17 November 2019

vision v. reality

I'm not sure what I thought having a baby would be like, beyond lots of adorable snuggles and, sure, some sleep deprivation at the beginning. I've done a lot of babysitting. I have a sister who is almost eight years younger than me. I've been around some babies, is what I'm saying.

I think I envisioned a nice cosleeper attached to the bed where the baby would sleep quietly until he needed to nurse, and then I would pull him out and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, and then put him back, where he would sleep quietly again, satisfied.

We do not, I should note, have a cosleeper attached to the bed, so I'm not sure how my vague mental image could possibly have become reality. 

We did have a bassinet that swiveled, so you could move it practically above the bed, and the side pressed down, so I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed.

I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, that is, if I did not have a C-section, which I had, so I did not have the core strength to turn and lift him.

I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, that is, if he was any good at latching in his early days, which he was not, and I needed a light to see what he was doing and had to sit up with the nursing pillow to get him in exactly the right spot. 

I could pull the baby out that way and sweetly let him nurse while I stayed in bed, that is, if nursing was enough to keep him fed, which it was not, thanks to my biology or his latch or the massive amounts of synthetic oxytocin they gave me after the birth to keep my uterus from staying full of blood that it was not ejecting, so he had to be supplemented with a bottle after every feeding, and he hated and fought the bottle. (Still does! Still hates the bottle! Even though most of his calories come via the bottle!)

So the first three months were an endless cycle of waking up to a screaming baby (this one ramps up fast), nursing for 20-30 min to try to build my supply, giving the baby a bottle (resulting in screaming), and then attempting to get the now-wide  awake baby back to sleep. It took about an hour and a half, and then he woke up an hour and a half later.

I keep expecting it to get easier - it seems to have gotten easier for most parents with babies his age - and it has gotten easier, but it also sort of hasn't. He still doesn't sleep longer than maaaaaybe a 4-5 hour stretch at the beginning of the night, and then needs comforting at least once an hour after that, unless I pull him into bed with me and let him nurse as much as he wants the rest of the night. He naps about 45 min at a time, and only recently is that anywhere but in my arms. He knows what he needs, which is his mom or his dad, and he will scream until he gets that, day or night. 

I keep joking that I should have screened the guys I dated for how they slept as babies, because I didn't sleep through the night until I was 9 months old... and J. not until he was two years old. Who knows how long this kid will need?




When people meet him now, they say, "He's the happiest baby!" And it's true. When this baby is happy, he is the happiest being on the planet. He loves people. He loves new faces. He loves new places. He loves the dog. Just keep him entertained, and he's the happiest baby. 

Of course, when he's mad, he's the maddest being on the planet. You've never seen such a mad face in your entire life. It's all or nothing with this one.  

10 November 2019

The Great Poopsplosion of 2019

J. and I got a babysitter yesterday so that we could attend a couple of functions without a cranky baby. (Totally destroying my dreams of taking a chill baby with me everywhere, this baby has been intense ever since he was born: he is either very happy or very mad, sometimes within seconds of each other, and he does not believe that sleeping is worth doing). When we came home, the baby was happily sleeping in his space in our room, which lasted about 30 min, as if he knew we were home. That was fine - I needed to nurse him anyway - but it did not bode well for the rest of the night.

After approximately three resettlings necessitating rocking his little butt to get him back to sleep, he started acting more upset around 12:45 am, and I picked him up and sniffed him. Something smelled odd. Something smelled poopy, but not like normal baby poop.

This kid started solids, off and on, meaning when we have the energy for it, this week, so I thought it might be that. It sounded like he had pooped, and it smelled bad, so off we went to the changing table. J. followed with the little egg-shaped light that we use to try to keep from turning on brighter lights that will wake the baby up. 

I took off the diaper. Yep, poopy. I sniffed it to check if it smelled like the weird poop smell. Nope. Normal baby poop smell of fermenting milk. 

And then the poopsplosion began. 

The first round sprayed poop not just onto the changing table, the cloth diapers we lay underneath him, and the clothes he'd been wearing, but onto my stomach, chest, and face, as well as the whole height of the dresser next to the changing table. I covered the area with a cloth diaper and left J. in charge as I ran to the bathroom to clean myself off. While I was there, round two was mostly contained by the diaper. 

