Category Archives: charlotte

what to expect when you’re not really expecting severe pre-eclampsia

today has been the first really boring day in the hospital. monday was a whirlwind of meeting doctors, social workers, financial consultants, etc. they had me on magnesium & a catheter for the entire day so i wasn’t allowed to get up. i was hooked up to a fetal monitor 24 hours a day, having blood drawn every few hours…i honestly barely even remember the details, even though it was just a few days ago. they did let me eat dinner, but i don’t remember what i ate.

the constant monitoring doesn’t stop at night. monday into tuesday, someone was coming in every few hours to take my blood pressure & top off my magnesium IV. every time they lost the baby on the monitor (due to the baby or i shifting positions), someone had to come it to adjust the belts & sensors. they give me a sleeping pill (at my discretion–i can refuse it if i want, but i love sleeping pills so i’m happy to take them), but there are still a lot of interruptions. the night nurse told me i was free to order breakfast, so when 6:30am rolled around, i did.

the head perinatal nurse came in an hour or two later to walk me through the day. a lab tech had come in a few hours earlier & drawn more blood to look again at my platelet levels & liver enzymes. she said my platelets were good but liver enzymes were even more elevated, which was very concerning. i had only had my second steroid shot (to mature baby’s lungs) the night before, so she said they would try to hold off on delivery until at least 24 hours after that second shot, but that the likelihood of me still being pregnant by the end of the week was slim indeed. just as i was trying to digest that concept, a doctor that i have dubbed “doctor hysterical” ran in hollering about my liver enzyme levels.

“we NEED to get this baby out,” he said.

“shouldn’t we wait until 24 hours after the steroid?” asked the nurse. “she only has about fifteen hours to go.”

“i really don’t think we have time for that,” he said. “someone else is on deck for surgery at noon, but i’m scheduling her for 2pm.” he turned to me & said, “i’m ordering a second round of bloodwork to look at your liver again but i’ll bet anything they’re even higher now, & if they are, or if there’s no change, we’re taking the baby at 2pm. ordinarily i wouldn’t want to deliver at only 32 weeks, but we can’t risk you getting any sicker.”

so. yeah. i was kind of so shocked that i couldn’t even react. i called jared & our doula, both of whom showed up at around 11:30am. the lab tech came in shortly thereafter to take blood. the NICU sent down a representative to walk me through the ins & outs of what to expect as far as having a baby up there & how 32-week-old preemies do. our doula helped guide us through what to expect from an emergency cesarean & facilitated a conversation with our delivery nurse, which was really helpful. they put me back on magensium to control my blood pressure & prevent a brain bleed in the baby during the birth. they laid a bunch of other lines for the anesthesia & everything.

& then the lab results came back. my liver enzyme levels had actually DROPPED a tiny bit since 6am. it was a totally unexpected result, & they canceled the surgery, took me off the magnesium, etc. i can’t even explain how i felt. on the one hand, i was enormously relieved. a baby born at 32 weeks will generally do all right, but we were looking at about a month in the NICU. if we can scrape by to 34 weeks, the time the baby will be in the NICU will drop exponentially. on the other hand, i just kind of wanted to get the whole thing over with & begin the recovery process.

our doula left–she looked exhausted. she didn’t say anything about what her week had been like, but she looked like she might have been at a birth the night before. jared stayed with me while i came off the magnesium, until my headache got bad enough that i encouraged him to leave. the first time i was on mag, they kept me on it for nearly 24 hours, & i was sick for another 24 hours after they took me off–vomiting & everything. it wasn’t quite that severe the second time, maybe because i had experience with it, or because i was only on it for about four hours this time, but i still had a headache to beat the band.

the next day (yesterday), i started experiencing chest pain. that can be a sign of pulmonary edema, fluid retention in the lungs…basically, just a bunch of bad stuff related to pre-eclampsia that is really bad news. they did a bedside chest x-ray which came back clear. they did a bedside EKG which also showed no abnormalities. a bedside echocardiogram indicated that my heart is in perfect health. no one could figure out what was wrong so they started giving me heartburn medicine to see if that would fix the problem, even though i told them it didn’t feel like heartburn. i am not ruling out the possibility of it being an anxiety symptom though. i mean, look at the situation i’m in. who wouldn;t be anxious?

