Monday, June 28, 2010

One White Glove

Somehow in all of the chaos of April, I missed a very important event...

The death of Michael Jackson and Ada's subsequent tribute to the King of Pop.

On the way to cousin Viktor's baptism, Ada grabbed one of her white gloves as we were leaving the house and put it on. Random. Even more random since the match to the white glove went missing months ago.

Or was it random? As it turns out, the glove does sparkle a little bit, and it is white...
and this is her real interpretation, complete with most of her face covered by her hair.

Moral of the story: May the King of Pop rest in peace.

Saturday Night ER

As if I don't have enough drama in my life with a newborn and a 2.5 year old, Saturday night I found myself suffering from a mysterious chest pain. I thought maybe it was heartburn at first but it seemed to be getting worse and felt like an elephant sitting on my chest, right on my sternum. I sent Rick to the park with Ada and put Iain down for a nap while I rested for an hour. When I woke up, the pain was worse and it was time to call the doctor. I called Rick to come home and tried to call the answering services for both my family practice doctor and my OB and neither returned my call. After over two hours of pain, I decided to start calling in favors. My neighbor Jen came to watch Ada and we left for the ER at 7 pm. As soon as Rick walked into the ER with Iain, the nurse told him to leave since the ER is a cootie factory and no place for a newborn. So, I called in another favor and our friends Aaron and Cassie came up to sit outside with Iain while Rick bounced back and forth between my room and him, waiting for him to get hungry so I could nurse.

The ER staff was great. My nurse's name was Ian --always a good sign. They ran several tests: an EKG, chest X-Ray, blood tests, and finally gave me a CT scan to rule out anything serious. In between tests, Rick was able to bring Iain into my private room for a nursing session. And before they took me for the CT scan they explained that the "contrast" dye they'd inject me with would require that I pump and dump my breastmilk for 24 hours. As if I wasn't stressed out enough in life, now they just added a few more things to the list. Thankfully, I delivered at St Joseph and knew the Labor and Delivery floor would have samples of formula, bottles, and extra newborn diapers--all supplies we didn't have on hand since we were kind of in a hurry when we left for the emergency room, hence the word "emergency". As expected, I asked and they provided. At least I'll have a souvenir from my visit, albeit in the form of used baby formula bottles and dirty newborn diapers.

All of the tests came back negative. I was then given a shot of high powered Motrin. They had me wait half an hour for it to kick in and then sent me home--at midnight. I was diagnosed with some sort of muscular inflammation involving the joints around my sternum or my lungs or something in that area.

The sad part of all of this is that, in talking with my lactation consultant two days later, she said it sounded like a case of "Costochondritis" -an inflammation where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the sternum. I happened to have an appointment with my regular doctoress the same day for Iain's one week checkup and as soon as I said chest pain she said "Costochondritis". And then followed it with, "I'm sorry I wasn't on call. I would have been able to save you from the ER visit." That's nice to know but surely not going to make my ER bills any lower. Ug. Frustrating. I wish I could just get her cell number and promise not to stalk her. At least I know I'm healthy as a horse.

Moral of the story: Just because someone says "chest pain" doesn't always mean "freak out --it must be a heart attack".

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Labor and Delivery - Baby #2

For those of you who are into all the details, here goes...

Don't hate me.

It's not my fault that I have "easy" labor and delivery. I credit my genetics and healthy lifestyle.

And even though I say it was "easy", it was the hardest thing I've ever done.

The human body is an amazing thing. Shortly after having Ada, my mind wiped out all memories of the pain and all of the sucky part so that I don't remember delivery being nearly as bad as it was. I just remember I was able to handle it and I survived. I think, as Americans, we are influenced by so many movies and horror stories about labor and delivery that we really are uneducated when it comes to what actually happens and what we should expect. Hopefully, this little story will shed some light on how things could be, if you're lucky.

On Sunday morning, I woke up feeling funny. Not really sick, not really crampy, not really having contractions, but just knowing that this baby was getting ready. We went to breakfast and called our parents to put them on notice and have them start heading into the city so they would be here to watch Ada when the time came. I ate a light breakfast knowing that whatever I ate had a good probability of reappearing in the hospital in a manner I wouldn't be excited about.

