Monday, December 29, 2008

On the move

So far, I've really enjoyed our trip to Minnesota. Besides a nice time with my family, opening great Goodwill gifts from my dad and brother, eating lots and lots and lots of sweet treats, visiting with a high school friend that I hadn't seen in YEARS, taking a long nap in the warm winter sun, I've also been enjoying Haven as she continues to grow and change. This week in particular she's been talking up a storm, especially with my mom and my sister. She just talks and talks and squeals and she even let out a few giggles with my mom yesterday. It is so fun to listen to her just chatter up a storm. And tonight, my dad and I were laying on the floor with her while she talked to us and she ever-so-casually rolled toward my dad, just the bottom part of her body. And then she tried it again, and then one more time, and then she did it! She rolled over onto her tummy for the first time! So fun!

This does mean, however, that our days of leaving her on the couch or her changing pad while we quickly run to the other room to wash our hands or grab a blanket or whatever, those days are over. She's on the move, folks. She's now officially on the move.

We also think we can see two little tooth buds on her lower gums (thanks, Jeanette, for first pointing them out) and she likes to eat her hands. And drool. And then drool some more. And then drool yet again. And then talk with her hand in her mouth.

All these changes. I feel like it's all happening so fast - I just can't believe how quickly she is growing and changing. I want to savor it all. I want to not miss any of it. How do you capture and hold all of these amazing things?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A White Christmas

Winter is one of my favorite seasons - snow and cold and frozen snotsicles, hot chocolate, and the way sun makes a fresh layer of snow twinkle. People think I'm nuts and that I'm not really remembering winter very well, and maybe that's the case. But, well, I think those years of cross-country skiing and broomball at midnight and sledding and ice skating and building snow forts and snowmen and finding places to dry yet another pair of wet mittens - I think all those things made me love winter, shaped my love for snow.

And lucky for me, it looks like Minnesota will be delivering me a pretty nice Christmas gift: a white Christmas. We head to Minnesota soon to celebrate Christmas with my family and I couldn't be more excited. My sweaters and cozy socks are packed and even Haven has a little hat and mittens (and a big fluffy, cozy hooded bear-sack thing-a-madoodle). Consequently, it is also freezing cold there, with some lovely sub-arctic temperatures, but I guess you win some, you lose some. Winter, here we come!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Broken, but not destroyed

In this season of celebrating a little baby - something so vulnerable, so dependent, so small - I'm reminded. That my faith is in one who is vulnerable and dependent. In one who hurt, who cried, who was human in every little way possible. Who understands all that it means to be human and meets me - meets you - wherever, and has compassion for me - for you - wherever. That my faith is not a way to escape this world, but to enter it more fully.

In this season when so many are hurting, when things are broken in us physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, I pray that we are met wherever we are at, at our neediest most painful moments, as well as in our deepest joys. I pray that we feel the promise, the hope, of life even in the midst of death.

May the grace of christmas, may the peace of christmas, may the joy and compassion of christmas be yours this day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One of those days (or Annoyed)

Yesterday was one of those days, one of those off days.

The day began with Aaron's alarm sounding at 4:45 am. And not only did it sound, but it continued to sound for what felt like days. As soon as the alarm started to beep, Aaron immediately reached toward his nightstand and turned off the baby monitor, because he often - often! - thinks that the baby monitor is the alarm clock. When that did not cease to quiet the alarm, Aaron sprang from bed remembering that he had strategically placed the alarm clock on my armoire so that he would be forced to rise in order to turn off the alarm. He then proceeded to fumble around, groping everything on the armoire in search of the alarm. I was growing increasingly annoyed, knowing that our room was a mess having just returned home from Arizona a few hours earlier but sheesh! not that messy - where in the hell is that stupid alarm? why won't it stop? stop! stop it now! At this point, I manage to turn on my light, thinking that maybe I can begin to help in the search for the unfindable alarm clock. Aaron is still blindly fumbling around the armoire when the alarm clock begins to beep even more rapidly, as if it might explode, but instead just dies, as if to say 'I can't stand around and beep forever!' So.

With the light on, with Aaron's eyes a wee bit open, and with me gesturing with great exasperation at the alarm clock right there at the very very front of the armoire, that is when Aaron admits that he was looking for something the size and shape of the baby monitor. He was looking for the baby monitor, so he could turn it off, because he seems to often - often! - think the baby monitor is the alarm clock.

Now that I'm fully awake, exasperated, and annoyed, I'm also hungry. Waking up at 5 in the morning, I am hungry.

Aaron is kind enough to make me a piece of toast to satiate my very angry hunger, perhaps as a small peace offering, when he comes in to the bedroom to say that he thinks it is actually 4 in the morning, NOT 5 in the morning. He set the alarm clock that we took with us to Arizona, which is one hour ahead of LA. Not only am I awake unnecessarily at 5 in the morning, but it turns out that it is really only 4 in the morning and we will be doing this entire routine again in an hour.

I eat my toast, turn out my light, and go back to sleep, reminding Aaron to turn on the baby monitor again.

Haven wakes up at 4:28 am. And so begins my day, my great day of many annoyances.

I eventually surrendered - to the alarm clock, to the dishes in the sink, to the exploded suitcase in our bedroom, to Haven's short naps, to Zoe's slow walking, to my not knowing what to do with my life - surrendered to the big chair in the living room, Haven in my arms, and episodes of the West Wing playing on the computer.

(And today, not yesterday, but today I think the alarm clock story is funny.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Day

Besides my excitement for eating lots and lots of food (since I've find myself in a near constant state of hungry these days, even more hungry than when I was pregnant), I'm also pleased to look back on the past year and see how much I have to be thankful. Here are just few...
  • The sound of falling rain and a cool breeze as I fall asleep
  • Sleep, albeit fleeting
  • A big, furry dog that gives me unconditional kisses on the chin and in whose neck I can bury my face
  • A handsome husband who massaged my feet every night of my pregnancy, who rises for every middle of the night feeding (though he's not necessarily coherent upon rising), and who was calm, steady, and excited during the whole process of labor
  • A beautiful labyrinth in the mountains of southern Oregon, for the scent of pine air and for beautiful roads to walk with beautiful companions
  • For learning that god's mercy is womb mercy and learning that god is compassionate
  • For Haven Elizabeth and for being able to welcome her into the world as we stood together in the center of god's mercy, a little scared but okay
  • For Haven Elizabeth and her to-die-for smiles and her to-die-for chubby little thighs and her to-die-for everything
  • For friends and for all the ways - too numerous to name - they have loved us and cared for us over the past year
It is late and I need sleep. Happy Thanksgiving to all four of my readers!

My apologies

It's been a while since I last wrote...I'm sorry. The days just go by so quickly...sigh.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ode to Arco Barko

My family loves dogs. Except for a handful of years, we've always had a dog as part of our family. My parent's had two Saint Bernards when they were first married - Bridget and Joshua - big galoots that slept on the bed with them, ate the ready-for-after-church-guests-angelfood-cake, and had a few litters of very cute little puppies. When I was young, we got Tasha, a deep red golden retriever with a small mohawk down the middle of her snoot, and then after Tasha died we got another golden retriever and named her Leesha. Actually, I named her Leesha and I have no idea why.

Dogs have always been an intimate part of our lives - they were the constant companion, the patient hound that let us dress them up and cart them around the yard in a wagon, the sympathetic ear, the mischevious puppy, the squirrel-chaser. When I was home sick from school and camped out on the couch, Tasha would spend her entire day laying on the floor right next to me. When I was sad over a boy in high school, I would bury my head in Leesha's neck and cry while I hugged her.

