Thursday, May 31, 2007

Disappearing act

little slip of a girl, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Annabel,

I haven't been able to look at you lately without filling up with a crazy mix of love and regret. When this happens, I often have to touch your face or comb my fingers through your hair.

I am reminded how love isn't just a concept, it's tangible.

I watch as you try to straddle the worlds of growing up and staying small. You often tell me "When I get to be a woman like you" and "I'm a big girl" and "But I'm still a little girl, right?" all in the same paragraph.

When we talk about the changes that are coming our way, you seem as conflicted as I am. You want to meet your brother, hold him in your arms and help with all the things a mother's helper does. (Although, I am sure your correct title, once your brother comes home to stay, will be more "mother's advisor" than mere "helper.")

But there are changes that are making you anxious, too.

Losing your place at Lori's house is among the most frightening of them. You know it's coming, we've talked about it, but you don't understand when it will happen or what it will be like when it does.

So every day you ask questions, hoping to get your bearings:

"Am I going to Lori's today?"

"Can Lori come to my house?"

"Will I have to go to a new Lori?"

I know you're afraid of never seeing Lori again.

You've taken to "borrowing" toys from her house thinking that as long as you have something that is hers you will be obligated to bring it back.

You've been talking non-stop about her girls, and how someday you want to "run on the road" like Tierney or "go to dance classes" like Brianna.

Watching you make sense of the inadequate things I've said to prepare you is at times painful and poignant. I think about all the things I can't control. All the things that could be -- good or bad. I shake my head, hoping to shake the all the negatives away, but they always find their way back.

Last night you broke down in an emotional puddle because you couldn't give Lori one last hug. You were afraid you'd never see her again. I can only guess it's because you know that the day is coming when you won't see her nearly as often, but you don't have a concrete understanding of time. And quite frankly, I've been wondering how we're going to be able schedule times for you to "run" into each other, knowing how busy everyone gets with their other commitments.

Even for me, this time has been like a rollercoaster ride. Ups and downs; slow, steady climbs and furious plunges. Each minute of each day is ticking away quickly now as we prepare for the arrival of the one you will call your "brother." And while exciting, the scare factor is equally compelling.

It's times like these that I am reminded of all the things that won't change.

That you are always going to be babyofmine no matter how old you are, that you are always going to be someone who surprises and delights me with her stalward observations and her ability to see humor in just about everything. That you are not like me, but we are still alike. And that love -- no matter how mad or sad we are -- will hang over all of our decisions.

The thing is, none of us will disappear in this change. We just have to hope that as we change course, the winds are gentle.



Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The suckiest things ever!

I will miss all the things she says that I have to translate for others.

Currently she has a hefty lexicon of things that SUCK:

"Mama (notice she ALWAYS uses my favorite "mama" when she want's something), can I have the a sucky popsickle. A green one? No, a red one! How about YOU have the RED one and I'll have the GREEN one and we can share?"

Thin Egg Noodles
"Mama, I'd like some pasta for dinner. Not the finger pasta but the suck pasta."

And something that could suck but doesn't ... yet.

"Hey, Siobhan (notice, she calls me by my first name when she doesn't really WANT anything) ... what's this called? Honeydew Sparkle?"

"Well, your dad calls it Honeysuckle ... but I call it a weed."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I don't understand what they're trying to tell me ...

If any of you sign up for e-mail updates for pregnancy-related stuff you already know about the kind of advice they give you, most of which borders on the rediculous.

With both pregnancies, I signed up with Babycenter for its once-weekly e-mails that let me know how I should be feeling that week. More than not, it was right on the money. The week it told me I might experience leg cramps ... I did. Similarly, the weeks it suggested I would feel tired, I did. Bleeding gums? Check. Nosebleeds? Got 'em. Fetal movement? Yes-siree-bob. The only thing I managed to avoid this time around was the dreaded round ligament pain.

For some reason, I enjoy getting these missives. I like the simple paragraph that tells me frankly what's typically happening inside my gene pool. It's enough information to keep me going but not enough to make me crazy.

I learned my lesson about too much information the first time around, after the sheer excitement of being pregnant caused Jed to run out and purchase every damn pregnancy guide known to man.

We had been on vacation and it was raining so all I did was immerse myself in the books. ...

'UHHHH... Varicose veins ... hemorrhoids ... miscarriage ... bedrest ... preterm labor ... fetal or maternal death?


After scaring myself beyond redemption, I stopped reading and decided to consult the books only when I had a question. I felt better. The first chance I got I shipped those books over to the library book sale. Good riddance.

Yet the need for information creeps in, even the second time around. I don't consult books anymore, however, and I don't even look at the chat boxes of Babycenter site, where "women at your stage" talk about the joys that it is to be a parent.

