Wednesday, September 24, 2008
More importantly, Henry had his first day of preschool!
The first question everyone asks is, "Did you cry?" and the answer is no, because they want the parents to come to the first three sessions, because it's this parental-involvement program for 2 year olds. So I was there, and Henry spent most of the two hours pretending he didn't know me.
But he loved it! He played with cars and trucks, he kissed the fish tank a few dozen times, he painted a picture, squished play-doh, had a snack, played outside. What's not to love?
He did better than me, anyway. All the parents seemed to be chatting with ease and I felt like, well, I guess like a kid on her first day of school. All awkward and socially incompetent. Proof that I still have a ways to go in becoming less self-centered, because this was about Henry, and
On another note, I am outraged that McCain has dodged the first presidential debate. Outraged! Even I had no idea how much I was looking forward to Friday. I follow this campaign with the intensity only a shut-in could muster. I'm not an Obamamaniac by any means, although I've really been impressed in the past week, now that he's acting like his campaign isn't being run by handicapable gerbils.
Oh, little potato has just opened her eyes. My time is up.
One last thing: This morning Simon had Amelia dozing on his bare chest, and she bobbed her head around for a minute, then clamped her vise-like gums onto his nipple. Simon howled in pain, and for one brief moment, I felt very, very happy.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I am still in survival mode. Each day--each hour--that I get through is a small victory. So much the better if I get through it without crying. It's not the lack of sleep so much as it is the lack of any time to myself. And the guilt. I am currently a half-assed mother to Henry and my swing-bound Amelia. I feel guilty when I can't help Henry because I'm feeding Amelia, I feel guilty when I'm reading to Henry instead of talking to Amelia, I feel guilty when I have to pee and stay in the bathroom 30 seconds longer than I really need to just so I can breathe in a room by myself.
Also, my nipples may wear through soon. Everyone who has successfully breastfed for 12 months (or more!), you have my deep respect. I would quit now except that a) if I had to load up formula and the portable bottle-warmer I would never leave the house and b) the size of my rack makes me feel better about the size of my stomach. This is the closest I'll get to implants. I have cleavage!
Today we went to Target. Henry was a star--never running away and calmly leaving the toy aisle when I told him it was time to go. Amelia screamed half the time, which is a state I have come to accept in some instances, but which seemed to alarm every grandmother-aged woman in the store, each of whom offered me different advice about what I was supposed to be doing. If I had any energy I'd have felt either irritated or incompetent. Instead it was just nice to talk to people.
I like going to Target. It reminds me that I'm not dead yet.
Monday, September 1, 2008
I had no idea Henry was such a brilliant sleeper.
This gets better, right? Anyone with kids who didn't sleep right off the bat? I mean, I'll be sleeping more than four hours a night by next February, right? Maybe? Throw me a bone. I need some glimmer of hope to cling to.
And back to the gender stereotyping. MargaretJames blogged about people giving her son NASCAR sheets. The only thing worse than big machines being shoved down the throats of little boys is the offal that gets presented to little girls. Can't they wear anything other than pink? And not just pink--I have nothing against pink, I got her a couple of T-shirts with little salmon-pink birds on them--but Pepto-Bismol pink. With flowers. And ruffles. And maybe bunny rabbits with pink bows on them. Christ. Let's just change her name to Princess and be done with it.
I know--crab, crab, crab. Things are actually fine. Great, even. The fact that I have time to write this is a testament to the fact that my life is not over, as I had thought in the first couple of days. There's still a lot of crying in this house, but now it's mostly Amelia and Henry, and not so much me. Progress!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
It wasn’t that Amelia slept anymore, because she slept less, especially last night. But a lot of my misery seems to have fallen away anyway. It may be a hormonal shift, because I see my face is breaking out a little. It may also be that now I’m so tired I just can’t muster the energy necessary to feel guilty and overwhelmed. I think giving myself an hour and a half break between feedings is helping, too.
At any rate, yesterday I was bawling as James Blunt sang “My Triangle” on Sesame Street, and today I didn’t shed one tear.
Today was also the first day I really felt like I’ve fallen in love with my daughter. With Henry that happened right away. I was beginning to worry that maybe I’d never feel the same way about my little girl.
But then we were lying down in my bed, and she was reaching out at me with her pointy little infant fingers, and there it was. That crazy, all-encompassing baby love.
Also she makes this adorable face when she’s dozing while I’m burping her. She has her jaw agape and her eyes closed, and every minute or so she’ll bust out with a huge, open-mouthed smile. Sometimes she wrinkles her nose to go with it.
I still can’t fathom how this will work once Simon goes back to work, or, worse, once Simon starts traveling again in two weeks. But for now I am taking it one day at a time.
She’ll have to sleep someday.
Oh, one other thing. I did a weight check at the lactation consultant's today. Amelia is supposed to be gaining an ounce a day if she’s getting enough to eat. Last Friday she weighed 7 lbs. 8 oz. Today she weighed 8 lbs. That’s two ounces a day!
This girl is a champion eater.
She can’t sleep to save her life, but she has the eating thing down.
I'm watching Hillary speak at the DNC right now. I can't tell you how proud I am of how far she came. I mean, go Barak and all, but I will weep with joy the day a woman finally becomes president.
On a semi-related note, I am going to kick the next person who says something about me having "someone to go shopping with." Is that still all anyone can imagine doing with a girl? I hope Amelia is someone I can talk politics and baseball with.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Well, OK, Amelia sleeps great between about midnight and 7 am. She just doesn't sleep any other time, unless I'm lying down with her, which just isn't going to work with Henry.
Our days are spent doing a lot of jiggling, a lot of shushing, and so much breastfeeding that my nipples may pop off the next time she eats.
I am exhausted. Not just sleep deprived, but emotionally exhausted. She needs me constantly. Henry wants me constantly. I spend a quarter of the day sobbing. I feel like I am failing both of my children. And my husband, too, because I yell at him all the time. I think I'm bitter that his life goes back to normal next week, whereas mine never will.
