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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thank you 2007!

What a year 2007 turned out to be!
I remember sitting on the roof watching fireworks with the Bunny a year ago tonight not realizing that I was already pregnant albeit just barely.
So 2007 was that, being pregnant, probably for the last time. It sounds too jinxable to say in any surer tone that it was my final pregnancy so I'll leave that at that.

2007 was also finding an ever more solid support in my beloved Dingos. I am so grateful to have found them. I know what I'd be like without them and it would be like a time warp, me, on the same path but miles and miles farther back toward where I began.

DH and I have made such great strides toward that place where we are together. Much of the time it feels like we're there. Maybe just often enough I can feel that we aren't so that I don't get complacent, let it slip. But I think we both have a taste for it now and won't so easily forget ourselves.

The Bunny is growing every day. And growing is hard work. It isn't always pretty, it's frequently painful or awkward. Just tonight I held her while she cried again for our old dog. She still misses him viscerally, she feels his absence in a way that I do not any longer. She said that she can't get her happy thoughts, that her sisters have them. I encouraged her to start small, think about small happy thoughts, the fur of her tiger, the smile from her baby sister. But she said it didn't help and then she fell asleep. I don't know what to do, how to help her. And lately I haven't been very helpful at all. I need to take a lesson from my dingo sister DrJen and get some serious one-on-one time happening with her. We've been butting heads way too often recently and I think it is because she just needs more of me and is going to that any-attention-is-better-than-nothing place.

Ali G is growing too. She is a sweet little thing. She smiles a lot and really reminds me of the Bunny. Mostly calm and contented, except for when she's not. I am constantly surprised at how much joy I take in her blue blue eyes. It strikes me as ridiculously vain of me to be pleased with them, but I can't seem to help it. I guess it bothered me more than I wanted to admit that the Bunny looks so little like me. I suppose it's normal to be happy to see oneself reflected in one's children.
I do worry sometimes that I'm not as connected to her as I was to the Bunny. Like I somehow don't love her enough. It's always a little to easy to put her down, to let someone else hold her. Does that go back to my concerns over how she didn't smell right her first week? Is that some sad self-fulfilling prophecy? Are my expectations of maternal delight just unrealistically high for a subsequent child? Am I just feeling the pressure of the Bunny's need for me too much and transferring the anxiety onto the baby? Is it low grade PPD? I don't know, but it does worry me.

So things to work on in the coming year will be more or less the same I think. I want to find a balance of time with the Bunny and time with the baby and time with dh and time for me. For myself I've challenged myself to 12 weeks of fairly intense weight training and cardio work to get back to a comfortable fitness level. I feel too big, too achy and too old for my age right now so I decided to take advantage of the lifestyle here while it lasts.

So welcome 2008! I have faith it will be a year full of excitement, adventure, and challenges. I think we're all ready.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here's a picture my cousin sent me of me and Ali G that I thought was an honest reflection of how I feel these days.



Ali G likes to play with her dangling toys all by herself. It's weird. The Bunny was never into playtime that didn't involve another person.
One of her favorite toys is her Dingo rosary. How cool is that?

Thoughts on a facial

Before
After

Well, I don't know. A friend of ours just sold a spa in town to another woman who offered me a free facial. All I remember of the only other facial I've ever had
was getting a lot of glop mushed around on my face and then, after being lulled into a feeling of false secutiry by some nice warm mush on my forehead, the startling and excruciating experience of an unexpected eyebrow waxing. But for free? Sure, I'll go again!
It was okay. I thought a lot about women who make this type of thing a habit. How do they justify the expense? They must be those women who smell expensive and know what's fashionable and what's not. That isn't me. I smell like Secret, baby spit-up, onions and garlic, lavender lotion, sandalwood sometimes, sweat sometimes. Hmm, maybe I do need a new me!

No, I don't think so. I'm comfortable the way I am. I've made attempts in the past to get into the habit of applying makeup (real makeup, powder, liner, base what have you, not just mascara) and perfume. But I've never tracked down the perfume I really like (it's the one that smells fresh and outdoorsy, light, springy like freshly washed hair, not heavy and sticky and snooty like some patron of the arts). And I've never really gotten the hang of the makeup thing. I can barely remember to moisturize. I definitely identify with Picabo Street, a chapstick kind of girl.

Anyway, while I was lying on the heated table wrapped in a terry cloth towel listening to some vaguely Christmassy choir/classical/trance music and feeling fairly claustrophobic at the scrutiny I knew my pores were under I did have a flash of entitlement. Vanity. I try not to be vain. I don't want to feel like the world revolves around me. I want to have healthy humility. And this facial business on encourages exactly the opposite reaction. Why is it so different than a massage? I don't know. Only that when I'm face down on a table having my muscles squeezed I'm not led to think about how I deserve to spend I-don't-even-know-how-much on a face cream with more "active ingredients" (as my spa technician recommended I look into). I usually just feel grateful that I have access to someone who knows how to push the evil out of my arms and legs and joints while silently vowing to start stretching so that next time it doesn't hurt so much.
So now I know. Facials don't do me any favors. Even ones with muy baja frequencia electrodes or whatever that Ultimate Lift machine was supposed to have.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

rrrgh

I don’t know how single mothers cope.

Dh has been in bed only for two days and I’m done. I thought I was actually doing pretty well, keeping it all going pretty smoothly up until I picked up the Bunny from school today. We have our piano lesson after school on Tuesdays. Today I’d arranged for Joan to take care of the baby while we had class. I was looking forward to having a chance to hang out and chat with her a bit when we picked Ali G up. However, when I reminded the Bunny that we had class she burst into tears and sobbed that she felt far too sick for that. It sounded a little fakey to me so I pressed her for her symptoms. Even though I don’t think she is sick or even getting sick, I was convinced that she’d be unreasonably difficult at a piano lesson, and since I didn’t know what else to do with two girls I canceled the class. I hate that. So I was pissed. Then I called Joan to cancel and she reminded me that she’s taking off for a couple weeks this weekend and then I wanted to cry. And that’s how I know that I’m fried on single parenting. And it’s been only, exactly, 48 hours.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Confession!



So last night the Bunny got very upset while watching the Grinch (or really one of the commercials for Santa Claus is Coming to Town). We asked her what was up and she burst into tears and said she'd doe something really super naughty and she wanted to tell us about it but was scared that she'd be punished and scared of what we'd say. We assured her that we'd be gentle seeing as how obvious it was that she was truly sorry for whatever her crime was. She wouldn't say it, wouldn't whisper it. Finally I asked if she wanted to draw a picture to tell us and she agreed.
The above was her confession. Back in St. Louis she had sneaked the cheese topping from some kid's pizza (I think the kid had already taken the cheese off of her slice and it was on the plate). She asked, trembling, what her punishment would be. We agreed that she could go free on time served since she'd been so wracked with guilt. I tried to hide how hard I was laughing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I will sell this house today! I will sell this house today!

That's my new mantra, thank you Annette Bening for the inspiration!
We have been running back and forth to the country like little crazed squirrels hiding nuts. We thought (think! Be positive woman!) that we had (have dammit!) a strong lead on a buyer for this big old house. A couple who has another B&B in town
expressed interest ("we've been thinking, we just want to buy it") and mentioned that they'd like to get in in time for Christmas guests. So dh and I went into hyperdrive to make sure that when they came to see the place everything they saw was included with the exception of some books, clothes and our computers. So that's how it is in the house. It is totally ready only when the couple came yesterday to see the place they seemed less than prepared to make an offer. Dang!
So, dh and I are trying not to be too bummed and to hold out hope that they'll give us a call in the not-too-distant future to discuss terms.
Fingers are crossed, affirmations are being repeated, breath held.

