There is a wee baby sleeping on my chest. The ghosts of infertility may
never fully leave me but. But they do add up to me being so very
grateful for this tiny girl.
She's nothing but a miracle.
There is a wee baby sleeping on my chest. The ghosts of infertility may
She's nothing but a miracle.
Having both girls home still seems like a dream. A very very good
I'm sure that this difference is related to the fact that Val actually
breastfed, you know, from the breast. I'm pumping a ton of milk for
Viv, which is great. But I'm pumping all of this milk because she's
just not a fan of the boob.
We're working on it. We'll continue to work on it until we figure it
out. In the meantime, I pump. And pump. I'm pleased that I'm making
as much now as I did at the height of my nursing days with Val. I don't
have to worry that there's not enough. Because oh my, yes, there is
I'm glad as hell that I was able to buy a newer version of the pump I
had with Val and that I had it all ready to go before Viv was born. It
seems more efficient and works about as well as the hospital grade one I
used at the hospital.
Other than the not-latching thing, she's settling in nicely. She sleeps
an unheard-of 3 to 4 hours at a stretch at night. So we're really not
all that exhausted.
I know, it's weird. And it could change at any moment. For now, it's
We're also doing well with cloth diapers. I adore knowing that for
about $100, we've assembled enough diapers to get through at least the
newborn size. I figured we'd commit to one size and see how it goes.
The trick seems to be finding the right number of diapers to have so
we're not spending all the money we've saved on washing diapers every
day. I think we've hit that number - 40 prefolds and 7 wraps, plus 3
bum genius my mom scored for us over the summer. We have other
varieties in larger sizes for later but for now, we're all set with the
prefold/wrap combination. Which, btw, is really cheap if you get the
Val is rolling with all of the changes. She brings a stuffed animal to
the baby anytime she cries. She sings her lullabies about big sisters
and wants to kiss her all the time. We've realized that it's easiest on
her if one of us takes wee Viv and the other hangs with Val while Viv
eats or gets changed. Since (in theory) anyone could feed Viv, this is
working out to sort of equal time between us. The only major issue was
when I realized that I simply can't carry the carseat with Viv in it,
not yet. So we grabbed our trusty stroller, intending to put the
carseat on it and push that around.
Only our trusty stroller? It's Val's. And she wanted to go for a ride
the minute we pulled it out of the car. She threw such a fit, she
earned herself a timeout. But I get it. She didn't want to share her
stroller, which makes total sense. Fortunately, the double model did
arrive so we won't have that particular struggle again. Val gets her
own seat *and* I can put the carseat on the thing, too.
And now, me. 12 days after the c-section and I'm feeling pretty good.
So far, the whole experience and the recovery has been about a bazillion
times easier than it was with Val. Hell, in the hospital, some of the
nurses couldn't tell who the patient was, I was so perky and wearing my
own pj's. I still can't fit into my pre-pregnancy pants (oh jeans, how
I miss thee) but I'm getting there a lot quicker than I'd expected.
My scar hurts, I can't pick Val up or carry Viv in the carseat, but I'm
dropping the weight pretty fast and moving around pretty well. I was
driving at 5 days after, which was 1 day after I was discharged. I had
no choice - I was driving Viv and myself to the hospital so she could be
admitted. Doing crazy things like playing my sax, water aerobics or
hockey still seem far away but I know those things are coming soon.
I am grateful to everyone who may have been tempted to visit in the
hospital, but didn't. We so needed that time and the privacy to keep
working on the nursing thing. We've needed that time at home, too. And
it's starting to (slowly) pay off. I do think we'll get there. In the
meantime, seriously, thanks to everyone who didn't push to come over.
This has given me time to sit with Viv and attempt many many tricks to
get her to latch.
And to pump. And pump.
We take her back to the doc for a weight check this week. The goal is
to have her back at her birth weight by then. We're not too worried,
but it'll be nice to have this kind of rocky start behind us.
I look at her and I marvel that the group of cells we started with back
in February is here beside me, snoring her wee baby snores while her big
sister snoozes with her purple hippo in the next room.
We are so very lucky.
Because I just don't think I'm up for complete sentences, I offer you
That's it for now.
At this moment, there is a wee tiny baby sleeping on my chest. At home,
After a long night in the hospital, Viv's bilirubin levels came back
I hung out with her for part of the afternoon, then Andrea came over to
relieve me. I pretty much ran to get Val (Grandma K is in town for a
visit, she's been awesome about hanging with Val while we've dealt with
Viv's issues) and take her to do a few things.
I cannot quite explain how much I have missed Val this week. We've gone
from only being apart 1 night ever (a sleepover, preparation for this
week) to being apart for 5. Talk about sucktastic.
But we had a nice day together with Grandma K. It helped take my mind
off worrying about Viv and I got to reconnect with Val (who seems giant
these days, compared to Viv).
Andrea went on to volunteer to stay overnight in the hospital so I could
get some rest. Val and I stayed up super late cuddling blissfully in my
glorious bed, then konked out together.
Of course I woke up a couple of hours later to pump and am having a
little trouble falling back to sleep. But I'll get there. And wee Viv
will get home. Preferably really soon on both counts.
So, since I have time, I'll tell you the whole story.
Viv's scheduled Birth Day arrived last Sunday. She'd made pretty much 0 significant signs of wanting to arrive on her own time so I was resigned to the scheduled part. Glad as hell I'd bullied my doc into doing the section so close to my due date, though, so I can say with all certainty that Miss Vivian had all the possible time to attempt to arrive.
