October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Yeah, I couldn't get a good picture of Charlie this year. The kid just doesn't stay still. I love that about him.

It was a wonderful Halloween, and after all the events (and perhaps due to this giant tummy I'm sportin'), I'm exhausted. I'm hoping to get a good Halloween post up sometime this week, but yeah. I'm lucky to blog once a week these days.

It's less than two hours before midnight, so it looks like Burt Reynolds is indeed going to be a November baby. I was kind of hoping he'd come in October, but I'm not at all surprised that he's choosing November. I'm good with November. Whatever he needs.

Happy Halloween, all! Hope you had a good one.

October 24, 2010

Happy Pregnancy Moments

You know, this pregnancy has been super stressful. Because if it's not one thing, it's another. And some days I'm not sure how I've continued to hang onto my sanity. Maybe I've learned a thing or two about letting go. Or maybe I've just got awesome and supportive people in my life.

Speaking of awesome and supportive people, a couple of weeks ago Roy, Charlie, and I headed over to my friend Becki's house for a BBQ with a few of my good friends. When we got there, we were surprised to see that it was actually a party for us (a sprinkle, if you will, because we already had a baby shower not all that long ago). Roy's family was there, too. I was completely and totally touched by the gesture. And yes, I was surprised! It was a very low-key gathering with just a few gifts. All in all, a perfect afternoon.

Here are a few pics from the day, most of them courtesy of Becki, and in no particular order, because seriously, particular order just takes too long sometimes:

Us with Roy's family

My mother-in-law gifted me a Ju-ju-be bag that I'd been coveting for months!

Charlie and Luke (Becki's son) have it out over fridge door rights.

This is probably Charlie asking to be picked up.

Opening gifts

Helping clean up after the party

Me and my boys

Me and my girls

Someone's eyeing the cupcakes!

And now, for more photo goodness! Becki, who is a budding photographer, took some maternity photos for us about a month ago. We went to our wedding venue, and while it was as lovely as it was when we got married, there were bugs flying around everywhere. And then the security guard told us they'd found a deadly rattlesnake in the area we were shooting just a few days before. Sigh. So we hightailed it to a park closer to home, but we spent a lot of time sitting in traffic while trying to get there. I am super happy with the photos we got, though. Here are a few (okay, a lot) of my favorites:

Nice, yes? I love them and am so glad to have these. Thanks, Becki!

One thing this photo shoot made me realize is that our days of low-maintenance photography are over. It's pretty hard to get a toddler to stay still for the camera. But Becki did a great job, and honestly, I do love candids (some of which I've included here).

Another thing is the comparison of my belly between the maternity pictures (much smaller) and the sprinkle (freaking huge), even though the two events took place less than a month apart. It's amazing how much growth happens in such a short amount of time.

And lastly, even with how over-the-top crazy this pregnancy has been, I know I'll look back on it with fondness. There are just too many good things about it to let the stress completely overshadow my happiness at having Burt Reynolds join our family. I treasure every kick, every middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom, every box of Kleenex I've gone through (thanks, pregnancy congestion!), every Braxton-Hicks, every sleepless night; these things will be mere memories in just a few short weeks. (Well, not the sleepless nights...) But I can't wait to meet our boy.

(Me, 38 weeks pregnant)

October 18, 2010

Due Date #4

I had my 37 week ultrasound today, and in addition to some avant-garde footage of Burt Reynolds (we saw a cross-section of his stomach!), I was granted yet another due date: November 6.

Based on my last period, I am due November 4. This is the date I tell everyone when they ask when I'm due.

Based on my first ultrasound at 9 weeks, I am due November 12. (I have heard that early ultrasounds are often the most accurate.)

Based on my 21 week ultrasound, I am due November 1.

This just goes to show that a "due date" is just an estimation. Assuming all stays low-risk, Burt Reynolds will be picking his own birthday. As nature intended. Huzzah!

According to the ultrasound, Burt Reynolds is already 7 lbs 4 oz. However, ultrasounds are notorious for being off when it comes to weight. So who the hell knows how much he weighs at this point?

Another interesting thing: we got to see a close-up of his beating heart, and it looks just like a little cartoon character jumping up and down inside an enclosed space. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever. Well, almost the cutest thing ever. Check out Burt Reynolds' nose and lips. Methinks he looks a lot like Charlie did in utero.

