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My baby is growing up

This seems to happen mostly when I haven’t been with the baby for a lot of the day. Once she’s asleep in my arms and it’s time to put her down, I can’t do it. I look at her peaceful sleeping face and hold her quiet body and I just want to hug her tight to me and never let go.

I never thought I’d be like this. Until I was pregnant I didn’t even think about babies; whenever I pictured having kids they were always old enough to hold interesting conversations. But now that I’ve had a baby of my own, I can’t deal with her getting older. It’s a lot of things coming together into this: my difficulty separating her and me, my love for her as a baby, not knowing what she’ll be like as a child, knowing her as a baby but not a child, not wanting to deal with the difficulties I know are coming. She’s always been an easy baby; I’m not looking forward to being angry or frustrated with her when she requires me to do things over and over and over again in order to learn what she may or may not do. And I’m afraid I won’t be able to do it.

Plus, and I guess this is a big one, I like things the way they are, dammit. All this change is coming too fast. In less than a year she’s gone from helpless newborn to a miniature person with a will of her own and the means to achieve much of what she wants. Her cries are completely different now. She expresses a wide range of emotions and a lot of them involve her unwillingness to be out of eyesight of me.

So I have a conflict. It’s difficult to reconcile the two. On the one hand, I love the closeness we’ve always had; on the other, I need my damned space. When she was happiest in my arms, doing almost nothing, I still felt like i had my space because I could, within reason, do what I wanted. I spent hours online or playing games while she napped. When she fussed, I rearranged us a bit and found a new way to play or surf the net. Now, her demands interfere with my ability to do what I want. I might be able to play a game, but only for as long as she’s happy playing on the floor. And she doesn’t like being on the other side of the baby fence from me, though I can’t put my computer on the same side or she’ll get into the cords. If I try to do something on my iPad, she wants to touch and grab it. I put on Uzu for her and she gets frustrated and angry because she can’t grasp the lights. If I pick her up, I have to move around with her or she gets bored and squirms. So I put her down, and she cries. If I leave the room she is angry, betrayed.

But if I take time for myself, forcing C to look after her, then when she’s finally asleep for the day in my arms and I can set her down and have some much-needed time for myself…I can’t do it. All I want is to hold her for just a little longer, okay a little more, okay just another minute, okay fuck it i’ll just have to sit back down because I’m not going to set her down for a bit yet. I don’t know how to fix this problem. And don’t even get me started on how I should just go to bed instead of playing a game or messing around on reddit or writing a blog entry or…

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Birth story

So I never actually posted K’s birth story, and I typed it out for a comment on Reddit for the third time, I think, so I might as well copy it here and just refer people to it. So I’ll leave in the advice toward the end. Currently it may be a bit wonky; I haven’t had time to properly edit since adding some things.

Of course there may be TMI.

I was to be induced on a Thursday, so Wednesday night they had me go in to the hospital to get something applied to my cervix to help it ripen/dilate. They offered ambien or morphine to help me sleep and recommended the morphine since its affects wouldn’t last into the morning. Morphine feels like being drunk, btw.

The next morning at about 8 or so, I was given an IV. I had the pitocin started by 9. I fell asleep for an hour or so and when I woke up I was in or pretty near active labor, though I didn’t know it at the time. Contractions were painful, around the front of my abdomen, but it wasn’t bad. Our doula recommended taking a little walk around L&D, so we did that, but by the time we were halfway around, my contractions were 20 seconds apart and I could no longer take steps through them. Whoops! They dialed back the pitocin and we hobbled back to the room. Looking back, I can say that I was definitely in active labor by that point.

The rest of it is a blur now. My doula and husband had me going to the bathroom regularly to empty my bladder, but in between trips I think I stood for a while and sat on an exercise ball. I think it was the second time I was on the toilet that I asked my doula if I was in active labor because if I wasn’t, I was pretty sure I couldn’t do this because the contractions were already painful enough that I was starting to have doubts. She checked with the midwife/nurses and assured me I was.

