Sunday, December 30, 2007

Almost there

If there were more leprechauns and rainbows, I might believe that it was an actual miracle.

Jack slept 6 hours straight last night. The baby who wouldn't sleep longer than 2 hours slept for 6 hours straight. I bow down at the altar of Prevacid. I adopt it as my personal hero.

Truthfully, I'm not sure what combination made the difference. He started on Prevacid the evening before he went 4.5 hours and then 6 hours the next night. But I also went off dairy, and also started sleeping him in the carseat (in his crib) that same night. Whatever it was, it was fantastic. We'll keep up all three and see if the sleep continues.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Forms of torture

I can totally see why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Yesterday I gave out way more than just my name, rank and serial number! This country should be glad I don't know any more than the details about Brittany Spears' sister, or I would have absolutely spilled them.

We're still playing with the method to get Jack to sleep at night. I hate hate hate putting him on his belly, which is the only place I've ever gotten more than 2 hours of sleep. So every night I start off strong with a new plan, and then it deteriorates into weeping and stripping him of blankets and putting him on his belly and then angst the whole time.

Three nights ago, he went 3.5 hours on his belly. Then I switched him to his side and got 2.5 hours, 2 hours, 2 hours. Totally liveable.

Two nights ago, it took thirteen tries to get him to stay asleep after we put him down in the crib. Then he really didn't sleep anything continuous until 6 am. So I slept 6 am to 7:45 when Nate refused to let anyone but me take him out of his crib. Yay. Finally a Mama's boy, just at the wrong time!

At the pediatrician's suggestion, I tried having him sleep in his carseat, in his crib. Did the nightime routine, swaddled him, got him snug in the carseat with a paci. Eyes drowsy, so I left. 10 minutes later he's awake crying. Repeat above. Wakes up crying. Repeat above...silence. More silence. He slept from 10:30 to 3 am. I had been smart and gone to bed at 11:30, so I probably got 3 straight hours of sleep. Miracle.

After the 3 am wakeup, he went 3:30 to 6, and then 6:30 to 8. I feel fabulous.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yummy tuna?

Stewart took Nate for an outing on the bike this morning and wouldn't tell me where they were going. An hour or so later they returned.

Nate ran in the front door calling for Mommy, like always, with a little bag in his hand that he's trying to give to me. "Tuna, Mommy!" He's so proud of it. So I do my Mama duty: "Wow, Nate, tuna? That sounds yummy!" "Tuna, Mama!"

He finally gets to me, and I see little doughnuts in the bag he's holding. "Oh, donuts! That sounds a heck of a lot better than tuna!" Duna, tuna...sounds a lot the same. Thank goodness they don't taste the same.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jack's Monthly Newsletter, Month One!

Dear Jack,

Welcome to the world, buddy, and to our blog. I've written a monthly letter to your brother every month, and I'm going to do my best to do the same thing for you. Everyone keeps telling me that there's no way I'll have time to keep up with these, but they just don't know how super I am. I'm also going to do my best to keep your letter about you, and not just a comparison to how your brother did everything, though I expect that there'll be quite a bit of that.

With that said, I'll get this out of the way: you look a lot like your brother Nate. When you were first born, I was shocked by how much you looked like him. As the days went on, it struck me less and less. But we took this photo for your passport, and then I found this other photo of your brother, and well, they speak for themselves:

Jack's passport photo (20 days old):

Nate (11 days old):


Right now, you are a very crusty baby. You've got the classic cradle-cap, and the skin all over your face and head is peeling. You've also got a lovely rash under your chin and up the sides of your face. And your hair is falling out. I think you're adorable.

I was hoping for a cuddly baby this time, and it appears that I've gotten one! You love clutching on to our fingers, hair, shirt collars, and anything else you can wrap your little fingers around. I love it. I can't get enough of it. I guess I could do without the hair-pulling part, but it's worth it to get the finger-holding part. You're a total lover: your favorite thing is sleeping on top of us.


When you were first born, your eyes were slightly mis-aligned - the opposite of cross-eyed. In the last few days, I've noticed that you're looking at me normally now. Your eyes are very dark, but not brown. We think you might have gotten Daddy's, and Grandpa's, hazel eyes. You have a dimple in your left cheek like Daddy and I do; Nate has one in his right cheek.

You have figured out night from day now, and have very long, alert, awake periods during the day. You gaze around at the lights, windows, and blank walls. Sometimes I'll sit you in the boppy, or the swing, and you'll sit there placidly, sometimes sucking on your pacifier, for long stretches. I took you to an infant massage workshop, and you totally kicked the other babies butts. You were the youngest there, but honestly the most alert and calm - you were awake and content for almost two hours!

I think we really lucked out with having such a content baby. You're even calm during diaper changes, though you may be expressing some subliminal discontent - you pee on me almost every time. You really do like the changing table. Sometimes when you're in your evening cranky period, I'll just lay you on the mat and let you stare at the dining-room lights. I do your evening massage on the changing table, too, since you're clearly so comfortable there.

You do "sleep" most of the night, but you're damned if you're going to do it on your back like you're supposed to. I've tried everything - the swaddle, the miracle-blanket swaddle, the side sleep, letting you sleep in the swing, letting you sleep in your fails. You'll sleep for a short stretch, wake up, nurse, fall asleep, let me put you back down in whatever position we're trying, and then you wait. You give me just enough time to make sure you're asleep, head back to bed, pull the covers up, and fall asleep for 3 seconds. Then you start crying again. It's awful. I have spent lots of nights crying, and banging fists on the bed. Very mature. Every now and then Daddy would take you away and get you to sleep any way he can manage:

So I tried you on your stomach, and you were in heaven. I tried it again, hoping it was a fluke, but it wasn't. You take 3 hours naps, and often give me 3 hour stretches at night. I've given up, and you're now sleeping on your belly. I'm so scared that something's going to happen to you, and I'm just crazy-hoping that you end up okay.

