Friday, October 31, 2008

Hap-Bee Halloween


And guess what else? This is my 100th post of the year. Don't I get a party or something? Monogrammed toothpick holder? Crystal clock? Anything?

If I had my way, I would write something deeply thought-provoking and reflective. But, uh, I have 15 pages of thesis left to write, and unfortunately that takes precedence. So unfortunately, you'll have to make due with the above-pictured cuteness.

I can't wait to have my life back, seriously.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cute Kid Anecdote (Because I'm Up to My Neck in Thesis Junk and Can't Think of a Real Post)

Did you ever not realize how much you repeat a word, phrase or sound until you hear your kid say it back to you? One minute it's indistinguishable babble, the next minute they're walking around the house yelling "Motherf**ing son of a b*tch!" Ah, they grow up so fast.

Just kidding.

But it's funny, what they hear when you don't think they're listening. We have a snack cabinet in the kitchen where we keep, among other foodstuffs, Gerber Li'l Crunchies, Goldfish Crackers and those Biter Biscuits, which we refer to as "cookies" for the sake of simplicity.

Last night, the Munchkin pointed to the cabinet and started saying something I couldn't understand. I took a guess.

"I bet you're looking for some Crunchies," I said.

"Crunchies!" she said.

"No, no more Crunchies today," I said. "It's almost time for night-nights." Then I braced myself for The Whining.

But instead, she placed a finger alongside her cheek, as if thinking really hard, and kind of cocked her head to the side.

"Hmm," she said. "How 'booouuuut...fish crackers?" (pronounced "feesh KA-kooz.")

"Er, no...no fish crackers," I replied, raising an eyebrow.

This didn't deter her, either. "How 'booouuuut...cookies?" she asked.

"Um....nope, the cookies, um...had to go night-night," I said. Meanwhile I'm thinking, holy crap, this is the most logical conversation we've ever had.

And at that point I busted out laughing, so she just kind of shrugged and went on her merry way. But I never realized how much I say, "How abooouuuuut...." when I'm searching for lunch options, playtime options, tantrum-distraction options, etc.

Turns out, I say it a lot. I also say plenty of other less-cute things that I'm hoping she won't pick up on. But clearly, I should not underestimate her.

I'm sure she'll be dropping the F-bomb in no time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weighty Issues

At my OB appointment this week, I learned that I've gained ten pounds in the last six weeks. Makes me feel really good about myself (she wrote, her words dripping with sarcasm).

While perusing the magazine rack at Target today, I saw a copy of FitPregnancy and decided to give it a shot. Figured they might have some good recipes, maybe a few safe workouts, keen advice on how I could, perhaps, have one scoop of ice cream instead of four, that kind of thing.

Then, on the way to the register, I also saw an enormous bag of Halloween candy. Milky Ways, Snickers and Three Musketeers. I mean, that's the Halloween Trifecta. All you need is some Reese's Peanut Butter cups and you have yourself the, um,...quadra-gasm?

That's all I bought. An issue of FitPregnancy and a bag of 52 candy bars. And I wasn't even planning to be ironic today.

I'm so screwed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm Taking My Nethers Elsewhere, Thank You

Shortly after I got married, I took a job as a newspaper advertising executive, a job that often required me to caddy various "consultants" around in my car so that we could visit my innocent mom-and-pop-store clients and offer suggestions on how we might weasel more money out of their pockets.

I've never felt like a bigger tool.

Anyway, it was during one of these little road trips, with one such consultant, that I first understood why military health insurance looks so good to the untrained observer. During some painfully awkward small talk, I mentioned that my husband was in the Navy.

"The Navy, huh?" the consultant said. I'm pretty sure her name was Barbie. Seriously. "So, you must have pretty good health insurance."

"Yup, it's pretty good," I said. I was enrolled in the highest tier, the one with the virtually no out-of-pocket expenses.

"How much do you pay for your prescriptions?" she asked. I want to go back and smack myself upside the head when I think about this now, because I was too naive to figure out that this was none of her effing business. But I digress.

"They're free."

"Any co-pays?"

"Nope."

"Ah," she said. "I see where my tax dollars are going now. So basically, I'm paying for you to have your next five babies, huh? Is that how it goes?"

Ah, I love being stereotyped by a stranger. Suck it, Barbie.

Cost-wise, yeah, we have great insurance. But it's not all it's cracked up to be. I don't get to pick my own doctors. For hospitalizations, I have to go to a military hospital as long as there's one within 40 miles. I need referrals for everything. If I get sick, sure, I can see the doctor.

Eventually. Same-day visit? What's that?