Okay, what I'm equally if not more distracted by (distracted from what? I don't know, I'm unemployed and have a generally cooperative pair of girls to look after) are all the renovations I'm itching to get started with on SJI. Here's my wish list:

Lift the house
Eradicate the mold issues
Assemble full basement
Build Wrap around porch
Design amazing kitchen space with office and living areas skillfully integrated
Install geothermal heat pump and radiant floor heating throughout downstairs.
Install laundry room on second floor
Install radiant floor heat in at least the bathrooms on the second floor
Install beadboard wainscoting, chair rail and base boards throughout house
Reroute staircase to its original position with landing and 90 degree turn
Add PV grid tied system to offset electricity costs by selling electricity back to the grid in the summer.
Have house tested for Radon gas

Okay, that's a partial list and I'm sure I've already racked up more thousands of dollars than we could possibly come up with but I figure if I don't know what I want I'll never get it for sure, right?

Oh, one other real estate happening; we've got a lead on a possible long term renter for the country place too! I out an ad on the yahoo group just to see what would happen and within 24 hours we had three interested parties. One of those is really into the solar aspect and we're taking them out on Monday for a look at it. We may even be able to offload our truck with them since they need wheels to get out there and are so psyched to live off the grid they talked of buying a car to do it! We have a bit more negotiating to do with them I'm sure. They don't know about the composting toilets or that dh is willing to out in a septic if the renters are right. And, they want (if they want it) the place no later than Feb 1! Just to keep the balls in the air!

And now I should post some pictures of my quickly growing baby and the Bunny. Pictures are the good part anyway. For a start here is our goofy kick-off to the holiday season:

Our Elfed selves.

Me and my girls hanging in the barcalounger.


Ninj and Ali G basketing together.


Our Thanksgiving setting.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thankfulness

So last Sunday we finally kicked off our all new weekly Family Virtues Meeting. We aren't as church-going as some families but it has begun to feel like there's a real hole there for us so this is our new thing. To kick things off and with my musings at the circus heavy on my mind the virtue we started off with was Thankfulness.
The Bunny loved it. She thrives on having the opportunity to talk about serious things with grown-ups and loves to be asked for her opinion. It was lovely.
We talked about how thankfulness is important because it helps us appreciate even the worst times. I talked a bit about how I am thankful for Wendy, even though her brief time with us was very sad and painful, she also brought us some precious gifts.
Building on that the Bunny talked about why she is thankful that she had her fish, even though they died. Who would ever have thought that a couple of goldfish could leave such a lasting impression? But she's such a sweet smart little kid and she just really gets it. I was reminded the other day of how when she was an infant she had a certain sense about her that she had been here, done this all already. A real old soul. Over the past couple of years of princesses and movies and playdates I'd lost sight of that about her. But it's still true. She's got a deep spiritual side and an understanding, an awareness that awes me.
A few months back she was seeing an art therapist to help her process her feelings about Wendy, Thurber, moving, the new baby on the way etc and the therapist (without consulting me in advance to check on our family's approach to God, I might add) told her they were going to make a "God Box" in which she could put all her worries and God would take care of it for her. The Bunny said, "I'm going to make mine for money instead" and she proceeded to decorate her box happily but refused to discuss the whole God part of it any further. Afterwards she seemed really upset. I asked her what was going on. She said that she didn't think that God (who, in the Bunny's mind is and always has been a woman) would have the time to deal with her problems. I tried to reassure her that God has the capacity to handle anything we throw at her, and with kindness and grace too. Then the Bunny said, "I don't know how to believe in God." Fair enough, most adults aren't totally clear on that one either are they? And considering that she was being asked on one hand to trust God with her troubles and on the other she'd been reassured by well-meaning but idiotic people that though her baby sister was dead, it was all part of God's plan, who wouldn't have trouble with that? Is God on her side or not? So anyway, all this to get back to our study of thankfulness and how something that seems really horrible can actually be a blessing and how I'm hoping that she and I and dh too can all find a comfortable place with God.
And of course, I hope that it will also make that wee little voice in her head a little louder about being thankful for what she has in the moment at the circus and to stop to savor it longer before focusing on the next thing she wants.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Circus Circus

So I took the Bunny and her friend to the circus on Saturday night. At the last minute I realized that we never in a million years would have taken her to the circus when she was 2 months old and so made the executive decision to keep Ali G home. I would have happily been the one to sit the circus out but it seemed kind of like an "I cut you choose" situation and dh chose to go home. Anyway, it was the fourth circus we've been too since moving to Mexico and the fourth circus I've ever been to since I never went to one as a kid. My parents (one? both?) objected to the way the circus animals were treated and so we boycotted the Ringling Bros, which happened to be the only circus that ever came our way.

Being an animal lover myself I wasn't too fussed about missing them but when some friends invited invited us to one a few years ago it turned out not to be quite as horrifying as I'd feared. It was a pretty small time show featuring skinny girls in small costumes and clowns in costumes that were pathetically moth eaten. And they did have an animal, an ancient depressed elephant that the children in the audience were invited to climb on at half-time.

The next circus we went to had lots of animals and in what seemed a truly anachronistic display of pride they would drive the animals, a dozen tigers, lions, giraffes, llamas, through town a couple times each day. Dh and I were standing by the road where the animals were being loaded and the tiger cage was parked directly in front of us. The animals were gorgeous, fat, relaxed, furry. The temptation to touch one was nearly overpowering. The only thing that stopped us from poking in a finger to pet that lush fur was the thought of how stupid we'd feel when our friends asked us what happened to our hands. So we took the Bunny to that circus and it was pretty incredible. The animals were amazing, 14 tigers kicked off the show by roaming freely around the cage in the ring, spraying their territory, wrestling with each other. At one point a young upstart pounced on the obvious leader and their tussling knocked over a whole row of stands. They both leaped to their feet with looks that clearly denied any responsibility. So that was fun.

The circus we went to this weekend billed itself as the biggest and most famous but it was a pretty rinky-dink setup. The performers were only okay, one woman's main trick was climbing up and down a ladder while balancing a 2' tall Barbie doll on her chin. That was a new one. And they had circus cows. The cows were positioned in the ring so that the circus llama could leap over their backs. That was a new one too. But they lost me when the camel trainer had to whip the camel repeatedly in the face to keep him moving around the ring. But at least I had the new New Yorker in my bag and that kept me entertained through the second half.

I did also have that parental quandary at this circus. How much crap do I or do I not buy? I generally don't buy anything because it's all just Chinese made plastic crap. However, this time we had the Bunny's friend and she was clearly used to getting anything and everything she set her sights on. Of course I don't want to go there. In the end I didn't buy anything. I had two granola bars in my bag that I gave the girls and that was that. However, I'm torn because I remember being in their shoes and wanting the Chinese made plastic crap desperately, as well as the cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, what have you. And I remember that I usually didn't get it. Every now and then I did get something I wanted and it was always a major thrill though I don't recall (and suspect the worst) that it stopped me from asking (whining begging threatening?) for more. And that is what I dread now in the parent's role. I find it exceedingly difficult to tolerate whining for more whatever hot on the heels of what I consider to be a pretty great treat. I know that childhood enthusiasm can quickly morph into the insufferable pleading of a junkie without pausing at gratitude for long. I just don't know the best way to teach that this is a bad thing and will ultimately result in fewer great treats. Anyone know? How to instill that sense of gratitude that all those cute little orphans (Annie, Heidi, Little Lord Fauntelroy)seem to have bundles of naturally but which real children seem to be lacking?
So anyway, that's what the circus brought up.

Friday, November 2, 2007

"Boundaries aren't meant to be impermeable!"

Well it's been a while since I've had real privacy at my computer to sit down and collect my thoughts. My mother was visiting. These days that is a trial. This time she brought her new boyfriend with her. He seemed very nice, had a good sense of humor, no obvious tics. While he was here she remained pretty calm cool and collected. He wanted to hear stories about Mom of course and so I told him some anecdotes in the traditional good-natured-ribbing way. In her typical everything-is-a-personal-attack way she took great offense and demanded that I lay off the "terrible characterizations". So I did.

