Friday, January 27, 2006

tv, my old enemy

In my old life, the tube was not a friend.

But today, on Tobias' second lunch break, we happened upon the International Film Channel and one of my favorite films. Central do Brasil is a great movie I had seen about 10 years ago in Tokyo. When I saw it then, it was in Portuguese with Japanese subtitles. At the time, I was doing well with spoken Portuguese and so-so with reading Kanji fast enough to get the plot. I loved it then, but today with English subs I loved it even more. I haven't spoken anything but English for so long, I think I could actually feel my brain reconfiguring. Felt good.

Now, with the whole breastfeeding thing, it seems tv is appropriately called the boob tube. I feel like part of the rest of the world, connected albeit artificially through the live feed.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Type-A Baby

In just one week, you have:
laughed twice

hiccupped a million jillion times

encountered the Circumstrator and survived with fewer tears than your mama

smiled innumerable times- from gas, hearing your dad's voice, having your fat cheeks tickled

peed on the pediatrician

peed on us

peed on your stuffed alligator

outgrown the smallest newborn diaper

gained 7 ounces- for a breastfeeder this makes you the baby who ate Manhattan

made me cry in fear and joy just looking at you

made me already wish for you to never grow, never change, stay right here with me, safe.

made me wish for you to grow strong and leap over your milestones and go out and find God right there with you.


For my sister's sweet goofy galoot of a German Shepherd Dog, Lewy:
You were a very good dog. Thanks, kiddo.

I announce the great individual, fluid as Nature, chaste, affectionate, compassionate, fully armed; I announce a life that shall be copious, vehement, spiritual, bold, And I announce an end that shall lightly and joyfully meet its translation.

-Walt Whitman

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Story

Here's the little guy.

Tobias Elliot weighed in at 9 pounds and was 21" long. He arrived at 8:59pm on January 19th, a mere 50 hours after labor began just as I was heading out to a rehearsal in Eugene.

We were so jazzed- packing up our stuff and getting ready to drive up to a hotel in Portland, I remember thinking we'd finally know what it would be like. Labor, meeting the kid, becoming irrevocably and forever a muthah.

We arrived at the Hilton, and I was having fairly regular contractions. The midwife on call at OHSU had given us the excellent but almost impossible to comply with advice to sleep until morning and give her another call if contractions came 5 minutes apart for a couple of hours in a row. I didn't so much sleep as sort of meditate, breathing in and out and trying to loosen up all the muscles still within my control.

In the morning we called Mom and Dad to meet for breakfast at Mother's- both because of the perfection of the name and because it's one of those places that makes Portland all Portlandy. Contractions were still coming about every 10 minutes, but most were not too bad and only a few made me really sit still and wonder how I was going to do if they got stronger.

Having eaten and chatted and adrenalined ourselves just a bit, we commenced the Great Portland Walking Marathon of Labor, 2006 edition. For the next 5 hours, we shopped the downtown mall, jaunted (I can make up words now, I've been through labor.) to Powell's Books and back, bopped over to Starbucks, and back to the Hilton where the midwife recommended we sleep for a bit after trying some shockingly unsexy nipple stimulation. At that point I was cranky, tired and felt unhappily like the time I was getting that stomach virus in Pakistan. Timing the contractions became depressing as they came together for the holy five-minute frequency for just about 2 hours and then spread right back on out to 8-9 minutes. They got a bunch stronger but still, they were not measuring up- J put it just so when he said, "Dude, what is UP with your contractions?"

So I decided to call it a night and lay down after Rachael arrived and we put in another mile on the hotel's treadmills. It felt like giving up.

Just then...

I had the worst, longest, meanest contraction ever invented. And then I thought I was going to be ill and then I started full-body shaking so hard even my jaw was jumping. J moved quicker than I have seen outside of the Incredibles. We thought the slow-down was maybe the Natural Alignment Plateau and the shakingness was maybe Transition. It was time to go.

We got up there and of course, I felt better and the contrax slowed down once again. Still, I felt like I should have gotten a prize because I was 5 centimeters and they told me we came in at just the right time. I slept a bit and then there they were again- super long >2 minutes contractions followed by (resting just would have been too conventional) marathons of sickness. Now that I think of it, it really WAS like Pakistan.

This went on for a long while, during which they suggested even more abjectly desexualized breast activities. In the morning they checked me and after 41 hours of labor and a full night of various versions of full-body contractions, shakes and sickitude, I was... drumroll please... still exactly where I had been when we checked in to the hospital. I thought about ordering an immediate c-section or a mallet, either of which would have felt great just fine in comparison.

