Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blog makeover

The polka dots were a-making me dizzy, so I've opted for a simpler look. I'll be tweaking it for the next few days but my goal is for it to look cleaner, simpler, and less busy (that all means the same thing, doesn't it?)

Oh, and how 'bout that smile? And all the hair! When Nelson got home last night he was certain Oscar'd grown since morning. It certainly seems that way sometimes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

So long, John Edwards. You will be missed.

John Edward ended his bid for the White House today, and I think we are poorer for it. I know he was never a front runner, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact he just doesn't have the celebrity of Clinton or Obama.

From the beginning Edwards has been devoted to addressing poverty in America, and an outspoken advocate of working families. I think that he helped put these issues on the radar screen for the other democratic presidential hopefuls. We owe him a debt of gratitude for that.

I will admit, I am biased - Edwards sits on the board of the organization I left to raise Oscar, and his campaign manager is my former boss David Bonior (who is was my great honor and pleasure to work with and for.) I was lucky enough to hear Edwards speak at an event with maybe 500 other people, and the man talked about poverty and working people in a way that most politicians do not. He gets it. I hope he'll continue working on this issue and making a difference in our country.

That being said, OBAMA '08!

And somedays, he's the best

I've been fighting a cold all week, and loosing. As I'm sure you know, having a cold can really sap all of your energy. When you combine that with breastfeeding, it's fair to say I've really only been running on a quarter tank this week. I've been going to bed early, drinking water, etc. but am still quite exhausted.

This morning, my husband, who I swear sometimes wakes Oscar on purpose before he leaves just so I have to start my day as early as he does, performed miracles. When he came to kiss us goodbye he said, "I emptied the dishwasher and loaded it, and I brought up the laundry from downstairs, and ..." like five other things I usually do in the evenings (after Danny's gone home and the bean is in bed), but haven't been able to muster this week. I got up (late) to a cleaner house than I'd left. Now that is romantic.

Photo: Oscar throwing gang signs and his bull face.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Last Tuesday marked my and Nelson's third wedding anniversary. And I totally forgot. And Nelson did not. This is not entirely surprising for a few reasons, the obvious being I'm an exhausted Mommy to an active and demanding seven-month-old who's having sleep trouble. The less obvious is that Nelson is the romantic one - he's the one who remembers things like our first kiss, what we were wearing when we first met, our first date, etc. These things have long ago passed into oblivion for me (so I guess he could re-write our history anyway he wanted, really.)

When my wonderful husband reminded me of our anniversary (the day before), I was actually annoyed at him for something, as I often am. Not in a I-hate-everything-you-do kind of way, but in a married-people-annoy-each-other kind of way. I can't remember why I was annoyed - he'd left the lights on upstairs when he came down, or hadn't put laundry away for a month, or "forgot" to do the dinner dishes - who know, the list of things Nelson does that annoy me is seemingly endless (love you, honey!).

So, here I am, annoyed about something trivial, and he goes and remembers our anniversary. Making me feel absolutely awful. I tried to brush off the feeling, but it stuck with me, because the feeling wasn't just about forgetting our anniversary. I forget stuff like that all the time and I know Nelson doesn't mind. I think he kind of likes that he is the one who's the keeper of all of our relationship milestones. When I apologized to him, he said, "It's okay. We're parents now. That's what's important," or something similar, which is actually why I felt (and still feel) so bad. We are parents now and that is a huge part of both of our lives. In many ways, our relationship as parents has taken over our relationship as husband and wife, and that is difficult for me.

I guess it is normal for your parental relationship to take center stage, particularly when it is so new. But, in all honesty, sometimes I really miss when it was just Nelson and I - sleeping in on Sundays, having pancakes, and sharing the paper. Holding hands when we walked down the street. Going out for a late dinner on a Wednesday nights at our favorite Thai place. Even just a quite moment alone without having one ear open for an urgent cry.

