Sunday, June 29, 2014

wherein i eat my words, and they are delicious

You can already see where this is going.

So, I had a baby last week. And it was so incredibly different than the last one, that I have to give some background.

Even though I realized at the time that T's birth was somewhat traumatic and maybe unusual and definitely crazy, it wasn't until this past year that we really began to see all of the implications from it. I won't go into every detail, but I actually ended up being formally diagnosed with PTSD relatively recently. This made me feel silly and ashamed, because I've never been abused or assaulted -- I simply gave birth -- something that billions of women have done before. But the nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety were very real, and the thought of giving birth again felt out of the question. The decision to expand our family was based on our strong desire that T not be an only child, but it was made with fear and dread.

For the first six months of my pregnancy, I was a classic case of denial (despite the fact that it was a planned pregnancy). I didn't want to think about or plan for the baby, because that meant confronting the fact that I'd have to give birth again, and I simply couldn't go there. Because I'm such a believer in natural childbirth, I planned again to deliver naturally, but this time with the assistance of midwives (in a hospital) instead of a doctor since I wanted a completely different experience. At about 35 weeks, we discovered that the midwives were not fully covered by our insurance, which sent us looking for an alternative. This almost sent me over the edge, since I was already so nervous about birth. But my friend recommended her OB, Dr. Jan Rydfors, sang his praises over and over, and, despite the fact that he's ridiculously difficult to get into, his clinic agreed to take me.

You guys, there are not words to emphasize just how wonderful this doctor is. He has the most calming presence, sits and listens, asks questions like, "What can I do for you? What keeps you awake at 3 in the morning?", and is supportive of any type of birth. I thought my friends whose babies he had delivered must have been exaggerating about how wonderful he was -- doctors are simply too busy to be personable or compassionate or unrushed. But this doctor has the rare gift of making each patient feel as if she is his only concern. Which is exactly what I needed.

Fast forward to the week of my due date. My anxiety was mounting like it never had before. I don't mean to be dramatic, but just the act of visualizing the birth sent me into a panic attack. The idea of feeling the kind of loss of control I had with T's birth left me feeling powerless and afraid. Two of my sisters had been planning on flying in for the birth, and so I spent a long time talking with them and with Ty about my fears and options. I could tell everyone wanted to be very respectful of my birth plan, but finally one of my sisters gingerly suggested I consider an epidural. You guys. I don't know why it took me three years to give myself permission to even consider pain management, but for the first time, I did -- I just couldn't handle the anxiety anymore. I went in for my last doctor's appointment, two days after my due date, and told him that I was considering an epidural, but that I was still nervous about how fast my labor could potentially progress, given my own history and my family history. I told him I wanted as much control as possible, and, throughout the course of the conversation, suddenly found myself asking him if he would induce me. And just like that, in less than 24 hours, I went from planning a natural birth that literally sent me into anxiety attacks, to planning an induction with an epidural that left me feeling like we were planning a birthday party, complete with streamers and kazoos.

So, I had an induction. And an epidural. Two things that I spend quite a bit of time feeling pretty personally opposed to.

Let me be clear -- I don't think either thing is bad or dangerous in and of itself. I also fiercely believe that each woman should make informed decisions based on what is best for her, and never be made to feel guilty for those decisions. But I happen to live near a hospital where both of these interventions are used so routinely and sometimes inappropriately, and result so often in unnecessary c-sections, that I have felt the need to "fight the institution" in my own choices. Girls will go in who aren't even due yet, get induced with pitocin when their bodies are clearly not ready, spend however many hours laboring on their backs since they're hooked up to things that don't allow them to move freely, and then we all wonder why the baby doesn't respond appropriately, and we applaud the doctor for saving the day with a c-section! Ah!!

But I was already 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced when I went in for my appointment, and at this point, it was pretty much a psychological/psychiatric issue, and so I went against everything I had believed in (and I flicked the little Ina May Gaskin angel off my shoulder), and asked to be induced. And didn't look back.

Here it has taken me this entire time just to give you back story, and I haven't even gotten to the meat of it yet. Sheesh. Congrats if you're still with me.

5:45 AM, leaving our apartment
So Thursday morning, the 19th, Ty and I calmly walked into beautiful Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City. I wasn't in labor. I wasn't freaked out about not being able to make the 20 minute drive. I was calm and happy, and, really, for the first time in this pregnancy (or the last three years), I felt light and unafraid. They checked me in, and by 6:40, Dr. Rydfors had broken my water. Contractions started immediately, 10 minutes apart. At first I just sort of went with them, but then one of my sisters reminded me that there really was no reason to tough them out if I was planning on an epidural anyway, and my labor was clearly under way. That's right! I could have relief from these! Ah... so the anesthesiologist came in, I got the epidural (which was honestly no big deal at all), and settled into a comfortable position, mostly sitting up. I could still feel my feet and move my legs, but couldn't tell the slightest thing going on in my uterus. Awesome. My sisters would tell me when I was having a contraction and I'd sort of smile and shrug, as if I was cheating. It was wonderful, you guys.

