I have to sit down and write a birth story–wonder! awe! people doing dishes! a Georgia O’Keefe reference!–but I can’t just yet. It would require using both hands to do all that typing and they are a mite full:


Obviously, I need to snuggle this constantly. She is as warm and soft and smooshy as a baby sharpei and so sweet and mellow that holding her is like taking an antidepressant. We are completely baby-high.

I will say now that the birth was a phenomenal experience. Birthing a TEN POUND BABY OH MY GOD makes a good story regardless but doing so in your bedroom…yeah. There is much to say. But for now I am going to keep doing this:




Twenty Eight

Because it is my goal to make sure that the readers of this site (all three of you) are REALLY, REALLY AWARE of the possible side effects before you procreate, anyone who tells you that pregnancy is a nine-month endeavor is mistaken. 40 weeks shakes out closer to ten months, kids, and don’t let them tell you differently. You’ll need that extra month to remind your husband why he should make you cookies (which Tom happened to do this evening, entirely without prompting. I do love that man). But even with cookies, you’re going to be pregnant for about a month longer than you might have been told when you were a tender youth learning about the biological processes that put Mr. Stork out of a job.

Like Carmela Soprano, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Today was the start of my 28th week of pregnancy, or what I consider to be the start of my seventh month. Like clockwork, I woke up with the numb hips and shooting thigh pain that came to characterize my third trimester with Maggie. I’ve used all manner of body pillows and sleeping positions and y’all, it is what it is and there’s no way around it. The third trimester is, by design, just uncomfortable. It’s supposed to be; otherwise how would we get to the point where we’re EXCITED to have an 8lb ham-loaf come rocketing out of our nethers? Let me tell you: it took a mere five hours from start to stitches to deliver Maggie, who weighed in at a hearty 8lbs 3oz with a head that measured in the 90th percentile. Recovering from that was still better than my third trimester because a) I could sleep on my back or belly if I chose, b) I could eat without fear of reflux or without interference from fetal feet, and c) it cannot be said enough: I COULD SLEEP ON MY BACK OR BELLY. Options, sweet options!

But I digress. Lower body numbness is just how my mornings are going to begin for the next twelve or so weeks. The best way to ease my legs back into the land of the living is to eat breakfast sitting on a large exercise ball so I can stretch and work the muscles gently as I wake up. The second part is to take a nice walk and keep mobile. Easy enough when you have a toddler who, much like a terrier, needs to be walked and exercised routinely or her constant motion and yapping will snap the ever-thinning cord of your patience.

I complain (oh, how I do complain) but the truth is that beside the horrific nausea of my first 20-odd weeks, I have easy pregnancies. Everything I experienced in the third trimester with Maggie was more or less par for the course and it appears to be going the same way this time. To be a healthy, fully-functional engine growing a life is a pretty cool thing–it was certainly awesome in Portugal, where I could (mostly) hold my own against the hills, provided Tom did the heavy toddler lifting (I do so love that man). Essentially I’m just at the point where my thoughts run from “Ughhh, twelve more weeks…” to “We’re going to have a baby in twelve weeks, OMGWTFBBQ?!?!” It’s exciting. Hip-numbing, but exciting.

That hip belt is not flattering.


I can do this. I’ve got this. Just twelve weeks left.

Metabolism on Ice

Things Occupying My Mind As I Blow Past the Midway Point of Pregnancy:

1. I can’t believe I’m going to complain about this…but here I go. I can’t seem to gain any weight. Thanks to the Exorcist-level morning sickness I experienced this time around (which has not totally abated), I estimate that I dropped about ten pounds in my first trimester. None of my maternity pants fit; a pair I purchased in a size lower than what I usually wear hangs off me like parachute pants. Since I don’t know the words OR the dance to “Too Legit” I suspect that’s a problem. As 2.0 fattens up and grows on schedule (more on that in a second) I am dropping weight from my arms, thighs, and abdomen. My rings are so loose that I have to be careful to keep track of them; my watch keeps swinging around to face down. I’m wolfing Ben & Jerry’s down by the pint, eating three solid meals and at least two big snacks during the day, dispatching Tom to make cookies, and still the only pairs of pants that fit me are a pair of Levi’s ultra-low ultra-skinny jeans and a pair I hung onto, for reasons passing understanding, from high school.