We'd gone through Plans A-H (for Hamdemic) and landed on Plan I for the logistics of the day. Here's how it all finally shook out:
Soon enough, they brought Viv over to me, where Soosan held onto her and I stroked her (slightly goopy) face while I was being stitched up. Not too long after that, Viv had to go to the nursery for her first bath and whatever medical things needed to be done so Soosan went with her. Cheddah gracefully stepped over the red line and onto the seat at my head while Andrea and Soosan took Viv down to the nursery.
Eventually, I was all stitched up and wheeled into recovery. I was doing fine, or so it seemed, until out of nowhere I started to barf. Now, I do not barf. Ever. Like, literally, once every 10 years at this rate. Let alone with my nice friends standing there chatting with me.
And then it happened again and again and again. Over the course of the next 10 hours, I would barf many more times, noting for the record that starting with an empty stomach, then switching to a clear liquid diet made this experience slightly more pleasant.
Yeah, I know. That's gross.
Eventually they found a drug that worked to offset this and I stopped with the barfing. Thank God. Because that was gross.
While I was barfing, the medical personnel working on Viv were discovering that she had slightly high blood sugar. The cure for this would be for her to eat a bit then see if the level went down. Somewhere around this point and between barf sessions, we discovered that Viv is actually not a fan of breastfeeding. She did manage to eat enough that day to get the level down but it was so little milk, I didn't quite grasp how that was even possible.
We were able to sneak proud big sister Val in for a visit.
Later that night, the nurse (who I later nicknamed Dumb and Dumber) stood me up, then, when I said I'd brave walking to the bathroom, ran to get her counterpart to help steady me, LEAVING MY UNSTEADY ASS STANDING THERE ALONE. They got me to the bathroom and had me sit on the toilet. Do you know how weird it is to sit there while you have a catheter in?
It's really weird. And yeah, that's gross.
They left me alone again, this time to go back out into my room and tourette about something or other. I had to call them back in to help me. Dumbasses. Seriously.
I did discover later in my stay that nurse #1 was actually not that bad if she was not with Dumber, and that the key to dealing with her is to simply not engage. I tried to just let her tourette for the rest of the stay, which sort of helped.
Towards the end of her shift, Dumb came in and asked if I wanted to get up again before she went off shift. No thanks, I said, I don't feel up to trying that again. In this case, 'that' meant 'dealing with the risk of being left completely alone while you go out and fuck around with something that IS AT NO RISK OF FALLING OVER.' When my favorite nurse waltzed in along with our pediatrician later that morning, I was so damn happy. Diane (favorite nurse) got me up again, got me cleaned up and at some point, took out the damn catheter.
During the long night of Dumb & Dumber's reign, Viv started the great boob rage of 2009, refusing all offers to eat, choosing instead to scream and scream at my boob. Talk about disheartening. Not only is the kid not eating, she's mad at the only food source we'd like her to have. Sigh, and weep quietly.
This food rage led to her basically not eating for 2 days, which led to high bilirubin levels and the need to feed her formula in a vain attempt to reduce the level (apparently formula processes quicker than breastmilk). I cast disparaging glances at each of the formula bottles we used and was not sad when Viv didn't finish the bottle and I got to throw it away. Meanwhile, I started pumping breastmilk and that effort has me already pumping the same volume in a sitting that I used to do with Val.
So even if we never resolve Viv's Boob Hate, she'll have enough to eat. That's a relief that I can't quite put into words.
Right before we got to go home, in between many warnings from the weirdest nurse we met that incisions shouldn't be pus-filled.
Fast-forward to when we got discharged yesterday and they did a really fucking torturous blood draw on Viv to check her bilirubin levels. I thought it was just a routine thing but Viv had other ideas. The level went back up and now the pediatrician is Worried about her. We got another level taken this afternoon and it's gone up. Again.
So, the end result of this increased level is that Viv and I are spending the night in the hospital. She's in an incubator thing, under the bilirubin lights that are supposed to break up the bad stuff, pronto. This has not been an easy transition for her since she's been held and cuddled for almost every hour of her life to date. Putting her in there, knowing I can't cuddle her for more than a few minutes at a time, ripped my heart wide open.
This was right before she went into the damn incubator, as I was struggling to keep my shit together.
It took her 2 hours to calm down enough to sleep in there. It is taking all of my strength not to reach in there and pick her up, pull her close to me and sleep. But she really is yellow, this really does need to be resolved. Even if the getting there is breaking my heart.
Here's this lovely little girl, for whom we longed and prayed through all of those failed pregnancy attempts and then the IVF that brought us this wee miracle. And I can't touch her, nor does she want the one significant comfort I could give her -- the boob.
This is proving to be a long night. All I can do is hope and pray that one night under the lights is all it takes and we'll get home to Val and Andrea very, very soon.
We could've come home today but chose to stay in the hospital so we
I think we'll end up renting the hos.pital grade pump for a while. It
seems that no matter how you slice it, pumping will be an integral part
of this child eating so it may as well be as comfortable/efficient as
But I cannot wait to get home to Val. I've missed that girl so much.
For me to say please, no visitors. Miss Vivian is apparently not a fan
Between my own increasing guilt about my child essentially eating
nothing while we waited for her to figure out eating and the threat of
the jaundice, I made a very hard call yesterday.
I asked for formula and a syringe. And me, adamant, yet reluctant
breastfeeder, busted that shit out and fed my kid. Who rewarded us by
finally opening both eyes. At the same time.
