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Category — family

It’s not always sunny in Babylandia

Knowing that less than five percent of women actually go into labor on their due date, I knew I was definitely not in labor on June 12th when that really bad indigestion hit in the evening. Definitely not.

Except, of course, I totally was. (It wasn’t indigestion.)

Fifty-one hours of laboring without an epidural later (and I seriously am not saying that to sound like a bad ass… if I didn’t have an allergy to lidocaine which basically made every single anesthesiologist at Wuesthoff vehemently refuse to give me one — not that I/we asked, but the nurses check anyway “just in case” — I probably would have ended up begging for one… actually, I can’t say I didn’t beg for one, because I was delirious with pain the majority of the time), I ended up with this:

My little Rafael. Oh, the posts that I have typed out in my mind about him! His “firsts”, every smile, the way he smells… that slightly traumatic birth story, how hilarious it is when he pees on you when you change his diaper, how I didn’t expect to love this much: love him, love George even more, love life, love love. But those? Those are posts for another time.

This is yet another post, along with all those status updates on Facebook, about how I can’t believe seasoned moms never tell you _______.

I have never in my life, not in my late teens/early 20s, not when partying it up in school, not when travelling to foreign countries with limited time to see everything I wanted to see, not when my body was capable of recovering much more quickly and didn’t understand the concept of exhaustion or hangovers or any such nonsense that youthful bodies are apparently impervious to which made me push myself much further than my limit on a regular basis, been this exhausted. Ever. Ever. Holy balls.

Why? Why are even the parents who laughingly say, “Sleep now while you can!” LAUGHINGLY SAYING IT? Why aren’t people more serious about how completely destroyed you will be only 11 weeks in, and how you will sit on the corner of your bed at six in the morning and cry because your baby is crying because he is gassy and nothing you’ve done all night has helped, you’ve had little or no sleep in days, you’re cranky and you’re taking out the frustration and overwhelm-ation on the one person in the world who is actually helping you by swooping in and soothing that little man after they’ve gotten not-a-whole-lot-more sleep than you have.

And that? That is just one of the unexpecteds. Because no matter how much you prepare for all things baby-related intellectually and think you know what you’re getting into… man. That first baby, these first experiences, there’s no way to really be ready. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself (and what George keeps telling me), because I’m secretly convinced that everyone else has a magic formula that I missed out on and that it’s easier for all other parents who never confess that despite their child being the absolute best thing that ever happened to them, they, too, curled up into the fetal position and cried watching someone else pacify their baby.

I love my kid. When he smooshes his little face into my neck when he’s sleepy? When he smiles when I make silly faces at him and speak in a high pitched voice? When I see how healthy and happy he is? That’s when I know there’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing than raising him, than being there. That’s when I know that the tough times are worth it.

But this whole baby thing? It’s not easy. And I am here to tell you, friends, family, and Internet world, that I mess up, I get overwhelmed, sometimes I think I can’t do this or don’t want to because all I want to do is TAKE A FAH-REAKING NAP.

And I don’t see what’s so wrong about that.

So all you magical, mystical stay-at-home moms who use natural soaps to hand wash and line dry your cloth diapers, who make cute little frittatas for breakfast with eggs from the chickens you raise and veggies from your organic garden, who have photo-contest worthy dinners on the table promptly at six every evening, who manage to have time for pedicures and haircuts and brunches with your friends? I alternate between envying you, hating you, calling shenanigans, wanting you to come over and do my laundry while I nap, and accepting I will never be you.

But that won’t keep me from trying.

September 2, 2012   3 Comments

THAT Person

It’s been months since I’ve posted, and not due to a lack of things going on in my life. Really, it’s been more because of multiple conversations I’ve had over the past four years with people, to this tune…

“When you get married/get pregnant/have kids, just don’t become that person who only talks/tweets/status updates/blogs about any-of-the-aforementioned-things!”
“Oh, no, absolutely! No way.”

Except… that’s exactly who I am. I am totally that person. That person who, when you ask them what’s up in their life, mentions the most important and dear things to them? Yep. That’s me. Sure, I also have rich intellectual and cultural experiences and challenging professional moments… I read a lot of good books, watch a lot of amazing movies, work on wonderful translation and interpreting projects and conferences (and sometimes, some mind-numbingly boring ones), experience amazing things (like final shuttle launches and tropical vacations, dinners with friends and breath taking sunsets)… but the most important things in my life are definitely my husband, this soon-to-be-born-baby, and our family in general.

