6 Months

{ Wednesday, December 30, 2009 }
I can't believe we're parents of a six month old; where has the time gone? Someone said to me recently that the days are long and the hours are short and I couldn't agree more. While I've been busy with the minutiae of diapers, feedings, naps and baths, the bean has been growing up! Six months is an incredibly meaningful milestone to me, for an important reason and for no reason at all. The reason is similar to the one that had me letting out a sigh of relief when I passed the 25 week gestation mark of my pregnancy. I knew that there was never a time when I would be guaranteed that everything would go well, but passing that viability mark made me breathe a bit easier. When the bean was a newborn, I drew a similar line at 6 months. The risk of SIDS drops off significantly after 6 months, so this half-year birthday is a huge milestone in my mind because of that. I also say that there's no reason because I'm very aware that there are many other things to worry about and I'm just beginning to understand that I will be filled with worry over this little one for the rest of my life. Still, it feels good to pass this milestone and check this worry off my list.

At six months, the bean is sitting like a pro! No more wobbling and she rarely topples over--usually its just when she's tired or over-reaching for something. She is not able to pull herself up to sitting, but she lifts her head, kicks her feet and tries so hard to that it may not be long now.

The bean is also not crawling, but she's starting to experiment with pulling herself up on her hands and knees. She lifts up into that position and then looks around as though she's trying to decide what to do next, then flops back down on her belly. She is definitely getting better at rolling and has added a breakdancing-like belly spin to her repertoire which has really helped her accurately get where she wants to go. Because of this, she is into everything!

Once she learned how to roll, she wouldn't tolerate being put on her back and would put herself on her belly any chance she got. Once her sitting got better, she would complain when we didn't help her to sit and lately its the same with standing. She wants to be helped up in a standing position all the time. If we try to put her down on her back, she'll push down her feet and stand. If we succeed with getting her feet out from under her, she'll use her incredibly strong stomach muscles to try to stay sitting. Because of this, every diaper or clothing change is a wrestling match. Even if she agrees to lie back for a moment, she quickly starts to roll over, usually as soon as the diaper is off. I've gotten really good at fastening diapers and putting on pants from behind.

The bean's manual dexterity is really improving. She is able to pass objects from one hand to another and is just starting to master her pincher grasp. Of course, pulling mama's (that would be my) hair and removing mommy's (the boy's) glasses have given her lots of practice.

At six months, the bean's hair is really coming in. She was so bald for so long that we thought it might be more than a year before she had any hair, but she has more and more hair every day. Literally. Some days we notice a difference overnight.

The bean has slowed down her babbling a bit, but has added "b" to her vocabulary and says "baba," which always makes me laugh. Baba is what we call a bottle and, given how she feels about them, I don't think she'd be asking for one if she knew what she was saying!

Sleep is a topic I have planned for a future post, but I have to say that, when I read that most babies sleep through the night by six months, I never dreamed we'd be up as much as we are. She is such a happy and easygoing baby that I know we are lucky, despite our sleeplessness. I try to remind myself of that when I'm tired and frustrated.

And finally, Itsy Bitsy Spider is still a favorite and still calms her right down. I can't wait until she's older to ask her what exactly it is she loves about this song!

Christmas Recap

{ Monday, December 28, 2009 }
Our first christmas with the bean was amazing and maybe a bit overwhelming. We opened presents on christmas eve with the bean's 6 cousins, 5 of whom are under the age of 6, and it was a completely different experience looking after the bean with so many other children running around. So many kids plus presents meant there were many new and interesting (and dangerous!) things on the floor for her to get in her mouth. Not to mention that the bean and I usually spend our days alone in a fairly quiet house. She didn't know what to make of all the noise and excitement and, as a result, didn't sleep much at all for two days. Santa didn't grant my wish and end the teething, but we kept a big supply of teethers on hand during our travels and, despite teething pain, chaos, and sleepiness, she was in pretty good spirits.

And her moms had so much fun! The bean was much more into the present thing than we expected, helping to rip some of the paper and playing with each new toy as we opened it. We loved playing with her toys almost as much as she did and she was given so much stuff that we've put half of it away to pull out little by little over the next couple months. We were so grateful for the things the bean was given, but at the same time we're struggling with worrying about not going overboard on presents, especially when she's older, in order to give some meaning to christmas other than just getting stuff.

For our part, we really tried to choose quality toys that the bean would play with for a long time. We don't have a very large house, and this has helped us to really think about each purchase. We consider the safety--we prefer toys made of wood or fabric, we feel that these are safer, although you really have to take the manufacturer's word on the safety of wood finishes; we think about how much use the bean is likely to get out of it--blocks, stacking cups, toy foods, and dolls are play staples throughout most of childhood, in my opinion; and finally, there's an aesthetic component--large, brightly colored plastic toys that play music or make a lot of noise just don't do it for us. As I'm typing this right in front of our big plastic exersaucer, I feel the need to say that there are definite exceptions. We originally had a "no plastic" rule, but found it very difficult to follow so now we just try to limit it. Two brands that we love and that meet our requirements are Melissa & Doug and Plan Toys. These are the brands we directed our family to when they asked us what to get.

The bean was given some really great things, including this little rocking horse that she loves:

But by far, her favorite present right now is this pull toy, which we thought she wouldn't use for a few more months. As you can see, the flag is her favorite part.

The boy and I like the idea of all the presents "arriving" under the tree on christmas morning, so we stayed up on christmas eve putting the presents out. Obviously, this was more for us than for her, since she had already seen all her presents (and helped us wrap them), but its a nice tradition that we wanted to get in the habit of practicing. We opened presents christmas morning just the three of us.

Ha, I just realized how huge the bean's feet look in this picture. She has room to grow in those PJs!

The boy is really the toy expert around our house and started early (was it September?) working on the bean's christmas list. We wanted to get her a big present, but there really weren't any "big" things that are age appropriate, so the boy had the great idea of getting the table and chairs set. We hope she'll get lots of use out of it in the next couple years.

Soon, little one, you'll sit at it without Mama's help!

And we had yet another celebration to attend late in the day on christmas. I love this picture of the three of us because the bean's expression says it all--she was done and ready for christmas to be over.

This time of year, especially, I miss my family on the West coast, but I have to admit that there was a little part of me that was glad that we didn't have 4 christmases to attend.

Merry Christmas

{ Friday, December 25, 2009 }
Today, as always, I am so thankful for my little family, who are the greatest gifts I could ever hope for and I am wishing for love and joy in your lives as well, now and in the new year.

Merry christmas from krafty, the boy and the bean!

Close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades

{ Thursday, December 24, 2009 }
I so very badly wanted the bean to have a handmade stocking for this year so I could say that it had always been hers, starting with her first christmas. I knew it was an ambitious undertaking, considering how little free time I have this year and the fact that I didn't start until the week before thanksgiving, so I'm not surprised that I wasn't able to finish. Its hard to admit defeat, but I think I'm going to have to call this one. Even if I were to stay up all night stitching, it still needs to be sewn into a stocking. Next year, my little bean.

Too much of a good thing

{ Wednesday, December 23, 2009 }
The boy and I are sugar addicts. We generally try to eat very healthfully, but when it comes to dessert, forget about it. Early in our relationship, we bonded over the fact that we both believe ice cream should not be reserved for warm weather eating. I had to fast the day leading up to my surgery last year. I confidently announced that, when I broke the fast after almost two days, I would no longer be eating processed sugar. I lasted two days before I gave in. We like our sweets.

It should come as no surprise, then, that one of our favorite christmas traditions includes loads and loads of cookies. Every year, I start in early December making batches of cookies to give away. They fill our freezer and we can't help but sample them. I make extras to account for the ones we eat, but there is always the worry that there won't be enough to give away. I never know until the containers are filled whether I'll be making emergency batches on christmas eve to make up for our December gluttony. I might also add that by the time the cookies leave the house, we are happy to see them gone. We've been eating them for weeks and are sick of them.

