Monday, August 30, 2010

A really, really scary night

I think I can safely say that last night was one of the worst nights of my life. Definitely one of the scariest.

L has been having a rough month, health-wise. He had a very high fever (101-103 degrees) at the beginning of August, but no other symptoms. I took him to the doctor, and he advised me to just give him Tylenol and cool baths and monitor the situation, that there was really nothing else to do. Then, at the end of that week, L developed a cough and runny nose. Since it was the weekend, I took him to the Urgent Care at the ER my mother-in-law works at. They prescribed him amoxicillin and we were on our way.

Then, this past Saturday, my mom went in to get him when he woke up in the morning and she was insisting that something seemed off with him. We took his temperature throughout the morning and early afternoon, and it was normal. But he was very sleepy and clingy, so we knew something was wrong. Then, my mom and I went to the mall with him. He seemed ok, but just pretty unhappy. When we got home, we took his temperature again and it was 102.4.

We started giving him Tylenol and put him in a cool bath, which seemed to bring it down. He was still acting pretty normal, so I wasn't too worried. I just figured if he was still sick on Monday, I'd take him to the doctor. On Sunday, it was pretty high still, so we continued with the baths and Tylenol. It always brought the fever down, and from the research I'd done, this was a good sign. Every single thing I read told me that a fever without other symptoms, and one that could be brought down with home treatments, was not one to be alarmed over.

Still, since his fever had persisted all weekend, and wasn't showing signs of going by Sunday evening, I decided I'd take this afternoon (Monday) off work to take L to the doctor. D had to do lawns, so we arranged for L to be juggled between D, my mom, and myself.

L seemed fine before we put him to bed. He was crawling around and playing, he was eating and drinking normally (with his usual hearty appetite), and was not super feverish. So we put him down and he went to sleep.

Normally on work nights, I try to go to bed by 10 or 10:30, but since I've been getting into cross stitching a Christmas stocking for L, I've been obsessively working on it every night and staying up late. It was D's first night off work after his swing, so we decided to watch a movie. We ended up going to bed around 11, but got hooked on an episode of House, so we watched it in bed.

At around 11:30, we both heard L over the monitor. He was making fussy noises, but they seemed different than usual. D and I started talking about whether we should go in to check him or not. I was of the camp that we should not, since he normally just crawls around looking for his paci and then goes to sleep. D wanted him to be checked on, but he wanted me to do the checking. Finally, D agreed to go check on him.

About 5 seconds after he got in there, he came back into our room and told me to come. I wasn't actually very worried, because D has done this before and everything had been fine. But I got up anyway and went into L's room.

When I got in there, L was all huddled up in the corner of his crib. It's so hard to describe how he looked. He was rigid but floppy, laying straight but curled up. He was breathing heavily and he was burning up. I tried to reach in for him, but since we've lowered the crib mattress, I'm having a much harder time taking him out of the crib, so I told D to get him.

When D grabbed him, L flopped over backwards in his arms as if he were a newborn again, with no head or neck control. His eyes rolled back in his head and his little body felt like he was on fire. D handed him to me and L's eyes were vacant and staring at me in a way I'll never be able to erase from my mind. He was completely non-responsive and was twitching around in my arms. I ran for the thermometer and it read 103.6. I was trying to hold L in a comforting way against my chest, and when I pulled him away, he had drooled all over his face and my tank top.

I burst into my parents' room, and my mom woke up and took L from me. She told me to get a cool bath running and she started to undress him. We put him in the tub, which normally would cause him to cry and protest, but he just sat there like a zombie. His eyes were open but he wasn't there. We had to support him to sit up. My mom laid him down in the water and held his head above so he wouldn't be fully submerged, and we just continued to dump cool water all over him. Finally, he started crying.

I told my mom to take him out so we could take him to the ER. She told my dad to go downstairs to get ice in bags so we could keep him cool on the ride. She started putting a diaper on him and D and I ran to our room to get dressed. It's funny where your mind takes you in a crisis. Like your brain tries to get you to focus on minutia so you don't go completely insane by realizing what you're dealing with. I kept thinking about how I didn't have any make-up on and how everyone would see how broken out my skin is. I kept grabbing t-shirts that belonged to D, and obviously they would have worked, but I was determined to find one of my own t-shirts to wear.

We raced to the van and my mom and I climbed in the back to sit with L. He was slightly less delirious, but he was still shaking his head from side to side, obviously feeling miserable. I stroked his hair and sang to him, which seemed to calm him down. The ER we went to is only about 5 minutes from our house, but it felt like an eternity. I kept seeing D looking in the rear-view at us. He was such a rock through this all. I know he was terrified, but he was so strong and stable.

I kept wanting to cry, but I knew I had to be the mom. I knew that if I let the tears start, they wouldn't stop and I wouldn't be any use to anyone. When we got to the ER, D and I got out and I asked my mom to park the van. I grabbed L and tried to run into the ER, but they had those stupid rotating doors that move like 1/2 a mile an hour.

There was a security guard at the entrance and he asked if we needed to be seen. I said, "Yes, it's an emergency." I instantly knew what an idiot I sounded like because, duh, we were at the Emergency Room. Of course it's an emergency. You don't go to the ER at midnight on a Sunday if it's not an emergency.

He directed us to registration, and I was a little bit put-off. I had expected it to be more like a tv show, where you burst into the ER and say, "My baby is sick!" and they rush you right back. But no, we had to register first.

So we went over to the registration desk and the girl asked if the emergency was for me or "her" (meaning L). I said, "It's for him." And she said, "Oh him, ok."

I started describing what had happened, waiting to be rushed back, and she said, "Well he looks ok now. What's his birth date?"

And at that moment, it took most of what I had left in me not to throat punch her. Oh great! He looks ok now. Thank you for your astute medical evaluation, registration clerk. Yes, he must be ok. Truly, we just felt like taking an evening jaunt to the local ER and L was like, "Oh mommy, let me come!" so we said, "Ok, we can pretend you're sick."

So she sent us to the waiting area to wait, and I got even more upset. This is an e-mer-gen-CY. EMERGENCY. My 10 month old son basically just seized in my arms and we are sitting here in the waiting room. And we waited for 20 minutes.

