Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Rewind: Evolved or Unresolved?

"Gotta go back in time" ~ Huey Lewis and the News

So last year around this time I resolved to evolve and aspired to be a better version of myself. Although oh so much has happened in 2011, it still feels like the fastest year yet. When I wrote that post, I had just found out I was pregnant but hadn't gone public yet. I was trying to embrace this unexpected gift more than anything. Of course we were happy, but surprises can be, well, surprising. And she turned out to be the best surprise I've yet to experience.

Q's year proved to be eventful as well. Aside from becoming a big brother, he started preschool, which had its ups and downs. Overall, it's been great for him as he's embracing a world beyond himself, making friends, and learning through lots of play. He also had a health scare (well, more for his pregnant mama than for anyone else) and lots of bumps and bruises throughout the year that were fortunately not too scarring. He's growing so fast and turning into a little boy, which is freaking me out and making me proud and freaking me out all over again.

T and I tried to go with the flow of this very pregnant year, but my hormones often got in the middle and stirred up some insanity. Fortunately we're stronger now for it. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

On the "take more and better photos" front, thank the app gods for Instagram.

All in all, I do think I have evolved a bit. I feel more like a grown-up than I ever did. I feel like my family is full and wonderful. But there is the unresolved bit as well. Like patience. I really need to work on that one A LOT more. And I need to be kinder to myself. I want to cherish more and complain less. But we shall see. Venting here can be so therapeutic. It's all about balance in the end.

And so I wish a very balanced, peaceful and happy new year to you all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mamasay Memories: Making Spirits Bright

"May the sunshine on you, may the sunshine on you, may the sunshine on Terri, may the sunshine on you" ~ my family

Today would be your 60th birthday, Mom. If you were still around, we might be throwing you a big party. But I know you'd prefer to keep it low-key. I wish we could go to the movies with Dad and Danielle. Maybe you'd want to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Or maybe we'd watch The Help at home because when I read that book I knew it would so be your cup of tea. I wish we could get you an ice cream cake and then lay around on the couch together after. With the hectic pace of the holiday season, you always wanted to relax on your birthday. And now that I'm a mom to two in the midst of the holiday season, I truly understand why.

As I sit her sipping some tea while not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse (I'm a mouse and I'm stirring!), in front of the Christmas tree typing this, I'm attempting to unwind just a little bit. Remember how you always recalled us telling you to "chill, Mom" when we thought you were getting overly anxious about something? Yeah, I'm the one who needs the chill pill now. If only we could laugh at this freakin' circle of life together. I miss your laugh. It's probably the most genuine laugh I've ever known.

Even though your birthday was a mere two days before Christmas, you never made a big stink about having to share your day. In fact, you loved the holiday season. You and Dad hosted Christmas Eve for your side of the family every year and did it so well. Everything about that night, year after year of my childhood, brings to mind warmth, comfort, and -- can't help myself -- joy. I'm hoping to carry on your tradition as I'm now hosting Christmas Eve for Toby's family, Dad and Danielle, and of course my two. I hope that Q and Z think about that special night at their own home every year with the same fondness. Without developing my obsession with chips and dip.

Happy 60th Birthday, Mom. Wherever you are, I know you're celebrating with Gram and other loved ones. I wish I could be with you. But I have a pretty good notion that you're here with me anyway. So, thanks for helping to make my spirit bright just when I need it most. Love ya 2 and a half.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting Cozy with Q and Z

"Every day will be like a holiday when my baby, when my baby comes home" ~ William Bell

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Probably because my parents made it extra special for me and my sister growing up, and my dad adores all of the little things that go into making Christmas bright. (Literally. Dude loves to decorate. ) But it has changed in so many ways for me in these past couple of years. We no longer have my mom around, which is obviously tough to say the least. But I now have children of my own to create holiday traditions for. While sometimes it's hard to get into the spirit, especially when other life stuff (nanny hunting, job limbo, refinancing, speech therapy, etc.) collides with what is already a hectic time of year, Q and Z allow me to find the joy in the season once again.

Our holiday card photo

How can I not feel blessed when I look at these two beauties? Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Farewell, Fourth Trimester: Zoe's 3 Month Day

"Sometimes we find if we think with our hearts, we can read between the lines" ~ Bonobo feat. Bajka

Hey baby, it's been a beautiful first 3 months with you. Not without its challenges, but beautiful nonetheless. It's with mixed emotions that I bid adios to your newborn days. I've read that the first 3 months of a baby's life are essentially the 4th trimester, and I truly felt that with you, Z. You were most content when held close -- a place where you could hear heartbeats and soak in our warmth. But as you grow more aware of your surroundings, you're happy to observe. You can sit and stare at newfound friends, like your hands, or watch us from afar. You adore sitting on a lap and looking out at the world, but you still are most calmed by being walked chest-to-chest.

Your smiles now evolve into hiccup-like giggles, and your entire face beams and you turn coyly into your shoulder. Such a flirt already. With you and your girlfriend-loving big bro, we're in big trouble.

You love the bath and hate the cold afterwards. You are not shy about letting us know that you're uncomfortable. Tummy time is not your favorite, although you have started pushing your head and shoulders up like the strong girl I know you are.

You slept 9 straight hours the other night and I woke up wanting to do the dance of joy a la Balki Bartakamous. Thank you, my little love!  Now if you could just keep it up, mama will have a much better chance of staying sane. Speaking of losing my mind, I'm doing my best to teach your big bro to be gentle with you, but despite a couple of scratches, you're smitten with him just the same. You are thrilled to see him every time he crosses your line of vision.

