Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What do you want to be when you grow up?

One of the best things about watching a child grow is speculating and joking about what he might want to be when he grows up. We already bought him a pair of pajamas that say "I want to be a fireman," but I'm sure he'll go through a list of different professions. I had lunch with a coworker yesterday, and as we were walking out of the cafe and back up the stairs I mentioned that I had gone to divinity school with the intention of being a Unitarian Universalist minister but ended up getting the 2-year Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree instead of the 3-year Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree. He asked why and I said something about having thought I wanted to go to culinary school to be a pastry chef instead. He then asked if I ever did that ...

The first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was an artist when I was in first grade. Then I think I wanted to be a teacher. I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything else before I decided I wanted to be a doctor sometime when I was maybe 10 or 11 after getting a splinter out of my younger brother's foot. That lasted awhile. The type of doctor I wanted to be changed around a little bit, but mostly it was to be a pediatrician. I think I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon by the time I was looking at and applying to colleges as a potential biology major (pre-med, of course). By the time I chose a college, I was pretty sure I was going to be a German language major. Maybe Italian. Freshman year, I wanted to be an interpreter. Figured I might as well get my teacher's license and started doing the coursework necessary for certification (for high school language). So then I wanted to be a teacher during my sophomore year. Didn't so much enjoy the fieldwork and deciding teaching probably wasn't for me. Junior year I spent in Italy and Germany and I'm not really sure what I wanted to be while I was there (maybe I was back to interpreter) but I started thinking more about religion. Since I had no clue, I went ahead and applied for a few things for something to do for the year after college. Senior year (well, Senior semester since I finished early), I decided I wanted to be a UU minister and picked some schools to apply to. Then I went to Korea to teach English and decided maybe I wanted to go back to doing something with languages (but not teaching, still disliked that), so I applied for some linguistics programs. Didn't get those, got into Div school instead. Decided maybe I didn't want to be a minister but I'd get the MTS and maybe be a professor of some sort. Or maybe something with social work. Came to Cambridge, started Div school and then a lot happened. I started baking a ton, my dad died, I started working in the Harvard Theological Library, I met my future wife. I thought maybe I'd go to culinary school. Then I thought maybe I'd go to library school. Then I decided to continue trying to work in the libraries. Then I tried library school -- wasn't for me. Then I got a job at Google. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. :) I know I like doing what I'm doing now. I'm good at it, it changes, I like the people I work with. I like all the choices I've made. I still get to preach at church and give sermons and be a part of a little church. Maybe after the kids go off to college I'll take the rest of the classes I'd need to change my MTS over to an MDIV and be a minister after all. :)

So, to answer my coworker's question, I guess I ended up not being a minister just because I can't settle on any one career. Doing what I'm doing now keeps me on my toes and while the basics of what I do are the same from day-to-day, in a growing, changing company, I guess I'm getting to change my job as I go along without having to take a few years to get a degree or training and in that time, lose interest in the first thing and have moved on to something else.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

For the record...

...we did not have IVF.

For some reason, whenever people think about Lesbians having babies, they first think about IVF. I suppose it's not totally a mystery. Whenever you hear about infertility problems and the octuplets that result, it's usually from IVF therapy (though Jon and Kate plus 8 was just IUI plus Clomid). However, we do not have any infertility problems. In fact, our health insurance did not cover any of the doctor visits for our inseminations because we do not have a medical diagnosis of infertility (though I would argue that Jen and I are an infertile couple because we can have sex as much as we want and never get pregnant). ;)

Anyway, after Jen and I got pregnant we often heard "Oh well, you have a higher chance of having twins..." Um, no. We have the same chance of having twins as any heterosexual couple without fertility issues does. We used artifical (or alternative) insemination, AKA IUI. They just got the spermies where they needed to go. No fertility meds, no implanting of eggs, just getting the spermies up where they need to be to make babies happen.

The questions people are afraid to ask:
Yes, we used an anonymous donor from a sperm bank.
We chose someone with similar heritage to Jen (who is Italian/Irish; we were specifically looking at people with Italian heritage and ended up with someone with Italian and Polish ancestry).
I will get pregnant with all the kids; Jen loves being a mom but doesn't have any interest in being pregnant.
Nate will call me Mommy and Jen Mom (or Momma).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nate be pimpin'

Nate's first birthday.

We went apple picking.

Nate ate his very first apple straight off the tree.
From October 2009

Mmmmm apple.

Then his mommies dressed him up in suits and took pictures.

