Tag Archives: baby

5 things that made me happy this week


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.



Filed under baby, desert

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.


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.

photo 1

photo 2



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sweet baby, a week early


The contractions start at 4 a.m. on Saturday. I recognize this cramping feeling. I peer out the window to gauge the daylight and roll over and drift back to sleep. At 5 a.m., I can’t sleep. I pick up my glowing phone and click on the “contraction” app: 60 seconds. 7-8 minutes apart. Hm, this could be it.

A. wakes at 5:30. “I think I’m having contractions,” I say. Nonchalant. We slowly get up, take a shower and pack our bags. I throw on a skirt. A. wakes ups my mother-in-law. “Is this it?” she says, beaming, in her pajamas. She hurries into the bathroom to get ready. I press my hands on the wall as I bear the peak of a contraction.

My best guy friend from college sleeps in the living room, his face buried in the dark brown couch. He has to catch a flight that morning from LAX. I eat a bowl of homemade granola in the dark kitchen.

I wander back toward the bedroom.

A.: “How are they now?”

He’s whispering. We’re in the hallway, near the bathroom.

Me: “Three minutes apart.” (I had one that was two apart, but didn’t tell A.)

A.: “Let’s go, I don’t want to deliver in the bathtub.”

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baby no. 2 and my fear of a desert hospital


When A. and I moved to the desert last year, to a small town with a regional hospital, A.’s coworker told us that a woman had died there in childbirth earlier that year. These stories are so rare that I was shocked, so I searched online for a newspaper article, but came up dry. Ever since, I’ve heard multiple stories about this incident. But the most solid one so far it that the woman was high-risk, overweight and needed a C-section, but waited too long against the doctor’s advice. It was a windy day — so windy that when she was bleeding, the staff couldn’t land a helicopter to fly her to another hospital. And the regional hospital didn’t have enough blood to replenish her.

When C. turned 18 months, I was ready to try for another baby — mostly. But I was a little nervous about what that meant for my delivery should we be successful. We tried, and we’re one of those freak (or lucky) couples that gets pregnant first try, each time. My morning sickness was more manageable this time, save for the desert heat, and I’ve treated this baby like the classic second baby: Haven’t given it much thought — no photos of my belly, no letters to the fetus, no stress.

Except, of course, where to deliver. I’ve been obsessed. We had such a good experience at Georgetown in D.C., and I felt like I was in expert hands, that anywhere in the countryside feels like I’ll be delivering in a barn. I made appointments at the local hospital and at one with a better reputation an hour and 15 minutes away. I’ve seen a fetal diagnostician in the other town, too. (The baby is due on my 37th birthday). But my local doctor wanted me to decide, now, at 20 weeks, because she’s “anal” and doesn’t want to miss anything. She told me to “pray on it or whatever I do” and let her know.

So, after much deliberation, I decided to stay in town. I decided to stay close in case this baby comes quickly. I decided to go with a doctor I trust, even if I don’t quite trust the hospital, because she’s thorough, conscientious and well-trained. I decided to continue to see the fetal expert, who last week told me the baby was “on the big side” and to come back at 28 weeks. And I decided to put faith and trust in my body that I’ll be OK. To stay fit, make good decisions and hope it’s not windy the day I deliver. It helps that I know at least 10 women who delivered there safely, successfully and (relatively) happily.

A friend asked me recently if I was excited about baby no. 2. It doesn’t seem real yet, but I have moments of heart-pumping excitement to meet this little person. And then I have moments where I’m dreading those first six months of no sleep, intense hormones and giving my body over to a wiggly, helpless creature. But right now, I’m just relieved I’ve made my decision about the hospital and can enjoy the little kicks and dream about whether C. will have a brother or sister.

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a taste of freedom in LA


Last Thursday, I went on my first solo overnight trip since C. was born (I know! 15 months is too long, but that whole nursing thing has gotten in the way). I had a doctor’s appointment at UCLA (all is well), and stayed with my friend S. in Venice beach. I had no idea how it would go, but a few things surprised me.

I was looking forward to some “me” time — but as I was driving south through the Mojave desert looking at desert brush, deserted trains and blue sky, my mind kept wandering to C. I kept getting visions of him cocking his head to the side and smiling so big you can see all of his six teeth and I was laughing to myself like a wacko in the car.

S. took me to get drinks at The Tasting Room. We had scotch and ginger drinks and saw the actor who played Charlotte’s bald Jewish husband on Sex in the City. He was shorter in person than on the screen, surprise surprise. And I felt a little bit old and a little bit frumpy and I didn’t care.