Today I packed up the cookies and there were enough to go around, with some to spare. We've enjoyed them all, pronouncing each new batch our favorites as we taste tested them and I think they look so pretty packed up in their little tins. Still, I have to say, good riddance!! I can't wait to get these things out of our house!

All I want for christmas is her two front teeth

{ Sunday, December 20, 2009 }
Its been months since we first started talking about teething in our house. When the bean started drooling and chewing on everything at around three months, we felt in her mouth for little bumps, but there were no signs of anything coming through. We sort of shrugged it off as first-time parents getting overly excited for some new development.

A few weeks ago, the bean started having the occasional meltdown and would only be comforted by a teether, her chewing of which reached a new level of intensity. A few times she grabbed my hand, shoved my finger in her mouth and chewed so hard it hurt. Still, we saw no sign of any elusive teeth.

The last few days, however, have been really rough. The bean's sleep, while always pretty bad, has reached a new level of crappiness. She's been a colossal grump and has started grunting to express her unhappiness. I've been saying all week that I wish these stupid teeth would just COME IN already and bring our happy baby back.

So, I've read that the bottom teeth come in first and that's what we've been feeling for. There is still absolutely no sign of any bottom teeth coming, but today we looked at the top and I'm sure you already know the end of this story. There are two big bumps right there, almost ready to break through.

I hope Santa brings her teeth and a sunny disposition to go with them!

Babyproofing, whatever that means

{ Friday, December 18, 2009 }
The bean was several months old before I first heard the term "free-range kid," but it definitely resonated with me. I think this means different things to different people, but for us it means that we try to encourage the bean to explore her surroundings while limiting her time spent in "containers." We naively assumed we could survive without any of these until two weeks with a screaming baby had us begging for a hand-me-down bouncy seat. Today, the bean sits in a bouncy seat while I shower (unless I can get her to nap in her crib while I sneak off for one) and she'll sometimes sit in her exersaucer while I cook dinner. Otherwise, she is playing on the floor or being worn in a carrier. I have no idea what life is like with a crawling or toddling child, so our plan may change as she does, but for now, this is what works for us.

The bean is also becoming more and more mobile by the day. She's not showing any interest in trying crawl just yet, but she's discovered that she can get anywhere she needs to go by rolling there and is getting better (and faster!) at it by the day. The combination of these two things is what's causing my trouble. I'm having a hard time striking a balance between letting the bean explore and keeping her . . . well, safe.

I know that sounds silly because of course I have no internal debate about whether or not to keep her safe. But, for instance, the bean is enamored with our christmas tree. She likes to look at the lights and glittering ornaments, but what she really loves is to roll over to it and grab the lights and feel the branches on her fingers. I know she would love to get these things in her mouth and she often ends up with a handful of pine needles, which I have so far been successful in stealing away before she can eat. As I type this she is playing with some plastic packaging material, which of course is a euphemism for plastic bag. Yes, I am letting my baby play with a plastic bag, even though there is a warning label printed right on it. When she brings it close to her mouth, I move it away and tell her "bags are not for eating," but she loves the sound it makes when she crinkles it with her hands and I don't have the heart to take it away from her.

I know I'm supposed to be distracting her and replacing forbidden items with other, more appropriate, ones but do any babies really fall for this? The bean is fairly single-minded and isn't content with a familiar toy when there are so many new objects to explore. The boy and I both want her to explore all these things but a line must be drawn at some point. Of course acutely hazardous objects are off limits (hot and pointy things come to mind), but do we put away all breakables, hide the electronics, and lock up any PVC/BPA/phthalate containing object she might want to mouth?

How do you deal with this? I'd love to hear general philosophies or specific tips or even a reality check about how much more difficult this will get with a toddler. (And if you have no idea, you're welcome to comment just to say hi!)

But at least I haven't licked my finger and cleaned her face

{ Thursday, December 17, 2009 }

Things I have done in the last 5 months that I never imagined myself doing:

  • Picked another person's nose
  • Chosen to sleep in pajamas covered with someone else's vomit rather than stay up to do laundry
  • Used my shirt to wipe someone else's face
  • Routinely gone more than a day without a shower
  • Left the house without fixing my hair
  • Forgotten to brush my teeth
  • Had to cut short errands because my clothes had become covered in someone else's poop
  • Slept less than 4 hours at a time, except for a handful of nights
  • Spent almost every moment with someone without getting the slightest bit sick of her!

Hi-Ho Hi-Ho

{ Tuesday, December 08, 2009 }
Since before the bean was born, we've struggled with the question of whether or not I'd go back to work. The boy and I considered several different possibilities that would allow us to keep our bean out of daycare, but finally decided that the only thing that would work for us would be for me to stay home, or work part-time. We were still weighing the pros and cons when the bean arrived and I admit that I did a little Scarlett O'Hara every time the topic came up--I put the decision off for another day.

As my maternity leave came to an end, I finally got up the nerve to talk to my boss and we arranged for my job to be outsourced back to me on a part-time basis. I had fully expected that this would not be an option and that I would end up resigning outright, so I was pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless that I would be going back to work. I consider myself very fortunate to have this opportunity and to have had as long of a maternity leave as I did, but I think it must be hard to go back to work whether you're home for 6 weeks or 6 years. I've been dreading the day that I'd go back, even though I love the work that I do and I'm looking forward to earning a paycheck again.

The dread has been compounded by the question of childcare. We had planned to hire a nanny to come to our house to care for the bean. Our nanny story goes like this: after screening applicants for schedule conflicts and moral objections to our same-sex status, we scheduled interviews. After no shows and last minute cancellations, we interviewed two women. We chose one to come back while we were both home to care for the bean for a few hours. It didn't work out. Just a tip to potential nannies--when a mother of the child you are caring for says, "Oh my god, she's choking!" The best course of action would be to immediately stop whatever you are doing that is choking the child. Continuing on until the child vomits while the mothers try to wrestle the baby from your arms will get you a, "Thanks for your time, sorry it didn't work out."

Thankfully, the boy's mother has volunteered to help out for the next couple weeks. After that, the boy will have some leave from work and will be on bean duty. And then, she'll go to daycare. Before the bean was born, we had picked a daycare that we love and they still have an opening, thankfully.

My first day of work was yesterday. The boy tells me the first few hours went smoothly, until the bean decided she wouldn't settle for substitutes and wanted to nurse to sleep. Mother-in-law and the boy were able to finally get her to nap for a bit (after some serious crying) and I came home to a very sleepy, but otherwise happy, bean. Me? I cried in the car to and from work.

Five Months

{ Tuesday, December 01, 2009 }
At five months, the bean:

  • Is really starting to babble more. 'M' is her favorite consonant and she loves to say, "mmmm." "mom", "ma," and "mama."
  • Is able to sit independently for a couple minutes at a time before she topples over.
  • Is much more interested in what we have in our hands than in any of her toys.
  • Loves to pet the cat, even though she doesn't yet know the difference between petting and hair pulling.
  • STILL loves Itsy, Bitsy Spider. If she's crying and I can't get to her right away, I can sing this song and almost always get a smile. Other songs just won't do.
  • May or may not be teething, but is definitely enjoying gnawing on all her teethers.
  • Enjoys putting her left foot in her mouth.


{ Friday, November 27, 2009 }
This year, as always, I am so thankful to have the boy in my life. I am so very fortunate to be able to spend my life with someone so loving, understanding and supportive.

I'm thankful that, when one of the relatives we planned to spend the weekend with came down with the flu, it was a mild case. I'm thankful that, when we decided to change our plans at the last minute so as to not expose the bean to said flu, family friends were willing to let us crash their thanksgiving dinner.

Most of all, I am so very thankful to have a happy and healthy little bean. Every day I am struck with what a huge responsibility we have to care for and educate this little person. I am so thankful for the opportunity and I promise to do the absolute best job I can.

Frantic Napping

{ Tuesday, November 17, 2009 }
Its the "oh my goodness, she's asleep in her crib, how quickly can I blog/clean the house/get dressed/get dinner prepped/get some rest" franticness.