In addition, I'm becoming fast friends with the pump once again. Those
efforts are totally paying off - I'm getting a good amount of milk now,
enough that merely a day after I started, I think we can ditch the
formula for good.
It did what it needed - cleared out the stuff that causes the jaundice.
Her levels were back down in the 'we will make no more threats/demands
around this' level and that's good enough for me.
I should start by saying that it's not my style to ask for help if
Okay, I'm not sure it's a gene. But it's most certainly the way I was
raised so add that to the nature/nurture portion of the debate about me
and my Issues if you like.
The good news? Andrea's flu tests came back negative. The bad news?
Her doc couldn't do a swi.neflu test and we got the news about her
regular flu tests as her fever was creeping back up.
That leaves us with not a lot of time until this child's scheduled
arrival to start asking our friends for help. Oh great, because I'm so
good at that.
It seems that what people want to do to 'help' is drop by at their
convenience and admire the baby once we're home. That's nice, but in
the short term, that's so not what we need. I've finally gotten the
guts to say no to any, all, or at least most of these proposed visits.
Last time, I remember being an absolute wreck and wondering when the
well-intentioned people in my living room would leave so I could lay
This time, I'm just saying no in advance. And it feels good.
The people who are a regular part of our lives will see the baby soon
enough and often enough. Here's a barometer: would Val know you if you
came over? No? Then, for now, please enjoy the pictures we'll surely
begin posting when the baby arrives.
I get the irony in this. We're forced to ask for help but I don't want
people to come over. I realize that saying any of this shows my asshole
side quite clearly. I can live with showing that if it keeps us from
getting exhausted by visitors and keeps any additional germs away from
my kids during this awful, awful flu season.
We can revisit all of this when the hamdemic has passed. But for now,
please don't ask.
We're continuing to keep quiet about the date in all public internet
places. Already, I've had aquaintences who very much fall into the 'Val
doesn't really know you' category tell me, not ask, but TELL me that
they'll be coming to the hospital to visit. Um.
If I'm not sure my wife can be there and I know already that my daughter
can't.... I don't know that I'll be able to stomach making any kind of
smalltalk when the two people I want there the most can't be. Again,
enjoy the pictures, thanks.
So this whole Andrea-fluish thing is sending us into a tizzy. I've had
to ask for help in ways I'd never imagined, from dear friends who I
would never want to burden in this way. And I'm thrilled/relieved,
sooooo relieved to tell you that they're all coming through for us.
I cannot thank you enough for being unfailingly available for us.
We're pretty much on Plan H (for Hamdemic) for this birth, having worked
through Plans A-G without luck and with an ever-changing set of
requirements. At this point, we're prepared to roll with whatever
happens and know that soon enough, we'll all be back home, together,
admiring our new baby and not entertaining guests.
But that doesn't stop my heart from breaking at the thought of Andrea
not being there for this baby's birth. I'm still hoping for a miracle
that puts her at my side through this part of the journey.
I did come home from the hotel. As of Friday morning, Andrea had no
fever and I was exhausted from not really sleeping. I decided the risk
was worth it, since I'd already been around her before she got sick, if
it meant I could get some real rest.
Also, see asstacular and sucktastic.
Andrea's sick. She stayed home from work yesterday, sleeping away most
of the day while I scrubbed the shit out of the bathroom. Oh, how it
depresses me to say that after far too much time scrubbing, the bathtub
still appears to have a film over it.
At least it's a lighter film.
But that's not the asstastic. No, asstastic is the fever Andrea busted
out with around 7 pm, when Val and I were at a friend's for dinner.
Does the fever mean that what coulda, shoulda been a cold has become the
motherfucking sw.ine flu? We dunno and since we don't have the Home
Swi.neflu Test Kit, it didn't take long for us to decide to send Val and
myself to a hotel.
Fortunately, I had both of our hospital bags with us so we had basic
items. Unfortunately, my hospital bag is filled with pajamas and
gargantuan underpants to wear after this baby's arrival. It is devoid
of socks I'd wear outside the home unless we lived in the artic tundra,
which we don't. So Susan, Val and I made a quick Target run to fill in
some of the blanks.
Most importantly, Val got a stuffed bear sporting a scratchy tutu for a
temporary sleeping companion, since her beloved hippo (who wears Cabbage
Patch doll-sized undies around the house) is at home.
We're at a hotel close to my work. When we checked in, I asked for a
top-floor room and somehow, this request got us a 2 bedroom suite! Why
do I get Giantass Upgrade when this is the saddest hotel stay ever?
Naturally, Val begged me to sleep with her so even though there's a
perfectly good other bed in another entire room, she and I are crammed
into one bed, me waking every hour as she stretches out and rolls over,
throwing her long legs into me.
I plan to send her to school tomorrow. If nothing else, I just can't
think of what to do with her here all day.
At bedtime, we called Andrea and she read Val a story over the phone.
Talk about heartbreaking. Of course Val took about an hour and a half
to finally fall asleep after that. My frustration with that particular
timeline was a good distraction from how fucking sad this all is.
Because the timing sucks ass. At this point, it's translating to a very
real possibility that not only can Val not visit the baby and me in the
hospital but, but, the worst, that Andrea can't be there for any of it
At some point, I'd planned to bitch about how this baby is way up high,
how she's making 0 indication that she'd like to go ahead and be born.
However, with basically everything around her birth completely in flux,
at this point I am grateful as hell that she's staying put. It's giving
us time to figure some shit out.
