Category Archives: baby rabies

ramona & her mother, part nine

(this is essentially ramona’s birth story, but because her birth was so crazy, there’s a lot going into it. this is part nine of ten, & all are tagged “birth story,” in order to help you the reader navigate from one part of the story to the next.)

& when we got home, we were overpowered by the stench of cat pee. jared had been at the hospital with me non-stop since the day after i delivered (he went home that morning to pack himself a bag & then came straight back). stefanie was looking in on charlotte for us & keeping her fed, but i guess charlotte had a little bit of a “lord of the flies” thing going on. she had somehow managed to track cat litter & muddy cat paw prints ALL OVER THE HOUSE. i don’t know if she peed on her feet & then stood around in her litter or what, but the situation was gnarly. she had even tracked litter into our bed, which we immediately stripped. jared washed everything in the bedroom, gave the litterbox a thorough scrubbing, & then swept & mopped the entire house while i slowly unpacked all the forms & various baby accoutrements we had accumulated at the hospital (slowly because i was still moving pretty gingerly).

i had my first meltdown that night when i got up to pump. i can do it alone, but it’s tough to navigate the pump pieces & my boobs & everything else with only two hands. i don’t even remember why i freaked out now, but i wound up slamming the bedroom door & breaking into hysterical sobs. jared got up & hugged me until i calmed down, & he got up with me for the next pumping session in order to help me. i haven’t needed his help in the middle of the night since then…i speculate that i was really crying about being apart from ramona. i kept saying, “it’s not fair that i have to do this, she should be here with us.” plus i was still having a lot of pain from the surgery.

since ramona has been on the lights, we have made the effort to make sure we are there for at least two feedings every day. we get to change her diaper, take her temperature, & do a half-hour hold a piece. we have been doing lots of kangaroo care. jared did one swaddle hold & didn’t really like it. he said it made his arms tired & he prefers to have her laying on his chest. i like both–i like the swaddle hold because i can see her little face better. but i’ve been doing more kangaroo care because she really benefits from that a lot at this age. it helps keep her temperature up & i want her to get used to touching my skin to help facilitate breastfeeding when she’s ready.

i stuffed a baby down my shirt & got the hell out of there.
i stuffed a baby down my shirt & got the hell out of there.

we had a great visit with her last night. she had been taken off of humid oxygen, although she was still wearing her cannula (which she liked to pull out & jam in her mouth). she had learned how to suck her thumb & was using a pacifier to soothe herself, rather than just kind of gumming it because it happened to be in her mouth. her central line had been removed, which is a HUGE step forward, & she was down to just one jaundice light. she had also regained all the weight she had lost since her birth. best of all, she was making sucking motions/noises with her mouth during feeds. she spent the whole feed with jared nuzzling his chest, looking for a boob. she was a lot sleepier during my hold & just kind of conked out, but still! i was super-encouraged by that. it’s called “cuing” & it’s an important milestone that indicates a premature baby might be ready to go to the breast. she can’t be released until she’s taking all her feeds by mouth (breast or bottle) with no choking incidents, so it’s a big deal.

i mentioned to the lactation consultant that ramona is off preemie formula & is being fed exclusively breast milk. she actually started crying because she was so happy to hear this. my supply is AWESOME. i read a pamphlet about breastfeeding & supply issues & i have pretty much every risk factor for a compromised supply. premature baby? check. mom sick immediately before or after birth? check. cesarean? check. lots of post-birth stress & anxiety? check. & yet, i am already producing enough milk to feed a full-term infant & ramona is only a week old. the pamphlet said that a good supply is at least 600ml daily by ten to fourteen days post-partum. at seven days, i am already making over 800ml a day. & this is with nothing more than a pump, which simply isn’t as efficient as a baby’s mouth! people keep telling us, “don’t be afraid of the bottle, so many women have supply issues, it’s fine to give them formula, it’s so much easier that way.” obviously pumping makes me a little sleep-deprived, & it’s more work than just sitting around doing nothing except stocking up on formula until baby comes home, but my supply is great. & more importantly, i feel like this is something concrete i can do for ramona. right now, someone else is changing her diapers & soothing her when she cries. i can at least make milk for her.

the great baby gender reveal question

i subscribe to “bitch” magazine. the latest issue showed up a week or two ago & i left it laying around on the coffee table while i finished reading library books with looming due dates. jared was flipping through it one night & he pointed out that there was a point/counterpoint feature on gender reveal parties.

