27 January 2016

Gabriel's activities, sitting

Gabriel has been designing a board game for the past several nights.
Honestly, I have no interest in this game. The pieces move in confusing ways, and there are all these sheets of paper you have to reference in order to play.
But I do enjoy being the mother of a child who wants to create his own things.
I also enjoy a child who is quietly occupied in the evening hours.
"Isn't this so cool mom? I think it's going to be really fun, because I think it's a really good idea."
Yesterday was Gabriel's tenth birthday.
He had a roller skating birthday party, after school.
He had wanted a party at the indoor climbing gym, but I dropped the ball and didn't call in time and they were all booked up, so I sold him on roller skating instead.
It was a success, and I'm here to report that a gaggle of nine and ten-year-old boys are not too old to enjoy an afternoon of rollerskating.

Gabriel has started up with jiu jitsu. I am....not remotely interested in this activity. It's a thing that he and Quentin are really into. I think it's very expensive, but I'm supportive of kids activity involvement.

Gabriel also takes a weekly sewing class, and is a cub scout.

He would like to ADDITIONALLY do competitive swimming, but that would be entirely too many activities. I told him it was jiu jitsu OR swimming, not both. For now he is focusing on jiu jitsu. We may switch over to swimming in the spring.
I am relieved to be free of little league.
--
Everett is a bonafied sitter now!
I know that Gabriel came to sitting quite early, but.....I feel like that was around now? Four months?
That's early right?
Or was it not early when Gabriel did it either?
Gabriel was not an early crawler or walker, which was just fine with me. I don't think Everett will be either.
Sitting is nice though. It really expands their activity options.


25 January 2016

Daycare, breadwinners, casual racism

When I got pregnant, it was with the intention that I would go back to full time corporate office work after my maternity leave ended, and Quentin (who is self employed) would still do his work (catering/cooking classes/neighborhood butcher/other food related gigs) but LESS of it, and he would mostly be home with the baby, who we would put in daycare only part time, to cover the days that Quentin needed to cover for catering.

Well.
Following The Quentin Health Crisis of 2015, he is not working at all, not until after his second surgery at the end of March and subsequent recovery. This is the best (and only) thing for it, although there are reasons it gives him heartburn:
-As a self employed person, this time when he is not out there selling himself and building up clients and rapport makes him feel like when he starts it up again this spring, it will be like starting a business from the bottom again, with the slow build of gigs and recommendations and people who like him and want to pay him to feed their friends.
-He frets about his current lack of financial contribution to our household.
I am not especially bothered by either one of these things. The first I know to be true but there's nothing for it. He can't work right now, therefore he's not working right now. The second is just a total nonstarter. Again, he CANNOT work. There is no sense in fretting about the money he's not making while he's not working. While we were financially strapped and could have used that second line of income while I was on maternity leave, now that I'm back at work my salary more than covers our monthly expenses (covers them, plus will allow us to pay off the credit and medical debt we had to (unexpectedly) rack up this fall).
Well, whatever, that's where we are financially right now: not terrible/doing okay.

Although Quentin is not working, we decided to put Everett in daycare 2 days per week anyway, because:
- that gives Quentin a couple days a week to Get Shit Done Without A Baby
- lets Everett get used to his daycare as a younger baby who adjusts to such things more easily
The other three days per week the baby is with Quentin.
This whole set up is just a joy for everyone involved, I think.
Everett loves his daycare lady. He's happy to see her in the morning, he's happy to see me when I pick him up in the afternoon.
Everett also loves spending the day with his dad.
I (obviously) LOVE Everett, and Gabriel, and Quentin, but I enjoy them a lot more as a working lady.
Being home with the children makes me feel like a madwoman trapped in a tower.
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit this or not, but I like going to work every day.
I perhaps would not like it quite so well if Quentin and I both had very demanding office jobs, but because he is more at home (and more flexible in his job once he is back to it), and I don't have to add in all the home stuff to my work life, I dunno, I just really think this is the best.
And Quentin loves being home with the baby. He says there's no better person to spend your day with. They just delight each other. This thing, where I'm the primary breadwinner and he's the primary kid wrangler, is the way for us. We both get to do the thing we are best at and enjoy the most and it makes us both like it all a whole lot more.

Now, having said all that, there is this EXTRA (both extra as in very and extra as in additionally) weird piece, which should not matter, yet it does matter.
Quentin and I are not occupying our stereotyped gender roles, which creates an implicit manliness judgment of my husband from the vast unwashed.
This judgment has an extra layer of ickiness because my husband is a black man and there is a stereotype humming away in there about deadbeats who don't support their families.
And speaking of bullshit racial stereotypes, do you know that Quentin gets hassled when he is out with the baby?
That he has had his car blocked in at the grocery store while a woman photographed him and called the police?
That he carries a copy of Everett's birth certificate with him when he leaves the house, because this is a thing?
That there is a non-zero number of people in our community who think it is more likely that a black man running errands with a more lightly complected baby kidnapped said baby than that a black man has a baby lawfully under his care?
To the credit of our community's police force, they have not found reason to come to the scene of the alleged babynappings, probably because it's not illegal to be out with a baby, and no babies have been reported as napped.

