August 31, 2010

On the Edge

Since I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy, I feel more desperate to get some good reading in. This past week I have read two books that left my heart in knots and my soul reeling.

1) Push by Sapphire: This is the story of Precious, an illiterate, obese African-American teenager who is pregnant for the second time with her father's child. Obviously Precious has not had an easy life, being raped continuously by her father and abused constantly by her mother. Her story could be the same as any other hopeless teen's growing up under such awful circumstances - but an alternative school is what ends up being Precious's call to a normal life. This book hurt so much to read, because it's told in Precious's voice (and if you've ever read Flowers for Algernon, then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about) - and that voice is a powerful, wounded, and heartbreaking one. I highly recommend this book, although it is quite graphic (so much so that at times I felt nauseated while reading it).

2) Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: Lia, the teenaged main character, is anorexic. Her estranged best friend Cassie has just turned up dead. This book chronicles Lia's descent into terrifying darkness as she struggles to keep control over her weight - and her sanity. Anderson is an absolutely amazing writer; reading her novels is like reading dark poetry on a quiet, blistering cold night. This is another book that I cannot recommend enough - all I can say is damn, I am so glad that I am not a teenager anymore.

I have a bunch of books that I would love to read before Burt Reynolds is born. I'm supposed to be a good natural birther and should be reading my stack of birth books that have been waiting for me, but oh, these novels and books of poetry are so tempting. I'm trying to balance it all out - some fun reading here, some birth reading there.

I am a little nervous that once Burt Reynolds is born, I will never be able to read again. Or do anything else, for that matter. I'm trying to remind myself that I had the exact same fear when I was pregnant with Charlie, and look at me! Still reading, and miraculously, I still have a life. I suppose it will take time to figure out how to fit in all in, but I know it's possible. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my (relative) freedom.

August 30, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 30

Day 30: A photo of you when you were happy

This is us three years ago on our honeymoon, happy as can be. There was no money for us to take a huge trip, so we went up to the Pacific Northwest instead. We had an absolutely fabulous time, just us doing our nerdy Leslie and Roy thing. Yeah, we're not tropical island types. But if someone wanted to give us a free trip, we'd totally take it. Just sayin'.

And that concludes my 30 day photo challenge! That was a ton of fun for me - I loved looking through all my old photos, searching for the perfect picture for each day's challenge.

August 29, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 29

Day 29: A photo of someone you find attractive

Why hello there, Dave Matthews, you poet with a guitar. You're pretty much the only celebrity out there that I can say I have a crush on.

August 28, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 28

Day 28: A photo of what you ate today

Ice cream! I needed a big bowl of it after reading yet another fear-mongering post on Facebook about the "Ground Zero mosque." Ugh.

August 27, 2010

Cute, Soft Things + BBR List Update

You may recall that once I hit the 100-days-until-Burt-Reynolds'-birth, I made a list, now called the BBR (Before Burt Reynolds) list. Here's an update for you:

Find a doula. DONE! Just sent in the deposit tonight.
Figure out insurance/birth center mess. (IN PROGRESS)
Go to Bradley class every week. (IN PROGRESS)
Do Hypnobabies home study course. (IN PROGRESS)
Write birth plan.
Read birth books. (IN PROGRESS)
Pack birth center bag.
Pack just-in-case bag for transfer to hospital.
Pack overnight bag for Charlie for his stay with family.
Make quilt for Burt Reynolds.
Make Christmas stocking for Burt Reynolds.
Go through all emails from birth center and print out relevant ones.
Get Charlie's Halloween costume together. (IN PROGRESS)
Set up house to accommodate two kiddos. (IN PROGRESS)
Go through all baby stuff: wash, sort, and hang up. DONE!
Dye Moby wrap.
Finish organizing the house and garage. (IN PROGRESS)
Get rid of stuff: have a yard sale, sell big-ticket items on Ebay/craigslist, donate the rest. (IN PROGRESS)
Convert all velcro on diaper covers to snaps. (IN PROGRESS)
Shred all confidential documents.
Organize computer: photos, documents, bookmarks. (IN PROGRESS)
Edit all unedited photos on computer. (IN PROGRESS)
Book a photographer for maternity, birth, and newborn photos. (IN PROGRESS)
Get finances under control. (IN PROGRESS)
Get addresses organized for birth announcements.
Scan in old family photos. (IN PROGRESS)
Set up Burt Reynolds with our pediatrician.
Finish babyproofing. (IN PROGRESS)
Finish bucket list.
Clean out email inbox. DONE!

And now for something much more fun.

