Monday, August 25, 2014

These Days

I was recently telling friends that I think I've been more emotional since Coco's birth than I was after Zuzu's birth. I was so flooded with relief after Zuzu was here and I think that I just rode that high for weeks.

This time I felt nearly the same measure of relief, but I've also had many more moments of sadness. I think that in a strange way, the "normal" happiness we've felt with Coco (as opposed to the mind-blown level of relief we felt after Zuzu) has highlighted everything we were robbed of when we lost Eliza. There was one day when I settled down on the couch with Coco curled up on my chest sleeping, and I just cried because the weight of her felt so exactly perfect and right and all I could think about was how empty and lost and broken I was when we came home from the hospital without our first baby.

I will never forget sitting next to David on our old plaid couches, staring at the windows, waiting for nothing to happen, and wanting to die. All I could think about was how desperate I was to hold my newborn baby girl and instead my arms were literally aching with nothing to hold.

Holding Coco is such a simple pleasure that I will never take for granted, and it may even be a little bittersweet because I know that she will be the last of my babies.

It fills up my heart to see the love and (intense) affection that Zuzu has for Coco, and it also kills me to think about all we missed out on with sisters--all the comparisons and the way Coco looks just like Zuzu as a newborn when they are sleeping, but that she looks so much like her own little person when her big eyes are open... all these comparisons circle back to our first baby and how much I wish we knew more of what she looked like, how even the lovely pictures we have of Eliza just don't do her justice. How much I just want all three of them here together.

Of course, it's easy to let myself imagine some kind of idyllic life with three little girls when of course I know that it would be virtually impossible to have this life we have now plus Eliza. Not to mention that any life with three little ones under four years old is probably a little less than idyllic. The truth is that if we had Eliza, everything would have taken different paths, and we've come too far to be able to turn things back and know how they might have been.

And yet, that rational approach does not stop me from imagining what it might have been like to have Zuzu welcomed home by an enthusiastic big sister, and how it would feel to be snapping Coco into twice-worn onesies.

So, yeah. There has been some of that sadness. Balanced by some crazy, wild happiness:

Zuzu bounding in the room everyday shouting, "I kiss Coco?! I hold her?! My turn?!"

All four of us curled up on the bed on Saturday morning, David reading a book to Zuzu, me nursing Coco, feeling like I just want to bottle up the moment and keep it forever.

Coco's enormous burps and the laugh-out-loud volume of her toots when she fills her diaper.

Zuzu running through the house with a container of Cheerios, being chased by a hopeful Cooper, as she giggles maniacally and says, "Are you having fun, Peeper?"

("Peeper" continues to be the current pronunciation of Cooper, although she can say Cooper if asked. I don't ask her often because "Peeper" is the cutest.)

Zuzu and David having a dance party to the theme song of "Signing Time."

A family outing to the park, through which Coco slept and Zuzu raced around and I could actually keep up with her since the baby was in her bucket seat and not in my belly.

Snuggling (comfortably) with Zuzu in the rocking chair and marveling at how huge and sturdy she became the day Coco was born.

Being more relaxed about nursing and sleeping than we were with Zuzu is also a relief. Don't get me wrong--I still have a couple moments almost everyday where Coco is sleeping so soundly and so still that terror grips my heart until I feel her belly rise under my hand, but overall we are both better-able to enjoy her without constantly fearing that she's about to die.

Which is a terrible way to describe our newborn days with Zuzu, but that's honestly how it was. We were ecstatic to have her and desperately afraid of losing her. These days, the fear is still here. It's just a little less desperate.

More ups than downs, I'm glad to say, but also I think already a little bit of nostalgia for moving past the pregnancy and baby days. I'm relieved to not be thinking about getting pregnant again, but I look at this two-week-old baby and her two-year-old sister and I still don't know how time works...

How can it be more than three and a half years since Eliza died?

How can it be two whole years with Zuzu here?

How can two weeks fly by in an instant?

How can it be 10:30am already when I've barely managed to get myself dressed and get everyone fed?

How can it ONLY be 10:30am when I'm completely exhausted?

And honestly, the time it's taken to write this out has been the longest time I've been able to get all philosophical about things. Because there are diapers to change and babies to feed and toddlers to rock and distractions to invent to keep the dog or the toddler out of the baby's face and laundry to fold and stickers to peel off the sofa and snacks to eat and dishes to unload and mostly if I'm taking a break from all of that, I don't want to do anything except sit and breathe in my good fortune.

If you're wondering, these days good fortune smells like newborn baby perfection and toddler sweat. And, occasionally, it even smells like poopy diapers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Quick Update

Thanks so much for the comments on my last post. The follow-up heel stick at Children's Hospital went much better. Coco still cried, but it took half as long, and our nurse was very kind and competent.

I nursed her right before we went in, and held her little foot in my hand the whole time and the nurse commented on how warm her foot was--so I do think that advice helped!

Unfortunately, we don't get the results until next week, so I'm mostly trying to not think about it.

It's crazy, isn't it, how all the really important things in life are completely out of our control?

The thing that kills me is the part I maybe COULD have controlled.

In fact, as Mama Bear noted, the PKU/newborn screening IS done by smearing blood from the heel on a piece of paper with five little circles. I had this vague idea in my head (hence my mention of "litmus paper" in the previous post) but I'm really mad at myself for NOT realizing that there should have never been a vial involved. I feel like I should have researched it and known what I was getting into so I could have spoken up. Total parenting fail.

Anyway, now we just wait for results (next week!) and try to keep in mind that her doctor isn't worried and everything is likely to be fine.

It's not always easy to be optimistic when we are well-versed in the highly-unlikely most-opposite-of-fine version of events, but so far we are busy and healthy and happy and I just want to keep it that way.

Coco poses as she sleeps

Zuzu poses with her hat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Testing, Testing, and Tears

So far, my time at home with Coco has been pretty spectacular. Once she got rid of all the amniotic fluid she still had in her when she was born (evidently most of that typically gets squeezed out during delivery, but she popped out so fast that she still had a lot of fluid in her belly, which meant that she did not nurse well at all for the first 36 hours or so) and then figured out how to nurse without grinding my nipples into raw hamburger, the nursing thing has gone pretty well. My milk supply could still chill out a little bit, but I'm not going to complain about that when I know that it would be way kites stressful to have the opposite problem.

Overall, Colette seems like an easy baby--though I told my mom last night that I think a lot of that has to do with us. I felt like Zuzu was a chill baby, but I don't remember us really laying Zuzu down to nap when she was this little--she was constantly held and the slightest squawk would stress me out. This time, Coco has to squawk a little bit if she's put down in the pack & play while Zuzu is getting dressed for school and --guess what--by the time I've finished getting Zuzu ready, Coco is asleep and peaceful, and doesn't protest when I load her up in the car seat.

I'm enjoying the relative relaxation that comes with the second [living] baby--I know we'll figure out nursing, I know I won't always be so tired, I know how fast this time will go by. And while things haven't been perfect (bedtime is kind if a disaster these days), I've been relieved at how easily and enthusiastically Zuzu seems to have transitioned to being a big sister.

Seriously: Today I came in from the kitchen with Zuzu's milk and overhead Zuzu saying "I yove you, Coco." Swear to God. My heart exploded.

BUT (you were waiting for a but, right?), this week has had a few special challenges as well. I can handle explosive newborn mustard poop AND dog poop in the basement AND spit-up in my cleavage AND Zuzu being clingy at daycare drop off AND running out of vanilla Joe-Joe's.

But Monday night things got scary. I got a call from the pediatrician's office saying that Coco's newborn screening came back abnormal and needs to be redone.

Nothing like the phrase "abnormal test results" to make me feel panicky.

The nurse I spoke with was very reassuring and said that false positive results often occur when a baby has had the PKU testing before nursing successfully for 24 hours. She also said that 99.99% of the time, the second test comes back just fine.

(I, of course, automatically start calculating how likely it is for us to be the "0.01%" of people at our pediatrician's office whose false positive is, in fact, not false.)

