(If you don't like the music, scroll down and you can control it on the right side. But I like it, so there! )

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Baby's Okay, Your Baby's Okay: On Comparison

We all do this. If you tell me you don't and never have, I will know you are a liar! We compare our babies. We hear of milestones reached and wonder if there is something wrong with our bundle of joy. Or junior only poops so often, but the baby next door poops more. Or less. Why? What's wrong with Junior's bowels??? I think this is normal. Silly, but normal. Because the ages given for milestones in baby books are just estimates and usually represent a range of age. And all babies are different. My baby sleeps through the night and has since he was 2 weeks old. (This has nothing to do with your post, B, other than it was fresh in my mind, and thus just an example.) He does this not because he is freakishly gifted at sleep. He does this because he is a heavy sleeper and sleeps like a rock. Just like my husband. I, on the other hand, am a light sleeper and wake all night, just like Evan did. This has nothing to do with my parenting skills or my baby's development. It's just who we are.

So now on to the other comparison: Mean-Spirited One-upsmanship. (Did I spell that right? Is it even a word???)
Of course with this, I am referring to people who will compare kids just to gloat. To literally feed off of that insecurity that mothers naturally have and pick and pick and pick.....
I heard it the whole time at the family Christmas.
"Zach is so fat. He's almost bigger than Baby X, and Baby X is 13 months old!"
Same person: "Zach doesn't sit up without any help yet??? Why, Baby X did that when he was just 5 months old!"
or, "Why doesn't Zach crawl yet? Baby X did by then."

But what could make this worse? To be the mom of a preemie. Scratch that--to be the mom of a big preemie. Because Zach looks big. He looks older. But he's actually younger. Gah!
I bit my tongue everytime something else was said. I finally had had enough. And I went off.
" Yes, Zach's fat! I'm glad. I'm so fricken happy he is. Because you know what? It could've been soooooo different. And I have painfully and incessantly hooked myself up to a breastpump every 2 hours for the past almost 8 months to give him the best nutrition possible. And look! It worked!
"And no, Zach may not do all of those things yet. But Zach was almost 2 months premature!!!! Zach is a miracle, and really is only 5 months old. So if you do the math, Zach really is advanced for his age."

It really was infuriating. Competition over who has the better baby just like who makes more money, has the newest car, lives in the nicest house. Whatever. Get over it. Please do not apply your dysfunction to my offspring. Because my kids are completely normal, and your tactics aren't going to work on me. But the whole thing just reminded me of how we parents do. We torture ourselves, independent of the one-uppers, without provocation.
Our kids are fine.
As for the mean-spirited one at Christmas? It continued the rest of the night, despite my ignoring. To combat it, I made my own little comparison in my head, silently to myself: "Okay, say what you want, but my kid's way cuter!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

For Him

There are several songs out there that remind me of my husband. I have a hard time limiting it to just one. And of course John and I have complerely opposite music tastes, so I will hear a song that reminds me of him, and I will tell him to listen to it, then he talks straight through it. There is one in particular that I think of when I mention this, and it always seemed kind of depressing to me. And then my first gray hair appeared in my sea of brunette. And John started to get that little crinkle in the corners of his eyes when he smiled. And I know that we are getting older. It's no mystery. But we are doing what we set out to do, and that is to grow older together. In a world where marriage is not as meaningful and permanent as it should be, I feel like this milestone is a victory for us of sorts. And now, some things just take on a different meaning. Including this song. On first read, it seems to be speaking of death. Looking at it again, from this side of our decade together, to me it speaks of clinging to one another until the very end. So for my JohnJohn. My beautiful soul of a husband, who will not listen to my music, but will read, the lyrics to Now Comes the Night, as recorded by Rob Thomas. The only thing I can say is that the roughest of hardships have all been worth even the tiniest glimmer of joy that comes with having him by my side.
Now Comes the Night
When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
And when the day has all but ended
And our echo starts to fade
No you will not be alone then
And you will not be afraid
No you will not be afraid
When the fog has finally lifted
From my cold and tired brow
No I will not leave you crying
And I will not let you down
No I will not let you down
I will not let you down
Now comes the night
Feel it fading away
And the soul underneath
Is it all that remains
So just slide over here
Leave your fear in the fray
Let us hold to each other
Until the end of our days
When the hour is upon us
And our beauty surely gone
No you will not be forgotten
No you will not be alone
No you will not be alone

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Have Baby, Will Travel

So we are getting ready for our exodus to John's mom's for Christmas. How appropriate that we will spend Christmas Eve (The Great Ten-Year Anniversary, incidentally) in the very house where we were married in a civil service all of those years ago. I'm also excited for John's mom to meet Zach again. The last time she saw him, we could count the number of his weeks on Earth with 2 hands. He's a completely different baby by now. What am I also excited about? 6 entire days off! I didn't even have to use any vacation time, just some creative scheduling and no overtime this week. (side note: It's amazing I have any vacation time, but I do--2 weeks' worth. It accrues by the number of hours I work, and I have worked that much since my return from bedrest.)
What am I not excited for? The trip. Zach is on the verge of sitting, but not quite there. After a minute or so, he will do a complete face plant. Which means baby bathtub must go. Bumbo must go. Pack'n'Play, of course, must go. John is unloading the stroller from the car as we speak, and I am opting for just the Ergo for our travel needs. And then, just when I was singing the praises of the way we have chosen to feed Zach, I found the only drawback: travel. Between frozen and fresh breastmilk, homemade baby food, and more, I have to transport a lot of stuff that must stay cold. I'm trying to get creative because I don't think I could fit a standard cooler in the car if I tried. So I finally found the benefit of buying all of those pumps, in that each one came with a day carrier. Plus I bought an extra day carrier. And then there are also all of those little ice packs sent in my shipments of breathine to keep the syringes cold. I knew I kept them for a reason. But regardless, it is a Big Operation.
In the meantime, John is out there right now, cleaning out the car that looks as if homeless people live in it. He just came in and said, in complete amazement, "Ha! The mystery is solved!" As he proffered about a half dozen Avent pacifiers that he insists he found in just one floorboard of the backseat. We had been lamenting the disappearance of the binkies just yesterday. I buy them by the truckload, it seems, but can only manage to find one at a time. And I am OCD enough that I match his pacifiers to his outfits, so this has driven me a little nuts. (I know I may need professional help, but hey, my kid always looks good, right?)
Of course this is all going on when John reminds me that I work at the urban ER tonight, which doesn't have a cafeteria. And so I have to pack food for my shift tonight, my entire pump because there is no lactation room, and more. So God help me, but there is also a huge stockpot of homemade ravioli cooking away on the stove for both my to-go meal and the big boys' dinner.
Zach keeps farting, and so I know the Great Poop is coming.
Evan cannot find his car charger for his DS. (Seriously, can't the kid just read a fricken book???)
And speaking of chargers, where in the Blue Hell is the charger for my camera?

