Ben has developed a hobby. It involves putting his (or my) things into Achilles’ basket.

One of his bibs.

My water bottle.

His sippy cup.

His jingly monkey.

The top of his shape sorting box.

His pinwheel.

A picture of a clownfish.

Are they gifts? Is he starting a collection? Is it installation art? I tried asking, but his only answer was “Bah bah buh boo! Wuh.” I suppose we’ll have to wait until he learns to speak before we can know the answer.

Of course, his very favorite thing to put into the basket is himself, whether or not it’s already occupied.

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Nine Months!

Which means, of course, I haven’t touched this poor blog in over three months. That’s awful! But, rather than dwell on that, let’s just get to an update, shall we?

Benjamin is nine months old now, which is just astonishing to me. He weighs 17 lbs 7 oz, and is 27 in tall. So little! Who ever would have thought that I would have a little baby? I should find out how big my cousin’s son H was when he was born – he’s the only other small baby to ever be born into my dad’s family, that I’m aware of, and his mother is very petite. I hope Ben sprouts up when he gets older!

Let’s talk milestones! In the last three months, Benjamin has learned to crawl, pull himself to standing, climb up the stairs, walk with only one hand’s assistance, and cruise pretty much wherever he wants to go. He even took two unassisted steps on the 19th, four days into his tenth month!

He’s got four teeth now, too. His first two came in almost simultaneously. This is the first photo I got of his brand new teeth!

They’ve gotten quite tall since then.

I don’t have any photos of the top teeth yet, because he’s such a ham and always poses when I take his picture. I have trouble getting candid photos, too, because as soon as he sees the camera, he crawls right up to it!

Here’s a self-portrait we did together.

So, there you go! And since I have been doing a little bit of knitting and a little bit of oboeing, I’ll try to get back to this space a little more often. Because really, what good is a journal if it’s mostly empty?

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Six Months!

Our little one has been in the world for six months now. It’s just amazing to me how much he’s changed in so little time! He’s becoming such a person. He laughs when he thinks something is funny, he can sit up by himself, he can reach for whatever it is that he wants (usually, that’s whatever we’re holding). He’s started putting his arms out when he wants to be picked up.

At his six-month checkup, he weighed in at 15 pounds 6 ounces, and measured 26 inches tall. He grew a pound, and two inches, in just two months! Amazing!

To celebrate his half-birthday, we gave Ben his very first taste of solid food last night, avocado. We laughed so much!

At first, all went well. He already likes to stick spoons into his mouth.

Then he actually got a taste of the food.

He kept coming back for more, though.

In the end, he made a fine mess, which he was eager to share with everyone.

Thank goodness for baths!

Bonus photo: The first flower of spring!

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Hello Again!

I actually have several drafts started, but instead I’m just going to write a silly little post, because I want to, and to get back into the swing of things, hopefully. I’ve missed writing! It’s amazing how little time I spend in front of the computer these days. But I’m sure learning a lot! For example:

Things I can now do well with a baby in my arms:
– Read the internet (for a few minutes, anyway)
– Type an e-mail or two
– Assemble a sandwich
– Fix a cup of coffee
– Eat a sandwich or something non-messy that can be cut with a fork
– Drink my morning coffee, if he’s not too squirmy
– Vacuum
– Fill the animals’ food and water bowls
– Carry a laundry basket up or down the stairs
– Make phone calls
– Set up my classroom for a workshop, including moving chairs

Things I can now (usually) do with a baby in my arms, if I must:
– Eat yogurt or applesauce out of a small container
– Eat a salad or other slightly messy food
– Clean up a baby-induced food spill
– Brush my teeth
– Put laundry into the washing machine
– Write in my calendar
– Move a table in the classroom
– Pump (I feel like a supermom when I pull this one off!)

Things I cannot do now that I have a baby:
– Sleep for more than three hours at a stretch
– Sometimes, sleep for more than one hour at a stretch
– Remember a darn thing! (probably related to the above)
– Keep a schedule
– Leave the house with less than 1.5 – 2 hrs preparation (and no matter how early I start, I always seem to be five minutes late!)
But, most importantly,
– Imagine life without him. Having a baby was the best decision we ever made!