If you pray, and if there's some room on your list, I humbly ask that
you consider including the following:
1. That this stupid virus doesn't come my way. At least not now.
2. That Andrea's swin.eflu swab comes back negative and we can be
together to welcome this baby to our family.
That is all. I'll keep you posted.
The good news is that Val's school was closed yesterday. Since I'm
That includes a pink dress, complete with built-in tutu, a sequined
Hello Kitty and enough glitter to cover our bed in a glittery sheen in
about 5 minutes. Andrea said it looked like 2 fairies had been
I ended up getting these items out of sheer guilt because yesterday, we
learned that our hospital had finally adopted a 'no visitors under the
age of 16' policy due to the damn swine flu.
Before you start getting all irritated that we don't understand the need
for such a policy, let me say that we get it. It's for the good of all
parties, and besides, we are people who do our best to follow the
However, understanding this need and dealing with it are 2 different
things. The end result is that my children won't meet each other until
we bring the baby home from the hospital. It's also that I won't get to
see Val for at least 3 days. Given that in her short life, we've been
apart for only 1 night, the night she went on a practice sleepover (that
went great), the thought of at least 3 without her is tearing me apart.
Val seems fine with this news, so far. The truth is, no matter where
she ends up (we have two plans for this, still trying to figure out what
will work best), she'll have access to good friends and someone else's
toys. She'll go to school as usual so her routine won't be drastically
different. I am grateful for these options and knowing that she'll be
I anticipate that Andrea will go home after a couple of days and we'll
rope a friend into staying over with me to help with diapers and stuff.
Our hospital has a rooming-in policy, which means that the baby will be
in the room with me unless there's some medical need for her to visit
Yes, the nice nurses would take her there and bring her to me if I
needed the rest. But as you might imagine, I'd rather the kid stay with
me if at all possible. We did have this lovely period of being holed up
in the hospital after Val was born. However, physically, I was an
absolute wreck, physically unable to change a diaper until the day we
So we're trying to figure all this out. Andrea has sprung into action,
planning all sorts of logistics for the big day and the days that
follow. I'm sure it will all work out in the end, things always do, but
that doesn't mean a fair bit of planning isn't involved.
We're dishing out extra (well, they're 'extra' until the baby comes,
anyway) carseats to our friends like they're candy. Val's got a safe
ride in 3 extra cars at the moment and there are still extra seats in
the basement. I'm prepared to hand those out, too, if needed. Whatever
it takes to get a plan in place so I can recover, spend time with the
baby and know that Val is well taken care of for every minute that we're
The nice part of all this scrambling is that it's distracting me from
being anxious about the impending c-section. Which is good. Now that I
know what to expect around the recovery, I'm dreading that part more and
more. I hope that the planned nature of this event (which has been
scheduled, per my wishes, as close to my due date as possible) means my
recovery will be easier than last time. I've heard this is the case and
I'm hoping it's true.
In the meantime, the planning continues.
But I've decided to return to the division below mine in our women's
Why not return to the division I was in before? Well, this time I've
been out almost a year. That's the longest I've ever been out and to
say that my confidence in my ability to get my shit together quickly is
low? Well, that's an understatement.
From what I understand, the league has shortened the time you're allowed
to be out without having to try out again. For me, this translates to
having to go through tryouts that count within a couple of months of
having a c-section. Some of the required drills involve a lot of
side-to-side movement that I simply couldn't pull off for many many
months after Val's birth.
In other words, I don't want to try out and fail. Nor do I want to
stress about the tryout process. I just want, want, want to be back on
the damn ice already.
There are no major tournament teams in my near future, no Big Tryout to
get ready for. Nope, this time it's just me and the ice. I intend to
take the transition back as slowly as I need to.
Of course, the biggest and best part of this is that I'll get to skate
in the same division as my lovely wife and so many of our dear friends.
I have never had the chance to skate with some of the hockey-playing
people whom I adore the most. I'm just not gonna pass up this chance,
even if it will mean working harder to find babysitting coverage for
I do not understand why the Well-Intentioned feel the need to say 'get
Like you can sleep for 24 hours today, put 20 of those previously-slept
hours in a box and take them back out when the baby's wide awake and
ready to par-tay at 3 am.
I'm just saying.
In so many ways I would prefer to present the following image of myself:
-out and proud
-sorted through all the challenges of being gay, made sense of them and
worked them all out
-partnered with Andrea
-had the confidence to enter new situations without a whole lot of drama
-sometimes, even, emerged as a confident leader
But that's, of course, not quite where my adult life began. No, it
began years before that, in fits and spurts.
I partially blame the town where I grew up. I think you'd be
hard-pressed to find a more homogeneous town in terms of socio-economic
status and race. Yes, it's filled with white people, yes I'm white
myself. However, I think, hope and pray that the mere presence of
ethnic and socio-economic diversity in school gives kids a broader sense
of the world.
In other words, seeing that people who don't look quite like you do are,
in fact, a lot like you could help add up to not being a racist,
At least, that's my most fervent wish for Val's educational life. That
she can be valued for herself and more importantly, value others for
So, back to me. For whatever reason, my early school years weren't all
that great. I can theorize all day about what made little ole white me
stand out in a giant crowd of other white kids but the truth is, I
really can't quite put my finger on it.
And if you knew me then, and the answer is oh so obvious, I thank you
kindly for keeping that to yourself. I really don't need to know.
