Friday, May 29, 2009

Baby Preparations

I should be working on course prep for the fall so I am not so overwhelmed come August, but I'm not. Instead I'm marveling at all we've done in the past 2 weeks to get prepared for Z's arrival. Here's a rundown of some of the things we've done.
  • Washed and organized all baby clothes.
  • Organized coat closet.
  • Replaced the heater in her room with a more energy efficient model (the one drawback of our townhome is that it uses baseboard heaters that are about 20 years old. Given the makeup of the house, installing a furnace or central heat isn't an option, so we're slowly replacing the old heaters with more energy efficient ones.)
  • Purchased bottles, bath products, changing pad, wipes, and nursing pads.
  • Pulled breast pump and all related items, pack n'play, infant car seat, and infant bath tub out of storage.
  • Disinfected everything that needs to be disinfected.
  • Put infant car seat in car.
  • Set up pack n'play in living room, where Z will nap and we will change her (rather than walking upstairs every time she needs to be changed).
  • Purchased used Baby Bjorn (the one with back support).
  • Packed Z's diaper bag and put it in the car.
  • Begun packing my bag for hospital.
  • Made arrangements for Wild Man for when I go into labor.
  • Cooked and frozen about 12 meals.
C has done a lot of home improvement projects that aren't necessarily related to Z's arrival, but they are projects that needed to be done before she got here (or else they wouldn't get done until who knows when.)
  • Replaced floor trim in bathroom.
  • Painted upstairs hallway.
  • Replaced floor trim in upstairs hallway.
  • Painted all bedroom and closet doors.
  • Replaced doorknobs on all bedroom and closet doors.
  • Painted downstairs hallway.
We've done all of these things while C has been working on an article and I've been completing the revisions mandated by my committee (which, I freely admit, I'm completing at a snail's pace). We're also making a concerted effort to do some special things with Wild Man, including going to the Farmer's Market (he loves the Farmer's Market!), getting ice cream (ok, this is more about me than him, but I never met a 2-year-old who turned down ice cream), planting flowers, and going to the park. He has even helped C paint and helped me put Z's clothes away. I honestly feel like I could go into labor now without worrying about anything. And that, of course, means that Z will be a week late.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Naming Z

I'm 37 weeks pregnant today, which makes me officially full term. And we still don't have a name for Z. We have a list, but if she were born today, I have no idea what we would name her. To make things more difficult, C recently announced he didn't like the middle name we had agreed upon months ago, which is the feminine version of his name. I was sort of flabbergasted because I had become invested in this particular name for lots of reasons. It is simple, classic, and goes with every name on our list. As a bonus, if we end up naming Z one of the more outlandish names on our list (at least one is fairly unusual, by my standards), this middle name would be perfectly suitable as a first name, should she ever want to use it as such. Apparently, C feels that I just picked the name without consulting him all that much, and he would prefer not to give the baby any version of his name at all. As he reminded me, he is the first man in his family not to name his first born son after himself in, oh, about 6 generations; so why would he want to give his daughter the feminine version of his name? Ok, I get this, and to be totally honest, I only pointed out that this was the feminine version of his name because I like it so much and I thought telling him that would sell him on it. I guess I was wrong. It seems Z's middle name will be in honor of C's grandmother. To be completely honest again, this isn't a name I particularly like (and the fact that C's mother has been lobbying for its use since before I was pregnant with Wild Man probably doesn't help my opinion of it). That said, Wild Man is named after my grandfather, so I don't think I can tell C, "Um, nope, don't want to name our daughter after your grandmother!"

I think C's decision about Z's middle name is what has thrown me for a loop. Prior to that, I had one name on our list that I really loved, but now, with the new middle name, I don't like it so much. I'm hoping that we will look at her and know what her name is, but something is telling me this little one might not have a name for a while.

**Edited to add: I actually proposed using my preferred middle name as Z's first name combined with C's grandmother's name for Z's middle name. He nixed that idea immediately.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Birthday

My birthday is less than 2 weeks away. Yesterday C asked me what I wanted to do. He offered to hire a babysitter for Wild Man so that we can also celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary, which is on June 24, about a week after Z's due date. But I truly have no idea what I want to do. I mean, a romantic evening would be really nice, but honestly, at 38 weeks pregnant (which is what I'll be on my birthday), I doubt I'll be feeling very romantic. . .

I guess I better come up with something so C isn't disappointed.

