Monday, June 30, 2008

The shape of a mother?

Have you seen this website? It's an eye opener. It has pictures and stories from mothers of all ages, shapes, and sizes, both during and after pregnancy. Some of the pictures are jarring and frightening to those who have not birthed. Some are impressive and jealousy-inspiring to those who HAVE birthed. But I think they, overall, provide a unique glimpse into the female body.

But, my point is not to get your TOO wrapped up in that very engrossing website. It's to bring something up that I sort of skirted around a few days ago: having a baby changes everything, right down to the curve of your belly and the texture of your skin.

I started a project awhile ago on this blog, one which I have yet to complete because I don't feel it's ready. I wanted to get pictures of women - real women - in swimsuits and share them here. I wanted all women...thin, fat, tall, short, moms, not...to share pictures of themselves showing what REAL women look like. Because sometimes it's perfection, and sometimes it's not so much. But no matter what, it can be beautiful.

So, part of this post is to ask you women out there who have not sent me pictures to consider doing so. You can show your face, or not. If you're willing, comment here and I'll get in touch with you.

The second part of this post is to point out my own hypocrisy: I have not taken my OWN swimsuit picture for this project. And why not? Because I am ashamed of my body post-baby. I had more than enough curves before having Luca. Now I have more than one person could EVER need. And yet...I want other women to share their pictures with me and all 12 of my readers (ha!). So I started thinking how we mothers do amazing things. Our bodies create and nourish life, support it into this world, and feed it the 'perfect' food. And yet, we mothers tend to be more ashamed and let down by their bodies than most any other group. I wish I could change this. Maybe I need to start with myself. With realizing my body is not what I wish it was, but it's amazing still, not because of how it looks, but because of how it LIVES.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Molar.

Her sleeping issue the other night?

Her first molar.

Poor kid's got a gap tooth grin to rival Madonna. And I am SO glad I didn't make her CIO the other night now that I know WHY she was awake.

Mother's Intuition and....my overall awesomeness...at play, friends.!

Sleep.

I consider myself a lucky mom....consider US lucky parents, really. Our child is generally well-natured. She's got spunk. She's got personality. She's sweet and affectionate. Far from perfect, but perfect for her. And I know in a lot of ways how great she is can be credited to nurture (aka we sure are some Kick-Ass parents!) and part can be credited to nature (aka, we sure have some Kick-Ass grenes!).

But there is one area where I guess only time will tell if we 'did right by her'....sleeping. Call me crazy. Call me a pushover. Call me undisciplined, stupid, insane, a softie. Call me what you will, but don't call me for sleep advice if you're looking for someone to loan you Dr. Ferber's book. I know his teachings (along with the harder-core cry it out method, the Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep Habits, and Happiest Baby on the Block) are considered parenting gold for many. I know they work for many. I also know quite a few moms whose "I'll NEVER..." rapidly became, "I SAID I would NEVER, but...". And that's fine. Really, it is. But I'm not one of them.

This is not to say my child has never cried for a few seconds alone, nor that I rush to her the second she fusses. I don't often rock her to sleep anymore (I doubt she'd even let me most of the time), and I make her stick to a bedtime schedule, even if she doesn't think she wants to go to bed quite yet. But you won't find me timing her crying spells to let them go longer each consecutive night. Nor will you find me going into her room and talking to her but NOT TOUCHING HER to reassure her she's ok. Rather, when my baby wakes at night crying, I head into her room, give her back her Boppy, lift her to my arms, and rock and sing.

I've always felt secure and happy with this choice in parenting, and nothing anyone says about the joy and beauty of 'sleep training' can convince me they are right and I am wrong. Perhaps I got lucky...after investing about 4 months into feeding and snuggling my baby to sleep every time, she started not needing to be snuggled so much. By month 6, she sometimes could go to sleep without the help of the magical boob. By month 10, she rarely needed the boob at all, thought the rock and snuggle were still much appreciated. And by 12 months of age, she was consistently able to be put to bed, wide awake, and fall asleep in a matter of minutes without so much as a peep. So when people told me I was wrong, when she was a baby, to let her fall asleep at the boob, I'm glad I shrugged them off. When people told me I shouldn't respond to her every cry, I know I did right by her when I ignored their advice. When others promised me that 'someday' I might need Ferber and the like, and I said 'No thanks.', I feel like I made the right decision for us.

