Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SPT: The Child I Didn't Bear

One day shy of five years ago, I had an abortion. I was seventeen years old and a senior in high school.

As soon as I began to suspect I was pregnant, I knew I did not want to continue the pregnancy. That surprised me somewhat as I had always felt vaguely anti-abortion, and had always wanted to be a mother.

But I decided to terminate the pregnancy. I told no one other than my boyfriend that I was pregnant. After I had the procedure done, I felt so relieved.

Apparently a lot of women can have an abortion and not feel any long-lasting emotional effects. I am not one of them. A few months after the abortion, in the dark of January, I was hit with grief and remorse. I mourned hard for months, for years even. The medical community does not recognize Post Abortion Stress Syndrome as a real disorder, and the pro-choice movement says it is something made up by the anti-abortion side, but I experienced it all the same. I found an online support group and just realizing that so many other people had the same conflicting mess of feelings and thoughts that I did lightened my mind a lot. I began to be able to process all that I'd gone through.

I went to the clinic and got copies of the ultrasound pictured in my self-portrait during the nadir of that stretch of time. I don't know how much they helped me if at all, but I am glad I got them.

With the maturity and wisdom that five years has brought, I know that having an abortion was the best choice at the time. I do not regret the decision I made, though I do regret carelessly getting pregnant. I still think sometimes about the child I didn't have, but not with the frequency and pain that I used to. It breaks my heart to think about how sad I was. For two years I was a walking wound. But time heals and becoming a mother has soothed the part of my soul that longed to be one after coming so close and turning away from it.

I have kept this a secret because of the strong negative feelings some people have about abortion. I try to live my life free from concern about what others think about me, but this is something I am sensitive about. It weighs kind of heavily on me that there are people out there who would call me a murderer, and, cowardly though it may be, I want to avoid that hatred being aimed in my direction.

It also upsets me that there are people actively trying to take away women's right to make this decision. And so I have added my name to Ms. Magazine's petition: We Had Abortions, giving up a little bit of secrecy in the name of freedom.

More self portraits can be found at Self Portrait Tuesday.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Join Me!

I'm looking to spread the word and find friends/contacts for some of the online services/communities I take part in. I would love it if some of my readers would jump in with me!

~* Firstly, the big one: Flickr, home to my photographs! That link should go to my profile where there should be a link to add me as a contact.

~* A newish place I am involved in is LibraryThing. LibraryThing allows you to add books you own, have read, or are reading - or want to read! - and tag them a la Flickr. Then you can explore similarly tagged books, and the virtual libraries of people who enjoy the same books you do! They also have a widget for posting books to your blog, so it's much easier for me to share what I'm currently reading (see lower down on the sidebar). So if you're a bookworm like me you should definitely check it out!

~* Maya's Mom is a brand new community for parents to share ideas and resources and what-not. What I am most interested in is the sharing of kids' activities. I haven't spent a whole lot of time there yet (seriously, it just opened last week) but here is my profile.

~* Netflix! Netflix is pretty much great. If you're already using Netflix to rent movies by mail, you can add me to your friends by searching for almostfey@gmail.com. Or tell me your address and I'll add you!

~* NaBloPoMo, the lazy man's NaNoWriMo! It's National Blog Posting Month and you can sign up to commit to write a post every day during the month of November, and you can get a cool badge featuring Yoda, who rocks.



Saturday, October 28, 2006

Seventeen Months Old

Oh, what a month this seventeenth month has been. The first half of it was good and fun - we got plenty of sleep, Pearl was cheerful and cute as could be. The second half was pretty much exhausting, filled with new teeth and snot and whinyness, and lacking considerably in sleep.

Poor Kitty

Her eight and ninth teeth are the ones that came through after some rough nights; her bottom first molars. And we had a few days of restful sleep before she caught a cold and then the next two weeks were rough again. When she was sick she started refusing to go to Daddy to be rocked, perhaps not wanting to be so far from milkies, or maybe just not wanting to go to sleep. Either way, the bedtime routine we'd perfected and executed smoothly for months was no long effective and that was no fun all around.

She has recovered fully physically from the bug she caught but she is still very fussy and clingy! She also has picked back up on throwing little fits, crumpling to the floor and turning her bones to jelly and all that.

I cut her hair for the first time this month, just a little trim of the shortest layer in back where it was becoming tangled and rough. It's not even really noticeable, which is good because I didn't do a very good job! Her hair is getting so long, touching her shoulders, curling a little - more so on humid days. In front it hangs over her eyes. Where she used to fight at having a barrette put in her hair, she now loves for me to do it - so she can pull it out and have me put it back in again, and again and again.

Elaina in the Leaves

Pearl has come up with her own little jokey game - when she is nursing, she will suddenly unlatch then try to latch on to my arm, then pop up and grin and shake her head as I say, "That's not milkies!" It's very cute.

