It seems fitting while ruminating on baby’s first Thanksgiving to mention how amazed I am. A Mom. At last.

We drove back home this afternoon and she was sort of fussing in the back seat because 90 minutes is a much larger percentage of her life than it is mine, and I’m tired of the haul through Black Friday traffic too. So she’s sort of whining, and rubbing the top of her head with my occasionally free hand isn’t doing it for her anymore, so I start blowing raspberries loudly, for lack of anything else to do. And in between her protests she’s trying to blow raspberries too. This child is not quite 4 months old and can’t see what I’m doing and is peeved besides, but she’s doing her level best to imitate that silly flapping lip sound as we make our way through the last stretch northward.

So there’s this wonderful presence in my house every day now and while the cats are suffering mightily for my unapologetic lack of interest in them, the babe is flourishing and chortling and being vehemently wonderful pretty much 100% of the time.

Some 17 people were assembled at my uncle’s house for Thanksgiving this year and it occurred to me at some point, as my child was being passed around, hand to hand, that every now and then I’d look over at her and she’d lock eyes with me. Unflinching and No Two Ways About It. I’ve known some great babies in the past, but none of them sought me out across a crowded room like this. And when she got tired of people or her diaper was full or she needed another mouthful of boob, it was me she was after. That’s very cool. Still feeling pretty novel that after all that great lovin from all sides, she wants to cuddle up with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t relish the deep yummy satisfying wonderfulness of this life with my sweet girl in it.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Expanding on the theme of aging lasagna, it occurred to me in the shower this morning that I was contemplating a bar of soap older than my daughter.

This wasn’t the first time this particular bar of soap had been subject to revelations far greater than its humble soapy ambitions. When I bought the soap and unwrapped it prior to Mom’s visit I mused, This soap will still be here after my baby’s born. Huh.

It washed my pregnant belly. It was a silent observer during labor when I attempted shower therapy and then loudly rejected it. It sits idly by in two adhered shards as I reach for the newer bar, peeking out at the babe in her swing. She’s hypnotized by the rotating fish.

Okay, some perspective on aging household objects… These potted plants have been around “observing” for some time now. So does the loose change I can never seem to get rid of, the river rocks I strew around my house, these 42 cent stamps. This small bottle of eye drops never seems to expire. These dull pencils I collect since I never think to locate a sharpener.

But I’m pretty sure my mom doesn’t have anything in her shower that’s older than me. Or even in her fridge. Though, now that I think of it, she does have a felted frog in her freezer that is actually older than me. It’s being quarantined away from all insect life, staring outward in a resigned sort of way from a freezer-burned plastic bag. Not actually edible, however.

What’s possibly funny is the perishables that are still older than my 3 month old. Let’s take stock:

. dijon mustard

. capers

. peanut butter

. limeade

. sunflower seeds

. frozen waffles

. veggie burgers

Well, that was fun. There’s probably more. It’s not like I got up to check or anything. As it is I’m typing this with one hand, you know. So fess up now, what do you have squirreled away in your shower/pantry/fridge that’s older than your loved ones?

ch ch ch ch changes

I’m back to work and it’s not so bad. Apparently I kick ass at Compartmentalizing. And as in most situations, I make a much bigger deal out of things before they happen, just in case I happen to need the emotional armor when the change comes. I usually don’t end up needing it. Maybe I use up all my scary energy in Anticipation and so there’s nothing left when real stuff actually happens.

So that hasn’t changed.

But lots of other things have. Here’s an assortment, off the top of my head:

1. My cats are no longer my children. I’m so glad they have each other because I’m not too concerned about their feelings anymore, now that they’re cats and not actual Family Members. I still clean their litter boxes and take them to the vet and feed them. But I don’t answer their midnight cries and only occasionally break up their fights. I’m glad to see that the boy cat has reinstated his Carrying The Nasty Eye-less Stuffed Monkey Around While Howling routine, because I was secretly worried that he was broken since the baby arrived.

2. I no longer cook. I’m now one of those crazy people that go dashing around Whole Foods at rush hour while the clock is still ticking at daycare, spending way too much on a chunk of salmon because it’s cooked and not raw and that’s worth the extra $4. Anyway, the babe hates garlic, lentils, tomatoes, broccoli, tofu (or chard, not sure which was the offending ingredient that evening)… so my repertoire is pretty much at a standstill, and I already ate the food both grandmas left in the freezer months ago (hey kid, this lasagna is as old as you!).

