Where does the time go?

It's been six weeks since my last post.  A what a jam-packed six weeks it has been.  Sadly, I don't have time to write about all that has gone on right now. Why?  Because I am leaving for 10 days tomorrow.  Me, my mom and Libby will be headed to Seattle for 10 days.  I have a work an annual work assignment at our international convention and this year we decided it would be best for all involved if Libby came with me.  So my mom signed up to watch after her the 10-12 hours a day I'll be working.  But it'll be worth it to see her in the evenings and snuggle and nurse all night long.  Daddy will stay home with all four dogs and the cat and pretend he's a bachelor again!  Well, not really.  He actually has to study for midterms.  But he'll surely enjoy some pizza and beer, no doubt.

So...I promise more of an update on all that's happened in the past six weeks and really, this summer, once I am home.  For now...here's a quick rundown...job woes, degree options, sprinting crawls, sharp teeth, and hundreds pumpkins.  Yep.  That about sums it up.  More details coming soon!

Home is where the heart is...

I've been a bad blogger. This summer has been so crazy and so many unexpected things have come to pass that I cannot keep up...

On Sunday we returned from a week long vacation in California. It started with a cousin's wedding in Beverly Hills, two nights at my-best-friend-since-the-third-grade's house in Alta Loma followed by a six hour drive north on Highway 5 to my twin brother's house in Tracy. While we were all at the wedding his plumbing backed up and flooded his house! What a nightmare. His babysitter (who was watching four kids at the time) managed to clean up the worst of it, but he and my sister-in-law returned home on Monday and did the rest of the dirty work. When we arrived on Tuesday evening, there was a wrecking crew there taking out floors and drywall and installing huge, industrial fans and dehumidifiers. We stayed one night and decided to move on to our BFFs place in Modesto. They just welcomed their second son in July and have a two year old. We stayed in their cozy guest room for three nights and then returned to my brother's for one last night before heading to the airport at 4 a.m. We landed in Tulsa at 6 p.m. and by then had sore throats. Not good.

Monday I went into work for 5 hours and then came home early so J could go to class (since my mom is still on vacation, visiting her sisters in Oregon). I got home and spiked a fever and had chills as well as achy joints. Libby had a runny nose and was feverish too. We climbed into bed and napped and nursed off and on from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. J has a scratchy throat too and was feeling run down as well. We turned in at 9 p.m. but were up all night with Libby. I finally conceded to sleeping with her in the rocker/recliner in her nursery. At 8 a.m. I fell into bed while J got her ready to see the pedi. Turns out she has a virus that needs to run its course. I assume J and I have the same. I stayed home from work today to rest and hopefully kick this bug! It sucks that the price for a week away from home is coming back sick. Libby is 7 months and 6 days old and this is the first time she's every been ill. So sad. Hopefully it'll pass quickly.

Our week in California was a whirlwind. We crammed in as many visits as possible and Libby met a ton of people...she loved every moment! She's SO social. She slept like a rock each night from all of the activity which impressed upon us that we need to do more with her, here at home.  Speaking of home, Sunday, when we arrived in Tulsa and made our drive into midtown to our neighborhood I actually felt like we were on our way home.  Weird.  It's taken two years for me to feel that way.  Before, I felt like going to California was going home and although being there feels SO familiar and comfortable, it didn't exactly feel like home anymore.  I do not miss the crazy traffic and hectic pace there at all.  And the smoggy air either.  I do miss the people though.  My brothers and best friends.  I will I could get them all to move here!  Thankfully, my mom is here...if she weren't I know I'd be more homesick.  So...for now, Tulsa is home. It's our daughter's birthplace.  And where we'll be for some time.  That said, I cannot wait until our next trip to California.  Maybe for Libby's first birthday?  We shall see.

A Couple of Firsts

After three months of drooling, gnawing, and general malaise Libby finally has something to show for it!  Not one, but TWO little pearly whites poking through her front, lower gums!  I felt the first one, on the left, on Sunday.  And today, the second one popped through!  Ah, my baby is growing up!

And tonight, she said "mama!" Loud and clear.  We've suspected we've heard it a time or two in the past (in fact J and my mom SWEAR Libby entered this word saying "mom"), but tonight, during dinner, she reached for me from her high chair and said, "mama."  Clear as day.  And then said it again and again!  I started to tear up...my baby!  Saying "mama."  Just the first of a million, trillion times to come, no doubt.  I mean, I am nearly 36 and still call my mom "mommy" most days.  Well, usually in private.  In public, she's mom.  But still.  It was sweet to hear Libby's "mmmm" roll into a long "ahh" and then a fast set of "mmm...aaahhh" blurt out right after it.  Of course, I tried to capture it on my dying 4.0 pixel digital camera (that'll capture 60 seconds of grainy video) and "ERR" kept flashing on the display.  I think it's finally died.  So what did I do?  Used my cell phone, on speaker, to call my house phone and capture Libby's first "mamas" on our voicemail.  Yeah, I am a dork. And obviously in desperate need of a Flip Camera.  Like yesterday.

Speaking of dinner and the highchair, it's been about four weeks since we started baby-led weaning (or child-led solids, which is more descriptive of what it actually is...).  Libby is doing great!  She's getting into it more now that we have a little routine down.  She's still pretty much in the touching and tasting (and squishing and flinging) stage but actually has consumed bits here and there (as there are tell tale signs in her potty)! She's tried quite a few things (all have been organic, unless noted with a [*]).  We usually slice them into 2-3" stick shape or wedges and most things are baked, roasted, grilled or steamed:

sweet potato♥
apple sauce (no sugar added)
plain yogurt
Baby MumMums*
Happy Baby Puffs
whole grain bread, toasted
rice pasta
grilled pork chop*
grilled chicken thighs*
turkey meatball*
scrambled egg yolk

She loves to dine at the table with us and even though we can only do it as a family four times a week (brunch on the weekends and dinner on Mondays and Tuesdays), it's so worth it.  Otherwise, she eats with me or with her daddy.  I am so glad we've decided to do BLW, especially since I am certain Libby would not have use spoon feeding her mush anyway. She's way too independent for that!

Overwhelmed With Love

Sometimes, when I look at my little one, I am so overwhelmed by my feelings of love that it brings me to tears.  Like tonight, as I rocked her...the tears just came as I watched her drift off to sleep.  It used to worry me...the fact that I could cry so easily.  But I know realize that it's okay. Tears don't always mean sadness.  And as much as laughter and a smile can express my joy, something about crying is also a release of the love that swells inside of me.  I have always been sensitive to beauty...be it art or music or poetry or a moment...like tonight.  And it brings me to tears.

A lot of parenting feels overwhelming...the love, the wonder....and the frustration too.  Like last night.  Libby just didn't want to sleep.  We rocked and nursed and snuggled and had white noise and she would fight the entire time. Then, she'd finally give in, fall asleep and then the dogs would bark and she'd be wide awake again!  This went on from 6 - 11 p.m.  I think she finally just passed out due to sheer exhaustion! And I was exhausted too!

My mom is away for two weeks and I am realizing just how much she's been a help...a savior...to us in these first six months of parenthood.  When I get home from work, she'll play with Libby so I can get something to eat and get out of my work clothes.  If I give Libby a bath she'll help me get her dried off and dressed.  These "little things" all add up to a tremendous amount of help and also to some balance for me.  She's home in the daytime too and helps J a lot as well.  I always knew that we were incredibly lucky to have her living with us right now, but this time apart just reaffirms it for me.  And I am so grateful that my little girl is developing a very special relationship with her grandma and that my mom is here to help me as I learn to become a mother.

