Archive for the ‘Tadpole’ Category


December 16, 2011

This wouldn’t be Project Progeny without a little good-natured complaining about my in-laws. After all, isn’t that what anonymous blogs are for?

I couch this complaint with gratitude, because they have truly been a godsend. They have made the 18-hour journey here twice now, at the advanced age of 70+, to enjoy the company of my children. They help around the house – my MIL takes care of the laundry, my FIL does the dishes, and between the two of them they entertain the kids from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. They shower them with gifts – but not too many – and always check with us beforehand about what they want to give them. They compliment me constantly about what a great person I am – for example, I asked my MIL yesterday (somewhat tongue in cheek) if she’s figured out yet why God gave her Gimli as a son, and she said, “well, because he brought us you!” That was just really sweet.

So it’s not actually that hard to tamp down my annoyance when she not-so-subtly does her passive-aggressive thing, like recently she’s been dropping hints about weaning Oz. I have no plans to wean Oz. I’d love to continue nursing him as long as he wants. I love that my milk is something only I can give him, and I get the feeling that he’s just as pleased that my milk is only for him – one of the few things he doesn’t have to share with anybody else! I don’t want to have any more babies, so this is the end of the line for me. I have enjoyed breastfeeding by and large and I’m not in a hurry to give it up. But he’s 17 months old now, and starting to talk, and I’ve observed that two things make most Americans (including my husband) very uncomfortable: continuing to breastfeed a child who can talk, and continuing to breastfeed a child who may be able to remember breastfeeding when he’s older. My opinion is that culturally Americans view breasts in a highly, highly sexualized way, but it doesn’t have to be that way – there are plenty of cultural contexts where breasts are no more sexual than bottles. Or udders. They are a milk delivery system, period. Children won’t see or experience breasts as sexual objects unless or until they are taught to do so!

So I guess I’m not surprised that she keeps bringing up the nursing question – “Are you thinking about weaning? Maybe he’d sleep better at night if he wasn’t nursing. It would free you up a lot! I’m sure he’d get used to cow’s milk quickly if that was the only thing he was getting.” On constant loop/repeat.

I wish she’d let it go. It’s not really any of her business. But she’s invested in the kids, in their upbringing, in our well-being as a family. She hasn’t quite intimated that she thinks I’m harming him by continuing to breastfeed… but I have a feeling that will come eventually.

Maybe he’ll lose interest on his own. Maybe I’ll get tired of it before he does and change my tune. But really, it’s between me and Oscar and I’d like to keep it that way.


Damage (Control) *edited for clarification

December 14, 2011

Before we started TTC, we hesitated for a long time. For years, actually. Gimli was afraid that once we had children we would never have fun anymore, never have adventures, never explore distant and exotic locations across the globe (which is in part why we’re in the Balkans right now – and he’s in Armenia – it’s in part to prove a point, I think, to himself if not to anybody else). I was afraid that somehow I would incontrovertibly damage my children – for a time I was convinced that if I had kids, they would inevitably commit suicide before they were 21. Because life on earth is that painful.

During that (admittedly dark) time, I wrote this poem:


Here is my dark baby son (who might be)

playing with marbles in the dust

of a thousand unlived days.

Dust bunnies scud across the floor

tumbled by the wind from an opening door,

to hide in panic under the bed.

I scry only thick boiling clouds

in the marble rolling endlessly through my mind.

Marbles in my mouth click against my teeth.

In the sky, a marble moon, black and round,

with a fingernail crescent of light

tipped like a shallow bowl

pours – what? – on the cold world

Here are the cracks in the earth,

where silent water has disappeared

into subterranean bunkers,

where the long shafts of engineers

have probed and penetrated,

sucking like the insatiable mosquitos

of parasitic cities.

Clouds scud across an iron sky and hide

my baby boy, kneeling in the dust to play,

rolling his marbles all around

over the swells and hollows of the ground,

marbles rolling out of reach and into cracks,

gone, one by one.  So much to lose.

So much to bruise.

Even in moonlight your eyes are clear,

a cloudless sky where I intently stare,

waiting for an honest portent.

But your focal point is forever shifting,

a reed in uneven winds.

Here is the endless ledger of our indecision.

These are the tumbleweeds under the bed.

