Monday, March 31, 2008

pupper of the week

At some point, Irene became a couch dog. The rules all flew out the window somewhere around March 18. Photo by Dave.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I blink awake and see Dave, eyes just barely open, a smile on his face. For a moment we're in a time warp, and there's just us - smiling at each other in the afternoon light. A stolen nap, just the two of us curled together. The baby starts to fuss and we're drawn back into the present. Time speeds up and it's 11:00 before we have another chance to look at one another.

In the middle of the night, with Gus sucking away doing an alternating impression of Darth Vadar and a very determined but small piglet, I look over at Dave. He's asleep, his face is fixed in a scowl. I wonder if he's actually getting any rest, or if he's stuck in that half asleep/half awake state where we spend so much time.

This is so unfair. My husband, my super man, is so undeserving of this pain. He wanted babies 5 years ago, but he put his time line on hold and waited until I finally said "I'm ready." He went to every prenatal appointment, he made sure I ate extremely well through pregnancy, he walked me to yoga when I didn't want to go. He kept me motivated to go swimming on a regular basis. He was there for every minute of the labor. He didn't leave my side, even on the second night when he so badly needed sleep.

The only thing Dave had planned for the month of April was hanging out with baby and me. That's changed now. He's been cooking us food, doing all the laundry (including diapers on a daily basis) and getting up for midnight changings and feedings. He says he's not sleeping so he doesn't mind getting up, but I hate to wake him and try to be as quiet as possible - impossible with the snorting piglet. He's so worried about me, about my ability to cope with new motherhood at the same time as all this. I'm worried about him, that he's taken up so much with all his responsibility that he won't have a chance to bond with the kid-o and spend the time that he wants to spend when Gus is so little.

But then, there are moments like this one.

Moments where, despite everything, I know this little family is going to be amazing. And Gus is going to take us places we never would have dreamed. Dave is already a super dad, and he's only been doing it for two weeks. I'm so lucky I get to be a parent with him. He is amazing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

hardest yet

Yesterday was the hardest day I've had so far. It felt like I wasn't able to stop crying for hours, on and off. Dave and I went down to his mother's house, and we brought Gus with us. It's so hard to get all packed up to leave the house, it's stressful to get in the car and leave the neighborhood. It was so difficult to be with Dave's family at his mom's house, feeling this emptiness where Paul used to be. He was always stopping by when we were there, so it was hard to know that he wasn't about to walk in the door.

Gus is doing great, nursing like a champ. I was telling him yesterday that we don't have to be okay yet. It's alright if we just hang out. hole up, and stay put for awhile. I have to keep telling myself he isn't even 2 weeks old yet. Most folks aren't doing half the things I've been doing. Dave wants me to take it easier, and he's right. I was having chest pain yesterday, and I've also been having severe headaches everyday. I keep trying to diagnose myself - is it just the stress? Is it the hormones? Am I not getting enough to eat? Is it because my sleep is interrupted? The truth is that it's probably all of those things, and they contribute to an overall feeling of ick. Today we're chilling in the bedroom, and I plan to sleep once he goes back to sleep. All the books say to do that, but none of the books take into account the death of a loved one two days before the birth of your baby. Nobody's written the book on that yet, so I'm forging new territory.

I feel like I have to be doing everything, taking care of everyone. We still have a stocked fridge thanks to friends, but little things like cleaning up and doing the laundry - I feel like I have to be in charge. Dave is great, he doesn't mind doing all of those things, but I don't want him to be any more stressed out than he has to be. I know I can't take care of everyone, but it's hard to feel helpless when your spouse needs you. It's the little things I can control, so it's those that I try to do. I'm renewing my attempt to take it easy though. At least until the babe is 2 weeks old.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

what not to do

We went to the doctor.

Yesterday, at the midwives one week check in for Gus, we noticed a rash under his arms. A rash with a sort of gross white discharge and a funky smell. They weren't sure exactly what it was, said it could be a yeast infection but it could also be something else, something bacteria related. They recommended we take him into the doctor.

We had chosen a pediatrician a few weeks ago and have an appointment for a newborn check up next week, but that doctor wasn't available. Instead, we went with whatever doctor would see us.