jared visited for a good chunk of the day, even though i just slept a lot because i was worn out from all the heart/lung tests. shortly after he left, they took me off the constant fetal monitoring for the first time in almost 72 hours. that gave me a lot more mobility–i can now get up to wash my face or whatever without needing the nurses to come in to readjust the monitor afterward. i still have to do an hour of fetal monitoring every four hours, but that’s so much easier than being on the belts 24 hours a day.

my labs are still bad–protein over 1000, elevated liver enzymes. they have started referring to my situation as “severe pre-eclampsia,” but they really want the baby to bake a little longer. & although my labwork looks bad, it is stable. it’s not getting better, but it hasn’t gotten worse in the last few days either, & i am relatively asymptomatic as far as non-magnesium-induced headaches, swelling, & vision changes go. things could go south at any moment, & they would send me an emergency cesarean, & there’s pretty much no chance they will let me leave the hospital before i have the baby, even if i am stable for weeks. i also don’t know if i will be permitted a trial of labor or if i will be sent for surgery. they are really concerned that labor could tip me over into seizures or a stroke, given my poor lab numbers. but for now, we’re trying to keep the baby in for as long as i can handle it, & today has been a good day. i feel better, physically, than i have since before i was admitted, i was able to tour the NICU & see some babies, & they are talking about reducing labwork to every other day. they also told me that they have a pet policy & jared can bring charlotte in to visit me! i smell the hit buddy movie of 2013!

bumpwatch terror alert: week 31

i’m still a little behind, but this is the most recent pregnancy photo, from last weekend:

definitely looking a little bit puffy.

yesterday was thanksgiving. i had to go to the hospital & get some labwork done. specifically, i had to drop off a great big jug of pee (the look on jared’s face when i explained that it had to be refrigerated to inhibit the growth of bacteria was truly priceless) & relinquish a few vials of blood. because it was a holiday, the elderly docents that usually rule the registration desk with an iron fist were gone. off terrorizing their great-great-grandchildren, i assume. i had to go to the ER to register, which was unsettling. & then the lab tech misread my orders & thought i needed to pick up a fresh jug for the 24-hour urine catch. i was like, “oh no, i already did that. it’s in my bag,” & he was like, “awesome! hand it over!” it’s really awkward handing someone a jug of pee. i felt like i should say something, so i said, “um…happy thanksgiving!” luckily, it got a big laugh.

jared & i did a fairly traditional thanksgiving dinner, despite at least a week of non-stop haranguing on facebook from all our well-meaning hippie friends who want to convert the world to vegetarianism & raise awareness about the genocide of first nations people. i was the same way when i was 21. so was jared. i don’t know what happened. i just find all that shit really tedious now. i mean, be a vegetarian, that’s cool. i have no problem with that. i even have some great vegetarian-friendly recipes i can make when i invite you over for dinner. it’s also a very good thing to set the historical record straight when it comes to indigenous people in north america, & the fact that they are still around & still being oppressed. but there’s something about the social networking aspect of all of this that makes it kind of insufferable. add in a bunch of people flipping out over how fucked up & consumerist black friday is & exhorting everyone to celebrate buy nothing day & it’s just a perfect storm of sanctimony. no one is saying anything i disagree with, but they’re also not saying anything that is blowing my mind so it all comes across as a distinctly smug strain of white noise.

then again, i read something recently about the way hormones affect a pregnant lady’s brain, making her want to just hunker down in a safe place with her baby bump & be loved & focused on her growing family more & more as pregnancy progresses. rationally, that strikes me as a bunch of essentialist wombmoon bullshit, but i can’t deny that i have become more & more averse to political arguments & drama as my pregnancy has progressed. compared to growing an entire person from scratch, arguing about buy nothing day–AGAIN, because people have been getting up on their self-righteous buy nothing horses for well over a decade now–seems utterly ridiculous.

jared & i were talking about buy nothing day last night after dinner & he said, “buy nothing day. the holiday created by ‘adbusters’. a magazine whose livelihood basically depends on impulse purchases at whole foods. kind of ironic.” the man makes a good point.

anyway, for dinner, jared brined our turkey & it was fantastic. moist & just a hint of saltiness. he also made cornbread stuffing, which was superb, sour cream mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce with apples, & gravy. i contributed green bean casserole, made from scratch. i might be from ohio, but this is not a household that uses cream of anything soup as an ingredient. we also made a pumpkin pie (from scratch–we used the baby’s food mill to puree the pumpkin), an apple pie, & a chocolate pecan pie. i reduced the quantity of syrup & sugar in the pecan pie & added extra pecans & chocolate. it was a lot better that way. denser & not as sugary sweet. jared just used molasses to sweeten the pumpkin pie so it had a rich pumpkin flavor. the apple pie was something of a disaster. jared was too tired after cooking everything else to make a proper lattice so a lot of moisture escaped during the baking process. he deemed it his worst pie ever. i’m not wild about apple pie to start with, so i wasn’t too disappointed.

