parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

writing

Tonight’s post is short and sweet because:

I started writing my book! You knew this was coming, right? My SMC story will be told. So, my writing time is somewhat cramped as I just have post-8:30pm to work on it (plus everything else I can’t do while E is awake). I try to do an hour a night and follow Annie Lamott’s #1 advice, “Butt in the chair.” So far, so good.

I’m pumping as I write, which is weirdly hurting my back. I have the hands-free pumping bra but it’s hard to sit normally. Each night, starting last night, I’m attempting a “dream feed” with E, inserting the bottle’s nipple into his sleeping lips and hoping he’ll subconsciously latch and suck (and then remember how to do it when he’s awake). Last night, he was so asleep that he looked just like those dolls with a tiny hole between their lips for the bottle. He let it be there and eventually started sucking on it gently. Not much milk was transferred, yet. I have a friend who did this every night for weeks and eventually the babe caught on. The bulk of the pumped milk goes into the freezer stockpile.

Last night we had a 6.1 earthquake, centered in Napa! I woke at 3:20am to feel my building rocking, creaking, groaning. I clutched little E and sort of shielded his head from any eventual flying objects….it went on for a long time but didn’t reach the point where any damage was done. The biggest earthquake I’ve felt and definitely a different experience with a baby. Must get the earthquake kit together.

E is getting so giggly! I caught a photo of it today. Love to all and more soon as I become a wizard of time management.

xo

laughing e

anxiety, family, gratitude, outdoors, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

“getting stuff done”

I’m in super mama blogger mode as I sway back and forth on my feet standing at my parents’ bistro-height dining room table, baby in the Ergo, willing him to stay asleep long enough for me to churn this post out. He just had perhaps his biggest tantrum ever, alarming even the neighbors. Why? I really don’t know. This morning, I took him on a relaxing, 3-mile walk in the stroller–he looked up at the trees with big eyes, napped, woke up happy. When we got home, I thought we’d do a nice nurse-ourselves-into-a-nap together. We’ve done it many times before, and I was predicting that our sleep schedules would align. We got upstairs and he nursed on one side. When I switched to the other side, he kept getting distracted–looking up at me with big eyes and bursting out in big smiles (and then doing it again, and then doing it again, etc., adorable)–and eventually I gave up and thought–maybe we’ll just drift off to sleep together. There was a moment, maybe 30 seconds, when we were both still and I actually started falling asleep. That’s when he began the gradual but steady ramp-up to five-alarm fire mode. I tried everything: shushing, swaddling, walking, bouncing, nursing again, every position, giving him to my sister, giving him to my brother-in-law (both of whom were impressed by the force of his crying despite their own significant experience with five-alarm gila monster), giving up and eating a cookie, etc. This doesn’t often happen with E. But every baby will have their moments!

I stepped outside with E in the Ergo and ran into the W’s who were worried they had triggered the ordeal by playing their music too loud (I never heard the music) and asked me how they could help and I requested an iced coffee to replace the nap I didn’t get.

I woke up today feeling like I’m not “getting anything done.” Everyone else around me has projects, events, outings, work calls, errands, and I recently wore the same clothes from one morning, overnight, and the next day till the following night and hadn’t showered and was just flowing with the baby’s needs and feeling like I needed to wash my hair and change my underwear and breast pads. I really feel like I can’t (shouldn’t?) complain, yet I simultaneously I felt like I couldn’t quite manage the basics. A little downward spiral. I perhaps underestimated how much the mom has to do no matter how many willing helpers are surrounding her. (My family is wonderful and will do anything I ask–I probably should be doing a little more asking.)

So I complained to my mom this morning that I wasn’t ” getting anything done”  which obviously is crazy when I have been caring for my baby boy 24/7 for 10 weeks, and she said, ” honey, what do you feel like you’re not getting done?”  and I said quietly, “like washing my hair,” and at that moment the baby fell asleep and I bounded upstairs for a shower and straightened up my room, put sheets in the laundry, and prepared for a stroller walk. Man, sometimes all you need is 15 minutes to feel like a new person.

So–biggest tantrum ever, no nap, small showering victory, and we’re still moving forward incrementally on the bottle. Let’s be glad for progress–yesterday, he took 1/4 ounce, today he took 1/2 an ounce. He’s willing to give it a shot but not really sucking on the nipple, kind of gumming it and pushing it in and out of his mouth. I probably should have started this process weeks before I did but it felt overwhelming. Then he starts arching his back (a new move–he can practically make a bridge when on the floor, j/k but not really) and we do that a few more times. It stresses me out though because I feel like I will never be away from him for more than 1.5 hours without putting someone through the torture of this afternoon (on top of the stress of actually leaving him for any length of time), and I wish there were a third option. But let’s focus on the progress–progress! We’ll keep trying again each day and he’s a bright young man and he’ll get it figured out. I have a few months still before I go back to work (so grateful, truly a dream come true).