Area Man Cares For Infant

I do not need to tell you that this is bullshit.
And that it makes me very angry.

It also makes me very sad.

22 January 2016

The all consuming joy of baby lip

My baby's lip! Can you even? I cannot even.
My whole life right now seems to be squishy little babies, which, whatever. I'm not sorry.
Babyhood is such a brief phase in all of our lives, and also such an all-consuming one.
And here I am, consumed by babyhood!
Again!
Particularly, I find myself consumed by the design and execution of this baby lip.

Is anyone else struck by how fair skinned my children are? I mean....that's unexpected, right?

21 January 2016

A post about feeding babies

Pumping at work is still (ha, "still"! Since yesterday!) a total slog. Not that I was expecting an overnight improvement. I do think it's getting slightly better each day, as my body gets used to producing milk when my baby is not around. Like, pumping today was better than pumping ten days ago. For sure.
However! Feeling sad and anxious 3X/daily for the sake of milk production is not super sustainable, so I'm eager to push past that. My hope is that I will simply grow out of this phase, and I think I MIGHT.
I'm giving myself 6 weeks to see an improvement, and then I'm going to pump without self imposed sadness, and produce what I produce. 6 weeks from when I started work that is, which was almost two weeks ago.
I just counted it up on my calendar and Everett will be 18 weeks old on Sunday. I'm already counting down to when I can be done with this pumping business.
34 more weeks!

When Gabriel was a baby, the recommendation was to introduce solids at 4 months; now it's a recommendation of 6 months. An interesting thing about having kids almost 10 years apart is that you can really SEE how parenting experts have changed their tunes. And yet, whatever the recommendation is RIGHT NOW, that's the one that is DEFINITELY RIGHT AND WE WILL NEVER CHANGE OUR MINDS.
There are some things like car seat safety and such where obviously we just have better technology and better laws now, but there are other things, like cosleeping for instance, where it's such a moving target, I think it's silly how FIRM 'they' are in their current position, even though that position will likely change if you give it a year or five.
But anyway, now the recommendation is six months (at the youngest) and there's quite a body of research backing up that age.
I have been sorely tempted to start Everett on solids at five months, to take some of the pressure off of this whole pumping situation, but realistically I'm too intimidated by all that research to really go against it.
WHAT IF I GIVE MY BABY A BITE OF BANANA AND THEN HE GETS DIABEETUS??
Well that probably won't happen but there's this research that says it MIGHT and I just cannot be the one who dances with the devil on that stuff.
Everett already shows signs of developmental readiness (pincer grasp, can sit on his own, good hand-eye coordination, interest in food), so I am pretty confident that he'll be ready at six months.
 Can I maintain my PUMPING SADNESS for the extra five weeks past my self imposed deadline to get him to where we can start supplementing with solids? Well if you break it up into chunks like that, I think I can.
Six weeks to see if it gets better (and we are already through two of them), and then five more weeks after that if it HASN'T.
This I can manage.
--
And now I'm going to jot down the stuff that Everett does at four months, which is really just a record for myself, because the poor neglected second child does not have a baby book:
- Sits on his own (for a few minutes at a time before he wobbles over)
- Rolls easily from front to back
- Rolls from back to front only if he's naked
- Sucks his thumb
- Reaches for (and successfully grasps) toys
- Coos, yells and giggles (has /k/ and /g/ consonants)
- Pats me while he's nursing
- Plays with his feet

20 January 2016

Things (I Hope!) To Do While Pumping

My current at work pumping schedule is 3X day, for a 1/2 hour each time. The actual pumping portion is more like 15-20 minutes. 
Right now, in week 2, day 3 of Jenny is a Working Lady Again, I can't really do ANYTHING while I pump, because I don't have effective pumping sessions unless I am actively looking at pictures and videos of Everett, making myself feel sad maternal feelings about not being with him.
This sucks!
Three times a day, I have to make myself intentionally sad about being away from my baby!
This does not ease the transition of being away from my baby!
At all!
Each night I take videos of Everett nursing to watch the next day, to induce maternal longing, to produce breastmilk.
I'm hoping this is temporary, and eventually my body will get with the milking on demand situation, and I can do things during these 1/2 hour periods besides feel sad and a little bit anxious.

