Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sick day

Not for me or Gus, thankfully, but Jon has been sick since Monday.  He went to work Monday feeling fine and came home at lunchtime with the flu.  I am so grateful that I got my vaccine when I was pregnant, because so far I feel 100% (knock on wood!) and Gus seems well.

As bad as I feel for Jon, with his fever, aches and pains, and--the worst of it all--not being able to give Gus any kisses or cuddles, I am also selfish and am beginning to feel a bit sorry for myself. Parenting is tiring work, and I didn't realize just how much I depend on Jon in order to refuel and get some time for myself (even if it is usually spent doing the dishes and cooking dinner!). I have basically been the sole caregiver since Sunday night, besides a couple of diaper changes before Jon left for work on Monday, and, after 48 hours, I am ready for a break! Every time I put Gus down to nap this afternoon and early evening, he would wake up. Jon would try and sing to him from across the room, but Gus would have none of it. So I would pick him up again. Thankfully, I have our Moby wrap and was able to get dinner ready while wearing the wee guy.  But I have done every diaper change, all the playtime, and, like always, all the feeding for two days straight. I am not saying this to complain--I think Jon has the short end of the stick,  overall. But I do hope that life is back to normal soon!  I really don't know how single parents (or temporarily single parents, due to business trips, deployments, etc) do it. Just one more reason to count my blessings!

Of course, in a few days' time, I will be complaining that I am not getting enough time with Gus, as the family will be hogging him over Christmas, I am sure.  I'll look back wistfully on today, when I had little Gussy all to myself :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Year as Homeowners!

Today is our one-year anniversary of living in our house!  Last year on this day, I was doing the last minute things  to move out of our flat (our lease ended that day), Jon was working most of the day and then coming home to our new home, and his brother and uncle were sitting outside our new house with all of our belongings, waiting for the estate agents to call saying the keys were ready to be picked up. The estate agents forgot to call us to let us know all the paperwork had gone through--luckily Jon made it to their office about 15 minutes before they closed and was able to retrieve the keys!  But we were able to spend our first night, on an air mattress, in our very cold but very own house. 

The house needed quite a lot of work done. although nothing that made it unliveable.  So far, we have:

  • stripped the wallpaper in the living room
  • painted the walls and (most of the) ceilings in the living room, 2 bedrooms, hallway and landing
  • put in gas central heating, including a hot water heater
  • gotten new carpets throughout the house (2 weeks before Gus was born!)
  • put new lights in kitchen, bathroom and living room
Things left to do (not necessarily in the near future):
  • paint the nursery
  • finish painting internal doors and door frames 
  • put in wardrobe in our bedroom
  • redo kitchen
  • redo bathroom
  • redo the back yard (right now there are only patio blocks, three beautiful rose bushes, and a few random plants. We would love some grass and vegetables back there--if either of us knew how to garden!)
  • get the lock changed on the garage so we can actually use the big door (we don't seem to have a key to unlock it!)
Although homeowning is tough work, it is pretty satisfying as well. For months after we got the house, I would walk back from the bus stop and think I am going back to my own house!!  And it is wonderful to think that this is Gus's home, where he was born and where we will experience all sorts of his firsts. We are very blessed to have such a great place to live (and we remember that doubly on horrible cold nights like these).  Thanks, house, for being such a great little home for us!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Links to some good giveaways

I would really like to write a real post, but for now, you will just have to make do with a couple of links and a picture of the wee one.

Rixa at Stand and Deliver is giving away a beautiful sling baby carrier.  But I really want to win it, so just click over to her blog and read all the great things she writes about birth, but don't enter the giveaway ;)

At A Perfect Lily, she is giving away a whole bunch of things for a really good cause--to help rescue a little girl with Down's Syndrome from a life in an institution--they just ask for a donation in order to enter the giveaway.  I only found this blog today, so haven't read much of it, but it is about one family's life with a DS baby.  I read the birth story (as I do) and was in tears.  Will definitely have to go back and read more.

