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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Confession

I have to admit something I never thought I would. I know I can here and virtually nobody from my everyday life will see it. I'm sad. Very, very sad.

Maybe it is the way Zach curls up around my ribcage, warm and secure, after he is finished nursing. Maybe it is the way he seems to only be comforted by me--John can pick him up when he cries, and he will not be consoled. We will think he is hungry or wet, but neither will be the case. Then I take him. Suddenly all is right in his world and he drifts off to sleep, dreaming of whatever 2-week-old babies dream that brings forth those sweet toothless smiles. Whatever the cause, my head and heart are a hodge-podge of mixed emotions, swirling around together until I can no longer keep them distinct.

My due date was June 11. And I cannot help but to think, when I look at this amazingly beautiful child, that he should, by all rights, still exist within me. I should still be pregnant. That he is so content with me because it is where he still belongs. And that is what is making me sad. I see other pregnant women and actually feel jealousy. On this blog, that is no big deal. Yet I spent months and months, enduring agonizing contractions, and griped of how I wanted my doctors to just end the pregnancy as soon as possible. They did right by me and Zach both. They kept him in there until he was ready. They made sure he was ready. Then they safely ended my misery. That's what I wanted, right? Yet I find myself in a sort of mourning for the pregnancy that should still be.

Nobody wants me to have anymore children. If you have read the other blog, you know how things went with Zachary. Well, Evan was the same way. I did that not once, but twice. John and I have talked and talked about permanent family planning, and we were sure. I called and researched vasectomies and non-surgical tubal procedures. We knew we couldn't do it right away because of the financial implications of being on bedrest for so long. The plan was to use the most reliable form of birth control possible until we were ready to handle the financial obligation of such a permanent procedure. But then something happened.

While doing my c-section, the doctor exclaimed with amazement that my uterus is beautiful. Ha! Good to know. We expected it to be thinned and worn and scarred from the nightmarish pregnancies I have endured. But for whatever reason, most likely because I gave it 9 years to heal before doing this again, it isn't. So John remarked that he would like to try to have the daughter we have not had here in a couple of years.

What?! Huh? Seriously?

I should be aghast. I should be disgusted. And when I had to report to my doctor for a large knot in my lower belly just last week, I mentioned the idea.

He shook his head. He said to tell John that they (meaning the high-risk OB practice) get a vote, too. They do not want me to do it again.

But secretly, in the pit of my heart, I want to. I'm not sure if it is because both of the outcomes of my pregnancies (my 2 boys) have been so wonderful, or because I don't want this stage of my life to be over. Or maybe it is just me, hoping that one day I could actually have a positive pregnancy experience as opposed to the nighmares I endure. I am thinking it has more to do with the idea of never having a newborn again. Because if I could just skip over the pregnancy part and get the baby, I would.

So here in 2 years, John and I are going to try again. And we are not going to tell anyone that the pregnancy that may result was intentional. I have 2 years to get myself ready. To stop all bad habits and replace them with the good. To lose my extra weight. To take lots of folic acid. To prepare my family for another lengthy bedrest, if needed. To save money. Basically, to give any other pregnancy the best shot and do all of the things one should do when they actually have the luxury of planning. Zachary was a surprise, but this one will not be. Mayb e it is foolish of me, but I am hoping that will make the difference.

There! I admitted it. And I feel better--unburdened in a way. And more than a little bit foolish. But I cannot help the way I feel. It doesn't help to know that there are people out there who would flip out if they read this. But if I am the one who has to tolerate the brunt of the misery, and I am still willing, shouldn't that be all that matters? It is not like John and I produce these horribly sick children. Both of them are amazing, so one would assume the third child would be as well. So this is or secret plan. Shhhhh! Don't tell!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day

I guess you could say I am patriotic. I'm not sure when that happened. Growing up, I had 2 brothers serve in the Army. One of my favorite pictures of myself as a child was of me sitting on my brother Rick's "rack" wearing his "cover". My dad was a veteran and served in the Army as a paratrooper. And of course I married a U.S. Marine. I have friends who served in the Navy, or are serving now. And the source of Zachary's name is John's grandfather, the WW2 veteran of the U.S Air Force. I guess you could say military service has touched my life.

I think what brought it all home was a few years ago. John had been out of the Marine Corps for 7 years when he decided he wanted to go back in. He worked like a dog to lose all of the weight he had gained as a civilian. He went through the steps needed to reenlist, even getting as far as MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) for his reenlistment physical. A small patch of scar tissue from psoriasis stopped him. He could have gotten it waived. He had it when he served the first time. But he just never did. I think the extra paperwork, after working so hard to get into the shape he was at 18 and fresh out of boot camp, was just too frustrating for him.