This was the first time Gus traveled in the car, more than 2 blocks from our house. We got everything ready, packed up the diaper bag, figured out the car seat, and drove downtown to the HFA Pediatric clinic. The visit itself was okay, sort of. Dave counted the number of seconds before I was interrupted (15!) and the doctor sort of listened to us and then diagnosed a yeast infection and told us she'd prescribe some ointment. Then she asked which pharmacy we'd prefer. We thought about the one close to our home, but she recommended the HCMC pharmacy, since it was so close. We said fine, and planned to walk over there.

I'm not sure what this woman was thinking, but taking a 7 day old baby into one of the busiest pharmacies in the world right before closing time was a bad bad bad idea. It was jammed full, with tons of people waiting and tvs blaring. Crazies hanging out by the elevator, talking to themselves, security guards keeping the whole scene in check. We waited in a line for 20 minutes, only to get to the front and find out we were in the wrong line. They gave us a number and told us it would appear on the board. We waited another 10 minutes for the number to come up, and then gave up and came home. We decided to treat his armpits with a cider vinegar wash, and transfer the prescription to Walgreen's in the morning.

The rash looks much better today, but Dave and I are still reeling a little bit from the whole experience. I'm not sure if we'll go back to the clinic, since once we got to the car we saw that someone had hit the side panel while we were gone. All in all not a very rewarding experience.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

one week

Another unoriginal hat, this one a little smaller than the first two.
Winter is still hanging on, so I thought I'd have time to put this together before the snow completely melts. Nothing like a family of matching hats.
And nothing like a beautiful sleeping baby.

Monday, March 24, 2008

one breath

We're laughing, rolling on the floor, telling the story of the time Dave and Paul were chased by a UFO off of a frozen lake at night when they were just kids, and in the next breath I'm sobbing, thinking about Paul last Christmas, teasing Andy for not being tough enough to keep tromping up the sledding hill.

I had no idea that my heart could be so full of joy for the little person who's sitting in my lap. I keep telling Dave that I didn't realize I was a puzzle, and then a piece fell into place and it was like it had been missing my whole life.

I had no idea that my heard could be full of so much pain at the same time. There are times when I can't even picture Paul's face, the agony of it just takes over and I'm wracked with sobs.

I tell people that we're taking it one day, one hour, one breath at a time. I'm barely doing that, though. Friends have been so amazing, bringing food and coming to visit - it fills the empty spaces and when I'm on my best behavior it's easier to push the grief to the back and celebrate the happiness that is baby Gus. He is so much happiness. He's beautiful, he's healthy, he feeds like a champ and sometimes breathes like Darth Vader. We're going to make it through this, the three of us together. Sometimes it's just so hard to see what the next step is.

Dave is back at work today, and I'm doing really well. Gus and I had an awesome sleep last night, mostly 3 hour chunks at a time. I'm worried about Dave, though. Out there with all the strangers who have no idea how much pain he's in, so they don't know to be careful and sensitive with their words. At least here, at home, the only people I have to see are the ones I let in the door, so I know they'll be gentle.

One day at a time, though. Today's Monday. I don't have to get through Saturday today. Just Monday. And I have a sweet smelling little munchkin to help me.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

with eyes open

I wanted to write a long post today, but I forgot I'm no longer in charge of what my days look like. Maybe I'll get to it later. For now, a few photos.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

with baby in lap

I found a comfortable position for typing, so I'm hoping that August will give me a few minutes to put down some very important things.

We're both healthy and taking it one breath at a time. I was full of energy for the first 24 hours after the birth, going up and down stairs, in and out of chairs and bed with ease. I've slowed down since then, with a warning midwife asking me to keep the stairs to once down and once up each day. My body is sore, and not just where you'd expect it to be. My neck is sore, my muscles ache. I remember someone telling me that I signed up for a marathon and then found out halfway through that it was actually a mountain climb. We reached the top and came back down, and now it's time to recover.

Emotionally, things are tricky. I knew an emotional let down was expected after the birth of a baby, with all those endorphins and adrenaline running, you can't help by come down from that. Usually that coming down is buoyed by your beautiful new child, and it is for me too. But it's also met with grief and sadness and uncertainty about the future. When I think about Gus and how much Paul had to teach him, sometimes it's just overwhelming. That's why we're taking it one breath, one step, one day at a time. That's all anyone can ask us to do.

