Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sleep Is For The Weak

Has anyone read the book by that title, yet? It's a book of mommy bloggers and is reportedly quite good. Unfortunately, none of the bookstores nor libraries in my area are carrying it. I was able to read a rather alarmingly (from the publisher's viewpoint) excerpt of it and enjoyed that much of it. Anyway, it inspired me to start using that response when people ask how my children sleep. My children, as you know, are not sleepers. Megan does somewhat better than Charlie with periodic 4-5 hour stretches but those are interspersed with days or weeks of bi-hourly waking (if not more frequent). I have a near encyclopedic knowledge of the many facets of sleep training, sleep development, co-sleeping, bed sharing, and, in a related field, the psychotropic drugs parents may skip because they get the same effects after not getting a REM cycle for 6 months or so. "Sleep is for the weak," is really an ideal response since it manages to make light of what is actually an issue capable of driving me to the pits of despair. However, hysterical weeping isn't really something I want to do in the produce aisle. It also gives the clear indication that you are aware that the rest of the world thinks sleep is important but you have transcended the issue. Therefore, you don't require helpful tips. Finally, it gives a mild amount of healthy sarcasm to deal with those slightly smug parents, or worse, grandparents. My second favorite response is to say "Oh no, they're gifted." This also puts people enough off balance that the subject is quickly changed. You'll get some odd looks but you usually don't get told any of the more irritating tidbits of advice.

Sleep is the area where I think I am growing the most as a mother. I want to be the type of mom who can maintain a positive relationship with her children throughout their adulthoods. A lot of this seems to hinge on being able to accept your children as they are rather than who you want them to be. While I am not about to let my children decree that they only need 7 hours of sleep a day. I am learning to accept that my children aren't sleepers- there is still wailing and gnashing of teeth and gentle but firm guidance about when sleeping times are. I'm also learning to appreciate the reasons they aren't sleepers- the high social drive, the incessant desire to explore, the desire to be 100% there all the time. And now, if you'll excuse me, Megan only knows how to crawl backwards and seems to have lodged herself between the playhouse and table which is highly distressing for all involved.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gender Equity

I'm sorry. I haven't slept in about 2 weeks- last night was a banner night with 6 hours. We were traveling last week. By car. Through either 4 or 5 states (I lost track). With an infant and a toddler. The infant was teething. The toddler hadn't had a decent night's sleep in a month nor a good nap. The infant had just finished a round of vaccinations. The toddler (and I) had just had our flu shots. Nope, he didn't sleep in the car either. I am now eating large quantities of chocolate ice cream (I can't speak highly enough of Dove's Unconditional Chocolate). I will return when I can form a coherent thought.

However, this struck my fancy. An interesting take on how to explain the whole penis vagina thing when changing diapers.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Two Income Trap

I recently read The Two Income Trap by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. It was published in 2004 but is quite pertinent to the current financial situation and, in fact, predicted it to an extent. Elizabeth is a professor at Harvard. I must confess I'm not sure what her daughter does. The book's main premise is that the cause of increasing bankruptcy and disappearing middle class (and remember this was in 2004) is not due to the middle class spending frivolously but instead due to a convergence of risk factors that come together to spell disaster when families are faced with a fairly common array of moderate disasters.

They first make a compelling argument about school funding reform. The current system is mainly based on property taxes which means that the children in the more affluent districts wind up with better funded schools which leads to more people wanting into that school district which causes the housing prices to go up even more. So, parents have a compelling motivator (their children's wellbeing) to buy houses which they can just barely afford. Secondly, since mothers began entering the workplace, it is now the norm to be competing against families with both adults contributing income which has cause housing prices, in proportion to overall income, to raise even higher. This means that not only can the parents only barely afford the house they feel vital to their children's future happiness and prosperity but, both parents MUST be working to have any hope of making the payments.

The authors then go into great detail about the horrible practices of the banking and credit industries which led to their collapse a few short months ago (as the authors predicted). Basically, the more difficulty you have paying back a loan, the more these companies would like to lend to you. The authors make a very astute argument refuting the common assertion that people are simply less honorable than they once were. In fact, it was much more that once people began having difficulty paying bill their credit was cut off, greatly decreasing the amount of debt people could accrue and greatly decreasing the risk factor for the lender. At this point, it seems the creditors are getting exactly what they deserve for lending to people in such a predatory manner.

I found the arguments FOR remaining a one income family rather validating. The authors pointed out the value of having one person not in the job market. First, because of the non-monetary contributions I make to both my immediate and extended family. In addition to providing child care, cooking, cleaning, etc, I am also available to help fill in the gaps should my husband ever loose his job. While I won't make as much as he does, when combined with unemployment we will still be doing considerably better than if our income was abruptly halved with no means to make up for the loss.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Jury of Her Peers

When I was in college I took a class in Women's Literature. One of the works we read was A Jury of Her Peers, as short work by Susan Glaspell. The full text is available here and it's an excellent and quick read. At any rate, I've been thinking about that story a lot lately and the idea of a jury of my peers and what they might excuse. Once upon a time, it never crossed my mind that I might be tempted to thwap a dog but then Penny started barking just as I got Megan down the other day. I never thought I would grow tired of holding a sweet faced baby, especially one that was smiling and loving until earlier this week when Megan had needed to be held constantly for several days- teething and lack of sleep having gotten the best of her. I never understood the motivations of shaken baby syndrome until an epic round of nap battles with Charlie while I pregnant with Megan. Giving into the impulses is still unforgivable but these unfathomable thoughts can be understood by a jury of ones peers.

Mommy blogging gives such an interesting change in perspective to what was once secret. I often think about my mother and her generation as well as those that came before. They seem to have lived up to so much more than I, at least, manage. They had dinner on the table at 5, a clean house, and children that slept without black-out shades and sound machines. I have to remind myself that they also had valium, evening cocktails, and all manner of "help." I'm sure that all manner of things were shared over coffee cake and tea but they were never publicly recorded as they are now. It seems to me that those poor women of our mother's generation were determined to do it all and appear to make it all effortless. I sometimes feel looked down upon by women of a certain age when I point out that I won't be attending x,y, and z because I don't have childcare or that it will be from a box because that's all I have time for. At the same time, it seems that the mothers of our time have a certain level of confidence our predecessors lacked. We can admit to things falling down about our heads, the crazy thoughts you have 45 minutes into a nap that isn't happening, and the dreadful pain of post partum depression. We no longer have to prove that we can earn the bacon and cook it up as well. We have moved past that (to an extent) and can let it all hang out in cyber-space. At the same time, the secret camaraderie that created the jury that secretly acquitted Mrs. Wright no longer seems to exist. We constantly divide over breastfeeding, sleep training, where we will work and what we will label ourselves. While we are all there for a mother struggling through some difficulties there are other times that unproductive criticism seems to come from the woodwork. The public sharing of the many burdens and frustrations of mother hood is so very welcome but where did the sympathetic jury go?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Walk to Beautiful

Today was not one of my favorite parenting days. Charlie didn't sleep well last night and his behavior today showed it and then he didn't go down for a nap this afternoon. Megan is teething and just broke her 1st tooth. She's well into the 6 month growth spurt which is generally alleviated with the addition of solids but Megan isn't wild about solids so there has been lots and lots of nursing at all hours as of late. I was cross and cranky and ready to run for the hills by the time my husband came home today and then I watched NOVA while I nursed Megan.

The NOVA episode tonight was A Walk to Beautiful and was about women suffering from obstetrical fistulas. WARNING: We are now wandering into a girl bit heavy post. I don't think it's too terribly graphic but if you flinch when passing the feminine hygiene aisle give a nice donation to the WHO and be on your way...

I was in labor with Megan for 18 hours. It was mostly back labor and was somewhat unproductive. My contractions were significant to wake me up by 7 am and I was fully effaced by the time I got to the hospital at 3 ish. But, I was only dilated to 3 cm. My contractions didn't form a good pattern and I dilated only 1 more centimeter over the next 3 hours or so (my memories are fuzzy). I hung out in the shower for a while but didn't want to get into a tub, which would have relieved my discomfort, because it could slow my labor even more. I finally got an epidural when we decided I should start pitocin around 7. The epidural was only somewhat effective. The doctor discovered that Megan was turned and got her to turn properly which helped rather more than the epidural. Unfortunately, she turned back (most unusual) so I spent the last hunk of labor, aided by pitocin and largely unaided by an epidural with a baby in a very wrong spot. It really, really hurt. Happily, I am a champion at dissociation and can therefore only rememeber that it hurt in the most abstract way. I remember simply focusing on not panicking and reminding myself that I really wasn't in danger or about to die. I went beyond breathing, relaxing, focusing, or coconut visualizations and simply tried to not try and fling myself out of the bed to run away from the torture and torment I was going through. I remember my husband pointing out that I was not relaxing and wanting to Do Something to him because "Duh!!!" but not being able to focus beyond the pain to do whatever it was.

I pushed for an hour. I know they were good pushes. My forehead began to hurt from the pressure of my pushing. I spun on the bed. I felt my muscles move in co-ordinated and strong movements. After an hour, Megan's foot remained in the same spot in my ribs as it had been for the last 2 months of my pregnancy. I was exhausted. I was very ready for a c-section.

