Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mommy's First Halloween

Oh yeah, Halloween...so just when I think I've gotten the "cool mom" thing down, something happens to call my bluff--like, I actually have to leave the house.  That is where things usually start to go wrong.  Clearly, if I am to be an effortlessly hip parent, I am going to need some more practice.  For those of you aspiring to this end someday, I have some recommendations: go find a heavy, unhappy bowing ball.  Place it in a car seat and drag it around town.  Try to look skinny and not at all burdened.  Then, get home and take all the things in your living room and toss them in the air.  Because, for some reason, that is what living rooms have to look like after a child comes in to your life.  No real explanation, just a fact.  Try to pick up while either A) holding the bowling ball or B) while the bowling ball sleeps for 26 minutes. GO.
Now it's Halloween.  A new week of WTFParent. First year holidays have always been a mystery to me.  He has no teeth. He can barely eat the Kit Kats I give him now! What is he going to do with a bag full? So we have to pick out a costume.  Obviously, a Star Wars costume is in order...oh wait, our niece is going to be a witch and wants Isaac to match.  The girl wants to use our son as an accessory? Ok! He's a bat.  Problem solved.  Only we got invited to this party and...maybe I should just knit him a Yoda costume. Today. No big.  I'm cool. I have a blog and I knit things and enable my husband's Star Wars problem. This will be a breeze. Also, everyone will think I'm awesome (as in: I will inspire in them an awe like no other when they behold my perfect son's Yoda hat). I am going to make my costume today as well.  And Occupy Wall Street.  And clean. And start boyman on peas, which I will make myself (I can't believe I didn't grow any this summer) and nurse every feeding, too, because I have been relying too much on the bottle.
I hate the guy who shows up to the party AT 7:00.  Whenever I host a party, I invite one of my closest friends to arrive at 6:45 just to insulate me from 7:00 guy. "Wow! Hi! Look at you! Right on time! And with a sheet pizza! Even though it's a dinner party.  Awesome.  Can I take your coat?" So today, after making 2 costumes, experimenting with peas, going to the craft store at 3pm on the Saturday before Halloween (cause I'm not only a hip and cool Do It Yourself-er, I was also born yesterday), getting both cranky Yoda, his witchy cousin and myself ready for the party...it was only 6:27. "Everybody in the car! Not you Jackson, Good Lord, why EVERY TIME that I call the dog he's deaf and suddenly I say 'car' and he can fucking hear? Look out, Jackson.  Lookout. Lookout. Lookout lookout lookout! Isaac, I know, we're going. Reilly, get your broom. Do I have my phone? Do you have my phone? No, I do. Do I have the baby? Do I have the keys?..." This seems endless. Nope. Losing all sorts of cool by the second, I get the masses (minus the seriously dejected canine) into the car, determined not to be the 7:00 guy.  How in the world am I running ahead of schedule? As I drive aimlessly around town, trying to kill time and lull the baby into a deep, blissful sleep that will allow me to have fun, I school Reilly on the art of being "fashionably late". We talk about when it is ok to be late, when it is never ok and when it is  preferred. 6:55.  "ok! Who wants McDonalds?!" Cool Auntship redeemed, child fed, time squandered, cooperate profits expanded, conscience crushed...now it is finally 7. Only 20 more minutes...
At the party: Isaac screamed at every loving, wonderful and dear former mother of an infant who tried to take him off my hands for 5 seconds, Reilly looked like the most miserable witch of all time, dire and as serious as a child can be at a Halloween party that features mini-quiche; Isaac ate the feathers of my bird costume, and as he grabbed a fistful, I remembered just how allergic I am to feathers and hoped that eating them is not, somehow, the same as sleeping on them. Reilly went home, Isaac feigned enjoyment, no one, not one person said "what an  AMAZING hat! and YOU made it?! TODAY?!"...all in all...Never Again. 
I lost this round, folks.  I tried. I did all the right things. Everything was so homemade, so simple and so wonderful. It matched.  It wasn't overdone. It was miserable. In the mirror, as I poured myself the great glass of wine I so richly deserved, I saw a zombie.  No really.  The eye makeup I wore to accentuate my Crow or Raven costume (whatever), had positively smeared under my eyes. Yes. My $3.99 eyeshadow failed me. Staring back at me was the zombie with which I threaten my infant son (a practice I plan to continue, by the way). It's not that I resemble or relate to the walking dead (though I do). It is not that having a babe robs you of your humanity and leaves you a (metaphorical) brain-sucking nobody (and it does)...  Not the problem. It's just that I talked to people. All night. While I looked like this. Somehow thinking I was pulling this whole thing off. Cool-O-Meter reading: Zero.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Little Note On Competitive Momming...

