Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting Excited!

Lucy is going to be a year old soon!  My GOODNESS how this year has flown by!!  I just can't believe it.  I was sort of dreading the whole first birthday party thing.  I didn't want to feel like I had to have a huge party for a baby, but I also want to celebrate the fact that we managed to survive our first year as parents.  Kevin wanted to keep it just family, I wanted to invite all my mama friends and Lucy's little play buddies - who I am pretty sure she doesn't remember yet, but give her time!!  I am pretty sure most of this has to do with making his parents comfortable...I believe they are slightly ochlophobic (afraid of crowds...which, ironically, we will have even if it is just family).

So we compromised.  We would have the offical birthday party on the Saturday after her birthday and a birthday playdate on her actual birthday with my mama friends and their kids.  So far the playdate is bursting at the seams with people!  YIKES!  It is on a weekday, so I assumed it would end up being small...I was mistaken!

I was going to totally keep it playdate-y only, with some snacks and birthday cupcakes, but now I am starting to think I might go overboard.
My little Belle at 4 weeks...
Getting bigger...3 months old
...and bigger...6 months...
...nine months...

...11 months...and counting!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I saw a bumper sticker today that got me so mad.  It said "Restore Freedom!  Fire Pelosi and Reid."

Now I am not in love with either of them.  And I don't necessarily think Obama is a great president.  I didn't want him as the Democratic candidate.  I don't think he has been in office long enough to be a good or a bad president.  He sort of inherited a crappy situation and is doing what he can (which, with the deadlocked Congress and partison bickering that are the hallmarks of Washington, is not too terribly much) to solve the substantial problems that this country has.  Blah blah blah.  That isn't my point. 

My point is, how will firing two people in a vast beaurocracy do ANYTHING to restore freedom?  Then I started looking at the other bumper stickers on this car.  Anti-choice stickers.  Anti-gay marriage stickers.  Pro-W stickers.  Okay, so WHOSE freedom do you want to restore?  Your freedom to curtail other people's freedom?  Your freedom to be a bigot?  Your freedom to have a president in office who can wiretap you without a warrant?  It just go me so mad. 

WHY WHY WHY do people not understand that FREEDOM in this country means EVERYBODY'S freedom. 

And yes, that means the freedom to do things you don't agree with.  Let's take the abortion issue.  I am not pro-abortion.  I am pro-CHOICE.  Just because I don't believe it is necessarily a good choice - and certainly not the best choice in many situations - doesn't mean I have the right to tell anyone what they can or can't do with their bodies.  I don't want anyone to tell ME what I can or can't do with MY body (abortion, pregnancy, eating trans-fats, whatever).  It seems to me that anti-choice advocates only call it a choice when people make the one that THEY would.  Women are going to have abortions - right or wrong.  At least with them legal, they can do so without rusty coat hangers and hack doctors in back alleys.   And why in the world would many of these same people have a problem with birth control?  Wouldn't having access to reliable birth control reduce the perceived need for abortions?  Do these people really believe that we should just have as many babies as possible, financial, ecological, psychological consequences be damned?  So now, not only do we not have the choice to end an unwanted pregancy, but we don't even have the choice to not get pregnant in the first place?  What the hell?  Didn't God give us free will?  And if you have to CHOOSE to follow the path of righteousness for your own salvation, how is it worth anything if you have no choices to make?  You can't legislate morality.  You just can't. 

How about gay marriage?  I have a friend who recently married his partner.  They are in a stable relationship.  They love each other.  He changed his name so they could feel like a family.  They have engraved wedding rings.  They have been together for years.  They bought a house together.  They are thinking of adopting children.  Now my question is, how is this lovely man and his lovely husband doing anything to destablize the institution of marriage?  MY marriage - shockingly, I know - has been not affected AT ALL by his marriage to his same-sex partner.  Not one bit.  The only difference is, they have to fight for the right to be at each other's bedside should one of them end up in the hospital.  They have to fight for the right to be covered by the same insurance policy.  They have to jump through hoops to make sure their property and assets don't go to some random relative when one of them dies.  This is bullshit.  They are human beings, living an authentic life true to the WAY THAT THEY WERE BORN.  Homosexuality is not a choice or a lifestyle.  It is who they are.  So how is it right to tell them they are wrong or evil or not entitled to the rights that women and other minorities - hell, and redheads and the nearsighted and the people with birthmarks are entitled to?  It just makes no sense to me at all.  They are trying to live their life the way anyone else wants to in a land of supposed freedom. 

