Testing out the birthday suit

15 Jan

I’ve heard stories about toddlers running around in the buff . Even though I halfway expected it, when C pulled her pants down, tugged her shirt up around her shoulders and requested, “Off,” I was amused and a little worried. I thought I’d give it a week or so to see if it was just a quick passing thing.

The reader, all dressed up! Jan 12th.

Nope! As long as we’re home, or at someone else’s home, for longer than an hour, C begins to request help in getting her clothes off. At home I figure, why not? Although this does mean that my un-potty-trained toddler could pee (or poop!) anywhere. I’m grateful that she feels comfortable enough at other people’s homes to take her clothes off, but that has become the sign that it’s time to go. Potty training has suddenly become a priority. But is she ready? Am I ready?

It feels like all sorts of issues are piling up – getting her to sleep on her own, toddler tantrums (oh yes, I was the lady at the mall with the screaming baby..sorry guys!), and now potty training?? It is all happening so quickly, and I feel like I barely have the time to figure out what to do next.

Top that off with the fact that I’m trying to run a small business, grow as a fitness instructor, and fit all of that into the 45 minute nap that has begun to evolve and an hour of sanity in the evening after dinner, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed!

What stands out to me, though, is that I need to enjoy that cuddly and spirited little girl who loves running around in her birthday suit as much as I can. This time will be gone in a blink and what I will remember most was her joy in exploring the world in utter abandon and freedom.


The Chair Photos

13 Jan

One day, when my daughter was about four weeks old, I posted a picture of her propped in the corner of our glider/rocking chair on Facebook. A wonderful, inspirational mom commented that one of her friends had taken a picture of her children every month for as long as they’ve been alive in the same spot. I decided then and there that I would take a picture of C in the chair once a week for as long as I could.

Nearly 18 months later, I have a large collection of photos of C sitting in the chair. Many bring back memories of the week that I took them. Because infants and toddlers develop so quickly, each week really is quite unique!

May I introduce you to the collection? 

I make this introduction so that you have some familiarity with where I’m coming from as I begin to post a weekly update on what is happening with C, the joys and the challenges!

A Year of Positive Thinking

11 Jan

After a long hiatus, a year full of loving my baby and learning how to run a small business, I’m back. Writing is catharsis in my world. And I need catharsis right now!

One of my goals for 2012 is to cultivate more positive thinking. I stumbled on the book Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Alexandra Stoddard when I was at Anthropologie trying to figure out how to best use a $100 gift card. I figured that advice from a sane, interesting mom might help fill the “mom void” that I feel. So I got the book with high hopes.

For me, it’s full of many right messages at the right time in my life. My favorite quote, which is now prominently posted in orange on my office wall is going to be my anthem for the year. Stoddard says, “Search, not for the ideal later, but for the actual good now. You must have a point of view, a perspective on life. You always have a choice to select the window you look out from. Choose the best possible view.” The italics are mine.

Choosing the best possible view is going to be tough for me! I trust I’m not alone in struggling to see the positive side of things. I’m pretty sure that the work of finding that view is going to pay off tremendously for me. This year is going to be about finding ways to get to that best view.

The first idea I’ve had to help myself get there is to take the first ten minutes of my daughter’s nap to find three positive things to say to myself about myself. I struggle to no end to be happy with myself.In the few days that I have done this, I sense a lightness of  being. I want more of it! I hope to find more as I write and share my journey with whoever wants to join me.

Do Fun Stuff!

30 Aug

It’s hard not to admire people who seize every opportunity to do something meaningful and beautiful.  Ryan Marshall, blogger of Pacing the Panic Room, has done just that.  Marshall made the choice to love his stepson fully.  And then he and his wife learned that his stepson, who he refers to as his Little Buddy, has a rare genetic disorder, Smith-Magenis Syndrome.  Upon finding out that there is very little known about this syndrome, Marshall and his wife decided that they would set out to inspire more research.

To raise money to create awareness and a larger knowledge base about SMS, Marshall got a number of very cool artists to donate their time and energy to create a “kid’s record for parents.”

I bought the album not only because I wanted to support the cause, but also because I really enjoyed the music and knew it would be appropriate for my little one sometime in the near future.  Honestly, it’s a fun, positive album, and many of the songs are so low key kid songs that the tag line Marshall adopted is spot on.

You can learn more about SMS and the project that Marshall is endeavoring upon by clicking HERE. If you are inspired, you can link to the widget in your blog or send the link on to your Facebook friends!

Here’s to learning, contributing, and doing fun stuff.

Newborn @ week 7: Blogpost Interrupted

12 Aug

Having a baby takes a lot of time and energy in a way I didn’t anticipate. I’m not physically or mentally exhausted except for on the days when mosquitoes have kept me up after a baby feeding session. Rather my schedule is all awry. It’s hard to fill a to-be-specified time with something meaningful when you’re not sure whether you should be talking or singing to, or rocking the baby to sleep. Alternatively you might actually have some free time. I’ve never been very good at being spontaneous, and it seems as if someone who’s good at that might do really well in the first three months of parenthood.

