Sunday, September 28, 2014

A whirlwind of change


  There are days when I marvel at the brain’s capacity to compartmentalize what seems like a million unrelated things, hold on to a to-do list a mile long and still keep the body functioning and healthy. In the last few weeks, I pushed my little brain to the max. I was under two stressful deadlines for school and one deadline to complete a post-graduate fellowship application. This, plus school would have been manageable if it was all I had to do. However, the timing also happened to coincide with the weekend that my mom was moving into her new house nearby, the same time that my midwife appointments started being scheduled every two weeks, instead of 1 month, and our birth class started meeting once a week.

The first challenge of the last few weeks was to meet the deadline to submit an application for a two-year, post-graduate fellowship. I had spent the summer brainstorming a project proposal to submit to a competitive non-profit fellowship grant program. If I am accepted, I will be funded to work for two years at a local Sacramento non-profit implementing the project I designed. The gist of the project goal is to aid in dismantling the pipelines that funnel undocumented immigrant juveniles in Sacramento and the Central Valley through a harsh juvenile justice system and into deportation proceedings by providing direct legal services to undocumented youth probationers and education to law enforcement. It would be a real challenge but an honor to be selected to carry out this project. But I won’t know if I am selected until the spring. In the meantime, I still have to pass my classes and try to graduate.

So after I got my grant turned in I had to focus on my school related workload for Moot Court and my Professional Responsibility class. Both the Moot Court competition brief and the PR midterm were on Monday. I loved writing the brief, because I am nerd and love to write, but I wish I had had more time to devote to it. When I am writing briefs, I like to spend time crafting the most persuasive arguments, down to each precise sentence. Even though my partner and I spent probably 48 hours in the library between Thursday and Monday night (no joke, we practically lived in the library), at the end it still felt so rushed to get all the formatting done right. We didn’t have time to make it perfect. Perhaps we didn’t make it perfect, but we did get it done. And somehow in between the writing and editing madness I managed to study for, and probably even pass my PR midterm. It was not the easiest week I have had in law school.

Then, in the midst of all this madness, my mom was making the biggest (and only!) move she has made in the last 17 years. She packed up her house in Santa Cruz and moved up to Sacramento for a new job and a new adventure. Mom always said that when I have kids she wants to be nearby. She values having a close-knit family and wants to be involved with her grandbabies on a regular basis. She had been talking about moving up here since Tim and I came to Sacramento and so, when we told her that we are having a baby in December, she started planning for the move. It has been a hard transition for her to leave her hometown, her job and her friends, so, over the course of the last few weeks, I have tried to make it as easy as I could by helping her move and get settled. Two moving vans full of furniture and boxes and innumerable trips to Target and Home Depot later, she is fully moved in and has her bedroom, kitchen and bathroom mostly unpacked. It is a beautiful house, so cozy and welcoming, and it is only 127 steps away from my house (Tim counted). We are going to have a ton of fun as neighbors!

As if all this weren’t enough, Tim and I have been attending a natural childbirth class once a week for the last five weeks to get ourselves ready for the arrival of baby Tibbs. Although, ‘attending’ isn’t really the right word since we are hosting the class at our house. It actually works out pretty great. Three other couples and the instructor come over on Monday evenings for a few hours and we are enjoying the support group of other expecting couples and learning a ton.

Also, because I am 30 weeks along in the pregnancy, we have had more frequent visits with our midwife. Even in all the hustle and bustle, I love taking time to check in on the baby. When I hear the healthy little heartbeat on the Doppler, I remember why I push myself so hard. It seems crazy, since I don’t even know this little human yet, but I want so much to make a comfortable life full of opportunities for our baby. I want this child to grow up looking up to parents who work hard to make the world a better place in our jobs and take time at home to play, laugh, explore. And I want this baby to be surrounded by family and friends and a community to teach him/her their own skills and lessons. Even though we may have been in a whirlwind these last few weeks, things are starting to fall into place. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A (soon-to-be) Father’s Journey: A Perspective on 27 Weeks

So it has almost been 27 weeks since Chelsea has been pregnant and been 23 weeks since she found out. It’s been a curious journey of ups-and-downs, sideways, and elation. When she first told me I knew it was true, but there was a strange disconnection. We had tried for so many months previous that the fact that it actually happened was difficult to wrap my head around. Chelsea wasn’t showing…it could almost be as if the baby wasn’t there.