So, what I replied to Nelson, is that while I know being parents is really important, he and I are also important, and our relationship independent of being parents is important. I feel like I totally lost sight of that and now that I'm so much more comfortable in my job as mother, I'm going to work at doing a better job as Nelson's partner and wife.
Above, Nelson and I, four days before Oscar was born - our last weekend prior to becoming parents.

Friday, January 25, 2008

To blog, or not to blog

So, I've been avoiding blogging because the largest issue in my life right now is sleep training Oscar, and I've talked enough about sleep on this blog and sleep training is really hard and leaves me feeling really conflicted. But, given these options, I feel I've made the right decision:

Option 1 (no training, last month and a half): Oscar in bed by 7pm - wakes 8+ times a night - comes in the bed at 10:30 (at third or fourth waking) - nurses every 1.5 hours until daybreak - at daybreak, starts poking, pinching, shrieking at Mommy - naps 2x a day for 15-30 minutes.

Option 2 (training, last two days): Oscar in bed by 7pm - first waking, Oscar cries (HARD) 15-25 minutes - sleeps until 11:30, nurses and back in crib by midnight - wakes at 6am, nurses stays in bed w/Mommy - starts the day at 7am.

So, we're going with Option 2, which is really hard and really shitty in the moment, but really awesome the next day when both O and I are well rested and much less cranky. As if a kid with a smile like this could ever be cranky (yes, this is a gratuitous baby-in-the-bath shot.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Boys will be, well, you know...

Full disclosure #1: I totally wanted a girl. One hundred percent. And, I think most people really want one or the other, but just say they want a healthy baby so as not to jinx anything. Now, I was not disappointed when I found out I was having a boy (I was ridiculously relieved that he was healthy), but I was shocked. I just never thought I could grow a boy. And I didn't think I could live without having a daughter.

Full disclosure #2: I could not be happier that I had a little boy. In fact, I don't even want a girl now. I'd be pleased as punch to have a whole brood of boys (three more, please.) I'm not sure why. Okay, I am sure why, but I'm not going to say at the risk of hurting feelings of those with daughters and of any potential daughters I might have. Suffice it to say, I love having a son and couldn't imagine it any other way.

So all of that because I really wanted to talk about Danny, the little boy I am lucky enough to take care of three times a week and who has totally re enforced my desire to have more little boys.

Danny is fantastic, funny, and brilliant to say the least. In many ways, he and Oscar are very similar. They both love to pull hair, get tickled, fly in the air. They both favor the same toys - the Whoozit, the panda bear rattle, the blue block with the red disc, the green ring with the orange tabs. However, if Danny see said panda rattle on the opposite side of the blanket, he'll screech at it and laugh, and then proceed to PULL THE BLANKET TOWARDS HIM until he can reach the rattle. GENIUS! Oscar, in the same exact situation DIVES HEAD FIRST TOWARD THE RATTLE and (if he doesn't smash his face) inches his way to it. DEATH DEFYING!

Here is a photo of Danny (who is able to PROBLEM SOLVE at 8 months) trying to keep Oscar (the daredevil) from creeping his way into a pit of flames...or something like that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How does your baby grow?

Unearthing the lost Oscar photos made me realize just how much our little bean has grown! If I was a little more computer savvy, you'd see a slide show here. Instead, watch little Oscar grow in the photo montage below beginning with his birthday and a photo for each of his last seven months.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Oscar is quite the yogi. He does a beautiful "Happy Baby" (lying on back, holding feet), and he demonstrated his fantastic "Full Cobra" in our yoga class on Monday. This weekend, he's been working mastering "Half Chaturanga" (look it up.) I think "Table" may be next...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nelson redeemed!

Several months ago, I wrote a post about how Nelson had misplaced a USB cable rendering me unable to upload any photos from the internal memory of our camera. I harangued him endlessly about finding this cable for weeks to no avail. He claimed to have looked everywhere and found the USB cable nowhere.

