Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Harry at Almost 22 Months

I love Harry's current age. Yeah, there are tantrums, but they are definitely made up for with the cuteness of the rest. I don't want to forget the things I love so much at this age:
  • He sings. A lot. One day he wasn't ready for his nap at nap time but I was, so he hung out in his crib singing Old MacDonald and Baa Baa Black Sheep for a while before he fell asleep. He also knows Twinkle Twinkle and the ABCs well enough to sing alone, and many others to sing along with someone else, often coming in for the end of each phrase. He also enjoys humming to himself, which we sometimes hear from the backseat or over the monitor.
  • His version of the ABCs used to have "Elmo Pee" in the middle. Now it has "Elbow P." It also ends with "Why, oh me" before moving into the "Now I know my ABCs" part, which itself ends with "Nex tie so so sing with me." The cuteness is beyond compare.
  • He has memorized many of his favorite books and loves to "read" along.
  • Because P and I only really drink water and soda, and he only drinks milk or water, he thinks most drinks are cokes (or diet cokes), including beer.
  • He has a bit of a hitting problem, which he learned from a kid at daycare, which sucks. (That part is not a thing I love about this age -- the hitting or the mimicking of everything he sees or hears, whether good or bad.) We have been trying to be incredibly consistent when it comes to discipline, which seems to be the best strategy. Timeouts didn't work -- he thought they were fun and would shout "timeout!" and go sit in the corner, even when he hadn't been put in timeout. So instead we say "Hands are for hugging" and make him apologize to whomever he hit, which does seem to be working. (Note that his hits aren't hard, mostly just annoying, and are usually done for attention or in excitement, but we want to discourage it.) When we say to him, "What are hands for?" He responds with "huggin'" and goes and "hugs" the hittee. His version of hugs involves resting his head on the chest of the huggee and letting them hug him :)
  • He is a real ham, always performing for his audience, once he is comfortable with them. He says "cheese" and flashed a goofy grin when a camera is pointed in his general direction (though he thinks a camera is in fact called a "cheese").
  • When in a public place, he likes to greet everyone there, saying hi and often shaking hands. This makes restaurant dining easy -- we just have to be sure he's facing other tables so that he can work his charm and let them keep him occupied :) We did a park cleanup before Josie was born (Harry loves to pick up trash), and the mayor came to thank people for their service. He shook my hand and Ps, at which point Harry held his out, like "what, am I not good enough for you?" The mayor thought it was quite funny. When we were at a pool over the weekend, he said bye to everyone as we left, acting like the pope of chili town. He's a regular politician.
  • He does, however, take a while to warm up to new people, at least some of the time. As a result, one of us occasionally has a toddler glued to the front of our legs while he surveys the crowd. If he gets really overwhelmed, he whimpers "up or down" -- we have tried explaining that he just wants up, but after months of "up or down," this is proving hard to break.
  • When one of his daycare friends went on vacation, the teacher pointed to a plane and told all the kids to wave and say bye to her. For weeks now, every time we see a plane Harry has smiled and shouted "Bye Ally!!!" at the top of his lungs. The other kids have long forgotten, but not Harry. His teacher seriously regrets that one.
  • When both kids are in the backseat, and Josie cries, Harry feels the need to point it out, just in case we can't hear her. "Josie cryin'" is a frequent refrain heard from the peanut gallery, usually said in a very sad voice. It makes me sad that it makes him sad to hear her cry, but I love that he feels that kind of sympathy for his sister and her sadness at the torment that is riding in the car to pick up her brother at daycare (having to do pick up during her witching hour is a disaster -- ugh). I usually ask Harry to sing her a song to make her feel better. He says ok, but then rejects every suggestion for what he should sing. It almost always ends with me asking him if he wants me to sing "Do-Re-Mi," and the answer is always yes. I have sung a lot of Do Re Mi lately.
  • He loves to be helpful, especially in the yard. He is a fan of watering the flowers and of mowing the lawn (with the mower off, though P sees big potential in this one down the road). He has his own watering can.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Josie: One Month

My dear Josiebean,

After only three or so hours of labor, you made it clear that you were done; you wanted out -- now. When a dropping heartrate didn't get enough attention, you resorted to kicking your way out. It was quickly noted by the medical team that you were one very opinionated baby. That observation was repeated when you were born, and again when we were in the post-partum unit. And it's proven true -- you don't hesitate to let you dad and I (and anyone else in earshot) know that you have needs and that they aren't being met. The problem, of course, is that we don't really know what it is that you need. We need to work on the nuances of our communication, it seems.

