Thursday, May 28, 2009

We are now technically one month from the due date...

Dear dear neglected blog! So sorry to abandon you for over a week, but I have busy with various things, including hanging out with Kelli who's in town from Providence, enjoying the most wondrous four-day excursion to Ruby and John's paradise in Healdsburg, and navigating some new and not-so-awesome preg effects. I feel like things have changed much in the past few weeks and it's hard to know where to start. Basically, we're in the home stretch now. As in, this baby's coming soon, and I'm feeling it. And that's actually a good place to start...

  • We saw Amrit last Thursday, and after a great visit (during which we went over the finer points of what to expect when labor begins, when to call her, what to prepare for, etc) it was time to feel the baby. When she went to feel Ivy's head, she couldn't find it (I was only worried that she'd somehow become headless for about .2 seconds)—then she moved her hands down further, pressed deeper and deeper into my pelvis, and said aha (or something like that). Then she looked at us and said Well. I think we're having this baby sooner than we think! And Jason and I said oh really?!? Basically, Ivy is very, very low, very much in the ready-to-be-born position, and Amrit thinks this indicates that she'll probably come sooner than June 28th, the Official EDD (which we've always found to be somewhat spurious, based as it is on the first day of my last period, and not when we think we actually conceived). Amrit was careful to point out that you never know, and that Ivy could just be incredibly well organized and prepared, and might stick around for a while. But! She also predicts that this will NOT be a July baby, and that as of, say, June 7th or so, we should have all our ducks in a row and be prepared for the Big Day. I feel great about all this, and was happy to learn yesterday that we can get our birth tub a week earlier (June 7th in fact). Just in case. It's worth mentioning here that the psychic mystic hippies that Jason and I met in the woods in Hawaii in December (the ones who told me it's a girl and sang crazy blessing chants to my belly) also told us that "I'm more pregnant than I think" and that we're "having this baby sooner" than the end of June. And I kind of intensely believe in those two trippy stoner women. (If they're right, I'm flying back to the Big Island and getting some more life predictions...)
  • The day after this visit, Jason and I headed up to Healdsburg to see Ruby, John, Julia, and Todd, and to help prepare for the weekend. I met up with them at the Future Farmers of America Fair, and we wandered around admiring baby animals and livestock (no fear of swine flu amongst the FFA crowd!); Julia and Todd were thrilled to have joined John and Ruby on the Healdsburg Fire Dept. truck in the FFA parade the previous day. (Especially Todd, who handed out candy to innocent children whilst sporting his scruffy beard and Truck Stop Spirit Animal t-shirt.) And then we went back to Ruby's, where I remained in a state of utter awe and joy for the next several days. Let me just say: RUBY AND JOHN CAN THROW A PARTY. I mean, really. REALLY. Ruby's party prep skills, her attention to detail, the generosity that those two possess...it's all unreal. Their house looked gorgeous, the pizza oven was all ready to go, there was an unbelievable amount of delicious food, and everything was so freaking organized and well-orchestrated. The muddled cocktail bar was ready to go, the veggies were grilled and arranged just so, the dips and spreads and breads were ready. And the sweet, thoughtful touches were everywhere—the personalized Ivy Cat growth chart that Ruby got us; the 'Open Letters to Ivy Cat' notebooks that were set out for people to write letters in (and they did, and I've read them, and I've cried); the onesies hung up on a clothesline with stenciled letters on them that spelled out I V Y C A T...So so so wonderful. Aubs and Mali joined us and everyone pitched in and helped set up, food prep, beer drink, etc. Julia and Todd hung stuff, replaced sod, and did all kinds of other epic yardwork. I helped by napping and drinking water and peeing. I also made pizza dough and we did some trial runs in the oven. And then Saturday rolled around, and the fog burned off around noon, exposing glorious magical sun. Our guests began to arrive around 1 (clad in sweaters and flannels, for it was weirdly freezing down in the Bay) and by around 3 we were grilling pizzas and playing Baggo (courtesy of Lara and Mitch, who always roll with the fun lawn sports) and it was this amazing gathering of some of my favorite people ever, all relaxing and hanging and drinking and eating and being happy and sweet and awesome. Erin and Scott came over with Baby Trent, who is 3 weeks old and so tiny and cute and we got to do some holding and cradling and ogling and 'whoa this is gonna be us!' The dogs were in heaven, racing around and exploring the river. The pizzas were incredible; my favorite was a sweet pizza with peaches, strawberries, candied nuts, honey, and goat and blue cheese. OMG. The muddled cocktail bar was ridiculous, and excellent for non-boozers too—I think my fave there was muddled cilantro and basil w/ lime juice, jalapeno, and mango juice. So we played and played all day, watched some Lakers, ate and ate and ate and ate, sat around the firepit, and adored each other. I crashed early, and many guests stayed in Tent City, which was set up in the back. Sunday kicked off with a mind-blowing brunch featuring my favorite foccacia ever from Downtown Bakery that Ruby special-ordered, because she's a magical gem of a friend, and there were amazing scrambled eggs and guac a la Julia, and salsa a la Chuck, and breakfast potatoes (BEST EVER) a la