Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post-holiday musings

So we got through the holidays-we were smart and decided to stay home, and get people to come to us.  While this was definitely less stressful than driving, it was hard.  I'm used to being with my family for the holidays, and I was the only one who wasn't there this year.  Part of me really resists change, which is stupid, because it's happening whether I like it or not.  My siblings and I are all older, either married or almost married, two of us have kids of our own.  In a lot of ways we're much closer.  I like to think that my older sister doesn't find me quite as annoying as she did in high school when I was constantly around, and she and my two brothers are three of my closest friends.  But there is a new dynamic now that we're not under the same roof, and we have our own families to think about.  I am currently listening to the newest member of mine kick his crib railing and complain about being put to bed.

I think he's cutting a tooth because he has just been a mess today.  Doesn't want to be held, doesn't want to be put down, doesn't want to go to bed, but is clearly tired.  He's probably thrown off his schedule because Ben and I are both off this week, and also because the house has been overtaken by new clothes and toys for him.  You now cannot move anything or sit anywhere in my house without a toy honking, squeaking, singing the ABCs, or instructing you to count to three and press the red button.  My cousin Jen noted that Fisher Price has taken over her home-I can relate.  It doesn't help that we have no space-our  little cottage is charming, but we are taking shelving to new levels trying to find places to put things so we can walk.  It's a constant struggle to keep the place looking somewhat organized.  I keep my motivation up by watching Hoarders, which not only makes me want to clean, it makes me want to rent a dumpster and entirely empty my house into it.  The only thing grosser than that is Animal Hoarders.  When I see a TV show about a lady with sixty five cats, I can smell her house through the damn TV.

But Henry had a good holiday, and that's the important thing.  So did we, even with missing people, those who are here and those who are gone.  I'd been thinking a lot about my grandmother in the past few weeks.  She died last winter, and I hadn't ever really spent a lot of time with her-my family moved around a lot, and we ended up in Virginia, with most of the family in Delaware.  I really envy the closeness my Delaware family has, and wish I'd made more of an effort to spend time with my grandmother.  I'm really sorry she didn't get to meet Henry-she died when I was about five months pregnant.  I know she would have adored him.

So when my family came up for Christmas, one of the gifts my parents had for me was in a small box, and when I opened it, I saw a beautiful necklace, and a note from my uncle.  The note said he'd been going through her things and thought I'd like to have the necklace.  Apparently all my cousins got something of hers, which was really nice.  Although this may sound stupid, I felt like getting that was a sign from her, letting me know that everything was ok.  I like to think that she sees her great-grandson, and her great-granddaughter and namesake, and looks out for them.  And will make sure they don't try to do whippets out of whipped cream cans or anything (my cousins will get that).

Take care, Flo.  We miss you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And we're back

Sorry to my five or so loyal readers, at least two of whom are immediate family, it's been a while since I've been inspired to write anything.  Last week was a mess of getting through exams, wrapping things up at work before everyone left for vacation, and fighting off that cold Henry brought home-that bitch hung on, we're still getting over stuffy noses.  Thank goodness for the Nose Frida.

If you haven't seen one of these, it's something I ordered the first time the kiddo got a stuffed up nose, and I realized those bulb things don't do shit.  This is a plastic tube that is shaped sort of like one of those big crayons.  One end goes in the kid's nose, and the other end is attached to a tube.  The tube goes in your mouth, and you suck on it really hard, and it pulls all the boogers out of the kid's nose.

So basically, if my labor stories don't convince those of you who are childless to remain that way, this should do the trick.

I will say that it works great and no snot gets in your mouth (or, in Ben's mouth, because I make him do it.) Recommended it to my cousin Jen when her daughter caught her first cold, and she, too, made her husband try it first.  Andrew is my first cousin, one of twenty something first cousins (Irish Catholics, they don't quit). Our family history includes many moonings, pantless dances at weddings, and betting people that they can't fit a whole Choco Taco in their mouth at once (this was my uncle, and I'd like to point out that he did it and also that he is a successful attorney and was a full grown man and father of three at the time of the bet).  But given this history, Andrew apparently did not trust my advice.  He made Jen swear the snotsucker wasn't some sick family joke I was trying to play on him.  But it really isn't-I'll go far for a joke, but not that far.

Henry hates the thing and fights it like a cat getting a bath, though.  He's gotten much more inventive about ways to avoid taking medicine and getting breathing treatments.  I feel bad for the kid, he's had far too much medical intervention for a six month old.  But I have to say, when I'm in a contest of will with a six month old, it's just plain embarrassing to lose.  It does happen, though, and I can't help but think he gloats a bit.

I mean, when a kid holds in a spoonful of antibiotic for thirty seconds only to wait til you relax your hold on him, then spits it out all over himself, THEN gives you a great big smile....well, let's just say I'm not looking forward to the teen years.

Monday, December 13, 2010


This first year of day care is going to fucking kill me.  Henry and I were both sick over the weekend, I got better, but he's still coughing and blowing snot over everything anywhere near him.  I hate having my schedule get all out of whack, but what can you do?  (Well, I guess you can take them to day care even though they're sick, which seems to be what other parents do).  I really wish I could just pay them for the days he's there.

On the up side, he was in a pretty good mood despite feeling crappy.  We had some fun times, listened to some music.  He's very into the Beastie Boys and AC/DC.  I'll do a lot of things for my child, but I just can't listen to the Wiggles or whatever babies are supposed to listen to these days.  He seems to get irritated by stuff that's too bouncy anyway.  When I was pregnant, I listened to a Tim Barry CD nonstop for about the last three months.   Even now, whenever I play one of his songs, Henry will stop, turn towards the music, and listen for a bit.  Kind of amazing that they can remember that.

The feeling you get that you're going to have to assimilate into some sort of parent culture once you have a kid has always bugged me.  Ben and I aren't big fans of mainstream media or social gatherings where games are played and songs sung, so I figured most of the kids' TV and Mommy and Me stuff was going to be out.  Sooner or later Henry's going to go see his dad's punk band play and wonder about songs like "Octogenarian Love Affair".  Maybe he'll like having oddball parents. Maybe I'm delusional and he'll be totally embarrassed and turn out Republican or something to rebel.

But there's just so much out there now that's just crap.  I was home on leave during a beast of a summer-it was too hot to do anything but sit at home with a newborn.  Watched a lot of TV.  Realized that there is a general theme, and it's "If You Act Like a Total Moron or Are a Horrible Person, We Will Put You on a Show."  I don't even get how people can enjoy watching that sort of thing.  It's the worst segment of American culture and those people are being rewarded for their behavior.  What's worse is that people look up to them, and imitate them.  And popular music is just sad, manufactured and lame.  Every genre sounds exactly the same.  So Henry and I will continue to rock out to NOFX, Atmosphere, Neko Case (ok, you really don't "rock out" to Neko Case as much as you...I don't know, contemplate things), Tim Barry, and Drive-By Truckers, and I'll hope that it has some influence on him.

All I know is that this kid ever goes out of the house in a sleeveless t-shirt and/or gets a fake tan, or expects a thousand dollar wardrobe, or gets some girl teen pregnant, we're going to have problems.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Exam time

Sat through my last accounting class today-well, except for the final.  I do not have the patience for three hour long classes anymore.  I got through my master's degree pre-kid, and was more interested in most of the topics, but this business stuff is killing me.  But it's been made clear that if we're ever going to get out from under our debt (which, come to think of it, is mainly student loans) then I'm going to have to start bringing in some money.  Ben's profession is, salary-wise, pretty stagnant.

I had the chance to marry into money, but man, that wasn't going to work out.  After that breakup, I told my mom that when I met someone who could fix my car and cook me dinner, then I'd marry him.  Well, careful what you say, because a few months later Ben showed up, made me chicken in a white wine reduction, and talked about restoring his car.  I didn't even know you could COOK chicken in other things-my mom had always just thrown it in the oven and cooked it until it was the consistency of one of those pink erasers.  No spices, no nothing.  And those were the days when she cooked meat.  I clearly remember many meals that were just Rice-a-Roni and canned green beans.  (Seriously, nobody tell my mom about this blog or she will read this and be totally pissed at me, but ask any of my siblings-it's true, she was the worst cook in the world.  She once made pancakes even the dog wouldn't eat.)

So here we are, a teacher and an aspiring health care administrator, and we're struggling.  Well, financially, anyway.  In all other departments we're pretty blessed, so we try not to bitch about the one area that's lacking.  Really, if someone offered me 100 million dollars, but I'd have to give up one aspect of my life-my husband, my son, my siblings and parents,  awesome extended family, my friends, our cute little house, our dogs-I'd tell them to fuck off.  Well, maybe they could have one of the dogs-the one who likes to piss on things.