After Megan was delivered (the epidural never did work so I was anesthetized), I was told that she was 2 pounds heavier than Charlie even though my measurements and weight gain had been the same. I was told that the opening she would have had to pass through was too small. I was told that she had never actually engaged in my pelvis and that was why she was able to rotate back after being rotated to a correct position. Finally, I was told that she had a 3 inch cone. I had pushed and pushed well but she wasn't going to come out without help. I am very proud of those 3 inches and also so glad I had ready access to high quality, obstetrical care.

The women in "A Walk to Beautiful" didn't have that sort of access. They were in labor for days, sometimes up to 10. Their babies died. They labored and labored and never got to meet a little person at the end of it. Worse, some part of the baby had pressed against the birth canal over and over with every contraction, compressing the tissue and slowly killing it. Eventually, a hole between the urethra and vagina and/or the urethra and rectum opened. These women were then shunned. A hut would be built to keep them "from being eaten by hyenas" where these women would hope for death living a half-life of despondency.

Over time, the women suffering from fistulas in Ethopia can go to one of a precious few hospitals devoted to treating fistulas to get surgical treatment. They can cure 93% of the women and at least help the rest. This is a story worth learning about. The interview with the founder of Thee Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia is an excellent introduction.

There is nothing quite like a bit of perspective at the end of what formerly seemed a very long day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Motrin Follow-Up

So, tons of mommy bloggers (among others) told Motrin what we thought of the ad- some in considerably more vehement terms than I. And, Motrin has responded with a public apology and withdrawal of the ad. I have to give Motrin kuddos for a swift and respectful response. I have told my husband on a number of occasions that the best apology is a full assumption of being in the wrong. Once you have told someone that they were right about everything and you were completely mistaken they have very little room to quibble or argue. The matter can generally be put behind you both. In fact, it even raises you a bit, even if you were a complete ass previously since it conveys a subtle message of power to be confident enough to admit that the other person was completely the better at you at that moment. Way to give an apology Motrin.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Day In Cuteness

So, today was actually full of moaning, misery, and no naps but there are other days with lots of cute and I thought I would share some of it here...

Charlie tried to nurse his babydoll yesterday. Unfortunately, he used his bellybutton but, as everyone knows, breastfeeding can be difficult and confusing in the beginning and sometimes you need the help of a good lactation consultant. Today he changed his baby's diaper while I changed Megan's and then whipped me up a nice meal of brown sandwich, black plum, and brown chicken cookie. He is going to make some girl (or boy) so happy one day...

Charlie now calls his magazines "Megan-zines."

Last night, I nursed Megan in the dim light of Dr. Who but she wasn't quite ready to drift off. She was determined to get the giraffe on her foot (don't you just love Carter's, except for the whole tagless causing chemical burns, of course) into her mouth. So, she would work on that for a minute and then nestle into my chest with her thumb only to pop back to the foot issue again. She did that a few times and then gave the cutest little baby yawn, popped her thumb in her mouth and stayed asleep until almost 11. I realize other people would consider that a "bad sleeper" but any baby that goes to sleep without full-on hysterics (on both our parts) is a blessing in my book.

One of Charlie's favorite phrases is "Let's count them." Interestingly, there are 16 of a surprisingly large number of things in our house. The thing I find most interesting about this is that it was clearly learned while he was at "school" (mother's day out). It's so odd to realize he now has a life beyond his experiences with me.

Another phrase he must have heard at school was "I love..." While we say "I love you" with regularity it was only recently that he started using it in the more colloquial context. Of note, Charlie loves the following: fans, trashcans, and smoke detectors. This will make for an interesting Christmas.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby Wearing Scandal!

You may have noticed that I'm a wee bit crunchy. I wouldn't say I'm quite granola yet but I could definitely be cheerios with a splash of (locally produced and/or organic) milk.

One of the ways in which I manage to be both crunchy and practical is with baby wearing. We got both a sling and Ergo with Charlie. He hated both with a passion for quite a while, particularly with me. And then, one day, when he was about 8 months old he decided he liked the Ergo and my arms finally stopped aching at the end of the day and we could make it through a whole grocery trip without tears from either of us.

When Megan was born, she was popped in the sling until she was developmentally ready for the Ergo without the infant insert whether she liked it or not. It's the only practical way to manage a shopping trip with a toddler and an infant.

Baby wearing has a bit of a learning curve. You have to have things adjusted correctly and you may have to experiment with different "carries." You also have to be a bit picky about your carrier. Some aren't terribly ergonomic- the baby Bjiorn is notorious. But, within a week, with a well designed carrier you can carry your baby around with no more strain than you would have with a bookbag and less than if you were trying to simply carry the baby in your arms or on your hip. The Ergo is a godsend while Megan is in her all mommy, all the time phase. I can strap her on and do what needs to be done and she's happy and/or napping and I'm not loosing my mind from a crying baby. There are some sticky spots. I don't like to cook with her in the carrier and I haven't been able to change Charlie's diaper with her in the carrier. Although, if she were on my back, these wouldn't be problems. Overall, I'm just not sure what the lady in this commercial is talking about but it does sound like she needs to get in touch with peppermint and get some help. Motrin, shame on you...

Thanks for bringing this little bit of nonsense to my attention Barb!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I signed up to do daily updates on a breast feeding blog and forgot! I will try to do better. I had been able to update while Charlie napped and Megan bounced (heaven knows I don't want the naps to overlap- Megan falling asleep just as Charlie gets up is some much more restful and refreshing) but Megan has been clingy and the time change killed Charlie's naps and there we are...

Anyway, I have a new project. I think I would like to be a lactation consultant when I get to be something in addition to Mommy again. I have been looking into being a La Leache League Leader but I'm not sure it's for me which is unfortunate since that would have probably been one of the most efficient ways of doing it. So, for now, I thought I would focus on doing something about getting some sort of nursing degree. It's much easier to be employed as an LC if you are also a nurse although, I have to find out some more information since I would rather not take a side trip as an L and D nurse for 3 years while trying to get the requisite breast feeding education experience. I was thinking about an LPN but it appears I can get my RN with about 1 semester more of work so I think I will probably try for that. Of course, not much will start for a bit yet. I would like to be getting a consistent 5-6 hours of sleep a night before stabbing people with sharp instruments for fun and profit. I'm also a bit nervous about if I will do well in my practica. I am sure I can handle the medical aspects of being an LC and I think I could probably swing doctor's office nursing and that sort of thing but I have visions of not handling the OR terribly well but it seems like motherhood is wonderful desensitizer to all manner of bodily fluids so at least I have that going for me. To wander to my point...

I am always hearing about various mothers going back to get their teaching licence when times are rough because then they will have the same schedule as their children. I have to admit that I once thought they had a point but, now that I look into it, it seems nursing has it all over teaching. I am reasonably certain that you can make twice as much as a nurse (easily) as a teacher, have a much more flexible schedule, shorter lead time, an easier time finding a job, and have to bring a lot less work home with you. Per Diem work seems ideal for a mother, if nothing else works out. After all, you will probably need to put your child in some sort of care some of the time as a teacher. Even if you have to put your child in care for half the summer as a nurse, you will most likely still come out ahead. It seems to me that should my DH leave us tomorrow I think I would want an RN after my name way more than my current MEd.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It Gets Easier

I've noticed that get fairly frequent hits for "highly active infant" and I wanted to let those souls know that it does get easier, at least in my house.

As Charlie has gotten older we've learned more tricks to nip melt-downs in the bud and the lead-up to them is getting longer. Charlie's 2 big things are food and sleep. If he's having a hard time, first offer him a snack and then try to figure out how to get him to a quiet activity or, even better, to sleep.

On the issue of sleep, we now take a nice ride in the car everyday around 1:00. The big thing with the highly active infant as a toddler is getting him to hold still long enough to actually fall asleep. Since he is too large to swaddle and rocking for 30-45 minutes is out of the question with an infant in tow, strapping him into his car seat is the best solution we've found. At night, we've discovered that he needs wind-down time and he's finally old enough and has been consistently responded to long enough, that he will bounce around, sing, kick, and otherwise amuse himself in his crib. Periodically he'll give a holler and one of us will go up to fix his blanket and pat his back for a minute. After anywhere from 2 minutes to 1.5 hours, he will drift off. From what I can tell, there seems to be a trend among those tots that agree with Charlie on his views that sleep is a communist plot to be thwarted at every turn. The trend being that around 2, things start to fall in place and your child will suddenly start to sleep, if not through the night, then, at least, significantly more than they ever have before. Until then, when people say, "But you're getting some 6 hour stretches, right?" you can simply respond, "Sleep is for the weak." This isn't to say that 2 years of 2-8 wakings a night doesn't completely suck, it does, it REALLY does but, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Charlie is sleeping more now, than I think he's ever slept before.

The real treat is that that highly active infant, who couldn't turn off to save his life, took it all in. Charlie is a delightful toddler. He is inquisitive and highly verbal. The same drive that made him want to socialize at 2am also drives him to learn to talk. Charlie is easily 6 months ahead in his language development. That high socialization drive also means that he is sweet and relatively socially advanced- he has the rudiments of sharing and comments about how other feel. That incredible will that drove refusals to be molded into acceptance of naps and being put in the bouncy so I can pee for God's sake! is now focused on learning how the world works. The beginning was hellish but now I get to reap the rewards.

It gets better. It really does. Stick it out and there will come a day with sleep and speech and a smiling face.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ooh, la, la!