And I say "Momming" because I don't see a lot of people who identify as "dads" or just plain "parents" out there attacking each other online.  I have been going back and forth on this post- join in the attacking by attacking the attackers? Or just shut the f up and let them be? But grrr they got under my skin. That, and Matt's eyes are starting to glaze over when I bring up the subject again, much in the same way mine do when he starts talking about beef and radish caviar or quarterbacks.  So I must vent.
I am so disheartened by what I read women writing to and about each other on these horribl(ly addictive) blogs!  I'm not sure why I keep going back to check out the "comments" section of each and every post that piques my interest (it may or may not have something to do with my complete and utter lack of adult conversation during an average day). It is kind of like when someone takes a bite out of some questionable food and says "Eww! That's disgusting! Here, try it!" and you do...I just keep logging on to watch these meanies tear one another apart. Who knew that giving birth and nursing your baby was like, the new PhD? I mean, it is incredibly difficult. That's no secret.  But, if you'll ride this argument out with me: for cisgendered women who are able and willing, isn't having a baby and feeding it kind of...average? I know emotionally it feels just amazing and extraordinary to the individual.  It really does, you'll find no argument from me on that point.  But biologically, it is doing what is expected.  You're a C student.  Raising a child, having a healthy, functioning family to show for your efforts--that is what earns you the "A", if you will.  Yet here these women are, technologically beating the hell out of one another, hiding behind handles like "emmasmom247", for the  heinous crime of supplementing breast milk with the occasional bottle of formula.  It is disgusting!  I recently saw a post from a mother who said she was excited to not breast feed.  You and me both, sister! So I checked it out.  There were 200+ comments about how awful and selfish the poster was! What?! Obviously, if you haven't heard that "breast is best" then you're parenting from the stone age of the 1950s or, you know, have other shit going on in your life and don't obsess over how other people feed their children. I'm nursing Isaac, I know it is the best for him-- but lord almighty, I cannot WAIT to hang up my nursing bras for good.  Is it selfish to fantasize about leaving the house? To dream of one day soothing him without having to disrobe? Am I "Mean Mommy" because I would like someone else to feed the baby for one hot god damned second while I get up to pee could you please stop screaming for just that long?  "Parenting is a sacrifice" they say and "it is your job to change your schedule for your baby's". Well, yeah, no shit.  Parenting is one sacrifice after another.  You trade in your home, your routine, your life, your relationships, your body, your train of thought, your clean car, and very often your dignity for your little Ruiner.  There are so many sacrifices, so many decisions made on your child's behalf, to brutalize a mother for choosing formula over breast milk is just absurd to me! It is not like she posted a blog entitled "Jesus, I Wish I'd Had Another Abortion" or "I Can't Wait to Feed My Baby Nothing But Maple Syrup and Scalding Hot Oil". She is going with the worst-best option.  When she starts putting slurrpies in that baby bottle, sure let's lose it on her.  But for now, let her live.
And, in my opinion, it is when we begin to conflate the duties of parenting with the tasks of a job that we begin to go off track. Taking care of a child is WAY bigger than a job.  My job I can leave.  I go to it willingly, I work as hard as required, I get to leave when the day is done. Being a parent is an all-the time thing.  When I'm at my job I'm still a parent but when I'm home with the kid I'm sure as hell not a waitress.  If I don't do my best at work I could get fired, I could loose customers, I could incur the wrath of my co-workers. But life goes on.  If I screw up at parenting? The consequences are much worse.  Meth Head worse. And as much as I wish I could pay my heating bill with coos and baby smiles, I get paid to do my job. Unfortunately, in this country you don't get paid to parent. So there's one good reason not to devalue the all-consuming duties of parenting by calling it a job. Also, a job requires a certain level of training, often an education and sometimes a very good deal of schooling.  You don't need those to be a good parent.  You do, however, need them to be a good surgeon. People spend years and years working on their careers and have every reason to be proud of that, to value that.  Liking your job, loving your job, going to your job, none of those things make you a bad parent! I bet it makes many people a better parent.  Having an identity outside your home is not only OK but it is your right! Women worked really hard to earn the right to have both identities.
I guess I'd gotten into my head that breast feeding was a feminist act: that women were coming around and reclaiming parenting from major corporations.  Like selling water in a plastic bottle, feeding your baby with evaporated milk by-product isn't necessary. We come with ready-made baby food so why buy it? Now, however, I feel so put-off by the Breast Feeding Volunteer Police Department that I could buy stock in Similac just to make a point. I feel like being a breast feeding enforcer is about as feminist a statement as voting for Sarah Palin: kind of what we had in mind...but not really. If women are using it as just another reason for snarky back-stabbing and shit talk then I'm not sure it's a bandwagon I want to jump on. So Ike and I are going to chug on, he with his fat-boy eating habits and me fumbling with my nursing bra, until one day when I'll be free of the very rewarding and very exacting job of feeding homeboy from my own body. I'm comfortable with my ambivalence. I envy women who have the wherewithal to nurse baby after baby for years at a time.  I also ain't mad at formula users either.  How could you be?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Little Stranger

And he is pretty strange.  Well, mad.  And hungry.  And he looks like a frog.  After nine months of preparation and worry with a giant human growing inside of you, you finally give birth and there is a teeny tiny baby looking all wobbly and upset waiting for you to know what to do with him.  He arrives with his own set of needs and preferences.  I find that so strange.  How does someone so new have an opinion on seemingly everything? And how in the world did I not know how to solve his ailments intuitively? I felt every movement he made from the first second possible and I can't explain why he likes to sleep sitting up or has a mini panic attack if he isn't fed within 1 minute of waking.  I guess all babies have the same basic needs but I am still getting used to the idea that I am the person who provides for those needs.
When Matt and I took the labor and delivery class offered by our hospital I remember the moment reality began to sink in.  The nurse teaching the course was talking us through the different stages of labor (I suggest now they change the names of those stages as part of my new Honesty About Childbirth Initiative.  Stage 1 shall now be called "I Can Probably Do This As Long As I Stay Calm", Stage 2 "Yeah, I'm Gonna Need Those Drugs You Kept Offering Earlier", and finally, Stage 3 "I Heard You. I Am Pushing. And If You're So Great At All This Why Don't You Get Up Here and Have This Damn Baby Yourself Cause I'm Going Home".)  She began discussing Stage 2 she mentioned that now is when the real "discomfort" (their word) starts to kick in and "when the moms start getting a little upset".  I remember thinking "why would my mom be upset? Ohhhh.  You mean me, the mom.  Oh shit. I'm gonna be a mom". And in the delivery room the midwife kept asking me if I was "afraid of the pain", which admittedly, I kind of was, but what I was really afraid of was the baby.  I couldn't say as much because I couldn't talk at the time, but what I was thinking was "no, I'm terrified that if I keep pushing I am going to have a kid!"  I really, really wanted to be done with the labor but the prospect of becoming a parent was enough for me to want to stall.  A little.
           I studied Early Childhood Education in college, have read about infant and fetal development extensively before I even thought about starting a family of my own, and worked in an early childhood center in the infant room.  Also, I love my own mother with a cult-like devotion. Strangely, aside from my love for my own mother and my education providing all evidence to the contrary, I realize now I have been assuming I would have to earn my child's love.  Like, if I mess up enough midnight feedings by being really annoyed at the fact that it's a midnight feeding, my baby is going to resent me and wind up with tattoos and run away to Alaska after sophomore year in college to write, but not well, and end up frozen to death in a van.  Or go to business school and join the Young Republicans.  But it doesn't work like that.  When he is fussing and he hears my voice, it soothes him.  Wild.  He prefers my company and my solutions to his little poop-pants needs.  I fix it.  Me, just stupid old me who has been making a joke out of this whole thing for months now, is, by this guy's standards, doing the right things.  He doesn't know any better.  It took me a while to realize this, as I am primarily the one he is yelling at all day long, but I don't have to convince him of anything.  I just have to be willing to let him nurse 22 hours a day and not mind terribly when he tries to pee on me (his aim is still a little weak).  I have screwed up a lot in my life-- my completion rate of Things That Really Matter, sucks.  I dropped the ball with college- all 3 times. I have been a waitress for a decade- just waiting for something to fall into my lap, I guess.  Having a baby is the one thing I couldn't fail out of, couldn't not show up for.  Now that I'm stuck with him, and he doesn't seem to mind that too much, I think its possible that I might just see this thing through.  That's not to say he won't end up living with us well into his 30s while working on his "music career" out of a slap-dash recording studio in our garage that features a beer bottle pyramid, or working for Michele Bachmann's re-election campaign.  But some things can't be helped.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Well Some of Us Gave Birth Using Only The Power of Crystals. In My Case They Were All Out

