Thursday, July 25, 2013

Four Months Old: the amazingness of Cassandra

Cassandra turned Four Months Old on Monday. I can't even believe how fast it's gone already. These second babies grow so much faster than their predecessor siblings do!

Here are her stats:
Weight: 17.5 pounds
Height: 24 inches

I make big healthy babies lol - she is 90th percentile for weight and 70th percentile for height. Gooooo Cassie!

I remember with Henry, every day was steeped in the newness of it all. It was both wondrous and terrifying. Amazing and challenging. This time around it's much easier for me to go with the flow, to know that things are okay, to just let things happen.

It's all this whirlwind experience of amazingness. Even the crazy parts. Even the first six weeks of having two children which, in retrospect, were really, really tough because the adjustment of a new family dynamic was huge. But the baby stuff is just so great. I literally try to soak her in as much as I can: her fat little thighs, her wonderful cheeks, the way she smiles, how she laughs, how she likes being held up in the air over my head, the way she's a master at rolling onto her tummy nearly the second you put her down. My gosh, she's amazing.

She grabs her feet, she sucks on her fingers. She talks to her toys and roars like a dinosaur at them. She loves being naked and loves looking in mirrors. And oh, how she smiles. My gosh, it is heartmelting.

She is this happy little burst of sunshine in our home. Ryan, Henry and I tend to be a bit broody and pensive and she is this little explosion of lightness and joy. She brings such a breath of relief to our lives. We ALL adore her. Henry kisses her and sings to her and tells her that he loves her. Ryan basically walks in the door with his arms out to hold her. I think the best part of my day is getting her when she wakes up because she greets me with nonstop smiles for about five minutes straight. She is just such an absolute gorgeous, wonderful joy.

And don't get me wrong, Henry is a joy too. But this post isn't about all the wonderfulness of Henry so I'll just leave it at that :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Sand" a recipe for playing ;)

it's been hot as everyone knows. And, well, unfortunately our backyard is a breeding ground for mosquitos so we can't get out there to play as much as I'd like us to.

So I've been coming up with fun creative inside things for us to do. And recently a big hit around here has been "sand" (I think this is also known as moonsand to some people). It's really, really ridiculously easy to make this:

Oil (any kind works: olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, canola oil, you get the idea)

that's it.

I just eyeball it: I pour a bunch of flour into a dishpan and then add oil in and stir until it gets an almost grainy texture. This stuff is great, it can hold a shape loosely for a bit and it's fun to squeeze in your hands but it's still loose and light. Henry loves driving his cars in it and I always put his construction vehicles in the dishpan so they can dig and load up their trunks or whatever with it. it's great and usually provides quite a bit of entertainment.

And today I used coconut oil in my sand so my house smells divine lol.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stitch Fix! AKA Help Me Style Gods!

I know a lot of my friends and readers are moms and other ladies with busy schedules so I wanted to tell you about this cool service I signed up for: it's called Stitch Fix and it seems like the greatest idea ever.

You've all heard of those services that send you boxes of various things in the mail every month. This is like that only it's with fashion. And it's personalized to you!

I am not being sponsored for this post, I'm just super excited about it and wanted to write it on my own :)

With Stitch Fix, the way I understand it is that you get a stylist and after you complete this pretty thorough style-profile they pick items that they think you might like, send them to you and then you get to keep what you want and send the rest back! SO COOL.

My first fix is supposed to come on Friday so I'll do a review ASAP.

In the meantime if this idea appeals to you and you wanna sign up, click this link and I'll get a credit once your first fix ships ;)

Woo hoo! Yay to having a fashion sense again. At least, hopefully lol

original link:
(lol this is what came up when i googled how to be stylish (the mere fact that i googled that shows i need massive amounts of help)

the unscheduled schedule

I realized recently that I have this need to constantly be On The Go. Every day me and the kids have some kind of activity. It keeps my sanity (or so I think) and it gets the kids out of the house.

But I get really stressed out on the days where I don't have anything scheduled. I look at the kids and I think, "okay, now what?" because filling the space of 11 hours of time is daunting when it is just you and two small people who need you for basically everything. I think that's why I always get us out and about. There is time to devote in the process of going somewhere: I prepare food and feed children before leaving, I shower, I clean the kids, I dress them, I dress myself, I pack a lunch, pack the diaper bag, load us all up in the car, drive to our destination. All of these activities make the day go faster and they give us all a break and a change of scenery.

But I am pretty exhausted and pretty burned out at the moment from always being on the go. And as my bout with Heat Exhaustion last week taught me: I don't really know how to take it easy.

So this week I didn't make any effort to make any plans. We have one scheduled class on Friday, we have standing playdates with a few people throughout the week but the Universe has made it unclear whether those will even happen or not (my Tuesday playdate has already rescheduled for a possible Thursday, my typical Thursday playdate has had sick kids for the past two weeks, so who knows where that stands) and Ryan and I have our eye on a big prize so we are trying to save money which means I really don't have many errands to run at all.

And I guess I'm trying to embrace this downtime as a chance to learn to be at home with the kids again. Henry has all these toys and I always have all of these craft projects that I think it's important for us to just stay home once in a while. It's already at the point where every day around 10:30 Henry starts demanding to know where we're going and what we're doing that day. I want him to be comfortable being home AND going out. And I want to be comfortable doing that too.

So here we are, home...for now.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My bout with Heat Exhaustion

We are having a heatwave right now in my area (okay, who isn't having a heat wave right now in this hemisphere?). It is beyond intense out there. It literally is like you can feel the heat with your hands while you push your way through the atmosphere outside.

In short: this was a bad week for our air conditioner to break. Which of course, it did last Sunday.

As Henry put it: "Our air conditioning has rain in it!"

We have an older home which unfortunately doesn't have central air. We've got an AC unit in the wall of our living room and that's the one that "had rain in it" and the "rain" started leaking down our wall and all over our couch last weekend. And then the unit just stopped working entirely. Right before this massive heat wave was headed our way.

After some drama (and about $500) we were able to get the air conditioner replaced on Tuesday which was an absolute blessing. However Sunday, Monday and most of Tuesday were brutal to get through. We had air on Wednesday but we had a lot of errands to do that day and spent most of the day out of the house.

Thursday came and it was the hottest day of the heat wave - temperatures soared up to 97 degrees which isn't really THAT high however the heat index was off the chart and the humidity was like something I have never experienced before which is saying a lot. We had errands to run again and I thought it would be good for us to be in retail stores anyway because while our wall unit was working okay enough to take the edge off, it was still averaging 82 degrees in our house and seriously, that's intense.

We went to three stores yesterday. And in a typical move, I forgot to bring water for myself. I brought water for Henry, I nursed Cassandra several times while we were out but I forgot about me. I had a big iced coffee with me but that was it. (note: coffee is a baaaad idea in these situations, coffee dehydrates you. I didn't remember this while I was toting it around with me)

By the time we got to Barnes and Noble so Henry could play at the train table, I had started shaking. I thought it was just because of all the nursing and my blood sugar dropping. I bought us some lunch and juice and ushered us towards home. But it didn't get better. I started feeling weaker and weaker, exhausted and dizzy. I worried I was going to faint or black out (which has happened to me once before so I recognized the warning signs). I got us home, put Cassie down for her nap and set up Henry with Daniel Tiger while I took a cool shower. My eyes were having trouble focusing, I was disorientated and confused. I started having trouble reaching the ends of my sentences. This is when I knew something was really wrong and I started talking to Ryan and asking for help. Then the nausea hit. I was so nauseous I took a zofran left over from my pregnancy. We weren't sure what to do so eventually I called my mom and she came up and sat with me and forced me to hydrate while we waited a while to see how things were.

Luckily I slowly improved. I drank a ton of water, I sat, I tried to stay cool. I tried to rest.

I probably should have gone to the doctor but I am stubborn and that is a bad thing. If this happens ever again I will probably go.

I had all the symptoms of heat exhaustion and I'm lucky it didn't progress worse than it did. I think I caught it in time and rested and hydrated enough to head it off. But it easily could have been really bad and that's scary.

I know it's very "mom like" to forget about yourself and neglect your needs (hello hydrating while nursing!) but that's not smart, it's not safe, and it's not a good example for those very kids who you are prioritizing. I got lucky this time but I learned to knock it off a bit with all the rushing and hustling around and to realize that I'm a priority too.

I'm still exhausted today and feel like I got hit by a truck a bit but I'm not worried about my own safety (and therefore the safety of my babies) anymore and that's important.

