Bayfront Baby Place (oh, mah uterus)

Exactly one year ago, I headed home from labor and delivery in early labor, disappointed at being sent home. They gave me something to help me sleep and I did, through most of the day. I got up, drove my then two-year-old to my parents house to spend the night there. I had some lentil soup, came home, watched TV with my husband and labored at home through most of the night. My son was born just after 8 am after four hours of labor at Bayfront Medical Center.

**

As the mom of two boys, I’m used to people asking if we’ll have another. If we’ll “try for a girl.” The truth is, I don’t know. I honestly don’t. I yearn for another child in a biological, visceral way. I know that I have room in my heart and soul for another child. But when I think logically, I know that we don’t have room in our cars, that three kids would be a lot of kids for us, that eventually my mom needs to retire from being our childcare, that we’d be starting all over just as we gain some independence.

(So forgive me if I cringe or laugh uncomfortably when you ask. Honestly. I don’t know.)

**

Last week, I got to go on a media tour of the new Bayfront Baby Place. My chest felt tight as I drove across town, following the path we’d driven in the middle of the night a year ago.

I met up with Katherine Snow Smith, the Bayfront Baby Place Media Coordinator. I told her that I’d just had my son at Bayfront last November. When she smiled and congratulated me on his upcoming first birthday, I felt tears coming to my eyes behind my sunglasses.

Oh holy crap, I thought. Get it together!

Luckily Laurin Evans arrived. She has a preternatural ability to distract me from being an emo kid. We walked across a gorgeous closed-in pedestrian bridge to the new building.

The Baby Place will be opening next month, so it wasn’t completely finished. It had that shiny brand-new look that model homes have, but it was easy to picture it full to the brim with the noises and buzzing excitement of a labor and delivery ward.

Baby Place isn’t a birthing center, it’s a modern hospital. But it has some really nice touches that, in my opinion, are moves in the right direction. I had both my children in hospitals, but I believe in minimal intervention and freedom to have as natural a birth as possible. (I had an induction and epidural with my first, and no drugs with my second.)

I only found one aspect of the Baby Place disappointing: None of the 13 birthing suites have tubs for mothers to labor in. (Previously, one room had a labor tub. Bayfront does not permit water births.) I spoke to my friend Diane about it, and she said that in labor she preferred a shower. I also used the shower during labor. Since most OB/GYN’s in town won’t allow moms to labor in a tub anyway, the lack of tubs isn’t a huge loss. (That’s a whole different issue that irritates me.)

The showers in each room were huge though. Definitely big enough for a birthing ball and a couple of people to assist a mom in labor. (Speaking of assistance, I can’t speak highly enough of doulas.) The delivery suites were gorgeous, with absolutely every effort made to hide all the medical equipment. While it may seem like an unnecessary luxury, efforts towards making a birthing room home-like are crucial when it comes to helping a mother relax during labor. Labor hurts enough already—when you add anxiety to that mix, you’re setting a laboring mother up for additional pain and potential complications.

To put this into perspective, on our way out of the hospital, we walked through a normal ward in the old building. I immediately became tense, my hands got cold, I felt short of breath and my stomach hurt. And that was simply from being in a “hospital” atmosphere. I’d hate to feel that way during labor.

The OR (one of four) completely freaked me out, but it looked really pretty. For a terrifying room with huge lights. Laurin delivered her twins via C-Section and was impressed by the facility. With multiple births on the rise, the OR area has capacity for more newborns to be cared for within close proximity to the mom.

We also had a chance to visit one of the 40 postpartum mother-baby rooms. It was approximately the size of my house. I’m pretty sure someone could have about thirty guests in there with no problem. (It was clear that in a pinch, the room could probably also be converted to a double, though they are all meant to be private rooms.) Like the labor suites, the postpartum room was very fancy. Think upscale hotel, complete with huge window and flat screen TV.

As much as I appreciate the luxurious feel of the postpartum area, these were the Baby Place features that impressed me the most:

Dedicated antepartum unit, thoughtfully separated from the labor and delivery area. The antepartum unit includes a lounge with a kitchen and washer/dryer so that mothers facing long hospital stays while pregnant can wear their own clothes, eat meals with their families, and even host baby showers. (I got weepy over this.)

Private triage rooms. Seriously, people. With doors and everything. As a “frequent flier,” I know how uncomfortable it is to sit and listen to other people’s private and sometimes heartbreaking pregnancy issues with nothing but a thin cloth curtain for privacy. (Example, while in triage getting a dose of terbutaline at 32 weeks with my first son, a woman next to me came in six-months pregnant having no idea she was pregnant. “I’m gonna need a cigarette,” she said.)
Kangaroo care immediately following delivery will be the norm with all healthy deliveries. When my first son was born, I had to wait about ten minutes to see him close up. When my second son was born, my midwife placed him directly against my chest and I nursed him within the first few minutes of his life. I am thrilled to know that more moms will have this opportunity by default.