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9/16 and 9/17

I remember that we had quite a few visitors on Wednesday, though I can’t be sure exactly who. I know my mom came again, probably Dad too. My brother and sister-in-law came, and got in trouble for bringing their youngest with them (no non-sibling kids under 12 are allowed on that floor). Grandma came up either Wednesday or Thursday morning. My cousin came on Thursday, I think – I know she was there when we filled out the birth certificate.

Starting Tuesday night, we basically lost all sense of time. We lived in approximately two hour cycles, feeding and changing Ben when he needed it, and either cuddling him or trying to sleep the rest of the time. Nurses were in and out at all hours. I know there were some tears, and some troubling with the early feedings, as well as some successes. I remember being completely exhausted, and very sore. Mostly I remember being so grateful that Dan was there with me, helping me get in and out of bed, and changing all of the diapers.

Thursday, though. Oh, Thursday. On Thursday, we found out that Ben was too jaundiced.

Sleeping soundly

He was so jaundiced that he had to be in a light box for eight hours. It was torture on all of us. All he wanted in the world was to be held, or at least wrapped up tight in his blanket. But instead, he was totally exposed and alone inside that box, with his eyes covered (to protect them, of course) so that he couldn’t even see what was happening to him.

In the blue box

We tried to soothe him with a pacifier, and by putting our hands into the box to hold his hand or rub his belly or stroke his hair. None of it helped, though. He cried and cried. I cried and cried. He couldn’t settle down enough to nurse, so I had to pump what I could, then give him some formula as well. It was devastating. We were breaking all of the rules for establishing breastfeeding, of course, which was very difficult to handle, but mostly I just couldn’t stand that he was so upset and I had no way of telling him that it was going to be okay. It was only his second day out in the world, and it was miserable for him. I am grateful, though, that he was allowed to stay in our room with us. He didn’t have to go to the NICU or anything like that.

Again, a lot of details are blurry, and I have no good sense of the actual timeline, but we made it through the day somehow and were discharged sometime after 10:00 on Thursday night. Even though the jaundice was far from gone, he was allowed to leave. We had an appointment scheduled for Saturday.

Getting dressed for home

We scrambled around, gathering up all of our belongings. We also ended up calling my mom and asking her to help us get home. I needed a little bit of extra support, plus I figured an extra pair of hands couldn’t hurt.

Just about to leave the hospital

By the time we got home it was after 11. But we were home!

Home at last

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On Monday the 14th, I went in for a final ultrasound. He was squished in there so tightly that the tech had a hard time getting accurate measurements, and could only say that he was probably between 7 and 9 pounds. My doctor decided that that was big enough, and he was late enough, that she wanted to induce. She prefers to have her patients deliver no more than a week beyond their due dates.

I was kind of uncomfortable with that decision, but I decided to accept it because the stress of waiting was starting to drive me pretty crazy. So, before leaving the office, I had an appointment for 8:00 am on 9/15.

I called Dan and had him come home to spend the rest of the day with me. I needed the moral support. We got the last few things packed and had sushi for dinner to celebrate our last night as a family of two.

On Tuesday morning Dan made me a light breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, and we headed to the hospital (with a quick stop at the grocery store so he could pick up a couple of snacks).

We checked in at about 8:15 and were set up in a room on the labor and delivery floor. By 9:30 I was hooked up to the pitocin and the fetal monitor, and we settled in. I was ready for a long, long wait, based on my sister-in-law’s experience and stories I’d heard from other friends about induced deliveries. I had some knitting with me, a book, and even had my mom go out to get me a copy of Scribblenauts, which came out that day, so I could play it while we waited.

At about 11:30, after two dosage increases, I was told that the baby wasn’t tolerating the pitocin very well and they were going to shut it off. Later, we’d see where my contractions were and reassess the situation then.

Dan went for lunch a little after noon. While he was gone, the doctor came in to say that my contractions weren’t progressing and she wanted to break my water. I asked if I should call my husband. She said, “no, it’s quick, no big deal.” Five seconds later, it was done, and holy crap. Yeah. I was not prepared for what exactly was involved. There is a lot of fluid in the amniotic sac. A lot. Seriously.

