Wednesday, April 11, 2018

People see what they see

Sammi looks so much like her sister did as a baby that I sometimes call her by the wrong name.

It's sort of funny though, how people see what they want to see.  My parents are gaga over her and visit about once a month from NYC.

"She's beautiful, and looks like you," said my Mom.

"Well, you know that really isn't possible," I had to remind her.  Also, this baby is a strawberry blond cherub, something I am decidedly not.  She has giant blue-gray eyes, although her sister did too, until around 6 months old.

"I don't know, you carried her for nine months, you had to influence something in there.  She's pretty, like you."

Okay Mom, if you insist.  Really I am just a vessel for my husband's babies, and I'm completely on board with that.  They're cute as hell.

Niblet's dance abilities are starting to really become apparent, and I say this not as her mom, but as a former ballet teacher.  She's taking three ballet classes a week (kind of a heavy load for a nine year old).  One of them is with older kids, it's called a "push" class that's only offered to one or two kids who are ready to be challenged.

Sure, I had some dance talent.  My Mom did too.  But where did the nature end and the nurture begin?  Without my exposing her to dance (she was into soccer until she saw me take a class one day), without my driving her to classes downtown every other day, without my ability to afford to pay for her instruction, and without her ability to do well in school and get her homework done (our pact), it would all be sort of moot.  The same held true for my parents and me, by the way.   Is something wired in our DNA?  Or were a myriad of environmental factors at play?  Or both?

We'll never know, will we.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


So I've mentioned before that Niblet named her sister.

We had a list we put together of names we could all live with, if not agree upon.  Viking and I were keen on one, Susannah.  My great-grandmother was Suzanne (French), and we thought we had lots of nicknames to play with.

"But she doesn't look like a Susannah," said Niblet in the hospital.  "She looks fun and cool.  I think she looks like a Samantha."

Viking and I looked at each other.  She was a sort of spunky looking baby.

Hmmm.  This wasn't on our list.  I always liked the name and knew some cool girl Sams.  But I also associated it with too many TV shows, especially 80's soap operas (Sammy Jo from Dynasty, Sammy from Days of Our Lives - both favorites of my grandmother Celine - came to mind).

The white board in our hospital room had a blank space where Nutmeg's name should be.  We wrote out Samantha.  "I think it looks sort of clean and aerodynamic," Viking said.

I pulled out my phone and googled the etymology of the name.  In Hebrew it roughly translates to "God Heard."

Her name is Samantha.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


When I'm roused up by cries at 3am and looking at Viking, sleeping cozily and soundly (on a new plush mattress, may I add), I am actually cursing him and his worthless nipples.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Therapy and Relief

So let me note how amazing it is to be 6 weeks postpartum and NOT be a weepy, depressed mess.

We were steeling ourselves for the worst.  Colic.  Crying (both me and the baby).  Sure this baby can show off her lungs, and no I am not sleeping at all in case anyone is wondering, but we're pretty well-adjusted for a household that is functioning on a lot of take out food with the mother who is literally getting 3-4 hours a night, TOPS.

I mentioned before, my slight anxiety as to how to unpack all of this baby's origin story to Niblet, and god bless my therapist for getting me to a good place about it all.  I don't have to.  It's not her story.  She'll learn it in time, but not before we unfold it for her sister.

We plan to discuss Nutmeg's origins with her early, and often.  There are some decent kids books on the topic, and we want her to be comfortable with the knowledge about her DNA.  (Niblet may read these books to her as a means of opening the discussion).  But we also want her to be matter of fact about it - in other words, we want it to be a non-issue.  I never want her in therapy years from now, describing the day that mom dropped the hammer on her and blew up her world by sharing insane information about genetics.

On other fronts, I am now cleared for exercise.  THANK GOD.  I've lost about 2/3 of the weight I gained in pregnancy, but man I am just so fluffy.  I hope that spring actually arrives so I can strap this baby on me and take many many walks up the steep hills in my neighborhood.  If this child can ever be torn from my considerable bosom and the virtual geyser of milk it contains, Imma take a ballet class soon.

So what's it like, mothering a baby from a different gene pool?  As it happens, it's EXACTLY like mothering a baby from your own gene pool.  Exhausting.  Fun.  A dream come true.  This baby is so stinking cute.  Which helps after the 3am feed, when it's 4am, and she's not going to sleep at all, she's staring up at me smiling goddammit, and I'm all "it's a good thing you're so stinking cute baby, because it's 4 am right now and I could absolutely keel over."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

when your life is surreal

I am pretty lucky to be one of those people who can survive on very little sleep.  When people were all "But justonemore, those sleepless nights!" I kind of tuned them out.

Don't get me wrong.  It's a SLOG, especially if you're breastfeeding.  Nutmeg is still eating every 2-3 hours, though she'll give me an occasional 3 hour stretch of sleep at night.  But aside from a few one off nights of discomfort, she doesn't appear to be the colicky disaster her sister was  - and I say this out of love and utter sympathy for my first daughter, who Just. Couldn't. Cope.