I need a psychological epidural to get through the next three months. That, I have determined, is pretty much when I stopped feeling completely out of control with Henry.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Yeah, that was labor.
I finally took it seriously when I got up to get a drink of water and literally fell to my knees on the kitchen floor. I started screaming for Simon. After about three minutes he called from the bedroom, "What?"
"What do you think?" I yelled back.
The contractions were still sort of irregular, but the on-call doctor told us to come on in and he'd check me out. Simon roused our next-door neighbors, who were kind enough to come over at 3:30 am to sit for Henry.
The contractions were so painful by the time we got to the hospital they had to send a wheelchair out for me, I think because it looked bad to have someone screaming on their front walkway. Once I got to triage I was already 5 cm, which surprised me because with Henry I was only 3 cm after 9 hours of labor and 4 hours of pitossin.
I asked for the epidural, because, well, it hurt, but it took them forever to get the required 1 liter of fluid into me, so by the time the anesthesiologist came along I was 8 cm. I got the epi anyway, which was silly. I've been beating myself up about that ever since, but, God, it felt nice at the time.
My OB called to say she was on her way, and that Dr. E, the on-call doctor, could break my water if he wanted. So he did, with this long white hook, and it exploded out so fast it got all over my feet. There was meconium, or baby poop for those not familiar with birth lingo, which can be bad, but I wasn't worried.
My OB arrived at 6 a.m. We chatted about her kids for a while. Then I said, "I think I feel some pressure," and sure enough I was 10 cm. Dr. S said I could start to push, and I pushed once and she crowned, which set off a whole flurry of activity involving disassembling the bed/delivery table and Dr. S stepping into some sort of official baby-catching robe.
I pushed again and her head was there, which I could feel just fine, thank you, epidural or no. Dr. S said I didn't tear at all at her head, but then baby got me with her elbow as her shoulders emerged, and so there were some stitches after all.
I pushed for less than 10 minutes, and at 6:43 a.m. there she was covered in poop and a girl. When they said it was a girl I sat up to check for myself. Then I cried. I had no idea I wanted a girl so much.
The meconium turned out to be nothing bad. They spent maybe two minutes suctioning her mouth and wiping her off, and then she was with me, and five minutes after that she bobbed her pink little head over to my breast and started nursing like a pro.
So I was in labor less than 6 hours. Not bad. I so didn't need the epidural.
So now we're home and adjusting. Henry is a champ. He loves the baby, kisses the baby, cuddles the baby, and then quickly loses interest because she doesn't do anything. Visitors have been very gracious about bringing gifts for him, too, so the whole ordeal has been kind of an extended birthday.
Amelia is beautiful and oddly advanced in her motor skills. Yesterday I put her on her tummy and she immediately turned her head to the other side. Then today I laid her on her back on the couch and she flipped over onto her tummy. I don't know what that's about.
She is also very, very hungry. We had to supplement with some formula before my milk came in because she was so damn angry and because poor Henry ended up dehydrated from lack of breastmilk and then never nursed again.
Oh, and she doesn't like to sleep on her back. Or in her bed. Or anywhere that is not my boob, which is sweet, but really not feasible. As a result, she ends up staying awake for four to six hours at a time, then getting frantic, then crashing for five hours.
Mostly it's great. She's great. It's so different from Henry. He seemed so fragile to me from the moment I saw his funny-looking face. Amelia seemed tough and confident from the get-go, even though she was smeared in baby poop.
I'm functioning OK now, although I have had moments of sobbing, wondering why I chose to go through newborn-hood again, mourning the days when it was just Henry and me, kicking around town, sleeping through the night. But then those moments pass, and I love her and Henry and Simon and our whole little family.
I have no idea how any of this will work once Simon goes back to work, but for now we are doing OK.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I'm only about an hour and a half into it, and already I am thinking epidural. It's just past 2:30 a.m. I should be resting, I know. But I'm getting these 40-second contractions every 5 minutes or so that feel like my lower abdomen is about to rip apart. And as much as they hurt sitting in this chair, they hurt twice as bad when I'm lying down.
I'm timing them myself, because Simon's still asleep. I want to make sure this is the real deal before I drag him out of bed. Last night I was up for two hours with contractions--less intense, to be sure--and then they stopped dead, leaving me very, very tired and still without a baby.
Here's the thing: I don't really know when to go to the hospital. With Henry, my water broke, so we just got to go when we wanted. Now I am torn between not wanting to be sent home and really not wanting to give birth in the car.
What is it about the middle of the night that causes contractions? I was really hoping to get a good night's sleep before giving birth.
Meanwhile, my last contraction was shorter and further apart than the last ones. I am half hoping they'll just go away so I can crawl back into bed.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Dr. S stripped my membranes this morning, which, for those who've never had the pleasure, involves her sticking her finger up my cervix and poking at the baby to make it come out. It's not extremely painful, but it's not in any way pleasant. The baby wriggled around a little like it was annoyed, but so far not annoyed enough to vacate the premises.
I'm calling my acupuncturist tomorrow.
Thank you to my friends who commented on my last miserable entry to let me know I'm not a complete monster for having some trepidation about the new baby. I notice I added nothing last week about how excited I am to meet and hold this new little person, too. I am, I just forget that sometimes.
And even if I weren't excited, my increasing discomfort is quickly overriding my doubts. Seriously--bring on the wailing infant. It's not like I'm sleeping anyway.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I am four days away from my due date, and feeling pretty schizophrenic about the whole idea of a new baby.
"Any day now!" people say.
I always respond, "The sooner the better!" This is sometimes received with a knowing little laugh, particularly from women who have been through the baby waiting game.
But really that's only sort of true.
Yes, there is the part of me that is dying for this baby to arrive. I am tired of being fat, tired of not being able to sleep on my back, tired of my parents and my in-laws and even my husband, who should know better, and who now probably does after I screamed at him the other night, asking, "Anything yet?" Like I might fail to mention that I'm in the throes of active labor. Idiots.
Labor also offers a bit of excitement in what otherwise is a deathly boring, repetitive life.
