Friday, February 29, 2008

You can't fence her in

I gave Suzi a bath today (she was past due). When we were done I wrapped her in her piggy towel which was warm from the dryer. She's so content right at that moment, but when you unwrap her and try to put clothes on... She gets upset.

Then there were a few things I needed to do (dishes, laundry, etc) so I put her in her baby prison (see How to Catch a Baby) and she went nuts! Sometimes I can wear her in a baby sling, but it's hard to do that when I'm leaning over to pick up laundry and working with hot water. I got so fed up with trying to do chores while being screamed at I decided I'd finish babyproofing the living room TODAY. She had to sit in her crib while I did the major stuff. I dismantled the prison and put the small part in front of the TV so she can't push buttons. The larger part I used for blocking the entrance to the dining room and kitchen. I also covered the coffee table with two blankets. Now Aiden can come over to play without worrying about busting his head on it! It may look funny but it's safe now!

I put away any paperback books from her basket so we'll know she's not tearing them up and eating them, and now Suzi can help herself to some literature. We can finally let her crawl all over the living room as long as we're watching her. This made things a lot easier, and I was feeling so good after getting caught up on the laundry I decided to make a little baby food: mashed potatoes and carrots.

Then things went downhill. First, I peeled off a little of my finger while I was peeling potatoes. When it was finished and I tried to feed it to Suzi, she HATED it! I'd figured she would like it so I made a ton. It was in a baby food book! She was trying to be nice about it. She'd take a big mouthful and then lean over the side of her highchair like she was bored and spit it onto the floor like I might not notice. I don't think she meant to hurt my feelings but it ended with me scraping the bowl of food down the garbage disposal, feeding her rice cereal and then running upstairs crying. Reminiscent of the episode in which my newlywed mom made pineapple cake, but forgot to add the sugar and, even though my dad swore it tasted great, ran outside with the whole cake and hurled it into the green garbage can. I'm hoping Jordan can add some things to it that might make it work for her.

At least I got the living room babyproofed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The machine that goes PING

I saw it. I went to and streamed The Business of Being Born directly onto my computer. If you do a free two week trial you can watch it immediately without having to wait for it to be mailed even if you don't currently have Netflix.

Thoughts rushed through my head as I watched. The births brought tears to my eyes as squatting mothers, sometimes in water, reached down and lifted up their own newborn babies. By contrast, I saw photos of "modern" 1920's births where it appeared the mothers were being tortured more than helped. I don't feel like talking about how-dare-the-hospitals anymore. That horse has already been beaten to death; I want to talk about my thoughts.

I only recently became familiar with the idea of a birth center or home birth. (Jordan and I can't handle another child yet, but next time I want to begin my pregnancy already prepared.) My knee-jerk reaction to a non-hospital birth was what if something goes wrong? Yes, of course there are hospitals available for transfer, but what if the baby has the cord wrapped around his neck, or it's prolapsed, or there's some other last-minute complication? Midwives do not use "machines that go ping" (the baby is not being monitored every second like in the hospital). On the other hand, what if the chances of problems are minute, and I personally feel it's best for my baby to have a gentle, loving birth free from the pressures of a hospital? Do I not have faith that God would take care of the baby?

There are risks, yes. There are risks in everything. But at some point I have to say God, I am going to do what I feel is best for my child, because I trust YOU over my OBGYN.

Curly hair!!! Plus our new weight loss support blog...

Look at these curls on the back of my daughter's head, would you please? I am so excited! I always wanted curly hair and never had it, but it looks like Suzi may be getting her daddy's hair after all! (In case you didn't know, as a baby he had the prettiest white-blond ringlets ever. He could've been a baby model but his parents wanted to give him a normal life, which was probably good because if he'd been a model he probably never would've come to Clemson to meet me. Plus we all know how child stars can turn out.) I just hope people don't start calling her Curly Sue.

Vicky, Kelly, and I have started a weight loss support blog: No Cupcake for You! It's going to be team-written by, so far, the three of us. Let me know if you'd like to write too! I better go help Jordan now with Suzi's dinner...

