Friday, October 30, 2009

Project TH: Target Hiatus

I didn't get a chance to blog about it a couple weeks ago because I was too busy being pissed off about being judged for having had a c-section, but two Fridays ago, I was busted by Bank of America for shopping at Target too much.

On said Friday morning, upon attempting to put some gas in the car, my credit card was unceremoniously rejected by the gas station card swiper. "Card rejected...Card rejected. Warning: You Are A Loser. LOOK EVERYONE, GIANT LOSER AT PUMP #3!!" Having sweaty palmed flashbacks to my first five years of teaching (your credit card gets rejected a LOT when you're making $500 a paycheck, I'll tell you that), I rummaged through my wallet for actual cash; you know, those pieces of paper with numbers on them that you can trade for other things? Yeah, I hardly ever carry it anymore, either. But for some reason (probably a "If you put the entire balance on your card, I'll give you cash for my part of it" situation) I had a $10 tucked in the wallet and was able to procure enough gas to get Ethan to school.

The whole time I drove Ethan to school, I fretted about how to explain to my financially responsible other half that I had somehow managed to bounce the bank account, even though I really wasn't shopping all that much. Your basic "we just moved in to a new house and need eleventy billion little things like a cat poop scooper and 2-3 containers of Clorox wipes and a Shabby-Chic over the toilet bathroom cabinet" type of stuff. But nothing excessive.

After dropping Ethan at school, I returned home and got on the horn with BofA. I had to call them three times before I realized that to every single prompt, you just have to yell "OPERATOR!!!" or you will be stuck in voice-automated-banking hell. And no one wants to be there. So when I finally got a real live human being on the other end of the phone, I explained my situation, complete with protestations like "I KNOW there's money in that account," which you know they hear so many times a day that they must hold their fingers up to their heads and pretend to blow themselves to smithereens every time they hear it from some other pathetic chump who overdrew his account.

The nice young man asked me if I could identify my last four purchases. One was a grocery purchase. One was to Target for a reasonable amount of money (cat poop scoopers dont' really cost a lot, you know); another was to Target, one day before, for a bit more money (Shabby-Chic over the toilet bathroom cabinets don't grow on trees, you know), and the other was for about $4.50 at Target only 35 minutes before the Shabby-Chic purchase. That would be my pumpkin spice latte at the Target Starbucks (seriously, whoever thought to put Starbucks in Targets could basically take over the world).

Yes, I said. All of those purchases were mine. Feeling defensive I almost wanted to ask the guy why the hell they were making judgments about my spending habits and turning off my card at gas stations. Seriously, when did BofA take on the role of being my spending conscience?? I jokingly said, "So you think I should spend less time at Target?! Hardeeharhar!"

He laughed and made a comment about being equally "addicted" to Target (yeah, that's what he said. Kindred spirit), but then said the red flag on my account hadn't gone off because I was spending too much of my husband's money at Target (okay, those might be my words), but because my recent spending habits mimicked those of a common identity theft tactic. Steal a card, use it at places like Target and Wal*Mart (ha! As if I'd step into a Wal*Mart. Please.) for relatively small purchases, then attempt to purchase gas to see if the card is still active. If it's still active at the gas station, the next fraudulent purchase is usually a doozy (more along the Neiman Marcus rather than Target). So they froze my card when I went to the gas station. Because I seem like a thief. Awesome.

We got that all straightened out and my card was reactivated with no problem. But it did get me thinking. Do I really need to spend that much of my life's time and money at Target? Oooooh, it hurts to even ask that question because in my heart (sort of) I want to cry out "Yes!!! Yes I really DO need to spend that much of my life's time and money at Target!!!! I doooooo!!!" But I know I don't.

So this week I decided it was time for a break. There is a Target being constructed near our house and it is set to open soon. Sort of like how a couple who have been having sex like bunnies for the entirety of their relationship decide not to have sex in the days or weeks leading up to their wedding, thereby making the consummation of their wedding that much more magical (which is absurd because on your wedding night you're going to end up soaking your throbbing feet in a tub, drinking a bottle of champagne and passing out on the overly fluffy bridal suite bed anyway, not having porn-worthy relations with your new husband. No? Maybe that's just me), I decided that from now until the time that the glorious new Super Target opens near my house, I will abstain from Target. No. More. Target.

Earlier this week, I went to Target, bought a ginormous chai tea latte, threw my purse into the bottom of the cart and meandered the aisles aimlessly for a little bit, taking in what I'd be giving up. All the new holiday stuff---shiny chargers (yeah, I have those already--one of them mangled my toe last month, remember?) and the soft new cashmere(esque) scarves and mittens. I may have purchased a CD of holiday music. I may have purchased a few early Chrismukkah presents for Ethan and a couple of cheap changes of clothes to keep in his cubby at preschool. And then I took a deep breath and said "see ya!" to Target.

So I am taking the next few weeks off from Target. Somehow though I'm not sure my Spendy Wendy brain quite got the point of this Target Hiatus. Today I went to Bed Bath & Beyond and bought a freaking Snuggie. And potpourri. I went to Borders and bought two books (but really, one is a Charles Dickens book--it's a classic. That's a gimme, right?).

Just letting you know, if I'm super cranky by this time next week, you can chalk it up to Target withdrawals. Should be fun.




Thursday, October 29, 2009

Back in the Saddle, erm, Stirrups, Again...

So perhaps there are some of you out there who've been reading for awhile and know that we've been chasing the dream of 2.5 kids for the past 2 years. If you're a new reader, the short version is that it's been wicked fun looking at negative pregnancy tests for the past 23 months and lots of super fun, and completely UNhumiliating, tests and procedures for both Husband and myself. And nothing to show for it, unless you count an ever-thickening medical chart and about ten pounds of emotional eating baggage on my ass and hips. In short? AWESOMENESS.