we ate & ate & ate some more & then we laid on the couch to digest for a while. i asked jared what he was thankful for & he said, “i’m thankful for our new family, & the generosity people have shown us in the baby showering process. & i’m thankful for the internet. …actually, in retrospect, i’m not so thankful for the internet.” i said i was thankful for him & the baby & charlotte, especially the fact that charlotte is much nicer now that she’s getting kind of old. & i’m thankful that i only have like seven weeks left in this pregnancy.

i told jared i read this goofy story involving a 15-month-old in “parenting” magazine while i was at the hospital lab waiting for my blood draw, & he said, “fifteen months? that’s barely even two years old.” i said, “it’s barely even one year old.” he said, “no, you’re one as soon as you’re born.” i was like, “what?” & he was like, “yeah, it’s like the millennium, how there’s no year zero so the first year is one…oh wait. never mind. okay, you’re zero when you’re born.” i laughed & laughed & he got kind of upset about it. my doula told me that her husband had been thankful when their first baby was born that the baby didn’t have “sticky skin”. apparently he thought that some babies were inherently sticky & he was worried about getting a sticky one & having to pick cat hair off of it all the time. i think this was jared’s “sticky skin” moment. i don’t know where dudes come up with this stuff.

he also thought i was chuckling at how slow-moving he was when we were getting ready for bed & he said, “it’s hard to get ready for bed when you can’t bend at the waist because you have an entire thanksgiving dinner in there.” i flipped up my shirt to show the bump & was like, “dude, tell me about it!” he took this perfect three-second pause & then said, “you ate a baby?!?”

bumpwatch terror alert: week 26

how have i not toppled over yet?

only fourteen weeks until my due date! that’s only 98 days! i’ve broken into the double digits. i’ve said it before, but this pregnancy is flying by. i can’t believe how little time is left before we finally meet the baby…& how much is going to be packed into those few months. & damn, i am getting huge. i had to see my primary care physician yesterday for a foot issue i was having, & she weighed me, as per protocol. i had gained four pounds just in the two weeks since i last saw my obstetrician. i’ve gained almost thirty pounds altogether so far. i wonder what the final tally will be? the baby still has a good six or so pounds to gain to reach a decent full-term birth weight, so i can undoubtedly count on gaining at least ten more.

i keep telling people that i’m having a really easy pregnancy so far, but i am starting to realize that that’s not completely true. my baby has been head down pretty much from the start, which is great in some ways, because it’s not compressing my lungs so much & it means baby is in a good position for birth. but it causes a lot of uncomfortable pelvic pressure, which is alleviated to some degree by a maternity belt, but not completely. there’s a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction in which pregnancy causes the pelvis to separate. i’d heard horror stories about women dislocating their hips & being confined to wheelchairs until delivery because they literally couldn’t walk with this problem, so i assumed i didn’t have it. i mean, my pain isn’t THAT bad. but i am starting to realize that it’s pretty damn bad & would probably be a whole lot worse if i couldn’t just sit down & put my feet up whenever i want.

plus i have some swelling in my hands, which is pressing on the nerves & making them numb all the time. i haven’t had full feeling in my right hand in weeks. the swelling isn’t severe–there’s no edema. but it’s enough. the extra fluid is also putting a lot of pressure on my already arthritic finger joints & making my hands really stiff & sore all the time.

when people talk about pregnancy symptoms & discomfort, you think of morning sickness, fatigue, maybe a sore back & swollen ankles. i was totally unprepared for this whole pelvic dislocation thing & the numb hands. why didn’t any of my mom friends warn me? it’s manageable, but i’m realizing that these symptoms are not terribly common & kind of undermine my claims of “an easy pregnancy”.

anyway. jared will be back in kansas in just a few days! i can’t wait to see him. every time he goes out of town, something weird happens with his phone, & this trip was no exception. his phone just stopped working one morning. i have the same model, purchased on the same day, & mine still works fine. it took him a few days, but he managed to replace it with a crappier model (or at least, a model with a crappier camera). so i am relieved that i am able to get in touch with him again in the event of some weird emergency. he’s going to a baby shower today for a friend of his that is pregnant with twins. better her than me, that’s for damn sure! (ps–i bet no parent of multiples has ever heard that hoary old chestnut before.) it made me realize that i have never actually been to a baby shower before. my first baby shower experience will be my own next weekend.