We laughed! We chatted! I napped on and off, smiled a whole heck of a lot, marveled at how different this experience was from T's crazy birth, and spent a fair amount of time food fantasizing on Yelp about what I wanted my first post-birth meal to be (I chose an enormous sandwich). No one told me I couldn't eat, but I definitely didn't feel like eating during "labor" (can I even call it that??) because I threw up during T's birth, but ironically not during this one. Dr. Rydfors gave Ty his personal cell phone number and told him that if Ty thought he should come right now, or that the nurses weren't picking up on something, to call him right away. It tells you what kind of doctor he is that, when Ty wasn't calling because nothing was happening, Dr. Rydfors called him twice to check on me. I swear we almost named the baby after him. There's a very sacred place in my heart for this doctor.

The nurse checked me at 11:40, and I was at a 7. The doctor came right away -- like, immediately -- and I was complete and pushing about 10 minutes later. Apparently that is really how my body (and each of my sisters' bodies) does it -- fast and furious at the end. Except this time there was no panic, because there was no pain. Happy dance!

Let me give you some context. Here I am during the pushing phase of T's birth almost three years ago. And yes, the room was really that dark and dreary. Lovely, isn't it?


 And here I am during this one. Woo hoo! Am I doing this right? Can't feel a thing, guys!



So I "pushed" for about 20 minutes, but since there was actually a doctor attending this birth, he coached and instructed me when to slow down and prepared my body to prevent damage (which worked -- instead of the 40+ stitches I got last time, I got 1 or 2). I probably only pushed about 7-10 times. The doctor delivered the baby's head and shoulders then told me to reach down and grab him. I said, "Are you serious?" "Yes! Reach down and grab your baby!" So I delivered the rest of my beautiful baby boy and brought him up to my chest with an enormous sense of joy and relief. I couldn't believe it was over, just like that, and so easy. That huge rush that I was expecting with my "natural" birth last time? I got it this time. It was beautiful and surreal. 


Dr. Rydfors was completely calm throughout the entire thing, but after everything was over he said, "Wow. That was... really fast." After watching him deliver this baby so lovingly, my sister who has 9 children said to him, "You make me want to have a 10th!" You should have seen his face!

The hospital staff left us completely alone for several hours afterwards. I was able to nurse our boy, study his face, fall in love with him, and talk to him - all without anyone whisking him off for an unnecessarily urgent bath or weight check or vitamin K shot. They also respected our desire that he not have that nasty goop put in his eyes, since we are monogamous/don't have STDs. It wasn't until he was a few hours old that they came in and weighed him -- 7 lbs 9 oz and 20 inches long -- and did all their other duties. It was a beautiful, quiet time. 


My recovery this time around isn't even comparable to what it was 3 years ago. I'm writing this at 9 days out, and besides of course feeling fatigued because of night feedings, I feel almost completely healed. It took us a few days to name this little guy, and unfortunately, it's another T name, so he'll have to go by his middle initial, K, on the blog (if I ever get my act together and start blogging again!). We didn't set out to be "The T Family" or anything; it just happened. But we love love love his name. 

This precious boy is sweet and calm and beautiful. He looks a lot like his brother, but is definitely his own kid. T has taken to him so naturally, eagerly kissing him and wanting to hold him, becoming concerned when he cries, trying to offer the baby parts of his own breakfast. Becoming a family of four has of course been tiring and difficult at times, but the love we feel for these two beautiful boys entrusted to us seems to multiply by the hour. We feel so incredibly, undeservedly, beautifully blessed. 


Sunday, March 2, 2014

lately

Thanks for the congrats, commiseration, and consolation on my last post. About an hour after writing that post I came across this research article about how first born children have higher IQs and are generally more successful because they get so much extra attention from Mom and Dad (yes, even years after subsequent children have come), so of course that sent me spiraling into a mess of guilt. "Ty! Our other children will never go to college!" He assured me that most non-first children I know have turned out alright. I guess it's my pregnant duty to stress about ridiculous things.

Regardless! The past few months have been busy busy busy. Ty started Impossible Rotation #1 in January, followed quickly (and, we found out later, against-the-rulesly) by Impossible Rotation #2 in February. Apparently the person who put together his schedule didn't realize these two rotations are not supposed to go together. Did you think that nine years into his medical training things would be getting a little easier? Not so, apparently. These were by far the hardest two months we've had yet. The demands placed on him were, frankly, ridiculous. His weeks were 80 hours, often crossing into 90+, and he had the pager 24/6. It was not at all uncommon for him to go to work at 6:30, come home at 10 or 11 PM, then be paged at 2 AM and have to back into the hospital until 3 or 4. Then wake up the next day and do it all over again. For two straight months. And all while studying for the mock boards he took last week. Needless to say, it was great fun for the whole family.

