November 27, 2012

She's here!

Livvy is here! 

She was born yesterday, November 26, 2012, at 2:25 p.m. 7 lbs. 11 oz. 

We love and adore her.

Many more pictures and stories to come.  

November 18, 2012

Thoughts on Childbirth and Patience.

“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don't drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor's yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.” --Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I was talking a good game about patience as recently as a couple of weeks ago. But even though I'm smiling in this photo from today, my smile is a pile of phoney baloney. I feel heavy, exhausted and stuck. My patience has left me, even though I keep trying to pull it back like a balloon (or a puppy) with prayer and meditation and pep talks and hot baths. Still, the truth is: I'm the girl who would rather drive across town to another restaurant than endure a 20-minute wait at the restaurant we're already at. I'd rather watch you unwrap your Christmas present today--right now, go ahead!--instead of on Christmas morning.

Nine months is an incredibly long time to hand your body over to another person (even to my child, who I love already but who remains a stranger to me). I am much better at giving my heart and my head to a baby I can see and hold and hear than I am at giving my body to a baby who is known to me only by her slow rolls inside my womb, by hope and faith. I want it back--myself. I am ready. I am tired of peeing my pants when I sneeze and of not being able to cross my legs comfortably or lean into a conversation with a friend. And there are stretch marks this time. There weren't stretch marks with Tessa.

I'm sort of embarrassed to write this blog because I wish that I could find a well of patience somewhere inside myself and pull some extra buckets from it. Instead, I decided last week to schedule my induction for the Monday after Thanksgiving--a week from tomorrow. That's a full three days before my due date. My OB is tops at dangling that induction carrot in front of me, and I'm junk at resisting it. In spite of my somewhat conflicted feelings about my choice, I want to capture them here because this is part of my story. This is part of me, imperfectly. And pregnancy is such a time of growth and new self-awareness. Of this I am now aware: I am really lousy at patience.

I was induced a couple of days before my due date with Tessa as well. I was lucky to have had a fantastic experience, without any hiccups, and to have had the peaceful birth I wanted. Are my inductions medically necessary? Not even a little bit. And I get the impression that they rub some people the wrong way because I'm evicting my baby before she's "ready." But that, I think, is one of the blessings of being a woman today. I get to choose.

I feel differently about modern birth than many of my friends. I'm the girl who turned off the documentary The Business of Being Born, which is this famous exposé about how "medicalized" and unnatural birth has become, after 20 minutes because I was annoyed. That documentary, and many of my feminist friends, advocate for the right to give birth naturally, without intervention. As a feminist myself, I'm on the other side of the fence. For me, one of the greatest freedoms of being a woman today is in having the right to deliver my baby with minimal pain, on my terms, on my schedule, instead of being forced to endure the greatest pain of my life. Is it "natural"? Nope. But I'm grateful for my freedom to give birth the way I choose, just as I am grateful for my other reproductive rights. And just as I'm grateful that we all have the right to plan our births, whether they're in a hospital or in our own homes, with truckloads of pitocin and cervidil and epidurals, or with gritted teeth and saintlike purity.

So, as Tessa says all the time now, "Let's get this party started!" Only eight more sleeps until I meet my Liv. Then I can try to locate my patience in the heft of her little body, the smell of her mouth, her hair, and with the help of others. I won't have to carry her alone any longer. Until then I have to try to enjoy doing just that.

November 12, 2012


Yesterday afternoon some of our nearest and dearest threw our family a shower to welcome little Livvy into the world. We had a hell of a time, and I was sad when it ended, even though we got to drive home with our car packed full of goodies and well wishes. (Even Tessie had a ball. Her best friends were there, too.) The food, the flowers, the sweet words, the cards and presents--they all meant the world to me. I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by love and inspired to give that love right back. Here are some pictures from a special day: 

November 9, 2012

A Nursery for Livvy.

My little gal's room is ready! I had so very much fun putting it together, and it makes me so happy--lots of purple and yellow and pink and blue with a soft, shaggy rug and a cable knit light fixture and the same Dwell Studio crib bedding that I used and loved for Tess. There are lots of handmade touches and plenty of store-bought ones, too. 

There are, of course, a few things I still want to do in the few weeks I have left. I started making this bird mobile to hang over her crib, and I hope to make a baby blanket something like this. Can you believe this room--once our office and then Tessa's room--used to look like this

And now, for an explosion of pictures:

After much internal debate, I painted the walls Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter. Going neutral is such a departure for me, but I really wanted to accent in color in this room instead of go wild with it.

The blackout curtains are from Pottery Barn Kids, and the flokati rug is from The curtain rods were black; I painted them white.

These are favorite hats and dresses that (mostly) belonged to Tessa, hung over the changing table.

I made these curtain tie-backs with vintage sheet fabric and cotton candy colored pom-poms.

I painted this rocking chair (a gift from my mom) with Annie Sloan's "Antoinette" pink chalk paint, and made it more comfy with a rocking chair pad from Carousel Designs. The wooden letters I bought at Joann and painted the same color, and the Good Night print is from artist Tabitha Brown (found on Etsy). I made the pillow in the rocking chair a couple of years ago.

I made the "Your dad and I really love you..." art with chalk paint, stickers and tweezers, using a lyric from a Jill Andrews song that Tessa and I both love.

These two afro girl prints are also by Tabitha Brown (Etsy), and the flannel polka dot pillowcases are from Pottery Barn Kids.

Over a year ago I scored this polka dot quilt on sale for $30 at House 8810. That's also where I got the rose sheets that you can barely see--also ridiculously on sale. You can't see it very well, but I got this bed skirt for $20 and sewed purple pom-poms along the bottom.