And, holy crap, I forgot about all of those Christmas gifts I have to take.
I should've Fed-Ex'd 'em.
Screw that. I should've stuck with my ghetto, giftcards-for-everyone philosophy. I mean, did I really need to get John's stepdad the UK Snuggie because it was so cheesy that I found it hilarious?

I need a bigger car.
I still refuse to buy a minivan.
Screw it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why the Tears?

My hospital has these display cases strategically placed throughout where they show off merchandise available for purchase in the gift shop. Right by our department, they have this display of figurines that has been there for months. Unlike the others that change for the seasons, this one stays as is. I was fresh from the ordeal of having Zachary and newly away from my family since being put on bedrest when I saw this. And my mind filled with the vision of John at home with my newborn.And John staring at a newborn Evan in complete wonderment. And tears stung the back of my eyes, threatening to fall. I have spent the months since then both trying to find these for purchase (not in our gift shop, go figure) and also averting my eyes from the display to avoid the emotion evoked as I pass it about a million times a day.
Today, I found them. Willow Tree by Susdan Lordi . They were at the gift shop of another campus of our hospital. A huge display of them, as a matter of fact.
I stood there staring as tears formed. I don't know why. No inanimate object has ever brought on such emotion in me, and I felt foolish until the sales lady put a hand on my shoulder and said that there are just some people who are touched by these. I think it is just that I see all I hold dear in these faceless figures. I finally bought several and added several more to my wish list in my mind. And I brought them home, only for John to just not get it. He says they look nothing like us. I think they do in every way. The one above is entitled New Dad and is the one I saw first. I bought it and four others.

Inquisitive Child. I see a very curious Evan, absorbing the world around him. He's going through some things right now, and we are helping him to navigate some rough waters. But deep down, at his core, this is him. The world just is not good enough for him.

Mother and Son. Me with my Evan. Love and hope. Joy and sadness. I see it all. Just like the figure, he has gotten too big to fit in my arms, and I do not know how that happened. I both mourn for the days behind us and hold blind joy for the days ahead.

Brothers. And in this, I see the grace and beauty with which Evan has accepted Zachary into his life. The hands of the older child guiding the youngest. The bond I can see forming between my two miracles. The harmonics of the symphony that is to be their lives together. My angels. My babies. My boys.

Anniversary. Because before there was an Evan and way before there was a Zachary, there was John and Andrea. And there still is.

And now for the ones I want:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Found It

Okay, so I'm a bag snob. I usually focus my pickiness on my handbags, but I tend to get pretty particular about any, to be honest. Well, I have a baby again, and this means DIAPER BAG. Which often replaces my purse because to carry both is just too much! But I couldn't find one I liked. Either they were too feminine and John wouldn't carry it. Or they weren't roomy enough. Or they didn't have any interior pockets for organization. Or they were too expensive (hey, I know from experience that diaper bags take a beating). Sometimes, they were all of the above. Plus I really, really wanted a cutesy one with Zach's name. And I found it! (And before you think I am all Zach and no Evan, I also bought Evan a personalized backpack from the same woman!)

Fun With Food

Here lately, Zach has been waking at 6 AM or so, ready to eat. I love it because then it is just the 2 of us. I feed him breakfast, working on his solid food menu, then we do the "let's get dressed for our day" routine. Of course my cuddly Chubster wakes in a smiley mood, so we have fun.
Yesterday, since he has shown such an interest in our eating and drinking, I decided it was a good time to introduce him to the sippy cup. And we tried rice cereal again. He actually ate the cereal, making me wonder if our misadventures in solids started before Zach was all-the-way ready. Over the past couple of days, Zach has started to love his food, though it takes him a few bites to warm up to it. Still, all of his food is organic and pureed here in my kitchen after cooking in nothing more than purified water. The only thing I buy ready-made is bananas, simply because they turn that yucky color and I can't seem to get them to the proper consistency. But I also made sure the only ingredient in the brand I buy is water and bananas.
Do I see any difference? Well, yes. When I finally caved and bought some bananas, I saw the price of baby food for the first time in 9 years. About 50 cents per serving. Not bad, but to put it into real numbers, I prepared 36 servings of sweet potatoes for him just the other day for the grand total of 2 bucks. And I know exactly what he's eating. Plus, by this point with Evan, he had already been to a dermatologist for eczema and hypersensitivity issues. We don't have any of that with Zach, despite the poor baby's genetic predisposition. I have to think the breastmilk and wholesome food are to be credited.

Zachy teething on the sippy cup's spout.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback Friday

I was clearing the computer of some old files and found some pics of the boys I absolutely love. My babies. So I thought I would share. The first is Zach at 7 weeks old, before his face had grown to match his big eyes.

This is the Rocker pose. That hair! Nothing we could docould tame it. And the little shirt he had on just added to it. He was about 4 months old here, I think.

And this one. I could have squeezed him to pieces, I think. This is when we learned that in order to sleep well, he must be swaddled. Incidentally, I recently made a run for big baby swaddlers when he suddenly outgrew these!

And my Evan. My rotten little boy. Here he was 5 and had just finished kindergarten. We were at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.

I think he got these glasses in a kids meal. But despite the classes and the face he is making, I am still drawn most to those chocolate eyes when I look at this pic. And I continue to do so each and everytime I look at him.

Gentle Boy. Evan at 6, the summer after first grade, right before we moved back to the Cincinnati area.
I had just received medical clearance from the diagnosis of a benign brain tumor, and Evan had had a rough year. This was a stray cat he took care of out there, and his soft heart leaps at me from the pic.

Bathtub as a Think Tank

Okay so I decided, in the middle of the night, to take a hot bath. I lit scented candles and took my book in there. I got a hot cup of coffee. And I soaked. The last time I did this, I was doing so in an attempt to get raging contractions under control, and did so with heart palpitations from Brethine and a near-coma from pain meds. It's been too long. Honestly, what provoked me tonight was Boobs from Hell, but I talked about that in my previous post. I actually managed to lay on my belly in the tub and read while my hair soaked in conditioner and my boobs actually felt pain-free from the warm water. Ahhhhh.
And then I started thinking.
I hate when I do that.
I thought about how my hair is about 5 or 6 inches from being down to my waist and I really think it is time for the Mommy Cut. If you don't have kids or this is your first one, not all moms do this, but I will go out on a limb to say that most women who have babies end up cutting their hair off at some point in that baby's first year. It could be hormones. It could be provoked from a lifestyle change. It could even simply be to keep small fists from grabbing hold and yanking. But I call it the Mommy Cut. I think I need to do it. My hair is always in a bun anyway. But to do so would mean I have to find the time, and it seems the only time I have is in the middle of the night. If there were a salon open at that hour, I don't think I would trust them. Seriously.