But the point here is: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES. Whether it's heat, cold, whatever, you have to be safe and take care of yourself. This weather is intense right now and since Global Climate Change is upon us in a big way i have a feeling that the summers are just going to trend in this direction more and more in the future so seriously, do it. Heat exhaustion is a cumulative thing - I spent several days over heated, under hydrated and doing way too much for the circumstances. It all built up and nearly caused me to black out and put myself and my kids in jeopardy. And that's not okay.

Stay cool out there, guys. Both literally and figuratively. lol

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

cool "recipe": Baked Hardboiled Eggs

I thought I'd pop on by and share a cool "recipe" (you'll understand the quotes in a second) that Ryan and I just found.

Ryan likes to eat hardboiled eggs. They're quick and easy and I think secretly he finds it fun to peel the shells off of them (well, at least that's my favorite part of hardboiled eggs anyway!). Hardboiled eggs are healthy and a great quick breakfast or lunch addition....when they're ready.

But it's a big pain to hard boil an egg. At least for us. It takes forever for that giant pot of water to boil (we like to do them in batches so they're prepared and ready) and then you wait and wait for the eggs to be done.

But over the weekend Ryan announced that he'd found a new recipe for making "hardboiled" eggs: you bake them in the oven! When I heard that I was excited to try it too! And it was really successful so of course I wanted to come here and share it here with you:

Baked 'Hardboiled' Eggs

1. Position oven racks in the center of the oven.

2. Place the eggs directly on the rack.

3. Place a baking sheet on the bottom of the oven (this is in case an egg breaks).

4. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes.

5. When the eggs are done, submerge the eggs in an ice bath in a large bowl of water.

Some recipes say "peel immediately" but I think that's only if you're intending to use them immediately.

An alternative to putting the eggs directly on your oven rack is to place the eggs in muffin tins instead. We actually did both and found both were very effective so it's really just personal preference. It was somewhat more difficult to grab the hot eggs out of the muffin tins but it did somehow feel more "civilized" to cook them in the tins, lol.

Alton Brown says that when you bake an egg instead of boil it, it has a far creamer texture so that's a bonus as well (and since Alton Brown said it I now firmly believe that this is the superior way to cook hardboiled eggs lol (I love him just a little bit)).

So be off with you, go bake some eggs in your oven and marvel all of your friends and family!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Set Yourself Up For Success Sunday!

Recently I've been doing this new thing, and I don't even know where it came from so let's just attribute it to Divine Inspiration or The Powers of the Universal Campaign for Good or something else similarly optimistic and positive that implies that the world conspires in our favor. Recently I've been saying this mantra in my head: I want to set myself up for success.

I know it might sound very new-agey of me but let's face it: I am pretty new agey so that's just fine.

What do I mean about setting myself up for success? For me it means making my environment easier on myself. It means asking myself what my goals are and then literally setting up my surroundings so it's easier for me to make the choices that align with those goals.

So for example: if someone wants to lose weight, a way they can set themselves up for success is to only stock their house with healthy foods. No secret stashes of trigger items or "cheat" foods. Another way is to change their driving route to work so they can avoid Starbucks or McDonalds or the Donut place or whatever triggers them into eating foods (or drinking drinks) that don't support weight loss. They can pack a gym bag and put it in their car every evening so they have it ready to use after work each day. They can make their own healthy lunch and bring that with them to work so they're less likely to go out to eat, etc.. You see where I'm going with this.

Set yourself up for success: make your physical reality support the goals in your mental reality.

For me personally this has manifested as getting my house organized.

I get triggered and cranky when there are Things I Need To Do and I can't get them done. So, when the kitchen is a mess, or there are dishes in the sink, or laundry not put away, or toys strewn across the whole house and I am in the middle of actually parenting/playing with my children, I find that my head isn't in being with my children and instead I'm focusing on all that Stuff I Have To Do and then I get annoyed because I just wanna go get it done already. I try to listen to that cutsey poem that's out there on pintrest telling you that it's okay if your house is a mess because babies are only babies for a little while but, well, I just can't handle it.  So I set myself up for success so that I am able to be in the moment more with my kids. So i can be happier and more present and not stressed out and doing dishes.

Back when I only had one kid, I had way more time throughout the day to throw a load of dishes into the sink or fold a load of laundry and (ugh, worst part) put it all away where it goes. Now I don't have that chance because the second Henry is occupied, Cassandra needs me or vice versa. And since naps don't happen anymore either, I don't have that chunk of space to get stuff done.

And it's funny because when I had all that time before, I totally took it for granted. I was way more okay with dishes being in my sink and my floor needing to be vacuumed because I knew I could get to it. Now I have no clue when my next chance will be. Whoever said that you literally lose your last slices of free time when you have the second kid was exactly correct.

So I've been Setting Myself Up For Success. And what does that look like for me?

Well, every evening I clean. Every, single one. I clean and sweep and swiffer the kitchen. I wipe down everything.

I pick up. All of the toys. All of them.

I put away blankets, play mats, boppys, laundry baskets. I sweep the foyer.

I try to set out my teacup so my husband can just start the keurig for me in the morning. On really good days I mentally plan for what I'm going to wear the next day.

Maybe all of these things are normal to you guys reading this but they never were to me. I was raised with much more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality that embraced "whatever may come". And while I'm really good at rolling with the punches as a result, I find that I really would prefer to have some semblance of order to my life at least on a base level because life with a baby and a toddler is way hectic enough on it's own that I really don't wanna be speed cleaning the dishes in order to just fill up the brita filter.

So every night I try to set myself up for success for the next day. And the same is true of Sunday.

Sundays I use as a springboard for the whole week. It's Set Myself Up For Success Sunday.

Sunday is when I grocery shop, it's when I clean the bathrooms, it's when I do all the laundry. Sunday is when I definitely make sure I vacuum (I vacuum every other day anyway though). Sunday I clean out the fridge, I clean the sink, I take rogue toys from the livingroom down into the playroom (during the week I just put them away in the livingroom toy boxes). I re-set the house so that on Monday, everything is fresh and new and ready.

All of this work really takes up a TON of my time and energy. I don't sit and watch TV much. I don't really get to read or catch up on blogs or twitter or whatever. But a result of this is that I feel much more centered in the land of chaos that is my life right now.

Having two kids in a house is like living in the center of a tornado. I've been trying to figure out how to ground myself during that tornado and making sure I am organized to the best of my capability is the way I have found to do that. So Setting Myself Up For Success is how I've come to do this.

Now don't get me wrong, we still have more belongings than space in our house so when/if you were to ever come over you would never think "wow her house is clean". I literally laugh at the thought of anyone seeing my house and thinking that LOL. Even when I Set Myself Up For Success there are still toys EVERYWHERE. Even right now there are currently piles of laundry everywhere too, there is just STUFF full to bursting here. But the upside is that I know what it all is. I know it has all recently been wiped down and sanitized. I know where things are in this chaos and I know how to function within it and that's really important. And while I really am working on getting us to a more minimalist lifestyle I know that that takes time and that babies come with a lot of big giant plastic furniture items and those things take up real estate in your house. It's all good, it's all fine.

I just wanted to share because this Setting Myself Up For Success thing has been really helpful to me. I've felt like I am somehow in control of this crazy, wild life I'm living nowadays. And that's saying something lol

Friday, July 12, 2013

On Why I Abolished Nap Time

I've done something that might at first seem kind of crazy.

I've abolished nap time.

Not for Cassandra, obviously, but for Henry.

See, Henry has always been the World's Worst Sleeper. As a baby he literally would not nap unless it was ON my body and it took until he was nearly two and a half (after a TON of dedicated work on Ryan's part) to get him to fall asleep by himself at night. He's just a tough cookie when it comes to sleep.

And in all this time I've never been able to get him to fall asleep for naps on his own. Never. Not ever. Never.

I've always had to lay with him in his bed until he would fall asleep and then I could either sneak out or else I would just give in and fall asleep too (the latter happening more often when I was pregnant).

Since Cassandra has been born this situation has been even more difficult. Most days I could bring her in and she and I would lay with Henry until he fell asleep. But then he became more and more and more obstinate and belligerent about naptime. He would thrash, he would kick, he would scream, yell, hit. He just put up a literal fight.

I would look at the clock and say to myself, "okay in 30 minutes he will be asleep". And then I'd just wait it out. And usually that would be the case.

...until recently.