Regardless of whether he did reenlist or not, I spent the better part of a year preparing myself. He planned to actually request to go to Iraq. And for that time, I had nightmares of losing him, of being handed that folded flag. He would sleep at night and I would stay awake, secretly watching videos of service men leaving for deployment,or of military funerals, and I would cry until the world was just a blur. I never did it in front of him though. He had given me every opportunity to follow my dreams, and I didn't want my weakness to stop him from doing what he wanted. I knew he would stop the whole process if he saw th true effect it was having on me.

He obviously didn't go back in. I was saved from the nightmares. But that entire experience did something to me. I now have a deeper appreciation for our veterans and their families. This is their holiday. A day to remember and honor the fallen, who lost their lives to defend our way of life here in the U.S. Regardless of whether you believe in war or the reasons behind any conflict in which our country has been involved, you cannot deny the selflessness of these men and women, and the families behind them. It is for this reason that we all get an extra day added to our weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

But I Still Love Him

One of my favorite songs. Ever. Reminds me of my John. Because I am a royal bitch at times, and he doesn't go anywhere.

"Unnatural": A Sure-Fire Way for a Husband to End Up in the Doghouse

I am not a domestic diva. I never have been, and never want to be. I can find my way around a kitchen well enough that my family does not starve. Well, that and my husband can cook and used to even aspire to be a chef. But this evening, after a dinner of mainly convenience-food crap, I decided that Evan and I would do a little baking. Nothing major: chocolate cupcakes and some brownies. Okay, I wanted the brownies, but Kiddo decided he wanted cupcakes instead, so we made both.
We made the batter and got everything ready. I put both pans in the oven. Of course the 20 or so minutes it took for them to bake was just too much for Evan, so he ran off to play. The timer dinged. I got my potholders and pulled them out to carry them to the cooling racks I had already set out. The he said it...
"You are not a homemaker! What are you doing????" Ahhhh. My husband. Of course to get the full scope of the irony here, I should tell you that while they were baking, I was trying to get a little further in my rereading of Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. Ha! But regardless, what in the hell did he mean? Just because I do not normally choose to do something does not mean that I am not capable. So I asked him to elaborate. And he explained that while he could find no fault with what I was doing, it just didn't look right to him. He called it unnatural.
Unnatural. Me. The woman who has been breastfeeding a baby every hour, on the hour, because he is going through a growth spurt. The woman who has nursed his son's boo-boo's for years. The woman who used to do his laundry.
So what constitutes "natural"? To not work? To not have any goals? To want nothing out of life for myself? Because I have a tendency to purchase cupcakes at a bakery when a school function calls for it, instead of slaving in the kitchen, I am less of a woman? Hmmmmmf! So now I am just, well, pissed off.
I have always been proud of the idea that I can support my family well on just my income. That I can perform so well in the academic world, in fields notorious for under-representation from women. That in the professional world, I can be more ballsy than a man and more cut-throat. And I can do it all without missing a parent-teacher conference and while smelling like my Donna Karan perfume. A hearty "Screw You" to whomever thinks differently! But now? It's not that I care whether I am the Queen of Icing, but that my own husband thinks there are any limitations on me at all. That to have a career, I have to make The Choice. That's my whole thing: I can do whatever the hell I want, and not a damned bit of it is unnatural.
I think that, just for fun, tomorrow I am going to dress up like a '50's housewife while changing the oil in the car. I'll show him "unnatural!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Remember Jelly Bracelets, of 1980's fame? I read this this morning and got in my time machine, traveling back to the day where jewelry was so cheap. And I shiver when I recall the shoes that went along. Jelly shoes. Rubber, $5 a pair, and I had them in scads: every fricken color of the rainbow. In both opaque and transparent versions, of course. No matter what outfit I wore,there was a pair of tacky, rubbery plastic shoes to go along.