I feel like I'm really getting to know you. Sometimes you'll be cranky and fussy, and I know now that if you're fed the only reason for cranky is that you're tired. I'll pop in the paci, walk you around a bit, and you're usually off to sleep. It's very satisfying to know what's wrong with your kid, and how to fix it.

I wish I could always fix what's wrong for you, Jack. I know I won't be able to, but if I could I would. I hope you always know that.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Milestone Moment!

Jack smiled at me, or around me at the wall behind me, four times this morning!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Milestone Moment

Jack is spending his first night in his own crib, waaaayy down the hall from us. The sleeping has not been going well.

My friend Kara suggested that I try having him sleep in his crib before selling him to the Gypsies (well, giving him to the Gypsies or even paying the Gypsies to take him, more accurately), but conceded that if he's not sleeping better by Sunday, she will be happy to contact the Gypsies directly for me since I will be too tired to lift the phone.

He's been asleep for a whole hour now. I know that the minute I get into bed, he will awaken screaming and desperate. And yet...I will now try to sleep. Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's working!

Operation "Sleep In Your Comfortable Bloody Bassinet, Damnit" is in place, and seems to be seeing some success. Put Jack down for a nap at 2, he woke up immediately, got him back down, woke up again, back down again, and now asleep for over an hour and a half. I'm sure it's really hard to get used to sleeping there, so I'm making him nap there during the day so that nights stand a chance at improvement.

The last three nights I've gotten an initial 3 hour stretch when he goes down for the "night", and I haven't yet been smart enough to go to bed at that same time. Then he's up and down all night. He wakes up, nurses, falls asleep, all very promising. But when I put him back in the bassinet, he wakes up repeatedly. Poor baby, and poor mama too.

But he's awake during the day a lot now, and I see progress. We're getting there.

Jack, ready for a walk in his Phil and Teds cocoon:

Is it normal to be so cheerful?

Tonight we were watching A Goofy Movie for Nate's 30 minutes before bed because if I had to watch another episode of Go Diego Go ("Diegogo" in Nate-speak) I was going to start screaming.

Anyway, we were watching for a few minutes when Nate turned to me and said "Who 'dat, Mama?" I told him it was Goofy. He responded "Ooooooh! Gooti! Oooh!" and happily went back to watching.

Just about everything makes this kid happy. He's so cheerful so much of the time. Cannot count my blessings often enough.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

This may never happen again.

Both of my kids are asleep, alone, upstairs, in their cribs (Jack's in the bassinet). Holy crow. I hardly know what to do with myself!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Nate's Monthly Newsletter, Two Years Three Months

Dear, Dear Nate,

This has been a very long month, and I'm full to bursting with things to tell you about yourself. I know we're enormously lucky to be able to say this, but so far your two-year-old self is a ton of fun to be around.

You've started to get a sense of humor, and have developed a funny little deep voice that you use to point out anything BIG. "The big peach" you growl as you take a bite, and you point to the "big giraffe" toy. We've enjoyed it so much that we use it now, pointing out the "big big poop" you had. We take our fun where we can find it, I guess!

You're becoming the master of your domain, ordering us around all day. "Play, Mama!" and "Help me, Mama!" are big ones, and the new one is "Get! Up!" when you want us to go somewhere with you. You were spending time with Grandma and Grandpa at their house last week, and Daddy drove to pick you up. He was chatting with Grandma while you were trying to get him to see the magnetic letters on the fridge that you'd been playing with. Evidentially he didn't pay the kind of attention that the letters on the fridge deserved. You demanded Daddy's hat, then his gloves, and then his jacket. You then took him by the hand, led him to the fridge, pulled him to the floor, and said "Play!" I assume he obeyed.

We stopped letting you have milk in your crib because it's just nasty. "Juice" only now (mostly water with a drop or two of apple juice, you don't seem to know the difference). The other night after your TV show, I was getting your things ready to go upstairs and went into the kitchen to make your juice. You asked me, very hopefully, "mukabuh?" We went back and forth a few times, me trying to figure out what the hell you were talking about and you repeating, very earnestly, "Mukabuh? MUKABUH?" I just couldn't get it. You finally stopped, looked at me, and very slowly said "MUK. BED." Ah, milk in bed. Got it. Answer is still no, but very good try.

We do spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you're saying these days, and we usually get it at some point. Sometimes I have to ask you to show me what you mean, and we wend our way to the right answer. When we finally do get what you're saying, you always respond with "Ohhh!" like you've figured something out. Really, it's us that figured something out, and you're just being polite. We appreciate it.

You've gotten a little bit shy, and you're sometimes overwhelmed when you walk into a room with other people in it. You've taken to putting your forearm across your eyes and just hanging out like that for a minute until you've adjusted. You adjust very quickly, but I'm glad that you feel comfortable being "by yourself" until you're ready to meet and greet.

