Category Archives: baby

getting ready for babe no. 3

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I’m two weeks away from my due date, and feel like I’m barely holding this baby in. Achey back, waddling when I walk, pressure on my bladder, swollen ankles. The baby is doing constant dance parties inside of me and punching me in uncomfortable places. I’m amazed I ever worked in this state. I’m eating well — I cut out all ice cream and treats in the last three weeks — and yet I’ve still gained 45 pounds. This pregnancy? Hardest yet. It’s probably because I’m 39. And because we’re living in a dry climate at almost 6,000 feet. And I’m spending my time with a 4 year old and a 2 year old. And it was 100 degrees today.

But the end is near. And the sleepless nights holding a sweet newborn are quickly¬†approaching. We still don’t have a name. A. is finishing up a dresser for the big boys — made entirely out of 2x4s — so we can move the one with a changing pad into our room. I registered at UNM hospital last week, and A. installed the car seat (three seats in the back of a tiny Mazda 3, thank you very much).

I’ve been trying to keep the boys engaged with fun summer activities while I rest. Play dough, ice pops, the trampoline park, playing with the hose in the backyard, play dates with friends, library time and dinners on the deck.

Today, I picked up the last batch of pottery I’ll do for a while. My mind spins daily thinking about different combinations of glazes and what my “style” is. I’m cleaning up my shop, knowing I’ll have to shut it down till probably the end of August, though the thought makes me cringe. Then, I’ll throw more and open an Etsy shop. I’ve realized I can’t keep this hobby up without selling — it’s expensive and we can’t keep everything I’m making. And the truth is, I’m excited about a new challenge, but I won’t be able to launch it till the fall. Until then, I’ll put my energy into three boys under 5 years old. Wish me luck.

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5 things that made me happy this week

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For me, it’s often the simple pleasures that flood my brain with serotonin. Discovering a new favorite song. Devouring a treat. Getting huge hugs around my neck from my boys. And … relief. Here are five things that made me happy this week — reflecting on them revives and reinforces the feelings.

  1. Health. This week, we found out that our next baby is healthy. (Yep, we’re going to be a family of five!) We passed the first trimester screening, which was an incredible relief. I’m 38, and the baby is due July 2, when I’ll be 39. So the geneticist at the University of Mexico, who last week sat me down in her office and listed in a grave tone all of the age-related disorders the baby could have, said on my voicemail (bless her): “We got your results back and it’s good news. Give me a call. Again, it’s good news.”
  2. Music. I’ve been spending time in the evenings going through NPR Music’s favorite list from 2015. “Get Up” by Caitlin Canty, “The Eye” by Brandi Carlisle and “24 Frames” by Jason Isbell are now rolling on repeat.
  3. Sweet Treat. In one of the many “how to cut sugar” articles I read this week, a food writer said she often turns to dates stuffed with almond butter. Can I just tell you I’m on my second container of dates this week?
  4. A Dear Friend. A friend from college who lives in Takoma Park, Md., was in Albuquerque for one night for a conference on Wednesday. She has three kids — twin 6-year-old boys and a 3-year-old daughter. We had dinner at Vinaigrette in Old Town before heading to Nob Hill for dessert. Conversation flowed nonstop about psychology (she has a Phd in developmental psych), parenting, fears and hopes. Happiness is spending time with friends you love and trust and have known for years.
  5. Short Stories. Now that I’m out of my first trimester fog where all I wanted to do is curl up in a ball and sleep, I’m revisiting short stories I started last year and the year before. And I’m thrilled to find that they’re not terrible. I plan to revive some, and brainstorm some new ones.

What happy moments have you had this week?

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hey facebook, I’m over you

photo 1-14I’ve been on Facebook since 2006. Eight years. In that time, I went on several international trips — Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cost Rica, Tanzania, Iceland. I ran my second marathon. I landed a dream job. I fell in love, had a baby, got married, quit my job, moved cross-country and had another baby.

And through all of this, I can’t recall Facebook ever making me feel bad. Until this summer.