Now that we kids have grown up, we still continue to be dog people (my sister is allergic to dogs so she doesn't have any in her own home, but I think deep down she still likes dogs). Aaron and I have Zoe, our wonderful and dear lumbering Newfoundland, and since his wedding day thirteen years ago, my brother and his wife have been in the company of dogs - Cleo, a slightly neurotic yet endearing golden retriever and Arco, the most handsome black lab that I've ever seen.

Cleo and Arco were "wild" puppies, with Arco leading the charge. Arco was fast, energetic, and a mighty leaper and Cleo was his side kick. Together they ate underwear, dug up carpeting, dismantled all of the insulation in their unfinished basement and there were many many stories that began with a six-foot fence and ended with my brother running down the street after his dogs. But my brother wouldn't have traded these dogs for the world. Arco and Cleo, especially Arco, accompanied my brother on many of his outdoor adventures - hiking, camping, snowboarding, swimming - and the dogs, wiped out after a day in the mountains with Ellick, loved it, loved my brother.

A few months before my niece and nephew were born, Cleo, devoted to retrieving her tennis ball even in her final days, died of cancer. Arco, a little older now, a little more gentleman than puppy, would be the one to greet the new babies, to introduce them to the wonderful life of loving a dog. In the times we've visited their house over the last few years, Arco is always around - close enough, but sometimes comfortably out of reach (though not always). He's been incredibly patient and gracious with his new family members, but I suspect he spends most of his day simply waiting, watching the door, hoping for my brother to return home from work. Hoping that Ellick will greet him with a goofy chorus of "Arco Barko! Arco Barko!" Hoping for a trip to the mountains, a romp through the snow, a swim in a lake. Hoping to sleep peacefully nearby while Ellick works on his computer or watches TV or holds one of the babies. Waiting patiently, with immense loyalty.

Arco died last week. Ellick and Nicole, realizing that the end was near, hoping that they wouldn't have to make a decision to put him to sleep, sat with him, their dear companion, while he labored through his last few hours. Late in the evening, while Ellick was preparing to spend the night next to him, Arco passed away.

If I remember correctly, Arco was born on my brother's birthday and would have been 13 this December. He lived a wonderful life.

We are dog people, my family. And we will miss Arco dearly.

To Arco Barko.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Actually, KT...

She does get that from me...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whose nose is that anyway?

So. While we definitely think Haven looks like our child, Aaron and I can't quite tell who exactly she looks like. What do you think?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Ten years ago this past weekend, I became friends with my best friend Joy. We were sitting on a beach together in southern Oregon - I was freshly grieving the death of a friend of mine from youth group, she was grieving the recent death of her father. She sat on the beach, sculpting some a face out of a mound of sand on the beach, I sat just taking in the enormity, the power of my first visit to the ocean. When I was finally left alone, Joy looked up from her sculpture and said she was sorry about the death of my friend. I don't remember what happened after that, but that is where our friendship started.

My friendship with Joy is one where I'm not exactly sure how or why we became friends. I think if we'd been left to our own devices in our regular college lives, we never would have met or really become friends - we traveled in different circles. But we spent a semester together in Oregon and we connected on that beach that one day and I can't imagine these past ten years without Joy.

We'll be spending Thanksgiving with Joy and Ryan this year, a nice tradition that's developed in the past few years. I spend the fall looking forward to our trip to Prescott, ready for a good dose of fresh air, a rosy-cheeked hike, good food, good friends, and maybe a nap, too.

Joy, I am most grateful for your friendship. Thank you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maybe fall is on its way. Maybe.

It was two in the morning and it felt like ten years ago, me sitting in a little cabin, reading a book next to a wood-burning stove, nodding off occasionally as the chair was so cozy, the blanket so warm, the hat on my head so perfect. The air outside was cold and the wind was stirring occasionally, enough for me to notice its song. It was Oregon, it was fall, and my life was on the verge of changing, radically, quietly.

Friday night at two in the morning, it felt like ten years ago in that cabin. The air was cool (finally!), the wind was stirring, and oddly enough, there was a scent of wood-burning stove in the air (someone in the neighborhood has a wood-burning something in their house - we smell its wonderful essence when the weather cools), and me in a cozy chair, nodding off occasionally, my life having changed, again, radically, quietly. Haven in my lap, her body pressed to my stomach, her breath and mine together.

For some reason, I feel so impatient for fall to arrive this year, what little glimpse of fall we have here in Los Angeles. And this weekend has been a taste of fall. We will be in the upper 80's again by midweek, but at least I had a night, one night that reminded me of a beautiful time and place.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This week, I've been:
  • Pooped on three times
  • Peed on two times
  • Spit up on too many times to count

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Out of My League

There are some days in this whole new motherhood thing where I feel totally and completely out of my league, where I have no idea what in the world I'm doing, where I wonder who in the universe let us get away with having a child.

Sunday was one of those days. Aaron was working so I was flying solo with Haven and she was not having a good day. There was a lot of screaming, a lot of crying (from both of us), not a lot of sleeping (well, there was sleeping until I attempted to lay her down in her crib), and not a lot of eating (for me - she at plenty). I was tired, hungry and completely and utterly confounded. The screaming was so out of character for her and I felt at such a loss - I felt like everything I tried was failing. She eventually did stop crying (and honestly, it wasn't THAT much crying) and she did sleep. And eventually Aaron did come home, which was a godsend.

But I still feel out of my league. I feel like somewhere in the past week - since she reached her due date? - there's been a shift in what we are doing with her, or more specifically what I have a nagging feeling we should be doing with her. When Haven first came home from the hospital, it felt pretty easy - we saw what they did in the NICU and we pretty much just followed that routine, which looked something like this: eat, then sleep, repeat 8-10 times a day. She had very few, very short awake periods the first few weeks that she was home - which makes sense, since she was technically still supposed to be in the womb. But now it feels different - she's awake more, she's fussy more, she cries/screams more (not a lot, but more) - and I hear things or read things about schedules and routines, activities and development and I'm all What?

This is where I will admit: I have no idea what I'm doing. Or maybe it's more like this: I have no idea what I SHOULD be doing with a newborn. I assume I will figure this stuff out and I assume that a lot of it is about doing what works for me, for us, for our family and I assume that a lot of it is about paying attention to our lives, which I'm pretty good at - but I also carry a lot of doubt in my abilities. If Haven was a puppy, I would feel much more confident. Or so I think - there were definitely days when Zoe was a puppy that I had no idea what I was doing, no idea how to read her signals or how to fulfill her needs.

I don't like the not knowing. It feels very vulnerable. And babies are such new territory for me and it doesn't seem to take much - a suggestion, a passing comment - for me to doubt or wonder or second guess.

So this is where I'm at this week. It's not totally sucky, but it's not entirely comfortable either. We actually had a pretty good day today - and now I'm headed to bed for a few hours of sleep.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today is Haven's original due date - we now have a full-term baby! Haven is doing very well - she weighs over 6.5 lbs and continues to gain grow steadily each day. She's started to look at us more and is awake a bit more these days, too. She's also cuter than cute and continues to grow in her cuteness as she fills out a bit.

And this week she also graduated from preemie to newborn size diapers! Woohoo! She's also filling out her newborn onesies a little better than before too! All sorts of exciting things in the Schuh household.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I took a nap this evening after dinner and woke up in the dark. How long had I slept? How late was it? Did I miss a feeding for Haven??

No, it wasn't that late. It was only 7:30, but I guess it gets dark already at 7:30...I feel like summer just dissipated away. I feel like I totally missed what's been happening outside in the world these past few weeks, have missed the passing of a season (granted, passing of a season in LA is pretty subtle - but still!).