Her quest for language continues on - pointing at things and hearing me name them (often over and over - "ring, finger, hand" is a favorite pattern) is something she loves to do. She started saying her name this month! Like most of her words it's not a very precise pronunciation but it is unmistakable that she's saying her name as she points at pictures of herself and her reflection in the mirror. She has been saying "Mama" a lot recently as well. Other words she's picked up include:

Pictures (we do those two things a lot on the computer!)
Quack ("kak kak kak!")
Apple ("opple!")
I see
It's good!
Owl (often pronounced "howl")
Owlbies (for Owl Babies)


I do not think I have mentioned the current owl obsession in the Fuzzy Peach Household. "Hoo hoo" was one of the first animal sounds Pearl started doing, and soon afterward she was pointing out owls everywhere we went! I had no idea the world was so full of owls. They're all over the place: making cameos in half of the books we read, we have two owl toys and two owl-specific books, and Pearl and I each have an owl shirt. I love hearing her say, "Owl, hoo, hoo!" so much that I have a hard time resisting anything owl-themed.

She found her belly button this month, and I find it just too cute to see her lift her shirt up, peer down, and poke at it, saying, "Belly!" Appropriately, we have been reading a lot of Sandra Boynton's Belly Button Book.

Marking it with a 'B'

This month was punctuated by a few moments of transcendence for me: still moments when all the stress and worries and activity of the past and the future fell away and I could see myself, and I could see Pearl, and I could see the beauty of the life we have created with my husband, sense with clarity the value of the loving home we have and our relationships with each other. I am hoping for more of these moments of mindfulness as they leave me with a sense of peace and strength, and, of course, love:

Pretty Smile

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Monday, October 23, 2006


The Sunday before last Pearl woke up with a stuffy, runny nose. I was especially bummed as we had a first birthday to go to that day. However, Pearl was in good spirits and with the mama's permission to expose everyone to our germs, we went to the birthday party and Pearl had fun. Later that afternoon she developed a fever but her condition improved throughout the week.

Reading, Tired and Sick

Then she woke up very early on yesterday morning burning up. We didn't have a working thermometer but she felt really hot to me so I woke my husband up to give her a dose of ibuprofen. When we got up for the day her runny nose had picked back up and she was still feverish, and very grumpy. I bought a temporal artery thermometer (which is really neat and works well... when Pearl will hold still for me to use it, which unfortunately is only when she is asleep) and monitored her temperature throughout the day. It peaked at 104.5 degrees and we gave her another dose of ibuprofen at bedtime. She fell right asleep but woke up not long after and wouldn't go back to sleep for a long, long time.

Today, same story - fever, grumpy, snooty. Me doing research, trying to decide whether or not Pearl needed to go to the doctor. I was thinking she had a sinus infection from the way she seemed to be getting over the cold and then worsened, and I didn't know whether that was something that she could get over on her own or not.

At about 3:30pm, it seemed that her fever had broken. Then when I took off her diaper she ran around like a crazy person then had a major poop on the floor (I realized afterward she was looking for her potty, which was trapped in the bathroom. She's been very good about letting us know she needs to poop lately - not so much with peeing). When I stripped her down to clean her up I noticed a rashy area on her back and freaked out a little. She was crying from being wiped down and being tired and I decided the rash was enough and I'd call the pediatrician. So I made an appointment for later in the evening, and while I was on the phone Pearl calmed down and afterward I nursed her to sleep.

I woke her up looking in on her about an hour after that and she screamed and screamed and wouldn't stop and I could tell she was in pain, the poor girl, she was wiggling furiously and arching her back and gasping for breath. Watching some silly flash animations online finally got her calmed down and then I could hear it: the tell tale glurping. At a birthday dinner for my brother on Saturday night, I'd bitten into a chicken strip and thought, "Uh-oh, I think this has cow's cheese in it!" then I thought, "Mmmmmm!" and proceeded to devour two of them. I wasn't sure there was cheese in them, you see. But now I am.

She didn't have a fever when she woke up so we decided to cancel the appointment rather than expose her to more germs at the doctor's and force her to lay back in the carseat while having dairy-induced reflux. But then of course when the time of her appointment rolled around, she was feeling hot again.

So that's how things stand right now: feverish and grumpy, stuffy and snotty-nosed, rashy and refluxy. Ah, and don't forget about those bottom molars poking through. In the morning if she still has a high temperature I'm going to take her in, or of course if she worsens in the night.

Having a sick baby is tough; the decisions are hard. Should I give her fever reducers, knowing the ill effects such medicine can have on the body over time? Should I trust that the fever is harmless in itself and serves a purpose and leave it be? Should I expose her to the germs at the doctor's office, and if I do, should I let her have antibiotics that I don't feel good about giving her? Part of me wants to make her as comfortable as possible and get her through this quickly; another part wants to let her tough it out and let her body do its thing. Part of me knows that this isn't something serious and that she'll be okay; another part panics at the thought of anything happening to her.

I don't know how my mother raised six children and kept her sanity!

AM Update: Pearl is in much better spirits, the fever is gone, and even the runny nose appears to have dried up. Whew!

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Life Filled with Books

My creation

There are very few times in my life that I can recall when I was not reading at least one book. Reading is like eating (I happen to often combine the two activities!)