Alas it didn't help much. She started to stew herself up into a fit after he left and by the second night she had cracked to the extent that she went searching through my email and forwarded a dozen emails from Alison to me to herself. It didn't take long for me to figure out what had happened once she opened her email in front of me and confrontation ensued making the remaining 8 days of her visit uniquely awkward.
I was less angry than dh and Alison felt was justified. Why? I guess it was such a clumsy and childish gesture. Even when I asked her to explain herself she was like a child, pouting and retorting, "How did you know?" So was it too crazy for me to get mad or am I simply in the habit of giving her a pass on taking responsibility? I don't know so later in the week when she asked why I'd become such a meanie (okay, she really said "mean person") I told her that I thought she had made a lifelong habit of foisting responsibility for her actions onto other people. She asked for examples, I had a long list, she cut me off before I got through most of it. She cried, she bemoaned, she got angry, she got self-righteous. I felt unusually detached. I felt like since I'd seen and heard all of her antics before I could watch her performance without becoming a player too. That was the best. While I still felt sad to see her writhing around in her mind trying to understand what had become of her care-taking daughter I mostly felt free.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Love that baby!

I keep thinking that I should write down how sweet Ali G is and then I keep forgetting so here I am.

She grunts. A lot. She almost seems to be channeling the spirit of our old dog Thurber. He knew the pleasures of grunting and never held back. She doesn't either.

Her eyes are a beautiful blueberry blue. They are deep deep blue with just a little lighter blue frosting near the pupil. Really pretty.

She isn't too happy about being carried in a mei tai. That is a shame because I think it is the most comfortable carrier I've ever tried, but as soon as she wakes up in it she gets really mad.

She still loves her red lamp. At night she tends to have a little fussy time before she conks out which I suppose is normal since the Bunny used to do the same thing at this age. But when she catches sight of her red lamp boy does she calm right down!

She is the apple of her sister's eye. The Bunny got a wallet for her birthday and the first thing she put in it was a picture of Ali G. Awwwww!

I think she is almost big enough for her cloth diapers! Finally! I HATE buying disposables. It boggles my mind that anyone anywhere would use them for an entire babyhood. They are so freaking expensive! It just kills me. Seriously. So I can't wait until we can get her out of them and into cloth, and I think she'll like it too. And she'll be easier to hold with that big fluffy butt!

Okay, what else? I've been thinking about this postpartum body of mine. Of course I have! I'm a normal self-obsessed american adult woman, right? But the nice thing that I've realized is that I'm not feeling any real angst over the size and shape I'm in these days. I recently read an article in the NY Times about Mommy Jobs. I had to click on it because I couldn't think what a Mommy Job was, was someone offering to pay SAHMs? But no, it wasn't anything like that, it was the newest hot package in plastic surgery!
Okay, I'll admit, sometimes it sucks to have a big paunch of gooshy fat at the waistline. But Ali G loves that. It gives her a nice comfy place to rest. When I nurse her she can lie on it like a Boppy. When I hold her at my shoulder she likes to wiggle her toes into it. And I can still run three miles. That seems like a reasonable measure of okay fitness doesn't it? And I know from previous experience that eventually my goosh belt will start to disappear. And that will be cool too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chiara's 6th Birthday

Okay, so the formatting still doesn't quite do what I want it to but here are some pictures of the Bunny's actual birthday party, at least the little family style one we had yesterday. She had asked that we hide her presents to be discovered scavenger hunt style so we did that. It was fun listening to her running from room to room and shrieking with delight each time she discovered the next gift, and it was nice to get so much mileage out of so few (small) gifts. Then we had pizza from Domino's as specified in her birthday rider and then the cake. As specified the cake was decorated with the family, the Bunny, me, dh, Wendy, Ninj, Xoche, Beaker, Thurber and the Stewarts, her goldfish that froze almost two years ago. The heavenly four are in the upper left corner. I was happy not only that I managed to get everyone on the cake but that I used up nasty old pinata candy in the process. Go me!

Also, sharp eyed Dingos will notice Ali G sporting Shanti's awesome socks that she made (handknit! These knitters continue to amaze me!)






Chiara's 6th Birthday

For Chiara's birthday we thought we get her something really big, something that would keep us all busy for a long time. It probably wasn't really what she was hoping for as a birthday present but that's okay, we got her some other stuff too.
Her really big present was the house!!!!! Five months to the day of our initial offer, the bank decided to accept it wit no counters! Dh is suspicious of course that any offer they would take must have been too high but I'm going with my grandmother's old motto, "What's for you is for you." (There was always the menacing implication that that meant "you get what you deserve, but we won't go there in any negative sense.)

It's a lovely setting to raise a family! And maybe chickens? A horse? A sheep to help mow the lawn? Ah the possibilities are endless!



Although it does need a bit of work! But I can totally see myself bustling around this kitchen, watching out the window for kids getting off the school, doing Mom stuff.



The upstairs has four very obvious bedrooms plus two smaller rooms that are a little less easily defined though we are thinking, laundry room/closet space and a playroom for the girls.



This place even comes with pets/a security system! Hopefully they will warm up to us once we start settling in, they were pretty fiesty back in May!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Careful What you Wish For?

Hope springs eternal! Here's the place we originally fell in love with (warts and all) on SJI. Now we hear the bank might just take our old lowball offer seriously! We're going to give it another shot and we're keeping out fingers crossed that persistence pays off.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Back on track!



Joy! I went for an actual run yesterday! It wasn't huge, just 2 miles, but hey, 2 miles isn't bad! Not after 10 months of being mostly sedentary and having a baby. I feel good about it, and what else matters? I just had such a rush of joy being out on the track, listening to my music, dh and Xoche jogging around too, lapping me every now and then. Joan came to look after baby and when I finished she walked some too. What a great way to start the day! I still get a giddy thrill thinking about how different I am from the high school girl who willingly failed a grading period of PE rather than compete with the soccer team in a mile and a half run. That girl is gone. And good riddance too. It's a shame that I felt so sure that I couldn't do both music and sports in high school. There is the question of available time of course. That is a valid excuse for focusing exclusively on one interest but it would have been nice to feel like making an effort in both worlds would not have been seen simply as wannabe behavior but instead as a normal well-roundedness. I know other students managed to pull that off, but I was not one of them.

Sunday we had a very nice day out in the country. We swam in the pond, picked cukes, had a lazy cookout (read, grilled meat and ate it plain on bolillos, nothing on the side). It was really relaxing. As always the end of the day was the hardest when we got home and the Bunny still needed to finish homework and practice the piano. But it all worked out. We just need to remember that part next weekend!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Joan and Ali G

Our good friend Joan came back for the winter this week and she came by for dinner the other night. She is the coolest person. She is turning 73 in a couple weeks and she's already talking about which sprint tri she's going to do next summer. Since a sprint tri is on my goal list too for next summer I'm now thinking about the logistics of doing one with her in New England.

Here she is with Alison.




Wednesday, October 3, 2007

There is nothing more frustrating that having your computer work but without internet. It’s like being stranded on some desert island. It’s actually worse, at least there you could swim. I’m drawn back to my desk repeatedly because this is where I hang out. This is where I catch up with friends, chat with the dingos, pay bills, research whatever random thought that pops into my head, make calls to the States, buy plane tickets, whatever. When the internet isn’t available (as it just so happens not to be) my computer still looks normal but it’s like having a friend with amnesia, it can’t tell me anything I want to know. But I still keep finding myself sitting down and clicking the mouse expectantly.

Oh well. At least I can vent into Microsoft Word and then transfer my bitching to my blog when we finally get our router fixed or replaced.

Enough of that.

Ali G update time.

She was pretty snotty for a while and at first we assumed it was the same cold that Chiara had brought home for everyone else. It may have been that in part but one night after we’d essentially had cheese steaks for dinner Alison was miserable! She was super congested and gassy and she had those little whiteheads popping out all over her body. In the morning I poked around online to see what I could cut out of my diet to help her and it seemed pretty clear that dairy (and all cow products) were the likely culprits. So, now it’s been a week without dairy and last night we had our first ever cry-free night. She snuffled around to nurse pretty much all night long but not once did she get bloated or sad. So that’s cool.

