Many months ago, before there was a Kit in the world, I went over to kissane
's place to hang out with them. I think kissane
and I were having a work date or something. meetar
came home and was v. tired and shagged out after a long day. He went to their music player and put on some amazing soothing music I'd never heard before. It was the most relaxing. "What is this?" I asked in wonder. He told me it was Brian Eno's "Thursday Afternoon"
I fell in love with it. I played it for X, who fell in love with it. And one night when we had a fussy baby, X played it for them. Now, every night at bedtime, we play "Thursday Afternoon" and rock Kit until they get sleepy, and then we put them in the crib to sleep. And every night I think how glad I am that meetar
happened to be in need of some soothing music that day.
Today I downloaded "Thursday Afternoon" to the tablet we have over the crib for a baby monitor, so it could sing Kit to sleep. Just now they woke up yelling--poor baby, trying to get used to dreaming, which really is such a weird thing--and I put my hand on their belly and put the music back on. They settled right back to sleep. Out like a light.
The only snag is that we have to wait for the track to finish, or sneak in and turn it off*, before we can use the sound-activated baby monitor. But that is a very small price to pay for an aural sleep-cue that is 60 minutes long, can be turned off at any point without a strong sense of interruption, doesn't become boring or annoying no matter how long or how often you listen to it, and doesn't require a parent to sing the same three-minute song over and over to the point of hoarseness. New parents and parents-to-be: I recommend it very very highly.* At some point I'm sure we will set up some sort of networked speakers, or root the tablet so we can remote-control it. Right now, tiptoeing in works fine (and lets us stare at the baby a little bit too).
X and J and I all have separate bedrooms and keep different schedules. This has led to us being the most well-rested parents of a newborn in the history of ever (other than those who have 24/7 nannies, I suppose). J naturally wakes up around 7 a.m. and I naturally go to bed around 3 a.m., so we shifted our schedules two hours each and met in the middle, doing a shift change at 5; our bodies didn't entirely love it, but we at least got decent rest for six or seven hours a night/day. Once X stopped having to get up in the middle of the night to pump breastmilk, they got to sleep their natural hours, which was really important for C-section recovery.
Four and a half months later, Kit is now consistently sleeping through the night. There's been a bit of four-month sleep regression
waking (or maybe a growth spurt? They've also been super hungry and eating huge meals) over the last couple of nights, but mostly they can self-soothe back to sleep when they wake up. (This is a skill they taught themself; we can claim no credit at all for sleep training.) We've nudged their bedtime from 7 to 8 so they have a better chance of sleeping until 6. And X is pretty well recovered from the surgery. So as of tonight, I go to bed when I want to and J gets up when he wants to, and in between, X sleeps with the monitor on. Specifically, I tiptoe into their room and turn it on when I go to bed, and J tiptoes in and turns it off when he gets up, so that X isn't woken by baby-fussing when someone else is already awake to handle it. X is a very sound sleeper and falls back asleep easily once woken, so this should work pretty well.
I really appreciate that X immediately said "Yes, I'm totally happy to take my turn being at risk for sleep disruption" as soon as I suggested the change. Yay for good partnership and load-sharing. 💞
The only downside for me is that I won't get to see sleepy J in the mornings. But since he's not getting up at 5 anymore, I'll get to see much more awake J for longer in the evenings, which will be stellar.
I don't even know what to do with all this freedom! I'll be able to have noon lunch dates again! I could go to bed at 2 and get up at 10! I could get most of my work done during daylight hours! I only just finalized a schedule last week, and tonight I spent a couple of hours revising it and putting it into Gcal. But I'm really happy with where it is now, and especially with the lovely long stretch between 01:30 and 12:00 that contains getting ready for bed, eight hours of sleep, and two hours of time to myself (as distinct from work time) that I can enjoy before and/or after sleep, as I choose
. And never going to bed later than 4. *happy dance*
It'll probably be a little while before my body clock (such as it is) gets used to this, but oh, I can't wait
to be used to it.
Copied from a letter I just wrote to a friend:
I have been thinking a lot about writing, and getting into some good conversations about it, and doing some good reading about it. It's making me realize just how little I know about the craft and process of creating a book. I know it abstractly, in broad strokes, but not the nitty-gritty. And some of what I think I know is wrong, which is actually great, because the stuff I'm unlearning is stuff that was holding me back. I'm doing a lot of poking at outlining right now, for example, and unlearning all my notions about how one goes about making an outline--it's not the same thing as a synopsis at all! It's a crafted piece of writing, the way the book itself is a crafted piece of writing, but using a totally different skill set. And there are lots of different possible ways to craft an outline. You can write it start to finish, or you can develop a set of hypotheses and test them (a notion that made me really get the idea of doing preliminary character sketches first, because in order to do plot-chemistry with your characters you have to understand their characteristics and how they interact and what makes them explode), or you can develop your outline as you're writing the book and let them argue with each other, or any number of things. I could even make a flowchart outline with images for the scenes instead of words! I didn't know any of this, really, and the idea of outlining is now much more interesting and appealing than it used to be. It feels like a useful tool instead of building a cage that my story is trapped inside of.
So in retrospect it feels sort of silly to say "I started actively trying to learn things and lo! I have learned things" but the best thing I've done for myself as a writer is to approach it as a student instead of a hobbyist--to think about it every day, and seek out new knowledge and relate it to what I already know, and scrawl angry notes arguing with books on writing (the one I'm reading now asserts that no one will care about your characters until they do something interesting, and that is SO BACKWARDS and made me SO MAD that I nearly crossed it out in the book itself, but I settled for complaining in all caps in my little writing notebook). And it doesn't feel like a delaying tactic, partly because I'm constantly trying to apply what I'm learning to the projects I'm working on, and partly because this skill-building and analytical thinking is so clearly necessary as a precursor to writing. Like learning good form before lifting heavy weights.
Speaking of which, writing in that little notebook is hard on my arm, and I did a fair amount of it tonight after going to a really splendid panel on transgressive fiction (Ellen Kushner, C.S. Pacat, Sarah Rees Brennan, Damon Suede, Marie Rutkowski, and Eloisa James--stunning lineup, wonderful conversation). C.S. Pacat said some useful things about developing and maintaining tension as a matter of writing craft and I wanted to make sure to write them down before I forgot them, and then I just kept going because it was a long subway ride back to Brooklyn. But then I got home and did a lot of editing and now I really need to stop typing and go to bed.
Last night I dreamed that it was some sort of trans pride day and I was carrying a big rainbow flag around. A cis woman mistook me for a cis guy and made some snarky look-how-hip-I-am comment about cis people horning in on trans stuff. I unbuttoned my dress shirt like Clark Kent to show my binder and was all WHO'S TRANS ENOUGH NOW. And then I hung my rainbow flag on a lamppost and strolled off.
Most satisfying dream I've had in ages. :D
I had a total meltdown tonight over needing to be the perfect parent so that the baby will love me and believe I love them--so that I can make up for my lack of biological link to them. Kit has a cold (the first time they've ever been ill) and has been so snuffly and feverish and sad. If Kit is sad and I don't fix it, what the hell kind of parent am I? And that triggers the doubts and fears about being no kind of parent at all.
This wasn't helped by someone asking me about my Mother's Day plans with my mom and assuming they didn't include the baby, because that person doesn't really think of Kit as my child or as my mother's grandchild. I've lost count of how many times people have erased my various identities--seeing me and J as a het couple, getting my pronouns wrong all the time, assuming X mattered less to me than J because of gender and distance, to name just a few--but oof, this erasure hurts the most, because on some level I believe it. (And also because the whole idea of being a parent is new, I think. I'm still not really used to it at all, so if someone says or implies I'm not one, I don't have that rock-solid identity certainty to brace myself against.)
I vented on Twitter, as I do, and oh_also
sent me to First Time Second Time
, a blog by two queer parents who each gave birth to one of their kids. They write a lot about being non-gestational parents and it's really good. Their non-bio mom manifesto
is exactly what I needed to read tonight, and the last two paragraphs in particular:
Even though I really hate the “Different but Equal” refrain, I’d be hard-pressed to say that my relationship with Leigh wasn’t different than Gail’s, at least during early infancy. So even though I get annoyed by such statements, I also sort of agree. But if I truly believe I do have a different and equal relationship to Leigh, even though she didn’t grow inside me, even though I didn’t nurse and nourish her as a baby, and even though she does not look a bit like me, there must be something else that I offered her. What is it? What is the “something extra” that I gave to her, that she wouldn’t have gotten in a family with only Gail as her parent?