I try to limit my googling, but I did enough to determine that Coco doesn't have the other symptoms that are typical of babies who have a genuine abnormality--she wasn't low birth weight, her head is not small, she's eating and pooping and peeing just fine.

But you know how it is.

I worry.

The second screening meant that Coco had to have another heel stick today. The pediatrician's office said that my insurance required me to go to a specific lab to have the blood drawn, so I made an appointment for this morning. I dropped Zu at school and then Coco and I headed to the lab.

You guys. It was much worse than I thought.

I don't know what I was expecting--a quick heel prick, a smear on a piece of litmus paper or something?

I did not realize that her heel would get stuck and then SQUEEZED in order to make the blood fill up a vial. While she screamed and cried REAL TEARS. The tech started this process with her asleep in her carseat. Once I realized that this process was going to take FOREVER, I insisted on removing her from her car seat and holding her. Meanwhile, the lab tech is trying to tell me it will "go faster" if she's crying. WTF???

I was practically in tears myself and then the lab tech asked if it was my first baby.
I might have been just a little bit snappy when I said no.

So finally it was all over. Poor Coco dozed off in her car seat after I promised her that we would do nothing else but nurse and hang out all day.

We got home and I called David to tell him how horrible it was and to tell him that if I'd known how horrible it was going to be that I wasn't sure I would have taken her by myself and at least it was over and we'd get the results soon.

Instead, I got a call from the lab this afternoon telling me that they DON'T DO the newborn screening that my doctor had ordered.

So they had taken this blood from Coco, run a bilirubin test that she DID NOT NEED and which WAS NOT ORDERED, and now they were calling to inform me that my pediatrician should have sent me to a hospital because their lab doesn't do the newborn screening. (By the way, she's not jaundiced. This is not news. Thanks for NOTHING.)

(I was driving to pick up Zuzu from school when I got this phone call and you better believe I had to PULL THE CAR OVER because I was shaking with rage.)

So I immediately called my pediatrician's office. They were apologetic and said that they had a call in to the lab representative to see why this lab location didn't do this screening.

The only thing I cared about was whether the test would have to be redone. Like can't they just use the same vial of blood?

Of course it does have to be redone. The nurse started to say something about waiting to hear from their lab rep before rescheduling and I interrupted her to say that it made no difference to me if that location did the screening or not because there was no way I was going back there. She was very understanding.

So now I have to take my 11-day-old baby to a children's hospital tomorrow morning to have her OTHER little foot jabbed and squeezed and drained of blood. While we both cry.

And I try not to think about the small possibility that our test results might not be good ones.

What kind of lab tech draws blood for a test they don't do? Why didn't she READ the form before she stuck my baby?

Our pediatrician actually called me himself to apologize and make sure I understood that I won't be charged for this, that I'll have an appointment scheduled at children's hospital tomorrow, and that if my insurance tries to say they won't cover it, that I have the paperwork to say that I tried to go to the lab they work with but they wouldn't do the test. He was also reassuring about not being concerned about the test results--he basically said it's state mandated screening and rescreening if anything comes back funky, and reiterated that she had probably just been tested too early at the hospital.

David wants to call and speak to the manager of the lab. I just want the whole damn thing to be over.

I'm dreading tomorrow's appointment. I don't want to have to cause her more pain.

Even more importantly: I want to get our test results back ASAP and I want her to be okay.


I wrote a long post about how we named Zuzu and thought I would do something similar for Coco.

Except... I don't really have a story here.

Unlike Caroline and Eliza, Colette is not a family name (until now!). It's a name that David and I both happened to like and then love.

If Rerun were a boy, his name would have been William Whillock Duckworth. That was the boy-name plan since before I got pregnant with Eliza.

If Rerun were a girl... we were less certain. There were other contenders--I still like Blair, I pushed hard for Louisa, I also love Violet. David leaned toward Cecily, and I thought Vivian with the nickname Via was downright adorable.

Our little Coco-Bean in her ruffle-butt homecoming outfit. I got Kicky Pants outfits for both of the girls to wear home from the hospital. The fabric is made from bamboo so it's lightweight enough for summer and super soft.
Colette started with David suggesting the name Cosette.

Full disclosure: David has a real weakness for large-scale musicals, and Les Miserables is no exception. He also seems to prefer multi-syllabic, singable girl names. After we saw the musical production of Emma, Emma was totally in the running. Sweeney Todd has a nice little ditty about a Joanna. Then there's "my heart's on fire for Elvira" which actually works nicely if you substitute "Eliza," and don't even get me started on "ROXanne..."

(I'm kidding about that last one. Roxanne was never on our list, although now that I think about Roxanne, I kind of love it. And you know she'd be the only kid in preschool named Roxanne. Roxy! Annie! Xannie! Oxblood! Xanax! So many cute nicknames.)

Anyway, David suggested the name Cosette and I kind of liked it. I actually knew a little girl named Cosette who went by Cosi, and while that was cute, it was kind of too cute for me. Plus I wasn't sure we wanted another C name.

Daddy, Coco, and Daddy's bee-ah--for some reason Zuzu says the word "beer" with a Boston accent
But anytime I'd mention one of the names I liked, David would bring up Cosette, and eventually I said, "Well, what about Colette?"

A quick google search of the name Colette pulled up nothing objectionable, and confirmed my vague recollection from my grad school proficiency course in French translation that there was a French novelist named [Sidonie-Gabrielle] Colette.

And I decided that I could get over the two-C thing. I think I was afraid that it would somehow exclude Eliza further--like Caroline and Colette were a set. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that the name was pretty perfect.  So yeah, we have two C's, but I figured with different middle initials, their monograms will be different and I can always use the initial "Z" for Zuzu if I wanted to.

Of course, I have to say that I also love the nickname Coco.

It's funny because our families don't do nicknames. Everyone with the exception of my dad and David's stepdad goes by their full name (my dad's a Thomas who goes by Tom and David's dad is a David who goes by Dave mostly to avoid confusion, so it's really just dropping a syllable rather than a nickname). In fact, no one in David's family will call Zuzu "Zuzu"--they all use her full name (which I think is kind of weird but I have decided to find it amusing, particularly since she calls herself Zuzu). But I love nicknames.

I just think there is something really sweet about having nice, respectable names like Caroline and Colette and then having ridiculous little nicknames while they are little or that just family uses (because I expect to call them by their nicknames forever!). I don't expect Zuzu to go by Zuzu when she gets to kindergarten (although I guess we'll let her decide?). But I think it's hilarious that they have "formal" names and then sweet nicknames that sound like a pair of yappy dogs: Zuzu and Coco. Adorable.

(And yes, it does make me wonder if we would have come up with a silly nickname for Eliza also, and what it might have been...)

Toward the end of my pregnancy, we would occasionally ask Zuzu if she was going to have a brother or a sister and if the baby was going to be Will or Coco. (Although I also said that William Whillock Duckworth would get called Dubya Dubya Duck). Zuzu would give us a different answer each time, repeating whichever option we listed second. So she was no help and we honestly weren't even sure that she understood the concept of the baby in Mama's belly, especially since she would often want to change the subject to discuss the baby she said was in her belly.

After Colette was born and we called my parents to tell them she was here, they headed up to the hospital with Zuzu. They told her they were going to visit her little sister. She walked into the hospital room (wearing a sweet pink dress, white shoes and ruffly socks, a bow in her hair, carrying a vase with two carnations in it that she had selected for me) and said loudly, "Where my Baby Coco?"

Later, I asked my mom if they had called the baby Coco when they talked to Zuzu about her (since we hadn't mentioned the nickname yet) and my mom said no. Zuzu just put that together on her own.

I hold Coco's hand, Mama.
She does call her Colette once in a while, and enunciates it in the cutest way possible: "Why Co-lette crying, Mama? She want mama-milk?"