She still likes to have the light on. If she is not completely dead asleep when I turn off my lamp she immediately growls a warning that if I don’t turn it back on in 1.4 seconds she’s going to go full volume. So we’ve been sleeping with the light on pretty much all night. Whether it is a testament to the effective dampening of the glare that my sarong is accomplishing or to our collective exhaustion that we all sleep soundly (when we sleep) despite the light I don't rightly know. But as that is really one of the few demands she makes of us it seems like a small price to pay for a night’s sleep.

Other than sleeping through the night (more or less) Alison is awake more and more frequently throughout the day. She’s getting better control of her head and is starting to check out things a little farther afield. Today I think she actually got Ninj in focus for the first time.

Her eyes are still blue so I think I may have managed to sneak in one little piece of genetic evidence that she’s mine!

She gained a kilo in her first month (2.2 lbs). That made the doctor happy although he seemed a little concerned about the sounds he was hearing in her belly. He thinks that her digestive system is still just immature and that in another month or two it will be up to speed. He also put us back on a schedule of thirty minute sunbaths each day since she is still a little jaundiced. He didn’t seem too worried about that so I’ll try not to be either. Anyway, she seems to enjoy getting nudie in a sunny spot each day and the cat joins her too, a little solar time for each of them.

Despite her good weight gain all her clothes are still majorly baggy on her. I feel sorry that I didn’t go ahead and buy a couple preemie outfits, the poor kid would probably be more comfortable in clothes that fit. Oh well.

The Bunny is doing really well with her little sister. She is head over heels and loves to show off her baby holding abilities to grownup friends. She’s fascinated with diaper changing though she has no interest in getting too close to a poopy dipe. This afternoon she managed to scare herself (and me a little) though. Alison had just finished nursing and the Bunny was kissing her when Alison tried to suck on her nose. The Bunny thought it was super funny and she wanted to show me so she started to just put her nose into Alison’s mouth. By the time I leaned in to see what she was doing Alison was gagging and her eyes were bugging out. I got the Bunny’s nose away and Alison proceeded to throw up everything she had just eaten over the last 30 minutes. Grrrrr. For a second I feared that she had really choked and wasn’t breathing because she’d gone sort of glassy eyed, but as soon as I picked her up and patted her on the back she started blinking and grunting again. Overall Alison didn’t seem to mind but sheesh! The Bunny looked scared so I tried to look calmer about it than I felt.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some new pictures


The Dingo rosary, I just wanted to get one really good shot of this so everyone could get a close look. I am still so touched by the thoughtfulness of everyone who sent me a bead, this is probably the most meaningful piece of jewelry I've ever gotten.


Alison and her beads.


The Bunny and her little sister's toes.


The socks fit! Okay, they are still a little big, but they stayed on! A major accomplishment for baby sock as we all know.



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

19 days old!

At last I think, I hope, I truly believe that the drama is behind us.

Little A has been gaining weight nicely, is finally a natural normal baby color, has that sweet new baby smell and yesterday for the first time she seemed to really be on. She was awake much longer than ever before and she was clearly checking everything out, not in that dazed bleary way but really focused on things. And she was smiling in response to silly things dh and I would do. There's nothing better than that, that first moment where the connection is clearly going two ways. My heart just melts away completely. Up until yesterday I was in love but my feelings were so clogged with concern for her health and safety and she had been so sleepy and dazed it hadn't hit me with the full force. But now, she looks right into my eyes and gives me that incredible little toothless smile and wow.

I'm just plain head over heels.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Get Back in the Water

Saturday September 1 - The night at the hospital sucked. I've never been a patient in a hospital before and I wasn't prepared for the every-2-hour interruptions. But, we made it through the night with only the smallest panic attack. At about 2 am when the nurse came in to check on us, I assured her we were fine and sent her off and then looked at Alison and thought for a moment that she looked blue. I picked her up immediately, heart racing, and she looked more normal. Maybe a little purple, but at least not blue.
At 9:00 am Dra S came in to check on me. She took my blood pressure, checked my bleeding and then told me she'd scheduled me a postpartum check up for September 20, when she gets back from the vacation for which she was about to leave.

Um, huh?

Did you just say you're leaving on vacation today?

Oh, you did. (!) So, I guess there was something kind of pressing in your schedule yesterday after all, and not just that it was Friday afternoon. You're leaving town! Wow. Hmm. Paint me completely shocked. It is all clear. My paranoia wasn't at all unjustified. That's why I didn't have 24 hours to muck around when you ruptured the membranes, you've got a plane to catch. Holy fucking shit!

A little later Dr. M the pediatrician comes in to check on Alison. He is a super nice guy, he's that sweet pudgy nerdy guy who manages to charm even the strictest cliques in high school. I really like him and I feel grateful to him that he has now been there for my two youngest daughters with kindness and sensitivity. I don't know if he realizes he's met my family before but that's okay. He checks her heart, finds a "whisper" but assures us it isn't going to be a problem, we'll keep an eye on it but it should close up by the time she's two or three on its own. He encourages us to get her the TB vax and suggests we come in for a well-baby visit in a couple weeks, tells us to call him day or night if we have any questions and departs. We head home.

Xoche, the official nanny dog of the family, is very excited to see her new charge. We start to settle in. Bedtime is the hardest. The Bunny is jealous and upset that the baby gets to sleep with me and dh in the big bed. We decide to give it a shot with her in bed with us all together, I'll just keep Alison on my other side. But in the middle of the night I wake with a start and again it looks like Alison is blue. I feel terrible, did I squash her? I hold her on my chest for the rest of the night and sleep fitfully.

Sunday September 2 - It rains all day. We rearrange the bed set-up so that the Bunny can be in her bed but right smack up against dh's side of the bed. I hope that that helps, it looks cozy anyway.
Alison's color is a little funny. She's a bit yellowy orange. And blotchy. And she's beginning to break out with whiteheads, all over her body. I remember the Bunny had some whiteheads a few days after she was born, I think it was supposed to be my hormones seeping out, not to worry. I prepare my placenta for future use. It's been frozen so I cut tiny little bite-sized chunks and put them back in the freezer, I slice some thinly and dry it in the oven for capsules, I offer a piece to Xoche, she declines politely, I admire the beautiful cord and stash that and the remaining chunk in the freezer, one of these days I'll plant it in the country. That done I realize I haven't eaten. Dh, Dad and the Bunny went out for lunch so I fix myself some leftover lasagna. I think bitter thoughts about fixing my own lunch the day after I come home from the hospital and decide I need a nap. Later in the day I snap at my dad about not helping out enough. I feel like a huge bitch immediately and apologize but the message has gotten through anyway. Now I know I need to work on asking for help before it becomes an emergency situation. Bedtime is easier, at least a tiny tiny bit. The Bunny only screams bloody murder for an hour tonight.