You love helping and doing things with us, and you can really stick with a task until it's done. You help me sort the silverware and put it away after it comes out of the dishwasher, and you can peel a hard-boiled egg like nobody's business. Every last little flake of shell comes off of that thing! Last week you helped Grandma make applesauce, and you really put your whole self into spinning the foley mill:

The things you love the most these days:

* The ABC song (I hear you singing it to yourself from your crib at night sometimes)
* Blocks, building towers, and knocking them down
* Your choo-choo train
* Jumping off of the couch
* Flash cards - you like to identify colors (you know red, blue, green, yellow, pink, black, white, purple, and sometimes brown) and animals
* The new kitchen that Grandma and Grandpa got your for Chanukah

Most of all, you love baby Jack. Oh yes, baby Jack! You are responding to him exactly the way that I thought and hoped that you would. It's amazing. You are completely enamored of him, and you were from the start. You love to touch him softly and have him put in your lap to hold. The best part is that you're not obsessed with him, and I don't have to spend all day making sure you don't squish him with love - you're off doing your own thing. You haven't yet minded if I have to nurse Jack, or tend to him - even when it keeps me from being with you. The very first day we were home from the hospital you fell and hurt yourself, and wanted to snuggle next to me on the couch, which we did. A few minutes later, Jack was crying and needed a feed. I said "Nate, I need to hold Jack now" and you very happily just moved down the sofa to make room for Jack. No issue at all. I couldn't ask for anything more, truly. You've made this transition very easy and joyful.

You are, altogether, an absolutely sweet kid. You always want to share whatever you have with everyone around you. Frankly, you insist on it. I'll give you your snack and then sit down next to you, and you'll look at me with a sly grin and ask "Want to?" and push your plate towards me. You handle a "no thank you!" very well, but you're back asking again moments later. If anyone else is over, you "Want to?" them, also, over and over. You seem truly happy if we take whatever it is you're offering. I'm just waiting for the day when you realize that you now have less of whatever it is because you've shared it!

You've also become very concerned with people being okay. If I cough, or make any weird noise, you ask "Mama K?" When Jack's crying, you'll ask "Baby K?" A few weeks ago, you were running around the house and fell down. I heard you ask yourself "Nate K?" and then answer "yeah..." and get right back to running around.

I feel like we're really in a wonderful place right now. We have so much fun together, but there's a lot of teaching and discipline, too. You seem to love me anyway, which makes me feel like I must be doing okay at this parenting thing. I try really hard to make sure to get on the floor and play with you every day, to do crafts with you, to keep the TV off when it'd be easier to turn it on, and to look you in the eyes and answer you when you talk to me. My friend Bess told me, years ago, that when your teenage child wants to talk to you, you talk. No matter what time of day it is, no matter how boring the conversation is - if they want to talk to you about peanuts, you talk. It really hit home for me. I'll be trying to get something done, and you'll be trying to get my attention, and my instinct will be to placate you so I can get back to doing whatever it is I'm doing. And then I hear Bess, and I realize that I can unload the dishwasher later, and I stop and spend time with you. I also try so hard to be consistent with discipline, to make sure you're growing up WELL and obedient and polite, into a boy and man that I can be proud of. So far, so very good.

A few days before Jack came, I took you out for one last outing together and treated you to a morning at Chuck E Cheeses. We ran around and played games, ate some pizza, and enjoyed a rainy morning together. I took this photo of us on our way out, and it makes me feel good every time I see your happy face.

I hope you always have such a sweet, caring, fun, and slightly sassy heart. We just can't get over you, and we wouldn't change a thing.


Getting better all the time

So Jack's been killing us with the sleep thing (how novel, right? A blog entry about a newborn keeping his parents up at night! Next thing I'll be telling you that we have a lot of laundry to do, or that there are toys all over the floor these days! Crazy.)

And I get to say that he's killing US with the sleep thing because this time Stewart's on paternity leave, so I'm not sleeping somewhere else in order to let him get his sleep before work the next day. He may not have to nurse Jack when he wakes, but I'll be damned if I'm the only one getting woken up with the crying.

So anyway, he cries a lot at night. He wakes up and cries a lot at night, often mere seconds after he's been nursed, swaddled, and put back in his comfy bassinet. A few nights ago I was actually crying and saying "I don't know what to do" over and over. I think I actually banged my fist on the bed a few times.

I tried almost everything. Swaddled, swaddled in a bouncy seat, swaddled in his carseat, and on and on. He mostly liked to sleep on us, or in our arms, or lying next to us, which made me crazy nervous. I padded the bassinet to make it more comfy. No luck.

A few days ago I tried letting him sleep on his side, which was tough with the swaddle. He did okay. So two nights ago I tried letting him sleep on his side without the swaddle, and he finally started doing some short stretches of sleep - two and a half hours was the longest, but I can work with anything longer than an hour. Last night he went two hours, nursed, one hour, nursed, two hours, nursed and fussy for about 45 minutes, and then another 2 hours. I can totally work with that.

He wakes up for the "day" around 7, and has a nice long awake stretch until at least 9. Then napping off and on throughout the day, and another long awake stretch in the evening - last night it was 7 - 10. Then off to "bed." It's the beginning of a routine, and that makes me very very happy.

Well done, baby.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My odd toddler

Nate's just not into the destructive thing, or the "climb all of the furniture" thing that most toddlers seem to be into. But he does do some odd things.

Last week, he was playing with a box of gallon-sized plastic bags. I checked on him, and he had zipped up one foot into each bag and was strolling around the house like that. I took a ton of pictures, and this was the worst of the bunch but the only one that came out:

Funny boy.

The little things

Of all the things I'm enjoying about having this baby out, right at the top is the ability to cross my legs without thinking about it.

For most of the last four months of the pregnancy, my knees never came within a foot of each other. If I wanted to cross my legs, I had to literally pull one ankle up with my hands (usually by tugging on my pants) and cross it over the opposite knee. Dainty, huh?

Now I just look down and they're nicely crossed - knee over knee! Magic!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Jack's birth story; very long and boring.

It occurs to me that I've alluded to quite a lot, but haven't taken the time to sit down and write out our grand adventure.

Repeat c-section was scheduled for Friday, November 23rd. We were organized and ready - everyone had their marching orders. Favorite doc was scheduled to cut, plan for Nate was perfect. I had my packing list ready for my bag, and for Nate's (to stay with grandma and grandpa).