Diapers! We had a rather meager newborn stash when we started using cloth diapers on Charlie. So we decided to bulk up our newborn stash for Burt Reynolds, because let's face it, the less disposable diapers that end up in a landfill, the better. Last week I bought another mom's entire newborn stash for $75 (and she threw in some baby clothes). That's one of the many cool things about cloth diapers - you can buy used and save a bundle.

Here's our new and improved newborn stash:

I'll break it down for you. Without links, because I'm lazy. Sorry. Google is your friend.

3 dozen or so prefolds (some from Green Mountain Diapers, some from Jillian's Drawers)
4 Mutts fitteds
1 Spooky Kitty fitted
7 Kissaluvs fitteds (some unbleached)
1 All-in-one purchased from here
a variety of covers, 11 total (wool, fleece, Bummis, Thirsties, Bumkins, Diaperaps)

We should have enough diapers to easily get us through two days (hopefully three), and I am super stoked that I didn't spend an arm and a leg bulking up what we already had. All we need to do now is give them all a wash and organize the changing table to accommodate two kiddos in diapers.

And now for more cute, soft things...

Mama cloth (otherwise known as cloth menstrual pads)! I've decided to go with all cloth pads for my postpartum bleeding. At the beginning of the year, I experimented with using a cloth pad while on my period and found that I liked it. I'm also thinking that I want to find a better monthly method than disposable tampons and pads, so I may use mama cloth once I get my period again. Otherwise, I may go for a DivaCup, which is supposed to be awesome (but can also have a steep learning curve).

Anyway, I ordered some cloth menstrual pads from here and here, and they are really cute!

And while I'm on the subject of cute, soft things, here's a close up of the one new diaper I purchased for Burt Reynolds:

I die at the cuteness of this diaper. Do you see that rather big-bellied person lying on the ground over there? That's me. Dead. Killed by cute overload.

Oh, and just when you thought I couldn't be any more of a Crunchy McCruncherson, I made my own laundry detergent. We're using it on everything, not just diapers. So far, so good.

I am so excited to have this baby. Tonight I was hanging up all his little clothes (most of them hand-me-downs from Charlie), and all of a sudden, I could visualize him so clearly. I almost started crying because it was just such a powerful feeling of excitement and anticipation and knowing. I can't wait to expand into a family of four (seven, if you count the cats). Only 10 more weeks until my guess date!

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 27

Day 27: A photo of last summer

It was a day of Target shopping that will live in infamy, a day in which Charlie and I went there with Mandy and my mother-in-law to kill some time. I rode the cart all over the store because I had pulled my ass muscle and it hurt too much to walk. I'm not sure if I will ever have as much fun shopping in Target as I did that day, but you know, some day I may try to beat the record.

August 26, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 26

Day 26: A photo of your favourite weekend

(Click to enlarge.)

I tried hard to think what my favorite weekend would be, and the only one that came to mind was the weekend of my wedding. So here are a couple of pages from our wedding album.

All these wedding pictures are making me want to get married again - to the same guy, of course.

A Post About Poop

Charlie is obsessed with poop. He loves his diaper pail (and putting my phone in it, and taking out the dirty diapers). He loves taking off his diaper. He loves looking at and playing with his poop. Oh, and he just loves flushing the toilet (which probably has nothing to do with his love for poop).

Not only that, he poops about four or five times a day. That is a whole lot of butt-wiping. And it's not simple butt-wiping, either. It's chase-the-naked-kid around-the-room-so-he-doesn't-leave-skid-marks-everywhere kind of butt-wiping. It brings parenting to a whole new level, and let me tell you that it's great fun to deal with, especially when you're getting to the point of being massively pregnant.

I'm already starting to think about potty training. Yeah, I know, he's only (almost) 15 months, but from what I understand, it's a pretty slow process anyway, so there's no harm in starting soon. And by starting, I mean buying him a little potty and letting him sit on it, maybe starting to read some potty books. We already do a bit of naked time a day. Once Burt Reynolds makes his way to the outside, it's going to throw a wrench into our daily life, so it'd be a little pointless to bust out the big guns now (that, and I know he's not really ready for those big guns).

But 2011, perhaps that will be the year that we potty train.

Until then, I anticipate that we will be seeing a lot more of this:

August 25, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 25

Day 25: A photo of a night you loved

My wedding night! (And I'm not talking about what happened at the hotel after the wedding, either.) I'm talking the wedding itself, which was amazing and one of the most wonderful nights ever.

August 24, 2010

Quite Contrary

Okay, fine. I have tried to write this post about five or six times now and each time it's a no go. So fuck it, I'm going to say what I mean and post it already.

I've been doing a lot of soul searching, and I have decided not to stop blogging after all. I know, I know - could I be any more of an attention whore? One thing worth noting, though: this blog as it has been written for however long is done. I honestly just can't do the blogging-as-journal/blogging-as-therapy anymore. I've put so much work and time and energy into doing that and it's just not bringing me much happiness.

