Saturday, December 17, 2011

Country Rat

A few days ago, I walked passed our corner bodega to run an errand with Colette in the Bjorn, and a cute, old, seemingly homeless black man standing out front asked jokingly, if that was his baby. He then commented on how big she has gotten. He was friendly and harmless and I laughed.  I walked away thinking about how much I love the neighborhood we live in.  I love that there are swanky bars and coffee shops and yet it’s still really diverse, and chock full of shitty salons and dollar stores with names like Kinky Crowns and G.O. Hussey, respectively.  Everyday, everywhere I look there’s more swank and less shit.

Our Apartment Building
Jeff and I live in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.  It’s just north of Prospect Park and adjacent to Park Slope (where Miranda moved to in Sex and the City). We moved here from Williamsburg, Brooklyn almost four years ago.  Unlike our previous stomping grounds, which I wasn’t in love with, our current neighborhood and apartment turned me from a country mouse to a city rat (but I still hate rats).
I’ve been thinking more and more about apartments and neighborhoods because we have to move out by April 1st so that our unit can be sold. When we first got the news a few months ago via e-mail from our landlord, the apartment owner whom lives in Switzerland, I cried.  Moving sucks and everyone knows it.  Plus, our apartment has plenty of natural light, a dishwasher, great closet and storage space, washer and dryer in the basement, reasonable rent and two nicely sized bedrooms. Additionally, it’s a co-op that’s well maintained, safe and friendly.

We have the opportunity to buy the apartment, but it’s at the very high end of our price range and we don’t want to be trapped.  As much as we love renting it, we don’t want to own it and here’s why:
1. There is no washer/dryer in unit
2. It’s a 3rd floor walk-up
3. It’s a small co-op with lots of restrictions…i.e. no dogs, no long-term sub-lets (which is why we need to move)
4. Too long of a walk to trains
5. We can hear the neighbors above us…they have three kids
6. It’s not a fixer-upper
7. There is no balcony or yard
8. No parking…although we don’t have a car, we might at some point
9. We will soon outgrow it
10. There is a low-income apartment two-doors down…harmless, yet loud, weed-smokers hang out on their stoop ALL-THE-TIME. 

When Jeff got the news that we have to move out he feared I would make him move to the ‘burbs, which I’ve been hanging over his head since I moved to the city in 2005.  I pretend like I’m doing him a favor by living here, but truthfully, each passing year, Brooklyn feels more and more like home to me.  With that being said, eventually we will end up in the suburbs.  I think West Hartford, CT our hometown would be ideal.

All things I love: Cole, Brooklyn, Christmas
My parents, longtime West Hartford residents, are constantly on the lookout for crappy, underpriced properties to fix up and flip. All of those HGTV shows about flipping properties make it seem easy and glamorous, which it’s not at all. My parents put a huge amount of time, effort and talent into turning a profit on the properties they scoop up. A few days ago my parents looked at a 4-bedroom colonial style house on a secluded, dead-end street in a very nice part of town.  To entice me, my Dad sent me picture texts of deer in the woodsy front yard and an antiqued front door.  The old Ashley would have liked it. But after living in the city my values have changed.

I want people as neighbors, not deer.  I want a crowded park, not woods next door. I want a densely packed street, not a dead-end without sidewalks.  I like living in a compact space, close to people, restaurants, grocery stores.  I love that we don’t own a car, nor need to.   If and when we move the ‘burbs, I want to keep as much of our city-living style intact as possible.

So, as always, my parents will remain on the hunt for a house worth flipping.  Who knows, maybe they’ll flip it to us when the time comes. But for right now, Colette, Jeff and I are happy where we are now and I bet we’ll be happy at our next apartment too. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stroller Sidelines

I can’t believe three weeks have passed since my last blog update.  Amazing.  Scary. My Dad, Gary, is not impressed with my infrequent posting.

In my last blog I bragged about how I was going to all of these cool classes, feeling great and working out. Um, yeah, all that has changed.  Instead of going to Stroller Strides, I’ve created my own club and it’s called Stroller Sidelines. It’s a club where you sit out of all the fun fitness-related activities and limp around your apartment using a stroller as a walker.  I can’t wait until this club looses me, its one and only member.

Well, first of all, I knew I shouldn’t have been working out three weeks postpartum. But, I was feeling really great and was anxious to get my body back into shape.   Doctors don’t give you clearance to work out until you are six weeks postpartum, but I thought that was just a lame suggestion, an excuse for women who don’t like to work out, to not work out. 