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Before 10:30 AM

I was able to:
  1. Walk the dog (albeit a short walk)
  2. Eat some breakfast (the oh-so-healthy bowl o'cereal)
  3. Take a shower
  4. Brush my teeth!
  5. Blow dry my hair!
Yes! I got one good stretch of 3.5 hours of sleep last night, which makes all the difference in the world! I also managed to find Haven a new pediatrician and get the insurance info all squared away. And eat lunch. And have a friend visit Haven for the first time. So many things we've accomplished today!

Today has been a good day with a newborn...yesterday, not-so-much (so tired! such a big headache!). It all averages out, I guess.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Diapers: Who Knew?

Did you know that not all diapers are created equal? Aaron and I had always thought the diaper commercials were just marketing ploys, pouring the blue colored water into a brand name diaper to show how much it could hold compared to its competitors. We thought that until last Friday, when we had to use a different brand diaper because we'd run out of our normal diapers and couldn't find them in our size (preemie - up to 6 lbs, in case you are wondering). Sigh. I didn't know.

I thought huggies would be just fine because, well, why not? And besides, they were decorated with Winnie the Pooh and friends. Problem A: these are supposed to be diapers for LITTLE babies, but were significantly wider than our normal diapers. Haven already seems a little bow-legged - we don't need a diaper to exasperate the problem. Problem B: these are supposed to be diapers for LITTLE people, up to 6 lbs. Haven is pushing the upper limit of the threshold, just now weighing in over 6 lbs (Yay!) So if she's on the BIG side for this size diapers, why do we have to criss-cross the tabs over one another, practically attaching each tab to the opposite thigh, in order to keep the diaper on? Problem C: every diaper we put on Haven leaked, due to problems A and B.

So it's true: we will listen to commercials from now on. If you containing waste is important to you, within in reason, then Pampers really ARE better than Huggies.

See what we are learning these days??

Someday I think we'd like to transition to a waste management program that is a little more environmentally friendly, but I'm waiting until Haven is a little bigger and fits more standard baby things (for instance, a rolled up clothe diaper is about the size of her torso - that may be an exaggeration, but I'd like to wait until something like that wouldn't take over her ENTIRE body). Until then, we are polluting away. Sorry, dear environment. We promise to make amends soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pump Session: Gifts, Part II

Dear Haven,

Last night, we were all out for a walk together as a family as the moon was rising. It was big, golden, and so tangible, almost reachable there above the trees in the neighborhood. I love the moon – I love the silent witness it seems to bear to our nights, some of them dark, some of them bright. Last summer, at the contemplative retreat, the moon sat as a small sliver of light in the western sky just above the pine trees. This summer, at the retreat, the moon was full and bright. At night I would leave my window open for the fresh, cool pine air and each night I would check to see what streetlight was outside my window, only to find the moon instead, shining bright across the mill pond. As we walked together as a family, as the moon rose, I remembered that it was the four-week anniversary of your birth. That means that four weeks ago the moon would have been big and full, just on its way in or its way out, I can’t remember. Did you arrive at the beckoning of the moon? Did it have a pull on you that brought you here early? I don’t know. But maybe.

In Oregon, the full moon also illuminated the labyrinth, the dirt circle of prayer that lay next to the mill pond, amongst the trees and flowers and deer. I carried you on the labyrinth with me this year, we journeyed together in that sacred space. Before we walked the labyrinth, Nancy reminded us that the labyrinth was like god’s womb, that we were held in that space, in that journey, in that circle where we could not get lost, as if in god’s womb, in the center of god’s mercy. A space to be, a space where things did not need to be solved or figured out. And so we walked together that day in June, on the warm dirt, following the sliver stone guides as we made our way to the heart and back. I remember at one point facing east, letting the sun hit my face, raising my hands to the sky, shining you, my belly, to the trees to the blue sky, to the brilliant sun. I was warmed, immersed in that moment.

And so, four weeks ago, as the moon was big in the sky, you were busy making your way to the world and I was scared. This wasn’t what I was expecting for your arrival – I did not feel prepared and was unsure of what the day would bring, unsure of if you would be okay or not if you came this early, unsure of what all this meant. In a moment of rest I began a conversation with you and this conversation turned out to be such a gift to me, to your dad, and hopefully to you. I believe it is what brought you here, into this world, into our arms. I wrote about it in a letter to two very dear friends – it’s the best summary I have of my special moments with you:

When I went to bed last Monday night, I did not think that I'd wake up to my water breaking and that my Tuesday would mean the birth of my daughter - the week has been somewhat bewildering to say the least. My labor and delivery went well - Aaron was a wonderful companion and my doctor, the one I felt so grateful to have found this spring, was truly amazing during the delivery. There was a moment of calm in the early evening on Tuesday, when my epidural had kicked in after a very long few hours of contractions with very little to no break, where I rested and had a long conversation with Haven. I realized that we were both probably scared and weren't sure what was happening, weren't sure how this had become the birth day, and so in my conversation with her we walked over to the OE [Oregon Extension] labyrinth and I told her all about the labyrinth, how it was a space where we could journey, where we were held in all of our fears and joys and sorrows, where it was as safe and merciful as god's womb. And we walked the labyrinth together, carrying our fears with us, understanding that it was okay to have those fears, that we were safe and held. Sometimes we were alone on the labyrinth, sometimes we stopped to face the sun, sometimes we stopped on the little axes at the corners for strength and rest. Sometimes there were others on the labyrinth with us, and I named all of those people to Haven, told her what wonderful companions and fellow-journeyers they were to us.

The conversation began to wind down and Haven's heart rate began to drop and to become a little more erratic, which signaled to just about everyone in the room that she was deeply engaged in my pelvis and probably ready to make her way out. It was time to push. Aaron and I had a few moments to connect, to feel the weight of what was about to happen, and for me to share with him my conversation with Haven. The delivery was a little touch and go at times - I guess when they are this young they can't always handle the trauma of childbirth - but my doctor did some amazing work and I kept reminding Haven and myself that we were sitting in the center of the labyrinth, in the center of God's womb, and all would be well. Next thing I knew, I had a little baby on my belly and she looked at Aaron and I and began to wail, which everyone thought was tremendous that her lungs were working so well. :)

Dearest Haven, may the full moon always pull us into being, may the new moon grant us rest, and may we always remember that we are held so tenderly in the mercy of god’s womb.

(Thanks, Sarahs, for the onesie!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sometimes we sleep, sometimes we don't

Haven has been home for almost two weeks now and we feel like we are getting the hang of a few things. We also feel mystified by a few things, but figure that this will be part of our lives as parents. Do you ever really figure your children out completely? I didn't think so.

We are all doing pretty well. Haven is eating well, breast feeding well, and growing every day. She sleeps pretty well, too. Usually. For the most part. We are a wee bit sleep deprived every morning, but we don't have much to do except take care of Haven, so we are able to find time to rest as needed. (I will note: my last full night of sleep was August 5. I slept for 9 solid, dream-filled hours. Sigh. I assume this won't happen again for a good few years.)

My mom was in town last week and the week before that, which turned out to be an enormous help, especially since Aaron was working those two weeks. I had one afternoon by myself, after she left for the airport and Aaron was finishing up work. Nothing went wrong - really, it was fine - but I do think that baby-tending needs to be a two person job. At least if one is ever going to brush one's teeth.