i just heard of gender reveal parties recently, like right around the time when i got pregnant. the “new york times” had a feature of the newest trend: having the ultrasound tech or doctor write the baby’s sex on a piece of paper & sealing it in an envelope. the expecting mom then goes to her local bakery, hands over the card, & requests a cake that is chocolate or vanilla or whatever on the outside, & dyed pink or blue or filled with pink or blue frosting on the inside. at her baby shower or specific gender reveal party, she can cut the cake & be surprised along with all of her friends & family.

another variation that seems to be popular is giving the sealed envelope to someone who prepares a large box filled with helium balloons that are either pink or blue. at the party, the mom or couple opens the box & everyone gets to ooh & ahh over the big news.

the point/counterpoint in “bitch” was…honestly, pretty silly. the writer that was opposed to the gender reveal trend got up on her high horse & made a great big stink about how these kinds of events gender children before they are even born, & leave no room for the possibility of intersex or trans babies. (to which i say, not to be a jerk, but don’t you have to have some concept of your sex or gender before you can come to the realization that your body isn’t matching up with your self-perception? babies don’t even know they have genitalia, let alone that their genitalia is incorrect for their self-identity. they don’t even have a self-identity. i’m all for supporting trans people, but i am very dubious that there are any trans newborns out there.) it was your typical gender polemic, & the counterpoint made the good point that gender reveal parties are actually kind of cool because the guests, by definition, have to bring gender-neutral gifts. so you don’t have that whole icky dynamic of all the guests being forced to wear tiaras to “welcome the little princess” or being pressed into a touch football game in order to celebrate the “little man” on the way. “plus,” she added, “you get to eat cake.” yeah, pretty much.

there is a metric assload of stuff about baby gendering that bugs the crap out of me. i HATE it when people learn they are having a little girl & they constantly refer to her as “a princess,” “the little princess,” “our princess,” etc etc. i also hate it when people seem to struggle with buying their baby gear because they fear that a lot of the flowery/pastel stuff out there is not “masculine” enough for their baby boys. i recently witnessed a woman cooing over a really pretty yellow floral crib sheet, & then talking herself out of buying it because she didn’t know her baby’s sex yet & didn’t want to risk buying something so “feminine” if she was having a boy. i tried to tell her that a baby doesn’t care what color his sheets are. babies can’t even see color right away! a baby doesn’t know what a flower is, & there is really nothing intrinsically feminine about a flower. i tried to encourage her to just buy what she likes, because she’ll be the one washing the sheets, making up the crib, looking at them everyday & having feelings about them. but her attitude is really more the norm, at least in the united states. & that makes me sad.

in my internet due date club, the vast majority of women chose to learn the sex of their babies, & most said they were doing it so they could “plan & prepare.” by which they meant, come up with a gender-appropriate nursery theme, buy gender-specific baby clothing, etc. a few women who were either choosing not to find out or, like me, wanted to find out but weren’t planning to do the whole gender-specific shopping spree thing, tried to point out that you can “plan & prepare” with gender-neutral pieces, or even buy what you like, pink or blue, & use it with baby regardless of sex. that’s pretty much what i did. i found some kimono-style newborn tees at a consignment sale for fifty cents each & i bought them, even though they were specifically labeled “boy colors” (blue, orange, red, yellow). at the same sale, i found a newborn booster for a convertible car seat. i bought it, even though it’s hot pink. at the time, i didn’t know if my baby was a boy or a girl. either way, it will need some tees & an infant booster may be useful if its car seat is a little too big when it’s a newborn. i sincerely doubt the baby will care about the colors.

but i will also say that being pregnant for real & thinking about what you would do if you were pregnant are two very different things. i never expected to have as powerful of a gender preference as i did, & i never expected to be overwhelmed by intuition about my baby’s gender (which only added to the preference problem). i still think the idea of a gender reveal party is kind of silly & definitely not for me, but i now have an intimate perspective on how weird pregnancy can make a person feel. there’s a real sense of powerlessness. sure, you can try to take care of your health & you can hope for the best, but there’s no way to control everything. there’s no way to tell if your pregnancy will be easy or horrible, if labor will be brief or interminable, if the birth will go as planned or completely off the rails, if the baby will be an easy sleeper & natural feeder or a colicky all-night screamer, if the child will grow up to be kind & smart or a big stupid jerk. learning the sex can give a pregnant lady some tiny sense of knowledge or control–even if she acknowledges that it doesn’t really tell her anything about who her child will really become. while i don’t advocate taking that info & rushing right out to enroll baby in peewee ice hockey or ballet, i understand the impulse to want to know SOMETHING, & then to share that tiny shred of knowledge with all the people you hope will be invested in your baby’s life & well-being. hollering about how it reinforces the gender binary & marginalizes the gender-non-conforming among us misses the point & is needlessly divisive, in my opinion.

