Thursday, October 23, 2014

Toddler in the House

Before having my own kids, the toddler stage puzzled me. I had no idea how to interact with those little people. Now that Grace is a toddler, I'm still puzzled and at times have no idea how to interact with my little person, but I'm leaning to love it. How could I not?

Playing in the garden.

Dirty bottom.

A conversation through the open window with our elderly neighbor.

Helping Daddy bring in the trash barrels.

See that face? She admires him so much.

Playing with glow sticks in the bathtub.

Naked Jedi running naked through the hallway, light saber in hand.

Wearing Daddy's shoes on her arms.

Wearing her sunglasses(ish).

Wearing her socks on her hands.

And she'll still sometimes snuggle like a baby.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cora's Birth

Cora was born on September 8th at 10:42 A.M. She was 19.5 inches long and weighed just 6 lbs 2 oz. Here is the story of her birth.

A little background: Grace came two weeks early and in a little over two hours. Since second babies tend to come even faster, we had people on call to rush over at a moment's notice to babysit Grace so we could get to the hospital. My main goal was to not give birth on our kitchen floor. I also decided to go for a natural childbirth again, though after experiencing the incredible pain of delivering Grace, I was totally open to getting the epidural if I needed it.

The night before Cora was born, almost two weeks before her due date, I felt some contractions, but fell asleep. In the middle of the night, more painful contractions woke me up. They were pretty regular, so we decided to play it safe, had my friend Sarah come over, and we went to the hospital. They began monitoring me, the contractions slowed down, and an internal check told me that I was still just 1 cm dilated as I had been for over a week. We went home, sent Sarah home, and went back to sleep.

At 6:45 I woke up to painful contractions again, so we went to the hospital again around 8:30. My friend Claire met us there to take Grace. I was feeling very discouraged because my contractions were very painful, but I figured I was probably still barely progressing. I was so relieved to find out I was 8cm dilated. I knew I could do it without the epidural again.

I spent the next hour in active labor. Cora was head down, but facing my stomach instead of my spine, so all of the pain was in my back. With every contraction, Michael pressed his full weight and strength into my lower back as I whimpered and moaned. He later told me he was shaking from the exertion!

A little before 10:30, my body started pushing, and my nurse wheeled me into the delivery room. That's when the real battle began. I lay on my left side with Michael holding my right leg. I fought the urge to push with all my might (an impossible task) so that my body could slowly stretch rather than tear. After about fifteen minutes of pushing, Michael excitedly told me he could see her head and that it was full of black hair. My doctor broke my water (how was it intact so long?!) and Cora's head and body slid out with just one push. She lay quiet for a few moments and then started wailing - the most beautiful and relieving sound! Within a few minutes, they placed my prize on my chest for those wonderful first snuggles.

Many mothers talk about being bowled over by maternal love the moment they see their children born. I didn't experience that with either birth. For me, my maternal love took a backseat and instead, I was flooded with relief to be done and wonder, amazement, and awe that that tiny, crying girl was Cora and that she was mine.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Things I Learned in September

Pineapple skin and mango skin are edible. According to this article. I also now feel validated in my consumption of kiwi skins. Yum!

You can buy rambutan in California, but a single fruit costs as much as an entire kilo in Thailand. I wonder, can you eat these hairy, prickly skins?

When strangers share their opinion about how easy or hard a stage of parenting was, to not take their opinions too seriously. Over the summer, when strangers at the park and at grocery stores saw how pregnant I was and how young Grace was, several comments ran something like this: "18 months apart?! Poor thing, you will not sleep or have a life." I forgot that every kid and combo of kids is different, so you can't take these opinions too seriously. Right now, we're doing really well. I'm sure we'll hit other stages in this raising small children gig that other parents found easy but we will find very difficult. The point is to not project others' experiences onto your own kids.

Four years. That's how long it takes me to build community. Four years ago, we made a forty mile move - just far enough to have to start all over. I felt lonely for the first couple of years and it was hard. Cora's birth opened my eyes to how many friends we've made over the last years. So many people have helped in so many ways. I certainly don't feel lonely anymore!

If you want to suck the joy out of caring for a newborn, be a control freak. I have a type-A personality. With Grace, it took me a couple of months to really learn to let go. With Cora's arrival, I've found myself slipping back into control freak mode. This past week, I have stopped trying to plan ahead and I am embracing the unpredictability of caring for a newborn. It's good for my soul.

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