This Christmas by Leslie

It seemed like everyone in our neighborhood put up all their Xmas lights and went out and got a tree that weekend after Thanksgiving. I guess that's the rule right? Wait until Thanksgiving, then it's a mad dash to Christmas getting everything done: get a Christmas tree and wreath, put up decorations and buy new ones, make or order Xmas cards, stamp/stuff/label/lick 125 envelopes, put up outside lights, make a list and go shopping.

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We tried to find new lights and a timer but they are sold out everywhere. And the one perfect gift that I wanted to get for someone was no where to be found. Online shopping? Better be done at least a week before Xmas or it won't ship in time, not to mention the cost of shipping a heavy package to Canada with a guaranteed delivery date. Thank goodness we don't go to the mall, that would be a headache and a half.

Why don't I start thinking about it before Thanksgiving? Well I guess this year it was because I was busy planning our trip to Canada. But it really would be a good idea. I always groan at the sight of Xmas things right after Halloween but maybe that's the prime time to start getting ready.

Next year I vow to go through the box of decorations early and see what we need. I promise to test the lights for burned out bulbs and dead strings BEFORE I wrap them around that prickly tree and toss them over that bush. And Christmas shopping will begin in September, when the best things are not sold out.

Or maybe all the madness is the fun of it. I like to think that at least I take Christmas a little easier than a lot of people. Rather than a perfectly sophisticated lighting scheme on the outside of the house, we opt for the trailer park look of tossed lights and single strands hanging loosely from the garage. Our tree isn't as big as most, though we do get a real one. And I don't think we over-decorate, for everything I put up, I think, "I will have to take that down in just a few weeks."

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 And one last word about Milo's first Christmas. I found him a cute decoration for the tree that will be his "first", but it doesn't have a baby on it, or the year, or his name. Chris didn't like any of those. It has a mouse though, in a stocking, and it's big and soft. Speaking of stockings, I bought Milo's stocking and it matches the two that Chris and I have and the little ones for the dogs. I got home and I wondered, what if I can't find the same kind of stocking when we have more kids? The second child will feel left out having a different stocking from the rest of us. And it would kill my design sense to have an odd one out anyway, so I went out and bought 2 more to have for the future. I think it's funny and probably speaks volumes about me and my Virgo obsessions. So, three kids it is. Four? No, we can't have four. We don't have a stocking that matches the rest of us. 

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Have a great week getting ready for Christmas!! I'm thinking of all of you and wishing I could see you all at a fabulous party that I would have thrown a few years ago, but now I can't imagine. Maybe in the New Year? Want to come to my house? You are all invited, just let me know when.

Just For Me by Leslie

I started knitting. I know it's kind of cliche, a stay-at-home Mom knitting everyone scarves, but so far I'm really enjoying it (partly because it has nothing to do with a computer). I learned how to knit the basic pearl stitch from my Mom (I think) and I always wanted to knit fabulous things, but I would get bored and discouraged by how long it seemed to take. I finally figured out what works best for me: big needles and big colorful yarn. It goes super fast and it's loose and fun. I made a gorgeous blue-gray scarf in just 5 days without really trying and I am working on my second in hot pink. I have it in my head that I could sell these, but I don't want to pressure myself with producing a large volume until I am sure I won't get tired of it. Chris was as surprised as I was that I knew how to knit. It took me a bit of thinking to remember how to "cast-on" and I had to look up "casting-off" on line, but I think my first real knitted garment is really cool.

Last week I also joined the local YWCA and started going to the pool for lap swimming. It's a great way to exercise and for me it's also very relaxing and meditative to swim on my back, stare at the ceiling tiles and listen to sounds under the water. The only weird thing was that a giant man asked me how I was swimming on my back. Huh? I just stared at him, shocked that he was actually talking to me, and surprised by his ridiculous question. He said, what do you do with your hands? I showed him and then moved to the other side of the pool. Was this a lame come-on, or did he really not know? I'm not sure which is weirder. I will also be taking some fitness classes during the day that I can bring the baby to, and I will hopefully meet some other Moms in the area.

My New Alarm by Leslie

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Recently, like a little alarm clock, Milo is set to go off at 7am every morning. He wakes up in a good mood and starts to make noises. He's quiet at first but quickly works up to short little yells. It's happy yells, but it's impossible to sleep through them. They are generally accompanied by his hands pumping up and down and if I'm too close I get batted at. "Wake up Mom! It's time to start the day!"

If you know me, you know I like to stay up late and sleep in. In college I would sleep until 1pm sometimes, but recently (before Milo), sleeping until 11am was lovely on the weekend. I called myself a night owl and preferred late nights watching movies to sun rises and breakfast.

For the first four months of living with Milo he was not on any particular schedule or routine and sometimes he would sleep longer or stay up late longer and I would get to indulge myself with my old habits. But now that he is not really a newborn anymore, he has naturally developed pretty consistent wake-up and go-to-sleep times of 7am and 7pm respectively, and there is no more denying that my old way of life has to change. I have to become an early bird and embrace this waking up early, otherwise I'll just be grumpy all morning.

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Along with accepting my new early morning wake up call, I've got to try to get Milo on a routine. We already have a few things that we do pretty consistently, but rather than leave things like napping and eating to chance I think it's healthier for him to know that play time comes after breakfast and nap time comes after that. Kids love routines and it helps them anticipate their day better. I hope it will also help Milo sleep better.

It seems early, and it's going to pretty much cut out any evening activities for us, but our night time routine starts at about 5:30 when Chris comes home from work. A typical night would be that Milo eats dinner, plays with Dad, has a bath twice a week, gets ready for bed with a diaper change and into pajamas, reads a few books in his dimly lit room and then we rock in the rocking chair to a lullaby CD or white noise (hair dryer, but soon to be replaced with a sound machine) until he is drifting off. Then we lay him down in the crib with his taggies blanket and his monkey to fall the rest of the way asleep by  himself, usually between 6:30 and 7:30 depending on whether he had a bath, how long play time was and how tired he is.

I'm still working on the day time routine, but it starts at 7am with him waking up, playing in bed with us for while, then a diaper change and get dressed, breakfast and then playtime in the activity center. He usually goes down for a nap 2 hours after he wakes up. After his nap I nurse him, change his diaper and then we can go out to do errands, play or go out for a walk. One of the things I am trying to do is get him to nap longer in the morning. Usually he goes down for only 45 minutes, but I would like to get him sleeping closer to 2 hours. He has another nap around 1pm and from 3pm - 5pm is more awake time.

So, we are working towards a more predictable day and with that, hopefully, better sleep! I sure do miss those long stretches of sleep I used to get. Feeling like my life is a bunch of short naps is tough and being perpetually tired is even worse. But you know, it's ok. Waking up to an alarm clock as cute as Milo is something to treasure. When I am bleary eyed and miserable, and he flashes one of those blazing smiles at me and squeals like he's never been happier, I can't help but smile back. And as soon as I smile at him, I feel that welling of love, and who can be grumpy through that?