And, as promised, a picture of Gus with his wee friends Bee, Octopus, and Bear (4 weeks old):

(I must cut those tags off of Bear's ear.  Luckily, Gus is not actually that interested in toys yet, so the tags pose no problem at the current time.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflections on Gus’s first month

Gus is one month old already! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  Here’s what I think so far about this whole parenting business.

Parenting a newborn is both easier and harder than I thought it would be.  Some days it feels so natural and easy—even bouts of fussiness are easy to deal with, emotionally if not physically.  And other days, I feel like I have no idea what I am doing, nothing seems to work, boredom and frustration are the main themes of the day (both for myself and Gus, I think!).  Hopefully the ratio of easy to hard days is in my favour, although the first week had a surprisingly high number of good days.  The first week Gus and I were home on our own probably had a majority tough days, but that was at least partially due to being stuck in the house from the ice and snow.  Change of scenery definitely helps make a day smoother!

I have never worried as much in my life as I have in these last four weeks!  The first night Gus was born, I was so physically exhausted, but it took hours to fall asleep.  Part of that was because I was just in awe of him and didn’t want to stop staring, but part of it was the feeling that he would only be okay as long as I had my eyes on him.  That feeling hasn’t yet completely gone away.  I am sure I will never go completely back to my previous laid-back self, but I do hope that the knot in the pit of my stomach when he is not in my line of vision will go away sometime soon!  The first car journey, I was almost sick worrying about what all those horrible other drivers on the road might do to us. Going out of the house in general is not completely okay unless I have the little one firmly in my grasp.  No one can be trusted to with my Gus except for me—not even Jon!  And every little odd thing Gus does—sleeps too much, doesn’t sleep enough, makes a funny face or noise—is evidence that we have somehow irreparably damaged our precious little boy.  Of course, all these thoughts are my emotional brain talking; for the most part, I let my rational side calm me down and convince myself that every is and will be okay.  And I have noticed that the frequency and severity of these worries are diminishing slowly but surely (I think!).

It is amazing how much difference a little bit of sleep can make. Evenings are so much harder when I am tired, whether due to not enough sleep or too much activity in the day. And even a small amount can make a huge difference.  I remember waking up one morning—a rare day when Gus actually woke up in the morning instead of sleeping till 11—and thinking how I would feel human if I only could get half an hour more of sleep. And other nights, begging him to fall asleep for even a short while so I could replenish my energy a little bit. Most days, both Jon and I get a reasonable amount of sleep of sufficient quality.  But the days where we don’t? Worst. day. ever.

Hormones are crazy, crazy things. I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster, and the above three things are definitely influenced by the hormones.  Again, there are fewer days where I feel the influence now than at the beginning, but still find myself crying at the most ridiculous things.  The first three weeks, I think there were more days where I cried than not.  But now, most days are tear-free, or at least tears are mostly shed over things like television commercials, not about my uselessness as a mother or the myriad dangers that my little one faces and my inability to protect him. 

I feel like a one-trick pony in my interactions with Gus.  Whenever he is upset, my first reaction is to nurse him. On days when he has been nursing 2 hours straight or he cries while latched on, I feel like maybe I should add some  more tools  to my parenting belt.  And I also wonder if maybe I am comforting him, but not really solving the problem that he was upset about in the first place.  And don’t get me started on when he is awake and alert.  I have never really known how to interact with babies, but figured it would come to me when I had my own.  Yeah, not so much.  I am okay for about 10 minutes, talking and singing to him, playing with him. But then I am out of ideas—and tired!—and think, aren’t you ready to nap again? Roll out the all-purpose breast again!

I am pretty sure my house is never going to be put together properly again.  Not that it was very tidy or organised before.  But now, I consider it a good day if I manage to put a load of laundry in the machine (but rarely take it out and hang it up) and get my lunch dishes into the kitchen (and never clean them) before Jon gets home. I just cannot figure out how to get anything done around the house during the day, and I am too knackered in the evening to do much more than dishes and dinner (and finish that pesky load of laundry!).  Gus sleeps pretty well in his crib at night, but during the day, he seems to only want to sleep while being held, and you can only do so much with him in the sling. I’ll sort it out one of these days. Hopefully.

