Friday, June 29, 2007

And baby makes ...

I'm sure you are all interested to know how Annabel is doing with her shift from center of the universe to an orbiting planet.

In my way of thinking it's been nothing short of miraculous.

So many things about the transition have astounded me. Since we returned home from the hospital Annabel has not asked to sleep in our room, even though she knows the baby does.

There's been no jealousy directed at the baby. She doesn't begrudge the fact that he's pretty much lounging around on me morning, noon and night. She doesn't demand that I put the baby down, other than to be "helpful." Mostly she tells me I need to nurse him ... and she more than helpfully tells me which breast I should use.

There have been outbursts though. More testing behaviors for us. More tantrums, fits and starts. More refusals to do as asked. She's forgetting some of her polite ways. But for the most part, it's all been directed toward us.

With Silas, she's as loving and tender as a loving and tender big sister can be.

Yeah, she did accidentally smack him on the head already, but she was very sorry. She said so over and over and over again and promised to be more careful in the future.

Of course the biggest dissappointment for her thus far happened when Maddy dog licked her "kissing spot" located on the back of the baby's head. We found a new place for her -- and her alone -- to kiss, and now we're doing just fine.

I imagine things will swim along like this for a while, at least until he starts trying to touch her stuff.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuning in Radio Free Europe

We just had our first well-baby appointment at the pediatrician's office. Silas -- who weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces at birth and dropped a grand total of 8 ounces in the hospital, leaving the joint Friday weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces -- has gained 10 ounces in just four days.

So yeah, he's bulking up.

The doctor again mentioned my breasts must be dispensing heavy cream. (She said this when Annabel came for her first well-baby visit, only two days after leaving the hospital, and had regained everything she lost, too).

I will have some serious things to say once I get back in action, however I couldn't resist posting this photo from the hospital, because it's hilarous and I serious wished I'd taken it. Sad but true.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thing 2 ...

silas ... I'm a boy, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Silas Patrick was born June 19th, 2007 at 7:07 p.m. weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 19 inches.

He does indeed have hydronephrosis -- a moderate dilation of the left kidney, in his case -- which was diagnosed inutero, but otherwise he's healthy.

Now that all that statistical stuff is out of the way, let me tell you about our boy ...

He is perfect.

He has lots of dark hair on his head and even some on his back. He came out quietly as the doctors pushed and pulled and cajolled him from his place inside me. My doctors had called in a high-risk pediatrician and had warned me that anything could happen, the worst being that he could be in need of a little NICU time seeing as how the surgery at 37 weeks 5 days (according to the ultrasound due date) was taking him just a tiny bit early.

As he was being examined, his bluish body (normal after birth) turned bright red and he screamed his beautiful head off. He even peed on the ped, which made Jed so proud.

(Just so you know, he was equally proud of his daughter's mischievous persuits at this age, too ... she got the footprint ink EVERYWHERE when the nurse who did the honors diverted her attention just for a second).

My memories of my recovery time with Annabel were much different, however, than with her new brother.

I recall, though I'm told, she was with me the whole time. But I didn't hold or nurse her until we got to our assigned room in the maternity section. Waiting for her to be put in my arms felt like an eternity.

This time Jed was sitting right next to me with Silas as they PACU nurse, Jennifer, went about doing her assessments and tests of my recovery. (The incision being not as nice as the last one, she was worried about some bleeding).

Silas latched on (painlessly, I might add -- he's that good a kid) within an hour.

So far he's been a quiet boy, though. The nursery would take him at night to give me a chance to sleep and return him every three hours for feedings. Each time they opened the door and told me he was hungry, he was silently looking up at me, eyes wide open. Just waiting patiently.

We returned home last night, and Annabel is over the moon about her baby. She has a place all her own (on the back of his head) that only she can kiss.

And she assures us she LOVES being a big sister. All I know is he's a lucky boy to have her, and we are a lucky family to have them.

It's a good day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Silas Patrick, 6 pounds, 3 ounces

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Reeds driftin' on by
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Fish in the sea
You know how I feel
River running free
You know how I feel
Blossom in the tree
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you know
Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when the day is done, that's what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me
For me

Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Yeah freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
It's a new life
For me

And I'm feeling good

-- Nina Simone

Monday, June 18, 2007

Never fear

Dear Annabel,

Today you are exactly three and a half years old.

Tomorrow you will be a big sister.

Two years ago, when I wormed my way into your father's ear and convinced him that having a second child was the most important thing we could ever do as a family, I changed the name of this here receptacle of mind splatter.

