Friday, August 31, 2007

Friends Who Cook

A new friend of ours was an OB nurse at the hospital we delivered in. She is now a nurse manager at our pediatricians office. She was the kind soul who came to the house and stripped my membranes when I was so ready to deliver Monito. She has been wanting to come and do something to ease our lives since the arrival of the second baby, and tonight was finally the night. All day long I worried about not having time to tidy, vacuum and clean up the house. I obsessed about the clutter that is growing and that I don't have time to deal with right now, since I am spending almost all my days holding the sick baby boy. Despite all my needless concern, our nurse friend showed up at our home and cooked us a delicious dinner of Moroccan Chicken over couscous. We cracked a bottle of wine and ate in the living room since I didn't have a chance to clean the dining room. She did this lovely mitzvah for us with no mention of the state of our home. I forget how nice it is to have people over, the kind of people who help us instead of draining us. Dinner was yummy, and we had a nice time chatting and getting to know each other a bit more. After dinner, I finally remembered to offer to let her hold Monito. It isn't that I want to hoard him, it is just that I am so used to shouldering the responsibility that I forget to share him. She was happy to get her hands on him, even though he pees or leaks his diaper on her every time she holds him. Embarrassingly enough, tonight was no exception. I can't imagine how that happens, but bad diaper management must be a big part of it. (Neither of our kids let us know when they are wet, and neither get rashes, so we have to remember to change them regularly. NOTHING should be left up to my memory these days, or Homestead Mama's.)

isn't really into being held right now unless she is tired or hurt. She was tearing around the living room and kitchen the whole time. At one point I went to check on her in the kitchen as it had been quiet for 60 seconds and she was standing up holding onto the dog's bowl. Luna, our shepherd mix, was sitting next to her looking miserable as Pequita stirred her hand around in the bowl of dinner Luna had been enjoying until a few seconds earlier. I swooped in and grabbed Pequita from the bowl and as expected, spotted the 2 kibbles in her mouth that she was happily mashing on. Oh, how she howled when I removed her prize from her mouth. I was only slightly comforted by the fact that we feed the dogs human-grade food. It is still dog food, and a right proper choking hazard. And a little funny, too.

Tomorrow, Friday, Homestead Mama's father and stepmother are coming to visit from out of town. They are attending a conference in a nearby town, and are taking the opportunity to meet their new grandson for the first time. It is great they can come down, as I don't think we'll make it up to their house until Christmastime. Homestead Mama has to run a training all day for work, so I may be on my own with them until she arrives. I hope Pequita's stranger anxiety is really easing up, as it will be hard for them if she is afraid of them. No one likes that kind of reminder that we don't see enough of our relatives.

In The Middle of the Night

Monito just woke me. He sleeps in a co-sleeper attached to my side of the bed. He stirred and whimpered and I reached out to cup the side of his face in my hand to let him know I am close. This quieted him down for a minute, but he was clearly uncomfortable and dreaming. I put his pacifier in his mouth, and he gratefully sucked it in. I let him grip my finger in his hot little fist, and patted his belly with my hand to distract him from whatever body sensation had him whimpering. We both dozed off like this. Each time he chirped, I'd start up the patting again and he'd settle down for a while.
In the middle of the night, by the faint glow of the nightlight at the foot of the bed, it feels like he and I are in a cozy, dozey little bubble. The rest of the room fades, Pequita and Homestead Mama are so quiet that it seems that I am alone with our son. It is a safe microcosm in which I can give him what he needs to be happy and alive, comforting him with my presence and my touch, nursing him, rocking him in my arms until he is still. I am very aware that this is the only time in his life that this will be true. He and I fall asleep, and I am awakened again, but this time by Pequita coughing herself into a state of partial wakefulness. She staggers to a kneeling position, drunk with fatigue. She cries out and I pull her out of her crib. Homestead Mama usually tends to her at night, but she is so overtired from the night before that she hasn't woken up yet. Pequita, upon recognizing me as I get her settled on my body, smiles a wide close-mouthed grin and comfortably closes her eyes as she reaches out both hands to guide the proffered breast into her mouth. I stand next to her crib with her body perpendicular to mine, holding her hips and legs in one arm and supporting her shoulders with the other while I nurse her. In this position I can sway and rock her while she nurses herself back to sleep. I am glad she woke up, as I usually have to wake up and pump at some point in the night because I make too much milk for Monito. I make the perfect amount for both babies, I think. If Homestead Mama decides to stop nursing as much as she currently does, I think I can easily pick up the slack. It is much nicer to nurse a smiling warm baby at 1 am than to sit in a stupor pumping a couple of bottles of milk to freeze for the future. I can't skip the nightime pump, though, or I wake up in the morning with wet sheets, having leaked milk all over the bed.
Once Pequita is good and truly back to sleep, I put her back in her crib where she immediately curls up into my own favorite position to sleep in as a toddler, with my cheek against the mattress and my butt in the air, legs curled up underneath me. I realize I am quite awake and decide to blog a bit. Homestead Mama and I haven't been making the time to keep a good journal of the babies development. If I don't blog it, it doesn't get written down. I'm working to change that, as there is much more than I write here, but for now, my joy and satisfaction at this stage in my life, and my utter love and adoration for my nightime babies, is here for you all to read about. I wish I could capture the feeling better than I have, but words are so clumsy when trying to describe the feeling of my heart welling up.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hot Blooded, Check It and See

