You Don’t Say

Lila is really into birthdays. She likes to mark them on her calendar, count down the days, plan celebrations that involve Elmo balloons (for B-Cat’s birthday) and cake (for A’s birthday) and special video greetings (for her great grandfather). One of the books in her current bedtime rotation is the Birthday Queen.  As we read the book, I asked if she would make me a cake for my birthday next month, just as she had made one for her daddy’s birthday. She agreed. I asked her what type of cake she would make and she stated it would be vanilla. I requested chocolate, because I really don’t like vanilla. She insisted vanilla cake was where it was at. When I pointed out that it was MY birthday and that I would really like chocolate cake for my birthday, she suggested “You can eat ice cream if you don’t like the vanilla cake.”

My child, birthday celebrator extraordinaireand problem solver. (Though her preference of vanilla over chocolate is clearly a character flaw.)

Lila's birthday masterpiece

Carrying Extra Baggage

Did you watch the Golden Globes on Sunday?  We watched most of the show, enough to know I am completely out of touch with popular culture, have not seen any of the nominated films and practically none of the television either.  (Except Downton Abbey, but who doesn’t watch Downton Abbey??)  Anyway, one of the many shows I’m out of touch with is Homeland whose lead actor Claire Danes won a Golden Globe this weekend.  Here’s Claire accepting her award. 

 

For those also as out of touch with popular culture as I am, you may not have known that Claire had a baby recently.  December 17 recently.  You may recall that I had a baby on December 27.  For those wondering, I am not 10 days away from looking like Claire Danes.

Clearly, I shouldn’t be comparing myself to Claire Danes – we definitely didn’t look alike (or have similar body types) before either of us became pregnant.  I’m sure I’m eating more Top Pot donuts and fast food since giving birth than she has been.  As one friend pointed out, imagine the pressure she had to squeeze into these dresses for awards season so close to giving birth.  I get it, we are very different people with different lifestyles, etc.  But it still made me feel better flabby and gross.

I wished I had kept a diary when I was pregnant with LC so that I could better compare this pregnancy (and its aftermath) to it.  I can’t remember how long I felt blah and out of shape after LC but I feel like it is lasting longer this time.  Which is probably being a little hard on myself since Lucy isn’t even 3 weeks old yet, so to say that it is “lasting longer” suggests that I was cool and over postpartum stuff in about 2 weeks.  Which I’m sure I wasn’t.  I think this time I jumped back into “life” a lot faster than I did with LC.  Arriving home to a two year old pretty much guarantees that you don’t have time to lounge, or nap or really do much of anything other than keep the house running for two kids, a dog and a cat.  A went away on a week long business trip 10 days after Lucy was born, really thrusting me back into the solo running of the house (though with much grandparent help).  So I guess my life feels a lot less “postpartum” than it did with LC, despite my inability to wear anything but nursing tank tops and yoga pants.  (My maternity pants are too big, my non-maternity pants too small. BLERGH.)

I know I need to cut myself some slack – being a new mom, even the second time around, isn’t easy. I’m tackling large to do lists every day and getting everyone out the door to work, day care, doctor’s appointments, etc almost on time.  I wish the gross pudginess around my middle would magically disappear or that I would feel less blah every time I look in the mirror, but I think we all know that these are not the only ways that Claire Danes’ life and mine differ.  In time, in my lifestyle, I’ll be able to get back to my clothes, my routine (which involves less McDonald’s milkshakes) and hopefully feel more like myself – and worry less about feeling like Claire Danes.

New Arrivals for the New Year

While we were beginning to doubt that the day would ever arrive, Lucy Noelle finally made her appearance on December 27, 2012.

Weighing in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces, she was almost twice the size of her sister at birth (five weeks longer in utero can make that difference).

