thismummaslife

Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


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Why My Kids Won’t Be Making A Christmas List

christmas morning 2
I realize that the holiday season is different for every family, and is often fraught with feelings of protectiveness over one’s traditions. You hear all the time about whether or not saying “Happy Holidays” is polite, politically correct, or somehow construed as an attack on the Christmas holiday. While I believe most people agree that we live in a society that turns holidays into frenzies of consumerism, and that this is a negative thing, it is still an easy trap to fall into. Even though I personally think it is ridiculous to spend more money than makes sense, to rush around from store to store scrambling to find something, anything, to be able to scratch another name off my list, I still do it every year, at least a little bit.

I daydream about the perfect simple Christmas season. The house will be decorated with handmade treasures, the kitchen will smell of fresh baked molasses cookies, gifts will be handmade, or lovingly and locally purchased, and wrapped in recycled brown paper bags. No stress, no rush, no busting the budget. Each year Jeramy and I move one step closer to achieving this daydream, but we haven’t gotten quite there yet. (We will keep trying though.)

We are not a religious family, so for us Christmas does not include certain traditions that others partake in. Although sometimes I do enjoy slipping off on my own for the Christmas Eve service at my Unitarian Universalist church, we focus on a non-religious meaning to the holiday. Christmas for us is about giving to others. Giving meaningfully, because we care, not because we feel obligated to buy something for everyone. It is about spending time together as a family picking out just the right Christmas tree at the orchard. It is for crafting, decorating, sipping hot cocoa under the twinkling lights, and reading stories together in our pajamas on Christmas Eve night. It is about telling Simon to look out the car windows–”Look, quick, on the left!”,”Coming up on the right!”–to see the elaborately decorated houses as we drive around. It is about coming together to share meals with family when the daylight hours are short, and the cold keeps everyone inside.

It is about taking a bit of extra time to appreciate the everyday magic in things, and to show those we care about just how much we care by partaking in the tradition of giving, even if all we give is a handwritten greeting.

All of this to say: I will not be asking my children to write Christmas lists. The reason for this is simple: I do not want them to focus on asking, but rather on giving. I want to encourage them to think about others during the season, instead of themselves.

I know, I know. It is a tradition, the making of the list. One that I partook in, that you probably partook in, and that has been going on for generations. And we turned out OK. I know. I am not trying to rob my kids of magic, or say that they don’t deserve presents, or don’t deserve to daydream about what might be under the tree for them on Christmas morning. I am OK with the fact that Simon has told us what he would most like to receive this year. But I feel very strongly against asking him to make a list of stuff.

I worry also that a Christmas list for small children may set them up for disappointment. What if they ask for things that the grownups in their lives simply cannot afford? I used to circle things in catalogs. But, when you are just a child, and there is so much variety in front of you, how can you possibly narrow it down to what you truly want? Commercials, store displays, and catalogs are trying to tell our kids that they want everything by using bright colors, catchy jingles, and scenes of smiling kids playing with toys and gadgets. There is so much being thrust at them, that if we ask them to make a list, we are asking them to filter out noise they may not be mature enough yet to ignore.

I give my kids gifts because I love them, and because as their parent, I want to give them the world, like all parents do. I want them to wake up Christmas morning, look under the tree, and feel anticipation to discover what is there for them underneath the shining bows. To see them get excited over just the right thing being chosen for them is something I hope to always be able to do.

I just won’t be asking them for any lists.


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Salad Spinner Art

Did you know you can use your salad spinner to make awesome art? I was reminded of this recently, when Jean over at The Artful Parent posted a link on Facebook to her blog post about doing so. I have had a salad spinner sitting in the back of a cabinet, and it has been years since I have used it for washing salad. I almost donated it when we moved last year, but I am now glad that we still have it kicking around for this new creative purpose.

spin art 1

spin art 4
spin art 3
spin art 7
spin art 5
spin art 6
Simply add paper to the salad spinner, drip in some paint, put the lid on and spin! It is really fun to see what the results are when it finally stops and you take the lid off. Simon squealed with delight every time each new piece was revealed.

We had fun testing out different color combinations. Simon even made one using all of the paint colors we have. We discovered that the results were better when the spinner went really, really fast.

This project is also very easy to clean up, for those of you who are more hesitant about using paint at home with little ones. I recommend using water based, non-toxic paint, such as tempera. When you are done, just wash the salad spinner out in the sink.

The following week I also brought my salad spinner to work with me and did this project with the kids who attended my Preschool Storytime program. I read aloud books about colors and art, and then gave the kids paper plates. They dripped paint onto their plates and we passed the salad spinner around for them to take turns. They had a blast!

spin art at the library


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Malcolm’s Birth Story

Mumma and Malcolm
I woke up on the morning of October 7th, which happened to be my estimated due date, to wet pajama pants. “Hmmm…” I thought, “Could my water be leaking?” I shrugged it off as I got cleaned up, telling myself that no one usually has their baby on their actual “due date”. But later, as I fixed breakfast for myself and 4-year-old Simon, I felt some little rushes of fluid, and decided to call my midwife.