Ben's a teacher, and a great one.  I know that people who can deal with the kids he deals with are rare, and even though he could do anything he wanted, I can't see him anywhere but right where he is.  He talked about going to law school for a while, and I encouraged it a bit (mainly thinking he'd get all of his arguing out of his system before he got home, and I'd get a worn-out guy who would just do what I told him to for once) but I've seen the state of our school systems and I just can't see him leaving when he can actually reach kids and change their lives.

And as an added bonus, he teaches eighth grade.  When I found out I was pregnant, I didn't worry about the baby years,  I knew I could handle that.  What freaks me out is the pre-teen and teenage years, when my little cuddle ball will turn into a surly tornado of hormones who hates me, keeps my car out too late, and has girls calling the house all the time.  I told Ben, I'll handle the baby years, once he's twelve, he's your problem.

This is another reason why I'm scared to have another kid-I'm terrified of having a girl.  Not because I don't want one, but I remember what I was up against and it's just gotten worse.  I was in Target the other day, and as I walked past the little girls' section, I couldn't help but notice that half of the stuff looked like it was from a collection titled something like "L'il Prostitutes".  There is so much pressure on girls to look a certain way and to act a certain way, and with their role models breaking out into pole dances at the Teen Choice Awards....yeah, the thought of having a girl scares me.

And yes, I know that it's my job to instill better values in her than that (and to teach my son to respect women) but I also know how much pressure there is from your peers to fit in.  I had great parents but all I wanted in middle and high school was to fit in and get asked out (neither of which happened, thank you very much).  When I went to college, I finally started meeting people who wanted to date me, but my self-esteem was so low that I'd date anyone who showed an interest, because I was flattered.

Incidentally, this is why my dating history is filled with lines like:

"And then he tried to sleep with my best friend"
"So it turns out he really likes guys" and
"No, this was AFTER he got out of jail."

Sadly, I'm not making any of those up.  I'd probably have to tell any daughter of mine the truth about what I went through to try to help her avoid it...but she probably wouldn't listen.

At least Ben knows how to be around kids that age.  I really worry that Henry's going to have an awkward time growing up, and I don't want to be that mom who just says "Be yourself!  And if they don't like it, they're not really your friend!"
Because while that is true and all, it doesn't help a 12 year old who doesn't have anywhere to sit at lunch.

On a different subject, thank you to everyone who's reading this and passing it on.  I started it thinking it would be a way for the family and friends to keep up with us, but it seems people are digging it, which is pretty awesome.  Even have some international readers!  Some things translate to all countries-like screaming babies at four a.m. and getting barfed on in the grocery store.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Turns out it IS nice when a baby sleeps.

So we've been doing the cry thing since Saturday night, after much encouragement from many other moms (thank you, you rule).  Yesterday he went down for naps ok, but cried for almost a full hour when we put him to bed.  I almost gave in, but an email from an old friend put things into perspective for me.  She's got a one year old, and told me she knew how much this time sucked, but to think of it this way:  those kids you see out in public having total screaming, writhing, throwing-things fits?  And their parents look like they really wish a hole would open up in the earth and swallow them?  Yeah, those are kids who never learned how to self-soothe, and can't appropriately deal with their emotions.

I wasn't really thinking of the whole sleep thing in a good way, and to be honest, I was being a little selfish-I didn't mind Henry being up late because in general, he's pretty happy and I like being near him as much as I can.  But the lack of sleep was making him miserable, and leaving him to cry doesn't make me a negligent mother, it makes me a mother who knows he needs sleep even though he'd rather be up playing.  In a few years he'll want to stay up all night and eat candy for dinner, and when he's a teenager....well, given our backgrounds, he may want to stay out all night and drink beer through a funnel, but I'm sure as hell not going to let him do any of that stuff (but again, given his parents, he'll probably manage a time or two).

So this is just the first in a long line of things I'll have to do that he will hate, just because it's what he really needs.  And that's my job.  Plus I'm pretty freaking tired and have exams next week, so some extra studying time at night is a godsend.  Who knows, maybe Ben and I will have more energy to hang out, talk about things that don't involve poop, vomit, or onesies (but hey, if that's what YOU'RE into for your adult time, I'm not here to judge.)  Tonight, just three nights in, he took his bath, I read him a book and put him into his crib, and he fell asleep with no crying at all.

Of course, I can't just enjoy this development.  I've become convinced that he went down so easily because something's wrong with him, and have been checking incessantly to make sure he's still breathing.  My constant poking will probably be what wakes him up.

My friend mentioned above also said that to avoid the emotional trauma of hearing her kid crying, she'd get into the shower, and even take the time to shave.  Sadly, I could use more than a passing acquaintance with my razor, so maybe that's not the worst idea, either.

In other news, my sister got pissed at me because she said my blog about her wanting to live at the mall made her seem shallow.  That wasn't my point and I try to avoid pissing my loved ones off, particularly those who offer to babysit or buy my kid clothes.  So I am officially saying my sister is a delightful person, a good mother, a great sister, honestly one of the funniest people I know, and she wouldn't knock you down and stomp over you for a Kate Spade bag on sale.

Well, she probably wouldn't STOMP on you, anyway.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Which one of us is supposed to be crying?

After six months of begging, pleading, reading every book known to man, asking everyone I know for advice, and trying everything to get this kid to sleep, we're giving crying it out a try.  Basically because tonight he was just cranky, he took no naps, he is exhausted but kicking and fussing and just refusing to sleep.  You get to a point where you just say "Ok, we're putting you in your crib and seeing how this goes."  I told Ben that I was going to write a parenting book to trump all parenting books, the title of which is going to be "Do What You Want, Spend All Your Money On Books and Classes, Your Kid Will Sleep When They Goddamned Well Please."

Not that this is anyone's fault but mine that we have issues with this.  When Henry was born he had respiratory distress, it turned out to not be a big deal, but of course I was terrified that he was going to stop breathing in his sleep.  At night, the maternity ward insisted on bringing him back to the nursery, and for good reason-they said if my eyes weren't on him, then theirs were going to be, and I needed to sleep sometime.  Each night when they took them they had to give me a sleeping pill to keep me from waddling my recently disemboweled self down to the nursery to make sure he was still ok.  We started with him in the crib at home, when that didn't work, we moved him to the swing and I'd sleep on the couch next to him.  Turns out HE could sleep there, but I couldn't.  So we started co-sleeping.

Once again, I am not going to advocate one way of doing things over another.  I know there are people who wouldn't consider anything but cosleeping, and some that can't imagine their baby sleeping with them, and everything in between.  I did what worked for us, and what worked for me, really.  Maybe if I had pushed the crib thing we wouldn't be having this issue now, who the hell knows.

But the nights are just getting later and later-if he's with us he wants to play and talk and jab us in delicate areas with his elbows and feet (I don't know how he does it, but when he starts flailing he always repeatedly kicks my c-section scar, and for Ben, his genital area). He doesn't nap well at school and I knew we needed to make some changes, both for his well-being and so his day care teachers don't lynch me as an example to others who give in to their first-borns because we don't know any better.

It's been about thirty minutes and he's finally starting to settle, after some majorly intense screaming and crying (ok, the crying was partly me).  I have a big glass of red wine and some very comforting words from some other moms I know who are assuring me that he will not pack his bags and move out tomorrow, never to speak to me again.  I guess this is my first lesson in the whole "the right thing isn't always the easy thing" parenting school.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The best laid plans....

We were supposed to go out of town for the evening-not very far, only about an hour away. A good friend of mine has an art show opening, and we were going to get dressed up (ok, we were going to shower and put on clothes with minimal vomit stains) and hit the town, maybe grab some drinks with friends afterwards.  My baby brother Casey was lined up to babysit, which is good, because he's more paranoid about my kid than I am, and can be bribed with fresh bread and Stripes on DVD.

Naturally, when I picked Henry up from school, I walked into his classroom and he was screaming.  The teacher said "Yeah, he's definitely tired.  He only took a few fifteen minute naps."  As soon as I picked him up, he puked all over me.  While it was tempting to dump my vomiting, crabby kid off on my brother and hit the road, I knew I wouldn't feel right being an hour away while he was sick.  So home we stayed.  Instead of a nice night out, I took a long bath, took care of some long overdue facial hair removal, and ate microwave popcorn and had a beer.  I'm convinced that Henry senses when we have plans and finds a sick kid at day care to lick or have cough on him or something.

We've been pretty happy with his day care.  That's a real challenge-we knew we couldn't afford for me to not work, even if we seriously downgraded our lifestyle.  I was lamenting this on facebook when I was on leave, and some friends helpfully posted that they had managed to stay home by making some hard choices and giving up some luxuries.  My sister, who thinks Ben and I live a pretty....well, destitute is not the right word, but we don't have a lot of stuff.  She likes stuff.  I sometimes wonder about genetics and how everything aligns, because you would be hard pressed to find two people more different than my sister and I.  For example, I hate shopping, and do all of mine at Target or thrift stores.  I find one thing I like and buy it in every color they have, just to avoid trying things on.  I like camping and hiking and getting dirty.  Shannon, on the other hand, has said that when she retires she wants to live in one of those condos that attaches to a mall by a tube, so she never has to go outside.  We get along great now, but it was a long road to get here.