More time on the exercise ball. Our doula sat down in front of me and took control, saying, “do this with me: hee hee hee hoooohhhh.” And that was how I went through all the contractions after that until it was time to push.

I did have a lot of doubt as I got closer to transition. I have no idea how long I was thinking “I can’t do this” during contractions, but once each contraction started to abate, I was okay again. And I couldn’t ask for drugs when the pain was really bad because I was too busy going “hee hee hee hooooohhhh” 🙂 I had told my husband and doula not to give me drugs unless I was saying “GIVE ME THE GODDAMN DRUGS,” and I wasn’t ready to even ask for them, even in the middle of a contraction. I knew enough about my options to know the pain was better for me.

Our doula had explained the drugs they use at this hospital: epidural and a narcotic (I think) that they don’t give you unless you’re at least 3-4 hours away from birth because your body needs to clean it from the baby’s system. The point of that one is to let you get some rest when you’ve been in labor for 15 hours and you are exhausted. I didn’t get to that point.

I could not deal with the idea of a needle in my spine or the catheter required for the epidural. I know pain, I have felt pain, I understand pain. It sucks but I know what it feels like. I have never had a needle in my spine or a catheter and at no point did the pain eclipse my desire not to experience those things.

So eventually they had me lie down. They checked my cervix and the midwife was surprised to find I was 8 cm dilated. My first thought was, “well, no drugs then!” It was kind of a relief to have that decision out of the way. I don’t know how long after that I started to push, but it couldn’t have been long.

The first contraction was a minor change from what I had been used to — it felt a little different toward the end of it. I said something like, “I think I’m ready to push.” The next one, there was no doubt — my entire abdomen convulsed and went HURRRRRRRRRRR, and I had to breathe, and then HURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR….and then HURRRRR. You know how, in movies and sometimes in other people’s birth stories, the nurses tell the woman not to push yet because the doctor isn’t there? I don’t know how they do it because there is no “not pushing”. Your body is pushing and you can either try and relax the rest of you, or you can help. But there is no “waiting to push”.

Don’t be scared by this. It’s actually a great relief, after hours of just going through contractions, to be able to DO something, but not to have to MAKE yourself do it, because your body tells you that we’re pushing now, okay now rest for a moment, okay now push again. And time just flies. I pushed for 2.5 hours, but for the most part it seemed like nothing. Once my baby was born and I could think about time again, I could have sworn it was 15 minutes.

At first I pushed on my side, but my legs were getting tired and my hip started to hurt during contractions (I have bursitis in my hips, and one or both hip joints hurt in certain positions), so we tried a few different things. I intended to squat, but the pain in my hip was only eclipsed by the pain of the contraction at the very peak of it, so that was out. For a while, I was on my hands and knees, and that worked for me. A few things I remember:

My doula was on one side and my husband on the other. During contractions, each of them took a hand and I pulled on their hands like I was in an abdominal machine at the gym. The next day, we were all going to be sore.

I felt a stretchy pain right by my clitoris. Throughout labor, that was the only tearing I felt, and I think that was pretty much the least of it. I don’t know why I felt it there and not all the way around, but I’m not complaining. I also don’t know if I felt that because I was facing down, but it didn’t go away right away when I was back on my back.

They encouraged me to touch the top of the baby’s head. I didn’t want to, fearing it would be weird and I’d freak out. (Some people, when getting a cavity filled at the dentist, put their tongue in the hole in their tooth; I very carefully do not.) But finally I did, and my husband says my whole body relaxed and it seemed that it gave me more strength. I remember deflating like a balloon for a moment. It probably looked like relief, and maybe that’s what I felt, but I don’t now remember feeling that way. It was incredible, and I think that was the moment that “baby!” became Real…but it was surreal too. One of those things you only experience a few times in a lifetime, so it doesn’t feel like it’s possible but there it is, happening all the same. To you.