And then there are recent days that flow so well that it’s truly easy–and seriously guys, that’s been most days. We wake up and he gives me a series of good morning smiles. I feed him, wipe the green stuff out of his eyes with a warm washcloth, change his diaper, put on his clothes. He stares up at the ceiling fan lovingly. Sometimes my mom does the diaper and clothes. Then he’ll play on the activity mat and then go down easily for a nap. I have to be well-rested and have clarity on what’s top priority in order to use those nap windows efficiently. And somehow the past few days I’ve not felt well-rested. And I think the young sir has had some tummyaches (a sizable spit-up preceded his outburst today).

So, that’s me today. My back hurts from standing here with my 16+ pounder on my front and my feet hurt because we already did 3 miles and someone doesn’t want me to sit down. The iced coffee was just delivered by my dad (thanks, T!!!), and the sun is shining, and my baby is the most precious, beautiful boy in the world. And I am grateful to be a mom and see what this is all about.

Three days ago, I turned 41, and Baby E’s gift to me was: he laughed. Like, we made each other laugh back and forth a bunch of times. It made my heart grow ten sizes.

Lots of love to you!

PS: Sad addendum is that today we lost our dear friend H, at 86 years old. We got together with him many times in SF over the years and played many Scrabble games (he was a master of the two-letter word and kicked our butts most of the time). He followed my story, not through my blog but through his niece A on the east coast who reads the blog.  If it was a girl, he wanted me to name her “Perseverance.” He came over just last month to meet Baby E and hold him and I’m so glad I have photos of that day, so glad that day happened, and that we got to know and love H in the last years of his long and full life. We will miss him so much. xx

gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

9 weeks

Goodness it’s hard to find time to write–even surrounded by so much help, when the baby is sleeping I need to eat, shower, sleep, maybe run or jump in the lake. Just now at 10:40pm, I brought the half-asleep baby into our bedroom, turned on a dim light, and put him down. As he did his sleep-kicks and turned his head from side to side winding back down, I laid here with my hand on his belly, shushing him back to sleep. I noticed how this is my only free time and yet I am always too tired and yet- if not now, when? Then realized my iPad is downstairs and the door is creaky enough to wake the baby. And then I thought- I’m going to write this post on my iPhone. Screw it.

So here I am, hopefully not giving myself carpal tunnel as I tap this out on the tiny keyboard. Gold star for effort!

I wanted to write about my body. After weeks of belly shots, I gave birth to my ten pound baby and came home from the hospital still looking quite pregnant. Maybe seven months pregnant. Once the baby is out, what IS all that belly stuff that remains?? I don’t know, but it felt jiggly and jello-y and so not my body. pregnant or not pregnant. A pot of jello that you really just want to ignore and never touch in purpose. (We toyed with the idea of doing reverse belly shots but I wasn’t quite as thrilled about divulging my pot.)

Mercifully, the belly started melting away pretty quickly. Along with losing the pounds, I started losing hair: after months of luscious and thick locks, my body was going back to status quo. My skin turned dry. All those extra nutrients that supported the baby draining away! Too bad we can’t hang on to that forever.

The healing of what I like to call my “undercarriage” was fine–nothing much to report, which is newsworthy in and of itself since, as I mentioned, I pushed out a 10 pound baby. I was tempted to look with a mirror but never did, but both midwives have confirmed that the tears have healed nicely.

I started walking and doing a little yoga. Then, last week, I strapped on my new running shoes and started running again after a year’s hiatus:

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I’d been jealously watching runners for months! The danger for me is overdoing it, which I did two days ago by running 3 miles at close to my regular pace, breezing through the summer morning and then only stopping to take off my shoes before plunging into the lake. I’ve been extra tired since then. Little by little, my fitness will return.

My little pot of jello has plateaued at around 5-6 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, and because I have a decent diastisis I am doing “How to Lose your Mummy Tummy” exercises to bring my abs back together. And babe is giving me plenty of upper body exercise as I lift, carry, and rock his 15+ pound body day in and day out.

But enough about me! This guy is growing and developing fast and doing cool new stuff all the time. He is now somewhat mobile while on his back in that he can launch the bottom half of his body to one side over and over until he has turned himself up to 120 degrees. So, for example, if I fall asleep beside him parallel, I can wake up later and find his head in the same place but his feet pointing to the upper corner of the bed. As a result, I’ve doubled down on pillows stuffed between the bed and walk and also installed a side rail.

He also kicks me now to wake me up. No crying or grumbling, he just turns his body perpendicular to mine and kicks kicks kicks. OK, OK I get it!!

He also is hugely enamored of ceiling fans–cooing and smiling at them like long lost old friends. Someone told me that new babies can still see angels and I think they must be hanging out up there, telling him jokes.