Monday the 19th, I went out to dinner with my neighbor and friend Sara. Had a wonderful time, late into the evening, and lots of wonderful food. The wonderful food is important to the story, so bear with me.

Came home around midnight, puttered around, and off to bed. Woke up at 5 am needing my traditional pregnancy trip to the potty. Remember the wonderful food part? Let's just say that the chickens came home to roost. So I spent a little while in there, reading through our baby-names book for some last-minute second-guessing of our choice, and trying to figure out how to sneak Jack's middle-name-to-be past his Daddy.

Around 5:30, I realized that something seriously bad was going on. The pain was getting worse and worse, and I started vomiting. The pain didn't feel anything like I've ever read about contractions. I'd figured they'd feel like the Braxton Hicks contractions with pain involved, but there was no "contracting" that I could feel. I'd also heard it could feel like very strong menstrual cramps, but it didn't feel like that either.

It felt like a burning pain, like the worst urinary tract infection ever, that only briefly abated before starting up again. I had a break of maybe 20 or 30 seconds in between the burning coming back, and I was embarrassingly unable to control what I was saying or doing. This included a lot of moaning and occasional yelling, and a lot of slumping to the floor. Not my best show.

Woke Stewart around 5:45, and told him that I thought I was in labor. Asked him to call my Mom and have her come to take care of Nate, and then changed my mind to say we'd just meet her at the hospital - with the frequency of the "contractions" I didn't think we had enough time to wait at the house for her, and then drive the 40 minutes to the hospital.

Called the OB and explained what was going on. Had two "contractions" while I was on the phone with her, and she said I should head straight to the hospital and that she'd meet me there. I was initially a bit worried - she's the newest and youngest OB at our practice, and I'd only met her once before. She handled the phone call very well, though, and I was hopeful.

Threw some random items into a bag for me and for Nate, and put Stewart in charge of getting Nate up and packed into the car. I was really scared at how frequently the "contractions" were coming - I'd been timing them at around every 2 minutes - and considered calling an ambulance. I decided that if my water broke, we were calling an ambulance; otherwise, we'd try to make it to "our" hospital where my OB was waiting.

It took longer than it seemed possible to get out of the house, but we eventually found ourselves in the car. My sweet boy handled the situation so well, and seemed barely phased by being put into the car in his pjs, with his Mom moaning and yelling the whole time. I tried to mitigate the stress for him by pretending to be kidding with the yelling - in the short spaces between pain, I'd turn to him and do a big pretend yell with a smile on my face, hoping that he'd think it was all a game.

My manly husband blew my mind at the first red light we came to - he drove around the cars waiting on our side by driving on the wrong side of the road, and then drove right through the red light honking the horn the whole time. Wow. If you've ever been in a car with my manly but very sensible husband, you'd know how crazy those actions were.

He took us all the way up Georgia Avenue like this - we ran about 12 red lights before making it to Holy Cross. Met my parents out front and handed off the car and Nate to them. Stewart wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery, where I threw myself on their mercy. They had me back in a room in no time flat, and the nurses were absolutely incredible. I was a very nice patient, but not an easy one. The pain was excruciating, and I spent most of my time begging for some help or relief.

They put me on the monitor, and it showed very frequent, very long contractions. Exam showed me dilated to 2 centimeters, and 80% effaced. I was shocked - I'd never done either with Nate, and it seemed like something that happened to other people. We still didn't know how big the baby was, so I decided to go ahead with the c-section instead of attempting a vaginal delivery. I'm very grateful that I did, for reasons to come.

Got my IV, got prepped for surgery. Dr. Potts came, and I explained that I needed some pain relief. They didn't have access to any, so they gave me a shot of Terbutaline which is designed to stop contractions in women who are having pre-term labor. Best shot I ever got. Heaven. I'm still giddy from the relief.

In all the rush, we'd forgotten to bring a camera. I had planned on taking a belly shot before having the baby so I'd have one to compare with my first pregnnacy, but we hadn't gotten around to that either. So Stewart took a little video footage while they were transferring me to a wheelchair, and they carted me off for surgery. The nurses continued to be wonderful, and I met the guy who would assist Dr. Potts - adorable, professional, and very gay. Made me feel very comfortable.

They got me into the operating room, and started preparing everything. I told everyone that I really wanted to know what was going on every step of the way - the more information the better. Everyone was so respectful to that need, and it made the whole experience so much less scary for me. Dr. Potts held me while the anestesiologist gave me the spinal which was shockingly painless. They got me settled onto the table, and offset me with a towel under one side - it kept my belly from pushing down so hard on me and really helped me be comfortable. There were 4 people working on / around me, and every single one of them was giving me a blow-by-blow of what they were doing to / around me. It was funny and great. I kept waiting to panic, but never did. I had asked the anesteologist to make sure to keep me calm, and I was also very very very happy that the hours of pain were over, and I think the combination carried the day. I remember staring at the ceiling and thinking "This is going to happen no matter what. Don't miss it. Stay calm." I did.

They brought Stewart in, and he started taking photos with my cell phone camera. They turned out far, far better than I could have ever hoped for. I told him to try to catch everything I was going to miss, and he tried so hard to do that for me.

They got started, and it went very smoothly. I don't remember the feeling of them pulling Jack out, like I do with Nate, but this time I got to stay awake and hear everything else. They worked on him for a while, and then I finally heard him cry. Stewart hung out with him for a bit, and someone finally brought him over for me to see. My first response was shock at how much he looked like Nate!