After a while they wanted me to be on my back again so I could pull my knees up to help get the baby’s head past my pelvic bone. I do think it was during that part that it started to feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere, but it was only briefly. I learned later that they were afraid to up the pitocin because of my earlier fast contractions, though I think they did at some point.

The midwife also pressed on my perineum a few times during the pushing phase. Supposedly, this helps reduce tearing; I have no idea if that’s true or not but it’s worth a shot. It also, and this was much more important to me, gives you something to aim for as you’re pushing. I tended to get all tense (and purple, my husband says) in the face during a push, so they had to do a lot of encouraging to get me to push “down there”.

This was about when I became dimly aware that there were a LOT of people in the room. I didn’t care (which surprised me when I looked back on it), and I still don’t, but damn. They were all cheering for me, and it really helped, which does surprise me since I hate being the center of attention. They were probably mostly there because they were concerned about shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder gets stuck under the mother’s pelvic bone, which is very dangerous for the baby as they can suffocate if the umbilical cord is caught between the baby’s head and the birth canal.

That was because she wasn’t turned quite right, and they were all prepped for whatever they do in that case. But once her huge head got through, the rest of her rotated and followed in the same push. I remember looking down between my legs and seeing a lot of purple on the table and the midwife looking over at me in surprise. Then everyone descended, lol — the midwife picked up the baby and asked me, “on you?” and I cried “YES!” and they had me pull up my shirt and they laid her on my chest and rubbed her with white towels until she cried. K grabbed my husband’s finger on one side and was facing our doula on the other side, and our doula asked if he wanted to come around to the other side, but he said he’d have to let go of her first, and there was a lot of activity going on that I was dimly aware of, and she wasn’t crying anymore, but my husband was — and laughing too. I stared down at the top of her head, which was covered with the hair that we had seen on the past-due-date ultrasound. At some point my husband did come around to my right where the baby was facing, and apparently our doula took a couple of pictures which I can add to this post in a few minutes, and all the nurses did whatever they had to do, and I got stitched up (I tore very badly, which is unusual) and eventually I was put in a wheelchair and we all went down a floor to Maternity.

I suggest staying in the hospital as long as your insurance will cover. It is so nice to have the nurses there to take care of you and once you get out, then you have to take care of yourself and the baby and you have to call the hospital instead of just ringing a bell to get somebody in your room to answer your questions. I thought about leaving a day early but I’m glad I didn’t.

Oh, and one last piece of advice: ask for a stool softener as soon after the birth as you can. It takes a couple days to start working and you might need it, especially if you are anemic like me and have to take an iron supplement (which causes constipation). Bowel movements after birth, particularly if you tear a lot, can really suck. Eat lots of fiber and get some Metamucil just in case. I don’t want to scare you, but I really wish somebody had told me this beforehand. As I said above, my tearing was unusually bad, so 99.9% certainty you’ll have an easier time, but have the stuff on hand just in case, and take it until you know what to expect. It’s best to just have everything fall out.

Speaking of waste falling out, urinary incontinence is also common after childbirth. When you start to think you might have to pee at some point, get to the bathroom ASAP because you have to go a lot more than you feel like you do, and the muscles you use to hold it in are worn out. Holding in your pee and peeing anyway is a very strange feeling.

Back to less unpleasant topics: My labor was very short — less than 8 hours. They said my baby was probably pretty much ready to come out and labor would have started within the next day or two at the latest. This is one thing I did not mind at all about being induced 12 days late.

Pictures: http://nettabird.imgur.com/birth

Oh, and people say you’ll be overwhelmed with love and all that? I wasn’t overwhelmed. I was really too tired to feel much of anything at all. But within a short time I was definitely amazed with how much I loved her, and that feeling just keeps growing as she gets older.

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Baby sleep: day 3

Fair warning: I am very tired and this will not be as concise as it should be.