3. I’ve learned to prioritize. Never having had a compelling reason to multitask efficiently in the past, I’d wander from room to room partially finishing various tasks while absently daydreaming of the next one and then end up on the computer researching cuttlefish for two hours before realizing my toaster oven potato was beyond done, even for a potato. No longer. Now I literally turn myself back around and say, Wasn’t That Your Bladder Speaking? Peeing is #1 on the List Of Things To Do Before The Babe Needs You Again. THEN and only then can you empty the diaper genie, pay bills, wash the incredible array of Dr Brown’s Bottle Parts (what the hell are these things I’m obediently scrubbing every night, anyway??), and pick up the cat vomit in the hall.

In that order.

4. I no longer wonder what everyone else is doing. I can spend the whole weekend indoors with my amazing young friend without picking up my phone to see what’s happening in the city, or anywhere else, for that matter. I’ve not been so provincial since I was four. We get out for walks. We’re happy if we make it to the farmer’s market. We’re also happy if we don’t. We cuddle up and nurse again and let the time go and reminisce about just how much this reminds us of our wonderful first three months together…

And this is how it’s not so bad going back to work.

back for more

I wasn’t going to write anymore. I thought this was a nice ending point, I was feeling very poetic and dramatic stopping here. Leave ’em wanting more, my uncle once said. And anyway, it’s already 180 pages or something if I decide to print a nice little book for my daughter, which is plenty; it’s 180 more pages than my Mom’s offered about her life while I was waiting in the wings.

But then, for the first time ever, I went back and read about this journey. Because it’s already fading, of course, and pregnancy is as alien a concept to me now as it was before I got pregnant. By the way, I have to say I’m disappointed that my Pregnant Self was incapable of getting a good look at itself. Somehow I couldn’t make myself acknowledge how weird it is. It just was. And if I tried to declare it bizarre, my body would roar back that Typing, Driving, Reading, Washing Dishes and Eating Toaster Pizza is all much stranger, in the grand scheme of things and evolution and whatnot.

So anyway, I realized I miss hearing what I have to say. This is a little bit like my realization the other day that maybe this first three months of having a baby around isn’t isolating at all to me because, well, it’s all relative. I mean, as an only child, I grew up surrounded by cats and stuffed animals. I am now surrounded by cats, stuffed animals, and an Incredibly Animate and Responsive Live Baby!! Comparatively speaking, she’s a three ring circus! I’m plenty entertained.

She’s amazing and I’m wallowing in every detail of her – these uncalloused, impossibly soft feet, pudgy hand dimples, dark eyelashes, fuzz head and musky soft baby smell, a mouth that sucks while asleep, baby belly, chub and more chub, whimpers and coos and gurgles and bubbles and sighs, arms that reach and stretch so high… and only reach the top of her head.

One big distraction in this month before work starts up again: finding childcare. I know, I already did that. But I didn’t know her yet, and now I do. I should have known when I wasn’t clear on the concept of Interviewing Daycare Providers last February that I was putting the cart before the… baby. Anyway, it’s a long stupid adventure I’ve been on since the start of October, which is fouling up my blissful baby cocoon time. I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned: normal people can’t afford nannies. Even sharing one. At least, not legally. Not where I live. So on to plan B or plan next or… we’ll see who calls me tomorrow.

the new arrival

Four weeks ago today she showed up, on the floor of my living room, real and whole and perfect. I was blown away that she actually had all the required digits – ten fingers, ten toes. And ears and a nose and lovely skin and so very substantial – an actual person! She’s announcing herself in the next room right now, as I haven’t gotten the hang of typing while nursing or rocking or otherwise calming her. She’ll muster the strength to transition from grunts to full howls momentarily, and then, after another feeding, I’ll have to decide whether I’ll turn in for a few hours as she launches into an evening nap. Our days consist of feeding, napping, diapers, laundry – the usual. What makes it so wonderful, so intimate, is that it’s happening to me. It’s everyone’s story of the days following a healthy birth, and at the same time, it’s meaningless until the story is your own. The baby cries!


