0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

by Alexa on February 15, 2013

Birth Day

What?

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Three

Fourth

Five

{ 15 comments }

Winter Without End.

by Alexa on February 5, 2013

January is over! Thanks be to god.

However.

The other night, Simone was sick, with that alarming scalding hot fever skin that children get making you certain death is imminent, despite the thermometer’s insistence that their temperature still hovers around 102, and she draped herself over me in bed, where I was holding Twyla with my other arm, and there was sleep moaning (Simone) and sleep wiggling (Twyla) and lots of sticky, airless heat-generating (Everyone), and then Simone was awake and crying and Twyla was awake and making baby sounds at me, and this was about the thirteenth time this had happened, so I asked Scott to check the clock while he was out in the kitchen fetching a bottle, thinking surely, SURELY, this sleepless hell night must be nearly finished, and LO! It was 1:30.

Naturally I broke things and stomped my feet and threw a tantrum, because my GOD, these children! Everywhere, children! Hot and damp and ON ME!

Alas the tantrum only happened in my head, because, well.

Instead, I handed Twyla to Scott and got up to measure out more ibuprofen and returned to rub Simone’s hair and say soothing things, and then I took the baby back, (because only I will do as far as Twyla is concerned), and patted her while making shhh-ing sounds, like the sea, and Simone coughed wetly into my eye, and all was as it was, is, and ever shall be.

As dreary as it is to read about other people being ill, I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got at the moment. Simone was scheduled to have her adenoids out last week, but instead she got sick, and was in fact SO sick, for a while, that I was wringing my hands and having visions of Lavinia Swire. Then she was at last improving, but yesterday slid downhill again in the afternoon, and so while she seems dramatically better today, I am regarding her progress with a jaundiced eye.

Twyla has come down with whatever it is, and is miserable and bewildered as only a sick baby can be. I’ve got it as well, though my case is still in the very early stages and so I am trying to stave it off with extra liquids, denial, and sloth.

Simone’s fifth birthday is Friday, with her party on Saturday, so it is a fun exercise to speculate about which of us will be ill, then. Will Simone be fully recovered? Will Twyla? Will I have fully succumbed, prophylactic sloth notwithstanding? Will Scott be felled as well? Many possible combinations to consider, which is exciting.

(So pathetic!)

{ 20 comments }

Meaty.

by Alexa on January 24, 2013

¶ I felt like a Fairytale Witch

The other day I was making this little beef tenderloin roast that Simone adores beyond reason, and I am trying to lose weight, so I was calculating portion sizes. I was squinting at the package, figuring out how many ounces were in the roast based upon its weight in pounds, and all of a sudden I realized it was EXACTLY one pound, ten and three-quarters ounces, and if that number sounds familiar it is because HEY! I was hefting newborn Simone, nicely seasoned with salt and pepper.
It was rather an unsettling train of thought seeing as I was about to surround the thing with onions and put in the oven.
(It was delicious.)

¶ Speaking of…

The losing-weight thing is a pain in the ass, honestly. I lose weight very, very slowly, and my thyroid fights me bitterly for every ounce. But I am sticking with it, and doing it sensibly and sustainably, and feeling much more committed than I ever have before. I think this is because I came out of my pregnancy 20 pounds lighter than I went into it, putting me only about 20 pounds away from my goal weight. Losing 20 pounds sounds doable. And the difference in how I feel at this weight versus 20 pounds heavier is dramatic, like a free preview of what my reward will be when I’m finished. Besides, it seems like it would be a shame to waste all the progress I unwittingly made while gestating Twyla. Theoretically, I could just have one more baby and voila! Goal weight! It’s as simple as nine months of intractable nausea and vomiting!

The second day was the hardest, and that evening I found myself running up and down the hallway of my railroad-style apartment, trying vainly to get my Fitbit to register enough activity to net me, say, a bowl of potato chips. I had no sports bra, and thus was forced to clutch my bosom to keep things from bouncing. I can’t imagine what the people below us thought I was doing, but am gratefully certain they could not guess the reality. The reality being, to reiterate: running up and down my hallway–up and down, back and forth–holding my breasts. For potato chips. There are surely many sins of which I am guilty (gluttony springs to mind), but pride does not seem to be one of them.

¶ I was going to put ONE baby picture in here, but I got carried away.

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{In the course of my annual January bustle—cleaning, list-making, etc.—I found a file on my laptop’s cluttered desktop containing a letter I wrote to Simone for her fourth birthday, meant to be posted here. It never was posted here because, if I recall correctly, I wanted to post pictures along with it, but I never seemed to find the time to decide which ones and get them all uploaded and whatnot. It wasn’t terribly timely at the time (Simone’s birthday is February 8th, and I think the letter was written piecemeal and only finished at the end of March or beginning of April) and it is certainly not timely NOW, when Simone’s FIFTH birthday is a scant four weeks away, but I wanted to post it anyway because this is where I put these things so that I don’t lose them.}

Dear Simone,

Not long ago, you turned four years old. Honestly, I have a hard time believing that this is true. You are my baby, and babies are not FOUR—that’s just common sense. The other day, you were singing a song you like, about sea creatures (“Humongous Whale,” to be specific) and I remembered our primarily marine-themed anthem, “Oh I Wish I Were a Little ‘Lectric Eel.” It has been years now since we’ve sung that particular song, but it feels as though it’s been about six months. It seems as though there was a gap somewhere, like you went from being nine-months old to FOUR, skipping the ages in the middle, but I know that isn’t so. I even went back to the beginning of our photographs of you, scrolling up through the ages, waiting to find this gap, this something that would explain the strange acceleration of time in uneven glops, but there was nothing, just a steady progression as my baby thinned and stretched upward and grew (some) hair on her way to kidhood.

I admit, you are especially delightful at four. You make up elaborate imaginary scenarios, you sing songs. You have a particular love of HELP!-era Beatles. Your favorite song in the whole world is “Ticket to Ride,” which you sing even without accompaniment, belting with particular gusto the phrased “SHE DON’T CARE!”

You are a long, skinny 30 pounds. You are rarely without your beloved Baby Thomas/Baby Muno (his/her name changes frequently), to whom you minister with great care. You took Baby to the park last week, and flung him/her lovingly down the slides and demanded he/she be pushed in a swing.

You are affectionate and imaginative and thoughtful, and you laugh easily and often.

We had a birthday party for you this year for the first time. Last year was your first year not in quarantine during your birthday season, and you spent the whole winter sick with one thing or another. This year you are unquarantined and have had only the commonest colds, and it seemed as though it was time to celebrate. We invited your fellow Billy Goats from preschool—Austin and Anna and Hailey and Maddie and all the names you rattle off to me as a reminder that your world is getting bigger and reaching further and further beyond your father and me. The party was held at The Children’s Museum and was a great success; there was a visit from a live turtle, an art project, and cake, and as things were breaking up you and your guests suddenly began to run in a happy, loping circle around the room, as people so often do at the end of fine soirees.

I am mindful of the fact that now that you are older, we are very much On The Record. I have many memories of being three, but four is especially clear to me. It can be nerve-wracking to know that your wee brain is storing things away for later perusal, but it is also lovely to be able to reminisce together about our first real family vacation this past summer. We are returning to the same spot in Duluth this year, and I hope you will have years of happy Lake Superior memories, just as I do. I am glad, too, that you had one year when it was just the three of us at the lake, and maybe the reason this particular birthday of yours has me so wistful is because it was your last as an only child. I am terribly excited for your sister’s arrival this summer, but I worry about how our relationship will change once she comes. I am so besotted that sometimes I stare at you while you sleep, feeling almost ill with love. This sounds creepy, I know, but then you did use my phone to videotape me taking a nap recently, so we’re probably even.

Happily, you are excited for our new arrival as well, and keep pressing me to commit to a date. (You seem attached to “June Four,” your Nani’s birthday, but I tell you that this is about a week earlier than I’d like. “June Six? June Seven?” you suggest agreeably). What’s more, you have at last accepted that your sister’s first name is not “Baby.” For a long while she was “Baby Twyla,” and if we referred to her without the modifier you frowned and corrected us, no doubt wondering just how ready we were for another child if we couldn’t even remember its name. Now she is just “Twyla,” and you pat at my belly, calling out to her, and when you receive an answering kick you laugh, informing me that “she feels like a fish.” Coincidentally, you are expecting your own baby, Baby Carrot, who resides in your leg. This might sound odd to some, but really, looked at from your perspective, is one body part a stranger place than any other in which to harbor another human? And so I inject my stomach with bloodthinners and you apply your large plastic syringe to your leg, administering medicine to Baby Carrot. You invite me to put a hand on your leg, to feel her kick. You don’t seem to mind my much-expanded midsection—or, as you refer to it, “BIIIG belly!!”—though I regret that it has made it near impossible for you to sit on my lap. In a recent discussion about mammals, you informed me that while you and the cats are small mammals, I am in fact a LARGE mammal, “like a whale.” So. Thank you for that.

I’ve been trying to squeeze in as much Mama & Simone time as possible before the baby’s arrival, and a few weeks ago we spent a particularly enchanting day together. We went to lunch and then The Children’s Museum again, where you played in the same exhibit that was my favorite as a child. This exhibit is constructed like a small town, with a store, restaurant, clinic, post office, etc., allowing children to perform tasks that they haven’t yet found to be tedious—things like grocery shopping or mopping the floor.

After, we went to the bookstore and then out for ice cream—the lone customers in the ice cream shop on a day on which, after all, there was still ice on the ground. Ice cream has assumed a large importance for the two of us, and constitutes what has become one of my favorite portions of our nightly routine. When the day is over, I scoop out two bowls of Haagen Daaz (lately chocolate chocolate chip) and carry them down the hall while you skip ahead of me and into bed. We settle in under the covers and against our pillows and eat, MMM!-ing and AHHH!-ing and smacking our lips. Later, after the lights are out, we face each other in the dark to cuddle and talk. Every night, you want to have the same conversation: “What babies can do a lot?” you ask, and I tell you that they sleep, and drink milk, and wave their arms and legs about. You want to talk about Twyla, specifically about what we’ll do with her, come June. Mostly you look forward to pushing her on the swing, though I have tried to warn you that this is a ways off. We enumerate the things babies can and cannot do, and then we are quiet until you think of a new question: “Do babies have feet?” you asked last week.

A few days ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and so our nightly ice cream socials are likely over. Next month you’ll move into your new bed, and bedtime will change even more drastically. We never set out to be co-sleepers, and weren’t until you were well over a year old and suddenly stopped sleeping any other way—it was so pleasant, having you there with us, that the practice stuck. Sometimes I would feel vaguely guilty about letting you sleep with us, but it seemed silly to insist you sleep elsewhere when anyway, as I reminded myself, it wouldn’t be long before you’d be too big for such things—it all goes so fast! And I’ve proven myself right: now that you are less baby, more long-limbed person, and especially keen on picking out your very own bed (from “I-Kee”), it is time to move on, and it has gone fast.

The weather has been shockingly, unseasonably warm, in the 60s and 70s, and a few Sundays ago your father and I took you out for brunch and then to the park for our first visit of the season. It was glorious, and we watched you running, and practicing pushing an imaginary Baby Twyla in an empty swing. We reminded each other aloud that there was a time, not long ago, when you refused to walk on sand, when you let yourself hang limply in swings or flopped down a slide without engaging your muscles. I would see you next to other children and notice how different you seemed, how much more cautious and inept, like a visitor from another planet. That’s all gone now. Now you are chatty and fleet-footed and adventurous—far more adventurous than I ever was, as evidenced by the fact that on a recent amusement park trip you threw your head back and laughed and whooped on a ride that even now I refuse to get on, instead perching on a bench and waving at you where you sit next to your father. Admittedly it is a ride geared for toddlers, but I am impressed all the same by your derring-do.

The sun was so bright on that Sunday, and our little family felt so content—one girl singing outside, another one kicking me from in—and I realized that I was happier that I could remember being since the summer we brought you home from the NICU. I don’t write these letters to you regularly, and in fact the last one I wrote was during that time, to commemorate your turning four months old. I looked back at it, to see what I’d said, and the last line was this:

“Every minute I spend with you is a good one, and there will never be enough of them.”

Still so true, my little goose.
Love,
Mama

{ 14 comments }

Did She Attempt the Pamchenko?

by Alexa on January 9, 2013

{Yes, my site was down AGAIN Monday night. The good news is that it is back up, and after being moved to a whole new server last night, should remain that way. Forever and ever Amen.}

Over the holidays, one of Simone’s teachers broke her leg while ice skating. At least, I assume that was the extent of her injuries. It is hard to be certain, as Simone’s version of events is slightly different.

Here, let’s ask her about it:

Well! You can imagine how upsetting that must have been for Summer.

(Her LEG BONE!)
(I particularly enjoyed the little movement made to indicate ice skating.)