While nursing, I love watching him working his hands. They are gesticulating like he’s giving a lecture in an auditorium. Or flagging down a waitress. Or pumping his fist at a soccer game. One night recently, he went 6 hours between feedings, and when he woke up and I was about to give him the boob, his little limbs we’re fluttering with total excitement–and my heart blew up for this adorable tiny human.

He’s starting to hold his head up with confidence and minimal bobbles. And I’m just starting to notice that he sometimes wants Mommy–not necessarily milk, and not necessarily just to be held, but to be held by me. That feels so good.

Still working on the bottle–we have graduated from instant fury to interesting toy (and I’m the one giving it to him, which breaks all the rules) but we have yet to get more than half an ounce into his little bod. Still, I’m confident that if his life depended on it, he could figure it out.

I’ve almost finished up this post, sitting in an un-ergonomic cross-legged hunched-over position in this dim light beside the baby spread eagle in the center of the bed with his angelic sleeping face. And I realize I’m hungry again (there is no hunger like breastfeeding), and so I’m going to have to open the creaky door after all.

Good night!

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anxiety, family, gratitude, outdoors, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

8 weeks

OMG I am having the hardest time getting time to write! It’s been more than two weeks and the topics are piling up. When I get a little free time I usually want to nap or take a shower. Or get outside. See how I hit the trifecta this morning? Baby sleeping, I’ve already showered, I’m well rested, and it’s pouring rain!

Ever since my last post I’ve been meaning to write about our placenta-burying ceremony–so San Francisco, right? This came about thanks to multiple factors. I had written in my birth plan that I wanted to take my placenta home from the hospital. Maybe to have encapsulated (i.e. dried and put into capsules to take as pills) and maybe to consume in smoothies, but I didn’t have a precise plan and hadn’t researched it at all. As a result, when we got home from the hospital I kind of forgot about it in the fridge (not the freezer, oops) until Day 5, which seemed a bit late for any kind of consumption. My doula, A, agreed, and she suggested that we bury it.

Since M had given birth the same day as me just five hours later, A suggested that we have a joint placenta-burying ceremony in her Secret Garden, a beautiful garden space in the Mission to which she has access. We both loved the idea as a way to thank the placentas, return their nutrients to the earth, and to commemorate the end of the first 40 days–the sacred beginning. So, on a hot and sunny SF day 40 days after the day our babies were born, we met up at the Secret Garden with our placentas in tupperware buckets (mine, which caused the hemorrhage, was as big as a cherry pie–no exaggeration). A was at a birth, so she sent her dear husband and kids with a well-researched kiwi plant and detailed instructions. M and her husband P brought a pitcher of icy lemonade. The kiwi was to be buried next to a trellis where it will climb and climb into the future!

We said a few words and dumped our placentas together into a hole in the earth, covered them up with dirt, and put the plant on top. A lovely way to give our children “roots”  in San Francisco forever and a way to mark the intertwined beginnings of babies E and E. Grateful for our connection to these two families! (After polling a couple of key blog readers who happen to be in the room with me, I decided not to include a photo of my placenta, even though I am grateful to it for nourishing baby E in the womb and think it looks awesome! Proud of my pie-sized placenta!)

photo 1

photo 2

 

About a week after that, I flew to Michigan. Flying with a baby is a rite of passage for any new parent–especially a single mom who is likely doing it on her own. I spent that week planning and plotting and accumulating everything we would need in a flurry of Ziploc bags. Miraculously, my sister in Chicago brought a bunch of key items that she had from her babies (breast pump, my brest friend, diaper changing pad, etc.) so I didn’t have to ship anything. I got everything to fit in one big suitcase (44 pounds), the Snap N Go stroller in my other hand, a carry-on backpack on my back and the baby in an Ergo on my front. I set the alarm for 3:15am for our 6:30am flight. I was admittedly nervous. I just kept picturing myself covered in sweat and milk and clutching a screaming baby.

E woke me at 2:45am to eat, so that was my official earliest wakeup time ever. I got myself ready, got him ready, got us and everything into the car and headed down the highway. E just took my word for it that it was time to start the day and was perfectly happy except for when his hat fell over his eyes, easily fixed from the driver’s seat by reaching back. We parked by the airport, felt like badasses as we rolled backpack and stroller to the airtrain and checked into the terminal and went through security. It was all super smooth–didn’t have to take off my shoes or the baby carrier. And when we got to the gate, the agent had the same name as my mom, so I chatted gaily with her as I attempted to be her BFF and get a good seat. She complied by giving us an ENTIRE ROW at the very back of the plane. Relief!!! I laid him down on a blanket beside me, and he happily kicked his legs and napped and had diaper changes right there. Only a couple of times did he get revved up into crying mode and I was able to walk up and down the aisle and rock him to sleep pretty effectively. Plus you forget that the white noise of the plane drowns out a lot.

