Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Growing and Going! June 29, 2007

Filed under: Lacko Family Chronicles,Potty-training — rjlacko @ 6:37 pm

I remember when Joseph was just 8 months old, and suddenly it seemed like we’d established “dialog”. My little newborn was laughing, gesturing, and plying the tricks to get attention that he, in his myriad explorations, had learned worked best with us. It was an exciting time!
As a two-year-old, my little guy has opened a whole line of communication. Sentences! Even the ones that are part babytalk, part recognizable words, are complex, understandable, and often hilarious. He makes jokes, asks insightful questions, and makes his strong opinions heard.
He is passionate (obsessed) about “choo-choos,” can identify any letter and its sound with nary a moment’s hesitation, and has been calling triangles “twi-angs” for all of this year! He likes to announce who should get a wayward ball–“I got it!” or “YOU get it!” and often mentions the names of his cousins and grandparents. It’s such a treat to finally know what goes on in that little mind of his.
While he was quite bent on using a potty and identifying colors, since his brother was born, he has little interest in either. Every color is described as “blue,” and the potty has lost its novelty and mystique. He very clearly states that he would prefer a “biper” every time he announces the arrival of poopies.
Little Noah is growing rapidly. At only two months, he’s grown a full 2 inches (now up to 24!) and weighs in at 14 lb, 12 oz!! He is frequently mistaken for a 4-month-old. I was looking at pictures of Baby J when he was Noah’s age, and he was a full 5 pounds smaller. Quite amazing. Since Noah’s only job right now is to grow, I’m going to consider this a sign of pure genius! (As his mommy, it’s my right to do so.)
His smile and coos have been tons of fun, but, after every mother’s prayer for their child’s health, the very next best thing is to have a baby who is happy and snuggly. I was so very blessed with baby Joseph’s snuggly, content, peaceful personality, and with Noah, it’s just as beautiful and rewarding. He is so peaceful and observant. He rarely cries–(just when he had his shots at the ped’s office), but absolutely loves to be held and snuggled and rocked. While he doesn’t scream when he’s not held, he just glows when he is held and hugged. He is such a love. The nicest thing about having a baby (or a toddler, for that matter) is how much time is spent hugging and cuddling and looking at each other. Honestly, we just don’t get enough of that in life, do we? Just like when we fall in love and can’t get enough of being close to our beloved, we simply thrive on positive touching–and having kids (and a great partner) offers ample opportunity for daily lovefests.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to have a lovefest with just my husband. We’re on our tenth week of new-babyhood, and our moments alone have been few and far between, to say the least. It would be nice just to have an uninterrupted meal, or go to a restaurant where just waiting for the food to arrive is not a juggling act, then seeing what and how much little J wants before he gets bored with sitting at the table… I know, the simple answer is to get a sitter and take a datenight. Easy.


A Whole New Ballgame

Filed under: Lacko Family Chronicles — rjlacko @ 6:36 pm

Riddle: What can be whiny then happy then clingy then stubborn then overjoyed then curious then cranky then hungry then lovey then demanding–all within the space of 15 minutes?

A pregnant woman in her third trimester?
A bipolar in need of a prescription?
Or, a two-year-old sharing his mommy and daddy with a new baby brother…

Our little guy’s world has been turned upside down, it’s true. And, he’s at “that age.” We spend each day finding new ways to convey to Joseph that he is still our treasure and our love, through one-on-one time, listening and laughing with him and his ongoing discovery of his world, and doling out hugs and kisses for each worry, scratch or disappointment.

In truth, he’s overly fond of his baby brother, and shows him great affection and attention. It’s us–or me, rather–that he is testing. How far can I push this woman who is otherwise helpless while nursing a newborn? I’m stepping up my gentle version of discipline, a method so gentle in fact that it was (formerly) virtually undetectable. Now, I’m employing all sorts of tactics including counting to three, telling him what is going to happen in what order (you can have strawberries AFTER we change your diaper) and giving consequences for undesirable behavior. Top of our list for most undesirable? Throwing things, ESPECIALLY at people. His preschool group actually condoned throwing–one of the main reasons we pulled him from that program. He’s also a miniature Tarzan, climbing anything and everything, and jumping, swinging and, alas, falling from wherever he’s managed to ascend. Note to self: I need to speak to the doctor about exactly how many bonks to the head is too many.

But I must add he’s as cuddly-sweet as ever, and is doing so well with his numbers, letters and shapes. He is using longer sentences, breaking into recognizable songs, and he can identify pretty much anything. He’s also quite the music lover and critic. In the car, he sits in his carseat deeply contemplating the music, which results in one of three choices: 1) he rocks his head and taps his feet to the beat; 2) or if he doesn’t like what he hears, he calls for the next song; or 3) he calls “again!” for those songs he especially loves.

