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I am applying to be an Adopt-a-Mom breastfeeding mentor. It's a community on LJ that pairs up experienced mamas with new mamas in an effort to support them. My aam, [livejournal.com profile] said_by_me, was incredibly patient and supportive of me during a time where I felt overwhelmed and uncertain. Part of the requirement is that I publicly post my breastfeeding story.

Cut for those who don't care! )

Dr. Tiller

Jun. 2nd, 2009 08:16 pm
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I'm having a hard time with Dr. Tiller's murder. I have missed it on the news cycles, thankfully, but it is all over the internet. Having built and birthed my own child I am more sensitive to this issue than I was 2 years ago. I have heard from thoughtful, though dogmatic, individuals that a person cannot be both pro-life and pro-choice, but I think these politicized terms are a false dichotomy. I claim both. Maybe out of a desire to piss off each side. I hate the abortion debate with the power of a thousand white hot suns. It in no way addresses the issues at hand. Yes, abortion is killing the unborn. But an eight week old fetus is not the same entity as a 29 week baby. If you mourn the passing of a first trimester fetus, then I think you ought to be vegetarian. Squid are more intelligent than a fetus. If it's the potential for human life you are concerned for, then why aren't you doing more to support the lives that exist here and now? Approximately 25% of all pregnancies spontaneously miscarry in the first trimester. Are these women murderers or culpable in some way?

And yet, I would weep if one of my close friends chose to abort. I have had a good friend, pregnant, wonder if she should keep her baby, and I have talked with Adam about offering to adopt the baby if she would consent to carry it to term.

Abortion sucks. It is something that I wish no woman ever had to choose. Sure, there are some stupid women out there who are careless and use it as birth control. Sure. But I'll take them as collateral damage to protect the rights of women who are raped, who have no health insurance and are told their child will have severe disabilities, whose partners are abusive and know that her home is no place for a child, who are starting out in life and are partnerless, who didn't have access to birth control to begin with.

There are plenty of professions I don't agree with, plenty of individuals whose morals and choices disgust me. Do I think they deserve to die? No, I do not. Those who rejoice in Dr. Tiller's murder are misguided and cruel. They are as cruel as the man they claimed deserve to die.

ETA: Because of the murder issue, I am coming down hard on the "pro-life" side of things, but I also am not a fan of the "pro-choice" side of politics. When NOW or other sorts of "feminist" organizations start branching out and doing more for women's health in general then perhaps I'll be inclined to give them money. Women's health includes more than just the right to abort. It includes advocating for pre- and post-natal care for women, it involves pressing for the rights of midwives and homebirth, it involves working for access to birth control and education. Etcetera.
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It's close to 1 AM. Bennett has finally - FINALLY - consented to sleeping. He had two half hour naps, passed out at 7.30, slept for two hours. I came to bed at 9.30 and my mere presence woke him up. It's like he's got special mama radar that functions eve in the heaviest of his sleeping. He would not go back to sleep.

Our night:
Nursing, snuggling, singing, bottle, repeat the first three. Headbutts, squirming, babbling, kicking. Swaddling, nursing, singing, stroking, bottle. Crying, flailing, hands and knees, chasing fairies (or something that he can see and I can't) up the wall, kicking Adam repeatedly in the upper extremities. Bottle, cuddling, stroking. Kicking, crying, laughing. Adam leaves for the couch. Sleeping! Crying, all fours, crawling, whacking head into wall. Light on, diaper change, nursing, cuddling. Screaming, sobbing, squirming, passing out. Sneaking out to pee..... AWAKE! Crying, snuggling, nursing. ASLEEP!

Peeing, water, snack, internet, bed.

OY.

Good thing I'll be fresh and rested for the portraits that we're getting taken tomorrow.
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The only negatives today are that I'm tired, not well slept, thanks to B's near constant nursing last night. He also is not rested - he had only 2 half hour naps today! That not nearly enough rest, for either of us.

