Friday, October 19, 2012

different love.

I was talking to a friend casually about adjusting to life as a family of four. "It's different with the second, isn't it?" She asked with a warm smile. It is different on almost every level imaginable, but some things are easy to explain. I'm not scared anymore. I trust he will live. I don't run out of the shower soaking wet or drop my fork when I hear a single cry. Sometimes it's a single cry. Gas or something. And I can wash the soap out of my hair or finish shoveling down that curry.
Very quickly, quite naturally my friend and I were talking about loving our children differently.
Loving my daughter is an experience in intensity. She always cried. She seemed to be eternally suffering as an infant. A sensitive infant grew into a spirited independent toddler. "She's so funny." I add. Because I feel that every part of her character is like a coin. It is the same stubborn desire that leaves her desperate to get into every pantry and closet to take out every box of cereal and shoe to explore to that drives her to explore every toy and leaf and rock. That same trait I find so maddening I am in hopeless adoration of. The sensitivity that leaves her howling nearly every time I shut her on the other side of the baby gate is the generosity of spirit that inspires to her kiss her baby brother endlessly murmuring "It's okay baby. It's okay." Just as I do with her when she cries.
When Wendy was an infant loving her was like loving a baby bird that had fallen out of a nest. She was tiny and red faced, and often seemed surprised and frightened. I can still hear her colicy cries which I would cry along with. I can still remember feeling flushed and sweaty and anxious as she still screamed the house down at 3 months, and 6 months, and a year, and 18 months. She always seemed to be unhappy, overstimulated, or in pain, and I was powerless to help her. All I could do was try to soothe her, and honestly I had no idea if it made any difference to her. And finally at 20 months... peace. And she began to repeat the utterances I had said to her so many sleepless nights. "Oh, it's okay baby. I know baby I know." Now she says it to me, to her father, to her little brother. Like a testament to patience and endurance in parenting. But I still love her with a ferocity and possessiveness that a situation like that inspires.
In my second pregnancy I was worried at times how I could love another baby as much as I loved Wendy, and then I wondered if I would have a baby who was not quite so high need as Wendy. Would I love them more? How could I live with myself in my own head if I loved one of babies more than the other?
And then came Benji. Loving my son is pure tenderness. I have never encountered a more placid creature. He nurses and naps. He rarely cries mostly cooing and grunting to express his wants. He seems content to wait patiently as needed. He loves a good snuggle and sleeping on my chest. His cries are usually brief and followed by a hilariously juicy sounding fart. I love him like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer. He seems to lower my blood pressure with his snuggles. I love him gently.
I never imagined it would be this simple. Loving them is easy. I love them just like I vowed to love my husband when we married.
"because of who they are and not in spite of it."
And I know them. And I love them. Fiercely. Genuinely. Gently. Always. There is no comparing. It is like asking myself if I love the sun more than the moon. ridiculous.
"It's easier for mothers who can admit they love them differently." She said. I believe her.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

postpartum what the fuck?

If being newly pregnant was a bit overwhelming, being newly UNpregnant is fantastically disorienting. If it were not for this delightful newborn child and my husband having over a month of paternity leave I would be furious with the arrangement.
I believe in nature. It's amazing. My body knows exactly how to grow my children, how to birth them, and how to nurse them. But my faith in my intelligent design gets a little foggy in the postpartum period. I am vulnerable. My emotions are all over the place. I am bleedy, and leaky, and chubby, and my ass hurts. I may never stop using flushable moist wipes, but that ode to wipe deserves it's own post. Happily no one is really looking at me. So if my pad or my breasts spring a leak or I start crying or being really foul most people are happy enough to say "Ohhhh, a cute baby. In a bear suit!" and move right along. Bless their hearts.
But what am I to do with myself?
Well as a bass line. EAT. eat food. nourishing food, comforting food, and my placenta. After I ran out of smoothie-able placenta I thawed the placenta in my freezer from my nearly 2 year old's birth. It didn't seem right to blend something so much older so I've spent the day steaming, slow roasted, and crushing my placenta into a powder. Given the option, if I ever have another placenta I'm inclined to eat I will absolutely put in the a smoothie. Steamed/slow roasted placenta smells exactly like quiche. It will be a very, very, very long time before I want another quiche. To say I'm put off is an understatement. Alternately, a placenta smoothie is ... well like a regular smoothie. I'm deeply suspicious of Jamba Juice these days, because seriously it tastes just the same .. placenta or not.
And emotionally, when I was drinking the placenta shakes I was feeling really well. After I finished them I started feeling like I might expect a new mother of two under two might feel at times.
Occasionally tired, weepy, and sweaty.
Here is hoping the placenta pills work just as well to perk up my spirits. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The birth of Benjamin Joseph

