Sunday, December 14, 2014

Out of the Blog Fog

The last half of the fall semester was so demanding that blogging did not take any kind of priority for us. Now it seems that we have been gifted with a little slice of calm vacation time in which we can catch up on our journaling. But, since we have been so negligent, we will update in categorized bullet points (categorizing brings joy to my Virgo heart):

What we are up to NOW:
  • Waiting for baby Tibbs: Yes, I am still pregnant at 41 weeks and 2 days. No, nothing is wrong and I am not considered post term until 42 weeks. Baby and I are healthy. And Tim and I feel grateful to be forced to learn life lessons about surrendering control while we wait for our sweet, strong-willed baby to choose his/her own birthday.
  • Nesting in at home: Tim is on vacation from school so he could be home with me and the baby. Well, it turns out what we really needed was for him to just be home with me. We have been able to spend wonderful quality time together before we expand to be a family of three. We have decorated and shopped for Christmas, fully prepared the baby room and clothes and cloth diapers, made a dent on our Netflix cue, listened to podcasts, and enjoyed lazy, sleepy mornings together while the winter cold and storms crept into Sacramento.
  • Kicking it: It has been such a blessing to spend this last week with my mom, who is on vacation (also taken in the hopes of being able to help with baby), and my brother, who is back from Costa Rica. The four of us have had an amazing opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, play board games, cook, bake Christmas cookies go for walks and watch movies together. Yay for family time! 
What we WERE up to in October and November:
  • Moot court: I competed in the Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, which involved working with an indescribably awesome partner to research and write an appellate brief and then practice for oral arguments and perform the arguments in front of practicing lawyers and judges in the competition. My partner and I spent probably 40+ hours in the library over the course of one long weekend before the brief was due and at least that much time working on the arguments. And, our hard work paid off as we won the second best brief award and only missed qualifying for the final rounds by .1 of a point.
  • Lesson plans and sub plans: Tim spent countless hours last month making huge binders full of resources for the substitute teacher who is taking over his classroom for the 5 weeks of school he will miss. He will be home full time for 7 weeks all told, but luckily 2 of those are the school Christmas break so he didn’t have to make plans for those weeks.
  • Prenatal appointments and birth classes: We finished our 10 week natural childbirth class, in which we were equipped with some skills and knowledge to help us survive through the last trimester and trials of childbirth. Our class was empowering and had the added bonus of connecting us with some like-minded couples who have had/will be having babies soon. It was a great way to kick-start a network of parents with whom we can give and get support throughout this crazy new adventure.

What we will be up to SOON:
  • A homebirth: Ever since we knew I was pregnant we knew we wanted to have our baby at home if it was medically safe for us to do so. Since baby and I are, and have been, healthy throughout the pregnancy and there are no risk factors involved, we are all set for me to labor and deliver our child at home. We are under the care of, and will be attended by a license nurse midwife who is partnered with an OB/GYN. (And, to put any nervous minds at ease, we live 2 blocks and one stop light away from the nearest hospital in the unlikely case of any unforeseen, emergent situation.) We are sincerely looking forward to welcoming our baby into the world in the comfort of our cozy home under the soft light of our Christmas tree and warmth of the fire in the hearth. 
  • Adventures in cloth diapers: After doing research into the economics and ecological pros and cons of different kinds of diapers, we decided that we want to use cloth for our little one. We have diligently been watching YouTube videos about how to prep, wash, change, and cover cloth diapers. It seems like the simplest, cheapest method for the daunting task that will consume hours upon hours of our lives in the very near future.
  •  Holidays with friends and family: Depending when this baby arrives and how we are coping with figuring out how to keep a tiny, tiny human alive and happy our holiday plans are up in the air. We hope to spend Christmas Eve with family in Santa Rosa but we may just hunker in at home and have family come to us. Who knows? At this point we do know that we will have a visit from Tim’s mom who will be helping us out with baby the day after Christmas and a visit from our spectacularly dedicated posse of friends around New Year’s Eve time. We are so looking forward to spending this first holiday surrounded by some of our favorite people who we know will love and support us and the baby, even if we are in the throes of sleep-deprived, befuddled new parenthood.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Defining Moments.