Dr. Potts talked to me at this point, telling me that there was a hole in my bladder from an adhesion, and that they needed to repair it. She sounded calm and normal, and I stayed that way, too. It took a while, but they got a urologist in to make sure he was happy with her repair job, and then they finally closed me up. My only real feeling at this point was boredom from lying on my back, unable to see anyone or anything! The urologist came and went without my ever seeing his face, which I find very weird and funny.

The pediatrician checked Jack out, and said that he might have an umbillical hernia. They were able to do the Viacord donation without any problem, so that's stored away safely.

They wheeled me into recovery, and I got to show the baby to Deborah and my parents. Told them the name, and tried to get my legs to work so that I could get to my room. The doctors told me that the only complication consequence was that I'd have to keep my catheter in for a week, instead of overnight, and it mostly turned out to be so. And the bladder problem explains much of the excruciating pain of the initial "contractions" - my bladder had adhered to my uterus with scar tissue from my first c-section. So each contraction literally pulled on my bladder, contributing to the tear. I'm very grateful that I weenied out of considering a vaginal delivery - the bladder would still have likely ended up with a tear, but I wouldn't have been open for them to see it. Bad.

Anyhoodle, that's how I got my Jack!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eagle eyes

This morning we were getting Nate ready for school, and I had put Jack in the bouncy seat for the first time. As I'm putting Nate's shoes on, he points and says "Baby fall!"

I look over, and Jack's hanging halfway out of the seat, head first. He's cool as a cucumber, just dangling over the edge.

Nice save, Natey.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Photos, at last!

Thanks to my wonderful husband for the first, most beautiful photo.

Jack River, just a few hours old:

A very proud big brother:

What else does a person need?

Monday, November 26, 2007

A non-post

I want to write about my new son Jack, and how he sleeps all day and eats all night, and how he's very small and peanut-ey to me. And to show some pictures and maybe even try to compare how he looks with how his brother looks.

I want to write about my older son Nate, and how he is breaking my heart with his goodness and sweetness and love towards Jack, and how he asks "Baby okay?" when Jack cries, and how he holds him really gently and touches his hands. I want to find some possible way to express my love for this kid who smiles and laughs and dances and teases me while we wait to see his pediatrician who tells us that he has a horrible ear infection, "globules" in his throat, and "just a little bit" of pneumonia.

I want to write how it's hard to sit down and write while you have a cathetar and a bag of pee strapped to your leg, and it seems crazy that it stops me from writing but it does and who knows why?

I want to write about contractions, and how they do feel like menstrual cramps, but only if menstrual cramps now feel like a burning fire in the uterus that doesn't stop and just keeps going and going no matter what you do.

Maybe I can write it all when the bag of pee is gone. Maybe I'll find words for my life. Today I sat in the recliner and nursed Jack while Stewart and my Mom played marbles with Nate on the floor and Nate kept grinning up at me and asking me questions and getting up to dance and I just don't think I will ever find the words.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not so tough.

I'm all about being strong and forcing Nate to tough certain situations out by himself, but please tell me which Mama can resist going in, even at 4:27 am, when their child is moaning "Mama, help me. Mama, help ME."

Not this Mama, anyway.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Easier than ordering a pizza. Seriously.

It just took me one phone call to schedule the ritual bris of my son. I'm looking at my cell phone and the call took less than two minutes, including small talk and chuckling about Leah and her tribe of Israel.

He asked: when is the baby due?

I said: C-section on the 23rd

He said: Okay, so Friday the 30th. What time would you like?

I said: How about 11?

He said: Great! Call me after the dust settles and we'll confirm.

It really didn't take much longer than that. Very weird.

Comparison time

I'm 39 weeks now, so I thought I'd take a second to compare these two pregnancies. Every parent of older children that I talk with lately seems to have forgotten everything and I'm sure I'll follow suit, probably within days. So here goes:

Weight gain with Nate: 27 pounds
Weight gain with Turkey (so far): 24 pounds

Swelling with Nate: lots. Feet like bread loaves, shins that dented in, puffy face.
Swelling with Turkey: very little. Swollen feet at the end of very long days.

Belly shape with Nate: huge round basketball.
Belly shape with Turkey: huge round basketball.

Discomforts with Nate: he lived in my right ribs. I spent most of my time with my hand pushing him down off of my ribs. Could barely sit up for the last four weeks.
Discomforts with Turkey: he lives on my bladder. I'm up twice a night to pee, and I spend most of the day in the potty. Feel pretty good in the last four weeks!

Labor progress with Nate: none. Never dialated, never effaced, no contractions (other than Braxton Hicks)
Labor progress with Turkey (so far): none. Never dialated, never effeaced, no contractions (other than many Braxon Hicks)

That's all I can think of!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

House renovations - complete!

We've been doing a ton of work on the house, and we're just about done! A friend asked me to post up some photos, so here goes:

Living room view from the dining room, before knocking down walls or decorating:

Living room view from the dining room, after knocking down walls and decorating:

Living room / dining room, before knocking down the walls:

Living room / dining room, after knocking down the walls but before decorating:

Living room / dining room, after decorating!

Dining room wall, after pulling plaster off of the bricks (no before shot available):

Kitchen before painting:

Kitchen after painting:

Other view, after construction before decorating:

Other view, after decorating:

The final touch was the Flor tiles that we put down for the living room carpet. We spend so much more time down there, rolling around with Nate than we ever did before. Thrilled!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Monthly Newsletter, Two Years Two Months

Dear Nate,

This month I don't really need to write this newsletter. I just need to direct everyone to the chapter called "The Toddler Years: Your Two Year Old" and they'll know just about everything that's going on with you. You are stubborn and willful, fun and engaging, talking up a storm, and generally kicking my ass.