So here's my blog post. Off to quickly (and quietly) clean the house!

How to Get a Baby to NOT Sleep

{ Friday, November 13, 2009 }
There have been several moments during the bean's short life where I've wished, for her sake, that we knew a little bit better what we were doing. I've never felt this as strongly as I do today.

Several weeks ago, shortly after transitioning her into her crib, the bean started waking up hourly during the night. We tried several things to extend her sleep, including angling her crib mattress in case she was having reflux that was waking her (propping up the head of the mattress is supposed to minimize reflux and also reduce the occurence of ear infections). Shortly after that, the bean began waking the moment we put her down in her crib--she would not sleep there for any length of time. At first it was just her nighttime sleep, but then she began refusing her crib for naps during the day as well. We began cosleeping fulltime at night and either cosleeping or holding her for naps during the day, because it was the only way any of us could get any rest.

There are definite advantages to cosleeping and we really love doing it, but the biggest disadvantage is that you must be in the bed when the baby is. At least, that's what it means for us, since we're too nervous to leave the bean alone for fear she'll wake up and roll her way onto the wood floor. This has left me stranded in the bed at 9pm on several occasions, waiting for the boy to come relieve me so I could brush my teeth and get ready for bed. The situation was getting frustrating for me because I could put the bean down on our bed without waking her, but the moment she was in her crib she was wide awake. I'm embarrassed to admit that this went on for weeks before it occured to me that the angled mattress may be causing the problem. We flattened out the mattress and guess who's sleeping in her crib for the longest nap she's had in weeks?

Seriously, we're fairly intelligent people, but there's a steep learning curve to this baby stuff!


{ Wednesday, November 11, 2009 }
Yesterday, our family had a court date. The boy's second parent adoption of the bean was finalized.

The judge was the same man who performed our marriage ceremony and who presided over my name change and it was nice to see everyone at the court and show off the bean. Afterwards, we went out for a celebratory lunch but it didn't feel like there was much to celebrate.

We are fortunate enough to live in a state that recognizes gay marriage, which means that we have both been listed as parents on the bean's birth certificate since her birth. The second parent adoption is more of a formality, meant to protect us in less gay-friendly areas. We know we are very fortunate to have these options available to us to protect our family.

And yet, we have so far to go. In order to obtain the adoption, we were required to submit to a home study by the state. A social worker visited our home in order to determine whether we were suitable parents and our bean was appointed her own lawyer who was asked to determine whether it was in the bean's best interest to remain with her family of origin. The whole process was demoralizing, maddeningly slow, and felt unnecessary. As the boy said, "I just adopted my own daughter."

I spent the day feeling sad that we had to do this, happy that we were able to do it, and sad again that not every gay couple has this option.

But the bean did get to help swing the gavel. That was fun!

Happy Halloween!

{ Saturday, October 31, 2009 }
Last year, I took christmas off. I was exhausted from my pregnancy and still battling with morning sickness and the idea of pulling all of the decorations out of storage and trying to set up a tree was too much for me. I asked the boy if it would be too terribly disappointing if we just skipped it. The boy agreed but added, "This is the last year you'll get away with that!"

Very true. Now that we have a child, we agree that there is no more skipping holidays, which is why its funny that halloween was almost here before I looked at the boy one day and said, "We have to take the bean to the pumpkin patch!" Some of my favorite fall memories include taking a hayride out to the pumpkin patch where I searched and searched for the most perfect pumpkin to bring home. I wanted to start that tradition for the bean as well.

So we went. And took a hayride. She picked the perfect pumpkin.

And decorated it up.

Dressed as a chicken.

And didn't miss out on celebrating her first holiday.*

*I think we get a pass for the 4th of July. She was 4 days old, we took a picture. Good enough!

Four Months Old

{ Friday, October 30, 2009 }
Its gone by so quickly. At four months, the bean:
  • Rolls both ways
  • Tries very hard to sit but ends up flopping face first to the side
  • Crab walks to the side when you change her diaper
  • Loves any toy that she can bat at and spin, especially the wheel on her exersaucer
  • Still stops crying and smiles when we sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to her

Now She's Dangerous

{ Thursday, October 15, 2009 }
The bean has been rolling tummy to back for about a month now, but today she rolled back to tummy for the first time (and she did it over and over and over again). That means no more leaving her in the middle of our bed or turning our backs for a second when she's on the couch. Which means crawling (and some serious babyproofing) is just around the corner!


{ Friday, October 09, 2009 }
I meant to post these pictures as we took them but didn't get to it, so how about a side-by-side comparison instead?

THIS Is What I Thought It Would Be Like

{ Wednesday, September 30, 2009 }
I've had a post written for some time describing our experience at the hospital after having the bean, but I never published it because it seemed like just a bunch of complaining. Suffice it to say that we were very anxious to get away from the hospital and get home after our two day stay. I was under strict orders from our midwife to go home and do nothing but care for the bean for the next two weeks. The boy had taken that time off from work and we were looking forward to getting to know the newest member of our family. I had expected that the three of us would crawl into bed and stay in our pajamas. I'd feed the bean, the three of us would nap, the boy and I would take turns changing diapers and we'd squeeze in some gazing into each other's eyes here and there. The reality? Well, all I remember is the screaming. I fed the bean all. the. time. and when I wasn't feeding her, she was crying. I couldn't feed her lying down and I couldn't sit up in the bed thanks to my broken tailbone. I took the bean out of the bedroom to feed her and the boy ran around trying to take care of our animals, bring me food and water, and attempt to calm a screaming baby when I finally unlatched her to go to the bathroom or close my eyes for 10 minutes at 3am. It was not the peaceful time I had imagined it to be. The boy assures me (and there's photographic evidence to confirm) that the bean did, in fact, spend some time sleeping and interacting with us during that time. Looking at those pictures is like looking at my belly pictures the day before I delivered--I refuse to believe I was ever that big. And I refuse to believe that the bean ever stopped crying those first two weeks.

At my two week checkup, my midwife advised me that life with a new baby gets significantly easier after the first two weeks, after six weeks, and again after three months. Some of you even told me things would get easier at three months and its not that I didn't believe it, not exactly. I just didn't want to get my hopes up. Well, I'm here to say that you were right. I can't believe how far we've come from those first two weeks. We're napping consistently during the day and . . . dare I say it? We have something that looks almost like a schedule. NOW we can lay in bed and coo and giggle at each other, take a long nap and the bean will actually eat a meal and stop for some time before eating some more.

Shortly after the bean was born, I mourned that the days of the boy and I curling up on the couch on a Saturday afternoon to watch a movie were gone forever. Well, last Saturday the bean took a long nap and the boy and I did just that. It was heaven. I love, love, love spending time with the bean and "talking" to her and making her laugh, but those long days when she wouldn't close her eyes for more than a few minutes at a time were really, really tiring. We are all in such better spirits when she gets a little rest during the day.

I can't say whether this change is because the bean is older and decided to nap better or if its because we are getting better at taking care of her, but I suspect its a little of each. Every time we realize something new (oh look, when her eyes get glassy, that means she's tired!) I feel so badly for our little bean that she's had to suffer with such amateur parenting. We don't even need to mention how long after her birth it was before one of us said, "Do you think we should check if her diaper is dirty?" OK, I admit it, it was not me that said that. Were it up to me, the poor thing would have gone much longer without a clean diaper. I was a bit preoccupied with trying to figure out where the truck went that ran me over and oh yeah, working out everything that goes along with having another human being attached to my breast nonstop. But I digress. We're getting more comfortable with this whole parenting thing and she seems to be forgiving us our mistakes and adjusting right along with us.

I know its a cliche, but its truly amazing how quickly this time passes. When I look at the pictures from the bean's first few days and think about how different she is now, its amazing. I'm trying so hard to remember how quickly this time goes and to savor every moment. Before we know it, we'll be wondering where this first year went (and laughing at how inept we were)!

Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

{ Sunday, September 27, 2009 }
Its been quite an adjustment getting used to my post-pregnancy body. I expected that it would take some time to get back into my jeans, but I hadn't planned on 'the girls' partaking in the steroids that my butt and hips obviously abused the last several months. The first couple weeks postpartum, in my sleep deprived, hormone crazed state, I would look in the mirror and proclaim that nothing had stayed where I had left it.

Every couple weeks, I've been optimistically pulling out pre-pregnancy clothes to try on and see how they're fitting. The weather has been getting cooler lately, so today I pulled out a warmer shirt that I haven't worn since last fall and the results were, um, unpleasant. I said to the boy, "Why doesn't this shirt fit me? It fit fine before I got pregnant!"

The response? "Yes honey, but you were flat-chested then."

Happy Beanday!

{ Thursday, September 24, 2009 }
One year ago today and unbeknownst to us at the time, I became pregnant. It would be two more weeks before we found out, but the little bean was already starting to become the big bean I'm holding right now. Happy conception-versary, little one!

The Unexpected

{ Wednesday, September 16, 2009 }
We knew from the beginning that we could plan all we wanted, but there would be no way to predict how things would go with a new baby. Still, I've been surprised by the things that haven't gone according to plan.

Diapers. We just used the disposables provided at the hospital for those first couple days and switched to cloth once we got home. Then the bean got a horrible case of diaper rash that caused her so much pain that she was wailing inconsolably. The bean cried quite a bit those first couple weeks, but it was always for food and she was easily quieted at my breast. With the rash, she was in too much pain to eat and we were heartbroken that we could do little to comfort her. We tried several different things, but the only way we could find to get rid of the rash and keep it away was to switch to pampers. We tried some more earth-friendly (and less chemical-laden) brands, but they too brought on the rash. You can imagine that's difficult for this tree-hugging mama to swallow, but the bean's in charge. Now that her sensitive skin has started to toughen up a bit, we are very slowly starting to reintroduce the cloth by using one or two a day, but we may never be the full-time cloth diapering family I thought we'd be.

Sleeping. Before the bean was born, I posted about my concerns over our sleeping arrangements. I wasn't exactly sure where everyone would start out sleeping, but I had always thought that I would bring the bean into bed with us at some point during the night to nurse her and we would all sleep together for at least a couple hours. As it turns out, the logistics of that were really too difficult for me. Nursing in bed is not as easy as I thought it might be and I turned out to be way too paranoid to sleep with the bean in the bed. We did try out the snuggle nest for two nights before it was returned. You still have to pick up your baby to get him or her into the thing and the bean always woke up when I picked her up those first few weeks. I figured if I was going to risk waking her, I might as well put her in the bassinet. Yes, the ancient bassinet is where she ended up sleeping her first two months. The boy had the brilliant idea to remove all the lacy coverings, which allowed us a clear view into it from our bed so we could easily check in the night that she was still breathing (c'mon, I know all you parents have done it too). This setup has worked really well, but the bean is growing so quickly that she's within a couple inches of not being able to sleep in it with her legs straight out. She's been able to stretch and simultaneously bump all four sides with various body parts for a few weeks, so this past weekend we moved the crib into our bedroom. (We're still not ready to give up on being able to check her breathing in the middle of the night.) We now have a crib at the foot of our bed and we sleep with our heads at the foot so we can check her more easily. We have co-slept a handful of times and for sure the bean sleeps great in bed with us, but I am still paranoid about the whole thing and sleep better myself when she's in her own bed. Had we known, I guess we could have put the crib in our room from the beginning.

Baby Stuff. This was the biggest surprise. I was adamant that we not have big piles of plastic baby accoutrement around our house. That and my aversion to anything single-purpose led us to make very thoughtful, well researched purchases. We got a pack and play that came with an activity mat in tasteful, subdued colors. Travel, downstairs naps, and play--three uses! We chose a similarly subdued rocker. No bouncy seat, no swing; we thought we'd hold her or have her in a baby carrier most of the day anyway. Turns out the bean's aesthetic and mine are very different. She didn't much care for subdued and hated being in a carrier. (And not once has she been able to stay asleep when we put her in the pack and play.) Fortunately, we have some experienced friends and relatives that answered our calls for help when we couldn't manage to keep this baby entertained for more than 30 seconds at a time. We now have a living room full of brightly colored (some plastic) baby gear. She loves her hand-me-down activity mat and bouncy seat so much that I feel bad I almost deprived her of them. Lesson learned. We will continue to make thoughtful, earth-friendly purchases, but our living room decor will no longer factor into the decision.

On a different note, I was completely unprepared for how being a parent would change me. When the boy and I first got together, we spent every moment of our time getting to know one another. We stayed up all night having deep, intimate conversations and, after sleeping an hour or two, would pick up the next morning right where we left off. We would lock ourselves in the bedroom all weekend, emerging only to eat or walk the dog. We missed a lot of work in those days because nothing seemed as important as spending time together.

Being a mama to the bean is like that. Its mostly one-sided, but it has a similar intensity. I've spent every day and night with her for 2 1/2 months now--watching her learn new skills and discover new things, studying her in an attempt to predict when she'll be hungry, tired, or wanting to play. Its been such a short period of time, but its hard to remember what things were like before she arrived. I didn't think that I spent very much time thinking about myself before but, in comparison, it seems like that's all I did. Now, everything is for the bean. My needs are squished in around the edges. The poor boy is somehow piled in on top of that. In a way, I feel that its a juggling act, but in other ways its really not. The bean needs us to do absolutely everything for her, so she wins out each time. In such a short period of time, this little being has become my universe and its amazing to me how natural it feels.

The boy and the bean. My two favorite people.

Late Night Confusion

{ Sunday, September 13, 2009 }
Last night, as I was climbing into bed at 5am, the boy woke and asked me, "What are you doing up?"

I took a long pause, trying to decide how to respond. "Did you forget we have a baby?"

"Oh, yeah."

Silly boy!

Beanie Baby

{ Saturday, September 12, 2009 }
I'm two handed typing for the first time since the bean was born - yay!

Thank you so much for the comments on my last post. We're having so much fun with the little bean and I know that the hard parts are very temporary, but it can get overwhelming and it helps to be reminded of how quickly things can change. Two months is such a tiny period of time in all of our lives and even in that time, things have gotten dramatically easier (we now sleep at night, even if we're not sleeping through the night).

I was in kind of a dark place a few weeks ago and feeling rather sorry for myself until something remarkable happened. We had a decent night of sleep and I woke up feeling like a new person. I realized that things are much more difficult when I'm sleep deprived (duh!). While there's not much I can do about the sleep situation, I decided to try to eliminate the other stressors in my life so that the sleep issue is the only thing I'm dealing with. I made an appointment with a lactation consultant to work on the breastfeeding issues we've been having and started seeing a chiropractor to try to get some relief for my poor, broken tailbone. Its amazing how much difference these two things have made. I think my milk supply is mostly regulated and we're working hard on correcting the bean's latch. Its going to be a long, slow road with my tailbone, but I've already seen some improvement and I think I'm not far from a day when the pain is dull and in the background rather than sharp and searing every time I stand up.

On the sleep front, I haven't been able to get any naps since I'm exclusively breastfeeding and the bean absolutely refuses our attempts to feed her from a bottle. I'm feeding her every 90 minutes during the day and every 2-3 hours at night. On the weekends, when the boy is home, I tried sneaking in a nap between feedings but that didn't work out so well. What has worked is when the boy gets up with the bean in the morning. For some reason she'll go a couple hours without eating while I sleep in. I was amazed the first time we did this, honestly, because you'd assume the bean is waking up because she's hungry. Nope, she's just done sleeping after 7-8 hours. I keep reading things that say babies this age sleep 10-12 hours at night--not true for this bean! Anyway, I slept in every day over the long weekend, which was heaven and I feel so much better. We can't do it every day, but hopefully the extra rest on the weekends will be enough to get me through the week.