Don't get me wrong: some moms and dads use 'sleep training', and it's a life-saver. Some kiddos need help getting into their rhythm, and that is ok as well. Just as I won't use those methods, not for my kid, I wouldn't tell them they must use my methods.

There are nights still when the thought of 'THIS is why parent let their kids cry it out!' pops into my mind. One such night happened this weekend, when suddenly Luca decided, at 1:16 a.m., that sleep was not an option for her. She awoke with a cry, so I trudged into her room, ripped from the cusp of a deep sleep, to give her the Bop and a snuggle, sure she'd be back asleep in a matter of seconds. A peek into her crib showed me that she had the Bop already (surprising, since losing the Bop is the reason she wakes fussing 99% of the time). Not too concerned, I lifted her onto my chest and began to rock slowly, sure she'd be asleep again soon. When she started to go limp, I put her down and left the room.

I was met with angry shrieks before I even hit the hall. Back into the room I went, plucking the Bop off its spot about 10 feet from the crib (this kid has quite the future in softball, I think!), and scooping her up all in one giant stride. The Bop went in her mouth, her head fell, sweaty and damp cheeked, to my chest, and we swayed together again.

Lie baby down. Leave room. Get into bed. Curl up, silently thanking whoever invented the down pillow-topper. Start to drift. Hear baby....shrieking again.

This time Darrick went to her, but 5 minutes later he was back, and she was crying before he'd even hit the mattress. I decided to let her have a second...see if she would pass out again. 2.5 seconds later, I was up again. This time, I thought I'd bring her in to lie with me in bed, and when she fell asleep we could sneak her into the crib once more. And this is where it really went awry.

We settled into bed, me on my back and Luca froggered up on my chest. She nuzzled in, absently playing with the strap of my tank top. I concentrated on deep, slow breaths to help calm her down. Her crying had caused her breath to become choppy, and I wanted to give her a mellow breathing pattern to follow. Sure enough, her breaths slowed and deepened, and her little hands loosened their grip on my tank top. I could feel her head start to get heavier, her little feet twitch as an early sign her body was letting go...giving itself up to sleep. Content, I started to count down in my head, knowing that within seconds she'd be out for the night.

And then....thumping on the staircase. 4 feet, heavy with slumber and desperate for a patch of floor in our room. Silently I swore at her, "RUBY! Get the fuck out of here and go back down those stairs NOW!". Of course, I had to remain silent, so I started making a low hum and shush noise, hoping Luca would not hear Ruby pound up the stairs, click across the tile in our room and onto the carpet, paw at her dog bed, shift and turn and lie down and shift some more and lick her paws and scratch her ear and shift still more and then sigh like all this work to get comfortable was taking SUCH a toll. My efforts to shield Luca from this proved pointless, as her head snapped up, her Bop fell onto my neck, and she whispered 'Doh'. Riiiiight.

So what now? Well, once she tried to scale down my torso to get to the end of the bed and go visit the 'Doh', I knew there was no chance in hell she'd be falling asleep in that room. So I decided to take her down to bounce on the yoga ball. This was a sure-fire method to get her to sleep, the golden ticket that always worked for us.

