Tag Archives: pregnancy

getting ready for babe no. 3


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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throwing, throwing, throwing: my love of pottery keeps growing

I’ve mentioned before that I’m hooked on pottery, but this weekend it reached a fevered pitch as I tried to replicate vases and mugs from my last batch.


My lovely teacher Lois Hinman (click to see her work!) in Ridgecrest, Calif., always told me that she started selling her pots (decades ago!) because it’s an expensive hobby and she couldn’t take the money from her family. I’m starting to feel that way, too — each firing (including bisque and glaze) is close to $100, not to mention the clay and the glazes. And we don’t have enough cupboard space for all that I’m making!


So, now I’m thinking about how to sell — where, what that means, coming up with a plan, etc. Of course, I’m also 28 weeks pregnant  (entering that third trimester, yeesh!) and slowing down physically, so that will keep me from doing it anytime soon.


But, I like the idea of creating a plan and having inventory for when I’m ready to enter a show or put pieces up on Etsy. Maybe I’ll do it sooner than later, but given how tired and achy I’m starting to feel, I doubt much will happen before baby boy no. 3 is at least three months old.

IMG_7025What I love about the process is not only the physical act of throwing and creating useful, beautiful things, but also the challenge — starting a “business” is scary. And entering a show is scary. And I don’t even have a kiln yet. Once I get a kiln (after we move out of our rental) I can start to mix glazes. There is always, always more to learn with this craft. And I have a long way to go to be really good.


But the bottom line is I love it and that passion isn’t going away.


If you are a potter or artist with a small business and have any tips or suggestions along the way, I’d be grateful!


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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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a food transformation


I’m going through a massive transformation right now, and it’s not my bulging belly.

It started bubbling in me a year-and-a-half ago when C. was an infant and I made his baby food from scratch. Then, when he was a year old, we moved from D.C. to a town in California without any good restaurants. On our first day here, we picked up a farm box full of organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables. It was the first time I’d had a persimmon. Over time, I tried parsnips. Daikon radishes. Fresh lavender. We were bowled over by the green, leafy, full spinach. “This is the best spinach I’ve ever had,” A. said.

I started to teach myself how to cook and bake. In D.C., I ate carry out at least three times weekly, and met friends for brunch often. I let A. cook for me, and never cooked for friends because I was afraid I’d embarrass myself. But in the desert, I started cooking almost every meal — and mostly vegetarian because the meat and fish looked limp and slimy. I had disasters — including poisoning my family with raw beans and ruining a baking sheet that I used to broil pork — but over time, I improved.

Whole wheat carrot muffins

Whole wheat carrot muffins

I lost weight. And felt better. But I still craved sugar, and would make oatmeal cookies (still a major weakness) and buy daily chai lattes.

Then, about a month ago, the doctors were concerned I had gestational diabetes. I scored a 134 on my one-hour screening test — a marginal score, but my doctor ordered a three-hour test. Also, the baby, at 28 weeks, was in the 65th percentile but its belly was in the 86th percentile and my amniotic fluid was on the high side — all signs of diabetes. I took the three-hour test and passed. Since then, I’ve had two non-stress tests and my amniotic fluid is normal.

In the meantime, I investigated a diet for gestational diabetes. I started to really think — in a much deeper way — about the food I’m putting in my body. Our bodies — along with our relationships — are the most important assets we have. And we often abuse them.

moosewoodNow I’m reading about healthy eating and staving off diseases and preserving our bodies into old age so that we’re happy and healthy. Along with regular exercise, it means mostly eating (pesticide-free) fruits and vegetables. Getting Omega-3s (there is scant fish here, so I get it in flaxseed for now). Drinking a ton of water. Eating a lot of fiber. Cutting back — or eliminating — sugar. Eating whole grains — brown rice, quinoa, bulgur. It means discovering ingredients I’ve never considered before — like miso, tahini, wheat germ, barley. It means considering — really considering — everything I ingest.

I’ve picked up several cookbooks from the library, including Moosewood Cooking for Health (black bean veggie burgers! butternut squash whole wheat pasta! roasted beet salad!), and have several on request, including by Annie Somerville, Alice Waters, Yotam Ottolenghi, Heidi Swanson and Deborah Madison. I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about her family’s adventure of living off of their garden, chickens, fruit trees and local producers for a year. And I’m feeling inspired to start a garden, get involved with local growers and cook healthy meals for my family every day. I finally have the time and energy to research healthy eating and cooking — and turn what I learn into a lifetime of eating well.


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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 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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when long-held dreams slowly morph into reality

OK, I’m starting to get uncomfortable. Some of those side-effects of pregnancy — that I won’t get into here because, well, they’re embarrassing and I have friends who want to get pregnant — are starting to kick in.