Yes, to my considerable consternation, the very first thing Simone told me after returning from her first day back at school was that Summer hadn’t been there because, and I quote: “Her leg broke off. It just got OFF, while she was skating.” Slightly different phrasing from that in the video, but you can see that the message has remained consistent.

I tried to convince her that while Summer may indeed have broken her leg, it was very unlikely that she had broken it off, but Simone became exasperated at my naïveté, and so I let it drop.

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I was flitting about the Internet, trying to find out whether I might be wearing my Ergo improperly (I have never been quite clear on where, precisely, it should buckle about your midsection), and I found a site all about babywearing. Now, I love wearing baby. And my baby loves being wore! Why, just last weekend, I was able to enjoy an afternoon at the museum, with only minimal shrieking, thanks to the soft carrier holding Twyla snugly against my person.

Still, I have never tried to climb a tree while infant-bearing, nor to stoke a fire or play a game of touch football (to be fair, I haven’t done the latter even without a baby attached). I’d have thought the imprudence of these endeavors was self-evident, but according to the page devoted to babywearing safety, perhaps I am overly optimistic.

“Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing motion. ‘This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,’ explains the American Chiropractic Association.”

“If you shouldn’t do it while pregnant because of an enhanced risk of falls, you shouldn’t do it while carrying a baby. For example, your risk of falling increases when you climb a ladder, ride a horse, ride a bicycle, or go skating. Your risk of falling also increases on slippery surfaces like the ones you encounter when you go bowling, sailing, or spelunking. When a baby is in his mother’s womb, he has built-in protection, but a baby in arms or in a carrier does not have that protection.”

“If you should wear protective gear while doing an activity, you shouldn’t do it while carrying a baby. Baby carriers do not provide hearing protection, eye protection, protection from projectiles such as rocks flung from a lawn mower, protection from fumes or dust such as occur during lawn mowing and some household cleaning tasks, or protection from falls.”

Okay, so…Okay.
So far, we have: Jumping on a Trampoline, Horseback Riding, Ladder-Climbing, Bicycling, Ice-Skating, Bowling, Sailing, Spelunking, and Lawn-Mowing. According to the experts, none of these are suitable activities for a person wearing a helpless infant strapped to his/her chest. I hope you are all taking notes.

And because you can never be too careful, I propose we add the following to the list of Non-Recommended Activities:

1. Lion Taming
2. Rugby
3. Snorkeling
4. Acting as ‘Lovely Assistant’ to Amateur Knife-Thrower
5. Diving, Cliff
6. Diving, Conventional
7. Trapeze
8. Big Game Hunting
9. Bullfighting
10. Beekeeping
11. Stilt-Walking
12. Wrestling
13. Undergoing Whole-Body Seaweed Wrap
14. Pole-Vaulting
15. Re-enacting “William Tell” with Friend Who Has Recently Taken Up Archery
16. Surfing
17. Skiing, Water
18. Skiing, Downhill
19. Zumba
20. Luge

Be safe out there!
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ABSURD CODA:

When I first posted this on Wednesday night, the picture above did not have a Modesty Rectangle. In my defense, when I looked at it on my phone I didn’t much notice my HEAVING BOSOM in the lower portion of the frame, a fact which seems a impossible to me now. I blame the wee size of phone pictures and also Baby Goggles (i.e. “Look at my nice baby! I wouldn’t notice if this picture also included a nude stranger/spectral image/ROUS, so fixated am I on said nice, nice baby”).

But a friend (TJ) made a comment, and I investigated, by which I mean I pulled up my site on my computer, gasped, and made a strangled sound that was half horror, half amusement. Okay, 70% horror, 30% amusement. Scott was passing by and I turned the computer to him. “This is bad, right?” I asked, just in case I was overreacting. He didn’t answer me, as was laughing too hard.

I made a very hasty Modesty Rectangle and reuploaded the picture. Alas, as soon as I pressed ‘PUBLISH,’ my site crashed. I knew I hadn’t done anything code-wise that would cause such a thing to happen, and so for a little while, I was legitimately concerned that I had been shut down because of the photo.
“Maybe I got flagged as porn?” I fretted to Scott, retreating to the kitchen for some restorative potato chips.

Scott helpfully reminded me that the Internet is not exactly known as a Boob-Free Space.

“Have you SEEN the Internet? You could put porn on your blog. Not that I am suggesting you should, but you could, and nothing would happen.
“No, I don’t think its allowed! By my host or whatever. I’m not, you know, zoned for porn.”

(FLOTSAM: NOT ZONED FOR PORN!)

Anyhow, it turned out there was a server problem unrelated to my cleavage, so all that sturm und drang for nothing. Except that my site was down for hours, up briefly, and then down for another day, and apparently my pre-Modesty-Rectangle boobs are still out there in people’s RSS feeds. So that is fun for me.

{ 24 comments }

2012 In Pictures.

by Alexa on January 1, 2013

JANUARY

15w4dJan2

FEBRUARY

Feb10

MARCH

Mar13Mar4

APRIL

MAY

May2

JUNE

View From Bed

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

{ 12 comments }

Holiday Leftovers.

by Alexa on December 31, 2012

Here are two of the more successful activities of our holiday season, in case you would like to add them to your own repertoire (things I was going to put in my last post until my phone kept crashing whenever I tried to upload a picture, threatening to eat up all my allotted typing time with technical tooth-gnashing):

1. Salt dough ornaments

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Recipe—I think we used one cup of salt to two cups of flour, and then added water until the dough seemed about right.

(Incidentally, this inability either to follow or give helpful instructions is one of the many reasons I will never be a craft/food blogger).

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We rolled the dough out, cut it with cookie cutters, then used a straw to make holes for string to hang the ornaments. Then we slapped them on a cookie sheet and baked at 200 degrees for two hours (while I took Simone to her first play date, where she suddenly came over all clingy and refused to let me leave).

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After they’d cooled we painted them with acrylic paint. We did all over painting first (green for the Christmas trees, brown gingerbread people, etc.) and then let that paint dry before decorating.

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The decorating started out freeform, with no direction, and then I let Simone copy my step-by-step process to paint a snowman, and I think that small bit of structure resulted in my favorite ornaments. Still Simone-y but also recognizable.

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(Though I was also VERY fond of the ornament she made for my mother. Simone had very strong ideas of what to make for each gift recipient, and it was “A BLACK BELL FOR NAN!”)

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(Hear it toll!)

I mostly made goats.
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2. How to host a holiday party that will become a beloved annual tradition

Every year, my mother throws a party called CHRISTMAS EVE IN THE DRUNK TANK, the main event of which, as you have probably gleaned, is a fairly raucous sing-a-long to the Pogues song Fairytale of New York. It is always a highlight of the season, for me. And it can be for you, too! You will need:

Food
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Drink
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People
(NOT PICTURED)

A recording of The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York

Lyric Sheets (only necessary at first, but nice to have as a crutch against drunkenness even in later years)
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If you have enough people, it is nice to have the men do the man’s part and the women the woman’s.

A marvelous time virtually guaranteed to be had by all, so long as you remember not to start the singing until everyone has been sufficiently macerated in their beverage of choice. Oh, and speaking of singing: don’t worry when things inevitably fall apart during the fast(er) section. Everyone will catch up and be back in fine form indeed by the time the verse rolls around to “The Boys of The NYPD Choir, etc.” We are really quite impressive at that bit.

{ 8 comments }

Happily, There is As Yet No War on Chambliss.

by Alexa on December 28, 2012

1. Data

(I know how boring it is to read posts about posting, and that what and whether I write here doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this cockamamie world, etc., but my quest to write more here is about more than writing more, here, and it is important to me, so I am keeping track of my progress. Think of this as about writing in general rather than blogging specifically, if that helps make it less annoying. If not, sorry! Baby picture at end!)

Obviously, I have not managed to post every weekday. A few times I had legitimate excuses, a few times I was lazy, but most often the difficulty arose when I was not willing to type-type-type-POST sans editing. Oh, I would say, I don’t have time to do a good job tonight, so better to do nothing at all. This is an attitude–worse, a behavior–that seeps into every arena of my life and has been ruinously destructive, hence this little project of mine. A good job! OF WRITING ON MY WEBLOG. What’s worse is that you are probably thinking it is only the public nature of this Website that presents a stumbling block, but no! I was SIXTEEN the first time I tried to institute a No Editing rule for my journal. A journal that I had no intention of showing anyone, ever, for any purpose. And yet, I remember having to get up in the middle of the night to tear out the one unedited page I had managed, because it was bothering me so much I couldn’t sleep. So, this is not the minor leagues of perfectionism, friends. I am in The Show. I am the Mickey Goddamn Mantle of this particular brand of self-sabotage.

Of course, I am always shocked when I am unable to shuck off years of habit with an impromptu flurry of effort, but rather than come over all self-flagellating about the days I’ve missed in my little posting initiative I made a chart:


See? More yellow than red! So I shall keep at it.

2. The Most Wonderful Time (If Not Day) of The Year

It was a uniquely eventful (or uneventful, depending upon how you look at it) holiday, here. A week or so ago, Swistle asked when (for those who celebrate same) it begins to feel like Christmas. For me, there are two answers: it begins to feel like the Christmas SEASON when the tree is up and decorated. And it begins to feel like ACTUAL Christmas on Christmas Eve Morn (I do not know how I came to type the word “Morn” just now, go with it). Specifically, at 9am, when I hear the beginning of the live broadcast of “Nine Lessons and Carols” from Kings College, Cambridge. More specifically, Once in Royal David’s City—most specifically, the bit where the conductor points to one of the young choristers (they do not know which it will be ahead of time!) and he begins the song in solo, nervous, voice sometimes quavery but always lovely and clear, the cathedral silent except for some program-rustling. I don’t listen to the whole broadcast, but that first song is a Christmas tradition. I sit still and quiet, and my eyes swim. It is beautiful, though the last two years they have changed the arrangement some and my favorite part, when the choir voices come back in soaring in a sort of sweeping, stirring way high over those of the congregation, is gone. Strange choice though it may be for an atheist, Once in Royal David City is my very favorite Christmas carol.

Anyhow, this is when Christmas begins for me. We are a Christmas Eve family, so later that day is when we gather for dinner, and then we carry on opening packages in a smaller group late into the night. The next morning there is breakfast and we rummage in our stockings and eventually head off to a party elsewhere, but the MEAT of Christmas happens on Christmas Eve.

This year, on Christmas Eve Morn, I had big plans. I had chocolate croissants in the oven. I’d made bacon. My laptop was tuned to the classical station for the start of the King’s College broadcast…and then half my vision up and disappeared. This is a thing that happens to me, now. It began during my pregnancy with Twyla, and while it is alarming to be suddenly unable to see much of anything on the right half of the world, these particular auras were only rarely followed by the actual headache part of a migraine, so as long as I was at home where there was no need for navigation, etc., I figured I was in for nothing more than a few hours’ annoyance. We’d finish breakfast, scrap the scheduled cookie making, and once I’d recovered we would bathe the girls and plop them into their Christmas dresses and be on our merry way! Fa la la la la, la la la la!

This time, alas, the aura WAS followed by the headache part of the migraine, a crushing, horrible headache the likes of which I hadn’t experienced in about a decade, complete with immobilizing nausea and panic. I spent all day Christmas Eve in bed, clutching frozen vegetables to my head, ill and weeping. The worst had passed by late afternoon, but I was left entirely drained and hollowed-out feeling, too weak to do much of anything, and Christmas Eve was, for us, effectively canceled. We made plans to go over to my mother’s the next morning for stockings and Christmas, Take Two, and we let Simone open her presents from us, and that was that.

I was awfully disappointed. I had been picturing it all for so long, and talking through the schedule with Simone, and looking forward to the familiar Christmas moments, and the first-Christmas-all-together-as-a-family-of-four moments, and I felt like it was small of me to be disappointed, but I was. I felt like the lesson I was supposed to learn from this was something about how Christmas lives in the heart, but really what I learned is to make sure you enjoy the preparations for/lead-up to Christmas, because the day itself may or may not actually materialize.

Luckily, I did enjoy the run up to the day itself, very much.

[Here is where I was going to talk about some of the things we did over the course of the holiday season, but I am having technical issues with my pretty pictures, so HOLD THAT THOUGHT! PROBABLY UNTIL MONDAY!]

3. And to All a Good Night

As an Internet Writer and civics nerd, one of the highlights of this past month was a comment I received a few entries ago:

“Schmutzli reminds me to wish you a very Saxby Chambliss! I read that original Saxby Chambliss post as a young Congressional aide, and I still laugh out loud at the thought of it. I think knowing who Sen. Chambliss is only makes the joke funnier.”

