Monday, July 30, 2007
After a day of work, we went out for dinner and then to the old watering hole, wherein we re-enacted the days of yore by getting completely blotto. Who says you can't go home? It was almost like being just-twenty, except that nobody carded us and, if they had, we would've been able to show non-fabricated ID.
The next morning we continued to uphold tradition by calming our roiling stomachs with grease at the breakfast spot two blocks over. There is nothing like a fat omelette after a night of bourbon and Coke. Absolutely nothing. I was giddy with reality in the form of nostalgia.
Today I turn 29. I am home again and will soon be picking up The Boss from her grandparents'. Tomorrow the grind will again be set to daily. I'm content.
It's easy to go back to college for a weekend and to remember the good times. But I know myself better than that. I know that even then I was never satisfied. I could never live in the moment.
I am finally starting to appreciate now. That, I think, is what may very well make these the best years of my life. I didn't take for granted our weekend trip, or the winding ride back through the Hudson River Valley with its quiet, northeastern splendor. The Partner and I came home to a place I am astonished to call ours. I talked for awhile on the phone to a friend I've had since elementary school. After that, I fell asleep right away in a fluffed-out bed beneath a ceiling fan.
I'm not chasing after something like I have been for my entire life. That doesn't mean I've stopped moving, it just means I'm finally at a speed where I can catch the scenery.
Friday, July 27, 2007
We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?
I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.
Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.
Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.
There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.
Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.
You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.
Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Picture it: our living room, where The Boss sits on the couch. I am grabbing something from the kitchen.
"Goldfish." I hear the Boss's plaintive cry. "Goldfish!" A little louder this time. "Ma-ma! Goldfish!" She is a Fury atop a sea devoid of orange finned crackers.
I walk into the living room. "What do you say?"
"Hmph." I backtrack to the kitchen to get a snack bowl. Shrieks of "GOLDFISH!" fill my absence.
Her eyes are on the crackers as I return. Suddenly she's silent.
"Would you like some goldfish?" I inquire.
She looks at me--no smile, no grab--and says, in one simple word that carries all the weight of an artful shrug, "okay."
"Hmph." Do me a favor, Boss. Do me a freaking favor.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
But it remains to see if I am "Hot Stuff." See, GNMparents.com (whose legitimacy can be vouched for by Mrs. Chicken and Slouching Mom, on the grounds that their talented selves are regular contributors) has instituted a weekly contest. I was all kinds of pleased and even more sorts of surprised to see that my post 24/7/730 was nominated. If you check out the post and decide that it's a hellaciously good read deserving of the "Hot Stuff" designation, please cast a quick and easy vote for me over at GNMparents.com.
Pandering aside, I will now pass along the mic to some more rockin' girl bloggers. If any of the following have already been deemed rockin' and have moved on, please excuse the reverb.
1. Debbie at i obsess. Her blog is a window into her psyche, turning us readers into virtual peeping Toms as she bares all. Her candidness rocks.
2. Amy at Binkytown. She writes about life as a wife, mother and professional in a way that feels like lunch with an old friend. Her conversation rocks.
3. Jocelyn at jocelyn's stories. She weaves words into actual events and fictional ones with equal finesse. Her pen and computer drawings are just as evocative. Her art rocks.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I took The Boss to one of the larger libraries in the area and moseyed into the children's section for the first time. She was enamored of the big, blue Elephant book case and the lower laying alligator. She picked out several books and lured me to the "kitchen," which is Boss-speak for the "couch." It seems she has confused the "tch" of kitchen with the "ch" of the couch. She waved the books in front of me and bolted for the institutionally upholstered library seating. "Kitchen, mama! Kitchen!" When I realized the discrepancy, a lot of her daily dialogue made more sense.
We sat on the couch/kitchen and read some Clifford. The rest of the room was quiet, with a couple young boys milling about in the stuffed animal section and a few girls sitting cross-legged in aisles, books in their lap. I was overly conscious of my voice. I was unnerved by what I knew could only be the hawkish eyes of the librarian.
