Saturday, July 9, 2011

Settling in

Pigs by whatstepheats
Pigs, a photo by whatstepheats on Flickr.

Finally we are feeling somewhat settled down here. There is just so much involved in relocating. Tomorrow will mark the date one month ago when the movers came to pack up our lives in Providence. One month ago tonight was the last night we spent in our Providence condo. It's gone by so quickly and yet never has it felt like I've jammed so much into 30 days.
We've been trying to get health records sent, appointments set up, to make friends, to find hairdressers and babysitters, get Sam a passport (here you have to make an appointment with the post office to submit passport application materials!), learn where to go for what.
It's such a big deal, moving to a 'foreign land'. Though it's made me realize that we lived in a part of the country where people just are not kind for far too long. It's made me realize that it is really hard to be nasty to people who are kind to you, even when they are incompetant or annoying. It's made me realize something I've always suspected - I am not a typical Rhode Islander, if I am a typical anything.

I love that it's sunny and hot here everyday, I love that the whole town slows down on Saturday and nearly shuts down on Sunday. I love that everywhere you go there are kids. I love the food we can buy at the grocery store 5 minutes away - great, fresh produce, fish, meat. All you need.

Basically I really love it here! I can see myself someday living in Little Compton right on the ocean, or in Boston, but short of that, I'm not sure I could ever move back north. Even if I did it would be part time.

We are within driving distance to Houston, Dallas, and most closely Austin. I can't wait to explore Austin.

A friend's photo of Fenway got me thinking of Boston. I love Boston, always wanted to live near there. When I was a teenager and used to visit my dad's cousin who is a renal pathologist at NEMC. I would follow him around at the hospital all day. I wanted that life. I guess I still do. I didn't realize then that what you want when you are 14 really doesn't morph much over the years. You are who you are. I've been suppressing it, trying to take shortcuts (shacking up with one doctor and marrying another instead of becoming one? Freud would have a field day)...but it keeps coming back.

Now I have Sam so for now this is my life. But I still consider nursing or massage school down the line, when he's older and when the next potential child is too. I love the human body - maybe massage. That's another thing that keeps surfacing in my head.

I finally got some tomatoes and peppers in the ground. Hope to find more seedlings this weekend...

Happy weekend, happy summer!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Boy Colors?

Boy colors, at last by whatstepheats
Boy colors, at last, a photo by whatstepheats on Flickr.

Last week I ordered binkies from The ones I picked were billed as: 'boy colors: colors may vary'.
I received one pink and one purple. My Western-conditioned mind reflexively reacted, "how are these boy colors?".

The incident has got me thinking.

The link between gender and color symbolism is fascinating to me. According to what little I've been able to find out, in the early 20th century color and gender were dissociate. It was only around the 20's that pink became the masculine color (likely because it was close to the strong, distinctive, fiery red) and blue the feminine (the Virgin Mary, and blue for whatever reason was considered the fairer and more delicate shade). Since then, obviously, they have been inverted.

This whole color thing is amplified in the US, as most everything is.

Then it struck me - grown men can wear purple and pink with little, if any, consequence. Is it simply because a baby can appear to be either a boy or a girl sans clothing, and color is all we have to go by?

More confusing is the issue of why the change happened, and why so abruptly.
From what I can tell, some factors may be that the pink triangle was used to mark homosexuals by Hitler. Was this cause, effect, or neither?
WWII in the 40's involved blue navy uniforms for men. Was that part of the equation?
The switch did seem to happen in the years surrounding WWII. Perhaps the woman who had been filling the 'man's place' in the factory switched her role to the 'happy housewife', and took her working man's strong red-related pink with her?

Whatever the truth may be, I can personally testify that in Italy several years ago the colors were reversed, much to my embarrassment. While at a small, family run restaurant in a rather remote area of Tuscany, I ducked into the bathroom bearing a pink plaque. As I exited, a small Italian boy was laughing, shouting, and pointing his finger at me! I had made the wrong choice. Pink was for guys, and this little fellow had to go! (The ugly American skulked back to her table...)

I can only say that to me, color is color. I love them all. If my son someday wants to wear tights and prance around in a pink tutu, I will love and accept him no less than if he becomes a linebacker in the NFL.


Friday, March 18, 2011

It's a Luxury on Toasted Bread

Peanut butter and grape jam, that is.
It's what's for lunch. On toast.