We used my maiden name, Taylor, for Colette's middle name, just as we did with Eliza. That was a no-brainer for us. I asked David if he liked it, he said sure, and that was the end of it. I love that they share a middle name, and I kind of wish that Zuzu had the same middle name, even though I also love her middle name (Audrey) and we chose Audrey because we wanted to represent both my side of the family and David's side (it's David's grandfather's mom's name).

The other thing that made the name Colette really appealing for us is that neither of us has ever met a Colette in real life. Considering all the students we've had between the two of us (particularly now that David is principal of a school with more than 750 students), that's pretty remarkable.

Zuzu thought this onesie was Coco's swim suit and got excited about splish-splashing with her. Coco's not quite ready for that!
So that's how we came up with Colette's name. I think it suits her perfectly.

The one and only Coco Duckworth

Friday, August 15, 2014


A few days after Coco was born, I sent an e-mail to my dean at the university where I work. It opened with, "David and I are delighted to announce the birth of our youngest daughter, Colette..." and included the basics--date, time, weight, length. I mentioned that Caroline is very enthusiastic about the baby and calls her Coco. I told him to feel free to share our good news with the university community.

Backstory: I was working fulltime through my pregnancies with both Zuzu/the Deuce and Coco/Rerun, but I did not talk much about babies or pregnancies at work. I'm sure a lot of people assumed that Zuzu was my first pregnancy. If they asked me directly, I corrected them. Otherwise, I said nothing. At that time, I still couldn't talk about Eliza without dissolving into tears, which doesn't exactly scream "competent English professor." As a result, a few members of the faculty knew about Eliza (including one professor in the English department who has become a really close friend), but many did not. 

And I was FINE with that. It's precisely the difference between coworkers and friends, you know? I didn't need to try to explain the depth of my grief with whom I'd had only casual, passing conversations. Let's just bitch about the lack of good vegetarian options in the cafeteria or the apathy of our students. No need to bare our souls in the faculty lounge or while waiting for the copy machine.

So I sent the basic, cheerful, work-appropriate e-mail announcing Colette's birth to my dean with no mention of the heartbreak that came before her. He sent a very kind congratulatory reply, and mentioned that he was going to forward my e-mail to the administrative assistant who sends out campus-wide announcements so that she could share our news (as I had expected and invited him to do).

The next day, there were several notes of congratulation in my inbox, all in response to a campus-wide e-mail that began: "Dr. Taylor and her husband David Duckworth welcomed their second daughter, Colette Taylor Duckworth..."

I read those words and my heart sank. 

It was so, so wrong. 

I didn't know what to do. I almost felt panicky. 

It was true that I hadn't mentioned Eliza in my e-mail to the dean. But-but-BUT I had deliberately chosen the word youngest because (nerd alert!) grammatically it refers to a comparison of more than two things (otherwise she would simply be the younger daughter). 

I know it's a small distinction, and one that nobody pays attention to in modern English, but a distinction nonetheless. One that felt right for a work e-mail. A whisper of acknowledgement for my invisible girl who isn't here to boss or hug or kiss her sisters, but who is still very much my first daughter.

My friend from the English department was coming over that very day to meet Coco, so I asked her what she thought I should do. Were these postpartum hormones making me freak out? Would I look like a crazy person, oversharing my personal life with my colleagues and coworkers if I insisted on this mistake being corrected? Should I just assume that the people who need to know already know and keep my private life private from everyone else? 

"It's important to me," I said to her, my voice breaking.

She told me that she didn't think there was a wrong decision here. I could choose to be private about it and f*ck what anyone else thinks, or I could choose to send out a correction and f*ck what anyone else thinks. 

(Good advice for a myriad of situations, really.)

In this case, I knew immediately that it mattered too much to me to just let it go. I have had three babies. I have given birth three times. I have fallen head over heels in love with three tiny little people before I even had a chance to meet them. I have been a mom since Mother's Day of 2010 and dammit, I want the fact that I have had three daughters to be acknowledged. 

Or at the very least not completely rewritten to the extent that Eliza never even existed. Her life was short enough without being obliterated entirely.

And so I sent an e-mail back to the administrative assistant and asked her to please forward the following to everyone who received the initial announcement:

Thank you so much for all the warm wishes!

One correction: Colette is our third daughter. Our first daughter, Eliza, was stillborn in December 2010, but is very much a loved and missed member of our family. Our second daughter, Caroline, is now an energetic and assertive two-year-old. She and Colette have brought us much joy after the grief of losing Eliza, and I'm so grateful to be able to share the news of a healthy baby and another sweet girl.

Thanks for your kindness and support!

I sent the e-mail quickly, before I could overthink it. With all the back-to-school announcements coming through, I wasn't even sure that people would read it. But it mattered to me that I put the truth out there. And I really liked seeing all three of their names listed. I've had three little girls! That's so crazy! 

Almost immediately, I got a reply from the administrative assistant, who apologized profusely for taking the liberty of assuming that Colette was our second daughter, and explained that she did not know about Eliza (not that I expected her to know). She quickly forwarded my correction.

I got a couple more responses from colleagues--one said she was happy for our family's joy, and another specifically mentioned Eliza as an angel sister. Now, I don't love the idea of Eliza as an angel--I just want her here as a little girl--but if somebody else is saying (or typing) her name and acknowledging her existence, then I'll take it. 

Overall, I'm sure that some people felt awkward or thought it was a weird thing for me to insist that my stillborn daughter still counts. But I will (hopefully) never know who those people are. I expect that other people were surprised because they simply had no idea (not that they should have). 

And even with the small size of our campus, I imagine that the e-mail reached somebody who has lost a child or a niece or a nephew or a grandchild or a friend. And I hope for them it was a reminder that these babies still matter, that their lives still count. 

It's easy to say that our society has an unhealthy way of glossing over the unpleasant reality of loss and death and not talking about things that really matter unless they fit juicy 60-second news bites. But it's damn hard actually to talk about the things that matter when the things that matter are sad and you know they make other people uncomfortable. 

Still, I'm not ashamed of Eliza. She's not a dark secret that no one is allowed to mention. She's my first baby. The only thing more unbearable than losing her is when other people act like she never even existed. 

I'm glad I sent the correction. I'm glad I insisted that Eliza still counts, even when the numbers never add up the way I want them to. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Coco's Birth Story

(Note: I haven't proofread this and I wrote it in bits and pieces so I hope it's somewhat coherent.)

I was scheduled to be induced Wednesday night (August 6th) at 9pm. I kept thinking that I'd go into labor before that, but... it didn't happen.

Once Rerun had flipped around so she was head-down, I was ready to go. I thought I was doing pretty well in terms of anxiety, but a high fluid measurement at one of my NST/BPP monitoring sessions (30cm!) had me pretty freaked out. While too much fluid is generally better than too little, I know that there are also risks associated with high fluid levels. I was told that the normal range is 10-25cm, and when I was re-measured before leaving my appointment that day (they do that when you start crying), another nurse got 26cm. Obviously it's not an exact science (in fact, so little about pregnancy IS an exact science that it is kind of frightening). Measurements can vary considerably depending on the position of the baby and whether the baby moves during the process. But none of this felt reassuring.

Still, I trusted my doctor. I kept reminding myself that I am not that kind of doctor (haha) and, as one of my friends helpfully reminded me, Dr. W__ knows my whole story. He was not going to mess around with the health of my baby or my mental health. If he felt the risks outweighed the benefits, we'd induce. If he felt the benefits of me staying pregnant outweighed the risks, I'd stay pregnant.

I continued being monitored twice a week and everything looked fine, although my fluid remained between 23 and 25cm until my final appointment, the week of my due date, when it was 20cm.

My official due date was Thursday, August 7th. My doctor was going out of town early Friday morning, so that's how we determined my induction date/time. David and I both really wanted my regular OB to be the one who delivered Rerun, since he was there for Eliza and Zuzu and really did everything he could to reassurance during both of my pregnancies after loss.