Frankly, I don't understand their happy, shiney "I love being a mom and telling you what I'm doing better than you" brand of maternal-one-upsmanship. Nevertheless, I signed up for the e-mail updates just for the nostalgia and pretty much ignore everything else. Half-way through this gestation, I even expanded my virtual junkmail to include spam from PregnancyWeekly.

But my gosh, is that site's particular brand of wisdom just the opposite of interesting or what?

As evidence, I'd like to share the e-mail that came today. ...

Aside from the fact that I barely COMB my hair on a normal day, pregnant or not, let alone spend any time styling it, I find something completely offensive about a pregnancy tip that spends any time discussing something two feet above my uterus that is not spelled B-R-A-I-N.

As in ... do they think I don't have one?

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's beginning to seem real

newborn, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Oh sure, for you folks it's been real all along. Some crazy, mommy-blabber writing ad nauseam about the joys and craptacular moments of a second pregnancy. (yyyyyyyyyyyawn).

But even though I talk about it, and even think about it to the point of obsession, the whole concept of another person in the house has eluded me.

It's not as if I'm delusional, really. It's not as if I don't know this thing twisting around in my belly is more than a silly parlor trick I use to amuse myself late at night when I can't sleep.

(Yes, son, I think it's hilarious that if I balance an envelope on the "fundus" eventually you move it around like a boat on the water. I call the simple little game 'Fundus for One of Us').

I know you're going to be here soon. I worry about all the things I haven't done. All the errands I've ignored. The organizing I've put off. I worry about how Annabel will feel once her planet is bumped from the center of the universe. I worry about whether I'll be able to leave the house at a reasonable hour ever again with an infant and a preschooler in tow. I wonder how I'll manage to do all the things I could barely manage to do with just one child grabbing on to my leg and yelling "PICK ME UP."

But I haven't given a single thought to what YOU will be like, Thing 2.
Will you be funny and sweet? Will you be stoic and wise? Will you walk early or late? I'm sure there's all kinds of comparisons we'll be making as we try to get to know the you that is separate from us.

I never stopped to think about whether there is enough love to go around, even though I know it's a normal qualm needing quelling. As a parent, so the cliche goes, you are so enamoured with your firstborn that you can't imagine anyone else fitting in between.

It's something that can't be easily explained. It has to be felt.

This morning, when Annabel woke me up with her usual greeting: "It's morning time. It's not night time anymore," and I opened my eyes to see her crooked smile and tousseled head inches from my nose, I knew there is love enough for two.

If one of these is joy two has got to be fairly close to nirvana.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time rushes by ...

dance hall days, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Jed's dad was here and gone twice last week on his way from here to there.

He's been busy lately trying to sell property in Maine and move to a new house in Louisiana, all while going through some other sobering events in his life.

When we see him it's just for a few hours. He eats dinner with us, stays the night and is usually on his way first thing in the morning. Busy. Busy. Busy.

There wasn't much deviation this visit except he seemed quieter than normal. He didn't regale us with intricate tales of dance contests and marvelous meetings with a multitude of mesmerizing characters. He said he was tired.

When he left Saturday morning it was without much fanfare.

But when got back from the movies Saturday night and played the message blinking on the answering machine, his unusal demeanor that morning made shocking sense.

"Hi, Jed. It's Dad. ... I'm in a hospital in Woodstock, Virgina. I've apparently had a heart attack. I'll try to call you back."

Turns out he'd been having pain for a number of days and was trying to ignore it. At a truckstop near Woodstock the pain would not take a backseat, and he called 911.

Jed flew out to Baltimore on Sunday, rented a car and drove to Virgina where he set about to comfort his dad, collect Arly dog from the animal shelter, secure his truck and equipment, and try to help him cut through some of the gobbledee gook that passes for medical explaination.

In the ER, Jed's dad was given drugs that took away all his pain, so the docs waited until Monday to do a heart catheterization to assess the damage and see what else needed to be done.

Lucky for him, they were able to clean out three of four blockages and send him on his merry way the next day. The heart muscle itself sustained no damage.

They say he'll be good as new in a few weeks, but that he'll have to keep an eye on that fourth blockage, which wasn't serious enough to treat surgically, and take a bevy of FDA-approved medications.

Of course, Jed says he's already back to his old self, ignoring the DON'T LIFT ANYTHING OVER 15 POUNDS rule 15 minutes after it was given: "I get out to the car and he's got my bag in one hand his bag in another and he's rearranging the trunk. I said 'DAD! What's wrong with you? You've got like 30 pounds in your hands right now'."

"Oh, shit. Sorry."

Even his friends weighed in with levity:

* 5/22/07, jartmover wrote:

Hello all,

We have sprung him and are across state lines into headed north in Maryland. It was close there for awhile whether we would get out, especially after the sponge bath incident with Chic, whose photo will follow ...

