Thursday, December 23, 2010

Furrow, Wrinkle, and Raise

I'm obsessed with Malachi's eyebrows lately. They have grow in thicker in the last couple of weeks, and they add such character to his face! Those eyebrows accentuate the Joshua in him and I love it.

Pics to come when I start taking them again. We lost our computer cable for a while, so I couldn't transfer photos and I stopped taking them. Bad idea. I don't really have much of anything for the last two months.




Monday, December 13, 2010

A Spare Moment

How I want to blog...so much to say, so little time. I only have a couple minutes now, but maybe I can start something.

Malachi is changing so much.

I never fully grasped that being with your child twenty-four hours a day means you notice everything. Their eyebrows growing. A new little mark on their skin. A couple ounces of pudge that weren't there last week. The tiniest development in a fine motor skill. A new sound. They are mundane observations that somehow mean the world to a mommy.

Malachi splashes in the bathtub now. He grunts to get my attention. He army crawls. He sits up by himself. He is quite mobile. Yesterday at church he was scooting all over the parkay floors. He felt unstoppable, I think. He is eating all kinds of things. Fruit, veggies, yogurt. We are starting meat this week.

We are still having supply issues. I had a bit of a meltdown last week realizing that this may just be how things how things are, and resigning myself to formula supplements, because my donor breastmilk sources won't last forever. And that turned out to be just the fuel I needed to find more sources. It looks like now we have enough milk to last at least the next month with more on the way. And several moms have offered to continue pumping just for us, so we should have a regular supply building up. I am so incredibly thankful for that.

I am still drinking water, eating oats, taking herbs, and pumping when I can. Malachi continues to nurse every 1-2 hours, so it's really hard to manage pumping in the midst of that. So today, I took a big step. I ordered a drug called Domperidone to increase my supply. It's perfectly safe, and prescribed for some things in the U.S., but hard to get for increasing breast milk. So I ordered it from New Zealand. I'm such a criminal. I am quite certain it will increase my supply, and may allow us to stop supplementing altogether. I might not even have to take it that long.

So many other things I want to say. But I need to make the most of Malachi's nap time. Off to clean the kitchen!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silence

I have posts I want to write, but not the opportunity at the moment.

You all know how it is. When Malachi is asleep, I have to do homemaker stuff. If he's asleep in my arms, I can use the computer, but not do much typing. I can use my laptop while he is sleeping next to me before I go to sleep at night, but alas, it is out of commission at the moment. That's why it's been almost three weeks since my last post. That, and health issues. But we are over those, and the computer should be fixed soon.

So, you will hopefully hear from me again before too long. But for now, I've got to mop up some spilled juice while Malachi sleeps.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catching Up

Joshua is with a friend right now and took Malachi with him. Ahhhh. I love my son. AND it is nice to have a break sometimes.

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I've posted. I'm such a bad blogger lately! We've had so much going on the last month, between my wisdom teeth, supply issues and supplement, and vacation to Arkansas. I used to blog while I was laying with Malachi feeding him before a nap. But he's gotten bigger, and it's harder to juggle the computer and a squirmy baby! I'd like to have content other than updates on Life and Malachi, but it seems that's all I can manage these days.

Malachi is five months plus one week and growing like crazy. We are still supplementing him with donated breast milk. I am still working on my supply, but I am resigned to continue that until he is eating a lot of solids if need be.

Speaking of solids, we started a few days ago! I was all about waiting until AT LEAST six months to start him. But the supply issues we've had and the interest he's showing wore me down. I still feel a little bad about it (silly, I know).

I started a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet for a while. I had been having some intestinal discomfort a lot lately, and I felt like I needed a good cleaning out. The first week I was super-strict with it. This week, I am introducing low-gluten (if its freshly milled whole grain) and raw dairy here and there. I am feeling much better. I was wary about doing a detox while nursing, so this isn't what I would consider a detox. I didn't want Malachi to receive toxins that my body is purging. I've made sure to eat plenty of calories and plenty of good fats. I'm mainly eating a lot of veggies, beans, non-gluten grains, and some meat here and there. There may be some detox that takes place, but a well-balanced healthy diet can only improve my milk, so I don't have much concern. Malachi has responded well so far.

Lucky me, I am going to Bible study by myself this evening. Well, I was planning on it until I wrote that, anyway. Do I really want to leave my baby while I go off to Bible study? Hmmm. Yes. Gotta go so I can catch a shower before I need to leave.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig

We are adjusting to life at home again after vacation. It has been a frustrating week. Our vacation rhythm is way different that our home rhythm. So this week Malachi has been totally off, not being ready for sleep at night until 12 or 1 in the morning, not napping well. Uhhh. He actually will go to sleep at bedtime, but he treats it more like a short evening nap, waking up 30 minutes later with sweet smiles. Today he slept almost the whole day, only getting up twice for an hour at a time. I had to stay with him because every 20-30 minutes he kept waking with tears and needed to be nursed back to sleep. Then he was up the entire evening until almost midnight. Past my bedtime. But each night, it is getting a little earlier so within a few days we should be back to normal.

In addition, we are still dealing with nursing issues. They had all but disappeared by the end of our vacation. I was only giving Malachi a couple of extra ounces before bed, not because he was hungry, but for the calories. So I was all ready to take a break from the supplements for several days to see how how he would gaining with just my milk. But we got home and I got lazy and didn't follow my daily regimen (oatmeal, lots of water, Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle) to a T. So we have been having to add the other supplements back in. Yuck. BUT, at least he's gaining well. As of Monday morning, he had gained 1 lb, 2 oz since we started supplementing. An ounce a day! Yay!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From Beautiful Arkansas

We are in Arkansas for a few days visiting Joshua's family and have very limited Internet access. I am at McDonald's right now so that I can check in.

Malach is doing great. We are still supplementing with donor milk, but my milk supply is increasing, and Malachi is gaining admirably. In fact, he has gained about a pound in the last two weeks! He is chubbing up nicely. If this continues, we are going to be off the supplements in no time. By the way, if anyone is interested, I am using a homemade SNS, which is working great. I love that he is still at the breast, and that I don't have to spend as much time pumping.

I was regretting the timing of this trip because of these breastfeeding issues, thinking that it would be hard to make sure I keep my galactagogue diet, supplements, and feeding Malachi on demand and supplements a priority while we are here. The opposite has turned out to be true. I didn't think about the fact that we are on vacation! That means no cleaning, no cooking or laundry, no appointments we have to rush off to while Malachi is kept waiting for food! I have done little except hold Malachi and feed him. It's been great for my milk supply, and I'm sure he's gaining at least as quickly as he was at home.

I wish I had thought to bring our camera so I could post a photo or two of our time here. Malachi is enjoying his cousins (12 out of 17 of them!) quite a bit, especially his cousin Sean who is about the same age. Unfortunately, all of those snotty noses resulted in Malachi's first cold. I'm so disappointed! I really thought the fact that he is breastfed would keep him from getting sick for a lot longer than this! But it's really quite minor, possibly because of his superfood. You should hear is cute little raspy voice though. It is quite adorable, and I figure since he feels okay, I might as well enjoy how cute it sounds.

We are headed to the Buffalo River (where we got married) with the fam today. Joshua will be here to pick me up in a few minutes, so I'd better wrap this up, but I can't close without saying again: Thank you! For your prayers and support and encouragement and time and MILK to keep Malachi an exclusively breastfed baby. It is so important, and I know it is only because of the help of the breastfeeding mommies around me that we were able to continue on this path. It is truly a testament to the power of community.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where We've Been

This is officially my fourth attempt at this post. Sorry I've been so silent lately, but we have been dealing with some things and it's taken a lot of my time and mental energy. And I haven't known what to say about it. I could just ignore it, but it's what on my mind. I don't know what else to write about.

The long and short of it is, Malachi is not gaining the weight he should due to breastfeeding issues. We are working to rebuild my supply. Our breastfeeding relationship is in jeopardy. It is hard. He is being fed now not only by my milk, but by the milk of other mamas in Roanoke who have generously donated their milk for Malachi. We are so grateful.

I will probably share more details in the days ahead. But at the moment, we are laying low for a few days to make sure that he eats like crazy and I pump like crazy, take extra good care of myself, and eat lots of lactogenics.

Be thinking of us, and if you are the praying sort, we would love some of those as well.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seven Random Things

Not feeling inspired tonight, just a little bored after laying around all day after oral surgery. So, you get to listen to my ramblings.

1) I need to start a blog idea notebook. Today on the way to the oral surgeon, I had a post idea I was really excited about. Apparently the anesthesia knocked it out of my head because now I can't remember it! Annoying, especially because I haven't been very inspired the last few days. Maybe I'll think of it again.