I understand that most of these issues come back to religion.  I understand that many people feel compelled to make other people in the world live by their standards.  That, my friends, is crap.  Everyone has their own moral yardstick, and it is not our freaking job to force ours on someone else.  Feel free to proselytize - it is your right to say what you choose to whom you choose however annoying and intrusive I find it (First Amendment and all).  But if people don't agree, you can't to force it on them.  It is literally impossible.  If you FORCE someone to do something, they are not choosing it in their heart.  What value is there in that?  It may have the desired physical effect (say a rape victim being forced to carry her rapist's child to term), but have you won any hearts to your cause?  Almost certainly not.  If anything, you have made a phsycologically scarred, or at least very angry enemy. 

I don't happen to believe that people should be allowed to carry guns.  But I am not going vandalize a gun-powners house, beat up his children, to go to anti-gun rallies or steal his guns in the middle of the night, because the right to bear arms is a Constitutional right and I respect that.  Also, the people who don't agree with me all carry guns.  But that's beside the point.

Incidentally, Jesus never said "Thou shalt hate the gays and take away their rights".  Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes.  He healed with lepers.  He loved those who hated him.  He LOVED.  LOVE.  He didn't say "Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself - unless he is gay."  Love, people.  Love.

When are we going to understand that the cycle of violence and hatred that is ruling our world can never be overcome by more violence and hatred.  Equal rights, freedom, choice, love.  For everyone.  That's all there is to it.

This was longer than I intended.  It just makes me so mad that people can be so hateful.  I realize I extrapolated a lot just from a few bumper stickers and I am as guilty many of the people I rail against.  I am very intolerant of other people's intolerance. 

Also, Pelosi is fun to make fun in The Capitol Steps, so that in and of itself is an argument to keep her around.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Say Cheese!

I am a YogaKids teacher.  I teach yoga to kids ages 2 years to 10 years.  It is awesome in many many ways.  Today reminded me why!

We were doing a class about colors and the first color we were doing was RED (it being the first color of the rainbow).  So the pose we were doing was the fire engine pose.  Now, I fully understand that there is no such thing as the fire engine pose in traditional hatha yoga.  But YogaKids is not about tradition.  It is about playing yoga, learning to move and control your body, exploring themes using yoga as a spring board and - most of all - having fun.  We adapt traditional poses to be more fun and engaging.  Kids - especially 2 year olds - don't hold yoga poses.  So I often find ways to trick them into it without them ever knowing what good things they are doing for their bodies.  For instance, when we do boat pose, we sing Row Row Row Your Boat.  Then we do the second verse and hold the pose a second time while singing "Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.  If you see a crocodile don't forget to scream!"  Screaming and laughter ensues and the kids have done 2 sets of a difficult pose for about 20 second each.  Some adults won't even do this.

So back to the fire engine pose.  It is actually Dandasana with Paschimottanasana or the Rod Pose with Seated Forward Fold.  This is not a well-loved pose.  So what we do is we drive our fire engine ("walking "on our bums) to the fire, hit the brakes (forward fold time!) and put out the fire.  I will spray the "hose" and the kids roll over into Plow Pose...or some childish variation thereof. 

Before we take off on this fire-fighting adventure, we buckle out seat belts.  CLICK.  We reach up tall and grab our imaginary steering wheels out of the sky.  The I say, "Now, we need one more thing to start our fire engine!  What do we put in the ignition to start a car?"

In unision, 14 excited little faces said "CHEESE!"