So far, it’s hard to tell how well my plan is working, in large part because I haven’t followed it. I’m terrible at timing things, making schedules, etc, and anyway it’s not like I can get a stopwatch and be all, “okay, she stopped sucking for the final time 20 minutes ago, time to put her down.”

It seemed to go well Monday and Tuesday. Monday I was amazed to find that she stayed asleep for over an hour in the evening (for her noon nap, I fell asleep in the glider, only waking up when she did, so I didn’t put her down at all) after I put her in her crib. Tuesday, her noon nap was something like an hour and a half even though I put her down midway. Both days I was amazed at how happy she was. Apparently it’s possible for a baby to get too much sleep.

But today…I think her longest nap was a half hour. I put her down many times but she woke right up — once I think I didn’t even get to standing before she was open-eyed, and she didn’t close them again like she often does. Add that to the fact that she first woke up at 6, so it was light out by the time she was mostly done nursing (at which point she falls back to sleep in the dark), and that I stayed up till 1 am last night because it was one of those “just didn’t get around to going to bed” nights, and…yeah. Pick her up, nurse her, put her down. Pick her up, bring her back into the living room, lay her down on her activity mat, stare at the living room closet I’m trying to organize. Spend a half hour verbally reassuring her I’m only a few feet away while trying (and mostly failing) to figure out where to put stuff. Lather, rinse, repeat, and the crank just turned faster as time went on.

So I think I’m going to try only putting her down for her evening nap and see where that takes us.

It occurs to me that Monday and Tuesday were both overcast and pretty dark for the daytime. I hope that’s not why it was so easy!

Tonight has been rough too. She cried 3 times so far after being apparently asleep. The first time I waited a few minutes but then went in and gave her a pinky. She didn’t seem to be ready to sleep quickly enough, so I picked her up and nursed her until she was back asleep, then set her down and left the room immediately (I did that when I first put her to bed, too). Ten minutes later she was crying again, but not the pained and/or angry screaming that she did the first time, just crying. So, hoping to get her right back to sleep, I went in and gave her a pinky again. This time she fell back asleep almost immediately. Good. Left the room again. Ten minutes later…

As I leaned against the crib, the railing and my head squeezing my arm to sleep and the railing in my armpit putting my other arm to sleep, I considered some things.

First, my ambivalence here can only cause problems. Consistency is key. Intermittent reinforcement is the most effective, whether you’re trying to reinforce a behavior or not. If I sometimes respond to her crying by picking her up and/or nursing her, that will reinforce the crying more effectively than if I do it every time.

But every damn time I read anything about getting babies to sleep, I feel like I have to try not to nurse her as much and not to pick her up when she cries and not to go in to her right away…and I don’t like it. It seems wrong. Just letting her cry, deliberately, how does that teach her anything other than that sometimes I am not there for her? She’ll have plenty of time to learn how to sleep later on. But part of the foundation for that has got to be the security that comes from knowing that you have someone to run to when you need them.

And even the no-cry stuff, what I’ve seen of it, doesn’t sit right with me. For one thing, I can’t stick with it if it doesn’t ring completely true for me, and it really doesn’t. A lot of it doesn’t seem to apply to us — one author advocates putting the baby to bed as early as 6 pm, and I just stopped doing that because I wanted to sleep past dawn once in a while goddammit — because the situations described are nothing like my baby. She sleeps for hours, sometimes through the night (especially now that she goes to bed a bit later). That kind of thing really seems more for babies that wake up a lot.

If I don’t read or hear other people’s opinions on baby sleep, everything is fine. I like nursing her to sleep, though I do worry in the back of my mind about whether she’ll have a hard time falling asleep on her own later, and what happens when I wean her? I guess we’ll just slowly replace nursings throughout the day with solid food meals, and the bedtime nursing will probably be the last to go, I suppose. Unless she bites me and I stop breastfeeding, but then I think I’ll still pump for the rest of her first year.