Then we had a 9 o’clock dinner at Gjelina, a hip restaurant that had more than an hour wait. We shared several tasty dishes and the vegetable list looked exactly like what I’ve been making at home from our farm box (which, trust me, is shocking) — kale, cauliflower, beets. And by 11, I was yawning incessantly. I guess that’s my new bedtime.

The next morning, after my doctor appointment, I found a brunch place in Santa Monica where I could sit outside next to a heat lamp, have a latte and breakfast burrito, and eavesdrop on the LA glitterati. I also took my writing notebook. But I spent the whole time talking with my sister-in-law about parenting. I also could see a bookstore from my seat: Books and Cookies. It was wholly for kids. So, of course, I went over and browsed the shelves and took mental notes of what they sell. I read so many kids books daily, that buying a new one is actually a treat for me so that I don’t lose my mind.

I think a night or two here and there away from C. is really healthy. What surprised me most is when I pulled onto our block, I actually had butterflies. When I walked in the door, I could hear bare toddler feet slapping on hardwood floors as C. ran to me calling “mama” and circled his chubby arms around my neck.

After I put him down for a nap, I tackled A. and held him tight and said: “Thank you for taking me to the desert.” Now that C. is almost fully weaned, my next night away from C. will be with A. I can’t wait.


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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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the attack of the ducks

Have you ever been scared of ducks? I mean, are ducks supposed to be scary? Geese, yes, but ducks?

I don’t know the answer to this. All I know is that I drove two hours to Bishop yesterday on a whim to explore a new area with C. (coffee shops! book stores!). It was warm and sunny and a good day for a long, quiet drive along the Eastern Sierras.


And once we got into town, after slurping on a green monster smoothy from the Black Sheep Espresso Bar and popping in a photography exhibit, I thought, “Hey, let’s go to the park and eat a chicken sandwich from Raymond’s Deli (the only one reviewed in Lonely Planet) and look at the mountains!”

And as I pulled into the parking lot, there was a brook about 20 feet from the curb and I said, “Look, C., ducks!” And he clucked. “No, not chickens, ducks!” And he clucked.

And we got out of the car, and I put C. down for a second to grab the sandwich and he was pointing at the ducks and walking blindly toward them, and he tripped over a cement block and turned and fell backwards and hit his head and and started wailing. And I picked him up with my right arm and had the sandwich in the other hand and I was walking toward the mini bridge to the playground when at least 50 ducks bee-lined for me. They were kicking fast in the water, waddling up the bank, onto the sidewalk, looking very intent and quacking like maniacs.

So I backed away, while holding my overtired, crying baby, feeling panicked that so many ducks were swarming me. I was sure they were going to nip at my ankles and turn all Zombie on me. I almost threw C. back in the car and locked the doors, but I realized, “I am 20 times the size of each of you strange creatures.” And so I backtracked through the parking lot — essentially crouching down behind the cars — as I made my way to a different bridge that would take me over the brook to the playground, where we ate our sandwich in peace.

All I can say is that it was INSANE. What ever happened to “Make Way for Ducklings”? Ducks are supposed to be sweet and relaxed. These ducks must be overfed by tourists and have an amazing sense of smell. When we go back to Bishop with A., I will not suggest a picnic at the park. Unless, of course, we decide to go feed the ducks.

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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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a cabin in the woods

A. and I talk all the time about how my dream house is in Maine. It sits on a cliff overlooking the ocean with bay windows and high ceilings so light can fill the rooms. There are dense woods in the backyard. The house has a furnished attic with a simple desk and a windowsill bench with lots of pillows — private, and a perfect place to write. It truly is a dream — I’ve never been to Maine. I concocted the house while reading some kids’ novel. I have no idea which one, but it doesn’t matter.

This weekend, A. and I met up with friends in Spruce Knob, West Virginia, for a climbing trip. Our friends found a two-bedroom cabin for seven us (plus two babies). And when A. and I arrived on Friday evening, the place took my breath away. It was nestled in the woods with high ceilings, wood beams and a bay window overlooking a deck and a fire pit.

S. and J. were sitting in the dimly-lit dining room, quietly putting together a 1,000-piece puzzle — something else I used to love to do as a kid. After I put C. down for the night, A. and I jumped in and the four of us drank red wine, ate my homemade chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies and worked different sections of the puzzle.

We finished it the next morning (and then I started on another). Other friends arrived, and some went climbing. I met them at the crag later in the afternoon with C., and got one climb in.

That evening, we sat around a fire roasting marshmallows while J. played Ryan Adams and the Beatles on the guitar. And I felt relaxed and happy.

Maybe someday A. and I will be able to build a house somewhere in the woods. I doubt will have enough money, but a girl can dream.

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