Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Breastfeeding is giraffe

I realize the title of this blog is grammatically incorrect. Stay with me...I'll explain it soon.

Photo by Michael Sheridan.

This will probably be my last post before baby. He is due this weekend, and while I realize babies don't always come on time, I am convinced I won't encounter anything as odd as my recent visit to interview a pediatrician.

In my search for a pediatrician, I set up a few interviews with recommended doctors. Not knowing what to ask, I also downloaded a list of questions from babycenter.com. Having never interviewed a doctor before, the whole arrangement felt strange to me. However, my first doctor interview went very well and was encouraging.

Last week's interview felt more like meeting a politician. Kind of a slimy politician.
We're going with a nature theme here. Slugs are slimy! Leopard slug courtesy of fcps.edu.
He was over a half hour late. I was willing to forgive that because he was probably tending to sick children. Though, he didn't mention his lateness at all. Hmm...

His handshake was a vice grip, like he was he trying to crush the tiny bones in my hand. This may be wrong, but I judge handshakes. Too limp and I think someone is uncomfortable in their skin or with people. Too firm or too much squeeze, I think they have self-confidence issues and want to dominate everyone through their hand. (I don't think about what either of these assumptions means about me. Let's leave self-reflection for another post.)

So that's two strikes against future baby doctor. Not to mention my hand was sore.

I proceeded to ask him a few questions. He gave me stock answers to the basic questions (on call, after hours, email, etc.). Then I asked him if he recommended any parenting books.

"I tell my parents not to read. Rather they should trust their intuition." Okay, so as a doctor he tells people not to read. Also, he had strong objections to the book I was reading as I waited in his office, Nurture Shock. "Nurture," he went on to say, "is inherent. Every person knows how to parent."

Really? Why then do so many people fail? I'm not talking about the people who think they fail. I'm talking about the people who starve their children or beat their children or sell their children or murder their children and leave them in a trash can. They haven't tapped into their nurture instinct. They may not even have it.

Clearly, I don't agree with the doctor. So that's strikes three and four. (As a writer, I am a fan of reading.)

But the final blow came when he interrupted me to say I wasn't going to "try" breastfeeding, I was going to breastfeed without fail. "Every woman can breastfeed. The hospitals make it difficult on women to breastfeed. None of my home birth patients have any trouble breastfeeding. Look at the pictures on my walls. I went to China, I went to Africa, I went to India. There were no lactation consultants. They just did what came naturally when their milk came down. They were all fine. Look at the giraffe'" There is no giraffe on his wall, though he is pointing to one, "Its baby is born and then it suckles. No intervention needed!"

I wanted to stand up and scream crazy demon lady at him that he was lying. One of his patients, who recommended him, had a home birth and needed to call a lactation consultant. Strike Five!
I envision myself as the old demon lady from Legion.
We are also not damn giraffes (no offense to the beautiful creatures) and not all baby mammals and their mammas breastfeed inherently or properly. Some baby animals die because of this. Just like not every child in China, India, or Africa survives. Hence the history of wet nurses. We have supplanted our tribal communities, from which we could have utilized that generational knowledge of breastfeeding or called upon our sisters to help us wet nurse, with lactation consultants and midwives. These aren't sacrifices, they are changes we should embrace.

It was time to go. I stood up and said thank you. He shook my hand again; it felt pulverized. "What are you going to do?" He asked. Never see you again, write a blog about this, rail at your stupidity to my husband. "Um, breastfeed?"

"Yes!" He replied. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to: Swaddle

Either, I have a lot of free time on my hands (true) or I am a little obsessed (also, true) with swaddling.

See Exhibit A below.

Poor ET. Not only was he dressed up by Drew Barrymore, tortured by government scientist, and stuffed into the front of a bicycle when he only wanted to get the F* home, he was also my swaddling demo doll. 
A family member asked if I knew how to swaddle. This particular family member has no children and likes to tell me how easy every aspect of baby care is. Of course, I said "Yes, I know how to swaddle. I've done it a bunch of times."