Finally, this guy calls us over to evaluate L and he seemed like he could truly not care any less about what he was doing. L was starting to seem more like his old self by this point, and the guy just looked at us like we were wasting his time on purpose. All I could think about was how we should have just called a damn ambulance. Maybe then everyone would have been taking this a bit more seriously. They don't send the ambulance to the waiting room. They don't give the ambulance the "stop wasting my time" eyes.

After the most agonizing half-hour of my life, we finally went back to our "room". A nurse came and gave L Motrin, which really seemed to do the trick. I could literally feel his body cooling in my arms. By that point, my mom knew it was a febrile seizure, since I'd had one when I was L's age. (It's basically a seizure brought on by a high fever that is usually an isolated incident, and not caused or brought on by epilepsy or brain infection.) The doctor came and confirmed it, and we spent much of our time waiting in our "room" for things to happen. Overall, I'd say we spent about 15 minutes total interacting with people and 2 hours waiting.

We have an appointment with L's doctor this afternoon, and I don't really expect to get much out of it, honestly. Thank God, L's fever was pretty much gone this morning. (Of course, neither D nor I could put him back in his crib last night. We set up the Pack-n-Play in our room and he slept there.) We are keeping up the Tylenol and Motrin to make sure the fever stays away.

I still had a hard time sleeping last night. I kept beating myself up with the what-ifs. What if D had not been home and I had stupidly not checked on him? That was the worst one. Knowing that I probably wouldn't have checked on him as quickly if D had not been home, and knowing that that decision would have caused L to continue seizing in his crib. I literally have to push that thought out of my mind every time it surfaces because it brings tears to my eyes.

I am so thankful that D was home. I am so thankful that L is ok. It was such a scary night, and most of all, I'm just thankful that it's over.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Anti-Day of Days

It's taken a lot of deep, cleansing breaths to get myself to the point where I feel able to write this post.

I don't know if you were ever like me, but when I was a kid, I would much rather have had my parents angry at me than disappointed in me. If they were angry, it was almost always something fleeting and minor: I left my empty cup on the coffee table for the umpteenth time; I had 2 zillion pairs of shoes scattered by the front door; My room was a disaster.

But disappointment was a much deeper feeling. Like I had shattered all their beliefs and images about who I was to the core of my being. Disappointment was reserved for transgressions of a deeper magnitude, like betrayals of trust.

And even now, as an adult, I would say that I dislike disappointment much more than I dislike anger. I get over anger quickly. It's a painful and immature process, but it's a much faster process than the one it takes for me to get over disappointment. For me, anger is a much more pro-active emotion. Disappointment, on the other hand, saps my energy and makes me lose faith with life and mankind.

And disappointment, my friends, is what I felt on The Day of Days, when D and I went to pick up my van from the dealership.

I know. The Day of Days was supposed to be exactly that - the day that trumps all days. Instead, it was a day of disappointment and second-guessing.

D and I went to go pick up the van and we were excited. We were talking about how much we would not miss the Sebring, even though we were in the Sebring and she could hear us. But it's nothing she hasn't heard before, since I usually cursed her out every morning for being so small and making L scream when I whacked his head on the door frame. Believe me, she knew how I felt about her.

I had taken the morning off work to do a ton of running around to get the details ironed out with the bank and the insurance company. I'd even taken the check up to the dealership and signed my half of the papers. All we needed to do was have D sign his half of the title, get the keys, and we'd be on our way.

Things went quickly, and before we knew it, we were cruising out of the dealership in our new wheels. I guess in retrospect, I could tell something was wrong as soon as I tried to accelerate to the speed limit. It was taking a really long time to accelerate, even longer than the Sebring (which is another reason I hated that car). But I was still in new-car honeymoon, and I vowed that I would not let it bother me. I did mention it to D, and he was like, "Dude, it's a van. What do you expect?"

Then, out of nowhere, the CD player spit out a CD. D and I looked at each other and were like, "Hey, there's a CD in here." D, of course immediately popped it back in to listen to what it was. It was some sort of mix between folk music and classic rock. Not my style. But D loved it.

I'd had enough of the CD, so I popped it out and turned on the radio. D was talking, and I thought I heard some sort of buzzing. I turned off the radio, but he kept right on talking and talking. Finally, I realized that he was not going to read my mind or my actions and realize that I was trying to locate the buzzing and that he needed to stop talking, so I shushed him rather rudely. The buzzing was coming from the CD player, and it sounded like it was working to eject a CD.

I realized with a slight sinking feeling that the CD player was not included on our 2-year extended warranty, and that we were going to have to either just deal with it or pay money to get the CD player fixed on a van we'd own for less than 3 minutes.

To top it all off, the shifter seemed to be really sticky and it was more difficult than it should have been to change gears.

Then we started to see smoke.

That's right, our new van with brand new brakes and tires was smoking from the left front tire. D saw the smoke before I did and he was like, "Um, is that us smoking?"

I looked and saw the smoke that was beginning to practically billow from the left front tire, and I freaked. But I was driving, so I had to try to maintain some semblance of self control. D was telling me to pull over, but of course we were sandwiched between the right lane and the left turn lane at a super-busy intersection during rush hour, so all I could do was put on my left turn signal and wait for someone to see that we were about to spontaneously combust and let us through to the gas station.

We ended up sitting there for a minute or so, which felt like a lifetime when we were worrying about catching on fire, and D started yelling, "PULL OVER! PULL OVER! PULL! OVER!" And I pretty much lost it and screamed back, "I'M TRYYYYYYYYYYYYYINNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!" And then he was quiet. And then we were both quiet, like you get when you yell at each other in front of friends and are embarrassed and no one knows what to say because you just unloaded a massive delivery of awkward to the situation. I think it was because we both knew that yelling at each other was going to be, at best, counter-productive.

So I finally managed to pull into the gas station and D got out to look at the smoke. Turns out, it was coming from the brakes. D and I started bickering over who was going to call the dealer. He didn't want to because he thinks he's awkward on the phone, and I didn't want to because I had no stinkin clue what was even going on because I know less about cars than I know about X-Men.

D ended up calling, and I sat in the front seat in disbelief. He started looking for some sort of tool that all vehicles are supposed to have (a tire jack? a flare? an orange cone?) and suddenly we hear the voice of an angel.

