7.31.2006

That Smarts
Remember these friends? The ones who have completely and totally blown us off after a few years of being pretty good friends? Well, we still don't know what we did wrong and at this point, it's clear that they've moved on, past any attempt to put things right at all.

Fine. Well, not fine. That sucks but there's really nothing I can do about that. Even though sometimes, I miss hanging out with them.

Today we saw them at a mutual friend's party. We knew they were planning to attend but kinda hoped to avoid them, lest there be Awkwardness. When we rolled up, I saw their car and sighed, wondering how this would go.

Well, I needn't have worried. Because they saw us, walked towards us as if they were going to say hi, then turned at the last minute and went to talk to someone else. They didn't even stop to ask anything about Val or pay her any mind.

I'll come (sort of) clean about who they are, because it seems relevant to the last part of our interaction. They are the folks who were supposed to throw our baby shower. Long before we got pregnant, they were planning where to have it and the theme to use. The only reason we found out they were done with us as friends (I can't even say 'mad' because I really don't know what the deal is) is that they backed out of hosting it by telling someone else, not even us directly.

So we saw them today and they walked on by. Best of luck to you but I can't even pretend that the way you've treated us doesn't smart.

7.30.2006

Whoop, There It Is
In a vain attempt to at least sort of keep the more in-depth mundane parts of our life with Val separate from the World of Excitement that is LizSpeaks, I've been putting more entries over on Val's blog. So if you wanna know what's going on with her, click on over there.

But for some more generic child-related stuff, here goes. The doctor's appointment wasn't as traumatic as it could have been for us. Yes, Val screamed at the shots, yes, I cried when she screamed, but we all survived. And we remain confident in our decision to vaccinate her according to the standard schedule.

What else is going on? Well, I found some bathing suits on sale for both me and Val. So we are committed to taking her swimming on a regular basis. Because it's fun, not because she's going to learn to be a lifeguard right now.

Hockey makes me super-tired. Every game I play makes me feel like I've just played a 5 game tournament. But I'm still thrilled to be back on the ice, even if my game is still catching up to what it once was. It'll get back someday. In the meantime, I'm having more fun out there than ever. Because I missed it like crazy while I was out.

My parents are coming to visit Val this week and for once, there are no concrete plans for their trip. Talk about throwing caution to the wind.

I'm starting to really grasp the vast differences in parenting styles among people we talk to. It's like anything else, I suppose, take what applies to you (if anything) and discard the rest. This works great with most of our close friends (Susan could easily have been really insistent on many topics related to childrearing, since we see her and the girls so much but for about 99% of the time, she just lets us be, offering advice only when asked. Now that we've been at this parenting thing for a wee while, I get it that that's an extremely rare thing, for which I'm extremely grateful) who don't get all up in our grill about things.

But people we don't know as well and a stunning number of people who do not have children have been surprising in the amount of assvice or weird statements made to us. I don't want to single anyone out or make anyone feel bad, so I'll try to summarize the more humorous comments:

  • Something about how parents who don't dress their kids in coordinating outfits should be ashamed of themselves. This person backpedaled when I bristled at this, since Val has a wide variety of clothing, much of which (when there are 2 pieces) is mixed and matched. I see kids who are all gussied up in fancypants outfits and I think, nope, sorry Val, that won't be your babyhood. You have the same kind of plain-ish clothes we wear.
  • People who focus on dissecting which parts of Val's appearance come from the donor.
  • Along those lines, references to 'daddy' or her 'father'
  • Along those lines, references to Andrea as 'daddy'
  • Along those lines, references to 'daddy,' paired with statements like 'I can say this... (blah about Val's donor)' with the implied because being because we're SUCH good friends.

    About the last three, I say only this. If we were that good of friends, you'd know for real that none of those things are appropriate. I can't help but wonder if when I was a baby people asked my mom about my genetics, about how my looks could be attributed to my birthparents or if they did the polite thing and just admired the baby?

    Because yes, we talked about the donor when we were trying. This is my own fault for disclosing too much back then, it bites me in the ass now with those who are way too curious.

    I don't know how else to put this -- it's not like we've forgotten how she was conceived but now that she's here, we've put it aside and are focused only on our life as a family. Going forward, I will be more forceful in asking people to respect that.

Okay, that's the ramblings from here. Time to get my ass to bed.