(standard caveat: in this post, i use the terms “sex” & “gender” more or less interchangeably, not because i don’t know the difference, but because i am usually using the most popular terms when i talk about “gender reveal parties” & “gender-appropriate clothing,” etc. most people prefer to use the term “gender” when talking about babies, because they don’t know there’s a difference between sex & gender, they are intentionally conflating sex & gender because they’re kind of jerky that way, or because they just don’t like using the words “sex” & “baby” in the same sentence.)

i wouldn’t force this pregnancy stuff on my worst enemy

despite all my clever jokes, the pregnancy is definitely taking a turn for the uncomfortable & potentially worrisome. on sunday, i hit the pool hardcore while jared stayed home & did research. i usually try to do sixty laps at the pool, but my last session had been truncated by lightning, so i decided to try to make it up by doing one hundred laps. the other people at the pool kept me entertained as i water-trudged back & forth, back & forth. i saw another pregnant lady at the pool with her partner. she looked more pregnant than me. i kind of wanted to jump out of the water & say, “i’m pregnant too! want to come over for dinner sometime?” that is always my reaction when i see other pregnant ladies. i start daydreaming about how our babies will become best friends & we’ll watch each other’s kids so we can have date nights with our partners & we’ll hit the baby consignment sales together, etc etc. but i’m too scared to say anything because i still worry that i just look fat, not pregnant, or that they are pregnant with their seventh baby & are already all stocked up on mom friends, or that they’ll just have really different parenting philosophies & we’ll hate each other or something.

there was also a dad at the pool with two little girls. one was maybe six years old & the other was a baby, probably under a year. the baby was in a little baby innertube with holes for the legs so she could sit in there & be safe. he put the little girls in the lane next to me & did a few laps while they watched. the baby gnawed on her innertube & the older girl patted the baby’s head with water. i guess they were getting bored though, so he let the older girl ride piggyback while he pushed the innertube back & forth across the pool. so cute. i hope jared does stuff like that with our kid.

anyway, while i was walking home, i noticed that i felt weird. there was a strange, painful pressure around my pubic bone. i have heard of this weird condition that afflicts some women in later pregnancy, where their pubic bone actually separates because of the relaxin. apparently it’s incredibly painful. i started worrying that maybe this was the start of something awful. i asked about it in my due date club on the internet. one woman said it had happened to her during her last pregnancy & she was confined to a wheelchair until after the birth. another woman said that her first symptom of something being amiss was when her hip suddenly dislocated & she fell down on the ground screaming in agony. & these are women who chose to get pregnant again! holy shit! having a kid must be AWESOME to make someone risk their bodies like that more than once.

the pain i had was nowhere near that bad, but of course i woke up in the middle of the night worrying about it anyway. i called my doctor’s office & the nurse said that usually the dislocation thing is WAY more painful than what i was describing & it was more likely that the baby was just wedged up against my pubic bone in an uncomfortable way. she recommended stretches & liberal dosing with extra-strength tylenol (i have not told my doctor’s office that they really need to stop giving me the okay to take pills–the reason i’ve never experimented with hard drugs or heavy drinking is because i know i’m an addict at heart, as manifested by my grand love affair with over-the-counter sleeping pills). the baby moved the next day & now my pubic bone feels fine. though my ego is a bit wounded by the fact that jared’s response to this whole area of concern was, “haha. you said ‘pubic’.” that guy is going to paragon of maturity in the delivery room.

& then yesterday, jared & i decided to check out the new grocery store in east lawrence. it’s not technically new–just refurbished. it’s the closest grocery store to our house & used to be known as the “dirty dillon’s”. they tore it down last summer & completely made it over. this is why jared & i got a car, actually. this grocery store was close enough to walk to, but the other stores require a car, & we had to use the other stores while the dirty dillon’s was being transformed into what the local newspaper is calling the “dapper dillon’s”. it had its grand opening on sunday & it IS pretty dapper. there are now bulk bins, a “cafe,” a starbucks, an expanded bakery section, skylights, new carts that don’t have sticky wheels, way more express & self-check lanes…the produce is all displayed in a really arty way. we needed garlic, but it is now located in a faux roman pedestal bowl on top of a large display of various onions & endives. i almost couldn’t reach it with my big pregnancy belly getting in the way.