I thought about how the book I was reading could possibly have been lowering my IQ as I read. Okay, I mean no offense by this. But. On my monthly trip to Half-Price Books (love the place and leave there each and every month with a stack of books to read for about $20 to $30) I decided that I was going to tackle the Sookie Stackhouse series from Charlaine Harris. I know plenty of people who read her and actually were fiending for the latest book when it was released. There had to be some merit to that and so I bit (haha, no pun intended). And they are very entertaining and distract me, which is sometimes what I want in a book. And sometimes not. Sometimes I want what I am reading to provoke thought or teach me something, whether about myself or some topic of which I had no prior knowledge. This book was not one of those. But it was entertaining enough for me to continue with the series.

Then I thought of the grammatical errors I found in the book and was peeved. Seriously, where was the editor???? I don't have perfect grammar, and I even intentionally use incorrect grammar on this blog (Helloooooo, incomplete sentences!), but I am not editing a bestseller to be mass-produced! C'mon, now.

I thought that I should send a card to my doctor who was involved in the code the other night at work. I heard that the woman's death hit him very hard. I credit him (and the rest of the practice) with Zach's presence here, and maybe it will make him feel a bit better to have that reminder of the good work he does. But I know I probably won't do it.

And I kind of felt guilty. Guilty for soaking in a tub? I guess with me working so many hours, I feel like I should spend my off time doing something more productive for the family. I don't know what. Organize Zach's Onesies and baby socks? Sanitize all of Evan's toys while he sleeps? To just soak in a baked-goods-scented bathroom while reading my mindless entertainment just seemed too self-indulgent, which made me think how we mothers are a self-denying bunch at times. I know women who have felt guilty over allowing their brastfed baby to have an extra bottle so they could get a mere 15 minutes of sleep. Who fret over sending their children to daycare so they can have some sort of life for themselves. Who worry that they may not have given their children the best start because they had to have an epidural during delivery for medical reasons. I am not above this, as I have been feeling down on myself for the number of hours I work. I do so, of course, for the financial well-being of my family. I know I am doing a good job, as evidenced by the fact that Evan is getting everything he wants for Christmas. By the fact that Zach, who doesn't even come close to walking, has a shelf full of designer shoes. That John didn't get a tie or watch for Christmas, his birthday, or our anniversary, but rather a $18K motorcycle.

And with that thought, the guilt I felt for the soak in a tub in the middle of the night and for the hours I work just ran down the drain with the bath water.


Once again, I am awake on my night off while the rest of the world sleeps. I have worked night shift for years without having this problem, but ever since I returned to work from bedrest and recovery. I have been unable to sleep at night. I thik this is because before, I would have my premed classes demanding me to keep a normal schedule as often as possible.
Several days ago, after getting the sinking feeling that my supply was starting to drop, I reverted to keeping a log of my pumping sessions and milk production, and it turned out that I was correct. So after puming like crazy again, with no effect, I went on another course of Reglan. This time, instead of going to the Breastfeeding medicine doc, I just cornered my family doc in the halls at work and picked up the called-in script the next day. Only this time, instead of gradually increasing my dose over the span of a week, I just started the full dose from the word "go". The results have been much different this time. During the first course, I didn't see or feel any results or side effects until about 4 days after reaching the full dose. Not so this time. I have been taking it for 2.5 days and as of yesterday morning, I noticed a big difference. It started with me not really pumping any more than before, but about every 2 to 3 hours, I would feel like I was completely engorged, which I have not felt since Zach was a newborn. I would think the milk fairy had left me the motherload only to pump about 3.5 to 4 ounces. Usually that is the amount I get every 4 hours or so, and when I pump more frequently, I get lower amounts. Well, yesterday, I got that every 2 to 3 hours. (Keep in mind I haven't really been to bed yet, and my yesterday is really 2 days ago!) So today, after a busy night at work and limiting chances to pump, followed by the need to stop at the grocery store on the way home after a damned-near blizzard outside, I was pretty uncomfortable and so when I finally sat down to pump, I got over 6 ounces. I haven't done that since day 1! (I know it isn't exactly record-breaking, but this is a big deal for me!)
So today, I was off, and I have been feeling engorged every 2 hours. Again. And this is just the beginning. The start of day 3 of the Reglan. I probably won't reach peak until I've been on it for a week or so. Holy Milk, Batman!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Don't Even Want To Go Back There

Last night, we got a call to take a ventilator to the NICU for a baby. I was in charge and didn't have the NICU but rather the MICU. The girl who had it, though, wanted me to help her, and so I did. Shortly thereafter, I got called for a vent for the mom, who was to be going to the MICU. She didn't make it. Code Blue, Labor and Delivery OR. And so I went. She coded in the same OR where I delivered Zach. On one of my doctors. When it became apparent we weren't going to get her back, we called the husband and her parents back so they could say goodbye. Her father wrapped his arms around my neck and sobbed for his young daughter. I thought he was going to fall and I was worried I didn't have the strength to hold him up. My scrub top was wet with his tears. And I proved to myself that I am tougher than I know I am. In more ways than one.

She died. Her beautiful, full-term baby girl is a picture of health.

And right now, I don't know if I can stomach going back to that place. Right now, I hate my f###### job.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On White Death, Lot Stalkers, and Missing Winter

It's that time of year again. The White Death, as we jokingly refer to snow at work. Because, I am sorry to say, but Midwesterners cannot drive in snow. At all. And this pic was taken from my front doorstep. Gah!
I had to work last night, and the common note all night was "How are/ were the roads????" All night, I heard this, from people coming and going from the hospital. It was just a little bit of snow, hyped up by or local media. A headline from a local channel's website: "Continuing Snow Likely to Produce White-Out Conditions". Seriously.
As you can see from the picture, the roads were pretty clear. And this was a non-treated side street! And it was far from a white-out! Still, drivers went anywhere from 2 to 10 mph as if we were driving on foot-thick ice. If they weren't going that slow, than they were going 60 mph. There is no happy medium from sensible people, which is where my fear of winter driving comes in: the idiots. Too-slow or too-fast driving means you are likely to cause an accident that may involve me. These people just don't get it.

Of course being home in the Cincinnati area is much better than when we lived about 4 hours' drive south of here. Those people freaked with a mere few flurries of the white stuff. Schools would shut down for a week with just an inch of snow, which is pretty ironic in an area where the vehicle of choice is a huge 4x4 pickup truck that practically begs to be driven on the stuff. And at the slightest hint of snow in the forecast, the grocery stores would be jam-packed with people stocking up on canned goods and bottled water as if we were on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. The only thing I can even compare it to was when we lived down there on 9/11 (not that I would compare snow to that, but that is the way people reacted). Gas stations had lines of people down the block, grocery stores were full, and everyone was running around in mass hysteria. I, on the other hand, was 10 days out from my c-section with Evan and home with my newborn, clutching him to my chest and full of fear for the world I had brought him into and fear for my husband who was still classified as "Inactive Ready Reserve" as a sniper for the Marine Corps.