Thank you everyone who has not only bothered to read my blog but actually liked it! I really appreciate that you enjoy my humor.  The last trimester of my pregnancy wasn't easy, but as with most things in my life, I tried use laughter as my sliver lining.  Thanks for sticking with me and for giving me so much support!
On my maternity leave I have had some time to seek answers to many of the questions that linger after Isaac made his appearance.  I wonder if the hydronephrosis of the kidney is likely to happen with a subsequent pregnancy.  I have spent a good amount of time looking for advice as Isaac and I learn the finer points of nursing. I wonder about sleeping arrangements.  I wonder about sleeping at all...I google just about everything that crosses my mind these days.  For the most part, all of the parenting websites and message boards out there (and there are a LOT of them) are pretty encouraging and supportive. The one common negativity I see is when women discuss pain relief methods and hospital births vs labors with no medical interventions.  For the life of me I cannot understand the venom behind some of those comments.  I was talking to my mother about it the other day.  She has been a great cheerleader for both my sister and myself as we have and raise our babies, and is a great sounding board for me in the creation of this blog.  So it is only natural that I cannot wait to tell her the news: one of the negative-nelly moms who gave birth levitating on a cloud of superiority and endorphins felt so strongly about my post that she commented on my site! I'm honored! First of all, I love people who take themselves very seriously.  They are so much easier to humiliate.  Second, as my brother put it, you're nobody til somebody hates you.  Feel free to check out the comments section of my last post for some background because I decided to take some time off from blaming my child to craft a response.

  I realized when I chose the induction that it would be a different labor than if I floated into it naturally.  I did, in fact, learn about this not only from my childbirth class but my midwife, mother, sister and a few co-workers and friends, as my pregnancy did not exist in a vacuum.  I chose the induction because I could not have another kidney stent replacement surgery before delivery.  The mass of an 8lb baby pushing on the stent was wearing it out, requiring a decision: Induction and the possibility of more pain with the contractions or waiting to see if the stent failed, releasing all sorts of unsavory kidney mess into my blood stream endangering my baby and myself.  I chose life.  I will say I had a wonderful midwife and nurse who allowed and encouraged me to assume any and every position I wanted in the amazing bed in the delivery room.  I spent part of my labor on my back, a some time on my side, a good portion of it squatting, and delivered in a somewhat reclined position and using these great handles to bear down.  I will admit to glancing up at a basketball game that was on ESPN while in this position.  Having a TV on in there was probably pretty irresponsible of me but in my defense, it was a drug-free distraction that provided some relief and I couldn't reach the clicker. 
One of the first things I said after delivery was "god bless any woman who does that without drugs" and I do mean it. Childbirth with the pain relief was trying.  To undertake something that intense without medication requires a courage and determination that I don't know if I will ever experience myself. I know women have been doing it for, well, forever, but when I start to wonder if I made the right decision I stop and remind myself that medical interventions were necessary in my situation.  I refuse to crumble under the guilt and shame some women seem to enjoy heaping upon one another.  We take for granted that many of us lived through experiences that would likely have killed women of previous generations.  I'm a feminist.  Giving birth doesn't make you one, respecting other women does. I feel that pitting one woman's birth experience against another's is despicable and self defeating and I fail to see how one can value a natural labor and birth for the benefits to the mother and child while simultaneously pointing an accusatory finger at a mother who, by choice or emergency, delivered with medical assistance. It is 2011, women's health care has come very far. We might still earn $0.78 on the male dollar, have to dodge bullets at abortion clinics and seek out pharmacists without moral objections to birth control to plan our families, but we no longer have to put ourselves and our babies at risk with every pregnancy. We have the luxury of choice.  While some women may choose a path to parenthood that is less fraught with IVs and fetal heart rate monitors, that path was not available to me.  I implore all of you naysayers out there to get a grip.  Your insecurity is showing and it is not becoming of a lady.  If high school taught us anything it is that making other people feel bad about themselves doesn't make you feel better about your self.  Well, it does for a minute or two but after that you just have to go out there and find another new mother to anonymously bully.
Now if you excuse me, I am going to let my horrible baby out of his cage for a bit. But I don't think I'm going to throw rocks at him tonight.  It is high time I shoulder at least some of the blame for my choice to get kidney stones.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Miracle of Birth


As in: It is a miracle anyone survives giving birth, let alone goes on to have more children.  I know, I know, again with the conspiracy theories and secrets people keep from you when you have a baby but: Holy Shit.  Yeah, I expected it to be bad but I feel like maybe people should be more descriptive when they talk about what to expect.  One nurse even told me it wasn't "that bad", for god's sake.  I'm gonna find her and maybe suggest she not tell women that anymore. I guess I just really had no point of reference though, so no matter what anyone told me, I wouldn't have been prepared.  But were the lies necessary? I mean, they could have started with like "yeah, this is going to be pretty horrible, just so you know.  Like, Stitches Where You Sit horrible".  There's a start. Or "don't be alarmed if your husband has a hard time looking you in the eye after all this.  You're both going to experience things you never thought possible".

