the pregnancy, I remember thinking that I would prefer 40 weeks of the 3rd trimester over a single week of what I experienced during the first two trimesters. This time has been so easy and relatively comfortable that I'm kind of beside myself that I'm so uncomfortable now.

This baby is just so... rude! It's funny that I don't remember SchmoopyBoy being quite so rude about practicing boxing on my intestines nonstop for over an hour. Or just hanging out on my bladder, putting so much pressure on it, if there is more than a trickle inside the discomfort is so excruciating I cannot even stand up straight sometimes. Hopefully not an indicator of things to come once he's on the outside. ;-)

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At 36 weeks, my doctor is not going to do anything to stop labor once it starts, so I'm officially on baby watch. That being the case, I'm still not ready for him to come out quite yet. I need probably at least one more week at work to wrap things up (although I'm planning on working until the last day to save my leave for after he's born) and my house is definitely nowhere near ready. I have a to do list on my refrigerator, and it feels like for every item I cross off the list, 2 new items are added.

sigh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gratitude Post - 8/29/11

Inspired by Amanda at Lets Take the Metro, I am attempting to post 5 things for which I am grateful each week. Here are this week's top 5:

1. Visiting with out of town family – While in Phoenix for a business meeting last week, I got to meet up with my cousin, aunt and uncle for dinner. It was great to see them, as it can sometimes go over a year between visits.

2. Birthday ice cream cake – When I was a child, every year my parents would get an ice cream cake for my birthday party. This year, with the opening of a vegan-friendly ice cream store relatively nearby, the husband and I splurged on an ice cream cake for our birthdays (his birthday is one day after mine). My childhood tradition may need to turn into an adult tradition too. ;)

3. My 3-year old singing happy birthday to me – The highlight of my day, by far.

4. Yummy new vegan brunch spot – I love brunch. It’s probably my favorite meal. I have so been missing a good brunch spot, since it is so hard to find a place that is vegan-friendly for the husband. Fortunately, a new vegan bistro recently opened, and we tried it out on my birthday. It was a long wait to get our food since we got there in the middle of the Sunday rush, but so yummy we will absolutely be back, and now that we know when the busy time is we can avoid the rush time or order ahead.

5. Having a vegetable garden in my back yard – This is the first year we’ve tried to grow anything, and our summer harvest has been quite respectable. I absolutely love that I can just go outside and pick an onion or a stalk of basil whenever I need it when I’m preparing dinner.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Joyful Birth - Making Peace with my Soul


Welcome to the First Carnival of Birth Reflections

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Birth Reflections hosted by Patti at Jazzy Mama and Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing posts that reflect on how birth has transformed them into who they are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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This is the third post in a series I have written about healing from trauma and preparing for a joyful birth. In my first post, I published the original birth story I wrote in the weeks after SchoopyBoy's birth, and wrote that things had been left unsaid - things that caused me to feel guilt and shame. In my second post, I wrote about making peace with my body after developing pre-eclampsia and then having two consecutive miscarriages. In this final post on birth reflections, I want to talk about what I experienced during the birth, how it impacted bonding with my newborn, and how I am preparing for a more joyful birth experience this time.

Throughout my pregnancy with SchmoopyBoy, I felt that if I needed an emergency cesarean I could live with it because I trusted my care provider and believed it wouldn't be done unless truly necessary. The one thing I had wanted to avoid with all my heart was a chemical induction, which is exactly what I was facing due to my pre-eclampsia diagnosis. I checked into the hospital with dread. My (extraordinarily opinionated and manipulative) childbirth educators had virtually drilled into my head that an induced labor was nothing more than hours of tortuous pain followed by an inevitable cesarean. I strongly considered bypassing the several hours of tortuous pain and requesting we go straight to cesarean, since I figured that was the inevitable outcome anyway.

I actually tolerated the induced labor well – until the bag of waters burst. Wow, what a difference that made! As I wrote in my original birth story, I thought I was less than 4 cm dilated since the balloon inserted behind my cervix had never fallen out. I didn’t think I could handle the pain for an unknowable number of hours, so I requested an epidural at that point. It was during the preparation for the epidural that I found out that I was in transition, at 8cm. My childbirth educator had sat in front of a room full of expecting first time parents and told us that transition only lasts 15 minutes (not that it may only last 15 minutes for a lucky few, but that it does last approximately 15 minutes). I thought I could tolerate the pain for only 15 more minutes, declined the epidural, and set to work.