The thing is, it’s going to suck either way. If I tried not nursing her to sleep now, I expect the same thing will happen as did before: she’ll simply stay awake, probably screaming, until it’s been so long that it’s time for another feeding, and then she’ll fall asleep. So I’ll nurse her to sleep either way; it’s just a question of how much trouble I want to go to first. How is this better than nursing her to sleep to start with? And why does it seem like everyone else assumes that it is?

Because I have no idea what the future holds. What I do know is that, at some point, she’s going to start fake-crying…and I hope I recognize it when it happens, and can take the appropriate action, because I still start to laugh when she raspberries her sweet potatoes back onto her tray even though I tell myself over and over to not respond because I don’t want to encourage the behavior.

Another thing I thought as my arms began to tingle and my back ached from recent workouts is this: I would much rather sit in the glider with the baby at my breast and my fingers at my laptop than lean over this damned crib with my arms falling asleep, waiting for her to drift off and then trying to pull my pinky out of her mouth so slowly that she won’t wake up again. And if I’m not making any progress with that method, even if it’s just because I give in to my own sleepiness too often, then I should stop. Right? But all the experts say it’ll cause problems later on. But that’s not necessarily the case for this baby…

So that’s where I’m at right now.

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I’m going to try and track progress here; we’ll see how often I actually get around to updating but I think it’ll help me keep track of my mental state and other things you can’t track on your iPod app. Because I just found a really neat one, and it’s free too — something like “my fitness pal.”

I’ve been surprised to find that the iPod Touch that C no longer uses and therefore gave to me just gets more and more useful. I found a neat sudoku teaching app, which was a couple of bucks, but since I use it while feeding Kaelie and I’ve learned a bunch of advanced techniques that I couldn’t have learned from the incomprehensible sudoku wiki, I think it’s worth it. Still have lots of questions (why can you determine that about this cell but not that one? How do you find that arrangement?), but I’m learning. I’ve also found lots of free books through iBooks from Project Gutenberg, and there are a few nice apps for recipes, which are helping me get into cooking, about which I am very excited. And there’s a reddit app and a woot.com app and of course…Cut the Rope, which is the cutest little game you’ll ever see and if you have never played it you are seriously missing out. It costs a dollar, though I’d pay $20 for it if it cost that much. Then again, if it cost that much, I’d never have tried it in the first place.

Anyway, I also found a nice little app for managing to-do lists, which I’m still working on filling with all the shit I have to do, and that fitness app looks dead useful. It has tons — TONS — of nutritional information, and it tracks calories for you, and all kinds of progress, and it’ll graph it out for you too. I think this is going to be very helpful, and I’m actually kind of glad that I ate too much at our weekly get-together dinner last night and was over 180 again this morning so I told myself, “no, you can’t claim it was just a one-time fuck-up. Start your damned food diary like you said you would if you went back over 180 pounds in the morning, because you already ignored your own requirements like three times. Start the damned food diary. It’ll be good for you.”

So I started writing stuff down in a notebook like I did before. And a few hours later, I picked up my iPod to use while feeding the baby, and thought, “hang on, I should just use the notes feature instead of using lots of paper. Wait a minute…I wonder if there’s a free app that I might actually use for tracking food intake?” And sure enough…

This app will also help me make a habit of weighing out my portions now that I have a scale for that purpose (thanks Mom!), because you have to tell it the number of servings, and I think it’ll really help me connect the amount of food on my plate to the number of calories in it. And if I have to weigh out my portions, well that kind of means I should cook, huh?

I’m really getting excited to do this. I can’t wait to see a nice steady decline on that weight graph.

What else has been in my head?