7.27.2006

It Has To Be Done

We're on our way to Val's pediatrician appointment, where she's about to get a bunch o shots. She's snoozing happily, oblivious to what's about to happen.

Me? I'm fighting tears, knowing what comes next for my wee baby girl.

7.26.2006

The Coolest Place Ever
I have no idea how the hell Susan ever heard of it but man, am I glad she did. The Silliman Aquatic Center is about the coolest place ever. We went there today with all the girls in tow. It was Val's second time swimming, yesterday was her first. That happened at Sue and Sarah's fine hotel pool, which was empty except for us so it was a great way to see what she thought o' the water.

She's still not sure what she thinks but she's not totally freaked out by it so I'll take that as a good sign and go from there.

The place is super duper cheap to get in -- $6 for adults and free for wee kids (3 and under, I think). It's clean and has tons of wet stuff for kids (and grownups) to do. It's quite similar to the Sydney Aquatic Center, where I swam last fall, in that it has a badass play area for the kids. Except that it's a little closer than Australia.

I was swimming with Val (okay, walking around in the water while holding her and bobbing up and down) when this little girl asked if she could touch my baby. No, I said, you can't. She asked me why and I said because I don't know you. Then she introduced herself as if that would take care of it and still seemed annoyed that I didn't let her touch Val.

I refuse to believe that I am under any obligations to let well-intentioned strangers touch her. Those same people wouldn't touch me so why should they touch her? I just don't get it.

But I digress. All of the girls and their mommies had a terrific time and I cannot wait to go back again, next time with Andreatan in tow so she can swim with our Valamino.

7.25.2006

Because Saying It Will Make It So
I'm thrilled, no, THRILLED to announce that we are doing everything in our power to join the Fabulous AmyFritz! in It'ly for her WEDDING this Christmas!!!

Because someone should throw rice and if rice isn't allowed, someone should throw a ham. I nominate me.

In some ways, travelling that far with Val will be a huge pain in the ass. But I'm pretty sure it will be less of a pain in the ass than it would be if she were walking.

So that leaves a question: how do you deal with car seats when travelling the globe? Do you install it in every cab you get into along the way? Do you need one on a train? And what about food? Do you bring baby food? That seems silly (Val will be 7 months old then and I'm assuming she'll be all about food from jars at that point in addition to the ever-popular custom-made boob juice that she enjoys now) but what if the Foreign Country doesn't have foods we recognize for her? Will I have lost enough weight that I can fit back into my Nice Outfits? So many things to consider.

I welcome all comments/emails on this topic, as well as general suggestions for International Travel With Small Children.

We'll be testing our ability to travel with Val in September with a Disneyland outing that I'm sooo looking forward to. But that's here, in our Home Country, and we'll be driving Andrea's bigass car, which holds a crapload of baby items so it's not as worrysome as International Travel.

And, yes, it's not nearly as exciting as the prospect of being there, in It'ly! for AmyFritz's WEDDING!

Soul-Sucking Heat
This is one Really Special heat wave we have going on here. It's left all of us cranky, holing up in the newfound cool of the living room as much as possible. But even that wasn't enough for wee Val yesterday, the crankiness overcame her and she spent the day in a very rapid rotation of fuss, cry, rage, sleep for 10 minutes, repeat.

It made for a very long day for me. At one point, I simply ran out of the emotional energy required to try and figure out what was going wrong for her and just held her while I sat in weary silence while she cried for what seemed like hours.

Shortly after that, I told Andrea I was at my wit's end. Shortly after that, it was time to go to a dinner party (not as fancy as it sounds) and Val finally calmed down, for the most part. I was thrilled to head out to my hockey game after dinner last night and get a break from her. Then, of course, I couldn't wait to kiss her chubby cheeks when I returned.

Today has been better. She's having a decent nap and I'm making sure to do things for myself, like boot up my laptop and look at the Internet at full size while she's out. She also had The Biggest Poop Of Her Short Life and I'm willing to bet that events leading up to said dookie contributed to her overall fussiness yesterday.

But I know we're not the only ones who will be glad as hell when this heat breaks.

We're Idiots

Val is zonked out, has been for about 3 hours and we're awake, fucking around with our meager collection of fans. Yes, it's hot. Yes, I'm largely miserable in the heat. But it could be worse, I could be hugely pregnant right now.

My streak of commenting to whoever I'm with every time I see a very pregnant woman 'hey look, a super pregnant woman! Who's not me' continues, though Andrea and now Susan are no longer amused.

