Link Love

Uh oh… here’s a Link Love that I never published! I had to edit my text a little bit because I talked about after the baby comes haha…

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The World & The Future

There have been so many tragedies in the news lately… Last summer a guy open fired inside a theater during The Dark Knight Rises, a few months ago was the big shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, and yesterday multiple bombs were detonated during the Boston Marathon. And these were only a few of the big domestic tragedies… the world is full of violence and sickness. These types of thing happen every day, all over the globe. It is truly devastating!

Now that I am a mother, I view these things in a whole new light. I remember when I was much younger I heard about Columbine and 9/11, but I had a lot of difficulty processing the news and relating all of the victims to myself and the people I knew. Now I relate everything to my child. I can’t imagine my own devastation if Audrey was caught in the crossfires, or hurt in a terrorist attack. I am distraught for all of the parents who have seen their child suffer or have experienced the loss of their child…

My hope is that Audrey will be a force for good in the world. I have always wanted to make the world a better place, and I hope she does too. I feel like not many parents emphasize the value of goodness and selflessness. Not that success, athleticism, creativity and intelligence are bad at all! But what if you can encourage your children to succeed at improving the lives of those less fortunate? To run for a cause? To create art, music or theater in order to make the world a more beautiful and interesting place? To learn more so they’ll have the tools to do their best for the world?

Every child has different interests and capabilities, but I firmly believe that no matter what you do, you can do it with goodness in your heart and inspire others to do good as well.

Even just simple things make the world a better place… I can’t tell you how incredibly proud I was when my sister posted this video (Sorry, Liz- I had to rip this off your FB wall!) of her daughter’s Christmas wish:

Honor’s Wish

Maybe if we can raise a few more children with awareness and compassion, they can be beacons of positivity for those who are intent on burning the world.

Adjusting to a New Routine

If last week I was sticking my toes in the water of going back to work, this week I am doing a cannonball.

On Sunday Audrey got a runny nose, and was coughing a little bit because of the post-nasal drip. Being a light sleeper is a blessing and a curse… I had to keep her at a little bit of an angle while she slept, and her sniffles and my own awkward positioning basically meant I got no sleep. On Monday I felt so exhausted I wanted to cry! No more sleeping in until all hours snuggling with my little girl!

Then on Monday I was working on a project that HAD TO BE DONE BY 3PM TODAY, while simultaneously running around shooting photos of an event taking place at our office all morning. I, of course, dipped out for an hour to feed Audrey, and then she has to be picked up before 6pm. When I got there to pick her up, her caretaker told me that she had refused to eat all afternoon, and she was really hungry. I fed her before packing her up and bringing her with me to the office to get a little more of the videos done so I could feel confident in hitting my deadline (Yes, I made it!).

I fed her as much as she wanted all evening, and we were both pretty exhausted. Unfortunately when we tried to get to bed around 9:30, Audrey got herself in a bad mood. Since her first couple weeks, she hasn’t normally been a big crier and she is perfectly happy in the evenings until she conks out. Last night was different though. I am thinking it was the stress of going to day care again and not eating much (I think she was a little dehydrated, her pee was a lot darker than usual) and just being really tired, but she just screamed. The only thing able to calm her down was Luke’s big arms, but as soon as he tried to lay down she would start crying again!

After quite a bit of frustration (which we didn’t want Audrey to see, lest she get even more upset) we finally got her to sleep at about 11:30, and this morning it all started again (the routine, not the screaming, thank God!). I am feeding her as much as she will eat when I drop Audrey off at day care in the morning, and again at lunch… hopefully she’ll start accepting the bottle one of these days!

I know it’s only her third day at day care today, and her caretakers said it usually takes babies a couple weeks to get fully acclimated. When it comes to eating and sleeping, she is just a very attached baby! She likes to eat from the boob and sleep in someone’s arms. At the same time, she is very social, loves being around lots of people, and has a smile ready for everyone!

Finally an update!

I realize that I have been slacking here, but what can I say? I have a baby who likes to be held constantly, and I have no patience to type with one hand! 😉 For once I have an evening where she is asleep right now with Luke, and I am not quite ready to go to bed, so I can give an update! I want to go over a bunch of things quickly, and hopefully later I can do some more in-depth posts.

MY RECOVERY

This has actually been a long process for me. I know I didn’t get a c-section or anything, but I feel like I might as well have! Because of the physical trauma from the difficult birth, I had trouble walking at all for at least a week and couldn’t sit normally for a couple weeks. There was all the initial bleeding and healing that I was expecting, but there was also throbbing and itching that has gone on and on!! I finally felt good enough to go on a walk for the first time a few days ago and have been trying to do some physical activity every day. I think the exercise is helping, my only problem now is some itching. I don’t know the reason for that, but I have an appointment with Judy this week and with the OB-GYN who attended the birth in a few weeks so hopefully I will be 100% and maybe have answers on these residual symptoms soon!