I'm in love with watching your personality blossom more every day. But as you're starting to outgrow your sling, I already miss you peeking out from your swaddlings. It'll be great to have a little more freedom of movement, but I'll always cherish these precious days of snuggling.

Happy 3 Months, Z!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fed Up with "Failing"

"Oh my god, I'm stuck in the same position" ~ Cults

Why must I continue to give myself a mental smackdown every time something goes wrong with my children? Is this the curse of mothers -- to constantly feel like it's my fault, like I could have done something to prevent this? Like I'm not cut out for this parenting stuff? Or perhaps it's just the curse of this blog. It is named Flyrish Foibles after all.

The latest issue arose at Q's preschool parent-teacher conference. His teachers believe he is lagging behind in his speech development. And it totally makes sense that they'd notice this. I think I got used to him falling behind in all of his milestones since he was a tiny thing (not crawling until 13 months, not walking until 17 months), so the fact that he wasn't using full sentences didn't concern me too much. But then I noticed how his 19-month-old friend seemed so close to his verbal level, and while she is somewhat advanced for her age, it still made me take note of Q's speech. And now that his teachers are recommending a visit with a speech therapist for an evaluation, I know it's more than just a hunch. So of course my first thought was where did I go wrong? Have I not been speaking clearly to him? Have I been letting him watch too much Yo Gabba Gabba? Did I pass something on genetically that has disrupted that part of his brain development?

Ugh, the self-blame and feelings of guilt are exhausting. And you know what? I'm sick of beating myself up. My kids are clearly my priority. Isn't that what matters when it comes down to it? If they weren't at the forefront of my brain 98% of the time, then there would be at least a couple more fashion and music posts on this blog, yes? I am so done with feeling like a failure of a mom.

I want to do everything I can to give Q the tools to succeed in life. I will take him to a speech therapist if that's what he needs. We will do all we can at home to foster his verbal skills. I'll stop with the "kind nums" and call them fruit snacks. I'll study up on bettering our communicative skills. Hell, I'll learn to freestyle if that helps. I'm not going to be one of those parents who thinks her kid will just grow out of it because I'm in denial that there's a potential problem.

Enough with the wallowing in the muck, little piggy. It's time to accept myself as an imperfect mother who loves her kids above all else. The flaws, the mistakes, the foibles only make me stronger in the end. I'd rather focus on how to move forward.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thank You, Thanksgiving: A Gratitude List

"So I want to stop and thank you, baby." ~ Marvin Gaye

This is almost a week overdue, but hey, such is my life lately . . .

Z enjoying a cold Marzen with Dad

Thanksgiving came at the perfect time this year. While it seemed to appear a bit faster than expected, I needed the reality check. In all honesty, I've been getting bogged down on the little hardships of adjusting to this new life every day. T and I have been exhausted, Q has been doing whatever it takes to make sure our eyes are on him, and Z has been, well, pretty angelic actually but of course she contributes to the exhaustion. So, thank goodness for Thanksgiving. A time to reflect on all that I have to be grateful for was much needed.

Q the piano prodigy at my grandfather's house on Tofurkey Day

1. I have two healthy, happy, beautiful children. What the hell is wrong with me? I should never complain about anything anymore.

2. I have a husband who loves me and our babies. He works hard and, even if I wish he were around more, he's doing it ultimately for all of our happiness and comfort. Thank you, lub!

3. I have an awesome extended family, many of whom live nearby, both blood relative and in laws.

4. I have thee best group of friends ever. Even if we don't get to see each other as often as we like, I know they are there if I ever need them and I love them like family.

5. I have a job when so many people don't at this time. I work with the most understanding, compassionate people who I am so lucky to have in my life. I miss them while I'm on maternity leave.

6. Because I have said job, I have enough decent clothes to last me through the season. Even if I would love some Frye boots but can't quite justify them.

7. Food. I'm so glad I have some. Thanks.

8. Wine. Just one glass will do. Thanks.

9. DVR. I dislike most commercials, especially at this time of year. And I get to watch my guilty pleasure shows while nursing Z after Q's tucked in with the limited time I have to "myself." Thanks.

Okay, this is starting to get silly. But I really am grateful for all of the above. I may be part of the 99% when it comes to finances, but I feel like part of the 1% when reflecting on the wealth of love in my life.

Thanks to those of you who are still reading. Hope everyone had a yummy and bountiful Thanksgiving in every way!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Stop Reacting and Start Responding

"Where is my mind?" ~ The Pixies

Isn't it great how when you decide to implement some new parenting tactics your children present the very challenges you need to test them out? That was sarcasm, by the way. I feel like I'm losing my mind lately, what with Q's antics seemingly getting worse by the moment and my exhaustion from being tied to a newborn 24/7. Forget that new love, Jody Watley. I'm lookin' for a new mind, baby, a new mind.


A new parenting book crossed my path and I thought it was worth a review. Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be was written by parent educator and mother of two Sharon Silver, and hey, I'm all about becoming the parent I want to be! I found it refreshing that she admits her book includes some familiar parenting tips, but she gives a fresh perspective and re-frames them in a way that is easily accessible. And don't we busy parent folk all need some easy access when we've reached the very limits of our patience? I know that's where T and I have been lately. The book is divided into 15 thematic chapters around various issues that may arise, from "Frustration" to "Out in Public" to "Travel," with each of the 108 tips arranged accordingly within said chapters. Each tip also has a "Quick View" section at the end that summarizes the tip for -- you guessed it -- quick viewing. You can flip easily to a section and -- bam -- super simple referencing. Which is especially great for T who isn't a big reader (let's just say the last piece of literature he dove into was a Fantasy Football magazine).

