Monday, December 21, 2009

Maternal Instinct Starts Early

This conversation took place this evening after I told Zoe that I was going to put Paige to bed and she wanted me to stay with her.

Zoe: Can Daddy can put Paige to bed?

Me: No, I have to put her to bed.

Zoe: Why?

Me: Because Daddy can't make Mommy Milk. Only girls can make Mommy Milk.

Zoe: Do I have Mommy Milk?

Me: Not right now. When you become an adult you can choose to have a baby and then you'll have Mommy Milk.

Zoe: When my eggs go down into my feet.

Me: hmmmm

Zoe: But I want a baby NOW.

Me: Your body's not ready to have a baby yet. Maybe Paige can be your baby for now.

Zoe: No! I want my OWN baby!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I received a letter letting me know that my private health insurance premium will be increasing by $50 per month for no other reason than the health insurance company isn't making enough money. This is the 4th time this year that either my or Skip's policy's monthly premium has increased.

This is my shitty high deductible plan that doesn't cover pre-existing conditions and has paid ZERO of my medical expenses EVER.

Tell me again why I'm paying for this?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paige’s Birth Story – Turn and Face the Strange

The Thursday before Paige was born I went to see my midwife Michele for my 38 week check up. I was ready for Paige to be here and hoping that she would say that Paige was on the way. Scottie, Michele’s apprentice, checked me and I was only 1 cm dialated, about 60% effaced and Paige was still high in my pelvis (about +3). Michele told me not to get my hopes up that she would be born before my 39 week check up. I was disappointed but thought I’d try to prove the prediction wrong.

After the appointment I quickened the pace of my walks around the block and concentrating on doing squats throughout the day. Something must have worked. On Sunday, Paige had dropped very low. I felt like she was going to fall out. It hurt to stand, to sit, to walk. I couldn’t wait for her to be born.

Monday was a normal day. I didn’t do much because I was feeling very pregnant and achy. Zoe didn’t take her nap, but desperately needed one, so I took her for a ride to the store with the hope that she would fall asleep before we got there. Once we got in the car I decided to drive around for awhile to give her a chance to fall asleep. I started having contractions, which I thought were Braxton-Hicks. For about the past month or two I’d been having BH contractions that would happen on and off for hours.

I wove around the UT campus area for about 30 minutes before giving up on the nap, when I noticed that the contractions were happening regularly. I started timing them about 6 minutes apart. Zoe and I stopped by the pet store and picked up some food for the kitties then headed home. By the time we got home the contractions were 5 minutes apart. The odd thing was that the contractions weren’t that painful – they were annoying – similar to menstrual cramps.

I told Skip that I thought that I might be in labor. His response was that we were out of bottled water and wanted to go to the grocery store to get some more. For those of you who know Skip you’ll see the humor in that. I persuaded him to hold off on going to the store until we talked to Michele and figured out if I was in labor.

Scottie came over to the house to check to see if things were in motion. I was 2cm dialated and confirmed that Paige had dropped very low and was sitting about 2” from the exit, so to speak.

I was in early labor, which was very strange to me. I didn’t experience early labor with Zoe. With her, my water broke, went into active labor and Zoe was born a little over 3 hours later.

We called everyone to let them know that I was in labor. Things were moving slowly. Skip went out to get me some dinner and bottled water. Zoe went over to her friend Darlene’s house for the night. My friend De’Andrea came over to be apart of the birth. She teaches the Bradley Method of natural childbirth and offered her support during the birth. It felt like we were having a party. We were all sitting around the living room talking and eating cookies.

When Michele got to the house I was still at 2cm but the contractions were coming closer together and getting stronger. The party atmosphere was fading as I had to concentrate harder with each contraction. Michele told me that she didn’t think that Paige would be born that night and suggested that I get as much sleep as I could so that I’d have plenty of energy for the birth. She told me to send everyone home, take a Benadryl (which slows down contractions), take a bath and drink some wine. Scottie and Michele left and De’Andrea went out to get a bottle of wine. I took a Benadryl and sat in the bath. But I couldn’t relax because I couldn’t get comfortable during the contractions.

I only drank about 3 sips of the wine. The contractions were becoming more intense and I was beginning to feel drowsy from the Benadryl, so I went to lie down to do the Bradley relaxation stuff. When De’Andrea left the contractions were about 3 minutes apart.

