Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas preparations

We're prepared, or as prepared as we're going to be.  We travel to home state in 2 days.  We're mostly packed.  The packages have been shipped--actually I ordered almost everything online and had it shipped directly there.  The boys know that they will only receive one or two of their Santa gifts while we're there.  Santa is bringing the rest to CU Land.  I've spoken to my mom, and she's done shopping.  Yetta, well, that's another story.  I'm not sure how one expects to get hard to get items when one doesn't start shopping until Dec. 20th.  I could say more, but I won't.  That is all.

Monday, December 17, 2012

There is no such thing. . .

as a worthless human being.  We do not know the details every others' lives.  We don't know their hardships, their struggles, their illnesses.  We don't know what may compel someone to enact acts of violence.  We should concern ourselves with taking care of the survivors and with forgiving.  I'm not usually the sort of person to quote Bible verses, but in light of all the hateful things being said about a boy, (yes, he was a boy himself) who did commit a horrific act of violence that ended the lives of 27 other people and his own I feel compelled to do so. 

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37

Friday, December 14, 2012

Things I never expected to do. . .

I have done so many things I never thought I do since I became a parent.  That list includes:
  • pulling boogers out of my kid's nose
  • pulling boogers out of a friend's kid's nose
  • wearing a sweater that had a little bit of vomit on it to a meeting
  • washing a load of laundry that had a single blanket in it to make my child calm down
  • sit up for hours in a steamy bathroom so my kid could breathe
  • eat chicken nuggets on a regular basis
  • discuss the finer details of Star Wars
  • analyze the class divisions in the Cars movies
  • stay up till midnight making homemade Valentines for the kids in my child's class
Even before I was a parent, however, if you'd told me I'd do any of the above, I likely would have laughed and said, "Oh, you're probably right!" Now that I've done them, none of those things seem that odd or disgusting.  They are part of my every day life now. I never, ever thought I do what I just did, and I sincerely wish I did not feel compelled to do it.  I just emailed Wild Man's principal to ask what the school's lockdown policies are.  I want to know what they have taught the kids to do in the event a gunman comes into the school.  I want to know that they have a policy in place to protect as many children and teachers as possible should such a horrific, tragic thing ever happen in my child's school.  And I am absolutely sick to my stomach that I feel like Archer and I now have to have a discussion with our children about such an event.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holidays and gender

I'm up later than I should be completing holiday-oriented tasks.  I've addressed Christmas cards, which I designed and ordered.  I've also done most of the decorating, shopping, and menu-planning.  As I was addressing envelopes, it struck me how much of the holiday is gendered.  Archer decorated the outside, set up the tree, and hung lights.  He has done some shopping with me, and we did discuss what we would buy for the boys.  I bought all the "extra" gifts--for teachers (4 in total), friends, nieces, and nephews.  In fact the only gift Archer has bought entirely on his own is the one we're getting for his mom, and that is because I told him I wasn't doing it.  To be honest, more than half of the stuff I do isn't essential (I mean we didn't have to decorate a gingerbread house last weekend), but it is fun for the boys and helps make the holiday special for them and us.  That said, Archer just wouldn't think of a lot of stuff--like sending Christmas cards or buying gifts for the boys' teachers.  I know that women do the bulk of relationship building, but still I find it frustrating.  When I put the Christmas cards in front of him to sign, he'll ask why we aren't sending cards to about half a dozen or so people.  In the past I've just added them to the list.  This year I'm going to tell him if he wants to send cards to his old friends and family he can address the cards.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Reflecting

I haven't been blogging much, and while part of that is due to the fact that I'm occupied with other tasks, it is also because I'm considering how necessary or relevant this blog is to me.  I began this blog over six years ago, when I was still a grad student and about to have my first child.  In those six years I've used this blog to chart my journey through grad school, motherhood, and the start of my career.  I've used this as a space to journal my thoughts, fears, and development.  I sense that this place will become important to me once I'm no longer on leave, but for now, I'm not feeling the need to journal as much.  I am reveling in the time I have away from academia.  I'm enjoying not having myself fractured into so many pieces.  I may never be able to experience being a stay-at-home mom again, and I have to say that I am embracing that role.  I'm not going to attempt to define what it means to me.  I will just say that I'm finding this blog less important to me right now.  That may change in a few weeks or even a few hours.  But for now, I'm going to stop worrying about posting here.  I'm sure I'll be back, probably even later this week.  But I won't be posting here everyday, and for now, I'm okay with that.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

I have lots and lots to be thankful for.  But today is not Thanksgiving in CU Land.  Thanksgiving was in October here.  Wild Man had school today.  Archer had to teach.  Bear, George, and I went to the park.  We had chicken, broccoli, and mac and cheese for dinner.  We didn't even have dessert.  For us, it was an ordinary day.  And that is okay with us.  I have had to explain this to every family member who called today though.  I was happy to talk to everyone, but after the fourth phone call it was a bit annoying to have to explain yet again that "Nope, it isn't Thanksgiving here."  We've lived here for 3+ years.  I think people would have figured this out by now.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Seriously?

It is the time of year at CU where faculty are required to submit their CVs to be reviewed on their annual performance.  Although I'm on leave I am submitting my materials because I've heard that people who don't submit materials (even though they aren't required to for a given year) are often given bad scores.  I accomplished a lot last year, so I don't want a bad score. 

As I was stealing a few minutes to work on these materials I received an email from one of the admin assistants in the department in which I was formerly appointed (you know, the one that screwed me over).  The dean informed her that I am to submit my materials to that department to be reviewed for last year.  Um, excuse me?  Why would I want to do that?  How is that supposed to be fair?  Seriously?  So I will do as I'm told, but I am also very familiar with the grievance process.  And I am more than prepared to file a grievance if I get an unfair review.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The sun is out

I'm sitting at my kitchen table while George naps (have I mentioned that I finally have a baby who will put himself to sleep) on his activity mat, and the sun is streaming through the kitchen window, casting a lovely pattern on the floor.  I've had coffee and breakfast (both accomplishments given the way the last few days have gone for us).  I've answered emails.  I've done some research on Christmas presents.  I've started drafting a CFP for a panel I want to propose for a major conference in my field.  I've finished an editing task that was hanging over my head.  I'm feeling better and more like me today.  Who knows how long it will last, but I will enjoy it while I can.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm not good . . .

at asking for help.  I've decided just to throw that out there.  I've been struggling the past few days, for a variety of reasons.  I'm not sleeping well (even though George is); I'm getting over a cold; I'm stressed out about work and extended family issues.  On top of that, Archer was out of town all weekend.  My niece, Brown-Eyed Girl, came to help me, but still, I was doing most things on my own.  I'm currently weepy and edgy and have been for a few days now.  Archer's immediate response is to ask if I have PPD, and while I do appreciate that he is aware of that possibility, I do think I'm entitled to a few bad days.  I managed a longish nap today (about 1 1/2 hours), so I'm not as edgy.  But still, I'm not feeling like myself. 

There is something about November for me.  I seem to go through something like this every November, which I'm only realizing as I type this.  November in CU Land is horrible--grey, dark, cold.  With the time change, it is getting dark around 4:45, which is just terrible.  We've not had much sun for weeks, and George and I have been cooped up in the house most days.  I think I need to be more proactive and find things that will get the two of us out of the house a bit more, and I definitely need to get out of the house on the days that Bear is home with us.  I don't think this post is particularly coherent, but oh well.  I'm not feeling particularly coherent today.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Job Frustration

I met with the chair of one of the departments that I am appointed in.  Although I know her, she is new to the chair's position, and she was on leave when I was appointed.  Thus, we hadn't spoken since I'd been appointed as my leave had already started by the time she got back from her leave.  It was an interesting meeting.  She gave me some tips on securing tenure, took a look at my CV, and reassured me I don't have to change my research area.  She then told me what I more or less already knew: I will be teaching the huge introductory survey often.  I'm not thrilled with this, but whatever.  I can handle it.  I then told her about the travel course I designed and received $17,000 to run from a grant that I worked on for several months last fall.  She was pleased, but a bit taken aback.  There is, apparently, no way the class can work in this department.  Long story short: the class is an underwater basket weaving class, this isn't an underwater basket weaving department.  In fact, I am not appointed in a department that teaches underwater basket weaving.  It seems that neither of these departments is particularly interested in me teaching this class.  It also seems I will be having a long conversation with the dean about this particular situation. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Do it!

Go vote!  I could say that I don't care who you vote for, but that isn't entirely honest.  I do care more that you vote!

