Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Seven years ago, I was sitting in a bowling alley on some godawful date and I started thinking about what qualities I wanted for my future husband/father of my kids. I had just escaped a horrible on-again off-again relationship of more than two years, so I already knew what I didn't want.

As I stared into the computer screen pretending to keep score, I suddenly thought, "I want someone as good as my dad." I had dated a wide variety of guys, but no one had ever come close to being as good as my dad.

A few weeks later, I met Robbie. Now I have two of the world's greatest men in my life and two little boys who will follow in their footsteps. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Miren's Birth Video

As if the pictures and long blog post weren't enough, I made a video too. :)


You will see my butt if you watch this video. There is no blood and nothing pornographic, but there is my butt. I thought a long time about whether I was ok with sharing this and decided that it's important to let people see what a natural homebirth looks like if they are interested.

Plus it's not nearly as bad as when I gave birth to Emerson and Robbie uploaded our entire camera onto photobucket without editing out any of the nipple, crotch, or otherwise gory pictures first. Then he proceeded to send the link to our ENTIRE email list - including my classmates, neighbors, church friends, family members...well, you get the idea. Luckily I realized it and deleted the pictures before everyone saw them, but enough people saw them to permanently strip me of my dignity. Hence, I present you with my butt.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shout Backs for Shout-Outs

I'm trying to teach Emerson how to deflect annoying questions about albinism. This is how our teaching sessions have gone so far:

Me: Emerson, where did you get that white hair?

Emerson: Where did you get that white hair?

Me: No, you say, "From the postman!"

Emerson: You say the postman!!

Me: No, just "the postman."

Emerson: Postman!

Me: Great! Let's try it again. Emerson, where did you get that white hair?

Emerson: Where did you get that white hair?

Me: sigh

I suppose we're making progress considering he now walks around the house randomly shouting, "The postman!!" with great glee.

I got the idea to give him some coaching from a recent NOAH webinar called "Stares, Smirks, and Shout-outs" given by a young woman with albinism. She suggested creating a "comeback bank" and helping kids to practice so they can respond quickly on the days they just don't feel like educating every person and entertaining every ignorant question.

Since I am their spokesperson right now, this exercise would be equally helpful for me. Most of the time I do end up entertaining every question or stupid comment due to a combination of feeling obligated and not being fast enough on my feet. Let me be clear that since the boys are still innocent (and clearly adorable in my unbiased opinion) little kids, no one has been purposely mean. While I would like to respond to stupid questions and comments by punching the person in the face or shooting back some searing insult, it just isn't appropriate. Not to mention I have to model for the kids how to be civil and thoughtful citizens - even when we're having a bad day.

During the webinar many participants wanted suggestions of what adults with albinism use for their own comeback banks, but there were not a ton of suggestions. Probably because coming up with standard answers that are effective without being too insulting is a fine art.

If you want to educate someone, you are going to have to give a standard explanation and then buckle down for the numerous questions that will follow. We've tried handing people a business card with info about albinism to get around this, but usually they will follow you and continue to ask questions about what's on the card. Or you find yourself unable to leave (i.e. on a bus, elevator, etc) and there ends up being an awkward silence while they read it and decide how to respond.

On the days you don't feel like talking, the comeback has to effectively and politely shut down the conversation...or else you might as well have started with the education answer in the first place.

If it can make us chuckle about our strange lot in life at the same time, all the better. Hence, the postman.

I know many of my readers are far wittier than me, so I am putting out a call for suggestions to complete our comeback bank. Here is a list of the common remarks/questions we get so far:

Where did they get that white hair?
(I say "The postman." Robbie's suggestion is, "Yo mamma." Feel free to vote on which answer is better, or come up with an even better answer.)

Why do they have such white hair?

I used to have hair that white! (Sometimes they add: Don't worry, it will change when they get older.)

Is that their natural color?
Or...Do you dye their hair? (You might think these people are being sarcastic. Let me assure you, they are not.)

Why do they have red/pink eyes?

Are they one of those albinos?

From children, who are the right size to make eye contact and thus focus more on eyes than hair): Why are their eyes so weird?

