Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Naked Tuesday

she is my sunshine, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

It's HOT here.





But as the temperature climbs in this barn we call home, it's nothing compared to the place I'm headed.

There is a special corner of Hell reserved for parents like me. A place where for all eternity your three-year-old know-it-all answers the door stark naked and shakes the hand of the Queen of England, managing in the process to besmear her in sticky jam.

It's a place where every day is Sunday dinner with your great grandmother, and your vociferous little preschooler perfectly articulates every four-letter world known to man while shooting peas from her nose.

It's reserved for parents who for some stupid reason let their toddlers watch "Little Miss Sunshine."

It is reserved for parents who hold their breath as the next morning said child, over breakfast cereal, announces that the grandfather doesn't like the "boring" chicken. (whew).

And it's reserved for parents who consider buying Rick James' Street Songs (delux edition) with three versions of "Superfreak" because she loves dancing (and growling) "like Little Miss Sunshine."

"Mommy. Can I put my dress back on so I can take it off like Little Miss Sunshine?"

"Are you sure you want to do that honey? It's REALLY hot in here."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bag lady

Everywhere I go these days I see those plastic shopping bags. You know the ones with the handles. The ones we have stuffed into every crevice and crack under our kitchen sinks. They're the same ones that crafty types stuff into dolls or other cutesy creatures so as to be neatly and easily dispensed.

But I'm not talking about seeing the bags hanging neatly from a rack at the foot of the checkout counter. I'm talking about the plastic tumble weeds dancing down the street, rolling into the hills, stuck in trees or sailing on the wind.
once they're done hauling our boxes of Rice-a-Roni and Cheez-its home from the grocery store, they seem to have a life of their own.

Every time I go shopping I bring home at least six. Six thin plastic bags that I swear I'll recycle but which end up either tossing directly into the trash or using to line smaller garbage cans instead. Their numbers just keep growing.

I've had enough. This past month when I went to a grocery store I bought a reusable tote to lug my purchases home. I now have canvas (and canvas-esque) bags from Hannaford, Shop and Save and Trader Joe's (my personal favorite).

Since making this decision to eliminate the environmentally challeged bags from my life I have learned two very important things:

1. These reusable bags hold an amazing amount of food items ... way more than anyone ever packs in those silly little disposable bags.

2. I will NEVER remember to bring them along when I go shopping. I wonder if anyone makes a doll dispenser for reusuable shopping totes?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Drama queens ... and their stagehand

Ittybit: LADIES and GENTLEBOTS. Welcome to our latest, newest show.

E: It's called "All About Me."

Ittybit: (stage whispering) But it's about us, too, right?

Friday, July 27, 2007

No introductions necessary

silas sleeps smiling, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

We took Annabel with us to Silas' one-month well baby visit. She was quite the charmer, wanting to show off her baby brother the moment a family of 'big kids' piled in the waiting room.

As they clustered around the fish tank (with it's ever changing inhabitants) this time two goldfish and three frogs ... different from last time when there were no fish but four salamanders. ... but I digress ...

"MAAAAM," she whispered. "Will you please show them Baby Silas? ... GO ON," she begged. Just go over and show them.

She took me by the hand and led me over to the aquarium where the kids were. She squeezed her way through and touched the glass. "See. Look here, mom. ... There's a whole bunch of little fish. They're right there," she said not bothering to look into the tank. The conversation was a smokescreen. All she really wanted was for the kids to get a gander at her brother.

When the nurse called his name, and we all piled into the examining room to see how the little bunchkin's been bulking up, she was all ready with a host of questions she hurled at us in rapid fire:

"Who is is doctor?" "Is this MY appointment or Baby Silas'?" "Can I kiss him?" "What is that do?" "When can I sit in that?" "Why is he on the table?" "Hey why is Mickey Mouse on the wall?"

In between each question, of course, were the quick observations of a preschooler:

"Silas' is scared." "I think he want's his big sister." "Is he going to get poked with a sharp thing?" "I remember this place. Do I get a sticker?"