I was not one of the lucky few with a 15 minute transition. I lost track of time, my head and body reeling from what it was experiencing. At some point, after almost 2 hours had passed, I figured it had been more than 15 minutes and cried out "Why is it taking so long?!” When my doula answered, “It takes as long as it takes” I knew I had been lied to, and was livid.

After another hour of pushing, during which time the intense pitocin-fueled transition contractions never let up, the doctor became alarmed at the baby’s dropping heart rate every time I pushed, and so initiated an emergency vacuum extraction.

Let me make this entirely clear. No living creature should ever experience having a baby ripped out of her nether region without so much as an ibuprofen. Seriously. No one. The sensation is Un.Real.

Having several hours of painful contractions that rated 11 on a pain scale of 1 to 10, culminating in a vacuum extraction left me… in shock. Literally. They immediately placed my baby on my chest, but I could not move. I could not breathe. I felt only a weight on my chest and horror at what my body had just endured.

The only thought in my head was “It’s still not even over. I still need to birth the placenta. What pain still awaits me?”

I finally calmed down enough to realize that I ought to at least look at my newborn son. The only thing I could move were my eyes, which had been staring ahead, seeing nothing. My eyes turned down and I saw blood on my baby’s face. I knew it was my blood. I knew it meant that I had either torn or had an episiotomy, and that I would need stitches.

The thought that ran through my head was “Oh God, it’s still not over. I need stitches too. When will this torture be over? I just want this torture to end.”

Did I mention that my newborn baby son was on my chest this whole time, and all I could think of was “Good heavens please just let this torture end”?

Where was the overwhelming flood of maternal love? Where was the exquisite tenderness? The immediate bond of falling in love with my child the moment he exited my body?

I could not feel any of it. I was so traumatized and in shock over what I had physically experienced that I was unable to bond with my own baby.

What the heck was wrong with me? Here I had just become a mother, my first born child lying in my arms across my chest and all I could think about was my own physical pain? What kind of mother was I? And if my maternal instinct had failed at this most significant of moments, what kind of mother could I possibly hope to be? As far as I could tell, I had no maternal instinct. First my body had betrayed me by developing pre-eclampsia, and now my soul – that which made me ‘maternal’ failed me.

Postpartum depression followed in the weeks after SchmoopyBoy’s birth. I didn’t trust myself. I kept repeating “I have no maternal instinct. I don’t know what to do for this baby, how to respond to him, how to take care of him. I can’t do this.” I think I loved him, but I wasn’t in love with him. He was a great scary bundle of need, and it terrified and overwhelmed me.

The happy ending to this story is that of course, it did get better. It took somewhere around 8 weeks – about the time it took my body to heal – for me to realize one night as I was nursing him to sleep how truly, deeply, and tenderly I loved him. I started to feel more competent and trusting in myself as a parent.

Today, I can gaze upon his sweet sleeping form and feel so full, such deep and poignant love, that the feeling overflows from my body and spills out in tears.

But guilt remains. And shame remains. I couldn’t bond with my baby. I couldn’t love him the way I was supposed to. I was too self-centered, too focused on myself.

I don’t want another birth experience like this. I can’t stand the thought of going through that torture again. A torture so acute that I cannot bond with my baby.

That is why I freaked out when my doctor once again expressed concern about my blood pressure and put me on medication a couple of months ago. My brain buzzed and hummed No No No Not again. I cannot go through that again. Fear and dread overwhelmed me.

I am lucky to have a great doula team. One, an apprentice midwife, had a similar experience. Her first birth was a cesarean, her second was a pitocin-induced VBAC, and her third was a midwife assisted home birth. She tells me that, according to her experience, the worst of the natural contractions doesn’t come close to the most mild of the pitocin contractions. Her greatest fear is that I will be looking for those intense pitocin contractions, and won’t realize that I’m in labor until I’m in transition, and she and her partner will barely get to me just in time to catch a baby. Ha-ha, the unassisted home birth I never planned!

It was also my doula that suggested, as she reacted to my telling her of this birth experience, that I might be suffering from post traumatic stress as a result of a traumatic birth experience. It was she who emphasized the need for me to forgive myself, that trouble with bonding after a traumatic birth is not uncommon.