Unlike me, it turns out some of these doctors know a thing or two about health and the human body.   At my second Stroller Strides class, just over two weeks ago, I pulled my SI joint (a pelvic joint that loosens for labor) while doing knee raises on a park bench.   I didn’t hear a pop or feel immediate pain.  I felt a little off-balanced but I kept on working out.  Later that afternoon, my right hip really started to hurt and I ended up limping home from doing errands.  I iced it, used a heating pad, and took ibuprofen for days, but nothing helped.  I had sharp shooting pain when I turned in bed, had a hard time picking up Colette and getting to her quickly when she cried.

Last week, I saw sports specialists, got an x-ray (nothing broken), filled some scripts (nothing good), and started physical therapy.  Luckily, the joint will heal and I’m starting to feel better. Unfortunately, I need to take it easy for a while.  I gave my yoga punch card to another new mom and I put my Stroller Strides membership on hold.  It saddens me to say that this will be the first time in 20 consecutive years that I am not running in the Manchester Road Race with the rest of my family on Thanksgiving morning.  It breaks my heart, but I know it’s the mature and healthy thing to do.   I plan on running the NYC Marathon next year, and the Manchester Road Race for the rest of my life, so I better take care of myself.

Colette went to the doctor too. She had her one-month “well visit” a few weeks ago.  She’s a happy, healthy baby weighing in at over 10 lbs. now.  She’ll go again in a few weeks for her first round of immunizations.   She’s way more alert, smiling (a little), cooing, holding her head up, and sleeping like a champ.   

Cole learning to do the running man

The past few weeks have been pretty rough emotionally and physically, definitely harder than anything I endured during pregnancy and labor, but I’m optimistic that I’m on the road to recovery.  Luckily, I have a great baby and husband that love me even when I'm not 100%. Things ain't that bad....ain't bad at all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sushi Time and Tummy Time

Colette turned 3 weeks old yesterday!

It’s amazing how much and how quickly one learns about their baby, themselves and their spouse when they bring home a newborn. Jeff and I spend a good amount of time staring at Colette and studying her like a science experiment.  Oh, yeah, we hold her a lot, too.  We are learning more each day what she likes and dislikes, how many poops to expect, how to perfect stroller moves on crowded city sidewalks, how to shower in 5 minutes or less. With every passing day, we grow more in love with her and more confident that we’re doing it “right”.

We have the dialog below, or something similar to it, often.

Me: Jeff, Colette has a boogie in her nose. What do we do about it?
Jeff: I don’t know, Google it.
Me: Okay, I looked into it. We can leave it, use an aspirator, or a few drops of saline.
Jeff: Okay, I’ll use the aspirator. How does this one work?
Me: I don’t know. I think it says on the package.
Jeff: I figured it out. I’ll take care of it.
Me: Well, let me see, so I know for next time.

This is how we figure out how long to leave the breast milk out for (6 hours), how to get the poop stain of out her white clothes (fucked if I know), how to change the diaper genie (pull down, cut, knot, toss), and how to treat baby acne (leave it alone or wash with water 3x day), etc.  When we don’t know what do to, we Google it, read about it in a book, or ask someone. And then, we know what do next time it occurs.

In addition to our growing confidence, a daily routine has started to form.  Colette and I wake up together (she sleeps in a bassinet in our room) around 9:30AM, I change and feed her and she stays up for an hour or so.  Sometimes I read her a book, sing her a song, or tell her what’s on the agenda for the day. Then, she goes back to sleep, in the living room, for about 3 hours, while I make coffee, write e-mails, complete insurance paperwork, and search for Mommy & Me programs.  She wakes up again around lunchtime for another feeding and changing, and then back to sleep for another 3 hours.  As the day progresses, she gets a little more fussy but she hasn’t thrown any tantrums yet.  If she’s fed and changed, but still unhappy I put on some dance music and her in the Baby Bjorn and we dance around the living room.   Or, I’ll keep her in the Bjorn and run errands to Duane Reade, the post office, or do laundry in the basement.   She’s as happy as a clam in there.  She's usually awake around dinner time and Jeff entertains her or gives her a bath.  She won't go to sleep entirely until somewhere between 11PM - 1AM.  And then, get this, she sleeps until at least 5AM, sometimes even until 10AM. We're amazed and hoping it's not a passing phase. 

She's obviously had enough of storytime
Now that I can anticipate most of her needs, and we have a loose routine, I’ve been looking into more activities for us to take part in outside of the apartment (mostly so I don’t go crazy).  This week we went to our first Stroller Strides class and I am hooked! It’s a workout class for moms and stroller bound babes.  Cole was the youngest baby by far (by like 6 months) and the other Moms were shocked that I was outside and ready to work out.  But, honestly, I’m feeling like my old self and I’m really anxious to start looking like my old self. We also have Mom and Me Yoga that we are starting next week, as well as a Pre-crawlers class (where newborns perfect the art of Tummy Time) that starts when she is 5 weeks old.  I’m working on creating a calendar for the two of us so we can keep track of our weekly activities.   I’m surprised at how many programs are available right in our neighborhood for newborns/parents and how affordable they are…it’s overwhelming, but awesome.