apparently jared’s mom & brother got together & decided to throw us another shower while we’re in boston at the end of the month. i have recused myself from all involvement planning for it. i’ve been a little more involved in the shower here, ordering the invitations & handling the RSVPs & such forth. but i am getting into the third trimester now & am starting to run low on energy again. most days, i consider it a victory if i manage to change out of pajamas & run a comb through my hair. but it will be cool to see how the boston shower goes. most of the invitees are members of jared’s extended family. kind of nerve-wracking for me. i have so little relationship with my own extended family, rubbing shoulders with other people’s makes me really anxious.

on the topic of family, check out the onesie my sister made for the baby:

it’s charlotte!

& speaking of charlotte, she has some weird bumps on the skin of her back. they look kind of like lumpy warts or something. the fur around them is coarse & greasy. they don’t seem to bother her–she had no reaction when i touched them. i did some research & it seems like they could be anything from cat acne to a fungal infection to simple dermatitis to skin cancer. i had a little phone consult with a vet who said they didn’t sound like an emergency, but that it was worth bringing her in. but she’s so vicious, i can’t get her into her carrier by myself. well, i probably could (& have in the past), but it would be an endeavor. i tried yesterday, just to see how willing she would be. she didn’t yowl & scratch like she has in the past, but she did wiggle & whine & puff up her tail. so i let her go. she seemed sad that i’d subjected her even to that small indignity. i’m going to wait until jared is back in town to help me.

man, i made the mistake of mentioning to a group of pregnant women that i was born five weeks late & now they won’t stop talking about how dangerous it is to allow your pregnancy to progress past 42 weeks. there was even talk of how one woman knows someone whose baby died at 41 & a half weeks. of course. because no matter what you do during pregnancy, there’s someone who knows someone who did that same thing & their baby died. the fact that i sit here as a reasonably healthy & definitely 100% alive former 45-week baby means nothing. i also never said i was planning to allow my pregnancy to go significantly past term. i was just making conversation. it’s so weird that people flip out about that but they have no problem scheduling cesareans for 36 weeks, even though there is evidence that a 36-week-old fetus’s lungs are not fully developed yet. but do i comment on that? no, i do not. except i guess i just did.

never will i ever: baby edition

my favorite google search since this pregnancy was confirmed has got to be, hands down, “useless baby gear”. but that’s probably a post for another day. what i really want to write about is my second favorite google search: “things i said i would never do before i became a mom” (& variations). so many people out there have written blogs or posted on messageboards, making fun of themselves for their naive beliefs about how they would parent. it’s like the old saying goes: “i was a really good mom…before i had kids.”

i feel that i have about as reasonable a set of expectations about what parenting will be like as i can, given that this is my first baby, i have almost no close friends with children, & i haven’t even touched an infant in like ten years. i’ve decided to tempt fate by compiling my own list of stuff i don’t think i will do, & then maybe i’ll revisit it in a year or two to see if i actually had my head screwed on straight or if i was as hopelessly naive as i sometimes feel.

i won’t let my baby play with my cell phone. cell phones are expensive! even though i just have a crappy $20 kin one & not an expensive iphone. i still don’t want to risk my baby breaking my phone or accidentally texting someone i don’t like but haven’t deleted from my contacts. i almost never use my phone anyway, so i’m hoping that my baby just won’t realize the phone exists. jared never uses his phone either, so we’re a good team in this respect.

i won’t let my baby bang on my computer & pretend it’s working with me. i DO have a very expensive computer, & i already managed to break the track pad & had to shell out $75 for a “magic track pad” (basically just an external track pad–a mouse would work just as well). i don’t want to take the chance of the baby doing even more damage. i have this fantasy that i will only use the computer when the baby is asleep or having daddy-only time, so maybe it won’t even realize i have a computer. but that is unlikely to work. i spend WAY more time on my computer than i do on my phone, & jared is the same way. we’ll just have to teach the baby that computers are for grown-ups or something.

i won’t let my baby have noisy electronic toys. this is more for my sake than the baby’s. i don’t care if my kid wants to bang pots & pans together, kick its feet on the floor, scream, whatever. i just don’t want all the electronic noise & lights in the house. i prefer my noise natural, & therefore beautiful. or at least not elmo-themed.