Fixing things and getting tenure

At the conference I attended several weeks ago, several panelists addressed what they see as major problems in the academy.  The biggest issue seemed to be how does one address these problems and still get tenure? The problems are many, as many of you know.  In a single conference, I attended panels considering the problems of a specific kind of scholarship, digital publications, and service.  Each of these things is particularly relevant to me as I want to get into the specific-kind-of-scholarship, I have submitted an essay to a digital journal, and I do a lot of service (my two departments are small, so this is a necessity).  Often these things aren't given a lot of merit in the academy, for a whole lot of reasons--some valid, some not.  Everyone I spoke with agreed that these things need to be considered/addressed differently.  Essentially, the academy is outdated, and we're all operating under two models, so to speak.  We work under the more modern model in our daily lives, but when it comes to getting tenure, we then operate under a model that is about 15 years out of date.  Promotion and Tenure committees are outdated across the board.  We all want to get tenure, so we play the game, even though we disagree with the game.  There weren't a lot of ideas about how to fix the game.  The primary one was this: get tenure and then start advocating for your junior colleagues.  I appreciate that idea, but it isn't the most expedient solution.  It also seems that once many of us get tenure we'll be ready to do the things we want to do rather than take on advocacy roles (this was an issue that was brought up in at least two panels).  So this leaves us with no real solution. 

I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I have been thinking about it a lot.  I am in a non-traditional appointment, so I'd like to think I could do some non-traditional research.  I think that would be valued within my home departments, but I'm not sure how it would be received within my faculty and university at large.  It seems like there must be a way to get everyone on the same page, but that also seems to be a rare thing within an academic institution.

Labels

In the last few weeks, I've been labeled in at least three different ways.  My mother-in-law reminded me that I was not born in Home State, effectively labeling me an outsider (she did not use that word, but given the circumstances of the conversation and our complicated relationship, I feel certain she was subtly reminding me that I am different than her, that I am still an outsider in the family).  A few weeks later a blog friend Lilian labeled me as an immigrant, which I am, but I had never really considered my immigrant status before (in contrast to Yetta, Lilian didn't mean to offend me in any way, and she didn't).  Finally, Archer told me I present myself as less American, as more comfortable raising our children in a "foreign" country than he is (I placed quotations around foreign because I struggle with seeing Canada as completely foreign to the U.S., which is likely a subject for another post).  I've been considering all three of these labels as well as why we need to label one another.

First, I want to say that I understand why labels are necessary, to some degree (and while I could theorize about this till the cows come home, I'm not going to).  I do not, however, like to have people attempt to define my identity for me.  As my blog description states, I see myself as a work-in-progress. 

*I'm going to publish this now even though it isn't finished, as I'm not able to finish posts as quickly as I'd like lately. . .

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dear Judgmental Park Mother:

Yes, I allow my three-year-old to have juice boxes, not that that is any of your concern.  He's also only recently potty trained, and he still requests a diaper when he needs to poop.  As the one time I forced him to poop on the potty, he was severely traumatized--as in he cried hysterically for an hour--I happily oblige him so that he doesn't refuse to poop.  Oh, and he also no longer naps every day, but he does sleep for almost 13 hours straight every night.  Let me know if there is any other aspect of my parenting or my child's life you'd like to comment on.

Community, Bus Stops, and Class Issues

One of the things I've struggled with since we sold our condo and moved into our house is the lack of community we've experienced.  When we moved last August, we anticipated that we'd get to know our neighbors and that Wild Man and Bear would play with the other kids on the street, as there are several around their ages.  That, however, did not happen.  Very few of the neighbors came over to introduce themselves, and it soon became clear that our schedules were very different from most of our neighbors (we were gone all day during the week, and our boys are almost always in bed by 7:30 or 8:00 whereas many of the neighborhood children are out playing much later).  We did not send Wild Man to the neighborhood school, which complicated things.  Over the course of the year, we met a few of the neighbors, and one of the first questions everyone asked was, "What grade is Wild Man in?"  That was followed by "Where does he go to school?"  Every time Archer and I explained that he was currently enrolled at a school close to CU and that when he started Grade 1 he would be going to the local French Immersion school rather than our neighborhood school.  The reactions we witnessed were immediate.  The people we spoke with were consistently taken aback, and everyone always tried to reassure us how good the neighborhood school is, which we know.  In fact, we chose this house because the school is so good, thinking that we'd end up sending the boys there if FI didn't work out.  But we felt judged, as though we thought we were too good for the neighborhood school.

Fast forward a year.  I finally feel a sense of community, and it is all because of the bus stop.  We've met several families through the bus stop, which is about three blocks away from our house.  While none of the families are on our street (we are the only family on our street sending our children to the FI school), all are within walking distance.  And each of these families are sending their children to the FI school for the same reasons we are.  As we got to know everyone, we learned something really interesting.  Every parent at the bus stop was a professional.  There are two lawyers, one teacher, an executive at a local corporation, another executive who commutes between CU Land and a city in the States, and a small business owner.  Moreover, two families employ nannies, and both parents work in all the families.  Also, the moms and the dads split drop off and pick up duties.  On our street, the situation is very different.  We've learned that most people on our street would be defined as "working class."  Four of the moms stay at home, one dad works with a heating company, another installs alarm systems, and another is a foreman for a construction company.  With one exception, the moms walk the kids to and from school (the school is 2 blocks away), and one mom actually runs a home daycare.  It seems, from a class perspective, that we don't fit in on this street.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this.  I do know this: I come from a working class background, as does Archer.  My dad was a firefighter, and my mom was a secretary.  Archer's dad worked in a factory (although he worked he way up to upper management), and his mom was also a secretary. Although we've both gone on to get graduate degrees and have academic careers, we were not expected to do that.  My parents wanted me to be a teacher, and Archer's parents wanted him to work at the same factory his dad did (because doing so would keep us close to them).  My point is that we're both comfortable with our roots, so to speak.  We've gone out of way to introduce ourselves to our neighbors; we've tried to coordinate playdates for Wild Man and Bear with the other kids in the neighborhood.  We've participated in neighborhood gatherings.  We decorate when everyone else does.  We say hello and goodbye, and we generally try to be neighborly.  But none of our overtures have been well received.  It's hard to live on a street in which we really don't know anyone, despite our attempts to know people.  I find myself increasingly thankful for our bus stop community every day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

6

Tomorrow Wild Man turns 6!  It seems impossible that he's that old, yet Archer and I struggle to remember what life was like before he (and his brothers) came into our lives.  Happy Birthday, Wild Man!

Just so you know. . .

three boys (ages 6, 3, and 3 months) are really, really loud in the car.  Really.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Questions about gifts

Here's a random question, which I may or may not explain: do any of you, those of you who are parents, have rules for gift giving?  Let's try that again: do any of you try to limit the number of gifts your families give your children? It's becoming a bit of a thing in our house, and I need some input.

A Conference

I attended a major conference in my field this past weekend (with thanks to Yetta and Pita, who stayed with Wild Man and Bear so that Archer could travel with George and me.  As an aside, that is officially a lot of pseudonyms for one sentence!).  It was really good to be back in the saddle, so to speak, and it was especially good to know that I did not have to rush home to get back to work.  You see, the thing I dislike about conferences is that I feel like I rarely have time to process all that I learn at a conference.  I am usually back in my office prepping classes, teaching, grading, writing, etc.  But this time I get to think about the panels I attended, the great ideas I heard, and how all of that affects me, my work, and my teaching.  I think I will be posting about this a bit in the next few weeks, but for now, I'll say that it was a good conference and I'm really glad I went.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Too much?

I had a lengthy conversation with a good friend a few nights ago.  K told me she was impressed with how much I've gotten done "academically" since George was born.  She said she was a "drooling idiot" for the first 6 to 8 months following her daughter's birth.  For the record, I want to say that most of the things I've gotten done are fairly easy tasks--some editing, a bit of writing on a collaborative project, some service oriented tasks before my leave officially started.  Mostly I've been mothering.  And most days I'm not sure I do that all too well.  Wild Man and Bear are eating too many applesauce, carrot sticks, and chicken nugget dinners for my taste; I'm drinking way to much coffee (and thanking my lucky stars that the caffeine doesn't seem to affect George); I'm perpetually running late; and some weeks I'm lucky if one of us makes it to the grocery store before 6:00 pm on Sunday evening.  Archer is picking up a lot of slack, but in the midst of all of this, he has renovated our downstairs bathroom (stupid, yes, but necessary as the tile floor was literally breaking apart) and started renovating our basement (also stupid, but also necessary for reasons I'll go into in another post).  In my mind this seems fairly normal, for us at least. We always have too much going on.  K's comment, however, got me thinking about the differences in the American and Canadian system of maternity/paternity/parental leave and how my own experiences have influenced my thinking about "leave."