We don't get this one yet, but apparently it's the most common shout-out that adults get:

Hey Caspar!
or Hey Albino!

It may be hard to believe people have so little creativity, but considering some guys once drove by and shouted: "Hey Bookworm!" because I was reading a book on a college campus, I believe it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

To the world's most beautiful mom

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Playlist for the Planet

I've been putting all my extra time and attention toward a new project, so while I play catch up, here is another playlist to share. We are on day one of experimenting with getting rid of the television to save energy and time (aka I don't think TV is evil incarnate), so youtube and internet tv are our only choice.

Pray for us.

(If you have any nature/environmental videos your kids like, please share!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank You!!!

Thanks to your generosity, we collected enough sunscreen to fill a large flat rate box! It's off to Under the Same Sun and then to Africa where it's so desperately needed.

Considering that a bottle of sunscreen costs anywhere from $7-$10, this collection is no small feat. In fact, it cracked me up how many people said, "Do you know how expensive sunscreen is?!"

Uh...yeah. :)

We will continue to collect sunscreen in lieu of birthday and Christmas presents, so keep it coming! For more information about this campaign, click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Be True to Your School

These days, I spend most of my time like this:

I have many fascinating and brilliant things to write about (stop snickering), but lately I've been so swamped with three kids and three classes that I just can't get to it. Seriously, I'm so sleep deprived that I developed what I call a "slutter" - a slur and a stutter mixed together. You could arguably add "slut" in there, but that's another story from another time period.

For the most part I love being in school and wish I could be a professional student (unfortunately Robbie curls into the fetal position whenever I say the word "Ph.D.") I'm in no hurry to graduate, but when I have insane weeks like the past couple weeks, I find myself obsessively checking how many classes I have left until graduation. The answer is always the same: too many. 

I spent the first half of grad school at a seminary on the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. I loved commuting there for intensives every January, but the commute - combined with major changes that the school made after the recession hit - became too much for me last year. I transferred to an ecumenical seminary in Detroit that I was already attending as a guest student. 

Hyde Park could look rough if you went too many blocks in any given direction, but for the most part it was a gorgeous, affluent campus. Many of my classmates affectionately called our seminary "Hogwarts" after the old gothic building and the old rumpled staff. 

Now I go to school in an old church in downtown Detroit where most of the neighborhoods are rough. I'm only one of a couple non-Christians, which can be frustrating and lonely sometimes. But there are a lot of things I love about the seminary: the energy, the activism, the racial diversity...the groundskeeper whose name really is Willie. 

Last Saturday after class I took some pictures of the Heidelberg Art Project going on next to the school. The shoes represent people living on the street, but you can find better information about it here.

Typical of the area - one abandoned, one beautifully renovated.

While I was at it, I took some pictures of our school. It's no Hogwarts...but it has a magic all its own. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's Official - I'm Offbeat

I'm so honored that Miren's birth story was published today on Offbeat Mama! It was fitting to re-read the final lines about struggling to remember my gratitude as I sat sipping a "boy this has been a long day from hell" Oberon. Most days I remember. Some days I need a few extra baby smiles...and a good beer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Can They See?

One of the biggest questions I get about the boys and OCA is: what can they see? The short answer is that each person with albinism has varying vision, but generally it's like a low-resolution digital picture.

The longer, much better answer is in this video presentation by NOAH. I'm SO glad this is finally available in a form I can share because the information and pictures are invaluable! It's a little long, but if you want to get the general idea quickly, fast forward to the part that shows visual representations of what a person with 20/20 vision sees compared to what someone with 20/100 or 20/200 vision sees. Emerson's vision at this point is about 20/300 - 20/400 and Fionn is around 20/100 - 20/200.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In the Eye of the Storm

Whenever I see friends and family these days, the first thing out of their mouths is, “So…how is it going with three kids?” They ask the way you might ask someone who just survived a natural disaster, “So…what was it like?”

I suppose that is apt considering some days I feel like the five of us are our own little tornado. We sweep into a room with a flurry of sound and chaotic activity and we leave a trail of destruction in our wake. I’m learning that a successful outing is possible, but requires careful strategizing. Let’s just say I really wish I had paid more attention when I read “The Art of War” in college.