i won’t enroll my baby in any weird enrichment classes before it develops its own interests. no baby yoga, no baby karate, no baby soccer. if my kid starts to show some kind of burgeoning interest in the mandolin or french cooking or something, then we’ll see, but i’m not going to force my kid into the kiddie achievement rat race just to compete with other parents. if i am going stir-crazy & want the company of other moms, i’ll try going to the playground more often or something.

i am going to try really, really hard not let my kid have “screen time” before the age of two. meaning: no TV, no checking out movies from the library & letting them watch on my computer, no youtubing “the wiggles”, etc. we already don’t own a TV & i don’t want the kid messing with my computer, so hopefully this will just be a continuation of other policies. i know i won’t have control over what happens at other people’s houses though, & once the kid gets a taste of that sweet, sweet screen, all bets are off.

i won’t try to force or trick my kid into wearing gender-conforming clothes if it doesn’t want to. some people have said that i’ll feel differently someday & do anything to keep my kid from being picked on, but i feel that if my kid is picked on for being gender-non-conforming, it’s other kids & their jerk-ass parents who taught them shitty values that need to change, not my kid.

i will not intentionally introduce my child to disney…EVER. i know eventually the kid will find out on its own, from its friends or whatever, but i’m not going to be the one that brings that evil into my child’s life. what is it about disney? whenever someone tells me they love disney, i just know they vote republican & probably own a texas tuxedo.

i won’t go nuts about organic food & be that mom who won’t let her kid eat birthday cake at a party. i think this one will be pretty easy. i mean, pregnancy hasn’t stopped me from drinking coffee, eating sushi, & snarfing the occasional frozen pizza. i doubt i’ll flip the script where the kiddo is concerned. we eat pretty healthfully; i think we can just stay the course.

i will not post about poop on facebook. i recognize that no one wants to hear about my kid’s diaper incidents, not even other parents.

i won’t beat myself up if i fail to have a natural birth or breastfeed my child for as long as i would prefer (i’d like to do baby-led weaning). i also won’t act like a superior jackass if i do have a natural birth or do extended breastfeeding. my choices are my choices & they’re not for everyone. & if they don’t work out, they don’t work out. the kid will probably be okay either way, which is what matters.

i won’t get rid of my cat just because i have a baby. even if the cat scratches the baby…it’s a good lesson. animals aren’t toys. as my sister put it when my cat slashed her child in the face: “pain is the teacher.”

i’ll probably think of more stuff as time goes on. any experienced parents reading this–what do you think? do i seem to have reasonable expectations or am i utterly deluded?

bumpwatch terror alert: week 17

it’s saturday! which means i get to knock another week off my pregnancy countdown. let’s go to the photo:

arty, huh?

eventually i want to do one with the dripping blood font, but i worry that it’s in poor taste. so i am easing into the world of poor taste by taking a maternity bathing suit photo. to be fair, i didn’t put the bathing suit on solely to take a photo that makes everyone feel uncomfortable. i was getting ready to go to the pool & i suddenly remembered that i’m officially seventeen weeks pregnant today, & jared wasn’t home, so i could pose in front of the full-length mirror in the hallway without being embarrassed by the prying eyes of anyone besides charlotte.

speaking of charlotte…

yeah, she’s really in no position to judge anyone. she sat on the couch in this position for like twenty minutes last night.

hard to believe i will be halfway through my pregnancy (technically–it still remains to be seen if the baby will decide to show up early or late, obviously) in just three weeks. my next prenatal is scheduled for august 31, & we’re also doing the anatomy ultrasound that day, to make sure all the baby’s body parts are developing properly. i’ve decided to go ahead & be appraised of the baby’s plumbing at that appointment as well. i’ve come to realize that i have less of a gender preference than just an overpowering intuition that the baby is a girl. if it’s not, i’d really like to know before the big delivery room reveal, so i can avoid a scene in which i break down into tears because i clearly have no maternal instinct. jared, however, does not want to know, so somehow i’m going to have to not tell him. if the situation was reversed, he would have NO PROBLEM keeping the news from me. when there’s something he really doesn’t want to tell someone, he can really go into lockdown mode. & he is assisted by the fact that i am wildly unobservant. once he got hit in the face with a baseball & cut his upper lip open. eventually the wound healed, but if left a pretty large scar. a scar that i failed to notice for seriously two years. we lived together for that entire time, we saw each other almost every day (unless one of us was traveling). when i finally noticed it, i was like, “have you always had that awesome scar?” i mean, it really suits his face. i don’t know how i missed it.

