Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Friday, April 29, 2011

ddesk

How has Declan made his mark on the planet these past 2 weeks?

At the doc's, he weighed in at 7 lbs 9 oz, gaining nearly a pound from his teensy 6 lbs 14 oz debut.
Nowhere on his little milestone sheet did they account for his new chin. We worked hard for that chin! Despite his being only in the 24th percentile for weight, baby boy is chowing down like one of those professional hot dog eaters.
He is in the 65th percentile for height. Sadly, again, there is no marker for foot size, as my child would likely rank in the percentile reserved for Croatian basketball players traded to the NBA. Or skyscrapers.

Big feet, people. I see my future, and it is me screaming at a pile of giant, festering Converse while Declan hunches over the refrigerator, eating peanut butter from a jar, possibly wearing frayed highwater pants a la The Hulk. He comes from tall people. I fear I will soon be surrounded by a family of knees.

And how did mama rank at D's first visit? Did I manage to avoid shearing off the passenger side mirror on our inaugural trip to the doc? No rookie mistake of calling the doc because my child is (gasp!) hiccuping?

We just asked one question: why does our son sound like a broken clarinet solo while nursing? Because D was conked out, Caleb cued up the recording he made on his phone (how did I parent before apps?), and we all hovered around it, alternating staring at the phone and the doc who looked appropriately meditative. When the HONKS and ZINGS finally finished (think Dick Van Dyke's one man band in Mary Poppins - no zen nursing for me, thank you), he laughed and said while he'd never heard anything quite like it (strangely stirring some maternal pride), baby boy was eating and gaining just fine. And that was it. No more questions.

I wanted to leave with my own worksheet, show the world my gold stars and stickers for keeping my collective shit together these first three weeks. How magical parenting is when the soul crushing fear is stripped away!

Harlow arrived in a new house in a new (old) city to new parents who had no fucking clue. I still marvel that the human race survived, that we flourished despite those early days of severe sleep deprivation, self doubt, and the constant spector of accidentally killing your child dogging every single move. I simply didn't understand these parents who claimed to be "blissed out" and marinating in sweet love hormones with the new baby. Horrible Things lurked around every corner. My life was over. Who was I? Had I ever even been someone before?

Friends ask if I am just head over heels and just loving being a mom again, and I can say - cautiously - yes. I now understand the signs of postpartum depression. I understand that I had been holding my breath for months, cutting contact with friends, hunkering down, simply waiting to see if the crazy-making cocktail of hormones was going to strike again. Yet so far, so good. Really good. I feel...normal. Like giving birth this time around course-corrected for smooth sailing, not batshit crazy. Because of that freedom, I truly understand the gift of the second kid, because I now have permission to enjoy it. I laugh at his sweet cries. I know when to ask for breaks. And I give extra hugs to his sister, because I still glimpse the sweet baby she was inside the beautiful girl she has become, and I want them both to know that mama is feeling just fine.

2 weeks

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

baby grizz

Maybe it was day 4 or day 11 - time has swirled into one giant neurochemical smoothie- I was headed toward the stairs with baby boy still swinging off one breast when I paused at the front door. A mother robin stood on the front porch with a worm clinched in her beak. She looked at me. I looked at her. Judging by her four fat babies jostling for room in the nest conveniently perched in the magnolia, she'd been at it for weeks. I wearily saluted her and trudged toward the nearest diaper changing station. The nest has been a fun teaching tool. Harlow and I have sat on the porch and watched mama and daddy Robin (he of the more brightly colored orange breast) dutifully zigzagging the yard in pursuit of baby food. I watched the nest long after Harlow returned to her gardening and gravel road building (my own little corps of engineers). The babies were so impossibly big in that nest but so strangely quiet, casually holding their beaks wide in expectation but what - already too bored to make a fuss about it? Spoiled from the constant on demand delivery?

I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised but I was startled to step outside the other day and find the nest empty. Babies had flown the coop. But that didn't stop Mama (Daddy? The orange breast was ragged and dirty from the torrential rains and mud) from returning to the nest with more offerings. I am knocked sideways from sleep deprivation and a witches brew of hormones so I am about as vulnerable as my newborn, but that was the saddest thing I had ever seen. Well into the afternoon the robin continued the search for food, perching on that empty nest for a long beat before setting off on yet another fool's errand.

I gathered up Harlow and kissed her until she swatted me away. The days are long but the years fly by. I shall tattoo it on my eyelids.

Week 1

Thursday, April 21, 2011

D helps with the laundry

We take our child labor very seriously here at Casa Sweazy


Some observations on Declan Grey's first week on the planet:

1. People are really excited that I reproduced "properly"

The folks at the hospital, from the nurses to orderlies to my favorite - the men and women who announced themselves as "Dietary" as they waltzed into my room bearing dinner - are frickin thrilled for me that I now have a son to pair with my daughter.