Yesterday evening, I decided to pump some breast milk for Oscar because I was going out to wine club and leaving my perfect son home with Daddy for and extended period FOR THE FIRST TIME (more on this later). When I opened the pump (which had not been used in probably four or five months) what did I find but the camera USB cable! As best we can determine, our cleaning ladies, in their endless quest to not only clean but de-clutter our home, put the cable in one of the pump's storage pockets along with the pump plug and tubes. Neither of us ever thought in a million years to check the breast pump for the missing USB cable.

So, Nelson has been redeemed! He DID NOT misplace the camera USB cable. He's been cleared of all charges. Above is one of the photos that's been sitting on our camera for about five months - Oscar's first trip to UMCP (he and Daddy in front of the Engineering Building.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What's my name?

Oscar, wearing his Fat Face

I thought I was the only one who was going to give my kid an identity crisis, but Susanica proved me wrong! Things you many hear Nelson and I call our son:

Oscar, Oscarelli, Oscariffic, O, O-man, Buzz, Bee, Bunny, B. Bunny, Bee Buzzington, Bun Bun, Bunny Boo, Buzz Beeington, Cutie McStinkpants, Stinky McCutepants, Stinky, Cutie Cuterton (from Cute-ville, no less), Smilar, Kicklar, Monkey, Silly Billy Boo, Little Man, Mommy's Boy, OG, the original OG, Boo Boo, Crankleton, Fusserton, Little Oscar No Nap, Moscarelli, Cutiepants, Bean, Beantown, Sweetie, Sweets

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stay-at-home feminist or Nostalgia gets the better of me

Last month, I got the great news that one of my best friends from college, Pam, is pregnant and expecting her first baby in July. She and her husband are great friends and great people all around and are going to be fantastic parents. I am so happy for them. I love it when people join the parenthood club. It's a good place to be.

Pam's recent announcement, and a conversation she and I had about child care, got me thinking. She and I have know each other for about 10 years. We met in college - we were both Women's Studies students and members of the campus feminist activist group. It was a pretty big group of women, and while I'm still in touch with several of them, I've only remained close with a few (Pam, Katie, and Miche.)

Anyways, it got me thinking back to Pam's feminist bridal shower - I think she got married like a semester before we graduated. Our friend Catherine (who I think is now in her home state of TX these days working on her PhD) wrote in Pam's shower card "Good luck fighting the patriarchy from the inside!" which, while kind of snarky, was pretty appropriate coming from Catherine. Catherine, who (in my memory at least) was funny and bold and fearless, who had no problem declaring that she hated it when her friends dated men, lambasted straight women who did not defend their right to choose while she, a lesbian with no motherly ambitions showed up at every pro-choice march, who once told me that being queer and being a feminist where inextricable for her. If I'm honest here, I have to admit that I kind of wanted to be Catherine, just a little.

So, here I sit, thinking about Pam and her baby, her bridal shower and my memories of Catherine the fearless feminist. It makes me think of Caitlin, who shaved her head my senior year (not actually an uncommon thing for a WMST major to do) and sparked this great debate amongst us all about the politics of hair for women - what it means if you have long hair, or short hair, or die your hair, or give yourself an intentionally bad haircut, or shave your head, or your legs or underarms for that matter. I miss that.

And I can't help but wonder, what would Catherine or Caitlin say about my decision to quit my very good and noble job to stay at home and raise my son (also a very good and noble job, but not in the same way)? Would Catherine call me a sell out? And, in truth, I do feel like a little bit of a traitor. The Jenni from the feminist bridal shower who debated the politics of hair never thought in a million years she'd be a stay-at-home mom.