Monday September 3 - In the middle of the night I check on Alison's breathing, it seems a little too hard to sense. It must be very shallow. I spend over an hour trying to wake her for a feeding. I start to feel panicky. The afterpains have gotten intense and I'm torn between wanting her to nurse more and dreading the pain of the contractions when she does. Finally, close to dawn I decide she needs a new diaper and maybe that will wake her up. I get up and take a few steps toward the bathroom. Blood gushes down my legs and I lose it. I've tried waking dh up periodically through the night to no avail. Now I'm terrified, I kick his feet until he wakes up. He gets up, pissed. He changes Alison and takes her away. I clean myself up after deciding it's not a hemorrhage, just a long night of nursing. I fall asleep again for a little while until dh brings Alison back for a feed.
It's obvious he is very angry at me. I feel like I'd been left alone all night to keep this fragile person alive and I know that I'm coming off of a lot of hormones. I need to make him understand that we're back at the edge of a very dangerous cliff. I get him to sit down, I try to explain how scared I am in a rational tone but I can't. I start to cry. Hysterically. He finally puts his arm around me and I start to feel okay again. I'm exhausted though, I don't want to think about it but I know something is wrong with Alison and I feel like dh and I just had the nearest miss yet of slipping backwards toward that horrible place where we don't connect on any level.
Big Alison comes over later in the day. She suggests a sunbath for the jaundice, when she sees the whiteheads she's clearly concerned. After a while she suggests we do a respiration check. She tracks how many breaths little Alison takes in a minute. She is still concerned. At one point little Alison is nursing, she hiccups and farts at the same time and her whole body goes limp. We both try to act casual. That didn't just happen right? This baby of ours is fine, right? When she leaves I go to take a nap with Alison but I can't sleep. Every time I close my eyes I can't hear her breathing. I'm so tired that I keep trying for an hour. The phone downstairs rings and rings.
When I get up I'm very worried. I'm thinking apnea, I do a search online, the results are not comforting. Big Alison calls, it was her calling before. She is freaked. She tells me to get little Alison to the dr right away. I feel like an ass for waiting this long already. I call him, it takes a couple times to get through but he says come up right away. I wrap the baby up, throw on my contacts and we go, I don't even remember my bag. I'm so distracted that when I go upstairs to put my contacts on and change my top I put the contact lens on my nipple instead of in my eye. It is funny, but also a little scary.
At the doctor's he thinks at first it is hypothermia, Dh and I feel like complete asses. We've pooh poohed the Mexican obsession over keeping babies covered in 6 blankets since the Bunny was born. But the doctor does a blood test, just to be sure. He kicks me out of the office and the sound of her cries makes me cry too. The results are back in 30 minutes. Suddenly the doctor is all business. She has a blood infection, she has to be hospitalized. Tonight? dh asks. Yes, right away.
At the hospital she is taken away in the ER to be given an IV. Again, her screams make me lose it. I want to be strong and stoic but I can't. I feel so guilty. If I hadn't been so scared she could still be safely inside me. But I insisted on the induction and now, sepsis. The exact thing I was scared of happening in the hospital is happening.

Once the IV is in dh goes home to get our things. We briefly debated one of us going home to spend the night with the Bunny but finally decide that this is exactly why my dad is here and she is old enough to survive this setback. By the time dh gets home she is already sound asleep anyway.
For all my distrust of and disdain for hospitals I have to hand it to De La Fe, instead of making her stay in an incubator alone, they just made our private room into an incubator by pumping up the heat to about 95 degrees. It is far from comfortable for me and Dh but it is a lot better than being sent home at night. The first night is the worst. The night nurse bustles in and out. She says that Alison's temperature isn't high enough at one point so I kangaroo her for a couple hours. By 3:00 am I am so dehydrated I'm dizzy. Dh turns the heat down a bit and we try to switch places. Alison isn't pleased and dh can't quite get her settled. The nurse returns and is very upset that we've turned down the heat. She admonishes us saying, your baby's infection is very serious, she must be kept warm enough if she is to recover! Again, feeling like the weakest woman in the world I start to cry and this time, though I know the nurse is looking on disapprovingly, I cannot stop. I clench my eyes tightly closed but the tears spill out, I can't breathe. I am so afraid. Before I could pretend that it wasn't so bad, not so serious because Dr. M told me everything would be okay. But now this nurse has implied that her recovery is not a given and I am lost. The thought that Alison could actually die is more than I can handle and I sob and sob.

Tuesday September 4 - Dr. M comes in the morning. Not only does Alison have sepsis, she has a GI infection as well. How does a baby get these things? He assures us again that she'll be okay. There is nothing to do but hold her and sweat and wait. Nick heads home for a while, Dad comes over and brings in food that won't die in the heat, Alison comes by with some books, I keep breathing. Chiara comes by after school and I immediately regret it. She is complaining of a stomach ache! Here she is fresh from the germiest place outside the hospital and we invite her in to see this poor little infected baby! I feel terrible but I send her home. Late in the day the nurse comes in and gives Alison a bath. After her bath I notice a little bump on her head. A scab. In exactly the position that would have been lowest when Dra S ruptured the membranes. Everything makes perfect sense.
I figured that Alison got the GI infection by getting some excrement in her mouth on her way out since Dra S was so much more concerned with getting me on my back than on dealing with how things were. And now, here is the answer to how the sepsis got in. My poor little baby had an open wound on her head. How many internal checks did Dra S do after she ruptured the membranes? At least twice and then she wasn't attending to keeping the birth canal clean at delivery. So now we know.

Wednesday September 5 - In the morning I point out the scab to Dr. M but unsurprisingly he doesn't want to know. He suggests it is something that will wash off. I don't blame him. There isn't anything he can do but what he is doing and he wasn't the one who caused the trauma in the first place.
Dad and Nick and Alison all understand what it means and that it also means nothing. There is nowhere to go with that knowledge. It just is.

We continue to sweat and chug water. I have trouble waking Alison for her feedings so Dr M tells me to try only every three hours. It helps a little, at least I can take the down time to visit the Bunny at home. We go to the roof and can see dh flashing the lights in our hospital room all the way across town. But when I have to leave her before she has fallen asleep she is a wreck. I want to promise her Disneyland when this is over, anything to make it less hard. But I don't.

Thursday September 6 - Another long day. Dr M has suggested that we might go home today but I don't feel little Alison is ready. She is still on IV, the heat is still cranked up, I still can't always wake her to feed. Alison comes over and helps us make a list of questions that we are worrying about for Dr M. We think he might not be telling us everything since typically Mexicans don't want to know. But we are Americans and we need to know everything. When he comes in later he graciously goes through the list. He assures us again that little Alison is going to be fine. Her blood is clean, the abx have worked, we just need to wait for results on her GI infection in the morning. We all breathe a huge sigh of relief and turn the heat off.

Friday September 7 - Dr M comes in in the morning with more good news. She is infection free, we can go home. Her IV fell out of its own accord earlier in the morning and her temperature has been holding steady without the heat since the day before. He gives us a list of antibiotics and vitamins she'll need to take and off we go. In the evening we celebrate her return home with cake and champagne.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fear and Loathing Hosptial de la Fe

Whew! What a week. Seriously. If only I'd managed to get on and write Alison's birth story right away. It would have been interesting to see how my tone changed, if it did. Anyway, what started out as a three hour tour became a full week of fear, anger (or more particularly, righteous indignation) and overwhelming gratitude.

Friday, August 31
8:30 - Dad, dh and I dropped the Bunny off at school and head down to pick up Alison (as yet the only Alison) and then continue on to the hospital. Once signed in I get settled in on the labor room bed with my dingo rosary and preggie dingo running shirt, IV attached, fetal monitor and contraction monitors strapped on, clary sage oil and water bottles on hand and we start to wait for something impressive to happen.

9:45 - Dra S checks me and tells me that although my cervix is soft it isn't dilated really at all and not finished effacing either. I say, no big deal, with the Bunny I wasn't 'ripe' at my first check either but had a nursing newborn in my arms 4 hours later. I am certain this is going to go quickly. Bring it on.

11:30 - Dra S says, still not effaced, maybe 1 cm dilated, time to add cytotec, 1/4 tablet to start. She also upped the pitocin. I'm still not feeling anything, really. the cytotec makes my cervix pain a bit after a little while but still no real labor contrax are happening.