I've never swaddled. But, hey, I've seen it on TV! Or at least in my baby care class video. This time my family member was correct; it is easy. Though, less so on a 20+ year old decaying ET doll.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My thoughts on pregnancy resources thus far

It's third trimester, y'all! In fact, it's week 37. Baby is just around the corner, and it has me thinking about A LOT of things. However, today I'm focused on pregnancy resources and advice I've received thus far.

As always, these are my opinions and may not reflect anyone else's pregnancy experience.

Pregnancy books - Natalie bought me one manual, which was helpful and short. I didn't want "What to Expect When You're Expecting" because I wanted to rely on my OB and my own experience. However, the short book Nat sent was helpful and comforting. One book about pregnancy is plenty for expectant moms and dads.

Pregnancy pillows - I purchased two different types of pillows: a wedge and leg support. I regret both purchases. A lot of moms referred me to the full body pillow, which I rejected because I was already sharing space with a husband and a very snuggly cat. If I have a second pregnancy, I may try this (and kick hubby and cat out of the bed...just kidding). The pillows I purchased were too hard and too wide for my petite frame. 

Prenatal massage - I had three throughout my pregnancy and I loved every single one. Granted, as I grew bigger it wasn't as soothing as when I'm not pregnant, because I couldn't lie on my stomach and really melt into the table. Still, they could reach kinks that I couldn't get or hubby couldn't work out (as he is not a certified masseuse), especially in the hips, and that was a relief making the massage worth every penny. I will definitely give my friends this as a gift when they are pregnant. And I'll probably treat myself at the same time!

Manicures and pedicures - I love mani-pedis all of the time, but my feet and legs are especially sensitive now. It could be the swelling or extra water weight. The soaking does wonders, so I request a lighter touch to maximize the benefit and minimize the discomfort. Plus, I can't reach my toes and I like having regular nail maintenance.

Baby gear - One of my worst experiences (aside from morning sickness and general nervousness about pregnancy) was building my baby registry. The amount of materials you're told you need is overwhelming, picking your preferred brand based on suggestions and reviews is daunting. Most moms will tell you that half of what you receive you won't use. Why? Because you and your baby are individuals. Your friend's baby may love a sling, yours may hate it. Your baby may love the bouncy seat, your sister's child may have shrieked in pain when he was put into it. I registered for what I thought was necessary based on recommendations from a few people and places. I probably still have too much. My main resource was this list by alphamom, that Natalie edited for me from her experience: Ultimate baby registry checklist.

While it told me what to buy, it didn't give me brands to buy, and the task of reviewing brands for every item was equally stressful.  Here, I would turn to different resources (aside from internet reviews) including new parents, family members, my OB, and my hospital's baby care class.

Advice - From the beginning of my pregnancy, I have said that I would welcome all advice. And I've received a lot of it from many people in many place (including a 50-year old coworker who insisted I get an epidural, instead of having a c-section, as if the two are interchangeable). Some of that advice has been helpful and kept me sane, some has cracked me up (see parenthetical above), some has annoyed me (my aunt telling me that I had to wash baby clothes separately just "because that's what you DO."), some has made me feel prepared, some a little scared, and some left me confused (differing views on how to care for an uncircumsized penis).

I took in what they said and tried to weigh it on my common sense scale (or do more research if I needed more direction). I listened to all of it, I opened myself up to what was being said by others, and I feel like that has been a wonderful experience. Almost every piece of advice has come from a place of care and love. I remembered that if ever I was annoyed.

Boundaries - Even if you're open to advice, it's still good to set boundaries. This is something I've struggled with throughout my pregnancy and am really learning in my final months. For me it has been balancing the knowledge that baby is mine and Panda's with the reality that he is important and part of the lives of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They want to claim him as much is I do.

When they push, my instinct is to push back, be angry, and then give in to their demands. This doesn't really help the situation and creates a lot of tension and frustration that I hold inside. The word "boundaries" always makes me a little uncomfortable, as it sounds like I'm erecting an impenetrable wall and refusing to allow anyone access.

It's also not compromise, which at times is really no one getting what they want.

For me it's been about saying "no" and me respecting my decision right or wrong. I do try to explain my "no", to minimize hurt feelings, but at times people may feel jilted. I hope they will come to understand my decisions and appreciate me for standing by my decisions. As I said, I'm learning.