I would LIKE to do the things that I do while I'm nursing Everett, which include:
Reading
Listening to podcasts
Catching up on email
Playing games on my iPhone

I would surely appreciate your recommendations for favorite books, podcasts, and iPhone games, because I hope to someday (soon!) be able to do that.
Nothing that will make me too anxious or distressed (no Serial).

19 January 2016

Maternity Pants, Exercise

I've been wearing maternity jeans (one size up from my pre-pregnancy size) since I had the baby. Not like, full over the belly maternity jeans, the kind that has the all around the waist sort of spandexy waistband thing. Oh, I see it's called a demi-panel. Anyhow, that's what I've been wearing, for pants, since I had the baby. The baby who will be four months old tomorrow.
This is my second week back at work, and I realized very quickly last Monday (first day!) that my maternity jeans situation was just not doing wonders for my self esteem.
So I bought a pair of regular adult lady waistband jeans, two sizes up from pre-pregnancy, but no maternity waist. I got them last night, and man. I hate this pants size, but I feel like a million bucks relative to maternity jeans me. I should probably buy a second pair of pants in this (temporary!) size.

Speaking of this size being temporary, I am super done being this size! I was already about 25lbs up from the Jenny Grace Comfort Zone when I got pregnant, and now I'm 15lbs up from THAT weight. So overall I feel 40lbs too heavy to like the way I look in things.

However!

If I consume fewer calories than I burn, I don't produce enough breastmilk to feed my infant. So I can't diet, or really focus on weightloss at all right now.
Which is a bummer.

And all of my 'free' time at work right now is devoted to my slog of a pumping schedule, so I don't have much (any) time to add in exercise.

I don't know where I'm going with this, except that I should definitely pack away the maternity pants (make me feel like sea slug), but I would like to buy as few pants as possible at this weight because spending money on temporary clothes fills me with despair. Except maybe not as despair-filled as when I don't have clothes at all.

14 January 2016

2015: the year of siblings and shitbags

- Quentin. Quentin almost died in October. When our baby was 4 weeks old, his large intestine tore, and he very nearly died of sepsis on the couch in an extreme stereotype of Men Who Refuse to Go to the Doctor.
Then he spent 12 days in critical care at the hospital.
Did I mention that our baby was a newborn at the time?
Anyhow, he is currently more or less okay. He has a colostomy bag right now, and a second surgery in March to reconnect his innards and return to a shitbag free life.
We are very excited for this.

- Everett! Our perfect and delightful baby Everett was born on his due date, 9/20/15, at 3am. His birth was not COMPLETELY without complication, but everything was basically okay, and we both came out of it more or less uninjured.
Everett, on his birthday
Everett, when he was still incredibly tiny
Everett, pretty recently
Everett is a delightful, magic baby. He is smiley and sweet and snuggly. Easy, good at nursing.
I want to discuss this more later, but he responds to hippie remedies in a way that boggles my scientific mind.
Before Everett was born, I had some frets about the large age difference between my children. I am here to report that I was fretting over nothing. My children are a DELIGHT.






 My children are also very photogenic.

-Gabriel! Gabriel is doing much better this school year as compared to last. Last year his teacher was....not good. This year he has a tough but fair teacher and he is doing very well.

Oh! In June we took a family vacation to San Diego, where we ended up connecting with Gabriel's older 1/2 sister, and that has just been the best. They hadn't previously had much of a relationship because it was through the filter of their dad, who's...flaky.
But they are crazy about each other and I love it.
We had her (and her 1/2 sister) up to visit over the summer, and it was great.
They are great.
Gabriel is great.

-Work. Work is also great! I'm working as a manager now, which is new and a bit scary, but I'm fumbling my way through. I finally feel like I have a proper CAREER. That's really something.
I'm BACK at work now, this is my first week here from maternity leave.
It is....okay.
I mean my expectations for coming back to work were not high. I feel sad about my baby, I hate pumping, but I do like my job, and it's nice to have a grownup life.
Oh, and also. Quentin is not working right now because of his health, and we are just coming back from a LONG winter break for Gabriel.  I can confidently tell you that I love my family a lot more when I'm not spending 24hrs/day with them. The break of me going to work is good for ALL of our sanity.
I'm very tired.

Anyhow, this year has been really nice, except for the end bit where my husband almost died, but even that was offset by having a very lovely baby. Although at the very end of the year, my plumbing and refrigeration and electricity all stopped working IN CONCERT at my house,  but that's since been solved, so maybe let's just not discuss that, and say, 2015 was good.
I'm glad Quentin didn't die.
I'm also glad he won't be shitting in bag for the rest of his life, although I like to think I'm a good enough person to be okay with that.