Newborn growth and development is amazing.  I love watching Gus grow and change before our very eyes.  You can literally watch him get bigger—his little hands and arms get chubbier, clothes fit more tightly than they previously did.  The new skills he learns are equally obvious.  I could tell as his eyes were focussing more on various objects.  This week, he seemed to add a whole host of new sounds to his vocabulary overnight.  Really adorable sounds, too :)  Exciting times we live in!

It is a cliché, but it is astounding how much you can love someone. And how quickly he captured my heart!  One of the reasons he is held so much while sleeping is that I love to just hold him and look at him—could do it for hours.  Everything about him is beautiful and wonderful and makes my heart hurt.  If I am away from him for too long, I literally feel an ache—and not just in my over-full breasts!  And away from him can mean just a couple of hours of other people holding him. He is just so precious to us!

So that is parenthood so far.  Things do change quickly, though.  Even as I was writing this, I wanted to use the phrase “used to”, but how can there be a used to when we have only been doing this for a month!?   We’re ready for month number two!

Friday, December 3, 2010

7 Quick Takes (volume 2)

My parents have come and gone, now.  It was so nice to have them here, and they said they enjoyed it, even though most of the time we were sleeping or just sitting around doing nothing.  Well, there was a lot of cuddling the baby, as well!  

Gus and I have had 3 days on our own, now.  We're doing pretty well, I think. Although it is a relief when Jon gets home each day.  The main problem I seem to have is that I love to hold Gus while he sleeps, but just about the time I am ready to put him down to do something around the house or take a nap, he is ready to wake up. I need to figure out how to put him down during the day!  I did try putting him in the sling one day in order to make my lunch.  It worked quite well, but mostly I don't think about it until he is already asleep and I don't want to wake him.

We haven't really left the house since Monday, and I am getting a bit of cabin fever.  It doesn't help that a) we don't get out of bed till about 11 each day, b) it gets dark at 4, or c) it has been snowing and/or below freezing all week.  I was planning on going to the store this afternoon, but decided I should nap instead. I might go and meet Jon at the busstop when he comes home, even if bundling up the two of us is a lot of work for a 10 minute outing.

Also because of the snow, we have cancelled two appointments at the US Embassy to register Gus's birth and apply for his passport. This is really getting quite annoying, since we want to go to the US soon. But the trains in the UK are not very reliable in the snow, and we do not want to get stuck on one with Gus, or stuck in London with trains stopped for the day.  One train got stuck overnight the other night in between two stations and wouldn't let the passengers off for 9 hours! It was not on our line, but still not a good sign.  We have rescheduled for Tuesday--pray the weather is good by then!

Today was the first day on our own that I have been able to take a shower before Jon got home. I put Gus in his bouncy chair in the doorway of the bathroom and sang to him while I showered. It worked pretty well; he seemed pretty content throughout. Then an hour later he spit up all over me and my hair smells like milk. 

Gus is still the sweetest thing ever. I expected him to have some sort of schedule--probably not one that matched with mine, but a similar sort of pattern most days. Nothing like that so far; I feel the days are pretty unpredictable in terms of when he will be awake or when he will be fussy, etc.  He must take after me in that respect, because Jon loves to have a schedule for each day--I bet he has eaten lunch at 12 everyday since he was born!

Gus generally isn't a fussy baby, but he does have periods many days when he gets a bit agitated. When he gets really riled up, he will want to nurse, but be too anxious to latch on, even when he is all in position.  Then he will start making these funny snorting sounds--Jon calls him our little truffle snorting piglet. It is quite pathetic, but it always makes me laugh--good to lighten the mood a bit when both baby and mommy are getting a bit anxious!