Down the stairs we went, into the great room. I sat on the ball, bouncing her as she hugged up to me. We created our own rhythm...a mommy and baby dance into dreamland. And she started to give in to sleep, and then....behind me on the recliner...I heard the soft snore that leads to a giant beastly rumble, coming from Piggy. Frantic, I looked around to see what was in arm's reach, and found a pair of Luca's jammies. I grabbed them with a toe, hoisted them to my hand, and flung them over my shoulder, hearing them land on top of Piggy. Just enough disruption to wake her without hurting her. The snoring stopped. Sweet silence. I looked at the clock. It was 2:07 a.m. And then I heard, from behind me, "Sllllllllurp...shlemp, shlemp, gnaw, gnaw, gnaw..."...the sweet sound of Piggy licking and chewing her paws. If you know Piggy, you know this paw licking can last for minutes and minutes on end, and it clearly would not do. Luca started to lift her head to look around, so I panicked once more, grabbed her empty sippy cup, and chucked it over my shoulder so that it would hit the back of the chair behind Piggy. I knew the noise would make Piggy stop. And it did. And it also made her streeeeeeeetch off the recliner, climb onto the floor, and come rambling over to sniff Luca's bare feet.

In an attempt to not freak out, I...well....freaked out. I jumped off the yoga ball, threw the sliding door open, looked at Pig, and said, sternly, "PIG. OUT." And out she went, and back on the ball we went, Luca now with wide eyes. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Shush and hum and sing. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.

From the backyard: LOUD barking, running across the tiles of the patio, a stainless steel dog food bowl sent skittering across the patio, more barking.

I was 3 seconds from waking Darrick to take over when silence reigned finally. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Rock and bounce and hum and bounce. Head rolling gently with the rhythm. Legs softening and going limp. Hand letting loose the tendril of my hair it had been holding.

Trying to not even BREATHE too loud, I bounced to a standing position, kept the rocking motion going, and walked Luca back up into her crib. It was 2:15 a.m. I could have gone back to bed, but I know this game, and I knew better. I'd rather be disturbed from watching TV than from sleep, and I knew this was not the end of it for us tonight. I wandered out back, loved on Pig and apologized for being mean, and then went back inside where....crying. More crying. Harder and more frantic than before.

This time I didn't even fool myself. There was no low lighting and boucning and humming. No kicking out the dogs so there would be silence. Instead, I settled into the recliner with a little 'Tori and Dean', and let my monster roam the downstairs. I didn't know how long it would be. It was 2:27 now. Luca spent some time wandering the room, hugging Piggy, who was now on the couch, and coming up to curl onto my lap. Finally, she headed into the kitchen, where she found an empty box to play with. That was fine for about a minute, and then the crying started, loud and shrill, red face and real, hot, fat tears on her cheeks. Frustrated, I scooped her up, refilled her sippy with milk, told her, "This is it. Drink this milk and then it's to bed with you." In my head was this voice, saying, "Uh huuuh, sure. Nice try mommy. I give her 5 minutes before she's frantic once more."

She drank the milk. I held her in my arms. We climbed the stairs, her mewing "uhn...uhn...." and me assuring her in a soft voice, "It's bedtime for babies. Babies need to go nigh-nigh. It's time for babies to sleep."

We went into her room. I rocked her one last time, kissed her sweet cheek, put her in her crib, told her I love her, and closed the door. And then...back downstairs to watch TV until she awoke again.

Silence. Tori and Dean talking about how he won't cheat on her with the scuba instructor, Kim. More silence. Piggy standing up, turning in a circle on the couch, and settling back in. More silence.

It was 3:20 when I finally allowed myself to believe it was over for the night and headed back up to bed. Sweet pillow. Insanely comfortable bed.

Thinking about something a mommy friend of mine once said, I told myself, "I can deal with these nights, because they won't always happen. It's only for a season, and this season belongs to her."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Baby Weight.

No, this post is not about losing th pregnancy weight...that's a topic I'm highly unqualified to discuss. It's about babies, and what they weigh.

Odd topic? Maybe, but one that every pregnant woman and mom will find herself obsessing over at one point or another. When you're pregnant, people are forever guessing at baby's size. I heard more than a bajillion times, "That's going to be a BIG baby!". Mostly, this was said by people who took in me (5'8") and then looked over to my husband, who at 6'5" and 275 pounds, dwarves most mere mortals. On top of this, my mom had 4 kids, and 3 of us were well over 8 pounds. So, from early in my pregnancy, I was resigned to a 'big baby', but I tried not to let it bother. The way I figured...AND head coming out of that part of a woman's body hurts...whether it's attached to a 6 pound body or a 9 pound one.