Job update

I got word yesterday that I will, in fact, be teaching a full year course for the English Department this coming year. That means I will be gainfully employed for both the fall and spring semesters next year. This is a big relief, financially. But more to the point, I'm thrilled to be teaching for the English Department at CU. I feel like this is a much better department fit for me, and now I can begin getting to know the people in the department. This is the department I'd prefer to be hired in to if we're able to negotiate a tenure-track job for me. And bonus: I get to teach as Dr. M for the first time ever!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

36 weeks

I am officially 36 weeks pregnant today. 1 more week and Z will be considered full term. I suppose I ought to think about throwing some stuff in a bag for the hospital . . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Z's Dual Citizenship

I've been doing some research on how to secure Z's dual citizenship, and it seems that the process will be much more complicated than either C or I had anticipated. I mistakenly assumed that since C and I are both U.S. citizens we would only have to fill out some lengthy form to apply for Z's U.S. citizenship. Nope, not so. It turns out we will have to make at least one (and quite possibly two) trips to the nearest U.S. consulate to apply for Z's U.S. citizenship. The first appointment will take a minimum of 2 hours and will require us to load both kids in the car for a 2 hour drive. Z will be fairly easy to manage, but I can't imagine Wild Man will enjoy such a day--2 hours in the car, followed by a 2 hour appointment in which he will expected to be quiet, and then another 2 hours in the car. Oh, yes, I see Wild Man really enjoying that day. To complicate matters somewhat, we'll need to do this fairly soon after Z's birth as we're traveling to Southwest College Town in August to attend my graduation. We will need apply for her citizenship and her U.S. passport at the same time to ensure her passport comes through. We could just get her a Canadian passport, but it seems to make more sense to go ahead and get her a U.S. passport.

One more thing to figure out. . .

Monday, May 18, 2009


I have a lot to get done in the next 2 weeks or so, and a lot of it involves nesting. I need to pull out all of Wild Man's baby things and get them organized. I also need to organize the massive amounts of clothes Z already has. Between C's mom, my sister, and our very generous friends, this girl has a lot of clothes. On top of that I need to figure out what essentials we still need to purchase so we have everything ready when she arrives. Given the number of Braxton-Hicks contractions I've been having, I decided to go ahead and pack her bag for the hospital, so that is one thing that is done. I do, however, need to throw some things in a bag for me.

On top of that, I want to get a few more meals in the freezer. My sister came to visit this weekend, and we spent a good portion of yesterday and today cooking. We've made some headway there. C has also been wrapping up lots of little home improvement projects, including installing new shelving in Z's closet. We're slowly getting there, but I have to admit I don't really believe in nesting. I'm doing all of this because it has to be done, not because I feel some overwhelming urge to do it. In fact, I'd be quite happy if none of this had to be done at all! I know lots of women who feel the urge to nest, but I'm just not one of them. I'd honestly rather sit on the couch with a glass of lemonade and a good book right now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wild Man and Baby Z

We've been talking a lot about Baby Z's impending arrival these days, and I think Wild Man is starting to understand that we will have a baby in the house soon. We've put up the bedding and hung curtains in Z's room, something that didn't make him very happy. In fact, the day C did all this Wild Man announced that the crib is his bed and that the baby will have to sleep elsewhere. He and I talked about sleeping arrangements yesterday, and it seems that C will be taking the brunt of Wild Man's frustrations. Wild Man has determined that Z will sleep in her "basket" (we bought a moses basket on a rocker for her to use while she sleeps in our room), C will sleep in the crib, I will sleep in mine and C's bed, and Wild Man will either sleep in his bed or in "Mommy's bed." When I asked him if he thought his dad would fit in the crib, he reconsidered and grudgingly said, "Daddy sleep with Mommy."

Yesterday at dinner Wild Man asked if Z will nurse at my nu-nus (his word for breasts, which he came up with all on his own). C decided to handle this one, and said yes, Z will nurse just like you did. Wild Man pondered this and then asked "Will the baby chew Mommy's nu-nus?" I tried desperately not to laugh, but I barely managed to avoid spitting my water all over C. C explained that babies don't have teeth, so they just nurse, either their mommys' breasts or from a bottle. Wild Man then declared, "Baby Z eat my nu-nus." I think we're making progress, but I'm not 100% sure.

This weekend we're going to show him the pictures of the three of us at the hospital following his birth. We're hoping this will make him understand a little better what's going on. C also told him that our good friends Megs and Solon with their girls Jeezy and Lion Cub will be coming for a visit around the time Z is scheduled to arrive. This news ended all serious conversations about Z as Wild Man couldn't stop talking about Jeezy and Solon. So, Megs, if you're reading this, you better prepare Jeezy: Wild Man is going to show her how to dig for worms in our backyard. He said he can't show Lion Cub because she's too little.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

