Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An infant's tribute to the King of Pop

I was so close. Just that one last little tiny paper thin fingernail…

There are a few cardinal rules in life that you’re not supposed to break:

1. Never say that your child is ugly.

2. Never joke about bombs at the airport.

3. Never say out loud, “That woman has more than 10 items and this is the EXPRESS lane!”

4. Never make your baby bleed.

(Caution – my mother paid no heed to that last one when it came to loose teeth, so keep your children away from her if they have a wobbly one.)

Today I broke the last rule and made my three-month old bleed her own blood. One of the child-rearing tasks that I delegate to Ryan (along with teaching people to pee standing up) is the trimming of fingernails. However, I kept forgetting to ask him to do this for Emma Clare and I’d already been clawed by her about three times today. So, I took a stab at it (no pun intended, but there it is anyway.) I was humming along so well – one hand done, on to the next. It was just that very last thumb that got me, or got her, as it turns out. The look on her face was of one who had been utterly betrayed and her cry was other-worldly. I panicked. Then I stuck her thumb in my mouth (thinking, somehow, that this might help.) Tried to remember any first aid training that I might have had – elevate the head, or is it supposed to be the feet? Pressure? Tourniquet? I rubbed some organic diaper ointment on it – I don’t think it helped at all, but it smells heavenly – like oatmeal and vanilla. Finally, I managed to find the world’s largest band-aid in our closet and wrapped it around her microscopically small finger. Then, to prevent her from sucking on the band-aid, I put a striped mitten over that hand. One of my children had the good judgment to point out that this made her look like Baby Sandy. Baby Sandy is my childhood Cabbage Patch doll and about 16 years ago our yellow lab chewed off one hand. I put one of those little scratch mittens on that hand to cover up the damage. So, in essence, my child now looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid with a gnawed-off stump for a hand. A lady in line in back of me at Target said something to the effect of, “Oh, it looks like she lost one of her little mittens.” I didn’t dare explain.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Time to Be Serious

I want to take some time out from my usual very witty repartee, and share some serious thoughts about these children God has given me.  I hope that these words that I write on this blog - sometimes with much biting sarcasm, and just as often with tongue firmly planted in-cheek -- are not offensive.  I love my children and am thankful every day for them.  I have watched my mother mourn the loss of a child, watched dear friends do the same more than once, and have watched those closest to me struggle with the realization that a biological child will not be a reality for them.  I don't want to ever be seen as taking my children for granted.  Even on the worst of days, Emma Clare will look up at me with a sideways glance while breastfeeding, and give me the most impish grin.  It would melt your heart.  I can't imagine a day without her, or without Patrick, or Annie, or Aidan.  They are given to us as a solemn responsiblity and a pure joy.

As I write this, my heart is heavy.  People who I do not know, friends of friends, have just taken their two-year old home from the hospital, to die in her own bed, in their arms.  I'm overwhelmed with grief for this family who I will likely never meet.  But we share the bond of parenthood and for that reason, the grief that I feel right now is very real.  Despite all prayers to the contrary, it seems that for His purposes, God will not see fit to relieve them of this agony. Tomorrow I will probably complain about my teenager not wanting to wear new shoes, and they will never have the chance to complain about their child's teen years.  It's for this reason that I hope, in the midst of the amusing expositions of my miniature trials and tribulations, that I don't lose sight of the enormity of the four gifts I've been given, and that you don't mistake my feeble attempts at humor for ingratitude.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I can't think of a title for this blog because I'm so tired.

Between 10:30 last night and 6:30 this morning, I was up 3 times.  This is a catastrophic throwback to Emma Clare's earliest days with us.  Ryan says I must have forgotten to explain the rules to her.  I was so tired walking back and forth from her room to ours, that I felt like I was in a trance and am extremely lucky that I didn't fall down the stairs.  I have no idea what the issue was.  She has been congested on and off for weeks and an annoying little voice in my head is whispering something about potential allergies.  I hate that voice.  And I KNOW that if I go into the pediatrician's office that she is going to suggest going off dairy -- somehow I just know that's what she's going to say.  And mark my words, if someone tries to make me lay off dairy, I will do real harm to myself rather than live like that.  Go without cheese?  Surely you jest.  On the brighter side, it might not be allergies at all.  But then again, that isn't much brighter because I will still need to get to the bottom of why she's so congested and why she's making me feel like the walking dead.  Oh, and also it would be nice to know why I currently have to change clothes 3 times a day from being spit up on.  Here's hoping someone sends me a new shirt for my birthday next week because she's spit up on all the others.  That's why I'm still in my pajamas today.  Really, it is.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Parental Duty

Occasionally, Parental Duty requires me to go watch one of my kids exercising their "gifts."  Tonight was one such occasion: watching Aidan at swim team practice.  The pool area is a stifling 83 degrees and I always seem to be wearing a sweater when I go.  Sigh.  Anyway, tonight I decided to speed the hour along by committing to memory the various other parents gathered there, so I could share them with you.  They are (in no particular order):

1.  Mrs. Overestimation of my Child's Abilities.  She was one of the first people I met when we joined the swim team.  That evening, she was fretting about the local high school cancelling their modified swim program.  For those of you not from NY, every school runs a modified version of each of their sports, allowing talented middle school students to train with and compete for the high school coaches.  Of course, she was concerned because where was her little darling 7th grader going to get any kind of decent workout?  Not here at the Y.  Oh, it's fine for SOME children, but her little man has real talent.  Maybe the high school will let him work out with the varsity swim team?  Sure they will.  And I'll bet they love it when they get a load of his work ethic.  Her little man manages to find about 80 different reasons, every evening, to get out of the pool and wander over to the bleachers.  The varsity team will love that.