From October 2009

From October 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A follow-up on the miscarriage post

I was just recalling the first month or two of my "new" job at Google (two years ago). I found out that Jonathan no longer had a heartbeat on August 30th, (2007) gave birth to him early in the morning on the 31st and went home that day to find an email letting me know that I had an offer. I made Steve wait 3 days before speaking to him and told him that the offer was a great thing in an otherwise shitty week. Yes, I said "shitty." I started working at Google on September 24th. That first day I told Steve that I had miscarried. He comisserated (his wife had miscarried between their two children). It was still so raw for me and the way that I deal with things is to talk abou them so I found myself bringing up the fact that I'd had a miscarriage in spots where it maybe didn't apply. I think people understood and I was able to bond with others who had gone through similar experiences including with one of the engineers I support. Now it comes up up no longer because it's raw and I'm trying to heal but because it actually fits into the conversation not because I'm making it fit.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Year Ago Today ...

On this date one year ago, we were getting everything together to head to the hospital. My water had broken 24 hours earlier and the midwives wanted me in the hospital to induce labor since I wasn't having regular contractions (though they had finally started about 18 hours after my water broke). Yes, I got to be just like all the women in movies and television shows whose water actually breaks before they go into labor. Fewer than 15% of women actually have their water break (AKA ruptured membranes) before they're in active labor. In fact, a large number get it done by the doctor/midwife at some point during labor. It's not really that exciting. It was actually annoying because I didn't get to go into labor naturally and had to be induced. But it was fine. :) I managed to labor for 10 hours without any drugs as I had wanted (though I was open to anything) and get to 8 cm dilated before it turned out Nate wasn't going to be able to come out vaginally because the silly monkey was trying for that whole face-first thing. :)

So a year ago today I was getting nervous. Like happy excited nervous because I knew we'd get to meet our baby of unknown gender soon. Nathaniel Thomas if he was a boy and Grace Elisabeth if he was a girl. We knew it was going to be a boy though. I think I would have been surprised if Jen had said "it's a girl!" instead of "it's a boy!"

So today Nate opened his very first birthday present from his grandma. A fun bath toy (a net with balls that squirt water) and a copy of the book Nate the Great! Tomorrow we are going to go apple picking and make an apple pie for his birthday. Sunday we will have cake with nana and great-nana. And on the 25th it's his big first birthday party with all the aunts and uncles and cousins. Oh, and I want to dress him up in the 2 suits we've gotten (one as a gift that was used for his dedication at my church and the 2nd we got him for his baptism with our family and friends). Then I'm going to take lots of cute pictures.

Friday, October 2, 2009

But Nate's not our first!

Nobody talks about it.

But lots of people seem to have experienced it (1 in 4, they say).

Shhhh ... don't say it too loudly ... miscarriage.

Oh wait, I mean ...


It's really sad to lose a baby. It doesn't matter if that baby has been born still, lived for days or months and then died or if that baby only gestated for 6 weeks ... 12 weeks ... 17 weeks before it died without its parents even getting to meet it.

We had a miscarriage. Nate is not our first. In May of 2007 we got pregnant for the first time after 5 months of trying (with one month off). August 31, 2007 we got to meet little Jonathan, though he had already died by the time he was born. He had been growing for 17 weeks. Though we don't know for sure when he stopped breathing in utero, according to his size he may have died around 14 weeks.

After it happened, which was about a month after we had started telling work and more people than just family, so many women told me that they had had one too. Men told me that their wives had had them. Friends told me that their moms had had one. But nobody talks about it.

I do. I talk about it without any embarassment. I didn't do anything wrong. Most miscarriages don't have a known cause. Especially the ones that happen before that "magic" 12-week mark. Sometimes they're not healthy. Jonathan wasn't healthy. He just lasted a little longer than many. We're lucky to even know the cause of his death. See, since I was 17 weeks along, we were given a choice. Instead of miscarrying naturally, which is sometimes a possibility (it's like a really heavy, rather a bit more painful period, I have heard), we could either get a D & E (not D & C, those happen earlier on, after a certain point, it's E for extraction), or get induced and deliver. Our first thought -- get it DONE! D & E. No doubts. However, it was Thursday before Labor Day weekend. We wouldn't have been able to go in until Tuesday because the doctor was booked on Friday. My body hadn't realized the baby was dead yet. Our reasons for choosing D & E was to get it over with. Tuesday was too far away. So we went in Thursday evening and I was induced. I delivered tiny Jonathan around 4am. He was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand but big enough to be able to see he was a boy. :D And big enough to see the problem.

He had an omphalocele. A really bad one. An omphalocele is when the intestines are outside of the body. When a baby develops, its intestines develop outside of its abdomen and then by 12 weeks or so the abdomen closes up around them. Sometimes a little piece gets closed up outside and that's an omphalocele. Jonathan basically had everything out. Poor kiddo.

It was really really sad. Really sad. 5 months later we did get pregnant again, and 9 months after that Nate was born. No problems.