Stuff That Works For Me - Fisher Price Rock 'n' Play Sleeper

Fisher Price Newborn Rock 'n' Play Sleeper
Not sure how this product flew into my airspace. Could have been a random pregnant Google search, of which there were many.
Anyway, this sleeper has been one of the best things for us. Sam has slept in it every single night since he came home from the hospital at 2 days old. The weight limit is 25 lbs, which he will likely hit sometime before his first birthday, as he's already 17.5 lbs or so. I wish they made them bigger.

The great things about this product:

1) Cozy little bed positioned at a slight incline. This helps with reflux, which believe it or not, is an issue for a fair number of babies. Plus, Sam was just plain comfortable in it, as it hugs the little baby body a bit.

2) Inexpensive (we bought one for $49.99 or so on Amazon).

3) Very easy to fold and take on the road. We've traveled to Texas and Florida and used it in hotel rooms.

4) Super easy to assemble; easy to take apart and stuff in a suitcase too.

We didn't know what to expect with the whole sleep situation, which is a plight common to many new parents I'm sure. We were open about it, but from what I'd read it seemed important to swaddle the baby, and to have him in our bedroom, at least at first, as in the beginning babies wake every few hours to eat and well, it just seemed practical. Also, we had no clue what the fuck we were doing, so leaving the baby down the hall in a separate room did not even enter the realm of possibility. This sleeper is small and light enough to fit beside our bed.

An added bonus is that I can take it into the bathroom if I need to shower while home alone with Sam. (As he's become stronger he has to be strapped in though, lest he flail his way to the tile floor. Another bonus, this thing has a 3 point restraint strap.)

I'm sure this is very boring to those of you without kids, and perhaps barely readable to those of you who have or are expecting or planning or considering having any. 

In any case, I'm currently being drooled upon and pinched in places I've never been pinched before, so as all good things, this blurb is coming to an end.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Stuff That Works For Me - Playtex Drop-Ins

Like many moms-to-be, I had a laundry list of idealistic notions of how I would do things once the baby arrived. Front and center was the issue of breastfeeding. I was certain that I wanted to breastfeed.

Sure, I'd heard about the difficulties involved, but I thought, I'm stubborn. I will persist, and we will emerge victorious. After all, that's the natural way, right? Where would mankind be if breastfeeding failed over the centuries on a large scale?

I wasn't breastfed, but my sister was. So there was that. My baby would be healthier and happier and bond better with me if I breastfed him, so who gives a shit about sore nipples? And that's really what I thought the worst scenario would be actually, sore nipples. Ha!

As usual, reality came and bit me in the butt.

Sam was born 3 1/2 weeks early, and he was perfectly healthy, but a heel-stick glucose test at birth revealed he was hypoglycemic, and medicine being what it is in this litigious state, in these litigious times, he bought himself a stay in the NICU.
(I'm sure husband being a physician played into the overkill as well.)

In the NICU he was bottle-fed, and he thrived. I was simultaneously pumping, but it took a few days for the milk to come in, and then he was having problems latching. So we went home with a breast pump and lots of formula, thinking we'd do the best we could and see where it got us.

Looking back, I know 2 things. One, I was a nervous first-time mom of a preemie, which combined with the rigid NICU scheduling that had been ingrained in out heads (my husband, as we were leaving the NICU, actually thought we had to take his temp each time we changed his diaper! Um, no) made for little left to chance with his scheduled feeding times and amounts. Time spent at the breast was far too nebulous. Latching was far too erratic. So I pumped! Literally around the clock. And we made it work, and got no sleep. But it was fine! It was ok! I was so revved up, so wrapped up in making sure everything was as it should be, that sleeping and eating were secondary. It went on like this for a couple of months! Everyone told me I was crazy, that I should just switch to formula. I tried to - but couldn't pull myself away from the pump.

Until the point where I was not producing enough milk for his growing appetite. Which leads me to the second thing: I learned at 9 weeks post partum that I had retained products of conception, and while it thankfully did not hurt me, I'm willing to believe it interfered with milk production. Right after that the pump went back to the hospital, and we embarked on the equally scary decision of: which formula? There are only about a thousand different kinds out there. How hard could it be?

Yada yada yada...tried regular milk-based formula which irritated his digestive tract. Landed in a patch of soy.