Anyway, I'm going to be 38 weeks on Thursday. I don't feel like I'll be going into labor anytime soon, but I know that doesn't mean anything. I'm not having internal exams done this time around, so the state of my cervix is unknown (and it's not like it really matters anyway).

Whatever happens, our bags are packed, the infant car seat is installed, we went ahead and bought a new stroller (but it was on sale!), his clothes and diapers are washed and put away, his quilt is done (well, sort of), birth plan is written, blah blah blah. There are still some last-minute things I want to get done, but for the most part, we are ready. And so we wait. (And maybe while we're waiting, Burt Reynolds will grow a mustache.)

October 12, 2010

A Letter to the Executive Director of the La Leche League

If you've been with me for awhile, then you may remember the terrible way I was treated by one of the leaders of my local La Leche League chapter just days after Charlie was born. In our Bradley class, we started discussing attending a LLL meeting, and I admitted to the instructor that I hated that organization. I proceeded to tell her the story of what happened. She was appalled. She told me I needed to write to the organization and let them know what was said. And so I took her advice and sent an email today.

(Names have been changed to protect the "innocent.")


My name is Leslie. I live in Riverside, CA. Sixteen months ago, when my husband and I brought our son home from the hospital after his birth, I contacted one of your Inland Empire La Leche League leaders for help with breastfeeding. Her name was Mary. I had first made contact with Mary at the end of my pregnancy, hoping to make it to a meeting before delivering my son.

My son's birth was very difficult. Every possible intervention was done, including a cesarean under general anesthesia. My husband and I were both very emotionally fragile because of that traumatic experience. And I was having real trouble building a nursing relationship with our son - for a variety of reasons (highly interventionist and traumatic birth, not picking up on his feeding cues early enough, his high palate, just not having enough knowledge, etc.). I figured the best thing to do was to call Mary to see if she could recommend a lactation consultant.

I wish I could say that calling Mary saved my nursing relationship with my son, but I can't. She seemed pretty intent on pushing her breastfeeding agenda and berating me for supplementing with formula. A couple examples of things she said: "You can't give your baby formula! It's like giving him medicine" and "Formula is for babies whose mothers are dead." While she did point me in the direction of a local breastfeeding clinic, her support was undercut by those hurtful and judgmental things that she said.

When we got off the phone, I was sobbing. After everything I'd been through with my son's birth, I already felt like a failure. I was doing my best to nurse my son, but the only person who was really qualified to help me was more interested in her own rhetoric rather than listening to what I was going through. I never was able to gather enough strength to make it to the breastfeeding clinic. I was too scared that I would be judged just as harshly there. In less than a month, my supply dwindled down to nothing as I pumped, wanting desperately to get as much breast milk into my son as possible. My son and I never had that nursing relationship that I really wanted. Some of it was my fault, but I also think that some of the blame lies with Mary.

You may wonder why I'm telling you this now, and it's for several reasons. The first is because I'm due with our second child in less than a month, and I have decided that I *will* be breastfeeding this baby. It would be nice to feel as though the La Leche League truly supports me in this endeavor, and it would also be wonderful to not be afraid to attend a meeting.

My second reason for writing many months after the fact is because I have realized that this sort of behavior needs to change if breastfeeding is ever to become the norm in this country again. It is so important to be a positive and gentle advocate for exclusive breastfeeding and a pillar of support for lactating women. If you have women like Mary representing your organization, then you become part of the problem.

And finally, my third reason for finally writing to you is because I now feel strong enough to stand up for myself. I feel strong enough to say to you that I was treated badly by one of your Inland Empire leaders. Mary didn't need to lecture me. Obviously, because I called her for support, I already understood the benefits of breastfeeding. I wish she would have let her militant activism go just for the sake of helping a new mother in need. It might have made all the difference - for me and my son.

I would really appreciate your taking some of what I've said into consideration, and I appreciate your listening.

Thank you,

I don't know if closure is what I feel, but I'm glad I sent this email. If there's one thing that disgusts me, it's bullying. And the bullying that some parents experience is so hurtful and unnecessary. If I can make even the tiniest difference in this culture of Mommy Wars, then I'm happy.

October 11, 2010

16 Months

October 8 marked 16 months of Charlie. It's very hard to believe that my little baby is almost a year and a half old.

