Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heads up!

I can't believe it. My son is more than two months old now, and everything has changed.Wait, what? Let's try that again.There we go. Look at that! Lincoln has gotten so strong in the past few weeks. He's holding his head up 90 degrees during tummy time now, seeing toys, and babbling like crazy. And one day this week, he did something incredible.
MY BABY CAN ROLL OVER. It was a revelation! It's, like, the first thing he's ever done! He just leads with that big head of his, kicks a leg a bit, and over he goes! Clearly he is gifted.

And speaking of BIG. Lincoln had his two month pediatrician appointment last week, and of course he impressed everyone. He is quite literally off the growth charts, at 100% for weight and height and 95% for head circumference. At first the doc's eyes bugged out a bit, but once he examined him he declared Lincoln to be just perfect. "Keep doing what you're doing," he told me, which was lucky because I don't know what else we could do!

And then came The Shots. As far as I'm concerned there is no question about vaccinating infants and children: herd immunity doesn't protect a kid when their classmate's parents bring mumps back from an overseas vacation, and there is absolutely no evidence that vaccines cause neurological problems other than in extremely rare cases or when a fever gets out of control. So at the end of Lincoln's appointment two nurses came in, asked me to look in his eyes and hold his arms, and at once they each plunged a needle into one of his thighs.

And he SCREAMED. He stared into my eyes, beet red, shocked, and in pain, and screamed like I'd never heard before. My heart broke for him and I understood why the nurses bolted from the room, because I wasn't feeling very friendly toward them at that point. Fortunately it was only a few minutes before Lincoln was calm enough to leave, and he fell asleep in the car on the way home.

The evening was a blur. He was just fine when we got home, playful and happy. He never developed a fever, thank God, but by dinner time he was just distraught. I know now he was overstimulated, exhausted, and in a little pain at the injection sites, but at the time I was sure he was in terrible agony and would never recover. For the first time since the birth, I asked Josh to take care of Lincoln overnight while I slept alone in my room. I just couldn't take it! Even though he was sleeping peacefully long before I went to bed, the emotion of the day was just too much.

The next day, everybody woke up refreshed and recovered. (Lincoln and I at 6, Josh at 10:00. He deserved some extra rest). And since then he's been just awesome, sleeping in his crib now and smiling and cooing more every day. What a crazy ride these first two months have been! Thank goodness there will be more exciting milestones than there will be innoculations.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I must be the luckiest person on the planet. Or at least in the Northwest, at the moment - no, the planet. I've got a great husband, an incredible, miraculous baby, financial stability, good food, cute pets, and some of the best friends around. And then there is my family, who are generous, kind, supportive, enthusiastic, and brilliant, almost to a person. And this week we were lucky to have two of them come to town.On the left is my cousin Lizz, my mother's sister's daughter, who was born when I was 12 and was the first girl cousin who lived nearby. Thus I was her biggest fan then, and continue to be now that she's a thoughtful, accomplished young woman. In the middle is my dear Grammy Atwood, my mother's mother, who has been a fixture in my life since before my birth, I'm sure, and who continues to inspire me. They flew out from Maine midweek and it has been a joy having them both.Lincoln has never napped so well! Having a comfy Great-Grammy who'll help soothe him when his inevitable gas cramps take over is a gift beyond measure.

Lizz and Gram brought the blessed sun with them from Maine, it seems, so we tried to get out every day. On Wednesday I drove the lot of us to Fay Bainbridge State Park, which is a family favorite. The afternoon haze kept us from spotting Mt. Ranier, but we enjoyed the cool walk and views of the Cascades.

Lincoln slept peacefully in his Ergo baby carrier, and thank goodness he likes it. I'd be lost without the thing, which supports his weight safely on his legs and distributes it over my hips. Some carriers dangle the baby by his crotch and my shoulders, but this one rocks.
What a delight to walk and talk and enjoy the outdoors with adults whom I love and admire.

The rest of their five days here was taken up with walks downtown, communal naps in the living room, fresh local seafood and lots of priceless quality time among family. Josh took part in the fun and we all delighted in the weather and one another - and last night, the ladies watched the baby while Josh and I stole an hour for dinner out together. What a gift! I cannot wait to introduce him to the rest of the clan.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Seven weeks

Time goes so quickly! I mean, I am so, so glad to be past those first few weeks when everything was unknown, but I kind of can't believe how big and different Lincoln has become.

I'm not kidding about the big part, either. This little man has gained almost half his birth weight over again! Earlier this week, Lincoln had a little potty incident (read: peed all over his outfit) and the only spare PJs we had downstairs were six month size. Josh decided to go ahead and try them on, even though I was sure they'd be far too big. Guess what? In our family, six weeks = six months, apparently.