So she sees our lifestyle as pretty threadbare.  When she saw the posts about "giving up luxuries" she said "What the fuck do people expect you to give up, electricity?"  She wasn't too far off on that one.

So we had to start looking for day cares, which I did before the kid even popped out, because everyone who felt the need to give me advice basically said if you didn't get your kid on a waiting list five seconds after they were conceived, you were shit out of luck.  I went to visit a few and became more and more concerned.  At one home day care, when I knocked and the lady opened the door, the door knob fell off.  I walked past a row of playpens, all housing tiny inmates like a preschool Shawshank.  The looks they were giving me made me think of horror movies....that silent "Don't do it" stare.   While politeness forced me to take their info and promise a call back, all I really wanted to say was "Actually, I wouldn't leave my dogs here, much less my kid."

But we found a nice place in a church that is a few blocks away, that was highly recommended by people both of us work with.  He's in a class with seven other babies, the teachers are great, they seem to really like him, and normally he loves it there.  Once I dropped him off and realized I'd left his formula in the car.  I went to get it and came back in, he was playing in a bouncer.  I went over and said "Ok, buddy, I'm really leaving this time!"  And he gave me a look that said "Why the hell are you still here?  I'm BUSY."

I guess I'd rather have that than one of the kids who cries and clings to his mom's legs when she tries to leave....but the past few days have been a different story.  They don't say it, but I think Henry has been wearing the teachers out.  My kid makes them earn that money.  And possibly start saving for a hysterectomy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I'm thirty one today.  So far, the birthday has not gotten off to a banging start.

Tuesday I kept Henry home-he was coughing a bit and had a really bad night's sleep, and I just knew something wasn't right.  I get one day off a week anyway, and my job is awesomely flexible about it.  Wednesday he seemed back to his normal self-while I was getting ready for work, he was laying in bed with his dad, jabbering back and forth with him and laughing.

It's important to note that Ben and I have been under a lot of stress.  My grandfather was recently put into a home, and I'm trying to help my parents sort out all the details, and he's had some sick family members.  So with that, two jobs, exams coming up for me, and the kiddo, tension was running a bit high.

Fast forward to about noon on Wednesday.  Ben's out of town visiting said relative in hospital.  I get a call at work, and see on the ID that it's Henry's day care.  I pick up the phone and all I hear is screaming.  Judy, the assistant director, tells me Henry's not feeling so good, he hasn't eaten (which is a big red flag-Henry NEVER refuses food) and he's been screaming for an hour.  He's in the office.  Yes, my six-month old son got sent to the office and kicked out of the baby room.  So I dash out of work and get there as soon as I can.  Even though you know it's probably nothing major, when someone calls you and tells you your kid is sick, there's always that little voice that's saying "Maybe it's something serious...." and freaking you the hell out.

So I get there, and he's calmed down a bit.  Walk-ins at his doctor didn't start for an hour, so we went home.  I tried to give him a bottle, and to my surprise, he took it.  I thought "Well, maybe there's nothing wrong with him!"  But immediately after powering it down, he pukes.  All over me, down the front of my shirt, and all over him.

Great.  So I get us both changed and check my email, only to realize I have seriously screwed something up at work, which I HATE doing.  So I'm at the computer and on the phone trying to fix it and panicking.  Henry's on my lap fussing.  As I hit "send" on an email, Henry manages to grab a cold cup of coffee off of the desk, and dump it all over both of us.  Keep in mind we had BOTH just changed clothes.

I looked at him.  He smiled.  I shut down my email.  I very calmly set him down on the floor.  Then I sat beside him.  We are both covered in coffee.  I then burst into tears.  I mean, the hysterical, sobbing, hiccuping kind of tears.   He laughed.  Some days everything goes wrong and it's that one little thing that just makes you snap.  So I had myself a little breakdown.

Then I got up, got myself together, and took him to the doctor.  Ear infection, possible stomach bug.  The doctor learned how grabby he is when he got both ends of her stethoscope and nearly choked her out with it.  (He's developed a similar interest in my hair, necklaces, and glasses).

So today I'm home again, not getting paid, folding laundry and cleaning while he takes a much-needed nap.  I mentioned on facebook that this time last year, I was three months pregnant, and my cousin Jen pointed out that at least this year I could drink.

Wonder if anyone will judge me if I start before noon.....

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'd be thankful for some sleep.

Just put the kid down for maybe the fifth time of the evening.  If fighting sleep were boxing, Henry would be Evander Holyfield.  And the holiday threw him off.  At least we have two more days to recover.

This is generally my favorite time of year.  I love cold weather, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my birthday is coming up in less than a week.  I'm not too big on birthdays anymore (particularly after my twenty eighth, when I had a run-in with tequila, flashed my party guests, and gave myself a black eye) but in the past few years I've been reminded that getting older is a privilege and not everyone gets to.  Plus on my birthday this year I will be 31, but the kiddo will be six months exactly.  Ben asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year, and I said "A baby."  Careful what you wish for, because I spent my 30th three months pregnant and nauseous.  Worth it, though.

This holiday season has been pretty difficult for both Ben and I.  Lots of family drama, and it's mainly the kind you can't do a damn thing about.  We went and saw my family this year, and my parents were just stressed.  We still had fun-if you can go to a gathering involving my immediate and extended family and not hurt yourself laughing, you have remarkable restraint.  Even funerals tend to turn jovial.  But we are big and loud and can be overwhelming.  Of course, the baby is always the hit of the party, and Henry soaked up the attention.  He did pretty well, but he got tired and didn't want to go to sleep, which led to a meltdown.  What was funny was my family's reaction-everyone surrounded us like something was really wrong.

I mean, my siblings were freaking out, my mom was calling the nurse practitioner who lives across the street, and my dad was offering to drive to Wal-Mart (I'm not even sure what for).  Henry was getting more and more agitated, and Ben and I were looking at them like they'd lost their minds.  Finally I had to say "Look, everyone quiet down.  HE IS A BABY.  He is tired." and take him out of there to get him settled down.   But I think the screaming fit did temporarily cure a few cases of "I want a baby" that some people (I'm looking at YOU, older sister) were having.  Yeah, it's all fun and games when they're laughing, but as I've said, Henry goes from perfectly fine to really, really pissed with no in-between.  If I believed in astrology I'd blame his dual personality on him being a Gemini.

So we crashed out.  The bonus of having a kid is that it has dramatically upgraded our sleeping arrangements.  We actually got a bedroom, instead of the busted, ancient fold-out couch that I'm pretty sure both of my brothers lost their virginity on.  Later I found out that Dad wanted to drive to Wal-Mart at ten at night to get Henry a stroller because my mom thought he needed a walk.  Never mind that it was thirty degrees out and he would have been asleep by the time Dad got back.  Mom's the type that gets stressed about one thing and then just starts inventing trouble.  I had to explain to her that the kid is almost six months old and we've managed to get this far.  As she was walking upstairs I said "Go to sleep, don't make up trouble, Henry's asleep."  She turned back to me and said "Is he on his back????"  I just rolled my eyes and said "No, Mom, we let him sleep on his stomach with a blanket over his head."  I mean, come on.  I did read some books and I do know the basics.

But in the end I know that Henry (and I) are lucky to have a family that loves us.  Not everyone's so lucky, and my mom came from such a crappy background that I'm amazed she is anything close to a functional adult.  To give you an idea of what she grew up with, my grandmother (her mom) was admiring my son and said "I just don't understand how you two made such a beautiful baby."

And she wonders why we want her to go into a home.....Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's a boy! Also, we're going to need new sheets.

I have been amazed recently at how popular home birthing is/is becoming in Richmond.  I have friends, neighbors and coworkers who have all done it, attempted it, or are attempting it.

**Disclaimer-this blog is about how I see home birthing from my perspective, as an option for me.  I don't care how anyone else births their baby, I haven't done extensive research, I am not going to try to convince you to do it or not do it, and since my kid is already out, I don't really have a horse in this race.  These are just observations on my part and I'm not going to debate the issues surrounding home birthing because I'm not an expert on it.  I'm not an expert on anything, except maybe Simpsons trivia.**

Moving on.

After spending four days in the hospital after the birth of my kid, I can see the appeal in a home birth.  The whole time I was in labor,  (before I got my epidural) I was stuck in an uncomfortable bed, and every time I had to pee (which was often) I had to get a nurse to come in and unhook me from ten different monitors, drag myself and my IV bag in there, go, attempt to clean up the mess, and get them to hook me back up, only to have to go again ten minutes later.  I hated being stuck in a strange place for so long, and can see liking being at home, being able to go outside for walks, being able to watch a movie....