Amy stopped by my blog a week or so ago and am I glad she did! I just got a chance to check out her blog in turn and found that she has a fabulous Etsy shop that makes lovely wooden and handmade toys. I haven't ordered one (yet) so I can't vouch for the quality but they sure look quite well made. I had been stumped for Megan's Christmas gift (the trouble of being a 2nd child) but I think my problem may have been solved. She would love this rattle/teether. The roller elephant is adorable as well but we would have to pry it out of Charlie's hands first. Give Little Alouette a look for some wooden lovelies.

Baby Weight

So, my children may be less than ideal sleepers but I do manage to drop that baby weight! I am now 2 pounds less than I was when I got pregnant with Charlie and am hoping to nurse my way down another 5-10 pounds. Of course, things are still in rather different spots than they used to be but at least I can be happy when I step on the scale.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How To Go to the store in 39 simple steps

  1. Decide you are going to make felted dryer balls.
  2. Plan to go to craft store, leaving at 10.
  3. Begin preparing at 9:15.
  4. Start to change Charlie's diaper.
  5. Discover you are out of diapers downstairs and have to run up to get more.
  6. Start to change Charlie's diaper.
  7. Realize you forgot to wash your hands first and you have a cold sore.
  8. Wash hands.
  9. Wrestle toothpaste, hairbrush, sunblock, and fish food out of Charlie's hands as he helpfully cheers on your handwashing.
  10. Finally change Charlie's diaper.
  11. Charlie poops.
  12. Change Charlie's diaper.
  13. Change Megan's diaper.
  14. Run upstairs for Charlie's socks and shoes.
  15. Upon return smell something...change Megan's diaper only to discover a false alarm.
  16. Begin to wonder what the hell these children are eating.
  17. Put on Charlie's socks and shoes.
  18. Start to carry Charlie out to the car.
  19. DEFCON 1 is reached due to the girl not being on bus with friends and dog.
  20. Find girl hidden in corner, place in bus, sing round of Wheels on the Bus for good measure.
  21. Stop to put on my socks and shoes.
  22. Discover than none of my cute shoes go with outfit.
  23. Sigh over yet another frumpy day.
  24. Carry Charlie out to the car.
  25. Remind self to get Charlie's sacred red sippy cup.
  26. Get Megan.
  27. Put Megan in car.
  28. Give treats to dogs- watch Penny (45 pound, healthy dog) accidentally drop treat and Shirley (partially blind, deaf, arthritic, 25 pound dog) steal it from under Penny's nose.
  29. Sigh.
  30. Wonder what propensity for adopting neurotic dogs indicates.
  31. Give Penny new treat.
  32. Back out of driveway.
  33. Realize you forgot something and remember baby carrier.
  34. Back in, re-treat, drop, sigh, and away we go at a still respectable 10:05.
  35. Get half-way to craft store and realize forgot sacred red sippy cup.
  36. Careen over 2 lanes to catch exit to go back home at last second.
  37. Wonder if you will make it to craft store during this geological epoch.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

By the Numbers

2- number of dogs of dogs in the house barking at falling leaves, squirrels, and other such threatening things with deafening results
4- number of plants being neglected in my house
4- number of months Charlie has been working on his 2 year molars
0- number of molars that have broken through (Dear, God! Let them break through soon!)
1.5- number of bottles of children's motrin we have used in the last month (we are apparently raising a drug addict)
7- number of times Charlie was up between 3:30 and 4:30 last night (rough estimate- it may have been more)
1- number of stair gates trying to drive me to tears with their infernal latches
4 (am)- time my husband is leaving tomorrow for a business trip
3-6 (am)- roughest time of the night with children
4-6 (am)- time I would rather be dead than awake
2- episodes of Play With Me, Sesame we have watched so far this morning (thank you, Tivo)
1- number of feet I wish I lived from Starbucks
45- number of minutes Megan can sleep on her own if I'm lucky
30- length of Megan's morning nap
14- minimum number of hours of sleep a 4 month old needs
12ish- number of hours of sleep Megan gets
3- the number of times the "bad sleepers" of Megan's birth group are waking- Megan is such an overachiever
15- number of pieces of Bliss chocolate I forsee myself eating today
20- number of pieces of Bliss chocolate I forsee myself eating tomorrow
6- number of pieces in one seving of Bliss chocolate (Thank heavens I'm breastfeeding!)
ridiculous- current price of bag of Bliss chocolate at Kroger

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Single Issue Voter

I have found that I am becoming a single issue voter. I always assumed that if I were to pick one issue, it would be reproductive choice (Yes, I am pro-choice but that doesn't mean I'm pro-abortion, it's so much more complex than that. See here) or at least related to women's rights. Instead, I am finding myself becoming increasingly focused on the environment.

I am noticing it most in the current election and the way I view the financial crisis. My grandparents came of age in the dust Missouri and southern small farming communities. Really, it couldn't have gotten any worse. They came out of it ok. There were some years that weren't fun. My grandmother uses some odd recipe substitutions she learned during the hard times. Parts of it sucked. But, they're fine. At this point, they're actually quite well off. My dad was a carpenter and was our sole source of income through the recession in the early 80s and was a good hunk of it in the recession of the early 90s. I still get twitchy when I hear "recession." As with my grandparent's lives, sometimes it wasn't fun. Some parts of the recessions sucked. I have some strong feelings about financial security and how often you should go shopping for clothes (once in August for all your school needs and once in the late-spring to get your warm weather duds and all formal dresses should be bought at 80% off the season prior). At the same time, it was ok. We survived. With a reasonably amount of forethought and decent budgeting skills you can ride out a nasty financial time. It's not fun and some of it will suck but you will survive it. Further, our species will survive it.

I worry that we won't make it out of the current environmental crisis. There isn't the option to "ride out" hurricane after hurricane, followed by floods, extreme temperatures, droughts, and tornadoes. Nature is bigger than us and we've been trying it's patience for a while. In a way, I'm very glad for the financial problems. It seems to be spurring the idea that things MUST change. We can't be so dependent on energy we can't make ourselves. We need to start curbing our love of "stuff." We need to pay attention to what our resources are and how to harness them in a way that won't crash upon our heads. I am beginning to feel that time is running short. I keep being reminded (as I take a bubble bath) of seeing the question, "If you think it's bad when we're fighting over oil, imagine what it will be like when we're fighting over water."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Cloth Diapering A Newborn (rocks!)

Wee, bitty babies produce an incredible amount of extraneous matter, if you know what I mean. Their poop, it is explosive and runny. Their pee, it is constant. The trips to the store for diapers, they are many. One doesn't contain adequately. Several cause a rash. One doesn't fit right. And that one, the one that FINALLY works, is just so expensive! And, that expensive one, you went through 3 in 15 minutes because your daughter decided that only virgin landscapes are appropriate for her needs... twice.

Allow me to introduce you to the wonder of the wonder of the kissaluv/thirsties wonder duo. We used kissaluvs size 0 and a thirsties XS and experienced nary a leak or rash for a blissful 2.5 months. They fit Megan beautifully until she hit about 13 pounds. The only leaks I ever had were on the rare occasion that we used a disposable and, yes, they were the expensive kind. Should you have a wee, bitty one on the way get thee to diaperswappers for some fabo deals on used (but still quite nice) kissalus (I wasn't able to find much in the way of thirsties covers) or wander on over to Jillian's- she has them new and used- and get you some wonderous cloth. They are totally worth adding a little extra laundry to your life.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Things I've Learned Since Breakfast

1. I will not be able to figure out how to resolve the mysterious wet-spot on Megan's sleeper- diaper changes haven't helped. Perhaps it's a new spot for drooling?

2. The Wheels On The Bus has verses. This means you will feel much more charitable towards it when on your 5th repetion of Twinkle, Twinkle.

3. Don't worry about that spit-up puddle you forgot to clean up. Your foot will helpfully remind you of it later.

4. Toddlers find it very helpful to pair a word with an action when mastering new vocabulary. In the case of the word "break," you will be glad you only paid a dollar for those toys.

5. The moment at which you simply can not hold it any longer will co-incide with the moment your infant is this close to asleep but will need to be rocked for an additional 15 minutes if you stop to attend to your potty emergency.

6. We need more chocolate.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

4 is the loveliest number that you ever knew...