We have had a great couple of weeks. I'm feeling more capable and human every day, so we invited a few friends over last weekend. Their daughter is three, and she led Josh around the house by the hand, playing and talking up a storm while the rest of us played with the baby.
I'm really going to miss that outfit! It's a little too tight now, but it's just so adorable that I might try to stuff him into it one more time.
We are so lucky to have found great friends in all the places the Navy has taken us. This family (I don't want to use their names without permission) gave us a BUNCH of baby supplies from their stockpile, including a diaper bag and two big bins of cloth diapers! They showed us how to fold and use them this week, so I'm hoping to transition to cloth in the next couple weeks.

A few days later, Irish came over with her daughter. Madi is seven months old now, crawling and cooing and eating real food - and wearing the same size diapers as Lincoln. Yikes! She's also just the most beautiful baby you've ever seen. Besides Lincoln, of course.
Those cheeks! Those eyelashes!
Irish got in on the Lincoln cuddling action, and remarked how much smaller than Madi he seems - he's still got that little baby tendency to curl up and be all soft and sweet. When he's not screaming his fool head off, of course.

Irish and her family have handed down a LOT of great baby things to us too, and this visit was no exception. She brought along an A-frame play gym and some rings and toys to dangle from it - Lincoln is old enough to look at the toys and even bat at them now! And the best part is, it gave me an excuse to take more pictures in another cute outfit. The onesie and pants are NINE month size. Hoo boy. And that beautiful sweater was hand knitted for him by his great grandmother, my Grammy Meixell. I am so glad we'll be visiting them in Maine this spring.

Look at that eye contact! That toy has been a HUGE hit. The next day, Daddy got in on the action.
I didn't catch it with the camera, but he actually got his hand around Pooh Bear's leg at one point. Lincoln is a genius.

So it's his seven week birthday today, and our fella weight 14 pounds, 7.5 ounces. He's growing great, and his weight is actually evening out a little - no more two ounces per day, thank goodness. I'll post sometime soon about what he's eating, since just like the birth, it hasn't gone the way we imagined. In the meantime Josh is off to bring home the bacon, and I'm off to marvel at Lincoln's impressive motor skills. Who's up for a visit?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Five weeks old - bath time!

I wish I had more time to write! Most of my days are spent nursing, bottle feeding (more on that later), shushing and cuddling the baby, with a healthy amount of cooking, laundry, tidying up and even a little yard work mixed in. On days when he takes good naps, that is.

So here are some photos from a bath during Lincoln's fifth week. This little guy gets cuter - and bigger - every day.Josh and I usually bathe Lincoln together, but we're getting good enough at it that one of us can hold the camera while the other takes care of the baby. This time I got the fun job!He is so aware and pleasant, especially for such a young baby! Thank goodness he likes the bath.

I'd like to say that Charlie was in there with us for bonding, but the fact is that our pup cannot be trusted unsupervised, even at a year old. So we drag him into the overheated bathroom, and he is just grateful that it's not him in the tub.Bliss.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Well, this isn't the story I thought I'd be writing. Let me save you any bothersome anxiety: at the end of this story, here's what I got.He is beautiful, healthy, and perfect, and his birth was an honest-to-god miracle. But as I imagine most miracles do, this one came about in exactly the ways we'd sworn it wouldn't.

My son was conceived last April and due on January 13th, 2011. I stopped working before Christmas, my mom traveled cross-country to be here for the birth on January 7th, and at 200 pounds with insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of other discomforts, I was READY to deliver.

So much for that! I spent the month of January soliciting advice to bring on labor and subsequently eating spicy food, bouncing on a ball, drinking coffee, walking miles, driving an hour away (sometimes inconvenience is the key, I'm told), eating pineapple, and spending a little "special time" with my sweetie - all to no avail. On the 18th the doc stripped my membranes and assured me that I'd be in labor that weekend. We flew my dad out from South Carolina.

A week later, and nothing. Let me stress that having a healthy baby was my #1 goal, and I was prepared to let him come in his own time. The tests all showed that he was strong and healthy in utero and didn't need to come out, but by the 25th of January I was ready. READY for baby. We went back to the OB for more monitoring and to create a plan. We saw him on ultrasound for the third time and the babe was in the right position, moving and practice-breathing and looking great. We held our breaths as the technician estimated the birth weight:


At this point, I was a little more willing to consider induction than I had been. See, Josh and I were very clear about our ideal birth. We took classes from Amy Hoyt of Wholly Mama Birth Services, becoming versed in the Bradley Method of natural childbirth. We were prepared for anything, but hoping for a medication-free, powerful experience coached by Josh. We hired a doula, wrote a plan, and spent the pregnancy eating healthy and doing big strong exercises to prepare. I should have known things would not go according to plan.

