31 December 2010

2010 Places

I slept in the following places in 2010:
Total states visited: 7
Total countries visited (but not slept in): 4 (Mexico, Belize, Honduras, British West Indies)

30 December 2010

Use it up . .

wear it out, make it do or do without. It's an L. family tradition, and it is one that I have adopted.

Which is why we had a toothbrush holder that looked like this for several months:
I dropped it on the tile floor of the bathroom long ago, and Eric glued it back together. It was only when I more recently dropped the soap dispenser on the floor and it shattered that we decided to go ahead and replace both the toothbrush holder and soap dispenser at the same time. The soap dispenser went into use immediately; the toothbrush holder was wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. I maybe should have taken and posted pictures of the replacements, but come on, they aren't that exciting. They are a toothbrush holder and a soap dispenser.

Now, if only I could find a way to drop the television so we could replace it with a fancy one...

23 December 2010

Where I've Been

Yes, I am still alive. My time also seems to be very consumed with a newborn. Who would have guessed? I have been wanting to post for a while, but what to write, what to write? I have this horrible fear that my blog, which has for the last three and a half years has been my place to express my thoughts on whatever I'd like, will become a mommy blog. I don't really have a problem with mommy blogs; I just don't want this one to be solely about the Mancub complete with pictures of every little thing he does and endless descriptions of his current habits (eating, sleeping, spitting up, dirtying diapers). Surely I can find more interesting things to say.

Only right now, not so much. My day consists of feeding, napping, cleaning up spit-up, changing diapers and making feeble attempts at keeping my flat liveable. Also, a lack of sleep makes it difficult for me to engage in any sort of political or philosophical discussion, despite the fact that I am still reading and listening to very interesting things.

In conclusion, I am still alive. I'm liking the mom thing, I just don't want to bore you out of your minds with descriptions of it. Or to bore you out of your minds with pictures, so here are just a few:

15 December 2010

A Little More than a Muffin Top

I think the word "awkward" gets thrown around far too casually. It's come to be used as a word to describe things that are not necessarily awkward but maybe are just plain strange or nerdy or something. So when I describe a situation as awkward, I really try to make sure that the situation was actually awkward.

On Friday night I went to the dinner portion Eric's work Christmas party. We stayed our first few post-hospital days with Eric's Grandma L., and she was very kind to tend the Mancub while I went to the dinner. I really wanted to go to the dinner because I hadn't yet met any of Eric's co-workers, and the dinner was being held at Tepanyaki, which is one of those Japanese grill restaurants like Benihana's where they grill your food right in front of you. These restaurants are on the pricey side, so I'd never been to one. The thought of missing out on such a free meal made me decide that I could pull myself together five days after giving birth to attend this function. I was (and am) still looking fairly pregnant at that point, but I did my hair and make-up and put on one of my nicer maternity outfits for the occasion.

As we waited for the employees and their dates to arrive, we all mingled and greeted each other. One of Eric's co-workers said to me, "So, are you so excited to have a baby?" I replied that I was very thrilled. The co-worker's date then said, "You should have told her you weren't pregnant, just to mess with her." To which I replied, "Oh, I'm not pregnant. I had a baby on Monday." I could see this dawning awareness on his face as he realized that he had just told me I looked pregnant, so I very quickly tried to remedy with, "It's okay. I totally still look pregnant. Easy mistake!" I'm not really sure if that actually made anything better.

The dinner was awesome, by the way.

Now enjoy some topically related Brian Regan (the whole thing is pretty funny, the related bit starts at 2:00):

13 December 2010

The Obligatory Birth Story

I have hemmed and hawed for longer than you can imagine about how much to write regarding the details of the Mancub's birth. I don't necessarily mind telling the world about my experience, but I also don't know how much people really want to know. I know that I really love to read about people's experiences, so I've ultimately included the sort of information that I would want to know, and I've left out details that I may wonder about but would never actually ask a person.

If you only want the watered down version, here it is: Epidurals are amazing.