Our littlest Lacko is nothing short of wonderful. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m now experienced, or if by comparison, a toddler is so much extra work, but taking care of my little Noah is a breeze. From the first week, he was smiling socially, and is now breaking into giggles. He has been holding his head up quite admirably since about week 2, so I think he’ll grow to be strong and sure of himself. He’s a huge fan of breastmilk, is growing by leaps and bounds and was already wearing 3-month clothes at only 6 weeks! He gives me a deep sense of “completion” like everything in my universe is how it should be and we are complete as a family. People often ask about when we’ll start “trying for a girl” but I’m really quite satisfied. Perhaps when Noah and Joseph are both in school, I’ll suddenly be desperate to be pregnant again…then again, while I’m no spring chicken, by that time I’ll be even less of one. So perhaps not. We’ll see, but for now, I love my boys, and I couldn’t be happier with our family. And that feels good!


Here At Last!

Filed under: Lacko Family Chronicles,marriage,pregnancy — rjlacko @ 6:36 pm

Welcome to the world, Noah Clayton Lacko.
We are just rounding out Week 1 with our newest family member, and I must share the story of his birth before I over-romanticize it from an overwhelming abundance of love.

No doubt about it, I was fit to be tied. My neighbor, a client of my midwife, had a due date five days later than mine, and delivered her little son before me. I visited mommy and baby, and when I held that sweet little guy, I just began to cry. I’m not sure if it was the hormones, that indescribably wonderful newborn scent, or the longing in my heart for my own son to arrive… it was a potent combo, and may have been just what I needed to go into labor myself.

My husband believes it was our midwife’s urging for us to “get romantic” that did the trick, but as the evening drew to a close, I simply couldn’t get comfortable, and found myself huffing and puffing, and said, almost in disbelief, “I think I’m in labor!” We spent the next hour timing the contractions, and then another 45 minutes later, Noah arrived! It’s a good thing we had planned another home birth. I don’t think I could ever make it to the hospital if I’d wanted.

In the two hours I labored, the months of worry about the health and safe delivery of my baby disappeared. My husband was kind, firm and reassuring. I felt totally freed from any expectations, he just encouraged me to do what I needed to do. With our first child, we had both thought it would be a combined effort, that we would apply all the lessons we’d learned in our Bradley Method classes, and work as a team. My labor had come so fast and furious, and I was so intently focused within, that he had not played the role we’d anticipated. This time, I wanted so much to include him in what can only be described as a journey, the path from full body control to surrender, releasing a child ready for the outside world.

In reality, labor is all-consuming. Having labored both in water and out, I can tell you that a birthing tub relieves at least half the pain, if not more. Pregnant moms, please take my word–even if you don’t plan a water birth, be sure to spend a good percentage of your labor immersed in water. It is so very soothing. Joseph sat and watched, and held me when needed, and I focused on pushing down and out, down and out. He encouraged and cheered me on.

I believe very strongly that inviting each contraction will make the labor go much, much faster, and that it is bearing down against the barrage that causes a prolonged and agonizing labor. It’s the baby’s big day; regardless of the overwhelming waves of pressure, inviting it in, accepting it and breathing with it will bring you to pushing that much faster, and is in agreement with what your child is working inside to accomplish. Speaking as a person who has had 3.5-hour and 2-hour labors, I say accept that your body is working naturally and as intended. Tell yourself, “bring it on! With every new contraction, I’m that much closer to meeting my baby!”

Joseph and the midwives worked to get the birthing tub set up, and I climbed in. I had hoped to deliver in the squatting position, because it stretches the birth canal another 1-1.5 centimeters, but we don’t always get to decide things with birth! I was most comfortable in the least-glamorous position (on hands and knees), but I have no regrets. I actually felt Noah within me, his head and shoulders and body shape, not just a vague, hot pressure. I felt him drop suddenly and pushed. Our midwife and my husband urged me push again because they couldn’t feel the cord (I couldn’t believe that what I’d pushed hadn’t been the whole baby!)

While I wanted to wait for another contraction, I pushed again and suddenly my little newborn son slipped down and forward between my legs and I simply swept him up in my arms and laid easily back in the birth tub. My strong little son put both hands on my chest and pushed himself up and looked me right in the face! I was overcome with emotion and love and snuggled him to me while Joseph came and sat very close next to me and we kissed and met our Noah. All this happened at 11:15 at night, right outside the bedroom of our 2-year-old son, who never even woke up! In fact, my parents had come into town just that afternoon, and even they didn’t wake through the birth! I don’t think I was exactly quiet, but perhaps I wasn’t so loud either?

The beautiful thing about home birth is that once the baby is delivered, you slip directly into your own bed, eat your own food, and your baby is examined when you’re ready to hand him over, and it’s done on your bed right in front of you. Lovely! No hospital gowns, weird hospital smells, fluorescent lights, IVs, unnecessary shots or strangers popping in and out to poke at you or your new baby. That is worth forgoing the epidural alone. Besides, I’ve never met a woman who got one that didn’t experience pain in childbirth anyway. It’s just a fact of life. It’s true that anything worth having is worth working for.

