Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Hurrah

Here's a few of my favorite shots from this year. This has been one of the busiest, blurriest years I can remember, but also one of the best. Watching Eli turn from a hungry, grumpy little butterball of a newborn into a chortling, gleeful little brother chasing Addy around the house has been the most miraculous transformation I have ever witnessed. Addy has turned from a toddler into a nearly-preschooler, learning letters and shapes and how to much more firmly and clearly express herself about clothing, food choices, toy preferences, and her love for her purses, tiaras, and various lucky family members. And Jim and I have learned how to... Cope. Go with the flow. Enjoy the moment. I MAY have had a harder time with that lesson than he has, but I think I'm getting there. I fully believe next year will be even better.








Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And To All A Good Night

Dear Santa,

My greatest dream has been realized. Jewelry, perfume, books, sweaters, or fancy hand creams would now be only a side note when compared to the Christmas miracle you delivered to our house this evening... My daughter caved to my coaching, cajoling, and outright bribery, and, after much fussing and begging for a diaper and whining that her tummy hurt, begrudgingly pooped on the potty.

I have never in my life felt so excited about another person's bowel movement. I have never felt so excited about MY OWN bowel movement. I nearly cried. I gushed, "I'm so proud of you!" so many times that Adelay finally gave me a consoling, somewhat worried hug and replied, "I'm proud of you, too, Mommy!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Early Christmas!

So guess what arrived out of the blue the other day? A gorgeous handmade carseat cover that I had totally forgotten about winning from Valley Momma! It was like the thrill you get when you discover a forgotten five dollar bill in your pocket, but, you know, a lot BIGGER of a thrill. I mean, LOOK!



And if that weren't enough, she threw in a bunch of other goodies, just 'cause she's nice like that! Lookie!



The top two are little zippered bags; the smaller one is Addy's, with cute little guitars on it, and the brown and pink one is a cosmetic bag for moi. The bottom one is a cover for a travel wipes case. So nifty, right?

Also, she sent a Christmas bib for Eli, very cute, but it's in the laundry right now so I can't show you. AND she sent crayon rolls for each of the kids! Here is Eli's, rolled:




And here is Adelay's, unrolled:



Note the possessive little hand grasping for it. That was literally the best shot I could get of her crayon roll; in all the others, Addy is actually snatching it off the desk, and all you see if a blur of fabric and grubby fingers.

These were all really well made items, in adorable fabrics. I especially love the car seat cover, though. I mean it's so awesome! Beyond the obvious convenience factor, that it is removed EASILY for washing in case someone stains it with juice or um, bodily fluids of some sort, it is just so colorful and fun and SUCH an improvement over the previous, boring navy blue fabric. And it fits perfectly, nipping in at all the right spots to conform to the shape of the car seat. I highly recommend! Thank you again, Beth!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sigh

Well, I had my Clomid consult today, and it served only to totally frustrate me. The doctor I saw today, the "fertility expert" in the new practice I'm going to, thinks that I don't have a luteal phase defect at all, despite what two other doctors have suggested. She thinks I've just had bad luck twice, and that the low progesterone levels I had early on in those losses were just indicators that the pregnancies were failing, rather than being the reason the pregnancies were failing. I've heard this theory online from many different medical sources. Basically, as the doctor today told me, even the top experts in the field of infertility disagree on whether low progesterone is a cause or an indicator of miscarriage.

She said she thinks luteal phase defect is "overly diagnosed" and that if that were truly what I have, a, I wouldn't have been able to carry Adelay without help, and b, the progesterone supplements I took would have saved the pregnancies that I lost. She thinks my problem is that I have a delay in my ovulating process, which is causing the DNA in my eggs to deteriorate before I finally release them, which is then causing poor quality conceptions that can't develop. This delay obviously doesn't always happen, but maybe more often than not it does. I do frequently experience kind of drawn-out, painful ovulation cycles, which seem to go on for days and days instead of being over in thirty six hours or whatever.

She pointed out that several days ago when I had my ultrasound, my follicle appeared just two or three days from being ready, but my cervix was clearly far from being ready. And it's only just today that I'm beginning to feel the pain in my side that always indicates ovulation is imminent. Which means that follicle has just kind of been swelling and swelling, waiting, and meanwhile the health of the egg is suffering. I guess. That is basically what I gleaned from the discussion. Has anyone ever heard of this or had this problem themselves?

She said she didn't think Clomid was strictly necessary in my case, that Adelay is proof that I CAN conceive naturally and not miscarry. But she said that given my history of loss, and especially since I responded so well to the low dose of Clomid I took to conceive Eli, that taking Clomid is probably what she would do if she were wary of another miscarriage. She said she'd have me come in on day fourteen of my cycle, and if I hadn't ovulated on my own yet even with the drugs, she'd give me a shot to make sure I did in time to preserve the health of the egg.

I am so confused! I mean, I'm kind of relieved that I don't HAVE to take Clomid if I don't want to. I'm not DOOMED to repeated miscarriages without it. But they are significantly more likely, apparently. So what do we do? Leave it to chance and hope for the best one more time? Or say better safe than sorry and take the drugs?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just Curious

Do you send holiday cards or write Christmas letters? Or neither?

Do you have white or colored lights on your tree?

Do you do outdoor light displays?

Do your kids get into the Santa Clause stuff, or not seem to care? Do you promote him, or actively discourage him?

What do you usually have to eat on Christmas Day?


We are writing a letter this year, and we did last year, too. It's kind of hard to find the right balance between enough information (children's ages, current activities, adult's jobs and hobbies) and too much information (probably won't begin the holiday greeting by making sure everyone knows that I lost a pregnancy in August, then had hernia surgery in October.) It's also hard to know what tone to go with: fun and breezy, or heartfelt and overflowing with gratitude. But it's fun to include pictures to go with the kids' paragraphs, and it's fun to get to brag about them a little (though again, the balance problem: how much bragging evokes a smile, and how much bragging is just plain, you know, braggy?)

We have white lights on our Christmas tree, and a white-light star. Also, gold ribbon instead of garland. But our ornaments are totally random and mostly kiddy stuff, so it's hardly a stuffy, designer-looking tree. The tree skirt is a Christmas quilt that belonged to my late grandma.

We hung icicle lights around our front porch, and wrapped blue lights around the front lamppost. I also attempted, from atop a teetery ladder, to put lights on a tree, but it was a disaster and we aren't turning those lights on. Half the strands ended up being dead, and the tree is deceptively tall and I could only get lights on the bottom two branches, and... It looks really dreadful. And is going to be a pain in my arse to take down, too, since I decided to wind the strands around and around each branch instead of stringing them gracefully from branch to branch. Yeah, it's just bad all around.

I have mentioned Santa a few times in passing to Adelay, and we have a German Santa (complete with a beer stein) in our living room, but I don't think she has any idea or concept of him, and she already seems to grasp that adults bring gifts. So I think it may be a lost cause.

I usually eat candy out of my stocking for breakfast, and then at Jim's parents there's a traditional coffee cake. My mom usually has brunchy things too. But I have to admit I pretty much just eat sugar nonstop on Christmas. I set a wonderful example, I know.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Is A Long One

I haven't talked much about when we're planning to try to conceive baby number three, have I? Ever since August's ill-fated pregnancy, and my unofficial diagnosis with luteal phase defect, we've kind of been taking it one month at a time, but with the general agreement that we would wait at least until after the holidays.

Also, I am pretty much convinced that I want to be on Clomid when we try again, since out of my last three pregnancies, the only one that went to term was conceived using Clomid. The other two were supplemented with progesterone to try to correct my low hormones, but the supplements alone apparently weren't enough. The new doctor suggested giving it one more go with just supplements, but starting them as soon as I ovulate rather than waiting until I get pregnant. And logically, that seems like a reasonable option. But emotionally, I just cannot chance that it won't work and that I'll lose another baby. So apparently we'll be chancing twins instead! Whee!

I went for an ultrasound a couple days ago to make sure everything was good to go in the ole' reproductive organ department, and then Tuesday I have a pre-Clomid consult with the fertility specialist at my OB's office. Anyways, at the ultrasound, the tech apparently knew that I was there to prepare for a round of Clomid, but didn't know what the Clomid was being prescribed FOR. As soon as she got a view of my ovaries, she got all giddy and exclaimed, "Look at this! You've got a great big follicle on your right ovary! You're going to ovulate this month- you should try to get pregnant on your own!"

For some reason, this made me irrationally angry. "I KNOW I can ovulate," I said a little snappishly. "That's not my problem. If I get pregnant this month on my own, I'll just lose it." What I wanted to say was, "Stick to your job. Measure my uterus, measure my ovaries, take note of my follicle, whatever. But don't give me fertility advise when you have no idea what I'm here for." I think it just made me feel inadequate all over again. I mean, there was a lovely, giant follicle, ripe for ovulation, and I have no choice but to let it go to waste.