Lately, I have been feeling restless...some things have changed at work and that has led me to reevaluate my path.  It's a good thing, even if it was prompted rather unexpectedly by circumstances beyond my control.  And as I think about our future, I am opening my mind up to all of the possibilities that exist...even the ones I am not even aware of at this moment.  Five years ago I never, in a million years, would have imagined that I'd be married, living in Tulsa with my mom, my husband and our baby.  Never.  So who knows where we'll be in the next five years?  Not me.  I have hopes and dreams, but won't fully know where we'll until we get there.  And that's okay.  A little overwhelming.  But okay none the less.

First {Half} Birthday!

Libby is six months old today.  Half a year.  Already. Wow!  Where is 2010 going?  I cannot believe that six months ago we had this little, tiny newborn girl and today she's a big, healthy baby getting ready to crawl!  She's developing SO fast!  In the past month she's learned to sit unassisted, is grabbing at EVERYTHING, scooting to get what she wants, reaching for people and pets, tasting food and |thisclose| to saying "mama."  She also continues to teethe like crazy and still, no actual teeth are in sight! Poor little.  She's fiercely independent.  And extremely curious.  She's also got a hot temper and a silly sense of humor.  She just loves to laugh!  And squeal.  Loudly.  What can you expect?  She's the daughter of two opera singers!

I can barely remember our life before Libby...isn't that weird?  I mean, we've been together almost nine years, so obviously there was a lot of life together before she came along.  But these past six months...I don't know...it's as if our life together before her seems like ancient history now.  And sure, we can get caught up in the day-to-day stuff like, "Did she poop today?" and "We need to wash her diapers" or "What time did she go down for a nap?" and "She needs new clothes, these ones are too small!"  but through it all we are so in love with our baby girl.  And more in love than ever with each other.  Watching her grow and change these past six months is nothing short of amazing.  What a miracle a new life is.  And how blessed are we to be her parents?  She has made our lives so much richer. 

I know that these next six months will fly by as fast as the first and soon we'll be celebrating her first birthday.  Wow.  And to think this time last year she was about the size of a plum!  Now?  She's a tall girl already...I figured she would be since I am 5'9" and her daddy is 6"3'. She's headed into size 24 month clothing.  I am not kidding.  Her 18 month size things are getting quite snug, both in length and width.  I doubt we'll be finding any cutesy item that says "Baby's First Christmas" in her size come December.  I try to find things that fit but are age-appropriate...especially developmentally appropriate.  She's not even crawling yet, so we need things that allow her freedom of movement and aren't binding at the waist...not an easy feat when most things her size are styled for toddlers.  Luckily, it's still hot so she wears one-piece bubble rompers or onesies most of the time right now.  When it turns cooler, I hope she'll fit into the one-piece Carter's outfits we have for her in 24 months size.  After that?  I suspect she'll be wearing 3T, which means no more diaper-friendly snaps in the crotch.  Oh boy.  Maybe once she starts crawling she'll slow down a bit on the growing, but I doubt it. And I think Santa need to bring this girl a basketball hoop.  Seriously.

New Stuff

I have totally been slacking on updating the blog.  Work has been insanely busy and we had about a week of Libby not wanting to sleep.  I think due to teething (again) and developmental strides.  Thankfully, the last few nights she's settled back into a routine of going down for the night without a problem.  I swear, I thought we might kill the blow dryer and break the rocking chair last week!

Libby's high chair arrived last week and it was a snap to put together.  It's a Keekaroo Height Right Chair.  We got it with the tray and cushion set:

The only thing "wrong" with it is that the warning label and logo were upside down on the parts.  Perhaps that's why I got such a deal on it from Overstock.com.  We paid less than $200 for it...similarly designed Svans and Tripp Trapps go for much more than that, so I am glad we found this deal.  We definitely needed to get something that she won't outgrow since she is tending to be WAY off the charts in height and weight for her age.  We just moved her into size 18-24 month clothing this week and she'll only be 6 months old come Sunday.

She loves sitting in her chair and started joining us for meal times.  She's tasted a few things but has yet to really eat any food.  That's okay with us and definitely part of baby-led solids anyway.  Thankfully she's still nursing like a champ and my milk supply is as strong as ever (despite taking a hit last month due to stress).

We also got rid of her adorably cute but oh so impractical Bebe Lace Green rug.  I love the design of it but it's impossible to keep clean even though we are shoe-free household and I vacuum it religiously. It seems to just attract dust like a magnet!  After three months of use it was looking really shabby and not in a chic way. It wasn't cheap either and I am frustrated that a rug specifically designed and sold for children's rooms is so difficult.  So, it's off to the cleaners to see if they can do anything for it and in its place are these awesome foam tiled squares.  We got them in pink and white (one set of each color) for $49 from GetRung.com.  They shipped quickly and were so easy to lay out and snap together.  I put them in a checkerboard pattern (trying to echo the patchwork quilt on the daybed) and although they're not as "shabby chic" as my adorable yet filthy area rug, they are super cute and better still, super functional.  Libby loved them immediately...she felt the texture of them for a good 20 minutes.  And when she topples over she doesn't cry because they absorb the fall (unlike said chi-chi area rug, even with a pad)!

We are also preparing to take our first plane ride with Miss Libby and have decided to lug our Graco32 and Snap 'n' Go along for the trip.  I wasn't comfortable renting a car seat and bringing our own seems to be the best solution.  That said, she HATES being in it on the Snap 'n' Go because she'd rather sit up when she's strolling (we usually take her for walks in a second-hand Schwinn Jog Stroller that I got for $30), but we're bringing it anyway to navigate the airports on our travel days.  We also got a J.L. Childress Ultimate Carseat Travel Bag to protect the car seat since they can get pretty beat up even when they are gate checked. 

And I finally got an Ergo!  We went with the Ergo Sport in black since it's supposedly a better fit for larger/taller parents and cooler fabric for the baby.  I tried it the other day and the jury is still out on whether or not I like it.  Libby seems sort of squished in it, at least when she is in front.  I have yet to try a back carry with it.  I have 30 days to return it and well, I am just not sure about it.  I think I prefer wraps.  I really, really want a Storchenwiege (Anna) or Vatanai (Koira) but they are pricey, especially because I want to get the longest size.  So, maybe in the Fall I will have the funds to get a woven wrap.  Libby seems to like being wrapped as well and I love that there are so many versatile carries that can be done with a wrap.  Wovens are supposed to be very supportive which is essential since she's over 20 lbs. now.  I wish there were a babywearing group or MeetUp here in Tulsa so I could meet other parents who wear their babies and also see/try out different wraps and carriers.  I might just have to start one up...I see moms from time to time out and about with their little ones in ring slings or mei teis, so I know I am not the only one in town!

Catching Up

June 2010 was a very rough month...I cannot get into all of the details (since you never really know who might be reading along) but I will say that it was quite challenging, both personally and professionally.  I have learned that tomorrow is never a guarantee and just when you think something might be solid and long-lasting you find out that it's not.  The reminder is difficult to accept, but I am working on it and moving forward... lately, I've been asking myself, "what do I want to be when I grow up?"

You'd think at nearly 36 years of age I'd have answered that for myself some time ago.  And for the most part, I have.  But professionally speaking, I am in limbo right now.  And faced with 20, 30 or maybe even 40 more years of earning an income ahead of me, I want to chose a path that will be rewarding, both personally and economically speaking.  I already know that being a mother and raising children will be the most challenging and rewarding job I ever have...if only there was a way to earn an income for being a mother!  I read somewhere that if moms were paid a wage for all that they do, they'd make something like half a million dollars a year!  I know that money isn't everything, but I think it is easier for those with it to say that.  And I am also aware of how abundant my life is, yet I still have goals that only financial security will buy...like becoming a home owner, helping my children through college and someday, becoming debt-free.