But onto the bean. She is still growing like crazy and, at two months, is as big as a four month old. She "talks" all the time and is starting to reach for toys and hold them when we put them in her hands. She recently discovered that she has feet and tried desperately to grab them, but couldn't quite reach. She also realized we have pets and is particularly fascinated with the cat. She's not rolling completely over yet, but we often wake up to find that she's rolled onto her side and is sleeping in her bassinet that way.

Oh, and she likes having her picture taken!

Long time coming

{ Wednesday, August 12, 2009 }
I've started writing this post several different times over the last couple weeks. First it was about my 6 week checkup (this pain in my tailbone ranges from excrutiating to intense but tolerable, otherwise I'm healing nicely), but that's been 2 weeks ago now. I wanted to write about how the bean screams when we put her in her carseat but, with the encouragement of our midwife, we've been taking her on frequent, short trips and she seems to be getting better about riding in the car. I wanted to write about my frustrations with breastfeeding, but the whole story seems too long to type out with one hand, which is the only way I'm able to use the computer these days. Simply put, I have oversupply, overactive letdown, and hindmilk/foremilk imbalance. The bean has adjusted her latch to accommodate all this milk shooting down her throat, which is making it hard for her to eat now that I've tried to lower my supply. I would have never guessed that breastfeeding would be the hardest part of all of this, but it really is.

We're still struggling with naps (she doesn't really take them), so I'm barely keeping my head above water when it comes to running the house while the boy is at work. We've been doing our best to trade off between bean care and housework when we're both home and I'm trying to come to terms with not having a clean house or home-cooked meal every night, but that's hard too.

The bean is beautiful and so much fun--she smiles and laughs and "talks" to us. She's a generally happy baby and rarely cries for no reason and we are so truly blessed. But right now this job is really, really hard.

Photos and Weeds

{ Tuesday, July 28, 2009 }
The other day I managed to do my hair for the first time since the bean was born, we were both bathed and dressed at the same time, and all the red splotches on my face had healed, so we took the first pictures of the bean and I together.

Also, the bean was at the doctor's the other day and our suspicions were confirmed--our little girl is growing like crazy and is now 11 lbs! As challenging as breastfeeding has been, one problem we don't have to worry about is supply. Our pediatrician looked at me like she was seeing me for the first time and said, "You have a lot of milk!" What's the appropriate response, 'thank you?'

Three Weeks

{ Thursday, July 23, 2009 }
I've heard a lot of new parents say that the first couple weeks were harder than they expected, so I imagined the worst it could possibly be and amplified that and set my expectations there. Still, its so much harder than I expected!!

We really turned a corner after the first two weeks, but during that time the bean wouldn't sleep. I don't mean that she wouldn't sleep through the night or that she was up a lot, I mean I sat down to nurse her at 10pm and we were still at it at 4am. She was taking 1-2 hour naps a couple times a day and that was it. I was a zombie and the poor boy tried to help, but the bean was only interested in one thing, if you know what I mean. She ate all. the. time. and no matter how much I'd feed her, she'd still act hungry.

Thankfully we have milk now! (Actually, tons of it. The bean was not gonna mess around with undersupply--she made sure that milk came in, but good.) And now that she's eating better, she's starting to sleep better. At the beginning of her third week, she started sleeping 2-3 hour stretches a couple times a night and now, the last few days, she's doing the same during the day. Yesterday, I literally did not know what to do with myself. The bean slept, so I slept. When I woke up, she was still sleeping. For the first time in three weeks I didn't have a fussy baby in my arms wanting a new diaper or to eat or to be held or to just be entertained in some way. It actually felt . . . strange. I wandered around the house trying to decide which project to tackle first. Don't get me wrong, I'm still not showering daily and I don't usually manage to get out of my pajamas (or brush my teeth regularly), but its getting easier and I can again imagine a day when I'll be able to take care of both the bean's and my basic needs and maybe even get a little housework done.

But we can't dwell on the negative because our little girl is so perfect and amazing and I really don't think I'm biased when I say that (ha!). She is growing like crazy and is already starting to look different than she did when she was first born and we're already mourning that our little baby is gone (little, of course, being relative).

The boy had to go back to work last week, which was so incredibly difficult for all of us, but we're trying to manage. I was fortunate to have had help from the grandmas for all but two days and thank goodness because we wouldn't all be fed and wearing clean clothes otherwise. (Well, the bean is always fed, but the rest of us might not have been.) Next week I'm on my own full time, but hopefully it will be easier since I've been able to ease into it.

I believe we may be coming to the end of this nap, so I'll leave you with some more pictures of our little angel.

Birthing the Bean

{ Sunday, July 19, 2009 }
Monday morning we had our last midwife appointment. We had spent the weekend trying all the induction techniques we could think of (other than castor oil), but we just couldn't get anything started. The midwife checked me (3cm), swept my membranes (for the second time) and scheduled me for an induction on Wednesday. We talked about the castor oil and she said if I was going to take it, I should do it that day. I was nervous to take the stuff, so we decided to wait until Tuesday morning to try it since I had been nauseous all day and didn't want to make myself more sick.

I woke up just after midnight on Tuesday morning to go to the bathroom and by the time I got back in bed, I had my first painful contraction and then another one 5 minutes later. I timed contractions for 20 minutes, then woke up the boy to say, "I think I'm in labor, but you should go back to sleep." I drank some water and paced around downstairs to see if the contractions would keep coming. When it seemed like this was the real thing, I tried going back to bed, but it was too uncomfortable to lay down. I decided to labor in the living room trying a bunch of different things to get comfortable--labor ball, hands and knees, standing, etc. I was really tired and wanted to conserve energy, so I ended up spending most of the time propped up on the couch so I could rest between contractions but still be sitting up when they hit. The boy kept checking on me throughout the night to see how I was doing. I was nauseous and finally around 7 am, I threw up like I never have in my life. I can't even explain how violently I wretched except to say that when I looked in the mirror afterwards I burst into tears. Hundreds of blood vessels had broken in my face and I was literally covered with large red blotches. It was terrifying. By that point, I was done with laboring at home. My contractions were between 3-4 minutes apart and only 45 seconds long (we would have preferred them to be closer to a minute long), but I just wanted to go to the hospital. The boy called one of our midwives who offered to check me at their office.

The trip to the office was torture--I made the boy pull over every time a contraction hit because I couldn't handle the bumps while contracting. We finally made it to the midwive's office and learned I was 4-5 cms dilated. We were given the choice to head to the hospital, go back home, or walk around at the office for a bit. I just wanted to go to the hospital and get settled so I didn't have to move around anymore, so we went in. I had several contractions while walking into the hospital and had to keep stopping and leaning on something until it passed. A bunch of people offered us a wheelchair or asked if we needed help, but it was a point of pride for me to walk into labor and delivery myself (I can't tell you why this was, but its how I felt). We finally got there and got to our room, but had to wait a while to get checked in (and we were waiting for the midwife who would attend our birth to arrive). I wasn't sure what to do with myself, but ended up sitting cross legged on the floor and stayed that way during check in and the initial 20 minute fetal monitoring.

Finally, our midwife arrived, I was taken off the monitors and given the OK to get in the whirlpool. While I was in the tub, they gave me some IV fluids, since I had been vomiting. The tub really helped with the pain of contractions, but also worked to slow them down. At some point while I was in the tub, our doula arrived and shortly after I got the shivers. I had heard that shaking was normal after delivery, but didn't realize it would happen during labor as well. I was so glad the doula was there to reassure us about that because it was a little disconcerting to be shaking while in a warm bathtub! I was in the tub for over an hour and then had to get out again to spend some more time on the fetal monitors. Our nurse was great, but was insistent that I be flat on my back during the monitoring, which was the worst possible position for the pain. While I was in the position anyway, the midwife checked me and I was still at 5 cm. If sweetie and I had learned anything during all our classes and reading, it was that we shouldn't invest any energy it what those numbers were. It was drilled into us over and over that labor can stall at any dilation and can also progress quickly. I had decided to just ignore the numbers and focus on getting through the contractions. Still, I had been in labor for almost 12 hours and it had been almost 4 since I was first checked at 4-5 cms. The midwife suggested she break my water to try to get things moving. I always thought I would resist having my water broken because, once its done, you have a limited amount of time to deliver before they begin pushing for a c-section. I quickly agreed, though, because I realized that I would be worn out and unable to continue if I hadn't delivered in another 12 hours.