2) My oral surgeon was drug-happy. In addition to the pain meds and antibiotic, he gave me valium (which I didn't take), he gave me laughing gas, an IV anesthetic, and enough local that it didn't completely wear off until 12 hrs later.

3) I've been a little bent of out shape the last few days waiting for this oral surgery. My concern wasn't the actual procedure--I couldn't wait for that to be over with. My fear was the recovery. I had a bad recovery from a wisdom tooth extraction about 10 yrs ago. And with a little nursling to care for, I really didn't want that to happen again. Especially since he's been especially needy because...

4) Malachi is having a growth spurt. Yay! His weight gain has been a little slow, though the pros aren't concerned about it. Funny--the day after I decided to try feeding him more frequently, he decided he wanted to eat more frequently anyway. So he's been eating every 1.5 hrs or so, even at night. Normally the frequent feedings can be somewhat frustrating, but I have been nothing but happy about it this time around. I'd be glad to see him gain a couple of pounds, but I'm not going to worry about it.

6. As it turns out, my recovery thus far has been so easy! It must be because of my friends who have prayed, knowing my concerns and how important it was for me to heal quickly. Thanks, everybody! The pain isn't that bad, and I even ate (soft) solids for dinner tonight. I've had enough energy to run an errand (Joshua drove), fold some laundry, and...

7. I have a crockpot of oatmeal on so it will be ready in the morning. Looking forward to having a hot breakfast waiting for me when I wake up in a few hours. I've mixed in craisins, pecans, apples, and cinnamon. I'll let you know if the recipe is good.

It's long past my bedtime, so I will say goodnight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Bead Giveaway Winner

It's time to announce the winner of my red bead giveaway: my childhood friend Jessica, also known as Dumpysunshine in the comments section. Jessica, I'll be in touch!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway to make it a great success. I am looking forward to doing more giveaways in the future.

What Makes Me Laugh About My Husband

My friend E does a weekly blog carnival called Midweek Laughs. This week I decided to participate.
The topic is: What makes me laugh about my husband.

Lots of things make me laugh about my husband, but the thing that always makes me laugh, even though he does it all. the. time. is the Sleeping Joshua. It goes like this: I enter a room, and Joshua plays like he's sleeping, letting hid head droop to the side and his tongue loll out of his mouth. He may be sitting at the computer. He may be standing at the sink. It doesn't matter if it makes no sense at all for him to be sleeping in that situation, he does the Sleeping Joshua. And it cracks me up. Wish I had a picture of this. [Edit: I took a picture of this (though its not a great one) so you could really see what I'm talking about]


Another thing that cracks me up about my husband is a little thing I like to call Rico Suave. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:

Ignore me in this photo. I was 37 weeks pregnant and felt like Shamu. Joshua however, is putting on his fake sexy face. Which I find hilarious.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unbelievable Peanut Butter Topping

I just made some peanut butter topping that was so good, I wanted to lick the pan. It's incredibly easy.

1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Peanut Butter

Melt sugar into water over high heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Allow to boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir until melted and smooth. I used crunchy peanut butter, but creamy would be good too.

We served this over brownies and ice cream. Cutting the water in half makes it thicker, and I would like to try swirling it into brownies. I have a feeling I'm going to be sorry I discovered this. It's too delicious and easy. Bad combination. Or good. Depends on your perspective.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hospitality

Windy Poplars

I can't tell you how many comments people have made to us that they are amazed at how social we are despite having a newborn. We have actually become more social now that we have Malachi. Seems weird I know, but it works for us. I am a very social person, but as an introvert, I need down time. When I worked full time, I had a greater need for down time on the evenings and weekends. Now, I get down time during the day. So evenings and weekends are fair game. We know the way we spend time with people will change as our family grows, but we are doing what works for us right now.

People have used the word hospitable a lot with us. I appreciate that, but it feels a little too virtuous for me, like we are doing it because we should. The truth is, we just like to hang out. We like people, and we want friends. And I'll be even more honest, it has more to do with Joshua than me.

Let me tell you a story about Joshua. When he was in high school, he felt left out. Much like a lot of us did, I imagine. And in his adult life he has felt left out at times, and so have I. There have been plenty of times we went to a new church and no one said hello, or went to a party and were given the cold shoulder. Whereas many people would withdraw at that point, Joshua has decided that as much as he can help it, he doesn't want other people to feel that way. So he goes out of his way to make people feel included. He invites people to stuff like it's his job. Seriously. If he sees someone new at church or in the group, I can guarantee he will try to talk to them, and likely, get their number and invite them to something that week, if not that very day.

That is a gift that I admire and respect about my husband. I won't say that I don't enjoy all of these gatherings, but to a great extent I am just along for the ride. I get to be the Hostess with the Mostest. It's a great gift, because if I was left to my own devices, I would be home by myself a lot more, often feeling sorry for myself because I don't have any friends. We have honestly both felt that way at times. Our solution was to do something about it.

I think if they are honest, most people will tell you they are lonely, wish they had more friends, or don't feel like they connect with people. It doesn't have to be that way. I want to share with you a few things we have learned as we have tried to be more intentional about making friends.

1. Take a risk. Tell someone you want to hang out with them, and schedule it then and there. We all know how easy it is to keep saying, over and over, "we'll get together soon!" And it never happens. So bite the bullet, and set a date.

2. Have people over. Especially when you have kids, going out can be a hassle, and expensive. So, have people over. A lot. Do it potluck style, so it doesn't rest on you to make the food. Or, if you are short on time, invite people over for coffee, or dessert. It doesn't have to cost a lot to hang out with people.

3. Invite people even if they never come. Have you ever felt left out because you weren't invited? We have. A lot. It has made us realize that people want to be invited.

4. Do what works for you. Joshua prefers large groups. He never wants to leave anyone out. I tend to feel lost in a big group, and prefer small groups. I can get to know people better that way. So we do both. Sunday afternoons are reserved for getting to know a couple or family from church. Everything else if fair game for Joshua to invite the world over.

5. Plan a regular event that makes it easy. We often do a fire in the backyard. Sometimes we have S'mores, sometimes not. But it is an easy thing because I don't have to clean up or plan for a certain number, and I can leave to care for Malachi if I need to. Someone else I know does "Front Porch Fridays" regularly, which is a similar concept that I love. Wish we had a comfy porch.

6. Invite people into your life. Our goal is not entertainment. It is community. We want people to enjoy themselves, but if they haven't connected with anyone, it's a waste of time. We invite people into our lives by having an open home. We love people stopping by, joining us for a quick dinner, or just hanging out while we do what we do. It's fun to have company while I'm doing the laundry or taking care of Malachi. Just hang out, or better yet, help me! Or you can bring along your bills, thank you notes or whatever you need to do and do it with company!

7. It's not just about having friends. You can hang out with people all day, but if you never let people see the real you, you will feel as lonely as ever when the party is over. I have found that when I am open with people, they are open with me. Don't wait for the other person to be vulnerable. Do it yourself. You will be glad you did. This is something I am constantly working on because it's hard for me.

8. Don't get bent out of shape if people say no. It used to make us feel bad when we planned an event and no one showed up. We saw it like a popularity contest and we were not the cool kids. Eventually we realized that wasn't true. All that mindset did was make us feel bad about ourselves and hold a grudge against our friends. People are busy. And it takes time to build relationships. If they can't come, oh well. Maybe it will work out next time.

9. Don't worry about a messy house. For years, I didn't want to have people over because the house was too messy. My husband, the ultimate social butterfly, really helps me with this. I remember the first time we hosted people together. It was a couple of months before we were married, and though it was Joshua's house, I was the significant other who kept things together. I will never forget the heated words we exchanged 5 minutes before people arrived when I tried to make Joshua iron the table cloth. I have learned to loosen up since then, mostly due to my husband's constant reminders that hospitality is important enough that if it can't be done with a clean house, it needs to be done with a messy house.

I would love to have a well-appointed home someday, with land and gardens, plenty of space to cram people who come to visit, a haven for the weary, a place to connect spiritually, enjoy and create beauty, to be loved on, laugh, cry and connect with friends new and old, to eat amazing food that we grew ourselves, or got from other local sources, and receive other good gifts that we have to share. In my dream, this house is always clean and decorated with the sights and smells of the season. It's a treat for people to come because the setting is ideal (think winding paths with willow trees and seasonal flowers, mountain streams and a pond for fishing and swimming) and the toys are awesome (think ATV's and big screens with surround sound). Yeah. It's never gonna happen.

I do have dreams, but what we have is probably better for now because it's forcing me to be real with people. It doesn't leave the impression that only people with spotless homes decorated just so, with special dishes and platters for company, can invite people into their lives. Those things are great, but people don't come to your home for the fresh bouquet on your shiny counter. They come because of you. So hopefully, if ever we do have the dream home, these things we are learning will transfer. I wouldn't mind having the best of both: real and ideal. That's what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Red Bead Tales: My Very First Giveaway!