Anyway, of course when Wednesday evening rolls around, the hospital was full and they delayed our arrival time. They ended up calling us with a room free around 11pm and by the time we arrived and got checked in, it was midnight.

I went in with a very loose birth plan:

(1) Healthy baby
(2) As few needles as possible

I ended up working with a doula, which was the best decision we possibly could have made. (More on that later). Still, while I was trying to set up a scenario that would allow me to have another intervention-free birth (NO NEEDLES), I was not dead-set on avoiding an epidural. In fact, my doula and I talked about how an epidural can be a gift you give yourself, and I was open to that idea. 

I certainly was not considering a c-section to be a "worse-case scenario." The idea was that we CAN'T plan labor, we can't predict what will happen, and all I wanted was to leave the hospital with a healthy baby in my arms. If I could do that without having to deal with needles, then I would be very happy.

Anyway, the plan was to start with Cervidil around 1am. Cervidil is an insert that releases hormones that encourage the cervix to efface and dilate. When we did this with Zuzu, my body responded really well. In fact, it jump-started my body into labor so I did not require Pitocin. We were hoping for a repeat performance, because that meant that I could avoid an IV. 

We were ready to go, but at 1am the nurse came in to explain that they were going to have to delay starting my Cervidil because they had too many moms in active labor. She said the new plan was to start it at 3am.

So we tried to sleep for a couple of hours. My Cervidil finally got started, and then we went back to sleep for a few more hours. In fact, I ended up dozing off and on until about 8:30am, when contractions got a little more serious. 

Throughout the morning, David and I talked about when we should call the doula. My contractions started to become pretty regular, but not super intense. Then they were intense enough that I wanted pressure and a heating pad on my low back. About that time, it was close to noon and our doula arrived.

At this point, I was sitting on the ball in the room, leaning on the bed. I was able to talk normally between contractions, and I could feel each one starting, at which point I would say something to David like "Pressure," or (later, and very dramatically) "Help me" and then he (and later, our amazing doula) would push the heating pad against my low back while I took deep breaths.

I did not think about Bradley classes or hynobirth CDs during contractions. I thought about yoga breathing--how you breath into a stretch--and that helped me enormously. I also tried to keep my voice low (as in deep).

When I think back on my birth experience with Zuzu, I was so incredibly tense. It turns out, you can have a baby through gritted teeth and tense muscles, but I don't recommend it. You end up with a zillion stitches in your hoo-ha.

My doula was great because she didn't talk much and she found the right places to put pressure on my back, but she was also great because the things she said resonated with me. The most important one was "Use your breath."

So lots of childbirth classes talk about breath and breathing and blah blah blah. Not to mention it's like the stereotype of birthing moms doing those stupid breathing exercises in the movies. The idea of breathing to make the pain more manageable, or breathing to "relax" seems laughable to me. But the idea of using your breath to control or release muscles made sense to me.

At some point after I felt like I'd been laboring a long time, the nurse checked my cervix and I was dilated to a 4. One whopping centimeter after all that time and effort! It was really discouraging.

Anyway, as my contractions got more intense, I moved to the shower so I could get warm water along with pressure on my low back and they also filled up the water tub in the room. The shower was okay, but I spent most of my labor with Zuzu in the shower and it actually did not bring back good memories--I got pretty panicky when I was in the shower with her. Mostly I remember thinking that the baby was broken into pieces. 

I had mentioned this irrational fear in a conversation with my doula and she asked me if I'd said that out loud. I said no, that I knew it was crazy, but that I also believed it at the same time. She mentioned that it was a good idea to speak fears and acknowledge them so that we can move past them. 

This time around, I moved to the tub, which of course felt amazing. By the time I got in the tub, I was dilated to an 8, which had really happened pretty fast. Once I was in the tub, I relaxed a little bit and was able to rest between contractions but DAMN they still hurt, even in the water.

I asked my doula what time it was and she told me it was about 2:30pm. (Sidenote: I know sometimes people think it's better not to know what time it is or how long things have been going or whatever, but for me personally, I wanted to see my contractions and the baby's heart rate going on the monitor, I wanted to know how dilated I was (even when it wasn't as much as I'd hoped), and I wanted to know what time it was.) 

She asked me why I wanted to know and I told her that I could keep going until 6:00pm, but then they were going to have to KNOCK ME OUT.

She agreed to that plan.

I just needed to have clear parameters in place, I guess.

Anyway, I was doing pretty good drinking my water and I even ate part of an orange popsicle in between contractions. I had a cute little mantra, "Come on, baby. Come on, baby." My doula kept reminding me, "Your baby knows the way! This baby knows the way!" (She also referred to the baby as a "she" the whole time, which I just thought was like a pro-feminist choice of pronouns, but it turns out that she thought I had told her the baby was a girl!) 

Once I was in the tub, things started moving fast. I had a couple monster contractions and I kept asking if the baby's heartrate was okay (it was fine). Then my water broke in the tub. At first that felt like a big relief and then the contractions got even MORE BRUTAL as I basically dilated from 8cm to 10cm in about thirty seconds. (At least that's how I remember it.)

After my water broke, the contractions were so intense that I dry heaved a couple of times, but I did not barf!!! The orange popsicle stayed down! It was awesome.

And then I was ready to push. I believe I announced this, and I also said that I was scared to push because I didn't want to tear. (I tore so much with Zuzu that I was painfully sore for weeks after.) So we talked about taking it slow and allowing my body to stretch, which yeah, sounds good in theory, but is so counter-intuitive because as much as I didn't want to tear, I also wanted it to all be OVER.

Of course everyone wanted me to move to the bed to push and of course I did not want to get out of the tub because OMG contractions.

So I said, "Nope. I can't go to the bed."

My doula said, "Oh, I bet you can. Let's go now while you're on a break." (Hilarious that she referred to being between contractions as being "on a break" but I totally bought into that jargon.)

So I moved to the bed and ended up on my hands and knees. I had intended to lie down, but another contraction hit and it's not like you can voluntarily reposition yourself during a contraction. You just do whatever you can to get through it.

(Interestingly, I never once thought about getting an epidural. By the time I thought I needed one, I was literally pushing the baby out.)

So that contraction on the bed was the WORST. I was also experiencing what is fondly called the "ring of fire" where you are SO READY to push even though you know pushing will be HORRIBLE.

At this point, everyone is realizing that the baby is coming like RIGHT NOW and my doctor is still not there.

So I'm feeling the terrible burning sensation in my hoo-ha, at the same time it basically feels like a foreign creature is stabbing me on the inside of my abdomen with fistfulls of dull knives, and all I can think is that it's almost over, when people start telling me NOT TO PUSH.

Again, it's not like this pushing thing is a voluntary decision. It's more like a choice between dying of sheer physical agony or pushing out a baby. Your body makes the choice for you.

But David was all, "Don't you want to wait for Dr. W__ to get here?" and I was thinking, No, where Dr. W__ is basically the LAST THING I care about right now. Somebody back there just catch this baby!

They (two nurses, David, and the doula) kept mentioning that I should wait for the doctor and not push. This was infuriating, given that it felt like my options were (1) push or (2) die in agony.

So I kind of lost my shit. And I yelled, "NO! This is a horror movie! GET IT OUT OF ME!"

Not to mention the fact that my body was not listening to them. One of the nurses said, "She's pushing," and I snapped, "I am not!" because it was truly a physical reaction and nothing I was doing on purpose.

My doula dropped the talk about waiting for the doctor and just kept assuring me that if I could breathe through a couple of contractions without pushing that I wouldn't tear. Accommodating my doctor's schedule was not on my agenda, but this was an incentive I could get behind.

So I panted through another contraction and then there was no holding back. I was quite confident that my nurse could catch the baby by herself.

It was literally right at this moment that my doctor arrived. He'd parked illegally in front of the hospital and rushed up to labor and delivery. He walked into the room and said, "I'm here" (although I didn't hear him say this--David told me later). And then he caught the baby--he didn't even have time to wash it hands or put on gloves.