BABY’S GROWTH

I can’t believe how much Audrey has grown… she will be 6 weeks old on Wednesday and she is now topping 10 pounds. She is getting too long for her newborn clothes, but I figure it’s a good workout for her legs when she pushes against the fabric, right? I am packing away the newborn clothes slowly and have two 0-3 month outfits (what’s the difference?) someone gave us from Gymboree that fit her perfectly, and soon enough she’ll be in her 3-month clothes! At her one-month check-up she was 21.5 inches (75th percentile) and up to the 50th percentile for weight. All that breast milk is doing her good!

BREASTFEEDING

Speaking of breast milk, breastfeeding has been amazing. I was fully prepared for it to take some learning and be tough at first… I read lots of articles about the benefits and challenges so I would be fully prepared. I didn’t realize how natural and simple it could actually be. She was very alert when she was born, and after a short recovery period, my midwife Judy helped her latch on (I was still flat on my back getting stitched up). From then on, it was pretty non-stop!

Audrey was very clear about when she was hungry, and I just had to place her on my breast and she would start suckling. At first she would nurse on the colostrum for about a half hour at a time every couple hours. My milk came in after 2 days- right about the time we came home from the hospital. She started nursing for much shorter periods – five to ten minutes at a time – but much more regularly. She would go on eating binges when she was awake, nursing for five minutes at a time every 15 minutes to a half hour. I am thinking this was due to the size of her belly, that she just couldn’t hold that much!Now I think she has gotten quite efficient with her nursing. She will eat for 5-10 minutes and it will last her a lot longer. She nurses more often when she is awake, every hour or so (she is awake for longer periods now) and sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time.

The thing that surprised me the most was the hormone rush that came with breastfeeding. When she latches on, I actually feel the oxytocin pulsing through my veins. I feel so happy and like I want to cry all at the same time… so full of love and joy. I know that some women can’t breastfeed and some women just don’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind that I actually feel bad for these women that they never get to feel the emotions and bonding that come with it.

Later I intend to post about it all in a little more detail- about nursing in public, dealing with the initial pain, etc.

MY BODY

I was really surprised at my body… I’ve learned that it’s true- the days after birth, a woman’s body changes the fastest that it ever will. With birth you immediately shed a bunch of pounds from the front in the form of an infant and a whole bunch of fluids. My belly was palpated several times to feel that my uterus was firming up and retreating to its original size and shape. I had a lot of fluids coming out of me for a few days, and I had to keep pads in for a few weeks to deal with the residual bleeding. I thought it was interesting that my belly went back to flat. I barely gained any fat in my abdomen, so it actually looked pretty good, but the funny thing was that my abs were (are) completely destroyed. I always had a small layer of fat on my belly, but it was super firm underneath. Now I attempt to flex and it’s all just mush! One day I’ll be firm again, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting from scratch creating these muscles again.

BABY POTTY TRAINING

I had originally intended to begin EC (Elimination Communication, or infant potty training) much sooner, but it took me much longer to sit on my butt, straddle the toilet seat, or really just move than I had anticipated. We started a couple weeks ago when she was a month old, switching from disposable diapers to cloth and a BabyBjorn potty! It is actually going shockingly well. Audrey hates going potty in her pants, and will hold her poo until she feels the cold seat of the toilet against her behind! She hasn’t gained bladder control yet, but she goes pee in the potty regularly as well. I’ll definitely do more in-depth posts on this!

Well, Audrey woke up and I am back to one-handed typing so it’s time to call it a night!

Link Love

“You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a basket.”
― Lish McBride, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Link Love

“A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman’s crowning creative experience of a lifetime.”
― John Stevenson

30 Weeks and Disaster

Today I hit 30 weeks of pregnancy, and shit is starting to get real! For my whole life it has been, Yeah, one day I’ll probably have kids. Since Luke and I chose each other, so-to-say, it has been We’ll definitely have kids eventually. The last 7 months it has been, Okay, we’re doing this for real… make a baby, grow a baby…

Now, this baby that I am growing is constantly moving around to remind me that there is actually a tiny person in there- one that I am fully responsible for. As involved as a man can be, in the end it is the pleasure and the burden of the woman to carry and nurture the child during this critical time. In less than three months I will actually be holding this infant in my arms.