Well, wouldn't you know it? I ended up with a skinny baby, tipping the scales at a mere 6 lbs, 7 oz. She was lonf (21") and lean, with a small head (in the 25th %). And you KNOW I heard ALL ABOUT IT from everyone...people I knew, people I loved, people at stores and restaurants and everywhere we went. The most common question we got was, "Is she a preemie?" She was not. In fact, she was born right on time, and in spite of the odds, she was just a little bird.



Now, when you're a new, first-time mom and you're trying to figure out breastfeeding, and the media and pop culture inundate you with picture and stories starring fat, bald babies, you start to wonder. You read baby magazines, filled with chubby, pink and camel skinned cherubs, their thigh rolls yummy and looking like little spilling vats of pudding. Their TOES are chubby, for shit's sake!



And there's your baby....your little, thin, bird-legged baby. And you worry. And you stress. And you wonder if breastfeeding really is the right thing to do. And, of course, you take it personally. You start thinking of witty comebacks to all those invasive questions about your baby's size and weight. Offhanded smartass remarks like, "She's only small because of all the meth I did in pregnancy!", "Small? No, no, no! You're just so used to seeing fatasses like yourself everywhere you go, so you don't recognize a normal kid.", "She's on a diet. We'd appreciate if you wouldn't mention her weight...she's really sensitive about it!"



But, of course, I never dared. I just smiled and endured conversations like the one I had at the mall one day:

Saleslady: "She's precious! How old?"
Me: (cringing because I KNOW she thinks my kid is a matter of days old, and she's almost 3 months) "Almost 3 months."
S: "Oh. OH! She was a preemie then?"
M: "Nope. Right on time. Just a skinny little bean."
S: "Don't worry honey. My grandkids were preemie twins, and they caught up. She'll catch up too."
M: "Oh, um...she's not a preemie. Just skinny."
S: "Yeah, preemies can be so hard. Don't worry. She's get chubby soon."

Ummmmmm.....what conversation was that woman in? How many ways can I say "She's not a preemie." before I lose my fucking mind?!?!?

I eventually developed my own pat answer to these sorts of inquiries. One that was honest, slightly passive agressive, and made most people stop haranguing me: "She's not a preemie. She's just long and skinny. We should ALL be so lucky, right?"



Anyhow, as Luca grew, it turned out my instinct that she wasn't 'too small' was right. Turns out, she was just right for Luca. Every Pediatrician appointment brought a weight check, and then a visit with the growth chart.

A word on bay growth charts: 99% of Pediatricians use a chart based on formula fed babies. And, studies show, formula fed babies not only tend to start out chubbier, they tend to stay chubbier into adulthood. So when your breastfed baby is being compared to a formula fed one, it's not an even contest at all.

Anyhow, when she was a newborn, we'd go in and those words "She's 5th % for weight..." would crush me. I could feel the unspoken, "So what are you doing wrong???" hanging in the room, whether or not her Dr was actually thinking it. People would ask me what she weighed, and I'd cringe, then answer, then watch the shock register on their faces. Nine times out of ten, these were other moms asking, and 9 times out of ten, I'd get a response like, "WOW. Really? Was she a preemie? MY son weighed 6 pounds more than that at her age!"

Now, this would be followed by me looking into the stroller to see a kid who was so fat his little shorts were being sucked up into his thigh fat, and he had neck cheese spilling out onto his shirt.

MmmmHmmmm.

Now, far be it for me to judge chubby kids. I envied them, really, because while we all know that obesity is on the rise in America, chubbiness is still considered the 'norm'. People run around declaring with glee, "He's in the 99th percentile for weight!", and no one bats a lash. Imagine me, running around bragging about my baby: "She's in the 3rd percentile for weight!!!". How do you think THAT would have gone over?