Milo's First Bites by Leslie

Milo had his first meal of rice cereal on September 25th. One week later he is a master eater. We have thickened it up and he loves it! He will lean forward and open wide for bites and sometimes complains if I don't shovel it in fast enough. We started with 1 tablespoon and now have him eating 4 tablespoons twice a day, in the morning and at night. He has tried rice, oats and is now eating barley. Next month will be fruits and veggies!

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Analyzing My Life On My Birthday by Leslie

A birthday is a good time to reflect on one's life and I've lived enough of it now to actually see that I have passed through four distinct phases and I am in number five right now. Each shift happened because of very intentional and significant changes that I made in my life.

But first, pictures from my birthday on the 14th:

Phase One: Happy Childhood and a Big Family

Age: Birth to Twelve/Thirteen (1975-1988)

My childhood was great and of course defined by spending time with family. We camped a lot and spent weekends building things with my Dad in the backyard or inside playing in the attic. The end of this phase was about a year long process during grade eight when I started spending more time with friends, going to parties and having real boyfriends. I was hanging out with the popular crowd and learning what it meant to be part of a group. By the time the summer rolled around and I was going to be moving to the high school for grade nine I decided that I didn't like being part of the preppy rich crowd and I preferred the look of the alternative punk kids in my neighborhood. I copied their look with knee high black socks and jean shorts and when I started grade nine at the high school I found myself attracting attention from the people that I had chosen to emulate.

Phase Two: A Rebellious Punk Rocker

Age: Fourteen to Twenty (1989-1995)

From grade nine until the end of my third year of college was a time for parties, indulgence, bad behavior and an almost frantic search for an identity. I made mistakes but I also met a lot of people, saw a lot of lives lived, and somehow grew up. As I got closer to the end of college and to paying back the money I had borrowed to go to school I knew that I needed to get serious and start thinking professionally. I worked hard in my last year and broke the mold in my photography program to teach myself more marketable skills in design and multimedia. I also met a guy who had similar goals and I was able to focus on that relationship and my career and pull myself away from the party scene that I had been participating in.

Phase Three: Artist and Professional Designer

Age: Twenty-One to Twenty-six (1996-2001)

This phase spans three cities and includes college and work for four different companies. I learned so much during this time, about myself and about the design profession. It took a while to really hit my stride and feel like I was comfortable in my own skin. After college, during my first professional job in Calgary I really changed my lifestyle and my look evolved too. I stopped shopping at thrift stores and started shopping at the Gap for fitted blouses and neck scarfs. It was kind of weird but it fit with the professional life I was living. This whole thing peaked in Minneapolis when I was trying to figure out where I fit in the professional world I was learning about. Moving to New York helped tremendously. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere, in my new job and in the city. I met people who I will be friends with for the rest of my life and I discovered a personal style that was edgy and sophisticated. I eventually ended the relationship I had been in and finally felt like I was happy with just me. I thought I was heading for Phase Four: Single in the City, but instead I chose a very different path.

Phase Four: Falling in Love and Getting Married

Age: Twenty-six to Thirty (2001-2005)

Just when I thought I was ready for a single lifestyle I met the man that I would marry. I didn't know it at the time and I really resisted it for a few months, but eventually Chris's charms would win me over. After living near my friends in the trendy part of Brooklyn for only six months, I moved into his lovely house in New Jersey with him and his two dogs. Despite the fact that Chris and I were spending lots of time alone together going to art shows and movies, there was also plenty of socializing. His band got back together and everyone would come out to the house for rehearsals and to record a new record. There were gigs in the city and also lots of house parties in various places in Brooklyn. After attending three weddings for close friends, Chris and I got married too! We started trying to get pregnant pretty quickly but faced two miscarriages and incredible disappointment that for the first time in my life I wasn't able to control my own destiny. Despite these challenges we continued to have fun, right up until my fabulous, surprise 30th birthday party. The night ended with plenty of tequila shots and three days later I found out I was pregnant again!

Phase Five: Becoming a Mum

Age: Thirty to present

I was so thrilled that I was pregnant again before I turned thirty and the changes in my life started immediately. I quit smoking again, started eating better, and began educating myself on pregnancy and labor/delivery. Everything went really well, the third time was the charm and here I am now, at the beginning of motherhood. It's difficult to reflect on it too much, since I am right in the midst of it all, but I would say this shift has certainly been the most challenging, but already the most rewarding. It's very exciting for me to have this new lens with which to view my life and I know that becoming a mother will define and influence the rest of my life. Exactly how that will play out remains to be seen, but I know that whatever it is will allow me to live up to my potential even more and make my life the best it can be.

Dear Milo, by Leslie

You will be 4 months old next week. You are in your new Fisher Price Papasan swing fast asleep. You wore out the old swing, which we got from Gram who had it for Jake. You've loved swinging from the first week you were home and in those first few days it was sometimes the only thing that would calm you down from crying. One time we lugged the swing, which is usually in the living room, up to our bedroom at 3 o'clock in the morning because nothing we could do would make you stop crying and we hadn't been able to sleep yet. You finally fell asleep in the swing and we left you in there for an hour or two while we got some much needed sleep. We weren't sure if we should fall asleep with you swinging away, but I don't think we could have stayed awake even if we had tried. Thankfully our nights are much easier with you now.

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These days you are so happy and smiling all the time. You just started laughing and it's the cutest thing. The first time we really got you laughing your Dad was making funny voices at you and barking like a dog. I was crying I was laughing so hard. It was really funny to see that big grin on your face and to hear you laughing so hard. You've actually been very smiley right from the start. I have pictures of you not even a week old with a big smile on your face while you are sleeping. It was only during sleep, especially right after you had nursed, that you would smile during the first month. In week 5 though, when your Auntie Jill was visiting, you started to smile at people. By the time Grandma and Grandpa came to visit from Canada you were getting really good at it. Now when I go out shopping and I wear you in the front carrier facing outward, you smile at everyone and of course everyone smiles back and says how cute you are. What a flirt already! Just like your Dad.

