on the subject of sexism

As long as we’re talking about Trump and Clinton, here’s a little dollop of personal testimonial about being a woman in the workplace:

I recently moved from a shared workspace into a nice private office. Asked by a friendly, more-senior male colleague how I liked it, I said it was great, but since it was up front, strangers would often poke their heads in to ask for directions. His response, “Well, if you didn’t look like a secretary…”

Zing! Funny guy.

a day in your life

To Paul: this is how you spent the day you turned 1 month old.

At 1:30am, you start to squawk, and Dad lifts you out of your bedside bassinet for a diaper change. You’ve been asleep for nearly 5 hours—not bad at all. Dad lays you down next to me in bed, and you nurse frantically, then steadily, for a solid half hour. You get another new diaper and zipped into your swaddle sack on your way to the other side, and spend another half hour there.

lounging in bed as the sun rises

lounging in bed as the sun rises

By 3am, you’re back to sleep, but up again at 5:15 after some raucous pooping. You nurse and doze beside me; we both nap, cuddled up in bed; and then you’re awake again for more feeding, and pooping, and wet-burping. You’re in that fluid-focused phase of life. When it’s finally a civilized time to get up, we head downstairs, and you sit in your swing and make eyes at the ceiling fan while your Dad and I have a quick breakfast. We relocate to the dining room when your sister joins us, and you sit in the crook of my leg, up against my chest, and cradled in my arms as we finish breakfast and read the paper. Annie points to you delightedly every few minutes (“Be-ee?”) to remind us that you are here, and you are a baby.

We typically try to get you to sleep after you’ve been awake for an hour or so, when you’re starting to get sleepy but aren’t yet angry about it, so at 8:30 I zip you into your sack, put you in your bassinet, and start you rocking. Fifteen minutes later, you’re asleep but need to keep rocking to stay that way.  It took you a few weeks to arrive at this point, but you are now officially a subscriber to the Always Be Jiggling philosophy. You nap for 45 minutes. Dad mows the lawn; I do a little yoga and return to find your eyes open. They say, “yeah, I could eat.” You do.

first nap of the day in your puppy bassinet

first nap of the day in your puppy bassinet

Dad takes over your care and attempts to rock you into a second and hopefully longer nap. You do not cooperate. We spend the afternoon rocking you into submission, feeding you, and entertaining ourselves as best we can. At 3 or so, you finally drop into a sound long nap.

your daily log (today is Monday)

your daily log (today is Monday)

At 6:45pm, you wake up, and Dad feeds you a bottle (I’m off at a Board meeting) The two of you hang out and have another little nap before a final top-off meal. You make your goodnight at 9; we zip you into your swaddle sack, lay you in your puppy, and you drift off.

I feel pretty confident that next month’s log will be more interesting.

a day in your life

To Annie: this is how you spent the day you turned 17 months old.

You went to bed last night with a fever of 102 and the saddest sick eyes, so we’re happy to see you sleep in this morning, all the way until 9. We check the monitor every 10 minutes or so to make sure you’re still breathing. This is your fourth illness of the last month, after an ear infection, a cold, and a stomach virus. The hidden cost of sending you to childcare, I suppose.

the scene in your crib, circa 8am

the scene in your crib, circa 8am

Dad greets you when you finally wake up, takes your temperature (now 100.6), and brings you into our room to visit me and Baby Paul, who is finishing his breakfast. We all head downstairs to the table, where you eat yogurt and a few bites of banana and bread. Then we buckle you in your stroller, lash Paul to my chest, leash up Sous, and head to the taco truck. It’s Dad’s longest walk since his hip-screw-removal surgery on Tuesday (it’s Saturday). You are cheerful in your stroller, with your hat, your cup, and your baby doll—everything a little girl could want.

It doesn’t even occur to us to check the weather forecast, so we’re outside waiting for tacos when a storm front blows through. The wind and rain are briefly dramatic, but everyone except Dad stays mostly dry under a picnic umbrella. The front passes quickly, leaving something almost like a chill in the air.

a quick video chat with Granddad

a quick hello to Granddad as the storm front starts to blow through

You eat the tortilla from your taco, poop, and say hello to your grandparents while Dad discusses wireless internet logistics with your Granddad. Then it’s 10 minutes of cuddles in my lap, and nap time.

Your typical midday nap lasts 90 minutes. Today, you stay in bed from 11:30 until nearly 3. When you finally decide to get up, you have a temperature of 103. Still no other symptoms, though, and your spirits are good though your energy is low, so we give you a dose of Tylenol and welcome you to the bed where we are all hanging out. Paul is nursing, and our friend Megan has come to visit. Her kids are 6 and 4, so she still speaks Toddler well enough to understand your important words.

You have a snack of banana (“buh”) and cheese (“cheeee”) in bed with us—we break all the rules when you’re sick—and move into my lap as soon as Paul gets out of it. We visit with Megan and read several of your current favorite books: Ollie the Stomper, 100 Animals, Hoot, In My Tree, and The Watermelon Seed.

You signal your interest in reading books by picking up and paging through Game of Thrones in a very convincing fashion.

You signal your interest in reading books by picking up and paging through Game of Thrones in a very convincing fashion. You also insist on wearing this hat. After months of ripping them off, you love wearing hats these days.

When our friend says goodbye, you and I head downstairs. You decide you’d like another stroller ride, so I push you around downstairs, occasionally pausing to check on the short ribs that are braising for dinner. For a few laps, I try on some clothes I’ve ordered online (one item per lap). You enjoy this game and decide you need to try one of them yourself.