But on the other hand, the hospital had the drugs.  And as valiantly as I tried to have a natural birth, after twelve hours of labor, I had had enough.  Earlier they had given me Stadol, but that was a really unpleasant experience for me.  Stadol made me feel like when you're out with friends, and you decide taking multiple shots is a GREAT idea, until it hits you that you are WAY too drunk, and there's nothing you can do about it.  That's exactly how I felt on that stuff-I had the spins, was nauseous, and kept trying to bargain my way into feeling normal (who I was bargaining with is debatable, Ben was asleep and the nurses were MIA until I paged them for one of my billion bathroom trips).

So after twelve hours of back labor and wishing for death, I finally decided I could not take it anymore, I turned to Ben.  Now, he was asleep, and to say Ben sleeps solid is like saying that Elton John is just a little bit gay.  Nothing wakes him up-even piercing baby screams, it turns out.  So I didn't know if I'd be able to get him up, I was actually looking for something to throw at him.  I gritted my teeth and said "Ben."  Must have been something about my tone, but he shot off that couch like someone had stabbed him, and I continued "Go get someone.  And get them to give me something.  NOW."  And off he went.

And it turned out that there was no way that kid was taking the basement exit anyway, and I ended up having a C-section, so I was grateful for the hospital and all the help and all the morphine.  Earlier in my pregnancy when I had pitched the idea of home birth to Ben, he'd had one thing to say "No way."  He was concerned about me and the baby, but I think he was also afraid that I was going to poop on our bed and he was going to have to clean it up.

But my neighbor had a home birth, and really, it seemed to not faze her at all.  Another friend tried one, but had to go to the hospital because the baby was breech, where she pushed for over two hours before surgery was necessary.  Of course, she also competes in Iron Man triathlons, so she's either batsh*t crazy or a complete badass (if you met her, you'd know it was the latter).  Having your baby and then being home around your own stuff and your own shower and your own food sounds ok to me.

Plus then you can limit the number of people who have access to you-I don't even want to think about how many people saw my private parts.  I went from being a fairly modest person to thinking that maybe I should just strip for a living, because hell, everyone had seen it anyway, so I may as well make some money off of it.  The first time I met the nurse who was with me all day the day Henry was actually born, the doctor had just gotten me set up for an exam, so when the nurse (and an observing student, it turns out) walked into the room, the first thing they saw was the place where all life originates, splayed out in what I'm sure was a truly flattering way.

I just said "Hi, I'm Megan, the person attached to this vagina."  And she laughed and said "I already like you."  She was great, and that made me wish she could have stayed with me the whole time.  With a midwife or a doula, you get that-the full-time company and attention of someone who knows what's going on and knows what they're doing.  Ben was a trooper, but he was just as lost and possibly more scared than me.  So maybe if there's a next time I'll take some of the pressure off him, and he won't eye me the whole time like the kid's going to pop out Alien-style.  We'll see.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I know kids tend to embarrass you when they're young, and then the tables get turned when they're older, and they're humiliated by you.  Henry seems to time loud farts and projectile vomiting so that he does both in public places with an attentive crowd.  Now, when he farts really loud, he looks at me, very surprised, and says "OH!"  I'm sure we're not far from the point when he's announcing that he pooped his pants or commenting on strangers loudly.

I don't know how much luck he's going to have making me blush, though.  I'm the kind of person who is constantly in embarrassing situations.  I always say or do the wrong thing, miss the obvious joke, have the fly undone, the tampon hanging out of my's at the point where I don't really get bothered by it.  Here's an example.

A few years ago I was having a sharp stabbing pain in my right side, so I go to the doctor.  I had to go to one of those urgent care places, where there's just one main room, where all the doctors and nurses hang out, and smaller patient rooms with curtains and windows.  The doctor does an exam, and given my history, is concerned that I have an ovarian cyst, so they want to do a pelvic exam.  The nurse tells me to take my pants off and cover up with a sheet (ladies, you know the drill).  So she hands me the sheet, then leaves and closes the curtain.

I drop trou, and fold my pants and underwear and put them in the chair.  Here I have a dilemma.  It was about one pm, so my socks and shoes had been on for a while.  I was really worried that my feet would smell, and, if you're familiar with a pelvic, your feet are basically up by the doctor's ears, so no way are they missing it.  As I stand there in a dress shirt, black socks, and nothing else, I decide to attempt to lift my foot closer to my face to see if it's that bad.

At that moment, the nurse bustles in, clearly trying not to laugh.  She says "Let me just close this" and I turn.

Then I realize that while she closed the curtain to the DOOR, the one to the glass window is not closed, and all of the doctors, nurses, and patients standing in the main room can clearly see me, ass to the window, smelling my own foot.

I mean, what do you even do at that point?  I just got through the exam, went back to work, found one of my friends, and said "I have to tell you this or I'll never get over it."

I've found the sooner you share the story, and the more people laugh at it, the sooner you get over it.  If you never share it, it just hides in the back of your brain and picks the perfect moment to pop out and make you do that "AUUUGGGHHH" cringe you do when you remember a time when you've made an ass out of yourself (or in my case, shown one).

So with that in mind, I have to relate a story that just happened.  I was on my way to class, in the business school.  I realized as I was walking down the hall that my shoe was untied, so I step to the side to tie it.  There's a guy sitting on the floor next to me.  As I kneel down, the weight of my bookbag and the crouching position results in...well, there's no way to make this sound dainty.  I farted.   Pretty much right in this guy's face.  Loudly.

As I look up, I realize that although there are literally hundreds of people in the building, and I"m not even on the same floor as my classroom, the guy I have just basically farted on happens to be the guy who sits next to me in class.  He wouldn't even look at me through a three hour long accounting class, so I couldn't even make a joke about it.

So bring it, kid.  I'm not saying I'm embarrassment-proof, but I wonder if the brief few years where you talk about your penis in public and tell people you know where babies come from is going to equal out the lifetime you have to deal with me.

Monday, November 15, 2010


About to face plant onto the desk while I'm typing, because while my friends with babies are starting to get a full night's sleep, my little guy is teething and has a fever and is generally miserable.  He was up every hour and half last night, and we seriously began to inspect him for signs of vampirism.  As the evening wore on I progressed from feeding and cuddling him, to walking him around the house, to singing to him, to promising him a car, my PIN number, power of attorney, and directions to Vegas if he'd just let me sleep a few consecutive hours.

No dice.  But I know he was at least as unhappy as me, he was just whiny and fidgety, and that's not like him.  Henry generally has two moods-really happy, or really, really pissed, and he snaps between the two with little to no warning.  Ben and I couldn't keep him happy this morning while we were trying to get ready, and he wanted no part of his car seat.

Of course, since he likes to make me look bad and get attention, as soon as we walked into day care he was all smiles.  I was telling his teacher that he was crabby, and he just looked at me and laughed.  Some days it's really hard to leave him at day care-other days it is not.

I'm lucky in that department, though, because he's at a great place, and they all really seem to adore him.  It's like he's a rock star when we walk down the hall there-teachers come out of all the classrooms to say hi to him, and tell me "Oh, I can't wait til he's in MY class!" and he just grins and bats his eyes and is adorable.  Never mind that ten minutes before that he was grabbing the rail of his changing table, screaming, and shaking it so hard the whole thing was moving.  When Henry's in public, he's going to put on a show.  He gets that from his dad.

But he's home now, and after about an hour of mood swinging and alternately yelling at and attempting to eat his stuffed sheep, he's crashed out.  It's only six thirty, but I'm tempted to join him.  Chances are we'll be up at three.  And suffice to say, I've lost my twentysomething years' ability to function on four hours of sleep.  To be honest, I wasn't a charmer when I tried to do it then.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hey, we made it through a dinner!

Even though Henry is close to six months old, we've never taken him to a restaurant.  There are a few reasons for that-diapers eat into our "going out" money a bit, plus Ben really enjoys to cook, so we didn't go out that much in the first place.  But we also were afraid of being "that" couple-you know, the one with the screaming baby that is ruining the entire place's meal and they seem oblivious.  We've both waited tables and seen this to different degrees, from the parent that immediately gets up and takes the kid outside, to the parents who let their kids trash the place because "we have a right to go out, too."