 

We just got back from your first vacation. We went to Cape Cod with Gram and Poppa, Auntie Gloria, Uncle Hank and Jake, Eva, Yolanda and her sons Chris and Jimmy and Sibohan, Ciro, Samantha and David. You were on the beach for your 3 month birthday and just like your Mom and Dad, you didn't seem to love it. You were pretty good for most of the day and napped on your Dad for a couple hours, but when you woke up and found yourself still on the beach, you cried and cried and didn't stop until my foot touched the stairs going back up to the car. It was maybe the sun and the noisy ocean and the wind. At any rate, the next day you were much happier shopping in Chatam and you loved being in the cabana at the Wequessett Inn's fancy pool the day after that. The drive out was a nightmare, there was lots of Saturday traffic on I95 and after a 3 hour nap in the morning, we stopped to feed you and hung out for an hour, but you didn't want to get back in the car. You howled until we pulled over at a Burlington Coat Factory and we walked around with you in there for an hour until you were sleepy again. We got back in the car and you slept for another few hours, but the last couple of hours of the trip we had to stop frequently to calm you down. Because of the traffic and stopping for you, what should have been a 4.5 hour trip took almost 8 hours! When it came time to go home we decide to drive at 9pm, after you had fallen asleep for the night and all the traffic was gone. It went so much better.

You've had some trouble with Acid Reflux from about week 5. At first it was heartburn and you would cry in pain during feeding and right after. We got some medicine, Pepcid, for you to take twice a day and that seemed to help. We also gave you a lot of Gripe Water and that worked like magic and settled your stomach and coated your throat so it didn't hurt as much. Now, it seems like the heartburn has subsided, but you are spitting up a lot after a feeding when you burp. It doesn't hurt you, but we have to do a lot of laundry, mine and yours. It's really quite a mess actually. I can count on at least 6 times a day getting spit up on and even though I try to keep you aimed at the hardwood floor, which is easy to clean up, you do a good job of getting both your father and I wet and sometimes the couch too.

Your nose started running last week and you have your first cold! It seems like you feel alright, but your nose gets congested and you can't breath when you are nursing. I've been putting saline drops up your nose and then suctioning it. You hate that of course. I don't like to make you cry like that, but there is no other way until you learn to blow your nose.

The thing that makes you cry in pain now is gas. We give you Mylicon drops to help break up the gas bubbles and that seems to help. You fart a lot (ha ha!) and depending on when your last poop was, it can be really stinky!! You poop every 4 days or so, but sometimes it goes more than 7 days. Because you are just eating breast milk that is pretty normal. When you do go though, it's often a messy affair. I've gotten better at knowing when you are going to go and can sometimes avoid a mess, but there have been times when the poop has gone all up your back or out the sides of the diaper. Yuckers! One time it was actually dripping all over the floor as I rushed to your room to change you! Luckily we have hardwood floors. I call you Stinky Pants sometimes, or Farty McGee.

You started out sleeping in a cradle next to our bed, and during the night when you got hungry I would get up and bring you into bed with us and nurse you sitting up, or I would go to the butterfly chair and nurse you there. Once you got bigger, maybe at 3 weeks, we started to keep you in bed with us and that made nursing easier because I wouldn't have to lift you out of the cradle or get out of bed. I nurse you laying down on my side and both of us usually fall back to sleep. It makes it so much easier and some nights I get sucha good rest it feels like I'm not even really waking up. During the day you nap in your crib, the swing, in my arms or in the sling. We plan to move you to your crib at night once you are eating solid foods and can sleep longer without needing to nurse. Right now you eat every 3 - 4 hours at night and during the day I'll feed you every 1 -3 hours depending on how you are feeling. Sometimes you nurse for just a few minutes or you just want to cuddle and fall asleep. The funniest thing is when you are done and you give me a big smile, or when you start to babble with your mouth full.

You have gotten yourself on a pretty good routine lately. You will wake up around 7:30-8:00am and we will play together in bed for half and hour or so, then I will give you to your Dad and I will shower and get dressed. Then I come down stairs and change your diaper and get you dressed while Chris gets ready for work. Then you and I go on the couch in the living room and I'll nurse you while watching TV and Chris will bring me a plate of fruit, toast and coffee. Then he will leave for work and you and I will play for a bit until you get tired.  You will have a morning nap around 10-10:30 for anywhere from an hour to 3 hours. Sometimes you will wake up, nurse and then go back to sleep. After your nap you are up for 2 - 3 hours and I'll usually put you in the sling and take a walk with you or do some things around the house. Around 3 you will have an afternoon nap for no more than 2 hours. Dad gets home at 5:15 and he'll cook dinner. This is sometimes your cranky time and so I'll walk around with you and try to keep you happy. When dinner is ready we will try to put you in the swing, or if you don't like that we will take turns holding you while the other person eats. Around 7:30 we will get you ready for bed, giving you a bath 2 times a week, put lotion on and give you a massage sometimes and change you into your pajamas. Then I'll nurse you and rock you to sleep. You are usually asleep by 8:30. At 10:30 I'll take you upstairs. I'll usually feed you, even if you are asleep (dream feed) so that I can get a good rest before you wake up again around 2-3am. Because you are in bed with us, the night feedings are easy. All I do is roll over, get you latched on and we both fall back to sleep. You will wake up again to nurse around 5:30 and between then and 7:30 you usually sleep very lightly and nurse on and off until we get up. Then it starts all over!

Today you are trying my patience and don't want to be put down. It's difficult for me to do anything! You love to be in my arms and be entertained. I think I am feeling a little run down these last few days, so it's very tiring. This morning I napped with you on the couch. I had you in my arms and I laid down with you tucked between me and the back of the couch. It was very comfortable and we both slept like that for over an hour. You woke up crying though and so we rolled over to the other side and you nursed for about 20 minutes. At 1:30 we walked over to the deli to get a sandwich. You are getting so heavy!! I'm not sure I will be able to keep using the front carrier, my neck, shoulders and upper back get so sore.

You are such a cutie and I just love to see you smile. I do some pretty funny things to try to get a laugh out of you! Getting a laugh is still kind of tough, but you smile literally all the time. Sometimes when I am paying attention to something else and you are in your activity center I look over at you and there you are staring at me with a big grin on your face! Of course I have to stop whatever it is I am doing and go over and give you a big kiss! You stick out your tongue all the time too, like a big goof, usually when you are smiling. It's the funniest thing. I imagine when you get older you will be a silly kid. That'll be fun.

I swore that you said Ma today, but you are probably just making the sound and don't know what you are saying yet. You are pretty good at mimicking sounds. I was on the phone with Leila and I put the phone to your ear so she could say Hi to you and I said, "Say hi to Leila" and I totally heard you said "Hi Leila". She heard it too!!! Again, you are probably just making the sounds that I made, but it is really cute and cool.

Grandma came to visit again last week and it was so nice to have her here helping out and spending time with you. For the first time you acted scared at a new person but you quickly got over it and warmed right up to her. It was nice to come down in the morning a little bit later than usual, hand you off to her and go upstairs to take a shower. With her here I don't have to rush to get ready like when it's just me and Chris. She is also happy to carry you around and get you to sleep, so it gave me a little bit of a break. We will be traveling to Canada in November, so we will see her again then and meet the rest of your Canadian family.