2. Despite it sucking every bit of caloric storage from my flesh, the little fetus is growing right on schedule and my ultrasound revealed a happy, growing little baby we’ve temporarily christened “Thumpy”. Sadly my cool due date was lost–it moved three days from 11-11-11 to 11-14-11. This actually doesn’t make a bit of difference to me; I went so overdue with Maggie that my hope is to not be pregnant on my birthday (November 28). The baby is also starting to assert itself. Maggie was scrambling around on my lap looking for a comfortable spot when I felt a hit under my ribs so hard that I yelped in pain. I chastised Maggie for not being careful and she looked at me like I was a moron (a look she has perfected). I realized then that the hit was coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE as if to say “Woman, get that toddler under control or I will John Hurt you.”

So there’s that. Assertive, healthy, and fattening up right on schedule whilst stealing all my nutrients. At least my hair is looking full and fluffy.

3. I’ve been classified as very low risk and a good candidate by the midwives and the local clinic, so assuming the baby is in the proper position when the time comes we’re officially starting to look at things we need for the homebirth. It’s hard looking at those kits without remembering those first days after Maggie’s birth. Ohhh, the ice packs. Lots of ice packs. Oddly enough, pricing out disposable underwear didn’t really drive home the reality of the impending little person; pulling the trigger on buying the baby’s car seat did. We needed to buy it a little early since we’re ordering an American model through Amazon (a Britax B-Safe) and couldn’t try it in the car first–we have to have time to return it in case it doesn’t work out. The seat and two new diaper covers are the first things we’ve purchased for this baby. Imagining that tiny little diaper sitting in that car seat is making me verklempt…as is the thought of those ice packs. Ye gods.

It’s all getting real: there’s going to be a new little person here in a few short months. A little person who will poo and scream and need to be fed every two hours…and who will snuggle and make grunty noises in its sleep and eventually get big enough to wrap its arms around me and say, as its big sister did today: “Oh, I just love you so much.”

That’s worth all the ice packs. Trust me.

Odds and Ends

I’m pointedly ignoring Maggie singing a song in her bedroom (about a…tomato? Okay then!) and NOT napping because 1pm-3pm is the Time of Quiet at this particular monkey house. Since I am a Bear of Above Average Brains I assume that her full transition to a big girl bed is also impeding her progress to the land of Nod. When we first moved into our new house, she slept on a spare crib mattress–for a crib we never owned, I might add–that we brought from Hawaii on the off chance Maggie would have to sleep on the floor. This bit of sense proved…well, sensible. However, a mattress placed directly on the floor is entirely too close to all the toys and books we unpacked and the temptation proved to be too much for Maggie-bear. I don’t mind if she plays with a toy or two IN bed because if she’s tired she won’t climb down from an elevated position and will eventually fall asleep; however, simply being able to ROLL out of bed and directly into a pile of toys was a thrill of decadence usually saved for the back rooms and Vegas. I canceled this out by putting her in MY bed, but because the new couch was being delivered in the same IKEA order as her new bed I did not have anywhere to comfortably sprawl during MY quiet time. And I need it. I need my quiet time. Gestatiion, Round 2 is pummeling my expanding self all around the ring and I need two hours to doze on a soft surface and occasionally refresh myself with a hit of tea. Thankfully the balance of life has been restored, Maggie is loving life in her big girl bed (and her free reign to access her toys), and my daily sessions of Tea and (Self-) Sympathy have resumed.


Parenting Pro Tip: It doesn’t matter how many IKEA flat packs and pictogram instructions you’ve navigated since entering the Land of Adulthood. When you see a 20-page pictogram instruction booklet and roughly 80 different parts to assemble together, DON’T START BUILDING YOUR CHILD’S BED HALF AN HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME. Or you know what, do. Maggie was so tired by the end of the process, two and a half hours later, that she crawled into her freshly made–and I do mean FRESHLY MADE–bed, pulled a quilt over her head and dropped off to sleep without a sound.


We have put the iPad away and not used it for over a week. We don’t plan to get it out again until our trip to Dublin next month and Lisbon/Sintra in August. It feels nice to temporarily fire the electronic book-toy-game-babysitter.


A return to cloth diapers: yes, we are still using them. No, Maggie has not fallen in line with the theory that cloth diapered children learn about the potty faster because of the moisture. No, I don’t know why, but my theory is that sitting over an open hole (even in the form of a toddler potty) disturbs her (and I know for damn sure that the noise of a flushing toilet–and a vacuum cleaner, and a food processor, and loud cars, and really anything that makes loud noises in any form) sends her into hysterics. Anyway. Since we are coming into our second year, some of the diapers are a little worse for wear and could either be fixed (by me, whenever I get around to rousing myself to find the needles and thread for new Velcro and elastics) or replaced. I left the decision to Tom, who voted replace. If I had it to do all over again, I’d buy all the same products–the Bum Genius one-size pocket diapers, the newborn prefolds, the nighttime fitteds with Thirsties covers–but I would not buy them with hook-and-loop closures. All the replacements we’ve ordered have snap closures, and I will never go back. The fit isn’t that much better with Velcro tabs, and they seem to hold up in the laundry exceptionally better. So there you go.