Still, despite it all, I think that having this baby boy is the most amazing thing I have ever done. There was only once when my certainty wavered, when I wanted to give up, when I thought about just throwing in the towel. Thanks to Dave, and thanks to the awesome midwives we chose, I didn't do that. How Dave has managed to stay on his feet through the whole labor and now through these first few days is beyond me. He's fetching me food, he's doing the laundry, he barely has a second to breathe and take time for himself. I'm grateful to all of the friends and family and neighbors who are here to help. We certainly need you, now more than I had ever expected.

The camera isn't out as much as I had thought it would be. I'll be sure to take some shots of his gorgeous face today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


August Paul made his entrance yesterday at 5:23 pm. His weight was 8 pounds and 4 ounces, and he is 21 and 1/4 inches long. The labor was long, but he was born at home as planned.

Unfortunately the wheels of life and death sometimes spin a little too closely. On Sunday, Dave and I learned about the death of his brother, Paul. It was a shock, to say the least, and contributed in part to the 50 some hours of labor.

We're all healthy and happy at home, trying to deal with the loss and the joy at the same time. More photos soon, please feel free to email, or call and leave a message.


Laura, Dave and Gus

Friday, March 14, 2008

my new favorite thing

While I don't consider myself much of a blog reader, there are a handful that I get to daily. I use google reader, so I don't go clicking around the internet, trying to stumble on something interesting. Recently, though, I've clicked accidentally onto a few food and recipe sites and been delighted. I normally stick to epicurious when I'm looking for a recipe, but I think I will break my habit starting now.

I've been reading 101cookbooks, and it is fabulous. I can't say whether my favorite thing is the photos or the introductions to the recipes or how simple the recipes are themselves. It has tons of vegetarian options, and while I haven't been doing much of the cooking recently, I hope get get around to some of these soon. The split pea soup, the simple butternut squash tart, and the instructions on how to make gnocci like an italian grandmother are all at the top of my list.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

pupper of the week

One question a lot of people ask is "how will Irene do when the baby arrives?" It's a silly question, because we clearly have no idea. I will say this - Irene loves children. Loves. She can't get enough of babies or toddlers or older children. She likes to chase them, lick them, and spin in circles for their entertainment. She doesn't mind being chased or poked, and generally finds a lot to like about kids.

I know that our schedule will change, but my hope is that within a month of the birth, both Irene and I will be taking regular walks to the library, to the park, just outdoors in general. Once the snow finally bids us goodbye, we'll be spending a lot of time outdoors, and that makes Irene generally happy. Dave will be in the garden daily, and that means Irene gets to just hang out in sunbeams, sniff whatever she wants, and be mostly a free puppy. The baby will change her sleeping schedule, yes, and it will change the amount of attention we pay to her, but it won't change the core of what makes her happy - smells, sun, and visitors.

There will be plenty of visitors, and while they will be there to see the kid, Irene won't really know that they're not there to see her. Besides, only one person can hold the baby at a time, so that means Irene can lean up against the legs of whoever is not occupied, looking longingly at their lap.

I think it'll be a tough transition, but it will accompanied by my being home all the time, followed by garden season. Nothing can beat that, as far as the dog is concerned. So yes - she'll have a hard time, her life will change. But I'm not worried about it at all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

loving this

I heard from a fellow yogini that "The Business of Being Born" was available to rent. I knew that it debuted locally at the Oak Street Cinema a few weeks ago, so I was surprised to hear that I could get it on DVD so soon. I really enjoyed watching it, and can't wait to share it with Dave this weekend when we have a little more time. I know that watching films like this is just preaching to the choir, but it's nice to feel renewed and reminded about why we chose a home birth in the first place.

The quote on the website sums it up: "Should most births be viewed as a natural life process, or should every delivery be treated as a potentially catastrophic medical emergency?" I wish I could hand out copies of this movie to everyone who has been shocked or worried when I told them our birth plan. Instead, I've resorted to telling folks that every person you ever met, and every person who ever lived got here through birth. That's a long history of a woman's body knowing what to do. Only a very small percentage of births require intervention, and yet in the US, more than 1 in 3 births are completed via Cesarean. 1 in 3. That's friggin huge.