Well, sorry about that detour into Unresolved Hostility! The point is, we're getting ready to try again soon, albeit with pharmaceutical assistance. Slowly but surely, I've been feeling the Baby Urge again. I want to the hospital to visit a friend and her day old baby girl last Sunday, and whew, it was so fresh and exciting, yet so familiar and instinctive, to hold a tiny baby again. I forgot how they fit perfectly into the crook of your arm, their heads in your hand and their feet tucked in your elbow. I forgot how you can rock them on your lap and just STARE at them forever and not get bored once. I forgot- but so quickly remembered!- how inexplicably sweet they smell. Especially before their first bath... Oh. It is the smell of newness and innocence and magic. As I watched my friend snuggle her new daughter, wearing that very particular, exhausted but satisfied new mother smile, I felt just like Tina Fey in 30 Rock last week: "I want to go to there!"

It's just the getting there that has me hesitant, still. I know adding another kid would just be more chaos and mess and noise and sleeplessness, but really, once you have two, how much worse could it get? So I'm pretty much over fearing the realities of another child. I just fear the realities and risks of pregnancy. I so badly do not want to experience another loss. And I so badly do NOT want to be nauseaous and tired and weepy for three months, and then bedridden and bloated and dilated and crampy for another two months at the end. Pregnancy is miraculous, sure, but, just like a newborn, it is a miracle that is filled with messiness and complication and major inconvenience.

I wish I liked being pregnant more. It's kind of a sore point with me, because I always thought I would love every second of it. I wish I could walk around the whole time feeling like a glowing Madonna, rubbing my fertile orb of a belly. Instead, I mostly feel kind of like a joke. Like a whale. Or like my regular self, stuffed into a fat suit that I cannot escape. The fat suit prospect is especially scary given that I am finally getting into shape for the first time in my life.

But. I think we will probably try again soon. Or soon-ish. So, um, if you're pregnant, or just LIKE being pregnant, pretty please will you leave me some reminders of why it's special! and magical!?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Tricks

This is, very obviously, not an exercise/diet/self improvement type of blog in any way, shape or form. If anything, I could be called an enabler for such things as chocolate addictions. However, I think it is worth mentioning, necessary to mention, even, that exercise has totally changed my life.

Well. Maybe not rocked it to its core or anything. But it was definitely a big part of what finally lifted the fog I felt lost in for a few months following my last miscarriage. The greatest thing it did for me, even more than the faint but still visible physical changes that are surfacing, was to allow me to see myself in a new way. I got to reinvent myself.

See, I have always thought of myself as somewhat soft, if you know what I mean. A bit of a wuss about things like headaches, colds, menstrual cramps, slight variations in temperature, having to sit in the backseat, etc. Not a fan of anything that would cause me to perspire, and certainly not a seeker of muscle tone. A girly girl, definitely. (I think the fact that I got through childbirth- TWICE, even- without an epidural shocked me more than anyone else. Sure, I had said I really didn't want one, but I said it with kind of the same mindset I am in when I say I really don't want a second piece of cake. Even I don't believe myself.)

I have never enjoyed exercise, and I felt that as long as I watched what I ate, that was good enough. (I'm using the term "watching" very loosely here.) But after that second miscarriage, I was so sad, so conflicted, and more than anything, so flat and numb feeling, that I knew I had to change up something in my life. And I had heard that those endorphins can cheer you up, so... I begrudgingly requested a gym membership for my birthday in September. Aside from a brief hiatus after my hernia surgery, I've been going two to four times a week ever since, kids in tow, and walked, jogged, biked, done the Nautilus circuit, and even tried out the hot tub. Just once, though. Mostly I've run, which is perhaps the most shocking part of it all.

I've always hated running, and more than that, I'm not really supposed to run, since I have weak knees. I've been advised to ride an exercise bike or swim for cardio instead. But I'm a terrible swimmer- I look like I'm drowning when I try to swim laps- and I hate being on the bike. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. So, I'm running anyways. And slowly but surely, I am enjoying it. Looking forward to it, even. Once I start panting, actually getting my heart rate up, it feels good. My body craves it, sometimes. I can feel my pulse quicken when I approach the track, much the way it would in the past upon spotting a box of chocolates. Okay, it still quickens for chocolate. But but BUT- now it quickens for running, too. And that is something I never, ever thought I would say.

I am pretty proud of myself.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Jim Halpert No Longer

So I finally cut Eli's hair, with Jim's begrudging permission. I've been wanting to for months, as it was beyond the "cute toddler curls" stage and fully into the "baby mullet/Jim Halpert-type hair sprouting out around the ears" stage. Here is before:



Ahem. And also maybe think "a healthy dose of that kid from The Exorcist."

Aaaannnd... After:



Righteous, dude! My new haircut, like, totally rocks!


And here's one of Addy, since I felt my last post perhaps painted her in a less than angelic light:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Potty NotTraining



The Disney Princess potty, bought in the hopes that perhaps it was a simple aesthetics preference keeping Addy from using our other potty chair, was quickly converted into an amusement park for those swingin' Fisher Price Little People.





Here we have a close up of a few of these stout, long suffering toys. This woman in the headset here appears to be warning the others back from the edges, as though from a volcano. She shouldn't have worried. Nothing more fearsome than dust has been deposited into this particular bowl.





Is it just me, or does the fellow on the right appear to have designs on the wholesome looking chic beside him?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Picking Your Brain

On My Mind: When do kids get old enough to be expected to perform "chores"? And when are they old enough to reliably take their dishes to the sink, pick up their own toys, throw dirty clothes in the hamper, rub my feet on command, etc?

What's that, you say? Around the age of thirty five? I thought so.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In No Particular Order...

We had an early Christmas in Michigan on Sunday, which is roughly three hours each way. So is it at all shocking to say that by the time we reached home, we had acquired FOUR Madagascar Happy Meal toys? Toys which emit such charming little one-liners as, "I know I'm every hippo's dream!" and "Holler at'cher boy!" If that's not annoying enough, these are motion activated toys, but they don't work all that well, so rather than just shake them you have to actually bang them on a hard surface before they'll release their garbled, mechanical quips. And um, did I mention FOUR of them?

Eli is throwing major, albeit short lived, tantrums these days. He throws his head back wildly, usually into his crib or the corner of his arch nemesis, the changing table, and then screams even louder in coupled fury and pain. Or he crumples miserably to the floor, after hurling his toy or book or milk cup across the room, and wails piteously for about ten seconds. Then he's done, and on to the next thing. Head bumps and spilled milk aside, these little fits are actually more amusing than frustrating. (Unlike those occasions of hour-long bedtime screaming, which feel like a kind of relay race: "Okay, your turn to try to settle him while I sit here at the computer and gather my strength for the next passing of the baton.")

What do you guys usually do for stocking stuffers? Do you DO stockings? And what's a reasonable price limit for stocking gifts? Because it seems to me that small does not necessarily equal inexpensive, even for kids' stuff.

What is your take on Christmas decorations? Do you feel they should be bright and fun and clash-y, and that in fact therein lies half the fun, or do you prefer your decorations to at least BLEND with the rest of your all-year-round decor? And who can guess how I feel about the subject?

Jim and I have been watching season two of Rome the last few nights, and holy crap! Has anyone else (who is familiar with the show, obv.) noticed that there is WAY more nekkedness and sex than in the first season? And not even fun sex, but kind of disturbing, this-is-the-opposite-of-a-turn-on kind of sex? Still, it is addicting, that show. Also, unfortunately, not conducive at all to getting sleepy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Normal Is As Normal Does

I always wonder whether certain things are normal, and having kids has only heightened this curiosity. Is it normal, for instance, that Addy sometimes has tantrums because I don't pour her juice into the right cup- or even because I am not pouring it at the desired end of the kitchen counter? Is it normal that Eli will resort to biting his own hands, kind of hard, after having remote controls, DVD cases, and other people's hands removed from his jaws? Is it normal that I am sometimes loathe to let anybody change clothes one more time until I have the laundry all put away, just so that for one glorious minute all the hampers are empty?

Normal is such a relative term, I realize. In some cultures, for instance, what I would consider to be borderline child abuse or neglect is just part of how they raise their kids. While it may not be ideal, I imagine that those kids are probably not as traumatized by such treatment as kids in our society would be simply because they see it as normative. Another example would be that in many cultures, the expectation that romance, falling in love, and sexual passion will lead up to and be present in marriage simply does not exist. Marriages are like business partnerships, formed for financial security and to create a stable environment in which to raise children. And frankly, there are days when our marriage feels slightly like this: both of us handling one crisis or another, brushing teeth and mopping spills and pasting on diaper cream, then finally collapsing in the living room and completing the obligatory performance review to see how we might improve the system the next day.

