Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Merry Joy and Peace

Merry Everything!!

We sent out a holiday card this year but I'm some kind of moron who can't get it to save any larger than this:

 Happy Everyone!!

Truly wishing you joy and peace and butterscotch schnapps in your eggnog and short visits with obnoxious relatives...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Way More Than You Ever Need to Know About Christmas and Me

Aaaand go. This is the first Christmas season in five years that I can call my very own. There will be no working at 2am on Christmas Eve. There will be no spending Christmas morning watching a family that isn't mine open presents that I chose and wrapped, whispering what they are in my boss's ear so he can take credit for them. This year I won't miss every fun holiday party and local festive event. I'm no longer Ebenezer Scrooge's personal Christmas elf. This year I get to have my very own Christmas. I'm sucking up every minute of it.


I had a whole thing working here about the war between the decorating themes in our house, but it was boring and going nowhere. So I copied this list from Lora instead.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Oh wrapping paper.  I love to wrap presents.  When I was in college I had a stupid job at a department store in a suburban mall.  It was great because they would hire me back every time I was home from break.  They also had a gift wrap department.  Between shopping on my lunch breaks and the gift wrap department, I probably gave half my paycheck back to the store.  My gifts were the prettiest ones on Christmas morning though. I do appreciate a gift bag for things are too weird and awkward to wrap properly.  There is plenty of tissue paper and charmy, dangly things to add to the beauty of the bag.

2. Real tree or Artificial?  We always a real tree growing up and ideally that's what I like to have.  Our first Christmas together (before we were married), Frank came home from work one morning with a surprise real tree for my tiny apartment.  It was probably about 4ft tall and even at that height it brushed the ceiling.  The past few years we've had a fake tree or none at all.  This year our tree is fake and I have to admit, it's much easier and practical.  We're leaving for our big vacation on Christmas day this year anyway.  I want Bo to remember having a real tree though.  Maybe next year we'll leave the fake tree in the shed and get a real one.

3. When do you put up the tree? The tradition I grew up with was we put the tree up on Christmas Eve.  It evolved from my parents at first not being able to really afford a tree until the last minute when the tree guys were practically giving them away to not being organized enough to get a tree sooner than a few days before until it just became a tradition.  My mom would make snacks and appetizers.  We'd listen to Christmas music and act dumb while my dad fought with the tree.  Every year with the hammer and the platform and the yelling.  Every year hitting himself with the hammer at least once.  Once the tree was up my mom and older sister would string the lights.  Then we would all hang ornaments, my mom supervising to make sure they didn't end up all bunched up in one spot.  It was such fun to unwrap all the ornaments that we'd made or collected as we grew up.  That we'd forgotten about over the course of the year.  Our tree is already up.  My goal is to put it up by December 1st one year evenntually.

4. When do you take the tree down? This is the tricky part.  And another reason why a fake tree is probably best for us.  I'm not so good at taking the tree down.  In past years I've left that dry ass fire hazard up until February or March.  It's such a pain in the ass to take all the ornaments down and wrap them up and put them away.  I hate that part.  I'm really aiming for New Year's day this year.  January 2 at the latest.

5. Do you like eggnog? Eggnog is one of those things that I try every year in the hopes that I will like it.  It seems like something I would like.  It never works though.  I always hate it.  We got some lactose free eggnog for the tree decorating and I actually liked it.  First time ever. 

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Gosh.  It's hard to pick my favorite.  One year there was a Brook Shields head, the neck of which was set in a plastic star shaped tray.  The tray had a makeup palette in it and we could put makeup on Brooke's face or style her hair. They were called Glamour Heads.  That was a good present.  Then there was the year I got a CD Walkman.  I think I was in high school  That was awesome.  I wonder if they even make those anymore. Every year my dad would get a new board game and we would all sit around the dining room table after all the gifts were opened and play the game.  That was the best thing I got every year.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? I have a porcelain ornament on the tree that has just Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.  Frank's mom probably gave it to us.  There's a house a few neighborhoods over that has a life sized nativity scene on the front lawn and a leg lamp in the front window.  Makes me laugh every time I drive by.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My boss.  I have to get him a present because he gets me lots of big deal presents every year and we have a close relationship that warrants gift giving.  He's a millionaire though.  What do you get the person who already literally has everything and if he doesn't, buys 10 of whatever it is?  I always end up getting him a book or something equally lame.  I think I have a good idea this year though. 

9. Easiest person to buy for? Frank.  He loves presents.  Although I suppose Bo is even easier.  Tonight I gave him a paper bag to play with and it was seriously BEST TOY EVER!

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? I can't think of any terrible gifts I've received.  I'm so easy.  I love presents of any kind.  Everything makes me happy. 

11. Mail or e-mail Christmas card? I think I managed to send out cards one year, the first year we were married.  Since then not so much.  This year I've got photo cards ordered and will send them out.  Hopefully by New Year my boy's smiling face will be wishing you joy and happy holidays.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I'm a sucker for the old movies.  White Christmas might be my most favorite.  Holiday Inn isn't technically a Christmas movie but I love that one too.  The old A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sims (Simm?) is fantastic and so is the newish one with Patrick Stewart.  Captain Picard makes a great Scrooge.  I also love the Grinch - cartoon, not Jim Carrey.  That guy is just creepy. And all the old nostalgia ones like Rudolf and Frosty.  I tried to watch the Miser Brothers' Christmas the other day.  Have you seen it?  That one is just weird.  Frank woke up from a nap on the couch in the middle of it and was totally confused.  I was watching George Bailey go through life as if he hadn't been born the other night and then had a dream that I'd killed myself.  No more Frank Capra for me for a while.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I start shopping on behalf of my boss ( for his kids and friends and girlfriend and her kids and friends) in early November.  No matter how much I try to have him all done and sorted and ready, I'm inevitably putting the finishing touches on things right around the 24th.  I fit my own shopping in here and there. 

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Of course! But not anything I've ever given you.  I pick all of your presents out special.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Everything!  My mom makes traditional Spanish cookies called rosquillos de huevo (help me out with the spelling here Belen.  i know you're reading).  They're sort of like little doughnuts and they're glazed with a honey citrus stuff.  Mom only makes them at Christmastime because that's the tradition and because they're a ton of work.  I don't know how to make them.  I should probably learn.  They are my favorite thing to eat at Christmas.  

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I like little white lights that do not blink.  Frank likes colored lights that blink, the more seizure inducing the better.  He also likes tinsel garland and all manners of junk on the tree.  I like a tree that would look good in a department store.  He wins this year.  It seems more kid friendly anyway.  Maybe one year we'll get two trees; a family tree covered in junk and a beautiful, perfectly matched and styled tree for me.

17. Favorite Christmas song? It's so silly but I like all the ridiculous ones like, "I Wanna Hippopotomous for Christmas", and "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas", and "Mele Kanikimaka".  I also love the standards.  Who doesn't love Nat King Cole singing about roasting chestnuts on an open fire.  Have you ever had roasted chestnuts?  Add those to the list of things I love to eat at Christmastime. My all time favorite might be "We Need a Little Christmas".  Bo loves to hear me sing that one.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I went to California one year around Christmas but not specifically for Christmas.  I've been in Miami with my boss on Christmas day and New Year's eve and New Year's day. This year we're going on a big family trip, the three of us and Frank's mom.  I'm excited.  It should be interesting. 

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? Did you know that Donner is Rudolf's dad?  I never noticed that in the show until this year.  Rudolf's family is the Donners and Donner is his dad.  Santa even calls him Donner.  Watch it again.  You'll see.

20. Do you have an Angel on top or a star? We have a really great, old fashioned star on top.  The silvery kind with lights in it?  Yeah.  Clark Griswold is jealous of my star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Definitley Christmas morning.  Frank has a hard time waiting to give presents and sometimes has to give me at least one.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? My crazy ass boss who I think believes I'm actually Santa.  Also traffic.  And the fact that it's dark at 4:30.  That has nothing to do with the holidays I know, but it's this time of year.  I just barely win my cage match against seasonal depression every year.  The holidays actually help keep me sane.  Well, the holidays combined with a vacation somewhere warm at some point between December and March. 

23. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented? Inflatable lawn crap.  My neighbors have an inflatable nativity scene right next to an inflatable Santa roasting marshmallows with a couple reindeer.  Weird.

25. Which looks best theme trees or homey trees? My personal aesthetic is theme tree but I'm really looking forward to a tree covered with ornaments of popsicle sticks and cotton balls and popcorn strings we make ourselves.

26. Gingerbread or sugar cookies? I love love love gingerbread.  In man form or big hunks of the bread version.  Delicious.  Add that to my list of favorite Christmas foods too.

27. Do you like Fruitcake?  I really do.  I think it's delicious.  When someone asks you, who eats this stuff?  Now you know.  I can't be alone.  They make thousands and thousands a year.  What?  It's really good with coffee.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

He looks like a Who in Whoville, right?  Would be such a better picture if you couldn't see the charger for the dustbuster.  A dustbuster which I no longer have because I put it in the utility sink and then forgot about it and then ran the washer, which drains into the utility sink.  But I still have the charger.  I'm a few years away from my very own epidsode of Hoarders I think.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It was a super special Thanksgiving this year. All the babies were here! My big sister, who hadn't been home for Thanksgiving in 15 years, was here! With her husband and both of her kids! My brother and his wife and their baby were here from California! My baby sister and slightly wacky baby brother (plus girlfriend) were in from California too! (did I ever tell you that I hate California? I do. It steals my family.) All the babies are about the same age and it was the first time we had them all together.

All of us back together for a significant length of time can be tricky. We're SO HAPPY to see everyone and to be seen by everyone. We want to spend lots of time together. Normal family routines and obligations fall by the wayside. I want to hold their babies and they want to hold my baby and the spouses try desperately to keep up and participate and stay out of the way at the same time. I can't imagine what it must be like to be new to our family. Not that my inlaws are that new anymore. Even so, we're so clannish and exclusive. We have so many inside jokes that it's practically a different language. It can't be easy for Frank or my inlaws to sit at the same dining room table as everyone else and have absolutely no idea what's going on. It must be weird to see their wife/husband spoken to like a little brother or a big sister. Frank is an only child so I have no experience with it at all.

Family politics are sticky. There's a certain amount of regression to the roles we played as children; the boss, the knowitall, the brat, the wingnut, the mute, the loose cannon, the baby. Even though we're all adults now and our conversations are about real grownup stuff, eventually and inevitably, personalities clash and feelings get hurt. People feel slighted or left out or disrespected and we kind of all remember why we left home in the first place.

But not last Thursday. Last Thursday we all gathered at my mom's to eat and talk and take pictures. We tried to cram in memories and conversation and laughter in between cramming turkey and stuffing. We watched our kids sing and dance and create a new layer of memories in the story of our family. It was all over too soon. My big sister - my only older sibling - went back to Europe on Saturday. My my baby sister left Monday morning followed by my brother and his family on Tuesday. All too soon these people that my boy is just getting to know and recognize are gone. We're all back to the normal routines of the lives we've made for ourselves. It was nice to be 12 years old again for a while though.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This cat. I think he's out of chances.

Kitty took a few swipes at Bo again recently, this time claws out. The boy was reaching blindly over the arm of the couch (from Frank's lap), just to see if he could do it. The cat pounced and swatted at Bo's hands and mercifully missed. He then jumped onto the couch where he tried to again scratch and claw at the baby. Frank locked him in the basement until Bo was safely in bed.

Something has to be done.

What can we do? None of our friends or family will adopt this cat. He's a psycho and they all know it. Even my sucker-for-anything-with-fur sister wants no part of this cat. I can't in good conscience offer him to strangers, knowing full well that he's unbalanced and will literally bite the hand that feeds him.

Bo is right on the cusp of crawling - we're talking days, if not hours - and while I can put covers in the electrical outlets and locks on my cabinets, I can't babyproof the cat. Or kitty-proof the baby. Anything on the floor to Kitty is fair game and I can't have him coming at Bo's face.

So what do we do? Be those people? Those people who abandon their pet when they have a baby? I'm not that girl. I'm the girl who gets all eye rolly and disdainful when I read the little descriptions on the cage at the shelter about why the animal was given up. Like, didn't you KNOW that was going to happen? Why didn't you PREPARE better? How can you just give your cat away? Why don't you try that book Or a clicker?

So now I direct all of these mean and judgey comments at myself. And I add new fun ones like, why am I so LAZY? How can I say I'm too TIRED to try the book now? Don't I LOVE my cat?

I'm horrified at the thought of taking this poor cat to a shelter. When he gets out of the house (he makes a break for it every time the door opens), he doesn't even leave the yard. We always find him waiting by the front or back door after 10 minutes of backyard adventure. I can't imagine how freaked out he'd be in a shelter somewhere, waiting for me to come back.

I don't know what to do. I mean, I know what has to be done, but I can't bring myself to do it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's Been a Long Time Coming

I don't really want to talk about it. I try my best not to think about it too much. There's no answer that doesn't suck and the whole thing makes my stomach hurt. So I avoid it as much as possible and just get on with my day. Until it rears up unexpectedly to slap me in the face and leave me holding back tears at my desk or behind the wheel or wherever I happen to be at that moment.

Most recently it was my dad. He was in my neighborhood and had some time between appointments. He called to see if I was home and could he stop by to see his grandson. When I told him I was at work and Bo was at his babysitter's, my dad's response was, "Oh, he has a babysitter now? I don't like that one bit. But you gotta do what you gotta do." To which I responded, "I don't like it either".

Thanks Dad. Because this is really a conversation I want to have out loud. Because I'm not already tortured every day that my baby boy is cared for by someone else as I sit at my stupid desk and order socks or remove salt from pretzel sticks. Because when I walk to the Fedex box and see babies crying and their nannies trying to console them I don't worry about my son and if he's crying and if his lady is consoling him. Because I don't want to scream with jealousy at the girls standing in the bakery discussing their latest playgroup gossip over their ridiculous strollers as I frantically fix myself a cup of coffee on my schlep to work. So thanks Dad, for bringing it to my attention in the middle of my awesome day.

My job has always sucked. My boss is a walking, talking cross between Michael Scott and Mr. Pitt. I do nothing remotely important or meaningful during my day and never have in the almost 5 years I've been here. The thing is, before Bo, I never cared. I was Jim Halpert to my boss's Michael Scott. Frank's own work schedule is always shifting so missing weekends was no big deal since he was usually at work too. The pay for putting up with the craziness made the 14 or 15 hour days (and 100+ hour weeks) totally worth it. There were also perks galore like shoes with red soles and a personal trainer. It was a good gig.

Now I'm working only part time. Fake. Part time by the standards of this job still means one 10+ hour day a week, really being firm about when I have to leave, and still leaving at least an hour later than planned. The upside is that it's not every day. The downside is no regular person would call the work schedule I'm keeping these days "part time". There aren't as many perks. There's a new girl keeping most of my old hours and now she gets all the extras.

I tell myself that I would go crazy staying home all day, every day with the boy - I tried to write as much in this space - but it wouldn't be true. The days I leave him with the sitter and go to work are so sad for me and I count the minutes until I can leave to get back to him. I'm having a terrible time trying to balance it all (like every other working mom out there I know). There are days where I feel pushed to the floor by the stress of trying to figure out a way to maintain everything.

We could most likely get by on Frank's salary but it would be hard. It would involve more sacrifice than we're willing to make. I don't want my husband working himself to death with overtime, missing his own time with our son so that I can stay home. And I like going to work. It feels good to put on nice clothes and leave the house. I like contributing to the family coffers. I also believe it's good for Bo to get the socialization of other people and other kids.

(I'm going in circles with this post. Can you tell I'm just trying to work my shit out by writing it down?)

It makes me angry and sad and bitter that I have to leave my son with someone else to do this. This nothing of a job. This glorified babysitting of a man old enough to be my son's grandfather; older than my own father by 7 years. This job that requires no specialized skills or abilities, only never ending patience and absolute devotion bordering on co-dependence.