It is my 31st birthday tomorrow and one year ago yesterday I found out I was pregnant with you. That was such an exciting and nerve-racking time! I can't believe you are here now and how much you have grown already. (I've already put away so many of your clothes!) So much has changed since last year. My 30th birthday was a real turning point in my life, especially because of you. This year things are so different, I don't really care much about my birthday actually. I mean, we couldn't do anything big anyway because we have you now, but I don't really want to. I guess that's what happens.

Anyway, my dear Milo, I hope you enjoy reading this some day and that I don't embarrass you too much. I love you with all my heart and more. You are the coolest, cutest, funniest kid around. Keep laughing always.

Growing So Fast You Can Almost See It Happening by Leslie

At Milo's one month pediatrician appointment the nurse had to measure him twice because she didn't believe she got it right the first time. At a little more than 4 weeks he has gained 4 lbs since leaving the hospital and has grown an amazing 2 inches in height and 3.5 cm in the diameter of his head. (According to Dr. Sears that's twice the average!) He is now 11 lbs and 3 oz, 22 inches long and has a 38.5 cm head diameter. I'm not sure why they measure his head in metric but that's how they do it. He's almost grown out of the 0-3 month clothes and will be wearing the 3-6 month stuff soon.

The doctor also gave us some medicine for reflux, which he thinks Milo has. He doesn't spit up a lot but he's had a couple severe crying episodes during and after breastfeeding and would not stay latched on. It sounded like a painful cry and on Wednesday night it kept both Chris and I up from 11pm till 5 am and at one point had me crying with him. He's taking Pepcid twice a day and it seems to be helping. I had really bad heartburn during the pregnancy and the doc said that 60% of babies that had mothers with heartburn during pregnancy have reflux.

He has also started smiling at us occasionally for a few seconds here and there, and it's great to see those wonderful smiles we saw when he was sleeping, turn into smiles when he is awake in reaction to our face or our voice. He has the head control of a two month old as well and has very strong legs that he uses all the time.

He's pretty content on his own sometimes to just look around while sitting in his bouncing chair or laying in his crib, though after 15-20 minutes he wants a hug. He tracks toys with his eyes occasionally but not consistently and he's already got a favorite lullaby CD to fall asleep to, it works every time. The other things that he likes are being swaddled and held close in the baby wrap and bouncing in our arms or on the excercise ball, those can both put him to sleep or calm him from crying. He will also stop crying if you turn on the hair dryer and put it near his ear.

Milo Jett's Birth Story by Leslie

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The afternoon of Saturday May 20th Chris and I went to The Village Cafe in Ridgewood to eat a late lunch and write thank-you cards for the baby shower. The weather was kind of strange, at first it was sunny and beautiful, then the wind would get really strong and a big rain cloud would blow in and it would rain lightly for a few minutes. We wanted to sit outside, but had to move in twice when it started raining.

At 5 pm after we were done we walked down to shop at Mango Jam and it was there that I felt the first little cramp. It surprised me and I looked at Chris and told him what I had felt. We laughed at the thought that it might have been a contraction. We decided to walk down to Starbucks, about 5 blocks away, to see if that would make the cramps go away or get stronger. During the walk I got a few more cramps, but they were mild and I could continue walking through them. I figured I was having strong Braxton Hicks contractions or maybe I was having false labor. I was still a week away from my due date and I didn't want to get too excited in case it wasn't the real thing.

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When we got home around 6 pm I went upstairs to lay down. I put on the Hypnobirthing CD and kept an eye on the clock. I would get a cramp about every 5 minutes and they were lasting about 20-30 seconds. We were supposed to go over to Chris's parents house at 7 pm, but I decided it would be better not to go. I wanted to stay in bed, but Chris thought it would be a good idea to keep moving around and to go about doing normal things as long as we could. We decided to take the dogs for a walk. I brought a watch and we timed a few contractions. They were very irregular and I could still walk and talk through them. We still kept saying, "if this is really labor".

When we got home at 8 pm I went back upstairs and laid down. Chris started timing the contractions, they averaged about 6 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds. By now I was accepting the fact that the contractions were not going away and that this was really it! We called our doula Lynn at 8:45 to let her know what was happening and that we might need her that night. She told me it sounded like early labor and that I should try to get some rest. We stopped timing the surges and I took a bath. Baths in early labor can slow down the contractions, but they kept coming. I had the urge to turn over onto my hands and knees and sit like a frog for each one in the tub. I said to Chris, if this is labor and these are my contractions, this is easy!

I got back into bed around 9:30 pm and we put on the Hypnobirthing CD again, I listened to it 2 or 3 times but the contractions kept coming and were getting stronger. By 10:30 pm I couldn't stay in bed with each contraction and it felt better for me to stand up, grab the shelf and rock side to side. We got out the birth ball and I bounced on that for a few of them too. We started timing them again at 10:45 pm. We were averaging 3-4 minutes apart at 30-45 seconds, but they were still not coming at regular intervals and we had been told that they needed to be 60 seconds long and at regular intervals before we could go to the hospital. We didn't even bother to video tape anything or get ready for the hospital because we thought we still had several hours to go.

I kept having the urge to go to the bathroom and at 11:15 pm I passed the mucus plug. We thought, "This is it! We can go to the hospital now", so we called our midwife. Lonnie spoke to me on the phone and figured we were in early labor since between contractions I was very lucid and felt great, and during a contraction I wasn't screaming or anything, even though I had to pass the phone to Chris. She told us to go back to bed and try to rest between the contractions. Even though they were coming quickly, they weren't lasting very long or seemingly hurting very much. She thought we had a way to go.

At 11:45 pm we stopped timing again and got back into bed. I dealt with the contractions by moaning and having Chris press on my lower back as hard as he could with tennis balls. They were certainly getting more painful but I was still able to cope pretty easily. This was our only mistake. Instead of listening to my body, which wanted to be standing up and rocking side to side and listening to Chris, who's instincts told him that it was time to go to the hospital we stayed at home laying in bed.

At about 12:30 am I felt a pop and said, "What was that?!", then realized it was my water breaking. I jumped out of bed and rushed into the bathroom. My pants were soaked, but I managed not to get anything on the bed! Right after that I had the "bloody show" and the contractions ramped up to the point that all I could think of to get through them was to get into the shower. I fumbled around, managed to get the shower going, my clothes off and myself into the tub. I was barely coherent and started making a lot of noises like moaning and grunting.

Chris got on the phone to our doula Lynn and they decided she should come over. I started to feel the urge to push. He then called our midwife Lonnie and told her that my water had broken and that I felt like I needed to push. She could hear me moaning in the background and told us to go to the hospital right away and to call Lynn back and tell her to meet us there.