Yes, that's rights, my sweet little YogaKids.  We need our cheese to start the car.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Stuff I Learned from Being a Mama #3

Part 1 Prenatal Stuff I learned
Part 2 Labor, Delivery, Postpartum stuff I learned

So here is the last part (for now) in my First Year Survival Guide.  Or Stuff I Learned from Being a Mama THAT NO ONE EVER FREAKING MENTIONED BEFOREHAND!  This is what I have gleaned from these last 11-odd months with a growing, changing, demanding, wonderful, funny, frustrating little being.  I know there is so much more to learn, for both of us.  But here are some been-there-done-that things I wish I had known about before being in the thick of it.

Don't read parenting books.  Seriously.  They only served to convince my sleep deprived brain that I was doing everything wrong and I was a bad mom.  Oy.  If I could go back and change one thing, I would never read a single book on parenting techniques, parenting philosophies or sleep issues.  I had sleep book overload.  They all contradict each other and even baldly write that the other books and their authors are full of crap.  Nice.  And the worst part was, nothing we ever did ever changed the fact that Lucy was a frequent night waker. Some babies are natural sleepers, some are not.  Eventually she outgrew the waking every 2-3 hours thing.  She still doesn't sleep ALL the way through, but is usually only up once. 

Letting your baby "Cry it out" is very very very hard (and should NEVER be done with a baby under 4 months old).  When I wrote this post a few weeks ago, Lucy was still waking at night.  I finally hit a wall.  I could no longer function on only 2-3 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I had nothing left to give - to my daughter, my husband or myself.  So we shut her door and didn't go back til morning.  This was not in my original parenting plan, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done.  It took about 5 nights.  The first two were AWFUL.  2-3 hours of screaming.  I had to will myself not to go running in to comfort her.  The third night, she barely peeped at her usual wake-up times.  The fourth night, even less peeping.  The fifth night there was more screaming, but only 45 minutes.  The sixth night (and most nights since then) - 11 1/2 straight hours of sleep.  So it can work.  It is hard.  It feels cruel.  But we are all getting more sleep now, and we are all happier for it.
I also didn't realize that "sleeping through the night" for a baby means 5-6 hours.  Not my own personal definition of sleeping through, but that is what the experts all say.

Don't ask other parents of young  babies about when their baby reach such and such a milestone (er, especially sleep).  It led to me being extremely disappointed when Lucy didn't sleep through at 3 months or 13 lbs or 16 weeks or 18 lbs, or whatever everyone else said.  Your baby is your baby and will do just exactly what your baby is going to do.  I really REALLY wish I had just accepted that and not bothered asking anyone else what their baby was doing.  "Does he/she sleep through the night?" is absolutely the cruelest question you can ask a new parent.  And really, can't you just tell from how they look?  A mama with purple bags under eyes and a fresh-from-the-grave-zombie look does NOT have a baby who sleeps through the night. 
Don't rub it in if you do have a baby who sleep through the night.  If someone asks you that question (especially the fresh-from-the-grave-zombie-looking mama), you can say "She's a decent sleeper" or "He does okay most nights".  It's kinder that way. 
Everyone has their different issues.  Lucy's was (and to some extent still is) sleep.  But she wasn't colicky, she didn't have reflux, she was a good eater.  So even if Super Mom has the Amazing Mircle Sleeper, that mircle sleeper might be a screaming demon half the day where you have the angel baby who never cries. 
Milestones are placed at different intervals for all babies.  Focus on yours, not on anyone elses, or where the experts say a particular milestone should be.  In that same vein, some babies are just more interested in on set of skills than another.  Just the way you are intersted in yoga and your husband is interested in motorcycle racing.  Until he gets himself killed, that is.  Then he won't like anything.  Not every "missed" milestone is cause for concern.  For example, Lucy could feed herself large chunks of whatever I put in front of her by 7 1/2 months old, but was still dragging herself on her belly to get around.  My friend's baby was still exclusively eating purees at that age, but could crawl like a speed demon.  **shrug**  They do what they are gonna do at their own pace.

Don't forget to eat.

