Feathered Aspen


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Thanksgiving, 5 months, 2 years 8 mos

As Lu gets older, those moments where both of the girls are sleeping are fewer and farther between, but now is one of those lucky times, so I just knocked out the last of my homework for nutrition and now on to a much overdue post!

I had intended to write thirty posts of thanks in homage to this thankful season, and while initially, I had thought that I might be able to check off thirty in the month of November, that proved to be a bit too ambitious.  Nevertheless, the season for thanks is still upon us, so I’m not completely ducking out of the resolution.

Family Update

This past week was wonderful.  My dad, Mandy, Hannah, and Eamon made the drive down to Denver, and we spent four solid days together, including multiple runs, a few walks, Thanksgiving dinner, shabbat, the Art Museum and even a spontaneous nose piercing excursion!  In fact, I ran so much that I’m up to 37 miles for the week!  I can’t remember the last time that happened, and what’s more, I hardly noticed the additional challenge of that increase, because I had such great company.

It’s always good to catch up.  Hannah is about to begin her last semester of her undergraduate, Eamon is a sophomore and excelling in Cross Country, and dad and Mandy are active in the synagogue, running, working long hours, and overseeing a long overdue kitchen renovation.  Rather than getting easier with experience, saying goodbye seems to get harder.  Just think what Lu will look like in two months time!  What will Lily be saying or doing next?  I’m just so grateful that the girls love these guys as much as I do, and watching Lily’s special relationship with Eamon in particular is a treat.

Thankfully, Joshua also had the past week off, and after many long hour s of working on our back two rooms and Sarah’s house, it was a relief to have a bit of time off.

Lu

Lu turned five months yesterday!  And it’s true.  Time absolutely flies into hyperdrive with the second baby.  She’s loving her little excersaucer, rolling onto her front and her back, sitting up unassisted for a few seconds at a time, and even responding more her name and our voices.

For a while there at the beginning of her fourth month, Lu’s wakefulness presented a new set of challenges, and Lily definitely noticed the reduction in the amount of time devoted to her.  It felt like Lu never slept during the day and I could hardly put her down.  Thankfully, that stage has begun to ease a bit, and in the past few days I’ve been able to set Lu down for a few naps.

Despite that challenge, Lu is really an easy, happy baby.  She hardly ever cries, endures the knocks and longer periods of independent play required of a second child with grace, and smiles with all the warmth in her little body.  I’m also so thankful that another stage seems to be passing:  she’s taking the bottle from Joshua better than ever, and they’ve seemed to have worked out a special bounce to ease my absence.  Evenings are still a little tricky when I’m in class or otherwise engaged, but they seem to be getting easier.  As much as I enjoy being able to soothe Lu and getting her smiles, I am relieved when I see her relax without me, and I know Joshua can’t wait for their relationship to take on more and more importance.

*Likes:  Rorsie Lion, the crinkle book.  Her play mat and the dangling toys.  Her exersaucer!  The Bjorn and facing out more and more over all the other carriers.  Snuggling with mommy.  Giggling at sister’s antics.  Car rides (hooray!).

*She’ll pass:  on anything other than a quick nurse in the middle of the night, waking up early (she sleeps in until at least 730 most mornings), a pacifier, and startling noises.  Me being gone in the evenings.

Lily

Oof!  The beginning of November was challenging with this little girl!  We had temper tantrums, tears, and heartache all around.  It really made me sad to see her struggle, and I felt terrible.  You know.  ‘Cos I’m supposed to be able to prevent that from happening 😉

I really do think this past month has been the hardest thus far in terms of adjusting to life with a little sibling.  Lu demanded more attention than ever before, and Lily definitely noticed.  There was some moments of naughty behavior including poking and biting (!), but I’m so happy to report that Lily’s attitude towards Lu has really shifted in the past couple of weeks.  I credit the exersaucer!  All of a sudden, Lu seems like more of an independent little person to Lily, and Lily will play next to the saucer, singing, dancing, and making Lu laugh.  Nothing makes me happier than watching the two of them lock eyes and communicate.

I’ve also had a chance to see more toddlers in action over the past month, and it really makes me appreciate Lily’s individual personality.  Yes, she has moments of naughtiness when it comes to her sister, but she’s actually showing remarkable poise when it comes to sharing and being gentle.  She listens to me very well, and she’s a great and adventurous eater.  She definitely has pretty intense emotions, but as she learns to communicate more and more, those extremes do seem to lessen.