Jed and Dad

*5/22/07, Mac replied:

"The Sponge Bath Incident"? What a great title for a book . . . or perhaps that porno movie John's always wanted to star in.

Jed, please pass on my love and aloha to your Dad. (If you've locked him in the trunk by now, no need pull over, just bang on the lid at the next Rest Stop and pass on my message).

The five of us have been best friends for something like 53 years now, and the only one left who has not encountered some major medical complications is the real fat one who smoked -- Roger Daly. What the hell message is THAT sending to us?

Have a great road trip!


... Yeah, he'll be back on the dance floor sooner than you can say CUT A RUG, I'm sure.

Even if it doesn't feel like it right now, John is a lucky man.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ama Linda in da HOUSE!

Give it up for Ama Linda in da house! Put your hands together and say it with me now:

Three hours of sleep
Ama Linda's in da HOUSE!
I won't say a peep
Shuteye and granny just don't jibe.

Nap? Not me!
Susususu Yes sir-ee.
We gonna PAR-TEE!
Just you an me.

I'm puttin' on my dress-up clothes
And what else, who knows?
Maybe we'll catch some fish
Or just sit around and dish ...

Nap? Not me!
Susususu Yes sir-ee.
We gonna PAR-TEE!
Just you an me.

I got a project for yah
It's got flowers and fauna
Dig it ya'll for ya, holes for the flowers to grow.
Dig it with a shovel, yo-yo.

Then we going to sit right down
And play a game or two
I've got my puzzler loaded
and I'm navigating for you.

Nap? Not me!
Susususu Yes sir-ee.
We gonna PAR-TEE!
Just you an me.

Mama, go. ... Ama Linda's in da HOUSE-A!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Things change

So good it's GUUUD, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

When I was a child and my mom baked she'd always pop the beaters out of of the hand mixer and give one to my sister and one to me.

Brownies, chocolate cake, cookie dough, pudding ... It didn't matter what confection came out of the oven, it was the batter that we all clammored to get.

That was then.

By the time we were teens, salmonella had reared it's ugly head and made spoon licking something only daddies were allowed to do, and only because they pretended they were washing them in the bathroom sink. With the door closed.

Since then food poisioning incidents seemed to have skyrocketed.

Every season there's a new culprit.

From improper handling to incomplete cooking to things that just shouldn't be in the foods we eat, such as man-made chemicals and heavy metals, food scares keep getting more horrific.

You can just see a time in the not-too distant future when the giant farm machine collapses on itself and we are all going to find ourselves tending kitchen gardens in our spare time.

The same way I don't imbibe, because some doctors would tell you a sip of something will cause fetal alchohol syndrome, Jed and I haven't let her lick the beater when raw eggs are used in the mixture. It's just one of the many precautions that have made their way into our paranoid psyches.

And how could you not be concerned: folks in the know are now saying spinach is still not safe from e-coli contamination ... and it's been hard to even figure out what remedy or measures would make it safer.

But the incredible, edible egg seems to have made a comeback.

I recently read about how the industry has really done a lot to make eggs safer, and it seemed reasonable. You really don't hear a lot about salmonella contamination and eggs anymore.

Of course, we'll probably still err on the side of caution, but once in a while you just have to hand over the spoon.

Some experiences are just too good to miss.

Friday, May 18, 2007

If only he were blogging in utero

runny-nose boogie, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

She likes it loud.

She asks for the CD caddy, and I hand it over. I check the rear-view to find her fingering each disk with her sticky, doughnut smeared mitts.

"I like this green one," she says, waving the Dave Matthews CD at me.

I reach back and take it. Pop it into the player. Turn the dial up.

"I'm mixing up a bunch of magic stuff
A magic mushroom cloud of care
A potion that will rock the boat will rock
Make a bomb of love and blow it up

I did it
Do you think I've gone too far
I did it
Guilty as charged
I did it
It was me right or wrong
I did it

I never did a single thing that did a single thing to
Change the ugly ways of the world
I didn't know it felt so right inside
I didn't know it at all
Open up the curtains I heard sirens there the lights flash and crawl
I did it justice I just did it for the buzz

It's a nickel or a dime for what I've done
The truth is that I don't really care
For such a lovely crime I'll do the time
You better lock me up I'll do it again

I did it
Do you think I've gone too far
I did it
Guilty as charged
I did it
It was me right or wrong
I did it

I never did a single thing that did a single thing to
Change the ugly ways of the world
I didn't know it felt so right inside
I didn't know it at all
Open up the curtains I heard sirens there the lights flash and crawl
I did it justice I just did it for us all

All you people are the skewers of our dreams
Like the cat collared me
Oh what I gotta say to you got love don't
Turn it down
Turn it loud
Let it build
We got a long way to go
But you gotta start somewhere
Go door to door spread the love you got
You got the love
You get what you want
Does it matter where you get it from
I for one
Don't turn my cheek for anyone
Unturn your cheek to give your love
Love to grow"

As we tool along, she's nodding her head, weaving it back and forth on her neck to the beat. Closing her eyes. When the track ends, she begs to hear it again.