Oh and by the way, check out Nolan's birth story on Vicky's blog! It is an interesting one.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Beautiful day for a field trip!

It's probably weird to take pictures of your groceries but I am excited about discovering Whole Foods. Jordan, Suzi and I spent Saturday morning in Greenville. I had been hearing so much about Whole Foods and wanted to go, so I convinced Jordan it was worth the trip. We came out from under our rock and drove 45 minutes or so to get there.

If anything is worth a trip to Greenville, this is. I expected to find organic foods and other things not usually found in Wal-Mart, but the shopping experience itself is so different. Outside the front door there are plants for sale; when you go through the doors you are hit not with a traditional stale grocery store smell, but rather with the aroma of spices and--well, I'm not exactly sure what it is, but it smells good! The food is not as expensive as I'd expected. I'd been wanting to try some quinoa, which Julie said was good, and I think it cost about the same as grits.

You know those cheap, impulse buy pick-me-up items you see in Wal-Mart? Change purses, cheap jewelry, little toys. They don't have that at Whole Foods. Instead, they sell unique items that are, for instance, handmade in Africa and bought for a fair price rather than made in sweatshops. Didn't buy any but I wanted to. Then I saw the bath product section. I found a big bottle of mint shampoo, which I'd been searching for for years and couldn't even find online, for only $3. I got the soap to go with it. We also bought five of their big 99 cent shopping bags--and they even credit you ten cents per bag for not using paper or plastic. I'm going to start using them every time I shop because those plastic bags just clutter up my life!

When we got home I cooked some quinoa, and it was so good! I like it better than grits and that is saying something. It is also way easier to cook than grits. I tried to feed it to Suzi but she didn't like it; it's too grainy for her yet. I can see now we're going to have to start making a trip to Greenville once a month just to go to Whole Foods.

We also went to a craft store and bought Suzi some plain wooden eggs after she so enjoyed Jackson's the other day. Then I dyed them pretty colors. She loves them! Funny, because this is a toy that cost less than four bucks.

Today: Church and hopefully (real) Easter egg dyeing. I know it's a bit early but last year we waited around and ended up being too busy to do it. We have to dye eggs this year; it's Suzi's first Easter!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yay for green longies!

Tonight I almost finished this pair of wool longies for Suzi. They just need elastic added to the waist. Thanks Janet for showing me how to make these! For those of you who don't know (I didn't until Janet told me), you can put a cloth prefold on your baby and then the longies serve as a cover. They are also quite warm I am sure. These are made from a sweater I bought at Goodwill with these directions. The wonderful thing about the sweater I selected is it was a tiny juniors sweater so the arms were narrow. Normally you have to cut down the sleeves (which become the legs) so they'll be snug enough but after felting the sweater I was able to skip this step.

I also made dinner, which may not seem like a big deal but it really is. Jordan usually cooks. (And by usually I mean every night.) He came home from work and smelled the chicken and said "What are you doing?" I made chicken and dumplings with tortillas. All you have to do is boil the chicken as usual and then cut it up and throw it in with a couple cans of broth plus the water you just boiled it in, some celery and onion, etc. Then throw in the tortillas and keep boiling it until they look like dumplings! It's like magic! No one will know what they really are. I even ground some up for Suzi in the food grinder her Nana and Papa gave us last weekend, and she liked it too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Anybody can wear a bow, but...

We have Cakies! Today when I checked the mailbox I saw our package, which we ordered from Etsy. I bought a little flower hair clip for Suzi, and she sent me an extra one free for being one of the first ten customers! We got red and lavender. Here they are:

Aren't they precious? Suzi had to have one because she'd never seen any hair accessories like these and she loves to have the newest things. Plus they are handmade with love rather than mass-produced and it shows. I also think the packaging is so cute.

When I opened them Grandma and Grandpa hadn't brought Suzi home yet, so I couldn't resist trying one on myself. (You know you would've done the same thing.) So now we know they can handle a lot of hair but also stay put in just a teeny little hank of hair!

