Friday, February 22, 2013


I love Thomas's hair. It has been awesome his entire life (except those few months when it was plagued with cradle cap, but we're trying to block that from memory). Always cute, always looking like I did it on purpose. Sadly, those days reached their end. It was approaching the mullet stage, and getting in his eyes. So, haircut time came.

I was feeling fiercely independent and ridiculously cheap when things finally reached a head. Thus, I threw him in the tub after dinner one evening and took care of it myself.

It needs a little trimming still (haven't had the energy for Part II yet), but overall I'm pretty happy with the result.

Honestly, he's at such an adorable phase right now, I'm not sure I could screw it up if I tried. I spend way too much time admiring his cuteness. He may develop a complex.

Advice for a Newly at Home Mom

My cousin recently became a stay-at-home-mom and expressed her conflicted feelings at being at this point in her life (motherhood is not necessarily her first choice of careers). She asked for insight on how stay-at-home-moms and housewives maintain their sanity. This is my response:

1 - Be very careful not to confuse what you do with who you are. There are many things you do because they need to be done, but that doesn't define you. You can choose to be whomever you like, even if you have to do other things some of the time. Being a mom may be part of your identity. Maybe it's an important part, maybe it's a significant part, but it doesn't need to be (and really shouldn't be) all there is to you. If it becomes that way, I think you're doing yourself, your husband, and your children a disservice.

2 - Decide and defend who you are. Once you have that figured out, don't forget it. Don't get so lost in taking care of your husband and child(ren) that you lose yourself completely.
Our current society is largely into self-interested actions. Many people have encouraged me to live apart from my husband in order to further my own career and allow him to further his. Neither of us would have to make any professional sacrifice. Unfortunately, the quality of our marriage would be sacrificed instead. I don't believe that's a feasible solution. You can't make every decision in your life based on what's best for you. However, you shouldn't rule your own wants and needs out completely. Decide what you want and weigh that into your decisions. You'll need to make some sacrifices in order to be happy, I'd guess, but you don't need to sacrifice everything. Don't lose sight of who you are and what you want. Never lose that. If you feel like it's lost, take some time to yourself and find it again. Ask your husband, your close friends and the rest of your family to help you. If they love you, they'll support you in your need to be an individual with your own personal goals, needs and wants.

3 - Make an effort to develop yourself continually in ways you enjoy. For me, this can be learning new recipes or reading books I like. Some people take photography classes or exercise. One of my friends quilts. Have things that are yours that you do because you enjoy them (I happen to love cooking, so there is the byproduct of feeding others, but that's not why I do it). Take time for these things regularly. You need a break from parenthood sometimes. Regularly.

4 - Don't view yourself as inferior or subservient to your husband just because he's financially supporting the family. This one is really important. You've both chosen for you to stay home in order to save the family money. You're taking care of some things and he's taking care of others. He should NOT be ordering you around and you shouldn't be letting him just because he makes the money. Your roles are different. It's not like you're not doing work; you're just doing different work. Don't undervalue your contribution. And don't view yourself as subservient for any other reason either. Whatever you may have learned in Young Women or anywhere else, you are his equal and don't ever believe otherwise. Ever.

5 - Raise your daughter to view the world differently. Talk to her about college and her career and everything you wish you'd been told were possibilities. Protect her dreams about her future and don't let others take them away. If her Young Women experience is mirroring yours, voice your objection to her leaders. Living solely for marriage and motherhood is not doctrine.  Families are important and valued, but wedding dresses, baby names and choosing your wedding colors as a teenager are not. Those things really don't matter. They're fun for teenage girls to dream about, but they don't matter. There are so many resources available on how to raise a confident daughter. Be on the lookout for them and make conscious choices about the woman you'd like her to become.

6 - Reach out and be connected to the world. Establish a routine that includes you having time to read the news if that's important to you or read fashion magazines if that's what you prefer. Get in the habit of connecting with other adults. For the next two years your "play dates" are going to involve you bringing your baby to sit or play next to other babies and it won't matter to her at all whether the other children are there or not. But you need the adult conversation, so make it happen. Find other people who you like being around who have children or have time to hang out, and schedule time together regularly. You'll have more time as she gets into a sleeping and eating routine, and you have to prioritize time with other adults. It really will save your sanity in many ways. You can also join (or start) at book club, have people over to get their hair done, start a cooking group, or whatever other way you can dream up to get adults into your life for grown-up conversation. It takes more effort when you have a child, but it's so worth it to pursue adult conversations for yourself.