Silver addresses her advice to parents of children who range in age from 1 to 10, and I found a great deal of helpful tips throughout for our almost 3 year old. There were definitely a few that I skimmed over since I didn't find them relevant to his maturity level or what we've been experiencing. Fortunately the author does specify younger vs. older children for certain tips. One of my favorites is #53. Mistakes ~ Tender Teaching which addresses how we can respond as parents to younger children who make mistakes and need to learn the right way to behave, which is oh so relevant to us right now. She helped me to realize that yelling about what Q shouldn't have done doesn't accomplish much -- it's much more effective to talk about what he should have done instead. And to use smaller words that he'll understand, which, hello, makes so much sense. He's only semi-verbal at this point, and when upset even less so.

I'm also looking forward to implementing tip #61."Freeze" ~ It's Not a Game Anymore that suggests using the word "freeze" in dangerous situations when you need your wild child to stop. Q has had a couple of close encounters with cars on the street and running after him with Z in her sling is no easy feat. So we played freeze dance for the first time the other day, as suggested by Silver, and now he understands what freeze means. Next time we play I'll tell him that "freeze" also works when mommy or daddy need him to make still like a popsicle to avoid danger.

But there were a couple of tips that I had a hard time making sense of. The suggestion to take a picture of your child when he's behaving well and one when he's behaving poorly to reference later, with the example of one when he's playing nicely with his sister and one when he's hitting his sister, seemed a bit crazy. Would I run to get my camera when Q is going all Rocky on Z? Um, no. And of course Q has been on a hitting streak lately. I searched through the book for something specific about hitting and didn't come up with much. I suppose some of her more general advice about focusing on what he should do instead could work to curb the slugfests, but I would have appreciated something more specific.

Overall, I found this book very helpful. I think I can continue to reference it for many years to come. I like that she speaks in simple terms, like she's a good friend sharing her wisdom with you over the phone. And like one should when receiving advice from a friend, you take what applies to you and your family and make it work. It also made me feel better to read that she doesn't think parents who feel they need some coaching are bad parents -- in fact they are great parents for wanting to be better.

I know I beat myself up a little too often regarding my parenting skills. But just like Q is learning how to behave in this crazy world, I'm learning how to be a mom every day. Z will be a toddler before we know it and I'm hoping to be a bit more prepared. This mom gig is my most important work and I want to study my craft. I want to be better. Hopefully Q and Z will want to be better, too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Slings and Smiles: Zoe's 2 Month Day

"Won't you smile a while for me?" ~ Hall & Oates

You turned 2 months old on 11/11/11 and I'm running late, having had skipped your 1 month day post entirely, due to very minimal "me" time. But that's okay. You and your bro are sort of worth it.

I have taken on a whole new level of attachment parenting due to you, Z. You're happiest when held close, so you hide out for much of the day in your sling, stretching your neck to say hello to the world when it suits you. You like to fall asleep to the sound of Daddy's heartbeat. And while you start out in your bassinet next to our bed every night, you end up cuddled close to me. Yes, we're co-sleeping and that's what seems to be working best for everyone at the moment.

Peeking out from her sling
Can you tell she likes leopard print?

You started smiling a couple weeks ago, and getting you to grin has become my favorite activity. You do so with an open mouth and crinkled eyes and even attempt to laugh. You are trying so hard to communicate and even charmed the doc with your cooing. Yes, you will be a talker. I'm looking forward to lots of long chats with you, my love. But in the meantime, smiling will more than suffice.

Some say you look just like Q, while others say you're very much your own person. I see both in your various expressions and moods. I do know your personality is very much your own so far. You let us know when you're uncomfortable and you aren't thrilled when playtime ends abruptly. You are needier than your brother ever was, but I can tell you're going to be hitting some of those baby milestones a bit sooner than he did. I have a feeling you will be just as social as Q.

There's so much more to say and so little time to say it. Happy 2 Month Day, baby girl! You are the most fun.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Battling Big Brother Blues

"Brother, brother . . . war is not the answer" ~ Marvin Gaye

Q is a big brother now. How has he adapted to this new role? Pretty darn well, considering I expected the worst. He adores his baby sister and always wants her around. He loves to give her hugs and kisses. Which is awesome. Except when he uses the full weight of his body to do so. Still, awesome. He wants her to come along even when I tell him it's special mama and Q time. Clearly he loves Z with the weight of a thousand toddlers. That is his MO -- hug 'em till it hurts.

But he is definitely feeling the change in the household. He wants to sit on mama's lap and have mama do everything for him, even if three other people are offering to help. He wants both mama's and daddy's attention desperately, even if that means throwing toys and screaming like a maniac to do so. Somehow it's worse when both of us are home and I swear we rarely fawn over Z in front of Q. In fact, we typically go to him first if they're both fussing about something. He just knows that his world has shifted and that he isn't the center anymore.

When Q is asked about his baby sister, he lets them know, "baby cries." Sometimes he likes to mimic her cries at an even louder volume, which only amps up the baby more, and then we have a super fun headache-inducing situation. Or I have to feed her and despite my attempts to distract him with toys, snacks, or TV, he wants to sit on mama's lap which is near impossible. He has a meltdown. Z has a meltdown. Guess who melts down next!

Sometimes all is right with the world, though. Z naps through lunchtime and Q and I have a chance to chat and giggle together. Z is cozy in her sling while we play cars and trucks and things that go go go. I feed Z while Q plays quietly (well, not yelling at the top of his voice at least). He is happy with this new household for the most part. But I know it's a struggle. More like an adjustment of epic proportions. Oh, the transition!