So after taking castor oil and cohosh, walking forever, bouncing on the birth ball and participating in a theta energy healing session by phone, I was having weak contractions during the day that died out overnight. I saw the doctor one more time, consulted with the doula, and decided this was it: it was time to coax the little angel out. Bring on the Pitocin. And on Friday night, January 28th, we did.
That's a labor gown I bought from - it says "I dream of sushi," in case you were wondering.
They strapped me up around 8pm, Mom and Dad went home to get some sleep around 10, and Josh and I tried to rest and hoped the Pit would kick in overnight.

It didn't, of course. In the morning my crew (that's Mom, Dad, the doula, and a friend) returned as Josh and I were pacing the halls trying to move things along. Finally around 10:00 a.m. I asked my new nurse Lin to crank the Pitocin to 11, as it were.

That was when it hit. I was standing next to the bed sometime after 10:30 when I felt something break in my pelvis. It knocked me over and I was bent double clutching the bed before I knew what had happened - turned out that was my water breaking. From that moment on I had huge, painful, earth-shattering contractions every few minutes, and despite all the classes and practice and videos we'd been through, I was completely unprepared for that kind of pain. Here I am at 10:45:
and again at 11:00:I still can't believe how it felt. Women have tried to describe this experience for thousands of years, and all I can add to that record is that when I said I thought I was going to be ripped in half, I meant it.

After two hours, a lot of groaning and complaining, the removal of the IV and monitors ('cause boy oh boy, I didn't need any help contracting any more!), I felt the need to push at 1:00 p.m. Lin confirmed that I was fully dilated, and the real work started.

It's difficult for me to remember the first few hours of pushing. It took longer than I expected to learn how to push properly, and each contraction seemed stronger and more painful than the last. The pressure was so intense I thought for sure Lincoln was ready to be born with every push. Mentally and emotionally, I went down a rabbit-hole. All I could see was Josh's face, and I focused on him like never before.

Let me just take a moment to sing an ode to my husband. The man did not eat, drink, or rest from the moment we woke up on Saturday morning until we went to bed that night, hours after our son was born. He never left my side, never lost faith in my ability to handle the pain, and remained brave and strong when I was in utter despair. His face got me through the most difficult moments of my life, and I will never forget that. And he didn't flinch at the icky bits, either. Oh, I love this man.

Anyway, back to the pain. I pushed for hours on end. My doctor checked in a couple of times and encouraged me - the baby was at minus one station, my pushing was great, keep it up. When I told her I didn't think I could do it, she asked me to try for another hour. So I did.

Finally around 5:00, after four hours of pushing, I used my code word that meant I needed pain medication. The anesthesiologist came in and did an epidural, and for the first time that day I felt like a failure. Worse than thinking I'd lost my fight for a natural childbirth was realizing that the epidural had made my legs numb and my face tingly, and had done absolutely nothing for the pain of the contractions. Nothing. Nada. So I kept pushing for one more hour, when my doctor came to check me again.

The baby was still at -1 station. I'd been pushing, hard, for hours. My whole body was swollen beyond recognition, my face was covered in broken blood vessels, and my left eye had hemorrhaged and was bright red with blood. The doc, who I had been seeing for a year and a half and whom I immensely respect, told me that I needed a c-section.

At this point, I was too tired to do what I wanted, which was to sob with my whole body for the loss of the natural birth I'd dreamed of. I wanted a break from the contractions, just long enough to catch my breath and my brain and cry for a while. But since I couldn't have those things, I polled the room. Everyone told me to do what I knew was best - until I got to Josh. Terrified, angry, exhausted, and in pain, I looked into my husband's eyes as he told me it was time to have the surgery. I let the tears come and nodded at the doc, and they prepped us for the OR.Being wheeled from the labor room to the OR, and then having the spinal block anesthesia put in, was probably the hardest part of the whole experience. The contractions were still rocking through me like a Mack truck, but now I was flat on my back and couldn't push. Once the kind, calm anesthesiologist administered the block, I melted into the operating table and actually lost consciousness for a few minutes. Josh and the anesthesiologist stayed by my head and kept me company while my doc did the surgery, and then I heard them say "Daddy, stand up. You don't want to miss this."

And then I heard my baby cry for the first time.

And my heart burst open in a million pieces, growing in an instant and filling my chest, my body, the room, the world, with love.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Ah, January 15th is here! When I learned last spring that I would be due to deliver on January 13th, 2011, I was careful not to get too excited about that date in particular. First-time moms usually deliver late, so I knew I could go as late as January 27th and still have a healthy baby. I was ready for the long haul.