i, on the other hand, tell everyone everything. & whatever i decide is best to keep from the general public, i still tell jared. i have told jared stuff i have never told anyone before. i have no idea how i’m going to keep the sex of his child from him. but somehow, i will manage. probably by just not telling anyone. i would hate to spill the beans to someone who tells someone who tells someone who sees jared at the library one day & is all, “so, are you excited about the bouncing baby boy?” i would have to hunt that person down & murder them & then my child would have to visit me in prison. no one wants that.

my most recent prenatal appointment was yesterday. these early appointments tend to be pretty dull. they weigh me & check my blood pressure, they take a urine sample, we listen to the baby’s heartbeat on a portable doppler, the doctor asks if i’m having any issues i’d like to discuss, & we schedule the next appointment. but the cool thing is that the baby was going completely bananas at the appointment. dr. mercado asked if i have been feeling the baby moving around yet. i told her that i think i have, but i know it’s pretty early, especially to be feeling a first baby. (they tell first-time moms not to expect to feel the baby until twenty weeks. experienced moms may feel baby earlier because they know what they’re looking for.) but when she was poking around with the doppler, the baby kicked her! she could feel it with just a hand on my belly! so it’s not wishful thinking after all, there’s really something going on in there! the baby was swimming everywhere & she had to chase it down to get its heartbeat. we also kept hearing thumps where it was trying to kick the doppler away. just like mommy when daddy wants to cuddle on a night that’s too hot for human contact! is that gross? whatever.

i also told her that i have been having crippling constant headaches since the beginning of the second trimester. she asked if i had stopped drinking caffeine & i said, “ummm…no. not at all.” she started laughing & said, “you’re like, ‘damn, girl, are you crazy? OF COURSE i’m still drinking caffeine!’ which is good. your headaches would be even worse without it.” um…AWESOME. i love you, dr. mercado! i kind of expected a lecture. she wrote me a prescription for some pregnancy-safe headache medicine (“it might make the baby drowsy”) & offered to refer me to a neurologist. but it’s probably just pregnancy hormones, so i’m not worried.

i also did an interview with a doula. i expected it to be pretty straightforward, like, “hi, i want to hire you.” “okay, that sounds good.” “here’s a check.” “great! see you in like ten weeks to make a birth plan.” but instead, i wound up going on & on & ON about all the dumb concerns i have about giving birth. i guess they’re not dumb…i just didn’t realize i had so many. like, will i be allowed to eat & drink at the hospital? what i i have a vaso vagal episode & know hydration would help? can i still be in the birth pool or other atypical birth positions with an IV? how would my scoliosis impact the efficacy of an epidural? (that was a big one. turns out they don’t work as well, if at all, in women with scoliosis. so it looks like i’m having a natural birth by default, barring some unforeseen medical emergency.) i’m really not scared of labor & birth (whether that’s commendable or incredibly naive remains to be seen), but i do have a lot of opinions, i guess.

babies & cats: pretty much the same, right?

man. i took it upon myself to sweep the living room, which had not been touched in over a week. i did what i always do when i sweep the living room, which is close the closet door next to jared’s desk (he loves to leave it open, which is also his attitude toward all doors, & drawers, & practically anything else that can be opened but ought to be closed). about an hour later, jared told me he heard a banging noise, but i didn’t hear anything over the sounds of the air conditioner, box fan, & ceiling fan (it’s been consistently over 100 degrees for over a week, with no end in sight), & told him he must be imagining things–perhaps the hobo that we pretend lives in the basement.

eight hours later, i gave charlotte her evening meal, but she didn’t come a-running like she usually does when she hears kibble hit her bowl. i checked her cat bed, but it was empty. i checked my closet, where she has recently been hanging out (i leave it cracked for her during the day). i looked under the bookcases in the living room & even under the bathtub. i checked the foyer & started to panic, trying to remember if there was any point today when the front door might have been open & she could have escaped without attracting our attention. then jared looked in his closet, & a dazed, neglected charlotte emerged from within, blinking & looking sad (maybe i’m projecting).

jared & i had a good laugh, since i often try to predict my own parenting abilities based on how well i feel i parent charlotte. this was a major cat parenting fail. probably every cat parent inadvertently shuts their cat in a closet at some point, but not all cat parents are extrapolating their cat-rearing abilities to their projected parenting skills, especially when the hypothetical baby in question is cooking as we speak. but i was pretty amused at the thought of being such a ridiculously neglectful parent that i would shut my baby in a closet for eight hours & not notice until it fails to come running for its evening feeding.