But I guess it's the littler, less significant aspects of my life that I wonder about the most. Is it normal that Jim and I rarely go to bed at the same time because once in bed, no matter how tired we previously were, one or the other of us will inevitably not be able to shut up? Is it normal that Addy wants to wear her Tinkerbell costume over her regular clothes every single day- and is it okay that I allow this? Is it weird that I have such frequent dreams about being in high school? Does this happen to other people? Is it bad that when grocery shopping, I often choose kids' snacks based solely on whether or not they look like they'll be messy?

And lastly, and most importantly, is it abnormal that I really do not like Thanksgiving food very much? Especially the yams with marshmallows... And the JELLO SALADS! So... Many... Jello salads!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Humble Pie

I am not by nature a quick tempered or confrontational person. Like, even when I've had a glass or three of red wine, the most that happens is that I'll tell you loudly and with a great deal of animation how much I love you and how gorgeous your hair looks tonight! I really don't get a thrill from telling people off, or from any kind of DRAMA.

But last night, as Jim and I pulled in the driveway from a night of Christmas shopping for the kids, our neighbor stood waiting at the edge of our lawn to inquire primly if that "was your dog running around without a leash the other day." And man, I got immediately defensive and angry. This is the woman whose dog attacked ours the first time I attempted to take both the kids and Fonzie on a walk, just a few weeks after Eli was born. I was wearing Eli in a sling, and Addy had been strapped in the stroller, screaming in terror as I tried to drag the dog off Fonzie's neck while still protecting my newborn son. I yelled for help, but it took a few minutes before our neighbor, the woman's husband, sauntered out of his house to call his dog off. He seemed barely apologetic, just saying, "Huh, guess we need to keep these two apart, huh?" At the time, I was too shaken up to say much, but I was absolutely furious. His dog had run at mine- mine was leashed- and latched onto his neck, just inches from my two year old daughter. I have rarely felt so frightened and vulnerable. And unable to coherently express myself.

But boy, I found my words last night, and I quickly turned what should have been a short reminder to keep my dog in my yard into a tongue lashing about how this lady had some nerve, lecturing me about my dog escaping our yard when hers had been just lounging around in their front yard, unattended, when he obviously wasn't able to handle being around other dogs. She got very huffy, informed me that SHE never allowed such a thing and that perhaps her husband had forgotten to chain their dog, and then stormed down the driveway, yelling that there was no need to have gotten nasty.

I went inside, shaking and with a huge case of the nervous tummy. While I felt that I had a legitimate point, it was also true that a, our dog undeniably had been running around the neighborhood that morning, having escaped my eye, and b, the incident in question happened over a year ago, and it was an incident that this woman had had no personal part in. I felt terrible that I had ended the situation is such a way- I just can't stand to have people upset with me unless it's absolutely unavoidable.

I almost went back to her house, which is about four doors down, and tried to make amends. But I decided she might still be upset and not in a making peace frame of mind. So I wrote a note, not overly apologetic, but admitting that I was in the wrong for letting my dog get out and for bringing up such an old situation, and one that didn't directly involve her. I left it in her mailbox this morning, hoping for the best.

Well, I got a call from her this evening, and this lady was just pleased as PUNCH about the note. No kidding. She went on and on about how sincere and heartfelt it was, and how miserable she had been about our exchange until she found the note in her mailbox. She said, and I quote, "I really hope things can be just friendly and... And peachy between us from now on."

So, there you go, kids. Go forth and make peace. Even when it's a bitter pill to choke down. That phone call felt good.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Season's Greetings

It is snowing for the first time here. I mean, heavy, pelting, sticking to the ground snow. I am so! excited! It looks like a holiday card out there. We are celebrating by eating doughnuts and watching Clark Griswold and family making merry. Nothing like the classics.

Also, I went Christmas shopping this morning for the first time this season. I needed to buy gifts for a holiday get together that is happening NEXT SUNDAY. And now I need to buy WRAPPING PAPER. Is it, like, Christmas time already? What is going ON? Next thing you know I'll be dragging out the tree, and wondering where on earth I'm going to put all the gorgeous Christmas decorations I just had to have from last year's after Christmas sale at Target.

Anyways, it's been awhile since I took a poll, hasn't it? I sense your impatience for another one, my dears, so here we go: When do YOU put up holiday decorations? And what is your family's favorite holiday movie? (My answers, for the record, would be: the day after Thanksgiving, and A Christmas Story. Also, I'm not sure if this counts as a holiday movie, per se, but I always watch Love Actually at Christmastime too.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Breaking My Rules By Making Some Rules

I am not, as a general rule, a big fan of strict schedules for kids. Or for myself, come to that. What I have had to admit in recent weeks, though, is that while schedule may not be a necessity for little ones, having a routine is enormously helpful. In terms of sleep, the last few weeks have been shockingly different to the previous months and years, thanks mainly to our reluctant instituting of a bedtime schedule. Which means both the kids are in bed by eight thirty, or very close to. Which means I can get a few hours of peace and still be in bed by eleven, as opposed to twelve or one, like before. Which means we all wake up around seven, when we're supposed to. And also that I wake up feeling reasonably okay, and not like I want to sob with exhaustion.

A month ago, bedtime was killing me, and not so softly, either. I would stagger into the den at ten or eleven, having finally succeeded in settling one or the other of the kids down for the final time, and fall onto the couch thinking, "Another baby would kill me dead. We simply have no more room for chaos- full capacity has been reached." After one particularly bad night when I was in tears of exhaustion and frustration, we decided we had to do something differently, so we put together a much more detailed bedtime routine than had previously been in place.

Before, the only set events which took place were brushing Addy's teeth, saying prayers and singing her a song. But it happened kind of whenever she seemed sleepy, which was usually not until nine or even ten. Eli was the same- we'd respond to his sleepy cues, rather than just arbitrarily saying it was bedtime. I still think this is, generally speaking, not a wholly stupid plan, and that it works for some kids. It worked for Adelay when she was a baby just fine. And really, it's still kind of what we're doing- we just had to force them to start getting sleepy earlier, and around the same time each day. It wasn't working for them to stay up so late, because we inevitably ended up staying awake later ourselves to try to get in a few hours of grown up time. This made Jim exhausted (and late for work) and me sluggish and miserable until about noon the next day.

So, we drew up battle plans, essentially, deciding that around seven o' clock, the bedtime routine would commence. We assigned ourselves battle stations (feeding Eli his nightly oatmeal, brushing Addy's teeth, getting out pajamas, etc.) that we should be manning simultaneously so that each child was ready to be tucked in by eight pm. We've been following the plan for about two weeks now, and while we are sometimes off by up to a half hour, in general we are adhering pretty faithfully to the rules. And it... It works. The kids are getting reliably sleepy, exhibiting their cues of glazed over eyes, yawning and thumb sucking, by about seven forty five each night. They are going to bed and staying there, without Eli's usual ruckus and protests and jumping and screaming and having to be settled down multiple times.

I suppose it's probably too early to call it, and one must also factor in the fact that they've been kind of sick-ish and run down lately with colds/allergies, and so may just be more sleepy and compliant in general, but... I think I may just be in love with our new schedule. Who knew?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Increasing My Carbon Footprint One Diaper At A Time

I am making another halfhearted go at pushing the potty training thing. As I type, (having been up for two hours already on a SUNDAY, what the heck) Adelay is dancing around bare bottomed to her Angelina Ballerina movie, her potty chair abandoned behind her. At the moment, her brother seems more interested in it than she does, though his designs for the potty have more to do with licking and less with peeing. Lord, but parenting is disgusting.

Ah, and now she's just gone to her room to fetch a clean diaper, informing me that she is done sitting on the potty. "Have you gone pee?" I ask hopefully, jumping up like a fireman to a bell. But no. As always. Two sticker charts, bags of pink M and M's, and multiple packs of Disney Princess and My Little Pony panties later, our successes on the potty could still be counted on two hands.

And... Eli is hunched over the potty chair, up to his elbows in the actual POT part now. He looks like a small, portly plumber. His little sleeper sleeves are rolled up, even. Off I go again to put a stop to it.

And I'm back. I must remember to corner and hiss at whoever suggested dragging that stupid potty all over the house with us.

Someone tell me about the worst potty training stories you can think of. Children going to sleep-away camp with Pull Ups in their duffels, that sort of thing. Cheer me up.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Overthink

So I kept hearing about all the LINES and the WAITING for voting this year, and I was determined to go, but equally determined not to take the kids with me. They are not old enough to appreciate the process, only old enough to whine incessantly and be miserable when forced to stand in line for more than two minutes. So. I convinced Jim to work from home today, got up a little early, got the kids all dressed and fed and changed and played with, and had Eli down for a morning nap by NINE AM. Nice. Then I got Addy busy with her paints, grabbed my purse, double checked my stance on a few issues, and dashed out the door.