But where can I begin with the goodness? First, Bennett is such a delightful kid. I'm really truly in love my family. Being with them is just about the best thing ever. Secondly, two friends came over this morning. Had I been with it I would have made lunch. I miss having cheese and crackers or tasty things to nibble on. Australians seem to have this down. Americans, not so much. I aspire to this level of generosity. But in any case I enjoyed discussing all things Feri and baby with them. I was able to give them a car load of baby stuff. it feels so good to help out another couple in the baby department! We were so blessed by generous folk and I'm glad we can do the same for some one else. The friends brought this wooden drum for B and it is GREAT! He loves it, and so do we. He's hardly put down the mallet.

During B's second "nap" we saw a teaser episode of the new show "Nurse Jackie" on Netflix. The show doesn't open until June on Showtime. Holy cow, it was good! Really really good. Dark, funny, complicated, interesting. I'll definitely get it when it's made available on Netflix.

Then later in the afternoon we walked all together to the grocery store, seeing friends on the way, enjoying the smell of jasmine in the sun. When we got home I got a phone call from a friend of Adam's who asked to have lunch together this week. She said "I always want to get to know you better every time I see you." I feel a little like I was "asked out" - and it feels good.

I am now cooking potatoes gratin, roasted carrots and garlic salad for dinner. Adam is on Bennett duty and they're watching the Cavs/Magic game.

Life feels really sweet tonight.
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Cut for kindness )

Today we are heading to a park in Berkeley for a BBQ (sun, you can come out now, please). Adam's parents are flying up from San Diego for the day. There will be pictures later.

I am really, truly happy.
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I can tell I'm fertile again. My uterus has that feeling, a certain twitch, that says "Fill me! I MUST MATE!"

It's quite odd. More than a little disconcerting.

In other news, Bennett ate his first mouthful of cat food today.
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[Poll #1398328]

Please feel free to comment!

Help

Mar. 27th, 2009 12:03 am
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Is this teething?

Bennett is *writhing* in pain. Screaming, grunting, crying so hard he sometimes is choking on his own spit.

It's a been a rough week. Irritability. Off and on discomfort. Some drool (normally he doesn't drool at all.) He's hitting his head and yanking on his ears. He has no fever. He had his well baby check up (no shots) and the doctor peeked in his ears and they were fine. Bennett is exhausted. His sleeping has been crappy. He slept for two hours, woke for an hour and a half - started out fussy, went to playful, turned to screaming. Fell asleep after tylenol, orajel and nursing. And after an hour he's up again. Adam's got him, walking him around the room.

Is teething really this awful? Or is this something else?
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Bennett just crawled from one room to another. Without screaming his lungs out. A little less army crawl. A little more real life crawling. Dood. And the nanny said that today he ate 1/2 a sweet potato. This kid is growing up fast!
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For those of you who are cloth diapering your bubs:

Goodmamas is doing a send-your-own-fabric thing. I want a music note diaper! If this fabric gets approved I will be putting together a coop for it. The amount of fabric required makes 20 diapers. Anyone want one... or two?
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The Sydney Opera House is awesome. But that's not why the country is awesome.

Some short reasons before I launch into the main one: it's beautiful, Sydney is a great city, the birds are amazing, eucalypts are also beautiful, the country is small (population wise) and national news is more like the neighborhood report, Aussies are super friendly and chill, there's not a lot of pretension.

But the number one reason Australia rules is the food. No, seriously. I think this is the first trip (of my now seven trips) that I've thought this. Growing up it was always bland biscuits, tasteless tea, meat with two or three veg, instant coffee. I mean, I love me some pavlova and butternut squash, but you can only eat so much of that. I never need to eat another meat pie, sausage roll, or lamb chop again. In general, food in the country is still all of those things.

Two howevers.

However #1, food in the city and in other pockets, such as Daylesford, rivals food in the East Bay and is more reasonably priced and less pretentious. Oh yeah. I ate at two particularly incredible places - The Farmers Arms and Glebe Point Diner. The last one wins big time points for being THE BEST at dealing with a baby. It was the 105 degree day and they immediately made an iced neckerchief for B, brought him a toy and a crust of bread to chew on and then two slices of cucumber and tomato (but by then B has fallen asleep in my arms). Plus, all of the servers at Glebe Point were crazy fabulous and one of them was gorgeous, a man's man (gay or straight) and turns out he had gone to UCBerkeley.