I was admitted to the hospital for induction at about 7:45. By 8 my IV was going with pitocin (it is the synthetic version of oxytocin, which is what causes contractions). The nurse checked me, and I was about 1 cm. dilated and 90-95% effaced, like I had been for four weeks. I had hardly slept the night before, nervous both about my induction and my dad's heart surgery (which went great, by the way. He is doing well and on the mend.) Once the pitocin was going, I fell asleep and slept off and on for the next two hours. I could definitely feel the contractions, but they were no worse than they had been for the four or so weeks that I had been feeling them intermittently.

At about 10 my midwife arrived, checked me, found minimal progression and broke my water. During the next couple of hours my pain began to pick up, but I was able to handle it fairly well. I practiced my breathing techniques and tried to focus my attention on other things. I was checked at about 12, only to learn I was a mere 2.5 cm. dilated and 100% effaced.

For the next two hours the contractions intensified, and they came faster and faster, often only 30-45 seconds apart. I soon found that I was not dealing well with the pain, primarily because the contractions were coming so close together that I didn't have time to relax and regroup between contractions. I requested some pain medication and was given fentanyl via my IV. It started working very quickly and helped take the edge off the pain. It also made me fairly dizzy and extremely tired. Plus, it wore off very quickly. I was ready for another dose before I was allowed to have one. I started to try to walk through my contractions, but because I was on pitocin, I was basically tied to the monitors. I wouldn't have minded wandering around my room with the IV, but there wasn't a way for me to wander around with the heart rate and contraction monitors. Since I couldn't walk around, I tried just standing and swaying through contractions. Sometimes I would lean on Eric, and sometimes I would lean on the bed. My midwife brought me an exercise ball, but sitting was very uncomfortable for me.

I soon realized that standing was going to wear me out long before the real work of pushing would begin. I started to switch between sitting and standing, but this too was fairly exhausting. I got back in bed and proceeded to cry, primarily because I didn't know what to do. I knew I'd want an epidural at some point, but I was very worried I'd get it too soon, and it would slow things down, which would create a greater need for pitocin, which would then make me need a stronger epidural, which would then slow things down, etc. I think Eric really didn't know what to make of things at that point. I was having contractions so frequently that I didn't really have time to explain my concerns. I think he just thought I was in a lot of pain, which I was, but that wasn't really the source of my tears. I asked Eric for a blessing, and he gave me one.

I requested another dose of fentanyl, and as the nurse had warned, it wasn't as effective the second time. The next time she came in, I told her I wanted my epidural. I had no idea how much I had progressed, and I didn't really care anymore. The anesthesiologist was up in no time, and Eric took the chance to go get something to eat. I should make it clear that Eric is a fairly squeamish person, and he wasn't really looking forward to watching me go through the whole labor process with all its associated messes and pains. He had thus far done a great job. I really didn't mind that he was stepping out for the epidural. I wasn't the slightest bit worried about it, and I don't have anything close to an aversion to needles. They just don't bother me.

I had planned on telling the anesthesiologist that I wanted a very low-dose epidural, just to take the edge off the pain. I knew that epidurals came with these little buttons that you could push if you wanted to increase your dose, so I figured I'd start very low and work my way up, at my own pace, if I needed. But when the anesthesiologist was actually there and asked me if I had any questions, I told him I didn't, and he went to town. The whole thing went over without a hitch. When the epidural was in full-force, I couldn't feel a single thing. It dawned on me then that I should have told him to make it weak to start with, but it was too late.

The nurse checked me, and I was dilated 4.5 cm. It was roughly 2:30. I vaguely remember telling her rather enthusiastically that that cervical check (which I couldn't feel at all) was the best one ever. Then I fell asleep. At some point my nurse brought in a new nurse and told me that the new nurse would be taking care of me for the rest of the delivery. Mostly I just slept and slept. It was fantastic. I was going on only about 3 hours of sleep to begin with, and then the few hours that I had dealt with labor pains took a lot out of me. I was very glad to have a nap.