Chris got off the phone and tried to talk to me, but I was confused and only able to focus on what my body was doing. I was on auto-pilot and acting on instinct only. I didn't want to get out of the tub and I told him that I was going to have the baby right there. Chris asked me to look him in the eye and he told me that we had to leave for the hospital right away. He said I had to get out of the tub, get dressed and get going. Maybe it was the tone of his voice, but I knew I had to listen to him. I managed to get out of the tub and he helped me find clothes to put on and got me moving toward the car.

Chris hurriedly gathered together our bags and let the dogs out of their cage. We pulled out of the driveway and I said, "Did you block the dogs off from going upstairs?" We had left our bedroom and the bathroom in complete shambles and I didn't want the dogs getting into any trouble while we were away. Despite the fact that I was about to have the baby, I asked Chris to pull back into the driveway and go back inside to put up the barriers. When we got going again, Chris started heading in the wrong direction. I guess he was a little distracted! We went around the block and finally we were on our way. I was sitting up as straight as I could, my head practically touching the roof, gripping the hand-hold and chanting " don't push, don't push, don't push". Chris thought he might have to pull over and deliver the baby on the side of the road! He kept driving though, carefully running 3 red lights and we got to the hospital in record time at 1 am.

We pulled up to Emergency and parked in a spot for an ambulance. As we were getting out of the car, our doula Lynn was also arriving. We walked through the doors in a whirlwind of noise and energy and I immediately went to the wheelchairs to sit down for another contraction. I remember seeing all the people who were there stop what they were doing to watch us. A nurse asked a few questions and then took the wheelchair and started running full tilt to the maternity ward with Chris and Lynn not far behind.

When we got to Labor and Delivery there was no one around. We had to wait in the hallway for a few minutes. I stood up and put my arms around Chris's neck for a couple contractions. A security guard showed up looking for Chris and asked him to move the car. Chris said he wasn't leaving and handed the guy the keys and 10 bucks to move it for us. The guy ended up leaving the car where it was, but didn't bother us about it anymore.

Someone finally attended to us and got our room ready. Earlier our midwife had reserved the room with the tub for me but it looked like I wouldn't have time to use it. Once we got in there I immediately climbed onto the bed to have a contraction on my hands and knees. Our midwife Lonnie arrived then and I remember hearing the nurse tell her that I had the urge to push. Lonnie said, "Go ahead, she can push, I'm here now." She immediately did an internal exam and was surprised to find the baby's head "right there". She said I was fully dilated and the baby would be here soon. Everyone in the room kicked into high gear.

It took me a bit to get refocused. I had been spending the last half an hour trying not to push and letting all the energy out of my mouth by making a lot of noise. Lonnie let me squat for a bit, but it wasn't a very effective position for me at that moment, so she asked me to lay back. I ended up kind of sideways in the bed and on my back. Chris was on my left and Lynn was on my right with each of them holding up a leg. I was also holding their hands as tight as I could. Every time I pushed I could feel the baby come down a bit and then go back up. Lonnie told me to stop making so much noise. She said to close my mouth and redirect the energy down.

With the next couple contractions I pushed much better but the nurse had a monitor on me and the baby's heart rate started to drop down to 80 from 130 with each pushing contraction. Lonnie said I needed to get the baby out, it wasn't serious, but she would feel better if he were born and that I was so close. With a couple more good pushes the baby crowned. Lonnie asked me to reach down and feel it, but I was too focused and it was hurting too much! She used oil and gently stretched the tissues around the baby's head to help ease him out so I wouldn't tear too much, but to me it felt like she was running a metal instrument around the edges. I remember saying, "Ouch, ouch, ouch!" With the next contraction the head came out fully and then I felt his shoulders turn in my pelvic bones like a key and the rest of his body was delivered! Milo Jett was born at 1:55 am, a little less than an hour after we got to the hospital!

They placed him immediately on my belly and I put my right hand around his head and onto his back. I was still gripping Chris's hand with my left hand. It was amazing to look at our new baby. He came out with his eyes wide open and crying. Lonnie suctioned out his mouth, checked out his vitals and clamped the cord after a few minutes. Chris cut the cord and they took him off me for a minute to swaddle him, put on a hat and do his footprints. I delivered the placenta easily with one small push. Chris held him for a little bit and Lonnie gave me 2 stitches for a small tear.

They gave Milo back to me and Lynn helped me remove his blankets and get skin to skin with him so I could bond and breast-feed. It took him a little bit to latch on, but when he did he ate for a long time. Chris called all our close relatives to give them the wonderful news even though it was 3 am. After a while Lonnie came back to check on us. She told me that I did a great job, and that next time I aught to consider a home birth because I probably wouldn't make it to the hospital in time!

They moved us to the recovery room at about 3:30 am. The nurses came to our room to check his vitals and to finally weigh him. He weighed 7 lbs, 7 oz and was 20 inches long. Lynn stayed with us for a little bit longer to make sure that I was breast-feeding ok. Milo's core temperature was lower than what they like, so I kept him skin to skin on my chest to try to raise it up. Chris's parents had driven to the hospital despite the late hour to see us. They visited with us for a short time but couldn't really get a good look at the baby because I had him all covered in blankets. Chris's Mom had tears in her eyes the whole time she was there she was so happy for us. After they left the nurses came back to check his temperature but it had decreased further. They decided that he needed to go under the warmer in the nursery for 45 minutes to raise it up. While he was gone Chris and I marveled at everything that had just happened. It was so fast! We were so happy and felt so wonderful to have accomplished the birth of our son the way we wanted to: mostly at home, relatively quickly, without drugs or interventions and in awe of the power of giving birth.

Finally Milo was returned to our room and we fed him and held him and stared at him and fell completely in love. I don't think we slept until the next night we were on such a high. He is such a beautiful boy and we are so lucky to have him in our lives.

A Night in the Life of Baby Milo by Leslie

We had a pretty good night last night. I fed him at 11pm and rocked him to sleep. We went upstairs at 11:30 and put him in the cradle next to the bed. He woke up 2 hours later at 1:30 and I fed him but he had trouble getting back to sleep so I came downstairs and bounced on the yoga ball with him for a while. It really relaxes him and by 2:30 he was asleep again. I put him back in the cradle. He woke again at 4:30 and I changed his diaper and fed him laying down in bed, he went back to sleep easily next to me in our bed. I think I fed him again around 6 am while I was still half asleep. Then he woke up fully at 7am and I fed him and played with him (this includes holding him upright and talking to him quietly or letting him look around) in bed until 8am when I woke Chris and asked him to watch Milo so I could take a shower.

More Milo by Leslie

Milo has been with us for a week. Each day he changes. He's getting chubby, he's sleeping longer, he's awake longer, he eats more and he fills his diaper more.

It's been a week and we are still in awe of simply his presence in our lives. In some ways we feel like we haven't had a chance to breathe and just process everything that's happened, we've been on auto-pilot just taking care of things as they come up. The good thing though is that so far it hasn't really felt hard or over-whelming, it's just a different routine with different priorities.