The turning point, though, was the heartbeat. I had been to the previous prenatal appointment, I smiled and listened attentively taking on the mantra, “You’re just having a baby. You’re just having a baby.” What baby? But it was that second appointment that threw my world for a loop. The midwife took the Doppler and searched around Chelsea’s abdomen, there was the strong whoosh, whoosh of Chelsea’s heart and then, finally, the swiftly beating heart of another being. They beat in counter syncopation: Chelsea’s steady and strong whoosh, whoosh while Bibb’s heart beat in a rapid whish, whish, whish, whish. For every beat of Chelsea’s heart the baby’s beat twice. It was stunning. My jaw dropped, my heart exploded with pure joy: there’s someone in there! Then, of course, all my insecurities and inadequacies came to the forefront of my mind, but they were beat back with words of encouragement from Chels. Moreover, the utterance of the mantra “You’re just having a baby. You’re just having a baby…” took on new meaning. I mean, we are having a baby!

We kept it secret for two more weeks, and then came out to our friends. (Who, most, of course, knew it was happening already. We are not the most furtive of people!).

This is where Chelsea’s story diverges from mine. Bibbs continued to grow and after a few weeks Chelsea began to feel Bibbs moving around. She’d break out in short outburst of “Whoo! Whoa, baby!” and I would curiously look at her and ask “Is everything alright?” She would respond, “Yes, Baby is just moving around a bit.” At this statement I would eagerly place my hand on her stomach and, in vain, feel for the baby, but to no avail. For Chelsea the baby has been real for a long time. She came to that understanding much quicker than me. She began to feel the baby move on a daily basis and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. For me, though I knew the baby was there, the physical contact was lacking. I could not feel Bibbs as Chelsea felt Bibbs. All I had was the existential awareness that Chelsea was growing before my eyes and every week looking more and more pregnant.

Another turning point: feeling the baby move. As Bibbs continued to grow, I would constantly attempt to feel for Bibbs.  One particular night, we were lying on our couch, doing our routine of watching a few of our shows before we went to bed when Chelsea said, “Bibbs is active tonight, come feel right here.” She guided my hand to spot right above the waistline of her standard yoga pants. I felt. I concentrated. “Is that it?” I felt a small pulse. “No,” she replied, “I think that’s my heart.” But I was patient and kept my hand there. Something very light pressed against my hand. A tingle journeyed from my palm and exploded throughout my body.  Euphoria. I couldn’t help but smile. It was such outlandish feeling, this pressure from Chelsea’s belly to my palm, but it gave me such a euphoric sensation. That’s my baby!

I wasn’t able to feel Bibbs as much as Chelsea could after this point, but as the weeks progressed I felt Bibbs more and more. I was constantly reading to Bibbs and Chelsea before we went to sleep, and lying next to her, I had one hand on my Ipad (where the book was) and one hand on her belly. As I began to read aloud, Bibbs would move and I would feel the kicks or punches or whatever part of the baby was pressing against her at that instance. Also, I would come home from work and as I was telling my tale, the baby would be active as if welcoming me home or as if baby was excited to hear my voice. At this moment in time the baby can hear both of us talk. It’s a profound realization.

I can feel Bibbs every day now. I can place my hand on Chelsea’s belly and feel the outline of certain parts of Bibbs (what part? I have no idea!). In the morning, as I am about to get out of bed and ready for work, I can place my hand over Chelsea’s stomach, and while she is asleep, feel the baby move, as if Bibbs is saying good morning just to me. Every time I experience even an inkling of that movement it reminds me of the amazingness that is to come.  It not only fills me with this sense of bliss but it also fills me with the awareness of our responsibility.

And even though there is still a physical barrier between us, the emotional bonds have already been formed and solidified. I can’t wait to meet this little person some 12 or 13 weeks hence!

What baby? Bibbs, of course!  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Entering the last year of my 20s

A 3D peek at what Bibbs looked like at 23 weeks, and Tim Tibbs at 4 days old. Any resemblance?
Not much to say (or much time to write today). After a whirlwind trip down to Santa Barbara and Oxnard two weekends ago, for a beautiful wedding of my dear friend and a 3D ultrasound as a gift from my mother-in-law, I am back in school full swing and staying busy as ever. I am only taking two classes that have exams (Professional Responsibility and Criminal Procedure). But in addition to those classes, my participation in Moot Court (both as a team member and the Executive Chair) demands a lot of work from me too. My Moot Court competition is in mid-October and the brief is due in mid-September so I am already up to my eyeballs in research for that. I have filled up the rest of the units for this semester by taking a clerkship for credit at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in the Legal Division. I have only had two days of work so far but I think that I am really going to like working with a government agency that investigates discrimination claims and advocates for people who have been wronged by employers and landlords. I’ll write more about what I am doing there once I figure that out myself. 