Healthy or not, mine and T's response (at Ty's urging) was to fly the coop. I stocked the fridge full of meals for the inmate, and T and I spent a week with my sister in Las Vegas in January. The first few days were full of fun and food and more happy cousin time than T knew what to do with. Unfortunately, my nephew Daxton (who is a sweet and vivacious three year-old!) had a brain shunt malfunction while we were there, and had to have two major brain surgeries in the course of a few days. I was glad we were there to be able to help out in whatever small way we could, but it was so sad to see him go through that again, and to see my sister have to deal with the worry and sleeplessness that comes from living in the hospital.

Poor Kirsi had had about enough with T by day 2. He didn't get the hint.
Daxton had to have an external brain shunt for a few days while they tested out a different procedure. It didn't end up working, so they had to give him a new internal brain shunt on the opposite side. Neurosurgery is such a mystery to me.
We came home to California for a few weeks, assumed Ty still lived there since the granola was slowly disappearing, and then took off to Utah and Seattle in February. We stayed with my sister in Springville, where, again, T almost died from cousin joy overload. This kid loves his cousins, especially the teenagers. For reasons unrelated to my visit, my sister from Vegas and her family came up to Utah (with an almost fully-recovered Daxton!), so all of us girls were able to be together under one roof for a few days. There was way too much food, not nearly enough sleep, lots of Olympics cheering (T came in during ice skating once and said, "Let's watch football!"), and a lot of missing my folks. It was perfect. 

We got to have dinner with Ty's family while we were in Utah, where Missy and I compared bumps. She's due 6 weeks before me. Her baby will come out doing Jillian Michaels workouts. Mine will come out demanding Cafe Rio. 


My three sisters! It makes me sad that it's such a rarity for us four to be together at the same time. Each time it happens it's precious to me (and photobomb compliments of my nephew, Josh). 

We flew straight from Utah to Seattle. This trip was my Christmas present from Ty, who knows both how much I love Seattle and how much I love Tally (who we stayed with). We had the perfect balance of seeing the sights, having downtime with our little boys, eating amazing food, and watching more Olympics. We even got to sneak up to beautiful Bellingham to visit my old roommate and longtime friend Noelle and her sweet kiddos. Seattle graced us with some glorious weather and just enough rain to convince me that it does, indeed, rain there (each of the five previous times I had been, I had never seen so much as a cloud in the sky). What a wonderful week.

Each time I visit Seattle I come away more and more starry-eyed. Evenings like this certainly didn't help.

Traveling with a toddler is obviously never relaxing, especially when said toddler is too excited to sleep. He's too big for a pack n play (and can crawl out easily anyway), so he and I had to share a bed in both Vegas and Utah. This is something we've never done before and it sometimes took an hour or two for him to fall asleep at night, with me next to him making sure he didn't get up 100 times. He eventually got the hang of it, and although I'm glad he doesn't sleep with us, I have to admit it was pretty sweet when each night he'd want to fall asleep with our foreheads touching and holding hands. Gosh, I love this kid. And even though 5:30 is too early to be awake, I couldn't help but melt just a little bit when he'd roll over, get an excited look on his face and say, "Mama, I all done sleeping. Go play with cousins?"

All the fatigue must have caught up to him because he miraculously slept on the plane ride home. That, or he was only hours away from getting his first stomach flu (yay!). I'm just glad he waited till he was home instead of getting sick on the plane. I don't even really want to think about that.




Palo Alto sweetly greeted us with sunny blue skies, 70 degree weather, and enough blossoms to send me to the store in search of Cadbury eggs (I found some! And the first bag is gone!). What a glorious place we live in.


Thanks to everyone who hosted us, took time out of their lives to see us, and who made us feel so at home when we were so tired and emotionally spent after Ty's rotations and months of single parenting. I hope we stay put for a while since traveling is so exhausting, but we were so lucky to see so many wonderful friends and family members. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

hello!

I've accepted that this blog might just be turning into a once quarterly thing, but here's an update nonetheless!

You found out here last, but we're expecting! T is getting a baby brother come June, which means I'm about 24 weeks along. They'll be about 2 years and 9 months apart. We're definitely thrilled and had been hoping the timing would work out this way, but I'm learning just how different a second pregnancy is.

This pregnancy has been a bit rougher than T's. My nausea was a lot worse during the first trimester, and my sense of smell turned me into an intolerable German Shepherd. I could be in our bedroom and if Ty opened the fridge, I could smell it and would start gagging. They don't need dogs to sniff out drugs, they need pregnant women. Yikes. I've also been dealing with a really strange kind of pelvic/nerve pain for a couple of months, despite how early on I am. It's quite painful to walk and hold T and change positions, which means I spend most of my time either wincing while I go about my activities or sitting on the couch feeling like a sedentary cow. Fun!