John, and pastries and fruit and juice and champagne and aaaaahhhhhhh. And then! More hanging! River time! Tri-tip BBQ lunch in the redwood grove! More Baggo! Lounging in the sun! Nap! Yes. Most folks departed late Sunday afternoon, and by Sunday night it was down to the core crew. We were completely exhausted and flopped on the couch to watch sports (to John's chagrin) and Ricky Gervais' stand-up DVD (to John's giddy delight). Ruby made us YET ANOTHER meal and we all passed out early. The following morning involved another huge breakfast (we went out, this time), more lounging and friend-appreciating, and then we finally tore ourselves away and headed home. It really was such an incredible time, a little wedding reunion with the same wondrous vibes of love and appreciation. And again, the thing that makes me so happy: seeing my friends be friends with each other, watching them connect and talk and enjoy each other as much as I enjoy them. Despite our no-gift request, some people couldn't resist, and brought the loveliest, sweet things. Ivy will be so psyched on her Santa Cruz onesie and hoodie, her Made in California t-shirt, her bird song book, her whale mobile, her wooden rattle, her soft green blanket, her apple-printed swaddling blanket, her gorgeous white cotton dress, her pigeon onesie, and everything else. (And I will be psyched on the nursing pads—thanks Erin!) Everyone wrote the sweetest letters to Ivy in the notebooks, and I felt so loved and supported and excited to bring this child into such an amazing community of people. She will have no shortage of doting aunties and uncles, that's for damn sure. It also felt great to have the chance to spend time with friends before we kind of disappear for a while...after this weekend, which is Shower #2, in San Jo, I think we're gonna be ready to begin to retreat, to slow down, to rest up. Not that we're going into hiding, but it'll be time to retract a bit, to hunker down...
  • Which does bring me to the fact that, after months and months of total bliss and close to zero complaints, I'm finally starting to, well, feel it. The PUPPP is getting better and is going away, and though I've found a few itchy spots on my hip, they don't bug me that much, and don't seem to be expanding or spreading. I exposed the belly to a lot of sun over the weekend, and I think it was good for the PUPPP. But I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping, as I wake up and my hips hurt and my body feels all tense and sore and I have to turn from side to side constantly. HOWEVER, the past two nights have been great, thanks, I think, to swimming and hiking on Tuesday, and to the amazing bodywork that Kim did on me last night. She worked the sh*t out of my hip joints, really dug in there and ooooo it hurt, but I breathed through it, knowing it was worth it, and I woke up today feeling great. I might need her to come over every night...But in general, I'm slowing down a lot. After too much exertion (and by exertion I mean walking around the house, bending down once or twice, getting up from a seated position, etc. Not like actual exertion) I get pretty intense Braxton-Hicks contractions and have to chill for a bit. I went for a hike with two new pregs on Tuesday, Leila and Maria, both of whom are due end of July (along with every other preg I know, except Kate H!), and they were both jetting along and I was Slowy McSlowerson, with my groin pain and crampy leg. I felt like a jaded old lady, all oh you just wait until you're 36 weeks along, you'll feel it then kiddo! (Despite lagging, it was a great hike, with two delightful new preg friends and Leila's sweet dog Sammy, who was a good companion for Buzz) Anyway. Groin pain! Got it. She's all over my pelvis, and I'm feeling that. Sometimes I get twinge-y pains in my groin/pelvis, which could be from her grinding her head on my pubic bone I believe. Again, I'm not in any major pain, nor is anything consistently uncomfortable, and I am certainly not miserable. But I am feeling this. I am definitely definitely very pregnant. I am definitely having this baby soon.
  • On that note, her movements are totally insane and alien-like and kind of freaky and she does this thing I call Serpent Elbow, or Serpent Foot, where she pushes against my side and it looks like a damn serpent under my skin, some kind of alien monster snake rising up and trying to escape the prison of my belly. As I've said before, I love feeling her move around, but jesus, it really freaks me out sometimes. It's also becoming uncomfortable, as she gets bigger and stronger—I'm getting rib jabs now, and if she doesn't like the way I'm sleeping, she lets me know by pummelling me until I roll over. She has opinions! I love it. Really, I do.
  • And in closing, this weekend is Shower #2, at my parents' place, and I am thrilled for this one too. Family and family friends will be in effect, including Liza and Madeleine, who are coming down from Seattle for the occasion. Uncle Howard's in from Park City, which is fantastic (we had to ensure him that there will be beer and other men present) and Jason's dad and stepmom and mom are all coming in too. Doug's been working hard on the yard, beautifying it extensively, and Barb is planning away. As with Ruby's shower, there will be little to no 'shower-y' elements, just friends and family and food and drink and lots and lots of love and excitement.
  • Finally, I f*cking LOVE nectarines right now. If you love me, buy me a nectarine. Have a truckload of nectarines delivered to my house. Plant a mature, fruiting nectarine tree in my bedroom. Plant an orchard. They are so so so good.
  • P.S. Shower pics coming soon! The ones Julia took are best, so I'm waiting for her to put 'em up on Flickr...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PUPPP n stuff