Recently he has gotten some kind of burst of stubbornness and he just fights and fights and fights it. And oftentimes Cassandra will have fallen asleep and all of his thrashing and freaking out will start to wake her up.

And that's where I get mad.

In fact, this whole situation was making me mad. He would kick me and a burst of anger would erupt immediately. He would scream (literally, a scream) and so would I. I was just furious.

The reason for my anger? This was the only break I was going to get all day and here it was - a HUGE fight for me to get it. Every. Single. Day. and that made me mad. Super, super mad.

I found myself both dreading and wishing for naptime. I just wanted him to lay down and go the EFF to sleep so I could be left alone with a cup of green tea for a little while. I just wanted the chance to sit and BREATHE alone for a bit. I just NEEDED a break.

But the more he fought me on it, the more I fought back. The more explosive it all became.

And then I found myself ugly yelling at him one day. I literally was yelling, "GO TO SLEEP" to a little child. Have you ever had someone command you to sleep? I haven't but I can't assume that it's productive or effective.

And so I just....gave up.

I decided that it wasn't worth it. This whole battle just wasn't worth it. Even on the days when I "won" and he went to sleep I ended up feeling awful because I was so hostile about it, because it had been yet another stressful fight. Every single day was fraught with warfare, each afternoon a battle in this overall war about nap time. And we all know no one wins in war.

So I decided: no more nap time. No more. It isn't worth the argumentation and the anger. It isn't worth the fight.

And before you suggest that I put him in his room alone and "sleep train" him to nap by himself I will just put out a blanket invitation to anyone who would like to come over and do this for me. Because I have tried EVERY SINGLE METHOD on this child and nothing has worked. Some people are high needs in certain areas - Henry's is and always has been sleep. I invite anyone to come by and fix this for me but I am surely a skeptic.

No nap has meant a few things: it's meant that we no longer are arguing. I hardly ever even get mad at him anymore. Sure, he gets reprimanded for things several times a day but that's all just parenting related - no longer based in my emotions. And that's how parenting is technically "supposed" to be; you're never supposed to be punishing out of your own anger. Punishment is intended to be a tool to help cultivate learning, it is certainly not supposed to be an extension of rage.

So first, no nap has meant that there's been a significant drop in the conflict in our house. And that's been HUGE and wonderful in terms of quality of life for both Henry and myself.

It's also meant some other things:

Henry is tired.

I'm not sure if he's technically ready to drop a nap. I know he was getting there because otherwise he wouldn't have the energy to fight me so hard on it. I know some days are way worse than others. But yes, he's tired. He's tired and he's super cranky and on the brink of meltdown by about 6:45 every evening. This is okay though - bedtime is between 7:30 and 8:00 so we're okay.

And the last thing it means?

TV is on more often.

Since having Cassie, I've tried to cut back on the television watching in our house to no more than half an hour per day. That was going fine when I was still waging war against nap time. However now that Henry isn't napping, I've upped TV time to about an hour - sometimes an hour and a half if I really need it. This is because I realized that I wasn't super furious about him not sleeping - I was furious because I wasn't getting a break. And, well, the only way I can get a break around here without hearing 900 sentences per hour begin with "Mommy?" is if I put on Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. I don't even feel bad about this. Why? Because I'd rather my kid learn to count to 13 than be yelled at for 45 minutes straight, that's why. And sadly those were the choices.

So we are a No Nap household and I guess for now it's working for us.

I don't love that it was at that point. I don't love that I couldn't keep my cool and find some ideal solution here. I don't love that it took three months of losing my temper for me to realize that this insanity wasn't worth it. I don't love that I need the TV on every day. But you know what? I do love Henry and I love him so much that I am not willing to yell at him and I am not willing to let myself off the hook for my own bad behavior. I love him enough to let him watch TV for an hour a day so I can give myself some semblance of sanity. It might not be ideal but it is what's working for us. And that's all we need right now: something that works.

What do you do that seems "crazy" to other parents but works for you? Share with me here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Status: Overwhelmed

I've reached the point: the point of being overwhelmed. It's a daily thing now and I wake up and sort of have to pep myself up for another day. At night I literally collapse into my bed and pass out where i fall into a dreamless sleep that leaves me with just enough energy to struggle through the middle-of-the-night diaper changes and feedings. In the morning I coax myself out of bed with the promise of sugar in my tea.

I am exhausted but not just physically, it's emotional exhaustion and mental exhaustion too. A three-for-one kind of exhaustion.  The baby is teething and changing up her napping skills (waking up easier, harder to fall asleep), Henry is his typical self (although he actually has been taking it easier on me since we got back from vacation) and he's two and a half in all of the two and a half glory.

Today the baby cried on our way to the book store, while at the book store (save for two or three minutes of me reading to her), while we selected a Potty Book for Henry (more on that later) and then in the car again until she passed out. There's nothing more stressful than being out in public with a toddler who could blow at any moment and a baby who has already lost it. Taking a toddler out in public is like taking a trip with an explosive. You have to handle it the right way and hope that nothing accidentally jostles it or else BOOM, you're all in trouble.

She fell asleep so I snuck us over to run more errands at Babies R Us but I wasn't quick enough and she woke up at the end, just in time to regale us with a scream fest for the 20 minute car ride home. Once we got here she was happy again after I stripped her of all of her clothes and laid her on her playmat. Mental note made: nudity solves problems. For some people.

But really, while all of this was happening, and during yesterday as I drove around for half an hour trying to get her to sleep because nothing else was working, I thought to myself: this is my job. And if this were a different kind of job, I would be updating my resume right about now and searching the job listings for something new.

But this isn't that kind of job, now is it? I mean sure, I could go back to work and make just enough money to keep my kids in daycare but what would that achieve? Nothing much. I would just miss out on raising my kids the way I want to.

And it reminded me of something that I used to know but I sorta forgot about: the fulfillment of our dreams doesn't always make us 100% happy.

That sounds pessimistic but it really isn't.

People in American culture are so fixated, so obsessed really, with being happy that they don't pay attention to a lot of other Important Stuff that's going on. People bail out of perfectly wonderful marriages because they might not be "happy" for a few months, or even for a year or two. So what? Happy is overrated.

Happy isn't really realistic all the time.

What you're looking for is fulfilled, or satisfied. You're looking to see if OVERALL your life is on the trajectory that you want it to be on. Because not all of the things you want to do in life are going to be happy, happy fun things.

Child rearing is the perfect example of this. I wanted to have children, so did Ryan. But has it been a happy experience the whole time? Heck no. Pregnancy is miserable, birth literally left me in therapy, raising the children has left me crying several dozen times. But that doesn't mean it isn't the best damn thing I've ever done. That doesn't mean I am not madly in love with my life. That doesn't mean that I haven't set onto the path of fulfillment of my life goals. This is exactly what I want, but I'm not happy all the time.

And that's OKAY.

I'm trying to realize that the culture is lying to us by telling us we're supposed to be cheek-achingly happy all the time. I'm trying to focus on the end-game here which is the fulfillment of my goal- raising children and staying relatively sane in the process. And I *seem* to be on track for that one.

I don't know if this is making any coherent sense but I'm just putting it out there: don't worry so much about being happy - just make sure you're on the path to fulfilling your ultimate goals and desires. The happiness comes to fill in the gaps when you're on the right path. And in the meantime, grit your teeth, put your head down and put some sugar in your tea. You can get through this, I know it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

post baby swimsuits. blah.

I was visiting with a pregnant friend today and we were talking about the unfortunate task we both recently faced (given the season): maternity/post-partum bathing suit shopping.

While it is true that bathing suit shopping is usually a task that most of us don't look forward to with glee, I think it might be extra taxing emotionally when pregnant and/or recently post partum. Facing your body during this time of life is challenging. I know there are a lot of blog posts and memes going around encouraging women to embrace their new bodies - to celebrate every stretch mark as a tiger stripe - something that you earned but I want to put voice to the flip side of that coin: to the side that acknowledges that this time of life is a struggle.

Don't get me wrong, I want women to fully love themselves very much and to see their new bodies as these amazing temples (afterall, your body was the first home your children ever had! how incredible is that??) but I also want to give you (and myself) permission to feel your feelings. This change is HARD. It's hard to accept your "new" body (i put that in quotes because nothing is permanent and your new body is NOT how you have to look forever). It is hard to look in the mirror after having a baby and see that nothing is quite how you remember it to be. Things look different, you don't feel like you anymore. At least, I didn't feel like me either time (and at three months post partum after the second baby, I still don't).