I want this birth to be about as different as possible from T's. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I think I might have had some mild PTSD or something from his birth. I had dreams regularly, even when T was over a year old, that I was in a chaotic labor and I'd wake up sweating and breathing hard. The sight of babies almost repulsed me, and the thought of childbirth sent waves of chills and nausea through my body. I know that I can't control the speed of this labor, and that this seems to be how Warthen girls deliver in general (did I ever tell you about my sister who had a baby in an elevator? or the other one who had a 20 minute-long labor?). But I hopefully can control how supportive of an environment I deliver in, which is why we're going to a small community hospital in Los Gatos where midwives deliver. Doctors are fabulous at dealing with complicated issues, and they're skilled at showing up just in time to catch. But I need the skill and the watchful eye and the compassionate care of a midwife. So, we'll see how it goes.

I've also had what I know are typical but unfounded worries about what it will be like to have a second baby. I worry that I won't be able to love another child the way I love T. I worry that choosing to have a second child means that I'll have to neglect T and not be the mother to him (or the baby) that I need to be. I worry that he won't be as cute or as happy or as magnetic as T. I know that every parent with more than one child is probably nodding their heads saying, "I totally felt the same way! And then I held my second baby and watched my older child become a big sibling, and those fears melted away." And I'm sure that's true. But right now, I'm still in the worrying stage. I know when it comes time to tuck T into bed on his last night of being an only child, before we go off to the hospital and disrupt his world, I'll probably be pretty emotional!

Any advice? Consolation?

Monday, December 23, 2013

oh, hi!

Can't believe I've neglected this poor blog for so long. This is a new record for me. Kudos to anyone who has stuck around to see if I could possibly have anything interesting to say at this point.

The past few months have flown by with typical busy bustling and the constant wonder that is a developing toddler.

November came and went, and with it, my race in Virginia. My knee injury sadly ended up being too prohibitive to allow for the full marathon, so I downgraded to the half which left me only a little bit devastated (that might be an understatement). The first twelve miles of my race went fabulously, but right at mile 12, I got this sharp, stabbing pain in my knee that just felt all sorts of wrong, and I ended up limping the last mile (with kind, well-meaning spectators shouting, "You're almost there honey! Stay strong!"). It made me incredibly glad I didn't have another 14 miles to go. But the weekend was great, as we got to spend time with dear family and friends. Getting stranded in Detroit for an extra 24 hours (thanks, tornados!) was a bit of a downer, but T handled very well getting handed off between 5 of my friends who rallied that day to help.

We spent Thanksgiving here in Palo Alto, thanks to Ty's work schedule, shuttling between wonderful friends' homes who hosted us, and missing our families. We've now been in Palo Alto for 4.5 years and I have to admit that this past Thanksgiving is the most homesick I have ever been. We are also spending Christmas here, again, thanks to Ty's work schedule, and although we will again miss our families, we are incredibly grateful to not be traveling during December. This will be my first December in 10 years not flying/driving/stressing about getting somewhere. No blizzards through Donner Pass on the way to Utah, no long lines at the airport, no wrestling the toddler into a too-small pack and play. Just our little family in our little apartment, live tree and all.

Ty and I celebrated our sixth anniversary this past week. As if that didn't make us feel old enough, we went to dinner, then afterwards realized, "Hey! We've got a babysitter! Let's go to Target!" So off we went in our nice-ish clothes, perusing the toy aisle, embarrassingly thrilled to be playing Santa for our little boy. I've been warned before that Christmas gets increasingly magical when you have children, and that has proven true this year as T has started recognizing a surprising number of Christmas songs (and requesting them in his nightly lullaby lineup), jumping up and down at the sight of each Christmas tree, and understanding that the presence of a wrapped gift may just mean there's a surprise in store for him. He is still a little skeptical about Santa, though.


T's personality is just off the charts and he has us in stitches every day. His new thing is that when we suggest something he finds suitable he raises his chin as if looking down his nose approvingly and says, "Yyyyeah... that'd be great." The other morning, Ty went in to his room when he woke up for the day and T's response was, "Dad! You're home! Thank you so much!" He definitely throws his fair share of tantrums, and we're getting acquainted with time-outs, but he is such a happy child. He loves to laugh, he loves his little friends in nursery, and he is just generally a really good, kind boy. We feel immensely lucky. He is a delight. We must say to each other ten times a day, "He is the absolute best. Don't you just LOVE that boy?"

No guarantees about the frequency with which I'll update this thing anymore, as I sometimes feel that Facebook and Instagram have rendered blogging irrelevant, but I just wanted to send an echo-y hello out into the big wide web. I hope everyone has the merriest of Christmases. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

happy october!

I'm one of those obnoxious people that sops up all things pumpkin every fall. The lotion, the smoothies, the cream cheese, the ice cream, the bread -- anything with pumpkin in it (or, let's be honest, nutmeg and clove), I love. October is such a happy month. Every year I listen to my autumn mix through all of September and October and try and breathe in every minute of this short-lived season. Palo Alto has been gifting us with some wonderfully foggy mornings and temperate afternoons. Just chilly enough to pull on a hoodie, but not so much you have to go hunting for that one pair of shoes with which you can wear socks. I'm also on my second quart of egg nog.