It is May 16 and I am wearing long sleeves, long pants, and wool socks. WTF, England? I feel only slightly better knowing my American bretheren in New England are similarly frozen this spring, but golly. Maybe next time we do a tour in a warm locale we should do an in-betweeny climate before moving to an area that shares a latitude with Labrador, Canada. That leather couch we just bought is CHILLY when you plunk down on it first thing in the morning.


I wanted a Storchenwiege wrap since I started researching babywearing when my sister was pregnant with my nephew in 2007-2008. Since this is likely my last ride on the Baby Go Round, I bought one (in Inka, for the curious). I have no regrets. Nor do I regret dropping an iPod’s worth of cash on new flannel sheets from L.L. Bean. Consider my nest snugly and almost completely (with the exception of one or two other baby items I’d like to buy, and oh, yeah, a new CAR SEAT JESUS THOSE ARE PRICEY) feathered.


Ahhh…Maggie is asleep, doll in each hand. Bliss.

Food Fighter

I have accomplished very little over the last two weeks.

Few updates to the blog, no house yet to clean, and even the bulk of the childrearing has fallen on Tom’s shoulders. I have all sorts of blog ideas percolating in my head but scant motivation when it comes to recording them. All I’ve been doing the last few weeks is growing a human and trying desperately to avoid vomiting, with varied success. Since my last post my state of well-being has taken a sharp nosedive. If I were permitted to do so, I could easily sleep 16 hours a day and live off a diet consisting solely of bread loaves and watered-down juice. Alas, I cannot. And I live in terror of the lobby of our hotel, which contains a plug-in air “freshener” that in the last few days has gone from merely odious to unfailingly vomit-inducing every time I pass. I’m afraid to leave the building without a mask over my face, lest I water the garden with breakfast, and thus leaving to explore other places and restaurants becomes a Herculean task.

The one meal a day that I actually feel up to eating is dinner. Dinner is wonderful; Tom’s had Maggie for a few hours so I can recharge and by then I’m starting to feel human again. And since we don’t have a house or a car with which to transport groceries, we’re still on per diem so we can enjoy some nice restaurants. The one where we’ve had the best luck is a place called Prezzo, a chain that I believe originated in the UK. It’s probably the UK equivalent of the Olive Garden, except the food tastes so much better than the Italian-food-for-dummies/sludge-on-noodles the Olive Garden routinely serves.

Since mozzarella is one of the cheeses I can safely consume, I was more than a little disappointed that there was no option to just have mozzarella and tomato salad (is that a genuinely Italian dish or a bastardization? Geraldine?). Whatever. It tastes good. But draping a light, delicious bit of prosciutto (technically a no-no food for me, but I have a relaxed midwife) over their mozzarella more than made up for it. And the carbonara was a delight. No one was more surprised than me that I could handle such dishes, but there you go.

Conversely…Mexican food. Oh, how I needed a little avocado in my life (which I actually found a few days later in Prezzo’s salmon/avocado salad). I had a bad craving and y’know, I’m just not seeing avocado at the grocery store like I used to in Hawaii. Oh, for the locally grown fruits of our former home!

It turns out that Mexican food is one of those cuisines that the further away you are from your home source, the worse it’s going to be. Thanks to immigration, you can find great Italian in New York, Boston, San Francisco, take your pick. You may have to dig, but somewhere in most major cities you can find a hole in the wall where someone’s Italian grandma has relinquished control over her old country cookbook and they’re doing Nonna’s recipes justice.

Not so with Mexican food in Northern England, or at least not in Harrogate. The guacamole was a horrendous disappointment–I think some sort of sour cream or mayo was used as filler, which is an abomination unto avocado. You may be a nice person, but if your guac recipe includes fillers we just aren’t going to be friends–and looked somewhat oxidized. The burrito was dry, with not a bit of bean to be seen. And this is all academic anyway, because it came up as soon as we got home.

Nothing tastes good anymore. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Just salty and sour things, heavy emphasis on savory. There’s a carbonated sour apple juice available here that is making my life bearable, and pancetta bacon makes everything okay again (especially in a garlic cream sauce) but nothing else. Maggie’s asleep and I just had to write SOMETHING, but all I can think about is my poor belly.

Tom is of the opinion that if I just got up and walked around a bit I’d feel springy and happy once again. I’m reminded of a line from “Friends” that I’ll need to quote to him if it comes up again: “Hey! No uterus = no opinion.”