A Mother and Her 7-Week Old at the DMV

25 July 2011

On Friday, Jake and I went to the DMV. We had to register the new vehicle in the family: a 1982 diesel Mercedes. Jacob never got over selling the old Mercedes he drove in college and so when the time came for us to become a two-car family his eyes ran with lust to Craigslist. The illustrious purchase was finalized last Wednesday.

And in a moment of profound charity I offered to do the DMV visit.

Woe to the good old days of small-town-registering-a-car in the Gillespie County Courthouse where you walk up to a desk and a sweet lady processes your paperwork while she tells you about how she just took her mother to your parents' clinic and recalls all the various times your siblings have been in the newspaper recently and then sends you on your merry way.

The DMV is not like this.

The DMV is like purgatory. Lots of people and lots of waiting. 

This time I got wise though and made an appointment. But so did everyone else, and when I arrived at the loathsome place, the appointment line was even longer than the non-appointment line. So there I was, carrying the sleeping Jake in his car seat in line between a woman from Sweden and a man from Australia who were carrying on a conversation over me about passports. I'm not a fan of toting the baby around in the car seat but I felt like he was more protected in it from all the smells and stares and sounds that are the DMV. 

I was feeling pretty put together. Jake woke up right as I was going up to the first counter to get my number, but I only dropped one piece of paper that someone had to pick up for me. I juggled the car seat and the baby and the bag and the papers relatively adeptly as I made it to a chair to sit and wait for my number to be called...Jake was doing pretty well. He was a little fussy because at home I'd had to interrupt his breakfast in order not to be late for my 9:40 appointment, but I thought he could hang in there till this was done. So I held my slightly-fussy baby while I watched the numbers tick by SO SLOWLY all the while praying that he wouldn't get fussier. But he did. So...I contemplated whether or not I was going to let him nurse in the middle of the DMV. 

You see, at the DMV, people have nothing to do but watch other people while they wait, and it's socially unacceptable to watch people in this country. HOWEVER it is totally acceptable to watch babies. So we were getting a lot of attention. But after the poor little guy had rooted and rooted against my shoulder and fussed and fussed, I finally gave in. I covered up with his blanket and let the little porker chow down. In the middle. Of the DMV.

Again I was quite proud of myself. I'd managed to get the kid nursing without a big to-do and he finished right before our number was called. The clerk cooed at Jake and commented on how he was making the cutest faces. (I elected not to tell her that this particular series of faces was his filling-my-diaper routine.) We paid our bill and ascended to the only slightly less purgatorial parking lot and hightailed it homewards. 

Home again, home again. Nothing like a productive Friday to usher in the weekend. I replayed the event in my mind feeling like it had really gone off without a hitch, and I entered our apartment with the glow of success. 

Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My shirt was on inside out.

What is it they say?

Oh, yes.

Pride cometh...

*  *  *
And. Of course. Pictures of Jake.

Happy Monday!!


22 July 2011

Today we are missing 
 who came and left all too quickly last weekend.
Per our pediatrician appointment yesterday: the Cub is being very boyish and lagging in social development, but he is gaining weight with the best of them, topping the scales at 11 lbs 10 oz.
And we are sporting some of Uncle Adrian's hand-me-down overalls today:


Happy weekend!

Good Morning from Baby Jake

Once Upon a Midnight

13 July 2011

I suppose this story started a month and a half ago while we were looking for a new place to live. It goes without saying that housing in LA is...expensive. We'd been living in a guesthouse since we married and really valued having outdoor space of our own. So we found ourselves scouring the rental listings for other such set-ups. To no avail.

For indeed, I have reached the point in my adult life that kitchens need to be bigger than hot pads, master bedrooms need to be bigger than queen sized mattresses, my husband needs to be able to stand up straight in the bathroom, etc.

So on a Thursday we'd just about given up on the guesthouse option and spent the day looking at apartments. There was one more guest house that we were going to check out, but the rent was relatively cheap and it was right next to I-10 so we didn't have very high expectations of the place. At 2pm we met the landlord to tour the place. He took us through a gate to the right of the main house and down some brick stairs that opened up on a terrace that overlooked Culver City. The property is on a number of tiers so down some more stairs we went, to a pool and then finally to the place he'd listed for rent. The front was all windows and it was cut into the side of the hill. It had a gated patio/terrace that is half covered. The stairs continued down to a yard and garden area.