But the real news, of course, is the weights and measures:

Silas, July 27, 2007

Head: 37 cms
Length: 20 1/2 inches
Weight: 9 pounds 1/2 ounce

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Home, James, and don't spare the horse manure

going out with a bang, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Wednesday morning we walked on Gooch's beach for the last time this season. The sun was hot but the wind cooling; a perfect Maine day. By noon we'd packed up the car and were rolling out of town.

I'd like to say it was relaxing, however on the last night we returned from dinner at one of my favorite restaurants to find my incontinent, anxiety-riden pooch had tried to get out of my mother-in-law's house by clawing her way through the front door.

Annabel alerted us to the mayhem.

"WHAT HAPPENED HERE?" she hollered.

Maddy happened.

Shards of wood from where she'd gouged at the door and molding were littered about the fieldstone floor. Later we discovered her desire to be safely habiting the car instead of the house (should her humans leave without her) extended to the sliding screen door upstairs.

Now let me tell you about my mother-in-law.

She's not the most laid back person on the planet. In fact I'd say she's somewhat anxiety-prone herself. But when it comes to matters like these she's downright compassionate and understanding for both stressed-out furry friends and their owners. She'd simply add to the list of things she'd give the handyman when he came by for a look-see.

Of course I would insist on paying for the damage, but it doesn't really ease the guilt of causing mayhem wherever I go. It's always been so; I've always felt a little like the dirt cloud following Pigpen. I often find myself wishing I could be invisible. Like if I had Super Powers, invisibility would be my prime talent.

Ittybit, thankfully, doesn't share my hang-ups, yet. She boldly goes where no preschooler's gone before, and she elbows her way right into the fray. She doesn't worry what she looks like doing it, either.

On the beach the day before, we were copping squats under the shade of the umbrella and talking about big things, such as songs from the Sound of Music and the meaning of the word "menace," when lo and behold a horde of holiday travelers from Quebec went and plopped their things down in front of us. They fanned out it a horseshoe shape and dug in. Great piles of bags filled with all manner of sun screens, beach toys and snacks. Rafts of magazines, books and summer beverages. Ittybit was rapt: "Are they moving in?"

She continued to sit with me for a while, watching the new beach settlers closely. Of course when they began to speak to one another she brightened. "Mom!" she said with a combination of shock and pride, "They're speaking SPANISH!"

Uhm ... no, honey they're speaking French."

"No. I know Spanish," she said, recalling the child's book of Spanish words that she'll only allow me to read in English. "They're speaking Spanish alright."

And in a flash she was standing over the little girl in their group, smiling. She didn't say anything, just smiled and tilted her head a little. The girl's grandmother handed the child a rice cake and Ittybit licked her lips. As quick as she had bounced over there Ittybit bounced right back, reporting eagerly that they had a baby and snacks and toys, too. And again, she was gone.

"I have a baby brother, too," I heard her say to the Canadians. "He's over there with my mother. He's little and can't play in the sand like me. Do you have any toys? I have some Easter eggs we bought at the store today. They are fun to put sand and shells in. You wanna have an Easter egg hunt?"

And with that, the two little girls were playing together. Easter eggs and shovels and pails digging side by side.

"See mom? Isn't it good to know Spanish?"

And it turns out the language of friendship isn't the only language she's practicing. She's also developing an ear for the language of carpentry."

When the workman arrived early in the morning to survey the damage, Ittybit wasted no time showing him around the devastation. "See here?" she pointed. "My dog did that ... She's a menace."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Stutter steps

Thanks to the kindness of familiy, here in Maine I've been "sleeping in."

With instructions to wake her Ama Linda instead of her Mama, Annabel has tiptoed past my door each morning at first light and tramped upstairs to her grandmother's room.

The extra shuteye, however, hasn't made me any more tolerant as the parent of a preschooler.

I'm still vigilantly watching and waiting to pounce on Ittybit for the slightest bit of rough handling of her brother. I lose my cool at every toddler turn.

Her testing ways have set me on edge.

Gone are the nice words.

The pleases and thank-yous that once came so naturally to her have been replaced by demands in nasty tones.