"Hey, bro? You alright? You need some help?" Behold, an off-duty mechanic from across the parking lot, come to rescue us.

He came over and got under the front end of the van, telling me to turn the wheel this way and that, and I did but I was afraid because he was under the tire and I didn't want to crush him somehow. And he told me to turn the van on, but it wouldn't go on because even though it said it was in park, it was actually 1/10 of the way in reverse because of the sticky gear shifter.

Eventually, he pronounced the van driveable, but told us we shouldn't go too far with it. Since we were already much closer to home than to the dealer, we drove to D's parent's house, since his dad was a mechanic for 30 years and knows as much about cars as I know about celebrity gossip.

D's dad checked it out, told us we were never again allowed to buy a car without him present (which really, did absolute wonders for my mood and attitude. Really.) and they called the dealer back.

At this point, the dealer was feeling incredibly bad. I mean, this guy is pretty much a friend of the family. We've bought so many cars from him that I can't remember the last car our family had that wasn't from him.

He told D that he was going to make it right, and sent a flatbed truck to pick up my new van that I'd owned for around 20 minutes. He also personally brought me another car to drive, and told us the van would be back to us by the next day. But I was really afraid when he showed up with the loaner car, because I was pretty sure my father-in-law was going to rip him a new one. (He didn't, thankfully.)

By the time all was said and done, I was exhausted. And deflated. And just plain old disappointed. I couldn't even muster the energy to be mad. I was so disappointed that D and I had talked and talked and planned and talked about what we'd do about getting a van, and it all seemed to be blowing up in our faces. We had not been overly-hasty in this decision. We had done our research and we knew what we were looking for. We'd checked the history of the van and it was pristine. And yet there we were, thousands of dollars poorer with nothing to show for it.

Needless to say, I was not very pleasant to be around that night. And when the dealer called the next evening to tell us that the van was ready, I didn't even go to pick it up. D and his dad went, because they wanted to make sure everything was right before taking it home again.

But now, I have my van. And I'm getting better, because it seems to be working properly. They fixed everything, including the CD player. (There was a coin in it, apparently. Awesome. Oh, and also, apparently the slow acceleration was something to do with the brakes, so that got fixed when they fixed the brakes.)

I'm still a little unsure about it, but I think it's because I'm being cautious. I don't want to be disappointed by this van again. It's already hurt me once. Not really starting out on the right foot.

But, I will say that I can't get enough of the power doors and power hatch. At least there's still those features. And we don't smack L's head on the door frame when we put him in or take him out, so he and his brain cells thank us.

Now if only I could get my radio pre-sets right, I think the van and I could be well on our way down the road to reconciliation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Day of Days

Today, something monumental happened. Today is the day I became a mom. I know that might be a little confusing, seeing as how L is going on 10 months now and I've got another one baking in the oven. But none of that matters anymore because today, my friends, is the day I purchased....THE MINIVAN (duh duh DUN).

That's right, I am now officially a mom. With my Mom Mobile. And I gotta tell you, I could not be more excited. I totally understand if you're making fun of me in your head right now, especially if you are not a mom. I would be, too.

In fact, I remember one day at work when a guy from my office pulled up in his brand new Town & Country and I mercilessly teased him about it. He was excitedly showing us all the features and I was like, "Wooooah big man! Look at you in that van!" Needless to say, I wasn't even pregnant at this time, so I did not even remotely get it. Having L changed my perspective on vans entirely and permanently. Now, I'm jealous of his freakin awesome van.

Trying to squeeze L's infant carrier in and out of my tiny little Sebring (whose back seat had just months before seemed ample enough for most needs) was a pain in the butt. I had to tip the carrier almost completely sideways to clear the handlebar past the roof of the car. And now that L is in the monstrous convertible car seat, life is even more difficult. It's in the middle seat and I have to literally get into the back seat and sit down to put L in his car seat. I'd say I have about a 50% rate of hitting his head when I lift him into the seat, and a 33% rate of hitting his head on the door frame while I'm trying to climb into the back seat. So I'm pretty sure L will be happy to see the Sebring go.

And also, I find it difficult to climb in and out of the back seat while holding L as it is. When I'm 5 months pregnant, it will be virtually impossible, so it's a really good thing we're taking care of this now.

Another perk is that I'll actually be able to use the stroller from our travel system (at least until Baby P #2 arrives, making any single strollers obsolete). Currently, our huge stroller is wedged into my trunk, where it has been for months. Once I successfully shoved it in there, I was so proud of myself that I didn't want to take it out again, for fear that it would never go back in and I'd be stuck at some store trying to figure out a way to hook the stroller to the roof. So we've been using an umbrella stroller. But I'd really like to get some good use out of the big stroller before we have to invest in a double.

Finally, the crowning glory of this van: the power sliding doors and power hatch. (Hear that? It's the sound of the angels singing a joyous song of celebration.) There are no words to describe how absolutely stoked I am about being able to open and close doors with the push of a button. I'm not even going to try. Any words I use will fall incredibly short of defining the awesomeness of these features.

And bonus? It's not silver! I've got nothing against silver vehicles, it's just not my favorite color. And it seemed like my lot in life was to always drive a silver vehicle, so I'm thanking sweet baby Jesus that this van is definitively not silver.

While I was driving around today trying to tie up loose ends so I'd be able to pick up my "swagger wagon" as my friend calls it (even though it's not whatever brand that is, I still like the phrase) after work, I was looking around my Sebring, trying to get sentimental about it. I mean, it was pretty much my rite of passage into adulthood. I bought it after I graduated college and got my job - the first car I ever took out a loan on. (Though it wasn't my first experience with taking on debt. That nod goes to you, student loans. You jackholes.)

Instead of a rush of sentiment and emotion, I found myself ambivalent, bordering on anger. Almost as soon as I bought that Sebring (used, might I add), someone decided that Sebrings should plummet in value and I was pretty much immediately upside down in that stupid car that I didn't even really want in the first place. (I wanted a smaller SUV, but I also wanted a smaller payment, so the Sebring it was.) Then, to top it all off, it proved exceedingly inadequate for my needs the minute L came into my life.