This has been eating at me for years. Sure, I can see my influence in her mannerisms, the clarity with which she expresses herself, her bull-in-a-china-shop quality, her overt enthusiasm, and her love of connecting with all kinds of people. But none of that seems quite like the answer. The other night, though, I realized Gail had finally figured it out. What I offered to her, that only I could offer her, was my choice. I chose to parent her, and chose to love her deeply, despite a multitude of pressures that said either that I shouldn’t love her, or that I was unnecessary. Some of those pressures said explicitly that I’d damage her by my mere presence (those coming from, say, the religious right). Some of those pressures were more subtle, like the ones that said it wasn’t important for me to take leave to spend time with my new infant, or the ones that said if I pushed too hard to feed her or spend too much time with her, I’d take away from her all-important “primary” bond to Gail, resulting in some sort of vague but longstanding psychological damage. It is precisely the central challenge of being a non-bio-mom, the need to choose to parent your child, that makes the bond special. To spin something precious out of what looks and feels like nothing at the outset — no pregnancy, no genetic link, no nursing link, no overt need on the part of your child — is truly a gift to your whole family, and it is a gift that only you can give them.
I will clutch this to my heart forever. For-ev-er.
I will quibble only to say that each of us made a choice--each of us and all of us made many, many choices over a period of several years--to be Kit's parent. J chose to father the child and X chose to carry the child, and their biological contributions don't make their subsequent choices to be devoted, attentive parents any less important or essential. But my lack
of biological contribution doesn't make my choice any less real or meaningful.
I write this from the rocking chair in Kit's room, where I plan to sit all night. Their fever's broken--it never got above 101.2, so we were never super worried, but any kind of fever is no fun--and the congestion is easing, but they're still snuffly. My anxieties are soothed by listening to them breathing, and if they wake up fussy I want to be right here for them. They slept on my lap for a while, and when I stood up to put them in the crib, they woke a little and turned their head and pressed their face against me in the purest gesture of trust and comfort-seeking I've ever seen. They chose me too. I choose to believe them.
It's coming up on a year and a half since Valour Advances the Man
started kicking around in my head. I still want to write it. I haven't put any new words on the page since last fall. And yes, we had a baby, all of that, but there's other stuff in the way too.
I've been poking at this in various places, and today I did the thing where I ask Twitter to solve my problems
mostly so that I can see what I dislike about people's suggested solutions, which in turn helps me define the actual
problem.( Definitions )
=====( Analysis )
Realistically, it seems very unlikely that anyone is going to hire me to write a novel that I haven't already written. First novels are nearly always written on spec, and I say "nearly always" rather than "always" only because I'm sure there must be exceptions somewhere, not because I personally know of any. (Also, honestly, if I were an editor, I wouldn't hire someone with my résumé to write a novel sight unseen.) But I feel much better having come up with what feels like a plausible scenario for success. I'm going to set it aside for a bit and go get some work done, and let the back of my brain work on figuring out how to mimic or approximate those conditions.
A month and a half ago, I stumbled across this link
on changing habits, specifically with respect to nail-biting. I figured I'd give it a try, since I've been a lifelong nail-biter and absolutely nothing has gotten me to stop for more than a week or two at a time. I didn't bite my nails at all the week that Kit was born, so I knew it wasn't a stress response; it was something I could be distracted from, or too busy to do. Habit reversal training seemed like a good match for that.
I identified my nail-biting trigger: rough skin, corners, bits that stick out or catch or feel not-neat. I dug back in my brain for the self-observation techniques I learned from Headspace
and practiced observing myself as I noticed the roughness and felt the urge to gnaw it smooth. I redirected the urge into filing or moisturizing, or just sat there with it and experienced the feeling without judgment. I treated it the way I treat Kit trying to punch themself in the eye: "I see that you want to do that. I'm not going to let you do that. I will hold your hands as gently as I can while not letting you use them that way."
Within a month I'd entirely stopped biting my nails. Entirely. I wasn't even using my thumbnails as sacrifice nails. The urge itself is gone. Now I can put my fingers in my mouth or fidget with my nails and not want to bite them.
Two weeks ago I got a manicure, with beautiful iridescent beetle-wing-green nail polish. A week ago I got another one because I use my hands all the time and no nail polish is going to last for long--but I didn't gnaw any of it off. As I type this entry, my nails click on the keys. This is a very annoying feeling, so I'm going to get another manicure either tomorrow or Friday and get them filed a little shorter this time. I can see a near future in which I become one of those people with a fancy nail polish collection, though I will always prefer having someone else do my nails to doing them myself. emilytheslayer
has promised to put nail wraps on me at Readercon, and I might try making my own nail wraps with nail polish
or origami paper
, as it seems easier than painting directly onto my nails (which I am spectacularly bad at).
I'm very lucky that my nails grow very fast and are thick and strong and healthy. If my nail beds weren't so short, you'd never know that I used to bite them. I hope that if I leave them just a little longer than I actually want them, over time the nail beds will regrow--though it's hard to know whether that can even happen after 30 years of biting.
Meanwhile, on the front of forming a new habit rather than breaking an old one, I've flossed my teeth every single night for almost 28 weeks, with the exception of the night X was in labor. That one I did by keeping a tally in dry erase marker on the bathroom wall--dry erase markers write very well on shiny white tile--and telling myself that if I missed a night I'd have to erase my entire progress and start over. My goal was absolute compliance. (I feel entirely justified in giving myself a pass on the single exception; it was an exceptional night.) This is a pretty hard-line approach, but I'd previously tried simply tracking my progress as a positive incentive and it wasn't quite effective enough; it had worked for getting me into a twice-a-day brushing habit, but flossing eluded me. Obviously, the longer my streak went, the less I wanted to break it, and the combination of increased practice and increased incentive was very powerful. After meeting my initial goal of 26 weeks I stopped keeping the tally, but the habit appears to have stayed. It's now just a thing I do.
It feels really good to be the sort of person who works on self-improvement at age 37, and is successful. I'm glad I didn't give up on myself. And I'm really looking forward to bragging at my dental check-up on Friday. :)
April 8th was my 10th wedding anniversary with J. (We picked 4/8/06 as our wedding date for lots of reasons, and having 4/8/16 as our 10th anniversary wasn't a major one, but it was in the back of my mind as a perk.) We went out for steak frites and took a walk through lower Manhattan. We made each other laugh a lot. We came home and snuggled and made out. It was a very nice celebration, made possible by X's kind gift of all-evening baby care.
One of the reasons we picked that date is that it was also our falling-in-love anniversary. We've been all swoony for each other for 14 years. Gosh.
I wonder whether I should replace my "me and Josh" userpic with something that's been taken in the past 12 years. We both look a little different now. :) But we still look at each other just the same way.
He is my most favorite husband and I am so happy to have him in my life.
: I got the letter B.
Something I hate: Banana flavoring. Bullshit. Bigotry.
Something I love: Badinage. Backgammon. Botanic gardens.
Somewhere I've been: Brooklyn. :) Bermuda. Boston.
Somewhere I'd like to go: Back to Bermuda, maybe--that was a family trip when I was a kid and I liked it but don't remember much.
Someone I know: ben_rosenbaum
A film I like: Beetlejuice
, and I'm sure I'd like Blade Runner
if I ever got the chance to sit down and watch it all the way through. I've seen the beginning and the end and probably most of the middle at various times. (Really glad for that movies-I've-seen spreadsheet that can be sorted by title. 😅)
Anyone want to continue the meme? Just ask and I'll give you a letter. I gave multiple answers for some of these because I felt like it, but you're not required to.
It has been a long time since a Kit update! Mostly because this has been the week of no sleep, for baby-unrelated reasons having to do with stress and illness and other sucky things. But! here is what's going on with our absurdly long baby.
Kit started daycare on Monday, at age 11 weeks exactly. It's gone pretty well.( Baaaaaaby stuff )
It's strange having the house empty when I wake up. I've been feeling very lonely this week. I'm used to having X and the baby at home, and instead X is at work and the baby's at daycare and I'm all by myself. I have been getting a fair amount of work and housework done, especially tidying things in Kit's room, but it's hard. This has been compounded by all the stress and illness; having panic attacks is even less fun when there are no partners around to hug you and there's no baby around to cuddle. But we'll adjust.
There's a Twitter meme going around of "for every person who likes/faves this tweet, I will post one thing that makes me happy". I got 61 likes and added the 62nd myself. :) My list:
1) Dozing on the rocking chair with the baby asleep on me.
2) The first post-travel snuggle with Sam after she's forgiven me for abandoning her.
3) Sitting at the kitchen table drinking hot chocolate at 1 a.m. when the dishwasher and washing machine are humming in the quiet house.
4) When I come into the nursery and Kit carefully sizes me up, checks the inner roster of favorite people, and then gives me a huge smile.