On our way out, enroute the check out desk, the librarian handed me my books and my card with this admonition: "For future reference, your daughter really needs to wear shoes. It's for her own safety."
I looked at the pink loafers in my hand and sighed. I pictured the moment, a half hour before, when The Boss ripped them off. It had been an authoritative gesture on her part. I would've been crazy to try to wrestle them back on.
"Yes, ma'am." I shoved my borrowings into a plastic bag and hauled The Boss into the rain.
We went back this morning. The Boss was properly geared in socks and double-knotted sneakers. As she was playing with a puzzle, I noticed a list of "rules" on the table.
1. Children must wear shoes.
Okay, I can understand that one. I am no more in favor of parasitic fungus on my daughter's feet than any other mother. It always chafes a little to be reprimanded, but I get it.
2. Please use library voices at all times.
A-ha! "Library voices." That is the crux of my problem with libraries, or at least the children's section. How does a place where one must speak in paranoid whispers lend itself to playful education? It doesn't.
This is what I'd tell the Friends of the Library, if I was so bold: take your puzzles, your stuffed animals, your toys, and donate them to a space where kids can be kids. Leave the books. Leave the uncomfortable couches. Leave your bifocaled librarians. Then figure out how to instill in your toddler zombies a quiet affection for literature.
I love books. I always have. Without exaggeration, I'd take out 14 books on each of my childhood trips to the library, only to return half a week later for replenishment of the exhausted supply. But I did not love the rules. I did not love the librarians. In fact, I retreated even deeper into the pages of every book just to get away.
I know there are libraries out there where kids are encouraged to act in an age-appropriate manner. Where two year olds can speak in the only way they know how: loudly, with animal sounds, with songs. Where the rules are designed around children and their spongey minds. I'm a bit saddened that I've never located one of these libraries, but it won't make me stop looking.
In the meantime, I won't tell my daughter to hush. Not yet. She needs to find her voice before she can modulate it.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I'm the kind of person who assumes miscarriage over successful pregnancy. Psychologically healthy? Um, no. But altogether unrealistic? I think not. And as if that was not enough baggage to carry, I've now become consumed with the fears of infertility. This one is more unfounded, as my ovarian efficacy has been proven on more than one occasion. But those occasions were not planned.
I'm bad at planning and I know it. My plots have a tendency not to work out as I intend. Furthermore, I think the term "planned pregnancy" is a huge oxymoron. How can a person even pretend to have control over 40 (+ or -) weeks of unfolding nature? When it happens, if it sticks, whether or not complications arise--it's an unknowable all around.
Still, I can't help thinking about it. And reading about it. The book I just finished is touted on its front cover, via subtitle placement, as "a doctor's guide to the complete pregnancy experience, from preconception to postpartum." It's called Body, Soul, and Baby and it's written by Tracy W. Gaudet, M.D. and Paula Spencer. I received my review copy as part of the Parent Bloggers Network.
The basic premise of this tome revolves around the benefits of being an active, fully conscious participant in your own "pregnancy experience." It is about using the best of modern medicine without losing the sacredness of the experience. By checking in with your body, soul and baby through Dr. Gaudet's mental and physical exercises, you can "forge a deeper relationship with yourself even as you're creating a relationship with the growing life within."
My main question while I was reading this book, which is sprinkled with stories from Dr. Gaudet's own obstetrical practice, was "where can I find an OB like her?" It is evident that she spends a lot of time with each of her patients in order to help them understand how to use their own unique histories, experiences and ideals to create a positive pregnancy experience in which they feel fully invested. In my own life, I've been ushered in and out of the doctor's office in roughly the time it takes to pee in a cup and have a doppler whipped across my abdomen. If I can't find a doctor like Gaudet, at least I can hold her hardcover perspective in my hands.
