Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why "Mom" Is Almost Always Synonymous With "Designated Driver"

- Becaause your alcohol tolerance is laughably low after 1 pregnancy...and after 2 in 2 years, your teeth are numb before you've even decided if you like the wine.

- Because after 1 glass of wine, you find yourself whooping and being the lone clapper when the comedian makes a funny...and you can't be certain it WAS funny.

- Because you'll flicker between the emotional extremes known as elation (over a night out with no kids...and with wine...and with friends...and without diapers to change) and sadness (over a night out with no kids...and the cost of the wine...and how rarely you get together with said friends...but not over no diapers to change). And sadness MIGHT win. Why? Because: wine.

- Because when you go to pick the kids up, you don't want the sitter to know you've been drinking, thus giving this adorably patient girl the upper hand. ESPECIALLY when your eldest is 2 years and 3 months old and this is the first time she's been 'sat' by someone other than family or close friend.

- Because the 'pretty shoes' that made you feel like a cute mom at 5:30 are making you feel like a pig on stilts at 9:45.

- Because you just admitted to starting the night at 5:30 and ending it at 9:45, and are acutely aware that your evenings PRE-spawn STARTED at 8:30 and ended whenever Denny's kicked your drunk crew out.

- Because you don't give two shits about nights starting at 8:30 with pre-drinking and ending at 3 am with coffee and pancakes when you have HER and HIM and HOME waiting for you.

- Because when you pick them up, SHE will smile THAT smile and say, "Oh, it's my MAMA!" and tackle your kneecaps. And HE will stare up to you, huge smile lighting up his whole face, and eagerly kick until you lift him to your level so he can GOO and COO and bury his face in your face.

- Because SHE will giggle and tell you about her best friends the whole ride home, while HE falls asleep with his chubby fingers clasped around a toy.

- Because SHE will want 2 sips of milk, a round of "Twinkle Twinkle" and some snuggles before falling fast asleep in her Halloween jammies, blonde hair french braided by the sitter.

- Because HE will wake when you try to seamlessly transition him from carseat to crib, and nothing at all will make him fall asleep faster than being rocked in your arms, close to your heart.

- Because you will kiss her sweet peach cheeks and nuzzle his hot neck, feeling his hair tickle your cheek. And you'll realize that THIS is the highlight of your night. Not the wine. Not the comedians on stage. Not the dinner eaten without worry over whether SHE is eating enough and bouncing HIM on your knee. Not even the laughter and friends. THIS all-consuming sweetness, fresh and clean and warm and soft as spun silk. Better than wine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Acupuncture and Heart Breakers

I had acupuncture for the first time today. I have NO IDEA why I waited so long. Ok...I do...fear it would hurt. But I wish I'd done it sooner.

When Luca was almost a year old and learning to walk, I tweaked my back so badly I could not stand upright and changing positions was near impossible. I tried a therapeutic massage to no avail. My Dr did an exam and proclaimed it 'back pain of unspecified origin' (Um...I came to YOU to SPECIFY the ORIGIN, asshole) and sent me away with Somas and pain meds, which did nothing but make me sleepy and dizzy. Eventually the pain went away.

It's flirted with coming back since, but I've always been able to take it easy and thwart a full-fledged return. Until I had a toddler and an infant. And then it snuck back up on me like the bitch it is.

It started Friday when I noticed my hips felt sore when I would stand from a sitting position. By Saturday, it hurt to sit through the movie (District 9, good but not great because I guess I suck at ci-fi appreciation). By Sunday morning, I couldn't stand upright and my ribs were torqued at such an angle that my left boob was over my right foot. Go ahead; picture it. I dare you. Add to this the "UNNNN-GAH-ARRRUN!" I had to do to sit down or stand up and the Quasimodo hunch and you have on HOT mental image.

I let Darrick pop my back and rub the muscles. We tried his T.E.N.S. machine which he had for post shoulder surgery physical therapy. I caved and took a pain pill (5 oz of liquid gold down the drain b/c Romo reacts to it in my milk, 1.5 hour nap on the couch, 3+ hours of fuzzy fatigue, back still wrenched in pain). I tried Icy Hot, hot baths, ice packs, lying on my side, standing, stretching, relaxing...nothing made it better.

So this morning I made an appointment for acupuncture. Everyone was suggesting chiropractic care, but for some reason (mom who's an RN probably) that kind of scares me. So I decided instead to try what I considered to be a less invasive option (read: no spinal manipulation).

