The new arrival

advanved maternal age, babies, boys, change, first pregnancy, first time dads, first time moms, motherhood

Where. To. Start.

The fact that I’m writing this while leaning over the kitchen counter soaking my nipples in warm salt water?
Or that the 17 day old baby boy is sleeping and I have maybe 2 precious hours to get myself back to feeling like a person?
Or that after 60 hours in labor I ended up having a c-section and the whole ordeal had me PTSD crying almost every day for a week after?
Or that I finally saw my incision, slightly crooked and cut longer on the right side than the left because his little shoulder was lodged in a weird way on my right side, and felt like some science experiment?

No one told me that having a newborn would reduce my being to a pure physical vessel…my only purpose to feed and care for a helpless being. Or that caring for a newborn is a one way street, giving everything to this little life who cares not that you have layers of stitches crossing the bikini line, or that your mammary glands are freaking out, swollen and sore, or that your uterus is shrinking and cramping, that there will be vicodin and stool softeners and more people wondering about your gastrointestinal functions than you ever thought possible, that you would replay the events of your labor over and over again with your husband and cry over the pain and trauma of it all, that he will see and do things for you that you never imagined (involving blood and vomit and maxi pads and helping you walk and do ANYTHING).

But I was warned how wonderful it would be, how I would fall in love like never before, how all the pain would go away once that little babe was in my arms.

Readers, moms to be, new moms, professional moms…I have to say this wasn’t 100% true for me. It is there. It comes and goes. It is profoundly present when he smiles in his slumber, when his little fuzzy head nuzzles into my neck and he falls asleep, cooing and making the sweetest sounds, when he sees my face now or hears my voice and I think I can truly see some sort of recognition, when I’ve learned what soothes him and can calm those cries with a song, or a rocking chair session, or my milk. Still, it’s a liiiiittle more like a blind date than love at first sight…we are getting to know each other. Sussing out what we are in store for us with this union. Learning what we can tolerate, let go of, give, what we love about each other, what doesn’t work. There’s the fear of commitment and enormous responability mixed with an eternal love that can’t be explained.

And remember how afraid I was of losing my relationship with my husband? Well I’ve never loved him more. Our household has been a constant (and VERY welcome) stream of help and family and visitors, so we haven’t had a lot of alone time, but holy moley…he has become the head of our household, a caretaker like I’ve never seen, and although we were committed to co-sleeping, we now start the baby in a bassinet and the half hour we have together, in bed, side by side, has become one of the best parts of my day.

The baby was feed and changed and asleep last night at 10pm, my husband’s mom was in town and we were feeling ambitious, so we decided to surprise my husband and show up at his work. When he saw us, his family, he teared up.

Because it’s finally hitting us. This is our family. We are family.

I looked up “family” and the defintion is pretty sterile:
: a group of people who are related to each other

: a person’s children

: a group of related people including people who lived in the past

I suppose this cardboard definition is necessary and the best dictionary.com can do with the “traditional” sense of the word. But what a shame. If you are reading this, you probably understand how little justice these definitions do the word.

I am formimg my own definition and will share it soon as I learn more from this little boy and the big man in my life. It’s bubbling inside me, this deep feeling of awe and confusion and love and sense of forever…

The in-between.

41 weeks, advanved maternal age, babies, change, motherhood, overdue, pregnancy, third trimester, winter baby

I’ve been trying to tell myself the truth about how I’m feeling at 41 weeks. Am I kind-of ok with it? REALLY ok with it (still feeling good, husband is 5 hours away still, and there’s no need for alarm until next weekend)? Super anxious? Over it? Done-cooked-time is up-eviction notice is posted? I tend to feign the latter attitude when people check me out, wide eyed and sympathetic that I’m not a mom yet. Everyone is checking in daily, wondering if I’m at the hospital, if the baby has arrived.

No.

Baby is still a mysterious rolling movement inside my body that occasionally has the hiccups.

Despite seeing a very happy baby during my non stress test a few days ago, my doctor offered to induce me on Monday if I wanted.

As each day ticks on, I’m giving into not just ice cream and turkey sandwiches (been a vegan for over 5 years), but also thoughts like “maybe I’m not ready for this, maybe I want to be childless and I’m a DINK (that’s: dual incomes no kids), maybe my subconscious is scared and holding this baby in instead of welcoming him out, maybe I don’t trust myself or my husband, what is next, what happens after the baby is born, will anyone ever hire me, will we ever have enough money, it’s freezing out we should’ve stayed in California of course baby wants to be in the womb I would stay in there too…”

So then I had a big crying session the other morning. Actually woke up crying. And then after trying to seek comfort in my poor husband who couldn’t do much over the phone, had French toast and fake bacon and felt a little cleansed.