As I mentioned earlier today, I am celebrating the change of seasons and some changes for this blog by hosting my first ever giveaway!

I will be honest. I have had that post written for a week now. But I am a very indecisive person, and I just couldn't figure out what to give away. I always overthink these things. And by some flash of inspiration, it came to me yesterday.

Red Beads.

"Red beads?" you say. "What's so special about red beads?" Well, my friend. These aren't just any red beads. These are red beads with a story. Two stories, really. Lets call them The Red Bead Tales.


Story One: The Tale of a Necklace Shared

It started on New Year's Eve, 2009. I was at Ingrid's house, affectionately called The Nunnery by friends. There was dancing and singing and every kind of merry-making. And Ingrid was wearing red beads. I complimented her on them, and she said, "Red beads go with everything, don't they?" Well that was an interesting though. Actually, I'd never considered it. Do they?

I gave that simple sentence an unwarranted amount of thought over the next couple of months. I determined that yes, red beads do go with everything, and I would like some very much.

Enter June. I was newly unpregnant. At the grocery store with my fresh-from-the-womb bundle. And who did I run into but Ingrid. And Rebecca, who was wearing red beads. "I love your beads!" I told her. "Red beads go with everything, don't they?" It came out before I realized I was quoting Ingrid from several months ago. I really believed it, though. I was still without my own red beads, and I decided then and there that I was going to fix that.

"Wait," Rebecca said. I'll take care of it."

The next day Rebecca came over to hang out with Malachi and I. She handed me a package that contained, of course, the Red Beads. The same beads that she and Ingrid wore. I was so excited! "Where did you get these?"

"Let me tell you about these beads," she said.

Story Two: The Tale of an African Treasure

This is a very special string of glass beads that was purchased from The Binaba Shop, a fair trade non-profit shop here in Roanoke. They are antique French beads that were made in Venice 300 years ago and used throughout Africa for trade and commerce.

I thought that was very cool, so when I had some gifts to buy a couple of weeks later, you know what I did. There are now two midwives and a doula that are wearing these beads as well.

Atieno Asiyo, the store's fascinating and beautiful buyer and manager, explained to me that many beads were created for this purpose between the 15th and 20th centuries. Evidently beads were an important part of many world cultures, and they are now collected and made into jewelry.

Since they are beautiful artwork as well as former currency, many beads have been replicated for modern jewelry. I'm sure you would recognize some of the designs. By the way, if you are local to Roanoke, please stop into The Binaba Shop downtown across from Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea. It is an awesome store with beautiful art, jewelry, home furnishings, and natural bath & body products.

The best part: everything in the shop is fairly traded and the proceeds build hospitals and provide micro-loans in Africa. If you are interested in learning more about The Binaba Shop and Atieno Asiyo, you can read "The Education of a Kenyan Radical" (pg. 36-39) online in September's Valley Business Front. There is also an interview with Atieno here.

So those are the stories of the Red Beads. I wear mine all the time. Each time, I am reminded of the sweet women who gave me or received from me the same necklace. I have discovered, of course, that there are the occasional things you can't wear with red beds. But I can wear them more often than not, I tell you. One lucky person is going to have the same great pleasure.

So, on to the details...

You can enter up to five times. Please leave a separate comment on this blog post for each entry so you will be counted in the random number generator. Leave a way for me to get in touch with you for each entry. Deadline for entries is Wednesday, September 29, 9am. I will try to announce the winner later that day. Here are the ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post stating what you are looking forward to about Fall. (required)
2. Blog about this giveaway with a link to my blog, and post a link in your comment.
3. Post a Facebook status update about this giveaway with a link to this post.
4. Become a follower of this blog (see column on the right side), or let me know that you are already are.
5. "Like" Binaba shop on Facebook (Binaba Shop Facebook page).

Let the fun begin!

A Change is in the Air

I love Fall. With every change of the seasons I think that each one is my favorite, but with Fall, I really mean it. Really. And Autumn in the Blue Ridge is a sight to behold. The elevation of the mountains adds amazing depth to the foliage. The crisp air makes me feel alive after the sweltering heat of summer.

I love wearing sweaters, drinking hot beverages, making soup and apple sauce and pumpkin butter. This is also the season where I start getting ambitious. Something in my brain around the start of school tells me it's time to get serious about some things. Making Christmas gifts, dreaming about fruitcake that should be started soon (not that I've ever made it, but I dream about it), and resolutions of all sorts.

Along those lines, you may notice a change in my posts in the coming weeks. I've never talked about my intentions with this blog. Clearly, it was started with Malachi in mind. But there is a reason we didn't call this place, "Baby Grasty" or "Waiting for Baby". Though it has been thus far, I didn't want to just focus on our new arrival. There is a lot happening in our lives on many fronts. I want this to be a place to share those things, whether they are our children's milestones (or yardstones, as the case may be--Malachi found his feet today!) or working through parts of my own journey.

I love the name of our blog. There are so many facets to it, from the little Grasty that started growing inside me last September, to the deeper growth of the souls of each of us, babies and kids and mommy and daddy.

I want a place to document and celebrate our family life, but also to be a place where growth happens, through writing and figuring out life, through expressing opinions and exploring ideas. This is a place where we share life as we see it right now. We haven't always seen it that way. And we probably will see it differently in the future. That's why it's growth. Over time, I hope this blog will be a reference point for our lives as we become the Grasty's we are meant to be.

If you asked me today how to grow a Grasty, I would have some good ideas, but they are untried (by me, anyway). I like to think that in twenty years, if this blog were made into a real live paper and ink book, if I were to come across it on my shelf, I would find out how to grow a Grasty. And perhaps it could help others to know how to raise their little Smiths and Thomases and Browns. And how not to grow them too, I imagine.

That's a lot of mumb0 jumbo about a name. But I am excited. I feel like this is a Big Reveal in a sense. An unveiling of my true intentions of what I hope this place will be.

To celebrate the change of the blog, and the changing of seasons, I am having my very first giveaway! I am very excited about this, and I hope you will be too! The giveaway will be announced later today, and I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This is Life

Joshua and I have this funny line we say to Malachi when we are sharing something with him that we like. We think it's funny, anyway. It goes like this: we are sitting around the campfire, eating S'mores, playing cards, talking, whatever we do around a campfire. And one of us will say, "This is Camping, Malachi!" This little joke seems to transfer easily to whatever we are doing at the moment, and it makes me laugh and warms me every time. It reminds me of ET or something, explaining modern life to someone from far far away. Except the creature we are explaining it to is a new little Earthling. As if at three months old, he could put another notch in his belt and say, "Camping. Got it."

Maybe it's just me, but it makes me laugh every time. It warms me too, because really, we are showing him what life is all about. Every moment, he's absorbing so much more than we know. It is such a joy to share our life with him, even though he doesn't "get it" yet. It is already forming him and making him who he is. We love sharing with him the things we love about life.

Joshua and I both love the Fall. Every year we look forward to the leaves changing, anticipation of the holidays, warm drinks and hearty winter food. This year is no different, except that we have a new Love to share it with. We are bursting with anticipation at the thought of going to the Pumpkin Patch with Malachi dressed in his Fall-hued corduroys and knits; playing Halloween dress-up; giving specially chosen gifts to our beloved son who won't even know the difference. How much more fun will it be when when he really starts to get it?

Some of the loves we have shared with Malachi:

Camping
The Beach
A Road Trip
Snuggling
A Picnic
The Sunset
The Wind
Kisses

And the list keeps growing...

Last night, as we shared Dancing with Malachi, tears sprung to my eyes at the thought that we are sharing Life with him. He is learning about the sweetness of life from us. And we are learning it from him. I snuggled him close, and he snuggled back.

This is Love, Malachi. This is Life.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte (without the Pumpkin)

My husband loves Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but have you been to Starbucks lately?! So expensive. And not that good for you! I can make almost anything from scratch as long as I have a recipe to guide me. So I found a recipe, and made it. Sans pumpkin, though, since they don't seem to sell pumpkin in September. So it's really a vanilla latte. I modified it somewhat, and here's what I ended up with:

2 cups milk
1 cup strong coffee
1/4 cup Sucanat (or white sugar)
2 Tbsp vanilla (not a typo)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 nutmeg
pinch of ginger

It's pretty yummy! It is actually an expensive drink to make at home because Each 10 oz serving has .60 cents worth of real vanilla. But, compared to Starbucks, that's nothing! Some people to to Starbucks for the convenience, but I do it for the taste. It tastes even better if I save money!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daddy and Malachi

It was awesome to spend three whole days with Joshua over Labor Day. He was able to have some great times with Malachi. I even think that Malachi grew a bit in his attachment to his dad. It seems like he is now more interested in Joshua, and more willing to be soothed by him, and really enjoys his time with Daddy. It's amazing to see their relationship developing.