I got the official 'your good disability is now over' letter today. Now I switch to 'you can barely get by on this' disability, assuming the people who handle these things for my company have done their parts to make that happen. I'm sure I'll straighten it all out but it's a bit stressful to see 'sorry, you're done. Now go back to work, starting last week.'

7.24.2006

I Just Noticed

That the book of rob referred to farts as 'play a little pants tuba.' That has me here making the bed shake by giggling to myself in that slaphappy way I do so well while Andrea and Val snooze on.

I'm also cracking myself up thinking about The World's Largest Apostrophe, which I just noticed at a Mr. Goodwrench car repair place on Geary St in SF. Good thing we went to visit Amy and I noticed that on the way or I'd only have the pants tuba to entertain myself right now.

I won't mention the way I asked Amy to re-enact dropping her brand new camera into the river. She declined but the mere idea of a re-enactment was enough to give me the giggles and a fight to hold back some accompanying pants tuba.

Oh Yeah

Aren't you supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps? I'm pretty sure Dr. Spock would say 'put down the sidekick and go to sleep. You've got a baby to tend to!'

But I'm still here, writing emails that deserve thought and looking at the internet.

7.21.2006

Amazing
The woman from the third party people left a voicemail for me about my disability -- AT WORK. And yeah, she just left that message today, even though I first called her over a month ago.

Harder Than It Ought To Be
This week's Great Stressor has actually been a smallish stressor since the spring, when I first started filing for maternity leave. The company I work for is by and large terrific to their employees (ClearCase notwithstanding). When someone comes to look at your computer, they're usually very considerate, do the job right and when they leave, you get a survey in your inbox about how it all went. Same thing for HR -- they treat us well, respond to issues promptly and have all the information you might need about just about everything.

Except (and you might have guessed this already) maternity leave. For reasons I can't begin to fathom, this is handled by a third-party company that may 'specialize' in such matters. I use the term 'specialize' loosely because well, they suck. I've been trying SINCE MARCH to find out how you switch from short-term disability that pays like my usual salary to a lesser variety provided by the state that pays enough to get by on for 6 weeks and now that I'm at that crossroads, I have no idea what happens next.

The first time I called 3rd Party People (3PP), I got redirected to their main voice mail THREE TIMES because I said I worked for (my company name, who apparently has our own special set of 3PP working on our shit. You'd think that means we'd get special attention or at the very least, someone would be able to help me. But I digress). Finally I had to say wait! don't transfer me back to the phone tree! Who the hell do I talk to about (company name)?

Totally downhill from there. 4 case managers later and here we are at the end of segment 1, ready to switch to 'you'll have to scrape for cash a bit but we can't lay you off' leave and I have no idea 1. when I'll be getting any cash and 2. what, if anything, I need to do to start the flow o' cash. I got a letter in the mail about it which included the phone number of case manager #4. She actually called me back and quite pleasantly said that she couldn't help, she only closed my initial claim, per someone's request. But at least she called.

Apparently only 1 person at 3PP handles this transition and though her voicemail adamantly states that she'll call me back within 24 hours, so far she is full of lies. Damn lies that leave me wondering when, if ever, I'll get the money that's coming to me.

After leaving yet another message with her, I gave up and contacted the good people in my HR department, mentioning my woes and wondering without actually quite saying why the fuck they'd contracted with this company to handle something as important as maternity leave. I had 2 return emails and a follow up phone call within 2 hours. Apparently they'd been aware that the woman I couldn't get ahold of hadn't done whatever it was that needs to be done for my case and were getting ready to escalate it.

That's good, glad someone was paying attention. Not surprising that it was on my company's end and not 3PP's end. Hopefully this will mean that my ass gets paid for sitting on itself, pronto!

Home
We finally went to the vet and got Gus' ashes tonight. I'd almost done it a thousand times over the last couple of weeks but found that I needed Andrea there with me. So I waited until we both could go. It wasn't as emotional as when we picked up Al's or Ellie's. Like everything about Gus, it was fairly sedate.

It just feels good to have even this part of him home with us. But I assure you, there will always be an empty place in our house and in our hearts without the big guy.

7.20.2006

It's been a long, very hot week here at Chez LizSpeaks. Val has been quite irate about the heat, sending her and I out on seriously long walks, seeking out little bits of shade wherever we can.