Our parents planned to arrive that afternoon. Ada, Rick and I planned to take a walk around the block to get Ada to fall asleep. It turned into a two-hour walk that gave me a flip flop blister between my toes. Ouch. Really, I just kept walking in hopes that it would kick start my labor. We walked toward the hospital just in case my water broke mid-stride.

After the walk, I started having some really pathetic contractions. My mom arrived and the contractions continued. Rick's parents arrived and the contractions became measurable but still weak. At one point, they were four minutes apart but I was in no pain and knew they couldn't be doing much. Around four pm they stopped. Then they started up again but were eight minutes apart. I laid down to see if they would start up again. And I even took a shower knowing that it would be the only one I'd take for a day or two. The contractions eventually ramped back up to four minutes apart and we decided to go to the hospital to get checked out since my doctoress had said "come in when your contractions are ten minutes apart". I told her they started at 6 or 8 minutes apart with Ada so that never really happens for me, but I'd know when it was time. At about 7 pm, we arrived at the hospital and checked in. I didn't think I was ready to deliver but wanted to be checked out "just in case". The nurse checking us in thought I was going to be induced since I clearly wasn't in any pain. I was put into a triage room and asked all of the standard medical questions. A doctoress came to check me out and I was dilated to a two, maybe a three. She said she'd give me a few hours and come back to check how I was progressing. In the meantime, I read a book and Rick studied for his Architecture exams. Excitement in the triage room!

Around 9:30 the doctoress came back. I was dilated to four centimeters, but still not really feeling the contractions even if they were at four minutes apart. She asked how I was doing and I said, "I'm bored." Labor just wasn't progressing fast enough for me and I like to be efficient. She offered to speed things up by breaking my bag and giving me some medicine. I stopped her right there and explained that I wasn't in a hurry if breaking my bag meant starting the "he has to come out within the next 24 hours or we're going in to get him" clock and by "medicine" she meant pitocin. That's when the light bulb went on and she realized I wasn't kidding about doing this thing naturally. I just explained that I wasn't in a hurry and would like him to come on his own terms. I am an impatient person and Ada was a quick ramp up of powerful contractions with a fast delivery to top it off. She understood and then realized that it might be a good idea for me to go home for a few hours and come back when things got exciting. She consulted my doctoress, who explained that I am a rational, educated adult whom she trusts to have good judgement, and I live six blocks away from the hospital so sending me home would be the best course of action. Yes, I was in labor. Yes, the hospital sent me home.

At home, we got to rest, eat, and drink. My mom was on the couch, my in-laws were in our bed, and my good neighbor Kelly was out at a concert and staying with a friend so she offered us her place to relax in until it was time for the baby to make life exciting. After covering her couch with a waterproof mat and a towel, I laid down for a bit of rest. I ate a granola bar and drank some water, knowing both were likely to come up later. I just wanted to keep up my strength while not setting myself up for disaster as the night went on.

About two in the morning, my mom called us from fifty feet away--we were upstairs and across the hall--to say that Ada had a high fever. Great. Just what we needed. I'm in labor and my 2.5 year old is sick. Nice. We tried to give her medicine but it was crystallized so my mom and Rick's dad ended up walking to the store to get a new bottle of generic Tylenol since all of the children's Tylenol has been recalled. Ada refused to take the medicine and opted to sit on the couch and watch a movie instead. Rick and I retreated back to Kelly's for a bit more sleep before all of the excitement kicked in.

At three am, my contractions started to get more intense. We stopped by our place to tell them we were heading to the hospital and accidentally woke Ada up. She had just fallen asleep on the couch and threw quite the tantrum when we left. As we were getting into the car, we could hear her screams out the open window. Not the best way to head off to the hospital.

Just as luck would have it, as I was getting into the car I accidentally stepped down off the curb and landed my foot in a puddle of nasty water and soaked my shoe. Of course it was the foot I got the blister on so I was a little worried it would get infected. Thankfully, we were heading to a hospital...