So, I have discovered that my magic number is 4. 4 hours of consecutive sleep is how much I need to stave off the horrid sub-cycling which causes me to have PMS-y cramps for days, iffy skin, mood swings and completely unpredictable hormone related supply dips. 4 hours of sleep is also how much I need to remain on an even emotional keel. Megan stopped doing her consistent 4 hour stretch a bit ago (3 weeks maybe?) and I have felt the effects. Some nights, I get to cobble together some decent sleep with my husband taking her on after about 4 or he might take her for shorter stretches at about 2. But, Charlie is working on his 2 year molars (will the teething ever end?!?) and has a nasty cold to boot so my husband is busy fielding cries from him. Megan sleeps with us reasonably well but can't settle even in the co-sleeper set-up next to our bed. I continue to have strong hopes that as soon as she gets the hang of rolling over, things will improve precipitously but, who knows when she will manage the rolling. She gets precious little practice time during the day as the floor isn't the safest place to be with a toddler for an older brother; even one who is gentle and careful to the utmost of his 2 year old abilities. While I haven't sunk into a full depression, everything is just a little bit harder. I am having trouble finding the creative sparks needed to make dinner, let along write posts or do my favorite crafts. Weathering the toddler tempests and baby related frustrations tests me more than I would like, culminating yesterday when I found myself with my butt in the rain, changing my hysterical toddler's diaper in the tiny space between his seat and the door, listening to my baby wind up to full hungry cry, and singing "Jesus Loves Me," to myself as my last bastion against curling in a ball and swearing. I am confident I will make it through. I made it through 8 dreamless months with Charlie, I can make it through this. I have the full support of my husband and a comprehensive knowledge of danger signs to watch for. I am unafraid of taking medication if I need it. But, what I need most are those 4 damn hours of sleep.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yummy Fake-A-Dillas (among other things)

I seem to be having a hard time writing posts with regularity with the addition of a second child in my life- who would have thought! Anyway, we seem to have wandered nicely out of peak fussiness, through 2 weeks of "I think she might be close to sleeping through the night," only to wander into the quagmire of teething and motor milestones. Apparently my children believe in teething early and often. I keep telling myself that the fact that Megan naps at all is still better than Charlie did at this age but the dashing of the "My baby slept through the night at 3 months of age" hopes is rather sad. I do keep reminding myself that at no point during Megan's life have I wondered if I was actually alert enough to drive safely while I frequently had the thought during the first 8 months of Charlie's tenure.

Anyway, Megan is cute! We have coos and grins. She has recently started to figure out how to get things into her mouth and is currently working on trying to grab on to her tongue- we have decided to wait to break the fact that is actually in her mouth already for another day. She adores her brother and her brother generally likes her. Thus far, we have had almost nothing in the sibling rivalry department except for occasional anger that I sometimes have to pick up the baby too soon after giving cuddles for a bumped head.

Charlie continues to progress nicely. He will start a Mother's Day Out program 2 days a week next week and I think he'll really enjoy it. We got him this book bag which was both surprisingly affordable, considering the source, and looks quite sturdy. He will be two next weekend and I think the festivities may be even more low key than last year. It looks like it may be family only and grandparents only at that. At the same time, I was thinking about what would make for a really good day for Charlie and playing with other kids still isn't really on his radar. I think a day with construction truck plates, lot of bubble blowing, and an extended park visit will really do it for him. In other news, Charlie has started trying to jump, sings the ABC song with a reasonable level of accuracy, and enjoys yelling "Hey, Becky (my given name), come back!" up the stairs just as I have managed to lay his sister down in her cradle.

Finally, the Fake-a-Dilla recipe. This makes sort of quesidillas that are fantastic make ahead fare.

First, get chicken breasts when they are on sale. Put them in your crockpot on low with a few cans of Rotel (or salsa if that's what you have on hand) and cook them until you can shred them with a fork. Shred and place in small freezer bags in portions that you think look about right for your family. We use about 1/2 a pint size bag for 2 generous servings and a little leftover for the 2 of us.

Second, Kroger sells a handy pre-chopped, flash frozen bag of green and red peppers and onions (a fajita blend thing). Get a bunch of those, or something similar when they are on sale.

Third, buy shredded cheese when it's on sale and the same for tortilla.

Finally, pick up a few extra cans of Rotel or whatnot when it's on sale.

Stick all this stuff in your freezer (except the canned stuff).

When you are tired and hungry and need a quick dinner. Pull the veggies and meat out and dump them in a pan, saute on medium high, covered, until it's all mostly thawed and then throw in a can of Rotel. Heat up a second skillet and put in a tortilla. Cover the tortilla with a good handful of cheese and then put in a few spoonfuls of the meat/veggie mixture and fold in half. As soon as the cheese is melted you have a Fake-a-Dilla. I serve it with the Birdseye Steamfresh Mexican Rice. Yummy!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Potty Training

Charlie has a hunk of diaper rash that is a completely raw patch. We've been battling diaper rash with varying success since his birth. So, I decided to bit the bullet and start us today. I may lose my mind by the end of the week.

To add to the fun, both Megan (I think) and Charlie are teething this week and their sleep shows it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Apples and Oranges

I am constantly amazed by how different my children are. I wasn't expecting them to be clones or anything but I thought that the similarities would extend to something beyond that neither of them is fond of going to sleep and hating their car seat.

Megan isn't wild about any pacifier but consents to find a nuk acceptable in a pinch. Charlie was surgically attached to his avent.

When in the car, Megan finds the dulcet tones of The Police to be her happy sound where Charlie was only soothed by Baby Einstein.

Megan likes a nice meal followed by some energetic kicking, a session of flirt with Mommy, and then some "me time" in the swing. Charlie was all holding, all the time.

Charlie was a Buffet fan whereas Megan likes a nice Billy Joel ballad to soothe her soul.

Charlie felt that my boobs would go home in an insulted huff if he didn't visit with them for a good 45 minutes every hour or 2. Megan is happy to neglect them for a good 2-3 hours and then only gives them a passing 5-15 minute nod.

Charlie's butt has a level of sensitivity matched only by the Bronte girls. Megan's butt seems to be as hardy as winter wheat.

Megan is currently a better sleeper than Charlie which is just beyond sad.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Of Vampires and Werewolves

I started reading Twilight at Anne's suggestion. She was right, it is the ideal book to read while in the throes of early motherhood. It's absorbing enough to keep you awake during various feedings even while on codine! And, it's light enough that you can follow the basic plot points in your sleep deprived, codine happy state. However, it is so much more. It's actually literary crack...

The basic premise is that Bella falls in love with a vampire (Edward) who has a strong desire to devour her but by the power of twu love, he can resist. Over the next 2 books (the last one comes out this Saturday), they suffer separation of epic angst and Edward is forced to manfully defend his virginity. There aren't a ton of books that have managed to suck me in quite so wonderfully. Harry Potter, of course, managed quite nicely but before that there was the Outlander series. It lost some of it's hold when I found myself thinking "Damn, abducted by pirates again!" However, Outlander is ideal if you find yourself moving, without children, to a place you know no one, have no transportation and need to supervise movers, wait for cable guys, etc. It's now one of those series' that I will always read the next book but I can wait to get it from the library until it gets marked down at Books-a-Million.

Anyway, on to the point of the post. So, in the second book (New Moon), it comes out that Bella's soul mate- not true love, but soul mate- is a werewolf. Now, there are a good hunk of fans that hate Jacob (aforementioned soulmate). But, I found myself thinking that I would much rather a werewolf than a vampire. I found this to be the case in the Sookie Stackhouse books as well (another fabulous read- they are great bathtub books). I couldn't figure out why for some time until I realized that my preferences in supernatural partners seems to come down entirely to the issue of body temperature. I hate to be cold and the idea of cuddling up to a cold guy apparently goes against the grain for me. I would much rather have my own personal space heater. Unfortunately, in the third book (Eclipse) Jacob gets a little too Alpha Male stupid for me and I'm stuck realizing that my self-insertion is apparently screwed as I'm not out of male protagonists to long for but there we are.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In Brief...

I apparently only birth children who don't like to fall asleep although Megan is willing to remain asleep once she achieves the state- hooray!

I hate dealing with pink eye more than I do thrush but only just barely.

Charlie has been watching ridiculous amounts of tv as of late but does seem to be picking up a bit of language. Sure to come in useful is "1, 2 cha, cha, cha," care of Bob the Builder.

Charlie now says "shhh," to his sister when she is fussing. Dr. Karp would be so proud.

Win free Bum Genius 3.0 diapers here.

While the death of naps doesn't actually equal the death of my blog it's taking a bit of time to figure out how to work it in. More to come soon about why I prefer werewolves to vampires.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


An alarming number of mommy bloggers in my very small sphere are in the throes of divorce. It's freaked me out a tad. I told my husband that we couldn't get a divorce until everyone is sleeping through the night. Until then, he can keep a woman on the side, sleep in a separate room and develop a bizarre iPhone fixation as long as he still takes on some night duty. I seriously can't fathom how any of these women are managing. I nearly loose my mind when my husband leaves for a few days on a business trip. The thought of having to juggle all the household chores I do as well as his is mindboggling. Kudos to the strong mommies that are making it work.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Naps and the Women Who Love Them

We decided to drop Charlie's nap last week. It was, by far, the most stressful part of the day for all involved. Charlie clearly still needed the sleep but getting him to admit that was a feat beyond imagining. So, we now pile in the stroller at 1ish every day instead. Charlie generally sleeps for at least a little while. Megan is a crap shoot. Today she actually fell asleep in the car and then slept through the walk. Other days haven't gone so smoothly. While it's nice to get in some exercise for me, I'm really missing that nap. I really think divine intervention occurred near the end of my pregnancy. For the last month of my pregnancy and the first week or so that Megan was home, Charlie napped like a champ. He went down with little fuss and would sleep for 2 hours, sometimes even more, and then he would still sleep at night. It was nothing short of miraculous. We are putting him down an hour earlier and the extra time will be nice once Megan gets past the peak fussiness stage and starts developing some organized sleep. But, nap time was when I re-charged, wrote blog posts, checked e-mail, and otherwise got the down-time you desperately need when facing a day with Charlie. I loved my naps.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

4 Things

1. Sometimes motherhood sucks

2. Some days, my biggest parenting achievement will be not spanking my toddler

3. Never go to the grocery store with a newborn (cranky) and toddler (cheerful but energetic) who need you to go as efficiently as possible on senior discount day

4. Always be sure to keep 2 chocolate sources in the house at all costs

Thursday, June 05, 2008

New Motherhood

So far, things are continuing to progress in a reasonable fashion. Last night was rocky. There is at least some possibility that Megan has colic which is a pain but if there is one thing I got good at during Charlie's early months, it was waiting out a crying baby. I can sing, pat, and bounce with the best of them and colic has the saving grace of generally ending by about 4 months. I'm still hopeful that it's a gas issue due to a rather overabundant supply and way too much lentil soup on my part but we'll see what happens over the next week. I know that by this time with Charlie, I had called my mother in hysterical tears to beg for help. A week of nights like last night might have that effect but I think we can struggle through for now. I suspect a large part of the problem was that she was too gassy to do her usual cluster feed before her long stretch so the cluster feed got moved to between midnight and 4 am- less than desirable for all involved. If she's anything like Charlie we'll be looking at least a day or so to get back on track, unless it's colic and then we're looking at another 3-4 months at which point we'll get to embark on teething!

