Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Work. Life. Balance? - Guest Blog at Poet's Guide to Motherhood

Thanks to Kimberly O'Connor for inviting me to guest post on her blog Poet's Guide to Motherhood. I wrote about my expectations regarding writing and teaching after our baby arrives. Kimberly will be responding to my piece Work. Life. Balance? next week.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, too. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Buying a Stroller at Great Beginnings in Gaithersburg, Maryland

We read about Great Beginnings, "the baby and children's design center," in the Baby Bargains book. It was listed as one of the best baby stores in America. So, being obedient baby-goods-researchers, we headed out to the suburbs to shop.

At their Gaithersburg, Maryland, store, we bought a great, light-weight stroller after talking with a very knowledgeable salesperson. He not only made recommendations, but answered our many questions. That was a welcome change from our experience with salespeople at major retail stores who simply read off of the boxes in response to our questions.

After joining the store's online mailing list through their website, we were happy to save 20% on one of the parts (the stroller came separately from the car seat and car seat base.) The strollers we looked at were already a little less expensive than we'd seen elsewhere.

Their cribs and other baby furniture looked great, but a salesperson said it could take a few months for a piece to be ready. Too late for us; we have about a month and a half until the due date. (Who knew shopping for the baby could be like planning a wedding?)

The store focuses on lovely, well-priced furniture for babies, kids and teens. They had some clothes and other gadgets, but those items were a little pricy.

Happy shopping!

Monday, April 15, 2013

ZZZZ.... Sleepy

This pregnancy is exhausting. Maybe they all are. Besides starting with a general-exhaustion baseline, I haven't had a good night's sleep in some time. As my doctor once said sweetly, "Pregnancy sucks sometimes." There are, however, some remedies for my sleepless complaints:

I wake up 3 - 5 times a night to go to the bathroom (a common pregnancy complaint). Sometimes I'm also thirsty or hungry. I can usually fall back asleep, but not always. I try not to eat or drink too much before going to sleep, but of course drink lots of water throughout the day. People keep saying that this schedule will prepare me for motherhood, but I think starting motherhood well-rested would be preferable. Keeping the lights dim when I get up (and avoiding checking my iPhone) helps me to go back to sleep. When I can't sleep, I give in and wake up. I do a few things or read for a while and then go back to sleep later. That's not ideal, but I'm trying to make the best of it. (I am finally catching up on my New Yorker magazines.)

I have crazy, hormone-fueled dreams that seem to integrate everyone I've ever met, every scary movie I've ever seen and every worry I've ever had. I try to see them as fodder for future (odd) poems and think about something else. The other night I cleared a ballroom after standing on a table and announcing that the host tried to kill my husband. I was waving a spear and took out the host's guards. (Too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer before bed.)

My back and hips gave me some trouble before pregnancy and they continue to ache during pregnancy. I've found some relief with a foam top on the mattress and sleeping with a body pillow and other pillows around me. Pregnant women should sleep on their side and these pillows help to keep me propped up. My doctor also recommended prenatal massage and Icy Hot Naturals (of course, check with your doctor before using any prescription or over the counter medication.)

I've read that babies can't regulate their temperature well, but sometimes pregnant women can't, either. I'm pretty sure that my non-breathable-pillow-cage contributes to the heat. We keep the temperature fairly cool at home to help. (The other night my husband noticed that my glasses were fogged because I was generating so much heat.)

Of course I look forward to meeting the baby and falling in love. I also look forward to sleeping on my back or stomach, even for the short periods in which s/he is sleeping, too. I'm sure my husband is looking forward to a more regular temperature in the house and less pillows. (In fact, before I realized that the temperature was a pregnancy issue, I kept moving the thermostat dial up and down. He thought that perhaps the heat was broken since the temperature was always changing. That's when I realized it was me.)

How have / did you make yourself more comfortable when you were pregnant?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Helpful Parenting "Tricks"

1. Bathe your child in a laundry basket so that their toys don't float away.

Check out 36 tricks from BuzzFeed: 36 Little Hacks That Will Make Parenting So Much Easier.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Suggestion: The Bilingual Family, a Handbook for Parents

The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents by Edith Harding-Esch and Philip Riley offers a thorough explanation of how to raise a child bilingual. With a heavy reliance on case studies in the second half of the book, readers can fully appreciate various approaches (and situations) to a bilingual family. There is also a helpful alphabetical reference guide at the end. 

I appreciated the discussion of fluency throughout the book and the attention to mixed language families living in different countries. There was an emphasis on an individual's varying fluency depending on situations and experience. For example, they explain:

"Each of us speaks a part of our mother tongue. The bilingual does, too, that is, she speaks parts of two languages, and they rarely coincide exactly. If she is a lawyer, for example, she may work only in English in her office or in court, but speak French at home, with the result that her legal English is far better (as such) than her legal French, and her domestic French is far better (as such) than her domestic English. How can we compare the two then? All we can say is that they are different tools for different purposes."

If you are considering raising your child bilingual, you might also be interested in my recent review of The Bilingual Edge.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Teaching Memoir Writing While Not Writing: A Reminder About Thinking, Art and Life

I'm re-reading The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick for my memoir manuscript class at Politics & Prose Bookstore. Pregnant, I haven't been writing very much (neither essays or poetry.) But, reading and teaching writing has kept me connected to literature. Thinking about memoir, in particular, has helped me to, at the very least, think more deeply about this pregnancy and transitional period. Here is a quote - a definition, really - from The Situation and the Story which offers a clear reminder about the relationship between thinking, art and life:

“A memoir is a work of sustained narrative prose controlled by an idea of the self under obligation to lift from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver wisdom. Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events; it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened. For that the power of a writing imagination is required. As V.S. Pritchett once said of the genre, “It’s all in the art. You get no credit for living.”

- Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Things I Used to Do With My Belly

Ok, that's a weird title. But I'm realizing how many things I've used my belly for in the past, now that I can't. Here are a few:

Sleep on

Rely on core muscles to get up or sit down

Balance heavy things against to carry something

Lean against something to make it easier to open or close like a jar or box

Close the drawers under the counter in the kitchen

Not get in the way when opening the refrigerator door

Monday, April 1, 2013

Anniversaries on April 1st

Today, April 1st, is an emotional day for me; being pregnant doesn't help to moderate my emotions when I think about my great Aunt Dora passing in 2011. Perhaps strangely, today is also the anniversary of the first time my husband and I met in 2006. (And yes, it is also April Fool's day. The joke wasn't lost on us on our first date.)

At Storm King Mountain, June 2007 

There are studies that point to the fact that the pregnant mother shares her (hormonally-charged) emotions with her baby. When there are significant happenings - good and bad - I think about how I'm transferring my emotions to the baby. Of course, this transference will continue after pregnancy, once the baby can witness my husband and I facing various challenges and joys. 

I've been missing my great Aunt Dora while simultaneously feeling thrilled that my husband and I are expecting a baby this June, the same month she and I celebrate(d) birthdays. I wish she could be here to welcome the new arrival. My goal today is to allow myself to feel these emotions, not become overwhelmed, and to ultimately learn from them all. 

Sure, like most things, that's easier said than done. Luckily it is National Poetry Month and I'm reminded to turn towards poetry to help untangle our world. 

Aunt Dora and I (March 2008)