He told me to take the baby, so I picked her up and I moved the cord to see that it was ANOTHER GIRL. 

When I first got pregnant, I was sure it was another girl because I could only imagine having girls--it's all I knew! But over the course of my pregnancy, I think I was influenced by everyone (okay, almost everyone) saying that it was a boy. Strangers at the park would look at my stomach and tell me it was a boy. Three friends of mine were pregnant when I got pregnant, and all three of them had girls, so it just seemed like the odds were that I would have the boy. I was trying to get excited about miniature golfer hats and seersucker pants and jon-jons, but the truth is that I was thrilled to have another girl, thrilled to re-use some of Zuzu and Eliza's clothes, and thrilled to have the experience of raising sisters. So it was an awesome and emotional moment.

Colette was crying and David was crying and I was laughing with relief because OMG the agony was over!

It was 2:57pm. So in less than half an hour, I'd gone from 8cm dilated to pushing out the baby. In retrospect, I can see why my doctor almost didn't make it there!

I handed the baby to David to get myself turned around and situated on the bed--everything had happened so fast. Coco chose that moment to shat meconium all over David. Like down his arms and dripping off his clothes. It was hilarious. David just stood there grinning, holding the naked baby, both of them covered in meconium.

And then it was all the business end of the deal--delivering the placenta, cleaning me up a little and wiping off the baby, and the amazing announcement that I had NO tearing and required NO stitches.

(After "healthy baby," this was the best news I'd heard all day.)

It was awesomely unbelievable, and even more so after they weighed the baby and announced she weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces. 20 1/4 inches long. Easy to remember for a baby born on 8.7.2014!

We named her Colette Taylor Duckworth and we marveled over her head full of dark hair. She looks a lot like her sisters did as newborns, but she's also very much her own person.

I have lots more to say about my postpartum recovery, and the story behind Colette's name, and how we ended up with a doula (and why it was the best decision ever), and Zuzu's reaction to her meeting her little sister, and why the hell breastfeeding has to be so f*cking uncomfortable before it gets easy, and the amazing nurse who worked with us at the hospital, and how relieved I am to have all my pregnancies behind me. So, more posts to come! 

In the meantime, a few more photos:

Bop and Grammy with the girls. Zuzu insists on holding the baby by herself: "No, Grammy! MY hold Coco!"
Zuzu's enthusiastic loving: "I kiss Coco!"
And I want to say thanks again for all the good thoughts and well wishes that have come our way. 

Snuggling with Daddy
The outcome of a healthy baby might be the most common outcome for pregnancy, but the miracle of it is never lost on me. We are so happy to have Colette here with us.

I recommend ordering babies with extra-large cheeks for smooching.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Introducing Baby Coco

Colette Taylor Duckworth was born at 2:57pm on 8.7.2014. She weighed 8 lbs 7 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long.

She's gorgeous and looks a lot like her sisters except she has a head of dark, wavy hair!

We are thrilled that she's here and so grateful for the comments and emails and texts of support. Thanks for the love and for thinking of all three of our girls.

Birth story to follow soon. It's a doozy!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Diaper Drama

About a month ago--shortly after Zuzu turned 2--I gave up on cloth diapers.

Don't get me wrong--I loved using them for the past two years. Well, loved may be too strong of a word, considering what they were used for, but seriously, cloth diapers worked really well for us. Yes, it meant more laundry, but I would totally do it again (in fact, I hope to be doing it again very soon with Rerun).

The problem was that since Zuzu has gotten older, her, um, projects, arrive in her pants with less frequency and more volume.

They are also super effing gross. (Especially since she loves fruit so damn much--let's be real: I haven't seen a solid turd in months. She is possibly the least constipated child on earth who doesn't have some kind of terrible water-born parasite. Not that I'm saying she has diarrhea [OH MY WORD I just wrote that--I'm sorry--I understand if you are totally done reading this blog now and forever] It's more like the consistency of hummus [Okay, now you're done, right?]).

ANYWAY, it just got to the point where our trusty cloth diapers required a hemp insert for regular use (previously we only needed it at night) or we were getting leaks. Mama does not deal super well with leaks.

And probably being pregnant also had something to do with a lower tolerance for the super disgustingness, especially when we'd bring home a bag of dirty diapers from daycare. There was always one (or two!) poopy ones that I then had to deal with (since I'm the one who picks her up and also the one who does the laundry). So I would have to try not to gag while spraying old, cold, hummus-textured poop out of her diaper(s) and then taking the whole stinking bag down to the laundry, while David enjoyed the non-poop-smell of his office hours and commute home.

When leaking overnight became a nearly every-day thing, that was another deal breaker. Changing the crib sheet is a total pain in the ass anyway, but struggling to do it with an enormous baby bump made it virtually impossible, and also I hated the idea of her sleeping on pee-soaked sheets for part of the night.

Let's also remember that I had NEVER planned to have two babies in cloth diapers. I think if I were a SAHM mom whose laundry hours weren't limited to the evenings, I might consider it. But even with a semester-long maternity leave, I'm just not tackling it.

In order to get Zuzu's diapers cleaned to my satisfaction, I run them through the washer three times:

(1) quick wash on cold with just a pinch of detergent
(2) hot wash, extra long, regular scoop of detergent (we still use Charlie's Soap for everything and subscribe to regular deliveries of it through Amazon)
(3) warm wash, no detergent to ensure thorough rinse

That process takes a while (a little more than two hours, total), especially because I have to go down to the basement to start each cycle. So if I forget to set a timer on my phone or don't think about it, the 2 plus hours stretches out to several hours and we end up with a load of diapers that doesn't get put in the dryer before we're ready for bed. If they finish the last cycle and sit in the washer wet overnight, then I want to give them another hot rinse before drying them, which stretches out the cycle even longer. And that's super annoying.

Of course, having to wash diapers at home is obviously an inconvenience no matter what, but for me personally, it was worth it. I have NO REGRETS about cloth diapering for two years. I'm actually really, really glad we did it. I still hate thinking about the environmental impact of disposable diapers (although I do realize there is an environmental impact to extra loads of laundry). Once the initial stink was dealt with, it's not like it's hard to punch a few buttons on the washing machine. So it wasn't until the disgustingness factor got amped up and the leakiness became an issue that I decided I just couldn't deal.

(Very) long story short: I finally declared that we were DONE with cloth diapers.

(There might have been a little more rage, angst, and dramatic dumping of all cloth diapers out of her dresser drawer, but you get the idea).

My plan now is to have them professionally cleaned by a diaper service and then re-use them all for Rerun as soon as his/her little thighs chunk up enough to fit in the one-size diapers. I need to schedule that deep-cleaning soon, come to think of it! We have never had issues with ongoing stink, but we have had some staining--mostly because I've been too lazy to dry the diapers out in the sun. So we'll get a nice fresh start with Rerun. As I recall, we have a little bit of time. I think Zuzu was about 7 or 8 weeks old before her legs were chunky enough to switch from the teensy newborn disposables to cloth diapers.

While I wish we could say that Zuzu made a seamless transition from cloth diapers to BIG GIRL PANTIES, alas, that is not the case. We tried pull-ups and she seemed really excited about Minnie Mouse on her undies but not excited enough to not piss all over Minnie (literally).

So I decided to forget about that nonsense of "big girl panties" that I still had to change like a diaper and now we're back to Seventh Generation diapers (They are ugly and brown! They may be filled with mulch!). Also: EXPENSIVE! Damn. I'm remembering why I wanted to cloth diaper to begin with. It's like pissing away money (literally and figuratively) while also clogging up landfills. Makes me itchy on both levels.

And yet, I'm still buying them.

Honestly, I worry a little that we're taking steps backward in potty training since cloth diapers are supposed to help kiddos potty train faster. But since potty-training has been half-assed at best around here, I'm trying to cut myself some slack and just work with what we've got going now.

