Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photo Friday: Orange

Here are some orange scenes from our October:

Jo at the pumpkin farm:

The newly-opened playground, across the street from our new home:

The new playground:

Cho in the leaves:

Sunday, August 01, 2010

More Healing

I showed Jo my scar today.

I didn't plan to show him. Honestly, I never thought about discussing the facts of Cho's birth with Jo. I had fantasized about the ways in which he would be part of her birth story, obsessed endlessly about how much of early labor to keep him around for, dreamed of him running into our bedroom to meet his baby sister (just as I did almost 33 years ago). I've thought a lot about how to tell Cho her birth story. But I never really thought about what Jo might need to know.

He's going through a phase where he wants to be carried all the time. Even if we have his stroller, he'll demand "Carry me!" Yesterday he, Cho and I had plans to meet friends at a cafe that's a ten-minute walk from our new apartment. Jo wanted to bring his scooter, so I let him. That was a mistake: Jo rocks his scooter, but he does not always actually want to rock his scooter, and it inevitably ends up having to be carried. So half a block into our journey, Jo said -- you guessed it -- "Carry me!" As in, carry him in addition his scooter and Cho in the Ergo. I tried, but I literally couldn't do it. That much weight gave my scar an awful pulling feeling that I couldn't bear.

Jo did what any toddler worth his salt would do: he lay down spread-eagled on the pavement and refused to move. I begged and pleaded and cajoled and promised a cookie and then, finally, I said, "Jo, I really want to carry you, but I can't. Mama has a boo-boo and I can't carry you."

He looked up and said, "Where?" I pointed to my belly and he said, "See it!" I promised I would show him "inside" (you're welcome, neighborhood). Then he agreed to stand on the scooter while I pulled him.

So tonight during his bath, I showed him the scar. He cocked his head, pointed to the line and said, "Right there!" Then he tickled me.

I love that little boy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I went to parent-baby yoga today with Cho. There's a particular teacher at the Y who I really like. She gives shoulder massages at the end, sometimes with lavender oil. It's a moment of the sort of nurturing I imagined labor might bring.

She also gave me some tips about how to strengthen my abdominal muscles. When I first tried to do plank pose, seven weeks out, I felt a flash of pain and dropped to my knees in frustration at the reminder of my failure. I tried to turn that pain around: that's the scar that saved my life and my daughter's.

The pain from that slit through my middle has all but disappeared, but it jumps from the shadows at the oddest times: when I'm closing a window. Who knew you used abdominal muscles to close a window? And it itches in this heat.

When I was pregnant, no one ever gave me a seat on the subway, because all the way through the morning I delivered, I just didn't look it. Now I carry baby Cho more visibly, snuggled against my chest (so close to where she was!) and people trip over each other offering me a seat. Honestly, I don't need one now the way I needed it then. But like the lavender massage, it's a healing moment.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Photo Friday: Pets

I hardly need an excuse to post pictures of Maggie, the wonder-dachshund. She is in the avatar I use when I post a comment from this account. She is my sidekick, my best buddy, my oldest child.

I adopted her from "the pound" here in the Big Apple when she was 6 months old and I was 22. 13 years later, she's living in her fourth Brooklyn apartment and putting up with being big sis to two humans. She's a trooper and I adore her.

Here she is with her new baby sister Cho.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Photo Friday: Desk

I wasn't sure if I was going to participate in this one, because while I have a desk, I never sit at it. Really. Never. (Cait over at AddProb accurately I deposit piles of crap on it; I use the chair to lay out my clothes for the next day; I use the drawers for my files; but actually work at it? Never. I have had a desk since I was 8 or 9 years old and my parents presented me with my father's childhood desk. And I have always used it the same way.

We are finally moving in a few weeks (you may remember that we had an offer accepted on a bigger October; but that's another post) and I am finally admitting that, like Cait over at AddProb, I am just not a desk person. I'm getting a drawer unit from I.kea and using the lap desk Co got me for Chrismukah.