I had forgotten how much of new motherhood involved being smelly. Between the hot flashes, spit up, and projectile poo, I'm not sure 2 showers a day is really adequate.

Charlie is becoming happier as his routine is coming back into play. The c-section took me out of commission for 2 weeks for all but the most sedentary of Charlie activities and the parade of relatives who came to help, threw him as well. Yesterday was our first solo morning and you could see his little body relax as we went about our usual morning routine of errands, lunch, and play time. The tantrums that had been at least an hourly occurrence eased back and I can only hope that the trend continues. He did get very distressed in the car when Megan was crying (she needed to go to sleep but hadn't quite managed yet) but calmed down as Megan did. I was heartened to see compassion on the part of my young toddler. Although, I do hope that we won't have many tandem crying sessions- that is the road to madness.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nursing Drama

So far, it seems that Megan really is a bit of a sleeper. I'm not willing to totally buy it until I'm completely off codine but she is currently about a million times easier to care for than I remember Charlie being.

She tends to nurse fairly quickly and efficiently during the day for 15 minutes or so and then goes to sleep for another 3 hours. In the late evening she will cluster feed for a good hour or hour and a half but then sleeps for 4-5 hours, nurses in a highly focused manner for 10-15 minutes and then goes back down for another 3-4 hours. This might be slightly less than accurate (re:codine) but is what my muzzy brain remembers. Last night and today have been a bit different but I think we may have hit the 7 day growth spurt. This nursing pattern is a bit on the unusual side for a newborn (and is vastly different from Charlie's clockwork 45 minute session starting every hour and a half around the clock) and caused a bit of drama at the hospital where they really don't like them to go much more than 2-3 hours at the outside. Megan has strong feelings about when she would like to sleep and when she would like to eat and does not appreciate attempts to mold her to your will. But, since she was making plenty of wet and poopies and appeared quite healthy and happy the nurses didn't really push it on the whole. I also got a lot of ground from having nursed Charlie for 14 months- including through my 1st trimester. The nurses seemed to feel that this was plenty sufficient to ensure my nursing competence. The pediatricians were a different story.

We had to use the on-call practice because our family physician doesn't do hospital rounds for newborns. We also did this with Charlie and liked the doctors reasonably well and since it's only for a few days it didn't seem like a big deal. This time was different. Starting with the 1st visit, less than 12 hours after Megan was born, I started getting told to consider supplementing because Megan was such a big baby. The first pediatrician made the argument that I wouldn't ever be able to get any rest because it would be such a struggle to feed her. Instead, we should make liberal use of the night nursery and allow for supplements from the start. There were so many things wrong with this argument, I was stunned. How did she ever expect my supply to catch up if I was supplementing from the start? In addition, there were simply no indicators that there even was a problem and, while 9 2, is on the larger size, considering that one woman can nurse multiples or tandem nurse siblings, the assumption that one newborn is beyond the capacity of a woman who never even fully lost her milk from her previous nursing stint, was just dumb. I was of the impression that most new parents understood that sleep deprivation is part and parcel of new parenthood.

Things continued to go downhill as she dropped weight every day. The hospital flagged 8 6 as being the point of concern (although it isn't actually the 10% mark) and she hit 8 5 on Tuesday morning. Since this was also the day of discharge, the pediatrician (a different one) decided that he needed to be as dour as possible, telling tales of readmission and droopy, dehydrated babies needing IVs. The dreaded supplements were brought up again (for the 3rd time). The thing is that while 8 5 was a fairly steep drop, it didn't appear that the pediatrician actually looked at any other health indicators. Megan routinely nursed to the point of falling off the nipple, falling asleep contentedly or having a brief and happy awake period. She showed no signs of the fussy or listless behavior that come with an infant who isn't getting enough milk. I showed signs that my milk was coming in that morning. Her poop was rapidly shifting from merconium. There were plenty of wet diapers. She showed no signs of jaundice and her blood sugar (checked several times of the first 36 hours as a matter of course for babies over 9 pounds) was wonderfully stable. The daily visits from the lactation consultants were brief and positive. As far as I can tell, the only thing the pedi looked at was weight. He didn't even bother to ask me about how nursing was going, my milk coming in, etc. He said he would send in the lactation consultant to talk to me about supplementing, helpfully adding that she didn't need to go directly to the bottle, instead we could look at finger feeding and cups. This still didn't really fix the issue of the best way to increase supply being to nurse more and, as she was apparently starving before my eyes, she should be more than happy to nurse, right? Of course, every time I had tried to increase her nursing frequency, I was met by hours of frustration and tears on both our parts but I figured we could work around that somehow.

After he left I just started sobbing (no mean feat for a woman who just had abdominal surgery). As far as I could tell my baby was happy and healthy with just my milk and supplementing was the last thing I wanted. I was already quite disappointed about not being able to deliver vaginally (more to come later but I'm not ready to "talk" about it yet). The idea that my body would fail again was quite upsetting. Particularly as I just didn't see it. Luckily, the lactation consultant was able to observe a nursing session right after she came in and agreed with me that Megan seemed completely fine and that my milk was already starting to come in. I was encourage to simply continue on the current course, go to our doctor for a weight check the next day and was told to write plenty on the evaluation form I was given that would go to the nursing supervisor. We took Megan to our doctor on Wednesday and she was actually down a few more ounces but our regular doctor wasn't at all concerned. Megan continued to look healthy and happy and her weight was far from being at a concerning level. She said we could bring Megan back early this week for another weight check if we wanted but she felt the 2 week appointment would be plenty soon enough for her.

I don't know why she wound up dropping so much weight. I have a few theories. She got rid of almost all of her merconium on the first day which had to account for a least a couple of ounces. I had a good hunk of water weight gain in the last week or so of my pregnancy and she may have gained with that as well. On a less logical note, I wonder if there was a reason that she did wind up so very unexpectedly big so that I would need a c-section. God does work in mysterious ways and all indicators flatly contradicted my growing a 9 pound baby. I am so beyond thankful that I somehow managed to have a relatively easy recovery that allowed me the option to go home on Tuesday. I shudder to think what would have happened if Megan had stayed in the care of those pediatricians another day, knowing she went down a few more ounces. I am also so thankful that I had a strong confidence in my ability to breastfeed as well as plenty of factual knowledge to back up my instincts. I really worry about the poor, first time mother who would be in a similar situation. The advice I was given would set her up for failure and oodles of unnecessary stress. I'm somewhat hopeful that the lactation consultants are now aware of an unfortunate tendency by this practice and will act to alleviate it's effects.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Megan Mac... arrived at 2:51 am on Sunday, May 18th. She weighed 9 pounds 2 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Labor was very, very long with many unexpected difficulties. I finally wound up with a c-section under full anesthesia (courtesy of my epidural's hot spots). More to come later. Mommy and baby are both doing well but are both very, very tired.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

So Sweet

We have a Roomba. It is a shining point of light in my life and a wonderful Mother's Day gift. Ask for one now.

Anyway, Charlie calls it the "uh-oh" because it bumps into things as it wanders about. I ran it in the kitchen last night and it finished up as he was taking a bath. He had been very concerned about it getting put away and had to be repeatedly reassured by his father that Mama would put the uh-oh away (which I did, right before his stories). My husband reported that the last thing Charlie said before drifting off to sleep was "Mama, oh-oh away," followed by a very content "Ya." It's good to know that I can bring some comforting order to his life even if I am the less favored (boring) parent at the moment.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I am reasonably certain that my hospital bag started laughing at me this morning. It has sat, faithfully in the corner, for the last 2 weeks and is apparently getting bored...

In other news, Charlie is proving the world correct in their assertions that bad sleepers are gifted. His special gift lies in the world of teething. He seems to have already started like gangbusters on his 2 year molars 4 months early. I feel so blessed.

Charlie is also showing some really nice language development which is beyond cute. As of late, he will make various statements (such as "bye-bye pee-pee") for a good 10 minutes or so and the appropriate conversational response (obviously!) is to repeat his statement back to him so he can be sure you've properly deciphered it. If you get it right, you are rewarded by an emphatic "Ya." Apparently, my long buried Nordic ancestry is surfacing in my 19 month old. We've also started being treated with 4 word phrases, although the syntax is always an adventure- "Woo Woo don't touch eyes" ("don't touch the puppies eyes"). And, he's started to recount events that happened earlier in the day without me around. The other day he told me about how they blew bubbles in the nursery- mind, there is a lot of linguistic interpretation to figure out that "Ducksi, pop boo, boat" means Lexi blew bubbles that I could pop and I played with the boat but it does make my child development heart proud. And finally, Charlie's new favorite game with his father (who seems to focus a lot more on adverbs and counting than I do) is to claim he has 2 noses just to get his father to say "No, you have 1 nose." This is greeted with the ubiquitous emphatic "ya" and a big grin.