Our first outing was to take Miren to a doctor’s appointment when she was a few days old. The doctor asked me how things were going and I replied in a cocky mother-of-three tone that things were fine. SO much easier the third time. Then I took off her diaper for a weigh-in and she promptly peed all over her only clean diaper, her only outfit, and her only coat. Apparently in my post-partum fog, I had failed to any pack provisions for this new member of our family.

On a date night a few weeks later, Robbie and I left the boys with generous friends while we took Miren to a fancy Italian restaurant (I’d like to pretend we are that romantic, but the truth is, we had a gift certificate). This time we had learned to pack provisions, but then we promptly left those provisions in the diaper bag with the boys. We realized it as we sat down to eat, but figured What’s the worst that can happen in one hour when you have an easy baby like Miren?

You all know where this story is going, right? Halfway through the meal, she pooped like she had never pooped before, right out of that only diaper and only outfit. Robbie had her up on his shoulder and everyone in the restaurant was making googly faces at her as a bright yellow squash blossom bloomed on her back. I attempted to remedy the situation by giving him a handful of paper towels from the bathroom, but somehow coating your newborn in paper towels does not make you look any more competent.

Not long after this incident, I was forced to do my first day all alone with all three kids. Of course, it happened to fall on Emerson’s winter break, so no school to help me out. And we had scheduled a white cane training appointment with the boys’ vision therapist at the mall – a mall packed with people thanks to the aforementioned winter break. We made quite a scene: two white-haired kids wielding large sticks pushing through the crowds while a teacher tries in vain to yell out instructions. I’m trailing behind with a baby strapped to my chest and a giant diaper bag strapped to my back (provisions – check), all the while drunkenly steering an empty double stroller and begging them not to take out anyone’s kneecaps.

As I collapsed onto the couch later that afternoon, I thought, “Sometimes you have to learn by fire. It can only go up from here.”

For once, I was right.

I’ve streamlined my system, learned my limitations, and increased my confidence. As my Facebook friends know, I even did Ikea by myself with all three kids last week. And I lived to tell the tale.

(To be fair, my husband took all three to Detroit’s Eastern Market last Saturday by himself, which is even more impressive than Ikea.)

The past two months have been a haze of visitors, endless snow, multiple rounds of colds and flus, leaking breasts, exhausting outings, night wakings (they tag team so that someone is always having a bad night), and of course, conveyor-belt diaper changes.

But when people ask me “So…how is it going with three kids?” I hear myself answer:

“It’s going great.”

I never thought I would love the newborn stage, but this time I do. It turns out, when you don’t have first-time parent anxiety (for the most part), when you don’t try to combine major life events like starting school or buying a house with having a baby, and when you don’t have to deal with colicky crying or reflux spit-up, the newborn stage is actually kind of awesome. Who knew?

There is one more factor that has made this post-partum period much easier than the first two times: our community. For the first six weeks, we had a friend or family member staying with us and helping almost all the time. We also received a huge outpouring of meals, baby gifts, babysitting, etc. Within an hour of Miren’s birth, a little boy who lives a couple houses down showed up at our door to ask if he could shovel the thick layer of snow that had blanketed the driveway. Every time I looked out the window after a snow storm for the next month, a different neighbor was already out there with a shovel.

I think I have written over 50 thank you cards and there are still more to be done. Being on the receiving end of so much love is truly humbling. Having such a supportive community for Miren to grow up in is truly a blessing.

In the past couple of weeks, however, the magical cocoon of post-partum recovery has finally come off. The guests are long gone. We have to shovel our own snow and cook our own meals again. I spend every day alone with the kids and Robbie takes over at night so I can take three classes. Chores have to get done, bills paid, and long-neglected projects restarted.

As the youngsters say:

Sh@#’s about to get real, yo. 

But I’m not scared. I’ve got a strategy….and a lot of spare diapers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sleep Deprivation

"The Perfect Sleep...Cosleeping" by Julia

Print available for purchase etsy

Sleep Deprivation

She snorts softly through her
Pink pig nose
Bobs her baby bird head in

Her sounds are muffled at first,
They mingle with my dreams,
Prick at the thick woolen coat of
Sleep that wraps around me.