I never thought that would be me or that I would be happy about something like that. Go figure.

I don’t have volumes to share about my experience being pregnant (lucky you). I love this baby already, but I haven’t been the biggest fan of being pregnant. I am a huge fan of the miracle of pregnancy, of the statistical improbability and unlikelihood (and yet pure science) of each human being being formed exactly and perfectly imperfect as they are. But I could do without the vomiting, the sweltering heat at all times (even when it’s cold for others), the swollen extremities, the lack of sleep, the random bouts of exhaustion, the little hernia next to my belly button, and the Braxton Hicks contractions (that make me think there is no way I will ever push this baby out, please don’t make me, please? because if those aren’t even the real thing, Lord, just SHOOT ME NOW).

Despite all that, my mood has been generally happy. Happier, in fact, than just normal. I don’t know if it’s due to reading how much the mother’s mood affects the baby, but I just feel like I’ve never felt before. I do get really easily annoyed by things and people on Facebook (but really, who doesn’t?) and by certain people in general, but that’s relatively easy to deal with.

George hasn’t had it bad: I’ve had pretty much no real cravings, at least not a single one involving making him drive somewhere late at night to get me a random item of food that I’ll no longer want once he makes it back home. The worst thing he’s had to deal with is the one that still makes him laugh (but only after I’ve snapped out of it — he’s no dummy): THE UGLY CRY.

Yes, the ugly cry is still alive and well. Except now it’s even more random. Like a couple of days ago. We were lounging around, replying to our Draw Something opponents, when I started poking him and tickling him because of something he said. By the time he stopped laughing and looked back at his phone, he moaned, “MAN! I wasted three bombs while you were bothering me!”

Bothering me.

Bothering me.

I cannot even explain what happened in my brain in less than a fraction of a second to take me from hyena-like cackles to snotting, hiccuping tears. IT WAS NOT RATIONAL.

“I *hic* am so sorry *hic hic* I bother youuuuuuuu. I won’t *hic* bother you anymore!”

All the while, my rational brain is watching this display, trying hard not to laugh in the middle of the hiccups, and wondering who that crazy lady is. George just tried really hard not to laugh, hugged me until I came back to the real world, and his laughter finally exploded when I said, “Get this baby outtttt offfff meeeee!”

That is what you are doing to my hormones, Baby. Making me even more crazy than I already knew I was. So. No pressure… but I kind of need you to be hilarious and full of surprises and to sleep through the night all the time and get straight As and never rebel as a teenager. Deal? Awesome.

April 27, 2012   6 Comments

He’s a unique snowflake. My unique snowflake. :)

While making dinner, I realized that classical music was coming from my garage. I know I am saying this like it’s a weird thing — it’s not that we’re not cultured and worldly people who listen to classical music, because we totally are — but how often does classical music come from your garage? How often does classical music come from your garage while your husband is waxing his car (or otherwise nerding out with man-toys)? Lynyrd Skynyrd? Sure. Techno? OK. CCR? Possibly. But Johannes Brahms?

And I like it.

A couple of nights ago, I was sitting on the couch while George was at the table working on some homework. My battery was at 6%, time to plug in the cord.

“Hey, do you know where the extra Mac power cord is?”

“Plugged into my computer?”

“No, the EXTRA one. Is it in your school backpack?”

George walks over to the living room, where I hadn’t seen his backpack WAS, pulls it out of the front pocket, smiles, shows it to me, puts it back, and walks away.

“… Hello? I need it.”

“Oh! Well, you just asked me if I knew where it was.”

“I’m sorry, let me rephrase: do you know where it is and may I use it, please?”

We both laughed. He wasn’t trying to be funny. That’s just the way his brain works.

I have spent a lot of time during our marriage getting annoyed about things like this. I know it’s not even necessarily a man thing, just a him thing. And lately, I’ve been thinking about all the me things he overlooks without even trying, without it even being something he actually overlooks, but flaws he simply doesn’t notice because there are much more important things in life. I’m constantly surprised and pleased and touched by this person who I have chosen and who has chosen me to spend our lives together.

My conclusion is this: I’d much rather raise children and spend the next 50/60/70/80 (hey, I’m an optimist) years with someone who forgets things from the grocery store, needs clear instructions when asked a question, and doesn’t do the conventional thing all the time than with someone who will not respect me, consider me, make me laugh without fail every single day and put me first and foremost in his world like I try to do with him.