The baby’s sleeping. That’s been on my mind a lot, because I stopped trying to lie in bed for as long as possible in the mornings because I felt like a bum and like the day was half gone by the time I got up. So I started getting up with the baby in the morning instead of taking her back to bed with me to nurse her. But doing that, I learned that she doesn’t actually sleep past dawn, and sometimes she won’t sleep to dawn…so I thought, why not? Well, it probably has something to do with the fact that I put her to bed at 6 pm.

I do this for a reason, of course: she’s cranky as hell come 5:30 pm, and since it’s dark by 6 still, she’ll stay asleep (as opposed to the daytime, when she wakes up after less than 30 minutes if you put her down), and after being up with her the whole day and sitting still for 4-5 hours total while she naps on me, I am glad to get some much-needed Me Time, or Husband Time, or really, just to be able to move around and do stuff without having to stop and entertain an often-cranky baby every ten minutes. I only have so many things to do on my iPod or my computer, and I can’t comfortably knit with her on the Boppy on my lap. I wouldn’t say I get bored, but I am starting to get restless.

So here’s how it’s been. At her first appointment with the pediatrician when she was 4 days old, he said that if we didn’t try to keep her awake with eyes open as much as possible during the day, within two weeks we’d regret it since she’d likely not learn that night is for sleep and day is for awake. So we did. And she did learn, first sleeping through the night by 2 months of age. However, about the same time, she stopped staying asleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time during the day…unless she was on somebody who was sitting still, but could rock her back to sleep when she stirred.

Three months later, I am sick of sitting still when this baby needs a nap. My lady bits are not yet healed, and sitting immobile for 2 hours at a time, even in the very comfortable glider we bought for this purpose, is not doing me any favors. So this week, I am going to very likely put us both through hell as I try setting her down in her crib for her naps. Every time she gets cranky I will nurse her to sleep, wait progressively less time, and set her in her crib. I will do this until Friday, and then reevaluate…assuming I make it that far.

It’s very possible that I’m setting us both up for failure here. I should probably continue the current napping arrangement for another week while I see what happens when we wait for 8 pm to put her to bed, especially since we’ve kind of built up a schedule for after bedtime — I go to the gym at 8 pm Mondays and Thursdays, and we have friends over on Fridays just after she goes to bed, though I think it’ll actually be better with the new bedtime since she doesn’t have trouble falling or staying asleep because of the extra noise. I suspect that the reason she often wakes up after we put her to bed, and needs to be put back to sleep (often by an increasingly weary dad with increasingly painful eardrums), is that we’re simply putting her to bed too early. And Sunday dinner will be easier too, and we should shortly be able to go back to our weekly evening dinners with the Es (our friends with the now 15-month-old daughter) because it won’t be three hours past K’s bedtime when we get home.

But I’m impatient to get this fixed, to get done things that I have been meaning to get done since we moved in, to have a clean damned house for a change, to baby-proof the house so the Es can bring their toddler over with a lower likelihood that she’ll destroy something of value, eat cat food, or injure herself.

So, starting Monday, I will both set her down for naps and leave the lights on until 8 pm. And we’ll see what happens.

I’m learning that a lot of parenting is “seeing what happens.”

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Easy baby

Maybe I’ll actually start updating regularly again…we’ll see. K is now about four and a half months old. The birth went fine (for an induction), but recovery has been difficult. I just, last Thursday, had my last appointment with the doctor who stitched me up. And I’m still not yet healed, though I won’t go into the details. It will still be a while before I can even think about getting pregnant again (though we’ll be waiting until nearer C’s graduation before trying again, anyway).

But the baby has been as easy as recovery has been hard — easier, even. She hardly cries, pretty much never for no reason, and is easily distracted by going into another room even when she’s gassy. She is fine on her own with her toys (or often without) for 15-30 minutes at a time. She has always slept for hours at night, and when we followed the pediatrician’s advice to try to keep her awake and open-eyed as much as possible during the day, she gracefully fell into a pattern of sleeping more at night and less during the day. Even better, by the third month she was already sleeping 7-8 hours at a time.