about halfway through our shopping trip, i started feeling crampy, clammy, & shaky. it got worse & worse & i noticed the crampy feelings were coming in waves. i actually had to stop & breathe through them. i haven’t felt anything like this all pregnancy. i bailed on jared when we got to the check-out & went & laid down in the car. sitting down immediately made me feel better, & by the time we got home, i was 100% back to normal. i assume this was braxton hicks contractions? it seemed too early, but i looked it up online & i guess it’s not uncommon for women to start feeling them this early. some women say they don’t hurt, some women say they do. i say THEY DO. it was probably nothing compared to labor, but the anxiety of experiencing a contraction at only 18 & a half weeks pregnant (baby won’t be viable until 24 weeks) definitely added to the pain.

of course the internet is of two minds. half the respondents in my due date club say, “same thing happened to me last pregnancy, don’t worry about it. just make sure to stay hydrated.” half say, “this happened to me last pregnancy, i ignored it, & then i went into preterm labor at 23 weeks & delivered at 26 weeks. call your doctor ASAP!” plus i’m still getting headaches, my feet are starting to swell (slightly) & i am scared of getting elephant feet, my hands feel swollen but don’t really look different (though i don’t wear jewelery, so it’s hard to judge), i’m congested all the time, i’m way too hot all the time…i’m just uncomfortable. already. & i still have 18 & a half weeks to get through before i am considered officially full-term (37 weeks). wish me luck, guys. on the plus side, i finished the top of my baby quilt:

it’s kind of messed up in places, but the baby will probably be messed up in places too. they’ll be a matched set!

bumpwatch terror alert: 17 weeks, part two

i really just have more stuff to write about, hence the part two. here’s a bonus 17-week maternity swimsuit photo (unaltered) to ease us in.

do i LOOK like it’s okay for you to touch my belly?

so, i’m totally stoked & simultaneously a little chagrined that it took me 17 weeks of pregnancy (plus the eight solid months of trying to conceive, plus the two years of pre-conception baby rabies) to think up the perfect place for the baby to sleep! i knew from the get-go that i didn’t want this baby in a crib. that’s just not my jam at all, & i don’t want to have to deal with getting up & having to bruise my armpits on a crib railing to pick baby up for a middle-of-the-night feeding. plus, in our tiny little house, there’s really nowhere to put a crib.

i pitched the idea of co-sleeping to jared & he was on board. (as he has been for like everything i have suggested for this baby. cloth diapering? let’s do it. baby-led weaning? sounds great. baby sign language? why not. babywearing? makes total sense. d.i.y. baby purees? as if we’d do anything else.) at first, i figured we’d get an arm’s reach co-sleeper. the baby can be on my side of the bed, so i can just reach over & scoop it up for nighttime snacks, but it wouldn’t actually be IN the bed, which is a morass of ever-shifting blankets & pillows & adults. i am seriously the thrashiest sleeper, & my side of the bed looks like a hobo encampment that’s been hit by a tornado EVERY morning. it’s even worse now that i have the snoogle. it’s just really not a safe space for a baby. with the baby in its own zone, maybe it will have a fighting chance at staying alive.

but then i talked to some co-sleeping mamas who sleep with their babies in the bed. they say your sleep habits change when you have a baby & you’re always aware of where it is, even if you’re asleep. one mama i know said she used to be a really thrashy sleeper too, but now she sleeps through the night in one safe position so her baby can sleep next to her. i was like, “okay, sounds legit. maybe that will work for me too.” & then i heard about the humanity co-sleeper, which is a kind of mat thing with a pillow built on to the side to keep the baby from slipping between the mattress & the wall. i decided we should do that.

but after a few weeks, it suddenly occurred to me that babies nap a lot during the day. where would the baby nap if all we have is this weird mat/body pillow thing for an adult bed? once the baby can roll, it’s not really safe to leave it in the bed without pillow forts on all sides, & before the baby can roll, it risks being smothered by our mattress pad. plus i don’t want to be stuck in the bedroom keeping an eye on the baby while it naps. sure, sometimes i’ll be napping too, but sometimes i’m going to want to seize the opportunity to brush my teeth or pay some bills or something. so we went back to the co-sleeper idea.