T is in a particularly wonderful season of his own, and I just had to share some of his antics. Two years old absolutely has to be the best age. He talks enough that we get what he's saying, but is still little enough to say nonsensical and adorable things. He'll ask for a graham cracker, and after receiving it will hold it high in the air away from Ody and say, "Don't even think about it!" Don't ask me how he learned to say this. He has started requesting certain songs to be sung to him throughout the day and before he goes to sleep. It always surprises me when he asks for one that he hasn't heard in weeks, or when he starts "singing" a line in the middle of the song. Sometimes he'll wax particularly musical and sing a descant of Happy Birthday over our singing of I Love to See the Temple (his current favorite). He knows an unusual amount of animals for so little a person (think narwhal, hedgehog, barracuda, snowy egret...), can gleefully and proudly count to ten, and can identify the letters L, T, X, Q, and Z. I'm not sure what's so compelling about those five, but he loves spotting them everywhere.

The days are long and tiring and I find myself inventing errands so that we can be doing something until the exact moment that Ty gets home to relieve me for a minute. This child never stops moving, inquiring, expressing, climbing. His energy is relentless, but so is his enthusiasm, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's amazing how we'll race race race in the evenings to get him fed, bathed, changed, and into bed, then we'll breathe a huge sigh of relief that we've been given the energy to make it through another day with this boy. Then ironically, 30 seconds later, we're aching to go pick him up again and tell him just one more time how wonderful he is and how much we love him. We feel like some pretty phenomenally lucky parents. He is beautiful and bright, and a gift.


A running update for you: I of course had to go and injure myself. I have an IT band injury, which is very lame and a bit debilitating, but I'm working with a physical therapist to keep myself as much on track as possible. My marathon will definitely be slower than I want it to be (did I mention I'm doing a marathon in a few weeks? No? Well, I am.), but I'm determined to do it, even if it's ugly. Tonight as I sit in front of my computer finishing off a pint of [you guessed it] pumpkin ice cream, I'm not feeling so hopeful that it will be enjoyable. But despite the setback, I have trained long and hard to run well. So, we'll see how it goes. Positive vibes are appreciated!

Monday, September 30, 2013

workin' girl

I realized the other day that I've never actually written about my job on the blog. This is probably because a 2-4 hour per week commitment can hardly be called a job, but it's still something I've been doing for a little over a year.

I got an email about a year and a half ago from a guy in our ward who works in the Psychiatry Department at Stanford. He said that one of his coworkers was going to be running an NIH-funded study on insomnia in pregnancy and needed nurses for it, preferably ones who were passable in Spanish. The time commitment was minimal and the experience looked interesting, so I applied and was hired.

Most pregnant women think that insomnia is just part of the deal, so they don't go out looking for a sleep therapist. And obviously sleep disturbances during pregnancy are expected. There are always going to be wakings caused by heartburn, discomfort, the baby kicking, frequent bathroom trips, etc. The problem, though, is when a woman gets up to go to the bathroom at 2 AM and it takes her three hours to fall back to sleep. Or when a woman lies down to go to bed, and can't shut off her brain for two hours. That's not normal or healthy. Our study is aimed at figuring out a few things:

-If nurses are trained to administer therapy to pregnant insomniacs, would more pregnant women seek help? Nurses are pretty conveniently located for pregnant women to have access to, unlike a sleep therapist who has to be sought out.
-What kind of therapy is most effective for pregnant women?

Since I am a nurse therapist in this study and not actually running the study, I have to be blinded to some of the other aspects of the study. I don't even know what the other treatment type is, and I'm not allowed to talk about the kind of treatment I administer, especially with others involved in the study. But the training that I have gone through and the therapy that I give is fascinating to me, and seeing changes in our patients is very rewarding. It's also the best of both worlds to have my toe in nursing and to spend a few hours a week feeling like a competent adult who is using her hard-earned degree, while getting to be a stay-at-home-mom 99% of the time.

We have one conference call a week (which I take from home) where our training is tweaked and honed, and then I will often have one session with a patient a week. This ends up only being a couple of hours at the hospital. I'm able to do child swaps with some friends, so it works out well with T.

Since the hours are so few, this job isn't a big moneymaker, but the experience I'm getting is fabulous, and working at Stanford is an honor. Not to mention, I've learned things that most certainly would have helped with my [absolutely horrible] sleep issues when I was pregnant with T, that will hopefully be beneficial in the future.


Friday, September 20, 2013

t turns two

Oh this poor neglected blog. I really have the best of intentions to keep it updated. Almost every time I go running, I start writing blog posts in my head that I can't wait to get home and type out. But something else, like watching Pride and Prejudice for the 9th time this month, or sitting down with a good book (or, truthfully, a NAP), always wins out.

To be honest, Instagram > Blogging for quite a while now. I love the microupdates of Instagram, and that you can still feel meaningfully connected with people throughout the day without the hassle of sitting down, writing, editing, rewriting, and publishing a blog post. So, if you're not already following me over there, feel free to. It's mostly... photos of my boy.

