Archives for category: Pregnancy

This extreme heat combined with Lux’s approaching first birthday has the early days of motherhood on my mind. The sticky floor in our kitchen, the faint hum of a hundred air conditioners through the window, the smell of baking bricks has triggered a wave of memories I’d forgotten in the last few months. I know several of my readers are expecting babies soon! I thought I would share a few things I would have loved to know in the first month or two.

Lie about your due date on Facebook. Smudge it a little starting two or three weeks beforehand, no one will notice. Majority of first births are late, up to two weeks! To keep the dear friends and family at bay during those endless last days, give yourself a little leeway.

Ask for food instead of gifts. If you have friendly neighbors and hopeful friends, tell them you would love for some hearty food in the weeks after the birth.

A doula might be a bit expensive, but it could be the best money you’ve spent. It could save you the cost of an epidural and c-section! And be enormously comforting to you and husband. It isn’t an indulgence, it is a wise investment. If they do postpartum visits and help, all. the. better.

Sleep with a favorite bed companion for your baby before they arrive, and infuse it with your scent.

Never post about how well your baby is sleeping on Facebook. Nothing marks a new parent more than this boasting, and unfortunately, it can really hurt some friends’ feelings who’ve had more difficult babies. Stay savvy and avoid this topic.

Things that are easiest when the baby is smallest: day trips, plane trips, eating at loud restaurants, and evening adventures.

Nap when she naps. Truly truly truly. If you can do this as much as possible, you’ll feel way better about the bizarro sleep patterns.

Avoid sleep training until three months. Do not spend hours googling methods when they are two weeks old. Your hips have to learn to sway, your mouth has to learn the comforting noises, your baby has to stop being a foreign alien to this world. It takes time, and no one’s cheap tricks will help.

 

Here’s what the hours of Googling inevitably results in: yes other babies do it. No, no one knows why. Yes, it will stop soon.

The sooner you can quiet the fear of your own intuitions, the sooner you and your baby will feel confident in your decisions.

Three questions you might ask yourself and will later look back and wonder if you were insane: Is little Lux getting enough stimulation? Am I keeping her from learning? Am I being a “good” parent at all times?

*Do you have bits of advice you whisper to new moms? I’d love to hear them, please share. Please ignore these until (..if ever) they are useful to you. : )

well well well. Judging by the old blog stats, you guys are still with me. Thanks for that. If you wrote an interesting tweet, or posted a good Instagram, or spent some time on a blog post, you probably entertained me at 3am sometime in the past two weeks. Thanks for that too.

This baby-birthing and baby-having is really big deal. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned that before. It is occupying. You put your body through the most strenuous physical activity of its life, and at the end of it you are handed a small human who has lots to tell you but only hand gestures for words. And relies on you entirely for food and drink. Who likes to fall asleep in your arms and has reflexes that make her grab you tightly.

I’d like to tell you my birth story but I don’t want to scare you.

Just kidding. But actually women say that to each other quite frequently.

But really, my story is one where everything I didn’t want to happen–namely “failure to progress,” an epidural, a c-section–happened, and it was still okay, and actually had some pretty great points throughout. Like the friendly nurses who gave me hugs and told me they believed in me. Like Joe rubbing my back for twelve straight hours.  Like the midwives who deferred to my decisions, and encouraged me to think for myself. Like the fact that, after laboring without one for twenty-four hours, an epidural can feel like the most unbelievable hospital-approved drug on earth. Like Lux being enormously healthy and fat, and when she appeared in the operating room there were astonished cries of, “where were you hiding her!”  Like how our insurance pays for you to recover in a hospital for four days, with meals brought to your bedside, and nurses who jump to bring you more diapers, and cots for your husband so you can sleep next to each other.

really, I have to say, nurses are the shit.

And now we have Lux Amelia:

She’s laying next to me right now, sleeping away. And her little nursery that could is working perfectly.