This feeling of being different came to a head one day in middle
school. I set my lunch down at my usual table, with my usual group of
'friends' then ducked into the bathroom. When I returned, my 'friends'
had all moved to another table, leaving my lunch there all by itself.
Do you have any idea how powerful that was, how fucking crushed I was?
My favorite teacher at the time was standing nearby, asked me what
happened. I remember telling her that the girls had migrated, ha ha.
I'm pretty sure I moved with them, pretended that I was part of the joke
instead of the joke itself.
Every day for the rest of the year, I rode my bike home and made myself
some lunch, or to my Grandma's. I enjoyed some time with a book or the
TV, then returned, sort of refreshed, to the hell of school.
This is no doubt where my love of a quiet lunch with a book began. The
quiet lunches I take during the workday have saved my sanity more than
I do think that realizing I didn't have to sit there and be treated that
way was the start of the 24 year old I eventually became. But oh it
At the center of that pivotal moment was a girl I'd considered an actual
friend. She could've stopped them from moving, could've said 'no, no,
we don't need to do that to Liz,' but she didn't. Now, I very much
understand the power of middle school politics and the lure of being in
the in crowd. I can see why she didn't choose to risk her tenuous place
in that crowd and stand up for me.
But that doesn't mean I forgot how much that hurt and how much she let
At our reunion, that same group of girls sat together, sort of at the
entrance to the place. They seemed to be evaluating everyone who came
in, one in particular, the one I remember as the meanest, sneered with
an upper lip that seems frozen that sneer.
I breezed right by them, by that pinched sneer. They do not need any
further attention from me in this lifetime.
Fast-forward to face.book. Last week, I got a friend request from That
Girl, the one who betrayed me the worst. It's just sitting there. I
don't know what to do. She's not a friend, she's not even a 'friend' in
the FB kind of way.
But yet, I ask myself if it's necessary to hold this grudge and keep
this anger anymore. I wonder if I am at all ready to let it go. I just
don't know. Her betrayal and that horrifying moment in the lunch room
started me on the path to this person I've become.
In so many ways, I like this person, this Liz who emerged from the
bathroom that day. Having those bitches make it abundantly clear that I
was not, and never would be, one of them started me on a different path
that eventually led me here. And here? It's pretty fucking fabulous.
My house could be bigger, it could be cleaner. I could make more money
and have more of a defined career path. But. But, who gives a shit
because what we have within these walls is amazing.
So the friend request sits there. I'm not sure I want to bridge the gap
between the Liz you know and the insecure girl I was back then by
accepting it. Maybe she doesn't remember that day at all. Maybe she
thinks that all the times I spoke politely to her after that day somehow
Maybe for you, but never for me.
Val goes to a Christian preschool. We didn't exactly seek out the
I should add that for this area, their rates are actually quite
reasonable. It's just that quite reasonable is still more than we have
On winter/rainy Fridays, they show videos in the late afternoon. I
don't love this policy but at least they're upfront about it and it's as
infrequent as you can get. I mean, shit, these God-fearing people have
spent 38 hours entertaining the small masses. If they're all out of
options by 4 pm on Friday, I can't really fault them for that.
Being a Christian school, they bust out the Veg.gie Tales fairly often.
Knowing that Val was being exposed to this, I let her get one from the
library. The story went something like this:
A father of about 8 tiny vegetables went to feed his kids. They were
parked at the table, utensils in hand, ready for some chow. But good
old veggie Dad discovered that there was nothing in the cupboards or the
fridge. (I should note that I'm pretty sure it was, in fact, the dad
who was attempting to cook for the brood. So there's one feminist point
for the show.) Apparently, money was quite tight for them and Dad just
didn't know how he would pull this off.
So what does Dad do to feed all these hungry wee veggies? He prays.
And lo and behold, neighbors and friends appear instantly, bearing
Now, look. I get that the instant reaction part is just part of TV.
After all, TV is edited for television, chunked into those nice 22 or 44
Is that really any way to show some concepts that I find basic? What I
mean is, as adults, it's our responsibility to put food on the table.
Simply parking your brood and praying for cheesy potato bake to appear
is not a practical solution for any family.
If you want me to get all religious on you, it's like this (in my
eyes). God has graced me with the skills, education and work ethic to
get a job that provides the money to put a tiny roof over our heads and
food on the table. It's my responsibility to use all that to actually
get the food here. To merely pray for your dinner is a waste of those
My relationship with religion is complicated. But this? Not one bit.
We are obligated to use what we've been given to provide for our family,
not to sit on our asses and hope blindly that our needs will be met.
So once again, my patient, wee daughter has had to sit through a lecture
from me about this show, and about prayer. I had to really think about
the prayer part. In the Veg.gie world, prayer is the key to all
things. But I don't buy that.
I sort of hold out prayer as a last resort. I figure that God is really
too busy to worry much about whether or not I can feed everyone tonight
and more importantly, he's likely to think, look, dumbass, I helped you
find your way to a family who made college mandatory, gave you this work
ethic that's helped you always have a job. Now you figure out how to
make all of those valuable gifts (to continue the metaphor. I do worry
that this post is making me sound a bit more religious than I am.) come
together in the form of dinner for you and yours. Yes, every night. So
please shut the hell up about this and use what you've been given.
Val and I were talking about this. I don't want her to think for one
moment that prayer is any kind of substitute for hard work. So, she
asked, when do you pray?