If I were better at being spontaneous, maybe I would have written this sooner.
I have been in the midst of writing the second part of my birth story for the last three weeks (soon to come). I began by drafting the story on my computer, but I quickly realized that I would never finish it that way. Breastfeeding and the desire to not move from the couch once the babe has fallen asleep after breastfeeding have kept me relegated to the couch. So then I thought I could write in my notebook and later transfer my words onto the Word document and finally to the WordPress post box.

No, no, no. For a while, I think I’ll be composing my posts by iPhone. Even that might be hard as the just woken up squirming baby on my lap makes it difficult to know how much longer I have.

Life with a baby, and perhaps with an child of any age, is schedule interrupted. That’s a new and sometimes welcome kind of tired, like the tired you feel after a workout. Sometimes you’re happy you did it, sometimes you wonder what you were thinking.

That turned out not to work either. For the last week I’ve been treading water, uncertain how to proceed.

A promise to you and me

19 Jul

It has been too long.  The challenges of the last weeks of pregnancy, healing from the c-section, grieving that process and adjusting to the always joyful, sometimes boring life of motherhood have left me stumbling to do the things that I love like write and take photos.

I hope to find the time and energy to continue writing regularly!  So stay tuned.

The Birth Story, Part 1: How It Went Down

19 Jul

At 7pm on June 21st, the Bay Area’s Highway 280 and the surrounding hills were bathed in a misty fog that had not yet obscured the golden pink hue of the sky.  As my husband and I traveled the now familiar path to the hospital, I could not help but think of how fitting it was to be driving down the highway at this moment to begin the labor and delivery of the baby who would be named Cielle Rose*.  Her name can be translated from French as ‘pink sky,’ and the sunset cast a sense of inevitability.

Cielle Rose, Born June 23. 7 lbs 15 oz, 20 inches

I would be 42 weeks pregnant as of June 22nd. We were heeding the warnings of the doctors to not go too far beyond the due date.   I had resigned myself to being induced even though it was not what I really wanted.  For the entire duration of my pregnancy, I was gearing up to have a completely natural labor and delivery if I could.

I had watched The Business of Being Born, a movie that Ricki Lake was inspired to make after her disappointing birth experience.  The movie is one that nearly every woman I know who has had a baby or is pregnant has seen, and its message of skepticism towards hospital births and the “business” of being born had inspired me to try a more natural approach.  We hired a doula, a sort of labor coach who would be by my side through the labor process, and who would help me ask for time and give me her perspective if I needed it.  I had taken the Bradley Method courses, which focus on learning pain alleviation skills that your husband or birth partner can help you do, hoping to gain as many tools as I could since I planned to do it without an epidural.   In an ideal world, I wanted to have a birth without induction, drugs or surgical interventions.

I had been having irregular contractions for the last two days, so I was hoping that once we arrived at the hospital, I would learn that I had progressed and that I was free to labor without induction.

No such luck.  I arrived.  They checked.  I was 0 cm dilated.  In other words, my cervix had not begun opening.  Two hours later, they implanted a small pill in my cervix to begin the magic of jumpstarting labor.  I tried to sleep, but the contractions were getting stronger.  Four hours later, they implanted a second pill, and that really got things going, though irregularly.  Induction usually means opening the cervix first and then using an IV of pitocin, a hormone that is meant to stimulate contractions in the uterus to get things going.   Once I knew I was getting induced, I accepted that I would have to go the drug filled route at some level.

I was ready to face the pain of labor, especially with all of the tools I was armed with.  The pitocin got my contractions going steadily and very close together on the lowest dose.  After an hour or so of getting the pitocin, the nurses thought it would be best for me to take me off of it since the contractions were intense, regular, less than two minutes apart and my cervix was dilating quickly.  I was having a hard time getting through them with such little rest.  My doula had arrived, and she was helping me through the pain of each contraction.  The shower turned out to be my best friend throughout the entire labor.  I used it liberally and often though getting to and from it turned out to be pretty tough.

It took me about twelve hours to get to 6 cm dilated, and then things moved quickly to 9 cm.  The intensity of my contractions grew, and I was elated!  I thought that I would be pushing the baby out soon, no problem.  Enter the doctor.  She said, “Sometimes people stall out at 9 cm.”  I thought, “She’s crazy!  I’m going to have this baby any minute now.”