There have been several articles about how Facebook makes people feel lonely or envious. This happens when people, I think, see photos of something they want — but either don’t have or can’t get. When a friend was trying to get pregnant, and ultimately went through in-vitro, she couldn’t stand seeing photos of babies on Facebook.

What got to me this summer was seeing photos of people laughing with their friends, and amazing summer-time scenes.

Summer in Ridgecrest is harsh. It’s too hot to spend much time outside during the day. (I get my fresh air at dusk after the boys are asleep).

What’s more, I started working in the mornings, and I’m in front of a computer from 8-12, the time I used to socialize. So not only am I far away from dear friends who live all over the country, but I’ve also been feeling even more isolated in a quiet place.

When I feel bad, I tackle it. What will get me back on track to feeling great? Exercise? A trip to see friends? Stop working? For starters, I deleted Facebook off of my phone. Now, I look at it seldom. So seldom that Facebook has started sending me messages — “Hey, E., look at what you’re missing!”

The site, to me, is the strangest beast. It makes me feel (kind of) connected to former colleagues. It opens the door to reconnect with long-lost friends. Sometimes, I crowd source for good reads or travel suggestions. But overall, the insincerity of it and the boastfulness of it and the well, faux social connection, makes me question its benefit. And really, it’s a complete time suck in a time when it feels like every moment is precious. I’d much rather read for a 1/2 hour than scroll through photos of people doing awesome things in beautiful places and longing to be where they are, instead of appreciating where I am. Because where I am is pretty damn great.

So, for now, I’m staying off of it. I’m spending time with the littles, like this one, who just turned six months old. And I’m truly the happier for it.

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surprises with baby no. 2

One of the biggest surprises when A. and I came home with baby no. 2 was how all of sudden my first baby seemed HUGE. Like, holy crap, my 27-month-old grew into a Godzilla-sized toddler over night. And he was no longer my baby. I don’t say that in a sad way — though I could see how hormones could make moms grieve this shift in relationship with their first baby — but rather in an awed way.

The other surprise is how I feel fine, this time, staying home all day every day. I’m no longer living in a poorly-lit two-bedroom dungeon in D.C. Our house in the desert is full of light, and the California sun and blue skies allow me breathe. Also, there is truly nowhere to go. And I’m OK with accomplishing what feels like nothing: no crocheting, no trying new recipes, no writing. I’ve let go of some of my over-achiever tendencies that gnaw at me.

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With CM, I walked everywhere — up to my favorite coffee shop, through the photo exhibits at National Geographic, to brunch spots with friends. And I was beyond exhausted.

Now I’m literally sitting in the rocker in my bedroom, or on a lawn chair in our backyard, nursing and cuddling CP, his full lips puckered against my chest. I watch him smile in his sleep, or squeak those adorable piglet squeaks. And instead of feeling stifled and penned in and emotional, I feel joyous.

I have this bad habit of looking ahead when I’m excited or inspired or filled with love. When I arrived in Peru solo for a trek to Machu Picchu — one of my best vacations — I went on a hike and looked out at the city of Cusco and found myself thinking about where I could travel next. And so it is, now, as I snuggle CP, my mind is wandering to baby no. 3 — something I never thought I’d desire.

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curls, purses and gender roles

When C. came into the world, he had a dark mullet that reached down to his neck. That mullet has turned into golden curls, longer in the back. So, occasionally, he gets mistaken as a girl.

Last weekend, A. took C. to a cafe after spending the morning feeding carrots to wild horses.

“I sat C. facing two older women, because, you know, they love babies,” he told me later. “And they did love it, but one of them — who was honestly probably 90 — kept referring to C. as a girl.”

A. looked at me like the woman had lost her bananas.

“I mean, look at him.”

I nodded.

“He looks nothing like a girl.”

Yesterday, I stopped in at Stater Brothers to pick up some pork chops for dinner,¬† and C. insisted on carrying my purse: “Mama, purse?” I offered to help as he struggled, and he said, “No, no,” in a panicky voice, like I was trying to de-pants him in public.

As he stumbled like a drunkard near the flower section, a woman in her 70s with curly gray hair and thick glasses stopped her cart.

“Aw,” she said. “How old is she?”

“Oh, he’s 17 months,” I said, correcting her. “He’s a boy.”