"You've properly reproduced yourself!" the nurse who wheeled me to the front door announced. The bleary-eyed young father who rode down with us agreed. "A daughter AND a son. THAT's how it's done," he affirmed. It was as if I'd scored perfectly on a test I had no idea I was taking. Surely this is just the party line. What would they have said to me if I'd had another daughter? "How sweet that you now have two creatures that will one day rise at 5 AM to do their hair before school!"

2. Sometimes when feeding my kid, I notice that he resembles a tiny Sir John Gielgud, and then I very quickly try to think about anything else. He happens to share a birthday with SJG, so maybe it's a subliminal thing. He also shares a birthday with Adolf Hitler and Baby Doc Duvalier so I will be watching closely for signs of vegetarianism and the urge to express oneself by painting. Or mass murder.

3. Declan falls asleep with his eyes open. This is hilarious when not absolutely creepy. One minute he's staring at you with those big eyes and hey! He's smiling...followed by his eyes rolling back in his head and facial twitching that makes him look like the little girl from the Exorcist. I hope this trait actually sticks around through his teenaged years. I forsee him being very popular at sleepovers, not to mention overnight dates with ladyfriends.

4. It is my mission in life to fatten this kid up. Do you remember in Muppets Take Manhattan when Kermit pedals his bike through Central Park? Those impossibly string bean legs? Kermit's legs are like Beyonce's compared to this kid. I think he is up to about a gallon of milk a day (estimates based on the volume and scope of the volcanic reef that used to be my breasts) and I think he has added a chin and improved vision but those legs! Maybe under the milky white skin and blonde hair, a secret Kenyan is yearning to break free. Stranger things have happened.

Birthday Boy Pt 1

Monday, April 18, 2011

tiny

Just like before, it's quiet, here on the otherside.

Declan is asleep (DECK-lan, for the curious) It's what he does best, eat and sleep. My son, (my SON!) already a champion on his fourth day of life. Honestly I wish he would wake up, because it's kinda boring having already caught up on my DVR and laundry. I'm seriously considering scrubbing some toilets because they're not going to clean themselves and clearly, I've got some time. So wake up little man!

And should I just go ahead and tell you?

Don't hate me.

He slept for six hours last night*.

(It's ok if you hate me. My boobs - I mean, the Twin Mt. Vesuviai, LOATHE me)

I feel ok telling you this because I know its not going to happen again. I fully expect to have about an hour of sleep tonight, so I'm just reveling in this awakened state.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ultimately it would not be the pineapple or the spicy food or the sex or the marathon walking that brought Declan into the world but a scheduled trip to the hospital. I NEVER thought I would go past my due date. When I found myself revving up into contractions and still no baby after the 11th, I was still in disbelief. Disbelief that the appointment I'd made for my induction on the 14th would actually stand. (I actually laughed at the lady who called from the clinic, merrily informing her that sure, 7:15 on the 14th sounded fine as if I would ACTUALLY BE THERE) Sure I would get tickets for my husband and daughter to see a show at the Orpheum on the 15th. Sure it was fine for Caleb to play a show later that day on the 15th. Baby would be here for at least a week at that point.

But then I was staring down the 14th, and baby just wasn't coming out.

I didn't want to be induced. My daughter was induced because of my "high risk" pregnancy, and I wanted to let this kiddo come on his/her own. My doc didn't, and there will always be a part of me that will be sad over that fact. But I don't want my own birthing insecurities/fear of judgement on how he came into the world (truly - how odd there is such a thing) color what was an amazing day.

Three hours after my labor began, I was fully dilated and ready to push and laughing. I don't even remember what he said, but my amazing man held my hand, cracked jokes, and over the chorus of nurses chanting for me to push, his voice guided me and helped me laugh and cry my beautiful boy into the world. Harlow came in with her dad, took one look at brother, and promptly announced that he couldn't come into her room. She's already taking her big sister duties very seriously.

Little man is tiny. 6 pounds 14 ozs and skin that puddles around his knees and ankles as if he was wearing a suit that needed to be tailored. We may finally spring for preemie diapers as he is swallowed up by the newborn kind. He is blonde as his sister with grey-blue eyes that just aren't open enough to my liking. I don't even dare to judge his temperament after only 4 days, but currently he is calm and sweet, just a mellow soul who I want to inhale. I didn't realize how much I missed that new baby smell.