Then, I came across this article

http://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between/

The place of in-between. If you are expecting, in this boat of “baby could come any minute!”, waiting for this new life to arrive, give yourself a few minutes to read this piece. It’s a beautiful tribute to the days, the moments, the space before we, mom and baby, make the transition together.

Ode to My Winter Maternity Coat

40 weeks, advanved maternal age, babies, first pregnancy, maternity clothes, maternity coat, motherhood, overdue, pregnancy, third trimester, winter baby

After a whole summer and fall  wearing the same lululemon leggings, top and cardigan, I was wondering if I’d really have to succumb to buying you. Would you be worth the expense of needing you for only a measly two months? Maybe I could get away with leaving my old winter coat unzipped and using a cozy scarf like Mr. Kravitz?

2ba8c1df0e7a37021cc0d23851401b85-lenny-kravitz-why-is-your-scarf-so-big

I had been living in California for the past five years. I didn’t really remember what “winter” meant in the Midwest. Yes, I had seen the news of the polar vortex last year from my sunny living room while wearing my ridiculous Uggs because it was like, 60 degrees out and felt a little “chilly” in the apartment.

I decided to tentatively search for you on a brisk day at the end of October when the zipper in my XS puffy coat finally gave up the struggle to operate. It was around 40 degrees and I was cold. And scared. Because I knew that soon it would be 45 degrees LESS than what, at the time, felt cold enough.

Still feeling stubborn, I decided to go the craigslist route with buying you. I didn’t need a $150 winter maternity coat. I didn’t think you were worth it. So I spent a few days scouring the “for sale” section, sheepishly searching “winter maternity coat” with a few paltry results in the wrong sizes showing up here and there, but disappearing just as quickly.

Then you appeared. A size 4 Gap puffy jacket. In the grossest, weirdest grey/green/brown color. You were priced at $25. I emailed your owner and began the somewhat dubious, sketchy, always skeptical process of hooking up with a craigslist buyer. The mistrust, the “are you for real”, the “are you someone who I should be meeting at a public location” sussing out, the “will you actually show up because I’ve been burned twice this last weekend” question, the hiding behind an anonymous email address before you finally get a cell number to “text when you’re close and I’ll come outside” god forbid we exchange names or see each other’s private living quarters. After a week or so of back and forth and figuring out when we could make the exchange, which now seemed as difficult and forbidden and spontaneously organized as a first-time college nickel bag pick-up, we had a meeting place and time. There had been so much back and forth that I forgot if your price was $20 or $25. I texted your owner who told me it was $25. I only had a $20 on me, so I could go pull out another $20 at the bank. Did she have change? No. Ok, I thought, still semi-annoyed that was even making this temporary, unfashionable monstrosity of a clothing purchase, how about I give her $20 and we call it a deal? Nope. $25, and she just procured $15 from her husband for change. This was starting to feel like too much effort.

I parked on the crowded Lincoln Park street with my hazards on, and the “I’m here!” text that sent you down to me. Your owner was pleasant and all business, and I threw you on as if you had always been in my closet. You looked brand new, covered my butt, and fit my expanding belly perfectly.

You still do. You still do maternity winter coat that I have grown to love and depend on.

Yes, you’re big, you have a nondescript muddy color, and are ugly as hell. I’ve spilled so much crap down my front that has been caught on the belly area of your facing, and my mom says I look like a mushroom when I have you on, but you’ve been worth every penny. I would’ve paid more for you if asked. You’ve been functional. You still fit so well even though I’m 40 weeks +1 day and am drawing stares everywhere I go (seriously, something happened this last week…every person, ALL THE PEOPLE, can’t help but ask me when I’m due and comment, and “ooooo” and “ahhhh” with wide eyes and open mouths…my body is screaming “HAVING A BABY ANY DAY NOW!!!”). And this morning, when I saw the temps (-3. Yes, NEGATIVE THREE) and thought, “hey, I’m going to try and squeeze into my old winter coat that I know is more technical and warmer than this used GAP coat” and almost threw up because of the squeeze and compression and could feel my baby squirm as if asking me “what in the hell?”…I put you back on and sighed at your comfortable fit, your warm embrace, and you know what? I was toasty, damn toasty, as I made my way to the icy car.