And then, later, I thought to myself, “Why does it matter? Who cares if they call him a girl?”

C. is starting to catch on to the concept of female and male.

Last week, he said to me, “Mama, penis?”

“No, no, honey,” I said. “Mama doesn’t have a penis. You and papa have penises.”

Later that day, he pulled a bra from my drawer.

“Mama, bra?” he said, pointing to my breasts. “Yes,” I said. “Mama wears a bra. Papa doesn’t wear a bra.”

(Though, with A.’s sense of humor, C.’s bound to be confused.)

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Yesterday, at the playground, C. watched a 5-year-old climb on the structure. It was his first time assigning a gender to another kid when he said: “Girl, up, steps.” He watched her, captivated, and when she said, “Boo!” at him, he giggled hysterically. “Nen, nen,” he said [“again, again”]. It was almost as if he had his first crush, his eyes danced with happiness watching her run around.

Now that he’s noticing the differences, I’m becoming more and aware of what A. and I — and society — communicate to C. about gender.

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a birth plan? ha, good one (C.’s birth story, long overdue)

Photo by Stacey Vaeth

Photo by Stacey Vaeth

A. and I sit cross-legged in the back room at the Potters House in D.C. on a rainy November evening with about 20 small slips of paper in front of us. We’re charged with arranging them on the carpet from least important to most important.

I breathe hard and reach over my massive belly to grab one of them. It reads, in small type at the top, “It is important to us to…” and then, in large type, “Wear our own clothes.” I make a face and put it at the bottom of our list of priorities. I’ll probably be naked.

After that, it gets harder. I want all of them, really. Access to a shower/bath. Yes. Avoid labor induction. Yep. Have freedom of movement. Yes. Avoid epidural. Definitely. Delay cord cutting. Check. Avoid forceps/manual extraction. Oh goodness yes. Avoid Cesarean surgery. Absolutely.

At the top of priorities, I put “Have a healthy baby.”

A. looks at me with disapproval.

He grabs the slip that says “Have a healthy mother,” and slaps it above healthy baby.

“If something happens, we can always try for another,” he admonishes me. “There’s only one you.”

We’re taking a Bradley Method class and learning about labor and delivery. We signed up so we’d meet other couples in the same boat. And we want to learn how to be our own advocates in the delivery room. Turns out, most of the women are birthing at home or in a birthing center. They’re anti-hospital and anti-intervention. I do have wishes around giving birth, but really, I just want me and my baby to get out of this alive.

A month later, and seven days after my due date, my water breaks in a gush all over my black maternity pants. My contractions haven’t started. And all of a sudden, I’m on a clock: I have 24 hours to get this baby out of me.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Friday in early December when I check in at the hospital, brimming with adrenaline. I put my bathing suit on under the hospital robe. “Is this the birthing tub?” I ask a nurse. “Yes,” she says, “but since your water broke, you can’t use it.” Oh, I think, disappointed. One wish, rejected.

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nightly bath: a time to discover

A. usually gives C. his nightly bath. He fills the tub with warm water and bubbles and coaxes C. in by talking excitedly about his new boat. I love hearing A.’s quiet voice as he washes C., hunched over the tub even though his back hurts him. A. dutifully wipes down C.’s teeth and gums, even though C. sometimes resists. One time, A. got into the water with C. to mix it up.

A. was out of town this week, so I handled the baths. And C. was grabbing at himself. He pulled on his pecker and looked up at me so I would tell him what it’s called. “Penis,” I said, without even a hint of laughter (go me!) A. and I joke that we should teach C. the word “johnson.” But we can’t even say it without laughing. Oh, my sweet, sweet innocent boy. We have so much to teach you.

(Also, check out those boobs and fat folds: They should win an award.)

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our little rebel

C. decided to take us out today in the Mazda to the Trona Pinnacles, a remote area east of Ridgecrest. While munching on orange slices, he said, “Mom, I’ve got it under control,” and then fluffed his curls. I thought, “Hey, it’s the desert. Anything goes.” I’m just glad he didn’t pop a tire and that he agreed to play our music.