For others' quick takes, check out Conversion Diary!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Paternity Leave

I have been thinking a lot in this past week how grateful I am for Paternity Leave.  I have always thought that providing (paid!) time off work for new fathers was a good thing.  I figured it must be so important for fathers to have time to get to know and bond with their new babies.  In some countries, fathers and mothers can share out the leave, so fathers can take up to a few months leave in the first year of their child's life; this is good for female employees, since there is less disparity between mothers and fathers taking time off for children, which makes employers more willing to hire young women. (Aren't I great, I think about everyone!)

But now I see how vital paternity leave is for new mothers as well, if my experience is similar to most, anyway.  Jon has two weeks off work for his paternity leave, and it was able to start the day I went into labour. And let me tell you, I do now know what I would have done without him here--being a new mother is wonderful, but can be overwhelming! Gus is actually a really good baby, but it is so helpful to have a partner in full-time parenting during these first weeks. Jon has been able to sit next to me and provide moral support when Gus's latch wasn't quite right and it was painful to nurse him.  It was really good to have at least one person not in tears!  And even when the breastfeeding is going well, it's good to not have to choose between letting Gus eat undisturbed and getting something for my own insatiable thirst.  Plus, Jon has done almost all the diaper changing!

Even though I love cuddling my little one and generally hate to put him down, there have been times when all this constant contact can just get to be too much.  This usually seems to coincide with the times when Gus won't settle without being held, and Jon is there to take up the reins and get some cuddles in for himself.  Even the simple fact that when Gus wakes up in the middle of the night, Jon offers his support, however I need it, and I can take it up based on my and Gus's needs, without any of us worrying about how Jon will be able to get up in the morning if he helps at night.  Obviously, he will be going back to work shortly, but it is so good to have this time when we are all learning together and sorting ourselves out.  

A couple of days before Gus was born, I read an article in which the author said how necessary it was to hire live-in help the first few weeks of a baby's life.  To be honest, I found the idea rather revolting. I think a lot of that revulsion came from the tone of the article (or that tidbit, anyway) and the privilege that she exhibited without any awareness that this option would be feasible for only a small section of our society.  But from this side of Gus's arrival, I can see where she is coming from. If a father can't get the time off work and there is no other family around, I can totally see why people would find this a necessary expenditure, even to the point of making other financial sacrifices.  The sanity and well-being of a new mother--in some cases, I imagine this could literally be the things that prevents the baby blues spiraling into a more serious condition--is worth quite a lot!  

I am doubly lucky, because my parents arrive for a week's stay the day before Jon goes back to work, so I will have an even longer time with full-time support.  Plus, Jon's family aren't too far away to come over and help out for a couple of hours when needed. But I have been so happy this past week to be able to spend all of my time with the two men in my life as a newly expanded family.  I think all three of us have gained so much from this time together.

But I am interested--what do others do / have done?  Does daddy find some other way to stay at home? Does mom get support from other family, or just soldier through on her own? Any thoughts?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gus has arrived!

What a busy 5 days we have had!  I woke up on Wednesday morning with labour starting, and a mere fifteen hours later, our little one was born. Not a bad day's work, I don't think :)  I am still trying to find time to process the whole event--I really want to have a detailed account of what happened throughout the labour and delivery, but it is so hard to find any time to sit down and write it out. Plus, every day such lovely (for the most part) things happen that I really want to just be able to cherish, and again exhaustion and lack of time prevent me from being able to do much.  My little guy could eat for England, so you would think that would give me an opportunity, but I am not very good at typing with one hand and my thoughts race ahead of my fingers.  At least it gives me plenty of time to sit and reflect on this wonderful gift, though.

We didn't have much of a day one, really, since Gus was born at 11.15 pm. We were lucky enough to be able to deliver at home, so when the midwives left at about 2 am, Jon, Gus, and I were all curled up in our bed, a happy new little family. I should have asked the midwife to take quick photo of us before he left (I know--we had a male midwife!). But, even though I put the camera somewhere that would be easy to find, I couldn't remember where that spot was, so I only have the mental picture.  It is amazing, though, laying in your own bed with your hours old baby (and wonderful husband).  And that feeling just continued all night--probably not the best thing, actually.  I was so overwhelmed with amazement at this little person--whom I already loved so much--that I couldn't sleep a wink!  I thought he must just be too fragile, he can't possibly sleep there in his own bed all by himself. I just laid there for hours, watching him sleep.