I hit the back arrow and the song repeats.

Inside, Thing 2 thumps along wildly. WILDLY.

But it makes me wonder: Does he like it or was he trying to get us to turn it down?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

If I was gritting my teeth yesterday ...

another casualty, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

... Today I'm grinding them down to a nub.

Let's just say I feel as if I were trapped and ambushed.

Not only do I have limited recourse, but I am SO sure I am in the right that I can't just let it go.

Have you been here? You CAN be the bigger person. You can let it wash over you like water in the shower, but you're so very tired of making amends?

I know, it's a losing proposition.

You can forgive, but you never forget. So, in reality, you never really forgive.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Fester, fester, fester ....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gritting my teeth

Word of advice? It is NEVER a good idea to refer to a pregnant woman as "fatty."

The emphasis in that last statement was "NEVER" in case you missed it.

It's really for your own good that I suggest this, because if you think such comments are funny and cute, there's an exceptionally high probability that you make people's skin crawl.

Even Ittybit knows calling someone "fat" isn't advisable. And had she been awake to hear the aformentioned comment, she would most definitely have come to my defense.

"She's not fat, she's holding my brother."

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Mother's Day to celebrate

mother's day poolside, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Our weekender at the Mirror Lake Inn was pretty successful.

*The place didn't burn down. I have a coworker, see, who told me on Friday that he'd once booked a room at the inn for an anniversary celebration only to have the reservation canceled because of fire.

*We found the place fairly easily, but not before getting confused by construction detours and having to call the front desk for a street-by-street, phone-guided tour.

*I didn't get any spa services. (This drove Jed MAD with guilt, as he got a gentleman's massage and facial). However, since the prospect of being touched makes my anxiety level raise into the CRIMSON, I thought it was a pretty good deal.

*While Jed was getting his two-hour Swedish massage and fru-fru facial, I spent two and a half hours in the pool with Ittybit, who had devised an enormously elaborate circuit routine in which she'd demand to be lifted out of the pool at the end 3 1/2-foot marker, run down to the 4-foot marker and "jump" into my arms in front of the ladder and then we'd "swim" together back to the foot of the pool. Over and over again. It was mostly to impress the "big girls" who were playing Marco Polo nearby.

*We found a bookstore that was a joy to be in for an hour. Annabel picked out this. I got this. And Jed got this.

* Jed was all ready to add another hundred dollars to our hotel bill for a fancy-schmancy dinner Saturday evening, however Ittybit had other ideas. She was tired and crabby, and though we considered ordering room service, she wanted pizza. (I had no idea she really liked restaurant pizza.) So we made a trip into town and found a tiny little restaurant, sublevel. The pizza was good, she ate a goodly amount and we saved quite a bit of cash. Now I am fairly certain she has more sense than we have.

*On Sunday I signed up for a 7:30 a.m. yoga class and the instructor was the same guy who, the previous day, performed a children's magic show, facilitated a kids' art class, tuned the piano and played selections for dinner guests. BONUS.

*All in all, we spent way more money than should ever be spent by a non-well-to-do couple-o-starving arteests. But it's only money, right?

*Of course we may have to think twice before indulging the family in such a nice place ever again. Ittybit had decided the inn was to be our new home and was none to pleased to leave:

"But I want to stay here for ever and ever. ... We need a new home because ours is too old."

**I would also like to draw your attention to my feet. They look relatively normal here. Not sitting in front of a computer for 10 hours a day ... actually getting excercise ... does wonders to alleviate swelling!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A good mother ...

I’ve been thinking about Sally Mann a lot these last few days.

While I wouldn't say I'm a devotee of her work, I took notice when her "Immediate Family" images first hit the big time in the early '90s, and for the most part, I thought the controversy surrounding them to be more of a sign of the times rather than an indictment of her as a mother.

Child sex abuse scandals that had rocketed through the news and the collective psyche of Americans in the 80s -- first with the Kern County child abuse cases, in which as many as 60 children testified they had been abused in a ritualistic manner by a pedophilic sex ring; and then with the McMartin Preschool trial, in which hysteria and coaching were also evident in children’s testimony –- were winding down.

A new era in parenting styles -- the obsessive protectionist -- had emerged.