In learning boundaries, there has also been learning about letting go of some rigidity. I can't control everything, can I? (Okay. A small part of me wishes I could...)

Friendships - As pregnancy progresses, I become more and more absorbed in all things baby related. I never thought I would. In fact, I said I wasn't going to be one of those mothers-to-be who talks all about her pregnancy. As my world narrowed to nothing but baby questions and baby preparedness, it was unavoidable. I also craved more discussion about children, parenting, and general baby wellness. Maybe it's the writer in me or the nervous new mama needing the information, the background, the research, and the general observation that what I am thinking about IS normal.

Thankfully, my friends have been patient, understanding, and indulgent. Either they realize and/or hope this won't last forever or they are really just great people.

Reality check -

 Pregnant Women Are Smug by Garfunkel and Oates

Friday, August 26, 2011

How to: Mod Podge Tiles

Hola! Sorry to disappoint; no Sara update, just another craft how-to. Today, I will be creating, reviewing, and giving you fresh ideas for a craft already featured on another website.

Kristy from Light Refreshments Served created this awesome project http://lightrefreshmentsserved.com/?s=coasters: simple, easy-to-do coasters that you can make for your friends and family. However, unlike Kristy, my family members are not coaster users. I don’t know why (actually there are three reasons; husband, daughter, dog) but everything in my house looks like it went through some type of tropical storm. Worrying about glass rings on the furniture would be akin to me approaching a homeless panhandler and telling him that he really should get that nasty little hangnail looked at.

So I went in to this project with some other ideas, mainly the possibility of making some sort of ceramic table top. And also wall hangings. I love scrapbook paper but I am the worst scrapbooker in the world. I am just really bad at projects that take long amounts of time to finish…so here was a nifty little reason for me to continue my addiction to scrapbook paper WITHOUT the pain in the arse of creating beautiful family memory keepsakes!

First off, a list of the things you will need:

• Ceramic tiles – you can get these as singles at any home improvement store. I did the 4 x 4 inch tiles but also considered doing smaller and larger for different projects.

• Mod Podge – you can buy this crafting glue at just about any craft store, generally in the glue or “things that you use for sticking” aisle.

• Scrapbook paper – OR cool ads you found in old magazines or old papers, etc. Also, I am toying with the idea for taking some of my own pictures and printing them out to see how that goes.

• Some type of glossy clear protective enamel spray paint – you will also find this at a home improvement store or places like Kmart.

• Little round felt pads (if you plan on making coasters).
• Foam brushes.
• Soap and water for clean up.
• Well ventilated place for enamel spray paint.

Let me say this took A LOT more mod podge (henceforth referred to as MP) action than I initially thought it would. You stick the scrapbook paper to the ceramic tile using MP. Then you also brush over it with MP and leave to dry. You do this MULTIPLE TIMES. The more you build up, the more protected the scrapbook paper is from peeling off the ceramic tile at a later date. After a few go rounds I thought it would be better to cut the paper down slightly so it doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the tile. This might be a useful technique especially since the tiles tend to be rounded on the edges. This means to get the paper to be ‘flush’ to the tile you essentially have to build the tile up with MP over time, covering the sides over and over again and waiting at least 15 minutes between drying sessions. On each go round you want to make sure you are using even coats of MP and don’t let anything (like all the free floating glitter in your craft room) accidently fall into it!

That is technically the only really intense step. After the tile dries (when it is no longer tacky to touch) you can spray it with the enamel. Glossy enamel will take a good deal of time to dry. The longer you let it dry, the better. In my house I have a built-in app timer called my husband who likes to sit there and remind me not to touch things that are drying with glossy enamel paint on them. If you don’t have this built-in appliance, you might want to look into downloading it.

Overall, this is a pretty easy craft as long as you don’t mind walking away from it and then re-starting throughout the day. MY next step was to take a little ugly table that my husband made from odds and ends (back when he was living in a single dirty room in the mountains, just waiting for the right woman to come along and clean up after him) sand it, paint it and give it a funky ceramic table top!

Behold ugly little table!