But there is also small, still pool of dread in my chest about the arrival of this baby. A fear that there's not enough in me for another child, another helpless, screeching, pooping human with an endless need for me. Honestly, I am so tired lately I can barely get through the day being Henry's mom, and Henry is practically emancipated compared to an infant.
How can I possibly love this baby enough? How can I possibly love it as much as I love Henry? How can I possibly not resent this child for stripping me of my already meager writing, reading, and sleeping time?
These are not the thoughts I share with most other people I know. I think the accepted feeling toward an impending birth is joy. Saying I am not completely thrilled about the arrival of my new baby would be equivalent to saying I was planning on leasing it to a Satanic cult for extra income.
No wonder this baby won't come out.
On another equally dark subject, I just got back from dinner at my mom's, so I am glowing with that special blend of anger and self-loathing that I get from spending time with her.
During dinner, I asked her not to interrupt her own meal to go play with him, because it's very important to me that he learn that there is a dinner time, and that although he doesn't have to sit at the table the whole time, other people will finish their dinner before they join him. That's reasonable, right? It's the radical notion that the world does not revolve around his every whim.
My mom, however, wants to give up her plate every time we have dinner together, because she can't stand to see him denied anything. So she looked peeved, and then said, "He just doesn't understand because usually when he's here I play with him the entire time."
I said, "I know. I can tell when he comes back home and can't tolerate playing by himself for five minutes."
OK, maybe that was snippy. But it's true. Henry is an angry little tyrant after spending extended amounts of time with his grandma.
But the comment obviously deeply hurt my mom, who hung her head as if to cry, and then didn't talk at all for another 10 minutes. Because, of course, we don't actually discuss things in our family. She prefers to silently communicate her victimhood, while I usually choose to smile, then go home and cut myself.
Again, no wonder this baby won't come out.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It happened in the last few days. He said something like, "Let's go, Meg," and I thought I must have misheard him.
"Did you just call me Meg?" I asked.
"Yeah, Meg," he replied happily.
I'm still "Mommy" when he's wailing for me in the mornings, but "Meg" when we're in casual conversation. I feel like maybe he'll start taking a morning coffee soon.
Meanwhile, D-day is 9 days away. I forgot how much I hate this end part. Maybe tonight! Maybe next week! Maybe two weeks from now! In the meantime, just go about your business as though life as you know it isn't about to end!
I did get my toenails and eyebrows done today. Those were the last things I really felt I had to accomplish before childbirth. I'm not really that vain, but when I'm sweating, grunting, and naked in front of a roomful of hospital people I've never met before, at least I'll feel, you know, groomed or something. Some shred of dignity while I'm pooping on the delivery table.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
That was all very exciting, and although I told everyone I had nothing to do with it, I secretly thought it might be a sign of very good parenting on my part. I wasn't sure what I had done, exactly, but clearly it was successful.
But now, less than two weeks later, the potty is already a thing of the past. Last weekend he came up to me and said, "Poop," and I said, "Great! Let's get to the toilet," and he yelled, "No! Poop in diaper!" and ran away.
I tried a few more times. I even bought him "Elmo's Potty Time" on DVD. He loves the show, but doesn't seem interested in emulating Elmo. I'm not pushing it. Not now, not with the baby coming.
Oh, here's something I forgot about late pregnancy: insomnia! I remember having trouble sleeping with Henry, but I thought it was due to really sore hips and really bad heartburn. There's a little heartburn with this one, and some discomfort lying down. Oh, and the restless leg syndrome, which is some sort of preview of hell. But mostly it's just that once I'm up--to pee, to change Henry's soaked diaper, to shove Simon over for snoring--I'm just up.
So I am exhausted.
On the bright side, I've been doing a lot of reading. Nothing like a good murder mystery at 4 a.m. I recommend anything by P.D. James.
Monday, July 21, 2008
But then today at McCaulou's, where I was buying big-boy underpants for Henry, I saw a mom a little older than me with a boy a little younger than Henry. As Henry played quietly with the toy train in the toddler section, this little boy was pulling clothes off the racks and laughing as they dropped to the floor.
This in itself did not spark my judgement. Frankly, if not for the train, Henry would have been right there with him.
The mother said cheerfully, "Thank you! Thank you for organizing these clothes! But they don't need you to organize the clothes, honey." Then, as she hung the little clothes back on the racks, "What a good boy you are!"
Of course, within minutes the boy was happily pulling more clothes off the racks. Wouldn't you? I'd probably loot a drugstore for gratitude and praise, I get it so seldom.
Again, the mom said, "What a good boy! But you don't have to organize these clothes."
Outwardly, I was perusing 2T-sized shirts for Henry. Inwardly I was rolling my eyes and snickering like I was in middle school. Nothing worse than misdirected praise, I thought. It's so sad when parents are so afraid to tell their kids no, I thought. Way to send your kid a mixed message, I thought.
For about four minutes I felt warm and peaceful in my superiority.
Then the young child wandered over to where my own sweet, well-mannered child was playing with the train set. As the child approached the table, Henry, easily a head taller than the child, swung around and shoved him.
The child teetered, but stayed upright. Until Henry shoved him again. That time he went down, whimpering.
"No pushing, big guy!" said the cheerful mother to Henry. She was less cheerful now. "No pushing!"
I was mortified. My son the bully.
"No pushing!" I said, sternly. Henry, unimpressed, turned back to the train set, but I took his arm and led him away. "You pushed that boy, so now you can't play with the train anymore."
Henry began wailing. Really almost screaming his dismay as two or three tear drops feel from each eye at a time.
"Can you say sorry?" I asked. I'm not sure he even heard me over his own shrieks. Even if he had, he was crying too hard to say anything.
So I said 'sorry' to the other child and his mother. I thought she looked disapproving, but that may have simply been me projecting, embarrassed as I was by my inability to control my own son who, to those who didn't know him, now appeared to be a bully and a brat.
Still holding his hand as he bawled, I felt completely incompetent. I've been trying for more than a month to get Henry past the pushing thing, and here he was shoving this little child harder than ever. But then his sobbing made me wonder if I was a tyrant for pulling him away from the train.