So thanks but no thanks, Sebring. I won't miss you. In fact, I'm going to gleefully take you up to the dealership tonight and hand over your key and key fob. I might give you a pat on the trunk, but I'll probably be thinking something like, "See you later, Sebring. Don't let the door hit ya where Chrysler split ya."

I'm aware of how utterly unfair I'm being to my Sebring, because really, it has been a good and reliable car to me. But take a marriage, for instance. Good and reliable are incredibly important attributes for your spouse to have. But if, on your wedding day, someone asks you, "Why are you marrying this guy?" and you reply, "Because he's good and reliable," they will probably stare at you with open dismay. Good and reliable just doesn't always cut it.

Sometimes, a girl just needs power sliding doors and a power hatch.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A dirty little parenting secret

I feel like one of the sweetest, most secret pleasures of parenthood that no one ever talks about is being out in public with your child and realizing that he is much better behaved than the other children around you. I know comparing is wrong, we shouldn't judge other people - especially children, etc. etc. But any parent who tells you that they don't mentally stack their kids' behavior up against other kids is just plain lying.

Now I know I'm really asking for it here, since L is still relatively easy to contain in his stroller. But in general, he's just a really good-natured kid. It's a pleasure taking him places with me, because I know that he'll not only behave, he'll smile and laugh and flirt at everyone we pass.

Yesterday, L and I drove out to an outlet mall about 45 minutes from our house to meet a college friend of mine for lunch. After he wooed and won her, I decided to push the envelope a bit and try to squeeze in a quick dash over to the Motherhood outlet (and possibly Old Navy, if he'd let me). I could see that he was getting pretty tired, but I figured he still had another half an hour in him, so off we went.

He was content to sit in his stroller as I entered the store, and amused himself by touching all the clothes within reach of his pudgy little arms. When he started to get bored with that, I gave him his squeaky giraffe toy to chew on (her official brand name is Sophie, so that's how we refer to her).

Suddenly, the doors to the store exploded open and these three women came in behind one extremely rambunctious boy (I'd guess about 6 years old or so) and a comparatively quiet girl (around age 4). I tried to ignore the boy as he immediately started to run around the racks of clothes screaming, "I HATE YOU, YOU UGLY GIRLS! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU WITH MY SWORD AND STAB YOUR EYES OUT!"

When he ran by where L and I were browsing, he looked at L and kicked his stroller. I was about to say something, but I saw his mother coming up to him and I thought she was going to discipline him or give him a sedative or something, so I said nothing. Which apparently was the parenting method of choice that day, because the mom also said nothing. Nice.

Then the boy and his sister ran into the fitting rooms and snatched the belly pillows that show you how you'll look in 3 months if you swallow a waffle iron whole and it takes up residence squarely in abdomen (needless to say, I've never found that pillow to be accurate). They started throwing the pillows around and hitting their adult companions with them. Again, the women said nothing.

One of the women came around the rack where L and I were, and she looked down at him and said, "Oh hi! Aren't you adorable! You're so quiet, I didn't even notice you there!"

L looked up at her like, "Lady, thanks for the compliment but get a wrangle on those banshees, will ya?" And then he smiled his BabyGap smile at her as a little incentive. No dice.

So after L and I had had enough of the circus, we took our selections (two sweater jackets for $15 each! Total steal!) to the cash register. The poor sales girl was giving the stink eye to the kids and the women with them, and I could totally relate because I was in her shoes once. I used to work retail and these parents would bring their kids in and let them run completely amok. And if the kid ever hurt himself doing something he shouldn't have been doing in the first place, we were the ones getting the brunt of it. Like our store jumped out and bit the kid.

While I was trying to complete my transaction, the little girl came up to L's stroller. I'm used to little girls approaching us in public because little girls love babies. That's just the laws of nature. So I smiled at her (because really, it was her brother who was being evil) and she said, "Baby". (So maybe she was younger than 4 because most 4 year olds I know can talk a mile a minute and would have said more than just "baby".)

L looked at her as he gnawed on his Sophie and I looked away to pay for my purchase. Next thing I know, I hear Sophie let out a loud squeak and I look over to see that the girl had taken Sophie from L. L got this totally confused look on his face like, "What the heck?" I was about to say something (again), when one of the women stepped over and said, "No, no. That's the baby's toy. Give it back to him."

Thank you!!! I thought, feeling as though this woman finally decided to step in and discipline one of these children.

But when the girl said absolutely nothing and still held on to Sophie, the mom said, "Yes, see how fun that toy is? That's why the baby likes it so much." Great idea. Let's get the kid to understand how fun the toy is. Then she'll FOR SURE want to give it back.

Then, the girl goes to put Sophie in her mouth and I reached down and snatched it from her and said in the nicest voice possible, "I'm glad you enjoyed his toy, he's such a good sharer."

Then I had to look back at the cashier because she kept asking all these questions so Motherhood can stalk me and send me all kinds of junk mail, and when I looked back down, this little girl was violently rubbing L's head, so much so that he was involuntarily moving back and forth in his stroller. And the mom just stood there. And L just sat there going, "WTH is going on right now?"

Thankfully, we were finished after that, so I grabbed my bag and sped out of there before the little girl could start biting my child. And as I opened the door to leave, I felt simultaneously sad for the sales girl and proud of my son for being so chill that even when some random kid was assaulting him, he didn't make a single peep.

I know he's still young yet, and I know we're not even at the stage where he would freak out about someone stealing his toy, but I still can't help but feel like my kid is awesome. And I love knowing that the sales girl would have much rather had us stay and the banshee children leave. Having other people want your kid around is like a little mental gold star.

I know it might be short-lived, which is why I'm going to savor the look of delight most people take on when they see L coming. All too soon, it might be replaced by a cringe of "Ugh it's a little boy!" But I promise by that point, I'll be doing everything in my power to make it so that the cringe is inevitably followed with a look of sheepishness at how wrong they were about my child because he's so well behaved.

That's the plan, anyway.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our house and the people living there

I went by the house yesterday, for the first time since the tenants moved in. Let me tell you, it was weird.

I went by after work because they had texted me that we had some mail over there. I left my office, and it was so strange taking the same route I used to take on my way home. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't going "home" because, even though it's still our house, it's currently someone else's home.

