Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Family Affair

Yesterday morning I awoke to the distinct feeling that someone was stirring around in my stomach with a hot poker. That was followed very shortly with a run to the bathroom, followed by about six subsequent runs to the bathroom in the next hour, all while I was trying to get ready to go to Michigan for Jim's family Christmas. I said to him at one point, while I sat at the table nibbling wanly on crackers, "Maybe I should stay home." Um, famous last words. I should have realized that if I was even voicing aloud the idea of missing out on opening presents, I must have been pretty darn sick, but foolishly I decided to tough it out and we all set off on our road trip.
About an hour into the trip, my thermos of tea just wasn't helping anymore. I was squirming around, looking desperately for any gas station or fast food place that looked remotely clean. Finally I gave up on that and told Jim to just pull over anywhere, which ended up being a fairly clean looking Amoco station. The bathroom turned out to be a different story, but I didn't really care anymore. As I was washing my hands, I saw that someone had scrawled across the condom dispenser, "Don't buy this gum, it tastes like rubber." Oh, the wit!
A half hour later, my misery had returned, and this time we pulled over at a rest stop, which was actually much cleaner than the gas station. (I should have titled this post, "The Comparable Conditions of Ohio Interstate Toilets.") As we pulled back onto the highway, I vaguely recall mumbling from my fetal position, "Kill me."
At last we got to Aunt Nancy's. As Jim was parking, I informed him that as soon as the car stopped I was leaping out and heading directly for a bathroom, and then a bed, and he was on his own with the presents and the food and the baby. I spend the next five hours curled up in the bedroom loft of Nancy's condo, alternately trying to block out the light and noise by making a pillow fort around my head, and rushing to the bathroom, dry heaving into a trashcan (there was apparently by this point nothing left in my stomach.)
The whole day was a complete blur, probably because I was a little lightheaded due to eating nothing save a couple of crackers all day. Jim came up periodically to check on me and offer sips of water (also to try and convince Adelay to take a nap, which alas did not happen until we were all preparing to leave. She then promptly fell asleep in the bed with me, rendering the arm underneath her head- mine- a useless stump of tingling nerve damage.) He also was kind enough to open my gifts- I could hear him downstairs offering high-pitched exclamations of "Isn't this so cute!?" on my behalf. Also, apparently during my quarantine upstairs, my sister in law was likewise hidden away in the downstairs bedroom, sleeping off her own ailments. I don't think either of us even saw any of the relatives we had driven two hours to visit.
By the time we left for home, Jim was complaining of a stomachache of his own. The car ride did nothing to improve matters, either- Adelay had slept a grand total of a half an hour the entire day, and was a bundle of hysteria and misery. She took her bottle at first and we naively anticipated that she would sleep on the way home. Will we never learn? About ten miles down the road, she decided that her car seat was a cruelly designed torture device, and began howling with rage and flinging her head against the seat.
She screamed so hard and so long (with our offerings of crackers and toys and lullaby Cd's disdainfully ignored) that she began to gag, so we finally pulled over, hoping a diaper change would fix things. We hoped in vain. After the diaper change (on the floor of a disgusting and changing-table-lacking gas station) she became immediately hysterical again upon sight of the dreaded car seat. Both Jim and I were at this point insanely tired and feeling sicker by the minute, so we gave up and I crawled into the backseat to hold Addy the rest of the way home. Shh, don't tell on us.
As soon as we got home, we put the deranged child to bed and then followed suit, at the late hour of eight pm, and promptly fell asleep. The rest of the night was another blur of various and sundry wakings to stumble to the bathroom and the medicine cabinet. In the end, none of us (even Addy) got out of bed until eleven o' clock this morning.
So what was this evil affliction? Stomach flu? Food poisoning? I have no clue, but I am tempted to go with flu, based on the fact that the horrible stomach cramps have also been accompanied by feverish chills and body aches. I just hope Addy doesn't get it. So far she seems okay.
So, suffice it to say, for me the holidays went out on kind of a sour note, and I am ready to bid them farewell. And just the idea of getting into the car makes me feel nauseous all over again, so I am planning on no more road trips for a long, long time.
Hope everyone had a merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Tale of Two Addicts

Many choices in life are not exactly black and white (at least to those of us who dislike painting in broad strokes) and can be colored depending on how you start out wanting to feel about a particular decision to begin with- also known as bias. For instance, if the choice is one you yourself made, you obviously start out with a bias toward wanting it to seem correct, or at least acceptable.
All this is a roundabout way of getting to the real story of how I let Adelay eat quite a fair amount of red and green M and M's this morning. And how I have colored the story in my own mind to a version of a holiday cheer-filled mother wanting to let her child experience the magic and wonder of Christmas, rather than the bare facts, which are as follows:
A mom is simultaneously checking her email and throwing back handfuls of M and M's with reckless abandon when her innocent, sugar-free baby crawls up, intensely curious as to the source of that frantic crunching at the desk. The mom guiltily shoves the glass candy bowl away and then picks up the yelling child, trying fruitlessly to distract her with empty cups and remote controls. The child is having none of it, and is relentlessly squirmy in her pursuit of the candy dish. The mom, her emails only half read and her coffee undrunk, eventually "rethinks" (read: gives up on) her previous judgement that M and M's would constitute both a choking hazard and a massive sugar overload, and allows her daughter to enjoy her first real encounter with the world of Mars candy corporation.
It turns out M and M's are not a choking hazard, at least not for a kid as genetically predisposed to love chocolate as Adelay. And let me tell you something else: Those suckers do so melt in your hands, at least if your hands are small and grasping, and you are overheated due to your delirious frenzy of joy at this finally realized dream of colorful chocolate pellets.
So what do you think? Is fourteen months too young to be enjoying M and M's? What about lavishly frosted Christmas sugar cookies? 'Cause in the span of twenty-four hours I have allowed both without much of a fight.
I know, I know. Why don't I just throw her in a roomful of marshmallows and let her eat herself into a coma, right? I had such noble intentions of limiting sugar, but after that first slice of birthday cake, it was really downhill, and it's not Adelay's fault, either. I'm a big softie, that's the problem. It's just that she gets so happy, with her wide open bird mouth and little grunts of delight and "uh-uh-uh" noises if you forget to hand her more cookie. It's so cute and adorable and I selfishly want to hand her cookie bits all day long just to watch her enjoying them. Spooning rice cereal into her blank face just doesn't have the same entertainment value.
I really need to strengthen my resolve on this issue, though, because I truly don't want to have one of those kids that you have to bribe with a piece of candy to do anything at all short of breathe in and out. And there's the whole health issue, too, obviously. So, that's my early New Year's Resolution: Stop being a sugar pusher.
The first step, unfortunately, is going to involve eating less of it myself, darn it all. A prime example would be this morning: Addy wouldn't have even thought about the M and M's if she hadn't heard me smacking away with such obvious gusto. Grrr. Oh for the good old days, when people told children to "do as I say and not as I do."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Second Generation Stuffed Bunny Lover


'Tis The Season

...For scary encounters with drunken relatives! I can't really go into it now, both because I am still a little shellshocked, and because one of said relatives might someday conceivably read this and then I'd really be in trouble. (There are some highlights- including a coed discussion about ways to avoid yeast infections!- that I really wish I could relay to you, though.) But let me just say that last night was memorable. In the way that only a hot, crowded room full of self-centered, fundamentally incompatible family members suffering from the dreaded diarrhea of the mouth can be!
That's all for today. Just needed a teensy little venting session. Whew, deep breath. Okay, I'm good now. Happy holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Trying To Channel Pollyanna...

So yesterday I braved another blood draw in order to have my progesterone level tested. I was very anxious to see if the Clomid was doing its job- my only indications of its hormone-shifting presence in my body so far have been sharp pains in my side due to increased ovulation, and the irrational frustration which springs up when anything even vaguely annoying occurs (for instance, upon looking at the clock and recognizing the impending dinner hour, I will hurry to the kitchen, whereupon the failure of an entree and two side dishes to have magically hopped out of the cupboards and into the oven might cause me to well up with tears of dismay. Is it so much to ask, that dinner be ready without my having to actually make it?)
Anyways.... I called the doctor's office this morning as soon as they opened, and then waited on hold (listening to gentle recorded reminders that urinary incontinence is a common female problem, and nothing to be shy about!) while the nurses looked around to see if my results had come yet. They had, and eventually one of my favorite nurses, Vikki, returned to the phone to tell me with somewhat forced cheerfulness that my progesterone had gone up- two and a half points. Which is to say, not so much. It is still well below average, but she assured me that it was a good sign that it had improved somewhat. After listening to all her reminders about when to call and when to come in for another ovary check and all that, I hung up and sat down numbly. More bad news.
I was pretty surprised, to be honest. Call me a raving optimist, but I had really expected that with the Clomid, my test results would be wildly improved. I had in fact harbored the not-so-far-fetched hope that I would be pregnant after this first round of drugs. And it is still possible that I am, I suppose, but in a normal pregnancy, even at this very early point, the mother's progesterone level would hopefully be about twice what mine is now. So...
Well. It's still Christmas, even so, and it's time to buck up. I long to wallow in disappointment and self-pity, but there are relatives to go see (in about ten minutes, in fact) and cookies to bake and presents still to get. And I know it's not the end of the world, and I know it's just a setback, and I know I'm very young and there's years and years to grow our family and nothing to worry about. And also, shallowly, how can I be sad when the new EP Jimmy Eat World is playing in my ear, courtesy of the MP3 player my sympathetic husband let me unwrap this morning (a consolation prize, I guess) ?
So I'm going to go get ready to meet my sister for lunch, and I'm going to think about all the Christmas gifts I have already been given, the wrapped kind as well as the more intangible gifts of a good and full life. I'm going to count my blessings if it kills me!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Jabbing Flu