Five minutes later, we arrived at the hospital. We parked in the parking garage and took the stairs -- another way of me trying to keep things moving, and I was avoiding the elevator since I had bad dreams involving elevators during my pregnancy. We checked back into the triage area and the doctoress examined me again. I had made it to a six and was indeed progressing nicely. They moved me to my own room and my contractions started to intensify. My whole body quickly started shaking from being so cold. I'm told that is a sign of the transition phase of labor and is a good thing. The nurse assigned to me just happened to be the woman who taught the birthing class we took before having Ada. It was so nice to have a friendly face helping us out, and it eased my mind knowing that she was a proponent of natural birth.

Things started to heat up and I was feeling the "urge to push". The doctoress checked me and I was dilated to a seven. A few more contractions and they checked me again. By this time, my contractions were quite strong. I wasn't able to talk during them or say much in between either. What little food was in my stomach decided it didn't need to be there anymore so I was really glad I hadn't had much to eat. I was kneeling on the mattress while leaning over the head of the bed since it had been raised to an upright position. The contractions were the most painful thing I've ever experienced. I'd try to let out a little yell but quickly refocused on trying to breath and rock my hips. The doctor came in to check me again and I was at an eight. I overheard her say to another doctor in the room that I didn't want to break my bag and I piped up to say at this point, I didn't care. If breaking the bag would move things along, then let's do it. There wasn't a fear at this point that breaking it would increase my risk of complications. They went to call my doctoress and get the utensil to break my bag. While they were gone, my nurse suggested that I try to let the bag break on it's own since that would be more natural way to do things. Breaking the bag would just intensify the contractions. That's really what I was hoping for so that I could speed up this process, move things along and get past the pain. About two more contractions came when I heard the click of street shoes in the hallway and assumed my doctoress had arrived. The doctors were conferencing in the hall when, all of a sudden I felt the urge to push. I told the nurse and magically, my bag of waters broke all on its own. The nurse shouted "Bag broke, strong urge to push" and immediately encouraged me to roll over so I could start pushing. Here I am thinking, "Really, I can push already? Sweet. I've got this. I'm having a baby." In the meantime, what sounded like five or six people swarmed into my room and commands were being shouted, gowns were being put on and people were taking their positions in preparation for me to have a baby.

At some point, there was a nurse's assistant touching my thigh during a contraction and I picked her hand up and moved it off my leg. She immediately apologized, having realized what she'd done. It seemed like a bitchy thing to do but I really didn't want her hand touching me and she just put it there absentmindedly, as if to say my being in labor was no big deal and this happens everyday. Well, maybe it does for them but I'm only doing this twice in my lifetime and her touching my thigh right then was not working for me.

Within seconds of rolling over to my back, they had my legs up on footpaddles for pushing. They explained how I needed to hold on to the outside of my thighs and pull them back as I pushed. I was to take in a big breath, hold it while bearing down and pushing the baby out toward the light over the doctoress' heads, all while tucking my chin. I couldn't get the rhythm right and kept putting my head back and breathing out all of the air like I had done for the other contractions. It took two contractions and about six pushes to figure out how to push correctly. Once I finally figured it out, they were quickly yelling "Push, push, push, push, push" and saying things like "I see a bald head." I think it took less than a dozen real pushes and he was slipping out of my body and magically landed on my chest all covered in goo, wrapped loosely in a towel. Awesome!

I made it. Ta da. I had a baby. That's when all of the warm fuzzy natural mommy drugs kicked in and the world became the happiest place on Earth.

Then it was time for them to do some stuff with the cord since we decided to donate the cord blood. That was annoying and time consuming but surely worth it in the end. Then I had to deal with the afterbirth and the doctoress' pushing on my stomach to get the uterus to contract and pass the placenta. Never a fun experience but okay since I had my new son on my chest.

And finally, the poking and prodding and numerous needle pricks that come with repairing a tear. I had a second degree tear with Ada and the same tear with Iain. It seems to take forever for them to sew it all up and numb the area and disinfect it and whatever else they do. At one point I was really tempted to ask, "Are you two yahoos almost done down there?" My patience for being messed with at that point in the process was non-existent. Did I mention I'm an impatient person?

