Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Downward Facing Dog (now with more grunting)

I am 25 weeks along and the size of my ute is definitely beginning to be an impediment. I had a burst of energy on Sunday morning, and since Pequita was willing to amuse herself in her neglectosaucer, her jumper and her bouncy seat for almost 4 hours (with short nursing breaks), Homestead Mama and I got a very thorough cleaning of the first floor of the Homestead done. I scrubbed the floors on my hands and knees, which felt OK at the time. I haven't done this for over a year, and you could tell. The floor now sparkles and the house smells great. However, I am now moving around the house, and particularly on and off the bed/couch, like I am 90 years old. I may have overtaxed myself unknowingly - I am not used to having to take it quite as easily as this. Seriously, I am so uncomfortable that I can't just stand up and walk, I have to grunt to a standing position and then wait until I get settled back in my skeleton.

In order to remedy this little problem of feeling like I've just had a double hip replacement, I decided that prenatal yoga was just the thing. I spent an hour this morning in a huge, drafty, fluorescent-lit room with 5 other pregnant women and a teeny tiny birdlike yoga instructor. It was great. I haven't taken yoga in a few years, and my body was more than willing to get back into the poses. It is all a little different than the last time because I fused my ankle into a 90 degree angle a couple years ago to eliminate arthritis. I need a few extra wedges & supports to keep in posture, but it felt wonderful. Now I'm all jazzed up and ready to go twice a week until I can't get up off the floor anymore. I'll just have to see if I can get out of bed tomorrow.


Gentle water aerobics class starts tomorrow morning at 7am. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Ravioli Incident

We have to eat, and sometimes the baby is in the way. We usually prepare easy food, food that clumps and is non-staining, when we are eating around the babe. Sunday night, Homestead Mama was enjoying a particularly tasty batch of ravioli in red sauce and we were watching a movie while Pequita slept on her lap. Then the ravioli slipped. It hit Pequita with such a splat that I could hear it across the room, and it woke her up. You can see the forehead bounce point, and the offending pasta on the floor. Moody the dog quickly took care of the mess - how do people without dogs keep their floors clean? We now have a rule about eating over the kid. Basically, don't.
I was relating the story to our daycare lady the next day - ha ha, so funny. She was chuckling as she told me that explained the sticky spot she had f0und in Pequita's hair. Ick. Sauce we had not seen in our desire not to turn on all the lights and wake her with the bath she so deserved. Parenting award, here we come.


Peaches is Homestead Mama's Goffin cockatoo. She is almost 25 years old, and has her sweet moments. Much of the time, these are overshadowed by her squawky moments, but she is with us for the long haul. (Since parrots can live up to 80+ years, I'm not kidding about the long part.) Peaches and Pequita have a mutual fascination going on. They can gaze at each other for quite a while - Pequita will watch the bird in her cage flapping around and playing, and loves it when she comes out for a snack and flies around. Peaches will sit with her head pressed between the bars of her cage, one beady eye trained on Maya as she plays and giggles and talks.

Above is Peaches eating walnuts from the jar, and Pequita clearly admiring her manual dexterity. Thank goodness for the studies that cite that healthier and less asthmatic children are the ones raised in a healthy germ/allergen environment. We are counting on that being true.

Used Baby Goods Score

Homestead Mama got a picture over the weekend of the Maya wrap sling I found last week. It was such a great price, and in a fabric I might have chosen myself. So much better for carrying around a 16+ pound baby for me than the Bjorn - she now sits happily off to the side of the pregnancy bump, which beats the heck out of most other carriers at this point. I

We went back the next day as a family to vote on a huge bag of jumbo Legos that Pequita isn't really ready for yet. Of course, with Homestead Mama along, the vote was yes. She got them all stacked in a huge cube on the coffee table so I can see how big to make the stuff sack they will live in that I decided was required for them to stay in our house. It is hard to tell just how big these are, but we'll be able to make a good sized house out of them. I'll have to be careful with Legos; I get a little, um, possessive about them when I am playing with them - I mean, supervising little kids playing with them.