Behold, my PUPPP. Or, my pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. (If I lived in the UK, you would be beholding my PEP: polymorphic eruptions of pregnancy). Basically, in layman's terms, it's a skin rash that some preg women get in the 3rd trimester that is harmless to mama and baby but itchy as f*ck. It starts on the belly and sometimes spreads, and they are little red hive-like blistery things that you want to claw at, but you do not claw at them, because that would be bad. Instead you put expired Calamine on them, and a homeopathic topical goo that is soothing. And you take an oatmeal bath but realize once you get in that the part of your belly that has the PUPPP is the part of your belly that the water doesn't cover. So you awkwardly lie on your side, kind of, and then you kind of hunch over for a bit, and then you soak the washcloth in oatmeal-y water and lay it over the PUPPP and then you just sigh and get out. Anyway. A Google image search for PUPPP has assured me that I have nowhere near a bad case of this, as the pics that show up are hideous and horrendous and terrifying and make me pleased with my small rash that is, for now knock on wood, not spreading. Though I found one near my hip yesterday. Grrr. Again, it's harmless, I am not in any danger, I just have a lame rash that looks gross.

Luckily, I did my America's Next Top Pregnant Model photo shoot with the esteemed Meg Perotti, Photographer Extraordinaire last week (she did our awesome engagement photos too—she's pretty much our Official Life Photographer), in my pre-PUPPP days, back when my belly was marred only by my gallbladder scar (very PhotoShop-able). We had a great time taking the photos down in San Jo at Quicksilver Park, and, as always, I was/am so so impressed with her skills. Yay Meg!

In other news, I have a headache; I am endlessly excited for this weekend's Healdsburg shower (more on this tomorrow, when I don't have a headache); I had a dream that I saved my Senior Prom by taking over DJ duties and playing better music; Kelli arrives tomorrow night and this is very exciting; Rachel is now a Master of Urban Planning and I am very proud of her; I voted No on all the Props today; I am loving the Golden Bears record that Julianna sent us; Ivy kicks and punches and stretches every time I eat, and responds especially forcefully to strawberry ice cream; and though I did not understand the LOST season, I enjoyed it greatly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baby Tips Pt. 2

Last month I posted the first half of the baby tips that I received from various wise mamas after I sent out a call for suggestions as to what we might actually need during the first year vs. what we probably won't need/use/like. The responses were awesome and varied and I compiled them, w/ links, to share with others...Enjoy

