The Other Side: Parenthood

Here we are on the other side of pregnancy: meet Jude. Of course as her mother, I think she's the cutest. She decided to start her arrival shortly after her tired parents went to bed early February, so it was an overnight labor. Labor is really like nothing else I've ever experienced, and it went relatively smoothly and at 10 am the next morning our lives changed forever. It's cliche but it's true.

The past two and a half months have melted together and rapidly run its course. Six weeks of maternity leave left me feeling like I had barely gotten the hang of things: I've learned quickly that being a new parent can really give your self-confidence a shake. Prior to Jude, I felt in pretty good control of my life and competent. None of the classes, baby books, or Googling helped make me feel like I knew what I was doing when suddenly I was in charge of this tiny, wonderful, little person. Nothing prepared me for feeling like I have lost half of my brain from being sleep deprived. Nothing prepared me for how much work and how constraining nursing is. Nothing prepared me for the feeling of having two jobs- my career and my child. Is this how all new moms feel or am I just less capable of transitioning and handling things than I thought? 

I'm so exhausted. I have so much to be thankful for- a healthy, happy, baby girl who has the most adorable coos and smiles, among the many, but I feel so drained. It's no joke when people say the first few months are hard. So hard. Some days I feel pretty good about things going smoothly, other days it seems like one event out of place and plan will set a chain of little mishaps. I'm too type A to not feel thrown off, but I know I will have to learn to stand it.

But that's just today, this moment. I am on antibiotics and achy all over. I'll check in on a better day and maybe I'll tell you how cloth diapering is going (it's totally doable and worth it!). 


End of January Brain Dump

It's official, baby J, per her grandmother's wishes, will be born in the Year of the Horse. She's also held out for her dad to argue his big hearing this week, so I'm thinking, let's get this show on the road! The doctor seemed to think baby J was going to make her appearance this week, but who could blame her for wanting to stay in with this week's subzero temperatures? Anyway, we're on countdown, which is surprisingly exhausting. We have managed to watch a lot of movies/shows:
  • Marvel's The Avengers- Wow. I was just looking for some mindless entertainment, but I couldn't even muster any enthusiasm for this movie. Loose and silly plot, all around bland.
  • Sunshine- A team of futuristic scientist/astronauts are sent on a mission to throw a nuke on the dying Sun to recharge it and save the Earth from extinction. Sounds like an interesting plot, right? Well, Danny Boyle took an interesting idea that could have explored some major character evolution and acceptance of death and sacrifice for the greater good... but without ruining it for you, let's suffice it to say after one too many calamities, the plot twist devolved the movie into a total joke.
  • American Hustle- great cast, very entertaining, but almost too formulaic con-artist movie. 
  • Five Days- HBO miniseries from 2007 that explores 5 24-hour periods in the case of a missing woman. For the genre, really well done. No ridiculous twist but a straightforward examination of people during this type of crisis, including a pretty good handling of some race issues on the side. 
  • True Detective- new HBO series. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are throughly entertaining and again, for the genre, which I generally am pretty skeptical about, I am really enjoying this show! 
  • Girls- (HBO) All I can say is, losing its charm. Rapidly. 
  • The Age of Innocence- Well done, true to the book, but only bearable if you are in the mood for rich people problems (in the 1870's). Also, random amusement from the excess of hideous tulle wrapped around fancy dresses? I was skeptical about the casting of Michelle Pfieffer as Countess Olenska, but in the end, she did it pretty well. Still not who I had envisioned.

Out of abundance of caution, we've been carpooling to work all week, so I've had a lot of time to observe the drive into Cincinnati and across the river from the passenger side seat. It's amazing how you can see things you never notice if you just shift your perspective a little (and also when you don't have to focus on the road). It was gloomy and gray this morning, but as we crossed the Roebling Bridge, I still was struck by how pretty our city is. Since we've been back, Cincinnati has continued to garner recognition nationally: one of 2014's most affordable cities to live in, subject of a photographer's admiration and surprise (check out these gorgeous photos), and the top starter of Twitter trends. Not that we don't have our issues, but what city doesn't?

In other news, it's been a season of loss for our extended family and other friends. One of the toughest (though all losses are tough), was baby Connor. Connor had CHARGE syndrome, but spent 15 months of his amazing life defying the odds, making people happy, and living so well. His passing came suddenly, and his wonderful parents have been an inspiration. There are no words to express the many emotions that come knowing that this incredible couple has gone through so much, but I hope to honor them and Connor by remembering to live and not just survive, and to love and practice gratitude. Read more about Connor here and on his Facebook page.

This will probably be the last post of this pregnancy- wish me luck!