Also, all restaurant workers are paid a living wage. This means that prices were steep - even for some one from the Bay Area. Just going to the corner cafe can run you over $10 dollars. But you don't have to tip. As someone said, I don't remember who, Australia doesn't have Mexicans. I'll gladly pay more knowing that everyone is being paid fairly.

However #2, the food in Australia is of higher quality in general. Cage free eggs are abundant and clearly labeled. Even the caged eggs are of a quality that I only recognize from the CSA eggs we got for awhile. Bright orange yolks. Delicious. The dairy is crazy good. If I could import Ski brand's passionfruit yoghurt I would do so by the barrel. None of the meat or dairy are raised with hormones. All of the meat is grass fed. Some of the cattle get grain fed at the end, but the vast majority is just grass fed. All of that is amazing. The piece de resistance? High fructose corn syrup doesn't exist. Fer real. We couldn't find any. Cheap crackers? Nope. In cereal? No. What about soda? No sir.

I salute you, Australia, for your tastiness!
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*I love the winter holidays. Wish it felt more wintery and festive 'round these here parts.

*This nuclear family bullshit is isolating and I hate it. It takes way more than two people to raise one kid. The radical feminist in me is appalled at the binds I find myself in. I think the nuclear family is one of the single greatest myths that patriarchy has perpetuated in modern times.

*Adam and I are considering having B model. I feel conflicted about this. We are constantly getting told that B should be a baby model. We have a friend that used to be a children's agent. Extra money for a savings for B would be wonderful. We hear it's about $60/hr. But.... do I really want to support the advertising and modeling business? It also feels rather exploitative of Bennett, and he cannot offer his consent. It's like getting in bed with the devil. Feedback, please.

*There is so much to do to prepare for our trip. With no child care this week, I will be leaving my job with a lot of loose ends, and there's just not much I can do about that. I'm not sure I care all that much. I feel some guilt about being half-assed, but you know, if I really truly cared I'd find a way to get everything done.

*Off to start dinner while B is asleep. Wish I was asleep.

*Also, I think I am going to try to eliminate sugar from my diet for the duration of my trip. All the holiday sweets are starting to make me feel bad.
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Tonight the grandparents watched B and Adam and I got to go to our arts salon sans Bennett.

I miss being an autonomous woman. I miss getting drunk on red wine. I miss being attractive. I miss wanting to have sex. I miss *being able to have sex*. I miss being creative.


Oh god, it was wonderful.

And then we came home to a baby who had not slept and was all smiles and giggles to see us and that was the greatest thing ever.
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Today at work I realized that I hadn't thought through this whole "having a baby" thing. Why I am working while he is an infant? Right, I need money, and I was seduced with the whole "you can bring your baby to work!" This meant that I had only 3 weeks of honest-to-goodness maternity leave and have been working more or less since 2 weeks after giving birth. Bringing B to work no longer is effective - I don't get anything done and he doesn't get the attention he needs. So now I have to work to afford the childcare he needs - and for my rent and bills.

Lately I've been giving serious consideration to quitting. Partly financially, partly because I find myself caring less and less about the work we do, and I am more and more dissatisfied with the leadership. It's difficult because I love my coworkers and boss, honestly I love them, and they love me; no other office job could be as flexible as this. But this is not my life's passion and I find myself slowly moving away from what is. It feels much like how I've ended up here 5 years on - I was always planning to move back to Alaska.....

Two final nails in the coffin of my job:
1) Pumping. Why am I pumping and working? Why didn't I take this year OFF when I'm breastfeeding and go back to work when he's older, can eat solids and will fare better with childcare?? Pumping in the bathroom is about the most demoralizing thing. I'm either on the floor in the handicap stall or in the main part facing the wall, hoping no one else needs to come in.

2) Adam and I met with our ED to discuss our raises. I laid out that we had to have more money. My part time hours cover my rent, one bill, a smidge of savings, B's costs and what ever is left over is my spending money. I can't cover childcare too. Adam pays his rent, all the utilities, two other bills, his spending money, and almost no savings. Oh yes, my student loans are on hold so those aren't factored in. We laid all this out. Even with raises we would be making only slightly more than $60,000 a year (that's as a household). This is still too little for a couple in the Bay Area to have a child AND save money.