Next week we are taking Colette on her first trip to Connecticut and I can’t wait for her to meet everyone back home.  Jeff and I travel really well together, and I’m curious to see how we manage with our little peach in tow.   If she’s anything like me, which um, she is, ‘cause I made her, she’ll be asleep before the train leaves the station.  Word.

Sushi! Finally!
Cole (in her carrier next to me) didn't make a peep.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

And then there were three

Colette Frances Rigby arrived just before 6PM on Thursday, October 6th, 2011.  She arrived with a head full of brown hair, weighing a solid 8 lbs 1 oz and was 20 inches long.

This is the short story of her arrival:

We took a cab to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, which is near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, at 6PM on Wednesday night so that I could get induced.   It was weird to sit there next to Jeff with an empty car seat bouncing around in the back of the car, knowing there would soon be a baby in it.   I was more nervous about not being able to eat once we arrived at the hospital than labor itself, so I snacked on a Snickers bar, while we sat in rush hour traffic.

We got to the labor and delivery waiting area, and I realized we might be there for a while. Patients are admitted based on priority, and there were many women in active labor or with emergency issues who were certainly going to be seen before us.  Jeff and I played Scrabble and read magazines for nearly four hours before we were brought to a room.   Once in the room and settled in, I was given Cervidil, which is supposed to dilate and efface the cervix.  Jeff slept surprisingly well in a hospital chair/bed, while I tossed and turned most of the night.

My OB, Dr. Paka, came in the next morning at the start of her shift and said I had not made any progress.  At that point they started me on an IV drip of Pitocin, which is supposed to increase the frequency and intensity of the contractions (I was having mild ones one my own).  That started working immediately. By 1PM I was wincing in pain, and telling Jeff not to talk to me during contractions.  I always new I was going to get an epidural, but I wasn’t sure when would be the best time to get it. I wanted to feel some labor pains, but just enough to say I felt some pain.  I asked the nurse for advice and she politely hinted to me that it would be a good time to get the anesthesiologist.  Shortly after, the anesthesiologist was in the room, I was hunched over the bed, Jeff was in front of me, and I was numb from mid-back down.    Wow…. epidurals are AMAZING.  From that point on, I felt pressure but no pain or discomfort, not even for Colette’s exit.

Having a contraction without epidural (I was not watching TV)
Around 3PM my OB came back in, said I was making great progress, and broke my water. She returned at 5PM, said the baby’s head was right there and I could start pushing in a few minutes. Even though Dr. Paka’s shift was over, she stayed late to deliver my baby and that thrilled me. Just before I started pushing, Jeff confirmed, that there were 8 couples vying for 5 of the remaining private rooms, so if I could push quickly, that would be ideal.   I put on my game face and my hair up in a ponytail. 

Dr. Paka just told me I was going to start pushing.
Game face. 
 With Jeff, the nurse, and Dr. Paka’s help Colette arrived after about 12 contractions and 30 minutes of pushing.  It’s an incredible, empowering and intimate experience.  They put her on my chest immediately and she cried for the next several hours.  Jeff and I were teary eyed but we never cried. I was thought she was beautiful and perfect right away, just like a good mama should.  

Eying my beautiful baby and the burger behind her. I was HUNGRY!

Then we made our way, to the private (hell ya!) recovery room, we’re we stayed for the next 48 hours.  It was awesome.

I can’t believe that was two weeks ago! 

PS - This blog won't be entirly about Cole from this point forward, but it might be for the next few posts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Go Time

Ever since I found out I was pregnant; I’ve been getting weekly updates from BabyCenter, my go-to pregnancy web site.  Yesterday’s e-mail filled me in on how much our 1-week old baby is probably eating and sleeping. 

Eh, pump the brakes BabyCenter.  We still don’t have a baby! 

I don’t think there is a pregnant lady in the world that envisions going a week or more past her due date, but it’s so common.  Shawna, my sister, whom delivered 16 days late, after being induced, said that doctors should give you a due month, as opposed to a due date. I agree.

DJ Edie showing us how non-baby proof our pad is.
I’ve been having mild contractions for several weeks now, but they are not consistent or strong enough to propel me into full-blown labor.  My cervix has been just a 1-2 cm dilated for a few weeks now, as well.   So things are progressing, but very slowly.  I would be okay with, even prefer to wait it out and let things take place naturally, however, there’s a conflict with our social calendar.

Jeff’s sister Shana is getting married on Sunday.  Your siblings wedding and your baby’s birth are pretty major events.  He needs to be at both. And therefore, we need to prevent them from happening on the same day.  I’m heading to the hospital at 6PM tonight get induced.  The process may take a while, but my OB said we should have a baby by tomorrow night. For real. A baby. Tomorrow!