Putting aside for a moment the SHEER GLEE it gives me to know that a REAL LIVE CONGRESSIONAL AIDE (named Betsy!) read my Website, this comment brings up an important point: I never did wish YOU a Saxby Chambliss this year. Luckily, as an all-purpose, non-denominational holiday greeting, Saxby Chambliss hasn’t yet expired, and there is still time.

I am so grateful to all of you for your kindness and friendship. Thank you for showing up, even after my many months away. I feel lucky to have this space to come back to.

A very, very Saxby Chambliss, from mine to yours.

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1. Insert rippling calendar pages here.

Twyla turned six months old last Thursday. A week ago. Still not ready to discuss it. Verklempt.


(Look! Where did that wee baby go?)

 

(This fat baby ATE HER.)

2. Your Only Friend is the Eel.

Twyla’s six month Well Baby Check (that title always seems either presumptuous or threatening, I can’t tell which) was yesterday. The child has a giant head. It doesn’t look alarming in pictures, with only the two dimensions, but in real life, it invites comment. When my mother is talking to someone about her newest granddaughter, I inevitably hear “Oh, and her head is just HUGE” within the first minute or so, along with a remark about Twyla’s other notable feature, the odd Muppet-yell/dinosaur noises she makes that are constantly alarming my mother when we talk on the phone, because it sounds very Wild Kingdom in the background over here. (Just this morning we were discussing Twyla’s head—for reasons that will become clear in a moment—and I mentioned that, well, MY head was very big as a baby, and my mother interrupted me with “No. Not like that. I have never seen such a big head on any baby, EVER.”) Twyla’s head has always been in the higher percentiles–at four months I think it was in the 80-somethingth, and this time, at six months, it was up in the high 90ths (I am too tired to go find the little sheet of baby statistics they gave me. I know she weighs 15 pounds, has big head). The doctor wasn’t worried per se, but said if things were continuing to trend upward at nine months she might be, and at that point the next step would be a brain ultrasound, only brain ultrasounds are easiest earlier, when the fontanelle is still big, like a creepy flesh-window into the skull, so it might be best to do it now. Twyla’s big-headedness has rather slowed her roll, so to speak–she was late with several milestones, not only rolling but pushing up on her arms and all the things you would expect to be difficult if you were essentially attempting to maneuver a billiard ball atop a gherkin. This kind of milestone lag is very common in the big-headed, and not worrisome in and of itself, and her pediatrician was of the opinion that (given the fact that Scott is unable to buy a hat big enough to fit him and that as a baby my own head did indeed look like that of a enormous-brained comic book villain) it was likely a case of genetic cephalomegaly, otherwise known as inherited big-headedness. Alas, we were unable to confirm this by looking at Simone’s records as her preemie status complicates everything (though there is that song Scott used to sing to her), and better safe than hydrocephalic, so to radiology we went.

And it turns out there is indeed some extra fluid in Twyla’s head. Luckily it is “benign extra axial fluid of infancy,” which is not associated with developmental problems in the absence of other risk factors, and doesn’t press upsettingly on vital brain bits or anything. Probably Twyla just likes making cerebral spinal fluid and is storing up extra in case there should be a shortage. She sprouted two teeth at four months, an age when no baby yet has any need for teeth, so I think she just likes to stockpile things.

Anyhow, now both of my girls have had head ultrasounds as babies, so Twyla can never pout that I didn’t shower her with sound waves like I did her sister.

3. Quotation

I opened up a document the other day and it had nothing in it but a quote I had copied down from somewhere, sometime. I have no memory of this at all, but I love this quote so much I want it embroidered on a pillow or something:

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.

–William James

{ 14 comments }

Jumbled.

by Alexa on December 18, 2012

I wrote this last night and didn’t post it. It seems impossible to write about the events in Newtown without offending someone, whether through misunderstanding or otherwise, and I hate offending people. And if it seems impossible in general, it is certainly impossible in the specific instance of an unedited, stream-of-consciousness-type Internet meandering. However I am trying to worry less about being liked (and succeeding, which is a whole other topic for another day), and if this isn’t the place to write about what is preoccupying my thoughts, I don’t know what is.

******

I have nothing new or useful to say about what happened in Connecticut last Friday, but I also can’t say nothing about it at all (SURE YOU CAN, I hear you remarking, wit that you are).
I have never reacted so strongly to a tragedy that was not, after all, not really, my own. After hearing the news I had a full-scale panic attack, and was largely unable to cope for some time as a result—having, in my infinite wisdom, allowed my anti-anxiety prescription to lapse sometime over the summer. I cried, I clutched at my throat with clammy, shaking hands, I was physically sick to my stomach. And I was rather disgusted with myself over the whole episode, because it felt a trifle self-indulgent, falling so thoroughly to useless pieces over someone else’s horror, so undone by it that I banned myself, for a while (on doctor’s orders!) from reading the coverage—how nice that you have that luxury, said a dry voice from somewhere between my ears.

This voice had a field day all weekend, remarking upon the toothlessness of my fury and the self-centered way in which the tragedies that affect us most viscerally are the ones in which we can most easily imagine ourselves starring. It is understandable that I find the mass murder of first-graders (my god, how is that a phrase that exists?) even more upsetting now than I would have before I became a parent, but the fact that I am the parent of similarly aged children doesn’t make it any more horrible that those 20 children in Newtown died. Why does it feel so much worse?
Maybe it is only because I am better able to imagine and feel empathy for the pain of those parents. Simone will be five in just over a month; I understand what a six-year-old is like, in an immediate way that makes it easier to construct a picture of what those children must have been like, what their families’ daily realities were made of. I can see the shape of that horrible absence more clearly than I might have been able to a decade ago, can more clearly imagine the behavior and reactions and reality of a six or seven year old during that awful morning.
Maybe, though, the fact that it feels worse suggests that my reaction is not as pure and compassionate and other-directed as I’d like to think. Maybe some of my tears were for our family, not theirs. Because isn’t there some small part of the reaction we have as parents, that gut-felt horror, that says it could have been us, and weeps for that possibility? Isn’t that part of the ease of imagining yourself in the shoes of the grieving—imagining yourselves in the shoes of the grieving?
Then there is the…well, let’s call it The Hug-Your-Kids Corollary, the thoughts that pop up about how From Now On, I Will Be More Present, and I Must Never Forget How Lucky I Am For Every Moment, and so on and so forth. There is something undeniably queasy-making about the moment that reduced one person’s life to smoking rubble being another person’s catalyst for self-reflection. At the same time, it is human and natural that an event like this would make us reevaluate and reaffirm, would make us feel grateful for what we have, even if there is an inevitable, uncomfortable undercurrent of thankful-it-wasn’t-us-ness to that gratitude. We DO hug our children a bit tighter after a reminder of the parents who never will again, how could we not? But still, it pricks at me. Are we honoring the lives of the children who died, are we remembering them, or are we making it about us? Could it be any other way? I find it revolting when the people talking about gratitude are doing so at a profit (“In Wake of Tragedy We Deplore, 10 Ways to Live More Mindfully,” via paid-per-click slideshow), but even the justification for that revulsion seems slippery when examined more closely, the line between what is exploiting a tragedy and what is journalism less clear than I would like. What do I want them to cover instead? Not talking about it feels wrong. Talking about it feels wrong, too.

It bothers me, and bothered me, all of this, and then it bothered me that I was self-centered enough to spend time examining my own reaction for self-centeredness when I could have been using that time to write to my elected representatives about gun control, or doing something else (what?) with a veneer of the productive. Historically, I have spent far too much time feeling bad about things, and not nearly enough time taking meaningful action. Feeling bad helps no one and solves nothing, and while sometimes there is nothing we can do to make a thing better, more often, I suspect, there is. It may not be—almost certainly is not—enough, but it has to be more useful than one’s own private woe. Thoughts are not magic. Even sending a card is at least a tangible action. So is lobbying for change, or donating time or money. Weeping? Nope.

This is what my head is full of. It is a stew of grief and fear and self-recrimination and oh, my god, those poor children and their families.

It should be quite obvious that I have no wisdom or comfort to offer, but I needed to write it out, stew and all. Usually, doing so brings me a measure of clarity. Not this time.

{ 17 comments }

A Reminder.

by Alexa on December 17, 2012

This morning I found a post in my drafts folder from almost exactly this date last year. There was only one sentence in this post, just a note I had jotted down:

Simone points and exclaims “Look! It’s Chocolate Santa.”

You see, last year was the first year Simone noticed Santa, and when she first made his acquaintance he had taken the form of a hollow cocoa-based confection. “It’s a chocolate Santa,” we’d told her. And so for the rest of the season whenever she saw Santa’s likeness in a Christmas book or on a bit of holiday decoration, she would get very excited and call him by his name, which she understood to be—you guessed it—Chocolate Santa.

She doesn’t do this anymore, and I had forgotten she ever did until I opened that post draft. This is why, or part of why, I will keep writing here, even when I am tired and hungry and have leftover risotto calling to me from the kitchen, when it is 10:45 and I still haven’t had dinner and I’m right at the denouement of the mystery I’m reading.

{ 7 comments }

I Hope This Works…

by Alexa on December 12, 2012

Simone is sick. Miserably, miserably sick. She is draped over me in bed right now and I am posting this from my phone (or trying to–the page is behaving very oddly) which is a first for me. Here is a picture from a couple of hours ago, so you can see I am not shirking my posting for naught:


She first got sick last night but it seemed like nothing much until this evening, when she started feeling worse and her temperature went up up up and suddenly I was surrounded by Kleenex and inhalers and moaning.

If I had known my evening was going to be so very full (of snot, wretchedness, etc.) I would have posted earlier, but alas. Tomorrow I will be back.

{ 9 comments }

1. About half the number of days because chocolate is approximately twice as good as oil.

Currently, my very favorite things in the whole world to put in my face are Ghiradelli Peppermint-Bark-with-Dark-Chocolate Squares. They are sold seasonally, and so I feel I should eat as many as possible now, while I can, as a show of holiday spirit. To that end, Scott bought me a bag of them this past weekend, and before bed that evening, Simone and I set about consuming it. (Much later I went out to get a drink of water only to hear peals of laughter from my husband as I passed him in the living room, because it turned out I had a Ghiradelli squares wrapper stuck—appropriately enough—to my haunch.)
Anyhow, LAST night Simone asked whether there were any more Candy Cake Chocolates (Simone calls “candy canes” “candy CAKES,” for reasons passing understanding) and, remembering that we had eaten the last of them the night before, I regretfully said there were not. But then! When I picked up the bag to show her that it was empty, there were two squares left! One for each of us! We ate our chocolates with gratitude and went to sleep.

An hour ago I went to throw the bag away, feeling hungry and wistful, and as I was folding it up for the trash, I felt something solid in the bottom.
IT WAS ANOTHER SQUARE.
I swear to you, the bag was empty last night. It was on my nightstand, and it was empty. I would never have left a chocolate unmolested on my nightstand during the snack-y evening hours.
How was this possible? No bag of these things had ever lasted more than one night, two at the most, and here we were on night FOUR. And then I remembered: Chanukah. Of course. It’s a Chanukah miracle!
I have now eaten my chocolate and the bag remains stubbornly devoid of more. Next year I shall light four candles to remember.

2. Ham

Twyla, as I may have mentioned, is an extraordinarily hammy baby. You know the phrase “flat affect?” Twyla has the opposite of that. She has a mountainous affect. She splits her whole face open in these mad, comical smiles—most of which now come with motion, and are thus becoming more difficult to capture on film. The rest of the expressions in her repertoire are just as overblown.


She would have made an excellent silent film star.

And then, sometimes, she is just sweet.

She is such a sweet, loving baby. It breaks my heart a bit, for some reason.

3. Eine Kleine Nacht-Kvetching

I have been getting headaches every day for a while. I have one right now. The last time I got frequent headaches was in my early 20s, but those were migraines—awful, soul-killing migraines. These are just plain old headaches. I am sure I am not drinking enough water, maybe that is the problem? But then I’ve never been good at remembering to drink water, and it didn’t bother me before. Maybe it is hormonal? My hair is falling out, which is apparently normal and definitely hormonal, and possibly my thyroid medicine needs adjusting, as I hear that already-screwy thyroids often become even screwier postpartum. Whatever it is, it is exceedingly irritating. A near-constant low-level headache taxes my already meager resources.

And, on that fascinating note, I shall leave you.

{ 21 comments }

I Wonder What Those Four Pillars Would Be?

by Alexa on December 10, 2012

1. Housekeeping

Is it annoying that I am posting pictures I’ve published on Instagram? I don’t know how many of you follow me there, but I can see how if you DO, it might be irksome to see the same pictures in two places. The thing is, I take all of my pictures these days on my phone, and if I share them on Instagram first (which involves about three little taps of my index finger), then all I have to do to add them to a post is type in the Instagram link, and voila! the picture appears!