Of course all of the public schools closed today. All of them. I have to hand it to the Sisters who run Ev's school: they don't panic. Ev had school today as a result. Last winter, when public school students had weeks upon weeks of snow days, Evan's school only had 3 days where the normal schedule was disrupted: One day was closed from the start after we had a literal dumping of snow overnight (the day it came up to Evan's waist!). One day was a one-hour delay because everyone was closing and they delayed to find out just how bad driving conditions were. And there was one day where they called all of us parents to tell us they were dismissing at noon because they had called for an ice storm, and for once it was accurate and the ice had started, so they sent the kids home before it got too bad. So all-in-all, about 1.5 snow days for the entire winter, where the public school kids had scads of them. (Incidentally, Evan got out of school for the summer over 3 weeks before they did because they had so many days to make up! Just in time for Evan to be there when his new baby brother entered the world!)

Of course the concurrent White Death and the need for Christmas shopping brings on a whole other phenomenon, and I wonder if the rest of the country experiences this: Lot Stalkers. A Lot Stalker, in case you don't know, is the person who will start a traffic jam at a store/ shopping center/ mall in order to wait for your parking space. I am the wrong person to stalk, because unless you have some disability that is indicated by a tag on your mirror or a specially-marked license plate, I will intentionally make you wait. I'll take my sweet time loading my purchases into the car and taking the cart to the little cart corral. I will wait for the defroster to clear every smidge of frost from every window of my car instead of just using my ice scraper. I will allow it a full 20 minutes to warm up if need be (hey, they can't tell by looking at my car that I have an engine-block heater that makes this redundant!). I will search through my glove box for my mp3 player and scroll through thousands of songs to find that one tune. I will take time adjusting my mirrors and securing my seatbelt. I will turn around and double-check the integrity and position of Evan's seatbelt. I'll make a phone call. Finally, I will start to back out of the space. By that point, if you are hardcore enough to wait for it through all of that, you deserve the damned space. Of course this year, it is even easier for me to torture them because I now have an infant to secure into a carseat or carseat base, and a stroller to put away before I can even load my stuff into the car. Ha! I should explain what made me so cruel. A few years ago, when I was in the midst of the interview process for jobs, before I accepted my current position, I had gone to a local discount store to buy pantyhose in a hurry. I was on my way to an interview when my hose got this horrendously obvious run up the leg. Lo and behold, lot stalkers attacked and I ended up in a line of traffic because the driver in front was waiting for a spot. I'll never forget it, because the lady who originally had the spot occupied had, like, 3 kids to get in the car, and it took her forever to free up the space. But there was an already-empty space two spots down, and the driver in front of the line of cars couldn't possible walk that extra distance! No! So I ended up sandwiched in, and subsequently late for my interview. That was the only interview I have ever had that did not result in an offer, and I blame lot stalkers! So now it is my personal mission to teach all of them a lesson: walking just a bit further is not going to kill you!

Of course I gripe about all of this, but secretly I am in love with winter this year. Our snow didn't really start until late in the season last year. Translation: I missed it all. There was no sled-riding or snowman-building with Evan. I was on bedrest. My experiences with snow last year involved John coming into whichever room I happened to be camped in and opening the blinds so I could see our yard prettily-blanketed, or the short drives when I had to go to the hospital for the umpteenth time. Of course for those outings, I was contracting 40 or so times a minute and couldn't have cared less what the weather or roads were like. So other than Evan sipping hot chocolate and playing board games with me in bed for his 1.5 snow days, I missed winter last year. I didn't clear any sidewalks or worry about driving because I wasn't allowed to drive. I missed the days John had to struggle to get the car out because I was contracting like crazy and he just knew I would end up at the hospital at some point that day. I just knew when I needed to go, the car was already at the top of our hill of a driveway and warmed up for me in all of my pregnant glory. My only worry was getting from house to car without slipping on ice at a time when I was already clumsier than normal.

So Lot Stalkers and White Death be damned, I am determined to enjoy winter with my family this year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Going to Die

John has been talking about this fitness program for some time. Now, let me tell you about John and fitness. Several years ago, he decided he wanted to go back to the Marine Corps, but he had gotten fat as a civilian. So he did this diet I could never do. I watched him to be sure he wasn't doing himself any harm, and he was very healthful about it. He just was very strict on what he would put into his body. And he started out walking, disappointed that he couldn't run like he used to. But gradually, he could do more and more. What started out as him getting winded just by walking a mile ended with him running 5 miles twice a day. He lost almost 80 pounds in 4 months. Oh my God, was he HOT! And women would stare at us, which made me insecure, and so I started back to swimming. I got up to swimming 70 laps twice a day while John was running. Enter Zach. And bedrest.

So back to this fitness program: unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard of it. P90X.
Hahaha. Yeah.
John wanted it. He woke me up to show me the infomercial. I bought it. It came.

It scares the crap out of me.

There are 13 dvds. It is designed so you can do it in your home with just a pull-up bar, resistance bands, and weights. Simple enough. Not. We previewed it and it is no fricken joke!

I don't know what I was thinking. Well, yes I do. I was thinking we would start this and by this time next week, I would be gorgeous. And thin. And ripped.

I'm still going to try like hell. It takes some planning. There is a nutrition plan and everything, so we have to prepare. I have to purge the junk food from the house. I have to go to the store and replace said junk with healthier things to eat. I have to read these books that are included so I know what the hell I'm doing. But we are going to do this. I spent $160 on it. We have to!

If interested, you can follow my progress here.

Big Brother (or Sister) Has It In For Fatties

A surefire way to piss off a control freak like me is to tell me what I have to do. Seriously. If you let me think it is my idea, I'll do it. But telling me??? Oh no, no, no.

And I work for a private Catholic hospital.
And they tell me all sorts of things.

For example, my birth control: Insurance pays zilch for it. Whatevs, I don't think the $43/ month self-pay expense is going to kill me. I am a little disgruntled that they would pay almost half a million dollars for Zachy's entrance into this world, yet still not consider my bc pill medically necessary, which is the only way they will pay. And there is no better way to convince the powers that be that you are bound for damnation than to tell them you are preventing pregnancy. Seriously.

So the latest and greatest: our fricken cafeteria.
Let's discuss this, shall we?
Our cafeteria is decent. And they open it for us night-shifters at 2AM every night, which is great. But at night, the food sucks. The lettuce on the salad bar is brown, the food on the hot bar congealed, the lady at the grill afraid of the actual grill and thus cooks everything at too-low temps ( nothing like getting salmonella at a hospital cafeteria!). It's bad. But on a few nights a week, we have a good cook, and she will make you anything and it will be edible, I promise. Enter the problem here.
They decided they care about our hearts. And our cholesterol. And our risk for hypertension. And so I walk into the cafeteria one night and I see the horror. No-Fry Friday. I shit you not. All I wanted was my damned chicken quesadilla, which it says on the menu is a heart-healthy choice! But nope! The grill is closed down. And on a night when the good cook is working! Oh the HORROR! The lettuce on the salad bar was brown. There was something made with mushrooms on the hot bar (highly allergic). There was no pizza-by-the-slice. And all that was in the cooler were little containers of potato salad (allergic to mustard, too). I ate a Heath bar, a blueberry muffin, and some potato chips. The quesadilla would have been better for me! For real!