The truth: I have no business judging anyone. I have no idea what I'm doing myself. Let this be a lesson to me.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
One day a week or two ago I suddenly realized that baby Henry was gone, and in his place was this almost-lanky child who talks and climbs and washes his own hands and destroys things I hadn't even thought of moving out of his reach.
Two days ago he peed in the toilet, because he wanted to. This is not something I've been pushing. The last thing I need is to be breastfeeding when Henry announces he has 30 seconds for someone to remove his pants and get him onto the Elmo seat.
But he's interested. So I applaud and I give him a high five and I realize that parenting is sort of like having only minimal steering control over a vehicle that someone else is working the pedals for. I can veer it in a general direction and try to avoid a major collision, but when we get there is up to someone else.
The other day he pulled his cousin Cece's hair to get her off the toy car they were sharing. I was shocked and mortified. "No no!" I shouted. "You hurt Cece. Now you can't play with the car anymore."
And he pouted and he cried, mostly about the car, but he's been talking about it since then. "Pull Cece hair," he'll say, dreamily.
I hope he's not a sociopath.
Three words about my marriage: I give up.
We've been in therapy for more than two years now. My major issue, in fact, the issue that keeps us going to counseling, is communication. Namely, that we don't have any.
Two nights ago he called from Philadelphia, where he's on a business trip. He was energetic and chatty, and I listened and responded happily while he talked about the fabulous hotel he was at, the guy he's been trying to set up a meeting with who turned out to be an old friend, the business deals he's lined up. He talked for at least 10 minutes. This was a great call from Simon! Then he asked, "What did you guys do today?"
I told him that we had gone to the park where Henry's friend had held his birthday party over the weekend, and after I warned Henry his friend and the party would not be there this time, we stumbled upon the same friend having another party for his park friends.
And there was silence.
OK, I know it's not gripping, but neither was his story about the guy he used to work with.
But I got nothing. I assumed his phone had gone dead, so I said, "Hello, hello?" to confirm.
He said, "What? Sorry. What did you say?"
So I had listened enthusiastically to him wax on for nearly 15 minutes about what a stellar salesman he is, and as soon as I opened my mouth he went back to checking emails.
I just said goodnight and hung up. He sent an email the next day about how sorry he was, and how he'll not read his emails while talking to me from now on.
From now on? That was the first promise he made in marriage therapy. It's what he promised two months ago when I said we're heading for divorce unless things change. But from now on things will change. Really.
It's stupid, isn't it? If it weren't such an ongoing issue it would be funny. It is sort of funny. My husband finds me so boring he can't pay attention for two minutes!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
We had our sonogram today, and baby is just fine. "Not too big, not too small," the sonogram technician said.
This is such good news. I told myself and everyone else I wasn't worried, but in my head I was thinking maybe I should pack an overnight bag in case I was sent immediately to the hospital for an emergency C-section.
Henry, on the other hand, took a face-first dive off his chair onto the brick floor of the patio at Dona Tomas restaurant this evening. I was droning on about American political consultants while trying to maximize the amount of mole salsa I got on my tortilla chip when he just lurched away and smacked down.
I usually make a point of staying calm when he bonks something, but this time his face was covered in blood from the nose down. So he was bawling, I was sobbing with guilt, and Simon was trying to get the busboy to bring us some ice.
The ice stopped the crying because Henry became focused on eating each piece as I tried to ice his lip down. Then he just wanted his beans and rice. Within three minutes all that was left of the accident was his fat lip and three bloody white napkins. Oh, and blood stains down the front of his shirt. He looked like a street thug.
Simon said, "Should we get them to wrap up the food?"
"No way," I said. Honestly, how often do we go out to eat? OK, pretty often. But usually to the burger place, not someplace nice.
On the career front, I've sent two query letters and gotten no response from either magazine. I know, editors are busy, but can they at least type a "No thanks"? Something. Anything. At this point I'd take a Simon Cowell response--"This is atrocious, stop writing now." I just want to know--are they not responding because they didn't get it, the topic is too narrow, or it's so appallingly bad that my letter is now stuck on the office bulletin board next to yesterday's Bizarro cartoon?
Well, of course I'll keep sending my queries around. It's not boldness or determination. I just have nothing better to do with Henry's naptimes.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Honestly, I fall into a pit of despair so easily. Most of the time I really love my life. Or at least like it a lot. It's just once in a while that I wonder how I can get through another day.
It's hard because there are not many people I can talk to when I slip into severe depression, which happens for a couple of days every month or so. I know everyone has mood swings, but I think most people don't swing so far into the my-life-is-agony realm. So then I feel depressed and isolated.
Thank God for a couple of people in my life who understand. I don't know what it is about empathy, but it is better than Prozac. Just having someone else who can say, "Oh, yeah, one of those days where you have no reason to live. I hate those." It's brilliant.
At any rate, it is hard to stay down for long with Henry around. Yesterday we went to the Little Farm in Tilden Park, where he fed celery to goats and one large cow. The cow mooed very loudly at one point, and Henry clutched me as if for dear life. Now it's all he talks about. "Big cow," he says, in his deep scary voice. Then he says, "Mmmmmmoooooooooo" with such intensity his fists shake. He makes it sound like we saw Godzilla.
On the crest of feeling good, I had my 32 week prenatal appointment today, and Dr. Schleuning said I was "measuring small." I said, "Good," because up until now my biggest concern was a 10 pound baby. But apparently that's really not good, because now I need to go in for another ultrasound to see why baby isn't growing as fast as she or he has been and should be.
Schleuning said it could be any number of things, including the fact that the baby is just in a sideways position. But of course I can't stop thinking about other things it could be, like intrauterine growth restriction caused by a placental abruption.
Dr. Schleuning also said it may take a week or two to get an ultrasound appointment, and she wasn't worried about that. So maybe it's nothing.
Meanwhile baby is kicking around like a star athlete, as usual. She/he does not seem particularly concerned either.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Henry is 2! It's a miracle we've kept him alive this long. Alive and, by all apparent measures, thriving.
And now I'm just two months away from another one.