Put down that parenting book.  I'm not joking.  Consulting a book for a specific problem might be okay, but trying to align yourself with one philosophy or another makes it that much more difficult when something recommended by "the experts" doesn't work.  I found the best thing I could do was ask other moms in a online forum what their experiences were and if they had any tips.  Sometimes they recommended a particular book or author, but more often, they told me what they did and how it worked.  I found this to be much more practical.

Do your babyproofing way too early.  Have a friend's toddler come check it out for you.  MUCH easier than babyproofing while trying to corral a zippy little crawler.

Tracey Hogg (the self-described Baby Whisperer) is sort of crazy.  Don't take her breastfeeding advice.  Some of her scheduling ideas and her sleep advice are good, but otherwise, I would steer clear.  Plus she calls her readers "ducky".  As in "Take my advice, ducky, and you'll have a perfect baby who never cries and sleeps through the night at 2 days old. Plus you've already made a lot of mistakes, ducky, so stop being a crappy mum and do what I say."  Okay, she never said that, but she does call her readers ducky.

Join or start a mom's group for moms with babies the same age as yours.  I walked my neighborhood for months and never ran into another mom.  I know they are out there, but I would have made no mom friends witout the group I found at .  I am so grateful for the women I have met.
Don't forget that you LOVE your partner and you were a couple before you were parents. Kevin and I have a rule when we go out together that we only talk about Lucy in the car on the way to wherever we are going. It was hard to follow at first, but it makes our time out without Lucy about us rather than about her.

The days drag.  They really do.  Sometimes I find myself wishing it were naptime.  It is hard to find time to do things outside the house, let alone join in any scheduled activities, when your baby only has a MAXIMUM of two hours of really good, happy awake time.  So I just try to remember how fast the months are flying.  Soon enough we'll have all morning to go to playdates and take yoga classes and swimming lessons and baby macrame and baby jujitsu and baby Japanese cooking classes.  Soon enough.  Right now, she's happy puttering in the house or in the yard or taking the occasional outing to the fountain in downtown Silver Spring.  It is much less stressful than trying to take a full courseload of classes with less value for her than for me.  Plus she can't even get college credit for them til she's out of diapers. 

On that note, you are not required to sign your baby up for any classes at all.  They are more for you than for her.  A reason to get out of the house.  This, of course, is enormously valuable...if it is not a huge, stressful struggle to get to them every week.  I have found that almost all baby classes, storytimes and activities are scheduled smack-dab in the middle of Lucy's morning naptime.  This makes getting her to class a juggling act I am not willing to perform.  I sort of feel like I should be out there with her everyday, taking music and yoga and mommy 'n' me classes, but I try to remember that not taking her to these things does not make me a bad parent.  Perhaps I am lazy.  Fine.  But I am not stressed and Lucy is perfectly happy.  So whatever.  Of course if DADDY wants to sign her up for a class and leave me alone in the house every week, I would be all for it!

So that's it.  Everything I know.  There are major gaps in my knowledge.  I look forward to filling them in as Lucy gets bigger and even more fun.  I love being a mom and I love having a teacher as sweet as my little girl. 

What do you know now that being a mom has taught you?  What blindsided you?  What did you see coming a mile away?  Tell me tell me tell me!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I had a dream last night that sort of freaked me out.  I was in the hospital having a baby and the nurse said something was going wrong and they had to do a c-section.  They didn't say what was going wrong, just that they wanted to get the baby out ASAP.  So I said yes.  I went through a pretty brutal surgery that probably bears no resemblance to an actual c-section.  Or god, I hope it doesn't!  I'll spare you the details, but it included kitchen scissors, twine and a shovel.  Then they told me that I didn't actually need the c-section, but it was just so much quicker.  I confronted the nurse and/or doctor (it was pretty vague, in the way dreams are vague) and I told her that I would never forgive her for what she made me do.  SHe just said over and over "I is so much quicker!"  I don't remember there being a baby anywhere in sight.  I do remember thinking "I was going to have my baby at HOME! Why did I go to the hospital?"

I woke up all weirded out.  Now, I am not pregnant (that I know of, anyway) and I don't have any bad associations with my daughter's birth.  Lucy WAS born at home, just like we planned, and I have only positive, glowy feelings about the whole affair. 