& suddenly today i remembered that some people (including a mama i know, so i have no idea how i forgot that this was an option) buy regular cribs & turn them into side cars for their beds! duh! this is fucking genius! it addresses all the problems! baby has its own nighttime sleep zone but is still right there for feedings. it can go down for naps there & will only require a pillow fort on one side. it can stay in the sidecar until it’s kind of old–but the arm’s reach co-sleeper isn’t safe to use as a co-sleeper anymore once the baby can sit up (like six months-ish). it can be used as a play yard then, but obviously that’s not really where you want your baby to be sleeping at night. jared’s pretty handy & can probably transform a cheapo crib off craig’s list into a side car. i’m so stoked! i was looking at dropping like $200 for a co-sleeper we’d only be able to use for like maybe a year, tops–& that’s if we get a really lazy baby. we can find a used crib for a fraction of the price & use it twice as long!

i mean, part of the reason i want to do all this co-sleeping babywearing breastfeeding baby food-making natural birth stuff is because it’s the CHEAP way to have a baby. if you don’t have painkillers at birth, you don’t have to pay an anesthesiologist. if you breastfeed, you don’t have to shell out money for formula. cloth diapers require an upfront investment, but over time, they are WAY cheaper than using a fresh disposable diaper every time your baby “visits the office,” as jared puts it, & cloth diapered babies are sometimes toilet trained sooner too. a sling is way cheaper than a stroller. mashing up some bananas or avocados for the baby is a lot less expensive than buying bananas & avocados pre-mashed in glass jars.

there’s this natural parenting community thing i read on the interwebz, & one of the women involved posted an article last night about how a new study shows that vaginally birthed babies have higher IQs than cesarean-birthed babies. i thought it was so totally stupid. like, “sorry you didn’t get into college, junior, i just could not dilate for the life of me!” i recently took an IQ test & scored 138–that’s “smarter” than 99.5% of all other people. so smart, in fact, that i can tell you that IQ tests have been shown to be culturally biased & not predictive of successful life outcomes. just look at me, i dropped out of high school. maybe it’s because i was born via cesarean–i’m smart, but not smart enough to do anything with it. maybe there’s some benefit to pureeing your own baby food & toting baby around in a sling, but i don’t subscribe to this whole “parenting choices determine a child’s success or failure in life”. ultimately the kid will start making its own decisions. i’m just trying to do what i can to mitigate the beating my checking account is taking in the meantime.

it’s not cute to complain about pregnancy, but…

back when i was first pregnant, everyone kept telling me how much i was going to love the second trimester. “oh, it’s wonderful,” they said. “your nausea disappears, your energy levels are back up, your belly pops & you look super-cute, people on the street can see that you’re pregnant & they’re really nice to you, but you’re not super-huge & uncomfortable yet. it’s all the good things about being pregnant & none of the bad!”

those people lied.

on the first day of my second trimester, i was felled by a splitting headache. that headache has waxed & waned in intensity but it hasn’t completely gone away & it’s been literally like three weeks! staying hydrated doesn’t help. sleep doesn’t help. snacks don’t help. acetaminophen doesn’t help. laying in a quiet dark room doesn’t help. back rubs don’t help. it’s just a constant headache, sometimes severe enough to mimic all the great secondary symptoms of a migraine (nausea, vertigo, seeing spots).

i suppose my energy levels are back up. that would certainly explain why i can no longer sleep past 5am no matter what time i go to bed. i’m not even in that huge pregnant phase where i feel really achy & uncomfortable. well, except for sometimes when i stretch the wrong way & the ligaments holding up my uterus scream in protest & i have nightmare visions of my placenta detaching & my baby dying. but that only happens like four or five times a night.

i was dicking around in an internet chat room for pregnant ladies & a bunch of women who are freshly-minted second trimesterers were gabbing about how often they had to get up to pee in the night. because here’s another lie: supposedly your uterus rises during the second trimester, relieving the pressure on your bladder. so if your baby spent the first trimester snuggling up on your bladder like it was a damn bouncy castle, supposedly you get a reprieve during the second trimester before the third trimester comes along, the baby takes over all the real estate in your abdomen, & you’re back to peeing fifty times a day.

so these ladies were yakking about how they aren’t experiencing relief yet & are still getting up to pee two, sometimes even three, times a night.

fuck you, ladies.

you know how often i’m getting up to pee? i’ve started keeping track. my average is eight times a night. my record is twelve times in one eight-hour stretch of sleep during which time no fluids were ingested. another record is three times in ten minutes. actually “three times in ten minutes” is become my default setting. sometimes jared goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth or re-organize my collection of bubble baths or to replenish the hand soap & i want to murder him because he is standing between me & two minutes of bladder relief. don’t think i haven’t considered propping myself up on the kitchen sink. if it wasn’t a freestanding relic from when the house was originally built 90 years ago & i wasn’t aware that i’d be fighting in the “super SUPER heavy” weight class if i was a professional wrestler…well, let’s not finish this sentence.

