I've Been Saying
May 14th in answer to the most common question of the last year for so long that it comes without me even thinking about it. Sometimes, moreso now, people realize that it's also Mother's Day and exclaim about that.

But um, hey. It's in 2 weeks. You know, our due date. You know, the day our baby is supposed to arrive around. Yeah, I get it that unlike my own arrival in the family, which was a scheduled pickup from the adoption agency, this kid's arrival could come anytime between now and then, or a little after.

But still, that day, it is coming really really soon. And after that day, I will be able to tie my shoes again!

The Longest, The Shortest
A year ago today, I got the call that I knew was coming. Well, it was two calls, the first telling me that my Grandma was going to pass away that day and the second was my dad telling me "Grandma's gone," his voice cracking and me, filled with the hours I'd spent in the interim doing what my family does when faced with grief -- things. I'd rescheduled my travel plans (we were supposed to go to Denver that week anyway for a tournament that wound up being ill-fated, at best), then realized that in that rescheduling, our tickets now did not get us back to San Jose in the end.

All those details, all those minutae served well to distract me from what was the hardest news I'd ever heard (tied, I suppose, with hearing that Alice had never woken up from surgery). That night, I went and played my hockey game, scoring not one but two goals, something I've done only a handful of times. We had a very tough time getting to Columbus when we left on Monday, with our flight from Chicago being cancelled and me needing to use all my composure to get seats on a flight later that day, even ahead of a woman who was trying to get home for her mother's funeral.

The rest of the week was a flurry of activity, with the Very Loud Scene at the visitation, where my entire family filled the room and talked loudly for quite some time while she lay in her casket at the head of the room. That was exactly the kind of sendoff I know Grandma would want, all of us gathered around her, sharing stories about her and greeting one another. The next day, we had her funeral, where I did the hardest thing I've ever done -- stood up in front of all of them inside a cavernous church and spoke about who she was.

Knowing that task lay before me haunted me all week and kept my mind too busy to grieve. That's how I work, at least it was how I needed to work that week.

Now, it's a year later, the contents of the house have been parcelled out among those who loved her, the house has finally been sold, the new owners took possesion last week. Her phone, the first phone number I ever learned, has been shut off, though I may never be able to delete it from my phone. I've dreamt of her a couple of times, I've missed her every day.

I know that I always will miss her. There's no way I could not. If you knew her, you'd miss her too.

The last year has gone by so fast and as we prepare to welcome our daughter into the world, I asked only one thing of our little girl -- to please not be born on this day, one year after Grandma left us. It's 10:33 pm now and unless we have some miracle labor, I think my request has been honored.

So many changes have happened since she left, since she asked what time it was then faded away with many family members gathered around her, holding her hands and talking to her. Sometimes I forget that she's gone and go to pick up the phone and call her to tell her something silly that happened.

And then I remember and the grief kicks in again. Just like I still see Alice out of the corner of my eye, I think Grandma will be with me always like this.

Goddamn, I miss her.

It Still Blows My Mind

When I'm getting assvice about something and in response, I say something to the effect of 'we considered that but in the end decided against it' why the assvice givers are okay responding with 'you can always change your mind.' Or something similar.


Lazy Days And Gus

Today marks the end of my 2nd week at home on leave. I continue to think that I'll be overcome with energy, that our whole house will be magically clean after I emerge from a night of good sleep and start a flurry of activity.

But no, I sleep like crap, wake up every couple hours because something has fallen asleep, a leg, an arm, whatever. So instead of grand sweeping cleanliness, we have little things, and rest.

Slowly, but surely, it's getting there. The baby's room is almost ready, laundry gets done, counters get cleaned. And then I sit. I even washed the car today, which made me overheat. And then I sat.

Another thing I've been doing a lot of is worry about Gus. Hot weather is never good for him but it's not all that hot yet. He pants a lot, struggles a little more to get up than he used to and doesn't always want to eat, at least not right away. We talk to him first, and then he'll eat. When he's having a harder day, I give him some extra pain meds but I have to wonder, at what point will we be unable to manage his pain.

Like all of the dogs we have been lucky enough to love, we are doing our best to listen to what Gus wants. Right now that seems like a cool place to lay down and to be petted when he wants it. I hope that's enough for at least a while more.


Woo! Concrete!
Joe Trash's concrete guy just pulled up and they're ready to lay it down. That means by the end of the day, we'll have a brand-new patio drying in the sun, waiting for us to purchase some Patty O'Furniture to sit on and enjoy the view.

It also means that today is Joe Trash's last day in our yard. Though I'm insanely grateful for how damn much better our yard looks, how excellent it is that the uglyass shed is gone, I'm still ready to have our yard free of extra people and more importantly, to have the dogs regain their unfettered access to the backyard so I don't have to let them out the front to do their business. At least we're doing all this while I'm home so we don't have to shell out extra cash to board them for the day.