Then the noises escalate, clawing frantically at my
Black shroud,
Demanding to be heard.

Hands, disconnected from my fogged brain,
Are already unbuttoning.
A breast drips blue water-torture-drips in

She drinks voraciously, fists tightly balled,
Unaware of the exhaustion that presses into my eyes like a
Hot iron.
Unappreciative of the aching arm that cradles her thrashing head,
Creating a barrier to
Protect her from the dark.

We will rehearse this scene
Again and again throughout the night,
Unwilling actors
Never quite satisfied with the staging.

But when she stirs in the white warmth
Of morning
When her lashes flutter, then reveal two wide and
Stormy eyes,
When her Cupid’s bow mouth purses with
When her soft jowl cheeks become an irresistible

Then all is forgotten.

All is forgiven.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baby Smiles

I seem to be on a video kick this week, so here's some gratuitous baby videos. You might want to turn down the sound so you don't have to hear our obnoxious voices.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Albinism in the News

Harry's law featured an entire episode about people with albinism from Tanzania seeking refuge in the US due to the killings. This is just a chopped up clip, but the whole show is available online:

A clip from an MNBC documentary about the issue:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Seven Year Itch

At midnight, Robbie and I marked our anniversary with the following exchange:

"Robbie, are you ever coming to bed?"

"Yeah, I'm just flossing."

"Oh, ok. Bring the nasal aspirator with you when you come upstairs."

"The what?"

"The nasal aspirator...the snot sucker for the baby."

"Oh, ok."

And End Scene

Seven years ago, it was a gray and wet Leap Day in Utah. We spent the morning digging my car out of a snow bank, then we hit the road with a sparkly polyester wedding dress and Robbie's crushed velvet tux hanging in the backseat. As we merged onto the freeway headed for Las Vegas, I popped in a CD so we could sing "Going to the Chapel" at the top of our lungs. Somewhere in the middle of the southern Utah desert, Robbie called his mom to tell her he had been dating this girl named Cassi for the past two weeks. He thought it was best to introduce us considering the phone call he would be making to her later on that night.

In our 22-year-old minds, we thought we were going to pull off the greatest practical joke ever. Seven years and three kids later, turns out the joke was on us.

Sucking snot out of a small child at 1am is certainly a far cry from sucking down cocktails the size of a small child in Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville at 1am. But either way it's painful to get out of bed the next morning.

Happy Anniversary dear!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More in the news

A great news video about the campaign to get an American Girl doll with albinism.

A Doll for Kalli

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Albinism in the News

Making Light of Disability - an article on a British woman with albinism

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gratitude - Miren's Birth Story

The morning of Miren's birth, there were birds. Everywhere - birds.

Somewhere around 6am, I started having painful contractions about 20 minutes apart. At first I incorporated them into what became increasingly bizarre dreams. By the third or fourth, I became semi-conscious and aware that it felt like labor. I didn't dare believe it was real - partly because I was convinced that I would go into labor at night like I had with the other two kids, so contractions beginning in the morning were not part of the plan. I had also been woken up by equally painful contractions several times in the previous month, but they quickly petered out.

When I had the fifth contraction and found myself on all fours begging Robbie for back compressions, I immediately thought of the annoying adage: "When it's real, you just know."

I knew.

Since the contractions were still far apart, we went about our normal routine of getting Emerson off to preschool. In the midst of this, about 7:30am, I had a contraction in the bathroom that ended with some bloody show and a few gushes of water. The good news was that any debate about whether it was "real" were now put to rest. The bad news was, this was the one day that was busy for every single person on our birth team.

When Emerson was born, it was a beautiful but glacial 36-hour marathon in a hospital. We decided to have Fionn at home, and it was only 6 whirlwind hours from first contraction to the moment he was born. This time, my history and the fact that it was my third meant everyone was prepared for a very fast labor.

Feeling like a ticking time bomb, I set about calling everyone to break the news. Our midwife was ready to come the moment the labor "shifted" and the rest of the team promised to get off work early so they could be there by early afternoon. Robbie began canceling what was supposed to be a day of back-to-back meetings so he could set up for the birth. (Let me tell you, there's nothing sexier than a man in dockers and work shirt blowing up a birthing pool in your dining room.)