I had to think about it for a second. I remembered how, when Val had
her heart murmur, I put my hand over her heart every night. I felt it
beat beneath me, tried to shove aside how helpless those erratic beats
made me feel and ask God and my Grandma to please, please, help those
muscles grow closed. Eventually, months after the experts said they
would, they finally did.
And the gratitude I feel for that being part of her past, for never
having to take her to the pediatric cardio.logist again? Well, it's
huge. And vast. And I will always be grateful that my little girl's
heart was somehow made whole, even after the expert had started to give
up on it.
I thought about the prayers I said through our fertility struggles with
George. The prayers I stopped saying, then said once more, every day
through our IVF cycle. I asked, begged, pleaded for 1 good 5 day blast,
topping it off with 'and plenty to freeze.' We got everything we wanted
in that cycle, so much so that I was, and remain, kind of shocked that
we got pregnant, too. That was more, way more, than I'd dared to hope
Hell, even as my due date approaches, I still feel that sort of stunned
But that's not the point. It seems that I use prayer as something of a
Hail Mary pass. When I've exhausted all of the options I can do on my
own, that's when I turn to the heavens for a little help.
What I ended up telling Val was that I use prayer for the things I can't
To ask for the basics, when I've got everything I need to provide them?
Well, that's just stupid. And a waste of what we've been given. Why
the hell would I want to teach my kid to hope and pray for those things
when I can teach her how to make sure she can provide them for herself?
And no, we don't check those videos out anymore.
Given how insanely busy my work was until literally the moment I wrapped
Now, before you get all excited or pick up the phone to call me... They
were not very intense at all so I wasn't too excited. But then again,
the only ones I'd been through were induced and on top of each other
from the minute they kicked in. This 'starting slowly and not knocking
the wind out of me' thing was totally different. And a lot less sucky.
More like hey, is this it? But they stayed at 20 minutes apart, then
petered out later in the day. Fine. We're not in a giant rush at this
Yesterday morning, they started back up again and I thought, well,
shit. Let's go see if they're doing anything. We called the calvary,
got Val dropped off, rounded up extra help and headed to the hospital.
This time, I parked out front and spared us the longass walk from the
ER. Who knew that they have patient parking right there, right in
Not us. But now we do!
I waddled to the L&D desk and was able to sort of laugh at myself as I
said 'hi, I think I might be in labor.' As I uttered these words, a
woman across the hall did this god-awful scream/laugh thing a few times,
followed shortly thereafter by the tiny cries of a brand-new baby. That
scream freaked us both out and the kind nurses ushered us into a room
down the hall.
They hooked me up to monitors and I told my story a couple of times. As
I suspected, the contractions weren't very compelling to the damn
monitor. More importantly, when the nice nurse performed a medieval
torture ceremony, er checked to see if I'd dilated at all, we learned
two things. 1. The baby is still way up high. Okay, we knew this part.
2. All of these contractions have done very little. Okay, really,
they've done nothing.
So at the moment, there's no danger of my lady parts opening while I'm
walking and a baby flying out of them. Once we pieced that together, we
decided to go home and enjoy some more time with Val as our only kid.
The doc on call would've done a c-section right then if we wanted, but
it wasn't medically necess.ary at the time. Though it would've been
convenient - Val was taken care of and it was early enough in the day
that we could have a baby and Andrea could leave to go take the dogs to
the boarding place later in the evening - we decided to wait just a
I still remain hopeful that George will choose her own birthday. Just
in case her idea about that date is after she's due, we have scheduled
her birthday as a backup plan. And no, we're not sharing that date with
the world just yet. Your desire to know this information does not trump
our desire to have 0 unexpected shit happen with the birth of this
I know, that sounds rude. And I don't mean it to. But, I still carry
a lot of emotion from Val's birth, a lot of anger about how many things
went wrong (and not from a medical perspective but from people not
listening to our wishes and being real asses. And God, I wish I could
tell you this whole story. But I can't. Sorry...) and I refuse to set
us up for that kind of experience again. So the lovely people we're
relying on for varying degrees of assistance (yes, yes, in my head
that's pronounced ASSistance. Yes, every time. Because I am 12.) they
are ready to be there and nobody else even knows when. Here's hoping
that all adds up to an asshat-free delivery. I'd really like to go out
on a high note.
Because, you know, my birth is the most important day of my life as a
Forgive me while I waddle off to vomit in the corner at that notion
being remotely true.
I will start off by saying that the current media/pop culture obsession
Note: I am ONLY talking about the Dis.ney version of a princ.ess. There
is an increasing number of more generic stories/costumes available that
I'm wading my way through.
Why the change? Beats me, but I'm grateful because it translates to Val
seeing a lot less of that shit around and in turn, asking for it less.
Not too long ago, she told her Auntie that her mommies don't like the
princesses and she had to like Hello Kitty instead. I admit that on the
surface, this does break my heart a little. She should be free to like
what she wants to like, right?
Sure. And she is. However, Mommy's a feminist so therein lies the
struggle. My opinion of the whole thing is that each of the stories (in
some way or another) gives girls a very clear message - that, in your
life, your main goal should be to do the following:
1. Find a man. Obviously I take issue with this since hey, my Price
Charming turned out to be named Andrea.
2. Give up your entire life to be with that man.
3. Doll yourself up in dresses and cheap heels every day so you can keep
that man. The constant dieting required to maintain this goes without
4. Devote your life to Keeping Him Happy by staying home and taking care
of his every need. Forget any notion you had of gaining self-esteem
independently of said man, or having any kind of career outside the
That pretty much sums it up. Add in the cheaply-made, yet expensive
merchandise line and it's just not a winning combination of things I
want for my kid. Because I'm cheap, but I like quality items (and thus,
love a good sale in ways I'm a little embarrassed to admit).