Much had to be done to this little table including the sanding and painting. I also had to cut and add molding that hid the plywood sides, and created a tray-like table top that defined a natural stop for the grout. Next time I will ask my husband to make an ugly little square table!

Grouting down the ceramic tiles was the part I was most worried about, as I wasn’t sure how well the MP and enamel would hold up to grout. But in the end it worked pretty well.

I recently pulled up our bathroom tile, which was just a lovely shade of baby poop blue in teeny tiny tiles that were prone to coming loose. I refinished the bathroom with large beige tiles, so I already had all of the stuff needed to complete this project.

In case you want to take the project this far you will need:
• Sponges.
• Thin set mortar and grout (you can buy both grout and thin set mortar, pre-
mixed, in smaller amounts in buckets it runs around $20).
• Grout laying tool.

I had to go through MANY lessons on tile laying from my built-in app (aka, husband). Lucky for me, when it comes to little table-like crafts like this project, he is a lot less anal and therefore it is a lot less complicated.

First, you layer thin set mortar on the top making sure to spread it evenly. Then you stick the tiles down however you want. I ended up cutting tiles to make corner pieces, and looking back event that wasn’t enough. I should have resigned myself to cutting more pieces to make the grout lines smaller but I had already ‘made’ the tiles and didn’t know how well they would cut with the paper, mp, and enamel. In the end I have really big grout lines that I had to sink glass into to give the grout something to adhere to because if the grout line is too big the grout will crumble and crack and oh dear god why do I know this?

The pieces I cut I did in the garage with a power toll BUT if you don’t have or aren’t comfortable doing that then mark up your pieces and take them back to the hardware store you bought them from, typically they will have a ceramic tile cutting machine and staff that can cut for you. Let the thin set and tiles cure for 24 hours and then grout the tiles with the grouting tool. Then use the sponge and clean the excess grout off of the tiles. Let it set for another 24 hours before you begin using it.

So there you have it. You can use this cute ceramic tile idea as coasters or you can use them as beautiful pieces for larger projects!

Out on the back porch!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Birthing Experience: 1st part of the upcoming series

You may have noticed P&P's last post was by my dear friend, Natalie (aka Zombie), who will be guest blogging with me. She is absolutely correct that with my pregnancy, I've become crazy about crafting. However, I must admit that I used to be a crazy crafter in my youth, even working at a quilting fabric store, a Michaels Store, and a Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts. And I'm not ashamed.

Or not that ashamed.

In addition to bringing you "How To" posts on fun crafts or reviews of children's toys/books/music, she and I will be starting a series on the birthing experience. I recently completed a prepared birth class, which gave me a lot of information, and I am eager to share the information from my prepared birth class with her actual experience. This series will lead up to my actual delivery.

The point of the series is to share and discuss how pregnancy and birth affects women differently. I would like to note that mothers of multiple births have told me that every pregnancy and birth is a different experience, so this exercise is not a comparison. There is no right way to handle pregnancy or delivery. We hope this is an interesting perspective on how vastly different this whole process can be! 

Following this week's class, I am now very excited to deliver and meet my baby in person. First, I don't think I do pregnancy well. While living in DC years ago, I remember seeing this beautiful woman in a short black dress and extreme high heels standing in front of me on the Metro escalator at the DuPont stop. She was with her husband and I could hear them talking about their date night plans. As she disembarked from the escalator, she turned, revealing this massive pregnant belly, which shocked me because no part of the rest of her looked pregnant. I thought and hoped I would be as sophisticated and stunning in my pregnancy.

Photo courtesy of stylishandtrendy.com
 My feet are so swollen I can't even dream of being in kitten heels. :(

Also, I whine a lot about my pregnancy. This baby needs to be born just to shut me up.

Second, there is a lot of unknown about the pain attached to labor and delivery. It's normal to be freaked out about pushing a bowling ball out of a vag. The class reinforced how difficult it is; however, the class reminded me that a baby will happen and there are many ways to manage the pain (even if you don't want to use medication). The instructor never let a moment pass without reminding expectant mothers that we have the deep instinctive energy and power to deliver a baby. It gave me a strong earth mother vibe.