I have heard that, in one of their many hilarious colloquialisms, the British refer to a flu shot as a "flu jab." Can't you just see them, strolling down the quaint cobbled sidewalk, doffing their woolen caps to acquaintances and politely inquiring, "Cheerio, old chap, had your flu jab this year?" It would certainly be a gentler reminder than the commercials they air here in the good old US of A, which are more along the lines of this: Pictures of cold, wide-eyed children clutching their teddies pan across the screen as a grim voice intones, "A flu epidemic unlike anything we've ever seen is heading our way. If you are between the ages of 0 and 99, you are considered by the Department of Health to be in the 'risk group,' and you are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot before you come into contact with anyone else in the 'risk group.'"
So like a good little citizen, I hurried myself and my daughter to our family physician before the impending flu epidemic could cross our threshold. As I rolled up my sleeve for my the nurse, I inquired, "Is this one of those vaccines that can actually give you a mild case of the virus it immunizes you against?" "Oh, no," Nurse Ratchet assured me as she gave me a hearty jab. "That almost never happens."
Two mornings later, I woke up with a throat that felt like a cat's scratching post and body aches as though I had just put myself through a major workout (I had not.) Hmm.
It was all downhill from there. I feel as though pins and needles are hidden in every piece of furniture I attempt to sit down on, and the only respite is the sweet sleep of NyQuil liquid capsules.
So anyways. I feel quite cheated. This is the first time I have ever been vigilant enough about my health to voluntarily submit to an extra shot, and now I have the stinking flu anyways. The government lies, the doctors lie, they all lie...
More later. Right now my head is spinning, and the aches and pains of the flu are jabbing me right through the temples!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Shout Out, TRL Style

Well, I know this is overdue, Braden, but here is your very own shout out as requested. Don't you feel special? Here's to you for always listening, rarely judging, and for being one of the most sensible people I know (albeit sometimes to excess- don't forget to crack open that cherry book if you ever feel an attack of old-manness coming on!)
Kelly, this is also for you, my overanalytical one, for faithfully reading, for randomly showing up on my doorstep, and for never failing to refer to me in your comments as "Chuck." (I would sure hate for that nickname to ever die...)
And Lisa, my dear, this is for you, for giving me the best compliment of my life by saying that you check my blog daily. Thanks also for sharing your Clomid success stories. I was only half teasing when I said that you had given me a reason to go on!
Jennifer, here's to you, for posting a link to my blog so that other people (besides those that I shamelessly begged) have found their way here. Thanks also for being a wise and wonderful sister-in-law; specifically, thanks for trying to teach me that hospitality is making people feel comfortable in your home, not impressed by it! It is advise that I plan to staple to my dusting cloths if I ever get out of control again!
Erin, this is your shout out for making the most delicious chicken noodle soup I have ever tasted- it was rivaled only by the heavenly aroma of your homemade bread. People, the woman can cook.
Mom and Mom-In-Law, consider this your public acknowledgement for being the greatest grandmas ever (in particular, for never raising an eyebrow when your grandchild's parents return home from an event a little bit late, or, say, in a taxi!) I am being sincere when I say that I don't know if I could do it without you. I certainly wouldn't want to try.
Jim, here's for you: I wouldn't have wanted to have kids with anyone else, and there's no one else I'd rather see come through the door each night.
And to anyone else who ever drops by my blog, thank you for reading. You are my reminder that even though I may be alone in my house, there are a world of other people all around me, and we're all just trying to keep those balls in the air! :)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Untitled

I know it is the holidays, but the past few months have felt more like a season of sadness for me. First there was the miscarriage and the subsequent fertility issues, and then, at about the same time I lost the pregnancy, I also found out that my grandpa had terminal cancer. Last Saturday, about two months after his diagnosis, he passed away. And, to add to the usual awfulness of a death in the family, it happened literally about an hour before the wedding of a close friend of my husband's and mine (we couldn't get out of it since Jim was a groomsman and I was doing a reading at the ceremony, and we wouldn't have wanted to miss it even if we could have.)
I had been right in the middle of applying my makeup when I got the phone call, so after the initial falling apart and then pulling myself back together, I had to wash my face and redo all my handiwork before the car came for me. A minor mishap, obviously, but it added to the generally rushed and surreal feeling of the day- hastily applying eyeliner and lipstick is not what I usually do after sitting on the floor, going through a box of Kleenex.
The wedding was actually okay; I only teared up when they lit the memorial candles for the bride and groom's deceased loved ones. The ceremony was beautiful, and I was in the moment and enjoying it. Adrenaline, and genuine happiness for my friends, got me through that part. But the reception was a bit of a blur.
It was strange, being so happy for my friends and yet feeling so oddly distant from the whole celebratory mood of the reception. Adding to the isolated feeling was the fact that Jim was about a hundred yards away from me, sitting on a stage at the wedding party's table having a good time, and I was seated at the back of the room. I mean, I wasn't alone, I had friends around, but I particularly missed his presence beside me, you know? I felt a little adrift.
The fact that drinking would probably not help with the whole feeling of disconnect seems fairly obvious now, but I apparently did not see it then, because drink was what I did. I made nice to a big glass of wine at dinner, but didn't get to know the actual food all that well, if you see what I'm saying. I snubbed the cake entirely, choosing instead to celebrate the marriage of my friends by indulging in the blessed union of Morgan and Coke. If you know me at all, that last sentence will have revealed to you that I was pretty far gone. Ordinarily, I have a strict wine-only policy, and an even stricter don't-skip-dessert policy.
So anyways. No further details other than to say that I did hit the dance floor, a usually taboo activity for one as rythmically challenged as myself, but unfortunately I was insane enough by then to believe myself to be a particularly gifted dancing queen. I don't remember too much, but I have a feeling it wasn't pretty. Nor was the 36 hour hangover I enjoyed following the 2-hour-long-willing-myself-not-to-throw-up-in-public-episode. And none of it made my grandpa any less gone.
So I don't really know what to title this blog. "Another Reason Not To Self-Medicate With Alcohol" seems apt, but perhaps a bit wordy. "Why I Should Not Indulge In More Than One Cocktail" also fits, but sounds a bit like the title of a punitive essay one's teacher might assign them. And "Confessions: Part Three" is just getting a little redundant; this blog is, after all, a (hopefully) funny snapshot of my life, not a weekly confessional- or at least, it wasn't supposed to be! So my apologies, and my hopes that this will at least remind everyone again, just in case you need to hear it (but it's probably just me,) that alcohol only numbs pain temporarily, and then makes it worse. It's better just to face it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Dreaded "C" Word

So, I get this call from my doctor's office last week, to report on some blood work I had done to make sure I was all "bounced back" from the lost pregnancy, and they say, "You need to come in." And I thought, "Oh- I'm pregnant again already!" And then they said, "Yeah.... You have a really imbalanced hormone level and the doctor wants to get you started on Clomid." As in, an infertility drug. Hello, words I never in a million years imagined hearing!
So we go in, armed with pages of questions from our oh-so-scientific internet research, and the doctor tells us how with my low levels of progesterone he thinks it will be very difficult for me to get pregnant or stay pregnant on my own, and that this Clomid should help fix things. But what Jim and I are thinking is, Why are my levels so low in the first place? They were fine before. What happened? Is there some kind of bigger problem here? But the doctor just kind of brushed those concerns off and said that I should start this treatment. Then he added, after I pressed about side effects and stuff, that it was possible that the Clomid would actually cause my (brace yourself, here) cervical mucus to become "hostile" to sperm, effectively making it much harder to get pregnant, even with the hopefully balanced hormones. So I humbly asked, "And how would that be helpful in achieving pregnancy?" And he said, "Well, most of the time that doesn't happen. But if it does, then we'll do a procedure called artificial intrauterine insemination"- and yes, I will spare you the gory details of that particular process. Let's just say it sounds uncomfortable for all parties concerned!
So I kind of choked a little and said, "Um, artificial insemination? Are we really there yet? I have managed to get pregnant twice on my own without much trouble. Can we just maybe check and see if there's something causing my hormones to be messed up and fix that?" I'm a little skittish about drug taking (except for Percocet!), and I'm just kind of wary about the whole fertility treatment scene as a rule, so I wasn't really on board yet. But we had already taken up about a half hour of the doctor's time, and if you've ever been in an OB office you will realize that that's really pushing it, so we went ahead and took the Clomid prescription and headed out.
But I still wasn't feeling too confident or settled about the whole thing. So I did more online checking last night and found some information about how insulin resistance can cause all the rest of your hormone balances to be off as well, but that they will usually correct themselves once the insulin sensitivity is regained. I thought, "Hey, I'm a known sugar addict, and always have been. Surely it's at least possible that this is my problem, right?" So I called my family practicioner this morning and arranged to meet tomorrow with the OB who works in his office, to get some blood work ordered to find out if I have an insulin problem or not.
So it's something. I at least feel a little more confident that I will have looked into different options besides just meekly accepting the almighty doctor's diagnosis. I mean, yes, I want another baby in the next year. But I also want to be healthy, and I feel like the Clomid might just be a quick fix in order to get pregnant, without really getting to the root of whatever is causing this hormonal problem.
So, that's what's new with me- Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving! Boy, that's a whole other entry right there, the Thanksgiving topic. We traveled to and from Michigan twice in the span of four days, so Adelay did a whole lot of car riding, but not too much car napping. Which is to say, she was not the most pleasant of backseat companions after an hour or two on the highway. Makes for quite the headache- you know, the pounding in the temples kind, the kind that is unmoved by Tylenol or caffeine or any other known headache remedies, and simply stays with you all day long, throughout the turkey and the numerous pastel jello salads and the hot crowded house full of yelling, wound up children? What's that- you've had that very headache yourself a time or two? Ah... Join me, won't you, in a toast to the holidays!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Life Is Now

I'm just saying that life is only in the days that make up a year, in the moments that make up a day. We have to live them as fully and well as we can- nothing else makes any sense. ~Catherine Newman
Oh dear, I am such a crybaby, but this quote makes my throat get tight every time I read it. It helps that I'm listening to a Dido song about fleeting time while reading it, but still. (For those of you who haven't figured it out already, I am an obsessive fan of Catherine's. She used to have a weekly journal at BabyCenter, which you can still access, and I often do, and she also now writes a weekly blog for Wondertime magazine. She has a genius for describing the exhausting minutiaea of life with children, the "frantic tedium," as she would call it, that is magically interspersed with moments of heartbreaking tenderness that make the frustration so, so worth it.)
Anyways, I just ran across this column of hers while wasting time on the Internet today, and I thought I would make it my early Christmas gift to all of you busy moms out there. Just a gentle reminder, as we approach the holiday season, that we not forget to unwrap the best gift of all, our children's hearts.
http://parentcenter.babycenter.com/general/preschooler/1463676.html