Okay, this post is so exciting it's putting me to sleep.


Well, Here We Are

Today's doctor visit was more eventful than usual. The good news? I'm negative for Group Beta Strep, which means that I don't (necessarily) have to get an IV hooked up when we arrive at the hospital. That's huge because I'm doing my best to avoid needles during the delivery.

It also looks like the wee one is on track to arrive right around her due date, despite my hopes otherwise. I arrived on my due date so it makes sense that this would be the case for my kid but still....

I don't quite get how the kid can get any bigger but the doc says I'll be surprised at how they can keep on growing. I'd rather not be surprised that way.

However, it's sort of freeing to know with some degree of certainty that we still have a little more time. Because though the nesting is kicking in, I'm too tired to do the kind of mass cleaning I'd like to be doing. With a couple more weeks to go, it's good to know that I can keep to this pace and probably get to where we need to be in terms of cleanliness by the time I'm ready for the birthing slippers.

That's the news from here. That, and an unexpected reminder that Laverne & Shirley really went downhill after they moved to LA. Oh yeah, and who knew, but the Safeway is well-stocked in the afternoons! I found all the snacks on my list plus some real food. Livin' large, I am.


Today's Lesson

If you never get dressed, you're all set for napping later in the day. This is especially important when you're completely exhausted from not sleeping at all the night before.

Not that I know...


The Dreams

When I finally got back to sleep this morning (I'm up in the middle of the night just about every day now, apparently that's normal for this part of pregnancy) I had this crazyass dream where we adopted not one, but two newborns within the span of a week and I was still pregnant.

Yeah, somehow, we had 2 kids and one on the way, plus a set of birthparents who kept coming over to see the child they'd placed with us.

I woke up totally exhausted at the thought of having 3 babies. Maybe I should take a nap now.

Hot Doggie Action

And more Joe Trash. Joe and his crew spent the weekend working on the yard. The shed is totally gone, the framework for the new patch o' cement has been laid and the patio roof has been primed. Woo!

We were trying in vain to pick a color to paint the roof but when we saw the white primer we thought, ahh, white! So white it stays.

I've officially hit that point in the pregnancy where the question people ask has become 'haven't you popped that baby out yet?'

As if babies are popped out and as if I'd be walking around wherever we are if I had just given birth. I'd better add that to my list of things to get used to people saying. That, and a renewed interest in the dispensing of assvice. I must remember that the best way to respond, despite my strongest instincts to explain why we'd already considered whatever it is, is to just shut the hell up. That, or say 'what do you think we should do?' 'oh, we'll do that then!'

Today I took Rainie and Patrick to the vet for annual checkups and vaccines. Patrick whined the entire way to the vet and the whole time we were there, with intermittent barking. Both of them checked out fine and got vaccines that didn't have Lepto in it, since that seemed to cause reactions in the both of them last time (Rainie's face swelled up and Patrick got a lump at the injection site). They're also going to need a dental sometime in the next few months. They both seem fine now, if a bit pooped from the adventure.

Gus hasn't been feeling all that hot lately, though. He's panting like it's mid-summer and limping a little more than usual. He also has yet another tumor, this one on his front leg. We're going to give him extra pain meds when he's having a bad day and see how that treats him.


Not Much Going On

Since the shed was removed yesterday and the insulation that had blocked our back window is gone, our room is a crapload brighter. I went to OSH looking for a new crapass blind for it but was denied. Not because they don't have them, no, but because they no longer cut them to size. Uh, what's the point there?

Joe Trash took our backyard down an inch, so it's now ready for a sea of mulch and - Andrea's latest brainchild - a patch of concrete outside of our window so our newfound patio can extend to the fence. And um, so there's less non-concrete to maintain. Which rocks because we really suck at yardwork.

Mr. Trash is going to scrape the two-toned peeling paint off the supports and roof out there so all we have to do is pick a color and paint. Insta-patio!

I heart Joe Trash.

I do not heart returning shit at Target. 'Yes, I see that this came off your registry, but without a reciept, you can only get the same thing.' Hi, see, we got two of these so another one is the last thing I need. It took 3 employees and me remaining calm but eventually, I emerged victorious with a gift card in my hand.

The rest of my day was spent letting the dogs in and out of the front yard, which confuses the shit out of them. I'll be glad when Joe Trash ends his reign of excellence and demoliton in our backyard and the kids can get back to their usual haunts.

Now if only I could buy a blind that fits our window...


Snail Bait: 0, Zeus:1

Joe Trash is back today, ripping out the ugly moldy shed from the back of our house. So I'm home with the dogs, letting them out front to do their bidness as needed. I sat out there with them, and didn't think too much of Zeus eating something on the porch, because well, Zeus is often eating something.

