Dirty Hippie

I had visions of being a carefree glam-hippie mom, clad in boho skirts, big sun glasses, with a happy, naked baby in tow, whisking about braless in the warm glow of the California sun.

It has not quite worked out that way.

I wake up every morning harried and confused, wishing I had 4 hands instead of 2, a kangaroo pouch – or alternatively, and more realistically, some kind of mom utility belt to avoid three trips up and down the stairs to transport this mish mash of stuff – bottles, glasses, phone, baby, receiving blankets, ice packs, and pump accessories.

I have not worn any boho skirts in a couple of weeks, though I own many, because it has been an extremely hot October, and my body is doing something weird post-pregnancy, possibly because of breastfeeding. I used to be cold constantly; I was the person who turned her space heater on in the middle of July once the air conditioning started running in the office. People would start sweating when they entered my office; my boss regularly referred to my work space as a sauna.

Now, I am constantly hot: I sweat in my sleep the first two weeks after Little V was born. I first noticed it in the hospital, and it rather took me by surprise, especially since there is always a nice flow of air conditioning in the hospital. Literally, this night sweating thing has never happened to me unless it was over 90 degrees or I was seriously ill. However, even after that horribleness has ceased, I continue to run hot. Last weekend, I actually sweat a little bit walking around in 80 degree weather. I’m Asian. I don’t usually sweat noticeably unless it’s 90 degrees or I’m exercising, and this new phenomenon irritates me to no end. I pray it is not permanent.

I don’t tow her anywhere for long as of yet, because she is a fatty little baby, gaining a bit more than the normal 1 ounce a day, and while I have decent arm and upper body strength, I get uncomfortable after holding her for just five minutes. I also have not mastered use of the ring sling, so that baby-wearing thing isn’t working out for me yet. As soon as the doctor clears me, I’ve got to get back on those pushups and ab roller exercises.

As for going braless, I’ve got that part down, but not quite in the way I imagined. I got sick of fussing around with clasps, pads, and straps. I also read that milk stains can be hard to get out, and I don’t want to ruin any of my nice clothes. I have thus resorted to wearing shitty ass tank tops I bought from Walmart for $4, without a bra. If I drip milk, so be it, as long as it’s not getting on furniture or the floor.  If I end up with some amount of milk on me after the 8-10 feeding sessions a day anyway, so what’s the point? No one is going to shower or rinse 8-10 times a day.

I’ve also got the naked baby part down, even though people think it’s weird. As I write this, I’m about to take her to Daddy’s soccer game wearing only a diaper. It will get cold, but she has a really nice hot pink fleece blanket. In this stage of our lives, neither of us like clothes, and I am convinced clothing on babies in warm weather is more for other people than it is for the baby.

To my credit, I have not entirely abandoned my boundaries, and begrudgingly put on a bra when going out to meet with people, or attend doctor’s appointments. I also have not degenerated to the point where I neglect showers, although that would be quite in line with the hippie theme. Do I get a gold star for this?

Henna Part 1

I bought some supplies for decorating my belly with henna a few weeks ago and have not gotten around to using it yet. I thought the process would be easier than it is, but after Googling instructions for making henna tattoo paste, it appears a bit more involved than I thought it would be.

I bought Jamila henna powder off of Amazon and was careful to buy the powder appropriate for making a tattoo paste as opposed to for dying hair. The instructions on the box were extremely brief and only said to mix the powder with water, but instructions I found online seemed a bit more trustworthy. Husband thought I was a bit greedy hoarding a bag lemons off a tree – “Are we really going to be able to use all of those before they go bad?” – and normally he would be correct, but this henna recipe I found online required 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice so my greed came in very handy, as I polished off 4-5 lemons making my henna paste.

 

The instructions also said to add some tea tree oil and lavender oil, which I happened to have on hand. The fact I just happened to have these oils made me feel like a dirty hippie. We had bought lavender oil because we read it repels silverfish, which have a tendency to show up in our kitchen once in a while, and I had some tea tree oil for my face from Trader Joe’s. The end result was supposed to be the texture of mashed potatoes and looked like Saag, but is supposed to turn orange-brown if the dye releases correctly.

 

 

Did You Buy _______ Yet?

No, but I do have a big jar of coconut oil in the kitchen pantry, so I’m good. Twitter tells me coconut oil is the solution to all life’s problems, and since I already own a big jar of it, I’ll bite.

I’m completely serious. I’ve already acquired way more baby shit than I intended. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow we have like 5 different sleeping arrangements for Fetus, including a co-sleeper, a crib, a cradle, a folding Rock ‘n Play, and a swing. Granted, she is expected to grow out of the co-sleeper and cradle within a few months, but still. Five. Sleeping. Arrangements. How does sleeping get this complicated? Why are babies so hard? Aghghghghghgh.