But that's not the point of this post, actually. I want to talk about how much I love Playtex Drop-Ins.
You buy the bottle shells and the nipples, and the liners are disposable. What's better than that?

I tried many other bottles before going with these. Maybe it's just what my baby took to, but they were and are a dream for us to use.
(Just yesterday he started eating solid food - maybe a little nostalgia is behind this right now! It happens so quickly!)

From Liquids to Mush

Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
This is a picture of Sam that typifies all his responses to our attempts to feed him anything solid on a spoon - utter confusion.

That is, until yesterday, when a light went off somewhere inside that little head and he devoured nearly an entire jar of sweet potatoes.

Something tells me he'll be a good eater.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

6 Months

6 months
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Happy 6 month birthday, my love. It's been the best time of my life!

May you have hundreds more half years filled with happiness, love, joy, good health, peace and prosperity.

You are such a good baby, very easy to read. 
You babble nonstop, just started making 'mum mum' noises and what sounds like 'hai'.
You can sit up, sort of, and are infinitely curious about your surroundings. You love to watch people and look out the window.
You love music! All kinds, anything we play gets your little legs kicking.

You love to sleep. Last night you slept from 9pm to 6am and woke up smiling!
You love to eat, but thus far have yet to swallow a bite of solid food. We keep trying!

You are very cuddly, which is great for your dad and me as we are too. We both love you more than we ever imagined possible and can't fathom this world without you here.

You HATE the nasal aspirator, and also hate to be left alone. As long as someone is nearby you are fine.

It's so much fun watching you grow up, Sam, and we are so very lucky to be your parents.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How We Made A Baby, Part I

I got pregnant in December of 2009. Steven and I were sort of trying, not sure if we were a breeding pair or not, vaguely certain that we wanted to be parents but frightened that we might not be great ones. I'd had my Mirena IUD removed the previous November, with fantastic faraway notions of 'someday! baby!'. We'd been flying free for most of 2009.

We spent a week in New Orleans eating and drinking with abandon right before Christmas and right after, it turns out, the deed had been done. More debauchery followed at Christmas and New Year's before, in early January, a missed period (I am like clockwork) prompted a home pregnancy test. It was positive.

I said nothing and did the 2nd test of the 2-pack a couple days later. Again, positive.

Then I told the baby daddy, who'd had some idea all along. Does a sixth sense arise when your sperm has been successful at its rightful job?

We were scared more than anything at that point, mostly due to the weeks of holiday imbibing I'd done, but we decided to go with it. We were also deeply excited as neither one of us ever expected to be parents. We met each other after the failure of respective long term relationships that took up our 20's, what I thought of as prime baby making years. We'd both done damage to ourselves over the years. I did not embody the ideal of what I thought of as a fertile female. But lo, there I was! You can't argue with the double pink lines.

January was spent doing a lot of Googling. It was at this time that I discovered that there is a huge 'fear culture' out there relating to pregnancy, at least in this country. It really bothered me. I thought that this was supposed to be a natural thing - heck, it's been happening since the beginning of time - so why do we have to fear every morsel that crosses our lips and freak out over every little ass ache? The worry alone can't be good.

I was, however, trying to do all the right things. I started taking a prenatal vitamin, extra folic acid, and the very refined fish oil that I'd been taking all along. I became much more aware about what I ate, trying to optimize my nutrition and fortify my own body, which wasn't exactly robust at that time. I was so very tired all the time, and I did experience morning sickness every day right before lunch, which thankfully went away as soon as I ate.

We had a vacation planned at a resort in Cozumel for the first week of February, and the couple we went with (Steven's college buddy and his wife) were shocked that I wasn't drinking more than a sip here and there. I guess I had made an impression as quite the lush in the past. I drank a lot of tea. My husband's friend remarked that my breasts were outstanding. I suppose they were at that point, thank you very much.

It still wasn't real to me; I hadn't seen the little bugger yet.

I saw my ob/gyn for the first time the second week of February, and the ultrasound showed a normal fetus (embryo?). I was so amazed that this little creature was formed and going at it, dancing a jig it seemed, inside of my body. It seemed like such a miracle. From that point on I was hit with the gravity of it all. I also had an immediate feeling it was a boy. The due date was September 15, 2010.