I left a message with the receptionist, and only a few minutes later I got a call back, saying my midwife, Jean, wanted me to come in so she could check if my water had, in fact, broken. Still thinking nothing of it, I chose the latest appointment time of the ones they offered me. I called my Dad at work, and asked him if he could watch Simon for me while I went to the appointment. He and my Mother, both very excited, skipped out of work to come over. My mother stayed at my house to play with Simon, while my Dad chauffeured me, just in case. It turned out to be a good decision to have him drive me there, because on the way I had my first contraction. It was not very strong, but was definitely stronger than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having sporadically for weeks. When we arrived, I felt two more in the waiting room, just strong enough to distract me as my Dad and I conversed.

In Jean’s office, I changed out of my leggings, and she listened to Baby’s heart rate, and then had me lie back so she could check me. She did a test strip, which she explained showed signs of amniotic fluid. She also said I was 3 centimeters dilated. (I had been 2 centimeters at my last routine appointment with her.) We chatted as I got dressed again, and she told me there was a second test she would do under a microscope, but that she would like me to have a non-stress test up in Labor and Delivery, and that I should be admitted. Admitted? Wait, what? I was startled, and asked: “So this is happening?” It  didn’t seem like it could be, I wasn’t having contractions the same way that I did with Simon’s birth. I told her that if this was really it, and I was being admitted, I wanted to go home first to get my suitcase, and make sure Simon was all set. So she said she would go up to Labor and Delivery, and have them ready a room for me, and would see me back in a little while. As I left the office, I had another contraction. “Maybe this really is happening,” I thought.

I smiled as I told my Dad that the Baby was on the way, and then dialed my husband Jeramy at work to tell him to meet me at home. It still didn’t feel real.

Back at my house, I consulted my list, added the last few things to our suitcase, and packed Simon up to go stay with his Nana as I sipped coffee. Jeramy arrived, took a quick shower, then loaded up the car. I was still having contractions, and they were very manageable and far apart, but I began timing them with an app on my phone. My Mother-in-law arrived next, and Jeramy buckled Simon into her car as all three Grandparents wished us luck. When it was time to say goodbye to Simon, he got very teary-eyed, and didn’t want to let us go from his arms when we gave him hugs. It was extremely hard for me to see him upset, knowing he was experiencing excitement, nervousness, and fear of the unknown all at once, and just wanting to keep comforting and holding him. But I knew he would be well cared for, and that he would likely calm down as soon as their car backed down the driveway.

***

About half an hour later Jeramy and I arrived at the hospital. The staff had already prepared our room, which surprised me. I had expected to go through triage before being checked in, but I suppose when your water is broken, there is no question about whether or not you are checking in. The room we were given was the one we were hoping for, and we had indicated this on our birth plan. Out of the 7 Labor and Delivery rooms, it is one of only two with a queen-sized bed, and is the only one with a built-in birthing tub. (The other rooms require an inflatable one be brought in.) It was also the room that Simon was born in, and I was so excited to be having our second child in that same space.

We settled in for a moment before Jeramy went back to the car for the suitcase, and then we sat and talked for a few minutes until the nurse came in to put me on the monitor. I had requested only intermittent monitoring throughout labor, so that I would have full freedom to move around the room, and use any position to make myself more comfortable. Unfortunately, I had also tested positive for group B strep, which meant that every 4 hours I would be given a dose of antibiotics as well. In order to keep me hooked up to machines for the least amount of time, the nurse put in my hep lock, and gave me my first dose of antibiotics at the same time that I wore the belly monitor. Jean came in then, and we discussed some options. Since my water was leaking so slowly, she thought it might be a good idea to break it the rest of the way. I shared some hesitations I was feeling, telling her that I was scared it would hurt. She was very reassuring, explaining it wouldn’t, and that she thought it might be a good idea to gently help things along in this way, so that I would not have to be in labor for so long that I would run out of energy. She also reminded me that my water was already broken, she would just be helping it along, and that she would not be recommending this if it wasn’t already leaking. I agreed to do it, and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. It felt like a big gush of warm liquid, and there was no pain. Our nurse, Amanda, helped me get cleaned up, and brought me a pad to wear. Jean suggested that when I was ready, we go for a walk.