So we are all disgruntled, right? And it is the talk of the hospital. We are all going to call everyone from the cashier working the register. all the way up to the President of the United States, in order to get our cheeseburgers back. A serious revolt was on the brink. And then Monday hit.

Meatless Monday.
You have got to be freaking kidding me. Seriously. No pizza. Still no grill. Still brown lettuce, but now no hot bar either. I ate popcorn and a Tootsie pop. Chased with a cup of coffee to replace the energy I would not be getting from my meal.

My hospital cares that my thighs have fat on them.
No, they don't.
They care that our insurance, though through Humana, is privately funded, and they have to pay for all of our heart attacks when the time comes.

Hey, Hospital BigWigs! I'll give you a hint: a heart attack would be much cheaper than one of my pregnancies. Just sayin'.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

7 Months,Almost

Tomorrow night, I start a very long work week and don't know when I will be able to post anything. But on Monday, Zachy will be 7 months old. So where are we?

Well, he's teething. He has been, sort of, before now. Now he really is. Drooling. Gnawing on his fingers, my fingers, any type of cloth he can get into his mouth. Today he was taking the little Avent teether and rubbing it against his gums so vigorously that it was making little squeaking sounds. Here he is with those yummy fingers!

He's still short. 23 1/4 inches long. The walker, Baby Einstein jumpy thing, the Johnny Jump-Up...these are just a few of the activity/entertainer thingies I have bought or borrowed that do not allow his feet to touch the floor. We finally found something though: Bright Starts' Around-We-Go entertainer. Santa brought it for him, but it's too large to wrap and so it is assembled and put to use. He loves it, we love it, and his feet touch the floor. Here he is in it, with the seat turned around so he can see us.

I don't think he'll ever crawl! I don't think he has any interest in it, to tell the truth. He will get up on all fours, rock a bit, then topple over on his side. Instead of trying again, he just rolls and scoots to wherever he wants to go. He got pretty quick with it, too. In the blink of an eye, he is all the way across the room. I'm betting he will be one of those babies who never crawl and go straight to walking.

He's still the happiest, easiest baby in the world. I keep waiting for him to hit a fussy spell and it never happens. The teething thing is getting to him a bit, so I know he's human, but not even that is very bad. Here he is letting us know his gums hurt.

He loves 'nanas and peaches. I have yet to find a veggie he will eat without spraying me with it by blowing raspberries. Peas and sweet potatoes both gagged him. Cereal is still a gigantic no-no. He hates it! And yes, I'm still making his food. He still gets about 5 bottles of breastmilk a day, and a bottle or two of formula a day. I cannot believe I've kept it up this long. 5 more months until I reach my goal of 1 year!

The beloved bouncy seat is on the verge of retirement. He keeps trying to sit up in it. Well, not really trying--he actually does unless one of us is sitting there actively bouncing him in it. The result is that he will kind of flip out of it, dangling by the safety straps which scares me.

After Christmas, I am going to buy his big-boy carseat. ( After Christmas because A: the one I want is pretty expensive and Christmas has wiped me out, and B: I asked for BRU giftcards from Santa, and if I get them, they will help me cover the expense.) He is now 19 pounds and the weight of the infant carseat with him in it is getting to be too much. It would have been fine if we would've left him in the original one (Graco SnugRide) that came with our travel system , but we upgraded when he was 3 or 4 months old to the one that accomodates babies up to 35 pounds (SnugRide 35) in the same pattern, and it weighs a ton. Of course this gets me all excited! I can get rid of the bulky travel system stroller and replace it with a lighter one, then we can just use it or the Ergo when we go out. My trunk will thank us! And for the first time since May, I be able to fit both groceries and the stroller in the car at the same time. Of course this prolongs the dreaded transition to minivan I was afraid we would have to make. I am so not ready for the minivan phase of my life.

He babbles and it is so cute. Ba-ba-ba. Da-da-da, Ga-ga-ga! I love listening to it. What do I not like hearing? The scream he has mastered and uses whenever he gets pissed!

Last week, we had to take him for his first ever sick-child appointment. He was wheezing all day last Sunday.I noticed it would improve, but each time he would spit up, it would start again. He hardly ever spits up, but that day, he got his usual diet in reverse: only 2 bottles of breastmilk and 5 bottles of formula. I had underestimated and froze too much the day before. And he spit up a ton that day. The culprit, we think, is reflux. Breastmilk is just gentler on his tummy, so we ever noticed it before. Reflux is pretty common in preemies, so I'm not alarmed. The doc was going to put him on nebulizer treatments, but I insisted on an inhaler with a masked spacer. Because I'm a RT, he gave in. We've only used it once since then.

I guess that's all I have to report. More at 8 months!