Here's Suzi wearing her lavender one and riding Betty Butterfly:

I'll have to get some better pictures later. She was having such a good time rocking it was hard to get a clear shot. These Cakies are adorable and if you have a girl you need to buy one! I also enjoy reading the creator's blog. I love to be creative and (try to) make things, and this blog is so inspiring with all the beautiful projects and bright colors.

And here is a random picture of Suzi eating pasta for the first time. I enjoyed watching her, but I did not enjoy cleaning it up. Next time we'll have penne pasta in small slices instead.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you all enjoy this little picture video, which is my Valentine to Jordan. The song is one of my new favorites, "All I Want is You" from Juno. Have a great night. Hopefully we will once Suzi goes to sleep!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The most perfect thing since the last episode of Six Feet Under

Jordan and I went to the movies tonight and saw Juno. I loved it. It painted such a raw, unpolished picture of high school--the skinny awkward boyfriend, the gnawed off fingernails... All the things you remember (or at least I do). This is one of those movies I will keep noticing things about in my mind for the next two weeks. There is a handful of teenage pregnancy movies out there, and most of them are strained cautionary tales which shamelessly give themselves away (i.e., Fifteen and Pregnant starring Kirsten Dunst. Just read the title and you can save yourself the trouble of watching).

This movie delves into previously unexplored realms of cinematic teenage pregnancy which I will not go into because you should see the movie yourself. It is not like Saved, which is another of my favorites. While Saved is exaggerated and satirical, Juno is authentic. What impresses me is that Juno managed a definitive, satisfying ending without betraying the rest of the movie. (I learned that this can be tough from writing short stories in college.)

I haven't even mentioned the soundtrack yet. The standout songs have a folksy earthiness to them I loved. This necessitated a late Wal-Mart run for the CD, which I ripped open as we walked across the parking lot so I could play it right away in the van. I'm listening to it as I type. I'll be wanting the DVD when it comes out too. This was a darn good movie.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Suzi's birth story (eight months late!)

I’ve been meaning to write this for eight months: the complete details of Suzi’s birth. I want Suzi to know what happened and also want to refer back to it next time I’m expecting. Women usually like to swap birth stories, so if you have had a baby please write one on your blog and link to it in my comments! I would love to read it.

Jordan and I went to see Spiderman 3 on May 28, 2007. I was having contractions, but they didn’t amount to anything. Suzi was a week late. We were staying at my parents’ house, and every night I hoped we’d be going to the hospital before morning. At about 2:00 am on the 29th, I woke up with contractions and they kept coming. I woke Jordan up and told him I thought this might be it, and then I got a shower. We went for a sunrise walk at the University. When I was tired of walking we went to the store to pick up ingredients for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and I baked them. The contractions weren’t bothering me much, but were getting uncomfortable so I sat on an exercise ball and watched TV while Jordan took a nap.

Around 2:00 pm Jordan and my parents wanted to go to the hospital. Since it was half an hour away and I didn’t want to be in severe pain in our little Corolla, I agreed to go. Everything was still so casual when we arrived that I went to tell my friends at work. Then I saw my doctor and he said I was dilated to 3-4 and he would admit me. I figured I could walk the halls while I waited since the contractions weren’t that bad.

When we got up to the room, they immediately made me change into the ugly hospital gown, so leaving the room was not an option. I gave them my birth plan, which I had carefully typed up weeks in advance, and they informed me the doctor would be up shortly to break my water. I don’t know why he didn’t mention this when we were in his office. They said the contractions “weren’t strong enough.” When your water doesn’t break on its own (as in at home) they use a long instrument resembling a crochet hook to do it for you and it speeds labor up.

The nurses wanted to start IV fluids, but I didn’t. I told them I wanted to try for a natural birth and would not need an IV; it would be much easier without a bunch of needles hanging off me. When I said the word “natural” they looked at me like I had three heads, but agreed to wait. We waited and the contractions became worse. I had visitors in and out for a few hours and eventually had to stop talking during the contractions, pick something across the room to concentrate on and breathe through them.