I would suggest that there are a limited number of options, that we only have to try a small set of options to ensure your needs are met, but we have found that even when your obvious needs are met, you still aren't happy. You cry a lot. Or, more accurately states, you scream a lot. We adore you, but certainly wouldn't complain if here were less yelling. It gets exhausting. And I assume that it is exhausting for you too. I wish we knew how to make you happier. For now, we're just hoping you outgrow it.

Speaking of outgrowing things, you are a big little girl. At three weeks, you were already ten pounds. I suspect you will be outgrowing clothes quickly, unike your brother who wore some of his 0-3 clothes until he was 4.5 months. And when it comes to clothing, I swore I wasn't the type of person who would dress a little girl in all pink, but it turns out that the fact that people assume you're a boy because you aren't in pink does bother me, even though it horrifies me to admit it. So you, in fact, wear a lot of pink. Maybe when you have more hair, or it's cool enough to put more than one article of clothing on you at a time so that we can use a single pink item to demarcate, we'll start dressing you in less girlie clothing, but for now, you're in a lot of pink. Sorry about that.

And I really do hope that it cools off soon -- it has been an unbearably hot start to the summer. I don't ever remember a summer this consistently hot. And you, like your dad, your brother, and me, sweat. A lot. We have to change your clothes a lot. And you have to sleep in our room at night, as we do not have central air and our electric can only handle two a/cs on the second floor. So, for now, you sleep in the swing in our room. Because you have made clear that you will only sleep when in motion or when held, and I just can't hold you all night, as much as you wish that I could. Sorry. At some point, we know we'll need to figure out how to break you of this habit -- I don't want you to develop insomnia as a teenager when you no longer fit in the swing and no one is willing to drive you around while you sleep anymore. Until we come up with a strategy, though, the swing it is, as we all need to get some sleep (and a break from the screaming).

Despite the yelling, everyone here loves you very much. Your brother loves to give you hugs and kisses -- I'm sorry if it's more hugs and kisses than you would choose. The first thing he said when he met you was "Baby, kiss," followed, naturally, by a kiss. I can't blame him -- I love to give you kisses and hugs too. As does Buddy. You are a very well-kissed child. Thankfully, you seem to like the kissing :)

We love you very much,


Friday, June 25, 2010


They say it is darkest before dawn. Every night I hope and pray that the previous night was that darkest hour, but every morning dawn comes and I've only managed to accumulate a total of 2, 3, 4 hours of sleep and I know I've got a day to survive and more nights ahead of me.

Each night is a little worse than the one that came before it. I have begun to feel detached -- from myself, from my spouse, from my child. I look at her and know I should feel an overpowering love but instead feel frustration and dread, especially between the hours of 8pm and 8am. I would suggest post-partum depression, but it's clearly sleep deprivation, and taking an anti-depressant isn't going to do anything to fix the fact that my child has gone back to only sleeping when held, and only when held by me. (We thought we had fixed the problem, but it's gotten much, much worse, and my back hurts so much I can no longer sleep in the chair while she sleeps.) She usually gives me one 2-3 hour stretch of nighttime sleep not on me, but you never know when it will come, so I usually spend most of it anxious, awaiting the sounds of her stirring.

I would say I'm nearing a breaking point, but I think whatever that point was has passed already. Somehow, when morning comes, I manage to pull it together and put on my big girl underwear and go about my day. Then nighttime comes, and I feel shattered and cracked again.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Post-Partum Thoughts

A few thoughts on these early days with a second child:
  • Despite leaving the hospital a day earlier, I was given a shorter course of pain meds. So I'll run out of percocet at six/seven days post-partum, whereas I still had some left when I stopped taking it at seven or eight days post-partum last time. I hope the pain by the inner right side of my pelvic bone has subsided by then, because it's pretty fierce now.
  • Josie will only sleep on me. (She falls asleep, I put her down, and she wakes up within minutes of being put down and cries inconsolably.) I'm sure this will pass, and I like the snuggle time, but I'm not comfortable with co-sleeping (not in a judgmental/I-care-what-others-do way but in a I-know-it's-not-for-me way), so sleep is generally gotten while sitting up in a chair right now. Needless to say, I'm tired.
  • I miss Harry. I miss picking him up. I miss reading to him at bedtime (the only seat in his room is too high for me to get safely on and off right now). I miss actively playing with him. I miss him. Yesterday I cried a little when we snuggled while reading books and watching "mi mi mi" on my laptop in the living room. I know that a sibling is a great gift to him as well as to our family, but I already miss having special time with him, which is hard right now, post-c-section. It saddens me that he'll never remember the time when it was just the three of us, time that was so wonderful and amazing for me. My hormones are definitely readjusting right now, and I'm finding this aspect of parenthood to be incredibly difficult this time around.
  • On the flip side, I love that he calls Josie "Baby sister" (or Josie) and wants to give her a kiss all the time. And point out her body parts. I hope they develop a special relationship as they get older.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Josie's Birth Story