Now most folks told me about barfing in labor, and the consensus was that as soon as you felt nauseated and got it out of the way, you were headed right on down the chute to pushing. This is what I had in mind as we left the hotel, 11 hours back. There had been no pause in any part of the unpleasantries and as they told me about my lack of progress, they also told me they were worried because I probably had an infection of some sort, and my temperature was bad for the kid. We deliberated a bit, and I fessed up: I was completely worn out. I told J I could have handled EITHER the contrax OR the sickness with no damned progression, but to have it all and then not get anywhere- I was depressed.

I decided to go for the Pitocin to see if it could make the contractions DO something. I got through 2 contractions with it, but the barfing also increased when I couldn't imagine it had any room for growth and I called for the dreaded epidural. They had already given me an IV for fluids and had stuck some anti-nausea stuff, fever reducer and an antibiotic in there for good measure- we were out of other options.

The next part of the day was seriously lovely. I don't mean to sound like I think epidurals are great. I still really wish we hadn't had to take that option, but being able to sleep and to eat ice chips and to chat with people- it really IS priceless.

They finally had me where they wanted around 7:45, and I pushed for just over an hour. My parents, Rachael, two midwives, a nurse, and 3 people from pediatrics were there and seriously sounded like they were watching a great sporting event. I almost started cheering me on myself. They're right about pushing being the coolest part, and feeling good.

When the kid finally arrived, they weren't able to put him on my chest or let J cut the cord like we had hoped because the pediatric group whisked him to the other side of the room. He was purple, but his color improved almost right away and pretty soon he was crying like a pro. After what seemed like forever, J carried him over and put him on my chest, the little beauty.

And that’s the story. That last moment, when the baby is there, the team is cheering, your body is finally done, and the world has been changed forever- it does defy understanding and overwhelm every other thing I have ever done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Water has broken, flooding has occurred.

The kid has announced his impending arrival and I could not be happier. Seriously, yay.

We're heading to a hotel in Portland for the night or for however long it takes for labor to get kicked into gear.

The need to know what he looks like and what I look like as a MOM over rides the fear of pain and procedures.

This better be IT!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sweeps Week

I'm trying not to get all excited. But today the midwives are going to Sweep my Membranes. (Another excellent name for a band, no? And now, with their hit single Gush, we have the Membrane Sweepers!)

According to the National Institutes of Health archive of randomized studies (excuse me for a moment while I make out with the internet), this procedure is proven to help women give birth without going over 40 weeks AND is without adverse side effects.

In the states it's usually called "Stripping the Membranes" but that's just way too lawn-thatcher Freddy Kruger sounding so I'll opt for the more genteel brit "Sweeping". All it entails is a careful exam of the cervix where the doc sort of runs their finger around the rim to release the membranes from the wall. It's supposed to stimulate the area to produce their happy little hormones, just like the kid's head has purportedly been doing as it whaps up against the backside my most secret of secrets. He is also rather fond of massaging my bladder.

Sometimes it does nothing. Sometimes women notice changes or actually do go into labor within a day or two. It statistically reduces the need for medically intrusive induction (Pitocin, breaking bag of waters, all the way up to c-sections etc).

Wouldn't that be something??!!!???!!!! Progress. Real or imaginary, it's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Pat Robertson is like the Jerry Springer or WWF star of Christianity minus the entertainment value. Actually, of Religiousity- I have a hard time believing he really gets the whole deal and has a God relationship of any sort. I wish so very much that he would just Shut UP.

The books I'm areadin' now are all travelly themed. Bill Bryson's accounts of England and Miller's first book about a long trip in a crappy van. Trying to inspire the kid to head on down the various canals and outlets to join us at his glamorous all expenses paid spa destination. I think if he realized all the facilities and activities available to him on the cruise ship Sundown Acres he'd be here last Tuesday. We have the travel crib, the aquarium bouncer, the glider, changing table, swing, diaper disposer, the carseat and various accoutrements thereof. Not to mention a 24-hour wet bar. What more could a human who weighs less than a pumpkin want?

I was only jealous for a split second when I learned that our favorite writer/thinker and simultaneously pregnant friend looks to be meeting her girl any minute now. Pray it up, internet- at last news she was heading to the hospital.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy New Year

Here's my favorite line from the first half of Pastor Rick's sermon on New Years day:

If you have a passion to live as a new creature in Christ, to live in that place of fidelity with God in the midst of a culture that would like to drown you, if you want your heart to be growing and experiencing more and more of the fullness of why you were created (to be God’s), then you cannot neglect the scriptures. You can’t stick them in a dusty cupboard somewhere and just say, “who cares”. Your heart will automatically be attracted to all these other gods. Automatically.

You can listen to his stuff on Imago's site.

You can even listen at the coffee shop downtown while eating a decadent chocolate muffin. You'll feel okay about that muffin later when you walk an hour on the treadmill while reading yet another Don Miller.