At about 4:30 I woke up, and my nurse came in and checked me again. She said, "You're not going to believe this, but you are dilated to a 9." She then told me she'd check with the midwife, but she'd probably be back in about an hour and pushing would commence. Eric and I started watching The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I bought for Eric for his birthday, and which has brought him hours and hours of viewing pleasure since that time.

As my nurse had told me, my midwife showed up about 5:30, and things were pretty much ready to go. I was given some instructions on how to push, and the work began. Only, it didn't feel like work at all because I couldn't feel anything. I was using a mirror, so I could see my progress, and I could see what my midwife was doing. She gave me lots of positive feedback and encouragement so even though I couldn't feel anything, I knew when I was doing things right. I pushed for about 50 minutes, and then I was finished. It was actually pretty easy, and not because I am awesome - just because epidurals are awesome.

I have to say that watching the head emerge was amazing. At first when the midwife pointed out that his head was visible, I wasn't sure that I was really seeing the head. I wondered if she could see something that I could not. Soon I could tell that it was his head, but it was such a strange version of a head, that it was still hard to believe. When his head actually came out, and there was a face on it, it finally dawned on me how real the whole experience was. Throughout the pushing phase I would look at Eric to see what he was looking at. He had expressed a bit of dismay that I wanted to use the mirror (I think because that meant he might actually have to see something), so I was curious as to whether he was watching me, glancing at the mirror, staring at a wall or what. It was really neat to look over at him right as the Mancub was born and see his expression.

When he was born, they placed him on my belly to clip the cord. We had already told them that Eric wasn't really keen to do that, and so I was caught off guard when they asked me if I wanted to. Had they told me in advance that they would offer, I would have taken them up on it, but at that precise moment it sort of freaked me out, and I let them do it.

I had stated in my preferences that I wanted them to lay the baby on my chest for skin-to-skin contact as soon as they had wiped him off a bit, but because there was concern that he may have breathed in some of his own fecal matter in utero, there was a special newborn team on hand who took him to a little corner of the room to observe him. They kept him over there for a long time watching him try to get his breathing under control while the midwife and nurse finished up the things they needed to do with me. They were very kind to be reassuring me that everything was fine with the baby, but to be honest, I wasn't worried. I knew that things could have been better, but I also knew that if there was anything serious going on they would have taken him out of the room altogether. The team decided to take him to the special care nursery to observe him for an hour, but before they took him, they let me hold him for about two minutes. It took about an hour for my nurse to finish things up with me, and we met Eric and the baby and the nursery nurse in the hallway and were transferred to our regular room.

The recovery has gone remarkably well, besides the hormonal fever that accompanied my milk coming in. I hadn't been warned that that could happen, so it sort of scared me when I became so ill the night I left the hospital. I was worried that I had some sort of infection, but when I called the midwife she knew without me telling her that my milk had come in. I have since taken my ibuprofen every eight hours, even when I haven't really been in any pain.

Overall, I've had a great experience. I was not thrilled to be induced, but things went swimmingly. I'm thrilled about my baby; I'm a stereotypical mother who thinks he is just perfect, and I shower him with cuddles, kisses and praise all the time, even when he is screaming about a diaper change or wanting a feed.

11 December 2010


The Mancub*:Born 6 Dec 2010 at 6:39 p.m.
7 lbs 4 oz
19.5 inches long

We're both doing great, and I hope to post more soon.

*Official blog nickname to be determined.

05 December 2010

Books for the Mancub (sort of)

It occurred to me several months ago that we would be buying a few Christmas gifts for a baby this year - our very own baby. As I thought about what to get the mancub, the practical side of me couldn't let go of the fact that this mancub will be less than a month old at Christmas and will primarily be interested in nursing, napping and being changed, not in Christmas presents. But the nurturing side of me wanted to make sure that we would have a story to tell the mancub about his first Christmas. Or at least in the future when he asked what he got for his first Christmas I would not have to reply, "Socks. Plus lots of attention from family members." I finally settled on buying him some books. Eric agreed.