Ah, this light fixture. I am crazy about it. It's from Land of Nod, and it added so much warmth to the room. The foot print is a gift from my dearest lady friend because we always text pictures of our happy post-pedicure feet to one another.

The clock is from Amazon.

The bassinet was a cheapo score that I painted and made bedding for. Blogged about here.

I did a simple crossstich with Livvy's name and framed the photo of me and Nekos from the day we found out we were having a girl. To me, Nekos looks shocked, and I look thrilled. Now we are both just thrilled. He is meant to be a daddy to little girls.

Lastly, I made this sash from fabric scraps using this photo as inspiration.

November 8, 2012

A Robe for the Hospital.

So I have this theory.

It is that every woman who is about to give birth should buy herself a really beautiful robe to wear in the hospital when she has her baby.

I'm not talking about wearing it when you actually give birth to your baby, but when you're hosting visitors in the days afterward and you're feeling halfway exhilarated and halfway terrified by your body newly minus baby. This robe can't be huge or lumpy or terrycloth. It also can't be small or sexy because there is obviously no need for sexy. It just needs to make the woman feel pretty and in her own style element even though what she actually feels is wrecked and distracted and exhausted. Oh, and hopelessly in love.

I splurged on an embroidered cotton robe from Anthropologie before I had Tessa, and I think it (or the absence of a hospital gown) helped make some of our first pictures that much more keepsake-y and it helped me feel more put-together. It's actually the robe I'm wearing in the previous post. This "birthing robe" is also a nice thing to have because every time you wear it afterwards you will remember how it figured into a crazy big time in your life.

It turns out that it's not easy to find a robe that fits this bill. Most robes are either big and hideous or scrawny and silky.

The only one I could really find that suits me is this Sweet Merriment Robe from Anthropologie...

I'm going to keep looking, but I'm running out of time. Liv is due three weeks from today!

November 5, 2012

What I Will and Won't Miss About Being Pregnant.

I found out I was pregnant in mid-March and have now been pregnant for three quarters of a year. Three quarters of a year! Now that I'm in my last month of pregnancy (due Nov. 29), I've been thinking a lot about what I'll miss when I'm not pregnant anymore. There's plenty I won't miss, but for now it's important for me to focus on the good and to try as hard as I can to be here in this moment without hurrying through it. Because this month is just as much a part of Livvy's story as her birth and all the months and years that I pray will follow. And I know that while she would technically be all good to come out now, she is working on putting on some chub, growing hair and fingernails and eyelashes, strengthening her lungs for late-night cries that will need my late-night attention and readying her body for the passage of birth. The doctor says she is already head down, and I feel her there--that heavy head like an anchor pressing down, down. Her feet are tucked between my upper ribs, her knobby knees and elbows jutting into my sides and abdomen, her round bottom causing the rounding of my belly. For now, she is warm and safe.

Things I'll Miss:
  • Feeling Livvy squirm and shift. This has been the greatest gift of my pregnancy. Each movement provides comfort and joy, surprise and a much-needed reminder. When Livvy moves, I almost always stop whatever I'm doing, place my hands on her, and smile.
  • Having an only child. My sweet Tessa, these are her last few weeks as our only. Nekos and I are both only children, so we are all curious to see how this having two kids thing is going to go. 
  • Knowing that by eating well and getting enough sleep and taking care of myself, I am doing all I need to do to take care of Livvy, too. This is the only time in her life when she'll be low maintenance. 
  • The anticipation. Imagining Livvy's personality and her face, her eye color and hair texture, and how she might compare to Tessa has inspired countless conversations over the past nine months. I've never looked forward to anything the way I have looked forward to meeting my daughters. 
  • Sleep. Even though our two-and-a-half-year-old still interrupts our sleep most nights (Mama, I peed the bed and it's soaking wet! Mama, I need you! Mama, there's a purple monster under my bed!) and wakes up by six in the morning, I usually get about seven hours of sleep a night. 
  • Being part of this miracle as old as time that is growing and giving birth to a child. It never stops blowing my mind how bizarre and how beautiful it is that I am carrying my child, Nekos's child, inside me, and that she will be born into this world the way every one of us was. 
  • The kindness of strangers, the well wishes, and inquiries. I'm a hugger; physical affection is crucial to me, so I'm of those women who doesn't mind strangers touching my belly. 
  • Body acceptance. It's surprisingly easy for me to love this body with all the work it's doing and the way it's shape shifted to make room to grow the daughter I've longed for. But, even though I shouldn't be, I'm less forgiving of the slack version of my body that follows. 
Things I Won't Miss:
  • The identity. I'm excited to return to myself and to part with the "pregnant lady" I've become. As a mom, I can take a break for a few hours from motherhood, but I never get to take a break from pregnancy. Also, there's not a whole lot about this journey that's made me feel remotely alluring. I won't miss the complete unsexiness that is pregnancy. 
  • The clothes. I have moved onto the hobo portion of my maternity wardrobe where I just put on anything that fits and that doesn't cut off circulation to my midsection. As the weather grows colder, my layered ensembles get crazier. I can't wait to get back into shape and return to shopping for normal clothes again this winter. 
  • The symptoms. First there was the debilitating morning sickness. Now there are ocular migraines and aches and pains. And exhaustion has tagged along the whole way. 
  • Restricting myself to just one little glass of something to drink. I'm not ashamed to say that I cannot wait to drink two or three Yazoo Pale Ales. I will relish every drop. 
  • The waddle walk. I fight it with all of my strength, but it persists. 
This month is my time of waiting. For all I know I could have this baby tomorrow or her arrival could stretch days or weeks into December. Either way, I will be here waiting, anticipating Livvy's pretty face more with every new day. She'll be here soon enough.