Friday, October 31, 2008

Take a Walk

Let's take a walk through the neighborhood. It's a simply mad gorgeous autumn day. We like to get Finn outside, especially while it's still so nice out, but I admit that I do not do it enough. Often, the day just slides through my fingers like so much water, and before I know it, Pete is home.
This was one of those days on which Tyrannosaurus Baby would not nap, so I hoped a walk would put him to sleep. Usually, he's nodding off within a block, but not so today. I had to take most of these pictures while still walking because he became upset whenever I stopped.

See?
And, we're walking...


video


I could say that I feel the same way... gorgeous on the inside.
But I think that on the inside, I am probably mostly red, pink, and squishy.

He did not fall asleep until just before we reached the intersection near the library.
Since when is this a school bus?

Our local library branch:

There are a lot of political signs in the city, and they tend to skew democratic.
Had you been dropped into the middle of Minneapolis in 2000, directly from outer space, you would have been convinced that Ralph Nader was about to win in a landslide. We all know how that turned out.
We picked up some DVD's at the library, and it was so nice that I decided to continue on to my local yarn store.
Borealis Yarns. Love.
This headline is more interesting if you live in Minnesota. Or watch Hardball.Walking in leaves is fun.
Neighborhood yard sculpture.
Flower bed?
I love the colors of autumn.


video

happy halloween

first, Christine knit him a hat
then i bought him a cheap ridiculous pumpkin bunting for ten dollars at the scrapheap, cart-colliding, free-for-all that was Target last night. i was going to do my raggedy ann doll make up, but (shocker of shockers), there was not time.
we were going to give out candy in this basket, but decided to give out cats instead, until we realized that we only have three, and one (this one) is weird, one is hiding in the basement, and one is old, deaf, and arthritic. we went back to candy.
he's too little to be embarassed. the grownups have no excuse.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

At around 10:30 in the morning, Finn takes a two-hour swing nap, and I race around like a maniac, trying to get things done. Today, I cleaned the litter boxes, made mouthwash, made a face scrub mix, made oil cleanser, pumped breast milk, took some of my vitamins, ate cereal, brushed, flossed, and rinsed, published a short blog, chatted online with dorkchic in LA, caught up on a couple of other blogs and my Ravelry boards, checked email, washed my face, put on clothes, and made tea. Not necessarily in that order. I still want to upload pictures to Imageevent, pick raspberries, finish the dishes, reorganize the pots and pans graveyard, put on my face, vaccuum the rug, and get a load of laundry in, plus balance the checkbooks and pay the bills, but I'll get to all that eventually. Actually, if I run, I can probably do the laundry...

the good baby


My neighbor stopped by one afternoon to bring us a baby gift. I showed her the baby as a reward. After the obligatory gasps and "oh-how-cutes", she asked "Is he a good baby?"

I find this odd, but many people ask this question.

What, I ask you, is a bad baby?

Apparently, from what I have gathered, a good baby is a baby who sleeps and does not cry too much. That would mean that there are approximately seven good babies out there in the world at any given time. Now, as babies are known for crying and not sleeping, it would seem that a baby who does not excel at not sleeping and does not cry too much is actually a bad baby, not a good one.

We think Finn is a good baby. Even when he barfs down my cleavage. Or my back. Or my sleeve. Even when he flails at the breast and whacks himself in the face repeatedly. Even when he claws a bright, red scratch down my chest. He's still a good baby because those are all things babies do. And he's our baby.

Does he sleep? Like, for a long stretch of time, at night?

HAHAHAHA!!

*ahem*

That would be "no."

He's a high need nighttime baby. He does not like to be wet, he likes to be near us, and he likes to eat often. There's not much we can do about it. Today, he is five months old and almost two months adjusted. We think he's in the 10-11 pound rage; we'll find out at his next doctor appointment next week. He's a big, giant baby, to us, but he's still a wee man.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the little house

(I don't know how objective I can be about this next book because I love it. But I will do my best.)

"The Little House," by Virginia Lee Burton is a classic. Originally published in 1942 (do I own any contemporary children's literature? ), this tale generally holds up well to the modern reader's scrutiny. The illustrations are both stylized and homey, as well as colorful, and the time lapse aspect of their presentation reminds me of before/after makeover pictures, and I simply adore those.