Friday, November 17, 2006

All Caught Up

Ah, life. So very daily, isn't it? Sometimes- only every now and then- I begin to think hard about all the tasks, great and small, which comprise my day-to-day routine, and I just sort of want to... Stop doing them. Because Lord knows, as soon as I do them, they're going to be undone in five minutes.
Example: Mommy unloads the dishwasher. Adelay stealthily crawls into the kitchen and yanks every single piece of Tupperware out of the cupboard as soon as Mommy turns her back. This happens- and this is just a rough estimation, here- about five bazillion times a day. Another example: Mommy mops the floor. Giant horse-dog Fonzie goes outside on the chain, manages to frolic in every single muddy patch in the entire backyard, then comes inside and, despite having his paws wiped obsessively by said Mommy, proceeds to leave footprints like dirty little connect-the-dots all over the house.
And it's not just the fingerprints and grime that appear the second you put your Windex down. It's not the laundry hampers that are mysteriously full again as soon as you congratulate yourself on getting that last load of clothes put away. It's not even the way the food you've just begun to unpack from the grocery bags starts disappearing down people's throats before it ever makes its way to the cupboard, or the way the baby's neck is smelling oddly like sour milk an hour after her bath.
It's bigger things too. You know, stuff that actually matters. Like how, just when the relief of having Addy well and healthy again was starting to sink in, she spiked a fever. Or how, just when you get some giant bill finally, finally paid off, Christmas is here yet again, and with it another joyous season of wracking up debt! And even the way that little grudges against your spouse, if they aren't spoken and dealt with right away, despite the inconvenience or discomfort of it, will build up until they overflow in one giant, destructive volcano of reckoning. It's always something, is what I'm saying. There's always something to which you must attend, something that's slipping or getting away from you.
So, what is my point here, besides of course shameless griping? It's this: don't you wish we could be rid of the whole necessity of staying "caught up" on things, just for a little while? Stop juggling all these balls? That we could freeze things for a little bit, maybe sit back, have a glass of wine, and just enjoy the fruits of our labor (i.e., money, healthy babies, happy marriages, and even clean bathrooms) without the constant awareness that we have to keep that fruit in the air or it's all going to come crashing down around us in a horrifying fruit salad explosion?
Oh well. Such is life, or something like that. It's all about maintenance. There can be no letting it go, aside from the occassional ignoring of the dishes in favor of a movie and my dear friend, the sofa. Because, as everyone knows, the planet will go spinning wildly out of control if we let go of our tight, controlling hold on that scrub brush, right?
Aha, you say. This whole entry is one giant rhetorical question. And you would be correct in saying it. Because what I am trying to remind myself of every day, every single moment I spend sighing over the tedious to-do list in my head, is this: it would all go on without me. Maybe the laundry wouldn't be folded, maybe dinner wouldn't be ready, maybe there would be mud just floor to ceiling, who knows... But the world would not end if I weren't here, cleaning it. No one would die of overexposure to dust.
So, sure, the big things (marriage, kids) it is fine to keep up with, no matter how exhausting. But that's a lot of balls in the air, what with money and health and jobs and church and school and the house. So if you've gotta drop one of them somewhere, I vote for chores! Hey, it's not like they're going anywhere.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Amazing Expanding Heart

Is every mom as obsessed as I am with kissing their baby? Does that sound creepy? Sorry. It's just that there's this spot on Addy's neck, no matter how long it has been since her last bath, that always smells so irresistably yummy that I am forced to pepper her with kisses, whether she is inclined to be kissed or not (more often than not, it's the latter.)
Adelay has just never been a cuddler, if you know what I'm saying. Like there are some babies who have been giving generous kisses since they were six months old, but our baby... Well, we count ourselves lucky if she deigns to hold still while you drop a peck on her cheek rather than wriggling away as though you had the plague. And if you happen to get one of her kisses (which are a new, relatively infrequent phenomenon, and are usually bestowed with the expression of a fish lunging at you in slow motion,) well, you feel like you must be the most special and loveable person on the face of the earth to have merited such attention!
But the last couple days she has offered me a few genuine cuddles which have picked up my heart from the curb and sent it soaring: last night, for instance, as I was getting her ready for bed after a long day of cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping, she began to get silly, and giggle hysterically as I pulled her jammies over her head. An all-out tickling session commenced, and there was giant, toothy smiles (oh adorable pearly baby teeth!) and shrieks of laughter and finally, the burying of oneself against Mama in blissful exhaustion. Is there anything more delicious than a plump, grinning baby, her belly lopping over her diaper, looking for all the world like the family's own personal Buddha? And they are really, these babies of ours: our own little spiritual gurus, helping to keep us on the path to serenity.
This morning, I got another surprise: Addy crawled up to me at the computer and put her arms up to be held. I assumed that as usual she wanted to examine all the numerous dangerous and unacceptable playthings which taunt her from the desk- my coffee, the remotes, the cords and stone coasters, and so forth. But she just wanted a cuddle! She leaned back into me, chattering happily, and laid against my chest for like five minutes, completely relaxed, just... Snuggling! With me! No yanking of earrings or constant wriggling and squirming or even any prying into my mouth like a sadistic dentist. Just snuggling!
Some days you just feel like your heart might explode from love, you know? Like it's almost pain, it's so much. You're just not sure if your heart could hold even one more drop of love. But it does, every day it stretches a little more to contain the wonder of our growing, changing children.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

All About Barfing

Let me begin by saying this: partially digested cocoa puffs are, on a scale of 1 to 10 on a "things you would not mind seeing puked up" list, about a negative 20 for me personally, falling maybe right before tuna salad but right behind turkey and stuffing.
Let me also say that I in no way hold resentment against the poor litle girl in my Sunday School class who had the misfortune of having the stomach flu hit her right in the middle of song time (the fact that the song of the day involved jumping up and down repeatedly probably didn't help her out any.) I truly felt very sorry for her, as I held her hair back while she puked all over the bathroom- but I also felt just the teensiest bit sorry for myself as well, especially when the smell began to rise and I had to duck out of the room, ostensibly to get her a glass of water, but also to quell the retching reflex that I could feel beginning in my own throat.
Nor do I have any grudge against Adelay for randomly spewing her entire bottle of freshly drunk milk all over the couch, carpet, and my sweater several times this past week, I truly don't.
It's just that I am so not a vomit person. I realize this sounds a little obvious, in terms of descriptive statements- not many people would probably characterize themselves as being "into" vomit. But I think I am particularly, unusually not into vomit. When I had morning sickness with Adelay, I would literally press my lips together all day to keep from throwing up, even though I knew I would probably feel better if I just went ahead and let it all out, so to speak. But the actual process of letting it out is just so revulting to me that I would do anything to avoid it, short of maybe dying.
Even when I was little, I was not one of those kids who was always randomly barfing on road trips and ferris wheels and then magically back to normal. I would feel it coming on and be stricken with dread and panic and cry and whimper for like an hour before I finally did throw up, and then I would cry some more at the horror of it all. And to this day, on the very isolated incidents in my adult life when I have thrown up, I still feel like crying. I know, I know- grow up already. But I hate it!
I thought that maybe being a parent would help me outgrow this particular fear and loathing a little bit. Because kids throw up, right? This is a universal truth, like e = mc squared, and sooner or later, surely you build up a tolerance. Same principle with dirty diapers. But the truth is, I still haven't arrived at that magic point when I am just blase about vomit and poop and all the various disgusting forms they take. I'm not even close.
I remember once when Addy was about a month old that I think I literally took years off of my husband's life by screaming in panic for him to come quick to the baby's room. He came running, mentally reviewing the infant CPR tecniques and bracing himself for some unthinkable catastrophe, and found instead me, paralyzed with horror, in front of a changing table and wall completely splattered with baby poo.
I guess I have gotten a little braver since then, but just today when I went to get Addy up from her nap and was about knocked over by the scent of the dirty diaper awaiting me...? Well, that feeling of panic and dread still came welling up, same as ever. It's just that now I know I am capable of getting through it, you know- now I know that there is life on the other side of the diaper. And when those babies are all fresh and clean and snuggled up on your chest, well, there's just not many feelings that come close to that one.
But still... I am making a mental note never to feed my kids Cocoa Puffs.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Musings from My Sofa

1. How does that Barbie doll-looking Sandra Lee, the beautiful blond hostess of Food Network's "Semi-Homemade Cooking" show, stay so darn skinny? What is she doing with all that food? Is she just tossing all those delightful chicken-fried steaks and decadent cherry pies in the trash and then sustaining herself on a diet of Power Bars and Diet Coke?
2. On a related subject, what the heck is a "widget"? (I ask because today Sandra Lee was referring to her wonderful new "widget," which she was using to make something called a "lattice" on top of her cherry pie, of which she will doubtless take one teensy bite for the camera, then go make herself throw it up.)
3. What kind of person watches gourmet cooking shows while eating such culinary masterpieces as Nutter Butter cookies? (I might actually know the answer to this one quite well.) I mean, how can such a person live with herself?
4. These people who do cooking shows- do they actually cook like that every day? Do they just do nothing but plan menus and shop for groceries? Because they all have cookbooks with names like "365 Quick Easy Dinners" which involve ingredients like "a shoulder of pork" and "cooking sherry" and "three cloves of garlic," and let me just say that the chances of looking around my kitchen and finding all of those things on the same day are about the same as the chances of Sandra Lee appearing on my doorstep to cook dinner for me. (Now, if someone produced a recipe calling for "a stale bag of broken tortilla chips," "a nearly expired container of cottage cheese," and "four bottles of salad dressings, any variety, with roughly a half a tablespoon left in each," well honey, I'd be in business.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In Praise of Tylenol