The people who helped me most on the planes happened to be men (probably because by chance it was men, on both flights, who were sitting nearest to us). On the first leg, a guy across the aisle said to let him know if I needed any help, that he liked babies and that his baby was now the morose teenager sitting beside him engrossed in a video game. He smiled and said he preferred them smaller. I took him up on it when I couldn’t wait any longer to use the bathroom and handed E over. The second I shut the bathroom door, I heard E wailing and peed as fast as possible.

On the second flight, E was already wailing and hungry when we got on board (my moment to be covered in sweat and milk and clutching a screaming baby). For this flight, they gave us the more-leg-room seats by a window, with two guys in the inside seats. I’m sure they were full of dread when they saw us arrive. I tried everything possible to balance E in a way that I could get my hands free to put on my seatbelt but no dice. I asked the guy next to me to buckle it for me and he obliged! E settled right down once eating, and by the end that guy said, “Does he always fly this well?” Success!!!!

And now we’ve been up north for a week! I would have thought it would be easier to get time to write with all the help but we’ve had pretty nonstop activity. My sister D and her girls were here when we arrived. Then two dear friends and their families came through on different days. Then J decided to fly in from NYC (with literally one day notice) and is here now! Amazing how many friends have come through when we’re in such a remote place. Baby E draws many fans from all over!

We’ve also taken E on his first restaurant outing (he was an angel) and also to a Joshua Bell concert at Interlochen (he stayed outside with Chacha and J until I was summoned 45 minutes in and sent my dad in my place). These outings push me outside my comfort zone. Taking such a little baby into these loud and bouncy and completely new situations full of strangers can be stressful. But it’s good for us–with some balance. Now we’re enjoying a little down time, thanks to the rainy day.

J just said, “Are you writing?” from where he’s working on his laptop around the corner. He knows I’ve been trying to get to this for days!

It’s wonderful to be surrounded by people who love E and are delighted by his every teeny step of development (not to mention all the help!!). He is smiling a lot now and my mom got him to laugh! He’s eating less in the night. He loves to look up at the trees and feel the beach air. Once in a while, he’ll suddenly look at you with big, intense eyes and start telling you something critically important through pursed little lips, “Brlll.”

He’s almost always easily placated, so when he’s not, I get rattled. We came home early from a dinner party with our dear downstairs neighbors after everyone tried their magic with him and he was just over the edge. I really can’t stand listening to him cry! It’s awful! We came home and he calmed down right away. A side-lying nursing sesh and he was out. Aw, baby. Wish we could get a memo on what you need when you cry. Next up: getting him to take a bottle. We’ve made some progress on that but he’s so far pretty (understandably) offended by the idea of a bottle vs. the boob.

He’s a beautiful boy and growing fast–probably around 15 pounds now and I need to graduate the sweater he wore yesterday which looked more like a midriff top with 3/4 length sleeves.

J caught this photo of the little love the other day. Lots of love to you!

photo 3

gratitude, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

5.5 weeks

Good evening, friends! It’s 9:30pm, the baby is sleeping, and it’s quiet with the exception of a constant audio backdrop of foghorns humming on the bay. I’m eating cherries and drinking water and feeling glad for a few moments to write. It’s tough to identify and harness these moments for writing–shouldn’t I be emptying the dishwasher, putting away laundry, finishing those thank you cards I’ve been meaning to do for weeks?? But tonight the priority is writing. I prefer to write a post all in one sitting and it’s hard to come by a free hour without other pressing obligations when the baby is sleeping (which could also include showering, pooping, napping, laundering baby clothes, disposing of diapers, doing baby-related paperwork, etc. etc. etc).

E is almost six weeks old! And weighs 13 lbs 13 oz (with diaper and onesie on)! He’s growing really fast. I noticed tonight while nursing him in the glider that his feet are propped on the opposite arm of the chair. It makes me feel good, like we’re both doing our job of making him grow. On the other hand, there’s this wistful nostalgia for every little stage that passes because you know it will never come back. I said to someone today that “he won’t be tiny again” (even though he was never tiny). Still–I notice each little milestone tick by–the initial weeks–meconium poops, the umbilical cord stump, the unfocused and cross-eyed look, the dry skin, the baby acne, the involuntary everything. The sense that he was truly fresh out of the oven. Bobble head and smaller cry. Learning from scratch. Staying home in the love soup with meals home cooked by mom.

Now he’s put on a few pounds and elongated too. His face doesn’t have such a puffy newborn look anymore. He’s really focused–makes eye contact with people, fixates on something out the window or a toy or a book. Smiles! Kicks his legs while breathing rapidly, in kind of a delighted pre-laugh. Can have a conversation exchange where the words are “uh” and “ooh” but the timing is perfectly logical. He’s getting a belly (I feel so proud of this!) and I’m still working on those cheeks. When I have him in a carrier, he holds on to me with his little hands.