Up until then it had been "Bringing up Baby." I decided that it should include you both as ittybitty beings, as well as the little nubbins of observations I could glean from watching you grow. It may also suprise you one day to learn that I don't actually call you Ittybit outside this virtual space.

Somehow, the name just never fit anything but your physique and your voice, the latter of which is just now starting to become deeper. There's nothing else tiny about you. Not your mind and not your personality for sure. In addition to your given name, we call you all manner of pet names: punks, sweets, bug, bumple, bumplekins, boop. ... Often you look at us sternly and tell us that you are "NOT a cutie" you are "an ANNA-BEL."

You are nothing if not a tough cookie.

It may also suprise you to know one day that I didn't worry about you much. About you I always felt a certain calm. A certain amount of inexplicable ease. As you grow to know me more, you will be surprised because you will know me as a worrier ... an anxious being who voices all my fears in the hopes of driving them away.

This last week we found out that your brother may have some troubles. At the least he may have kidney issues that will have to be followed by a specialist. And perhaps we are looking at more: Down syndrome.

As I tried to get reassurance from my doctors, I learned that there was none to be had. They said 'well you had the tests ...' No. I hadn't had 'THE TESTS.' I had the blood tests and the in-office sonagrams. But not the tests that narrowed it down even further.

I felt as if I'd been negligent. As if I'd not done everything humanly possible to ensure a healthy baby.

I hid my tears from you. I worried that I'd made this choice for you and your father unfairly.

I had done the same with you. I had rejected invasive tests, committed to my decision to love any baby no matter how sick. But as I said, with you I had an amazing feeling of invincibility. (I think it must have crossed the placenta from you to me.)

Back then, with no understanding of you, your father wasn't as convinced. He didn't know whether he would be ok with raising a child with special needs. But since you, he's come to know that no matter what, he probably could. There is no giving you back, there's no turning back from your brother either.

Once I realized that the lack of reassurance didn't changed the reasons why I didn't have testing in the first place, and that I couldn't have made any other decision, the elusive calm came back. The thing is none of us are guaranteed anything from living. We can't even be assured that working hard will bring like kharmic rewards. We just have to do it because it's how we want to live, not because of what we think we can get from living that way.

So now I turn back to this place where I've put so many of my memories. This place where I've spilled my fears and thoughts and worries. And I wonder what will become of it. You are not going to be it's soul focus. All roads will no longer lead to just you. I have to think that's a good thing. There's room for more; there's room for everything. It's just going to be a little bit more cozy as we make the space fit.

I love you all day and night, sweetheart. Never fear.



Sunday, June 17, 2007

Daddy's girl

Just two days after father's day, Jed will have himself a son.

No small thing for a man who bristles at having been surrounded by women for more than 30 years. He still rants about being raised by a pack of shewolves (his mother's many friends) whom he insists damaged his tender male psyche with their 1970s off-the-cuff male-bashing ways.

"Oh, they'd deny it," he says, "but I'd have to listen to them talk about how men really were horrible. And there I was, devastated, because I knew that someday I was going to be a man."

Since then he's continued to be surrounded by estrogen: A wife, a daughter, even two female dogs.

When I asked him to guess what Thing 2 would be he never even hesitated. "A girl," he said without question.


I have to admit, that for an instant I worried about the potential for favoritism. The "MY BOY BILL," chest beating-type of sentiment that made me want off the Carousel.

I also worried about MY abilities of bringing up a boy. What, afterall, do I really know about boys outside of some early tomboy tendencies?

So when our local public radio station aired an interview with Dr. Margaret Meeker, author of "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters," I turned up the volume.

I don't know what I was thinking, really. If I were to be honest, I'd have to say that I thought perhaps I could catch something that he was doing that would forever alienate her and send her skipping down the path of depression at break-neck speed.

But as I listened, I realized how lucky she is to have him as her dad. How, even in these tiny years, he's engaged without being overbearing. And how he exhibits with every action that she is a part of him, too.

And there was even a lesson in there for me. "Don't go thinking you know everything there is to know about girls."

Happy Father's Day, Jeddie. I don't think you even need to read this book.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Send it off in a letter ....

Dear Amah Linda,

I love you very much.

When I get older will I have hair on my butt?



Friday, June 15, 2007

It's quittin' time

ITTYBIT: Mommy? Why do you have to work?