I appreciate the underlying theme of this book, which is about the importance of integrative medicine. That's another way of describing a regimen that "integrates the best of convential Western medical practices with a careful selection from a range of other, less mainstream therapies." Examples of the latter are vitamins, massage, hypnosis, accupuncture, etc. All this operates under the belief that pregnancy is not a disease state. A normal pregnancy is not a medical problem. To treat a pregnant woman only as a patient does not address the fact that pregnancy is a completely natural part of life.
This book covers the aspects all the pregnancy guides do, and then some. Preconception and postpartum are allocated more space in Body, Soul, and Baby than in the other general pregnancy books I've read. There are sections devoted to changes in the mother's body and changes in the fetus. There are details at each stage of preconception, pregnancy and postpartum related to the "Five Centers of Wellness": nutrition, movement, mind, spirit and sensation. As your body and your life changes, the book strives to help you find a balance among the most important elements of daily living--the ones that will keep body, soul and baby aligned.
My first read-through of this book was cursory, but it was enough to tell that the the book is something I'll return to and attune to each time a new chapter again becomes relevant to my life. Right now it's preconception. Maybe I'll let you know when I get to the next section: the first trimester. My paranoid pessimism would dictate that I should keep it a secret as long as possible, but the message behind Body, Soul, and Baby is less covert. Pregnancy, Dr. Gaudet says, should be embraced from the very beginning. "It is the starting place for a different journey that, like everything else in life, has both darkness and light." Acknowledging your hopes and fears is one of the ways to get body, soul and baby in sync.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
That was when The Partner and I chose to listen. Indeed, there was a subtle hoo hoo in the distance. We looked at each other below the soft warble. Suddenly there were tweets, too, and the rustle of vivid green leaves, and the smell of sun on dewed dirt. There was everything that had always been there, hovering unnoticed. "Hoo hoo," said The Boss. Sounds can smile--and they did--as we repeated them after her: "Hoo hoo. Hoo hoo!"
"Funny owl!" The Boss chortled. Then she set off on another wobbling lap around the pool. This time we heard the slap of tiny feet on cement. We thought we heard the breeze blow back whisps of her hair. And we were in the moment; we were in this moment where The Boss is turning two.
Happy birthday, little girl. Happy birthday to the one who fills all our senses with her own.
Friday, July 20, 2007
The baby blues? Why didn't anyone...sob...tell me about this? Engorgement? Stop the car now, I need to feed! Poop? What is with my daughter and her explosive ass?
I was recently discussing The Boss's birth with one of my best friends, whose sister was about to have a baby of her own. I mentioned my less than ideal birth experience, to which my friend claimed total ignorance. "I didn't know you had a c-section. When I asked you how the birth went and you burst into tears, I figured you didn't want to talk about it." Erring on the side of caution, she buried the subject. It didn't get exhumed for two years.
"It's okay," I said. "I'm over it." Okay, so that's only partly true, but the main point is that I can talk about it. I've been talking about it for roughly 21 months now--the two years of my daughter's existence thus far, minus the three months immediately following her arrival. I could not have talked about it during that fourth trimester. I couldn't talk about much of anything. It's no coincidence that I started blogging just after The Boss turned three months, when my tear ducts dried up and the verbal floodgates opened.
At that point, I wanted every first-time mom-to-be to know that there is life after "Your Pregnancy Week By Week" and "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy." Even though I wasn't sure anyone would listen, I wanted to put out there the fact that this life, this after, is completely altered in time and space.
Maybe, before, you had a lot of free time. Maybe you thought there weren't enough hours in the day. Maybe you used to worry a lot, or not much at all. Regardless. Now you have no time whatsoever, and your worries are larger than life. This new life. The one that--have I mentioned?--is completely changed.
That's what I wanted to tell people. I still do. But now I wonder if the words can do more than make a temporary impression in the bubble that is pregnancy. After all, the realities of being a mother are completely out of context to someone on the other side of the cusp. It's almost impossible to wrap your mind and heart around something--with all its joys, yes, but also its difficulties--that you cannot grasp until you're right there in the middle of it.