And I got all nervous because I haven't spoken to the tenants since we signed all the papers. D has been over there multiple times since he's still cutting the lawn and doing random little fixes. (Of course the dishwasher decided to start leaking literally the first time they used it. Which prompted us to have to call the repair guys to come twice because they didn't fix it the first time. I felt so guilty and was all worried that they'd think we knew the dishwasher was leaking and just didn't tell them. My mom told me to chill.)

D has told me over and over how nice they are and how good the house looks, but I was still a little nervous. Once I got there, I had to stop myself from just walking in through the open garage door. And then I had to remind myself to knock.

When S, the wife, came to the door, she was so friendly and welcoming and invited me right in. We talked easily and when she went into the kitchen to bring me my mail, I had a chance to look around the front room.

It was furnished beautifully and was unbelievably clean. And it was such a weird feeling - really hard for me to put into words. Like if I were to go pick L up at daycare and the sitter had bought him a new, really cute outfit and he was all shiny and clean. I'm so happy to see how cute he looks and how clean he is, but at the same time I get a pang in my heart because I feel like this other person who isn't even my child's mommy can take better care of my child than I can.

My poor house won't even want me back next July. It will be like, "You're great and everything, and you made a solid effort, but I really like these people better. They know how to show me off so I don't look so old and outdated. And they clean me every day, not just when people are coming over. So maybe you could let them stay?"

I stayed and chatted with S for over half an hour, and we had a really nice visit. Her husband R came home from work after a bit, and we talked as well. They are just super nice people, and that really makes me feel better. S is pregnant and due any day, so we talked about baby names and pregnancy and this inferno that is the state where we've been living in for the past month. And they were funny and I was not unfunny, so we laughed and talked and I finally had to tell myself to leave so I didn't over-stay my welcome.

And on the way out, S said, "I'm SO sorry it's so messy in here, we normally keep it much neater." As I desperately looked around for what mess she could possibly be talking about (The one pair of shoes by the front door? The one piece of mail on the counter?), I laughed and said, "Believe me, this is not messy."

If only she knew how it had been when we lived there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gender disappointment

Well, apparently the only purpose my blog serves these days is to be a grounds for venting.  Sorry.  

I'm a little bit irritated that people seem to think they have a right to know all the details about this pregnancy.  I really don't mind talking about most of it, and in true over-sharer form, I usually enjoy it.  But the one thing that's really rubbing me the wrong way is the incredibly negative reactions we're getting when we tell people we're not going to find out the gender of this baby.  Like it's a freakin crime against humanity or something.  

We didn't find out with L.  But I just knew he was a boy, so it wasn't really a surprise.  This time, I really have no clue if this baby is a boy or a girl.  I'm leaning towards girl, but I can't decide if it's me just wishful thinking and wanting to know what it's like to have a girl or if it's an actual maternal inclination.  So truly, it will be a surprise in the delivery room.  

People are already asking if we know if this baby is a boy or a girl.  First of all, no we don't. It's too early.  But that's ok, because I don't expect that everyone knows or remembers when the gender is usually revealed (it's 20 weeks, by the way).  

What really gets me is when people ask if we know and then I say, "Well no, it's too early, but we aren't finding out anyway."  And then they react as if I just told them that I plan to forgo any use of car seats and just hold the baby in my lap while I drive, a la Britney Spears.  Or like I insulted their mothers.  "WHAT!??  You aren't finding out!??!  How can you do this to me!??!?"

I'm sorry, but when does this decision in any way effect you?  Oh that's right.  It doesn't.  No one outside of me and D have any "right" to know the contents of my uterus.  

Maybe people get upset because it's just so darn out of character for me.  I share the details of my boobs and stretch marks and all that, but I won't share or find out the gender of my baby.  As we used to say in the 5th grade, "Ohhh!  Burn!"  (And once in the 4th grade, I said, "Burn, 3rd degree!" and was relentlessly teased for the duration of that year.)  

But really, I promise I'm not trying to "burn" anyone or hold anything over anyone's head.  I'm just enjoying one of the most delicious surprises known to man.  Plus, just about everyone else finds out the gender of their baby, so let their early reveals sustain you until Baby P #2 makes his or her debut.  

When I was pregnant with L, some people assumed we did know the gender and were just hiding it from them.  One person even honed in on my use of the word "he" when discussing L, and grilled me for 10 minutes about whether I really knew and was just not telling.  And you know what I have to say about that?  If I do know and am not telling, that's my prerogative.  And it's got nothing to do with you.  Besides, is it preferable to refer to my baby as "it"?  No, I think not.  My baby is not an "it", she or he is a person.  And I will select one pronoun or the other, and I will use it throughout my pregnancy to avoid calling my baby "it" as if he or she were a plant.

I hate how I end up apologizing to people when they learn that we're not going to find out the gender.  Again.  I am not really sorry.  Well, I'm sorry they're disappointed, but not that sorry.  But I really shouldn't have to apologize for my completely valid decision to save my baby's gender as a surprise!  I think it all goes back to the over-sharer thing.  Since I share everything else in my life, I feel bad when called out for keeping something to myself.

So if you're one of the many, many people who are extraordinarily disappointed that D and I are not finding out the gender of this baby, you're in good company.  If you start thinking that my pregnancy is taking forever, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that I totally agree.  And at least you don't have to deal with the swollen feet and increasing difficulty getting out of bed.       

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's the boobs

I recently went to the mall because I'm trying to find a knock-out dress for my cousin's wedding in September. 

I did not plan on being pregnant at this wedding.  Pretty much since my cousin was engaged, the word was put out that there would be a premium bar at the reception.  This was exciting for me because I never get premium anything, not even gas for my car.  So top-shelf liquor on someone else's tab was definitely my idea of a great night.  D and I even discussed getting a room at the near-by hotel so we could both equally enjoy the expensive alcohol.