I am SO GLAD I DID. Oh my god...Acupuncture? It's me. Katie. Where you been all my life, gorgeous? Let's never be apart so long again, ok?

I went to the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture (PIHMA) and had a consult and the acupuncture therapy. It didn't hurt at all, but it did work. I went from not being able to stand straight to getting off the table and standing completely upright. They did needles in my lower back and back of my knee, but the REAL magic was the pressure points in my ankles, especially the left ankle. She put that needle in and a little jolt shot up my outer thigh and into my back, where it tightened for a second and then released. It felt like heaven. After the acupuncture she tried cupping, which did hurt a bit, but after the pulling sensation of the cups being suctioned on, it mostly felt hot and tight on my back. But when she released the cups after 5-10 minutes, it felt EVEN BETTER.

I'm a convert. Sign me up.


Luca's favorite phrase to say right now is, "Can Luca break Mama's heart?". Apparently I said this to her once when she said something, well, heartbreaking, and it stuck. It's used when she's being edibly adorable, and you just want to either dress her in a bonnet and pettiskirt and watch her twirl or sit in a corner and cry over the sweetness.

I was feeling particularly emotional this evening. Maybe it's the fatigue, perhaps the acupuncture and cupping released my emotional chi...whatever the cause Luca was just TOO MUCH for me tonight. In a good way. Darrick had parent-teacher night tonight so we went to our friend Kristin's house to say hi. And, honestly, I was exhausted and longing for the distraction and tiring effects a mini playdate is guaranteed to have on the kids. Kristin has a daughter, Melody, who is 3 months older than Luca and a son, Miles, who's a month older than Rohan. Luca is IN LOVE with Kristin, to the point where, at home when it's been WEEKS since her last Kristin run-in, she often brings me a picture she colored and asks, "Can it be for Kiss-tin?".

Anyhow, we went...we played...we left when it became obvious Rohan was exhausted and Miles wouldn't breastfeed with an audience.

On the way home, I asked Luca if she had fun.

"Yes, Mama. Yuca yuvs Kiss-tin."
"Mama loves Kristin too, Luca. And Melody. And Miles."
"No, YUca yuvs Meldie."
"You love Melody too? Oh, that is SO nice."
"Meldie's Yuca's best fwend."
"She is."
"But mama?"
"Yeah babycakes?"
"Madison is Yuca's best fwend too!" (Madison is our friend's daughter who just joined Luca's in home daycare)
"Oh. That is so nice, Luca." :::starting to tear up at cuteness of 2 year old calling another little girl her best friend:::
"S'ok, Mama. No cwying, Mama."
::::realizing I'm sniffling::: "You make me very happy Luca."
"Can Yuca bweak mama's heart?"
::::sniffles turn into vision-blurring tears::::
"S'ok, mama. Mama can be Yuca's best fwend too!"

Yuca and Melddie

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three Times A Workday

This is a post about pumping. Feel free to hit your browser's back arrow now if you don't want to hear it.

Oh, and pumping? I refer to breasts. To collect breastmilk.

:::waving to those I know just left:::

Three times a day while at work, my Outlook pops a reminder up on my screen. It reads: "Now." Perhaps that is a bit uninspired of me. Perhaps something more clever should appear to mark the time I set aside each day to collect milk for my sweet child. But pumping? Pumping is not inspirational. At ALL. In fact, I can think of few things I enjoy less than suctioning my boob inside a plastic cone for 10-20 minutes at a time. I can think of few sounds as grating as the 'woosh-thump-woooosh-thump' of a pump. And yet, day after day, I hook myself up to a machine like some sort of dairy cow subjectimg myself to slight discomfort, awkwardness (I just KNOW anyone walking by my office door hears the woosh-thump), and frustration as I bemoan the slow dwindling of my supply over: a) the course of a workday, and b) time elapsed since the end of maternity leave.

So, as my husband delicately prodded the other day, WHY do I keep going? The nursling in question has his first tooth playing peek-a-boo at the gumline and he has been toying with my emotions for weeks now in a game of Today I Want To Nurse No Wait Maybe I Only Want The Bottle (aka nursing strikes). My supply is maybe 75% of what he needs daily so he's getting supplemented as it is. And, did I mention I HATE PUMPING????