I’ve also been advised I really need a baby wipe warmer, nipple cream, some sort of diaper rash prevention cream (as opposed to Desitin, which treats the rash once it occurs), a bottle warmer, a changing table, among others items I have avoided buying thus far. With the exception of the changing table, a lot of these don’t take much physical space, especially compared to the 5 different sleeping products/devices, but they take up mental space and create psychological clutter for me so I am avoiding them for as long as possible.

According to Google, coconut oil can suffice both as nipple cream and diaper rash prevention, so I’m going to do just that unless/until it proves to be an embarrassing hippie failure.

Unmedicated Birth?

Although my mother and mother-in-law both gave birth without the assistance of epidural analgesia, this does not appear to be the norm for most women, at least in the current times. I do not go around broadcasting that I plan to have an unmedicated birth, because I really have no clue how it will ultimately all play out, and it could very well be the case that medical interventions become necessary… but hopefully not.

Some of the sentiments I’ve heard about an unmedicated birth are quite snide, and I get these from all kinds of people, including those who are professional healthcare providers (not my own, fortunately). No, I don’t want a gold star or a pat on the back for needlessly suffering through pain, nor do I believe that “natural suffering” should be part of the grand experience of labor and birth. Believe me, if I could literally snap my fingers and have a pain-free birth, I’d do it. However, the fact remains that no medication or medical procedure is without attendant risks and potential complications.

Some studies suggest epidural use causes increased labor time and increases the need for instrumentation use in the form of forceps and/or vacuum, which in turn leads to increased risk of severe tearing (here). I have no strong opinions on what other people should or should not do, except that I believe every woman should have enough information on data and risks to come to whatever conclusions based on her personal preferences. But just as to myself – as a person who has never undergone any sort of surgery, medical procedures frighten me. I have not so much as had tonsils removed, had a mole biopsied, or ever needed stitches. No joke, the most invasive medical procedure I have undergone is probably a pap smear. So the mere idea of having a needle in my spine that pumps drugs continuously in my body, along with a catheter up my urethra, or potentially having someone stitch my vagina or slice my belly open, causes just as much if not more anxiety than the fear of labor pain.

Further, having worked in the medical field, I have a selective awareness of all the things that can and do go wrong with medical interventions. I’ve had a case where a patient experienced a severe spinal infection from spinal analgesia and have also had a case in which a woman permanently and completely lost bladder control after a catheter mishap during birth. Granted, these complications are extremely rare, but at least with an unmedicated birth, I know what the worst complication is – pain. Pain sucks, but if you can tolerate it, it’s a lot less scary than complete loss of bladder control, paralysis, or a c-section.

All this being said, I dread pain and am not about to go into this without the right resources and tools, which is why we decided to take a Hynobirthing class. My clients are almost exclusively composed of healthcare providers, and being a person who very much appreciates medical technology, embracing alternative measures was not easy for me. This is particularly the case because the alternative measures inevitably involve a certain degree of what I describe as Hippie crap, for lack of a better term.

I own more than a handful of boho skirts and love Bob Dylan. I don’t wear deodorant because I don’t need it but that does not mean I want to give birth while dancing in a naked circle in the ocean or that I will ever be sold on the spiritual/emotional benefit of candles, incense, or aromatherapy [NOOOOO]. I am not one of those “spiritual not religious people.” I am not searching for cosmic truth or seeking to be one with nature.

I previously had no interest in meditation, spirituality, and certainly no interest in hypnosis, because I liked my life at a certain pace, and I liked to be in control. On my high school graduation night, a hypnotist performed a demonstration, and of about 40 people, I and one of my friends were the only two skeptical individuals who were not able to succumb to the hypnotist’s antics, despite following directions.

So how did I get over this?

First, I told myself I had to. I did some light research and found that plenty of women can and do experience bearable births without epidural use, and told myself that if I wanted to take this path, I would have to consider, accept, and follow the advice of the practitioners who specialized in this area. I’m not one to follow anything blindly, but I did make a commitment to this particular path. I bought Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, my friend gave me Mindful Birthing, and I signed up for prenatal yoga.

During my first couple of yoga classes, I internally cringed at instructions to “send loving thoughts” to my baby and affirmation cards about beautiful birth goddesses. When told to “let go,” my instant thought was Let go of what? No, I don’t want to. But then the Asian mom in me said Listen to the teacher! What do you know? Plus, you paid for this, so pay attention and just do it! While yoga was not life-altering, it did bring a sort of calm and balance into my life.

In turn, the breathing techniques and general culture involved in prenatal yoga primed me for the Hypnobirthing class, which was taught by an experienced and knowledgeable midwife. The course featured much informative material about the stages of labor and delivery, the relevant anatomy, and exercises for managing pain. Don’t get me wrong; I still engaged in internal eyerolling at some of the videos, particularly the one where the narrator spoke like she was trying to get me to join a cult, and proclaimed nonsense about the spirals of the nautilus shell having some relation to the order of the universe and pain relief [please, just don’t]. However, I do strongly believe the meditation, breathing, and relaxation practices and visualization techniques were on point, useful, and will be immensely helpful during labor and birth.