I'm writing this mainly to remind myself that it's not just me and T who are challenged by adding another babe to the pack. Sure, I never have a moment to myself anymore, but I understand that it's only this season of our lives. Q's ability to understand what's happening is not quite at the same level. I'm sure it's not easy for him to see me with Z always attached, whether by boob or by carrier. He knows that she sleeps in our room every night and he has yet to insist upon spending the night there too (knock on wood). So, I'm trying to cut him some slack. I try to make special time for us. I try to follow all the advice I've read about helping your toddler adjust to the new baby. But there will always be those bad days along with the good and it's simply part of us growing as a family.

The lovely moments are worth every owie along the way.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How 'Bout that Halloween

"Love is kind of crazy with a spooky little boy like you" ~ Dusty Springfield

Last night was Q's first proper Halloween. He got to hit the town when the sun went down and bother the neighbors for all of their "kind nums." He was in awe. I've never seen him so quiet. Even after a couple of days of rehearsing the whole trick-or-treat scenario, he didn't say trick-or-treat or thank you even once that we could hear. He just followed the throngs of costumed children to each door and waited his turn. Regardless of his silence, he had a blast and one neighbor even gave out his favorite fruit snacks -- the OG kind nums in Q's world.

Z stayed wrapped up in her carrier and snoozed, but on our way home I saw her peeking out with wide eyes at the dark night sky. "It's Halloween," I whispered to her. Her little ladybugy eyes shined up at me.

"More chocolate!" Q-bot demanded.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Really Reflux?

"No more fussin' and a-fightin', baby, hold me tight" ~ Johnny Nash

My poor baby bird. While she has taken to breastfeeding beautifully, she has not taken to digesting breast milk quite so well. Fussing after many feedings, especially in the evening. Forceful spit up, sometimes up to an hour after she's eaten. Shrill crying and squirming as if in pain. It breaks my heart to see her suffering.

Healthy cheeks, yes?

I now realize how easy we had it when Q was a newborn. He hardly cried and was content to snooze almost anywhere. And breastfeeding him was fairly simple, despite my forceful milk letdown and oversupply issues. We got through that rough patch once I understood what was happening and then it was smooth sailing. Essentially we were spoiled by his serenity.

So, I'm now in the process of trying to figure out if she just is extra sensitive and needs some time to let her digestive system mature or if it's GERD or if it's a milk protein allergy. I've been trying to not eat dairy, but whoa mama, that is not my bag, baby. I'm already a vegetarian, so being a vegan (except for eating eggs) while nursing is no fun at all. I'm a hungry hungry hippo as it is. And all of this stuff that shouldn't have dairy in it does (wheat bread made with nonfat milk? really?), so I've "cheated" quite a few times. She seems a little better, but again, is her system gradually maturing or is it something more serious? I just can't figure out what it is and I have a couple of weeks until her next doc appointment.

Oh, and I did call her pediatrician a couple of weeks ago about all of her spit up and discomfort and she didn't seem too concerned since Z is gaining weight well. She said it could be that I have a forceful letdown, which is true. I mean, my milk can gush like a fire hydrant and I hear her gulping and gasping sometimes. Apparently that creates gas and bubbles and can be pretty uncomfortable for her. So, I've taken the doc's advice on dealing with that and perhaps that's helping.

But then she has a rashy face and that could be a sign of a milk protein allergy. Or is it just a heat rash? It's been pretty warm in the Bay lately.

I've talked to a couple of experienced mamas who have had babes who shot milk across the room after nursing or who were medicated for reflux, and it was something they just grew out of. So, is my baby really suffering that much? Is this just par for the course? Am I torturing myself by taking a major food group out of my already restricted diet?

Yeah. It's so much fun being indecisive me. 

I just want us all to be healthy and happy. A baby who ceases with the binge and purge and a mama who isn't starving herself trying to figure out what she can eat. And a daddy and a big brother who aren't distressed by baby's cries, for that matter. For now we're keeping her upright as much as possible. For now we're doing a lot of babywearing, which she seems to love (shout out to Baby K'tan). For now I'm assuming that she will grow out of this phase and her system will mature. Please let that be the case. Mama's having pizza tonight.

Mamas, have your babies had reflux or a milk allergy? Please share your story and tell me everything will be okay. Tell me I'm just on minimal sleep and maximum worry, as is typical of the mama of a newborn.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

9/11 Rewritten: Zoe's Birth Story, Part 2 of 2

"Pretty bird, pretty bird, we've been waiting on you" ~ Jenny Lewis

So the night wore on and I stalled out at a not-quite-ready 8 centimeters. I was getting through my contractions and they were coming every couple of minutes, but my body was tired. We were not having a 9/10/11 baby. Plus, they had to wait four hours to give me another dose of Penicillin, so they wouldn't break my water until then. Felicia reminded me of how fast I went last time when they broke my water, so we knew that would make things really happen. The nurse suggested getting moving again, but my body felt so tired. It was getting late and I started to realize how much the time of day impacts labor. When Q was born, it was a time I still would have been up and about. But all I wanted to do was rest, so I got on the birthing ball for a little while, drank a ton of ice water, went pee a gajillion times, and then got back in bed to sit as upright as possible.