DSC04305

I was scheduled to be induced the morning of Dec. 27, but on Dec 26 around 4pm I started having contractions unlike any I had previously felt in this pregnancy.  By 10pm they were pretty regular and strong and we were on our way to the hospital.  I’d like to say it was an easy birth, but 13 hours of active labor was pretty rough.  At 11:26am, Lucy Noelle arrived in the world.  DSC04308

She is healthy and alert and an amazing addition to our already blessed family.  LC is an amazing big sister who likes to help and be with her baby sister.  We couldn’t have asked for more.

We’ll post more photos and stories in the days to come, but for now we’re learning how to parent a newborn all over again – not to mention how to do it with an almost two year old.  It is an exciting and exhausting time but a tremendous way to be starting 2013.

Thank you for all the love and support throughout the pregnancy and across the miles.  When I started this blog the main goal was to stay in touch with the East Coast as we lived in the West and our family is very lucky that it has worked so well to be able to do just that.

Happy New Year to all!

 

Christmas, Not Always According to Plan

As we prepare for a Christmas not quite as we had planned (no one imagine there not being a new baby here by now), I am reminded of previous holidays that were not as we imagined.  Perhaps the one that fits this description the most is our first married Christmas.  We were married in June 2007 and A left almost immediately for pre-deployment training.  His training came to an end in December and he deployed to Afghanistan Christmas Eve.  Even though we celebrated “our” Christmas early, it was still incredibly hard to say good bye and know A was flying to the other side of the world (practically) on Christmas Eve.

One great comfort that year was receiving an unanticipated phone call late in the evening of Christmas Eve.  Families had been discouraged from coming to the hangar to see the unit off, so I had said good bye to A before he headed out and then went to Connecticut to spend Christmas with my family.  A had called earlier in the day to say they were boarding the planes and he would call from Germany. So when my phone rang at about 9pm that evening, I was not expecting to hear A’s voice on the end of the line.

He was calling from Bangor, Maine, a common “last stop” for troops headed overseas.  He told me of the amazing people who greeted them as they got the plane and how much that meant to him.  The greeters at the Bangor Airport have been greeting troops who travel through their airport since May 2003.  Their simple act of kindness can provide comfort and a just a small bit of home for those about to travel so far (or who may finally be returning home).

As we prepare for this unexpected Christmas this year, I am reminded of how far we have come since Christmas 2007 and how lucky we are to all be together (in one way or another).  I’m thankful for people like the Bangor greeters who make small sacrifices to thank those making larger ones.  I’m thankful for those who will not be home with their families this holiday as they answer whatever call to service they may have heard.  And I am thankful that even if she screwed up our “First Christmas” plans for her, BE2 is healthy and happy where she is and she will join our family soon.

 

Awesome Seattle Finds

One of the problems of moving to a new place is finding all the “good stuff”.  The good yoga studio, good coffee shop, good hair dresser.  In the two years that we’ve been in the Emerald City, we’ve found some of the good stuff, including an awesome local photographer who has done amazing photos of LC and our family.

I never did maternity photos with LC and I really regret not having any photos of me pregnant.  So when we found out that we were expecting again, I called Justine Shelton at J.Shelton Photography and scheduled our family/maternity photos.  As with all of the photos Justine has taken of our family, these were beautiful and did a great job of capturing this moment in time for our family.

E - BW-19 L-5 L-8 L-17

 

Justine will be doing newborn photos when/if BE2 arrives and I can’t wait to see all the special first moments she captures for us.

Spoonful of Sugar, right?

So if there is an element of fun to every job that must be done, I just need to find the fun in being past my due date and then, snap, the job’s a game.

It all began yesterday when I awoke to this happy message on my pregnancy app:

Yipee!

 

How positive!  Today IS the day!  My baby is due and she will arrive and we can stop waiting and making alternate arrangements and watching our well made plans slip away!  Hooray!!

