Saturday, February 27, 2010

Post Script

I'm feeling a little torn about my last entry, mostly because I don't want to come off as out of line. First, because I DO appreciate the concern and curiosity of people who meet my beautiful son. And with a smile like this one, we get a lot of strangers coming over to say hi:

I understand curiosity. I'm not sure I would ask a stranger what is wrong with their child, but I certainly get why someone would wonder.

I also really don't mind answering questions about his disease. But I wish I knew HOW to answer them. In a way that was short, to the point, and un-scary to the uninformed. And at the same time, I wish I never had to answer a single question about it ever again.

And then today, I was reading a friend's blog, and clicked on one of her links. It took me to the blog of a woman who just gave birth to a baby with a cleft palate and lip. And I thought, "Well, fuck. I'm worried about explaining a mark on my son's skin?!?! What the hell is my problem?"

And so, I got over myself. At least for now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"What happened here?"

"Did a bug bite him?"
"Is he allergic to something?"
"Is he - is that - what is that?"
"Ooh, ouchie! A spider bite?"

And this is where I stutter, and mumble something about 'kinda like an allergy' or 'he's not contagious' or 'not a bug bite'. And then I stumble over my words and try to omit certain ones which might possibly cause alarm or make you uncomfortable (disease, disorder, medical condition) all while explaining this complex thing in simple terms in 12 seconds or less. At second 13 of explaining, one of two things will happen:

1. The person's eyes will glaze over as they internally curse themself for ever asking in the first place, or
2. They start to give advice.

With option 1, I am left feeling like an annoying jackass of a mom who blabbers on and on about their child when the person was just trying to think of something to say to be polite.

With option 2, I find myself frustrated because I know the person is genuinely trying to help, but at the same time I know they are usually talking out their ass.

But it's hardly an option to have him in long sleeves all the time, to hide his spot and avoid questions. And besides, someday we'll have to explain it to he can answer the questions others ask him and understand what this thing is that affects his body.

But hell if I know HOW to explain it. Which is why I mumble and stumble and feel like a spazz. And I also do my son and the person asking no justice, because they leave with no better understanding of why his arm has a huge red spot on it. But eloquence is not really my specialty, especially in cases where I am feeling put on the spot and maybe a teensy bit protective of the situation.

Do I OWE it to you, stranger in the store, to answer your actually-sort-of-nosy-but-totally-benign question about a spot on my son's beautiful sweet arm?

Do I HAVE to come up with something succinct and detached in response to your sad face, little old lady who probably doesn't need to be touching my baby anyhow?

Is there a response that succeeds at being short, direct, sympathetic and factual, while all the while assuring YOU, dear stranger or distant relative, that you are not in danger and my son is not contagious? And also, something that will assure you - what with your suspicious eyes and their furtive glances to the other exposed arms and legs and faces of both kids - that I didn't burn him with a cigarette, pinch him, hit him, or otherwise mar my beautiful child's perfect little arm?

And then I what? So what if I don't know how to respond when someone asks? If I don't have a whole disease pared down to an 'elevator speech' that succeeds in not scaring you, nor embarassing me?

Everything about parenthood is a learning curve. It's just that I, like all parents whose child is brought to this earthly life facing any degree of challenge outside the ordinary, am having to feel this out like I am wearing blinders. When you ask me about my son, I measure my words against the weight of your expressions, gauging your pity by the angle of your frown and your confusion by the depth of the furrows in your brow. And for a second I am tempted to scrap it all and just start responding with, "It's nothing. He's fine."

Monday, February 22, 2010

And also... scale is the devil. I didn't get a chance yesterday to buy a new one (what with books to read and forts to build and naps to nap), so I stepped on the ODB (Old Dirty scale's new name) today and HELLO! Down 2 pounds.

I blame the salt from Friday night. Bloat much?

However, in the name of WW honesty, I am not claiming that 2 pounds. I'm keeping my check in the same as it was yesterday morning on my official WI day and hoping I keep this loss and add to it for next week.

New goal: 3 pounds down next Sunday. That would mean the 2 from last week stay away and I lose 1 more.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Skidding Towards One.

My boy is almost 1. I cannot believe it's been nearly a full year since he last rolled and tumbled in my belly. Almost 12 months since the day he sent me flying into labor then stubbornly worked his way out, Super Man style. 365 days since the day he made me a mom of a boy.


