Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Little Treasures

So many things that Willow does just kill me, and they are only fleeting. I love the way she sits on the bed when she wakes up and waits for me, rubbing her eyes, her whole face really, and making this little buzzing sound. It is adorable and impossible to adequately describe, and something I'll probably never get a video of. I'm always thinking "I'd like to get a video of that...", and most times I do but obviously in the middle of the night when she wakes up and needs to be put back down is not a good time for recording. She is very intent and focussed on her games and ideas, and is starting to have Daddy and Mommy do things... she likes to have Mommy put on Daddy's hat, and she loves to have either of us drink water from our water bottles. This is a new one that just started today with Daddy. She may take a sip herself or not, but the main activity is handing the bottle to one of us and having us drink from it. And earlier today as I was vacuuming the floor, I picked up some of her alphabet blocks and put them in their box to move them out of the way, and she was very annoyed. Apparently she had taken them out of the box and did not want them put back! She is also starting to make games out of doing things she is not supposed to... taking diapers out of their box, for instance, when we say "no" she will wait until we're not looking and then reach for them, looking right at us to see if we say anything. Very interesting, and terrifying. She is going to have me jumping through a lot of hoops, I can tell. Today for the first time she handed me a book to read to her. That was very fun and wonderful, and we read it three or four times before she wanted to move on to something else. Ahh, the repetition is only beginning...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Schools continued and more

As I've thought about it more I am realizing that it will become obvious as Willow gets older what her needs are as far as education. I suppose right now my task is to help her learn and experiment, and when the time comes we'll look at schools. Brent and I spoke about schools and he said something about language immersion that made a lot of sense to me, and I think hit on why the whole idea doesn't really resonate with me. He said that a language immersion program puts a huge emphasis on one thing, being language. I agree with that. And that is why I think I balked, it seems like such a great idea but then which language would I want to emphasize to that degree? Brent said it makes more sense if we traveled abroad more, but other than that why emphasize it that much, especially so early. And, it seems most of the language immersion preschools (that I hear about, I haven't done any of my own research) are French. Which is fine, but really, French? How practical is that? Spanish or Chinese make a lot more sense... even Hindi makes more sense than French. That's all I have to say on that topic right now.

I feel horrible to admit this, but Willow has been driving me crazy the past few days. She is teething, her 4 front teeth are coming in, so I must be empathetic but my god. Everything is a major drama, where usually she might protest a bit if I won't let her play with the object of the moment (sharp knife, box of tissues, a book I may not want destroyed), lately she just full on cries. This is something I'm not used to and is not fitting in with my plan. It is definitely not gelling with the mood I've been in lately anyway, which has been rather dark and I am not feeling very appreciative of the oncoming winter. I am not feeling much in a "being" place, which the gray days invite, instead I've been finding myself fighting that. So I've been feeling grumpy, and the babe is teething waking up more than usual at night, in addition to walking more and more so she is not interested in things like eating and sleeping, which makes her grumpy also. Not a good pairing lately. I've been remembering babysitting and all the times I wondered why parents would be so impatient with their children, having that sort of dismissive snap to their voice, and now I know... it just gets old sometimes. Old in a way that cannot be known by anyone but a parent or someone who has cared for children day after day after day, full time. The constant desire to have everything except the approved toys, the continual demands, irrespective of my own needs like going to the toilet or having a meal. Old old old, it is feeling today. And yet I must remember how short this time is, Willow has already changed so much in this first year, gone from a newborn who couldn't even roll over or communicate except for crying to a walking, babbling, pointing little girl who loves her cat and her dog and communicates with sign language and little grunts and attempts at words. She loves to hug her animals and her baby dolls, and hates having her diaper changed. She tried to take off her shirt today at dinner and ended up with one arm in the shirt and one out, eating that way without a care. She loves avocados and bananas, and lately has not been liking tofu which she usually does, but she also loves canned beans. And someday soon she'll be talking and walking without falling, and she'll no longer be a baby. That time is so near... and though I don't know whether I'll miss the demands and whines and cries, I know I'll miss the babbling and shrieking and sweet little noises that will inevitably give way to talking.

As I close, I must mention the savior this week as I've been in my dark mood. The Daddy, Brent, has been so wonderful and spent a lot of time around home with us, which has been very nice. He's taking a bit of a break from writing since he's finished his book, and it has been really sweet to watch Willow bond with him even more. She really has fun with her Daddy and they have special games they play together that I don't do. He is also very good at helping her settle down and go back to sleep when I've had my fill in the middle of the night. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband, and Willow is a very lucky little girl to have such a daddy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Schools

Now that Willow is one year, and we've had such a wonderful day today on her birthday, I have to find something to worry about. I am thinking about schooling. I loved school up until about 8th grade, when I began to go to "traditional" schools. Up until then I had been in "open" schools, which was interdisciplinary and did not involve moving from class to class every hour, instead we usually had one or two teachers for most of the day. One of my favorite memories is of making American Indian villages in 5th grade. We each were assigned to groups and had to research all the aspects of a particular tribe, and make a model village based on our research. It was really fun and involved all the senses, which I think is really important in education.

As I begin to look ahead to being a parent of a child in school, I balk both at the horrible schools out there and at the huge array of choices. Language immersion schools are popping up all over, even at the preschool level. I love the idea, but then I wonder if it's too much. And when they're so young, how do you know what they're getting out of the school? We go to a co-op preschool now, through the community colleges here in Seattle, and it's a wonderful program. I love the teachers and the teaching philosophy, which closely mirrors my own parenting philosophy. Willow seems to have a great time playing, and seems to be getting a lot out of the experience. But I'm already beginning to wonder what happens in kindergarten. There are so many schools to choose from, and so many that are crappy. To be continued...