Our little Chuckles continues to be the absolute joy of our life. His tantrums have diminished (for now), and he is just so happy happy happy all the time. He loves to run around and explore the world, but he still has his super cuddly moments.

Charlie reminds me so much of Roy, because he's just mellow, adaptive, and accepting. And yet he has this side to him that is just so excitable and hilarious and fun. (Not that Roy isn't these things, but you know what I mean.) And he's got so many words now; I hear a new one every day (it seems) and I am just so proud of him. Not only that, but he's picked up on things that he used to not notice, like one of us getting ready to leave the house. It's amazing, just amazing, to watch him learn and grow.

And in true Parents of the Year fashion, we bought one of these as a just-in-case item.

I can hear the collective gasp now as all of you wonder just what kind of lazy mother I must be. Well, let me tell you something. I did not understand leashes/harnesses for children until very recently. I don't think I ever said I would never use them, but I just didn't get why they were necessary. And let's face it, leashes are primarily used for animals.

Charlie is a great (and easy) kid, but he loves to explore and that is not something I want to deny him. We went to two very crowded events this last month where we had to either put him in the stroller or wear him in the Ergo, neither of which were preferable to him. At one of the events there was a moment where he got away from us and Roy had to literally dive after him. At the other event I don't think he enjoyed himself nearly as much as he could have if he had had a little space to roam. So we decided to get the leash. And I hate the way it looks, mainly because I know what other people think of parents who use these, but I will say that it is more important to me for Charlie to have some freedom while keeping him safe at the same time. So I think I'm going to have to get used to the side-eye I will be sure to get from others.

We have yet to use the leash, and I'm not sure how often we will pull it out, but with Burt Reynolds on the way, I think this could end up being a very helpful item. And honestly, it's kind of cute. But we've already started saving up for all the therapy Charlie is sure to need.

And that concludes my lame 16-month report on Charlie. I am so tired these days. I have officially crossed over to being a Haggard Pregnant Woman. I can't believe that this is our last month as a family of three and that my once-squishy little newborn is going to be a big brother.

But what a big brother he'll be.

October 7, 2010

36 Weeks

Today marks 36 weeks of pregnancy and the end of our 12-week series of Bradley classes. We've been attending these classes every week since towards the end of July, and it's interesting how much has changed.

Starting with the belly...

From this (the first week of class)

to this (today)...

(Excuse the hair. It was one of those wash-but-do-not-brush days.)

But perhaps what is more interesting is this list of birth fears that I made at the very beginning of the summer:

1) I am scared of the pain.
2) I am scared because I don't know how to relax.
3) I am scared because I don't know how to breathe.
4) I am scared that I really am broken.
5) I am scared of the past coming up again.
6) I am scared of harming my baby or myself.
7) I am scared of ending up with another horrible birth experience.
8) I am scared of another c-section and what it would mean for my health.

Since making that list, every single fear on that list has been addressed and deeply explored. (Well, a lot of exploration was already happening before the classes started, as you all well know.) But I feel pretty damn confident and excited about what's to come. I figure everything we've learned and the depth at which Charlie's birth changed us won't hold us back from having a much better experience this time around.

I have moments of fear, of course, which seem to fade as I talk it out with Roy or someone else I trust. I know the fear will never be completely gone, but I've also decided that fear doesn't have to rule this birth like it ruled Charlie's. I will go ahead and do it afraid, because that is what we do all the time in all things in life. I've put 100% of myself into mentally, emotionally, and physically preparing for this VBAC, and I surrender myself to the experience of birth.

Already I feel powerful, knowing that I've done the absolute best for myself and this baby. I haven't given in to the hype that because I'm pregnant, I get to eat whatever I want and lay around. Instead, I've fully embraced the Brewer pregnancy diet and have remained extremely active. (The whole staying active thing is pretty much a given when you have a toddler to chase.) I take naps every single day because that is what my body tells me to do. As a result, I am not swollen, my aches and pains are minimal, I am well rested, and I feel up to the challenge of giving birth.

(Granted, things aren't perfect. I do feel very pregnant. But I'm not nearly as uncomfortable as I was at this point with Charlie, when my hands and feet hurt constantly because they were so swollen, and I was waddling around and popping Tums all day. And I do very much long to feel cute again.)