So what else had me thinking I was the coolest kid on the block back then? I was talking with John about this, and he distinctly remembers different trends than I do. This shouldn't shock me. We were completely different back then. He grew up in the country, and I grew up in the city. I always hung out with the popular kids, while he hung out with random groups. We were just different. Honestly, had we met in high school, I would have been a part of the group he hated, and he probably would have been someone who slipped under the radar altogether for me. So his trends and fads were a little different. For example, he cannot remember Skidz! Seriously? Was this just a Cincinnati thing? They were huge. And expensive, and the only place to buy them was Merry Go Round at the mall. Horribly baggy, tacky, flannel-ish pants. Most were plaid. The bigger the better. The overalls were my choice, with the drawstring cord at the waist, pulled tight enough to keep them from falling off. And there were rules to wearing them. 1.) Everything...and I mean everything...you wore with them had to be color-coordinated. My favorite pair was this green and royal purple plaid pair, and I had to have the Barney-purple shirt to go underneath. The look was completed with a pair of purple slouch socks showing over my pristine high-tops. And of course the logo was a Slippery When Wet street sign, and was sewn onto the inside of the bib of the overalls, which leads us to rule 2: You had to wear one strap down and one up, so the bib of the overalls artfully folded over to reveal the logo, lest someone would think you were wearing--gasp!--a pair of knockoffs. And finally rule 3: they had really wide legs, which was sooooo not the thing back then, so the ankles had to pegged and rolled, which we referred to as tight-rolling. Ha! I was so cool!

What about Guess overalls? I had those too, as seen here on Jon from New Kids on the Block. (Don't even ask about NKOTB--I never got into them, and was the only one who didn't, I think.) As a matter of fact, though mine were of a darker wash, this is the exact pair I had. Back then, Guess jeans were all the rage, and they were also pricey for the day: About $60 a pair, which was ridiculous for jeans back then. I remember my mom making me sneak them into the house and I had to cut the tags off and get rid of the evidence, lest my father see how much she paid for them. And if the jeans were that bad, then the overalls were even worse, which means I sported the ultimate status symbol at the time. Absolutely obnoxious.

So what else? What about Swatch watches? Colorful and plastic and ugly as Hell! And they had to have the colorful Swatch Guard to protect the cheap plastic face. I think the worst look ever was piling multiples of these fugly watches up one's arm. But we did it, as we did a lot of stupid stuff back then!

So this got me thinking: 20 years from now, what trends are we going to poke fun at? Is it the Crocs everyone wore? (And some still do.) You know, those started as a healthcare thing in my area, and I bought into it, too. No matter what obnoxiously bright set of scrubs I chose to wear for my shift, there was a pair to match. Hot pink, light pink, neon yellow, electric blue. And they were so comfortable and convenient that they started to invade my non-work-related life. Don't know how, but I think it started with me heading to the pool to swim laps--I could slip them on, they were waterproof, and thus I could wear them poolside without worry of their ruin. Before I knew it, they were on my feet for quick trips to the grocery store or the post office. And once you go there, you no longer care. But then the bubble burst. Hospitals realized that shoes peppered with holes were not the safest choice for their employees to wear. Then there was the myth of them generating static electricity and ruining expensive medical machinery. Now? They fill an enormous wicker basket in the back corner of my closet. In my home,the fate of the shoes has them reduced to what Evan wears to play outside. I quickly discovered that he can get them as muddy as he wants and I can just toss them in the washer. (Much unlike, say, a $100 plus pair of new Jordans!) Of course his rainbow of tacky shoes is much more limited than mine was: black, brown, navy, and royal blue.

Other than this, I don't think I buy into trends anymore. My daily uniform is a mix between Mommy-comfy and College-Kid-I-Don't-Care. Sweatshirts and a broken-in pair of jeans. Gym shoes or Birkenstock clogs. My hair is usually in a sloppy bun and my makeup routine is more of a quick brush with foundation and a dab of mascara. I don't see myself much differently when I visualize moving the calendar forward to 20 years from now. Thank God.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stuck in My Head

I love this song. I've been singing it since seeing the preview for Sex and the City 2. Must. Download.

Maple Syrup and Being "One of Those"

I started taking Fenugreek. What in the hell is that, you ask? Well it is an herbal supplement often prescribed to nursing mothers to increase milk supply. I read about it on La Leche League's website and raced to my local GNC to get a supply. Err, correction: Since it takes an act of God for me to find time to take a shower these days, I armed John with money and instructions and sent him to get it. I must admit I get a sort of amusement about my husband asking for something that increases milk supply, as I am sure he forgot the name on the drive there. But this is John--He knows exactly what brand and absorbency level of tampons I use, and isn't afraid to buy them in bulk quantities for me if I ask. So I really shouldn't be shocked about herbal supplements. Whatta Man!

Here's what I didn't know about taking this stuff: Apparently it is used to make artificial maple syrup. And upon opening the bottle, I could smell why. No biggie. But now? My pee smells like maple syrup. I can taste a hint of it on my breath. And I can smell it constantly. Upon further research, I found out that it is possible and normal for my sweat to smell like syrup, too. And that it would even be normal for Zachary to start smelling like it, since he is drinking my milk. Now I am wondering if my breastmilk tastes like Mrs. Buttersworth. John says the smell is just me, that he cannot smell it at all. And so far, Babylicious only smells like Johnson's baby lotion. But I thought this was interesting and somewhat amusing. I hope I don't smell that sweet. I can see attracting swarm of bees outside, to which I am deathly allergic. Reminder to self: EpiPen stays in the pocket all summer!