Our precinct's voting center is the high school that is literally about two blocks away from us. But I was still feeling anxious, thinking LINES. Instead, when I got there, I had to wait behind literally one person, and was then immediately ushered through the speedy process of having about six rather old people find my name in their books, squint at my driver's license, copy down my first name as KAREN instead of Sarah (how?..wha?) and then discuss how they went to high school with a kid who had my very same last name and do I know good old Joseph so and so?

But that aside, whoa, the voting process was speedy quick and painless for me. I'm proud that I planned for any and all disaster, but yeah... I probably could have saved those plan-ahead skills for times like, say, when Eli had a poo blowout at the Y the other day and I realized my diaper bag was fresh out of wipes.

How about you? Everyone out voting with kids in tow, or did you have a contingency plan?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Here's To Autumn Sunshine



Good morning, my lovies. I had fun playing in the leaves with you today.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Think I've Written This Post Before, But...

Today's exciting topic is spacing of children. This is something that frequently keeps me up nights. Say it's three am or so, and I'll have just settled Eli back in his crib, or given up and settled him into his favorite spot, draped across my neck in our bed, and it will occur to me that it would be awfully hard to be doing this WHILE being pregnant.

I think Addy was just a few weeks older than Eli is now when I got pregnant with him, so this would be roughly the time to try again if we wanted to aim for identical spacing patterns. But she was such a good sleeper that issues of bringing her into my bed at three in the morning maybe cropped up once a month, rather than once or twice (or every single night) a week like with Eli. And also there was just ONE of her. One of her, who napped reliably at least once a day and was kind of on the quiet, well-behaved side. (This is no longer the case, but darn it was luxurious while it lasted. Now it's all three-going-on-thirteen, hands on hips, ordering Mommy to the time out chair. While still refusing to go near the big girl potty. Yee-haw!)

I think about and waffle on this subject every. single. day. Part of me still really, really wants a big family, and wants kids approximately two years apart so they're close enough to be playmates and friends. Another part of me wants to perform my own lobotomy if I hear that familiar, swiftly escalating cacophony of tandem whining and screaming one more time. It's like some twisted, nursery school take on the dueling pianos concept so popular at dive bars.

Also, it amazes and frightens me how quickly I can go from thinking, "Look at the two little honeys! I must make MORE of them, right now!" to "Let's BOTH have sterilization procedures just to make sure, okay?" Surely such wildly shifting emotions cannot be trusted? I should probably put any decision making on hold until I can at least make it through a full day of feeling one way or the other.

Or... Does that day never come?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Buckle Up! So! Much! Randomness!

1. My kids LOVE the movie Madagascar. They both start bopping their booties as soon as the "Move It" music begins. I mean, they really get into it. They drop it like it's hot. This is also one of the kid movies that doesn't cause me to flee the room within five minutes. TWO THUMBS UP. I cannot wait till the sequel comes out. (Here's a picture of them watching the new "Move It" music video on Jim's laptop. That is some intense concentration right there.)



2. I am really regretting buying Halloween candy early. I think I'm going to have to buy more to replenish our stash before trick or treat night. There are crumpled Reese's wrappers all over this desk even as I type.

3. At least I am working out again. I'm not supposed to weight lift until my post-op appointment next week, but I've been walking, doing the bike, and even jogging the last few days. It feels so good. It hasn't yet made a dent in the five pounds I gained during the couple weeks following my hernia repair, but I'm sure it will soon. Just as soon as I put down the candy bag...

4. Last month I repainted our front hall for the third time in three years. I painted it a shade of lighter green. Before it was bold green. Not kelly green or lime green, but just... Green. Grass green, maybe. Now it is hopefully more of a sage green. Few people have even noticed the difference, but I definitely do, and I am happy I did it. But dang, was it hard getting even a hallway painted while trying to decently look after two small kids. I can't believe how I used to repaint the whole KITCHEN on a whim before I had kids. Like, "Oh sure, no problem, let's just tear this room apart this weekend!

5. I recently got side bangs. I realize I am about two years behind on this trend, but better late than never. Maybe. They really get in my eyes a lot. But I think I've noticed more sidelong glances when I'm out, so I suspect it makes me look younger. That's always good, right? Worth having to flat iron bangs every day?

6. Eli says, "Feed me or I will eat your soul!"



7. The fam in our soccer fan attire. For the record, we tried our darndest to get Addy in the photo, but the closest we got was a shot of her sliding off of my lap like a Gumby doll wearing a soccer jersey, so...



(Also, please note how my idea of babyproofing the wood stove area was to shove a loveseat in front of it. Easy peasy, and wholly effective.)

8. This is because I realized while downloading pictures that I still haven't posted photos from our zoo trip. Here's Adelay having her little mind just BLOWN by the polar bears. Or maybe it was the walruses. I kinda forget now.



And lastly, you may have noticed that this post was devoid of links in several spots where links might have been good. For some reason I could not get the linky thing to allow scripted windows, or some crap. And I am a little doped up on Benadryl and am probably missing a very obvious solution to the problem, but whatever. DEAL WITH IT, people. And a happy, happy Monday to you all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Complaining? Check. Halloween? Check. Movie Review? CHECK!

Why the heck are there suddenly fruit flies swarming my house? Is it not October? Do I not generally put food away in a timely manner? What is with the infestation? On another note, why am I actually posting this evening even though my computer is still on strike? Because I have access to Jim's computer, as he is out of town until tomorrow. So I had a wild night of grocery shopping and rice cereal spooning and multiple bathings! But it's cool. I actually went out by myself the last two evenings, sans children, so, you know, turnaround is fair play.

Last night I went to an... Odd Christian Halloween-alternative event put on by my old church/school. It's called Final Judgement, and basically, you end in a silver-tinsel bedecked vision of heaven after having journeyed through the depths of hell, complete with fog machines, cranked up heat, and screaming demons. And... And it was just so disturbing. On so many levels. The only reason I even went was curiosity, because back in jr. high I had been a cast member in this event several years running, and I was eager to experience it as an outsider looking in. Well. That was an experience I could definitely have done without. I'm so embarrassed I used to take part in it! Worse is that I genuinely believed I was doing the world some service! Gah... I'll just say this: it's no wonder so many people get turned off to Christianity in this country.

The evening prior was spent much more pleasantly, watching The Duchess with my mom after having dinner out, including wine and excluding baby food or chicken fingers. It was a great movie, I thought. I almost want to go see it again to more properly absorb it. Which means...

That's right, kids, it's time again for another installment of Desperate Housewife Movie Reviews! Today's film in question is the aforementioned historic drama, starring Keira Knightley, which I had the privilege of enjoying in a COMPLETELY EMPTY theater two nights ago. Said emptiness could, I suppose, reflect poorly on the movie itself, but I choose to believe it more reflected the fact that it was a Thursday night in a town where many people have recently cut back on their spending.

Anyhoosiers, it was awesome. So much better than The Other Boleyn Girl, which I had anticipated much more intensely. The acting was very good, I thought, and all the players well chosen. No one overdid it, really, and there was a kind of spareness and reserve to the script that left just the right amount of emotion and motive to the viewer's imagination. Well, ok, maybe not just the right amount. I could have done with a deeper look into some of the character's baffling behavior. But overall I prefer vagueness and lack of explanation to films that go to awkward pains trying to explain everything via dialogue, to the detriment of realism.

The time period (immediately following the American Revolution and on the cusp of the French Revolution) is one not often seen from a British point of view in films, so that was an automatic interest factor for me. The scenery was opulent and amazing (as is often the case when a movie is about a VERY RICH PERSON) and the costumes and hair seemed painstakingly accurate to the period. Sometimes horrifyingly so, actually- I don't know how women could even hold their heads up with such enormous and elaborate wigs on.

My only complaint would have been the camera work. My mom and I both kept noticing how WAY too many scenes ended in close ups of faces, especially the intimate ones. We're talking close up to the point that I could see the ingrown hairs and razor burn on Duke what's-his-nuts' five o clock shadow. That is something I would prefer to have glossed over, personally, but perhaps I'm too idealistic in my cinematic tastes. Maybe you will enjoy the razor burn. But either way you should see this film. Especially since it is based on an actual person's life. It's history! It's entertainment! It's a win-win!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder! It's Come Early This Year!

Hey! Sorry about the long time, no post situation. It was soccer tournament time for Jim's team last week, so we were pretty busy and driving back and forth a lot. The girls played really well, from what I could tell, and made it further in the tournament than they did last year. They are out now though, I have to admit to a small amount of relief that it is all over with save the end of year banquet. It was kind of crazy around here sometimes with all the coming and going. I am looking forward to a return to our boring nights watching TV and folding socks. Er, I MEAN, taking walks and playing games.