of course i posted about this incident on facebook because, for those readers that are not my facebook friends, i basically use facebook to broadcast all of my failings & foibles. if someone was trying to get a bead on my competence as a human based solely on my facebook updates, i would definitely come up lacking. one of my mom friends commented & was all, “don’t worry, your baby will roll off the couch eventually! it happens!” i was kind of like, “…okay…will my baby roll off the couch & into a closet which then latches? because that’s what i’m talking about.” but instead i just made a remark about how i’d feel bad if i shut my kid in a closet (unless the kid really had it coming…kidding! kidding!). she was all, “LOL! babies are nothing like cats! you would definitely notice a baby missing before you’d notice a cat!”

O RLY? babies AREN’T like cats, you say? this…really changes things. i thought babies were EXACTLY like cats. the only difference i could see is that babies are easier to dress because there’s no pesky tail to get in the way (if you’re lucky). surely babies are self-cleaning & can be trained to poop in a box. i had been planning to just set out some dry cheerios & a bowl of milk on the floor every morning & let the kid feed itself. but in light of this alarming new information that babies are not like cats…i may have made a huge mistake. is anyone in the market for a (hopefully) healthy white infant? i’ll trade it for a cat.

seriously, i know i don’t make myself look good on facebook but i’m not THAT dumb.

on a different, but still baby-related, note, i went to the fabric store today to make some final choices for the baby quilt chepina & i are making. one of the employees asked if i needed any help & i explained i was making a baby quilt & was going to need a quarter-yard of a bunch of a different fabrics, blah blah blah. she asked, “do you know the gender of the baby you’re making the quilt for?” i said no. she kind of paused & then asked, “then how do you know what fabrics you want?” because surely i’ll want army green patterned with naked women for a boy & hot pink sequins for a girl, right? jesus christ. can’t i just pick out some cute fabrics with animals & stuff on them & call it a day?

i did select my fabrics & a different employee cut it for me. when she got to some pink fabric patterned with elephants, she said, “oh! it’s a quilt for a girl.” i said no, it’s a quilt for a baby, & we won’t know the gender until january, & boys can enjoy pink too, especially if some fucking elephants are involved because elephants are the bomb. she started rambling on about how keeping the gender a surprise is such a nice idea but it will be hard for us to shop for baby supplies. i said, “no, i’m pretty much just going to get pink stuff because i like pink & if it’s a boy, he’ll have a lot of pink.” she tried to recalibrate & was like, “well, babies don’t care…dress him in pink when he’s a baby because he’ll never be able to wear it again!” um…unless he wants to? some boys like pink. jared is a boy & he wears pink. what the hell, lady! finally jared said, “if we do have a boy, i hope that he never spends one minute worrying about his baby quilt being appropriately masculine,” & she finally dropped it.

a couple weeks ago, jared & i went to the gap outlet in topeka. the clerk asked me if i was looking for anything in particular. i asked about maternity wear & she said they didn’t have any (curses! i refuse to pay full-price for maternity clothes). then she asked, “are you pregnant?” “yes,” i said. “do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” she asked. “no,” i said. “oh. because i was gonna say, everything at baby gap next door is 60% off. if you knew what you were having, you could get some clothes for the baby. i guess maybe you could get an outfit for each?” or, here’s a radical thought, i could get what i think is cute regardless of gender cues because it’s not like a baby gives a flying fuck.

i know this is only the beginning. i guess i just wasn’t expecting it to start so early! poor little narwhal. everyone wants to know about its junk.

the one where my readers put CPS on speed-dial

one of my facebook bros posted a link to this news story, along with some color commentary about how the teacher is guilty of child abuse. i read it, did a google search for it, read a few other related articles, & then strolled into the bedroom, where jared was working on his computer.