But today, everything changed when Andrea bought an air conditioner and installed it before Val and I got home from getting my car's oil changed. I teared up when I saw it there on the dining room window, dripping condensation and whispering 'coolness' to me.

So we stayed home, augmented the unit's performance with some fans and Val has actually slept, really slept, for most of the afternoon.

It may be the best money we've ever spent on the house, because it bought us a contented baby.

7.18.2006

It was like 100 degrees here today. I stayed at the mall with Val as long as I could and even there she sweated through her outfit. Eventually there was nothing left to see so we went home to our hot house. Val was okay, not actually happy but not terribly pissed off.

Until the moment it all turned for her and she was PISSED. Crying the voice of rage to all who would listen no matter what I did. So I whipped out our new stroller (which I'd wisely had all set up in her room) and bounded out the door.

We walked for an hour. Did laps around the new park in our hood. She calmed down as long as we were moving, screamed if we weren't. Finally she fell asleep and we headed home to greet Andrea, who saw the sleeping baby and wondered what all the fuss was about.

7.16.2006

Two Months!
Holy shit, Batman, Val is already two months old. A lot has happened in those two months: I gave birth, Val emerged ready to party, we became Moms, we slept less, we patted more, we lost our Gus, we gained a stroller and most importantly, we got to know our wee baby daughter.

Val, you've gone from knowing how to eat and poop to falling in love with the baby in the mirror above your swing and your changing table (aka your bad self). You've gone from sleeping 2-3 hours at a time to sleeping 6 WHOLE HOURS in a row AT NIGHT. For this alone, we are in love with you.

But that's not counting this month's best tricks: honest to God smiles at us and cooing at whatever we're telling you. Those coos. Those smiles. They make a hellish pregnancy and extremely painful birth experience fade away. They also conspire to wipe away all the hurt I've ever felt in my lifetime in one glorious gleeful moment. A glorious gleeful moment that I get to have about 6 times a day right now.

People told me our lives would change when you came and they were right. But those changes (aside from the obvious ones, like there's another person living in our house, like now we have to buy diapers when we go shopping, like there's a cry I could recognize anywhere) are quite a bit different than I'd expected. In short: I'm a shitload more patient than I used to be and a lot less shy.

I know, I know, you read this blog and you think there's no way the author is shy. And a lot of times, I'm not. But in many social situations, especially ones filled with people I don't know, I'd often cling to the few people I knew and not venture forth. But now, and I have no idea why, I do venture forth. And damned if I don't have a good-ass time. I also have more patience for random strangers who want to talk babies, even if they have seriously dumb things to say. More on that later, so stay tuned.

We've also been letting people hold her more. And most of the time, that's fine but I have to say that I'm still sort of shocked at the way some GROWN PEOPLE we know and love handle her. A little too roughly at times, one person yanked off her sock the other day, in an attempt to wake her up, to give you one example. Huh? But moments like that give us an opportunity to expand my social confidence by standing up to folks in ways that won't ruin friendships. With that passing around of our baby, we've also learned that we're Not Okay with her crying while other people hold her. Our friends shouldn't be subjected to that kind of stress, nor should we, nor should Val, not when we know there's a very good chance we can remedy her moroseness then hand her back happy or asleep. So we're gaining confidence around taking her back when that happens.

Because we're the mommies, that's why. We're also learning to bridge the gap between wanting to be polite ('oh ha ha, dear friend who is shocking the shit out of me by behaving in a very unexpected way around Val, that's funny, please do that some more' while we cringe inside and long to smack their hands away from our child forever) to wanting to protect Val from unneccessary weirdness ('JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??? WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT TO OUR BABY??? WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN???') so we're finding some ways to say things that keep the peace but preserve our comfort level on Val's behalf ('please stop that, she doesn't like it. No, really, let's not do that' then turning away so the person can't touch her anymore). This sort of compromise has always been tough for me so Val is giving me a learning opportunity in a hurry by just being her bad self.

There's also the hearing assvice opportunity. I'm doing SOOO much better about this. Now, mostly I just listen and nod. Unless we're talking about formula then I get quite offended that anyone think she's not getting breastfed. I have no idea where this came from and I still don't quite understand my vehemence myself.

When I get assviced, I rarely share what we're doing, (usually, it's different. Otherwise it wouldn't be assvice, it'd be similar parenting styles) and I just wait till they've moved on, sometimes tucking away what I've heard in case it comes in handy later, just like all the bits and pieces of birth horror stories I heard came back when I needed to hear them.