A short time later, we were wandering around the Labor and Deliver floor, chatting about the last time we had done this, when I had birthed Simon. I had only one contraction as we walked, and I leaned on Jeramy for support, as we stood and swayed. After a while, we returned to our room to order dinner from the cafeteria. As we sat and ate, I thought how strange it was to still be so comfortable. I texted my friend: “I am in labor, but I am eating lasagna.” This whole experience was so different from my first delivery, where contractions were 5 minutes apart almost the entire time.

Not much later, my contractions did start moving closer together and becoming stronger. Through them, I would close my eyes, take Jeramy’s hand, and focus on breathing through a relaxed mouth. From reading Ina May’s book, I knew that a relaxed and open mouth can help assist with relaxation all over, and with dilating of the cervix. So as I breathed, I told myself to keep from clenching my jaw. Amanda brought me a birth ball, and I moved from the ball, gently bouncing, to the bed on my knees, with my arms and head on a stack of pillows, and even to the toilet. Moving through all of these positions, breathing deeply, and swaying gently back and forth, helped me through the pain. I was monitored again while sitting on the ball, and received a second dose of antibiotics. During this stage of labor, we listened to Lisa Hannigan on the CD player and kept the lights dim in the room. It got dark outside, and we closed the shades.

Jeramy was a wonderful birth partner. He held me when I needed him, reassured me and rubbed my back, and reminded me to focus on just breathing and keeping my body from tensing up. A few times, I told him to just keep talking to me while I had a contraction, and he told me funny stories to make me laugh. As my contractions became more intense, I squeezed his hand harder and harder, and he never complained. I spent a lot of time visualizing my baby coming down, my cervix opening up, and thinking to myself: “My baby is coming. My contractions are my own body bringing me my baby. I am opening, and I am going to keep opening to let my baby out.” I truly believe that this positive thinking helped to speed things along.

As late evening arrived, I began to feel strongly that I wanted to be in the tub. Jean had encouraged me to think of the tub as “medicine” and to wait until I was at the point of really needing it before getting in, so that it would not relax me to the point of slowing labor way down. I was definitely reaching that point. After my third dose of antibiotics, they got the tub ready for me.

I wanted to use the bathroom before getting into the water. Jeramy walked me to the toilet, where I sat for a few minutes. I had an intense contraction then, and began sweating. I remember him suggesting “Maybe you are in transition?”. As I got ready to stand back up off the toilet, I was hit by another very intense contraction, and I grabbed onto Jeramy with all my might. When it ended, I waited a moment, then went to stand again and another strong contraction came. The contractions were so strong then, that I just wanted to be settled into the warm water of the tub, but it seemed like every time I tried to make a move in that direction, my body would be hit by another intense contraction, and I wouldn’t be able to stand up. Finally, after four or five contractions like that, I was able to stand up, put on my bathing suit top, and move toward the birthing tub.

Amanda and Jean came into the room as I climbed into the water, and asked about my pain level. I had another contraction and happily reported that it only ranked about a 7 out of 10, now that I was in the water. “I am never getting out.”, I said and smiled. The tub was so comforting, and I fully expected to spend a lot of time in there. Jean left to go attend to other women. (There were 4 of us in labor that night!) I believe she, too, thought I would be in there a while. However, after only about 3 contractions, things changed.

Suddenly, I was sweating again, and my strongest contraction yet came. I squeezed Jeramy’s arm and told him “I feel like I might be pushing, call Jean!”. As the contraction ended, he started to move toward the call button, but a second contraction hit, just as strong, and I grabbed onto him again, and would not let him go. “I just want my baby, I just want to hold my baby.” I told him as I breathed through it. “Soon.” he told me, and held me. Then, I surprised myself as I shouted out loudly: “I’m pushing!!!”, and Jean heard me from the hallway. She and Amanda came rushing back into the room.

As the contraction ended, Jean checked me, and told me the Baby’s head was already crowning. She asked if I wanted to feel it, and, remembering how amazing that had been, and how it had encouraged me to keep going to reach down and feel my baby when Simon was being born, I said yes. She helped me guide my hand, and sure enough, I felt the top of a warm little head emerging and I smiled. Jean helped me to lift my leg, and prop it into a better position. As the next intense contraction came, she told me I needed to shift my bottom down. This was the one time during all of labor that I doubted myself. I felt like I could not move. “I can’t!” I said, but both she and Jeramy said “Yes you can! You have to.”, and somehow, with their help, I scooted down in the tub to make room for the baby to come out as I pushed. On the third big contraction Jean told me to “Keep pushing, keep pushing!” and I tried with all of the strength I had. It was hard, and part of me wanted to give up, but I wanted my baby, I breathed hard and just focused on picturing the baby coming out. My eyes were closed through most of this, and Jeramy later told me that it looked like I was in a trance. I didn’t even realize there were two other nurses in the room. At one point, I bit Jeramy on the arm! At last, I felt the baby’s body emerge, experienced an overwhelming sense of relief from the stretching as he slid out, and that’s when I finally opened my eyes.