*24 hours after I wrote this I can confirm that this was a one time performance, no repeat feat of magic

Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

There's a conversation Caleb and I had that I replay over and over in my head. We'd had one of our numerous "should we/shouldn't we have another kid" discussions and almost in passing he said, "It's not like there's some kid that's just waiting on us to be born."

In that moment, right or wrong, I absolutely believed that there was.

Not long afterwards, just out of the shower, I remember pausing in my closet and urgently needing to have a conversation with said baby.

Things are good, I told him. (I said him because I felt like I was addressing the son I wondered if I was fated to parent.)

I like my life. I like this threesome. Things are good. Why invite change?

So if you are going to show up, I told him, it needs to be soon. Really soon before I lose my courage and close this door forever.

I got pregnant that night.

And 10 months later, he's finally here and so, so worth it.

Declan Grey Sweazy, meet the world.

Nana's grandson

photo by Nana

D Day

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dear Baby,

Today is the day you have been predicted to arrive. While I apparently arrived a day early, I don't expect any child of mine to be punctual, so I'm not getting my hopes up.

But look at your sister. She is so impatient!

waiting

She really wanted you to come Sunday night. I think this is mainly so she could get out of school and spend the day getting spoiled by her grandparents, but why quibble. She wants to meet you!

I'm ready to meet you too. So is daddy. We have spent most of the weekend looking at my contraction app (I know! They make an app for everything, right?), watching it rev up (along with our hopes) and then eventually slow down. You, for one, don't like all the squeeziness and tend to thrash around until the next one comes, which is about every 20 minutes. For the past 72 hours. Not that I'm counting. I spent most of my time hiding out from the heat and pollen and wonderful friends who can't believe you are still in my belly and not in my arms. But the longer you stall, the more movies in theaters I get to see, the more "No, this decadent, giant dinner out will be my last" I gobble away. So it's a win-win.

So you take your time. But not too long. I'd rather you come out on your own, kicking and screaming, then be forced out, you know, kicking and screaming.

And look who you get to play with. You're gonna love her. She's gonna love you. So forget what I said. Hurry up and get here already!

by Chip Chockley

slide photo by uber talented Chip Chockley

The Makeover: Phase 2

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I suppose this is the equivalent of the spray tan.

white house

I was initially a little scared to go all white, but I think it looks pretty kick ass.

Next week: some azaleas, some hydrangeas, and probably a baby.

Old Wives Tale Test: eggplant parm

Friday, April 8, 2011

(or basil and oregano and papaya juice with a little nipple stimulation for good measure)

The Old Wives Tale:

Eating eggplant parmesan will trigger labor

Report:

There are myriad stories on the internet about women going into labor after eating a salad from an LA trattoria or diving into a plate of eggplant parmesan at a Georgian Italian joint.

The thing both of these recipes have in common? Basil and oregano. For some reason, the fresh herbs are thought to have something to do with kickstarting labor, and it provides some solace to those living outside LA and Georgia and can't get the actual item off the menu. So I aimed for the next best thing - a pizza from Trolley Stop Cafe loaded with fresh oregano and basil.

pizza

I've also turned up stories about papaya juice having similar properties, so that was my beverage of choice along with the pizza. One giant slice and half later, I felt full. Still pregnant. Took a bath with the kiddo, climbed up on the bed to comb her hair, and then tried to move. Miss Buzzy Lightyear all Infinity and Beyonded into her bedroom, and I just sat there on my bed, stuck in my pretzel position, fat, bloated, in pain, and now just full of pizza and miserable. I broke down into tears, and Caleb eventually came along and helped me off the bed. After kiddo went to sleep, I had a couple of contractions, which, at this point is like breathing they happen so often without being productive. Eager to help them along, I did the one thing that many sites claim WILL work but must be done with caution - playing Tune in Tokyo with your own tatas. Googling with one hand and twisting away with the other, I'll be damned if the contractions didn't get stronger. The idea is that nipple stimulation produces oxytocin, the same hormone that triggers milk letdown while the baby breastfeeds and promotes contractions. Spooked, I quickly stopped, doing some calculations. Did I REALLY want to go into labor at 10:30 at night having just popped a sleep-inducing Zyrtec for my horrendous allergies? Phone up the parents at 3 in the morning to come collect the kiddo and generally sleep deprive everybody on the phone tree?

I let it go. Er, literally.

Conclusions:

Basil and oregano make for excellent pizza and parmesan toppings. Nipple stimulation can most certainly cause contractions - not necessarily strong enough to get labor going successfully, but enough to warrant some caution. As in, why don't you try this on a full night's sleep with a babysitter lined up and not, say, after gorging on pizza during a failed science experiment at 10:30 at night.

