Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Falling Leave

November 20, 2009

When I was 15 and learning to drive, I announced to my father that I’d probably just always go five miles under the speed limit, to be on the safe side.

I have a history of making pronouncements that in no way end up resembling reality.

Which explains why, eight weeks ago, I announced in conversation that I was looking forward to returning to work because “I think it’s important for me to still maintain the career aspect of my life.” Eight weeks ago I was still recovering from being gobsmacked by the whole process of childbirth and stay-at-home mothering. Breastfeeding still hurt some of the time and didn’t work particularly well a lot of the time. I couldn’t always identify why she was crying. I would clock-watch, counting the minutes until my husband walked through the door.

Now I’m clock-watching, willing it to stop. It’s my last day of maternity leave.

I’ve spent the past week reflecting on my time with my little buddy. How, together, we watched summer melt into fall and now turn to Christmas. How I learned that she loves to move, so we’d stroll at least two or three miles a day — to the White House, to Dupont Circle, to the zoo to visit the tiger and the lion. How she does this eyebrows-raise, eyelids-stay-closed thing when she’s sleeping and the breeze hits her face. How she thinks nobody sings Adele’s “Melt My Heart to Stone” better than me. How two hours of wailing are negated by two seconds of giggling.

She’ll only be a block away from me when I’m at work and she’s at daycare. The women there are loving and gentle — the best for which you can hope when you’re handing over your tiny daughter and silently praying, “Please have as much fun with her as I did.”

I’m sure that after the initial days and weeks pass, having to hand her over will get easier.

I have a history of making pronouncements that in no way end up resembling reality.

Size Matters

November 8, 2009

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How is it possible that there is already a clear plastic trunk labeled “Newborn – 2 Months” containing tiny clothes that Sabine has outgrown? Inside, piles of folded dresses, sun bonnets, newborn blankets, and jammies that fit one day and the next looked like her feet were about to Hulk right through the bottom.

How is the need to sort and cull and stow possible when she just got here?

But she didn’t just get here. It was three months ago. Summer’s gone and the spaghetti-strap romper no bigger than a washcloth is in storage and the larger polar fleece hoodie has come into heavy rotation. I must confess to sniffling a bit when folding up the outfits that will forever be burned into my brain as The First Things Our Baby Ever Wore — the strawberry onesie with the fanny ruffles that she wore home from the hospital, the pink linen dress that was the first item I purchased after learning it was a girl. These are the things she wore when she lay there watching us watching her, all of us trying to figure this new arrangement out.

It’s a good sign though, all this sorting. It means she’s growing and healthy. It means we’ve got three months under our belts. The plastic trunk went down into our storage area this evening. I don’t know if we’ll ever need it again but I do know we’ll never get rid of it.

Weight Watchers

October 5, 2009
what-to-eat-during-pregnancyOh whatever.

It’s become something of a pastime for women in Starbucks to tell me I’m a terrible mother. I mean, at least that’s the way I’m interpreting the comments. Last week I had three separate women at three separate Starbucks remark on the baby’s size then follow it quickly with a variation on the first one’s statement: “Guess you must have eaten whatever you wanted while you were pregnant.”

When the first one said it I was mortified and almost snorted my iced decaf skim (that’s right, lady, SKIM!) latte all over her. By the time the third one was blathering at me like Dr. Oz later that week I was trending toward an inner eyeroll and a “Yeah, I used to eat butter straight out of the tub with a spoon.” (For the record, the baby is perfectly proportioned, according to her doctor.) (Oh and also for the record I was at Starbucks three times in the past week because when you’re a new parent Starbucks becomes your outpost, allowing for interaction with the outside world, yet not requiring the commitment of sitting down at a table with a menu and a waitress and surrounding customers who will be annoyed if your baby screams and you don’t leave immediately.)