Granted, she is no more a napper than I am, so in order to get her to sleep at all during the day I pretty much have to hold her and sit still the whole time. Otherwise, when she stirs, she wakes herself up completely, and she always stirs within a half hour of falling asleep in my arms (if she doesn’t wake up when I put her down). When I’m holding her, however, I can shush and rock her quickly enough that she can fall back asleep, so she’ll nap for two hours instead of 30 minutes.

Last Monday, I started a new sleeping schedule and routine. I had read that 4-month-old babies generally go to sleep between 6 and 8 pm, and K has been cranky at night. I thought it was just that she wasn’t getting enough napping during the day (which she hasn’t, see above), but if she can’t sleep well during the day, then it’s no surprise that she would wake up shortly after dawn whether she’d gone to bed early enough or not, right? So I started putting her to bed around 7 pm. To my surprise (and motherly guilt), she took to it easily, though she did begin to wake up earlier to nurse: about 4 am rather than 5:30-6, which makes sense. She was also more wakeful after her night feedings, taking 10-15 minutes more to fall asleep after eating.

Last night, I nursed her to sleep like usual. She woke up when I put her in her crib for the night, so I left her in the dark to get sleepy, figuring I’d go back and put her to sleep when she cried. But she didn’t cry; she was quiet for a while, made two or three small cranky noises and then was quiet again. 15 minutes after putting her down, I went in to check on her and she was sound asleep, on her side as she seems to prefer (which began about a week, maybe ten days ago). I was surprised, but grateful.

Tonight, though, nursing didn’t get her to sleep, even though it was about 10 pm (she slept in the car seat for a while after we got home from Sunday dinner). So I set her down in her crib, wide awake, thinking how great it would be if she magically fell asleep on her own again but fully expecting her to cry within a few minutes. About 20 minutes later, I stood outside her door and heard her sighing. I resisted the urge to go in; she may have been asleep, but I probably would have disturbed her if I had stepped on that creaky floor. About 30 minutes after that, I checked on her again, and sure enough that baby was completely asleep. I couldn’t believe my luck! If this becomes a pattern it’ll be totally worth my difficult recovery. Hell, if it just happens sometimes it’ll be totally worth it.

Also, she’s just started to roll from back to front. She did it two nights ago while C was putting her into pajamas — he had her by the foot as she squirmed, and suddenly her foot flipped over. And she did it again this morning, as C discovered when he went in to change her diaper and bring her to me in bed for nursing shortly after dawn. Soon she’ll be rolling on purpose…and oh god I really have to get moving on the baby proofing!

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Week 19

Next sonogram in 5 days. I can’t wait! We should find out then whether it’s a boy or a girl.

I’m kind of hoping for a girl because I have all this Stuff that I loved as a child that I want to put in her room, and I really have no idea what of it would be appropriate for a boy baby’s room. I guess it doesn’t really matter until the baby’s older…

But I’m hoping for a boy because they tend to be more active and it would probably be better to have boys earlier, while I still have some energy left. Watch me have four boys. I’ll never need to go to the gym again.

Ultimately, neither of us have strong preferences one way or the other, though I do want at least one of each.

So far, there’s definitely occasional movement in my abdomen but nothing that makes me jump. I think I’ve felt the baby move a couple of times this morning alone, but it could just be a muscle spasm here and a bubble there. We joke about the baby moving as much as its father, but I do have some minor concern about that for the last few months. I’m already having trouble sleeping because of these crazy dreams that keep waking me up at 5 am…the last three months with the baby kicking harder, I don’t know how I’m going to sleep at all.

Tomorrow marks week 20, the halfway point. Halfway already! and at the same time, it feels like it’s going so slowly.

