Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Wonderful End to the Old Year

It is supposed to start raining any minute. Which is wonderful news because it means my pyromaniac neighbors will have to stop shooting fireworks soon. Right?

Happy New Year. Wishing you all the best.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Year in Review

I'm imitating Suz at WithintheWoods and recapping the year by reposting the first line of the first post of each month. Never mind that I took a break in June. . .

Peace, prosperity and happiness to you.

I know you read this.

Life goes on.

Today we had the big ultrasound.

I haven’t been writing too much lately, and we have my students to thank for it.

A quick recap of the last several weeks:

Ouch. I know you probably feel cramped in there, but I think you may have cracked one of my ribs tonight.

My less-than-one-percent-chance-of-conception baby has arrived.

I promised a birth story, so here goes.

Ah. The publisher will be here Friday.

Every once in a while, a news story will grip me and I will become preoccupied with it.

That was rather enjoyable! I suppose it is time to make some resolutions.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


That's my age in a few hours. Yesterday, my twenty something beer-truck-driving brother told me he can't believe I am almost over-the-hill. I told him that I can't believe he is still draftable and that given the way this Iraq thing is going . . . Then he gave me a countdown calendar for the days Bush remains in office and all was forgiven.

I usually recap the year in anticipation of my birthday. I like to take stock, you know? I checked out my post from last year and was pleasantly surprised to see that most of my wishes for this year came true. It has been a most excellent year.

Let's review shall we?

That this pregnancy is healthy. YES!
That Baby E thrives despite the problems we have had with childcare. YES!
That Baby E gets a spot at a good center by May. IT HAPPENED IN JUNE!
That I summon the strength and discipline to finish the text. NO. SEE MY LIST FOR THIS YEAR.
That I succeed in getting family leave and sabbatical next year. YES! THE PROVOST JUST REALIZED WHAT I GOT AWAY WITH!
That I be a good mother to my daughter and a good wife to my husband. I HOPE SO
That there are fewer natural disasters to fret over. YES
That I remember others have it much worse. I TRIED
That I keep writing in this space for therapy. YES
That fewer hairs show up on my chin. SIGH
That Karl Rove is indicted and Cheney is forced to resign. NOT QUITE, BUT CHENEY'S SHOOTING A HUNTER WAS PRETTY GREAT!
That Dems take over in midterm elections. YES! OMG! YES!
That there is peace. SIGH

I'm typing with one-hand and holding/nursing the baby with the other so I'll keep this year's wishes modest.

That I find the will to finish the text.
That the publisher is nicer.
That my daughters are healthy.
That daycare is more traumatic for me than for Baby M.
That E figures out the potty training thing.
That J and I have time to reconnect.
That I can breastfeed M until she is one or until I feel good about stopping.
That I lose the baby weight.
Peace on Earth.
That I become better organized.
That I keep writing in this space for therapy.
That fewer hairs show up on my chin.
That I give more to worthwhile causes and charities.

Merry Christmas. Wishing you a joyous holiday.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not Feeling the Christmas Magic

I have a head cold, my baby has an ear infection, and the two-year-old doesn't give a damn that Santa is gravely concerned that she is resisting bedtime. This will have to be short.

Still, in anticipation of spending the 23rd with my family, I feel the need to share a short Christmas story. One that pretty well captures the Christmases of my youth and may explain why I dread our holiday visit. My family, you see, is BSC.*

The year was 1988. I was returning home for the holidays after my exams. After a long drive north from Tallahassee, I stumbled into the front door of the family home at dusk. I smelled cookies baking. The tree in the big bay window looked and smelled lovely, and there was a fire in the fireplace. It seemed so normal. Could it be? Had aliens replaced my family with normal people? It was so . . . Norman Rockwell.

It wasn't to be. The calm lasted less than 30 seconds. My dog, a poodle**, heard me enter and ran in my direction. Did you know that poodles are prone to cataracts that make objects-- even large ones like nine-foot brightly lit Christmas trees--invisible? The poodle missed me by a wide margin but found the tree. She went into the tree, up the tree, through the tree. The poodle, all eight pounds of her, toppled the tree. It made an enormous crash. Then the house went silent.

Now, remember, I had been gone for four months. I was expecting my parents to make a fuss over me. Welcome me home. Ask me what special dish I would like for dinner. Instead I got this:

"What the f&*^! Get back here, dog! Get back here! My tree! My motherf@$# tree! I'll kill you! I'll kill you!"

My mother appeared in the door, butcher knife in hand, screaming. She was drenched in sweat, either from cooking or the side effects of menopause or possibly a combination of these. She did not acknowledge me, the child she had last seen in August. Instead, she lunged at the dog who, sensing danger, shot between us and ran to the back of the house, skittering along the wood floors all the way. My mother gave chase and around they went. Through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the family room and back again. She pursued the dog even as my eight-year-old brother begged her to spare the dog's life.

"But she can't see," he sobbed, "Please don't kill her. Please don't kill her. I love her. Waaah." That my brother even thought it was plausible that our mother might kill the dog should convince you that I am not exaggerating when I say that my family is BSC.

Nothing stands out from the rest of that visit. The dog's life was spared. The tree was mended. I was a debutante.***

Going home is hard for me. While I enjoy seeing my brothers, I never know what I'll walk into when I go through that door. I do know this. I hide the butcher knife when I go home. Just in case.

*bat shit crazy
**my parents are small, yappy dog people
***a story for another day

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Then and Now

Then . . .

and Now. . .

Saturday, December 09, 2006

One year ago today

I can't believe a year has passed since that second, faint pink shadow of a line showed up on the pregnancy stick.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Heavy Heart

Every once in a while, a news story will grip me and I will become preoccupied with it. It will play over and over in my mind, and I will surf the Internet looking for updates or clues. It will keep me up and night and it will be one of the first things I think of when I wake.

That happened this week.

The Kim family of San Francisco went missing after a Thanksgiving holiday visit to friends in Portland. James and Kati and their two daughters, ages 4 and 7 months, became lost and then trapped in the unforgiving Oregon back country. The lost persons story aired late last week and I followed anxiously as authorities tried to locate them.

On Monday, nine days after becoming stranded, Kati and the daughters were discovered in good condition. I was elated that they were alive and more elated still when I learned that Kati had nourished both children by nursing them (hey! I could do that!). What a hero!

My joy over their rescue was tempered by the fact that James was still missing. He had left two days earlier on foot to seek help. Search teams immediately started tracking him, but today, two days later, his body was discovered. I don't know the cause of death, but it seems clear that exposure played a role.

I've already seen criticisms of James' actions posted around the web, (Why drive back roads? Why leave a roadway when lost? Why go out without provisions?) but I am here to praise him.

For sticking it out as long as he did. For keeping the children safe. For being resourceful. For having the courage to try to increase the odds of being found. For sacrificing all for his family.

I'm an optimist deep down and I was hopeful for a miracle right up until the press conference when his death was confirmed. I am terribly sad for the Kim family tonight and hope that they find peace and strength and courage to go on.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Worst Parents in the World

Last night, E wouldn't settle down for bed time. We had been to a birthday party and thought she was just revved from all that sugar. So we practiced tough love. First we made sure her diaper was dry and that the room temperature was comfortable. Then we ignored her while she screamed and pounded on the door. This went on for some time. We congratulated ourselves for setting boundaries and for not caving to a two-year-old's whims. She woke several hours later and was hard to soothe. Tough love again. More screaming. Once again, we traded self-congratulatory comments across the pillow.

This morning, J noticed that E's hair was matted and that her ear was oozing a bit. She has tubes, and some drainage is normal with a cold, so we weren't alarmed.

Then, during her afternoon nap, both ears exploded. Pus. Blood. Ooze. She has a double ear infection. This is quite a feat considering the tubes. It must have been hurting badly last night, but we were so focused on the sugar she consumed that other possibilities didn't occur to us. So she suffered longer than necessary.

Tonight, she is more comfortable. The antibiotic drops are doing their thing, and the ibuprofen is helping with the pain. She went to bed without complaint.

This parenting thing is tricky business. I think we get a lot right, but when we goof, we really goof. This time, we erred by assuming that she would be able to alert us to something serious. Last night when we asked her what was wrong, she asked for her books, she requested water, and she cried to be let out of her room. She never said a word about her ear. We should have known that her communication skills aren't yet sufficient to express what is wrong. She can sing the "happy birthday cake" song, but she can't say that her ear hurts like a bitch. She screams and we try to interpret. Last night, we got it wrong. Very wrong.