Valet parking and a dedicated entrance for moms in labor. Last year, I had to jump out of the car at the emergency room while my husband parked. I sat in a wheelchair, laboring with contractions coming hard and fast. An old homeless man in the ER waiting room turned and said, “Excuse me, do you have the time?” Yeah. I’ll take the valet parking!

The NICU will be one floor above the Baby Place. Currently, moms have a 10 minute wheelchair ride to visit their babies in the NICU. Baby Place is located within the new All Children’s Hospital building. Parents with babies in the NICU will now be able to visit without being discharged or having to travel from one building to another. Many of my friends have faced varying amounts of time in the NICU, and I’m so relieved that the moms delivering at Baby Place will be as close to their babies as possible in the days following delivery.
This was not a sponsored post. However, I do accept payment in the forms of pumpkin butter, hugs and thoughtful commentary.

rambling uncomfortable thoughts on social media, part eleventy billion

I’m going to admit something here because I’m pretty sure others feel the same:

When people who bug me go on sponsored trips or act as brand ambassadors, I end up feeling irrationally annoyed toward the companies they’re representing.

I may even become less likely to purchase that product.

It isn’t about jealousy (can we just be done attributing criticism to jealousy?) or wanting the free stuff they’re getting. It’s simply that I end up associating that product/service with the negative/uncomfortable/blah feelings I have toward the individual and then want nothing to do with either entity.

(The same goes for celebrity spokespeople. I’m looking at you, Brooke Sheilds car commercials.)

Sometimes my feelings are well-grounded and sometimes they’re petty. I don’t see any use in pretending that all of us totally love every other blogger out there.

In the same vein, when people I like or respect (or feel neutral toward) tweet or write about a brand, I’m much more likely to read, research, buy. Even if they were ambivalent when reviewing the product.

So don’t get me wrong, I believe influence exists and that it can be a powerful tool for PR reps and brand reps. And I believe if something ends up on our radar often enough—even annoyingly so—we’re more likely to choose that brand than another.

(I bought a book the other day within ten minutes of Halushki raving about it on Twitter.)

But I wonder, lately, if some of the Twitter and blog campaigns I’ve seen have caused as many people to be annoyed towards a brand as they have influenced people to buy that brand. Or are the annoyed people just anticipated side effects that companies don’t mind as long as the name is getting out there?

I’m not saying anything should change, but man it’s a crazy scene.

Then there’s this other thing:

Recently, bloggers (mom-and-otherwise) have been getting criticized for not writing negative reviews.

I don’t think review bloggers should have to write scathing reviews of stuff they don’t like to maintain or establish credibility. But I do believe that reviews should list pros and cons as often as possible, when applicable. Once in a while I love something so much I honestly can’t think of a single negative quality. But most of the time there are a few things I wish a company could change, or that I didn’t love. (Oftentimes it’s the price tag.)

Review blogs and bloggers aren’t all the same, despite what the media likes to paint a portrait of. (You know, the SAHM coupon-cutting freebie-loving entrepreneurial-ish Mommy Blogger with a vector illustration on her header. Yes, that blogger exists—but she isn’t representative of everyone. And she isn’t necessarily a problem.)

Back to review-blogger-diversity. Here’s an example: I can’t imagine seeing bad reviews at Cool Mom Picks. It isn’t Cool Mom Picks and Pans. I enjoy visiting that blog because I know I’m always going to read about some nifty eye candy. On the other hand, if I’m visiting a blog about electronics, I definitely want to know what not to buy. Each situation needs to be approached with the proper context in mind.

(And hey, companies should spend a few minutes reading several posts, reading About pages and getting a sense of what a blog’s mission is before pitching. Should Johnson & Johnson pitch a green parenting blog? No. Should Bugaboo pitch a frugal living blog? No.)

Another reason I don’t think review bloggers should be expected to write full on negative reviews is that when bloggers—especially mom bloggers with a circle of influence—complain, they are frequently criticized for starting a pile-on. For gathering their posse. For bitching. Whatever. It gets nasty quickly. Particularly if Twitter is involved. The negativity and finger-pointing quickly shift toward the person who originally complained.

It’s impossible to control an avalanche once it starts. And I think it’s reasonable to be wary of that potential outcome. Critics already think that Mommy Bloggers have only two operating modes: bitching about shit and trying to get free shit.