If I want to insert a picture from my phone without publishing it to Instagram first, I have to plug my phone into my computer and upload everything to iPhoto, export the picture I want to use onto my desktop, upload said picture to my site or Flickr, and then add the link to the post. I cannot tell you how many times I have not posted because I wanted to add pictures and decided I didn’t have time (or couldn’t find the cord for my phone) and would do it later. Unsurprisingly, later seldom comes—or rather by the time it does, I have new things I want to talk about, and so the previous things are pushed aside. I am trying to remove as many barriers to my writing here as possible, and the picture thing is one of them, so I hope it doesn’t grate too badly.

Look, I know it is just WRITING THINGS ONLINE, not piloting small aircraft or mining coal, and why should I need to make it easy? But I guess that is the point, too. This isn’t my job. I have a job. I have exactly zero interest in monetizing or leveraging influence or making this site my work. This is a thing I do for fun, and I think it is good for me, and I’ve really missed doing it. On the other hand—and this is the reason I am bothering to ask whether the twice-posted pictures are bothersome—a large part of what I love about this space is all of you, and so while it is all well and good to say I am writing here for myself, that is only part of the story. SO if all dozen of you, dear readers, hate seeing the same pictures in two places, I will stop doing it.

2. Now, here are some pictures from Instagram!

We decorated the tree!


Then there was a snow storm, and we happened to have a carrot that any fool could see would make an excellent snowman nose, and so even though what I felt like doing was sitting bonelessly on the couch I suggested we go outside and play. The snow was falling fast in fat, feathery pats, coating everything and making me very pleased to live where I do.


We had an absolutely marvelous time. Simone and I made what I am certain is the WORLD’S FINEST SNOWPERSON. (It was our first!)


Then we made snow angels and ran up and down the block and Simone ate her weight in fresh powder, and when we came inside I made hot chocolate.


It was one of those all-too-rare occasions when I felt a clear sense that I was doing something right, well. I AM a good mother, I found myself thinking at one point, which sounds pretty stupid, because it is not like Snowman Construction is one of the FOUR PILLARS OF PARENTHOOD, or something, but I often feel like I’m not doing a great job as a mom, and yet I am also the designated nagging parent, the one who insists on toys being picked up and sweets being for special occasions, who sees that hair is brushed and flu shots administered, etc., so to feel like I am legitimately good at a part of motherhood AND that the part I am best at—yes, snowman construction, but also impromptu crafts, and making sandcastles in the park—is a FUN bit…It was great, great, great.

3. The Scat Came Back

Just a reminder that Saturday was the day you should have gone out to find your log. It’s not too late, though! I’m sure there are plenty of nice logs left.

Here is mine, all the way from Barcelona:


(We won’t actually be beating it, as it is ceramic, so I suppose that means no nougat for me.)

{ 32 comments }

Orphans, Bread, and Holiday Cheer!

by Alexa on December 7, 2012

1. Canada, you are a drag.

This morning, on Caillou:

CAILLOU: “Does he have a family, too?”

ZOOKEEPER: “I’m afraid not. You see, his mommy died.”

Really, children’s television writers? REALLY? It wasn’t a Very Special Episode about death, it was a trip to the zoo. I was two sips into my first cup of coffee. It was not yet 7am. Why, what better time to discuss death and motherless children with my four-year-old!

(Also, why not just say “not here!” or even “no” without elaboration? If my preschooler asked a question about a baby otter’s family and some zookeeper took it upon herself to answer with a tale of maternal woe, she would be scrambling for purchase along the inside wall of the tiger pit.)

2. According to Simone, the extra cherries are hair.

This morning we went over to my mother’s to bake loaves of Schmutzli and Santa bread. You can buy these all over in Switzerland during the holidays, and Santa’s pipe and Schmutzli’s switch were saved from my mother’s last store-bought pair. Here they are before going in the oven:

And here is Schmutzli after being served for lunch alongside cheese and butter (turnabout is fair play, Schmutzli!):



3. Oh the weather outside is frightful…

We were supposed to be traveling this weekend to see my in-laws, but the forecast calls for a winter storm Saturday night, so instead we are staying home to do cozy winter things, like make cookies and finally decorate the tree. Right now it is up but bare, this hulking dark piney mass in the corner of the living room. I can’t wait to get the lights strung and watch Simone festoon approximately one third of the available arboreal real estate with ornaments.

I have surprised myself by turning into a Holiday Person over the last couple of years. I liked the holidays fine in the past, but they were just there, pleasant but generally devoid of poignancy, a few days of presents and laughing with family and drinking hot liquored things. All of which are still integral components of the holiday season, obviously, but ever since Simone became old enough to be delighted by Christmas, I’ve become someone who listens to Christmas music starting December 1st, who organizes holiday crafts and can sit gazing at the tree for a disturbingly long while. Baking, shopping for presents, drinking hot chocolate when it’s snowing and white outside…I’m gleeful, even reverent, over all of it—perhaps absurdly so, for an atheist—and this year feels more exciting than most,  because Twyla is our last baby, which means we are finally all here.

{ 9 comments }

I Think I Dozed Off Twice While Writing This.

by Alexa on December 6, 2012

1. So be good for goodness sake…

Today is St. Nicolas Day, and that can only mean one thing: Schmutzli! For those of you who have forgotten, Schmutzli travels with St. Nicolas (the Swiss call him Samichlaus) as a sort of grimy, unpredictably violent sidekick.

(I found the following quote on Swissinfo.ch: “Schmutzli brings a touch of fear, which makes the whole thing more attractive. He provides a contrast with the figure of St Nicholas.” A touch of fear! Why, what wouldn’t be more attractive that way?)

I know that many parents are fond of The Elf on the Shelf, but in my opinion Schmutzli is far, far superior–if you really want your children to behave this holiday season, remind them how long and airless the journey back to the Black Forest will seem in Schmutzli’s sack, and how rough the stick naughty children are beaten with will feel upon their tender skin. And, of course, at the end of it all, they’ll almost certainly be eaten.

This year I couldn’t find my knitted Schmutzli finger puppet, so I made my own while dinner was cooking. For this holiday craft (suitable for all ages!) you will need paper, a Sharpie, crayons, scissors, and a toothpick for Schmutzli’s child-beating stick:


As I say every year: May Schmutzli Spare You!

2. The rise of online journaling must be have been really nice for mimes.

I put up our tree today, and tomorrow I will string the lights and Simone and I will decorate and listen to Christmas music. It is a false tree, because of Simone’s asthma, and the best part about it is that the white cotton gloves it comes with to protect one’s hands while separating the branches give me an annual excuse to spend an hour or so pretending to be a mime.


I think I would have been a truly excellent mime.

3. Christmas, 1979

I found this today while I was going through a box and thought you might like to see a seasonally appropriate Baby Alexa:


(I look so alarmed! Perhaps Schmutzli is coming for me?)

I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t post today. Twyla slept for an unheard of six consecutive hours last night, and somehow getting more sleep seems to have exponentially increased my exhaustion. I remember this happening when Simone was a baby, and I still don’t understand the logic behind it, except that obviously my body is ungrateful and easily spoiled. Exhausted or not, I am typing at least a handful of words and pressing publish, reminding myself that the whole idea was to combat perfectionism, so really, the worse the better.

{ 16 comments }

I Am Just as Surprised as You.

by Alexa on December 5, 2012

1. In which I attempt, rather pathetically, to return the favor

I am still going through your excellent comments, and feeling absolutely gluttonous. So many books I want to read, and I want to read them all at once! This is a marked improvement over the anxious what-on-earth-will-I-read-next-oh-no-two-chapters-left!? feeling of scarcity I had before, so thank you.

You have all been so generous with your recommendations that it seems only right that I share a few of my own. Unfortunately, I tend to recommend the same things over and over, so I’m pretty sure that if you have been reading here for a while you have heard most of my old standbys. But, because we were discussing mysteries I feel I must once again strenuously suggest Sarah Caudwell (brilliantly witty, only wrote four books so I reread them again and again). And certainly Rex Stout is new to no one, but just in case, I will remind you all that he is marvelous.

Oh! Yes! Not a mystery, but: Diary of a Provincial Lady, by E.M. Delafield. I recommend this to lots of people in real life, however a quick search tells me I have never mentioned it here. It is the first in a series–there is A Provincial Lady in London, A Provincial Lady in Wartime, and a few others, and they are absolutely marvelous and I just reread them for the zillionth time during my pregnancy with Twyla (are you sensing that I do a lot of REreading? I do). Whenever I hear someone talking at length about how REVOLUTIONARY it is to blog about everyday life as a mother, I think of these books, which are essentially a precursor to this whole enterprise. They are British, written in the 1930s, and the humor is exquisitely dry. I am sure those of you who are familiar will back me up in comments.

2. A perception problem

All of the reading I have been doing on my phone has brought up an issue I hadn’t foreseen: when Simone sees me curled on the couch, engrossed in a book, she doesn’t KNOW I am curled on the couch, engrossed in a book. I realized this a few weeks ago, and it alarmed me, so I called her over to show her that I was reading! See, it’s a BOOK!

No it’s NOT, she said, scornful. It’s a PHONE.

(No, but look! See! It’s a story! It’s a book ON my phone!) (It’s not a BOOK.) (And so on.)

Maybe this shouldn’t bother me, but it does. I saw my parents reading all the time, and I grew up surrounded–quite literally, surrounded–by books, and I honestly think I owe much of the good in my life to my love of reading. I could go on (and on) (and ON) about how important I think reading is, and how much joy books have brought me, and another day, when I have the time, I will, but for now, it is enough to say that I think that nothing has been more useful in my life as a human. I thanked MY BOOKS in the acknowledgements of my own book, for pete’s sake.

The point is, a love of reading is one of the gifts I most want to give Simone and Twyla, and now that Simone is getting older, I am starting to worry that I am failing. She probably watches more TV than she should. I haven’t taught her to read yet, because I can’t seem to figure out how one even does such a thing. We read a lot, and she knows all her letters and the sounds they make, but it seems like such a leap from there to actual reading, and I honestly am not even sure how it happens, and I don’t want to push it because I want reading to be fun, not work. But I feel like I am not doing enough, and if anyone knows how you make a child into a reader, not just a person who can read, but a READER, well, I would love for you to tell me.

3. I really can’t add anything to these pictures.

 

 

P.S.

{ 26 comments }

Again! I’m Unstoppable!

by Alexa on December 4, 2012

1. Perhaps it symbolizes the desire to fly free from the yoke of oppression.

When watching a television show/movie that features a scene with a Latino gang, I inevitably entirely miss the dialogue, so preoccupied am I with sartorial questions. Or rather one sartorial question: what is the appeal of a short-sleeved work shirt with only the very tippy-top button buttoned so that it makes a sort of cape-with-sleeves? A cape seems to strike a harshly formal note when paired with a white undershirt, and the buttoned collar looks awfully restrictive. I do not understand. Will one of the Latino gang members in the audience (Oh come on. There has to be ONE with a secret, shameful addiction to mommyblogs) explain it to us in comments, please?

2. Don’t put money on it, or anything.

I am going to keep doing this, posting three things, any three things I happen to think of, just typetypetypePOST, with no editing, every weekday for a while. I decided last month to start on December 1st, as sort of my own grown-up advent calendar, only with writing, and obviously continuing after Christmas, so…not really very advent-y, then. Anyway, December started on a weekend, so here we are. Or were, yesterday, and are again now. My god, I can’t believe I just have to leave all this up here. This is a very tough love (which I just typed “tough lough,” and then fixed, because I do have standards) approach to curing one’s crippling perfectionism. Does this count as one of my three things? I vote yes.

3. Reading is fundamentally dangerous.

I have started reading again, thanks to the Kindle app on my phone: I can read while I pump, and in dark middle-of-the-night snatches, and while I rock the baby, and it has reminded me just how terrible I am at moderation when it comes to this particular activity. Either I read very sparsely, taking ages and ages to finish a single book, or I read twenty in five weeks. There seems to be no middle ground at all. Frankly, the amount of pleasure it gives me, and the way I sometimes feel almost desperate to get back to my book seems unwholesome, and certainly there is some amount of escapism at play, and of course the time I spend reading might better be spent beating back the tide of household entropy, but I find I do not particularly care.

What I do care about is how difficult it is to keep myself in reading material, and what little time I have with whatever characters I have grown attached to before the pages run out. It is so sad being a fast reader. On the other hand, I really do not have the brain for difficult reading at the moment, seeing as I am getting almost no sleep, so the solution is one of quantity, not density. So: can you suggest some books for me? Anything, really. Fiction or Non. It doesn’t have to be particularly literary, though it may be. Lately I have been reading mysteries, partly because they often come in a series and then I have several books with the same character, which is cozy and comforting to a fast reader, so if you happen to be fond of mysteries, I would love suggestions.

Maybe I can recommend things for you in exchange? I should get to sleep now, but let’s chat more about this in the comments in the morning.