But I am getting ahead of myself. It's what happens when you hear the little whimpers and stirrings coming from a napping infant.

"Once upon a time," the story begins tritely, but accurately, "there was a Little House way out in the country." As with many children's tales, the house is a character with feelings and gender. She's a girl. And she's pink. But she is also "strong and well built." We can let the "well built" moniker slide as she is, after all, a house. Not a brick sh*thouse, but a lovely little family dwelling.

She is a happy house, in tune with her surroundings, watching the days go by, the only unchanging thing in mother nature's subtly chaotic world. Apparently, houses never sleep, as she watches the moon and the stars and the lights of the city off in the distance. Like many country girls, she wonders what the big city is like.

Eventually, as she could not go to industrialization, industrialization came to her. Nowadays, we call this "sprawl." The machines came and cut a big road through her little hill covered in daisies. She was deflowered.

It's a lesson in "Be careful what you wish for." Instead of watching cows and birds and the glorious changes of the seasons, she watched trucks and automobiles and their inevitable counterparts: gas stations, houses, and roadside stands. It's a rather prescient look at what has happened all over America. The cars in the drawings are from the 1920's, but the story is the same: humans tend to mess things up. We just don't know when to stop.

Eventually, the city engulfs the Little House, pushing her inhabitants out, and she sits derelict, a lonely little socialist oasis in the middle of squalid capitalism. The city continues to grow, its expanding human life creating larger transportation systems and pollution, and the seasons are gone. "It all seemed about the same" to the Little House.
She was used up. Windows broken, paint cracked and dirty, shutters hanging crookedly. She was the old prostitute on the corner, ignored by johns, mocked by the younger recruits who did not see their own futures in the crone next to them.

But her spirit was unbroken. Underneath her shabby exterior, she as a strong and sturdy as ever.

In an unlikely twist that we must grant to a work of fiction, the great-great-granddaughter of the man who built the Little House happens by and recognizes her, and they take her home to live in her. She was moved out of the city to a new little hill, tarted with some new pink lacquer, ready to start the mad cycle all over. She had learned her lesson. Country better than City. She would never be curious again.

I suppose it's a happy ending.

all the world's a cat toy

video

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

day/off

The best episode on America's Next Top Model is number three or four. It's the makeover show, where Tyra gives all the girls new looks. There's a lot of crying and a few hissy fits, and it's awesome.

Last Saturday, I took a break. I scheduled a hair appointment with my favorite (and only) guy, and I stole away. I could not take the shedding anymore. I spent a couple of weeks going over my decision because it's kind of a big deal. I did not know if I would have a sniffly reaction to my hair being chopped off or not, but I have had it long for years. It's been 12 since it was any shorter than my collarbone, and for the majority of the last 20, it's just been long. I do not want to be one of those moms who goes and gets a short soccer mom haircut once she has a kid and then ceases to be relevant to anything hip or interesting. It's bad enough that I don't understand the music these kids are listening to today.

You can get emotionally attached to something like your hair. It can start to define who you are. I was wondering if that had happened to me. Could I change? Would it be hard?



I had Pete take pictures before I left, and when I looked at the one from the back, I was shocked. I had no idea how long it actually was. I balked. "Do I really want to do this?" I asked Pete. He sighed. "Yes, honey. You do. It will be OK."

That was my only moment of pause.

"We're cutting it off," I told Jonny.

"Sweet."

We looked at haircolors and discussed the pictures I brought along, then he put it in a ponytail.

"OK, are you ready?" he said, wielding the scissors.

"Yup," I said. Absolutely.

It was no problem--I did not even flinch. It was just time. It's short; it's sassy; it's fabulous; I love it. No more ponytails, no more headaches, no more painful scalp. I am still shedding, but now those hairs are not a foot and a half long. It's easier to take care of, it's almost automatically cute. Now I have to figure out where or if I should donate that ponytail. A lot of the donated hair goes into the trash, or they sell it to make money for the charity. In that case, I could sell it myself and donate the cash to Childrens' Hospitals.

I love it. La la love it.

Senator Paul Wellstone

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

over it

There is nothing glamorous about being a mom. Angelina Jolie and Sarah Palin can suck it.

This baby is no less awesome than he ever was. In fact, with all the smiling, he's extra awesome.