Joshua already has lots of fun games that he plays with Malachi. Even though Malachi doesn't get them now, he will in the future. He will remember all the silly stuff he did with his dad. I am looking forward to seeing it all unfold.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cloth Diapering

I read about cloth diapering long before we had kids, and decided that I wanted to do it. It seems intimidating at first, but in retrospect, I'm not sure why. Really, it's easy. And I'm no supermom. I'm lucky if I get the laundry washed most weeks, let alone folded. The biggest thing for me was it seemed like such a learning curve to figure out what kind of diapers to buy. I put it off for months because it seemed so overwhelming with all the options out there these days! I was concerned that I would buy something that didn't work for us, and I didn't have the money to waste. But really, it's not that big of a deal.

We ended up finding an online merchant who lives locally here in Roanoke, and I was able to go and see what all the different diapers are like. I also have a cousin who is loaning me her stash because she is unable to use cloth right now. Both of those things helped me get a feel for what kind of diapers I finally wanted to settle on. I also made the decision to use cloth wipes. I figure if we are going to do it, we might as well really do it.

I had people say to me, "Just be prepared that it might not work for you. It might be too much of a hassle." From the beginning, Joshua and I decided that cloth was our only option. We just don't want to spend the money on disposables. Environmental concerns are important to us as well. So perhaps it was our resolve from the very beginning that makes it work for us. It just isn't an option to quit. We aren't doing it for convenience. But even if we were, its easy. Really. If you are hesitant to try it because it seems a little daunting, let me encourage you. It is so simple. The only challenge is remembering to put a load in the washer. Even prepping the diapers to be worn is no big deal. About half the time I "fold" the diapers and put them in a basket ready to be used. The other half, they stay in the laundry basket and I stuff them one at a time as they are being used. Either way is easy, but if I can manage to get the basket folded, it's preferable.

Someone gave me some great advice when Malachi was just a couple of weeks old and still wearing disposables. She said to ease into it. Transition to cloth at home during the day, then add in nights, and finally, outings. I decided to do that because it sounded like a great way to ease into it. But I found that for me, it was easier to just jump in and do it. I am a creature of habit, so its much easier for me to just get into a routine and do the same thing every time than to constantly be switching between two systems. We started using cloth when Malachi was one month old, and other than the first few days, we've done cloth almost exclusively, even when we go out.

So we decided that for our big Labor Day trip, we were going to do cloth the whole time. And it was easy. (Are you starting to see a theme here?) We had to take all of our diapers, and then cart the dirty ones home, but since we have a truck, we had plenty of room.
Malachi camping in his BumGenius One Size

My favorite part of CD'ing is actually the cloth wipes. They are so thick that I never have to use more than one, even for the worst diapers. And I make a simple wipe solution that smells and feels great on the skin. I also love how cute he looks in them. The diapers are so cute and colorful that its sort of like he's wearing shorts.

Our system is a dry bucket with a liner and a lid that goes in the bathroom. All the diapers go in there when they are soiled. I pull out the inserts at that time, and the wipes go in the bucket too. Once it's full / most of the diapers are used I dump the whole thing in the wash. How easy is that? Most of our diapers are used Bumgenius 3.0. I love them. Love them. I got two brand new as a shower gift, and the remainder were bought on diaperswapper.com. The rest are a random assortment from my cousins stash that include Fuzzibunz, Thirsties, and an assortment of prefolds and covers. In all we have twenty-four diapers, and that has always been enough for 2-3 days, even when Malachi was only a month old. After the wash they are stuffed and put in a basket to be used, or if I am short on time, they just stay in the laundry basket and are stuffed one at a time as they are used.

So if you are on the fence, I recommend that you go ahead and try it! Find a friend who uses cloth and have her give you a little lesson. Or find a local shop where you can see the options firsthand. Also, don't let your baby's age stop you. Whether they are a little baby or a big baby, it's never too late to start using cloth. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bend in the Road

Malachi was officially three months old on September 2nd! The time has gone by so quickly, and yet sometimes it felt like it would take forever to get past the newborn stage. And it has happened, just like you all said it would. It was such a noticeable change that I actually counted which day of life it was for him. Eighty-four. That was the first day he let me sit still with him for any amount of time while awake and not nursing. And it has continued every day since. Now he will hang out in the car seat, enjoy a ride in the stroller, and an occasional nap by himself. It has changed my life! It's not that the change is so dramatic, but it is enough to allow me to keep my sanity, helped my attitude, and given me energy and motivation to get a little more done around the house.

He is growing so fast. We've seen some other fun developmental changes the last couple of weeks as well. He loves to look at "the baby" in the mirror! So cute! He gets all smiley like he wants to make friends. Yesterday he rolled from back to tummy for the first time, and since then, he is rolling all over the place! He loves to be naked, and if I lay him on his play mat naked, he will be happy for a lot longer than if he has clothes on. He works and works to grab objects, and he is just starting to get it. He has such a cute look of concentration on his face when he is trying to coordinate himself to reach for something. Most of the time though, he just waves his arms around to hit the toys above his head.

The biggest news though, is that he laughs now! The first time we heard that precious giggle, I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. It is just amazing to see his personality coming alive, day by day. He smiles all the time now, but I still am not used to that. The laughing just put me over the top. I can't take all his cuteness. I'm going to explode. He is such a little person.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Benadryl

In theory I'm not a big fan of medicine for run-of-the-mill aches and pains. But when you watch my every day behavior, you may not notice. Even though I willingly went through an all natural labor, including eight hours in transition dilated to nine, I HATE pain. I talk a big talk about home remedies when I'm feeling good, but once the pain starts, its a different story. Whatever works to get rid of it, I'm all about. I do avoid antibiotics at all costs, but after a couple days of echinacea, garlic, or other herbal remedies, I yield to my discomfort and take whatever over-the-counter drugs necessary to avoid the effects of my cold, flu, or whatever. Actually, that's part of the reason homebirth was so appealing to me. I didn't have the choice of backing out. At the hospital, I probably would have gotten an epidural pretty fast because my values go out the window when I'm in pain.

So it's no surprise that when my baby boy cries like crazy in the car and I can't fix it, I'm not above turning to drugs. I know it's controversial, but I gave Malachi Benadryl this weekend while we traveled. I didn't do it because he was sick. I did it because he was hysterically crying and needed to go to sleep. My research told me this practice is controversial with a baby so young because the dosage is tricky. Also, most people who are critical of it tend to think that you are doing it because your child is annoying you with their crying and you are tired of hearing it.

I'm sure there are parents out there who use that reasoning, but I didn't. I did it because my poor baby got so upset in the car and I just wanted to help him calm down. It's not good for babies to have high stress levels (one of the reasons that I do not believe in crying it out, but that's another post). He cries when he's tired, and if he is unable to go to sleep, he just cries more intensely until he is truly inconsolable.

We tried everything. The best solution is usually loud parental advisory hip hop that I feel dirty listening to, but even that only works for so long. So after giving him constant attention until he reached his limit of being able to be pacified, we pulled over for a comfort nursing session and gave him the Benadryl. Just a tiny bit, small enough that I even doubted whether it would work for his weight. The result: it didn't work. In fact, if anything, he got more upset. In retrospect, it makes sense that would happen, since he's crying because he's tired. And if he's getting more tired, but still doesn't have what he needs to go to sleep, more crying would be the result.

But its hard to draw a cause and effect between behaviors like that. All I know is that he didn't sleep. He kept crying. The thing that finally calmed him down was when Joshua put his large comforting hand on Malachi's face. Somehow his daddy's touch soothed him and put him to sleep. It was an incredibly sweet image that made my heart swell with love for both of them. It was also an exciting moment, because it was one of the first times that Joshua has been able to soothe him out of such agitation, and I sense that Malachi may be ready for us to try some father comforts instead of always needing mama. Obviously, he is not out of the woods yet as far as newborn behaviors, this scenario being a perfect example.

So, say what you will about it, I gave it to him, and it didn't work. But we have another trip coming up, and I hate to think of him crying through it, off and on. Fortunately, he can be entertained by some things now, like singing and talking, and toys. Without those, we would have really been up a creek. My hope is that even in the next few weeks, his ability to self-soothe will improve and it won't be as much of an issue.

My question is what do you do? How do/did you keep your tiny baby from crying on long trips?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Flashback: 35 Weeks Gestation

Occasionally, I have what I call a waking nightmare. When I have them, I am fully awake, sometimes in my car or daydreaming in bed. It's a very vivid daydream that something bad happens such as I get in a car wreck and Malachi survives, but I don't. It's quite horrific. Often these waking visions bring me tears to my eyes.