Jacob and I looked at each other and knew we'd found it. The landlord told us we had full access to the pool and the yard and the garden area. He told us that we were free to make any improvements on the little place that we wanted. And (here's the clencher) he told us we could keep bees (but only if they were safe for our baby.)

We couldn't sign the papers fast enough.

The place is not without its...quirks. There isn't a single 90 degree angle in the whole place. The kitchen is a glorified hallway. There are random pillars in the living room and the bedroom, support structures for whatever this used to be. During Jake's 3am feedings, I hear mice running around above us. And the list goes on. But we're used to critters and to managing in unusual/tiny places, so we weren't too phased. And Jacob enjoys all the opportunities to use his tools. 

One of the projects that Jacob took on was installing a vent in the bathroom which was tricky. When my Dad was in town they talked through the project, specifically the electrical side of it, which would involve a three-way switch, I have no idea what this is, but from the way Jacob has talked about it, it might as well be the electrician's Everest. 

Anyhow, beyond the infamous three-way switch, this little project also involved a hole in the ceiling above our stove. Life being as it is, the hole gaped down at us for several days as the vent-saga continued. One specific night, around 11, we'd only just gone to bed, Jacob was already asleep and I was feeding Jake, and I heard a noise in the kitchen. I thought most likely the precariously perched dish in the sink had finally toppled over or something like that, but it had certainly sounded like something hitting the stove. Then I remembered the hole. 

I contemplated waking Jacob to go check it out. I did, and I justified it because he was snoring. So I nudged him and said: "Do you think it's possible that a mouse could fall out of the ceiling onto the stove?"

His sleepy eyes looked up at me, annoyed and very confused. I realize now that a hypothetical question at such a time didn't really serve, but I obliviously repeated it. Still sleepy confusion. I finally just said: "I heard a noise in the kitchen."

This roused him enough to huff out of the room in order to put his sweet, little, nursing-the-baby wife at ease. 

A few minutes later he returned and told me that there was a baby possum on the stove.
Below is a video. Sorry for the Blair Witch feel to the filming, for some reason we didn't think to turn the lights on.
After this little event, Jacob temporarily plugged up the hole over the stove to ward off the rest of the possum family, and we got back in bed. It was all just funny until Jacob mentioned that baby possum was probably going to die outside. This was troubling. I didn't like thinking we'd sent this innocent little night-walker to its demise. Jacob said it'd probably never been out of the ceiling and guessed it was about a month old. This really got me.

"So...it's the same age as Jake...?" I said, as my postpartum self got a little teary.

 Jacob looked at me in disbelief. 

"You want me to go get it and put it back in the ceiling?"

"No...I don't know..." I replied. So we sat there determining our moral obligations...this took about as long as remembering what an adult possum is like, at which point we decided baby possum was spending his first night outside and went to sleep.

In the morning he was nowhere to be found.

So there's my little story.

For those of you who came here looking for more pictures of baby Jake. I'll get some up ASAP. Ciao for now.

The Birth Story pt. 2

05 July 2011

Again, this is only for all the brave people who are comfortable with gooey labor language, with words like cervix, contractions, dilation, placenta, umbilical, etc, etc. Read Part I here.

By the time we drove to the hospital I was very much in active labor. Jacob, my Mom, and I were in our car and Ruthie followed behind. We only had a couple miles to drive and Jacob did his best not to hit any bumps while I was having contractions. We arrived at UCLA when I was in the middle of a contraction, and the valet had to wait to take away the car while I sweated it out in the front seat. Finally I pulled myself out of the vehicle and waddled into the hospital. Jacob and I (delinquents that we are) hadn't gone on a tour of Labor and Delivery. Thankfully, the people at the front desk of the lobby, with all its austere marble, took one look at us and pointed to the elevator. I leaned against the wall outside the elevators through a contraction, feeling grateful that we were close to the room where I could stay for the rest of my labor. The elevator doors opened finally, and I leaned on Jacob as I entered. A woman with blond hair rode the elevator with us. She said she'd been at her friends home-birth for the last 36 hours. Her friend had just been transferred to the hospital. This should've been demoralizing for me to hear, but mostly I just remember thanking God I hadn't been in labor for 36 hours.

We exited the elevators and we each headed cluelessly in three different directions. I was pretty sure I was heading the right direction, so I kept going, assuming they would eventually catch up with me...I was moving rather slowly...

We showed up at the desk at Labor and Delivery and they had us in a room quickly. We turned down the lights and I changed into a hospital gown.