She-Ra courtesy of One Hundred Days of Happy

Oh yeah. I'm going to be She-Ra in the delivery room! (Or not. Natalie has told me, "There are no heroes in the delivery room.") Granted, She-Ra is no earth mother but you get my drift. . .

Even if I'm not She-Ra, I will be stylish. I share the following with you.

Pretty Pushers (c) disposable delivery gown. 

Prettypushers.com has beautiful, easy-to-access gowns to modernize (or at least beautify) the delivery experience. The gowns retail for $28-22 and are disposable after use. You can purchase gowns directly from Pretty Pushers or via amazon.com. Styles include I dream of Mai Tais (the one I am getting), I dream of coffee, and I dream of sushi.

Sophie Gownie (c), by Baby Be Mine Maternity.
Baby Be Mine offers a hospital gown for that postpartum hospital recovery period. Continue to feel comfortable and beautiful while getting that much needed rest and check ups at the hospital. Easy back closures and a front flap that allows for quick breastfeeding access.  Retailing for $30-$50, you can order online from Baby Be Mine or Amazon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How To: Bottle Brush Trees

Hi, I am Sara's friend Zombie (Natalie). If you know Sara then there are things you *know* about her personality…she likes to bite, she is a writer, and she is loyal to her collection of odds and ends friends. These things are intrinsic to her individuality and they shine through, or leave teeth marks, the first time you meet her. I am more than happy to be one of those friends she picked up along the way, like a particularly persistent STD, and she has been unable to shake me. Think of me as the herpes of friendship. Of course herpes is more than appropriate since I love to craft with glitter and every crafter knows glitter is the herpes of the craft room; once you have it, it never goes away. And fittingly glitter is exactly what Sara has invited me to talk about today!


Like Sara there are some things about me that you would learn within 15 minutes of meeting me; I LOVE Christmas (the holiday not the religion stuff) and the ‘retro’ ascetic, I have a two, almost three, year old, I have no artistic abilities and I LOVE glitter and crafting. You can see how all of these things might converge to create one very big, sticky, messy glittery two year old who snuck in to the ‘craft room’. That rarely happens anymore and even better it turns out you don’t need ANY artistic ability to do crafts…you just need some crafters glue and glitter and an unexplainable drive to make things shiny.

So today we are going to do just that! Our craft today? Wonderful Christmas glitter bombs of spectacular that you can hold in the palm of your hands…or you can just call this craft retro bottle brush trees. Bottle brush trees are the sort of stiff looking miniature trees you often see attached to putz houses or set up in groups of a dozen or so to create cute little vintagy scenes. If you find
one at a boutique or department store they often go for between 10 and 20 dollars a pop depending on size. I am here to tell you how you can accomplish the same look without breaking the bank!


First things first you’re gonna need a few things:
  • Crafters glue (the stuff in the gold bottle that your mom used to glue the glitter on to your Halloween costumes while she drank her gin and tonic)
  • Glitter (more on this later)
  • El cheapo little kid paint brushes
  • Bleach
  • Different size containers
  • Dye (tye dye kits or RIT dye from a craft store work well)
  • Sisal trees
  • Mardi gras beads
  • Scissors, towels, tongs, paper plates for clean up and glitter containment

Sisal trees are the sort of dark fake looking trees you can find at a craft or hobby store. You can typically get a pack of 12 for under 5 dollars depending on size. These trees are cool all on their own but you can give them a little more awesome just by doing a few simple things, and believe me if I can do this it must be simple.


First you need to bleach the trees. Just pour that bleach into a container big enough to immerse your whole tree (do as many as you want at once it doesn’t seem to change bleaching times) In just a few minutes you’ll see your tree losing color. Of course the longer you leave it in the whiter the tree will be and if you plan on doing white trees you might want to consider leaving the trees in for about a half an hour. Rinse the trees in some cold soapy water and let them air dry.


This is the perfect time to mix a drink, glitter crafts are always more fun when you are three sheets to the wind, they look better too.