I never officially got maternity leave when Wild Man was born.  I was a graduate student, so I worked around my teaching schedule (luckily I was team-teaching a course with my dissertation adviser, and she told me to "go away" for a few weeks following Wild Man's  birth).  I was able to keep Wild Man out of childcare until he was about 4 months old, and then I found a daycare that would take him part-time (a relatively unusual thing for Southwest College Town).  Even when he was with me, though, I was typically multi-tasking--reading and writing while I was nursing him or when he was in his activity center.  I managed because I didn't know any better.  I knew what I had to do, and I did it.

With Bear, I didn't qualify for maternity leave benefits as I hadn't accrued enough working hours in Canada.  He was born in the end of June, and I had from then until school started.  I didn't do any work in that time period, but by September, I was teaching 3 classes and on the job market.  It was awful, in many ways much, much worse than what I had experienced with Wild Man.  I was not Bear's primary care giver, and that was frustrating for me.  Luckily, Archer was able to take leave, and he was home with Bear for that semester.  That said, Archer was still submitting grant applications and working on an article.  Our schedule was insane as we struggled to find time to work, but again, we made it work because we had to. 

Now, I'm on leave.  I have been employed with CU long enough that I qualify for both provincial and university benefits (this means that I am receiving 90% of my pay).  Also, I will not teach again until September 2013, even though my leave officially ends the beginning of April.  I am not expected to complete any service or research until then.  But I am doing some research.  By some standards, I'm doing a lot.  I've learned this is atypical, especially for female faculty members.  While none of the faculty members I know who have taken a parental leave have stopped researching altogether, most have slowed down dramatically--as have I.  They do, however, seem to stop participating in all collaborative projects, which I definitely have not stopped doing.  In fact, the biggest project I'm working on now is a collaborative project, and I'm continuing to participate in my writing group, although I'm doing a lot more reading and commenting than new writing.  And I'm doing most of this while caring for George.  Some days I do nothing; some days I'm lucky I make it out of my pajamas.  Other days I focus on stuff around the house.  But at least one day a week I am able to carve out a chunk of time to do something academic.  It makes me feel focused; it makes me feel centered. 

But my Canadian friends think I'm doing too much, while my American friends seem to get why I'm still working a bit.  And on some level I agree that I am doing too much, but I'm not sure how to stop.  I think the American system--a system in which parents must think about returning to work almost immediately after having a baby--has hardwired my brain to think about work.  My sister was back in the office (in a part-time capacity) a month after giving birth to her son; she did this partly out of economic necessity, but also because it was expected of her.  Most of my friends either tried to plan the birth of their children around the semester, or they just managed to finish their teaching responsibilities with a newborn in tow.  Given this past experience, being on leave doesn't mean I stop working altogether--at least not for me.  It means I don't have to teach or do service.  I still have to do some research, while managing everything else in my life.  I don't know if I know how to do it any other way.

For the record. . .

I hate baby talk.  I do not speak baby talk to my children (although I don't necessarily talk to them like they are adults).  Baby talk drives me absolutely insane.  Seriously.  Insane.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I did it!

I hired a cleaner, and she came Tuesday afternoon.  I have to say it was more than a bit odd to be in my house while someone else cleaned it.  Archer had to be on campus, so I didn't have the car.  I wasn't up for dragging George and his stroller on the bus, so we were home.  That said, she was a lovely woman, and she cleaned my entire house.  I still feel a bit guilty, but I am loving having a clean house--like she scrubbed the door to my shower.  I honestly haven't done that in over 6 months.  The water beaded up on the door when I took a shower this morning.  It was lovely.  Once Bear and George are in daycare at the same time, I'm not sure we'll still be able to afford it, but for now, I am going to enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Cleaner

I'm seriously considering hiring a cleaner to clean my house twice a month.  Although I'm on leave, I do not have time* (and frankly I also do not have the desire or inclination) to dust or to mop or to give the shower/bathtub a thorough scrubbing.  Archer is in the midst of several home improvement projects (in fact, he is in the midst of redoing our downstairs bathroom as I type; he's currently laying tile, and soon he will install a new sink/vanity and a new toilet) which are creating more dust and dirt than is normal for our house.  Additionally, he is currently under a fair amount of pressure because his tenure review process begins next fall, so he isn't helping out with cleaning and picking up as much as he normally does. I've recently redone our budget, and I can afford to hire someone if said person is willing to clean my relatively small house for a reasonable sum.  But I haven't called either the company or the individual that have been recommended to me.  Why?  I feel guilty even thinking about hiring a cleaner, like it is a frivolous expense or that I'm less of a wife/mother if I hire someone to do things that I should be doing.  I also feel like I will be judged by my family.  While I wrestle with this guilt, my house isn't getting any cleaner.

*To clarify, obviously I do have the time--I could easily clean while George naps and while Bear and Wild Man play; however, I need to either nap or try to work a bit, and on the weekends, I'd rather hang with my children than scrub my kitchen floor. Frankly, I multi-task enough as it is.

A question for my readers

Have you ever hidden a family member's posts on Facebook?  If so, why?

Things I want to blog about

My writing time currently comes in snatches--15 minutes here, 20 minutes there.  I often have to accomplish other things during those snatches, like starting dinner or folding laundry, so blogging has taken a back seat to other writing when I can privilege writing over other more mundane, but equally essential tasks.  I have a list of things I want to blog about, but I don't necessarily have the time.  That list includes
  • the middle child
  • the politics of the bus stop
  • bossy girls and passive boys
  • my control issues
  • clutter
  • Christmas
  • me-time
At some point in the future (I'm not going to say near because it could be months before I get to any of these posts), I will write these posts, but for now they will continue to ruminate.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Clothes

So shopping is never something I particularly enjoy.  I'm petite and I have what I consider a fairly classic style; I am a mom who likes to look nice but also wants to be comfortable without spending a fortune.  Unfortunately, I live in a town in which I am not a part of the target market.  I'm not a university aged female with her parents' credit card in my back pocket.  I also don't have much time or energy to go shopping, so how do I solve my current dilemma?  You know the dilemma?  I'm 8-weeks postpartum and not quite fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes, but I'm also tired of wearing maternity clothes, which are a bit too big.  Well, I go online.  Today, I'm ordering this, this, and probably this.  I may also order this and this. I'm also ordering some yoga pants (the staple of stay-at-home-moms everywhere) and new jeans.  I'm hoping all of this will hold me over till I can either make a trip to an outlet mall or lose the last 8 pounds of baby-weight.

And yes, I fully recognize this is, perhaps, one of the most boring posts I've ever written.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trying

I'm trying to write.  It's not going so well.  That's about all I have to say about that.  Now you see why it isn't going well.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Stay-at-home Mom

Starting today, that is officially what I'll be until late-May.  My leave officially starts on Saturday, but Archer starts teaching today.  He'll be working from home a bit, but most days I'll be on my own with George.  Archer will be here in the mornings, of course, but M-W he'll leave by 8:30 to go to campus, dropping Bear off at daycare on the way.  He'll be here a bit longer Thursday mornings, but when he does leave, I'll be on my own with George and Bear till 3:15, when I'll load them up into my nifty jogging stroller to pick Wild Man up at the bus stop.  Archer won't get home till 5:30ish most Thursdays as he teaches a late afternoon class.  Fridays haven't been worked out.  He doesn't teach, and he'll likely take the lead for a few hours every morning so I can try to get some writing done.  I do expect that he'll have to go to campus some weeks, though.

How is the first morning going?  Well, Archer took Wild Man to the bus stop.  When he got home, we loaded up George and Bear into the jogging stroller and took a long walk (we're both trying to get back into shape).  When we got home, he kept George occupied while Bear colored so I could take a quick shower.  Then I read stories to Bear while nursing George.  After Archer left, I talked Bear into using the potty (we're potty training, and while it's going well, he can hold it for a long time.  I have to bribe him to go on the potty).  As a reward for going, I'm letting him watch an episode of The Backyardigans, and George is napping.  I've done some routine stuff, like washed the dishes and answered emails.  I'm contemplating what to make for lunch, as it will likely be easier to make lunch while George is napping.  After that I embark on what could be the most difficult part of the day--trying to get Bear to take a nap.  Sometimes he naps, and sometimes he doesn't.  If he doesn't, the day will be much, much longer for all of us.  I'm hoping to get into some sort of a routine in a few weeks, but a lot of that depends on George.  I'm a little worried about keeping Bear occupied while nursing George as much as I do.  I expect I'll be nursing while playing cars and putting puzzles together a lot in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Wild Man is in Grade 1!