For me, the story of Harry's birth has always been tinged with regret. Although the outcome (Harry, my most beloved son) was perfect, I can't shake the feeling that something could or should have been different, that I could or should have done something different, that he needn't have come into the world the way he did, purple-faced through a surgical incision. Could I have done a better job in early labor of changing positions, spending more time on hands and knees or leaned over a birthing ball or over a bed in order to rotate him from the posterior position he was in? Should I have walked more in early labor? Spent more time in the tub? Gone home when an early exam showed I wasn't making much progress? Waited longer before consenting to a cesarean to give my body and my son more time to prepare? I have always wondered whether the story was really Harry's birth story or whether in fact it was my story, the story of how I birthed my son.

Josie's story, on the other hand, was and remains quite clearly her own. And this is the story of how she was born.

Monday was the holiday. We took Harry to the farm to see the animals in the morning, figuring that walking around might get things going. I had been at 1cm and 75% effaced at my appointment a week earlier and hoped it wouldn't be too much longer, as my hospital will not induce a woman who has had a prior cesarean, so I had to go into labor naturally or would be required to have another. After the farm, we went to the local pan-Asian restaurant we went to the day before Harry was born. Because it was a holiday, I couldn't get the same bento box lunch special, but I did my best to replicate it. I had started having intermittent but very irregular contractions after we left the farm, but they never really organized. I would have 6 or 7 in an hour, then none, then a few more. By night, they seemed to have stopped. They started up again in the morning, probably around 7 or 7:30, but they were still weak and disorganized. But I had been having a ton of discharge overnight and that morning and had the feeling Tuesday would be the day, or at least the start. When P left for work, I told him to try to get as much done as he could in the morning, as I might need him by afternoon.

I got Harry to daycare around 8:30 and stopped at Dunkin Donuts on my way home. By the time I got home at 8:50, I realized the contractions were more painful, coming every five minutes and lasting close to a minute. That phase of labor with Harry had lasted so long, though, that I figured things would stay like that for a while, so I went to go lie down for a bit to listen to a Hypnobabies track and drink some water and decide what to do next. I never did eat that donut.

The contractions kept getting stronger, so at 9:10, I decided to get into the tub on my hands and knees and let the water flow over my back for a bit. By 9:21, they were 3-4 minutes apart and quite strong and I started to get a little nervous about being alone for the day. Or even just the next hour or two. I got out of the tub but couldn't even manage to get dressed. I lay on my bed, wet and naked, listening to more Hypnobabies. By 9:38, the contractions were 3 minutes apart and I called P to tell him that I needed him to come home, that I couldn't do it on my own. He said he was on his way. I wrestled my way into underwear and a shirt, hanging over the side of the hamper moaning as yet another contraction came, and gave up on getting any more clothing on.

When 10 rolled around and P wasn't home yet but the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, I knew it was time to call the doctor's office. I was told I should come in to the office first to be checked. This seemed like a bad plan, but I wasn't in a position to argue so I didn't. As I was hanging up, P got home.

P then scrambled to grab the things that hadn't made their way into the bag yet. I guess I thought we'd have more time. From the time we had that "today is the day" feeling until we left for the hospital, eight hours passed with Harry. This time, it was less than 2 hours, and I couldn't put on pants in that period, much less pack a bag. We were at the hospital before we realized we had forgotten the camera. At some point, it was pretty obvious that going to the doctor's office first was a terrible plan. P called and told them we were going straight to the hospital.

Easier said than done. Even though it was after morning rush hour and there was no Red Sox game, something had traffic all stopped up. P tried to find an alternate route but there was traffic everywhere. I felt every bump and every pothole in the road and found it very tough to release and relax during or even between contractions. I couldn't lean my seat back because of the carseat behind it. I clung to the handle above the door as though doing so could slow everything down or somehow speed the car up. Eventually, my hand grew numb but I still held on.