Yet, here I am. Home and absolutely smitten with my bouncing baby boy. I've often felt the need to justify this decision - the cost of childcare, my daily commute, etc. - when the truth is, I just want to be with him. I'm cuckoo bananas for this kid and I love every second I spend with him. Being home with him is way more rewarding than my job. And way harder. How did I, a feminist, not realize that raising children is incredibly hard and important work? And I LOVE it and I'm good at it, really good at it. I'm raising a person who's going to respect women and crusade for justice and be hilariously funny and exceed expectations and write the great American novel and change lives and run marathons and climb mountains and vote democrat and be a fabulous feminist and a community activist and a global activist and recycle and volunteer and always get my jokes and be exceedingly happy in life and enormously successful and like a million other things I can't even imagine at this moment. What could be better or more important that that?

So, here I am, a ridiculously happy and proud stay-at-home mom. Who knows what my old feminist cronies would say. Probably "Wow, good for you!" which is what my current feminist cronies said when I told them I was staying home (although I wonder, how many of them mean it and how many are silently judging me?) I'll admit, this is not who I thought I'd be - but it's so much better.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

P.S. You Stink!

Today, I went out and saw my very first post-pregnancy movie. In a theater! Royale 14 Cinemas, conveniently located about two miles from my home, has just started a Mommy Club every Wednesday, noonish. Oscar, beautiful, perfect Oscar, nursed for about 10 minutes and slept for the rest, waking just in time for the credits. Good baby!

Today's feature was Jennifer Garner's new film, P.S. I Love You. This is absolutely not a movie I would ever see in the theater, but I would probably rent it, owing to the cuteness of Jennifer Garner and the hotness of her Irish love interests. And, despite the title of my blog, it was a totally cute movie and I really liked it (Kathy Bates was awesome, JG was cute, Irish guys were not only hot, but sang and played instruments.) But, I had already formulated the snarky blog title before seeing the movie, and who wants to waste a snarky blog title?

P.S. Next weeks' flim is Juno (also staring Jennifer Garner), which I'm actually into, so I can wait!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Busting loose!

And no, surprisingly I'm not talking about baby poop. I'm talking about baby teeth. That's right, teeth, the plural of tooth. Oscar woke from his afternoon nap at 3:45 yesterday and proceeded to stay up until after midnight. Then, he woke about every 1.5 hours for a nurse - sometimes less (once he only let me get 20 minutes in before he began howling.)

Sometime around 10:30pm, I looked down at my baby boy, who'd been nursing (or attempting to rip my nipple off) for the past 3.5 hours and said "If you have a tooth in there, I won't hold this against you." I stuck my finger in his mouth and felt not one but TWO little razors poking through his poor gums. As of this morning, there's no white showing, but there are two red crescent shaped marks on his lower gums - and they are SHARP. We're referring to them as his egg teeth ;)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Napping: Lessons Learned

As a veteran of the Nap Wars, I thought I'd share what I've learned.

1. The first nap of the day sets the tone - if this one is good, they'll all be good. If not, put on your battle armor because it is probably going to be one heck of a day.
2. Sometimes, babies will take three one hour naps for weeks in a row in two to three hour intervals. This is awesome and the absolute best you can hope for.
3. Sometimes babies will take two one to two hour naps twice a day, spaced between three and four hours apart. This ain't so bad either.
4. Sometimes, babies will take three 30 minute naps at one to two hours intervals for weeks in a row. This is less than awesome.
5. Sometimes, babies will take four 10-20 minute naps completely randomly spaced for weeks in a row. This is not good.
6. Sometimes, babies will take no naps all day long. This is torture.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Oscar's birth story - Jenni's perspective

Since my little guy is the inspiration for this blog, I thought I'd post his birth story. It's a long one so you better get a snack:

Oscar Dominic
Born: June 14, 2007 at 9:33pm
Weight: 8lbs, 6ozs
Length: 21 ¼ inches

My water broke at 12:30am on June 14. I was half asleep and I felt some moisture (more than usual) and it occurred to me that maybe my water had broken. I jumped up and went to the bathroom and there was a little splash followed by some trickling fluid. My water HAD broken! I was totally surprised – I never expected my water to break because my mother's waters had not spontaneously ruptured with any of her pregnancies.