It’s actually pretty nerve wracking… life is about to change completely. My life will (and already does in many ways) revolve around a tiny little person. The funny thing is I am not nervous at all for birthing and actually look forward to the experience, but I am a bit terrified to take on the responsibility of being a mother.

I know that I have a stable job, a husband, home, lots of pets and responsibilities, but I still feel like a child. I never felt really ready to take this step, and I am coming to realize that I still don’t. Intellectually I am ready- I have read up and continue to read about and discuss babies and motherhood with others. On paper, I have a pretty good idea of what we are going to do. On the other hand, I don’t know that there’s a way to make myself emotionally prepared for all the changes ahead.

It’s hard for me to sort out and articulate my feelings on this. I am definitely excited about and feel a connection with this baby, but I’m not sure that I feel emotionally ready to meet him or her. Does that make sense?

This might all be churned up because of a stressful week though. A week ago today made 29 weeks, and we hosted a Halloween shindig at our place. It was a fun time, and the baby bump was even out to play!

It was exhausting though, and I somehow managed to stay up until about 3am. The next day, we cleaned up the mess from the party and started preparations for Sandy. A big hurricane was predicted to hit New Jersey, and since we always lose power because we have all kinds of huge trees in our neighborhood, we just expected to lose it again. I got all the laundry done, ran the dishwasher, and cooked up some easy-to-reheat food while Luke wired up the generator and cleaned up the outside stuff so it wouldn’t fly around.

My work got cancelled and the wind picked up throughout the day on Monday. The worst part was supposed to be Monday evening, and nasty it was. We lost power at about 7:30pm, and watched out the window as a huge tree fell down in our yard, taking out the fence. During the course of the storm, two other trees came down in our yard (one taking out some power lines) and the hot tub cover flew across the deck. Our neighborhood suffered from so many trees coming down… they were on top of power lines on every block. A huge tree fell by our neighbor’s house and totaled their car.

By Wednesday I was back to work, but we were without internet- pretty tough to do my job! I ended up being able to create a hotspot with my phone to go the online things I needed to do, but the whole office was pretty empty and there was a lot of work to be done.

On top of all that, there seems to be a bit of a gas crisis in New Jersey. Tons of gas stations are without power, so their pumps are useless. The ones that do have power have cars lined up for miles to fill up their cars and gas tanks, and a lot of these stations have run out of gas because they haven’t been able to get a shipment. Between driving to work and powering generators, a lot of gas is needed and there is just not enough supply to fill the demand. Luckily I filled my car before the storm and don’t drive too much, so my car is okay for now. We are limiting the time that we run the generator to save fuel, and just trying to get more when possible.

It’s just been a stressful week and we don’t expect to get our power back for a while yet, but it could be much worse. This baby is going to come out a trooper, for sure!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom & I have always had a great relationship. I’ve been out of the house since I was 18, but I’ve always known that the door would be open and a bed (laundry machine, refrigerator, glass of wine) would be there for me whenever I came back. Although I know it must have been difficult at times, Mom has been incredibly supportive of all my decisions, including when I got up and moved across the country to be with Luke and start a new job. The distance has been difficult at times, but I am so thankful that we live in the technology age and that my family is only a phone call, email, Skype call, or plane ride away. (And can I say, I am super excited that my Mom is getting an iPhone now too so I can finally text her and picture message bomb her!!!)

I am just starting to learn what being a mother is all about, and how much love and sacrifice it really takes. I always had an idea, but I know that I will only keep learning about this more and more in the years to come.

I want to thank my mom for doing this for me and my siblings, and for extending that love and support out to my husband and baby-on-the-way. I have always loved and admired her, and my appreciation is now stronger than ever!

So thank you, Mom, and have a very happy birthday!!!

Link Love

“A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman’s crowning creative experience of a lifetime.”
― John Stevenson

Motherhood ~ Past, Present, and Future

I have gone through a religious and spiritual journey in my life so far, and my beliefs are always evolving. I enjoy reading about different religions, taking all that I’ve learned and combining it with my own experience to form a personal belief system. I don’t believe that I have to follow any one particular religion, because I feel that I would be closing myself off to so many possibilities.

A couple years ago my mother-in-law gave me a deck of Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards- basically they are tarot cards with a Goddess theme. There are goddesses from many cultures and religions across the world, there to guide the lost when it comes to any open-ended question. Supposedly they work best during a full moon, and so I regularly bring them out when I notice that the moon is full. They are surprisingly accurate considering the possibility of responses… there are so many cards that would not be relevant for many questions but 95% of the time the cards pulled answer the questions well.

We had some friends over this evening and when they took off, Luke pointed through the skylights and showed me the gorgeous full moon. With all these fears and questions running through my head, I ran to the bedroom and grabbed the cards. I answered a couple of Luke’s questions before he got bored and left to play video games, then asked my own open-ended question… how can I be a good mother?