So here, without further ado, is the place where I blog, where I am in fact sitting right now. That's my side of the futon. You can see my in the lower right-hand corner of the photo.

Queen of the Futon

Friday, April 23, 2010

Photo Friday: Blue Jeans

I know, I know, feast or famine.

I was excited that Calliope resurrected Photo Friday, and I'm finally getting it together to jump in.

This photo was taken last spring, just about a year before Cho was born. Who knew where a year could take us? That's Jo in his first pair of walking shoes. (And that's me, with my head cropped off.)

Notes on Cho

Our baby girl turned six weeks old yesterday. Hard to believe!

Here she is on her first restaurant outing, last week.

In the past week, she's become much more alert. We've seen her first social smiles and she has begun to vocalize. She has incredible head control, like her big brother did at her age. She also has incredible hand control, and is already reaching for the toys on her playmat and bouncy chair, much younger than Jo did.

She's rocking the tummy time, too. Co decided that she needed an 80s power woman for her anthem -- we sang Jo our version of Eye of the Tiger while he did tummy time -- and we settled on Pat Benatar's Invincible.

She looks like me, and like her brother, and she is amazing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


(I started this post on Cho's 4 week birthday -- April 8 -- and I'm finishing it on her five week birthday.)

Today is Cho's 4 week birthday. Yesterday she went to the pediatrician and was declared healthy at 7 lbs, 4 oz. and 20 inches long.

But this post is about me, and the journey I've been on over the past four (now five) weeks. I mean that metaphorically, of course; thanks to the abdominal surgery and the breastfeeding, the vast majority of my time has been spent wearing a dent in the futon and watching Gol.den Gi.rls reruns. (Did you know it's on practically all night? And when it's not, La.w & O.rder is...) I've never had any type of surgery before, so I'm surprised and frustrated that I still have mild pain, and am not back to myself in terms of walking or lifting. I've always thought of myself as a couch potato (see: G.olden Gi.rls above) but I am surprisingly frustrated by my limitations. Earlier this week I walked ten blocks to meet a friend and it turned out to be overdoing it. I hate feeling that helpless.

In the hours immediately after the C-section, I felt like I didn't know who I was. I've always been a robustly healthy person and this was my first experience with the medical establishment around my own health. (My mental health is another story, but I've always been able to rely on my physical self.) I'd never been admitted to a hospital and I wasn't even born in one. Now here I was, post-surgery, a newly minted Cesarean statistic. I didn't recognize myself in that scenario. I had the powerful sense that I had let down the natural birth community that had supported me through my pregnancy, and prepared me so lovingly for a labor I never got to experience. I tried desperately to figure out what I could have done to cause the crisis with the placenta. The nurses told me that evening that I would be getting up and walking around the next day, and I felt that I never wanted to get out of bed again. Then the next day they started talking about how I had to take a shower, and I didn't want to do that either. I stayed in the same pair of socks from Thursday through Saturday, which horrifies me now, but at the time, I just didn't want to move.

At first I cried every time I had to talk about Cho's birth: in the hospital when a nurse asked if my delivery was "normal or Cesarean," when the pediatrician and the lactation consultant asked about the delivery, when I filled out my disability form, again with the "normal or Cesarean." I thought it was cruel that the hospital had maternity and labor and delivery on the same ward, because I had to see women in good old normal labor walking the hallways. I dreaded sharing the news of the birth, especially to people like our doula and childbirth educator, because I felt so strongly that I had failed, both myself and all of them.

Then one day when Cho was a week and a half old, someone asked me about her birth, and I just said, "Well, she's here." And I didn't cry.

Now, five weeks later, I feel some peace with Cho's birth. No, it's not what I planned. I will always feel some sadness that I never experienced labor or vaginal birth. But I've been able to integrate the event with the rest of who I am. At first I felt like the moment I started bleeding, I was jolted into a different world, even a different self. I felt like my body had let us down and so all of the loving, natural, holistic plans I had were for naught. But it turned out there was more continuity than not. Our midwife still came to the house -- she took out my staples on our futon -- and checked in with me by phone every day. Our childbirth educator has offered to meet with me to help heal some of the trauma of the birth. Our doula came over for the post-natal visit and did some post-partum hours.