Our story begins mid-May when my OBGYN checked to see how things were coming along, reached up and told me "Oh wow, his head is way down there.  Just like a big bowling ball! Let's get an ultrasound to see how big this baby is".  To my credit I did not respond with "yeah, no kidding lady, have you seen me try to walk?"  I kept my profanities to a minimum, deciding instead to remark that I wasn't aware until that moment just how far up there one's cervix really is and that perhaps she re-asses her definition of the word uncomfortable as it pertains to obstetrics.  When the ultrasound tech told me Ruiner was measuring at 8lbs I tried really hard not to cry.  I contemplated running away but my dreams were dashed once I realized I would have to take Jr with me wherever I went.  Lucky for me, the doctor agreed that anything over 8lbs was unrealistic and unacceptable, if not down-right disgusting, so I would be induced before Mr. Giant Head made matters any worse.  She scheduled my induction on May 26, my 30th birthday.  A dream come true. 
Spending your birthday in early labor is just as fun as it sounds.  Some highlights include: contractions that accomplish nothing but pain, an epidural provided by a regular customer who got to see my big white pregnant lady ass up close, (I'm really looking forward to serving him again. I can picture it now: "...and a Guinness for you, sir.  I do recommend the special, I think you'll really enjoy it.  Remember when I was crying from pain and you gave me a giant injection in my back while my butt crack was in your face?"  Maybe he'll turn out to be one of those people who doesn't recognize me when I'm not in my work uniform.  And so rarely do I wait tables sans pants.  I tried asking the nurse for some of those fancy disposable panties to put on before he arrived but he got there too quickly).  Also, they gave me a sweet drug that was supposed to help me sleep and another to dull the pain of the contractions.  Well guess who had an adverse reaction to Dr. Feelgood? This guy.  The pain meds did not work at all and the "relaxing " drug actually gave me a terrifying panic attack which caused me not to recognize my mother or my husband.  It lulled me to sleep for just about one minute and I would wake up in terror and pain when the contractions hit.  I was crying for help and yelling at them to stop staring at me all in the same breath and finally was lucid enough for like 2 seconds to tell them that I was having what amounted to a bad trip while tethered to a hospital bed, in labor and in the dark while something close to a tornado was raging outside, and needed I the antidote.  I actually had to say it to their backs, as I recall, because I made them turn around to reduce the "staring".  Turns out the antidote was Benadryl. Go figure. All in all it was an awesome evening. In another lifetime I would have spent the evening nearly passed out in a dark room, begging for drugs and wondering if I should put some underwear on just in case I needed my dignity intact...oh wait...  At least it took the sting out of turning 30.
First thing Friday morning I got to start pushing which was a hell of a lot of fun and certainly beats some of the post-birthday hangovers I've had in the past.  I was so worried about being cold because the room was freezing all day. What a joke! You get hotter than you could ever imagine.  Ever.  And, that, I soon realized, is the fist signal that you are descending into hell.  I felt really grateful that no one was cheering me on or calling the baby by his name like that was going to make him come out faster.  I knew I wouldn't be able to take that kind of nonsense.  My sister, however, was just full of jokes.  She and Matt were on either side of the bed laughing it up. I don't remember what was said but I do recall deciding I didn't like her anymore.  The woman took a picture of the placenta, to give you an idea of what I was dealing with.  But we're getting ahead of ourselves here.
After pushing for 3 hours, hearing "he's almost here! We can see his hair" out of the lying mouths of people I used to call family, the midwife decided to call in a doctor to vacuum the child out.  I have never been happier to see a human being in my life than I was when she arrived- not even my kid.  I was on the verge of walking out.  Or, again, realizing I had to take the hairy bowling ball with me wherever I went, making my way to the operating room and preforming a C-section on myself.  There was no fucking way I could make that baby come out with all this "push" business.  Just wasn't happening.  And, on her end, "pull" wasn't going so well either.  No. Not only did she employ medical grade weaponry, but apparently used her hands to destroy me as well.  Are forceps no longer an option? Cause God forbid we shimmy those things in there.  Human hands would obviously be a better choice. Really? Forceps damage the baby's head? You should have seen that damn thing when they flung him on my belly.  It was like a foot long. Damage done, my friends.  Matt says the look on my face when they gave me the misshapen baby was one of sheer horror.  He, you see, has never experienced what it is like to have one person reach inside you and pull out another person.  With their hands.  I was not horrified so much at the baby (though the thought of being a mother to an alien headed newborn after going through that labor certainly was terrifying) but at the notion of never, ever being able to un-know the things that had just happened to me or to forgive my offspring for having been responsible for them.  But I got a good look at him while the doctor sewed me back together and he wasn't so bad.  Pretty much what I expected. His head was regular baby shape in no time, within a few hours.  And yeah, I told everyone while they were weighing him and photographically documenting the afterbirth, kidney stones were worse.  So at least now that's settled.
I keep hearing a lot of things like "oh, you forget all about the pain" to which I reply, "no, no you don't. Please mind your own business while I sit on a block of ice for the next two weeks". My personal favorite was from the nurse who came to help me to the bathroom after the delivery, who, crouching in front of me waiting to see if I peed, told me "yeah, the first baby is always hard.  It paves the way for the next ones though"- literally an hour after I had given birth.  Next one? Are you serious right now?  You just took out my epidural and you've already got me pregnant a second time?  Hell no.  While they took the baby to clean off all the uterine grime I told Matt that I was glad he is open to the idea of adopting children if we choose to expand our family. Cause I'm sure as hell not going through all that again!  You can have it, Mrs. Duggar!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Turns Out I Am Not A Pregnancy-Loving Earth-Goddess. Who Knew?