These are marbles spilled like water over the earth.

This is the empty moon sinking slowly into the west.

Here is the balance.

It sort of blows my mind, reading that now, and thinking of the face of my beautiful little boy – my son – my joyful, dimpled, happy boy – and how different motherhood feels right now from how I felt about it then.

And yet…

I read this article this morning or last night, I can’t remember now, linked by Doctor Grumbles on FB, and I want to curl up and cry. What have I done to my beautiful boy? Here’s a quote: “… letting babies get distressed is a practice that can damage children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that leaving babies to cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation.”

When Illyria was 9 months old, we were doing the whole AP nine yards – co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, baby-wearing, and she started waking up every 45 minutes at night to nurse. I was losing my mind. I was also leaving her with a babysitter for about 5 hours a day so I could do PhD work – at the time I was preparing for my comprehensive exams. (I don’t know; perhaps these two roles truly are incommensurable – mother and student. Mother and anything else, really. Or maybe it’s because of electricity. Maybe if we truly lived as hunter-gatherers, we would be living in a manner commensurable with our biological hard-wiring. Maybe I and my children would be getting enough sleep.) Anyway, we turned in desperation to CIO. It… sort of worked. It worked temporarily. Travel undid it all, and we went back to co-sleeping until she was almost 2, when we discovered sort of by accident that she would fall asleep on her own and stay asleep all night if and only if she was left to do so alone in her room. She still falls asleep much more easily if she’s by herself.

Any time I’ve tried co-sleeping with Oscar, it’s been disastrous for me. I really only sleep well if Gimli handles all the night parenting. Right now, as he’s out of the country, I’ve been bouncing back and forth between the two children all night and have been getting around 5 hours (not continuous, either) of sleep every night. With the grandparents here, I’ve been able to nap in the mornings while O naps which helps a lot. But still. We are so very, very far from being well-rested.

We’ve let O cry it out probably 5 or 6 times over the course of his life [*What I meant by this was not 5 or 6 isolated occasions, but 5 or 6 times when we’ve implemented a CIO structure for at least a week, until we ended up backsliding after things got better, or he started teething, or we went on a trip, or he got really sick] although I dragged my feet as long as possible in the face of Gimli’s insistence; by the third night he’s usually sleeping better, waking only once or twice. We go and check in on him after 10 minutes or so, 40 minutes at the longest. He is night weaned. But what damage am I doing to my beautiful boy? What have I done?

I just don’t know what to do. I don’t think there is a solution, really. I think that the only thing that would make a difference for us would be to move off the grid and live by the natural cycles of light and darkness, abandon our iPods and laptops, breathe fresh air and listen to the sound of the wind in the trees. But that’s not really an option at this juncture…

I don’t know. What do you think? I really want to know what you all think about this. I’ve read Sears, Weissbluth, Hogg, and Babywise. I’ve skimmed the No Cry Sleep Solution. I’m not really interesting in reading anything more, but I want to know what you personally think – if you have children, what have you done or tried? What do you believe is true about attachment? How did you arrive at that point of view? What has worked for you in practice?

sleep update

November 9, 2011

Since we played musical beds, and started using a musical alarm, things are much improved. For several nights Gimli has not had to go in to Oscar at all, not even once, and a few times O has slept until 6 a.m.!

On the other hand, my rude neighbor accosted me in the grocery store AGAIN to complain about Oz’s crying, and again I didn’t understand everything she said, but I think she was saying something about my babysitter… whom I absolutely adore… I have concluded, though, that the child she’s been hearing crying can’t be Oscar, because he simply has not been crying at night. Sometimes he’ll cry when I leave for work, or the inevitable fights with his sister, but good lord that is NORMAL. He cries a normal amount for a young toddler. I think my neighbor is mean, rude, and also confused. There are times I’ve been home and thought I heard Oz crying and when I checked it turned out to be a child somewhere down the street, so it’s not a far reach to suppose my neighbor might be making the same mistake.

I just wish she wouldn’t accost me in the grocery store in front of a bunch of people where I get all tongue-tied and and ashamed.

Sleep Training

November 27, 2010

I thought I’d write this up here, instead of on my public/family blog since I’m feeling kind of vulnerable about the whole thing.  As I told T. this morning, I feel like a bad mom no matter what I do.