Quite the contrary.
I am so depressed I can't write. I can barely sleep, yet I'm tired all the time. I can barely abide sitting here, because I am so disgusted with my enormous self.
I am wary of therapists since my last one flipped out on me. Also, I don't think we have the money. Oh, yeah, and now that Simon is travelling every week, I don't have any free time.
I would exercise, but all the prenatal classes are in the evening, and, again, I'm flying solo during the week.
I know--excuses, excuses.
In the meantime, I hate myself, I hate my life. I would kill myself without hesitation if it weren't for Henry. I may have ruined my own life, but I will not ruin his.
Friday, May 16, 2008
I just saw a picture of him from when he was 10 months old or so. He was such a baby! He is growing up so fast.
Today we saw a VW Golf parked near our house. Henry saw it from the back and said, “VW gone.” It took me a couple of tries, but I finally got what he was saying: the circle where the VW logo should have been on the hatchback was blank, like the insignia had fallen off. Which is not only damn good observation, but also creepy because that meant there were no identifying VW marks visible on the car. How the hell did he know it was a VW?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I feel like that woman in Texas who hit the homeless man with her car and then left him stuck in her windshield for a week in her garage, calling for her and pleading for help, until he died. Really--that guilty.
The strange thing is Henry hasn't cried for more than five minutes about bedtime in about a year. Last week he didn't even want to cuddle anymore. I'd just turn out the light and he'd say, "bed," and I'd lay him down and go about my afternoon or evening.
I was ready to declare victory over the whole sleep issue.
Last night I went in a couple of times, because I was sure he must be covered in poo or caught in the crib bars. Really, though, I could tell by his cry that he was simply overtired.
And there's the rest of the guilt: he's overtired because he's gone to bed more than an hour past his bedtime for three of the last four nights. Why? Because I've been out to dinner and have lost track of time.
Tonight I was having Chinese food at my next door neighbors', and Henry started saying "bed" at about 7:45 (his usual bedtime). Although I said I was leaving, I ended up talking for another 25 minutes as I edged toward the door.
I don't know how long he cried for tonight. 15 minutes? 20 minutes? I got a new air conditioner today, in honor of the heatwave, so I couldn't hear him so well. It was a blessing, and I feel guilty about that, too. At least I feel like I'm doing some penance if I have to listen to him in his misery.
This is all on top of the fact that we missed seeing his friend Santiago this afternoon, after Henry had been talking about him and I'd been promising a visit all day. But then Henry took a super long nap, which I didn't interrupt because of the above sleep issues, and when he woke up he didn't want to get dressed, and I didn't feel like pushing him on it.
When we finally got in the car, and then hit traffic, I knew we wouldn't make it to the park in time to see his friend.
"See Santi?" he asked from the backseat.
"Honey," I said, "I don't think we're going to see Santi today."
And his eyes got huge, and tears flooded in, and he asked again through trembling lips, "Santi?" And when I said no he began to bawl.
Mommy broke Henry's heart. Again.
I know I only write these sniveling little pieces about parenthood, but the truth is I love it. I love him. I love the way he runs, I love the way he tries to count ("two, two, nine, three"), and I love the way we dance together to the jazzy Sesame Street theme song that runs during the credits. Some days it's so good it's ridiculous.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Am I prepared to get up five times a night again? Without being able to nap during the day?
I talked to another mom the other day who said that when the second kid is born, you mourn the ease of your life with one child, just like you mourned the ease of your life with no children when that first one came along.
Holy crap, I thought, it's that bad?
Friday, May 9, 2008
They estimate that moms at home assume 15 different professional roles around the house. Child care is, of course, number one. But they also throw in things like teacher, cook, janitor, CEO, and even plumber and auto mechanic.
It's a nice gesture, offering up this large sum of money to express the value of a home-based mom's work. And I think it's important, too, because most people I meet seem to think I paint my toenails and watch soap operas all day.
***For the record, my toenails are pretty fancy. That's because a $20 pedicure, a book, and a latte is a great big chunk of heaven when you've got an hour to kill while your in-laws bond with the kid. Also, we have to take off our shoes at Babygym, and I think my toes help offset the half-inch graying roots of my hair.***
But the study raises the question: Is this what I'm supposed to be doing?
Because, you know, there's no job description for this sort of thing. If there were, I'd clearly be getting a very poor review.
I'm all over the child care, of course. It's what I do 10 to 12 hours on most days, and what I'm on call for the rest of the time. And I'll give myself some credit here: I'm good. I know what Henry likes to do, I know how to stop him from crying, I know about 90% of what he's trying to say. Although if I were paying someone I'd probably ask them to spend a little less time reading up on the Democratic nomination process in the morning.
But honestly, that's all I do. Teacher? Not so much. Yesterday Maura babysat, and when I came home she showed me how they had worked on "Up high" and "Down low," and also she had drawn pictures of a car and the sun on his easel and wrote the names of what they were. Here's what he's learned from me: when he spills something, he says, "Oh man."
Cook? Almost never. Most lunches are cold cheese, olives, a toasted pita, and some fruit. And dinner? When we have a stove and oven, which we don't due to our kitchen remodel, Simon cooks at least 70% of the time.
Housekeeper? If I were my housekeeper, I would fire myself immediately.
Plumber? Auto mechanic? No and no. Simon does these, too.
Like I said, it's a great study. And I know plenty of SAHMs, my step-sister Bridget, for example, who do all of these things at a professional level. I think she even washes and irons her husband's shirts. (I actually used that as a selling point about how we'd save money when I quit work, and after 4 weeks with no shirts, Simon quietly began taking them to the drycleaner again.)
Meanwhile, all I have to offer are my bodily presence and some kind of nebulous motherly love. I adore the child. He is exhausting, but I think he's a wonder.
That, right there--not even minimum wage.
Oh, here's the other thing I found under "Dream Job: Stay-at-home mom" on salary.com: "All three women are able to pursue hobbies they weren't able to give attention to while working out of the house. 'I love to read and have an insatiable appetite for books,' said Allshouse. 'Staying at home has given me time to read books that I've been wanting to read for years, including classics and current works.'"