35 weeks and counting

I'm officially 35 weeks pregnant today. 2 more weeks and I'll be considered full term. Baby Z is very active, kicking and rolling a lot. I'm also starting to feel a lot of pressure in my hips and pelvis. Last night, I had to turn over bedtime duty to C so that I could go lie down in an attempt to stop all the Braxton-Hicks contractions I was having. C is betting that Z will not make it to her due date; in fact, he's certain she won't wait until June. As for me, my mommy intuition is telling me she'll be a bit early, but I'm not counting on that. C has predicted she'll be early so many times that I think she may just decide to hang out to prove her father wrong. I certainly hope she waits two more weeks, at which point she'll be considered full term. Beyond that, I know she'll come when she's ready.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Visitors, or Why I'm not sure I want my mom to visit

Now that I have defended (and should be completing my fairly minor revisions), I feel like I can think about Z's arrival, which is about 5 weeks away, give or take. I'm getting a bit stressed out, and I'm not sure how to combat or even to deal with that stress. I'm not worried about having a second child. Ok, let me try that again. I feel like C and I know what to do with a newborn. As I've blogged countless times, Wild Man was a difficult newborn. His inablity to sleep more than 45 minutes a time for 2 months combined with his colic and with the fact that C's dad died less than 24 hours after Wild Man was born made his first few months incredibly stressful. Given that experience, I feel like we will be up for the challenge of a newborn in a few weeks. C and I have already talked about handling the workload and how we will divide responsibilities, especially night duty. Since I'll be nursing, I'll take the night shift, which means he'll have to get up with Wild Man so that Z and I can sleep in a bit. We're hoping Wild Man's schedule won't get disrupted too much, but we've talked about things enough that I feel fairly confident that we'll be able to manage.

We're expecting quite a few visitors in the weeks following Z's birth, and I'm not altogether certain how I feel about visitors. My mom will come first, and she'll stay with us for 2 weeks. Now, I don't blog about my mom a lot for a variety of reasons, the primary being that my feelings about my mother are so conflicted that it is just easier to complain about C's mom than it is to confront my feelings about my mom. How's that one for honest? If I had had Z and Wild Man 10 years ago, I would not have been stressed at all about my mom's visit. 10 years ago I could have told her to take over cooking and entertaining Wild Man, and I would have been confident in her abilities to do so. But my mom has changed drastically in the past 10 years. She has always struggled with depression, and about 5 years ago she was diagnosed as bi-polar 2. This means that she has the highs and lows associated with bi-polar, but that her mood fluctuations are easier to predict and they don't require her to be hospitalized. It took me a long time to come to terms with this diagnosis, and it took me even longer to come to terms with my mom's way of coping. She has avoided therapy in favor of a traditional psychiatrist, whom she sees once a month. She is on a number of medications, and they change quite frequently. In the first 3 years following her diagnosis (which included the year Wild Man was born), my mom also believed she suffered from panic attacks.

Rather than try to determine what caused the panic attacks and figure out how to cope with them without medication, my mom elected to take medication. Some days she would take as many as 4 pills in her attempt to get her panic attacks to stop. She was open about this and never understood why I (and my sister) was totally aghast at this. Well, I've suffered from panic attacks, and I was on an anti-anxiety medication for about 6 months while I learned, with the help of a therapist, how to manage my anxiety. I learned what sorts of things would trigger a panic attack and I developed ways of dealing with the anxiety that did not include medication. When I saw my mom pop 4 pills in the span of an hour, I was seriously disturbed. As a result of all the medication she was taking my mom became rather like a zombie. She was listless, inattentive, constantly tired, and not really present. This was in stark contrast to the mom I grew up with, who was constantly on the go, talkative, empathetic, and very present. My mom on anti-anxiety medication was not my mom, and I really mourned the loss of this person. About a year and a half ago, after my dad, my brother, my sister, and I had had many conversations about Mom's mental health and I argued that she needed to consult a new psychiatrist because I truly believed she was overmedicated or self-medicating, my dad observed my mom in the throes of what she called a panic attack. She said her chest hurt, but she wasn't distressed in any other way. My dad and I had recently had a lenghthy conversation about the symptoms I suffered from while I was having a panic attack--shortness of breath, inability to sit still, tightness in my chest and arms, among other tings--and he noticed she wasn't having any of these symptoms. When she asked him to bring him her medicine, he instead brought her seltzer water. He told her to drink as much as she could in 2 minutes and see what happened. He said if she didn't start feeling better then he'd get her pills. Amazingly my mom did as he asked; after she chugged the soda, she let out this amazing burp and said she felt better. The next day my dad drug my mom to her GP, who ran some tests. Her panic attacks were, in fact, a tear in her esophagus; my mom had severe heartburn. Her psychiatrist took away her anti-axiety meds, and slowly my mom started to come back. She is not the same as she was when I was younger, but she is certainly more present. She continues to have her good days and her bad days, but mostly she has good days.