As soon as my IV was done, we asked the doc to break my water. Once he did that, it was on. And I mean ON. It sent me right into transition, and my contractions were getting more intense than I ever remembered experiencing with Q. They were on top of each other and I went into survival mode. I felt overheated and overwhelmed. Off to the bathroom one last time and I got nervous that I would have the baby right there on the toilet. Felicia talked me through it and fortunately I made it back to the bed. I managed to tell them I needed to push. Now. They called the doc and we hear that he also had twins that were just about ready to be delivered. Oh hells no, I thought. This baby wasn't going to wait for some other mama to deliver twins! I couldn't vocalize it because I was trying not to hyperventilate. The nurse said she'd be able to deliver the baby if need be. Um, yikes?

The doc appeared a few minutes later and quickly prepared to deliver the baby, letting me know that I could start pushing if need be. And I did, even though it made me nervous that they weren't quite prepared to catch LL. Either I have a selective memory about Q's birth or this really was a more intense delivery, because, whoa, there's something giant coming down through that canal. The pressure was ridiculous. But I pushed like I've never pushed before. I let out guttural moans as I pushed, which surprised me because I was pretty quiet through most of my contractions. And even though the moans were helping me feel better, apparently they weren't helping baby come out any faster. "Okay, now a push without any sound," said the doc. Moments later, the doc asked for one last big push and a couple of small ones, and that baby was just about out.

"Okay, here she is, come deliver your baby!" I looked down at her glorious face and pulled her out and up toward my chest as she let out fervent cries. She looked absolutely perfect to me. Just beautiful. Even though she was crying and breathing rapidly and covered in goo. They let me hold her for a lengthy amount of time as T cut the cord and as they talked about my 2nd degree tear and as I delivered my placenta and as the doc stitched me up. I didn't care about any of that because my little lady was in my arms. Finally. At 3:27am on 9/11/11.

They eventually pried her away from my vice-like grip to put her on the scale as the nurse commented on her healthy size and predicted 8 and a half pounds. Gasps all around as she weighed in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces. How the heck did I push that not-so-little lady out of me?! No wonder the pressure seemed unbearable. No freakin' wonder I had 2nd degree tearing.

She was having trouble nursing as her breathing seemed labored, so they just said there seemed to be extra gunk in there that they wanted to get out. She also had to have her blood sugar tested since she was over 9 lbs and ended up having low blood sugar, so they sent her off to the nursery with T in tow. They told me to try to get some rest, so suddenly there I was alone in a dark hospital room. I was overwhelmed with adrenaline and love and exhaustion and worry, so I lay there in a half asleep state that I kept startling out of. When the nurse finally came back and assured me that the baby was fine and was given a bit of formula for her low blood sugar, I felt more at ease.

We were transferred into our postpartum room with our new bundle to get settled in. With nary a wink of sleep all night, the sun started to rise on 9/11 and T and I were left to contemplate her name.

"So,  Zoe then?" I asked T, knowing what he would say.

"Zoe." He answered, tired but confident.

Zoe means life in Greek. What a perfect way to give new life to a day when 10 years ago so many lives were lost. Thank you, Zoe, for blessing us with your precious arrival and for giving us such a beautiful association with 9/11. Oh, happy day.

Here is Part 1.

Monday, October 10, 2011

9/11 Rewritten: Zoe's Birth Story, Part 1 of 2

"Get thy bearings, know your time. Don't you worry, weather's fine. All the world knows what I'm saying." ~ Donovan

I woke up on that Saturday morning disappointed yet again that I hadn't gone into labor the night before. I was tired. I was anxious. I was ready to meet my baby girl. I had a nonstress test scheduled for Monday and I could only hope that she would be born before I had to worry that something could be wrong with LL getting overcooked inside me. Or that she would be too big to birth naturally (a little foreshadowing for you). I cried alone in my bedroom and looked up toward the sky and asked my mom for help. If there's anything you can do, Mom, please help me!

I felt a bit better after that and decided that I would walk around and do some window shopping to get my mind off of the constant is-this-really-labor-or-just-more-damn-Braxton-Hicks?! Q stayed at home with his Nan while T worked on the French drain with his dad (his version of nesting apparently), and I headed to Bay Street. I walked around, belly button protruding, with occasional contractions that were starting to get more cramp-like, but I paid them no never-mind. I looked for some fall fashion inspiration for when I no longer carry this baby around inside of me. I didn't find much for me, but I did find some adorable jammies and hats for baby girl and a tee for Q. When the salesperson asked when I was due, I told her I was due last Thursday and thought maybe baby was just waiting for me to buy more clothes for her (more foreshadowing). I went home feeling refreshed and continued to get BH's but nothing regular.  Well, until later that afternoon anyway.

I was so hesitant to believe that it was really happening, but I started to get this nervous energy. The anticipation and excitement I remember from when I went into labor with Q. Contractions were becoming more regular and slightly stronger, so I paced the house. T kept Q occupied while I began to time my contractions. They were starting to come about 8 to 10 minutes apart and lasting just under a minute. By about 5:30 we called T's parents and they came to take Q to dinner. I wondered if this baby would be a 9/10/11 baby because I was supposed to go faster the 2nd time and, hello, pretty cool birthday, right? But I also realized it was very likely that she would be born on 9/11. While I realize how much pain and negativity is associated with that date, I immediately told myself that she would be the light amongst all of that darkness. That at least there would be something positive associated with that date from now on. In any case, I was mentally prepared for whenever she arrived.

After texting our doula and then giving the doctor a call (and finding out that my OB was out of town and that another doc from her group would be on call), we decided we could wait a bit more before heading to the hospital. We ate a little something and got everything ready to go. By about 8:15, my contractions were only 3 minutes apart, though they still didn't feel unbearable to me, but the closeness of them made me decide it was go time. I looked up at the sky and noticed that the moon was just about full. I laughed to myself, remembering the old wives' tale that many mamas go into labor on a full moon.