But it's 12:48 p.m., and I am still wearing what I slept in last night, and it's the same thing I have been wearing for... I don't know how long I have been wearing this. I have not bothered with a bra in a couple of days because I have not left the house, and he's on these things most of the time anyway. I ate breakfast at 11:00, and it was leftover tuna mac and cheese that was sitting out on the stove from yesterday. I need to pump to keep my milk supply up, but he does not want to be put down and is not sleeping for long during the day. Or at least, it feels like he is not sleeping for very long. There's a sink full of dishes, a kitty litter pail full of diapers, and I have not had a proper shower since Friday. Everything I do, I do at top speed: eating, bathing, laundry. But it takes me four hours to finish a Guinness. Most of the time I type with one hand, when I can type at all. I have a cute, new haircut I want to show off, but see above reference to "shower, no proper in days."

Motherhood is not glamorous, but if you wanted it, and you chose it, there is a strange beauty in the chaos and from a distance, I can see the humor. But the livingroom? From a distance, I can almost see the floor.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

100 days


Pete thinks a lot about what Finn will be like one day. He imagines taking him camping, playing baseball, teaching him the fiddle. He wonders what he will enjoy doing and pictures him when he is older.

Not me. It's day to day. I'm in the middle of it, and I am focused on what is happening in each moment. I am the center of his immediate needs, after all.

Plus, the 78 days he spent in the hospital, the circumstances of his birth, the uncertainty we experienced, and the bald-faced evidence of the fact that some things are just out of our control taught me to try to live in the now.

Back when I was in pre-term labor, the neonatalogist was talking to me, trying to fit her information into the two minutes she had in between contractions, and I heard "average of 100 days" in the hospital, I could not even think about it. First things first, I did not even believe that there was going to be a baby. I did not know what I believed. I was floating through the whole experience; it was out of my control. I had done all I could to ensure that this very thing did not happen, and it happened anyway. Nothing I could do now. Once Finn was born, and they said he was stable, I still did not put any stock in "the future." Everything was day by day. When I did think about 100 days, it seemed like an ocean of time away.

It soared by. At the same time, it was exhausting, nerve wracking, and frenzied, and every night we would come home and miss our baby more than we did the day before. We were at the hospital one, two, sometimes three times a day, I was pumping, we were working, we were trying to remember to eat and make time to clean the house.

Now, we have this big baby, getting bigger every day. Every day begins for me between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. when Pete brings him to me, and every day is pretty much like the one before. It's change by incremental degrees. One day, I notice that he looks a little different. That change has been happening slowly, but I don't notice it until one moment on the changing table when I look down on him, and my brain flips through other pictures it retains of my son, and sees that they don't quite match. Is it his eyes? The shape of his head? I don't know. I just sense a difference.

He's smiling responsively now, quite a lot, especially in the morning, which is usually his happy, wakey baby time. He'll gurgle and coo at the little animals that live on the side of his co-sleeper, and he's starting to get the idea that he can touch things with his hands, which means he is starting to realize that he has hands. He has figured out that he can squeal, so he does it. Quite often. His fussy time is usually from 7-11 in the evening, give or take an hour. During that time, he eats for a few minutes then gets upset, flailing his arms and crying on the boob. He likes to be walked around the house so he can look at things. He farts and strains, cries, and farts some more. Of course, he farts pretty much all day, and it does not bother him until evening. It's like being in a bad mood when you get home from work. The hours go by, the events of your day accumulate, and it gets to be too much. Grown-ups have a beer, smoke a cigarette, or go to therapy. Babies cry. It's how they communicate need and how they release stress.

By the end of the day, in fact, both of us are frustrated. My day is like his. When Pete does not get home until 6:30, we are both tired. It has been just me and him, all day together, and maybe he's tired of me and needs someone new. Maybe my milk production is low in the evening, and it frustrates him. Whatever it is, after 18 hours of pretty much Just Mama, we've both had it.