I go to lunch, come back, and let them out again. Only this time I pay attention to what Z is eating. Fuck. It's snail bait. Fuck.

Which means that he's had two courses of the stuff. One that had 2 hours to work, one that had less time. Fuck.

I called the number for national poison control. That shit can kill kids, she said to call our vet. Sigh. The vet told us to rush him in. I took my time leaving because being this pregnant just requires that.

We get to Adobe, he's ushered into an exam room, where he takes a huge poop on the floor. Then we go to the same ICU cage where he spent that week last year. He's given the stuff that makes even stubborn beagles puke. Then we wait.

He pukes twice, then while he's a bit groggy, they trim his nails. The doctor comes in and says he really doesn't think this dog ate snail bait because he would've been twitchy by now.

Right, except I watched him do it. And he's Zeus. Of course he's fine now. Hell, he prolly was all along.


Not Much Going On
Here's the thing about maternity leave: it's all good but there's not much to say about it. I did finally hear from the third party company that handles disability claims for my work and I'm all set up, except of course that when they say "1 week waiting period" before my short term disability (yes, STD) they actually mean 7 business days. When does 1 week EVER equal 7 business days?

Sigh. I'm also here resting after I do like one thing every day and fielding bullshit calls from telemarketers. I'm not sure what the point of the do not call list is if these idiots still call, though the last guy was selling mortgages as a "courtesy call."

We had my 36 week OB visit and all is well with the kiddo. So for now, it's just me, the dogs, what's getting to be a very large baby Brunswick and the DVDs of Six Feet Under. Not a bad way to get ready for parenthood.


Day One Of Leave
I'm well aware that the next few weeks, should I actually get to use them all, will be the last chance I have for a looooong time to do the things I like to do while home during the week: read while eating by myself (unlike all of the people eating solo around me, all of whom seem utterly compelled to talk relentlessly on their cell phones, calling person after person just to try and catch a willing ear), see movies by myself (though I understand that the camera downtown has diaper daze, where you can bring your wee ones to the flick, rest assured that my ass and the sprung-from-my-body baby zass will be there soon enough) running random errands at my own pace, napping. All of those will cease to be options once this kid arrives so I'm doing my best to enjoy the time that I do have.

Until a really strong (FAKE, thanks, don't worry) contraction made me step backwards and breathe funny right there in the bottle aisle of babies r us. It was followed by another couple that were a lot less interesting, and then nothing. But wow, thanks for stopping by.

That made me head home to lay down and drink a lot of water (which made them stop, again, DON'T WORRY, I AM NOT IN LABOR YET!!). I was kinda bored, watching the episode of Blowout that I'd been saving for myself because that guy is so crazy about himself I wanted to enjoy every moment. The house phone rang and I was just bored enough to answer it. That time, it was some guy selling meat delivery service so to shut him up I fibbed a little and said we were "mostly vegetarian," a phrase that Susan often uses as a kind way of saying "Hey everyone else, I'm leaving more of this EXCELLENT beef that Bill made for you to eat," a phrase that makes me say "Thank YOU for making that claim if it means I get one more BIlly Beef taco." I went on to tell Mr. Meats on Commission that we don't cook meat at home. Which is totally true, since we don't cook at home at all.

I'm here surfing my little message boards and noticing that a whole bunch of May arrivals have already arrived. I've had a long talk with our Brunswick about this and have promised her that it's really better if she holds off until May. I'll let you know how that goes. Until then, my ass will be doing things with my maternity leave.

Every Day
I really don't know what to expect from my body when I wake up in the morning now. Will I be greeted by unwelcome extra fluids, will someplace new hurt, will I actually feel okay for a while, will something new be swollen? I do feel decidedly more pregnant with every new day, it seems like the wee one grows a crapload every night, even though I'm hardly sleeping enough to give her a chance to do so.

The Brunswick spent the weekend moving around A LOT, including attempting to push my already very low riding shorts off multiple times. No matter how many times I anked Andrea to tell her daughter that I simply would not remove my pants for her comfort, the Brunswick continued her enthusiastic pushing against the restrictions of my clothes. That was new. I also had a goodly number of fake contractions, none at regular enough intervals to get excited about. I imagine that number will just continue to increase until The Big Day, whenever that will be.

Today (really, tomorrow, since I'm trying to stay up late in hopes of getting some good sleep by starting the adventure later) marks my first day on leave and given the variety of aches and pains I'm having, not to mention the sheer number of times a day I find myself heading to the bathroom, it couldn't come sooner. I have grand plans, to take myself to the movies, to exchange some baby items at the store, perhaps, to nap.

But who knows how I'll feel about doing all of that once I wake up tomorrow, just depends on how I'm feeling. At least now I don't have to pretend to work and feel that way at the same time.

I'd better sign off, the kid is trying to push off my pjs.