Well, the Dark Angel of Feverish Misery has once again visited our household (I must have forgotten to mark the door with lamb's blood again!) And once again, there has been the fussiness and poor appetite and high fevers (which always, inexplicably, burn hotter and fiercer throughout the midnight hours, causing fitful sleep and multiple nighttime wakings soothed only by yet another bottle and a cuddle on the couch while watching the always riveting programming of late-night PBS.)
But this time hasn't felt as awful, honestly. The fever came on very suddenly, but as soon as my lips touched that flushed little forehead and I realized my baby was sick, I began bracing myself for sleeplessness and fluid pushing and hourly temperature checks and all that so that I would not be caught unprepared. Also, there has been less sniffling and congestion this time, and more fever and body aches and lots of daytime sleeping.
So maybe that's why it's been easier, or maybe I'm just more prepared this time, but whatever the reason, I am calm and patient and have had no strong urges to burst into tears or pound my head against a brick wall or anything like that. I have, however, called the local hospital's hotline to ask at what point, exactly, a fever becomes dangerously high (answer: anything over 100 degrees for a small infant, anything over 105 degrees for a child over one.) Adelay's ear temp was reading 104 on Sunday night, so we kept Tylenol in her every four hours and checked the temperature vigilantly, and by morning it was down to 102. It has since crept back to 103, but is usually hanging out at a manageable 101.
Now, let me reiterate: I didn't freak out once, even when I felt compelled to call the hospital. I was still calm and controlled. Nor did I overly berate myself when the nurse on the phone informed me that we had been giving Addy only about half the dose of Tylenol that her weight called for, and that was probably why her fever had continued to go up. I just sighed with momentary guilt, said, "Live and learn," and upped the dosage the next time. What parenting evolution is taking place in me that I did not panic and have to be talked off of my unfit mother ledge?
I don't know; maybe it's just necessity- after a certain number of mistakes, perhaps one simply numbs themselves to the onslaught of guilt in order to survive and go forward. You just cannot get hysterical every time you slip up, or you'll be in your room, calming yourself down with a time-out, more often than your temper-tantrum throwing kid.
Anyhoo, just wanted to give a shout-out to Baby Tylenol, which really does work a happy magic on hot, cranky little babies (when administered in proper doses, of course.) And let me also say this about a cool bath to bring down fevers: it does work, temporarily, but when one's child begins to shiver in the cold, and then has a shudder run through her that shakes her legs uncontrollably... Well, one might in their vigilance completely panic, thinking that their child is having a fever-induced seizure, and further traumatize their baby by snatching her out of the bath to check that her eyes are not rolling back in her head. Just, you know, a hypothetical example of something to be aware of. Not that this has happened to me, because as I stated previously, I have been cool as a cucumber this entire time. Not a single freak out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Another Link

Hey, no blog here today, just a link to another good one from Catherine Newman! So funny, and so true. http://wondertime.go.com/parent-to-parent/blogs/catherine-newman-blog/10232006.html

Friday, October 20, 2006

Designer Babies

Do we look on our children as accessories? This thought has crossed my mind many times when doing a double take at some of the babies in the mall (and- guilty as charged!- when I have dressed up my own daughter for the portraits which I wrote about recently.) I love hairbows and cute little outfits as much as (or more than) the next person, but there is definitely something creepy about the way some moms seem to tote around their little ones as though they were the finishing touch on their perfect suburban life. Even their baby gear- strollers, playpens, diaper bags, etc. Of course we want the safest and cleanest equipment in which to tote and transport our children and their stuff. But does it have to be the newest and coolest and most expensive? The kid's gonna get it gross in under three months anyways; would gently used hand-me-downs not be smarter?
And the same definitely goes for clothes and shoes and all that. Addy has a ton of cute clothes, I will admit, but the vast majority of them my mom found at fairly inexpensive prices on eBay. This knowledge has made me very happy every time I've had to put away an adorable but outgrown outfit that Adelay wore a grand total of two times. It would have been a lot more painful to say goodbye to that cute dress if it had cost thirty dollars rather than five or six, you know?
But all this grumbling about commercialism in the childrearing realm is actually about something much bigger and scarier than BabyGap. It's about the morality of gender selection, my new focus of obsessive research! Gender selection used to mean abortion of otherwise healthy fetuses who were found to be of the undesired gender. But now it can simply mean IVF methods which require no abortion, but allow you to select the gender of an embryo and then implant it. See, many people now (usually upper class- they're the only ones who can afford it) want to design their own perfect little families, built to specification, a boy first, then a girl, then done, for example. It sounds a little strange, I know, but I have to confess that, coming from a family of four girls, it's very scary for me to contemplate that same fate revisiting me in my adult life- or in other words, I really want a boy! It doesn't have the be the next child or anything, but at some point, it would really relieve me to have a son. Not because I think boys are better or more desirable or anything-far from it!- but because I know what can happen to a household when the testosterone and progesterone levels are severely unbalanced! I love all my sisters dearly, but I can certainly see the benefits of having a brother or two around.
So I did a bit of looking around to see if there's any way, beyond the expensive sperm sorting techniques and in-vitro fertilization, to just kind of up the odds a bit of having a boy. But as I read more, I began to feel a little weird about it, and then I found an article which put into very articulate words all that weirdness I was feeling. Basically, "Maybe this is wrong." (Here's the link: http://www.gene-watch.org/genewatch/articles/17-1darnovsky.html) Certainly I don't think it's wrong to wish or hope for something, but to try to take matters into your own hands... It's a little strange, and beyond that, a little humanistic in the very worst sense. It's so untrusting, so fearful, to be too scared to leave it in God's hands. On the other hand, maybe you could say that about birth control, too, couldn't you? That it's untrusting, it's taking something natural into our own hands, etc.
I don't know what the answer is, I really don't. I've actually given it a lot of thought (the birth control thing) and I have arrived at no real conclusion. Because where does it stop? Couldn't you also say that taking a medication is wrong because God intended for you to have that disease? Or that wearing glasses or braces is wrong because maybe God meant for you to have those handicaps? Is cosmetic surgery wrong? Is wearing makeup wrong? Coloring your hair? At what point, exactly, does controlling or altering our physical bodies cross the line and become immoral?
I guess I have a problem specifically with the gender selection because it's not just altering a physical characteristic or solving a health problem for an already existing person as much as it is rejecting the person itself. You are choosing a boy and not a girl, or vice versa. One person over the other, even if just hypothetically. So I have decided that much as I may hope to one day have a son, I would just not feel right about taking measures to try to ensure that my next baby is a boy. I ultimately trust that God will send us exactly the right children for our family, and I wouldn't want any children but them!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Read This Blog

http://wondertime.go.com/parent-to-parent/blogs/catherine-newman-blog/10162006.html
Here is your mission: go read this article. (Actually, read everything written by Catherine Newman.) Have yourself a chuckle. Then realize that I could have written this word-for-word and it would have all been true except for the names of the kids. And also that she left out my own personal version of catastrophizing: hearing noises in the night and immediately assuming, not that the wind is whistling in the chimney or that our fifty-year-old house is experiencing normal shifting and settling, but that there is a psychopathic killer cutting through the chain lock on the backdoor and slipping in to murder us in our beds (all while our supposed guard dog snores away in the closet.)
Every night that I can't sleep, after about an hour of lying awake, flinching and sitting up at every sound, I begin to think, "I really need to see a shrink about this, I do. This is insane." And then in the morning everything is fine and I think, "Oh well, I just need to cut down on my caffeine intake and not eat such crazy snacks before bed. That's what is keeping me up at night." When the truth it, what is keeping me up is this very thing that Catherine describes in her latest blog: this constant certainty that the worst possible scenario, the one-in-a-million chance that it's actually going to happen to me kind of tragedy, is in fact happening.
So... any ideas on how to fix this? I just sort of pray myself to sleep, but to be honest it doesn't always soothe my fears that much. I still jump at every sound until finally I'm so physically exhausted that I sleep. Am I insane? (You can tell me if I am.) Or is it just a normal new mom thing to be paranoid and irrationally fearful after you have children?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Capturing the Moment (Or, New Ways to Torture Your Child!)

So here's a quickie for you. I know I already blogged like two days ago, but bear with me 'cause I have no life.
This is an ode to the photographer on duty at a certain portrait studio I took Addy to today (I won't tell you the name of the place, but it rhythmes with "Benny's." "KDBenney's," to be exact.) I have never had a bad experience at this place before; granted, of course, that could be due to the fact that my child is just naturally gorgeous and photogenic and endlessly cooperative. Or was anyways, when she was seven weeks old and not yet mobile enough to crawl away from the photographer, crying in terror.
Because that's what happened today! But I would have cried too, if I had had a cloyingly patronizing voice cooing out my name so loudly that the entire second floor of a department store could hear. Also, I probably wouldn't enjoy having a total stranger shove a ratty, germ laden bunny in my face at random intervals while bellowing, "Who's got her nose? Who's got her nose?"
Really, this woman was just not a baby person, if you get my drift. She was all business while we were hammering out the details of the package price (so grimly that you would have thought we were negotiating a prisoner exchange, in fact,) but when it came time to take the actual pictures, she suddenly morphed into this chirpy little derranged clown. Some people seem to operate under the delusion that children are not small people but are in fact some completely foreign species that responds positively to behaviors which we ourselves would find insulting and annoying. This lady, she was one of those people.
But of course, Addy pulled through for me and managed a few weak smiles, and then I got the heck out of there as fast as was possible while lugging an unhappy twenty-pound child, a diaper bag, and various and sundry toys brought along to amuse said child.
Anyway, the point of this rant is just to question why I feel portraits are some important rite of passage. Why do I need a new 8 by 10 every six months or so- am in some danger of forgetting what my own baby looked like at any given age? Are regular snapshots not enough; I need a shelf of dressed-up poses?
I don't know. It's a little superficial and shallow of me, I suppose, but I really do love how her professional pictures turn out, though- somehow I see her in a little different light when it's just her beautiful, cherubic face aglow against the black velvet backdrop. I spend so much time wiping applesauce and just plain old goop off those cheeks that I seem to forget sometimes how angelic they are. It's the old missing of the forest for the trees problem that I think even the best, most in-the-moment moms fall prey to at times.
So I guess those fancy, overpriced, phoney portraits do serve a purpose for me. No matter how burnt out I am on taking care of a baby who's been yelling and pooping and smearing up her high chair all day, I can walk by the portrait shelf and remember that somewhere in that grumpy monster baby is that same sweet, clean, smiling baby in the picture!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Retrospect

