Monday, November 27, 2006

The lost art of waiting

In a culture with few suprises left, waiting for a baby to decide when it's ready to be born can be tough. But as anxious as we are to have this baby, I get the feeling others are more anxious.

We've encountered many people lately who just don't understand why anyone, in this day and age of scheduled deliveries, would actually choose to wait for labor to start naturally. It's as if we are inconveniencing them by choosing the natural approach. Some people have asked whether this will be a scheduled delivery or why we don't just go in for an induction or a C-section.

Here's why we won't do that:

Childbirth (and child rearing for that matter) is not something that can be neatly fit into over-scheduled lives. For the past three years, Jim and I have purposely under-scheduled our lives in anticipation of having children. I don't work full time, we don't have bad debt, we live very simply, Jim doesn't work super long hours at a demanding job, we aren't involved in a lot of activities. In fact, we moved to North Carolina to get away from the bustle and high cost of DC life. We felt that lifestyle would negatively impact the quality of our life with children.

So we wait. We nap, we laugh, we walk the dog, we watch movies and favorite TV shows uninterrupted, we go out for coffee, we clean and organize our home inside and out. And we enjoy these last few days or weeks together as a childless couple with a very unhurried, simple lifestyle.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Adventures in nesting

Mopping a floor should be one of those household tasks a woman my age should be able to do at least adequately and without mental gymnastics. But alas, I always end up mopping myself into a corner, then getting frustrated with the entire process when it seems that all I'm doing is pushing dirty animal-hair laden water around my kitchen floor. And, yes, I did sweep the floor before I mopped. Tip: Never, ever have a white kitchen floor (or walls for that matter).

I just mopped my kitchen floor and attempted to bleach my white, but dingy, kitchen walls. I'd say I'm probably nesting. Everytime I look around, I see a cobweb in a corner or on the ceiling and that just won't do. As for the kitchen walls, nothing short of painting them will satisify my need for clean walls right now. I've even put together a menu for each night of this week, despite the fact that I may be having a baby one day this week or at least, GOD PLEASE, before my gallon of milk expires on December 5.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

They found us ...

Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is not to malign anyone who chooses formula. As a writer, editor and someone who has worked in public relations, I am always analyzing marketing material. I am particularly interested in marketing material that seems to play into people's fears.

In this week's mail, I received a lovely little booklet from Enfamil, a baby formula company, titled "Getting ready for a very special delivery." I expected a booklet full of information about formula and the benefits of using their brand in particular. What I got was information about labor and delivery and breast feeding. Very nice, but why is a formula company supplying information about breast feeding?

Then, in the very center of the booklet was an advertisement for their formula. The ad talked about "supplementing with formula," specifically their formula because it was found to be the closest to breast milk. What they don't tell you is that if you supplement breast milk with formula, your breast milk supply will begin to diminish. Supplementing with formula is the first step in weaning your baby and turning you into a baby formula customer -- which is what they want.

Incidentally, this is the same formula company that supplies what they call a "Smart Bag" free to women in hospitals all over the country. Here's how they describe it: Customized design for breastfeeding moms; lots of storage room; a sample of Enfamil LIPIL Infant Formula, should you decide to supplement with formula. I fail to see how any bag would be specially designed for breastfeeding moms. All you need to breastfeed is a boob. There are no special supplies to buy, much to the chagrin of the baby marketing machine.

Isn't this kind of like Philip Morris publishing booklet about the dangers of smoking and including an advertisement for Marlboros? Or a food company supplying health information, but telling customers that if they must eat unhealthy, use our product because it's better for you than other junk food?

So, now the baby marketing machine has our address and they seem to know that our "big day is almost here." That phrase was printed on the first page of the booklet. How did they know? Scary. I'm curious to see what else turns up in my mailbox.

Monday, November 13, 2006

School at age 3?

Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.
(1874) Benjamin Disraeli

The News & Observer published an article in today's paper about an effort by researchers at a UNC Chapel Hill institute to start children in school at age 3. The child development institute is pushing for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system to host a prototype. The institute's interest is in getting people to see the education of 3- to 4-year-olds in public schools as the norm.

Some scholarly articles on the institute's effort point to research showing that early intervention with children leads to higher achievement later in their education. Intervention? What exactly would the school system be intervening in? The word intervention connotates that what's being arrested is always a bad situation and they are the saviors. In some cases, yes, they may be giving an impoverished child a chance she otherwise would not have had. But why then should every child, even the ones whose family life affords them infinite benefits that the state could never provide, be subject to school at age 3? Why do these scholars assume that a classroom setting is better than family- and life-centered learning and development in every situation? Does this mean that all children should be subject to classroom learning because some children don't have the advantage of a stable, loving home?