Wild Man boarded the school bus this morning like an old pro.  Meanwhile I cried.  Bear did too, but he wanted to go with Wild Man to "ride the bus stop, Mama!" as he kept declaring.  After getting him on the bus, Archer and I loaded up Bear and George and drove over to Wild Man's school.  We wanted him to take the bus to get him used to it, but we also wanted to watch him go into school on his first day (parents weren't allowed in the building this morning).  I felt like a helicopter mom until we arrived at the school and saw a group of parents all waiting to see their first graders and kindergartner-ers getting off the bus.  A friend of Wild Man's got on the bus after he did, so they sat together and walked in together.  I felt better knowing he has a friend already.  Even if they don't end up in the same class they can play together at recess.  I was very proud of how well he handled it.  Now I can't wait to hear how his day went.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My normal

Okay, so I have a 5 1/2 year old, a 3 year old, and a 5 week old.  Most days I'm up by 6:30--not by choice mind you, but primarily because either George or Bear are awake by then.  On the days that Bear wakes up first, Archer gets up with Bear so I can sleep for a few more minutes.  During an average day, I am able to get a shower (I generally shower at night to ensure I do get one), get dressed, and make at least one meal.  I have been to the grocery store, to my office (only once), to pick Wild Man up at day camp, and out to lunch with my entire family.  Most days, my clothes match (although I may not be altogether happy about what I'm able to wear right now), and my hair is brushed.  I gained about 30 pounds, and through no effort other than breastfeeding, I only have about 10 pounds to lose (no, I'm not back in my pre-pregnancy clothes, nor do I think I will be anytime soon).  I have managed to go shopping once (with George in tow) as I needed some shorts that I could fit into.  I've also managed to submit two reports for work, read two books (for pleasure), and make notes on one project (these notes are so rough that I don't even want to admit how rough they are, but they are notes).  I've ordered birth announcements (which may never get mailed), and I've had George's portrait taken.  I've taken (with Archer) Wild Man and Bear to the pool, been to friends' houses for dinner, and taken Wild Man to several play dates.  I'm also trying to potty train Bear.  Most days I feel like I get nothing accomplished, and most days I'm okay with that.

Why am I listing all of this?  Well, I had coffee with a good friend this morning, and she asked how I was doing.  I said, "Fine.  I've got some stuff to do for work this week as my leave doesn't officially start till next week, and I'm trying to find the time to do that."  She was equally aghast and impressed, and I don't get why.  I don't feel like any of the above makes me superwoman.  It just feels normal for me.  I am not the kind of person who can not do things.  In fact, the more I stick to a "normal" routine the less likely I am to get overwhelmed and/or anxious.  If I don't have things to do, I tend to feel out of control, and feeling out of control leads to anxiety, which isn't good for me.  My friend implied I was doing way too much, but I don't think so.  I told her, "This is my normal."  It's what feels right for me, at least most days.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clutter and unnecessary remarks

Over the last few weeks, both my mother and Archer's mother have called to check on me.  With Yetta, I keep it simple.  I tell her I'm tired, but fine; we're all adjusting well, and no, we don't need anything.  That's my standard line, whether it's true or not.  With my mom, I'm a bit more honest.  In fact, yesterday I was not having a good day.  It had nothing to do with my children and everything to do with the clutter that was threatening to consume my house.

You see, Archer, as wonderful as he is, isn't great about putting things away.  He routinely fixes something and then leaves his screwdriver lying on the kitchen counter for 3 weeks.  That is one example; I could name many others.  I have grown to accept this as a flaw that I cannot fix.  I've tried.  I've tried nagging; I've tried behavior modification; I've tried everything.  So usually I just put the stuff away.  It's easier.  If I get really irritated, I pick it all up and dump it on his desk for him to put away.  And rather than put it away, he will push it aside so he can access his papers and his keyboard.  This leads to lots of minor arguments.  I put something away, and he's sure he left it on top of the refrigerator (which is, apparently, an optimal spot to store tools, loose batteries, belts).  He goes to locate said item, and when he finally deigns to ask me if I know where it is, I tell him, "I put it in your toolbox in the basement because, you know, that's where your tools go."  He then gets irritated because he has to go to the basement to get said object, and I'm irritated because if he just put it away in the first place we wouldn't have this discussion for the 9 millionth time.

Add to that the fact that we have two children who have free reign over the house and that their puzzles, books, cars, and Legos often end up in places where they don't belong.  Oh, and let's not forget all the ephemera that accompanies a new born--burp cloths, blankets, socks, and the like.  Yes, my house was more than a bit cluttered.

Typically I take an hour on Saturday and put things away.  It is the most efficient way I've come up with as I can't retrain my entire family (although Wild Man and Bear are well on their way to putting their things away at the end of the day) nor can I hire a professional organizer.  I don't mind either.  But George has made this almost impossible lately.

Yesterday I was at my wits end.  I was tired and needed a nap, but more than that, I needed my house to be clean and de-cluttered for one day.  I was less than pleasant as everyone and everything was preventing my plan for de-cluttering.  I will not go into details, but I will say that Archer and I had discussed this plan on Saturday night.  Thus, when I came downstairs to find Wild Man and Bear had dumped out their extensive Lego collection all over the living room and that Archer was napping with George rather than taking out the vacuum cleaner I was annoyed.  My mom happened to call when I was finally able to get everyone to accomplish a specific task to de-clutter the house.  I told her what was going on.  She replied, "Well, M, you have three boys now; you may have to accept a certain amount of clutter, at least until George is older."  I was so irritated with that comment that I changed the subject and then got off the phone.

Why was I irritated?  My mom is absolutely right; for a while, at least, I'm going to have to deal with some clutter.  Other things trump having a neat and tidy house.  I can (and usually do) live with that.  But every. single. time. I talk to her she reminds me that I now have three children.  And I want to say, "Really?  Three?  When did that happen?  Oh right, I do vaguely remember giving birth to the third.  Thanks for the reminder, Mom."  Yes, my impulse is to be snarky and sarcastic.  But she says it very snarkily too.  As though I should have realized life would be so hectic and chaotic when we decided to add a third child to our family.  Yes, I'm being testy and a bit immature, but honestly, I could live without hearing that unnecessary remark ever again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birth Story, Part 2


Part 1 is here.

10:00 am
We met Dr. V, and I knew her.  In fact, as she stood beside my bed, I looked at her intently, trying to remember where we’d met.  She introduced herself to Archer and me, and then she gave me a quizzical look and asked why I looked so puzzled.  I said, “We’ve met before.”  To which she said, “It’s possible, but I’m very bad with faces.”  Suddenly I knew where we’d met, so I asked, “Do you know J?  She’s my good friend.”  Dr. V said, “Yes, we’re quite good friends as well.”  Then I said, “I think we met at her daughter’s birthday party over a year ago.”  Her face lit up.  She said, “Yes, I remember.  You have two little boys, and we talked about schools.”  We continued to chat as she examined me, and I was more comfortable with her since I knew her a bit.  She had also been J’s doctor and knowing how much J had liked her put me even more at ease.

During the exam, the baby moved again, and Dr. V was unable to get his heartbeat.  She became a bit concerned and decided to put in an internal monitor.  While she was trying to get the monitor on the baby’s head, she inadvertently broke the rest of my bag of waters.  It seems that L had not fully punctured it.  As the amniotic fluid literally poured out of me, Dr. V joked that I was going to ruin her new shoes that she had purchased during her recent trip to Europe. 

At that point, I was still only 3 centimeters dilated, and Dr. V asked me what sort of birth I wanted.  I said that I wanted as few interventions as possible.  She also asked about my previous labors, and after learning how fast both Wild Man and Bear and been born and that Wild Man had been induced by only breaking my water, she said, “I want to give it a bit before we run the oxytocin.  I’ll check back in about 90 minutes, and if you haven’t progressed at that point, we’ll talk some more.”

So for the next 90 minutes or so, I got up as I wanted to and moved around a bit, but mostly I stayed in bed, trying to rest.  Archer and I chatted with my nurse, as L moved between my room and her other patient’s room.  Around 11:45, L asked me if I would mind if she went home to shower; she’d been at a birth the day before and had gone home to sleep that evening, without showering.  I said, “I’m still only having contractions every 15 minutes, so sure, please go shower.”  At that point, the contractions were becoming more uncomfortable, but they were still not painful.  I figured that L had plenty of time to go home and shower.