5) Walking in the Botanic Gardens and Prospect Park today, watching spring reclaim the frozen earth from winter.
6) Reading a wonderful book with a powerful, satisfying ending.
7) My regular Skype dates with beloved friends who live far away.
8) Animated conversations with J and X where our ideas and desires are all in perfect harmony.
9) Learning new things, especially new skills and techniques.
10) When something works the way it's supposed to, the very first time I try it.
11) Homemade food I can just enjoy without having to wonder whether it's safe for me to eat.
12) Having the perfect outfit in my closet for whatever my gender is today.
13) Helping teenagers feel good about themselves.
14) Being called on my shit by my honest, loving friends.
15) Feeling good today because I was awesome with self-care yesterday.
16) Rereading an old favorite book and finding that it's still terrific. Take that, Suck Fairy!
17) Making a tight deadline.
18) Living in NYC.
19) Feeling that good post-exercise muscle burn.
20) Walking into an event where lots of people are happy to see me.
21) The fierceness of marginalized people reclaiming the center.
22) The unbearable cuteness of baby-size versions of adult clothes.
23) Having just enough alcohol to get a nice gentle buzz.
24) Having just enough caffeine to be really productive.
25) Catching our usually argumentative cats hanging out together or even snuggling.
26) Family cuddles with the baby.
27) Driving on my own and knowing that I could go anywhere.
28) Steph Curry Vines.
29) Being a parent.
30) The way the top of Kit's head sometimes smells like whiskey.
You know I could easily have made all 30 of these about the baby. I feel I have been very restrained.
31) Pictures of turtles.
32) Being a generally healthy, financially independent adult in charge of my own life.
33) My very different but equally wonderful date nights with X and J.
34) Freshly baked or toasted bread with butter and jam.
35) The kindness and support of other parents and kid-carers as we figure out this parenting thing. You're all wonderful.
36) Eating ice cream outside while it's snowing. I haven't gotten to do this in 2015/2016--maybe on Friday, if the promised snow happens.
37) The number 37. I just like it. I like 17 too, and powers of 2.
Conveniently, I'm 37. And not old.
38) Imagining Kit at different ages.
39) When I wake up and open the curtain and light floods in.
40) Potato chips.
41) Hot showers.
42) The diligence and persistence of people trying to make fandom and conventions safer and more welcoming and more accessible.
43) The times when my brain tries to have anxiety dreams and I make them have happy endings.
"Oh, I left all my luggage on the train? My traveling companion was on the train and must have brought it to our hotel."
44) Beaches in winter.
45) My sturdy little basil plant that started out as stems supertailz
brought me from the grocery store months and months ago.
46) Tax refunds.
47) Our awesome little ungentrified corner of Crown Heights.
48) Friends who are diligent about protecting our baby from their germs. <3
49) Medium-rare steak frites at Les Halles.
50) Our awesome landlords, who are also our awesome downstairs neighbors.
51) All our silly nicknames for Kit.
52) The way I look in my gorgeous Frye boots.
53) Balancing our checkbook every month and feeling all the numbers click into place.
's goal-driven persistence.
57) The vast improvement to our kitchen vibe just from moving one baker's rack. Can't wait to complete our rearrangement!
58) Watching our friends build the lives they want.
59) The scent of petrichor after a summer thunderstorm.
60) Mole de pavo.
61) My cat's tiny squeaky meow. vine.co/v/iWuOWtelEI3
62) Spending a whole day thinking about things that make me happy! Thank you all for the faves. 💕
(I had NO IDEA I could put emoji in LJ/DW posts. THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.)
- thinking about:
behavior.kindness, behavior.parenting, experiences.driving, experiences.joy, experiences.kindness, experiences.reading, food, mind.dreamtime, people.cats, people.friends, people.groups.fandom, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, places.home, places.us.ny.new york, places.us.ny.new york.brooklyn, stuff.clothes, stuff.money
Kit is two months old today.
They're starting daycare in two weeks, when X goes back to work, so I wrote up an unnecessarily long letter for the daycare staff. I really like it as a snapshot (or 2.3 snapshots, since it's about 2300 words) of who we all are right now.
=====( Seriously, unnecessarily long )
Of course none of this says anything about how the three of us will cope with Kit being in daycare, but I think it'll be fine once we all adjust a bit. It's only three blocks from home and they have a very generous drop-in policy. And this is a great encouragement to develop a more solid daily routine for Kit, which I think will be good for everyone. And we get to order super cute clothing and bottle name labels with tiny foxes on them
Also, let's be honest, I am REALLY looking forward to having the house to myself for a few hours every day. It will be weird for Kit's room to not have Kit in it, but I'll keep the door closed and take taurine and/or call the daycare if I get fretful.
It's been a really good two months and I feel like we're ready for what comes next. We've been talking a lot about plans to rearrange the main room of the house, have more friends over, do more things out in the world (Kit really loves going out, which helps). After the wild upheaval of pregnancy and new baby, we've found our footing, not in the sense of thinking we have it all figured out--because of course things will keep changing as Kit grows, and who knows what other changes will happen in the rest of our lives--but in the sense of having a stable stance. I have been watching a lot of videos of virtuoso basketball player Steph Curry
, and it's easy to get caught up in watching his arms, or watching the ball go right where he puts it. But I watch his feet, because that's where the shot begins. With your feet under you, you can handle whatever comes at you. We're getting there. It's good.
Tuesday evening I went out to see Laura Miller interview Peter Straub (which was delightful) and when I got home the baby was bigger. It's so surreal when this happens. It's not just illusion, either. Kit has a favorite onesie (well, it's our favorite; the baby doesn't care) that only has snaps on one leg, and suddenly getting the other leg on is a lot more difficult than it used to be. I think we've got another couple of weeks left in these three-month clothes and then it's on to six-month ones.( Babbystuffs )
Every time a longtime friend visits and meets the baby, I say "Look at me! Look at all this!" with some bewilderment, and we agree that back when we met we had no idea this was where we'd end up. Tuesday was my 15th self-wedding anniversary and I had a similar conversation with myself.
I still vividly remember writing down those wedding vows in my dream journal, back in my slightly shabby room in the mint-green Jersey City house. It was two months before my nervous breakdown but I was definitely already feeling the strain. My lease was coming up in March, I was moving to California in June, in between I had grand and rather daunting plans to tour Europe with my mother and then take a train across the country for alt.polycon, my relationships were coming apart at the seams, my physical health was precarious, being prescribed the wrong dose of Zoloft had completely fucked me up mentally, and I had a job but no career and savings but no goals (other than the move, which ended up entirely consuming those savings faster than I could have thought possible). I knew a lot of things in my life were broken and I had no idea how to fix them.
Making vows to be good to myself--as good to myself as I was to my partners--was an essential first step on the road to making things better, the road to where I am now. I'm in a beautiful house with a wonderful family, my mental and physical health are the best they've been in my adult life, my relationships are rock-solid, my job and career are deeply satisfying, and we're almost done paying off our debt. I've had a lot of good fortune, no question, but there's also no question that I got here because I insisted on loving and valuing myself and continually reshaping my life into one that made me healthier and happier.
In mid-2000, as my mind and my life were slowly falling apart, I wrote this little ditty:
I am here and all is well
And all the world can go to hell
As far as I'm concerned
There's one thing that I've learned
Standing on your own two feet
You beat a path along the street
Sometimes you walk alone
I'm okay on my own
There are people in my life
Though I may never have a wife
But I think that's okay
I'm living day by day
Moderation is the thing
Though I may never be a king
But that's all right with me
It's better to be free
If I never have a throne
I will always have a home
I carry it inside
A place where I can hide
Someday I would like a cat
Perhaps a house and all of that
But that's a ways away
I'm living day by day
No matter if I walk on glass
Or concrete or green growing glass
Don't mind if I'm alone
'Cause I'm on my way home....
I've been singing it a lot lately, with a smile. Here I am, living in someday. It's even better than I dared to imagine. It's true that the particulars aren't quite what I might have predicted, a decade and a half ago. But I have a cat, and a house, and all of that. And even though it's nothing like what I expected, it's exactly what I wanted.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.love, body.health, events.anniversaries, experiences.history, mind.wiring, people.kit, people.my wife, places.home, words.songs, words.songs.day by day
On Wednesday night, X watched Kit while J and I had a date. Tonight J watched Kit while X and I had a date. I'll do the same for them next Wednesday. This is yet another reason to be grateful to be in a three-parent household.
We all seem to be "hooray, a few hours off from babycare" parents rather than "miss the baby even if just for a few hours" parents. I'm relieved that there's no mismatch there; it would be very awkward if one of us was trying to talk about work or movies or whatever while the other one pined and tried to log into the babycam from their phone. We all love Kit and love spending time with Kit and also are very glad to get breaks.