/end mush

January 18, 2012   3 Comments

Pregnancy brain and other disasters

Today, George sent me a seemingly innocuous video.

Innocuous, that is, unless you are a 20-something female in her first trimester of pregnancy. Two-legged chihuahua HAS NO HANDS, OK? NO HANDS. I am totally ugly crying over here.

You’d think he’d’ve learned by now. Last night we watched “Country Strong” (which I think I didn’t like at all, but my taste, including in movies, seems to be out of whack right now, so I’ll get back to you on whether I really liked it or not in, oh… 18-22 years). There’s this little boy towards the end with leukemia. You know the scene is coming, but when he appears in the frame, with his lack of eyebrows and his giant cowboy hat? Well, I don’t think I’ve ever lost my crap quite as quickly as I did then and there. Emotional, couch-rocking, chest-rattling sobs, snot everywhere, the works. Not pretty.

So, word to the wise: please avoid showing me anything cute, anything sad, or anything having to do with little animals or children. Especially sick children. Or sick little animals. Or sick little children dressed like animals. Thanks.

November 2, 2011   10 Comments

Oh, baby baby.

It’s officially public: against all odds (well, against some slightly dramatic and emotionally-loaded odds which I might discuss at some point but are still a little too overwhelming to me), we’re having a baby.

If I were to write everything I feel, I would be here forever. I don’t have the experience to know any wise words to share with anyone right now, either… So I’m just going to go with what I said to a friend who asked me to scare the baby fever bug away from her:

“OK… I will tell you this: I get up to pee like five times a night. I stress over things I didn’t even KNOW I CARED ABOUT. I’m even more of a hippie now because I’m thinking about the world this baby will inherit. During the day, I pee another 25 times. I gag when I brush my molars or floss back there, my gag reflex is NUTS. Almost every single smell makes me gag. Foods I love taste bitter and disgusting to me, like licking a vomit lollipop. (Yes, that’s the description I chose to go with, you’re welcome.) I have HORRIBLE headaches, I’m sleepy all day, my appetite sucks except for wanting spinach, pretty much, which I grab in handfuls from the fridge, rinse, and then shove in my mouth. I want to barf all the time, seeing babies makes me cry, hearing babies cry (even on TV) makes my breasts hurt.

“However, I’m going to ruin your life now by telling you that I never assumed there could be something as awesome as putting a hand to your abdomen and knowing a little baby is growing in there, a baby that is there against all odds (because really, conceiving is CRAZY unlikely), product of that love between you and your husband (in our case, obviously that’s not the only way to have a baby). Reading about the different phases it enters into, knowing you will cuddle it, nurse it, and get to have that kind of closeness with someone nearly a YEAR before they are born? Amazing. Also makes the nausea, peeing, and puking totally worth it, because each time it happens, you think, ‘Well, that means it’s all going right!’

“And man, when you see that little heartbeat on the screen? Your life as you know it is TOTALLY OVER. Just throw your hands up in the air and admit you will be a love slave to this little human being NOW.”

I was always a little afraid I had no maternal instinct, that I would never feel warm and fuzzy about a little blastocyst growing inside me, or that I’d just be indifferent while people stared at me in confused horror for my lack of emotion.

Totally wrong. All I want to do is love this baby, protect it, eat healthy for it. I can’t stop touching my abdomen, I can’t stop getting a little emotional over the miracle (yep, I’m going to be one of those people) of there being three people when there only used to be two. And I can’t wait to hold it, change it, bathe it, feed it, love it, and teach it.

I kind of really love you already, kid. Even if you do hate all animal products so far and are basically turning me into a vegan. I still love you. That’s serious business.

October 26, 2011   5 Comments

Brats (and I don’t mean the children)

Every so often I will run across posts/comments on blog or Facebook that just make me angry. I know, little even-tempered ol’ me? Angry? Lies and calumnies!

I get particularly upset when these posts have to do with certain aspects of parenting. Now, I know you’re thinking, “Are you freaking kidding me? You don’t even have children yet, just wait until you do and then try being all holier than me!” But see, the thing is, it’s not even that. I don’t care if you co-sleep or if you put baby in the corner, I don’t care if you breastfeed or formula feed, I don’t care if you stay at home or take your child to day care, I don’t care if you cloth diaper or disposable it up. I may have very defined ideas about what I plan to do when it comes to decisions like those, but that doesn’t mean I’m inflexible or incapable of realizing that when the time comes, I may change my mind and that many things depend on the patience you realize you have, your child’s personality and temperament, and your life circumstances at a given moment in time. There are no two identical mothers, and even if there were, their husbands would be different (if they were even in the picture) and vice versa. We, and our life experiences, are all unique snowflakes.