Since Aaron is home this week, we decided to welcome Zoe back into our lives. She'd been staying with Aaron's parents since Haven was born and, while we've missed her, we didn't have the capacity to take on dog responsibilities in addition to our new adventure. So, Zoe came home yesterday. I think she is happy to be home and extremely curious about the siren that keeps sounding periodically, wondering what animal makes such a noise. She likes to investigate Haven with her big tongue, so there hasn't been much chance for her to investigate. Though she did get a few big licks of Haven's feet. Haven wasn't pleased. We like having Zoe around, but it will keep us busy to keep up with all of our dependents' needs.

Almost time for bed - at least for a short bit!

Finally some pictures!

From Schuhtastic!
From Schuhtastic!
From Schuhtastic!
From Schuhtastic!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pump Session: Discharge Day

Dear Haven,

Three weeks ago today, a post-partum nurse wheeled me out the front entrance of the hospital where your dad was waiting for me with the car. I held my purse in my lap and sat uncomfortably, still sore from the labor and delivery. In the days following my discharge, your dad and I would see this scene repeatedly, a new mom in a wheelchair by the curb, a car awaiting her, a baby in her arms. It was incredibly painful for us to leave the hospital empty handed, so difficult to have worked so hard, to have experienced so much and yet seemed to have nothing to show for it. We felt a little lost at the time, and plenty scared. I was scared that I wasn't pumping enough, wasn't producing enough and that my breasts would shrivel up and fall off and I wouldn't be able to provide you with the one thing I still had that was perfect for you. I think we were scared about what you were experiencing, what all of the machines and tubes, wires and lines, ultrasounds and scans were saying about you, communicating to you. And I think we were sad to leave you in a little plastic box rather than someone's arms. It was such a bewildering time for us.

You are home now, currently sleeping in my mom's arms while I pump just a little milk. My breasts didn't shrivel and fall off and the amazing part of this week is that you've started breastfeeding. Just a little bit but you are getting the hang of it - and I am so thrilled (especially thrilled that I might be able to not pump in the near future!).

I must admit that we are still sometimes scared, and still sometimes bewildered, and still sometimes a little sad that the start of our journey together was a little less than perfect. But it's less scary, less sad, less bewildering when we get to hang out with you. We are so glad that we are now all finally home together.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pump Session: Gifts, Part I

This summer, the contemplative retreat in Oregon (you know, right about the time I scratched my eyeball) afforded me the time and space to connect with my pregnancy, with Haven, that the previous weeks of worry and doctor-searching had left little room for. I arrived feeling healthy and energized, with all of this time and quiet to listen to my pregnancy, to just pay attention to what was going on inside of me. I could sit during morning and evening prayers with my hand on my belly and wait for her to move, marveling in the kicks, the flutters, the swirls. I went for walks and hikes regularly during the week, enjoying the fresh air and the sweat and the blood pumping through my veins, enjoying the extra package that I carried on each of those walks. Each morning, I spent some time in the silence stretching, doing yoga, in the sun, feeling the power and life of my body slowly and in sunny warmth. Fellow retreatants rubbed my belly, offered prayers for the little girl I was carrying, and gave Haven tokens, gifts, of love and prayers. In terms of my pregnancy, it was a very special week of connecting with the life that was growing within me.

Prior to the week of the retreat, I'd had a difficult time connecting my pregnancy with God. All of my images of God felt very very male - kind and compassionate, but male nonetheless. But throughout the week, images of the womb, of life, and of birth seemed to come up repeatedly, serendipitously, be it in prayers or lectio divina or the labyrinth. There seemed to be something very spiritual about the womb and birthing. And then, in the midst of connecting to my pregnancy and wondering how God might be connected to me in this, one of the retreat leaders shared with us that in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for God's mercy toward his people is the Hebrew word for womb. God's mercy is womb mercy, which seems like a decidedly female image of one of God's most powerful attributes - mercy looks like the womb. That did it for me. With all the images of God, whether God was male or female or whatever, God knew something about having a womb, carrying a new life, granting that life grace and protection, sanctuary, nourishment, wonder, and sacrifice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Family Resemblance

In order to finish her dinner tonight, Haven had to take a break for a poop. Once that was taken care of, she could finish her bottle no problem.

Sounds just like a certain brother of mine.

We are doing well. I'll update more soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

She's Home!

We are so happy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pump Session: Isn't She Lovely

Dear Haven,

Tonight is your two week birthday. Tonight at 9:20 we were busy burping you, coaching you to "burp like Puppy Zoe" (for Zoe knows and always burps after she eats, which signals to your dad and I to reach for a towel and wipe off her big sloppy, flappy jowls before she either shakes her head or wipes it on our legs). Two weeks ago at 9:20, I gave birth to you with all my might and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I sobbed once I knew you had been born, overwhelmed, exhausted, and exhilarated. I don't know if I have the words really to describe that moment, the moment of a new life's arrival, of your arrival, but what a gift.

Tonight, after you did successfully burp like the dog (well, not quite as big or impressively as the dog, but soon you'll catch up to her), you fell asleep against my chest. Quietly, peacefully. And for as sad as I am that your first two weeks have been spent in an uncomfortable, bland hospital, there was a moment tonight where the quiet little radio in the room was playing Stevie Wonder's song "Isn't She Lovely?" And it felt so wonderful to hold you, breathing together, and think about how lovely, how wonderful you are to us.

Sleep well. Grow big and strong tonight.

Haven Pictures

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Visit from Zoe

Since Haven's arrival, our wonderful dog Zoe has been staying at Grandma and Grandpa Schuh's house, hanging out with her cousin Jake (their family dog). She seems to do well there and has a nice little routine that looks something like this: sleep in past Jake's morning walk, breakfast, Tour of the Yard for the morning, napping, inside for the afternoon, more napping, dinner, a walk, and more napping. I think she especially likes the Tour of the Yard portion of her day, where she meanders around the yard, doing who knows what, occasionally snagging the World's Best Pinecone to munch on (though Jake usually takes the WBP from her and munches on it while she searches for the Next Best Pinecone - they certainly get their fiber).

But, we miss our dog. We aren't able to handle all of the walks and maintenance and care right now, with Haven still in the hospital and ourselves just barely keeping up, but we so miss our big cuddly, hairy, slobbery dog. So today, Aaron's sister brought Zoe to our apartment for a day visit and it's been a great day. Yes, she's spent most of her day sleeping and napping in her favorite spots, enjoying the fact that Jake is not a mere two inches away from her at all times, but sleepy dog or not, it's been so nice to have our fuzzy friend in the apartment again. We'll be excited for the day when all four of us can be a family.

Today has been a pretty good day. Aaron and his sister went to visit Haven this morning, while I stayed home to rest a bit more and to get a few things done around the house (like paying bills). Aaron and KT came home with a great report on Haven, saying she was doing well with her feedings and that she'd gained weight and was up to her original birth weight. Yesterday they put her on the light therapy again but today took her off of it because her numbers were back down again. Aaron got to feed Haven and she took all of it and burped well for him and then was awake and alert after the feeding, which is some of our favorite time, when she's looking around and "exploring" as much as one does at that age. It also sounds like they are hoping to wean her off the IV in the next couple of days, if her feedings continue to go well.

A good report and a good time with Haven today. I also got out for a walk with the dog this afternoon - I haven't really been outside much since Haven was born - and I was able to make a few phone calls this afternoon and take a nap. Tonight Aaron and a friend of ours are going to visit Haven together so that I can go to book club - I think being able to be hang out with some friends this evening will be helpful.