Now, longtime readers of the Bird blog trilogy know — thanks to a smattering of bordering-on-WASPy-in-their-vagueness references — that I have had a somewhat complex relationship with food and body image in the past. (Booyah! Did it again!) Suffice it to say, the funhouse mirror reflection into which pregnancy converts one’s body has been difficult at times. Specifically, at times when blabby ladies of a certain age are implying my Cadbury Creme Eggs are coming home to roost.

And while there is a measure of temptation to do my best neck circle and finger wave and Jerry Springer-stage-ready “You don’t know me!” I am instead realizing in these last few days that I need simply to add this to the list of boneheaded intrusions new mothers must suffer. Sort of makes me nostalgic for the days when it was just an unauthorized belly pat. Also makes me feel for that chick in China who just gave birth to a 13.75-pound baby. The comments she must be getting. Hopefully she’s just thinking, “Yeah, I used to eat red bean paste straight out of the tub with chopsticks,” and rolling her eyes.

Hello, Baby

September 17, 2009

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It was 2:30 in the morning and my husband and I were driving over D.C.’s silenced streets, bound for the hospital. The only sound from outside my open window was the truck’s engine and the ambient noise of the humid summer night. Inside it was just Wolfmother’s “Vagabond” coming from the stereo because we were both quiet, processing what was unfolding. As we drove past the monuments they glowed under the moon.

It had been a dyslexic version of the classic scene that night. Instead of waking with a start and calling the hospital, we were awoken by the hospital calling us at 1 in the morning to tell us we could come in. With the baby deciding to hang out for an extra week, I was supposed to be induced on a Wednesday. With every baby in the D.C. metro area deciding to be born on that particular Wednesday I was delayed until Thursday morning. “We’ll call you when a delivery room frees up,” the nurse had said Wednesday evening as the wait dragged on.

Finally, at 3 a.m. on Thursday we settled into our delivery room. It was dim and cozy and we reveled, albeit sleepily, in what we knew now were the waning hours of quiet in our lives. The last of You and I.

As it turns out, there would be more of those hours than we expected. An early induction drug did nothing, necessitating the high-octane juice later that morning. With that came an epidural. (Gotta love a process that makes you actually ask a doctor to stick a needle in your spinal cord.) And then came…nothing. Over the next 16+ hours things progressed only so far and that wasn’t far enough.

Around 8:30 that night the baby played her high card. Through the epidural that kept me from feeling contractions so strong the monitor printout read like the screen of a treadmill set to “Alpine Adventure”, I felt her kicking. Like crazy. “That was odd,” I thought. A minute later the doctor and a nurse came hustling in the room and asked if I’d felt the baby moving. Shayeah. The baby’s heart rate was dropping at the same time that her sudden activity indicated some sort of distress, the doctor said. It was time to consider that a c-section was likely necessary.

Up until this point the best word to describe labor would be boring. Too drugged by the epidural to get out of bed. Too overwhelmed by the experience to read or do a crossword puzzle. Clockwatching becomes the pastime. When the doctor starts talking emergency c-section it becomes un-boring. It becomes terrifying. When she asked what my feelings were about having the procedure I said, “I do not care about the type of birth. Just get the baby out now.”

The minutes that followed were the cliched blur: husband getting into scrubs, me telling him to follow the baby and not me after she came out, me telling him to save the baby and not me if something went wrong, me telling him not to remarry or I’d haunt him if something went wrong, anesthesiologist asking questions, residents who looked like they were 18 introducing themselves, wheeling to the operating room, staring up at the glaring lights, arms strapped out on both sides, “Can you feel this?” and through it all, uncontrollable shaking due to the nerves or the anesthesia or both. “Stop shaking or you’ll screw them up,” I told myself. Also through it all: my husband’s head right next to me, eyes locked on mine, whispering to me through his mask.

At 9:42, our baby came into the world. You and I became The Three of Us.