So there I was, trying not to panic, praying for Dan to get back quickly. He finally did, and was able to calm me down.

At 2:30, I was having contractions regularly every minute or two. I was dilated to 4 cm. It wasn’t terrible, but had moved a bit beyond uncomfortable.

At 3:00 or so I asked for the pain medication. It helped.

At 4:50 I was dilated to 5 cm.

At 5:03 I was dilated to 8 cm. I think it was at this point that I asked for more pain meds, because things had gotten really painful. I was told that even though it had in fact been two hours and my first dose had worn off, I couldn’t have any more because I was too close to delivery. I was not pleased with that answer, as you can imagine.

At this point, then nurse stepped out into the hall to have the doctor come in. By the time the doctor made it into the room (5:05?) I was at 10 cm and it was time to push!

I have to admit, I yelled. I swore. I had a hard time focusing, because everything was happening really quickly. All I could really do was grab onto Dan’s hand on one side and the bedrail on the other, and try to follow instructions. The doctor had to tell me to stop yelling and put that energy into pushing instead. I managed to do it after a couple of tries.

After a few minutes, the monitor showed that the baby’s heartrate was fluctuating. He wasn’t handling the contractions as well as the doctor wanted. She decided to help him out by using the vacuum extraction. I agreed right away, because of course I wanted him to be safe, even though I had really wanted to do it by myself.

Two more pushes, I think, and he was out. It was 5:18, barely 10 minutes since the doctor had stepped into the room. I don’t remember hearing his first cry, but Dan does.

They put him on my chest right away, after just a quick wipe. I remember it, but not well. It’s sort of a blur. After a few minutes they took him across the room to be cleaned up and examined, and weighed, I think.

Brand new Ben!

Pretty soon, he was in Dan’s arms and they were both right next to me. The doctor and nurses left us alone for a little while, which was such a relief. We looked at him, and at each other, and talked a little I think, but I don’t know what we said. I do know, though, that we had to decide on a name. We’d each arrived at the hospital that morning with a different first choice, and Dan had talked me into waiting until we met him to decide. I didn’t think for a minute that it would make a bit of difference, but it really did. When I saw my little boy, I knew that Benjamin was the name that fit him best.

True love

A while later, they took Benjamin to have his full exam and a bath. In the meantime, I was moved to a recovery room. We made a ton of phone calls, and my parents came up to visit us and meet Benjamin. My dad also brought dinner for Dan, who’d not made it to the cafeteria before it closed at 6:30. Everyone stayed long enough to hold Ben and hear about our day, then left so we could get a little rest and start adjusting to our new little family.

My new love

And that’s how Benjamin David was born at 5:18 pm on September 15, 2009. He weighed 6 pounds 13 ounces and measured 20 inches.

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09/09/09 has come and gone…

[Just a warning before you start reading: this is long and disorganized, but I needed to get some thoughts out of my head.]

So, as most of you already know, I missed my due date. Yesterday was really, really stressful for me, for a lot of reasons, and I want to try to talk about why, as a way of processing all of these emotions.

On some level, I’d been utterly convinced that he was going to be born on Sept. 9, even though I knew, intellectually, how statistically unlikely that was. But everything else about this pregnancy (okay, except for the crash, but even that turned out just fine) has been charmed, and it was the most beautiful due date I could possibly have asked for, so of course he would be born then.

I felt pretty panicked when I woke up yesterday, and the panic never quite went away all day. It got stronger or weaker, and I was scared of different things at different times, but I never did manage to relax.

At first, of course, I was afraid I’d go into labor at any moment. Mostly, as far as that goes, I’m afraid that Dan won’t make it home in time. I know that’s probably silly, that I’ll likely have much more than an hour and a half between starting labor and delivering the baby, but it scares me anyway to have him so far away. That’s why I’d been hoping to wake up with contractions in the middle of the night. When that hadn’t happened, I got worried.

I tried my best to relax. I skipped out on work, took a hot shower, and decided I would feel better if I was outside, so I went for a walk. I also figured that couldn’t hurt my goal of getting labor started. I pushed myself too far, though, and all I ended up with was a blister and sore hips. I have to admit, I felt calmer afterwards, though.