1:00 - We're all getting pretty bored by this time. Dad has headed home, dh and Alison are hanging out reading, trying to be light hearted and entertaining. Dra S comes back and checks me again. A bit more effaced. She adds another 1/4 tablet of cytotec, says, hmm, that one didn't really get in the right place, I'm going to put in another 1/4 tab. Hmm. Okay. I guess. I'm really not in a hurry though. I know baby's going to come on out. But whatever.
1:55 - Dra S wants to check again. I'm already pretty all set with her fingers up there but alright, I'll play along. She gets her hand in and starts fiddling. Pulling, tugging, tweaking. I say, What the hell are you doing? (okay, not really, in spanish I'm hopelessly polite.) She says, oh, I think I feel the cord and I just want to make sure it isn't coming out first. I think, yeah as if, my bag is still intact so lets not worry about that right now. I knew immediately what she was up to and sure enough, oh would you look at that?! Amniotic fluid is leaking out! Dra S doesn't even admit that she did it, let alone on purpose. I'm a little pissed that she didn't ask me, I'd already told her I didn't want to do that unless it was absolutely necessary. Nothing about this scene made me think it was necessary. Alison thinks to ask, so, are we on some sort of timeline now that her water has broken? Dra S looks kind of bummed to have to answer but admits that I now have two hours to "progress significantly" before we'll have to go to Plan B. Oh, and let's not have my eat or drink anything from here on out, just in case. 2 hours? Seriously? What about 24? Isn't that the standard for water breaking? Or even 12? 2? Are you fucking kidding me? And immediately it was obvious. Dra S has never had any interest in or expectation that I would successfully have an otherwise natural birth. She's here today to do a cesarean and by giving me from 2:00 to 4:00 to progress significantly she can still get me in and out of the operating room and be out by 5:00. When she leaves the room I say this to dh and Alison. Alison looks shocked that I would have such a negative take on things. Dh looks like he's seen this cynical me before and knows that there isn't anything else to say. Assuring me that I'm paranoid will only make me angry at him too.
However, labor does pick up. Whether because of the broken bag or because I'm not going to let Dra S play me like some illiterate ranchera teenager who doesn't know what's what, contractions immediately start coming hard and fast. Their opening bid is 50 seconds long, 1 minute and change apart. I am keenly aware of the time but I'm still fully confident that this labor is now on the same trajectory as my previous two and I figure we should be holding baby by 5.
For the next hour I get to stay off the bed and start grooving out to the contrax as they get rapidly longer and faster. I spend some time on the yoga ball, some time swaying, some time on the toilet. By 3:20 I'm leaning over on some pillows dealing with the pain with long long moans, just trying to keep the air moving, not too fast, not too slow.

3:20 Dra S checks again ( I am all set with that checking biz, can't she see I'm obviously in active labor?). 2 1/2 cm. Fuck, a check, and it isn't what we all were hoping for.
But, I can get out of bed again, all is not lost. Contrax are getting good, really hard. I am so angry though that I'm here, in this evil place with a stopwatch going and my doctor a vulture with a scalpel looking smug as she announces my insignificant progress. Yeah well hold up bitch, I have 40 minutes to go and you never defined 'significant'. I start swearing at everyone who ever told me they thought I should go to a hospital so Alison starts dosing me up with the pure essence of some homeopathic remedy for righteous indignation. Even at the time I can see the humor in the fact that she knew I'd be this pissed and came prepared. Dra S suggests that I could have an epidural. I shout NO! and continue doing my thing. She starts on about how she wasn't suggesting anything, wasn't trying to undermine my labor, wouldn't dream of doing anything I didn't want her to. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

4:00 - The witching hour has arrived. Dra S is back, gloves on, thinks she's got it going on. I'm at 5 cm. I decide that this is a good time to stop understanding spanish. I'd toldDra S in advance that that happens when I'm in labor. It isn't true this time but I know that my only chance to have the birth I want is to ignore her completely. To be so engrossed in my actively laboring self that she'd need a team of helpers to get my cooperation from here on out. Baby is fine, I know she is, she's reacting to contrax just the way the Bunny did, the way Wendy did not. But, I'm not able to get upright again and it blows. It is so mind bendingly painful that it makes me feel like time has slowed to a crawl. That's good and bad. I am pretty sure that I can avoid any more checks and therefore the implementation of Plan B because I'm truly in enough pain to bring on an altered state, I don't open my eyes for an hour. However, I'm now in so much pain that a itty bitty part of me would welcome relief. I pray Dra S keeps her mouth shut about epidurals and cesareans now. But then suddenly it's time to push. I keep it to myself until the last minute lest she try to get her fingers in again to verify what I am sure of. When I can't resist any longer I get on my hands and knees. I hear Dra S telling me to get on my back. She says I can't stay that way, I can't have a baby that way. Oh really? Funny, that's how the bunny was born and I'm not budging. Thanks anyway.
The nurse says, but we have to wheel you into the other room, you'll fall off! I promise not to fall and then hope nobody noticed how I understood that part but nothing else for the last hour. Doh!
They wheel me into the other room, Dra S is begging Alison to talk sense into me. Alison knows what I'm up to. She relays the message but without conviction. She tells me I'm a mama lion and to keep on doing my thing. I'm pushing hard, I can feel the baby moving on out. I can smell the excrement. I hope someone can deal with that and pop!

4:52 - Baby's out. So hah! on you and your 2 hour stopwatch Dra.
I whip around, someone hands me little Alison Grace as she's suctioned and patted. She is purple and yelling and tiny and wet. She's perfect and beautiful and has a ton of hair. Her Apgars are 9 and 9 or 8 and 10 depending on who you ask. Whatever, I'll keep her. The pediatrician takes her for a moment to weigh and measure, give her vit K and eye drops. The placenta whooshes out. It is perfect. Completely intact, textbook perfect. The umbilical cord too. The veins weave around each other beautifully, the color is almost an iridescent pale blue. I had to check, Wendy's had been yellow and black, skinny and misshapen. I breathe yet another sigh of relief. Alison Grace is handed back to me and she starts to nurse. What a girl!
All is well. We made it, the days of breath holding are over.
I thank God.

to be continued

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alison Grace is here!


Big Sister Chiara meeting little Alison Grace for the first time. She brought a little bunny
Little Alison's nursing instincts were fully online. She actually latched on in the operating room before they could even get all her stats!
You can also see how the dingo rosary developed into quite a spectacular piece of jewelry!
Little Alison had quite a nice supply of vernix which, to the hospital's credit, they didn't insist on washing off so over the past two days it has all sunk in and given her a nice soft complexion.
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Dingo rosary


Here are some of the beads that my dear dingo friends have sent me to wear during labor. Please claim your beads so I know who to think of for each one!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bootie Cuteness!

Here is the Bunny with the cute cute booties that MonikitaUT made for baby. Holy sweetness Batman! Thank you M!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I have a First Grader!

Holy cow! It's official, the Bunny is a first grader today. After our weekend of biting our nails she breezed right in today when we arrived. The nice teacher who had given her her entrance exam greeted her with a big hug and pointed out her classroom where we found the Bunny's best friend hanging out looking shy. On our way to the room I saw the headmaster who gave me a friendly nod but didn't say anything and when she got in to meet her teacher she was given her name tag so we snapped some quick pictures and hightailed it out of there with the Bunny looking happy as a first grader can look.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My last breakfast, served!

That's it! The guests are here for one last night but they're all paid up and leaving too early for breakfast tomorrow so I'm calling it official, we are closed!!!!
The website's new look!

Yay!

The Bunny Rides Part 2


Here's a quick vid of the Bunny riding Campera at a canter!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Um, homeschooling? What?

So today's drama was the news that the Bunny doesn't have the one official state sanctioned document that will allow her to enroll in first grade at the school for which we have paid tuition, bought books and a uniform (or in any other school for that matter).
Since she will not be 6 on September 1 she may not be allowed to enroll. We will hear on Sunday whether they can make an exception if she enrolls as a foreigner and not as a mexicana.

Her old school is "holding her place" for their pre-first program but frankly I'm sick of them. They would scold her for doing a week's worth of homework on Monday night. Um, couldn't we just call it good time management skills and/or give her extra work since the cut-and-paste-things-that-start-with-the-letter-'r' is obviously not challenging enough? No. No, I can't imagine sending her back for more stunting. So that leaves homeschooling! Yikes. To my utter shock when I told her that it might happen (since school starts on Monday) she didn't respond with dismay as I'd expected. She said she'd like it! Hmmm. I really think she'd miss the time with other kids but maybe there would be enough extracurricular things for her to do that we could fill that gap.

We certainly have enough books we bought for the new school to keep her busy for a few months and it would be nice to have a flexible schedule. Also, the plan was always that she'd end up repeating first grade since she won't be old enough to start second grade in the States next year.

Yeah, I guess I could be down with homeschooling. But I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that they can make an exception for my little gringa.

Belly Shot 35 weeks and Runningmommy Socks!
















Cute cute little baby socks handknitted by Runningmommy!!! Thank you L! :)







A big blurry baby belly at 35 weeks + 5 days.



Thursday, August 16, 2007

I want a tiger Patronus

As we should have realized it would, life is accelerating out of control in these final weeks. As are my emotional swings.