Monday, March 10, 2008

counting down

Dave and I had a busy and fun weekend, cramming way too much in resulting in extra sleepiness today. And, to top it off, we lost an hour of sleep! Argh! We spent Saturday visiting family, walking around the Hopkins antique malls, taking in a film and having dinner at a local pub. Sunday was full with breakfast out, yoga class, a birthday party, and a huge frustration regarding the car. That's unresolved, but we pulled it together enough to make a nice dinner and watch the beginning of a sci-fi classic. Dave made it to the end, but I was snoozing by 10. It was an excellent weekend, and I've declared a moratorium on all social engagements (after this Wednesday, when we're having friends over for dinner).

While it's nice to still have some energy and feel like hanging with friends and going out, for the most part I want to spend the next week in my pjs, knitting and preparing for baby. I have some projects around the house I'd like to finish up, get the birth announcements in order, finish the sweater I've been working on , and generally just take it easy. I know that some folks get that nesting urge right at the end, and they're buoyed with energy which lets them vacuum and scrub the bathrooms. I'm fortunate to have a husband who does all of these things for me, so my nesting instinct (once it kicks in, that is...) will have to be directed elsewhere. If the baby doesn't arrive this week, I hope to spend my energy walking the dog, getting things organized, and mostly just having a few fun days to myself.

We got good news from the insurance biller this week, it looks like we will get some reimbursement for the midwife services and home birth. We had been planning to pay for the entire deal out of pocket, and it's a relief to know that some money will be coming back to us. It's unclear yet how much we can expect, but anything helps right now. While normally I would have a tirade prepared about how ridiculous it is for a health insurance company not to cover the $3000 fee for all prenatal services and birth when the average hospital birth costs between $8000 - $10,000 (that's one that goes unmedicated, unassisted, and completely natural), but that hour lost on Saturday night is kicking my butt, so I'll have to list my complaints another time.

The baby is the weight of a mini watermelon this week, something I'm unfamiliar with. Right now I'm mostly just grateful for the mini part, glad that the baby does not weigh as much as a full size watermelon. Apparently mini watermelons weigh a little over 7 pounds, and it's still hard to believe something so large fits inside my basketball sized belly. Strange, but in the last week there have been a few times when I've forgotten that I'm pregnant. I've been so comfortable laying or sitting down that when I get up, it's a shock to realize that I'm still gigantic. Who knew that something like an extra 40 pounds around your middle could slip your mind?

The pregnancy ticker says 7 days to go, but right now I find opposite number much more interesting. I've been pregnant for 273 days. If you divide that number by 30.5 - the average number of days per month - you get 8.95 So there. I'm 9 months pregnant. I win. Now where's my prize?

Friday, March 7, 2008


Everyday, I make a cup of tea. I put water in my cup, put my cup in the microwave, and push the "beverage" button. Until recently, I stood by the microwave and waited for the water to heat up. It was only a few months ago as I stood waiting for the final beep that I realized that the microwave is the exact same height as my belly.

Now I hide behind the wall. So the micro-waves don't get my baby. Apparently one side effect of pregnancy is the cra-a-a-zy.

38 weeks, 5 days, 6 hours, and dear lord....

My belly measured at 36 cm this week, so even though I thought the baby might be through with all of the growing, I was wrong. The baby has been hiccuping regularly, for about 10 minutes at nearly the same time every day. I think this is a funny and strange thing for a baby to do, but both the internet and the midwives guarantee that it's just fine. The baby is practicing breathing, and sometimes that means hiccups.

Our lovely midwives think that the baby has turned in the last week, moving from ROA to LOA (definitions here). I'm delighted by this, and hope that the baby sticks around on that left side. We weren't sure that the baby would be able to turn over that way, but I've been doing yoga and inversions regularly, and I will continue to do so. I hope to loosen up some ligaments and keep the baby in ideal position. Either right or left is fine for the beginning of labor, but from the reading I've done, it seems like LOA is definitely the preferred position for a quick and easier labor.

Dave and I are planning a fun weekend ahead of us, with a trip down to the antique malls and dollar theater in Hopkins, a birthday party for a friend, breakfast out at Al's and much much more. Though I've been exhausted at the end of the work day recently, I still have pretty decent energy if I get going right away in the morning. I'm much better off not going to work (as you would imagine) and I'm hoping to do a few afternoons or maybe full days from home next week. I feel a lot more productive working from home, plus the added bonus of feeling really comfortable.