So some people avoid saying “I didn’t like this” or “watch out for this janky product” or “man, this customer service sucks,” simply out of fear of retaliation, harassment or being called a bitch. (Which hey, hurts!) I’m super sensitive to being called an asshole on the Internet, and I know I can’t be the only asshole person who feels that way.

(I’m aware that I spoke out against the way Dooce handled her Maytag situation, and I stand by my reaction. I still believe there’s a difference between saying “This was my shitty experience with _______” and “DO NOT BUY _______.”)

I have very few suggestions here, and I don’t think the answers are cut and dry. As much as I honestly hate this prolonged and endless and oftentimes unpleasant conversation, I know it has to keep happening. Just as I know that we have to continue doing what we believe in doing.

The only positive point, to me, is seeing how many intelligent bloggers are out there chiming in.

I know these marketing conversations have been a major part of media exposure regarding mom bloggers. (The FTC is after moms! Bloggers will do anything for a free trip and some canned food! Swag whores hate babies!) But I hope we don’t lose sight of all the other good things we use social media for just because those good things aren’t newsworthy to people who don’t understand us.

My boner manifesto. (And by my boner, I mean my imagination. Obviously.)

Last night I did a radical thing. I walked over to the bookshelf in our “grownup room” and grabbed my favorite novel, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. I hadn’t opened it in over five years. I sat down on my glider and feathered the pages. I began reading.

My weekly diet of Top Chef and Gossip Girl and the Thursday Night Trifecta of Hilarity don’t exactly answer all my imaginative yearnings. My relationship with entertainment has been dulled by the same old thing.

(Now I’ve tasked myself with injecting spontaneity and romance into my marriage and my various forms of escapism? Awesome.)

But the complaints and excuses are similar. Not enough sleep, not enough time, too much stress. Hard to get a babysitter. Still nursing.

I’ve missed several films I wanted to see. They’re in that limbo between theaters and DVD release, languishing on dollar-theater screens in shoddy strip malls. And no, I’m not going there.

My pile of books-to-read eyeball me from beside my computer desk. They’re judging me. Really, they ask. People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly? (But, I argue, I had to get that Entertainment subscription, Anissa’s cute son was selling them—and it’s not my fault my mom drops People Magazines on every non-porous surface of my house! Plus I need them to poop!)

The complaints and excuses are just as empty. Really, if I wanted to badly enough, I could manage to schedule time to see Inglourious Basterds and Where the Wild Things Are and Bright Star and Zombieland. I could choose to work on my short story instead of clicking around the Internet listlessly or screwing around on Twitter. I could choose to settle down with a book instead of Project Runway.

I think it’s time to recharge and remember how to read, and hopefully in turn, remember how to write. I think it’s time to get my butt over to the movie theater more often. I know it’s time to get the rusty old imagination cranking again.

Of all the silly things, my fictional List of Five really reminded me how much I love losing myself in fiction. I’m not that discriminating. I love being wooed by a gorgeous turn of phrase, but I’m just as excited by a girlish crush or a heartbreaking moment. (I won’t be deleting my season pass of Gossip Girl. Um, for example.)

When it comes to my writing, I just want to enjoy myself—and if I can bring even just one other person along for the ride, I’m happy.

(Give yourself love and understanding, my therapist reminds me. So uh, when I set these goals, however small, for myself, I also try to give myself some wiggle room. Not an out, but an acknowledgement that holy crap we’re on the high speed incline toward Christmas. NEVERTHELESS, I shall from here on vary up my means of entertainment, distraction, and wooby love.)

Starting with re-reading my favorite novel. On paper. In my pants hands.

Girl Talk Thursday – List of Five (Fictional Character Edition)

Okay so it was hard (heh heh) enough listing my List of Five a couple of months ago. But fictional list of five? Nearly impossible. I have a super overactive imagination. I’ve been obsessing over cute boys (and girls) in films and books for literally as long as I can remember. And when I say obsess I mean I am seriously not fucking around—we’re talking full on fanfiction writing, getting rides to the library before the Internet existed, and listening to Broadway musicals on huge stereo headphones way past my bedtime in high school.

Here’s what I came up with before my head exploded:

Madmartigan: Probably my first crush. I think this character spontaneously caused me to hit puberty. I remember blushing when Willow was on. My mom teased me and I flew off the handle like “WHATEVER, SHUT UP I JUST LIKE THIS MOVIE.” I think was ten. I’m pretty sure Madmartigan influenced my love for trashy long-haired characters in eyeliner and men in tattered dresses and swordfighting and snarky dudes who are secretly great fathers. Just sayin.