My boy! The one who turned two last week! The one who got a crazy sad tummy bug the day before his birthday! We spent the entire week cuddling and watching Sesame Street and... doing lots of laundry. So it was mostly a nice week of rest for me, even though sweet T didn't feel good. Luckily we could put off that whole birthday thing for a week and he was none the wiser. But his... symptoms... combined with not eating basically at all the entire week meant he lost a lot of weight. As in, his shorts which have fit him perfectly for the past 6 months were literally falling down around his ankles. And he weighed exactly as much at his 2 year old appointment as he did at 18 months, which is a whopping 4 pounds more than he weighed at 12 months. Awesome. You can go ahead and imagine the eye roll I was giving the doctor in my head when she started lecturing me. Because, you know, I have a super skinny kid totally on purpose.




But! The bug went away, he was up and running around and feeling better the following week. I learned my lesson about having big parties last year, and we kept it super simple this year. I made a lemon blueberry cake, we sang (he sang to himself, which just about killed me), Ty brought home some balloons, and, well, that was that. It was great.



Some things to know about my boy at age 2:
-The talking just gets more frequent and more hilarious every day. The other day he said to me, clear as day, "I want more butter on my waffle," (he also loves butter on everything which means... we get along great). But he also still babbles a lot and strings together words that are hilarious and nonsensical. My favorite is when he starts a sentence with, "Actually..."
-He loves to climb, run, jump, explore, touch. So, basically, he's two.
-Eating is a completely superfluous activity at this point. He's just not interested in consuming food. The boy who used to eat anything and everything is long gone, and has been replaced with a child who is basically subsisting on the amoebas he absorbs from the air. Because I sincerely don't know where he gets the calories to keep up with his activity level.
-He LOVES to laugh. He gets in moods where the slightest thing will set him off into a good, deep belly laugh, and he'll love it so much that he'll keep producing fake laughter long after the fact.
-Tantrum-wise, he went from having a short fuse to having no fuse basically overnight. There are lots and lots of Class A tantrums around here. We keep people in the grocery stores entertained.
-He knows a handful of Portuguese and Spanish words and phrases, and when something sets him off, he switches into Latin Mode (much like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story III). He'll start blurting out every foreign word he knows with gusto. It really is a sight to behold.
-He's not very affectionate, but for whatever reason, he will still put his head on my shoulder and let me rock him before naps and bedtime. Sometimes he'll drift all the way to sleep while I sing, other times he'll just cuddle till he's heard enough songs. It's so out of character with how he acts the rest of the day, but I soak up these quiet moments.

Basically he is the greatest thing that's happened to us, and we can't get enough of him.

Happy Second Birthday, little man.
_________________________________________

Birth here, first birthday here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

run, becca, run!

Calling me a "runner" has always been a bit of a stretch. I've run a handful of 5Ks here and there, we've been faithful participants in the Moonlight Run for the past three years, and I've sometimes attempted to make running a habit, mostly in fits and starts. But my style of running could mostly have been described as, "Girl sets out on 2 mile run. Spends entire first mile justifying stopping after one mile. Girl continues on to 1.2 miles. Pats self on back. Goes home and makes self a milkshake."

So, not crazily athletic or anything.

But something clicked about five months ago. I'm still not quite sure what it was. One day in March, I loaded up T in his running stroller, and we ran a slow and awkward 2.5 miles around our neighborhood. It felt good enough to do it again a couple days later, and then a couple days after that. Somehow those first plodding miles turned into a consistent habit of about 20-30 miles a week. Instead of setting a goal and falling short due to rationalization, I have found myself running sometimes 2 or 3 miles beyond what I set out to do. This is obviously balanced out with cross-training and a lot of stretching so that I don't blow my knees to bits, but it's a habit that feels good instead of onerous. T is generally happy to be in the stroller, usually Eggo or board book in hand, and I have a playlist that's working well for me. I'll sometimes get home from a run, breathing hard and heart racing, almost shaking my head, wondering why it feels so great to run. Have I lost my mind?

When I hit 8 miles and was dying to do more, I figured I might have to set my eyes on a half marathon. I couldn't find one at just the right time before we left for Brazil, so I ended up just running my own 13 mile loop through Stanford campus the day before we left. It was exhilarating (see above: Have I lost my mind?), and I couldn't wait to do it again, but with the added adrenaline of an actual race.

Feeling great after my first half marathon
Thanks to an exercise room with a treadmill in my parents' apartment complex, and kind parents willing to watch my little boy for sometimes close to 1.5 hours so that I could run, I was able to continue training in Brazil. One of my weeks there I logged 6 runs, including one on the beach (which I had never done before but highly recommend). It obviously took a bit of getting used to being back on pavement and pushing a stroller once we got back to Palo Alto (I feel like treadmill running is almost like cheating since the ground is literally being pulled out from under you), but it only took about a week and a half to really feel back on my game.