After my water was broken, contractions became more intense almost immediately. The midwife recommended I try taking a shower, but I couldn't get the water hot enough or the water pressure high enough to do much to alleviate the pain I was feeling in my back, so I got back in the tub. While laboring in the tub the second time, I became nauseous again and started really having a hard time handling contractions. This was the first time that I turned to the boy and said I couldn't do it anymore. Rather than making it through each contraction one at a time, it became about making it through a third of the contraction. They would start out OK and I would do a good job of relaxing through it, but at the height of each one my body would involuntarily tense in a way that felt like wretching. After the peak, I would regain control and be able to relax again. I told our doula that I thought I was pushing. I really wasn't sure because it wasn't as though I was making a choice to push and tensing my muscles--my body was just taking over and doing it without any help from me. The doula reassured me that I would feel like pushing when I felt more pressure down low, so I figured I was wrong about what was happening. After an hour or more in the tub, it was time to get out again and be hooked back up to the monitors and have my midwife check me. I was at 8 cms. My back pain became overwhelming, along with the nausea. I threw up again and remember being embarrassed at having done it in front of everyone, particularly the boy who was right next to me, but I quickly forgot about that. From that point on, I kept my eyes closed and turned completely inward. I was aware of what was going on around me, but I didn't feel a part of it at all. Looking back now, I know that I was in transition but at the time, I couldn't think about progressing. I could only focus on what was happening at that very second. It wasn't about having a baby, it was about surviving each new contraction. After this point, I also started saying no to everything anyone told me to do. The midwife told me the baby was trying to turn her head to make her way down and that I should get out of bed and on my feet, but I couldn't face the idea of moving. It wasn't until I overheard the midwife tell our nurse that I needed to get out of bed "if we have any hope of making this work" that I agreed to move (out of fear of a c-section).

Since my eyes were closed, everything that happened at this point just happened--voices came and went in my ears, pillows appeared, hands were on my back, but I wasn't always sure who was doing what. I was set up leaning over a counter and was told to pace around the room between contractions. I was really vocalizing with every contraction and tried to moan like I was being told to do, but ended up mostly yelling "oww" and "it hurts so much." Of course, there was also a lot of "no" and "I can't do this" thrown in anytime anyone told me to do anything. This was absolutely the worst point, as I labored through those last 2 cms. The contractions were so intense that I needed to lean over the counter for the first and last third of them and then stood up straight and pushed 2 or 3 times at the height of each. Someone told me not to push, but then I heard our midwife saying that I should go ahead and do whatever my body was telling me to do. I had no choice in the matter--there was no way I could not push. The boy was helping me walk around between contractions and when I felt another one coming, I would rush back to the counter so I could lean. Remember also that my water was broken and I was leaking fluid with each contraction. That is such a sanitized way of describing what was happening--the reality was much more gruesome than it sounds and I was again horrified by it.

While we were walking around, I had to open my eyes, of course, and I saw that everyone was rushing around getting things ready. The baby warmer was brought out and supplies were being piled up. I didn't understand why they were doing this--I still didn't believe the baby was coming any time soon. The midwife mercifully asked me to get back in the bed and checked me again. I was fully dilated and ready to push. Rather than being excited by this news, I complained. I didn't want to push, I really didn't want to do anything but tell everyone that I couldn't do this anymore. My legs were lifted for me and I'm pretty sure someone had to lift my hands and force me to hold my legs up. I began pushing because I was being told to. The midwife had me sort of roll over--I pushed for a few contractions on my back, some my side, in a squatting position, and then the other side. At one point, I believe the baby's heart rate declined because the nurse asked me to not push for one contraction and, as much as I didn't want to push, it was worse to not push. I complained about that too. After that one contraction, we were back to pushing and the midwife asked me what position I wanted to continue in. I could have squatted, which was what I had planned, but I was just too tired and too scared of more pain to move, so I continued pushing on my back. This may sound strange, but I was still in my own world and not thinking about the baby at all. The doula kept telling me the baby was coming and I'd think to myself, "No, she's not!" I guess part of it was that I was just trying to get through what was happening to me and part of it was that I didn't want to get my hopes up in case I ended up with a very long labor. So, when the midwife started talking about the color of the baby's hair, I told myself that the head can move down with each push and then move back up between contractions. A few minutes later, the midwife asked if I wanted to feel her head crowning. I felt her little head there, but for some reason it didn't register that she was crowning. I was waiting to feel the "ring of fire" that I'd heard about and I didn't think she could really be crowning if I hadn't felt it. A few minutes later, I felt incredible pressure and almost a bulging feeling and I thought maybe that had been her starting to crown. The midwife asked me to open my eyes and I really didn't want to (I may have even said no), but thankfully I did. I opened my eyes and that was a moment I will never forget. I had birthed the bean's head and shoulders and there was this baby right there, just looking around at everyone. I was so in my own world I had almost forgotten we were having a baby, but seeing her there brought me right back to reality and I couldn't remember a time when I wasn't thinking about her. I looked up and saw the boy, who was also watching the bean. There was so much emotion on both our faces. I later learned that the boy had caught her as she came out. The midwife then told me to reach down and pick her up, which I did and she came right onto my belly and just layed there and looked around. Unfortunately, they had to take her away immediately because there had been some meconium when my water was broken. They checked her out for a few minutes, which felt like an eternity, then she was back on my chest. I wasn't quite done whining, though, so I told the midwife at that point that I didn't want to birth the placenta--I was done! It ended up being no big deal and it was a lot less pressure without everyone yelling at me to push. During that time, we were told to keep the bean crying for a while until she pinked up, but once her color was good she latched on and ate for over an hour. In fact, she stayed up nursing most of that first night.

Everything turned out exactly the way we wanted, despite our concerns about being in the hospital. The only little thing I wish I had done differently is that I wish I had forced myself to suck it up and push in a squatting position. My tailbone was broken during delivery, which made getting in and out of bed extremely painful those first couple days and sitting to nurse for hours is torture. I wonder if it would have been different had I not pushed on my back. Still, its hard to complain. We ended up with the most beautiful little girl and were able to avoid the induction and have a natural birth.

Happy one week!

{ Wednesday, July 08, 2009 }
Yesterday was the bean's one week birthday. Its hard to believe that its been a whole week already--it feels like one long sleepless day. Yesterday we called in reinforcements (aka Grandma) to help us figure out how to get this bean to sleep. So far, so good. I know the poor kid was exhausted and needed some rest but her amateur parents couldn't figure out how to get her to close her eyes and stop fighting sleep. We also can't figure out how to have distinct nursing sessions throughout the day, rather than one continuous 24 hour feeding, but one step at a time. (If I hear the term "human pacifier" one more time, I may become ill. Yes, I am pacifier. Right now, I believe that is my job. I think she'll be weaned before college.)

I'm desperately trying to find the time to finish her birth story, but how about I share some beany goodness in the meantime?
My last belly picture at 41 1/2 weeks. Already, I can't remember being that big.
Rare, closed eye sighting.

Rockin' the sweater mama made.

Introducing The Bean

{ Friday, July 03, 2009 }

Born on June 30th
9 lbs 4 oz

Can it be?

{ Tuesday, June 30, 2009 }
A full 13 days past our due date and one day before our scheduled induction, it looks like my body knows how to go into labor after all. We hope to be holding our little bean later today. Please keep us in your thoughts until then!

The longest 10 days of my life

{ Saturday, June 27, 2009 }
The longer she makes us wait, the more I knit,

and sew,

Very baby pocket diapers, microfiber inserts, and hemp fleece wipes.

and bake.

Ginger-spiced scones with cashews and dates from Vegan Planet and chewy oatmeal-raisin cookies from Veganomicon.