In the end, as with all things in my life, I settled on a mishmash of what worked for me. I fully embraced Ina May’s perspective on dispelling the fear associated with birth, but ignored her implicit calls for further socializing medicine; I incorporated the benefits of prenatal yoga without resorting to paganism; and I fully engaged in meditation/relaxation exercises without committing to birthing in a tub at home and eating my placenta.

The Post Office by Charles Bukowski

I recently read The Post Office by Charles Bukowski, and I haven’t decided whether it is an ingenious work of dark comedy or an over-hyped hipster anthem (like Kerouac’s On The Road – don’t kill me).

The Post Office is narrated by Henry Chinaski, a drunk degenerate who works at the United States Postal Service as a carrier. He is constantly hungover at work, gambles too much in his spare time, dates flaky women, and spends the rest of his time drinking. His efforts in his employment as a mail carrier are characterized by his insistence on undertaking the bare minimum work and pushing the patience of his supervisors to the limit without getting fired.

He marries a wealthy woman 13 years younger at one point, but she divorces him because he is not enough of a gentleman, and released her parakeets into the wild because they were making too much noise and disrupted his sleep. He then knocks up an aging hippie, and is largely ambivalent when she leaves him and takes their child away to New Mexico. Chinaski is sometimes an abominable human being; in other instances one senses he is somewhat redeemable.

The books is humorous at times, and a bit dark when it comes to the obvious ennui and monotony of postal work and the people who endure it for decades. I enjoyed it, but did not find it particularly enlightening or compelling. The language is raw and mostly transparent, and I guess there was nothing in particularly that gripped me. I kept wondering where this whole thing was going, and never figured it out.

“Suddenly I had to sit down and shit. It was a good hot one.”

Notably, Bukowski was investigated and harassed by the FBI, possibly in connection with some of the revelations contained in this novel.  According to Bukowski.net, “In 1968 various branches of the U.S. government performed an investigation into the background of civil servant Charles Bukowski…Apparently the FBI and the Postal Service took offense to some of his writing…and had their ‘informants’ report Bukowski to higher-ups in the post office.”

Surely, Bukowski did the United States Postal Service no favors, and provided a special insight into the nonsensical bureaucracy and incompetence involved (those are some of the funniest parts). Even so, I don’t think the book remotely did such an injustice to warrant an FBI investigation, so I guess it just goes to show the FBI has always been full of a bunch of paranoid, meddling assholes.

So the guy shows up hungover at work constantly. But so did I, when I was 19 years old, as opposed to 36. At least he had his wrinkled carrier uniform on; I showed up at work hungover in the dress I wore out the night before. Perhaps this book is a glimpse of how my life would be at age 40 had I not abandoned my hedonistic ways.

Stone Farms

I drink Stone beers all the time, and have been to Stone’s restaurant/breweries in Point Loma (Liberty Station) and Escondido, but they’ve come up with something new recently. Stone Farms is a 19-acre farm where they purportedly grow some of the food for their restaurant (I think I read that somewhere). On Wednesday and Friday evenings, they have live music until 7:30. They have a small bar there, though beers aren’t cheap ($7). You can bring your own picnic, or they have pizza.

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I’d been wanting to come here for a while, because I saw a random post on Facebook, it sounded neat, and I wanted to come here before it became cool. The grounds featured various types of flowers, cacti, and vegetables. There were several rows of squash vines, though I have far from a green thumb, so don’t quote me on that. There were a few picnic tables placed in dark recesses under the vines, which could potentially be quite romantic if you had a picnic basket and some wine. There was a chicken coop, complete with chickens (duh), roosters, and a token peacock. There was also a pigeon coop. I don’t know if they serve pigeons at their restaurant; I’m not quite sure of the purpose of pigeons. Maybe the pigeons serve as messengers and deliver messages to the brewery/restaurants as to what will be the special du jour.

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They were all out of Cali-Belgique when I tried to order it, but it was for the better since I drink that frequently enough. I had a “Delicious” IPA or some shit like that. They said it was not their normal IPA, which I also drink too often. You can’t really go wrong with any Stone IPA in any event, and this one was no exception (yum).

There was a an area with a small stage for the music. The stage is framed by a bunch of bales of hay (seating), and an enormous oak tree that provides a great deal of shade for the multiple picnic tables underneath. The music wasn’t bad. The performer looked like a total hipster. Hipster hair and beard. Tight-fitting flannel shirt and skinny jeans. His music was unexpectedly hippie as opposed to hipster though (not that I would have minded either way). He played some old-timey country, folk songs, and even threw in Friend of the Devil by Grateful Dead; I was super stoked about that.

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The hot sauce has nothing to do with the farm, but while we’re on the topic of Stone, I thought I’d mention it. I got it at the grocery store the other day because it was on sale. I love spicy foods and was looking forward to it. It’s not bad, and is excellent on some scrambled eggs. However, as a person who enjoys spicy foods that make me cry, this sauce oversells itself a bit. It’s not terribly bastardy and it doesn’t really “double burn.” You can do a lot of burn with habanero, but this was on the sweet and mild side.