So why the dream?  I think it is because I am a member of The UnnecesareanI Gave Birth At Home. Not Brave. Not Crazy. Just Educated., and a number of other home birth/natural birth type pages and blogs.  I have sort of been innundated with it all since Lucy was conceived, and the obsession I have had with birth in general has not really subsided since Lucy was born. 

I have started to ask myself if there is a reason for this.  Am I supposed to be having tons more homebirth babies?  Hah.  Try getting my husband to agree to ONE more, let alone tons more.  Am I supposed to be training to be a midwife?  A doula?  A childbirth educator?  I just don't know. 

I feel like I had such a good experience with my midwives and with my Hypnobabies course that I SHOULD be passing that information on.  Too many women are afraid of childbirth.  Too many women schedule their c-section to just get it overwith, not really thinking of the fact that c-section is a MAJOR abdominal surgery.  So many people have it done that I feel like the risks are sort of glossed over since it is so completely commonplace.  No big deal.  But there are risks.  Major risks.  Not to mention tht fact that you then have to deal with recovering from major surgery while taking care of a newborn.

And childbirth is a rite of passage.  It is truly nothing to be afraid of.  I feel like moms should have a birthday celebration on the day of their first baby's birth.  Not for the baby - but for themselves.  Mothers are born when babies are born and that is a major rite of passage that I have never heard of being celebrated in our culture.  In fact, when my next baby is born, I am going to have a belated Mama's Birth Day cake for me:-)

The ready access to drugs, the assumption that childbirth is going to be the worst pain imaginable, and the media portrayal of childbirth as a running-down-the-halls-screaming-clutching-your-belly emergency has made so many women forget that it is a normal, natural process that the body knows how to complete.  Ina May Gaskin said in one of her books that childbirth is a natural process no more likely to go wrong than, say, digestion.  Not that things don't ever go wrong - because obviously that is not the case - but generally speaking, they go according to plan - if allowed to unfold naturally.  I think because the stakes are so high and the end result is so life-changing people want the comfort of medical supervision.

But it is often that very supervision that causes the disfunction of the process, leading to more and greater interventions.  An induced labor is not natural.  The contractions don't ebb and flow like they do in spontaneous labor.  They shoot straight up to a peak and drop off.  Natural contractions "wind up".  They start slow, build to a peak and taper off.  It is sort of like a fist closing slowly but tightly, and then relaxing.  These are much easier to deal with.  You have some warning.  You can breath and relax in anticipation.  They are are not as strong in general, so they are easier on the baby.

