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Postpartum, Day 6.5

Family/Life, Pregnancy/BirthTabatha HansenComment

Yesterday was the first day in a long, long while stills from my adolescence resurfaced.

It’s likely because I no longer reject the identity of parent, yet the identity of kid doesn’t seem that far off. A half of my lifetime ago. I met my wife at the beginning of adulthood, just as I was saying goodbye to recklessness and half-patched relationships. Before I knew her name, I said to her, “I can look at you,” in the middle of Satellite Coffee, her waiting for a hot chai. I was still attached to my best friend, Steven, I was in a reheated relationship, I texted strangers and I envisioned myself becoming an artist. An art artist, mixed media. A writer. A songwriter. An actor. A creator. I was a mess and I wanted to stay a mess. My wife was still a student and I considered her my equal. We stayed up through the night. Her and my grandma had the same little green car. She knew my counter was a broken bookshelf turned sideways and my car was bumblebee yellow and I knew I would love her the first time I saw her.

The moon during our last labor in 2014

The moon during our last labor in 2014

Felix was born at 7:14 AM last Tuesday. This time around, we played Pandemic. Iris slept until the very end of labor. Christina stared into my eyes again. Iris kissed my forehead. They caught him as I pushed holding onto one of the most familiar comforts of my life: the side of the bathtub. He was born en caul; his amniotic sac never broke and he said hello to the outside of my body still inside of his personal ocean.

We are moms with two kids.

One of them is sleeping sidecar next to our bed, three pairs of socks on to not get cold. The tiny one is wearing a Mumford and Sons t-shirt I cut and sewed into a nightgown. He smells like rotting flesh, his umbilical cord still hanging on and I can smell it through layers of blankets like I can smell the blood coming out of my body. The last time I wrote about birth, I wrote that I felt high for the week after.

I’m still in that week. It’s almost midnight and the tiny kid projectile pooped in the middle of a diaper change, after peeing in the middle of the same diaper change. Iris rolled around on the floor laughing and declared Christina should have been up to experience the poop rocket with us. Come next week, I might be miserable, but this week we learned that cleaning a small squishy penis is way more difficult than labia and I’m just fine with it.

Today, I said, “If the argument is about cleanliness, getting rid of the testicles seems way more clean than getting rid of the foreskin.” Today, I also said, “Soon, that umbilical cord is going to fall off and get lost behind his balls.”

Iris and I baked parmesan buttermilk biscuits today. Felix and I napped three hours today. Iris and I made black bean sweet potato soup today. I wondered where that person is today, the one who wanted to create and not just clothes for kids. It’s April 1st, mine and Christina’s 10th anniversary. One out of three days of my life have been spent with her. What are the things I wanted to do that I still haven’t done? What haven’t I created? What do I still care to create? Do I care about writing, or would I rather read others’? How has my predilection towards self-sabotage shifted my path? Do I care to get back on it? What makes my heart thwap outside of my humans?

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It’s Day 6.5.

My heart thwaps from the mess of charcoal.

Crispy paper.

Sauteeing onions.

Pouring moka pot coffee into warm milk.

Miranda July writing about literally anything.

Remember that I Love You, full album.

The soundtrack to Juno.

My heroes make my heart thwap.

The end of my teenage years.

The last ten years.

Goodbyes.

The shorts I regret not getting.

The shorts I regret not getting.

2nd Pregnancy+Birth Plan (ish)

Family/Life, Pregnancy/BirthTabatha HansenComment

We are in week 32 of pregnancy. Third trimester.

Being a parent, for me anyway, is a little like being buzzed. A saturated version of myself. The best parts get a little better, the worst parts a little worse.

I’ve had this kid for the last six months, and she’s become one of my best friends. She’s short, only a couple feet tall. Her fuzzy head snuggles me at night. I wake up to her face squished up to mine. Sometimes I wake up to her eating my chin. Christina once woke up to a hickey.

I’m thinking about making another tiny thing. Maybe with the next one I won’t smell what people ate the day before.
— Me, the last time I had a kid

I told myself this pregnancy, I would document my experience more thoroughly than my last pregnancy. I haven’t, though. I haven’t documented anything thus far, and I’m in the last two months. When Iris was living in my body, I typed notes every few days from the pos pregnancy test up until 13 weeks. Here’s what I remember.

To begin, the most distinguishable parts of this experience, ones that differentiated this kid gestation from the last one:

  • I thought I might be pregnant because I had a severe booger condition that was not accompanied by actual illness. Constant runny nose. Additionally, my regular PMS-feels weren’t present, like sore boobsies and some chin pimplies. I can't remember whether or not I felt waves of cramps happening, or any cramping happening, which sucks because I know during Iris’ pregnancy I had cramps for weeks and I wish I had something to reflect on so I don’t have to go onto message boards in desperation at two in the morning next time around.

  • I peed on a stick at 13DPO. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was feeling like my period was coming and spent time googling, “early pregnancy symptoms vs period symptoms.”