In the meantime, I have turned into One of Those. You know what I mean--the new mom who can think/talk about nothing but her baby. I always secretly had something against those women. I mean, how boring must life be when your life is that one-dimensional? I love that I have an interesting career and a challenging education and an entertaining marriage. These multiple facets of me make my life richer, less boring, more fulfilling. But now? Zach consumes my every thought. Maybe it is because I am off of school and work, so there really is nothing else to occupy me. Maybe it is because his newness still oozes from his pores. Who knows. But I understand those women now. I actually want to spend every minute I can with him, to meet all of his needs. For now, that is enough for me. I know from experience that this will eventually wear off and I will need more. I'm just too selfish to have a one-track life like that. But for this minute/ hour/ day/ week/ month, I am just Evan's and Zach's Mommy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Ties That Bind

Two days ago, Zach's umbilical cord fell off. John was changing his diaper and found it in there. He couldn't understand why I was so sad.

Long after the symbolism of the father cutting the cord at birth, we don't hear much else about it. I see it as something different altogether. That was the last tie my precious baby had to me. It's now gone, freeing him to grow and learn and develop into his own person, completely separate from me. And that breaks my heart completely. It seems like every step from here on out takes us closer to the day when he is grown, which is a sad concept when you consider he isn't even two weeks old yet.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Losing It

Evan's summer break started officially on noon this past Friday. I had all of these grandiose plans of how we were going to spend the summer, since I am still on maternity leave for another month: outings to the park with my boys, lazy afternoons in the sun, picnics. Ha!

Evan has ADHD. I know, I know. I believe it is completely overused as an excuse too. But my son truly needed medication to focus in school once we found an academic program that offered up an adequate challenge for him. In other words, we tried everything else first. So here lately, we notice he is getting more aggressive. I figure it is the changes that have taken place in his little world, from having a mom on bed rest to getting a new baby brother after almost 9 years as an only child. So I make an appointment with our doctor--incidentally on the same day Zachary was to be checked for the sacral dimple. Of course, this required some tag-teaming on mine and John's part, as both boys were scheduled at the same time, in the same office, with different doctors. Zachary's appointment resulted in a referral for an ultrasound of his spine. Evan's appointment resulted in the discontinuation of his meds due to side effects and ineffectiveness, and a referral to a child psychologist.

So today was step one: Zach's ultrasound. I was a nervous wreck, since our doc pretty much already told me it looks like some form of spina bifida. We just needed to know how severe it was. I told Evan how important the day was, and that I needed him to behave. He understood. So we all load into the car and head to the hospital for the test. Evan even brought a book along to read in the waiting area. It all started out fine. Then it hit.

"I'm bored."

"I'm starving. You never feed me."

"I'm going to dehydrate over here!"

"I want to sit next to Zach!"

"Why isn't there a kids' show on the tv?"

Constant. Complaints. But that is nothing compared to him running up and down the hallway of the pediatric wing of the hospital, jumping up and down to slap the decals of kites and clouds and suns that adorn the walls. Or him arguing with his father in front of a waiting area of tssking grandmothers. I thought for sure that John was going to kill him. Or that I would lose my cool and do something that would result in my Mommy license being revoked.

We manage to hold it together long enough for the ultrasound, where Zach got a clean bill of health, and meandered to the Lactation Services office to get Zach weighed. But Evan's behavior just got worse. And worse. And worse. By the time the lactation consultant was ready for us, I was in tears. I'm not sure why--hormones, spina bifida threat, Evan's behavior, the stress causing a decreased milk supply that is requiring supplementing Zach's breast milk. Or a combination of any of these factors.

It's only been 11 days since Zach's birth. I think I forgot the demands of new mommyhood. He hit a growth spurt a couple of days ago, and our routine goes something like this: Nurse him anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes, followed by pumping whatever he left behind. Every 2 hours. The nursing-burping-pumping routine takes almost a full hour. So basically, I have one hour to wash pump parts, change diapers, hurry and take a shower, use the bathroom, get dressed, eat something, or any other task that needs to be completed to meet mine (or his) basic needs. And of course this goes on around the clock. Don't get me wrong--I love this baby. He is still the easiest baby I have ever met. I already cannot imagine life without him. I think I am just feeling a little overwhelmed with everything.