Anyhow, our latest appointment was for Luca's 12 months. She weighed in and, to our surprise, had jumped up a few rungs on those famous weight charts. She was a healthy 18 pounds, 6 ounces, landing her a spot in the presitgious 10th percentile for weight. Her height was (has always been) in about the 75th percentile. So how did I feel about being 7 percentage points close to 'average'? Relieved. Not that she had gained weight, but that I could STOP HAVING TO ANSWER THE AGE OLD "WHAT PERCENTILE IS SHE IN?" WITH "THIRD.".

It was only after her appointment that I stopped and realized something: Luca's 12 month appointment was done almost 3 weeks late, but her little weight dot was plotted on a chart with ther 12 month olds. We cheated the system by 3 weeks....and I wonder how many percentage points?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summertime.

Summertime in Arizona makes me feel mildly insane. It's not just HOT in Arizona, it's fucking disasterous blazing madness. Even more insane is all the silly people who move to Arizona because of out 'beautiful weather'. I have news for these people: 120 degrees is not beautiful weather, it's what I set an oven on to heat up rolls for dinner.

120 degrees is so hot, that standing outside on pavement, you can feel the bottoms of your feet starting to toast and sweat just drizzles down the small of your back.

120 degrees is so hot there's almost no point in even getting ready in the morning, since the walk to your car alone is done at 95 degree temperatures (at 6 am), and by the time your car cools down to comfortable, you have sweat so much you look like you just lost a wrestling match to Chinadoll.

120 degrees is so hot, that at night it never really gets a chance to cool down, so going outside on a breezy evening is akin to stepping in front of a giant blowdryer set on 'hot'.

It never fails to amuse me how 'foreigners' to this desert land tell themselves it's 'not that bad' and 'it's dry heat, so it's fine'. My friend and I were having this conversation today about her parents, and how they are from the midwest, but recently moved to Arizona. This friend lived here for 8-ish years. She knows better than to believe the hype. And yet, her mom insists on telling her 'Oh, 115 is not so bad. We're rather enjoying it. And the WINTER here is beautiful!'

People. PEOPLE! A mild winter (which, really, by midwestern standards could scarce be considered a winter at all) is NOT a fair trade for summers that start in April and last through October...sometimes November. It's not fair trade off for deodorant melting in your car when it falls out of your gym bag (or, in my case, when you slept in too late and tossed it in your work bag, to be applied while driving the madness of the I-10). It's not fair trade for 105 degree midnights and 95 degrees at 6 am. It's not a trade off for needing to drink 8,465 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated, only to discover you should probably be drinking more since you just realized you've only peed once all day. It's just not, people. And it's insanity to pretend it's ok and 'not that bad'.

What puzzles me even MORE is that people move to this hot ass desert, and I cannot figure out the draw. We're 36th in indicators of child wellness. We're 51st in providing summer food to poor children. Our education system is topped in shitiness by only a handful of states (we're one of those states that's always saying 'Thank god for the South!'). We give less money per student to public education than nearly every other state in the union, and we've got the low-wage labor force to show for it. AND, on top of all this, SUMMER HERE LASTS 6 MONTHS AND IS AKIN TO LIVING IN A GODDAMNED KILN!

Midwesterns: heed my warning. Don't move here. Just don't. Cuz I give you 2 summers, 3 max, before you're bitching about the heat like a local. And, on top of it, you people are always the ones lamenting how 'people in Arizona don't know how to drive!' when we all know PEOPLE IN ARIZONA WHO DON'T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE ARE YOU!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

A tribute to three very special Dads in my life:








Photo Shoot

I posted awhile back about Luca's photo shoot we did for her 1st birthday, so I wanted to share some of those pictures. We got quite a few, so I'm just picking some of my favorites, which is QUITE the challenge when they all were so amazing!