Yesterday, A. found me in the bathtub after work trying to soothe my over-sized body and said, “Is it go time?” His face looked so bright, it made me smile. Later, he was sure he felt a contraction as we cuddled on the couch together, listening to Chopin. And then another a while later. “OK, contractions are 20 minutes apart,” he said, joking. Maybe it was a contraction — I did tighten up, but there was no pain. I think A. is trying to will this baby out of me.

Ten days till my due date. Is it strange to say that it still blows my mind we’re having a baby? That there’s a full-sized baby inside of me? I guess I won’t believe it’s real until I’m looking into my son’s or daughter’s eyes.

I’ve always dreamed about being pregnant, about having a newborn. One picture I had in my mind is of lying on a full bed with my partner and baby in a small studio apartment (in my mind it’s New York) listening to classical music with the city noises below (such a strange, romantic snapshot — mostly cause now I don’t imagine us in New York and I’m really glad that we have a two-bedroom.)

But after more than 20 years of various dreams, the reality that I’m about to give birth — even as I feel a leg push under my left rib cage — is really hard to grasp. Exciting, but still mind blowing.

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baby o. still needs a name

A. and I still don’t have names for Baby O. When we tell people this, they say, “Oh, you probably just don’t want to tell me.” And then I say, “No, really, we don’t have names yet.” And then there is silence — people are really afraid for us and our baby.

Early on, like eons ago (three months), A. called the baby Carrie, after his favorite movie (we don’t even know the gender). Yes, the 1970s thriller Carrie, about a troubled, awkward girl who is voted homecoming queen at her high school. But then at the dance, her classmates rig a bucket of pigs’ blood above the stage so that when she’s crowned, the blood soaks her — to her horror and humiliation. So she goes nuts and burns down the school. Yes, that Carrie — that’s the movie A. wants to name our baby girl after (should we have a girl). I bought the DVD for A. for our first Christmas together. We watched it one cold Sunday in his Virginia apartment and laughed hysterically at the sound effects (ree ree). I had no idea it’s really a comedy. But to name our daughter after that movie seems to me… I dunno. Just wrong.

Then, as luck would have it, when A. heard his mom say Carrie with a New Jersey accent, he said, “OK, no, no, can’t go with that.” [Thank you, Vikki!] That was more than two months ago.

Since then, A. adopted the named Cholula (have I mentioned we don’t know if it’s a boy or girl?), after his favorite hot sauce. A. started dousing all of his food in Cholula when he was in Afghanistan, and has been addicted ever since. He even puts it on plain Greek yogurt (I just gagged as I typed that.)

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holy shit, i’m almost full-term

36 1/2 weeks

In a few days, I’ll be full-term — the baby’s organs will be fully developed and he or she — in all of his or her wriggling, red-faced, squeamish glory — will be able to breathe on its own should it decide it’s tired of the womb.

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me — but holy shit, I’m almost full-term.

These days, I’m having trouble putting on my socks. I often dribble liquids on my protruding belly and look down at the mess like a 3-year-old. I can hear myself breathing hard just sitting at my desk. And when A. and I lie down in our king-size bed, snuggled up on either side of the body pillow, our faces inches away from each other, I can feel my heart pounding twice as hard as it usually does. Dr. M. said it was nothing to worry about — that even at rest, my heart is working as hard as if I was working out.

Most evenings now, A. and I have “story time,” where he leans down to where the doctor says the baby’s head is, and tells him or her a story. He talks to my whale-sized swollen belly, kissing it and rambling about the day’s events. It’s so cute, I should record it. I always try to stifle my laughs so that they don’t drown out his voice — I want this baby to recognize its father’s voice. But can the baby really hear him? I wonder what the baby senses or feels.

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who am i? who will i be?

Over the years, I’ve heard people say that when you have a child, you have trouble remembering what life was like — and who you were — pre-baby. The little tyke becomes so integrated in your life, and everything changes — including you. I don’t know what this means, and I suppose I can’t know what this means till it happens to me.

But with about 5 weeks (or maybe 7, we’ll see if  I go past my due date!) to go till the little nugget starts spiraling his or her head downward to enter the world, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

I mean, it’s obvious that our routines and rituals will change when A. and I have a little one totally dependent on us for his or her basic needs.

Here are some of the things I loved pre-pregnancy (some I can do, some I haven’t been able to, but it’s been OK). I love making morning coffee with my Italian espresso maker (this was replaced by a different warm drink yesterday) and sitting somewhere quiet with a book or the New Yorker. I love getting pedicures once a month.  I love long walks or runs with my friend S. through Rock Creek, followed by a hearty brunch. I love hiking and camping in the woods and the smell of fresh air — and stopping at holes-in-the-wall for grub and noticing the locals. I love yoga classes and volleyball and bike rides. I love the feel of buying a plane ticket to somewhere adventurous — skiing in Colorado, hiking in Peru — and the anticipation leading up to the trip. I love photography and hearing writers speak and going to National Geographic events. I love learning about different cultures and learning languages — even if it’s just “hello” and “thank you.” I love long, hot showers and sleeping in on the weekends.

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