When I read that the military hospital here in VA delivers over 350 babies a month, I started asking for some honest opinions about the facility's maternity ward. The results? Less than encouraging. Downright frightening, in fact.

After reading some horrible reviews, tales of nurses who stepped on IV's and mothers who didn't get to see their babies until eight hours after delivery, I said to myself, "Self, you're the one having this baby. You're the one who has to shove a human out of an impossibly small opening. Do you really want to be worrying about the kind of care you're going to get before you even arrive?"

Self said, "No." I switched my insurance the next day. Less comprehensive in terms of cost, but much more freedom of choice.

So for at least the next year (they punish your betrayal by locking you out for a year), I'll be paying deductibles, prescription fees and co-pays like a normal person. I'm not worried. Plus, if turns out to be a massive pain in the ass, I can always switch back.

I mean, hey, I still have three babies to go, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We'll Make it Better, The 2nd Time Around

I ran into my next-door neighbor today, who, along with his wife, is on his fifth day of parenthood. I congratulated him for surviving this long.

"How are you both doing?" I asked.

"Good...but she's having a lot of trouble nursing. She says it really hurts," he replied.

"I feel her pain," I said. And I really do. Nothin' says "This ain't What I Expected" like pulling bits of ravaged skin off your poor nips after a shower. "Please tell her to call me if she needs anything," I said. "Even if she just wants someone to sit with her while she gets him latched on."

"She finally broke down and gave him a couple of bottles," he said. "Now she feels like she's a bad mom. Like she's letting him down and not doing a good job."

Failure. Bad mom. Letting the baby down. Oh, it all sounded so familiar. I almost forgot.

Almost.

I almost forgot how much pressure I put on myself in those early days of motherhood. I almost forgot how I cried before, during and after every feeding because it hurt so much. How I felt like something was wrong with me, because I spent so much time begging my baby to shut up, shut up, just please shut up instead of basking in the joy she was supposed to bring.

And here I am, about to do it all over again because I couldn't keep my pants on always knew that I wanted to bring another child into this world, even during those midnight feedings while I nursed her in front of our Christmas tree thinking, "Y'know, this'd be a really nice moment if my hair didn't smell like sour milk."

I think on some level, I see this baby, my new daughter, as a chance to redeem myself. Does that sound selfish? I don't know. I just know that with the Munchkin, I felt out of control a lot of the time. I never hurt her, of course, but there were times when it took everything in me not to.

And even then, I sometimes let my foot slip off the edge of the cliff - I'd grab her arm a little harder than I meant to, or I'd throw up my hands and yell, "What the f**k is wrong with you?" when she screamed. Because, y'know, yelling back at an infant is a perfectly logical and effective course of action.

It pains me to admit these things, even now.

In retrospect, I really needed some help. I don't know if I had full-blown PPD, but I think I fell somewhere in that gray area between baby blues and postpartum depression. If I start to feel that way again with this baby, you can bet your Zoloft I'll be camping out at my doctor's office.

I won't feel ashamed this time. Because I want to be the kind of mother she deserves - that both my girls deserve - right from day one. Sure, there will be screwups and accidental-clipping-of-the-fingernails-too-close and feelings of wretched inadequacy. I don't expect it to be an easy move, going from one to two.

But this time, I know that I? I am not perfect. I don't have to be. I just have to do the best I can. That's really all any mom can do, really.

And that's enough.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Sixth of the Sixth

Tag! I'm it!

PsychMamma tagged for this fun little meme, and for that I am forever grateful. Because I had nothing to write about today. Here are the rules: take the sixth photo from your sixth album and post it with a brief description, the story behind it, an explanation for why you are blindfolded and wearing fluffy pink handcuffs...

Wait. Wrong album.

Here's my sixth of the sixth:



This is a photo of the Munchkin, around 5 months old, with my college roomate's daughter (a proud member of that scandalous blog). I desperately needed some adult conversation in those crazy days (er...wait...I still do), so when she called and said she was coming to visit, I did backflips in my kitchen until I pulled something.

It's amazing to look at this photo and see how far they've both come. You think they're never going to grow up. And then suddenly, they do.

Let's see...who to tag...eeny, meeny, miney, these people - all of whom have great blogs on which I lurk constantly and forget to comment. Will try to work on that:

On the East of Eden

DysFUNctional Mom

Sassafrassery

Teachbroeck

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Speaking of How Everything I Do Ends in Disaster...

I've never been an overly religious person, but I think God might be speaking to me. I believe He is saying, "You should not ever leave the house, woman!"