12:30 pm

My nurse studied the printout of my contractions and noticed that they were getting a bit closer together, about every 12 minutes.  As we were talking about this, I had a strong contraction, and the baby’s heart rate dropped to 80, and it stayed down.  After a minute, a crowd of people came into my room—2 NICU nurses, 1 other nurse, and 3 residents.  My nurse was standing right next to me, and Archer was holding my hand.  The head resident (he’d only introduced himself by saying, “I’m the head resident”) pulled on surgical gloves and declared, “I need to check you.”  I rolled over, and without as much as asking my name, he proceeded to check my cervix.  Now, I have an oddly positioned cervix.  If this resident had taken a moment to read my chart, to talk to my nurse, or to ask me anything, he would have learned this.  But he didn’t.  Instead, he proceeded to check my cervix as though he was digging to China.  It hurt—a lot.  He also started another contraction.  My nurse, looking aghast, said, “She’s not medicated.”  Knowing he needed to see if labor was progressing and if the internal monitor on the baby had moved, I gritted my teeth and let him check.  But when he said, “Her cervix is really high and posterior; I can’t seem to get to it,” I quietly said, “Take your hand out of my body.  We need to wait for Dr. V.”  He was clearly embarrassed, but he moved away from me.  By this point, the baby’s heart rate had come back up, but Archer said quietly, “M, it stayed down for 3 minutes.”  I sighed heavily, as I knew what that might mean.

Dr. V arrived at that point and started asking questions.  She said, “Has she been checked?” My nurse said, “She asked to wait for you.”  So Dr. V checked me.  The internal monitor was still in place, and she said I was now 5 centimeters dilated.  We then had the C-Section discussion.  It went like this:

Dr. V: “If the baby’s heart rate drops again like that, we will have no choice but to get him out as quickly as possible.  I will have to perform an emergency C-section.”

Archer: “Since M has not had an epidural, what will happen with anesthesia?”

Dr. V: “We will try to get her an epidural, but if it is a true emergency, we will have to put her under completely as it is faster.”

M: “I don’t want a C-Section, but I obviously want the baby to be safe.”

She then asked me why I didn’t want the resident to check me, asking if it was “because he is male or because of his technique?”

M: “It was his technique.”

Dr. V: “I see.  I need you to understand that I’m in charge of the entire floor.  I cannot always get here immediately, but the resident can.  If he can’t check you, that slows things down and doesn’t let us see how the baby is doing.”

M: “Yes, I understand that.”

Dr. V: “Plus, this is a teaching hospital, and he has to learn how to do it properly.”

M: “Yes, I’m teacher, so I understand that as well.  He doesn’t, however, have to learn on me.”

Dr. V looked a bit surprised and told me she’d be back in an hour to check on me, reassuring me that she could see my monitors at the main desk.

1:00 pm
My midwife returned from showering and getting some lunch.  My nurse updated her, and she apologized for not being there. 

1:15 pm
My contractions started coming a bit faster, about every 8 to 10 minutes, and they were getting stronger.  I also experienced a lot more back pain.

1:45 pm
By this time, I was in active labor, with contractions every 4 to 5 minutes, lasting for 2 minutes, and I was in back labor.  At some point, the baby had turned, and the pain was excruciating.  I was hooked up to 3 different monitors, and every single time I moved, the baby’s heart rate fluctuated, so just as I did with Wild Man, I labored lying on my left side.  My midwife applied lots of pressure to my hips with every contraction, and Archer did the same on my lower back.  This helped some, making the pain manageable.  I have to admit though I was less than pleasant.  After my conversation with Dr. V, I had decided I was going to have a C-section; this was my way of preparing for that.  On some level, I figured I was going to need the epidural anyway so managing the pain became much more difficult for me. 

2:30 pm
I had an overwhelming desire to push, and I told everyone so.  My nurse called the resident back in, but this time a female resident came to check, and she was much more pleasant than the male resident.  She checked me, and said, “I’m sorry, you’re only 7.  You can’t push yet.”

After she left, my midwife leaned over and whispered, “If you feel the need to push, do it gently.”  So when I felt the need to push, I did.  I continued laboring with her help and Archer continued encouraging me, despite me telling him that I really, really wanted the epidural.

3:05 pm
I again said, “I need to push now.”  So again, everyone came back in, and the resident said, “Yep, she’s fully dilated; let’s get set up.” So the nurses began setting up, and I pushed with L and Archer’s help.  Dr. V walked in and said, “Why isn’t the table set up?”  The nurses couldn’t get my bed broken down to set up the stirrups, and in the meant time, I was still trying to push.  The bed was finally together, and my legs were forcibly put in the stirrups—I hate stirrups.  The resident kept telling me not to push, and I ignored her.  Dr. V looked at me and said, “We need to make sure the baby is in the right position, so stop pushing or you will hurt yourself and the baby.”  So I managed not to push.  Then the baby’s heart rate dropped to 60, and the resident said to me, “M, we’ve got to get your baby out now. Push as hard as you can.”  I wanted to say, “Gee, that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last 10 minutes.”  So I pushed, and 5 minutes later, George was born.  The NICU nurses wanted to take him right away, but Dr. V quickly determined he was doing well.  She insisted that Archer cut the cord (in fact, she gave him no choice in the matter, which I loved as he hadn’t cut Wild Man or Bear’s cords) and that I be allowed to hold George for a few minutes.  The nurses then took him to the warmer and checked his heart rate and breathing.  He was doing so well that he was back with me in about 10 minutes.  While the resident gave me two stitches (without a local; she reasoned that I’d need 6 “pokes” with stitches and a local but only 4 “pokes” for the two stitches.  I said, “They aren’t exactly ‘pokes,’ but fine.”), Archer and I debated names.  We chose one that hadn’t been in the running long, but that really seemed to fit the baby.  We then had a brief conversation with Dr. V, and she returned me to my midwife’s care. 

In the end, after 15+ hours at the hospital and about 2 hours of active labor, George was born on July 24th at 3:20 pm, weighing 7 lbs 5 oz and measuring 20 inches long.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Quiet

All of our family visitors have left, and as odd as this sounds, our house is quiet again.*  Yes, Wild Man and Bear make lots of noise, but it is noise I'm used to.  Slowly we're settling into a routine.  The hardest thing is that I'm nursing, and George is eating on demand.  I can be in the middle of cooking dinner or reading to Bear, and I suddenly have to get Archer to take over. He is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, so to speak, and that is frustrating for both of us for various reasons.  George is a laid-back baby, so that makes life a bit easier. 

*At some point I'll describe Yetta's less than fun visit, but for now I'll just be glad to have my house back.

Getting back in the game

George is now three weeks old, and my mind is already thinking about the projects I want to try to accomplish while on parental leave.  I am not expected to get any work done, but most people manage to get a few things done.  My plans are not overly ambitious, and now I'm still in the thinking/planning stages.  I'm optimistic, albeit cautiously, that George will nap for several hours each day (in fact, he's napping right now), enabling me to get at least an hour's worth of work done each day.  Bear will be home with us 2 days a week, so those days will likely be more hectic, but I hope to have their afternoon naps coordinated by October.   And I am fully aware that none of my plans may come to fruition, and I'm okay with that too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Pseudonym

I have finally chosen a pseudonym for the baby.  He will now be known as George, as in Curious George.  Why?  He is already intensely curious.  At not quite 3 weeks old, he is already trying to hold his head up, tracking objects, and listening for his brothers.  I think he's going to do everything early!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Birth Story, Part 1


I have sat down to write G’s (I’m still working on a pseudonym) birth story several times, and every time I’ve been interrupted.  I’m currently writing as he nurses.  I should be trying to rest I know, but I want to get the bulk of this down before I start to forget details.  His birth was long and difficult, so I’m going to use a timeline in an attempt to replicate that.  I’m also going to divide this into at least two posts as I doubt G will cooperate long enough to let me write the whole story in one sitting.

July 24, 12:15 am
A contraction woke me up.  I had been having Braxton hicks contractions for weeks, months really, but this was the first time a contraction had woke me up.  It was stronger than the B-H contractions, but not necessarily painful.  It felt like a long menstrual cramp.  I stayed in bed for a few minutes, and then I had another one.  After three or four, I got up, went to the bathroom, got some water, and then went back to bed.  I wasn’t sure they weren’t B-H contractions, so I was trying to determine if they would stop. 