I had this unrealistic image of myself practically doing yoga during labor, changing positions for every contraction, squatting, swaying, but no can do: I got on the bed, curled up on my right side and stayed like that for the remainder of labor. I was beginning to feel pretty beat up by this point, and in between contractions I would close my eyes and just try to relax completely and almost drift to sleep. During my contractions I would grab the bar on the side of the bed and lift myself up a little bit and breathe with Jacob/moan/wonder why in the world I'd elected to do a natural labor.

We'd checked in around 7pm, right before shift change (exactly what they tell you to avoid in birthing classes, but like you actually think, "let's hold out for half an hour, it's shift change" when you think it's time to go the hospital.) So our L&D nurse looked very ready to go home as she came in to ask us questions and and seemed even slightly annoyed at having to pause while I dealt with each contraction.

Dr. Mom--who was doing her best to be Mom and not Dr.--was beginning to wonder why no one had checked me. She went out and asked a nurse who said that we would have to wait for my midwife who was currently busy with someone else. To assuage my mother, they finally got an Ob/Gyn to come check me. She came in and introduced herself rather brusquely. As she checked me, she seemed a bit surprised and then informed us that I was at 8cm.

Knowing I was so far along was a huge stamina booster. This was one of the two moments in my labor that I was truly encouraged that I was doing this and things were happening. The other came later.

After the Ob/Gyn checked me the energy in the delivery room really changed. People began to take us a bit more seriously since I was already in transition, there was a lot of bustle, and within a few minutes my midwife was there.

The next two hours are all a painful blur. 

Between contractions I would lie back and almost fall asleep.

I got annoyed very quickly when people would do things I didn't like. For example, a couple of times Jacob let go of my hand and I became irrationally angry with him. I didn't have the energy to express this anger, so I would just stay mad until he came back and took my hand again.

At some point, the midwife asked if I wanted her to break my water. She said this would make the delivery go more quickly but it would get more intense. This felt like an impossible decision, so I looked helplessly at my husband and my mother for guidance. They of course weren't going to decide for me. My midwife encouraged me that I was progressing beautifully (she used lots of luscious words like that) and breaking my water wasn't necessary. I couldn't imagine things being more difficult than they were, so I elected not too. 

By this point in the labor, I'd got into a bit of a pattern with my contractions. I would have one really strong contraction, then I would throw up, and then I would have another not-so-strong contraction, and then the contraction would let go completely for a blessed minute or so where I could lie back and relax. Throwing up really wasn't as bad as it sounds. My midwife encouraged me that every time I threw up it pushed the baby down further.

When I was around 9.5 cm in one of my barfing-bouts, my water broke by itself in a gush...and when I say gush I mean like thank-God-no-one-was-at-the-foot-of-the-bed-fountain thing. I didn't even know that could happen. It was actually quite...funny...in a moment where not much was funny.

So just before 10pm I started pushing. 


I've read so many birth stories in which women talked about how GOOD it felt to push. I always thought this was (forgive me) bologna. But honestly, pushing certainly felt different, and different was indeed REALLY good.   

As I pushed everyone in the room was super encouraging. They told me over and over again that I was doing SO well. But I didn't believe them. I kept scanning their faces--the midwife's, the OB nurse's, the med-student's--for a hint that they were lying to me and nothing was happening. Because that's how it felt. 

But they continued with their encouragement. The midwife would count me through three pushes per contraction, and afterward everyone would gush about how well I was doing. Lies. I thought. All lies

After 50 minutes of pushing, my midwife and the OB nurse launched into action and they weren't wasting time. My midwife put on her baby-catching gown; the nurse pulled a table around to the foot of the bed, grabbing various things.

This was the second moment in the haze of labor where I felt like things were truly happening....where I felt like things were progressing, that perhaps--heaven forbid--it was almost over.

The baby's head was out with the next push. 

His shoulders were stuck for a couple seconds, but in a flash they placed him on my stomach and Jacob told me it was a boy.

And I held him there as he wailed. My mother told us to shade his eyes, and immediately after my hand had blocked the light, his little eyelids fluttered open. And so we greeted our little Jake.

The One Where Jake Gets Baptized

So Jake got baptized not last weekend but the weekend before, and here are a couple lovely pics from that event. 

Aunt Kathleen - Jake's Godmother
Like Father Like Son

Mama Joanie and Me and The Rhodes Siblings

Thanks to all who came out, we felt SO supported and loved and generally touched by your presence.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...