I always expected to have all wooden, non-toxic toys for my kids. Seems a no-brainer. And then, like most purist parents ahead of me, I saw how my kid responded to hideous plastic toys and I caved. We caved with this set of soft plastic blocks, which are perfect for teething on - grabbable for a 4 month old, and the perfect texture to sooth sore gums. Pequita may not have anything breaking *through* her gums, but she's clearly working on some teeth. The salivating is reaching epic proportions. I am going to have to custom make some bibs for her with a cotton terry top layer, an absorbent wool lining, and a polypropylene backing. I may make and market them - we can't be the only people who cycle through new dry bibs every hour. Anyway, we got home and I started thinking about PCBs, phthalates, and the myriad toxic things that these bright blocks must be spewing into our house. I had just talked myself into returning them when I walked into the living room to witness the scene below. Homestead Mama had decided to try them out on Pequita, who was a very satisfied customer. I hope we can make up for the toxic exposure elsewhere in our lives. I've started by ordering a bunch of lead test swabs to check our old house & antique furniture for toxicity. For now, the blocks stay.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Six degrees

Today, in the course of doing my job, I had to email the father of my best friend from high school to get some materials from him. He is a professor at MIT, and one of his students has applied for a job at the university at which I work. In his email response he extended his greetings. (And as a reference, my 20 year high school reunion is coming up this summer.)

I have such an odd set of memories about that time. My friend and I were drawn together because we had a similar outlook on life at that point - fairly miserable, depressed and lacking family support. Her dad was just awful to her, to me, to everyone in so many ways. Now that I am an adult, and largely a happy one, my perspective is a little different. I remember how his grad students used to hang around their house & were very engaged with him, delighted to be working with him. At the same time, his daughters were all running away from him physically and mentally. He clearly had a lot to offer, but didn't offer it to his own kids. Right after we graduated, my friend was driving the car during the accident in which I broke both my legs, my nose, and suffered many other smaller injuries. While we held on to the friendship for a year or so after that, we grew apart as I started to work hard to make my life into what I wanted it to be - happy, productive, full of positive relationships. I don't think she fared as well, and is still back in the same town working for a family business which must suck her soul out a little more each day.

I am grateful I had the stregth to extract from that whole state of being. I had the strong support of my sister, and as time went on, from my parents also. I feel lucky as hell, but also proud, as it was awfully hard work. I have chronic ankle injuries that will plague me my whole life to remind me of the bad choices I made in the past, but also to keep me focused on where I am now. And I have some gratitude to that high school friend who helped me get through some very rough patches. I'd love to ask her if her dad ever shaped up and started being kinder to her, but I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Maybe she'll email me, now that I've had contact with her father. Maybe I'll ask her. She certainly deserves a little kindness from him.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Goodness gracious, I have arrived at 6 months pregnant. Still going strong. I have finally started the spread, having put on 3.5 pounds. While I am still on a grapefruit kick (I'm seriously considering adding Ruby Red to the names list) the broccoli craving has morphed into a love of garlic gnocchi, and the siren song of Breyer's chocolate ice cream gets me out of bed nightly.

The relaxin I'm producing is making my hips feel like they are separating, making it hard to get in and out of bed or up off the couch. My face is blotchy with pimples and red spots (??) that don't go away. I am still peeing too much and I am starting to have trouble carrying Pequita comfortably. Regardless, I am loving this, all of it. There is a lot more movement these days, and I have a quiet smile on my face much of the time as I feel Monito/a swishing around inside me. My OB today said that she never felt lonely when she was pregnant. That hits the nail on the head - it is like having an invisible friend, always with you and no one else has a relationship with them but you. Rather special. I feel quite glorious.