So that's the scoop for today. I'll have some pictures to post soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our unexpected journey

My schedule these days consists of pumping, sleeping, eating, and visiting the hospital, not necessarily in that order. More pumping, less sleeping, and two trips to the hospital a day. Eating is usually done on the fly, as I'm either trying to get out the door to the hospital or trying to get myself to bed for a much needed nap. We are definitely on a journey we by no means could have predicted or imagined a couple of weeks ago.

I'm not sure where to start in updating you or sharing what's going on, but I'll start with this...the highlight of my day, in all of the ups and downs, the triumphs and disappointments, the highlight is definitely any time spent with Haven. We are now able to hold her as much and as long as we'd like when we visit and we take whatever opportunity we can to cradle her in the nook of our arms and watch her sleep (she does a lot of sleeping - apparently growing is hard work). We study her face and stroke her soft little head. We peek at her fingers and rub her toes and marvel at her small little body. I mostly marvel that this small little body was inside of mine until very recently.

But are days are long and short and tiring. I can't really explain the myriad of emotions that I experience throughout the day, but trust me - they run the spectrum. Some days are better than others, some moments better than others, and we are doing what we can to keep our heads above water. Aaron has been a tremendous support and together we are sad and happy and frustrated and joyous.

And Haven, overall she is doing well, and I think overall is making progress. Her eating has slowed down a little over the last day or so and they added a tube this morning to help with that. Watching the nurse guide a tube down my little girl's nose to her belly was NOT a good moment in my day today. But, I think little by little we are getting there. Being in the NICU is the best place for her right now, but it is still tremendously difficult for us to endure...

That's all for now. Off to the hospital for our evening visit.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby Schuhtastic

Haven Elizabeth Schuh is here!
Born Tuesday, August 19th at 9:20 pm
4 lbs 13 oz and 18 inches long

Haven is doing well but in the NICU since she decided to make her grand entrance early.  Aaron and I are doing well, overall, but feeling tired and overwhelmed at times.  We want Haven to come home soon.

Your prayers are coveted.  I'll update more soon...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mean Phlebotomist

I don't much like needles.  I don't like having my blood taken.  I can trace it all back to a blood test I had done in 5th grade, where the blood-drawer had to dig around for a vein and it took forever and was painful.  And the results from the test showed nothing, so they proceeded to do two more tests. Ever since then, I detest needles.  I get shaky and warm and sweaty and cold and faint if anyone tries to stick me with a needle - whether it's the poor dentist trying to administer novacaine, or the impatient phlebotomist trying to take blood out of me.  When I was young, my mother would call ahead to any clinic or dentist or what have you to let them know that I didn't handle needles very well and that they might want to prepare themselves for some possible fainting.

What doesn't help me at all, when faced with a needle, is to have someone who is mean or impatient with me.  If the person with the needle rolls their eyes and treats me like I'm an idiot, I freak out all the more.  I KNOW it doesn't hurt - that's not really the issue at this point.  The issue is that my body has a response that I can't seem to short circuit.  It associates bad things with needles and your impatience or meanness or eye-rolling doesn't help cause.  


This is why I put off baby-making for so long.  I heard that they want to take your blood.  And not just once, but a million times.  And then, to have the baby, they want to give  you an IV.  All of this information was enough to keep me on the pill.  But then in January, there I was staring at two pink lines, knowing that someone was now going to want to do a blood test.  At least one, if not two, or a gazillion.   I would have to gird myself for this.

The first time I went in for a blood test, the waiting room was crowded and the wait was long and I thought "This place is just filled with needles and vials!  That's all they do here - fill vials with people's precious blood!"  When I was finally called in, with Aaron in tow to provide moral support (and catch me if necessary), I explained to the woman that I don't handle needles very well and that I would need to lay down so as to not faint on her.

And then, miracle of all miracles!  She was nice!  She was so kind.  She, of course, wanted me to lay down.  She didn't want me to faint!  She would find the arm with the best looking vein and she would use a small needle and she would work as quickly as she could!  Oh, and look at her pictures of her dogs on her wall!  And all of the crayon-penned notes from the kids who have survived blood tests from her!  She didn't think I was a wimp at all - she'd rather know that I didn't do well and work accordingly than have me try to NOT be what I am (afraid and woozy). And you know what??  It worked.  It was the best blood test ever.  I barely felt a thing, I barely got any of the wooziness, and I was sitting up within just a few minutes (I usually have to lay there for awhile to let my system calm down and recalibrate).

The doctor wanted like five more blood tests (that may be an exaggeration) and as long as I went to see the Wonderful and Kind Phlebotomist (WKP), everything was fine.  I would smile, I would laugh, I wouldn't faint, and I would be in and out in no time flat.  Everything was fine, until last week.  When I saw the Mean Phlebotomist (MP).

I didn't think it would be so bad to not see the WKP - I thought, I've been fine the last few times, I'm doing so much better at this, how bad can it be to not have WKP draw blood?

How bad can it be?  Bad.  The photo is seven days post-blood draw and that's the biggest bruise anyone I know has seen after a blood test.  MP was terrible.  I'll spare you the details but she was mean and, frankly, unskilled.  Lots of jabbing, lots of movement (I felt every vial change) and not much sympathy.

If there's a next time, I will only go to WKP.  I've also considered finding out if WKP administers IV's and if so, if she can attend my labor for that purpose only.  It probably doesn't work that way.  My hope is that I can get away with no IV - or that I end up with WKIVP (Wonderful and Kind IV Person).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clear skies

In Los Angeles, every once in awhile comes a crystal clear, see-for-miles-on-end kind of day. We had such a day on Memorial Day weekend, when our friends Joy and Ryan were in town for a visit and decided to do a short hike up on Mulholland Drive, just west of the 405. The storms and cool weather had cleared out and polished the view on all sides - rain clouds to the north made for a dramatic view of the San Fernando Valley and her mountains, downtown Los Angeles stood tall and bright to the east, and to the south we could see the glittering ocean, the beaches, and even Catalina Island. It was a spectacular day. A treasure of an LA day.

It was a lovely weekend with Joy and Ryan. They really wanted to go to the beach during their visit, but it was just too cold and Ryan doesn't like to be cold (I don't either). Ryan also doesn't like to go for walks, but we had promised him special treats if he came with. I don't think we followed through on the special treats, and I don't know we'll be able to coax him along again, but at least it was a beautiful day.

(that's Joy and Ryan running down a hill)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pregnancy: Week 25

Six months?! I'm already six months pregnant, which means that I'm about 60% through my pregnancy. Well, this is certainly going along remarkably fast.

Aaron and I have been working like mad to sort, toss, organize and create space in our apartment for a baby and baby stuff. I cleaned our files (why did we have that file with the one piece of paper in it that meant nothing?) and organized our photos (wow - I've just never had good hair), while Aaron hung drawers and shelves in our closet (which may or may not have involved some sawing of wood) and sorted through camera and film gear. We are soon to get rid of our TV! Which means we'll have some room in the living room for the computer. And sometime this summer, I will relinquish my wonderful desk that Aaron made me to his parents, on long-term loan. I'm having trouble parting with this last one, as it represents my space, physically and emotionally. I'm not sure all the ways that this baby will change us, change our lives, but I'm pretty sure it's going to change things. And part of that means not always having my space - both physically and emotionally. To giving up the project table, even only temporarily, represents this shift. Not necessarily bad, but change nonetheless.

I'm feeling good and enjoying carrying around this little girl inside of me. Aaron seems to be enjoying her too lately, feeling her kick more often, talking to her, and connecting. I hope he sees some promise in all of her kicking for a future life in soccer.