BOOB n BOTTLE

• If you plan to breast feed La Leche League was a big help to me. There's someone in every area!
• I got one of these so I didn't have to say the word 'boppy'. Plus it’s bigger and smooshier:
• We use Born Free bottles and think they're great.
• 'My Breast Friend' was definitely not a friend, and a huge waste of $.
• Get a Boppy. But make sure it is the naked Boppy and buy a few slipcovers. Trust me on this one.
• Flat cloth diapers to use as burp cloths.
• A night bra. So much more comfortable than wearing a regular bra to bed and it will hold your breast pads in place in case the baby decides to sleep through a feeding and your body doesn't.
• I basically lived in Glamourmom nursing bra tanks for a couple years.
• Breast pads. For me, the only ones that worked were the Lansinoh.
• My Ameda Purely Yours breastpump worked great with all three kids. It was a huge relief at times. It is also less expensive than the Medela version.
• If you need a pump, I like my Pump In Style (and I got a used one from a friend that works just fine).
• I’ve heard great things about the Ameda pump. The Lansinoh double electric is the exact same pump, different name, and is sometimes available cheaper. I will say that if you have any supply issues (which I do), you'll want to start out with a hospital grade rental and then get a pump in style- they're just stronger. If you don't have any issues, the Ameda/Lansinoh should be fine, and is definitely cheaper.
• If you need milk bags, Lansinoh are the best- no leaks.
Lansinoh ointment: start rubbing it on your nipples a couple weeks *before* the baby is born, to get them ready. And apply it every time the baby nurses in the beginning, to keep nipples from cracking.

BOOKS
• I found the askdrsears website a real help. The Sears family has a whole arsenal of books, but the site is really comprehensive. I’m definitely not an attachment parenting nazi and I know it doesn't work for everyone. Some people can find their tone really chastening and the advice impractical. But Evie was a tough baby and I found their council really affirming.
• The only book I would recommend buying (versus getting from your library) is Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting. In the strange ways that parenting a child can feel like parenting yourself from time to time, I found this book intensely therapeutic.
• I recommend the book Super Baby Food for when you start introducing solids.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery

CARRIERS
Moby Wrap for under 6 months, Ergo carrier for over 6 months
• When the baby gets a little bigger, a backpack style carrier, like the Ergo is great for hiking, errands, walks, traveling -- we schlepped Bee around SE Asia in the Ergo. I can't recommend it enough.
• We went right from the Ergo carrier (which I LOVE and can't recommend enough) to the bike trailer.
• Ocean is six months, and we've never used her stroller. We wear her everywhere. I love my babyhawk (and they come in rad prints), but I’ve also heard great things about the Beco, which seems like it is easier for putting on/off while on the go.
• Evie pretty much lived in her sling for the first 6 months. Ours was a gift called the Peanut Shell.
• Peanut shell slings. Some babies like to be upright (a la moby/babyhawk) but Amelia was more of a "cradle hold" kind of kid.
• We couldn't live without our Baby Bjorn, we loved wearing Bradley. It was the most comfortable way to carry him, and kept him the most content.
• We have the Baby Bjorn and I love it. It took our son a little while to get used to it, but we used it a lot.
• I do not recommend the Baby Bjorn -- it's just not comfortable once the baby puts on a few pounds!
• There are about ten million different types of baby carriers, and everyone likes a different one. I tried and returned a couple slings before finding the one that worked for me. Whatever you choose, having some kind of easy-to-use carrier is essential. It takes the weight off your arms if you're just carrying the baby around the house or on a walk. You can use it to hold the baby while you're out to dinner (our babies were generally happier sleeping in the sling close to mom or dad than sitting in the carseat). You can use it to carry the baby around at the grocery store, instead of lugging an infant car seat around. When both of ours were little babies, we used a simple, adjustable sling made of a cotton mesh material -- very cool and breathable and a great cover-up for nursing to boot.

CAR SEATS
• Get an infant car seat hand-me-down (or craigslist) and splurge on the convertible car seat (Britax is rad).
Britax Roundabout Convertible car seat - we skipped the cost of the infant car seat that the baby outgrows in 6 months and hurts your back along the way.
Carseat-wise, Britax are the best. Get a new one, unless you're sure of its pedigree.
• We didn’t use the infant carseat and snap-and-go stroller. We just carried her everywhere in a sling or the babyhawk. You can put them right into a Britax from birth. If I did it over, I’d skip the infant carseat. But, many people swear by them.
• A good infant car seat that snaps in and out of the base if you plan on driving.