His cord was wrapped twice around his neck, which scared me at first, but Jean calmly unwrapped him, and placed him on my chest. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” I exclaimed, as I held his warm, wet little body against me, and looked at his tiny little face. He didn’t cry, he only made one little noise of complaint to clear his lungs, and then settled on my chest. He was beautiful, and I was instantly in love. A minute later, Jeramy looked between his legs, and said “He’s a boy.” The nurse asked if we had a name, and I told her: “Malcolm Everett.”

Just like his brother, he was born just after 12:30 in the morning.

***

After a few moments of snuggling my baby, Jean asked me if Jeramy could hold Malcolm while they took off my wet bathing suit top, so that the baby would not be cold up against it. I passed him to his Daddy, and looked over to see Jeramy looking at and talking to his new baby, with happy tears in his eyes. He came back and stood by me and held my hand as I delivered the placenta. Jean drained the tub, and used a gentle sprayer to wash my legs before she and Amanda helped me to slowly stand up. They moved me to a small bed on wheels that had been brought in for delivery, and they propped me up on pillows there as Jeramy passed Malcolm back to me. I held him to my chest, and he began smacking his lips. I brought him to my breast and he immediately latched on to nurse. Everything felt incredibly serene, as I sat there in the warm and dim room, nursing my baby, not being able to take my eyes off of him.

After a short while, I was ready to stand up, use the bathroom, and get dressed. Jeramy took Malcolm, as Amanda helped me with all of this. Jean hugged and kissed me goodbye, telling us she would be back to check in with us the next morning. We took a picture, and sent an announcement to our families. Amanda came back to weigh and measure the baby, and we finally dressed and bathed him. He was 6 pounds, 9 ounces and just over 20 inches long.

Alone in the room, Jeramy and I basked in the amazement of all that had happened, and stared at our beautiful new baby.

Malcolm just born
The next morning arrived, we ordered breakfast, and eagerly awaited Simon’s arrival to meet his new brother. I was chatting with the pediatrician, who had stopped by to give the baby a quick check-up, when he came into the room. “So tiny! So tiny!”, he repeated through a huge smile, as he climbed up onto the bed with us. We helped him get settled against some pillows, and passed the baby to him. For me, that moment was magic. My two children, together for the first time, and seeing how in awe Simon was of the baby, as he commented on and inspected his little ears, little hands, little nose.

First time meeting
As I looked at the three of them, together on the bed, my heart felt full. I knew that our family was now complete. We are all here, and I am overwhelmed with love.


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Feeding New Parents: What to Bring When You Visit

granola and snack

I have been working to stock up our freezer with some easy to re-heat foods for after the Baby is born. In our usual daily lives I am often exhausted by planning a meal, shopping for ingredients, prepping it all, and cooking. Throw a new Baby into the mix, and “exhausted” won’t quite cover it. Not to mention how preoccupied I will be with getting breastfeeding on track, giving my 4-year-old enough attention, changing diapers, and just getting to know the newest member of the family. (Including hours of staring at the little face, tiny feet, miniature hands…)

In my search for items to make and stock, I have come across tons of articles and blog posts with recommendations, including suggestions for what guests should bring when visiting families with a New Baby. These lists are great, and have been helpful. (I never would have thought to make a big batch of homemade breakfast sandwiches to freeze on my own.) However, there seems to be one thing all of these lists have in common: casserole, casserole, casserole.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love a good casserole. They can be the ultimate comfort food. There is currently one in my freezer. The thing about casseroles however, is that eating them everyday can seem repetitive and, well….mushy. Not to mention the fact that the ingredients are all mixed in together, and not everyone in a family may have the same preferences. For example, Grandma’s chicken casserole with mushrooms? I cannot get enough of mushrooms, but my husband and son can’t stand them. Broccoli Alfredo? The grownups in this house would gobble that up. The resident 4-year-old wouldn’t even be in the same room.

Casseroles are easy to freeze and reheat, and economical. They are often delicious. But too many casseroles is not a good thing.

Another consideration, is that not everyone cooks. Many people want to bring food to new parents, knowing how helpful it is, but don’t know what to make, or how to make it. And choosing a random recipe on a whim, especially for someone else, can backfire.

For this reason, I made a list of ideas for food items that are almost always surefire winners. Some require a bit of cooking or baking, some require none at all. Some your could even pick up on your way there at the last-minute, when the parents say “Hey the Baby is all fed and we are dressed, now is finally a good time.” If you find yourself wondering what to bring to parents with a new Baby, perhaps this list can take away some of the guessing or stress.

Ideas for Food to Bring to New Parents:

~Gift certificates to local restaurants. Especially places in close proximity to the family, especially if you know they like to eat there. Bonus points for places that deliver.