Around nightfall things got ugly. With every contraction, my lower back felt like it had a truck parked on it. Jordan was pushing as hard as he could on my back and that worked great until he couldn’t push any harder. We had run out of tricks. One nurse told me I could probably be pushing within thirty minutes and I figured I was home free at that point because I could do anything for thirty minutes! When our attempt at counterpressure on my back stopped working, all I could do was hold on to the side of the bed and cry. Then a nurse came in and checked to see how much I was dilated, as I hoped I was nearing transition. I felt crushed when she told me I was only at 7 and it could be three more hours!

At this point I wanted an epidural bad. The anesthesiologist was still available and I only had to wait about 20 minutes. They put in the IV I had tried to avoid and, after reading me a long disclaimer and having me sign a form, finally put the epidural in. It was amazing. My agonizing back pain melted away in seconds and I felt so good my mom dared to snap this picture of me:

We had to wait several hours for Suzi to descend further, and then it was time to push. The staff began setting up the things they’d need. They took away the lower half of the bed and at my request a mirror was brought in. I looked at the clock and it seemed Suzi would be born on May 29th, a Tuesday. The epidural had seemed like a good idea until my first push. I couldn’t feel what I was doing and had to ask if I was pushing hard enough. At this point we let the epidural wear off. Since I couldn’t feel the contractions, they had to tell me when to push. I started to fall asleep between contractions. I would close my eyes and when I opened them everyone was still gathered around waiting. When Suzi’s head got close enough, one of the nurses looked and told me she had long black hair and I was so happy.

I kept watching the clock and it became more and more obvious that Suzi was going to be born on Wednesday the 30th. Eventually the doctor decided we should try for a vacuum delivery, in which they stick a device that looks like a shower head onto the baby’s head and pull while the mother pushes to get the baby out. He tried several times (I lost count) but it didn’t work because Suzi’s head was too hairy and the vacuum wouldn’t stick. A resident who was assisting said, “We may have to shave that baby’s head.” I didn’t realize she was joking and yelled “NO!” I didn’t want to picture my beautiful baby girl with a reverse mohawk. I worried that after all that work the birth would end in a c-section.

Finally, at 1:13 am on May 30th, I pushed as hard as I could and felt Suzi slide out and all my organs begin shifting back into place. She didn’t cry right away, so I asked if she was okay and after a second she answered. She cried and I noticed how sweet and girly her voice was. They laid her on my chest. She was all white and flailing her tiny arms and legs. Even though she had been with me for ten months, I had seen her in three ultrasounds, and had felt her kicking, it finally became real as I felt her warm, damp body against me. It was my favorite moment of my whole life. Jordan cut the cord and it was over.

What would have happened if I had stayed home longer and not had my water broken? Would the fluid have cushioned my contractions and allowed me to have Suzi naturally? Could a doula have helped me manage my pain and avoid an epidural? I am glad I didn’t have a c-section, because I may have my next child in a birth center (for several reasons). Many people say everyone leaves with the same prize: a baby, and they don’t hand out trophies on the way out of the delivery room. They don’t get it, do they? What’s at stake is worth more than a trophy. It’s your birth story, the first chapter in your life as a parent. You get to write it, you only get one chance, and you can never change it. Next time I’m going to defend my adventure.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Excuse me... I asked for a Mei Tai?"

And that's what Grandma made. (The quote is from the movie Office Space, which you should see.) Today Suzi and I went to the babywearing meeting at the library and (unlike last month) she was crawling all over the place! I borrowed a handmade Mei Tai carrier from Julie and my mom and I made one like it. I spent a lot of money on all my slings and this was free but I like it better! I think Suzi does too. It's our color (lavender) and the straps are made of vintage fabric that belonged to my great-grandmother! (I come from a long line of fabric hoarders.) This carrier distributes baby's weight evenly over both shoulders and since it goes around your waist it puts less strain on your back. Not quite as easy to maneuver as my slings, but I'm still learning. Right now I need help getting Suzi into it.