Well, the birthday bash is over- all the cake crumbs and wrapping paper scraps have been cleaned up, the new toys have been put away, and all the leftover ice cream and chip dip is slowly but surely finding its way to my thighs. You know, the usual party aftermath. And now my baby is a big girl. Sigh.
I can't believe it's been a year since we brought home that tiny, five pound bundle of pink blankets, laid her in the bassinette, and then stared at her and wondered what we were supposed to do next. Could I have guessed then how much of a little person she would become in just one year? How intimately familiar I would be with every aspect of her habits, whims, sleeping patterns, and bowel movements? Could I have comprehended the difference in the love one feels for a helpless newborn and the love you feel for a child you have watched growing more and more into herself , her very own personality, with each passing day? Could I have estimated the number of parenting mistakes I would make in the next year? No, no, no, and no.
Here is a brief summary of the things I have failed at:

-my breast milk didn't come in fully at first because Addy was early, and I was never diligent enough about pumping to get it to come in, so by six months I had weaned her completely- and I said I was going to breastfeed until she was a year old.
-I (gasp!) bought the store brand formula after a while, after wising up to the fact that the other brands are probably only more expensive so they can pay for their advertising.
-Along the same lines, I now buy the generic Wal-Mart diapers instead of Pampers. Not the Meijer brand, though. Those things are crap!
-I didn't puree organic vegetables to make my own baby food. I buy jars. I have NEVER pureed anything. There, I said it.
-I often put Adelay to bed with a bottle of milk, even though the doctor always lectures me about it.
-Adelay has four teeth already, and I have yet to buy the little Baby Orajel gum and tooth cleaner stuff.
-I once forgot to give her Baby Tylenol before I took her to get her vaccinations.
-I sometimes don't turn the baby monitor on because when she's restless in her sleep it wakes me up (she is only a wall away, so I can hear her if she actually cries, however.)
-I used to always dilute her juice with water to cut down on her sugar, and now I hardly ever remember to.
-I never buy the jars of peas or green beans because I tried them once and they make me want to vomit.
-She watches a Baby Einstein movie almost every day. Not only that, but while hanging out with her negligent parents in the evenings, she has seen her fair share of more, shall we say, mature viewing material. (The Godfather, anyone?)
-I once had to call Poison Control Center because I found her chewing on an ant trap- and I had been in the same room the whole time!

So, there it is, people. Am I a bad parent? A lazy, selfish one? I think the last one is probably true at least some of the time. There have been days when there was too much TV and playpen time and not enough mentally stimulating interaction, and there have been times when we've kept her out past her bedtime because of our own social agenda. There have been days when I've been more preoccupied with getting my house cleaned up than stopping to smell the roses with my baby. These are not things I'm proud of, but I am facing them, taking an honest look at my parenting thus far. I am striving every day to do better.
And I am hoping that always when parenting I will keep things in perspective- juice consumption and TV watching are not issues to stress about too much, although they certainly have their place. But in the grand scheme of childrearing, there are so many, many things to worry about that you have to pick a few big ones to be a diehard about and then just be flexible about the rest, or you'll drive yourself insane, I think. Big things for me will be honesty, learning healthy ways to express emotions, and just generally being a nice person (i.e., kind, helpful, polite, not slapping your mom in the face, that sort of thing.) And most importantly, of course, is to make sure my kids feel grounded and secure in the love of their parents, and that they have a relationship with God. Everything else is just kind of a bonus. If they eat their vegetables, great. If not, oh well. There's always vitamins.
So there's my parenting philosophy in a nutshell. We'll see how it has evolved by Adelay's next birthday! Terrible twos, here we come.
P.S. I am doing much better about the miscarriage, by the way- the doctor told me that he thinks an embryo may never have formed at all, but only placenta tissue, since we never saw a heartbeat. That thought- that I may not have actually lost a child at all, but only a chance at pregnancy- has comforted me a lot the last few days.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Surreal Life

First I should apologize for not blogging in over two weeks (that's based on the somewhat far-fetched and egomaniacal assumption that anyone had noticed or cared, but I thought I should begin that way just in case.) The reasons for my absence from bloggerville are ones of joy and sadness both- so, life, basically. Another case of real life getting in the way of my obsessive reporting on it.
Now, I know that some people who read this blog are not intimately familiar with the details of my life, but most of you are, so I am going to go ahead and sum up my last few weeks as simply as possible: I was pregnant, and now I am not. And if you don't know the details of the story, then read on.
I have been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster lately, plummeting from the wild peaks of joy and disbelief to the depth of... well, resignation, I guess, and gratitude for what I have already. And in between those two points was a lot of sadness and fear that I just wasn't ready to talk about until now.
I was thrilled to be pregnant, but was very aware from the beginning of the fragility of my condition, and wasn't ready to announce it to just everybody yet. First there had been the words of caution from the doctor about my low hormone levels, and then had come the bad news that there was no heartbeat. A few days after that, I lost the baby and was then sent into surgery. Basically, my doctor was afraid I had had an ectopic pregnancy rather than a simple miscarriage, so for a while there things were pretty scary. But fortunately it was all over in a day, and by Saturday afternoon we knew that I was going to be fine and that there was no tubal pregnancy. It was all a little overwhelming, although in truth I had had the sense that there was something wrong from the beginning.
So that's where I've been lately. And even as I write this, I'm a little doped up on Percaset, which I probably don't need anymore, medically speaking, but it does take the edge off. There are some unpleasant side effects such as nausea, but it is well worth enduring them to get to take that blissed out trip to la-la land every four hours. When they first gave me the drugs, about an hour out of surgery when I was beginning to get really uncomfortable, I couldn't believe how suddenly euphoric I felt- euphoric and chatty! I couldn't stop telling everyone how much I loved them, how much their support meant to me, and how they shouldn't worry about me because I was just so grateful for my health and for the beautiful baby I already had. I repeated these thoughts about a dozen times to anyone who would listen.
So now, two days later, I really should wean off the prescription-strength painkillers and get back to life as usual, since I'm not really experiencing much pain anymore- now it's more of a depressed, back-to-the-ole'-grind kind of feeling, which I'm pretty sure Percaset is not FDA approved to treat. Now the fuss and the sympathy is over, the blur of condolences and flowers, and it's back to the drawing board, where we must wait for three months before we can even think about pregnancy again.
And it all feels like such a waste, and such a tragedy, even though I know it happens to almost every woman at some point. I can't help wondering why I was even allowed to get pregnant- why, if it wasn't God's will (as people keep reminding me) did it even happened at all? And why to me, when I am so young and in such good health? If there was anyone who should have had a problem-free pregnancy it was me, right? Am I being punished for something- was I too cavalier, too presumptious in thinking nothing could go wrong for us? Or was it a mistake to get pregnant again- did God know I wasn't ready to handle being the mother of two yet? These are horrible things to think, and beyond being horrible, are completely useless and unhelpful. And yet there they are, surprising me at random moments just when I think I'm actually getting over it.
I don't like admitting to this struggle, but I don't want to pretend that I'm totally fine about everything either, that I'm just gracefully accepting and submitting. I'm dealing with it, but it feels insane at the same time- we're in a big rush trying to get all our projects around the house finished in time for Addy's birthday party this weekend, and sometimes I'll stop in the middle of painting or whatever and think, "This is crazy. I just lost a baby. I should be sitting on the edge of the bathtub crying." It's so surreal that it can be over, just like that, and then life is back to normal. I was pregnant, and now I'm not. This is the fact, but it is much harder to comprehend emotionally than it is to explain medically.
I did take some time to grieve, I really did- I did the whole sitting on the edge of the tub crying thing. In fact I frightened my daughter by randomly bursting into tears while I was feeding her lunch, which in turn made her cry and made me totally lose it and flee to the bathroom to sob in private. But I have to confess that throwing myself into my projects and party planning has in some ways been just as cathartic as all the crying in the world. Or maybe that's just what my good friend denial is telling me...
But I guess you just do what you have to do to get through the day, right? I don't know if there's any normal way to feel or to deal with a miscarriage, because everyone's initial feelings about pregnancy are so different. To some women it's not real until they feel the baby move, or even until they hold it in their arms. To others, it's real the minute they see that positive sign on the home test. I'm pretty much in the latter category, but this time I had found out that I had very low progesterone levels (a sign of an increased chance for miscarriage) just a day after I found out I was pregnant. So even though we went ahead and told our families the news, there was a part of my heart that was holding back, afraid to get too excited for fear of the pain if something went wrong. Turns out that was a good instinct, but of course it didn't entirely protect me from the sinking in my heart when I learned that my baby was gone. No matter how much you try to prepare yourself, there's no softening that initial blow, I guess.
And maybe it never really goes away. I suppose you always remember the loss of a child, even very early; you always mentally remember that the number of children you have should be one more. I find myself wishing that I had known the gender, that I could have given it a name to remember it by. And simultaneously I am grateful that I lost it too early to know the sex- maybe it is better that way. Though of course, there is no good way.
The only good things I can say I have come away from this with are, one, a more profound gratitude for my beautiful, healthy baby girl, and two, a more humble and realistic perspective on any future pregnancies. I now know that I am not guaranteed perfect health just because I am young, and and I realize more than ever that each healthy baby born is a miraculous gift! Oh yeah, and the third thing I have come away with is a stronger marriage. My husband and I have really had to be there for each other, especially during that difficult day when the doctor was worried that my fallopian tube had ruptured and that I might have complications with further pregnancies. Both of us want a big family, so to hear this news on top of the loss of our baby was really hard to take in, but we had to be strong for each other, and I think we came out of the experience closer.
So.... that's what's been going on on with me lately. Sorry if that was too much information at all, but it felt good to write about it. If anyone has their own stories to share, please do. And to those of you who have been so supportive this past week, and who were praying for us, thank you!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Rained Out