He's fussing on the bottle right now, and farting and burping. Pete has taken over, so I know it's not just me. In a couple of hours, I will have to go to bed, and it starts all over again. I suppose it's just a different kind of monotony, different from get up, go to work, come home, go to bed. It's monotony with a little baby who needs constant attention and love, who pays us back with smiles and cuddles, finger holding and the promise of little new things every day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Training Wheels

Finn has been on an apnea monitor since he came home. Luckily, considering his extreme prematurity (that's right, Finn is XPreemie), his main issue in the hospital was having "spells" during which his heart rate and/or oxygen saturation would drop below certain preset parameters. The babies are all monitored, and the screens are right there to tell you your baby's statistics.

video

It was both comforting and maddening. You would be practicing Kangaroo Care, with one eye on the monitor, hoping his sats would not drop that one more percentage point, causing the alarms to go off if it went on too long. Sometimes, it was difficult to relax. Normally, people just hold their babies--it's an almost purely emotional experience. Very preemie preemies are like tiny bags of bird bones; they feel more delicate than they really are, but they are so small and so helpless, and there are cords and tubes hanging off of them that have to be wrangled... it can be quite a production to get them in and out of their little plastic wombs.

The Oxygen Saturation sensor is on his foot:

The stickers are for his heartrate and respiration:
(look at that furry little baby!)

You got used to both the persistent presence of the monitors and the constant alarms from all over the unit. When he was put onto the apnea monitor before he came home, it was a bit disconcerting because it has no numbers, just flashing lights. I kept thinking "But what about his O2 sats? How do I know if he is dropping?"

Well, you don't. The monitor contains preset parameters that are tripped if he stops breathing for 30 seconds (apnea) or his heartrate is below 90 (bradycardia) or above 200. Little green lights flash in time with the electrodes that fit via velcro tabs onto a soft belt that closes around his chest with a super strong velcro tab.

The "loose lead" alarm would go off when anything got too loose, and it was the worst sound in the world. A loud, piercing tone that would not stop until you hit the "reset" and "power" buttons together. Hideous. It was louder than the alarms that told us our baby was not breathing anymore, which I find truly bizarre.

Finn spent his first two months at home on the monitor pretty much 24-7. Every three weeks or so, we had to do a download, which meant we hauled baby and monitor over to a friend's house a few blocks away because we no longer have a landline, and that is how they do it. Which I find astounding, actually. This thing costs $799 per month to rent, it's monitoring my baby's vital signs, and it's on dial up? OK.

We had a little log in which we would write down any alarms. He had two true apneas in his first chunk of data, no bradycardia, and no true fast heart rates, though that would beep when he got too upset.

On the apnea monitor:
He's still in preemie prefolds there. And that belt no longer meets in the middle.

The second download, he had one true apnea and two bradycardias, though he was sleeping on either Pete or I for all of them, and we noticed no change. We began to suspect that the parameters no longer applied to him. After all, when we took him home, he was in the 5-6 pound range and not yet full term. Here he was, 3 pounds over that and past term. When I asked the apnea nurse about this, she said "We do it by age, and he's just term, right?"

"No," I said, "He's two weeks past term."

"Oh. We have him down here as having a due date in mid-late September."

"Um, no. His due date was between August 30 and September 7."

"Oh."

When the low heart rate alarms started, we thought that it might be related to the caffeine wearing off, which the apnea nurse said could take two weeks. That was about the right time frame. But when we asked his pediatrician about the parameters, she said that his heart rate low should be set at 70, not 90, so we stopped worrying about it.

After his second download, the nurse asked what we wanted to do. Did we want to discontinue it? I said that wanted to keep him on it at night. I thought that I would not be able to sleep if he were not on the monitor; I would be too worried about spells. Thing is, what we had learned from the monitor is that he does not have those spells often. They were, in fact, rare, and when he had them, he always corrected himself. He did not need intervention. That should make me feel pretty good about his sleeping patterns.

We did his last download this morning. Though I said we wanted to keep him on it at night, we wound up only using the darn thing for a few more days after the second download. After that, we sort of forgot about it. If he was already asleep, we did not want to disturb him by strapping him in, and if the leads came loose, we disconnected it. The belt was too tight, the connections were getting floppy, and though the nurse said she would have them send me new ones, they never did. So we wound up weaning ourselves off.

In this data set, he had one low heart rate, which we know to be bogus. The nurse is going to consult with the doctor about officially having it discontinued, but I suspect that it should not be a problem. I have it packed up, by the door, and ready for pick up.

The training wheels are off. Our baby is free-wheeling* it.