Fuck Yeah!

One Year Later
Hard to believe that a year ago this week, our fair Zeus attempted suicide. That was a hellish week, it cost us a lot of money (don't ask how much) and caused us sooo much worry. But on that Thursday, he walked for me and the next Monday he came home and started hippity-hopping around for food like always.

The man remains, well, a little different than the other dogs, and a lot different than the other beagles we've loved. But he's our guy and even though his barking has become, well, a little more insistent and random than before, he's still mostly the same a year after almost dying.

The vet's office still marvels at him when he's in, they've never seen a dog so old, so sick, come back so well.

But then again, they don't know our Zeus. He's unsinkable.

Seal: Broken
I'd made it this far without actually being asked this question: who's the father?

We've had variations of it:

  • "I didn't know there was someone special in your life" (this from someone who's ONLY known me with Andrea for a number of years now)
  • "I didn't know you were married"
  • "Will the baby have an 'uncle'? (later translated this to mean 'do you have a known donor who will give the kid gifts at holidays?')
  • How the hell did you do that?
But never this one. Sigh, we were doing so well.

From what I understand, after she's here, we may well be exposed to a flurry of comments about 'does her dad have those eyes?' or crap like that. Though I brace myself for it now, I'm sure that every freaking time, I will bristle.

And I can't help but wonder if my mom had the same reaction when I was a kid, a kid who looked pretty darn different than her.

Today is my last day of work before I go on leave. It's like the last day of school before summer vacation, which is way different than the last day at a job where I've quit or been laid off. Those days are just sad (or full of glee, as was the day I left the Horrid Company where I first met Bubbles, you couldn't get me out the door fast enough!).

But this day. Ahh no. I'm leaving a job I like (even if Carol's not here anymore, I still like it), a job I've done pretty well at over the last couple of years, to go and do the most amazing thing ever. And then I'll be back, after a summer at home with my good-looking kid.

Not a bad way to spend the summer, I'd say.


Now that I've had a whole day to decompress, I'm still SO amazed that when you have a baby, milk comes out of your boobs. That was such news to me.

Still glad we gave up 3 hours to learn that. And hear a horror story about a dead baby.

No, I'm not kidding. She talked about a dead baby. In a room full of pregnant women. In front of Andrea and I, who in the last few years, have had friends lose a total of 7 babies. 7. Do you think for a day of this pregnancy that some thoughts of those little lives didn't creep into our minds, that we're not making some decisions about what we do with this pregnancy and birth based on the horrific and sad things our friends went through?

We most certainly are and I did NOT need to be reminded about that topic by a woman who was almost flippant about it.

Ya know, the more I think about it and the more we talk about, I'm pretty sure we're going to cancel next week's class. If we don't know how to care for a baby by this point, after 2 years of doing much of everything for the girls, with an expert mom watching us, then I'm pretty sure we're screwed anyway.


I Should Add
That during the class, the 'dads' had to get up and try their hand at shusshing a fake baby doll (ours had a head that completely spun around like the exorcist, yes of course we checked). Andrea was a pro at this already, thanks to her quiet mastery of getting Riley down to sleep over the last 2 years, she knew all the positions before the woman even said them and our Satan baby doll seemed very happy.

Nice work, honey! You are a Master Shushher!

No Way
Last night we went to a breastfeeding class where we learned some really stunning facts: I'm summarizing and over dramatizing the things that were said, but those are my takeaways. Since I was already aware of them, I'm not sure I got very much out of the class.

I was hoping to learn more about the basics, like how to get the kid to latch, how to prevent painful things from going on, how to work the breast pump, useful crap like that.

Nope, it was a 3 hour ad for breastfeeding. Now, seriously, if we didn't think it was a good idea, would we have shelled out for the class or given up a Tuesday night to take it? NO. We would have had a nice dinner, then parked ourselves in our very comfortable bed right afterwards, surrounded by our four-legged friends after stocking up on rat poison formula.

I know that it was more beneficial for Andrea than it was for me. She kept reminding me that the woman is an L&D nurse at our hospital, so it would behoove us to be nice to her. I'd smile for a second, laugh at the woman's next joke, then go back to zoning while listening for snippets of relevant information.

We did learn that at our hospital they don't give you blankets to take the kid home in (makes sense, I'd just not thought of it) and that the wipes there are not wet (huh? what's the point?) and one bit of valuable actual breastfeeding info: that the kid gives cues that she's hungry by licking her lips, by trying to put something in her mouth and that you can tell she's latched properly if she's taking long sucks. All of which we learned from a video that she showed.

I would have rather just seen the video and be done with it. But lucky us, we're going back next week to learn infant care basics from the same woman. I hope that isn't a 3 hour ad for babies, because we're already pretty sold on the concept.