On Wednesday morning, I had one of these imaginings. And you know how sometimes the contents of a nightmare isn't that bad, but the emotions you feel at the time that make it bad? That's what this one was like. I imagined that I woke up in the middle of the night and was in labor. And since its too early to have a homebirth we headed to the hospital. I was afraid, both of giving birth in the hospital, and because its still a little early. I was also really stressed because our house wasn't ready for Malachi yet. Let me give you a vision of how physically unprepared we are for this baby. His room is full of bags and boxes of baby stuff we have accumulated. It was our room until about 3 weeks ago, so our clothes are still in the drawers and our trash is still on the floor where we found when we took the bed down last weekend. I guess it fell out of the trash can.

My room? Well, for one, it had about a month's worth of clean laundry unfolded in baskets. Books stacked 18 inches high on every available surface. The bookshelves half-painted in the middle of the floor in the way of everything. Joshua can't get to his side of the bed by walking to it. He has to climb in from my side. It's just that bad.

I have been working hard. Really, I have. But last weekend, my hard work consisted of making about 8 meals in single servings to pull out of the freezer for lunch and dinner each day. Without these, we had been eating out way too much, which is neither affordable nor good for our health. My hard work during weeknights consists of going to childbirth classes and midwife appointments. Between these, I am getting things done here and there, but a gestating woman a few weeks from her due date can only work so fast.

Needless to say, when I had this waking dream of going into labor with my house in such a state, I freaked out, both in the dream, and in real life. In the dream, Joshua called our friends Phil and Rebecca and told them what was going on, and would they be able to gather some people to get things organized while we were away. I dreamed that the hospital made Joshua go get a car seat because we didn't have one yet, and that he also picked up diapers while he was out.

When I snapped out of my dream-like state, I was a changed woman. I realized that this baby, though not due for 5 weeks, could come anytime now, and we. are. not. ready.

So I went to the midwife yesterday and discovered...I'm between 3 and 4 centimeters dilated and somewhat effaced. That basically means that I'm further along in the birth process than a lot of women are when they go into labor. I'm only at 35 weeks, so its a bit early for this. That means I'm off work for a few days, resting and trying to some natural remedies to delay labor. The goal is to get to 36 weeks. Then he will be full term, and I can have him at home whenever he's ready to be born.

So today, I sorted through baby clothes. My cousin brought a big stash of cloth diapers that I'll be borrowing. So now we have stuff to cover his butt and body. That's a big step!

Flashback: Eight Weeks

Sometimes I find posts that were in progress that never got published. When I come across them again, I will title them as a flashback so the dear readers will know its not current.

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Malachi has been changing so much the last few days. He went through a growth spurt last week, and I've really noticed that he's changing. The biggest physical change I've noticed is that he's growing out of some of his newborn onesies. So sad. He would probably have more time if he weren't in the bulky cloth diapers, but either way they are getting snug. Developmentally, Malachi can now see me in a room from a few feet away, and WANTS me there. He's following me around the room with his eyes! Yesterday, I put him in his swing for a few quick minutes while I made some food for myself. He was "done" with the swing and started crying right as I finished cooking, so I headed in there to get him. As soon as I came in the room, he stopped crying, so instead of taking him out of the swing, I sat next to him and ate while he swung. He was happy to sit in the swing for another 5 minutes, just because I was with him! This is a big change. I used to be able to put him, almost asleep, in his swing or bassinet to go to sleep. I could go in and out of the room cleaning, or checking on him, and he wouldn't know the difference. All that is about to change I guess!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Complaining Post

I wrote this a few days ago, but somehow it's easier for me to publish these not-so-positive posts a few days after the fact than when I am in the depths of despair (to quote Anne Shirley).

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I don't know why it is that I only feel like blogging when something is wrong. Wait. Yes I do. It's because 1) writing is a release, and 2) I'm looking for encouragement and support. So here goes...

People keep asking me about how our nights are going. The answer: fine. We co-sleep, so usually we both get a great night's sleep. Joshua has moved back into the bedroom, so we are adjusting to less room in the bed, but other than that, no complaints.

What we really have an issue with is days.

I'm so frustrated. My sweet baby never wants to be put down. If he's awake, he wants to be held and (usually) walked. If he needs to sleep, he won't go to sleep or stay asleep unless I hold him or lay by him so I can comfort (read: nurse) him when he stirs. This is how we spend the majority our days:


I honestly don't mind holding him. I think it's very good for him and for me. I believe in holding my baby and don't believe it will spoil him. What I mind is that my laundry hasn't been folded in weeks, I'm only in my kitchen long enough to make a mess preparing food, and the kitty litter stinks to high heaven. I wear him in a couple of different carriers, but my back can't handle carrying him around all day. So we mostly sit.

I've been given all the advice from varying ends of the spectrum, and I've tried the things I feel comfortable with. They haven't worked thus far, and just end up making me feel more frustrated. The only advice that really works for me is, "stop having goals and making plans and just be with your baby. When I can manage to do that, I have my best days. But it's hard. As a new stay-at-home mom, I have all these things I want to accomplish. Mostly keeping the house clean and organized, the laundry done and folded in drawers, and meals. And showering. I would like to do that on a regular basis as well.

Sometimes I just feel like I'm failing at this. I feel like I should be able to manage the bare minimum of housework. And I also often feel like I must be doing something wrong if I can't get my baby out of my hands for more than 20 minutes a day without crying. As many times as I've been told that's not true, there are a lot of sources out there that say otherwise. As if I needed another reason to second-guess myself.

Everyone says to appreciate this time, because before I know it he will be too old to snuggle and hold. And I'm trying, I really am. I don't feel like this every day. About once a week maybe.

I've heard that after three months, things will get easier. Please tell me this is true. He will be three months in two weeks, and I am looking forward to it. And yet I have this sneaky little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me I should feel guilty for looking forward to my baby growing up. I know he will only be little for a short time. I ask you: why would I want to wish this scrumptiousness away?


I want to cherish every moment. But it's hard sometimes. So go ahead, encourage me. And give me advice about how a baby-wearing mama can get things done. How do/did you do it?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Doing In" My Husband and Other "Mistakes"

I am scatterbrained even on my best days. And in terms of organization, the days lately are far from my best. This is the excuse, however lame, I am using for the dangerous, but overall humorous, shenanigan I pulled earlier this week...

I was making lunch for Joshua on Tuesday. Chicken Curry, one of his favorites. The chicken was not thawing fast enough, and I was in a hurry (no surprise there).

Mistake Number One: In my haste to get it on the stove, I plunged the knife between two frozen breasts, and twisted. I heard a crack, and as the knife came loose, I realized that the tip of it, about 3/8 of an inch, had broken off in the chicken.

Mistake Number Two: Since I didn't have time to let it thaw completely, I decided I should just go ahead and cook it. When it was done, I dug around in the offending piece of chicken for the knife. I could see the knife tip, but couldn't seem to get it loose. Keep in mind, this chicken is in a thick, dark curry sauce. All of the sudden I lost track of the knife tip. Oh. Great. Did I get it out, and it fell in the sauce? Or did I push it deeper into the chicken? I wasn't excited about either prospect.

Mistake Number Three: I dished up the Curry, thinking that this sizable, shiny knife shard would be easy to spot once it was in a smaller portion on his plate. I actually gave him the chicken the shard would have been in intentionally, because I wanted him to find it. As I handed him the chicken, I announced the situation, and that he needed to be on the lookout.

Twenty minutes later, I asked Joshua if he had found the knife. He hadn't. Hmmm. I ate my chicken. I didn't come across it either. I dished the leftovers into a container, and no knife shard to be found. Double hmmm.

Ten hours later:
Sandra: You know, I'm a little worried about that knife shard.
Joshua: I'm surprised you gave it to me. I would have thrown that piece out.
Sandra: Yeah, I should have. I don't know what I was thinking (Hmmm, I don't know, maybe about the BABY screaming in the background as I rushed around to get lunch ready?!?). We should say a little prayer.

So we said a little prayer.

Twenty minutes later I can't get the chicken out of my head. I decide that I'm going to inspect the chicken again. Joshua says that we should use the metal dectector. Seriously?!? We are going to metal detect our chicken?!? So we did. I'm sure we looked a hot mess in our front yard metal detecting our Chicken Curry. But we didn't find it.

I was certain that Joshua would have been the one who ingested the knife, seeing as how I gave him that piece on purpose. And since we couldn't find it in the chicken, it must surely be making its way through his intestinal tract by now. This was not good.