In the midst of our various preparations, I looked out the window and noticed the birds. The slim ornamental pear tree in our front yard was heavy with red-breasted robins. In the 7 years I've lived here, I've never noticed a robin in the winter. In fact, one of the true hallmarks of the beginning of spring (regardless of what the calendars say) is seeing the robins appear.

At several points the robins multiplied and were joined by other birds, forming a disquieting scene straight out of a Hitchcock movie. They were all descending on the tiny pears that clung to the tree, which made sense. But why and how they managed to organize this sudden feeding frenzy was beyond me. Occasionally, I would look out the window and they would all be gone. Then an hour or so later, they would simultaneously reappear. It seemed odd and significant somehow, but mainly watching them was a welcome distraction from the waiting. As each hour passed, I looked at the clock with relief and repeated my internal mantra, "I cannot go into active labor yet. This is a good pace."

Around 1pm our step sister-in-law showed up. She is a close friend and studying to be a doula, so we asked her to come be a helper during the birth. Emerson arrived home and immediately decided that the pool was a bouncy house. When the boys weren't jumping, they were using my body - draped over the birth ball - as a jungle gym. Needless to say, I was relieved when our friend who had agreed to babysit arrived at 3pm to escort them out the door.

With everyone and everything was now in place, it was up to me to "get the show on the road."

Around 4pm, I retreated to the bathroom to contract on the toilet (sounds gross, but it is the perfect height for a supported squat). Despite having two perfect births under my belt and spending several weeks preparing physically and mentally for this moment, I still felt the fear creeping in - threatening to take root. I buried my head in my hands and tried to formulate my next move. But there was only way to go...forward. The moment I let that thought sink in, things began to happen quickly.

The contractions came closer together and I told Robbie it was time for the midwife to come over and check me. I heard him tell her on the phone, "Cassi says she's physically, mentally, emotionally - whatever - ready to have you come check her." The moment he said the word "emotionally," I burst into tears.

I came out of the bathroom ready to change the tone. I turned down the lights, started my labor music, stopped friendly chatter, and focused completely on the contractions. Within a couple of minutes, I told Robbie to call the midwife back and let her know I was in the "zone." This was no longer a casual check, this was it. She called in her apprentice, a friend who lives a good 45 minutes away, and Robbie set up iChat with my parents so they could watch from Utah.

I thought I could hold out on the pool until after the cervical check, but within a couple minutes I was jumping into the sanctuary of hot water. The midwife arrived around 5pm and a check revealed that I was only 4-5 centimeters dilated. I was shocked that I wasn't further along, but I knew it was a meaningless number compared to how I felt. There were only a handful of contractions before I was begging Robbie to get into the tub with me so that he could put his full weight into the back compressions. He complied, but I still called out for more weight.

"I only weigh so much," he huffed, causing the room to erupt in laughter.

I wasn't laughing...I was silently cursing him for not indulging in more hot fudge sundaes over the past 9 months.

Then suddenly the urge to push gripped me in the middle of a contraction. My moans shifted into guttural growls and I knew the baby had dropped rapidly. Sure enough, by the end of the next pushing contraction, she suddenly crowned. I needed a break, but since her head was already part way out, the "ring of fire" was upon me with all its fury. This is the only unbearable part of labor for me, but in the past it only lasted a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, this time she crowned at the end of a contraction and I had to wait until another one to push her out.

I screamed all bloody hell, frantically groped at her head thinking I could somehow pull it out but knowing I couldn't, attempted a tiny push and realized that was no better, said all the irrational things women say in labor ("I can't do it!" "Get her out!"). FINALLY, I was able to push out the rest of the head and collapsed onto the edge of the pool in total relief. There was a long break before I could contract and push out the body, so I knew everyone was sitting there staring at her head. Since I was on all fours, I couldn't see it well enough to know the color of her hair. I told everyone beforehand that I didn't want to know until I had her in my arms, but I still sat there wondering if they weren't saying a word because it was white. Apparently Robbie did whisper in my ear "she has dark hair," but I didn't hear it.