Current research suggests that some labor interventions make a c-section more likely. For example, labor induction among first-time mothers when the cervix is not soft and ready to open appears to increase the likelihood of cesarean birth. Continuous electronic fetal monitoring has been associated with greater likelihood of a cesarean. Having an epidural early in labor or without a high-dose boost of synthetic oxytocin ("Pitocin") seems to increase the likelihood of a c-section 
         (Childbirth Connection)
As you all know, Lucy was born at home.  I chose a homebirth because I hate hospitals.  Hospitals are for sick people.  And I am blindly obediant to doctors.  I doesn't matter if I have a gut feeling one way or another about something.  I don't ask questions, I don't question orders and I KNOW this about myself. 
Here is an example.  A few years ago, I had an IUD inserted.  I went to a new GYN for the procedure.  She had never met me before.  She knew next to nothing about me.  I knew, from my own research, that she should have ordered a blood test to screen for any STDs or conditions that could potentially make inserting an IUD dangerous.  She didn't mention it.  I had been in an exclusive relationship for over a year, and neither of us had anything that we knew about, certainly no symptoms of anything untoward, and we were exclusive.  So I didn't say anything.  I assumed she knew what she was talking about better than me, even though I knew from everything I had read that if I had anything from a yeast infection to assymptomatic chlamydia, I could get a potentially life-threatening infection.  And that is what happened.  Two days after the IUD was inserted, it fell out.  The doctor just put a new one in.  That in and of itself could have caused an infection.  A week later, I started getting pains in my upper abdomen.  Then I got the period from hell.  I was bleeding like a stuck pig - literally.  I use a Keeper - which holds an ounce of mentrual blood.  I was emptying it every 30-45 minutes when a normal flow is about .5-1oz every 12 hours.  Then I got a fever.  Then the pains were so bad I couldn't take a breath without crying.  I couldn't eat.  I couldn't sleep.  No amount or strength of pain medication could help.  They brushed me off at the emergency room as having indigestion (?!?) and sent me home - twice, even though I said "I have and IUD, I am bleeding heavily, and I am in a lot of pain".  The ER doctors actually called my primary care physician (who I LOVE, by the way, and is a wonderful, caring, sensitive doctor) and asked if I was a complainer or hypochondriac.  I was finally admitted to the hospital on suspected appendicitis after 2 weeks of a steadily deteriorating condtion.  I was diagnosed with a raging case Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) that had infected the lining of my liver (thus the upper abdominal pain) and caused my gall bladder to spasm (which, incidentally, was about 1000 times more painful than childbirth - and no one once offered me an epidural for THAT).  By that time, my period from hell was STILL going, and I had lost so much blood that they couldn't find a vein to rehydrate me.  They almost resorted to sticking the IV in my NECK.  My red blood cell count was so low that my enormously elevated white blood cell count looked normal in comparison.  I was in the hospital for 8 days.  I had a week of IV triple antibiotics, several months of residual pain, and chronic tendonitis in my hips (which is a rare side effect of the antibiotics).  My "doctor" - and I use the term loosly - never cultured the infection, so we never knew what caused it.  She never recommended that my partner be treated, too, which absolutely should have been done since many PID cases are the result of bacteria traveling into the upper reproductive track - which is what happened when she inserted not one but TWO IUDs.  Three months later I had a recurrence - requiring more antibiotics - because my partner hadn't been treated the first time and we reinfected each other with whatever bacteria had caused the initial infection.  Horrible.  Painful.  Scary - not only could the infection have gone septic, but it was entirely possible that I would be completely sterile from the scar tissue and adhesions that would probably form in my tubes and uterus from such a prolonged infection.  And all of this happened because I didn't speak up and say "I read that you should have a blood test to make sure there are no latent infections - I would feel more comfortable if we did that first".  That and an incompetent doctor.  Fortunately I had no problems conceiving my daughter and the only residual reproductive effects was more shocking pain when the adhesions around my liver started to really stretch out at around the 30th week of my pregnancy. 
Let me reiterate - I am not a doctor-hater.  I would be dead without my oncologist (I had thyroid cancer in 1998).  I would be dead without my primary care doctor's perserverence to get me into the hospital - even making a phony diagnosis to get someone to take me seriously.  What I hate is that I don't question them.  I hate that, though I AM an informed consumer, I don't have the confidence to DO anything about it.  I do not stand up for myself in the face of someone with years of medical training and an "I know what's best for you" demeanor.

So what I needed was to stay in control of my birth experience without having to fight for it.  I knew my midwives would tell me if things were going awry well before a problem occured and get me to a hospital if I needed it.  I trust them.  They know me, they know my husband, they know my home.  They came to me for everything.  no one ever wagged their finger at me or used scare tactics to get me to do something I wasn't comfortable with.  And I got to crawl into my own bed after my marathon labor and sleep next to my husband.  It was wonderful.  It was empowering and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Here's the full story if you are interested.

So I am re-examining my calling in life.  I know that becoming a doula or a midwife will require me to rethink a lot of things about my life.  Like, do I ever want to be a real actor again?  Do I want to keep teaching yoga to children?  Do we have room for a new crazy career in our already chaotic house full of crazy careers?  Is this all a passing obsession that will disintegrate when Kevin and I decide we're not having anymore kids?

So many questions...lots of soul searching to do...

And that dream totally freaked me out.  Even more than the one I had where babies had to be stuffed back into their mom's belly every night to sleep.  Ugh.  Not funny at all.