And for some, Sally Mann, with haunting monochrome images of her shirtless, pre-pubescent children staring defiantly into the camera -- frozen in a moment where interpretation runs rampant -- didn't fit the new American order: Letting children be children.

Back then I was only a photographer. Now I am a mother.

I'm still not finding myself drawn to Sally Mann’s work for some reason, but I understand the urge to document the beauty that is often unspoken or considered taboo.

I also have no doubt that she made some huge mistakes, as every mother has. I have been told, for instance, that of her three children, it was her son Emmett who fared the worst with the notoriety his mother's camera brought him. He resented her and he resented being known.

I understand that, too.

Nearly two decades out, her work is still sparking venom from people who believe she is a monster. A recent entry in Head Waiter (that I cannot find to reference here, I’m sorry to say) did just that.

But as I was reading that piece, I couldn't help but think of all the things we, as humans, must decide. We must decide about our work, our children’s upbringing, their health, our own well being. We say that children are all important, but aren't we only then teaching them that no one else matters?

That once you have children your lives, your livelihood and your joy (not directly related to them) is over? What about posterity? What about the future?

Life continues for generations, and its impact in art is not only about a single family, it's also about the questions we raise for the society at large, perhaps ad infinitum.

There are many decisions I (and my husband, too) will have to make with respect to our children. We will have to decide personal things about their health care: will they get immunizations? Will our boy be circumcised? We will make decisions that impact their education and social demographic: Will they go to public schools? When will they be allowed to date?

And yes. Their pictures – some of which are beautifully unclothed -- could potentially be all over the universe by they time they give me the glare-y eyeball and tell me (and my camera) to go fug ourselves. Of course these likeness won't necessarily be collected by any famous institutions, but they will be out there. It's what I do. It's part of who I am.

We will make mistakes. We will do the right thing. They may disagree.

We will have to handle it as a family. Not a perfect family, but a family they were born into.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Knock, knock ...

Who's there?

It's your birthday!!!

Oh, fug off!

It's true. I am another year older.

When my husband (who inexplicably LOVES to celebrate his birthday) asked me what I wanted to do to commemorate the occasion, noting that he realized a surprise (or any other form of party involving people bearing gifts and snarky remarks about how I don't look a day over 50) was probably out of the question, he didn't really give me time enough to chant the word NOTHING over and over again before he came up with an even better alternative:

"How about we go to the Adirondacks?"

"Uh ... like here? Or here?"

"That first place is more what I was thinking."

"Uh ... Ok. But I want Ittybit to come, too. I want to celebrate Three is a Magic Number for the last time."

Sure, that will be fun. I'll make the reservations now."

That was easy. But who knows? Maybe the place will burn down while we're there. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'd like to thank ...

driving miss crazy, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

So tonight I'll be attending an awards ceremony thrown by the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. It appears I've tricked some people on a panel into giving ME an award for distinguished column writing ... or something.

So that will be fun, huh?

As my parents try to get her to sleep (a feat I could NOT achieve last night) and Jed is working into the wee hours of the evening, I will be waddling up to a podium here with my wonky hip and my clunky ankles to collect a prize for this.

I hope I don't trip.


UPDATE: I'm back. It's 10 p.m. I didn't trip or stutter or spill cocktail sauce down my shirt. I did, however, drool a little out of the left corner of my mouth as the presenter was reading the bit about why the judges selected my work. There were words and phrases in there like CLEAN and ELEGANT and BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN. I'm thinking maybe I should hand my award right over to the person who wrote that glowing praise.

I'm fairly certain my lower jaw will never shut again.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Running in the red

I think I need one of them martinis ... or something.

After posting about the inactivity that has marked this pregnancy, I spent the morning trying to take care of a few dozen things.

After dropping Ittybit off at Lori's, I dropped by the pediatrician's office and finally got the paperwork underway for McEducation daycare.

I only did this, mind you, because we have a new lead on a family-babysitting situation that would, if it works out, be infinitely better than the corporate fall-back I've been failing to fall back on (since, up until this point, it had been the only horse not scratched from the race).

This new option would be similar to what has been provided at Lori's house for the past three years.

(So if you don't mind, keep all your fingers, toes, legs and pigtails crossed that it works out).

I also hit a local discount store to stock up on toddler T-shirts for Annabel (yawn) and buy new wiper blades for my car (double yawn) before I headed to a chiropractor's office so a woman, who specializes in pregnancy, could examine my hip area to see if I'll be permanently lame once this kid is out in the world.

I made the appointment with a coworker's referral, and have been causing much of the office staff to be rolling their eyes and wishing they could be flies on the wall for the consultation.

"I am NOT taking off my clothes. I don't care if the need to see my alignment. I'll just suffer."

and my perennial favorite foible about all things that require manipulation:

"I'd feel much more comfortably about chiropracty (or massage therapy for that matter) if they didn't actually touch me."