but maybe worst of all for right now is the constant unbearable hunger. & yet, my nausea hasn’t disappeared as promised, so i’m on a constant seesaw of being so hungry that i’m nauseous, & then so full that i’m nauseous, interspersed with a few episodes of making poor food choices & inadvertently devouring something that made me feel really sick. apparently i can no longer eat sugar at all–even the thought of it makes me want to vomit–& root beer is my sworn enemy. root beer! i ordered it a few times at restaurants because it seemed like a healthier choice than regular cola. i was thinking,” no caffeine, that’s a good thing, right?” & as jared pointed out, it has such a healthy-sounding name. aren’t pregnant ladies supposed to be all about roots? but i have never been so sick as when i made the mistake of drinking root beer. i can handle all-natural sodium-free hippie root beer with no high-fructose corn syrup, but anything else is a catastrophe. & ironically, straight up coca cola causes fewer adverse effects than regular old water (which makes me nauseous…i drink it anyway though because i am terrified of becoming dehydrated & somehow giving myself pre-eclampsia, even though i don’t know if there’s a real link between dehydration & pre-eclampsia).

& then there’s the emotional rollercoaster. right now i’m cresting a hill called “oh my god i just HAVE TO KNOW if this baby is a boy or a girl!” i had totally intended to wait until the birth because i thought that’s what jared wanted, & i thought he felt really strongly about it, & i wanted to collaborate with him on something that made him feel excited, & i also trusted that i could rely upon his dedication when i started to waver. & then he let it slip that he really didn’t give two fucks about waiting. the only reason he hasn’t expressed an interest in learning the sex in advance is because he just doesn’t care. i mean, he’s pumped to be a dad & everything, but he has zero feelings about the baby being a boy or a girl & he just doesn’t see the point in finding out in advance, maybe because he thinks it would be extra effort or something? i don’t know if he totally understands that there’s going to be a medically-indicated (ie, covered by insurance) anatomy scan in a few weeks & we can take a peek at the baby’s junk then if we want to.

i’m not proud of wanting to know, because of course i would rather sit on my high horse & proclaim that gender is a social construct & that my baby’s bits indicate nothing about its personality or interests or anything else, that a baby is a baby & i will not have society foisting its expectations upon it before it’s even finished cooking, & i am just too evolved to think for a second that the knowledge of a penis or a vagina would inspire me to feel more connected to the baby. but it’s just not how i feel. i want to know because i think it will help me connect with the baby & i feel like such a cop-out terrible feminist for even thinking that, let alone writing it down in a public space. i also want to know because i am seriously worried that if they lay a dude baby down on my chest after the birth, i will cry, & they won’t be tears of joy. if i am going to have any negative feelings about my baby’s sex (again, i’m SO not proud that this is even a dim possibility, but becoming a parent means confronting some of the worst parts of yourself & dealing with them post-haste), i’d really prefer to process them & get them out of the way well before it is born.

so i guess i’m going to schedule an ultrasound next week & within the next month or so, i’ll know whether i need to buy camo diaper covers covered in naked lady silhouettes or pink ruffled diaper covers to match the glittery fairy wings i will force my lady baby to wear. KIDDING. but hopefully i’ll have an educated guess on the sex.

it’s like a neverending, really hot playdate with nothing to drink but kombucha

maybe a few weeks ago, i was dicking around on the internet, as you do. i was perusing some terrible advice website, similar to yahoo! answers. maybe it even was yahoo! answers, i don’t remember. anyway, someone had posted & asked, “my baby is bleeding from the eyes. what should i do?” the “best answer” selected was, “go to the emergency room.”

after taking a moment to fervently wish that i never have to confront a situation where my baby is randomly bleeding from the eyes, i had to laugh at this person whose immediate impulse when confronted with an obvious medical concern was to consult dr. internet. maybe i truly am of another generation, having not been raised with computers & internet connections, but when confronted with true emergencies, going online is just not my default solution. the internet is for reading snarky recaps of babysitters club books & looking at cat pictures. it’s not a licensed medical professional.