I'm also glad that we didn't end up taking the childbirth class with her. I think I would have walked out. When we said we'd taken Hypnobirthing, she was impressed and said that it totally works. She also asked if we were from Santa Cruz. Nope, I thought, we're just those sandal-wearing Hypnobirthing dykes from the ghetto down the street.

And could you at least TRY to not just say "dad" all the goddamn time, when one of the 6 couples in front of you has two moms?


Wondering Where That Was?
It was only this morning, but I can't remember how this started. Somehow, Bubbles and I have found our way to the World's Largest Roadside Attractions and it's sister site: Large Canadian Roadside Attractions - Trans-Canada Highway.

Not only are our nation's (and Canada's) fine highways and side roads filled with excellency, I am grateful that the Internet is here to document this excellency and that I have access to it. Because seeing it all makes me want to plan a trip around the World's Largest Curling Stone, the World's Largest Field of Corn (which is actually about 15 minutes from where I grew up so next time we're in Ohio, look for pics of us with the corn!) and Lou T. Fisk, the World's Largest Lutefisk!

More About Kielbasa
I called my mom this morning and she was standing in line at the local Polish grocery store, waiting to buy kielbasa (and not the kind you find at Safeway, oh no, this is the Real Thing, which inspires all, lesser kielbasas throughout the world). Just hearing that she had an armload of tasty meat products (I think she was buying a variety of meats, but after I heard kielbasa, there was nothing left to hear, I was bound by the word 'kielbasa' flowing over and over through my head. In fact, it was so effective at removing me from everything else I should have been concentrating on, like driving, that I think I'll use 'kielbasa' as a mantra while giving birth.) was enough to throw me into a kielbasa-crazed frenzy.

Well, maybe not. It was more like 'oh, mom, quit taunting the pregnant woman with tasty meats!!!'

Her response? Don't you forget, you've got some Polish in you, too.

How could I possibly forget? Just the same, our kid will grow up eating the foods of all of her heritage -- dim sum AND kielbasa. It doesn't get much better than that.

Oh Zeus
Yesterday, work sent us to see a movie. I'm not quite sure why but when given the chance to go to the movies or work, especially during my last week before maternity leave, well, what would you do?

So I went, and afterwards worked from home. Parked in our fabulous glider, propped up with a pillow, using a TV tray as a desk, it wasn't so bad, really. That TV tray isn't too much smaller than the desk I have at work these days (no, really). I was munching happily on a steady stream of snack items (including the Pashka that my mom had shipped to us last week (apparently Pashka is prepared by women only: "The master of the house was not permitted to take part of preparing the “paska”, otherwise his moustache would go grey and the dough would fail.") Most years, mom has only sent a 1/2 of one since that's all we needed, even though it's absolutely the Best Bread Ever. But this year, I'm more than halfway done with this one and have requested another. What can I say? The baby needs to know about her Polish heritage! (I will not, at this time, discuss the many excellent Pashkas my grandma made over the years or the love of kielbasa that she so kindly passed on to me, I will only remain forever grateful for the memories and the appreciation for fine meats.)

Anyway, there I was, minding my own business, snacking like a good pregnant girl. Three out of the four dogs were being very nice but Zeus, oh Zeus. That boy wanted my pashka SO BAD, he was sitting at my side, quietly whining, tippity-tapping, then whining some more. I looked at him earnestly and said 'hey pal, if you don't cut that out, you'll need to go in a crate.' I know you're shocked, it didn't work. So I put him in a crate.

When he was younger, and less deaf, he'd quickly get what the deal was about being in a crate and give himself a pack of Shut The Hell Up gum. But like the days of pashka at Grandma's house, those days are gone and our man barked his incessant seal bark until I let him out.

Just in time for him to sit, whine, and hippity hop at my side until Joe Trash came by looking for a check for all his work. I stood on the porch talking to him and when I returned, it took me a second to notice that the BRAND NEW BAG of goldfish I'd moved onto were gone.

Fuck. In the backyard were Zeus and Rainie and not a single goldfish. I think it took them less than 5 minutes to eat most of a bag.

I brought them both back inside and this time, when Zeus went on doggie time-out, he knew he'd been bad and was quiet. Of course, he also had a very full belly.

Hard to believe that a year ago, that guy was fighting for his life. Now he's doing what he's supposed to -- fighting for goldfish. But the pashka? That's all mine, pal.


This weekend it became clear that sitting on a chair at a table that is a fixed-width away from the chair is no longer a good idea. I have to lean in to eat, and then the baby gets all annoyed because the edge of the table is poking her wee ass.

Did I Just Run A Marathon?
After Friday's Huge Baby Scare and subsequent great relief, we decided to blow off some steam, to have a last hurrah and go to Santa Cruz. So when I saw someone selling a used Bumbo Seat for a good price, we thought why not make a day of it?

