August 2009


I think not being in control of my time is one of the hardest things about having a newborn in the house.  He goes down for a short nap in the a.m. and I think ok, what do I do with this time?  The other day the choices were , 1) I could put my eldest son in a time out for sounding like a belligerent a-hole,  2) I could take a shower or  3) I could pump so someone else can feed my child while I go out and do something fun.  And I definitely can’t do them all – so how to decide?

They all benefit me -  having fun away from the house, having a squeaky clean bod, having a well-behaved child are all good things that make me happy.   I don’t remember what I picked, I’m sure it was great.

But it made me think more about what’s good for me because I get caught in the shoulds all the time and have been working more on trying to hear what my gut has to say.

My friend and I talked about this.  She works long hours so on her day off it’s her opportunity to get to a yoga class and she feels great when she does.  It was her day off yesterday and we were talking and she said, “but you know I”m cleaning my house today instead.”  And she felt like that was a very non-nurturing thing to do on her day off when she could, or *should* be, Ujjayi-ing in Childs Pose. 

But the fact is she’s going to have a house guest visit today and stay.  And sometimes she feels a bit on edge with this person, and if her house is clean she will feel more relaxed and grounded.  So really, as drudgerous as it sounds, house cleaning is exactly what she needed to do. 

I had an insight along those lines myself this week.  It was a tough week, my house had three kids under 5 in it all day, everyday and it was fine except for the times when I wanted to run away screaming and was too tired to do so.  But we had great weather.  And sometime during the week I thought, the summer is almost over, we haven’t had a picnic we should definitely try to do that.  Notice the *should* :-)  That *should* have been my red flag.

So the “perfect” day was later in the week and we were exhausted and I realized that to source the food and get ourselves to the damn picnic would have been more stressful than chilling on the deck with a chilly beverage before eating at home.  So what’s the point?  

The point of something like a picnic is to reduce stress not add a pile of it in the hope that I can reduce it later.  You know how that works out.  If life happens, the car breaks down on the way, or someone gets stung by a bee and screams non-stop for an hour, it’ll be remembered as the most stressful event of the summer. 

No thanks.  I’ll wait for the day when prepping for a picnic feels doable and “easy” and then it’ll be the perfect thing to do.  It *should* happen while the weather is nice, but it might be December.

So I’ve wondered a lot about how people come to match their name.  People often talk about how kids *are* their name at a pretty young age and I’ve seen it too.  How does that happen?  Are parents psychic or does the kid evolve into her name?  Or is it all just a freaky coincidence? 

There’s a kid I know who’s Oliver, and at three he’s a total Oliver, he simply could not be a Mike or a Steve.  He’s an easy going kid with a big smiley moon face, ginger hair and glasses.  He’s is completely and totally an Oliver and an Ollie.  And that’s not a common name.  So were his parents in on something?  Or the minute it’s decided do the naming gods say, ok got it…..imperfect eyesight and ginger hair coming right up.

That whole question freaked me out because here I am saddling a kid with a name that he’ll have for life unless he actively changes it and what if I’m creating a Fitzgerald, a Brutus or, god forbid, a Guido by naming him that?  Or can I intuitively respond to some sense of who the kid is or will become with any accuracy?

First born Angus was a kicker when he was in utero.  At five months pregnant mothers would ask me if I’d felt the baby move. They’d say, ah it’s so beautiful,  it feels like a mouse or spider crawling across your stomach (um, gross).  And I didn’t feel anything like that.  Then I clued in that the “doof doof doof” sensation against my ribs was him booting me with his tiny fetus foot.  No mouse there and sure enough he’s been playing soccer since he was 2. 

People also told me that when he was born and we announced his name people said to them (not me), wow Angus, what a hefty name to give a kid.  Notice how they didn’t tell me directly?  That’s why it’s best to hold off telling people what names you’re considering.  If you do it in advance you’ll always find someone who knew someone with that name in kindergarten who smelled like pee. 

When you tell people the names you’re considering they automatically assume it’s now a committee decision and they’re ready to write up the minutes with their input.  I tell you, avoid it until you name the kid and then you don’t need to hear about it.   They’ll only talk amongst themselves.  Anyways, long story shortish – Angus totally fits his name.  Whew.