And I totally get that other parents feel differently about this. That
variety of opinion is what I hope Val will learn to listen to and in the
end, make her own decisions from.
I'm not just saying that, I really don't want my kid to grow up thinking
exactly like we do. Though I would prefer that she be a Democrat.
So last night in water aerobics we played with beach balls. Including
some Princess ones. A Nice Lady from class goes 'so, I hear you don't
like the Princesses,' to which I said 'that's right' (and in a very
exciting but non-noteworthy-at-the-time way, thought to myself 'hey, is
that a contraction?). We went on to talk about the points I listed
above and she suggested some books (Paperbag Princess, which I'd heard
of but not yet gotten off my ass to request at the library and one other
that I've already forgotten), then her side of the conversation went to
a weird place.
Somehow, I think she was saying, by not letting my daughter have these
items or live the Dis.ney prin.cess lifestyle (note: I'm pretty sure
we'd be cool with letting her rock the quality, handmade,
no-anti-feminist-rhetoric-attached Etsy Princess lifestyle. We're
working up to getting her some Quality Dress-up Items, I think) that
somehow I was shielding her from things that would prevent her from
becoming A Child Who Expected Things To Be Handed to her.
At least I think that's where she was going. Thinking about it now, it
was kind of an odd leap, but it stuck with me just the same. Somehow,
in this gal's mind, by not allowing my child to own this type of
merchandise or read the book or see the movies, I was preventing Val
from having the type of full life experience that will help her grow
into a person who can make her own decisions.
Since, I guess, we're making them for her. And in her eyes, that's a
Well, okay. But she's 3. We make decisions for her every day, from the
small to the big. At this point in her young life, that's still very
much our job. We do our best to remain conscious of the fact that her
day really doesn't involve many choices for her. This translates to us
giving her unstructured play time at home, some choices in what she
eats, what she wears and sometimes, on the weekends, what we do.
Aside: when I was in Kindergarten, one day my mom was dropping me off
(unbelted, sitting in the front seat if I recall) and I said mom, I
don't want to go to school today. I'll be damned if she didn't just
keep on driving and take my ass shopping instead. I've never forgotten
that day and how awesome the spontaneity of it was. I try to throw a
little of that into Val's life whenever I can. However, in her case,
this does NOT translate into picking her up from school early on a
whim. She apparently loves getting the full experience and gives me
shit if I attempt an early pickup.
Anyhoo, we spend a lot of time thinking about the choices we make on her
behalf, and trying to respect her growth as a person within those
If she grows up to be a stay at home mom, married to her prince
charming, that's fine. As long as it's her choice. As long as she
knows that she doesn't have to make that particular choice if it's not
right for her.
She may well grow up and decide to cast aside every word of liberal
feminist rhetoric we've even spoken. I will sigh and roll my eyes but
have succeeded in raising a girl who turns into a woman who is strong
enough to stand up and decide for herself what she wants.
We're just doing everything we can to give her the skills to make that
choice herself. And right now, that still translates to no Dis.ney
For the record, we don't watch the movies, either. Mostly because well,
I hate them and more importantly Val gets all kinds of freaked out by
movies that are remotely loud or dark or scary. Which is almost every
kids movie ever made. This is her decision, one that was made while I
attempted to take her to Ice Age 3 - she cried for far too much of it.
I will never subject her to that again, not until she's ready for it.
So we find ourselves reading those parental reviews of movies, where
they screen for 'offensive' content. I can, and will, spend hours
talking through 'offensive' content when the time comes but in the
meantime, we're pretty much off of any movie that's not rated G.
This translates to Val's TV watching remaining *very* limited. She
watches Mickey Mouse, Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street and her new
favorite, Jungle Junction. All of which feature a wide variety of
non-specific gender roles.
Tune in tomorrow, in which I continue this daily blogging trend and talk
about how fascinating/revolting it is to me that Val's
non-denominational Christian school ALWAYS leads off a talk about Jesus
with the 'he died. On the cross. And it hurt.' message. Growing up
Catholic, I just don't recall it being hammered (ha, ha) into us like
that. Dare I suggest that this presentation brings a whole other level
of guilt that in some way surpasses Catholic guilt?
But that's tomorrow.
So, many months ago we got a Giant Bill from the RE. It had nasty words
Then I kept getting bills for different parts of the (I'm guessing) 30
plus visits we made there over the course of the 8 months I was a
patient there. And finally, I made a phone call.
Where I learned that there was some weird billing dispute between my
insurance and the RE right around when Shit Got Really Expensive. And
that giant bill I paid? Totally not anything I should have paid because
it represented the difference between what my insurance decided to cover
that day and what the total was.
In the weeks since then, I've called the billing person every week. She
is very nice, and now she knows me by name. We finally learned that in
addition to the discrepancy, there was a weird thing where my primary
insurance decided to pay a whole bunch, then take the money back.
They can do that? Seriously?
This payment/non-payment apparently was what caused the crazy to ensue.
This whole game of 'but you paid already' - 'no, I didn't' began and
ended before I started making calls.
Finally, I learned what might be some good news. The guy, apparently,
the one guy who can make it all better has been tracked down. Whenever
he decides to life his magic fingers and reverse the difference, it will
take him 10 goddamn minutes to straighten out what's been going on for
And once he waves his magic fingers, my Giant Ass Chunk of Money will
head back to me within 10-14 days.