Seems there’s no end to the things I can do to make my place more ready for the kid… today vacuuming around the edges of my floors, washing the car seat cover, sorting through music, filling the fridge…

And as for myself – and the dream that suggested I could try to prioritize my own mental state of readiness (or risk coming onto stage out of costume, fumbling lines) –

Well, I’m getting there. Yesterday reviewed the stages of labor with Mom, who labored quickly in a hospital 35 years ago and so appreciated the refresher. She’ll be here in a week! Oh, and the book The Birth Partner is awesome for making those stages understandable, from the point of view of the mom and the caretaker. We’ll have a doula on call in case we need a little help…

Today I’m at 38 weeks, woke from the most vivid, euphorically engaging dream I’ve ever had. Not the topics so much as the overlay of memorable moments – somehow the gorgeous apexes of life wove together seamlessly like waves, one after another, all full color and texture and it hardly matters what it was about. I felt longing and commitment and flow. And there were rowers.

People keep asking me about music and candles. I’m making myself a mix for the ipod, not a big fan of candles, but here’s my secret weapon: I’ve hit upon a rowing power 10 as the best way to get myself into the groove and through the contractions. When I’m mired in a sense of physical depletion, and out of my mind, I can go into a power 10 and find the reserves. I know this from my years on the water, when I learned that I can feel more pain and push through more pain than my mind was ever interested in acknowledging. So I’ll be counting.

Meanwhile I’ve been steeping sitz bath herbs on the stove and dunking huge maxi pads in the “tea” to stick in the freezer for when my nether regions are all used up and sad. What will the midwives think of next! I’ll let you know if they’re a life saver. Honestly I’m amazed I’m getting to all this stuff – usually I’m the type to finish studying for a test a few minutes before it starts, and maybe I liked the punishment of staying up all night writing a paper but, since this babe didn’t come extra early, I’m actually getting all the work done. So, back to the glorious indulgence of Grey’s Anatomy season 3 re-runs…

baby twister

The kid is alternately doing laps today and stretching diagonally from right rib (green) to left spleen (yellow). I was obsessed with Twister when I was little, was always trying to get people (adults) to play with me (which they didn’t, for reasons I now understand). Well, it seems I may have a suitable playmate soon…

A little spotting today, which could mean she’ll come a week or two early, midwife says. Or it means nothing, and my cervix is just acting out. We’re nearly safe though – 36 weeks and counting, and my midwife is certified to keep me at home from here on out. Apparently this correlates with having been trained in New Mexico, though I’m not sure why – most midwives can only deliver at home from 37 on.

Anyway, pregnancy is progressing, the kid is feeling more and more like a Real Person – not just disembodied limbs. Contrary to what I might have predicted, this transformation from amorphous fetal concept to real baby has made me more cavalier in these last few weeks. A sort of “good enough” attitude replacing the early paranoia that every bout of stress I experienced would ruin her brain Forever. I hope I can keep that feeling once she emerges, though I suspect we’ll be back at oh-my-god-don’t-break-her til the neck stops wobbling.

One of my colleagues told me she was extra careful with her first pregnancy – monitoring her heartbeat while running, getting about 20 steps in before she slowed to a walk to bring her heart back down again, eating all the right food, generally obsessing. And her son’s an incredibly healthy kid, vivid from the start. Then, for her second pregnancy, she ate what she felt like, went for the lunch meats, etc etc… and her daughter is a duplicate of the first child, incredibly healthy. So there you have it.

This weekend I went to bed with mild uterine twinges and wondered if it was early labor. I dealt with this by declaring “I’m not ready!” and then promptly fell asleep, apparently so that I could deal with it subconsciously. I was in a play, helping to set up the stage (we were tiling it with sheets of white office paper) an hour before the performance. This laying out of paper and preventing people from messing it up was a consuming project, though I had this voice in the back of my mind mustering mild alarm around the realization that I wasn’t in costume, no make-up, wasn’t sure I knew my lines, and had no idea where my script was. The metaphor is so obvious I’m almost embarrassed. Yes, the diapers are ready, there’s a sheet on the crib (even if it’s not yet the miracle crib sheet I intend to replace it with) and I spent the holiday washing baby clothes and writing letters. But as far as some sort of mental/physical/emotional gestalt clearly required for labor, well, I guess I’m not sure how well I know my lines.

Time will most certainly tell…