In the meantime, I picked up the new schedule at work. How beautiful was it to see my name scheduled for shifts starting on June 28th? Especially when, by the time my postpartum recovery is over, I will have been off of work for 20 weeks! Almost 5 months!

As for other news in my world? Zach's newborn pics came in the mail today, which got me all giddy. And I also took my first walk around the neighborhood since being put on bed rest in January. And unless you want to talk of the color/ consistency of newborn poop, that's all I have to report.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Worry and Fear

I haven't told anyone this because I don't want to induce panic. But since I know for a fact that no family members read my blog, or even know it exists, I can say what I want here.

2 Day ago, Baby Zach had a messy BM that required really thorough cleaning. His little stump from his umbilical cord has not come off yet, so he has yet to get the full wash job that comes with our ability to full submerge him in water. So aside from the quick once-over with a soapy washcloth, nobody has done a very thorough investigation. Well, I had to finally. And that is when I saw it.

Just posterior to his little anus, there is a dimple--a very, very deep dimple. It also has some blue-black coloring to it, and looks like a second opening. Knowing what I know, I immediately thought of neural tube defects and called our doctor. Upon further probing, I saw that it is not an opening. But it can still represent mild spina bifida. It can also mean nothing. Or it could mean that at that location, there is a defect in the formation of his spine. So in other words, we don't know.

Zach has an appointment with our doctor today. I am so worried that I cannot stand it. I am expecting her to order more testing just to be sure--usually an ultrasound or MRI. All I can think about is what I did in the first trimester. I caught H1N1 from a patient at work--was it the Tamiflu? Was all of the orange juice I gulped down, the multi-vitamins, the green leafy veggies not enough? What about all of the preterm labor drugs?

Of course it is most likely that this is all completely harmless, that it is just how Zach is made, and doesn't represent anything at all. I am clinging to that. After all, in the multitude of ultrasounds I received during my pregnancy, nobody ever suspected a neural tube defect. As far as the other testing, well, I turned it down. The odds are that if you get a positive result, it could be a false positive and incite panic for no reason. Plus there was no way we would make a decision to terminate a pregnancy based on disability, so why even know?

I am having a hard time. I look at my baby boy's sweet face and want to cry. Please, Dear God, let my baby be okay!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ol' Bessie Says "Moo!"

I have done some wild crap in my life. I have worked very hard to achieve certain goals. Imagine my own surprise to discover that one of my greatest senses of accomplishment these days would come from filling a 6-ounce container with pumped breastmilk!

I tried to nurse my oldest son. It did not work for us, and I gave up within 10 minutes post-c-section. So here I am, fresh on the heels of the delivery of my youngest son. I know he is to be the last child for us, and so I am determined to experience all motherhood has to offer. This means I will be able to breastfeed him, damnit!

I must admit that I had my doubts about my ability to do this, especially in the hospital. After Zach came back from an observation period in the NICU, within minutes, a lactation consultant was in my room. She was talking about him being a preemie, even though he was almost full-term. And he is little. So she actually wanted me to supplement with formula, and asked what kind I wanted them to bring me. Huh? Aren't these lactation consultants supposed to be all one-with-mother-nature, denim-skirt-and-Birkenstock-wearing Formula Haters? They wanted me to supplement? Seriously? But yeah, they did.

They came up with this routine for me: nurse Zach until he gets his fill, follow up with 1 to 2 ounces of formula, then pump the remaining milk I have. So we did it. And when he had trouble latching on, they brought me this bizarre contraption they called and "SNS" which is basically a thin tube that goes into his mouth along with my nipple, so he gets the formula and breastmilk at the same time. Hmmm. Weird. My poor husband just stared at it. But through all of this, I was wanting to give up. This was just too much when all I could really have to do is pop a nipple on a ready-made bottle of formula, all nicely measured out in 2-ounce increments. Something in me made me keep with it, though.

And now? Zach is 6 days old, and I am a milk machine. I feel like a giant pair of boobs with legs. I nurse, then hand Baby Boy to the hubster, who bottle-feeds him his small amount of formula while I pump. And gradually, over the past few days of being home, my milk has come in and I think I may actually be producing too much milk, if that is even possible. And it is everywhere: in the fridge, the freezer. Breastpump parts strewn about randomly.

I feel like a damned cow! And my poor husband will never look at my boobs the same as he did before my days of being a Milk Maid. But I learned something about myself. I can do this. I can barely handle pregnancy, am geared more toward career and education than motherhood at times, and seem "unnatural". But this natural thing? My body actually works! And the crap they tell you about bonding with baby better? It's actually true. Huh! Imagine that!