Yes, the title confirms that I'm a child of the 80's.
Monito has a fever, having finally developed the cold that is plaguing the family. He is sweaty and whimpering, clearly miserable. All I can do is keep him cool and well hydrated. I hate this part of parenting, when I can't fix things!
Another thing on my list of duties? Taking rectal temps. Homestead Mama would prefer not to inflict that kind of discomfort on the babes. I suppose my Attila the Hun tendencies pay off for her.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

User Error

Our lovely farmhouse sink has a nice chrome Delta faucet. The hot water handle has leaked for several months, and when the cold just started I knew it was time to take action. Our division of labor is fairly consistent, and I am responsible for all fine-tuning indoor things. Homestead Mama handles hole digging, garbage, laundry, cooking, and the kitchen is her lab & domain. I am responsible for all things wiring & plumbing, taxes, finances, baking and all sewing/hemming/knitting tasks. Not to mention rodent/pest control. (I didn't know I was falling in love with a chicken when it was happening. Who asks their girlfriend if they are afraid of mice? Total oversight on my part.)

So I am happily dismantling the kitchen faucets. I did this exact repair 3 years ago - all that is needed is a tiny little $8 gasket and spring. Smart cookie that I am , I bought a couple extra packs of the part the last time I did the repair. I pull out the pliers, remove the handle, then the basket, I'm actively waiting for my memory of doing this the first time to kick in. I'm still waiting when the water starts shooting straight up out of the cold faucet, making the pendant light sway with the force of it all. I cup my hands over the geyser and call, quietly but urgently, to Homestead Mama to Come Now, and Quickly! She is under a sleeping Monito and next to a sleeping Pequita who is on the couch and not safe to be left. H-Mama does an admirable job disengaging rapidly; by the time she rushes in to turn off the water supply under the sink I have figured out how to angle the spray back into the sink, for the most part. I am busy feeling grateful we primed the drywall with Aqualock paint when the water stops. I don't remember the geyser from the first repair. Oy. They don't leak anymore, at least.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

She Speaks

Pequita awoke between us at 7 am with a smile and a deep hacking cough (exactly how old can you teach them to cover their mouths? Anyone?) and played with the bell we give her as a bed toy. Then her brother chirped, and she peered over my still dozing form, spotted him, and clear as day said "Baaaybee!" Homestead Mama's startled eyes met mine, and we waited for her to replicate the experience. No go. If we get a repeat performance, that is, her saying 'baby' with intent and in the right context, then we'll make it official. What a great first word it will be, recognition of her brother.
She then proceeded to crawl over to his co-sleeper (trampling me in the process) and grabbed his pacifier out of his happily sucking mouth. Awwwww.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Off the charts

Monito had his two month wellness visit last Wednesday. We had no questions or complaints for the doctor, and he weathered the injustice of his first vaccinations with little fuss.