Meadow at Camp Long

A Thank You Note

Continuing the theme of gratitude, I am thinking of all the friends and family members who have been there for us over the years and I feel so grateful. We had a beautiful baby shower last summer thrown by two close friends. So many people came and brought wonderful gifts for the baby. Over my pregnancy we received several handmade blankets, handmade hats and a handmade set by my aunt of booties, a bonnet, a sweater, and a blanket. We got so many clothes, books, and toys, both new and handed down that we didn't have to buy anything for about the first six months, except for diapers. We had meals brought to us for weeks while we rested with our new baby. Friends came to help us clean and spend time with Willow so that we could sleep. Two friends who live nearby have opened their home to my parents when they visit, and brought us meals every Sunday for about 2 months. Both grandmothers came to visit after Daddy went back to work, and helped with chores and made meals while I cared for Willow. Brent waited on me and Willow hand and foot the first two weeks, doing laundry, cooking, and walking the dog. Neighborhood friends from where I grew up gathered to celebrate Willow's birth, and friends of my mother's held a shower as well.

I remain in awe of the generosity and love that surrounds each of us. Thank you.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Prelude to a thank you note

This entry spans three days, October 20, 21, and 22, 2007.

As I write this, daughter Willow and husband Brent are sleeping soundly, at 11:33 pm on the eve of Willow's first birthday party. This blog has been up for months, formatted beautifully by Brent with my style choices, and this is my first official entry.

I am filled with gratitude for my life as it is and the wonderful people in it. Last year, a few days from today, Willow Laurann Curtis was born. When I was told I had to go to the hospital for her birth, I was terrified. I don't like hospitals and had planned a home birth to be attended by a naturopathic doctor and midwife, my husband, and a few close friends. Instead my blood pressure rose and we had to go in to get my labor moving and protect me and the baby. As it turned out, our head nurse that night had done her residency at the Farm in Tennessee, a commune where women had their babies at home under the supervision of a country doctor. Our personal nurse was in midwifery school, and was given pretty much free reign to care for us her way. She was in the room the entire time, administering petocin and magnesium but otherwise allowing me and my loved ones to help bring Willow into the world ourselves. Willow's vitals were good and other than my blood pressure I was fine, so I was given monitors that strapped to my body so I could remain mobile and use the birthing tub as I wished. My husband and friends kept me on track and kept the doctors honest, helping me make the moment to moment decisions as things unfolded.

At one point a resident, who was our primary doctor at the hospital, suggested that perhaps "kiddo" may be too big to come through the birth canal and wanted to put a monitor inside me that would connect to Willow's head and actually measure the force of the contractions. By that point I was ready to do anything, but I heard "cesarean" in the sub-text of what she said. Also, my gut reaction when she said the baby would perhaps not fit through the birth canal was "bullshit". Anyway, I nodded my head at the doctor, but the nurse who had been with us the entire time standing behind the doctor and insistently shaking her head. At that point my friends told me to let the doctor know I would need to think about it, which I did. After the doctor left, our nurse told us that if I had that type of monitor on I would no longer be mobile. She also said that it looked to her as if my labor was progressing, since my cervix had dialated about 3 centimeters in a few hours. As far as I was concerned not being mobile was a deal breaker and thus I declined the intervention. Even at that time I could see the dominoes falling toward a c-section, and am so grateful I had a well informed nurse and friends who had the capacity to help me make decisions in a time when all I could focus on was the sensation that my entire torso was on fire. When the nurse told the doctor of my decision, she also told her she thought the labor was progressing well and that it was an unnecessary intervention. The doctor checked with her superior, another resident, who actually agreed with the nurse... and the doctor, incredibly, apologized to the nurse in front of us for her eagerness to intervene.

The hours of that night went on, and on, and on... and finally, sometime after day break, Willow's head appeared. Of course I thought at the time that she would be right on her way in moments, but from the time her head appeared until she was born was at least 45 minutes, maybe longer. That was the longest moment for me, as I was exhausted by that point and still a little fearful of more intervention. Someone held up a mirror for me to look at her head, and my god I almost broke down. It was the grossest thing I've ever seen, and looked like an open brain emerging from between my legs. I remembered something about that in my childbirth education class, and everyone in the room assured me that was how she should look, but when it happens in the moment it is really shocking.

I kept waiting for the urge to push I had been told about in our childbirth class, but I never actually got that... I never did want to push, my instinct was to simply relax and allow Willow to come out. I felt an incredible heaviness after she crowned and was really moving down the birth canal, as if I were expelling a bowling ball, but that only made me want to relax more, not push. But push I did... as I was instructed by the doctors and less so the nurse, though I know she was anxious for Willow to be born... the whole staff was at that point, as their shift had ended at 7 am and they had been with us all night, and they really wanted to see her. I pushed as hard as I could, and that was excruciating. Not painfully so, but absolutely my last bit of energy was going out. Then, finally, I felt something like my legs cracking apart, not in a painful way at all but I could feel my hip joints release as if each side of my lower body could be set on either side of the room, and then a sensation like a wiggly fish thrashing between my legs, slippery and very wiggly, and Willow entered the world.