J and I went to Dassara Ramen for our date, a favorite of ours. They had their wonderful lamb ramen on the menu, so of course I got that, and we split an order of shishito peppers that made us miss Japan. We mostly talked about J's work and workplace stuff, and my theories about how there should be way more film and television adaptations of romance novels. The night was drizzly and cool, and we walked up Smith to Fulton and then over to Nevins to get the subway home. I got dairy-free ice cream at the vegan juice bar around the corner--there are two kinds of Brooklyn vegan juice bars, the hipster kind and the Rastafarian kind, and this one is the Rasta kind, so the ice cream came in a plastic half-pint deli container but only cost $4--and then we snuggled and smooched for a good long while. It was really really nice.
X and I trekked into Manhattan to go to Senza Gluten, since all the Brooklyn GF restaurants we might want to go to are actually less convenient to get to. X had their first postpartum beer, a bitter-sharp IPA that made me make the sucked-a-lemon face. We joked a lot with the server, who was so nice that X left them a thank-you note. I had lamb again, come to think of it, in a ragù over cavatelli. We walked up to Union Square in the bitter cold. In the station, we tipped some human-statue buskers who repaid us with some very talented dancing; we just missed our train while watching them, but that was fine because we were enjoying being together. Down on the platform we kept having tender sincere moments interrupted by blaring announcements, but that's what we get for having tender sincere moments on a subway platform. It was really really nice.
When I was growing up in a family of four, it often split into factions: two against two, or three against one. I don't ever want my family to be that way. But I love that we can divide and reunite, in all our various configurations, because all of our twosomes deserve time together.
When you have a baby (or are about to have a baby and are reading up on babies), you start to see the word "colic" everywhere. It's rarely defined but always made out as something dreadful, or at least extremely unpleasant--and worse, it's portrayed as incurable and inescapable. Some babies are just "colicky" and nothing can be done about it.
This turns out to be not at all true. As far as I can tell from doing a whole lot of reading on the topic, there seem to be two kinds of colic: indigestion, and emotional meltdowns. Kit's had both, and we were able to identify them pretty quickly and treat them pretty straightforwardly. Kit is a very easy-going and good-natured kid, so that may be a factor, but hopefully this info will still be useful for other parents whose babies are not quite so chill.
1) Indigestion. "Our baby screams a lot and arches in pain when fed breast milk or standard formula," we said. "Well, some babies are colicky after feeding," our pediatrician said. Aha!
, we thought. "Colicky" means "is upset about digestion pain".
And indeed, when we stopped feeding Kit breast milk and regular formula and started using a super-digestible formula (from Honest Co.
, and we recommend it very highly--Kit spits it up even less than the supposedly ultra-gentle Similac Alimentum, and it's half the price), and made sure not to feed Kit more than their tiny stomach could hold, the colic went away. Kit still fusses a bit about 10 minutes after eating, and then farts a couple of times and settles right down. If we give a teaspoon or two of Colic-Ease
every day, there's no fussing at all.
The pediatrician pointed out that since Kit wasn't vomiting up the meals, we could keep feeding breast milk (and the immunity benefits thereof) as long as we had a high tolerance for the screaming, until Kit got to be about three months old and the stomach developed enough to be able to digest the milk more easily. He did this in a very neutral way, which I appreciated--matter-of-fact, not pushing us one direction or the other. X and I stared at him with identical expressions of horror. It's not the screaming itself, but the idea of causing our child preventable pain, several times a day, for months. We considered dosing Kit with antacids, but our pediatrician shares our hesitation to put a very young baby on daily medication when there are non-medical options to pursue. So we switched to formula with some wistfulness but no regrets. That said, even if you're very dedicated to exclusively breastfeeding, there are ways of treating indigestion-type colic, and anyone (especially anyone not your doctor) who tells you that it's full-stop untreatable is probably wrong--any given attack of indigestion colic may just have to run its course, but a lot of those attacks can be prevented. Kit's always been an expert belcher and farter, so gas build-up isn't an issue, but if it were we could use simethicone drops and the Windi
. Some babies have allergies to things the breastfeeding parent is eating, and a change in diet can help. There are lots of things to try.
2) Emotional meltdowns. T. Berry Brazelton defines this type of colic very clearly in his Touchpoints: Birth to Three
, which is an excellent book that I think all new parents should keep on hand. Brazelton identifies it as coming from overstimulation during the day, which is why it reliably occurs in the evening. Since it doesn't have a physical cause, physical treatments (feeding, changing, gas drops, etc.) don't work, and soothing techniques like swaddling and pacifiers are of limited use. other_alice
pointed me to a site about "the PURPLE crying period"
, which looks like much the same thing.
Brazelton advises making sure there are no physical problems to address and then leaving the baby alone in the crib to scream out their feelings, self-soothe, decompress, and sleep without further stimulation; in his experience, this can reduce the average duration of a colic attack by half. The "PURPLE crying period" site mentions a study
in which babies cried less if their parents carried them around more often, as part of everyday life, rather than only picking them up when they were crying. So as with many things, the appropriate approach depends on you and your baby and your parenting style.
On Tuesday night, Kit had an emotional meltdown colic attack. It was pretty awful. But I realized that it reminded me of panic attacks, and then I knew what to do, because I have had many panic attacks and gotten pretty good at dealing with them. I held Kit gently and warmly, turned the lights down (installing dimmable LED bulbs and a dimmer switch in the baby's room is one of the best decisions I've ever made), rocked slowly in the rocking chair, and murmured quiet soothing things in a voice full of sympathy. I didn't try to offer a pacifier or stop Kit from screaming or thrashing, though I did loosely confine Kit's arms to keep either of us from getting punched in the face (and because Kit seems to find that sort of swaddling-by-hand very soothing, despite not liking actual swaddles). After a few minutes, the screaming and thrashing stopped and the baby fell asleep. Maybe ten minutes later, the cycle repeated once. And... that was that. All better. Pretty much the same thing happened when X was watching Kit Wednesday night while J and I were on our date night, and X did similar things and they were similarly effective. The key was that we both understood what it was like to feel overwhelmed and need to flail and yell, so we could stay calm and supportive while Kit vented. And we both know that while panic attacks feel
like they're going to last forever, they do eventually end, and then everything is okay for at least a little while; so we could hold on to that knowledge instead of falling into our own panic and ending up trapped with the baby in a feedback loop of distress.
Apparently some colic attacks can last for hours. We're very lucky not to have seen that yet. At that point I probably would put the baby in the crib just to give myself a break from being up close with the screaming for all that time. But I'm hoping that gentle soothing and sincere sympathy will be enough to help Kit escape the multi-hour misery cycle.
Obviously this is all our personal experience; I'm not prescribing anything. Do what's best for you and your child. Just remember, this too shall pass--possibly with some gas. :)
Inspired by yhlee
's post here
, ten things that make me happy:
* Cuddling the baby. Which I am doing right now. (After every feeding we need to prop Kit up for better digestion, and the easiest way to do that is in one's lap, so I have developed a way of arranging pillow and legs and baby and table and laptop such that I can type while Kit snoozes.) Having the baby in my lap makes the world infinitely better. I don't even know why. I mean, yes, oxytocin, but that's not all there is to it. It's just warm and cozy and wonderful.
* How well the three of us work together as parents. I'm especially glad that we've been making time for family snuggles, even when we're all so tired that we can barely stay awake to enjoy them. This week we start having date nights again, which is such an amazing thought I don't even know what to do with it.
* The warm welcome back I got from my colleagues and reviewers when I returned to work. It's so nice to be appreciated.
* Cooking, and homemade food. This weekend J and I made pot roast and roast beef, and X and I baked bread in the bread machine (such magic!). Fresh bread with homemade pot roast gravy, oh YES.
* Thoughtful family members who give us wonderfully appropriate baby gifts.
* Delightful friends. Today we introduced Kit to vschanoes
and her son and godchildren, and spent a lovely few hours hanging out at their house. I can't wait for the babies to get old enough to properly enjoy spending time together.
* Getting the dermatologist's approval to take baths, now that my lipoma removal incision has fully healed up. I CAN TAKE A BATH. I just need to find the time. Maybe this weekend.
* I got to read books for fun while I was on leave! That was great! I'd missed just reading for fun. I mostly reread old favorites, with one new-to-me book for variety.
* I bought sleeping caps from headcovers.com and now my head isn't cold at night.