CHAIRS + SWINGS
• Bouncy seat. A great place for naps, or putting the baby down while you shower, or for elevated sleeping if the baby is congested. Hell, it wouldn't hurt to have a couple (we kept one inside and one on our deck).
• A bouncy chair or swing. Borrow or get used, if possible, because some babies love the bouncer, and some love the swing.
• The bouncy chair was the only place she'd sleep for several months, aside from our laps. And, it's small and lightweight, so you can carry it into the bathroom to take a shower.
• She had no interest in the big schmancy swing i got, so I’m glad I bought it (and then resold it) on craigslist.
• Bouncer: We got a cheapo one from Target. Sometimes it was the only thing that he would sit in that would allow me to take a shower (I would bring it in the bathroom with me so I could hear him and check on him).
• I would find an inexpensive swing, or borrow one, until you see if your kid likes the swing. Our son did not like it at all.
• V *lived* in this thing for the first 6 months. She loved it.
• If you have a grandparent, uncle, benefactor, etc., wanting to buy you a big-ticket item, we love our Svan high chair. So attractive, and it grows to become a full size chair!
• I like this booster seat, because it is portable, and because it attaches to any chair you don't have to have a separate high chair

CLOTHING
• Clothes in the newborn size, not just 0-3 months, which tends to be too big for a newborn. If I could do it again, I'd buy fewer, but higher quality (soft, organic cotton) newborn clothes, rather than a ton of cheapo stuff. Because of all the spit up, I was doing laundry daily anyway, so I didn't really need 30 onesies.
• Note that you'll want to wash spit-up clothes in COLD water -- warm/hot water sets milk/barf stains.
• Sleeper pajamas and/or a sleep sack.
• Clothing items: Our son lived in onesies and sweat pants for the first few months of his life.
• I highly recommend getting sleepers that have zippers, not snaps, as it will take a lot less time to change the baby's diaper at 2am.

DIAPERS
Easiest cloth dipes ever
• Cloth diapers. we use the Bum Genius one size pocket dipes. Super easy, and I was NOT planning on cloth diapering.
• We've used cloth diapers the whole time and it's easy. We also never used a diaper service ... just had a diaper pail filled with water and a natural anti-bacterial, soaked the poopers in the toilet, etc. we got all our stuff from www.babyworks.com, in Portland. They ship, but I’m sure there's a diaper shop near you too.
• Get a diaper bag that's comfy to carry. I actually recommend a backpack with good shoulder support, rather than something marketed as a diaper bag. Not as pretty, but better for schlepping around.
• Definitely buy a backpack instead of the one-shoulder diaper bags. It is unisex and is a whole lot easier to tote around.
• A few folks told me I couldn't possibly live with out a diaper bag, so I kind of ponied up on a nice one. I never used it ... always just found myself tucking diapers into a backpack or the bike trailer.
• Diaper cream that is 40% zinc oxide -- not the "creamy" stuff that is only 10% (it's not effective!).
• Bay Area diaper services: www.tinytots.com or http://www.tideedidee.net/

SLEEPIN
• The co-sleeper. Don’t bother. We ended up using ours as a place to dump the laundry. She just sleeps in our bed. We do have a crib we use for naps, but we just got it a few weeks ago, and you can get away without one for quite awhile.
• I tried a co-sleeper with Bee and didn't like it at all. It's not easy to pick up a baby while lying down, or sitting, or kneeling, in bed, which is what you have to do with the co-sleeper, unless you get out of bed (which, with the co-sleeper, involves scooting down to the bottom of the bed). Also, the co-sleeper makes making the bed hard, and when you're sleeping you may worry about your covers getting in there, and it's a pain to assemble, I could go on and on.
• As for sleeping arrangements, we found that the playpens that also have attachments to become a bassinet work great. They transform and last until the baby figures out how to escape (this was almost 2 for us) and you can bring them with you on trips.
• We loved Happiest Baby on the Block, and "SSHHHsh"-ing was very helpful in the early months to help him get to sleep.
• We bought a co-sleeper, crib, and a Pack n' Play. The Pack n' Play was useful after 6 months, but the co-sleeper got NO use, and the crib is just finally getting some use. We ended up having him in our bed until about 2 months ago, because that just felt most comfortable for us...but everyone feels differently on this, so do what works for you. :)
• Do you have a pad under your sheets and above your mattress? The kind that would absorb...say...spills or other effluvia? The big insight that I have gained after two babies is that I should have owned TWO of those, because there were several nights when the bed was stripped not once but twice (mostly barf) and boy oh boy would that have been nice...because if you get it the second time and you don't have the pad on, you are doomed
• I DID get Zach something along those lines which I am in love with...an organic wool puddle pad...ahhh. It cost an arm and a leg (like one hundred freaking dollars for a twin bed) BUT it catches the pee, is really soft for under the sheets, and has made midnight bed changes easier. I was convinced by people smarter than me that this was a good place to spend money and they were right.
• Somebody mentioned multiple bed pads for when the baby spits up in your bed in the night. OMG YES. I spent so many nights with Finney changing out the sheets and scrubbing the mattress.
• Get a snap-on top layer that goes over the crib sheet (for all the messes baby makes in bed... changing the whole crib sheet is a pain)