So, without any further ado....my 1 year old:













Tuesday, June 10, 2008

13 Months Old.

Luca's 12th month of life was a DOOZY! She did lots of new and fun things this month.

We started it off with a bang, by celebrating her birthday in style. We did the party the weekend before the actual day, and the turnout was amazing. Seriously, I had no idea our kid was this popular!!! She got gifts as far as the eye could see, and tons of loves and well wishes. I shared some pictures at the time, but I'm also attaching a montage of pictures taken by her wonderful Grandparents. (Please note, music goes along with this, so you may want to click the pause button to quiet the music on the righthand side of this page.)



The day of Luca's birthday I took off of work so we could spend some time together. She napped, we did some shopping and lunch out, and I held it together pretty well (stark contrast to the emotional breakdowns coloring the week leading up to her birthday). Luca and I also stopped by to visit her Grandparents and take a tour of the flowers. She loved playing on the 'flower wall' and splashing in the fountain.


We celebrated our second Mother's Day in low-key fashion. Darrick's mom was in town, so we spent most of the day with her.

The rest of the month was a flurry of busy weekends. We visited the zoo, spent some time with family, and learned some new skills. Most notably, Luca started walking on June 1st. It was a great night for us, and we feel so lucky we were BOTH here to witness it. She's now at the point where she's cruising all over the house. Falls don't even stop her, as she's already mastered the crouch-then-stand manuever.

The other super-cute thing she's started to do is covering her face when she laughs or is excited.

Yeah, I'm totally that mom who thinks my kid invented walking and being adorable. Deal with it! :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Averting Pootastrophe

This is one for the baby book, for sure. I give you, Averting Pootastrophe:

It was Wednesday afternoon, and Darrick had been home with Luca all day. I get home around the time she generally takes her afternoon nap, so I usually come in the front door so the garage opening doesn't wake her. This time, right as I was coming in, Darrick and Luca were standing in the entryway. I walked in and was thumped in the face with the smell of something stinky and musty. Ahhh...that's right dog-owning friends....you know the smell. The dog crapped in the office. It matters not which dog, but for the sake of the story, I'll share that it was Piggy.

Anyhow, I looked at the poo, all 3 piles of it, on our lovely carpet, and asked what happened. Turns out, Darrick and Luca had run out to the store, and returned home moments before I got there, to see poop on the floor. He had kicked the dogs out already, but hadn't had the chance to clean it up.

So, what did I do? Well, I decided to be a nice wife and clean it up so he wouldn't have to. Armed with a plastic bag over my hand (THIS is what those suckers are good for!), I went in and scooped the poop. Hey....it's a glamorous job, but someone's got to do it! Poop in hand (well, in plastic bag OVER hand), I walked out back to toss it in the dumpster. Now, when you come in to our house through the back door, you see straight through the great room and into the office, which is where the offending poop had been left for us. So as I walked in, I see the spot where it had been, and I see Luca about 6.5 seconds from going RIGHT OVER to investigate the still un-cleaned spot.

I choose to blame what happened next on motherly instince to protect, rather than my own lack of grace and balance. From the front door to the entry to the den is about 30 feet or so. Then, it's down 2 steps and another 15-ish feet to the far end, where the poo spots remained. If you hit this running while simulatneously attempting to keep your voice calm and repeating "Luca. Come her baby. Don't go over there.", you can get it in about 6 strides, and leap, and 3 more strides.

Unless, that is, you are me. In which case, it happens more like this:

Seeing the baby 6.5 seconds from pootastrophe, your voice hits panic octive as you talk-screech out, "LUCA! DON'T MOVE!", you run like a fat person, unceremoniously jump over the steps, catch a foot in the loose hem of the opposite pant leg, fly through the air, shoot one leg out in front of you, smash it into a solid wood piece of furniture, wrap your arms around the baby while attempting unsuccessfully to muffle the "FUUUUUUUCKKKK!" that is uncontrollably ejected from your mouth, slam a shoulder into the wall, and grab at your foot just in time to see it rapidly swelling and to feel your middle toe pointing off into never-never land at what you are SURE is not a healthy angle.