So here I am, preparing to birth my second child with joy. Learning to forgive myself – forgive my body for developing pre-eclampsia in the first place, and forgive my soul for reacting to physical trauma in a common and normal way. Writing and sharing my stories to find healing for myself and encourage healing in others. Practicing gratitude for all the joys in my life. Repeating positive affirmations – “I welcome my baby with happiness and joy” so the fear and dread have no room to breathe and are crushed out of existence among all the positive and joyful energy engulfing me.



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Carnival of Birth Reflections


 
Visit Jazzy Mama and TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Birth Reflections!

 
 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today's thought on work-life balance

As I write and post this, I am in Phoenix, Arizona. I am not on a family vacation, but on an overnight business trip. My second since SchmoopyBoy’s birth, and my second in just the past 4 months.

I have mixed thoughts on overnight work travel. On one hand, I used to do a lot of overnight business trips before SchmoopyBoy was born. I work in a field and for an organization where travel is pretty much necessary for certain projects and programs. The fact that I haven’t traveled in 3 years has meant that I don’t get assigned to a lot of the most interesting projects, and it has compromised the advancement of my career. Seeing as I am the primary income earner in my family, this could have real implications for my family’s future. Plus, (yes, let’s go there, shall we?) you don’t see many fathers compromising their future career growth once they have children in order to spend more time at home with their young children.

On the other hand, at this stage of his life, my child needs me. He needs me, Mommy. I started preparing him a few days before my departure. I told him about how he was going to have special daddy time and I wouldn’t be here for one night to put him to sleep. He was not happy. He is, now, not happy with me. Every time I have called since I departed he hasn’t wanted to talk to me. Not because he’s having so much fun that he can’t drag himself away (although when he was visiting and playing with cousins yesterday afternoon that was certainly a good portion of it). He hasn’t wanted to talk to me because he is upset with me for leaving him and he is giving me the cold shoulder. So, I will have quite a bit of reconnection to do when I get back into town.

What complicates things for me even more is my own ambivalence. This business trip, like my previous business trip in May, has been almost like a mini vacation. I’ve gone out to dinner with other adults and had adult conversations for 1-2 hours. I haven’t had to think about what my picky toddler will be willing to eat. I haven’t had to worry about entertaining a young child at the table with books or toys. I haven’t had to get up from the table, interrupting my conversation, to take him for a walk outside when he gets restless so he doesn’t disturb the other customers. I went back to the hotel last night and watched television – things I never watch anymore like CSI and a PBS documentary. I cannot tell a lie. I’ve been selfishly enjoying being away for a night.

But I’ve also missed my little SchmoopyBoy. Each time I call and he pouts that he doesn’t want to talk to me in his ‘upset voice’ it breaks my heart. It makes me want to run home as quickly as I can and pull him onto my lap and hold him tightly, smothering him with kisses so he knows that no one and nothing is more important to me than him.

Balance. It’s hard. It’s complicated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Overheard at the Grocery Store

I was on an unusual solo grocery shopping trip when I overheard a clearly exasperated woman in my isle berating her daughter (I would estimate the daughter was somewhere between 10 and 12, but I didn’t get a close look at her and I am a horrible judge of children’s ages). The tirade went something like this:

You really need to stop paying attention to what other people are doing and just pay attention to what you are doing. I’ve told you, the country isn’t run by A students, the country is run by C students, so just stop thinking about your grades and ignore them.


I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this, I think it is so interesting and wanted to think about all the different parts of her statements. The biggest question is, in my mind, Is what the mother said helpful? Since this conversation appears to be a common theme, I’m guessing the answer is Not so much, or the daughter may have resolved her upset and not feel the need to talk about it again. So let’s break down what the mother said and what the intention likely was behind it.

First, I understand that she was trying to tell her daughter to not compare herself and her academic performance to others, but just focus on doing what she could. I can appreciate that. Mel at Stirrup Queens recently posted an excellent article on objective success versus comparative success. The basic idea is that, a lot of the time we are objectively successful in an endeavor – in academics, in a career, in a relationship, really anything. But so often we compare ourselves to others who are more successful (or appear to be more successful) and we feel mediocre at best and like failures at worst. In the exchange I described above, it appears the daughter has clearly expressed some insecurity about her academic abilities in the past. She tends to compare herself against higher performing children and feels bad about herself. The mother was trying to invoke Mel’s idea of objective success versus comparative success in her first sentence. I think she could have worded it better, personally, and made the idea more clear.