My husband and I think we may have figured out what the future holds for Charlie. We are reasonably sure he has a place waiting for him in the Mob. His favorite activities persist in being moving large objects and throwing things away. He's also a very social fellow so, of course, the obvious choice for someone with interests in moving services and refuse collection is the Mob. Now we just have to work on his actually liking pasta.

Ok, now that my 2 readers are bored beyond relief, I'm off to gestate.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Watched Pot

I am officially in the watched pot stage of pregnancy. There was a run to Labor and Delivery in which we found out that my cervix is still totally closed but is at least thinning and they even managed to register 1 contraction before it all came to a crashing halt with the internal exam. Apparently, your flight or fight response tends to kick in and you body feels that anywhere that involves people with cold hands and cold gel is really not the spot to have a baby. I felt fabulous yesterday and there was some activity of interest very early this morning and things looked somewhat hopeful but it all stopped by nap time. The thing that is really making it all much more difficult is the Charlie factor. I don't have the luxury of just puttering around waiting for something definitive to happen. By the time definitive things are happening, I'm in no shape to chase after a toddler. So, instead, every time my cervix hiccups, there is anxious analysis which really isn't conducive to either the relaxation the Sears family would like me to practice nor the acquisition of the "excited" stage Dr Bradley would like me to attain. I am growing so tired of having my husband (and others) inquire. I told my husband today that I would let him know, really I would. At which point, he told me he just liked to stay abreast of things. While I sympathise, I have to say that I think I am the one who would most like to know the when and where and I don't have a clue.

While I find it rather frustrating that Charlie came so unexpectedly early and this baby, while by no means late, is later than I would like, it really is working out fairly well. She apparently settled in the other day (I'm assuming this was why I had all those contractions and what not that send me to L and D) and I'm much more comfortable that I had been. The OB assured me that negative progress was usually not seen as my 1st assumption was that she had discovered how difficult getting out would be and decided to just un-drop and hang out for a while. It sort of nice to actually have time to finish up the projects that I had given up on. My husband is in the final sprint to the end of the semester and, while he's having to be home a bit more than optimal (there is only so much toddler wrangling you can do at 37 weeks), he's certainly getting more time at work than he would be getting otherwise. And, if she holds out for about another week, most of his major responsibilities will be over- not say he doesn't do any work over the summer but the really time sensitive stuff will be done. Also nice is all the cuddling with Charlie. The quality of my parenting has taken a steep dive over the last few weeks. Teletubbies and Sesame Street figure heavily into our routine now but this does lead to lots of snuggling on the couch, which is so sweet. Of course, there is the semi-constant dark cloud of "Good Lord, she's just getting bigger!" at this point but, eh, perhaps all this means she'll be a sleeper!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


First, yes, I am still gestating. I didn't get "checked" at my last appointment because I just didn't want to know- if he had said no change, I would have started sobbing and if he had said there was progress it would just get my hopes up. I have come to the conclusion that while this pregnancy was much easier overall, late pregnancy with a toddler is just bound to be unpleasant. My husband keeps being very concerned about me as he comes in and I'm in tears or moaning and groaning my way (not in a good way) through the night but I've told him that the general consensus seems to think this is par for the course. She's dropped (I'm pretty sure- the OB could feel her head at the exit so I'm thinking that's solid evidence) but I think she's started to stretch out some so the heartburn and what not is back. I asked if they ever changed their minds and went back up but the OB assured me that didn't generally happen. The plug has been wandering out in dribs and drabs for a couple of weeks now. There have been many twinges but they apparently aren't doing much productive. And, as far as I can tell (the pelvic pressure sort of makes it tricky) there has been very little in the way of contractions. It's actually better, in terms of logistics if she stays put for a bit longer but it's getting harder and harder for me to remember that.

Anyway, this brings me to my jealousy. I am so jealous of working moms right now. Admittedly, it's a select segment of working moms. I'm specifically jealous of those with office jobs involving cushioned chairs and peeing whenever they need to. I'm also jealous of those that are going ahead and starting their maternity leave a week or so early but keeping their children that were considerate enough to leave the womb in a timely manner in daycare. My husband has been wonderful. He is staying home later in the mornings and coming home early in the evenings. He is giving me more hands on support than some fathers do by a long shot but still... Today I really thought that I would throw up from the pelvic pressure if I didn't sit for just a few minutes but it was the middle of lunch and bringing in the groceries and Charlie was screaming for applesauce and the milk was out and I really had to shovel something in my mouth and I couldn't help but think of how nice it would be to let someone else have him for 6 hours a day. I very much sympathize with the plight of the working mother and it's not really something I would want to do but right this moment, nothing sounds better.

In addition, it recently occurred to me that the longest my "maternity leave" would last is 2 weeks. I spend a great deal of time being appalled at the US concept of appropriate maternity leave, especially when you pair it with the health initiative to dramatically increase breast feeding rates by 2010 but even the meanest leave is 6 weeks. I actually feel quite lucky that I will likely have my husband's help for 2 weeks and I am so glad I won't have to watch my newborn being cared for by others but there is a part of me that fervently wishes I had Charlie in day care and a maternity leave of 6 weeks coming up.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Of Corks and Coconuts

I am beginning to suspect that this baby will be here sooner rather than later and, at any rate, she is sure to be here in a little over a month. So, I've been reviewing my childbirth books. I'm hoping to go unmedicated. It's not for any particularly "crunchy" reason, I don't think I will be birthing myself as a woman or anything like that. I'm not looking for a feeling of empowerment. But, it does seem to be that you have 3 options about the pain of childbirth. You can frontload it with an unmedicated birth and while the labor and delivery process itself will be more intense you are also less likely to tear, more likely to use your muscles efficiently, and the whole thing is likely to be done faster- including the recovery afterwards. You can spread things out a bit with an epidural but you are likely to have a longer labor and may have more tearing and hemorrhoids and that sort of thing and that may cause the recovery to be somewhat longer. Finally, you can go the c-section route and the actual delivery is a breeze but, for me at least, it took a couple of weeks to really be up and about and much longer than that for my abdominal and back muscles to get back up to functional snuff. Of course, there are those poor souls with back labor, stalled labor, unmedicated for 30 hours and then a c-section labor and for you I offer up a toast and my deepest sympathies. Since I have Charlie to consider, I would really like to make this recovery as quick as possible so, I'm hoping for the unmedicated birth with the quick recovery. But, I also know I'm a bit of a wimp so, if an epidural or c-section are called for, so be it. At the end of the day, I would really like a baby. The rest is mere semantics as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, the popular way of dealing with contractions or, as some books called them, "expansions" (I refuse to even entertain the whole "life surges" terminology) is to visualize being a cork on a wave. While I appreciate the imagery in theory, every time I read it, I wince. It makes me think of rotting corks, corks mangled by corkscrews, cork floors with strong warnings about exposure to wetness, and an ancient pair of cork sole shoes I found that were scuffed and disintegrating. In addition, corks are little and ocean waves are huge. Corks can get lost, pummeled, buffeted, and broken. Charlie could easily break a cork into bits for heavens sake! I have come to the conclusion that I would much rather be a coconut. Coconuts want to wander around on the water. They look at the intense waves and say "Bring it on! I would like to go forth and multiply! I have an entire ocean of island to colonize!" Coconuts are strong and hardy- how many of us have stared at the whole coconut at the store and been tempted to buy but didn't because, for pete's sake, how will you get the thing open? I have no wish to be a wimpy, rotting, bobbing cork, I am much more the firm, stubborn coconut, waiting for the perfect beach.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Staying the Course

I had my first internal today. All is well although it looked a little dicey for a bit. I've been having quite a bit of contraction action today- just the sort of reassuring activity you want the day before your husband crosses the Atlantic. But, the OB did a fetal fibronectin test, which I had thought about requesting but was under the impression it wasn't a useful tool after 34 weeks, and it came back negative. Apparently, it can still give you the basic information about the likelihood of labor but there isn't a ton they do differently if it indicates that labor is likely so it's generally a moot point. However, in my case it was useful since we just really needed to know if my husband should get on a plane or not. The negative result means that while my uterus can contract away and my cervix can twinge to it's heart's content, there is almost no chance that there will be a delivery any time in the next one-two weeks. Plus, I'm only about 1 cm dilated so it looks like a frantic round of pack and clean won't be needed for a bit yet.

The OB also suspects that the baby might be breach but there's still a little wiggle room left so she could swing around. He also wasn't totally sure if he was feeling head or tail so, she might not even need to flip. I actually think he might be mistaken based on the movements I've been feeling but, eh, we'll see what comes of it.