Any ideas for names?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pregnancy: Week 24


I scratched my eye today. Don't even ask me how because I can't believe I didn't BLINK in time. Okay fine, I was untangling a rope, the end of it (with the plastic tape on it) flipped up and hit me in the eye before I had time to blink. I didn't blink. I thought our reflexes were supposed to be fast enough to prevent these sorts of things?

I went to the eye doctor and it is indeed scratched, right in the center of my eye. Part of it is superficial (nearest the center of my eye) and part of it is quite deep (further out). The deep part will most likely scar, which could create vision problems depending on how the scarring shapes up. I realize that scars can be cool, but a scar on the eye means no one can see it but me. All the time.

So, here's to speedy healing as I sleep and rest. Here's to not much effect from the scarring. And here's hoping for no headaches the next few days.

Update, Sat AM: Apparently, sleep really is a good healer and eyes heal quickly (I should have remembered this from eye surgery). My eye feels MUCH better this morning and my vision seems fine or better, at least. WooHoo!

On a better note - I head to the mountains of southern Oregon tomorrow morning for a week-long contemplative retreat. I'm so excited. There aren't even words to tell you how excited. I often joke that this is where my soul lives - in the Northwest - and I'm only partly joking when I say that.

Fresh mountain pine air - here I come.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pretty Girl

After a long hard day of swimming in the pool and playing with other dogs, Zoe got a bath, thanks to our friends at doggie day care.  This is no small feat, as our 105 pound bred-for-water-rescue galoot doesn't like to get her pretty little feet wet.  Since it's such a big job, we revel in the loveliness that is our clean dog - soft, shiny, fluffy, and smelling so very wonderful. When I walked in to pick Zoe up from her day of hard work, the girls at day care squealed when they saw me and said "She has bows in her hair!"  Indeed, she has bows and she is very very cute.  Perhaps even cuter than when she wears her pink bathrobe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pregnancy: Week 22

I met with my new OB today and everything about the experience - EVERYTHING - was totally different from my experiences with my former doctor.  I left this doctor's office feeling relaxed, informed, happy, and like this is a person I can trust with my body, my baby, and with the experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.  The new doctor is wonderful!

This week I suddenly feel big - not that I feel fat or that I'm self-conscious - more that my belly just grew big this week.  It's more noticeably out there, more in the way of everyday functions like bending at the waist (you should see me at yoga) or sleeping.  I'm also feeling the baby kick, swish, flutter, and swim all the time these days.  Aaron was able to feel the baby last week and it's now a morning ritual for him to lay with his hand on my belly while we are all three waking up.  The movements are bigger and more definite (and not yet uncomfortable).

And, from the ultrasound this morning, it looks like we are having a GIRL!  (Well, most likely a girl - it could also be a boy whose hiding or whose parts have not yet descended to where they are supposed to be.)

What a day!  How fun to finally feel like I'm enjoying my pregnancy!

Friday, May 23, 2008

That's a Wrap!

Movie-star sightings are a part of living in Los Angeles.  I've seen Eric Estrada at our local grocery store from time to time.  John C. Riley once shopped at the retails store where I used to work.  And, thinking she was reintroducing herself to a former work colleague of her husband's, a friend of mine very warmly exchanged hello's with Minnie Driver at the local coffee shop that we frequent.  Oh, and the El Pollo Loco commercial guy visits our dog park.

They are around, here and there, and pretty much they are normal people.  Grocery shopping, out with the dog or kids, grabbing a cup of coffee.  And generally, they are nice - they'll acknowledge a smile or say hello.

My husband works in the film industry and, because of that, he sees stars much more regularly than I do.  And because he sees them regularly, works with them day in and day out (and when I say work with, I mean they are on the same set), he tends to see them as fairly normal - they are just people.  He also gets to see the range of human behavior and the range of star-behavior, some succumbing to the lure of stardom more than others.  He's met some people that have been really cool, really nice to the crew, and he's met some people that spend 20 minutes trying to decide, with their personal assistant, if they want their milkshake NOW or if they want it later, or if maybe they should get the milkshake now and put it in a cooler so they can have it later, unless of course later it is too melted and soupy and the assistant will then need to go get a new milkshake for them later.  Seriously.  20 minutes.

So we see movie stars as a pretty, normal regular part of life.  I'm sure that I pass more famous people than I realize, purely because I don't always know or recognize those who I should be admiring.   And though we aren't often star struck, it's not to say that I'm completely normal, open, or myself when I do encounter those who are famous.

Last night, we attended a wrap party for the movie that Aaron just finished working on.  The party was at a fantastic club in downtown Los Angeles - The Edison - in what used to be a power plant.   They kept much of the original machinery and inner-workings of the power plant, which is awesome, and the decor and atmosphere were amazing, too.  I don't frequent clubs, but this was a pretty nice place.  We milled about for a while, chatting with some of Aaron's coworkers, some familiar, some new to me.  In general it was a nice evening, with a mix of less-fancy, fancy, and more fancy people.  Loud music, drinks, fun and festive people.

Now, the main actor in this movie was Will Smith, and during the entire shoot, I envisioned Aaron having a conversation with Will that would go something like this:

Aaron: Hey Will!  How's it going?
Will: Great, man.  How are you?
The conversation would continue, would somehow come to the topic of dogs, our dog in particular, and Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer.  In addition, they would touch on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the song Summertime and it's significance to my high school days, and MIB. And then...
Will: Hey, why don't you and your wife come over to our place for dinner sometime?  And bring the dog!
Aaron: Great!

That didn't happen in all 10 weeks of shooting.  Aaron was apparently really busy and didn't have time to have this conversation.

As we walked into the wrap party last night, I had this conversation tucked in the back of my head, wondering if the opportunity would present itself for ME to have this conversation with Will.  Sure enough, as soon as we walked in to the club Aaron said that Will was here.  Since we were still in the foyer, I wondered what sort of magical powers he had to sense Will's presence.  Aaron looked over his shoulder and nodded towards a man I assumed was a bouncer - "That's his bodyguard."  Strange, wouldn't the bodyguard be NEAR his client?  Aaron corrected himself - "That's one of his bodyguards.  You'll know the other one when you see him."

The evening went on as mentioned above, milling, drinking, talking, laughing, but no Will (we walked through the entire place just to see).  As we were getting ready to leave, Aaron calmly mentioned to me that he spotted Will on the other side of the club.  Here was my chance!  Here was my chance for Will to see what great people Aaron and I are and to invite us over for dinner!  It would be swell!  I would be witty and interesting!  This will be great!

As we snaked our way through the room, we eventually came to a cluster of people laughing and talking and merry-making.  Aaron pointed me directly at the cluster until I realized that I was looking at Will Smith.  Once I saw Will, the question was whether or not I wanted to go say Hello to him.  Despite my brave visions of a witty conversation and an invitation to dinner, I was now very much shy and very not sure of what I - little old me - would have to say to HIM.  Why would he want to meet me?  What do I say?  I really love your work?  I think you are great?  Thanks for not being an asshole on set like other movie stars my husband has had to work with?

It took about ten minutes of moving closer and then moving further away, and then closer and then further away, before I finally decided that I should say Hi, when else would I have this opportunity.  And, it would give me something to blog about.  

So, we did it.  I can't really re-capture the conversation because I can't remember much of it.  I was NOT witty nor interesting, but Will Smith was amazingly nice, friendly, kind, and gracious.  And fun.  He recognized Aaron, was interested to meet me, and was just plain nice.  Did I mention how nice he is?  Because he's nice.  I don't know how he does it - I'm sure he spent the entire evening meeting people he doesn't know, taking photos with them, and all the while doing so with ease, with fun, and as if he's genuinely glad to meet you.