12:45 am
It was clear they weren’t going to stop, so I woke up Archer.  We talked for a few minutes, and he started timing for me.  They were coming every 4 to 5 minutes and lasting about a minute.  Given my history of fast labor (Wild Man was born after 4 ½ hours of labor and Bear after 2 ½ hours), we decided to call my midwife, and she said she’d meet us at the hospital.  I got dressed, tossed a few things in my bag, and brushed my teeth (weird yes, but I did) while Archer woke up my mom.  She came upstairs to sleep in our bed so she’d be sure to hear Bear and Wild Man when they woke up, and we left for the hospital by 1:10 am.

1:15 am
We met my midwife in the parking garage at the hospital, and she walked us to the labor and delivery ward.  I was checked in, and then we discussed the plan.  My midwife, L, took my vitals, and we discussed how strong the contractions were.  She wanted to get set up, so Archer and I started walking as the contractions weren’t very painful.  We were hopeful that walking would get labor moving along. 

2:00 am
L was set up, and she gave me an IV.  I had tested positive for Group B Strep early in my pregnancy (if fact, L thinks I am one of those rare people who always has it in my body, although my body doesn’t see it as an infection, as I’ve tested positive with every single pregnancy), so I had opted to have the IV antibiotics to prevent the GBS being passed to the baby.

2:30 am
The antibiotics had gone through the IV, so Archer and I started walking again.  We walked off and on till 4:15.  At that point my contractions had slowed down.  I was having them about every 10 minutes, and they were not painful at all.  L offered to break my water, after she checked my cervix (I was 3 centimeters dilated when I came into the hospital, and almost 3 hours later, I was still 3 centimeters).  By this point, I was getting tired, so I agreed.  I reasoned that Wild Man had been induced by simply breaking my water, so maybe that would speed things up. 

4:30 am
L broke my water, and it was painful. It took her several tries to break it, whereas  when it had been broken to induce my labor with Wild Man it didn’t hurt at all.  She told me my cervix hadn’t thinned out at all and that the baby hadn’t dropped.  Considering that we had already passed the 4 1/2 hour mark I was really disappointed.

5:00 am
After L broke my water, I did not have a single contraction.  They stopped.  After waiting for a half an hour or so, I told her that nothing was going on.  She suggested we get some rest. So Archer went to sleep on the couch in the delivery room while I tried to rest in the hospital bed.  I say tried because L checked the baby’s heart rate every 15 minutes, which meant I had to change positions so she could find his heart beat.

6:45 am
L woke me up to check the baby’s heart beat and to ask me what was going on.  I told her: nothing.  She asked me how I wanted to progress, reminding me that since my water was broken we were under a timer of sorts.  I said I was unsure.  I was frustrated because the labor was not progressing, which I had not experienced before.  She reminded me she was in no hurry.  She assured me she was happy to wait labor out, but she did say that if I wanted oxytocin that she’d have to refer me to an OB as in our province midwives are not legally permitted to give a patient oxytocin.  That one threw me, as I didn’t realize that fact.  She encouraged us to go get something to eat and walk some more.  She told me to eat as much as I wanted because an OB wouldn’t let me eat anything from the moment I came under her care.  Archer and I went to the cafeteria, where I ate some fruit salad and a bagel.  I called my mom, explained the situation to her, and checked on Wild Man and Bear.  Then we walked.

8:00 am
We made our way back to labor and delivery where I told L my contractions had not resumed.  I had had several while we walked, but they were not regular nor were they strong.  I said that I was tired, and I wanted to be done.  As much as I didn’t want any interventions, I asked to be assigned to an OB.  L understood, but she suggested trying one more thing.  She had a breast pump, and she told me to pump to see if that would start contractions.  I agreed, hoping it would work.  I pumped for 45 minutes, and I had one strong contraction. 

9:00 am
L contacted the OB on call, after learning it was a doctor she really likes.  Dr. V was in the middle of rounds, so it would be about an hour before she could get to me.

Mothering three

Last week I wrote that the move from 2 to 3 has been less stressful from the move from 1 to 2 and most definitely less stressful then the move from 0 to 1, which I think is the most stressful of all.  I still think that is accurate, although today I had my first experience parenting all three at once by myself.* 

I'll start by saying that today was not an ordinary Friday.  Wild Man has been going to a theater camp for the last two weeks, and today was the day of his performance.  We kept Bear home from school so he could go to the "show."  The show started at 11, and it was over at 12, which is lunchtime.  Archer needed to go to his office to sign a few things as he is acting department chair this week (his department chair is out of town, and he's really the only full-time faculty member in town right now).  So he headed up to campus while Yetta and I took the boys home for lunch.  The minute we walked in the door G woke up and wanted to nurse.  Yetta happily made lunch for the older boys and me, while I nursed.  After lunch, Wild Man went to the play room to read, and I tried to get Bear upstairs for a nap.  He was not being cooperative, so I had to carry him upstairs and put him in his bed.  He had a temper tantrum, and then G, who I had put down in his bassinet, woke up.  I had to leave Bear to get G, and I tried nursing him while I rubbed Bear's back.  Bear adamantly refused to go to sleep.  I finally gave up, took G to my room, and left Bear to go to sleep on his own.  When Archer got home 20 minutes later, I was still nursing G while Bear sang to himself in his bed.  Archer decided that a nap was pointless and let Bear get up.  He reminded me that Bear has been cutting out naps a few days a week, to which I replied "he has to nap!"  He has to nap the two days a week he'll be home with me and G or I may lose my mind.  In the meantime, Wild Man was patiently waiting for one of us to come play with him downstairs (he had actually gotten Yetta to read with him).  So now, I'm left feeling like my first attempt to manage all 3 boys on my own was less than successful.  What would have success looked like?  A sleeping Bear, a sleeping G, and a reading Wild Man--oh and about 20 free minutes for me to nap.




*Technically, I wasn't by myself, as Yetta is visiting; however, there are certain things she prefers not to help with.  She prefers not to play any part in disciplining my children.  She reasons that she sees them so infrequently that she doesn't want them to remember her being "stern" with them.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Um, right . . .

I am the mother of three children.  I keep forgetting that . . .

Checking in

We're settling in a bit, now that we have three children.  Lots of people told me that the transition from 1 child to 2 children was much, much harder than the transition from 2 to 3 children.  I was, admittedly, skeptical, especially given my own initial uncertainty regarding my pregnancy.  I have to say, 11 days in, that the transition has been fairly smooth.  There have been a few glitches.  Wild Man has felt left out, and that was compounded by the fact that he went from full day camps the week of the baby's (I'm still working on a pseudonym) birth to half day camps this past week.  There have been several times this week when Archer and I have been occupied with the baby, and Wild Man has played Legos by himself for 3+ hours, making for a cranky 5 1/2 year old by dinner time.  Bear, however, has been remarkable.  I was a bit worried about his reaction, as he is, in many ways, still babyish, but he has blossomed before our eyes.  He checks on the baby, he wants to hold the baby, he sings to the baby.  He is incredibly gentle, loving, and protective.  Archer and I have repeatedly said to each other that we feel like we're seeing a whole new side to Bear.

As for me, I'm tired, but I'm not the dead tired I was with Wild Man, who had colic.  The baby wakes up in the night to nurse, and he goes back to sleep fairly easily.  I'm trying to get a nap in every morning, which helps a lot.  Archer is handling almost everything with the house, which will have to change soon as he starts teaching in about 4 weeks, and that is helpful.  My mom was here last week, and she was some help, although not a lot for various reasons.  Yetta arrives tomorrow, and she'll run errands and pick up the boys, leaving me to focus on the baby and let Archer get some writing done.  We're getting a bit more of a routine day by day.  And if I get a bit more time, I'll write the birth story, as well as the 1 million and 1 other things I want to write. . . but that is for another post.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

He has arrived!

Baby G (I'll come up with a better pseudonym soon) was born on Tuesday, July 24th.  I'll likely write up the birth story later, but for now, I'll say this birth did not go as expected.  My labor with Wild Man was 4 hours 20 minutes, and 2 hours and 30 minutes with Bear.  Baby G was 15 hours, give or take.  I was not in active labor that entire time, but that is how long I was in labor, laboring, or trying to get labor to restart before he was born. 