so i posted this observation to facebook. my suggested answer for this person was, “accept the fact that you are a terrible parent.” one of my friends, who is a nanny but not actually a parent, got VERY upset about this & left a long response about how it’s never appropriate to call someone a terrible parent because parenting is really hard work & sometimes people make mistakes but they aren’t going to be helped by having their parenting abilities defamed. she elaborated that some people don’t have money for medical care or access to doctors–some people are isolated in rural areas or very poor or both or something.

but not so rurally isolated & poor that they can’t afford a computer & an internet connection? seriously, if you can get online, you can probably get within striking distance of an ER, especially when the situation is an infant BLEEDING FROM THE EYES. don’t give me all that “check your ER access privilege” malarkey. in the united states, emergency rooms are obligated to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. when i was a teenager, i did live in such a rurally isolated area that we couldn’t get cable TV access. but there was still a hospital like half an hour away.

a few weeks later, jared & i got to chatting about the episode of “beverly hills, 90210” where donna is in trouble for drinking at prom. plot synopsis: before the prom, there is an assembly where the students are informed that drinking at the dance will not be tolerated. they are told that anyone who is caught drinking or drunk will be barred from the graduation ceremony. not that they won’t graduate. just that they won’t get to walk in the ceremony with their classmates. & maybe there was some kind of summer school/community service element, i forget the details. so the gang goes to prom & donna manages to get completely wasted in the bathroom. to the point that she can no longer walk under her own power. it’s up to her friends to try to sneak her out of the school before any chaperones notice that she’s toasted. but of course, they fail, & donna is in big trouble.

she’s brought in for a disciplinary hearing & informed that she won’t be walking in the ceremony. her friends think this is really unfair because she wasn’t the only one drinking–she’s just the only one that got caught. somehow they convince, like, the entire school to rise up in solidarity with her. they stage a walk-out & storm the hearing where they demand amnesty for donna & permission for her to walk in the ceremony with them. & despite the fact that the school administrators made the rules more than explicit upfront, & donna brazenly disregarded them, they cave & cancel the punishment.

i posted about this on facebook too, because it’s absurd, & one of my friends wrote this rant about how she’s some kind of a teen educator (not a teacher, i don’t know what she does–tutoring, maybe?) & it’s a developmental reality that teenagers find it really important to do what their friends are doing & have their friends’ approval, so it would have been psychologically crushing for a teen to be barred from walking in the graduation ceremony with her friends. she also said that events like graduation ceremonies are important milestones & preventing someone from participating in one can be, i don’t know, emotionally scarring or something.

um, maybe i am missing something, but isn’t that kind of the point of a punishment? you take away a privilege that really matters to the kid. what the hell is the point of a punishment that the kid doesn’t care about at all? when i was a teenager, if there was something i wanted, like a show i was dying to see, or a sleepover at a friend’s house, & i broke a rule, obviously stopping me from doing that thing i wanted to do was going to be a far better deterrent than, like, making me do lines or something. it’s like this girl was suggesting that telling kids that there are clear consequences for misbehavior, spelling out exactly what those consequences are & what kind of misbehavior they’d have to do to earn the punishment, & then actually following through when someone misbehaves is, like, cruel & unusual punishment. isn’t it more cruel to keep moving the goalposts by being completely inconsistent in what you say & what you do? isn’t it cruel to society to not hold kids responsible for their actions?

it’s nice to have principles, i guess, like that it’s never okay to suggest that someone is a terrible parent, or that teenagers have unique developmental needs that must come before everything else. the problem is when those principles brush up against reality. or when people start coming up with hackneyed excuses to ignore the fact that sometimes people make really bad choices that potentially have long-term consequences. & i feel like this is the morass i am wading into by becoming a parent. i’m in for a lifetime of, “hey! some people’s only access to sound medical advice is yahoo! answers, okay? we can’t all call up mayoclinic.com like you!” & “subjecting your children to reasonable consequences for their poor life choices will turn them into sociopaths!” hell is other people, & the ninth circle is reserved for people with lots of opinions about children.

what we talk about when we talk about the bulk bins at the hippie grocery store

jared wanted to go to the hippie grocery store the other day to buy pumpkin seeds so he could make homemade granola. i know, right? i probably don’t need to explain that this is the same dude who won me over to cast-iron. i had been skeptical of anything that a) you can’t clean with soap, & b) is often used by people who live in collective houses & sew their own pants. so we went to the hippie grocery store & i guess jared figured that as long as we were there, he should stock up on pastry flour, lentils, i don’t even know what all he got. i was too busy wandering around in a stupor, saying things like, “bulk honey! what a great idea! wow, look at these cunning little glass jars with cork lids! can you imagine being the kind of morally superior person that would have a legitimate use for something like this? man, i wish i was the kind of person who cared enough about her health to actually eat stuff like steel cut oats drizzled with flax seed, blueberries, & goat’s milk yogurt!” i think some of the other shoppers thought i was making fun of them, but i was DEAD SERIOUS & totally having an aspirational hippie consumer experience.

