Monday, July 21, 2014

Earth angel, earth angel, will you be mine...

Welp, I think I can safely say "Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray" was one of my more humiliating purchases to date.  If one were smart, one would order this sort of thing online and have it arrive discretely at one's doorstep, preferably with some sort of label that clarifies "this is in no way a witch-hazel spray for easing a painful caboose-stitch, nope nope nope."  But alas, one was not so smart as all that, and instead one found herself in the local crunchy-granola store plopping the milk bottles onto the checkout belt along with the bottom spray for the tattooed pierced hipster dude to ring up.

"Do you want a bag for these?"

"Yes.  Please."

I don't know if he heard the desperation in my voice or not, but at any rate, I high-tailed it out of there.  High-tailed is, just to be clear, a rear-related joke there.  You're welcome.

And there's still one burning question I have about the whole trip.  When I went there, they had a tester bottle.  Like one of those little mini-bottles of the stuff with an obvious TESTER sticker on it.  Who is testing that in the store?  And on what?

At least the stuff works.  I'll give it that.  The name is horrifying, but it works.

(And hey, thanks to that screenshot, not only do you know about the indignities raining down on my life, you also know that when Patrick and I talk about sending off checks for bills, it is always a sexy conversation.  Aren't you thankful for my blog?)

*So not a sponsored post.  Because I have some dignity left.  I think.  ?  And yet, here I am...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I can't think of a hat-related pun

Somebody's a week old (okay, more than a week old by the time I write this)!  I felt the occasion called for a hat.  All important milestones and events in life should have designated hats.  I mean, sure we've got birthday hats, people in the UK have fancy wedding hats (I guess they wear them to their daily tea parties too?  Is that part of Life in the UK?  I envy your fancy hats)...graduation hats (academic faculty are particularly lucky in this regard with their kooky Pope-like regalia)...veiled funeral hats I suppose...but what else have we got?  We need more lighthearted hats for specific milestones.  Consider the New Mother Cloche.  The First Kiss Straw Sunhat (with ribbons).  The First Tooth Beret!  I demand the Debt Repayment Derby.  

Hi.  I am sleep deprived.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Winnie + joy

On Tuesday night Patrick and I attended our infant CPR class with those plastic mannequin babies.  Less than 24 hours later, on July 9, we were back on the same VCU floor where the lady from the CPR class asked Patrick in the hall "What are you doing back here??" to which he replied that I'd just had our real live baby! This was not exactly as I’d been planning since she wasn't due until July 24 -- but I'm so glad she's here! Birth story as follows (if you like those sorts of things...there's a tl;dr version down at the bottom if you want to scroll down!):

Wednesday morning around 1:30AM I awoke uncomfortable, and this uncomfortable feeling turned out to be the start of my water breaking -- it was hard to tell since there was no cinematic gush.  One of the tabs left open on my laptop was “how to tell if water breaks” if that tells you anything.  I dutifully called the midwife, who confirmed it sounded like water breaking. Was I having contractions?  No?  Okay, just call her in the morning and sit tight for now.  So, sit tight I did, and I ate an English muffin and had some chai tea while Patrick ran out to CVS. Patrick is great, and I love him, and think I will keep him. ;)

Around 2:30, I started feeling bad period back-y cramps.  Nothing horrible, just unpleasant.  They were about ten minutes apart.  Dutifully I consulted another Google tab I'd end up leaving open ("what do contractions feel like") which told me these did sound like real contractions.  I slept a little through them, but not much.  I timed things on my contraction app, and around 6am woke Patrick to let him know I was pretty sure things were progressing.  My contractions slid closer together. Doula was notified & midwife called back.  

“Try to stay home until they’re 2 1/2 to 3 minutes apart,” she reminded me.  “Okay,” I said through my teeth as a contraction hit near the end of the call.  Still, I was feeling pretty chipper, though I bemoaned the horrible, harsh reality that we never did grab a collection of my favorite popsicles, thinking we still had time.  At some point I emailed my boss to let her know I wasn’t making it in that day, and could she please email the library director because I had a meeting I was supposed to go to with him that day. And also I had library program supplies in my car...and how could I set an Outlook away message if the county was blocking our outside access to Outlook? This, instead of, I don't know, thinking about throwing stuff into the hospital bag... priorities!

Around 9am the contractions were about five minutes apart, and Cindi, my wonderful doula, arrived at our house.  By that point I was in a lot more pain.  Luckily Cindi came bearing rose aromatherapy, which worked surprisingly well considering my sinus stuffiness that I’ve had since January.  She also came with snacks and other goodies.  Basically, Cindi is amazing and I love her.  Bring me a banana and a birthing ball and apparently I’m yours.

By 10:30 my contractions had been about 4 minutes apart for a while, and things HURT.  “I feel like a wimp,” I remember saying.  I mean, duh.  Of course they hurt.  I knew they’d hurt.  But they huuuurt.  Cindi called the VCU midwife clinic (for clarification, my midwife clinic is located in the large teaching hospital in my city, so kind of best of both worlds for me) and tried to secure one of their rooms with the jacuzzi tub, Patrick grabbed some more items for the hospital bag that was only half packed, and we were on our way.  That car ride?  No funsies.  Ditto the wheelchair ride up to L&D.  My face was feeling tingly.