Now, as far as being up to the challenge of mothering two boys under two, that's a different post entirely. It's a subject that I'm sure will be explored quite a bit in the future. For now, though, today is one of those overwhelmingly tired days, and I need sleep desperately.

October 4, 2010

Top Tune #11

I can't believe how long it's been since I've done one of these posts. But with exactly one month until my guess/due date, I figured it was time that I shared what's been repeating on my CD player.

We're on the cusp of yet another huge life change. Roy and I were talking the other day, marveling over the fact that we met and moved in together in 2005, got engaged in 2006, got married in 2007, got pregnant in 2008, had our first baby in 2009, got pregnant again in 2010, and will have our second child by the time 2011 rolls in. That's a whole lot of changes in less than six years, but honestly I wouldn't do it any differently.

I am acutely aware of how my life as it is now will never be the same again. We've managed to get into a pretty good groove with two adults and one child, and all of that is about to explode into chaos. I am both excited and terrified, and in many ways I find myself already looking back on this pre-Burt Reynolds time with a strong sense of bittersweet nostalgia, very similarly to the way that I look back on other times in my life. And yet I absolutely can't wait to meet my second son and see who he is and what he's about.

But that's exactly what I'll do. Just wait.

We Used to Wait by Arcade Fire


I used to write
I used to write letters
I used to sign my name
I used to sleep at night
Before the flashing lights settled deep in my brain
But by the time we met
The times had already changed
So I never wrote a letter
I never took my true heart
I never wrote it down
So when the lights cut out
I was left standing in the wilderness downtown

Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last

It seems strange
How we used to wait for letters to arrive
But what's stranger still
Is how something so small can keep you alive
We used to wait
We used to waste hours just walkin around
We used to wait
All those wasted lives in the wilderness downtown

Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Still moving through the pain

I'm gonna write a letter to my true love
I'm gonna sign my name
Like a patient on a table
I wanna walk again
Gonna move through the pain

Now our lives are changing fast
Hope that something pure can last

Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Sometimes it never came
Ooooo we used to wait
Still moving through the pain

We used to wait for it
Now we're screaming
Sing the chorus again

I used to wait for it
Hear my voice screaming
Sing the chorus again

Wait for it

October 2, 2010

I take a lot of photos, and I plan on taking more.

For Charlie's first year, I made it my goal to take at least one photo of him every single day. As a result, I have thousands of photos of him, and I treasure each and every one. So today when I read this blog entry, it struck a chord with me and reminded me of this post, where I briefly talked about the importance of taking photos and videos once you have a baby (and even if you don't have a baby, really).

I carry a camera with me at all times. For everyday trips out of the house, I use my point and shoot, saving my DSLR usage for when I'm at home. For special occasions, I bring along one of my DSLRs. Such was the case a couple of weeks ago, when Charlie and I went to the LA County Fair. Here are just a few photos from that day that I love:

So when Charlie grows into a sullen and sulky teenage boy, I'll be able to look at these photos and remember him as a sweet sleeping toddler with those lovely full lips and impossibly long eyelashes, that adorable sweater that he wore, the tantrum he had in the women's restroom as I was trying to change his diaper. It was chilly outside, the first little bit of cold weather of the season, and I ate a few bites of some chili cheese fries that almost immediately made my stomach churn. I was almost 34 weeks pregnant, and by the time the photo below was taken, I was nearly dead on my feet from walking around for several hours.

It was a wonderful and special day, our day at the fair. But one thing that photography has taught me is that the everyday should be documented right along with the special occasions. So for Burt Reynolds' first year, I'll be taking at least one photo of him each day, just like I did for Charlie. And to make things just a little more challenging for myself, I've decided that I will also be doing a family photo project, where at least one photo a day of our family gets taken by me or someone else, whether it's of Charlie, Roy, me, Burt Reynolds, or some combination of us. There will be some overlap, obviously, since I'll have the Burt Reynolds 365 project going on, but I'm looking forward to recording our first year as a family of four while also working on improving my less-than-stellar photographic skills.

It's a very ambitious project, being as we'll have two rugrats 17 months apart to deal with, but with this awesome blog as my inspiration, I think I'll be able to keep up with the picture taking at the very least. I really doubt that I will have the time or energy to share most of the photos here, but I'd like to. I really would. As with everything, though, we'll see what happens.