And yet, today the same app was not quite as positive:

Blergh

 

Sigh.  Thanks, yes I am past my due date.  And just like Cinderella’s carriage apparently after midnight of my due date, this baby turned from a watermelon back into a pumpkin.  (Here I am at 40 weeks yesterday – you judge for your self what round fruit it looks like I am carrying.)

40 weeks

 

So time to find that element of fun – help us guess when BE2 will arrive.  Whoever is closest without going over (date and time) wins  a lovely Seattle gift, guaranteed to be mailed to you before BE2 is three months old.  Leave your best guess in the comments, and please, be kind :)

(In full disclosure, I will be induced on Dec 27 if this little one has not arrived by then, so you’ll want to make an educated guess based on that piece of info.)

Still Here

Lest you think my silence means we’ve had a baby, I am still very much pregnant.  I’m tired, I’m huge and I’m cranky.

But to focus on the positive things that this extra time has brought:

– I wrapped all the gifts.  No really, all the gifts.  There might even be things that I wrapped that weren’t gifts.  Once I started wrapping, I just kept going.  So there are gifts under the tree. Which brings us to. . .

– Christmas decorations.  We have a tree.  We decorated the tree.  We decorated the house.  I hung up a wreath and decorated the front gate.  Stockings are hung (except one that requires a certain little lady arrive before the it can be hung up).

– I can say I’ve worked through my due date (well, assuming I don’t deliver before Tuesday, which I’m really not thinking I will).

– Lots of extra time with LC.  We had no plans for this weekend, we assumed we be somehow involved with a newborn.  So we just had a lovely weekend of hanging out, taking care of things in the house and letting LC do as she wanted.  Mostly that involved reading Knuffle Bunny as many times as possible, but it was pretty fantastic to have time to have time that wasn’t scheduled or filled with to dos.

While there are plenty of positives, that doesn’t mean I’m not very, very ready to have this baby.  Everyday I mentally prepare a schedule of if I go into labor at this time, these things need to happen.  It is exhausting trying to game plan every hour of day.  It is tiring and nerve wracking.  I’m tired of people asking me when I’m due or continuing to share completely inappropriate comments with me.  I’m ready to be done.  This baby is cooked.  There is no room in there for her (trust me she’s made it very clear there is not enough room) and we’re ready for her arrive.

Sidenote – this Pats game is not making anything better.  It is in fact making it much, much worse.

My lucky day?

You may have heard, today is 12/12/12.  A magical date according to some.  A neat trivia fact to others.  No matter what side of the fence you fall on, every since we heard the due date for BE2, I’ve thought it would be pretty neat if she were born on 12/12/12.  A fun story to tell.  A birthday no one would forget.  Something every doctor’s office appointment line would comment on every time I called.  But here we are, halfway through 12/12/12 and things do not look like a 12/12/12 birth is imminent.   All hope is not lost yet, though.  Here are more reasons why being born on 12/12/12 would be perfect for BE2.

– Football.  So well established we like football.  LC was born on Super Bowl Sunday when the Packers, led by Aaron Rodgers, won the Lombardi trophy.  Wisconsin has named today Aaron Rodgers Day – he wears #12 after all.  What a nice symmetry to have BE2 born on Aaron Rodgers Day after LC was born on Aaron Rodgers’ first Super Bowl win.  It is also Tom Brady Day in Massachusetts – another #12 quarterback.  We love the Pats.  Tom Brady just had a baby.  See what I mean – kismet!

– Numerology. According to Western numerology the masculine one is self-sufficient and driven, while the feminine two is a true partner. Together they form a balanced and unstoppable pair. One also represents new beginnings and two represents union.  According to Chinese numerology, one is considered a yang number ruled by the sun and represents independence and individualism. Two is considered a yin number ruled by the moon and represents symmetry and balance. Combined, the number 12 brings harmony to the yin and the yang, balancing the masculine energy of the sun and the feminine energy of the moon. All of these things seem like the perfect description of a birth – two people coming together to make new life and then welcome it into the world.