 I had my kidney stent replaced yesterday.  The doctor thought maybe he'd find and remove a stone, unblocking my kidney and the stent would be unnecessary.  I didn't believe him, mostly because I have been front and center for this comedy of errors called "pregnancy", and he's not fooling anybody with his theories about making life easier.  There was no "apparent" stone ( I read this as "this stone will make its appearance when the timing is much worse") but what was apparent on the x-ray were feet.  Baby feet.  Pushing up against, and thus blocking, the kidney. So cute!
So, I may have mentioned before that I haven't gained much weight.  I am not bragging, I firmly believe that most women experience the same feeling whether they put on 25 or 105 pounds, love being pregnant or deplore every minute of it: that your body is weirdly not yours anymore and that if you have to take one more bathroom break you are going to loose it. People are constantly telling me that I'm "all belly" and I get a lot of questions about getting professional photographs taken, which, believe me, is very flattering as well as good practice in restraint. I really feel like responding "ugh why?!", but I have to smile and thank them. It is a lot of pressure to pretend to love looking like this. As I have mentioned many times before, this pregnancy seems to belong to everybody else. I am pretty sure I am giving birth to a kidney. That's all I think about anymore. But I interact with a lot of people through my work, and in general, people love to talk about babies and pregnancy. It is exciting. I love that people are excited for me. This, combined with my obsessive people-pleasing personality, makes me feel obligated to get these pictures taken. Just one more thing to increase the internal conflict.
Being pregnant has made me exhausted. It has screwed up my insides. It has also changed my life for the better-- my old, oh-so-unhealthy lifestyle seems like it was lived by someone else. I can't tie my shoes. I cried twice last week when I couldn't access ice cream fast enough, and I almost called an elderly woman an asshole at Wegman's. I can't wait for the opportunity to be a parent to this kid, who I am sure is going to be hilarious to watch grow up. I have grown closer than ever to my husband and am excited for the father he is going to be.  I count my blessings every day, and remind myself that it could be way worse. But I'm tired of the whole thing. I told Matt that we won't mention all the kidney problems to the baby, ever, thus reducing, if not eliminating, a whole chunk of his future therapy bill. You know, the whole "I destroyed my mother in order to be born" guilt.  But I am seriously over this  "I only have two more months of allowing my child to destroy my body in order to be born" martyrdom.
With all this in mind, I embarked on my search for the right photographer (due, in large part, to the mounds of homework, papers, tests and housework I had to but didn't want to finish.  Priorities.)
Enter hippie, feelgood, Ithaca NY, commune living, maternity photographer. (We met at the creepy cult cafe on the commons, something I didn't consider far enough in advance- I have mentioned my fear of a zombie apocalypse and those people are waaay too close to the undead for my taste).  The photographer said some pretty hilarious stuff- things I couldn't make up.  I told her that I was due in June and was interested in her work, but wondered if there was time to make an appointment.  She responded by telling me my intuition was correct- that this was the time to meet.  Intuition? I mean, I have a calendar.  Eventually this baby is coming out. Pregnancy is a finite experience (right?).  Next, she went on to tell me about her pregnancy, specifically mentioning that it had been planned.  In the next breath she said that her partner is a woman.  I felt a little compelled to address with her that most same sex partnerships require a bit of planning when it comes to children.  But I didn't.  (I do shudder to think of how much money she's spent on birth control over the years...not my business). On to her portfolio.  It sure was...New Age-ish. This woman's love for the pregnant form was evident. And she is very talented.  She was very easy to talk to about being photographed, which was great because I usually need about a bottle and a half of champagne before I agree to taking my clothes off for a stranger with a camera.  But as I have never been asked to pose covered in Japanese body paint along a frozen stream in the dead of winter to represent the goddess Demeter, I have no real point of reference, alcoholic or otherwise.  The women who found our little photographer for their maternity portraits sure did love being pregnant! I mean, standing in the snow, dancing in a stream, wearing crystals around their bellies, gazing lovingly at their partners- all in the full on, pregnant as hell nude. I am just not sure I'm that into the whole thing.  (Pregnancy, I mean. Naked, I can do, and I have well been known to dance around acting like an asshole in waters of the Finger Lakes over the years). The following words she used, but do not describe my experience over the past few months:  goddess, defiant, empowered, exuberant...um, happy...So again I am torn.  Is there a way to comfortably document my uneasiness?  Like, who makes a living marketing themselves to "beautiful but seriously resentful pregnant women"?  Should I get the pictures taken and try to look for all the world like I enjoy my "body's new shape and strength" while my fetus hiccups, causing his whole body to jerk against my sore kidney? Or just forget about it entirely and hope maybe I won't have regrets in the future?  Cue the guilt.  Shouldn't I love this experience? Am I being a whiny baby or a weakling because being knocked up seems less like an Earth Mother thing and more like a Please Pass Me the Remote and Grab Me A Brownie While You're Up thing?  I'm a creep because I love the smell of gin, still, and get a distinct twinge of jealousy when my friends go out for a cigarette.  I want to lie down and pout and internet shop for bathing suits that fit a body I will never have again more than I want to practice prenatal yoga and decorate the nursery with organic fibers and poison free paint (yeah, still haven't done that).  Shouldn't I be obsessed with the baby and his health and well being and not preoccupied with just surviving long enough to get him the hell OUT?  I feel like hiring this well- meaning woman to capture anything other than my ambivalence will be a silly waste of time and money, if not an outright lie, and taking pictures of me miserable and pregnant surrounded by chocolate cake would be less than ideal as well.  I'm hoping that maybe she's as flaky as me and doesn't email me for a follow up appointment.  That gets me out of any difficult decisions.  Also, it bears mentioning that my mom seems to think the whole idea is a little stupid.  And she's usually right about those things.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nesting on Raptor Wings