Before having kids, I had gotten to a place where I was pretty happy with how I looked. I remember that feeling vividly. In fact, I still have the tiny little skirt I wore when I met Ryan hanging in my closet. And now? Well, right now at this moment I'm two or three sizes bigger than that and not really thrilled to step onto the beach.

I want to be clear here: being a certain size does not make someone valuable or beautiful. My being two or three sizes bigger than what I once was is NOT why I am unhappy - I am unhappy because of the feeling I have about the way I look at the moment. There are millions of women who are my current size and larger and who are breathtaking. This isn't about being "fat" this is about how I feel right now in this stage of life. Women are lovely at any size they feel lovely at and we should embrace ALL sizes of people (men AND women) as gorgeous.

Anyway, today my friend and I lamented this phase and realized that in part it was because we were set up for some disappointment. It seems that while you are pregnant everyone tells you that when you breastfeed the weight will just fall right off of you. I want to say on the official record that this is not accurate information for most women. For some, if not most of us, weight clings to your body for the first six months that you are exclusively nursing. Your body wants the fat to make milk for your baby. It's beautiful in the abstract, it really is. But when you are sleep deprived, hormonal and stressed out you might find yourself wishing you could just look how you want to. And that's okay.

I think it's okay to want something different for yourself. It's not okay to think self destructive or negative thoughts and it's not okay to pressure yourself to some unrealistic standard, but it is okay to say, "I want this to change" and to use that thought to motivate yourself. But don't allow motivation to bring disappointment. This is a gradual thing, I've learned. Give yourself a break.

In the meantime, this summer I am going to try to focus on playing with my lovely son in the waves. On building sand castles and giving him salty-lipped kisses. I'm going to focus on finding a few blissful moments to take a walk with my husband and to hold onto my daughter as she breathes in her first breaths of ocean air. Those are the things I am going to pay attention to, not whether my belly is still swollen from pregnancy or not. And while I might have a moment or two of insecurity about some svelte woman sauntering down the sand, I will remind myself that I can be that woman too one day if I want to - only I can be even better than her because I will have my lovely family with me too...and that really and truly does make it all worth it.

summertime and the livin's easy

I was looking at Cassandra yesterday and wondering if the time of year in which you're born somehow influences your perspective of the world at all as an adult.

Here she is emerging out of the newborn phase at three months old into the blooming and lovely world of Summer. To her the world smells like the gorgeous scent of coconut as she nurses and smells my sunscreen. Days are filled with outside activities: sitting under a tree, splashing in a shallow pool, watching her brother laugh with glee as he climbs through a jungle gym. It's hot. It's sunny. We are all on the go, always doing, doing, doing. Life is boisterous.

And then I think back to when Henry was born in November. Once he was three months old and emerging from his own newborn phase it was the end of winter and early spring. It was cold, rainy, chilly. I was neurotically afraid of germs and those dwindling winter viruses on all surfaces. We spent a lot of time indoors seeking refuge from the weather but also bundling up and snuggling close to one another. We were less active, happier indoors instead. But when the sun did come out, we would emerge with a sense of refreshment and gratitude, soaking it all in as much as we could before the clouds came again.

I have no theory about any of this, no conclusions have been drawn. It was just something interesting I was contemplating yesterday while I nursed my littlest one and thought about what this world must seem like to her. I'm glad it's bright and sunny and full of joy. I hope that her world always feels that way. For Henry, too.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

reflections on my babies

I have recently been very aware of the passing of time. I've been struggling with it, or maybe against it, like the proverbial salmon and all of that boastful upriver swimming. I guess sometimes I try to fight time like that in a way - because I see it blipping by around me and I know that in a few short breaths I will find myself on the other side of fifty, looking around my house wondering what on Earth happened. 

My baby girl will be three months old this weekend. And Henry...beautiful, amazing Henry will be going off to pre-school this September. 

It's Henry that really inspired me to write this morning. He is so the perfect embodiment of What Makes a Toddler right now and it has only just occurred to me that I am somewhat taking that and all it means for granted. I am so immersed in my life that it seems like I will always remember these moments, or that I will always be living them. But the Universe has been kind enough to remind me that that isn't so and that even on the days when I am watching the clock and waiting for Ryan to get home, that I will miss this time ever so much in the not so distant future. The time when my sweet little son is two. When the world revolves around trains and trash trucks. When he asks me to build blocks with him. When he hands me a little Elmo figurine and says "talk as him" so I will play with his little Burt or Ernie or Doc McStuffins figurine and they can discuss going to the potty and finding food in the Sesame Street fridge to eat. Soon he won't be carrying around his little doctor's bag and taking my blood pressure or listening to my "heart beep". Soon he will have friends and social activities and he will just be a big KID all of a sudden.

But right now? Right now he is the perfect bouquet of toddlerhood. With his stickers on his arms, his nails painted green, Thomas the Train socks on his feet, some kind of truck on every shirt he wears. Jelly smudges on his face for the entire day. Random bandaids on his arms because he's convinced he has a boo boo and he needs a bandage. Shoes that light up bright orange when he stomps his feet repeatedly. 

Right now he is this precious little creature and I only get to have him this way for the briefest breath of time. But it is a gift. A gift for me, I feel, because no one else gets to know him during this part of his
life as well as I do. No one else gets the warm smiles, the big "I love you, Mommy" proclamations. No one else gets to still be called his "bubby bear". He holds my hand while he watches Sesame Street, he eats into toast and sandwiches and leaves huge crusts that he hands to me and says, "here you go, mommy". He mixes chocolate almond milk as if it is the most exciting thing in the world, squeezing far too much chocolate sauce into his sippy cup and stirring like a mad man. He lays on the floor and his trucks and trains have these elaborate conversations with each other. He makes helicopter sound effects with his mouth and flies his toy helicopters through the house. His favorite thing to do is turn on a flashlight and shine the light on the floor so the cat chases it. Oh how he laughs when she does. 

And he whines! Oh, how he whines! And he screams in furious rage when he can't get something to be exactly how he wants it (lord, do I know that feeling!). He screams when he's reprimanded, he screams when he doesn't want to stop what he's doing, he screams when he can't get what he wants when he wants it. He frustrates me because it's too hard for him, when the emotions take over, to listen to a voice of reason. And I understand that, I do. I try to remember to give him the space to work it all out. This is a big world full of so many complexities. It's hard to sort it out. It's hard to take it in. Even for me.

He is just this little living ball of perfection. He's exactly who he's meant to be right now and I get to have him, all of him. I get to watch him be this little lovely person. And I know it's not forever. I know it will be gone in the blip of an eye. But oh how I love him so much. I am so, SO lucky to experience him. Every day with him. Even all the ones filled with chaos (which is most of them). 

And Cassandra...she's just starting out on her own path. She's already three months old! Already holding her head up, pushing up during tummy time. Already smiling, laughing, blowing raspberries at me. How does it go by so quickly? She's out of that blissful, sleepy, baby-scented newborn phase already. Already!

I want to try and live through all of these phases of my children with the awareness that even though this is a hard job and every day I literally collapse in exhaustion - this is such a temporary job too. My babies are only babies for a few days really. They grow and change so fast that it's astonishing. Baby Henry is a cherished memory and soon Toddler Henry will follow suit, no matter how hard that is for me to realize right now since I am living all drenched in finger paint and bubbles. Baby Cassandra has already grown and changed so quickly and I am trying to swaddle myself in it as much as I can. 

If I had a time machine I know I would probably use it just to sneak back into my first days of motherhood, to pick up my little newborn Henry and rock him. I would whisper into my own ears not to be so stressed out and scared and to truly try to cherish every single moment. 

I can't wait to see what's next. I know big changes are coming. School and friends and sports and instruments. Whatever phase he enters into next, Henry will be beautiful and amazing at it because he will always be himself and as his mother I am uniquely qualified to say that he is exactly who he is meant to be and there has never been anyone like him and there never will be anyone like him ever in this world. And he is wonderful at it. And the same is true of Cassandra, of course. I cannot wait to find out more about her. 

Life is changing and I am trying so hard to stop and stand still on a moving platform. 

Blessed. I am so blessed. And lucky for me, I know it. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday, sunday, sunday!

This post is dedicated to play-doh. Thank you for being you and for allowing me the time to blog. It is only because of you that I have had the ability to do 2/3 of the blogging I have done recently. Always in my heart.