He is now 15 pounds 12 ounces and 26.25 inches. This puts him clearly off the charts percentage-wise. He's grown 4 whole inches since he was born - the length of his calf, for goodness sake! He does dangle out of my arms when I hold him & breast feed. I'm going to be awfully buff by the time our two beefy kids are walking well on their own.I knew he was big, but this is BIG. Even if he averages out a bit, which is common, he'll still likely be on the big side. We are pleased.


I see why people bemoan the departure of their little baby when the teeth come in. Looks like two teeth, top and bottom, doesn't it? But when I turn her upside down and tickle her, you can see the full FOUR teeth on top.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer Vacation Redux, part 3

And Monito at 8 weeks was a champ. He slept well, especially once I made set him up in the laundry basket.
He was a dear boy to all who held him. He accepted being passed around, and met his Aunties and cousin for the first time. Spitting up on Grandpa was clearly a highlight of his trip.He also enjoyed going to the carousel, although he decided to remain in the Bjo.rn carrier and nap.

He graduated to the sitting up position in the stroller, as he can hold his head up well enough and really prefers the visual stimulation.

Grandma generously stayed behind on the beach and held him, encased in UV-ray repelling fabric & clothing, while Homestead Mom and Mama took Pequita swimming for the first time in the ocean. Quite the hardship, really, for poor Grandma.

Summer vacation redux part 2

Many firsts for Pequita on this vacation - a hazard of being 10 months old, I expect.

Pequita likes sucking on lemons, which we found out quite by accident while cutting them up for lobster. I'm sure she'll grow out of it, but it is a funny sight to see now. She sucks on it, then puckers and whistles air through her lips to ease the sting.

She went on a real carousel for the first time, one that is a National Historic Landmark. She loved the hammock on the porch.Bubbles became a popular outdoor activity. There was the yogurt incident.

But best of all? She figured out that pianos exist. She pounded the keys and chortled. Now that we're home, we've set up her little toy piano on a foot stool and she dances and bashes on it - we call her Jerry Lee Lewis now.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer Vacation Redux - Part One

It was surprisingly difficult to not have Internet on vacation. There was so much to blog about and so many good pictures.

Our departure was, as usual, completely nutty. My 14 year-old dog shattered his foreleg jumping from only one foot off the ground the afternoon before we left. The emergency vet hospital visit took 4 hours the night before we left, basically consuming all our planned packing time. The x-rays showed that my pooch likely had early bone cancer and we decided to euthanize him - the leg was irreparable, and he had several other serious aging dog issues. This was horrible for me, as he was my constant companion for his whole life. His nickname was The Mayor, as he was friendly to a fault and always wanted to wander around politely greeting every person in the park. It was a less than auspicious ending, because Homestead Mama and I had both babies in a small exam room for the whole time during and through their bedtime. I was unable to properly love on my pooch and process what was going on because Monito was crying and Pequita was licking the floor, exam table legs, chairs, whatever. (She's going through a bit of a phase right now.) When my dog was being put down Pequita was bleary-eyed and chewing on the door stop (in a vet hospital - how clean could that BE?) and it made it hard to focus on the dog, so strong was my desire to keep her from contracting some deadly bacteria from the surfaces she was so lovingly tasting.

The next morning, instead of waking up and jumping into a packed car, we awoke and had to both tend babies, nurse, and pack for 10 days away from home. We managed to fit everything we needed into our car. It took about 12 hours with traffic to make the seven-hour drive, and Homestead Mama kept the babies happy the whole way by sitting squeezed in between the two car seats in the back. I was grateful to be the one driving. Due to a traffic jam at the end of the trip, we made our ferry with THREE minutes to spare. I have never sped so much in a car - I am usually a pretty lawful driver. I was spurred on by the thought of being stranded in a vacation area at 8 pm with no hotel vacancies, no way to get our car-load of stuff across the ferry (reservations fill up in January) and with two exhausted babies. I was giddy with happiness as we sat in the car nursing and breathing ocean air deeply. We got set up to put the babies to sleep immediately upon arrival (after hugs all around) and crashed pretty quickly ourselves. I woke up early almost every day, to the sunrise view below from the balcony off our room. The ocean is a block away, and while it doesn't show up in the photo very well it is huge, blue and looks gorgeous from the house.