I used to be a teacher. A really good teacher, I don't mind saying. I worked in a terrible school in an awful neighborhood on purpose. The conditions of the school were bad and the pay sucked. I made a difference every day just by showing up and I loved it.


I had an interview a couple of weeks ago with my old school district. I'm going back in January.

It's a trade off to be sure. My work schedule will be five days a week instead of 3 or 4 (or 5, if I'm honest) but I'll be done every day by 4pm. Nobody will call me at home at 9pm because he can't figure out how to switch from cable to the dvd player (swear to God) or because he needs help in drafting a mean email to his ex-wife over how she mothers their children. My weekends will be my own. Bo will technically spend more time with the sitter but not really, since Frank's days off are during the week most of the time. It's going to be hard and thankless.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I'm not quite done beating myself up over allowing my son to fall on his head. In fact, the very next day walking down the front steps of our house with the boy in the carrier, I achieved the advanced move of stepping on the hem of my right pant leg with the heel of my left shoe. We have 12 front steps. Somehow I managed to not lose my grip on the carrier and sort of pitched myself sideways so I landed in the ivy, one ass cheek slamming hard onto the step but the baby landing right side up.

That was an awesome start to the day.


A couple weeks ago my mom and I were talking about winter coats for Bo and I mentioned something about the one piece snowsuit deals and she said do NOT get one of those things because it's her experience that babies hate those things.

Her experience.

One day my mom decided to take us to the playground near my grandparents' house for the afternoon. She liked to take us for walks during the day, to get out of the house and do something. The playground was within walking distance but not close. It was probably a 10 minute walk for an adult alone. There were four of us at the time, ages 4,3,2, and 1 (roughly) so it was probably more like a 30 minute walk.

When we got to the playground my mom turned us loose to play while she wrestled my brother (the one year old) out of the stroller. He was pissed and thrashy because he hated his one piece snowsuit. In the time it took her to take her eyes off of us and wrangle him, my younger sister, Maria (the two year old) fell off her swing and broke her arm.

It was about 1981 or so. Mom was 25 years old. She didn't speak any English (neither did my older sister or myself). There were no cell phones. Still, she didn't panic or freak out. She got my brother back into the stroller, turned her scarf into a sling for Maria's arm, and walked all four of us back to my grandparents' house where she could call my dad at work and my grandfather could take her and Maria to the hospital.

I have no memory of the event at all. I vaguely remember Maria's arm being in a cast but barely.

I'm 32 years old. I have one kid. I speak the language. I have a cell phone and a driver's license and a car. Still, I think I would melt into a puddle of panic faced with that situation. I certainly don't think I would have the presence of mind to fashion a sling out of my scarf.

My lesson? Kids get hurt and it's not the end of the world.

No snowsuits for Bo.

And maybe one baby is enough for me.

Monday, October 26, 2009


It's not my intention to let this blog languish for weeks at a time. I was talking to Lora the other day (it was more than 2 weeks ago but in the freaky fastforward wormhole that sucked me in the day Bo was born, that was like yesterday) about how this blog sucks. Her response was that it doesn't so much suck as it's just nonexistent. So true. It's not that I don't have anything to talk about or think about or work through. I just sort of suck at life these days.

Speaking of sucking at life...

You know that expression we like to use about how people should be required to obtain a license to have kids? I solemnly swear to never, ever say that again. Because if it were true and I passed the test in the first place (which is no guarantee. My stupid driving test took 3 tries. And I was 23 years old.), my license would have been revoked already, multiple times. Because I suck. I also promise to never again snark about the ridiculously unecessary warnings all over every baby item ever produced, as I am apparently their target audience. That audience being, of course, morons.

Last weekish, I was in the kitchen with the baby, trying to clean out the refrigerator. He was in the bumbo seat because he MUST! BE! UPRIGHT! at all times. In being upright though, he must be no more than 2 feet from my face. So I had him in the bumbo, in one of our kitchen chairs. The chairs are those high, bar stool style ones for sitting at a counter. Or a bar. They do have backs, they're not actual stools. Anyway, he was in one of those chairs and I had him pulled close to me, within (what I thought was)arm's reach. Except notsomuch.

In the minute it took to turn my head and shove something down the garbage disposal, that boy fidgeted and wriggled himself right off the edge of the chair, head first, onto the floor. Onto the ceramic tile kitchen floor. Head first.

Then I had to be the idiot mom at the pediatrician's office (at 8pm bless them) explaining that I had my baby rigged precariously and let him fall off of a chair. I could not believe I was actually uttering the words "I just turned around for a minute". GAH. I wanted to roll my eyes at myself.

He was fine. The doctor isn't sure he even hit his head at all.

It's becoming scarily clear though, that could be the first of many trips we'll be making to the doctor's office/emergency room with this boy. He spends most of his day launching himself head first at things he wants or at nothing in particular. When he's not trying to bash his skull, he's attempting to escape from whatever I've tried to use as confinement. He makes the exersaucer move across the floor with all his vigorous thrashing about, he's figured out how to use his foot as leverage to get out of the bumbo seat (that thing is so retired by the way), and more than once he's rolled clear out of our laps. I'm not saying it's ok to drop your baby, but I understand how it could happen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Close Encounters of the Feline Kind

When I was little we had a crazy mutt of a dog. Some dog in the neighborhood had a litter (there were always litters of puppies and kittens in the neighborhood) and all it took to get my dad to agree to a dog was to put the tiny mewling thing on his chest as he sat in his recliner one night. Such a simple manipulation and the puppy was ours. My mom gave her the name Gypsy and it was a harbinger of the wild, incorrigible mutt she would turn out to be.

In hindsight, my parents probably had no business getting a dog at all. My mom was pregnant with baby number 6 or 7, I can't remember. Either way, it's pretty safe to assume that she and my dad were holding things together with both hands. The oldest of us was about 8 and the youngest was a toddler, Maybe about 14 months old.

Gypsy was a maniac. She ran all over the house, she chewed things, and she never stopped barking. I remember taking her for walks and she would drag me along behind her as she strained at the leash to go faster and farther. We could never let her off the leash because there was no guarantee she would ever come back. Now that I'm an adult (an adult who has seen many, many episodes of the Dog Whisperer), I realize that Gypsy needed way more exercise than she could get living in our little Southwest Philadelphia rowhouse. My mom didn't have the time or energy to devote to training Gypsy much past housebreaking and had to resort to simply letting her out in the backyard (we mercifully had a backyard) when the kids old enough to walk her were in school during the day.

And then one day, Gypsy was on a tear through the house and she ran right over the baby and scratched his face. He was fine (I'm pretty sure it was my brother) but I'm guessing that was when my mom reached her limit. One day I came home from school and it occurred to me that I hadn't seen Gypsy in a couple of days. I still remember my mom swallowing hard before telling me that she and my dad had sent Gypsy to live on a farm where she would have plenty of room to run and play.

Apparently people really give their kids that line, it's not just for television.

I should ask my mom what they really did with her.


We got Kitty a few months after we got married. He adopted us. Frank came home one night from work the bar and found him stretched out across the front step of our building. When Frank brought him upstairs, that cat immediately started purring and winding himself in and around my legs like he had known me for years. That was all he needed to do. He was our cat forever from that night, when he howled and scratched at the bedroom door until I let him in and he curled up on my pillow next to my head. We never could decide on a name for him and eventually he just started answering to Kitty.

We soon found out that this cat is um, psycho. He's incredibly needy, especially for a cat. He must always be in my face, on my lap, in my ear. He endlessly bashes his face into mine, which I know is a sign of deep affection but hi, so annoying. He licks the corners of my eyes and the tip of my nose when I'm sleeping. He does that kneading, pawing thing endlessly, especially when I'm sleeping. If he could find a way to crawl inside my face and live there, he would be the happiest cat ever.