She's reading books? Plural? I have been working through The Book Thief for three months.
Let's recap: Stay-at-home moms should be professional-level nannies, teachers, house cleaners, cooks, facilities managers, plumbers, and auto mechanics. And they finally get a chance to read those books they've been meaning to get to.
Do these women actually have kids?
At least it indicates that Simon should get a raise.
Monday, May 5, 2008
What have I got now? A cough that gets so violent it makes me pee if I haven't just done so, congestion that might be crushing my eye socket, a headache that's probably from the cracks along my eye socket, and now, possibly, a return of the stomach flu that kicked this all off last Tuesday night.
Actually, Simon just asked again, and I said I need him to juice a lemon for me, because that's my new "cure": fresh lemon juice and hot water with honey. He made a very irritated face. Apparently, he did not mean "anything." I think he meant did I need a glass of water. Either that or he was hoping I'd ask for the gun again.
I have now been bedridden-sick for almost an entire week. Of course, I haven't actually been bedridden, except for about a day and a half. This may be why I'm still sick.
This is the dilemma of the sick stay-at-home mom: who do you call in sick to? If I had a job, and thus a nanny, I'd just call my job, and stay in bed all day while the nanny did her thing.
I think this is where the co-parent is supposed to take a day off of their work, just like you'd do if your nanny were sick. We did that the last time I was sick. Simon didn't offer, I just told him I was taking the day off, and he'd have to figure out how to make that work. He was very displeased.
This is the other part of the sick SAHM dilemma: few people believe that you do enough to merit a day off. After all, isn't every day at home a day off? My neighbor Carl, the retired mailman, suggested I stay inside on the couch today. I consider it a victory that I didn't curse.
I have to be extremely grateful, then, that my sister, Maura, is in town with nothing better to do than come to Trader Joe's with Henry and I, then spend her afternoon visiting the park with the man while I napped.
I actually saw the doctor last Friday, who prescribed me antibiotics, which have been useless, and Robitussin with codeine, which has been a godsend, except for the fact that my unborn child is now ready for narc-anon. Poor addicted little fetus.
Meanwhile, my housewife and mothering skills, which were poor to begin with, are slipping. It is all I can do to wash dishes. The food under Henry's chair is simply too much for me right now. And the seven separate stacks of junk mail and magazines on my dining room table/desk? I cry if I even think about sorting through those.
I will be significantly better tomorrow. There is simply no other option. I've got a big freelance project, and my mom and Maura are lined up for babysitting, so I'm set to head into the big city (So. San Fran) to work in a real office (Simon's).
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Now he has been sick for a week, and I am sick, too. Now it is not so nice.
All I want is to sit. Actually, to sleep. I’d like to sleep. But that’s not happening, so sitting is the next best thing.
But Henry is tired and weepy. He’ll play with “Guy” in the red truck for maybe three minutes before Guy gets stuck behind the steering wheel. When he’s well, Henry will just bring the truck to me and say “Guy stuck,” and I’ll remove the guy, and play will continue while I read up on the Barry Zito debacle. But when he’s sick, as he still is, stuck Guy is a major issue, and Henry bawls. Not his fake cry, but his “Oh, God, why have you forsaken me?” cry. He actually throws himself on top of the red truck, weeping.
So I have to get up, and we have to sit for a minute or two until he can breathe again. Then I pull Guy out of the truck. Then I have to get a wipe for his nose, which has by then run all over his face, and which he’s smeared to his ears.
This goes on all day. It’s not always Guy in the red truck. Sometimes it’s that the pinwheel arms have popped off. Sometimes it’s that the water bottle nozzle is closed. Sometimes it’s that he is saying “box,” wanting the Dr. Who flying police bank, and I think he’s saying “blocks.”
I am very, very tired.
Simon and I are sitting on the couch, playing “what’s that?” with the baby-to-be. Is it a head? A butt? A back?
Baby enjoys pressing on the back side of my uterus so that I get this hard lump in the front of my belly. Sometime the lump sort of hurts.
There it is again.
I think this might be an elbow.
I expect this one will be a nightmare by my ninth month.
But this time around I appreciate how easy baby is right now, comparatively.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The good news: Maura is in town and was coming to babysit today anyway, so I got some rest.
The bad news: This was supposed to be my first full day off in 10 months.
The really bad news: After a painstaking recovery process from Henry's own cold/stomach flu, this morning he was weepy and cuddly all over again. When, at 9:30 am, he said he wanted a nap, I knew things weren't going well.
Dr. Vo fit us in at noon today. Henry has ear infections in both ears. Poor man!
So now I am relieved that he's got antibiotics and thus he should get better very quickly, and I am feeling like a really bad mother because I had no idea. No idea! Here I thought I was being calm and prudent, following the advice in my pediatrician's handbook for his cold and then his vomiting and then his fever. Instead he may have had ear infections for days.
And for the record, he never even tugged at his ears, so that's a big myth.
Remember when being sick meant you could lie around and watch TV all day? Me too. Instead I "took it easy" by napping in between trips to the doctor's office, trips to Jamba Juice (a treat for Henry and something I thought I could eat without revisiting), washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and cleaning the bathroom.
God, are all of my entries going to be this boring?
Sorry. I'll be more interesting when I'm not also trying to supress a fresh explosion of vomit.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I went there one day when Henry was two months old. I think I only needed Neutrogena face wash and some diapers, but I drove to El Cerrito because driving on the freeway made it sort of an event (excitement is so hard to come by when you're at home with an infant).
When I got there, unshowered and in the same clothes I'd been in for three days, I found other moms--at least a dozen of them, all slowly pushing their infants aimlessly around the aisles. Three people stopped to talk to me.
Also, there is a Starbucks.
No drink-holders on the carts, though. Management really needs to put two-and-two together there.
Target is also a fabulous source for maternity wear, because at least 80 percent of their regular clothes fit pregnant women, and the Isaac Mizrahi stuff is pretty hot, even if it is under $20. Today I got myself a blue shift-dress for $17.99.