I was always told, "with hard work and determination you can be whatever you want to be."  And for the most part, that has been true.  But there is a point where even if you work hard and are determined, there are factors beyond your control that can affect the situation as well.  And those factors can be difficult obstacles to overcome.  So, for now, I am embracing an attitude of gratitude for all that I have in my life and opening myself up to the possibilities beyond what I already see.  I have been feeling "old" lately.  I mean, my baby cousin is getting married in a month, my baby nephew is a teenager now and my baby girl is nearly six months old!  How does this happen?  Time is just racing by!  And before I know it, I'll be 40 and then 45 and then 50 and have a teenager of my own.  What will I be doing then?  Will I have gone back to school (for yet another degree)?  Will I have started (yet another) business?  I have no idea.  And that troubles me right now.  I hate the in-between, limbo of not knowing.  I've never been good at it. So I am trying to just be in it and not fight the unknown right now.

Aside from this personal turmoil I've been, Libby is continuing to develop at lightening speed!  Infant pottying is going amazingly well and most days we don't have to change a poopy diaper because she goes in the potty.  She's getting ready to start solids...we've had her at the table with us during meals and she's had her first tastes of banana, mashed potato and hummus.  I ordered her a highchair today so that we can start putting food on her tray and letting her go for it.  I am excited that we're going with Baby Led Weaning (although I prefer to call it Child Led Solids, since she really won't be weaned for at least another 6-12 months...)  She is still teething like crazy but there are no signs of actual teeth just yet.  She's started making new sounds, like "mmmmm...." and "ooooohhhh" and I am hoping to hear "mama" really soon.  Now that she's been sitting unassisted for a couple of weeks she's learning to scoot on her bottom towards things.  It's really cute.  And so it goes...time is passing quickly and my newborn is now a curious little baby.  Witnessing her growth is priceless and being her mom is worth more to me than all the money in the world.

Breastfeeding Jesus

I love this...it is from one of my favorite bloggers, Dr. Momma at Peaceful Parenting:

I have been reflecting a lot lately on my nursing relationship with Libby as we near the sixth month and are thinking about the beginning of weaning through the introduction of solids.  She's been showing signs of readiness...most recently sitting unassisted, on her own (just one day shy of her fifth month birthday):

I am so glad we've made it this far and that she's thriving on just my milk.  At five months old she's 21 pounds and 27 inches long...it's quite amazing.  And when I am stressed or tired nursing calms me as much as it does her.  I am a little saddened to think that soon she'll have more options besides her mama's milk and sometimes wonder if she'll develop a preference to sweet potatoes or bananas...but my goal is to nurse her for at least one year.  If she wants to go longer I'll keep it up as long as we can.

First (non-furbaby) Father's Day

Yesterday was a great day.  J was off work and it was nice to be home as a family doing what families do on any given Sunday.  It's a rare occasion in our household for mommy and daddy to have the WHOLE day off together.  We slept in and finally got up and had a nice breakfast of bagels with lox and coffee.  J opened up his cards from me and my mom and Libby and was happy to receive new "daddy gear"...two pairs of cotton, lounge pants (his favorite) and a funny t-shirt that says, "I like a big rack" with a drawing of baby back ribs grilling on a kettle grill .  The double entendre is quite fitting given my current status as a nursing mother who before pregnancy was already a 40E.  Whoa mama!

Speaking of grilling, yes, J made his own father's day dinner.  Let me preface this by saying the man LOVES to cook.  I mean adores it and well, me?  Not so much.  I mean, we won't starve if I am in charge of the meals, but they're usually quite utilitarian and not the creative works that he puts into it.  We had steamed broccoli, grilled chicken and garlic sausages with mustard and roasted garlic potatoes.  YUM.  He also whipped up some thick, gooey brownies.  They came out of the oven and smelled divine.  In order not to torture ourselves while they cooled we went for a walk at dusk.  I wore Libby in the wrap carrier and J and Libby, me and my mom went for a warm summer's stroll around the neighborhood. We had fun spying fireflies and little cotton tail bunnies.  Whew, it's been H-O-T and humid this past weekend.  Nearly 100 degrees and probably 70-80% humidity, which of course, makes it feel hotter.  So it was nice to get outside, even if it was nearly dark.  We got home and the brownies were still warm, but cool enough to eat.  We topped them with a dollop of vanilla ice cream...delish!

And so it was.  A perfectly delightful Sunday with the family.  A wonderful first Father's Day...although don't tell Regina, Luigi and Bella...they've been given Daddy cards for years and it might hurt their feelings if they knew that it didn't "count" until Libby arrived.  We've always known that J was an awesome Dad and now that Libby's here, it just confirms what we've known all along.

Rest In Peace

I have been avoiding the blog because this week has just been one of the worst in recent history.  There's a lot going on right now but the only thing I can share right now is this...on Monday morning, June 14 we lost J's older brother, at the age 46.  His death came quite unexpectedly and we're still don't not sure what the cause was.  We're awaiting the results of an autopsy, but will be holding a small memorial service with family on Tuesday afternoon.

Here is the only photo we have of Libby with her uncle.  It was the first time they had met and it was taken on April 16.  Sadly, we didn't know that we'd never get another photo of them together.  You just never know when it'll be the last time you see someone.  Tomorrow is never guaranteed.  And the events of this week have made it really clear that the most important thing is to embrace your loved ones, each and everyday.  Show them your love.  Hug and kiss them.  Clear up hurt feelings quickly.  Do not dwell on the past.  Be in the here and now because that's all you've really got.  Tomorrow?  You can hope and pray it'll be a better day, but really, you just never know. 

I know that no parent ever expects to lose a child, it's unnatural.  Our children are supposed to outlive us. It the law of nature.  Most of the time, at least. So I know my mother-in-law is especially hurting right now.  She has lost her first baby, her eldest son.  He had come into this world under tough circumstances (his father was killed by a drunk driver two months before he was born) and he lived a hard life, but in recent months had turned the corner and it was starting to look up for him.  And then, gone.  I know she's really struggling with this.  So please pray that her heart finds peace.  And rest in peace brother Dan.  Until we meet again may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

What's on your list?

Found this list at JanineB's blog and wanted to play along too. 

The things I've done are bolded:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondla
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been inside an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90 Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Eaten lunch on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
101. Lit candles at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
102. Been stopped by the cops for making out in my car
103. Been threatened with arrest
104. Had surgery
105. Played on the beach at Malibu
106. Been a bridesmaid
107. Caught the bouquet
108. Been engaged
109. Broken off engagement
110. Acted in a play
111. Directed a play
112. Been to Las Vegas
113. Been to Euro Disney
114. Been to Disney World
115. Been to Capri
116. Seen a snow capped mountain only from afar
117. Been to the Atlantis in the Bahamas
118. been given a kiss that makes you weak in the knees
119. participated in an international student exchange
120. kept a juicy secret for a good friend no one else knows
121. shared a juicy secret with a good friend you haven't shared with anyone else

How many can you check off? What would you add?

I’m adding:

122. Been to Greece
123. Sung at on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera
124. Picked wild blueberries in Alaska
125. Owned a convertible car.
126. Been on television
127. Got a tattoo
128. Divorced
129. Remarried
130. Visited Fiji
131. Camped in Yosemite
132. Hiked to a waterfall
133. Met royalty
134. Ridden in a hot air balloon
135. Stomped grapes into wine
136. Won prize money

Insert eye-roll here

So in the brief four months we’ve been parents, apparently we’ve made a slew of choices that are less-than-conventional. I guess. I mean, in the online parenting forums I frequent, they seem quite “normal” but I guess in every-day-life they may not be. Hmm. I suspect there’s been a lot of eye-rolling from the every-day people in our lives.