I actually had polar opposites one night at a diner that I worked at for years.  One table was three young, upper middle class moms with multiple kids and designer everything, and one was a....well, you'd probably say redneck lady with her mother, and her three young kids.  While the three moms chatted over wine and let their kids run freely around, getting in the waitstaff's way and dumping stuff on the floor, the three other kids sat quietly as their mom and grandmother smoked and chatted.  At one point the youngest kid from the quiet table leaned out to get a better look at what was causing that ruckus.  Mom took a drag off her cigarette, pointed at him and said "Don't. Even. Think about it."  He sat back down and finished his meal while the other kids threw food and the three moms got hate daggers from everyone in the room.  Not that they cared, because as far as they were concerned their kids had a right to do whatever they wanted.

Ok, first of all, going out to dinner is not a right to anyone.  And even if it is, you don't have the right to wreck other people's nights.  It's also extremely dangerous to let small kids run around people carrying hot food on heavy plates.  I know people may not agree with me, but all three of my siblings and I had this ingrained in us from a very early age-we're going out to dinner, it is a treat, and the minute you act up, your ass is headed outside.  There were no second chances, and my parents were perfectly willing to carry out any threat they put out there, even if it meant their dinner was wrecked, too.  This wasn't a problem when it was just my sister and me, because we loved getting dressed up and going out and people giving us compliments on our behavior.  Then Cody showed up, and my dad spent every meal out til he was about five sitting on the curb outside with a screaming kid.  I don't know what it was about public eateries, but man, that kid would just flip out.  And since we didn't know how Henry would react to being stuck in one place, and having new people around, we just didn't go out.  There's also a hangup now with size-he doesn't fit in his carrying car seat (and won't stay in it anyway, if he knows there's action going on around him) but he can't hold himself up enough to be in a high chair.  So we either have to hold him or stash him under a seat like a purse (this is a joke. Don't call CPS).

But we realized at some point we'd be out and need to grab something to eat, so we stopped for Mexican today.  Henry seemed to dig it, he was looking around and smiling at people.  Still don't think we're up to taking him out to dinner.  Partly because I don't know how much we'd enjoy it, because we'd be anticipating a yell or a massive crap or a surprise projectile vomit (he really likes pulling that one in the grocery store checkout line, generally as some old lady is cooing over how cute he is).  But we at least know that if we need to stop and grab a bite, we can.  And if it's a bad day....well, I guess we'll be sitting on the curb.  Wave if you see us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day

This is an important day to me, though it can be hard to express why sometimes.  I wish we were not a nation at war.  I think about moms in other countries, just trying to live their lives with no agenda, and to raise their kids just like we are here, and I think about those moms living with the knowledge that their kids could be hurt or worse at any moment.  I don't know how that is-we live in a pretty safe environment (well, except for sudden rolling and cut-rate toys I buy).  I know that even if Ben and I went broke, our kid would have a roof over his head and enough food to eat, and that's not something that all moms know.  And, while this strays from the whole humor thing, the fact that children starve in this day and age is inexcusable.

Veteran's Day also has a special meaning to me because my little brother is one.  Cody was a soldier as soon as he knew how to be anything.  He couldn't have been older than four or five when he started asking for MREs from the army surplus store for birthday presents, and camping out in the backyard.  Coming from a pretty liberal family, he had to feel out of place a lot.  He went to VMI, and enlisted.  And in 2007 ( I think, man, these years went by fast) he got sent to Iraq.

Having a family member overseas is...well, not to be crude, but it just fucking sucks.  You spend every day wondering if they're safe, and if there's a news report about soldiers getting killed, your heart doesn't beat until you get an email from them telling you that they're ok.  Because you don't know, that could be them.  Even when you find out it's not, you think about that family that's getting a knock on their door.

This has been a tumultuous few years for our country, and it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and the headlines, which lately, have been all about politics.  It's easy to forget that we have troops giving their lives every single day.  Think about sending a package to a soldier overseas-I did it for family members and a few friends, and it is about the best feeling ever.  Also, support services for our troops once they come home.  I don't give a damn about costs or higher taxes for this-we owe these men and women a debt.

I try to do some advocacy for legislation the Wounded Warrior program works on, so please, contact your congressperson and ask them to support

This is a bill generated to increase services offered to veterans with traumatic brain injuries.

Send a letter, send an email, send a package full of discount halloween candy to someone through

Don't let these men and women be an afterthought.

I know, not so much hilarity.  If you want, I'll try to post a picture of Cody being tased at his last Army training.  Trust me, we're all on the edge of our seats waiting for that.  As my dad commented, (I'm paraphrasing, but this is cloe) "I love him, but I wouldn't mind pulling the trigger."

For you moms and dads who stay home and take care of your families while your partners are overseas-you are heroes, too, and I am amazed by what you do.

Thriftiness FAIL

So I was so happy about finding Henry a Jumparoo, and he just loves the thing-until today, when several of the straps broke and he fell through it.  I was in the kitchen and noticed the lack of bouncing, and both dogs were running around it, obviously freaking out-thankfully he didn't fall all the way through.  But he was definitely squished in there.

When Ben looked at it he saw that the straps were really worn-of course, something we should have looked at when we brought the damn thing home, but also something the store should have checked.  So I'm going to rescind my "used toy" opinions-well, edit it anyway, to say that if you're going to count on something to support your kid's weight, you want to go ahead and spend the money to buy a new one.  We learned the hard way.  Of course, after this,  I plan to never buy Henry toys ever again, and also to never put him down.

Ben started talking about all the near-death experiences he had as a child in an attempt (I think) to make me feel better.  Surprisingly, the realization that I have the rest of my life to have moments like these does not improve my state of mind....

Oh well.  We've got a three day weekend coming up, going to see a new baby tomorrow.  Hopefully we can make it through the weekend without major incident.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ah, the arguing

I had to wait to write a more detailed post on fighting with your partner til I wasn't fighting with mine.  Writing in the heat of the moment tends to make people either reveal too much, or oversimplify (why do we fight?  because he's an asshole, that's why).  But I know that's not true- I married a good man who loves his wife and kid, but we do have our moments.

I think a big part of that is that Ben and I are both really independent people, which can be really good-we don't need to constantly be around each other, we both have our own lives, jealousy has never really been an issue between us- but it also can be bad.  Neither one of us likes to admit that we're wrong, or that we could have handled something better.  Hell, most of our fights are over stupid stuff and never have any resolution, they just kind of fizzle out over a few days.  I realize this probably isn't healthy but hey, it's working so far.

I think at first I was afraid to be away from the baby, and had a much easier time adapting to taking care of him.  Let's face it-for women, life changes completely as soon as you find out you're pregnant, so you have more time to adjust to it.  Sometimes I think dads don't have a really good grasp on what's going on.  Ben likes to think that things will work themselves out.  He almost gave me a stroke during our wedding planning, because he kept insisting that things would fall into place on their own, and I kept insisting that no, a party involving over a hundred people traveling from hundreds of miles away did not "just happen".

So the baby came and I think he was pretty intimidated by it.  Ben's a fix-it guy, which is a big part of the reason why I married him.  Anything that breaks on a car or a house is no problem.  But babies are another story-they don't respond to any sort of rational process, and what worked yesterday probably won't work today.

I remember the first time I left him alone with Henry.  It was Father's Day, and Henry was about three weeks old.  I ran out to get some dinner for Ben, and stopped to pick him up some beer.  I was pulling onto our road when my phone started to ring.  I saw it was him and didn't answer, because I was almost there.  I pulled into the driveway and see Ben standing on the porch.  As I get out of the car, I hear the baby crying, and Ben looks at me and says "Aren't you going to come inside???"

Being a smartass, I responded "No, it's 95 degrees out, I thought I'd spend the night in the yard."

Not helpful.

So I get inside and he runs through the list of things he's tried, and the baby is still crying, and Ben is looking at me like there's a mark of the beast on the kid somewhere and it's my fault, so I asked if he'd fed him.  Nope.  I told him that was always the go-to with a newborn-if they're crying, it's not like they're upset about world events.

But between his frustration and my sarcasm, sometimes we run into problems.  It's getting better as Henry gets a bit older, and I think will improve more once the kid can talk and tell us what he wants.  So keep in mind that everybody's new at this at one point, and the kid's had ten months to get used to Mom, and vice versa, before they even come out.  Don't take it too personally, dads.

Not that the arguing stops, unless you're one of those irritating couples that calls each other "babe" and are constantly falling all over each other years after you met.  But quite frankly, I think a couple who never argues is headed for a major blowout.  That's where stories like "And then he left the toothpaste cap off, so I stabbed him with a pitchfork" originate.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Didn't even have to use my AK

Today was a good day.  Didn't sleep much with Henry, but wasn't expecting it after a day of shots (vaccination shots, not me drinking liquor shots, I would have gotten PLENTY of sleep then).  Got up, got a haircut, which is something I really hate to do-anything that requires that I sit still while someone I don't really know messes with part of me just drives me nuts.  But it is kind of important that I look professional at work, so the hair's got to stay slightly under control.  Even left it longer because, as Ben helpfully pointed out, "Just because you're a mom doesn't mean you need to cut your hair off and look like a lesbian."   I rolled my eyes when he said that but have to admit that short hair makes me look like I teach gym for a living.