Happy Sunday, blogosphere. I am currently sitting at my table drinking a mug of (decaf (ha!)) tea and wishing it was (caffeinated) coffee. My son is using cardboard to cut up purple play-doh next to me, the baby is napping in her swing and Ryan is simultaneously waging a war against the pipes under our kitchen sink while also cooking us lunch. Life is good, lol.

Our sink has chosen today to start leaking (and to especially start leaking while the garbage disposal runs so now I'm not allowed to turn that on for several days until Ryan fixes it...that will be great). The batteries in Cassie's swing have also decided to start to die and the song that plays while she swings has gone from an upbeat children's lullaby to something that sounds like deranged circus music.

Truly, non-parents beware and make sure that once you have a kid you always have batteries on hand - there is nothing more frightening than a child's toy whose batteries are dying. Especially if, lord save you, you have a talking toy. Once, Henry's stuffed animal Scout started to run out of batteries and I literally had nightmares of it's terrifying little voice all slow and deep saying "Hi Henry" like it was possessed by Satan.

Weekends are different now that we have two kids. Instead of a chance to relax and watch a movie, Ryan and I find ourselves competing in a dual juggling act - trying to make sure both kids are happy, fed and taken care of all while simultaneously keeping the house from falling in on itself or exploding in a cloud of laundry and home projects. It's been an interesting adjustment.

During the week not much of my routine has changed - I just juggle my household tasks with two kids instead of one. I nurse a baby while playing blocks with Henry or I strap her into the moby wrap while we run our errands. It's been a fairly seamless transition. The weekends though are really where I see the difference.

I think weekends used to be a place where we could hand off responsibility to the other person for a while and each get a chance to get something done. I could run errands solo, for example. Or I could shower by myself. Ryan got to actually do whatever he wanted to do for a few hours. Now it's different though, now we're handing off one kid in exchange for another and usually one of them is crying at the time. There is little to be found in the way of us doing whatever it is we had planned to do. And I think that's the root of parenting, isn't it? Either suspending your own plans or figuring out a way to incorporate your kids into those plans.

I think I'm making more headway with this than Ryan at the moment because, frankly, it's harder to come from a world of working in an office to basically living in a preschool on the weekends. For me, I'm used to it now and I've just come to the realization that we are living in a different universe now than the one we lived in when we just had one kid. And LOL to think about how many universes away we are from life before any kids.

But truthfully, those are Universes that I don't miss and I don't want to be in anymore. I'm grateful for the one I'm in at the moment thankyouverymuch. Although I will say this, if there's another one exactly like that only I'm excessively wealthy - I'd love to transport ourselves there immediately. Just putting it out there!

Rich as Lannisters.

Friday, April 26, 2013

some letters

Here's a post full of letters that I'd like to write right now:

Dear Zoey,

I understand that it is in the feline nature to enjoy sitting on soft materials but please stop sitting on every freshly laundered baby blanket, baby towel, boppy cover and baby outfit that I fold and leave on the couch. I have enough on my mind right now trying to keep paint-covered toddler hands off of everything that I really would love to stop pulling white cat hair out of Cassandra's mouth before nursing her. Thanks.



Dear Henry,

You are a wonderful joy and I love having you in my life. You are transitioning remarkably well to your role of Big Brother and I am truly so very proud of you. I love you so much my sweetheart.

Mommy aka your bubby bear

PS Zoey wrote me a letter and asked that you please stop chasing her around the house


Dear Ryan's Car,

Get your shit together and stop being broken. I don't want to spend all of our extra money on you right now and quite honestly, I hate giving Ryan my car and being stranded home all day with two kids when I need to go to Starbucks in order to survive  run errands. Since you're already broken at least have the decency to be cheap to fix.

No love,
Your owner's wife


Dear Ryan,

You have been so amazing since the baby has been born. You're doing an absolutely incredible job as a daddy of two and are helping me keep my sanity (no small feat, trust me I know). I love you more and more each day. Seriously.

So much love,


Dear Ryan,

This is a totally unrelated letter. I have made a list of suggestions for gifts for mother's day. They're on my twitter feed if you'd like to see them. Please email me if you have questions ;)

The mother of your offspring


Dear Sink,

Thank you for providing Henry with hours of entertainment. I have no idea why he loves washing things in you so much, especially considering how much I really dislike all of the time I've spent with you personally but that's neither here nor there. I am totally grateful that you are in my life. It is because of you that I am able to even be writing this post at all.

The lady who complains whenever she's at you


Dear PBS,

Thank you for having shows that actually teach my kid stuff and don't flood him with trashy commercials for a bunch of junk. We have enough junk as it is.

An inadvertent viewer


Dear Coffee,

Thank you. I love you.

Your biggest fan


Dear Cassie,

Thank you for sleeping in your swing long enough for me to sit down and write this post along with getting a few other tasks done. I feel somewhat human again. You are the best.

And now you're awake so I'm gonna go get you :)


Monday, April 22, 2013

mommy of two

Hi there blog, how's it going?

Me? Nothing much happening here. You know, just settling in to being a mom of two and all.

I don't want to jinx it but I think that I might be getting the hang of this whole kids (you know, instead of just one kid - no 's') thing. I've managed to wean myself off of my twice-weekly visits from my postpartum doula. I don't have people lined up to come over every day of the week. I even managed to cook dinner a few times AND clean the house. And we are even having a fairly good time. The days of manic screaming and crying (both on my part and Henry's) seem to be slowly (and thankfully) trotting off into the sunset. We're doing pretty good.

I mean, I don't want to lead you astray and have you think that this is all singalongs and fun times. I have been awake since 3:00AM, I haven't brushed my hair in a few days and I only can take showers with one person screaming and the other standing in the tub next to me with a watering can and a tupperware container full of rocks he collected from outside that he "washes" in the shower every (other) day when I get up the energy to get us all up there.

But I consider even that scenario a success.

Currently I'm writing this in my kitchen with the baby bundled in a blanket on the boppy on my lap. Henry is sitting in his high chair playing with play-doh for the first time ever (I had previously said to myself, "why would I even give in and ever let him play with play-doh - it's so messy?" (and as with all things that I declared I wouldn't do - here we are. I need to declare that I'll never wear a size two or be a multi-trillionaire))

and holy crap, there the Universe goes again - kicking me when I start to get cocky - I kid you not - while I was writing that paragraph Henry managed to get a piece of orange play doh shoved up his nose. Not just a little up there - like UP there. I had to get the snot sucker which I've been using to systematically torture his sister every morning and night and even THAT didn't work. Thank God somehow Ryan has taught him how to blow his nose and I managed to plug one nostril and get him to blow that thing out of there otherwise I was putting in a frantic call to my mother.

So I guess what I'm saying is, that's my cue to go. I might not be ready for regular blogging yet but at least I can drop in sometimes and say that I'm surviving which is more than I thought would happen if you had asked me how I predicted this was gonna go a few months ago.

One day at a time.

and at least my kids are cute:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cassandra's Birth Story

I had posted a rough draft of this story a few days ago but now I am finally sitting down to edit through it a bit. It's still an incredibly long post but it's something that's worth it to me to record.

If you're interested, you can read my post on Henry's Birth and compare them or on my follow up post about the PTSD I had to deal with after his birth.


I am going to do my best to type this up as thoroughly as possible but I am unfortunately limited to the amount of time I have. Right now Ryan is holding Cassandra while we wait for my sister to get to the hospital with Henry. Then Ryan is going home for the night and it’s me and Cassie on our own until the morning. 

As a form of some brief background for perspective, I went into this birth experience pretty afraid. I had had a rough time with my first birth and I was scared of how I might go through something emotionally damaging again and I didn't want that. I had spoken with a doula who had the insight to say that I should view this birth as a chance to heal - that not all birth has to be frightening and traumatic but that I could embrace this birth and use it as an opportunity to heal myself from the fright I still felt at the memory of my first birth experience. I loved that idea and I wanted part of it. 

In general I am a very natural birth, low-to-no intervention kind of person (this applies only to myself, i do not judge anyone ever for how they choose to give birth). I try to be very organic/holistic/generally crunchy in general in my personal lifestyle because that's just what works best for me. There are definitely exceptions to this rule and, well, not to provide any spoilers but Cassandra's birth definitely taught me to be easier on myself in regard to judgement about interventions. 