Someday, though, when I have a tank of a toddler, I will look back on 6 weeks as tiny baby days. We’ve advanced into a kind-of routine that involves at least one outing per day. We’ve been super social with other new mamas and their babies–at mom meetups in the park, at friends’ houses, at my midwife’s office. Here is E (in green) with some of his gal pals today:

evan and the ladies

These meetups are so important. Not only are we sharing our experiences and lessons learned and supporting each other and keeping ourselves from becoming isolated, it’s just really critical to keep practicing getting out of the house. It’s a big deal. Timing sleep and feedings in order to get out the door, bringing the right stuff, choosing the right carrier, gauging the right temperature… It’s so trial and error and every single time there’s something I forget–and that’s when it helps so much to be with other new moms who can lend you a diaper or a plastic bag or a hand! One friend offered to repark my car when I realized, after getting the baby from the car seat to the carrier (asleep!), that I had parked in front of a driveway and I just couldn’t go through all the steps again. And once, when I was super frazzled with a crying baby, other moms neatly packed my messy pile of stuff back into my diaper bag. These are the friends who can bail you out when you’re still learning. Soon, I will graduate to socializing outside my house with people who didn’t recently give birth.

I’ve pretty consistently overbundled E. We learned in birth class that the baby needs one more layer than you do, but we all agree that our babies run hotter than that. I’m always stripping him down. Then when I went to meet moms in the Mission, where it’s warmer, I was all prepared to sit in the sun but then we were in the shade and I wished I’d had a gauzy blanket, which of course was the last thing I took out of my backpack before leaving the house. Today I actually ran out of diapers which is a totally amateur move. Other times I’ll remember all of the above and not need any of it!

Today, after parents’ circle, I walked with new friend E to get burritos and then nursed the baby in the car in an attempt to buy time to run an errand. Yet–we got halfway to Rainbow and he just went ballistic. I’m watching his screaming red little face in his car seat via two mirrors and trying to console him while getting us asap to a parking lot where I could nurse him again (maybe he wanted the other boob?), and by the time I got him out of his car seat he was sweaty and doing that post-cry inhale/shudder which made me feel awful. Who knows what triggered that… I guess sometimes this will just happen (maybe hungry, tired or overstimulated? Uncomfortable?). And it SUCKS to be driving at the time. On the other hand, there is no lasting damage–he always just pops back into a fine mood when he gets what he needed. If I cried that hard, I would likely do permanent damage to my vocal cords and be blotchy and sore for days. I need to remember that babies are designed to pull out this handy (and somewhat traumatizing) survival tool although it’s hard not to let it make you feel like you’re doing a crappy job.

Breastfeeding is the best. Such peaceful moments where we totally nail it on meeting each others’ needs. I keep taking videos of him nursing and vocalizing in the pauses with high-pitched baby sighs. So pure. When he’s finished, he does the most amazing baby stretch where he raises both arms over his head (only they don’t actually go past the top of his head) and sticks out his chin to stretch his neck, furrowing his little brow and curling up his legs. I look forward to this every time.

I love this guy so much. I’m happy to wake up to feed and change him, to entertain him with random narration and songs and books, and yes–totally feel rattled when he turns the screaming cry up to 11. I just read an article about how hard the transition to parenthood can be on so many levels–it can be so jarring, so despairing. In my case though, I had so much time to anticipate this boy’s arrival–I had to fight so hard for so long to get him here. I was beyond ready for the whole nine yards. And then I was blessed with a good eater and sleeper.

So, my mental state is pretty darn good for a new single mom. I expected this to be harder so I’m just grateful for every day that isn’t dreadfully hard. And for the seriously precious, fleeting moments.

Good grief, it got late. I better get my weary mama ass to bed. Lots of love and more soon!

xo

 

 

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

4 weeks

YES–it’s 7:17pm, the baby is sleeping, there’s a chicken stock simmering on the stove and quinoa to put with leftovers for dinner. I’m having a beer, there are ocean sounds emanating from the Sleepy Sheep in the bedroom, the evening sunlight is streaming in. A peaceful moment to write.

As soon as I finished that paragraph, I half expected to hear a cry. You never know! The pediatrician said today that babies really don’t settle on any kind of regular or predictable schedule until around three months. So you really never know if a given nap will be 5 minutes or…4.5 hours.

Only once was it 4.5 hours. We’d had a busy day full of catnaps and transitions and that night E slept from 7:30pm-midnight. This is noticeable to a breastfeeding mom because of how full and uncomfortable her boobs get once the baby goes longer than the usual window–I was literally sitting on the edge of the couch watching him in his rocker. “Is my baby waking up?” I said, over and over, as he stretched and murmured and even opened his eyes countless times–and then went back to sleep. I tried to distract myself with The Daily Show, trying to nap. I was giddy when he finally woke up and ate.