Now it is time to dye your trees! I personally think RIT dye is slightly easier to use since you can buy it sans kit unlike tye dye. Your local craft store will have an aisle with t shirt making crap, applicaques, shirts, fabric pens etc. You can normally find RIT dye down this aisle. It comes in both a powdered form and liquid. I prefer the powdered because it is cheaper but if you married well or didn’t go into non-profit work then go for the stuff you don’t have to mix.

Put some water in a pot, put pot on stove, and turn on stove top to a simmer. Shake or squirt some dye into pot. That’s about it. Don’t bother asking how much, just eye it. Remember to be careful or wear gloves because RIT dye is a fabric dye and if you get it on your hands it will stain. If it does get on your hands and you don’t want to go with the smurf look wash immediately in cold water.


Dunk your trees in the dye. The longer you leave them in the deeper the color will be. If you like monochromatic groupings then do multiple trees in the same color for various lengths of time. Have a towel and an extraction device set up. I just use tongs and grab the suckers out and place them on the dish towel which of course will end up tye dyed so try not to use on of the heirloom dishtowels your great grandmother knitted together from pieces of lace.



Let these suckers dry for awhile… again a good time to get more to drink. In fact it would probably be best to get kersnookred because you might need to let the trees dry over night.
Once you are up and over your hangover I KNOW the first thing on your mind will be your forest of colorful trees awaiting their first snowfall.

Put some of your craft glue on a paper plate. Take your mardi gras beads and cut them apart. Dip a bead into the crafters glue and then nestle it in to your tree. Do this as much or as little as you like. When you get larger trees, like the twelve inch ones, you might want to consider using real ornaments that come in smaller sizes, or you can skip this step all together if you don’t want any ornament bling on your trees (fricken decorating novice).

Now you are ready for snow and by snow I mean “finally we are to the glitter part”. Glitter can mean many things. Take a trip down the glitter aisle at your craft store to see what I mean. You have all types of colors, sizes, price points etc. I have more than a few sitting around my "craft room" to choose from.

I have searched high and low for the type of glitter that they originally used in putz and bottle brush houses; unfortunately, glitter was mostly made from metal shavings back in the day while today it is mostly plastic. This means those special glitter flakes just aren’t around anymore. You can find things that look similar, or you can just go with white crystal-like glitter to simulate snow or get glitter with colors (I like Martha Stewarts’ glitter line, though I realize not everyone wants to drop $36 on a colorful set of glitters). You can also pay a little more and get glitters that are still made from different kinds of metals that will tarnish over the years, giving your trees a real honest to goodness vintage look. I use a combination of all above.

I normally put a paper plate down and apply glitter over the plate so it doesn’t go EVERYWHERE.

Use your brush to paint some crafters glue on to your tree. Shake as much or little glitter on to your tree as you like. Seriously that’s it. All this build up to the glitter and that’s all I got. Now just stand your tree up and let ‘er dry. When she is dry she will be stiffer to the touch than before. You may also want to shake her a little get any left over glitter out. (Which is what you have to do to Ke$ha every morning too. Ha.)

So there you have it, cute little bottle brush trees. If you want to embellish with snow clumps there are bottles of a thick paste like substance that you can buy and flick on to the trees in small amounts. For trees in the 6 inch and under size range though your glitter snow fall should be more than enough. You can essentially do 24 or more of these trees for around $10, the price of just one in a high fultuin’ fancy store.

A note about originality: I have none. I learned this craft from other crafters over time, with many different websites’ input.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's in your belly?

Yesterday, I received an email from my cousin in regards to my upcoming baby shower. It read:

BTW – I have always told R & M that babies come from God and that you go to the hospital to get them (like a special delivery!)  So if they ask you about your belly … please go along w/ my easy breezy explanation as much as possible.

Not me. Obviously. The hilarious Tina Fey.

My immediate response was to tell her we would direct any questions from her children to her or her husband. While I still think that is my best response, I started to develop other concerns as I talked about it with Panda. 

First, we're worried that we are being asked to lie about what is inside my belly. We definitely do not want to deny that a baby is in there. We believe that saying there is a baby in my belly is not in violation of my cousin's wishes. At least, we hope. We will still direct the children back to their parents, should their questions persist. 