I've decided to experiment with making this blog into a virtual/digital scrapbook of sorts. I plan on sharing snippets of my life and other things but the bulk of my emotional landscape will go back into journaling and poetry. These are two forms of writing that I have really let go of in the past 5+ years (since I met Roy), and both are something I always meant to get back to. Both of those have an authenticity to them that (for me) blogging doesn't.

I'm not sure what else to say about this. Of course, I could offer paragraphs upon paragraphs of self-analysis and personal history and all that other annoying stuff I like to do, but instead I'll just say that I'm glad that I made this decision, it feels like the right one, and I look forward to continuing my blogging adventure with all of you.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 24

Day 24: A photo of you that your hair looks nice in

Okay, so my hair is a little fluffy in this picture, but I still think it looks good. I wish I had good hair-styling capabilities but I really don't - so most of the time I rely on my charm to pull me through and hope that the rest of the world doesn't notice the rat's nest on top of my head.

(PS - This is one of our engagment photos, taken in 2007.)

August 23, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 23

Day 23: A photo of your friend as a baby

A big ol' WTF to today's photo challenge. I don't have any photos of my friends as babies. So I cheated and am using this photo of cute little Mandy and cute little Roy. Roy reminds me so much of Charlie in this picture. I love it.

August 22, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 22

Day 22: A photo of your town

California can produce some amazing sunsets, that's for sure.

I took this while driving this past January, and as I recall, I didn't do any post-production on it at all - so those amazing colors you see? That's Mother Nature all the way, baby.

August 21, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 21

Day 21: A photo of you standing up

I just love this picture. It was my last Halloween working at Chili's (2005), and I got such a huge kick out of this guy. What's not to love about a mega buff guy dressed as a fairy?

(I'm still curious if he stuffed something down his pants.)

August 20, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 20

Day 20: A photo of something you enjoy doing

Not sure if it's obvious that I enjoy photography.

I was pregnant with Charlie in this photo (about as far along as I am right now), and we were in San Francisco. I miss that place.

Just a few things...

... on this lovely Friday morning.

Okay, my recent post. First of all, thank you for all your sweet comments. I appreciate them (and you) very much. Secondly, when I was talking about being disillusioned with those who don't offer themselves wholly, it was coming from a place that sometimes feels very lonely. I like to hear the nitty gritty about other people and their lives; it just feels more real to me to know that not everyone is singing and dancing under the Rainbow of Happiness. When I am feeling sad and open my Google Reader and read yet another post from Mrs. Happiness about this and that and oh-my-goodness-life-is-sooooo-grand, I can't help but feel at least a tiny bit annoyed. (That is not directed at anyone who reads this blog, by the way, so please don't think I'm talking about you.)

I certainly do censor myself in my blog, quite a bit. If I wrote publicly about every time someone pissed me off or upset me, I would have no friends. So I do get why people hold back, because I do it myself. And I guess I understand the need for a persona while writing online, but at the same time, I don't. I don't have a persona myself. In the end it just feels fake to me.

I do have plans to wind down this blog. If it were up to the OCD me, I would finish all 40+ drafts first and then close up shop, but that is so not going to happen. I'd like to invite those of you who aren't already my Facebook friends to become so, so that we can keep in touch. So send me an email at and we'll get that all set up.

So, that's that. And a few more things:

I am officially 29 weeks pregnant, which means next week I will be 30 weeks pregnant, which means ZOMG, I am definitely in the homestretch of this pregnancy. I am both very excited and very nervous about this. I had some noticeable Braxton-Hicks contractions for the first time yesterday - much earlier than my last pregnancy. It was very cool to be a witness to my body doing its thing to prepare for birth.

Remember this list I made once I hit the 100 day mark? Well, very little of it has been accomplished, but a whole lot of it is in progress. I distinctly remember the giant list of things to do I made when I was at about this point in my pregnancy with Charlie. Most of it didn't get done. But the world kept on going, as it tends to do.

And lastly, we were at our Bradley class last night, and I learned that 7-10 cm dilated is considered the transition stage of childbirth. I shouldn't say that I learned this because I already knew it - but I had forgotten it and had wrongfully assumed that 10 cm until pushing was considered transition.

Last night in class it hit me that I had made it to transition when I was in labor with Charlie (I was 7-8 cm dilated when my labor stalled). And being as transition is the most intense stage of childbirth, it's no wonder that things stopped there. On the other hand, I was reminded that despite its intensity, transition is usually the shortest stage of childbirth, and usually dilation occurs much more quickly than it does in active labor.

I wish I would have hung in there.

No, scratch that.