After Joe Trash's sudden appearance on our doorstep at 10:30, we had to scramble to drop the dogs off at Spots for the day (no medicine required, so I felt okay about leaving them there), then get something to eat and head down. It was the first time I'd driven Betty over the hill and man, I am still so in love with that car. I tell you what, she's a fine machine.

On the way down, AMYFRITZ! called to tell us That Ted had proposed!! We screeched for like 5 minutes, then screeched some more. WOOO HOOOO!!!

After screeching ourselves hoarse at Amy's FABULOUS news, we picked up the bumbo seat and headed into downtown Santa Cruz to have our Last Hurrah excursion before we have this baby. This translated into walking around, searching for public bathrooms via a series of signs that led nowhere (certainly not to a place where I could pee), and shopping in some cute stores.

Sadly, it also completely wiped me out. I got home that night feeling like I'd just ran a marathon, or, since I've never run a marathon, feeling like I'd just played all 5 games in a tournament.

Yesterday, I played in my final (for a while) concert and that, too, felt like playing all 5 games. Good fans of the Cupertino Symphonic Band, I apologize for my performance. I just dialed it in and even skipped a bunch of notes because breathing, it is so hard. My excuse is good - there's an ass in my lungs - but still. I wish I could have done better.

Gus must have pulled something in his back or neck during their adventures at Spots (or, just as likely, getting out of Andrea's tall car on the way there) because he didn't want to get up yesterday. He couldn't eat his breakfast off of his raised Gus meal stand. I came out of our room to see Andrea on the floor, holding his bowl at the only height that worked for him.

Sigh. We gave him extra pain meds and he settled himself in the big crate. I tucked him in with his octopus, star with a mohawk and his giraffe. Then we let him be. When we got home last night, I was THRILLED to hear his clop-clopping around the living room as he greeted us. He was limping a little, but on the mend.

This morning, he was up and about, prolly at 80% strength, walking in circles around the kitchen for m. I'll take that, I'm not picky.

And me? I'm still completely exhausted, despite having slept. But the baby's fine, Gus is mostly fine and we have a bumbo seat. And AMYFRITZ! is engaged!!!


Well, That Was Fun
Earlier today, the baby decided to do a huge jump. Startled the crap out of me, it was so big I threatened to call the cops to see what was going on in there.

And then, nothing.

No bouncing, no thumping, no hiccups. Nada. No amount of poking on my part, no loud coughing, no playing Nine Inch Nails through my headphones right on her head inspired movement. Nothing.

I know that babies sleep in utero, we've had many a period of sleep/wake. But none of those sleep periods came right after a huge movement, the likes of which could have quite possibly caused the thing that scares me the most about this pregnany: a cord accident.

Yes, we're more aware of this particular thing than a lot of people -- we've had some friends lose full-term babies due to this and though I recognize that the chances of this happening to our Brunswick are small, I'm still hyper-aware of it.

So after a few minutes of responseless poking and prodding, I headed home with a quickness to fire up the doppler and check for a heartbeat. The purpose of this was twofold: 1. obviously, to make sure her wee heart is still doing its thang and 2. to wake her the hell up, since the doppler has quite consistently annoyed her quite a bit.

But not this time. Andrea and I used 3 doses of gel trying to find a heartbeat, to no avail. Not even a hint of one. We put the thing over my heart to make sure the doppler was working, yep. Picked mine up right away.

That was it, we were going to the hospital. I'm not going to fuck around with this sort of thing, not going to wait until el baby decides to wake up, not when something could be wrong.

So we went pell-mell to our local hospital (not the one where we're planning to deliver) where Andrea dropped me at the ER while she parked. I hadn't realized that the place is Catholic, and is decorated with statues of the Virgina Mary and of saints. This sort of creeped Andrea out but I found it comforting to see the icons I know so well from growing up Catholic while we drove in, trying not to panic or cry.

And I didn't cry, at least not until I was standing at the ER desk, explaining my situation. I spoke calmly, in a quiet voice, until she asked how far along I am. And then I lost it, quietly sobbing out 34 weeks, 5 days.

She got me a wheelchair, then I waited for Andrea to arrive and for my driver to take me to L&D. Seemed like that all took forever, just to get going. I needed to know, was this baby okay?

Finally, Andrea arrived, my chair pusher arrived and we were on our way, though long hallways filled with pictures of nuns and more saint statues, my hand resting on my belly hoping to feel her move. But she didn't.

We made it to L&D and were greeted by a surly OB tech who kind of barked at us, asked if I was married. I couldn't think of the words, I was too busy trying not to cry and trying not to scream at them to hurry the hell up and hook me up to whatever would let us all know that the baby is okay. Andrea piped up and said domestic partner, then filled out the longest admission form ever.

All of this probably took 30 minutes but I assure you, that was the longest 30 minutes of my life.

