family, gratitude, meditation, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC

good things

It’s Friday night before a three-day weekend, yes!! And it’s been gorgeous, supernaturally summery, glowing, blue-sky weather, perfectly in the 70s. My nose is running on one side due to allergies from all the blooms and blossoms, including little pink flowers on the plum trees in front of my building. We had a storm come through last weekend, and the much-needed rain seems to have triggered expansive green lawns and the beginning of spring. I ended work early today and sat in the Botanical Gardens with J and K and babies E, M, and M while the low sun slid behind the trees and the babies shook their rattles and ate leaves when we weren’t looking.

I just got a text from my neighbor that Obama is dining at Spruce, a restaurant one block down the street from me, right now. What a crazy idea! Here I sit in my regular ol’ quiet apartment, as I do each night after E is asleep, and suddenly I’m in proximity to the President. Makes this moment seem rather extra-important. Hold on, I’m going to look out the window for Secret Service… Wow, the street is closed off in front of the restaurant and lots of vehicles out front. Makes me nostalgic for my many nights watching The West Wing while prego.

Today I watched a video of the woman in North Carolina who won $500+ million in the lottery yesterday. She’s 26 years old, with four kids, one of whom has cerebral palsy. She most recently worked at McDonald’s and Walmart and quit to take care of her kids–she seems to be a single mom. The reporter kept asking her about what she’s going to buy first–don’t you want a house, a car? And she was so contained. She just said, yes, she’ll get those things, but this is all for her kids, her family, which had been such a source of struggle for her. But all worth it. She wouldn’t change a thing–those kids are a blessing, she said.

This struck me for so many reasons. First, it dawns on me that even $500M doesn’t solve all your problems. If you weren’t grateful before, you’re not going to be grateful after (and she seemed authentically grateful). On top of that, now you have stresses about how to spend all that money, and people angling to get some of it. Which led me to my next realization, which I’ve had so many times before: you never “get there.” You never achieve that perfect equilibrium in all things that allows you to take a break and rest and be done. Even if that’s the directional goal, people only get there for probably a matter of a few minutes at a time. As they absorb the good news. Or as they reach a place of peace in meditation.

So we’re back to appreciating what we’ve got. MAN, I’m a one hit wonder on this. It’s like every single time I get reflective and have a meaningful realization, it’s the same one. We have to manually put the spotlight on the positive because there are always many, many, many things going right.

I have a work colleague who is also a facebook friend and she’s spending time cataloging “Good Things.” For example, this flowering bush she passed on the way to work. Or a roaring fire in the fireplace. She said that this project makes her walk around looking for “Good Things.” Why not?

The best thing to happen this past week is that I got E to sleep in his crib. He’s been co-sleeping with me since birth, and napping in the bed. Now that he’s crawling, I was trying to monitor him more carefully when I wasn’t in the room with him, but counting on the fact that he’d cry when he woke up. Well, he stopped crying upon waking and on Saturday I found him standing at the foot of the bed next to the gap where there is no side rail, holding onto the crib at the foot of the bed. Basically looming directly above the space where he could fall. I had put my mattress on the floor but it’s still over a foot off the ground. So, I thought, no more. No more naps in the bed.

But the next day I decided to try just one more time (because I needed to get a few things done) and I’d be really on top of it. And this time, he found a gap that had appeared between the bed and the wall and got himself wedged–I heard the thump (because I was right on the other side of the wall) and ran in, and he was fine but that was the last straw. Time to face some version of dreaded sleep training. Just so he will sleep in the crib when I’m not around (we continue to co-sleep after his first waking for the rest of the night).

Before having a baby, I thought I would be hard core–baby, get on my program! Sink or swim! But once he was here, it killed me to think of him crying, believing I was gone forever, giving up on me. I’ve been co-sleeping because it works for us both, but what is a mom to do when the baby is unsafe sleeping alone outside the crib, yet wakes up the second he’s put into it? I can’t be going to bed at 7 and taking every nap with him. For his safety, he has to go to sleep in his crib. (Also it will really help me get away in the evening once in a while to know he will go down easily.)

So, I came up with my own “crib training” routine and that little rascal was the perfect student. I’ve been really careful to maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Bath, diaper, massage, PJ’s, book, nurse. The first night, I set him in the crib and he was unhappy. I laid down on the bed next to the crib and reassured him, rubbed his back, sang, said shhhh. He was up and down, crying and quiet, frustrated, playing, reaching for me and saying, “MOM,” “MOM.” I was inches away from him and calm. I would guess it was 45 minutes by the time he finally flopped down and went to sleep.

The next night, it was 15 minutes with minimal crying. The next night, 5 minutes. Tonight–he was asleep when I set him down. He cried out once and was out again. Even his mid-evening wake-ups now involve like one or two cries and then he’s back to sleep. I think he feels more secure in there.

This is freaking unbelievable. I dreaded this process for so long and he just rolled with it like a champ. That first night was not easy but it also wasn’t the type of revving up that results in the child getting dangerously upset. I could tell he was reacting to the change, but he was still winding down. I feel so relieved that it wasn’t as bad as I had feared and also relieved that he is safe in there.