For most questions, I pull three cards representing past, present, and future. Here is what I got for my question, and my interpretations…

  1. PAST: Kuan Yin, Compassion
    • “Release judgements about yourself and others, and focus on the love and light that is within everyone.”
    • I have mentioned before that I can be quite selfish, but I have another flaw that I’ve kicked for the most part… that’s being judgmental. I used to be very self-conscious, and would judge others as a defense mechanism. As I have gained actual self-confidence and world awareness, I have opened my eyes to the fact that everybody comes from somewhere, everyone has a story.You can’t judge a person when you see them for the first time, or even when you’ve known them for a while and they are acting up, because you don’t know the real cause of their behavior. Most of the time it’s not you, so there’s no reason to defend yourself- that can even make things worse. The best course of action is to treat people with compassion and respect, and maybe they (and you) will feel better. Everyone has some goodness inside themselves, even when they are driving you crazy. And even when you are in a self-loathing mood, you may be better off treating yourself with the kindness you would give your BFF.

      I think this concept is the definition of maturity… being understanding and respectful of yourself and others even in the face of adversity. Learning this lesson helped make me the person I am today… someone loving and lovable in my own way, and hopefully prepared for the journey ahead.
  2. PRESENT: Kali, Endings and Beginnings
    • “The old must be released so that the new can enter.”
    • This card signifies that although you may be losing something, you are also gaining much more. Change is just a part of life and I need to stop being afraid of it. It’s time to let my party days go, leave my youth behind, and embrace all the possibilities that lie in my future.I said in my last post that I was afraid that I would resent my life and my child because of the change it brought to my life, but that would not be an issue if I can leave this part of my life in the past. Becoming pregnant will be an ending to this phase of my life… youth, partying, irresponsibility, selfishness… but it will be a beginning as well.

      A beginning of a new family, of motherhood, and altruism. Once I let go of the freedom I am losing, I can embrace the joys and love of a family and children that I will be giving and receiving.

  3. FUTURE: Sekhmet, Be Strong
    • “You are stronger than you think you are, and your strength assures a happy outcome.”
    • This card really speaks to me, and what it means to be a mother in my future. It says don’t complain, or make yourself out to be a victim. I occasionally have a tendency to play victim, but in this case I am making the decisions and going in with knowledge. I knew in marrying Luke that we would have a family and that my life would change, and that it would happen soon. Complaining won’t help one bit!The more important message of this card is obviously strength, both physical and emotional. The physical is simple… I will need a bit of physical strength and stamina to keep up with my children, carry them around, have energy, and be the kind of mother I desire to be. The emotional strength is more complex.

      There is a section in the card descriptions that points out various meanings of the card, and all seem to be relevant to my future as a mother.

      • Don’t underestimate yourself – I obviously question myself and my capabilities as a mother… thus this whole “FEARS” category of the blog. Maybe I need a little more confidence that my motherly instincts will kick in!
      • Don’t yield to pressure or temptation – I think of this one more in the line of diet… there are always bagels, junk food, cakes, and crappy foods laying around and I regularly feel tempted. I indulge occasionally, and always feel like crap after. That’s not good when I am pregnant or breastfeeding, because if I feel like crap, my baby probably feels like crap too. There will inevitably be a lot of pressure as well when I am pregnant… thank goodness I found a midwife who supports my paleo eating plan and doesn’t ask stupid things like, “Well, where are you going to get your fiber without whole grains?” There will be many people that try to get me to eat things I don’t want or I know are no good, because I have seen it so much… Many people think of pregnancy as an excuse to eat anything you “want” because you are expected to gain a ton of weight anyway.
      • Avoid complaining or indulging in negative thinking – I already discussed the complaining, but it would be great to avoid most negative thoughts as well… negative thinking causes stress which is bad for the body and the attitude. If I am thinking negative thoughts, my body won’t be functioning optimally, and after I have given birth, my baby will be able to sense my negative energy and will have it’s own stress. I believe that everything is interconnected, and so if I can personally stay positive, then my energy will have a positive effect on myself and the people around me.
      • Engage in weight-training exercises to make your body stronger – doing my best on this one! Like I said before, I firmly believe that physical strength can help a mother do the things she needs to do. This will help with pregnancy, birthing, and motherhood, when I actually have others depending on my strength to take care of them.

In a strange way, pulling a few tarot cards gave me a little confidence that I can be a good mother… as long as I retain my compassionate nature, I let go of my past lifestyle and embrace this new future, and grow the physical and mental/emotional strength I need to care for others.