I popped into the used baby store on my way back to work after the OB appointment today and scored a couple of very snazzy things for Pequita to wear and a cheap ring sling. I've been meaning to make one for the last few weeks so I can be comfortable with her on me, but have had no time. Hopefully the hip carry will satisfy her, since I can't move around comfortably anymore with her perched right atop the bump that is her sibling - ouch! Perhaps my lovely sister will loan me her Ergo carrier for the duration of the upcoming parental visit so I can try it out and cut a pattern to make one if it works for us. (Hint hint, Sis.)


The pall of sickness is starting to lift at the Homestead. This might have been our first daycare illness, but Homestead Mama and I were down for the better part of a week with a bad cold. The baby got off the lightest with just nasal congestion, thankfully, but her spirits were great.

This was helpful, as I'm not sure how we would have handled both adults being sick AND Pequita being miserable. As it was, she was going through one of her most delightful stages yet - lots of bouncing & giggling & much flashing of the big toothless gummy grin.

She has figured out how to really laugh, and will do it when we tickle her belly - it is very different from her screechy giggle. We also were noticing that she hasn't done some basic things we expected her to have mastered already - she hasn't really cared about her feet, for example. Well, here in upstate NY under a foot of snow there hasn't been much call to leave her feet (or any body part on her) bare. As an experiment, we left her shoes & socks off after her bath and within minutes she had her toes in her mouth. Apparently her shoes - the cutest ever - can't hold a candle to actual live wiggling toes. Oh, the glory.

We received a lovely gift of nice hand-me-down toys from a friend, and now Pequita enjoys her very own neglecto-saucer. She cannot figure out what to play with first. She is a little short for it yet, and most of the toys don't reach her mouth, the overarching fate for all things she encounters. This caused some anxiety.

We ended up having to actually ADD more stimulation to the neglecto-saucer by strapping on more toys that she can chew on while staring at the myriad bouncy/ shaking/ squeeking/ spinning things already on there. Oh, happy day. Hottie Friend was amazed at the difference in Pequita from a mere week ago - she is growing and changing awfully fast.

The other toy, a cube w/ wooden shapes that slide over wires, is very fun to watch her moms play with, but requires a lot of oversight since she seems dead set on whacking her forehead into the corners if we'd let her.

Thanks to Julie for posting the link to Hallmark's new line of cards - I needed a good indignant snort this morning. "

Golden pig year

Monita/o will be very lucky to be born not just in the auspicious Year of the Pig, but in a 'golden pig year', which only comes around once every 60 years or so. Perfect timing, I say. Who can't use prosperity and good fortune?

Pequita was born in the Year of the Dog, which is fine with us. Dogs have it pretty cushy chez nous. This morning our three had bacon gravy on their kibble, and yesterday it was leftover breastmilk - a little old, so questionable for baby but we don't waste a drop of it - liquid gold, we call it. The dogs agree.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sickness and dogs and stress, oh my!

We are sick as a family, finally, after a long, lovely 5+ month reprieve. Pequita has been sleeping poorly for 3 nights now, with much waking, thrashing and crying. She is easily settled, but the disturbances due to her discomfort have left us all a little bleary-eyed. She has all the signs of teething (profuse salivation, lots of chewing on fingers/toys/anything, digestive inconsistencies, inability to stay on the boob for a whole uninterrupted feeding. Really, its classic. Then she added bad sniffles over the weekend, and she's either REALLY teething or she's also got a cold. She sounds like a bulldog when she breathes. Me? I have a bad cold w/ aches, swollen glands and the crowning immuno-suppressed glory, a cold sore. I am at work, nonetheless. Whimper.

I assume that all of you are watching the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in NYC? It is one of the highlights of our year. We love the dogs. We are scoping out our Next Dog, which must be bred to kill vermin, to help earn its keep at the Homestead. "Next Dog" is a little game we play. We have 3 dogs already, and will not get another until we are down to one. There is much joy to be had in discussing the relative merits of future animals for us. I was greatly saddened when one of my least favorite dogs won the terrier class. With all the gorgeous beasts on parade, who in there right minds would select the Dandie Dinmont Terrier as a winner? I KNOW that it isn't a competition between dogs, rather a contest to have the best breed standards in any given breed. Still. The terrier judge has been knocked down many notches in my esteem. On the other hand, Homestead Mama and I have decided that the Staffordshire terrier is high on our list of Next Dogs. Look how lovely! And good with kids, gentle, smart, and great at agility. Perfect for us.