Our boss said how much he loved us and our work and wanted to provide for us to stay. Then he dropped a huge bomb. One of our big donors was an investor in this Maddof guy who has bilked people out of billions. If any other donors have been hit we may have to all take pay CUTS. This does not bode well.

Adam and I are going to have a big ol' discussion of today's meeting over home made mac n cheese and a bottle of wine tonight.

And finally, one last reason to find a new place: it is COLD. It's quite cold for the Bay Area, but not even freezing. Yet in 1930s apartment building, with single paned windows, the draughts are severe. The hardwood floors are too cold to sit on. I am bundled up in knee length wool socks, jeans, a tank top, long-sleeved thermal, wool sweater and scarf. B has his socks, baby carharts, wool diaper cover, long sleeved shirt, and lined knit sweater, and I'm still debating shoes and a hat for him. Did I mention the radiators are all on?
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This is for all those who are parents, especially those who are stay at home parents, whether that's one day a week or full time. I need your experience and advice.

Today is a particularly off day for me, because I'm tired: it's been a busy week at work and last night had me at work (with B) unexpectedly for 5 hours. Then, I hit the grocery store and came home to roast a chicken for the potluck we hosted. I was beat and remain so today. I don't want to do anything expect veg out. But I have a baby who doesn't play by himself - sometimes he will for at most 10 minutes. Being held, touching and eye contact, are his most favorite things ever. I love this about Bennett, but I can hardly get anything done - either home-wise or personally.

When I introduced All About Bennett Thursdays, this was a revelation. A day wholly about Bennett was a load of fun, but I knew that it was only once a week. For one day I could go completely according to B's patterns and desires. Super fun and actually pretty easy.

But I can't do that every day. One, because stuff needs to get done, and two, because I am freakish about Plans. I don't like this about myself, but I will say it is what keeps me organized and way more productive than a lot people. I'm doing a better job at lightening up on things like the a perfectly clean house, but this having a baby gig is revealing the depth of my neuroses.

My questions: For those of you at home with your kids, particularly babies, what do you do? Do you create a schedule? I assume toddlers might thrive on this, but what about babies? How do you meet your needs AND do stuff around the house? There are naps, but if I work through all of those I feel WIPED OUT at the end of the day. Do you have help? Either a nanny/mother's helper? Do you have a house keeper?

I think I'm asking the big parenting question: how does one take care of responsibilities, meet one's own needs, AND provide a rich, loving, interactive space for one's child?

Personally, I think having Bennett is a tremendous spiritual practice in letting go and re-prioritizing. My previous post of being on fire relates. I feel like if I am all about Bennett all the time my life will burn down to the ground entirely and I'll live in filth, be crazy, friendless, and hungry.
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Yesterday was a marvelous day, and today hasn't been too bad either. Bennett had one block of 6 hour sleep each night. The woman who is looking after B is wonderful and I met her and B at the park yesterday when I got off work. The weather has been autumnal perfection. Adam is fantastic. The 20 - at most 22 - year old gay boy who cut my hair today was so cute I totally have a crush on him, and the hair cut is pretty fab also. If some asshat hadn't stolen my lap top I would totally take a picture and show you.

Tonight B went to bed without a single fuss. This is God's way of letting me know I'm Her favorite.

But really, what I want to post about is Kenneth on 30 Rock (if you don't watch this, please do so, you'll thank me). I LOVE Kenneth and want him to be my BFF. His complete sincerity charms me to no end. I want to sit on a park bench with him, eating sandwiches, and smile at passersby, sing show tunes, and discuss our favorite holiday traditions.
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I haven't been posting much or anything of meaning lately, because I've been having a very difficult time. The sleep deprivation has been severe. Bennett has been waking every 1-2 hours at night and even when Adam decided to take a shift, Bennett often only wants boob or just to be near me. It's exhausting. Add to this my normal tendency toward anxiety and depression, a busy time at work, as well as the normal major life shift adjustments and well, it's been me staring at the abyss.

However, last night B slept for 5.5 hours straight and WOW! It's amazing what some sleep can do.