And yet, here I sit, staring at the Outlook reminder on my screen, listening to the woosh-thump, and willing my body to make more milk.

Listen, I am just going to lay the truth out on the line. I do it because I think I should. Because I think it's important to provide my baby with my milk. Because I can. Because it connects me to him even while physically we are apart. Because I hate everything about formula (cost, smell, weird chemicals).

But if I'm going to be honest, there are deeper reasons. Reasons I don't really know how to express when my husband gently prods; when he reassures me I can quit pumping whenever and wouldn't it make life easier and LOTS of babies get formula and they are just fine aren't they? They are. I know they are.

The truth of it is, I don't want to give up because in some narcissistic and sado-masochistic way, breastfeeding my babies is part of how I identify myself as a mom, and come hell (and it did come, when I was nursing Luca) or high water (more like low supply...) I NEED to nurse my babies. I need to be able to say I did everything I could. I NEED to be able to look at their sweet peachy cheeks and bright eyes and think, "Yeah. I did that."

I know. It's stupid. It makes no sense. It's stubborn and foolhardy of me. And, yes, to the friends I have who didn't breastfeed, it may even seem insulting. As though I am inferring that I think less of moms who formula feed. As though I don't understand the myriad reasons why one would either choose to or have no other choice than to formula feed.

To which I say: I am not (inferring) and I do (understand). Breastfeeding vs formula feeding is an age-old debate, and quite simply not one I care to engage in. I really do NOT care whether other parents choose to breastfeed or formula feed, or both. I don't judge. I've been on both sides of this argument. I am adamantly pro-breastfeeding as long as it WORKS for mom and baby (and, sure, dad or partner counts too, but really it's mom and baby who are central to this equation). And it doesn't always work. I know firsthand. I've struggled with a LOT of issues related to nursing my kids (if you're interested, I posted about my issues when Luca was a baby here). And both of my kids have been supplemented to varying degrees at different stages of infancy. I don't think that makes me or any other mom who chooses (or has her hand forced by circumstances outside of her control) to formula feed a BAD mom. I think it's life, and it's one of the first big lessons in parenthood. Having trouble breastfeeding was my first wake up call when Luca was born. It was like the universe was saying, "Remember all those fantasies you had about what having a baby would be like and what kind of a mom you would be? HA HA HA HA! SUCKER!". And did I mention, saying it at 3 a.m. the first night home from the hospital while I cried my tired post-partum-hormonal eyes out and my baby screamed and my husband looked bewildered and a little like a deer in headlights. The Universe is a real asshole sometimes.

And yet, here I am. Two kids and two years later, and I find myself attached to a plastic cone three times a day (and usually at least once more after Romo is in bed for the night), engaging in what some might consider an exercise in futility. I don't make enough milk for my babies. My boobs are always sore to the point where my husband is forbidden from even talking about them (I refer to them as being on 'maternity leave'). I spend a minimum of an hour a day setting up my pump, pumping, and cleaning my pump parts. And that's not even including the other hour I spend putting off pumping, grousing about how much I HATE pumping, and wishing I was home with my kids and could nurse Rohan so I didn't have to pump.

But I do it, day in and day out. I hook up that machine and try not to count down the minutes until I'm done and when I stash that milk in the fridge at the end of the day, I feel proud. The crowning glory is when I am able, on a Friday, to open up a Lanisnoh freezer bag and stash a few ounces away to the freezer. It doesn't happen every week, and sometimes it's only an ounce or two. But I know how hard I worked to get that ounce into that freezer bag, and I'm not ashamed to admit my pride.

Will it all matter? When all is said and done, and my kids are sitting in kidergarten next to other kids (some formula fed, some breastfed, some a combo of both) will it really make a difference? Will anyone know that I spent hours of discomfort pumping and struggling to keep my supply alive? No. My kids will be no different from their peers who were fed formula. No different from their peers who never had a drop of anything but the liquid gold their moms produced.

But I am different for it. Someday, I will have made it through the gauntlet of newborn nursing hell, over the hurdles of nursing strikes and teething and pumping, and through to the other side. I will have passed the first of many tests I set up for myself, and that won't matter to ANYONE else I know. But it will matter to me. We parents all have our own gauntlets to run. We all have THAT THING that matters to us perhaps more than it should, which tests our limits and frustrates us, and with which we wrestle because it MATTERS TO US.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News story on Mastocytosis.