First off was the decision to cloth diaper. People came out of the woodwork to tell us we were nuts. That surely, we’d regret it and find ourselves bleary-eyed in a big-box-brand-name-store at 3 a.m. desperately purchasing disposable diapers within a week of bringing our baby home. “You’ll see…” I heard time and again. Well…here were are…four-plus months later and loving the decision we've made to cloth diaper. It’s super convenient and totally budget-friendly. Not to mention that we’re always just one laundry load away from a new supply of diapers for our little one. It is also better for her health and for the health of our planet.

Second was the fact that my exclusively breast-fed baby refuses to take a pacifier or a bottle. I am fine with her not wanting a paci…but others have an issue with it. She’s keen to suck her thumb instead (although has not fully worked that out just yet) and somehow that’s a bad thing. I dunno. If it helps her to self-soothe, I am all for it. It’s right there, whenever she needs or wants it. And for the record, I sucked my thumb and didn’t go off to college still doing it. Sure, I needed orthodontics, but it wasn’t because of the thumb-sucking. It was due to genetics.

And although we introduced the bottle at the “right time” of four weeks and she initially took it, eventually she decided she wanted nothing to do with it. At first I thought it was because I produce excess lipase and discovered that my stored, pumped breast milk had an “off” taste. But even once we worked that out (via scalding all pumped milk as recommended by Kelly Mom and LLLI) she still refused to take the bottle. And we tried them all. Including this fancy-schmancy one that actually looks and supposedly feels a lot like a breast. So, with the impending date of my return to full-time work looming, we got creative and tried feeding her expressed breast milk from a cup. Well, really the top of one of the many bottles she’d refused. And you know what? It worked! So since she was eight weeks old she gets her “cup milk” from daddy or grandma while I am at work. People still don’t believe she can drink from a cup. Others ask why we don’t just make her drink from a bottle. (As if I could make her?! They suggest, “if you don’t offer her anything by the bottle, eventually she’ll HAVE to take it!”). Why on earth would I do that when she’s already drinking from a cup? People need to learn to drink from a cup. They don’t need to know how to use a bottle. So, she’s just ahead of the game.

Here's a video of J cup feeding Libby when she was 10 weeks old:

Speaking of being ahead, that leads me to our latest “unconventional” choice to use infant pottying in our household. Also known as Elimination Communication or Diaper-free Babies, it basically is learning to read your babies cues to know when they need to potty. And once you notice them, you begin to potty them over the toilet or sink or receptacle of your choosing rather than let them go in their diaper. Sounds pretty down-to-earth to me. After all, people need to use the potty anyway, right? So, very casually, we’ve begun to observe when Libby needs to pee or poop. It’s become fairly easy to pinpoint, especially her pooping schedule, which is just once a day now and usually in the early evenings after feeding. Pee has been a little trickier to catch, but again, she usually lets us know immediately when she’s wet and we’ve been able to figure out her signals just before then, namely squirming and vocalization. So we’ve been able to get her to tinkle on the potty (our household toilet is now outfitted with a kiddie potty seat that I picked up for $3) by offering her “pottytunities” before and after her naps, after feeding, before baths, etc. We cue her with “pssss” and sure enough, she pees in the potty. It’s so cute!

She loves it because she’s not in a wet diaper. And we love it because it means less diaper changes (and laundry) for us. Especially the poopie ones. I’ve only changed one poopie diaper in the past 5 days (and that’s because she surprised me with a early-afternoon poop). We have no intention of having her be diaper-free (she’s still in her cloth diapers) save for the 15-20 minutes of “naked time” she has each day. Nor are we pushing her to “potty train” anytime soon. It’s more about teaching her that she has options when it comes to her personal hygiene. Knowing her, once she really figures out that she doesn’t have to be in a wet or dirty diaper I suspect she will be wanting to use the potty more often than not. She smiles every time we sit her there. And she loves that it’s faster and cleaner than getting a diaper change.

That said, we’ve already gotten the side-eye about it. And of course the lecture that it’s “too soon.” Yes, if we were potty training her, it would be WAY too soon. But what we’re doing is potty learning and offering her options, which is perfectly fine. In many cultures they don’t even use diapers on infants because they practice this method of infant pottying. And it’s not like she’s being scolded if she goes in her diaper (which is an old-school tactic used by parents in potty training). Oh well…I guess to many people teaching your baby to use the toilet is weird. To us, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. It’s a skill she’ll use for life so why not start now? I did have to laugh though when we were asked, “well how does she get to the bathroom?” Um, the same way she gets everywhere else right now. We carry her. Duh.

Finally, I am sure that more eyes will roll in a couple of months when we begin introducing solids to our daughter. We’ve already been asked more than once why she’s not already eating rice cereal. We’ve had to let people know that we’re going with the AAP’s recommendation to wait until she’s six months old before introducing solids. (Oh and I’ve also been asked why I plan to breastfeed beyond six months since she’ll be eating solids by then and will most likely have teeth. I cannot believe how clueless people are about breastfeeding. You should have seen the reaction when I said I have no intentions of weaning at twelve months, let alone six. Oy vay.)

We plan to let Libby self-feed solids (also known as BLW or Baby-led Weaning) when she shows signs of readiness. Most likely that’ll be later this summer. I am sure people will ask why on earth she’s not being spoon-fed jarred baby food or even purees we make ourselves. I am sure they’ll question the risk of her choking. I am already scheduled to take an Infant CPR class later this month so at least I can let them know that if on the remote chance she did choke, we’d know what to do. But I am sure they’ll still roll their eyes. Oh well, I guess that’s okay. It certainly won’t be the first time.

Pro Pics: Three Months Old

Shot by Malisa Morgan Waldop at Morgan Street Studios Photography in Broken Arrow on April 26, 2010 and Woodward Park in Tulsa on April 21, 2010.

Second Mov-i-versary

It’s been two years since we packed up our lives in California and moved here to Tulsa. It seems longer than that in many ways. So much has changed in the 730 days we’ve lived here. And for the most part, it’s been for the better. But there are days when I wonder if I’ll ever really feel like this is home. And if so, when?

I miss our friends and family back in the golden state. I don’t miss the high cost of living and heinous traffic though. I do miss being able to sink my toes into the Pacific Ocean whenever I pleased. And spending a lazy day touring the little vineyards in wine country. But I don’t miss the uncertainty that came with living an artist’s lifestyle in a techno-driven economy. Where making a living-wage means you have to pull in six figures. How ridiculous is it that a single person earning $30K/year is considered near poverty-level?! But sadly, it is when you live in one of the most expensive places on earth.

Being in Tulsa has been interesting to say the least. Tulsans are quite friendly, but at the same time, not very welcoming. By that I mean people here smile at you in the grocery store and wave to you when you’re driving down the street, but they’re not the sort to invite you over for a visit or suggest that you hang out. Maybe I expect too much of people. Kindness should be enough, but I crave connection.

I want to get past the polite, perfunctory exchanges and get to the personal and profound conversations. We’re friendly folks. We can strike up a conversation almost anywhere with anyone. But I still cannot figure out why we’ve been here for two years and not made any friends. I mean, real friends. Not people you’re friendly with because you work with them or see them from time to time out in your neighborhood and the right thing to do is to be nice and friendly. I mean the kind of people you connect with about real stuff that goes on in your life. Friends who you want to spend time with after work and on the weekends. Someone you can call at 2 a.m. if need be. We just don’t have that here. And we did when we lived in CA. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. Shared experiences, I guess.