STROLLERS

We are getting the City Mini

• Wait until baby is here to pick out a stroller. Then you'll have a better idea of what you want/need.
• You won't need it for a good while, but a lightweight folding stroller like the McLaren Volo is great.
• Stroller: I loved our travel system. We got the Graco Quattro Tour travel system; it has the stroller, infant carrier and the base for the car seat. I loved having the carrier and used it until he was almost 9 months old. It was so nice to be able to go somewhere and not have to wake him up if he was sleeping. We still use the stroller to this day and our son is 2 years old. We just bought the Graco Duo Glider for when baby number 2 arrives, it is compatible with the infant carrier

SWADDLING
These are really great for swaddling
• Swaddling with a good swaddle blanket is also very key! We had good luck with Swaddle Designs Ultimate Receiving Blanket & the Kiddopotomus Swaddlers. I highly recommend getting some practice swaddling a live baby before you deliver. It's tricky
• Oh and the SwaddleMe thingies with the velcro fasteners, so helpful! We could never recreate the secure swaddles like the folks at the hospital without the magic of velcro
THINGS RELATED TO ACTIVITY
• A play mat, like this, is SO great for when the baby starts trying to grab stuff
• Floor mat: Tummy time is a big thing for babies to start them working on their upper body strength. We bought a really cheap one and it was horrible. Look for something that has toys, mirrors, etc. so the kid has lots of things to look at.
• When the baby is a little older, older than 4 months, I would look into getting an exersaucer or jumperoo. We had the Rainforest Jumperoo and our son LOVED it!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Weekend of excellence

Cats, cats, cats. Oh and a big ol' belly!
From left to right, my favorite aunt, sister, and mom. And me in a dress that makes me looks way more expansive than I actually am.
Yay love!


Yesterday was Mother's Day, duh. I was terribly touched by the slew of Happy-Mother's-Day-You-Almost-Mama text messages that I got from friends, and by the incredibly sweet and thoughtful gifts bestowed upon me by my dear husband (including this mix that I'm listening to right now, which made me cry from the first note). It was a trip to both be and not-be a mom. My mom instinct is definitely in full-swing (Jason, please don't sit on the edge of the garage-top-deck, you know I'm terrified you'll fall backwards and smash your head; Jenn, does Arlo know how to get down from his highchair properly? Is he going to fall?; I definitely think that car is going to run me over, even though I'm in a crosswalk and it has a red light; That dog looks untrustworthy; Is this yogurt expired?; etc etc) and in many ways I feel like a mom—at the same time, I mean, whatever. I have yet to give birth, I have yet to gaze into my daughter's eyes and feel that feeling that I hope I'll feel, I have yet to nurse a crying creature at 3am, to change diaper explosions, to watch my baby sleep, to sit on the bed with Jason and Ivy and marvel at what we've done. So it was nice to be appreciated and celebrated, but I know this was a Pre-Mother's Day.

Still: what a great day/weekend it was. Friday night found Jason and I exploring our potential new neighborhood on foot and falling madly in love with it. From the park to the houses to the amazing gardens to the friendly cats to the punk rock kids walking down the street to the cool-looking young parents strolling with their babies to the elementary school. Ooooh the elementary school. We swooned and swooned and then had amazing dinner at Marzano. On Saturday we did the family Mom Day thing at Nancy's: lovely delish brunch with mom, Aubs, Doug, Nancy, Jason. Favorite baked eggs and pecan coffeecake and fruit and reading the paper in the sun and lounging, light napping, watching Giants game. Then Jason and I proceeded to enjoy each other's company very very much, listening to new great records and playing Scrabble (Scrabble is hard w/ preg brain). I made a Spring Bounty dinner: whole wheat linguine w/ fava bean + chard pesto (favas liberated from seemingly abandoned garden plots in Dimond Park; chard from garden, robust remnant from last year's garden), asparagus, zucchini, and peas (peas + asparagus from garden/CSA respectively); and marinated baby artichokes (also from CSA). And a tiny glass of good red for us both.