Uh oh–he just woke up real time. Oh and the Amazon Fresh guy just showed up with my groceries (best service ever, so far only available in Seattle and Cali. They bring the groceries to my KITCHEN) and the quinoa is done. Gotta put stuff away, eat, and get the baby to chill out (he is now peacefully munching on his swaddle in his rocker).

OK–while the food heats up in the microwave I will recount the pediatrician’s report: this kid is bigger and heavier than 99.9% of his age group. At 4 weeks, he is 12lbs 6oz and 24 inches long. Our most important job together is to make sure he grows, and we’re doing it well! I confirmed with the pediatrician that there is no direct correlation from baby length/weight to adult height and he said that’s true, but–look at those hands. He’s going to be first pick on the teams.

E is complaining from the rocker–I have to pick him up.

Changed his diaper, managed to get a burp. This is definitely the most challenging time of day to write. I’m gulping down my dinner and he’s back to complaining and chewing on his swaddle. Hold on–

I fed him (which is all he ever wants which I guess makes sense when you’re increasing your body weight by around 20% in 4 weeks), and my dinner got cold and the sun went down. But now he’s drunk and happy.

I too often doubt that he could be hungry even when he just ate… But it’s always the right answer. Unless he’s overtired or needs a diaper change.

He’s talking and wiggling. He just started to smile in an authentic way that isn’t followed seconds later by a cry or a poop. It makes me get goosebumps of joy. I love how he yawns with a big inhale and then exhales through his nose only. And somehow scoots to my face level in the bed so that when I wake up his little baby face is inches from mine.

I love co-sleeping. I don’t know what mammal would give birth and then tell the baby, “here, you sleep on this rock over here while I go sleep in a warm nest over there.” The baby wants to be with its mama–at least mine has flatly rejected the bassinet, starting at the hospital. Sleeping together, mom and baby’s heartbeat and breathing align, they benefit from each other’s warmth, and the baby eats more. Mom and baby stay attuned to each other and can react if there’s a problem. I keep covers and pillows away from him and he’s now in a wearable sleeping bag. I might use a co-sleeper if there were a full-grown man in my bed, but there isn’t, so this feels like a luxury of singlehood–a wide-open bed for me and the babe.

I’m pleasantly surprised to not be a sleepless wreck by this point. The baby sleeps! And I’m honestly enjoying it all, even the figuring out all the gear, puzzling over what he needs, getting a system down, planning a day. Or just sitting on the couch watching him watch the leaves in the tree. It’s awesome and incredible.

On a note of gratitude, I think one huge key of my success right now is allllll the friends who have come by to visit and drop off food and also my new mom friends who gather in parks and cafes. This ensures that we don’t get isolated, which I can tell would be really easy to do in the eat/sleep/diaper change lifestyle. E and I need to have lots of people around, that’s how we roll. I thank all those friends for their generosity and for helping sustain us with food and love.

OK, this little pumpkin is just too cute not to pick up. Oh–and the groceries need to get put away–eek!

One final note: happy belated Father’s Day to my dear Dad and all the single moms pulling double duty xoxoxo

family, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

quinoa and gratitude

I’m going to try a new strategy tonight: write a little before the quinoa is done, and write a little after.

I’m so beat. Sometimes acupuncture just knocks me out so my eyes are heavy like I need to go straight to bed and it’s only 7pm. And sometimes just being this pregnant is enough to make anyone deeply tired. I keep dropping things on the floor! Over and over. It’s a long trip down and a workout coming up. I got on the bus tonight and three women jumped out of their seats. So I guess I’m getting on the more noticeable side of looking big and tired.

So much to write about! Better check the quinoa.

I’m eating leftover Thai basil chicken with quinoa now, and baby boy is tapping my belly button to let me know that he is probably still posterior. Thankfully, he’s head down but we want him facing my back and lately he’s facing front. My sister’s daily chant to her babies in utero: “Head down! Chin tucked! Arms straight! Back to belly! Yay, baby, yay, baby!” (Did I get it right, D?)  It worked, so I’m doing it. I have yet to look at the site, but apparently there’s advice on how to get your baby positioned on http://www.spinningbabies.com (love the name)

I had my shower last Saturday. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Coincidentally on International Women’s Day, this was a collection of amazing women–artists, therapists, health practitioners, small business owners, nonprofit directors, entrepreneurs, salespeople, musicians, researchers, engineers, teachers. Stay at home moms, single moms, partnered moms, single ladies, and pregnant homebirthers. Dreamers and doers, big-hearted givers, touchy-feely sentimentalists, smart and sassy jokesters. They offered to babysit, they offered to drop what they’re doing to help, they offered their husbands’ help for man jobs.They brought baby gear from their garages and closets. I adore these women and feel so fortunate to have this local community (plus many dear friends afar!). One thing I am proud to say I do well is pick my friends.