Photo by Brandon Doran

We got to the hospital a little after 8:30 and found that labor & delivery was super busy that night (full moon, hmm?). We had to wait for a space in triage, but once in there, it didn't take long for them to see that I was 4 cm and about 70% effaced. Phew! I was so relieved to know that it was really happening and I'd be meeting my baby girl soon. Real labor! No more Braxton Hicks blue balls! Felicia was on her way and my dad wanted to be there, too.

In our labor & delivery room, Felicia created a calming atmosphere with a string of white lights and began to massage my feet with a lovely lemon verbena lotion. This time we got it together to make an actual playlist, so we put that on and I blissed out to some of my favorite relaxing tracks -- well, I at least felt somewhat chill in between contractions as I sat there with an IV of Penicillin (Group B strep positive again). Things were moving along, but not as fast as expected, so Felicia suggested we go on a walk when my IV was done. And as soon as we did that, the contractions started coming harder and faster. So we only walked for about 20 minutes or so before returning to my room . . . where the contractions slowed down again.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

MIA: Flyrish Fam Time

"Mother's young gal, hold your belly" ~  Desmond Dekker

Sorry that I didn't get it together to organize some blog posts or guest bloggers during Z's early days. Some other mom bloggers (with newborn twins, no less) give mamas like me a bad name -- not that I needed their help or anything. But I have so much to write about and I will get back to it eventually! Here's a glimpse of what we've been up to in the meantime.

 Tears at preschool (mostly Q's), fussy evenings, golden big bro & baby sis moments, milk drunk smiles, baby acne, heat rashes on both babes, first rain of the season, spit-up showers, overgrown hair (mostly Q's and mama's), babywearing, red wine reunion, visits from good friends and fam, and utter exhaustion (mostly mama and T).

And yes, I'm working on Zoe's birth story, so if I get some extra time (ha!), that will be coming soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Family of Four

"I know my eyes already like you, baby you. I know that love is, love is found." ~ Sade

Surreal and so real. That's how life feels at this very moment. Hazy days fade into blurry nights and back again. Yet I am in it. I am a mother of two in our now family of four. T and I were talking about how good it feels to be here. To have our family complete. We believe we are done. Now I'm not saying this will never change, but I'm pretty sure that two kids fulfill us.  It's a beautiful feeling.

It's the next season for our family. And it's only the beginning. The first episode of the season, if you will. Z is just over a week old. T went back to work. Q is in preschool twice a week. And I am home trying to juggle my new motherhood. And I only have two wee ones to juggle, but it still seems daunting. I won't deny that I'm scared. That I wonder if I'll be able to handle this reality with grace. How do people do this every day?! But for now, I am managing.

Z's newborn scents have invaded the house -- fresh baby skin and sour milk spit-up intermingle with sandy shoes from the park and Q's favorite fruit snacks meld with Elroy's not-so-pretty kitty mishaps. They seem to go well together. It's far from perfect, but it works. This new aroma at Guido.

More than ever, I am grateful for our family and friends who are so generous with their time, with their donations of food, and with their love for us. We are beyond lucky. Every visit, every text, every Facebook post, every email means so much to me as I face this new frontier. It truly makes the transition from mama of one to mama of two that much easier, and I'm pretty sure T feels the same way on the daddy front. Life with a newborn can be so isolating, so I'm trying to hold on to this outpouring of love and remember that it takes a community to lift up this family of four.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introducing Zoe Danielle

"Finally you've come along" ~ CeCe Peniston

She's finally here! We are fully in the newborn + toddler whirlwind, so just a brief update for now and a more detailed birth story later.

Zoe Danielle was born in the wee hours of 9/11/11 at 3:27 on an almost-full moon. She weighed a healthy 9 pounds and 4 ounces at 20.8 inches long. Already aiming high with a 9.9 APGAR and made her presence known immediately with lots of vocalization.

Q is fascinated by his baby sister and wants to pet her head all the time (gently, very gently). I'm recovering from pushing that monster of a baby out of me, but otherwise feeling pretty good all things considered. Zoe is such a doll and I just love to watch her sleep. I know, I know -- I should be resting, too. So, with that, nigh-nigh and see you all in a bit!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Scholarly Son

"Oh no, I gotta go back to school again." ~ Grease 2

Well, we made it. Q officially started his first day of preschool. He practically pushed me out of the door, telling me "Mama, go." I had a hunch that he wouldn't experience separation anxiety. There's just way too much to do at his new school. A ton of trucks and musical instruments and art projects. Endless outdoor entertainment. Even the baby dolls intrigued him. I was just in the way. So, after one last kiss and hug and Q almost to the point of rolling his eyes at me, I walked away. Other kids were crying and clinging to their parents, so I felt a mixture of pride and relief . . . . and then . . .

I've been so focused on this pregnancy and the any-minute-now arrival of LL that I forgot to anticipate how I would feel upon leaving him at school for the first time. My heart started racing and proceeded to drop to my stomach. I panicked. My baby boy is in school and I won't be there! What if they can't get him back inside for any of the more structured activities? What if he scratches his teachers like he's been doing to us when he's not ready to leave whatever he's doing?  What if he realizes later that I'm really not there and starts melting down? I had to remember that he's in good hands with experienced teachers who have seen it all. And that all of this will be good for him. He will learn so much. And so will I.