Because of something hinky that had happened when my water broke earlier that day I’d expected there would be problems at her birth. I didn’t expect to hear her cry. I’d spent the afternoon preparing myself for the likelihood that there would be initial respiratory problems and that silence would likely mark her arrival. But at 9:42,  through my anesthetized haze, I heard her cry. Loudly. Sustained. This baby was peeved.

With good reason as it turns out. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Because of her ample carriage she’d been jammed in with little to no chance of moving. One side of her face initially showed the signs of being smushed. Her check-out of the Hotel Tummyington had not gone smoothly. A stern letter to the management was in order.

Luckily, in the days that followed she agreed to forgive us. Because she is perfectly lovely.

Angel

Pony Express

August 6, 2009

Pony

My voicemail to Daddy O: “Hi Dad, it’s me. I promised the baby that you would buy her pony if she came today. Sooo, um, yeah…you’re going to need to buy her a pony.”

Daddy O voicemail in return: “No problem. What color?”

As of yet, the baby does not appear to be buying it…

BumpWatch! Week 39: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

July 30, 2009

Has it been 39 weeks already? It seems like only 153. I thought we’d step in the wayback machine and review the little nipper’s growth since November, as measured in visible belly girth.

Week 19
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I was initially reluctant to take these photos. Hence, the running-from-the- camera blur. The good thing about the blur though is that it gives a good approximation of the nauseating haze one is in for the first 18 weeks of a pregnancy.

Week 23
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One too many Frappuccinos or pregnant? You make the call, passersby.

Week 27
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A BumpWatch! favorite.

Week 28
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At our friends’ nuptials in Florida, my husband begins a tradition of pointing to the bump to announce its presence. Or as I call it, gilding the chunky little lily.

Week 31
In retrospect, the wheels were coming off the good judgment trolley at this point.

Week 33
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Back to being fully covered, I figured I’d stand in front of my prim and proper collection of Nana-inherited china to try to class things up a bit after the Week 31 YouTube debacle.

Week 38
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Just last week. But in that week the baby added an inch to my stomach assuring that I would lose no rights to my J-appointed nickname, Preggers von Tummyington.

And here we are at Week 39, post- this morning’s walk.IMG_1378
Dog: “Am I the only one who notices that she’s gotten reeeeally heavy since November for some reason? I mean, is anyone going to say anything to her?”

Hopefully this will be the last BumpWatch for this wacky gestational journey. I’d prefer the next photo be “BabyWatch!: Week 1.”

Mommies and Me

July 30, 2009

BabyCupcakeHistorically, my luck with social gatherings of unfamiliar females has not been good. Example: when I moved to West Palm Beach I connected with my sorority’s alumnae chapter there hoping to meet some friendly beach buddies. My first (and last) outing with them was a brunch where, upon learning I was an education reporter, one of them informed me, “the problem with the schools here is that the blacks don’t care about anything but sports and band,” while the others nodded their assent as they sipped their mimosas.

After a couple decades of similar disappointments, I approach such gatherings with trepidation now. But a few nights ago I steeled myself and headed to a post-work gathering of expectant D.C. moms. Add in that the D.C. Urban Moms listserv, from whence this group sprang, is populated with more than its share of Snippy Sallies and you realize how additionally fraught with peril this outing was. But there were too many lures to resist, namely, the opportunity to swap information with women in my same delicate condition and cupcakes. (Note to organizers: you could hold a Young Prospective Scientologists meeting at Hello Cupcake and I’d likely attend.)

After a few minutes of conversation and a few bites of my “You Tart!” lemon selection it became apparent that my streak was snapped. The other ladies all seemed lovely, intelligent, similarly nervous and excited, and nobody was being foofy about chowing on their cupcakes. Highlights included hearing about the mother of one of the attendees taking the attendee’s sonogram to a sonographer to have him tell her if it was a boy or a girl after the couple opted not to share the gender. Also, the chick whose husband issued an emphatic warning before she left for the meet-up that she should be careful because there might be guys lurking who just troll around for pregnant women gatherings. There was laughter, there were business cards exchanged, there was genuine well wishing.