{ 140 comments }

Thricely.

by Alexa on December 3, 2012

1. A tale of heroism!

As you might already know, my mother has moved home from Switzerland at last. When she left, I had zero children, and had published zero books. When she left, she’d never broken a single leg. It has been rather an eventful five years for both of us.

Anyhow, she bought a condo about three minutes from my apartment and is in the process of fixing it up. It is a fun, leisurely sort of process, as she hasn’t yet put her old house (where my brother and Jonathan still live as well) on the market. The condo is lovely, and so very beloved by both Simone and myself that it has prompted some covert research into Squatter’s Rights (only kidding, Mother!) (OR AM I??), and we have been spending a lot of time there.

A few weeks ago, my mother lost the key to the padlock on her condo’s storage locker. After an exhaustive search effort, she resigned herself to calling a locksmith, which would mean both dealing with strangers and paying for carelessness with money, two things that my mother dislikes immensely. As I’d been eating her cheese and drinking her wine and scattering children all over her gracious home, I felt that solving this particular problem for her was the least I could do, and so I promptly broke a paperclip into two pieces and headed downstairs to pick the lock.

I know how lock-picking works (though not, come to think of it, whether it ought to be hyphenated or is properly a single word): one pick piece is a little tension wrench, putting pressure on the turning part, while the other piece nimbly slides the pins or tumblers or whatever they are called out of the way. I had never done it before, but certainly my vague knowledge of the principles involved would be an adequate substitute for skill!

And so I shoved the one piece into the lock, and jiggled the other piece around inside, as one does. I had such confidence in myself, and was so looking forward to bragging about my accomplishment on Twitter. And I was honestly, legitimately, shocked when the lock refused to fall open. But I watch so much television! I have seen dozens of episodes of Leverage!
I had one exciting and dramatic moment when someone walked by on the way to their car and I had to hide my lock-picking tools and look nonchalant, but it was a thrill I did not earn.

Eventually I gave up, thoroughly disappointed in myself, but by then my competitive spirit had been aroused. I was making a Target run anyway, so I decided to buy a thing Google told me about called a Padlock Shim and try again. Only Target didn’t have a Padlock Shim. I went to the hardware store and asked if they had a Padlock Shim. They didn’t know what that was. I explained that it was for lock-picking, and they gave me a suspicious frown. I followed that up by asking about bolt cutters, and in the end they rented me a pair, roughly the size of Simone. Looking forward to the delighted surprise on my mother’s face, I drove back to the condo and marched the bolt cutters downstairs.

Now, if a thing is going to be called a “bolt cutter,” I am of the opinion that it should cut bolts. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but here Flotsam we (I) do not shrink from controversy. I feel strongly that a bolt cutter should be sharp and strong enough to do the work of bolt cutting, or else it should be called a Bolt Cutting Helper, or have some sort of notation that says “BOLT CUTTERS (Just Add The Strength of a Dozen Men).”

I opened the jaws and positioned them around the padlock, and…Huh. Hmmm. Well. Nope, not happening. By flinging the full weight of my body against the handle of the shears and resting there, I was able to muscle my way through the outer coating of silver metal to reveal a slim nick of inner, brassy metal, but this wasn’t really what I had in mind. It was like trying to garrote a particularly ropey-necked bodybuilder with a strand of dental floss. Happily, a fellow-resident saw me attempting to cut my way into a storage locker and, after deciding I wasn’t a threat (but the work of a moment, I am forced to conclude), came to my aid. By resting HIS full weight upon the handle of the useless implement, he was able to cut the padlock off in a flash of sparks—not, obviously, because he was stronger than me per se, but because he weighed more, and thus could lean more forcefully. I put on a new lock, marched upstairs with the pieces of the old one, manfully shouldering my bolt cutters, and allowed my mother to ply me with thanks and hors d’oeuvres. I was sore for DAYS afterward in the shoulder/wing area.

So, keep track of your keys to things, is the lesson here.

2. Vote NO.

I took Simone with me to vote, and after she got over the disappointment of not being eligible to win any elections herself (“But I want to win! When can I be the leader?”) (When you are 35 and meet the filing deadline and garner at least 270 electoral votes, young lady, that’s when), she was very interested in the whole thing. The nice Voting Ladies gave us a little table to sit at so that Simone could help me fill out the ballot, and I could lamely explain various ballot measures to her when she asked why we were filling in the little circle for No instead of Yes or vice versa. I was explaining the marriage amendment, and that I was picking no because I thought anyone should be able to get married, if they wanted to, and doing my little SOME PEOPLE HAVE TWO MOMMIES song and dance, and Simone piped up “But I don’t want ANYONE to get married!” and everyone turned to look at us, and I said “Well, that’s not one of the choices,” and reminded my daughter about no electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, and we got our sticker and went home to make cookies.

3. I think I really outdid myself on the costume, but the attitude is all her.

You may have already seen this picture elsewhere (I am here, on Twitter! And here, on Instagram!) and it is over a month old, but it is my favorite picture ever and so I am posting it here on this poor, neglected Web Log of mine, because if even one of you has missed it that is one person too many, as I’m sure you’ll agree:

{ 16 comments }

I Have Forgotten How This Goes.

by Alexa on October 8, 2012

It is suddenly cold and dark. The shift from summer to winter-ish is awfully abrupt here, and it has taken me by surprise, though I suppose it shouldn’t have, as we’ve made it all the way to the middle of October, somehow. Also, my new baby is fat and drooling and growing out of things, and my old baby isn’t a baby anymore at all, and soon they will both be entirely grown up, and THEN WE WILL ALL BE DEAD. To everything, turn, turn, etc.

We’ve all been sick, including Twyla, who took it rather hard. She is a dramatic baby. When Twyla smiles, she opens her whole mouth in a veritable parody of joy. When she is unhappy, she makes horribly sad faces and sort of…warbles mournfully, like a sick pigeon, or the pound dogs howling along to “No Place Like Home” in Lady and The Tramp. But she made it through her first illness, and now, should she ever record an album of Stevie Wonder covers played at half-speed, in an arrangement for cello, bassoon, and seagull, she has the album art all ready to go.
Strife

Because it is Simone’s last year before Kindergarten, it is our last year at her preschool, that marvelous, magical idyll dotted liberally with goats (there is a new one named Banjo!) and chickens and llamas oh my. I honestly think I’ll miss it almost as much as she will. (Would it be weird if I stopped by next year from time to time to wander about wistfully, rending my garments and reminding the children HOW FLEETING IS YOUTH! do you think? Probably.)

Anyhow, I am trying to soak it all up before it is over, and have been carefully curating the Last Year of Preschool Memorial Art Collection. Allow me to share two recent works:

Mama
The above, as any fool can see, is a portrait of me, in buttons, glue, and crayon on paper. Please note the two circles on either side of my fetching buttoned placket.
(“Those are her NEPPLES,” Simone explained loudly to her teacher, pointing them out to us.)

The next piece I admit to finding a bit baffling:

Math

Simone has confirmed that the three parts of this equation are a llama, wool, and a mitten, respectively, but how does a llama plus wool equal mitten? Wouldn’t a llama MINUS wool get one to knitwear more efficiently? Maybe what I am taking for a plus sign is actually a spinning wheel and the two parallel lines pre-mitten are knitting needles? Is this the New Math?

{ 28 comments }

TK.

by Alexa on July 9, 2012

It’s funny: even though I knew better, even though I’d followed along with dozens of soon-to-be-second-time-parents as they wondered how they could possibly love another child as much as their first, and then inevitably found all their fears on the subject unfounded, I was still shocked and relieved and thrilled to my bones to be smitten all over again with a whole new baby. Twyla Kay! 5 lbs, 15.9 ounces. Born at 2:52 p.m. on June 13th, more than three weeks ago.

Twyla Collage #1
She has a fuzzy head and a tiny mouth that runs through a whole repertoire of expressions (surprised! despairing! gleeful!) while she sleeps. I love her awfully. And, as anyone who has done this before could have predicted, my love for Simone remains undiminished–is, if anything, more acute. A neat trick, really. How on earth does that work?

Another surprise that ought not to have been: new babies are hard. I am ashamed to say that I was entirely unprepared for the rigors of our first two weeks home. Because, you see, THIS baby would have no oxygen tank or apnea monitor or medicines, and thus was going to be EASY! SO EASY! A cakewalk! As pie! Insert your own metaphoric language denoting facility!

By the time Simone came home I’d had three months to recover, both from my C-section and whatever postpartum hormonal swings might have assailed me–I honestly don’t know whether I had any hormonal wonkiness last time, because I had such legitimate reasons for emotional turmoil in the weeks after the twins’ birth, but this time…well. That was an experience. Also, being the mother of an infant has to rival pubescent boyhood in helpless, frustrated mammary preoccupation. Also, REFLUX. Again. Also, I’d forgotten that I’d get a whole different baby this time, not a carbon copy of the last one, not to mention that I’d still have the aforementioned last one hanging around, wanting food and entertainment and, you know, parenting.

Suffice it to say that all expectations to the contrary, this second newborn period–the one with no NICU and no fleet of home medical suppliers–was harder than the first. Harder than expected, but also better than expected, because did I mention how much I love this new girl of mine, right out of the gate? Just look what was waiting for me on the other side of those last long months of fear and nausea and muffled hope. Even my wildest dreams weren’t quite wild enough.

Twyla Collage #2

{ 119 comments }

T Minus One!

by Alexa on June 12, 2012

Mature! Unequivocally, finally, robustly mature.

It was not even close—Twyla’s lungs are basically sipping port and perusing a leatherbound copy of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Barring 11th hour catastrophe, the next thing I post will be a birth announcement…

{ 125 comments }

Reckoning.

by Alexa on June 11, 2012

My amnio is tomorrow morning—Tuesday, eight a.m. Full interpretation of the three different measures of maturity (L/S ratio, PG, DSL—they are not bothering with the rapid test) will take four or five hours. If the results show mature lungs, I am to report to the hospital Wednesday morning at 9:30 for an 11:30 C-section, and by noon Twyla will be BORN and SAFE(r) and FREE, FREE AT LAST.

If the results do NOT show mature lungs, well, there are several possible next steps, but most of them result in about another week of waiting, while my heart pounds and my brain drips discreetly out one ear.

To say I am nervous about the results of the amnio would be something of an understatement. These tests of maturity are designed to predict whether babies will have respiratory distress syndrome if delivered, and because there is an understandable desire to err on the side of caution when it comes to respiratory distress, they are designed to have a very high predictive value for maturity. In other words, if the test says “mature,” the chances of the lungs actually being IMmature is very, very small. The flip side of this is that, by erring on the side of caution in order not to miss a pair of immature lungs, a result that says “immature” is not terribly reliable. Lots of babies test immature when actually their breathing is just SWELL, thank you very much. I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but I think female 37-weekers (girls mature about a week-ish earlier than boys in this respect) have a substantially less than 5% chance of lung immaturity, but only TEST as mature at a rate of 70-80%.
Another factor is my extra fluid—all measures of lung maturity tend to be lower with polyhydramnios, but not necessarily due to actual functional immaturity. My doctor warned me that she sees a lot of immature results with polyhydramnios, and has sometimes delivered these babies right after the test for some other reason (the amnio starts labor, for instance) only to find that their lungs are functionally very mature.
I also have gestational diabetes, which is legitimately associated with delayed lung maturity, at least in insulin-dependent cases. Mine is diet controlled and I have had no abnormal blood sugar readings, so theoretically I should be fine. However, to account for the increased risk of respiratory distress syndrome among the babies of diabetic mothers, the lab requires diabetic mothers to have higher/better results than the babies of non-diabetic mothers in order to get the official “mature” designation.
The deck seems to be stacked against me, a bit.

BUT! The increased umbilical doppler resistance that is my primary medical indication for early delivery tends to lead to accelerated lung maturity (presumably because the baby figures that it had better get itself together in a hurry MAYDAY, MAYDAY) so I do have that in my favor. Plus Twyla is a girl, and as I mentioned, girls are often Fast. And I will be 37 weeks—many babies have mature lung tests even at 36, I am told. Also, on ultrasound, Twyla’s fluid was full of revolting schmutz (I guess it is bits of vernix? Whatever it is looked unsanitary, and she is going to need to be hosed down after birth, for sure), the presence of which doesn’t tell us anything definitive, but the lack of which is definitely associated with immature results. So, it could happen! Right? I could get a call tomorrow afternoon saying that everything is go for delivery on Wednesday? Of course I could! Please?