When the rest of the body came at 5:29pm, he caught her in his arms and pulled her to the surface. In an instant I flipped around and was yelling out "She has dark hair!" before my brain had even fully processed the fact. And then she was in my arms, fat and dark and completely gorgeous. In the months before the birth, six different people told me they dreamt about our daughter's birth and she had brown hair. I was grateful that they shared, but I was starting to worry about why I never dreamt about her birth at all, much less what color her hair would be. Robbie and I both started out the pregnancy sure that the baby would not have albinism, but in the last few weeks, we started to doubt our intuition. Of course, we were prepared for either outcome and would have been equally ecstatic if she had white hair. But the sight of dark curls meant a new kind of parenting experience that we were grateful to be able to experience.

While we marveled over the fact that we not only had a daughter, but a daughter with dark hair, the midwife team set about checking her vitals. Her cord was looped around her shoulder, so it became compressed during the pushing and cut down on her oxygen. She was breathing, but her heart rate was a little low and her face a little blue, so the midwife decided to give her a quick breath with an oxygen mask. After only one pump, she grimaced and gave out a strong, angry scream that assured everyone she was just fine. In retrospect, I am amazed that I didn't flip out since I tend to be...well to say anxious pessimist might be a bit of an understatement. But it happened so fast and our midwife team was so incredibly calm and professional, it didn't faze me at all.

The rest of the night was the usual busy-ness of cleaning up, checking the baby (everything perfect thankfully), checking me (very little blood and no tearing thankfully), calling or Facebooking everyone we could think of, and preparing for her to meet her big brothers. When they finally came thundering into the house, we held our breath and expected the worst. The first thing Emerson noticed was that the pool had disappeared. This led to a lot of crying and anger, but we assured him that we traded it in for a much better present - a baby sister. Surprisingly, they both took to her right away, proclaiming over and over, "That baby is so cute!" They still constantly want to hold her, kiss her, inspect all her tiny parts, and don't even get me started on her baby sneezes - apparently they are hilarious to preschoolers. I'm sure the novelty will wear off soon enough, but in the meantime, we are eternally grateful that they adore their little sister.

When all the hub-bub of the birth had died down and we finally got a quiet moment alone with our daughter, I looked at her and thought:

"Love is awful."

I assumed by the third child, I would be a little tougher, more calloused about the whole process. Instead, I stared at her perfection and wondered why on earth I agreed to carve out yet a third chunk of my heart and put it in this fragile bird frame. These past 10 months, she has rustled inside my cupped body, so soft and impossibly small. And then I let her out into the wild, into a lifetime of vulnerability. Now perched just out of my grasp, she turns to face me with a head of downy brown hair, stares with wet dark eyes, and talks in little bird squeaks.

Everyone that came to the house the day of Miren's birth remarked on the birds. I know that, in and of themselves, they have no grand meaning. But in my mind they became a symbol of all that I had gained...and all that I now stood to lose.

I try to immerse myself as much as possible in the constant noise, ruffle three heads of hair, kiss three tiny mouths, and feel overwhelmingly grateful for my abundance. I know in a month I will be standing in line at the grocery store listening to three shrill screams and I will struggle to remember my gratitude.

But hopefully a little bird will remind me.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Miren Kjerstina
Born January 27, 2011
5:30 p.m.
8 lbs 6 oz and 20.5 inches

Miren (Meer-in) is Basque and means "loved one" or "wished-for child." Since it's a variation of Mary, it's our way of honoring Robbie's paternal grandmother Mary and his maternal grandmother Marion. Kjerstina (Key-AIR-stina) is our way of honoring my mother. She hates her first name, but her middle name came from my Danish great great grandmother Rasmina Kjerstina.

One day, when Miren complains about her crazy name, all I have to say is: "It could have been worse - we could have gone with Rasmina."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There is a website for everything

I want to thank my midwife for listening to me vent at our appointment this afternoon - and for pointing me to this website that answers the big question I hear several times a day lately:

Have you had that baby yet?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Killing Me Softly

I alternate between wanting to be productive to distract me from the "waiting," wanting to be completely lazy to avoid making the constant contractions even worse, and focusing on purposely making the contractions worse in a vain attempt to coax her out. The result is that 1) not much is getting done 2) I'm going out of my mind and 3) she still isn't here. My strategy for today is to go back to being productive, suck up the pain and stop being so mean to every breathing thing that crosses my path.