Instant blinding pain. Toes unable to move, red and swollen and throbbing. Husband semi-sympathetic but sure I'd just jammed a toe or two. Baby looking at me like I am a crazy person, inwardly saying to herself, "THIS is my MOTHER? I am doomed."

I tried to get up, only to discover I could not walk, because pressure even on my heel shot pain through the whole foot. Darrick retrieved the baby as I hopped over to the steps on one foot. Then he had to help me up the steps and over to the couch, where I propped my foot up and he put some ice on it. We were sure it would be fine, but an hour later I tried to stand and could NOT put any weight on that foot.

I called my mom, a nurse, in the hope that she would have a spare crutch or something in her house, which I could borrow to get around until my foot felt better. Instead, she told me to report to Urgent Care. So, I did. Except, we hadn't had dinner, it was almost 8, and the place was closing in 10 minutes. So Darrick dropped me at the door and took Luca to get some food. I hopped in, and up to the desk, then sat and waited in a chair that was probably covered with more germs than anything I've ever touched in my life. I was called back and, hopping on one leg, tried my hardest not to give the nurse a death glare when she asked if SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH MY LEG. Really? Really. Where did this woman GET her degree anyhow? Did she mail in box tops from Shredded Wheat and Malt-o-Meal for it?

Resisting the urge to be a smartass, I said, "That's why I'm here." So I was finally offered a wheelchair, which I accepted, and was wheeled back to a room. One very brief exam and 3 x-rays later, another (much funnier) nurse sent the PA in to confirm that I had a broken middle toe. Of course, there's jack you can do, aside from wrap it, ice it, and wear some ridiculous blue contraption made for Fred Flinstone on it. So I was sent home to recover.

And there it is friends. One for the baby book, no doubt. Many moms torture their children with, "I was in labor FORTY SEVEN HOURS with you, and you came out SIDEWAYS!" tales. Not I. Not I, indeed. Instead, when Luca gets older, I plan to tell her how I sacrificed my toe to avert pootastrophe and save her from danger.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Professional Pictures of Our One Year Old!

We had Luca's 1 year pictures done by a friend of a friend (thanks for the recommendation, Kellie!), and she did a fantastic job! The disk with all the pictures should be here in a matter of days, but in the meantime, wander over to her blog to admire her work. And be sure to scroll down, because she has all KINDS of cute kiddos on there! If you are interested in having her take pictures of you, your baby, or your family, her contact information is on the site. I promise, it will be worth every single penny you spend (and it's not a lot of pennies at ALL!).

Joy Alice Photography


Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two exciting updates.

Update #1: Doula, or Dontcha?

Woman. Wife. Mom. And Doula? That's right, friends, it is now official: I am a DOULA! I spent 16 long and exciting and intense and sometimes emotional hours this weekend doing a training with DONA (Doula Association of North America) to become a labor doula.

I am very excited to take this step, and I came to it after a lot of thought and careful consideration. Ever since giving birth to Luca, I've been revisiting my former idea of becoming a nurse. I found pregnancy and childbirth to be incredibly beautiful and empowering times in my life. I enjoyed being pregnant quite a bit, probably in part because I got off fairly easy and didn't have any complications. But even more so, I found childbirth to be an amazing experience. Like many women in America, most of what I heard while pregnant was horror stories and warnings: "Labor is horrible...get the epidural stat!", "My friend's cousin tore from front to back!", "I'd love more kids, but I wish someone else could birth them for me.". It was enough to almost make me scared, but I managed to keep a positive outlook and approach it with the mentality that I was going to take things as they came and allow myself to experience it with an open mind. And I'm so glad I viewed it like that, because now I can say, without a tiny bit of hesitation, that it was amazing and beautiful. Painful? Yes, even with the late-in-the-game epidural. Slightly scary? Sure. But amazing and beautiful none the less.