Speaking of dogs, Homestead Mama's father called last night, and from what I could gather, he seemed to be asking her when my due date was. I was touched that he was planning for this, and wondered if he wanted to come visit this arguably not-quite-his grandchild after it was born. I misunderstood. He and his wife are going on their annual trip to the midwest to visit his son-in-law for a month in May and he wants us to, once again, take care of his 3 little dogs for the duration (2 toy poodles and a chihuahua). While I am 8 months pregnant. Homestead Mama, to her credit, said that might not work out, since I may go into labor early and it will be hard to have the dogs then. He apparently had this all planned out - we keep the little dogs UNTIL I go into labor, and then Homestead Mama drops them off at the local kennel before we go to the hospital to deliver.


Homestead Mama ended the call a few minutes later & came into the living room and asked me what I thought. Having smartened up in the last 7 years of navigating the minefield that is father-daughter relations, I didn't say what I thought. Instead, I said that it might be a little hard on her having even more responsibility right around the time that I will be at my most uncomfortable, unhelpful and unable to even SEE little dogs under foot (let alone see my feet) so as not to step on them. I thought that month before I am due should be as simple and stress-free as possible, since we already have a lot on our plates and have plans to be stripping paint off furniture (her, not me) and cleaning, sorting and purging for the biggest yard sale ever to make room in our home for another wee child. She seemed to concur. I'm hoping this is the end of it.

BTW, dead vermin tally:
Rats: 1 down. Mice: 7 down.
The traps set with bacon are working great!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Monita/o at 17 weeks

One last photo blast for this weekend. I am now at about 23 weeks pregnant. Back in January, at the amnio, they took pictures for me during the ultrasound of the fetus. It is the last pic of the kid I'll see, I suspect, before it is in the flesh on the outside. I go to a married couple of hippie OBs, just the way I like it. They don't mess around with things that don't need fixing (quite the change, after hyper-interventionist IVF!) Homestead Mama went to them as well, and they didn't do an internal exam on her until almost 30 hours after her water broke. Boggles people's minds - apparently there is a lot of invasive & (arguably) unnecessary dilation checking that goes on these days.

So behold, a couple of bad photos of the u/s pics of Monita/o. (I should just get a scanner!) Looks like s/he'll have my wide feet.


I have been making things for my phantom kids for a few years now. It is a lot of fun to be able to finally use them on a non-phantom baby.

Pequita has just started loving the linen/cotton green reversible mei tei sling wrap I made this past summer from a great free online pattern. I'll make some alterations to better suit us on the next one, but I love the features on this. Since she doesn't want to be put down, we are lucky she's willing to be toted around strapped to us. The flap behind her head lifts up to support her when she falls asleep and becomes floppy. In this carrier, I can wear her comfortably off to the side, leaving room for my belly.

She has liked the red velour sling I whipped up as well, pictured below at 2 months. At her ripe old age of 4.5 months, now Pequita refuses to lie or sit in the "kangaroo" position, cross-legged. She stands.

This is a sweater I knit while on vacation in August of '06. It is a Debbie Bliss pattern, and is a nice thick cotton.

One other I have a picture of is the orange flecked sweater below. I'll add yarn type and pattern details soon for those of you who might be interested, but that will take too much coordination for this late on a Sunday.


A few weeks ago we had our first good snowfall, and it has been under 20 degrees ever since, so it is still pretty and white here. We finally got Pequita all dressed up in her snow gear and went out with the dogs to play. It was downright balmy, having risen to 25 degrees and sunny. We propped her up against the willow stump in the backyard for the pic below. She didn't like the brightness of sun on snow, but didn't seem to mind the cold and loves to watch the dogs frolic. Ok, next time we'll rig some mittens up for her hands, since we certainly couldn't keep them inside her outfit.

