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Archive for the ‘Parenthood’ Category

We spend all spare time on the house since we moved in. So far it’s not overwhelming and mostly fun. We still have boxes and junk everywhere, and even though it immediately felt like home, we’re not settled yet. I know we don’t have to do everything right away, but I get hung up on ideas that I MUST get done or I can’t relax. I think I’m in full-on nesting mode, and with a new house, there’s a lot that needs to be…nested.

Last weekend we continued to paint the kitchen. It has been such a job because the previous owners had a wallpaper border that was not there when we moved in, but they left lots of glue residue behind that Mike had to dissolve and sand off. It’s still not done, but we’re taking a break because we couldn’t live with our kitchen like this anymore.

Here’s how the kitchen started:

We also finally painted the “master” bedroom. I had picked out a greenish grey color, but in the can it looked like really muddy grey. We decided to go for it anyway, and on the walls it actually looks like a light blue with grey undertones. The color is Valspar’s Woodlawn Sterling Blue. Duh, blue is in the name. Why am I surprised it looks blue? Turns out I love it though, especially with all the dark wood.

This one is a little more true to life:

It was just white before, so not a drastic change, but it classes up the joint.

(As a HUD home, this place didn’t come with any curtains, blinds or even curtain rods. We’re slowly working on that.)

Here it is before we moved in:

Last weekend we also put together the crib! My sister sold hers to me for a great price, and I was so eager to get it in the baby’s room so I could start to envision what the room might look like.

See that sticker on the bottom of the crib? It says INSIDE. Oopsies! We should probably fix that eventually.

Also, a few people have told us we should just keep the orange paint, and even though I love orange, it’s just not right for what I want to do in this room. Stay tuned to see what color paint we bought instead.

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More big news

Along with buying and moving into a new home, we’ve had another exciting thing happen in the last few months.

I’m pregnant.

In fact, I’m just over 20 weeks pregnant and due January 10. I’ve shared the news pretty far and wide, but not here. Since my ectopic pregnancy in January, I’ve been extremely sensitive to others who are struggling with fertility issues. I’ve tried to be careful about how and when I share my good news. I told my family and close friends right away, I told my colleagues around 12 weeks, and then word just spread from there.

I didn’t make a big “Facebook Announcement.” It never felt right to me. Facebook is this vast, impersonal space, and it just didn’t seem appropriate in my case. I haven’t tried to keep it a secret on Facebook — I’m sure many people have figured it out based on comments I’ve made on other posts, etc. But I didn’t think it would accomplish anything to fill a status update with this announcement.

Instead, after 20 weeks, I’m finally writing about it in this space, a much more personal space for me, and I’ll share the link on Facebook. In my head, at least, it’s less harsh for any of my FB friends who may be struggling themselves right now. I hope I’m right.

Yesterday, we had the 20 week ultrasound, and it was pretty incredible. We didn’t find out the sex, but we got to see our baby twist and turn and roll. I had two early ultrasounds — one at about 6 weeks to confirm the pregnancy was in the uterus, and one at about 9 weeks to find the heartbeat — but this was the first time it looked like a fully formed baby.

[Ultrasound pictures were always a bad trigger for me when I was in the depths of trying to conceive, so if they are for you, you’ll want to click away now.]

Last night we assembled the crib, and the combination of the ultrasound and the crib assembly… holy crap, we’re actually going to have a real, live baby in January. It’s what I wanted for so long, to become a mother, and now we’re so close.

I’m excited!

And I’m a little scared!

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For awhile I was one of those superstitious types who believed if you start planning for a baby, it’ll never happen. You have to pretend like it’s not gonna happen, then the world will surprise you. But after a few sessions of counseling and some other efforts to change my attitude toward the whole want-to-be-parents struggle, I decided it was ok to start operating like it was going to happen. Because it is. One way or another I’ll be a mother and Mike will be a father, and why not start doing some fun things to plan for it.

My first big move in that direction was to start thinking about a baby’s room. We’re not into a big Nursery Makeover thing, but we would like to provide a nice space for a future child. I wasn’t really going for a theme (I hate the question, “what’s the theme?” in regards to nurseries. Theme? The theme is sleep/cry/poop I guess.), but we do sort of have a thing with elephants and giraffes. My favorite animal has always been the elephant, and Mike has been called “my giraffe” since I met him. So that has unofficially moved it’s way into baby world. For instance, after discovering my first pregnancy (the ectopic, if you’re just joining us), Mike bought a set of bibs with giraffes on them and I bought a pair of baby pjs with elephants.

So anyway, recently my great grandmother moved into a new home and had to downsize her belongings. Among the knick knacks, I snagged an old clothes hamper covered in roses.