~Call and ask what staple items the family might need. Eggs, bread, milk, butter, peanut butter, coffee…anything they might be low on or out of. You’ll save them a trip to the store.

~If they have an older child, bring healthy snacks or treats for them. The child will feel special, the parents will be delighted that you gave their older kid some special attention, and if the treat is healthy, or at least not loaded with junk ingredients, it will cause no extra stress for them. Some ideas: a box of animal crackers or goldfish crackers, organic yogurt in a tube, juice boxes or pouches with no added sugar or food coloring, little packs of raisins, fruit cups sweetened only with fruit juice, freeze-dried fruit, snap-pea crisps, etc. You could even go one step further, and have a little tea party with the older child(ren), while you share the snack you brought.

~Stop at a local bakery and pick up a half-dozen bagels. Bring cream cheese or flavored butter.

~Make some homemade granola, or pick up a bag at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Include a jug of milk or some yogurt, and bring orange juice.

~Bring a fruit platter, or make a fruit salad with washed and prepped seasonal fruits.

~Make a batch of fresh oatmeal cookies, or grab some of the giant, chewy ones at a local bakery. Or, make up a batch of your favorite cookie dough, roll it into balls, and freeze them. The family can bake them up a few at a time or all at once if they want to. If you really want to go the extra mile in the cookie department, bake up a batch of lactation cookies for a nursing Mama. There are many recipes out there, here is one you could try. And don’t worry, partners and other kids can eat them too, despite the name.

~Bring a batch of muffins, scones, or cinnamon buns, and then fix everyone a cup of tea.

~Call ahead and take everyone’s drink order from a local cafe: coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. Consider adding a small gift certificate for the next time they need caffeination.

~Bring a big salad. Consider adding ingredients for extra nutrition such as nuts, chickpeas, olives, or grilled chicken. Include dressing and a side of crusty bread.

~Quiche with a side salad.

~Tortilla chips and salsa. Bonus points if the salsa is homemade, but not necessary. (People forget about snacks.)

~The fixings to make tacos. Prepare the meat or beans ahead of time, and put them in a container. Bring with tortillas or shells, an avocado, tomato, cheese, greens, and a side of sour cream.

~The fixings to make french bread pizzas. Bring a loaf of french bread, a container of pizza sauce, mozzarella, and a few toppings. Each member of the family can make their own mini pizza just the way they like. This is especially good if there are older siblings who might be picky.

~Grab a rotisserie chicken, some mashed potatoes, and steam-in-the-bag veggies.

~Make homemade mac n’ cheese, and a roasted vegetable, and deliver in oven-safe containers for reheating.

~Soup and a side of biscuits.

~Grab a container of hummus, some pita bread, and some carrot sticks/celery/raw broccoli, etc. (Seriously, people always forget about snacks.)

~Speaking of snacks: cheese and crackers, homemade trail mix, fancy popcorn, baked fruit or veggie chips such as kale or apple, or protein/granola bars.

If you have ever stressed over what to bring when visiting friends or family with a new Baby, perhaps this list can serve as inspiration. And possibly save them from a pile of casseroles.


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Our Mornings

tea mug
Through my sleep, I become aware of the sound of 4-year-old mouth-breathing in my room, and then feel the mattress start bouncing as he climbs into my bed and starts whining at me to move over and make room for him to snuggle. I groan and grumble at him to stop pulling on my blanket, but I move over anyway. “Snuggling” lasts for maybe two minutes, before he becomes bored, and begins his list of demands for breakfast, someone to play with him, and/or for me to rub or scratch his back. Usually, I complain that the numbers on the clock say it is too early, and that he needs to go play in his room for a few minutes, and give Mumma a chance to wake up.

Occasionally, this plan works, and I get to spend another 15 minutes or so dozing, while I listen to the imaginative narrations and sound effects of his play over the baby monitor. My bubble inevitably bursts though, as Lego creations are thrust into my face, or shouts of “Can you come wipe my butt!!!?” wake me again.

When we come down the stairs, he is chatty—too chatty for an introverted, non-morning person Mom to handle before coffee. I relish in closing the bathroom door behind me for a moment, creating a physical barrier between us, so that I can pee in peace. However, he usually bursts in on me anyway, says he “just wants to be with me”, and sits on his little bathroom step stool, staring at me while I do my business, and giving me a grin that is somehow simultaneously endearing and obnoxious.

We then make our way to the kitchen, where the regular routine of me suggesting something for breakfast, and him repeatedly asking: “But what else do we have?” begins. This either ends in me losing patience, and making him whatever I am having anyway despite his protests, or giving in and allowing him to have a yogurt tube (they are supposed to be for preschool lunches) and crackers for breakfast, while I have my granola and fruit.