2013 Review, 2014 Adventures

It's Sunday afternoon. The husband is at the Bengals playoff game. Laundry is going. I really need to shake out the tablecloth in the kitchen, which I've been procrastinating from for no good reason. And it's 2014. We're on countdown- 35 days (more or less) until the due date: Baby laundry half done. Cloth diapers in the process of being prepped (so many washes for those damn organic/natural material ones!). People have told me I will start "nesting," and I suppose these activities are "nesting" but for some reason I don't love the term. It sounds so gendered and 50's housewife-esque. All this work is pretty practical preparation for what's to come, and hopefully will make the first few months less insane and stressful.

I'm trying to keep nervousness at bay about labor, and of course the fact that in a short period of time, we're going to be wholly responsible for a new little life. This year is going to be full of new things: parenthood, husband's new job in April, new responsibilities at work, and getting healthcare through the government exchange! I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

The weather so far has not been dropping to subzero temperatures and snowing as predicted. I will never cease to be amused at how people in Cincinnati flood and pillage the grocery stores at the sign of some snow (and ransack the milk aisle, of all things). The likelihood of being snowed or iced in for more than 24-48 hours is so slim here it's laughable, and I promise you, if that did happen, you won't be kicking yourself for not having milk. 

2013 Review: high and lowlights, lessons learned- in List Style, of course:

  • Baby miscarriage to start off the year. Hard to believe an entire year has passed. A lesson in grief, loss, keeping faith, and awareness of a hardship that happens to so many mommas.
  • Job promotion of sorts.
  • Had some actual juvenile cases, and went to trial (and won!).
  • Chairing a committee for the local bar association Young Lawyers Section- after pulling back from leadership for a while, I'm back in, for better or for worse.
  • Volunteering at the long awaited Citylink Center
  • Growing baby J. Pregnancy is a weird experience. You have a little alien growing inside of you. Everything feels uncomfortable. You have pregnancy brain (it's a real thing.) Your body stretches more than you thought it ever could. People feel free to talk about your body without invitation. I am not one of those mothers who love pregnancy, and am quite okay with that.
  • Finding out my little brother's baby will be due just a month after baby J!
  • Two wonderful trips to Colorado (minus the part where we spent 30 some hours between airports). Second trip, baby J came with us, so she's been hiking, already! Hope she'll love outdoors and hiking as much as mom and dad.
  • DOMA mostly struck down! Hurray for love!


Checking in- Third Trimester (Already?)

After a prolonged summer and strange short fall, winter seems to be creeping in stealthily and rapidly. I can't tell if the sniffling haze my head is in is a continuation of allergies or if I'm finally, truly, succumbing to a cold. I suppose I will find out soon. Our due date is also rapidly approaching, if not quite stealthily since it seems every day I am newly surprised at how much further my stomach can stretch. The books and online baby websites tell me I have some 4-6 pounds of baby growth to go, though I can't currently even imagine this. 

When February comes, it will just be a little over a year after the loss of the first little friend I had growing inside of me. I've been incredibly blessed so far this time around with a relatively easy pregnancy, though it's still been a constant fight to balance caution and self-care with rampant paranoia and fear. The amount of potential problems and dangers in pregnancy that can be discovered on the internet is endless and ridiculous. Some days it's hard to keep faith that just because things went badly once, that they wouldn't go badly again, and also hard to comprehend how even more devastating it could be if things went badly this time. I just had a really bizarre week of crazy dry eye and a tiny possible case of the shingles?? 

Most days, though, I try to live in the now- things are good, I am healthy, the baby is healthy and kicking, and it's all gone by so very fast. It's been interesting to go through the pregnancy experience, with unexpected (or totally expected) feelings about my changing body, and things I can't do or eat or drink. The nearing holidays herald my last trimester, and for me and this baby girl, I'm committing to taking a step back from the usual stressors of gifts, shopping, and family, and just trying to focus on gratitude.

Generally, when people ask me if this is my first, I say yes. While technically this is my second pregnancy but my first child, who really wants to know that backstory? At the same time, I feel torn because I want more people to know about how common and difficult pregnancy loss is. I want them to know that even though I am having a fairly breezy pregnancy, it came after a really hard time. I want other women who are trying or have gone through pregnancy loss to know that it's not just them, and all those awful ugly emotions you go through happen to a lot of us. So, for all of you, I wanted to share this great blog post (that has links to a few other great posts): http://www.lipstickandpolitics.com/lipstick/why-cant-we-talk-about-miscarriage. I'm thinking of you.


This Shouldn't Happen in the United States

The Atlantic posted this article two days ago: "Half a Life In Solitary: How Colorado Made a Young Man Insane." It's a seriously sobering look at one of the most inhumane practices we have in our country, and heartbreaking to see how mentally ill this person has become. What's the point? Why are we doing this?