Eventually they had me repaired and dressed in the fishnet disposable underwear that are beyond sexy and do a nice job holding in the ice pack and maxi pad. They weighed and cleaned the baby. Turns out that he and Ada both weighed 8.004 lbs. He was 21 inches long and she was only 20 inches. The sun was rising over the lake, a new day was just getting started, and it was time for me to cuddle up with my new munchkin and take a nap.

All said and done, it was a great experience and much easier than it could have been, and easier than I expected, but also so much harder than I remembered. I felt a bit traumatized afterwards and tended to get a bit bent out of shape when everyone kept saying "So we'll see you back here next year for your third?" or any comments regarding having more children. I made sure to ask my doctoress if it was her I needed to see about "closing down the factory for good" and she said we'd talk at my six week checkup. I think I'm more sensitive to the thought of having more kids since this pregnancy was so much harder than it was with Ada. They don't tell you that each consecutive pregnancy gets harder because 1)you're older 2)you're body is already stretched out and will stretch further and faster each time 3)you have a kid(s) to chase after and take care of while you are incubating the one in your womb and 4)that kid wants you to pick them up and do everything you've always done with them and might be quite adamant that you keep up.

Moral of the story: Labor and delivery stories aren't all bad. A lot of it is genetics. A lot of it is mental preparation, focus and controlled breathing. The rest is knowing what you can handle and what your options are. It isn't something to be taken lightly.

Introducing Iain Kerr

Early Monday morning June 21st, at 6:11 to be exact, Iain Kerr joined our family to make us a foursome. At 8 lbs, and 21 inches long, the first thing he did outside the womb was pee on the doctoress who delivered him. Sorry about that Doc.
So far, so good. His name, Iain, is the Scottish version of Ian, pronounced E-an, and is a derivative of John. Labor and Delivery went well. I got through it without the help of any drugs or intervention, which, now that it's still fresh in my mind, was no easy feat. Natural birth isn't for everyone.

Dad likes him. Ada seems to be taking a liking to him. I'm thrilled to be done with pregnancy, childbirth, and maternity clothes. I'm excited to be able to enjoy my children and start the next phase of our lives together as a family. I have a feeling it is going to be a fun trip.

Moral of the story: Bringing home a baby is an adjustment with many good memories to be made.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Firetruck Tour

A few weeks ago, Ada got to tour a firetruck. I wasn't prepared for this little outing so I didn't have my camera, but I did have my cell phone camera so this is what I got. It was a fire safety program put on at the local Border's book store and it ended with a chance to check out the truck. Here she is in the passenger seat.There were a ton of kids at the event and we were some of the last ones to get to tour the truck before they got a call they needed to respond too. I've never seen kids more upset than I did that day when the last few kids in line didn't get to tour the truck. I'm not sure if their parents or nannies really built up the event or what happened but their screams were heart wrenching. It made me feel bad since they weren't really pushing us through the tour very quickly. I was expecting Ada to jump in the truck, take a look around, and then jump back out. Instead, they loaded her in the back, then helped me and my big belly in. We sat down, asked some questions, hung out. Then our friend Elizabeth got in with her son Luke and our friend Sara's son Aaron. Then we got out and went to check out the hoses on the back of the truck. We posed for a few pictures and they got the call to leave with about a dozen kids still waiting on the sidewalk for their turn. We surely didn't need that much time in the truck and I didn't realize there were still so many kids behind us in line or we would have moved through more quickly. But I was really thankful that we got to tour the truck and that our kids enjoyed it -- and that I still fit in the back seat at 9 months pregnant.
As it turns out, the City of Chicago has a fire prevention program and the firemen do this a lot--for schools, block parties, special events, etc. They also invited us to stop by the firehouse anytime for another tour or to hang out. I think that's a better way to go when you've got little kids who aren't the best at waiting in line. Especially if they are really into fire trucks and firemen. I think some parents/nannies made the mistake of hyping up the event and then their kids were devastated when the turnout was so great that the fire department ran out of plastic fireman's hats and we had to break into three sections to do the tours and wait our turn. It was chaotic to say the least.

