Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Columbia, The Zoo, and Farewell to My Phone

Made a mini road trip yesterday with Everleigh and her gramps to Columbia for a work thing. They played and shopped while I learned about integrating simulation into standardized patient work. I kinda wish I had gotten to play too.

Dad said he put a blanket down outside and let Ev show off her amazing rolling abilities in the grass. He said once she discovered the scent and texture of the fresh grass under her, she was smitten. It occurred to me that since we live in the city in our loft-ish townhouse, she doesn't get a lot of grass-play. We must correct this. On the way home we stopped at McDonalds to use the restrooms and I dropped my cell phone RIGHT into the toilet. It was in my well-intentioned sweater pocket and it didn't stand a chance. Maybe this is the sign I was looking for to buy an iPhone?

In other news: Sunday our little family made our first zoo trip! Everleigh seemed more interested in the other kids there than the animals, but Scott was super adorably excited to see the new polar bear. We rode the carousel with Ev on a little beetle bug and saw some pretty awesome tantrums. One little boy sporting a teddy bear backpack with a parental leash attachment threw himself on the ground, belly first to avoid leaving the slides. I laughed and thought--classic move! Everleigh--please don't do that stuff, k? But if you do, I hope I can have as good of a sense of humor about it as I do now!

Then on the carousel ride, a few young kids threw their hands in the air and yelled, "free the leashed kids!", which I thought was super awesome and funny. Protesters in the making folks.

That's about it! Zoo pics to come later today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pump It

I'm just gonna go right out and say it: pumping kind of sucks. I don't know if this makes me more or less of a dynamic pro-breastfeeding mama, but I can't help how I feel. I don't know if it's the fact that you're hooking a machine up to your chest, the industrial sounds it makes (my husband compares it to a really loud coffee maker), or maybe actually seeing said milk in all its glory that weirds me out the most.

The thing about breastfeeding is that I ALWAYS saw myself doing it. I never really questioned whether or not I would. My mom breastfed me and all my sisters, and I guess I just grew up seeing it and thinking that's how you feed babies. Plus, I am kind of poor ;) so free sounded better than not-free.

But the whole time I was pregnant, whenever I would think about milk actually being manufactured by my body and coming out of my breasts, it kind of blew my mind. Jigga-WHAT? I read a book on the subject, but when it got into all the medical diagrams and whatnot, my ADD kicked in and I tuned out. What I got was, "my body magically produces milk and the baby drinks it and we all win". I even took a class on breastfeeding while I was pregnant in order to prepare myself. Here's what I came away with "I am doing the best thing for my baby. Breastfeeding is awesome." Along with a little bit of "take your breast out, put the baby on it. Go!"

Needless to say, my first 2 weeks of trying with an actual baby were interesting. I cried a lot. Everleigh cried a lot. My nipples cracked and bled a little. Then a layer basically came off, leaving behind super pink, tough-cookie nipples. I got my milk in and figured out how the heck to do it right, and Everleigh put up with my punk ass until I got it together.

It's been awesome ever since.

But something cool about breastfeeding that's not so cool about pumping is that when you breastfeed, you don't typically see the milk much, you know? It goes directly from you to baby and unless baby is a messy eater, it's a fairly clean transfer. With pumping, everything's staring right at you. You see your nipples going into the suction things and getting all puffy and weird. Then you see individual drops of milk coming out, dripping down into the bottles, etc. Then when you finish, you're holding two CLEAR containers of breast milk.

I feel like this should not give me the willies but it does sometimes.

I was thinking about this the other day as I pumped, and I really think it's a societal norm issue. I mean, I have a whole gallon of cow's milk in my fridge in a clear container and I've never once thought it was weird. And yet, holding a warm freshly pumped bottle of my own milk still seems a little strange. I MADE that. I made that baby and then I made this milk to feed it.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dear Everleigh (4 months!)

Dear Everleigh,

You're 4 months old now (this post is actually a little late, but I'm sure you won't mind). I don't know how this happened, except that we just kept on loving you and feeding you and giving you baths and dressing you and putting you to bed and somehow you got bigger and bigger :) The time is going by so fast, and sometimes I just want to put the brakes on so I can enjoy your sweet babyness a little longer. Other times I cannot wait until you're a little bigger and we can do more fun things together. We have so many adventures ahead of us!