MOMMY: Well ... after today I don't. I get to spend the summer with you and your brother.

ITTYBIT: YAY!!!!! .... Then Lori can come to OUR house!!!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Such a head for knowing ...

in all seriousness, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

ITTYBIT: Daddy. ... If my head gets cut off it will grow back.

DADDY: No it won't


DADDY: No it won't. Believe me. It won't.

MOMMY: Let's not make her test this theory. Honey, you are not a starfish.

ITTYBIT: Oh pickles!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Getting our ducks in a row

I've spent two days feeling right sorry for myself. I've cried myself dry.

To his credit, Jed has been a font of positive thinking. Telling me that no matter what happens it's going to be all right.

He even sent me off yesterday to be with friends I hardly ever get to see anymore.

I didn't get home until after they'd both gone to bed. He'd left a message on my voicemail telling me he would be gone before I got up, but Ittybit had a gift for me on her dresser she was excited to give me in the morning.

She woke happy, clutching a package containing a beaded necklace she and Jed had strung for me.

I put it on and felt a heavy weight lift. It surprised me. Even the birds that have been waking me up at 5 a.m. every morning since this month started seemed like a welcome addition to the morning din.

I'm feeling better now. The world is even looking brighter and more ordered.

I'm still hoping for the best, but accepting that perhaps what's best isn't the myth of perfection.

I also want to thank you all for your kind words, or your silent thoughts and prayers.

It lightens the load.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Drumming my fingers

These last few days have seemed like walking through waist-high water. It feels like I'm expending a lot of energy to get nowhere.

I've finally purchased some furniture for Thing 2's room, dragged a metric ton of clothes to the Goodwill donation station and procured a gift for the little miss from her new baby brother -- a Mickey and Minnie Mouse watch that plays "You Are My Sunshine."

She and I have finished making a "memory book" for her beloved babysitter, whose last week coincides with the baby's arrival. I've even cleaned the house (and re-cleaned the house) whenever anyone steps foot on the floor.

But since the scary, last-minute news of the potential for health problems, not to mention Down syndrome, I've been feeling as if things are in a state of Limbo. (Too bad Limbo's been scrubbed from dogma ... it's the perfect place for my mind to be floating about right now.)

The doctor I saw today -- my last visit -- couldn't offer any reassurance, either. Turns out the regular ultrasounds done in the office are just for shits and giggles or who knows, maybe just padding their bottom lines as they cover their bottoms. And the quadscreen tests, not terribly reliable. All he could offer was sad eyes and a low, concerned voice, "we'll know on Tuesday."

I don't know how to face the next seven days.

*Time seems to have stopped.
*Eating isn't a priority.
*Writing doesn't matter, and yet it must get done.

There isn't enough food for thought.

All the niceties I contemplated ... birth announcements, phone trees for notification purposes, and other to-dos are at a standstill. The excitement is gone. Again. I am back to feeling like a horrible mother.

How do I move forward until I know what we're dealing with? As I make doctors appointments -- for myself and the newbie -– I envision a new life of trips to medical professionals, fears of being bullied into decisions I don't want to make, having to fight every step of the way.

I am reminded of little essay that parents of special-needs kids get handed pretty routinely by well-meaning folk called "Welcome to Holland," about how having a special-needs child is like planning a special trip to Italy. You learned the language and the customs. You are all set to tour Venice and Florence and Milan, but instead your find yourself landing in Holland.

All I can think is that having a special needs kid is NOT at all like getting rerouted to Holland. It's more like planning a wonderful vacation only to find yourself being sent to a war zone. A place that is frightening, not filled with flowers. Every time a doctor tells you the worst-case scenario, you have only the worst-case scenario.

You have to cover your eyes and plug on as their cover their asses. Hope is something you have to find on your own.

Perhaps in time you'll be taking the pretty photographs, and writing down the tales of all the adventures with an eye towards the comical, but at the moment you're just trying to learn the language, keep your head down and wait.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Would someone like to hit me over the head or burn down my house? Because that would really be a perfect end to this day

... you know, I'd just like to be prepared and all. ...

We had the Level II ultrasound today, and both of Thing 2's kidneys are indeed dialated - the right one only slightly and the left is more than twice the size of normal.

Another office, another set of forms to fill out, another gentle technician probes around. Spending a lot of time on his face. She waits until he moves his hand away from his mouth so she can get a unobstructed view. He smiles a little as I watch her nudge him with the wand. I melt.