Since we won’t find out the sex till Wednesday, and the One Week Boutique ends before then, I’ll be looking for neutral-colored baby stuff when I go tomorrow. Mostly I want to find a car seat, a jogging stroller if possible, a regular stroller (maybe), and possibly a crib or bassinet, though I’ve already had about five people offer their kids’ old cribs. I know there are a few people who are going to be looking to provide the big things new (and I do appreciate that), but I’ve gotten a bit overly conscious of the amount of nearly new stuff that goes to waste because everyone expects to buy completely new.

That’s been gnawing at me (more than it used to) since I saw the movie The Book of Eli. There’s one line in the movie where the young woman Solara, probably about 18-20 years old, is asking Eli about how things were before the nuclear winter 30 years in the past. He says something like, “People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other for now.” This is after we see how precious a dinky little plastic bottle of hotel shampoo was earlier in the movie.

And now I’m trying to get rid of all this Stuff from my childhood that I’d packed away in Dad’s basement…I can’t throw it out. There’s no reason to, except I’ve got more than I need, want, can use, or have space for, and so does everyone around me. I had to compromise on a bag of pens and pencils: the pens won’t write any longer, but the pencils are still good, so I threw out the pens and all the pencils that were broken into pieces too small to use. I used to have new pencils every school year (why?), and now I don’t even know if my kids will use all the ones I have because won’t they end up doing their papers on a computer?

I need to remember to get those boxes over to Goodwill today. I’d post the stuff on freecycle but it’s really just a bunch of little things. Maybe I will anyway…

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Knitting for babies

I have three baby blankets to be done for babies that are definitely on the way and at least two to be made for my own future child (Charles and I have decided to start trying for our first). Each baby will get a blanket made of Cascade Superwash 128 (ours will also get a cotton/cashmere one which will be pretty expensive and smaller, but beautiful), which claims to be machine washable but I learned that you’d better make sure that your joins are well done and have long tails to be woven in, because when my mother-in-law washed it on gentle for the shortest time possible (4 minutes) and then tumble dried it (as you’re supposed to be able to), taking it out before it was fully dry, she found holes! Lots of them! In fact, almost all of the joins had come apart.

I took it to Brigitte at Klose Knit (my MIL could have fixed the holes, but I wanted to show Brigitte since she’d just started carrying the yarn recently), and we worked on it for a while and managed to fix the holes to where they’re not terribly noticeable. But they are still too noticeable for a gift. So she offered a deal: she’d give me another six skeins of the yarn in exchange for the blanket, which she would display in her store as an example project for that yarn.

Hmm, two weeks of work (probably about 20 hours in total) for probably about a full skein of free yarn (if in sections), not even including the swatch I did for the blanket (which I need to wash, and it can probably be used as a towel, or a doll blanket if I have a girl)? And the next one I make will be better since I already know how it’s going to wash up? And it’ll only take about two weeks to remake? Hell yeah! It didn’t take long to make that decision, and I think Brigitte was a little surprised at how quickly I agreed. (Maybe I should have bartered for another skein? I wouldn’t have felt right doing that.)

Such is the advantage of being a primarily rational person. I was sad to let go of the blanket — still am — but it’s a good deal, since the blanket can’t be machine washed and therefore isn’t suitable for use with a baby (even mine — I don’t hand wash anything now; there’s no way I’m going to do it when I have a baby). I comfort myself with the thought that lots of people will see my work, and the actual gift will be better than it would have been had I done the joins right in the first place.

So I learned a lot from this project:

  1. Always wash a project before you give it away. I did it because I was paranoid and figured that I’d rather it fall apart before I gave it to them than the first time they washed it, and I’m so glad I did.
  2. Do your joins well! Knot the strands together, leaving nice long tails, and knit with them a few stitches before and after the knot. Weave in the ends later. An inch is nowhere near enough tail.
  3. Always wash your swatch before you go using it to make measurements of stitches per inch! The blanket changed shape pretty drastically when it was washed — it stretched three inches across and shrank three inches top to bottom, so instead of being 37×35 inches, it became 40×32.

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