This week I have been thinking about the fact that on Tuesday I will be turning 29. As I think forward to all the things that I get to experience and accomplish in my 29th year I feel eager and excited and a smidgen scared. While I am 29 I will give birth to my first child, finish law school, take and pass the bar, and get my first job as a real, grown-up lawyer. Okay, so I might be counting my chickens…but I like to be optimistic and manifest the things I want in my future. Some things are certain, like the rapidly approaching birth of Bibbs, and some things are less certain, like the passing the bar and finding a job. But I know that each of these moments that will get to experience before I turn 30 are opportunities to cherish. 

And now, some snapshots before the wedding and, of course, more of Bibbs: 

Helping the bride with flower arrangements and making boutineers.

My gorgeous friends!

Bibbs is quite the yogi.

Sweet baby face! We are So excited to meet him/her.

Already being dramatic and hamming for the camera. "Oh, woe is me, being a fetus is so difficult..."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Year to Come.

The alarm clock blares, the morning light seeps through the blinds, and it’s Monday. Work is back on, plans must be made, papers corrected, and meetings attended. 10 to 12 hour days will commence again and weekends will be a slight respite, but work still needs to be done.  
For the last two weeks I’ve been back at work. The week before last I was traveling to Stockton for Common Core Training and last week was a quick teacher’s retreat and some on campus professional development, with some Teacher Work Days thrown in the mix. However, students returned again last Thursday and came ready to rock this year.
I have started my second year at my school site and I couldn’t be happier. The summer was a necessary break where I was able to develop some materials at my own pace, relax, and find Myself again. Chelsea and I were able to take advantage of our summer schedules and visited the river, our families, and some lost friends who’ve been on our minds, but been so busy to take time and visit. It was a great summer and I think we took full advantage of it.
I am really excited to be going into my third year of teaching in Sacramento and know that I have gotten better every year.  I am teaching the older students, 10th-12th, and it’s where I think I should be. 

Before the Color Run
AFTER the colorful madness

It’s been a fun filled last two weeks. Chelsea’s mom came down last weekend and we ran The Color Run and then she helped organize the “guest-room--and-office-sometimes--turned-nursery” into an awesome space that looks like it is  not only  comfy for our guests (since guests can still sleep there), but also looks like it’s almost ready for a baby. This is appropriate since in a few weeks the second trimester will be over and Chels will be 2/3 of her way through the pregnancy! Wow! So close it’s been a magical time so far and there is still more to go. It will be interesting working and watching Chelsea progress through the last stage of this phenomenal moment of our lives. I plan on using this first half of the school year working on my life-work balance so when Little Bibbs comes I want to be able to spend as much time as I can with this incredible being.   
Moreover, our old Peace Corps compatriot, Annie, drove down on Sunday and spent part of the day at the River with us and Toast. It was a treat to see her since we live so close (only about 1.5 hours away), but we all are so busy so we haven’t made time to visit each other. We plan on remedying that in a few weeks when we go visit her.  
Then last Thursday (yes the same day the students came for their first day of school) Chelsea’s brother came down and we drove to San Francisco to see one of our favorite bands, Rx Bandits. Granted it was a school night, but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. Friday was a little rough, but the show was great and I was introduced to a new band and danced a little bit the rocking sounds of Rx B. No regrets. Totally worth it. 
The year to come has some great potential and some really life changing moments (the baby and Chelsea graduating, for example) and I know with the positive energy I am feeling now, and true satisfaction I feel in my life at this moment, it can only continue to be magnificent. There will be rough patches, for sure, but there is always smooth sailing after and I can’t wait for it to happen.
Our message to Bibbs at the end of Week 22.

Monday, July 28, 2014

So this couple, a pup, and a fetus go for a drive…

Last weekend Tim, Toast, and I drove down to Oxnard to visit the Tibbses and our So Cal friends. I found out that the six-hour drive is a lot more difficult when you are five months pregnant. It isn’t as easy to sit comfortably in a car for long stretches as it used to be. But Tim made the drive pleasant by reading to me (and Bibbs). He learned that the baby can hear his voice so he started reading us a novel – the Dresden Files. It is a very entertaining story about a modern day wizard who solves crime in Chicago. Bibbs apparently loves to hear Tim’s voice because I can feel baby kicks and flutters every time he reads aloud. It is cool! Toast is generally ambivalent to Tim’s orations.