Their actual maternity clothes are revolting. There are four or five giant posters around the maternity section featuring pregnant models in gorgeous clothes. But they don't actually have any of the poster clothes available in the store. Nearly everything there looks like an oversized pillowcase with a strategically placed drawstring, made from rejected IKEA fabrics. I can't believe Liz Lange puts her name on that crap.
I was actually at Target this morning to find a swimsuit for prenatal water aerobics.
You know what I hate about pregnant swimsuit shopping? My ass. It would be fine if it just got huge. I could work a J-Lo look. But when I'm pregnant it gets huge and flabby and today I even saw cellulite. I've been doing butt exercises for weeks now, and I still look like an overweight 80-year-old from the rear.
I actually bought a "skirtini" bottom. I look like I'm borrowing my grandma's swimsuit. At least I look like I might have a nice butt under that grandma's swimsuit. I am keeping the mystery alive.
You know what I love about pregnant swimsuit shopping? Breasts. I don't usually have any, so now that I'm jiggling 36-Bs, I feel like a porn star. I look smokin' hot from about the ribcage to my neck.
Oh, after Target I went to Elephant Pharmacy to get my awful all-natural haircolor so I don't deform the baby while covering up my grey.
The woman at the checkout counter was all nice until I told her I'd need a bag for the things I was buying. Then she seemed to get all irritated with me. Damn Berkeleyites. I have to remember to bring a tote bag next time I go.
Monday, April 28, 2008
It started Friday with goop in his right eye. I called the advice line at the pediatrician's office (I'm actually surprised they haven't blocked my number yet), and the nurse said it was probably related to the small cold he had going, and to call back if it hadn't cleared up in two to three days, which is pretty much what they say about everything.
Then Friday night the vomit started. The first vomit is always the ripest and chunkiest and this was all over the crib and also in his hair and his ear. We had to give him a bath, which made me feel like a particularly bad mother, because there he was, sick, sad, and confused as to why his parents were torturing him in his hour of need.
He puked again that night while Simon skillfully held him over the toilet. And then again Saturday morning, after he seemed better and ate breakfast, over the side of the grocery cart when Simon took him to the Safeway.
Let me just take a moment to express how very, very happy I am that I wasn't there. That was some sort of divine gift.
**Here's a disturbing note: Simon returned to the Safeway about 45 minutes later, after both he and Henry were bathed and changed. When he got there, both his cart and the vomit were just as he had left them.**
Sunday he didn't throw up even once. Today he didn't even have a fever. He was just tired and weepy and wanting to sit on my lap reading books all day, which was exhausting but adorable.
I didn't appreciate how independent Henry is until this past weekend. Usually I can read the paper and have a cup of coffee while keeps busy moving the contents of my purse into the garbage can and vice versa. This weekend it was all about constant Mommy attention.
You know what's funny? I haven't felt this not depressed in weeks. I feel on purpose. So many times I wonder if Henry even cares that I'm around, particularly when he asks 50 times a day where Grandma is, or Auntie Mo is, or Jeff Walsh, my dad's friend who he met once. But when he was sick, all he wanted was Mommy. Even with a 104.5 degree fever, sitting with me (and his lovey and binky) seemed to make him feel better.
Not a lot of appreciation in this job. It's nice to feel like I'm doing something right.
Tonight I had to talk to my mom and explain several times that sometimes I need a break from her, and that when I do, I am not "punishing" her by withholding Henry. Gah.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Apparently, second babies tend to weigh more than first babies, and Henry was 9 lbs., 2 oz., so she has visions of a 10+ pounder and brought up the dreaded possibility of a C-section. Yuck. This is exactly the problem with doctors instead of midwives. You always have to be prepared to ward off the scalpel.
I told her I'll accept the C if it comes to that, but that, regardless of the size, I want to try to do this vaginally. After all, giant Henry and his giant 15 inch head were no problem. Except, you know, for the part where I had to sit on a hemorrhoid pillow for the next two weeks.
She said the good news was that if this baby is even 8 1/2 pounds, it should be a snap.
"You might consider taking up coffee and cigarettes," she said.
Then she said, "Just kidding."
Then she said, "Actually, a little coffee might not be bad."
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I finally snapped and yelled at Henry. He was taking his bath, sucking bathwater from his squirting Thomas the Tank Engine bath toy. I told him no, as I always do when he starts drinking from those little lead- and mildew-coated trains. He kept sucking. So I took the blue one away. He grabbed the red one and started on that. I took that one away. He grabbed the green one. Each time he grabbed a new toy, he stared right at me in sinister toddler defiance. Each time I said no, my voice got louder. By the fifth one, I was shouting as I announced that bath time was over.
I thought he might cry. Worse, he just sat silently on my lap as I dried him off. I felt awful.
"Do you know that Mommy loves you?" I asked.
He didn't respond.
Then there I was, explaining that Mommy was very crabby and tired and that he is, in fact, a very good boy who just has to work on not sucking moldy trains.
He sat quietly with his lip out.
Oh, yeah, my job people never even called me. All that anxiety for nothing. Too bad for them. At this point I would agree to be paid in pita chips just to get out of the house.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Friday night I was doing my tri-weekly scan of craigslist for any remotely interesting part-time position, when I found it: television news segment producer, three days a week every other week, two days a week on alternate weeks.
I was so giddy I almost couldn't sleep that night. The next day, during Henry's nap time, I sent my updated resume and a cover letter to the email address. I felt electric.
And then 10 minutes passed and I felt ill. Every Feminine-Mystique-y stereotype I have in my head about the necessity of being a full time mother came charging out of the far corners of my brain. I'd be abandoning my son. Outsourcing the most important job I'll ever do. Turning him over to a stranger to satisfy my own selfish needs.
It didn't help when I told my mom about the job. She won't come out and say she thinks it's a terrible idea, but she manages to slip the idea in between supportive statements. "I totally understand the need for a job," she said. "That's why I started working as soon as you were both in school full time."
Then she reminded me that no job could be as important as taking care of Henry. And that although these years seem long now, when I look back I'll realize they were just a fraction of time. And that I will have more stress than I can imagine if I get a job.