Here's what you're doing now so I don't forget: this month you learned how to roll over from your back to your tummy and now that's all you want to do. On the couch--roll over. On your playmat--roll over. In your crib--roll over. When I'm trying to change your poopy diaper--roll over. Sometimes it's not as good an idea as other times. Regardless, I'm so proud of you for how hard you try! Right now you can roll over and push yourself up, but you can't hold yourself up for too long so eventually your face goes splat! down into the couch/playmat/crib/diaper changer and then you cry because dang it if you didn't just want to be able to hold your head up a little bit longer.

You're becoming quite the character too. Ever since you were teeny tiny you haven't been very big on sitting still. You want to get around, but since you can't do it yet for yourself, someone else is expected to do it for you :). And you don't just like being held. You like being held and walked--and not in place either because you know the difference. But I don't even mind. I'll pace the floors with you over and over because I know I'm so absolutely lucky to have you in my life. Plus carrying you is a good workout for my arms (which frankly need all the help they can get).

You are what your papa and I refer to as a "tough customer". You know how to laugh, but you reserve laughter for only the funniest of the funnies. You want us to work for it :) which I think is kind of great. Your dad makes you laugh better than anyone by shaking his head around and acting like a crazy person. You seem really into crazy humor.

You are also a super snuggler when you're sleepy. I fall asleep most nights cuddling with you and I just can't help it. When I lay down beside you, you always scoot in for the cuddle and I can feel your little baby breath on my face. You look most like your papa when you sleep and I love him even more for that. You have big things ahead of you kid so rest up! I can't wait to see what you'll do next.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Get It

In adjusting to my new role as mom, I've felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation for my own mother and everything she did for me and my sisters growing up. It's a bit sappy, but I just felt compelled to reflect on the some of the ways motherhood has changed my own perspective of my mom.

As a child growing up, mom was always there. Mostly. Except when she wasn't. See, she somehow managed to work full time as an RN, raise 4 daughters, and also serve as a nurse in the army reserves. This was quite the balancing act I'm sure. When I was 8 (and my sisters were 9, 6, and 4 respectively), my mother was called to active duty and sent to Saudi Arabia. She was gone for about 8 months total, which for a child is pretty much forever. My parents explained to us the best they could about WHY mommy had to leave and so on, but still--it was tough. My dad became responsible for a number of things I'm sure he never anticipated: picking out our outfits, fixing our hair, buying my big sister her first training bra. He also worked full time and was taking night classes to get his MBA, so we spent a lot of time with grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and my parent's friends.

I'm not going to lie--we all felt a little abandoned. I cannot imagine the tears my mom cried over the whole thing or way my dad must have felt. It burned a lasting feeling into all of us that people we love can go away. Upon my mom's return, I remember her crying about how much we'd all changed--we were so tall!, my youngest sister was in glasses now, etc. This was before the days of Skype. We literally had not seen our mother in months. We had very few opportunities to talk to her. Looking back, we probably made her feel worse when she got back the way kids do sometimes, by giving her the cold shoulder or bringing it up a lot. I'm sorry mom.

The year she got back, she also had a surprise pregnancy! Our whole family was super excited (especially when we learned it was another girl!). I have a hard time remembering my mom being pregnant and I'm not sure why. Maybe I was too into my own stuff at the time? Maybe she did such an awesome job of keeping up with us and the house and her job that it never occurred to me that she would need more sleep, less stress, and more help while pregnant. Or maybe it's because every picture of that pregnancy has probably been thrown away or tucked away in a secret box somewhere. Who knows.

My youngest sister, Johnna Suzanne was born in February 1992. When my mom went into labor, my sisters and I were sent off to grandma's in our jammies, knowing by the time we woke up we'd be big sisters! Something didn't go right. Time stretched on. We heard hushed phone calls between my grandma and parents. We weren't told anything. Finally, grandma let us know that our sister had been born but she had some complications and that later on my dad would come get us.