I had planned on using the Bradley Method of relaxation during labor. I read all the books and thought I knew enough techniques to get me through the pain. It was very easy to keep my body relaxed in the early stages of labor. I was able to manage the contractions laying down for awhile but I found that lying down was making me very tense, so I got up to move around. I couldn’t find a comfortable position to labor in and got into the shower.

The contractions were getting more intense so Skip called Michele and Scottie to tell them to come back to the house. He left a message for De’Andrea to come back also. Scottie arrived at the house around 11pm. I was in active labor at this point, and had given up on relaxing my way through the contractions. At this point I went back to the only thing that helped me during my labor with Zoe – moaning and screaming. I learned the power of vocalizing when I was taking a pre-natal yoga class when I was pregnant with Zoe. The instructor had us in an uncomfortable pose and asked us to vocalize when we got to the point were we felt we needed to move. I was amazed to find that I could hold the pose as long as I was groaning. In labor, unlike most of the rest of the time, I have no problem expressing myself at high volume.

Scottie was great, very warm and helpful. She suggested some positions for labor, the “dancing” thing and sitting on the birth ball, but I ended up back in the shower. I got into a rhythm. Between contractions I stood so that the hot water hit my belly, then when the contractions started I would lean forward and rest my head on Skip and let the water hit my lower back. I labored like this until it was time to push. Skip was great and talked me through each contraction with encouraging words.

With both of my labors towards the end I felt like I was outside of time, at least the linear way in which most of us perceive it. I’m not sure how long I was in the shower, probably about 45 minutes or an hour based on the time she was born.

I pushed on a birthing stool that Michele had set up at the foot of the bed. After the first push Michele said that the baby was coming now and she wanted me to get on the bed but things were moving too fast for me to get up there. While I was pushing Michele was talking to me, but I didn’t really hear what she was saying until she said “Nikki, you’re a teapot. Close your mouth.” I came back to the present moment and thought why is this woman calling me a teapot? Aha! As soon as I closed my mouth Paige crowned. Just then my phone started ringing. Paige was serenaded into the world by David Bowie singing “Changes” via the ringtone on my cell phone. Skip caught Paige on her way out.
Turn and face the strange
Don't want to be a richer man
We couldn’t have planned it that perfectly. It was De’Andrea calling. She had just got Skip’s message to come to the house but wasn’t sure when he left the message so was calling to see how things were going. Thanks De’Andrea.

Paige was born at 12:27am on April 7th. This time I didn’t tear during delivery (Michele and Scottie – you rock!!) Paige had some bruising on her face from being smooched against my tail bone, poor thing, but was otherwise perfectly healthy weighing in at 6#5 and 19” long. She started nursing with gusto almost immediately after being born and then took a snooze. I felt amazing and didn’t sleep at all.

Skip was a great coach and even remembered some of the things he read in the Bradly books. Thanks, sweetie.

The next morning, Zoe was so excited to meet her new baby sister.

Welcome to the world, baby girl.

Monday, October 12, 2009


This evening while we were cooking dinner Zoe randomly says to me, "Mommy, I'm nocturnal". Then she added, "you're nocturnal, too."

Well that certainly explains a lot. All these 15+ years I've been dealing with insomnia, I've had it all wrong. I'm not an insomniac, it's just that I need to be sleeping during the day. My mistake.

Today I've been thinking about mistakes. Being over analytical and self critical I tend to focus a good amount of energy going over mistakes that I've made. From an intellectual point of view I understand that no one is perfect and that making mistakes is what it is to be human, but I've had a difficult time applying that kind of leniency to myself. Something clicked today. Lately, I've been reading books on positive/gentle disciple and one common thread is to allow your kids to make mistakes without shaming them for it because it's part of the learning process.

It's also a major component in the creative process. Without mistakes how can we create new ideas, art, concepts, paradigms, inventions, anything?

Zoe, Paige and I were on our way to the fabric store to get some fabric for Zoe's Halloween costume; she's going to be a Monster Catcher. I decided to see if I could discover a way from point A to point B with just a general sense of where I was going. The fabric store is located just north of where two major freeways intersect so the roads are all screwy in that area. It took us about 20 turn-arounds but we finally made it there. Zoe thought it was great fun to see me making some many wrong turns, and it really was fun. My mental map of Austin has expanded.

I'm on a mission to take the "bad" out of mistakes, and keep life playful.

Picture of the amazing vegetable biryani we made tonight

Thursday, October 08, 2009

This week in Zoe

Zoe: I'm scared. Turn off the dark.


Me: What are you doing?
Zoe: Sitting on an egg.
Me: hmmm
Zoe: It's a baby Zoe.