Another printout from the machine. "Here. Have a second copy for your husband," she says, and I thank her. She gathers a ribbon of printouts and leaves the room to get the doctor. I wait there, sitting up on the table, looking at his little, sleeping face in my hands.

Another smiling doctor. This one is more than happy to tell me not only is kidney dilation a marker for Down syndrome, but that while everything else has seemed OK up until now, she's seen LOTS of people come through her office with only one marker turn out to have Downs babies. "We'll only know for sure after he's born."

Really? Thanks for that.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I really, really, really, really hate the medical profession

"Hello? This is Tina from your OB-GYN office? Sorry to call you at work but I've got you an appointment for the Level II ultrasound and consult ... "

"Uhm ... someone already called me and told me it was set for Monday."

"Ah, no. There's nothing down for you on Monday. It's next Tuesday ... "

"Would that be before or after I give BIRTH to the baby you want to see in the ultrasound?"

"Let me call you back."

"Yeah. Why don't you do that."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sorry, Charlie

Annabel was solidly onboard with the name we selected for Thing 2. She even sang it to me once in the sweetest dulcet tone, telling me between phrases it was the "greatest name ever."

Oh sure, we still joke about calling him Sidewalk or Mailbox or Sharkbreath or other low-brow monikers such as Poopyhead ... but she knows the difference between a nickname and a given name. And she told me every day how much she loved her little brother, and she loved his name.

I don't know how you'd feel, but I'll tell you, for me it's a little bit of electrified magic when your first born loves the name of her soon-to-be brother. It's like an equation someone with my intellect shouldn't have been able to have figured out so elegantly.

For weeks, months even, I was a rockstar. Walking on clouds. Ready, willing and able to tackle the toughest problems -- our faltering economy, war in the Middle East, why the recycling NEVER gets put out on Thursdays. Nothing could stop me.

Then, yesterday, she pulled out my power cord ...

"Mommy, I want to call my baby Charlie. I don't want to call him that other name," a name, I might add, she will no longer say aloud.

"Honey. We're not naming him Charlie. Sorry."

My answer does not compute.


Her sweet song has turned shrill.









I think through all available responses, and the elegance of my equation evaporates: Three-year-old + tantrum - tolerance / earplugs * the desire to drink copious amounts beer + bang own head against wall = an uncontrollable urge to rename HER Poopyhead.

All I'm left with is ...


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Please and Thank You

All of a sudden she she's turned into a grown up. I'm not sure how it happened. Last week she seemed so baby-like and this week - poof - Big Girl.

Our town recently had a craft fair, which we went to for wont of something better to do on a Saturday morning. We were early so we camped out for a little while at a cafe and bought coffee, water and oreos. (Relax, she'd had breakfast before we left). The vendors were still setting up when we headed out into the mid-morning sun. We chatted with neighbors, bought a few things -- including some of the most sinful pies known to man -- and paid a visit to a flouncy clown making animal balloons for donations.

(I was careful not to recoil visibly from the sight of the woman. ... You know clowns frighten me, but Annabel doesn't share my hangups just yet and I hope to keep it that way.)

However, the best part was when a local disc jockey spinning the oldies pulled out bags of new stuffed animals and told the kids they were free to anyone who said "please" and "thank you."

I could see in her eyes that she was rapt with desire. I wondered what she would do.

Would she ask me to get her one?

Would she be shy and go without?

Or would she mosey on over after other kids had made their selections, point to the largest, bluest teddy he had and ask in a tiny voice, '"Could I please have that one?"

Of course then she'd spend the rest of the day ... and the next three at that ... reliving the moment and how she said "please" and "thank you," and how the nice man who gave her "sunshine bear" said "welcome."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The picture's not as clear now

Just another fuzzy picture: a face moving in and out, legs kicking, arms waving. Constant motion. My son. Our son.

At a 36-week (give or take) ultrasound they performed today to see if the baby's head was up or down (why this mattered, I have no idea as we are having a c-section anyway) the technician observed and noted the baby's left kidney was dilated.

The midwife, who closed her eyes tightly as she tried to explain what was lurking in my chart, smiling away with all the assurances of someone who'd seen it all before (a lot so don't worry) didn't end up being much reassurance.

She explained that generally when this kind of thing is "observed" they recommend the babies be seen by a neonatologist after the birth. They will perform a renal ultrasound, and perhaps other tests, to determine what should be done: surgery or wait and see if it resolves itself.

What resolves itself? What surgery? What is this?