You will refuse to take this off, so I'll cinch the neck up with a rubber band for the rest of the evening, to keep it short enough that you don't trip on it.

You will refuse to take this off, so I’ll cinch the neck up with a rubber band for the rest of the evening, to keep it short enough that you don’t trip on it.

At 5:30, your dad is upstairs with Paul, rocking him in his bassinet to encourage a nap, and it’s time to start cooking a vegetable for dinner. You help me tear up kale leaves and put them in a bowl, then, perched on my hip, watch as we fill it with water to wash the leaves and melt butter in a skillet. We’ve just gotten the kale in the pan when Dad comes down and takes over, so you and I serve up some short rib, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and you start your meal while we plate our own.

Halfway through our meal, Paul starts crying (“beebee?” you say), so I take my plate upstairs and leave you and Dad to finish dinner and start your bath. You eat lots of bread and ignore your meat and vegetables, then take a jolly bath. “Ka Ka!” you yell at your pink rubber duck. Because that’s what a duck says. I rejoin you shortly after toweling and diapering (current temperature: 100.0) to read Goodnight Moon. At 7:10, Dad and I sing your lullaby together, and turn out the light.

laugh it out

(Paul’s birth story)

I was pretty sure Flipper was going to come after his due date, but I hoped that, unlike with Annie, labor would start before an induction was necessary. Unfortunately, it seems my body is so good at being pregnant that it never wants to stop, so we went in for another unnatural start at 41 weeks and 6 days. The Halls held down the fort with Annie while Bryan and I headed for the hospital on Thursday night.

My cervix looked plenty ripe enough to skip the softening medicine that had wreaked such havoc on me the last time, so night-nurse Abby got me hooked up to monitors and an IV, gave me an Ambien, and told us to get a few hours of sleep. A nice surprise, which we actually managed.

Flipper declined his final opportunity to appear voluntarily. At 4am, Abby returned to administer antibiotics, and that was the end of sleep. I watched my mobile fetal monitor blink blue at my navel for a couple of hours, and at 6, a slow Pitocin drip started. I’d been having small contractions for days, which didn’t much change. Cameron arrived a few minutes later with a McDonald’s breakfast for Bryan.

Between 7-8, I met the key members of Team Childbirth: (day) nurse Bernadette, an old-school character I initially speculated was a nun, the low-key doula Darby, who grew up in Plano, and the on-call OB Dr. Ikbal, since mine was on vacation in Estes Park all week. At 7:30, Dr. Ikbal broke my water, and my contractions became legitimate enough for me to feel like I was in “real” labor. It would last 9 hours.

For the next five, I sat on the bed, bounced on a ball, rocked in a chair, and paced the hall, with Darby and Bryan rolling my IV pole and keeping the back of my gown closed. Up so often, I would miss the automatic blood pressure monitoring, and the cuff would inflate completely and uselessly without me. We became expert at unhooking it to deflate and restart the measurement. Every half hour, nurse Bernadette would ask about my pain and, deeming me not uncomfortable enough, increase the Pitocin drip. I snacked on jello, broth, juice, and tea. Darby diffused some aromas in the room. Bryan kept music playing. Cameron texted updates to interested family and friends. Medical staff who came by remarked on the room’s pleasant atmosphere. It was the labor I wanted to have.

walking the halls

walking the halls

Gradually, the contractions got more painful. I started shaking, hard. Walking around no longer seemed plausible, so I stuck to the bed, leaning back against Bryan, which helped the shaking and my breathing. My world shrank down to getting through the next one.

At 1pm, I was 6cm dilated. “How about that epidural?” At 1:30, sweet relief.

At 2:30, I was still 6cm dilated, and the baby still quite high. His heart rate was troubling Bernadette. It would dip during contractions and stay low. She stayed in the room with us, watching the monitor and changing my position in hopes of improving his situation. She cut my pitocin drip in half and gave me oxygen. I worried that with labor stalled and the baby in some distress, I’d be wheeled off for a c-section any moment.

A final flip over to my right side and placement of a giant inflatable peanut between my legs seemed to resolve things, though. Flipper’s heart rate returned to normal, and I almost immediately started feeling a new kind of pressure during contractions, a lot like a baby head in my birth canal. Bernadette stayed with us, and we chatted pleasantly about families and school and jobs.

An hour later, at 4, I asked when we’d take another look at my cervix. “Things, really, uh, there’s a lot of pressure.” Nurse and doula put me off: you really don’t want to check too often—risk of infection, lack of progress can be disheartening, etc etc. Let’s check at 4:30. Okay, I said. I’ll have some jello.

Ten minutes later, Bernadette noticed that I’d pooped. This happens when you are pushing out a baby. So yeah, let’s look at that cervix! Hey! 10 cm! Hey! There’s a baby head. Hey! Let’s get that doctor over here.

Trays of instruments appeared. Medical professionals bustled around. Parents were telephoned. I put down my jello.

My team extracted me from my sports bra and hung it on the IV pole. My legs, one totally dead, were hauled into stirrups. The baby’s head—”yeah, this baby is coming out.” I got a terrible case of the giggles. With each eruption of laughter, the head eased a little farther out. “Just keep laughing!”

During the next contraction, I really pushed, and his head was half-out. I felt it, and everything stretched around it. The doctor smeared it all with oil. One more contraction: push, and his head is out. Push, and there’s the rest. It’s 4:30.

Bryan cuts the cord, and there’s a little blue guy on my chest. I am not prepared. It happened too fast! He’s peeing on me, and snuffling around my boobs. Paul.