There was a time when I thought we might do the 3-day intensive potty training that people talk about, but the truth is that I haven't had the energy for it. I would get SO annoyed about "false alarms" when she'd say she had to pee-pee on the potty but really just wanted to mess around on the potty and then run through the house with her pants off. With Rerun being breech for so long, I have been much more physically uncomfortable during this pregnancy than my first two, and bending over to wrestle a two-year-old in and out of pull-ups or training pants or whatever was just beyond what I was willing to endure.

Not to mention the fact, that her interest has been, let's say, limited and at times she seems genuinely confused by the fact that she just peed herself (see the "run through the house with her pants off" moments above), so maybe we're just not quite ready.

Confession: I wanted to have her potty-trained by the time she was two and I wanted to feel very smug about it. So far, our potty-training experience has been an ENORMOUS readjustment of my own parenting expectations. Oh, Zuzu. She likes to keep us guessing.

And, really, that's fine. We've been dealing with some other transitions here: gently weaning from the binky, trying to cope with crib-climbing, realizing that we are SO NOT READY for a toddler bed, figuring out how to deal with a child who naps beautifully at daycare and does not nap consistently at home, fighting bedtime...

Remember, we're keeping her in her room and her crib even after the baby gets here. Part of my plan for an easy adjustment to new sibling! I wasn't planning on dealing with ANY of this sleep/nap/bed/binky stuff until after Rerun was here and we'd figured out that transition.

(NEWSFLASH: Parenting is actually "Realizing that your kid doesn't care about what you had planned, making up shit as you go along, and frantically googling it to see if someone out there who doesn't seem totally insane might also agree with your strategies").

I ordered a few cloth training pants and old-school plastic training pants covers from Amazon, but I just haven't had the energy or enthusiasm to seriously tackle potty-training yet. For now, my plan is to chill out until we've all made the new-baby adjustment, and then see where we are.

In the meantime, we'll talk about how awesome it is to pee on the potty and see if she decides to do it. We still have her sit on the potty when we do diaper changes at home (always too late--always!) and first thing in the morning and right before bed. We'll keep up this routine and maybe one of these days something will click?

The random and incredibly infrequent pee-pees that have happened in the potty get much praise and celebration; however, our Zuzu is many wonderful things, but she is not much of a people-pleaser. Whether we praise her for peeing or screech at her for putting herself in harm's way, she pretty much does what SHE wants to do.

Here's hoping that pretty soon SHE wants to pee on the potty as much as we want her to.

Alternatively, I suppose I could start teaching her how to do the laundry...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Still Pregnant, Part II

So, yeah. I'm at the point where friends have actually told me that if I don't respond to a text within 10 minutes, they assume SHE IS IN LABOR.

I am not in labor.

But I would like to be.

Perhaps being slightly more mentally chill at this point is what is allowing me to feel far more physically uncomfortable than I remember being last time around. The carpal tunnel thing is a serious pain in the wrists and also in my feet. My ankles/feet usually feel normal after I've been awake for a bit in the morning, but the wrist/hand pain has started to linger. Driving my car today, it hurt to grip the steering wheel. I lumber to the bathroom every single night at either 3:19 am or 4:10 am, depending on whether I fall asleep before or after 10:30 pm. I can FEEL my hips and pelvis stretching apart and I literally waddle everywhere.

And yet, I'm having no serious contractions and am dilated 1 whopping centimeter.

And so it goes. Walking that weird line between knowing how lucky I am to be pregnant at full term with what appears to be a healthy baby and wishing really hard that said baby would evacuate my uterus already because damn I am cumbersome and uncomfortable.

Today I distracted myself by taking advantage of tax-free back-to-school shopping and hitting a few consignment shops to see what I could find to supplement Zuzu's hand-me-downs. We've seriously been so lucky to receive clothes from a good friend of ours and a few things from David's cousin, both of whom like the same styles/brands that I like in little girl clothes. (My favorites are Tea Collection and Mini-Boden.) I need to pick up a few basics--some separates, and probably a winter coat for playing the snow--but I also looked for a couple of cute things to add to what's already hanging in her closet for fall.

Buying ahead in season/size is still tricky for me. I bought a lot of stuff for Eliza when I was pregnant and summer things went on clearance, and I just gave away the last of the outfits that seasonally didn't work for Zuzu and won't work for Rerun either, even if Rerun turns out to be a girl. So any time I do it, I feel a little shiver of apprehension like I'm tempting fate. But I take a deep breath and I buy it anyway, because I don't need to let fear suck the joy out of shopping. And also I love a good bargain.

Anyway, I picked up a few things for this fall/winter, including a darling J&J jacket, a couple little dresses, and one hot pink velour warm-up suit. Zuzu has been one of those babies who wears the size she is for the most part. She's currently wearing a combination of 18-24 months clothes and some 2T stuff that doesn't show any signs of getting too small.

She actually accompanied me shopping to the first two shops so that David could get some work done at home and was reasonably well-behaved (it helped that both shops had a children's play area). The problem arose when she didn't want to leave the first store's train table. I'm not really in great shape for carrying a kicking, screaming toddler. Plus, who wants to be that parent, right? So when she was reluctant to leave, I bribed her with $1 sunglasses. They are hot pink with rhinestones. They are awesome. She was delighted, and left the store smiling. Totally worth $1.

Hey, Hollywood!
We had a fun mid-week visit from my friend Caroline and her two kiddos. It was great to see them, and Zuzu played pretty well with both Finn and baby Mary. Of course, I wanted her to be less territorial about her toys and gentler with baby Mary, but there were no major crises. Probably just because Finn and Mary were so chill. Like, they sleep when they travel. I can't even imagine! (Seriously, Caroline had both her kids asleep before we got Zuzu to go to bed Wednesday night.)

Zuzu was quite smitten with Baby Mary and loved tickling her, although Zuzu was quite perturbed when Mary didn't want the binky that Zuzu forcefully and constantly offered to her. I told David we are going to hold off on giving Rerun a binky because I don't want to deal with Zuzu shoving it in the baby's face. She's like the binky patrol.

Zuzu and Finn had a good time at the park and I wished that they all could have stayed another night. If only because it is really damn difficult to have a conversation with an adult while simultaneously negotiating the needs of a two-year-old, three-year-old, and seven-month-old! Caroline did get some time to chat after the kids went to bed, but I wish we'd had more time to hang out. We spent all morning at the park on Thursday, but we were basically chasing kids the entire time. I confessed to her that as much as I love this stage of Zuzu, I'm also looking forward to the point in time when taking the kids to the park also means taking a novel and parking my butt on a bench. #MOTY

No bench-sitting when this one is on the loose.
Swingin' with Finn
Splashin' with Finn
Slidin' with Finn
Zuzu has been astonishing us lately with how grown-up she seems. I don't know if it's because there's a wee one on the way so we're just thinking of her as more of a big sister than our little baby, or if she really is looking more like a little girl. Her hair is getting mullet-ish and should probably be trimmed again. Her tummy is slimming down along with her thighs. But she still has no bangs and a baby face, thankfully!

She's really gotten going with stringing sentences together, and she's so fearless and remarkably agile when it comes to climbing and jumping and balancing. Even her daycare teachers have commented on her balance and agility. So I guess maybe she got David's hazel eyes and his athleticism? Today she jumped all through house announcing, "I jumping! Mama, I jumping!"

She cracked us up the other night when I mentioned that she'd had hummus for lunch and she kept saying over and over, "I like hummus. I love bread."

I guess it's a normal thing for toddlers to do this broken-record thing where they repeat the same statement over and over and over again even when you've acknowledged it? (My mom tells the story of me repeatedly asking "Where Santa go?" when Santa passed us in a semi-truck around Christmas one year and I couldn't stop talking about it for the last two hours of our car trip.)

But man, at some point I'm finally like, "Honey, YES. I heard you the first seventy-five times you repeated that statement. Could we take this conversation in another direction?"

Okay, Mama! I like hummus. I love bread.