Zoe was very disappointed to realize that her beloved Daddy is a boy. Zoe is not keen on boys.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Christmas In August

We all stopped by Hobby Lobby this afternoon to get some craft paints, and I wanted to take a look at the fabric (got this crazy idea that I want to start a new sewing project :)

We walked around the store a bit to cool off since it was 100+ outside, and we found the Christmas section of the store. It was crazy. There must have been at least 20 aisles of Christmas ornaments, trees, wreathes, etc. I'm not a big Christmas person, but it was a nice escape. It reminded me that there will be a time when we can play outside again without getting zonked by the heat.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flying Solo - Day 1

This morning the whole gang got up and left for the airport at 5:30am. Skip is in NYC this weekend to audition for a reality show for artists, which leaves me only with the girls for 3 day and 3 nights.

It started out as a bad day. Paige vomited all over herself and the car seat on the way to the airport. I think she might have gagged herself. At least the little one isn't sick. I thought that they would both take a nap when we got home a little after 6am, but I was wrong. Zoe was a bit out of sorts since she'd only had 7 hours of sleep. Thank God for preschool. I told her it was a preschool day and she was happy, happy. Paige also had a couple of massive poos.

The day got better. Zoe had a great time at preschool despite the lack of sleep. We even went to the bookstore afterwards because she was in a great mood. When we came home Zoe took a nap, which doesn't happen that often anymore. Paige's nap even overlapped so that I had an hour to myself. Crazy. I spent most of that time talking on the phone with Bubbie.

We picked up some Chinese food for dinner and some friends came over to play afterwards.

Bedtime is always the most difficult part of the day for me when Skip's not here. I started trying to get Paige down at 7:15pm. I started trying to get Zoe down at 8:30pm. We all ended up in Zoe's twin bed with everyone asleep (expect me) at 9:30pm. Paige woke up when I moved her. Overall it was a pretty good day. Zoe even rubbed Paige's head while she was nursing to comfort her to sleep.

I'm exhausted for getting up so early. I was up late with Skip getting everything ready for today and Paige still wakes me up many times at night. My plan was to go to bed by 10pm. So why am I up blogging instead of sleeping?

I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed when I saw a giant cockroach on one of the bath towels. There are very few bugs that freak me out and this is one of them. I'm just impressed that I didn't completely loose it and run screaming from the room and wake everyone up. My plan was a catch it in a cup and take it outside, which is what we do with the bugs we find in the house. But the MFer was too big to fit in the cup! I ended up taking the towel outside and shaking him off. Yuck!@

So now I'm still on this adrenaline rush. I'm hoping writing it will get it out of my system.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sad Flower

Today after preschool Zoe, Paige and I made a Target run to get some craft supplies for tomorrow. We'll be stuck in the house all day while Skip has the car picking up art from Dallas.

I park the car next to the cart corral in the Target parking lot (very important to park close to the cart return when you have two kids in tow). Zoe looks at the carts and makes some pretend "boo-hoo" noises.

As I unbuckle her car seat belt I ask her about it. She tells me the flower on her flower print pants is sad and crying. Why is it sad? It wants to ride in the red shopping cart. I put Zoe in the cart and the flower is happy and laughing.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You've got a what in your freezer?!

When I was in high school I had a very good friend named Matt. In fact, he was my best friend when I was a junior and senior in high school. But when we first met we were dating.

One night we were having a date night at his house. We were watching a movie. I got hungry and he told me that there was probably something to eat in the freezer. As I looked around the freezer for a pizza I saw something that I couldn't identify in a zip lock bag.

Me: What's in the zip lock bag?
Matt: Oh, that's my sister's placenta.

At 16 I had no idea what a placenta was. Matt had to explain it to me, which he did very well (his mom is a childbirth educator). Once I understood what it was I was completely freaked out. I couldn't comprehend why anyone could possibly have a placenta in their freezer. He told me that his mom was waiting until they moved into the house they were going to stay in forever and then she planned to bury it under a tree. Completely freaked me out. Every time I went over to his house and saw the kitchen all I could think of was "Oh, my God! There's a placenta in the freezer!"

This morning I open my own freezer to see if we have any soy patties and I moved Paige's placenta out of the way to see if the box is behind it. It seemed perfectly natural.

What I difference 15 years can make. At 16 I never thought I'd have kids or be married. Matt died about 3 years ago. We hadn't spoken since 1997. Our relationship didn't end well.