In the car, when I turn around to check on him in the mirror, his face goes from spaced-out to recognition to a huge smile that spreads across his face. Which of course makes me duplicate the action like ten times.

Tonight, every bite of food (black beans, spinach/broccoli/pear purée, and pasta with kale-walnut pesto) got a literal round of applause. There’s a mirror perfectly placed so that if we turn to the side, we can wave at our reflections. So we do.

I love watching this baby grow in slow-mo, beginning to babble-talk, making connections and anticipating things he knows (like when I say, “giddyup, giddyup, giddyup, giddyup,” I’m about to say, “WHOA” and turn him upside down). He points at everything. He wants to touch it and put it in his mouth, no matter what. He does “dancey-dancey” when he sees Mimi and Chacha on facetime. He smacks his hands on the hardwood floor when he crawls–I can always hear when he’s on the move.

I mean–I don’t have $500M. And our little two-person family doesn’t include a dad. And my job has its share of stress. But being a mom to E is just beyond words. The friends I’ve made, the rediscovery of the city I love most, the huge exponential love of my family… It’s nuts.

And we’re not done. We’ve got plenty of ups and downs ahead and I’ll keep re-realizing the importance of appreciating everything that’s happening right now. (And capturing some of the details here to remember later on.)

Warm night air through the open window. Sleeping baby in the crib. ‘Night, Obama.

piano

family, gratitude, meditation, single mom by choice

me time

You guys! Merry Christmas!

It’s been almost a month of no posts as I’ve been adjusting to my new working mama schedule and wow is it hard to make time for Me activities like writing for my blog! In 2015, my goal is to find and fiercely protect those slivers of time where I could be writing, reading, meditating, stretching, playing music, and maybe (gasp!) exercising. All of the above is currently totally out the window. I have to pat myself on the back for getting the basics down–sleep, meals, pick-up and drop-off, and my job. And the baby is doing awesome in all respects. But I’m pretty shocked on a daily basis by my lack of personal hygiene. Showers are less frequent. My hair is dull and frizzy since all the pregnancy hormones left my system months ago (at least it’s stopped falling out in clumps). My muscles ache from lack of use. I shower less frequently than I should, my outfits sort-of/almost fit (but not quite), I keep getting pimples on my chin. And there’s that poochy belly that will require the “Lose Your Mummy Tummy” exercises that I have neither the time nor the inclination to actually do.

SOOO, yes, this is all leading up to some new year’s resolutions that I haven’t yet defined but am thinking about a lot. Time definitely takes on new meaning as a parent, but especially as a solo parent. As E starts to pull himself up and scoot and roll, my moments of ‘getting stuff done’ are even fewer and further between. I identified months ago the necessity of being ready when 5 minutes present themselves–what needs to get done right now? GO!

I know that, ultimately, E is better off if I get to do at least some of my Me activities but wow yeah, I now understand the guilt that comes from working full-time and then trying to justify additional time away. But work is not enough to achieve balance. On the bus ride to work I’m prepping for meetings and on the bus home I’m completely burned out and staring at god knows what on my phone. I’ve been falling asleep with the baby at 7pm which might sound good but I actually think my body needs exercise to regulate work stress and require less sleep. I’ve gotten a handful of runs in when the nanny or my sister or parents are around. And recently my sister stayed with E on a Friday evening (he slept the entire time) while I drove over to my friend C’s to catch up and drink wine for an hour and a half while her baby slept in the other room. Driving across the city on a Friday night with the radio volume turned up high felt like old times in the best way. It felt like we beat the system. More of this, please!

E is totally rocking it. Just in the last few days, he’s started to pull himself up in that compulsive way of a baby who can do a new thing, i.e. lunging at and using anything within or slightly out of reach to get himself to a standing position. He is totally thrilled beyond belief each time he finds himself standing, waving one arm, doing knee bends, and smiling with his mouth open. I took him to a very noisy, musical, and stimulating holiday party and he was jabbering about it gleefully the whole way home. He’s a happy and social and cuddly guy.

He enjoyed Christmas with Mimi and Chacha, Aunt B, and Neighbor L! It was a mellow day with a super-delicious meal (he licked a green bean and crunched on some pie crust), just a couple of fun new toys, three naps instead of two, and lots of play time and babababa and mamamama and gagagaga storytelling. Sometimes, when he is truly making a request of me or is in some level of distress, he says, “MOM. MOM.” I don’t think he knows yet what (or who) it means but I do think it will segue into the real meaning seamlessly, because he already uses it in context.

We are so fortunate to have truly solid family and friend support. I think in my mind I’m always gearing up for when everyone is done helping and goes home and we’re on our own forever. But I’m starting to believe that won’t happen!  They keep coming back for more baby E! Thank you!!