In the afternoon I had to deal with more fears about labor itself. Those aren’t going to go away until this is all over, but they’re usually at the back of my mind.

Anyway, as it got later and later, I started to realize that this baby was probably not going to be born before midnight, especially since the closest contractions I’d had all day were 20 minutes apart, and that was only about three of them. The rest were almost entirely random, and not very strong at all.

So all of a sudden I’m hugely conflicted about what I want. First, I’m incredibly anxious to meet this little boy, and I was so sure that this was going to be the day. And I’m physically very tired from hauling this unbalanced weight around. My joints hurt, I can’t sleep well, there are so many things I can’t do for myself. Besides, I’m really, really looking forward to being a mom. I’m so excited about having a new baby in the house and watching him grow. I’m excited to teach him, and play with him, and see who he becomes. I want to take him places, show him things, sing to him, read to him, watch him play games with his dad. I’m ready to start this new part of my life.

But I’m afraid of the actual process of labor, I’m afraid Dan won’t be there yet when I need him, I’m afraid something could go wrong. I’m afraid I won’t know what to do with him once he’s here. I’m afraid I’ll forget something important, or do something wrong, or that he’ll cry all the time, or that I will, and any number of other things.

And then there’s the fact that I am loving being pregnant. Like I mentioned earlier, this has been an utterly charmed pregnancy. A Christmas conception, no morning sickness to speak of, no extra weight gain (as a matter of fact, I’m slimmer everywhere except in the belly and the bust), no heartburn or breathing problems or blood pressure issues or sugar issues or anything at all. I’ve napped nearly every day for the past nine months, but beyond the fatigue and some joint and back pain, I’ve had almost none of the standard pregnancy complaints. I’ve loved watching my belly grow, I’ve loved feeling him wiggle around, I’ve loved the attention, I’ve loved all of the preparations. I’m going to be very sad for this time to be over.

I’ve always loved periods of preparation. Lent and Advent are my very favorite seasons of the church year, just as autumn and spring are my favorite seasons of the calendar year. Sure, I enjoy Easter and Christmas, but I enjoy the anticipation and reflection even more. I enjoy marking off the progress towards a special event. Instead of four weeks of Advent, or 40 days of Lent, I got to have 40 weeks – 40 weeks! – of pregnancy to count down. And sure, some of the appeal of these things are the fact that they’re temporary. Every moment needs to be enjoyed, because before you know it, they’ll be gone.

But those other things – Lent, Advent, fall, spring – they come back again every year. I may well never be pregnant again. And even if we do decide to have a second child – and it really is an if – that will certainly be the last time.

So here I am, anxious to move on with the next stage, and hesitant to leave this one behind. Swinging wildly between these two places, and feeling completely helpless and out of control. (The crazy hormones aren’t helping anything, either.) I know that it’s only a matter of days, but I don’t know how many days. All I can do is wait, but I’m not even sure exactly what it is I’m waiting for. I feel like I’m treading water, and I have no other options. Should I be going to work? Am I wasting my precious time off for nothing? Or am I right to take these last couple of days for myself? I’ve been concerned, since my wreck on Aug. 10, that he would come early, but now all of a sudden I’m concerned he’ll be so late that I have to be induced. I don’t want that! But on the other hand, at least then I’d have a date set and wouldn’t feel quite so adrift.

I guess, in the end, after all my talk of loving transition seasons and anticipation, I have to admit that it is at least in part because I’m not a big fan of surprises. I want to know what’s going to happen next and when – and with this, I don’t know either of those things. That’s a lot of why I’m so stressed, and why I’m so disappointed that my due date was not my delivery date. So to cope, I’m just trying to take it one day – sometimes, one hour – at a time. I can’t make any real plans, but the few, tentative ones I have made have helped. I had lunch with Mom today after my OB appointment, and we decided that tomorrow either I’ll have the baby or we’ll go to the movies. And on Saturday, either I’ll have the baby or we’ll go to her house and help her with some computer stuff. It’s not ideal, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s better than nothing.

And in the mean time, I’ll wait.

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