Kitty also has aggression issues. He wants to be stroked and petted and scratched and then he doesn't. He makes his feelings clear by attacking the hand of whomever is showering him with love. He waits in corners and just on the other side of doorways to bat and scratch at the ankles of passersby. Our poor black lab outweighs Kitty by at least 50 lbs and even she avoids crossing the lunatic's path. We've gotten him toys for him to play with, thinking that the aggression is misplaced energy and boredom but no, just pure crazy. Even the vet - who is exclusively a cat vet - said he was the weirdest cat she'd ever met.

It's always been sort of a joke amongst our friends that our cat is the devil. Everyone knows to ignore him and they all try petting him at their own risk. We chalked every one of his quirks up to being lost on the streets for an unknown amount of time and gave him more love. He was just our misunderstood kitty that we loved no matter what.

Of course, we were quite worried how Kitty would react when the baby came. I didn't believe any of the old wives' tales/urban legends about the cat that smothered the baby, but Kitty's neediness comes with a side of extreme jealousy. I was worried about him climbing over the baby to get to my face. People say that cats instinctively stay away from babies and display gentleness with small children. While I'd never really seen Kitty interact with kids, I had no reason to think that he would suddenly find sanity upon the arrival of a smaller, weaker rival for my attention.

Clearly, I was right to be concerned

If he was allowed any closer to Bo's face, he would so be on it. Because that damn baby is in his spot.

Unfortunately, when we're not shooing Kitty away, we're ignoring him altogether. This has resulted in way more nighttime face diving since the baby is in bed and my arms/lap/face is free. As soon as Bo goes to bed for the night, Kitty climbs into my lap. As soon as I'm in bed for the night, Kitty is on my face or on my pillow, behind my head, both paws in my hair.

Things took a bad turn the other day when Bo - who is now all about grabbing at everything around him - took a few swipes at the cat. Kitty responded by batting Bo in the face. I was in the shower and I could hear the screaming through the closed bathroom door, shower running, radio on.

You may be surprised to learn that Kitty is still breathing.

There weren't any scratches. We don't think he used his claws. It was like a warning shot I guess.

So now what? We really don't know. It's unthinkable to me to take Kitty to the pound and essentially abandon him. There's a good chance he was abandoned once and that's how he ended up on our front step. On the other hand, I can't have a psycho cat attacking my baby.


This all happened like 3 weeks ago, which is when I started this post. Apparently though I live in some kind of wormhole where time slips by without my knowledge.

Kitty is still with us, still desperate for attention and pushing the proximity envelope with Bo. Our solution for now is to not let Bo reach out for the cat and to do our best to keep the cat away from Bo. I'm sure we'll have to revisit once the boy is crawling.

Maybe I'll get the name of that farm from my mom.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And If You Got 10 Sticky Fingers...

Like most 4 month olds, Bo has discovered hands. He loves to watch my hands do things and he puts his hands on mine when I'm buckling him into his car seat or stroller, like he's helping. He doesn't really stare at his own hands so much as suck on them all day long. He tries to get both fists into his mouth at once sometimes. He'll also sit playing with his tongue and chewing on his fingers at the back of his mouth, where his molars will eventually be.

Anything else in the general vicinity of is face will end up in his mouth too. He's starting to figure out how to grab things and anything he manages to get into his hands goes straight to his mouth. He chews on my shoulder when we're walking around and he even got a handful of my hair in there today (because the hair is excellent for grabbing and holding onto, apparently. I really need a hair cut btw.). Bo will grab Frank's thumb and put it in his mouth and go to town. He'll even take a break, pulling Frank's thumb out and then putting it back in. He does it with the pacifier too.

Even though this is all normal developmental stuff, my baby is a genius. No baby has ever figured out how to put things in his mouth as efficiently and smartly as my boy. And the drool is just proof of his incredibly giant and brilliant brain. SHUT UP, he's a genius.

I'm a little concerned though, because he's sucking his thumb a lot. He's pretty much given up the pacifier in favor of the thumb. He'll actually spit the pacifier out so he can suck his thumb. Mostly I'm unconcerned. Except for a little bit. Because I don't want Bo to be a thumb sucker and he's already displaying some of the behaviors of one. He sucks for comfort when he's feeling upset or stressed, he sucks to get himself to sleep and to get back to sleep if he startles himself awake. I have visions of him being one of those 6 year olds you see at the mall, still in the stroller, sucking away. And well, ew.

I'm unconcerned because he's only 4 months old. This isn't a hard and fast habit he's developing here. Right? RIGHT? The other thing is, it's so damned cute. He gets that fat little thumb into his mouth and sucks like there's no tomorrow. Sometimes his enormous head falls forward into his lap because he's so intent on getting as much of the thumb into his mouth as possible, he can't expend the effort pick that melon up.

I'm trying to get some sort of schedule going with this boy (and oy, talk about sucking), part of which is getting him to sleep before 11pm, on his own, without nursing himself into unconsciousness. The trade off is the thumb. Am I setting myself up for a fight down the road? Is there going to be a pepper on the thumb showdown in our future? If I discourage the thumb in favor of the pacifier, isn't it really just the same thing?

No really, I'm asking you.

Because I'm a marshmallow when it comes to this boy.

Do you see those legs? Those legs are so FAT that they get stuck in the Bumbo. I pick the boy up and the seat comes with him.




two posts in two days. you have to be impressed. I'm just saying.

Monday, August 17, 2009

So Much To Haaaaate

Forgive me for the sputtering incoherence of this post.

Have you seen this train wreck?


I'm unfamiliar with the whole dating reality show genre. I've managed to avoid every season of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette purely out of disinterest. This show however, sucked me in by having the time slot directly following Hell's Kitchen. I love me some Gordon Ramsey.

This show annoyed me from the jump with all its damn commercials about "real women" looking for love. All the stats about the average size of the American woman versus the average size of the reality dating show contestant. I'm sorry, are the women on all of those other shows cartoon characters? Are they figments of our imagination? And come on, skinny women aren't really the biggest obstacles to reality on any of these shows.

Given the setup, I was fully expecting a whole, "big girls are beautiful, we're here and we're curvy sodealwithit" love fest. I was expecting a group of women confident in their own skin, having a great time, fighting for the affections of some dude. That would have been something.

Like I said, I'm unfamiliar with the genre. I wish I still were.

These women are so saaaad. And the show totally takes advantage of their self esteem issues and filters their entire life stories through the lens of being overweight. Rather than portray the contestants as confident in their bodies and comfortable with themselves, the show does everything to make it clear that "fat" and "pathetic" are basically synonymous. It almost seems as if the more they talk about their weight and body issues, the more screen time they get. It's even obvious during some of their narrative interviews that the producer sitting there is prompting them to circle everything back to weight. It became painfully clear after the first episode that these women hate themselves and every episode is going to pick at the open wound of their self-loathing. On top of that they've layered the promise of Mr. Wonderful and the happy ending of a marriage proposal. Because, you know, marriage totally makes everything easier and better. The wedding is the end of the story.

And they're so young. One woman is only 21 years old (!) and while she's the youngest, I would guess the average age is about 25 or 26. They're talking about how they've never experienced real love and that they've waited "their whole lives" for someone like Luke (Mr. Wonderful) to accept them for who they are and not what they weigh. Really? How is it possible that they think this show is going to be about anything other than their weight? When we first met these ladies, climbing out of their limos and walking up the red carpet to Mr. Wonderful, they were captioned with their name, age, height and weight. Who exactly is accepting them for the wonderful person they are on the inside?

Why are we even calling this a reality show? We all know there's nothing real going on here, right? Do these women know it? I'm just asking, since more than one of them claim to have never been on a date. Do they know that private jets to Vegas, horseback rides, gondolas with sparkly lights, dinners in rented out restaurants, and diamond effing promise rings are not standard dating procedure? Do they know that none of these excursions are Mr. Wonderful's idea? That he's a giant puppet (and I mean giant. Homeboy rings in at something like 6'5", 330lbs) being manipulated by the producers? They keep swooning over how no guy has ever been so romantic or imaginative and how thoughtful Luke is to come up with these wonderful experiences. While he seems like a nice enough guy, he's obviously not long out of the frat house. I'm guessing if left to his own devices, date night would be sucking down beers and wings at the local sports bar with all his buddies.