Next step: call all the medical professionals we know. They reassured us that he wouldn't die, but a knife in your intestines could do some damage. (Ya think?) We were told that we could wait it out to see if it passed.

"How do we know if there's a problem?" we asked.

"It will hurt if there is a problem", Dr. Serge said.

"How long will it take?" said I.

"How long does it take to see corn after you eat it?" Queried the good doctor. (Really? How scientific!) "Wait that long, plus 24 hours. If it hurts, or you have a fever, that's bad, very bad, and you must go to the ER straightaway."

Okay, then. Since all we had to do was wait, we might as well look through the chicken again. If that didn't work, we were going to metal detect Joshua. Yes, you read that correctly.

So we looked through the chicken. We didn't have to metal detect Joshua because we found the missing knife tip. It was in the sauce after all. It was a lot harder to see than you would think, since it's a shiny metal object. But evidently it shininess was overpowered by the dark thick curry sauce.

What a relief. I haven't been that scared since the time I went to pick Joshua up from a day of fishing and couldn't find him and it was after dark and there was no cell phone signal. And there was fast moving water and no street lights because it was in a State Park.

But that's another story. The moral of this story is: don't feed your family sharp objects. There's a good chance they will puncture their intestines. You wouldn't think I would have to learn that one from experience, but apparently, when you combine everyday tasks and new motherhood, you'll get some doozies.

The End.

Thank you for listening.

And here's the knife:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Toddlerisms

I am seven years older than my sister, so I clearly remember when she was a toddler and learning to communicate. I got such a kick out of her saying i-peem (for ice cream), back-a-yoom (for vaccuum), circle (for the ham and cheese roll-ups she like to eat for lunch), and mix-chew (for the mixture of different types of juices she would combine to drink in the morning). Whenever she felt we needed to buy something she thought we could get it at a store specific to that item, like the bread store.

I know Malachi has a long way to go before he's a toddler, but it will be here before we know it. I look forward to the stage when he learns to talk and starts experimenting with language. With that in mind, these are some "toddlerisms" that moms shared with Mothering Magazine on Facebook recently. They are adorable and made me laugh. I included the translations at the bottom with the corresponding number if you can't figure them out. It will be fun hearing Malachi use some of these and make up his own.

1. Slickery, Slipperly
2. Farkle
3. Libaberry, lie-belly
4. Bumbrella, Rainbrella
5. Twirler
6. "Dat's increbidle!"
7. Skun Skeen
8. Doodle
9. Punkany
10. Hound Dog Bus
11. Kepich
12. Headboard
13. Baby soup, Timmin toot
14. Bilboes
15. opticus
16. Fillow Pipe
17. Lemon-made
18. Spadachios
19. Heart beep
20. Understorm
21. Lasterday
22. Dinoscore
23. Vap-cume
24. Refrigulator
25. Resternot
26. Yipper, lipper
27. Waterlemon, ladolemon
28. Ca-buzz
29. Canpakes
30. Frip frops, slip slops
31. Imporkinant
32. Doodle
33. Comfterbler
34. Hopgrassers
35. Ska-meeto
36. Handy downs

1. Slippery 2. Sparkle 3. Library 4. Umbrella 5. Squirrel 6 "That's incredible!" 7. Sunscreen 8. Noodle 9. Company, as in, "Mom, will you keep me punkany?" 10. Grey hound bus 11. Ketchup 12. Forehead 13. Bathing suit 14. Elbows 15. octopus 16. Pillow fight 17. Lemonade 18. Pistachios 19. Heartbeat 20. Thunderstorm 21. Vaguely meaning: "at some point in the past" 22. Dinosaur 23. Vaccuum 24. Refrigerator 25. Restaurant 26. Zipper 27. Watermelon 28. Because 29. Pancakes 30. Flip flops 31. Important 32. Noodle 33. Comforter 34. Hopgrassers 35. Mosquito 36. Hand-me-downs

What about you and your kids? What toddlerisms do you still talk about?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Little Weed

Why do we compare children to weeds when they grow? Malachi is way cuter than a weed, but he is growing a lot lately. Mostly in length. Two weeks ago at his last appointment with the midwife, he measured 24.5 inches. It looks like he's in the 95th percentile for height, and the 5th percentile for weight. So funny. I never thought I'd have a tall skinny kid. But I did marry Joshua.

Tonight I measured Malachi's foot against the ceramic footprints that we made for Father's Day when he was just over a week old. His foot completely covered his little footprint! Everyone tells you that they grow so fast, but you can't really appreciate how fast until you experience it.

It's easy to make him smile and even laugh occasionally. We discovered a couple of weeks ago that he has dimples, which we love. He gets them straight from his daddy. He's drooling all over everything. I need to start having him wear a bib, but I keep forgetting. On the way to take Joshua his lunch today, he was pushing the plastic buckle on his carseat into his mouth so he could suck on it. That was completely new. It makes me think he might be an early teether. A little one we know has been teething for a couple of weeks and he's only two weeks older than Malachi, so it's possible. I hope not though, sheesh!

What else?...He's started gazing into my eyes when he nurses the last few weeks. It's so dear. And speaking of his eyes, they are changing to lighter shade of blue. So it looks like he'll have Joshua's eyes.

Probably the funnest thing about his development lately is that he's really into music. When he is upset, it is sometimes the only thing that will calm him. I discovered it when we were in the car, and he was crying his poor little head off. On a whim, I turned the radio up really loud and flipped through the stations until I found one he liked. It happened to be Eminem and Rihanna's new song, "Love the Way You Lie". Great. He's going to be trying to listen to all the music with parental advisories. His favorite so far is Coldplay, and he also likes Patti Griffin, James Taylor, and Elvis Costello covering the Beatles (what?!?!). This is my child.

We took him camping last weekend, and he did pretty good. He's always really into his surroundings, so I think all the bright colors made it hard for him to take his naps. So he was a little grumpy. It was probably good birth control for our single friends who camped with us. But you know, they're single, so that might be good! All weekend, when we would do something that was quintessential camping, like sitting around the campfire eating S'mores, or playing cards under a tarp during the rain, we would say, "This is camping, Malachi." We got a kick out of ourselves.

So here's a picture of our little family on our first camping trip together. Malachi was pretending to be a bear.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thank you

Thank you so much to those who have responded to Malachi's birth story with comments and personal notes. It feels good to share something that resonates with people. It was good for me to write it too. It is healing to share my birth experience with others. And I love that it has resulted in others sharing their birth experience with me.

A few days ago I watched a friend's homebirth video and cried. It was beautiful. Just what I wanted. It's hard to be reminded of what I didn't have.

I wanted a homebirth, but instead of a homebirth I got--not a natural hospital birth, or even a vaginal birth plus interventions--but a freaking Caesarean. It couldn't have been further from what I had hoped to experience. At least I got the kid out of it. And as long as we're talking about the perqs, I did love his perfectly round head and unsquishy face.

I'm so glad that I labored at home the way I did. At least I got to experience that. It was so beautiful. The entire experience for me (until the end) was everything I thought it would be: hard, exciting, exhausting, exhilerating.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Weight Loss

It's not happening the way they said. "They" told me that when you breastfeed the weight comes right off . Well, not for everyone apparently. Two weeks after Malachi was born, I had lost all but nine pounds of my pregnancy weight. I was pretty happy about that. Then it proceeded to stay there for the next five weeks. Until last week, when it started to go back up! What in the world! Heck, yes I'm eating a lot, but seriously, people, weight gain?! This kid is eating constantly, I'm sure its at least the 600 extra calories they say babies take from their mamas.

This has got to stop. I'm taking this in hand. Don't worry, I'm not going to starve myself. I just need to eat a little smarter. And start exercising now that my 6-8 week recovery period is officially over. Evidently the ten pound weight I carry around for hours a day isn't cutting it.

My midwife says this is perfectly normal, but its not going to kill me to replace brownies with fruits and veggies. I don't think anyway. I've never tried so I don't know for sure. I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

Sleep and Other Advances

Malachi is snugged up next to me in his swaddling blanket sound asleep, and if I took everyone's advice, I would be too. But my days and nights are about as messed up as his lately. It started at 4am Sunday morning when he woke up for a couple hours. He went back to sleep. I didn't. Later in the day, I napped to recuperate from a short night, and that kept the cycle going.

Lately, Malachi has been changing like crazy. He had a growth spurt last week and he is not only bigger, he is smarter too. He's decided recently that he likes it better when I'm in the room. He wiggles his little body with delight and watches with interest the spinning owls above his bassinet each time I set them in motion. He smiles when he's naked. He smiles back at us when we smile at him. He smiles when we find a new tickle spot, which seem to be getting easier to find lately. He loves to take baths, and loves the shower even more. He's getting better and better at working his itty-bitty thumb into this mouth, and I find myself rooting for him, though I'm sure one day I won't be so thrilled by it. I've resigned myself to it though, since he comes from a clan of faithful thumb-suckers on both sides. I'll just be glad if he quits by the time he goes off to college.