So back to Val's second month. It's been amazing. She's gone from a lovely little blob of a girl to a full-on person with a Very Large Personality. The love we feel for her grows every day, along with that sparkling personality. Here's proof:

Somebody Pinch Me

Because it happened. It really happened.

Val has slept 6 hours in a row each night for the last 3 nights. It happened just like Dr. Spock said it would - she ate a crapload right before she went to sleep, then she just (wait for it) stayed asleep. Yesterday we woke at a reasonable hour to the sound of her laughing. No screaming, no rage, just happy wee one and morning sun.

I'm thrilled that this happened without doing anything silly (to us, your mileage may vary) to fill her belly and make her extra sleepy before she was ready for it to be filled that much. We just followed Val's lead and now, the bliss I feel at sharing 5 of those 6 hours with her each night is just amazing.

She's also learning to roll over, so far only to the right (this should please Paul, our favorite right-leaning relative). This makes for one squirmy baby and more challenging diaper changes but proud mamas.

We've learned something too - that it's wise to put her in long-sleeved pj's so when she kicks off her blankets she's not cold. I know, we're total dipshits for not doing this sooner.

And speaking of duh moments, in the restaurant yesterday we saw a dad carrying his kid's infant carseat - with the base (you know, the part that stays IN THE CAR, secured to the seat for safety) attached. I bet he's thinking the contraption is a real bitch since with that method you have to uninstall the base every time you get into the car.

We also scored a great price on a backup stroller of high quality that we both agreed on. Since our main stroller is super-nice and not cheap (seriously, thank you Burninators, I think of y'all each and every time I use it and feel all mushy that we, and Val, are lucky enough to have friends who would get us something so nice) we wanted one for travel. One we could leave at ride entrances in Disneyland without stressing were it stolen, one we could hand over to well-intentioned baggage handlers. Now we have the Britax Forerunner, purchased for $79. Phew.

That's all the news from here. I'm going back to bed, where Andrea and Val are snoozing away.

7.14.2006

Holy Crap

We woke up this morning only to discover that it had been 6, count em, 6 hours since Val went to sleep. She then got up, ate nicely and went back to sleep for another almost 3 hours.

Thank you, thank you dear daughter. You're doing an excellent job.

In Case You Were Wondering

Today is apparently the day that the only good place for babies to sleep is on my lap. Good thing I don't get hungry or need to pee ever.

7.13.2006

I'm That Kind Of Mom

Val was somewhat fussy this morning and early afternoon. She wasn't feeling being in the carseat while I had lunch with Bubbles, which made it the kind of lunch where you say something, pay attention to the baby, ignore your friend, then hear your friend for a second, fuss over the baby, repeat.

So by the time we got to Sports Basement, I was stoked as hell when she started to zonk out. I loaded up the stroller and prepared to browse until she really went to sleep.

Fine, great, until I'm ALL BY MYSELF in the shoe department and this chippie comes by, then speaks oh so loudly to me, asking if I'm finding everything ok. It startles Val so I say 'shh, I'm trying to keep her asleep.' I would have followed with 'but I'm fine, thanks' had she not said 'well you know you're in a STORE.'

That cheesed me. The place was empty for fucks sake and given that would it kill you to whisper? Would it?

Were the place busy i wouldn't dream of asking that. But I was literally one of 2 customers.

I glared at the girl, then as I was leaving told the manager. He was super nice about it, as was the other clerk I'd shusshed earlier. I ended up getting 15% off my stuff, which wasn't what I was looking for. I just wanted someone to tell the chippie to lose the attitude.

Yep, I'm that kind of mom. The one who will do whatever it takes to keep her kid happy.

Guess What Val Found?

This morning Val figured out that she has hands, that they're part of her and she can control this. She learned about these magical things by hitting me in the face. After that, she's spent the morning laughing at her hands, those amazing devices.

Yes, of course she's growing too fast. But hands are very cool and baby laughs? Fantastic.

Sad But True

I see a lot less of the internet now that I'm not sitting in front of a computer all day.

7.12.2006

8 Weeks Old Already!


Val and an ass
Originally uploaded by liz2d2.

And yesterday, Val met her first Ass at the kiddie zoo. Ass.