The last episode was all about Mr. Wonderful presenting them with dresses and taking them to the "prom". In the set up he talks about how he's sure most of these girls had negative experiences with their proms and probably didn't get to go and so he wants to make it up to them. And they're all so excited to go the prom because they never went to prom or their prom sucked or they went with a big group and without a date. And of course all of the bad prom experiences resulted directly from their weight issues but it's all better now because Luke's taking them to prom. Right. Because there's nothing creepy about waiting around to be told what you're going to be doing and then being told what to wear to that activity, when you find out what it is. And you're calling hanging out with some dude and 8 other women "a date".

There's so much that is wrong with this show. Reality television in general is a disaster but this is just awful. I wonder if these women knew what they were getting themselves into. I wonder if they're sitting at home watching this fuming that they're being portrayed as blubbering, needy messes. I sincerely hope that they're angry that every scene and episode shows them eating or making references to food. I mean, there are close up shots of them biting into some kind of beef on a stick and sometimes it's just a close up of the food. Like, let's see what the fat girl is eating. Alcohol doesn't seem as prevalent on this show as others but there seems to be food everywhere. This show is objectifying these women just as much as all the other shows do to thin women, despite the protestations to the contrary in the commercials.

I'm gonna keep watching though. I admit I'm hooked on the spectacular awfulness and even though I'm fully aware of how contrived and manipulated every situation is, even though I get that these women are being reduced to caricature, I'm interested to see what happens next.

I'm so weak.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Babies have a lot of stuff. Ok, my baby has a lot of stuff. Lots of stimulating, brain engaging, fun time toys that he only wants to play with if someone is right there, playing with him. And by someone I mean me.

We have a Bumbo sitter

We haaate to lay down. We must be sitting up at all times. But only if you're sitting next to me. Why are you up there and not down here, entertaining me?

We have a bouncy seat

Which isn't so much for bouncing as it is for spazzing out and talking to the animal friends dangling in front. But don't walk away please. And do NOT turn on that jerk vibration feature.

There's the play gym mat thing whose rightful name I do not know.

Which is not nearly as interesting as your upside down face behind me, Mommy.

And do not even think of putting me on my tummy, lady or I will cut you. Or at least cry.

This mat lives in the pack and play when not in use because the monster of a cat that lives here turned it into his personal kitty bed ten minutes after it hit the floor. And Bo hates the pack and play. Will not lay in it. If I put him down in it after he's fallen asleep, he immediately wakes up and starts screaming. So I use it to hold stuff, like blankets and extra clothes and the play mat thingy. I'm tidy.

We have rattles and stuffed animals and loveys. We have books and videos and a Sesame Street Subscription on YouTube. All of this is fantastic, fun stuff. As long as I'm right there, playing along. And if the game can take place in my lap, even better.

It's a pretty good gig.

*And yes those are green monkeys. They're pajamas people.

**You may notice nail polish on my thumb. It's only on my thumb. And half chipped off.

***What? I'm not letting myself go...

****The pacifier? I'm not worried about nipple confusion. This boy will suck on anything happily, including my shoulder and Frank's nose.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Because This Stuff is Hard

I've been wanting to write this post for months now. It's been banging around in my brain this whole time but the longer I've waited, the more perspective I've gained. There's a distinct possibility that my terminal smugness may have contributed to some of the issues I had with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is haaard. And at first I was very angry that, amidst all the literature and commercials and general beating over the head you endure while pregnant that breastfeeding is best, nobody wants to talk about how hard it is. And how it can really suck. I find the photos you see of a mom staring lovingly down at the child at her breast silly and misleading but also guilt inducing. Like I'm some kind of bad mother already because I don't enjoy the wonderful bonding experience of nursing my son. But now I realize some of the trouble I had could have been avoided if I would have taken a minute to climb down off of my stupid high horse and listen.

I paid very little attention to the information about breastfeeding that was available to me while I was pregnant. I took it for granted that this was something I wasn't going to have a problem with. There had to be some reason why I'd been carrying around a freakishly large rack my whole life. I didn't bother taking a breastfeeding class (then again I didn't take a childbirth class either. Not so much with the being prepared over here) and when I read about it I pretty much glossed over the war stories of cracked and bleeding nipples, engorgement, and incorrect latching or not latching at all. In my own defense, I did pay close attention to the descriptions and directions on how to get the baby to latch properly but reading about it and doing it are so not the same. And the baby? didn't read any directions.

Everything was fine in the hospital - before my milk came in. The baby was latching on just fine and while it wasn't a pleasant sensation, I wasn't losing any skin in the deal. The nurse gave me some lasinoh and I was religious about using it and everything was great. I was nursing every two hours exactly, waking the boy up to do so because of his jaundice and weight loss. My mom was visiting while I nursed and she said that I looked like a natural with the baby. That was some high praise from a lady who had 7 kids in 9 years and nursed us all and it only increased my bloated sense of self-satisfaction. There was a breastfeeding class on the postpartum floor the day after Bo was born and I turned my nose up at it with the attitude of "I'm too busy actually feeding my baby to bother with that." Also, "Sissies". I was also trying to prove that I was saner than my roommate who dragged the lactation consultant back to her bedside after the class was over.

Then day two of Bo's life dawned. He decided to wake up to the world around him and he was hungry! Clusterfeeding is not an adequate description of what ensued. He nursed nonstop for hours. He would fall asleep on the boob and wake up 30 minutes later ravenous again. We were leaving the hospital that day and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get him off long enough for the ride home. I asked the nurse for a pacifier just so he could suck on something. At some point that day my milk started to come in for real and that's when the fun started.

There are a lot of things that happen to your body after you have a baby that nobody really talks about, perhaps because it doesn't happen to everyone or it's different for everyone or it's one of those things that go fuzzy after time. There's an outside chance I just didn't pay attention to those bits of information in my research'. At any rate, up until the milk came in, I was going braless at night and it was totally fine. The engorgement started in the middle of the night, along with the worst night sweats I've ever experienced in my life. I woke up soaked, shaking and shivering. I had to change my pajamas it was so bad. The sweating made me have the chills too which left me sore and achy. On top of the soreness and ache of having just given birth. Awake during one of these bouts, I rolled over and wondered when someone put a ten pound weight on my chest. Oh wait, those are just my boobs! I had to get up in the middle of the night and fumble around for a bra because My boobs had become rock hard and even bigger - which dear God, how is that even possible.

I don't know when exactly my nipples started bleeding but let's just say things went from bad to worse rather quickly. Bo couldn't latch on anymore. It was like trying to suck a softball. Or a honeydew. So he would cry and scream and get on there any way he could. Then I would cry, first from the frustration of not being able to feed my son and then from the extreme pain of his latch which I wouldn't break because the poor child finally got on there and was getting some food. Meanwhile, he's going to the doctor every day and his stupid bilirubin numbers kept climbing and the doctor is suggesting we supplement with formula until I establish my supply. Dude. I've got milk coming out of my ears. Supply isn't the problem here*.

After about 3 days of this - which felt like my whole life - I swallowed my stupid, stupid pride and called the lactation center that the doctor recommended. I was very leery of the lactation consultant after hearing stories of how mean and strict and fear inducing they can be. Thankfully, this was not to be my experience. That lady saved my sanity. She helped me with how to hold Bo in a football style so that I wasn't covering his entire face with my boob. She told me to get rid of the Boppy because it positioned Bo too high up and made the angle all wrong. She watched me try to nurse him and helped me with finger placement and all that stuff. Turns out I had interpreted the directions and diagrams wrong and was doing it wrong.

Shocking, right?