The end of my pregnancy felt familiar. I was tired. Tired in a way I had never thought of being tired. Sometimes I put off going to the bathroom, again, because getting up felt like an involved project. I was scared I'd never feel like myself again. I'd had irregular uncomfortable practice contractions since twenty weeks into my pregnancy, but now they were a constant companion. My contractions were just regular enough to make me terribly anxious to get to 36 weeks and be cleared for a home birth. At 36 weeks exactly my husband went through a trial run setting up our birth tub, and I bobbed in it for awhile. I felt sure I'd be logging some hours in that tub very soon.
At 37 weeks I woke up on a Monday with naggy, achy contractions. I tried to ignore them, but my midback tightened with contractions. I was at a loss. I knew what back labor felt like. For me, back labor felt a vice on my back with every contraction, and it felt hard to breathe. This wasn't that, but it was disagreeable. By Tuesdays morning I called my midwife, Dania for advice and she suggested we bump up our Friday appointment just to be sure. I made an extra appointment with my chiropractor, and the discomfort in my back was all but gone. At my midwife's suggestion Joe set up our birth tub again, and it soothed my lingering back pain. Dania and I decided a cervical check could give us some information of where I was with things. I was at 3 c.m. and contracting regularly, but I was not very uncomfortable and baby was still very high. We made another appointment for next Friday, and I promised to call if things changed.
Contractions were not very painful, but I could not sleep through them. Wednesday and Thursday dragged along uncomfortable and anxious. Contractions were too regular for me really look after my toddler or drive, so Joe called into work. I felt distracted and grouchy. I'd just read Ina May's spiritual midwifery, and I wanted to be happy in my labor. I tried to be present. To enjoy the last moments of pregnancy. But I couldn't stop thinking "this could go on FOREVER." with a sense of dread. I knew I was being irrational, but I had not slept in days.
Thursday night my contractions picked up and required more of my attention. I called my midwife, and she came. I was at 5 c.m. and we called my brother in law and his girlfriend. And then things fizzled out. Contractions went back their same naggy level of intensity, and I knew we still had a ways to go. By Friday at my request we tried a few membrane sweeps and herbal tinctures to try and urge labor along, but it didn't seem to help so that evening I resigned myself to an eternity of sleepless nights and not-too-uncomfortable labor. I sent everyone home, and ate a box of bear claws my mother in law has throughtfully brought over. Saturday was another anxious day. I felt at times like climbing the walls. I tried to be joyful, and then I felt frustrated, and then I started the cycle again. That night I threw up and cleared out my bowels in a fantastic fashion. Now I couldn't hold down food or sleep. I felt good and properly sorry for myself. I cried, and realized that nothing I could do could change anything. No shift in attitude would magically bring my labor on harder. I needed to surrender to this experience.
Sunday was more of the same. Sunday night I talked with Joe. I cried because the world felt very big, and I felt very small. I cried because I was tired. I cried because I wanted my baby to meet people who had died before he was born. I cried because my support people had gone home. I sent Joe to bed to get some rest, and did a few deep squats and circled my hips. I prayed. I told my baby I was on his or her time. That I would lean into my contractions. That I would make it as easy on him or her as I was able. I felt really uncomfortable, and my hips were tired of doing squats.
I distinctly remember thinking, "fuck it. I don't want to be in active labor anyway. I'm too damn tired. I'm going to bed."