As always, I'm thankful that Ada was able to wait patiently and didn't spaz out when it was time to leave. We are so lucky to have such a laid back and easy going little girl. As I write that, she is yelling for her father to attend to her in the other room in a tone of voice that is impatient, insistent, and bordering on urgent. It's lunchtime and he isn't moving fast enough. You win some, you lose some.

Moral of the story: You can't control what happens in life, especially at big public events. If you know your child is really set on doing something specific at the event, be sure to explain what could go wrong and how they can prepare for that reality before you go. We don't always get what we want in life and that's a tough pill to swallow.

Little Blonde Braids

This past week, I had to take Ada into an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist to make sure all is well and that her adenoids aren't the cause of the cough that causes her to throw up. When I picked her up from day care to go to our appointment, she had the cutest french braids in her hair.

Normally, this wouldn't really be noteworthy but... I have to pin her down and listen to her scream and push me away if I even try to brush her hair--which I've given up on completely--let alone put it up for her. Then the day care ladies go and do this. So I had to ask, what is their secret? Do they torture her? Or are they secretly bribing her with something really awesome that I don't know about?

As it turns out, Ms. Ana did this while Ada was eating breakfast. That's all it took. Just a little bit of a distraction. I've tried combing it while she is watching a movie, or otherwise occupied, with little luck. I think it's a thing against moms. Kids tend to not want their moms to do their hair, but anyone else can. At least that's been my experience. I will say she doesn't let Rick comb it often either so it isn't all me.

The interesting part of all of this is that, when I woke up the morning this all happened, I had had a dream that my mom cut Ada's hair really short into an awful style that was beyond bad--not bad for some kids but not an acceptable style for my child by any means -- and I was so upset that I woke up from the dream and had to calm myself down. I warned my mother when Ada was first born (in real life mind you) that if she ever went near my child with scissors or enlisted anyone else to do so, all her rights and her title of grandmother would be immediately and permanently revoked. I think she understands that I'm not kidding when I say this because I frequently remind her just how much I hated every haircut I had as a kid past about age 3. The wedge, the feathered look, the poofy bangs -- some of these were popular trends at the time so I give her the benefit of the doubt and only blame her for the majority of them, not all of them. But when I wanted a perm so I'd have body and curl like the models, she didn't advise me against it and I ended up looking like a poodle. And not a cute poodle. More like an old poodle with bald spots and a cone around his neck. BAD. The red wire-rimmed glasses surely didn't help matters.

And it wasn't like she took me to hair "stylists" either. She took me to get my hair cut. There was no real "style" involved. There is a reason I travel 45 minutes to get my hair cut from a friend, in her basement now after she's been at two previous locations, and have been doing so for nine years. She trained under people who learned from Mario Trococi. She understands how to work with really thick hair. She gets me. My hair looks good a few months after I cut it because she understands how it will grow out. And she doesn't encourage me to dye my hair or highlight it or low light it because that's the cool thing to do. She knows that isn't me and I won't maintain it and I'll end up looking like a rat. She's a stylist and an advisor, guiding me to make decisions that protect me from the snarls and dirty, catty looks of other women -- which I still get for my poor sense of fashion, but at least it's minimized a bit and more manageable.

At 31 years old, my mother's influence on my style still haunts me. The emotional scars I have from being far from "cool" growing up are one thing I have no intention of inflicting upon my child. I pledge to protect her from mullet haircuts, mohawks, bad dye jobs, split ends, unhealthy hair, ill-fitting clothing, bangs that start back way further than they should, and fashion decisions that just aren't flattering. That doesn't mean I'll buy her designer stuff or go out of my way to spare no expense on her sense of style. It just means I plan to make a conscious effort to make sure that she has the foundation to make good style decisions on her own when the time comes. And I'll consult and confer with the appropriate professionals as needed. Until then, I'll make style decisions for her that enhance her cuteness and reduce her dork factor. That's my duty as her mother.

No offense mom, but I was a mega dork. I know you did your best and your heart was in the right place. The fashion fairies just weren't with you as I was growing up. I still love you anyway.