There was no invitation to dinner - my friend Jeanette says it's probably only because his schedule is really busy right now.  But I shook his hand, said hello and a few other non-interesting things.

And he was nice.  So normally, genuinely nice.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pregnancy: Week 21

That is me.  Gazing at my belly.  The photo was taken a week ago (at 20 weeks) and, I promise, I've grown since then.  I like my growing belly - both Aaron and I are astounded at how quickly my body is growing and changing, right before our eyes.  I'm still amazed, too, that there is a baby inside of me, another human being.  Early this morning, just after Aaron came in to the bedroom to kiss me goodbye, the baby started moving and swimming and fluttering all about.  I lay in bed for awhile, on my side with my hand on my belly, enjoying the confirmation that all is well.  

I'm feeling good and energetic these days, for the most part.  Aaron finishes work the end of this week (the current project he's been on) and we are both looking forward to a respite, more time together, more time to actually connect and to connect with the pregnancy.   I feel somewhat overwhelmed with the large Preparing For Baby To Do List we (I) have created, but also have a sense that we'll get done what we get done when we get it done - and the baby won't really know (or care) if we've organized our files or not.

After a hot, hot weekend, this day is finally cooling off and I enjoy the breeze coming in the window.  My feet and hands are warm and thick from our walk with the dog (which we did well after dark, after the temperature dropped) and I'm ready to go read for a bit and then head to bed.  It's been a good day (well, except for the part where I tried on maternity swimsuits, but I haven't been that covered up in a swimsuit since I moved to Los Angeles - it was unnatural).

Friday, May 9, 2008


Last week was a tough week.  I felt somewhat lost in the doctor-searching-childbirth-method-searching process - not sure what I was looking for nor how to find it.  I went to yoga class in the midst of this, feeling tired, discouraged, and, like I said, a little lost.  Yoga was very quiet and peaceful - I almost fell asleep at least twice - and in the middle of the practice, our teacher had us take a rest in Child's Pose, a rest from the stretching and instruction.  As I rested in that pose, like a small frog with my head resting on a bolster, my arms stretched out in front of me, the teacher encouraged us to relax, to feel our bodies supported by the props, by the mat.  I felt warm tears well up in my eyes as I surrendered my body, as I let it be supported, and I imagined that my whole body, my whole spirit, my whole soul, my new baby were all supported in that moment by the hand of God.

A gift.

Later that week, I devised a plan and compiled a list of midwives that I would begin calling.  I would simply set up introductory meetings, ask questions, and start to see where that led.  But before calling midwives, I had one last friend to call to ask about her birth experience and her doctor. And this is where I began to receive one gift after the next, each moment feeling touched by grace, where I felt held, supported, led.

My friend had an excellent experience - a difficult labor, but an excellent and kind doctor,  one who respects women's wishes to labor as they desire.  I began a mad flurry of phone calls to line up insurance and doctor's offices and, with the help of my kind and knowledgeable HR benefits director, all of the insurance and bureaucratic pieces fell in to place, one right after the other.  Everyone I spoke with on the phone was kind and helpful.  And the more I mentioned this doctor's name to people I knew, the more confirmation I received.

I have found a new doctor, though I've not yet met him.  And while this means delivering in a hospital, I feel comfortable that if my doctor is someone I can trust, that we can work to make the hospital experience as positive as it can be.  A home birth would be the ideal, but I don't have the money for it and I'd be nervous about insurance coverage if I had to transfer to the hospital.

Ultimately, I feel relieved and for the first time, I feel excited and at ease about my pregnancy.  I finally feel like I can relax.

And I truly feel like this was a gift of grace and compassion.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pregnancy: Week 17

My belly button is cavernous.

It is.  It truly is.  I realize that at some point my belly button will stretch out in ways I never thought possible and ultimately convert from an innie to an outie by the time the baby comes along.  What I didn't realize is that prior to this conversion, it apparently deepens and widens and softens and becomes cavernous.  I have a small cavern where once was my belly button.

This is the week that I feel like my belly "popped," as they say, the week where it's suddenly more noticeable that I have a round mound of a belly.  A little buddha bump, for that is how I feel.  I've moved out of my regular pants, for the most part, and into maternity pants, at least a few pairs.  It's not been as exciting as I thought it would be to find maternity clothes.  It seems that all of the cute clothes are expensive (for temporary clothing!) and cheaper clothes make me feel frumpy and as if I'm wearing a tent.  It's hard to know what size to get - these pants fit now and seem like they have some elastic room to grow, but will they fit in 3 months?  And buying the next size up is like donning a parachute.  An open parachute gathered around your shoulders and waist in a large tent-like fashion.   My rounded belly (and my voluptuous breasts) also mean that shirts don't quite fit like they did before.  My longer t-shirts and tanks are starting to creep up, scooching up my belly while I type at my desk, and my growing chest and rib cage are asking for more leeway in shirts too.  And then there's my underwear - I'm not exactly growing out of them, but they are starting to slide down in the front, which is only embarrassing to me in the event of a car accident or a Marilyn-Monroe-skirt-moment.  But still, I know they are sliding down, and it's not pretty, and does everything change?  Really? One friend offered to buy me the kind of underwear that fit up and over my belly.   I politely declined.

I've had a few more moments this week of feeling the baby move.  Last night on the couch, after dinner, there was definitely a fish-type movement in my tummy.  It was quick and such a strange sensation (it's been happening a bit while I write this entry, too).  I've become more aware of my uterus this week - certain squatting or leaning over positions are more uncomfortable.  It's hard to explain but pre-pregnancy not being able to bend in the middle had more to do with my (lack of) flexibility and now, suddenly (or gradually I guess), bending in the middle is more uncomfortable because there's this something inside - inside! - that's in the way.  And won't move.  All of this to say, what I think is so weird is that there's something inside - this whole package of life and life-support system - that is taking up residence in my body and beginning to make itself known.   I have a baby inside of me!  That is just the weirdest idea ever.

Probably the biggest thing of this week is my quest to find a new OB, which also brings me back around to whether or not I even want to be in the care of an OB (and ultimately a hospital birth, covered by insurance) or if I want to be seen by a midwife (home birth and paid for out of pocket).  My current OB and I do not share a similar vision of pregnancy and childbirth.  He's nice and all, but seems very concerned with how much more experience he has with this than I do.  He also seemed to insinuate he doesn't appreciate women who think for themselves - which I have a hard time with.  So I'm on the hunt for a new doctor and I hate it.   I would like for the right doctor to fall from the sky, open a practice just down the street from me, and deliver in the nicest, least medically hospital not far from home.   I'm not sure how to look for a doctor, not sure how to ask my questions, not sure if my questions will just put off the doctor. And I'm not sure if our current medical system allows for what it is that I'm looking for anyway. I know that midwifery "fits" me better - it fits what I want in terms of something holistic, an experience that trusts the body, and trusts that the mind and body are connected.  Something that is transformative and empowering.  Hospitals are more concerned with disease, things going wrong, and liability (which my current doctor also admitted, that some of his choices are simply to cover his ass).  

So, I don't know.  I'm not sure how to sort this out.  How to listen.  How to seek.  How to trust - my self and others.  I have a very strong sense that the answer lies somewhere within my self - that it is not about someone giving me the answer or mapping this out for me - but I feel or seem unable to find it.  If you are of the praying persuasion, I'd appreciate your prayers on this one - that I know how to listen, that I know how to seek, that I know how to trust.  And that I find what I need.

We took more pictures this weekend.  I will post one soon.