7 - Don't let anyone else (including me!) tell you who you need to be our how to run your life. Don't let anyone else define happiness for you. Part of the issue with the women in the Mona Lisa Smiles  era is that these women have to keep up the appearance of perfection. And that exists a lot in Mormon culture, particularly in Utah. You'll decide what's important to you. Maybe having a clean living room is worth the effort, but having a clean bedroom isn't. Maybe you want your daughter's hair done all the time but you don't care about whether her clothes are designer or hand-me-downs. Maybe you'll hand make all the decorations for all of her birthday parties, but most nights dinner will be from a box. That's fine. You're allowed to have your own priorities and make your own choices about how to spend your time and effort. Kirsten Dunst didn't want to be a SAHM. Julia Stiles did. Different people want different things, and that should be okay. You don't have complete freedom to choose what you want to do at this point, but you can make the most of the situation you have and choose what's going to be important enough to warrant your effort.

8 - Remember, nobody's life is as great as it looks on their blog. We present the best version of ourselves. But truly, everyone has problems, and most of them are pretty serious ones. So don't judge yourself by the tiny piece of other people's lives that you can see.

9 - Enjoy it. Being a housewife and a stay-at-home-mom is hard and it's not always fun. But, there are great moments and I think it helps to revel in those. Enjoy the various stages your daughter reaches. Enjoy your time with her. Take pleasure in the things you do enjoy (decorating your house? spending time with your husband?). Choose to be happy. There will be parts of your life you don't enjoy (changing poopy diapers, anyone?) and you'll probably never enjoy them because no one does. Or because they're just not your thing. But find parts of your routine that you do like and try to focus on enjoying those. It really does make things better. Spending all your time wishing things were different will make you unhappy very quickly. And, having a career probably isn't quite as great as it seems like it would be, just like staying at home probably isn't really as perfect as it looks to someone who can't.

10 - Know that this full-time mom who also has a full-time job is jealous that you're financially able to do just one or the other. I know it isn't what you pictured for yourself, but you are lucky to be able to do it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

iPhones are Fun: A Photographic Essay in Two Parts

Part I: Wait, if I push this button it will show me my face and take a picture of my face at the same time?! (pared down from well over 100 images)

 Part II: How do I do that again?
 Ah, yes.
 This really IS as fun as I remember.

 Okay, I'm over it.

Things that are Awesome

When you have a five-day-old-baby, it's snowing like crazy outside, and the landlord decides to have a new front door installed. Then, the doormen buy the wrong door, so they have to drive across town in the snowstorm to buy another, while you have a tarp instead of a front door.
It only took four hours.

Now that I'm on Maternity Leave...

 ...instead of working, I stare at my baby all day. And take her picture. These are in somewhat chronological order. Enjoy!

Molly's Birth - The Long and Detailed Version

This pregnancy was a lot like my last one. I started having regular contractions that woke me up at night around 37 weeks. I warned my boss and fully expected to have a baby round about January 6th. Instead, I spent a few weeks essentially treading water at work while everyone waited to hear when I would really be going on leave.

At my 39 week appointment, on a Thursday, my doctor checked my cervix and said I was "all ready to go," already dilated to 3 cm. She indicated that she thought I'd be in later that day, especially since she stripped my membranes. I did have contractions all day. After the kids went to bed, I time them at 3-5 minutes apart lasting 1-2 minutes. So, we called our babysitter, Megan, and headed to the hospital. Of course (of course!) things calmed down once I sat in the horrible triage beds. The resident came to check me, declared me at 3.5cm and said I could walk around for an hour to see if things were progressing. The nurse expressed her surprise that we weren't being given a room yet, and sent us out walking. We walked the entire hospital, James got himself some Subway to fortify him against the long night ahead, and I had contractions the entire time.

By the time we got back to Triage, the resident was off delivering someone's baby (this was midnight), so we waited. I had lots of rather painful contractions and tried to psych myself up for having a baby. When they finally checked me again at 1am, I had gained only half a centimeter. Not enough to count as labor. I didn't really want to endure a long, slow labor in the hospital, and I thought I might be able to sleep, so went home. The nurse and the resident agreed that I'd likely be back later that morning. I told him I could have the baby in a week, which he assured me was very unlikely. Good thing I never believe the residents.