During one of my lazier and happier moments this past week, Empo and I made a YouTube playlist together. I'm not sure how educational the music is, but he is in love with it and it killed quiet time while Fionn took a nap. I'm going to share because some of them are from a new-to-us artist that I think is brilliant: Caspar Babypants. Elizabeth Mitchell is another kid's artist that I'm obsessed with right now, but she doesn't have any good videos that I could find.

If anyone has suggestions for videos to add, please pass them along!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Warning: A Whole Lot of Belly

I've been meaning to post these for a while, so thank you for the reminder Mashawna! I didn't take many pictures this pregnancy, but these will at least give an impression of my hugeness over the past few months. Luckily I haven't gained much weight lately and the baby dropped, so my fears of physically exploding while bending over to put on my shoes haven't come true. Yet.

Around 34 weeks

Around 36 weeks

Today (38.5 weeks)
Don't judge the pajamas - they were on sale

Fionn saw my exposed belly and decided it was a fun toy. Especially my gigantic belly button.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Waiting

Found at joe-ks

A million times a day someone will ask me if I am ready to have this baby. And a million times a day I answer "no."

It's half true...mentally I am ready and excited to meet this baby, but I also can't breathe (not an exaggeration) when I think about parenting three little ones and my still long "to-do before the baby comes" list. Physically, I am dreading labor and yet look forward to it as a great adventure. I am in "pre-labor" most of the day these days, which means I am having painful contractions that are more than Braxton Hicks but less than full labor. I know this is my body doing some of the work ahead of time, and I know it's very common for moms who have been pregnant before, but the near-constant pain is incredibly draining. I panic every night because I think it might be the night, and then I wake up the next day disappointed that I'm still pregnant. I burst into tears over everything and I'm constantly snapping at people (no comments please Robbie). I feel like I need to hide under a porch and be alone like a ferrel cat about to give birth.

In short, I am a mess.

I remember hating this waiting time period with both boys, but I forgot just how MUCH I hated it.

This is a time when I am eternally grateful for my intuitive female friends. Yesterday morning, after a particularly rough night, a couple friends had me over for coffee and an impromptu baby shower. They gave me little pink clothes and cards full of baby faces and let me talk (bitch) about my anxiety.

Today, a different friend sent me a poem, which of course made me cry. And it forced me to slow down and refocus on the actual living baby I'm growing - instead of all the hoopla and logistics of bringing her into the world. Here are the first few lines of the poem that have been reverberating in my head all day:

These Last Few Hours
It is important to me that I spend a part of the next few hours here alone with you in the darkness.
You and I will never be this close again.
By morning you will be a tiny person all your own. No longer the kicking, demanding bulge in my body that I have grown to love so well.

- Dee Dee McCall

Tomorrow (technically today since it's 2am) yet another set of friends is throwing us a painting party to help finish the hall painting project that looms large on our list. It's funny how different the "baby showers" for each of the three babies has been. The first time we had a few of the typical showers, complete with games and presents and mountains of baby blue decorations. The second time I had a spiritual "Blessing Way" with all my close female friends. And this time we are painting. Totally different, and yet each time exactly what we needed.

Earlier, Robbie and I got into yet another name discussion, which never goes well. I offered several new options, he at least considered them (which is a positive step) and then rejected them. Then - out of nowhere - he comes up with Sylvia. I suggested Sylvia a long time ago in this process and he rejected it immediately. Now suddenly he is in love with this name. I am skeptical that the love will last, but I mention it because thinking about the name led me to rediscover one of Sylvia Plath's poems that is fitting for this time period.

(Unless something momentous happens, I promise to let this be the last bitch fest until she is born. After that, I can't be held accountable for what I say or do under the influence of sleep deprivation.)


Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools' Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.

by Xiaohong Zhang, found at The Daily Page