Is anyone else feeling incredibly sad about the passing of summer? Two months into fall, nearly, and I'm still mourning it. I usually love autumn, and I am enjoying it, but it seems so brief, an all too fleeting last hurrah before winter sets in inexorably. Today it was so chilly out, even with the sun beating down, and I got very depressed for a minute thinking about how soon, none of us will consider leaving the house without a heavy coat and probably gloves. Soon everyone will be tracking in leaves and dirty slush every time they enter the house. Sweatshirts and sweaters will be the bulk of my laundry, meaning lots of wet things hanging to dry and lots of super long dry cycles. Soon it will be even harder than ever to leave my warm cozy bed in the mornings. Soon the chill winds will be freezing my nostril hairs, and ice will make leaving the house with small children seem daunting and dangerous.

Can anyone remind me of the nice things about winter? Besides Christmas, I mean. OBVIOUSLY there's Christmas. But Christmas also entails decorating and shopping (and thinking about how much money you're spending) and post-Christmas letdown, so it's not a WHOLLY magical thing, once you're old enough to partake in the work of it.

Oh and also, HALP! A few days ago my computer got unplugged, and when plugged back in has refused to return to life. The monitor turns on, but the computer sits there like a stone, stubbornly unyielding in response to my pleas and threats. So I finally snuck onto Jim's laptop to catch up on my reading and throw you all a little something. But does anyone know what could have happened to it? And also, what is up with my Fridgidair oven? Suddenly it is on strike, as well, and only the broil will work. The baking element sits stone cold. Are all our appliances like, staging a coup or something? (Just please don't let it be the toilet next.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Breakthrough: Secret To Patience Is Drugs!

While recuperating, I have finally finished the crosstitch I started for Eli before he was even born. I also resigned myself to reality and filed away in albums a bunch of pictures that I had been optimistically stashing away to use for scrapbooking. Apparently that long-awaited moment when getting out glue and scissors and cropping tools seems like the best use of my time is never going to come.

Regarding Vicodin: I've stopped taking it every four hours at this point, but the last few afternoons I have given in around two or three o' clock and allowed myself to lie down on the couch and take a pain pill. I watch The Office (Jim got me the last season as a get well soon present!) while Eli naps and Addy plays quietly on the floor. Or sometimes even naps herself, a remarkable and timely gift courtesy of the head cold which struck down each and every one of us the day after my surgery. It's really fun to cough and blow your nose with a painful incision right in the middle of your abdomen! Wheee!

So to get around to the title, I've discovered that the meds render me a somewhat more patient and creative type of mommy. I am normally more of a "Why don't you color here at the table while Mommy unload the dishes!" type of mother, but lately I've been doing a lot more coloring WITH Addy. I also showed Addy how to form her play-doh into pretzels, but rather than doing it herself, she required me to continue showing her until the entire coffee table was covered in pastel pretzels. Which in retrospect means I probably spent about a half an hour making play-doh pretzels, but I don't remember getting antsy or impatient about it. UNUSUAL. And today, strangest of all, I actually instigated an honest to God craft project.

Fact: Addy loves helping me get the mail. So today when she finished industriously scribbling one line on about ten pieces of paper, I helped her fold them up like letters. But then, of course, she wanted to put them in the mailbox. Commence tantrum, right? WRONG! I averted a potential disaster by quickly helping her (pause for effect) FASHION A MAILBOX OUT OF A SHOEBOX. And further DECORATE it with construction paper, stamps, and pictures of My Little Ponies, Dora the Explorer, Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake which I SKILLFULLY CUT OFF OF HER LEFTOVER BIRTHDAY CARDS. I may photograph it later; I am that proud of this little project. I was very possibly more excited to show it to Jim than Addy was.

*On an unrelated note: I had a good moment today at CVS which led me to believe I am pretty much over my depressed phase. I was walking in with Addy to get diapers and milk when a woman walked out carrying a newborn little boy, snuggled sweetly in his carrier and pretty much looking like an advertisement for baby-having. And you know what my first thought was? Boy, I'm glad I don't have to haul my kids around in one of those thigh-bruising contraptions anymore! Then I squeezed Adelay's hand and continued on. Progress, no?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Am Sickly And Pathetic! Again!

So, um, did I mention that I was having a hernia repaired this morning? No? Well, I did, and hoo boy am I feeling it now, Vicodin notwithstanding. I am also enjoying the sort of fakey-tan orange shade of my stomach, thanks to all that sterilizing stuff they rub all over you before cutting.

The official name of my affliction is "incarcerated umbilical hernia," which is Doctor for "a hernia right underneath the spot where your belly button pops out during pregnancy." This is my second hernia repair, and I'm beginning to sense a pattern of medical procedures in my life (two pregnancies, two miscarriages, two hernias... Hope this doesn't mean a second knee surgery is coming! Har har! Just kidding! But also knocking violently on wood.)

Here's my question: Does anybody else HATE having IV's put in? Like, hate it even worse than the idea of being put under and having someone cut around in your abdomen? I am SUCH a baby about it. To be fair, every nurse has always told me I have small veins, so it is consistently difficult to get the Giant Surgical Needle into my hand. But still...

I've had approximately ten procedures requiring IV's in my lifetime (Jim and I counted up just for funsies while waiting this morning.) So you'd think it wouldn't cause me to cringe in terror anymore. And yet... This morning was particularly noteworthy, as my tiny vein sent blood spurting all over the crisp white hospital sheets before the needle was finally in place. Every time I looked over at the stains, I felt myself growing woozy and faint, somewhat in the manner of a delicate Southern belle wearing a tightly laced corset. And looking at her own blood stains.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Birthdays, Rapid Fire



Eli. Handled his first cake with admirable aplomb.




Sarah. Overly jolly following a glass of white wine and the unwrapping of the third season of The Office. Please note that recent weight loss has done nothing for the inevitable Photo Shot Double Chin.




Addy. In awe of the birthday booty she has raked in (including dangled socks.) Also, apparently wearing at least three tulle skirts.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Birthday Girl




Happy Birthday, big girl. Three years ago, I remember walking circles around the house, wondering if this was "it." Indeed it was, and you were born the next morning at eight sixteen, a delicate, blue eyed beauty. One of our visitors, holding you adoringly the evening after you were born, described you as a rosebud. I thought this was a perfect word for your newborn self. And for your three year old self, too. Throughout the day you are a wild child, run run running everywhere, constantly moving to the next activity, a whirlwind of energy and fun. But if you could only see your sleeping self! It is the very same porcelain skin, the full, pursed lips, the fan of thick lashes. I still see my rosebud baby. (Thankfully, however, I no longer see that plaid couch! Ahem.)


For Your Amusement

I heart The Office. My favorite line of all time is, "He's always up in my bidness. Which is ebonics for being in my face and annoying the bejesus out of me." A close second is, "I would rather work for an upturned broom with a bucket for a head than work for anyone else in this office besides myself." And third is, "Sometimes the clothes at GAP Kids are just too flashy so I'm forced to go to the American Girl Store and order clothes for large, colonial dolls."

A fabulous prize will go to the person who can tell me who said what! Like... Three glorious Dwight Schrute magnets and an Office post-it pad! Or maybe you'll just win the satisfaction of being such a cool person!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Coming Around

The thing about miscarrying that is hurting me the most is that it wasn't really a biological fluke, per se, but that there is something medically wrong with me which has most likely caused my miscarriages, and which causes my preterm labor (a luteal phase defect, and then, if I don't miscarry, subsequent low progesterone levels throughout pregnancy.)

Having children has been something I've dreamed about forever, and I just always assumed that it would be smooth sailing. I mean, look at these childbearing hips! Observe this maternal instinct! You should have seen all the baby dolls I nurtured! The bratty kids I babysat! The staggering number of A Baby Story episodes I have watched! I appear MADE to have babies, right?! Basically my mind is stomping its foot in fury- my body has betrayed me, and it's not FAIR! It shouldn't have to be HARD for me! I fluctuate between grief and a kind of petulance.

Friday night, though, I finally got a chance to talk to a friend of mine about my current state of mind. I knew she has had three miscarriages, and might understand. Talking with her helped me enormously, and she gave me very wise counsel for dealing with my emotions. It was incredibly PAINFUL counsel (that I allow myself to grieve for a baby, for the baby girl I had been certain it was even before I got a positive pregnancy test. I had forced this idea from my mind so far, wanting only to think of it only as a failed pregnancy and nothing more. But letting myself feel it has actually helped enormously. I now remember that it was the same last time. It was only the night when I first addressed the baby I had lost that I was able to release some of the disappointment.)