Finally, at the breakfast table, I usually get my moment of peace. He is too impatient to get on with the day’s playing, and instead of demanding and arguing that he stay at the table to eat, I allow him to come and go, returning to the table for an occasional bite, while he makes tinker toy contraptions, or engages a toy ninja in a fight with a knight. His needs being met, and off in his little world, I sip my coffee, eat my own breakfast, and read a book or doodle in my sketchbook. My brain slowly thaws from grogginess, and I become, at least a little bit, human.

At one point, I formed an idealized vision–of us having breakfast together every morning, side-by-side at the table, enjoying conversation–and I tried to make it a reality. This resulted in too much squirminess on his part, and too much impatience on mine. I believe in the importance of the family meal, which we fulfill at dinnertime. Breakfast and lunch with my child, on the days when we are home together, are much more relaxed and fluid, and I have decided to be OK with that, rather than beat myself up about it.

Today is one of such days at home. I do not have to work, and he has no preschool. He has a runny nose and slight cough, so I want to keep him inside the house and as relaxed as possible in order to avoid this little cold from combining with his asthma and becoming croup or worse. I am also heavily pregnant, so while my hope is to get all of the laundry done, dishes washed, dinner planned, and vacuuming done, I am accepting the reality that it might not all happen.

I am reading and drinking a cup of tea while he watches Magic School Bus. He comes over for a bite of his food and sees my mug. “Can I have some tea?” he asks.

I go pour some of the still warm water from my tea preparations into a mug, add a blueberry tea bag, and bring it to the table. He comes back into the dining room, and reaches for his mug. Something catches his attention on the television, he fails to stop paying attention to his actions, and his flailing arm knocks his tea over. (I knew I should not have filled it up so full.)

“Oops! I didn’t mean to.” he tells me, as I jump up and start frantically moving things out-of-the-way before the spreading tea puddle can get to them.
“Quick!”, I shout, “Go get the paper towels!”
He intends to, but he is taking time, perfecting his dismount from the chair.
Go get the paper towels!”
He is still worried more about doing just the right kind of jump than his shouting mother.
“UGH!”, I sigh with frustration, and make my way to the kitchen to grab what I need, leaving the puddle still spreading on the table. I then make a totally uncool Mom move, when I blurt: “Why are you NEVER fast enough when I ask you to do something!?” I instantly regret these words of criticism, and take a deep inhale. “I’m sorry. I am not mad at you. I am only frustrated because you were not paying attention. I know it was an accident.”

I wipe up the huge spill (Really, why did I fill his mug so full?), he wanders back off to watch his show, and I take another deep breath. The tea missed my library book, and the basket of clean laundry that really should not have been on the table we eat at in the first place, and at least the dining room now smells like blueberries. Finally, I go put on a new pot of water to make him a fresh cup of tea before plopping back down to read more of my book.

Eventually, I will feel ready to get on with the day. I will get myself dressed, and some days, I even manage to convince him to change out of his pajamas too. I will load the dishwasher, and scratching even just one thing off my to-do list will make me feel accomplished. We will glue buttons onto cardboard together , or build a castle out of blocks. He will eventually demand lunch, and I will insist that he have some type of fruit or vegetable with it. He will mope that he just wants pickles and pretzels, and I will try to explain proper nutrition as I spread peanut butter. We will read a pile of picture books, or draw on the driveway with chalk. I will try to pick up clutter while he follows me around like a puppy, pretending to be a baby armadillo, or praying mantis, or whatever the animal/insect of the day is. He will constantly run in front of me, almost tripping me up, and I will silently wish that he would stop talking in a baby voice. At 2:30 I will excitedly announce that Daddy will be home soon, and start mentally counting down the minutes as I wait to hear his car pull into the drive. At this point, the afternoon shifts, and the second half of our day begins.

It took me a while to accept the fact that I am not a get-up-and-go, seize the day type of Mom. I was never that way before kids, so why should I expect it of myself now, when I am even more tired and more frequently overwhelmed? On the days that we do have to be out of the house early, I somehow manage to do what takes me hours on our days at home, in the span of 45 minutes. Those days I feel like Superwoman for getting us both fed, dressed, packed, and out the door and into the car. Somehow I even do my hair, put on makeup, and accessorize. I usually only do this twice a week, but somehow it seems like a humongous feat, despite the fact that I know other parents do the same thing every single week day. Then, our next day at home will arrive, and I will feel slow again, and in need of another long “thaw”. I cannot compare myself with those other 5-days-a-week parents, because their family has different needs, and they are different people.
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I am not entirely sure why I felt the need to record and to blog about our mornings. Perhaps it is because I know it will soon change, with the arrival of the new Baby. This post can be a little snapshot to look back on later, including the good and the imperfect, of what our relaxed routine was like with Mumma home and only one child. Perhaps it is a step in my continuing efforts to remain comfortable with my parenting style, and to be OK with who I am as a Mom. I am sure that I am not the only parent out there, who feels less than stellar first thing after waking up, and who might worry about how our being tired effects our abilities with our kids.