And similarly, my nice words have gone, too.

Everything out of my mouth lately has been preceeded by one or any combination of the following phrases:







I try to remember just how much has changed in the past few weeks. I try to remind myself how many adjustments she, especially, has made in the last month alone.

When I asked her what people told her about her baby brother, thinking that she'd say they are always saying congratulations," I was sad to hear her more recent response. "They say 'be careful!'"

While he squirms and fidgets and cries under the weight of her kisses, I think about other times I've witnessed him stop squirming and fidgeting and crying in her mighty embrace.

On the occasions he screams in her lap, I hear the pain in her voice when she tells me he doesn't like her.

I tell her that he loves her, trying to reassure her. A white lie, perhaps, but one that has a fundamental truth: Love doesn't always feel good. It doesn't always say sweet things in your ear. Sometimes it's loud and shrill and ill-tempered. But even if its voice is hoarse, love is always there trying to set itself upright. Wanting to lift itself higher.

Love stumbles sometimes, too.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Round trip

morning chores, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Blink. Blink. Blink. ...

Did you miss that? In a stunning turn of events we have gone home, taken care of some chores and three of the four in our party (plus the dog) have returned to Maine.

You might have guessed that the one with the camera, the abdominal scars and the short fuse trucked the four-hour trip in just over six hours. ... Bah. The other one is working.

So here I am hopped up on coffee, frequent stops and a solid three hours of crying, whining and asking if we're there yet, wondering if it was worth the headache just for a few more days by the seaside.

I suppose so, although I will be hardpressed to return home until the Champ is speaking and Ittybit is learning higher math than counting how many blue trucks speed past us.

To recap: Tuesday we returned home because the boy had a doctor's appointment with the pediatric urologist. It was supposed to have been a consultation with the physician's assistant to answer our questions and get us up to speed on his hydronephrosis, however we ended up doing a full day of testing at the hospital in order to avoid preventative antibiotics for six weeks while we waited for a regular appointment. The champ had a renal ultrasound and was catheterized to check for reflux. He still has an enlarged left kidney, however the radiologist reported no reflux. So that means no long-term antibiotics and watchful waiting. They are hopeful (and I would say confident) that he will outgrow this on his own).

May I just note that he was so good about the catheterization (much better than I was as I had to hide tears from the radiologist). It was painful to witness. He was strapped to a board with his arms over his head, a strap across his belly and feet. They even had to redo the catheter because the first one they inserted was defective and leaked. Although he was miserable, Silas somehow managed to fall asleep after I put my finger in his mouth (he won't take a binky). But the torture continued when the poor guy had to be woken up to finish the test. They wanted him to pee and he was taking a snooze. The docs poured cold water on his penis and feet to get him to void everything they pumped into him, watching the x-ray monitor as the bladder gradually got smaller with each little fountain.

All I can say is I'm so glad it's over and he won't have to have that test again.

So today, after a playdate for Ittybit with Lori, we got int he car, fired up the DVD player and headed back to Maine. By myself, with the kids and the dog. ... the incontinent dog who's currently shedding.

Ummmm ... What was I thinking you ask? I haven't a clue, because after two stops, multiple crying jags and inch-worm traffic for miles (and hours) all I wanted to do was blink myself home in an I-Dream-Of-Genie instant.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Choices, choices

While visiting some friends last night, Annabel was asked if she wanted to pick out a movie to watch.

This was her response:

"Well, there are two: one is the movie I would like to see and the other is the movie I will choose."

In the end she picked "Cars."

My guess is she thought the boys would like it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The state of rest ... Maine or sleep?

I think the clocks must run slower in Maine. Or perhaps the air is infused with some odorless, tasteless substance that acts as a sedative. All we seem to do once we arrive -- after we've combed the beach for treasures that is -- is sleep.

Jed, especially, finds it difficult to continue to drive the final half hour once we cross over the New Hampshire border. Once we reach our destination he naps every hour on the hour and my eyelids are always at half mast.

And although Annabel isn't napping these days, the Maine drug is having its effect on her, too, with early bedtimes and later morning awakenings.