I was the most paranoid person when it came to talking about it. I only told a long-distance friend and my husband until I was 3 months along. Then I only told a few close friends and family. Everyone was really, really surprised.

I bought some maternity clothes which I started to need toward the end of March. The metamorphosis is amazing. I started to really show in April.

The fatigue started to fade at the end of my first trimester (but came back with a vengeance in the 3rd), and the nausea disappeared. I felt really great for my second trimester. The only thing that was an issue was that I kept having protein in my urine, and my doctor was freaking out about it. I was having no other symptoms and it wasn't in the nephrotic range, but medicine likes closure on these issues. I was aggravated to have to do a 24 hr urine, but I did it. And I was told it was within normal limits for pregnancy. But it remained a red flag throughout for my ob/gyn (and finally toward the end it went away). It was annoying to me to have to talk about it all the time when I felt fine, though.

I was sent to a 'specialist' for the proteinuria thing. That whole episode really pissed me off, because she wasn't a nephrologist even. She was an infectious diseases physician who was doing some time in this women's medicine clinic. It felt like a circle jerk, or at best a waste of time. What was I going to do differently if the protein was still there? Not a thing. No other symptoms, not preeclampsia.

I was lucky; I had a really easy pregnancy. I never had hypertension, gestational diabetes, or edema. My mom had had 2 easy pregnancies so honestly I wasn't that worried. Except I was worried, all the time.

(We got married right after Easter, on April 7th. Though we'd been together for almost 6 years with no sense of urgency, suddenly Steven was against the idea of having a little bastard. Easy peasy. Got the marriage license, dropped by a judge's office, then bought rings at the mall.  All within 3 hours.)

Since I was over 35, I was scheduled for a level II (more sensitive) ultrasound at 20 weeks. That too was fine. It was really amazing to watch with my husband - to see all the structures, so perfectly formed. It was at this time, in mid-April, that we found out it was a boy, and named him Sam. Not Samuel, just Sam.

Things became rather uncomfortable toward the end, in the heat of the summer months with almost 30 extra pounds on my frame, but my husband was wonderful, and thank goodness for a/c.

I never stopped eating sushi. I never stopped going to the gym, though I did slow down. I still drank a cup of regular coffee each morning. I had an occassional glass of white wine.

I had a feeling Sam would emerge before the end of Leo. I didn't think he would want to be a Virgo. (I'm not that into astrology, but Steven and I are both fire signs, and I thought Sam would be too...I'm a little wacko like that.)

I didn't really want a baby shower, but my family kind of insisted. I'm very much a loner by nature, and certainly hate being the center of attention. Opening gifts in front of everyone, being 'on' when all I want to do is lie down - just not my idea of how to spend a Sunday. But I acquiesed. It was to be my father's first grandchild, and he wanted to show me off. I did insist that men be invited, however.

The family wanted to schedule it for late August, but I said that would be too late. I had a feeling. So the shower was August 8th.

Steven had to travel the next weekend for work, and the following Friday, August 20th, our hot water heater broke. (Obvious foreshadowing.)

Luckily we caught the water heater before it flooded, and arranged to have it replaced (for a pretty penny) the following day, Saturday, August 21st.

The hot water heater install took much of the morning, then Steven and I went to Not Just Snacks for a late lunch. It was really hot, and I got chicken vindaloo. Then we went to 7 Stars for bread and granola.

We came home, took looong showers, and sat in the a/c until we got hungry again.

I remember this day so vividly, the events leading up to the inevitable conclusion. Looking back, it seems like it's all in slow motion.

(This was the end of the week that I thought I had a feeling would see the arrival of Sam. I had given up on my hunches; I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken.)

I called Pizza Pie-er and placed an order. We were sitting on the couch watching tv. The pizza guy arrived, and as I stood up, my water broke. I knew what was happening and what we had to do, but I was in a bit of denial. It kept leaking, but I went to get the pizza anyway, and I really wanted to eat it right then.

No worries, I thought. I'll call my doctor after we eat!

But Steven, being a physician himself, would have none of it. I didn't even have a bag packed. We scrambled around after I called my doctor and was told by the doctor on call to get my butt to the hospital.

It was kind of awesome - I was so excited and filled with the biggest adrenaline rush! We were going to meet our new little guy. I just had to get through labor first...

We had one more day left for him to emerge a Leo...