Recently, Chelsea’s younger brother left to Costa Rica to work on a sustainable, biodynamic farm. It’s a three month commitment, and who knows what he will choose to do once he through with his internship. I only bring this up because in the week before he left he stayed with us and the weeks prior to that he was staying in his childhood home, the same place Chelsea’s mother left a few weeks before when she moved around the corner from us. I remember thinking how great it was that he spent some time on his own, getting that experience of working and living day-to-day without anyone to answer too.

This led me down the wild track where I started thinking about how each of us forms our identities. I thought about my experiences and then I thought about how my own child will have those same moments. Granted, not the same exact moments, but he/she will have those moments that will hold that same defining significance.

I left my childhood home when I was 19 to go to University of California, San Diego (UCSD). I left and never really returned. My home is still there; my dad still lives there and it will always be “home” and I still visit. But now it is my “childhood home”, distinct and different from my own home that I am building now with Chelsea and Bibbs. Skimming down the lanes between memory and nostalgia, I reflect back to when I first moved away. When I started at UCSD I felt good, independent. I never regretted leaving home and I never really remember thinking I wanted to go back to the life I had in Oxnard. Oxnard is a great place and most of my immediate family is still there, but homesickness never really entered my psyche.   Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t have those moments that many new university students have of missing my parents, brother, cousins, etc. And I attribute it to the moments I had before moving to the city where I spent the next ten years of my life.

Growing up I used to read a lot (I still wish I could read half as much as I did when I was younger!). I read fantasy books, young adult novels, poetry, and a few of the classics. I primarily read fantasy, though, and I had a fascination of different worlds, dragons, castles, knights, dwarves, elves, fairies, magi, mages, and so on (mayhap I have told you how I am still writing that fantasy novel that’s been burning inside of me or maybe not). I also had a wonderful high school history teacher and an amazing English teacher who opened my eyes to the possibilities of historical facts and the power of great literature. Well, this obsession with fantasy, history, and literature led me to be fascinated with the Middle Ages and Europe.

One of the first defining moments I remember is when my history teacher (we were his first World History Honor’s class…so we had a special place in his heart) arranged to have a 30-day trip through EF tours from London to Greece the summer after we graduated from high school (July 2000). We still had to pay something but since it was an organized tour the fee we paid included the round-trip plane ticket, breakfasts, dinners, lodgings, and transportation for those 30 days.  Needless to say, I jumped on the opportunity and cadged my parents relentlessly until they agreed to let me go. Reflecting back with my adult sensibilities I realize they must have worked really hard to put together the money for me to have this opportunity, and it is still one of the most memorable trips of my life.

I kept a journal those 30 days (stories to come?), and I have not really read it since I wrote the pages down, but I know the experience of trans-Atlantic travel, spending 30 days with 17 of my classmates (including the classmates I was closest too in high school), and this amazing history teacher (who still is on my Facebook feed today), and limited adult supervision (and no parental supervision) prepared me for the shock, or at least assuaged it, of moving away permanently from my childhood home. A rite of passage if you will (that’s for you Sampa per our conversation the other day!). I felt confident moving away, I felt secure. Don’t get me wrong I did not become who I am today because of that trip, but it was just one of those defining moments that helped shape my identity. Maybe I would go so far as to say this trip was the impetus that led to my independent nature, my fascination with history and literature (I ended up majoring in both of those at UCSD), my desire to travel, to study abroad, to go to Peace Corps, all of these moments that followed came from that one 30 day trip, but I also know my own upbringing had something to do with it too.

My parents allowed me a lot of responsibility and independence as I went through high school. They trusted me and helped me experience different things the best way they could, small moments, large moments, all…just…moments. I am sure acting and performing in drama helped me come out of my shell as well, also playing soccer and going to plays and experiencing art. Each piece is part of who I am today; we are not whole when we come out of the womb, but it’s those defining moments that make us.

Coming full circle I am so happy for Chels’ brother to have the experience of moving away and having those defining moments himself. And it makes me wonder (and hope) that 30 years from now I could be possibly reading a similar post from Bibbs about the moments, about the experiences, extolling what he/she experienced as well as the amazingness of his/her parents.    

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.