Many joyful tears were shed as we anticipate the arrival of Baby Boy! Having my sisters on either side of me at the front of the room (in matching dresses, unplanned) left me so moved that I became kind of quiet and awestruck (although in all the photos I have this huge, glowing smile). D flew cross-country to be there and brought adorable decorations. B hosted and made it look easy. They, along with my mom and friends L and C, planned and executed the shower I wanted, without me lifting a finger or even being very specific. L made eclairs. C was a blur of activity throughout the party she worked so hard.The concentration of love that day was so sweet.

So, I’ve been floating on a love cloud ever since Saturday, and, on top of the outpouring of love, there’s been an outpouring of help. After being so used to doing everything myself, it is a miracle when someone takes down the trash or cleans the bathroom floor (let’s be honest, I just don’t do it–thanks Mom), or grocery shops, or does the laundry. And then there was all the baby prep–clothes categoried by 0-3 months, 3-6, 6-12, 12-24. This kid may not wear the same outfit twice with all the hand-me-downs we’ve received (I might add–thanks especially to M and A for mass quantities of beautiful boy clothes). During the shower, my dad and J went to Target to get big storage bins and then attacked my closets. Furniture is all in place. Random things around the house have been fixed. My sister D helped me comb through what I should keep and what’s duplicated or unneeded and what I’ll need when. My parents even took a giant ball of tangled jewelry and made a project of matching the earrings, hanging the necklaces, collecting the rings. I would have never found the time to do that!

All the big stuff is pretty much in place, which means I no longer have to sit around wide-eyed wondering how it’s all going to happen. I have a changing table, a co-sleeper, 3 strollers, I think 5 different carriers, dressers and cabinets full of clothes. I have diapers and wipes and burp cloths and swaddling blankets and a carseat for now and also the one I’ll need 6 months later. So so so many hats. Many terrific books! Gift certificates for food! And even some cash for necessities! The relief I feel is consuming. The nesting/prep impulse satisfied. I’m not done but I’m in really good shape, and if baby came tomorrow, which is always possible, I would be pretty darn ready. (Please stay in there, dude.)

So, yes, another gratitude post. Such a one-hit wonder! But it’s kind of shocking, even for me, how fabulous this all feels. This baby has already: made me stronger, brought new friends, somehow engineered a bigger apartment right before he was conceived, gotten me to dream big about my future, helps me  take better care of myself, and teaches me not to take any of it for granted. He’s an amazing guy!!

I already do feel like I know him. And I do. Just not in the way I know anyone else. It’s the coolest thing.

And I never forget the path that got me here, nor my friends still on that path. Love to you, and blessings.

I’ve been wanting to make this list for a while so I’ll do it now even though this post is getting long:

Things I want to remember about pregnancy.

–My left outer thigh has been pretty much numb for the past 4 months.

–Sleeping positions require strategy. I wake up whimpering and then have to set up the pillows in a new configuration. Then hope I can get back to sleep before getting too hungry or having to pee.

–All day, I’m having an ongoing, internal conversation with the little one who so randomly flails around in there and gets the hiccups a lot. It’s impossible to care as much about a conference call when your baby has the hiccups in your belly. Sometimes he thumps (lately on my bladder). Sometimes his movement feels shivery or bubbly. Sometimes it feels like there’s a little hand feeling around thoughtfully on the other side.

–I crave meat. I recently read that my blood type (O negative) does better with meat (so much for 10 years of vegetarianism back in the day). I also crave chewing ice (my iron is low but not really that low). And, of course, carbs and sugar but that’s nothing new. Dairy is my friend.

–There are many, many discomforts of pregnancy that I have been lucky not to experience. But today I was walking and wondering if I’d experience round ligament pain. Maybe I was wondering because I felt like I was starting to get what felt like a stitch in my side. Pretty soon it was so bad I had to stop walking and take the bus. Who knows? It’s all par for the course.

–Every time I do anything, I am conscious of being a pregnant lady. The only exceptions are: momentarily when I’m really concentrating on something. And there’s a side-lying position in bed when I can almost imagine I have my regular body (and this is achieved by a complicated pillow configuration). I stare at women’s flat bellies, remembering. But lately it feels like my identity and it’s hard to imagine that a big transitional life event is about to put me on the other side. I always thought the empty belly would be a little sad, but then there’s the enormous consolation of having your baby where you can see him and love him up.

–The timing of the pregnancy has gone ideally. It doesn’t feel too fast or too slow, just right. Last night, my friend E advised, “Pretty soon, you’re going to start feeling trapped and freaked out like–I need this baby out! And that’s normal.” So, that may be coming (especially considering I have about 8 weeks of continuing to get bigger). But even the crappy parts are part of pregnancy, and I wanted to be pregnant for so long… It’s hard to be too pissed off about any of it.