I wish I could have hung in there. I wish the pain hadn't been so excruciating. (Thanks a lot, Pitocin!) I wish I hadn't been so afraid. (But who wouldn't have been?) I wish that I had never gone in for that damn induction in the first place.

Just when I think that I have accepted what happened, there comes that anger again.

But I'm okay, really. Anger's not a bad thing. And without this experience, I wouldn't have had this awakening that I so desperately needed to have.

So, on this lovely Friday morning, I'm choosing to be grateful. And angry. Turns out you can be both at the same time.

August 19, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 19

Day 19: A photo of you on a school trip

I went to Washington DC the summer before my senior year. I was one of two students at my high school selected to go on that trip, and I was so proud of myself! It was quite the eye-opening trip, as I had my first real encounters with seeing real poverty and homeless people. I learned a lot and had a blast. (And there's nothing quite like riding on a bus for 30+ hours.)

August 18, 2010

An Offering of Truth

It's a rough night. One of those that comes at you out of the murk and you don't really understand its origins until you sit with your husband in the dark and just start talking and crying.

I am impressed by those who don't have much of a filter, who bare themselves in such a stark and poetic way that it makes my heart go wonky. This is something I try to do in my own writing, whether it's on this blog or in my journal or what-have-you. I have never shied away from talking about life and the ways that it's hard and the ways that it's happy, and while I understand that this is the internet (who knows what crazy is lurking about?), I find myself completely disillusioned with others who don't offer themselves wholly.

I think there's too much fear out there, and it starts so early that by the time we become adults we censor ourselves regularly so as not to make others uncomfortable or to appear offensive. And sometimes, yes, it's good to have a filter. I have no problem lying to someone to spare their feelings as long as there isn't a huge personal compromise in the process. Sometimes we need to be selective in what we share but so often I feel led astray by the abundance of happyhappyhappy out there. Like there is something wrong with me because I find myself crying in the dark on a Wednesday night for no particular reason at all. Perhaps it is not an interesting blog topic for most, but I would find it interesting. I like to hear about tears and their origins just as much as I like to know about the birth of happiness.

In the 3+ years that I've been writing this blog, I've strived to share my life and my thoughts in a way that is honest. I am not a very good prose writer, to be sure. I am too wordy. I feel the need to really explain myself. I don't want to be misunderstood. I've spent my entire life feeling misunderstood. So I explain. And explain. And oh look, I'm doing it again. But lately I've grown tired. I feel like this blog has run its course, and soon, whether I want it to or not, it will peter out and die.

In many ways I think that blogging has been an attempt to make myself special. That's all I ever really wanted - to be someone special, someone worthy of attention, someone who had the approval of the world. I have abandonment issues that run deep and crooked inside me; I need people to recognize my worth because I have a hard time recognizing it myself. I am often paralyzed with doubt, and I don't feel like a whole person. I feel like two halves - and sometimes, a collection of tiny little pieces, each/all struggling to gain the upper hand. It is fucking exhausting to be me some days.

Today I went to a member meeting for the moms club I just joined. The thing about being a SAHM is that it's an exceedingly lonely undertaking. There are the obvious benefits, of course, but no one really talks about the loneliness. The isolation that threatens to swallow you at times. The silence at naptime that is 50% peaceful, 50% unnerving. The constant fears that you will never amount to anything, even though being a mom is 100% enough.

I joined because I want to connect with others. But those initial meetings are so difficult. Having a child is an excellent buffer, as you can focus all your attention on him and try to forget about the fact that you feel so awkward. I don't like small talk at all; I'd much rather get that out of the way and get on with the good stuff, like thoughts and emotions and all that. Anyway, one of the members and I were talking about her daughter, who was very premature, and she brought up that she had a son who was also very premature (born at 21 weeks). Sadly, he didn't make it.

As soon as she shared that with me, my eyes immediately filled with tears, and I sat there wishing them away. But I just couldn't. And that is who I am. I am a person who cries when I hear sad stuff. I am not tough. I am not stoic. My heart hangs out in the open.

But even knowing this about myself and knowing that tears are a perfectly sane reaction to hearing about the death of a baby, I felt stupid for crying, like I was being too dramatic or something. I actually apologized for crying and then later wondered why I felt the need to apologize. And cue the internal conflict.


"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes."

And speaking of multitudes ... here are a few more to round things out.

I love my husband more than I ever thought I could love another person. And I am convinced that he is one of the only people in the world who understands me. I have spent a lot of time imagining my life without him, because this is what people with abandonment issues do. We prepare ourselves to be left behind. Some might say that this takes away from the time we have together. But that's not true. I have given myself wholeheartedly to my marriage, to my husband. I am completely open to him and to what it means to love him.