{ Friday, June 19, 2009 }
Dear Bean,

Well, the date that we've been thinking about, repeating to one another, and preparing for these past several months has come and gone with little fanfare. It seems that you are healthy and comfortable right where you are and that's where you plan to stay, for now. Sad as it is, this temporary arrangement we have going on is coming to an end. (It seems you may not have gotten the memo--your current living situation was always meant to be temporary. We have made other, more roomy arrangements for you that we think you'll like just as well.)

I understand how stressful moving can be (and I fear that this first move of yours is going to be stressful and painful for all of us), but it can't be avoided. Your parents are ready for you. Your grandparents won't stop calling to ask about you. The neighbors have even started asking where you are. The two of us together are just too big.

Its time.

We can't wait to meet you,

39 Weeks

{ Wednesday, June 10, 2009 }
I just got back from my 39 week midwife appointment. It would seem all the contractions I've been having have actually been doing something--I went from just a fingertip dilated last week to a full 1 cm, 50-60% effaced and the bean is at a -2 station. (She needs to move from -4 to 0 and then on to +4, which is at the exit, so she's started heading in the right direction!) I'm fully expecting a long wait, but having a little progress is so reassuring!

I asked our midwife to estimate how big the bean might end up being and she told me 8 - 8 1/2 pounds. Some may think me crazy for rejoicing at this news, but considering I myself was a 10 pounder, 8 pounds doesn't bother me at all. I know the estimate could be off, but I needed to hear at this point that they think she's going to be at least a tad smaller than I was, whether it ends up being the case or not.

So, the plan for next week is to have a non-stress test on my due date. If, for some reason, the bean isn't doing well they'll send me right off for an induction, otherwise I'll be offered an induction for the following week (which I'll decline). Then we'll have more waiting, I'm sure.

We're still keeping ourselves busy with cleaning and working on house projects until the bean decides to show her face. For some reason, I'm procrastinating on finishing up my diaper sewing and putting those last couple items into the hospital bag. I did, however, convince the boy that we should set up the pack and play in the living room, just in case that's what was keeping the bean. Doesn't seem to have had much of an effect, though.

We realized as we were starting to pack our hospital bags that we as yet didn't have a baby book. I hadn't really given this much thought, as I expected we'd pick something up at one of the baby stores. I knew that we'd end up with something that mentioned mommy and daddy, but figured it'd only be one page and we could work around it. Unfortunately, when we started looking at the books, most had mommy and daddy references on every page. That clearly won't work for us, so we explored our options with internet retailers and found this.

This book advertises itself for single, adoptive, and same-sex parents and has removable pages, so it can be customized for most any situation. There is even a page for information about the sperm (or egg) donor, which we thought would be nice for the bean to have. Its not quite as flashy as some of the other books we've looked at; in fact, we both thought we could have made sometime similar ourselves but we also knew it would be a project we'd think about and possibly never finish before the bean arrived.

Still, it will definitely serve our purposes and thank goodness there won't be a lot of daddy mommy references!

38 Weeks

{ Wednesday, June 03, 2009 }
I've been saying this for a while, but I just can't believe how far along we are in this pregnancy. 38 weeks! While I feel completely and utterly ready for this pregnancy to be at its end, I'm also shocked at how quickly the time has passed.

Truthfully, I've been really uncomfortable lately and, though I'm trying to stay positive, I was pretty down today. Luckily, our incredible midwife completely cheered me up at my checkup by joking with me that the baby won't come before I'm completely miserable and reassuring me that just as many women have their babies in the two weeks before their due dates as have them in the two weeks after. I asked her to check me and then lie about what she found and, while I'm typically prissy about talking about such things as the condition of my cervix, I'll share what she told me. The bean is low, although not yet engaged, and I'm a fingertip dilated. Now I have no idea whether she was just complying with my request or actually telling me the truth, but it doesn't matter one bit. I can pin all my hopes onto a fingertip's worth of dilation and that should get me through another week. Hopefully by then there'll be a bit more progress and that can get me through until our due date (at which point I may cry hysterically and beg the bean to please come out, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it).

Anyway, lets all distract ourselves with some crafty goodness, eh?

First of all, I am more-than-a-little-bit proud to announce that the blanket I have been knitting this entire pregnancy is now complete.

This should give you an idea of the size (it turned out quite a bit bigger than I had planned, but the boy and I both agree that the larger size is better, after all).

And the border. This is the Prairie Blanket by Oat Couture knit with some super soft alpaca yarn we picked up at Rhinebeck last year.

Next up is the Helena sweater

and a Cable Cap

both of which were also knit from some yarn we picked up at Rhinebeck, but I seem to have lost the ball band. I'm fairly certain it was superwash wool, but now I might be too scared to wash it in the washer. I guess we'll see how it wears before I decide.

And finally, a Tri-peak hat.

And I may still owe her a pair of booties, but that's probably enough wool for a baby who'll be born in the summer, don't you think?

I'm still working on all those knit toys I promised to make and, of course, there's always diaper sewing to keep me busy until she finally decides to make an appearance.

37 Weeks

{ Monday, June 01, 2009 }
Some time ago, I posted about my worries over the baby's position. She spent a few weeks flipping around and experimenting with being breach, but thankfully she's proven to be very open to my suggestion that she get her head down and start preparing for her exit. She's been head down at the last several checkups, thank goodness!

I also learned at my last checkup that my group B strep test was negative--another relief! No antibiotics for me during labor, thank you very much.

The only small bit of bad news is that the midwives think the bean might be posterior. This means that, while her head is down, she is facing my belly and we'd much prefer she be looking backward. I've been assigned some exercises to do to try to encourage her to turn around, since posterior means painful back labor and let's not forget that I'm trying to do this thing without an epidural. I hope she's open to some more friendly suggestions about her position!

Finally, I keep saying over and over that the bean can come whenever she wants, but we only just got a carseat for her this weekend. The carseat is very important if you plan to actually take the baby home from the hospital. We were lucky enough to inherit a gently used seat from a toddler we know and we spent the weekend cleaning it up and reading through the manual. I'll be taking it to the fire department this week to have it installed and then we're ready. After that, you can come whenever you want, bean, this time I mean it.

Early on in my pregnancy, my mother informed me that she believed all babies come early because all of her spontaneous births were early (there are four of us, my youngest sibling was a planned c-section). I'm positive of this information because I've been clinging hopefully to it for the last two weeks. Yesterday, I decided to confirm with her that my oldest sibling was, in fact, born early as well, since that's the only birth relevant to my situation. Mom has changed her story--she insists I'm confused and it was she herself who was born early, the three of us were all two weeks late. *sigh* I'm hoping her memory has faded and we weren't all THAT late. (For me, I'll take due date or just a day or two after, please!)

Finally, I had contractions all weekend with varying degrees of discomfort, none anything I would describe as painful. I know it doesn't mean that the bean is coming anytime soon, but its still comforting to think that something is going on.

Sleep Considerations

{ Saturday, May 30, 2009 }
I've spent a good deal of time over the last couple months thinking about how we're all going to sleep after this bean arrives. I know it seems strange, since I've been told that new parents don't typically do a lot of sleeping, but still.

When I first got pregnant, there was no doubt in my mind that we'd cosleep. We planned to use a cosleeper, but the more I researched them, the more nervous I got. They aren't safety rated and there have been recalls on some models that posed strangulation hazards. OK, I thought, we'll put the baby in the bed with us. Where should she sleep? Between me and the edge of the bed and we run the risk of her rolling onto the (wood) floor. So I thought we'd get a bed rail which, aside from making it impossible to get in and out of the bed, are not recommended for use with infants. There is something like this which would stop the baby from rolling onto the floor, but isn't it also a suffocation hazard?

OK, how about putting the baby between the two of us? In that case, we run the risk of one of us rolling on top of her. (If you spend any time googling cosleeping, you'll hear so many horrific stories of parents rolling on top of and suffocating their babies, which is the biggest argument against cosleeping that I've found). I've read that this arrangement is not recommended because (apparently) the mother is very aware of the baby, but the father typically has no idea what (or who) he's sleeping on. I'm not sure how this applies to a two mom family, but I'm assuming the boy is the oblivious father in our case.