My husband went and woke our toddler and brought him to our bed, and we all snuggled in as a family. He was a little surprised to find a baby there–along with our midwives and the arrival of my best friend Vicki, who had planned to attend the birth.

Later that night, when everything was quiet, I held in my heart some bittersweetness for how little faith I’d had. I’d been so worried about how the delivery would go and had prayed so hard that my baby simply get here in good health. My prayers have always been answered faithfully, so I shouldn’t have put myself–or my family–through such agony! Not only did Noah arrive safely, but it was quick and manageable, he is incredibly healthy and perfectly adorable, the experience instilled an even greater feeling of love and gratitude for my husband, and I didn’t even tear, so the recovery has been (relatively) a breeze! My baby’s birth was a huge gift and a beautiful experience and I feel so lucky and blessed.

Noah Clayton Lacko

April 17, 2007

11:15 pm

8 lbs, 12 oz., 22 inches


So many contractions, so little delivery

Filed under: Lacko Family Chronicles,marriage,pregnancy — rjlacko @ 6:35 pm

My mistake, in retrospect, was paramount. Based on my past experience (delivering spontaneously, after 3.5 hours of labor at 38 weeks, I decided (yes, decided) I was going to have Baby Noah on Monday, March 25, 2007. I felt complete, ready, and full term.

My husband was as confident as I. He pumped up the water-birthing tub, cleared his schedule and told everyone to expect our little bundle of sweetness. All waited with bated breath.

The day came and went without a flutter.

In fact, three weeks have now passed, and with each midwife visit, I dilate yet another centimeter. I’ve made some (semi-) regular visits to a qualified chiropractor for the Webster technique, I’ve taken walks, I’ve squatted, I’ve Googled the pregnancy salad, eating several at back-to-back meals, and I’ve passed my mucous plug, (oh, joy!) And, I was kept awake half the night last night with 2-minute-long contractions spaced 5 minutes apart. And still, nothing. What gives? I don’t want to be the girl who cried “labor!” but here I am, driving my husband to the edge of expectation and frustration. Each day I feel like it could happen at any time, and yet, my little second son stays put.

Come to think of it, I’ve not-so-subtly accused my husband of losing patience with me, of not being sensitive enough to what I’m going through. However, like his immediate confidence that I’d correctly called my baby’s birth date, his frustration and lack of patience are only a mirror of mine. He’s more in tune with me than I’ve given credit. Must make amends.

I wrote an email to my sister-in-law Michelle (mother of three) pleading for answers. We have a nice comfy crib AND a bassinet AND a vibrating baby lounger for Baby Noah to stretch out in–deluxe accommodations, I promise!–I told her. Truly, it’s gotta be better than hanging upside down in a tight pelvis listening to colonic rumblings, right?

Michelle’s reply: Nope. Not really. Bills are paid. No wet diaps to worry about communicating any desire for a change of in a language that won’t make sense to him for many months. No sibling rivalry. No cold toes, no bug bites, no dietary concerns to have to deal with. Global warming? War in Iraq? Freaky tickle-hyper Elmo dolls? Ha! Who cares?? NO ISSUES!! Obligations? Aside from eventually emerging, nil. Besides, gentle colonic rumblings beat much of the crap (if you will) he’ll have to listen to on The Outside… I’m with Noah. Stay PUT!!!

I have to be honest, I hadn’t looked at it that way. Maybe he’s on to something?

I’m trying each day not to be disappointed. My baby knows the exact time he is supposed to be born. It’s between him and God and not up to me, nor is it up to the Webster technique, or any witchcraft salad (albeit tasty). Honestly, I just need to quit comparing this experience to my first birth and let it be its own thing. I have a lifetime to love my son. Our day will come.


31 Weeks… And Keep Off The Lawn

Filed under: Lacko Family Chronicles,pregnancy — rjlacko @ 6:35 pm

Only nine more weeks til Baby Noah arrives! We are very excited as you might imagine. Even better, we are also moving to our new home near the beach on the 15th of February! Packing should certainly be my full-time job right now, but to look around our house, you’d see that we are far from packed. When did we collect so much stuff?

To make matters more difficult, gone are the energetic, easy-going days of the second trimester. I’m getting more useless as the days go on–there are plenty of times when I need to just stop, breathe and rest. I have Braxton-Hicks contractions for longer periods, and I feel like the baby is already taking up my whole abdomen! (And I look like it too.)

People (strangers) don’t help. On a daily basis, I’m approached by, oh, whomever, with comments like, “You’re really small, how far along are you?” (I can’t be that small if they recognize I’m pregnant.) Or, I get, “Oh, are you having twins?” Or, out of nowhere, a hand juts into my path to hover just over my tummy with a whispered, “may I?”