Now that I'm pregnant, D is all like, "Sweet!  Now we don't have to pay for a hotel because you can be the DD!  Me and R (my younger brother) are going to have so much fun."  Yeah, not so much with that.  I told him no way.  But now that I think about it....weddings (especially for my side of the family) tend to be a lot of me and my mom dancing our butts off like crazy idiots while the men sulk at the tables.  Maybe if I remove the kebosh on over-indulging in the bar, D and my brother might actually be fun.  Hmmm....Something to think about there.  (Also something to think about:  would it really be so bad if I just had one little glass of wine?  Ok, ok.  Wipe that shocked and appalled look off your face.  I'm only kidding.  If I'm going to drink anything, it's going to be an Amaretto sour.)

This wedding is going to fall at an interesting time for me, physically.  I'll be 15 weeks pregnant at that point.  I was just starting to show at 15 weeks with L, but I looked back at my belly pics from that pregnancy, and I think I'm currently looking at least as pregnant as I did then.  So who knows where I'll be in September.  

So why, you may ask, would I possibly think it would be a good idea to go dress shopping now?  Well, my boss told me that Lord & Taylor is having an amazing clearance on their dresses - something like 50% off then an additional 50% off the reduced price.  She scored some really cute dresses for cheap, so I thought I'd take a look.  Especially since I usually can't even afford to breathe the same air as Lord & Taylor.  Maybe I'd find something flowy and forgiving for a steal. 

The racks were pretty well-picked-over, but I did find two dresses that had potential.  One was flowy and forgiving, but in a not so attractive floral print, and the other was gorgeous.  A steely-grey-silver silk with these beautiful ruffles on the bodice and it was like $35.  Ohmigod.  Bananas.  The best thing about this dress was that, on the hanger, the silhouette looked perfect.  It was sleeveless and had a "waist" that fell high enough so that any stomach growth between now and September would be totally fine.  I saved this dress for second because I just *knew* it would be the one.

The floral dress was actually better than I expected, but I was pretty blah over it.  Definitely not worth $40, even if it was marked down from $208.  I hurried out of it and got to work putting on the good dress.  It looked amazing.  Then I went to zip it.  It zipped right over my monstrous behind and slid right past the belly region with ease.  Then I got to mid-back, where my boobs came into play.  

Up until this point, I did not think my boobs have grown that much.  It's harder for me to judge their size now that they're all floppy.  But the struggle that ensued as I tried to zip that fancy zipper all the way up was proof: I'm well on my way to Jenna Jameson Land (with my final destination being Dollywood).  No matter how I struggled, the zipper would not give.  I tried and tried and pretended like it was just caught on some fabric, but to no avail.  Pregnancy boobs are back.  I sighed, put my frumpy in-between clothes back on (the clothes I'm forced to wear while I'm still looking mostly fat and not quite pregnant) and headed out of the fitting room to get some lunch at Zoup. 

I had to take the escalator down to get to Zoup, and as I stepped on, the escalator let out a long "Creeeeeaak".  The lady in front of me turned around to see if an elephant had just boarded the escalator, and I was all like, "What?  It's the boobs."  

So in case I had any doubts in my mind before this, I can now rest assured that I am, indeed, pregnant.  The nausea can be brushed off.  The fatigue can be chalked up to work stress.  But the boobs will not be denied.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dusting off the old soapbox

It's been a while since I've been on my soapbox, and it was starting to get really lonely and afraid that I hated it, so I'm going to pull it out and hop on for a while.
I just read an article that really, really pissed me off.  Well, the article itself did not piss me off, but the phrase it introduced me to did: "Weekend Mom".  This term, apparently, is made to apply to all mothers who work outside the home, usually in a standard 9-5 job, and only see their babies on evenings and weekends.  According to the article, it's a term coined by the "real moms" who stay at home.  

I'm almost boiling with anger and come-backs over here, so much so that my fingers can't keep up with my mind and I'm afraid that if I don't get everything down I'm going to forget something and spontaneously combust.  So much so that I paused Top Chef when I read that phrase so I could write this blog post.  

First and most obviously, I take EXTREME exception to that phrase.  Extreme.  If someone ever called me "Weekend Mom" to my face, I'm not sure I'd have an easy time keeping my response expletive-free and respectful of  the hate-spewer.  How dare these women judge me and my fellow working moms?  I know the phrase "how dare they" is thrown around so loosely that it almost sounds comical and weak, but I truly mean that.  Where the hell do they think they have the right to judge what kind of mother I am because of the simple fact that I must work to support my family?  

Let me say, before I get any deeper into this, that I have mad respect for all the stay-at-home moms out there.  It is not easy at all to constantly be at the mercy of your child.  I know this.  You know, from all the weekends I've spent parenting my child.  But sincerely, I truly admire the moms who stay home and make their children their full time job.  And this rant is in no way saying that all or even most stay-at-homes feel this way.  But the fact that enough of them do that this phrase has been invented and has caught on enough to have articles written about it just really makes me angry.

For one thing, I would love nothing more than to be able to stay home with L.  I would love to be able to quit my job and make "Mom" my new full-time job title.  It is something that I think about all the time, every single day.  I'm jealous of the moms who have this option.  

But I do not have this option.  D and I simply cannot afford for me to leave my job right now.  Believe me, I've crunched the numbers so many different ways that they're pretty much crumbs at this point.  I'm constantly filled with "what ifs" and "if onlys" and wishing I could go back in time so D and I could make different choices when we first started out in our life together.  But I can't.  That's just the fact.  And you know what?  They weren't necessarily bad choices.  Maybe we didn't have a lot of foresight, but they certainly weren't irresponsible.  We live well within our means, and it is clear by the recent choices we've made (namely, turning our lives upside down and moving in with my parents to pay off debt) that we have our family's best interests at heart and that we are responsible adults.  

And because of my job, the job that I work to help put food on the table and diapers on L's butt, I did not have to face one moment of panic or worry when L got sick twice this past week.  I didn't have to worry about how much a doctor's visit would cost or if we could afford the L's prescription.  Because I am the one carrying the benefits in our family.  I stay at a job that I strongly dislike because it's better for my family and for my son. 

Just because I don't see my son 9-5 Monday through Friday does not mean that the only time I parent is in the evening or on weekends.  "Parenting" does not just mean being with your child.  My role as a parent does not stop when I drop L off at daycare for the day (the daycare that I tirelessly and thoroughly researched and agonized over before choosing it as a suitable place for my child).  I'm the one worrying, thinking, solving to make sure that L has the best life possible.  I'm the one combing the internet for reviews on every single product we buy for him.  I'm the one making plans and scheduling and arranging so that he can have the best that we can give.  I'm the one taking sick time when daycare calls to tell me that L is sick and needs to be picked up or when L has a pediatrician appointment.  I'm the one worrying and wondering all the time.  