I hope you had a lovely day with friends and fam! xo

xmas5

Buddhism, family, gratitude, IVF, meditation, parenthood

6 months

Today at brunch, while holding Baby E, my friend Ms. R. looked at me and said, “Look at this beautiful baby. Do you remember when we first met??” And it was one of those moments that felt like jumping into a chilly lake–I was suddenly wide awake, and looking at my friend holding my beautiful boy, remembering how three years ago Ms. R. and I met for brunch and got teary over our scrambles as we discussed our plans to become single moms. And, in that moment today, it was like we had just fast-forwarded through three years of struggle, torment, pain, joy, and now a miracle, and we were teary again.

On some level, you can’t really believe it’s real. I remember looking at other people’s babies and thinking how proud the mom must be of every square inch of their bodies. But now that I’m a mom I really feel more like all I did was align with the universe somehow and nature did the rest. Which is weird to say, considering the extent of artificial procedures that went into the IVF process, but still–sperm meets egg and a person begins. The plan is locked into place from that moment and then you’re off and running.

So, as a parent, I am awestruck whenever I get more than two feet away from E and really take him in. He’s just miraculous. It’s completely overwhelming. I can’t believe that there’s a 6-month-old sleeping in my bed who is barreling toward becoming a man.

Wow, even writing that makes me reel a little bit.

At the six-month mark, we are going through all kinds of transitions. We’re getting used to our routine minus my parents, which means he’s spending all day with the nanny and I’m doing my own cooking and laundry and cleaning up and so far the household is running pretty smoothly but it’s really only been a few days. A half day of child care yesterday set me way ahead–I made lentil soup and pesto, froze turkey burgers, cleaned the house, did laundry, etc etc.

E definitely has the bottle mastered. Now we’re trying to introduce solid food (and by we I mean me) and he is pretty much nonplussed. It’s shocking how disinterested he is in food when every other thing I put in front of him goes straight into his mouth (including things that shouldn’t, like paper–he ate a little piece off our name card at Thanksgiving). He is studiously disinterested, meaning that he glares at the food and then purposely diverts his attention to something else nearby, like a drawer handle. I’ve put many foods in front of him, including sweet potato, yogurt, banana, avocado, eggs, chicken… Once he licked a little strip of pizza. This morning he opened his mouth exactly twice to let me give him a teeny forkful of hummus. Overall, I’m trying to do baby-led weaning but I’ve also wanted to feed him a taste to jump-start the process (seems to have done the opposite). We’ll see what happens next but, again–the guy is a strong consumer of breast milk so I’m not worried yet about his nutrition. I absolutely expected a lumberjack appetite out of this guy after months of him watching me eat with strong interest. But I guess this will just take time so another lesson in patience for me.

Sleep is another changing terrain. For months we’ve had a bedtime routine of bath (every other night), massage, jammies, book (if he still has attention span), then nurse to sleep. This worked like a charm starting at 4 months when he suddenly wouldn’t be rocked or bounced to sleep and set down. I had mild guilt about it since it’s supposedly a bad sleep association or crutch–but it worked and I’m a firm believer in ‘whatever works.’ But now it’s taking longer and longer for him to fall deeply asleep enough to let me go. It can take up to an hour of me unlatching and him insisting on relatching and even when I finally tiptoe away he will often wake up again 30 minutes later, and maybe again after that. Here’s the thing–I thought I’d be the no-nonsense single mom who says, Baby! You need to get on my program. And my program says you’re asleep at 7pm because mom needs her evening to relax and prep for tomorrow! So don’t get ideas about a protracted bedtime routine or me laying down with you for the night at 7pm! Etc.

Of course, way easier said than done, and I have mostly felt change-averse about making any adjustments. So we rode with that plan while it worked. And…now it’s not really working. So, I’m thinking a lot about sleep and trying to shut out all the ‘camps,’ because no matter what you do there’s a camp that thinks you’re a horrible parent. For now, though, I just may be going to bed at 7pm more often in the coming days–twist my arm!

The house is quiet and clean and I just had a piece of sweet potato pie. All of a sudden, it started pouring rain, like the heavens just turned on a shower with excellent water pressure. The baby hasn’t woken up tonight since I put him down, although I hear him yawning and cooing in his sleep. A bird randomly chirps, letting its friends or babies know where to seek shelter from the rain.

There’s so much we could all worry about all the time. We don’t know how it’s all going to turn out or how we’ll get from point A to point B or how to solve problems of baby transitions or how to achieve work/life balance or how to pay for everything or how to find a dream job or partner. But we can ask ourselves, “Am I OK right now?”

Right now I’m so grateful for all of the above (and below!).

xo

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family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC

a slight delay

So when I got up this morning I had two voicemails from UCSF letting me know that they needed to postpone my arrival because all the laboring rooms were full and I should call back at noon.

That felt great–I requested an omelet and sausages from my dad, drank a Recharge, did an hour or so of pumping (just in case), and went back to bed for a couple of hours.

When I called at noon, they told me to come in at 8pm tonight. Whoa!

So now we have the whole day, which honestly feels like another gift. It felt jarring to go from trying trying trying to get labor started yesterday to packing for the hospital. Now I’m catching up with myself. And, given that today is my last day for a legal midwife-attended homebirth (in CA it cuts off at 42 weeks, which is tomorrow), it’s nice that I won’t have to wonder what might have happened if I had just waited. The birth tub still stands at the ready in case something crazy happens.