J. got the baby into a new diaper and sleeper and handed him off to me. I wiped down the dresser and the changing table while the baby happily smiled at the ceiling from the bed in his nursery. 

When I carried a beaming, wide awake baby into the kitchen, J. was scrubbing diapers and sleepers in the sink. 

"His poop is changing," J. said. "There are chunks of it in the sink." 

And there were. Apparently solid food can cause constipation when you start it. And apparently this baby managed to get it out by using some force. Good job, baby. 

J. cleaned the sink with kitchen cleaner twice. 

Needless to say, neither the wide-awake baby nor the wide-awake momma got much sleep for the rest of the night. Which is pretty normal for this one. I have not gotten a straight six hour stretch of sleep since he was born, not even the one time that J. sent me downstairs to sleep in the basement for six hours. I was too busy worrying about how much trouble Mr. Demanding Baby was giving J. upstairs. 

Send help. 

19 November 2018


What nobody tells you about pregnancy cravings (see what I did there?) is that it isn't really a matter of "I really want this thing right now" so much as a matter of "I feel like I am going to throw up if I don't eat something right now and the only thing in the entire world that sounds like it won't make me want to throw up even MORE is this one particular thing." So you'd better get that particular thing, and you'd better get it now. 

The other thing nobody tells you about pregnancy cravings is that you will only want one thing for days or weeks, and then suddenly you will never want to taste it ever again. For a while, the only thing I could drink was limeade with ginger grated into it, and then one day I couldn't stand the thought of it (after J. squeezed/grated copious amounts of it), and then only thing I could drink was watered down raspberry lemonade, and then one day I couldn't stand the thought of that (leaving a full gallon in the fridge), and now all I drink is ice cold water, with an occasional club soda, splash of cranberry, when I'm out and about. There is a lot of waste in all the things I bought in bulk when they were the only thing I could eat or drink, and now the thought of them makes me sick. 

I'm supposed to be feeling better about now, but I'm not. I'm still feeling barfy every day (although not, it must be said, actually barfing, so I'm lucky that way). Maybe today was a tiny bit better, finally?


J. and I decided that, since I'm old, we would attempt the whole baby-making thing immediately after the wedding. It seemed like now or never. 

Three weeks later, I had a positive pregnancy test in my hand, and I raced to show J. before it finished developing. 

It was somewhat surprising. I spent about a decade reading infertility blogs, and I fully expected getting pregnant to be just as difficult as finding a partner was for me. Namely, nearly impossible. I know way too much about what can go wrong, thank you internet, and I knew that trying in your late 30s is a risky proposition.

And yet, apparently the genes of my Dutch great-grandmothers who had babies until age 46 are still running strong. Trust me, I know how lucky I am. I keep hoping that things stay as boring as they have been so far. 

The baby is a boy. We had the initial set of "you are an old mother" genetic testing done, and everything came back low risk, except for the risk of more testosterone in the house. That came back pretty much guaranteed. J. is gearing up his dad jokes.

We saw the little guy on the ultrasound screen at 8 weeks, and we heard the heartbeat quick and strong on a Doppler last week. 

So here we are, with a baby due 9 months and 3 days after the wedding. I almost wish we still lived in an era where the old ladies of the community would count the months, just for the fun of it. Alas. No one here cares. They would be excited for us regardless.

31 July 2018


Oh, hey. We bought a house.

We did not set out to buy a house, other than the fact that we've been going to open houses for well over a year. But that was just for fun, right? We'd sort of decided that buying a house while planning a wedding was a little too much.


I happened to see that there were open houses near the park where we almost always take the pup, the park with the big trees for shade or shelter from the rain, the park with wood chips so it doesn't get too muddy or dusty. It was a whim, something to do on a weekend afternoon between errands and housework.

The next morning, J. went back with the realtor, and a month later, we had a (second) house. (J. already owns one.)

It just so happens that this house has a wall of south-facing windows, and a finished basement, and a yard with beautiful trees. It just so happens that it has a fireplace, and a bright clean kitchen, and a garage for all the stuff we've been cramming into the small third bedroom here. It just so happens that it has fruit trees in the yard, and a cozy family room, and a pantry cupboard. 