Also at the meeting I learned about cloth diapers, and not a moment too soon. I didn't realize I'd put her diaper on slightly wrong (the edges were out) and she peed through onto her outfit. Luckily her buddy Jackson let her borrow some clothes, because I left her spare ones lying on the high chair. Just when you think you have everything, the thing you need most is not in the bag.

We also got some Bumgenius diapers, which we weren't expecting, but Carey was selling hers and we needed some (and we got a good deal I might add). We can't wait to try them! The ones we have now are a little small for Suzi. Ebay has halted sales of used cloth diapers (booooo!) so they are hard to find at a discount. (I mean, come on, eBay. It's not like we don't wash them.) Nope, they don't allow used DIAPERS, but used socks for the purpose of satisfying a fetish is fine. If you find this woman's socks sexy, you're more than welcome to buy them! I'll bet she makes good money pimping out her feet. They also allow used breastpump sales. (Don't get me started.) Evidently eBay is more concerned about what goes on our babies' butts than what goes into their bodies.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Look Ma, I'm standing! (Plus our diaper situation)

That's right, Suzi has learned to pull herself up. Here she is practicing her new skill on her favorite toy, the Learn-Around Playground:

The only problem is the toy is not heavy enough and she will pull it over on herself if we don't stop her. I plan on buying four padded dumbbells and tying one to each leg to make it more stable. (Unless you have a better idea--in which case, please leave a comment.)

She's so excited about standing that it wakes her up in the middle of the night. She'll cry and when Jordan goes to her room she is standing or squatting, holding onto the rails of her crib. She knows how to stand up but hasn't figured out how to sit back down! When this happens we put her in bed with us and I feed her, and a couple of hours later she goes back to her room.

And now for an update on our diaper situation. We are using cloth ones most of the time, but when Suzi goes to Grandma and Grandpa's she wears a disposable because we haven't gotten them set up for cloth ones yet. Here is our diaper laundry:

I want to explain how we are doing this in case anyone might be inspired to try it. It was easy! First, we made some cloth wipes out of t-shirts. Those work great as long as you use them fast enough that they don't start to sour. Then it's time to wash them and start over. We keep ours in a plastic container with enough water to keep them damp. For diapers we are using waterproof velcro covers and Chinese prefolds, which have worked fine. We change the prefold every time and about half the time we can let her continue to wear the same cover. I plan on buying some fancy all-in-ones ASAP, but these require the whole diaper to be washed after every change so we'd need more of them.

What helped us most was having a place to store our dirty diapers before we washed them. I found a perfect little diaper pail at Burlington for about $10. You can open it by stepping on a pedal, and the inside lifts out so I can dump and rinse it. I put a little white vinegar and a few cups of water in the bucket and we throw the dirty diapers in there (we dump any solid poop in the toilet first). Vinegar is one of God's little miracles, because when I went to empty the bucket for the first time it didn't stink, period. I just dumped it in the washer, did a rinse cycle, and then washed them in Dreft. We dried them and now they're ready to go again. To save electricity we may hang them next time.

The take-home message: It is really not that hard or expensive; that's just what Pampers and Huggies want you to think.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A nice little round head looks good in hats

I've recently taken up crocheting, which is way easier for me than knitting. All I can make is hats so far. Here's my first one, which is a hat "for a hero." (Read more about it on my mom's blog here.) This hat fits an adult, but I thought it'd be cute to let Suzi wear it and take her picture.

And here's the hat I made for Suzi. I used variegated yarn, and I loved watching one color after another come across the hook. I usually get tired of working with the same old colors, but that didn't happen on this hat. I'm a little proud of it. I know it's only a simple little hat--just let me have my moment.

I'm pleased that hats look good on Suzi. I don't have a head for hats, but Jordan has a nice little round head and Suzi took after him. We knew she was going to have his head shape after the first ultrasound when I was ten weeks pregnant.