Of course after I got there and filled out six forms, watched an educational video on posture and realized I am just a vertibrael mess, they called my name.

The doc was nice. I was a good patient. I didn't say peep when she asked me to put on shorts and a gown.

She moved some stuff, cracked something and pushed on my butt while pulling up on one leg ... but when I left the office I didn't limp.

So I guess I'll make an appointment for next week.

Maybe she can do something about these canckles.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Same insanity, different day

I swear, you can't walk into a Target store and swing a cat without hitting a pregnant woman.

The red and white bullseye, I suppose, just reels 'em in.

Of course this thought has occurred to me before. During the 15-month pregnancy drought that finally ended in September, I'd tried to steer clear of the Midwest-mecca of multi-department merchandising for just that reason. All those burgeoning bellies just made me feel down in the dumps.

Whatever incidental hunk of junk I sought could probably be found on the Internet, I told myself. "Shipping schmipping, at least I'd never have to bump into a baby bump again."

So it is with a small degree of horror, now a mere month away from actually meeting Thing 2 in the flesh, that I find myself avoiding the store again for the same reason: the pregnant pause.

This time, I find myself staring down a procreational deadline and feeling as if I'm not ready: I've made no progress on the baby's room. I haven't solidified a new daycare situation for either child, and I've only just called the pediatrician to let them know they should prepare to visit me in the hospital come June. I've merely wrung my hands at the idea of acquiring additional storage for baby clothes or making other plans for organization. I'm not even mentally ready to commit to the purchase of a new car seat, even though my lazy self doesn’t want to disassemble and wash the old infant carrier Ittybit managed to decimate.

I figure it can’t hurt to look and see if I can't find a new car seat that's design would help me avoid a repeat of the great tennis elbow of ’04.

Yet, staring at the boxes in the carseat aisle of Target, I heave an enormous sigh of frustration. "I just don't feel like wrestling THAT into the car today," I whine to myself.

It doesn't help that I am surrounded by other women staking claim to the aisle's precious real estate, happily stocking up for their own impeding arrivals.

All I see is more stuff. ... More stuff to add to the stuff I already have and can't manage. More stuff to be unpackaged, stored, repackaged and recycled.

I also know it probably hasn't helped matters that until now -- eight months along -- I haven't looked as pregnant as pudgy. This baby's been stealth. And I'm not the only one who's missed it. I recently had to tell two doctors (an eye doctor and a dentist) that I was expecting so they'd cancel plans for prohibited proceedures.

Every part of me is comparing this pregnancy with its predecessor; a losing proposition if ever there was one.

I haven't witnessed the "knowing" smiles of absolute strangers; the giddy gazes of solidarity.

The bulky sweaters have hidden what little evidence existed. And now, a six weeks away from it all being over, it seems to have just rushed past -- an afterthought.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sometimes I forget

that's a K ... B-O-O-K, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Dear Annabel,

Sometimes I forget how small you are; how young and inexperienced.

I know that must sound strange, but it has always been so.

When you were born everyone -- from grandparents to strangers on the street -- marveled at how tiny you were. It is only looking back at the pictures of your tiny self in someone's adult arms that I see what they meant.

When I held you, even for the first time, you felt substantial. You felt ready for the world. You felt larger than life.

This weekend held a lot of that same kind of disconnect. You and I went to a ceramics shop to make presents for mother's day (I hope the amahs aren't reading this) and to go shopping for other presents, as May seems to be the month that marks a lion's share of our family's individual celebrations.

The shopkeepers at the crafts store ran us through the procedure. You listened as carefully as I did; perhaps even more carefully. You even managed to ask a question when you saw others were asking questions, too. "Where do you get the stencils?"

As we paint, you call me by name. And, after more than one person snickers, I remind you that you are WELCOME to call me 'Mommy' whenever you like.

The journey between shops -- specifically the forty-five minutes it took to get from our arrival destination store (located at the 7 o'clock point on the plaza schematic) to the departure location (at the 3 o'clock position) was one of only a few indications I was spending the afternoon with someone under the age of 20.

You had to stop to see all the flowers and fountains. You wanted to walk on every bench like a gymnast and make assisted jumps back to the ground. You took your sweet time.

Once in the stores you picked out presents, and demanded we get cards we had to sign with our names right away ... and BABY. "Don't forget the baby."

Even at the toystore, where we made an impromptu stop so you could be an honorary employee (and use their employee-only toilet) I couldn't get you to settle your fancy on a particular toy so I could pay a little thank-you to the owner for his graciousness.

Everything looked wonderful to you, but you didn't really want to go home with anything new. You picked things up and said they were "so cute," and then put them back. After browsing for a half hour I begged you to just pick something. You settled on a package of stickers.