Now that we're relatively settled into our new home (happy one month anniversary in NorCal to us!) and since I woke up on Monday a year older, we've decided to get right back up on the Reproductive Endocrinologist horse and put in some phone calls. The result of those phone calls found me sitting in a new fertility clinic, one attached to an institute of learning, which means that I got to tell my entire medical history to a bubbly blond intern who took copious notes (I think she might have dotted her i's with puffy circles) and made small talk about Perez Hilton before heading into to share her findings with the RE.

Don't get me wrong, I make fun, but her "I'm at least 10 years younger than you" banter put me completely at ease and brought my blood pressure down to a reasonable level (I was running late, had to run up the stairs due to a broken down elevator in the building and was just this side of spontaneously combusting when they first took my vitals--I was pretty sure I'd be turned away from the clinic for being a pregnancy death-trap, but my pressure came down talking to Little Miss Intern. So it's all good.

When LMI left the room to go confer with the RE, I got to look around the room, at the standard posters of uteri and fallopian tubes, ovaries busting with follicles and all of that good stuff. Like the ABC charts in Ethan's preschool class, but not, you know? Good times. And of course, there was this:

and really, WHO doesn't love that?

Ah, my old friend the OB/GYN exam table. With your stirrups, paper sheets and sonogram complete with what I affectionately call the dildo-cam. It all adds up to a really good time. So that long thing sticking straight up at the end of the table? Turns out that's NOT a microphone. Yeah, I thought it was. Asked the RE what in the world they needed a microphone for on an exam table. She looked at me, smiled, and said, "Yeah, that's a light. Not a microphone. I won't need it today, but I might another time."

Um. I'm pretty sure she might have then jotted down in her notes "Woman too stupid to procreate. Must check to ask if she's actually been having sex, or just checking her chimney monthly to see if the stork dropped a baby down it." Awesome.

The RE was really nice. Petite little blond lady with a big smile. A world away from my former Israeli, male RE, who was also nice, but in a "I used to be in the Israeli Army--let's bomb the shit out of your infertility, shall we?" kind of way. He was talking IVF before even upping my dose of clomid my 2nd cycle with him. Not necessarily a bad thing, and probably just what a lot of almost-old ladies want to hear when they come to him, but I wasn't willing to consider IVF until other options had been relatively exhausted. And I was only on 50mg of clomid, so...

This RE agreed, after taking a look at my ovaries (read: mashing my lady bits into pudding with her ultrasound), that we should move on to injectable medication "if you're not pregnant this cycle." Of course, in my mind, which is really just on this side of full-on insanity at this point (at least as far as having another baby goes), that meant to me "maybe she saw something on the ultrasound and doens't want to tell me, but maybe she knows I'm already pregnant! SQUEEEEE!" Because of course, it's totally possible to see a fertilized egg on an ultrasound two days after ovulation, right? Yeah, I know. Don't worry, I didn't actually ask. Because you know, I'd already asked about the exam table microphone. I figured one more asinine question would force her to send me packing in the interest of protecting any future children I might bear from having to deal with my stupidity.

It was a good consultation in all, and I have a follow up in a couple of weeks for "injectables training," so I can learn how to give myself the shots that will hopefully trick my body into popping out a plethora of eggs. So get ready, internets, I hope to be making lots of Octomom jokes in the near future (not that I intend to BE the next Octomom--let's remember the cervix and all it's fabulous incompetence, okay? We'll be having, if we are lucky, ONE baby, not a litter--that's not even a consideration, nice new RE lady and I agree on that).

Long story short, hope springs eternal.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are you freaking kidding me, Karma?

Really?

Perhaps I've mentioned that Ethan's been a terrible sleeper since....well, since he was in utero. Most babies, as they are busy doing things like growing their brains and their lungs, get rocked to sleep by the motion of their mamas meandering around all day long. Not mine. My ass sat in a bed for four and a half months while Ethan was doing all the busy work of forming. And without the soothing back and forth motion of my body walking around all day, he spent a LOT of that time awake, floating around in that primordial goo and kicking the ever-living daylights out of my bladder, cervix, stomach, lungs and anything else he could take a kick or punch at in there.

When he came out, he was early and sleepy. So many pictures of him lounging sleepily in our arms grace his scrapbook (and a note on that: the child is three and a half years old and I've managed to complete the first six months of his life in scrapbook form, because I am wicked crafty like that). "Oh, thank goodness!!" I thought, "he was SO busy in utero that he's knocked himself right out and he's going to be the most peaceful little baby! I mean, after the pregnancy we went through, it only seems fair, right?! Karma's cutting me a break here! Yay!"

Aaaaaand perhaps within moments of me thinking that, Ethan awoke, began screaming and didn't stop until somewhere around his eighth month. We tried holding him still, bouncing him, swinging him gently, swinging him like we were in an aerobics class, turning music on softly, turning music up loudly, putting him in the bouncy seat, in the swing, in the car, on the dryer, in a sling, in the stroller. He did. not. sleep.

Ethan woke up during the night approximately every hour, sometimes exactly ON the hour, for the first two years of his life. Husband and I were essentially glorified zombies for much of that time (and sometimes not even really very glorified, actually). When I hear women ask "when will my three month old finally sleep through the night?!" it's everything in me not to laugh a crazy little cackle and regale them with my story of my sleep-allergic offspring. Likewise, when people tell me that their babies were sleeping through the night by eight weeks, you can be pretty sure I've got a voodoo doll of that woman somewhere in my house and have taken it out to stick pins in it at 2am when my kid is up for the 3rd time that night.

Over time, though, sleep has gotten better. He falls asleep more predictably, sleeps for longer stretches and when he does wake up, goes right back to sleep. So that's good. Yes, I do still end up in his room at some point pretty much nightly, and that's fine. It's what we do so that we all get the sleep we need. I'd love for him to sleep all night on his own, but I'm also not concerned that I'll have be searching for a university in fifteen years that has cosleeping dorms.