It's weird how priorities change. I used to be a big makeup person, like, I wouldn't leave the house without it. I refused to even wear regular T-shirts with the round, high necklines because I thought they were baggy and unflattering. And I never wore a regular old ponytail, even on my casual hair days.
Well. How the mighty are fallen. Here I am, two years later, in my big 'ole T-shirt and baggy sweats, with my rain plastered hair in a tight ponytail, my face pale and colorless, and my prim schoolmarm glasses resting on my unpowdered nose. I don't have on so much as mascara. And here's the kicker: lots people saw me like this, and I only felt the tiniest bit self conscious!
Let me explain. Jim and I went to the Michigan game today- my first time at the Big House- and literally about ten minutes into the first quarter, it began pouring rain, the kind with big fat drops that startle you with their heaviness. I was not looking super anyways, since my contacts have been driving me crazy lately and I was already wearing the schoolmarm glasses. Plus my hair was in the ponytail, because after the baby, my number one priority is sleep, not getting up in time to style my hair. But I had on cute jeans, and was wearing some makeup. I was not wholly disgusting yet.
Then came the rain, splattering my glasses and sending my mascara in rivulets down my cheeks, which were already splotchy with the remains of my blush and concealer. My glasses got so soaked I had to take them off, so I got to climb the bleachers, blind as a bat, behind thousands of people as we made our way oh so slowly out of the stadium.
You will recall that I was wearing jeans. Well, now I was wearing wet jeans. Not just damp- my clothes were so soaked you would have thought I had been the volunteer at one of those dunking booths. Jim was in a similiar situation. So after the half hour it took to emerge from the stadium, we had to stand in line another half hour to get into the M Den and purchase entirely new outfits for each of us (because there was no way I was riding home with soaked denim plastered to my chubby thighs.) Nothing like enjoying only an eighth of the game, then getting to purchase lots of overpriced team logo apparrel that you don't really want!
Then came the treat of making the seemingly endless trek back to our car, still in our soaked clothes since the line for the restrooms at the stadium was miles long. I can sum up that walk in one word: chafing. Oh wait, three more words: wet tennis shoes.
Finally, about a hundred yards from our car, we found a private area behind a building, shrouded in tall shrubbery, where we could wriggle free of our disgusting drenched clothes and change into our fresh Michigan sweatpants and T-shirts. That was another fun experience, standing guard for each other as we stripped down in the middle of Ann Arbor. It felt like it took about five minutes to peel off those stupid jeans.
Anyways. It was not the fun outing I had anticipated. And I just felt so gross, you know? I probably looked like a drowned rat wearing spectacles. But I didn't really think about it that much. I just wanted to be dry and comfortable again- who cared about reapplying makeup or fixing my hopeless hair?
That may have been the first time in my life since I was sixteen years old that I was thinking about comfort over beauty while in public. A real milestone, in a way. Perhaps I have finally become an adult! Who knows, I may even venture to the grocery store without lipstick one of these days.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Facing Fears

"I think of the times I've felt — let's face the facts — superior because I was doing well. Because I adjusted so quickly when I had Anna two years ago. "This is easy! I don't know what people are complaining about," I remember gloating to a friend. I think of the times when I've judged other parents, or used their problems to make myself feel better. I am ashamed."
This I am quoting from an online journal, Anna, Clara, and Me, at parentcenter.com. (I hope I'm allowed to do that!) This quote is taken from the last entry, in which the author, Evonne, is discussing her slow descent into depression after the birth of her second daughter. She talks about how it took her by surprise, how it took a concerned call from her ob-gyn after her six-week post-partum checkup for her to even face the fact that her daily crying jags and reluctance to get out of bed in the morning might mean something wasn't quite right.
As I read her bravely honest confessional, I felt my worst and usually unspoken fear being yanked out into the harsh light of day. So, here it is: Sometimes I am really, really afraid of having another baby. I am afraid that I, too, will come undone when we take the plunge and go from being a young couple with a baby to being... a family. Sometimes I wonder if one more child will be what tips the scales and turns my dreamy, playing-house-come-to-life experience of motherhood into a full-blown nightmare. I worry that all my smug self-congratulating- "Yes, she's been sleeping through the night for months now!," "Oh, yes, she's always this easy!"-is going to come back and bite me the second time around. And sometimes, as I am happily contemplating visions of growing our family and watching Adelay with a younger sibling and all that... well, sometimes this creapy shadow of doubt begins to darken those visions, and I have to put them away.
What the shadow does, is it erases the happy visions of four shining faces around the dinner table and replaces it with two screaming, messy faces, two strained, exhausted faces, and spaghettios thrown all over the table. Or the shadow will smudge out my little image of the four of us singing songs in the car on our way to the park, and it will show instead me, by myself with two hot, cranky kids on our way to the grocery store. And when we arrive there, I am steering two carts, one with a twisting toddler in the front and a baby in the carseat in the back, and the other one filled with diapers and formula and the Ramaan noodles Jim and I will be eating in order to afford the diapers and formula.
Reading that aforementioned journal entry this morning... well, it brought to the front of my mind this demon of fear that tells me I am tempting fate to desire another child. I am facing it now, forcing myself to imagine (and not turn away from) the worst possible scenarios involving a nearly two-year-old and a small infant- the fifteen diaper changes a day, the toys and fingerprints and Cheerios all over the house that I won't have time to clean up because I'll be attached at the breast to a hungry newborn. The conflicting nap schedules and midnight feedings which will ensure that I never sleep more than three hours at a stretch. The ordeal of two carseats, two coats and hats, two bottles to pack before we can leave the house, which will pretty much guarantee that I never do leave the house except for some sort of out-of-diapers emergency. The way that the eager offers to babysit always seem to thin out more and more with each child you add to the equation.
So there it is, out in the open, my big ugly secret. I long for a large, happy family, but I in equal measure fear messiness and exhaustion and that constant, needy chorus of "Mom, mom, mom." Most of all, most particularly, I fear that expression of hollow, blank joylessness I so often see on the faces of those women in the grocery pushing their two carts. The way you can see in an instant how the million daily demands put on their time have slowly chipped away at their ability to take pleasure in their children. Where I, the mother of one, might see the delight in my child's face as she eats ice cream, these women, three kids later, would probably just be seeing one more mess to clean.
Maybe my "visions" are wildly exaggerated, but there they are, cruelly taunting me whenever I start feeling excited about maybe having another baby pretty soon. It's because I'm a control freak, of course, or maybe because I'm superstitious and think that by having had an easy go of it the first time around, I'm doomed to give birth to a demon seed the next. Or something like that.
But even as I say all this, baring to you the shameful part of me which puts high value on things like quiet and tidiness and and time to myself, I am well aware that these fears will not keep me from delving deeper into parenthood. We will have another child, I am sure, and then another, and another, God-willing. Because the only thing I fear more than a house full of Cheerio crumbs and chatter and toys underfoot is a house without those things, a house filled with only the loud silence of all that time to myself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mrs. Happy Housewife

Okay, I don't really have time for a blog today, but here it is anyways, because I had to tell you guys the crazy thing I found out there in bloggerville! There's a blog called Mrs. Happy Housewife (which I accidentally found when trying to get to my own more smart-alecky blog)!!! Yeah, that's right, her blog name is not sarcastic!!! You seriously have to check this blog out. It's way more elaborate than my pathetic offering, with tons of links, which I haven't figured out how to do, and she's a homeschooler, and she follows this cleaning/organizing/micromanaging every detail of her life system which is way more complicated than anything I have ever seen, and she plans her dinner menus a week in advance, and.... Whew, I had to take a drink of water and relax there just thinking about it!
I spent probably an hour checking all her stuff out and also going to a few of her links. One link in particular, called FLY lady, is good for a nice overwhelming guilt trip, if nothing else. The "Fly lady" recommends organizing your entire life, particularly your cleaning schedules and such, in something called a "control journal," which, dare I say it, sounds a lot like something a.... control freak might have? And in the next breath let me shamefacedly say that I considered making one of my own, in which to schedule every minute of my day and organize my house into cleaning zones and prepare an elaborate evactuation plan for my family and valuables (yes, you read right,) as was recommended. They also suggested having an "errand day" in which one accomplishes all grocery shopping, etc. But then I thought better of it- as in, I thought, "What's next, crazy lady, you're gonna be wearing aprons around the house and making brownies from scratch for no good reason other than to prove a point?"
What I mean to say, with no offense intended toward the obviously intelligent and meticulous Mrs. Happy Housewife, is that while I am a "housewife," and keep a pretty darn clean and organized house, in fact, I in no way wish to be that scheduled and methodical. Ok, well, except for the way in which my inner, obsessive compulsive self (the one that used to cry as a child when I couldn't get those sheets on my bed perfectly flat and smooth) always feels drawn to stuff suggesting order and cleanliness and discipline.
But the fact is, I am home all day with a baby and a dog. I don't want to be so organized that I have an "errand day" in which I get it all taken care of in one fell swoop- I want an errand every day! I sometimes invent errands in order to get out of the house more! And how am I supposed to follow a cleaning schedule when I'm taking care of a baby who has about a three minute attention span?
The answer is, I'm not. I've tried many daily schedules and cleaning schedules of my own (none that involved "control journals," but...) and it always ends up being frustrating, and I just get OCD about it and then overly upset when everything doesn't go perfectly as I planned. So, I have abandoned them and found that I'm much happier just seeing where the day takes me. Everything still gets done pretty regularly, and this way I don't have to stress about what I'm "supposed" to be doing at any given time. Maybe this wouldn't work for everyone, but it's the only thing that does work for me.
Now, we'll see how long this lasts- maybe when I have three kids running around and a million things on my mind, I will need a control journal to keep from losing track of all that needs done.
Until that dreaded day, though, I think I'll stick with what works for me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Confessions, Part Two