When you’re an artist, it automatically connects you with people in a different way, I suppose. Not that all of our friends back home are artists themselves. But most of them are and those who aren’t appreciate those who are and want to befriend them. Here? We’re just normal, everyday working folks with two cars, two dogs, a cat and a kid. There’s nothing beyond that right now to connect us to others, I guess. We’re not religious and only attend one church in town, on occasion. And when we go there, the people are nice. They say hello or smile from across the pews. But that’s it. They’re just nice. Just friendly. But not really looking to connect or make friends. At least it doesn’t feel that way. And I guess that’s why, after two years of living here, I feel like I am just visiting. Nice and friendly are perfectly swell when you’re visiting. But if you’re going to stay, it takes more than that. I am on a search to find it. So that this time next year I can say that Tulsa feels like home.

No longer my own dot-com

Over the past two years I have slowly transitioned away from my former email address of info@myname.com and to full time use of myname@yahoo.com which before, I only used for my students to contact me when I was still teaching private voice lessons. That said the Yahoo account gets checked a few times each day and the other one I maybe log into once a week or so. So today I went to log-on and sift through the hundreds of spam and junk mail that normally fill the inbox to see if there were any legitimate messages waiting for me. I typed the usual www.myname.com/mail expecting to see the netmail log-in screen, but instead I saw one of those generic domain parking pages come up in the browser window. Hmm…maybe I misspelled the URL? I tried again. Nope. Same thing. It’s a NetSol page and it says, “Myname.com expired on 5/21 and is pending renewal or deletion.” Wow.

Five years ago, when I renewed my domain name for awesome deal of one-hundred-dollars-for-the-next-five-years I thought, “sure, that’ll be great. I am sure that in five years I’ll still need my domain name even if my website changes before then…”  By “changes” I was hoping that meant being picked up by an artists’ management firm and having my website design overhauled to coordinate with the style and layout of the other artists on the roster.

Well, here I am…five years later. Age thirty-five and not a managed artist and no longer a professional singer. (In operaworld being thirty-five years old is still considered quite young and yet having certain professional credentials by that age is seen in the business as an indication of whether one has the capacity of “making it”). I am not even teaching voice lessons, for that matter. So there’s honestly no real need for my own domain and website to exist. Still, today, when I saw it was gone, it felt weird. I admit that I had a small twinge of melancholy for I no longer have a place on the web that features my bio, my reviews, my resume and stage photos. It’s no longer useful to this married-mom-in-the-Midwest with a nine-to-five desk job. Sometimes that life, the one of the struggling-artist-scraping-the-funds-together-to-travel-on-a-transcontinental-red-eye-flight-to-catch-an-audition, seems like an entire lifetime ago. But it really was just about three years ago that I decided to give it all up. Until then, I had spent most of my life making my dreams of being a professional performance artist a reality and suddenly, as my late twenties gave way to my early thirties, I was no longer satisfied with that trajectory. I had never imagined that I’d ever feel compelled to give it up, but I did. The only singing I do these days are acappella intonations of made up ditties and repeated refrains from childhood lullabies. No piano, certainly no orchestra and for the most part, no vibrato.  Just simple singing of simple tunes in a simple way.  It’s quite amazing that so much has changed in such a short amount of time.

Five years ago, when I renewed myname.com domain for another five years I had aspirations of being thirty-five and singing leading roles at The Met. Of traveling across the Atlantic to make my debut in some vintage European opera house and translating my stellar reviews into English so I could post them proudly to my Press Page. Of appearing through the stage door at midnight with my naturally curly hair coaxed into swoopy, romantic waves from being pinned into circles under the wig I had worn on stage that night.  Of smiling graciously, saying “Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it” or “...it’s always a privilege to perform this piece” while signing programs with the autograph I had so carefully practiced to look effortlessly artistic and befitting of a diva. Of wearing sparkling, silk gowns and sipping imported wine with well-known maestros while cleverly negotiating my next big debut. The person that paid a hundred bucks to have five more years with her own plot in cyberspace never imagined that she’d ever give up singing. Or get married. Or move to the Midwest. Or have a day job. Or have a baby. Today? That person is happier than she had ever been when she was her own dot-com. Go figure.

First Quarter of Mommyhood

Libby turned four months old yesterday. Four months! Where have I been? In a sleep-deprived-fog, apparently. Well, not really. Once I got okay with the fact that despite saying “I’ll never”... I am! Bed sharing, that is. She sleeps in our bed every night and we’re loving it. It makes for a great night’s sleep, actually. We go down most nights between 10-11 p.m. and I wake up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work. She’ll nurse sometime between 2-3 a.m. but I usually sleep right through it. On weekends she’ll nurse again at 5 a.m. and we all sleep in until about 9 a.m. It works brilliantly. So much so that I am thinking we’ll be keeping this arrangement for much longer than I had originally planned.

Before she was born, we had planned on co-sleeping using the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper (ARCS) until she was about three months old (how I picked that age I don’t know, I guess I figured three months is long enough for an infant to sleep in her parent’s room…wow, how uninformed I was back then). Anyway, she’s a big baby and getting taller by the day and soon won’t fit in her ARCS. So I am formulating a Plan B. I think we might go with this. The problem is, our crib won’t sidecar because it’s got built-in drawers and a changer. So, that means purchasing a second crib/mattress just for the purpose of creating the sidecar situation. I can probably do this via Craigslist for under $150. The other option is just to keep doing what we’re doing which is, most nights the ARCS is acting as a bed rail and she’s sleeping tucked under my arm between me and it. Rarely, we manage to move her over into it, but not as often as I thought we would when I bought the thing. It’s amazing what that 6 inch “lip” does to create a huge barrier to moving a sleeping baby successfully into it.  I'll add that to the “wish I had know this before...” list that grows by the day when you’re a new parent.

At least if we sidecar a crib it will create one sleeping surface between our mattress and the crib mattress, which means I can nurse her side-lying with her on the crib mattress and me on my mattress and then have room to roll onto my back and spread out while I sleep. Right now I have to sleep on my side the entire night. And I was so looking forward to not being pregnant anymore and getting back to sleeping on my back.

My only hesitation is this…is it worth buying another crib/mattress to create a sidecar situation? Or should I just tough it out and keep sleeping like we’re sleeping and then consider moving her into her own room and crib in another 2-3 months? Or in 2-3 months will I still want to be bed-sharing and wishing that I had just gone ahead and side-carred a crib? Oh the decisions. In retrospect, we should have not purchased a crib until after she was born and we were more sure of what we would be doing for sleep. It’s funny, because in my last trimester, having the crib in her room somehow made it all feel more real and gave me a sense of peace that we were ready for her arrival. We registered for it and my father sent it as a gift. We mainly use it to store her clothing and for diaper changes. And a random nap here or there. But she’s certainly never spent the night in it. Maybe someday she will, or we’ll just convert it to the youth bed and have her sleep in it when she’s ready as a bigger toddler. But for now, our bed is her bed and we like it that way. More so than I ever thought we would. Because I was one of those who swore, “I’ll never have my baby sleeping in our bed. Never.” Never say never. My “never” only lasted a few weeks. And here we are at four months, loving that we share the bed with our little one.

A Case of the Mondays

Monday has never been my favorite day of the week. In fact as Sunday winds down I usually get mopey because that means Monday is just around the corner. Save for those few Mondays every year that are a holiday. I like those Mondays. But usually, I am not a fan.

I love Thursdays. Maybe because as a kid my favorite TV shows were on Thursday evenings. Or perhaps it’s because, for years, it was chorus rehearsal night and I always looked forward to that. Now that I have a “real” nine-to-five job I love Thursdays even more because it means that I am already more than half-way through the work week and the next day is Friday. Fridays at work always seem to fly by and in general, everyone seems to be in good spirits. But Mondays? No thank you.