Second, I developed (perhaps a slightly irrational) pregnancy anger. I feel a little silly about this, but I was/am upset that she is trying to change the tone of my baby shower. It's about my baby! A part of me thinks that if she can't talk to her children about the reality of a baby inside me, than she shouldn't bring them to the shower.

This is just the beginning of juggling other parents and how we should talk about bigger issues with our own children. My cousin's explanation is not one I would give to my child, and yet it's not wrong and completely her right to raise her children in the best way she knows how. 

Okay. Fine. But does this juggling have to start at my shower?

(I promise my next post will be on a lighter, less whiny note.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sometimes, crazy

Elissa dress by Tina Mak
I am planning two weddings. That's right. You read: two weddings.

If I had been smart...oh, if only I had been smart!...I would have planned one wedding and donned the beautiful maternity dress above.

But no. I am having a small, private courthouse wedding in a week. Then, at a date unknown, some larger crazier function with all of my family and friends. Both events will be amazing and awesome.

I just feel silly. Indulgent. Stressed. Crazy.

More of those lovely maternity dresses can be found at Tina Mak's site.

If I could do it all over, I would plan one large wedding no matter how pregnant I was!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Kitty boy

Skippyjon Jones (1st book) by Judy Schachner
I have loved this book since its publication in 2003. I picked up a copy while working at the toy store. Now I read it to baby and sometimes also my own kitties, Percy and Marie.

It's one of the most fun, sometimes challenging, read aloud books to read to children. In 2004 it won the first annual E.B. White Read Aloud Award.

I've read this book to kids as young as 3 and as old as 10. They all crack up, especially when the reader has difficulty with Skippy's language! He thinks he is a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua, but he has no Spanish speaking skills. He transforms his language using his imagination. This causes tongue twisters similar to my other favorite author, Dr. Seuss

My own kitty boy, Percy, in his dream world as he wraps himself in Christmas paper

Friday, July 1, 2011

Second Trimester Euphoria

As I wallowed in my pregnancy sickness during the first trimester, my baby was growing normally (as far as I knew) and parasitically in my womb. Yet, I couldn't see beyond the fog.

Until two wonderful things happened.

Panda and I went for our second trimester ultrasound and were able to see all of our baby's wonderful body parts. We also learned the gender - it's a boy! Seeing him larger than a lentil, well-developed, and very active relieved me like nothing else could.

I was able to attach personality to him. Calling the baby "him" instead of as "it" or "baby" was the first best change. Additionally, we could talk about names more specifically. I could start planning his room and books for his bookshelf!

The ultrasound changed me in many ways, but it was also a mommy friend (sadly, long-distance) who gave me perspective that allowed me to start to really enjoy and savor this pregnancy. She wrote to ask if I was experiencing second trimester euphoria yet?

I was still sick and starting to feel more uncomfortable at night, losing the ability to sleep in my favorite position, on my back. So, I asked her what this imaginary euphoria was?

She replied: I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but enjoy the pregnancy. I know you are tired as it is, and I don't mean to scare you, but the first six months after the baby are born are really hard!

Coupled with my good feelings post-ultrasound, I let her words sink into me. I realized that this was the last time ever in my life that I would be simply me. From now until my last breath, I will be a mother, a title that brings both joy and fear, expectation and doubt, responsibility and gravity.

After baby I would have to share Panda's attention with that of our child, too.

While I was ready for this change, and even more convinced that we would be a good family, I needed to enjoy this time. The me time, the two of us time, the before time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Are You Still In There?

During the first trimester, it's common for women to wonder if their pregnancy is still viable. This is the period of highest risk, when most pregnancies fail. Despite being told by my OB during my second appointment that my chance of miscarriage was less than 5%, I was still nervous and convinced I wasn't pregnant. (Holding onto that latent fear of a terminal disease.)

It was a lonely period, buoyed only by my fiance (henceforth "Panda") and the only friend I had confided in, Zombie. Our friendship goes back many years, to our crazy days in Washington, D.C., working for a boutique children's toy and book store. Now, she is mother to an adorable 2 1/2 year old daughter, Baby Z.

Zombie and I spoke daily via email and text. She immediately sent me a pregnancy guide book, baby's first toy, a link to a pregnancy calendar, and a list of infant must-haves.