Other innovations in addition to ass-meeting include smiling, cooing and a very rare but oh-so-excellent laugh. The laugh so far only happens in fast food restaurants, which I'm sure says something about us. She also is sleeping a crapload better, 4-5 hours at a stretch during actual hours of darkness.

She's also grown out of pretty much all her newborn and 0-3 month sized clothes. This week has been quick! hurry! dress her in the stuff she's just about out of because next week she's going to be in a totally new wardrobe.

To all of yous who gave her really cute long-sleeved outfits (especially 1 piece deals) I apologize most sincerly because there are some she just wasn't able to wear. The lethal combination of hot-blooded baby and a heat wave made that impossible.

I also discovered that for real, she looks ridiculously cute wearing pink. Y'all knew it would happen and sure enough, it has. But our ban on ruffles remains in full effect.

We're starting to figure out more things about this whole parenting business and we're enjoying being her moms more every day. Even when, like right now, I'm about to fall asleep right here on the internet.

Having been pregnant seems a million miles away. Was Val really taking up residence in my body just 8 short weeks ago? I think that's how nature convinces people to have more than 1 kid -- because holy shit, you really do forget what it's like to deal with all the pregnancy nonsense. But don't get me started on giving birth. That I remember.

But of course, the end result, my little smiley girl, is the best thing ever.

7.10.2006

Things I Thought I'd Never See

A bunch of drunk guys AT THE SIZZLER who were so drunk they needed the host to call a cab for them. Way to get your drunk on at a classy place.

Poor Val

Somehow she's got a clogged tear duct. We wound up at the doc (seriously, in my head, I just said, 'vet') where she took the opportunity to pee on the scale. After the weigh-in we went back to the exam room where I'm never quite sure if Val is supposed to stay wearing just a diaper or not. I chose diaper but accessorized with a blanket. We had to wait a while but eventually our doc rolled in and diagnosed the tear duct.

Not unlike the heart murmur, it's something we just have to watch over the next year or so. Only we can help her feel better with massaging it and antibiotics while we're waiting for it to grow out.

Hopefully we can get it under control and crust-free pretty soon. Because eye jizz is just not cool.

7.07.2006

Dorm Life, Yet Again

Asshole neighbor is blasting his music our way once again. It's 11 pm, I ask you, how is that okay and why is it necessary? Don't grownups have headphones or at least point their speakers inside?

If he were less aggro, I'd go over there and ask him to turn it down. But so far, our own direct interaction with him has been him bitching with crazy rage at Andrea for calling the cops on his dog (which she didn't).

If they'd stay here all the time afterwards, I'd call the cops. But they don't. They leave and we'll still be stuck with crazy man playing loud music. Only then he'd be pissed off crazy man who figured we'd wronged him. At least this way he's on his side of the street and we're on ours.

But Jesus Christ, we're not 19 and away from home for the first time. Turn that shit down and act like a grownup.

Well Good Goddamn

Val remains upset today, much crying and even little baby tears. She'd fall asleep only to wake with much rage every time I tried to lay her down. I wish I could point to something I've eaten in the last couple of days causing her angst but it's the same rotation of crap I usually eat. So who knows what the source is.

The rage went on so long that I was hunting for anything to distract her. I remembered we had a Baby Einstein dvd. So I fished the thing out and put it in. Dontcha know that she totally dug it, stared quietly through the entire half hour or watching someone play with brightly colored toys.

It took 5 minutes for the thing to actually start. When you're holding an irate infant, I assure you that's a long damn time. But once it did, it was magic for Val.

She's asleep now and hopefully when she wakes up she'll be past the rage. Let us pray.

The Final Chapter

Val's fussiness continues today, though she ended up sleeping fairly well through the night. During one bout, the mail came (and nobody barked. It turns out that Gus was the most enthusiastic mailman hater. That's been super hard, not hearing him go apeshit because the mailman was here. The last week of Gus' life I told him 'do it, Gus!' and he went crazy as requested just that one day. The other days that week, he was too tired to rise) so I thought I'd see what medical bills arrived today.

We had 2 letters from the vet. The hardest one told us that Gus' ashes are back in. The other is the bill for his final visit, including the line item that made me cry along with Val: individual cremation.

There are signs all over our house that he's gone - his empty water dish (Andrea made him a tall one just before we got Patrick) his food stand, the foam mats and extra carpet all over the house that helped him get up. But no reminder will be as hard to see as the box of ashes we need to go pick up.