I have epiphanies sometimes. And then they go away, almost as quick as they came. And that to me has always felt like a real tragedy: to have found a deep truth, only to watch it slip away.

In my perfect fantasy world, I still have the same beautiful blonde hair that I had as a child. I remember people making a big deal over my hair and how good that made me feel. Putting highlights in it now is just an attempt to hang onto that. It feels fake and insincere to me now, probably mostly because I know we can't afford the upkeep anymore.

I consider myself a lucky person. And because of all the good luck I've had, my life has been a breeding ground for laziness.

And yet I can't deny that some truly awful things have happened to me in the course of my life. And that I have had to work hard and diligently to sort through them all. And even with all that sorting comes the knowledge that once they have happened, they are always a part of me, and there is always the risk that the box of pain will be opened once again.

I am taking a break from all the birth books I'm supposed to be reading and have turned to The Catcher in the Rye. This is a book that I've read many times, and even as an adult, I can relate to Holden very much. I love the guy. I wish I would offer myself the same forgiveness and understanding that I give him.

I wish that I would have loved my past selves a lot more than I did. I wish that I would have told all those stupid mean boys to fuck off if they didn't like something about me. I wish I wouldn't have tried to change myself to suit them. And yet I have no regrets, unless wishes count.

I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid; that was my biggest dream. It still is, to this day. From what I understand, it's so rare for a person to really just know why they were put on this earth, especially when you're an indecisive doubtress like myself. But I always have. And I always will. Long after this blog dies, the words will still be what I turn to.

And speaking of this blog, I have loved writing here and I have loved meeting and getting to know all of you. For reasons that I can't really fully explain yet, I know that its days are numbered and that soon I won't be posting here anymore. I have felt this way for months, and I know that the depression I went through + all its implications for me now are big factors. I think I am just growing in a different direction; I feel that life is calling me and it's a call that I just need to answer. I plan to finish out the 30 day photo challenge, and then I'll take it from there.


30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 18

Day 18: A photo of one of your classes

I took a few liberties with today's prompt since it wasn't exactly clear. This is me and my oldest friend Lynn. (Obviously, I'm the one in the very short skirt.) For an English assignment our senior year of high school, we had to pick a character from The Canterbury Tales. One person would dress up as the character, and the other had to dress up as the modern-day counterpart to that character. Our character was the Wife of Bath, and as I recall, we had to write and perform a little poem we'd written about our character as well.

Ahhhh, high school. What a great time I had.

August 17, 2010

Notes on a Visit to the Playground

Today Charlie and I met up with a local moms group for the first time. I was a little nervous, even making note in my Facebook status about how it felt sort of like the first day of school for me. I don’t have any stay-at-home mom friends, and it felt like my big chance to make some SAHM connections.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried, as everyone was very friendly and cordial. There was a lot of getting-to-know-you talk, which was thankfully often broken up by one of us having to sprint away after a wandering child. I took Charlie on the playground, and after less than five minutes of play, another little boy (who, let’s face it, was a LOT older than Charlie) pushed and knocked Charlie over - all without provocation. I watched my kiddo land on his back and bonk his head on the floor, and tears filled my eyes as Charlie let out a big, loud scream. I quickly picked him up as the other little boy’s dad asked me if Charlie was okay.

“He’s autistic,” the boy’s father said, “He really doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

I assured him that Charlie was okay and decided we should keep our distance. Despite that, about thirty minutes later, the same kid came up to Charlie and began tickling him. And then he planted two big kisses right on Charlie’s mouth. It was .... odd. But I was thankful there was no more pushing. The one pushing episode left me with a deep feeling of helplessness, the knowledge that bad things can (and will) happen to my baby right in front of me, and there’s not a lot I can do about it, except give him hugs and let him know that it’ll be okay.

Awhile later I took Charlie to the water area of the park. We’d been there before, back when Charlie was taking a small, tentative steps but still mostly crawling. Charlie’s been walking like an old pro for the last few weeks, so I set him down in the midst of all the other kids so he could play in the water. He was easily the smallest kid there, and the water was coming from all different directions, some of it hitting Charlie right in the face and temporarily blinding him.

I watched as he decided to make his way through all the sprays of water, walking determinedly to the other side of the play area, his sweet little face scrunched up in concentration. Kids were flying past him; a few of them almost knocked him over. Water kept spraying him right in the face. I could see how overwhelming it was for him, but beyond that I noticed that he was far too determined to let anything stop him. My heart swelled with bittersweet pride as my little boy made it to the other side of the play area, where I was waiting for him.

He walked straight over to me and gave me a giant hug. And then he walked away again and got sprayed in the face. Another hug, and he was off again. And so on it went, until he decided he’d had enough and let me know it by screaming his little blonde head off. We went home soon after.