Then went by Kids Grow, a great second-hand store near my house.  I was looking for a jumper.  They've got one at Henry's day care, and he loves the thing.  So much so that he tries to bounce in things that are not bounceable, like other toys and on my lap.  Since I don't want to have to explain all the bruises on my upper thighs to my gynecologist at my next exam, off to the store I went.  Found one for $25, and you have never seen such a happy kid.  I told Ben it cost $20 (I just wasn't paying that close attention to the cost) and he found the receipt and pointed out that it was $25.  I told him if I'd known how much Henry would like it, I'd have happily given then a kidney for it.  He agreed.  We don't argue about money too much, I guess that's kind of the silver lining to not having any.

Then I headed out for a run, and it's just a perfect fall day, and I felt pretty good.  I was crunching through the leaves and thinking of my happy baby and husband back home, and feeling really lucky.  Of course, the odds were good that I wasn't going to come home to a happy baby and husband, but rather a screaming kid who had somehow managed to shit out the neckhole of his shirt and a husband who looked like he'd just made it on the last chopper out of Saigon (I've seen some things, man) but I like to be optimistic.

And I did come home to a happily bouncing baby, watching his dad play guitar.  I know Jumparoos sell for a lot new, but I highly recommend stalking your local second-hand stores for one.  That thing is worth its weight in gold.  The exersaucer is great, but after about ten minutes he's had enough and starts yelling at the stuffed sun rattle on there.  I'm worried if we let him take out his anger on the sun too much, he's going to turn out goth, and there's some things I just can't handle in a teenager.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shots and other excitement....

Big Henry had a checkup today, still in the 99th percentile for weight, height, and head size (I told the doctor the head size wasn't really surprising.  People in my family can't find hats that fit).  While we were in the lobby he decided to puke down the side of me, a nurse was nice enough to help wipe the two of us off with kleenex (that's how you know you have a good pediatrician's office, by the way).  Big boy had two shots and only cried for a bit-I still want to bawl when I see them stick the needle in him.

But earlier, when I went to pick him up from daycare, he was in one of the "extra" onesies we give them, which means he had some sort of bodily fluid explosion and the outfit we dropped him off in was unwearable.  (We have a don't ask/don't tell policy about these incidences). It's gotten pretty cold here, so I called Ben and told him we were going to run by the house and pick up some pants and a shirt so he wouldn't freeze.  I pull up to the house and Ben comes out, hands me an outfit, and kisses Henry, and we hit the road to the doctor.

Here is why I don't let Ben pick his clothes out often.  When I looked closer, I realized he'd given me a red corduroy button down dress shirt and a pair of black fleece sweatpants. WTF.  I used to think I wouldn't care what my kid wore, because God knows I don't pay attention to my own appearance and have been known to wander out in public looking homeless, but I do have some objections to my son going out of the house looking like a hobo or a mental patient.  But we had no choice, so we went formal on top, casual on the bottom.  And Ben thinks I'm being ridiculous and too critical...

Afterwards we had a lovely visit with some friends who had a baby about eight weeks after we had Henry-it was really nice to talk to another mom.  My childless friends are invaluable-they remind me that there's a word outside of me and my kid and that most people really don't want to hear about every little cute thing that he does, but you need other moms, too.  Not just for baby stuff, but for life stuff-they understand the transformation you've gone through.  I was bitching about Ben a bit, and my friend said we'd need some girl time-her husband was home.  I certainly don't want any of my friends to be unhappy or argue with their spouses, but it was almost a relief to hear that they'd had some of the same arguments we had.

Because face it, having a kid is a test on your marriage or relationship.  Your focus changes and your life changes and I think sometimes partners expect everything to go back to normal, but you don't feel like the old you.  Not just in a physical way (although spending nine months looking progressively more like a walrus and then having a small human being torn out of me certainly didn't make me want to head to Victoria's Secret and throw down in the bedroom) but your mindset.  I imagine dads feel really, really bewildered.

My tendency is to joke and minimize things, but you know, I really don't want to trivialize this because I didn't read a book that dealt with it adequately.  This time can be really hard for even the most solid of partners.  It can be depressing, and isolating, and make you feel like you're not sure that your partner wants to stick things out with you.  You might differ on your ways of handling issues, or avoid conflict altogether by not talking.  But you're not alone-I have yet to talk to a couple with children who didn't go through this on one level or another.  I think a lot of people are ashamed to talk about it because you think the world expects you to be so happy because you have a beautiful baby, and you are.  As I told a friend of mine who said something about babies causing marital troubles, it's nothing about the baby, he's great.  It's us.  I think it can be just easier to blame it on the thing that caused the change, if that makes sense.

Not to make anyone think that things are just falling apart, because they aren't.  But part of this blog is humor and part is honesty, and if you're a new mom alone with a baby then you already feel set apart, and even little arguments can start to drag you down.  Trust me, you're not alone.  You're not just figuring out a baby, you're figuring out a new part of yourself.

Now if I find any answers, I'll let you know.  Actually, I won't, I'll write a book and go on Oprah and buy my own freaking island because I'm pretty sure I'd hit paydirt.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'm pretty lucky in that I popped out a kid right before a lot of my friends did the same, so I kind of have a built in support group (not to mention my next-door neighbor, Mary, who came over the first day we brought Henry home and managed to talk me through some breast feeding panic).  My cousin Jen and I were talking today about sickness-her baby has her first cold, and Jen, being a Type A person (don't be mad if you're reading this, you know it's true) panicked a bit.  But it's easy to do.  Fear and paranoia take on a whole new meaning when you have a sick infant, especially when you start reading about kids getting sick and dying in other places.  You go from "I'm sure he's fine" to "OH MY GOD I'M BEING A SLACK MOTHER AND HE'S PROBABLY GOT BIRD FLU" in a very short time, and probably cycle through that a few times before your spouse hands you a drink and tells you to calm the fuck down.  It's probably nothing major, so call your dr's office and let them talk you through it.  They're used to it.  If they blow you off and you're still concerned, take your kid to an urgent care center, and later, find a new doctor.  It is completely natural for a new mom to be concerned.  I mean, don't be a shrieking unreasonable harpy to your kid's pediatrician, but follow your instincts.

Here's the only place where I'll give overt parenting advice.  Listen to your pediatrician and vaccinate your children.  There is no link between vaccinations and autism, but there certainly is a link between not vaccinating your children and outcrops of diseases that were nearly eradicated.  No matter what Jenny McCarthy says, vaccinating your child is a good idea.  The chick was a Playmate, for God's sake.   Look to her when you want....I don't know, a basis for your boob job, but listen to your doctor when it comes to taking care of your kid.

So Jen and I were talking back and forth, and I realized even the most laid-back mom panics to see her kid sick.  When Henry got his stomach flu, I was getting ready to take him running, and Ben and I were arguing about something (side note-for more on post-and pre-baby arguing, see later blogs, tentatively titled "You don't do a goddamn thing around here" and " we haven't had sex since a Republican was in the White House").  I rolled Henry out in his stroller, and turned to say something smartass to Ben, and when I turned back, the kid just hurled.  I mean, this was not spitting up.  He coated himself.  I burst into tears and immediately wanted to take him to the hospital.

But I came to my senses, called his pediatrician's office, and got talked down.  He turned out to be fine after a few more puking incidences and a really long nap.  Ben and I were completely leveled by the same flu about 24 hours later.

It sucks.  Especially when you're a new mom and your kid is small.  Call your mom, call your friends with babies, it's ok, they've been there.  What's great about the group of moms I know is that even if they're not all local, I have their support all the time.  And they have mine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here we go again....

We managed to get through last weekend disease-free, but Friday we started noticing some crusties in Henry's eyes....yep, he's got pinkeye.  Can't go back to day care til Wednesday, so that means I take a day off, and so does Ben.  Thank God I have an understanding boss-I've only been there two freaking months and have had to miss for his illnesses, and then for mine when I catch whatever he has.  I know my former workplace wouldn't have been so understanding.

But then again my former job was a den of passive aggressive gossips and miserable people-with some notable exceptions.  When you go to HR to try to get some help dealing with difficult people and the HR staffperson you talk to says "A lot of people at your office are on medication to deal with it til retirement.  That, or they have a really strong relationship with their church."

Look, I'm all for people having whatever faith they want.  But when the HR policy at a GOVERNMENT AGENCY is "Turn to Jesus"...well, it's just time to get the hell out.  When she said that to me, and started talking to me about her relationship with the Lord, I really wanted to say "Are you shitting me?"  Totally inappropriate.

And finding work in a great place really makes you realize how much a toxic job can affect your life-your health, your mood, your relationship with other people-everything.