In all the research I've done, I've read over and over that cosleeping can be safe if the parents do it in a safe manner. However, when I try to find out what this "safe manner" is, all I can find is that you shouldn't smoke or do drugs (including alcohol) before you sleep with your baby and you should remove pillows and blankets from the bed. And how do we keep the little bean in the bed, preferably without an adult body on top of her? I have no clue.

For a while, we thought we'd leave the baby in the bassinet portion of a pack 'n play next to the bed, which seemed like a nice compromise. But then I got nervous because we spent so much time furnishing the bean's room with all wood furniture and we plan to buy an organic mattress with wool used as a fire retardant to minimize any toxic fumes she might be exposed to while sleeping. Then we're going to put her in a big plastic box to sleep for the first couple months? It didn't make sense to me.

Enter a further complication:

This bassinet has been in the boy's family for generations. It has, apparently, been passed around from household to household as each new baby has arrived. The boy's father slept in it, the boy and the boy's brothers slept in it and, most recently, a niece and nephew have both been in it, one of whom is currently under a year old. Its certainly not safety rated. I'm praying that its been repainted at least once since the days of lead paint. Oh yeah, its an odd size, so there were no organic mattresses to be had that would fit. Yet, there it is sitting in our house waiting for the arrival of the little bean. We're not even sure if she'll stay in it, at least at night, because I'm not sure we've completely given up on the idea of having her in the bed. (I'm still attached to the idea of sleeping, or at least lying down, while nursing in the middle of the night.) We're just not sure exactly how its going to work, which might be appropriate since we're not sure how any of this baby stuff is going to work--we're just going to have to wing it.

Another milestone

{ Wednesday, May 27, 2009 }
Today, the little bean is full-term. I've been saying for the past week that she can come whenever she wants, but its only actually true starting today (I was rounding up). I think we're ready. I KNOW I'm ready although I'm bracing myself for a long wait, since conventional wisdom is that first babies come late.

We opted to spend our last long weekend as a 2 person family hanging around the house, resting and finishing final preparations for the bean's arrival. We talked about just how strange it seems that a new person whom we haven't met will be joining our family in just a couple weeks. There's a bed and clothes and all sorts of stuff just sitting there waiting. It feels strange, but exciting too!

We finished putting together and putting away all the gifts from our shower. I washed loads and loads of baby laundry, so now all of the bedding and miscellaneous towels and blankets are clean, along with enough clothes in different sizes to get us through for a while. I still have diapers to sew (of course) but we have enough to get us through a few months. I've been stocking the freezer with meals little by little in hopes that there won't be too many "what will we eat" crises in the first month and I've been trying to keep the pantry stocked so we won't be rushing to the grocery store in the first week. The boy spent a good bit of the weekend cleaning the house top to bottom, since I've mandated that we give it a good scrub once a week so we have a better chance of it being clean when the bean arrives and everyone wants to come over to see her. We're also trying to start babyproofing by strapping large pieces of furniture to the wall and thinking about moving things to higher shelves. Of course, we have plenty of time for that, but we might as well get a jump start now while we're just waiting.

We still have several projects we'd like to finish around the house now that there's time and energy and we don't have to worry about waking a sleeping baby, but nothing that's necessary before she comes. We're ready. We may still have a month to wait, but now would be good too.

How about some more pictures of the nursery, now that we're all done with it?

The crib still doesn't have a mattress, but we're not planning to put her in it for a while anyway, so we'll get that after she arrives. I hate to admit that we struggled an embarassingly large amount of time trying to install the mobile. Our crib doesn't have straight sides, which is what its designed to hang on. We finally resigned ourselves to hanging it on the wall above the crib, even though we thought it would be out of sight of the little bean. Then we took a trip to the store where we purchased the crib and saw the display model with a mobile attached at the back, like we have ours here. So much frustration for such a simple little thing!

The shelves on these back walls were meant to be filled with knitted toys (knitted by yours truly). Clearly, I'm not doing such a great job in that department, although there has been plenty of knitting. If she holds out a few more weeks, I may be able to get a couple done.

I love our little closet changing station! The garbage can contains a wet bag for cloth diapers and, its hard to see, but we installed a little shelf on the right side to hold lotions and pins and other diaper changing paraphenelia. The diaper hanger is stuffed full of disposables plus there are two more bins full. That diaper cake was bigger than it looked!

I believe I've lost the war on pink. There are a couple baby blue outfits (although you may notice that those are dresses) and one or two things in purple and every single other article of clothing is pink. Perhaps when she's a year old, she can wear a different color?

And the countdown continues

{ Sunday, May 17, 2009 }
Our little bean is due to arrive exactly one month from today. Of course, we all know that due dates mean nothing to the little babes who pick their own birthdays, but still. We're getting close.
This week, we finish our last childbirth class. In effort to be (over) prepared, I signed us up for 12 weeks of Bradley, 4 weeks of childbirth preparation classes at our hospital along with baby care, car seat safety and breastfeeding. I'm really glad that we tried all these out and a couple of them were really good, but most of them were, well, not. I guess there was no way to know that in advance, but it turns out we could have read all the books that we've already been working our way through and we'd have pretty much the same, if not more, information. We'll see if any of this makes one bit of difference while we're working our way through contractions, though!

The last series of classes we took were at the hospital and as sweetie and I were riding the elevator down to the lobby one evening, we stopped to pick someone up. The woman (wearing scrubs) backed up to let us off and gave us a very strange look when we told her we weren't getting off on her floor. "But THIS is the 3rd floor," she insisted. It took me a few minutes to remember that labor and delivery is on the third floor. She thought I looked pregnant enough to actually be in labor and heading in for delivery. That was a couple weeks ago and while I'm getting anxious for the little bean to show up, she still had a bit of baking left to do at that point. Not that I'm defensive or anything, but I felt an urge to explain to her how far along I was and that my midwife tells me I'm measuring right on target. But yeah, I'm big.

One more month to go . . . it simultaneously seems like a short period of time and an eternity.

Who doesn't love a shower?

{ Friday, May 15, 2009 }
I love baby showers. I'm not going to lie--I love seeing all the cute little clothes and fun baby gear and decorations and playing all the silly games (the games are really my favorite part!). I know some people hate going to them, but I've always loved them.

With my family almost entirely 3000 miles away, I knew none of them would be hosting one and no one in sweetie's family had mentioned anything to me, so I was not expecting to have one (although it was odd that the sweetie was so opposed to my buying anything for the baby--even at 34 weeks!). I should also mention that I am incredibly hard to suprise. I (usually) can tell when someone's hiding something from me and I (annoyingly) ask a lot of questions about what's going on, so I make it hard on would-be surprise planners.

Last weekend, we were planning to go to my mother-in-law's house for Mother's day brunch on Sunday morning, but Friday afternoon the boy called to tell me that there was a change in plans and that mother-in-law would like to have everyone over for brunch on Saturday instead. (I'm not sure how to feel about the fact that the boy is getting better at hiding things from me, but I'm choosing to see it as a good thing in this context.)

So, Saturday morning we arrived at mother-in-law's house, walked in, and I immediately see a bunch of stuff in her entry (mother-in-law's house is always exceptionally tidy). I say hello and then all of a sudden a bunch of people come out of the dining room and yell surprise and I realize that the "stuff" in the entry is a bunch of gifts. Yay, a surprise shower complete with the games that I love so much! I really had no idea and I have to say, after experiencing it for the first time, that I'm now a fan of being surprised. It was so much fun!

Opening presents--I don't know where everyone found such cute clothes, but we were given stuff that is so much cuter than what I bought.

Gotta love a diaper cake! Even though we're planning to use cloth, I think we'll end up putting the bean in disposables occasionally, so these are perfect!

Apparently, you're supposed to make a hat out of the ribbons and wear it for good luck.

It was so much fun and so good to see everyone. And now we really do have everything we need for the little bean, we just need to spend this weekend organizing and putting everything away!