Monday, April 21, 2008


The other day I was slicing strawberries to eat with my yogurt.  As I was slicing, using my thumb as a stop for the knife as it slid through the strawberry, I realized that I was cutting the strawberry the way my mother would, the way I had always watched her cut fruit and quick and easy vegetables. I was usually in awe of my mom when she would do this, mostly because she still had both of her thumbs fully in tact.  I didn't understand how she could move the knife so deftly, cutting quickly but stopping just before slicing a finger.   And it's not that I was in awe of her as a kid - no, it's been in my adult life that I didn't think I'd ever cut a strawberry without a cutting board.   And then, there I was, cutting a strawberry just like my mom would.  When did that happen?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Mostly leftovers: salmon, brown rice, Cheetos, some peas.  And applesauce.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pregnancy: Week 16

Something shifted this week with my slightly-more-noticeable belly.  I'm not sure if it's that I've been drinking more water (because it's SO DRY) this week, or if my uterus grew enough, or if my uterus just shifted to a different position or what.  But this week I have to pee with a greater degree of frequency and urgency.  The one good thing about the fact that this urgency coincides with a growing belly is that either 1) my pants are already unbuttoned/unzipped before I even reach the bathroom or 2) my pants are made up primarily of elastic (no button or zipper to begin with), both of which make for very efficient potty breaks.  I encourage the no-button-no-zipper lifestyle - way easier.  And it comes with a pretty cute belly too.  Jeans with elastic in the back for every woman!

My food cravings seem to be dying off a bit these days, which is nice (though less entertaining for you, Olivia).  Grilled cheese sandwiches made with American cheese, which were in for the past month, aren't capturing my attention this week.  Cheetos - flavor of last week - are also out this week, though I could be persuaded to take up a bag if needed.   And Frosted Flakes are now far from my craving memory.  I also don't feel as crazy hungry as I did in the first few weeks of pregnancy and I feel like there are more options for satisfying my hunger when it does strike.  It's still not a good idea to let me get anywhere close to hungry - a slightly monstrous and crabby woman appears - but this was mostly true pre-pregnancy.  I don't do well without food or access to food.  I also don't do well if people take food from me, but you know that story already.

I started a pre-natal yoga class this week and I love it.  While each session demonstrates my lack of flexibility and coordination, it gives me this space in my week where I breathe deeply and with conviction and a bit of grace, too.  I spend most of the class thinking "I could fall asleep in this position and it would be lovely."   I love that it's slow and gentle, there's no competition to do better, pose quicker, or be more flexible - there's just this gentle encouragement to feel my body, to open, to be strong, and to surrender gently.  Have I mentioned that it's gentle and calming?  I think what sold me on the class, though, is the teacher.  She has this energy about her that is so lively in a life-giving sort of way.  Not a perky, cheerleader-type energy, but someone who seems full of and interested in life and giving birth to life.  I think this is hard to explain, but it's very attractive to me.  Oh, and she remembered my name the second time I came back to class and greets me with warmth and enthusiasm and interest whenever I walk into the yoga studio.  It's what I want church to be like, I guess.  A place where I feel welcomed, where there is space and grace and I'm allowed to go at my speed according to my breath and my flexibility. Until I find church, I might just keep getting pregnant so I can continually take this class.

In the next few weeks, I should be able to feel the baby move in my belly.  I spend a lot of time "listening" to my belly.  When I go to bed and when I wake in the morning, I place my hands on my belly and wait, trying to decipher the movements and shifts, if any, in my body.  Was that gurgle the baby moving or was it just a gas bubble moving down the line?  This twinge of pain, is it a ligament stretching or something tapping my insides?  I'm pretty certain that what I felt on Sunday evening were these early movements, someone doing flips and wiggles in my uterus. There is another life inside of me, which I find so strange, so extra-ordinary. I can barely believe that we have this capability, that this is where babies come from, that this is where you and I came from.  Sometimes I find pregnancy so astounding and sometimes so mundane.  It seems like a wonderful tension to live in, between the natural and supernatural.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The sliver moon

Last night, while walking the dog, on the way home, just before home, I caught a glimpse of the sliver moon in the dusky western sky. The sky was still light, just beginning to darken softly, the sun just beginning to sleep, the sliver just starting to shine. The trees stood as dark intricate silhouettes against the sleeping waking heavens. This reminded me of Oregon, of the retreat, and of evening prayers, where I'd gaze out the windows at the sleeping sky waking sliver moon resting just a hair above the intricate outlines of the ponderosa pines. Cool quiet pine air settled around me in the dim room lit by our prayers of hope of pain of grace of joy of brokenness.

I feel unsettled today, and scared, and sad, if I am to be honest. The changes ahead feel daunting and difficult as Aaron and I consider dreams and family, living and being. Can we do what we do with a child? And do we want to? We, the two of us, have made adjustments and compromises, have found support and creativity to adapt to our non-traditional path. We've made it through New Orleans, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Baltimore, Kentucky, New York, and all over LA. But can we keep it up? Can we do this when our two that are one become three (well, four - let's not forget dear Zoe!)? Will we have the creativity, the support, the energy? I don't know. And I don't know what if not this.

There are no decisions being made today, and probably none for a while to come. We are doing our best to listen, at least I hope that's what we are doing. And maybe in the listening we will live in to the answers. I don't know. I'm not always good at this.

I long for cool pine air and I long for the intricate bold silhouettes of mountain pines. I long for the quiet of a young low in the sky moon. And I long for the grace of god.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Someone stole my cake

It's true.

Someone stole my cake last week.

(Julia is tired of this story, but, well, too bad. There are women in the midwest who need to know about the stolen cake!)

Last Monday was my 30th birthday and my friend Erika made me a chocolate cake - from scratch! - with delicious cream-cheese frosting dusted with crushed Thin Mint cookie crumbles. The cake was special to begin with - it's been a long time since I've had not-from-a-box-or-a-restaurant cake - but then add to that the fact that Erika has three children under the age of 3.5 years old. I barely have time to brush my teeth twice a day, let alone bake anything, and here she is, 3 kids hanging from her arms and legs, and she's baking me a cake from scratch. I felt pretty special.

And this was, by far, the best chocolate cake I've had in years! Years! It was sweet and moist and chocolate-y. And YumYumYummy.

After partaking of the best cake ever with some of my coworkers, I put two pieces of cake on a paper plate, covered them in plastic wrap, set them quickly in the fridge at work, and ran off to a meeting. I was so excited to eat another piece of cake the next day and to bring a piece home for my husband to enjoy, too. It was a hectic day and I didn't bring the cake home that night...

The next morning, as I was setting up for more meetings, I opened the fridge and happened to glance at my plate of chocolate cake - the very yummy and did I mention special? cake. And on the paper plate sat one lonely piece of cake and one skid mark of cake where the second piece had been, and the plastic wrap was neatly tucked around the plate.

Who steals birthday cake from a pregnant lady?!?

No one has confessed to taking my cake and eating it, too, even though I'm pretty sure that everyone within a three block radius knew that I was not very happy with the disappearance of my cake.

I'm almost done being upset about it. Almost.

Making Julia Happy (and Olivia and Paige, too)

Welcome to my blog.  I meant to start it this weekend, but Friday night I got stuck trying to pick a template that would be aesthetically pleasing and then fell asleep at 8:30 which afforded me little time for blogging.  And yesterday I had a tremendous headache after an attempt at attending church.  I feel the headache is a sign from God.  It also means I didn't blog.  

So welcome.  I'll write more soon and will try to make it more profound.  And moving.  Or at least interesting.

(and a big thanks to Julia for helping me set up a blog, and facebook, and myspace, and probably gmail, too.  sheesh - what would I do without you?)