So, home we went, to sleep we went, and the contractions continued at the rate of about four an hour, every hour, for days. My mom came on Saturday and we went for a walk, then went shopping in hopes of using gravity in our favor. No change. Monday morning things felt different. I felt a lot more pressure and a lot of cramping. About once an hour I'd need to breathe through a contractions. But mostly, I just continued on with my life, wondering when the baby would show up.

By Monday night I was really uncomfortable and felt like the baby was going to fall out. Since I have a history of not identifying contractions well until I'm past 7cm and of fast labors, we decided to play it safe and head to the hospital to see where things were. I called just to check, talked with the nurse we'd seen Thursday, and she immediately said to come. So, we put the kids to bed, put my bags back in the car, and went to the hospital.

It was a busy night at St. Mary's. We got a slightly bigger triage room and a decidedly shorter hospital gown this time. Seriously, the thing was like a mini-skirt. I was worried about walking around in it, even with the robe they give you. Anyhow...when the resident arrived to check me, she said I was at 5cm. Dilating one centimeter in four days is not encouraging. But, she said that "you usually don't get to five centimeters without being in labor," so she wanted to check with a real doctor.

Meanwhile, we could walk. So we walked, and nothing happened. I had one real contraction the whole time. My doctor decided to come in a check me herself, mostly because she'd been expecting me to deliver any minute for weeks. She arrived about 10, said I was really a 5 and we started talking about induction. The temperature was well below freezing, and having a baby in a car in those conditions is really not a great idea. We discussed the possibility of breaking my water to get things moving. However, she had to check on some things. the meantime we were to go walking. The labor and delivery floor is currently under construction, so there are not a lot of places to walk. I don't love the second floor of the hospital, but I've seen every inch of it! And we kept seeing women pass by who were decidedly in actual labor. I was a little embarrassed to be wandering around so clearly not experiencing anything like they were. These women were ready to have babies; I wasn't.

When we got back, the triage nurse had changed. The new one greeted us with "you're the one who's a five and not having contractions." She explained that the definition of labor is "cervical change" and my cervix wasn't changing, therefore I wasn't in labor. Apparently having had a baby just 15 months earlier left things a little "stretchy." As a result, my cervix was a little looser than most, but my body wasn't actually ready to have the baby yet. And, she added, I should go home and wait until it was. It was actually nice to talk with someone who had a definite opinion, since everyone else had been hemming and hawing about what was going on. I was primarily annoyed with having spent three hours in triage AGAIN, and then going home (assuming that's what we were about to do). All I really wanted was someone to check my cervix, assure me that birth was not impending, and to go home to bed. But, since we'd had the induction conversation with the doctor, I told the nurse the two of them could fight it out.

It turns out St. Mary's was really busy that night and there were no rooms. Apparently several women were about to give birth, so rooms would be opening up. But, since you have to stay in the room for two hours post-birth, we'd have started things around 2am. Not great conditions for optimal labor and childbirth. I opted to go home and get a good night's sleep. Once again, they said we'd probably be back in a few hours. I told Dr. Bull I'd try really hard not to have my water break as she pulled into her driveway. And we all went home.

Then the contractions stopped. Completely. Nothing. I honestly started to wonder whether my mom would leave (on Saturday) without ever seeing the baby. I mostly maintained sanity on the idea that I knew the doctor was amenable to induction on Monday, so it was likely she'd still go for it Thursday, on my due date.

Thursday morning, James came to my appointment with me so we could make a plan. Everything was a bit more liquidy on Thursday, and when I mentioned that the doctor decided to check whether my water had broken. She used a test with some special paper that is supposed to turn from yellow to blue if there is amniotic fluid. It turned yellowish-blueish. Definitely a change, but definitely not all the way to blue. In other words, really inconclusive. So...back to the hospital for a more high-tech is-your-water-really-broken? test. Meanwhile, my cervix remained 5 cm dilated. No surprise there.

I had James drop me off at the hospital because I didn't want both of us to waste another three hours in triage (why does it always take three hours?). Unfortunately, I left my phone sitting in the car when he dropped me off. Oops. As it turns out, they still have in-room telephones at the hospital and you can use them to call home! But...before I got a room I had to go to triage. Again. I'd told the nurse on Monday that I couldn't have the baby until I'd seen all four triage rooms. They gave me the big room again. The nurse did her little test, and it was also inconclusive. I think I may have rolled my eyes at this point. So...she did it again. This time the test was positive. We were going to have a baby. But first...I had to see the resident.