Monito was exhausted from his first 2 months of life, and really took to vacationing like a champ. (And yes, I packed his mobile. He looks at it when he wakes up and it buys us more sleep time.)

My family has been renting the same vacation house for about twenty years. It is like sliding into a comfortable old robe to arrive and unpack, shake off our travel clothes and stress and meander down to the big porch that overlooks a park and out onto the ocean with a gin and tonic (or this year a baby and a passel of toys.) The house is close to the beach, grocery store, restaurants and a great park - the location can't be beat.

One of our favorite activities to do while on vacation is to go quahogging. We crack some open while standing hip-deep in the bay and eat them on the half shell, but end up bringing home a half-bushel for later transformation into chowder. Some days it can take a couple hours to rake up that many, other days it only takes a short time. The new digging site we went to this year was so rich with clams that we were done quickly. One of us got 22 clams in one scoop - an all-time record, to be sure. Homestead Mama wore Pequita in the Ergo carrier because she felt strongly that Pequita would love the experience. She did, until she fell asleep. This isn't an easy task, as H-mama was bending, dipping, digging and bouncing the baby around the whole time. You can see her head lolling to the side in the picture. Have I mentioned how our baby girl will sleep anywhere?

I only raked for about 10 minutes until I felt the pull of my Cesarean incision site, and opted to be the photographer in lieu of popping my almost-dissolved stitches.

Monito stayed behind with grandma on the porch. He spent time swinging in the hammock, which he loved. I really never have to worry when my mother has the kids. She is incredibly nurturing and innately skilled and patient with infant and young children. She taught kindergarten - third grade for her whole life, and it shows in all her interactions with our kids.

My dad makes the best chowder recipe (from the New Basic Cookbook) and he spent the day tending to that, and we had it for dinner. The quahogs last all week, too, so it is a good thing to do early in our vacation.

Monday, August 13, 2007

We're Back

Last week, we caught the ferry over to our destination with only three minutes to spare due to traffic. We made it onto our return ferry this morning at 7 am with a whole 2o minutes to spare. Travelling with 2 kids is much different than just us, for sure. I managed to get both kids diaper-changed an dressed this morning at 5:30 am without waking them while Homestead Mama finished loading the car. A miracle, really. They lasted several hours in the car today without incident, as long as H-mama sat wedged in between their carseats the whole way entertaining them. I'm not complaining - we didn't have baby meltdown until 20 minutes from our house. We asked a lot of them and they totally came through today. Good babies!
Below, Monito falls in love with his grandpa and Pequita comtemplates her future as a small craft sailor.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


We are on vacation with very sketchy wifi.  I have many pictures and stories to post, and will do so as I'm able.  We've had a few days of sun, a couple hazy/rainy days, and are having a mostly good time.  (Everything is easier in our own home, except the extra hands we have here to help w/ the kids.)  Pequita went swimming in the ocean for the first time and loved it.  She wasn't such a big fan of the waves hitting her in the shallows, but we held her close to us in the deeper water and she was quite happy.  She was quite pleased at the taste of the ocean - she kept dipping her fingers into the salt water and shoving them in her mouth to taste them.  This I didn't expect. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I Survived 30 Hours of Labor...

...and all I got was this lousy baby. (Really, just kidding!)

I just graduated from OB care. I passed my 6 week checkup - all is back where it should be, tightened up and firm. The doc says I am to continue to take it easy for another 2 weeks, so once we return from vacation I'll be clear to care for Pequita again - what a relief and a joy! She is crawling increasingly fast - cornering like a well-tuned Porche, actually. She has only discovered the lower shelves so far, so we plant interesting items that are acceptable (moderately) for her to mess around with to spice things up for her. Behold, breastpad-apalooza. She spends many minutes every morning while we dress emptying the box and flinging them about, then tears little bite-sized nips out of the edges with her little teeth. She clutches a few in each hand and spins in circles on her butt with joy. She looooves breast pads.