So what are the parenting statements that bother me? Gems like these: “I was going to go to Bonaroo, but I couldn’t find a baby-sitter for this kid.” Or, “After two hours of trying to feed Mikey and him just spitting everything up, I gave up. And now that I have to go to my nail appointment, he decides he’s hungry. GREAT, CHILD.”

Look, I understand and appreciate that when you have a child you are exhausted, hormonal, and that it’s an emotional roller-coaster dealing with your tot’s moods, rhythms, and needs. I understand that sometimes we all need to vent. I understand that sometimes a parent may suddenly feel like they stopped being an individual and are just “Jonie’s mommy” and are frustrated that they always have to put someone else’s needs before their own (or… at least I hope they do).

What I don’t understand is this concept that a child, a toddler, and even an infant has to conform and fit around the lifestyle you were accustomed to, and any deviation from that pattern is seen as a discomfort or a nuisance. You had a child; your life will naturally change. (“Organically”, one might say. Erin, I’m lookin’ at you!) Your child did not ask to be brought into this world. Your child did not nag you to pop open those knees and lay back and enjoy the show — and I don’t mean childbirth, I mean the nine months prior. Your child did not choose you as a parent, it got you.

And he/she is a blessing… remember? Remember 9th grade biology and awkward high school health class when your gym coach had to talk about conception while everyone uncomfortably shifted in their seats? The likelihood that a woman happens to be ovulating AND fertile AND that a particular sperm fertilizes that egg AND that it implants AND that it develops into a baby that grows to term? Those odds are NOT THAT DIFFERENT from the odds that there are planets in our universe inhabited by sentient beings. So, blessing indeed.

George laughs because I often say that it frustrates me that people are logically required to obtain driver’s licenses to operate a hunk of metal. No one disputes that little law, right? It’s to ensure the safety of all of us as a society. Well. I think people should be required to obtain baby-having-licenses before procreating. First, you should be a certain age. Second, you should have certain skills under your belt… I’m cool with people having a learner’s permit while they acquire the aforementioned skills. Third, you should pay every so often to renew that license to make sure those skills are still sharp. If you do it wrong, do something that recklessly endangers others (a.k.a. YOUR CHILD) then you should get a ticket. And if you drink and parent, you should just get your license taken away. (And by drink, I mean do anything stupid.)

I recently read a Jezebel article entitled, ‘Isn’t a baby supposed to cramp your style?‘ I’m normally a little weary of any family-related Jezebel articles, but it made me super hopeful to realize that there are parents out there that put their children first and don’t lament (or resent) their lives changing.

All this to say… next time you’re rolling your eyes over having to find a sitter, having to clean poop off the seat of your car, or not getting enough sleep, remember that you chose to have sweet sweet love making your child.

August 29, 2011   3 Comments

Happy Birthday, Schmoopy

Today (or well, yesterday, now that it’s after midnight) was George’s 32nd birthday. In typical and wonderfully-charmed-life fashion, a short essay he wrote on the final shuttle launch was featured on Jalopnik.(And speaking of “charmed life”, today he got to do what no one gets to do: say goodbye to Atlantis ON THE PAD before she goes…)

It was a great day: I woke up early to prep his presents and make one of his favorite breakfast dishes, eggs benedict, and wow am I glad I did. It took me for-freaking-ever to get the poached eggs right (only one soldier egg was lost in battle). I highly recommend smitten kitchen‘s tips on how to poach a perfect egg, and this amazingly quick (and d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s) recipe for hollandaise sauce. The result (as always, click pics for larger versions):

So delicious. I really hope George enjoyed it, because I’m not really excited on embarking on that little adventure again any time soon. Breakfast should not be that much work!

Tangent! Before going to bed the night before, I was planning this breakfast in my head, so I had a nightmare about it. In my nightmare, Diane (my mother-in-law) and our friend David Precht showed up and demanded plate after plate of eggs benedict. I couldn’t prepare them quickly enough, they got progressively angrier, and George’s birthday ended up being a disaster. (Disclaimer: my mother-in-law is in no way a nightmare — she is, in fact, an angel. I can’t say the same for David Precht, though!)