He changes his sleep habits just about every week. Some are better than others, and I always hope those are the ones that stick around. I am finding a pattern in some of his behavior which is helping me to keep sane. It's been work to get him to sleep and stay asleep during the day. I've resorted to wearing him during most of his naptimes. I think its good for both of us, but it is tiring to carry ten pounds around all day. Last week, I was a little discouraged because I am tired of having my (minimal) plans thwarted all the time by a growth spurt, a new sleep habit, or unexplained bout of fussiness. I doesn't help my motivation level. I gave up. The house was a mess. I just didn't feel up to a mad dash of cleaning during the few times I had fifteen minutes that I wasn't taking care of Malachi. Thankfully, we had a guest coming over on Thursday afternoon, so just short of squalor, I had no choice but to clean up. Joshua helped though. Bless him.

My motivation returned somehow on Saturday evening when I decided, maybe without thinking it through very well, that we needed to invite someone over for lunch on Sunday after church. I guess I figured the house was clean, I had simple food to prepare, what did I have to lose? And that's what led to the aforementioned wakefulness in the wee sma's of Sunday morning. After Malachi fell back to sleep, I kept thinking about the things I needed to do so that lunch would be ready when we got home from church. So I got up and cleaned the kitchen, made spaghetti sauce, straigtened up. I know, I know, I just had a baby a few weeks ago, and I should take it easy. That's what everyone tells me. And I promise, I'm not trying to sound like SuperWife / Mom. As soon as our lovely guests left, I hit the bed and slept for four hours. It was lovely.

Of course then I woke up and decided that we needed to take advantage of the fall-like weather and have a fire in the backyard. We called some friends over to join us, and there went my opportunity to clean the kitchen from lunch. (My guests offered to help, but in true idiot fashion, I said no). Here it is Tuesday morning and my kitchen is still in the recovery process from the weekend. And instead of sleeping when normal people sleep, I am up at all hours--not caring for my newborn infant, but stalking people on facebook and IMing with a long-lost friend.

So, when the next person asks me how sleep is going with the new baby, I will tell them it's great! I will be too embarassed to tell them that although my baby slept through the night, I am sleep-deprived because I was too busy taking advantage of my one chance to listen to my thoughts and write them down.

Sleep. Who needs it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flashback: 10 Days Old

I wrote this post on June 12th, when Malachi was 10 days old. I didn't post it at the time because I intended to write more, but now I will post it as it is, for my memory's sake.

Malachi is 10 days old today. We've been home a week. It's been a wonderful, hard week. I've never spent so much time with someone. When you are with a person pretty much 24 hours a day, staring at them from 12 inches away, its amazing how you notice the tiniest changes that no one else would be able to see.

I started on Malachi's birth story while we were still in the hospital. But I can't seem to finish it. The memories became so fuzzy right away. I've remembered things over the last few days, and friends have reminded me of other things.

I wish I could write a beautiful, eloquent post about babymooning, and how happy we are. But honestly, at the moment, I am feeling more "postpartum-y", than "babymoon-y". I'm tired of being dependent on drugs to feel good. I want to take a bath and I can't for 5 more weeks. For some reason that seems like a real hardship right now. I have the motivation to be up and about, but not the energy for it. I have concerns about Malachi's weight gain. It doesn't take much to make a new mama worry. I'm frustrated at how everyday living creates such a mess, and I'm not really in a position to clean it up right now.

Flashback: 1 Day Old

Less than 24 hours after Malachi was born, I was hit with a wave of sadness and regret. I can't believe how quickly it hit me, and I burst into tears. I felt guilty for feeling sad during what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life. But that's Baby Blues for you. Those feelings continued on and off for about 10 days. This is what I wrote.

I wish that he had been in a better position. I wish that I hadn't thrown up all day. I wish I had best well-rested. Given the circumstances, I am thankful for the sign that something wasn't right.

The thing I regret most was that I wasn't with it when Malachi was born. Had I know the effect the nausea medication would have on me, I would have turned it down...

The Long-Awaited Birth Story of Malachi Justice Allen Grasty

I actually wrote this from the hospital, the day after Malachi was born. In the interest of being authentic, I haven't made any edits. These are, for the most part, the facts, not the feelings of the June 2nd, 2010, the day our beautiful son was born.

I wanted to write out the birth story while it is still fresh in my mind, for me, for Malachi, and for those who love us and are interested in our lives. I know there are those who are curious about what happened, especially how the home part of it went, and how it turned into a c-section after a planned home birth.

I went into labor around 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, June 2nd. I hadn't slept at all, though I had tried. I'd had a long nap that ended around 2:30 in afternoon that day, because I hadn't slept at all the night before either. Less than an hour after the contractions started, I knew that this was our day. I called Alicia (my midwife) and she and the birth team were there by around 7:30, I think. I labored in different positions while the birth pool was filling. They measured me late morning, and I asked not to be told since I didn't want it to change my perception of how long it would continue. I believe I was at 6 or 7 at that time.

I kept laboring. Got in the pool. It was hard. But I knew I was doing it. The birth team was so supportive. My husband was amazing. I couldn't believe how much it helped just to have him there by my side, looking in my eyes and telling me "You're doing it!" My midwives and doula were so helpful to help me manage the pain. Everything was going great, even though it was the hardest thing I've ever done. The only problem was I wasn't keeping down solids or liquids. Literally every ounce I drank came back up.

By early afternoon, I was dilated to 9. I got excited. I knew the hardest part was almost over and I was going to push this baby out in just a matter of time. Joshua and I jumped in the shower b/c the birth pool needed to be refilled (I had vomited in it. Oops.) We laughed and cried in the shower over our little boy that we would meet so soon. I held on to him during contractions. But the limited space wasn't giving me enough options for birth positions.

I got back in the refilled birthing pool. Knowing that this would be over pretty soon, I had someone call my girlfriends, Ingrid, Kim, and Heather to let them know they could come watch a baby being born this afternoon. We were that close. I was just waiting to feel that urge to push. And it started to come. And it came and it went, not that strong, just a little pushy. I kept contracting. It hurt so bad, but I knew I could do it. For some reason, I HAD to take a drink toward the end of every. single. contraction, or I would vomit. And if I took the drink too late, there my water, or sports drink or whatever, would go, ounces and ounces of precious fluid--energy that I needed to finish this. It went on like this for hours. I got more and more tired, and nothing was staying down.

I started to lose energy. Finally, somewhere around 8:30 p.m. (I learned later), I threw up again. Probably 36 ounces of energy, down the drain. I knew there was a problem. Why couldn't I keep anything down? I didn't know what time it was, but I knew it had been a long time. Why had I been dilated to 9 for so long without any further progress. When Alicia came into the room, I said something along the lines of, "I'm really concerned about the vomiting. This is really not good. I think I need an IV," She said she agreed, and was just coming in to convince me (she thought) that it was time to go to the hospital. She didn't go into details at the moment, but said the vomiting, the lack of progress after hours at 9 cm, and a couple other things, were all indications of a problem. I said, "Okay, I want to be gone in 5 minutes."

She called the hospital to let them know to expect us. They rushed us up to a room. I knew that things were going to change, and whatever happened, it would not be a natural birth from here on out. I was okay with that because I knew it was what needed to happen. I was pretty low on energy, and out of it, but I recall that I agreed to the IV. I threw up. I agreed to nausea medicine. We did an ultrasound and discovered that Malachi was in an occiput transverse position (if I recall correctly), and that was the cause of the failure to progress past nine centimeters. I agreed to an epidural so that the doctor could literally stick his hand inside and manually try to turn him. If it worked, I could still possibly deliver vaginally. The procedure was unsucessful. Where some babies heads have room to move, his head seemed almost stuck in that position. My midwife was surprised the doctor was able to move him at all, but even the small amount that he shifted was not enough to make a difference. So my options were:

A) Continue to labor with the epidural for an hour or two more to see if he would move. If he didn't shift, I would need a c-section.

B) Do an internal fetal monitor to check the strength of my contractions. If they weren't strong enough, take some pitocin to get him to shift. If he didn't shift, I would need a c-section.

C) Go ahead and get a c-section.

We decided on Option C. The reasons were that a) I had already been pushing with strong, hard contractions for hours. My midwife believed that my contractions were strong and hard and yet had not cause him to shift all day. It seemed unlikely that an hour or two more would help, especially since the doc couldn't even move it. B) I was concerned about the possible complcations of pitocin. Malachi could go into fetal distress, the c-section would become much more urgent, and there coul be delay in having him with us, a delay in breastfeeding, breathing problems, etc., and I really didn't want that. C) If A or B didn't work, which was likely, C was our only option anyway. I felt that I was ready to be done with this. After 17 hours of labor (before medicine), I was ready to hold my baby.