Silas seems to have inherited the family illness, except that as an infant his job -- outside of eating and pooping -- is to sleep.

So far, he's slept through a marathon trip to the grocery store, a visit with some old friends and even his first walk on the beach. He even finds a way to sleep through his sister's attentions, which are often loud and full of kisses.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We're going to Maine ...

Ama's front yard, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Please leave a message after the tone. We'll get back to you in few days. ... Short trip this time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pleased to meet you

holding his hand, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Today I was separated from the infant for the first time in nine months and three weeks.

The grandparents sat with him while Annabel and I went to the grocery store. It was a quick trip. All I really needed was hydrogen peroxide (for my still-open wound) and some ice cream for a good little girl.

Since the checkout lines were few and long I steared us toward the self-serve checkout with our two items. While I was trying pitifully to scan the barcode of the brown bottle an elderly man in a motorized shopping cart wheeled up behind me.

"May I talk to your daughter," he asked quietly. "I have girls, too," he said, "but they're 14 and 16 now."

He was obviously a grandfather. His name was Tom. It was also obvious that he finds the little ones to be oodles of fun.

Annabel and he spoke for a long time. He asked her age, and what she liked to do.

She told him "people always say 'congratulations' when you have a new baby at home like I do."

He couldn't believe his ears. "Did she just say that? Wow! She's quite a fine speaker."

Of course then she asked him if we were "making his acquaintence?"

I thought he was going to swallow his teeth.

"Well, sweetie, I have to go now but I do hope to see you next time."

"Me, too. Bye."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Out and about

There's only so many chocolate mice you can eat before you go insane. Or is it that there's only so many times you can look at the same four walls before you start arguing with yourself? Once the chocolate mice are gone, so is the magic.

Today was officially my three-week postpartum milestone. I am allowed to drive a car.

I assume that means I can also climb stairs and lug around more than 8 to 10 pounds of sweet, pudgy baby flesh.

Of course this momentous occasion would have to take place on a scum-coated, heat slathered day.

But to be out in the world, on my own, for the first time with two kids. I couldn't put it off.

We started out slow. I popped Silas into the sling and we all set out for the park on foot. I was so obsessed with getting out of the house with my KIDS that I forgot to bring the camera. (I'm not even going to stop to wonder how I'm going to take a camera - let alone photographs - with every available hand is now completely engaged.)

It was so hot, though, even Annabel wanted to get into the car and fire up the air conditioning. So we walked back and got the keys. (It only took me seven minutes to figure out how to put the infant car seat into its base. Luckily I had the presence of mind to turn the car on and crank up the AC before trying to tether the kids into their chairs.

Then on the road again. It's weird to get back behind the wheel after a three-week hiatus. I felt smaller in the driver's seat. The clutch felt firmer than I remembered. The car felt enormous.

It seemed silly to drive a mile to the grocery store, only having to reenter the heat once the car had finally cooled down. So I tried to get Annabel to agree to go to a store that was further away from home. All I wanted to do was sit in a cool place and drive. Silas was asleep, perhaps Annabel would take a bit of a nap, too.

But no. She had her heart set on carrots, popsicles and band-aids I said we'd procure at "the big store."

So a mile away we'd go. After I got them out of the car with only minimal peril (a car pulled in right next to us as I was outside the "suicide doors" trying to get Silas back in his sling and trying to keep Annabel from getting out of the car until I was ready. Suffice it to say suicide doors are aptly named.

Inside the store, Annabel was a perfect shopper. She only asked to buy a tiny vegetable platter with dip for some astronomical amount and was perfectly accepting of my firm "NO." We got what we'd gone for and nothing else. Silas, of course, slept through it all.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Silas is Golden

loren bears gift for a newborn, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I can't take credit for that headline, damnit.

My friend Barbara tells me her husband, Robert, had been waiting for WEEKS to let that one rip. He finally got a chance on Saturday, when they threw us a little barbecue soiree, complete with grilled mahi-mahi tacos and homemade citrus-lime salsa, in honor of the new addition to our family.