We think he is just the greatest though. The way he smells, the chirping noises that he makes, his crossed-eyed blurry stare, how floppy he is in a milk-coma, his charming two dimple smiles when he sleeps, the happy look on his face when I pick him up, the way he bobs his head when he is hungry, how easily we can calm him down after something distressing like a diaper change. I even think the things that are not so great are great. When he cries I feel so bad for him, but I like to hear the sound of his voice. When he wakes me up in the middle of the night to eat I feel so lucky and happy to get to  cuddle with him. It's been fun this week, getting to know him and figure out how he fits into our lives.

Fun things we have done with Milo:
- Listened to static on the radio to calm him down
- Walked laps around the house to get him to sleep
- Napped all together in our bed
- Gone for a drive to Dairy Queen (Dilly bars are good for my milk aren't they?), the hospital (for his hearing test which checked out fine), the pediatrician ("He's gained weight already!!?), the midwives (Did you really get to the hospital fully dilated?) and Babies R Us (He stayed in the car with Chris to avoid all the germy kids).
- Stared into his eyes and wondered about the future
- Played the guitar for him
- Kissed, nibbled and smelled him
- Examined him for marks (there are none)
- Sponge bathed him
- Dressed him in cute outfits

He's Here! by Leslie

Milo Jett was born on May 21st at 1:55 am. He weighed 7 lbs, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long. We got home from the hospital last night and are busy feeding him and trying to get some sleep. He gets cuter by the minute though and loving him isn't hard. I'll post more soon with details about the labor, but it was a short 9 hours and we arrived at the hospital fully dilated and I was already pushing. Chris had to run a few red lights but we got there at 1 am and he was born just 55 minutes later.

Thanks for everyone's emails, I won't be able to get back to you all individually but we love to hear from you.

Time's Almost Up by Leslie

Well, here I am 9 months pregnant. My due date is two weeks from today and I could deliver anytime between now and 2 weeks after my due date. Due dates are rarely accurate, only 4% of women deliver on them, most first time moms deliver around a week later. If he is born a week early (on or before the 20th) he will be a Taurus instead of a Gemini, and if I deliver 4 days late, he will share my Dad's birthday. I hope the baby will consider these things when he decides when to arrive.

Every time we call someone, they think it is "The Call" and they get very excited and ask if I am in labor. Trust me people, if I am in labor, I'm probably not going to be calling you. But don't worry, you'll get the happy news just as soon as we can get the word out. I've also been getting more calls from friends and family, checking in to see how everything is going and wanting to know how I am feeling. I love to hear from everyone! It's such an exciting time.

Chris and I keep looking at each other and squealing, "He could be here any day now! We're not ready!!!". But we are totally ready. We really couldn't be more ready. At this point I am making up reasons to visit Babies R Us. Today I bought more safety pins and decided to get the A+D ointment in a jar even though I already have it in a tube (I figure it'll be easier to handle an open jar when there is a squirmy naked baby in front of me). It's pretty ridiculous, but it's nice to get out of the house and keep myself busy.

I've been having crazy dreams about labor too. Last night in my dream my water broke and they had to open the doors of the room to let the flood out. They are always very exaggerated, but each one somehow makes me feel more comfortable with the idea of labor and more confident that it's going to be amazing.

I've been practicing Hypnobirthing over the last few weeks too and that has really helped to make me feel very calm, relaxed and focused. We are just patiently waiting for a sign that things are beginning.

I have a feeling that I will not deliver until about a week after my due date. We shall see...anyone care to guess a date? If you make your predictions in the comments, and I deliver on that date, I promise to send you something or other as a reward!

Recent Good Things (in no particular order) by Leslie

Stylish Sweatpants by Victoria's Secret.

The delicious Chicken Melt at Kevin's Thyme in Ho Ho Kus.

Panang Curry at Ridge Thai in Ridgewood.

Nothing beats the fresh foods at Whole Foods, and I am particularly in love with the new separate Whole Body shop that just opened in Ridgewood.

Magazine Subscriptions: Child, Cookie, Dwell, Eye and Interior Design.

Cheap cool clothes for kids at Old Navy.

In the garden: Rhododendrons (flowering evergreen bush), Clematis (flowering vine) and Dahlias (in pots).

The Container Store.

Shining City on Broadway.

Turkey Hill Green Tea with ginseng and honey.

Luella Cherry-Print Pancake bag.

Planet of the Apes box set.

A bunch of new books and music.

The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel (thanks Leila). Cesar Millan is the king of dogs.

Walking with the dogs at Ramapo Reservation.

Love True Blue stamps from the US postal service.

Survivor and CSI on Thursdays.

All About the Baby by Leslie

So here we are in May, the month the baby is due. I am full term now, meaning that if the baby were born he would not be premature. We had a midwife appointment today and he's growing well and is around 6 pounds. If I gain the average half pound a week for the last month and deliver on my due date he will be at least 8 pounds! He's in the ideal position, head down and facing my back (anterior) along my left side. Things really couldn't be going much better. Despite the occasional discomfort, breathlessness and impeded movement I really enjoy being pregnant, but I can't wait to meet him, look him in the eye and give him a thousand kisses.

We are now mostly ready for his arrival. In the last week and half we have gotten so much done. It was great to have my Mom here to help me (and bond with the baby). The NJ shower was a wonderful party (thanks to Maddy, Gloria and Siobhan) and we received lots of great gifts that we needed. Everyone was so generous and not only showered us with gifts but also compliments and lots of belly rubs.

My Mom and I were very busy after the shower sorting through everything and washing all the clothes, towels, bibs, burpies, sheets and blankets. We spent an entire afternoon doing laundry and marveling at all the little socks and outfits. We went to Babies R Us and got everything left on the registry and went to IKEA and figured out the lighting & window shades for the baby's room. It was so fun to do these things with my Mom and I was grateful to have the one-on-one time and to share this experience in person with her.

After my Mom left I set up the changing table, finished washing the clothes and putting them away and redid the FLOR tiles for the area rug. I found the House Pet texture too scratchy for the baby's room so we moved them to the front hall and I returned the Solid Ground texture which collected lint. I ordered more of the softer and more forgiving Toy Poodle texture in different colors. Chris and I installed the lights: 3 frosted glass cubes set into 3 sections of the shelf and 2 hanging paper lanterns. They are all on dimmers so that in the middle of the night we can

keep the light low. We hung the window shades, the Zid Zid Kids wall hanging and the mobiles that we found at Ting's Gift Shop in Chinatown. Once the rocking chair arrives, the room is finished!

Chris went to the police station and double checked that he installed the car seat correctly (he did) and we are now pre-registered at the hospital and are seeing the midwives once a week. It's just amazing to think that he could be here in only 2 weeks! But of course it's far more likely that he will be here in about 5 weeks, so I am focusing on the longer amount of time so I don't get impatient.