All in all, a successful gathering. Even without the cupcake.

May The Force Be With You…Or You’re Totally Screwed in the Teen Years

July 21, 2009

I was ushered into a room I’ve never been in before at the baby doctor office today. One of the doctors is quite the Star Wars fan and has loaded this small room with paraphernalia from the Lucas movies, including the prominent display on the wall directly across from the table of this Star Wars: Episode I poster.

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I don’t ask for much when it comes to decor in a treatment room. Maybe a van Gogh “Starry Night” print or a pharmaceutical calendar. Heck, I’d even take one of those nauseating Anne Geddes baby-as-mung bean photographs.

What I’d love not to see is a relentlessly creepy image depicting the potential for unmitigated, throat-crushing future evil within a child raised improperly. ‘Cuz that’s totally what this poster is about. Is this the doctor’s sly way of warning us that we better not slack on bedtimes or our kid is going to end up building a Death Star? One too many cookies and suddenly she’s devoting her days to destroying the Rebel Alliance?

Why not just get right to the point and hang this up?:stewievader

The first time my daughter sasses me by saying “Don’t fail me again, Mother,” I’m marching her right back to the doctor and demanding an explanation.

Good to Know

July 21, 2009

Heartburn
It’s 2:15 a.m. I can now report that you can be awoken by heartburn. Glad I can cross this off my bucket list.

Crib Notes

July 13, 2009

Finally we put the finishing touches on the baby’s room. It’s not easy when one’s vision for decorating a nursery isn’t “duckies!” or “fishies!” but instead is “vintage upscale zoo.” Yeah, I know. That sentence makes me want to sock me in the nose. But that’s what I’ve had in my head while trying to put the room together. Which meant not being able to open the Pottery Barn Kids catalogue and point to room. Instead we found the dresser in an antique shop, the chandelier online, the rug from Home Depot, and so forth. Here are the results:

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The little pieces of wood art below were painted by my father for me when I was a tot and they hung in my room as I grew up. When I found out I was pregnant I asked about them but they were missing. A few weeks ago, my father found them out in the loft of the backyard playhouse he built for me (Seeing a theme here? My father = awesome.) Also pitching in, my mother whipped up the printed curtain tiebacks using one of the extra sheets that we received for the crib. Voila!

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We hope the baby is just as happy in her room as we are standing in the doorway giggling at the finished product. That’s right, we doorway giggle. Vintage upscale zoos tend to have that effect it seems.

UPDATE: I’ve gotten requests for more info on the decor in the room, so here are the details. Tell ’em Baby Bird sent you.
Chandelier: Murano Venetian Style by Gallery803
Wallpaper mural: by Komar via AmericanBlinds. As you’ll see, we ended up cutting the top 1/4 off and putting it on the bottom to allow for maximum animal visibility above the top edge of the bed. Worked perfectly because the blue sky ends up looking like a lake at the bottom. Because it was about 8″ too narrow on either side to fit within the molding, we finished the remaining area with the contrasting pink paint.
Crib sheet: Lily Collection by Target
Curtain tiebacks: Used an extra Lily Collection sheet
Dresser: antique, Lucy and Ethel’s in Savage Mill, Maryland
Monkey trashcan, used as storage: Circo at Target
Bamboo storage baskets: Richards Homewares by Target
Crib: DaVinci Jenny Lind via Amazon
Comforter and pillow shams: Company C
Stone khaki curtains: had those in storage from a previous apartment. No idea where I got them. Bed Bath & Beyond maybe? But it was about eight years ago.
Pink accent paint: True Value on 17th. Love these guys! Will have to confirm specific paint color later…
Green paint: Ditto on confirming color name later, as well as store. Was already on the walls when we bought the joint.
Rug: “Aviara” by Mowhak Home at The Home Depot