I think it is both.


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Packing for the Hospital

hospital 2

2010

As of two days ago, I am 35 weeks pregnant. This means that my estimated due date is in just over a month!!! Since I am working right up until the end, am already Mumma to an active 4-year-old, and we are still renovating our bedroom and getting the house in order, I know this last month is going to fly by. So, I am working on being more prepared for when the time comes.

Yesterday, I finished making a list of everything we will pack in our hospital bag. This way, as we get closer to the time, I can start to put some things in the bag, and scratch them off the list. I believe this will also make things so much easier, when labor begins, to have the list to look at for adding the final things, like toiletries, that can’t be packed up in advance.

So, in case it interests you, or helps other expecting parents to make their own list, I decided to share mine along with my comments about what I was glad we had last time, and what I wished we would have had. I might make last-minute tweaks in the weeks to come, but I really think this list will encompass everything we will need to be more comfortable for labor, delivery, and our stay afterward.

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FOR OUR HOSPITAL BAG:

Items for Labor:

~A copy of our birth plan. My midwife will have a copy, but I want to bring one with us just in case she is unavailable when I go into labor, to have for the staff on duty.

~Some soothing CD’s. When I had Simon we listened to Norah Jones and Zero 7. This time, I plan to bring Lisa Hannigan. Our hospital provides a CD player in each birth room.

~A picture of Simon, for motivation and smiles.

~Natural lollipops. The sour ones were comforting to me when I had pregnancy nausea, and if I want something during labor, but don’t feel like eating, these would be helpful.

~Mints or gum.

~A microwavable heating pad. I find mine soothing and relaxing when I am tired or sore. Alternately, if I want something cool on me, I can ask Jeramy or a nurse for a cool, wet cloth.

Clothing: Comfort is my number one concern here. I will be packing clothes to labor in, and clothes for afterward.

For labor:

~A nightgown. When I had Simon I was very glad that I bought my own nightgown for labor, rather than wearing the one the hospital provides. It was important to me to feel like a Mother giving birth, and not a medical patient. I still have that nightgown, and will be bringing it again this time. The nice thing about a gown is that when I was ready for pushing, it could just be pulled up out-of-the-way.

~Sweatpants. I wore sweatpants underneath my nightgown for most of the time, as I took walks in the halls, bounced on my birth ball, and went through most of early labor the first time around. At a certain point, I was able to just take the sweatpants off, to make it easier for my midwife to examine me, and obviously once it was time to push they would have been in the way.

~Cotton tank top. In case it is more comfortable than the nightgown for various labor positions.

~Bathing suit. This time I plan on trying to labor in the birthing tub, and a nightgown on top would just get in the way here. I have a large tankini top that I bought for pregnancy, and it is very comfortable.

For the rest of the time:

~Lounge or yoga pants, t-shirts, a loose, flowy cardigan, a hoodie…basically, pajamas that I do not mind wearing in the company of visitors. When I had Simon, it was May, and it looked beautiful out, but was actually very chilly. I ended up wishing I had packed more layers, and plan to give myself better choices this time.

~For the day we leave to go home, I will be bringing my maternity jeans and a loose top that makes me feel good to wear. We will likely want to take a family photo when we leave, and this will help me feel a bit more “normal”. (Since women still have a pregnancy belly for a while after having a Baby, there is no point trying to pack anything from pre-pregnancy, or that is too constricting.)

~Soft lounge socks to keep my feet warm.

~Flip-flops to slip on and off easily. (If Baby is going to have his or her hearing test, for example, I will want to go along.)

~A package of large underwear. I purchased an 8-pack of undies one size larger than I normally wear, and in a cut that gives more coverage. After you have a Baby you wear large pads for a while, and I want some undies that will accommodate these comfortably.

~Nursing tanks and bras. When I had Simon, the nurses helped me to change into one of my nursing tank tops right away and I attempted to breastfeed him. He was too sleepy, but those nursing tanks came in very handy while in the hospital, and for the rest of the time he was breastfed.

For Hubby: Pajamas, clean socks and underwear, flip-flops, a change of pants, something long-sleeved, and a few t-shirts. (The extra t-shirts are in case of Baby spit-up.)

Toiletries: Some people bring their own shampoos, bar of soap, even toilet paper. For me, some things are more important to have my own of than others. Here I am planning to bring what we need to cover the basics, and just use the hospital provided samples for the rest.

~Our toothbrushes and our own toothpaste. (I am picky about toothpaste.)

~Deodorant.