Then yesterday I started with a truly challenging and gorgeous preg lady hike up in the Pt. Richmond hills with Jen and Lan—both having late July summer babies, both doing home birth, both awesome. It was seriously a hike—like big steep hills, gorgeous vistas, more big steep hills, etc. Buzz and Spider (Jen's adorable tiny rat terrier) romped all over and loved it, and we huffed and puffed up and down hills, drinking plenty of water and yammering about preg stuff in between gasps and pants. I'm exaggerating slightly—we fared quite well, and I was very proud of myself when all was said and done. I came home refreshed and starving and received from Jason the sweetest package, which included a note written on the cutest baby picture of him ever, and this mix, and, um, the most amazing necklace that I immediately put on and it made me cry (duh) and oh, this man can select jewelry for his wife! And then we headed to Jenn's for (of course) amazing brunch with Jenn, Arlo (getting cuter by the second), and Jon. Then to Ace Garden for flowers and ground cover; then to Mosswood Park to sit with Lara on a blanket and watch Mitch play softball; then home to work on front-of-house area, to make it look less white trash. Planted flowers, trimmed out-of-control bouganvilla, etc. Then hung w/ Lara and Mitc, discussing bellybuttons, Single A baseball, pretzels, cheap beer, and birth videos. And then to Cato's for pizza, complimentary non-alcoholic bevs for preg mamas (since I'd already had some champagne at brunch and a few sips of watermelon beer ((?!)) ), and dice games (C-lo and Damn Straight). And then home to an excellent bath, and some reading of Waiting For Birdy, the charming and pretty damn funny book by one Catherine Newman, my former teacher/hero during my undergrad years, and now world-famous mom/food blogger extraordinaire.

And then we went to bed, crazy in love and sated with relaxation, anticipation, and appreciation.

It does not suck, this life. Not. At. All.

Arise! Disarm! Mothers!

The following is an excerpt from Ruth Rosen’s Slate.com article “Soap to Ploughshares: How to return Mother's Day to its original meaning.”


The women who originally celebrated Mother's Day conceived of it as an occasion to use their status as mothers to protest injustice and war. In 1858, Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mother's Work Days in West Appalachian communities to protest the lack of sanitation that caused disease-bearing insects and polluted water to sicken or even kill poor workers. In 1870, after witnessing the bloody Civil War, Julia Ward Howe—a Boston pacifist, poet, and suffragist who wrote the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"—proclaimed a special day for mothers to oppose war. Committed to ending all armed conflict, Howe wrote, "Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage. … Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience."

For the next three decades, Americans celebrated Mother's Days for Peace on June 2. Women political activists of this era fought to end lynching and organized to end child labor, trafficking of women, and consumer fraud. In their view, their moral superiority was grounded in the fact of their motherhood.

When Anna Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, also named Anna, vowed to honor her mother's political activism by creating a national Mother's Day. The gift card and flower industries also lobbied hard. As an industry publication, the Florists' Review, put it, "This was a holiday that could be exploited." In 1914, Congress responded and proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day.

Companies seized on the holiday by setting out to teach Americans how to honor their mothers by buying them flowers, candy, or cards. This outraged Anna Jarvis the daughter. When florists sold carnations for the then-exorbitant price of $1 a piece, she began a campaign against "those who would undermine Mother's Day with their greed." But she was hardly a match for the flower and card companies. Soon, the Florists' Review announced, with a certain triumphant tone, that it was "Miss Jarvis who was completely squelched." And they were right.

In the words of Ward Howe:

Mother's Day Proclamation 1870

By Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress,
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Sigh. Yes. YES.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

No, we did not need 3D glasses to see our daughter

This was taken with Jason's cell phone camera, so it's not of the highest quality, but you can totally still see her face, right? That's her arm and hand to the left of her face. And that's her face, dude. Her face!

video
(FYI: If you want to just skip to the part where you see her face, it's about 4 minutes in)