At 11 months, he's the boy the sun rises over. He pulls up on things and stands on his own, surefooted and strong. On Valentine's Day he even took 2 or 3 steps between Darrick and me, then back, then forth, a few times in a row. He has not done it since, maybe because he doesn't have to. After all, he tears around the house on all fours, burrowing his face into the side of the couch or rubbing his head on the tile and laughing. He babbles all the time, often mimicking our inflections. His words are limited still: Mama, Dada, Nana (banana), Dod (dog). He may be saying 'Dider'(dih-dur) for sister, though we're not sure if that's our imagination or not.

He's eating solid foods and drinking from sippy cups now, though he still gets several bottles a day. Rohan took easily to finger foods, so save for a few things like yogurt, applesauce, and cottage cheese, he doesn't get much spoon-fed to him. He revels in a tray of bite-sized pieces before him, his fingers digging and diving, shoveling food into his mouth, down to speckle his belly, and onto the floor below. He LOVES food.

The other thing he loves? His sister. He is absolutely smitten with her, and she with him. There are days when I think how I would love another baby someday. And then, there are days when I see this intricate dance of siblings which my two are learning together, and I have a hard time placing baby three in the mix. Does he/she cut in? Join so that they stand in a circle, arms around each others' shoulders as they sway (reminding me of middle school dances, when the girls would inevitably end up on the dance floor together, swaying to the music and laughing in a world all their own)? Or is #3 left to sit on the bleachers, a wallflower and tag-along for life?

We're not sure yet where the next few years will lead us, and whether they will have us welcoming a third child into our lives or thanking the universe for blessing us with these two and closing this (baby/diaper/sleepless nights/pacifiers/nursing/formula) chapter for good.

Which is why I am holding on to these sweet moments of babyhood, where he is all big mitten hands and curious eyes and bedtime snuggles. I know the day will come when his silky soft skin turns rough, and callouses alter the landscape of his knees and hands and feet. I know he won't always be instantly calmed by me scooping him up to me and patting his back while we rock together. I know there will come a day when the sun does not rise just for him...a day when he no longer thinks it rises over me.

So for now I want to enjoy this sweet age. I want to stare into his baby blues and spend time pressing my face to his when he's warm from sleep. I want to hold his chubby hands as he walks next to me, still holding onto that tenuous connection that makes him think he is still a little baby and he needs me to keep him standing. I will enjoy the process of putting him to bed for every nap and bedtime that I am there for, because I want to be the last face he sees as he lets sleep close his eyes.


I'm calling a truce with the scale this week. It's been messing with my mind, showing me down some, then up some, then steady. And while my first instinct is to throw a tantrum, I know that's not going to get me where I want to be.

But I am frustrated.

Step 1: I need a new scale this week. Have a fabulous digital that didn't cost $50+? Please share!

Step 2: Once I get that scale, I'm hopping on it once, then not again until next Sunday. This every day, once or twice a day thing is killing me mentally.

Step 3: Taking my points target down 2. I think this will jumpstart my loss, which will motivate me more.

Step 4: Move on!

BL Week 4 = Failure. But I'm not giving up.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Sweetest Thing About A Baby Boy

It's not his big blue eyes, nor his sweet baby toes. Not his soft silken skin, his impish giggle, his big puppy-paw hands and the way they touch my cheek while he eats. It's not the way his skin smells fresh from the bath, nor the way it smells when he wakes from a nap, warm with flushed cheeks.

At least not this week, it's not.

Because this week I discovered the sweetest thing about my baby boy.

It's that one perfect, sweet, sun-kissed freckle, hidden from view at the nape of his neck by the softest whisper of honey-spun blonde hair. Because this boy, through and through, is his Daddy's son. His hands, his feet, the way he laughs easily and babbles non-stop. The curve of his cheekbones, the bend of his knee, and even the soft baby snore that can sometimes be heard coming through the monitor at night. All of it belongs to his father.

But that sweet freckle placed at the very spot where his hard skull (also from his Daddy) meets the soft bend of his neck? That is mine.

Losing a Luca

No, not literally. I did not literally lose my almost-3-year-old. I mean this in terms of weight loss.

In other words, I need to Lose a Luca. This thought ocurred to me the other day, and I almost laughed mid-meeting. But then I realized, it's a good, live reminder.

So is this picture, which my brother took of me while I was visiting him and my sister-in-law in the hospital when she was in labor:

Now, don't get me wrong...I love this picture for what it is. It's so rare for me to have pictures with other people (I'm usually behind the camera) and it's a great day to capture. But I can't focus on the joy of the day when I'm so distracted by my back fat and my puffy cheeks.