~Disposable face wash wipes for quick freshen-ups.

Extras for Me:

~A package of very large menstrual pads. The hospital provides some, but after the first day I preferred my own.

~Nursing pads.

~Nipple cream.

~Lip balm. Sometimes all of the deep breathing you do in labor can chap your lips.

~My makeup bag with a few basic items in it. It helped me feel more put-together, when I had Simon, to put on a bit of concealer, mascara, and blush before guests would arrive.

~Hairbrush, blow-dryer, and barrettes. I will be cutting my hair short before having Baby, so barrettes will help me pin back pieces from my face if I want. When I had Simon though, I brought hair elastics, because I had long hair then.

~My glasses case. (I definitely won’t want to be wearing my glasses the whole time.)

Snacks:  Our hospital puts no restriction on eating and drinking during labor, and if things take a while I want to have some snacks on hand, both during early labor, and for the rest of our stay. The hospital keeps crackers and peanut butter, pudding, and bananas available, but there are some things I will be adding to our suitcase to satisfy any likely cravings.

~Dark chocolate.

~Something salty and crunchy, such as roasted salted almonds or russet potato chips.

~Seltzer.

~Lara bars.

~Annies Microwaveable Mac&Cheese bowls. A friend suggested these to me when I was telling her about Simon’s birth and how the only food I had packed were a few granola bars, but I ended up craving savory things. These are a hot meal that can be easily tossed into the suitcase without worry about refrigeration.

We will likely get takeout at some point too, but having some things on hand to fill in the gaps will be a good idea, especially if we are awake at night when the hospital cafeteria and local restaurants are closed.

For Baby:

~A few outfits. When Simon was born we were shocked to have a 5 lb. 13 oz. baby who was so tiny he swam in the newborn sizes that I had packed. The hospital loaned us some slightly smaller outfits, and then my Mother-in-law went to the store for some preemie sized clothes. This time around I will be bringing some clothes in both preemie and newborn to cover the bases. Keeping it as simple as possible, I will bring a few onesies, some sleeper gowns or footie pajamas, little mitts, and a soft cap. For the day we leave I will select an outfit with a little sweater and soft pants to layer over a onesie, so that Baby can be easily buckled into the car seat.

~A snuggly blanket. The hospital has swaddling blankets for while we are there, but it will be good to have a warmer one for tucking over the baby in the car seat for the ride home.

~Nursing pillow for breastfeeding.

Other:

~Camera with charger and memory card.

~Chargers for our cell phones so that we can send a first picture of the baby and announce the big news.

~An empty tote bag. The hospital gives new parents packets of information, board books to start Baby’s library, after care items for Mumma, a small baby tub, some care items for Baby, a few diapers, and a manual breast pump. Visitors also sometimes bring gifts. Having an extra bag to bring everything home in is very helpful.

~A special big-brother gift for Simon.

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This may seem like a lot of stuff, but it will all fit easily into our one suitcase. Every family has different needs and wants, so my list might not work for you. I recommend asking what your hospital or birth center provides, and reading lists online or asking friends what they recommend.

 


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It Is Getting More Real…

pregnant black and white

I am 32 weeks pregnant now. Only 8-ish weeks to go. I have been feeling baby kicks for months, and yet, last night, as Jeramy and I sat on the couch together and Baby started up the nightly internal parkour routine, I exclaimed: “There is a Baby in there! We are having a Baby!”

“I know.” he replied, and we both smiled.

As we are now well into the third trimester, and we begin writing our list of things to pack for the hospital, and working out the details of our birth plan, it is all getting to be…real. Despite the insomnia, soreness, and fatigue I have been experiencing, the excitement is really kicking in too. These last two months will be over before we know it, and we will soon get to meet our child. I try to remind myself every day that this is the last child we are planning to have, so this is my last chance to experience how incredible it is to feel those movements and kicks inside. To anticipate the arrival of this new member of our family. To daydream about what our child will be like, and who they will become.

We still have a lot to prepare before Baby’s arrival. We are renovating the downstairs bedroom, and in the meantime we are sleeping on our mattress on the floor, surrounded by boxes that are waiting to be unpacked from when we moved in. We need to purchase our co-sleeper, a breast pump, and a few other items. We have just begun stocking the freezer so that we will not have to cook when we are too sleep deprived. But, day by day we are more prepared for this big change in our lives.

In a recent conversation with a friend who is also pregnant, she mentioned how adorably foldy new babies’ legs are. I actually squealed out loud with excitement remembering this, and remembering other things about what newborns are like. When Simon was born, I marveled at the way his tiny feet still folded against his legs. At how small fingernails can actually be. At the way he would look into my eyes and know me, right from the first time I ever held him.

It is hitting me now, the excitement of it all. The reality. We are going to have a Baby!

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