It's also really cute how she switches back and forth from first person "I" to third person "Zuzu." She doesn't seem to have any confusion about being both Zuzu and Caroline, as she will answer to both and will say "Caroline Duckworth" when I ask for her whole name (assuming she's feeling cooperative and not ignoring me entirely), but she seems to prefer to call herself Zuzu. (So, great choice on nicknames, Mama and Daddy!)

Tonight when we face-timed with Grammy and Bop, I told her to say good-bye and she said, "Bye-bye! See you later!" See you later? What are you? A teenager?

Anyway, that's the rundown on what's happening here today. I hope to be making more exciting announcements soon, but in the meantime I can always post about the Zuzu cloth/disposable diaper situation (because the Internet wants to know, you guys), and/or how I ended up freaking out and then getting a doula at the very last minute, and/or how I want to be BFFs with Chip & Joanna Gaines and also borrow Joanna's wardrobe. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Still Pregnant

I'm still pregnant. My anxiety is getting more intense as my due date approaches. A few mild contractions here and there. Honestly, I'm ready for Rerun to get this show on the road. I'd love it for this baby to decide to come in July instead of August. Anytime now, Rerun! Anytime.

My parents have been in town this weekend, hanging out with Zuzu so David and I could go to a wedding Saturday night and go out to dinner tonight. I did some dancing at the wedding, thinking I just might shimmy this baby out. Evidently the baby did not get the memo.

It's been nice having my mom and dad here, although Zuzu has totally dropped Mama for Grammy and Bop. I am like persona non grata around here. Even this morning, when I lugged her upstairs for a poopie diaper change, she started yelling, "No, Mama! Gammy's turn!" (She's very insistent about knowing whose turn it is to do various things--mostly it's always her turn. She has also just started saying "Gammy" instead of "Mammy," but it looks like "Bop" in lieu of "Gramps" is here to stay.). I was like, "Well, I wish it were Grammy's turn because this diaper is making me want to hurl, but I'm going to go ahead and finish this up and maybe you could thank me for wiping your stinky bum, how about that?" The only time I get sweet hugs and kisses from her is when she's telling me bye-bye so she can go somewhere fun with Grammy and Bop.

My daughter is a pooping marvel who has only skipped one day in the nearly-twenty-five-months of her life and has yet to put any of it in the potty. She DID pee in the potty yesterday, and we celebrated that pretty huge (seriously, the pee in the potty got WAY more celebration than our anniversary did--I didn't even blog about it. #lame)

I now require a daily nap.

I have a new favorite nail polish color. It's Essie's Bikini so Teeny. It's the perfect shade of light blue that tends toward lavender instead of green.

We went to the Botanical Gardens this morning and I got a lot of sympathetic smiles from women, whom I'm assuming were either pregnant at the end of July or have two kids 25-months apart or closer together. (Sidenote: I have gotten really lucky on weather this month. Saturday was a hot day, but the weather has been amazing for Missouri in July. Today at the gardens it was 75 degrees and breezy.) Interestingly, the comments about having twins and whatnot have stopped. Perhaps this is because, as David said last night when looking at pictures from April, "You really look just as big now as you did at Easter."

I see my doctor tomorrow and have another NST monitoring appt. I'm ready for it. My fluid level has continued to be high and I need some hand-holding to get me through. (Or Rerun could just hurry up and get this party started, right?)

You know what's brilliant? Shopping at Target online and then picking it up in store. Don't get me wrong: Target can totally be my happy place when I have time to go (preferably alone) and get a chai tea latte and wander and browse and spend money on things that weren't on my list. But when walking makes me tired and I don't feel like I have extra money and I only need un-fun things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies? I WILL pay for that online and pick it up at customer service, thankyouverymuch. (Notice they are offering $10 off $50 this week for in-store pickups. You'd better believe I was all over that.)

Last thing for today: any guesses on Rerun's gender?

Here are some observations:

* At first I thought it had to be another girl because I could only imagine having girls.

* Lately, I've been leaning toward boy. Maybe because this baby feels bigger? (although Zuzu was 8 pounds, so I hope not too much bigger!)

* The Chinese Gender Predictor calendar says Girl (and was correct for Eliza and Zuzu).

* My mom says that statistically after you have two girls, you're more likely to have another girl than to have a boy. This was true for my dad's mom's family--she was the oldest, then had two sisters, then a brother. My mom's mom's family was the exception to that rule, as my grandma was the oldest, then her sister Jean, then a brother, then two more sisters.

* David thinks boy.

We really don't have a preference this time around, but the six huge bins of baby clothes in my basement say that our bank account would benefit from us having a girl.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And Here We Are Now

There's no central theme to this post, but just some updates that I wanted to put out there:

I'm reading for fun! My summer class ended over a week ago (hallelujah!) and my friend and coworker earned a spot in heaven by helping me grade final exams. Now that's all behind me and I don't have to think about teaching again until January (when I'm teaching a super fun 3 week class on personal essay writing, followed by a semester of teaching 3 days a week, and then a summer of NO summer classes).

I was reading Mists of Avalon which I was loving, but then I happened upon all of the sex abuse allegations directed at the author (who is now dead) and the book was sort of ruined for me... So I've set it aside. Right now I'm reading Sarah Caudwell mysteries which are hilariously British and also hilarious. I also have My Life in Middlemarch waiting for me. I wrote a chapter of my dissertation on another George Eliot's novel Daniel Deronda, so I'm really looking forward to that one. I also have Guests on Earth on my nightstand, which involves Zelda Fitzgerald. I loved Z so much, so I'm excited about that one, too.

* * *

Speaking of Z's... Zuzu has quit being a good sleeper. She's gone from being a solid 8pm-7am sleeper to being a bedtime-fighter, crib-climber, night-waker, parent-harasser. I realize how spoiled I've been because I am just beside myself on how to deal with this. What do people DO when their kids don't sleep? How do they function? I, for one, become short-tempered and unpleasant (more than usual, haha). We have some strategies we're implementing, but damn. Could her timing be any worse?

And people keep saying she's preparing us for the newborn. Whatever. All a newborn wants is a boob and then we all can enjoy peace and quiet and sleepy time. Zuzu as a newborn was much easier than Zuzu as a mobile, opinionated two-year-old.

What really annoys me is when she says she wants in her crib and then tells me to leave JUST  SO SHE CAN THEN CLIMB OUT OF HER CRIB. At one naptime over the weekend she wanted me to clear out of her room instead of sitting in the rocking chair and singing her lullabies and telling her to lie down, so she said, "Go to work, Mama!"

Really makes me feel good, you know? The painful irony is that when she's actually at daycare, she naps just fine with no fuss. #toddlerscanbejerks

Last night we actually had a better night, but I'm not fooled into thinking we've turned a corner.

* * *

I can't stop eating Nutella. Miraculously, I did not gain any weight this past week. I've gained close to 40 pounds already, so it's not like I'm not eating for two. I'll probably gain six more pounds this week. Because Nutella.

Also, Zuzu wanted to try my Nutella and I didn't want to share it with her because I am a mean mommy and I wanted to eat it all myself. So I told her it was HOT.

* * *

I have pregnancy carpal tunnel. It sucks. I had it with Eliza and didn't have it with Zuzu. Of course that freaks me out. It mostly bothers me at night and this time it affects both my hand and my feet. I wear wrist-braces to help the pain and swelling in my hands, but my ankles hurt and I feel pins and needles in my feet when I get up to pee in the night. My hands are still swollen and gripping anything is virtually impossible for the first few hours of the morning (making breakfast for Zuzu is extra fun). And yeah, typing this makes my hands hurt. OH THE SACRIFICES I MAKE so that people can read about the minutiae of my life.

* * *

Today is the first day of my summer that my agenda is totally open. No appointments, no grocery store runs, nothing to do but lie around and read.