Except, my Libby was born on a Monday. That was the best Monday of my life. It’s been 17 Mondays since she was born. And three of them have had me dragging myself out of bed, away from her warm little body and sweet baby sighs and into slacks that are still a little too snug around the waist and shoes that feel a little too high. She stirs from her slumber between 4 and 5 a.m. and I quickly change her diaper and snuggle her back into my side of the bed (well, it’s really our side nowadays) and nurse her back to sleep. She’s like a magnet, though, and tries her best to pull me back to dreamland with her, but I resist and finally pry myself out of the bed and into the reality of being a working mother who has to be in the office by 7 a.m.

So, Monday still isn’t my favorite day of the week. Now, it’s the day that abruptly ends those two lovely days I have in a row with my baby girl when I can nurse her whenever she wants and my trusty Medela pump and its parts stay sanitized and tucked away. It’s the day I put on my professional attire and try to focus on data reports and not let my mind wander to wonder what cute little thing she might be doing. My efforts to push ahead and be so busy that the day flies by without too much time lost to missing her are completely futile once I feel my milk letdown. My body instantly reminds me that I am most definitely missing my little one. And then my heart aches.

The only thing that makes Monday tolerable is that it was the day she was born. But otherwise? I hate Mondays.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Right

Today is J's 33rd birthday.  And what a year it has been.  On this day last year, we found out we were expecting.  And here we are today with Libby, who will be four months old on Tuesday.  Yes, what a fantastic year it has been.  With the pregnancy and travels and nursing classes and work and taking care of a newborn, J is one amazing man.  He is always right there, doing whatever it takes, no matter what.  So, today we celebrate J and all that he has been and all that he is yet to become.  But mostly we celebrate who he is today, right now.  Happy Birthday to my Mr. Right.


Tonight, as I settled Libby down to sleep, I reached over to turn on her sound machine and rather than the usual "ocean" sounds to which we normally set it,  my finger brushed the "womb" setting.  I saw a flash in Libby's eyes like she remembered that sound.  It brought tears to my eyes to see that.

The last time that I had heard this sound was when my own womb sounds were broadcast into the room by the fetal monitor on her birth day.  It had been a sound that I had grown to know intimately over the ten weeks preceding her birth since, once I had started insulin injections to manage my gestational diabetes, I had to go to the hospital each Thursday to monitor her in a non-stress test.

I remember the nurses always asking me if I wanted them to turn down the monitor with its constant whir of the heart that was beating within me but that was not my own.  My answer was always the same. "No thank you...I love to listen to her heart beating..."  They always offered me the remote control to the little TV in the monitoring room and I always declined, instead asking them to turn out the lights so I could lay there and concentrate on the woosh-woosh-woosh of my Little Being.  Every Thursday for ten weeks this was my ritual.  Sometimes I'd watch the lines dance on the monitor screen and wonder what she was up to in there.  But usually, I'd close my eyes and just listen.

 Libby Jo in July 2009

Tonight, I made the connection that while I was doing that on the outside, once a week for an hour or so, my little one was doing that 24/7 for nine-plus months.  And tonight, when I hit that button on her sound machine, it flipped the switch in her memory of her time there, not so long ago that it had been forgotten.  It was amazing to see it flash across her face in the glimmer of her sleepy eyes as they became heavier with the comfort of being swaddled and rocked to sleep.  It was shown just before the sweetest smile that breaks across her lips as she falls to sleep.  I love to see that little "I'm off to la-la-land" smile. Sixteen weeks in the world isn't very long when compared to the 39 weeks and three days she spent in utero.  So tonight, she sleeps to the comforting sounds of the womb.  The ocean can wait until tomorrow.

What it means to be sorta crunchy

The older I get the more I am realizing that I am more crunchy than not.  I mean, compared to many of my fellow San Francisicans I guess I might be slightly crispy, but here, in Tulsa, I am definitely considered more granola.  Here's a fun little quiz to see where you might score on the spectrum.  I scored 108.  That puts me in the "Mmm!  Love that whole grain crunch!" category.

Here's what makes me a sorta-crunchy mama:

1) Exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then introducing solids around 6 months using "baby-led weaning."  Will plan to breastfeed at least until 12 months and probably beyond.
2) Bed-sharing for now and will transition to co-sleeping soon (she'll stay in our room, but not in our bed)
3) We're using cloth diapers and wipes and wash them at home.  I use the clothesline to sun them about once a week.
4) We practice babywearing.
5) Following the principles of Attachment Parenting.
6) Refused certain vaccines at Libby's birth.
7) Attempted a natural birth using the Bradley Birth Method and used a doula.
8) Libby's clothing and nursery is 99% recycled items bought via consignment, Craigslist and eBay.

But for really granola, tree hugging folks I would probably be considered more conventional than not...we buy organic when we can, but we don't eat organic foods exclusively.  We're not vegan or even vegetarian although we do try to eat as healthfully as possible, avoiding processed foods and choosing whole grains like quinoa.  That doesn't mean we don't enjoy pizza delivery from time to time or breakfast at our local greasy spoon complete with bacon.  We recycle.  We bring our own, reusable bags with us when we shop.  We try to stick to eco-friendly cleaning supplies and personal products.  But we also leave our electronics plugged in 24/7 and use modern conveniences like a dishwasher and microwave oven.

So we're "in between" and I think that's okay.  The only weird thing is that I am too hippy-dippy for most conventional-types and too-conventional for the more hippy-dippy folks.  I know that I am not alone, but sometimes I feel that it has to be "all or nothing" to feel like I fit in somewhere.  Especially when it comes to parenting choices. 

In general, it seems that if you choose something that is in opposition of another's parenting choice, then it can become a bone of contention.  For example, if I cloth diaper, then I must think parents who use disposables are wrong.  If I chose to breastfeed than I am judging the mom who chooses to use formula.  If we want to bed-share then we must think parents who put their baby in a crib are neglecting them.  None of this could be further from the truth!  I know there may be some folks who feel this way, but not me.  The beauty of parenthood is that there is no one right way to do it.  Only the way that is best for me and my family.  And if that's different than what other parents chose for them and their family, then so be it.  I just wish more people could be okay with that.  But I guess as long as there are people who are insecure in their own choices, there will be those who pass judgement on others.  As long as people have to feel right there will be squabbles over things like this.  Nothing is black and white though.  Especially not parenting.

Separation Anxiety

Yesterday was a rough day at work and couldn't help but be overwhelmed by feelings of questioning whether or not I am doing the right thing by being a working mother.  Never mind that my not having a job isn't even an option right now.  I feel so guilty about leaving my little one all day while I am at work.  I know she's in great hands with her daddy and grandma, but I, selfishly I guess, want to be there to witness all of her cuteness as it unfolds throughout the day. 

I want to hear her giggle in the morning upon waking and see her get excited when she plays with her toys for the first time each day.  But alas, these moments will have to be cherished on the weekends, since I am out the door before 7 a.m. while she snoozes away next to her daddy.  I know I am not the first woman to feel torn about going back to work after having a baby. 

We always hear about baby developing separation anxiety but what about mamas having it too? I know that millions of women around the world do it everyday.  And with a lot less support than I have.  And I know I should be incredibly grateful since my situation allows me to come home each day for lunch to nurse Libby and play with her.  And that she gets to stay home with her daddy and grandmother while I am working is a major gift.  We won't even need to consider a formal day care situation until she's at least one year old. 