And that's just sad. It gives me further motivation to really Do This Thing. I don't want to forever be looking at pictures of big days in my life and thinking "Eh, I really wish I had posed differently so my back fat wasn't showing!"

I'm down 1.5 pounds this week, which I am pretty proud of, but there's so much more to go. If I want to lose a Luca, I need to lose 27 pounds, and so far I've lost 4. But that's 4 pounds I've kissed goodbye and don't ever plan to see again!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On a Lighter Note

Julia Belle is here! Born at 3:52 p.m. after almost 24 hours of labor (including 3.5 hours of sister in law is a freaking superstar!), this little pixie entered this world. She weighed 6 lb 4 oz and was 19 inches long. I am SO thrilled and in awe, and happy for my brother who is beyond ready to be a dad and for his wife who's been wanting this for so long!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I don't even have a title for this post...or this day. It's a day I want to forget to mark one year. It's a day that always sneaks up and takes me by surprise, every damn year. It starts with a bad mood, then a melancholy feeling, and then a sinking realization.

It's an anniversary. And today it's 10 years.

10 years ago today, I drove to the hospital to meet with my mom and dad. My dad, in a hospital gown in surgery prep, answering questions like, "Do you smoke?" ("No."), "When's the last time you ate?" ("Last night.") and "My god who is this gorgeous girl who just walked in the room?" ("My daughter, Katie.").

Ok, that last one I made up.

But I was there, and I sat by his bed as he waited to be wheeled back. I can't remember what we talked about, except that I do remember asking if he was scared, and I remember trying not to cry. And then, they were ready for him so I kissed him and he kissed me, and I held onto his hand (and thought to myself, "When did his hand get so thin, and his skin turn to crepe paper?") as I wished him luck and told him I'd see him later.

I never saw him later. Not really, anyhow. I saw his body, in a surgery recovery room, draped in a coarse white blanket with morphine numbing the pain. I saw his face, a tube running over his upper lip and in his nose, providing him nourishment to counter the chemo ("Phase IV Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkins. He probably has 6 months, on the outside 2 years. Chemo will help prolong it. I'm so sorry."). I saw his shadow, hours after he coded and was brought back to 'life', face bloated and splotchy and eyes staring into some other world or maybe at nothing. I saw his pain and fear, the day I walked into his hospital room just in time to accidentally witness the male nurse trying to force his NG tube down the back of his throat.

I never did see him again. He was wheeled away from me on that surgical gurney 10 years ago today, and then *poof* he disappeared.

My dad. My kind, sweet, funny, wonderful dad. My dad with the blue eyes and the love of 50s music and old cars and trains and us, his family. My dad who taught me that "Being kind is what matters most.". My dad who took me to a high school football game once when I was in middle school and told me as we sat on the bleachers that he promised to let some other guy be the one to take me to the game some day but for now he was happy I was sitting with him. My dad. He never came back.

When he never recovered from surgery, the rest of us were left to recover from him. To learn how to live and be as individuals and a family, now that he was gone and this other person had come to roost in his body. He was alive, sure, in the sense that his heart beat and he had breath in his lungs. But dementia stole his sharp mind and soft edges, and left him confused and scared and disoriented. All the time. The hardest part has been learning to live with a dad who is dead in a body that is not.

But one lesson I've taken from this all is the lesson of gratitude. I am one of the lucky ones: the ones who had a dad for 21 years who helped shape me into the woman I am. He was amazing and wonderful and I was so lucky to have him as my dad. So rather than mourn him, I try to remember to celebrate who he was.

Even on my wedding day, when he asked me halfway through our walk down the aisle where we were.

Even when he gets panicked and throws a public fit and strangers are torn between repulsion at his behavior and repulsion at our reactions (or lack thereof) to him.

Even when I was pregnant with my first baby and a tidal wave of loss and sorrow and self-pity hit because although he would meet my kids, he wouldn't ever get to reach the full potential of the awesome Grandpa I knew he would have been.

And today, on this 10th anniversary of the day my dad 'died', a call from my brother closed the loop. "Jaimi's getting admitted to the hospital. She's being induced." My brother's wife, due any day with a baby girl, was losing amniotic fluid so her Dr suggested an induction to help get the show on the road before the loss of fluid became a problem.

My first brother's first sweet breath of baby love, began her entry into the world on this of all days. And while it's looking like she'll make the 10th her day, I can't help but feel a sense of peace and a closure of sorts. She chose this day, I believe, to mark with her presence. She chose to begin her journey to earth and give us reason to celebrate life on this day for a reason.