* The heartstopping adorableness
of Kit yawning, and the little squeaking noise at the end of the yawn. Someday I will get video of this but of course it's hard to anticipate. It's just devastating
If you decide to make your own post of ten things that make you happy, leave me a link. :)
- thinking about:
behavior.parenting, body.health, body.skin, experiences.reading, experiences.surgery, experiences.work, food, food.baking, food.baking.bread, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, people.family, people.friends, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, stuff.clothes
linked to this news story titled "Ted Cruz Challenges Donald Trump to a Duel"
and suggested it should lead to a Hamilton
earworm, so this is all her fault.
(TTTO "Ten Duel Commandments"
Number one! The challenge: demand he go on Fox
If he agrees, no need for further talks
Number two! If he won't, grab a mic, take the stage
Imply he wouldn't dare to stand and face your rage
Number three! Have your PR people meet on Skype
Figure out if one-on-one debates are worth the hype
This is commonplace, 'specially with right-wingers
Most disputes end with a friendly dinner
Number four! If they don't reach a peace, that's all right
Time to book a slot on a talk show tonight
You tell the host some jokes, you treat him with civility
He joins you in dismissing your opponent's viability
Five! Debate before the caucus is convened
Pick a big arena where you'll make a scene
Number six! Leave a note for your electoral committee
Dress up pretty, practice sounding confident and witty
Seven! Tug your tie. Ready for the moment
Of adrenaline when you finally face your opponent
Number eight! Your last chance to negotiate
Call the other guy, say you want to set the record straight
Are we on, Don?
Can we agree that the conclusion is foregone?
The Iowans deserve to hear your words, Don.
With that woman in charge—the ditzy blonde? I'm gone.
Hang on, you're dissing blonde women? That's not even sexist so much as gratuitous.
Okay, so we're doing this.
Number nine! Look him in the eye, make your points by rote
Wait for citizens to cast their votes
One two three four
Five six seven eight nine
Ten o'clock news REPORT--
Back in May 2014, I was having a very hard time around baby things, and certain no one would ever see me as a "real" parent. I wrote about it a little bit here
. To counter this feeling, X and I went shopping for baby clothes. We got some pretty random stuff in random sizes--whatever looked cute. We got some frilly things and some butch things. We got a little stuffed dragon to guard the hoard. (We named him Beauregard.) We tucked the clothes away under X's desk.
Today I put one of those outfits on Kit, and X took photos of us together. (If you follow subtlekid
, you can see them at http://pic.twitter.com/EECFpN0qcV
. One of them also became the userpic on this entry.) They are pretty terrific photos, even if the outfit is still a wee bit big for the baby. :) But I've waited nearly two years for this and didn't want to wait any longer.Dear past me: I feel entirely like a real parent, and no one gets to tell me I'm not one. It'll all be okay. I promise.
I can't wait until Kit is old enough to play with Beauregard, and learn how he kept our dreams safe until they came true.
Ninety minutes of today was spent on an unpleasant phone call, but the rest of it was pretty terrific.
* I got a whole six and a half hours of sleep! Such luxury!
* When I got up, X had been dealing with a very hands-on baby for several hours and desperately needed a break, so I took baby duty for a while. The baby was super awake and alert! I don't get to see that at night. I opened the curtains and Kit got to wave at some sunbeams and practice hand-mouth coordination. It was really nice.
* X had a headache yesterday that persisted into today, and I asked them to check in with the OB about it. The nurse asked them to get their blood pressure checked at the pharmacy nearby, which they did and it was fine, and they had no other worrisome symptoms, so the doctor said to just take Tylenol and keep drinking lots of water. Such a nice change from being told to go to the ER "just in case".
* I had a very enjoyable therping session (via phone) where I mostly ended up talking about favorite books from my childhood and the ways in which they were formative.
* J made steak and French fries for dinner. When it was ready, the baby had just finished eating and fallen asleep, so we brought the cradle out to the dining room and had a proper homemade family dinner, all four of us (though Kit slept through it). It was so, so wonderful.
* After the unpleasant phone call, X and J gave me lots of hugs and talked about cheering things.
* I got to Skype with miriamreads
for the first time since the baby was born. There was much squeeing. It was excellent.
* Tonight I've fed the baby twice with almost no spitting up. Right now I'm in the rocking chair in the baby's room; Kit's snoring and Sam is snuggled very snugly against my left side.
What was lovely about your day today?
Last night and this morning, X and I independently noticed that Kit has leveled up in eating: gulping less, eating more slowly, taking longer pauses between bursts of sucking, pausing for several minutes after an ounce or so. I'm gobsmacked. We didn't teach the baby anything! The baby just figured it out! I didn't know they could do
Today was a BIG ADVENTURE. The newborn hearing screening they did at the hospital was inconclusive, so we took Kit into Manhattan to have it redone. X also needed to go by their office and drop off paperwork, and then had an OB checkup--all within the same neighborhood--so we took the opportunity to show Kit off to X's coworkers and the OB. Our baby is an awesome New York baby
, wow. Slept on the subway, even when it was noisy (we're looking into getting baby-size noise-canceling headphones
); drank cold formula happily, with nary a dribble; was wide-eyed and calm as X's colleagues crowded around the stroller (I've never seen so many young men clamoring to hang out with a baby!); cheerfully tolerated a diaper change in a public restroom; blithely ignored the below-freezing temperatures and the noise of Broadway; and passed the hearing screening, too. I was expecting overwhelmed overstimulated crankiness when we got home, but nope, Kit just alternated between eating and sleeping for a few hours and then woke up burbly and fine.
No one slept last night and we are all tired-anxious-cranky. I actually fell asleep sitting up, which I never
do. But our baby is great and that is a great thing.
Our demon troll baby turned two weeks old on Monday. How time flies!
Kit has been having some issues with reflux. Our wonderful pediatrician recommended a super-gentle extra-hydrolyzed formula and it's working pretty well so far: still some spitting up, but much less arched-back screaming. We're also under instructions not to feed the baby too much or too frequently. This is awkward because the baby wants to eat basically all the time. I am rapidly becoming an expert in pacifier deployment. Fortunately pacifier + rocking cradle or cuddling = soothed baby at least 50% of the time, and I will totally take those odds right now.
Yesterday flailing little Kit was OUTRAGED that I DARED to offer a pacifier, spat it out repeatedly, then sucked three times on my pinky finger and fell completely asleep. This sort of thing is where we get the nickname "demon troll baby", which we use with all affection. The three of us don't have many personality traits in common, but a delight in trollery is one of them, and we were pretty much resigned to being trolled by our baby from day one.
Today I learned the difference between the reflux yell and the tension release yell:
R: *tries pacifier, pinky finger, holding, rocking, tummy rub, diaper change, everything*
R: Do you need me to just be present and witness your cry of outrage?
K: WAA*falls asleep, sleeps deeply for an hour and a half*
Kit's weight gain has been good and diapers are being dirtied at the expected pace, so at least we don't have to worry that the reflux is getting in the way of nutrition or hydration. I asked whether we should do weigh-ins at home if the reflux continues, and Dr. A said "Not every day or you'll flip out every time the baby happens to lose an ounce!". I am deeply glad we have a doctor who understands new parent anxiety and is sympathetic and helpful without being patronizing.
(I noticed that the doctor and his staff all seem to use "he" for all the babies, as what amounts to a gender-neutral pronoun--it's clearly used in the sense of "with the diaper on I can't tell the gender and it's not relevant anyway". I don't think I've encountered that before.)
J went back to work yesterday. X is barely even taking ibuprofen for what remains of the C-section pain, and is able to bend down well enough to load the dishwasher and feed the cats. I read a collection of three stories by Tanya Huff, set in her Quarters universe
, and started rereading Five Children and It
--the first fiction I've read since Kit was born. We're all getting a pretty surprising amount of sleep given that we're new parents; yay for taking shifts. Slowly life returns to normal.
Return of the granddaughter of the next generation of the five questions meme! From ivy
:1. Is being a parent roughly like you thought it was going to be?
I had no idea what to expect of this stage of parenthood, but some part of me was stubbornly certain that it was going to be just like our life only with a baby in it, no matter how many people told me that babies change everything. And as it turns out, our life is just like our life only with a baby in it. We haven't suddenly become different people. We haven't lost our other interests or our needs or our quirks and foibles. We're still us, caring for a baby in our own inimitable fashion.
I'm still shaky on identifying as "a parent" but that's gradually coming along.2. What is the best thing you've read lately? What made it so good?T. Berry Brazelton's Touchpoints: Birth to Three
(revised edition) is an extremely soothing and reassuring book about early child development. I read each chapter as we approach the stage it discusses, so that I don't overwhelm myself with info that I can't use yet. The chapter on babies two to three weeks old says things like "it takes work and time to bond (form attachment) with the baby, so don't worry if it doesn't happen right away" and "this is what an overstimulated baby looks like; if you see this then it's time to leave them alone for 10 to 15 minutes to recover". It's the antidote to scaremongering Dr. Google. Reading it is like breathing a giant sigh of relief.3. What artist or spokesperson would you give a wider audience, if you could?