When we finally arrived at the hospital, we had to decide whether P would drop me off then park the car or park and go in together. Neither was acceptable to me -- I knew I couldn't walk in from the garage but also refused to go in alone. The guard said we could leave the car if P moved it within five minutes. I barely made it through the door before another contraction hit. Someone brought a much appreciated wheelchair and I became one of those women who had to be wheeled to L&D. After what felt like a long wait at the admissions desk in L&D (four contractions, I think), we were able to bypass triage and go straight to a room. I was checked and was only at 4cm, which seemed shocking, given how strong the contractions were. But it was still only a little past 11am.

The doctor came when P was moving the car and remarked that the monitor seemed to be picking up my heart-rate periodically and that they'd need to adjust it and keep it on a little longer. She then checked my pulse and realized it wasn't mine, that the baby's was dropping with each contraction. Because I had just gotten there and it was a bit soon to call it a pattern, she said we had a few options: (1) wait and see; (2) wait and see but also order an ultrasound to see if we could tell what was causing the decels; or (3) break my waters and attach an internal monitor to the baby's scalp to permit closer monitoring. She noted that waiting now could reduce available options later, but I wasn't comfortable with (3), so I opted to wait. She said they'd check my progress again in an hour.

The decels continued but were getting worse. The baby's heart-rate was dropping from the 150s to the 50s with each contraction, but the contractions were so close together it couldn't rebound. It had only been forty-five minutes, but the doctor made clear that breaking my waters to permit more consistent monitoring was the least invasive option that she could recommend at that time, and I didn't question that at all. Some time before noon, my waters were broken. I had dilated to a 7.

Within fifteen minutes, the nurse could feel the baby's feet on the top of my uterus trying to push down and out. And I couldn't keep myself from pushing involuntarily even though I wasn't fully dilated (nor did the nurses or doctors, of whom there were many in the room by this point, encourage me to stop). But the baby was posterior and dilation was slowing from its extremely rapid pace and the heart-rate continued to drop with each contraction. There were concerns regarding uterine rupture and that the cord might be wrapped around the baby's neck. Regardless of the reason for the decels, everyone in the room felt the baby needed to come out immediately, myself included. There was just no way to know how much longer it would be before I was at 10cm and ready to get the baby out or how much more the little heart could handle.

The anesthesiologist was called in, and they did verbal consents for a spinal and for the c-section as they wheeled me to an OR, lacking time for written. It was a little scary, but, unlike with Harry, it felt like the right choice -- the only safe choice. It took three or four tries to get the spinal in (and I was still having contractions every two minutes, which made it really tough for me to arch my back for insertion). But once it was in and the pain let up, I realized I was far more okay with the outcome than I'd been the last time. I wasn't shaking or crying. I didn't need anti-anxiety meds. I just wanted to get it over with. The time from deciding to have the c-section until the surgery began (honestly, probably close to 45 minutes) felt like the longest part of labor.

The surgery began just before 1, and at 1:16 P got to stand and announce that we had a girl. They let me give her a kiss before wiping her down and let P participate in a lot more of the post-delivery process than he had previously. And I got to carry her with me when we went to recovery. On the whole, not the birth story I had wanted, but it was the story of how Josie was born.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Bad and the Good

The bad. I haven't posted in a while in large part because my grandfather has been dying. I wrote a bunch of posts about it -- posts about him, about my aunt, about our final visit to say goodbye -- but never felt like any of them was complete or really said what I wanted to say, so they remain drafts. My family made the decision to withdraw life support last Monday (the 24th). He passed away this past Sunday morning. I loved him dearly, and he will be greatly missed. I am especially sad that we will miss the funeral, though I am not sad about why. Speaking of which...