If you wouldn’t mind, could you send very emphatic mature lung—or mature TESTING lung—thoughts in my/Twyla’s/the laboratory at the University of Minnesota’s general direction? These thoughts should be as fervent as you can make them, and additionally you might feel free to direct some mental focus at the lab people interpreting the slides and the doctor reviewing the results and just generally toward everyone deciding to go ahead with delivery on Wednesday. I may actually go to the cathedral and light a candle, as is my (bizarre, I know, given my atheism) custom in dire situations, but you needn’t go that far. A murmured (or silent!) expletive, a chicken bone rattled surreptitiously under your desk—anything at all would be gratefully accepted.

I will also accept anecdotal tales of Lung Maturity Testing Results You Have Known. Searching the Internet is more infuriating than helpful in this case, because every time someone asks about this on a message board or similar, do you know what people do instead of ANSWERING THE QUESTION? They make snotty remarks wondering why the woman is delivering early in the first place, implying that the reason is probably golf/schedule/ignorance related, and making it clear that THEY, PERSONALLY, would never endanger their baby in this way—but then, that’s just the kind of Mother They Are. (Honestly, I would like to hang some of these women with sustainably sourced hemp nooses, really I would, and I say that as someone who falls on the crunchier end of the parenting spectrum.)

The point is, please think of us tomorrow. And now, here are some pictures from well over a week ago that already no longer accurately represent my vastness, including one of Simone forcing me to chase her, outdoors, in public, which I assure you was a memorable spectacle to witness, as I was essentially swathed in a parachute-sized bolt of fabric. (At least Scott thought it deserved memorializing, because he had his phone camera out in record time, though I imagine it was hard to keep it steady with all that laughing.) Unfortunately most of the chase pictures were faintly obscene, but this one isn’t so bad, while still giving a sense of the Heffalump-y quality of my pursuit.

35weeksMaxi

Godzilla
Until tomorrow…

{ 65 comments }

And Then the Wheels Came Off. *Updated*

by Alexa on June 3, 2012

Update:
Just back from appointment. Amnio a week from tomorrow at 37 weeks, and (pending results) delivery the next day! I will post the details later this afternoon, after a celebratory bagel and maybe some dancing, but needless to say I can’t possibly thank you all enough for your support. It made all the difference.
******

(First, a warning: This post is heavy on medical detail but light on explanation of medical terms. There is no reason you need to read it at all, obviously, but if you do, I apologize for any wear on your Googling muscle.)

My pregnancy history is not pretty. First multiple miscarriages, then a twin pregnancy complicated by stillbirth and preterm delivery. My perinatologists believe that Ames’ death was caused by clotting issues–he was small for gestational age and had a thin, weird umbilical cord with a placenta full of fibrin, and even Simone’s placenta was abnormally wee, about the size of your average 17-weeker’s. I also tested positive for beta2glycoprotein1 antibodies, which can make a girl abnormally clotty.

So, THIS pregnancy the plan was daily Lovenox injections and baby aspirin to help insure a well-behaved vascular system. In addition, said plan included a repeat c-section at 37 weeks.
Why, you ask?

—Previous stillbirth increases the risk of stillbirth 2 to 10 fold, depending upon various factors.
—My clotting disorder (Antiphospholipid syndrome) ALSO increases the risk of stillbirth (I am being treated with blood thinners, however my understanding is that the risk is still elevated).
—Stillbirth risks go up at the end of pregnancy.
—I have a well-documented anxiety disorder that was sure to find pregnancy-post-stillbirth more than usually trying.

I suspected (correctly), that having a more-than-viable baby inside me, ripe for the picking, would be nerve-wracking. 37 weeks–term–seemed a sensible compromise between my need to GETTHEBABYOUTALIVEASAP and my more rational desire to let the baby grow fat and healthy and fully to term. My doctors agreed that this was reasonable. I see a different doctor nearly every appointment, but I discussed it with several of them, and Lo, it was Good. I was informed that because of a hospital policy on scheduled deliveries before 39 weeks, I would have to have an amnio the day before to confirm lung maturity—despite the fact that amnios after 36 weeks for the purposes of assessing lung maturity have been shown by peer-reviewed sources to be pretty dumb—but fine. Whatever. We also had contingency plans in place: I would have weekly NSTs and BPPs starting at 30 weeks, and if the baby looked to be doing badly, I would be delivered. To address the risk of preterm labor, I would be on progesterone shots until 36 weeks to soothe the contractions that began plaguing me at about 15 weeks. However, my perinatologists do not stop labor after 34 weeks, so should those contractions begin to produce an actual cervix-letting-the-baby-out situation after that time, I would be whisked back for a c-section without fanfare.
I would have been absurdly grateful, obviously, for a baby born at 34 weeks, but was shooting for 36, at which point there is no mandatory NICU admission. Not that a week of NICU time would be so awful, but I wanted to see how the other half lived. I wanted to hold my baby right away and have it in the room with me in one of those lo-tech plastic tubs.

So that was the plan.

Sometime early in the third trimester, I began having odd visual auras—like a migraine aura, but without the headache. I hadn’t had any migraines during pregnancy, and maybe two in the six months preceding it, but these episodes (during which my vision was terrifyingly absent or obscured, leaving me largely helpless) were coming in clusters, several in a week, then maybe none in the next week, then several more. I was referred to a neurologist who was concerned based partly upon the fact that the episodes were lengthier than your average aura (not to mention my clotting disorder and family history of stroke). He wanted to order an MRI and some MRAs (what he actually said when discussing whether or not to do the MRI was “How would you feel if the MRI showed you’d had just a teeny, tiny stroke?” holding his fingers ever so slightly apart), but my pregnancy complicated this and anyway it was probably nothing, so he started by ordering a bunch of blood tests. My Sed Rate came back very high–but that can be normal in the pregnant. My ANA screen came back positive, though it had been negative when tested during my post-pregnancy work-up several years ago. This worried me, as a positive ANA can be associated with pregnancy loss, but at least the titer was low…until they repeated the test a week later, at which time the titer had risen precipitously. There started to be a lot of talk about autoimmune issues and postpartum blood thinners and seeing a rheumatologist after pregnancy. I started, as you can well imagine, to become just a little bit unhinged.

To give a summary: I had increased risks of stillbirth from both my previous stillbirth and my clotting disorder, and I’d been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (which also comes with a slightly increased risk of stillbirth), and then the autoimmune weirdness began, and eventually I went and developed borderline polyhydramnios–a small thing, but it seemed like small things kept accumulating, things that each increased my baby’s risk of mortality by a tiny increment.

The tipping point came last Wednesday, at my growth ultrasound. Twyla was measuring splendidly, and I chatted with the tech while she took measurements and checked the blood flow through the umbilical cord. Unfortunately, the umbilical dopplers showed reduced flow due to increased resistance—a level of 5, which is well above the 95th percentile and a significant risk factor for Bad Things, significant and Bad enough that they scared me, veteran Googler, right off the Internet in tears. My doctor had assured me that if the resistance increased more, to the point of absent flow, they would take the baby out immediately–you know, to prevent hypoxia or death–but I was terrified. How fast could it go from abnormal flow to absent flow? No one seemed to know, exactly. They switched me to twice weekly monitoring, but would twice-weekly be enough to catch it if something went wrong?

I made it 24 hours before I called and begged them to get me in for a recheck the next day. Luckily, the resistance had decreased—still much higher than normal, but better, and not in the greater-than-95% zone that gets mentioned most ominously in clinical studies. Alas my fluid, which had finally moved out of the polyhydramnios range as of Wednesday (down to 22), had increased in the intervening 48 hours to just over 29. (Among other things, polyhydramnios increases the risk of placental rupture or cord prolapse if one’s water breaks. Helpfully, it also increases the chances of your water breaking! Then there’s the fact that I’ve been contracting painfully and semi-regularly—as often as every 4 minutes for as long as 24 hours.) (Related: do you know how tired I am of contractions? SO TIRED.)

Wednesday’s appointment was also when I was supposed to schedule my c-section, but instead I was informed that they could not, in fact, schedule it for anytime before 39 weeks, amnio or no. Minnesota has a new state law regarding delivery before 39 weeks in the absence of medical necessity, and “necessity” is being rather narrowly interpreted. My doctor told me she had just called to schedule another patient for 37 weeks and been shot down, even after she took her case to the medical director, because OMG STATE LAW. She didn’t think there was any way I’d actually MAKE it to 39 weeks, so wasn’t scheduling me for then, either (though she recommended I forgo my final 36 week progesterone shot, just to help things along), but scheduling the procedure for anything earlier was now out of the question. Instead, I have to wait until I either go into labor, or something goes more, emergently wrong—i.e. one of my risk factors bears fruit. Never mind that the Minnesota statutory language doesn’t actually itself prohibit anything, instead directing hospitals to develop policies. Never mind that I’ve been contracting with no result for weeks, so I am not optimistic that I will go into progressively-cervix-changing labor any time soon, or that labor might not be such a swell idea for me anyway, given both the polyhydramnios and the blood thinners, which I have to be off for a certain amount of time before delivery (or else I’ll be put under general anesthetic, and I really, really want to be awake for the birth of my baby). Never mind that by the time routine testing turns dire, the baby may already be compromised, especially in cases of abnormal flow. Never mind that abnormal flow often indicates the same placental issues that beset my last pregnancy. Never mind that scheduled c-sections are safer than emergency c-sections, or that I actually have several of the conditions that appear on the Joint Commission’s list of medical indications for early delivery (PREVIOUS FETAL DEMISE! ANTIPHOSPHOLIPID SYNDROME!). Never mind my mental health, and the very real panic I am experiencing as I wait for this baby to be born, white knuckling it through one neverending day at a time. Never mind that the motivations for this policy are not exactly All About the Babies, but rather as much about reducing cost (morbidity is so much more expensive than mortality!), or that it is enormously insulting to women and doctors. Never mind that the group that first pushed for these “hard stop” policies regarding early term delivery has written a new paper that essentially says “Oops, it looks like people may be construing this a bit too strictly:”

Our concern is that a misinterpretation both of our policies and of the nature of our specialty’s opposition to purely elective early term deliveries may result in inappropriate reluctance to deliver women who are at risk for serious complications…How close must the blood pressure be to 160/110 mm Hg level to justify delivery at 37 weeks gestation or even before? How poorly controlled must the diabetes mellitus of a noncompliant patient be to justify delivery at 38 weeks’ gestation? In the absence of hard data to guide the clinician, physician judgment and informed consent will continue to play a major role in such cases.

No, never mind all that. The hospital administration is too spooked by the fact that this policy is now STATE LAW! to allow for scheduling me for delivery prior to 39 weeks.
And that was the occasion of my first full-on Ugly Cry in a doctor’s office.

I have a lot more to say about less-than-39-week hard stop policies in general and the legislating of them in particular, enough that I am writing a whole separate post on the subject. Please, if you want to debate the issue, or get stroppy about the plight of the poor 38-weeker, wait until that post to do so (and remember, too, that as the mother of a 25-weeker I am hardly insensible to the risks of prematurity). For now the issue is more immediate than philosophical. I am scared. I am angry too, but mostly I am scared in a very real way that my not-at-all-theoretical baby is going to die before she is delivered. It may not be logical, but it isn’t exactly ILLogical, under the circumstances, is it?

Tomorrow morning, Monday, I have another doppler check, BPP, NST, and my 36-week perinatologist appointment. I have no idea which doctor I’ll see–some I love dearly, some less so. Some enter not having read my chart, and a few I still haven’t met. I am going armed with every study and recommendation and so forth I can find, all printed and at the ready in my handbag. I fully intend to explain, calmly and pleasantly, my history and why I am so very concerned. I intend to advocate strongly for myself and my baby, and to ask for opinions and decisions in writing. I intend to pay visits to administrators if necessary. And if it IS necessary to visit these administrators who are so terrified of review committees and liabilities under EEK! STATE LAW, I fully intend to make it clear that the liability they should be worried about is that which will result if my baby dies in utero at say, 38 weeks, after I requested intervention that was deemed reasonable by my medical team and is indicated by published guidelines.

That is what I intend, but what I expect, alas, is different. I do not expect the appointment to go well. I expect to become flustered and lose every ounce of my reason and gumption and forget the measured arguments I intended to make. I expect to fold quickly, to shrink with embarrassment and pretend to be doing better than I am, so afraid am I of appearing crazy. I expect to leave feeling defeated and scared, and to cry on the way home. I expect this because that is what usually happens to me in these situations–I am reduced to a shred of myself, and I start to think about how neurotic I must seem, and maybe I am overreacting, and some part of me is determined to be liked and to seem cheerful and sane.
I’d like very much to exceed my own expectations.

It’s true–probably nothing will happen if I go all the way to 39 weeks. Probably everything will be fine. It’s just that right now, I don’t believe in probably, and it seems cruel to ask me to.

{ 126 comments }

Interior Views.

by Alexa on May 6, 2012

Last week I took Simone and Scott to a 3D ultrasound. Simone has been very excited about (and frequently impatient for) the upcoming arrival of Baby Twyla, but I think seeing the moving face of the actual baby I am housing helped make it less abstract for her. It certainly did for me.