So in conclusion, I think I am maybe starting to round the bend of this thing. I'm not ready to face another pregnancy yet (especially since Eli's bedtime routine now consists of screaming his fool head off for a good hour) but I am able to enjoy my children fully, without constantly seeing in their faces what another baby might have looked like. I am able to receive birth announcements and feel sincere joy for them, and only afterwards a twinge of sadness for what I lost. I am able to deal with the idea that I WILL need some assistance next time in order to carry to term, and that this is just another bodily weakness, to which we are all randomly subjected, and that it does not speak to my ability as a mother.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Coping

You may have noticed that my last few posts have been more like paragraphs. I've just been feeling a little blah, a little down. Also, a little sick, still, and therefore a bit out of it (thank you, NyQuil!) I have more days lately where I don't get sad, thanks in large part, I think, to the fact that I've been exercising again. But my emotional coping threshold is much lower than usual. I can be perfectly happy and then a tiny slight, the wrong tone of voice, or an unusually cranky child can put me completely over the edge. There have been a few nights where I had to abandon one of the kids' baths or feedings to Jim and go outside to breathe in the cool night air just to keep from exploding.

I think doctors should really warn you that postpartum depression is just as likely after a miscarriage as after birth. They never say anything like, "You might feel randomly sad for quite a while afterwards, so don't be surprised if you leak tears all the time about stupid stuff." At least, mine never have. They're just always on you about what method of birth control you're using, when you want to try again, and whether you've had that all-important Pap test recently.

No medical professional has ever asked me, "Do pregnant women make you stare and then have to choke down a bitter lump in your throat?" or "Do you frequently get out your children's birth stories and newborn pictures and obsess over them, desperate to relive the feelings of pregnancy and birth just in case you never experience them again?" And I guess that's not really their job. They are there to assess physical health. But it seems a little sensitivity might be in order.

You're already in a somewhat undignified position, laying on your back with your knees in the air. After FOUR pregnancies, I've gotten over feeling actual, physical pangs of discomfort about this part, but mentally it still feels vulnerable. And even when that's over, you're clutching a tiny robe around you, trying to reclaim a bit of modesty while you finish answering their questions.

So couldn't just ONE of those questions be about my mental or emotional state? Maybe "Are you handling your feelings okay?" Just something, so that I might feel less like a faceless breeding machine brought in for routine maintenance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Currently...

...Drinking wine at three in the afternoon while grimly ironing about two thousand yards of heavily wrinkled, one hundred percent cotton curtains, washed in a fit of smug housewifely virtue. Do not recommend. From now on, dusty curtains get shaken out. If that.

Man. I forgot how much I hate ironing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blech

Guess what I asked for (and received) for my birthday? A gym membership. Which includes free, on site babysitting. A win win, no? If I weren't feeling so CRAPPY still. I went today, and, as an inexperienced newbie who hasn't even had her initial Nautilus orientation training (wha? There IS such a thing?) I stuck with fifteen minutes on a bike and fifteen minutes of brisk walking on the track. We're talking mild, Silver Sneakers-type exercise here. And I am so shaky and exhausted and in pain now! I'm either hopelessly out of shape again already or I am still too sick and pathetic to be jumping back into exercise. In which case, I should probably not have paid for this month's membership...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Etiquette

It is birthday season in our family. It is kicked off in August, when my sister has hers, then my nephew has his, followed shortly by Eli's. Then comes my BIL's, then mine and my MIL's (we share the date) and then Adelay's followed shortly by my SIL. Before my grandpa passed away, his was sandwiched in between my BIL's and mine and MIL's. All of this leads to lots of fun, of course, but LOTS of parties and food and gifts.

So... I have a question regarding the gift part of this. Do you send thank you notes, like real, live licked-and-stamped thank you notes? Do you send them just for random, above and beyond acts of niceness, or for ANY gift received by any of your family members, even if it is Christmas and each family member received about a gazillion apiece?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Birthday Reflection

Today I am a woman. Well, twenty four years old, anyway. I have a husband, two children, a house, a dog, a minivan, and I own at least two pairs of mom jeans. I have chronically dry hands from doing dishes and antibacterial-izing after diaper changes.

But on the other hand, I still only iron about once a year. I watch The Office. I just bought a Further Seems Forever cd. I secretly think it's funny when my daughter turns into a sassy pants. I text. I sometimes skip meals and just eat giant desserts. AND.... I officially weigh the same as I did when we got married (this announcement brought to you by Weird Presumably Non Fatal Illness which is still lingering on a bit.)

So, on the whole I am a balanced person, yes?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Need A "Frequent Weird Health Problems" Punch Card

Throw me a frickin' bone here, mother nature. Two weeks following my miscarriage, I now apparently have either a sinus infection, mono, or West Nile fever. My symptoms are presenting much more like the latter two (extreme neck pain and stiffness, headache/dizziness, body aches, low grade fever, nausea, fatigue,) but when I finally drug myself to the doctor today, she said that I also have lots of fluid behind my ears, which could explain the dizziness, and that my sinus tissues are really inflamed. Also, apparently there is "drainage" going on in my throat, which could explain the nausea. She then pointed out how puffy my eye area was, and was appropriately embarassed when I informed her that my eyes ALWAYS look like that, thanks very much. Note to self: start being a little more religious with the Lancome night cream.

So I have a prescription for amoxocillin in the hopes that its a sinus infection here, but if I don't feel better by Monday I have to go get blood work done to test for mono.

The only silver lining in all this (besides the five pounds I've dropped) is that I had a bunch of Vicodin left over from the surgery, and it has been saving my life the last few days. My neck ache is so intense that ibuprofin wears off after about an hour, whereas the Vicodin sticks with me for at least three or four. The downside, of course, is that I feel like a sleepy, drugged up zombie most of the time, that the drug intensifies my nausea, and that I can't drive anywhere if I take it. But still. The pain relief is worth it. And yes, I admitted to the doctor that I've been taking it, and she said it was fine. Which is a relief, as I was beginning to feel slightly worried that I was turning into one of those suburban moms hooked on pain killers and vodka tonics.

I have to say, I really like the practice we go to for general health care stuff. All the doctors are so nice and down to earth, and very honest, though sometimes depressingly so (example: the doctor today said that it could very well be West Nile fever, as it has been found in our area recently, but that if it is, there is literally nothing they could do for me short of hospitalization. But she did pat my knee sympathetically as she said it.) Also, Addy loves it there, what with the (no doubt germ covered) play area and the fascinating digital scale and the jar full of dum-dums. She pranced around me today while I waited on the exam table, explaining excitedly, "It's YOUR turn at the doctor, Mommy, ok? Today it's YOUR turn, right? It's MOMMY'S turn!"

Indeed. I think it's been Mommy's turn in the doctor's office way too often lately. LET ME OUT!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Twinges

Standing in the baby aisle at the grocery store choosing new sippee cups next to a very pregnant woman. She is discussing with the woman next to her how soon she is due and how excited she is and how HUGE she is, etc. I abandon the sippee cup train of thought and leave, unable to listen to more, and unable to stay WITHOUT listening a little too intently.

Passing a pro-life billboard with a picture of a baby and the caption, "Eighteen days from conception, my heart was beating." Doing mental math to figure out that if the pregnancy stopped developing at five weeks, which means the BABY was actually three weeks old, and three weeks is twenty-one days, then... Sinking feeling.

Running into someone who had heard that I was pregnant, and having to tell her I am not any more. Hearing her first words: "Oh... Are you so relieved?" Feeling the heat rush into my face, unsure if it is from anger or shame.

Seeing Eli standing at the table, running his cars back and forth and looking so much like a toddler and so little like a baby. Trying to figure out how long it might feasibly be before there will be a tiny baby around here again. Trying to figure out how long it will be until I will feel ready to wish for that scenario.

Thinking about the step by step process of trying again. This time there will be medical supervision and hormone supplements, and probably Clomid as well, to correct my luteal phase and boost my progesterone. It seemed to work with Eli, after the first miscarriage, so why mess with success? Then there will be more supplements, and if those work, weekly shots until the baby is born to hopefully prevent preterm labor. All of this leads to the depressing and admittedly self-pitying conclusion that I am not nearly as good at having babies as I once assumed I would be. The actual birth seems to be the only thing I can successfully handle on my own.

I KNOW how lucky I am. I have two healthy kids. This is all anyone could reasonably wish for, and I know wanting more kids, more luck, is almost greedy. There are people who have NEVER carried a baby to term. Any sadness I feel, any sense of failure or anger I may have towards my body for not doing its job pales in comparison to the pain of unresolved infertility, and I am aware of that. But I can't feel that. All I can feel is this.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My Baby

Dear Eli,

Today you took five steps in a row before bending neatly at the waist and returning to your signature bear crawl. You looked at me nonchalantly when I squealed your name, then went back to playing. It's no big thing, Mom, was the general sense I got from you.