Hiya, it's me again, still slacking away! Now, before I launch into my newest story of bad parenting, I want to point that I created a lovely playroom for my daughter today- yay me! It is blissfully free of sharp objects and glass cabinets and remote controls and computer cords; it is a little safe haven in which I can hopefully crash out on the bed (okay, it's also still the spare bedroom) and watch Addy play to her little heart's content without hovering every second to prevent some new form of head trauma and/or damage to "mommy's pretties." So I feel pretty good about myself. And I also finally put outlet covers throughout the house. I realize this may seem extremely late in the game to be doing that, but our kid was a late crawler, ok? It didn't really seem urgent until now.
So. Those are my triumphs of the week. Also the fact that Addy is better now, her new tooth is nearly in, and she has been sleeping through the night again! These seemingly small things have made the difference between a happy, perky mama, and a mama who was getting weepy driving around the rural outskirts of town, listening to the same cd play for the third time in a row, just so that her stuffy, congested baby back in the carseat would stay asleep a little bit longer.
Now for the confession part. I was getting clothes out of the dryer the other day and sat Adelay down on the rug next to me. She was playing with some toy and was pretty quiet and content, so I kind of forgot she was there after a minute, and when I finished the laundry, I continued on into the kitchen to unload the dishwasher. Then, couple of minutes later, it dawns on me how quiet Adelay has been, and I turn around to look into the laundry room. There, next to the dog's dish, sat my happy, drooling baby, chewing on an ant trap. With dead ants dangling off of it.
My heart was racing so fast, seriously, and I'm running in there and grabbing her up and snatching away the poison chew toy, and I'm actually saying to myself out loud, "Now, don't panic, it's probably fine, these kinds of things are almost always fine, kids eat all kinds of awful things and survive..." But still my heart is racing, racing, racing, and I'm watching my daughter, waiting for her lips to turn blue or for her to start coughing weakly or something. I didn't even know what to look for!
So I scrambled for my phone and called the local hospital's hotline, and they referred me to Poison Control Center (and yes, I know, I should have that number posted on my refrigerator, along with the number of the local police and my child's pediatrician and our local pharmacy and also a list of every known sex offender in a 100-mile radius. I know!) And then my phone started it's insistent beeping- low battery!- and in order to stay on the phone with the Poison Control lady, I had to hook my phone to its charger. So, I was essentially attached to the wall, waiting for her to look up the exact ingredients of my particular brand of ant trap to see if I had allowed my baby to ingest toxic poisons or not, and as I'm waiting, Adelay crawls over to the kitchen cupboard and starts pulling out more great toys like dish detergent and Lysol antibacterial spray! And then helpful poison center lady returns to the phone to assure me that my daughter will live and I don't need to induce vomiting or anything, but that I "really need to watch her every minute, you know- they can get into trouble as soon as you turn your back!"
Is there a lower feeling than being scolded by a complete stranger? Not in my catalogue of emotions. I am one of those shallow people to whom other people's opinions actually matter a lot, even though I am loathe to admit it, and I felt like total parent scum for a few minutes. My husband arrived right at that moment, though, so I got to quickly relay the story, hand off the baby, and escape to the bathroom for a quick cry before dinner. That was nice. Small favors...
So, yeah. That was a bad day. The dog threw up twice that morning, also. Just so you know. But hey, we're all still alive, so what's a bad day?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sick and Tired

Well, Addy's had a cold for almost a week now, plus she picked this convenient time to also begin cutting her first tooth (not one of the usual bottom center first teeth, either- no, an upper incisor for my girl, a much more painful tooth to cut!) It's been a bit of a culture shock, in a way, because Addy had never really been sick before, and she has always been a pretty good sleeper. It was literally as though, last Saturday, a baby snatcher removed our happy child and left in her place a screaming, miserable little bundle of drool and snot who refuses to eat or sleep, and who cries to be held, yet, when picked up, twists and squirms to be put down. There was one night this weekend when it literally took three hours of Jim and I taking turns rocking and walking her to put her to sleep.
Not to sound spoiled- I want to say that I know lots of people go through routines like this on a daily basis, and believe me, you have my sympathy. But it's just been a long couple of days and nights. Oh, and did I mention that for three days she went without taking a nap? Seriously, the child did not sleep at all unless we put her in the car and drove around- probably because with the angle of the car seat she could actually breathe. If you guys have been around nap-deprived babies for any time, you know how insane they get- Adelay would literally look delirious by the end of the day, eyelids drooping, crawling around in a crazy weave resembling a drunk person's stagger, but she would just be more determined than ever that sleep was not on the agenda.
Anyways... she's better now, mostly, just has a runny nose and is a little cranky and clingy still, but at least she's sleeping. It feels like we're emerging from a dark tunnel of awfulness, blinking into the sunlight, amazed that there still is such a thing. I have never before wished that I was not the one at home all day with the baby, but I have to admit to having a strong desire for exactly that a couple of times this weeks. That makes me feel terrible and unloving and unsympathetic- when my baby is sick, I should be feeling bad for her, not myself! And I did, I promise, and I still do. As I watched her fight sleep so desperately when it was what she needed most, believe me, I felt great compassion and tenderness for my poor baby. She sometimes seems like such a big girl already, but in those moments, she was as helpless and hysterical as a newborn, and I wanted nothing more than to make her feel comfortable and relaxed. Yet, what I needed desperately was also sleep. And I too longed to feel relaxed, but that's not in the cards for the mom of a sick cranky baby.
Sometimes, as adults, don't we just wish there was someone to take care of us? And there is, of course, our spouses and friends and support systems and all that. But I mean, literally, physically, take care, like, hold you and rock you and carry you around and tuck you into bed and fetch you drinks in the middle of the night? 'Cause, see, I myself was not feeling so hot last weekend either, for various reasons, and I found myself wishing to be little again, to have a caretaker, rather than be the caretaker.
But. Such is not the case. And this is what I signed on for when we decided to have a baby- the long, insane nights and the tired, hung-over feeling days. But there is also the feeling of being needed, and the knowledge that you are capable of giving comfort- these are not small things. And also there is the chance to feel gratitude towards my own mother!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Confessions of a Slacker Mom

Ok, well, promise you won't turn me in to the authorities- I just let my daughter entertain herself with the plastic sleeve of the Oreos package for, like, fifteen minutes straight. And then I went to put some laundry away, and when I turned around to tell Addy I'd be back in a minute, I suddenly saw what any normal personal would have seen a while ago, which was, essentially, an infant amusing herself by putting her head in a plastic bag. Good wholesome fun! (Just in case any of you are actually picking up the phone right now, please be assured I was right beside her the whole time she was playing. I feel fairly sure I would have noticed if death was imminent. But still.)
And this isn't the first time, either, with the shiny plastic packaging. It is currently Adelay's first love, and she responds to its crunchy, crinkly sound like a siren song. Newspaper is also a big favorite. Oh, and those whisper-thin sanitary covers that they put over the exam tables at the doctor's office, so easily and noisily shredded? Oh, we love that stuff, yes we do! We whip ourselves into a little frenzy kicking and tearing at it for the sheer joy of those rustling, ripping sounds! (I was genuinely embarassed the last time I was at our doctor's. We had to wait a while, and by the time the doctor got into the exam room, it looked like a giant, rabid mouse had gotten at the paper. Not to mention the noise, both from the crinkling paper and the gleeful, shrieking child.)
So, all you relatives who will be buying gifts in the future, please know that you could throw, say, a McDonalds Happy Meal toy into a large crate, swath it in about a hundred layers of tissue paper, and you would undoubtedly be the bearer of the most beloved birthday present ever.
Remote controls and cell phones are also consistently tempting, despite the fact that Adelay has a toy version of both those items. But these she casts off in disdain in favor of the real thing. And cords are wonderful, and Daddy's DVD collection, and Mommy's hot cup of coffee, and the keyboard and the mouse, and the dog's germy tongue, and random dirty shoes slipped off in the front hall... All of these are fantastic toys, and clearly make all that plastic Baby Weisenstein crap we try to give her pale in comparison!
So, with her first birthday coming up, I don't know what I should ask for from her doting grandparents- plastic grocery sacks? Filled with more sacks? Because yes, these too are absolutely irresistable, apparently. On the way home from the grocery store, Adelay's discontented moans are always my companion. She seranades me with a little song called, "Why Are You So Mean, Keeping All the Grocery Bags Away From Me So I Cannot Bury My Little Nose and Mouth in Their Enticing Plastic Embrace?"
And here's another guilty little secret for you: by the end of my shopping trips, I have usually given in and allowed Addy to occupy herself by chewing on my shopping list until it is nothing but a wet, inky pulp. It's really disgusting. But after about a half hour of shopping, watching me consult that beautiful piece of paper over and over, she is driven insane with jealousy and will stop at nothing to snatch it from my hands. And if I try to thwart her in her thievery, she will kick and cry and twist around and I will get The Eye from all the old ladies with their carts full of cottage cheese. So, letting her get some paper in her diet- which is, after all, good hearty fiber, right?- often seems the lesser of two evils.
So there you have it. My confession for the week. Someone, please, tell me what eyebrow-raising things you let your little kids do to keep the peace, please! It'll make me feel better.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Babies 'R'nt' Us