Other than that this weekend has been interesting, we've had some family drama.  My sister called me to tell me about it, and Henry was asleep on an overstuffed chair. I got up to talk to her, and somehow he managed to roll himself off of it-luckily he landed on a pillow and was fine, but I was completely horrified.  The feeling I had when I saw that empty chair and didn't know if he was okay or not-that was the worst feeling I've ever had.  It just reminded me of this new vulnerability that comes with having a kid, the realization that if anything happened to them, it would kill you.  I remember sitting at home the first week I had him home and just crying, thinking about all the things that could happen to him.  (Of course, when I started obsessing about things like "What if we take him to the beach and a shark eats him?" I realized that post-partum depression is no joke and got some help for it).  I don't want to be one of those irritating people who dramatically heaves about how "you just don't understand until you have a child" but it's certainly a feeling that I'd never had before I had one.  I have lots of people I love, but that kid is a piece of me.  He's my whole life. And those moments will never stop-when I'm not sure where he is or if he's ok.  God help me when he starts driving and misses curfew.

So yesterday I felt like a horrible mother-he has never rolled from belly to back in front of me, and still hasn't, I had no idea he could move that much.  A word of advice to all the new moms who read this-never assume ANYTHING.  Some silver linings, though-lots of people have similar stories and will tell them to you to make you feel better, and I decided that the crib is no longer an optional piece of furniture-he is sleeping in that damn thing.  The fall gave me the motivation and determination to get him sleeping in it.

And he's in it now, looking like a little Halloween prisoner in his orange and black striped PJs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Heading to D.C.

So we've been talking about it forever, and it looks like (barring any further contagious disease in the house) we'll be heading to D.C. this weekend for the Rally to Restore Sanity. We're taking the little guy-our first big trip with him.  Well, really our first trip with him period, except maybe to the store and such.  We've been reticent to take him out to restaurants and the like-Ben and I both waited tables at one point, and realize the havoc a screaming child can wreak on innocent people's evenings.  Henry has had what we call a "pleasure sensor" in him since birth-meaning he saves his epic freakouts for when we're about to enjoy a really good meal, or on the infrequent occasions where we have enough energy to attempt to have sex.

But as soon as Jon Stewart announced the event, I've wanted to go.  I've been really depressed about the direction this nation is taking-and I don't even mean economically.  The current media environment encourages the biggest whackjobs to have the most airtime, and political leaders are actually starting to cater to the periphery.   Stewart has a great point-you don't hear from the majority of us, who know that the solution lies somewhere in between "SOCIALISM" and "REPUBLICANS HATE BABIES" but we have things to do.  And let's face it, most of  us, public relations-wise, just aren't that interesting.

I'm thrilled for there to be a public event where rational, reasonable people can gather and let the world know that what they see on fox news is not an accurate depiction of America.  I'm glad that most of us know that our problems won't be solved overnight, and hell, even admit that we CAUSED some of the problems.  As a nation, we want everything too fast, and we want too much.  When Ben and I started talking about buying a house, we went to a bank to discuss what kind of loan we qualified for.  More than one bank tried to talk us into signing onto more than a quarter of a million dollars in home loans.

OVER $250,000.  For a teacher, and an administrative assistant (which everyone knows is just a nice way of saying secretary) with massive school loan debt.  With our income, the only way we could have afforded those mortgage payments is if we'd given up all luxuries, including food, and I'd pimped Ben out on the side to elderly widows.  But plenty of people signed on to mortgages they couldn't afford-you can chalk that up to ignorance or banks taking advantage, or both.  This is a culture where more is better, and we don't like to wait for anything. Maybe we should learn to do that.

So I'm happy for the chance to take my kid to an event like this, even though he won't remember it, and, with our luck, will take a dump that will coat him, me, and several passerby.  I generally avoid political discussion, particularly now when the nation seems so polarized.  But hey, it's time to work together.  It's time to fix this mess.  And it's ok if it takes some time to do it.  Rome wasn't built in a day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleep? I'm pretty sure I did that on Tuesday.

Since I was the first one in the pregnant herd to have my kid, I sometimes get asked advice, mainly on breast feeding and sleeping.  Breast feeding I can sometimes help with.  But when people ask me about sleep....I just say "umm...." and look at my child, who is wide awake and playing at 11pm despite my desperate attempts to get him down.

At first, I was afraid to sleep when he did, because he had some respiratory problems at birth, and I was freaked out that he'd stop breathing.  Often, the only way both of us could sleep is if he was on my chest.  And yes, lots of people told me I was spoiling him.  But honestly, I don't think it's that bad.  I'm pretty sure by the time he reaches puberty, he won't want to crash with his dad and me.  And he may be the only baby I ever have-I kind of want to enjoy the time I have with him til he wakes up one day and I'm the lamest person he knows and hugging me will be a personal sacrifice on his part.  I'm away from him enough with work and school, and I really treasure any time we have together.  Again, one day he's going to not want anything to do with me.

Part of me is ready for that, and really, you want that for your kid-you don't want to have your kid turn forty, still live in your basement, and call you Mommy.  (Well, at least until he snaps, kills you, and stores you in the freezer.  It happens.  Watch Law & Order sometime).  So I've not been really assertive about the whole sleeping-in-the-crib thing, and he hasn't liked the crib from the get go.  But he's getting bigger now, and is extremely fond of kicking us in the genital/stomach area when WE'RE trying to sleep, so the move needs to be made.

I still have no advice, by the way.  He's in his crib right now, with his brand new mobile that plays classical music at a soft level.  From what I can hear, he's having quite an animated conversation with it and sounds like he recently drank a Red Bull.

Oh well.  Baby steps.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yeah, I know

I should be studying.  But I really, really don't want to. I finished my master's degree in public administration just in time for every government agency to go on a hiring freeze, so I decided to work towards a graduate certificate in business admin to round things out.  My basic plan is either to go to school til someone hires me and pays me a lot of money, or to fake my own death to get out of my mountain of student loans.  We'll see which one comes to pass.

Took the kiddo running again today...getting back into shape sucks.  I know I'll feel great when I can run five miles easily again, it's just the getting there.  And I can't even blame it on him-I was out of shape when I got pregnant.  If you're looking to get knocked up, do yourself a favor and start exercising NOW.  It will make the whole pregnancy and labor thing way easier on you, and you'll bounce back faster.

When Ben and I met I was in great shape-mainly because it was six months after I'd ended an engagement to a guy who, while being totally wrong for me and quite possibly into dudes, was someone I really adored, and the split was painful.  I dealt with it like I dealt with most hard times back then-lots of exercise with the occasional binge drinking thrown in for good measure.  It was nothing for me to be in a crappy mood, and for me to throw on my running shoes and head out for an hour.

Then I met Ben, and he can really cook and got me into drinking good quality beer in smaller volumes, and you know how you fall into the habit of just sitting around staring at someone and drinking wine or eating.....yeah, let's just say that after our wedding it caught up with me in a major way.  (I appreciate the truth in the whole "get married and let yourself go" thing now).  When we decided to try for a baby I figured I'd have a year or so to get back into shape, but Henry decided otherwise.

But I really hate being the kind of person who bitches about gaining weight and does absolutely nothing about it, so out I go.  We're slow, and it's painful.  Plus there's a group of women I always manage to see, no matter what time I go, that are all perfect and their clothes match and their hair looks great and even worse, they're actual runners-they keep a pretty good pace.

I, on the other hand, generally look like I just rolled out of bed and headed out in whatever I slept in (probably because that's what I do), may have two different socks on, my hair makes it appear that I've recently been electrocuted....yeah, not so cute.  It's hard not to hold it against people who always look put together when you never quite do.  Even when I try hard to appear well dressed and made up, something usually goes wrong-I get splashed by a truck going through a puddle, or the kid barfs on me-it just never works out.

But I think dealing with body and appearance issues your whole life kind of forces you to develop a sense of humor.  That, or go postal on your eyebrow waxer when she helpfully asks you, "Do you want me to do your chin while I'm here?"


Friday, October 22, 2010

Uh....two centimeters. And how's YOUR vagina?

Some good friends had a baby girl last night, and they got me thinking about pregnancy, and all the weird shit that happens during it.  Not just the weird stuff that happens to you, like seriously abnormal dreams and gas that could kill a bull moose.  But what seeing a pregnant woman tends to do to other people.  Perfect strangers will ask you really personal questions (see title of blog) and even touch you.  I managed to avoid the stranger-rubbing-my-belly thing, I think by looking really pissed throughout most of my pregnancy.  But random people would ask me if I was planning a natural birth, if I was planning (or am currently) breast feeding, and speculate about the state of my personal area post-baby.  I don't really get why that is.  It's like seeing a big belly tells people "Hey, let me just ignore common sense and decency and ask this person I don't know about the state of her cervix or usage of her boobs."