I wonder what therapy she is going to need later in life. Because of us.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I have stress dreams that are good barometers for how my life is going.

In the first, I am behind the wheel of a car in the parking lot of Target. It isn't my car. It is big, old and non-responsive . The brakes barely work and the steering is off. If you have ever been the driver of a bumper car at your county fair, you may be familiar with the sensation of driving this beast. In my dream, I am desperate to avoid shopping carts, cars, and pedestrians. Somehow, I do manage, but barely.

In the second stress dream, I look out across the horizon and see tornadoes coming my way. Whichever way I run, they follow. I thank the jackasses who made the movie, Twister, for this dream. I think tornadoes might be cool if they were predictable and filed a flight path first. As a side note., my fear of tornadoes is not without merit. I have seen two, up close and personal, in the last four years. The first time I saw one, we were out shopping for a car. I pointed out the tornado to my husband and the sales staff. As I started formulating a survival plan--the freezer room in a nearby minimart seemed to be the best bet--the men, my husband included, ran outside gawking at it. I don't know if they were brave, or (more likely) if the Y chromosome kicked in and overrode their sensible, cautious side, but they weren't thinking about seeking cover. Luckily it went the other way. The second tornado appeared on a jut of land just across the harbor. I stopped the car and called 911 to report it. I thought the man in front of me was doing the same, but it turns out he was taking pictures with his cell phone.

In the final stress dream, I am a passenger in a plane that is going down. Matthew Fox is not on board. My fear of flying can probably be traced to the death of a childhood friend's father* Then in 1994, I had a horrible flight out of Colorado Springs which involved turbulence and a short dive in which people screamed and luggage flew out of the overhead bins.

My stress dreams have returned. It doesn't take a psychologist to realize that the common theme in each of these dreams is control or lack of it, to be more precise. Lately, I've been in reaction mode at home and at work.

At home, Baby M has had a cold and has regressed on the whole sleep through the night thing. She wants to be held most of the day and she hasn't been eating well. This has left me stupid from sleep deprivation and in pain from a nasty case of plugged milk ducts.

E is doing better, but she is two, which means she is opinionated and of limitless energy. She has taken to walking around with her pants and diapers around her ankles declaring that she needs to go potty. This is now a ritual activity complete with reading materials (thanks, J), toilet flushing and hand washing. It was cute at first. Unfortunately, she doesn't quite have the awareness in advance that she needs to go and only tells me after the fact. This does not curb her enthusiasm so we are spending a good bit of time in the bathroom which is, of course, making me a bit insane. I'm considering installing a wine bar in there to help me relax.

On the work front, I have the text hanging over my head. And a publisher who is truly not nice. I also have the department's assessment report to write, but to do that I'll need to analyze the data in all my free time**and to work with a colleague who, while well-intentioned, is a bit much. Do I really need to know that she and her husband made love*** last night? Do I need to hear about the patriarchy that stand in the way of her making full professor?

Finally, I'm fat. Well, not so much that my ass is going to be featured on the news tonight as an example of American gluttony, but fat for me. The baby weight is being stubborn. My father-in-law said something to me about it today over Thanksgiving dinner as I was eating seconds.****

All this is to say that my stress dreams have returned and I am feeling a bit out of control. This must end: I need more control or at least the illusion of more control. Now. I've started a small experiment. Starting two days ago, I am doing my best impression of someone who has things under control. If at the end of a week, I don't feel slightly better, I'll try something different.

I'm keeping the house neater. Specifically, I'm not going to bed with anything out in the kitchen, I'm insisting that messes should be cleaned as they are made (pretty amusing with a two-year-old in the house), I'm planning meals head of time*****. I'm selecting outfits the night before they are to be worn. I'm checking bank balances. I'm thinking about the text.

What am I missing? How do you hold things together?

*I recently realized that the crash was the same one that claimed the life of Steven Colbert's father and brothers).
**I have loads of it, if we count the hours I senselessly devote to rest.
***Her words, not mine. This sounds so cheesy to me. So 1970s. So herpes era.
****Was this comment necessary? I think not.
*****This week is easy. Leftovers. I plan for the family to eat the leftovers right down to the turkey bone marrow.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Three Months: A Short Thanksgiving Story

Last Thanksgiving, I was seriously depressed. Mood and FSH levels are inversely related after all. Despite the dire fertility diagnosis, I was not willing to accept the RE's word that my ovaries were cooked. I was mid cycle and armed with an ovulation prediction kit, Preseed, and the conviction that I would have another baby even if it meant second mortgaging the house and cycling across the country at a high FSH friendly clinic. I was a woman on a mission.

Thanksgiving morning I took food to bleary-eyed friends who had a three-day-old baby. Later, my in-laws spent the day with us which meant I had to sneak off to the bathroom to pee on a stick and then obsess. The lines almost matched which meant I was close to ovulating. Hope! Now if the in-laws would leave already.* After hours of discussing whatever my in-laws discuss** they finally left, we did that which needed to be done, and somewhere over the course of that long weekend we did what seemed impossible: we conceived naturally.

M is three months old today. And I am so grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

*Family holidays stress me out, and I was feeling raw and intruded upon. With a possible LH surge, my normal impatience for their departure was somewhat intensified.

**Good God, these people can talk. For hours. About nothing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


When my first daughter was a month old or so I remember reading a post on my new mommies board from a woman who was clearly delusional. She explained how she treasured the nighttime wakings and feedings and would miss them when they were gone. The words treasure, gaze, and bond appeared. It was a Hallmark post, dripping of saccharine.

I remembered that just now as I got up with Baby M. It is 4:30 a.m. and she is nursing. I adore my little one. I do. But for the record, when these night wakings are over, I will not miss them. What I treasure right now are eight unbroken hours of sleep.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


J's 20th college reunion is this weekend. Here. He didn't care to attend any events, and I am extremely thankful for this. You see, I work at the college he attended, and I'm not at all enthusiastic about turning over $80 per person to my employer to drink cheap wine and eat crappy cheese and crackers when my most recent cost-of-living adjustment was so small I needed to borrow a microscope from the biology department just to see it. Plus, this is pure conjecture, but I'm fairly certain that the only people who attend reunions are people who are there for bragging rights. You know, people with big houses, nice cars, kids who don't get dirty or snotty, and law or medical degrees. Republicans.

Let's just say we fit in none of the above categories. Our house is small and cluttered. We have about 1500 square feet downstairs and a finished room above the garage that would be a good bet for Mission Organization makeover. We have a 1996 hatchback with body damage and are considering splurging on a Honda Fit if two car seats will fit in back and if we can swing a payment on top of childcare. My kids get dirty. Very dirty. Snotty too. We are humble public servants making crappy wages. I'm a democratic sociologist, but people in this part of the country don't get it so I usually just say that I'm a democrat and cope as they look on me with fascination and pity.

So I was feeling good about getting out of reunion duty and not having to mix with people I don't know and can't relate to. But my relief was short-lived because college friends of J's called. They are in town for the reunion! Why didn't we go?! It would be so great to see us! It's been too long! They have to see the BA-BEE!

How to describe them? She is a stay-at-home mom* whose Christmas letters always start with "we are blessed" and then go on for five pages to document their Tahoe vacation, big new house, perfect children, and perfect lives. She got a masters degree in education, spent half a year teaching and hasn't worked outside the home since that time, not even before they had kids.

He is a lawyer. Not just any lawyer, but the one on the back of the phone book in his city.** My brother happens to represent insurance companies and has been on opposite sides of the aisle from this guy more than once. My brother says this guy is a shyster. Now please understand that my brother is himself a bit of a shyster who once sent a certified letter to a new neighbor because their dog kennel was three inches over the property line. So when he calls another attorney a shyster, I have to take his word for it.

I'm pretty sure this couple is Republican. They just have that vibe. I guess I'll know soon enough because J invited them over here tomorrow morning. He told me this at 8 p.m. tonight and we had a fight at 8:05. I threw the F bomb, he called me names. I finally gave up because it won't change the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Blessed (turn your injured neck into a check!) will be here in the morning.