My body comforted me by kicking back into recognizable gear. The nurses at the hospital were impressed with my mobility, as well as how quickly I was able to perform, um, some of the post-op requirements. The midwife is pleased with rapidly the incision is healing. My milk came in fast and prodigiously, and breastfeeding has been going well. Not flawlessly but well enough. And that feels good, too; at least this part of my plan is going the way I wanted it to. I know it doesn't for everyone, and that is a trauma and scar of its own, so I am grateful that at least my body is performing as expected in this way.

It has taken me a long time to be willing to look at my scar. It's not easy for me to see -- finally, a use for the fat roll! -- and for weeks I wouldn't look at it. I made Co check for signs of infection. I never saw it with the staples, which I found very painful, and the idea of which horrified me. A few days ago I finally took a peek. It's not so bad. Parts of it are still angry and red for now, but I can already see the edges where it fades into the rest of my skin.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Cho's Birth

So this isn't exactly Cho's birth story. I need to create a version of her story that will be fit for her to read and treasure. This version is my story.

I went to work on Thursday morning, March 11. My plan was for my last day of work to be Friday, March 19, which I figured would be well in advance of the birth. My due date was March 22; first babies are usually late; my sister and I were both born "late"; not that it matters, but Jo was a week past his due date.

It is important to note that I work an hour from home, and in a different state. At about 10am, while I was reading a chapter of our class novel to the seventh graders, I felt some uncomfortable cramping, like mild period cramps. At 10:30 -- I know it was 10:30 because that's my break, so I went to the bathroom -- I started bleeding; as in "stuck pig," not as in "spotting" or "bloody show."

I stumbled to the nurse's office, called the midwife and called Co. The midwife asked how much blood -- was it a tablespoon or a quarter cup? I waffled, but in retrospect the answer was definitely in the quarter-cup range. She recommended I get to the nearest E.R. (and that, folks, is how I found out that the town I work in owns one ambulance. They had to send one from another town, so two local police officers were dispatched to check on me in the meantime; they both assured me they'd delivered babies before).

From the time the blood started I was pretty sure things were going south, even at the same time as I wondered if I could get enough paper towels in my pants to make it back to the classroom. Sure enough, when I got to L & D they immediately started talking about "getting the baby out." The doctor on call told me they believed I had a placental abruption, which is when the placenta tears away from the uterine wall. It's extremely dangerous for the baby, because she could have lost access to oxygen; and for the mother, because of the bleeding (placental abruption is a major way women died in childbirth before C-sections). By the time I said okay to the section, I had lost I believe 500 cc of blood, which according to my midwife is as much as a woman should lose over the course of labor.

The baby's heart rate was stable when I arrived but then started to get higher, which kicked everyone into high gear. I asked if I could at least wait for Co to get there (she came ASAP but remember...I work an hour from home) and the doctor said the baby was in distress. I was frightened because I am educated enough to be cynical; hospitals always say that. But I spoke to the midwife and she told me a C-section was the best thing to do, and now was the time to do it.

The anesthiologist had trouble finding the right place in my spine for the epidural thingy (what the eff does it mean to curl your back like an angry cat??? I have a dachshund) and they were threatening general anesthesia, which terrified me. But she eventually got it in. Cho was born at 12:29 p.m. Co arrived minutes later, and she carried the baby over to me. (I couldn't see anything over the screen, I couldn't see Cho as she was taken out or whisked over to be "cleaned up.") Co and I both marveled at how much newborn Cho looked like newborn Jo!

Co has been having a hard time about not getting there "in time," which I totally understand, but we met our daughter together.

And Cho was absolutely fine. She screamed lustily -- much louder than Jo -- and both of her Apgars were 9. She was 6 lb, 13 oz (which in my bio family is a big baby; I was 4lb 14 oz and I was post-term).

While they were stitching me up, I did make sure they double-stitched my uterus. At least I used Ina May for something.