  • I used an app on my phone instead of tracking on paper, and I noticed a two day temp drop the month I got pregnant. Post O, my temp climbed for almost a week and then fell. It was .5 degrees lower for two days in a row, then spiked up.

  • We got pregnant on I think the 11th IUI. We skipped a couple of months over the course of 14 cycles. There were a few suspected miscarriages where my period showed up about a week late, but I didn’t want to test for most of our IUI-ing because I didn’t want to get addicted to peeing on sticks. In the end, we pushed up our IUI date to Day 17 from Day 16. Next time around will need to chart temps during this point in time better. The pee sticks were positive from Day 14-16. Need to consider OPK+BBT in conjunction next time to hopefully not spend an entire damn year+ trying.

  • My morning sickness was fucking awful this time around, not necessarily because I was really nauseous, but because I was drowning in boogers. I am still drowning in boogers. I threw up last week. The post-nasal drip, allergic-to-my-fetus thing is fucking disgusting and I didn’t have this with Iris. There were days I threw up multiple times a day. I have had to pull into the median to open the car door to throw up. This person inside of me is giving me severe drippy feelings aghhhh. Iris, I threw up a couple of times when I was really hungry and overexerted myself. This person.

  • On the same subject, I didn’t have the magical nose for the length of time I did with Iris. With her, Nob Hill smelled like a giant bag of fermenting farts until after I had her. With this person, I had a few weeks of debilitating olfactory powers, and then it dissipated. My ability to eat all things came back around week 13, but it was pretty terrible for about a month from week 9 on.

  • No aversions, no cravings for the last several months. Also, noticeably, no breakouts. Maybe my body is just much healthier. Maybe there is a person with a penis living in my body. Who knows.

  • My biggest whine is over my hips. I have had hip pain for much longer this time than last time, but no digestive issues. Would rather take my body feeling like it was going to fall through my legs than feel like my food would spill out my face if I lied down, so it’s fine.

  • This person feels less cute in my body than Iris did. Iris lied across my belly for most of my pregnancy, so I could basically hold her from the outside while she was in me. D’art’s placenta is anterior, so I felt their earliest movements weeks later than I felt Iris’. They also have been hanging out in my crotch this whole pregnancy, just poking at my cervix or kicking my ribs always. From the outside, they just aren’t visible in the way Iris was because of that snack pack. As I type this, they are wiggling their arms around my cervix. I have found myself having to roll around a lot more to get them to move out of my crotch and ribs a lot more.

What happens now?

I hang out for a couple months until I have the kid, I guess. I made a checklist a couple months ago that I need to review, and I have MORE checklists from our midwife. I don’t like the permanence of making daily plans in a book, but I do like the feeling of a checklist. Checkliiiiiiiiiiiist. We are planning for my partner’s mom to be here as close to the birth/during/after as possible, because my partner wants her own mom around this time. My mom was present for our last birth. After Iris’ birth with both my mom and sister, I thought it would be better for the whole naked/yelling party to do it as alone as possible, but Christina wants to share the birth of her grandkid with her. Hoping it doesn’t involve some unexpected hospital transfer/birth from hell so her mom can just be like, “Yeah, that is nice not having to leave the house and getting to cuddle with your family all you want.” I should write down what I envision for my birth plan. Hm. Here it is:

Get through the really fucking painful back contractions while be able to talk to cutie pie Iris in between.

Have a birth tub with hot hot water here to help with those contractions.

Have a short enough labor that I don’t need to go to sleep and wake up multiple days in a row with escalating contractions that eventually slow down and deprive me of all energy, leaving me to have the kid on my bed.

I don’t want another on-my-back labor. I want to have enough energy to have this kid on my own feet or in water. I want to not feel the back pain I felt last time that extended for over six months. I want to not end up with a yeast infection that makes peeing feel like my crotch is being torn open.

I want to have the energy to hold my baby after I have them. With Iris, I couldn’t lift her for days. I couldn’t pick her up because it hurt my back too much. She latched from an upright position and from a side position.

I want to get a nap with Christina and Iris. I want Iris to be there when tiny person is born, and I want her to get to help cut the umbilical cord and look at the placenta and wrap up a new baby and I want her to feel good about the new person in our house.

Less than twenty-four hours old, Iris.

Less than twenty-four hours old, Iris.


Fav Kid Books Ages 2-8

Living with a Toddler, Family/LifeTabatha HansenComment

Reading together is one part of our daily life that we don’t screw around with.

It puts our kid to sleep, it puts us to sleep, it connects us to drawings on a page, which translates to empathy/connecting us to humans we don’t know. Most of the books we’ve come across aren’t well-written, published for a quick-fix of Peppa Pig or a rehashing of a poorly structured kids show. I call these “crap books.” Our kid calls these “crap books.” We acknowledge that they foster a sense of feeling good real quick by showing us familiar characters and plots we already know. “Crap food” fosters a sense of feeling good real quick by spiking our blood sugar and making us feel warm. “Crap TV” lets our brains do minimal work for maximum feeling of oozy puddle body. It’s important to occasionally indulge in all of these things, if no other reason than to not make our kid feel like she needs to rebel and grow up to indulge all the time to spite us.

When we go to the library, Iris gets to come home with one crap book. All other books are mom-approved. We go to the library to restock every couple of weeks, and we have an agreement to read any book that is enjoyed as many times as she likes. We have had a solid six months of this, and there are few books that make it on the “repeat” list. Since summer, we’ve read a couple hundred picture books. Surprisingly, no crap books have made it on this list. We read two books/day from May-August, and currently, we have been working through long, science-y non-fiction books about bats and bee populations dwindling.

Quick note: We read books that feature a single character with the pronouns “they/them.” Try it sometime, you’ll find it a good segue into gender when your kid eventually starts asking questions.

Quick note: We read books that feature a single character with the pronouns “they/them.” I could dissect my reasoning, but maybe I’ll leave my griping to another post another day or find someone else who has already articulated this specific gendered problem with children’s lit because today I feel good and these books make our family and our kid feel good. Main goal here is to not associate “genders” with “interests” and most kids books are written with our society’s gender “rules” right up front.

Behold, our favorite kids lit since 2014!

Waiting for High Tide  by Nikki McClure. The kid finds a barnacle and puts it in their eye while exploring a beach. Ages: 3-8 Years

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure. The kid finds a barnacle and puts it in their eye while exploring a beach. Ages: 3-8 Years

Ooko  by Esme Shapiro. A fox wants to be loved by humans—or at least they think they do until they get a chance to play with one. Ages: 3-7 Years.

Ooko by Esme Shapiro. A fox wants to be loved by humans—or at least they think they do until they get a chance to play with one. Ages: 3-7 Years.

This is Not My Hat  by Jon Klassen. Tiny fish takes a bigger fish’s hat and is pursued. Ages: 2-8

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Tiny fish takes a bigger fish’s hat and is pursued. Ages: 2-8

We Found a Hat  by Jon Klassen. Two turtles find a hat in a desert and don’t know what to do. Ages 2-8.

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen. Two turtles find a hat in a desert and don’t know what to do. Ages 2-8.

Say Zoop!  by Herve Tullet. His entire collection of books are created for kids to interact with, some have no words at all. They were our kid’s very first books, and we have worked through his whole collection. This particular book was a perfect transition book into teaching reading. It introduces the idea of shapes and symbols representing sounds. Iris started learning to read at three, and I think it was because of the way Tullet is able to help kids make that connection. Ages NB-5.

Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet. His entire collection of books are created for kids to interact with, some have no words at all. They were our kid’s very first books, and we have worked through his whole collection. This particular book was a perfect transition book into teaching reading. It introduces the idea of shapes and symbols representing sounds. Iris started learning to read at three, and I think it was because of the way Tullet is able to help kids make that connection. Ages NB-5.

I Don’t Like Koala  by Sean Ferrell. A kid tries to do away with a weird stuffed animal. Ages 2-8.

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell. A kid tries to do away with a weird stuffed animal. Ages 2-8.

Robo-Sauce  by Adam Rubin. Kid finds out how to turn everyone into robots. Ages 3-8.

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin. Kid finds out how to turn everyone into robots. Ages 3-8.

Frog and Toad are Friends  by Arnold Lobel. If your kid doesn’t come from a queer family, this is a good way to start the conversation about people of all genders being together. This convo should start around age 3, with simple words phrases like, “People of all kinds are friends and love eachother. Not just ___ ____ like ____ ____.” Ages 2-8.

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel. If your kid doesn’t come from a queer family, this is a good way to start the conversation about people of all genders being together. This convo should start around age 3, with simple words phrases like, “People of all kinds are friends and love eachother. Not just ___ ____ like ____ ____.” Ages 2-8.

The Dead Bird  by Margaret Wise Brown. Kids work together to figure out what to do with the little critter. Ages 4-8.

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown. Kids work together to figure out what to do with the little critter. Ages 4-8.

And Tango Makes Three  by Justin Richardson. Based on real-life penguin dads who finally get to take care of an egg. Ages 2-8.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson. Based on real-life penguin dads who finally get to take care of an egg. Ages 2-8.

Ballad  by Blexbolex. A story in pictures, with words sometimes, sometimes not. Ages 3-Adult.

Ballad by Blexbolex. A story in pictures, with words sometimes, sometimes not. Ages 3-Adult.

The Little Lost Bat  by Sandra Markle. A bat loses their mother, a mother loses their bat. Bat adoption, weeping, breastfeeding—human parenthood fears in a story about bat adoption, which happens in bat populations all the time. Ages 4-9.

The Little Lost Bat by Sandra Markle. A bat loses their mother, a mother loses their bat. Bat adoption, weeping, breastfeeding—human parenthood fears in a story about bat adoption, which happens in bat populations all the time. Ages 4-9.

What are yours/your kids’ favorite books/favorite kid books? WE LOVE BOOKS AND LOVE RECOMMENDATIONS. Do share. :)