But my heart aches during the day because I am away from her.  And I feel anxious from the moment I leave the house until the moment I get home.  I am hoping that, in time, this will subside and I will find a new rhythm.  But I am pretty sure finding a happy balance between being a mother and a working woman (outside the home) is a long haul.  Maybe by the time she's eighteen I'll have figured it out.

Little Being

A year ago today my sweet Libby was a hope and a prayer.  A year ago today she was conceived with love.  How do I know?  Because when you're nearly 35 and trying to make a baby you don't leave these sort of things to chance.  I was charting my cycles with help of FertilityFriend.com, noting my BBT and CM daily as well as using OPKs and my trusty CBEFM.  We were able to pinpoint my peak fertility days and in two cycles of TTC we were successful.  We actually conceived on Mother's Day (US) 2009.  How cool is that?  And I found out that we were expecting on J's 32nd birthday.  Totally awesome.

I blogged my entire TTC and PG somewhat anonymously on a group blog of ladies doing the same and went back today to read the posts from this time last year.  It made me smile to read how excited and anxious I was that this could be it!  And here were are, a year later holding our sweet baby girl.  Our "little being" as we called her long before we knew she'd be a she.  Life is truly a marvel.  To think that a little tiny poppy seed sized collection of cells created from loving eachother in the most intimate of ways is now our rolly-poly, pink-cheeked girl with mischievous eyes and a flirty smile.  My heart skips a beat just thinking about it.

And this time next year?  I think we might be dusting off the old BBT and CBEFM.  At least I hope so.

First {Official} Mother's Day

Today I am celebrating my first Mother's Day.  Well, officially.  I actually started celebrating it in 2004 when we adopted Regina on Mother's Day.  She was my furbaby from the start and definitely helped me get in touch with my maternal instincts (which until then had only be slightly activated by my becoming an auntie).  I would get Mother's Day cards from the dog (which J would pick up and sign for her)...it's was cute and fun.  The of course, I'd do the same each Father's Day with cards from the dog and the cat.  Our furbabies are our babies.

But now, we have Libby and we're parents of another human being.  I do think caring for our pets has helped prepare us for her in many ways.  But in so many more ways, we're just beginning to learn what it means to be a daddy and a mommy.  And most days I feel I am not that great at it.  At least not yet.  Maybe I have too many expectations of myself, but I want to be a good mama to Libby.  To know what she needs and then be able to meet those needs.  I love her more and more each day and her little twinkling eyes and big gummy grin melt my heart again and again.  And I can rock her and just burst into tears watching her little face go off to dream land.  She is so precious and I am so grateful that she's chosen me to be her mother.  And I promise that I will do my best to live up to that.

So today, I celebrate becoming a mother.  It feels odd to say that.  I am just learning, really.  And I am so lucky to have my own mom here with us.  It's wonderful to see her with Libby and also to have her support and encouragement as I come into my own as a mother.  Last night she took me and Libby to dinner and today J cooked up a wonderful brunch.  And there were cards...from Libby (signed by J, of course) and from J and from my mom.  Regina and Luigi and Bella?  Well, they no longer give Mother's Day cards, I guess.  But they show their appreciation too with licks and purrs.

To every mother, grandmother, auntie and godmother...and especially new mamas....happy Mother's Day to you!

Now that I am a mother...

I feel I need to make amends to those parents before me that I judged in ways that I simply couldn't understand:
To my older cousin whom I unfairly judged when she was still breastfeeding her 14 month old son.  At the time (and to be fair I was 22) I just thought it was so gross and ridiculous that she let her walking and talking son with teeth treat her like a snack bar (he'd lift up her shirt while she was mid-sentence and start crying for milk).  Now that I am a nursing mother myself I realize what a gift it is to be able to nourish a baby, both physically and emotionally, with my milk.  If all goes well, I hope to be nursing Libby well after her first birthday.

To my brother and sister-in-law who received all sorts of flack from me for letting their daughter sleep with them until she was about 3 years old.  Now, with my own, I see the importance of bed-sharing to foster the nursing relationship, especially as a working mother.  I also recognize the benefits for baby...co-sleeping and/or bed-sharing (if done safely) is the natural thing for a mother and baby to do.  And for what it's worth, I see my niece, now 8, sleeps just fine on her own, in her own bed, in her own room.

To my friends who used a blow dryer to create white noise and calm their newborn baby.  Boy, I though they were nuts.  Now I know better.  They're geniuses!  It's the only way we can get our baby to calm down when she's totally ramped up and crying at the top of her lungs!

To every parent on a plane or in a store who's had a screaming kid that I gave the side-eye too.  I now realize that you know how annoying it is to everyone else that your kid is screaming.  But even more, I now know that it's pure torture for you to see your baby in pain (physical and/or emotional) and that his/her crying stirs a biological response that is overwhelming and the last thing you needed was a complete stranger passing judgement on you. 

Finally, to my former self...who thought she would never want to be a mother...."how ordinary, how expected!"  I am sorry that I almost denied you this wonderful gift...for the promise of a career or not being tied down or whatever it was that I feared might happen if you were to have children.  I am glad you waited, until the time was really right for you...when you truly yearned to become a mother.  And now that I am, no amount of fame or money or glamour could ever replace how I feel as a mother.  It's the most amazing thing in the world. It's truly transformative. And I am so lucky be able to experience its awesomeness.

Feeling Down

Today my Dad left after a ten day visit.  It's the first time we've seen him since July 2008.  It was great to see him with Libby and it made me extra grateful that despite him and my mom getting divorced when I was just six months old, he's always been present in my life.  He moved to Alaska after their separation and has been there ever since...almost 35 years now.  Growing up in San Francisco and spending my summers in Alaska brings back great memories.  I really had the best of both worlds.  And despite never living in my father's home (except for one year when I was three and my mom needed to get herself together) I have always felt very close to him.  I cherish that.  And hope that Libby will be close with him too, despite our geographical distance.  I want to get a webcam so we can have regular video chats via Skype.  It's on my to-do list.  Especially since the majority of our loved ones live West of the Rockies.

Adding to my sadness is the fact that my maternity leave officially ends today.  Tomorrow, I am back to work, eight hours a day, five days a week. As much as I love my job, I love Libby a million times more!  And I cannot help but feel guilty that I'll be missing out on her life 40+ hours each week.  If only I could get paid to love her!  I am grateful to have had this time home with her.  Just one week over her three month mark.  I cannot imagine how the poor mommies who have to leave their babies at just six or eight weeks old do it.  I'd be a wreck!  Well, I am already and Libby is twice the age of most babies that are left behind when mom goes back to work.  I am extremely lucky that I live close enough to my office that I can go home for lunch and nurse her.  And when she's not with me she'll be with her daddy and/or grandmother.

Speaking of which, my Mom was supposed to arrive home today after 10 days of visiting family (she planned her trip to perfectly coincide with my Dad's visit here so he wouldn't need to stay in a hotel).  We headed to the airport and were even about 10 minutes late and there's was no sight of her.  I called her cell, twice.  Texted.  No replies.  I started to panic a bit.  I went to the ticket counter and asked the customer service rep to pull her name up on the computer system to verify that she had made her connection out of DFW.  Not only had she not been on that flight, she never made her first flight of the day.  Now I am really panicked.  Heart racing, I dialed my Brother in California to see if he'd heard any news.  Nothing.  We drove home to get my Aunt's number (where my mom had been visiting) and the entire way my mind reeled with every worst-case scenario that could have prevented her from making her flight (I'll chalk this up to watching too many episodes of Law and Order and Cold Case Files while Dad was here).  We get home and I called my Auntie.  She could tell by the tone of my voice that I was worried.  I hear my Mom giggle in the background and then start saying "oh no! oh no!"  Turns out she was a day behind herself and completely missed her flights because she thought she was scheduled to leave tomorrow!  Whew.  I guess vacationing in paradise can do that to a person.  Thankfully, she was able to rebook her flights for tomorrow.  I can laugh about it now, but seriously, for about an hour today I was in a total panic and thought my mom might be dead in a ditch somewhere!