ciara: “jared? i have a parenting a question for you.”
jared: “oh, good. that means that if i don’t answer it right away, it’s not a big deal.” (hilarious, because i am still only about seven weeks pregnant.)
ciara: “so, hypothetically, let’s say our kid is born. & now it’s eight years old. & it’s the end of the school year & the kid’s teacher organizes a little awards ceremony & gives our kid an award for having the most excuses for not completing its homework. what would you think about that?”
jared: “where did the teacher get the award?”
ciara: “at the store. i don’t know. it’s just one of those teacher certificate things.”
jared: “they make certificates for that? it seems so specific.”
ciara: “yeah, i assume it’s a ceremony where each kids gets a specialized award for something about its personality or behavior or something.”
jared: “but that seems so specific to be printed on a certificate.”
ciara: “oh! no. dude. the teacher just bought blank certificates & wrote in the categories. i mean…duh. you’re ridiculous.”
jared: “oh, that makes a lot more sense.”
ciara: “so what would you think if our kid brought home this award?”
jared: “well, it would mean our kid wasn’t doing its homework.”
ciara: “i guess. probably.”
jared: “& going to school & lying about it.”
ciara: “i guess.”
jared: “& probably lying to us about it, because we would probably be asking if it had homework to do.”
ciara: “yeah, i guess.”
jared: “well, i wouldn’t be happy.”
ciara: “because of the award or…?”
jared: “about the lying! & the not doing the homework!”
ciara: “that’s it? you wouldn’t be worried that the award was, like, shaming the kid? or embarrassing it?”
jared: “i really feel that being ‘shamed’ by a certificate is ancillary to the larger problem, which is that our kid is a lying sneak.”
ciara: “would you do anything about it?”
jared: “yeah, i’d be instituting regular homework checks & letting the kid know that lying is not okay.”
ciara: “i mean, would you complain to the school at all?”
jared: “about what? about the fact that our kid is a liar?”
ciara: “about the award?”
jared: “you mean, would i complain to the school because it heckled our kid for bad behavior? no way! kids get made fun of in elementary school. it’s just…what happens in elementary school. if the worst thing that happens is that your teacher gently heckles you for being a liar, you’re getting off easy.”
ciara: “i guess it’s true that any kid that can’t handle getting heckled is no kid of ours. we heckle the cat like every day.”
jared: “i heckled her like ten minutes ago.”
ciara: “man, i am really relieved that we are going to be parenting this kid together. i totally agree with everything you said.”

maybe i am missing something, but i really don’t see anything wrong with this award. sounds to me like the mom was embarrassed that her kid got publicly busted for trying to weasel out of doing homework. my facebook bro was like, “what if the girl has learning disabilities & that’s why she’s not doing her homework? this teacher should be ashamed.” well, what if? wouldn’t it make an even more compelling “bullying teacher” narrative if the teacher was busting the chops of a kid with learning disabilities? you’d think the mom would have thrown that in while she was making a federal case about everything. i’m not sure how teachers are supposed to teach when they are expected to walk of eggshells around something as basic as trying to enforce the fact that homework is supposed to be completed & turned in. in the absence of any indemnifying evidence that this teacher was lashing out at only this one little girl & had constructed a whole elaborate shame ceremony, perhaps in which the teacher gave the other students rotten vegetables with which to pelt her, i’m gonna go ahead & say that i hope my kid has a teacher that feels comfortable joshing around like this when it gets born & starts going to school. if i wanted to raise a selfish, entitled, “look out for my delicate self-esteem” crybaby, i’d just unschool it & set it loose on tumblr for language arts class.

that reminded me of how last week i read this book about “organic parenting,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: surrounding your child with only the most organic of all materials, food, & life experiences. according to this book, everything off-gases. give your kid a plastic teething ring & you have only yourself to blame when your baby immediately develops eyebrow cancer or something. i was telling my therapist about this & i said, “so apparently, everything i do is going to give my baby prenatal autism or make it turn inside out or whatever.” she said, “oh my god! what illness would make your baby turn inside out?” i tried to explain, “oh, that’s just my go-to ‘something bad will happen to my baby’ thing, just because it’s so absurd, it makes me laugh,” but i was thinking, seriously, lady? you have two kids of your own, do you really think there’s seriously a condition out there that makes babies turn inside out?

anyway, my favorite part of this “organic baby” book was the sentence, “do you have a game plan for what you’ll do if your child starts running toward a play structure made of pressure-treated wood?” i guess the concern is that some pressure-treated wood contains traces of arsenic. so i guess my game plan would be to NOT hand my child a knife & fork & call the guinness folks over because my kid is going to attempt to set a world record in pressure-treated wooden play structure-eating? otherwise, i’m not real worried. i mean, cory dollaganger in flowers in the attic had to eat a shitload of donuts powdered with arsenic before he finally snuffed it. i don’t think a good solid lick of the play structure is going to have much impact. & this is why i continue to read terrible books: there is usually some funny buried in the terrible, somewhere.