Two nights ago I had a fresh new panic attack over feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility to be calm, cool and collected while making the final decision about inducing baby early. I do not trust myself to have any intuition one way or the other. I had no idea Wendy was in trouble until I saw her emerge in the tub.
I also have no faith that a hospital is a safe place for a baby to be born. Last week I presented my OB with my birth plan. To her credit she read it through and took me seriously. To my dismay she then started explaining why she couldn't promise to accommodate my desires. She explained that I wouldn't be able to choose the most comfortable position for delivery because only when I'm on my back does she have a good view of things. She said she couldn't promise that I wouldn't be shaved because that is necessary to keep the area clean. Then the scariest blow to my hopes, the baby would need to be taken to the nursery for 2-3 hours after birth (oh, they'd "show" her to me first) for observation. At that I must have gone deathly pale because she told me about the one pediatrician that might be willing to observe the baby while I hold on to her. We have since met him, it turns out he was the Dr that came to declare Wendy dead, and he seems like a truly sweet nice guy. He didn't quite promise that baby could stay with me for the duration of my time in the hospital but he was reassuring that he prefers to do things more naturally. He had also been prepped by my OB to expect us and he gave us his cell number and told us to call when I'm in labor and he'll be sure to come be there when baby arrives. I plan to go to the hospital with plenty of cash for when I need to provide more motivation than simply solid research to back up my crazy wishes!

I am trying to find faith that this Dr and my OB will truly do everything they can to help keep baby safe before and after birth. I am trying to stay positive. I am trying to visualize nothing but happy safe scenarios. I am not succeeding 100% of the time.

I am trying to stop thinking of the risks associated with induction, the trouble breathing, the trouble nursing, the increased chance of a c-section. I am trying to focus on the end result. A sweet happy healthy baby safe in my arms. I cannot believe how hard that is. I feel like such an incredible failure. I feel like Harry Potter being probed by a dementor. I can't block the worst thoughts from surfacing. Actually that is a pretty spot-on analogy. I need a wand, a bogart and a pile of chocolate so I can learn my Expecto Patronum charm.

So that's the internal turmoil happening. The external business, it doesn't quite qualify for chaos, yet, is a pileup of business, school, last days of summer camp, real estate deals and pre-natal organizing.

We are in the final three days of B&B life. I can't wait for Sunday. We are just so ready.

We have made the decision to stay in town and send the Bunny to a school which has been siphoning off all the kids with attentive parents from her old Monessori school. On Monday she passed her entrance exam by somehow demonstrating enough pluck and intelligence to compensate for her mistakes on letter and number recognition and an unusual display of dyslexia. Yesterday we bought her uniform, a standard blue and green plaid jumper, white knee socks, with polo shirt. She was brimming with pride. So grown up! She looked like someone who has stepped over a threshold into a whole new epoch. It was happy and sad and beautiful and frightening all at once.

Today and tomorrow she gets some make-up days at horse camp. She loves it and she's rightfully proud of her accomplishments there. Today I found myself wondering, now what? I don't want her to have to completely give up this new love, this new skill for which she so clearly has a natural talent. But it's expensive and a little scary too. For now we have enough on our plates that I don't feel compelled to come up with an answer, but the question will still be there when I'm ready.

And, as everyone knows, in real estate timing is everything. And so, at long last, a property we bought with friends to improve and flip and which has been in process for almost two years is finally at the point where we (read Dh) are supposed to get the infrastructure improved . We already have buyers waiting to give us money and though we aren't desperate for it yet our partners are so we can't stall on getting water and power lines run and roads fixed so that the deal can proceed to the selling part. It just figures that all of these things need to be supervised organized and completed in these two weeks left in the run up to September 1!

We are also within a breath of an agreement to sell the Bluff property. This afternoon we faxed off counteroffer #8, our final offer which we are fairly confident the buyers will accept. However, since we've got that freaking shed full of crap out there we'll still have to hammer out an agreement about when we need to drag our asses to Bluff to sort through the stuff we (and my brother) couldn't bear to part with way back when. Of all people, my mom seems to have the best idea of what is in the shed. She helped move a lot of stuff out of my brother's house when he sold it. I'm not ashamed to say my blood ran cold when she said, "Oh yes! Those lovely green and gold dishes we always used for company are there." I don't want those dishes!!! They can't be washed in a dishwasher and they screech like nails across a blackboard when you cut anything. But I've got them! Somehow they ended up in my shed in the middle of the freaking desert!

And lastly, speaking of my brother, he left a nearly inaudible message on my machine last night. All I could hear was that it was him. We haven't spoken since February when he had basically said we had it coming with Wendy since we made so many irresponsible decisions. Then he topped that off with attacks on dh. He did apologize but quickly threw cold water all over that by telling my dad that he was still mad at me (!). So now he's called. Okay bro, I'm freaking out about shit that has nothing to do with you, I don't think I have the space for anything more. I am hopeful enough to assume that he was calling to try mend the fence but if I'm wrong I'm not sure I can withstand that. So what to do? That's the question of the day. And I'll leave it there. This post is sure long enough for me and the horse I rode in on!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Countdown is on!

Whew. 3 weeks and a few days before it's Baby Time!

And within that we've got one last week of full occupancy, we have to make a final decision about where Chiara should start the school year, we're up in the air about when and whether to bother moving to the country and today Nick is having big second thoughts about where to move too! Ijole!

We just gave Maru her two weeks' notice which was sad. We also told Lupe and Alicia to decide whether they prefer to split the remaining position or have one of them take their severance and try to find a new full-time job. I don't envy anyone. As irritated as I've been with them in the past few months, they each have been a part of this home and it's sad to get to the end of the road, regardless of how inevitable it's been. Maru asked if she could come and meet the new baby. Of course. Blah, this is the part that sucks.

Other than all that, dh and I have agreed to rewrite our wedding vows to celebrate our 9th anniversary this Wednesday. We haven't set aside time to do it yet but he did make sure to get a babysitter. That's a pretty big step, and I'm feeling very warm and squishy about it.

I also have to write down a birth plan in the probably vain hope that it might have some influence over how my hospital experience flows. At the very least I need a list of questions about what is normal operating procedure here. The trick is that I haven't got the hang of asking the questions in a completely neutral way. My bias is obvious by the very nature of the questions. I don't want to start off seeming combative but I certainly don't want to agree to things I could avoid just to be likable either.

At least I've been getting a bit of nesting accomplished. I'm suddenly full of ideas about things to cook and freeze and stock and prepare and I've been doing it too! And, so saying I feel like I'd better get going and start crossing some more things off of the list!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cynicism and Condescension

Those are the two poisons that this marriage can no longer abide.

This is something that I have learned over the past year or so. These lessons have been hard won and you'd think that they'd be seared into my memory indelibly. But in fact I feel like I'm trying to hold water in my hands. It's as if I look away for a moment the understanding disappears. Or like having something under a microscope, if I vary the power of my gaze I lose track of what level that important knowledge was on. So I'll write it down. Here and there, so that I have something more tangible to remind me.

I recently read Stumbling on Happiness which suggests that our brains 'help' us out by sugar-coating memories. That's nice of our brains but if you buy the theory, as I do, it does give reason to be paranoid about forgetting these lessons. I don't want my brain to rewrite history, I want to remember what sucked and why. I want to remember how much it sucked, not that it was kind of a drag. My marriage was pretty fucking rotten for a while there and it hasn't been easy pulling it back from the abyss. Not easy but worth every minute spent. I also don't want to exaggerate my history. There were good times mixed in with the long stretch of awful. But those gave my brain an excuse to ignore the worst for far too long. It gave my brain a pass to say, "Wait! Remember this day? That wasn't so bad right?"

Why focus on this now? Today? Well, I know that we are approaching a critical junction in time. I am still scared that we could backslide to that place where I feel invisible and dismissed. When this baby is born will we allow ourselves to be so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that we start to forget what else has been at stake? Will we turn our focus to the new baby, to making sure the Bunny is okay and lose track of our relationship, on which all else in the family depends? I think it was with the Bunny's birth that we started to lose our grip with each other the first time. She was so fun, so perfect, so distracting that we didn't notice how little attention we paid each other. Then suddenly we were those angry strangers, not on the same team, not supporting each other. I was being ignored, studiously and I became an angry bitch with nothing but criticisms to defend myself against the emptiness.