But since this is the last newsletter I'll ever write to my only child, I'll put in a little effort. Your little brother is due in two weeks, and I imagine there's going to be an appreciable slacking off of these newsletters, though I do promise to try to keep up.

First off, your talking is really exploding. You're all about the adjectives this month: dirty, clean, wet, hot, cold, YUCKY. You do not like dirty. "Clean, Mama! Clean!" Gotcha, buddy, I'll clean it up. The YUCKY thing is coming in handy - when there's something I don't want you touching, I just tell you it's yucky and you steer really clear. Hands off my "yucky" KitKat, kid.

You are directing and narrating our lives these days, in exquisite detail. Look, Mama! Come, Mama! See, Mama! Today you added "Come'ere! Come'ere!"

My favorite phrases these days:

* I'll get it!
* I do it!
* I did it!
* Okay! (Pronounced okee!)

Every day, you add a letter into the Alphabet song - you've got at least 2/3 of them now. You add in a new word to a song, a new question, a new something. Everyone told us that your language would plod along and then one day it would go crazy. It has.

The other day, our friends came over to go trick or treating with us - Ava and her mama Stacy, and Sophia and her mama Carol. We were having a little pre-outing snack, when baby Ava reached for your milk. Here's what you said, verbatim: "No, baby. Dat's MY milk!" You could have knocked me over. Hysterical.

You and I are doing a lot more fun things together: you help me cook sometimes, stirring or peeling an egg. We play on the floor with blocks a lot, and a few days ago, you asked me "Build a tower, okay Mommy?" Definitely okay, Natey. I really love doing things together with you, and I'm excited that we have so much in front of us: cooking together, crafts, projects. I've got a little stockpile of crafts for when you're older and we can work on them together.

When you see someone you're happy about, you greet them by running into their arms and yelling "Hey, Daddy!" or "Hey, Mama!" You make Grandma so happy when you run wildly to her!

But let's not let all this nice stuff distract from the terror that you've been this past month. Nothing will blot out the memories of the tantrums, the whining, the refusals, the whining, and the crying. The funniest part is how cliche the whole thing is: you throw tantrums because I used the wrong bowl, or the wrong cup, or I put you down in a chair you don't like. Sometimes you're furious because you wanted to do something yourself, and I did it for you. Sometimes you're offended that I asked you to do something yourself, when clearly I should be waiting on you. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what's wrong. Those are the really fun times.

In the end, though, nothing compares to this: a few days ago, a stomach bug had me throwing up. You came in to me and asked "'k, Mama?" I'm okay, Nate. Always okay as long as you are.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

A nice night

A few nights ago, Nate and I were on our own. I was busy decorating for Halloween while he puttered around, and I found a little craft kit I'd put aside for us to do this year.

We plunked down on the living room "rug" and got to work. He worked really hard to take all the pieces apart, and was even able to help string them onto the garland with me.

Then we walked down to the corner Chinese restaurant and got some take-out. Walked home, and had ourselves a little picnic on the living room floor. Watched Survivor together.

It was a very nice evening. These were the kind of nights I hoped for when I became a Mom.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My favorite days

It's rare in life when something very selfish collides with something selfless and works together. Daycare is that for us.

I can't explain how much joy it brings me to watch Nate and Stewart playing their silly games and getting on the bike to go to "school." Nate yells "Bye bye Mama!" all the way down the street, looking back at me and smiling. Teachers says he's doing great at school - having fun, camping it up, being himself.

As soon as he leaves, I come inside and get myself set. Today I took a longer-than-normal shower that actually involved a razor. I get my task list together, and start plugging slowly away. I make un-interrupted phone calls.

And when The Turkey arrives, I'll be able to sit on the couch and sing to him, like I got to do with Nate.

Everyone wins. Very rare. Very grateful.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Just a general update

Sorry to be so scarce!

Picked Nate up from daycare today, and every one of this three teachers said that he's officially adjusted. No crying, no whining, lots of participation and glee. Ms. Roz told me that he reported "cooking with Mama" as his weekend activity. I'm so glad to find out I'm involving him in my mythical cooking sessions! Who knew that hauling Chipotle home from the store counted not only as cooking, but as a quality mother/son activity! I rock this Mom thing.

One benefit of moving him to the room next to ours is that I can hear him talking to himself before he goes to sleep. I've gotta install a camera so I can see what he's doing in there! Right now he's alternating between singing the ABC song (he hits all the important letters - A B C D G L P W and X) and just randomly babbling about Ball and Throw and Mama and No. He'll ask himself a question: "Ball?" and then say "Nooooo" and then "Mama?" and then "Nooooo" and so on. I have no idea what he's talking about.

I talk to him about the baby and I'm convinced he has no idea what I'm talking about. He has suggested Nate as the baby's name, and he likes to show me the baby in his belly. Rather, he likes to show me his belly, which I believe he now thinks is called a baby.

We have 99% picked a name for the Turkey, and that's good. Nate can pronounce it, and that's adorable. T minus 4.5 weeks!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Favorite words

Oopie! (oopsie)
Hoe! (hello)
Fuh cool! (fun at school)
Nit (Nate)
Buhtuh (Buster)
Mato (Tomato, aka: Veggie Tales)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nate's big boy room!

These photos stink, but they're the best I could do with the low light. As soon as I get some better ones, I'll take these down and put up new ones.

We call this room "Ode to Ikea". First four photos are taken from the doorway, left to right.

The frames here are mostly empty. My intention is to fill them up with his artwork as he creates his work of genius. Since I took the photo, I've filled up 4 more with beautiful watercolors!