The most obscure brilliant artist I know is photographer Zoée Nuage
, whose images of gender ambiguity and transition changed my life. I'd love to see those photos reach more people who are just starting to have thoughts about their own genders. Somewhat to my surprise, Zoée has moved on from photography and is now making needle-felted jewelry
that's tiny and beautiful.
Less obscure but also brilliant is Thích Nhất Hạnh
. I recommend his writings on mindfulness in daily life to anyone who's ever been stymied by the (false) notion that meditation and mindfulness require a rigorous practice of setting time aside for sitting still in a quiet room. I genuinely feel like the world would be a much better place if everyone attempted some sort of mindfulness practice--we don't all have to be Zen masters, but paying a little more attention and moving a little more slowly goes a long, long way.4. What are your thoughts about education for kids? Do you have a preferred method of schooling?
I'm firmly in the "whatever's best for that particular child" camp. Some kids need a lot of socializing and others need time alone. Some need to be self-directed and others need structure and coaching. Some learn by listening and some by doing. What matters is that they get lots of options and opportunities to find what works for them, the support and attention they need from compassionate instructors, consistent rules and discipline without punishment, and a safe, encouraging space in which to learn.5. If your whole household could be instantly and collectively fluent in another language, which one would you pick? Why that one?
I wouldn't dream of picking unilaterally--that's a decision we should all make together. And if "collectively" means the baby learns it too, that's a different decision from the three adults picking a language in which to discuss things that we don't want Kit to know about. :)
My personal suggestion would be Japanese, since becoming fluent in it the hard way is really super hard, and it's genuinely useful for us (J's stepfather is Japanese and we love traveling in Japan).
If you want five questions from me, leave a comment, and I will do my best to think of something to ask beyond "Can you come over and watch the baby?". :)
Today: a day without crying or panic attacks! Therefore a good day!
I did feel one anxiety wave hitting me late this evening, but it was clearly caused by hunger and I was already in the process of making food, so I finished cooking (without injuring myself!) and ate a great deal of food and asked X to bring me taurine, and 20 minutes later I was fine. I feel this somehow balances out my panic of... yesterday? the day before? It all blurs a bit.
Today is the first day without any "firsts" to note in the baby book. Kit continues to be Kit, and doing all the expected baby things. We're still learning how to deal with the eager gulping feedings that lead to spit-ups and discomfort. Dr. Brazelton recommends letting the baby recline at 30 degrees for 20 minutes after eating and before burping, so that the burp doesn't bring milk up with it; I'll try that at the next feeding.
I'm the on-call babyminder for the next four hours. I should probably spend them sleeping in my bed with the baby monitor on, rather than sleeping in the baby's room, but I can't quite bring myself to take that step yet. It requires trusting the monitor app, which is sound-activated, and it's never let us down but I'm nervous anyway. On Monday J will go to his office and get all the packages that have been piling up there, including a tablet stand that will let us set up the tablet right over the crib to give video as well as more sensitive audio than it currently gets from a few feet away. That should help. If it doesn't, I'll switch from the sound-activated monitor to Skype or something.
Today was a milestone day for the baby in several ways:
1) The umbilical stump fell off. X and J each independently said, "You're not going to keep that and put it in the baby book, are you?" I may have been somewhat obsessively updating the baby book. (I did not keep it, or even take a picture of it.) Kit's navel looks fine and healthy. Yay for our lovely healthy baby.
2) Kit managed to spit up through the nose as I was in the middle of changing a diaper. This was quite alarming for several reasons. First, I thought the sudden sneezing and drippiness was the first sign of a cold, and freaked out at the thought of our 10-day-old baby being ill and having trouble breathing. Second, babies generally breathe through the nose; Kit was very agitated at not being able to do this, and began screaming. Fortunately I had stocked our medicine cabinet with a Nosefrida nasal aspirator, and I kept a handle on myself long enough to direct X to grab it for me so I could suck out the milk-snot. J called the pediatrician, who said to clear out the nose with a couple of drops of saline solution and more aspiration, so we did that--I'd also stocked the medicine cabinet with saline and told X exactly where it was--and once it became clear that the nose wasn't runny and it was just a onetime thing, I handed the baby to someone and went off to sob.
I am very embarrassed that I reacted that way. I'm generally calm in a crisis. I keep reminding myself that I did all the right things and that I was able to identify the tools to use and tell people where to find them and make use of them. I didn't let the panic get in the way of responding quickly and correctly. And I know it's normal for new parents to be easily agitated about anything that might be the slightest bit wrong with the baby, especially when we're underfed/underslept. But still, I panicked, and I don't like that I panicked.
3) Kit drank four ounces of milk in one go. Turns out this is way too much for a ten-day-old baby. To my surprise, it all stayed down, but I spent about an hour doing tummy rubs and bicycle legs and diaper changes while Kit flailed around and strained and looked very uncomfortable. Poor wee thing. I finally induced sleep with a lightly swaddling sleep sack--it's warm enough in here that Kit was just wearing a shirt and a diaper, but apparently the baby has already formed the impression that that is daytime clothing and nighttime requires pajamas--and a bit of pacifier-sucking. (Apparently bedtime pacifier use significantly reduces SIDS risk
, including for low-risk babies. I'd been avoiding it because weaning babies off of a pacifier can be very difficult, but I shall avoid it no more. Kit has literally zero identifiable risk factors for SIDS, which is a very reassuring thing to know, but why take chances?)
Lesson learned: if Kit chugs three ounces and claims to want more, give a pacifier instead and wait for digestion to happen. Everyone will be happier.
Yay, finally a dream that's not about the baby or pregnancy or labor!
I dreamed it was nighttime and I was roaming the streets of SoHo. I ended up hanging out with a Chasidic guy who was sleeping rough. We wandered past art galleries and talked about art. Suddenly he realized he was about to miss his chance to charge his phone at a truck that provided mobile phone charging services for homeless people. (Is this a thing? I want it to be a thing.) As we ran off to find the truck before they left, he was explaining to me why it was okay to charge his phone there even though it was Shabbat--I think it was because the phone was so important for his survival.
So far so good. Kit's out of the precautionary NICU and done with the precautionary antibiotics (there was no actual infection, yay); they're eating and sleeping and making messes and having loud opinions like a champ. X's bandage was taken off today (a day late, and the OB had a look in his eye that suggested yesterday's PA was going to receive a serious talking-to for not doing it yesterday), and the C-section incision looks great. With sufficient pain medication, they were able to walk down the hall to the shower and even stand while showering. The one-flight walkup at our place is going to be a challenge, but then they can just stay home for a couple of weeks while they recover.
J and I are trading nights at home, so we alternate being well-rested. Tomorrow everyone will be home and everything will be great.
Updates continue to be mostly on Twitter. Sorry, non-Twitter folks.
I really want separate pronouns for "gender unknown" and "this person explicitly identifies as nonbinary". Using "they" for Kit is the least bad option but I don't want to imply that we're putting a nonbinary identity on them, especially in the context of using the same pronoun for me and X. We're just keeping their gender private until they figure out what it is and decide to be public about it.
I need to update my tags and userpic keywords. Tomorrow, maybe.
X's water broke and they went into labor at 5:15 a.m. Eleven hours later, we're at the hospital, epidural's in, they're napping and waiting for the pitocin to work its magic. Everything's going swimmingly. :D Updates are happening on Twitter for the most part but I will try to update here too when I can. Assume no news is good news.
21:49: So far so good. :)
00:28: 6 cm dilated, 80% effaced, baby's head at position 0. Epidurals are amazing and the nurse anesthetist is going to get the world's biggest fruit basket.
01:12: X is, miraculously, asleep. J and I are also going to nap while the fabulous doula beetiger
08:21: Habemus babby! Born by C-section. Baby is in the NICU as a standard precaution; X is being stitched up and should be out shortly. We are all extremely tired.
As mentioned here
, I recently read Thích Nhất Hạnh's The Miracle of Mindfulness
(which had a very gratifying focus on mindfulness in daily life; for a taste of that, see this shorter piece by Nhất Hạnh
). One of the things he suggests is taking a mindfulness sabbath every week--you do your ordinary daily things, but you do them at about a third your usual speed, with full attention to the thing you're doing in the moment that you're doing it. I like that idea so much better than a day of rest in the traditional Jewish mode, and have been thinking about implementing it in some way.