So if it is so sad, why do I talk about it? Well, because I think miscarriages should be talked about. Because Nate is not my first. Because I've had 2 pregnancies to draw experiences from. Because Nate has an older brother that he will know about. And just because I want to, dammit. It helps me.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I guess he's not as over it as I thought

So, after writing a nice long post about how I was trying to nurse Nate until he was a year old, it seemed as though he was done on Thursday night. We were down to nursing only at night (we started him on cow's milk last week so he gets a bottle in the morning and then sippy cups of milk at lunch and dinner) and it was taking him longer and longer to even get any milk, so Friday night I just didn't nurse him.

He didn't seem to notice.

I was a little sad. I like the breastfeeding snuggly moments. But I was okay with it. I had made it through the really difficult first few weeks while mom and baby are getting used to it. I had made it past the freak-out where I thought he wasn't getting enough. I made it past the painful blocked milk ducts (no mastitis, thank goodness) and the engorged breasts when Nate decided to sleep 8 hours straight one night, but only 4 hours the next but 9 the next but 3 after that, etc. Made it through going back to work and pumping 3 times a day ... then twice a day ... then once .. then suddenly none. So we did well.

Then Sunday morning I made him a bottle and sat in the glider in his room like normal. He drank his bottle and then we were playing in the chair like we do. Pointing at the animals. Giving kisses (or his new biting my nose thing). I was wearing my fuzzy robe and we were playing peek-a-boo (he like covering his face with anything: blankets, stuffed animals, the shower curtain in the bath, a book, a shopping back) and suddenly he saw the old familiar milk source. He immediately laid on his side in nursing position and latched on. Well okay. It had only been a couple days and apparently my milk is not totally gone yet. He was all happy and actually nursed longer than he had all the past couple weeks of just nursing at night.

So I guess I'm not the only one who will miss the breastfeeding.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Please make a giant cut in my abdomen

[DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, duh. This is just an opinion and the "facts" here are possibly wrong. Please don't be mad at me, I'm just repeating observations.]

Sometimes the whole OB medical thing gets me a little miffed. I recently read a book discussing the history of childbirth, and I promise to look up the actual numbers and post it back later, but once men decided that women needed their help to give birth and turned childbirth from a natural procedure done with midwives and mothers and other women who had actually gone through the whole thing into a medical, sterile, "painful" procedure that needed intervention, deaths of mothers and babies actually increased (before eventually, more recently, decreasing).

O of course there are cases when medical intervention is necessary. Heck, Nate's birth was such a case - if we had not been able to get a Cesarean and were in an area where they were not safe and readily available, one or both of us likely would not have made it -- probably Nate. He got himself into a position that really wasn't going to let him come out.

What gets me upset is when women are told that their pelvises are too small. It does legitimately happen -- usually when the mom has gestational diabetes which can cause the child to grow larger and faster than normal. (Or if you have rickets, common in Victorian times because sun was the devil and women didn't get an vitamin D). Otherwise, a woman's body is an amazing thing. The hormones and chemicals that are released during childbirth actually make the pelvis malleable enough to accommodate the kid. A woman's body knows how big of a kid it can handle and adjusts accordingly. Average-sized women have given birth vaginally to 13-pound babies, so why are women with 7 or 8 pound babies being told they can't do it? It seems to be a combination of things that usually get labeled "small pelvis". From the women I've known that have been given this diagnosis, they started off with back labor, which is not so much fun (read: VERY painful). So they get an epidural. Nothing wrong with that. But then their contractions slow or since they're essentially stuck on their back, the baby's heart rate goes down (when I was in labor, I couldn't lay on my back because something about that position made Nate's heart rate decrease -- so I layed on my side or stood or walked), or any number of things happen that leads to an emergency C-section. And the poor woman is told that their pelvis is too small, but maybe the doctor just got impatient.

I chose midwives. I still gave birth in a hospital. They're certified nurse-midwives and they have a little more time for you and they've gone through labor and birth (though not always, but most are mothers) and they're not going to deny you drugs if that is what you want, but they're willing to take a little more time with you and work with you so that you're not automatically rushed off for an emergency Cesarean. Some women are so torn up (emotionally, not physically) after getting C-sections (that were unplanned) because they have feelings of inadequacy because they've been told that their bodies weren't good enough. Though I had an unplanned C-section, I certainly feel like I gave it a chance. I labored (after they administered pitocin since my water had broken 36 hours earlier) for 10 hours and made it to 10 cm dilated (without any drugs, though I was definitely considering it at that point) before my midwife discovered Nate was face-first and not going to come out vaginally. ("Normal" babies come out head first, with their chins tucked to their chests. Nate was trying to look out where he was going and trying to come out face-first with the back of his head against his back.)