10 January 2016

2015 In Review

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Acupuncture. This has definitely been my year of alternative medicine. And I REALLY LOVE western medicine.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any resolutions last year. This year I think my resolutions are going to be about number of times per week that I shower, and maybe about drinking enough water, but I haven't ironed them out yet.

 3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Me!
Molly (one of my dearest friends).
My sister-in-law Casey.
That's the inner circle. Other people I KNOW gave birth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My mom's cousin Scott died of lung cancer in May, just after his 55th birthday, leaving behind his wife and two young sons. Here is where I tell you to PLEASE quit smoking.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. The last time I left the country was when I visited my brother Duncan in Chile in 2005. I got my passport renewed the year a dear high school friend got married in Mexico (2008? 2009 maybe?) because I really WANTED to go to her wedding, but I was just too poor. I hope I need it at least once before it expires.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Sleep. Shoes that fit me. I would have liked to spend less time in the hospital, but I'm not sure how that fits into this question.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
5/7/15 my nephew Baby Duncan was born
9/13/15 Molly's baby Sadie was born
9/20/15 was Everett's due date AND birthday
10/19/15 Quentin was admitted to the hospital (and 10/30/15 he was released)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I had a baby which feels like a pretty big achievement.
Also, on the more achievementy side of things, I successfully managed a huge work project, and I applied and was hired for a management position at my company.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Definitely self care.
I also have regrets about not forcing Quentin to the doctor in June when he got really sick.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a baby, which does some legitimate damage. I had a lot of pregnancy related ailments (Sciatica, swelling, back problems, sleep problems, etc).
And it wasn't me, but my husband almost died. Which was....bad.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought this fox rug which seriously fills me with joy when I look at it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I think that Gabriel has just been an incredible big brother.
I was amazed at how NICE and THERE FOR ME everyone was when Quentin was in the hospital. I mean, it makes sense, but it was still surprising. And uplifting.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Gabriel's dad, which is as usual/same old/same old. My mom and sister went to NYC for a girls' trip when Quentin was in the hospital which was really upsetting to me. 2/3 of my brothers had their super disappointing moments.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Healthcare.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Everett! Sadie! My friend Julia got married! Gabriel got to hang out with his sister! Gabriel's sister visited us!

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Hello by Adele, but I think mainly because it came out towards the END of 2015, and Gabriel is always singing it, and then I've started answering the phone by singing it at people.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I think overall happier.
b) thinner or fatter? FATTER.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer, but I hope to resolve that now that I'm back from maternity leave.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Sleeping, eating out, things you can't do with a baby. I wish I'd had more sex before my husband wound up with his (temporary!) colostomy bag, although I was super pregnant and not really in the mood. It's just a bummer now. Because my husband poops in a bag until March.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Angsting about things I can't change.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
It was our year for Gabriel at Christmas. The usual. Christmas Eve we do at my grandma's, then Christmas morning at our house, afternoon at Quentin's mom's, dinner at my parents'. Quentin refused to partake in holiday festivities because of his shitbag situation, which was a bummer. He did end up coming to Christmas dinner though, which was nice.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
With Everett! He's a magic baby.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Blackish

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No. I'm not big on hating people though.

24. What was the best book you read?
Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw! I just read it as part of a sort of online book club thing via Amy at angry chicken. McGraw wrote one of my favorite childhood books (Mara, Daughter of the Nile), and this one was also satisfying.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I'm not sure I made any. In fact, I know that I didn't. I used to pride myself on KNOWING MUSIC but I've been out of that scene for years.

26. What did you want and get?
A baby! A promotion!

27. What did you want and not get?
Quentin has our deck covered with STUFF and I have been begging him to clear it off for MONTHS and it makes me really angry every time I walk into my house, even though he has legitimate almost-dying type excuses for not doing it yet.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I went and saw Straight Outta Compton when I was a million months pregnant and it was horrifically hot and humid in Santa Cruz.
I went for the climate control, but I was actually super thoroughly entertained by the movie as well.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was Too Pregnant. I went to lunch with my mom and sister and drank a cocktail, and my mom bought me a pair of earrings. Quentin made dinner at home. The next night, we went out to the movies (see above).
I turned 33. 

30. What is one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Sleep, not feeling quite so swollen, maybe if my husband hadn't fallen apart, that would have been nice.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
PREGNANT.

32. What kept you sane?
Quentin, when he's not making me crazy, is very good for my sanity.
I have a couple managers at work who are really top notch people.
Gabriel and Everett have both been enormously comforting.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Pass.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Black Lives Matter.

35. Who did you miss?
Molly, Duncan (and family), just most of my friends now that I think about it.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Everett!!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
EVERYTHING can fall apart, and it might do it all at once!

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Hello, how are you? It's so typical of me to talk about myself I'm sorry.

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009 - Apparently I didn't do it in 2009
2008