I started reading to Pearl before she was born, and her father read her some Dr. Seuss before she even left the hospital. For the first few months of her life Pearl and I fell asleep listening to him read aloud in bed each night. Not long after that she started obviously enjoying being read her books while nestled in our laps.

Her books are her favorite toys, and one of the few she will play with on her own, though she is not always content to do so - in fact, if I am sitting at the computer while she is awake, there is a good chance I am being whacked with a book!

She recently has begun reciting words she's memorized while she sits and reads to herself, punctuating the babble with "shhhh!" or "kite!" or "kiss!"

We occasionally go to Baby Bookworms at the library, or just to the library itself, letting Pearl wander the rows upon rows of books, selecting some to sit in nooks and read.

I spend a lot of time looking online for books to get her as she grows (this is one I am particularly looking forward too, but I am making myself wait until she can really get the most out of it! Next fall, perhaps.) I've created a wishlist for her too, mostly containing books I loved as a child.

The world of books is such a fascinating one, one that I have gleaned so much from. I am thrilled to be sharing my love of reading with my daughter and watching as she gets her toes wet in the literary life.

~* Find more Life at Mama Says Om *~

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Q & A

Every once in a while I'll get a question in a comment or email or on Flickr that I don't get around to answering, because, as previously mentioned, I'm lazy/a procrastinator/bad at managing my time. Here are a few that have come my way semi-recently, which are also questions I've been asked before along the way. FAQs, if you will.

Q. What kind of camera do you use?

A. I use a Nikon D50, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I most frequently use my Nikkor 50mm 1.8 lens, because it is does amazingly well in low light and in close quarters, circumstances under which I often photograph Pearl. I also have a Nikkor 18-55mm that I use on occasion, and the Nikon SB600 flash. I made a diffuser for that flash using the bottom of a rubbing alcohol bottle! A similarly made diffuser is shown at the bottom of this page.

I also have a Sony PSC P200, which is a good point-and-shoot camera, but frustratingly slow as compared to my D50.

Q. Do you use Photoshop?

A. Usually, but not always. I mostly use it to boost the contrast or adjust the color, or to remove background clutter. I crop photos often, and need to rotate them often as well. I use it to convert pictures into black and white and sometimes I use it to try to save a shot that, had it been technically sound, would have been a good picture. And I do indeed use it for dramatic effect. I get lots of free actions, a preset run of steps to acheive an effect, from Action Central. There are tons of tutorials available for the Googling, but most what I know about Photoshop I learned from my husband or from mucking about on my own.

Q. How do you customize your blog template?

A. First, you marry a man who is very smart and knows and learns all the time about computers and programming. Then you whine and fuss until he helps you!

No, seriously, my husband is indeed an invaluable resource, but I utilize other resources as well. W3 Schools is wonderful place to learn about HTML and CSS. I use Photoshop to create my banners and headers, using brushes I find on the internet - again, lots of free nice free brushes out there free for the Googling.

Q. What effect did you use on the photo given as the example for dramatic effect?

A. The custom vignette action at Action Central. It does require a little input and customization but other than that it's pretty much automated!

If anyone would like to ask anything else now would be as good a time to do so as any! I will add new questions to this post. I hope these answers have been some help.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Autumn Beauty

Playing Peekaboo!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Things I Am Enjoying This Week

* The latest crop of aubergines from my garden; delicious when roasted, fried, and sauteed! ('Aubergine' sounds so much nicer than 'eggplant', don't you think?)

* Watching Pearl poke her newly-discovered belly button - so cute!

* An Autumn Mix of Jelly Belly beans that I won in on of last week's drawings on the Urban Baby Runway Blog. I love that place, check it out if you haven't - the ladies there review all sorts of products and services for mamas and babies and frequently give things away. I've won a $65 gift certificate from Kate Quinn Organics there in the past - and now that the weather is cooler Pearl and I are enjoying the clothes I ordered!

* Google Calendar. It integrates nicely with Gmail so I get reminders about everything. I'm using it to keep my activities, appointments, meal plans, and chores all organized. I am lazy, a procrastinator, and very bad at managing my time wisely so it's been very useful.

* Burt's Bees Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub. I don't know why I love cleaning my skin with little hard particles, but I always have! Burt's Bees also has a new tear-free baby shampoo out that I've been using on Pearl, smells so good and is free of yucky chemicals.

* Cinnamon doughnuts and apple cider!

* Over-the-knee socks from Sock Dreams. Cute, warm socks and tights = me wearing skirts in cold weather!

* This picture, one of several that my sister took of Pearl and I yesterday:

Elaina and I

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


Photos of the changing seasons taken on our trip to Mount Magazine:

~* See more of Fall at my flickr set from the trip, at Mama Says Om! *~

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And We're Off!

The three of us are leaving on a microvacation to celebrate Mr. Peach and I's second anniversary. We're going to stay at a swanky cabin at a new state park, and do some hiking, picnicking, and hot tubbing. This is the first vacation of any sort we've been on since we went to Cozumel when I was pregnant - close to two years ago! So we're pretty excited. I will return with pictures and stories in a few days. In the meantime I leave you with this picture of Pearl aswingin'.

The Baby