Everyone else passed it over, and I nearly did too. But then I had an inspiration. Recover it in cool fabric for a baby’s room! And my first nursery project was born. I looked around online and selected this fabric:

I decided if we were going to do elephants and giraffes, they had to be kind of classy. I call it classic whimsy. And this fabric fit the bill. It’s whimsical with the flowers and mushrooms and elephants helping them to grow with their trunks. But it’s classic in that it doesn’t look too childish nor too mature. Plus it had dark colors that would show the old pattern through.

First I removed the hamper lid with a screw driver, making sure to keep all the hardware nearby.

Then I wrapped the new fabric around the front of the hamper to the back. It wasn’t long enough to wrap all the way around, but luckily there was a board in the back I could easily staple into.

I didn’t bother making it look pretty in the back since it’ll be against a wall. But I just pulled the fabric taut and stapled all the way down on both sides. Then I flipped it on its head so the part that is normally on the floor was in the air. And I pulled the fabric taut and stapled all the way around, making sure to staple over creases and folds at the corners.

Once it was all stapled, I cut off the excess fabric. Then I laid it back down and got ready to staple the fabric at the top. I had a little help from Lennie on that one.

I also had to recruit Mike at this point. Because of the awkward angles, I couldn’t hold the fabric in place and also use the staple gun. So I held and he stapled. We just stapled to the inner rim of the top of the hamper. It was plastic instead of wood, which made it more difficult, but we figured it out.

Next I tackled the hamper lid. This part was tres easy. I just measured the fabric, place the lid in the center and pulled up from the middle on each side. I placed a staple on each side, then worked my way around, being careful to pull taut and staple down any pleats at the corners.

Once I finished the whole thing, I had to reattach the lip to the hamper with hardware I had kept handy.

And here is the finished product, open for business.

And for comparison:

  

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out. I love the fabric and the colors. It’s the perfect start to a future baby’s room. Right now it just sits in our spare bedroom, which will be the baby’s room if we have/get one while we’re still living here.

In the meantime, I’ve been scoping out and pinning other classic whimsy fabrics for when I get inspired to do my next someday-we’ll-have-a-baby project. Curtains? A pillow? Maybe even a blanket?

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While we’ve been dealing with this arduous process of trying to become parents, I’ve become incredibly sensitive to other people’s good fortune in the kid department. I’ve had a really hard time expressing why that is, and I think a lot of people misunderstand where I’m coming from. I tried to write about this elsewhere once, and I don’t think I did a very good job.

But a friend just pointed me to this infertility forum called Clomid and Cabernet (how apt), and the first thing I read was very appropriate for how I was feeling. It’s called Sensitivity Matters, and if you know anyone who is or may be struggling with infertility, or even if you don’t (because you probably do know someone, you just don’t know it), you should check it out.

I admit, I was pretty oblivious to all of this before I had my own struggles, so there’s no judgment or reprimanding here. Just education.

“While I don’t want to make unequal comparisons, there are some things in life that you just don’t joke about.  There are some topics that can only be taken seriously.  We all know what those are. I think that it’s time to increase our collective awareness about infertility, and take note of the fact that people around us are struggling.

While some of you will argue that those struggling with infertility should simply avoid things like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I believe that that mentality leaves these infertility warriors feeling even more isolated than they already are. “

(It should be noted that Mike and I are simultaneously pursuing conception, adoption and foster-to-adopt options. We are very open to how we become parents. But there seems to be more frequent disappointments with conception, and there seems to be more misunderstanding and insensitivity around that struggle than the others. Hence my sharing this.)

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We’ve been a little quiet around here. That’s because big things were happening that we weren’t sure how to write about in this venue, so we just didn’t write anything. I think there is enough distance now that I can at least share what’s going on.

Most of you probably know that Mike and I have been looking into adoption for quite some time. We’ve been researching and learning and saving our pennies, and earlier this month we finally applied!

But along with adoption, we decided to open our hearts and minds to the possibility of conception. I get frustrated when couples practically kill themselves to get pregnant and won’t even consider adoption as an option, but a little over a year ago I realized we were doing the same thing in reverse. We were so focused on adoption that we failed to even consider other options. So last February (2011) I went off birth control. We spent nearly a year not getting pregnant and also making very little progress with adoption, and it was incredibly frustrating.

Then, finally, in January, this happened:

A positive pregnancy test! We were very excited, but very cautious. Too many people close to me had experienced miscarriages and other misfortunes recently to not be nervous. And sure enough, a mere three days after that test I started spotting. A week after that test my doctor confirmed it was a miscarriage.

We were devastated. After so many months of negative tests, it was such a relief to see a positive, and it was all gone in a flash. We had hardly processed the idea of being pregnant before it was over.