This goes to the heart of my opposition to state-mandated education. The state wants to replace the family as basic unit of society. In my opinion, a stable family, in whatever form it may take (that's a WHOLE other post), is the basic building block of society. It's not the state's job to raise children for the sole benefit of being cogs in their machine. It's a family's responsibility to raise the next generation to be whatever it wants to be.

Even the language used by the article's author is a frightening testimony to just how "normal" society considers the government's "right" to educate our children. He writes "[The school] would take 750 students, from 3-year-olds to fifth-graders, from the Seawell assignment zone." Note my emphasis. We seem to think it's just fine for the government to take our children for their grand (failed) social experiment that is the public school system. Nobody questions the system, they just let the system push them around, until finally, one day, they will find an excuse to start educating infants.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The 20-second panic attack

It's starting to dawn on me that at any given moment we are less than 24 hours from our entire lives changing ... forever. Luckily, the fallout from these realizations lasts about 20 seconds or less. Today we are childless, the next day we will have a baby and be parents. It's a scary thought even though we've had nine months to get used to it. At least I managed to make a decision and actually purchase diapers in the past few days.

Jim's 20-second panic attacks are all about his new job right now. On November 15, he is opening a brand-new corporate cafeteria in RTP. We're hoping that I don't go into labor before then. In fact, Jim has put in his request for me to go into labor on Thanksgiving Day since he'll have a four day weekend. I'll talk it over with the baby and see what we can do about that, Daddy.

Looking back, life-changing events seem to have happened for us in sudden and unexpected ways. Three years ago, Jim was looking for a new job in a very good job market in Maryland, but was finding nothing. Within three weeks of looking for a job in North Carolina, a very tight job market, he found one — after he'd been turned down for a job it looked like he would get. That same fall, we were set to move from Maryland without a contract on the townhouse, which had been on the market for nearly two months in a very hot seller's market. An hour before we left, we stood in our empty kitchen with the real estate agent signing a contract for more than our asking price. As I searched for a job that fall, my resumes went unanswered and I was turned down for a job at a newspaper I once worked for. About 10 months later, I got a job at Pulitzer-Prize winning newspaper — where I worked in college — just as the other newspaper was being bought out and my old colleagues were being laid off.

Those are just a few of the reasons our panic attacks last only about 20 seconds. There are countless other stories that I have deposited in what I call my "bank account of faith." God has always given us what we need, when we need it — and when we're ready for it. I'm convinced we'll all be fine.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The countdown has begun

We had an appointment at the birth center today. Danny is doing great. His heart rate is good (140 beats per minute), my blood pressure is low (112/64) and my weight gain is nice and steady (only 12 pounds so far!). The midwife thinks Danny is about 6.5 to 7 pounds right now. He has dropped down quite a bit and is head down. In fact, he's dropped down so far that I visit the bathroom these days whether I need to go or not - I just think of it as a pre-emptive potty break. The bathroom is my new office.

I think I'm nesting, too. This week, I've done a lot of investment cooking. I've made chicken broth, meatballs and chicken pot pies and all are going into the freezer. The pantry is stocked, organized and all the contents of my fridge, freezer and pantry are catalogued so I know what we have. I actually alphebetized my spices and oils and vinegars so my mom can find her way around my kitchen when she's here. If you think that's just a little obsessive, you should see the instruction notebook I have for her! The baby's clothes and blankets are all washed and folded. The baby first aid items are all lined up. The Thank You notes are all written. I've also sewn a few things for Danny. I made a boppee cover, a sling and a baby bunting.
Timmy's cat Penelope was the sling tester ... hehe. She was a good sport, sort of.

But other signs point to a bit of "unreadiness" on my part. My birth center bag is packed, but not zipped. I can't bring myself to buy diapers yet. I go down the diaper aisle, look at the choices, flip out and go home. And I let my gas tank get dangerously low despite knowing that I could go into labor at any time. It's almost like I want to drive with no cash, no map, no cell phone and a low fuel light on just because it may be the last time in my life I can get away with it. Jim insists I get some gas in the Volvo tomorrow. Okay, fine!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bad parenting 101

Here's a quote from a parenting magazine I was browsing through today:

"If I don't have time to feed my one year old, I just give her a scoop of cottage cheese in a mini ice cream cone."

WHAT?? If you don't have time to feed your one year old, you probably shouldn't have had children in the first place.