So we bought a house. We're moving stuff into it a little at time, and we're never quite sure where things might be - is the dog's second food dish here or there? For that matter, is the pup herself here or there? (On hot days, we sometimes bring her over to the cooler basement there to wile the day away without constant panting.)

Because we are just that smart, we also went camping twice in the weeks before our wedding. 

I even took a day off work to drive out to the mountains - J. and the pup were already there with another friend - and hang out next to a lake. The pup learned to swim. We all got a little sunburned. It actually cooled off at night, which was a welcome break from the unrelenting heat in town. 

When the pup woke me up at 6:05 am, I walked with her the nearly 5 miles around the lake, through the woods, through the campgrounds, hrough the white trunks of trees that burned years ago and past the views of the mountain, to keep her from waking everyone else up. She bounded over logs, then raced past me to sniff something invisible, then dashed past the other way. 

I breathed in mountain air, and all was well. 

Then we got back, and we made some lists in lieu of panicking about all that we have to do before the wedding. 

12 July 2018


Life is so delightful sometimes.

I've been riding my bike to work for six or seven weeks now. Getting started was the biggest hurdle, but once I started, I remembered why I love it so. It's so lovely to walk out into the cool morning air and jump on a bike, with the breeze in your face. 

My current ride to work is 2 miles, mostly downhill, on quiet bike streets, so there aren't so many stop signs or lights. I whiz along with my lunch and my purse in bike bags. I loved it so much after a week that I went and bought a new bike. (This was, of course, before I knew that we were about to buy a house. Oops.)

At work, there is a bike room in the basement, which requires an id and a code to get in, so I don't even need a lock. I ride my new bike to work. If I'm going to need to lock up my bike somewhere, I ride my old one,which clanks and clatters and takes a lot more work.

I've been riding my bike other places, too: to the other work location, downtown to a gathering, up the hill to Pilates. I'm trying to look at riding my bike not as exercise but as one of the viable means of transportation. Fortunately, it's such a pleasant means of transportation, absent rain or extreme heat or busy roads, that I choose it more and more.


Ten days ago, we went camping out at B.'s parents' place, up in the mountains. On Saturday, we all put on shorts and sandals and meandered a mile or two up the creek, wading through the water, climbing over fallen trees. The pups ran ahead, and then had to be helped down off high logs when they dared not jump down the other side. 

The sun was bright, and the trees made everything all dappled and lovely, and it was so delightful to wade through the ice-cold water that J. and B. and I took a creek walk the other direction the next day, dragging a tired pup with us.

Too bad it turned out she was getting sick. Poor little lady. (A few antibiotics and she's fine now.)

20 February 2018


Things that happened:

  1. The dog got puppy mouth warts and we couldn't take her to play with other dogs for a month. She lives to play with other dogs - there is nothing she loves more, except maybe sleeping on a human bed with a human - and has more energy than can be dealt with at home, so things were difficult. We ended up doing things like wandering around parks in the dark after everyone else was gone, throwing a light-up ball. (Too bad she doesn't like balls that much.) We also tried standing at opposite ends of the house, calling her back and forth in exchange for handfuls of her meal. It kind of worked, but it was exhausting.
  2. A pebble caught my windshield as I got on the highway, and by the time I got to work, there was a 12-16 inch crack across the driver's side. I need to get it replaced, but no time, people. No time.
  3. A tree fell on J.'s car while he and the pup were hiking with a friend. The car turns out to be totaled, so he doesn't have a car right now. This means that we have to decide whether to get a new Subie or have him drive what was previously my car to work and buy something small and fuel-efficient to drive only in town (see #7, below). I'm not-very-secretly angling for a little scooter in addition to whatever else we get, and J. does not seem as anti-scooter as he was before. 
  4. The water line to the ice maker on the fridge sprang a leak and leaked down between the wall and the wood floor, causing water damage that required tearing out flooring and drywall and all the lower cabinets and counters, and the insulation down in the crawl space, and then a weekend of fans and dehumidifiers that sounded like an airplane was landing in the kitchen. The pup despised it, to the point where we had to carry her past it, cringing, and she would run away when we tried to lure her back inside the house. The mitigation is done, but the repairs have not yet begun, so currently there is a table set up next to the sink on the plywood floor that currently constitutes the kitchen. Also, the fridge is in the dining room and the cabinets are outside. 
  5. J. and I made a bid on a house that needed a lot of work, like $100K of work, and then the seller tried to get us into a bidding war, and we backed out.
  6. I'm on my last week at my current job (today was my second to last commute) and of course it decided to snow. It snows once or twice a year, and this turned out to be the week. Fortunately, it didn't get down to 32 degrees on my commute home until I was just about to my exit. The side streets are slippery, but the highway was fine. I made it home in only 56 minutes, which may be a record, because everyone else stayed home or ditched work early.
  7. A week from now, my commute home will be 2 miles instead of 52. That makes up for a lot. I can walk, even, or take the bus. That, my friends, is good news. I feel like I finally get to have Gone West back. I've missed it, these years of spending my days in State City. 