Lessons Learned

Somedays, I absolutely love my job. And like most people, there are day where I hate it. And then there are sometimes where the love and the hate are one in the same. Yesterday was one of those days...
A patient who broke my heart into a million little pieces. I was called to intubate this elderly woman who had been discovered down in her home. Without heat. She hadn't had the resources to pay her electric bill and her core body temperature was 74 degrees. She was in that shape for days before she was discovered by a relative. And the family! So guilt-stricken, not only because she had asked to borrow the money and they told her they didn't have it, but because nobody had checked on her in days.
A patient who made it all to real for me. A nice-looking, clean-cut guy. Dressed casually in a fleece and a pair of jeans, much like I do on winter days. I was sitting at a computer in the ER, charting away, when he came up and handed me this folded piece of paper, asking if he could use the phone to call these people. I unfolded the square of paper, soft and worn so that it was about to split where the creases had been, and dialed the number for him. It was for the emegency cold shelter the city sets up for the homeless on freezing nights. My first thought, considering his manner of dress and the way he spoke, was that he was calling for someone else. Since he carried on the conversation right there at my desk, I couldn't help but hear his end of the conversation. He had been carrying the paper around with him, too proud to use it, until it just got too cold and he had no choice. I heard him tell the person on the phone that he hated to take a bed from someone who needed it more, and so he had never used their services. But on that night, he didn't have a coat, either, and so he couldn't sleep on the streets. He even offered to sleep on the floor to take as little space as possible, if he could just sleep indoors that night.
The patient who was a reminder. I got called to the NICU for a preemie. 23 Weeks, 3 days. She or He wasn't delivered yet, but mom was dilated and her membranes had ruptured. They were doing an ultrasound because they suspected placental abruption, in which case an emergency c-section would have to be performed. They were trying to send her across the river to the OB Mecca where I was sent many times during both of my pregnancies. Apparently OB Mecca was full to bursting and so had to triage. This means they were only accepting patients to which they could provide the most help. 23 weeks is on the cusp of viability. 24 is the magic number, and so they turned her away. Her doctor had to explain to her the odds of the baby surviving with any quality of life intact. At a certain point of gestation, we automatically resuscitate, no questions asked. 23 weeks is not that point. And the mom had to make the decision that we were going to let her baby die peacefully in her arms.
People ask me all of the time how it is that I do my job. I usually tell them that for every single one we cannot save, there are several we can, so there is a balance. And for the ones we cannot save? I get to go in that room with that patient who is terrified of death, and I get to do something, anything, to make it a little easier for them. And then there are nights like yesterday.
Heart-breaking, soul-crushing nights. Nights where I take each and every one of them home with me. These happen to be the nights I get something out of my work.
The hypothermic woman reminded me to hold my loved ones closer. To never, ever take them for granted.
The homeless man, at a time when I am financially drained from the year we have had, reminded me that I may not be able to buy myself anything and everything I want right now, but I have a warm home filled with love on these cold, cruel nights of winter.
And the mom. Oh, the mom. She brought every contraction back. Every hospitalization for not one, but two pregnancies. I swear I could feel the needles in my hips. I could feel my belly torque and twist deep down. I was 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 weeks pregnant all over. I was in fear for my babies' lives all over again. But this time, instead of the depression that follows each time I deal with a preemie since my return to work, something very different happened. In the same instant those horrible things were brought into my mind, my head filled with other images. Evan's first cry, first step, first day of kindergarten. Those nights this past summer where the pregnancy was over and I spent five blissful weeks just getting to know Zachary. Zach curled into my chest, deep asleep. His beautiful smiles and giggles. Candles on birthday cakes and tiny baby feet. The smell of baby lotion and the sounds of John playing with our boys. Squeals of delight at a new milestone conquered. I was reminded of what could've happened to us and of what didn't happen. Of what we've survived and what we've escaped. And while I know that my last pregnancy did something to me emotionlly, I am on the way toward healing.

We are, all of us, just minutes from a moment that could destroy us. That family never dreamed they would never speak to their mother again. I'm sure the polite, clean-cut man never dreamed he would be homeless. And I'm sure that mom never dreamed she would have to make the call to allow her baby to die. Any of this could happen to me. Instead of letting this consume me and depress me, I am choosing to let this be a lesson learned: to appreciate everything I have, to love the family I have, and to focus not on the ways in which my children came into this world, but the moments I have had with them since.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Zach's 6-Months Pictures

I don't like them. I was terribly disappointed. It wasn't the photographer. God knows she tried everything! Zachy's heart just wasn't in it today. Normally very easy to smile and laugh, today he just looked at her like she was crazy. During the Christmas poses, he was more interested in taking down their tree than at looking toward the camera. But anyhow, here they are...

A Day Off

Why is it that my days off go so quickly? I get it in my head that I am goig to accomplish all of these tasks, only to find myself getting nothing much done at all. Today I was going to get the house put back together once and for all. Of course Zach ended up having to make an unplanned trip to the doctor. And we got his 6 months pics taken, albeit right before he turns 7 months. But before I know it, we are home and I am planning a nice, relaxing night with family, but as soon as I sit still, I fall sound asleep. Of course tonight is no exception, and it bums me out because it is my only night off.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Longer a Believer

Picture the scene: I am sitting on the floor, playing with Zach and asking him (though I know he won't answer) what he would like for Santa to bring him for his first Christmas. Evan, who is sitting beside us, erupts into giggles. I ask him what is so funny. He doesn't answer at first, but after some prodding, he whispers, " We have to keep up appearances, you know, for Zach." I ask him what he is talking about, and his reply was, "Zach still believes."

So we started this whole conversation in which my 9-year-old baby boy confessed that he no longer believed in Santa. When I asked him where all of his Christmas presents come from, he told me he knows I buy them. "Not Daddy because he doesn't work", he said. I first tried to deny this, then told him that the money I earn is Daddy's money, too. That Daddy works taking care of him and of Zach so I can work. He bought this, but still denied Santa Claus.

"Mother, do you really expect me to believe that one man goes to all of those houses, all over the world, in one night??? It would take him all night just to get here from the North Pole."

First of all, "Mother"????? When did I stop being Mommy or Mama and start being Mother??? Secondly, I tried to explain that Santa is magic, to which I got this reply:
" No way. Magic is just an illusion. And besides, like I said, he couldn't posibly get to those houses. He would have to travel at the speed of light and no human can do that."
It became apparent that I was not going to win this one. And then I became sad.
My baby is growing up too fast.
It isn't that I am so distraught over Santa. I am sad over the loss of innocence. The loss of wonder at the holiday season. He will no longer give that little gasp of surprise and have that little spark of amazement when he sees the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning He won't hurry to the plate of cookies left for Santa, just to check if they had been eaten. And for him, from now on, Christmas will no longer be magical. He'll know I worked to pay for those toys. He'll know John and I stayed up late wrapping them for him. He may even say he is too old to visit Santa and get the cute annual low-quality photo we get to chronicle that year's holiday season. I can literally see him grow in those photos over the past nine years. And because we are not a religious family, Christmas will just be about gifts.
(Image: Evan at 2 years: when he still believed, when I was still "Mommy", when Christmas was still magical, and his innocence was still intact.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ghetto Me

I've been bringing out my inner Ghetto self here recently. The evidence is as follows:

Exhibit A:
I have resurrected my maternity coat from last winter. I had been making my other non-maternity coat work--a lovely charcoal wool peacoat--until the lining got snagged and ripped. It came time to buy a new one. I had put it off over and over, but then I bought this beautifully tailord black wool peacoat from a maternity bouique. The thing cost a great deal more than I woud ever spend on a coat. And then I got put on bedrest. So other than a few rogue outings that were against doctor's orders, it never saw the light of day because I didn't. Unless you count the gazillion trips to the hospital in which I was so miserable that putting on my coat nver even came to mind. The beauty of this coat is that one could never tell it was maternity witout looking at the tag, and I noticed last weekend that it easily fits around Zach in his Ergo carrier. So I am wearing it this winter.