The exchange took a rather surprising philosophical turn, I think. “The country isn’t run by A students, the country is run by C students.” Such an interesting thought - so counter to what we are constantly told, what we are conditioned to believe. C is an “average” grade, and most people are considered “average”, so if you mean to say that the majority rules and the majority is average, then that position makes sense. But is it true that the “average” rule the country? If you consider a certain previous president (cough, choke, Dubya, ehem) that certainly seems true. But is that the exception to the rule, or is that the general rule? Who really runs this country? Elite CEOs who graduated from prestigious ivy league universities and have the money and influence to shape policy? Hysterical ideologues that exert pressure on their representatives to behave like 3 year olds based on lack of information, lack of critical thinking, and dogma? Honestly, I think I could easily argue both positions. (I know there is an implicit assumption that ‘elite CEO’s who graduate from ivy league universities’ represent the A students and the ‘hysterical ideolologues who don’t think critically’ represent the C students. I acknowledge these representations are totally unfair, biased stereotypes and I apologize for not being well thought out enough to develop a better comparison.)

Lastly, the idea of a mother telling her child to ignore her grades is surprising, assuming the child attends a traditional public or private school. If the child were home schooled or unschooled I don’t believe grades would even be an issue of concern to the child, since grades are not the marker of achievement in a home school environment. Assuming the mother sends her daughter to a public or private school, where grades are the marker of achievement, and where they push the idea of better grades equals more success in life, what do you tell your child if you see that she is genuinely limited in academic ability, as measured in the public setting? How does a mother make her ‘average performing’ child feel adequate among higher performing peers? Should she try to build her up by tearing the higher performing child down, as this mother did by saying that A students don’t run the country, C students do? Or, perhaps, would a better idea be to focus on the child’s strengths and support and encourage the development of those strengths? I obviously know nothing about this girl. I don’t know if she plays a musical instrument or excels at ping pong or has an eye for designing creative landscapes. If academics is something that is really important to the child, and she seems to be struggling, perhaps talking about potential ways to get her additional help and academic support, through a tutor or additional time one-on-one with a teacher after school would be appropriate.

I tend to think that figuring out what is appropriate for the individual child takes more two way dialogue and active listening to the daughter’s true concerns. Perhaps the grocery store isn’t the best place for such a conversation, and perhaps the mother followed up later that day with more empathy and a willingness to listen and really hear what her daughter was trying to communicate. I hope for the sake of the daughter’s well being, and for the sake of the mother-daughter relationship, that was the case.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Preparing for Joyful Birth – Making Peace with my Body

Earlier this week I posted the original birth story I wrote in the weeks after SchoopyBoy's birth. In the post, I wrote that things had been left unsaid. Things that I now, more than ever, need to face if I am to prepare for a joyful birth this time. In this post, I want to talk about body image, and how my birth experience combined with two consecutive miscarriages left me feeling broken and disconnected from my body.

First, I want to talk about developing pre-eclampsia. I know every woman probably says this, but it really wasn't supposed to happen to me. I was diagnosed with hypertension in my first trimester. This was unexpected given my reasonably healthy lifestyle - lots of fresh and healthy foods, regular exercise, etc. My OB told me I would be lucky to make it to 36 weeks, and told me induction might be likely. I wanted a natural childbirth and I knew I needed to stay healthy if I were to achieve this goal, so I took proactive steps towards that goal. I got nutritional advice and made dietary changes, I took self-hypnosis classes, I went to pre-natal massage, I switched providers to someone who was more supportive of my natural childbirth goals. My risk of pre-eclampsia was about 25%, and I was determined to be in the 75% that does not develop it.

One could say my efforts paid off a bit. I did make it to week 39 before the lab results indicated that my health was indeed heading south. But I was disappointed. Angry. My body had failed me. It hadn’t merely denied me the natural birth I envisioned and hoped for. It threatened the proper function of my critical internal organs. It downright threatened my life, and in doing so my baby’s life.

At 39 weeks, SchmoopyBaby was fine. Better than fine. He was released from the hospital to go home before I was! (We did leave the hospital together just one extra day later.)

Given that both of us ended up fine and healthy, I could have moved on, and in fact did.

But then my next pregnancy, two years later, ended in miscarriage. And then so did my next pregnancy after that.

Now, being a feminist, I do in fact believe that I am more than my fertility. I am a complete and whole valid and worthy human being whether I have 8 children, 2 children, 1 child, or no children. That being said, I also identify spiritually with the feminine Creative Goddess, and desire a connection with what I refer to as the Light of Creation.