Doc Holiday: Seriously, Val Kilmer again? Embarrassing. So yes, I would catch many diseases and die if I actually slept with Doc Holiday. But would it be worth it? Maybe. He is witty, deadly, and totally made consumption hot somehow. Unfortunately I’m pretty sure that he only wants to do Wyatt Earp and not me but man, I’d roll for Doc Holiday. When he’s all, “you’re not wearin’ a bustle” I die. True story: one time my best friend and I, when we were like 14, pretty much nearly got kicked out of a youth group meeting for giggling the entire time about Tombstone. I don’t even know. This character causes a scary short circuit in my brain.

Chuck Bass: This is so shameful. At least the character is over eighteen now! I can’t help it. I love Chuck. I love his stupid metrosexual wardrobe and his sleepy eyes and his pervitude and his rich boy bad attitude and his secret vulnerable woobie love for Blair Waldorf. I love his snark and the chip on his shoulder and his love affair with speakeasies. I would do him in the back of a limo. And then I’d cry about it. I love you Chuck.

Alan Shore: Even if he’s gotten kind of poofy in his older-age, James Spader absolutely destroys me as Alan Shore. He has a heart of gold, a bad-boy streak, crazy intellect, weird mommy-issues and an insatiable sex drive. He would spank me, and I would like it. I love that he isn’t afraid to make an idiot out of himself. I love that he always wins. I love that he will do anything for his best friend. I would definitely measure his pants for him. I miss Boston Legal.

Han Solo: Han Solo is up there with Madmartigan in regards to majorly influencing my opinion of dudes when I was a little girl. For example, it’s hot when dudes have a sense of humor about having the shit beat out of them. It’s hot when dudes are in love with a janky vehicle. It’s hot when a dude loves his dog best friend Wookie. It’s hot when a dude is encased in carbonite and then wakes up and is all shaky and confused but is clearly majorly in love with the girl he’s been snarking at. It’s hot when a scrubby guy cleans up and wears a military uniform. You know, inspecfic things liket hat.

Runner Up List: (I HAD TO, SHUT UP.) Ned the Pie Man, Giles from Buffy, Spike from Buffy, Severus Snape, Tumnus (don’t look at me like that), Robin from Disney’s Robin Hood, Richard St. Veir from Swordspoint, Tim Riggins, Gambit from the X-Men, Sawyer from Lost, Don Juan Demarco, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid preferably at the same time, Ferris Bueller, Sorcha from Willow, Ari Gold, Jesse Custer from Preacher, Justin from The Secret of NIMH, Judas Iscariot as portrayed in Jesus Christ Superstar, Simon Tam, Jim Halpert, Inigo Montoya, Rhett Butler, Indiana Jones before he was old and sucky, Malcolm Reynolds, Fox Mulder, Jack Sparrow, Remus Lupin, Jareth from The Labyrinth, and Batman.

love today, and always, Maddie

Today is Madeline Spohr’s second birthday.

Birthdays should be full of joy. It shatters me that for Mike and Heather, November 11th will always be a reminder of what should have been.

Today I will celebrate the mornings I opened my browser and clicked over to The Spohrs Are Multiplying and grinned and giggled over stories of Maddie and photos of Maddie. I will celebrate all her milestones and her love and strength. I will celebrate the impact she made on thousands of people. I will celebrate the everlasting love her parents have for her.

I think of Maddie every day. I think of her parents and the grace with which they have honored their daughter every day.

Today I celebrate the life of Madeline Alice Spohr. Will you light a candle, or eat a cream puff, or wear purple or simply love with all your heart today, for Maddie?

but I don’t mind, no I don’t mind

In high school, I hated mornings. I hated driving to school. I hated being there. I hated spending Sunday dreading the upcoming week, and I hated Mondays the most. The only joy I found was in blaring Fleetwood Mac’s Monday Morning and singing along at the top of my lungs. I’d roll the windows down and I’d think about how Lindsay Buckingham’s voice made my tummy all squiggly. (You’d think this was 1976, but no, it was 1997.)

**

I went to the beach on Saturday with Izzymom and her beautiful children. My son held hands with her son. We spent three and a half hours together and didn’t mention the Internet once. (To be fair, we were wrangling kids most of the time.) But still.

**

Feeling disjointed. I have a sore throat. Beef stew in the crock pot — the house smells like sage and salty broth. My girls are coming for Thanksgiving. I planned meals again this week. The baby got his first skinned knee today. I reconnected with an old friend this afternoon. I’m going to work on my fiction again. I want to bake a pie. My girls are coming for Thanksgiving and they’ll center me and for a few days our family-nouveau will be whole and for that, I am so very thankful.