I will never stop missing you, Dad.

We can't wait to meet you, sweet baby girl!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Donuts are the Key to Weight Loss.

For real, though...if you live in or around Chandler and you kinda like donuts, you need to go to BoSa on Az Ave and Ray. Because your kinda like will become rabidly love. I promise. If you're not sure you believe me, order a buttermilk knot, and thank me all the way to the Fat Farm.

Or, as it were this week....the Less-Fat Farm? Because I totally caved this weekend and went out for donuts with my hubby and kids on Saturday. And of course we didn't get one donut to share...we bought the whole dozen. When you know you have to face the scale on Sunday morning, why not mow down a few donuts the day before, right? In my, I have no defense really except DAMN THOSE DONUTS ARE GOOOOOOOD.

Eaten: 1 boston creme, 1/4 buttermilk knot, and a bite of Luca's pink iced donut.

Lost: 1.5 pounds.

On one hand, this shows me that if I follow the WW plan all week, I can SO splurge now and then and not feel deprived while still managing to lose weight.

On the other hand, did I mention how damn good those donuts are?!?!?

Aside from the donuts, though, I did quite a bit of cooking at home this week. My focus was on healthier dinners, which is where I tend to struggle. So I have been practicing homemade sweet potato fries, pan-grilling veggie burgers, using whole grain breads, eating lots of veggies, and satisfying my sweet tooth with low-point desserts. And you know? I'm not missing the 'bad' stuff because I'm having a pretty good time trying new recipes and eating fresh. The best part is that in Arizona we can get lots of fresh produce all year-round, which definitely keeps me on track.

I'm not winning the BL challenge with my friends, but it's only week 2, and we have several more weeks to go. Some of the girls on the challenge are shooting for losing 15-20%, but I know myself and I know that will never happen. So my goals are:

1: Lose 5%, which would get way heavier than I want to be? But 5% LESS heavy. Yup.

2: Lose 10%, which, according to WW, has these benefits:
- Lowers your blood pressure (I have a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure, and have never personally had a problem with it, but I will do whatever I need to in order to keep it that way!)and reduces your risk for having a stroke.
- Reduces your risk for developing diabetes. If you’re already a person with diabetes, losing weight can help to improve insulin function and lower your blood sugar levels.
- Reduces cholesterol levels (Again, I have a family history of hogh cholesterol, and have not had problems with it myself, but don't ever want to either!).
- Reduces strain on your joints.
- Feel great! Your clothes will feel looser, you’ll feel more energetic, and your new habits will start to feel a little more like second nature!

When I hit 10%, I'm going to celebrate with something special. I'm not sure what yet, but maybe a facial and massage?

3: Lose 15%, which will get me into a hell of a lot of clothes in my closet that don't currently fit.

4: Lose 20%, which will get me to where I think I will feel more comfortable in my skin.

5: Get to pre-babies weight. Which, sadly, is more than 20% loss. I almost wish I hadn't done the math, because I'm feeling a little bleh about THAT.

And about the BL challenge, I'll be honest: I'm banking on some people losing steam about 4 or 5 weeks in, and hoping my slow and steady wins the race. I am tortoise, they are hare? We'll see.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Two of Hearts.

February 1, 2010: Him and Her.

Every once in awhile, I lift the kids up to sit on my hip, one at a time, for pictures. It's a good way to keep them captive, and also enables me to position them in a good window spot that casts light on their face and darkens the background. Because...let us be honest...half the pictures I take of my kids aren't for public consumption because of the frenzy of toys or laundry or dog butts or whatever in the background.

The hard part about this is that I'm shooting blind. I hold the camera in front of me against the window, with the viewfinder facing away, aim and snap several shots. Usually I manage at least 2 or 3 good pictures, some by chance and some by determination.

This series cracked me up because it clearly showed the difference between my kids. I'm unsure if it's an age thing, a personality thing, or something else...but they react so differently to picture time.

When I pull out the camera for Rohan, he IS ON. He smiles. He grabs at it with those big hands. He laughs. He does silly faces and scrunches his nose and does this little hop in my arms.

Luca, on the other hand, can be persuaded to smile (sort of) for a small window of time in which I manically try to take as many pictures as possible. Remember how I'm doing it with my arm extended out and the viewfinder...well...not finding my view? In this case, I am extra lucky to get a cute picture or three. And if I dare to take more than a few, she starts to hide her face and say, "All done, Mama. I'm all done. No more pictures, Mama."


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