before i got pregnant, it’s not like i was unaware that i don’t always make the healthiest or most responsible choices when it comes to what i eat or how i spend my leisure time or whatever. example: one of my friends was telling me recently about how her dad is kind of an intellectual practical joker. apparently he once convinced a child that he often sees that “down” means up & “up” means down, so the kid started asking to be “picked down”. he convinced another friend, recently emigrated from some country like turkey or something, that pizza is the ultimate american health food because it provides all the major food groups in a single recipe. the dude just started eating pizza for every meal, & as my friend (who is teeny tiny, i should add–i helped her pick out a graduation dress once & she had to request the dress off the mannequin because all the dresses on the floor were too big; this is not a problem i have EVER had) was explaining this part of the story to me, i was like, “yeah, of course, that’s pretty much how i live, pizza is the world’s most perfect food.” but i guess the conclusion to the story is that the pizza dude gained a bunch of weight & started developing high blood pressure & such forth from his purportedly “unhealthy” all-pizza all-the-time diet.

anyway, i had this idea that once i got pregnant, somehow a switch would be flipped & i would transform into a version of myself that does all the stuff that i imagine people better than myself do. like cook with cast-iron without being resentful that cast-iron has to be cleaned in a different way from all the other dishes. or eat steel-cut oats with flax seed, blueberries, & goat’s milk yogurt. or ride a bike to prenatal appointments (because the hospital isn’t really THAT far away…maybe like twenty blocks? maybe less). keep an introspective & insightful pregnancy journal. take weekly belly photos to enjoy the way my body changes. spend more time sitting on the back porch with a library book, soaking up the sunshine. getting out the sewing machine & making all my own cloth diaper wipes from old towels & soft flannel patterned with cheerful animals. realizing that keeping a stock of witch hazel could be a use for a cunning cork-top glass bottle that is also good for my health & healing. actually read the articles my friends send me about the dangers of vaccinations instead of just throwing them away & then distancing myself from the crackpot friend. i could go on.

i feel that i have spent a good chunk of my life feeling alienated from people that do things like go running around the pond just because they like to stay fit & active, or who join amateur marching bands as adults & learn how to play the french horn, or decide to invest $10,000 in buying a falling down old cabin & then renovate it completely relying only on their own skills & those of their friends. these are things i feel that i would NEVER do in a thousand million gazillion years, but i also have this nagging suspicion that the people who do do these things are probably happier, less judgmental, less cynical, & more well-liked than i am. & don’t i owe it to my baby to try to be happy, well-liked, non-judgmental, & non-cynical? i don’t want to be that mom that sees her baby walking for the second time & is like, “right. awesome. call me when you learn to stop shitting yourself.”

because jared & i can’t afford the hippie grocery store (seriously, some bulk grains, a new water bottle, & a three-pound chicken cost us almost $60, & we had to pack it into a reused cardboard box, which again, is one of those things that a person morally superior to myself probably wouldn’t resent at all), we go there very rarely & only to buy specialty items we can’t get at the regular cheapo grocery store. so every time i go, it’s a weird aspirational consumer experience where i imagine what life would be like if, you know, i was the kind of person that remembered to bring her own canvas bag to the grocery store & hand-bound her own journals & noted the passing of the seasons by pressing leaves & enjoyed eating new & unusual fruits, etc etc. i look around at everyone else in there & i’m like, “i bet you can do triangle pose without falling over, & i bet that guy over there totally knows how to make potato soup without a recipe, & that lady definitely knits her own socks.”

now that my pregnancy is like a third of the way over (-ish), i am coming to terms with the fact that becoming a mom is not in fact going to fundamentally change my personality. i’m still going to eat pizza. i’m still going to drag my feet on going to the pool for pregnant lady exercise. i’m still going to go into really long-winded explanations about how i cope with hot weather that result in me accidentally quoting avon barksdale from “the wire” (“you only do two days: the day you go in & the day you get out”). i’m still going to primarily interface with the world by making fun of the stuff that i think is stupid, which includes everything from musical theatre to people who stencil their baby’s name on the nursery wall to people who think being arrested by campus security is a really effective way to wage political protest. baby, you can’t change me.