The best thing about having coslept, for us, aside from the whole bonding stuff (NOT that you can't bond with a baby without cosleeping--let's not get into that argument, mkay?) is that Ethan has been in a bed forever. Moving to his own bed was no novelty--it was just another bed. Lack of bars and railings didn't seem like some sort of freedom experiment in which Ethan bounded up and out of bed nightly to test the limits of this new liberty. Just another bed. Even when he did wake up in the middle of the night, he simply sat up, called to us and waited for us to come to him. Easy peasy.

Until last night. Last night, for some reason, Ethan decided that he wasn't ready for bed. He decided he wanted to play. And this decision made him CRAZY. I was sitting in the living room, watching re-runs (don't judge) and thought that perhaps tired Husband had fallen asleep with Ethan (it happens) because he'd been in there so long. Soon, though, I heard the wailing. The "I want mommy!!!"s of the drama unfolding in Ethan's bedroom.

When I got to the room, there were Husband and Ethan struggling in a battle of "on the bed--off the bed" in which Ethan crawled to the bottom edge of the bed, trying to get down, and Husband picked him up and put him back up by the pillows. Oh yeah, it looks like they were having a blast.

I relieved Husband of bedtime duty so he could regroup and proceeded to park myself on the floor in Ethan's room, my back against his closed door, calmly telling him over and over again to "get into bed, Ethan. It's time for bed, Ethan," until my teeth were on edge and I could vaguely hear the Psycho music playing in my head.

"I want to playyyyyyyyyy," he demanded, refusing to get back into bed, trying to get around me, his fingers reaching for the door knob. Sure, I've lost a few pounds at Weight Watchers in the past couple of week, but no way, no how was he going to be able to get the door open while I was resting my back against it. So I sat there with him while he tantrumed himself ragged, wondering what the beejeeezus had gotten into him, the kid who wasn't a great sleeper, but who was a great staying in bed-er.

Seriously, that was all we had going for us. At least he never gets out of bed, right? Ugh. It took another round of Husband coming into the room and relieving me of my bedtime duty (because of course after a certain amount of time with me, he started in with the "I want daddddddyyyyyyy" routine) before he finally crawled into bed and conked out.

It is bedtime tonight. Husband and Ethan are in E's room and right now, all is quiet. I am holding my breath that last night was not the beginning of a new era of bedtime hellaciousness in our household. Join me, won't you?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkinnnnnnns

Oh, and sea lions.

First of all, thanks so much for all the thoughtful and positive comments on my last post; sometimes you throw stuff out there with a giant, albeit silent "VALIDATE MEEEEE!" and you always come through for me, so thanks for that. Greatly appreciated.

Also? Please excuse my scattered use of the letter "n" in this post--my "n" key is once again o the fritz, courtesy of my favorite 3.5 year old. I caught him awhile ago, on my computer with about 10 programs open ad now my "n" key is free-floating and the fan in my computer is going full-steam ahead.

This weekend we celebrated fall Northern Californnnia style, spending Saturday at the pumpkin patch and Sunday communing with the sea lions in Santa Cruz. Ethan's been positively giddy all weekend---so giddy in fact that Husband and I both need to spend some quality time in sensory deprivation tanks just to get over it.

So, some pictures for you:


Would you buy a red warty thing for $10?

Again with the red warty things

Blue pumpkins

Cinderella pumpkins
dueling corncobs...

Husband and Ethan brave the carousel





Ethan can find drums anywhere....


communing with nature


who you callin' "Sugar Pie Pumpkin?"

And today....

This sea gull buzzed me as he landed---didn't know whether to be amazed or fa-reaked out.

Ethan checks out the sea lions below the pier.

hello, there.

pig pile of sea lions


nature's version of the family bed. Cozy


"Enough with the pumpkins and sea lions. Where's my pizza?"

Friday, October 16, 2009

You Know What I Can't Stand?

Or, In Defense of the C-Section Mom.

Yeah, I know. It's been almost 3.5 years since the day I had my c-section, I should just get the hell over it. But it seems like so many places I go today (both in my every day walking around in the real world life and out here on the interwebs), the mom who ends up with or for some reason, G-d forbid, chooses a c-section is made to feel like a second class citizen in the land Womanhood and Motherhood.

My c-section came as a total surprise to us; Ethan had been trying to make a hasty entrance into this world from about 20 weeks gestation on, so the idea that he wouldn't just fly right out when my water broke and my cerclage was cut was just absurd to me. He was 5.5 weeks early. He'd be tiny. My cervix had been gunning to dilate for months--I'd be at 10cms in minutes, sneeze, and POP! out he'd come. It would hurt like a mother, but it would be over pretty quickly, and of course it would be vaginally.

Perhaps I had an unrealistic vision of what my labor would be like given the circumstances of my pregnancy and early labor (and the fact that it was my first time and I was clueless). But "c-section" never entered my mind. And then we discovered that because of my cerclage, I wasn't going to dilate past a certain point (9cms--sonofabitch!), that Ethan was cord-wrapped and wouldn't engage with the birth canal, and that his heart rate was all kinds of pissed off at us. So the game changed and I found myself in a freezing operating room staring at a blue sheet and feeling tugs and pressure instead of pooping on the doctor and feeling the "ring of fire" of delivery.

Fine. So be it. For a long time I grieved that experience. Felt like less of a woman because I didn't deliver my child the way nature intended. Every time someone referred to vaginal delivery as "natural," I felt like a freak of nature. "Did you have him naturally, or was it a c-section?" My c-section absolutely contributed to my postpartum depression and I beat myself up over it a lot.

But as time went on (and the Zoloft kicked in), and I watched my little baby turn into a little boy, I started to feel that wound heal over. Seriously, look at him. Who cares HOW he got here? He got here. That, in and of itself, is perfection to me. And nothing pisses me off more than when the world around me sends the message that it's not good enough.