Twyla at 31 Weeks

I mean, look! That is a real baby! MY baby. That face up there? Is INSIDE OF MY ABDOMEN.

Twyla 2Twyla 3

She looks SO like her sister in a few of these. A few remind me of my baby pictures, and I can definitely see Scott, but she doesn’t resemble either parent so much as she does Simone. Of course, she doesn’t look precisely like Simone, either. She is her own little person, which is such a strange, exciting thing to see.

Twyla 4Twyla Yawns

(We saw that yawn in real time!)

{ 51 comments }

Still Kicking.

by Alexa on May 2, 2012

I don’t know exactly why it has been so hard for me to post here—truthfully, it has been hard for me to accomplish much of anything—but I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that my emotional state is one that doesn’t bear close examination. I am buoyantly happy, but that happiness is stretched tautly over the surface of something else; I live mostly as though I am going to give birth to a live baby in 40ish days, but much as I want to be, I am not convinced that this will actually happen. It’s not that I think that it WON’T happen, only that I am not confident in its happening, can so easily imagine it Not Happening, and that is enough to be exhausting. The tension seems especially high now, when we are so close. I am trying to savor this last part of my last pregnancy, and mostly succeeding by moving forward as mindlessly as possible, and I suppose there is some willful blindness I have to adopt to do so that is harder to sustain in writing. Does that make sense?

Anyhow, here I am, at 30 and 31 weeks pregnant. respectively.
30Weeks
31Weeks
Both pictures were taken at the foothills of Mt. Laundry, yes, and in front of a streaky mirror, BUT! Our apartment has been painted! You can’t tell from those pictures, because all you really see is the doors and woodwork which are still white (along with the bathroom and kitchen), and also the pictures were taken on a phone, but the main areas (living room, hallway, etc.) are “Sweet Bluette” by Benjamin Moore and the bedrooms are “Sweet Dreams.” Both colors are a vast improvement over the dingy, sallow shade of “Landlord” everything was painted before. We have boxed up the majority of our books for storage, and have lovely new bookcases for the few hundred remaining. Furniture has been discarded, delivered, assembled, and rearranged, and in general the non-baby-related aspects of Operation: NEST! are proceeding apace. I still haven’t gotten up the nerve to purchase the items I need for the actual, you know, B-A-B-Y, but the bassinet is assembled, if mattress-less, so that is something.
I can’t wait until it is all done. I am going to take “After” pictures all over the apartment, like one of those “Pretty Things!” bloggers. I feel that having my home both beautiful and clean is an historic event, like an eclipse, or a shuttle launch, or the discovery of a new species, and demands extensive documentation.

My husband deserves some kind of award for everything he has done during this pregnancy. He has been a prince, and I shudder to think of the state I would be in if not for him. Every household chore? Performed by Scott. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, moving all furniture to the center of the rooms when informed by wife that THE APARTMENT MUST BE PAINTED OR WE WILL ALL DIE AND ALSO THE PAINTERS ARE COMING IN 48 HOURS? Scott, Scott, Scott, and Scott. During the first trimester I was too ill to leave the couch for months, and now I have days where I contract if I dare to be upright for more than a few minutes at a time, and he has waited on me and entertained Simone through all of it without a murmur of complaint; when I stumble out to the living room for my midnight leg and back massage, he has the grace and great good sense to appear happy to see me. We go out for brunch as a family, or lunch just the two of us while Simone is in school, and have so much FUN together—it may not sound earth shattering, but I assure you, the Scott of last year could not, would not, have handled this. Pregnancy aside, it is hard to believe I am married to the same person I was married to a year ago. That is a whole other entry, but trust me when I tell you that it is pretty astounding (inspiring, even) to see another person transform in such a purposeful, dramatic way as an adult. If I’d had the faith required to allow myself higher expectations–both for myself and others–a long time ago, I might have spared everyone a lot of misery and bother, but who knows. The point is: things are good. (And it is probably wise to have that written down for easy reference before New Baby Time, when sleeplessness and hormones are sure to blow everything sky high for a while.)

This will be obvious to those of you who have had third trimesters, but fetii look different on ultrasound at 30-some weeks than they do at, say, 25. Suddenly they’re all fat and smooshy, less like adorable animated skeletons and more like round baby humans. You can see their fat little arms and their fat little cheeks; I’ve probably got three and a half pounds of person in there now. Somehow, though, they still feel as though they are all bone, don’t they? All bone and FERAL, and maybe sharing cramped quarters with another of their kind—their mortal enemy, with whom they are engaged in a fight to the death. (Badger in a sack! I think every time she really gets going, It’s a badger in a sack!)
Twyla is a particularly active baby, which is good, as evidenced by the way I reacted the one day last week when she wasn’t particularly active (attempted to rouse baby, got no response, decided she was dead, was too afraid to use doppler, dressed for L&D while mentally preparing for series of excruciating scenarios helpfully provided by my brain, emerged from bedroom and calmly informed Scott that I had to go to the hospital because baby wasn’t moving, broke into violent torrent of weeping that could not be stopped, but had unexpectedly helpful effect of goading said baby from her nap into series of irritated kicks). However, this boisterous level of activity is not as charmingly painless as one might hope. I have had occasion to Google both “can fetus kick its way out cervix uterine rupture” and “how strong is amniotic sac?” The last time a nurse rattled off her customary “Since your pregnancy began, have you been hit, slapped, kicked, or otherwise physically hurt by anyone?” the question gave me pause, I’ll tell you what.

{ 44 comments }

How I Do Run On.

by Alexa on March 28, 2012

I am more pregnant than I have ever been. 26 WEEKS pregnant. Soon I will enter a whole foreign trimester. Some of it will feel familiar to me, having been so very, very vast last time, with twins and all (in many ways, it’s been the second trimester that felt new this time), but still. This baby is older than Simone was when she was born. Screw pregnancy newsletters; I can look at Simone’s BABY PICTURES and get a reasonable idea of what Twyla looks like in utero at any given gestation from now on.

(Yes. Her name is Twyla. I let that slip on Twitter the other night. When I’m feeling particularly pleased and hopeful, I call her Twyla the Tenacious.)

The new season of Mad Men premiered Sunday night, and it sent me into something of a tailspin to realize that (customary caveat applied) by the time the season ends, I will have a new baby. A baby in my home, a baby who is a couple of weeks old, even.
Do you know how SHORT a season of Mad Men is? I do, because I complain about it every time. AND YET! When the last episode airs, I will probably be watching it while NURSING, or something.

On the one hand, it can’t come soon enough for my get-the-baby-out-alive-anxiety, but on the other…I have SO MUCH to do before that season finale airs.

I know—all a baby really needs is a boob and a clean, de-splintered drawer to sleep in, blah blah blah. This is only partially about the actual baby. We’d been dithering until about a week ago about moving, and have at last decided to stay in our apartment at least another two years. The location is really impossible to improve upon, and while it still KILLS me not to have any outside space, well, we can GO outside, and by staying here and saving we have a better chance of buying a house we really love down the line. However:
1) We have been treating this place as temporary for almost four years now (have yet to really put up any pictures, for instance), which is hardly conducive to the happy, home-y, settled feeling I am desperate for, and
2) It has gotten unacceptably grime-y (the ceiling fan blades! The windows and baseboards!) and messy (Hoarders Lite, over here).
The plan, then, is that instead of starting fresh elsewhere, we will make this place clean and lovely and more like a home. As I said, the apartment has gotten filthy in hard-to-reach-but-easy-to-be-horrified-by places, it is time to DECORATE, already, and we are seriously in need of a purge of our belongings. We are finally getting permission to paint and there is furniture that must be replaced and a room that needs to turn from Office back into Child’s Room and I have honest to god SPREADSHEETS detailing the million tasks that must be completed within the next Mad Men season because yes, it needs to be done before the baby comes. Do not tell me that it doesn’t all have to be done before the baby comes, because I WILL CUT YOU. This project is making me crazy, but it is also the only thing keeping me sane. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it is true.
You see, I have a viable baby inside me. I do NOT want that viable baby to come out early—we got so lucky with our outcome last time it seems certain we wouldn’t be again, and besides, I am quite enchanted with the idea of delivering a great big 37-weeker that I can hold the very same day—but I am excruciatingly aware of said baby’s viability, and my uterus’ murder-y history with babies, and the thought of having a healthy 30-some-weeker snuffed out by some unseen malfunction is never far from my mind. I can’t do anything but trust my doctors and hope for the best, on that front, so you can bet your ASS I am going to get this apartment whipped into shape in the next 11 weeks.

I thought I might do some Before-and-After-ing here, on this old Website of mine, but the Befores would be so, so bad—no really, so bad—that I suspect it would just be a repeat of the time I posted this entry and received hate mail for MONTHS. Worse, because sorting is already in progress, so in some cases the Befores would just be pictures of boxes and piles. (I apologize for how unintentionally filthy that last sentence was, by the way.) I promise to show you the finished product at my customary tedious length.

Scott will be doing most of the actual, physical work, because my uterus can’t seem to tolerate more than 10 minutes of activity before going AWOOGA! AWOOGA! and dissolving into panicked contractions. I did manage to sort through most of Simone’s baby clothes the other day, which led to the conclusion that we do not need any more, at least for the first six months. Which is good! but also makes me feel horribly guilty because it means poor Twyla will always be wearing hand-me-downs. I found this far more upsetting than I suspect any reasonable person would.

My emotions have been volatile. There has been a lot of weeping, but not necessarily for any specific/rational/explicable reason. On Monday I started crying as I left for Simone’s spring conference, because…I’m not sure. The closest I could figure was that it was because Scott had class and couldn’t come with me, and also I hadn’t slept well the night before, and also I wanted a piece of cake but wasn’t allowed.

I wasn’t allowed cake, incidentally, because I failed my one hour glucose tolerance test so spectacularly that I don’t even get to attempt the three hour. I passed the one hour with ease in the first trimester, and thought I had dodged that particular bullet this time, but nope! I’ve only gained a total of three pounds all told (hard to believe given my magnificent prow), so lord knows I can’t blame it on that, and I wasn’t more than slightly zaftig to begin with. I’ve been checking my blood sugar since getting the news, and every reading has been scrupulously normal (even the one taken after a celebratory meal of takeout penne and mango sorbet), so apparently the only thing that causes my blood glucose to rise to unacceptable levels is that godawful drink of theirs. Of course when I reported to the diabetes clinic yesterday I got the same lecture they gave me last pregnancy, about how I need to eat more (the GD diet, believe it or not, asks that one consume a tremendous amount of food). I tried not to become too exasperated but suspect I failed, because I am still on round-the-clock Zofran, and LADY, I AM JUST HAPPY I AM MANAGING TO EAT AT ALL.

Can I point out, as long as we’re on the subject, the absurdity of having this not eating/gaining enough problem after spending the last two-plus years salivating over food I couldn’t have because I was trying to lose weight while locked in battle with my damn thyroid? And no matter how I changed my “calories in/calories out” equation (DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED) I kept right on gaining—20 pounds in the six months before I got pregnant! And now I eat whatever I please (including this awfully sinful macaroni and cheese from a local restaurant that I eschewed for years out of virtue) and am about as active as your average ficus, and I am being sighed at by nutritionists.

In other news (unless you follow me on Twitter, in which case this is not news at all), we had a bit of excitement Thursday night, in the form of Baby’s First Trip to L&D.

Despite the weekly 17-P injections, I contract a lot: my pattern has been sporadic contractions throughout the day, and an uptick with activity. I get my shot every Monday morning, and by the weekend it must be wearing off, because my contracting become noticeably more regular—my response to which has been to spend Sunday afternoons in bed with a heating pad and a contraction timing app, guzzling water and waiting out the hours until my next shot. (You may remember that I started the 17-P injections almost solely as a precaution, because of uterine irritability, but with the strong, increasing contractions it looks as if we can say that my preterm shenanigans last pregnancy were likely not entirely due to Ames’ death after all.) One particularly alarming Sunday netted me a cervical ultrasound, but it showed no shortening or funneling or anything untoward, suggesting that these contractions of mine are more bark than bite. General policy since has been that as long as they don’t stay regularly in excess of six an hour with water, rest, and heat, I needn’t do anything about them beyond limiting my activity as necessary. (The stairs to our third story apartment are a particularly notorious culprit.) The extent of this limit is vague (“don’t go on any long walks” being a recent guideline), so I let my uterus be my guide. Alas, the farther along I get, the more badly my uterus behaves, and on Thursday I had several hours with more than six contractions. They were irregular in intensity but coming about three minutes apart when I sped off to triage.