So, I got into my car and drove to the store, reminding myself that I wouldn't have many mornings like this in the near future. A couple of hours all to myself. Baby girl must have sensed my need to be there for Q's first day and the benefit of some alone time afterward. Thank you, little love dove. You're going to be a wonderful sister.

And to you, my big schoolboy Q, you make mama so very proud. Your curiosity and passion for life are inspiring. I know you will thrive in school. I'm incredibly excited for your new journey, the beginning of your education, the friends you will make, what you will bring home with you. This next step. The world is yours, Quincy Kye. Drive on.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

39 Weeks: Final Countdown

"Will things ever be the same again? It's the final countdown" ~ Europe

Patience, oh patience, wherefore art thou, patience?

This virtue is eluding me as I am well into my 39th week of this pregnancy. A place I have never been before. So, I guess I can look at this waiting period from a different perspective -- this baby girl is giving me a new experience. One in which I have to work on keeping myself in the moment and enjoying our family of 3 for a bit longer. But it's a challenge. Growing discomfort, fluctuating emotions, constant trips to the bathroom, intense pressure, a dwindling amount of clothing that covers this belly. And every Braxton Hicks raises my hopes that I'll be able to meet LL face to face in a few hours and give her a real name, only to be met with crushing defeat when they stop. T suggests we name her Braxton.

I'm in a constant battle between wanting to try different tricks to induce labor, from having my OB strip my membranes at my last appointment on Wednesday to talking walks, and attempting to just let myself relax and go with the flow. The walks are actually good for both bringing on more contractions and for making myself feel better. But I have to admit that I wake up every morning feeling a bit disappointed that another day has passed and true labor has yet to begin. And when I think of her possibly coming several days late, it seems like an eternity to wait. Perhaps there will be a time when I look back at this and laugh at myself for being in such a rush. Or want to smack myself.

When I think back to my attitude during the last weeks of Q's pregnancy, I wish I could recapture that ease and positivity. His coming 10 days early was such blessing, and he was a healthy 8 pounds 3 ounces, so he was obviously ready for the world. I hadn't become impatient and I was so excited to experience labor for the first time. Truly. I had very little fear. I wanted to meet him desperately, but I was enjoying my maternity leave. The day before I went into labor I had lunch followed by yummy ice cream at Fenton's with my parents and then went to a movie that night with my dear friend Autumn. So, of course we went to Fenton's last night for dinner. I then attempted to watch a movie On Demand while T dozed off, but I was too uncomfortable to really enjoy it. Or maybe it was the movie that sucked.


Maybe this girl needs a little more chub on her. She's not quite baked yet. Or maybe she'll be here tonight! I need to chant a mantra to myself. I need that easygoing way back again. Be in the moment. Be in the moment. Be in the moment. Be in the moment. Be in the moment . . .

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Missing Mamasay: No Contraction Can Compare

"It's been so lonely without you here, I'm like a bird without a song" ~ Prince 

I've lamented a few times about how emotional and hormonal this pregnancy has been. Is it because I'm carrying a baby girl this time? Is it due to the warmer summer days and the resultant swelling? Is it because I'm also parenting a rambunctious toddler while trying to care for myself and the little one inside me? Perhaps all of these elements play a part, but I think one of the main issues this time around is that my mom is not here to share this experience with me.

I try not to get too sorrowful and Debbie Downer on this blog, but sometimes it feels good to release some of what I've been going through. It's one of the main reasons I write -- it's my therapy. And hopefully in the process I can connect with others who may relate. So, what is giving me the most pain right now? It's not the Braxton Hicks and general discomfort that I've had for the past few days. And I'm sure it won't be the actual labor and delivery of LL. It's missing my mom. 

Sure, she was very sick when I was pregnant with Q. She wasn't quite the super strong mama I had always known. But, she managed to be the major source of support for me that she always had been. That did not change due to her illness. We talked daily. She shared her mama wisdom. Or she just listened in her absolutely attentive way. She helped me prepare for his arrival, from gifting us Q's changing table to supporting our use of a doula to advising me it might be a good idea to take a week for ourselves after the baby is born. She consistently gave great advice without being pushy about it. I miss that terribly.

But when I wish that she was still here, I allow myself to fantasize about her healthy self being here. It's much too selfish of me to wish she was still here, suffering through her cancer. I wouldn't want that for her or for anyone else. I try to rejoice in the time I had with her. That she was able to at least guide me through my first pregnancy and meet her first grandchild. But sometimes it's not easy. I want to cry to the heavens above and plead with her for some help. Mom, I need you! This pregnancy business can be such a lonely one. And how ironic, I know, to be carrying another being inside of you and feel such solitude. So I dream of her in full health, playing with Q, lending me her arms, and simply understanding.

I've decided that my mom will be my focal point to get me through labor this time. I will think of her bravery in her fight against cancer. I will think of her enduring strength. I will miss her. But I also know part of her will be with me during one of the most important moments of my life. When the pain seems too much to bear, she'll be holding my hand.

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's a Q, Q Summer . . .

" . . . now you're gone" ~ Bananarama

I finally managed to upload a bunch of pictures from our camera, so here's what Q has been up to this summer. Just a bit of gardening, visiting local parks, swimming, and hanging with friends. I feel a little guilty that we haven't done more this summer. No real getaways. But hey, I have this baby baking business as an excuse. Next summer will be different. In many ways.

I can't believe it's almost over. The last summer of Q. Soon to be the fall (and many seasons to come) of Q and ??