And I am planning to go for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). There is no reason for me not to. Once you have a C-section, you do get a bit of a choice, you can plan another, or try for the VBAC. My midwives told me that as long as there are no uterine problems, there are no reasons not to do the VBAC. So we'll see what happens. Not pregnant yet, so I don't really have to think about it too much. :) Everyone's different, but I don't understand women who choose to have C-sections (for their first births, I don't mean those who have one for whatever reason and then choose to have a second, that doesn't bother me at all). It's major abdominal surgery. I'd much rather have a sore cootchicoo than a giant incision in my stomach. And I didn't even have that much pain and healed really quickly! But still. Giant gash that needs staples and being told not to lift more than the weight of your baby and still having an 8-week "period" or some soreness "down there" and the same 8-week "period"? Well, it's your choice.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"What your baby may be doing"*

"By eleven months, your baby...

...should be able to:
  • get into a sitting position from stomach ... check
  • pick up tiny object with any part of thumb and finger ... check
  • understand "no" (but not always obey it) ... check and check
...will probably be able to:
  • play patty-cake (clap hands) or wave bye-bye ... check
  • walk holding on to furniture (cruise) ... check
  • point or gesture to something to get needs met ... check
...may possibly be able to:
  • pick up a tiny object neatly with tips of thumb and forefinger ... I think check
  • stand alone momentarily ... check, but then when he figures it out, he sits back down again
  • say "dada" or "mama" discriminately ... no check
  • say one word other than "mama" or "dada" ... no check
...may even be able to:
  • stand alone well ... no check
  • indicate wants in way other than crying ... like what?
  • "play ball" (roll ball back to you) ... check
  • drink from a cup independently ... check, if it counts that he's in the tub and drinking bathwater :) He's very good at it.
  • use immature jargoning (gibberish that sounds as if baby is talking a made-up foreign language) ... check - he babbles a lot, just not words that we understand
  • say three or more words other than "mama" or "dada" ... no check
  • respond to a one-step command without gestures ... check, sometimes anyway
  • walk well ... no check
*from What to Expect the First Year

If breastfeeding problems aren't enough, there are plenty of checklists that you can use to make yourself worry about your kid. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Got milk?

Let's talk about breastfeeding.

Seems like an ongoing theme from new mothers is how surprised they were that breastfeeding was so difficult. Now, I didn't have a hugely difficult time with breastfeeding. Yeah, I had some cracked nipples and minor latching issues, but really Nate was pretty good about it. But then the pediatrician said he wasn't gaining enough. (I think she overreacted, but whatever). So I freaked out. I felt like I wasn't good enough and I cried and cried because he wasn't eating enough and wasn't getting enough food (when probably he just pooped right before she weighed him). So we supplemented a little with formula. And then he was fine. And then we stopped supplementing with formula. And he was fine. And occasionally he'd get some formula and I was fine with it. The whole ordeal made me realize that there is so much pressure put on mothers these days to breastfeed. But there is nothing wrong with formula. Some women choose not to breastfeed, and that's fine! La Leche League is a little militant sometimes.

I think I gave poor Jen a hard time a bit as I came to terms. Now Nate gets most of his "milk" each day from formula. I think (I hope) I'll be much more easy going with the next one. There's definitely a period when the milk supply is ramping up and figuring out what is needed, but once breastfeeding is established, a bottle of formula here or there isn't going to ruin it. (At least not for me, there are women who do have supply issues, but I was not one, so I'm just speaking from personal experience).

My mom nursed me until 13 months and my brother until 10 or 11, so 13 has kind of been my goal. I decided that I should make myself smaller goals after I started back at work and realized that pumping was a pain in the butt. So my first goal was to pump and nurse until 6 months. Did it, okay. Then my next goal was to continue pumping the same number of times he had a bottle during the day while I was at work (twice) until after our summer vacation and then go down to 1. He was 9 months old at that point. Coincidentally, at the same time I decided to go down to 1 pumping a day, Nate went down to one feeding during the day. Cool. Next goal, 11 months until I stopped pumping at all during the day at work, so that I was just nursing morning and night. Coincidentally, Nate sometimes skips his daytime bottle and has more at the other feedings. So, now I'm just playing it by ear.

I do love the breastfeeding as a snuggly part of my day. Since I work during the week, I don't get a lot of alone time with him, so the nursing is some nice mom and Nate time. But. I think I'm ready to stop. I'm letting it happen at its own pace.

Friday, September 11, 2009

And here we go

Seems like everyone has a family blog these days. I've been wanting to do one, but now that Nate is 11 months old, I seem to finally have a chance to do what I've been wanting to do since he was born.

Tomorrow Nate and I are walking in the American Heart Association Start! Heart Walk in Boston. It's supposed to be cold and raw and rainy. We may do the shorter 3-mile route instead of the 6-mile route. I picked up one of those plastic bubbles for the stroller (okay, it's really just a cover) so that Nate won't get wet. They don't make those for adults though. I'll have to settle for a raincoat or an umbrella.