– Do the Math. Mathematicians and scientists love the number 12 for its inherent divisibility. It is one of the relatively few smaller numbers that can be evenly divided into multiple subsets; 12 breaks down into halves, thirds, fourths, sixths and twelfths—making 12 (and all of its multiples) a very useful number. LC was born on 2/6 at 4:44pm, weighing (almost) 4lbs, 8oz.  Her birth had lots of symmetry with the number 4.  An equally symmetrical date with 12 would play along nicely.

I know this baby will come when she is good and ready.  I just wanted her to be fully aware of all of her options – including the possibility of having a magical 12/12/12 birthday and a great ice breaker line for years to come.

 

 

Strength in Numbers, or Why We Love Our Doula

In the last post I mentioned our doula, Katrina and some advice she had given.  This is our second time using Katrina as a doula and we’re so happy she is available for this birth.  Like so many decisions you make surrounding giving birth, choosing to use a doula is one of personal preference, but one that A and I felt was right for us.

Katrina was our doula for LC’s birth.  It had been our intention to have a birth with as few medical interventions as possible.  Complications in my pregnancy prevented that from happening (it was quite the opposite really) but we still had Katrina by our side.  She was a huge support to me through bedrest, answer questions as we constantly received new information and then be in the delivery room when our time came.  Even though our intended “doula use” didn’t happen, it was still great to have her in the room.  For me the biggest reason why came immediately following LC’s birth.  LC was taken by the NICU team and A went with her to ensure everything was ok and be with her.  I continued to have complications and it was great to have Katrina by my side, not only supporting me through the continued pain and issues but to keep me company while I anxiously awaited news to of how LC was (and eventually be able to hold her.)

When talking about hiring Katrina again this time, we discussed whether the risk of similar complications might discourage us from using a doula.  In the end, we both felt that the support and guidance that Katrina provided was worth it, even if things played out as they did before. (As I am closing in on 39 weeks complication free, we’re very glad we decided to go with a doula again).

So our goals are the same this time as they were last time – to have an unmedicated birth.  I hope to labor at home for as long as possible and then take advantage of the great resources our birthing suites have available (birthing balls, jacuzzis, showers, etc.)  Since the first day we met Katrina, she has been a very calming presence.  While I never anticipated A and I getting into an argument in the delivery room, I also know that A’s coaching style and my stubborness don’t always work well together.  Katrina’s personality is not like either of ours and I think helps to balance us.  Katrina acts as a support not just to me, but to A.  She lets him take a break to eat or run to the bathroom, without feeling like he is abandoning me.  Him being able to do these things means he can support me better.  She has been to many more births than either of us (obviously) and so her knowledge of coping skills, positions and relaxation techniques will be an amazing resource for us.

Pre-birth (because we all know this baby is going nowhere right now) she has been very helpful with every panicked question I’ve thrown at her.  Even though this is our second birth, last time was not “normal” with packed hospital bags and laboring as I wished in the birthing suite.  I’ve had questions from when do I call the doctor, can I stay home longer to what should I pack to wear in the jacuzzi and do I have to wear a hospital gown.  For those questions that keep arising that I’m not sure whether I should call the doctor for, she is a great sounding board.  Earlier last week I thought my water may have broken (it had not) so I called and talked through the symptoms with her.  She thought it didn’t sound like it but felt it was worth a call to the doctor.  On Thursday I had a number of contractions that made all of us believe this baby was on her way (silly, silly us).  I spoke to Katrina throughout the evening, discussing what was happening and what I should be looking for if this really was labor.  In the end, when contractions went from every 10 minutes to every 25 and then nothing, she was supportive and reassuring.  Both A and I were disappointed – thinking we were going to be able to meet our baby by Friday – but she helped remind me that this was a sign things were getting ready to happen and at least allowed A and I to have a dry run of babysitter calls and packing hospital bags.  It may seem like a small thing, but it definitely helped me that evening.