So we were off to a good start with G’s sleep training until he got sick, and then had his 4-month vaccines, and then started working on cutting his first tooth.  The past week or two we ended up in a sort of hybrid pattern, where I’d do the Baby Whisperer method to put him to bed for the night, and then after that just nurse him back to sleep every time he woke up (almost invariably every 2 hours, sometimes more), on the assumption that he was legitimately hungry.  He acts hungry and eager to nurse at night, but I will admit that generally he doesn’t really empty the breast, and by 3 or 4 a.m. he’s all gassy and grumbly and restless through until we wake up for the day around 7.  So I started bringing him into bed with me at that point because it’s so exhausting to keep getting up and tending to him, and it wakes T. up every time, unnecessarily.  A couple times the co-sleeping resulted in better sleep for me during this period.

For naps, after a couple times of trying unsuccessfully to Baby Whisper him down I ended up with a “whatever works” approach and just rocked or nursed him down.

So, no matter what sleep camp you’re in, I’m obviously doing it all wrong.

And it’s not working.  The trend has been that 1) ever since I started bringing him into bed with me, he’s been crying much longer at bedtime – back to 20-30 minutes instead of 5; and 2) naps have been getting harder and harder to manage, it takes him longer and longer to fall asleep and I have to rock him longer and longer once he’s asleep before I can lay him down in his crib (again up to 20 minutes or so).  If he were an only child that would be one thing, but V. has to wait for me until he’s asleep, and ends up watching way more E.lmo than I want her to while I’m in trying to get G. to fall asleep.  But even so, he’s getting so heavy that my back is killing me from rocking him in my arms all the time (no rocking chair here).  I just can’t keep doing this.  I need to be able to lay him down and walk away.

The trouble is getting there.  T and I had a council of war this morning and decided that our plan of attack is to do full-on BW for all naps and night waking.  He feels that G is ready for night weaning although I’m still kind of scared to go cold turkey.  I’d like to maintaing a feeding around 1 a.m. if I can.  It’s kind of frustrating cause all my gear is stuck in a shipment that won’t get here until Dec. 8 at the earliest – the breast pump, bottles, and bags for freezing milk – and until that gets here it’s all straight from the source.

The other complication is that T left this afternoon for a week-long work trip and so I’m solo with the kids for the next 8 days.  I’ve kind of decided though that I cannot wait until he gets back to start the training because I’m starting to lose all my patience and joy in life.  Friday, for example, I was so tired and dispirited that we just stayed home all day and I barely even played with the kids, it felt like keeping them clothed, fed, and in clean diapers was about all I could manage.  I felt like we did nothing creative or interesting all day.  I need more sleep, and I need G. to go to sleep on his own for naps.

Every time I rock him to sleep I feel like I’m being a bad mom.  Every time I nurse him down I feel like a bad mom.  Every time I hear him crying in his crib I feel like a bad mom.  But this afternoon I stuck with the BW method for his nap, and after 25 very long minutes (while V cried in the next room, unable to fall asleep herself for his crying) he fell asleep in the crib on his own.

See, 25 minutes really isn’t that long.  It just feels like it in the moment.

It feels good to have a plan and a method that I trust and believe in.  And I DO think that he will catch on more quickly than V did (personality plus starting earlier).  I just fear that for some reason it won’t work, and that I will have subjected both my children to unnecessary heartache.

Am I doing the best I can?  I’d like to believe so.  But I wish my best was better than what I’ve got at the moment.

A Tale of Two Cesareans

July 29, 2010

It’s been 3 weeks now and I haven’t even begun to write about G’s birth.  That’s at the top of my list of things to write about… just the story, and then I think I’ll write more about how I feel now in retrospect about having two cesareans under my belt (so to speak).  I still kind of struggle with how to think about it – the existential side of things – because while I signed the requisite release form I didn’t necessarily feel like I had a choice, and somehow that actually feels better to me than if I felt like I had chosen to give birth that way.  I guess I’m seeking absolution.


One of the biggest differences between the two births was having a point of reference with which to compare this one.  But perhaps I’ll try to hold off on comparisons and just tell the story.