For now, we're doing well.  He has slept fairly well the past two nights, and he is nursing fairly well.  My midwife thinks he is a bit tongue tied, and I am beginning to agree.  He is nursing, but not as efficiently as I'd like him to be.  I'm dealing with a bit of engorgement, which I'm handling with pumping, hot compresses, and ice packs.  He has an appointment with a pediatrician who will cut his frenulum, if need be. 

As for Wild Man and Bear, they are adjusting fairly well.  We've kept them on their regular schedule, so Wild Man has been at art camp all week and Bear has been in daycare.  I know lots of people (including my mom) who disagree with our decision to do this, but honestly, we want the smoothest transition for them.  Having them home, while we're trying to figure out Baby G's personality would mean that they'd end up watching a lot of TV or playing without us.  Keeping them involved with their regular activities means that they don't feel left out, and we can rest throughout the day as we need to.  When they are with Baby G, they have been excited.  Bear is telling everyone about "my brother," and Wild Man is very, very helpful.  We have had some minor meltdowns with each of them, but mostly, things are going well.  And I'm quite happy with our family of 5.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear Everyone . . .

Yes, I'm still pregnant.  No, I've not made any plans to induce labor.  No, my midwife is not concerned that I am 4 days overdue.  Yes, the baby seems to be healthy, as do I.  Yes, I am incredibly uncomfortable, but I am also managing the heat.  No, I'm not going to stay home and hide-out; I'm pregnant, not an invalid.  Yes, either Archer or I will notify you as soon as humanly possible once the baby is born.  Unfortunately, that notification may be via email or Facebook; we'll have a newborn, plus Wild Man and Bear to care for, so individual phone calls will only be made to our immediate family members.  I'm sorry if that offends you, but I do trust you'll manage to get over it.  No, you cannot come over to see the baby the moment I get home from the hospital, although you are more than welcome to stop by with food (I've done this before you see, and I already have plenty of sleepers and cute onesies for the baby).  No, we're not revealing the baby's name prior to his birth (and yes, we are quite certain it is a boy, and neither one of us is a bit upset about that); you see, we haven't actually chosen a name.  Yes, we do expect that Bear will have a rough time adjusting, but thank you for going out of your way to point out that you think our current youngest child is a spoiled "mommy's" boy.  As you might imagine, our opinion is a bit different, but we've already begun managing his expectations about having a younger sibling.

In closing, thank you for your daily emails and phone calls to inquire whether or not the baby has been born.  They are making the waiting so much more manageable.

Love,
M.

P.S. To my regular readers and/or close friends, thank you for your support and understanding.  I sincerely appreciate that you're all interested and excited for me, but I appreciate even more that none of you have bothered the sh*t out of me about my impending delivery.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pregnancy in Public

I've been pregnant three times since I started this blog; thus, pregnancy has been a frequent topic here.  In fact, I've previously discussed how frustrated I become by many people's assumptions that a pregnant woman's body is public domain.  During my three pregnancies, I've had a number of things happen to me or been said to me in public, usually by perfect strangers, that I do not believe would have happened to me when I was not pregnant. 
  • I've had perfect strangers tell me not to purchase feta cheese, alcohol, coffee, and sushi.
  • I've had complete strangers ask me if I'm carrying twins or if I was ready to "pop" at any moment.
  • I've had people ask me if I was smuggling a watermelon out of the grocery store.
  • I've had people ask me if I knew the "gender" of the baby.  One person then ridiculed me for finding out, asking loudly in the middle of a coffee shop "Why no one waits anymore?"
  • I've had people ask what we're naming the baby and then be offended when I decline to share our choices with them.
  • I've had people (a doctor among them, in fact) demand to know why I got pregnant before Bear was potty trained and ask if I don't think I'm too old to be having another child.
  • I've had people mourn the fact that I'm not having a girl.
  • I've had people demand to know why I'm not having a fourth child.
  • I've had perfect strangers touch my body without my permission or without even speaking to me.
I could go on and on.  I fully realize that there are many people who will argue that most people see pregnancy as a happy event, an event that they want to experience even if they are in no way connected to the pregnant person.  I accept that as a plausible explanation for their interest, but I don't accept that as a plausible explanation for people's bad manners or their failure to recognize boundaries.  I have, after all, met pregnant people before, and I have asked questions or commented on their pregnancies, although rarely unsolicited.  I am, however, someone who respects boundaries.  I have a deep respect for public and private, even when the two intersect and/or overlap.  I do recognize that there really is no clear distinction between public and private; after all, this is an area I study.  But there seems to be something about the pregnant body that causes people to collapse all distinctions between public and private, that encourages people to say things that they wouldn't normally say.  Why is this?  What is it about the sight of a pregnant belly that makes people think they no longer have to be polite and tactful, that they can say anything they think, or that another person's body is their business?  I don't have an answer to this, other than the simple fact that something that is a very private thing is on public display every time I leave the house.  And frankly, I don't find that to be a very satisfying answer.  But this really, really troubles me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I just don't get it

Pita sent Archer an email this morning via FB in which she wrote something along the lines of, "Why don't you ever like the comments I post?  I see you can like everyone else's comments but mine.  I also say how much I love you.  Why don't you like my comments?"  It was, however, a bit more aggressive.  Archer opted not to respond, but a few hours later she sent him another message in which she wrote, "Are you ignoring me?"  He responded briefly, but he did his best not to engage her in anything further.

I just don't get it.  I absolutely do not understand how this is an effective form of communication.  I also don't understand why this is something that is worth initiating an argument over.  I do understand that she is a profoundly unhappy person.  Instead of deal with her own unhappiness, she'd rather attack those who love her.  I also understand that trying to engage in any sort of conversation about her behavior will not help the situation at all.  No matter how the topic is approached, Pita will claim to be attacked, despised, hated, and any other number of negative things.  It is impossible to express to her that we do care for her a great deal, but that we don't care for the drama she feels compelled to create.  As she sees it, our lives are perfect, and we look down on her because she doesn't have an education, because we're smarter than she is, because she is unmarried, because she doesn't have a "fancy" job, etc. 

Do I judge her?  If I'm being completely honest, yes, I do, but not for any of the reasons she'd likely list.  I judge her for causing drama, for taking advantage of Yetta, and for casting me as the person who has changed her brother and taken him away from their family.  I judge her for the things that I believe she is actively in control of, for the things she does that make Archer's life and relationship with her and his mother more difficult to manage.  I judge her for causing him stress and aggravation unnecessarily.  I judge her for being a 45-year-old child who refuses to express her feelings in a healthy way, despite being in therapy for over 8 years.  I judge her for using Archer as a target rather than dealing with her own unhappiness.

Mostly, I wish she'd try to have a healthy productive relationship with Archer rather than attacking him unnecessarily.




Sunday, July 15, 2012

Apparently these are necessary . . .

So I'm still pregnant.  And while I have about a million things I could be doing, my brain isn't really focusing on any of them.  So I've been hanging out with Archer, Bear, and Wild Man; reading some fun books; and shopping online.  I came across these, and I'm a bit flabbergasted.  Apparently laboring mothers need to look pretty, so pretty that someone has designed a line of gowns called "Pretty Pushers."  A laboring mother is supposed to put the gown on for delivery (whether vaginal or C-section), look pretty (and I guess feel pretty), and then throw the gown away as it likely got a bit "dirty" during the delivery.  I'm offended in about 15 different ways by these gowns.  I just told Archer about these, and he is now laughing at how irritated I am by these gowns.  They just seem so unnecessary, and frankly, I don't think we need to extend Western culture's preoccupation with beauty and femininity into the delivery room.  I mean seriously, while giving birth I was never less concerned with how I looked or who saw what parts of my body.  I'm troubled by this further commercialization of labor and motherhood.  First we had the presence of "push presents"; then came professional photographers in the delivery room; and now we have "push dresses."  Does every part of pregnancy have to be commodified?

Sunday, July 08, 2012

39 weeks

I am 39 weeks pregnant today.  That is all.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A new workspace

Last week I wrote about trying to work and getting organized in the hope that I'd be able to get some things done while I'm on parental leave in the fall and winter.  I'm still working on my list, but I have, with Archer's help, created a lovely work space for myself.  You see I work on campus.  I cannot work at home.  I'm too tempted to do laundry or mop the floor or put away clothes or cook.  I can think of a million things I need to do at home that distract me from my academic work.  When we moved, I sold my desk because, well, I didn't use it.  When I work at home I use the coffee table or the kitchen table as a work space.  For the next year, that just isn't practical, but neither is sharing a desk with Archer.  Let's just say I prefer to be organized while writing and he needs to room to spread out.