I tried it yesterday (beginning with lighting candles on Friday at sunset, which was very pleasant in the winter dark) and only sort of managed it. At one point on Saturday night I realized it was dark out and that meant Shabbat was over and I didn't have to be mindful anymore. Then I thought that was a sort of silly way to look at it, and did my best to be very present with whatever I did next (washing my hands, I think). If it were easy, I wouldn't have to make a practice of it.
One place where it was very effective was doing work on Friday evening. I was proofing my pages for the week, which I usually get very distracted from and take ages to do because of the distractions. But I focused on it not in a furrowed-brow kind of way but in a presence and mindfulness kind of way, and it went very quickly and painlessly. Unfortunately I have not yet managed to apply that to the work that I'm currently procrastinating on by writing this, because in order to be present with the work, I have to actually start doing the work, and I don' wanna. But once I actually start it, I will hopefully stay focused despite being incredibly tired, and it will go quickly and then I can sleep.
Today I was taking my meditation walk in the park, and caught myself getting distracted, and thought, "Be here now." And then I thought, "I am
here now," in the sense of, why do I need to instruct myself to be here now? I don't need to actively try to be here now; I'm already here now. I just need to stop being anywhere else (in the mind-wandering sense), and then being here now is the thing that's left. That little moment of enlightenment lasted maybe twenty seconds, but it was a really good twenty seconds. I am here now. No effort needed.
I dreamed that J and I went to a gay bathhouse and hung out in a hot tub with a bunch of writers we know. Some actors who had recently played Doctor Who showed up, including Matt Smith and David Tennant. ( It didn't go the way you might expect )
Yes, I'm bummed that it didn't turn into a sex dream involving David Tennant. (Couldn't care less about Matt Smith, personally.)
New userpic of virtual Sam from Neko Atsume (Cat Collector), which has been making me very happy lately. Virtual Sam and virtual Alex are amazingly like their real-life selves. Virtual Sophie is from an alternate universe where she allows herself to be happy around other cats. They are all extremely adorable.
The subject line should be read to the tune of "Besame Mucho". Each time I get a new cat I hear mew-sic divine! My brain does these things to me, and therefore I share them with you.
The other day I mentioned taking walks while listening to Headspace meditations, and the friend I was talking with was puzzled because those are intended for sitting meditation. There is certainly much to be said for sitting meditation, and Headspace has taught me how to appreciate and enjoy it, but walking meditation just feels perfectly designed for me. Sitting meditation feels like using weight machines instead of free weights; it builds capability and endurance, but only in very specific ways that aren't necessarily broadly applicable. Walking mindfully feels like much better practice for moving mindfully through the rest of my life. And I'm always happiest while walking, through a park or through my city.
How to adapt one to the other: Whenever the guiding narration says to rest my focus on the rhythm of the breath, I rest my focus on the rhythm of walking instead. That's it! The rest of the practice is entirely the same.
I've been doing Headspace Pro recently, which is unthemed and includes long periods of silence. Nearly every afternoon, ideally after eating lunch and before the sun gets too low, I go to the little park down the street and walk for 20 minutes or so, very lightly guided by the minimal narration, experiencing the park and the change of seasons and the people and animals that pass by. It's just lovely. I dropped the practice in the summer, because I don't need a reason to get out and walk--I do plenty of it without even trying--and my schedule is often so packed that it's hard to find even 15 or 20 minutes for myself. I expect I'll drop it again next summer for much the same reasons. But I'm so glad to have it for the fall and winter and spring, and I hope to bring FutureKid along with me on many future walks (without headphones in, obvs).
Today I started reading Thích Nhất Hạnh's The Miracle of Mindfulness
. I was looking for his book on walking meditation and couldn't find it, but this was sitting right there (we actually owned two copies). It feels like something I would have nodded along with in the past, but not really viscerally understood. Now that I have an actual meditation practice to link it to, I think I'll get more out of it. In the meantime, it's just enjoyable to read. And it feels so validating to read things like this that both echo my experience and provide gentle direction:
When you are walking along a path leading into a village, you can practice mindfulness. Walking along a dirt path, surrounded by patches of green grass, if you practice mindfulness you will experience that path, the path leading into the village. You practice by keeping this one thought alive: "I'm walking along the path leading into the village." Whether it's sunny or rainy, whether the path is dry or wet, you keep that one thought, but not just repeating it like a machine, over and over again. Machine thinking is the opposite of mindfulness. If we're really engaged in mindfulness while walking along the path to the village, then we will consider the act of each step we take as an infinite wonder, and a joy will open our hearts like a flower, enabling us to enter the world of reality.
I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.
In real life, the other day, I woke up too tired to go to a planned lunch with a friend, so I emailed her to cancel and went back to sleep. Then I dreamed that we had lunch and I bored her so much that she fell asleep!
I also had another weird pregnancy dream last night. We had done IVF and picked out the embryo we wanted, but X wasn't able to carry the baby for whatever reason, so we regretfully put our frozen embryo in an envelope and tacked it to a bulletin board in hopes that someone who wanted a baby would find it and be able to use it. A little while later I realized that the embryo would probably thaw out before someone came along to take it and I got very distressed. We got back in the car and started the long drive back to where the bulletin board was in hopes that we could retrieve the embryo in time. Then I woke up.
Clearly I have been thinking a lot about what to do with the embryos we don't plan to use; I don't think the bulletin board route is the way to go, though.
I left this as a comment elsejournal, about helping kids to deal with anxiety, and figured it might be useful to a wider audience. This particular analogy helps me a great deal with understanding my own anxiety and finding healthy ways to deal with it.
There are two kinds of anxiety: the solid kind and the liquid kind. The solid kind comes from one-time things you can point to and wrestle with, like a deadline for turning in homework. That kind can generally be worked around with a little bit of attention to practicalities. "I'm worried that I won't get my homework done on time." "Okay, how can we make sure you have the time and tools you need to do your homework well and efficiently?" And some explicit practice trusting yourself and recalling your past similar successes can be useful too.
But the liquid kind comes from global, environmental, persistent things: brain chemistry, ongoing physical pain or disability, a life full of uncertainty, other people around you behaving in harmful or erratic ways. It's incredibly hard to look at those things head-on because they're so big and pervasive, so we try to bottle the anxiety up in the shape of something we understand. "I'm anxious that no one likes me" or "I'm anxious that I'll fail all my classes and be a miserable failing failure" or "I'm anxious that everyone I love will die" are bottles for liquid anxiety. And you can't address that anxiety by trying to address the bottle--saying "Of course people like you, you are very successful at many things, we will all live a good long time" will bounce off the bottle and never get through to the anxiety inside. You have to pour the anxiety out of the bottle, a little bit at a time if you can't manage more, and treat it as its own thing.
In the moment, you can say, "I'm so sorry you feel scared. It's hard to feel scared. Anytime you feel scared, I will do everything I can to help you feel safe." Or maybe, "Sometimes I feel scared too. Let's hug each other and promise to help each other through scary times." You can also practice large-scale calm, meditation, compassion, patience. But the bigger, harder, most absolutely necessary work is figuring out that persistent source of fear and fixing it as much as it can be fixed.
It's apparently Clovember, so here, have photos of me on Saturday
Both days: Hat by Goorin Bros., shirt by Arrow (their boys' 16 and 18 fit me perfectly and are readily available on eBay), shiny captoe shoes by Hunter's Bay (men's 5.5, bought at Payless for $20!), barely visible reversible belt by Calvin Klein.
Saturday details: It's hard to tell in the hotel room light, but the hat is blue cotton, the pinstripes on the shirt are blue, and the sweater (a French Toast boys' school uniform piece, bought during last year's back-to-school sales) is navy. Jeans are Old Navy men's slim fit. I'm wearing a magnetic pin
(an Australian Aboriginal design) instead of a tie, my new favorite thing. My default earrings with hats are tiny opaque stone spheres that I got in various colors from desayunoencama
's father's jewelry warehouse; the ones I'm wearing there are a lovely cloudy swirly blue, agate or something similar.
Sunday details: The tie is a boys' zipper tie by Signature; tying ties is fun, but nothing beats zipper ties for a) convenience and b) being the right length for my torso. USB watch chain and antique pen nib fob by Wyrding Studios
(note that nearly any pendant in the store can be turned into a watch fob upon request). Charcoal vest (no label) and wool blazer (Talbot's) are from thrift stores. Trousers are Old Navy men's black khakis, heavy cotton because it was really too cold for my thin polyester dress pants. The lapel pin is my World Fantasy Award nominee pin, inverted as a distress call; it was the only way I could bear to wear Lovecraft's face. I made the earrings, which are simple stacks of five cubes of some sort of copper-colored opaque stone--jasper, maybe? I like the way they echo the copper hatband. This is basically as steampunk as I get.