I took the Munchkin to the Norfolk Botanical Garden last week, mainly to give her a change of scenery and to possibly let her terrorize a few tourists. They happen to have a special children's garden there, so it seemed like a perfect way to blow off some energy in time for a good, long nap.

That's what mornings are for, right? Wearing them out so that Mommy can have some quiet time? Maybe a martini, if she were not pregnant?

Anyway, since we found the place more or less deserted, I let her run all over the place - on the paths, off the paths, over the rivers and through the woods. She laughed, babbled and screamed at the top of her lungs, just because she could.

As we were walking through a special section of the children's garden that houses plants indigenous to the African desert (or something like that), I let the Munchkin wander off the path to get a closer look at some of the pretty flowers. One of the plants had golf-ball sized red berries on it. Pretty cool, to a little kid.

As she reached out to touch one of the berries, I took a closer look at the plant. Hmm, I thought, it kind of looks like a cactus.

And just as that thought worked it's way through the muck of my brain, before I could utter a single word of warning, the Munchkin stumbled a little. Then she froze with her arms out to the side, butt sticking out as if she were getting up from a chair.

"Stuck.....stuck....stuuuuuck!!" she cried, her voice rising a pitch each time as if to say, "Badness! Badness all over!!"

Every mom knows the difference between the fake-hurt cry and the really-hurt cry. This was definitely the latter.

I ran to her and started to check her over as her tears started to flow. Sure enough, on the back of her pants, I found a cluster of half-inch cactus needles stuck in the fabric. Gah.

I picked them out one at a time, doing my best to comfort her while sticking myself at the same time (passersby probably heard something to the effect of, "It's okay, honey, Mommy will get the - OW! Mother f**ker these things hurt! Don't worry, baby, it's just a little - GAH! God dammit!").

When I had removed all the needles, I yanked her pants down to check her skin.

She had a whole clump of needles in her left butt cheek.

Seriously? Seriously. I was just trying to have a fun morning and do something different. Is that so wrong?

My poor kid. Needless to say, she was not pleased. I placed her back in her stroller and then hauled ass out of there, stopping at the front gate to say something nasty about what-the-hell-is-a-cactus-doing-in-the-children's-garden. Something that I'm sure left all the staff members calling me a heinous bitch.

At any rate, she survived with no ill effects (although I did worry that she might wake up from her nap with oh, I don't know, blue skin or something). I, on the other hand, am completely traumatized. First the turkeys, and now this?

Sigh. My kingdom for a whole freaking bottle glass of wine.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Love You More, Baby

Today, clear as a bell, the Munchkin said, "Love you, Mommy."

Oh. My. God.

Oh, the sweetness. Today I don't remember a thing from yesterday morning. And the swim lessons? Going great. Don't recall a single tantrum.

I bitch a lot. I know this. Some days I'm quite certain that everything I do ends in disaster. But today was just one of those days when I believed and understood, with my whole heart, that this? This motherhood thing?

Totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Would Like to Start Day Over, Please

8:30 AM: Prepare for swim class. Attempt to put child in Li'l Swimmy instead of regular diaper and get kicked in chest.

9:30-9:50 AM: Swim class. Which goes, well, about how I expect. Except with more screaming and crying. And this time, child's crying creates evil chain reaction that leaves all kids in tears.

9:52 AM: Teacher ends swim class early. Exits pool to go bang her head against wall.

10:30 AM: Depart for playground to partake in some pre-lunch festivities. Decide to take along Dora tricycle. Because I'm trying to be fun, dammit.

11:15 AM: En route back from playground, child trips over tricycle and falls in grass. Despite not being hurt, child decides that tricycle is now dead to her and refuses to ride it.

11:20 AM: Am now faced with prospect of dragging unborn child, existing child and Dora tricycle half mile back to house. Am not pleased.

11:25 AM: Child now extremely pissed and tired and flailing on sidewalk. Pick up Dora trike, walk 50 feet or so, put it down. Walk back, retrieve flailing child, meet up with trike. Child's shoes keep falling off. Not helpful.

11:30 AM: Repeat above five times before realizing AM MAKING WAY TOO MUCH WORK FOR SELF.

11:32 AM: Leave trike on side of road. Will not be sad if someone steals it.

11:37 AM: Carry child rest of way home. Child passes out on shoulder, clinging to my neck. Cute, but not enough to ease general annoyance with child's effinggodforsaken behavior.

11:45 AM: Open child's Lunchables to find Reese's Peanut Butter cup in dessert compartment. SCORE!!!

11:50 AM: Consume candy without sharing, replace empty compartment with grapes. Mwahahaha.

Is it nap time yet?