5 Weeks To Go and Counting!! (That's only 35 more days!) by Leslie

We had our Brooklyn baby shower. We had such a great time with all our friends and got some really cool gifts. We played a funny game called "Baby's Coming Bingo". We had to find words like "nipple", "dribbling" and "baby bunting".

It was my last day of work today and I am really looking forward to focusing on baby things, getting my body and mind ready and resting over the next few weeks. I really feel like I am in the home stretch now with work behind me for now and motherhood ahead.

My Mom is coming to visit on Friday and I am so excited that she is coming for a few days and that she gets to rub my belly. It will be nice to share this with her. I saw her last at Christmas when I was just barely showing. She will also get to come to my New Jersey shower on Sunday and revel in her first-time grandma-to-be status.

The baby's room is coming together. We were gifted our dream crib, the Oeuf and the matching dresser/changing table, that's Chris in the photo above putting it together. Instead of a traditional rug we got carpet tiles and created a patchwork area rug with different colored pieces. We also got Dwell's Robin motif crib bedding and our dream stroller, also a gift, the Bugaboo. There are tiny clothes in the closet and we moved the big IKEA shelf from the living room and filled it with books, toys and dolls.

We still have some critical things to do, like pack for the hospital, wash all the clothes and blankets, find a decent rocking chair, fill out hospital & insurance paperwork, write out our birth plan, get blinds for the windows, take our hypnobirthing classes, install the car seat and get lighting and artwork for the baby's room. I will be working on these things in the next 2 weeks so they all should be done very soon in case anything happens early.

We are almost there! It's time to meet this kid! Stay tuned.

Growing Up Modern by Leslie

Check out the New York magazine article "Up With Grups". I suppose that Chris and I fit into this stereotype and it was interesting to read about others who approach life and having a family in some of the same ways that we do. Though we don't buy jeans designed to fall apart and view our kids as accessories, we did go see Death Cab for Cutie play in the city and have recently been gifted The Ramones and Blondie onesies for our baby. I guess what we liked best about the article was the idea that we aren't going to change much just because we are having kids. Rather than let our child take over our lives he will simply be an addition that will fit in just perfectly with how we do things.

I'm sure as he gets older he will be introducing us to things that he learns from friends as much as we are teaching things to him, but hopefully it won't be Barney, ridiculous music and waking up at 5am. I figure if we can find things that are better, he won't even know the difference. Who wouldn't want to stay in pajama's all day in bed watching Totoro, or do a kids program at the MoMA and then check out interesting music in Central Park?

Chris and I have talked about this before, so it was encouraging to read about people who are doing it too and are managing to raise kids that they like to spend time with, that have a unique sense of self and who may or may not grow up to be like us.

A Great Start: What We Learned in Our Bradley Childbirth Classes by Leslie

It's difficult to summarize our Bradley childbirth classes. I could easily do a point by point of all the things that we learned about pregnancy, labor, delivery, childcare and breastfeeding during our 20 hours of classes, but that wouldn't capture the profound experience that it was.

In the first emails that I exchanged with Pauline she challenged Chris and I to think carefully about the choices that we were making. She gave us information and the support we needed at the beginning of the pregnancy, months before our classes started, to begin building a network of professionals that would guide us through this process in a way that has felt nurturing, honest and respectful of our own preferences.

Once classes started they quickly became the highlight of our week. We met 3 other couples and each week we got to know them all a little better during our nightly snack break. There was something so comforting about being with other couples going through the same things that we were, at almost the same time, and who had also made many of the same decisions that we had made. It amazed all of us how much skepticism and cynicism we faced when we mentioned Bradley Method and natural childbirth (without pain medication and unnecessary intervention) to people we knew. We were strengthened by each other and the knowledge that we weren't alone in thinking that there must be a better way to birth our children than to give up our power and allow nurses and doctors to intervene in a natural process that has the potential to be fearless, calm and something other than what you see on TV or hear from most people. We also knew that even though we had not been through it yet, we had the knowledge and the power to do everything we could to have it the way we wanted it, and we reminded each other not to listen when people would say to us that we would be screaming for the epidural eventually.

We learned from Pauline exercises that we could do to keep our bodies strong (do your kegels!) and manage the discomforts of pregnancy like lower back pain, healthy food choices to keep our systems balanced and to avoid many common pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preclampsia (high blood pressure), and relaxation techniques that we could use during pregnancy to get in touch with our unborn babies and during labor to stay calm and focused on opening up and allowing nature to take it's course.

Of course, labor cannot be controlled, but by learning the truth about epidurals, interventions like Pitocin, induction and breaking of the waters (they can all hinder or complicate labor), how to cope with a labor that does not proceed according to the hospitals schedule with position changes, movement and water, and how to create a safe, relaxing environment at home for as long as possible and eventually at the hospital, we were able to understand that we can affect the course of our labor and do a lot more than one might think to avoid situations where we might feel uncomfortable.

We also learned ways to work with our bodies so that labor doesn't have to be painful. If you are fearful and tense and you fight labor, even unconsciously, it will hurt. But if you: learn how to relax, breath slowly and deeply, visualize your body opening up, move around to help the baby into position, get your partner involved by massaging and speaking encouraging words, listen to soothing music, find a rhythm, meditate, vocalize, get in the shower or tub, trust your body and listen to your body to help it do what it needs to, there is a really good chance that you will not need pain medication. There is a place for epidurals though, so no one should feel bad for getting one, but our goal is to do it without. My reasons are simply to not mess with a natural process, to stay as mobile and in tune with my body as possible, and to avoid the risks associated with epidurals. Narcotics however, are completely out of the question.

I think the most important thing that we learned is that all labors are different and all labors end up differently than you might expect. Keeping an open mind and being flexible to the process will be extremely important and making informed decisions will help us to feel in control and empowered. I look forward to discovering what my labor will be like, and I know that however it turns out, it will be the most rewarding journey of my life.

Here is a photo of me on the day I was born. I aspire to have a labor and delivery just like my Mom (see her comments on this post for details.)

My Mom and I just 2.5 hours after I was born.

Sorting Through the Junk by Leslie

To prepare for you know who, Chris and I have been busy rearranging the house and getting organized. Bags and bags of stuff have been purged from this house over the last six months. Hundreds of dollars have been made on Ebay. Papers have been consolidated, sorted and re-filed. Cards written in 1992 have been re-read, shared and put in a new box. Old wallpaper has been found behind the radiator, marveled at, then thrown away. Objects have been considered; junk or treasure? trash or donation? valuable or worthless?