I shared all this for a few reasons. First, I'm still trying to come to terms with my mom's diagnosis. Second, Wild Man was born in the midst of all this, about 9 months before my dad figured out my mom didn't have panic attacks, but that she was abusing her anti-axiety meds. She stayed with us for 2 weeks then, with the result being that I was caring for 2 infants. Mom would cry at the drop of a hat, or she'd sit on the couch and stare off into space for an hour at a time. Needless to say, she wasn't much help, and I was glad when she left. Her behavior was so disturbing to C that he refused to leave Wild Man alone in her care, and I found that I couldn't really argue with him given her level of awareness at the time.

Since then I feel like my mom has come back, at least mostly. She is still slow (literally, physically slow), and she still does things very methodically. It takes her a long time to complete the most ordinary tasks, like folding laundry or making dinner. She has no awareness of the outside world, as she prefers to watch reruns of "Law and Order" over the news. She is still not the take charge woman who mothered me. Instead when she visits, which is rare, she asks for instruction on everything--how to make Wild Man's breakfast, what clothes he should wear, what games he likes to play. While some of these questions are understandable, my mom doesn't ask them just once, but every time I ask her to do something for Wild Man. I'm concerned she will be no help after Z's birth and that I will find myself resenting her presence and trying to control my anger toward her--unsuccessfully. The truth of the matter is that I desperately miss my mother, or the person that I remember my mother to be. And that is the person that I want to show up after Z is born: the woman who did things without asking, the woman who was in charge and whom no one questioned, the woman who took care of me. Instead, I'm afraid this new mother will show up, the one I don't really know how to deal with, the one that I end up parenting. I'm afraid this visit will go very much like the visit following Wild Man's birth, where I found myself crying in the bathroom while I held my newborn. I wasn't crying out of depression or exhaustion; I was crying because I missed my mom, even though she was just downstairs. I know that I will have less patience with this visit because this time, I have two children to care for. My mom's ostensible purpose during this visist is to care for Wild Man, to play with him, and to keep him entertained while I care for Z and C takes care of the house. As excited as I was when she made her reservations, I am now deeply regretting asking her to stay for 2 weeks.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I got home yesterday, although I left Southwest College Town on Saturday. C surprised me by reserving a hotel room for us on Saturday night, which meant we didn't have to drive back to CU Land on Saturday night. The three of us had a nice dinner and hung out in the hotel room. Then yesterday we went shopping and had a nice lunch before driving back to CU Land. It was a quiet, relaxing day, which is exactly what the three of us needed after being apart for almost a week. I have to say, seeing Wild Man run to me from across the airport was just as wonderful as hearing my adviser say I'd passed my defense. He proudly presented me with a Mother's Day present--a very pretty bead bracelet that he'd made himself at school. As wonderful as it was to be with all of my friends and to defend, it was more wonderful to be back with my boys again. Wild Man and I are spending the day together, and then tomorrow, I get back to work. I'm giving myself 2 weeks to finish all my revisions, although I'm hoping it will take less time. Then C and I begin the arduous task of organizing closets and making other final preparations for Z's arrival. Only 5 1/2 weeks to go. . .

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I passed!

That sums it up for now. I have lots of thoughts on the defense itself, but for now, I'm exhausted, literally and mentally--although I'm also oddly energized mentally. I received lots of great feedback at the defense, and I am excited to put a lot of the suggestions into my dissertation. Luckily none of the revisions are major, at least not for the dissertation. I got lots of great suggestions for "the book," and overall, the defense itself went much smoother than I ever could have anticipated.

Everyone warned me that it would feel oddly anti-climatic, but I have to say, it feels pretty good.

By 4:30 this afternoon. . .

I will have defended my dissertation.

It feels very weird to be having this experience, and it feels doubly weird to have it while C and Wild Man are in CU Land. They are the ones I most want to see at 4:30. I will have to settle for dinner out with my adviser at a fairly swanky restaurant, followed by a small party of some of my best friends tomorrow--including a dear friend who is defending this morning. C has dropped enough hints for me to know he has something planned for my return, but not enough that I have been able to figure it out. . .

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Annoying children

I wrote this yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to post it until today.

Ok, so I’m a mom, and I have taken Wild Man on many, many plane rides. I understand how difficult it can be to keep an infant quiet or to keep a toddler occupied. Generally, I’m sympathetic to the kids and parents, especially when the parent is traveling alone on a long flight with his or her child. But if the little girl behind me kicks my seat one more time, I think I’m going to rip her foot off. I’ve been trying to work on my defense presentation for the duration of the flight, and on more than one occasion I’ve found myself typing snippets of the very loud conversation that mother and daughter are having. I’m getting increasingly annoyed, and I really want to turn around and ask them to use their “inside voices.” This little girl is about four, so she should know what an inside voice is. And her mother, who has had her Chanel sunglasses on for the entire flight, should definitely know how an inside voice is. . .