Let me set the scene for you. The house is cluttered and none too clean. There is stuff everywhere. Baby equipment that replicates when we aren't watching. Puzzles. Crayons. Books, magazines, newspapers.***I haven't vacuumed this weekend because E is terrified of the vacuum and she hasn't been anywhere without me. Though I just mopped on Wednesday, the kitchen floor needs to be mopped again because J made pumpkin seed brittle**** and there are sticky spots everywhere. We don't have baseboards. We renovated this house two years ago, E was born and most work stopped. It really bothers me that we don't have baseboards. It almost bothers me as much as the clutter. There is nothing I can do about that by tomorrow morning.

Now that I have calmed down, I have a plan for getting the house looking as nice as it can considering all. I told J he must take the kids out of the house for at least an hour in the morning as I don't have time to coddle a toddler who thinks the vacuum cleaner is a monster. My plan is simple. First, I am going to pick up everything that doesn't have a home and throw it in a Rubbermaid bin that will then be deposited in a dark corner of a closet and probably forgotten until we move again.***** J will be totally pissed when he realized I done this, but he'll deal. Once surfaces are cleared, I'll dust and vacuum. Then I'll mop. Then I'll wipe down the front bathroom. Then I'll make the beds. Easy, right?

*Nothing wrong with this. She just has a bit of that Stepford Wife thing going, you know?
**This is true. A mutual friend confirmed it.
***No, I'm not a hoarder, but I do have the last two days worth of papers out because I might get to read them and because I need to find the TV and Real Estate sections.
****You don't want to know.
*****You think I'm joking, don't you?

An Update: I sent J and the girls into the cold morning air so I could clean the house. Then this couple was two hours late. She talked nonstop the entire visit about her children. J went to lunch with them and reports that the monologue went on for the entire meal. On the plus side, they send their kids to public school so they can't be all bad.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fear and loathing

Ah. The publisher will be here Friday. For four days. Four long days. She isn't pleased that I'll have M with me, but unless J grows boobs and starts lactating, M is coming along. I could pump, but there are a few problems with this. First, it takes me two pumping sessions to make enough for one bottle. I don't understand this, but that is just how it is working out. Second, the baby doesn't take bottles well. She arches her back and wails as if we have abandoned her. She is getting better about this, but it is hit and miss. Finally, I can't leave J with two girls for that long. Well, I could, but it wouldn't be pretty. He looks strung out when I get back from yoga and that is only 90 minutes; I can't imagine how strung out he would be after a few days. It isn't that he is incompetent. Not at all. It has more to do with M's reluctance to take a bottle and E's tantrums. I told the publisher that I would need to bring the baby and she was OK with it six weeks ago. I'm holding her to it. She was forewarned.

The text is not going well. If I had it all to do again, I would never have signed up for this. It will go down as my biggest professional mistake. Still, I'm not a quitter. Really, I am not. It's just that it seems bigger than me. So much bigger. My social science is a broad field. While I am more than competent at teaching the introductory courses, it has occurred to me that my area of expertise is fairly narrow. This means that to write with authority on certain topics, that I have to dive back in the literature and really educate myself. This takes time and energy. Both are in short supply.

Then there is the feedback from the editor and publisher. The publisher thinks I am too spare in writing. She may be correct. I have a journalism background and I'm stingy with words. I was trained to get as much information into as little space as possible. Old habits are hard to break. It is depressing for me to get her feedback. The editor is less critical, but he doesn't have a background in my field so we don't always speak the same language.

When I think about it, my biggest problem may be psychological resistance to this project. The publisher has been very cruel at times and domineering at others. I fear her. I loathe her. She has told me that "we own your time" "you belong to us" "we could have gotten a bigger name for this" and the list goes on. I am not the most assertive person, but I am unusually passive around her. It feels bad and lends a bad vibe to the project.

Between now and Friday I need to finish a chapter. I don't think it will happen, but I'll give it a try. I think that if M will give me more than three hours of sleep at a time, that I may get more done. Send little M some sleep vibes. A clear head would do me good.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My sitter is back

Ah bliss. One of our three sitters from last year has returned. Her fiance, a professional athlete, was not picked up by the major league so he is back here playing for a farm team. I know they are disappointed, but I am so happy to have her back. She came over three afternoons this week and watched M while I worked upstairs. When it was time for me to feed M, she knocked on the door and I took a nursing break. It was so easy! If I could afford to do this long-term I wouldn't put M in daycare in January.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


You'll thank me for this: When you decide it is time to get your hair chopped off, make sure the stylist has a lot of experience cutting short hair.

Friday, October 20, 2006

One year of blogging

Was it really a year ago today that I learned my FSH was 24.7? That Nurse Joy didn't want to give me the news? That I stood behind the little coffee shop sobbing and hoping passersby wouldn't notice? That I had to cancel my evening class because my eyes were red and puffy and I wasn't sure I could keep my composure?

A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. The RE was wrong. My eggs were good. The book is not nearly done. I'm a mom again.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mama's lost her groove

Baby M (wasn't that the name of a custody battle baby?) is eight weeks old and is a model citizen. While she isn't sleeping quite through the night, she goes down around 10:30 p.m. and doesn't wake again until 4:30-5:00 a.m. After a slow start to breastfeeding, we have the hang of it. She mostly eats every three hours or so until the evening when she eats a bit more frequently. She doesn't fuss much and she smiles a lot. Baby M has found her groove.

So what is wrong with Mama?

  • She is 10 pounds heaver than she was this time last year and that last ten pounds aren't budging. This is probably due to her very healthy appetite and lack of exercise. The ten pounds make Mama feel fat and very unattractive. Her favorite jeans don't fit. Hell, none of her jeans fit and she was reduced to a trip to K-Mart for three pairs of fat pants less she freeze her ass off. Actually, freezing her ass off sounds like a plan.
  • She is trying to work around the baby on a project she hates. While M is basically on her own little schedule, she needs lots of attention as newborns tend to do. Mama is supposedly back at work full time with the baby. That means schlepping the baby to campus at least one day per week and trying to work from home the other days. The problem with this is that the blocks of working time (when not needing to tend to the baby) are small and by the time Mama is finally immersed in the detestable text, it is time to save all files and feed, burp, bathe, walk, or cuddle with the little one. Mama much prefers this to writing anyway.
  • She does not like the publisher of the text who is pure evil. It had to be said. Seriously, this is not a nice woman and the entire thing-- nine more chapters--must be completed by April 30. Or else. She is making a trip this way in three weeks. Is praying for a November hurricane a bad thing?
  • She is devoting considerable energy to Big Sister E who is "highly spirited" which is a nice way of saying she has taken the "terrible" in terrible two to heart. She is a lovely girl when she is happy, but she can turn on a dime.
  • She trips over toys and baby gear daily. Despite attempts to keep the living space in order, it feels chaotic and cluttered. Between puzzle pieces, baby swings, and books and magazines (oh yes! a household of readers), things have a tendency to pile up.
  • She feels anxious. All the time. And unsettled. Is this the first hint of postpartum depression? Perhaps this is just to be expected.

Clearly, something needs to happen to make Mama feel more in control. A few ideas:

  • While it means stranding J with the girls for 90 minutes, I insist on going to yoga or Pilates twice a week. I've done this three times and felt better for a little while after. No matter that I am the worst student in the class.
  • I need to start running again. I have a bad neck so this is a little scary, but the times I've felt most in control were the times I was running regularly. M is still a little small for running (in the running stroller) so I'll have to work out something with J.
  • I have to come to terms with the text. I completed a dissertation somehow. This shouldn't be as difficult because it isn't original research.
  • I need some changes. I'm starting with my hair; I'm getting it lopped off. Seriously, it just adds to the frump. It is time for something short and perky.

Baby M is waking. If you see my groove please send it my way. I need it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Belated Birth Story

I promised a birth story so here goes. It was a ridiculously easy birth compared to E's delivery two years ago. Here is what made the delivery different: My epidural worked, no magnesium sulfate was involved, no vacuum was needed, there were no third degree tears from hell, and I was not in labor for 36 hours. It was the birth experience I had hoped for.

After being told I could go anytime starting at 37 weeks, I was still very pregnant (and totally pissed about it) at 39 weeks. Because my blood pressure started to rise, I was scheduled for an induction on M's due date. We were at the hospital by 6:30a.m. By 8:30, my OB broke my water and by 9:00 I was having contractions with the help of Pitocin. The contractions weren't that bad, but I asked for an epidural around 10:00. I was only 3 cm by 11:00 so J and I thought we were in for a very long labor (I was in labor with E from 5 a.m. when my contractions started until she was born at 5:30 the next day).

We settled in for a long wait and decided to watch a DVD on my computer. Unfortunately, I wasn't terribly discerning in my program selection. I selected Season One of Weeds*, not realizing that there would be fairly graphic sex scene on the episode we selected (think Sex in the City). My computer is relatively new, so I was frantically trying to stop the DVD before the doctor or nurse walked in and discovered us watching porn. Oh well. Live and learn. We turned the computer off.

Around 1:00 I had breakthrough pain so my epidural (lovely epidural!) was amped up. I felt pressure around 1:45 and when the doctor checked me at 2 p.m. I was complete, complete and +3. It was time to push. I really only had to push through about four contractions and I delivered my lovely, curly haired baby at 2:30. I had a second degree tear, but it healed well and didn't cause me much aggravation.

It was a wonderful experience and I would do it again. In fact, I would love to do it again. What is wrong with me?

*Which I really like despite the shocking scene.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dear Dr. Negative and Nurse Joy

My less-than-one-percent-chance-of-conception baby has arrived. She is perfect. Lovely. Brilliant. Adored.Here. At last. *

May I suggest that in the future, rather than scare the shit out of patients who present with less than stellar hormonal profiles, that you instead show a little compassion and a little willingness to work with them? At the very least, refer them to a center that is less concerned about the center's statistics. Don't push donor eggs until you are certain that all avenues have been exhausted. [Trust me, you didn't exhaust any avenues.] Finally, believe it is possible for the sake of your patients. I think I managed to get pregnant largely because Dr. F believed I could do it. I have six and a half pounds of proof sitting next to me.

*I promise a real update and short birth story when I have a little more time and a lot more energy. As it happens, I developed a case of late onset preeclampsia four days after M was born and had to be rehospitalized. I'm feeling better, but still battling high blood pressure and the extra fatigue that brings. Then there is the small matter of M thinking party time is from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Never made it to the hospital

About an hour after posting last night, the contractions abruptly slowed and became less intense. By midnight, they had quit altogether. The upside is that I got a decent night's sleep. The downside is that my mom is here now. Watching me. For signs of labor. I may go crazy.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Contractions every four minutes or so. . .

This afternoon I realized that I haven't really wrapped my brain around this "parent of two" thing. I guess I have a little bit of time to work on that. Not much, though. I almost cried when I put E to bed. She was a prefect child today. Funny, talkative, affectionate. We have a good thing going. Please, please let that continue.

My mom should be here soon and then we are heading to the hospital. I'm a little worried that I will have made no progress since this morning when I was barely 2cm and 50% effaced. I have a history of slow labor with E. Surely they won't send me home when I've been in labor since 2 a.m. (it is now 9 p.m.) Will they?

Will update when I am able.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The plug! The plug!

Damn! That was gross. Snotty? Check. Bloody? Check. Ready to get this show on the road? Check.

Before we get too excited, I should mention that the OB stripped my membranes on Friday so this isn't totally unexpected. Plus, I've read that it can regenerate. Still, the promise of going into labor without the sledgehammer of a pitocin drip is alluring. If I don't go into labor on my own by Friday, the OB is planning to induce. My BP is creeping up there so we don't want it to get out of hand.

We saw the baby on Wednesday. Measuring a bit small--18th percentile--for dates, but looked great. Of course, with a margin of error of about a pound in either direction, there is no telling what we'll end up with. I'd post an ultrasound, but my uterus is rather cramped and the pictures aren't very good.

E is doing much better. She seems recovered from the ear infection and cold and has slept relatively well the last few nights. I feel a little guilty that we are about to rock her world with the addition of a new family member, but I think she'll forgive us one day.

We still have a few house tasks left to accomplish, but we are basically there. Most of what is left can wait since the baby will be in our room for a couple of months.

Will update when there is something to report.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dear Baby

Ouch. I know you probably feel cramped in there, but I think you may have cracked one of my ribs tonight. You are also head butting my cervix, which I hear is good for getting things going, but do you think you could stop for a few hours? Please? Mama needs sleep.

You see, your big sister has been sick since last Thursday. Actually she had a cold before that, but she has been really sick since Thursday with high fevers, pain and crankiness. Despite the tubes, she has a lovely ear infection. Truth be told, this is the worst infection yet. The doctor speculated that dried blood from the procedure may have blocked a tube and prevented it from draining. This gave the bacteria a place to thrive until the pressure built and built and your sister's ear exploded. She hasn't been sleeping well as a result. And now her hair is matted with ear drainage which is vile, vile stuff. She hasn't been to school since Thursday and I haven't had a nap since she has been home. I need a nap. Forget Brad Pitt: my fantasies now involve eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But I would settle for five or six.

The doctor says you could arrive anytime now. I'm so looking forward to meeting you, but can you give us just another couple of days? Your sister's furniture should be painted by tomorrow-- even if I have to do it myself--and I have cleaners coming. So the house will be ready soon. If I can just rest up a little before giving birth, I think we will both be better off for it.

Plus, your sister and I have not had much quality time during the last week. Quantity time, yes. Lot's of that. But it is hard to have quality time when someone is screaming from pain and is generally very cranky. We've watched way too much TV and now I have the theme to several children's programs stuck in an endless loop running through my head. I have a Ph.D. and I have been reduced to humming along to a Higley Town Heros, Doodlebops, and Signing Times medley. It isn't right.

We'll get to see you Wednesday one way or another. I'm measuring small so the OB just wants to take a quick peak and make sure things are OK. I still don't know your gender, but your grandmother (the one attached to her cell phone) insists you are a boy. If you are, that is OK, but we are going to have to go shopping unless you are into pink ruffles. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Hang in there another couple of days, my lovely one. There is a big world out here waiting. I can't wait to show it to you.

All my love.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Some weeks blow

This hasn't been the best week.

My OB is leaving. For good. This week. I have mixed feelings. I don’t like her has much as I liked Dr. L who held my hand through infertility and saw me through my pregnancy with E (she left last summer to return to her home state). I knew that Dr. T was leaving as far back as January, but she assured me that I would be “in good hands” for the final weeks of my pregnancy and I decided not to find a new practice. Big mistake. My last appointment with her was Thursday and she once again assured me that the OB who is replacing her is great and will do a good job. However, when I went to check out and make my 37 week appointment with the new OB, the scheduler said, “Oh, Dr. S doesn’t start until August 15. You’ll have to see someone else until then.” Then she informed me that no one was available next week.

When I protested, the scheduler found a spot for me for next Friday afternoon with Dr. A, who I have not yet met. He is fresh out of medical school and is not even board certified. I’m mortified. And the week after? I’ll see whoever can take me. I don’t really like being without an assigned doctor right now. I have no idea who to call with questions. No one knows my medical history. This is NOT how I planned to finish out my pregnancy.

It doesn’t help that the other doctors in the practice are all men. First, I prefer a female OB who has had children. If I say, “I feel like this child is going to fall out of my butt,” I want my doctor to nod empathetically and say, “Oh yes, that rectal pressure is something, isn’t it?!” rather than referring me to the nearest psychologist. Second, if I have an embarrassing question, “I am suddenly horny/frigid/purple” I want to be able to ask it without having to look at the floor. Finally, I’m having pelvic exams each week at this point. I find that excruciating enough once a year with a female OB/GYN. I’m going to need prenatal Valium for this.

As I was learning that this was my last appointment with Dr. T, I learned that I have a UTI. The routine urine dip revealed this and, looking back, it makes sense. I had blamed my extreme fatigue, round the clock weeing, and killer low back pain on the baby (sorry baby!). I’m glad it’s being treated, but it hasn’t made my week any better. I’m somewhat disappointed that the antibiotic has not turned my urine bright yellow/orange as promised by the pharmacist. I don’t know why the promise of neon pee excited me, but it did. Maybe I'm just perverse.

We’ve also had a time with E this week. After seven ear infections and a slightly abnormal hearing test, E had tubes placed in her ears yesterday. This is good news, really. I think we will be happy to have the tubes. However, she is one pissed-off little kid right now. It started off well enough. The anesthesiologist brought in a cocktail of Tylenol and Versed, which made E the most entertaining 22-month old on the planet. She’s going to be a fun drunk one day, I’m afraid. We were charmed.

Of course all good things must come to an end, and for us that end came quickly, when E woke in the recovery area. How a child goes from drunken charmer to Mr. Hyde in the course of 15 minutes, I do not know. But I can report that she cried and screamed for hours yesterday. We figured she would be better today, but she woke up with the sniffles and was running a fever of 102 by this afternoon. Now her ears hurt AND she is blowing snot bubbles. It isn’t good. I’m worried for her and will take her to our pediatrician in the morning if this continues. My fear is that the new tubes are blocked and are not doing their job. It doesn’t seem like a cold should cause a high fever.

Finally, there was the lactation class that wasn't. I decided that in order to get better treatment/ more attention from the lactation consultants, that I would sign up for a breastfeeding class this time. I had supply issues when E was born that were probably related to my high blood pressure so I want to be proactive this time. I showed up in room 336 of the main hospital this morning as instructed. I was the only one there. After some investigation, it turns out that the idiot scheduler put me in a class that doesn’t meet until the last Saturday of AUGUST--after the baby is born. The class that met this month met two days ago on Thursday evening. I was free Thursday. Maybe I’m just not supposed to breastfeed.

I guess I’m totally hormonal because I started bawling the moment I set foot out of the hospital. That’s just the kind of week it has been. Next week will be better, right?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Shhh. . . Don't tell my husband

I want another baby after this one.

There is no rational reason for this. In fact there are many reasons to argue against it.
  • This pregnancy has been difficult physically.
  • I've worried from the moment the second pink line appeared on the stick.
  • Being a good mom to a toddler and being pregnant have been tough.
  • We don't have the space for any more children.
  • We don't have enough money to raise another.
  • Have you seen the projections for the cost of college by the time these two are ready?
  • Four years of changing diapers is probably quite enough.
  • We will be in our sixties by the time we launch the two we have.
  • My FSH makes another child unlikely.

But still, there is a sense of sadness as I approach the end of this pregnancy. I don't want to believe that this is it. That we are done.

Where does this desire for children come from anyway? Is it hardwired? Do men have it? Does the sadness of having closed the door ever go away?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Pregnancy Waddle

I was always told that the waddle was from a combination of the baby's position and the relaxation of the pelvis. Today, as I wiped away drops of sweat on my way into Costco I suddenly realized that this is bunk.
My waddle? I don't like the sensation of my very fat, maternal thighs rubbing together.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

35 weeks!

I am 35 weeks today. Hooray! Only two more weeks until I'm term. At last week's appointment my OB predicted I won't go a full 40 weeks. That both terrifies me and excites me.

Terrifies me because if I were to go into labor tomorrow, we would not quite be prepared. There is no nursery. While I know we only need a bassinet, some pampers, a stack of onesies, and some formula in case my milk fails to come in again, a little more preparation would be good. Also, I know that babies born after 35 weeks tend to do very well, but I think they should bake a little longer. Jaundice, respiratory distress and feeding issues are still concerns.

Excites me because I am tired of being pregnant. I feel huge. My thighs are alarmingly fat. I'm starting to get sausage toes. The baby has a foot jammed up under my rib cage and (damn!) it hurts. I'm also getting rammed in the cervix on a regular basis. Think of French soccer hero Zidane's head-butt of his Italian opponent and you may get the picture. Then, there are the hemorrhoids. They are so bad that sitting down is a little painful. My back hurts. My calves seize up in middle-of-the-night-what-the-hell-is-going-on cramps. The kicker is that I am contracting at least every 10 minutes and sometimes as frequently as every 3-5 minutes. It hasn't progressed to real labor, but it is a nuisance at best and painful at worst. I'm up at this very late hour because of the contractions.

Still, I am grateful to be pregnant, I truly am. With my FSH in the stratosphere, the thyroid and autoimmune issues, this baby is a miracle in so many ways.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

34 weeks 5 days

A quick recap of the last several weeks:

  • I ended up in labor and delivery at 32 weeks because of contractions and bleeding. The doctors stopped the contractions with terbutaline and decided that the bleeding was just a pesky cervical polyp.
  • The real story with the hospital adventure is J's story. E had to stay home for a few days because she had a reaction to Omnicef, the antibiotic prescribed for her most recent ear infection. The reaction consisted mainly of horrible diarrhea and an appalling diaper rash. While I was getting an IV and shot of terbutaline, J took her to the hospital cafeteria and attempted to keep her busy. At some point he noticed the oozing brown stain on her shorts and realized that she had a blowout diaper. He took her to the men's room to change her and to attempt to wash her shorts. While he was busy trying to wash poo from shorts, he noticed that E had wandered over to a urinal and was exploring its basin with her bare hands. When he picked me up, he was one stressed out man.
  • The contractions returned three hours after I was released from labor and delivery. Apparently, I have an irritable uterus, because I contract about every 5-10 minutes. It is only just now starting to have any effect on my cervix. My OB said she thinks I'll make it to 37 weeks, but doesn't see me going 40. Of course, Lindy, has been contracting like this since early in the third trimester and is nearing 40 weeks, so who knows. I can't imagine continuing like this for another five weeks. It hurts, man.
  • E is doing well in daycare. She has only had one daycare illness, a cold, and seems happy. I like her teachers and have been happy with the director and staff.
  • Since I could possibly deliver early, I've focused on getting prepped for the baby this weekend. Went shopping for new onesies, bought pacifiers, new nipples for the bottles, have located the bassinet and bassinet sheets, found the sling, and looked into My Brest Friend. Even though I am exhausted, my goal is to make sure that the house is semi-neat before going to bed every evening, just in case I have to rush to the hospital.
  • We are doing a very careful furniture swap this Wednesday. J will take the guestroom (nursery-to-be) furniture and our queen-sized bed to his parents who are rumoured to be building a mountain house. I ordered a king-sized platform bed and very expensive mattress. The mattress should arrive on Wednesday and the bed will come sometime in the next week. J has been sleeping in the guestroom for a while because I am pretty obnoxious with my nest of pillows, pregnancy snoring, and many trips to the loo. Hoping the extra space on the new bed will help things because we won't have an extra bed for long.
  • I've done nearly nothing on the text. I had a coauthor who backed out because the publisher was impossible to work with. To be honest, the project totally overwhelms me and I resent the time it takes away from nesting. And napping.
  • I've become a LOST addict. We rented season one and now I am a big enough nerd that I know season two will be released on September 5.
  • No signs of preeclampsia yet!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen. . . We Have Daycare

We've been on waiting lists for daycare for about a year. Apparently, I should have sign ed E up as soon as J made his "donation" at the clinic. It just would have been easier.

Actually, to be completely honest, I had control issues AND I bought into the "daycare bad, mom's care good" rhetoric hook line and sinker.* What that has meant is a patchwork of sitters for the last 20 months. I have already exposed E to TEN caretakers. Let's review, shall we?

Spring 2005: We had the tag team of Nanny L and Nanny J. L did her best, but was a little cowed by our demanding three-month old. Just as L exited when E was 7 months did she seem to have it down. J was the oldest of 7 kids and was wonderful. Of course, she was scooped out from under us by a family in Park City, CO. We just couldn't compete.

Summer 2005: Disaster. Sitter D (I can't call her a nanny) had knee surgery after about a week on the job. Rehab meant she couldn't lift anything. Her friends S and C filled in, but it was no good and I was sitter-less by the first week of July.

Fall 2005: In August E started going to another mom's house. J was very nice and had a baby almost the same age. She was every bit the earth mother and could actually tie her baby on her back just like the native moms where she had served in the Peace Corps. J was a little appalled at my willingness to let E cry it out that first nap time, but trust me, she needed at least one baby to go to sleep. Her little girl had to be nursed and rocked down which was difficult with two in the house. Unfortunately, J seemed to have a latent case of postpartum depression and things went downhill quickly. We stopped going there by the end of October. I hear she has been accepted to a homeopathy program in the West and I wish her well.

October 2005-April 2006. We had Nanny J, Nanny M, and Nanny S. They started as friends who wanted to share the hours. In December, Nanny S assaulted Nanny M and went to jail for a night and was sentenced to community service and anger management. I kept her and fired Nanny M. It is hard to explain at this point, but it was the right call. Nanny J smelled vaguely of smoke, but was very sweet and was with us the longest. Being wives/ fiances of pro hockey players they are all gone for the off-season.

May 2006. Nanny A., a former student who did NOT write a horrible paper . She is quite good with E, but she is costing me dearly. Plus, she'll only be available a few months. Nanny A answered the phone today when the daycare center called so she knows this may be a short gig. Fortunately, I know someone who wants her half-time so she won't be unemployed for long.

Reasons I am excited about daycare:

  • E will be around other children her age and older. Right now, her closest pal is 9 months younger and holding her back. OK, her friend isn't really holding her back, but she isn't quite a toddler yet and there are development differences.
  • E will have to eat what they serve for lunch and snacks. She has morphed into the pickiest eater in the world so I'm hoping toddler peer pressure works wonders.
  • I haven't been able to afford full-time nanny care so I am frequently frustrated by feeling behind on everything. My productivity may increase which will make me a more relaxed mama. At the very least, E will see fewer Elmo tapes because I won't be trying to answer email, return student messages, and do work while caring for her. Family time can be family time.
  • I'm pregnant and exhausted. This is going to help.
  • I'm tired of having people in my house every day. It's not that I plan to revert to total chaos and slobdom, but I feel the pressure to clean the house before the nannies arrive. Now, when there are days that I can't make the bed, clean the counters, sweep the kitchen floor, wipe down the sinks and hide whatever I don't want seen (umm. . Poise pads, Tucks, Maternity undergarments and HUGE utilitarian bras among other items) all by 8:30, it is OK. In fact, now I can take early walks with E before we start our day and clean when I get home from dropping her off.
  • I can REALLY work from home. No sitter popping her head into the office to ask if it is OK to turn on the AC. No pounding on office door by E.

Reasons I am worried:

  • I'm about to send my beautiful little girl out into the big, bad world.
  • She is used to being home.
  • Will she nap?
  • What if peer pressure doesn't work? Will she starve at lunch?
  • Will she feels abandoned?
  • What if she is bullied?
  • What if she is a bully?
  • What if this leads to additional ear infections?
  • What if I cry in front of her while dropping her off?
  • What if this is a huge mistake?

Overall, I am cautiously optimistic. This center is my second choice mainly because I don't like the baby room (thinking ahead for little brother/sister). J is going to call our first choice tomorrow just to see if a miracle spot has opened. If not, we'll proceed with this center and hope for the best.

*I think this is true to an extent when the baby is very young, but mainly I think this is yet another way to control women and generate conflict and angst.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Eek! 100 days to go!

Turns out that 25w5d is the last day of triple digits. Tomorrow? Single digits. 99 days. Eek.

So much to do. So little time. Time to get serious. Where to start?

The nursery. The sad, sad truth is that we never quite finished the nursery for E. You see, we bought this house in June 2004 and needed to renovate. We did paint the nursery, purchase and assemble a crib, and get the dresser inside. However, we didn't get the bead-board up until she was a year old and we haven't really painted it. The closet door almost closes. We planned to hang Curious George prints, and I almost got them framed. Now we need to move E to a big girl bed in about two months. To do that, we have to acquire said bed, select linens, window treatments, and paint. Then we'll be able to finish painting the nursery. At last.

My text. Yes, it is still waiting. Yes, the publisher is still a bit much to handle. Yes, I'm still very much in avoidance mode. However, I have a coauthor now so I only have to finish three more chapters over the summer. Should be a piece of cake, right? Sure, if I find the discipline to make myself sit down with it. I am so good at finding other things to do. Like shopping. Pondering the meaning of the universe. Taking walks with my little girl. You know, not writing. Somehow, I need to force myself to finish this. I do not want the pesky publisher after me two weeks after I give birth.

The FROG. That is Finished Room Over Garage in real estate language. So what's up with my FROG. Well, it has become a storage facility. There are boxes of bamboo flooring stacked in a corner. There are boxes that have not been opened since we moved two years ago. There are boxes that may not have been opened since we moved to Charleston almost eight years ago. There is baby equipment. Old computers (anyone in the market for super-speedy 486?). I get a headache thinking of what it will take to get this in order. Yet I know that if we are to have visitors, they will need a place to stay. So it is on the list.

The list is longer, but a certain somebody is kicking my bladder and the day is getting old. I think I'll sleep on what I have.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I haven’t been writing too much lately, and we have my students to thank for it. They sucked the life out of me this semester. As if bitching, whining, moaning and practically camping in my office weren’t enough, they wrote horrible papers. Horrible. In the end, I saved my sanity by speed grading.

Speed grading is similar to the old technique of throwing the papers down a flight of stairs and assigning grades according to the piles in which they land. First, I checked whether they had followed formatting directions. Title? Check. Name on title page? Check. ASA citation style and references? Check. Black ink? Check. If they neglected to follow directions, I took at least ten points off for each infraction. You might be surprised by how many lost points this way. (Q: Who turns in a paper printed in red ink? A: The same student who thinks Glamour magazine is an academic source.) Next, I checked to make sure all the sections of the paper were present. Once again, I was shocked by how many students turned in incomplete papers. Finally, I looked at content. It was painful, but I just gave points based on the general quality. Categories included sucks-but-has-its- moments, sucks-bad, and sucks-so-bad-I-am–surprised-you-are-still-in-college. The good news is that I am done. No more students until Fall 2007. I can live with that. Grading bad papers is a bit like childbirth. You forget how awful it was until the next time.

So I am done with school and working through my bitterness. It helps that the provost signed off on my maternity leave and my proposal for modified activities this fall. This was not a certainty because she can be an asshole depending on when paperwork makes it to her. For instance, she signed off on my leave, but denied sabbatical pay for my chair the next day.

What else is happening? I’m growing. It is 25 weeks and four days. The baby has a chance of surviving if born now. Not that I want that, but with my anxiety over this, it seems like I may be able to take a deep breath soon. Maybe.

Here are a few observations about pregnancy a second time. I don’t know if this is normal or if it is just me, but I’ll share.

•More anxiety. Honestly, this is probably pathological at this time. But considering the pronouncements of Dr. Negative and Nurse Joy(less), is it any wonder that I’m a bit of a nutcase? I feel like this is our only shot. I worried while pregnant with E, but not like this. Today, for instance, I was frantically Googling to find out if occasional globs of discharge are OK. I think they are, but maybe not.

•More leg cramps. Which is why I am writing now. I woke up with a dreadful calf and foot cramp and could not fall asleep again. Leg cramps are just cruel. To go instantly from a sound and comfortable sleep to sudden state of alertness in which you quickly realize that your leg and foot are possessed.

•More of me. I’m a few pounds ahead of where I was with the last pregnancy. This is not a problem with my OB because I am in the healthy range for weight gain, but I have to go to the pool and the beach soon. I am not yet at the stage that people will so distracted by my large belly that they will fail to notice my now immense rear end and thighs.

•More fatigue. Well, I am hypothyroid, so that may be a factor. My endocrinologist raised my thyroid dose so I’m hopeful for a little more energy soon.

I am going to try and keep up with this blog a bit more. Thanks for those of you who posted about boys. While I still have fear of squirting, you helped. Really.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

20 weeks and 1 day: Boy Fear

Today we had the big ultrasound. I believe they called it an anatomy check. We turned our heads to keep the gender a secret, but were treated to great images of the brain, heart, kidneys, spine, feet, fingers, legs, and arms. Baby's anatomy checks out. Which is good, of course.

So why am I feeling down? Can I blame my mother? Please?

She called tonight because J sent a couple of shots from the ultrasound. Sweet, sweet stuff. I picked up the phone to, " I think you are having a little boy. It just looks like a boy profile." (My mom doesn't waste much time on pleasantries. She goes straight to whatever is on her mind.)And my heart sank at her pronouncement because I thought the same thing when I was looking at the images. That this profile looks more masculine than Es profile. I've been in a funk ever since her call because I realize that I have a serious case of boy fear. Serious, serious boy fear. I had a touch of this when I was pregnant the first time, but it has grown. Perhaps I think my little girl is so perfect that I can't imagine what I will do with a boy.

Why am I scared of boys? Because they squirt. That is a biggie. Because they are full of energy. Because my friends with boys describe them as "wild ones." Because two of my friends who had boys after girls seem bemused by the whole thing. Because one told me that if she had her boy first she would have stopped there. Because they take longer to potty train. Because I grew up with brothers. Because I am a fearful wuss and the unknown unsettles me.

I am going to spend the next 20 weeks or so worried about this. But the good news is that I won't be worrying about chromosomal problems, and I won't be worrying about a cleft palate, club foot, or a heart or brain abnormality. And I do know that when this little baby emerges, I will think it is the most beautiful and perfect baby ever born regardless of whether it squirts.

Still, I could use a little reassurance here. Moms of boys, help me out here.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

18 Weeks and 4 Days: No Rest for the Weary

Life goes on. And on. And on. And on. . .

  • E has been sick since Wednesday with a flu-like virus. By flu-like, I mean she has many flu symptoms (horrible congestion, high fevers, a cough, and loose diapers) with a negative flu test. We've not gotten much sleep around here the last few days. I guess it is next to impossible to sleep when your nose is either running viciously, totally plugged up, or both. Poor E fell asleep on my chest this morning-- which I note only because this is something Miss Independent hasn't done since she was nine or ten months old. After her fever climbed back to over 102 degrees this afternoon, it was near normal this evening and she seemed more comfortable and happy. Perhaps that will translate to a better night.
  • I'm knee deep in papers and projects at school. I have 41 students who are doing their senior projects under my direction. That might not sound like much, but I have to be part task master, part counselor, and part trouble-shooter. Despite being seniors, many have serious writing deficiencies so I have spent a great deal of time line-editing their drafts.
  • I made a strategic mistake of introducing my publisher to a possible coauthor and she is pushing, really pushing, for us to renegotiate the contract NOW. This although I clearly told her I am too busy to work out a new flow until the semester ends. I hate her. She is the devil. She sent a horrible email basically saying that there was not time to wait on me and that we can just renegotiate my royalties later. Screw that. I have to pull P, the possible coauthor aside this week and share my feelings about this, because I think he is about to get steamrolled.
  • The amnio was fine. We asked that the geneticist not report the gender. Now, somewhere in the bowels of university's medical information system, there is a lab report with that information. Hypothetically, it would be possible for a labor and delivery nurse to pull up that lab report and blow the news five hours before the birth. Hypothetically, that nurse might be named Addy. But, I'm hopeful we can keep it a secret this time.
  • Despite the nice amnio, I remain fearful, still waiting for the other shoe to drop. The baby's heart rate has dropped a bit over the last week and that is making me crazy although I know this is probably normal. I'm having a lot of crampy lower back pain which makes me more than a little nervous even though I know it is probably kidney stone. Braxton Hicks have already started. Wouldn't it be nice if we could take a safe little anti-anxiety pill during pregnancy? A category A prenatal Valium. The market would be huge.
  • My house is dirty. I don't mean messy. I mean dirty. As in floors need vacuuming, kitchen needs to be mopped, and dust-bunnies under major furniture need to be eradicated. Tomorrow, I am going to get J to bundle E up and get her out in the fresh air long enough for me to run the vacuum (of which she is deathly afraid) and mop the floors.
  • I find myself craving a vacation. I didn't know how badly I needed one until we spent two nights away over my Spring Break. This was our first outing as a family that didn't involve coordinating with other family members or friends. It was wonderful to be away sans schedule, sans obligations, sans dogs, sans in-laws, sans squabbling friends. Now I want another week away. That would give us time to get E adjusted to being elsewhere and give us time to really let our hair down.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

13 week and 5 days. Dragging along.

I wish I could say this pregnancy is going quickly, but it isn't. I had expected to be able to post the results of my CVS by now, but the procedure had to be halted because my cervix and uterus are, for lack of a better descriptive, deflicted. I have a short (or was it long?) and crooked cervix, a tipped uterus, and a cervical polyp. I feel so special. Not. Actually, I was so traumatized by the procedure that it has taken me three weeks to write about it.

I bled. I passed clots. I was told the bleeding, clotting and subsequent spotting were due to the polyp and an "irritated" cervix. I'll have to say that my cervix was not irritated, it was pissed. Really, really pissed. And your cervix would be likewise unhappy if someone attached the clamp below (a tenaculum) to it and then tried to snake a catheter up it. A bit of advice: If you ever see one of these puppies coming at your cervix, run away. Fast. Don't say I didn't warn you. Honestly, this was probably the most uncomfortable procedure I have ever had.

This leaves me in a funk. I had hoped by now to have questions of genetic abnormalities answered and any tough decisions behind me. We've rescheduled an amnio for March 1, but we won't have the results until I am 17 weeks. At age 37 there is a 1.5% chance of chromosomal abnormalities. I realize this leaves us with a 98.5% chance of the baby being fine. But still. It would have been nice to know sooner.

Questions about baby's health are just part of my pregnancy funk. Anxiety about miscarrying has also contributed to my blues. I've had cramping on and off since I tested BFP. I haven't had any more bleeding, but the cramping can be intense at times. Rationally, I realize that it is probably just due to the stretching and growing going on down there, but it is worrisome. I think it was gone by this point when I was pregnant with E. Maybe not, but if I did, I am now blocking it out.

Finally, I have so much fear. This is probably compounded by good old fashioned Catholic guilt. I have the gnawing sense that I got here by cheating. My dear cyber friend, Chris, is being put through hell by her REs, others are dealing with too many losses, and here I am on a natural cycle of all things. I feel like the other shoe may drop at any moment.

On the bright side, I have seen the baby at each visit. I've seen the baby at 7 weeks, at 9 weeks, at 10 weeks, at 11 weeks and at 13 weeks. And the little bean is beautiful. Just like its big sister.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

For J, who really deserves higher than a C-

I know you read this. Happy Anniversary and Happy Valentine's Day. I love you because:

  • You always love me back.
  • You are a better father than I could have hoped for.
  • You always know how to make me laugh.
  • You are excited about another baby.
  • You aren't afraid of a pile of laundry.
  • You aren't afraid of Palmetto bugs.
  • You are afraid of miscarriage and something happening to the baby.
  • You share my political views.
  • You tolerate my parents.
  • You are a good uncle.
  • You are my comfort.

Does it seem like 13 years? Already? I hope we have 50 more.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pregancy 2.0

I have shamefully ripped off the title for this post from Lindy. Sorry, Lindy. I am feeling so very uncreative tonight.

I know this post is long overdue, but the news is good so far. I visited my regular OB on the 20th and was able to see the baby again. The baby had grown appropriately and had a nice heartbeat. My OB proclaimed it a "healthy pregnancy" thus far. She also arranged for me to have CVS this week which is the earliest form of genetic screening available to me. With Baby E, I waited for amniocentesis which was done at 16 weeks. This time, I think we are willing to trade the slightly higher risk of miscarriage for the earlier reassurance (or not) of CVS. The test can detect the trisomies and a range of other diseases, but it cannot detect neural tube defects. Later blood tests and later ultrasounds can detect these.

Unlike my first pregnancy, J did not accompany me to the OB appointment. We knew he would likely miss another ultrasound, but we were both OK with it. Because he is an experienced expectant father, he couldn't think of any questions for the doctor. The solo first appointment made me ponder what else is different this pregnancy. Here is what I have come up with so far:

  • Fatigue. I know I was tired with Baby E, but I am exhausted this time around. I don't know if it is the difference between 35 and 37 or just the added bonus of caring for a toddler and trying to keep the house in order, but I am dragging. When does that second trimester wave of energy hit?
  • Feeling less special. I don't want to give J a hard time, but he earns a C- so far on the expectant dad bit. I am, of course, grading him against his prior performance. He was so sweet and attentive when I was pregnant with E. This time, I think he forgets I am gestating. At least he forgets that gestating is WORK. Hard, hard work. Baby E has had a rough sleep week with night waking, early morning wake ups and short naps. Last Wednesday morning, I started crying out of shear fatigue and frustration and J snapped, "Well, I'm tired, too." Damn.
  • Showing, but not showing. I have hit the awkward clothing stage much earlier this time. My body hasn't taken that pregnancy shape yet. My regular clothes are a bit too tight, but maternity wear looks ridiculous. Sadly, I just look bloated and thick. Tonight I ordered some transitional pants and skirts from Old Navy. They are supposed to have hidden elastic bands and I hope they arrive soon.
  • Gas and constipation. Yes, this is too much information, but good grief, what is up with this? I know I wasn't this bloated with E, and I am sure the constipation started much later.
  • Baby Beat is a wonderful thing. I am so glad that we ordered the doppler. I had it last time, too, but this time, it has kept me grounded. The baby can be hard to find, but we've always found the heartbeat. Lovely, lovely sound.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two a.m. and I am wide-awake

It is one of those nights. It was all I could do to stay awake until 10:00 when I surrendered and went to bed. So what am I doing wide-awake? I’m too tired to attempt a coherent narrative so here is a bullet update of my life since I last posted.

• Nurse Joy kissed me. I didn’t see it coming or I would have ducked. Or run. It happened after my second ultrasound last Friday. The scan went well. We saw four limbs (pods, really), a strong heartbeat, and a residual tail (which made me wonder if I am bearing a tadpole). Dr. Negative had a medical student come and meet us and told her, “Here is why we don’t say 0% chance of conceiving to high FSH women.” I had to be a smart-ass and say, “No, they give us so much hope with that less than 1% forecast.” Dr. Negative said I should stay on the progesterone for another week and released me to my OB. Ultrasound in hand, I went to the window to pay for the visit and Nurse Joy came running up and planted one on my cheek. BLECK!

• My toddler may have a split personality. One day, she is all sunshine; smiling, laughing, affectionate, trying all her baby signs, fun. The next, she is stormy weather; whining, crying, screaming, not even attempting to communicate, anti-fun. We are sharing the sitters with another family three days a week. Their little girl EJ is six months old and is a good baby. My E seems at times to be thrilled with the baby, cooing at her, smiling and patting her back “gently.” Other times, she seems insanely jealous. Last week she had a tantrum. Yesterday she chomped on the sitter’s leg as the sitter attended to the baby. Sitter wants detailed instructions on how to handle this, but to be honest, I have no idea what to tell her. Obviously, I want to discourage this behavior, but I’m not entirely certain of what to do.

• I can’t get rid of this book contract. I told my publisher about the pregnancy hoping they might drop me, but they are making accommodations and being nicer than usual. I guess the only solution is to buckle down and get the whole thing written pronto because I do not want this hanging over my head after the baby comes. I will never do another text. Too boring. Too tedious.

•J finally got a CPAP machine. He has sleep apnea and we hadn’t slept in the same room in about a year. I just couldn’t sleep through that anymore and he could sleep through my kicking him, poking him and complaining. But now he has the machine and it is wonderful. He looks like the elephant man getting geared up, but there is virtually no noise. We are back in the same room, which is an adjustment. Normally, if I were up in middle of the night I would read in bed, but it seems impolite to turn on the lights when he is sleeping soundly. Also, I think we need a larger bed. We both learned to take up more space while sleeping apart so we are having some small skirmishes over whose half of the bed we are on.

• We roadtripped and told our families about the pregnancy this weekend. We told J’s family at breakfast by adding ultrasound photos to E’s little scrapbook. She pulled the scrapbook out of her pack and we told her to show her grandparents her pictures. When she got to the last page we said, “And E is going to be a big sister.” We told my family at my nephew’s 5th birthday dinner. We made a gift certificate that said, “The bearer of this certificate is entitled to one cousin redeemable on or about August 22, 2006.” We brought the house down.

• I am trying to work on my worry. I am still constantly stressed about the what ifs of early pregnancy, but I’m trying to focus on the good news and stay positive. I should get a BabyBeat heart monitor in the mail tomorrow. I’ll try to remind myself that nine weeks may be too early to find a heartbeat with it, but I know we’ll try.

• My classes are going well. I have one bozo in my social issues class who believes we should invade North Korea and “take care of things.” He also thinks the homeless guy who was beaten to death in Florida deserved it because he was bugging people by panhandling. Fortunately, the other students seem like a good bunch. My two quantitative practicum sections are off to a good start.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Chronicles of Nannia

I returned to work one year ago this week when Baby E was three months old. I told myself that I was lucky to have been able to be home for three months. I told myself that E was lucky to be able to stay home with sitters. I told myself we would all survive. I dressed carefully that first day-- pressed khakis, black shirt, coordinating jewelry, and matching bag and shoes-- I thought it would give me confidence to keep going. As I was walking out the door, I embraced E one last time before I left maternity leave and joined the legions of working moms.* She promptly spit up all over me.

I had to make a quick change into an outfit that left me feeling less together and more bereft. I cried on my way to the campus and looked terrible by the time for my first class. Is there a moral to this story? I can’t think of one. I think, instead, that it served as an omen of things to come. My plans, however carefully laid, never seem to come to fruition when it comes to childcare. It is as if I am off from the rest of the band by a half beat. I think other women manage this better than me and I am at a loss as to how I went so wrong.

You’ll probably want to nominate me for the worst mom EVER award when you hear this: Over the last year, Baby E has had nine caretakers. That is right. Nine caretakers in 12 months. Bad mommy. Bad.

Here is the list:

Nanny L (four months): An undergraduate who watched Baby E two days a week last spring. She wasn’t a natural, but she only missed one day due to illness and she tried her best. Baby E wouldn’t nap for Nanny L (who was incapable of letting her fuss), but this really seems like a small issue now. Nanny L left after final exams.

Nanny J (Three months): The best. She was here until last May when she got nanny position in Colorado. The oldest of seven children, she was a natural. She sat for us 2-3 days a week in the spring. I would have kept her forever, but some rich Winter Park family can pay her more.

D (Two-three weeks): Notice I don’t call her a nanny. She started the job and then told me that she needed knee surgery and wouldn’t be able to lift the baby “for a while.” She went home to recover and never came back.

S (Eight weeks): This is one of D’s friends. She did very well with E, but could only sit for a month.

C (Eight weeks): Another friend of D. Pretty good with the baby, but she left after the first summer session.

Mommy J (Three months): A mom with a baby two months younger than E. An attachment parent.** I thought the attachment parent thing was a huge plus because E would get attention and not be lefy to cry, but it turned out that watching two children was too difficult and stressful. Mommy J was still waking four times a night to nurse and was completely exhausted. She couldn’t get her daughter to nap during the day without lying down with her, which was a problem with a second baby in the house. E started coming home dirty, stressed, and unhappy. We ended that in October. Mommy J is currently seeking employment outside the home.

Nanny M (Two months): Found her on Craig’s List. I didn’t get a good or bad gut feeling about her, but her references were excellent. She didn’t want to work fulltime so she brought her (then) friends Nanny S and Nanny J on board. I fired Nanny M two weeks ago after coming home early and discovering that she wasn’t being truthful.

Nanny S (Two months and counting): Almost fired her when she went to jail for slugging Nanny M, but I’m glad I gave her another try.

Nanny J2 (Two months and counting): Right now, I am not pleased with her but I’m trying to be understanding because I need her. She called today to say that she is A) Stuck in the Midwest with a useless Independence Air*** ticket and is B) “really sick”. Nanny J2 is supposed to be sitting this entire week because Nanny S has her parents in town. However, we are scrambling again because if she is still sick when she finds a return flight on another carrier, I don’t want her infecting Baby E who is recovering from a bad cold and ear infection. So J is checking his schedule, I’m trying to figure out exactly how much time I have between my 10:40 and 4:00 Tuesday classes.

You’ll notice that there are no daycares in this scenario. That is because when I was pregnant the first time and idealistic, I thought that daycares were impersonal and not good enough for my baby. I did not investigate centers. I did not sign Baby E up. I’ve changed my mind on daycare. I am still wary of most centers and my children will never go to Kisti’z Krazy Kidz Kottage, but I see advantages to daycare now. First, while I know daycares have turnover, I don’t think they can top my turnover rate. Second, there is more socialization at daycare. E is an extremely outgoing child so this would be good for her, I think. Third, there would be more oversight. No more coming home early to discover a nanny behaving badly. Forth, there would be a backup system. If one caregiver were ill, there would be another. Finally, the cost would be less of a financial burden. Not that I would let econ0mics alone determine childcare arrangements, but it says something that we spend more on nanny pay than we do on our house payment. We need to be saving.

Baby E is on the waiting lists at two good centers (the only two I could stomach) and it looks like we should have a spot this summer. I’ve already signed little brother or sister up for next January. I know I’ll have second thoughts, but I’ll try to remember the Chronicles of Nannia and go through with it.

*What does this mean, anyway? I worked my ass off those first few months.

**I’m not an attachment parent myself as I am very much into gentle scheduling and very much not into co-sleeping, but I don’t have a problem with it. I think a good parent is one who is at ease with her parenting philosophy of choice.

***How could she be unaware that they were no longer flying? Have I really hired someone who does not read a newspaper, listen to the radio, or have any idea of what is going on in national, regional or local news?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Peace, prosperity and happiness to you. May your fondest wishes come true this year.

Now can someone please tell my pyromaniac, firework-obsessed neighbors enough already?