(And on the other hand, being with your child does not make you a good parent.  I've seen women who stay at home with their kids whom I would not trust to watch L while I run to the grocery store for 20 minutes.) 

I'm not usually one to play devil's advocate because it mostly drives me nuts, but I don't see these stay-at-homes calling out dads for working or saying they are only "weekend parents" because they have full time jobs.  It's certainly not fair to say something like "it's the man's job to support his family".  Whatever!  Last time I checked, if you're going to have children, it's BOTH parents' equal responsibility to make sure their children are loved and provided for in every sense.  How irresponsible and unloving would it be for me to be like, "Sorry D, you're just going to have to get ANOTHER job (on top of the 2 you already have) because I'm a horrible mother if I work."  

But I guess the thing that just really zaps my heart about this is the fact that us women can't seem to stop the madness.  Why is there so much mom-on-mom violence?  Why do we all have to judge each other about every single decision we make?  How does it effect you if I choose to use disposable diapers and feed my kid Gerber instead of growing my own vegetables and taking hours and hours from my precious time with L to steam them and freeze them into baby-sized portions for future use?  How does it impact my life if you decide that you want to keep your kid sleeping in your room (and probably bed) for 3 years?  It doesn't!  Your choice might not work for me, but your kid is not my kid!  My kid is my kid, and I am trying the very best I can to do the right thing.

And to me, the right thing is making sure that L is provided for in every way possible.  This does not mean giving him everything he wants and working merely so I can smother him with material possessions.  But I'm fairly certain that if he could answer you and you were to ask, he would tell you that he does want a roof over his head and he does want to eat every day.  He'd tell you that he does want to be able to go to bed at night and not have to lay awake worrying that his parents are one car repair away from financial ruin.  And he'd tell you that he KNOWS his parents love him because they tell him every day and are present for him whenever they are with him.  He knows they love him because they prayed for him and waited so long to have him and hold him.  He knows they love him because they eat dinner together every single night without exception, even if it's just soup and sandwiches.

So please, before you judge my choices as a parent, realize a few things.  Realize that I'd walk through fire to be in your shoes, and I'm doing the best I can to get our finances to a place where I'll have that option.  Realize that by criticizing and judging me and my choices, you don't make yourself a better mom (and you're setting a really crappy example on being a good human for your children).  And realize that as a group, us moms won't get anywhere until we can stop hating on each other.  Motherhood is hard enough without having to worry about measuring up to the snotty bitches in the Mean Girl's Club.             


Friday, August 6, 2010

This time around

I forgot what it was like to be pregnant.  It's hard. 

It's even harder with a very active and mobile 9 month old who has suddenly decided that he never, ever again wants to spend longer than 5 seconds on his back, which makes it really hard to change his diaper or put clothes on him. 

What I wouldn't give for him to have an ounce of reason and logic, so I could just be like, "Listen, kid.  If you would sit still for literally one minute, this will all be over.  And I wouldn't have to pin you down with one arm so you scream and scream while I change you with the other.  And you wouldn't have to get the 'Is she MAD at me???' injured Bambi look on your face when I forget myself and curse under my breath because you grabbed your dirty diaper and made turds roll everywhere." 

And after I say that to him, sudden awareness would dawn and he would be like, "Oh, ok Mommy!  I love you!  You're the best and I promise to never repeat the bad words you say while we're in public and especially never in church when it's dead quiet."

So I think having a squirmy bundle of a child who is growing alarmingly heavy and harder to carry makes this pregnancy just a wee bit harder than the last, but it's harder in different ways. 

I'm still exhausted.  I still sink into the couch at night and ask D if he's ready for bed.  D still looks at the clock and says in disgust, "It's only 9:15!"  And we still battle over how much longer we should stay downstairs while I nod off and snore, disrupting whatever "awesome" show he happens to be watching.  (Yeah, D forgot about the snoring.  And the sad thing is, he knows it only gets worse.  Once we hit 3rd tri, it will be totally pointless for him to attempt to watch tv while I'm sleeping because he won't be able to hear it over the snoring.  And if he dares to wake me up to tell me to pipe down, he will still get the same tongue lashings he got last time I was pregnant, only this time I will mean them much, much more.)

When I was pregnant with L, I would come home from work every day and take a wonderful afternoon nap.  Now, I could probably do that if I wanted, but I feel really bad because it usually means taking advantage of my parents and making them watch L while I nap.  And they already help out so, so much that I just can't assuage the guilt enough to even allow myself to fall asleep.  So, I just pretty much live with the fatigue.

The worry is also different this time around.  I used to worry because I had absolutely zero clue what I was getting myself into.  Now, I worry because I 100% know what I'm getting myself into.  And I'm half-dreading, half-welcoming it. 

Welcoming: 3 month baby vacation (if I'm not laid off by then anyway); small, snuggly baby who sleeps all the time and anywhere; tiny little clothes that are melt-worthy; feeding the baby free food made by yours truly; eagerly watching for those little milestones that send me up to Cloud 9 (especially the indescribably exciting first real smile); not second-guessing every single thing I'm doing since I'll have already done it once before. 

Dreading:  Baby who has days and nights confused and decides that it's time to party at 11 p.m.; baby who only sleeps 2-3 hours at a time; huge, painful boobs that leak everywhere and which no bra on earth can contain; the physical birthing of the child that leads to the 2-month period; not being able to go anywhere without baby or pump (please refer back to huge, painful boobs); the hormone dive that may or may not lead to a repeat severe case of baby blues.

I know it looks like I'm dreading more than I'm excited about, but the sum of the "Welcoming" category far exceeds the sum of the "Dreading" category.  So there you go.   