Tomorrow is my second anniversary as a mother. Before July 21, 2005, I was wading in a low tide. Then the swell came and my feet haven't touched bottom since. With The Partner and The Boss and a few planks to float on, it is not necessary to tread water all the time, and the salt is less chafing. Each night the moon pulls us deeper into a sea that is like the womb. And the days close to shore seem lonelier and pale in the distance.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
2. My mother is one of those women who stopped counting at 29, before I had even started. When I first asked her how old she was and she gave me that overused number, I believed her. Of course I did. I was relentless in passing on the information to anyone who would listen, and was flummoxed and a bit put out each time my proclamation was met with laughter.
3. More than well-rounded 30, odd 29 seems emblematic of offical adulthood. As enviable an age it is for those who've already been there, it's that mysterious to those who have not. When I think of 29, I think of my mother, and I look forward to discovering why she thought it was such a good place to stay.
4. Ten years ago, summertime, I worked from 3-11 p.m. at a snack shack. Afterward, I'd go home to my parent's place, where I'd put on jogging clothes to run the 4 mile round trip from my driveway to the town green. Each time I listened to the mixed tape that my friend made me, and I remember the songs to this day: Shelter From the Storm by Dylan, Wannabe by the Spice Girls, Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. I still think of that friend when I hear each song. Then I'd come home, eat a bowl of frosted mini wheats, and chat online with The Partner-t0-be until 4 in the morning.
5. Twenty years ago my fourth grade teacher was recently divorced. The only thing I can remember about her was the fact that she once told us about her wedding dress, which she said had hundreds of buttons all along the back and was a real pain to put on.
6. On my first birthday after The Boss was born--it was nine days later--we went out to breakfast. Before we got in the car, we decided our infant needed a change. The Partner got diaper duty on account of it being my birthday. As soon as he laid her in the trunk of the car and removed her unsoiled Pampers, her pale, breastfed poop was a projectile that shot clear across the car's rear end. Oh, how it hurt my ravaged abdomen to laugh.
7. I would like to have another baby before I am thirty.
8. My dog is also 29, in dog years. How about that.
*This is a meme for which I was tagged by Whirlwind. 8 Random Facts about Yourself. I now pass the torch to Mrs. Chicken.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
It does not make sense to live in fear. I know that. Que sera, sera. But the line between emotional baggage and rational thinking is a thick border crossing not easily traversed. I have a bullshit backpack strapped on ( it's Threat Level Orange, with a reflector strip) and sometimes it feels heavier than others, but it's always there. That's just how it is.
The Partner does not wear a metaphorical L.L. Bean lifetime-warranty backpack like I do. He thinks it's unnecessary and not smart. He focuses on the immediate threats of alarm clocks in the morning and bills paid by Quicken at night. He worries about what is, not what may be.
Sometimes we pick our worries, sometimes they pick us. Que sera, sera.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I wake up every morning from terrible dreams to the smell of urine. It is real and thick. I am still groggy from that slow surfacing from the subconscious depths and I think it must be the dog, who maybe isn't adjusting to the move. I tell myself I'll deal with it later. The sun is just rising; I go back down.
I wake again, to the sound of The Partner's alarm clock, and the smell is gone. There never was one. I've checked. Our sheets and our floors are unoffensive and unstained. There is no sign of anything amiss, and my recollection of it is tied only to bad dreams. I leave the whiff of memory there and don't think about it again until I sit here to write. And even the act of putting words to a screen, which usually helps me understand things, does nothing. I don't know why my dreams stink.
Monday, July 16, 2007
"Running!" she shrieks as her stubby legs and feet that lean away from their arches slam fast across the hardwood floors, or the grass, or the concrete.
She calls it like she sees it at the dinner table. "Mommy is eating," she informs The Partner. Her cocked pointer finger is not accusatory, but gleeful.