The hospital sucked. That's why I wanted a home birth. They accused us of "starving the baby" (because we fed her expressed breastmilk without offering her formula "to see if she wanted it" and said that they were concerned about what a "big baby" she was because the pediatrician was wrong about her gestational age (thinking she was premature; she was 38weeks 3 days). One nurse said she had "never heard a baby cry like that." Really??? I have and I only have two kids.

So Co nursed her and pumped (I pumped too and my milk did come in in before we left the hospital on Sunday), so she wouldn't lose too much weight. The nurses saw the bottles and were all impressed that my milk had come in on, like, the day of delivery. Our lactation consultant loved the story and was amused that the nurses couldn't tell the difference between Co's mature milk and my new milk. We syringe-fed her the milk (suggested by the LC with Jo) until the nurses sicced a ped. on us to say he knew we might have "read about that on the Internet" but nipple confusion is all a myth and the syringe would make the baby choke. They gave us some nipples that luckily fit on our Medela bottles (they seemed unsure if they had any bottles that weren't pre-filled with formula). Meanwhile, the hospital video about baby care included a breastfeeding section that encouraged exclusive breastfeeding and -- I couldn't make this stuff up -- syringe feeding of expressed milk to avoid nipple confusion.

Cho is three weeks old today and doing beautifully. She's nursing round the clock and gaining weight.

My own journey in the past three weeks is definitely another post, which I hope to write soon (sooner if I can get the hang of "nursing at keyboard".....).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beautiful Daughter

Our daughter was born on March 11, at 12:29 p.m. She was 6 lbs 13 oz, 19 inches long, and absolutely perfect. She screamed louder than her brother, and looked just like him at birth.

Her arrival was dramatic and I will share more in the coming days, but the important end result is that we are both fine.

Her blog name is a little complicated to explain. The rest of us (Lo, Co, Jo) simply use our initials. Our little girl's initials, however, are the same as mine. So we've settled on Cho, because the other consonant sound in her name is a "ch." I know. Confusing. (Feel free to email if you're curious about her name; I am happy to share, I just don't want it posted publicly.)

And now, what you've really been waiting for:

Looking like Jo:

Eyes open:


Friday, February 26, 2010

Skulking Back

I've let the blog go so long that now guilt and anxiety are interfering with posting. So I am going to acknowledge that, dispense with it, and move on. Because I really want to be writing here.

Since finding out that our little Bobbie is a girl (explanation for the Bobbie nickname is in this post of Co's) we haven't had all that much big news. I hate bulleted update posts, and I hope to return often enough so that I don't have to do them, but for now:

*I went back for a second scan of Bobbie's heart, and she's fine.

*Our big plans to have executed our move to a bigger apartment by the time Bobbie was born? Ha. We're still slogging along waiting for news from the coop board. We've figured out interim plans, and plans B, C, and D for if we don't get the apartment, so we'll be okay. But there were some tense days in there, let me tell you.

*Bobbie is, we hope, going to be born at home. That wasn't the original plan -- our midwife delivers at a hospital, but she started attending home births sooner than she'd planned. I am really, really happy/relieved with this change. I adore our midwife and initially made the choice to stay with her rather than pursue a home birth, but just as I was starting to feel some anxiety about delivering in a hospital, I discovered that home birth was an option. (My sister and I were both born at home so it feels like a logical/natural choice to me.)

*And, uh, this isn't really news, since the ticker is right at the top of the page staring us all in the face, but apparently Bobbie is coming soon. I'm in some denial about that and feeling eager to finish winding up my affairs at work, and nesting at home, so that I feel ready. But I suspect you never really feel ready for number two.

*Last but never least, Jo continues to be an absolute delight. At two, he is talking and singing and climbing and doing gymnastics all over the place. Here's a quick look:

Loving the snow (today was actually one of THREE snow days my school has had so far; good thing I don't care about those extra days in June....):

Rocking out at a friend's birthday party:

Awake at midnight to welcome the new decade, oh our little party animal: