The Texture Of Things

History

January 20th, 2009

Dear Tater and Tot,

When you are old enough to wonder about these days, I want to be able to tell you about them.

Today, America changed. Today, America saw its first African American President Inaugurated. This is an important moment in our history because it is a first, a door opening for future Americans.

When you ask me where you were when it happened, I will tell you this. We were in our living room, watching it on tv. I had been walking Tater around to get him to settle into a nap while I listened to the coverage on the kitchen radio. Tot, you stayed home from preschool with a cold, so you were kneeling at the ottoman in your rainbow-striped jammies. When I asked you if you wanted to see it, you said yes.

“Barack Obama will become President today. Do you want to watch?”
“Yes.” So I turned off the kid shows and put on a news channel.

We watched a poet and a prayer and a performance and a President, and that was that.

While it was a momentous occasion, I didn’t make a big deal over it, my little ones, because I don’t want it to ever be a big deal that America can elect someone who isn’t white or male or a member of a major political party. I am glad that for the whole of your lives, a President who also happens to be a minority will simply be within normal limits. I am hopeful that by the time you are both voting age, what a person is will not matter as much as what she or he stands for, as it has so often in our past.

It is a good dream to have, for all of us.

Love,
Mama

‘Tis a Christmas Miracle

December 26th, 2008

A few days ago, I contemplated posting that all I wanted for Christmas was some fricking sleep already, but I didn’t get to it because, well, I can’t seem to get to my computer these days.

And then Santa came to my house and brought me a Christmas Eve present of one 4.5 hour stretch of sleep by Tater, followed by a 3 hour stretch. Heaven. And then there was the unexpected Christmas night gift of the longest night of sleep we’ve had since Tater joined us. He slept 7 hours, and I got about 6.5 hours of that.

Holy crap, I heart Santa.

That probably doesn’t sound all that bad, but when contrasted with the sleep we’ve been getting, it truly is a small miracle.

A typical night has been looking like this:
*Tater nurses to sleep for the night around 10:30 p.m.
*He wakes between 1 and 1:45 a.m.
*He nurses and is back to sleep within a half an hour
*He wakes again between 4 and 5 a.m. and is up for about a half an hour
*and is up again between 6:15 and 7. (This last stretch can be lengthened if I sit up holding him instead of putting him in his crib.)

On the good end of that spectrum, that works out to a 3 hour stretch, a 3 hour stretch, and a 2 hour stretch, but that never happens. It’s usually more like, 3, 2, and 1.5, and then I just stay up because I have to take the tot to preschool and the coffee is already made*. If I’m not lucky (and believe me, this is all about luck – he’s not deliberately trying to kill me by sleep deprivation.) (Shut up and let me believe that), his night is 30 minutes, 2.5 hours, 2 hours, and 4 more if I hold him.

When I was pregnant with the tot, I used to hate all the people who told me that having to get up to pee two or three times a night was preparing me for getting up with a baby. I hated this for two reasons. First, I don’t know about you, but I can get up, pee, and get back in bed in under 5 minutes and without having to fully wake up. Getting up with a baby? Not so easy to do while sleepwalking. Second, (I heard this somewhere, loved it, and adopted it) it’s the equivalent of preparing for a famine by dieting. Um, no thanks.

With Tater, I started waking up to pee much earlier in the pregnancy than with the tot, and the chronic sleep disruption was compounded this time by insomnia that would hit me after my 3-4 a.m. pit stop. While lying awake in the wee hours, I began to see the kernel of truth in what all those well-meaning people were saying. The truth is this: the getting up to pee at all hours of the night doesn’t so much prepare you for taking care of an infant in the night as it breaks your spirit. In those late nights and early mornings of my pregnancy, I had to hand myself over to the sandman. I had to accept that I had no control over when I’d need to wake up or when I’d get to go back to sleep. I could use all my best tricks, but when it came down to it, it was no longer my choice.

The postpartum sleep deprivation is easier this time around for this very reason. I know and accept that I’m at this little person’s mercy, at least for a while yet. And the fact that I know it won’t last forever helps. (The tot did eventually sleep in stretches longer than 4 hours, though I don’t care to think about how old she was when that finally happened or what it took to get there [anemia].)

So that’s that. I’m tired, so very, very tired. But on the whole, we’re doing well. Tater is an adorable baby and a happy boy who seems bent on learning to talk already. The Tot is a doting big sister, even when she’s infected with every god-forsaken cold virus her preschool pals insist on sharing with her. (Preschool. Ugh.)

Stay tuned for more. I think now that Tater is starting to sit up a bit on his own I won’t have to hold him quite so much, which will free my hands for teh typing.

*HG programs it the night before, and I love him for it.

Checking In

October 16th, 2008

I’ve been under the radar since just before the baby was born, and I didn’t mean to be. So, I’m posting this to let everyone who reads here know that:
1. The Boy was born, healthy, squalling, and PISST at being evicted. I guess he hadn’t gotten the news about all the recent foreclosures.

2. We are home and as well as can be. My recovery is not all rose petals and champagne, like I remembered it (or, like I mis-remembered it), but all the pieces-parts seem to be in the right place and I’m not hemorrhaging, so that’s good.

3. The tot is an amazing child, and we couldn’t be more impressed with how she’s handling the interloper.

4. The cats are not impressed by anything.

5. I think we’re going to try Tater as the boy’s blogonym to see how it fits. If it doesn’t, we might just stick with The Boy. Not sure yet.

6. It was very important to me to be able to breastfeed this child, and so far it’s going okay. Not awesome, but okay. Tater was tongue-tied, which we got clipped, but nursing is still hurty. But still! Nursing! I never got to say that with the tot.

Now, why would I tell you that I’ve chosen to feed the boy with my boobs? Because it’s connected to my three favorite times with this baby so far, and I’d like to share those.

Story A:
I hadn’t been home from the hospital long, so HG was still helping me get situated when Tater would need to nurse. Tater was squawking and HG was soothing. I got seated and popped my top, at which point HG lowered the baby so as to hand him to me. Tater was still squawking, until he saw my boob. He saw it, did a double-take, and his expression went from “I! AM! SO! PISST!” to “Oh! Hello, friend!” in a microsecond.

Awesome.

Story B:
I was holding Tater in the football hold while nursing him the other day. The football hold means the baby is lying next to me with his feet pointed back and his head is at my breast. My arm is wrapped around him like I ought to be posing for the next Heisman trophy carving session. In this position, he was able to look across the breast in his maw to see the other one, and I’m certain he was making eyes at it. I’m not kidding. Like, “Hey, maybe we can get together some time” + bats eyelashes.

I have never been quite so popular in my life as I am right now.

Story C:
This is, when I’m lucky, a repeating episode. In the morning, after he fills his gigantic stomach and falls into a milk coma, I put him on my shoulder and listen to him sigh. Only newborns make this sound, and I’m trying to enjoy every moment of it since this will be the last baby in this house. It’s a sort of rhythmic hanh hanh hanh that comes through his nose but sounds like he’s forming it with an open mouth. It is the same sound the tot made and it is just about the best sound in the world.

Dos: It’s a Yob

September 30th, 2008

My last OB visit yesterday went well. It was surprisingly without the emotional climax I had expected from myself at the beginning of this pregnancy. It was, well, an appointment with just a little fanfare. My OB danced into the room, singing, “This is it! This is your last visit!” I think the docs there are all a little surprised I went full-term, with no emergencies or terrible worries. Me, too, quite honestly.

So today, I offer you all a prize for waiting so long for me to tell you we’re having a yob. I mean, a boy.


Chuck Jones was a genius.

If I had been able to find it, the video I’d have provided would not have been Rocket Bye Baby. It would have been an old commercial, which basically went like this:

A man is at a payphone in a hospital. He tells the operator he’d like to make a collect call.
The operator asks who is calling.
He replies, “Bob Wehadababyitsaboy.”
She says, “One moment, sir.”
The phone rings in the family room of an older couple. The husband is reading a newspaper and the wife is knitting. The husband picks up.
The operator asks, “Would you like to accept a call from Bob Wehadababyitsaboy?”
He says, “No, thanks” and hangs up.
As he returns to his newspaper, the wife stops knitting and asks, “Who was that, dear?”
He rattles his newspaper back into reading shape and nonchalantly says, “It’s Bob. They had a baby. It’s a boy.”
With a simple “Ah,” she returns to knitting.

And that, my friends, is exactly how you can expect to find out the baby’s been born because I’m totally not spending my daytime cell minutes calling all y’all.

I kid, I kid.

C-section scheduled for Friday morning. OB agrees with me that I’ll make it that far because the baby is still floating high, high, high, and my cervix is locked down tighter than a, well, a something that is locked down really, really tightly.

That’s all, folks!

In between

September 27th, 2008

Update below.

The last few days of my life with my daughter are evaporating before my eyes. There just isn’t enough time and she needs me so much right now. Of course, she needs me so much because of the impending change, but that’s logic and right now, logic plays a role in the chorus in this production while emotions take center stage.

Going to bed has been ever harder for the tot in the last half a year. Once she had gotten a good routine down for night-night, she’s almost always gone to bed easily. Some age-appropriate nonsense, but all do-able. The occasional struggle. The once-in-a-blue-moon stay awake for over an hour in there, cripes, will she just go to sleep already? Then she hit the age where imagination gets unwieldy and night shadows started to scare her. We developed a few coping strategies (an LED flashlight that can stay on all night and not get hot, a “game” of spraying monster repellent anywhere she deems necessary, and a reminder that monsters are in our imagination so the repellent really works), but those are not enough right now.

She has a new routine of getting very sad when it’s time to turn on the flashlight and turn out the story-reading lamp. She says she’s afraid. Afraid of what? I ask. She cannot tell me. We spray for monsters and I go to the door, where I’m hit with a long series of delays. “Wait, mama! Don’t go! Wait! I want to tell you something.”

“Tell me one thing,” I say.

She hems and haws and makes up a nonsensical tidbit. I keep my response short and to the point and turn to leave.

“Don’t go!” She closes her eyes and half-cries. “I’m having a bad dream!”

“You’re not asleep, so it cannot be a bad dream. Tell me what you are thinking about.”

“I’m scared!”

“Of what?”

But she can never name what she is scared of. She just wants to keep me there.

A week or two ago, I introduced an incentive program to reduce the incredible stalling and resistance that now accompanies the getting-ready-for-bed routine. If she could do it all and do it cooperatively, I’d lie down in bed with her. I knew this would be a great temptation since a sleeping companion is what she craves during the nights when she has nightmares. It worked a few times, but lately we are back to the resistance, so the first threat of loss of privilege is to lose the incentive. After that, I take away one story at a time, based on how much time she’s wasted. Last night, I saw that I might have the consequences weighted backwards.

She refused to get her jammies on repeatedly, until she lost the privilege of my lying down with her. When it came time for me to leave the room, we had the customary “I’m scared”/”Of what?” exchanges, and I told her to lie down and think happy, sleepy thoughts and I would be back in five minutes to check on her. (I always go back, sometimes in ten minutes, and she is always asleep, so it’s not like she’s having a simple case of the “can’t-turn-my-brain-off-for-sleep”.)

At about seven minutes post-promise, I went back there. I opened the door, and she didn’t stir. I waited to listen to her breathe, but it was so quiet that I couldn’t hear her. I saw her lovey positioned to fall off the bed, so I risked it and went all the way in to her bed.

When I moved her lovey to a more secure position, the tot grasped her more firmly and muttered in her sleep, “scared…. scared…”. Then she opened her eyes a bit, saw me, and sat up.

I couldn’t just leave, so I climbed in bed with her and told her to lie down, close her eyes, and keep breathing. How could I not?

I lay there while she drifted back into sleep and it dawned on me that the reason she cannot name what she is scared of is because she is scared of the unknown. But she’s four, so she doesn’t have the words for that yet. Crap, I’m thirty-five and I can’t always put my finger on it.

I lay there and thought about the presidential debate on tv in the other room. I thought about a baby who is coming, whom we don’t know, whom I can’t love until I meet him, and I thought about the world falling to pieces in a giant clusterfuck made worse by politics and who’s going to be left holding the remains? I thought about all the things that are going to happen and we just can’t know how hard it’s going to be until they get here, and I thought, I’m scared too, baby. I’m scared too.

I am holding on to the few days we have left as a family in this shape, waiting both eagerly and apprehensively for the change that is coming. It is a purgatory I never could have imagined until now.

Update.
I wrote this before anyone else in the house got up. When the tot got up, I asked her if she remembered waking up or me lying down in bed with her the night before, and – for better or for worse – she did not.

Top Ten All Time Foods

September 25th, 2008

The following is a list of foods I want to eat after this pregnancy and its attending diabeetus are over. In no particular order.

* Peanut Buster Parfait from Dairy Queen; would also accept that one sundae from Ritters with pecans and caramel
* Sweet and Sour Chicken from our local Chinese food joint or the one from my home town; would also accept Sesame Chicken from our second favorite local Chinese joint
* Ground beef and cheese burritos (with sides of beans and cole slaw) from HG’s favorite Mexican restaurant, with salsa
* Hungry Hippies pizza (pepperoni, green pepper, and onion with butter crust) and Three Cheeser bread
* Sugar-full Lemonade; would also accept orange juice
* Hi-test Mocha with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles; would also accept other flavors but nothing sugar-free
* Onion Rings from our local hotel bar, with dipping sauce
* Wine
* Pie
* IHOP

Okay, let’s talk about these last three.
Wine: I have found that I can make a beefy spaghetti sauce that, in combination with whole wheat pasta, does not make my blood sugar soar. But! No garlic bread or Chianti. That just sucks. I mean, I just want one glass of wine. (Here’s me cry-babying about it: a-WAAH!)

Pie: Let me make this as clear as possible. I DON’T EVEN LIKE PIE. Some fruit pie, about once a year or every other year, is fine. I do prefer berries, but at this point, if someone offered me a slice of apple pie with the assurance I could eat the whole thing while my pancreas cooperated and my placenta looked the other way, OMFG, I’d even eat apple pie.

IHOP: For years, literally years, I have longed for an IHOP close to my home. Then? IHOP waited until I was pregnant and on the doorstep of teh pregnancy diabeetus before they opened one. Rat Bastards. So now, I’ve been salivating for months over the thought of going to IHOP as soon as I can travel out the house to eat one of everything off the menu, including pancakes, WHICH I DON’T EVEN LIKE. Waffles and French Toast, on the other hand, I love, and I am so totally going to eat those. Totally.

omg, i’m so hungry right now.

Edited to add:
OMG, HOW COULD I FORGET?!
*Bonus food – cider mill cider and spice donuts from ANY-FREAKIN-WHERE

Close Call

September 23rd, 2008

No, I have not had the baby yet. That is not the close call.

This morning, the tot stayed home from preschool with the ever-beloved pink-eye. While we were sorting laundry in my bedroom, I noticed a gift box I had forgotten about. In it was a blanket and woobie for the baby. The tot saw the woobie and wanted to claim it. I reminded her it was for the baby and besides, she already had two identical woobies from when she was a baby. I fetched* them from the closet and reclaimed the new ones.

On an aside, I happened to mention that I want to have the blanket and woobie embroidered with the baby’s name, and instantly the tot determined that her woobie needs her name on it.

:sigh:
Of course, child – you can have your name on your woobie, too.

(Look, it’s not like I’m paying for it – my mom does it – so all’s equitable in love and embroidery, in this house anyway.)

So, because my mom was stopping by for other stuff today and because my four-year-old has a one-track mind (she gets it from her father or she’s 4, I’m not sure which plays a stronger role in this) and because I’m just trying to get every loose end tied up before the baby comes, I met my mother at the door with the woobies and blanket for names. I was all, Please take them TODAY. NO WAITING ALLOWED.

Cue HG’s scream of despair.

Why despair? Because we have an agreement that we will not reveal the newbie’s name until said newbie is born.

Happily, however, I had a moment of clarity and did not give the baby’s blanket and woobie to my mother. As a matter of fact, I believe I said, “Oh. I can’t give you these yet because I’m not telling you the name.”

She was, to say the very very least, bummed that I didn’t slip up.** But, for now anyway, our secret remains safe.

Whew.

*Is it just me, or does it seem like the past participle for “fetch” should be “fought”? Just me? I thought so.

**Why do we have this policy? Because the people in our life are relentlessly critical people who take every chance they can get to tell a pair of parents to be why the name they’ve chosen is terrible and why they must change it to – and then they provide a list of “acceptable” names. Keeping the name a secret until the child’s birth does not, as we learned with the tot, prevent all the mean and hurtful statements about the name in question, but it does make it harder to fall prey to their demands to change it to – oh god, anything but that. I highly recommend the method, but I do caution that it doesn’t prevent every possible complaint.

Weight, Weight.

September 17th, 2008

The up side to seeing approximately one hundred different doctors during this pregnancy is that I know I’m well-watched. Being watched so carefully calms me because if something starts to go wrong, odds are good someone will catch it more quickly than if I were not required to check in, say, forty times a week. This is important to me since had it not been for a non-stress test gone bad, the tot could have easily been a stillborn. And it was coincidence that I was even there for the NST, having been told earlier by the specialists at the hospital to go home and enjoy some good old fashioned bedrest. It was a “what the hell?” moment when I decided to go ahead and do the NST, seeing as how I was there and already scheduled for it. I mean, I could go home and enjoy that bedrest just as well in about an hour, right? So why not?

Egad, man. Talk about luck.

The down side to seeing approximately one hundred different doctors is that none of them agree on anything. Heck, ask just one of them what they believe are the three highest priorities for an obese woman with gestational diabetes. Go on. Ask one. My primary OB told me the following at my 10-week check up:
*Keep your weight gain down to 10-15 pounds total
*Keep your blood sugars under control, starting by following a diabetic diet (but moving to insulin, if required)
*But, don’t diet or restrict your food intake because you have to feed the baby

Okay, let’s try again, Doc. How about two out of three? No? What do you mean, “No, all three are equally important”?

Sweet Jebus, have you seen how many calories a pregnant chick is supposed to eat? Even for an obese woman, the recommended diet is 2200 calories. 2200! Who eats that much?! But I’m not supposed to gain more than 15 pounds?

What-Ever.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here is how the weight a woman gains during pregnancy breaks down:
* Baby: 7 to 8 pounds
* Larger breasts: 1 to 3 pounds
* Larger uterus: 2 pounds
* Placenta: 1 1/2 pounds
* Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
* Increased blood volume: 3 to 4 pounds
* Increased fluid volume: 2 to 3 pounds
* Fat stores: 6 to 8 pounds

(For the record, mah bay-bee is on track to weigh about 7.5 pounds at birth.)

So, erase the fat stores – I’ve got that covered – and we’re talking about 18.5 to 23.5 pounds. If I’m only supposed to gain 10-15 pounds, but growing a baby requires roughly 20, I find myself a little confused about how the medical community defines “Don’t Diet While Pregnant.”

Big, dumb jerks.

So, when I met the dietitian, I asked her opinion: which 2 of 3 seemed the most important to her? She paused not at all and said, “Forget about the weight gain. Feed your body, feed the baby, worry about weight loss after the baby is here.” I decided right then that I love her, and I tossed all expectations of keeping my weight down out the window.

And this is the part you’ve been waiting for. So far, my net weight gain is 6 pounds. Six. I was up eight, but then I lost two pounds in two weeks.

FTW?

For reference, when the tot was born at 34.5 weeks, I had gained 16 pounds but lost 5 in the few days right before she was born. Currently, I’m 37.5 weeks, and I’ve gained about what I normally pack on over a weekend when I’ve made Christmas cookies. (I get weighed again tomorrow, so we’ll see how my eating like a maniac this last week has affected my poundage.) What did I do? I ignored the doctor, listened to the dietitian, walked on my treadmill a bunch, and resolved to consider my weight at check up a non-issue, like the pee test for protein. It’s either bad or it isn’t, and I’m not worrying about it until red flags start flying up.

So far, so good.

Six pounds. Really? I know – I surprised myself too.

Homestretch

September 9th, 2008

I haven’t posted a lot about being pregnant (or about anything lately, really), and that’s been mostly out of being busy and in denial. Busy: I’ve been getting stuff ready, taking care of the tot, nesting, etc. Denial: I’ve been trying to focus on the tot in these last few months, weeks, days of being a three-person family and I’ve spent hardly any time navel gazing, which is about all I did the first go around. (Ask HG. He’ll tell you that my primary response to “What’d ya do today?” when I was pregnant with the tot was “Gestate. You?”) The denial has been easy, since the tot is a busy, active child with a schedule outside of this house and family. (Dance, preschool, OT. Oh, I need a nap just thinking about it all.)

Still, it’s hard. And I don’t really mean the heartburn, the diabetes, the not-being-able-to-pick-anything-up-off-the-floor, the ligament pain. Yeah, that sucks, but really, it’s harder to sit here and not wonder what exactly I’ve done to my happy little family of three. Hard to sit here and wonder how the next few months are going to play out and simply not know. Hard to sit here and not wonder about how I’ll manage or if I’ll somehow find a deeper level of energy inside my carcas to pull me through during the times when I don’t have help. (There will be help, right?) (Egad, don’t answer that. I’m not sure I want to know.)

But there’s not much time left for wondering or worrying, for better or for worse. My due date is October 5, but because of the diabeetus, the docs want me to deliver a week before that. I’ve known this all along, but now that it’s close, it feels weird. This Friday, I’ll go to my next doctor’s appointment and have to negotiate a day for the baby to be born. In no way does this feel normal. Perhaps this is just the point on the path where, although I’ve bought in to a medical model of birth (for me), I’m keeping one foot on the natural model’s path. Babies come when they come, don’t they? Why should I even expend the energy to construct an argument for when this baby should come? There is no logic that can carry that argument. But I will have to choose, or have the doctor choose for me, and that will be that.

I don’t know what my point is here. I guess I’m just saying that my bags are packed and I’m as ready as anyone ever can be. So if you ask me what I did today, my answer is the same as yesterday’s: just gestatin’.

Oh. Oh, that’s one more for the list.

August 24th, 2008

I have an unwritten list of the things that give me heartburn. Before I got pregnant with the tot, I never knew the privilege of being somewhere, doing something, and being suddenly overcome with a reflux burp that carried with it all the charm of door-to-door magazine solicitor. And, lucky me, that was a souvenir I got to keep after her birth, although reduced in its ferocity.

*:burp:*

excuse me.

As I was saying, heartburn. Oh god, it’s worse this time. While I don’t remember all of my trigger foods from the time of the tot, I know that the foods that stayed on as major offenders after her birth included:
coffee
oatmeal (worse if paired with coffee)
bananas
toast

Yes, bananas and toast.

Pardon me for phrasing it this way, but who the fuck gets heartburn from toast? It’s ridiculous.

Now, of course, the list is everything again, or almost everything. I think there must be a few things that don’t stoke the fires, but I’ll tell you that when I decided to treat myself this afternoon to something I haven’t had in years, I most certainly did NOT expect to be suffering some six hours later.

The culprit?

A Grape Faygo soda. Diet, of course. (Thanks, Diabeetus!)

On a “normal” day in the pregnancy-hood, I get by with the help of a Z@nt@c 150 in the morning and about 6-8 Extra Strength Tums across the course of the day. Today? I needed another 150 in the evening and I’ve eaten 10 ES Tums in 5 hours.

Screw you, Faygo. I never liked Grape anyway and the diet version sucked. (I’m more of a Red Pop or Rock & Rye girl, to be honest.)

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