So here we go, Cassandra's Birth Story:

I was five days past my due date on Wednesday March 20th. The doctors in my practice don't like pregnancy to go past 41 weeks and wanted to induce me. Typical me wouldn't have agreed to this at all, in fact, I had a conversation with my doula about how I was just going to not do the induction and instead agree to the twice a week NST so I could labor at home like my original plan was. However, when I went in to my doctors appointment that Wednesday morning, something just felt different. I suddenly was hit with a big does of intuition about going forth with the induction. Suddenly it felt like the absolute 100% right decision for me. So instead of going in there and telling the doctor I was declining the induction, I spent the morning writing up a list of questions about their method for inducing and grilled her for about ten minutes straight. I left feeling confident and in control of things and also, most importantly, I left feeling like I was doing what was right for me intuitively.  

Up until that day I had been in what is called "prodromal labor" which is also sometimes referred to as "false labor" (a term any woman going through it hates because it does not feel false at all during the experience). What this means is that I had been having weeks of very real contractions basically on and off all day everyday but the contractions weren't organizing into a pattern and they never turned into active labor. I was exhausted from this whole experience because my prodromal labor started at 35 weeks and here I was approaching 41 weeks and I was just so tired of being on the edge of my seat wondering if the hours of contractions would ever turn into active labor. 

Wednesday night I was ready to go in but when I called to find out what time to come they told me that they didn’t have enough beds and I’d have to wait until the morning. I was upset because waiting is difficult for me once I have a plan in place - especially when it relates to something I’m nervous about and just want to get over with (which was the case here - labor scared me after my traumatic delivery with Henry and honestly, I was just so finished with this pregnancy that I just wanted to be done, I wanted to meet my baby). I was also incredibly frustrated because I had arranged for childcare for Henry and he was away from home for his first night ever. I hated that I was home and could have spent another night with him but that he wasn't there. I definitely spent some time crying into my pillow over that (plus, who could sleep knowing that an induction was happening in the morning?) 

I slept for maybe four hours total on Wednesday night and on Thursday they called and told me to come in at 8:00AM. It was snowing a lot that morning and Ryan and I drove there together in a mixture of excited jubilation punctuated with nervous anticipation (he was more the former, I was more the latter). 

Once we arrived it was several hours before I was able to begin the induction but by 11:00 they had inserted the first pill that was meant to soften my cervix and get my body kick-started into labor. One strange thing was that at my appointment the day before I had been dilated to 2cm and effaced 90% but when i got checked in at the hospital I was suddenly only a fingertip dilated and back to 50% effaced. My cervix was so high that they almost couldn’t even find it. I had literally regressed in my labor readiness. 

Anyway, we waited for four hours (which is how long the dose lasts) and during that time, nothing much really happened physically for me. I didn’t have any contractions at all, didn’t notice much going on in my body besides some twinges in my cervix. The baby wasn’t moving a ton but that was normal for her at that hour of the day. We just were waiting. And hanging out. I was checked again at the end of four hours and I was 1-2cm dilated and up to 70% effaced. My cervix was still high and in general my body was still really not ready to jump into labor. 

So they put in another pill and we waited four more hours. I didn’t have a single contraction during that time, either. And remember, this is really weird considering I had been having contractions every single day for almost six weeks at this point. 

The nurses had begun commenting that they didn’t like how baby’s heart rate was doing sometimes. They said that she would go into these patterns of not moving much and having a dropped heart-rate and that those patterns were worrying them. They would make me lay on my side and drink something periodically. 

Then, around 7:00 or so in the evening when I was still on my second dose of the inserted medicine (cytotec is what it was called) a nurse came in and said that she needed to give me oxygen because the baby wasn’t happy in there. Both sets of parents were visiting us then and i had to lay on my side with the oxygen. I was a little freaked out but tried not to show it bc i didn’t want my mom being scared and stressed. The nurse made me come back in and flip to my right side bc baby was generally happier when I was on my right so I did that too. Eventually they let me sit up and take off the oxygen. Shifts changed and the new nurse and the doctor spent a lot of time looking at the print out of baby’s heart rate and they said they were just gonna keep watching it. 

I was allowed to take a shower and walk around for a while at this point before starting the pitocin. Once you start pitocin they want you continuously monitored in bed so I really loved getitng up and getting the chance to walk around, shower and just be a normal person again. They put me on pitocin around 9:00 i think and Ryan and I tried to get some sleep. 

The way pitocin works is it’s an IV drip and they start it off really low and gradually increase it every four hours at first for the first four doses and then every hour after that until your contractions are 1-2 minutes apart. I slept through the first four hours of it without any contractions at all however I did have to go back on the oxygen once and the nurse would come ask me to be on my right side several times too. 

All of this time I was obsessively watching her heart rate on the monitors. Under normal circumstances (when I would go to office visits, etc.) Cassie’s heart rate was always in the 140s when she was awake and the high 120s when she was asleep - this was true of my entire pregnancy. However slowly over the course of the induction her heart rate stopped being in the 140s or anywhere near it and descended into being almost exclusively in the 120s. Even when I knew she was awake. I wasn't worried bc 120s is still okay but I was definitely taking note of it. 

I had my first contraction on pitocin around 1:00 or so in the morning on Friday morning. I checked the monitor and saw that her heart rate had dropped to 115. I didn’t like that at all so I kept watching it. and it stayed around there for quite a while thereafter.  I had a stronger contraction a while later and i didn’t even have to look up to know that something was wrong. And I was right, my nurse came immediately into the room, threw the oxygen on me and started searching for the baby with the monitor. They couldn’t even find her heart rate and then when they did it was absurdly low - I couldn’t see the numbers from where I was but when I heard it I was terrified. They were about to call a resident in but i was concentrating on being calm and breathing deeply and she recovered back up to the one hundred-teens level again. They obviously at that time turned the pitocin off. 

By then I was crying and Ryan was freaked out and white like a ghost. We waited for the doctor to come in and talk to us. He explained that as we already knew, the baby was going through these strange periods of deceleration where her heartrate was dropping but it wasn’t due really to sleep, it was just strange and they weren’t sure what was going on. They also weren't sure what was going on with my contractions causing it to plummet like that - whether it was just a fluke or not. The doctor said it could be a one time incident or it could be a sign that something is going on that’s not good. He said he wanted me to rest for an hour or so off the pitocin and we’d see how things looked from there. 

During that hour Ryan and I talked. I had a very intense intuitive feeling that something was wrong and that this wasn’t just that she was coincidentally unhappy or that she was in a weird position or something. I didn’t think that she was handling labor well at all. In fact, the way i saw it, my body was doing its damndest to fight labor off. We had been there for 15 hours already on powerful medications designed to induce labor and I had had two contractions total. And both of them had had an alarming effect on her little body. I mean, clearly my body and her body were each trying to communicate something here: we do not want contractions. 

I knew the doctor was going to come back in and give me the option to go back on the pitocin or to have a c-section. And despite my complete and total paralyzing fear I also knew that I was going to choose to have a c-section. 

Ryan and I talked and talked and talked it out but it was the obvious choice and we both knew it. We didn’t want to risk that she might go into another episode where her heartrate dropped like that again - what if they couldn’t get her back like they did last time? Then i’d be in the positon of having an emergency c-section anyway. And what were the odds that i’d go back on pitocin and the labor would somehow suddenly start on it’s own and everything would be fine? Pretty slim considering that we were on hour 15 and I was still only 3cm dilated and still hovering at 70% effaced. It wasn’t worth it to me - it didn’t seem SAFE to me to put her through hours and hours of labor after what she had already gone through when her heart-rate was already indicating that it wasn’t good for her. And the hard stuff hadn’t even begun yet - I wasn't even in active labor yet. She had already struggled so much and I'd only had two contractions. The answer seemed obvious to me. 

All of this is logic and explains the thought process Ryan and I went through but again what really led me to my conclusion was my intuition. I KNEW in my absolute heart of hearts that she should not go through even another attempt at labor. And I knew that we needed to have a c-section. Despite my terror at the thought of it I also knew that it was the right decision for her. Maybe it's because I was already a mom but my need for a natural birth experience for myself just did not matter to me nor did the fact that they were going to have to cut open my body and perform major surgery on me - something I was absolutely terrified of. It just didn't matter. My general feeling is: do what you want to me - just make sure my children are safe.  I didn't care that this was scary and would be tough on me. I just wanted this baby to be okay. 