Except actually I plan to clean some windows (gross, I know), mop the kitchen floor, do some laundry (I slacked over the weekend), and try to get some of my digital photos organized. It's one of those tasks that doesn't actually take as long as I think it will, is SO SATISFYING when it's completed, and is even enjoyable (except when waiting for photos to upload). So I'm not sure what it is that keeps me from staying on top of it. I did really well Zuzu's first year but definitely dropped the ball this past year. I want to get organized before Rerun gets here so I can recreate some of my favorite photo projects (like the weekly snapshot) with the new babe. Hopefully blogging about it will make me feel accountable. Maybe I need to head out to my favorite coffee shop so I am a bit more motivated...

* * *

I may end up writing more about this, but I had a really productive birth-prep-session with a doula this week. It was a combination of normal conversation, art therapy, and pain management discussion, and I left feeling so much more confident about my previous experiences being able to help me have a good labor and delivery this time (who knew that drawing on big paper with pastels would actually make me feel better?). Of course, my definition of "good" is simply "live baby," so that makes things easier. But she had some really helpful things to say, and I surprised myself with some of the details that came back to me as I told her the stories of Eliza's and Zuzu's births (while crying, because, obviously). I wasn't sure what to expect before this session, but I left feeling lighter and more focused and ready for baby.

* * *

One of the benefits of living in our neighborhood is that we have a beautiful park within walking distance.

One of the downsides to living in this neighborhood with Zuzu is that anytime we go for a walk, she INSISTS that we walk to park and stop at the playground. There is no strolling around, peeping in windows at dusk (from the sidewalk--I'm not a total creeper. I just like to see how people decorate). She has memorized the walk to the park and will start yelling and pointing, "NO! Go, Mama, GO!" if we try to head to another destination.

It's not that I mind going to the park, but I don't trust myself to keep up with her on the bigger slides and climbers, so it means that David chases her around while I stand or sit with Cooper and Zuzu gets exercise while I am bored or look like the detached parent on my phone or make small talk that's not very interesting with other moms.

I would actually like to do some walking that feels productive and allows David and I to have conversations together, so last night we loaded up in the car and drove to another park where we could actually WALK and avoid the playground. Of course Zuzu was only content in the stroller for a short amount of time (another reason I'm holding off on making a double stroller decision until next spring) and then she insisted on walking AND holding Cooper's leash by herself. She uses the phrase "My turn!" to insist that she be allowed to do things on her own. She also wanted to pet every other dog we saw, "Hi, doggie! I touch it!" and while I am a huge dog lover, my experience with Little Mac has taught me NOT to let my toddler run up to strange dogs and touch them.

So I still didn't get a lot of productive walking done. It was pretty funny when we passed one of those work-out stations where a guy was doing pull-ups and Zuzu dropped the leash, ran over to the guy, and said to him, "I do this!" I'm sure she wanted to hang upside down as she did with Bop, but instead we let the guy work out in peace and told Zuzu it was not, in fact, her turn.

* * *

We are going to a wedding this weekend and I'm really looking forward to it. It's friends of mine from grad school so many of my favorite grad school people will be there and I think it will be really fun. My birthday is also coming up, although we have no big plans for that. But dinner out is exciting for me, so that's fine.

* * *

Okay, seriously. This cobweb in the living room window has been driving me crazy for WEEKS and it's time that I do something about it.

After I eat a Nutella + graham cracker sandwich and finish this chapter in the book I'm reading...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Project: Dresser for Rerun

So as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I found this beauty of a dresser on Craigslist for $60.

The price was right, and the dimensions were right, so I sent a quick e-mail and then sent David to pick it up.

(Sidenote: The guy who sold it to us was so impressed by how nice David is that he sent me an e-mail telling me that I really have a good guy and he wishes us the best of luck with the baby and the changing table. This is why I call David "The Mayor.")

Anyway, we got it home and not only was the paint ugly, it was chipping and dusty and the drawers all smelled really musty.

So I got to work. First, I used the brush attachment on the vacuum to vacuum off all the dust, and then I wiped the whole thing down with a towel dampened with water and a little Dr. Bronner's soap.

Then I sprayed and wiped the inside of the drawers with vinegar and water mixture, and I set them out in the sun for a few hours.

I still felt like they smelled musty (my pregnancy nose is hyper sensitive), so I added a few drops of lavender essential oil to baking soda (just shook it up together in a sandwich baggie) and then spread the baking soda in each drawer and let that sit overnight. I vacuumed it all out before I started painting.

I also decided that I wasn't in love with the little basket on the top drawer. It looked too country for my taste. So I filled it with wood putty. It took three rounds of filling it and sanding it down before I was satisfied that it was smooth enough. Chalk paint is pretty forgiving, so I was hoping that I'd get good coverage. (Plot spoiler: I did!)

Once it was all clean and the putty was dry and smooth, I started painting.

The awesome thing about chalk paint is that you don't have to do any prep work whatsoever (aside from cleaning). No sanding or priming or anything like that. Just slap the paint on.

It goes on nice and thick and dries quickly with a matte finish. The color I chose was Aubusson blue. In retrospect, I wish it were a bit darker (like more of a navy?) but it looks fine and I still think it's a pretty color.

My wood-putty-filled basket totally disappeared under the chalk paint--so awesome.

I definitely needed two coats to get good coverage over the old paint.

after one coat

You can still see the half wet / half dry paint here.
The lady who sold me the paint convinced me to buy the special Annie Sloan brush, but you don't really need the special brush. It did come in really handy for the wax, though.

I painted this little side table at the same time I painted the dresser. I wasn't intending to paint it when I first bought it (at an estate sale for $10) but after I cleaned off the layer of dust that was covering it, I saw that the finish was in really bad shape. So, for $10, I knew that a layer of chalk paint was just what it needed.

After painting, I let it sit for a while until I got another burst of energy, and then I decided to distress the pieces just a little bit. (Can you tell I've been watching a lot of Fixer Upper? I heart Joanna Gaines.) I've never distressed furniture before and I was a little nervous about it. I like the look of it, but it's not a style I have in my own home, so I just wasn't sure how it would shake out.

I just lightly sanded around the edges with a fine-grit sandpaper. When I was satisfied with how it looked, I did the waxing process. I definitely kept it on the light side, and I was really glad I had the $10 side table to use as my experiment piece before I tackled the bigger dresser.

The paint was zero VOC but the wax does have a bit of mineral oil in it so I was cautious about wearing a mask, opening windows, and running a fan during this process.

I simply brushed it on in small sections and then used a lint-free microfiber cloth to wipe it down. The most helpful instructions I found said to apply the wax with a brush, then use a clean cloth to rub it in like handcream. Once you've rubbed in it, use another cloth to wipe off any excess. Let it dry 24 hours and then buff it for a slight sheen.

Annie Sloan says it's like lotion for the paint, and that's basically how it worked. It gave a light sheen to the matte finish of the paint without making it super glossy. It darkened the color just a schmidge, which I was really happy about. It also protects the paint from getting scratched or damaged, which should be quite handy for a changing table.

Of course, I wanted to fancy it up a bit more, so I cut wrapping paper for drawer liner and added that for a little pop.

POP! I guess the pink pattern might be a little girly, but I don't think Rerun will mind either way.
To keep it smelling nice and fresh, I made my own sachets by putting more baking soda and lavender essential oil in a coffee filter tied with baker's twine. Super simple and smells delicious.

I also spray-painted the drawer pulls. I originally tried to clean and shine them with salt and lemon juice paste, but they just didn't get sparkly enough for my taste, so the gold spray point did the trick perfectly.

Final reveal!


I'm pretty satisfied with how the dresser turned out (and I totally want to chalk paint everything). I picked up a couple of rugs and some curtains, but I'm still looking for some storage baskets for the bookcase I ordered. Now comes the fun part of putting the room together!

It has crossed my mind that I may be doing this kind of "nesting" to avoid some of the scarier parts of prepping for baby--washing newborn clothes and packing a hospital bag. Those tasks feel much more "real" than painting furniture and hanging curtains, since the decorating I'm doing is technically in the master bedroom rather than a nursery. But considering I'm halfway through week 37, I guess it's time to get on that...