To me the most comical element of the whole event was that T. decided he wanted it to be a Family event.  Not just our unit of 3-becoming-4, but the whole fam damily – grandparents and all.  So at just past 8 a.m. on July 7, we convoyed in three vehicles to the brand-spanking-new hospital across town.  Even our faithful babysitter/nanny came along.  They all accompanied me to the emergency room where I registered, and then we all took the elevators together up to the third floor “Family Birthplace.”  We took last-minute belly shots in the waiting area and said a prayer together before T. and I went in.

We had lingered so long in the waiting area that the nurse was wondering where we were.  She had a British accent.  She ushered us into a small room, I think the same room where I had had an NST just two days before, and had me change into the hospital gown and lie on the bed.  Then she went through my medical history, inserted the IV (it took 3 tries, and I had a nasty bruise on my left arm for two weeks afterward), and shaved my lady bits.  She asked if I wanted her to put the catheter in too, but I said I’d wait until after I got the anesthetic.

The anesthesiologist came in with a male nurse to introduce themselves, and they chatted with me for a bit.  They gave T. a set of scrubs (he looked extremely attractive in them!) and then wheeled me down the hall to the OR.

At that point T. had to wait outside in the hallway; apparently he spent the time pacing and texting, and it was a much longer wait than anticipated.  Inside the OR, I had time to look around and chat with the male nurse while we waited for something or other that the anesthesiologist needed, which wasn’t in the cupboard.  The nurse asked me about myself and what I do, and when I said I’m working towards a PhD in Anthropology, he started talking about evolution and God and natural selection and pressed me about what I think, which topic was waaaaay down on my list of things I felt like talking about at that precise moment.  I know he was just trying to distract me and make conversation but I found it quite annoying, really.  He redeemed himself, however, when the meds and everything arrived and it was time for the spinal.  I shudder just remembering it – absolutely hate that part of the process.  I asked the nurse if I could hold his hand and he said yes, so I had a hand to squeeze since T. was still out in the hall.

Then they laid me down, put up the blue curtain, and continued making small talk while my OB and the rest of the crew got situated.  I was catheterized, and felt it – ugh – but soon enough the numbness took hold and then they let T. come in.

The cesarean seemed to take a long time.  At one point I heard the doctor say “I see a lot of dark hair,” and then they seemed to be having a bit of difficulty getting him out.  The female nurse working opposite the doctor started pushing vigorously against my rib cage – this was extremely uncomfortable, and I stopped chatting with T. while she did – the whole bed (table?) was shaking, the curtain shook, and I learned later that they had used forceps to pull baby G.’s head out – I’d never heard of such a thing, with a cesarean – he had a purple bruise on his ear for 3 or 4 days afterward – and at one point I felt a shot of pain dart from my rib cage to my left shoulder.  (I went to see my chiropractor as soon as possible after the operation.)

Then he was out!  I heard someone say that it took eight minutes from when they first saw his head to when he came out, and that this was not an unusually long time.  The doctor lifted him above the curtain and I saw him for the first time, red and and purple and white from the vernix, wriggling and alive.  I thought to myself, “he looks like a G–, not an O–” (we were STILL debating his name).  They moved him away to clean him off and weigh him, and I heard him crying and crying, a mewling little wail, and unbidden the tears started to streak down my face and into my ears even as a grin spread across my face.

Then they brought him over so I could touch him and look at him, and then off to the nursery to be cleaned up.  And I will say more about that later because in hindsight I would have had them delay that – but done is done.  Anyway, T. went off to supervise (:-)) and I just lay there while they sewed me up.  It seemed to take a long time.  I listened to them chatting about the World Cup and 4th of July celebrations and iPhones until they were done.  Then they moved me onto my hospital bed and wheeled me to our room.  As we went down the hall, I saw my whole family standing by the windows of the nursery watching G. and I waved to them.

The room was nice enough except for the fine view of a brick wall – “they need to paint a mural on that wall,” I said.  T. came in then and we waited together for G.  The family all went home for naps with plans to come back later with V. to meet her brother in person.  We ended up waiting THREE HOURS to see him – that damn bath; he needed warming afterwards – until finally he was placed in my arms, snug and swaddled and sleeping.

He is an utter sweetheart.  He’s a champion nurser with a great latch and strong suck and is putting on weight at a tremendous rate (proof of paternity, my husband says – as if he needed it!).  He’s mellow and adorable with a dimple in his right cheek and an elfin smile.  His hair is the softest down.