In addition to her first outing w/ snow, she also has her first really stuffy nose. We don't know if it is a cold or a symptom of teething, but she sounds like a bulldog when she is breathing and keeps needing a lot of nose wiping. Which she hates, and screams in protest about. And needed a lot of while outside in the cold. (I don't know if you can properly see all this in the pic below, but she's got actual bubbles of snot.) Needless to say, we only spent about 20 minutes out today. Summer babies have it good, I think.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Maternity clothes are dangerous

Today, I am wearing the one maternity sweater I have. It showcases the belly by sporting an empire waistline & little tie that cinches in the waist where every pregnant woman's waist is - RIGHT under my cleavage. My non-maternity clothes that I still wear just make me look like I have a beer belly, or like I'm growing one hell of a fibroid. So I am all a-belly today, and am still a little self-conscious about it, since some of the higher-up folks I work with are weird about it. They don't mentions it, or ask if I am pregnant or congratulate me. The staff, however, holler out from down the hall, "Boy, you sure look like you are knocked up!" I need the laughs, so welcome that attitude.

Back in June of 2006, I had a D&C to finalize the miscarriage that resulted from the previous IVF cycle. (It was pretty awful - the miscarriage, not so much the D&C. I can think of few things worse than bleeding on and off for weeks/months while my body naturally makes its way through the hormone soup that is the end of a pregnancy. Quick and tidy, that's what I wanted) I had the procedure done at my RE's (reproductive endocrinologist's) office, since I love it there and hate hospitals. There is an unwritten waiting-room etiquette that you learn pretty quickly after you become a patient at Dr. Can-do's office - ultrasound and bloodwork patients sit on the left side of the waiting room in the nice Pottery Barn couches in front of the gas fireplace. Surgery patients - those in for retrievals, transfers, HSGs, D&Cs - all sit on the right in straight backed Stickley chairs next to the coffee machine, surrounded by the good magazines, since you will be there for longer. If it is an optimistic appointment, like an embryo retrieval, your partner is in the procedure room with you. If it is a sad appointment, they wait out in the waiting room. So Homestead Mama had been fetched from the waiting room to join me after my procedure. (She's lucky that I am not like her when she's loopy on anesthesia, as she always tells me how OLD I look and how I look just like my mother. Uh huh, love that.) Homestead Mama is helping the nurse lead me in my drugged stupor out to the car. I look up and spot one of the higher-ups from my office, a sweet and quiet-spoken young man, sitting alone in a straight-backed chair. Uh huh, sad visit. I had enough forethought to veer off course and make them lead me out the other door & through the other side of the waiting room, He might have seen me, but we didn't have to pass within 2 feet of each other and acknowledge each other, and could therefore maintain some semblance of ignorance. It seemed kinder, for both of us.

Anyway, it is now 8 months later, no announcement from him about his wife's looming birth, and here I am at 22 weeks along striding (kind of) around in my sleek (kind of) maternity sweater and I see him approaching me in the hall. A look of painful consternation clouded his face as he watched my belly approach, and then he looked up to eye level and smiled a wan smile at me. He DID see me that day in June, and there is no way he thinks this is just the fatter version of me. I hate that. I hate the possibility of making another person who is struggling to get/stay pregnant feel lousy. Homestead Mama and I go out of our way to avoid those kinds of situations, because for a long while there WE were the unlucky ones. It is why I worry about sending out unsolicited photos of Pequita in a mass email. It is why I am wary of telling other folks I know who are still trying to have a live baby about this blog without a clear warning that it is mostly a big baby-fest these days. It hurts to be on the other side, and that hurt informs how I approach things, even now. I just hope he takes heart that he and his wife will end up on the baby side of the fence.