It is amazing how many things we managed to cram into one busy, fun-filled weekend! Mostly, we enjoyed the beautiful warmth of the Southern California summer with family. We played beach volleyball with Tim’s brother and niece (who is trying out for the freshman volleyball team when she starts high school next year) and splashed around in the ocean. We brunched with the in-laws and caught them up with all our baby related news. Everyone is so excited that we are adding to the Tibbs clan! We took Tim’s pop out to a movie, which was luxurious, since the two of us haven’t had time to see many of the summer blockbusters. 
On Friday we had dinner with some of Tim’s oldest friends. They have a 14th month old so we got another preview into what life with a baby will look like. It was especially interesting to watch Toast interact with a baby. We were nervous but she did really great! Sometimes she wanted to play with the baby so she would go into the downward dog bow position and then started running away to get the baby to chase her. The baby had no idea that the game worked that way and Toast got a little bored. Then Toast brought the baby her ball. She apparently wanted to teach the baby to play fetch but the baby didn’t get the idea that he was supposed to throw the ball. He would pick it up and Toast would wait patiently but the baby never threw it. Toast would nudge him gently but eventually gave up and came over to us. She seemed exasperated and, if we could read her mind, we think she would have told us, “That ‘puppy’ is either broken or stupid.”  Anyway, it was a hoot to see how she will do as a nanny dog. We are still planning on entering her into personal dog training starting next month though so we can rely on her to obey us 100% of the time when the baby comes, just to be safe. 
Tim and cousin Joey in a pic from 1994(?) found in an old photo album. What goobers! Some things never change...
Anyway, that night Tim and his cousin went to see his brother’s band play at the local bar (I stayed in because I am a lame, tired pregnant lady and didn’t want to be on my feet around cigarette smoke and drunk people). The boys had a great time without me and I got a wealth of advice from two experienced mom friends and then a great night’s sleep. It was good that I was well-rested because the next day we went to the Oxnard Salsa festival with our friends Heather and Jeff. The festival was such a fun event! It was a free fair that highlighted all things “salsa”. There was salsa music and dancing and, for only $5 we got a bag of chips and got to taste hundreds of gourmet salsas made by local restaurants and vendors. We had such a wide variety of salsas, everything from a sweet and mild strawberry to super hot habanero. It was, as Heather said, like wine tasting for pregnant ladies!

After our tatsebuds were fried off from the spice, we headed to Heather and Jeff’s house for the night. We got to meet their 4-month old puppy, Franklin. He is a cute pup and just loved Toast. The two dogs played all evening as we caught up with our friends. It was hilarious to watch Franklin follow Toast around everywhere and take cues from her, like Toast used to do with older dogs when she was a puppy. For example, Franklin didn’t know how to climb down the stairs in the house but after watching Toast do it a few times, and a little coaxing from us, he got the hang of it. Now Franklin is a pro at the stairs. 

They look almost the same size! Franklin "Beast" is going to be a big dog!
All in all it was a great weekend! Tim started back at work this week (teaching work days and professional development all week and the students come back next week). I am wrapping up work at the immigration law clinic and getting ready to start classes in mid-August. All that new school nonsense deserves a post in itself though.

And in brief, baby related news we saw Bibbs on an ultrasound a few weeks ago! All is healthy and well with the baby. We decided to wait to find out the sex of the baby until we meet him or her in person in four short months. Both baby and I are growing and doing well. Here is an updated Bibbs photo for your hilarity. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Short scenes of summer

This summer seems to be flying by. Before we know it, it will be mid-August and Tim and I will both be back in school. During the weeks, I have been working at the Immigration Law Clinic at school and taking summer school classes Monday through Thursday evenings. I am constantly busy, with real work, school work and work to prep for the upcoming year of Moot Court. Tim has been likewise busy, but in a different way. He is home for 5 weeks of summer “break” but, as anyone who knows a teacher knows, his break involves prepping and planning for next year. After we run-walk (I walk, then he goes farther for a run) in the mornings, he settles in for a day of reading the literature he will be teaching this upcoming year (Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, and Brave New World, among others). He has also been reading books on classroom management and teaching strategies and planning the first 6 weeks worth of lessons so he will be ready to go in early-August. So, as usual, the Tibbses stay busy, busy, busy.

However, this summer we decided that we needed to really make the most of every free moment and take advantage of this last summer that it will be just us two. So, almost every weekend (which are all three day weekends, since I don’t work or have class on Fridays), we make fun plans. Last weekend, for the Fourth of July we jam-packed so much into the weekend it was dizzying. On Friday my mom and her long-lost cousin, Josh, came to Sacramento. The four of us, and three of our friends went up the American River for an inner tube float with a BBQ picnic at the take out. When we got back to Sacramento, we joined our neighbors on our front lawn for a personal firework show. Since we weren’t allowed to have fireworks in Santa Cruz as a kid growing up, I was as excited by the thrill of lighting them off as much as our 7 year old neighbor was. Tim and I can imagine a future of lighting fireworks on future Fourths with Tibblet(s) in tow. Then, on Saturday, we headed to the Sonoma Valley to join Oma and Sampa to watch a show, a Broadway medley, in an open-air theater in Jack London State Park. We just love being outside these days! 