My dad explained to us that Johnna had a heart problem (which I now know was a pretty rare condition called Tetralogy of Fallot) and that she had been transferred to a special hospital for children. We couldn't hold her because she was in the NICU. It was scary and sad. Eventually, she was sent home with us and my parents were told that she would likely not live long. She lived 2 weeks and died in my parents' arms at the hospital after struggling to breathe. We were at school and never got to really say goodbye. Later reports surfaced that many men and women who served in Desert Storm went on to have children with a variety of birth deffects, including a higher than normal rate of Tetralogy of Fallot, which served as an additional painful blow.

After that, my mom was never the same. I can't begin to speculate on how she felt. I can only say that I now understand the fear and grief I feel at the mere thought of losing my child. I understand the joys (and struggles) of pregnancy and childbirth. The absolute love you feel for your child when she's born and the physical exhaustion and hormonal high that follows.

I understand why you might burn the candle at both ends so you can spend time with your children while also trying to make more money to hopefully give them a better life. I understand the pain of leaving your child to go to work--the worries that something will happen to them when you're not there, the guilt in knowing they'll miss you. I can better understand why you might occasionally snap when your child is kicking your seat and you've asked them to stop and you've only had 3 hours of sleep and you know you'll only get 3 hours again tonight. I understand that all the trips to the zoo and the amusement park, the camping adventures and road trips were for US. That my parents probably worked all year and saved money to try and do nice things for us (Mom, I'm sorry for all the backseat fighting and the "she's touching me"s and the "are we there yet"s). I understabd that the fear of not having enough for your child can drive you to do just about anything, including going to Saudi Arabia to live in a giant tent and take 2 minute showers every other day and miss your kids and your husband like crazy.

I get it now, Mom. And I want you to know that while I didn't always agree 100% with your choices, I now understand. Thank you for giving me the greatest gift you could have ever given me--I can only hope to be as strong, gracious, and loving a mother as you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Stuff I Love

Baby vintage! From heartandsew...

A fashionable diaper bag by Petunia Pickle Bottom....

Baby leg warmers by Crawler Covers....

Everything by Emily Martin of theblackapple....

and baby slippers from Wooly Baby...


Art Baby

Little miss E has gotten a taste of what the city has to offer her and is now painfully bored at home. So papa and I decided to take her out for a little night on the town and went to First Fridays in the Crossroads. For those of you non-Kansas Citiers (City-ites? not sure), First Fridays is pretty amazing. It began several years back when some of the artists of the city bought some worse- for -wear property in the downtown and started making art and creating their own little pocket galleries in live/work spaces. The word got out that property was cheap down there, and some wealthy artists bought up big buildings and rented out studio space or lofts to the starving artists. This trend grew and grew until more and more galleries (including some super high-end ones) started opening all in this one little part of the city.

My husband and I actually rented and renovated our own little slice of the Crossroads pie several years back when the scene was just taking shape. In exchange for our promise to leave the space better than how we found it, we got cheap rent on a killer space which we used as a live/work/ gallery space for almost a year. It was a strange time and we made lots of art and music, saw a gang of free concerts at Grinders, ate way too many slices of pizza (we had no kitchen for awhile), and made friends with a whole bizarre subset of people. Our old space is still a gallery to this day. But that's a story for another time.

Now on the First Friday of every month, the Crossroads Art District comes alive as the galleries all do their big openings and the people come out to see what's up. There are street performers, live painting demonstrations, mimes, bands and musicians everywhere, and it generally rocks. If you're from New york or somewhere cool, I'm sure you see this kind of awesomeness daily. But it's pretty great for the Midwest.

This is now Everleigh's favorite thing to do :) This First Friday I wore a vintage dress that I LOVE (yay for normal clothes again!), and headed out into the night with my two little loves. Ev rode in the carrier and soaked in all the art action she could take before passing out. We saw incredible paintings by Hung Liu, caught the tail end of a "peace parade", watched a drum circle do their thang, and caught some really cool art and sculpture pieces by locals. Later, Everleigh woke up to see some street performers dancing with fire, which was pretty awesome. From her facial expression, I think it's safe to say her mind was completely blown. Then we took our little baby bird home and she slept like a mil. Win-win.
**Photo by KCPhotoBlog http://kcphotoblog.com