Postpartum last time, Katrina helped us through breastfeeding issues as well as my guilt issues surrounding LC’s birth.  We talked about all of the interventions I had through the birth and why each was needed.  It made me feel better to know that the interventions couldn’t have been avoided and that we did what we needed to have a healthy baby.  I worried that I didn’t speak up for myself or my baby enough and challenge the interventions, but she reminded me of the high level of questioning both A and I had done before any intervention was taken.  While it may not have been the birth we imagined, it was the birth we needed for a healthy LC.

There are many reasons to choose a doula, these are just a few of ours.  While I’m not a 10 member “birthing team” in the room type of person, I am so happy to know I will have two wonderful support people in the room with me.  I just hope the next time I text or call her, it is to say that I really mean it this time, I’m in labor.

When All You Need is a “Little” Christmas

Our December is busy this year, busier than the normal holiday hustle and bustle.   As I try to wrap up at work and we continue to try to prepare the house for a second child, there are just more to dos this year then normal.  In speaking to my doula about all of this and the stress of trying to get it all done, she reminded me that at LC’s age she won’t miss things if I decide to skip it.  She suggested I pick 5 things that were important to me to do and let the rest slide this year.  Being so wise and calm is one of the main reasons we love our doula.

So I’m trying to take her advice and do what seems to me to be unskippable and leave the rest for the years to come.

– Christmas tree – well, yeah.  We have to have a Christmas tree.  I haven’t quite figured out when we will get and decorate the tree – hopefully Friday evening?  But you can’t have Christmas without a tree I feel.  There will need to be a place for presents and adorable photos of the girls in their Christmas outfits (which will likely be jammies because I don’t intend on any of us being out of jammies that day).  So this is at the top of my list of things that must get done, even though no progress has been made on that front.

– Gifts – I can’t see how my poor timing of being due with our second child a week before Christmas should mean that I don’ t follow through on giftgiving responsibilities this year.  So we started early and not surprisingly used our favorite mail order site for 85% of our shopping.  Boxes have been arriving daily, but I have no gifts left to purchase and only two packages left to ship.  For December 5, I’d say that is pretty good.  I hope to be able to wrap gifts, but I wrapping is not on my “must do” list this year.

Santa visits – LC still doesn’t really get who Santa is and that’s fine.  But it is important to me to try to get a photo of LC and Cal (yes, Cal) with Santa.  The Seattle Humane Society does a fundraiser every year for Santa pictures with pups and it comes out pretty great (see last year’s adorableness.)  So long as BE2 holds out we’ll take everyone for photos on Monday, so be prepared for all that cuteness.

Christmas Mass – as LC’s gotten older, going to weekly mass as become more difficult.  Toddlers don’t understand 1) sitting still, 2) being quiet, 3) respecting the quiet time of others.  So while I think we make a good effort to go as often as we can, we’ve cut ourselves some slack in recent months.  We plan to go to Christmas mass this year, not just because it’s LC’s immortal soul, but I’m excited to take our new family out to celebrate.  (Of course that raises the thought of being in mass with a toddler who won’t sit still and a newborn who has no clue whatsoever is going on.  Joy to the world indeed.)

Christmas music – this is a pretty easy one.  I don’t usually wrap myself in Christmas music – I feel like all of that generally sneaks in each year by osmosis – shopping, radio, tv, etc.  But this year I felt it was easy to forget that it was the holiday season with all the new baby excitement in our house so I’ve been trying to listen to more to embrace the season.  We don’t have that much holiday music at home or around LC – it’s NPR on the commutes to and from work/day care and then whatever DJ Dada puts for the evening dance party in the house.  I tried to sing 12 Days of Christmas to LC when putting her down for bed the other night but she insisted we return to the more traditional ABCs.  So I’ll enjoy the Christmas music on Pandora while working and hope that LC discovers the magic that is the Waitresses all for herself one day.