I don't want to go there again. I wish I felt confident enough that it couldn't happen but when dh appeared to not email or call me from the road for a day (somehow his email address had been filtered to trash?) it was my worst fear resurfacing. Okay, fair enough, he did send an email, not his fault that I didn't get it. But I think the fact that my trust has been so damaged that my brain didn't even come up with the possibility of an email glitch is one of those red flags not to dismiss.

So we'll continue to work at it and I'll keep making notes to remind myself. And when I feel like I'm in danger of irritating dh with my insistence that we aren't there yet I'll try to remember that he should want to get there as much as I do.

I'm wide awake.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Recovery Days

Well the family is gone and quiet has returned. The Bunny and I are still feeling a little zonked
so we've been trying to take it easy.
Yesterday was my first Non-stress Test and it was a good education in how unlike a homebirth this
is going to be! Baby passed with flying colors, I was a little less
successful but knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed etc etc.

Basically the labor sala is this small windowless room painted half pink
and half blue (maybe this is normal? I've never been in L&D in a hospital before). For the test (foreshadowing what is expected for labor)
I was told to lie on my back with the external fetal monitor and a
contraction monitor strapped on. When I asked the nurses if I could sit
up they said no so I sat up anyway (in case I'd been unclear about what
I was asking) to their consternation. After they got me back on my back
they did jack up the bed a little but it was still pretty
uncomfortable. They didn't want me to lie on my side either. It took
them about 5 minutes to even find the heartbeat because they never
bothered to feel around on my belly to check baby's position. At one
point they were pleased to find my heartbeat (except that they thought
it was hers) so I jiggled my belly to see what position baby was in,
mentioned that the HR sounded too slow to be the baby and then pointed
to her back so they could find the real one. Not terribly inspiring,
especially when Alison mentioned that the head nurse has been the head
nurse there forever. Finally they got it all set and left and then
after about 5 minutes Doctora arrived and must have noticed that I was
having trouble breathing, getting a little frantic and overheating and
she let me move to my side. As soon as I did baby's heart rate got
noticeably faster and she started moving around like a happy little
monkey. Alison asked if I was going to have to keep this stuff strapped
on in labor and Dra S said yes, of course. I was still feeling pretty
sweaty and freaked out about the time spent on my back so I said that I
couldn't imagine lying still through labor, couldn't she check me every
five minutes with the doppler or something? But she said no, and later
I realized that really (okay, Alison pointed it out) that is what we're paying her for. In the event
that Baby thinks she might just check out we want to know immediately
and get her out of there so I'll spend the next five weeks trying to
wrap my mind around lying down through labor. It isn't going to be fun
though. I really really hope that once we get labor going it is as fast
as the last two lest I completely freak out, tear my clothes off and go
raving around the hospital like a lunatic.

We didn't get to see the sala de expulsion (delivery room), I figured one unpleasant revelation at a time and
I've got one of these tests scheduled each week from now until the end
but it was emphatically stated that babies are not allowed to be born in
the room I was in. At least if the pattern holds I won't be in there for too long. And, I'll need to make this a mantra, the important thing is that baby comes out healthy and well. I'm a grown up and I can withstand a lot of discomfort. It won't kill me. I've said I'd do anything for a healthy baby. Time to put my money where my mouth is.

Dh is up in SJI checking out that 16 acre parcel. According to last night's email it is a major disappointment. He says it feels chilly and damp and there are no good clearable trees for building, all too small. He said it reminds him of Storrs. Deal killer for me, for sure. He also said it was 13 miles from Friday Harbor, also kind of too far. However, he mentioned that the Beaverton Valley place had gotten a subsequent offer to ours which was lower so he was going to see if there might be more room for movement on that now. I hate to feel so helplessly wanting that place. Objectively I know that it is an overpriced disaster area but when I think of it all I can picture is us living a comfortable happy life there, turning it into a real cozy home. I see myself puttering in the kitchen, the Bunny catching the school bus, the cat prowling around the meadow, Dh out in the garden. Oh well, what will be will be.

I'm suddenly feeling the extreme need to lie down and snooze while the Bunny is busy with her favorite show but I do have more thoughts I need to get out of my head! I'll be back. I swear.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Here is the incredible little dress that DrJen made for Baby. I am not only impressed that she knit it (because as a non-knitter it feels magical to have something so perfect made by a real live actual friend) but that she had time to knit it what with being a mom to four kids and a doctor! I am truly in awe. It is so soft too, it will be in the to-go bag for the hospital fo' sho'!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sleep is Optional

Yawn, stretch, coffee. Repeat as necessary.

So this not sleeping through the night thing is continuing and now I know who the culprit in my schedule is. Baby! Well, I guess I can't blame her if she's getting bored and feeling cramped. And I honestly do not mind waking up to feel the little wrist circles and calf stretches she's working on in there. Every movement continues to be a pleasure. For all the roller-coastering my emotions are on throughout this pregnancy, and even with the itching and depression of ICP coming and going as it is, this has been a pretty comfy 7 months all told. Some days when I'm not worrying about something else, I worry about that. LOL

I'll be back. I'm trying to sort through the variety of thoughts about all this family swirling around and I want to jot down some thoughts on the property we are under contract for on San Juan Island. But first I need more coffee and my guests are about to need breakfast.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Things I should have said

So, once again as I was awake at an odd hour last night I was thinking about things that linger on in my brain and thought perhaps writing it down would help purge it out once and for all.
Right before bed I got an obnoxious email from some random stranger who had initially contacted me about the house being for sale. She got all crazy about how insane I was for suggesting that this place could be run as a B&B when that was clearly a fool's errand. Yeah, whatever. But it did get me thinking about the times when people have said things so unexpected or so thoughtless or inappropriate or astoundingly callous that I have not been able to respond satisfactorily. So here's one response that I would have given in that fake time-stands-still kind of way had I been able to overcome my astonishment.

Cristiana: "You know, I really know how you must feel. My second baby didn't take a breath for almost two minutes when she was born and I was right there feeling so strong and connected to all women. As mothers we really understand what it is like to have to face life and death."

Me: "Well actually you probably don't really have a clue how I felt. There is a world of difference between a baby that takes a breath and a baby that doesn't. When your baby takes a breath your adrenaline probably kicks in and you get all shaky but you're elated that she's breathing now. You probably put her to your breast, feel her little limbs start to respond. You deliver your placenta, cut the cord, get cleaned up, wrap up baby in a blanket and hold her and marvel at how perfect she is and what a miracle that she's okay.

When your baby doesn't take a breath someone cuts the cord and starts trying to breath for the baby. She doesn't respond so they whisk her into another room to try something else. You are left sitting in a half full tub of water, blood and meconium, praying silently and shouting to the baby in the hopes that somewhere somewhere in her she can hear you and can respond. Finally it is clear that she is not going to take a breath.

She is not going to start. She is not going to move or cry or nurse or be any warmer than she is at that moment. You find yourself lying on a bed waiting to expel the placenta. Your baby is grey and naked and lying inert on the far side of the bed. Everyone around you is in such shock, so horrified at what is happening that so far no one has even thought to swaddle the little body. You start to go into shock yourself. This is a scenario you never imagined and you start to shake uncontrollably.

Later, you are still in bed holding your lifeless baby and you have to make a decision. Should you send her to the coroner to be cut open and autopsied or do you send her to the funeral home to be cremated? Cutting her open may not bring you any answers and will certainly not bring her back. Cremation sounds sensible, you have 24 hours to choose but already her body is stiffening and the blood is pooling and creating strange dark patches on her skin and you don't want to remember her like this. And you don't want to ever let her go.

And that is the beginning of what it feels like when your baby doesn't take a breath. Only the beginning. And if your baby has never ultimately failed to take a breath you will never have a fucking clue what it feels like."