2.  Mr. and Mrs. Parents of the Most Frail Child I've Ever Seen.  Not much to say here, other than to express the hope that there is never a draft in the pool area.  Their child will be blown away.

3.  Mrs. I am Totally Oblivious to the Fact That My Child is Obnoxious. She is near and dear to my heart because her son swims with Aidan's group. He is always the one in the pool when the coach has asked everyone to exit, is swimming freestyle when they've been asked to swim butterfly, and manages to "accidentally" fall in the water during team meetings. Curiously, mom never seems to notice.

Mr. I Think it is Still 1967. He has a lot of friends here in Ithaca. They were flower children in the 60's and have held on tenaciously to the wardrobe and the hairstyles.

Then, there's me.  Mrs. I am going to read this magazine and watch my child out of the corner of my eye and when he gets out of the pool and walks by I will look straight at him and give him a thumbs up for whatever he may have just finished doing, not that I would know because I've been reading a magazine and scoping out the other parents.  It makes him very happy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Well-Baby Visit and Other Random Musings

I live in fear of the well-baby visit.  For the un-initiated (or those of you who may have forgotten - like I had..) this is a series of trips to the Pediatrician that are designed to make you feel: a) like you actually pay rent and live out back of the Pediatric office  and b) like a neglectful parent.  The well-baby visit consists of a series of trick questions; if you get the questions wrong, or don't know the answer, they take your child away.  I remember a specific well-baby visit over 11 years ago when Annie was a baby.  The conversation went like this:

Pediatrician:  "Does she stack blocks?"
Me: (to myself) -- "Blocks?  I'm supposed to give her blocks?"

Do you see what I mean?  It's kind of like that question, "Have you stopped beating your dog?"  If you say "No" then you're in trouble because you're still beating the dog.  If you say "Yes" then you're in trouble because you admittedly HAD BEEN beating the dog.  So you're either admitting that your baby is somehow deficient, because she doesn't stack blocks, or you're a neglectful liar who never even gave her baby the benefit of blocks in the first place.

At Emma Clare's last well-baby visit, the conversation went something like this:

Intake nurse: (notice that now the Pediatricians have given the more mundane, yet still tricky, duties, to someone else): "Does she coo?"

Me:  "Yes.  Absolutely"

Nurse:  "Does she squeal?"

Me (trying to discern the subtle difference between coo and squeal):  "Um... maybe."

Nurse: "Does she laugh?"

Me (now thoroughly confused -- what is the difference between a squeal and a laugh and how can it possibly even matter?):  I am silent, but have sort of a grimace/shrug/chuckle kind of thing going on.  I refuse to answer the question directly on the grounds that they might think that I am utterly neglectful -- I don't even watch and/or listen to my own child???

They also expect me to answer questions like, "How many wet diapers does she have a day?"  This is CLEARLY a trick question designed to ascertain how many times a day I actually get around to changing the baby's diapers.  I give them a broad estimate -- somewhere between 1 and 100 wet diapers per day.

At the second well-baby visit, the intake nurse told me that the baby's head circumference had apparently not changed at all in two week's time.  She said this with a note of concern in her voice.  When I nervously asked if that was cause for worry, she reassuringly (not) said, "We'll have to ask the doctor."  Great.  Then she said, to the baby, "You do have brains in there don't you?"  That is not a joke - that's really what she said.

My next visit is not for another month and a half, which gives me time to read up on the milestones that Emma Clare will be expected to have reached.  This is important information to be armed with in case I need to lie.  I actually have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who confessed to me that she regularly lied to the pediatrician about these milestones, preferring deceit over the condescending looks she might get when having to confess that no, her baby does not cuddle dolls, or no, in fact she does not make all the animal noises.  This is not bad strategy.

In other random news:

1.  Tonight, an acquaintance came up to me and said, "Well, this must be your new little GUY!"  (Note that Emma Clare was dressed in pink pants and a pink striped shirt.  See blog post #1)

2.  Emma Clare had portraits done yesterday morning.  The photographer asked me if I'd like to have her photographed while she was nursing.  Now, call me crazy, but even though several doctors, nurses, midwives, medical students who I didn't know, and hospital cafeteria personnel have all seen almost every part of my body, I still don't want a large 8x10 of my breast, matted, framed, and hanging on the wall.  Or even a very small photo in my wallet.  It just isn't necessary.  And at the risk of having my mother call me and say "But it's a beautiful thing..." I just want to make it clear that I do consider it a beautiful thing, but then so is the act of DELIVERING a baby and I sure don't want a photo of that on my wall.

3.  I would like to think that I've done some important things in my life: making the high school cheerleading squad, finishing college, teaching elementary school, giving birth, etc.  However, this week I feel like I just discovered another element on the periodic table, or the vaccine for the common cold.  I found the perfect night-time cloth diapering system.  Really, this feels to me like Nobel prize-worthy stuff.  At the risk of boring you with the particulars (Happy Hempy fitted diaper, SuperDo insert, Dancing Bear Bottoms Night Weight Fleece Soaker) let me just say that in the cloth diapering world, this is the Holy Grail.  The combinations that mothers try when attempting to come up with this magic formula are truly dizzying.  Makes the creation of the atom bomb look like the assembly of Mr. Potato Head.

Thus endeth my revelations for this week.  Tomorrow, Emma Clare is taking part in a developmental research study at Cornell University.  They are (no kidding) going to be studying her reactions to a rubber duck.  Stay tuned.