I woke Nelson and told him my water had broken. I called the BirthCare answering service and told them my water had broken. The midwife on call, Regina, called me back in a few moments. She asked me a few questions – what color it was is, had I felt that baby move, was I having contractions. I was not having contractions so she told me to go to bed and get some rest and call back at 8am and we would discuss ways to start my labor.

I started having irregular contractions around 1:30am. They were about 30-40 seconds long and anywhere from 6-10 minutes apart. My contractions became stronger and more regular by around 3:30. They were 4-5 minutes apart and around 55 seconds long. I called Regina back and she suggested I try and lay down and that I call back around 7am. Regina was attending a birth at the birth center, so she was going to figure out who was available to deliver me.

I tried to lie down and that made my contractions much stronger and more painful, so Nelson and I walked the floor and I rocked on the birth ball. Regina had suggested that I keep changing positions to ease the pain. By 7am, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and 60-70 seconds long. This is when they really started to hurt, but they were still not unbearably painful. We called the birth center again, and Regina told us Marsha would be attending our birth and that she'd be calling us soon. Marsha called a few minutes later and told us she'd arrive around 9am, and advised us to call our birth assistant, Liz. We called Liz and she said she'd also arrive around 9am.

I continued with labor until Marsha and Liz both arrived around 8:30. I was walking the floor and using the birthing ball and swaying with Nelson through my contractions, which stay consistent but did not get any longer or more intense. A few hours later Parvina, a midwife from England who is training to be a Birth Care birth assistant, also arrived.

Marsha decided to check me around noon. I was 1-2 centimeters dilated. I was really disappointed because I'd been in labor for so long and the contractions were so intense. At this point, Marsha was concerned about my energy level. I was exhausted and had only had about 2 hours of sleep the night before. She asked how I would feel about taking Ambien so I could sleep in between my contractions and get rested up for transition and delivery. Nelson and I decided this would be a good idea, because I was really wiped out and having trouble maintaining a positive attitude. I took the Ambien around 12:30 and I slept between contractions until around 3:30 or 4pm. This was actually really tough because when I was lying down the contractions were much longer and more intense, but I was actually falling dead asleep between them. The Ambien wore off and I continued to labor between the toilet and the bed with Parvina and Liz close by. They suggested Nelson nap, which he did in another room, and Liz and Parvina were with me, rubbing my shoulders, lower back, and legs to relive the pain during my contractions. When I woke up, I started having back labor, which was the worst. It felt like a 100lb weight grinding into my lower back. The only thing that relieved it was Liz and Parvina putting counter pressure on my back. I did not develop my own spontaneous ritual, but my vocalizations were either an uncontrolled scream or "Ohhhhh!!" Thus, the midwives suggested I vocalize, "Ooopeeen. Open. Open…"

I was 5-6 centimeters dilated. This was around 5pm. She told Nelson and I that because my labor was progressing so slowly, she was worried about our stamina, and she felt like we need to do something to push me into transition. What she suggested is that we try some nipple stimulation. We agreed, and she and the assistants left the room to give us some privacy. And, WOW, did the nipple stimulation put me right into transition!! The contractions starting coming right on top of one another and were lasting about 90 seconds. This is the point I thought to myself "So THIS is why women get epidurals!" It was so amazingly painful, and there was no rest in between them. I was screaming my brains out (I'm surprised my neighbors didn't call the police! – seriously) I really started to feel (and say) that I couldn't do this, I didn't want to do this. Just then, Marsha showed up and said she wanted to check me again. I was 8-9 cm! And I was starting to feel the urge to push. So she and the assistants went about setting up for the birth, and we were ready to get Oscar out by 7:30.

Nelson was incredibly supportive and really got me through transition – he didn't let me give up and he really helped me keep going when I thought I couldn't.

So, I started pushing. Unfortunately, Oscar had been ramming is head down on my cervix and the lip was swollen. He couldn't get past it, and it was keeping me from fully dilating. For the first hour, I pushed in several positions – on my side, on all fours, in a supported squat all with no progress.