I got this from a blog owned by someone who commented on my original post about Masto. I am impessed they got media coverage, and this reminds me how thankful I should be that Rohan's case is fairly mild.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rohan is almost 5 months old....

...and I just edited his birth story. ;) I was reading it over the other day and realized a few things were missing. The newer (longer) version is here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cabin Fever.

Adobe Cabin

Darrick turned 31 on August 1st, and I decided rather than buy him something silly he doesn't really want (or the stupid $100 video game he DOES want) I'd plan a weekend away for us. It had to be close enough to drive (and not a LONG drive since doing that with an infant is a nightmare) but in cooler weather, and we had to be able to bring our dogs.

Et viola! Juniper Well Ranch.

A friend recommended this place, and I am so glad she did. We got our own cabin with a queen bed and a daybed, a kitchen, a bath with shower, a huge patio...and temps in the 80s! It was beautiful and just what we needed.

Big man, little kitchen.

Queen bed

Dining area

Except...when we got up to the cabin late Friday night Luca was struck with a fever. And then it spread to Rohan. And apparently kids with Masto shouldn't really have infant Tylenol because it has sodium benzoate (a preservative) in it, and Masto kids' bodies react to that as if it were an attack on their immune system. So he'd have a fever, we'd give him Tylenol, and his fever would drop. And then his body would be all, "What is this stuff? I believe it's attacking me!" and the mast cells would release histamine in response, and then his body would work to fight off the Tylenol....thus striking ANOTHER fever. Holy bad cycle. And of course we were in a cabin in the middle of nowhere so we knew he was still feverish based on his behavior and the fact he felt hot to the touch but we didn't know how bad it was or why it wasn't going away. It was only when I did some research after we got home that I discovered the link between fevers/mast cell release/infant Tylenol. What the hell did people DO in the days before wireless internet anyhow?

All that said, Luca is perfectly fine now. Or, she was after she puked up juice on the pillow next to my head and I grabbed her and swung her off the bed in time for the next round to land on the cement floor and then she turned to me and said, "I pee out my mouth. Luca's fine now."

Once I stopped giving Tylenol Romo's fever broke for good and he's feeling much better. And our weekend was relaxing and fun. Luca got to see a horny toad, Darrick caught a giant grasshopper for her, we saw a mama deer in the woods, we looked at stars and made s'mores over the world's smallest charcoal grill, and the dogs even got to come along! We even made a long drive on a very scary road to visit the property my inlaws own. Let me just say, 2 adults, 2 kids, and 2 dogs in a MINI VAN didn't belong on this road. But we made it in one piece, and I only blurted out inappropriate profanities along the lines of "Honeygoddamitwatchthefuckingedgeoverhere!" about twice. Or eleventyjillion times, but who's counting?

Luca 'reading' to Rohan ("I like green eggs, Sam!")

The land my inlaws own

Trees: We hug them.

Nekkid baby...cute even while fevering.

He looks SO much like his Daddy!

Sleeping on the MOST fluffy blankie.

"No, mama. I dress myself!"

"C'mon Ruby! Yet's walk!"

Dude, look how HUGE Darrick's hand looks.

No vacation would be complete without a meltdown over breakfast!

"What meltdown? I can't hear it over my coffee and whiskey."

After the tantrum, a Prescott Jig.

Kisses for the baby!

It should be noted that on this trip we went through Lloyd's Drive Thru Liquors. The man at the drive-thru? Not Lloyd. In fact, Lloyd built the place in 1971 and died the same year. Ponytailed man selling me the Mike's Hard Lemonade knew him personally. And after sharing that bit of uplifting Prescott trivia with us, he gave us Tootsie Rolls for the kids. HA!

It should also be noted that we pronounce is "Press-cot", not "Press-kit". This is how they knew we weren't locals. Well, this and the purchasing of Mike's Hard Lemonade via drive-thru.

And now...back to reality. Yesterday was the first day of the fall semester where Darrick teaches, so we're back to me working from home 2 days a week. The really nice thing is, my mom is now retired so she's watching the kids on Mondays, and my inlaws will be watching them on Fridays. Luca LOVES her time with her grandparents (so much that when I dropped her at Gramma's yesterday I was trying to give her hugs goodbye and she ran to her toys and yelled over her shoulder, "Bye bye Mama."...) and I'm secretly going to love the few hours a week with a completely silent house.


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