Finally, a nice nurse wheeled me into a triage room, handed me a cup and asked me to give a sample. I practically ran into the bathroom, knowing that the sooner I gave up the goods, the sooner we'd know if the baby was okay.

After that, it was time to hook me up to the fetal and contraction monitors. I laid down and she hooked up the machines. I understood in that instant how quickly my ideas about a drug-free birth could go out the window and also realized that I really wouldn't care, not if there was ANY risk to this kid.

It took the nurse just a wee bit of time to find the baby's heartbeat, I think that was the longest part of the whole ordeal. When we finally heard it, I cried and Andrea patted my hand.

We sat there for 20 minutes with me hooked up to the machines, listening to the variance in our wee one's heartbeat. The nurse brought me some juice to drink and the sugar from that stirred her up, got her a-dancing in there. The heartrate went up, so did my stomach. And each time, I was grateful to see it.

In the end, all is well and we got some new hints on waking her up (juice/sugar) and a guideline for when to be concerned. That said, I knew most of it beforehand, it was just the huge jump followed by the lack of movement that scared me so. If that happened again, I'd do exactly the same thing. Including the crying and the praying.

But she's okay and now we know the way to L&D at the closer hospital, hopefully we won't ever have to use that knowledge again.

I had this idea that the closer hospital was as small as the one we plan to deliver in, but it's really quite large and has a dramatically different atmosphere. Our hospital is all about the mother, I can labor any way I choose, I direct (as much as medically possible) what goes on. The closer place was a lot more medicalized, I got the sense that HypnoBirthing would be laughed at there and that most of our wishes would be ignored in lieu of what the staff is used to doing. Not that a medicalized birth is a bad thing, it's just not what we're hoping to do so it makes sense to drive a little farther to make sure we have the best chance at it.

And that was our afternoon. I hope to never have another like it again.

Everyone Needs One Of These
The Toot Tone converts fart sounds into ringtones. Rest assured, if I had one of these, my phone would be ringing ALL DAY.

Andrea decided to play poker with the kids at work (who am I to deny access to the flop or the river card?) so I headed over to visit the babies and enjoy a second round of the most excellent burgers EVER (thank you, Bill, for yet another dose of culinary excellence). At one point, the girls and I were scrolling through all the pictures on my sidekick. I admit that there's a certain pleasure in hearing them say 'MO!' every time they see a picture of Andrea.

So we're scrolling along, minding our own business, when we come across this picture of Gus. The girls both start saying something that sounds like Mo, and I say, no, that's not Mo. But Susan figured it out.

They were saying 'moo'. Because they thought Gus was a cow.

Gus would like me to remind the general public that he is, in fact, not a cow, but for the right amount of tasty snacks, you could refer to him as any kind of animal you'd like to.


With Guns!
A number (getting to be kind of a large number, now that I think of it) of years ago, Amy gave me a magnet featuring Sonny and Cher -- with guns! It's been proudly displayed in my home ever since, wherever that home was, of course it's on my fridge right now, as we speak.

When Amy presented this piece of magnificence to me, she said "It's Sonny and Cher! With guns!" so pretty much every time I've heard the phrase "Sonny and Cher" over the years, I've come to think "with guns!"

Recently on Lost, there's been MUCH talk about guns and I'm pleased to report that each and every time they say something about the guns, I either think or say (or think and say) "Sonny and Cher! With Guns!" then think fondly of my Magnet of Excellence.

Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. Amy, you give Fine Gifts. With Guns!

Not Much To Report
My friends at band had almost nothing to offer last night. No gems of wisdom, no weird comments about what the baby might be up to, no extended touching of my belly. It was almost disappointing, but really, it was a relief.

I have only this to offer: "Wow, you FINALLY look pregnant!"

I have no idea what that means, but thanks.


The More I Read...
I'm dutifully reading the Hypnobirthing book these days, adding to our growing repository of knowledge on the topic. I accept in advance that we're not obligated to agree with every technique listed there, or with every statement.

Including this one: "When you think back to the ambiance of the lovemaking that resulted in your conceiving this baby, consider having that same ambiance at birth..."

Um, yeah. The day we conceived this baby, it was at a very crowded sperm bank with a waiting room so full Andrea waited in the hallway while a seeing eye dog sat on my foot. After the procedure, they were so crowded we didn't even have time to cuddle, we just got up and left.

I think going into this knowing that's the day her little life began makes it a lot easier to not get worked up if the birth doesn't go exactly like we visualize.

I Think This Was A Craving
Earlier today, Melinda innocently emailed me about something she'd seen on TV while having lunch at a little joint called Grinders. I've eaten there with her a number of times and can attest to the fact that, like many Midwestern joints, they know how to get good meats and how to serve them properly.