*references to Bob Dylan will be disregarded by the author.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

harry the dirty dog & no roses for harry


One of the things I truly love about the books from my childhood is that they came from even earlier childhoods, so their illustrations and references are from another age. In "Waggles," the women wore hats, for instance, and everyone shopped at locally-owned Department Stores.

The "Harry" series is similar, both in plot and in cultural references. Written in 1956 and 1958 respectively, "Harry the Dirty Dog" and "No Roses for Harry" follow the misadventures of a lovable hound, but Harry is a dog who has a home with a perfect little American family, whereas Waggles was a vagabond.

We are introduced to Harry in "Harry the Dirty Dog." I will let it slide that I believe a comma would be appropriate in the title. Harry's adventure begins with a theft related to his dislike of bathing. He believes that if he steals the scrub brush, he will not have to have a bath. Once he has buried the offending item, he runs away.

Harry does not seem to be possessed of much logic or the ability to think through a plan, two things one would hope to find in a protagonist.

Harry plays at construction sites, rail yards, more construction sites, and coal chutes, turning from a white dog with black spots into a black dog with white spots. It is only when he is tired and hungry that he turns toward home.

Arriving at home, he finds that his hapless humans do not recognize him, thinking he is a stray. One has to wonder if they are merely playing stupid to teach their dog a lesson. One hopes this is the case, or one would have to wonder how Father holds down a job in the city, which he clearly does based on his suit and fedora.

It is only after he digs up the scrub brush and convinces them to bathe him that they see that it is their very own dog, returned to them. He is very happy to be home, but does not seem to have learned his lesson as he has again stolen the scrub brush.

I sense a sequel in the works.

And indeed, there are more Harry books, though I am only in possession of one: "No Roses for Harry," a tale of unlikely knitting.

In this story, Harry is given a birthday present from Grandma: a homemade sweater with roses on it. Clearly, Grandma is an accomplished knitter, and she spent some time on this creation. Harry does not like it because of the flowers. One can only assume that he finds it to be a bit sissy. When he wears it out, the dogs and people point and laugh (and bark). He tries to lose the sweater in the Department Store, but people keep giving it back to him. Why the children took it off him and let him carry it is beyond me. A convenient plot device, I suspect, but not very believable.

When he finds a loose stitch, he pulls at it. A watching bird eventually swoops down and picks up the loose yarn, flying away and unraveling the entire sweater.

I am willing to give the author this. I suppose it is possible that a bird could unravel a whole sweater from one loose thread if the bird was at least medium sized and the sweater was knit in one piece, which it appears this sweater could have been. I am not, however, willing to concede that grandma knitted this sweater from one long piece of self-rose-ing yarn. Nor am I willing to buy it that the bird then made the yarn into a nest that miraculously had the same roses on it as Harry's sweater.

It's a nice idea, and it makes for a clever story if one does not think about it too deeply, but, much like conservative talk radio, but it falls apart under the slightest scrutiny.

I won't give away the surprise ending, but I will hint that it is related to canine fashion.

All in all, however, the "Harry" books are enjoyable. The illustrations are skillful and charming, even though the humans have dead, black shark eyes. In these books, we see things from other eras like the aforementioned hats, Department Stores with everything right down to "flower departments," and steam locomotives. I will be tracking down the other "Harry" books to add to my collection.

"Harry the Dirty Dog" and "No Roses for Harry" by Gene Zion
Pictures by Margaret Bloy Graham

Saturday, October 11, 2008

T.V.

Ever since "Friends" went off the air, I have not committed myself to any other weekly serial. Except for "Medium." I tried to get involved with "Grey's Anatomy," but I just could not hang on for the whole season last year.

Friends keep telling me how great different shows are, and I smile and nod. Now, through the magic of the public library system and its torrid relationship with my maternity leave, I am experiencing the joys of "House, M.D.," the American "Office," and catching up on the "Grey's Anatomy" I missed. All without the commercials, and all in one huge loading dose.

Oh, and "Heroes." The first season.

My reviews?

I love "House." He's a bastard. The kind of bastard I wish I could be, sometimes. He says things that go through my head, things I wish I could say but never would because, well, you really shouldn't. It's how I felt about Karen on "Will and Grace." There's something attractive about people who don't care what they say, who don't care what people think of them. Of course, those people would be irritating and hurtful in real life, but on screen, they make me salivate with envy. In short, "House, M.D." is a refreshing take on a medical show. Part mystery, part drama, part black comedy.