I have heard, that in the final months of pregnancy, an expectant mother begins "nesting".  In my mind a pleasantly plump little preggo waddles around the house fluffing pillows and blissfully choosing a cheery yellow paint color for her offspring's nursery walls.  This image, like most myths about pregnancy, is entirely false. Though the term "nesting" seems to imply a dainty little birdy lining her nest with feathers and love, or, you know, even a creepy stork doing similar work, I have discovered it to be just another of those sneaky little code names meant to disguise the dangerous animal behavior pregnant women engage in. Like all the other lies ("pregnancy lasts 9 months", "you may experience mild discomfort", "I loved being pregnant" and the "surgeon general's warning"), the nesting concept is used to trick women into thinking that something cute is about to happen. Well, the fact is, pregnancy seems to be more on the order of 10 f-ing months and "nesting" appears out of nowhere, hits you like a 100 degree fever and the only bird I can imagine right now is a disgusting vulture or a pterodactyl.
You know that "either someone cleans this house right now or we are just going to have to move" feeling?  It's like that.  But you're really hot.  Because, as I mentioned, stupid crazy shit happens to you when you get knocked up and being incredibly hot even when it is 35 degrees outside is one of those things.  So, naturally, I flew into a rage. "The carpet is muddy, of course, because it is still snowing even though it is now SPRING, and the little area rug I put down to trap that mud as we enter the house gets caught under the door so what's the point anyway?I guess I'll just have to shampoo the god damned carpets AGAIN, but why bother if it is not going to stop snowing ever and the dog is going to poop in the house when he knows I'm at whit's end? What am I going to do when the baby starts crawling? Let him live like this?! With a dirty carpet?! I'll have to clean every day! I'll have to quit my job! And the kitchen! Don't even get me started on the kitchen."  I am obsessed with finding the perfect mop.  I don't really see the point in half- cleaning anything, and mops don't work.  There are about 4 abandoned mops in the closet because none of them were good enough.  Now I want a steam mop and have determined this to be the solution to all my problems. "And I have to vacuum and sweep before I mop and I can't bend over to pick up the dust pan because the baby's in my way and why am I letting all this bother me anyway? The house was just as dirty yesterday as it is right now and if anyone ever bothered to do a dish in this stupid house..."  You get the picture.  Blind Rage.  Over cleaning.  Ask anyone who knows me, blind rages over many, many trivial things, yes.  Blind rages over cleaning my house? Never.
The way I see it I have two options.  Well, 3.  I can clean, move, or set the house on fire.  Cleaning seemed like the rational decision, plus I'm too lazy to pack and not nearly drunk enough to burn the house down. I got the kitchen half way mopped and decided that my energy was much better spent writing about my hissy fit than actually fixing the cause.  So the place is still as messy as a frat house run by an aging German Shepherd, but I have decided, like so many other activities that are no longer worth my time, cleaning the house is going to be filed under "Someone Else's Problem" for the time-being.  Sorry Matt.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Have No Fear of the Pregnancy Doldrums

...Because then you might just get kidney stones. I was feeling a decided lack of excitement  in my pregnancy.  Six months along and it had been smooth sailing. "Smooth Sailing" is not hilarious and nothing to share with my friends. Then came Sunday. "Oh, I have to pee again" turned into "wow, my guts hurt" and then a smooth transition into "I really don't care if I die right now", as we drove to the hospital.  I was relieved to find that I showed no signs of premature labor, although I had a feeling labor would feel different. ( I am expecting more of a super-octane level menstrual cramp not a please, please, please take the Knives Of Evil out of my back type-feeling). If it had been labor, seriously, I wouldn't have cared if they delivered Rosemary's baby out of my spine to stop the pain. Turns out I had a common ailment called Hydronephrosis of the kidney, complicated by kidney stones. I opted for a kidney stent to be placed, which will redirect fluids around my squished up organ.
 In any event, about 4 female nurses I have encountered in my imprisonment on the hospital maternity ward (working on day 5 as I type) have relayed to me first: how many babies they have had, second: when they themselves had kidney stones, and third: just how many more labors they would be willing to endure before even conjuring the memory of kidney stone pain. I feel a sense of relief. I have surpassed the presumed Ultimate Challenge of human pain, and defeated humanity's Titanic foe- the Kidney Stone. I win.  Excuse me while the Rocky theme plays in the background, and I hobble around the maternity ward with my arms raised- sorry, one arm-- I need the other to drag my IV stand. I am super human. I shall breeze through the remainder of this pregnancy and look labor pains in the eye.  "You don't know me" I'm gonna tell them. Just kidding. I did have a spinal though, so I totally know what that horrendous part is going to be like. Like a science fiction movie in which I am the protagonist and am being forced into submission by 3 or 4 masked doctors.  At least I don't have to lie on my back, vaguely aware that someone is inserting a tube into my intestines while he sings along to the Sirius Satellite Love station.  I wept at that point. Quietly wept to "Peaceful Easy Feeling".
Yes, baby Ruiner strikes again.  This time for realsys. He almost shut down an organ. Maybe Matt is right- maybe we should call him Destroyer.
If all goes well I should have the stent removed in a few weeks and I won't need to have it replaced before I deliver. Or, you know, ever. At least being pregnant allowed me to stay in the maternity ward where I got my own room. It's the least Ruiner could do, it was all his fault.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Scraping The Bottom of the Barrel of My Dignity--Tastes Like Frosting!

The pregnancy cravings of myth and legend were a large part of my decision to get knocked up. I mean, if I can't drink, and I'm going to get funny-shaped anyway, what is stopping my indulgence?  Sadly, the bizarre pickle-raw egg combos or whatever I was expecting never materialized.  Much like my enormous D-cup bra, no magic has happened in that department.  I will admit to a growing sweet-tooth but that's not too unusual, right?
Have you ever watched the show Intervention, and the addicts are just going about their normal day-to-day lives and the black screen comes up and it reads something like "Jonny spends up to $6,000 a day on meth" and you're like HOLY SHIT! How does it get that bad? Well, I'll tell ya what happens.
Yesterday I walked in to the Weis market here in town, the awesomest, grossest, center of all scum-baggary, grocery store ever.  In a bit of a hurry, I knew I needed 2 things.  A salad (HOW this place has the best salads in the area I will never know- or question), and cookies with just the right cookie-to-frosting ratio.  I spotted what seemed to me to be slightly over the top, sugar-wise, but relatively harmless.  The item in question was a package of 6 sandwiches made up of chocolate chip cookies and about 4 lbs of frosting.  The counter girl's reaction should have tipped me off.
As I was checking out, Crystal, so smug behind the counter, said to me in a shaming tone "those look reallly sweet".  It's not like I was at Whole Foods for Christ's sake, I was surrounded by people who call Hawiian Punch "juice" and smoke cigarettes while filling their children's baby bottles with Mountain Dew.  Somehow I'm out of line?  Lookit, Crystal, these aren't for you.  They are for my soon-to-be diabetic fetus.  I won't ask how you lost your teeth, you don't need to worry about how I'm gonna lose mine.
I got my treasure home and ate one, followed by the other half of Matt's that he couldn't finish.  Still thinking I don't have a problem, I schemed further.  If Matt was going to judge my cookie intake, along with Crystal, I knew one person who would be down for a nice sugar rush.  My 7 year old niece Reilly.  This kid is truly a connoisseur of all things sweet.  She's got all the bakeries in town ranked.  You want a party with hookers and blow? You're gonna call Charlie Sheen.  More of a frosting and sprinkles kind of person?  Yeah, give this kid a call.  Doing my best to act casual, like her mind wasn't about to be blown, I offered her a cookie.  As expected, her eyes popped out of her head.  She was PUMPED.  Awesome, I thought, an excuse to eat another cookie and the chance to be someone's unquestioned hero.  I devoured mine in about 30 seconds, not counting the time it took to lick my fingers.  I looked up and Reilly is done for! She couldn't finish hers!  "These are sooo good I can't finish mine" she said.  This child, who eats whipped cream on bacon is telling me that I over did it?  The last green thing she ingested was likely a Skittle. Chicken fingers are her main source of nutrition. And I out junk-fooded her?  This, my friends, is how dabbling a little in a substance, any substance, can lead from a casual "I think I'd like some ice cream for dessert" indulgence to smoking stolen meth on the way to rehab abuse.  I have tasted that shame.  Its fucking delicious. And if you are interested, sold along the walls in the bakery section of Weis.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