She also told me that what I was feeling was completely normal. Her friendship kept me partially sane during those first three months.

At my third OB appointment, we heard the baby's heartbeat again and I was out of the first trimester. I had to promise Panda I would stop freaking out about losing the pregnancy. Then, we shared the good news with our parents and families.

Of course, revealing our pregnancy launched its own series of questions and concerns...

And now, proof that Aliens is all about motherhood --

Monday, April 18, 2011

First Trimester Blues

How does the confirmation of pregnancy change how it feels in my body? During the first eight weeks, I had little indication of my pregnancy. Some tiredness, some aching in my breast and stomach, as though I had cramps, yet nothing extreme as other women had mentioned (the dreaded morning sickness).

A day after my OB confirmed my pregnancy and administered the first ultrasound, I started developing nausea.

This is how I imagined it --

Body to brain, "So, now you know?"
Brain, "Yes. We're very excited. Can't you tell?"
Body, "Oh yeah. There's a lot we're feeling. Now you will to. Hahahahaha (evil laugh)."

The nausea was crippling. Barely able to function, I missed work and had to tell my supervisors before I was ready to tell my family. By the time of my second OB appointment, I had tried every home remedy, including ginger, crackers, seabands, peppermint, and meditation.

This is how I felt.  Photo credit: www.slschofield.com.

My OB prescribed me anti-nausea medication, so I could function again. Prior to my pregnancy, my OB was just OK. Post-pregnancy, she was glowing.

I was glad one of us was.

"I love babies," she said. "After 10 years of doing this, I still love bringing babies into the world." Well, that's great. I would hate if my OB despised her job. I've found OBs to be the nosiest doctors. That's not a complaint. Over the years, they've been the only ones who have asked me about my stress levels in addition to my sex life. Pregnancy was no different.

She wanted a lot of details about my partner, which made me worry about how comfortable it would be to be a teen mom or an unwed mother. After being ill, being depressed and moody, and being scared as a result of the pregnancy, I have a lot of respect for women who are pregnant and parent on their own.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pregphobic and Pregnant: Part 2

By 2010, my pregphobia receded to a distant memory, something to laugh at. By that point, my sister had two young sons, and I had several friends who had adorable children. They all survived their alien invasion and turned out to be mostly normal again.

I also met and fell in love with wonderful, caring, and generous man in Chicago, IL. He proposed on Valentine's Day.

Despite my fear of pregnancy, I loved children. I always smiled at infants and kids whenever I passed them in stores or on the street. Being an auntie was a favorite activity of mine. So I knew I wanted children, and I knew my fiance would be a wonderful father. Shortly after he proposed, we discussed babies.

I was worried that my age and my family's history of fertility issues may create some issues for us in starting our family. We decided to start trying and leave the creation of life up to fate.

That was February.

By March, my fiance realized I was pregnant. I thought my excessive sleepiness was cancer. (I have a touch of hypochondria, too.)

He was right.

My reaction? Great! And uh oh. I was facing my own John Hurt Moment!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pregphobic and Pregnant: Part 1

My pregphobia hit its height in the spring of 2006. I was living in New York City, hustling through life as a grad student (creative writing, need I say more?), a fundraising associate, and heavy drinker. My life consisted of: booze, books, friends, and boys, in that order. Obviously, not the time in life to be considering parenthood. Thankfully, that wasn't an issue for me, but it didn't mean I couldn't be frightened of it.

Pregphobia, as defined by my friend Janice -- a type of anxiety disorder, defined as a persistent fear of pregnancy or pregnant people.

That spring every woman in NYC was pregnant. Or seemingly so. I saw them everywhere with their bubbled stomachs. I remember a particular day when I was at the corner of Broadway and 6th Avenue with three pregnant ladies all in tight black dresses that emphasized their protrusions and another was crossing the street towards us. It was claustrophobic. They were swarming me like insects! Suddenly sweaty and woozy, I bolted from the corner and dashed for home.

To say I have mother issues is an understatement. Though in my defense, I think a lot of sane women fear the "John Hurt Moment". Let's face it, there is something alien about pregnancy...