One perk this time around is that I had some pretty bad nausea that has finally started to lift in the past week or two.  (I know, I know - you women who have endured relentless morning sickness want to kill me right now.  I would feel the same way.)  How is this possibly a perk?  Well, I've lost 8 pounds already.  Go me!  I know you're not supposed to lose weight while you're pregnant, but the vain side of me is really enjoying the ease with which these pounds seem to be melting off.  When I'm not pregnant, it takes extreme sacrifice, mental strength, and 4-6 weeks to lose that kind of weight.  During this pregnancy, it took 3 weeks and a total aversion to all foods. 

But now that the nausea is subsiding, I'm really, really excited about experiencing hunger again.  So I'm eating more.  But I think I'll be ok, since I've recently come to the conclusion that my parents' house is a natural snack suppressant for me.  For one thing, there are more witnesses to what I'm eating, and my mom isn't afraid to be like, "Didn't you just eat a bowl of cereal and 3 cookies?  Do you really need that mini pizza?"  For another, the sheer fact that the layout of the house is different from our house.  In our house, the kitchen is 3 steps from the living room.  In my parents' house, I have to exit our living room, turn a couple corners, and walk all the way to the far corner of the kitchen to the fridge.  It's really not that far, but when I'm molded to the couch from the exhaustion, those many extra steps don't seem worth whatever treat awaits on the other end. 

So I guess what they say is true - every pregnancy is different.  And I'm not even really "that" pregnant yet.  I'm almost to second tri, though, and my fingers are crossed that it's as enjoyable this time around as it was last time.  Around 2nd tri, my fatigue started to lift and I started to show for real.  Last time, I felt really embarrassed about switching to maternity clothes before I was actually "showing", despite the fact that none of my pants fit and I hated the BeBand and the rubber band trick.  This time, I'm loud and proud and in maternity pants.  If you think it's too early, then I welcome you to wear jeans and pants that fit everywhere else but are 2 sizes too small in the zipper/button area for a couple days.  Then, see if you still begrudge me my stretchy pants.  The baby bump is just a formality at this point. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Brief and un-funny recap of the reunion (because nothing funny happened)

Sorry for the late post.  I wanted to write my family reunion post yesterday morning, but L got all sick and feverish Monday evening and it just got worse yesterday.  He topped out at a 103 degree fever, and I spent my day cuddling him, comforting him and taking him to the doctor.  

Thankfully, he just has a virus and should be ok.  I will admit, a tiny piece of me loved all the snuggles.  I know that's terrible because no mother would ever wish for her child to be sick.  And I didn't wish for him to be sick, really, but I did slightly enjoy some of the by-products of his sickness.  As a rule, I want him to be healthy.  But if I get to hold him while he sleeps and read him books and have him snuggle me and not try to escape after 3 seconds, well....I'm not going to say no to that.  I'm the worst mother in the world.
In any case, the reunion was mostly good.  Of course, since nothing comes easy and since I am a professional procrastinator, the power decided to go out on Wednesday night (inexplicably, it went out 5 hours after the rain passed through), which stopped any packing or preparations dead in their tracks.  So, we had to speedily throw things together in the morning, with L under foot and grumping for attention.

By some miracle, we were able to pack everything, thanks to the amazing and organized list that I made in Excel.  Everything was broken down into categories (such as "Clothes") and sub-categorized by the people who would use them.  And you know what's even more miraculous?  We did not forget a single thing.  That is the first time that has ever happened in the history of my life, and probably the last.  And I could not be more proud.   I am a master List and Plan maker.

We successfully picked up the pop-up camper we rented through Craiglist, which turned out to be awesome.  Except for the fact that I forgot how much I hate any version of camping because everything gets all damp and smelly, including bedding and pillows.  But that's not really the camper's fault.  And the camper turned out to be the way better option (as opposed to a tent), since it poured down rain all night Friday and all day Saturday.  Except, let's be honest.  If we didn't get the camper, we would have gotten a hotel room because there's no way I'm ever sleeping in a tent again.  I did lots of tent sleeping when I was a kid, and now that I'm the parent, I have a say.  And I say NO TENTS.

So the rain was kind-of a bummer, since Saturday is generally the day that we have lots of activities and displays of athleticism and such.  Instead, we spent the day huddled in the barn around tables, playing cards and games and acting depressed about the rain.  The rain did stop eventually, and we played an awesome game invented by my aunt, which was seriously fun even though I seriously sucked and dragged my poor cousin down to last place.  She surely would have done better with a different partner, but I was happy for the boost.

We were also able to fit in the traditional softball game in the evening.  And, as is the new tradition, D was picked first and I was picked last.  Which actually makes me proud and not ashamed or sad, since it means that my husband has been entirely and completely accepted into the folds of our family.  It doesn't even make me feel a little embarrassed that I'm so god-awful at sports that my family, my own flesh and blood, picks me last.  Not even a smudge.

I did have a small victory this weekend, however unathletic it was.  The mosquitoes were out in droves this year, and it was pretty miserable.  But, L was the only person, big or little, who did not get a single bite.  Not one single bump.  And you know why?  Because of an amazing thing called a Bug Band.  I am not getting paid or in any way compensated for this plug - I am just so utterly thrilled about it that I had to pass it on.  It is a little bracelet that looks like one of those rubber wristbands that people wear for whatever cause.  We hooked it onto the back belt loop of his shorts and jeans so he wouldn't pull at it, and he was bug-free for the entire weekend.  Even when I was holding him and getting bit myself, he remained unbitten.  And the best thing of all?  It cost less than $6 at Toys R Us.  So worth it.  Bug Bands, you have a new life-time follower.  And it's me.

Since it's late and I'm tired, I don't want to go into how awful the car ride home was on Sunday.  In hindsight, I know it's because L was getting sick and was totally off his sleep schedule, but since I didn't have that hindsight during the ride home, it was pretty hard to keep things in perspective.  Especially when he was screaming and throwing his toys on the poor dog who was trapped next to him in the backseat of the truck.  I'm pretty sure the dog has declared an oath to never travel anywhere with us again until we get a van so he doesn't have to sit next to L.  I wish I'd had my camera handy so I could have gotten a picture of the poor dog trying to paint himself into the door so he could be as far away from L as possible.  

But like I said, I'm not going to go into all that.  Traveling is awesome, but coming home is even awesomer.  There's nothing like a shower in good old city water to make you feel like yourself again.  Well water simply doesn't cut it for me.  I guess I'm a city girl through and through.