And so was my last day on maternity leave.  I was tearful...sad to say goodbye to my Dad and emotional about all the "little" things I'll be missing out on with Libby as I head to the office each day.  I never really thought I'd like to be a stay-at-home-mom, I love my job and enjoy the people at work.  But I could see myself doing really well as a SAHM.  It's just not possible though since I am the main income earner these days.  Which leads to me another thought...why is that in the majority of Baby and Parenting magazines I keep reading these articles about how mothers should "re-asses" to see if they really need to return to work with advice like "rework your budget and see if it doesn't make better financial sense to quit your job than to return..."  Um, what are we, in the 1950's?  It's not like most mothers are working so they can just have some "fun money" or extra funds to buy a new dress.  Most mothers I know, at least,  work because they have to in order to pay the bills, the mortgage and put food on the table.  Most of my female friends who work and have kids are the primary income earner for their family (married or not)...it really irks me to see these articles published every month in these parents' magazines.  It's not in touch with reality at all.  Well neither is wearing 4-inch heels, that cost more than my monthly grocery bill, to the playground for a playdate, but I digress.

Libby's Birth Story

Libby Jo
Born January 25, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.
8 lbs., 4 oz. and 19.75 inches long

Because I had gestational diabetes (GD), my doctor did not want me to go much longer than 39 weeks of pregnancy. So I was scheduled for an induction on Monday, January 25, 2010. We checked into Labor and Delivery at St. Francis Hospital at 5 a.m. and Libby was born at 7:04 p.m. So, without further ado...here's my recollection of her birth story.

Day before the induction. I spent a lot of time meditating and visualizing a safe and happy birth for me and for Libby. I did have some anxiety about what was to come the next day and let the tears come freely. I got a massage that evening and slept more soundly than I had in months!

3:30 a.m. - awoke...showered and had a light breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.

5:00 a.m. - report to the hospital

6:00 a.m. - I changed into my birthing attire...a cotton sarong (bought a few yards of fabric, washed it and my mom finished the edges with the sewing machine) and a hook-front, cotton tank bra (similar to a sports bra...it's by Leading Lady® ). I was adamant not to wear the scratchy hospital gown. I hate wearing nightgowns and wasn't going to do it just because I was in the hospital! Once I was changed, the IV was inserted and the Pitocin started.  I was at about 2 cm dilated.

First and only bare belly shot

7:30 a.m. - Mild contractions started and the doctor ruptured my membranes. It was the oddest sensation ever...warm liquid just gushed forth. I was up and laboring on the birthing ball, standing over the bedside and getting counter pressure on my back from my mom and doula. They had me sit on the bed in a "throne" position (the back up as high as possible and the foot of the bed dropped down so I could sit with my feet on the lower portion.) I breathed through the contractions as they came and chatted when they weren't there. We had mellow music on in the back ground and the mood was light.

12:00 p.m. - Contractions had increased in intensity and I was having tons of back labor. Baby was obviously still face up. I was checked and thinking that by now I surely must be closer to 5 cm. They said 3 cm and 80% effaced and I was pretty upset that this is all I had progressed. They increased the Pitocin and I started to cry and express my doubts about being able to continue without pain medication.

3:30 p.m. - I was laboring with intense contractions. At this point they were 60-90 seconds long and coming every 1-2 minutes. I had my eyes closed and asked that the overhead lights be turned off. I was sure that I must be close to 5 cm by now! I was checked and told that I was 4 cm and still not very thinned. The contractions were becoming unbearable because my legs were spasming with each one. So as I was trying to relax and breath my legs were clamping closed and almost "seizing"...I was shaking uncontrollably.

4:15 p.m. - The next 45 minutes (between 3:30-4:15 p.m.) was rough. Despite doing my best to stay with my breathing and coping techniques, I couldn't get on top of the contractions because my legs were just taking over my body and not allowing me to relax. After much struggle, I finally begged for the epidural. It seemed like an eternity before I got it. I worked through another 15 minutes of hard contractions and then I finally got it. I have to say, it wasn't scary like I had imagined and it felt like a dream...my legs stopped quivering enough for me to sleep for an hour.  I got to hug J while they inserted the needle and later he told me that he almost passed out from watching.  I felt instant relief.

5:30 p.m. - After an incredibly deep sleep, I was finally 7 cm and fully dilated...my legs still continued to tremble with every contraction, but I felt no pain! My upper body started shaking though with each contraction so I still knew when they were coming!


My mom, husband and I just before pushing began.

My husband and doula watching the baby being born. They were both tearing up!
6:15 p.m. - Time to push! Worked with the awesome nurse of the day, Sarah, to "practice push" until the doctor arrived. The "practice" ones were easy and she crowned immediately. No pain, just pressure, which I was glad to have the sensation to know what I was doing. My doctor finally arrived and in 4 pushes (I did 4 sets of breathe and push for 4 times each, I wanted her OUT!). If any of you reading this are in the Tulsa area and want to attempt natural childbirth in a hospital setting, I highly recommend that you request Sarah Gruber at St. Francis Hospiral to be your L&D nurse. She was SO supportive and willing to go the extra mile all day long (like laying on the floor and holding the fetal monitors on my belly while I was slumped over the birthing ball)...she even stayed past her shift change to be there for Libby's birth. She's awesome and there is no way I could have done as well as I did without her and our doula, Kathy Taylor.

7:04 p.m. - Libby was born! They put her on my chest immediately and within minutes she was latched on and nursing. She knew exactly what to do. It was amazing.

From here the details get very blurry for me. I had a very tough 3rd stage and lost a lot of blood. They worked on me for 45 minutes. My placenta came out swiftly but with some was retained (doctor doesn't think so) or a piece of my uterine lining came out with it. Apparently there were buckets of fresh blood being removed as well as being mopped off the floor. I remember none of this (no one was panicked or saying things that sounded urgent). I do remember the look on our doula's face and that my mom and Joseph took Libby to the warmer and were tending to her. Now I know they were distracting themselves from seeing me bleeding. I am fuzzy on these details but there was my doctor and the nurse, both inside of me with tools scraping my lining and massaging my uterus. It was very intense and it made me projectile vomit (imagine the Heimlich from within)! My blood pressure dropped to 84/43. They administered some shot of medicine in my leg and I heard the Doctor say, "800 of Cytotec"...

Anyway, long story short...they got my uterus to finally tighten up. It took about 45 minutes - hour. After that I am not sure what happened. I did have Libby back on my breast. And then I slept, I think. I awoke and the epi was out, etc. I am not sure how long that was...it was around 9 p.m. or so. I did have one fainting spell in the bathroom but other than that, I was stable and pretty much "back to normal" by 11 p.m. I had a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries! After 12 weeks on a low carb, GD diet, they were especially delicious!

So in the end...I was incredibly grateful to be in hospital. I did have the vaginal birth I wanted and labored without pain meds fror 12 hours. Ultimately, the epidural was the right choice...it allowed Libby to be born quickly and also enabled me to get through that horrible stage three scenario. Had I not had the epi I would have been rushed to the OR and fully sedated. And had they not been able to stop the bleeding my doctor said the only option was to have my uterus removed! Very scary stuff.

But all in all...I have no real memory of that and I feel great. Libby is so wonderful...she's been a fantastic nurser since the first minutes of life and has basically taught me what to do. J has been so hands on with her from the very beginning and we're making a great team.


Photos of us with Libby only 18 hours old.