I’m so thankful for this time with Lily.  Our first conversations are pretty thrilling, and I love hearing what she has to say.  Watching her make believe is a new frontier too, and watching her imitate us makes me feel a new surge of responsibility.

*Likes:  the Children’s Museum, Church (“can we do it again?”) and more specifically, the nursery at church and the other kids there, pushing her stuffed toys in strollers, walks, her “big slippy jacket and boots,” the train, going to the park, and dates with mommy and daddy.  And hot chocolate, of course.  Three books and three songs before bed.  The ABCs.  Practicing with scissors.

*She’ll pass:  on my outfit choices, hats, having her hair brushed, using the big girl potty (:(), fried collard greens, and waking up from nap.

Well, that’s all for now.  Lu just woke up, but it’s good to catch up!  Hope you had a wonderful holiday and gave lots of thanks!


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Before she is born

Three months ago, we bought a new house.  Both Joshua and I were excited about the newness and change that accompanies a new home, but I knew enough about home renovation to feel a good bit of trepidation.

Joshua never ceases to amaze me.  He’s a DIY plumber and electrician.  He can build a kitchen and install any appliance.  He’ll look it up on YouTube, call his dad, or buy a book, and he’ll figure it out.  It’s an admirable quality, this can-do attitude.  This Spring, he made the transition from a History Teacher writing his curriculum from scratch to the Dean of Instruction for a new grade in a relatively new high school charter.  He also trained for a 50 mile ultramarathon.

Sometimes, my husband seems like Superman, and sometimes, my husband seems like a crazy person.  I’m comfortable with dichotomies, so let’s just say he’s both.  He’s Superman, and he’s crazy.

The past three months have been difficult.  Between a new house which could only be described as “a challenge” or a “fixer-upper,” an already over-committed husband, and a baby-belly waiting for no man, Superman or crazy, it’s been a test of endurance and sanity.

I’d like to tell you that I’m one of those zen-mamas that takes adversity in stride, finds the calm in the storm, and all that great BS, but who the hell would I be kidding?  I am definitely NOT zen.  When we moved into this new home nearly a month ago, I felt my world slide into chaos.  I had no kitchen, few outlets, no laundry.  Wires were exposed, and there were many gaps in the floor where I could see down into the basement.  At 35 weeks, I was feeling a nearly primal urge to scrub baseboards, launder linens, and windex windows inside and out; instead, I sat paralyzed amid boxes in a construction zone.

Even a task as seemingly simple as hanging artwork had multiple steps: is it an outer wall or inner wall? Lath board and plaster or cement on brick?  Which drill bit do I need and which fastener?  Hanging Ikea frames quickly reduced me to a pregnant mess of tears.  First, there was figuring out how to afix the wire to the frames, then there was the realization that each wire was at a different height, then the complicated mathematical problem of spacing them in an even grid.  It took me hours, and in the end, Joshua had to go back in and redo the fasteners because the entire thing was a catastrophic mess waiting to descend upon a small toddler’s head.

So here I am, pregnant, unskilled in matters of renovation, and unable to perform even the simplest of labors.  My anti-zen mantra went something like this:  “om, no counter, no sink, no stove, no outlets, om, sob, sob.”

We had help.  The Ps let Lily nap at their place probably a dozen times, and they cooked us plenty of meals when we had no kitchen.  Yvonne painted and cleaned up a storm, and K and Jesse helped Joshua move all of our belongings.  Stacy helped me pack up Gray and then went back to clean.  At the end of April, Papa Tim came out to help Joshua with the kitchen.  I can’t imagine doing what we’ve done without them, and I still have a hard time imagining how we did it all, even with them.

On Monday, we finished the “To Do Before Lu is Born List.”  The outlets are wired, the trim is installed, the lights are hung, and the kitchen is done.  Things are unpacked, baby items are put away, and even the front porch is a pleasant place to sit.  The washer and dryer (actually as of this morning) are installed, and we’re nearly finished with all of the loads of laundry.  We vacuumed and mopped, finished painting the trim, and windexed the inside of the windows.  On Tuesday, we hosted friends for dinner.