Well, it's a little tougher now that it's here! I mean, I am 100% committed to as natural a birth process as is safe and plausible, and I'm glad our wee boy is growing and moving well, and I am convinced that he and my body will prepare and deliver at exactly the right time. But week 39 (10 days ago now) brought a host of new, uncomfortable symptoms including carpal tunnel syndrome and a Herculean resurgence of overnight heartburn. I'm not sleeping, I weigh a LOT, and every Braxton-Hicks contraction has me a little more hopeful that labor is on its way.

So a little self-medication has been in order, lately. My birthday was a great salve - a couple of girlfriends took me to Tacoma for a great Thai lunch and an epic trip to Trader Joe's. Then one day I saw a recipe for homemade Oreo cookies and ended up with this:
Oh. My. The cookies are deep, dark chocolate, and the filling is the super-sweet white cream you'd expect from an Oreo - but I used butter and coconut oil rather than hydrogenated shortening. At first I thought the cookies were too sweet overall (despite my having reduced the sugar by quite a bit), but then, imagine! They kept disappearing!

Then it got even better - Mom came to town! She's been such a trouper, cooking dinner for Josh and me, getting me out to walk around, and coming along to the doctor earlier this week. And then best of all, earlier this week, Mama (Nana!) made a Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. Hoo, nonny.It was so delicious I forgot to take a picture of a slice. And there are no slices left.

So just as long as the baby's signs remain strong, I am fine to handle whatever petty discomforts come along with an overdue little one. I'm content to know that sometime within the next twelve days I will be holding my perfect new baby boy - and in the meantime, I'll tide myself over with chocolate.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The other Portland, part 2

Customer service sucks in the United States. I don't like saying it, but in general, that's what I've found. In Japan, I never once doubted that the people working in each restaurant, shop, hotel, and train station were doing their best to make me welcome and comfortable - and that was doubly impressive, considering that I didn't speak the language or understand the culture. In this country, I doubt that all the time. So it is always with a little trepidation that Josh and I embark on mini-vacations. Why spend the money to be treated badly and eat mediocre food? I had hopes that Portland would be different.

Well, it was.

I mentioned in part one that our drive down was stressful. When we finally arrived at Hotel Monaco, dropped the car with the $33!! valet, and made it to the front desk, we learned that our room, which was prebooked, prepaid, and due to be ready 40 minutes earlier, was not ready. Josh and I sighed and exchanged knowing glances as we settled into a chair in the lobby - here we go. But it wasn't two minutes later that the front desk clerk walked over to us and let us know that no, the room wasn't ready - so they would be happy to upgrade us to a suite on the top floor that is ready to go now.

Well, color me flabbergasted. Even more so when I saw that the manager had sent up a bottle of sparkling cider with congratulations for our impending birth. Unreal.

This hotel delivered in a BIG way, and I heartily endorse the Monaco and the Kimpton brand.

But it didn't end there! After our delicious doughnut adventure we set out to find real food and landed at Mother's Bistro. One of the drawbacks to living in a small community is the lack of fine dining. It was so refreshing to have a meal that was well thought-out, delicious, and as-promised. Our server knew the menu, didn't hover, and didn't have to write our orders down. The meal, and our evening, was lovely. So much so that I didn't even pause to take photos of my crab cakes or Josh's pot roast.

It was still raining, of course, so we turned in early and enjoyed a couple of doughnuts for dessert in our cozy suite.

The next morning, we found the last culinary stop on our little babymoon. It was one I found on the web which bore the magic words: grass-fed beef. See, cows aren't made to eat corn and they can't digest it, which is where we get e. Coli! Cows that eat grass take longer to grow, have less fat, and are absolutely e. Coli free - which makes them tastier, safer, and much more expensive. Josh and I eat grass-fed beef exclusively at home, but it's almost impossible to find in restaurants. Except Urban Farmer!

Oh, what a place! This restaurant walks the local, sustainable, organic walk. And we woke to a blue, sunny sky, so you know the camera joined us for breakfast. Josh ordered the grass-fed steak and eggs, and I ordered a less photogenic but equally delicious plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and whole grain toast with freshly squeezed orange juice.We ate, we drank, and we thoroughly enjoyed our leisure. I do still miss my caffeine a bit, though. Does it show?

We're counting the time until the due date in days now, rather than weeks, and I am so ready to meet our son. This precious baby, made up of Josh and me, is an awesome expression of our love and commitment to one another - a commitment that I know we'll need to work on as baby takes over our lives. This little trip was a great beginning to this, the next phase.