This timing means that maybe we can get a decent night of sleep during the first phase. My mom will stay on the pull-out couch, and my doula and midwife will join whenever I need them, probably tomorrow morning.

This moving starting line is quite the mental trip! When I think about the road that got me here it just seems so surreal that the culmination of the whole experience, my baby’s birth day, just keeps getting pushed out–he is now bordering on the cusp of Taurus and I never considered that his birthday could or would be as late as 5/18 or even 19! Or that my parents would be here 2.5 weeks before his arrival, or that my blog would receive its all-time highest number of hits, or that he would not already be a weeks-old baby upsetting the quiet of my apartment by now. He seems perfectly happy in there although sometimes it feels like he’s rapping on my belly saying, “Hey, help me out!”

Today, we will eat, walk, do yoga, meditate, consider any last items to pick up. Have a nice dinner and enjoy the breezy, cool fresh air.

And then it will be time to have a baby, right universe? 🙂 (Meanwhile, OK to pause on lighting those candles!)

I forgot to tell you this yesterday: I’ve been pulling Goddess cards each night for both me and the baby. Two nights ago, I pulled the following cards, which are now added to the birth shrine:

For me: Aine–Leap of Faith. “Take a risk, and put your heart’s true desire into action!” Message from Aine: “Procrastinating about your dreams won’t make them go away. Neither will it make them happen. Indecision is the death of the soul’s burning passion to improve, grow, and learn. Don’t worry about making a wrong decision. Instead, worry about making no decision at all! Then take time to pray, meditate, investigate, research, go on nature walks…and make your decision. Once made, the universal energies will immediately support your decision, and doors will successively open as if by magic. The magic, you see, is that you’ve set your mind to accomplish something. And this intention is what sets you on your magical journey. Trust that the universe will support you in all ways. Trust that your intention is clear and right for you. And then take a leap of faith and jump fully and squarelyinto the midst of putting your dreams into action. Don’t hesitate or delay a moment longer!”

For the baby: Cordelia–Go Outside. “You have been indoors too long. Go outside and get some fresh air.” Message from Cordelia: “Being cooped up is not the natural way for inhabitants of this exciting planet to live. Believe me, there’s plenty to see and experience when you exit your four walls and roof. A daily venture outside will not only revive your spirit and soul, it will give you hope and faith in this planet’s very existence and future. You’ll see all of the goodness that’s in store within nature: the flowers ready to unfurl, the leaves that are sprouting, the birds that hop about, and even the wind that affectionately caresses you. Don’t let another day go by without stepping outdoors into this most entertaining and exciting of environments!”

All is as it should be. xo

family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, Mother's Day, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

Happy Mother’s Day!

We started the day at UCSF for our first non-stress test to check on how the babe is doing. It was a little surreal to be in the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital after all the expectation that I’ll be doing this at home–felt very busy like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Everyone was very nice. Every single nurse and doctor I saw was a woman. They put me in such a tiny room that my parents had to wait in a (tiny) waiting room and it was really hot and I thought for a moment I might be too claustrophobic to stay in there. They strapped on the big belts and I heard the baby’s heartbeat for 20 minutes, as well as big static when he was moving, which was often. They came back and said his heartbeat was ‘perfect.’ Measured the amniotic fluid and it was a 9 (they want higher than 6). The doctor said his head is “massively down.” So, everything checked out and we were sent home. It felt great to get a good report. I have another appointment on Wednesday.

In the afternoon, we took a nice urban hike in the warm sun with a cool wind. We got a picnic’s worth of food at Bi-Rite and headed up to Alamo Square to lay around and eat and people watch. It was so relaxing and lovely. I am so BIG. The cashier at Bi-Rite said it looks like I’m “about to explode.” It’s nearly impossible to put on my shoes and makes me out of breath. When it was time to go home, I almost pulled down my dad who was trying to help me get up off the ground!

I’m sleepy after getting a no-sleep nap this afternoon because the baby was kicking so much. My mom suggested a bath which is such a fantastic idea so that’s where I’m headed.

But, first, I at least wanted to say, in a sleepy and probably inarticulate way, how much I love and appreciate my mom. WOW has she (and my dad) taken the bull by the horns in this baby-prep-mode and embraced the whole process of this waiting period. I am so lucky that my parents are here! I basically didn’t even get a card together this Mother’s Day, but I know that more importantly we are spending this exciting time together. Thank you, Mom, for all the nourishing mama cooking, for running and organizing the kitchen, for scrubbing the floors like Cinderella, for being game for any length of walk, for watching episodes of Call the Midwife while I weep over the births. And soon: for being here for my baby’s birth and all the help I’ll need afterward. I am so grateful.

Meanwhile, I must also acknowledge the equally enormous contributions of my dad, who is responsible for installing many fixtures, ordering and assembling needed items, getting the washer and dryer up the stairs and functioning, all kinds of chauffeuring and parking, omelets, Waldorf salads, expertly filling and emptying the birth tub, and more. Thank you, Dad!