But it gets worse.

I went in for regular blood tests to make sure my hcg levels were decreasing as they should, but turns out they weren’t. They were also nowhere near the levels they should be for a normal, healthy pregnancy. Which means a pregnancy had taken hold somewhere in my body, just not where it was supposed to. It’s called an ectopic pregnancy.

I endured many blood tests, many uncomfortable ultrasounds, and finally a couple shots of methotrexate to dissolve whatever was left. From start to finish, from positive pregnancy test to hcg levels back to normal, it took nearly two months.

It has been exhausting, and while we try to remain positive about the future, we are sad and frustrated by how difficult it has been for us to become parents when so many others have no trouble at all. We like to think we are wide open to the possibilities — we don’t care how our child comes to us, we just want to be a mom and a dad. But the universe is really making us work for it.

As I said, we have officially applied for adoption. And we are officially trying again to get pregnant. I hope we have some good news really soon.

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Circumnavigation

“Would you want to have our son(s) circumcised?”

When Shannon asked me this recently, I froze. I had no idea. My instinct was to say ‘yes,’ but I think it was only because it’s what I know. I’d always heard that uncircumcised penises are unsanitary, they look weird, etc. But I’d never really thought about it, and had certainly not researched it.

After some brief research on a reasonably trusted website, I’ve discovered some information.

First, the sanitation argument. It is harder to keep the head of the penis clean in an uncircumcised boy. This is true, but ultimately not a factor. It comes down to simply teaching the boy how to keep it clean. We are a civilization with easy access to soap, water, and personal hygiene products. So, not that big of a deal.

However, it also seems that circumcision leads to a decreased risk of urinary tract infections, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer, cervical cancer in female sexual partners, and some inflammatory diseases. Although, risk of a lot of these issues can also be reduced by hygiene and medical knowledge, so it’s kind of a wash.

There are medical institutions studying the myth that circumcision leads to increased sexual sensitivity. According to the department of urology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, it’s about even. There are apparently lots of factors that affect sensitivity (and circumcision may be one of them), but most of the factors are negligible. So, that’s not much of a factor…but it is weird to think about the sexual satisfaction of our unborn, hypothetical son.

So then there’s the risks of circumcision. It supposedly can be complicated. According to the CDC, two thirds of males in the US are circumcised at birth. So, after actual birth, it sounds like the most common pediatric procedure in medicine. The biggest risk is infection, which is usually non-existent and sometimes minor and local. About 1 in 200 circumcisions result in minor infection, inflammation, etc. However, the risks become greater as the child gets older. So, not too risky, unless we wait.

Finally, the pain. This one is pretty one-sided. It definitely hurts. A lot. So, the biggest decision is whether or not we want to subject our 1-day-old infant son to excruciating pain and a wound that takes up to a week to heal. It’s kind of funny, because that argument seems to make the decision, and yet 2/3 of parents get past it, so it must not be that bad, right?

Besides physical pain, there’s the emotional aspects. A friend, upon discussion of uncircumcised men, admitted that her reaction might be “what the hell is that?” She told us that friends of hers kept their son’s foreskin, and our friend’s husband referred to it as “the ant-eater.” A commenter on a website I read admitted that, as an uncircumcised high-school student, his locker-room nickname was “flappy.” So, there’s definitely a social side to the issue that we have to consider. I might hate my parents if they did not circumcise me and it lead to a nickname like that.

Of course, this whole discussion may end up being moot, since an adopted son might already be circumcised. So, we may have the decision taken from us. Although, since circumcision is much less common in other parts of the world, it we adopt internationally, it might become a bigger decision, since he might (probably will)  be older than 1 day old.

So, no decisions yet.  Obviously we don’t need a decision yet, so that’s ok.

Thoughts?

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Baby name bible

In light of recent developments on the baby naming issues, I really want this book. Actually I’ve wanted that book for a long time, but now I REALLY want it. I read babynamewizard.com regularly and would love to add the printed version to my bookshelf. Actually, who am I kidding? I’d being poring over it so often it would never actually be on the bookcase.

(Apparently there’s something covetous about the book with the pink dot on the cover. The one in the link above at Amazon doesn’t have the pink dot. Not sure what the difference is though.)

I feel a little silly buying it when there’s not exactly a baby on the horizon though. I mean yes, hopefully in the nearish future, but right now I’d just be a crazy lady who reads baby name books for fun. Not that I mind being a crazy lady, and not that I really think it’s that crazy to obsess over baby names (because hello, I already do, even without the book), but given that we’ve been working really hard to save money and cut extraneous expenses… well this just seems a bit too extraneous.

Maybe someday. Soon?

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