Go to any Barnes and Noble or Borders bookstore and head to the pregnancy book shelves. You will find books on hypnobirthing, writing your own birth plan, med-free birthing, at-home birthing, having a green pregnancy, a green delivery, all of it. What you won't find is a single book specifically about c-section. Preparing for one, experiencing one, recovering from one physically and emotionally, caring for your newborn after one.

Yeah, you'll find a cursory chapter about "if you should end up having a c-section" in the back of some pregnancy/birthing books, like an after-thought. But that's about it. And I get that no one really WANTS a c-section. I get that they are last options and not the way nature intended us to bring our babies into the world. But you know what? That doesn't mean women who have c-sections shouldn't have more information available to them than the discharge sheet their nurses give them when they are sent home, about how to care for their stitches or staples or whatever the hell the surgeon puts them back together with.

Because of my parenting choices, I tend to read the blogs of like-minded women, or follow them on Twitter. And because I coslept and breastfed and read Dr. Sears books, most of those women are also very anti-cesarean. How many times have they made comments about cesareans as unnecessary and bad for the baby and rallied behind a mother who didn't want to have a c-section, offering her advice about how to refuse one, without hearing the doctor's side of the story? The assumption that ALL doctors are evil cutters who want to "mutilate" women in labor so they can make their 4pm tee-time is insulting not only to the doctors, but the expectant mothers who would defer to them and later be made to feel like idiots because they let their doctor "talk them into" a c-section.

Yeah, I know those doctors exist. But I refuse to believe that my doctor was one of those. He stayed beyond his shift, called in another doctor to confer with about my case. Stayed until well after my surgery so that he could check on me post-recovery. Do I know 100% that my c-section was 100% necessary? Nope. Would I, or would Ethan, have died without it? I have no idea. But I'm going to go with "I trust my doctor" on this one. And I don't want anyone giving me a hairy eye-balled sideways glance because of it.

Then there's the condescending, "Well, I mean, c-sections are okay if they are REALLY necessary," which I imagine falls on my ears in the same way that formula feeding moms hear, "Well, formula's okay if you REALLY can't nurse." It's such a "poor you; you have to live with being inferior" sentiment handed out by the ever-so-smug "I can do it better than you can"ners. I'm tired of it.

Recently I was having a conversation with a group of women about TLC's "A Baby Story" and said how I loved watching it when I was pregnant and still watch it from time to time now (because I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment--hey, infertile lady! Come watch babies being born!!! Awesome). One woman who had trained for hypno-birth told me that she had been advised NOT to watch the show because of how "negatively" it presents delivery and all the things that "can go wrong." Well, TLC's "A Baby Story" has never shown a baby die. Or a mother die. So, I'm not really sure what they show that is "going wrong," but I have to assume she meant the women who end up in c-section. My baby's delivery didn't go wrong; it just went differently than I'd intended. And it probably would have gone that way even if I'd spent months studying with the best hypno-birthing teacher money could buy.

I mean absolutely no disrespect to women who have had vaginal births, med-free births, hypno births, water births, home births, etc (and definitely not to anyone referenced in the above paragraph). Some of my favorite people have had those very experiences, and I am so happy that they got to experience it the way they wanted to. I even follow a woman on Twitter whose labor went so fast she unintentionally delivered in her own home, trying to get down stairs to go to the hospital. She's a freaking rockstar in my mind. BUT that doesn't mean that in that metaphor I have to be a fat, greasy roadie lugging amps around while the rockstars congratulate themselves and each other on being such kick-ass baby deliverers.

I've stopped reading blogs by people who push anti-cesarean agendas and I've unfollowed them on Twitter when they start painting negative pictures of c-sections in broad strokes, or use the "well, it's okay if it's really necessary" line. I've asked the associates at the bookstores, "Where are your books on Cesarean Sections?" and stood there as they looked at me slack-jawed and clueless.

I get that I might be alone on this, but I am sick of feeling like a second class woman and mother because of how my son found his way out of my uterus. Put him up against any other kid his age who shot out of his mom the "right" way, and I will guarantee you that he's as happy and as healthy as that kid. And that? Is the ONLY thing that counts.

Friday, October 09, 2009

View to a Move...

So I've taken a ton of pictures of the last couple of weeks, but somewhere in the shuffle, we lost the cable that connects our SLR to the computer. I have been impatiently waiting for the new one to be shipped and when I arrived home today from dropping Ethan off at school (what a funky little crabby-pants he is on a Friday morning. When can I start him on coffee?), there was the happy little FedEx envelope waiting for me. So now I can share eleventy billion pictures with you (taking a vote--how many people are sick of me saying "eleventy billion"? I'm a little sick of myself over it).

No further ado and all, here are some pictures of our move. We'll start with the kid, the cats and the boxes. Because you can never have too many of any of those things....well, wait.

Last Days at the Old House


King of the boxes.

This move took a few years off of the cats' lives.

I think I might have threatened to box him up for our journey; hence the breath-holding.



They can't leave me behind if I'm sleeping in this box....

This is the face I got on our last day of packing when I asked him, "Ethan, how crazy are we right now??" Based on the face, I'm guessing we were pretty crazy.

Last night in LA

Farewell, bright lights.

See ya, little house in the city. Thanks for the memories and take good care of that Vote NO on Prop 8 sign in the window that I forgot to take out.

On The Road


Ethan equipped with veggie straws and Buzz Light Year, is ready for the adventure to begin.

This is actually what most of Route 5 looks like. Purty.

Husband puts air in the tires. Cuz he's handy like that.

What? Don't you drive 250 miles with a wet diaper on the roof of your car and discover it the next time you stop for gas? We do. We're classy like that.

The New House


Back porch--please come over for a BBQ.

Living room with built-in bookshelves we don't want to tear out (if you've been here a long long time, you might remember Husband, the sledge hammer and the built-ins in our house in Virginia. You know, the ones that were covering up a window in the living room...)