Yesterday, at the OBs office, when we made the decision to schedule the induction, I felt the need to rush home a tackle a long to-do list, when in reality I’ve been in “go-mode” for weeks, and there is nothing left in my apartment for me to clean, fix, fold, do, etc.  But regardless, I wanted to re-clean the fridge, re-change the sheets, answer e-mails for a second time, re-pack my hospital bag (Actually, that is the one thing that did need to happen.  It’s been packed for so long now, I’ve started to pick at it).  Jeff on the other hand, wanted to go out to a fancy dinner, which is all he ever wants to do.   Over the past month we’ve had like twenty “last-hurrahs”. 

Shawna & Edie
My favorite “last-hurrah” took place last week, and I wish I took a picture of it.  Jeff’s friend, Connor, scored two, much coveted tickets to Radiohead’s show at the Roseland Ballroom and offered one to Jeff.  Jeff was thrilled, but concerned I would go into labor while he was at the show.  I didn’t mind him going, but given I was a few days past due at that time, I didn’t want to be alone.  Not surprisingly, my rock-star Mom offered to keep me company for the night. But we didn't want to put her out, so Jeff suggested I stay at a hotel, in the city, close to the hospital and music venue so he could get to me quickly, if need be.  I thought it was a little over the top, but obliged.  Very last minute, I asked a few of my girlfriends if they wanted to hang with me at the hotel.  They were down and I loved them for it. We ordered room service, chatted about babies and blind dates.  It was the ultimate staycation and I hope to return the favor someday in the near future.

My Mom.
Good thing she has those guns!
She's gonna have plently of grandbaby lifting to do.

Stay tuned, friends! I’m about to have a baby and that always makes for a good story.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sit, Wonder & Wait

I feel like Carrie Bradshaw, as I sit at my desk, look out the window, reflect on things, think about what’s to come, and write my blog.

I’m really happy.  I’ll compare how I feel right now, to how I feel when Christmas, my favorite holiday, is a few days away.   I get all excited as I anticipate seeing friends and family, eating good food, giving and receiving gifts.   But it’s an even bigger and better feeling that I have right now.  I feel very special and that this is very unique time of my life.

For one, I’m not officially on maternity leave, but I’m working from home from this point forward and it’s such a treat.  I get up around 7AM, make coffee and breakfast, and hop to work without needing to shower or commute.   It’s a luxury and I’m digging it.   Jeff is digging it too.  He loves that the coffee is already made, even though he has to reheat it, because he rolls out of bed about 3 hours after me (he starts late, but works late),  and that I make his lunch each day.   When he didn’t have a stay-at-home wife, he would have a banana or pick at deli meat, but now he gets chicken salads and warm sandwiches with a side of grapes.   I even pick up after him and give me a napkin. Awe.

38 Weeks
As for real maternity leave, that’s something I have dreamt about since I graduated college, perhaps even since I was a teenager, when I got my first job.  I first started working as a waitress, when I was 14 years old, at the Holy Family Monastery, in the footsteps of my sister and cousins.  Shortly thereafter, I became addicted to money, and therefore, working, because of all the things it allowed me to do and buy.  Of course, I’ve taken breaks and vacations since then, but nothing comes close to as long as 3 months of maternity leave.   I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it. 

Per my doctor’s most recent request, my pace has slowed and the social calendar has evaporated.   As most of you know, I don’t do “slow” well.  The inability to relax and take it easy is a trait I picked up from my Mom.   We ladies, get restless and bored easily.  However, I’ve promised myself, that I cannot say "I’m bored" from this point forward. I need to enjoy these last few moments of boredom, freedom, quiet, and calm.  

I’m excited to meet our baby and see whom he/she looks most like. I think I’ve read enough material to qualify as a certified doula and lactation consultant, but I’m curious and scared to know what labor, birth, and breastfeeding actually feel like.  I wonder how Jeff will handle and support me through the process and how our relationship will change once we have a baby.   We’re as capable, ready and prepared as we’ll ever be, but it’s all new territory for us.  I’m nine months into this, and I still think “holy shit” I’m having a baby, when I walk by the mirror.   I’m sure, in a few weeks, I will walk around with a baby in my arms, and think, “holy crap” (notice, the future me, won’t swear), I’m a mother.  Perhaps, being a mother is so life-changing, it never stops surprising you.  

1. Baby, I hope you are blessed with our tan Italian skin and thick locks of hair!


2.  Little Rigs, I beg of you to have our sophistication, class, and that you carry the well-respected family name with it's due sense of dignity and pride!

3. And of course, Riglet, please have our love for adventure and travel! Plus, our fashion-sense would do you well. You'll see, fanny packs rule the school!