I know this won't last.

I know that in the near future we will go back to this plaza and you will walk past the bookstore sculptures, not giving them a second look. You will walk three paces ahead and hope none of your friends see me.

You will want me to stay at Starbucks with my laptop and my latte and not come looking for you.

But for now I'll just wait as you sit on the bench next to the silent readers and watch as you correct the pronunciation only you can hear. I'll try to remember just how strange and wonderful this time has been.



Friday, May 04, 2007

Name that Toon

Lori told me recently that she can't "stump the chump," as the Car Talk guys like to challenge. But she's been trying.

Turns out Ittbybit has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of all things movie-related ... (hmmmm I wonder where she got THAT from?) and if you hum a few bars of any tune on the soundtrack she can recite the title of the movie.

For instance:

"La, la, la ... Baby of mine ... "



"Just a spoonful of sugar ..."



"Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nit-wit ..."



"Who can make a sunrise ... "



"So this is love ..."



"Some day my prince will come ..."


You do realize what this means, don't you?

We need to get out more.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Don't get attached to things ...

Let things attach to you.

I have officially purchased the first new item in anticipation of the arrival of Thing 2.

It's the Peanut Shell baby sling from Goo-Ga Style, Inc. And it was on sale.

I was eager to try it out since my Internet buddies are all singing the praising of slings, specificially the Kangaroo Korner brand, and I was recently witness to two (count 'em, TWO) amazing displays of baby slinging beauty:

*The first was during a baby shower where a cousin gave her expecting sister-in-law what I considered to be the most beautiful sling on the face of the planet. But OOOOOOH what was the name? Who made it? Baby brain and no pen are not a good combination!

*The second was on an outting with a friend whose baby sling was little more than an intricately tied shawl twice her height. Just looking at it made my head spin. No way could I do that, and I know if I tried the kid would be in a constant state of peril.

For Ittybit, we used an adjustable front pack, similar to the much touted BABY BJÖRN, but half the price. It was wonderful for about four or five months, until she doubled her birth weight and caused my back to protest. It was also cumbersome to put on. Straps and buckles had to be adjusted and readjusted every time.

This time I knew I wanted something that I could just put on and go. Something that seemed fool proof. Something that wouldn't make me want to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. But here I am balking at the median $60 price tag. So as is my way, I found an agreeable alternative -- far short of learning to sew -- a clearance/discontinued item in an online that looked festive.

It came in the mail yesterday ... I was so excited to see it I practically chewed through the Tyvek mailing pouch to get at it. In the process I unfolded the precisely folded sling and stood in the kitchen with what resembled a gigantic fabric Cherio that looked like it was on LSD.

I am never going to figure this out, I lamented as I remembered the ALL SALES FINAL deal that made the price so attractive.

I found a pocket! ... NO, the baby is DEFINITELY NOT fitting in there.

I looked at the picture on the brochure ... 'how do they ...'

I folded it up, put it back in the bag and walked away.

Maybe it's too small. It looks to small. What was I thinking? I am not that small.

I returned to the package a few minutes later -- unable to give up on the puzzle -- and extracted the sling again. This time I tried folding it in and slipping it over my shoulder. ... Ahhhh. Maybe ... Nope. It's upside down.

I turn it inside out and try again. There! That's IT! I've got it.

But then I wonder. 'OK, I've got it on, but how to I get the baby in there? Maybe I should test this on a doll.'

So off I go, looking for the most baby-like toy in Ittybit's collection. I settle for Elmo.

"Mama? What are you doing?"

"I'm just testing the new baby gear out on the little monster."

"Does it fit."

"Yes, I think it does."

"Well ... daddy can be pretty, too."

"What do you mean?"

"If daddy wore that he'd be pretty, too."

I've no doubt he'd look mighty purdy in this, but I have a confession: The Peanut Sling so comfee I may just wear Elmo around the house until there's a suitable replacement.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not so all alone

Since the bloggersphere or ethosphere or bloggerverse (or whatever you call this place once removed from actual, physical human contact) is filled with folks like me -- strangers who, for whatever reason, are more than willing to bare our souls and unleash upon the world our innermost secrets, fears and angst to be parsed and dissected by other strangers -- sometimes we forget that in all this seeking of solidarity we are still alone.

One of my favorite strangers, the lovely and talented Rebecca of Girl’s Gone Child, has extended a double-dog dare: She wonders why we are all so ready to expose the soft underbelly of our parental vulnerabilities but can’t voice with confidence that other thing we all secretly feel: That we are GOOD parents?

Personally, I think it's because we all learn that being self effacing is much more acceptable in a vast society as ours than being a braggart. It's a cultural currency, if you will, that ensures we will thrive.