And I had a few weird dreams between my naggy contractions. In my half slumber I made plans to visit my chiropractor again. And I woke up with a weird pop sensation. I was reasonably sure I'd peed the bed. I patted the sheets, and indeed.. urine. Labor was so damn humbling. I stumbled to the bathroom, but I hurt all over. I wondered if labor had finally picked up, but I felt so suspicious. I ran the bath without turning on the cold tap. Just boiling water. And it was not easing these contractions. They felt so heavy. I shook Joe awake, telling him he needed to add hotter water to the birth tub. He suggested I call Dania, but I was tired of bothering people with false alarms. I just moaned and moaned. I told my baby they were doing good. I told myself I was having my baby. I told myself I was strong. And then I realized I was having my baby. This was not labor. Not transition. These were honest push contractions. "Call. Dania. Please. Tell her to drive fast?" I'd had a premature urge to push with my first baby that lasted for the better part of a day, and I knew what to do. I crawled out of the tub, because I was starting to feel faint. I was putting so much energy into trying not to push my baby out. I breathed a lot of rapid puffy breaths, and then I heard a really, really, lovely sound. My midwife was coming in. My grunting had woken my bigger baby, and my husband had put on a TV show for our toddler to watch. I could hear the strains over happy music teaching simple morals. "keeeep tryingggg... don't give up! you'll get it right!" I started yelling at my baby in my belly, "Okay, out. out. out. please!" And my midwife said I could push when I was ready. I asked her to check that I really was complete, and I was. I pushed, and my waters broke with a fantastic splash. I only pushed for eight minutes and Benjamin Joseph was born pink, and fat, and completely lovely. I had been just a little anxious I may experience another shoulder dystocia like I had with my daughter, so I chose to push in a hands and knees position again. Benjamin had no dystocia, but my enthusiastic pushing and his hand by his face caused some minor tearing.
BennyJoe is named for my brother in law and my husband- my favorite men in the world. He was quick to nurse, and very mild in temperament. Birthing my placenta was easy and fast. I felt rather light headed afterwards, and spent a while laying on my kitchen floor drinking gatorade, orange juice, and getting some oxygen while Joe snuggled our new baby. Soon I was tucked into bed with my new baby and Joe got our daughter back to bed. She is completely enamored with her little brother, and tandem nursing beautifully.
Recovery has been mildly more challenging with after pains, and keeping after an infant and toddler, but I feel very strong and joyful.
As part of my recovery I've chosen to eat my placenta, something I had only joked about in the past. I tossed small pieces of it raw into a smoothie each day. I feel this has contributed to my quick healing and general sense of well being.
I am overwhelmed with my gratitude for my husband, my midwife Dania, and her assistant Allison.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I'm really, really, really tired. Bone tired. I keep thinking of yoga classes where you were supposed to root yourself into the earth. I feel damn good at that right now.
The part that is really getting me is play.
I'm a lot tired to play. I'm a lot tired to clean the house. Even shopping or errends feel so monumental I can't manage it without a buddy system.
The play part is the worst. My baby needs me to play, and I need I can't. Or I think I can't. Babies are really good at crying. It's how they let you know they need you in that impossible to ignore or put off away. And Wendy has perfected an aching, growling, "Ahh-agg-Ahh." That she uses to make me move. And lately I say, "No." "Don't." "Stop." A lot. I say it so much I can hear myself in my head.
"No, my hair."
"No, gentle with the cats."
"Stop! that's sharp."
or sometimes just, "NO!" like a bark.
And I'm ashamed, because she has started to say "No, no, no, no."
In her highchair with a banana happily munching, it's "noooo, noooo, nooo."
In the carseat it's all, "nay... nay... nooo... nay.. nooooo, now."
And a hot shame burbles inside me.
She deserves me. And I push inside, and try to make it until I make it. I try to make energy where there just isn't any. And it all ends in, "no."
And I want to say, "YES." real, real, bad.