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bumpin' the Bump: Pregnant at a Concert

"How many tons of love inside, I can't say" ~ Sade

This Saturday we have plans to go to the Sade concert (with John Legend opening) here in Oakland. We bought these tickets almost a year ago -- before I was pregnant or knew that I would be extremely so. Sade is one of my all time favorite singers and I've been looking forward to this show for quite some time. What I want to know is . . . do I have to fight for the right to bump my bump? Will people judge me for being 8+ months pregnant at a loud, crowded concert? Do I care?

Well, mostly I'm just curious. I'm going, so obviously enjoying this concert is more important to me than what people think. But I wonder what will go through other concert-goers' minds when they see this belly that has everyone thinking I was due yesterday.

Thinking of wearing this maxi dress (from Target)

Also, it could be an opportune moment to play one of those pregnancy jokes I wish I had the gumption to go through with. Like when some stranger comments on my pregnancy, act like I have no idea what they're talking about. Or talk loudly with a friend in the bathroom about how I feel like I should get this lump checked out in my stomach. Or be the one to order all of the drinks for my group of friends just to get a reaction. Or surreptitiously spill water between my legs and cry out "It's go time!" Oh, how I wish I had the lady balls.

What if I really do go into labor at the Sade concert? What an awesome story! And then she'd have to be named Sade, right?

In any case, out of all concerts to go to at 38 weeks pregnant, I'm thinking this one would rank near the top. It's not like it will be this earth-shattering, raucous event. Sade and John Legend will only woo this baby into the world with gentle, soulful, swaying rhythms. And what better way to become acquainted with the sounds she will be surrounded with for a lifetime.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preschool Parenting

"Teacher, there are some things that I still have to learn" ~ George Michael

Q starts preschool in just a couple of weeks, and it's the best of timing and the worst of timing . . . all at the same time. I know he's excited and ready for this new adventure, and it's only two mornings a week to start. But with the new baby coming, I don't want him to feel like we're pushing him out of the house. As in "we've got a better model now, get your little booty to preschool!" One preschool teacher friend told me that I should hope that she comes late so that he'll be off to school first and won't associate it with the baby's arrival. Another preschool teacher friend told me that Q starting preschool is the perfect special, big-boy activity. Like he's got something just for him. I'm of course going with the latter school of thought. Or I'm trying anyway.

Leading up to the actual first day of class, there are a number of events for both the parents and the students. We've already attended our new parents orientation. This weekend we're going to a little meet and greet with the other families in his class at a local park. The following weekend there's a parent work party to help spruce up the school. And the Thursday before school starts, there's a "get acquainted" day at the school so the kids can see their classrooms and meet their teachers. What I like about his preschool is that, although it's not a co-op, there's a ton of parental involvement. I'm looking forward to getting involved, but right now it's tough to imagine how much time I'll have to give with a newborn. I so want to be a good preschool parent. I want Q to know how important his school is to me, and I want the staff and other parents to know I'm not some slacker. T said I should plan to get more involved next year and that folks will understand why I can't do more now. I guess he's right. But in the meantime, I'm attending all aforementioned events. We'll see how the rest of the year goes.

I'm trying not to get too stressed out about the fact that LL's due date coincides with Q's first week of school. If we had better planned for this pregnancy, then we wouldn't have thrown two major changes at Q at the same time. But I feel in my heart that he will love his preschool. There are so many cool activities, great teachers, so much time for free play, and he loves to be around other kids. Still, I don't want my focus on LL's impending arrival to take away from his milestone. My baby boy is going to preschool!

Parents of preschoolers (now or in the past), how did you help your kids to prepare? How did you adjust? What makes one a good preschool parent?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

36 Weeks: What the What?! Already?

"Got to be there in the morning, when she says hello to the world" ~ Michael Jackson

I truly can't believe it. I'm in my last month of pregnancy. How did that happen? All of a sudden I feel like labor day could happen at any moment which is somewhat terrifying. I'm maniacally trying to stock up on supplies, finish up LL's nursery, and wrap things up at work -- Monday is my last day, phew. I haven't been very inspired to blog in my free time because I've been freakin' exhausted, going from sitting to standing makes me short of breath, and my swollen hands are aching. I'm just a barrel of fun right now. Get it? Barrel?

More of a torpedo actually

Anyway, I know I'm due for an update before my actual due date hits. This may or may not be the last pregnancy update, depending on how these last few weeks go. Even though I'll be off of work, I have Q's potty training to tend to and a few other items to get to scratchin' off my to-do list. Plus, somehow we have plans every weekend for the rest of the month. I don't know what's wrong with us.

So, at 36 weeks . . .

Fruit/veggie size: Crenshaw melon 

How baby is doing: She's head down and making her way downtown. She enjoys leaning to the left side and making her mama look all lopsided.

How I'm feeling: Have I mentioned that I basically have carpel tunnel in both hands due to all of this extra fluid? I have wrist braces that I wear when I sleep or when I'm on the computer (well, I should be wearing them right now), but I've also done a couple of contrast baths which help relieve the aching and stiffness tremendously. Otherwise, definitely feeling the pressure of her moving lower down but still not able to eat very much food in one sitting. I certainly try, though. Also, I'm 50% effaced as of this past Tuesday.

Cravings: Chocolate, but that's nothing unusual

Aversions: People who blurt out commentary such as, "Whoa! Twins?" or "You look like an apple!" or "How many weeks pregnant are you again? You look about 50 weeks." (Seriously, people have uttered these exact words to me.)

Looking forward to: Meeting with our OB group at the hospital and tour of labor/delivery unit on Monday night. Even though we've been there done that, I'd like to get a little refresher and see if anything's changed in the last couple of years.

P.S. You know what cracks me up? How tiny that woman looks in my pregnancy ticker on the right.