Last week, my dad came up to Sacramento for a visit and to watch the semi-final matches in what has proven to be one of the best World Cups ever (and also probably my sober-ist). This Mundial, Tim and I enjoyed watching almost every game, and wagering on the elimination round predictions (neither of us were right on, but Tim was closer this year). We aren’t quite sure what we will do with all the free time now that the tournament is over. Anyway, it was fun watching with dad since he is the one who introduced me to the love of futbol. I wonder what Tim will teach Bibbs to enjoy? 

This weekend, Tim and I drove up to Sea Ranch for a quiet weekend alone. It was lovely to be by the ocean and out of the Sacramento heat. We did what we normally do at our family’s house in Sea Ranch: read, hike, walk on the beach, nap, cook, read, write, and repeat. I got a lot of work checked off my to-do list and feel so super refreshed coming into this new week, which is good considering that in the next seven days we have an ultrasound appointment, an appointment with the midwife, school and work, a visit with my cousin Dallas and her kids who are visiting from Oregon, a wedding, a dinner date with friends, a baby shower, a brunch date, and hopefully a trip to visit more cousins in the central valley. Did I mention we are trying to have ALL the fun this summer? 

18 Weeks! Almost halfway there!

In the midst of summer fin, Toast helped us organize our file cabinet (our first step towards reorganizing the house to make room for the third Tibbs)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Law School Baby

Tim and I started talking about starting our family, and when would be a “good time” in our lives, when we were living in Guyana. I never thought I wanted kids until I had the chance to work in the health center and was surrounded by babies, mamas and pregnant women every day. I got to see first hand the joy and pride that being a parent brought to my clients. Tim has always wanted children and so when I told him I thought I was ready to have kids of our own he was excited. The only question we had then was when? When we joined the Peace Crops, the plan was always for me to go to law school right after. I had taken then LSAT before going overseas in preparation and was applying to schools when we began having the baby talk.

We began to discuss whether we should plan to wait until after I was finished with school or try to start our family while I was in law school. On the one hand, waiting would mean I would be working and bringing in income when there was another Tibbs to take care of. On the other hand, if we waited I would be over thirty and Tim would be thirty-four when we had our first child. This would certainly not be unheard of, but we like the idea of getting a Tibbs clan started a little earlier in life. Plus, in all likelihood, we wouldn’t have tried to get pregnant immediately after I was out of law school since I would like to work and build some credibility in my first real lawyer job before we had to ask for maternity leave.

Were we crazy to think that we could handle the pressures of law school and our first baby? Well, like with most decisions in our lives, we decided to do some research before we made a big decision. I spent some time online, googling around to see if I could find any advice. Were there any other women who had had babies in law school and, if so, what were their experiences and advice? After a little time online, I found a group of attorney mama bloggers who shared their stories about having their babies in law school. It was great to learn from these women that, with discipline, sacrifice and teamwork, it is doable.

So, with the inspiration of women who had come before, we decided to go for it. We may be crazy, but a law school baby is in the works. I only have one more year of law school to go and the timing works out so that I will be able to finish my fall semester before the baby comes. If the baby comes on time, I will have 5 weeks at home with Tim and the baby during Christmas break. Then, in mid-January, I’ll go back to school to finish my third year and graduate on time. I am taking summer school presently so that my spring semester will be light. I will only be taking 3 evening classes a week, which means I will be able to be home with the baby during the daytime. Then, when I have to go to class in the evening, Tim will be home to take over baby duty.

Although I am confident that Tim and I have a good plan I still sometimes wonder if this is a “good time” for us to have a baby. We aren’t homeowners and we still have student loan debt. But then again, is there ever a time that we will feel ready emotionally and financially? I doubt it. And it is encouraging to know that we are not in this alone. We will have the support of my mom, who is planning on moving up to Sacramento, and our family and friends, who are all so excited for baby Bibbs. I know this law school baby will be raised not only by us, but by our village of teachers, lawyers, nurses, young professionals and old parenting pros. So maybe we aren’t so crazy after all… 

As a bonus, here is a picture of me at 16 weeks. Even though Toast wanted in the picture, the Bibbs bump is still pretty visible!