It's really a shame Jed hates fish. They threw a chicken on the barbie for him, and really, in my humble gastronmic opinion, he was missing out. Luckily for me, though, they sent me home with leftovers. I have lunches taken care of for at least three days.

And then Sunday, Jed's friends and former soccer players threw another party in Silas' honor. This one was complete with kabobs and champagne and some stunning gifts. The most exotic of which came from Loren and his lovely and talented wife, Lisa.

I'm pretty sure Silas is the only infant in North America to receive a pet chipmunk at the ripe old age of 18 days old. ... Ok. ... it's not really a pet and it was freed to live it's little life in peace shortly after Annabel named him "Jumpy" and tried to shove crabapples into the mesh. But it was fun while it lasted even if Silas slept through it all.

Have I mentioned we have some amazing friends in real life, too?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Me, Myself and I

It's all about mememememe.

Whilrwind has tagged me for a meme. And so, having been sitting in the house, melting from the heat and unable to drive myself anywhere or do anything more strenuous than going to get the mail (pretending I'm NOT doing the laundry) and baking cookies with Annabel, I welcome it with open arms. ...

And now, without further ado, here it is: Eight Things You Might Not Have Known About Me (even though I ramble on and on about pretty much everything).

1. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Clippers -- I haven't gotten my hair cut since Annabel was 5 months old and I donated it to Locks of Love. I'm planning on doing it again in a few weeks before my hair starts shedding it's pregnancy weight. Have I mentioned how much I hate short hair? Not because of the way I look (because, let's face it, short hair really is more flattering for a person my age) but because if you keep it short you have to maintain it. You have to get haircuts every six to eight weeks. That's not in me; not in the least.

2. Barefoot and ... I loved being pregnant. Both times. Sure I complained non-stop about heartburn and other unmentionable ailments but I always feel healthy and emotionally content in pregnancy. There's always a little bit of a let down once the baby is born and no longer jabbing me with their knees and elbows. I feel alone.

3. Hypochondria or Hypothyroidism? -- I have hypothyroidism. I take 112 mgs of Levoxyl every day to replace the hormone my gland doesn't make anymore. My sister and I go to the same endocrinologist. My doctor told her that my thyroid gland is virtually gone. She hasn't mentioned it to me yet, though.

4. Reading is Fundamental -- I have read three books since Annabel was born. This pains me. I used to read a book every two days.

5. Sit and Spin -- I miss going to the laundrymat. It's one of those things that once you have a washing machine in the house you never do again. You just can't muster up the gumption to drag a hundred pounds of dirty clothes, towels and linens to the local "Suds and Duds" no matter how much you like the smell of dryer sheets or the din of humanity. You can't trump convenience for even one afternoon of nostalgia.

6. Career Counseling -- I never got a job with Rolling Stone or The New York Times (or the Weekly World News) and I've been rejected from The New Yorker more times than I've probably even subjected my drivel to its editors, yet what makes me feel like a failure is the fact that I can't seem to clean my house or weed the garden.

7. Surprise party? I'll kill ya! -- I hate surprises. Mostly because there's always something that backfires. Something I can't control that somehow gets blamed on me when it goes wrong. For example. My bridal shower was a "surprise party," in which names were spelled wrong on the invitations, people didn't get invited ... You know where this is going right? Yeah, people complained to me.

8. Snap Out Of It -- My favorite movie is "Moonstruck." Oh sure, there was a time when I'd have told you my favorite film was "Citzen Kane" or "Harold and Maude," and I wouldn't have been lying. Now, however, I must confess that in the last month I've seen Cher kick a can as she's returning from the Met/Night with Ronnie Camarari 30 times. My favorite line has to be when Rose chastises her father-in-law; "Old man, you give those dogs another piece of my food and I'm gonna kick you 'til you're dead."

As is my custom, I'm not going to tag anyone. But feel free to let me know if you take the baton and run with it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Practice doesn't always make perfect

I promised I'd get here sooner or later - my little blog of unabashed complaint.

I am fed up with the medical profession. Not only fed up, but disillusioned and feeling as if it is impossible to be an effective advocate for myself, and more frighteningly, for my children.