Slooooooowly the nurses checked me in and I signed paperwork I didn’t read then flopped back in the wheelchair and got wheeled to my no-jacuzzi-tub room because apparently everything else was full DAMMIT.  Whoever had that room was on my shitlist, let me tell you.  There went my vision of hot bath as pain management, my one “if they don’t do epidurals, at least they have the tub” mantra blasted to bits.  But, I tried to be optimistic.  The room I got did have a shower and by god I was going to get in there just as soon as they checked to see how far along I was.  Which, please hurry up because ouch.

Apparently one of the nurses told Patrick when we got there that we’d probably be there about 24 hours, but their tune quickly changed when my midwife checked me and found that I was 7 centimeters dilated.  Suddenly they were puttering less.  So I wasn’t being a big weenie wimp after all!  I was actually pretty far along! Also ow!

The next hour and a half I spent in the shower (Cindi, bless her, lit the bathroom with Christmas lights -- these are wonderful wonderful wonderful for the dim lighting and the senses).  Cindi was like the Galadriel of doulas, bringing little lights for dark places.  The shower was magic.  Contractions weren’t so magical, but nobody said labor was going to be fun.  (Oh right, a month or so ago one of the midwives said, “It’ll be fun!”  I knew she was bluffing.) Apparently (again according to Patrick, since I wasn't really paying attention) I kept the nurses giggling by my stellar comments between contractions, usually things like "It hurts. That's the most obvious thing in the world to say, I know." I come fully accessorized with jokes, as usual. Nice to know I was still me.

Then came 25 minutes of pushing aka hell on earth. According to Patrick I only primally screamed “fuck” about six or seven times, which is impressive since it felt like I said it a lot more -- I think most of what I "said" was more primal-scream-to-scare-everyone-on-the-L&D-floor than primal-yell-a-real-word because holy hell that hurt...soon they were all like, you can feel the baby's head, and I was all, NOPE NO THANKS NOPE. They were trying to show me just how close it was to being over, but I wanted nothing to do with the carnage going on down there, thankyouverymuch. Ignorance is bliss and I aimed to keep it that way.  

Crowning is NO JOKE without drugs.

And then, there she was, and there was no more pain. She was here. Perfect. Beautiful. Strawberry-red-haired. Crying. Here.

TL;DR version: 11 hours of labor if you count the non-impressive first hour without contractions and just the water breaking (10 if you skip ahead to contractions actually starting). No drugs, no popsicles, no tub. I ended up laboring in the actual hospital for only roughly two hours.  Turns out even if I’d gotten one of the tub rooms, it would have taken an hour to fill, so....I hope whoever got it enjoyed it.  I type that only slightly begrudgingly.

Then I ate some hospital french toast. 

I’m not at all biased when I say I think Winnie* is the prettiest most wonderfullest little baby ever.  Even if her perfect ginger hair blondes out (ohpleasedon't), she'll be tops on my list. ;) She will always be tops on my list, for everything, ever. She is perfect and beautiful and ours, ours, ours.

Sitting here as I type this with afternoon sunlight pouring in, my baby sleeping swaddled next to me, my husband comes up from behind to hug me, this is a small slice of perfect.  I know things won't always be this perfect, but in this moment, they are.  I've never felt more content.  This is joy.  Finally.

...Born bitter as a lemon but you must understand that you've been bringing me joy. And I'll only lie when you don't want the truth. I'm only frightened 'cause you finally gave me something to lose. And it's as loud as a thunderclap but you hear it too. But you've been bringing me joy. [Interlude] Deep inside the heart of this crazy mess, I'm only calm when I get lost within your wilderness. Born crooked as a creek, didn't come to contest that you've been bringing me joy...

*I'd love to share her full proper name/middle name, because obviously it is as perfect as she herself is, but for the sake of privacy, we'll go with just Winnie here.  Or maybe Freddie.  That might happen, too.  Hmmm.

Monday, July 7, 2014

3.21 Carry

Photo by nineminutes, used via Creative Commons License

I recently fell into the black hole of babywearing wraps/carriers.  It makes a lot of sense for those able to do so, but it is an expensive endeavor, this babywearing!  Typical woven wraps range from $80 to $300 (for a safe, tested, quality wrap made by professionals).  We were lucky to be gifted an Ergo (thank you Lauren!) and a Moby (thank you Ame!) so I'm holding off on any woven wraps for now, in part because of the pricing!  Even if you peruse used woven wrap forums, they're reselling them at new or close-to-new prices.  While this may seem reasonable given the cost of strollers (also a form of expensive baby-carrier) I think the sticker shock is worse with the wraps because it's a piece of woven cloth.  Granted, it's woven cloth that's designed to hold a baby's weight, not just a swath cut down from Jo-Ann's necessarily, but it's still a relatively high bar of participation, especially if you have other more urgent expenses.  For me, this is no big deal -- it's an item I want, but for others, there might be more of a need, and yet, there's that ugly cost barrier.