I was wrong to judge, to question your need. I underestimated your extreme value and you know what winter maternity coat? I think I might even wear you POST partum, until the temperature warm up again. And when the time comes to bid you adieu, I will write you the most amazing craigslist add and find you an owner deserving of your worth.

Love, Me.

photo

Things I’ve Googled in the Past Few Days:

32 weeks pregnant, advanved maternal age, babies, first pregnancy, google, husbands, in-laws, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

“What not to google when you are pregnant”

“Will yoga squish my baby?”

“If I lean too much against a counter will I damage my baby’s head?”

“When will my husband accept that there is a real human in my body that will be his son in 7 weeks?”

“Do first time parents ever have sex, ever again?”

“What’s the difference between regular underwear and maternity underwear?”

“32 weeks and something hard as a rock is pushing out my stomach in a sustained position, what is it?”

“For real, what’s the story with vaccinations?”

“Will blinds really kill my baby?”

“Will bumper pads really kill my baby?”

“Do I really need to buy breast pads?”

“Having a newborn during a polar vortex”

“My baby is moving like crazy, can he strangle himself with his umbilical cord?”

“Pregnant and my hair never gets greasy, why can I go 6 days without washing my hair?”

“My mom’s nursery for the baby is nicer than mine”

The Time I Painted the Living Room in My Underwear, and Other Stories about Marriage and Pregnancy

31 weeks pregnant, advanved maternal age, boys, change, first pregnancy, husbands, pregnancy, third trimester

That’s going to be the title of my memoir.

I want to hear from men about going through this pregnancy process. From finding out, to really grasping the concept, the fears, what it’s like to be on the outside looking at this woman who is carrying your child.

Had an interesting few days with my husband this last week. We’ve been trying to not go more than a week without seeing each other, and the long distance will thankfully soon be coming to end. The last time I was in town, we were the cliché couple at the Sherwin Williams store pouring over paint chips, trying to decide the merits of choosing “accessible beige” over “canvas beige”. The guy behind the counter assumed we were home owners, and gave a true chuckle when he heard that no, just a couple of dumb renters, expecting a baby, who signed a lease too soon and are moving into a fixer-upper.

I guess I expected the apartment to be painted when I returned this week. I mean, if I were there, I would’ve had that stuff slapped on the walls in probably 48 hours. My nesting pistons are firing on full steam. I want to see progress: the nursery looking like a place for a baby and not the break room for the camera crew for Sesame Street, our pictures on the walls, everything in its place so we know what doesn’t have a place, a plant or two – some life, some evidence that a family lives in this space, not a frat house on holiday, or Cindy Lou’s home in Whoville with one little ornament rolling around a bare wood floor.

Long story short, that’s not what I saw. Not much had been done, and my husband, the man I love dearly, was in a bad place. He looked like hell (for him…and he’s really good looking). This man that I adore is a creature who needs routine. Getting sleep, working out, eating well…this magic combo bodes well for the rest of his daily life. Substituting sleep for the internet, working out for post-shift beers and a cigarette, and mornings to work on our home for catching up on zzzzzs as the dull gray cloud of an approaching winter starts to set on Chicago…not. good.

I cried. Like, holding my face in my hands cried. Used words I’ve never said to him like “disappointed”. And I suddenly felt more like a mom than a partner, more like a “Wife” than his love. It was shocking…his inertia, this paralysis, this depression…when we have so much to do. The next day, while he was at work, in an act of rebellion and the fire to get things done while my body still feels pretty normal, I painted the entire living room and kitchen, trim, windows, crown molding, edges, two coats…everything. In four hours. He had been adamant that I not paint because of the fumes, but thanks to VOC-free paint (yeah!), my only obstacle was not having any crappy clothes/shoes to wear and not being able to fit into my husband’s pants. So…

October 29, 2014 became the day I was literally barefoot and pregnant, on a ladder, painting the living room in my underwear.

I had tea the next morning with a friend of ours who listened to what I had observed and with total confidence declared “He’s so scared.” And I started to feel bad for the things he had done that maybe I didn’t acknowledge enough. All these questions started flooding in about expectation, and being so focused on myself that I wonder how much I’ve allowed for his experience to enter into our joint equation, and wondering why he wasn’t as eager to make a home for us, with the same urgency that I feel, and on and on and on…

I read this article today that came across my facebook feed, and the headline was “The Three Sexiest Words a Man Can Say”. Those words were: “I got this”. Those words were exactly the ones I wanted to hear, to feel the result of…but here’s the thing: I feel guilty about that.