But that she really, really, thought it sounded great.
I'm not blaming her. These things wouldn't bother me if they weren't already lodged in my psyche.
Don't get me wrong: I do not think working mothers are a bad thing. In fact, the mothers I know who worked from the time their children were born always seem to have the most confident, well-adjusted kids. Every one of my mom friends work or are returning to work, and all of their kids are lovely, happy little people.
This is just another way for me to beat myself up. Not just beat myself up--beat myself up over something that hasn't happened yet. And, let's be honest, will probably not happen.
Sure, the employers may be so impressed with my qualifications that they manage to overlook the fact that I failed to capitalize and italicize "the" in The Economist (which may not seem that bad to you, but as an editor, I feel like it's the equivalent of showing up to an interview in assless chaps). But there is no way they can overlook baby #2, which already has that I-ate-the-whole-basketball housing. I know pregnancy discrimination is illegal, but really, if you were a non-commercial satellite station, would you want to have to find a temporary employee within three months of finding your permanent one?
So to recap: I found a possible means of escape from housewifedom, I felt good, I felt guilty, I talked to my mom, I felt more guilty, I have almost no chance of getting the job anyway, which makes me relieved for a minute, and then sad again.
At least mental and emotional instability gives me something to do.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I know it often seems that I have nothing good to say about Simon. Next to my mom, he is my biggest archenemy. And however many new leaves I turn over, I am likely to continue to bitch and moan about him and to him because he is abysmal at interpersonal communication and he is self-absorbed in a way that a boy might become if his mom always cooked his food and made his bed and put the toilet seat down so silently in the background that the boy thinks those things just happen on their own.
But it occurred to me last weekend, as we drove out to Stinson Beach and I tried to give him the silent treatment the whole way over (I made it to the San Rafael Bridge), that I relish my resentments. I get a sort of self-righteous glee in turning them over and over in my mind.
Then this morning after breakfast Simon turned to Henry and said, "Did you donate to Daddy's race fund? Thanks, Henry!" And my stomach flipped over as a realized that his 200 mile relay race is this weekend and I haven't donated one red cent. This after he donated $500 to my marathon fund last year because I had been griping about the fact that I wouldn't get the free hat they gave to early fundraisers.
And I remembered that before I hated him for things like breathing too loud in bed, I felt a near-constant guilt over being a lousy wife.
So maybe the truth is that I still love him dearly. I just have guilt issues in relationships. Oh, yeah, and this whole traditional-spousal-role thing also cheeses me off. Seriously, the next time he says, "I can watch Henry for you," I may smack him.
He did send me a large bouquet of flowers today, with a note that says, "I love you." This after I grunted and dodged a kiss when he wished me a Happy Anniversary this morning.
Honestly? I'm pretty lucky.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I reached my hand back, and got a little gummy ball in my fingers.
"What was that?" I asked Henry.
"Guk," he replied, which means "dirt."
A couple of minutes later I parked the car, and when I went around to get Henry he was just pulling a finger from his right nostril, and there was a large booger on it. He held it up to me and said, "guk."
Suddenly it all became horribly clear. "Did you give Mommy a booger a few minutes ago?" I asked.
"Yeah!" he said proudly, offering me the next one.
This is the closest I get to appreciation these days.
She looked fantastic—long, gorgeous hair, perfect yet minimal makeup, a black-and-white mini dress with matching sweater. She looks very New York. Very successful New York.
She just broke up with Paul, her Dutch boyfriend of four years. She has a fabulous Manhattan apartment and great friends. She's applying for a job at Ralph Lauren Home.
From her perspective, everything is uncertain. But I from where I sit, her future is absolutely gleaming.
And me? I am thrilled for her. Just really, really ecstatic. And so jealous I cried on and off all evening.
As free as she is, that’s how trapped I feel in my (not always, but currently) miserable marriage and my teeny-tiny cluttered little house.
Now I cry at least once a week as I do dishes in the temporary sink in our laundry room. I don’t see possibilities anymore. I only see more dishes.
So to celebrate my despondency I had three cookies and a quarter of a tub of fat-free Cool Whip. Then I was despondent and also sick to my stomach.
I adore Henry. Most days I love staying home with him. But, Christ, if I have to spend another two years as nothing more than someone's mommy, someone's wife, and both those someones' housekeeper, I'll lose it for good.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Crap. I had this idea that a blog would be a fine activity for me and that maybe my struggles with motherhood/marriage/depression might be relevant to someone other than myself.
In my head I had these brilliant topics lined up. I am really, really pithy in my head. I'm freakin' Anne Lamott.
And now I sit down and I am reminded that my life is excrutiatingly boring. That, and I have only a very tentative idea of what a blog is.
So, you know, welcome and my apologies.
Here's me on a wild Friday night: On my ass, on the couch, trying hard to focus on writing instead of researching Aspberger's Syndrome because my 2-year-old son, Henry, has an obsession with auto insignias.
Henry's asleep. Simon, my husband and sometime nemesis, won't be back from his business trip until past midnight. It would be silent if not for the clothes drier that's almost always going.
This morning I had the horrible realization that my son may be fat. Not just chubby, but actually overweight. The light first flickered one when I slipped the 24-month T-shirt over his 22-month head, and it barely fit over his belly. Then, as he ran around with his buddies at baby gym, it occurred to me that he looks like a linebacker. As I mulled this over, I mentioned to my friend Susie that Henry stepped on my mom's scale the other day and it read 31 pounds, and Susie said, "Oh my God!"
Sure enough, I typed in his weight and height into a BMI calculator and it says he's overweight.
This is probably not a big deal in the scheme of things, but I have no job besides this, and so I take it as a failure on my part. I always thought fat kids just ate crap and watched too much TV. Henry eats berries and yogurt for breakfast! He eats raisins instead of candy! He spends half the day running laps around our house or our yard or the park.
The worst part is I wrote a column about childhood obesity back before I had kids and it was all know-it-all-y. It's so easy to give advice when it's purely on a theoretical basis.