I ended up on my back in between contractions, and I was pushing from a sitting up position. Marsha had to actually go in and hold my cervix out of the way so Oscar's head could pass through. That was the only part of the pushing that actually hurt. After his head got past, things started to move more quickly. In between contractions, I kept asking Marsha "where I was pushing" so I could visualize the baby's position, and that was really helpful. Initially, I was vocalizing during contractions and expending a lot of energy. Marsh and my birth assistants recommended I vocalize in a lower pitch, push with my chin on my chest in order to put more of my energy into the pushes. Grunting as opposed to yelling made a huge difference. Marsha coached me in my pushing the whole time. I was so tired, and she was great. And it really is true what they say about the pushing being gratifying. It was the best part of my labor.

I remember reaching down and feeling him crowing, and then I remember my last four pushes the best. Marsha told me I was almost there. So I pushed and I pushed and then Marsha told me just one more push and to reach down and catch my baby, and I did! He slid right into my hands. It was so awesome and awe inspiring. Nelson was great during this part too – he was so excited because he could see the baby and knew how close we were. Oscar came out with a cry, and my dogs, who were both lying in the bedroom door way, each issued a welcoming bark! It was pretty funny. In all, I labored for 20 hours and pushed for 2 of those.

Marsha put the baby on my stomach and suctioned him. They waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then Nelson cut it. I got to hold the baby and bond with him for a while, and Nelson took him while I delivered the placenta and they stitched me up. I had a second degree tear, mostly on the inside. Then I took a shower and watched Marsha show Nelson how to diaper and dress an infant. It was very cute. They observed us until 2:30, made a heroic effort to clean and straighten things up, and then left us on our own!

Marsha, Liz, and Parvina were all amazing – they kept me hydrated, well fed, and in good spirits. It was wonderful to have so many experienced women assisting in my birth. Even though my labor was long and hard, I didn't even realize that day until the next day when Marsha told me how long and hard it was, and what a great job Nelson and I did. And they were all impressed with Nelson and how supportive he was and how prepared and calm we both were during our labor, which we totally credit to Susan our childbirth instructor. And Nelson was the best birth partner a woman could ask for. I would never have made it though labor without him. Our decision to have our baby at home one of the best we ever made. Neither of us could imagine doing it any other way.

Happy Friday!

My handsome boys on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Like a baby

Today is my first day as Danny's official childcare provider (although I consider myself more like family) and I couldn't be happier. After a morning of playing eating, and a little fussing, I have not one, but two beautiful boys sleeping like lambs. I dare you to tell me your job is better!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Family Christmas

My husband's tragically awful gift giving is something of a legend in our families. He's given me a battery booster kit for my car, really unfortunate items of clothing, CDs and DVDs that he likes (not me), a photo frame with a picture of him and his best friend, and the list could go on. It was like he was buying gifts for someone he didn't know. It had gotten to the point where I expected my gifts from Nelson to make me laugh hysterically, and I was okay with that. But, about three or four years ago (after a full decade of wretched gifts) Nelson turned a corner. He started giving me beautiful artisan crafted earrings, great books, innovative twists on things I'd asked for (for example: an alarm clock that won awards for it's innovative design). It was like some light went off and he started putting actual thought into my gifts. Each gift is better than the last. I didn't ask for anything this year, so I was completely surprised when I received a portrait sitting with a professional photographer that specializes in parent/child photos. I had been lamenting that there were no good photos of Oscar and I, so my husband deduced that professional photos would be the perfect gift. He was so right and I love him so much.

Uh-oh, Cheerios!

Oscar's first attempt at finger food:
What the heck are these things?

Cheerios, you say? And I can eat them? I LOVE eating!

Dang, Mommy, Cheerios are the shiznit!

Maybe I can eat them like this...

No, wait, this seems to be working better.

Hmm, how do I get a whole handful in my mouth?