Finally, without trying to be comprehensive because I’m excited to take a bath and then probably go to sleep, I am sending love and gratitude to all the mamas in my life–the SMCs, the homebirthers, those pregnant and trying to get pregnant, the dog-mamas and cat-mamas, the aunties, and those who just plain love and nurture their loved ones in a way that makes the world go round. Actually, I think that is comprehensive. I wish for all of this wonderful nurturing energy to be acknowledged and appreciated today. Love to you all.

I’ll go out with my 41 week belly shot and I know enough not to jinx it by saying it’s the last one. (Check out my amazing shadow.) I’ll be over here meditating and sleeping and buttering this baby up. xo

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acupuncture, anxiety, gratitude, meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

‘late’

Well, here we are 4 days past the due date and babes is still acting pretty comfortable in there.

First, I should say that all is well! I feel great. I’m sleeping and eating well, walking, swimming, doing yoga. These days are still precious gifts of mental/physical/material preparation. AND I’m still within the range of normal: first-time Caucasian moms on average go 8 days past their due date. As you know, I am both a first-time mom and Caucasian, and I always thought/knew we would go late. So I’m honestly not too surprised to be here.

On the day after my due date, I went over the protocol for the next two weeks with my midwife. It’s crazy how on 5/3 he would have been “early” and on 5/5 I was already “late” and walking through all the possible complications and interventions. Damn the arbitrary due date! Yet, I reminded myself that even though this baby will most likely be born on a normal and perfect timetable of his own creation, we did need to walk through what-ifs now that we know he won’t be early or precisely on time. (It should be noted that, as a rule, I am neither early nor precisely on time either.)

So–this week, nothing really changes. I keep resting, eating well, getting my heart rate up for an hour a day, drinking pregnancy tea, taking Mother’s Blend and black currant oil, relaxing. Not stressing. Doing kick counts and taking fetal love breaks.

Starting at 41 weeks (Sunday), I need to go in for non-stress tests at the hospital to make sure the baby is still thriving. They check the variability of the heartbeat and the level of amniotic fluid. This can lead to a thumbs up and come back in a few days, or, if the results are not optimal, a quick induction. If nothing happens by the end of next week, we’d try natural (castor oil) and then finally hospital (pitocin) methods of induction to ensure that I don’t go past 42 weeks. So that’s the roadmap.

It’s a relief to have the plan although tough to so quickly be thrust into the mindset of being ‘late.’ (Even though ‘normal.’) Again–being ‘early’ would have completely thrown me and made me feel unprepared, yet ‘late’ makes me feel a bit like an overripe piece of fruit. I have seen this so often from an outside perspective–the mom goes past her due date and is just done, over it, uncomfortable, and all-around cranky. I remember thinking (in that way that you know you don’t really understand because you haven’t experienced it), ‘Why is she so cranky? She knows the baby will come soon one way or another and all she has to do is relax and watch movies…’ In yoga, the teacher often asks whoever’s at 41 weeks if her phone is blowing up and she nods and rolls her eyes and the teacher gives her strategies for telling people to back off (like sending them to haveyouhadthatbabyyet.com).

I now have four days of insight into this genre of living with uncertainty and managing the expectations of the outside world. I have the huge bonus of not being uncomfortable which means my own reserves of patience are pretty full. And baby is doing all his kicks so I’m not overly worrying about his well-being. The anticipation is growing but the days feel peaceful and luxurious and lovely.

What stresses me out is my phone. Every time I look at it, there’s another text or email or voicemail. Now, you guys know me by now– I love hearing that people are thinking about me and sending good wishes. This is always welcome and I have many times been the one impatiently waiting for news on the other side, sending tentative “thinking of you” texts while trying to avoid any hint that I’m actually “checking in” (which I probably am). You really want to know that the mom and baby are OK and sometimes it gets unbearable to hear nothing. You start feeling like the ecstatic new mom may have forgotten to deploy the basic stats in a birth announcement and is now ensconced in a love cocoon that will prevent her from remembering her outside world and their burning need for information. And you want to know the name and see a photo and be assured that all is well. I know. I’ve been there, even in the past few weeks!

It’s the questions (“Do you have a baby yet?” “Sooooo?” My favorite from J, “When is he coming!!! We are all waiting for him!!!!’). And any expectation of me calling back. I know these are also fueled by love and good wishes, but I then have to convey a disappointing lack of news and speculate about something I can’t predict, which turns out to be stressful for me. Which I know is no one’s wish.

So, here goes me asking for what I need. I humbly ask of my beloved community to please send frequent love and good wishes and ‘thinking of you’ texts and voicemails and blog comments which will be code for ‘I’m dying for news over here and love you and the baby so much my heart may burst!’ and I promise to get the birth announcement posted on the blog as soon as my new mom life makes it possible.

I’ll be over here focusing on being rested, fueled, and stress-free, and also getting things rolling with daily acupuncture and meditation and walking and generally getting my head in the game. And having chats with Baby Boy about how exciting life is on the outside. (“Here’s your new bed, and here are your new clothes, and here’s your Mimi and Chacha, and here are the beautiful woods, and over there is the Golden Gate Bridge.” etc.)