Exhibit B:
After our run-in with cooties, I need new furniture. I am seriously disgruntled about the bed. But the problem is our home. We live in a 2-bedroom. At the time, the price was right. Plus I was in school, and had no plans of any other children beside Evan. So here comes Zach. It was no biggie at first because I wanted Zach in my room, and if we lived in a 15-bedroom mansion, I still would have put his crib in my room. Plus, there is too much of an age gap to have him share a room with Ev. Evan will be in the throes of 'tweendom when Zach is a mere toddler. Well, my plan has fallen through. Zach has so much crap that it is taking over the entire house. (Incidentally, I forgot about this part of having a baby.) He needs his own room, and I refuse to move until we are ready to buy. I'm a big girl now and am tired of renting, but we are't exactly ready to make the leap because I cannot, at this time, afford a house that suits my above-my-means taste. So, as I am perusing furniture, I come up with what I think is a solution: a sleeper sofa! That's my bright idea. This way, as we are putting our life back together, Zach can have his own room complete with more room in other living spaces bcause his crap will be PUT AWAY in his new, all-to-himself, spcious room. John and I will sleep in the living room on the sleeper sofa. This means that is the only piece I have to buy, too. Of course I realize this will suck afer a while, but I think we can make it work for the interim before we buy a house that fits us better as a family. Then, once we reach that stage, and can be an extra bed for guests. Ghetto!

Exhibit C:
I really don't give 2 craps about this one! Unless you are my child, you are getting giftcards from me this Christmas. Sorry 'bout it! But odds are, if you got a card or gift from John and I, as a couple, in the past 10 years, I was the one who fought the crowds at the stores, fretted and waffled over what to buy for people who are as unlike me as anyone can get, then waited in line forever, ony to get home and gift-wrap the damned thing I bought. Quite honestly, I don't have time or energy for that shit this year. I have endured a hellacious pregnancy, fought cooties I brought home from my job taking care of sick people, and subsequently lost everything from said cooties. I attach myself to a milking device every 2 hours, whether I need sleep or not. I have a new baby and haven't done this crap in 9 years. And I work too much---so much that every offday is another opportunity to work more---about 70 hours per week. No matter how much I love you, I am not going to spend even more time away from my babies on your gift this year. Forgive me. I'll be less self-centered and tacky next year. Look at the bright side: your acceptance of a thoughtless gift means I may actually find time to take my offspring to see Santa, or give me a chance to bake Christmas cookies with Evan. My children will thank you!

So there you have it: Ghetto Andrea. Just a few examples of how I am losing my class.

The Death of Me

It doesn't look evil, does it? But I swear it is. I am so sick and tired of pumping. For the past few days, I have had a pretty erratic pumping schedule,which does not help the whole fragile supply issue. Quite honestly, I wonder if it is possible for a breastpump to suck the life out of you, and I have found it more and more difficult to actually do it. Exclusive pumpig is NOT for the weak of heart. I keep trying to nurse Zach and by now, he looks at me as if to say, "Hey lady, why is your boob in my mouth???". At least with breastfeeding, one gets the fuzzy bonding moment. I bond with equipment. Sucky. But I do it for him, and each day that I have trouble sticking with it, I remind myself why I do it. And I swear I'll do better tomorrow. I will.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Him, in a Song

Did you know I was a music major in a past life? Yep, I played classical flute for 16 years until my mother died and I just couldn't anymore. But I still have this deep-seated love for music. And I think my favorite thing about it is the memories it evokes of the people who have come and gone from our lives, and the ones who come and never go.

Tomorrow morning is my John's 36th Birthday. Actually, Thanksgiving starts the whirlwind for us: Thanksgiving, John's birthday (sometimes one in the same), Christmas Eve (our anniversary), Christmas, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day (my birthday), all in a row.

This is Our Time. I always get nostalgic and sappy and sentimental as the calendar pages turn from November to December. This year is no exception. And I know why, though it has taken me years to figure this all out--John. My angel and devil, my super power and my kryptonite. My biggest fan and my reason for doing a large amount of what I do. The one who showed me that there is such a thing as permanent love. Even during the loudest rage of one of our arguments, there is no place I would rather be.

So, in order to satisfy my urge for sentimentality and also to honor the very beginning of John's 36th year on earth, here are a few songs that make me smile and think of the other half of my soul. Happy Birthday, JohnJohn.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones


Right now, I'm pretty easy to please. I am in the midst of a stretch of days off. Right now, that stretch is 5 days, and I am on number 2. I say "right now" because I noticed that they are a body short on the schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and so I left my boss a note to see if I could pick up some overtime those nights. I won't know if I will be working them until she comes in on Monday morning. So it may only be 3 days. So while I am waiting for yet another load of laundry to finish drying (read this),I am chillaxin'.

A good cup of joe brewed by John. (This should be the part where I 'fess up that my hubby once worked at a coffee house.)

A comfy cami and soft OR scrub bottoms that have been washed a gazillion times.

My computer. Blogging (expect a few posts tonight--I have much to report!)

Excellent, mellow music.

Kiddos asleep--both of them, which is a miracle. Hallelujah!

John occupied by some man show on tv. (Not very feminist of me to label anything as "man" or "woman", but forgive me because I could never see a female watching the sheit he watches.)

And my new love. I should tell you what my new love is right now. I was shopping for Christmas gifts for Evan's teachers, and I found a great BOGO sale on Yankee Candles----I HEART Yankee Candles, especially the buttercream scented one, which makes my entire house smell like a bakery. (This is HEAVEN for a fat chick who cannot bake, let me tell you!) But that isn't my new love. While I bought a crap-ton of the large Yankee ones for teachers/faculty at his school (have you ever shopped for NUNS?????? Nuns who view everything as excessive and sinful, mind you. So they get candles for their desks) , I had to pass the WoodWick section to pay. I've bought these as gifts before but have never bought any for myself. But-gasp!-they were BOGO, too! So I bought a couple: Butter Rum and Biscotti scents. And I am burning the Biscotti one right now and it is emitting this delicious little crackle like a burning fire all while also making my house smell like baked goods. Mmmmmm. So that is my new love. Like I said, easy to please.

Psychological Warfare and Putting it All Back Together

Nobody warned me that when I was being OCD Andrea, checking every nook and cranny of my home looking for bedbugs, that it would start a war in my home. Well, we all know that I never dreamed I would actually find anything to begin with. And I was hyper-vigilant. Seriously. I found one bug and had an exterminator here in less than 24 hours, then did all of the prep work and had them back for full-blown treatment within 4 days. We didn't even have them that badly--I had caught it in the very beginning!!! So they treated, and we waited the requisite 2 weeks before they did the follow-up inspection. We were all ready to get the green light, when, lo-and-behold, we found a bug. So they did another treatment. Then another bug, and another treatment. We've had 3 so far. 7 weeks and $2,200 (plus living room furniture, a bed, and more) later, we have been given the go-ahead.

All of our stuff, sealed in black plastic bags in the basement, can now be treated again and put back in it's proper place. Books on shelves, clothes hung in closets, dresser drawers filled. Toys sprayed with alcohol and put away. Baby gear washed and put back together. I didn't think of this part. John and I have been complaining for the duration, since we have been rotating the same couple of outfits for this entire time. It will be nice to have my wardrobe back. For some reason, though, it is seeming to take longer to do this part than it did to treat it all and bag it up. So far I am only halfway through Zach's room.