My deflated belly is shrinking even as my bosom abounds.  My energy level and ability to do things are increasing, which feels really good, even though sleep is scarce and my toddler’s angst is breaking my heart.  But every few days I’m able to do more and more with her, even though I can’t lift her yet.  My parents have left now after 2 months with us here – I miss them sooooo much – and my husband is working very hard under a deadline, unfortunately.  Our sitter/nanny has been staying with us since my parents left to help with the night-time parenting.  We have just over 2 months to get ready to move to Albania.  My plate, like my heart, is full.

He’s here!!!!!

July 12, 2010

We’re home with baby G!  I will write the whole story out once my husband stops kicking me off the computer and making me rest (right now I’m sneaking a moment while he’s off watching the World Cup final) – I have LOTS to say about our hospital stay, the transition home, family dynamics… but there is plenty of time for all of that.  Yesterday was a really hard day but today has been much better and I’m feeling more like myself (for the moment)!

My second cesarean birth is now behind me; baby boy G. safe in our arms.  He came out looking annoyed but has the sweetest look of wide-eyed wonder when he’s not making the grumpy little old man face.  6 lbs. 12 oz, 19 inches long.  Official time of birth was 11:07 a.m. on Wednesday July 7, 2010.  Breastfeeding is off to a GREAT start – he’s got a super latch, and my milk came in by Friday night – although he tends to nurse often and briefly. 

My blood pressure is still high so T. is worried and I’m trying not to freak out about it.

V. is handling everything much better than I thought she would; mostly she ignores him, but for the most part she seems her normal self.  The hardest thing is not being able to hold her, pick her up, and engage with her the way I’d like to. 

Ok, back to resting now – just had to get this out 🙂  Thank you so much to all who have commented here – I hope to get back into the swing of things in a few days.  Love to all!


June 17, 2010

Today it struck me that our baby will be here in just over three weeks…



It feels like there’s a lot to do before then…  Just as I’m starting to feel that I’ve settled into a comfortable routine here with my parents, it’s time to prepare for more change.  T. will be back a week from tomorrow and that will shift things again, of course – hopefully we won’t feel too crowded with four adults and a toddler in a 900-square-foot house (1 bathroom!).  My mom’s been helping me sort through clothes and things – she has scoured the basement, cleaned and repaired a number of random household objects, and has become a favored playmate of V’s (although I still have my regular sitter watching her during the day).  Mom’s been doing all the laundry and cooking and dusting too.  She’s amazing.

Today I dropped off another 24-hour urine, last time in the “old” hospital.  They’ve built a new one that opens next Tuesday, which is where the Tadpole will be born, one way or another.  I have a c-section “tentatively” (my OB’s word) scheduled for July 7, but he’s willing to see how things progress towards a potential trial of labor.  I so appreciate his openness and flexibility – even if I do end up with another cesarean, it helps me feel more at peace about it knowing I’m not locked into it incontrovertibly.   Last week my parents did a little volunteer work at the new hospital and got a tour of the maternity wing – which I haven’t even seen yet!

I have been very, very thankful that V. is sleeping much better ever since I decided to try letting her sleep by herself (we were still co-sleeping up until the end of May).  It’s working, for the most part.  This morning she woke up at 5 (after falling asleep at 9:30 last night), but fell asleep again at around 6 for another 2 hours and woke up in a really good mood.  So it was ok.

Three weeks.  I can’t believe it.


May 11, 2010

PIH = pregnancy-induced hypertension, the condition that led to V’s birth by scheduled cesarean at 37 weeks gestation.

Well, it’s back.

The last two weeks of monitoring showed consistent readings right around (though usually just under) the 140/90 line, and my reading on Monday was 130/100.  Actually, the first reading was 140/116 which kind of scared the nurse.  That was still lower than the reading I got on my little battery-operated monitor which was 160/116.

The GOOD news is that I have NONE of the other symptoms of pre-eclampsia, not really even any edema (swelling).  But I’m doing a 24-hour urine catch anyway – FUN TIMES.  At least I can do it at home this time and not in the hospital like I did last pregnancy.