To create a work space, we made a trip to Ikea on Friday.  I wanted to purchase a specific desk, but I found something that was more functional and on sale!  The desk is nothing like I'd normally buy, but it fits exactly in the space we have.  Eventually (as in a few years) we'll have the entire basement refinished with an office space, and I can see this desk working really well in a small office with modern furniture.  In the meantime, I think it will work really, really well for the work I have planned in the next 10 months or so.  In fact, I've been using it all day!

*And yes, that is a Starbucks cup you see in the picture, and yes, it was a caffeinated beverage.  If you feel the need to judge a woman who is currently 38 weeks pregnant, caring for two older children, and not sleeping well, go right ahead.

Monday, July 02, 2012

In other news. . .

I often think that I was switched at the hospital as I often am unable to understand my family's religious, civic, and political beliefs.  I will now go build lego houses with my children, whom I do understand.

What I have learned from Facebook this morning

I am the only person in my extended family who doesn't think a 1% tax increase should one choose to opt out of "Obamacare" is a horrific thing.  In fact, I think it is quite reasonable as that 1% will go to help pay to insure another family.  I have also learned that I am akin to the devil because I think this.

38 weeks

Trying to get dressed at 38 weeks pregnant in the midst of a heat wave and still trying to look somewhat presentable is almost impossible, as I just told Archer after he asked me why I had changed my clothes for the fourth time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My grandfather


 My cousin found this photo of our grandfather and sent me a copy. I may write a longer post at some point, but for now I just want to share this striking image of a man who has been instrumental in my life. In fact, Wild Man is named after him. In this image, he is smiling as he prepares to enter one of the many coal mines in which he worked throughout his life. The look captures the essence of his personality--open, loving, positive. This is the grandfather I remember, a man always ready to give a hug, to tell a joke, or to laugh with you. He has, unfortunately, become increasingly depressed since my grandmother died in November of 2010. He still shows us glimpses of this person, but he is now 86, suffering from numerous physical ailments, and in constant pain. He misses his wife, to whom he was married for almost 62 years; in fact, she died a few days before their 62nd wedding anniversary.  He rarely smiles now, and it can be difficult to get him to laugh or to join in family activities or conversations.  But I know this part of him is still in there somewhere, and this is how I think of my grandfather.
Today is Wild Man's last day of kindergarten.  In September, he will begin Grade 1 (as they say in Canada).  It's hard to believe he is old enough to be entering primary school.  I am feeling a bit nostalgic today for my baby boy, who is definitely no longer a baby.  He is a truly wonderful, loving, kind-hearted, inquisitive, and often-times stubborn little boy.  The first photo was taken a few weeks after he was born in 2006, and the second I took this spring as the daffodils he and I planted were blooming.


Trying to work

I've been trying to work for the last few weeks, with an emphasis on trying.  I've got a lot of projects that are started, but aren't yet finished.  I am fully aware that all work will stop for at least a month (if not longer) following the baby's birth, so I want to get as much done on these projects as possible.  Here is a list of the things I'm working on:
  • transforming conference paper into an article length paper
  • drafting conference paper which I will present in October
  • editing the job talk I recently gave into an article, which I hope to send out next week
  • finishing a book review that is long overdue
  • drafting a book proposal on an anthology I'm working on with two colleagues from grad school
  • researching an idea I have for a book project
  • outlining revisions I need to make to a dissertation chapter which I want to transform into an article
  • revamping a course I routinely teach into an online course (this is the only project I will not try to work on at all when I'm on leave as, by union regulations, I cannot work on anything connected to my teaching)
It is a long list, and somehow in the next two weeks I need to get our home office functional so I can use it while I'm on leave.  My hope is that by September I'll be able to work for an hour and a half a day while the baby naps.  That may only work for three days each week as Bear will be home with me and the baby two days a week (as an aside, cutting Bear down to part time and having Wild Man in school full time has dramatically cut down on our childcare costs--as in we'll be paying about a third of what we pay now), but I know, to some extent, what I'm getting into.  I'm focusing on being flexible.  I am also going to load my Kindle up with books for work that I've been wanting to read for a long time.  If anything, I'll get lots of reading done in the next few months. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Full Term

I am officially full term (37 weeks) today.  Theoretically, the baby can come at any time now.  We've spent the past two weeks getting prepared.  I've washed and organized all the clothes.  We've been shopping for furniture more times than I care to mention as we can't agree on anything.  The baby's bag for the hospital is packed, and I've started throwing some things I will need into a bag.  We've also put together an emergency kit in the event we have a home birth.* We're more or less prepared for the baby's arrival. 

Archer even  spent part of yesterday cleaning out our car and installing and rearranging car seats.  We purchased two of these car seats, one for Bear and one for the baby.  These car seats have steel frames, which makes it possible for the manufacturer to make them narrower.  They are actually designed to fit three across.  Wild Man will stay in his current car seat, although we may order him one of these.  It isn't essential, as all three seats do fit in the back seat now, but one of these would allow us to put Wild Man in the middle rather than Bear.  It is currently a bit difficult to get Bear buckled into his car seat.  I have to perform a bit of acrobatics to buckle him while I'm in the front seat.  Again, it's manageable, just not ideal.  I'm also a little concerned about putting Bear right next to the baby.  I have no idea how he will react to the baby.  He is very excited about the idea of the baby, and he spends a bit of time every evening "talking" to the baby and "kissing" the baby.  He really does seem to understand that my stomach will go away and a baby will just appear at the house one day.  But the theory is much different than the reality.  Wild Man is old enough to distract the baby during a car ride or to retrieve a pacifier or even to hold a bottle.  Bear likely could do all of these things too, but he may also take out some frustration on the baby--poking eyes, pinching, and the like.  I'd be more comfortable if Wild Man were right next to the baby.  But with his current car seat that isn't possible for a variety of reasons.  We've decided to see how Bear reacts to the baby and then go from there.

This evening we will put the bassinet we purchased back together (I got it second hand, so I washed all the bedding) and we will also put the bassinet for the stroller together (also purchased second hand).  I need to spend some time sterilizing bottles and breast pump accessories (I gave mine away last summer, so I bought a new one off of eBay, at a reduced price).  Once that is done, it is really a matter of waiting.  I told Archer last night now that we've got everything organized (as organized as we can be, at least) I'll be a week late.

*As a side note, we've had several lengthy conversations about home births.  I'm actually fine with having a home birth, but Archer, who is concerned about complications, is not.  I do have fast labors, however.  We both realize we may have a home birth, even if that is not what we intend, so we wanted to be prepared in the event that we aren't able to make it to the hospital.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bear!

I can't believe my sweet, rambunctious, stubborn, funny boy is three today!

Venting

As I posted a few weeks ago, Yetta and I have been getting along very well.  She has, however, made a few comments in the last few days that I'm trying hard not to let bother me.  To that end, I'm writing a post to get out my frustration rather than let it eat away at me.
  • She called last night while Archer was taking Wild Man to soccer practice.  She called at 6:00, which she knows is dinner time at our house, and she wanted to have a lengthy conversation about the boys' school pictures.  Yes, that's right, she was calling to passive/aggressively remind me to send her copies of the boys' school pictures.  And I do mean passive/aggressively.
  • While we were talking, she also asked if it is okay if she and Pita visit together during August.  Archer and I had thought that Yetta was coming alone and that Pita was coming sometime in the fall.  She assured me their visit will only overlap by 3 or 4 days; she told Archer 2 or 3 days.  I do not think I will be in the frame of mind to have them both in the house when the baby is only a few weeks old, but how can I say, "Um, no!"?  I've asked Archer to handle this as tactfully as possible.
  • She also asked if we're planning to travel to Home State for Christmas.  Seriously. 
  • She called this morning to wish Bear a happy birthday, which was incredibly thoughtful.  We were, however, trying to get out of the house (she called at 8:30), so Archer and I opted not to answer it.  Rather than leave a message, she hung up and called right back--three times.  So Archer finally answered it.  She also asked if we could have another birthday party for Bear when she's here in August.  Archer was forced to remind her we aren't having a birthday party for Bear (we are having some friends over for cake on Sunday, but that's it), and he was again subject to a lecture on what terrible parents we are.
I am fully aware that I am extra sensitive to everything right now.  In fact, last night Archer said something about renovating the basement, and I was suddenly in tears for no reason I could explain.  That said, I wish my MIL had it in her to be more aware that right now is not the best time to bombard me with lots of questions.  I am a place where I'm quite likely to be rude or start crying.  I am, after all, 36 1/2 weeks pregnant.