Given my body’s failings during my pregnancy with SchmoopyBoy and the fact that my next two pregnancies ended in miscarriage, it’s safe to say I’ve been not too pleased with my body’s performance as the feminine Creative Goddess, and felt decidedly unconnected with any Light of Creation.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how my blood pressure was showing signs of going too high again, so my doctor once again put me on medication. I totally freaked out. I was (am) terrified of reliving what I went through at SchmoopyBoy’s birth. I went into such a state of anxiety that ‘it was happening again’ my blood pressure spiked even more, I got a 3-day migraine, and my digestive system went into a spin. It took me checking into the hospital foe an afternoon and getting labs done – all which came back smashingly normal – to calm down.

This time will not be like last time. This time, the medication is controlling my blood pressure, and at a much lower dose. My blood pressure never got this low during my pregnancy with SchmoopyBoy. I am not swollen the way I was. At this point in my pregnancy with SchoopyBoy I was going to a perinatologist for monitoring twice a week. This time around, my doctor hasn’t even brought up the possibility of needing any kind of monitoring. Everything is on track for a healthy, low risk birth.

I’ve had a few unfortunate experiences along my journey to motherhood. These experiences have taught me a lot, and led me to a path of appreciation and gratitude. I have one wonderful, healthy, energetic, spirited child. I am approaching the end of a surprisingly easy pregnancy. My current physical discomfort this time around is not an indication of impending health crisis, but an indication of a growing, thriving, healthy baby. After all I have experienced, my body appears to be redeeming itself.

It is easy to make peace with my body when my body appears to be making an effort to make peace with me. But what if once again I developed pre-eclampsia in the final weeks and have to face another induction? Would I be able to maintain peace with my body? One of my many learnings is that there are some things in life I can control and some things I cannot control. I cannot control the way my body responds to being pregnant. I can control the food and pharmaceuticals I put in my body, in an effort to optimize the way my body responds to being pregnant. Accepting the limitations of my own power over my body is key to finding peace and acceptance with whatever turn my pregnancy may take (assuming, of course, that whatever turn it takes still results in a live, healthy baby and mama).

I have a lot more to write about my birth experience with SchmoopyBoy. My next post on this topic will delve more into the visceral experience of the birth itself and how it impacted bonding with my newborn as well as my headspace heading into this birth.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Birth Story and Things Left Unsaid

In the course of preparing for this upcoming birth, I have come to the realization that I have some lingering trauma from my first birth. Lingering trauma that I realize I need to work through before this baby is born. I’ve known this for a while, but the meeting I had with my doula team last month spurred me into taking a more proactive approach. I reread the birth story I wrote about SchmoopyBaby’s birth in the first few weeks postpartum, and what struck me was everything I did not put into it. This birth story is nothing but the basic facts – this happened, and then that happened. There is nothing about my actual visceral experience - nothing about what I felt, or how it affected my ability to bond with my new child.

During the past several months, I found that I had been approaching this upcoming birth with fear and dread, rather than excitement and joy. Quite frankly, I am terrified of having another experience like my first. I have decided to use my blog as a forum to explore my first birth and postpartum experience. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, like with my miscarriages, I find the act of writing and sharing these stories to be therapeutic. Second, I’ve been carrying some shame and guilt associated with my first birth experience. I know that I am not the only woman to experience these feelings, and if another woman reads my words and feels comforted that she is not alone, then I have accomplished something greater than even my own healing.

Today, I am posting the original birth story that I wrote less than a month after SchmoopyBaby’s birth. The only edits I have made are removing names, for privacy. Over the next week or two I will write a follow up post that delves more into my internal experience and what I am doing to overcome the negativity it left behind.

Without further ado, here is SchmoopyBoy's original birth story.

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Well, it wasn’t exactly the birth we had envisioned and planned for, but as the saying goes, life is what happens while we’re making other plans. As you know, I had been diagnosed as high-risk early in the pregnancy due to hypertension. On Friday, May 23, I went to the perinatologist for my regular monitoring appointment and my blood pressure was high. They ordered some blood work to be done “stat” and about 4-5 hours later, literally just as I was getting into bed for the night, we got a call from the on-call doctor. The lab results were in and they were not good. My liver enzymes were elevated, as were my uric acid levels. The diagnosis – pre-eclampsia. The doctor’s order – come to the hospital that night to start the induction.