Gee, I like the sound of that: CHILDREN. Plural.

I digress.

What I was getting at was Silas' birthstory including all the highs, the lows and the final unsettling understanding.

Whilst in the hospital this last time, I had the misfortune of witnessing first-hand the problems associated with miscommunication starting from the moment we showed up for preadmission testing.

Not only was I sent to the wrong place, but no one seemed to realize I was even pregnant. Laughable, maybe ... but a sign of things to come?

When we checked in at the hospital for the appointed B-day, the doctor was running an hour late. Not a big deal, as doctors have emergencies, their appointments routinely get backed up. Of course it doesn't seem right that my surgery was scheduled for 5 p.m. on the hottest day of the summer and I'm not allowed to take anything by mouth (not even ice chips) for 10 hours prior. I said it jokingly to the admitting nurse: scheduling this after regular office hours is just "mean." She probably knew I wasn't really joking.

Of course when the doctor arrives, all possible transgressions are forgiven. She is smiling and reassuring. She tells me what I can expect. The baby is going to be a tad early, so there's the possibility -- in addition to the Down scare and the hydronephrosis -- that he may have to spend some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. If that happens, she counsels, it's for the best, really. He'll get the best care there.

She knows my biggest concern is about the Down potential, and tells me that she's called in a NICU specialist to examine the baby right after delivery, but that it's possible that we won't be able to tell conclusively until chromosomal tests are examined. It doesn't matter, I am relaxed now. I am resigned to accepting anything.

I walk to the operating room.

Things are different this time than they were with Annabel. The anesthesiologist will perform a spinal (not an epidural). I shiver from the cold even though a nurse has layered me in warmed blankets. After the spinal is in place, I'm helped down on the table, arms out but no warming pillows this time. A blind is drawn up so we can't see the surgeons. The anesthesiologist gives me drugs for nausea and puts an oxygen mask on my face. He pinches me on the upper torso and asks me if I feel it. I tell him I do. He pinches me just below my shoulder and asks if the two pinches feel identical. They do not.

We proceed.

There is talking, but I can't hear. This time I'm not interested. I've decided to trust they will tell me anything I need to know.

Jed is holding my right hand, the anesthesiologist is working around my left.

I feel pressure and wonder if they've started cutting. I imagine the process. It takes longer than I remembered and yet it is over in minutes. I feel chest pressure and look away from Jed and toward the doctor. He asks me if I'm alright.

I say yes. The pressure seems to knock a recollection free. More pressure. More rocking.

I remember how hard it seems to wriggle the babies free from their comfortable lodgings.

And then the doctor asks Jed if he wants to stand up. He does, and the first thing he reports is all the hair. The kid has a good head of hair.

Then the best sound ever ... crying. Screaming really. Angry put-me-back wails from a little, purple boy.

I crane my neck around to see the nurses working on him.

The high-risk pediatrician breezed past me and asked my age. When I told him, he said the concern is Down syndrome? Jed answered in the affirmative.

"Well he's peeing alright," Jed laughs as our son urinated on the doctor and his pricey stethoscope the moment he stepped up to the bassinette. And a few moments later the doctor, Q-tip in hand and trying to dry out his listening device, tells me he's absolutely positive the kid does not have Down syndrome.

The good news. He's healthy.

The bad news .... hmmmmm. You seem to be bleeding a lot more than 'normal.'

And with that my recovery began. For the next two hours a very attractive PACU nurse named Jennifer checked my vital signs, blood oxygen levels and pressed on my abdomen looking for signs of ... well I don't know really. Excessive bleeding? Temperature that wouldn't elevate? Vomiting?

She told me that while the surgeon and later ordered the placenta to be sent for testing "just because she could," the team had already discarded it when she said earlier it looked fine.

I suppose I should have thought about the Mercury in Retograde thing again, but I didn't. I let it go. I'd convinced myself not to worry.