I haven't thought about that night in a long time. I miss you Matt. I wish you were still here even if our lives never crossed again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yard Sale!

Last week while we were in Dallas for Skip's art reception we spent the night with our good friend Angie. He home is awesome! Forgetting the fact that she worked as an interior designer before her little boy arrived, her house is a warm, beautiful place. Staying there inspired me to decorate our house and ask myself why I haven't done much to date. When we got home I realized it's because we have too much stuff, so I'm having a yard sale on Friday. I'm posting it here to keep myself honest. I've never done a yard sale before so I'm not sure what I'm getting myself into. My mind is busy trying to figure out the best way to display 3 trash bags of baby clothes and how to get all the nicknacks up off the ground so that people will be more likely to pick them up. No clue.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Look Mommy, A Giant!

Some quotes from Zoe:

To me as we were standing in line at Wheatsville and pointing directly at the 6'6" 300+ lb man standing next to us "Look Mommy, a giant!" She repeated herself until I responded that yes, he was a very tall man. I wish I had had a camera to capture the look on her face when she realized that giants actually exist.

To her butt as she was leaning forward on the potty trying to poop "Work with me poopy!" To hear one of my parenting phrases used in such a way makes this even funnier to me.

To Daddy as they were coloring with markers "Draw some more crazy stuff."

To Sophie (our new kitten) as we were telling her goodnight "Make some good poopies and some good naps and we'll see you happy in the morning."

Zoe has recently grasped that things and people can have more than one name. She must have been working on this through her mind for awhile. For weeks the first thing she would say to me when she woke up was "What's your name?" I would tell her that my name is Mommy. After a week or so she followed it with "What's your other name?" I would say Nikki and that would be the end of the conversation. I have to admit that I did get freaked out a couple of times when I went to her in the middle of the night (Because she was calling for me) and I walk into her room, she sits up in bed and says "What is your name?" Those couple of times it felt like a "who are you?" type of question even though I don't think it was. So now Zoe's got it. She'll ask me my name, I'll tell her Nikki and she'll respond "I call you Mommy". She uses it in other areas as well. We were reading a book and they use the word sofa. Zoe says "I call it a couch".
Fish "I call it a fishy"
Alicia "I call her Doo-licia" (Don't ask me why)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Family Life

Right now is one of those rare moments when I have time to write. Zoe is napping and Skip took Paige out shopping.

These past couple of months have been a blur. Paige is finally starting to sleep more at night. Last night slept from 11pm to 4am! Then she didn't wake up until 6:30am. Ahh... it was so nice. But something about getting sleep after a long stretch of being sleep deprived makes me feel more tired. How does that work? Maybe my body remembers what it feels like to sleep for more than an hour at a time and it wants revenge.

I've felt very groggy today which contributed to me hitting a car in the parking lot when I picked Zoe up from preschool. Doh! Thankfully, the damage was very minor. Our car took some paint off the other car and there's a 2" scratch on our bumper. The lady was very nice. I gave her my information and told her to contact me when she decided what she wanted to do. I'm hoping that she won't file a claim.

Yeah... this week was Zoe's first week of preschool. She did a super amazing job. I'm blown away with how well she did. When I came to pick her up today she didn't want to leave. She painted another picture and played with Playdoh before she decided it was time to go home. She's going to school 9am-1pm Wed, Thurs, and Fri. Wednesday was her first day. Her teacher Meredith said that she was fine most of the day and only asked for me a couple of times, but when I came to pick her up she had an emotional meltdown. I think it was just so much to take in. Thursday was pretty much the same. She was fine all morning and when I came to pick her up she was crying because her friend hurt her feelings by yelling at her. She's asked me a couple of times to play with her at preschool instead of leaving. I think she's loving her time there. It's just a big adjustment from spending all day with me.

Paige isn't crying as much. We're down to a couple of hours of crying a day. What a relief. The colicky baby is turning into a smiley baby. I have to say that if there is one word that describes Paige it's alert. It kind of freaks me out sometimes. She studies me and everything around her with great intensity. I can't imagine what must be going on in her 2 month old brain.

I'm feeling very blessed to have two amazing girls.