I just want to say to any parents of twins, triplets, or, Lord help you, quads or quints or whatever else there is, my hat is off to you. And to your pharmacist, who probably really has to hustle to keep up with your Prozac refills. I worked in the church nursery on Sunday, and let me just tell you, there is nothing like hauling around fat, screaming babies to make an hour seem interminable. And for a real ego boost, nothing beats doing everything in your power to calm a hysterical child only to have them stiffen and writhe away from you in outrage as though you were, say, poking them with a cattle prod rather than desperately trying to get a bottle into their wailing, drooling mouth.
There were two nursery workers to seven babies, one of which was mine, so I felt she really didn't count. My kid's cool; she just does her thing, plays with the toys, flops around. But then, she had her mommy in plain view. Those other babies, boy, as soon as that door closes and Mama disappears from sight, the waterworks are on. Cue also the sad, pitiful, heartbroken weeping that makes you so happy not to be a kid anymore, forced to endure epic tragedies every hour or so. I mean, I really feel terrible for them. I imagine that they truly think they have been abandoned and will forevermore be cared for by the strange lady enthusiastically trying to engage them with some crappy, broken plastic toy that's been slimed by three other babies. I would cry too, you know?
For a while, all was going well. The three little girls were all sitting in a circle playing together (read: all silently absorbed in their own toys, and casting occasional, vaguely envious glances at the other babies' toys.) One boy was in the exersaucer, the other sleeping, the other suckling contentedly from his bottle. Boy number four was dangling in the jumperoo. Peace reigned.
And then we heard it, a small, discontented noise from inside the napping room. We glanced at each other in alarm, for anyone who's ever been around more than one baby at a time knows what crying begets: more crying. It's more contagious than the freaking stomach flu, and once it leaked out of the nap room, it was all over for us.
Those kids cried their poor little heads off, one after another, your classic domino effect. Even my child's contented little face began to crumple as she watched me holding one baby after another while she sat alone on the floor, and then she was yelling too. I felt like we were in a silly cartoon or something, two women surrounded by crying babies, hopping from one to another like chickens with our heads cut off. I usually think I do well under pressure, but apparently not so much, because when the mom of the most inconsolable baby finally arrived, she informed me that I had mixed his water with baby cereal instead of formula. She passed along this information very nicely, of course, but I still felt like a total idiot. I have a child who is actually older than hers; you'd think I'd know the difference between cereal and formula!
Oh well. Se la vie. But I was never so happy to grab my kid and leave, let me tell you. Seeing what happens when you put seven babies in one room is enough to make you swear off infertility treatments forever! So to all you brave parents who made that choice and now have your very own nursery school/insane assylum, I wish you all the best, and also many helpful relatives. And to anyone struggling with your own houseful of properly spaced kids, I just wanted to tell you, it could be worse. You could have had to potty train them all at the same time.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Are We Having Fun Yet?

This evening my extended family and I were trying to have a nice dinner, and then a nice game of cards, but then this one little thing kept interfering- the fact that we have offspring. First my sister-in-law had to come late because of her daughter's friend's birthday party, then her husband had to come late because of a bit of a rough afternoon with their son, so we ended up eating dinner in shifts. Then my own daughter hit her head on her high chair halfway through the meal and had to be comforted and plied with a bottle. Soon after, my brother-in-law arrived, son in tow, and headed off to the kitchen to prepare their dinners. His aforementioned child sat at the table, looking tragic and forlorn, and repeated over and over, mantra-like, "I want Mom.... I want Mom..."
Later, we tried card playing, but my little one was busy trying to take down my wine glass and steal her cousin's blanky and such, and, having reached her limit, decided to remove everything in her immediate vicinity from the table with one grand sweep of her arm. She proceeded to wiggle and moan and nothing, nothing would do, not Mommy's lap or Grandma's lap or a bottle or the glorious toys which had moments earlier been so engrossing.
The game was cut a bit short. No one quite seemed up for it, after diaper changes and the handing out of numerous graham crackers and the head counts to make sure everyone was present and accounted for and not, say, playing a rousing round of spill the juice on Grandma's sofa or whatever. My husband said wryly, as we were packing up to leave, "Everything's so much more fun with kids!"
And so I got to thinking: No it's not. This was honestly kind of disillusioning for me, despite having been in the company of children quite a lot and having some familiarity with their ways. It hadn't really occurred to me before, though, I guess because I was so accustomed to having the kids around during these family events that I wouldn't have thought to question whether their presence there was really very fun. It just was.
But you know what? It would be more fun if they weren't there. Or at least it would be more fun in the sense of "playing a game out to its conclusion without everybody having to jump up seventy-five freaking times to attend to the needs of other people in other rooms."
And then when we got home- it is Saturday night, mind you- I was so tired I went to bed before eleven. Exciting stuff, huh?
But this is the life we chose, all of us who have children. If you go somewhere with your kids, you can't be surprised when there are a few hiccups in the smooth socializing flow that you used to enjoy pre-baby. So maybe I just need to redefine fun, stop demanding it on my own terms. Old fun was lingering conversations and uninterrupted meals and staying up late. New fun is seeing my relatives interact with my daughter and watching her learn new skills like self-feeding and banging her toys together. New fun is taking one last peak at my baby, sleeping like an angel, before I tuck my own tired self in.
So I take it back. It would not have been more fun to have dinner without the kids. It would have been a different kind of fun, yes, and a kind of fun that I occassionally miss. But we have a new fun now, a fun I know I will most definitely miss when it has left us.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Taming of the Shrew

Why am I being so evil?? Here is a list, just off the top of my head, of the random things I have decided to harp at my husband about today: the fact that his shirt, in the glaring sunlight of the church parking lot, was not black but in fact navy blue, and clashed JUST SO UNFORGIVABLY with his black shoes; the fact that he has not recently given me a compliment (to my memory) that specifically had to do with how I looked (referring to my actual face, hair, and/or body, as compliments about clothes no longer count;) the fact that when he clears the dishes from the dinner table and rinses them off, he does not also wipe down the countertops; the fact that he wanted to go play video games with his friend but should not be allowed to because he already did that once this weekend and that is just too darn much fun for a family man to be having in one weekend; the fact that he did not fasten his seat belt for the quarter-of-a-mile drive to church; and last but not least (prepare yourselves for the horror of this offense,) the fact that when he was giving our daughter her bath, he didn't see the towel and washcloth I had so thoughtfully laid out for him and reached around the corner of the bathtub, potentially taking his eyes off of Addy for one nanosecond, to get one himself.
I know, I know what you're thinking: "How does she live with this man? How did he manage to commit so many unspeakable acts in just one day?"
I don't have the answers to these questions, folks. Nor do I have the answer to the question, "Can a person be permanently stuck in premenstrual syndrome for the rest of her life? If so, is that an excuse for her to make shrill, shrewish comments whenever they form themselves in her head?"
I say again, oy vey. Maybe I should start washing down leftover Vicodin with a nip of white wine whenever I feel this meanspirited mood coming over me. No, you say? Chemical dependancy is not the answer? Then what? Self-restraint? Good Lord, I thought it would never come to that, I really did. I was sure marriage would only increase our mutual affection and that I, unlike every other wife on the face of the planet, would never ever feel the urge to offer petty, peevish little criticisms about the manner in which my husband chose to, say, brush his teeth.
Ah, how the mighty are fallen! What is that saying about the sins of the fathers? Perhaps that is true for womankind as well, and the sins of every wife since Adam and Eve are just trickling on down to me, the next in line for her obligatory dose of nagging and kvetching and obsessing!
But no. I jest. That is no excuse. I'm going to try to pull myself together here, I promise. I will not make my husband's life one of quiet desperation, nor will I drive him away to the garage or the bathroom, which I understand to be the traditional retreats of harassed husbands everywhere. That is my goal this week. May the force be with me!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Semi-Life?

I'm a little depressed lately... I don't know why, either, which always makes it worse, right? For instance, when our kitchen was all torn up for repairs, I was in a bad mood because the kitchen was all torn up and I wanted things back to normal. And then when they were, I was happy again. But right now I'm just grumpy, in a PMS-y sort of way, but I don't have PMS right now (unless one can argue that PMS could in fact extend to the entire three weeks which are, technically, premenstrual.)
So, I guess I'm just being...um, witchy right now. I feel like all I want to do is sleep, even though I have been getting plenty of sleep. I feel no motivation or excitement to get out of bed in the morning. I just want to pull the covers over my head and pretend it's still nighttime.
Okay, I just reread that, and I think I know what it is, why I don't get that motivated in the mornings : it's that- surprise, surprise- I spend a great deal of my day alone! And oneself is not always the most stimulating of company! I just wish that there was an actual reason for me to shower before three in the afternoon, or somebody sitting down eating meals with me to shame me out of eating cookies for breakfast. I wish somebody was my boss, actually. Sadly, I thrive under supervision. I want someone checking up on my work and praising me for a job well done and giving me to do lists and noticing my cute work clothes and styled hair. (It has been an entire month since I have blown my hair dry, much less curled it.)
When there is only me, a big horsey dog, and my daughter, who would be perfectly happy to roll around on the floor all day and who communicates by shrieking, it's hard to keep myself from feeling as though I am the sole warden of a small zoo.
And here I am alone again. It is Saturday morning, and my husband is golfing, and here I am still tending the zoo. I do not begrudge him golfing, I really don't. He should have fun and time with his friends, that is right and good. It's just... it's just this feeling I have, as though I'm always being left behind, baby on my hip, waving from the door while he pulls out of the driveway.
I see the unfairness in the mental picture I have just drawn, though. I know that my husband has cheerfully stayed with the baby many times while I went out with my friends. So I would like to point out that this moodiness isn't entirely about him. I guess it's about the friends too, and how I just feel out of touch with some of them- the non-mom ones. I listen to their stories and as much as I do not miss being single, I sort of miss how every other day there was some new crisis and some new piece of information to get either outraged or thrilled or devestated about. Life was... happening, there were things happening all the time. There were things to think about other than, "When was the last time I cleaned out the fridge?"
I was talking to one of my friends the other day about how furious she was at her ex over something she had just found out, and I asked her, "Does it feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest, it's beating so hard?" And she said, "Yes, exactly like that." It was kind of surreal, remembering what it physically felt like to experience such an intense emotion, even a negative one. And I realized that I just haven't felt much of anything for a while beyond baby-love feelings. So maybe that's why I'm out of touch with my friends- they sense that I can't really relate anymore to the every day highs and lows of their emotions. I'm just here, at the sink, or loading the dryer, or pushing my grocery cart full of baby food and toilet paper.
But I'll get over it. It's just immaturity, probably, to always need something new going on. What I feel to be boredom I should try to cultivate into contentment. It could be much, much worse, my life, and for those moments when everything is just steady, I should be grateful that everyone is safe and well and fine.
To think, I was just preaching to my husband and sister-in-law the other day about how the best way to parent is to just be all Zen-like and find inner peace and radiate it around your house and then your kids will pick up on it and, I don't know, start mediating whenever they feel a tantrum coming on or something. Gosh, was I on crack? What was I talking about? I can't even find inner peace when there's nothing wrong, much less when I'm around a bunch of fighting kids!
So anyways... forgive my ramblings. I am fine. And to those certain people who were subjected to my insane diatribe on theoretical parenting techniques, ignore me! I am clearly no expert on modeling inner peace!