Bennett is an arsonist. Having him is like setting my life on fire. That phrase is very deliberate. My life is aflame and I have no idea what needs to burn to the ground or what I should douse and save. The flames throw much of the shape of my into relief, for better or worse. But the flames also throw shadows; sometimes I'm not sure what is real and what isn't.

It's been suggested to me that I get some sleeping pills to help at night, but that's not really the problem. I could go on anti-depressants, because yes, I am depressed. I know this. Is it post-partum depression? I've been struggling since February when I was 5 months pregnant.

While I hate the roller coaster ride of my mental state, I think that depression is useful. Clearly, something needs to change and I am not happy. I need to find ways to get more rest and more physical exercise (I have never in my life been this out of shape and unfit) - two things that help with self-esteem, mental health and general happiness. I know I need to get back to my (currently painful) practice of meditation. I know I need to figure some stuff out: job... PhD.... place, both temporary and longer-term... community...

2008 has been a hard year - not just for myself, but for most people I know. I am looking forward to starting 2009 with a vacation. An honest to god vacation. I will be with my family, in a quiet outdoorsy place. I can go walking in the morning with the kangaroos. I will have loving people around to watch Bennett so Adam and I can have some time together and I can have time by myself.

I don't feel very clear at all right now. Everything is a muddle. I want to *solve* this. I want to find the answers and get on with "it" already, but that's not how these things work. I'm tired of forcing the issue and Working Hard and Being Awesome, so I'm just gonna be over here burning up in the corner.
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I have to do a gratitude post. More stuff discovered missing - $15 worth of quarters for laundry. I have 3 days of diaper laundry ready to be washed and no quarters. Gah.

This morning I am grateful for:
*Bennett - he is healthy, strong, and a complete delight
*Adam - what an amazing person, partner, and father!
*a day of rain yesterday
*friends, far and near
*one again, that the apartment wasn't trashed in the break-in
*for bosses that care about me
*for the wonderful relationship with my sister
*being able to spend a full three weeks with my whole family in January
*not having to pay for the trip that allows the above to happen
*boobies that make milk
*and so much more, mostly intangible things, that I won't run on and on

I hope all of you have a SAFE and tasty Thanksgiving! Please remember to lock all of your doors and close your windows when you go out and about today. And drive safely.
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Between this virus and having a baby that doesn't sleep through the night, sleeping barely four hours last night was a horrible thing to happen. I was so tense that new parts of me are aching. I was a zombie at work today and felt like throwing up several times. I am so exhausted I feel ill. I wish I didn't have to go to work tomorrow, but it's going to be a short day.... I hope. We have B's 6 month checkup and shots in the morning. I think he has a bit of a cold. But he's a real champ and I enjoy him so so much. We managed to get him a bumbo with tray today off craiglists. Yay!

Adam and I are really getting ready to move. Unless something amazing happens, I think we'll be out of here by mid 2010 at the latest. This pleases me. Olympia, or someplace very like, is sounding better and better every day.

To bed!
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The bad news
*I miss my laptop
*I also noticed that my ipod is gone, and my pitchfinder/metronome
*I feel creepy, wary, angry and disappointed
*I did not sleep well last night. Every creak caused my eyes to fling open and my ears to strain. Plus, there was that weird smell of pot smoke in the bedroom and hallway at 3am. The apt manager came up last night to talk to us about the break in and we mentioned the smoke. He said they don't smoke. ....?? Do the fey smoke? We either have smoking fairies or it's them, I just don't know who else it could be!
*Bennett MUST BE NEAR MOMMY AT ALL TIMES
*I have 15 lbs of passed out baby in my left arm as I type with one hand - he will not be put down
*We have closed the blinds to all windows except the tree buffered ones behind Adam's desk. It looks dark, small and uninviting in here now

The good news
*We are safe and unharmed
*Nothing truly irreplaceable or deeply sentimental was taken. The silver bracelet was given to me by my mother, but it wasn't my favorite
*Our house was not trashed
*Bennett went to bed (at 11.30pm) with out a fuss! He HAD to sleep near me, so I guess we're back to bed sharing. As long as he doesn't fight sleep with weeping and gnashing of teeth each night, I'm happy
*We have renters insurance
*The police were nice and helpful
*I talked with my boss yesterday and we will negotiate raises for everyone!

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