Skip is going to Dallas on Sunday to deliver artwork for a solo show at Northlake Collage. It's going to be the first time that I'm alone with the girls all day without a car. It's also the first bedtime without Skip. We still don't have a good bedtime strategy. Both the girls keep each other awake even when they're in two separate rooms with closed doors and sound machines going. I feed a tired Paige, who isn't asleep because Zoe is running around making noise, and hand her off to Skip. Then I lay down with Zoe, who has a hard time falling asleep because she can hear Paige screaming in the other room. If I wait until Paige is asleep to put Zoe to bed then Zoe is overtired and it takes forever. I can only hope that at some point they will stop keeping each other awake. I'd like for them to share a room as soon as Paige is old enough. I'm not sure how this is going to work on Sunday. I keep telling myself that everyone has to fall asleep eventually, right?

Zoe is going to be up any minute now so I should hit post before life gets crazy again.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sleep... I miss you!

I got 2 hours of sleep last night. I can honestly say that I understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture. How I'm still functioning is beyond me. It must be part of the mommy superpowers. Here's what went down.

9:30pm - Both girls are asleep. Before going to bed I listen to my vm and return a couple of calls, check my email, finish us some stuff for my job, do a load of laundry, clean up the dinner plates and talk to Skip for 5 minutes.

11pm- I'm in bed ready to sleep, but it takes me awhile to unwind as usual. It takes a bit longer tonight because Skip and I are going back and forth about what precautions we should take to avoid the swine flu.

around midnight - I had just fallen asleep when Paige woke up wanting some mommy milk.

1am - back to bed, but having trouble falling asleep again... probably fell asleep around 1:45am

1:55am - Paige is crying and wakes up Zoe.

3am - Paige is feed, comfortable and not crying. Zoe is still awake and asking for me. I lay down with her, but she's wide awake.

4am - Zoe finally goes back to sleep. Paige is up again and ready for more mommy milk.

5am - Paige is asleep. I crash into bed and get an hour of sleep!

6am - Paige is crying. I wake up feeling refreshed from the hour of sleep - how sad is that.

6:30am - Paige has fallen back asleep. I go back to bed and get another hour of sleep.

7:30am - Paige is up. She's not hungry, she's got a clean diaper, but still very unhappy.

8:30am - Zoe wakes up (Paige is still awake) and my day begins on 2 hours of sleep.

This can't happen twice, right? I'm going to have a snack and try to get some sleep. Goodnight.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Catching Up

It's been way too long since my last post. Here's a picture from last week. I'm 37 weeks pregnant and very happy that this little one will be full term when she joins us on the outside.

I'm getting to the point in the pregnancy where I have very little energy and everything seems to take a huge amount of effort, especially things like getting up from lying down or getting up off the floor.

As you can see I'm posting this at 2am. My insomnia is back, but I think I can blame the pregnancy. At least that's what I'm telling myself. My mind isn't on hyper overdrive and my body is relaxed for the most part, I'm just not able to fall asleep.

It doesn't help that I had a dream on Friday night that my water broke. Nothing like waking up in the middle of the night and not sure if you're in labor or not.

I'm looking forward to her birth. If all goes well, she'll be born at home. It's going to be a completely different birth than Zoe's birth at the hospital. I'm hoping that this time the birth will be more peaceful and empowering.

A couple of people have been asking if we need anything. Here's a link to our wishlist. We have most of the big stuff, but could really use diapers and wipes. Also, if anyone has a badass ring sling or other infant carrier that they could recommend, that would be great. I'm thinking I'll need to try some on after she's born.

I've completed a couple of knitting projects that I need to post.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Bring on the tiny needles

I've been having some pregnancy-related pains in my hips and shoulders lately that were getting to the point that it hurt to do everything, so last Friday I went in for some acupuncture. It was awesome! I went to AOMA student clinic, which just a couple of minutes from our house where you can get an hour session for only $30. I've had acupuncture done about 4 years ago for insomnia and allergies, but never for muscular pain.

Afterward the pain in my shoulders was completely gone, the pain in my hips was barely noticeable and I had more energy than I've had in a long time. I felt great. When I got home I must have overdone it playing with Zoe and baking and cooking and cleaning and everything else. By the end of the night my ankles were swollen from standing and I crashed around 10pm.

It's Saturday night and my shoulders are still feeling great. My hips are OK, but I'll probably need to go back in. They said I should come in once a week. If only I could go every day.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Copy Cat

I came across some photos of a mural I painted about 10 years ago in Deep Ellum (in downtown Dallas). I did I piece called Copy Cat. You can see the photos here and here.

Since these pictures were taken the tunnel was torn down to make room for a train station. For those of you not familiar with Dallas, this was a landmark that was near and dear to everyone who hung out in Deep Ellum.

There are some other photos of my piece as well as Skip's in the Flickr Good Latimer Tunnel Murals pool.