I left the office not really knowing what I had just been told and, what's worse, the feeling of having no real ability to ask the questions that would get the answers I wanted.

The tape running through my head said "don't worry just yet" just like the midwife advised. ... However, I couldn't help but feel sorry for myself. This pregnancy hasn't been as trouble-free as the first. I haven't had the good, carefree feelings that marked my nine months with Annabel. I thought it was just the sadness of losing Lori, the uncertainty of moving to a new caretaker and the upheaval it means for Annabel.

I thought once the baby was born I could relax, and things would be better. My fears would prove unfounded and my anxiety would simmer down. I would be able to breath easily again. Foolishness.

That's what motherhood is all about, no?

Don't. Worry. Mom. Three words that when strung together really show the nature of the perfect oxymoronic sentiment.

I called Jed as soon as I left the doctors' office. Talking to him as I walked back to my own office down a back alley, trying to be diligent about looking out for traffic as I crossed streets.

"They don't know what the significance is yet, and they probably won't find out until after he's born," I said into the phone. "I really think some of the women in my internet group have dealt with this before. I'm going to ask them."

I could tell by his voice he was feeling like taking back all the negative things he'd ever said or thought about my "imaginary" friends.

As soon as I got to my desk, I did what everyone tells you to avoid: typed "fetal dilated kidney" into Dr. Google and got this.

I read it, and realized that it sounded similar to something that had come up at least once in the group. So I headed over there and started a thread. Within minutes there was not only an outpouring of support from those without answers but also a whole host of first-hand experience from moms and relatives of kids who'd been similarly diagnosed. I found the reassurance I needed there.

I find it so incredible that just three and a half years ago I was alone with my intuition and gobs of advice that was often at least three decades old. And now, just sitting in front of a computer screen, I've found out all about the kindness of strangers and the idea that nothing really is as bad as it seems.

To top it off, when I finally got home there was a box waiting for me. Weighing almost as much as Annabel and sent from a family I've only met in photographs, The Klapow Kids, the enormous package was filled with a bounty of wonderful clothes for Thing 2.

I can't really tell you how truly humbled and thankful I am to be living in a virtual world.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Weekenders ...

Just another manic weekend. We went to a friend's house for a brunch on Saturday and had a wonderful time pestering the couple's poor little pug pooch and playing hide-and-seek in their closets.

Yeah ... we really watch our kids when we're toasting good times.

But hey, It's all good ... nothing got broken and the kids ate their weight and fruit and fake sausage.

Sunday we had our usual yoga class, which I know Annabel is SICK of attending. She's happy to see her friend Maya, but only because Maya brings eye shadow and lip gloss, and they get busy getting all gussied up. She has no interest in actually doing much yoga, except for the OMs at the end.

Then I had to go to a year-end dinner for board members at Annabel's preschool, a place I like to refer to as Marilla Cuthbert's Academy for Unspeakably Charming Children, which I'll admit was fun, if only because it's still so hilarious for me to listen to the preschool teachers try and break out of their early-childhood-educator voices as they're downing daiquiris. In case you are wondering, they just can't do it. ... all roads lead to using your "listening ears," or your "walking feet." Furthermore, it is now my unscientific conclusion that preschool teachers are the most UNCORRUPTABLE humans on the planet. Each one -- including the teacher who was retiring -- called it quits at ONE daiquiri. They have their standards.

I, of course, was drinking seltzers and lime and eating WAY too much tenderloin and salad (all of which came back up when I tried to go to sleep four hours later). So it turns out I'm experiencing a late pregnancy evening sickness, which I think has to be related to the "out of control" heartburn I've been experiencing on and off since month FIVE. (Aren't you glad I'm sharing?)

The best part has to be this morning, however, when Annabel brought her bright little self into Lori's house and told her in her tiny voice and without fanfare: "Mommy has terrible heartburn EVERY DAY."

Friday, June 01, 2007

We're all gonna be holding out cups soon

What the @&!! is that?

It's a coffee mug. You know, you drink coffee out of it. Or you could put pencils in it and just leave it on your desk.

What is THAT?

It's a T-shirt. You can wear it and no one will know what the hell it means ...

Yeah ... I found out today our health insurance is going up $80 a month ... and, not surprisingly, my paycheck ... isn't.

So if you need a new T-shirt, or you break your slimy old coffee mug and want to replace it by spending copious amounts of money in shipping ... you know for a lost cause ... feel free to browse.

But no pressure, yeah? I know that you're all probably in the same boat.