I’m excited to get back to blogging. Probably a little bit about life with Lux (life d’Lux?) but mostly the usual hodgepodge.

Walk to the library to pick up two books, take home six. Feel silly at the checkout, but you finish four of them, including Joan Didion. Wish you would have listened to everyone and read her three years ago. Set aside last two for a comforting re-read of Lolita.

Go to Haymarket and find the ugliest, biggest lemons for sale: 7 for $1, but you don’t get to pick them out. Watch skeptically as he selects them (you’re thinking of your cake), so skeptically that—or perhaps because you look so pregnant—you watch as he throws 2 extra in the bag. 9 for $1! Walk around the rest of the market feeling like the luckiest.

Use all the lemons to bake lemon cake. Make tomato sauce. Think about how those two culinary feats—cake from scratch, sauce—are referenced as the most homemaking tasks of all recipes. It’s because of the time; the crazy extra effort that might not even register on your tongue. But you made them because they sounded good. And they are good. Forget to take your prenatal vitamins and just eat lemon cake for a day.

Sit in the breeze of your new air conditioner. This ugly enormous machine that juts in passerby’s faces outside of your window without their permission, that you don’t quite understand the environmental impact of but understand it’s frowned upon, is the first purchase that makes you feel truly adult. It feels guilty indulgent, like taking a rose bath in the middle of the desert with water squirted from carried bottles.

Go out for Italian. Hunting for spicy: order the homemade fusilli with Fra Diavolo sauce. Eat all the fried peppers in the calamari. Talk cheerfully of how this is your last date free-of-other-human-responsibilities, avoiding the weighty (43 lbs; 8 days) fact that you both wish the baby had come yesterday. Be grateful the physical ripeness of being overdue makes this transition, freedom to responsibility, easy and obvious.

Dear readers! Before the baby gets here and trashes the place, I would love to show a few photos of where she’ll stay.

The nursery wall, as we call it.

The rocker was my modernist-loving grandmother’s, and the crib (former laundry basket) is a makeover story done by Joe (he posted a few before photos). I love the mobile, it was the first nursery item we were given, and for most of the winter it hung in our living room as a promise that we would someday have a place for it. We’re planning to hook up an ipod to the radio with white noise tracks so it can double as a sound machine, along with playing NPR for me.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen when I posted a photo of Joe finding the globe in the trash near our apartment. It works perfectly as a soft ocean-and-continent-glow nightlight. It’s a still mystery why it was in the trash as no deadly spider babies have yet emerged from it.

In our apartment storage is an enormous challenge, so we definitely needed a new place to put her clothes. We bought the two pieces of furniture at an antique warehouse in southern MA. Joe repainted the cabinet when we were in Maine, and the knobs on the changing table are from Anthropologie. Those orange bins will be all cloth diapers, since I finally found someone in Boston who does diaper deliveries.

This Kurt Vonnegut quote (from A Man Without a Country) is a good one for us. We’re always noticing after the fact how nice something was, and never quite settling down in the moment. We used this sign and the “crib” in the market last year, so it feels like we brought a little bit of our past adventures along with us.

We changed up the artwork in the rest of the bedroom as well, and I love this old schoolhouse map for its pinks, oranges and blues. It’s so cheerful (and historically educational, since most of the facts are wrong now).

Looking over at this wall, for me, is like sitting before a grotto of flickering candles. The fact that we finally appear to be physically ready to welcome her, and she will have place to fall asleep, and a place to put her clothes, is incredibly soothing. Possibly the most soothing thought I have ever encountered. I try to fall asleep facing that wall.

When a new-mom-friend told me that a Christmas Kindle gift had brought books back into her life post-baby, I immediately knew I needed one.

We’re not quite friends yet. I’m a serious library card carrier and rarely buy books, even used ones. So the idea that I have to buy any new book I want to read, even if it is a bit cheaper than cover price, seems crazy. And that I can’t lend the book, once I’ve bought it: even crazier. And that I’m direct depositing into the Amazon machine instead of the local bookstores…let’s not go there.