Oooh, ooh, and this is the class we're taking in the School of Theology (free classes put on by Imago Dei because they love us): Free Will and Determinism, taught by our friend and cool musician, Dan McKay.

Get a MOVE on.

I've signed up to sub with an orchestra and now it's a game of uterine chicken. The concert is on my due-date, and this at least gives me something formal and scheduley to think of in case the kid dawdles.

I was a champion daydreamer/staller myself. My mom had to come in my room and remind me to put on the other sock and get going many an elementary school morning. It wasn't that I was a slacker. Well, it wasn't just that anyway. I would start to think about something, or get absorbed in a randomly generated memory. A screen saver for my mind.

This still happens from time to time when I'm doing something inane like driving or taking preliminary exams for my doctorate. I somehow started to think about the time in my freshman year in Texas when I overslept and had to make a mad dash to get on the airport bus with the orchestra for our tour of Spain. A friend of a friend had to scream across campus with me and my ridiculous luggage in her convertible. Have you ever had hundreds of people watch your awkward bed-head self wrestle way too much junk toward their impatiently idling bus? Most of my memories of Texas are vaguely uncomfortable in a similar manner. Freshman years do tend to suck, right?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Importance Part II

The midwife today said, "perfect weight gain, perfect tests, perfect preggo!"

I only got a little lip gloss on her shoe when I bowed down & kissed it.

But then she also said I should "savor these last minutes with the baby tucked in safe and snug". And I should focus all my extra-nesty attention on minutes alone with J. She told me she's been married 33 years, and her kids have just finished growing up and she's officially alone with her husband for the first time in the past 30. "It's WONNNderful."

It's easy to appreciate the other person in a marriage well without distractions. The challenge is gonna come with the non-alone, stressed, unselfish multitudinous decision-making years ahead. Years filled with travel cribs, car seat bases, sickly powdery-smelling bums, bad parenting, good parenting, and all stops in between.

The blessings are overwhelming; the more potential, the greater the guarantee of falling short. I mean I guess I can't be wronger than wrong, but it's just so easy to forget what's important.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Still here, still huge, still reading.

I found 3 Nouwens, 4 books of poetry, and 1 by this guy who spoke at our church called Decision Making and the Will of God. Amazon's sending NT Wright and Kierkegaard. I'm finishing Through Painted Deserts, and will probably move on to the next Don Miller when I'm done. I like him because of the stuff he likes.

Funny- he talks about being impressed that Clinton remembered the name of a waiter in Aspen a year after meeting him. I remember walking down the street in Aspen into the sun, seeing all these guys in nice dark suits. I thought it was a wedding party, and nearly bumped into one of them as he was turning his head to do some window shopping while still walking forward. We both stopped and sort of did that back & forth-ness. Turns out the suits were secret service and the guy was of course C himself. Never was a huge fan of the guy, to be honest, but brushes with famous people still make you feel important.

My sense of importance is messed up. Miller uses the example of the life-boat economy: Constant evaluation of yourself and those around you to assess who gets to live, who gets dumped is pretty much how we live our lives. We want to prove our importance in any of the ways we can conjure. Generally for me that doesn't include a relationship with Christ.

This importance thing- I think the baby coming challenges my sense of it because I had planned on having a cool career to define myself. I've got the studly husband, I contribute to a church, I now live where I've always wanted to, I've finished all the degrees I can in performance. The next step was to get a job so that when people ask, I can tell them how much I belong in the lifeboat.

I know, I know. Having kids- it's what continues life, it's this amazing thing, and when I look into his little eyes I'll know that was what I'm here for. When I think about my own parents, and how they've lived and taken care of their kids, I guess they did always make me feel like the most important thing. They have their own stuff, and even that I have looked at as lives lived to be my examples. It's hard to imagine myself able to happily relenquish my imaginary reasons for being for anything. God, kid, marriage, humanity. It only took 32 years for me to notice this.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


...Birthday, Carole!

I know you might not see this until tomorrow, but thought I'd post it on the right day, anyway. I was aiming at today for the kid's arrival, but it's just not looking good. He better at least appear in the same month as you.

Wishing you a week of all above zero, a great time out with friends, and a spectacular year! Love you.

Just because...

Dad reminded me today about the motorcycle he had when I was a kid. So I thought I'd post it- his was turqoise. And it explains a great pseudo-swear in our family.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Hiya, internet.

I could use some assistance. Parenting books are lightweight, poorly organized and full of grammatical and spelling errors. And I'm done with all the ones that looked any good at all.

I want books to read, or authors. I'd like some theology, pithy novels, history, social commentary, I don't know... stuff that rattles around the brain after the covers are closed.

Please- my brain is turning to mush, and I'm not even to the sleep-deprived dairy cow phase yet.