Even though you hear other people say it, it is shocking how much you can love this little person, and how quickly.  Jon and I both just sit and look at Gus, since he is just about the prettiest baby ever. Jon is a brilliant father already, although it is still hard to trust that Gus is okay when he is out of my sight, even when Jon is watching over him.

Okay, I am going to stop being so self-indulgent now (although, that is what a blog is for, isn't it?).  Suffice it to say, we have had a very happy 5 days.  There have been some difficult moments already (Gus loves being up from midnight to 4 or 5, which can be a bit trying!).   Maybe I'll have some more insightful thoughts in a few days, or maybe I will just share some more gushing about little Gus with you!

Monday, November 8, 2010


A lot of talk around pregnancy seems to be about intuition and body knowledge.  Natural birth advocates are often saying that a woman’s body knows what to do during labour and birth, you just need to listen to your body and follow what it is telling you.   And to an extent, I do agree: our bodies have been designed to give birth.  It is fascinating to me the differences between human birth and births among other mammals (not that I have witnessed either) and the way that the differences in our bodies (namely, that we walk on two legs but also have big brains compared to other mammals) affects how we can give birth.  Even though human babies are less mature than other primates, for example, when they are born, their relatively huge heads compared to the mother’s pelvis means that our babies have to do special turns and manoeuvres to get through the birth canal.  And no one has to teach the mom or baby how to do these.

But my real question about intuition is this: how do I know that the feeling I am having is intuition and not want I want or hope?  For instance, we did not find out via ultrasound whether this little one is a boy or a girl.  So people always ask me which I think the baby is.  And some people really have strong feelings that their little baby is one or the other, like their body knows.  Off and on during the course of the pregnancy, I have had some inklings that this baby is a girl (although most people seem to think it is a boy).  But do I think that because there is just a part of me that knows that it is a girl, or is it because part of me hopes that it is a girl? (I have this image in my mind that I will have lots of kids—good!—but all boys—scary!!!  I think my wanting a girl this time around is not so much about this particular child, but to ensure that whatever I might have in the future, at least I’ll have one little lady in the house.)   

I went to bed last night really thinking, down to my toes, that labour wasn’t far off now.  Not that it would necessarily be the next day (and it hasn’t started yet!), but that there wouldn’t be too many baby-free days left in our lives.  But OF COURSE this is true!  I have passed my due date—there will only be two weeks, at the most, left with this baby not out in the world.  This isn’t intuition, it is statistics (something I can rely on :) ).

I think this is what scares me about labour—although not really in a bad way, in an exciting way.  I want to be able to “listen to my body” and let it do its thing.  But when have I ever in my life had a chance to “practice” using my intuition and my body’s knowledge?   I feel like I should have been preparing for it in some way—can you teach yourself to listen to your body?  Some probably would say that you could. 

But really, I am probably just over-thinking all of this; which is, of course, the exact opposite of listening to your body and following your gut!  I have quite a mathematical, researcher-y type brain, and I want a simple equation: if x, then yY is that I know that I really would like an unmedicated, intervention-free birth, and I want there to be an X to guarantee that I will be able to achieve that.  If my body and my baby know what to do, then it seems the solution would be just to let the process unfold by itself, not try to insert my rational mind into the equation.  If only it were that simple!

I am really excited about labour, though.  Intrigued about how it will pan out, what will happen.  Will it be anything like my expectations?  (I am pretty sure that answer will be no!)   I think, whether I can follow this intuition thing or not, I am preparing to have a good time with birthing my baby.  And good preparation leads to good results, right?  (Right?!?!)