"Grey's Anatomy" is transfixing because the main character is so messed up and infuriating. At the same time that you are rooting for her, you are wanting to strangle her with her own hair for being so obtuse when it comes to her own inner workings. Their medical stories are often interesting and new, and the show does not have the same sort of "train wreck" aspect that began bog down "E.R." after George Clooney left.

Maybe it's just that George Clooney left.

"Heroes" was good. I liked the comic book aspect of it, even though trite comic-book dialogue does not translate as well when actual mouths are speaking it out loud. The season both wrapped up its story and left you hanging, which I rather resented. It did not leave me hanging in an "oooo, I wonder what happens next" manner, it left me hanging in a "groan, come on" manner. I am not sure if I will bother with the second season.

The American "Office" is, of course, different from the original UK series, and I think they should be evaluated on their own merits. The UK series is embarrassingly cringe-worthy, and makes you laugh because you are uncomfortable. The US series is often flat out funny, though the characters are also embarrassing. They just don't remind me as much of my own tendencies, which is the part that makes me squirmy in the UK version.

I had to have a baby to catch up on TV. It's not something I was planning. In sum, all TV would be better with George Clooney, as would almost anything. Hugh Laurie does a great American accent, with only a few slips here and there, and his character is a brilliant bastard. Meredith Grey is annoying but oddly loveable. Steve Carrell is one of the funniest men on the planet. So is Ricky Gervais. And don't judge a cheerleader by her sweater.

P.S. I also watch "America's Next Top Model," but I don't like to bring a lot of attention to that habit.

Friday, October 10, 2008

First Blood


One thing I was looking forward to in Post-partum Land was not having my period for perhaps a year or more because I am breastfeeding so frequently. What an awesome thought: twelve months without bleeding.

Silly me.

I got my period last week for the first time, just four months after Finn was born.

"Your body loves to ovulate," our pediatrician said.

Great.
My body is just fast. Six month pregnancy, fast metabolizer, Ovulate Now!
Let's get going on all the girly stuff!

Honestly, at 38, and after this experience, I am not sure that I will be getting pregnant again. One of the risks for preterm labor is a previous preterm delivery. Another is pregnancy over age 35. Those are the only two risk factors I have. Before Finn was born, I had one: my age. Other than that, I did every thing I was supposed to do. Even beyond the normal "don't drink, don't smoke, eat well" advice, I was careful. I have long made my own cleaning products, keeping toxic chemicals out of the house. I purged my make up of phthalates and parabens before I even became pregnant. Not only did I eat well, we eat organic and local whenever possible, I avoided fish, deli meats and soft cheeses, I took my prenatal vitamins... were I to become pregnant again, there is nothing I would change.

OK, I would try to make it to yoga more often.

There's nothing, it seems, that I could have done to avoid preterm labor, and there's probably nothing I could do in the future.

For me, I sometimes feel it would be irresponsible to get pregnant again, knowing that I have an increased risk of the same outcome. I would not want to put another baby through that, I would not want to put Finn through that, our family, or even the system through that. Finn is an awesome baby, we are madly in love with him, and we are wildly impressed with his progress, but we don't need another preemie. We were lucky with Finn. Even given his prematurity, he was pretty healthy. He had no systems issues, and his care was relatively straight forward. I could not count on that happening a second time.

We have no plans for another child at this point, of course. Finn is brand sparkling new, and we are enjoying our time with him. It's hard to imagine adding another member of the family. There are many things to think about when it comes to that kind of decision. Ovulating Again adds another level to my relative lack of grown-up desire. A reproductive accident in Finn's first year would be an especially bad idea.

Wakey Baby

If Finn is awake, he is making noise.
This morning:

video

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

baby science


I am not talking about a ridiculous series of DVD's designed to turn your baby into a genius, I am talking about what babies do to the grown up humans around them.

Time and Space change. The very physical laws of the universe seem to bend.