I had it all. Jennifer, worried, even called the assisting doctor back to check the incision, which she thought was bleeding too much. He applied a compression bandage and called it a night. She sat with me, raised my head and lowered it, helped me latch the baby on to nurse for the first time and told me that she herself had had a miscarriage this year. Jed and I liked her immensely.

I was worried about a transfusion, which she said was a rare occurance before I even mentioned the possibility.

By the time I got to my assigned room in maternity, I was feeling tired but better.

Silas surprised me by being a three-hour sort of boy. Every three hours the nursery staff wheeled his little cart to my room and told me I had a "hongry" boy. Inside the plexigas bassinette was a wide-eyed baby silently opening and closing his mouth like a fish.

The next morning the IV and the cather came out, but I was surprisingly tired. I hoped it was the drugs, and as the day wore on I started to feel better. I had thought that a planned section -- without labor -- would have been a cake walk.

The first face I saw was the mid-wife who told me of the hydronephrosis. I felt guilty for writing about her, namelessly of course, in the newspaper. She was still smiling, though. She checked my incision, saw the compression bandage and asked me when the surgery took place. She asked if it was 7 a.m. or p.m.

P.M. I told her.

She decided she was going to leave the bandage in place for a while longer.

Then, I swear, not 10 minutes later a resident came in a took it off. No questions. Didn't care to inquire about surgical times or the reason it was placed on there to begin with. He then examined the staples and observed some of them "weren't really holding anything together."

So he removed two and replaced them with steri strips.

I asked if he was going to replace the bandage. He hemmed and hawed.

Finally he agreed to put a bandage on the wound.

After he left the midwife came flying back into the room, having heard him in the hallway telling a nurse to get another dressing for me. She was as perplexed as I was, and It was evident that mister doctor man didn't much care for anything a midwife had to offer.

All I could think was How are you supposed to advocate for yourself when you have neither a medical education nor any understanding of procedure. Since "everyone has their own way of doing things: " ... some doctors use michele clips, some use staples. ... Some take the staples out on the day you are released some leave them in until you go for an incision check at your doctors' office a week or two later," a nurse mid-wife later told me.

Nurse after nurse, mid-wife after mid-wife -- but sadly NONE OF MY DOCTORS -- told me one after another that the incision was "not the best they'd ever seen."

And still no answers for me. How do I take care of this? I can't even stand to look at it. Will it get infected? Do I need antibiotics? When will it heal?

I ended up going to see my doctor two days after my release from the hospital to find out before I went mad with fear.

She prescribed antibiotics as a precaution, showed me how to clean and dress it and assured me it would heal nicely and faster than I would imagine.

I left feeling a little better, but ultimately still wondering how is it possible to get to this place before I get to the dark place?
How do you get straight answers from the myriad of people you meet in a hospital.

They're all asking you the same questions, while they tell you different things.

One of the best experiences I've had with a medical professional was the time one asked me to tell him what I understood. When I told him, he could tell me where I misunderstood, too.

I know that I should be happy. That all birthstories include moments of terror and pain and confusion. Because no one is perfect and doctors are not deities. I left the hospital with a wonderful, healthy infant and for that I am eternally grateful.

But I also think my experience, and ultimately every patient's experience, could be better. And I think it should be better.

What bothers me, too, is that I may have to make decisions that go against the recommendations of doctors. That's not a popular tack to take when dealing with people who think they know best. Who think going against their know-how is reckless or akin to child endangerment.

Already I've made my first decision for Silas based on my cumulative hospital experiences. No circumscision.

Jed wasn't so convinced that we should risk the potential for "something to go wrong later on," and was leaning toward the proceedure. I had waffled and told him it was to be his decision to make. But then I took it back.

After being there for three days, and wanting to get answers or even a doctor to look at me, and feeling completely at the mercy of people whom I suspect would rather be golfing, I was convinced of one thing: No more unnecessary surgeries. Not now, not ever.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just monkeying around

MAMA: Do you know what kind of monkey this is?

ANNABEL: No? What?

MAMA: It's a marmoset.

ANNABEL: Well, do YOU know what the big, fat monkeys are called?

MAMA: What?

ANNABEL: Orang-orang tangs.