At this point I was so engorged that my fingers were leaving dents, dents behind and it was just too difficult for the baby to get his tiny mouth to latch on because it was too hard and smooth and he couldn't get any traction. That's when Collette, the lovely lactation angel, gave me the tool that saved everything. She said maybe we should try a nipple shield. And then there were rainbows and unicorns and a chorus in the background. The boy was able to latch on to that and suck away happily. It also sort of slowed down the flow so he could swallow without choking. As a bonus, it really did work as a shield, putting a barrier between his vigorous sucking and my poor torn up, bleeding nipples. They healed in about a week, around the same time we got into a rhythm of supply and demand and the softballs went away.

But I still am no fan. And I feel guilty about it and then I'm mad that I feel guilty about it. I know it's the best thing and what nature intended and blah blah blah. I'm doing it, ok? I'm sticking with it as long as I possibly can stand it. But I think a disservice is being done here in the effort to reverse the formula trend of the 70s and 80s and get women to breastfeed. It's irresponsible to say that breastfeeding doesn't hurt. It does hurt, especially in the beginning. As Collette said to me, we're talking about very sensitive erectile tissues being pulled and tugged and freaking chewed on all day long. That shit hurts. Even now that the baby and I are a well oiled machine and I can nurse him in the dark, it sometimes hurts. And that's with the nipple shield. He bites.

It makes me mad that the breastfeeding propaganda machine makes me feel like a bad mom for saying that it sucks. It makes me madder that there are girls out there who just can't do it and they're made to feel lazy or weak if they don't stick with it. Some people just can't do it and we need to recognize that and support those women. There are no medals or merit badges for breastfeeding. I grant that it's the best thing for baby and it's what nature intended and all that and it should at least be attempted. Sometimes nature fails though, and in the past when nature failed, babies used to die. We need to give each other a break. Being a new mom is stressful and hard enough without the added pressure of trying to make your body do something it's just not going to do.

There's nothing wrong with just wanting your body back, either. Nine months of pregnancy, childbirth (no matter what kind), and new motherhood beats the hell out of you even if you don't breastfeed. At some point you want to feel less like a milk machine and more like a person again. We should support that too. The whole business of pregnancy and parenthood is intensely personal. That needs to be respected and honored no matter what form it takes. As long as the baby is loved and cared for and safe and well fed, the rest of it is nobody's business.

And now I need a drink. All the shouting from up here has made me thirsty. Maybe my horse needs a drink too.

*Bo was back up to his birth weight - over it actually - by the time we went and got help. Supply was certainly not the issue. Stupid pride was.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting My Feet Wet

We joined a pool this summer - a swim club. No, not that swim club. We actually were careful to check that this pool didn't have such membership requirements before we joined. It would've been a deal breaker for us for sure. You have to be careful when you start joining organizations that designate themselves as "clubs" for that very reason. We narrowed our search down to two pools and picked the one that allows alcohol on the premises. Gotta have priorities.

The pool is lovely. It's leafy and cool, with lots of sunny spots and shady spots. It totally takes me back to the pool we used to go to when I was little. There's a snack bar and a baby pool and a deep pool with two diving boards, a one meter and a 3 meter board. When I was little the 3 meter board seemed skyscraper high. It was a terrifying thrill to jump off of it and a major accomplishment - worthy of screaming at my parents to watch me! - to dive off. It's funny to look at this board and think that it can't possibly be as high, the old board must've been way higher.

I haven't been off the dives yet. I haven't even been in the pool yet. Bo finds the pool extremely uninteresting and spends most of our days there sleeping, either on a blanket in the shade or in the stroller. Much like his attitude towards the bathtub, he doesn't really care for the pool. We got him in gradually up to his butt and that was ok but there was no splashing or laughing, just bewilderment and lots of squinting. Getting him any wetter resulted in lots of screaming. It's a process, I understand. So we sit in the shade and watch all the kids race back and forth from the pool to the playground to the snack bar.

And man, there are kids! And moms! There are lots of moms with babies right around Bo's age, maybe a month or two older. There's a mom I've seen there twice now with a baby that looks to be about 6 weeks old. I could maybe be friends with these women if I, you know, talked to them instead of silently appraising their strollers/post baby bodies/children's behavior. It might be nice to have some mom friends in the general area since I left all my friends way far away when we moved up here (this is Philadelphia, moving 30 minutes up the Schuylkill is like leaving the state). Someone who could come over for coffee and a fake play date that's really for us and not our kids.

But making friends is not my strong suit. It never has been. I'm weird and shy. Not painfully unable to function in society shy or freak you out when you talk to me weird. Just not the girl who's going to strike up a conversation with the person the next blanket over. It makes me seem snobby and standoffish but I'm really not. Just shy. And weird. It's like I'm the new girl at school and everybody already knows everybody. They all stand in the baby pool with the kids on their hips or in the water and they're chatting and gossiping and I just watch from my chair in the shade, unsure of how to get into the conversation. Or even what I would say.

But look! I'm a mom too! And my boy is cute. Wanna be my friend?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bring the Noise

One of these years I'm going to learn how to stop being so damned smug. Either that or the universe is just going to keep smacking me in the head every once in a while, especially when I'm so obviously asking for it.

I just couldn't stop talking about what a pleasant baby Bo is. How happy he is all the time. How even with the reflux, he's still bubbly and giggly and how he'll projectile vomit and then laugh. My baby is the best baby in whole wide world. So there.

Right. Except for the screaming.

We took Bo to the doctor yesterday for his 2 month checkup* - he'll be 11 weeks old on Thursday - and during our conversation I asked for tips on how to make bath time easier. I think my exact words were how to make it not a living nightmare. Because, seriously**. The doctor suggested switching bath time to the mornings if we find that Bo is in a better mood. I said that might be a good idea since Bo is a miserable, screaming disaster from about 6 - 9pm every night and he said yeah, that's colic.

Colic. When I'd been mouthing off all over the place about how my boy is so great and do babies even get colic anymore? What the hell is colic anyway? Bam. Here's some colic. Shut up smug lady.

It's so sad, the screaming, and there's nothing I can do about it. He just screams and screams, his little tongue curled back in his mouth and his face all red. He screams so hard he stops making any sound and then coughs and hacks and screams some more. He screams so hard he makes his skin all blotchy for hours afterward. I walk him and talk to him in low tones and sing to him and do that obnoxious shushing noise but there's really nothing to do but wait until he feels better. Sometimes he'll rip a few killer farts and that helps. Yesterday and today we had scream fests in the morning too. Today he did not take one nap that lasted more than an hour.

And then I get scared. Today he wore himself out screaming but he wasn't sleeping. He was just sitting in his swing and sort of staring into space, without really blinking, which was totally freaking me out. Then he fell asleep and I couldn't leave him sleep in the swing because he just looked so strange; the look on his face was not one I'd ever seen before and it was unsettling and I get scared when I see things like that because the specter is always there. The specter of SIDS that never fully leaves my consciousness. So instead of leaving him nap in his swing I picked him up and stretched him out on my chest to nap. I wasn't going to get any laundry done that way but I would be able to feel every breath he took and thereby keep breathing myself.

I know it's upsetting for him too because he just wants to be held. He will not be put down when he's awake on a day when he's feeling especially screamy. Interestingly, today he was fine as long as he could see me. He was cool in his swing while I puttered around and fought the never ending war against animal hair (tumbleweeds of pet hair blow across your path around here) , but as soon as I was out of sight, the bottom lip would poke out and the whimpering would start. He cat napped in his bassinet this afternoon while I fought the Ikea dresser from hell one more time but again, as soon as I was out of his line of sight, instant whining. He'll tolerate the sling but he has to be in the mood for it, and that hasn't been recently.

It's exhausting and there are moments when I think I may actually go insane if the screaming doesn't stop Right. This. Minute. It's not the noise. I'm impervious to the noise. It's the fact that there's nothing I can do and he's so upset and I can't fix it for him and he can't tell me what's wrong. There are days when I want to hand Bo off to Frank as soon as he gets home from work because I just need a damn minute to maybe walk around the block and regroup. But it's not like Frank just came home from a day at the beach and it's not fair to thrust a screaming, writhing boy into his arms when he's just getting home from a long day of his own.