May you what? Feel me up?

I actually really like it when small children want to touch (I imagine it’s good luck), and I do like being greeted by family or close friends with a loving pat on the belly, but when strangers–mostly men, mind you–want a feel, the good luck factor doesn’t exactly come to mind. I try to be gracious and understand that patting a prego is somewhat like stopping to smell the roses. (Although I’m certain my husband feels differently about strange hands in proximity to his wife and unborn child, and who can blame him?) Can you smell the roses without walking on the lawn?

After I gave birth to Joseph, whenever I would see a woman pushing a baby carriage, my perception of this everyday occurrence was hugely altered. What I now saw was a woman pushing the most precious creature that ever graced her (and her partner’s) life; she is pushing her every waking thought and concern, her future, her heart, her great passion, her greatest hope and prayer answered. Bringing that child in to the world either irrevocably altered everything she’d ever held dear, certain and true, or eternally affirmed and cemented her most deeply-held beliefs. And all these overwhelming feelings are lifted yet higher still when shared with the person she chose to spend her life with. Birth is the most wonderful miracle of love, and when we’ve pushed our own carriage, we’re all too aware of the immense value of what lies within those soft blankets, or below that burgeoning maternity blouse.

Anyway, I must get packing. If you are pregnant, please give that gorgeous belly of yours a rub for me, and for the rose-smellers.


My Christmas Super Bowl

Filed under: Lacko Family Chronicles — rjlacko @ 6:34 pm
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The holiday season is finally here. To be honest, I’ve been looking forward to Christmas since, well, before Halloween. I love this time of year! Yes, it’s true, I’m one of those people who love to shop for Christmas gifts, who think nothing of planning meals for big crowds of cousins, aunties and uncles, and, when all the gifts are wrapped, the hall is decked and the cookies iced, I find myself seeking out new recipients for presents I still need to find, wrap and deliver. Christmas is my Super Bowl.
For years, some of those recipients have been kids involved in the Angel Tree Project, part of a non-profit organization where presents are given to the children of prisoners on behalf of their incarcerated parents. This year, when I chose my “angels”, tears came to my eyes when I read a father’s note to his 5-month-old: “I’m so proud of you.” This man quite possibly has never even seen his infant son. He has requested that pajamas be given to the child, however, being a mother, I know perfectly well how far PJs go, and added diapers and a cuddly bear to his present. Another prisoner asked that his or her 5-year-old receive an arts and crafts gift. Considering that Christmas decor inevitably requires at least one trip to Michael’s, it’s certainly no trouble for me to browse the children’s aisle.
My husband, however, yearly scoffs at my participation in this charity. As far as he’s concerned, we as a society are already paying too much to support those who’ve broken the law. A prisoner has access to health care, fitness equipment, education, regular meals, television and the Internet, among hundreds of other subsidized programs–more than a poverty-stricken family enjoys, certainly. We should also pay for their children’s Christmas gifts?
Personally, I imagine these innocent little children on Christmas morning. The first insult: daddy or mommy hasn’t been there in months. Second, there is little or nothing for them, because daddy or mommy made some very poor choices and are stuck behind bars. Is it their fault? I also picture the incarcerated parent; Just because they made some wrong turns in life, should I presume that every last prisoner thinks nothing of their child, doesn’t miss their baby? Doesn’t wish to show that little one that mommy or daddy is thinking of them?
As I said, Christmas is my Super Bowl. While I don’t have a big screen TV, I do have a big, gorgeous tree with both pretty storebought ornaments and a lifetime of handcrafted ones. I have the entire day to spend happily with my family and friends, eating, laughing and cheering for “my team”, the birth of my Savior. However, like the Super Bowl’s inflated ticket price, legendary advertising costs and flashy half-time extravaganza, Christmas can get a little out of hand.
To that end, for the first time, this year I will help deliver the Angel Tree gifts to their intended
angels. While the crew that organizes the drive could always use another pair of hands, my purpose is deeper than that. I want to share the tenderness I feel for them even as I read their parent’s gift request. I want to see Christmas from their eyes.
When I went online to learn more about the organization, I came across this article by Frederick Meekins for American World View. In it, he echos my husband’s opinion, calling the project “dubious moral logic.” He describes the program as “inadvertently rewarding criminals for criminal behavior,” and suggests that “maybe economically challenged parents ought to consider going out and committing a crime so their progeny might have a shot at a decent Christmas.”
The truth can only be deducted when faced head on. This year, I’ll see for myself.


ABC TV Feature Update

Filed under: Freelance writing — rjlacko @ 6:34 pm

See me on KABC (Channel 7 in the LA area) on Monday, November 7, during the 5 am, 6 am and 11 am morning shows!