Moral of the story: As a parent, you have a great influence on your child's fashion sense and style. Be sure to wield that power with the utmost care and caution.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Waiting Game

Will he come today? Tonight? Tomorrow? The next day? The day after that? Next week? Two weeks from now?

If only I knew...but I don't.

Waiting for baby to decide it's time to enter this world is a bit crazy. I don't think he's ready quite yet. I know I'm not ready quite yet either. Rick looked at me just last night and said, "We should probably pack a bag for you, huh." I just rolled my eyes and shrugged my shoulders. What do we really need to take? Last time we had music and movies and clothes (for me and baby) and hot packs and books and all sorts of stuff. All we really wanted was snacks. The hospital had everything else and anything they didn't have, Rick or one of our three relatives in the waiting area could walk home six blocks to get. We did watch a movie the second night. And I might have read a book. But most of it went untouched.

The car seat is already in the car, as is the cord blood donation kit. I'll have my cell phone, as always--maybe an extra cell phone charger would be wise.

I've been advised by friends who just had their second to take:
  • The video camera - for when we introduce Baby Boy to Ada. Her reaction could be something to laugh about at her wedding someday.
  • The Boppy - for nursing or propping the baby up when Ada does meet him.
  • The camera - hello. Extra battery and memory card just in case maybe.

Surely I'll need yoga pants and a shirt to go home in. My house sandals that are goo-proof will be good for shuffling around the hospital room, and some socks in case my feet get cold. Being the crafty woman that I am, I hope to tuck away my current knitting project and whatever book I happen to be reading. I can only sleep so much and Rick will likely be busy going back and forth between the grandparents at our house with Ada, and the hospital room with me and BB. I might take an Ipod just in case. I considered taking Motrin and Tylenol this time since last time I think they billed me about $500 for pain killers when they were just over the counter drugs. But maybe they are higher doses or have codine -- ah, codine. My insurance is different this time too so maybe it won't be so bad.

I guess some clothes for the baby to come home in would be good too. We had a dozen outfits for Ada and in the end, we estimated way too big so that none of them fit and I have no idea what she wore home. I will try to pack those cute little hand mitts so he doesn't scratch himself (or me) while nursing.

At least I have things to think about while I wait for him to come. I can't say we are "ready" for him but we aren't "not ready" either. To get ready, Rick pulls out the pack and play, assembles the bassinet and we wash a load of baby clothes. I'm hoping to get to the baby clothes tonight or tomorrow, or even sometime later this week. And I'm not sure Ada will ever be ready or that we can prep her for any of it. We'll just wing it and hope for the best.

Moral of the story: Most babies come when the are ready. All you can do is try to be ready for them when they do, incubate and RELAX.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Compact Update

Thanks to my sponsors, I have no need to buy anything. Between Rick, my mom and his mom, this is just too easy. Not to mention all of the friends who have loaned me maternity clothing.

Rick bought me a hanging basket to store all of the fruits and veggies I now buy. I helped him pick it out at World Market for about $8. He got the hardware and installed it next to the sink. So sweet of him.

Grandmas DD and Ba have collectively spoiled all of us. Knowing they are going to buy stuff for Ada one way or another, I’ve given in and started making suggestions like, “Ada could use a pair of Crocs for the Summer” and shortly thereafter, a pair of Crocs in her size magically appear…along with clothes and stuff for BB and snacks and goodies. I can’t control what they buy but I can try to point them in the right direction and keep saying “less is more”. My new catchphrase is “Just because it’s only a dollar, of a few dollars, doesn’t mean you should buy it.” That isn’t justification of a “need”. That is marketing. It’s a sales trap you can easily avoid.

But I will say that the Grandmas are doing much better –or at least they have learned to pile it all on me at one time instead of trickling little things our way constantly- which has been proven to appear to be less even if it is the same amount. Maybe they are just reserving the flood of goodies for a future baby shower…

Barb has cut back on stuff she gets Ada and uses that excuse to buy us bigger items that we “need” for special events like our anniversary. She bought us a new air conditioner for our 8 year wedding anniversary, which is now fully functional and works really well. (Thanks for that!) And our very own pre-loved double stroller that counts as her baby shower gift. We tested it out this weekend and it worked beautifully. I’ll start being concerned when she starts making up special events like “It’s a full moon so I just had to get you this…” Until then, I’m proud.