So. The whole thing with ultrasounds is that it's very difficult to tell for sure if the baby's a girl—boy's easy, but girl's a bit more enigmatic. As you all know, we were told that it was 'most likely' a girl; this is what we believed all along, and it's what the psychic hippies in Hawaii told us, so though we've 'known' that it's a girl, I started to get a little obsessed with finding out for sure. The only way to do this—aside from an amnio—is to do one of these bizarro new-fangled 3D/4D ultrasounds that allow you to, like, see the baby. Like see her face. And her (as the company so annoyingly kept saying) gender. Though slightly creeped out by the whole venture, we decided to get 'er done. Barb and Doug and Aubs came along for the viewing, and we paid $50 (the cheapest option—we denied the other 'packages' which included 5x7s and 8x10s and freaking DVDs and posters and keychains and who knows what else) to see our daughter. Yes! GIRL! FOR SURE! Because the place is not a medical facility, and the ultrasounds are not intended for diagnostic purposes—it's really just a vanity operation, a cool thing for parents to do and a cool way for someone with the right equipment to make a buck—the people there refused to use anatomical language like 'vagina' and 'labia', instead referring to Ivy's 'girl parts', 'girl area', and 'gender area', which was weird and irksome and offended my sex/gender distinction beliefs, but whatever. We got to see our baby's face. Who can quibble feminist semantics at a time like that?

Basically, it was awesome. She had her hand in front of her face, in kind of a dramatic 'oh-leave-me-alone-dahling' kind of way. After about 5 or 6 minutes of ultrasound she started kicking, and I felt like she was over it, so I asked the lovely Eastern European technician to cease. She printed out some crazy pics of Ivy's face, and one of her 'girl area' (which we're saving to use as blackmail someday) and we were on our way, secure in the knowledge of our daughter's sex, and suddenly weirdly kind of familiar with her face.

I feel like I should clarify that we wanted to know the sex for sure not because we would be bummed to have a boy necessarily, but because if it was a boy, we wanted to know now, so we could mentally prepare. She's taken on such a strong identity, this little Ivy Cat—what with her name and our conversations with and about her, and her closetful of totally adorable girl clothes, and my endless visions of her future and what it will be to raise a rad girl—and we felt that we wanted to know for sure. Ok. Just had to say that.

Thanks, technology!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Strangely, I Keep Writing Poems

Which, again, is something I never do, always write prose, never think in terms of line breaks and form in that way, but something in my brain is causing line breaks, and so, well, it just happens. On Saturday I was a sobby hormonal pregnant weepy mess, all moody and sappy and sad like the weather, and I had Jason drop me off instead on continuing errands because I wanted to lie in bed and emote. On the way up the stairs I checked the mail and lo, discovered an exciting delivery: Dear Apocalypse, a new book of poetry by one KA Hays (aka Katie), a wondrous writer and generous soul, my dear pal from grad school (and kind appreciator of this here blog). I promptly got in bed with the book and read it almost all the way through, much of it out loud so Ivy could enjoy it as well. It's a wonderful book, dark and lyrical and precise, a book that, to quote one of the back cover blurbs, "finds a spiritual power in the violence of nature". Reading it in my particular state felt very appropriate, reeling as I was from a certain magical violence of nature, assaulting me in the forms of hormonal tidal waves, and I came across one poem that referenced a mother bird and her lost fledglings and oh, it got me. And I thought, I am so affected by these lines that I have no choice but to respond.

(It should definitely be mentioned that this poem is in no remote way as lovely and well-crafted as any of Katie's. Just sayin'.)

DARKLING, DARLING

after 'Darkling' by KA Hays

Poring now through the new book
looking for the one poem I read
about some parent, animal, a bird,
something winged with a baby, or babies,
and a sense of loss and or desire, lines
that made me pause and sigh, cry
more than I already was, in bed on a sad
Saturday in May with rain and so much grey—

We do not have weather here,
are not supposed to, are supposed to move
through the air without feeling it, I am happy,
temperate, undramatic, but that day was a welling
up of it all, new blood, small kicks, hormones,
roiling breathless frustrations and hopes
and beauty, tremendous, trembling, and then, reading,
sorrow for the mother thrush who wings off
and her countless fledgings, lost (lost!)
their departures,
common as dusk

(because it happens everyday, all of this,
this birth and death and living)

I love dusk, the sound of the word, the look
of the light, the memory of day, acceptance of the night
and I
I never want you to depart,
never want to lose you in the dim evening, or
on a warm morning, a spacious afternoon with
lavendera shaking in the breeze out the window,
never on a crying night, a rocking hour, not ever
during a reaching fumbling
waking moment.

Because now we are we—grey day or not,
crying or not, beyond sense, sensation,
imagination—we, alive on a wire, in the bed, inside,
held and adored by a new midnight choir,
and oh, we cannot be excused from this
and do not, do not want to be.

Self Portraits in Bathroom Mirror @ 32 Weeks