Ethan's play room. And his new train table, which we bought the day before the movers came. Because we are the laziest people on the face of the earth and knew that the guy at Toys R Us would carry it to our car, then the movers could take it out of our car, put it on their truck, and then carry it into our new house. We're lazy geniuses!

Dinner the first night in our new house--pizza, chips and pickles on the back porch. Life's pretty freaking perfect, people.

You don't have to rely on knock-offs like Wipe-Out; here you can watch real Japanese game shows. On about ten stations.

ahhhhhhhh, the didn't leave me behind...............

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Everything Old is New Again...

Which is one of the neat things about moving.  In our old life in LA, Ethan had a school, Husband had a job, I had a gym and a group of friends and a dream of writing and of becoming a mom a second time over.  Now, Ethan has a new school, Husband has a new job and I....well, I'm sort of waffling a bit.  

No, no.  Not in a "uh-uh, is she about to go bat-shit crazy and jump off that cliff of Woe Is Me again?"  No.  Not waffling like that.  There will be no rocking back and forth in a dark corner twirling my hair into little twisty braids and muttering for me this time around (note: that never literally happened--just using it as a metaphor, interwebs; lest you really worry for my sanity)  I'm just...acclimating.

I'm touring gym, which is pretty hi-larious considering I'm hobbling around sans toe nail and am not supposed to be in closed-toe shoes for at least another week.  I'll tell you something, though; this whole mangled-toe thing is an injury far better suited for our old home where I could comfortably be in flip flops well into November.  It's 50 degrees up here in the morning, and I'm bundling Ethan up in sweaters and hats, until he's just shy of Randy's "tick about to pop" look in A Christmas Story, and then I'm toodling out of the house in a pair of summer-old flip flops.  It ain't pretty and it's freaking freezing.  

But I'm looking at gyms nonetheless.  You might recall I declared the past June-August period "The Summer of Sarah", where I intended to work out and write every day while Ethan was at school.  And of course, that didn't happen.  It started happening, but once news of our impending move sunk in, those hours that would have been spent sweating at the gym and hunched over my computer turned into hours building and filling boxes.  I'm not complaining for a minute--we've been here for just shy of 2 weeks and I feel like I am HOME.  I love it here and would pack to move here all over again if I had to.  But?  "The Summer of Sarah" turned into "The Summer of Sarah Stress-Eating Her Way Into a Bigger Size Jeans.  Which I guess is absolutely what I deserve for trying to borrow words from a grade-A loser like George Costanza as a means of inspiration.  Lesson learned. 

Today I toured one gym very close by Ethan's new school--perfection, right?  Drop him off at 8:30 am, head over to the gym and sweat for 2 hours, sit in a coffee shop and write in my blog and other projects for another 2 hours.  Except this gym isn't for me.  How do I know?  For starters, the guy on the elliptical trainer next to me practically punched me about five times whilst acting out whatever song he was listening to on his iPod.  

Please take a moment to picture little old me hobbling onto an elliptical machine and going about my business when suddenly there is a fist in front of my face.  I look to my left and the guy on the machine next to me, who seemed totally normal only seconds before, is now enthusiastically mouthing the words to whatever he's listening to, eyes closed, head shaking back and forth and arms punching to the side and then up in the air and then to the side again.  

I got about 3 minutes into this little elliptical dance routine before the guy really got going and the shaking of his head made me a target for wayward beats of strange-man sweat.  I WILL PASS ON THE STRANGE-MAN SWEAT, THANK YOU!

And so I hopped off that elliptical and moved to another one, but then I spent the next 25 minutes feeling badly that flailing sweaty man would know that I moved because of the near punching and hear sweating-on and I didn't want to hurt his feelings.  Because I was raised with the perfect amount of Jewish guilt and, this facility being Jewish in nature, it totally tapped into my guilt.  Nevermind that freaky Sweat Man should have felt bad for almost beating me about the head and neck while I was trying to work out.  Nope.  I needed to expend energy feeling badly that I'd maybe offended the guy through my desire to stay unbruised and glistening with only my own perspiration.  

As an aside, could I be on more of a tangent?  If you're still reading--thank you.  I've developed quite a rambling habit.  

The main reason I'm not going to join that gym is that it is obscenely expensive because aside from being beaten by other patrons while on the cardio equipment, it boasts all kinds of other social activities and pools and tennis courts and enrichment classes, sauna, steam room, blah blah blah.  Saunas and steam rooms make my blood pressure sky rocket, I don't swim or play tennis and the "mandatory fun" of social activities with strangers makes me break out into hives.  So, there's that. 

Tomorrow I will tour another facility that is perhaps more in line, price-wise and amenities-wise, with what we're looking for.  Maybe a little nicer than our warehouse-y YMCA from LA, but not quite as posh as this almost-country club.  

As for friends, I see lots of potential.  Moms at Ethan's school are friendly and accessible.  Our next door neighbors have already had us over for a play date and having three kids live next door aged 8, 6 and 2.5 is wonderful.  Best part is, they are home-schooled, so they're home often and Ethan can play with them during their break times.  They grow a lot of wonderful vegetables in their yard, so Ethan always gets to see giant pumpkins and we have free reign over the parts of the cherry tomato plant that falls onto our yard.  They're the type of neighbors who leave notes on your fence and knock on your door.  I love that.   I've also tentatively joined a book club.  So as much as I was dreading the whole "throw yourself at every friendly face' method of friend-making I employed in Los Angeles, I have found myself going back to it here, keeping in mind that I met some wonderful people in LA because of it.  

Writing?  In our new house I have, for the first time ever, a dedicated space for writing.  It is small and I need to work hard to really carve it out as a Mama's Writing Space Only nook, but it's mine and I intend to use it daily.  And I intend, at some point in the near future, to start looking for opportunities to really "be" a writer.  Like a paid one, in some capacity.  I love this blog and hope to write it forever, but when I'm old and grey, I don't want to look back and think, "I wish I'd had the confidence to really embrace writing as a more complete part of my identity." So there's that. 