One thing we all know for sure: he’ll be here soon. And I can’t wait to introduce you!!!

xoxoxo

acupuncture, anxiety, breech, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

turn, baby, turn

I had a directional ultrasound yesterday and confirmed that bébé is breech at 34 weeks. Eek!

He was head down at every other ultrasound, and even two weeks ago when Em checked me she felt his head in my pelvis. But on Thursday, Em couldn’t find his head–it seemed that baby boy felt the need to explore upward. Now I need to do everything in my power to get him to head back down.

My childhood friend V is visiting and came with me to the appt at UCSF yesterday, which was with a certified nurse midwife I’ve never seen before and I’m pretty sure the one most people don’t like. After giving my urine sample, she rushed me to the exam room, saying she had to hurry to make it to her own doctor’s appointment. (We had been 5 minutes late after missing the exit in Daly City.) She got me on the table, lubed me up with not-warm lube, and the very second she got the image on the monitor said, “the baby is breech.” So, not a lot of mysterious waiting. Then I watched a series of baby images fly by on the screen as she confirmed his position (including seeing his boy parts for the first time–cool), and then she said things like, “I strongly recommend not having a home birth with a breech baby.” (My understanding is that due to recent legislation, midwives are forbidden from assisting home births of breech babies, twins, and any baby being born outside of 37-42 weeks anyway, and I obviously wouldn’t do it unassisted.) Then she flew out.

Mostly I was annoyed that we didn’t get the chance to leisurely gaze at my baby on the monitor. I was pretty sure Em was right after the appointment the day before–I’d been getting a little obsessed over the previous week with figuring out the position of the baby, waking up at 3am and going to http://www.spinningbabies.com to work on belly mapping. But I just could not figure out what was what. Big kicks here, little flutters there, what the heck is this bump? Now I feel like my intuition was telling me something had changed.

I called Em, and she gave me a bunch of strategies for the coming days as we have 2-3 weeks to turn this situation around. After doing a bunch of googling, I can see that these are pretty universal:

  • Lie on an inverted ironing board against the couch with feet up and head down for 15 mins, twice a day. (I tried it this morning and it sucked. I googled further to find people complaining about it but found no complaints…maybe I did it wrong, but it was the same old discomfort of being on my back which cuts off circulation, plus not being able to breathe, plus feeling all my weigh pushing down on my neck, plus my tailbone grinding into the board. This one needs work–I’ll try with just pillows.)
  • Take pulsatilla, a homeopathic remedy–I took some last night.
  • Moxa: Chinese medicine technique of applying heat near an acupressure point associated with turning the baby: the outside pinkie toe (bladder 67). I’m getting some moxa from Em when I go to breakfast at her house tomorrow.
  • Acupuncture (same pinkie toe point–already had this on Thurs)
  • Lean forward, crawl around on hands and knees, do handstands and flips in the pool
  • Put frozen vegetables by the baby’s head and a warm compress near pelvis, coaxing him toward the warmth
  • Play music or shine light near the pelvis, maybe he’ll get curious and come on down?
  • Talk to baby, meditate, write out emotions, chant, recruit support and head-down vibes from blog followers

I won’t bother going into all the scenarios if he doesn’t flip by 37 weeks, because he will. He just will! (Visualization from V: I’m so grateful my baby flipped and I got to have a natural birth!)

Still, it’s upsetting, and my first lesson in a while in You Do Not Control This. This one is really up to the babe. I’m showing him every 5 minutes with my hands the direction to go, which is roughly counter-clockwise. Turn, baby!

I talked to my sister D last night and she said the same thing happened with her first–and she turned with plenty of time.

Yay, baby, yay baby!!!

family, fertility, gratitude, homebirth, IUI, IVF, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

wellness and gratitude

After I got back to SF, I went to see my regular doc’s NP on Thursday with my same barking cough and story of woe. How can one really recover while traveling on airplanes at this time of year? She agreed that the original antibiotic seemed to only be kind-of working; no more ‘junk’ in my lungs but still wheezy. No fever, blood pressure normal (so glad). I switched to a Z-pack, Mucinex, and an inhaler and took the next few days to rest at home. So much for minimizing meds, sorry babe. All the coughing had resulted in pain in my rib cage equivalent to getting stabbed, my first-ever hemmorhoid (eek!), and a deep commitment to do whatever necessary to get well.

After a lot of rest, Harry Potter, West Wing (I’m on the last season), More Business of Being Born (did you know they made an additional several hours of documentary?), all those meds, Vitamin C, fluids, I woke up today with clearer lungs–the cough is improving. My ribs feel slightly less painful. I’m concerned though about a new symptom that I discovered last night. I was watching The West Wing and I suddenly realized that the theme song was out of tune, like it was being played by an amateur symphony. I thought something was wrong with my iPad. Then I turned on my computer and the notification sounds also sounded tinny and off. I thought–uh oh, maybe it’s my ears. I booted up iTunes and put on an Arcade Fire song. It sounded like it was being played on an out-of-tune old bar piano. If I plugged one ear it sounded OK, and when I plugged the other it seemed to go down in pitch by a half-step.