Two weekends ago I was able to run my first "official" half marathon in San Leandro (in the East Bay). Tyler had moonlighted (worked overnight) the night before, but he was extremely supportive anyway and so T and I just swung by the hospital to pick him up on our way to the race. As embarrassing and nerdy as it is to admit this, I got pretty emotional at the start of the race. I was so happy to be among those people, pushing my body, and feeling alive. In the past month and a half, I've gotten faster and stronger, and I was able to run these 13 miles a full twenty minutes faster than I had in June. I felt amazing at the end of the race, and I've got my eye on several more races this fall.

Fuzzy race photo. Putting the racers' names on the bibs is genius. Oh, and remember how my name is actually Rebecca? Yeah, sometimes I forget too. 

Crossing the finish line. You can see a scrubs-clad Ty holding T off to the right.





Tuesday, July 30, 2013

light packer

On the list of boring things to feel passionate about, this is probably somewhere near the top. Nevertheless, I can talk about the wonders and benefits of efficient packing for a long time. This started out as an aversion to checking bags since the Philadelphia airport always seemed to lose my checked luggage, and has now transitioned to a need to carry as few items as possible since a certain toddler has monopolized at least one of my arms at all times.

When people find out that I take a surprisingly small bags on trips, they often comment on how impressed they are that I can manage to fit everything I need, but how they never could. Not so, my friends. I am not a strange subspecies of human who has vastly different needs from you (unless taking 12 pairs of shoes on a trip is a 'need,' in which case, we may be quite different). So here are some tips for packing light:

-Most people you will be visiting will have hygiene similar to yours, meaning they will have shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, shaving cream, lotion, and hair products. Most hotels have these items too, and even if they're not the best quality, they will work fine for a few days. I almost never travel with these items (yes, even when I had 18 more inches of hair), simply because they take up too much space. I've been surprised to have people come visit us who bring a FULL size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash -- like, do you really expect me not to have those items in my shower?

-Don't be afraid to do laundry on vacation. I only took 5 pair of underclothes, 3 sets of running clothes, 2 pair of jeans, 2 Sunday outfits, 6 t-shirts, 1 sweatshirt and 1 cardigan for a month-long trip. I had to do laundry relatively frequently (mostly for the running clothes), but it was worth it to not be hauling around an enormous bag full of sweaters and printed pants. It may be obvious to you that my main goal on this trip was not to look super fab and stylish.

-Be very intentional about the types of shoes you take. One of my college roommates did an entire international trip with only one pair of shoes - Chacos. If I hadn't had my running shoes with me, all of the shoes I took to Brazil would have easily fit in one small shoebox.

-For traveling with kids, this was by far the most helpful thing I read. I think parents are sometimes tempted to bring a circus tent full of entertaining objects to make sure their child never gets bored, but being bogged down by stuff is always a bad idea. T is always more interested in playing with the tray table or window shades than he is with his toys from home anyway, so there's no way I'm going to lug his giant plastic horse onto a plane.

-I know this seems obvious, but be meticulous in how you fold your clothing. Be conscientious of what can possibly be collapsed/stuffed random places (i.e. I fit all of my running socks, a slip, and baby Tylenol into my running shoes).


These four small bags were what T and I comfortably lived out of for a month (the luggage tag? Shameless sucking up in hopes they'll be nicer to my bag). The black and white toile bag can be stacked on top of the floral bag, which can be pulled. The orange satchel (which I've had since I was 16 and has traveled internationally with me five times) goes across my body, the back pack on my back, leaving one free arm to push a stroller. So much easier than hauling T's entire nursery to South America, and standing paralyzed in the middle of several airports looking desperate for help.

Any tricks you have for packing light? Does anyone else share my obsession?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

wherein I [really do] try to be concise

Well hello! Remember me? I used to write on this blog with some frequency and then I apparently fell off the face of the earth for a while*. Well, I'm back. And lucky you, I'm gonna tell you all about my trip to visit my folks, in as few words as possible (but too many photos).

*(Does anyone read blogs anymore now that Reader is gone? My Feedly deleted all my subscribed blogs, so now I think everyone is as unconnected and in the dark as I am.)

It's worth mentioning that my biggest fear on this trip was how T was going to do on the plane and how he was going to sleep once we got to Brazil, especially since he was going to be sleeping in a portable crib and long ago learned how short of a fall it is out of one. There were definitely some hard times (like when he overcompensated by two time zones and was waking up at least 2 hours before the sun every day), but overall, I have to admit, the kid did amazing. I was so impressed by how adaptable he was. And my goodness, seeing a stamp in his little passport made my heart flutter.

Baby swing Brazilian style

We flew from San Francisco to Atlanta to Rio de Janeiro to Porto Alegre. The whole thing took just over 24 hours. Being back in Brazil, smelling the air, hearing the Portuguese and seeing my folks at the airport was obviously a huge rush of awesome. We went back to their apartment for a while where we showered and napped, then to the church for a party that I will never forget. My parents' friends from church and the temple decided to throw our family a Festa Junina party. There were about a hundred people there, lots of food, lots of dancing, and soooo much beautiful Portuguese. It was about as close to heaven as it gets for me.