And the dream of being a mother for a second time over?  Sigh.  Two years ago Husband I decided to give it a year.   Then we decided to give it another year.  I was 36 at the time and said that 38 was my absolute cut-off age for having another child.  I will be 38 in 3 weeks.  Unless I'm about 35 weeks pregnant and don't know it (I could SO have my own TLC show if I were!), I'm not going to have a baby before I turn 38.     For a short period of time I was starting to make peace with the idea of having an only child.  Took comfort in thinking about all the things we could provide for Ethan as an only child that we might not be able to give to two children.  Relishing the idea of getting my body back for good and sleeping more at night than I have in almost four years.  I started to think I could really give up the dream of another child.  And then I held a friend's newborn and that peace slipped silently into the ether, replaced instead with a renewed sense of must. have. baby.  And so we shift our perspective and our boundaries again.  

So, two days after my 38th birthday I have an appointment with a new Reproductive Endocrinologist.   We shall see.  





Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mixed up in the Mommy Wars

When I was a little girl, dreaming of what life would be like some day as a mom, it never occurred to me that there would be other moms out there who thought less of me because of the choices I made.  Never thought for a second that I could get a shifty side-ways glance from another woman when I pulled out a bottle to feed my child in the middle of a crowded mall.  Never imagined that I would be glared at by countless other women, mothers or not, for sitting down in a corner of a bookstore to nurse my child.   Didn't count on people "pppffft"'ing me when I explained that I simply couldn't listen to my baby scream for hours to teach him how to sleep.  

I also never realized I would feel strongly enough about some of my own choices to feel some element of judgment towards mothers who made different choices.  I can own that now.  Far less now, but as a new mother, I clung to my own decisions as, to some extent, the "right" ones.  I tried (with the exception of as a message board participant) to keep my judgments at bay, but I identified myself with my own choices and that identification, and the passion with which I clung to it, is, for better or worse, what has made me the mother I am today.  So I'm okay with that because as much of a challenge as this third year has been, I feel like the choices Husband and I have made up to this point have been the right ones for our family.  That shift is important--what is "right" versus what is "right for us".  

One facet of the Mommy Wars that I'd never experienced before, though, barged its way into my life when I was living in Los Angeles.  The battle that wages, I think needlessly, between moms who work and moms to stay home.  

Sure, I'd had a few of my working friend moms say things that got under my skin.  A friend, at the time pregnant with her first child, asked me of being a stay at home mom, when Ethan was barely 3 months old and I was (albeit secretly) in the throes of postpartum depression, "So, how do you like being a lady of leisure?!"  Guh.  The image of me lounging on the couch, popping bon-bons and perusing Amazon.com until my husband's credit card smoked, all while wiggling my toes for an on-call pedicurist didn't quite jive with the reality of me haggard, exhausted, unbathed, bouncing a colicky infant around the house from morning 'til night, crying myself to "sleep" (and by sleep I mean the 45 minute stretches of cat-naps I was allowed for the first year of Ethan's life) and wondering what I had done in a past life to deserve this and what I had done to mess up my present life so badly.  

I also had a friend, expecting a child around the time Ethan was 6 months old, who planned to go back to work fairly soon after delivery and asked me that since I "just stayed home with Ethan anyway," if I could watch her child, too, until she was old enough for daycare.  Because what every mother of a high-needs 6 month old needs is another person's newborn in the mix to really give her something to do with her day.  

Now, don't get me wrong--I LOVE these women.  They are two of my sweetest and most wonderful friends and I think of those words now with a giggle.  They didn't have kids when they said those things, they didn't know.  And honestly, that woman's baby was so sweet-natured and calm as a newborn, taking care of her might have actually gone a long way to calm my nerves that were so badly shot from dealing with Hell On Wheels E.   

And though they said those things (and I am certain that unwittingly said things that perhaps rubbed them the wrong way, too), and went back to work after having their kids, while I stayed home, I never for a second felt judged by them nor did I judge them.   There are personality traits and extraneous circumstances that make work either a joy or a necessity (or a bit of both) for moms who go back to work.  It's not about who places a higher value on being a mother.  At the end of the day, it's about what works for each family, each mother.  In my life on the East Coast, I was able to maintain friendships with moms who were, for whatever reason, at home with their kid(s) and with moms who were, for whatever reason, working.   I've never understood why this had to be an issue at all.  Ever. 

Until I moved to Los Angeles.  I made fast friends with a woman who was at the time, staying home with her little girl.  We became part of a group of friends, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I felt as though I'd met someone I could be friends with forever.  Her laugh was infectious and her enthusiasm for life and our friendship truly kept me afloat in the early months of living in LA, when I was struggling to get my emotional feet on the ground.   She made me tea on Friday afternoons while our kids played in her adorable cottage house, only a mile from mine.  She watched Ethan for me during those months when I was undergoing acupuncture for the wonky uterus.  She gave hugs both coming and going, and they were real hugs that made you feel connected, not just the cursory tap on the back that really don't mean anything. 

And then, everything changed.  At a regular Monday play date at one of our mutual friend's house, words spilled forth from her that made us all wince and wonder, "What?  What is going on here?"  Comments about how we were stay at home moms so we didn't need to care as much about where our kids went to preschool as she did.  She left in a rush, popping her little one's shoes on and walking out the door, claiming some appointment or other, and Ethan never saw his little friend again.  I only saw mine once.

After a short series of emails, I learned that she was trying to find a job, her mind was in a different place from me and our other friends, she didn't have the luxury of play dates or socializing with us.  I wished her luck on her job search, hoped she found a job she loved quickly and hoped to see her again soon.  I was confused because I'd never had a working mom friend...well, dump me.  I respected her need to find a job, it was a need for her on a number of levels and I understood and respected them all.   But I didn't understand, and I still don't, why going back to work meant that she could no longer be friends with me.  She made it clear that this search was going to dominate her life in a way that excluded even the most speedily chugged cup of tea once every few weeks.  So I accepted that.  And then, over time, I went about making peace with the fact that I never saw her again.  