This has continued today. It feels like one ear is slightly plugged which certainly should be cleared up by the meds I’m on, but wow how weird. Even the notification that I have a text on my cell phone sounds flat. Voices sound fine. Did a bacteria eat my ear drum?

I am going to get out of the house today, after canceling many plans yesterday and the day before–at a certain point, it’s the inactivity that causes the discomfort. I’ll see some SMC friends and then go on a (mild) walk in the Presidio (if not raining) with my friend S who guided me through Glacier National park 2.5 years ago and is in town!

I woke up this morning and was reading on my iPad in bed, ending up going back in my blog to the beginning of last year. I reviewed last year’s resolutions which could be the same again this year word for word (I had frankly forgotten about most of them)–undercommit, write every day, get out in nature once a week, be on time.  I did OK with undercommitting, shifting into a more fertility-friendly pace. I absolutely did not write every day and almost immediately forgot that resolution as soon as I wrote it down. I mostly got into nature once a week-ish. I moderately improved on punctuality. These are still a work in progress! (Of course I did get pregnant in August, so no complaints here!)

Just after the New Year in 2013, I was also reeling from my 3rd positive that went negative, and gearing up for two more (ultimately failed) IUIs before going ahead with IVF: Mt. Everest looming on the horizon. I got so into the moment, reading those posts, reconnecting with myself a year ago and how it felt to be in that stuck and frustrated place, and then the baby would start kicking and I’d be zoom-fast-forwarded to my new apartment and my soccer-ball belly. I hadn’t looked back in a while and it was the perfect thing to do while sick because it made me enormously grateful all over again to be here with bouncing baby boy on his way, remembering all the hard work and patience and faith and money and time it took to get here.

Tomorrow I will be 24 weeks and on the precipice of the third trimester. Amazing–people have urged me to get lots done in the 2nd trimester and so I guess that ship has sailed. I am reminded that pregnancy is really 10 months–I am at 6 months and have 4 months to go. So, really, the third trimester is the longest–especially for first-time moms who go past their due date. Email me if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I feel peaceful about my birth plans–signed up for childbirth class w/ two friends, am just about to interview doulas, just need to rent the tub and order the birth kit. It’s everything else that needs a lot of work: rearranging my apartment (J and my parents and I came up with a new scheme in AZ–I’ll have a guest room, big bedroom for me and baby w/ heater, and dining room becomes living/dining), organizing my closets, finishing my registry, going through accumulated stacks of important papers, reading about babies (diaper system? sleep strategies? child care?), creating a living will, upgrading my laundry situation… etc. Swimming, yoga, meditation, walking, writing. But first: get well.

I know many of you are sick too. May you be well! May you be free from suffering! May you be grateful! Take good care of precious you.

xo

anxiety, Buddhism, family, IUI, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

sicker

I made a quick recovery from the stomach bug but the cough got worse. I steamed, drank a special concoction from my dad (hot water with honey, cider vinegar, and cayenne pepper), ate cough drops, drank lots of fluids, rested as much as I could. But it was time to go to the sales meeting and I depended the cough to neatly resolve itself which…it didn’t. During the first full day, I drank much hot water with honey and lemon, but I kept breaking into coughing fits and people were starting to give me that alarmed look like I should be quarantined. By full day 2, I lost my voice. I was hosting strategy breakfast and was almost unable to communicate in anything but a growl. Finally, I texted Em who wanted me to go to urgent care to have a doctor listen to my lungs.

Fortunately, the disruption to my team was minor because we were well-staffed. I waited 3 hours in urgent care to see the doctor because they only had one doctor on and there were many people waiting. When the doc finally listened to my lungs, I couldn’t take a full deep breath without lots of coughing and he stepped away and said, “You sound TERRIBLE.” He told me that if I don’t already have pneumonia I would soon, and that if I already wasn’t in such good shape I would be knocked out. No more sales meeting–rest, fluids, and a strong antibiotic.

Of course I wasn’t thrilled to have to take medicine, but triple-checked it with Em, Dr. B., and the doctor here confirmed it was a B-class drug for pregnancy, meaning the safest. And the alternative would be to get sicker, an obvious risk in itself. So I went to Walgreens and got the prescription, Emergen-C, Ricola drops, water. Then my phone died so I couldn’t call a cab and the nice people at Walgreens let me use their phone. The hotel sent a woman named Veronica in a black car to get me and I was noting how relatively luxurious it is to be sick on a work trip with an Am Ex corporate card.

My room is comfy (I’m in a JW Marriott) and I spent a while watching junky TV before landing on the season premiere of Downton Abbey. While I had missed the third season, I heard how it ended (thanks to facebook) and found this premiere to be really tepid with no compelling storylines. I hung in there hoping it would get better (it didn’t) before falling asleep for close to 10 hours.