Wilted Baby

It is 90+ degrees today and the fan isn't cutting it at all. The boy was crying no matter what I did until I had the brilliant idea to wet down a cloth diaper and lay it on him. He started to coo adorably with relief and promptly fell asleep.

I am off to pick Pequita up from daycare and then will be packing for our vacation on the beach. I can't wait, and I haven't even been slaving away at a desk.

Will Smile For Boob

Looking forward with trepidation to the hits I get for this title.

Full Access

I read all my comments. I love it when those of you who read make yourselves known (hint hint).

My lovely friend from the UK left this comment on the last post:

"I need some clarification. Your DAD was present during your labor?!? Your parents are amazing!!"

I must concur. They are amazing. When Homestead Mama went into labor, we were able to wait until the sensible hour of 6 am to call my parents so they could get on the road and make the six hour drive to be present for the delivery. They stayed a week after Pequita was born; H-Mama's father came to visit the weekend after they left. Her mom came to visit when Pequita was 3 months old. When I went into labor, we called them at 11:30 pm and they drove through the night, poor souls.

My dad was the photographer when Homestead Mama gave birth to Pequita, and also when I gave birth to Monito. When I say he had all access, I mean ALL ACCESS. We charged him with taking photos of everything, figuring we'd edit as needed after the fact. Well, Dad took his job very seriously (as we knew he would) and he has left us with a photojournalist-styled series of shots from both births. He even took audio recordings and short movies so we could have clips of us laboring, with all the vocalizations, swearing, and laughing that went on, and some of the discussions with the doc about major decisions, like should we move to c-sections. People are universally surprised, if not a tad horrified, that Homestead Mama let her father-outlaw in the delivery room with her all naked, bloody, distracted and out of sorts taking closeup action shots of her lady parts. (Truth be told, in the throes of labor they don't resemble the normal bits all that much. Also, while there is much dignity, there is precious little modesty in labor. Trust me.) People are only slightly less horrified that I had him perform the same function at my delivery. We are grateful to him, and pleased to have a personal record of the events. I don't imagine that we'll ever show most of the photos to anyone else, but WE have them. I intend to use them to illustrate the birth stories that we are writing. And based on my own love of hearing the story of my own birth while I was growing up, H-Mama and I will be videotaping ourselves relating the story of each of our kids' births to add to the memory boxes. I think it will be meaningful for the kids as they get older. We get so mushy and lovey and make moon eyes at each other when we reminisce, and have photos of the IVF clinic doc & nurses, we saved a plastic vial that contained the "donor sample" from the inseminations, each and every ultrasound pictures or movie, the amnio video and results, the hospital name bracelets from the delivery, and assorted other artifacts. Homestead Mama's family was very bad at keeping memorabilia - we have NO photographs of her younger than one year old as her mom lost them at some point. She feels this as a great loss of her personal history. I came from the exact opposite environment, and loved having the record of coming into existence. So from two different beginnings, we are united in our desire to keep a full history for each child.

With all this text about the pictures, here are a couple that embody the spirit of my labor and bring it all rushing back. The difference between these two faces/moods could be as little as 2 minutes. Forgive the black-out spots - there are some images of myself that I NEVER want to see reproduced on the web in their entirety.

Birth, restored

I accidentally deleted the 30 hours of photographs that my father took during my delivery.  I still had the images of the c-section, but the record of the actual labor?  I must have deleted them in the process of backing up my laptop to my desktop to my external book drive.  Clearly, I'm not as savvy as I'd like. 
Luckily, I am a sentimental fool and had saved the cd with the pics on it that he gave me in the hospital in a memory box along with Monito's footprint card, the little plastic ankle ID bracelet tag they had on him, and the clip that clamped off his umbilical cord. 
Thank god.  I was in tears when I figured out that they weren't on any computer, and spent a good hour trying to figure out if I could restore them before checking the memory box.  I am so relieved.