Not that the world doesn't need diversity to thrive. If you were to take this to a cartoon level, just imagine how quickly your love and admiration for Bob Newhart would dissipate if he suddenly started combing his hair to the right and yelling "You're Fired" from atop Trump tower? And still, both men are successful.

But for women, the danger of not being endearing seems even more pronounced. We love the slender-legged woman who looks down and blushes when you give her a compliment. We hate the mouthy broad who calls it likes she sees it. We ostracise the latter. And if you are the one who stays even keeled ... you disappear.

Mostly I think in the grand scheme of things, socially speaking anyway, it's just not OK to think you are OK.

I've told this story about a handful of times: I think I fell in love with my husband's sister before I fell in love with him.

It was 1995, or there about, and she had just come to live with him after graduating from college. We were sitting around his "loft" watching a movie on the VCR. She was staying with him out of convenience so she could join a professional dance outfit in the area, and had voiced some concerns about the new situation. During the film Jed was asking her how she felt. Was she nervous? He asked her if she was worried that her dancing wouldn’t be up to par?

"No. ... It's not that," she said. "My dancing is fine."

I don’t remember anything after that moment.

I don't remember what it was that WAS bothering her because for the first time in my life I was hearing a woman take ownership of her skills without bravado and without self-effacement.

My. Dancing. Is. Fine.

I wanted to hug her. I wanted to hug her mother. I wanted to hug anyone who ever came in contact with this amazing woman of confidence.

And then I felt stupid. Why after all these years had I not heard women extol their own virtues? Why were we all so timid and accepting of criticism? Why do we loathe ourselves and each other?

As someone who is naturally anxious, I am far more apt to think I do everything wrong. But I want to be clear that feeling unsure is not the same as feeling inept. I don't regret many of my choices, even the bad ones. I realize that I am human, and as such I am not now, nor will I ever be, perfect. And unlike our Nation's current fearless leader (insert shameless political dig here), I know I can make better choices once I realize I've made mistakes. The mommy war can end with me. But owning the blunders is one thing, owning the blessings is quite another.

So in that respect, I know I am a good mother. I feel a kind of confidence – especially in my early days of motherhood – I had not known previously. 'I COULD do this,' I told myself. I was patient. I was resourceful. I was as fearless as I’d ever been. I could admit to NOT knowing and still feel my way to a place of understanding.

What I do know is that I love her with every fiber of my being and I would do anything I could to ensure that she grows up to know how strong and fearless women can be. I know I will love him with the same ferociousness. I know I'm going to make lots of mistakes, but I also know where I'm headed, and that's a start.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Checking in (wigging out)

I had a obstetrics appointment today - the 31st week of a pregnancy that is zooming by so fast I'm beginning to feel the panic (not to mention a distinct pain in my a** where a sciatic nerve has decided to commence tormenting me).

It's official, the date for the c-section will be June 19.

JUNE. 19th. A date that drags back Thing 2's zodiac sign from Cancer to Gemini. A date that is six months and one day off from his big sister's. Seven weeks. Just 49 days away.

Although I didn't fail the glucose test (surprise), I am considerably low on iron (no surprise there). So I've been given a prescription and instructions to take it lest I need a transfusion during the birth.

It wasn't until she asked me "How's the depression?" though, that I really got to thinking how I've not really been letting myself even THINK about depression.

That's not to say that all of a sudden I feel the weight of the world pressing down on my shoulders, or that I feel the familiar pangs of anxiety and depression, but I can't say that I'm unencumbered, either. In a month and a half we will have a full house and a new way of life.

Annabel will have a whole new existence. Everything she's known, from her parents' undivided attentions to her daycare situation, will be shifting. Lori will be taking another child to replace her (that idea alone for some reason hurts my heart), and Ittybit won't likely be able to attend her preschool in the fall as I had hoped.

I cannot begin to predict her reactions to all of this, but I've been worried. I feel guilty that so much in her life will change all at once. Isn't it enough to get a new baby?

There's still much procrastination on my part. I haven't finished the new daycare's paperwork, or called the pediatrician, or bought a new dresser, or decided on whether to buy a new infant carseat, or whether to get a new baby tub, or whether to use cloth diapers while I'm home on maternity leave or cleared out space in Annabel's closet, or taken more things we don't need to Goodwill.

I've been stalling. Or tredding water. Or wishing I could always keep Thing 2 with me inside, where I can feel him kick and squirm. I felt the same way about Annabel. I knew how quickly I'd forget the sensation (even then) and I was right. I forgot how it felt almost as soon as I stopped feeling it.

I suppose it didn't help much when the doctor pressed the doppler against my belly - now another pound bigger - and pronounced. "He's happy in there."