You Want Me to WHAT?

After a few months have passed it is finally time for me to admit to myself that I am no longer just a little-bit pregnant.  The weeks are flying by and June is going to be here in no time.  I had to muster enough courage to skip to the end of the baby How-To manuals. I wished I'd had a few cocktails for that one.  Spoiler alert: they all end the same.  And it looks like it sucks.  First off, there are these illustrations of what a breech baby looks like all squished up inside of there.  It looks painful for all of us.  Especially the one called Footling breech.  In this jolly little illustration, junior has what appears to be one whole leg thrust down the birth canal.  Now...I'm no doctor but that shit just don't look right.  Underneath the diagram there were all these horrible words like "incision" and "abdominal muscles" so I just threw up and skipped to the next page.  A picture of a baby's head with something stuck to the top.  This one read "vacuum extraction" skip skip skip..."Mucus Plug", turn the page, "Not Getting to the Hospital in Time", not an option, I am hereby moving into my car in the parking lot..."Episiotomy"...what's that.  Oh Jesus.  Is there any part of this whole ordeal that isn't disgusting?  This business is downright offensive!  The only thing borderline pleasant in the whole Revelation chapter of What to Expect is the facial expression drawn on the laboring woman.  Well, the one you can see.  She's easy enough to find: she appears to be the first woman of color to make her appearance in the manual and she and her partner look happy as hell to be there.  I wonder who they modeled her after?  Can I call her and ask what her secret was? Maybe she hadn't read the last chapter yet.  Or maybe her hospital has a bar.  Either way, I hope that I look that delusional and relaxed when the time comes.  I know I won't, but here's to hoping.

Aww Thanks! I Don't Think You're That Fat Either!

Turns out that when you are pregnant, especially visibly pregnant, everyone knows that now they can safely comment on your figure.  I know people are just excited, as I keep saying, and really must believe that they are saying kind things to me.  Somehow.  I just can't think of another time in a woman's life when her shape is truly up for open debate. Except for maybe the Miss America pageant or The Biggest Loser.  I, however, am not a cripplingly terrifying beauty contestant, nor am I a willing participant in a nation wide fat-shaming orgy of humiliation.  Just a waitress, showing up for her normal job. 
Now I'm a thin gal.  I was blessed with good genes, mercifully, because I rank up there among the laziest people I know.  Like everyone else, I can pack on a few pounds here or there but I try not to complain about weight as many people have legitimate struggles with fitting into the beauty standards packaged and sold to us by the evil powers that be such as the afore mentioned Biggest Loser (I mean, even the name!).  Somehow, now that I have a teeny baby belly poking out, people seem to have alllll sorts of opinions they would like to share with me.
"Oh look at you! You're so skinny! You won't have any trouble at all losing the weight! Not like I did after Alec was born.  I gained Eight Hundred and Ninety pounds!"...as I'm standing there holding dirty dishes.  What do I say to make this stop?  "oh.  Neat. Um, sorry you got so ungodly fat.  You look better now?  Dessert tonight? Coffee?"
And the there is the occasional "You're HUGE!  You must be just about ready to have that thing huh? Oh my god! What are you gonna look like in 4 months?!"  I'm what? I am?! I'm huge? I didn't think so but Lord! This isn't a "fat" thing...there is a baby in there that's gonna come out.  I mean, come out of me! Stop saying the word "huge"!  You're mean!  And Stupid and I hate you now!
So when does it stop? Like, after D-day will it all just come to an end?  Will people clam up and resume silently commenting on my waistline? I really wouldn't mind that at all.  Maybe I should just start saying all the things that go on in my head. "It took me forever to lose all the baby weight!" Yeah, obviously.  "You haven't gained a pound! Really, how much have you put on?" Aww, thank you! I don't think you're too fat either! about 5 lbs. How about you?  I mean, come on! All the world needs is more commentary on women's weight.  I'm not terribly concerned about it so why should the causal observer be?  I'm sure they are all trying to be complimentary, and many people have succeeded in coming across as sincere and kind.  You know what they say that makes me feel the best? "Hi Sarah! How are you? You look great.  I'll have the dinner special".

Monday, January 24, 2011

Name Suggestions: Yours are All Terrible

And I mean that in the kindest way possible. You know, the kindest way in which to respond to people who seem to believe that I have given no thought whatsoever to my child's first name.  I know, I know, they are just being kind, like to feel included, etc. But for the love of god, leave it alone!  We found out two weeks ago that we are going to have a boy.  The name we had chosen for a girl was always set in stone but for a boy we weren't (and still aren't) 100% sure.  I mean, we have 4ish months to go (is that it?!) and we haven't even met the guy yet.  So calm right down folks.  I think it is great that you have always liked Teegan and Colin and your great grandfather's first name was Arthur and you've always loved that name.  So by all means, name your next baby that awesome name of yours.  Done having kids? Ok great, name your next dog Tyler or Connor or Brindin or whatever name you think is so precious.  I am going to stick with the name I  want, the name I chose years ago, the name I am going to give to my child.  And I mean that with all the love in the world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Have You Every Really Looked At Maternity Clothes?