Since I was trying to figure out what to have for lunch, the timing couldn't have been worse. Instantly, I wanted a gigantic roast beef sandwich from Grinders (a mere 2500 miles away), but knowing I couldn't have that, I began to think in earnest of the other great delis in my life and of course, the only other thing that came to mind was Katzinger's, which is also in Columbus and makes THE BEST reuben you can ever eat.

I lamented the fact that there is a lack of really good delis out here (if I'm wrong, please feel free to correct me, and send me to a tasty deli in the San Joser area) and headed out for an unsatisfying burrito.

Because Wen Gwen Nguyen Did It
I made my own little countries visited map:
create your own visited countries map

It's funny in a way. I never would have gone to China or Australia if not for Andrea's far-flung family. I would have gone to Europe which would have been way closer to my comfort zone than China was but at least now I can say I've been somewhere that not a lot of Entertaining Crackers like myself have gone.

That does NOT mean that I'll ever go back if it can be prevented.

Birthing Bob Loblaw
Not only is there a $300 BILLION baby industry, there is an accompanying "birthing" industry. This industry sells things like birthing balls (which are just regular excersize balls, birthing stools and a host of other birth-related products, often at sort of ridiculously high prices.

For months we've joked about this. I even bought $2 birthing slippers (that can be left at the hospital if, you know, for any reason they get gross) that are now packed into my birthing bag, which contains a variety of post-birthing clothing and stuff. It now also contains the Birthing Granola Bars that Andrea bought on last nights way-too-exciting Safeway visits after I said quite loudly 'hey don't you need some Birthing Bars?'

We're funny to each other, if nothing else. I never dreamed I'd be so lucky as to share my life with someone who laughs so much and even falls for it when I say 'hey' and then fart when she says 'what?'

Bring on the birthing bidet!

At the Safeway last night, I was overcome by the urge to buy sweets and snacks. All kinds, not anything specific, just SNACKS SNACKS SNACKS! So there I was, digging around in the ice cream looking for the oh-so-elusive Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, which never did appear. Some horrid song came on the loudspeaker and Andrea goes 'man, this is some shit music' (or something like that, I didn't have my court stenographer hat on at the time, I was busy looking for ice cream) and with a totally straight face, I turned around and said:

"What do you mean? I requested this song."

She almost fell for it for a second, no doubt imagining the logistics involved in requesting a song at the grocery store. Then she smacked me and laughed and we left with $92 worth of snack items (and Other Stuff).


Unprecedented Levels Of Movement
Last night the baby decided to just go apeshit for most of the night, flipping, showing us her back, giving us the ass, then, when we touched her butt, swimming away with great quickness. She's never responded quite like that and apparently she was as amused as we were with the whole thing and kept it up for hours.

I woke up today feeling completely exhausted, even though I'd slept better than some recent nights. So exhausted that when I got up and started to get dressed, it was soon clear that the only thing I had the energy to do was go back to bed. So I did, and now I'm working from home, where my lunch hour included another nap.

I've also watched the baby do her damndest to kick toast off my belly. It's much better than Cats, I hope I'll see it again and again.

But damn, I'm still *really* tired.


For the record, I must state that Sugar Corn Pops and Honey Smacks are vastly under-represented in the big packs of little cereal boxes I've been getting. Now I'm awash in Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks (blech), longing wistfully for just a hint o' Smacks or Pops. (If I could sustain interest in any food these days, I most certainly would have bought a regular-sized box of either, but nope, that is not my fate).

Counting Down
My maternity leave starts a week from Friday, 4 weeks ahead of my due date. Why? Because the state gives you this time, if you don't take it, you don't get it. And because the act of getting to work grows a little more challenging every day. So I'm taking it.

About this time, I got this question from a co-worker: what are you going to do with your time while you're out?

Answer: not work. Beyond that, I have dreams of 4 weeks of seeing movies in the afternoons, visiting the babies many many times and finalizing our baby's room. But who knows, I may wind up watching TV and enjoying these last moments to myself. Either way, it's all good. And it's not work.

I've Heard of This, But...
That many, most kids enjoy kicking and punching while in utero, that the parents are treated to little limbs emerging from the mom's belly like wee alien growths.

But we don't really know much about that. No, our kid has been renamed Ms. FlippityFlop because the movement she prefers is merely great bouts of rolling about. For a day or so, she'll be in a good position, head down, taking up as much vertical space as possible ready to go, and I'll think, okay, here we go, she's ready (yes, I'm well aware that this normally happens around 36 weeks and I shouldn't be too concerned yet) but then the next day, she gets her groove on and goes back to wherever the hell she wants.

Soon it will be time to have some very granola Hypnobirthing talks with her about her location in my womb but I figure if she's having so damn much fun with her big movements, I'll give her a little time yet.

But get this. It's April. This is the last month where we're not someone's parents. Ever.