You also ate grapes for the first time today, cut painstakingly into fourths with the plastic McDonalds fork which was given to me along with my fruit and walnut salad. You scarfed them down, exhibiting a more deft pincer grasp than I remembered you having the last time I checked.

You are growing up in leaps and bounds, little man. Thank goodness your babyhood still pokes its head out every now and then. Like today, when you fell asleep in your carseat on the way to the grocery store. I was loathe to wake you from one your increasingly infrequent naps, so I carried you carefully into the store, then toted your drooling self around on my shoulder until I got to the baby aisle, where I padded the child seat of the cart with soft receiving blankets and tucked you in. You looked like a kind of Baby Jesus, nestled snugly in your modern day manger, your cheeks flushed with sleep and your thumb hanging loosely from your pursed lips.

I hope you know that a part of me will always see you this way, even if you get bigger and smarter than me (and I hope you do.) I will always remember the way your face looks, crinkled with glee as I tickle your cheeks with my hair. I will always remember the smell of your head. I'll remember, no doubt with longing, the way I sometimes hold you close when I'm feeling sad, just for the reassuring pleasure of inhaling that achingly sweet scent.

Monday, September 01, 2008

From Canada With Love

Eli's birthday party was a huge success- I didn't forget anything vital, and the birthday boy took all his naps and was therefore cheerful and smiling all day long. Also, almost everyone I invited showed up, and I just felt so surrounded by love.

You know, one of the things I always wished for growing up was a bigger extended family, with plenty of aunts and cousins and just PEOPLE to go around. My mom was an only child, though, and my dad had just one sister, so there wasn't too much in the way of giant family get togethers. As a result, our immediate family is very close, which is of course lucky enough right there, but I am so grateful that in marrying Jim, I also got the big Walton family thing that I always wanted, too. I know all of you out there who have icky in-laws and strained relationships want to slap me right now, but there is honestly not a single person in either of our families that I don't genuinely like. I am not unaware of the incredible luckiness of this.

Ok, enough sentiment. Shake it off, people! And now on to pictures- but not birthday pictures, because I still haven't found the cord to download them. What I CAN offer you is pictures of last weekend, in Canada, which MIL emailed me from her Treo. Why were they on her Treo? Because all FOUR adults managed to forget their cameras. One of the drawbacks of truly impromptu getaways is forgetting to pack certain important items.


The first two days were gorgeous, sunny and warm. Keep in mind that all of this is private beach area, which my MIL and her siblings have been playing on since THEY were little kids. They know pretty much everyone else who has cottages on this stretch of beach, so there are no obnoxious strangers ruining your day. Everyone knows each other from way back. Also, lots of people bring their dogs, and watching them swim is so fun. I wished I could have taken Fonzie along.



From L to R: my MIL, Addy (who these days does not enjoy posing for the camera,) my SIL, Aunt Nancy, and of course, me, the bra-less wonder.



This is one of the only pictures of me with a good smile. Not coincidentally, I am filling my plate.




Long days in the sun are apparently the trick to getting Adelay to nap again.



I love this one. Addy with her cousin Rachel.



Collecting shells.




This was honestly one of the best weekends I've ever had. It was truly relaxing in every sense, without the usual chaos and expense of normal vacations. It was utterly peaceful and beautiful. Being beside the lake the last morning, watching the whitecaps roll endlessly up and down, made me feel so small but so very peaceful.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Are You There, Percocet? It's Me, Sarah.

All went well with the d and c. We even got into the operating room ahead of schedule, by some miracle, and the most (physically) uncomfortable part of the whole ordeal was the IV placement and blood taking. In the end I opted for heavy sedation rather than general anesthesia, thanks in no small part to my pre-op nurse, who, upon hearing my offhand comment that I was feeling a little tense, replied, "Well, sure! I would be too, if they were going to put me under! I mean, when you're a nurse, when you know the things we know..." And then she SHOOK HER HEAD GRIMLY! Way to instill confidence in the medical process, Nurse Ratchet.

Let me just say, though, that was SOME heavy sedation. I remember absolutely nothing beyond my questioning the nurse, "Is that stuff in the IV going in already? I feel a little weird..." The next thing I knew I was back in my room, and abruptly began sobbing when I remembered what I had just woken up from. Then the nurse arrived, and I stopped crying, had some toast and Sprite, and slowly began to feel normal again.

Actually, I am now feeling remarkably cheerful, thanks to many little graces, not the least of which, I am sure, is the cocktail of pharmaceuticals currently in my veins.

Firstly, a massage gift certificate, complete with an offer for babysitting, from my perfect, thoughtful friend Jess (and completely incidentally, I have in my lifetime had THREE best friends named Jessica. I now tend to instinctively trust that someone named Jessica will be thoughtful and funny and loyal. Thoughts?)

Secondly, the fact that my house is pretty darn clean despite the flurry of the last few days. This is because my SIL and, of course, Jess, took turns babysitting my kids pretty much all day Wednesday so that I could get the pre-party scrubbing and fussing over and done with before the procedure. My mom offered to do it FOR me, but I quickly reminded her that I much prefer to do my own cleaning. Also, for me, there is no better therapy for conflicted emotions and frayed nerves than the smell of cleaning products wafting through my house.

Thirdly, my mom and MIL. Our family, I think, could not survive without them. My mom picked the kids up around ten this morning, and until about seven o' clock tonight, which is when I finally woke up and felt normal again, I could relax and trust that they were happy and cared for. They even got baths! And when I DID awake, and stumble out of my room to get hugs and kisses from my babies, there was waiting for me a perfect chicken casserole from my MIL, the kind with Velveeta, cream of mushroom, and French's onions baked to a crisp on top. This isn't always my kind of thing, but when you're feeling wobbly and pathetic, there are few things more comforting than a good casserole. Er, hotdish. Sorry, Tessie.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Resigned. Also, Drunk (Ha Ha, Just Kidding! Kind Of!)

After lots of waffling, I ended up calling the doctor's office first thing this morning and begging for another blood draw, just to reassure me that my hcg hadn't, like, leveled off or somehow gone back up or something. I knew this was a remote possibility at best, but I had to know. You can't go in for a procedure like that unless you're completely at rest in your mind, I think.

The doctor got the results rushed, and she called me this afternoon and said that my levels have slowed their descent a bit, but they're still going in the opposite direction that a healthy pregnancy would be. I said in a tiny voice, "But if they're slowing down, does that mean maybe...?" And she said, very kindly, that no, it just meant my hormones were taking their sweet time getting the message to my body to abort, and that if I let things go naturally she guessed it would be another two to four weeks before I'd lose the pregnancy on my own. She was very very kind. I just want to emphasize that. She kept saying things like, "You don't have to do anything at all yet if you're not ready."

But I think I am, now. I just want it done with, so that we can start moving on. My mind is finally coming to grips with the fact that, despite my sore breasts and my fatigue and my irritability, there is in fact no baby causing these symptoms. Just a cruel trick of nature, urging my uterus to cling to something that is no longer there.

So. I will see you on the other side, my friends. After I enjoy this rum and coke, which I've been craving for three solid weeks. (There's always a silver lining, I guess.) Thank you again for all your advise, which was very helpful. I had been planning not to get put out, just ask for a sedative, but after reading some of the comments I think I'm going with general anesthesia. I don't know if I want to be aware of the whole process, anyways, painful or not.

Well. Painful is such a relative term, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Torn

Thank you all so very much for all your comments. I didn't even know I HAD forty-some readers! I feel humbled that so many people are, in some small way, sharing and carrying my sadness with me. It helps more than you know.

And now I need some more help, this time in the form of advise. At first I was all set to have the d and c, be done with it, and move on. Today, I'm feeling less certain. I called the office back to get my EXACT numbers and see just how much my hcg had dropped. It went from 3,000-something to 2,000-something in the course of four days. The doctor said this was a drastic enough drop that she felt sure there wasn't a chance of this being a viable pregnancy. Does that sound right to you guys? Is that a pretty big drop? Because I remember with my last miscarriage my hcg had gone down to 150 before I started bleeding.

Also, even if she's right and there's definitely no chance of this pregnancy continuing, should I maybe just let nature take its course? I'm really dreading the process of miscarrying on my own, but I also don't want to go through any surgery, no matter how minor, nor do I want to be put under anesthesia unnecessarily. And, not to be mercenary, but there is also the cost of our deductible to consider.

On the other hand, I know that often (such as was the case with my last m/c) even if your body expels the pregnancy on its own, there is often tissue or blood left in your uterus and they end up having to do a d and c anyways later on. So should I just get it over with now? And how long until I feel back to normal- I don't want to be dragging around on pain pills at Eli's party, but neither do I want to be doubled over with contractions caused by a natural miscarriage.