It's not the worst case in the world. He doesn't cry for consecutive hours. He takes breaks and short naps - because he wears himself the hell out - and he's still cheerful and happy and smiley. He still smiles and gurgles at me when he wakes, even if he screamed himself to sleep twenty minutes earlier. And he's still the best baby in the whole world, colic and reflux be damned.


* For those of you keeping score, Bo came in at 15lbs 7oz and 25 inches long. He's a frickin' moose. All of his development is right on track and he's even a little ahead of the game in that he's already recognized himself in the mirror and cracks himself up making faces and talking to himself. Because he's a genius.

** I may never bathe this child again. Today I decided to take advantage of his very cheerful mood to give him his first bath since last Wednesday. Frank was all ready with the video camera and as soon as Bo's foot touched the water, it was over. The screaming and the writhing began. If Bo had better motor skills he would launch himself right out of his whale of a tub, I'm sure. This screaming really gets me because I'm doing it to him and I'm causing him to be that way. It's so not worth it.

How dirty could he possibly be getting anyway?

My boy doesn't actually have freaky colorless eyes without pupils. It was either this or red, demon eyes. This is the best I could do with the red eye reduction tool. His eyes are still the dark, crystal blue they were at birth.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boaz's Birth Story

You know why it's taken so long to write Bo's birth story? Because it's boring. And a little anticlimactic. It's not boring to me, but out of the pool of interesting birth stories, this one is definitely wearing swimmies in the shallow end.

I did manage to piss off my roommate on the night Bo was born with this story but in my defense she asked and I was high on the adrenaline of the whole experience and she asked and how was I supposed to know her own experience may not have been so smooth and she was a raving lunatic*?

Anyway, I'm telling the story because I never get sick of it. I don't think it's boring and it's within my rights as a mom to regale any and all with it's awesome unremarkableness.

We went to the doctor for my regular 38 week appointment on April 16 fully anticipating that he would decide to just send me across the street to Labor and Delivery for an induction. Even though we were totally expecting it - my hospital bag had been in the car for weeks - I tried to downplay our excitement. I kept saying that the doctor may decide that I'm not ready and send us home for another week. Frank said either I would be admitted to the hospital that day or the doctor would. After weeks and weeks of contractions and bed rest and false alarms, we were ready to get the show on the road.

Thankfully, after checking me the doctor declared that I was 100% effaced and even though I was only about 1 1/2cm dilated he thought it was best to get me admitted and induced because he wasn't going to be on call over the weekend when I would most certainly go into labor on my own - to which we said woohoo! He stripped my membranes a little - which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - and sent us across the street. He called ahead to Labor and Delivery with specific instructions to admit me directly (without an exam) and that the midwives were not to come near me until he got onto the floor in the afternoon. He didn't want them waving sticks over my head and reading their tea leaves and neither did I.

We got to the hospital and got settled into the delivery room which freaked me out a little because there was the scale and the warmer and all the tiny hats and blankets. Like a baby would be in this room soon. It was just suddenly so real. We had been waiting for him for months and months, getting more and more impatient every week and then it seemed like it would be so soon. The feeling of excitement and anticipation (and not a little panic) was overwhelming.

They hooked me up to the pitocin drip and we tried to get comfortable. It was about 12:30 and we weren't expecting to see the doctor again until around 3pm. Frank had been up since 4am for work and I hadn't really slept in weeks so we tried to nap but it was all too exciting so we emailed and texted and made phone calls and updated our Facebooks to let people know it was for real this time.

Right around 3:30 the doctor came in to see how I was doing and I didn't have much to report. I was having contractions but they weren't any worse than the ones I had been having for months and I wasn't uncomfortable so I hadn't asked for the epidural. The doctor broke my water - such a weird sensation, like a fountain is all of a sudden coming out of your business, a fountain you have no control over - and then suggested that I get the epidural. Unless I wanted to know what active labor felt like. I was not interested in that experience and agreed to just get it. It had been my plan all along to get it as soon as possible. Getting the epidural and avoiding pain was pretty much the extent of my "birth plan". The doctor left to order the epidural and the little anesthesiologist came in right away. Getting an epidural is a strange and not terribly comfortable experience as you sit there with your back exposed all the way down to your ass and you receive injections and a catheter into your spine but it wasn't really that bad, especially when your anesthesiologist is a little Italian man right out of central casting who talks to you about Pedro Almodovar and Spain the whole time.

The epidural had an almost tranquilizing effect on me. I was finally able to really relax and sort of sleep. Frank was starving but didn't want to leave my side in case he missed something. I promised him I was only going to sleep for a while and that no babies would be born while he was inhaling a cheeseburger. He eventually left to get some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. I just kind of drifted in semi-consciousness for a while, not really sleeping and watched TV. The moms showed up around 5 or 6 and we chatted and waited. We listened to the Phillies game on Frank's Iphone because it wasn't on the hospital television. The nurses kept jacking up the pitocin a little at a time and I felt nothing. Frank kept watching the contraction monitor and asking, "you really can't feel that?". I felt nothing. Not even pressure.

What I did feel was effing hungry because even though I knew I was most likely having a baby that day, I didn't bother to eat any breakfast before leaving for the doctor's office. Because I'm a genius.

Eventually, maybe around 8pm, Bo's head came all the way down and I could really feel it. There was about an hour of skull on pelvis, bone on bone, pain. I tried breathing and staring at a fixed spot (the polka dots on my boppy), but that was some intense pain. There were tears and some serious squeezing of Frank's hand. The nurse came in and saw my face and called the doctor. He came in ordered some kind of epidural booster shot. He said he'd give it 10 minutes to work after which it would be time to push, and either the booster would work or I would just have to push through the pain. Thankfully, the booster worked like a charm and I was back to blissful numbness. So much so that the doctor had to put my legs in the stirrups for me because I couldn't feel them to move them. It was like they were asleep. It was awesome.

Then it was time to push. It was really more of a conversation interrupted by occasional pushing. We talked about how we love Disney World and drinking a beer in every country at Epcot. Push. How Frank puked on the grass in Epcot during Illuminations last summer. Push. The doctor told funny stories about women pooping on his shoes during delivery. Push. This went on for about 45 minutes and then Bo was out.

There were some small issues after he was out but I can't really remember. He didn't breathe right away and the cord was around his neck one time. but then he cried and screamed and everything was wonderful and perfect. They put him on my chest and I cried and kissed Frank and stared at my son. And holy shit I had a son.

The rest is kind of a blur as the pediatrician came in and they cleaned Bo up and weighed him and gave him his Apgar tests (8 and 9). Frank hovered around the edges, taking pictures and listening closely to the language the doctors and nurses were using. Meanwhile, I was getting sewn up from the medium episiotomy the doctor performed to get Bo's giant head out.

After we were all fixed up and presentable, they let the moms back in. They could have stayed for the delivery. Hospital policy allows three support people in the room but I didn't want anyone there but Frank. My doctor, in his awesomeness, kicked them out for me. I didn't even have a chance to ask the nurse to get them, they were practically beating down the door to be let back in.

After about a half hour of phone calls and pictures and tears, they took Bo to the nursery to get cleaned up for real and they wheeled me to the postpartum recovery floor, which is the only part of the story that sucks.

It's a very busy hospital all the time because it has a high standard of care and a good reputation, especially for maternity. It's also one of only two hospitals in the Philadelphia metropolitan area with maternity wards so it also draws moms without health insurance who use the emergency room for prenatal and primary care. On this particular day it was super busy for having babies. They had women in labor in the hallways because they were so short on beds. So of course having a recovery room to myself was not going to happen. Added to the indignity of having to share a room in the first place, the bullshit is that when you have a roommate, your partner/support person can't stay the night and has to leave by 10pm. "Hi, brand new mom and dad! Congratulations! Get out." Since it was almost midnight by the time I got to postpartum, they let Frank stay for a half hour. Bo wasn't even back from the nursery in that time.

A little while after Frank left they brought Bo in and gave him to me. They also gave me a turkey sandwich and some graham crackers which may have been the greatest food I ever ate in my life. I ate it with one hand, holding and staring at the boy the whole time. That night, I couldn't sleep. I was too exhilarated by the whole experience. I just held Bo and stared at him and cried off and on and watched the sun come up. The first of many sunrises we would see together.