–and, finally, my boobs are barely any bigger. So weird! We’ll give this one time.

OK, friends, time for bed. Love to you. Thanks for letting me bliss out for a sec. xo

 

 

Buddhism, dating, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

closer

Well, this is exciting–I sat down not knowing what I would write about and we’ll just see where it goes.

Before this blog, I started a blog years ago called “I should be writing.” I know it, I feel it, it’s that thing that comes up for me when people ask–what do you really want to do? what’s your passion project? what’s your dream? Yet I somehow resist Annie Lamott’s advice: “butt in the chair.” So many things that must get done first–from enough sleep (which lately is #1), to work, to errands, to keeping up with friends. And no, I won’t get on my own case right now while I’m 30 weeks pregnant and am doing a generally impressive job of balancing it all. But, let’s be honest–this is an interesting time to write about. And, even though I have no visceral sense yet of the sleep deprivation and bodily fluids and overwhelming love about to take over my life, I hope I’ll keep finding the energy to write. Blogs, books, miscellaneous projects that lead in cool directions.

Right now, I’m watching Arcade Fire on Austin City Limits while the baby makes ripples on my belly.

I like it when I put my hand on my belly and it feels like the baby is feeling around on the other side, curious as me about who’s out there. Sometimes he does a booty shake. Sometimes it feels like he is purposely tickling me on the side. I think he already has a sense of humor.

He is my passion project right now, obviously. Nothing at all competes with that. I just watched an interview with Anna Daveare Smith, talking about her goal of making the world better. What am I doing to make the world better? I am working on putting another lovebug into the world.

I know it’s all bigger than my to-do list–I need less doing and more being as my due date approaches.

I visited two dear friends in the suburbs over the weekend, both with big houses and husbands and three kids each. I sometimes get so used to my alternative path that I forget how alternative it is, hanging out with my single mom friends, comparing notes on navigating the challenges of our expensive city. This is my new normal, the life I created, the life the universe provided. No, my son probably won’t have the backyard and excellent public schools and laundry rooms of my youth as long as we stay here. But he will have an incredible city full of opportunities at his doorstep, his own room (a miracle), and so much love.

Someone asked me recently if I felt miserable and couldn’t wait for the pregnancy to be over. I don’t even speak this language. Yes, I’ve been super lucky with an easy physical experience. But after all it took to get here I wouldn’t trade in one minute. I’m happy to be here, exactly here, with 2+ months to go. I have a bunch of visitors about to flood in over the next couple weeks. They will help me move furniture and organize closets and celebrate. This celebration feels bigger than all previous ones combined.

So, yes–we’re back to gratitude. We have everything we need. “The love you seek is already here.” good night xo

 

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

Buddhism, family, gratitude, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

heading east

Guys! I have been wrapping up the year at work and sleeping a lot, and somehow have slipped into a less frequent writing schedule–but, as with so many things (exercise, meditation, baby prep), I intend to improve my writing habits in the New Year! Many more reflections to come; for tonight, I need to focus on packing for my 2-week trip: to see my family, to a 5-day silent meditation retreat, and to a sales meeting. (hoping I can get away with the same outfits to all three–possible?). But first:

I still have my belly shot from LAST Sunday, taken by my sister in Japantown right before we saw Catching Fire–so this shot is 20 weeks. It looks here like I’m ginormous–in reality, I think we can still say the belly is “cute.”

20wks

Tomorrow is the ‘big’ ultrasound, the 20-week (actually 21) anatomy scan. For all the excitement around the gender reveal, I (of course) only care that the baby is healthy. I feel good, and babe is doing backflips a lot (including right now), so as far as my internal checkpoints, all is well. Just bracing myself for what can be a LOT of information (the scan takes up to an hour) and hoping we come out with a great report card.

My dear friend S is accompanying me and I think the universe aligned to send me this particular friend for this particular event–just seems perfect. We’ll have the radiologist write down the gender. After the appt, S will read the result and, of the two onesies I’ll have with me, she will put either the pink one or the blue one in the box (with the radiologist note for confirmation!), and take the other one home so I can’t see it and deduce the result by the process of elimination. I’m bringing lots of tape so I won’t be tempted to peek. I don’t actually think I’ll be tempted to peek–I’ve waited this long, what’s two more days? On Christmas, with the whole fam together, my nieces will open it. This will be a very exciting moment which I can barely think about without bursting into tears.

OK–I wrote more than I had time for–stay tuned for Christmas belly shot, gender reveal, 2013 gratitude, and reflections on 2014.

I wish each of you a joyous holiday season full of peace and love!

xo

onesies)