My baby is 14 months old now, and every day he lets me know that he’s growing up. Whether he’s wanting to feed himself with a spoon or walk doggedly through the water play area at a local park, he’s Mr. Independent. I am so proud of him, and with each step he takes, I can see him walking further away from me, the one who loved him first, the one who protected him until he was ready to meet the world. Watching him grow up breaks my heart with happiness on the daily.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky, only that I did, and being his mother is something I will never, ever take for granted.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 17

Day 17: A drunk photo of you

Back in January, we went out for my friend Becki's birthday. I got a little drunk and spilled ranch dressing down the leg of my pants. At one point the conversation turned to the ridiculousness of harvesting cat hair in FarmVille. Love me some weird drunk rambling and good times with my homies.

August 16, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 16

Day 16: A photo of you at the last party you went to

We attended a family reunion for our birth center, which is basically a party for present and past clients and their families, midwives, doulas, etc. I spent the evening mostly hanging out with my two favorite British midwives, Naomi and Sarah. Too bad they're headed back to the UK soon - they are loads of fun. Here we are at one of my recent prenatal visits.

There's nothing like getting to hang out with people who love my bastardization of a British accent. It's bloody awesome, I tell you.

August 15, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 15

Day 15: A photo of you and someone you love

Taken on my birthday. Charlie and I have the same messy hair. I look exhausted. But happy trumps tired.

On another note, it is the strangest thing to look into your child's face and see your own there. I do this so often with Charlie; I can't even look at my own baby pictures without searching for him.

August 14, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 14

Day 14: A photo of one of your favourite family members

My mom! Many moons ago. I'm thinking this photo was taken before my brother was born, so definitely pre-me as well. I love old school photos, and I especially love this one. My mom is super cute with her tall tall hair. A little taller (and bluer) and she could be Marge Simpson!

August 13, 2010

Health Care as a Human Right

I want to say right off the bat that this post is coming from a very emotional place, not a political one. I don't pay attention to politics much - I know, it's a bad habit - but politics depress and frustrate me. A lot. (Those of you who are politics-savvy should point me in the direction of good websites that will deliver the facts about issues. Please and thank you.)

Here's what's been going on behind the scenes here.

We have United Health Care as our insurance company (through Roy's work). $500 a month gets taken out of Roy's pay every month for this. And that's not even for top-of-the-line coverage. I think that's way excessive. So does everyone else who finds out how much we pay a month.

We are using a midwife at a birth center for the birth of our second baby. You guys know how I feel about the state of maternal health care within the medical model, so I will skip the soapbox on that and head straight for how we're paying for the birth of the baby.

The cost of all my prenatal care, the birth, and my and the baby's postpartum care is $5,500. Total. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that is an amazing price for (quite frankly) wonderful, loving care from my midwife and her student midwives. You also probably know that it costs a lot more than that to give birth in a hospital, even if you give birth vaginally.

The birth center will file insurance claims on behalf of the families that birth with them, which is great, but they still require their families to be on a payment plan for the $5,500. The hope is that when all is said and done, each family who is insured will be reimbursed at least some of the money they have paid for their birth. This is possible because the birth center bills each insurance company the maximum allowed, knowing that the insurance company will chop that amount right in half.

When I found out I was pregnant with Burt Reynolds, I called the insurance company and set up a gap exception for midwifery care. To my understanding at that point, setting up that gap exception would be the most likely way we'd see any money back after the birth of the baby. It was very easy to set it up, and I was very pleased and hopeful that the rest of dealings with insurance would be smooth sailing.

But I was wrong. Just so completely wrong. There are way too many details to share here, but let's just say that the insurance company closed my gap exception case and has denied all claims from the birth center. Actually, they aren't denying all the claims - they are applying them to my out-of-network deductible, which, if I am understanding it correctly, wasn't supposed to happen if the gap exception was in place. My out-of-network deductible is $3000. So basically, even though we will end up paying $5,500 (and already have, actually, since we paid off our balance), almost all of the allowable charges will be applied to the deductible. Once the deductible is met, we are STILL responsible for 45% of the charges. WTF.

Every time I call to find out about the gap exception, no one has a clue what I'm talking about. I get bounced around from department to department, and no one knows what to do. The insurance people that the birth center have been in contact with apparently fall off the face of the earth after their conversations, because we haven't been able to reach any of them again.

We are facing the very real possibility that we will see no money back after the birth. From an insurance company that we pay $500 to EVERY SINGLE MONTH. And let me just say that every month we are actually going in the hole because we are paying out the ass so that we can continue to have health care coverage.