It's easy in a house with plenty of room to let things pile up. Have you ever watched Clean Sweep on TLC? It amazes me what people keep and how they let their junk take over the space so they can't even use it anymore. I like to collect stuff, but I can recognize junk when I see it and toss it out if I don't use it or need it. I love the moment on the show when it becomes emotional. The host always says at some point "It's not about the stuff, it's about your relationship." He's very serious. Someone usually cries and then there is a revelation and a group hug. And there it is, sorting through your junk and getting rid of stuff is good therapy.

In our case it's preparing us physically, but also mentally, for this big change in our lives. Not only are we making room for this new person in our house, but we are reviewing the past and looking ahead to the future. It's pretty amazing actually. I am even considering getting a fireproof safe to store things that I wouldn't want to lose, things that I want the baby to have, papers and photos that document our history.

So it is not only with an empty, freshly painted room, new furniture and lots of empty shelves that we welcome this new person to start adding to the stuff, but it is also with a clear look at ourselves and an understanding of who we are and what we want to teach our children to value.

Seven Months Portrait by Leslie

It's way too late for me to be still awake, but I wanted to post this before I went to bed. Here's my belly after seven and a half months! I had to take out my belly button ring, it was getting too tight, so now I have a funny little hole. I've had the ring for over 10 years, so I think my belly button now looks a bit naked. I guess the size of my belly makes up for it. It's amazing how much it's grown!

We had another good check-up last week. My blood work for gestational diabetes came back normal and the baby is growing very well and is within the averages. 

On Friday we saw V for Vendetta in New York and we really enjoyed it. Chris had just read the entire trade paperback of the original comic and so he was really familiar with the story. He said they changed some key stuff but that the spirit of the original series was still present. The most amazing thing though was that the volume was so loud that during the climax fight scene the baby started freaking out! He was kicking frantically and I could sense that he was a bit panicked at all the noise. I covered my belly with my jacket and tried to muffle the sound and calm him by shushing. The poor little guy! When the movie finally finished my stomach was rock hard and I needed to get out of the crowd and find a quiet place to sit down and relax by taking deep breaths. It was so weird and I felt bad! I got tears in my eyes thinking about how he must have felt in there. I guess from now on everything we do will involve that little guy!

On Saturday Chris moved furniture into the office to clear out the baby's room while I rested. I helped a little, but I'm trying to be careful not to strain anything and of course Chris won't let me lift anything heavy. Our doula Lynn came over for our first prenatal meeting in the late afternoon. She was here for 3.5 hours and we covered lots of good stuff like ideal positions to help the baby get into the right spot, concerns about the birth, our history, ways I like to relax, when to call her when we are in labor, what to expect. It's all very exciting and I look forward to discovering my labor story.

On Sunday we had brunch in the city with friends at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. It was the first time that I noticed so many people staring at me. I guess I'm pretty obviously pregnant. It's funny how people stare though, some are nice with little smiles and you can see them admiring the belly, but others just feel rude and almost intrusive. Then we went to Destination Maternity where I got a couple new outfits. They just opened the flag ship store in NY. It has 3 different maternity clothing lines, a spa and lots of other cool things.

We had our last Bradley childbirth class tonight and I'll miss going every week. We are going for 2 more sessions with Pauline in May though to learn about Hypnobirthing, but that will be on our own and not with the other couples. It's been a great course and I'm so glad that we did it. I'll post more about the course and the things that we learned soon.

The Good, the Bad and the Belly by Leslie

I entered the third and last trimester on March 3rd. This brings much relief that if the baby were to be born now, he has a good chance of surviving, and every day that goes by he is more prepared for life outside my womb.

I have been experiencing a lot more movement. The baby is still small enough to be rolling around and changing positions frequently. He often startles me or jabs me in the bladder when I have to pee. Sometimes it feels like he kicks me just so I will change positions to give him more room. Most of the time though it is wonderful to feel him moving around. Today he was gently pressing out with his foot or hand and I pushed back and told him that I felt him in there, then he kicked hard as if he heard me! If I can feel his back, a long solid shape across my belly, I will rub it like I'm giving him a massage and usually I feel the shape melt away as he moves into another position. I like to think that he likes feeling me touching him.

My belly is certainly bigger. Strangers don't hesitate to ask me when my due date is anymore and the guy at the bagel shop even put his ear up to my belly, that was weird. On the one hand I enjoy the attention and feeling like I am a divine creature, but on the other hand people tend to use it as a reason to tell you about difficult labors and how your whole life is going to change, implying for the worst. Advice to those who already have children: resist the urge to tell new parents how much things will suck and try to focus on the things that you love about pregnancy, labor/delivery and being a parent. I've met so few people who just say, "it's amazing and you will love it."

Getting comfortable is now something I have to work at. No longer can I jump into bed, scoot under the sheets and twist myself into a comfy position. Now I have to ease myself into bed, carefully lay down, slowly roll to my side, arrange my four pillows, lift myself up to put my arm behind me, pull one pillow closer and wedge it under my chest so the muscle between my ribs doesn't hurt and finally take some deep breaths to relax from all the exertion, and that's when the baby decides to start kicking. This whole routine must be repeated after every bathroom visit, which has increased to about twice a night.

During the day it's a little better, since I am moving around more I am able to make more adjustments, but there are other challenges like getting dressed, bending over to put on socks and shoes and getting in and out of the car. Sitting on the couch is OK if I have a pillow behind my back and I stay pretty upright. Once I find a good position though I am loath to move, so I have been asking Chris to fetch me things more often and the dogs have to cover themselves with blankets. Usually Robin cries at me to do it for her, but lately I have been unwilling to get up, so she has had to use a neat move where she noses the blanket and pulls it over her when she lays down. Our recliner is a great place for me to sit, it allows me to stretch out my belly so the baby isn't squished, my feet are elevated but not so much that they fall asleep and with a pillow behind my back I can stay there quite comfortably for a while with my laptop on my lap.

Other complaints I have include having to avoid tomatoes and oranges to prevent heartburn, not being able to eat very much at one sitting, feeling hungry and full at the same time, aches and pains in places I have never noticed before (like under my ribs and my pelvic area), not being able to think about anything other than labor and the baby, lack of energy and motivation to do anything besides watching TV, updating my blog and making lists of things to do, asking Chris to do more things for me and feeling overwhelmed at all the stuff we still have to do.

All the complaints are nothing though compared to the fact that I have had a wonderful pregnancy so far and I feel thrilled to be at this moment in my life. It's something that I have been thinking about for years and in a lot of ways it is going by too quickly! I am trying to enjoy every moment and be fully present in every day. I love being able to slow things down a bit and practice relaxing and feeling peaceful. I love taking good care of myself and seeing my body change. I'm proud of the fact that I haven't gained a lot of extra weight and that everyone tells me I am carrying well.

I'm lucky that I have such a wonderful husband and I love all the new people I have met because of this experience. I am really looking forward to everything that is to come, this part is just the beginning.