Unfortunately, it being the start of the holiday weekend, my regular doctor was out of town and couldn’t be reached. So the husband and I finished some last minute preparations and by 12:30am I was admitted. The on-call doctor agreed to insert the balloon behind my cervix that night to help get dilation moving faster (I was already at about 1.5cm), with the pitocin to start around 8-9am.

At 8:30am, my doula arrived, and at about 9am the pitocin started. They started it slow, and the contractions were tolerable. At about 4pm my bag of waters burst, and then things changed *a lot*. The balloon had never fallen out, so I thought I still was less than 4 cm dilated. With so much ahead of me, there was no way I was going to be able to tolerate the pain and asked for an epidural. Before they would administer it, they removed the balloon and checked my progress. I was at 8 cm! No wonder the pain was so bad – I was in transition!

I thought I didn’t have much longer, maybe 15 minutes or a half hour, so I passed on the epidural. Wishful thinking on my part, thus started the most agonizing 3 hours I have ever experienced. The pitocin contractions never let up, even when it was time to push. I was surprised, but relieved to see my regular doctor come in during the pushing. Apparently he made it back into town and hearing the news that delivery was imminent, he came to the hospital. Yay!

They were having a hard time getting the baby’s heart rate on the external monitor, so we agreed to a variation of the internal monitor that sticks to the baby’s head rather than screws into it. His heart rate dropped extremely low (50 beats/min) at each push, and he was too far down for a c-section, so the doctor initiated an emergency vacuum extraction, which necessitated an episiotomy due to the swelling caused by the quick exit. The cord was wrapped once around SchmoopyBaby’s neck, but that wasn’t really the problem. SchmoopyBaby had the cord in his hand, squeezed in a little death grip.

In all I think the hospital staff tried as best they could to follow our birth plan, even with the complications.

Little SchmoopyBaby was fine, and has been doing very well ever since. He was 19 inches long and just 6 lbs, so he is a little guy. He is feeding like a champ though, so hopefully we’ll see him grow soon enough.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Picture Thursday - 33 weeks pregnant


The funny thing is that I think this picture makes me look small. I look a lot bigger in real life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gratitude Post - 08/08/11

Inspired by Amanda at Lets Take the Metro, I am attempting to post 5 things for which I am grateful each week. Here are this week's top 5:

1. Air conditioning – I totally stole this idea from Amanda, but so true. I live in the desert southwest, where temperatures well over 100 degrees F are the norm all summer, and where air conditioning is a way of life. I really feel for the people further east who are not accustomed to such temperatures and don’t have air conditioning.

2. Ice cream – Do I really need to explain this? In the middle of summer, what is better than a cold sweet treat after dinner? I don’t indulge very often, but I did over the weekend and had a very happy mouth and tummy.

3. Great co-workers – Last week my coworkers through me a little breakfast baby shower. It was very sweet. I’m lucky to have so many friendly, supportive co-workers.

4. Afternoon naps – Naps in my household are becoming an increasing rarity. When they do happen on a weekend and I can take advantage of the opportunity to get a little extra (much needed!) sleep myself, it is fantastic.

5. Spare pillow – Remembering how uncomfortable I was whenever trying to sleep while pregnant with SchmoopyBoy, I bought a big, firm, king sized pillow a few months back and have been using it to support my belly and legs when I sleep at night. I feel such a difference when I lay down without it for more than a few minutes. I’m thankful to be so privileged that I can splurge on such a thing that makes such a big difference in my comfort.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

3 Year Old Need - Not Less, Just Different

My 3-year old just graduated from the parent-toddler swimming class to the just plain toddler swimming class. Not because he can swim safely independently now - he can't quite yet - but because he no longer needs the security of a parent with him in the water. This last Tuesday was his first day trying out the new class. He loved it. He mouthed through the glass behind which parents sit and wait, "I'm swimming by myself!" He didn't want to leave when the class was over. He wanted more fun swimming in the pool with his new teacher.

It is somewhat bittersweet for me. I love seeing him grow more independent. He is so proud that he can do things by himself now, and I delight in his new and growing repertoire of accomplishments. At the same time... my baby doesn't need me anymore! sniff.

But then when we finally left and he dashed along the sidewalk towards the car, he tripped and went sliding face down, scraping his knees and elbows, and giving himself a round red bump on his forehead. He spent the next 10 minutes curled up in my lap crying, his hand up my shirt holding the mole on my side (his go-to-comfort place on my body since he weaned) and drinking a sippy of milk.

So maybe he still does need me for something.