I've finally heeded the warnings and said goodbye to my beloved Nalgene bottle. I've switched to Sigg, and I love it so far. Mine looks like this, both stylish and safe - can't beat that! Though I've heard rumors for many years that Nalgene bottles leach plastic into the water, I've always thought that I was better off with Nalgene than I was with disposable plastic, so things were fine. It was the most recent headlines finding that BPA has been found in human breast milk that made me suddenly change my mind. I guess I don't mind putting myself in danger, but when something threatens my unborn child and I can take action, I will.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

pupper of the week

I have an 8x10 print of this on my wall at work. I think this photo is adorable. I love the way the dog is looking at Dave, as if she wants to help with whatever is making him put his face on his hand. The great thing about the dog is that usually, she can help. Just by virtue of being the pupper.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

size matters

I forgot to mention yesterday that the baby vegetable this week is the leek. The baby's length is comparable to a leek. That's about 19 and 1/2 inches, though the ones we have in the fridge are a little shorter. It's not exactly leek season in Minnesota.

A relative regularly asks me how big the baby is. I dodge this question, but I wonder about it. Is this something you're told if you go to an OB doctor? Do they try to estimate the size and weight of the baby while still in utero? I picture that going sort of like, "Well ma'am, everything looks good, you're coming along nicely. The baby is roughly 20 pounds and 4 feet long. But that's just a guess." Honestly, I have no interest in how big or long the baby is. If it's safe and still inside of me, I'm happy. While I will later marvel at the size, be it 6 pounds or 10, right now I have no interest in getting all worked up about something I can't control. Measurements seem like they're all just competition, and you can often hear parents of toddlers speaking of percentiles as if they were SAT scores. It's easy to get caught up in it, and I know I've repeated the percentile scores of my nephew more than once. As if the size of the little boy's head will later determine his lot in life.

For now, I don't know the size, don't know the sex, and don't know when the baby will be born. In this day and age, I feel like a pioneer - people are shocked that I don't know the sex, and more than once I've been asked how far past my due date I plan to, as if I'm making a dinner reservation. In my mind I always switch into a hippie/stoned voice, and say to these people "It's the miracle of birth man. You can't call ahead for a miracle."

Monday, March 3, 2008

secret knitting

Remember this?

It was this!
Flip top mittens for my friend Steve out in Milwaukee. He received them this weekend and I'm happy to say they fit him perfectly.
I believe this pattern originated with Catherine, I remember a downloadable PDF from her .mac site way back when. Since then I've modified it and added some features, and I like to think of it as my own. Steve saw Dave's flip tops when he was here in December, and mentioned he had nothing to keep his fingers warm that matched his new red jacket. What was I to do?

Though I think I've knit a version of this pattern 6 or 7 times, this was by far my favorite. The wool was fantastic to work with and the fingers are even and well planned (that's not usually the case). Dave always tells me that I should make up 5 pairs of them and see if I can sell them locally or online, but I have never got around to it. Maybe this summer I'll plan ahead and get it done for the fall. Men at his work ask about them regularly, most often wondering where he got his "shootin' gloves". I've found the flip top functionality not just good for shootin', but great for getting keys in a door, turning pages of a book while waiting for a bus, and of course - knitting in the winter.

I'm very glad they suit Steve, and I hope to be sure of the fit when he visits at the end of March. For people who don't wear a lot of hand knitted items, it seems like they are sometimes hesitant to complain when things don't fit quite right. It's best to be able to see the person wearing it. It wouldn't be too much trouble to pull the fingers back and make them wider or longer, depending on what he'd like. The one major flaw of this design is that because there is knitted fabric between your fingers, they get kind of squished when you close the top. Mostly Dave and I wear ours with the tops down, so it's not an issue. The top is just there for those really, really cold days, when you can't bear to have any exposed skin. Yay for surprise knitting!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

my belly has taken over

This is what 38 weeks is shaping up to look like.

It's not just me, right? That belly is huge.

I am hoping to get to the plaster cast of myself this weekend. I'm not sure how it'll work, but I have high hopes that it'll turn out.

I'm part of a prenatal yoga video, and the filming has been last week and this week. I think it's going to be so cool to look back and see myself doing yoga at this stage, especially

triangle pose and half moon pose. We've modified them slightly, as you would expect, but I'm still pretty certain that these are poses I couldn't do before I got pregnant, and I'll be impressed to look back at the video and see that huge belly sticking out.