Another part of which I was not warned? The psychological damage. I am like an insane person, searching for bugs everywhere. As in, "OMG is that a bug? Nope, it's a speck of lint." Or that tiny tickle of an itch on my leg couldn't posibly be dry winter skin, but rather a bug crawling. Truth is, even before we treated, I never encountered one until I went searching. But now I have the psychosomatic creepy-crawlies. In other words, I'm even more of a nutcase.
And the fear! I am so afraid to put our stuff away, lest we have to go though this again. Seriously. And I won't even mention the fear I have of bringing something else home from work!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Laughter and More

So the topic has come up recently at work about how it is that I can justify supporting my family alone. Again, it came up. I think the actual words were, "I can't believe John doesn't work."


My mother raised 7 children and never worked outside of the home. For several years, before I went back to finish my degree, I was a stay-at-home mom to Evan. I wouldn't say that either of us didn't work. Because being a homemaker, if done correctly, is the hardest job out there. No one says this of women who choose to stay home. But John's a man, so it must be different? Why?

So yes, I work and John stays home. It probably won't always be this way. It is just the arrangement that works for us right now, and my ownership of a vajayjay doesn't make me above or below being the breadwinner. Honestly, my earning potential is about 4 times that of John right now, and so it just makes financial sense that I should be the one working. And quite honestly, even if he did work, the cost of daycare for Zach would negate his earnings. So why would we do that when I can honestly replace his potential income with one extra shift per week and no daycare expense?

So what is it that John does????? Well, he is excellent with the kids. He cooks the majority of our meals. He does all of the laundry. He tries to keep the house. (I say "tries" because I don't think anyone could keep it to my standards but me--I am that OCD about it!)

What else? Well...

He knows te extact brand and absorbency of tampons I use and has no qualms about buying them. He knows the brand of shampoo I use, the exact shade and brand of my makeup, and more. And in his manliness, he is still not afraid to traipse into the store at the mall and get the goods for me while I'm working.

I don't have to ask for a thing. If I say I'm thirsty, he immediately gets up and brings me a drink. If I'm cold, a blanket. If I'm hungry, a snack. As a matter of fact,if I don't want him to do any of those things, I have to be careful not to think out loud because he does it all without my asking. He even drives mto work and picks me up because the employee lot is quite a distance from the door and heaven forbid I get cold or rained on while walking in. In the winter, when everyone freezes upon exiting the hospital, I don't even have to wear a coat because John is there in front to pick me up, with the car nice and toasty. Seriously, I am that spoiled by him!

And most of all, he makes me laugh. He is nonstop comic relief from the shitstorm. Like the time I had a horrible day at work and he put on my pink Crocs and danced around the living room singing "I Feel Pretty", even though he didn't know all of the words. Or the day I thew out his boxer briefs full of holes. e resurrected them from the trash and he ripped the seams all the way so they looked like a rough version of a bikinis and he puffed out his chest as he came into the room, wearing only them and shouting "This is SPARTAAAAAAA!" And taking a picture of him? Seriously impossible without cracking up. Seriously. So now I am going to close this with some examples.


For cherub cheeks and baby giggles.
For Eyes of liquid brown and sparkling blue.
For children's smiles that can light the darkest of rooms.
For adventures in motherhood.
For healthy boys.

For memories of my mother.

For 10 years in December.
For his ability to make me laugh.
For the strength with which we cling to one another when the times are rough enough to be able to pull us apart.

For my job.
For the patients I am able to comfort.
For being tough enough to endure it when I have done all I can.

For a home filled with kind hearts and warm laughter on this cold, rainy November day.
For good books and warm blankets.
For great cups of coffee at any time of day.

For my yesterdays that taught me so much.
For today with all of the great loves in my life.
For tomorrow and whatever it may hold.

For all of these things, I am filled with gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Yesterday, during Evan's fiasco at the hospital cafeteria, I ran into none other than the doctor who finally put me out of my misery and took Zach by c-section. (That's her in the pic.) And she asked me, now that the ordeal is over, if I wanted to have another baby. I told her I want to try for a girl down the road and she laughed. Turns out one of my OB nurse friends ratted me out. And I said "If it happens...." After all, my children are 8 years apart for a reason and I just don't have that kind of time as the years of my fertility tick by. And she said, "Come see Dr. J when you're ready." Dr. J, in this huge group of high-risk OB/GYN's, is the fertility specialist. I joked that I was afraid I would have to find another practice, and she told me no, that even 6 months later, every one of the 9 doctors will randomly say, "I wonder how Andrea is doing....." And she told me they all loved me, that while my pregnancy was miserable for everyone, they really liked me and it made it tolerable. "We love you, Andrea, " she said, "and we will always take care of you!"
And then she asked me if she coud kiss him, that she wasn't sick. And she did--she leaned in and gave him a kiss on the forehead, and it was so sweet and poignant. After all, Zach's presence here is as much their work as he is mine. I shudder to think of what the outcome could've been without them.

A Donut?

I got called to a patient's room the other night by a nurse who was in a complete panic. So I go. I walk in the room to see 4 nurses surrounding the patient's bed, and immediately hear the sound. Not a wheeze or a crackle. Nope, this sounded like a foreign body obstruction. Stridorous. Horrible. All of the people in the room look like deer caught in headlights. And I instantly take in my surroundings. The room literally looks like a wasteland of half-eaten food. Cookies, a pastry, cups of Jell-o, pudding, applesauce. The one nurse is grasping a suction catheter, which I take from her while asking what the patient had eaten and when. And it went like this:
"Eaten??? Nothing! She's NPO!"
NPO, to you laypeople, is Non pour os: Nothing by mouth. Meaning she isn't allowed to eat. But I can smell bullshit a mile away, and her nurse gets very, very defensive suddenly. So I do my business with the suction catheter, threading it through her left nare and into her throat. Down the hatch I go while asking again. One more chance to 'fess up, but nobody bites. And then I start suctioning food out of her airway that looks, strangely enough, identical to the half-eaten donut on her bedside table.
Mind you, I have suctioned some gross stuff out of people. A whole green bean. A macaroni elbow. Vomit. The worst was shit--literally--from a patient with a fistula between the airway and GI tract. But a donut? With the powdered sugar still intact? Seriously? Of course the nurse was still denying that the patient ate anything, even with the evidence right under our noses.
Until we got the patient to MICU and, upon intubation, found the rest of the donut, the donut's wrapper, and for extra fun, a wadded up tissue In her fricken trachea. But she didn't eat anything.
Only in my line of work...
Speaking of weird airway discoveries: this is why they ask you if you have dentures before surgery/ intubation. And you should learn fom this poor schmuck and tell the truth! (Side note: yep, this was at my hospital. Not on my shift, thank God! A coworker removed the identifying info from the image so there is NO infringement on the patient's right to privacy!)