Nutmeg is particularly cuddly, also a change for me.  In the million years of infertility after Niblet was born, I never imagined holding a snuggly baby who would enjoy burrowing into me the way Nutmeg does.  Niblet had to be swaddled within an inch of her life (we called it the "angry swaddle" in our house), and in constant motion.  Nutmeg thoroughly enjoys being worn, or rocked in a swing, but is really just a ball of chill.  With big soulful eyes and multiple chins.

Her resemblance to her dad and sister is pretty striking.  Sometimes I will look down at her and notice her nose - the one feature she carries that is very clearly not of either of our gene pools - and wonder if she will dwell on it when she's older (it's lovely for the record).  But most of the time I just can't believe we made it here.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Settling in to a new life

Sometimes it doesn't feel real.  Sometimes I get really stupid thoughts in my head, like, did we really get here?  Was my IVF cheating the universe?  How did we get so lucky?

There are two children in my house, and they are sisters, nine years apart.  They look strikingly similar, if I were inclined to breach my kids' anonymity and show side by side baby pictures of the two of them you would catch your breath.... though the moments where Nutmeg looks like her donor do occasionally hit me.  Not in a punch in the gut way, not at all, more in a scientific observation sort of "ahhh, look at her mouth.... and there's that expression that doesn't look quite familiar to my or Viking's gene pool" sort of way.  I know that babies tend to evolve (Niblet started taking on some of my features when she got older), but I also feel comfortable that few will ever even question her genetic origins.  There, I admitted it.  Third-party reproduction can be a minefield of emotions and inadvertent intrusions, and I absolutely breathed a sigh of relief when she came out looking so much like her father - and in turn, her sister.  I've already started talking to her in quiet moments about her origin story, as practice really.  I want it to be matter of fact.  I want her to always have known, as opposed to having a memory of the big day where her mother revealed something outrageous. Honestly,  the bigger issue I still need to work through in my own mind is when and how we reveal this origin story to Niblet. Since Niblet is the designated "reader" to her sister, we may approach it through a book....

But she's two weeks old, I don't have to have all of the answers right now.

A C-Section recovery is a bitch.  I have dodged a PPD bullet, I think, but I have definitely experienced moments of anxiety that I know for sure are related to my not being able to exercise.  I mean, I'm walking ok.  But the incision still feels like an incision, and I am constantly panicked that I am going to lapse into a dance move (as I tend to do without thinking) and somehow re-open it.  But I've been off the opioid painkillers for almost a week, so that's something I suppose.

I can't even begin to describe how amazing Niblet has been these past two weeks.  She's just into it.  She confided in me that she was sort of baffled and disappointed in her friends, who never really talk about this momentous thing with her.  She is the ultimate mother's helper, grabbing all kinds of things when we need them, she's all in on this adventure.  Thank God.

It also helps that the universe granted us a relatively easy baby.  We are treading carefully around this around Niblet, because man, she was HARD and we don't want to give her a complex about it... but the colic, oh my god, it was three months of hell, for all of us.  Nutmeg is pretty fucking easy-going in comparison.  Her nighttime cries can be muffled with white noise machines blasting in both girls' bedrooms, and she's something of a night owl to begin with (she was in utero as well).  We're nursing fairly easily, which also means she eats every 2-3 hours, which means I get roughly 2-3 hours of sleep - total - a day.  Unfortunately, I'm not good at napping during the day.  (Case in point, I am sitting here typing this when I should be asleep). So I get 2-3 hours of cumulative sleep at night, in between her feeds. 

I'm piling on the moisturizer and eye cream, because I started out old as fuck, and have no intention of looking like this baby's grandmother anytime soon.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Labor Day - Part III

She never would have made it past my cervix.

The rush of the scrubs being put on my head. The assurances by the medical team that I wasn't actually a failure myself for not being able to push this baby out ("Maybe she's more than 8 pounds?").  Watching Viking pull scrubs on and being wheeled around the corner of the hospital on a gurney.  Asking "so what the hell I am supposed to do now that I need to KEEP Pushing?"  These are the hazy dreamlike visions I have of these moments.

And then I am in the operating theater.  And the sucky anesthesiologist on whom I have to fight a keen distrust is back, and I am suddenly panicked that she won't numb me properly and I will be sliced open and feel every gruesome second of it.  "I still feel you," I keep saying, and she keeps responding "You won't feel a thing, I promise."

They proceed.  And I feel tugging and pulling, but not actual pain.  And I hear my doctor say, "Oh wow, look, her head is completely tilted backwards, she was never going to make it through the cervix,"

And I suppose they pull her out and eventually hand her over to someone because I hear a cry. The most beautiful sound in the world.  Then I hear a stronger cry.  She's out.  She's actually out.

"Six pounds, ten ounces.  Wow, your girl has a ton of hair!"

She wasn't big at all.  She's in the same range as Niblet was.

And I am being sewn and stitched up and suddenly I am freezing.  Like ice cold, and shaking and this is the anesthesia actually working.  And YES, I want more warm blankets, my teeth are actually fucking chattering, and yes, please, I want to see her.  Viking carries her over next to my side and I don't have my glasses on so I can't see much, but I see her eyebrows. Or at least, her brow muscles, because she is blond. They are furrowed in a way that is entirely familiar to me. 

As with her sister, nine years ago, there is absolutely no question as to paternity with my daughter.

She looks exactly like her father.