The triage desk is just inside the entrance to the birth center on the way to the NICU, and standing there, signing all the forms that would allow them to care for Twyla should she happen to make an appearance (all the while mindful of the fact that I was only about three days, gestationally, from when Simone was born) made me ill. I kept tearing up and raced through the paperwork as quickly as I possibly could. I am certain my signatures were entirely illegible.
(Of course, everything was FINE, and I probably could have waited a bit before getting so verklempt, but as I have mentioned, the logical parts of my brain don’t seem to be operating at full capacity lately.)
In the room I shimmied into a familiar abdominal ace-bandage to hold the monitors and donned a gown. A nurse came in and positioned one disk to monitor contractions and one to monitor heartbeat, and I felt that odd mix of hope that there would be no more contractions and hope that there would be a few and that they would show up on the strip. Those of you who have dealt with preterm labor are doubtless familiar with this—obviously, you don’t WANT to be having contractions, but because it can be hard to pick up early contractions on the monitors, it’s difficult not to feel both desperate (because you are scared, and KNOW there are contractions, and want them to be taken seriously) and embarrassed (because if the contractions don’t show up, everyone will think you are crazy and paranoid and will be secretly eye-roll-y back at the nurses station). After a bit of adjusting, my contractions showed up, but happily there were not many of them, though there was a lot of background wiggly uterine irritability on the strip. The contractions themselves looked like gently sloping hills, and I remembered the mountainous peaks they were during actual labor with Simone, and wondered, again, how on EARTH I stood that every 3 minutes for 16 hours.

The nurse gave me a dose of Vistaril and then a shot of Terbutaline which: OW. Burny. It was remarkably effective at stopping the contractions—I only had three in the hour-and-a-half I was there post-shot—but I wasn’t fond of the Terbutaline, and have no interest in seeing it socially. I vehemently disapproved of the unwholesome jitters it imparted, and when combined with the Vistaril, the result was a paradoxical caffeinated bonelessness. A small price to pay, and all that, but it’s a good thing the nurses warn you about the “did I do a large quantity of cocaine and then forget about it?” effect, because otherwise I imagine a person would assume they were in dire need of a cardiologist and possibly a notary for thier living will.

The fetal monitoring portion of my stay was a pleasant surprise. You see, SOME babies, in the past—I won’t name any names—became quite testy and uncooperative at the first whiff of a monitoring session. SOME babies made a fleet of poor, overworked nurses drop everything every 90 seconds or so to chase after their heart rate, three hours a day, for weeks. Twyla, despite being the most active baby I have ever harbored, was much more cooperative than a certain (as I said, unnamed) one of her predecessors.

The worst part of the visit was the cervical check. Now, these are never pleasant, and always involve me assuming a vulnerable position (legs bent and spread, fists balled under ass as requested to give “better access”) while a nurse does an unspeakably painful Hand Jive inside my vagina. This time, though, was something special. The head of the bed—which was elevated—suddenly gave way, sending me crashing downward with someone else’s digits inside of me. The good news is that my cervix was nice and closed. The bad news is—did you READ that?

Anyhow, while they were up there they did a fetal fibronectin test (a positive got me admitted at 24 weeks last time) and it was, blessedly, NEGATIVE, which gives me something like a 95% probability that I will NOT deliver within the next two weeks. Huzzah for third trimesters!

My, this has been a whiny post, hasn’t it? Why so whiny, lucky still-pregnant girl? This last complaint, at least, is actually a plea for help:
I will give all my riches (about $117 at present) to whomever can cure me of my horrible, panic-attack-inducing Restless Spirit Leg.

Every night, I fall asleep only to wake a short time later with the most horrible feeling in my legs and sometimes more of me. “Restless,” though, doesn’t convey just how awful it is: it is a physical feeling, but I am also panicky, and feel I need to get out of my own self IMMEDIATELY—Akathisia, you know. I flex my muscles over and over and finally stumble out to the living room, sniffling pathetically, to lay on the couch while Scott massages my legs. I also take a Klonopin, which helps immensely but makes me wring my hands and feel like I am a bad mother even to the unborn, despite the fact that I KNOW it’s a low dose and there is no research saying anything damning about it in the 2nd trimester, and that last time after Ames had died they had me on benzodiazepenes for my Grieving and everything was FINE. Still. The doctors in my practice don’t all agree about benzos in pregnancy and so I’d avoided them until now. Almost without fail, after the leg massage and Klonopin I am able to return to sleep without further incident.

Further information:

–Taking the Klonopin before I try to sleep does not stop the Restless Spirit Leg from occurring.
–I have long since stopped taking Unisom, because antihistamines make Restless Leg worse.
–I AM mildly anemic (hemoglobin 10-point-something, down from 12 in 1st trimester), which I have heard could-possibly-maybe-but-maybe-not be a factor, HOWEVER I can’t take iron supplements. I am already bunches of Colace for the Zofran, and I tried a supposedly not-as-constipating form of iron supplement (gluconate? can’t remember) about a week ago and the resulting situation was so bad that I am not prepared to talk about it on this public Website.
–I ate a banana before bed last night, having vaguely remembered something about THAT helping, and no luck.

Seriously, if one of you can rid me of this affliction I will give you any of my cats you like! Your choice! Please!

If you don’t have any Leg ideas, maybe you could tell me your best Hormonal Pregnancy Meltdown story? Last time I was pregnant enough to get to the Sudden Onset Weeping stage I had actual things to weep about, so it is very weird to find my emotions swinging wildly out of control over nothing or in ways (clinging to spouse, nesting) that remind me that I am, in point of fact, an animal. An animal that needs windows that aren’t so dirty they make her want to DIE and also to find just ONE COMFORTABLE SLEEPING POSITION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

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Hey, have you seen what I’m wearing? It’s new:

Viable

I call it VIABLE BABY.

{ 118 comments }

Things and Such.

by Alexa on February 9, 2012

—Simone turned FOUR yesterday, you may have noticed. We are having a big party this weekend, and you can expect quantities of pictures and maybe some weepy maternal sands-through-the-hourglass-of-time talk to follow. FOUR! FOUR?

—This pregnancy is taking place almost exactly four years after my last one, only behind by a month and a half, and it is odd to be pregnant during another presidential election year. I now firmly associate watching primary coverage with pregnancy, and suspect I’ll come over all nostalgic in 2016. Maybe I’ll feel phantom kicks every time I see an electoral map?

—Speaking of, I am finally starting to feel the baby move daily. Not a lot, or consistently, but it is helping my anxiety to become more a whirr than a roar.

—I have had more energy and been in a much improved mood ever since Chinese New Year on the 23rd, so I am giving all the credit to The Year of The Dragon. It is said to be particularly lucky. After last year, The Year of The Crying Woman, I am fully prepared to enjoy the spit out of it.
(I don’t actually believe in such things, but this would be such a happy, convenient belief that I am trying to will it into existence.)

—19 weeks!

—My actual delivery date will depend upon a lot of things, but it will definitely be before the end of June. Now that it is February, June does not sound nearly as far away as it used to. I can’t make up my mind whether this relative closeness is a relief or a cause for panic. Both?

—Gestationally speaking, Simone was born about six weeks from now. HOLY HOLY, you guys.

—With the twins, I had pelvic bone separation, a painful condition that makes walking, putting on pants, or attempting any movement that requires the lifting of one leg without the other excruciating. To my surprise and extreme annoyance, it started much earlier this pregnancy, and I wince and waddle everywhere I go. I am now in physical therapy as a result, and actually quite enjoy it, mostly because this therapy takes place in a warm pool. The one problem is that exercising in water is misleading. It feels as though you aren’t doing much of anything at all, but your muscles beg to differ later on. Worst of all is that upon getting out of the water you rediscover gravity, and are transformed into a you-sized quantity of Ununoctium. Usually I can barely hoist my way up the stairs and out of the pool, where I find everything that had stopped hurting when weightless has taken up bothering me again with redoubled effort.

—Last time after my session I was in so much pain that traversing the parking garage to my car took geological time, and brought me nearly to tears. I had to pick up a prescription before going home, and I’d been counting on also picking up some of my new favorite thing in the whole world, namely Haagen-Daz Pineapple Coconut ice cream. Alas, when I’d finally shuffled my way to the ice cream aisle, I discovered they didn’t have any. That, I am ashamed to say, brought me the rest of the way to tears.

—If you haven’t had Haagen-Daz Pineapple Coconut ice cream, you should just skip the rest of this post and go find some. Here is the flavor’s official page, with a place at the bottom to punch in your zip code and locate the nearest store stocking it. Go there now.

—I’ve had a cold, which did disgusting things to my throat, thus acting as a trigger to my gag reflex, and the night before last, Scott and I were stricken with a dramatic and cleansing bout of food poisoning.
HOWEVER, aside from these temporary setbacks, I have been spending much less time on the bathroom floor in the last weeks. I’m not yet able to wean my Zofran dose, but I am feeling leagues better, in sharp contrast to my last pregnancy, when I actually got worse around this time—possibly because I was already gigantic and consuming anything at all presented an organizational challenge (I was measuring full term when I delivered, and that was in the second trimester). So far this pregnancy I’ve had terrible nausea with very little vomiting, followed by improved nausea with lots more vomiting, and now, at last, rare(!) vomiting with nausea that sometimes disappears altogether, as long as I take my meds. I can enjoy food now, provided it is the perfectly right food consumed at the exactly right time in the precisely correct quantity. Those conditions are demanding, yes, but when they align, it is GLORIOUS. At my last appointment I had finally moved the scale a pound over my pre-pregnancy weight! (Though I’ll bet the vomitous fiesta of the past few days has undone all my good work.)

—Given my lack of weight gain so far, I would like very much to know where my body is getting the extra materials to construct new edifices: I have a belly in the strangers-feel-free-to-comment category, and what’s more, my bosom has developed a horrifying case of gigantism. As I recall, my 19 week bra size was as nothing compared to my postpartum size last time, and I have now progressed to an F/G, as in FFS, what am I Going to do when my milk comes in? I mean honestly. Will upright locomotion even be possible?

—I’ve been having contractions since about 16 weeks, and after a week of this they checked my cervix, which was still appropriately long and closed. (Of course it was also curvy and oddly situated enough to inspire interested murmurs, as per usual.) Long cervix or no, the contractions rather terrify me, if you want to know the truth, and all the uterine irritability has earned me weekly 17P shots for the duration. I think the contractions have lessened quite a bit since I started the injections, but it is possible I am imagining things, as it has only been two weeks.
My doctor had originally decided I wasn’t a candidate for the 17P, and I was on my way out when another doctor, who’d seen my chart, decided to amend the plan. Her thinking was as follows: When I came in at 22w2d last pregnancy, I was having contractions and my cervix was soft. That was when we found out Ames had died, and the contractions and such were attributed to that. You know the rest of the story—contractions continued, cervix shortened, water broke at 24 weeks, labor at 25 and 5. While there is no reason to think that Ames wasn’t the reason for everything, the fact is that I still presented with contractions and a soft cervix at 22 weeks and progressing preterm labor with cervical changes afterwards, and here I was this time at 17 weeks with contractions, so better safe than sorry.
Funnily enough, they won’t let you give the injections yourself, even though it is essentially a once-a-week version of PIO. I discovered this because my insurance won’t pay for a nurse to come and give me the shot, as is usually done, so I have to go into the clinic once a week—which is fine! But attempting to make things easier I offered to just do the shots myself, and the nurse looked at me like I was crazy.
“You can’t!” she said, “It’s not like Lovenox—these have to be given with a bigger needle, in your backside.” I assured her that I was well aware of that, that in fact I’d given myself eight weeks of daily intramuscular progesterone post-IVF, but she only looked more horrified and unconvinced, so I dropped it. I’m pretty sure I came across as some sort of deviant sharps enthusiast.

—I’d just like to point out, again, how truly inept my body is at pregnancy. It regurgitates its nutrients and thickens its blood, and then its joints slip apart and its child-bearing organ nervously contracts at the slightest provocation. With a bit of help from medical technology and/or pharmacology (and this time the help was only secondary, the result of chemical prodding for an apathetic thyroid), my body makes perfectly lovely, healthy babies…and then immediately sets about trying to kill them. It seems vexingly contrary. I hope the 12 weeks of progesterone suppositories, 20 weeks of 17P, daily Lovenox injections, baby aspirin, etc. etc. MY GOD etc. will be enough to appease it this time.

—If you follow me on Twitter you know this already, but at an ultrasound a week or so ago we found out that the baby is really and truly a girl. We are pretty excited, over here. Another thing you may have seen on Twitter is an ultrasound photo—a very alarming and ghostly-looking ultrasound photo that I assure you was an extremely charming and adorable ultrasound MOMENT, during which my newest daughter yawned widely:

Yawning

I know. A little chilling at this time of night, but if you check again in the daylight I think you’ll find she’s pretty cute.

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0, 1, 2, 3, 4.

by Alexa on February 8, 2012

Birth Day

What?

DSC_0284

Three

Fourth

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