So just as Ryan and I concluded our conversation (in which Ryan, who never has “vibes” said that he felt very strongly that we should not try pitocin again and that it was wrong for her), our doctor came in and he said, “Well she’s not doing worse but she’s not doing better.” and then he said, “I will respect your choice whatever you want to do here - we can try pitocin again but to be honest, I can only give you one shot at it before I have to really call it and c-section you because I can’t risk it more than that but if you want to try again we can.” and I said, “No, I don’t think it’s worth the risk” and i explained all of my thinking to him and he said he fully agreed with me and that honestly, it was his gut feeling that we should just do the c-section. 

I told him in had a strong feeling that we shouldn’t do pitocin and he said, “That’s all i ever need to hear. When a mom has a strong feeling - I always go with it.”

So the decision was made around 4:30 in the morning on Friday morning. I had enough time to call my mom, talk her through it and tell her that if they wanted to be there for the birth they should come now. Ryan called his parents too and suddenly before I knew it Ryan was in scrubs and I was signing consent forms and getting prepped for surgery. My room had nurses in it ready to go and I was being walked to the OR. By 5:05 I was getting the spinal tap put in (and shockingly to me it didn’t hurt at all) and then I was laying down on the table and they were asking if I felt anything (i didn’t). Ryan was brought in around 5:15.

Ryan was incredible during the whole experience. He talked to me and kept my mind off of everything. The doctors and nurses were all so nice and honestly, as weird as this sounds, the whole experience was almost pleasant. 

Then at 5:36 the baby was born! I heard her cry and honestly, even though this is beyond cliche, my whole world got just instantly better. Instantly. She was here and she was safe and I knew it was going to be okay. 

She weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce and was 20 inches long. 

They finished putting me back together and I was out of the OR by 6:15. It’s surreal how fast the whole thing goes once things get moving and forms get signed. 

But let’s talk about what happened because there’s more to the story...

When they went in to take her out they discovered that she had the cord wrapped around both her neck and her body twice. Every time I had a contraction during the induction she was losing oxygen and it put pressure on the placenta. There was the risk both of her just completely losing oxygen and the risk of the placenta tearing from the uterus...both of which can be fatal to both of us (if the placenta tears, I can easily hemorrhage and of course she could be in incredible amounts of danger from too much laboring under those circumstances while being deprived of oxygen). I seriously tear up thinking about what could have happened to either her or me and honestly, I am SO grateful that the Forces That Be alerted my intuiton to just stop everything right then and there.

The whole experience was remarkably healing for me. Somehow this intervention-loaded-birth that was nothing like the meditative experience I had planned was what saved me. I now have a renewed sense of faith in my body and in my intuition. I now know that I CAN trust my body, even though I felt betrayed by it after Henry's birth. I also know that sometimes the 100% All Natural way to do things isn't always the best way - that every single situation is different.

Sure, I do still feel that it's best to try and live as natural of a life as possible and I do completely support women on a path to natural birth. But I definitely now also know that it is not something to be ashamed of if you need interventions. It's not something that means that you've "given up" or that you aren't strong or any of the other things I had been telling myself would be true of myself if I couldn't just have this perfect beautiful natural birth like women are "supposed" to have where the baby descends into the birth canal and you just give birth and it doesn't leave you in therapy for months lol. That was what I wanted and I didn't get it either time but you know what? That's okay. This birth has seriously saved me, it healed me, it made me feel like I am able to trust myself again and that is a very, very valuable gift.

I don't advocate people having c-sections just for fun or anything. Hell, I don't advocate anything at all honestly. The only thing that MAYBE someone could say I'm an advocate for is people making their own choices that are right for them because honestly, at the end of the day, that's all that freaking matters. Do what is right for YOU because that is all that matters.

Birth is a miracle no matter how it happens and i know for a fact that in this situation, Cassandra’s birth was absolutely miraculous. I am so, SO blessed to have her and I am SO grateful that she is safe and she’s here and we are both alive and well. I’m glad I followed my intution and even though it hurts to stand up and recovery is gonna take a lot longer I would do it all again in the blink of an eye for my little baby girl. 

She’s screeching for mommy, gotta go <3 p="">

Monday, February 18, 2013


36 and a half weeks. Whoa.

Baby Number 2. Double Whoa.

I guess you might say that I'm "nesting". Although i think that in my life in general I am in a constant state of nesting. My house is always being rearranged, reorganized, set up over and over again. I guess, though, that my natural state of nesting has intensified over the past week or so. I deep cleaned my house last week to the point that I launched myself into serious, searing pain. Luckily I was couch-bound when my husband was home and able to take over dinner and play time for me.

We've gotten a lot done though in the past couple of weeks, I'm pretty impressed.

Her changing table is set up, her clothes are all washed and folded, Ryan built her crib just yesterday, her car seat cover is currently hanging to dry and my hospital bag is probably 3/4 of the way packed. Her boppy has a cover on it and is already packed in my car, waiting for her to nestle up in it.

There's still more to do - we have to drag out her swing, assemble her pack and play, install both infant seats into both vehicles. Her room isn't ready yet but that's not too big of a deal bc she'll be sleeping wherever I sleep for the first six months or so anyway.

Progress is good though, I am feeling slightly less like "oh holy shit". Well, at least in terms of the physical surroundings being ready for a baby.

Oh and diapers! her diapers are currently getting washed and prepped for her cute little baby bum!

So now I guess we just wait and I try not to chew my nails down to their quick...I suppose this is the time when I soak up as much one-on-one time with Henry as I can although in reality all I really want to do is lay on the couch and sleep. These huge chunks of insomnia in the middle of the night every night are really, truly starting to take a toll on me. It's hard being awake from 2:00AM to 5:00AM and still play choo-choos all day long with my little sweet boy. But I'm doing the best I can, it's all I can do.

So we wait. And slowly but surely I'll continue pulling stuff together in preparation of her arrival. Maybe everything won't be done, maybe her room will still be stacked with boxes and she'll have to sleep in a Hoarders Themed nursery afterall (joking, I won't put her in there surrounded by boxes) but I know from experience the first time around that everything WILL get done eventually and that the time will go blipping on by no matter how long and exhausting these last few days seem to be. The days are long but the years are short, they say. Truer words have honestly never been spoken when it comes to all things child-rearing in my opinion. Waiting is so hard and yet I can't even believe that I'm at the point where it's four weeks or less until I have her in my arms. Surreal. Then we'll be a family of four.

wow. Just wow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

four weeks left...some thoughts

I am almost 36 weeks pregnant. I can't even explain how quickly this pregnancy has gone by. It's been lightening speed in one way and also this slow build up of anticipation in another. By now I am both completely ready and also clinging to the past in equal increments.

I guess the big thing I didn't really anticipate is the Mommy Guilt that I feel. I am so overwrought by it. My little Henry is so used to being the center of my world, of my whole life that to "take that away" from him seems almost cruel in a way. Although the flip side of that is that I'm giving him a hugely precious gift - the gift of a sibling. He's always going to have his sister in his life now and the two of them can lean on each other and get through life together. That's just amazing and awesome and I know it's invaluable...but the selfish side of me just thinks about how invaluable these past two years have been to me. These past two years have been the most magical and amazing of my whole life. I got to learn what it is to be a mommy and what it is to just love someone more than anything in the whole entire universe. I've laughed so much more than I thought, I've cried more too but I have truly had the greatest time of my life and I love this little boy so very, very much.

Ultimately i know that this is the best decision for all of us, I do. I just have trouble coping with the fact that Henry probably won't even really remember any of these two years when it was just the two of us and that is hard for me because they have been the most significant two years of my entire life. Nothing can take it away though and that's something to remember.

I guess that's all I can say about any of this for now. She's due in four weeks and two days and that's just astonishing to me. Big life change, here we come.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Goodbye Christmas

Finally it happened. Finally Christmas got evicted from our house. Yea, it's only January 19th.

Even I, a self-proclaimed Christmas Lover think that this is ridiculous and unacceptable. Our Christmas tree had been up since the day after Thanksgiving. And here we are, more than halfway through January and it was still lingering in the corner, torturing me.

We had the intention of taking it down, we really did! But life has a way of getting in the way I guess. Ryan woke up invigorated this morning though and just tackled that tree like the Grinch getting his revenge. And I am so grateful! Goooooooodbye Christmas Tree! See you next year!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013: the year of no more BS

I am done with bullshit. 

Until now I've spent a lot of my life trying to make people happy or, worse, to try and make people like me. 

I've been on this slow continuum the past few years though where I've begun to realize that I truly have no control over either of those states of existence; no matter what I do happiness comes from within and I am unable to control whether someone else is happy or not and also I literally have zero ability to control what other people think of me or whether they like me or not.