And then new baby was on his way and we had to figure out another name.  People asked if we were going to do the Scottish thing again and I said no, the last thing we want are two kids that sound like they make up a bagpipe and fiddle duo.  When I first thought it was a girl I really liked the name Ally and then realized her full name would be Ally MacNeil, nope, not gonna work.  And then I thought about Amos, but Angus and Amos?  It sounds like a vaudeville act. 

Anyways, when I was pregnant I’d be lying on my back in bed amidst 6 or 8 pillows placed strategically for maximum comfort with my book resting on my belly and he’d kick the book.  Not a soft kind of push, but big kicks and lots of them, rollercoastering my book like he was saying MA,  GET THAT BOOK OFF MY ASS!

That was when it occurred to me that this was no soft sweet wallflower kid, you know?  So we named him Leo because he seems to have a bit more going on than the average bear cub. 

And he’s got a big bush of red brown hair.  And he’s got big dark eyes.  Honeybunny says he looks like a baby orangutan.  We call him oranga-baby for short. And I tell you, at 3:00 a.m. when his furry little head is against my shoulder and we’re heading for a feeding, and he’s grunting and head butting me because he’s impatient and hungry and I want to say, “dude!  can I at least sit down first??”  it’s like he’s already grown into his name.  Then he settles in for a feeding and curls his body around my middle like a little warm kitten.

SoI had the baby.  Labour was 5 hours of crazy intensity but I managed to do it drug-free again and was happy about that.  I was only able to do it because I’m really stubborn.   The yoga breathing and hill running experience helped too.  The good news is that contractions don’t last as long as it takes to run up the average hill. 

Towards the end of my pregnancy women would stop me trundling in a store and say “I bet you can’t *wait* to get that baby out of you!”  But for the most part I was OK, I was still getting stuff done, my garden was shaping up, I was non-stop baking and feeling zen for the most part.   Then at 7 days overdue they scheduled me for an induction and I REALLY didn’t want to do that.  

First I was bummed out.  So I took Angus to the beach to take my mind off it.  And  it helped although I had to hide in the beach grass  to pee 3 times.

Then I got cheesed off and wanted payback.  I announced to my doctor that I was going to put the baby in a time out the minute he was born for freaking out his Mom.  And I’d name him Beatrice.   HaHA, let’s see how that goes on the playground bucko!  But a few hours later I felt the first contraction and he was born 3 hours before my scheduled induction.  Whew.

When I went to the hospital it was like they didn’t really believe that my water had broken.  I’m like no, girlfriend,  trust me, I’ve seen Like Water for Chocolate.  But I understand that lots of women probably go in early because they’re dying to get it over with. 

They left us to our own devices in the delivery room which was fine.  But when my contractions were 3 minutes apart Honeybunny went to tell the nurse and she said, “excellent, tell her to get in the bath, that really helps move things along!”  So I did and then nearly *had* the baby in the bath because things were already moving along.  Someone finally came in  to check and heard my leg-trapped forest animal sounds, her jaw dropped and she said, “Um, I’ll go get a nurse”.

The doctor said later that I was really good at pushing.  It’s weird being good at something you have no interest in really doing letting alone being good at.  Can I transfer that gift to something I really want?  Or something more useful?  Like fluency in Cantonese? 

My parents dropped in the day he was born.  Significant considering they live across the country, how’s that for timing?  The first night I was home I was up for a game of Scrabble.  I almost won too, so I think things went pretty well.

It’s been hard to be reflective, and say, write a blog post about any of it with a newborn in a house.  It just seems like I’m in constant react mode.  If I’m not responding to the baby needs then I’m responding to my own and is that ever fun.  I tell you, a meal has never tasted so good, a shower never so amazing and lying flat on anything resembling a sleeping surface never so awe-inspiring. 

When he falls asleep I think - yay now I get to do something *I* wanna do!  But sure enough, if it’s  a marathon nap, before long, I start to miss him.  The little bugger.