I'm buying some new toys. If we're laying on the floor it should be a little more fun. And a baby gate. I don't know what I'll do what all the hours I currently spend saying "No cat litter." "No cat food. I just fed you! Why always the cat food!?" "No toilet! ew!"

And the idiotic part, is that no wears me out. That cry of frustration and boredom makes me want to cry too. And some very wise part of me just knows in a really deep and profound way that play would be so much easier than No, no, no. and it's constant lazy redirections. She gets so bored and angry and powerless than she lashes out and headbutts me. I'm not mad at her, but I'm disgusted at the situation.

I know we need help. I'm reaching out in that really vulnerable way, and I feel like I'm coming up short. I'm asking for coffee dates, which is like morse code for "please! I need to see an adult today! someone tell me I'm okay. that I'm still okay. That my daughter will be okay. that she'll learn more than mama, dada, hello, and NO."

But at some stages you have to be your own hero. It will make you stronger.

I'm growing another person. I'm raising up my daughter. I'm falling behind on my laundry. I'm not compromising. I'm looking for real friends. That doesn't happen overnight.

and it's a devastatingly lonely business. after awhile I wonder if it's just Chico. Just me. Just my standards. But as I liked to say, if the whole world seems crazy-maybe it's you? I keep thinking of moving. Somewhere where people know me. Where they might like it. I'm just at a loss to exactly where that is.

I've lived in a lot of places. Some take longer to settle in than others. This is by far the longest.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Easiest Pillowcase Dress EVER.

Today I made Wendy a dress while she napped, and when I mentioned that to a friend she said she could never figure the arms out. There are 1 million or so pillowcase dress tutorials, but I'd like to throw one more on the pile. This is so easy, perfect for spring, and unlikely to fall apart. And I don't mean "easy if you're hella good at sewing" I mean if you can do real simple sewing on a machine you can probably bang this baby out in an hour and have a pretty sweet dress for someone teeny in your life. Pillowcase dresses are the bomb, because they're so light, comfy, and adjustable for "holy crap did you grow, TODAY?"
So, on with the show.
Oh, and when I say easy I totally mean it. I did the first one during a nap and whipped up this tutorial while I was holding, snuggling, wearing, and generally attending to my little model.
Step one: troll your linen closet, mother's linen closet (with permission!!) and local thrift stores. I cry not to spend more than a buck on a pillowcase.
So, lay out your truly epic RAINBOW CAT pillowcase, Revel in your score. Try to avoid sideways prints if you have a need for order. (I don't.)
cut off the bottom third.. ish.
I have a long and skinny child (20+ lbs and 30+ inches) so I take in the width about an inch. I do a straight stitch and then a zig-zig to reinforce it,
trim the excess.
now you turn the dress "right-side out" and made sure the only seam falls down the middle of the back.
now you want to fold your dress in half, ensuring the seam is still up the middle of the back.
Cut out your arm holes. You'll want them much "longer" than wide, because you'll be making a wide hem across the top soon...
It's starting to look like something, eh?
very, very slowly fold in and hem the arm holes. pins seem to make this harder. just go slowly. I like to stitch this, and then stitch again so it's nice and sturdy. This never looks too awesome, but it's quick and not noticeable.
fancy! we're getting somewhere!
now you want to fold the top down about an inch an add a seam there. your straps will slide through here so DO NOT SEAL THIS UP. repeat on the back.
Now pull out your scrap... deary me NOT the dress you've been sewing. and cut a two inch bit off the bottom.)
snip the seam so it is no longer a "loop" but a nice long 2" strip of fabric.
turn your strip inside out. add a straight stitch and reinforce with a zig-zag.