Friday, November 5, 2010

7 Quick Takes (volume 1)

Check out more bloggers' Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Due date today!  No signs of Baby being ready to join us yet, but it is really hard to not expect it to come in the next few days.  No matter how many times I tell myself that first-time mothers typically give birth 10 days after the due date, I can’t help but think baby will be here in the next few days.  Jon has asked baby to not start labour until Sunday afternoon, at the earliest, so he can get two more days of sleeping late this weekend!  No induction would be scheduled for at least two more weeks, so it’s not necessarily quite the end yet.

Jon, bump and I had a photo shoot last weekend.  It was really fun!  I felt that we didn’t have many good pictures from the pregnancy—we never seem to take any pictures—so this would be a good way to get a few photos.  We go back tomorrow to view all the photos.  The sitting fee was only £10, and we get a free 8x6 print with that; unfortunately, that means that they charge quite a lot for electronic copies of the photos (I think the prints are pretty average in price), so I won’t be sharing any here.  If (probably when—see above comment about never taking any good pictures) we get pictures done of the baby, we might find somewhere that at least has an online gallery so we can share them a bit more and family can pick out their own pictures, but this was a really good last minute decision, I think.

Tonight is Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes’ Night.  We celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, in which Fawkes and a group of Catholic rebels (freedom fighters, I am sure!) tried to blow up Parliament and kill the Protestant King.  Mostly it is celebrated with fireworks displays, and some towns still have big bonfires, apparently.  Traditionally, towns would burn effigies of Guy Fawkes and/or the Pope as well, but that doesn’t happen in too many places nowadays.  It always seems a bit weird to me, being Catholic, celebrating an event that has a definite anti-Catholic history, although I do think that it is good they were prevented from killing the entire Parliament and the King, regardless of their reasons.

Anyway, there were some fireworks going off in the park near our house last night, and I could see them from our back yard.  I wondered how the baby might react to all the banging, but s/he didn’t seem to mind at all, really, and they were pretty loud.  I thought I might get a lot of jumping around, but no.  I saw in the paper that a zoo is doing displays of “bang-less” fireworks, good for both the animals and children that are afraid of the noise.  I do not really understand how they can make fireworks that don’t make noise.

P.S. re fireworks: who wants to go stand outside to watch fireworks in November?  Don’t they know that it is cold out there?  Although, it does mean that you can set them off at about 6 and then go back home to your cozy house and a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate.

I bought a little storage unit to put in the bathroom the other week.  It arrived last week, I took all the pieces out of the box, with its 8 different types of screws and dowels and such and 12 different panels to put together, and realised that the assembly instructions were missing.  And there was no way I was going to be able to figure out how to put it together without the instructions.  So I contacted the seller (on ebay) to ask to if he could send me a copy of the instructions, and I am still waiting.  While all the pieces sit on my living room floor.  To be fair, I ordered a second, bigger unit as well, from a different seller, and it is only half-way put together, so maybe I can’t put the entire blame on the seller.  But it would be nice to be able to have this stuff in place before the baby arrives!  Oh well, baby won’t care if we have storage space in the bathroom.  If anything, baby will be more concerned about the completely unfinished nursery (hey Dad, I might have a job for you when you get here!)—luckily baby will be sleeping in our room to begin with, and the crib is put together. See, we do get around to finishing the important things!

Photo of me on my due date: 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Awaiting the wee 'un

I have really enjoyed being pregnant.  It is a funny state of being: an anticipation of an event, but also an experience in and of itself.  It can be hard sometimes to live in the moment during pregnancy, with all the preparations that need to go on for the little one’s arrival.  On the other hand, it is such a momentous thing in and of itself that you feel like you should be acutely aware of the baby growing inside of you at every moment of the day.  Not so much in the third trimester, but earlier in the pregnancy there would be days where I would see myself in the mirror as I got into the shower (for some odd reason the previous owners put a huge mirror covering the wall over the bathtub—a bit disconcerting to see oneself in that way first thing every morning, but luckily the steam from the shower fogs it up quickly enough!) and be surprised to see my growing bump.  Or go a couple of hours without even thinking about the baby, when it is so intimately connected to me.  I would say, “Oh, hello baby!  I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise!”  Luckily I am not too much of a worrier, but the thought would pop into my head: what kind of a mother am I, forgetting about this little one, even for a moment?!