My dad was my square dancing partner. :) 
Porto Alegre is a lot like San Francisco -- a city on the water, full of rolling hills, with early morning fog that burns off by afternoon (though there were many clear, killer sunrises that my son made sure we were awake to see!). Most of our time was spent in Porto Alegre, visiting the temple, going out to eat, having get togethers with new friends, but we were also able to do some traveling around the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina (the two southernmost states of Brazil). We drove to Gramado, a funny little German town with an almost Alpine/Park City feel to it (keep in mind we were also there in the middle of the Brazilian winter). The architecture is very European, fondue restaurants are all the rage, and people were walking around in boots and scarves. But... speaking Portuguese. So weird.
My parents in front of their dear Porto Alegre
Where my parents spend their time -- the Porto Alegre Temple.
Sunday afternoon hammock swinging
A long and mighty struggle to achieve the Stroller Nap in Gramado
 
I'm sorry that we were wearing sweatshirts while you were all sweltering through a heat wave
Ty had to leave just as our Gramado trip was ending, but the following week, my parents, T and I drove up to Florianópolis (aka Floripa), a gorgeous island about a 6 hour drive from Porto Alegre. There was some hassle during our drive since Brazil is in the throws of nation-wide protests, but the delays weren't too bad and T was patient and happy. Floripa greatly exceeded our expectations; it was almost dream-like. We visited a large lagoon that looked straight out of a movie, and the beach that our hotel backed up to was beautiful and clean. I've never felt sand so soft. It was literally like flour. T would throw a handful of it and it would sort of disappear before any would hit the ground, like fairy dust. I brought a bottle home for Ty, dumped it out in a bowl, and made him run his fingers through it. We were sad to leave.



In a spontaneous change of plans, my mom decided to come home with me. I was obviously relieved to not have to make the trip back alone with T, and she thought it would be fun to surprise my sisters by showing up and throwing a party for a few days. We changed our flight from San Francisco to Salt Lake (two of my sisters live in Utah, and one, who drove up for the visit, lives in Las Vegas). I have to admit to feeling devastatingly disappointed when we arrived in Atlanta. There was no grand ol' American flag welcoming us home, and every single airport employee we met during our 2.5 hour layover there was almost abusively demeaning. We left Atlanta disheartened that this was many people's first impression of our beloved United States of America.

Our four days in Utah were so dreamy (the surprise on my sisters was pulled off hilariously and without a hitch). One nephew is on a mission in New Jersey, another is working in California, my dad was still in Brazil, and Ty was back in Palo Alto, but everyone else was there. There were kids in spades. T was in heaven with all his cousins. Even now, after we've been home for weeks, he still recites some of their names, followed by a, "Please?" They ran around in the summer sun and sprinklers, jumped on the trampoline, played with toys and balls and cars in the basement, and watched movies. There was always an older cousin watching after T and being so incredibly sweet and kind with him. Having my mom there and catching up with my sisters was beyond fun. On our first day we sat down and planned out how each day would look, purely based on which restaurants we knew we had to hit up. I love this about my family.

Magical summertime days



The youngest boys of all four Warthen girls, happily bonding over cars and trucks
Stripped down baby playing in City Creek fountains who wailed uncontrollably for close to half an hour (sopping wet) when forced to leave

Probably due to an enormous amount of sleep debt due to playing too hard with cousins, T readjusted to the time difference in basically one day, causing me to sing jubilant Hallelujahs! for days. This was a huge fear of mine, that I'd be up with a wide awake toddler at 1:00 AM for a week. Not so. Happy mama.

While I was in Utah, I was reminded of the ongoing summer recordings of the BYU Singers Alumni Hymn Project each Wednesday night. As luck would have it, I was able to attend and record at one of these sessions. You guys --- heaven. I've described singing with Singers before like swimming with a school of fish; it's so fluid and natural to sing with people who are so perceptive and responsive. It was a privilege to be involved with such a great project, even for just one session.



Coming back to Palo Alto was wonderful. We were gone just a few days shy of a month, so it was really time to be home. Palo Alto feels more like home than any place I've ever lived, and within a few hours of our arrival, we were back at our beloved farmer's market, eating shave ice and peach samples. Ty and T (and I!) could not have been giddier to see each other again.

Each time I've had to leave Brazil I've cried -- so much of my heart belongs there. On July 1, we celebrated our 20 year anniversary of moving there as a family. I wrote this on my Instagram/Facebook:

Twenty years ago today, my family moved to São Paulo and I quickly began to fall in love 
with Brazil's people, language, culture, food, nature, and music. At an impressionable 
age, I witnessed real, crippling poverty, but learned the invaluable lesson that happiness 
has nothing to do with money. I cried hard when we left three years later, and besides 
one visit 8 years ago, have longed for it ever since. Spending this twentieth anniversary 
in this beautiful country full of big brown eyes and unparalleled enthusiasm is 
unspeakably special to me. Thank you Brazil for changing my life over 
and over again.