But reading one-handed, with no hardcover girth to balance, tossing this digital lightweight into the bag alongside a few diapers, or lightly clicking from chapter five of Baby’s First Year back to A Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing…that does not seem so crazy.

Joe surprised me and personalized this strange creature by downloading a bookplate for my screen, one that he made for me years ago and I already use in my physical books (that is Curious George, but because I love monkeys, not because I love George so much).

Any savvy Kindle users out there who want to recommend a few free good books? And who’s starting the Kindle discountedbook of the month club? I am IN.

Wow, a non-alcoholic beer tasting! Great idea and I appreciate Ashley and Aron trying the (mostly crummy) options for us.

I haven’t tried their winner, Clausthaler, but it was a specifically requested non-alco option at our market last summer.

Clausthaler got high marks from both of us: the smell is slightly sweet–like honey–and the first taste is fruity, but the finish had more hops. In other words, this one actually had range!

Sorry guys. I’ve been missing this place.

I went home for a baby shower. Joe and I made a little mix cd to give as a tiny thank you to all the amazing women who gave us gifts, many of them obviously handcrafted with love. It was supposed to be Springy, and Agreeable, so that even my grandmothers would like it. You can listen to it too, right here. (the mix I lined-up to play right after our mix is really good too–French and sexy.)

Want a close-up of that little painting Joe made for the cd cover? I know I do:

My only selfish request for the shower brunch was that there be cinnamon rolls. My mom makes the recipe that was copied off of Cinnabon, as in the all rights reserved Cinnabon, the one you hope is in the airport so you can sneak off and get a small box of chewy frosted dough.

Is there anything quite like seeing a dozen adults queue up to buy themselves cinnamon rolls?

a sample gift:

What else?

I made this easy quinoa tabbouleh and thought about how healthy and worthy I was, eating quinoa and even pronouncing it properly under my breath. (instead of “keen-wa,” there used to be days when I said “qui-noAH.” Whatever. The point is, it has a lot of amino acids.)

I watched the first episode of “Dresscue Me.” You can download it, free, from iTunes. Joe was almost too stressed out by the estrogen-energy to watch; which I say as a warning before you get the whole family in front of the television.

I read a bunch of great books. The last three on that list were particularly fun to read. If you need a little great writing in your life, a little reminder of how immediately enticing a story can be, get The Imperfectionists from the library. I almost read it twice, just to make it last longer.

Don’t forget about this almond pastry Easter recipe I wrote about last year.

Just because I wasn’t around here doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading your lovely blog posts, and funny tweets, missing your thoughtful company, and clicking your delightful links. I was.

Joe made me this postcard for Valentine’s Day. Later on, he noted that she is either emanating color out into the desert world, or being attacked by a storm cloud of rainbows. Ultrasonic images have that mysterious way about them. What is she thinking? you wonder.

If I have to bend over and pick things up, I start panting, ohhing, and ahhing, like taking out the trash might be the last effort I donate to the day.

My mom told me that in her first pregnancy she started eating foods from her childhood. It might have just been those “crazy woman cravings” that society is obsessed with attributing to pregnant women, or she suggested, she was struggling with the transition of being responsible for someone and wanted to revert back to being a kid again. I can’t really think of another reason why kraft macaroni and cheese will be the food I end up associating with this pregnancy.

I have been struck by the strange fact that though every woman must map the tricky route of how she will balance her baby and her hopes for her engagement with the outside world, it is difficult for us to talk to each other about it. We each have our own notions of what the other must assume, and speak hesitatingly only for ourselves. For what has been a dynamic issue for the past forty years, it has not resolved in any useful way.

Desperately needing cheats to eat vegetables every day, I  jumped on the green smoothie train. It has saved me, and probably a few red blood cells too. Banana, frozen wild blueberries, bunches of raw spinach, almond milk, blend. You don’t really taste anything beside the banana and the milk, and there is none of that flat-tongue-leaf-spinchyness texture that I lately despise. Saved.