Sure, those statements are all pretty "duh" universal truths that we're all taught via various internet memes and classroom inspirational posters growing up but despite being exposed to those lessons a lot in life, they still take a while to sink in. Yes, it's lovely to see a photo of a rainbow in Fiji with some obscure guru being quoted about how happiness comes only from the self but it feels much less-rainbowy to learn that lesson the "hard" way through the trails and errors of life. What I'm trying to say here is that it's been a rough few years but finally those rainbow memes are really becoming applicable in my Real Life and I'm starting to integrate the messages on a feelings-level, not just a regurgitated-message level (ew).  

This year (all 17 days into it lol) I've already had a few shit-tastic things happen to me. What's different though has been my coping mechanisms involving these experiences. Seems that I've had a much sought-after "a-ha!" moment somewhere along the line which has changed how I deal with most of this stuff now. My "a-ha!"?: I am no longer putting up with bullshit. I'm just not. It goes like this: "Oh, you don't like me?" *shrug*. 

Seriously. That's big-time "a-ha!" stuff right there. 

And what's even better is that that asterisk-flanked shrug isn't an exercise in false nonchalance. I actually mean it. I really and truly don't feel bothered by someone not liking me. I really and truly just shrug at that and go about my day. This is huge for me because in days of yore, I would have fake shrugged my way through it knowing that the real *shrug* was the "right" response but I secretly would have been in inner turmoil the whole time. I would have been trying to determine ways to turn the situation around, to change the other person's mind. To make them like me. Now? Now I shrug. I real shrug and I move on. 

Or, in other cases, I speak my mind. I speak my mind without torturing myself about whether what I'm going to say might Stir Up Trouble or Make Someone Upset or not. Because I finally figured out that if someone is upset, that's on them. And if they want to discuss it with me, I am a very willing and open sounding board and I will be happy to do that but I don't have to take on responsibility for their upsetness, I don't have to embody it at all. 

As someone who is (and get ready for a very new agey term for a very real situation so take it seriously please) an Empath I feel a LOT of what other people feel. If someone enters a room, for example, I can feel their mood immediately. My husband, who likes to allow his feelings to dissipate within himself as he processes them, truly LOVES this quality about me I'm sure because the moment he comes into my space with any feelings that aren't totally neutral-to-happy I start asking him questions. It's true for me of any situation though - I can really read the energy in a space and especially in people. I bring this up because I am trying to illustrate what a Big Effing Deal it is that I am no longer taking on responsibility for other people's feelings. 

See, when you're empathetic to the level that I am and you can intuitively FEEL other peoples feelings you don't realize that those feelings have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. Or at the very least you assume that since you can feel them, you are under some obligation to change them or make them good again. Well guess what? I'm not. And if you relate to any of this: you aren't either. 

People are responsible for their own feelings, their own states of existence, their own moods and interpretations and their own hesitancy to clarify or not clarify circumstances. You don't have to make them comfortable all the time. Just because you can sense how they're feeling doesn't mean that it is your job to play Emotional Hostess to their world and try to make them as happy and comfortable as possible. 

So that's what I'm figuring out now. That's where I'm at. My job is to be a little more taoist about things which is really just a fancy way of saying that I'm going to go with the flow more. Someone is upset? That's their path. Someone is upset because they don't like something I'm doing? Then I get to decide how I want to proceed forward. It's not automatic that I have to fix it (or really that I have to try to fix it because that's really all I can ever do anyway). 

Someone hurts me or does something which I find offensive? That's on me too. They don't owe me anything. But similarly, I don't owe them either. 

What I have decided to do is play each circumstance by ear and to figure out how I want to handle it. Sometimes I am going to speak up. Other times, I'm not. 

The Universe has already given me so much practice with all of this (palms up, recite: "thank you Universe") that it's kind of crazy. One example of me letting things go and going with the flow is a situation in which I wasn't asked to be involved in something I really thought I was going to be asked to be involved in. It hurts my feelings that I wasn't asked to participate, that's true. But I value the fundamentals of the relationship so much that I am okay with just going with the flow. I trust the person, I trust the friendship, I trust our situation enough that even though I am hurt, I am also okay with it. 

However in another situation I was offended by something that was said to me. In the past, I would have "let it go" (for fake) and it would have marinated within me and caused me stress and negativity. I wouldn't have wanted to "cause a problem" or risk making someone mad. But guess what? 2013 is the year of no more BS because that's not what I'm doing now. Now? I spoke my mind. I put out there how i felt and i let it go. Who knows what's going to happen? Not me. But frankly, I feel much more at peace because I was much more authentic. I listened to my intuition and I'm a big believer that you can't go wrong when you listen to your intuition.

No More BS doesn't have to be "all or nothing" either, though. It doesn't have to be either "make a statement" or "sit in the lotus position and go with the flow". No More BS can also be something else that I'm practicing in yet ANOTHER 2013 opportunity which is Figuring Out Boundaries and quietly, peacefully sticking to them. 

I have been given the opportunity (like that? it's Optimist for "there's been a shit-storm of emotions that I have to deal with") to figure out that I have certain boundaries and that previous incarnations of myself (in this lifetime) allowed those boundaries to be crossed because she was worried about people not liking her and because she didn't want to lose friendships and because "you don't want to burn bridges" and a whole host of other lies that allowed her to validate behavior that hurt her but she didn't want to deal with because she was scared that there wouldn't be anyone else next in line to show up at her door so even a Shitty Person is better than No Person At All. /run on sentence. What I am saying is that I have figured out that I have boundaries and that they are valid and not to be crossed anymore. I used to let people cross my "boundaries" all the time because I was scared of losing the people more than I was afraid of losing my self respect. 

Well, this isn't true anymore. I've been on this crazy journey for the past two years of figuring out just how strong I really am and just how capable of dealing with life on my own I am and I've figured out (finally) that there is no person who is going to be worth crossing the boundaries of respect that I intuitively need to have in place for my own mental wellbeing. 

So in my third Opportunity that I've been given this year (and there have been about four or five so far) what I'm doing is quietly honoring a boundary that I felt was being crossed. Key word there is "quietly". Those of you who know me know that I am by no means a wilting flower despite all of my talk in this post about wanting to make sure people like me. I explode, I get verbose, I love an argument, I rant. I also however always make sure I follow up, I always participate in Conflict Resolution Techniques and I always try to smooth things over. It's What I Do

But now? Not so much. Because I've come to figure out (choir of angels) that I don't need to do that anymore. Someone crossed my boundary? Maybe that means that I don't want THEM in my life. Had I ever thought of that? Nope. Not really. But now I am realizing that that choice is up to me too. I'm not at their mercy. I don't need to make sure things are smooth and nice and not all icky and conflict-covered. No. Someone does something shitty that makes me think they're not genuine or perhaps really weird or simply just not the friend they're pretending to be? Okay, noted. Now I can comfortably withdraw. I can say to myself, "Lesson learned." and have that be that. I don't need to have a big conversation with them, I don't need to "work it out" and try to figure out where the disconnect was. I don't need to understand how they view me or why they treated me they way they did so I can know how to behave in the future to "prevent this from happening again". Why? Because none of that shit is about me. It's allllllll about them. All of it. 

That doesn't mean I'm under no obligation to be a good person. Of course I am. I am responsible for my own presence in the world and for my own feelings and my own actions. but I can't change if someone chooses to treat me a certain way or chooses to not reciprocate with me something that I feel that I have given them. 

Things I can ask myself to see how I'm doing are:

- what are my values and beliefs?
- am I being genuine to my values and beliefs?
- am I following my intuition?
- am I taking responsibility for my own feelings and behaviors?
- am I being a genuinely good person based on what I believe that definition to be?
- am I being kind to myself and others?
- am I releasing negativity and ulterior motives from this situation?

If I iron out the details to that first question and am then able to answer an honest "yes" to the others than I think that's a pretty good litmus test for how things are going.  

At least that's how I've been handling all of this shit that has come up so far in 2013. I'll keep you posted hopefully on how the rest of it pans out. I'm sure that, as usual, The Universe will provide me with many more opportunities to test it all out. 

But for now, I embrace 2013 as The Year of No More BS and I look forward to kicking some ass and being myself and just finally, peacefully not giving a shit anymore what anyone else thinks about things. And I don't mean that in a vindictive or defensive way. I mean it like the real legitimate *shrug* up there. I just don't care. I don't have to take it on, it's okay. 

And that, my friends, is a HUGE sigh of relief.