Old Wives Tale Tests: pedicure

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Old Wives Tale:

Getting a pedicure (and complimentary acupressure leg massage) will trigger labor

Location of test: Pro Nails in Spottswood/Target shopping Center

Report:

The theory goes that there exists points on the feet and legs that when stimulated can cause labor to begin. Perhaps this is due to massage releasing oxytocin into the bloodstream, the "cuddle" drug that also regulates orgasm, nursing letdown and yup, contractions. The Chinese believe that acupressure and acupuncture move the chi (or life force) throughout the body, so maybe stimulating these points would be akin to hotwiring a car to get it started. I figured this test was a win, win. If it works, I get a baby. If it doesn't work, I get a relaxing massage and cute toes...about the only thing cute on my body at this point. I didn't share my theory with my pedicurist, afraid that I might somehow sway her usual technique and skew the results.

I wish I had been more forthcoming.

I saw her grab the pink lotion bottle and I closed my eyes, ready for some relaxation. She started in with about 10 brisk punches to the soles of my feet. Let me repeat - for no immediately clear reason she was PUNCHING ME IN THE FOOT. BALLED FISTS. REPEATEDLY. I about dropped my OK! Magazine into my foot bath as I tried to steady myself and make sure that I hadn't somehow mistakenly offended her. I just tried to hold on until she worked out whatever she needed to get out of her system. Finally finished with the Mike Tyson to my arches, she grabbed hold of the webbed part of my toe between the big toe and his neighbor.

Good, I thought. That is a spot acupuncturists typically avoid for fear of triggering labor. She squeezed down. Hard. While the baby didn't move, I thought my heart might explode due to the amount of adrenaline flooding my bloodstream. After a few hearty squeezes, she let go of the toes and dove into the fascia on my arches. Now I've had significantly painful bodywork performed in the past. Due to a really nasty neck injury years ago, I underwent multiple sessions of rolfing, bodywork that purports to realign the body only using the practioner's hands. Imagine having someone massage you with a giant nail.

I think my pedicurist might have taken some classes.

The fascia on anyone's feet are already sensitive because they are a big bundle of nerves. But having a good 40 extra pounds flattening them down repeatedly made them in no mood to be messed with. Instantly it felt like someone lit a match and held it up to my foot. I think I may have actually whimpered because we made eye contact and she quickly moved onto the other foot. About 30 seconds later, she finished the "massage," dumped my feet back in the bath and left to file a report to Guantanamo. Or get my nail polish. I don't remember. But hey! The color is cute.

Photobucket

Findings:

Negative. Most likely the pressure points need to be stimulated for longer stretches, not just periodically slapped around. One Braxton Hicks contraction in the 12 hours since treatment.

Up next: the spicy food test

Remember that scene in Alien?

The miracle of pregnancy...or something from a Ridley Scott film.

You be the judge.

Remember that scene in Alien? from Melissa Anderson Sweazy on Vimeo.

Old Wives Tale Tests

Over dinner last night, I smiled at my husband and said, "you know, I'm really ready for this kid to come out because I just can't wait to meet him/her." He just stared at me and said, "That would be nice. If it was true."

He can always tell when I'm lying.

At 39 1/2 weeks of pregnancy, I'm done. I want the kid out. I want to stop feeling like I have a bowling ball dropping onto my bladder before lodging in my butt everytime I stand. My doc wants the kid out not much longer after my due date, so we've signed his/her eviction notice for a date in the near future. But I would really like baby to enter the world without unnecessary medical intervention.

So.

Because my due date is mere days away, I figure no harm can be done by indulging in the various old wives tales that purport to nudge little kiddo into the world. Spicy food's got to be a bit more kind than pitocin, right? I'm going to try as many as these as I can and report back on my findings. So if I disappear for a bit, you can safely bet that one of them worked. Or baby felt sorry for me and my ridiculous tests and decided to get a move on.

The first report up soon!

The Makeover

Monday, April 4, 2011

So you know that moment in every guilty-pleasure Saturday afternoon tweeny movie when the geeky girl gets the glasses off, goes to the spray tanner, gets her nails done, curls her hair, hits the mall for THE dress and makes her debut at the top of the stairs looking all Miss Thing?

We're in the glasses just came off stage.

primer

The makeover has been a slow and awkward one, piece-mealed together by weather factors, budget, and the fact that Caleb is, amazingly, only one person. Complicating things a bit have been passive-aggressive scuffles with our neighbors who have taken issue with our wanting to put up a fence (long, long, stupid story that I won't elaborate on), so I have been DYING to show our street, the world, just how pretty our house is going to be.

It's just going to take a little bit longer than the movie montage leads you to believe.

In unrelated news, 39 weeks and holding somewhat steady. With a head cold. Um, thanks?