On to the good. And it's great. P and I have a daughter! J0sephine M@rie M. was born yesterday (June 1) at 1:16pm. She was 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 inches long. I didn't end up with the VBAC I wanted, but I did end up with a very healthy and very lovely little girl in the end, which is all I could have hoped for. I will probably post her birth story tomorrow. A preview: I dropped Harry at daycare at 8:30, stopping at Dunkin Donuts on the way home. When I got home, I realized I was having contractions 5 minutes apart. By 10:15, I was getting ready to head to the hospital. Between 11 and 11:45, I dilated from a 4 to a 7. By 12:30, it was clear that she couldn't handle a labor that fast and hard and we needed to get her out immediately. We did. No regrets.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


For some reason, coming up with a name is much harder this time than it was last time. Or maybe it was equally hard last time and I've just blocked it out. (Apparently, the latter.) Either way, we're past the 34 week point and still haven't really made any progress on names. Well, we did sit down this weekend with our spreadsheet* from last time, with popularity data updated and prior grades and notes removed, as well as some names added, and then we regraded and rediscussed. But I am not feeling at all settled in our rankings, and certainly don't feel as though those rankings represent our selections. Or at least mine.

I think for me, the main issue is that of significance. Harry's name has meaning to me. And we have a few more boy name choices that have some significance (three of our top four, in fact), though my top pick among them isn't Ps. But we can't get there with girl names. (And we are waiting until birth to find out what we're having again.) In part, this derives from the fact that many of the women in our family have had names that are decidedly unfashionable today, and I just couldn't saddle a baby with one of them. The names of our combined grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and sisters of our grandparents and great-grandparents are: Edna, Esther, Wilma, Mildred (x2), Helen (x5), Marie, Blanche, Adelaide, Emma, Clara (x2), Florence (x3), Meta (pronounced MEE-ta), Wilhemina (x2), Anna (x2), Mary (x3), Margaret, Magdalena, Elizabeth, Theresa, Lucile, Edith, Almira, Maude, Ida, Joyce, Eva, Ruby, Lillie, Effie, Bessie, Gertrude, Cecelia, Marian, Agnes, Althea (with the number in parantheses noting when that name was used more than once, and the order generally reflecting their proximity (i.e. grandparents, then great-grandparents, then siblings)). I tried going back another generation, but mainly got another set of Marys, along with a few names we'd never use because they really don't work with our last name.

The second problem is that using family names is wholly unimportant to P. I think he'd prefer not to use a family name. Which just doesn't work for me. But it looks increasingly like it will be the case, as only one or two of those names got an even remotely positive reaction from him.** This kills me. But I can't just override his preferences, as much as I may sometimes want to.

In all honesty, I think it kills me in part because of the fact that Harry's name does have this connection with the past. When people ask our kids why they got their names, I hate that one will be able to give a lengthy explication while the other will only be able to say that their name was one of the few that one or both of their parents didn't dislike. No "it has this great family history" or "it has an awesome meaning" or "it's the name of a favorite character in a much loved book." And that makes me sad. And makes me hope we have a boy for this reason alone.

* Did I mention the spreadsheet last time? I got sick of feeling like his principle contribution was the veto of every name I suggested, so I decided we would each make lists. I then combined our lists into a spreadsheet and, for each name, added potential nicknames, popularity ranking, and meaning. We then went through the list and came up with a combined grade for each name on a 1-5 scale and made notes on the name, also adding possible middle names. We then resorted by grade. It was incredibly geeky, but incredibly helpful.

** Note that some don't work because of our last name -- pretty much any name ending with M or any name that is two syllables and ends with A is out. And some of the above are actually funny with our last name (for those who know our last name, Emma is probably the funniest of the above choices, though Uma is definitely the most comic overall). The best choices tend to be longer names. Also, we are nickname people, so if the name doesn't lend itself to some kind of tolerable nickname, it becomes much tougher for us to imagine using.

Monday, April 19, 2010

PTL (Not Me)

Our friend who is due with twins (two girls!) in June has been having a rough pregnancy. Terrible morning sickness was followed by a strange problem with her back causing pain to radiate throughout her torso. When that finally got under control, the Braxton Hicks began, landing her in the hospital a few times. Over the past week, they have become painful, and an ultrasound showed that her cervix had shortened significantly, so she was put on bedrest.

Her first day of bedrest, the contractions increased in frequency, and she was admitted to the hospital. After steroid injections and a drug to stop the contractions (neither mag nor terbutaline -- because I wasn't familiar with it, I have forgotten what it was), the contractions stopped and she was moved from L&D to an observation floor. She was supposed to come home yesterday, but still wasn't home when I last checked in earlier today.

If you could keep her in your thoughts, I'd appreciate it. And if anyone has any suggestions for she and her husband with respect to getting through a month or more of bedrest, send them my way and I'll pass them on. (And to the one of you who knows her, I'm not sure how public she has been with this info, so please don't mention it unless she has mentioned it to you.) Thanks!