Of course, there are also the moments in the day where baby starts to squirm around (do its exercises, I like to call it, taking after its da and working out those muscles!), and I just feel such overwhelming love for the little thing.  This is my baby, a complete little person growing inside of me! At those times, part of me wants to stay pregnant forever, not let the little one out into the world, not have to share these special moments with anyone—even Jon!  It is just so amazing to be a player in the creation of a person, someone with a little soul that will live forever.  This little life will never end, but its beginning was right here inside of me!  What an overwhelming thought.  At those times, I just feel so close to God and seem to have a little inkling of the love that He must feel for every one of us, His creations, and I pray so fervently for my little child.

Obviously, I can’t wait to actually meet my little one, face to face.  I think that human gestation is probably just the right length, because at 38 weeks, I definitely wasn’t ready, psychologically, for the baby to be born.  That may have been related to the fact that I didn’t feel that all the preparations were in place at home for the baby to come, and now those things are (more or less) completed.  But in the past few days, as my “due date” approaches (tomorrow!), the baby has been getting heavier, my whole body has been aching more and more, and those lovely little squirms are turning into painful jabs in the ribs and hips more often!  Physically, I am getting ready to be done with pregnancy itself, which definitely aides in the psychological and emotional preparation.

There is so much to look forward to in the next few weeks: the labour and birth itself (I am so excited and intrigued to see what it will be like and how my body will do its thing!); those first moments with the baby, which everyone says are so lovely; getting to know our little child and what s/he is like; watching Jon be a new father.  But I am definitely trying, in these last few days (weeks?) of pregnancy, to really savour these moments and not wish them all away.  God willing, we will have more children and similar moments will come, but I’ll never hold this baby in my womb again. (Plus, I don’t know that you get as much time to “savour the moment” for subsequent children—the toddlers I know don’t seem to appreciate quiet time the way adults do!)  How lucky I am to be able to take this time out for my baby and me!

Hello and welcome to my blog!

I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now and have decided that maternity leave is the perfect time to do so.  Can you tell that I haven’t yet had the baby, thereby thinking I am going to have lots of time to do some blogging?!  

Writing is not something that I naturally itch to do—some people have a need to write, but that is not me.  Instead, I am the type of person who will read something and then have discussions in my head all day long about the topic.  It is these thoughts swimming around in my head that just can’t be contained any longer.  And, after a month of leave from work where the majority of human interaction I get has been with my husband Jon, I think maybe it will do both of us good for me to have another outlet for my ramblings.  So I decided to share those internal discussions with the world--possibly more for my benefit than yours, but we’ll see as this little experiment goes along!  

I read a variety of types of blogs and have not yet really narrowed down what kind of topics I want to cover, so this will definitely be a bit of an eclectic mix, at least at the start.  We’ll see if I find some focus somewhere along the way.  Mainly this will cover my new and exciting mommy-ventures from a Catholic and/or feminist point of view (one day I’ll write about how I fit the two together, but I have to build up some courage for that first!), hopefully with a bit of food (baked goods are my weakness) and pregnancy/birth health thoughts (I am a health researcher by training and becoming a bit of a birth junkie) thrown in for fun.

About the blog title: not very exciting story, actually.  This is the name of a song that we occasionally sing in church.  While I quite like the melody, I think the words are kind of silly, as they include the phrase "and the trees in the fields will clap their hands", multiple times.  Firstly, fields tend not to have huge numbers of trees, and secondly, I just always thinks of Ents clapping, as trees don't typically have hands.  However, joy is one of my all-time favorite words.  I think of it as almost onomatopoeic: just the sound of the word makes you feel joyful.  So anyway, this phrase really speaks to me because that is what I try to do, both in my life and, hopefully, with this blog: spread joy in the world. 

Thanks for joining me--let's see where we go!