The hormones have begun to occasionally swing away from blissful mother o’ peace to those of a cranky perturbed five year old. Not only are things wrong, things are cryably wrong. You experience things in pregnancy that make you relate to an infant—the desperate, overwhelming desire to eat right now; the frustration of not knowing or understanding where emotions well up from and deciding to just express them anyway; the fulfilling occupation of simply gazing off into space.

My trusty shirts are, one by one, waving a hand of fond farewell and retiring to the corners of my drawers, hoping I will not ask them to experience that again. I just went through all the clothes I own, and was surprised to meet a few new candidates for favorite shirt.  At least for the next week.

She kicks when I do yoga, when Joe plays the guitar, when I eat peanut butter, and when I think it might be a nice time for a little peace and quiet, she practices her routine for a kicking brigade dance show. These are just the kicks I habitually note, the others are faintly scribbled on an EKG reading somewhere in my brain that I recall when I have a moment of panic, thinking she’s been silent for days.

We bought flowers last week when we found out we are having a girl. It would have been steaks if it were a boy. yes, we’re already starting in with the gender roles. I was convinced it was a boy, probably because I have four younger brothers and males seemed to be in general abundance in the universe of grasshoppers waiting to be incarnated.

So I’m really glad we found out, because otherwise I would have continued on my merry way of misinformation.

I can’t make flowers look like Frolic can. The color in this photo is just what people mean when they say the word April.

The #1 question I get from my non-pregnant/male friends is: do you miss alcohol? For the first 20 weeks, I did not. These days, yes I do. It’s not really the day-to-day, it’s the alcohol associated with occasions. Bloody Marys on plane rides. Margaritas with Mexican. Dinner with friends with a new wine.

Joe and I don’t do gifts for Valentine’s Day. We usually make cards: his a meticulous transformation of what was once just paper. Mine: a wordy, prosy, metaphor-laden 4th grader’s handwriting exercise. Anyway, we usually spend the money on expensive champagne and maybe make scrambled eggs and salmon or something that involves not going into the slushy world outside. Do I plan on having a glass or two? yes.

But for the rest of the non-special times, when the guilt of impeding the development of a single brain cell stops my hand, I thought these drink ideas put together by Alyson at Unruly Little Things where just great. When it’s warmer, I’m looking forward to homemade lemonade being my drink of choice, perhaps embellished with a little rose water.

my dear loyal erstwhile* readers,

the time has come for that predictable post in which I tell you that I am pregnant, and have been pregnant, for some time–nearly three months–without your knowledge. What a foreign thing to want to whisper in everyone’s ear immediately, this thing that is completely occupying your attention and has made you feel quite sick actually, but you have to keep it hush hush because otherwise you might have to tell everyone the good news, and then tell everyone the bad news, should something terrible happen. Personally, I think it would be better to tell everyone both. But when it’s your first, as I keep reminding myself, you are in not much of a position to argue with tradition. Now, when it’s my third, that’s when I’ll be telling tradition who’s who around here.

So yes, I went from a merry oyster slurping, sushi munching, afternoon espresso and sommelier-aspiring food monger to a curious creature who preferred to keep a sack of saltines on hand and cringed at the idea of walking within ten feet of what used to be my favorite hot dog stand. So it is that you begin nine months of blissful occupation being brought to your knees and wondering what the hell you were thinking voluntarily signing up for this and finally understanding why people looked aghast when you said you have six siblings.

And now those three months have passed and mostly I’m just hungry all  the time now, and I can move on to wondering where we will stuff the little monkey when he/she arrives–a file drawer? a basket lined with cushions? And how funny it is that we try our best to prepare for everything, but really our whole life is going to completely completely change in ways we don’t have a clue about.

But isn’t that stork magnificent?

*a contrary phrase, yes.

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