It's not just the physical hurts that require 'mama love'. Bad dreams, hurt feelings at playschool, his upset if he wakes up late after I have left for work in the morning - such experiences all expose his need for physical and emotional connection with me.

It is one of my unexpected observations of parenting - that my child's need for me does not, in fact, grow less as he grows older and more physically independent. I had assumed that it would, but SchmoopyBoy's need for me still appears so great. While it is not less per se, it is qualitatively different. Whereas he needed me to do more for him in the past, he now seems to need me to be emotionally available for him more than ever. I have spoken with other mothers of toddlers and older children who have confirmed this experience with their own children.

Learning to parent at each new stage of development continues to surprise and challenge me. My every expectation gets turned upside down on its head. My independently swimming, self-dressing big boy who demands privacy when using the bathroom is still in many ways my schmoopybaby.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bentos - Fun with cookie cutters

It's been a while since I've posted any bentos, and I've been trying to up my cute-factor ever so slightly with the help of cookie cutters. These two look very similar since they both include cheese and watermelon, and use the same bento box. In reality they were done several weeks apart. Although I used the cookie cutters on the bread and cheese in both bentos shown here, I've also used them on other types of sandwiches at lunchtime and on toast or french toast for breakfast.

First up, we have the star bento:
This one has a tier of watermelon and grapes, and another tier with 3 layers of star-shaped toast and muenster cheese, baby carrots, and a small slice of homemade banana bread. I realized much later in the day I should have omitted the banana bread because it had walnuts in it and SchmoopyBoy's school is supposed to be nut-free. Whoops, totally forgot about the walnuts. I'm so glad no one was hurt.

I used the smallest start cookie cutter from a set I bought with 4 different sizes. This size is sufficient to cut 3 stars from a single slice of bread and a single slice of cheese. It also fits perfectly in my 2-tier bento box.

Second, we have the car bento:
This one has the first tier filled with just watermelon. (SchmoopyBoy takes after his mama - loves him some watermelon!). The second tier has sliced cucumber and some corn sliced off the cob, as well as a two layers of toast and muenster cheese in the shape of a car. My car cookie cutter is the right size to cut 2 cars from a single slice of bread and a single slice of cheese.

The car cookie cutter came in a set of transportation themed cutters that also included a train and an airplane. I took SchmoopyBoy with me to pick the set. I was sure he'd go for the animal shapes, but he's quite happy with the transportation set. The train and airplane don't fit in the bento box shown, and they are sufficiently big that I can only get one cutout per slice of bread/cheese. The train in particular is plenty popular.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How I got my kid to eat kale

Kale Chips!

I don't know what took me so long to try these. I've heard about kale chips for quite some time. They sounded intriguing and easy to make. Just do an internet search for kale chips and you'll find oodles of recipes. Here's what I did:

Baked Kale Chips

1 small bunch of kale
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Optional - Line a cookie sheet with foil for easier clean-up. Wash the kale. Cut or tear the kale off the thick stems in "chip-size" pieces and arrange on the cookie sheet. Dribble the olive oil over the kale and toss to coat. Generously sprinkle sea salt over the kale. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

All the recipes I found said to bake until the edges of the kale were brown. I first tried 10 minutes and it looked like they weren't done yet. So I put them in for another 5 minutes and a lot of the kale along the sides of the sheet were burnt. I'm thinking about 12 minutes would have been about right. I recommend checking every couple of minutes after 10 to make sure they are cooked to your satisfaction but not completely brown.

Here's a picture of my chips cooling. You can see the ones on the edges are completely brown and overcooked. The brown ones aren't bad, but the greener ones are definitely better.


How they were received by my 3-year old
SchmoopyBoy is going through a period where he's pretty much been avoiding all cooked vegetables except corn on the cob. Most of the time pretty much the only veggies he will eat are plain raw carrots, cucumber and occasionally peas. As much as I'm all in favor of him eating fresh raw vegetables, there's not a lot of variety in the mix. I keep putting whatever veggies I've cooked on his plate, just to eat them myself when he is done with his meal. I do know that he likes to snack on chips on occasion when we have them. So when out of the blue I offered him chips, he was all excited. That is, until he looked at his plate and saw green crinkly things. His face was very skeptical. I think I did a pretty good job of selling them, if I do say so myself. "Look! They're green! We get to eat green chips today! Isn't that fun?" All it took was one bite and they were declared "Mmm, yummy!" with a bright smile.

This one is a keeper.