After giving it a lot of thought, I decided I was not ready to commit myself to years of school and more student loan debt when I have a perfectly good Masters degree I can and do enjoy using. But I wanted to do something. Birth was so powerful and amazing, I wasn't prepared to just let it be something I experience a handful of times. So I looked more into my options, and came to the conclusion that being a Doula is the way for me.

What is a Doula? Well, good question. And I could field, it, but I'll let the experts at DONA explain:

"What is a doula? Giving birth to a baby is so much more than a physical phenomenon; it engages parents-to-be in a transformational experience, a key life event full of emotion and meaning. A doula who accompanies a woman in labor mothers the mother, taking care of her emotional needs throughout childbirth. A doula also provides support and suggestions for partners that can enhance their experiences of birth. A postpartum doula continues that valuable emotional support and guidance, helping a family make a smooth transition into new family dynamics."
source: http://www.dona.org/mothers/index.php

So now that I have done my 16 hours of classes, I am on my way! I can officially call myself a Doula now, but the road to Certification lies ahead. On the horizon: attending 3 births, a childbirth and breastfeeding class, and some paperwork. Once it's all done, I can proudly display those initials that mean I'm certified through DONA behind my name: CD(DONA). I'll keep updating more as I go along, but thanks to my friends who have encouraged me through this journey so far! I am so excited and consider myself honored to be able to be with women and their loved ones through this amazing life stage!!!

Update #2: 20 minutes that changed our lives.

We went out to dinner with my parents this evening, as we do most Sundays. I won't bore you all with the details of the hour and a half it took us to complete a meal we should have finished in 45 minutes (HELLO slow service!), but anyone with a young child knows they cope worse with endless restaurant waits worse than even the surliest husband ever could. So, as has been our routine lately, Luca got restless and we strapped on her little pink sandals and took her cruising around the restaurant lobby area. She's been getting stronger and better at cruising, only needing one hand or even a tiny pinky finger to hold onto for security and balance. So I walked around with her for awhile, letting go on occasion to see if she would take off on her own. No dice. She squatted right down every time, only to be grabbed by me before her hands could fit that (surely filthy) floor.

We got home, and our little Bird was ready to play. As is her usual M.O., she headed over to the stairs to hang onto the banister and climb up and down. So we were both sitting on the floor a few feet from her, and she was standing on the ground level, holding the banister. We called out, "Luca, come here!". She let go of the banister, and lifted one foot, moving it slightly without sitting down. We were SO excited. This was officially her FIRST STEP without assistance! But she wasn't done yet, because then she moved that foot two more times, pivoting in a circle while keeping the other foot firmly planted. Then she sat down and smiled, and everyone (Luca included) gave her a round of applause.

Feeling euphoric, we had her crawl over to us, and Darrick got her up to her feet. Sitting a few feet away, I called for her to come to me and...SHE DID! Yep, just like with crawling, she went from 0 - 60 just like that. Her first 'walk' was about 4 steps, and then she lurched forward and grabbed for me, unsure. I scooped her up and hugged her, and we praised her like mad (oh, to be a baby again and have everyone praise your littlest move or advance!). Smiling, she pulled herself up again. I turned her to face Darrick, he called to her, and she walked back to him. And a star was born!

It had only been about 20 minutes since she was nervously gripping my hand, unsure and afraid to try on her own, and here was our girl, toddling back and forth. The more times she completed this move, the more excited and pleased with herself she got, until finally she was laughing and smiling and clapping as she walked. Oh, what pride we all feel tonight!!!

Of course, I took a lot of videos, because I am THAT MOM. They were all done in dim light (it WAS 9 p.m.), and with our digital camera, so the quality sucks, but WHO CARES?!?!?! My kid is a walker!!!!! (PS: Sorry this video is sideways, but YouTube won't let me turn it around):




video

By the way, I SO think Update #2 is WAY more exciting than Update #1, but if I'd posted about the new walker in our household first, no one would have read about the Doula thing.

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