Time
1 a
: the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues : duration b: a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future

I did not post to my blog for nine days. I have emails from over a month ago that are sitting unanswered. I can't tell you if it's Monday or Saturday. October 1 or September 13. There is not real division between night and day, aside from the darkness. When the clock starts to roll around to 10 pm, all I can think is that I have to go to bed, whether I want to or not, and another "day" has passed during which I had almost no non-baby time. Saturdays and Sundays are different because Pete is home, and he does not have to get up at a set time in the morning. But that's about it. It's been almost two months since Finn came home. That's almost unbelievable. Time has flown.

Gravity
3 a
(1): the gravitational attraction of the mass of the earth, the moon, or a planet for bodies at or near its surface

Usually, one thinks of gravity as a big object attracting smaller objects, which then revolve around the larger object. Babies are the reverse. You have this very small creature in the center with anywhere from one to four adults, sometimes more, drifting (or flurrying) around it in different trajectories. Infants are White Hot Need wrapped in Uncontrollable Cuteness, and they pull us in. They have to in order to survive.

It's hard to imagine these shifts before you have a baby. You can't imagine being attached to something in such a visceral way. It seems impossible that layers of your life could just fall away into oblivion when you hold your son. Even when I am on the couch for hours, and I think I can't stand one more minute, that little face is the most mesmerizing thing in the world.

He needs me. I need him. I love him. He will love me. We're a fresh little family with so much to do. Lots of baby physics, baby chemistry, and baby biology ahead of us.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Intimacy


Pete wanted us to all get into bed together last night. We've been sleeping in shifts in separate rooms for the most part, and it's become a routine that seems to work. Usually around ten o'clock or so, after Finn has consumed his vitamin bottle, he falls asleep and will sleep until around 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. Pete takes him, and they sleep in the guestroom until the boy wakes up; Pete brings him into our room, and I take over. Finn will eat and then sleep until six or so, and we get out of bed when Pete gets up to go to work.

But Pete misses me. I understand and all, but I have just accepted that this is the way things are for now. Not forever. For now. And in the grand sceme of things, it's a short amount of time that Finn will be a small baby who does not sleep through the night.

That said, I can't imagine going though an experience like this if you were partnered with someone you do not like. Or, going through this when you really did not want to have a baby in the first place. By "this," I mean the whole preemie-NICU-Special Care-home process. It's been an exhausting four months. If Pete and I did not already have a good relationship based on mutual respect, admiration, and friendship, this would have sucked.

Sucked ass.

Two or three trips to the hospital a day, full time work, and a house to take care of adds up to a possibly volatile relationship with your significant other. Oh, and don't forget the hormones. Mine have been... interesting... since he was born. I think it's different for women who give birth prematurely--I don't think that they follow a normal course. I had a second hormone change right around time due date, making it once when he was actually born and once when he was supposed to be born. It does not make for a romantic mood.

There's very little intimacy after a baby is born. At least, there's very little intimacy of the sort that Pete wants. He's been more than a little frisky. Me? Not so much. Really, not at all. When the boy was in the hospital, I was tired and distracted. Now that he's home, I am tired and distracted.

Quite frankly, the last thing I want at the end of the day, or ever, is another person On Me. I spend the better part of my twenty four hours with a small being hanging on my every move and literally attached to me. When I have moments during which he is not On Me, I don't want someone else On Me. I want some time for me. I want to have a bath; I want to write; I want to block a sweater. Heck, I want to do the dishes. I just want to do something that uses two hands and gets me off the couch.

We will cuddle again some day.
I will sleep for more than five hours some day.

For now, Pete and I are a team that is here to keep this baby alive and give him a warm and supportive environment. That's the focus and our main mission.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

4 months


Our newborn is four months old. He's unique, much like other babies who were born very early: he's neither an infant nor a newborn. He's Finn. He's getting very good at holding his head up; he likes to look around, and he will fix his gaze on things for longer than a few seconds. He'll push up with his legs when I am holding him under his arms, and he will stay there for a little bit. I have received at least three smiles from him that were in response to me, not simply internal. He's 9 pounds, 4.5 inches and 20.75 inches. We never had to supplement him with formula; he's gaining on the mama food, and the dairy is always open.

Which leaves me pinned to the couch with a baby hanging from my boob.

Hence the long silence in this space.

All is well. We have grandparenty visitors now, so I hope to have a moment to catch up on the notes that are in the queue.

Plenty to say. No time to say it.