After doing some yard work/work around the house, we went out to lunch (or rather, were treated to lunch) at Thai Thai by the lovely Maia, along with Frank and his brother, here for tomorrow’s STS-135 launch.

Mmm… bento boxes, how I love thee.

When I got home, I was surprised to find, in usual George fashion, a present for me on his birthday: Pyyyyyrexxxx. (I cannot be the only weirdo who gets excited about kitchen utensils, please tell me I’m not alone.)

All in all, an amazing day for an amazing person.

I love you, babes. Happy Birthday.

July 8, 2011   9 Comments

I married a rocket scientist

It is surprising how many of my friends have asked me, after meeting George, “What is it like being MARRIED to him?” He is all energy, happiness, hyperactivity, and scientific explanations for why raindrops have the precise shape they do. Well, folks, you now have your answer in the form of a joke email forward I got from the man himself a few minutes ago. Enjoy!

A wife says to her engineer husband, “Could you please go to the store for me and buy a carton of milk? And if they have eggs, get six.”
A short time later the husband comes back with six cartons of milk. The wife asks, “Why the heck did you buy six cartons of milk?”
“They had eggs.”

Welcome to my world.

April 11, 2011   6 Comments

All’s well that ends well

Funny how quickly we communicate with others when something is wrong, but how, in our relief, we forget to let people know when things are going well. I’ve gotten a couple of emails that have reminded me that I’ve been remiss in updating as to Mister’s condition. Thank you for your messages, comments, mails, and concern…

On February 4th, exactly one week after he was admitted to Williamson Medical Center and subsequently Saint Thomas Hospital, a smiling George Sr. was released.

Given the type of heart attack he suffered, we all know it is a blessing and a miracle that he is alive. His doctors took amazing care of him, his wife continues to take amazing care of him, and we’re all grateful for all of your prayers. The well-wishes have been overwhelming… knowing that there is that much love out there gives me an even more positive world-view.

I think something this scary has pushed all of us to be more serious about our health, what we put into our bodies and what we do with our bodies. If Mister hadn’t made the healthy choices and changes he had over the past three years, who knows what his outcome might’ve been or what his recovery possibilities may have looked like… Definitely a wake up call for all of us.

And again? Thanks, guys.

February 9, 2011   5 Comments

Matters of the heart

George’s dad had a massive heart attack this past Friday. He and Diane were working out, he started feeling pain, got “sick”, and she drove him to Williamson Medical Center in Franklin. He walked into the hospital on his own two feet, and he didn’t have the heart attack until he was actually there surrounded by medical professionals. It’s really a miracle (beyond the amazing medical attention he’s been receiving) that he’s alive, because the type of heart attack he had is called “The Widow Maker“. From the moment you have the heart attack, there’s a very small window for you to receive attention before you’re gone. The fact that he was at the Medical Center WHEN IT HAPPENED is just beyond words. He was then transferred to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, with an excellent CCU as well as a reputation for treating difficult cases in the Heart and Heart Surgery field.

We’ve been camping out at St. Thomas since, grateful for the deluge of family and friends that have come by with prayers, hugs, stories, jokes, flowers, and snacks. I think it’s been wonderful for all three siblings to be able to be together. Even when there’s no talking, it helps to just know you’re all there.

Yesterday, they removed the intra-aortic balloon pump George Sr. had in place. This morning, they took him off the respirator, and he’s now breathing on his own. He did develop pneumonia from having the breathing tube in so long (which is very common), but St. Thomas has a five-star rating from HealthGrades for the treatment of pneumonia, so he’s in the best possible place for that. They’re taking things slowly, one step at a time, and it helps to have Liz, George’s sister who is a surgeon, laying everything out and explaining things to make them a little less scary.

Additionally, it feels as though George Sr. will have half the battle won once he pulls through. He already enjoys working out, and he and Diane eat better/healthier than anyone I have ever met. He also will have an amazing support system in place, family and friends who love him and will cheer him on, and his “Missy” that loves him in a way I have rarely seen…

I am always very cautious not to push my beliefs on others, and sometimes I feel a little awkward when Big Things™ happen and I ask others to pray for something, but this is one of those times that I would definitely like to ask anyone who is prayerfully inclined to please pray (or continue doing so, for those who already have been) for George Sr. and family. If you don’t believe in prayer, please send good karma, loving wishes, good vibes, or whatever you feel comfortable doing.

February 1, 2011   5 Comments