now you add a safety pin and slowly wriggle this strap "right-side-out" using the safety pin as your guide.
When your strap is "right-side-out" you should fold then length in half and chop it. Tuck your ends in and hem your two straps.
looking good.
now use your safety pin to start feeding your first strap through. Then do the back.
Okay. good.
Do a tidy double knot or a little bow. Your call.
in action!
these are super easy to make and for less than a dollar each I made Wendy a drawer full for Spring. Because these dresses are so adjustable measurements can be sort of fast and loose. Once you've made a few you'll know just how long and wide you like your dress. If you're in a hurry you can skip the straps and use ribbon. Or thread one long strap through the front and back tying over one shoulder. Fancy it up with ribbon. Use "real" fabric instead of pillowcases. The variations are seemingly endless.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Dear blog,
today I have a wild thing. and every min0r redirection results in her gnashing of claws, rolling of eyes, and screaming terrible screams. She's also walking a lot lately, so she pinches my terrible thighs. They're right at that pinching height I guess. So, if you see me in a pair of shorts I'm not that kinky or anemic. Just yanoo, I'm in the way of a tiny angry person.
so when say something like, "Hey, that cat already scratched you for slapping her today. How 'bout we read a book?" She hits me with a book and gets right back to cat molesting.
What can I say? I appreciate her tanacity. She's got spunk. And I feel like a real asshole. I can explain it in two parts.
1) I was trying to clean something. Which was stupid. So she stuck her hand in the cat box, and I used my cross voice. She made this really quivery lip, and oh my.. I've never felt worse. Mean, nasty mama prefers you do not fondle cat poo.
2) also I'm starting to get amused by all her whiny, angry fussing. Because she doesn't seem to be sick or hurt. She just gets REALLY pissed whenever she tries some big new developmental thing. I get that. Sometimes I want to throw the wiimote when I just can't beat a mario level. I don't, but that took years of social grooming. So, I just smile privately and say, "Yeah! those stacky cups! they ARE THEY SO HARD!?" and then when she has moved on to something else I hide them for another week or two. She'll get there.
So, if she's going to be really angry anyway I've decided to put energy into rearranging the house, washing the curtains, spakling things. You know, sanity savers. For me anyway.
and #3? I think we're on 3? whatever.
trying to write an adult email. And telling someone my child sleeps like a LAMP. Indeed she does. a lamp that twiddles my nipple all night, and nothing will make her stop. I could write a hugely long whiny blog just about that, but she only twiddled for like 4 hours last night and I don't want the Gods to think me ungrateful. And also, I am actually very grateful, because for awhile NOTHING would make her sleep before 3 a.m. and we were seriously worried about everyone's safety. Like, what if I pass out from exhaustion and she starts cooking some eggs and burns the house down? Happily with a flexible-ish routine, a way too indulgently expensive baby wrap, a yoga ball, a bunch of bedtime stories, and the repeated SHUSHSHUSHSHUSH sound, TWO white noise machines, darkness, no TV ever, and stuff she will consistently go to sleep by midnight. Sometimes earlier. What can I say? I'm rockin' it.
So, when I cannot send a coherent email... I blog. Lucky you. All ten readers. Bless you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One Year.

My Wee Beastie,
Wendy Bendy,
Friendly Wendy,
My Darling Little,
My itsy,
My Groundhog,
My Darling,
Wendy-is-already climbing things.
I'm so glad I've been able to share the first year of your life with you. Nearly all parenting cliches are true now. I feel so obscenely lucky to be graced with your teething, cat-smothering, throwing on the floor self. You have a few nubs of promise, but no real teeth. Despite that you seem intent to eat through a hefty budget monthly-blueberries are your favorite. I can only hope you'll still love them so much when they come into season.
You walk. A little. And carry things. And to me, you look like you're about to take flight the way you move in that fantastic improbable way. You get yourself stuck between the couch and wall. You pull out all the books and hit me with them if I don't read them quick enough. You insist on the Babies book AGAIN AND AGAIN. You play the harmonica, the drum, the tambourine, an egg shaker, and the xylophone. You love baths. You can do a summersault. You always sneak on the bed when I make it, and I let you, because your laugh is hilarious. I'm learning how to play with you. How to stretch myself. How to nurse you ALL NIGHT and wake up ready t0 play. Which cries mean "HELP!" and which mean "DAMNIT THE CAT JUMPED ON THE TABLE!"
I'm hopelessly in love with you.
Last night you WALKED away from me. It was innocent enough, but I cried.
Because I need to let you. Again and again. Because you're growing up.
Happy Birthday little one.*
I love you.
Your Mom.

*This post has been a month in the writing. Life has been "like that" lately.