The house is not done.  There is a maw of a basement, debris all over the yard, two unfinished rooms in the back, nonexistent landscaping in front and back, and the exterior of the house is pretty homely.  But it is enough.  More than enough, really.  It’s a beautiful home, and it’s fairly astounding that Joshua did so much of it all by himself.

This is the story of my last trimester.  I can’t tell it without telling this story as well, but I’d also like to include the things that are a bit more commonplace.

Tomorrow I’m 39 weeks.  It’s been on my mind that Lu could come any day for two weeks now.  I could be pregnant for another day, or I could be pregnant for almost three more weeks.  Who knows?  So here are the stats, big and small, of my second pregnancy.

  • I started showing at 16 weeks.
  • We found out Lu’s gender at 20 weeks.
  • I took maternity leave at 35 weeks.
  • At 38 weeks, I measured 34 cm and had gained 20 lbs, and the midwife scheduled me for an ultrasound.
  • At my ultrasound on Wednesday, we discovered that Lu may be a bit smaller than Lily(who was 7 lbs 5 oz at delivery), but not so small to cause concern.  The guess for Lu at this point is 6 lbs 6 oz.
  • I like being pregnant.  I have a few fairly unglamorous symptoms, but overall, I feel lucky to be able to carry a baby and bring her into the world.
  • As for the unglamorous symptoms:  wicked varicose veins on my left leg, complete with dark purple patches that cover most of my shins and lumpy veins, loose ligaments in my pelvis, strong and frequent braxton hick’s, and cankles that could easily compete in any geriatric ward.
  • Now that I have two pregnancies to compare, here’s what I’d have to say about the differences:  the first trimester was rocky for both Lily and Lu, but it was definitely harder with Lu.  I was nauseated most of the time, EXHAUSTED, and repulsed by a variety of foods and smells.  With Lu, it was mostly the same, but just more intense.  I threw up more often, and it was harder to find time to sleep with a toddler.  The second trimester was pretty similar.  I gained weight and showed more quickly, but in the end, I hit a plateau and found myself at a similar size and weight to where I was with Lily.  The varicose veins were worse the second time around, and I experienced much more back pain this time.  The one thing that did go much better this time around was my exercise regimen.  With Lily, I stopped running at 27 weeks, but I’m still running with Lu.  I had to learn that even if one run was terrible, horrible, miserable, that didn’t mean I would feel the same way the next day.  So, some days I barely run and I mostly walk, but I do still have days where I run nearly two miles (yesterday in fact!).
  • Another thing that I’ve done differently with this second pregnancy is yoga.  You can read an entertaining post on my general feelings towards yoga up until now, but I decided it was time to try it again.  So many people recommend yoga for attempting unmedicated labor, and so I thought, why not?  I bought a five class pack at the Mamahood, and I’m considering buying another for this last bit.  I’ve surprised myself by loving it; for the first time, I’m appreciating the grace of the movement and the mindfulness of breathing.

So this brings me to my hopes for labor.  I’m at peace with waiting for Lu to arrive, but I am drinking raspberry leaf tea by the liter, and I would prefer to deliver before 41 weeks.  I might grumble a bit if I go later than that.  Given my epic labor last time, I have some plans for this time.  They include:  drinking a glass of wine, going to bed, listening to yoga music, concentrating on my breathing.  I plan to keep moving, sit in the water, and maybe even try a few yoga poses.

Above all, I’m excited to meet Lu.  I’m excited to introduce her to Joshua and Lily, to hold her for the first time.  If I deliver her with an unmedicated, vaginal labor, it will be the fulfillment of a hope of mine, but if I learned anything from my first labor, it’s that my hopes and plans are not the same thing as a map or a blue print, and I have to be ok with that, too.  If I should be so lucky as to have another healthy, beautiful little girl, I will be extremely blessed.

So that’s all for now.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying our time together.  On Tuesday, we went to the Science Museum and had friends over for dinner.  Yesterday, we went to the Children’s Museum and Joshua and I had a little date.  Tomorrow, we’re off to the Botanical Gardens and on Saturday, we’re having a playdate with one of Lily’s friends from school.  Today, we drove to Lair O the Bear and played in the river.  It’s been a good few days.