Sigh. It's really a bunch of crap that I have to make this decision on top of the general shittiness of realizing that for two weeks my body has only been pretending to be pregnant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Empty

Sorry it's been so long. I was in Canada over the weekend, on an impromptu girls' weekend with my MIL, SIL, niece, aunt in law, and Adelay. It was really fun; we stayed in my MIl's family cottage on Lake Huron and enjoyed the secluded beach area. Then when it got dark we would have popcorn and watch girly movies until everyone crashed from the long days of playing in the water. I wished we could have stayed longer.

~~~


This morning I had an ultrasound. A gestational dating ultrasound, to be exact. I got a positive pregnancy test about two weeks ago, but since I conceived while I was breastfeeding, they wanted to check on the dates. I should have been seven weeks along today, according to my last period, but what we saw this morning was just a tiny, empty gestational sac, measuring at five weeks. Also, my hormone levels from my initial blood draw weren't where they should have been. They tried to be optimistic, to reassure us that maybe my dates were way off and that I was, in fact, just barely five weeks and it was too early to see an embryo, but I knew as soon as I heard the ultrasound tech's voice.

They did a second blood draw this morning, and called me with the results this afternoon. I was down on my knees, viciously scrubbing behind the toilet to keep my emotions at bay, as they told me that my hcg levels had dropped instead of doubled, and that it seemed I had experienced a missed miscarriage. I could schedule a D and C, or wait to see what happened. I opted for the D and C, since Eli's first birthday party is Sunday. I don't want to risk having to be in the middle of a miscarriage as I cut the cake and take pictures, you know? So I'll go in Friday, and the "products of conception" will be removed. So neat and tidy.


It could have been worse. This is my second miscarriage, but at least both times I never even saw a heartbeat, let alone an embryo. Things always seem to fail very early on. It should be somewhat less wrenching this way. A failed pregnancy, rather than a lost baby. Medically speaking, anyways. But for me, there is always the baby. Looking at the two lines on the positive test, what I see is tiny whorls of dark newborn hair, the fragile, ruddy newborn skin, the tiny bowed legs all curled in their hospital swaddling blanket. What I feel is the weight of its head cradled in my elbow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And Furthermore

I realized today, belatedly, that I left out two other, very significant milestones in our little family. Firstly, there is the fact that this very week we are in the process of purchasing a minivan- how is this upon us already?!- and there is also the absolutely wrenching conclusion that the pattern of over a week now appears no longer to be just a phase, but a fact: Addy has given up napping.

The worst of it is that I can't get her to stay quietly in her room and read books or play, either. Instead, she stands at the baby gate barring her in, shaking it pitifully and calling over and over, her voice somehow both chirpy and plaintive, "Mama, I AWAKE!" If I let this go on too long, her younger brother one wall away will soon become AWAKE as well, so the past week or so I have spent my afternoons out on the deck, playing with my not even remotely sleepy girl. And you all will understand that when I say playing, I mostly mean sitting on the bench with a book and a glass of water, half-reading and half conversing while Addy whips me up invisible ice cream and pizza and coffee in her playhouse, right?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

It has been a week for milestones in our house. I say this in a whisper, nay, I am mouthing the words, lest I offend the fates and turn my luck again, but Eli has slept through the night the past two evenings. Because he is weaned, which is a bit of a weepy and wistful milestone, as opposed to the marvel of a full night's sleep, which merits cartwheels across the bedroom when I wake up in the morning and realize it's for the FIRST time in seven hours.

I couldn't believe how easy it was (knocking frantically on all wood in knuckle range.) A few nights ago, he woke up fussing, but not full on SCREAMING as is usually the case, so I decided to just lay there and see how it panned out. He fussed a little more, a little more, and had NEARLY broken me when... It stopped. Or I fell back to sleep. Or something. He had been down to only nursing in the middle of the night at that point, but that day was the first time in his life that he went over twenty four hours without needing my breasts! So I decided to roll with it, and lo, the following two nights, he didn't even wake up once. Uncomfortable chestal region aside, I am feelin' goo-ood, my friends.

In other milestone-related news, a heart-rending hair trimming ceremony occurred this morning after Adelay's bath, when I realized her not quite three year old hair was nearly down to her butt. It was getting to be a lot to manage, and was always in her face. It's also not exactly a picnic to wash. I naturally trimmed off more than I meant to in my efforts to "even it out," but before anyone (and by anyone I mean relatives!) faults me, I would like to point out how difficult it is to neatly trim the hair of a child who does not understand the concept of holding her head straight and still. I think it looks adorable, pangs of guilt aside, and she was remarkably excited about the whole thing. She even pranced around the house with her little baggie of baby curls, which I marked as "Addy's First Trim!" and later tucked weepily into her keepsake box.

I'd love to post photographic evidence (and I'd also like to show you pictures from the zoo) but I cannot find the proper cord in the refuse pile that is this desk, so it will have to wait. When dry though, her hair is about to her shoulders now, and kind of flips and curls out. It also looks darn cute in some pigtails, where before it had been getting a little long and straggly (think less corkscrew curls and more frizzy streamers.)

And now for something entirely unrelated but at LEAST as important, I have discovered a method of eating copious amounts of brownie batter without that icky knowledge that you are ingesting quite a bit of raw egg! I've been mixing all the ingredients EXCEPT the eggs first, then spooning out a portion for non baking enjoyment, then proceeding to add the eggs to the remainder. The part left out will be a little bit grainier in texture than regular batter, but fluff in a little coconut and it goes down pretty easy...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Long Distance

So I was watching some of the Olympic races last night, and it occurred to me that Jim and I, as co parents, are a lot like a sprinter and a marathon runner. Sprinters explode with energy, giving a hundred percent every second that they're on the track, and keep an amazing pace. Marathon runners, on the other hand, must pace themselves. They ration their energy, deciding when to speed up and when to hang back, conserving strength for when they will need it most.

Which parent are you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Birthing, Oh My!

Huh, I am really being a slacker lately about posting. What can I say... Summer. For the first time I can remember, it is August and I am still not sick of the season. This is a real breakthrough, as I am usually someone who is holed up in the AC pining for crisp autumn air and the advent of sweater season by about July fourth. But this summer hasn't felt unbearably humid, nor have I had to drag around a thirty pound belly following knee surgery as was the case last summer. I've really been having a lot of fun doing the occasional outdoor activity! Go me.

Yesterday, I even took the kids to the zoo for the first time. Well, with my mom and my sister. I wouldn't brave it alone under any circumstances, let's be clear, but with adults outnumbering kids, it wasn't bad at all. Eli was a little fussy, as he's coming off of a high fever last weekend (he has roseola) so we spent a lot of time passing around his twenty one pound bulk between us while pushing an empty stroller. But other than that, they were both amazingly well behaved, and Addy made all the appropriate facial expressions and gestures (jaw dropped in awe! wild pointing!) of a toddler witnessing Nature for the first time. It was gratifying enough to make up for eating overpriced faux nacho cheese product at the zoo cafe for dinner.

Earlier this week, I finally got to watch The Business of Being Born, that documentary Ricki Lake produced about birth and obstetric care in the U.S. It was really interesting, and even though I wasn't fully convinced that a home birth is the way to go, at least for me, it still definitely confirmed in my mind that the basic system of care in place for pregnant women and their babies in this country is totally backwards- it's much more DOCTOR oriented than it is WOMAN oriented, and far too many decisions are made for reasons of legal liability and simple convenience rather than what's truly in the baby and mom's best interest. I don't know what the answer is in every case, but I do know that as women we really have to be proactive about making sure we do our research, look into all options, and really take responsibility and ownership of our own birthing experiences. I would really recommend watching this film if you get a chance; it'll definitely make you think.

And in another paragraph completely absent of a decent segue attempt, I think we are going with a loose "jungle animal" theme for Eli's birthday party. It seems to fit his personality better than any of the other ideas, for, despite his angelic smiles in the portraits of the previous post, he can honestly resemble a wild baby animal sometimes (think screaming howler monkeys.)

Also, I am going to pick up Eli's pictures today, and I still haven't decided which poses I want to get. I think I may just go with the three I had chosen originally ( # 4 and 6, and also another one I forgot to post) and then see what they offer me as a "last minute deal!" You know how they always print up a couple extra of what the photographer thought were cute poses and offer you the whole bunch for an extra twenty bucks or whatever? I'm thinking whatever it is, I'll probably say, "Sure, throw 'em in there!" But I do want to make sure I get one of pose number seven. At first I loved it, but then I thought maybe it was a little... Big or something. Too in your face, and kind of a weird angle. But then I saw it again and was all, "But look at his EYES!" And you all seemed to favor that one, so I'm going back to my initial instinct. If that's not in the last minute batch, I'll just bite the bullet and order it.