I’m a woman who has always fended for herself. I have all these female role models in my family who GET. IT. DONE. when stuff needs to be done, who do not hesitate, who move, act, and are always part of the solution. It’s in my DNA to solve problems, to crave results, to keep trying answers until the problem is solved. I cannot rest until all the little boxes are checked off the list. And I should be fine with me being me, and my husband, who doesn’t move at that same pace, being him. Right? And yet the only message I kept hearing in my little, sad head was “if he really loved me…”

There has to be something to this. Now of course I know plenty of men who’ve been heroes all through this crazy 9 month gestation (according to their wives). And I’m married to a great guy. A great partner. But something is there, some resistance, some inability to even put a paintbrush to a wall that symbolizes something much bigger. I want to talk about it. I don’t want to just wish he was the man in the article that says the three words every woman wants to hear. I don’t want to hear my sister say that he needs to strap on a pair and be all about me and the baby (oh, she was staying with us…adding a little public flair to his shortcomings). I want to know how I can help, what’s really going on. Because the men standing on the sidelines of pregnancy are going through something deep, knowing that it’s “the woman’s time”, and that they aren’t allowed to be tired, or stressed, or this or that, because all their “dude you’re a dad” books tell them it’s nothing compared to what their pregnant partner is going through…

Ugh. I don’t know. I haven’t read too much about this. There is definitely lots of internet space filled with women who have really terrible partners who are totally MIA, and straight up a-holes. And of course lots of pinterest perfect husbands who arrive home after a long day work with the perfect treat and gift certificate to a spa. But I haven’t found the women with great husbands who are struggling with fear, who maybe aren’t living up to the expectations set up in the baby books and blog posts.

Looking forward to coming out the other side of this and reporting back.

And to a freshly painted apartment 🙂

Cows

advanved maternal age, boys, first pregnancy, in-laws, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

So my sister has a new boyfriend. He’s great. I like them together. She’s happy around him and I think they challenge each other in all the right ways.

The boyfriend has a father. Who might be a hoot. In all the right ways…or not.

I met father o’ boyfriend in a coffee shop last week. I was NOT prepared to see anyone I knew. You know those days? When you just run out the door and hope there’s maybe a crumb of concealor somewhere in your bag, or on the steering wheel (I sometimes do my make up in the car…but NO MORE!), and you tell yourself that maybe you’ve pulled off the messy top bun with the glamour of Gisele? It was one of those mornings. I ran in the coffee shop my sis works at to grab a delicious cup of decaf joe, and there they were.

The mom reminded me of a tall Nancy Regan, with a polished, beautiful first lady air about her. The dad was in full out Packer gear, and didn’t have much to say. He grew up on a farm in Central WI, and I looked like the Wrecks of Hesperus, so I didn’t blame him for the stone cold expression on his face. Maybe he was imagining that his son could reproduce with my sister, and genetically, their offspring could come out looking like my hot mess of a self.

Of course the convo turned to my pregnancy, and the awkward talk of where it was going to happen and how I was feeling about birth, and  if I was taking Lamaze and yadayada. Talk that’s maybe a little personal for strangers, and I always get a tad self-conscious, like I have to apologize for doing Bradley Method and going au natural.

Then, out of nowhere, pops pops in. And delivers a monologue of advice and observations. Some gems that are seared into my memory:

“You know cows lay down while they labor and when they are about to give birth, they stand.”

“Cows moan, and moo, and below for hours and hours.”

“You know some cultures they would dig a hole in the ground and (*insert a spitting sort of sound*) squat and have their baby right in that hole.”

“I’ve seen dogs, cats, cows, give birth tons of times.”

And my fav:

“Child birth is the hardest thing you will ever do in your entire life.”

I think I laughed a lot, in effort to help the new boyfriend not look so mortified as he hung on to his mom’s chair for dear life. There was some joke as we said goodbye about me only being able to think of cows now when I deliver, and I think I may have hahahahagreedhahaha through my ohmygodohmygodsmile.

Good to know a midwestern farmer sees all mammals as equal: bovine, human, canine…and that he feels my labor pains. From the farm belt to your ears ladies!

My favorite saying

change, first pregnancy, motherhood, pregnancy, third trimester

Maybe most of you know this quote already. A quick google search reveals that it’s been attributed to many people, and turned into a million different pics (memes? it that what the kids are callling that…when you put a word and picture together?), so…it’s out there. But I first heard this when I was getting certified to teach yoga this past winter and have found myself coming back to it over the past few days.

My baby shower was today and I’m feeling very grateful. This baby is already so loved. He deserves only my best thoughts…they will be our destiny.

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