But it needs to be here, we need to bring him home. Because this is where he belongs.

I Seriously Considered

Putting a warning on Val's birth story about hey, not all births go this wrong. While I was With Child many a woman would start to tell me her birth story, then stop, adding that disclaimer.

I was advised to tell these people to stop talking because my baby's listening. But I wanted to hear so I could prepare myself for whatever came to pass. I'll always be glad I did listen, because as some of those things happened to me, I wasn't surprised by them.

I heard that disclaimer so much that it became clear that the 'ideal' birth is pretty much a myth even if the hypnobirthing book said that when you visualize it, it will come true.

Sure some deliveries do happen pretty fast and without a lot of pain, but the vast majority, at the very least, veer off the path the parents imagined.

So in the end I refuse to put that disclaimer. Because what would it say? Caution, tale of an actual human birth is to follow, details reflect the very unpredictable nature of that process.

Looking for an easier story, one with less drama? Get the hypnobirthing book. It's packed full of 'em. * I should add that I did use the hypnobirthing techniques for a bunch of stuff - 11 hours of umedicated labor, the crazyass contractions in the first days after I gave birth, the seriously not funny gas pains I had about a week later. I don't regret learning the techniques because they got me through a lot of childbirth-related pain.

Fitful Sleep Day

Every nap Val took today was with a great deal of angst. Hard to get her down, hard to help her stay asleep. Add to it me timing running around just slightly wrong so she was STARVING when we left my office (hi, everyone, it was super-dee-duper to see you all today and I thank all of you for admiring Val). All of this culminated in a 2 hour hardcore rage session while I was skating the skillz clinic at Lake Belmont.

Oops, sorry to leave you with a seriously pissed off baby, honey.

Even now, Val is fighting it, sucking furiously on her pacificer (known forever after as a 'sucker' because I said so and the other pacifier nicknames just don't work for me) with eyes that aren't fully closed. She's needed the comfort of being swaddled more in the last couple of days than since we were in el hospital. That's what's helped her get to sleep all day.

What sucks the most about this is doing every goddamn thing you can think of to comfort her, with no success. Yes, folks, I am well aware that this happens and that there's even a name for it - "parenting" - but that gives me no solace when my heart is breaking because my wee daughter doesn't have a way to tell me the one thing I can do to bring her smile back again.

7.04.2006

So Quickly It Changes

7 weeks ago I was monstrously pregnant, overflowing with estrogen and oh so clearly a woman. Today, I came out of the bathroom at McDonalds and a little girl from my 'hood whipped her head around then shouted to her dad about ninos! Ninos!

I guess in her world, short hair + cargo shorts has to equal boy. Even though my post partum ass is lactating and I have the ample bosoms to show it.

I must remember that in some cultures, the variation in 'style' (term used loosely since I don't really have much) for women is quite small and no doubt does not include short hair or cargo shorts.

But that doesn't mean kids don't need manners. Because even if you think that an adult person is coming out of the wrong bathroom, it's most polite to just shut the hell up and trust they know what they're doing.

I sure as hell hope to expose Val to enough variation in 'style' and gender that she never says anything like that to anyone.

7.03.2006

Ta Da!

This weekend Val finally acheived something she's been working on for a while: getting her foot directly into the poo on her just-removed diaper.

Nice work, kid!

7.02.2006

6 Weeks Later
I finally had the urge and the time and the energy to write out Val's Birth Story. I put it over on her blog because, well, it's a long story and it just made sense. Read and enjoy, I need to eat.

I leave you with a few gratuitous baby pictures, for your enjoyment:

7.01.2006

Can't Do This Justice

But I'm sorry to report that Wonder Woman, aka Carol's mom, passed away on 6/28 after a courageous fight with leukemia.

It sounds like her passing was peaceful and she had the chance to say all the goodbyes she wanted to say. But that doesn't make it any less sad.

Our thoughts are with you Carol and the entire Brady/Rodgers family. I never met her but the fact that she raised a kind, caring, creative and compassionate woman like Carol speaks volumes.

Rest In Fabulousness, indeed.

Ahhhhh

Played my first maroon game tonight. It was the most fun game I've ever played. Mostly, I held my own (I think) and didn't suck too bad. I had sooo much fun, it's ridiculous.

Oh and I think we won like 6-2 or something. And Val watched, sporting her excellent hat.

Sooo excellent to be back. I've never been more grateful to suit up than I was tonight.