I love having excuses to dress up. I should really do it more often even when I don't have an excuse. :)
Everyone is completely fine.( A fun trip to the ER )
I should probably eat something--I've barely eaten anything at all today--and then go try to sleep some more. If I'm lucky this whole thing will have reset my sleep schedule back to where it should be. Not the way I would have chosen to do that, but I'll take what I can get.
- thinking about:
behavior.love, behavior.parenting, body.body clock, body.sleep, events.cons, events.cons.world fantasy, experiences.disaster, experiences.kindness, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina
Here's our inventory of baby clothes acquired thus far. Parents, how insufficient is this? :) I'm including the stuff for bigger kids for the sake of completion, but mostly I want to make sure we're stocked up on newborn/0-3 things and 3-6 things. Our baby's weight is at something like 70th percentile right now, so I expect them to size out of newborn clothes pretty quickly; we're also planning to try cloth diapering, which may mean getting leggings a size larger than we otherwise would. We have a washing machine, and I already do laundry several times a week (three adults generate a lot of laundry), if that helps with estimating how much we need to have in stock; I don't plan to let pee-soaked things sit around. Fortunate we're getting the diapers from a service and don't have to factor those into the washload.( It seems like a lot but isn't really )
I am deeply indebted to vschanoes
, and d_aulnoy
(and their babies, who conveniently predate ours by six to twelve months) for the many many hand-me-downs they have already given us and will undoubtedly provide more of in the near future. We also received many baby shower gifts of nice neutral white, gray, beige, and yellow baby clothes. Meanwhile, when X and I go out and buy baby clothes, we go straight for the gendered things, e.g., the button-down shirt and sparkly purple shoes, which I bet will look awesome together. It's nice to have options.
Here it is mid-October already. The time, it does fly.
This is what we've done so far in October:( Long list is long )
Not included on there is all of us having day jobs (including big projects/crunch time on all fronts), date nights, hobbies, chores, constantly working on being a better family (improving conflict resolution, practicing asking for things we want and need, supporting one another through our various anxieties around pregnancy and birth and parenthood), etc. Fortunately the list for the second half of October is slightly less daunting.
is on my lower back, about 5 cm by 2.5 cm, and totally benign. It's been there for years and years. I wouldn't even bother having it removed except that it does get a very little bit bigger every year and is starting to occasionally ache a little, which means I'm going to have to have it out eventually. Better to do that now while it's moderate-size (which means a quicker procedure and faster healing) and while I'm not picking up a baby all the time (stitches on my lower back = no lifting heavy things for a couple of weeks). So there will probably be an outpatient procedure for that sometime in November, whee.
On the hobby front, I've been obsessing over annotating the Hamilton lyrics on Genius
; just putting the subject line on this post reminded me of an annotation I'd wanted to make and suddenly it's half an hour later. (I've so far resisted the siren song of annotating every TMBG song ever, because a) I do not have time and b) no, really, I don't have time. I permitted myself to mark up "Vestibule"
and that is it.) (For now.) I've also been growing some nice virtual succulent gardens in Viridi
I finally finished knitting a pair of baby booties, and I'd like to try making a blanket or sleep sack next. The booties were pretty tough on my arms but I'm hoping working with larger needles will be easier. Now I just have to survive the rampant gendering in the comments of every single Ravelry pattern for babies. THE BABY DOES NOT CARE WHAT COLOR THE SLEEP SACK IS. Anyway, this looks cute
and I might try to make it, maybe using this technique
for ribbing to see whether it makes me hate ribbing any less.
I've turned in my Best Books list for 2015, which in theory means I can read for fun now, but I have no idea what I actually want to read. Maybe I'll reread some old favorites.
It's very firmly fall now. Right now it's 40F outside. Inside, the heat's come on, but I haven't put plastic over my window or taken out my air conditioner yet, so there's still a bit of a draft in my room. The cats think this is the best weather ever, and have been super cuddly. Sam keeps walking all over me. Alex usually avoids X's bed, which is Sophie's territory, but the other day X woke up from a nap to find all three cats hanging out on the bed together (though all carefully positioned at the maximum possible distance from one another). Even the usually aloof Sophie sat on J tonight while X and J and I were cuddling! We were all completely astonished.
Our early wintergift to ourselves was heaps of warm clothing from L.L. Bean: robes, slippers, flannel shirts, insulating undershirts, a fits-over-the-bump winter coat for X, all that lovely stuff. I got a Black Watch plaid flannel nightshirt that goes down to my knees and it's the best thing ever. I think I'm going to snuggle up in it and go get lots of good sleep.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, body, body.health, body.skin, experiences.books, experiences.reading, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.autumn, experiences.theatre, experiences.theatre.hamilton, experiences.work, food, food.cooking, people.cats, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, places.home, projects.crafts, projects.crafts.knitting, stuff.books, stuff.clothes
Today I:( did a lot )
I'm making this post because I still feel like I didn't get enough done today, and X suggested I write it all out to prove to myself that I did. I guess the real problem is that there's still so much to do. We have a plan for doing it, and that helps a ton, but the bulk of it won't be done
for another few weeks.
J was an absolute hero today. In addition to making the pot roast and doing all the dinner cleanup so I could rest my arm, he hauled book boxes out of the baby's room and into his room, moved all the flatpacked pieces of baby furniture into the baby's room so our library/hallway no longer looks like an IKEA warehouse, and took two more boxes of giveaway books down to the curb. I'm hoping that having the furniture out of sight will help keep it out of mind until friends descend upon us on the 25th for moving and building things. Having it heaped in the library was definitely stressing us all out.
Hopefully my arm will be better tomorrow and I can do laundry. That always makes me feel calmer. Who knows why.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.domesticity, body.arms, body.hands, experiences.driving, experiences.housework, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.restlessness, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, places.home, stuff
Today the three of us got up at what X calls "fuck o'what in the morning" and endured a seven-hour advanced child care and infant/child CPR and first aid course. We are now all certificated for the next two years. Maybe when the cert is up we'll hire someone to do a CPR training party for us and our local child-having and child-caring friends. (Thanks for the idea, and_rayna
Major props to X for doing the course while six months pregnant. They needed help getting down on the floor with the CPR dummies and getting back up again after, but they did those chest compressions like a champ.
Today would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday. I think he would have been very proud of how I chose to spend it.
I took Celebrex before and after the class, and brought an instant ice pack that I slapped on my right arm the instant the class was done. Real ice followed when we got home. Thanks to these precautions, my arm is only in moderate agony. Chest compressions are hard work
. I have been forbidden from doing laundry tonight; I hope I'll be able to do some tomorrow. Mostly I need socks and underwear, which are easy to load into the machine and don't require folding, so I think I should be able to manage that.
Right now, maybe another round of ice on both arms--I always forget that my left arm gets just as inflamed but is quieter about it--and then a whole lot of healing sleep.
Right now, our fourth room is our guest room. We have a big pull-out couch in there, and a couple of bookcases that are currently full of kids' books.
Somehow, we need to turn it into the baby's room. That means we need to get bookcases out of J's room and the guest room, get the couch out of the guest room and put it in J's room, build a crib and changing table and rocking chair and kid-size cabinet/closet, and move some of the bookcases back in.
J is able-bodied and fairly strong. R is somewhat able-bodied and not terribly strong. X is quite pregnant. This is more than we can really do on our own.
So! If you're available to come to our apartment (in Brooklyn, very near the Utica Ave stop on the 3/4) and help us move heavy things around on Sunday October 25 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., we would greatly appreciate the help. We will gladly pay you in delicious food and drinks, free books, and even bookcases if you'd like them. The books and bookcases are perfectly good; we just don't have room for the latter, so we're divesting ourselves of the former (and replacing them in digital).
If you're not up for lifting heavy things, come over anyway! You can keep us company, cheer us on, entertain us, go out for more chips, or just take books away. It'll be a fun little low-key party.
Usual apartment warnings apply: we have three cats (who will be shut away for the duration of the movinatin'), and we're up one fairly steep flight of stairs.
Please comment or email and let us know if you'll be joining us!
Today, after months of planning and stress, we spent three hours surrounded by friends and family at what was unquestionably the best baby shower of all time. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives. <3 <3 <3( Party report )
J's uncle took a great picture of the three of us:
Yes, X's belly has a name tag.
After the party, J and X and J's mom went home, and I went to a TMBG concert, because I have interesting priorities. It was an Apollo 18
show! How could I pass that up? ( Show report )
The show ended in time for me to catch the totality of the lunar eclipse, which was very cool. And then I came home and smooched my beloveds and patted my cat and drank some water and left the heaps of gifts and cards to deal with tomorrow.