God willing, that will come when we need it most, which is during my
(largely unpaid) maternity leave. But it's baffling to me that it's
taken an entire pregnancy to discover that the power of my refund is in
one guy's hands for a 10 minute fix.
Lesson learned: take no medical billing for granted. Call. Call again
and then once more before you shell out one dime from your own pocket.
It seems unreal but 5 years ago this month, we got our official start on
And this month, that journey ends with the long-awaited arrival of #2.
Now we can move on, just be parents to these kids. Just marvel at them,
teach them what we can and watch them grow into themselves, beaming all
the while. I cannot tell you what a relief this is, to be entering this
One thing I've run into a couple of times in the last 9 months or so is
When I was getting ready to go in for egg retrieval, I apparently asked
a question that didn't quite convey what I meant to ask. I think I was
asking if Andrea could be in the recovery room with me, but the nurse
interpreted it as 'what is there for my partner to do while I'm in
surgery?' So she explained that the clinic had wireless internets and a
big screen TV (like I didn't know any of this, after 8 months of going
to that fucking place).
I was like um, she's a grownup. She can entertain her damn self. I'm
the one who's having surgery, for chrissake!
I got the sense that a vast number of self-entitled male partners had
crossed through those doors, guys who were more concerned with how to
stay busy for 2 hours than how to support their partners.
Wow, sir. You'll be a spectacular dad.
I know, I'm judgemental. Sue me.
I wasn't too terribly surprised, but I was a bit disappointed to see
women on a message board I'm on discussing how to keep their husbands
occupied while they were in labor. One common method was to make a list
of things for him to do and to develop a number of tasks that he could
do around the hospital.
Are these men children? I mean, I have a bunch of stuff for Val to do
while #2 is being born. But she's 3.
Is it so hard to figure out that if you're not the birthing parent, your
job is to be supportive. However that unfolds itself for you is however
it is but seriously. That, is your job.
It's not rocket science. Just hold her hand.
Here's just a sample of things I've heard lately:
Again, all of these are well-intentioned. I don't mean to disregard the
kind concern/need to make smalltalk that brought these comments up.
But still, I'm doing a lot of sighing and rolling my eyes internally as
I listen politely.
Not too terribly long ago, it was suggested to me that Val might be a
After all, she says please and thank you, and not just as an
afterthought (about half of the time. From what I can tell, the rest of
the time, she asks in a polite manner and isn't that kid who tells
people 'give me this,' no, ideally she's the kid who says 'please can I
have this?' but I realize that it's more often some phrase in the
middle.). She rarely throws fits (in public) and by and large is
compliant when she needs to be.
So I wonder if what that person sees in Val is something like this...
There are many things she gets to have a choice about throughout the
course of a day. Often, that's anything from picking out her own
clothes (because really, I do find it cute when her idea of 'matching'
is more than a wee bit unconventional), getting to stay to finish
whatever she was doing at school (and think about this, do you drop
whatever you're doing at work in an instant because your ride is ready?
Maybe, but you might like a moment to wrap it up.) or even her choice of
semi-healthy snacks (usually that's a choice between 2 items).
Why? Because enough of her day is dictated. She's in school all day, a
place where all things happen on a schedule that she has 0 control
over. When she's at home, we have our routines, too. And we've finally
realized that having those routines and sticking to them makes managing
a tired child through teeth brushing and going to bed a whole lot easier
on all of us.
I guess the short version of all of this is that we give Val what we
consider a fair number of choices so that when we need her cooperation,
we can count on it. That translates to a child who doesn't run ahead in
a parking lot. In addition, it equals a kid who does not pull *any*
shenanigans around getting into her carseat. Even if she's horribly
upset about whatever wrong I have committed unto her, she will wither
down into her seat so I may buckle her properly. Between sobs about the
It also means a child who picks up her thousand markers and little
pieces of notepaper and removes them from our bed before moving on to
another activity. In addition, she knows to put the caps back on her
beloved markers before putting them away and (thank the Jesus) she's
stopped gesticulating wildly with her silverware during meals.
Seriously, you have no idea how frightening it is to be within range of
an animated preschooler waving a fork around.
So I guess that some of the choices she has, some of the spontaneity
that we offer her could seem to an outsider like she's spoiled. I dunno
but apparently I sort of care since that statement has stuck with me.
Like anything, it's merely about the tradeoff. I'll work hard to help
my kid follow *all* safety instructions, to know that when I shout STOP
(or even say it in That Voice) she'll stop running. Every time. I'll
take the comfort of knowing I've given my kid the framework that will
keep her safe in as many situations as I can forsee over having her be
forced to live her life unable to have her wee voice heard.
Since AmFam's going to do it, I'll attempt to as well. NaBloPoMo, where
Granted, this will be the month in which a new baby arrives into our
family, so I'm pretty much guaranteed to fail. But I'm Catholic, that's
the kind of expectation I was raised to have (half-joking here).
For now, I'll tell you that Halloween was a Great Success. Val went as
Minnie Mouse. She practically floated from house to house, following
Sam & Riley until an overall weariness overtook us all and we ended the
evening with me pushing Sam in Val's stroller, Andrea carrying Val and
Riley fully prepared to stop at at least 20 more houses.
Val is still beaming today. I'm exhausted from a night of seriously
crap sleep (woo, 45 minutes at a time. Fan-fucking-tastic) but glad
that #2 decided to stay put into November.