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our first ‘long’ hike in (what feels like) years

We used our new baby backpack for the first time on Friday and it was awesome.

We were with S. (who left yesterday, sniff) and decided to try some random trails not too far from home.

A. hoisted C. (and his cheeks and belly — all 24 pounds of him) on his back.

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We marched toward Owens Peak, well in the distance, along a dirt road taking photos and chatting.

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An hour in, we heard a car ripping up the narrow dirt road, kicking up dust. “Woah,” A. said, and we all scrambled to jump into the shrubs, afraid the driver wouldn’t see us around the bend. The jeep stopped hard, and we stood looking at each other, dumbfounded.

“Sorry about that,” a gray-bearded man rolled down his window and asked where we were headed. Turns out, he lives 1/4 mile up, on a farm with four yipping dogs and a donkey, off the grid.

His farm was where we turned around. Shortly after, we came to a “V” in the road and got confused (yes, all three of us). We unintentionally took the path we didn’t take up, but we thought we could find our way anyway. I was anxious — it was getting cold and dark and C. was whining (turns out, he lost a shoe and none of us noticed his little toes were frozen).

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When we finally saw our car, it went like this:

[Points, jumps up and down.]

“There it is! There’s our car!”

“Oh, thank god.”

“Yeah! We did it!”

[Everyone cheers.]

We blasted the heat and stopped in Inyokern for Mexican food, all smiles.

It was so fun to be out on a 2-hour hike for the first time since well before C. was born. I can’t wait to go again. We’ll have to get as many hikes in as we can before the little man adds more pounds to his cheeks, belly and ankles.

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clapping, rolling, sitting up

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This morning, our baby monitor, sitting on the bedside table, started to beep loudly.

“What’s going on?” I said to A. Sunlight streamed through the windows.

“He’s paging us!” A. said.

“Mama,” A.’s voice got deeper, “I want my breakfast.”

“Let’s go see,” I said, scrambling out of bed.

I started to walk down the hall. A. said, “Wait for me!”

Sure enough, when we walked into C.’s room, he was holding the monitor in the middle of the crib. He had dragged it from where it was nestled in the corner.

This month has been wild watching C. grow. Everyday, it seems, he does something new. Two weeks ago, while I was changing him, he brought his hands together awkwardly to clap. “Are you clapping?” I said. “Clap, clap, clap.”

He reacted by clapping some more. He watched me while I clapped, then I said, “Your turn!” and he clapped and smiled. Every day since, he’s been mastering his clapping — so that he can hear a sound.

He’s also waving. He’s rolling across the room comfortably.

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He’s scooting backwards, slightly. He’s sitting up for 10 minutes at a time. He loves Itsy Bitsy spider and his feet are ticklish. He’s sleeping on his tummy (and he’s almost sleeping through the night — thanks to some painful sleep training). He’s saying, “Dadada, mamama, babababa, boo, and ooo.” Our friend S. said she’ll change her name to Bob so that he says her name first.

And now we probably shouldn’t turn our backs on C. for too long.

When we were in Detroit, I gave him my iPhone to play with as he lay on a big turquoise blanket in the backyard. I turned my back to eat my Sunday dinner at the patio table, and a few moments later I heard a muffled, “Hello? Hello?” Somehow, he had called A.’s mom, who goes by Nonni (Italian for grandma), twice and then hung up on her.

And when my mom and I were in the living room with C., watching the Tigers baseball game, he rolled over to the control box and turned the TV on mute. We didn’t know that he could do that, so we were confused about how the TV lost sound — until it dawned on us.

It’s fun to watch C. explore — not only his environment, but also food we put before him. This weekend, we gave him apricots, peaches and orange tomatoes from the farmers’ market. A. made him lentils yesterday which is the only food so far that he’s hated, and he let us know with loud wails. (He didn’t care much for spinach, either, but he’s a champion broccoli eater).

We also gave him Cheerios in his high chair, and watched him study how to pick them up. He was able to shove a few in his mouth, but he still has to master using his thumb and pointer finger to pinch them. But watching him concentrate, with short stubby legs not even hanging over the edge of the seat, is hilarious and a joy.

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