Oh well.  There are things I miss about being pregnant.  People are really nice to you.  I've maintained that you can be doing pretty much anything and people think you're cute.  You could be clubbing a baby seal, and not only would no one stop you, but several people will stop and offer to help.

Then they'll assure you that your life is over, tell your husband that he'd "better get his now, while he still can!" and grab their love handles and say "These don't go away after the baby!"  It's enough to make you want to go into hibernation until the damn kid comes out.  Everyone says all the stuff you go through is worth it when you see your baby, and that's true.  And if you're vengeful like me, you'll save some of that gas up to cropdust people who are too intrusive.  (Hopefully no one I used to work with will read this, because then they might realize that the smell that drove them away from their desk after I walked by was not only intentional, but premeditated).

Henry's lucky to have such a genteel lady for a mom!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Seriously, this house should be quarantined.

So it appears I spoke too soon about Ben and I not picking up Henry's stomach bug....early Monday morning I was shivering on the bathroom floor, and a few hours later Ben was in there, too.  Piece of advice-if you buy a home with only one bathroom, then invest in a good bucket, because there WILL be a time when you need it.

We were both out of commission for the better part of two days, while Henry seems to be doing fine (he actually seemed to find me throwing up into a bucket to be tremendous entertainment.)  I do think that kids these days watch way too much tv, and spend too much time on electronic devices in general (maybe I'm just bitter because I don't know how to work any of these devices, but whatever).  But yesterday you definitely would have caught me in a weak moment.  Henry spent most of the day in his exersaucer watching Monsters vs. Aliens while Ben and I drifted in and out of consciousness on the couch and chair in the living room.  Not my proudest.

I think we all have grand aspirations about parenting before the kid arrives, like that we're going to use just cloth diapers, breastfeed for six months exclusively, actually dress them in matching outfits, and spend every evening reading to them and then putting them to bed, where they actually go to sleep.  But it takes about two days of having a newborn at home for most of that to go to hell.  For my part, cloth diapers lasted about a day until I realized they leaked as soon as he peed in them once, I had to supplement with bottles from the beginning, most days I feel lucky if he gets out of the house in an outfit that doesn't consist of his PJs and socks, and most evenings are spent bargaining with him to try to get him to fall asleep before eleven.  He's slept in his crib MAYBE five times, and when he wakes up in it, he gets really pissed that I tricked him into sleeping there.

Like I said, he seemed to enjoy the whole event.  But we're back to work tomorrow, and he's back to day care, where I can only assume he will pick up cholera or some rare contagious fungus found only in the Amazon.  Good times.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How Henry Happened

I'm still kind of surprised that I have a kid.  Not because I didn't want one-deep down I've always wanted to be a mom.  But I never thought I'd get married and follow that normal life path-the last relationship I was in before I met Ben ended rather badly and left me preferring single life to going through that BS again.  I met Ben through mutual friends, and we saw each other at their wedding.  I was cutting limes, he was lamenting the lack of available women to another guest, Tina.  Tina said "Well, what about Megan?" and Ben started to laugh (he says now it was out of nervousness.)

I got a bit offended and demanded to know what was so funny about the idea of dating me.  Then I threatened to cut him if he kept laughing (keep in mind that I was holding a knife at the time).

I don't know what about this exchange made him interested, but it worked.  So much for all the advice I've gotten from cosmo about flipping my damned hair and giggling.  One year of dating later we were engaged, and a year after that, married.  We bought the house, got the dogs, and pretty much settled into life.  When we decided to try for a baby (ok, when I decided, and he had no legitimate reason to object anymore) my doctor was pretty skeptical about our chances due to some problems in that area on my part.  She referred me to a specialist, and we talked about how far we were willing to go to have a baby.  Not very far, it turns out-we weren't interested in IVF or any of that stuff.  Our basic logic was that if the universe was that against us having kids (and God knows on the outset we don't seem the type) then we'd roll along childless, or maybe adopt.  

And the universe had already decided to play a funny joke on us, because when we had this conversation, I was already pregnant.  39 miserable weeks later (more on that later, but suffice to say, I was not one of those glowing happy pregnant women, I was miserable and whiny) I went into labor.

We got to the hospital, they hooked me up, I spent eight hours wishing I was dead.  A nurse kept telling me they were going to send me home because "You're not really in labor."  Well, I knew what was happening and the fact that I'd practically bent the bed rail in half should have told her something, but she didn't believe me.  Finally, she made another comment about sending me home, and I sat up and said "Look.  I'm not leaving here without a baby.  It's up to you whose baby it is."

After that I didn't see much of her.

Long story short, 30 hours later the doctor made the call and Henry was born by C-section.  I'd like to say it was a joyful occasion, but I had a bad reaction to the meds and spent his whole birth throwing up into the anesthesiologist's hands (he was a trooper).  After 24 hours in the NICU for him and a whole lot of morphine for me, I was reunited with my son, and got to figure out just what to do with him.  Books don't really prepare you for that.   Or for handsy lactation consultants, but more on that later.

Month of the Plagues

This past month has been pretty rough on all of us, illness-wise.  I swear to God I'm going to start sending Henry to day care in a plastic bubble.  He had a cold, then possibly RSV, then on Saturday, I was getting ready to take him for a run (well, he was going to ride, I don't have him hitting the track just yet) and he puked all over himself, me, the stroller, several innocent bystanders....I mean, it was bad.  So of course I freaked out because I'm a new mom.  I find myself walking the line between "He's fine." and "OH GOD CALL AN AMBULANCE" frequently these days.  One of the unsettling things I've found out about parenting is that it strips away any idea you had of yourself as a badass who could handle whatever life throws at you-when it's your kid and there's something wrong you feel totally vulnerable, and that drives me nuts.

So despite all my wonderful plans to spend this beautiful fall weekend walking to the park and doing picturesque things like pushing my kid in a swing, I ended up alternately comforting him and cleaning up red puke, thanks to Pedialyte.  He's doing ok now, though, and this bug seems to have skipped over Ben and I (thankfully) so hopefully this work week will be less adventurous.  Good thing I found a part time job that's pretty flexible-I work for a bunch of dentists who all have kids and are no strangers to the weird illnesses they constantly bring home.

Really, though, this weekend hasn't been all that different than weekends in my early twenties, except the vomiting wasn't causes by a late night out at a show and thinking that mixing Red Bull, Midori, and vodka was just a terrific idea at one in the morning.  And while my memories are a bit fuzzy due to sleep deprivation, I'm fairly certain I didn't get into any fights or fall down.  Ah, maturity.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So who am I?

I guess I need to get around to introducing myself, and explaining why I started this.  The fact that I created the account a week ago and am just now posting is a testament to my procrastination skills.

I'm Megan, I'm a new mom-my little guy is four months old.  Married to Ben for a little over four years.  Having a small child in the house means you're up at odd hours, and often desperately need a place to organize your thoughts-it's pretty easy to get caught in the baby mindset.  I stayed home for three months and honestly started to worry that my adult conversation skills had deteriorated to the point where I was close to asking grown-ass people if they had pooped, or trying to tickle their bellies.  I was weird enough before I had the kid, I don't need to get any weirder.

The title of the blog is not meant to imply that I'm a sort of ok mom.  I actually think I'm a pretty good mom, outside of a few....we'll call them moments of questionable parenting.  Like the time I put my kid in his stroller, pushed the stroller onto the porch, turned to lock the door, and then turned back to see the stroller moving on its own-towards the steps.  Thankfully I caught it, and when I told Ben, he said "Oh, yeah, it has an intentional slant so rain doesn't collect on it."

Good to know.  Would have been better to know before it almost gave me a goddamn heart attack.

The "average" in this case is meant to mean....well, average.  If we're on a scale, and on one end are the moms who sit and text or talk to friends in public places while their children are busy screaming and destroying things, and on the other end are the types of moms who breastfeed til their kids are five, use all organic everything, have every educational toy known to man, and actually succeeded at mastering baby yoga, then I'm right in the middle.  We're figuring out the kid thing as we go, but our main goal is to raise a productive member of society who isn't a total asshole as an adult.

What I'm not trying to do is change anyone's view on parenting, or trash anyone's parenting methods, skills, or choices.  How you raise your kids is up to you, and quite frankly, as long as people love their kids and manage their basic needs, I don't really care what "parenting style" they use.

I just know I've been overwhelmed with information about pregnancy and babies since the minute that plus sign showed up.  So this is meant to be a source of entertainment, not a how-to blog.  Like I said, I'm figuring out this parenting thing as I go.

And be forewarned-if you are offended by bad language or jokes involving bodily functions, this is not the place for you.  I have to clean up what I say out loud, because I don't want my son's first word to be "jackass", so I'm going to get all my cursing out here.