This morning's resident was a real treasure. He wheeled in a little ultrasound machine so he could check the baby's position. She had been head down for weeks, and her head was certainly in the right place when Dr. Bull checked my dilation in the office an hour earlier. BUT, the resident pulled out his little ultrasound wand, started looking around, and couldn't find her head at all. He said the ultrasound machine had been problematic recently and that he'd get someone else to come look. I definitely rolled my eyes at this point. SO, in comes another resident to help with the ultrasound machine. He can't find the head either. I'm working hard to maintain my composure. The nurse finally comes along and tells them they're not looking low enough. The baby's head is really low (because she's about ready to make her entrance). Low and behold, there she is, exactly where she ought to be! The nurse and I agreed that we'd both have been really unhappy if I'd needed a c-section after all that. I sent the two happy residents on their way and wondered when my doctor would be arriving.

I should say that I actually supervise a number of medical residents in my job, and I find them to be nice people and generally competent. But, my experiences with them relating to childbirth have not been great, and my general attitude is to believe essentially nothing they say. They don't tend to know what they're talking about, especially when they're young, male and single. Hence my lifelong preference for females to deliver my babies, preferably females who've had babies of their own.

Anyhow...the nurse then came in and started talking about pitocin to help me have more contractions. I had talked with Dr. Bull about simply breaking my water again, so that the loss of fluid was noticeable, and explained to the nurse that I'd prefer to try that first. She conceded that that would probably be an easier intervention and went to call someone about it. I then learned that, although there were rooms available, there were not nurses available. So I had to wait in triage until a nurse could be called in.

At long last, I made it to my room. I think I was only in triage two hours this time! From there, I called James to update him and emailed my boss to let her know I wouldn't be in to work. Then I waited and did some more work. It's always been a bit weird for me to get to the hospital completely not in pain. But this time there was really nothing happening and I just didn't know what to do with myself. So, I did some work. I'm not used to having nothing to do.

Eventually, my nurse informed me that Dr. Bull was indeed going to come break my water (she wanted to do it herself in case the labor was really really fast) once she finished with her morning's clinic patients. Dr. Bull arrived just before 1pm and James arrived just after. She broke my water about 1:15. It was fairly uneventful really, and mostly just more water than I remember there being with the other two (Virginia's came in bits and snatches, but Thomas's was all at once). It was still a while before contractions really started, but they did eventually get moving. A little more than two hours later, with just one push, Molly was born. It was fast enough that I think the resident missed it. Oh well. Even the doctor didn't expect her quite so quickly once I started pushing.

While the process of getting into labor with her was long and somewhat of a debacle, I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying Molly's laid back personality. She is a wonderful third child, and generally a wonderful baby. She's not much into being burped, but she's also really not bothered by the resulting gas. She sleeps a LOT, is very happy when she's not sleeping, and is generally wonderful. It's a good thing we didn't start out with her. It might have made us less enchanted with the other two, who were also really good babies. But not quite this good. If they keep getting better like this, we may end up with a dozen children.


 Once, I was really pregnant. So pregnant, it was two and a half weeks past the length of any of my past pregnancies.
For better or worse, this fact made me feel overdue, even though I really wasn't. It also made everyone familiar with my past history (including my doctor) expect that I would have a baby at any moment. Every day, several times a day, people wanted an update. Where was my baby?!

Well, on the day she was actually due to arrive, our dear daughter finally made her appearance. When I went to my 40 week appointment, I turned out to be leaking amniotic fluid. In other words, my water was broken, but not so broken that I was really in active labor. I headed to the hospital, James and my doctor followed a few hours later and we finally got our baby.

She was born at 3:33 pm on January 24, weighed 8lbs 4 oz. and was 20.5 inches. Here she is with her dad, already preferring Mom.

 It took us until the night before we left the hospital to settle on a name. Some of our favorite rejected options were Sharonette and Polly Esther. In the end, we have named her Molly Matilda McKay.

One of the highlights of this birth was that, given her later arrival, my mom got to visit us in the hospital. It was wonderful having Monga here to care for the older children while James and I were at the hospital. I've also always really wanted my mom to be able to come see me at the hospital, so this was particularly exciting for me, even if it meant a little less time with her help after we got home.

After two fairly restful days in the hospital, we packed her up and brought her home to (deep breath) life in a family of five. Molly is coping quite nicely. The rest of us are still adjusting.