Here's a shot from inside the room, back towards the doorway, of his desk and photo array:

Monday, October 8, 2007

Stupid genetics

I've been feeling really small with this pregnancy, to the point of worrying a bit. I told my OB at my last appointment, and he said "I think you're the first woman EVER who thought their second pregnancy was smaller than their first." Usually the first pregnancy stretches you out so much that you just balloon right up with the second.

So he reassured me, and measured me, and said I was even slightly big. No worries.

Went in for my 33 week check today, and had no complaints. Got measured, got reassured, and she shared that I'm actually measuring 37 weeks. 37 weeks. At 33 weeks. Another crazy-big baby is on their way! I guess I get to have my c-section for sure, now, at least.

Stupid genetics. Stupid husband who was a big baby. Stupid mutant genes.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Monthly Newsletter, Two Years One Month

Hello sweet boy,

This is one of the hardest newsletters to write, because you have been many things besides sweet this past month. Up until a few days ago, if someone asked how old you were, you sweetly said "tree" while holding up one finger. Yesterday, you answered "two" every time. You know it now, and you're damn sure going to make sure everyone else knows you're two.

The whining. The crying. The weeping, and scrabbling to be picked up. The "MY!" and the "NO!" and the other good, fun times. It's all permanently etched into my brain. This morning you cried for 35 minutes because Daddy insisted you say "please" when you asked for something. Goodness gracious.

Don't let the sweet face fool you:

Your language is doing great - lots of two and three word phrases. Lots of demands, requests, refusals...yep, I'm thrilled that you're speaking now. It is really fun to hear you singing - that's probably the best part. Our repertoire now includes ABC, Twinkle Twinkle, You are my Sunshine, and Oh Susannah. I started singing Oh Susannah a few weeks ago, and now you request it most of all - and each time I sing it, you learn one new word each time. I think you purposely request it because you're trying to memorize it!

Preschool is going really well. Reports home say how well you're adjusting and bonding with your teacher, Ms. Roz.

Despite all of the crappy times, and there are a lot of them these days, I love and adore you. I'm prouder than heck of you. We went to Richmond yesterday, and you wowwed all of your cousins - Aunt Susan and Uncle John were totally impressed with your stamina and good cheer, despite a lack of nap. Uncle John and Peepa took you to the state fair, and reported that you were in good spirits and enthusiastic all day.

I love you,

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thinking of Fredi

Almost every time I see Stewart and Nate together, I think about Fredi and wish she could be seeing what I'm seeing. I think she would get a great deal of joy out of watching her son be the amazing father that he is.

Stewart married late; he was 43. After we announced our engagement, she sent Stewart a letter congratulating him. She wrote that she knew that marrying me meant BABIES, that she knew he'd be a great father, and that occasional grumpiness would be forgiven.

But Stewart is never grumpy with Nate. He's never short with him, or impatient, or bored, or frustrated. He's always warm and interested and supportive. I just wish Fredi was here to see it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Daycare report

I just picked up a happy boy at daycare. The end of week 3, and I think we're definitely staying. They give us a daily report, and here's what today's said (I promise not to make a practice of this):

"Nate calmed down quickly this AM and chose some music to listen to. He spent some one-on-one time with Ms. Roz reading and listening to music. Nate seemed to have a good time playing ball with Josephine and playing in the grass. After our return to classroom, he joined his peers at the sensory table washing dishes and filling / dumping soapy water. Nate seemed to have the best day ever today, very little crying/whining for Mom and Dad."

Wahoo! What a life, huh?

One nice thing about picking him up? He actually runs to me and very briefly hugs me. Today he hugged me and leaned on my legs for at least 5 seconds! I'll take my cuddles where I can get them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Daycare update!

Nate seems to be doing really fine at daycare. We've progressed to having Stewart dropping him off now, which I find precious and wonderful - I love their relationship. I love that I'm not the only one NEEDED. I love watching Nate have a life outside of me.

I pick him up around 12:30, and they're usually finishing lunch. I lurk outside his classroom watching him eat, sitting so happily at the little table with the little chairs and the other little kids. Then they each bring their plates to the trash can, and then wash their hands, and then the teachers help them brush their teeth and go potty / get changed. I usually step into the room when he's in the potty area since he can't see me there (when he sees me, he won't listen to the teachers anymore). Right about potty time, I hear him ask for Daddy and Mama. When he comes out of the room, he smiles and runs to me and hugs me. It's wonderful, wonderful.

The teacher today said that Nate KNOWS he's getting picked up after tooth-brushing, and that it had been the first time all day he'd asked for us. No crying, no problems.

I can't tell you how much I love seeing him have a life outside of us. It makes me feel so peaceful and happy. And the long nap he takes when he gets home? Makes me feel gleeful and free.

Cost of 3 days a week of daycare in DC: $1,000 / month
Cost of medications to treat daycare colds: $40 / month
Feeling peaceful and happy and gleeful and free: Pricless

Deja Vu, thank goodness

I've been feeling a lot smaller with this pregnancy, which made me slightly grateful and slightly irritated. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that with a small baby, I'd have to consider having a vaginal delivery this time. But at my appointment today, they said that the baby is indeed measuring ahead. C-Section ahoy! Wahoo!

Everything is on-track. BP is normal, weight is the same as last visit, baby is alive. Now if we only had a name picked out!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Monthly Newsletter, Two Years Old

Dear Nate,

You are two years old, and now the time has come to stop talking in months. There's nothing more annoying than a parent who tells you that their child is 23 months, or 27 months. They're two. Maybe they're two and a half. They're not 27 months old unless you're at the pediatrician or some sort of government office.