This life is a bit of a comedy of problems right now, but you can either laugh or cry. We are doing a lot of laughing in these parts. 

20 January 2018


On Monday, our second full day in El Nido, we took a tricycle to Las Cabanas beach, a few miles down the road. Whenever we asked anyone what to do, this is what they suggested. "Oh, go to Las Cabanas. It's the best beach." So off we went. 

It really is a lovely beach. The thing about Palawan beaches, and the reason we chose Palawan over all the other islands in the Philippines, is that it has beautiful sandy beaches, but then it also has all these little rocky islands and outcroppings out in the water. There's no here-to-eternity-of-water view until you get out past the smaller islands. 

We walked all the way down the beach to the end, and then we walked back, and on the way we asked about the zipline. The zipline ran from above the beach across to a small island. The tide was low, so we could have walked across the wet, slimy rock to the small island, but where's the fun in that?

Someone walked us up the steep hill to the zipline, and then we sailed out over the water toward the other island.

Unfortunately, there was a headwind, and no matter how aerodynamic I tried to make myself, I drifted to a halt most of the way over and had to be rescued by the guys running the zipline.

We had lunch on the beach, and settled into beach chairs. I read a book, and then I took a picture of the top of the book and the ocean behind it. I laughed at the picture, telling J. that I couldn't post it on social media, because I accidentally took a picture of a page on which a girl fended off advances by saying, "I'm engaged. To be married," and people might take it the wrong way.

We moved to open sand and laid on the beach for the rest of the afternoon, until we had to go do our fluo night dive. 

The next night, after a day of cruising the islands with a bunch of Russian 20-somethings, we took a tricycle back to Las Cabanas beach to catch the sunset. We found a little bench facing the setting sun, with a bench table in front of it. We ordered a ginger soup and some other food I've forgotten. I'd taken off my motion sickness patch, and apparently taking it off after a day on the water resulted in rebound nausea (I really wasn't made for boats). 

And after dinner, J. proposed. 

This was surprisingly surprising to me. I know that proposals are a thing these days, but I never felt like I needed one. I expected just to do what my parents said they did - have a conversation and decide that it was time. 

Spoiler: I said yes. 

We hadn't talked about rings, or wedding dates, or anything in other than general terms, and so J. did not have a ring. He tried to get an O-ring for the top of a scuba tank from the dive shop, but the person he asked seemed very skeptical, so he was ringless when the right sort of moment presented itself.

A few minutes later, he went to the bathroom and came back with a piece of toilet paper twisted into a ring, and I put it on and took selfies and he was embarrassed not to have had any kind of ring, but I loved the toilet paper ring. I loved the surprise. I loved the quiet moment between the two of us. I loved it all.

A day or two later, we did scrounge some O-rings from the dive shop, and we both wore those on our right hands until we got back to Gone West, by which time they had stretched out enough that they would not stay on our fingers (even my middle finger), and we ordered silicone rings online, in blue, which we are both wearing on our right hands while we wait for the jeweler to finish the rings she designed for us, which we will also wear on our right hands until our wedding day in August. 

It turns out that when you wear a silicone ring on your right hand and don't post an engagement announcement on the f@cebooks, no one knows that you are getting married unless you tell them about it. We may drop some more hints as time goes by. It's fun to have a little secret, although here I am blabbing it to the 8 or 9 people who read my blog. You're in the know, now.

And if we are friends on the f@cebooks, you can go see the photo of the book with the words, "I'm engaged," in front of a beautiful beach in the Philippines.