I am so very glad that my mom is coming to stay with me in 2 weeks, when T. leaves on his next trip (he’ll be gone a whole month this time).  My parents will be here for 2 full months until after the baby comes.  In a weird way I’m thinking it would be nice if the baby came early again this time, even if by cesarean, because then I’d have my mom’s help for longer after the birth.

On the other hand, I’m super-bummed that I went through the trouble to transfer my care to a doctor who does VBACs, when I may not have that opportunity after all if my BP continues to climb or  if I develop other symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

On the other other hand, I think that in general this doctor is less alarmist than the practice I was at before, which I appreciate.  He’s not putting me under any restrictions – just ordered another ultrasound for next week in addition to the urine test.  Said to drink lots of fluids and rest as much as possible.

Thanks to Anona-mom for the suggestions on ways to reduce blood pressure during pregnancy – any other ideas welcome!!!


February 12, 2010

I hope the last post was long enough that nobody actually reads the whole.  I just had stuff I wanted to get off my chest, just stuff that’s been frustrating.  So, to balance it out, I’m going to post now about things I’m thankful for, and things I’m looking forward to.  Second one first:

Things I’m looking forward to:

1) The new season of Survivor (so lame!  But yes.  I love the drama)

2) my next pint of Ben & Jerry’s

3) seeing our friends at the bagel place on Sunday

4) the next Kim Harrison book

5) getting to meet our little boy in July (hopefully)

Things I’m thankful for:

1) the opportunity to try for a PhD

2) a comfortable (if messy) home

3) T’s spontaneous offer to take us all out to dinner last night – it was lovely, exactly the break I needed, and V. seemed to enjoy herself.  I’m thankful for a husband who is spontaneous and fun.

4) that when I curl up with my daughter snuggled against my chest, sometimes I feel the baby wiggle and I think “I’m holding both my children.”  (Sorry to be so treacly – but I do feel that way at least once a day.)

There is probably more but I think I’m good for now.


January 20, 2010

So here I am, squarely in the second trimester. I looked up when I first felt movement with V., and it was at 14w2d. However, we saw on the last ultrasound that the placenta is in the front this time, so I wonder if that means I won’t feel movement as much?

I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea of a little BOY… looking at some of V’s very pink baby things and feeling a sweet sadness at the thought of putting or giving them away for good.

Digging out some of my old maternity pants. Unfortunately I loaned away all my sweaters, favorite pants, and all the tops I had but one (a heather gray T-shirt – can you say frumpy???). I’m not even sure where the tops ended up, because I think after I loaned them to my sister she passed them on to someone else. I think the reason there are so few maternity clothes in thrift stores is that women tend to circulate them around their friends. I may have to bite the bullet and spring for some new stuff. But not for another couple months, I think.

I’m also going around and around in my mind about the VBAC thing. My therapist is of the very medical and safety school of thought that would never even have second thoughts about scheduling the c-section. She also thinks LLL is a “cult” (she apparently had a very bad experience trying to BF). On the other hand, my sister, as I’ve mentioned before, is a homebirth enthusiast and profoundly mistrusts the medical profession. I feel like the cartoon character with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other shoulder, except that in this case I can’t tell which is which, and frankly, I don’t think either one is either. I guess I just want to talk to someone with more expertise than I have who isn’t totally biased one way or the other, who will actually listen to me, not judge me, and help me figure out what’s best for US.

In some ways I feel like with a repeat c-section, I know what to expect and I know how to prepare for it. A VBAC opens up the door to all kinds of unknowns. It offers the opportunity to “prove” something to myself and to T., but also the risk of failure and of serious injury. (Although my sister would argue that major surgery would entail both of those as well.) I know T. is in support of the repeat c-section, but I’m toying with the idea of looking into the homebirth option; apparently some people around here do go that route although I’m fuzzy on the details (e.g. if they have an MD backup or not). So far I’ve been leery of hooking into the local “alternative” birthing network just because I don’t want to be judged by closed-minded people. Ironically.
The doctor I talked with at the OB/GYN I’m going to now was very sweet and kind and basically assured me that if I could guarantee she’d be the one to deliver my baby if we go the scheduled route. Which in a normal labor and delivery scenario isn’t the case, you get whoever’s on call. So round and round I go in my mind. I suppose I’ll get there eventually.