But now, there's a solution for those who could use a wrap and may have those other more important expenses on the line.  The Maiden Metallurgist and her husband have started a non-profit called 3.21 Carry.  Their goal is to provide babywearing carriers to parents and caregivers of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs at no cost.  They take woven wrap donations, in addition to monetary donations.

When I first dove into the babywearing stuff online, I used The Maiden Metallurgist's Babywearing on a Budget post as a guideline.  I've followed her blog for a few years now and have always enjoyed it, so she was my natural go-to for that information.  Seeing that she's working to make babywearing accessible to more people brightened my day a little, so I wanted to share in case others would want to know and pass the information along too.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Weekend recap theme: Win some, lose some.

Tried to save money.
Scored Craigstlist Baby Bullet!
Dropped phone in river.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


I am so sorry I don't have a cute nickname for you.  People have asked if I do, and I feel a bit chagrined when I say, no, not really.  No cute "Bean" in residence, I'm sorry to say.  Mostly this is because most people come to the Bean nickname by way of that first ultrasound where their babies look like, well, beans.  In my case, the first time I "saw" "you" you were one of two blobs squeezed from one tube into a second tinier tube and flickering for five seconds on a large screen, amorphous, just one of two tiny blobby possibilities, five days into the whole "becoming a person" process.  (I'm sorry your shipmate blob didn't like their womby accommodations enough to stick around, by the way.)

It just felt mean to call you Blob, though.  I think you'll forgive me.

I'm also sorry I haven't been reading you books in utero.  Apparently I'm supposed to be doing that, judging by the questions and the "Oh..." answers when I say no, I hadn't thought to do so.  I figure you've got a lifetime for books though.  You're rather stuck with them, given that I'm a librarian.  For now, I figure I'll let you rest up.  I have an epic reading list waiting for you whenever you're ready.

Mama?  I don't have a nickname yet, either.  So on this, we're rather even.

Friday, June 27, 2014

How to scare a pregnant lady with mail

This book is kind of really-good and kind of really-horrifying.  It needs some trigger warnings!  Also, almost every story is "How I failed to get the natural birth I wanted" which is good and nice to have realistic voices, but also kind of repetitive after a while.

Life is moving, but at a weird pace.  I'm reading tons of books and yet feel like nothing will really prepare me.  I met the 36-week benchmark, which makes me feel good, since according to my mom I was born a month early, and I would very much like to avoid that happening to Winnie, thankyouverymuch.  

Of course, it sure seems like the universe is conspiring to make me go into stress-induced labor sometimes.  For example, I got a surprising letter from my insurance company saying I owed $945 for a blood/glucose test.  There are so very many WTF's to be had about that whole situation -- the cost for *that* routine test (a couple vials of blood, some sugary Tang...?!) being that much, the fact that I was being told the pathology lab in the same system as my midwife clinic was inexplicably not a participating care provider with my insurance, the fact that the insurance company's website said it was "approved"... it was enough to give me a heart attack.  However, upon calling the actual insurance people, I discovered that this is their new routine with the pathology lab: send "explanation of benefits" notices that scare the pants off people, but then never actually send a bill, per some weird billing agreement they have set up.  So yeah!  If anybody wants a spontaneous induction, I suggest getting a test run through my teaching hospital's pathology lab, because when you get that letter, at minimum you'll wet yourself.

So that was fun!  We're also still trying to get in touch with my old landlords, who are very actively avoiding us, since they owe us a deposit back.  Fun times there!  I really hate renting because we have to rely on so many other people to get shit done, to fix the boards on the deck that was never weather-sealed (were never sealed...was...were...I'm going to say was, and that'll agree with the singular deck...), to paint over things like A BLOOD STAIN ON THE WALL (I swear this is a Thing in my current house, oh my god), and create the home we want to create.  And get money when it's owed!  However, I don't think we'll buy anything again for a while.  I'd rather pay down current debt, and set aside money for possible IVF or adoption stuff in the future, since we know now we can't necessarily own here *and* do that (or, you know, summer camp for the kid, if we decide we're done after one...given the gamble that is IVF/adoption, that's a distinct possibility).  Lesson learned!  So, we grit our teeth with renting and its various headaches.  Better to learn from the lessons we've been taught.  I'm kind of done with chasing some things, and home ownership is something I'm willing to let fall by the wayside if it means making decisions that have a greater net benefit for us down the road.  But man I'd really like to paint over these stains on the walls...  But hey, less owning = more travel money, in addition to paying down debt, saving more, etc.  So, there's that.  People say renting is throwing away money, but for our particular situation, not necessarily, if you look at it the right way.  I just have to focus on the good rather than the sucky.  

At the end of the day if I can come out on top by saying, hey, I didn't have to pay $945 for some Tang and a needle in my hand, AND I got some boards on my deck replaced (blood stains, you're next...), AND I haven't gone into early labor...well, I can't complain that much, right?  

Onward and upwards, as they say!  Tally ho!