Except for the one time I did see her again.  It was the night before I left LA.  She'd started her new job, one she fought hard for and was busting with enthusiasm over.  I was proud of her for accomplishing such a huge goal of hers and looked forward to hearing about it.  And somewhere in the back of my head, I was hopeful that something like, "I'm so sorry you're moving away and that I didn't make more time for our friendship when you lived here."  In spite of months of no contact and my mending hurt feelings, I still hoped that there would be some clearer explanation or expression of sadness on her part.  She emailed me often the week leading up to my departure, asking if we could get together, so I knew she wanted to see me; wanted to share something with me.  I just didn't know what. 

We met in the hotel lobby bar and ordered wine.  Made some giggly small talk and I felt momentarily so at ease, having my friend back.   We talked about her new position, the responsibility, the accomplishment of having made the cut.   As the evening went on, I realized there was no expectation of a contribution to the discussion from me.  She wanted to tell me all about how wonderful her new life was, the one she'd gotten because she'd chosen to dump me, well, us. 

At one point she thanked me for my understanding way back in February.  She thanked me for understanding that she needed more from her life than making big dinners, taking care of her husband and shopping.  She told me she had never been the type of woman to be part of a group who talked shit and gossiped about each other (um, we don't).   She told me she was so grateful I understood that she wasn't like me, she didn't have the luxury to spend her days playing with her kid and did I mention, shopping?

I sat across the brown crushed-velvet couch from her, my head reeling.  She hadn't wanted to see me to make amends or extend an olive branch or to say she wished we'd gotten to be closer friends.  She'd wanted to see me to brag about her new job and in order to take one last jab at all the things, or the very ideas of the things, she'd left behind when she went back to work.  All the things she thought I was.  A shallow, gossiping hen who spent her husband's money and mindlessly coo'ed at her child all day long.  

A smiled a tight smile through most of the evening, saying very little, but was grateful when Husband texted me that he was stuck in the room with a snoring Ethan and was thirsty--could I please bring him some ice water from the bar.  

In the end, this woman and I hugged, but it wasn't one of her old hugs; it was a cursory "I guess we have to do this, huh?" hug and then she clip-clopped in her heels out of the hotel while I flip-flopped my way to the elevator.   Even if we weren't departing the next day for our new home up north, I knew I'd never see her again.  

The next day, I noticed she was gone from my Facebook friends list; she'd removed my from her friends list.  And still, in spite of how mind-numbingly offensive her comments had been back in February and the night before, I still felt sad.  After some time I've realized that my sadness is about the ideal rather than the person.  True, I adored her when we were close, and I was sad when we weren't any longer.  

But the most upsetting element of this is the image of the stay at home mom that informed the entire experience.  And I know that there are working moms who have felt equally shunned and disparaged by moms who stay home.  It makes me so sad that people feel like lines have to be drawn and value-judgments have to be made and that like can only interact with like.  If that's the truth, then that means I have lost an entire population of dynamic and interesting women as potential friends.   

You know I rarely talk about people in my life outside of my own nuclear family.  And I try to never tell a story that will hurt anyone's feelings.  I don't tell this story as a way to anger her or  hurt her feelings now, if by some chance she should happen to read it.  I miss her.  I'm saddened by what happened to our friendship and wish it had been different.  At the same time, the experience has weighed heavily on my mind in the past few months and especially the past couple of weeks, and I felt the need to write about it, get out in writing in front of me and ask others in their comments, not to pass judgment or say negative things about this particular person (or me, pretty please!) but to chime in on how the Mommy Wars have impacted you in your experience as a mom, be that working mom, stay at home mom, nursing mom, formula feeding mom, cosleeping mom, sleep-training mom and any of the other issues that tend to leave us standing on opposite sides of a line, ideals drawn like guns, to protect our points of view. 

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mt. Laundry...

My mom adores doing laundry.  It seems to revitalize her sense of purpose to go through the house and gather up lights and darks and get the machine humming.  I tease her for this when she comes to visit me and goes about washing every last stitch of clothing and linens we own.  By the time she's done, there is NO room left in a closet or drawer for one last sock or face cloth.  I tell her that we in the Forty-Five Degrees house maintain a delicate balance between clean and dirty clothes in order to have room in our bureaus and closets.  After mom leaves, I have to resort to re-organizing everything into compact double-folded piles in order to make everything fit.  It really cuts into my blogging time.  

I joke that so much of who I am as a domestic engineer is a direct rebellion against the tidiness of my mother.  I love her for her ability to look at housework as a daily "must" to be attacked with gusto as opposed to an arch-nemesis deserving of scorn and avoidance.  When Ethan started all-morning preschool last summer, I took a deep breath (or a million) and decided that if nothing else, our laundry was going to be done in a much more timely fashion than had been my habit from....well, forever.  

And I actually did it.  It was a burden at first, but eventually, running through the house every other day and gathering up everything that needed to be cleaned became in and of itself so much easier than watching the pile amass to something that met me at eye-level and taunted me for the week until I held my breath and dove in because we were out of underwear, that I started doing laundry 2-3 times a week.  Loads got smaller (and by smaller I mean I didn't need to do 4 loads of dark to get through them all or wish I had some sort of crow-bar and pulley system to get wet clothes out of the washer) and putting clothes away didn't mean an hour of mindless folding while incessantly asking Ethan to "please leave the clothes alone or mommy's going to run screaming from the house." 

The routine was working for us.  And I was feeling good about it.  Sure, every other aspect of my house continued to suffer from my lingering adolescent sense of rebellion against the cleaning practices of my youth.  When my mother came out to help me pack, even though there was no laundry for her to do except her own, it still took her a good long time to get the kitchen "really clean" as opposed to just my "it's not a germy cesspool" version of clean.  When my mom cleans, you could eat sushi grade tuna off of our kitchen floor and feel good about it.   But anyway, the laundry was going well. 