Only, as we started shopping online for books, we quickly realized these books were only sort of for him. Eric immediately wanted to find good deals on any and all Bill Peet books. We ended up with:

I remembered a couple of books from my early childhood that I just adored, and I had to order them:

Plus, I've been wanting copies of Shel Silverstein's volumes of poems for ages. I did not order Where the Sidewalk Ends, but I did get these two:

It became even more evident to us when some of these books arrived and we sat on the floor poring over them that these books were for the mancub in name only. Eric and I are really looking forward to reading these books with him as he grows up, and we sure hope they become as much of a beloved memory of his childhood as they were in ours.

What favorite childhood books would you buy for yourself?

04 December 2010

Induction Schminduction

I did not get induced yesterday. When I called at 6:30 a.m. to find out what time I needed to come in, I was told that they already had had two emergency c-sections, plus a number of women who went into birth naturally, plus a few women ahead of me in the induction line. (I am at the bottom of the list until Monday, when I will be 41 weeks along, and thus "indicated" rather than "elective.") In other words, the labor and delivery ward was almost completely full, and they needed to save a couple of open rooms for the ladies who were bound to come in on their own that day. The lady, who had no sympathy for me whatsoever, told me to call back at 9. When I called at 9, I talked to a much more sympathetic lady who told me she was very sorry that I would have to wait until Monday to be induced. What she said was basically the same thing, but the way she said it made me feel so much better about the whole situation.

On the down-side, I was really looking forward to having my baby by now. My back is really bothering me, and I am anxious to get this baby out. On the up-side, I'm not actually looking forward to being induced. I'd much rather go into labor on my own, and this gives me a little more time to do so.

Plus, our company Christmas party was last night, and I totally would have missed it had I been induced yesterday.

Also, on Monday my dad is having triple bypass surgery, so if you are the praying sort, we'd both appreciate your prayers. It is a big day for our family.

01 December 2010

Christmas Carding

I decided many moons ago that this year Eric and I would be sending out Christmas cards. We have opted not to send birth announcements when the mancub gets here in part because I figured we can probably do a Christmas card every year, but we may not be able to do birth announcements for each kid. That may sound backwards since we will definitely have fewer kids than Christmases together, but I just anticipate that life with a newborn can get kind of crazy, and then all of a sudden you have a five-year-old you never announced to the world. But a Christmas card? Sure! And if we miss a year or two, no biggie. Most people will not notice, and those who do notice probably won't care. (You won't notice or care, will you?)

So you can probably imagine that when Shutterfly announced that they are giving out 50 free Christmas cards to anyone willing to blog about their excellent Christmas card collection, you can bet I jumped on the deal. If you are into sending out Christmas cards, you should do likewise.

I've used Shutterfly before - namely, to create a book about our near-year in New Zealand. We love that book, and we show it to just about anybody who is willing to look at it. And let's face it, most people who are invited to our apartment are polite enough to act at least a little interested in our book. (Thanks to those of you who have been coerced into looking through our New Zealand book.)

I'm a huge fan of Shutterfly calendars. Every year one of Eric's cousins makes a calendar for Grandma L. featuring the great-grandchildren. I'm thrilled that this year we will have a child of our very own featured in said calendar. Although, to be honest, we are BARELY meeting the deadline. (Look at all the problems your tardiness is causing, Mancub.)

I think the real deal for me, though, is the sheer quantity of Shutterfly Christmas card options. I am not artsy. Sadly, I do not do Photoshop, so the idea of mocking up my own card and having it printed is not really feasible. Fortunately, Shutterfly employs people who are good at such things, and there are a gazillion card options. I definitely prefer some over others, and that's the way it should be! Other people will prefer ones that I am not thrilled about, which is great because boy golly I'd be embarrassed if umpteen people sent out the exact same card as me. (Clearly, I have my priorities straight here.)