So Happy Two Year Old Monthly Newsletter, Nate. Daddy and I are thrilled and stunned and blown away by everything you're doing these days. Sometimes we think "What's next? The big sex talk? Driving? Looking through your drawers to make sure you're not taking acid?" And then, deep down, I think "If we get to keep you long enough to go through those stressful times, I'll count all of my blessings." And in honor of this auspicious occasion, I will load this blog entry with many videos of your wonderfulness.

You give me so many reasons to brag, but I try to keep level-headed. We all know you're the best on the playground, but there's no reason to rub it in the other parent's faces. It's enough that they have to handle the burden of having such ungainly children.

You, though, are gainly has heck. You can, and will, climb anything you can find. You're a monster at the playground. At the one up the street, there's a ladder that stretches above Daddy's head, and then curves onto the play equipment. You'll happily climb it, slide down, and run around to climb it again over and over. Daddy got in trouble from another parent at the park last week who scolded him for letting you climb so high. Lucky for Daddy that you didn't fall and make him look foolish. Mama tries to let you go and explore as much as possible, since you've proven how coordinated you are, but she's not quite as free with you as Daddy is. Tough.

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Your big news is that you start school next week! Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you'll head off with Daddy to school, and then I'll pick you up after lunch. I'm hoping like crazy that you run and play and learn and have the time of your life. Especially since it's going to mean that we have to eat roadkill for dinner and that you'll be wearing the hand-me-downs from the little girl up the street.

The talking has really snowballed in the last month, and now you're all about the two-word and three-word phrases. You sweetly say "Hi Mama!" and "Bye Daddy!" There's lots of "Mama's shoes" and "Daddy's cup" and "MY BOOK!" That last one started a few days ago, and you know it gets a rise out of me, so I'm trying like crazy to ignore it or turn your attention elsewhere. Daddy works two jobs, Mama works two part-time jobs, and that book DARN WELL ISN'T YOURS. It's ours. We bought it. We bought everything you're eating and wearing and doing. It's our book. You're lucky we share it with you. Quit with the "Mine" before I let you go off to school naked in the mornings.

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It's nice to have these little conversations with you now, and it's totally changed our relationship. You ask for Daddy during the day, and instead of just comforting you I can ask you "Where's Daddy?" and you get a smile on your face and say "Ummm...Daddy work!" and then we go happily about our business. If I ask you to throw something away, or close the door, you do it and then find me and proudly report "Throw!" or "Door!" and then I lavish you with the praise you deserve. We really are incredibly proud of you; you listen to us so well, and are so pleased with yourself afterwards. If I tell you "no touch!" or "go give this to Daddy" you almost always do as you're asked. If you ask for something and I say no, you almost always just happily move onto something else. I like to think my firmness and consistency has made you such a wonderful listener, but I think a lot of it is just your happy nature. Maybe we can share the credit?

You like to sing songs with me now, especially "Tinkle." You know about 3% of the words, but you mumble along for the parts you don't know and interject when you do. Your longest phrase is "Up above the..." and then you start back in at the end with "...high." Last night you sang "Sunshine" with me for the first time. I don't think you knew a single word, but it was very sweet to listen to you warble along with me.

You like to wear gloves. A lot. Cooking mitts, rubber dishwashing gloves, the standard variety, whatever.

Your manners totally amaze me. You say "thank you" without prompting at least 95% of of the time, and often in ways that surprise me - it's not only when you're handed something, but when someone helps you get up, or helps you with a toy that's stymied you. You just started saying "please (nee!)" independently, too - when you're asking for a snack or milk, it often comes out as "Nak? Nak? Nak? Nak?....Nee!" and when you're really on top of it "Nak? Nee! Nak! Nak! Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Just a few days ago you started using "Scuse me Mama!" whenever you want my attention (even if I'm not occupied at the time). I don't know who's raising you, but they're doing an amazing job of things.

You and Daddy at the beach last weekend:

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You are so interested in other kids, and so in love with babies. Our friends came over with a newborn last week, and you sat quietly for over 10 minutes with the baby lounging in your lap. You're so gentle and quiet around other kids, and after you warm up you're happy to just follow them around and do whatever they're doing. You've never hit or bit or punched or grabbed a toy from anyone. You're such an outgoing, independent little man around adults, so it's a treat to see you so quiet and sweet with other kids. I hope that being around all of the other kids in school won't change you too much.

You seem to be a pretty giving little kid - you often forcibly share your snacks with us whether we want a cracker or not. You always share bumper with your Baby Doll, and pretend to have her go "night night" on the couch. You are starting to enjoy "pretend" games a lot which is a little tough on your unimaginative Mama. But I'm doing my best to keep up with you.

Your independence is showing through even more now that you can communicate better. If you're climbing a ladder or stairs and someone tries to help you, you're all irritated and "NO!" and pushing our hands off of your body. If you're going a little slow at clipping your own seatbelt, or closing the fridge, and I take over and do it for you there's hell to pay. Total tantrum. Crying and literally dancing around in anger. You get over it pretty quickly, but it's amazing how fast you can get furious!

We're throwing a little birthday party for you tonight with just a little group of family and friends, and having the neighbors over tomorrow for a happy hour celebration. I hope all of the fuss doesn't go to your head. There's already a big pile of presents from Grandma and Aunt Ann, and there's a few more from us hidden away. It's a good thing you're so cute or your Daddy might not let them into the house (you know how he is about clutter).

You and Daddy playing baseball in our wreck of a yard filled with construction debris. Daddy makes a pitcher's motion (complete with lifting up his leg) when he pitches you the ball - now you lift up your leg before you hit.

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Sometimes we just watch you and marvel at you. You're so perfectly formed, so adventurous, so happy, and so social. I can't think of anything we'd change about you, and sometimes we don't know what we did to get so lucky. You're the most fun thing we've ever done.

Happy birthday, Nate. We love you.