Now we're getting somewhere

A new initiative filed in Washington would require that heterosexual couples have kids within 3 years or their marriage is anulled.  This cracked me up.
 "For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation ... The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine," said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. "If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage."
I only hope this gets folks talking about this. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

21" waist to 21 week waist

I thought a belly picture would be a good idea right about now. Here's where I started:

(Like my starfish? It came with the suit.)

And here is where I was last week at 21 weeks along:

I know, I know. It isn't really a fair comparison, since I'm not in a bikini in both pics, but its the best I can do. In the 4 days since the belly pic was taken, I seemed to have popped out quite significantly. I'll take another at the 6-month mark. When Homestead Mama and I hug, it now feels like we're playing an ice-breaking party game and trying to pass a football to someone else without using our hands. It would be annoying if it weren't so WELCOME.

(In actuality, it took quite a while for the pregnancy belly to overtake the normal chubby belly and actually SHOW on film. Nothing much has changed on my body, but the waist I have always counted on as one of my good qualities is gone. And I don't miss it one bit.)

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Homestead living

Hottie Friend, a.k.a. Pequita's fairy godmother, offered to pass up birthday parties, bar gatherings, and other good offers to babysit for us last night. Homestead Mama and I haven't had a date night in several months, so we jumped at the chance. And with Hottie Friend so in love with Pequita, it almost feels like we are doing a public service by sharing her. So we giggled about it all week, and had a good time selecting the cuisine and movie that we were going to enjoy. We ended up having to drive Pequita to and from Hottie Friend's in a snowstorm, which I love because we haven't had much snow at all this year. We had a great time. The Mexican restaurant gave us someone else's takeout order with twice as much food as we had ordered (or paid for). Since it WAS during a snowstorm, we didn't take it back. We missed the kid, but it was great not having to keep an ear open at all times for her - we could really relax. It has been a long time since we have snuggled on the couch with each other - mostly baby snuggling these days. We are ever more grateful to Hottie Friend. There are not many folks we would leave Pequita with, and none enjoy it more than she does.

Today we had really good intentions to get many errands done. Instead, we entertained a friend & her son, which reinforced thoroughly that we HAVE NOT toddlerproofed our home. We caught up on our taped TV while Pequita napped, and we romped in the yard in the snow with the dogs, one of our favorite things to do.

I hope the next paragraph doesn't make all guests decline to visit us in the winter. Really, our house may be cluttered and harbor a little extra pet fur, but we don't live in squalor. We just take care of homestead business as necessary. Oh, the humanity!

We live in a farmhouse built in 1851. We are surrounded by acres of fields, meadows and woods, in which live deer, rabbits, groundhogs, moles, etc. We regularly hear packs of coyote yipping at night. The rodents that support this diverse wildlife community join us during the coldest parts of the winter. For the most part, they stay in the unfinished basement or on an unheated side porch. Well, two days ago Homestead Mama let out a screech as she opened the antique pantry cupboard in which we store our drygoods. A mouse had breached the confines of the interior of the house. Time for me to set my trap lines, as where there is one mouse, there are more. We knew that the side porch had been hosting some larger visitors since it got cold a few weeks ago. By larger visitors, I mean rats - but wait! don't freak out yet. While unwelcome, they are glossy-coated healthy animals who happen to have a winter home on our porch, where we feed the cats and keep the litter pans. So really, our rats are well fed on Science Diet cat food. We haven't ever seen them (or any evidence of them) in the house, or I'd be sleeping elsewhere. I set out two snap traps in the pantry last night baited with peanut butter. I awoke to Homestead Mama calling up the stairs, "The carnage has begun." Both traps had field mice in them. Drunk with my success, I reset the pantry traps immediately and caught another mouse around 6:30pm. Whoopee! I put out a couple more pantry traps, and feeling lucky, set 3 huge rat traps baited with dog treats on the side porch. I'll let you know how it goes - maybe even post some pictures.

2007 tally: Rodents: 0. Me: 3.