In other news, I have managed to produce a sarcastic toddler. Charlie delights in saying "No!" and then grinning and doing whatever it was you just asked him about. For instance, you might ask him if he would like to turn out the light (a favorite of his) and he'll say "no" and then give you a big grin and start reaching for the switch. While part of me suspects this advanced humor combined with the fact that he still doesn't sleep through the night is sure to indicate that he must be gifted beyond belief (bad sleepers are gifted, you know) there is also a large part of me that wonders what sort of behavioral nightmare I have inadvertently incubated. Luckily, he still gives really good hugs.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

First Internal

I have my 1st internal exam tomorrow. It's a little earlier than usual (36 weeks) because of my husband's trip. I'm really of two minds about the whole thing. I've definitely reached the stage of pregnancy where I'm mostly ready to just be done. The stretches and kicks are starting to be quite painful and having a little head burrow itself into my bladder on a semi-regular basis is starting to be less than thrilling. I feel a bit adrift compared to the other "experienced" mommies since I'm carrying so differently this time. It's impossible for me to compare the experiences and get any real clue beyond the most basic observations. I know my weight stabilized for about 2 weeks before I had Charlie but it had several stabilization prior to that as well. My babies seem to grow in fits and starts which is rather alarming until you get used to your weight suddenly going up by 2-4 pounds after no gaining at all for a couple of weeks. Penny started stealing my underwear shortly before I gave birth but I don't really want to use that as the definitive measure either. Other than that, there's really not much to go on. I know I feel like I'm just about stretched to capacity. I don't know what I would have done with a twin pregnancy! I haven't had the sensation of walking with a bowling ball between my legs but I have often felt that I needed to walk cautiously because my lower abdomen felt it was about to burst. It reminded me a lot of the walk you do once you are past the pee pee dance, past the shifting of the weight, when you desperately need to get to the bathroom but you know if there is ANY jostling at all, it will all be over.

At the same time that I am rather ready for the doctor to say that I am at 2-3 centimeters and it may be sometime in the next week or so (I highly doubt), this would be a most inconvenient time. My husband is still in the middle of teaching, our college student babysitters are gearing up for finals and all that the end of the semester brings and, while the vital tasks are mostly done there is still plenty left for me to finish up- not to mention the trip my husband plans to leave for on Tuesday...

It will be interesting no matter what the OB finds, though and I'll be sure to report back here. My mother keeps asking when the baby will be here. One would think that she of the 3 week late baby (my brother- I was delivered promptly on my due date) would understand better than most that babies come when they will come. I am tempted to give her my OB's number, sign a consent and let him hash it out with her the next time she asks.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Still Gestating...

So, I know posts have been scarce on the ground. The reasons numerous. My arms are getting too short to easily reach the keyboard when I hold my laptop on my lap which makes posting anything significant a bit of a pain. I'm spending a lot of my evening time in the tub and I have yet to actually try to use my computer while bathing. While this pregnancy feels significantly better in general due to all my physical therapy there is still a lot of discomfort involved as I near the end. This baby likes to hang out on my pelvic floor so floating her off is nice. And, my body seems to be objecting to the whole 20 pounds of pregnancy and 25 pounds of toddler I often am lugging around. I have high hopes for the wonders of my abs when all is said and done though. I also have the memory of our very dim dog Shirley at the moment. The other day, I went to the store with a grocery list and forgot that I had it half way through the trip- as in, I had been referencing it and everything for the first 15 minutes and then it just slipped my mind. I think at one point I even started to wish I had a list... I seem to remember this happened with Charlie as well. I can only hope that some day my memory will bounce back. So, anyway, I'll sit down to type and entry and then "oh, shiny!" and all hope is lost.

Charlie is starting to show some movement towards getting within spitting distance of sleeping through the night and taking a semi-reliable nap. I had rather assumed we would be father along the sleep journey by the time this new one got here but, alas.

Charlie does continue to be adorable if exceedingly inquisitive and busy. We went to toddler story time and as the rest of the babies sat hesitantly on their mother's laps, Charlie stole the hand puppet off the librarian's chair and then danced around the back of the room.

I'm rather nervous. My husband is traveling to Ireland next week for 5 days. He will return just as I turn to 35 weeks. We have babysitters lined up from 4-7 so I can get a break from toddler care. I am debating if we should see if we could get some coverage in the mornings as well. I think we'll be fine with the evenings if Charlie sleeps well and I can avoid carrying him too terribly much. He can walk (and run) quite well, the issue is getting him to go where you want him to. I have an OB appointment scheduled for the day before he leaves and he will cancel his trip if anything "exciting" is happening. I don't really expect the baby to be making an appearance in the next 2 weeks but the idea that there is any possibility that she will and my husband will be in Ireland at the time is terrifying. There is also just general concern about the variable which is Charlie. If he gets sick, clingy, his sleep routine gets thrown out of wack, ugh...

I have my baby announcements designed and supplies to do what can be done before the baby is born as well as supplies to make candy favors for the nursing staff at the hospital and staff at the OB's office (always be nice to those who make the appointments and hand out the drugs...) and hope to work on those during my Charlie free time next week. I'll post pictures when I've managed to accomplish anything of significance.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Let the Nesting Begin!

So, I have begun nesting in earnest. This last weekend I cooked a rather vast quantity of chicken with the intent of stocking the deep freeze with ready made meals for after the baby comes. We now have 5-6 meals worth of chicken nuggets, pre-seasoned and shredded chicken for quesadilas, and enough chicken soup to make me wonder if I will every actually feel like looking at a chicken again. The roomba is seeing plenty of action. I have 3 to-do lists wandering around the refrigerator and need to write at least 1 more. Baby announcement supplies have been bought (I make my own) and the ceiling fans still don't know what hit them.

I think my experience with Charlie is really shaping my behavior with the pregnancy. With Charlie, we had the whole tainted well/no water saga for the whole last 6 weeks of my pregnancy and then we didn't get water back until 36 hours before he was born. There were so many tasks that I didn't get to do that my hormonal self was aching for- food couldn't be cooked, dogs couldn't be washed, bathrooms couldn't get scrubbed. In addition, the whole element of Charlie coming right at week 37 threw everything off. While I was still thinking I had plenty of time, I soooo didn't. Who ever heard of a first baby being EARLY?

At the same time, I could be completely wrong, but I really think that there may be a purpose behind the frenzy. I struggle a lot with trusting myself when it comes to pregnancy. I knew in my heart the sex of my babies long before the ultrasounds. I strongly suspected I was pregnant with both babies long before a positive test ever appeared. In addition to "feelings," I think there is also a lot to intuition simply being your subconscious paying attention to and putting things together that your conscious mind doesn't for whatever reason. In my case, I began to suspect that I would go early with Charlie by the 33rd week. I remember suddenly realizing that my pregnancy symptoms were no longer lining up with the week I was in sometime in the 3rd trimester but instead a couple of weeks later. The clincher was when I figured out Charlie had dropped and it was only week 33. Much frantic reading confirmed that the longest that puts you away from labor is generally 4 weeks which would be... 37 weeks but I thought I simply must be mistaken. Over several days before Charlie was born, I noticed all manner of subtle changes- my joints seemed looser, I was far more irritable than previously, I kept getting these "twinges," and I had this driving urge to do tasks around the house- most notably cleaning the baseboards at 3 am with baby wipes since we still didn't have water. I continued to ignore the idea that labor was imminent up until my water actually broke.

In the same sort of vein, I feel somewhere deep down that this pregnancy is quickly moving along. Things just feel more scrunched than I would expect them to feel at this point, granted, I'm carrying this baby completely differently but still... The baby's movements feel much more cramped than I would expect and this baby is very low. I don't have the bowling ball between the legs feeling some women describe but I have been feeling pokes far below where I even though my uterus extended. My nesting urge is so very strong. I keep having to really make an effort to reign myself in. You just can't do a full deep cleaning of the kitchen if you are also expected to care for a very active toddler the next day. I haven't started to go after the baseboards yet but they are starting to call to me as are the obscure cleanings tasks that one generally doesn't think of. The air intake registers have begun to irritate me greatly and I have this insane urge to take 4 showers a day just so I can use up all the random bath products that are wandering about under my sink. Also, my underwear drawer is suddenly striking me as being ridiculously disorganized. It will be interesting to see when I actually deliver. My due date is May 17th, my early prediction was delivery on May 12th (Mother's Day) and my current goal is to have everything done by May 1st with all bets off starting then. Adding to my stress, my DH is traveling to Ireland in my 34th week. While we have an OB visit scheduled the day before he leaves to check nothing "exciting" is occurring and even I don't think I will deliver that early, there is a part of me that is very worried about the matter. Of course, with all this trepidation, preparation, and prediction, the baby will likely wind up coming sometime in early June...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Someday My Pants Will Fit

The intersection of nesting, staving off the panic of adding another person to my life, and the whole rid you life of what you don't need-ness that seems to go with the current zeitgeist has led me to my closet. I would desperately like to weed through my closet, pitching items willy-nilly. One would think it would be easy with the overflowing nature of it. However, I am stymied.

Shortly after we moved to Virginia (4 years or so ago) I noticed that I was rapidly gaining weight. I finally convinced my doctor that even a lifestyle change and move couldn't explain 20 pounds in less than 6 months. We established that I had a thyroid problem and, once properly medicated, the 20 pounds melted off. However, there was this whole period of time that I was suddenly 2 sizes larger than I had been.