It is ridiculous and sad that we have to worry about something like this while preparing to bring our second child into the world. It is a sign that our health care system is one where people constantly fall through the cracks, even white, educated, middle-class people like us. And yet there are people out there who will deny the need for health care reform. There are people who will look at Obama's solution (which isn't perfect, I know) and shout "SOCIALISM!" There are people who will say, "Well, I guess you should have gone with an OB in a hospital for this birth."

I shouldn't be penalized for having the birth that I feel is safest for myself and our baby. Period. And yet that is exactly what's happening here.

One of my Facebook friends summed my feelings up pretty well:

And if you don't want the government to step in to provide welfare and health care, then start caring for your neighbors when they're down. If there was a strong social safety net, the entire discussion of welfare and universal health care would be moot. The fact is, such a safety net doesn't exist, *especially* in America. So instead of ranting on about "socialism" (which the vast majority of Americans have no idea what it is and isn't), do something in your own community to promote such a safety net so that the government wouldn't be inclined to do it for you.


Health care is a human right. It is my right to have a safe, empowering, healthy birth, so that perhaps this time around I can avoid a cesarean and I can breastfeed and bond with my baby the way I didn't get to with Charlie. It is my right to pick what I feel is best for me so that I don't end up with PPD again and so that I'm not completely traumatized by what is a completely natural event.

Why do I have to fight so hard for these rights?

The short answer is I shouldn't. No one should. But here we are fighting on the front lines for a just health care system that will take care of all of us. You can call it "socialism" all you want.

But I call it "empathy." I call it "compassion."

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 13

Day 13: A photo of your best friend(s)

I think a lot of women would agree with me when I say that it's tough to trust other women. I've had my fair share of "best friends" in my life, and most of them have gone the way of the dodo. It's not really a term I use anymore, not for female friends anyway. "Best friend," I mean. Not "dodo." I say "dodo" as often as possible.

I consider Roy and my mom to be my absolute best friends. And I am so grateful to have some wonderful girl friends.

There is one in particular who (I realized recently) I trust completely. And that's Mandy. She's Roy's sister, and technically my sister-in-law. But I think we were separated at birth, truly. I would say that she's my sister (and sometimes I do), but that would mean that I married my brother. Ew.

I could post a lot about how I feel about her, but instead I'm going to link to the little speech I wrote and gave at Mandy's wedding and just let her know that I love her to pieces.

August 12, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 12

Day 12: A photo of you

Third trimester! 28 weeks!

Of course I had a big long post planned to discuss this milestone and how I'm feeling and all that touchy-feely stuff I like to do. But let's just say that each week seems to get more and more crazy and hectic. Last night our toilet spontaneously overflowed twice, water (complete with giant hairballs) backed up into the bathtub, and there ended up being food floating in our toilet. I even found a piece of avocado on the toilet seat. All this happened minutes before bedtime, and I expected to be up all night worrying. But instead I slept pretty damn well, the best I've slept for the first time in months. The relaxation stuff is working, and I'm stoked.

August 11, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 11

Day 11: A photo of your favourite film(s)

I suppose it's a total cliche to love this movie enough to call it a favorite, but there is absolutely nothing about it that I don't adore. What trips me out is that we're coming up on the 10th anniversary of its release.

(I saw this movie for the first time when I was recovering from the worst case of the flu I've ever had. It was in 2002 or 2003, I think.)

August 10, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 10

Day 10: A photo of you as a baby

It's an awfully dark photo, but I'm sure you can see the black hole that is my mouth. Screaming like any good baby should.

August 9, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 9

Day 9: A photo of your family

I love this picture of us taken at Charlie's first birthday party. I wish Charlie was looking at the camera, but damn, that kid's got a mind of his own. Plus I do love that he and Roy are looking at each other. I love that they are so bonded. It is truly amazing to be a part of this little family.

(Photo by Becki.)

August 8, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 8

Day 8: A photo of your favorite band/musician

None of her albums that she's put out in the last ten years have really done much for me. But before that, she did some incredible work. I've never connected to a musician as much as I have to her and her music, and for that I will be forever grateful - and I will probably always consider her a favorite.

August 7, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 7

Day 7: A photo of someone you love

This is my brother Wade, and this photo was taken at Charlie's first birthday party. It's a very Wade photo.

Wade has influenced me in a lot of ways, mostly in music and books. He's one of those intellectual types, working on his PhD and all. But like me, he knows how to get down and be silly. We've had some great times together. He's one of the only people in the world who understands what it's like to have a dad like ours. (And you are probably saying, "Duh," but I don't know how else to describe it.) We've had our ups and downs through the years, but he's my brother. So he gets a lot of free passes, and I do, too.