I didn't feel upset. Or pressured. Or disappointed. I just felt it was the decision that needed to be made, based on the circumstances.

So we did it. All the drugs messed me up. I don't know if they were normal side effects or what, but man, I was out of it. I felt almost paranoid, not about the surgery, but just about how weird I felt. I'm sure that was a side effect. I was not alert at all. When they showed Malachi to me, I couldn't really take it in. I saw Joshua holding him, and felt so incredibly fuzzy and tried tried tried to stay awake to look at him but just felt confused and sort of other-worldly, and a sense of not-rightness that they were over there, and I was over here in a fog. I couldn't feel happy. I was too drugged. I remember feeling concerned about him eating. What would they do if I couldn't feed him because of my state? I remember desperate, disconnected thoughts going through my head that I had to tell Joshua to make sure Malachi got to breastfeed tonight, even if he had to hold him to my breast. And I remember fuzzily reassuring myself that I didn't need to tell Joshua these things, he already knew, and I could trust him to do what was best for Malachi.

When they woke me to take me to my room, they handed him to me and I was concerned that he would fall out of the bed. I couldn't barely hold him. And then we were in our room, and he ate. And I slept. I fed him again. And in the morning, I really saw him for the first time. He was beautiful.



That's where I stopped writing. It was the middle of the night, and I was exhausted. I didn't anticipate that it would be seven weeks until I felt ready to come back to this story. Since then I've been able to recall more details about that day.

I remember being surprised that he didn't look like a fresh from the womb baby. He wasn't red and puffy. He looked a week old. I remember feeling relieved that he was so beautiful. I really expected to look at him and see both of us in his features, and I didn't at all. It took a few days to see us in him.

I remember feeling so disconnected from Malachi, and disoriented. I had expected to feel an immediate connection, like I already knew him. That's the way my mom describes the moment she saw me for the first time. But it wasn't like that at all. I kept asking myself, "Is this love that I feel?" It felt less like love to me than responsibility, or ownership. Looking back, my feelings seem so normal. Considering the circumstances, I don't know how I could have felt differently. I was so out of it and incredibly tired. As OB after Pediatrician after nurse came in and out of the room, for what seemed like all day, I would literally fall asleep between their questions.

It took a few days to feel a strong connection to Malachi and I felt guilty about that. That feeling made me feel very regretful that he had been born by c-section. Not that there really was a connection, but in my mind there was. I believed that if he had been birthed from my body, instead of surgically removed...If I had felt him crown with my fingers, seen his head being born, and pushed his body out of mine...If I hadn't been handed my baby two hours later, still so drugged that I had to struggle to keep my eyes open on one of the most significant days of my life...If he had been caught by the four hands of his mother and father, his new family, the people who he will share life with and who will love him best...If his slippery little new born body had been placed on my chest fresh from the womb...If we had both been alert, our bodies and minds unaltered by medicine...If those things had happened, then I would have felt the connection I had anticipated, I thought.

But over the next few days, the hours that we spent together, me getting to know him and learning to provide for his needs and feed him, through pain and fatigue, and him learning how to eat and breath and live in the world with me by his side, bonded us together. We learned together. And my love for him grew so fast and deep that it overwhelms me at times.


And now, seven weeks later, the rough beginning that we had doesn't matter in the same way. I don't regret the decisions we made. It was the best decision under the circumstances. But I regret that it had to happen that way. I wish Malachi had been in a better position in the womb. I wish that I had been able to keep my food and fluids down so that I could have possibly labored for a few more hours. I wish that I had been well-rested. But since those things didn't happen, I am thankful. We needed the hospital. We needed a c-section. We were one of the exceptions to the rule.

People are all the time saying that it doesn't matter how he got here, all that matters is that we got our baby, and that we are both healthy. I appreciate what my midwife told me. To loosely parephrase, "It does matter. You can be thankful that you have a healthy baby, but you can also be sad about the how you got the baby. When you lose something that was special to you, it matters, and you are allowed to grieve what you lost." That expresses very well the feelings that I have about it. But each day our experience with Malachi grows, and his birth, though significant, is just one small part of our life together, a life that is all the time growing and changing, as we grow and change together. We are so in love with our precious baby boy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Crying

I only have a minute. My mom is spelling me for a little while, and I should be sleeping. We had few good days, and a few rough days. We're in the midst of some rough days now. Thanks to those who have sent encouragement. I am having a rough time today. I'm tired of the crying. It is hard to remain sympathetic. But we're surviving. I'm hoping that we get a good day or two here soon, or I might go off the deep end. I'm going to make an effort to start pumping in earnest. I really want to be able to leave for a few hours if I need a sanity break.

Thanks also for your suggestions about what to try. I am working through the list. Next is gripewater and probiotics that several have suggested. I'm praying that something will work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

HIgh Times, Low Times

Joshua always tells me, when I am experiencing the highs and lows of life, that I should be blogging this. I don't take his advice nearly as often as I would like, probably because the highest and lowest times are the hardest to put in words. But tonight, I am taking his advice.

To call what I'm experiencing a low isn't really accurate. I'm actually very happy, would not describe myself as sad or depressed in any way. What I am experiencing is, in a word, just hard.

Malachi has colic. Until a few days ago it wasn't too bad. Every couple of days he would be clearly highly distressed for anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. He was sleeping in three hour stretches through the night, and we were able to manage the colic using a swaddling blanket, swing etc. Then three days ago, it changed. Malachi began sleeping only 45 to 1.5 hour at a time with inconsolable crying in between. He still has some longer stretches here and there, but not usually uring the night. He wants to nurse almost constantly. He'll have a while here and there where he is happy as can be.

Needless to say, I haven't been getting much sleep at night. I have been surviving by sleeping more during the day, which means nothing is getting done. When Malachi is awake, it's taking some effort to keep him content, if its possible at all, so I usually can't get anything done then either.

I know we're not experiencing anything that unusual. That's a small comfort, but it doesn't help much when it is happening to us. It's just hard watching my child suffer, especially when my own fatigue just serves to heighten my emotions about the whole thing.

Amazingly, I'm handling all of this better than I thought I might. Somehow its easier to deal with hard things when I'm the one responsible. Malachi needs me to keep it together.


On a positive note, he is changing so much. He is almost too long for his smallest onesies. He is holding his head up so well. I just started doing tummy time with him on Tuesday, and he decided to roll over four times! He didn't like being on his tummy, so I guess he was motivated. Unfortunately, I didn't see any of them because I was cleaning the kitchen. I'm just taking Joshua's word for it.

He's also really interested in watching objects move the last few days. We've been putting him in his bassinet and turning his mobile on and he will listen to the music and watch the little owls go round an round for 10-20 minutes before he gets bored. He is also looking into my eyes alot when he nurses now, which is so sweet.

He's such a joy. He smiles all the time when he's feeling good. I am so looking forward to his colicky-ness being over, because I can see that he has a great temperament.

(P.S. The photo is from July 4th. We went to a party at our friends' the Hillery's. Joshua loves to put cute outfits and shoes on Malachi for special occasions, and this photo is an example of that.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We're Back

Sigh. I didn't mean to have a month-long blog break, but I guess that can happen when you have a new baby. And a computer that decides it doesn't want to get online anymore. It's being fixed, but in the meantime, all I have is Joshua's computer. Most of my computer time is also nursing time, which means one-handed typing. When both of my hands are free, I guess I have other priorities. Like showering. And doing laundry.

Laundry. It has now taken over my life. And we haven't even make the switch to cloth diapers yet. Eek. That's supposed to happen in the next few days.

Everyone is asking how our nights are going. Some are even asking if he's sleeping through the night. Well, the answer to that is definitely "No! Newborns aren't supposed to sleep through the night!" But probably two-thirds of our nights couldn't be better. The other third are usually
not too bad. Since Malachi sleeps with us, I basically sleep through his night nursing. It's only when he is colicky or wakeful that its a problem.

Overall, we are doing great. We are so glad that Malachi is here. Joshua has said numerous times that he never thought he'd want to kiss a baby so much. Malachi is already changing and learning things. I know that should be obvious, but its still shocking to see him holding his head up, etc. It's just more proof that this month is the first of dozens that will just fly by and before we know it, our baby boy will be all growed up. Trying to cherish every minute.

Joshua will be home soon, so I will wrap this up. I'm hoping to start posting a little more. A birth story is forthcoming. I started writing it the day after Malachi was born, actually. But you know. Processing takes time. So I still need to finish it.