Four hours later, I was still at 9 cm dilated.  The nurses were checking my dilation often at this point and monitoring the baby carefully.  My comforting shower became a pain in the ass because when I entered the shower, the monitor stopped tracking the baby’s heart rate.  One nurse in particular was adamant that I have that monitor on constantly.  All I could think was, “Bitch, you come and try to do this with no pain medication.  I need this shower.”  Yet her commands were made from afar and administered by her minions.  If only she had taken the minute to tell me that because I had been at 9 cm for so long, they really needed to make sure the baby wasn’t stressed.  I would have been more forgiving and understanding.  She waited until I had been at 9 cm for six hours to give me the explanation, and my doula had to push her to understand why this was such a necessity.

It was at this six hour mark that everything started to become more intense.  I was still at 9 cm.  From what the doctors and nurses were finding in their cervical checks, it seemed that the baby was moving back into my uterus rather than heading out.  And nothing was changing except that I felt like pushing.  It was getting harder for me to endure the contractions without pushing.  For another long hour, I continued trying to get through each contraction without pushing, knowing that it would cause my cervix to swell and create an emergency situation I did not want to take part in.  Each time a nurse or doctor came in to check my dilation, I hoped against all hope that the little bit of my cervix that was holding back would open up.  I was exhausted.

Enter the epidural.  I could not say no to it.  In fact, I could not wait for it.  I asked desperately how long it would take for the anesthesiologist to arrive and calculated that I would have to go through two more contractions and perhaps a third while he did the procedure.  At the same time that I could not wait for the epidural, I allowed myself to feel the disappointment.  Of all the things that I did not want to have to go through in labor (1) induction, 2) drugs to help move the process forward, 3) epidural and 4) c-section), I was now at three out of four.  I was so in the moment that I did not wonder for a second whether I would have a c-section.  I wanted to push this baby into the world if I could.

Three hours later with no progress, I had to face the facts.  Either I would be extremely tired, with a uterus that had been at work for nearly 30 hours and trying to push a baby out…and who knows how long it would take for my cervix to get to 10 cm?  It had already been 9 hours.  Or I would have a c-section and be done.  No guarantees on the health of the baby, except for the fact that she had no issues throughout the labor process.

For a total of four procedures I didn’t want to have to go through in order to have my baby, I had all four, not counting an epidural (which would only be an option if I had a vaginal birth).  Eleven hours after reaching 9 cm, the c-section was in progress.  I had been counseled by the doctor on call, my personal doctor and the doula that this was the best option at this time.  My tears flowed as I acknowledged the necessity of it.

They wheeled me into the OR on the Labor and Delivery floor.  The anesthesiologist explained that he would be giving me a full epidural and adding some pain medication to the mix.  They prepped my body and lifted the curtain between my head and torso.   I could hold my arms on my chest or rest them on the crucifix-like arm slats that extended from the bed.  I chose to lay them out as if I were a plane or on a crucifix.  I was submitting myself to the last thing I did not want to do.  And then my husband came and joined me.

They tugged and pulled at my body.  I tried not to pay attention.  It seemed like an interminably long time before I heard the baby cry.  Tears filled my eyes as I experienced the joy of hearing my baby.  Then I saw them take her very lily white body to the crib where they cleaned her a little and allowed Jonathan to then bring her to my side.  I looked at the perfect little face and wept with relief and happiness.  I kissed her, and then Jonathan took her to the nursery where they would bathe her and wait for me to get into the recovery room.

As they stitched me up, the doula joined me.  But she could not ease my anxiety of being put back together and sewn up after a major surgery.  I felt each tug and push.  I heard the suction and the doctor’s conversation about children’s college choices and I endured each moment wishing for it to be over quickly.  The doula’s attempt at relaxation covered me like a blanket, but I was shivering from the intensity of the drugs and the fear.

The blue blanket was lowered, and they said that it was finished.  The doctors and nurses helped lift from the surgical bed to the hospital bed, and then a couple of the nurses rolled me into the recovery room, where I lay with the doula to my right and the Irish nurse who had helped administer my induction pills two days before and had now helped to deliver my baby.  She tried to comfort me in her nurse way, with more pain medication, fluids, and kind words.  But I was afraid and alone after everything.

When I saw Jonathan again I was relieved, and I asked to see Cielle.  He returned to the nursery and brought her to me.  Another nurse helped me prepare to nurse her, and as she lay on my breast and began to breastfeed, I could not believe that this was the girl whose foot kicked my left rib, who squirmed in my belly when I was sitting in large groups, and who I prodded when I needed a reminder that she was indeed there.  Tears of wonder and amazement filled my eyes.  Was the overwhelming emotion diminished by the pain medication?  I don’t know.  If it were, my lucid emotions would have made me sob.

*The French would detest me for giving my child a name that is a common noun and unsanctioned name.  ‘Ciel rose’ means a sky tinted red or pink in French, evocative of twilight.  They would hate me more for misspelling her name (I think this every time I spell it out) since I’ve chosen to feminize it for the American audience.  Names are truly cultural.  And one of the beauties and clusterf*&%^s of the American culture is that we can make up names!