August 6, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 6

Day 6: A photo that makes you laugh

I've shared this one before, but this photo of Woogas in mid meow just kills me every time.

August 5, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 5

Day 5: A photo of you

Here I am at the ripe old age of 5. I was rather cute, yes?

Do you see those kittens? I remember that litter very well because they were born in my bed in the middle of the night while I was sleeping in it. I had no idea at the time why there were little rats in my bed, but once I finally convinced my mom that there was indeed something in my bed (it took awhile), she confirmed that our cat Dixie had had kittens. I really loved those kitties.

August 4, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 4

Day 4: A photo of the last place you went on holiday

I'd first like to address how awesome it is to say "on holiday." So wonderfully sophisticated and British, of which I am neither, but I do enjoy a good spot of tea while watching the telly.

I'm cheating on this one a bit since I didn't get any good panoramic shots while we were there. In April, we drove up to California's central coast and enjoyed Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz, and Big Sur. I took this photo at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Side note: That aquarium is where we got Charlie his polar bear sidekick. See?

(Love Charlie's "what the hell is going on here, I'm being attacked by something fluffy" look in this picture. It's bloody brilliant, I tell you.)

August 3, 2010

Letting the Horses Run Free

I am now three months into this current bout of insomnia. This morning, as I rolled out of bed after spending most of the night tossing and turning, I realized I had hit my limit. I can't do this anymore.

Sleeplessness has been my good buddy for all of my adult life, and I have come to believe that it is not merely a physical problem I'm dealing with; it's an emotional demon - or rather, it's a product of my emotional demons: my stress, my anxiety. I believe strongly in the mind-body connection, and I feel that if I can let go of my mind, the body will follow.

But the mind, that's the tricky part.

My mind feels like it's a force of its own. I don't feel like I have any control over where it goes or what it does. It's like a TV switching between channels constantly, an iPod searching for the perfect song. I don't know how to relax or sit still or do nothing. And when I need to most, I don't know how to focus.

Sometimes I can get myself into a good trance state. Doing something like slicing a ton of lemons or shredding paper or anything repetitive like that has allowed me to enter into a nice calmness in the past. In those moments I have found myself in a pleasant state of nothingness. I need more nothingness in my life.

Instead, I am distracted. Perpetually dazed by all the stuff that I need to do. By the noise. The incessant hum of my mind.

I know this is the reason I can't sleep. It's too fucking loud inside my head. It's loud in there because the outside world is loud but it's loud outside because it's loud inside. The only solution to all this is to unclutter. To pare down to what's most important and let the rest go. I've been working on this feverishly (when I have the energy) on a physical level, as I prepare for the arrival of the baby. I've been hoping that my mind would catch up. But instead my mind becomes fixated on what's left to be done and how much time we don't have left and how that makes me a failure and how I will never escape all this exhaustive noise.

And on the cycle continues. You see, I don't really know how to let go or be still at all. But I can clearly see that I need to learn how, and that I can learn. Just because my mind has always gone a mile a minute doesn't mean that I can't slow it down. I really believe that I can. It's just going to take practice.

My mom gave me some advice today: while relaxing, I should imagine a big fenced area full of horses. The gate opens, and one by one, the horses run out, until only emptiness remains. Tonight and every night after, I will do my prenatal yoga. I will have a warm bath along with some chamomile tea. I will do my Bradley relaxation practice. And I will look for the horses - and the emptiness beyond. And in that emptiness, I will find rest and peace. It may not be tonight or the night after or even two weeks from now. But the quietude will come and sleep will be mine.

In the meantime, if you have any relaxation tips, please share them. I need all the help I can get.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 3

Day 3: A photo that makes you happy

Yay for kitties! (Mao just cracks me up.)

Speaking of Mao, she turned 2 yesterday! Remember how tiny she was?

August 2, 2010

A Single Man

We watched this movie tonight, and it's amazing. Everything about it really spoke to me: the music, the cinematography, the dialogue, the acting. Colin Firth was perfect.

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 2

Day 2: A photo of yourself a year ago

I'm pretty sure there are no photos of myself from last summer that contain just me. So you get me and Charlie. He was probably about two months old here, and we were visiting friends. As really young babies tend to do, he fell asleep in my arms. Looking at this photo really tugs at my heart. Even though his mouth is covered in the photo, I can see its toothless squishiness so clearly in my mind. And those chub rolls on his arm make me tear up. Oh, my baby.

August 1, 2010

30 Day Photo Challenge, Day 1

Day 1: Your facebook profile photo

Love everything about this pic, which was taken on our three year wedding anniversary: that cute husband o mine, the way Charlie's stubbornly and stoically looking away from the camera, Charlie's chub rolls, and I guess even I clean up okay sometimes.

(Challenge details here.)