A series of room service orders, naps, and baths later and I am in bed in my bathrobe listening to ambient spa music being piped outside my the open sliding door to the balcony. The antibiotic will take 24-48 hrs to kick in, so the deep wheezy cough is still there, but I don’t feel too miserable. In a few hours, I’ll put on my formal dress and heels and go down to the awards banquet for a little while–there’s lots to celebrate with my team and I want to at least make an appearance and exchange some hugs and high-fives. But not overdo it. And I definitely want to be sitting down the whole time.

At this meeting of nearly a thousand colleagues, there are many hugs and congratulations and everyone seems to already know my circumstances as I’m sure that part of the story travels like wildfire (since it’s unorthodox and therefore interesting). Only once was I asked if it was intentional, and only once was I asked if I’ll be coming back to work–aren’t these question off limits?? There was one colleague who very studiously was not acknowledging my news, and I realized he was waiting for me to tell him–good policy! Another friend told me over and over how proud she is of me for making it happen. Feels nice.

While here, I had two women tell me they’d be interested in knowing more about how I went about getting pregnant on my own because they may end up doing the same. I strive to be a good example to women like this–it helps to get serious about it when you know someone else’s story (for me, it was my friend C). I had another woman get teary and tell me how happy she was for me–and then confided that she’s been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for years and is in the process of trying to adopt. I always want to make it clear that this did not happen easily or quickly for me either–but, then again, what is easily or quickly? It’s all relative, everyone’s story and struggle is unique, and I remember looking at pregnant women on the ‘other side’ and wondering if I’d ever get there, almost disregarding how long her road had been. Does it matter how hard it was if you got there? (I recently told someone it took me “a long time” and she said, “Me too, ten years!” and I instantly felt like OMG–it didn’t take me long at all.) Rather than compare numbers of IUIs and IVF transfers, I can sincerely tell women that if you are totally committed to making it happen, it will happen, one way or another. Just keep trying.

Tomorrow, J and I will head back to my parents’ place for one more relaxing day, then fly back to SF. What a trip. I hope I can manage to stay healthy after this–extensive travel is not promoting good pregnancy health. Only one two-hour flight to go.

I had so much I wanted to say about the silent retreat but the experience got kind of blasted out of the water by all this illness–I never ‘transitioned out,’ I just barreled into survival mode. People have asked me how it went and I have a hard time putting it into words, and no one who hasn’t experienced it can really get it. In fact, I think most people think it sounds nuts to spend money on nothingness and silence. I’ll just say that while it’s happening, it’s intense, enlightening, intimidating, big–all stimulations and distractions are inside your own head. You face the stuff that stays buried underground most days but inevitably causes intermittent or unrelenting stress, anxiety, dread, etc–and it evolves and turns into an action-packed movie with rich visuals, a swirling sea of rising and falling emotions, and a series of surprising visitors, all punctuated by many, many moments of stillness and peace. All I can say is: give it a try.

My boy is growing and moving and I’m shifting into a new level of thinking and planning–it’s the new year, the year he will be born!

New Year’s resolution: clear time and space for new life!

xo

Buddhism, family, meditation, outdoors, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

sick

Hi! I am out of the retreat as of yesterday and, while I don’t have time to write a full post, I am inspired by friends A and V who are committed to writing every day, even if it’s short. The short story is: I am sick.

At the retreat, about which I have lots to say but will have to be bookmarked for later, I started on day 2 or so with a dry cough which graduated into a hacking cough. It felt triggered by new climates and heaters and freezing cold. Then, on the last night, I caught a stomach bug that hit 3-4 of the retreatants, plus one of the teachers, Jonathan Faust (who detailed his ordeal in a dharma talk) and also likely his wife, Tara Brach, the teacher I flew there to see and who disappeared in the last 24 hours. Yes–on New Year’s Eve, I woke up to be sick every hour and sent a mental Happy New Year to each time zone in succession. The next afternoon, mere hours after successfully keeping fluids down, I flew to Phoenix. I ate six crackers and kept drinking water and my parents picked me up and I’ve never been so happy to arrive at Sky Harbor Airport.

I made it without incident! (aside from my exit row seat back which wouldn’t recline which was terribly uncomfortable.) Now my cough is worse and I have to go into my sales meeting tomorrow (mercifully shorter than usual, running from tomorrow night until Tuesday morning), a notoriously packed event and another petri dish. All this air travel is tough on the immune system, despite militant washing my hands, taking my vitamins, and drinking as much water as I can. Looking forward to being grounded after just a couple more trips.

Baby boy seems happy despite these trials, wiggling and thumping away, and growing. It’s a lot for one body, all this!

So, more soon on everything but I am mentally good and just hoping I get all healthy again soon. Meanwhile, I wanted to share the latest belly shot since I think I’m totally off my weekly schedule: my parents and I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens, amazing blown-glass sculptures placed around the gardens and lit up at night. My dad caught this belly shot with a sculpture in the background like a fireball and a gorgeous Arizona sunset which didn’t quite come through:

22weeks

I’m going to breathe some more steam and then take my sick self to bed. Much love!