When the dog is sunning herself in a patch of light streaming through the window, The Boss is there with the call: "Doggie sleeping." The dog is always sleeping.
Before the verbal trickle became a deluge, her eyes and cries were the only windows into her rapidly expanding brain. Now she is beginning to tell me what she sees. Soon she will tell me what she thinks. We are connected by the communication for now, but independence is on its way.
She is almost two. Go ahead, baby girl. Tell it like it is.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
9. My mom and sister came over on Saturday and helped me unload an entire kitchen's worth of boxes, so I'm not as much of a martyr as I make myself sound.
8. There are Tiger Lilies everywhere. I didn't even know what the orange flower was before moving to this region of Connecticut. Now I see them on every residential, commercial and industrial site in a tri-town area. I thought it would be appropriate if, in the name of Internet anonymity, I refer to my new village as "Tiger Lily" in this blog.
7. After it rains, we find roughly 30-40 dead frogs in our pool filters. No exaggeration.
6. The Boss has been staying with her grandparents while we move. Her grandmother is teaching her French. It's like this: "Bonjour!" Then The Boss puts her own kiddie pop-culture PBS spin on it. "Bonjour, Caillou!" she says. Sometimes I am forced to admit she's a little too fond of the boob tube.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
We interrupt this blog post for an important message, brought to you by the Parent Bloggers Network and Kaboom NeverScrub! Continuous Toilet Cleaning System. Binky has not had to scrub her toilet in three months. We repeat, she has not had to bend over the porcelain chamber maid to scrub in THREE MONTHS. For more than ninety days, the bowl has looked uniformly clean and shiny. The in-tank device (it's refillable!) sits in its concealed state and is recognizable only by the chemical smell of each flush. When mixed with, say, asparagus pee, it is not pleasant. But mild discomfort in the olfactory zone is a small price to pay for never having to scrub one's toilet.
Now back to your regularly scheduled blog reading.
5. I purchased two more boxes of my new favorite product, the aforementioned Kaboom NeverScrub! Continuous Toilet Cleaning System, to use in our Tiger Lily abode only to find that the system didn't fit into either of our toilets. My husband was going to rig up a new hose set-up because he's handy like that, but I heard there's a new and improved version out there. Somewhere. I'm a little miffed that I paid full price (twice) for something that's already obsolete.
4. This house is a labyrinth of electrical switches. The Partner spent two hours on Monday night running all over the property trying to figure out which switch connects to which light fixture or appliance.
3. I am somewhat afraid of garage doors that open automatically.
2. The Partner and I christened our pool naked.
1. The dog jumped onto my hibernating laptop during the car ride on my way from the old house to the new one, and now my hard drive is no more. The Partner says he can retrieve all my backed up data from the server on which he runs all our household computers. I do not even want to entertain the idea of that plan not working out.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
With sticky paper in hand, I returned to my car only to find that it wouldn't start. The Boss was calm and collected as I tried to jumpstart the battery with a big booster thingy I carry around in the trunk but do not know how to use. Thankfully, two gentleman in a tractor-repair truck pulled in across the parking lot just as I began to get disgruntled. I flagged them down and they not only showed me how to properly affix the jumper cables, but proceeded to diagnose and (temporarily) fix the real problem when the jump start failed to work. I was on my way in about ten minutes, extremely grateful to these men for their help and their sunny demeanor. It made my entire day to have interacted with such positive people.
Carrying on in the vein of positivity, check out the new badge on the right hand side of my blog (below the Google ads, which you can feel free to click on as well--a girl's gotta pay two mortgages somehow). The Team Whymommy icon is emblematic of the new coalition rallying behind a fellow blogger who was diagnosed last week with a rare form of breast cancer. A poem she wrote before she got the news sticks in my head every time I go to her blog, and oftentimes when I'm not even at the computer. It is a straight-forward message in chronologically backward form. It is the beginning of a journey that she is inviting us to take with her.
My appearances here will be sporadic over the next week as we settle into our new digs.
Happy Independence Day to all.