As I was settling back into my normal weight, we took a trip to Hawaii. While I can understand why Hawaii is generally considered a paradise, we managed to go during a fluke hot spell in August. They don't have a/c in a lot of Hawaii because it's usually temperate and lovely but we spent most of the time being really hot. One might wonder why we didn't just hang out by the pool or go snorkeling. These foolish souls have not been properly indoctrinated to travel according to my husband. Guidebooks are poured over. Map are analyzed. Lists are made. Every point of interest will be seen and pictures taken or it just hasn't been a vacation, damn it! This meant that I spent 2 weeks mildly dehydrated and too hot to eat. 3 weeks after our return from Hawaii we left for Egypt. This caused stress and even less eating. We spent 2 months living in a dorm in Egypt and learned that cafeteria food the world over is cafeteria food. All of this led to more weight loss. In addition, since we were traveling a Muslim country, I needed to acquire clothing that allowed me to not offend the locals. My biggest goal during our visit to Egypt was to not get arrested.

Over the last 2 years I have been pregnant and/or lactating, necessitating all manner of additional clothing as well as blending in clothing from previous weight incarnations. Amazingly, at no point do any of my pants seem to properly fit. Maternity pants manage to go from a little loose/ please stay up to a bit snug/ please don't ride down in the blink of an eye. The post-partum belly is apparently not designed to actually fit anything for at least 3 months except, maybe, those maternity pants that never actually fit while you were pregnant. Your body finally wanders back to pre-baby weight but none of the weight is where it used to be so where you used to be snug you are now loose and where previously loose, you now resemble a woman of questionable virtue. I spend vast portions of my day hitching up, adjusting, and rolling cuffs (because, of course, petite women don't get pregnant).

Someday I will be done gestating, lactating, going on inadvertent deprivation diets, or having my body just go into a complete rebellion and my pants will actually fit and my closet will comfortably hold all of my clothing.

I can't wait.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Theme Songs

I am one of those people that seems to always have a song running through their head. I've been putting some thought into what songs I might like to have with me during labor with this new little person and it's got me thinking about personal theme songs.

I often think of "You Sexy Thing" by Hot Chocolate. The part that I focus on is the "I believe in miracles" line. I find it difficult to remain despondent in the face of this song and it's one that I often, often hummed to myself while teaching. Occasionally, I would even put it on and have my students dance around with me to it. It was excellent at snapping them out of particularly awful moods.

When I was pregnant with Charlie, I often thought of "Hello, Goodbye" by the Beatles. It was so appropriate for the whole situation. When he was born, I was saying hello to a whole new experience and goodbye to a former version of me. He was saying goodbye to the comfort of my womb and hello to all the many experiences of humanity. Once he was born and we really got to know him, the song fit even better. He is a very sweet natured boy but has a mind very much his own. He is quite willing to say "yes," when I say "no." And, the "hay laa" ending makes for a lovely lullaby.

With this pregnancy, it is "New Soul" by Yael Naim that runs through my head. I'm sure it has to do with the apple commercial but it also just seems so appropriate for her somehow. Whenever I hear it (in reality or just because it's running through my head), the closing scene of a movie runs through my head. It's one of those montage, clippy things where you see the baby born, a clip of the cake eating from the 1st birthday, learning to ride a bike, reading a book, and ending with her wedding scene. It makes me hope that should she be homosexual (unlikely but it would be foolish for me to ignore the possibility) that she will be a lipstick lesbian. I don't think I'll feel complete as a mother until I have wrestled with tulle rounds and jordan almonds far into the night. I keep wondering if her personality will wind up reflecting the wonderfully quirky cheerful quality of the song.

Finally, just because I like it, "In the Jungle" which makes a surprisingly good lullaby if sung a slightly slower tempo.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Overall, I have found this pregnancy easier than the last. The physical therapy I diligently pursued seems to have done the trick in regards to keeping my pelvic bones where they belong. I've needed some periodic maintenance and there is still some pain but it is of a manageable variety rather than the agony of my last pregnancy. My morning sickness has generally subsided although there are occasional dicey moments. I didn't have so much in the way of contractions with Charlie but they are manageable and there has been much less insomnia with this pregnancy. So, had expected to cruise nicely into my 3rd trimester and feel reasonably human for the next month or so at least but I was wrong...

While I had heard that you tended to be more tired during a second pregnancy than the first, I had not realized the extent to which they meant. This is starting to be that rather soul sucking fatigue that I really thought would confine itself to weeks 8-12. It's when you want to take a nice relaxing bath but are worried about the likelyhood of accidental drowning. It's the sort of fatigue where you can have a 2 pound fetus sitting directly on your bladder and you begin to contemplate how much it would cost to replace the foam mattress pad because you are just soooo tired. Luckily for me, I have a very caring husband who finds his wife in hysterical tears more difficult to handle than getting up with Charlie in the middle of the night and so, I at least am only awakened by 1 child and really, there's no way he could field her needs anyway. Making the fatigue more frustrating is that I am also entering some hard core nesting urges- although, I still contend that it isn't so much nesting as a frantic attempt to fend off the mounting feeling of impeding doom. I'm finding the idea of 2 under 2 rather more terrifying as the day gets closer. I keep remembering the projects that I didn't quite manage to finish before Charlie's unexpectedly prompt arrival and how they then sat for the better part of a year. We have childproofing that is yet to be done and I have an unquenchable desire to dust the shoe cubbies in the closet- really, at 2 am, when I have insomnia, it takes actual effort to prevent myself from pulling out a duster and going to town.

And, my husband is in Finland for business. When we were discussing the trip in the fall, it didn't seem that it would be all that awful. I would only just be starting my 3rd trimester and I felt pretty good up until somewhere in the 8th month with Charlie. Now, it's causing nothing but anxiety. I just wasn't expecting to be quite this tired, quite this soon. I keep reminding myself that Charlie doesn't actually expect intelligence after 5 pm but I do have to try to read those pesky books at bedtime...

Due to some scheduling difficulties at other times, I am now to 2 week appointments. It gives you such a ridiculous feeling of accomplishment- sort of like when you finish a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of shampoo. So far, all looks well but I have the gestational diabetes test on Thursday and I failed the one hour last time for inexplicable reasons since I then passed the 3 hour with no difficulty. I'm hoping for the best but we'll see.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Am I the Only One...

Who has been half asleep, forgotten that she was pregnant, felt the baby moving around and wondered what in the world she ate to give her such odd gas?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Drive By...

So, we're traveling and that's really throwing off my mojo but I did LOVE this post by Julie because I have to say I thought the same thing but without nearly the witty graphics. Be sure to click the link to see what she wants them to branch out to.

I wish I were making this up by Julie

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Accidental Conservative

So, I consider myself to be very, very moderate with a healthy sprinkle of crunchy. We cloth diaper (well, my husband does and I do when I don't have an overactive gag reflex), we buy local and organic at least part of the time, we drive a hybrid car but we also vaccinate, I use an OB and have no interest in a home birth, I'm pretty sure Charlie will attend public school, etc. Yet, somehow over the last year I have managed to wander into any number of activities that are affiliated with the religious right.

I joined MOPs last year when I reached the point where I just had to get out of the house. It's somehow linked with Focus on the Family. It's an oblique link and I have had trouble finding anything on it's web site that spells it out but it's very much there. While a good portion of the programs are focused on things like discussions of quilting, ways to pamper yourself, etc, there are usually one or two talks that veer pretty heavily into realms that aren't so much on the neutral side. It's still a good way for me to meet other mommies, get a break from Charlie, and, for what you get, it's very reasonably priced but there are a few meetings that I am learning to skip.

Now, my husband and I have decided to attend Financial Peace University with a curriculum by Dave Ramsey. He doesn't spend huge amounts of time discussing faith but I think I can safely say that Jame Dobson would approve and they might even be buddies.

As a side note: No, we aren't drowning in debt or anything like that but we were raised with 2 very different philosophies of money management and this fell in our laps as a way that we can perhaps come to some middle ground about how best to go about things like budgeting. After 7.5 years of marriage, it doesn't appear that we've really gotten all that far on the issue on our own.

I joined diaper swappers the other week in hopes of finding some good deals on new itty, bitty diapers for our new itty, bitty person with an itty, bitty heinie! We generally use BumGenius, which are great. They are a one size diaper that technically fits from birth through when your child will probably be potty trained. But, I've heard that they can be a little bulky for newborns so we're looking into getting kissaluvs for the new little person to use at first. We've really liked our cloth experience. They save quite a bit of money, have helped a lot with Charlie's never ending diaper rash, and are much more environmentally friendly. They aren't nearly as much of a pain as I thought they would be in terms of washing and are as easy to use as disposables. Should you ever want to try them, we did the Try Cloth program through Jillian's Drawer's. It's fully refundable except for $10 and is a great way to get your feet wet. Anyway, so diaper swappers has a pretty large contingent of women who would probably self-identify as religious conservatives. It's one of those weird places where the really liberal, off the grid because they want to be one with nature collide with the really conservative, off the grid, make your own food, be ready for The End groups. I always find those intersections interesting if a bit bewildering since I really just wanted to get a good deal on kissaluvs.

Finally, broomhuggers, which I find to be a great resource for green cleaning tips posted a big anti-abortion post. I could see where they were coming from but it was still jarring to see abortion positions nestled between tips about how to use oregeno oil as a disinfectant and the controversy of if one should use dryer balls made from PVC that are reusable or dryer sheets that are disposable.

I am worried that soon I will manage to wander into a Huckabee rally and wind up with a picture of me shaking his hand.