And then we hit a week before the move.  I was good at first and made sure that every single item of clothing we had was clean before packing it.  I packed three suitcases of clean clothes--one for Husband, one for me and one for Ethan.  The rest of our clean clothes went into Space Bags.  I bought some of those new giant Glad bag and labeled one: Dirty Laundry.  The Space Bags got packed in the moving truck and the suitcases and Dirty Laundry bag piled into our car for our road trip.  What an awesome system.  The idea was that when we got up to SunnyHappyTown  I'd have one big bag of laundry to sort, clean and put away with the rest of our stuff. 

So, I started that about a week before we left and we've now been here a week.  I haven't done laundry yet.  The giant Glad bag of dirty laundry?  Oh, it's full. And our bedroom floor?  Completely covered.  Ethan's room?  Oh yeah, that too.  I am suddenly thrust back months into the past, staring at that damn mountain of dirty clothes. 

I'm not sure what my issue is--sure I was stuck on the couch with the toe-of-death for a week, but that didn't keep me from unpacking a good number of boxes, hobbling from one place to another, taking long rests in between while the throbbing stopped.  It didn't stop me this weekend from making a trip to Target to buy Pull-Ups (oh, and a couple of cheap fall shirts because, hello, I don't have any clean clothes!).  So I really have no excuse.  I keep telling myself that as soon as I unpack the box with the laundry detergent in it, I will open up a can of whoop-ass on the pile of clothes (I know that phrase is outdated, but I will never stop loving the can of whoop-ass).  

But again, I've been to Target.  Where they sell, you know, laundry detergent.  Which would have cost me less to buy than the couple of cheap fall shirts.  But I opted for the shirts (duh) and Mount McWrinkle remains the menace of my bedroom. 

I do have to say, it is a testament to my former lazy-laundry ways that both Husband and I have yet to run out of underwear.  I do believe we've each got at least another week's supply.  I might have to pick a shirt out of the middle of the pile, give it a whiff and then let it hang in the bathroom while the steam from my shower unwrinkles it, but damnit, my underwear is clean.   So mom would be proud of that, at least, right?  Especially if I were to be in an accident.

So fine.  Now that I've admitted this relatively gross and off-putting tidbit about myself, you know that today on the way home from preschool we're going to have to stop at Target so I can actually buy some detergent, go home and do laundry.  And once I do that, I will of course, find the box in the garage that has our laundry detergent in it.  

Bring it. 

Friday, October 02, 2009

The House that Gross Built...

Things happen in 3's right?  That makes our little clan the perfect target for those phenomenon of crappiness. 

You already know about my toe.  It got even better as the week went on (not) and I found myself yesterday afternoon sitting in the office of a podiatrist, we'll call him Dr. Footsie McSunshine. He pulled the dressing off my toe, made a face and said, "Ugh, what did they do to you in Urgent Care??" (ever so reassuring, let me tell you) and emitted a heavy sigh.   For the first time ever sitting in a doctor's chair, I heard the phrase, "I've got some good news for you and some not so good news."   Ugh.  I knew what he was going to say. "Good news is I can make it better.  Bad news is you're going to have to say goodbye to that nail."  

The nurses were good enough to take Ethan to their station and ply him with lollipops and crayons and coloring books full of Mater and Lightening McQueen, but not before the podiatrist Dr. Footsie McSunshine sprayed that icy numbing stuff all over my foot again and shot my big toe full of enough novocaine to drop a horse.  So that sucked, but at least he didn't light the room (or me) on fire like the clown in urgent care.   When the nurse came in with a surgical kit wrapped in blue linens, aside from having c-section flashbacks, I insisted that Ethan be able to leave the room because I was either going to A.) puke B.) pass out or C.) cry like a little baby, and I didn't need Ethan seeing any of that.  

I will spare you the rest of the details.  Suffice it to say that it was indeed painless until the novocain wore off.  I've got a month of epsom salt soaks in my future and some seriously gross toe transformations ahead.  It ain't pretty.  But I promise I won't show you.  

In the second facet of our trifecta, Ethan has been coughing all week.  Big nasty coughs that a doctor would call "productive", that make him sound like he's a giant walking ball o' sick, but aside from the cough, he's fine.  No fever, no runny nose, no nothing.  And the cough is very intermittent.  So that's good;  but he coughs at the most inopportune times.  Like when I'm on the phone with the director of his new preschool to find out when he can start.  After hear Ethan Phlegmenstein hacking up a lung in the background, she said, as though she were swabbing down her phone with antibacterial wash, "Perhaps you should wait until next week to bring him to school."   Oooookay.    

Or when we went to Starbucks to get breakfast, sat down at a table and he coughed once.  I reminded him to cover his mouth when he coughed, and in true pre-schooler form he then proceeded to fake cough about a half dozen times, covering his mouth to show mommy how well he can follow directions.  The tiny little lady in the comfy chair next to our table was not amused, and shot me a look as though I was responsible for bringing the plague down upon the yuppies in the coffee shop.   In her mind, I am sure if she gets sick any time in the next two weeks, it's because of that snot-nosed little toddler and his irresponsible mother bringing the scourge of the creeping crud into Starbucks that morning.  Sigh. 

And amazingly, though Ethan hasn't coughed in a couple of days and shows no sign of sickies anymore, Husband came home from work last night looking green-ish and shaky.  Enter the flu. Husband rarely gets sick, so when he does, his body goes all out.  There was shivering and sweating and going out for Nyquil and Tylenol (which we then realized he couldn't take together) and staying in bed all day today with a thermometer sticking out of his mouth.  

So there you have it; our first week in our new home.  The beginning of our next adventure.  Maimed foot mama, hacking preschooler and fluish Husband.  What a sad, sorry bunch.