My 5th month of pregnancy started last week.  I am at this fun in-between stage where my pants don't fit, my shirts all seem to have shrunk and the idea of swimming around in maternity clothes is abhorrent.  Have you seen those things?  From the outside, people love to think you're cute.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy compliments and lies as much as the next bloated gas-bag, but being a pregnant lady isn't as often as cute as seeing a pregnant lady.  I don't have a belly, all nice and round and ready for strangers to rub.  I have the goofy "bump" celebrities try to hide with big purses. The "is she or isn't she?", the "you ask cause I'm not going to" the "I'm just going to keep looking at her abdomen until she wants to shout 'YES! for god's sake, yes, I am knocked up, due June 4th, first one, we don't know the sex, we do want to find out, no, I haven't been sick, yes, Matt is excited and I do plan on working until I have this thing. Yes, I am pregnant, can we talk about something else now?'".
  So what the hell do I wear?  The other night I was getting ready for work.  I settled on a white t-shirt and black cardigan.  It fit, I figured, who cared if it wasn't terribly fashionable?  I ran to the mirror for one final check- with the curly hair- something just wasn't right...I looked like Andrea Zuccerman.  Not cute.  All I needed were some Gap khakis, possibly some Keds and the superior attitude only a 32 year old high school junior can pull off.  That's it! No more "well whatever, at least it fits".  I have to shop.
So it turns out maternity pants are hilarious and kind of ugly.  Not to mention that I don't exactly relish the idea of spending good money I could spend on cute, real, non-pregnant lady clothes on Target jeans with a spandex panel that extends to just under my bra (not kidding).  And, like, suburban lady sweaters.  It sends chills down my fashion bone.  Those Bella Bands are a neat idea but eventually those regular jeans just don't go all the way on.  Maybe I am in denial.  How big should I plan on getting?  I mean, I know this babe will grow and take me with it.  I just don't know how it expects me to look good in the process.  Isn't there some kind of Maternity Clothes Trading Organization?  On my honor I will return all these ponchos when I am done, just don't force me to buy a whole new panel-fronted wardrobe.
Maybe I will just go whole-hog and invest in some super ugly vintage tent-like jumpers from our mother's days.  Throw my hands up and say forget it.  How many mu mus can I collect in 9 months?  I really wouldn't mind that part.  Its the pants.  The god-forsaken pants.  Thank god leggings are in style, I guess.  Fashion Ruiner and I will just have to make the best of things.  Stay tuned, as I will certainly post some of the more alluring looks I come across.

Do You Know What It Is Yet?

The most common question, the obvious question- for me the most dreaded question.  Our next ultrasound is less than a week away, I have 6 days left of blissful gender-neutrality. I don't want to imply that Matt and I don't want to know the sex of our baby.  We are aware that we can wait until June to see junior's privates debut with the rest of her.  The issue for me is that I am excited to know at all who is living inside of me, that for some reason, I am having trouble conceiving of just plain "baby" without a sex assignment.  I am mad at myself for my greedy mindset. I wonder if maybe I could feel more kicks I would be satisfied.  I wonder if we agreed more readily on names then just plain "Baby Ruiner" would be enough for me.  But deep down I know, to my chagrin, that I really want to know if this baby is a boy or a girl.
Sex and gender are loaded concepts for me (and I believe that they should be for everyone until the world is a beige place where all people are considered humans first and foremost and gender slots are a thing of the past).  As a feminist I have traveled the long road from that first inkling that somehow, this game of life just isn't fair.  I reacted at first by wanting GI Joes, tagging along with my younger brother on outside adventures.  I attended both an all girls high school and an all women's college and matured into a more complex understanding of gender.  The more I see the more I change and the more I fear for my child.
That I hope to raise Ruiner in a household (if not a world) free of Trucks for Boys and Dolls for Girls, absent the whole "Little Man" thing (it turns my stomach, please refrain unless you call baby girls "Little Women" with equal frequency) and away from toy stores that sell pink Lincoln Logs (REALLY?) goes without saying.  I know that my husband and I care enough about our babe and our planet to allow as much freedom as we can into our home.  But HOW do I keep other people in check?  There really are people out there who are terribly concerned with notions of gender in much the opposite way as am I.  A mother of one infant at the daycare center where I worked was always worried people would think her daughter was a boy.  She was 6 months old!  I mean, beyond knowing where to wipe off the baby poop, how could it possibly matter to anyone if this baby was a girl or a boy?  It just seems to.
Even worse, they want it to matter to me.  I am always surprised, if not a little offended when people ask "are you hoping for one or the other?" Uh, no.   No way? How could I?  "oh dear little baby growing peacefully atop my ever-shrinking bladder, please be a boy so you will be strong and bold, rough and want to be in the army and be good at math and start fights that you always win and eventually get a job on Wall Street and make a lot of money to support a family".  Or "little Runinette, I hope with all my heart that you have a vagina so that you can learn to be docile and pink from day one.  That you will dutifully wait in your father's home with your father's name until a handsome man consents to marry you, steal your identity and make you a mother.  Please learn to quilt and never swear, you precious flower."  So when I find out next week that this isn't the baby I ordered I express disappointment?  "I know, I know, you just want it healthy" is what people laugh and say.  Well, yeah, seriously, we do.  Every day forever.  So if Ruiner comes out with boy parts and Ruinette tendencies, so be it.  If the little homie comes out with ambiguous genitalia will we love it any less, will we decide right away that we want a girl? a boy?  For every person who has struggled with issues involving gender, I can't imagine how de-humanizing it must feel to at some point realize how much of your identity is made up by your gender assignment.  I think about it daily, hourly even.  "He wouldn't have said that to me if I were a man". I wonder how trans individuals deal with not only the judgement, fear, hatred and confusion  hurled at them but also consider how it is being seen by others as another gender.  I ask Matt all the time what pending parenthood feels like without a baby in you.  I question question question and I feel like I'm fighting a global battle to re-arrange people's personal notions in my tiny corner of the world as often as I can (not that I'm a crusader, more that I will call you out on your ignorance and talk your ear off until see that glimmer of understanding: A Person's a Person No Matter How anything).
So here I am, an embarrassed mother to-be, super curious to know if I'm carrying a boy or a girl.  Because somehow I do care.  Maybe I just want to name it.  Maybe I want to stop saying "it".  Perhaps I should spend this next week referring to the fetus as "Zee".  I don't know.  The world has to change one person at a time.  Well I'll tell you, as someone incubating the next generation, that is so much easier said than done.