*The roommate gets her own story because DAMN.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not the End of the World

So Tuesday came and went and everything was...fine. Actually, better than fine. It was pretty good. There was no meltdown (for me). I didn't cry in the car on the way to work or hide in the bathroom with my grief once I got there.

Getting there was a spectacular exercise in stupid though, and I thought I was in for just the type of day I was expecting.

Monday night I went to sleep still so anxious about the day ahead and worried about leaving enough milk for Bo that after I fed him on Tuesday morning, I pumped some more. Which put me behind in my timing to get ready. So rushing out the door with my giant messenger bag/pump carrier and my purse and without the completed portions of my big at home project, which I left sitting by the door where I had put them so as not to forget them. Awesome.

When I got to the garage where I needed to park, the other person had parked way too far over into my spot so I had to really squeeze in which left me no room to get out of the car. I had to climb over the console to the passenger side to get out. At which point I saw that I hadn't pulled up far enough to shut the garage door. Do you see where this is going? That's right, had to climb back over console, shut the passenger door from the drivers side - because of course my car will not start with an open door, pull up, and then climb back over and out again.

Walking down the street with my bags, two sets of keys, and my phone in hand, can you guess what got dropped? That's right folks, the phone. In front of two painter/construction worker guys having their morning coffee and waiting for their day to start. Only after picking up the phone and walking around the corner do I realize that the tracball had popped out and there was a gaping hole in the middle of my phone. Does the piece of crap Blackberry at all without that particular little piece of plastic? No. So I had to go back around the corner and search the ground for it. In front of the same guys who say, "aww did it break?" To which I wanted to answer, "Do you find this funny? Because I will cut you." instead of just smiling and saying something generic like, "yeah, I do it all the time".

It was about 7:15 and I was already thinking FAIL. But it wasn't so bad.

It was actually kind of nice. *gasp*

It was nice to get myself ready to go somewhere alone. It was great to get out of the house by myself. I enjoyed driving my windy road blasting the radio without worrying about someone crashing into us or the music being too loud for tiny ear drums. It was, I'll admit, awesome to walk down the street without looking like a mom. Getting checked out by creepy painter guys notwithstanding.

My kids were so happy to see me and we had a wonderful ride to their camp chatting and laughing, just like our rides to school before I left. The rest of the day flew by. It was the same nonsense it always has been. I wouldn't say I got any work done but then, I rarely did before. I picked the kids up from camp, did some more fake ass office work, went with one of the kids to the bakery, drank coffee and ate a cupcake, and then went home.

What I did not manage to do was pump at work. I could not get it together to tell my boss I needed to do it, which is so lame. Could I be a bigger sissy? I know! But it never seemed like a good time and to be honest, between the bullcrap work I was doing and the driving around, there really wasn't a good time to take a break and do it. I wasn't too uncomfortable by the time I left. I did manage to sneak it in on Wednesday while the boss was in physical therapy. The whole thing is so weird. More on that in my upcoming post, "breastfeeding can suck it".

I didn't get the pun there till I just read what I typed. Am a literary genius.

Anyway, I went to work and the world didn't end. My boy was sleeping when I got home and happy to see me when he woke up. Or I was happy to see him and projected the rest. Either way I'll take it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Separation Anxiety

Bo and I spent a lot of snuggly time on the couch yesterday morning. He was unhappy every time I put him in his cradle but slept peacefully (and long!) on my chest. As I held him and listened to his little contented puppy noises (when he's not really sleeping, just dozing, he makes this whimpering puppy sound of pure contentment), I cried.

I cried because I knew I was leaving him to go back to work today. I feel like an ass because it's not really going back to work. It's like fake going back to work. So many of you out there have gone back to work for real already and here I am crying in my boy's hair over a few hours away from him.

Work and I have made arrangements for me to come in physically to the office 2 times a week and otherwise sort of telecommute; handling phone calls and emails and such from home. I'm also working on a large project at home that was supposedly started while I was on bed rest except...notsomuch. This arrangement wasn't going to officially start until September once the kids get back in school. Unofficially, I'm simply going for a few hours today and tomorrow to spell the girl who has taken my place, to spare her from working 100 hours this week. Which meanwhile, nobody gave me a break when I was working 100 hours every damn week of my life. It's little wonder I ended up on bed rest.

This is no big deal. I agreed to do it because I knew it was no big deal. I'm really only going to be gone for a few hours and Frank is home the next two days. It's not the first time I've left Bo home with Frank. I've gone to the doctor and the grocery store and even a morning at one of the kid's schools already. I'm not even dropping the boy off at some hellish day care*. Frank knows what he's doing. Sometimes I think he knows more than I do. The tears, they make no sense.

But I was so anxious yesterday and I'm still anxious today. Like, sit on the couch, hug my son and cry anxious. I was worried about being able to pump and leave enough milk for him. I was anxious all day today that what I did pump was enough. Because of course I don't have any storage bags yet and therefore don't have milk stockpiled in my freezer. Because of course I don't. I'm super anxious about pumping at work. It's not exactly the most friendly environment for disappearing from my desk for 15 minutes and it's really not a conversation I want to have with my psycho boss - with whom I share an office. I know it's the law that he has to let me pump and whatever. Even so, I'd rather avoid pointing out the fact that I have breasts at all, although that's probably moot, let alone tell him I have to go hook myself up to a milking machine for a little while. I brought my pump with me today but I don't know if I'll have the guts to actually do it. Also anxious about how the pumping will disrupt the whole supply and demand, sleep cycle, balance thing which I already did on our trip to the beach last week that I'm still trying to fix.

I'm really just anxious because I don't want to leave my boy. Going back today, even for a few hours, just means I'm one step closer to the time I have leave on a regular basis and that makes me saaaaad.

I like being home with him all day. He's changing so much every single day. It's joy to watch him discover is own face in the mirror above his swing. It's freaking magical to hear his developing giggles and laughter. It's fun to play with him, singing silly songs and making eye contact, seeing in his eyes that he recognizes me now. I'm even liking the housework, although I admit I still suck at it. I hate leaving all of that to go sit in an office. An office where my presence is so essential I spent an hour creating a Facebook quiz about myself this morning.

Not that I'm complaining because again, totally aware that a lot of you are working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day and I realize I have a pretty sweet arrangement going. And if I have to be at work, putzing on Facebook beats the hell out of you know, having to actually work on stuff.

If you told me when I was pregnant that I was going to want to stay home, I would have called bullshit on you before you could finish your sentence. Not because I particularly like my job. I don't do anything IMPORTANT (see: Facebook). The world is not a BETTER PLACE because of my work. It's definitely not anything I BELIEVE IN. But I always liked working and having a job, even when work was at its absolute jerkiest and I was on my 85th hour. The thought of being Home. All. Day alone with a baby, even my baby, made me itch. Then I got pregnant and discovered that yes please, I'd love to stay home.

So isn't it a bitch that I find myself happy to stay home and can't do it? And really, we just can't do it.

I suppose this is the universe having some more fun with me. Or punishing me for my smug, judgey, insufferable knowitall, prepregnancy self.

I don't find the irony amusing.

We all know what happened last time I wrote about this. Could my magic work again? Perhaps without the medical issues and hospital stays this time?

*We have no arrangements for child care yet. Because you know, that's not the sort of thing you take care of before the baby gets here or anything. We do have a couple of options. My mom works as a nanny a few blocks over from my office and she thinks she might be able to take care of Bo while she's taking care of her two boys. This would of course be absolutely ideal but it depends on how that mom feels about it. Which I totally understand. Our other option is a lady in my mother in law's neighborhood who watches a couple of kids in her home. She's really flexible about our fluctuating schedule. We know people who have used her and she comes highly recommended. She'd be like Grandma Babysitter. What we're avoiding at all costs is Daycare Incorporated. Hellish might be a tad harsh. It just seems like baby jail to me.