DD is still buying more stuff for her granddaughters than I even imagined, but she is also getting more hand me downs and bringing things that she has duplicates of at the house. She’s also receptive when I tell her we don’t need things or won’t use them and she’s willing to pass them on to someone who will so they don’t clutter my house.

I am feeling slightly guilty for requesting a baby pool for Ada from DD and Bobpa. But it is something she will really enjoy. I could just turn the hose on her but I’m thinking that will use more water than a pool and therefore be worse for the environment and the compact. Until then, we’ll share kiddie pools with our little buddy Hudson down the street.

Two things that worry me this month are baby showers and my birthday. Not that I’ll buy things for the baby showers, but that even though I’ve requested that a bunch of friends just go to brunch to celebrate with no gifts needed, I’m sure they can’t all resist an opportunity to shop for cute baby things. I get that. I’m just hopeful that the things are more thoughtful and make less of an impact on the world in some way, or are durable enough for me to pass on at some point.

My birthday is the real issue as I have three coupons on my desk that are just taunting me: Banana Republic $15, Victoria’s Secret $10, and DSW Shoe Warehouse $5. I don’t know if I should give them away, ask Rick if he wants to use them (to buy me gifts? That just isn’t right.) or recycle them. I hate seeing good coupons go bad though. That just seems wrong.

Oh, and the sneak attack…Father’s Day is coming up and, surely we can make Rick a card and cook him something nice, but I found this pair of earphones that would be more comfortable for him to wear since he spends a lot of time with his I pod. Tempting, but he doesn’t need them. I’ll hang on to the name of them and we can make that purchase when his others die or he can treat himself at some point.

Moral of the story: 5 months have passed and I really don’t miss buying things or the act of shopping.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do you know what you're having?

An interesting conversation came up at my book club the other night regarding the sex of your baby. Even though we live in America and women's rights have come a long way in the past hundred years, people in general tend to have a more positive reaction when you announce you are having a baby boy than a baby girl. It almost feels like we're in China and just screwed the whole family out of a male heir when we announce it's a girl. Clearly not to the same extent, but there are some people who still feel that way and aren't afraid to say so.

Alone, we might not have ever realized how differently people react to the sex of your baby, but once we sat down and shared our experiences it was pretty clear. Now that I am having a boy, I'm getting a lot of comments about how we can be finished now that we have one of each. Everyone is so happy for us to have the perfect pair --a boy and a girl. Like that is the ideal and everybody's dream for their family. But is it?

Another mom in book club just had a second baby girl. Someone actually told her they were sorry to hear that she was having another girl. Here I am thinking about how fun it would be for Ada to have a little sister that she could be close to and then I hear about someone apologizing to this mom for having a second girl. Seriously? What happened to just congratulating the mom on having a baby and hoping it's healthy?

I'm guilty of making comments like, "Wow, that's a lot of testosterone for one house." when I meet a mom with three boys. Not because I don't like little boys but because I think women tend to have it easier when the have a little girl to balance out the chaos and energy that tends to come with boys (read: little devils). It's stereotyping, I know. I admit it. But I'm not about to go telling someone that I'm sorry they didn't get a boy out of the deal. That's crap.

I'm really amazed at how excited everyone is for me to have a baby boy. And even more so because I have a little girl. The checkout woman at the grocery store was so excited and congratulated me profusely. An elderly man at the pharmacy congratulated me and then suggested it was time to "shut down the factory" since "babies are expensive". It's the American dream and I don't even know how lucky I am, apparently. Now I have someone to carry on the family name. I've never even thought of it that way. I'm just thankful to be able to have kids.

With Ada, I found a lot of people asked me what sex I wanted. It didn't really matter to me but I thought she was a boy. When we found out she was a girl, I had to mentally transition to having a girl. Then with BB, I though he was a girl and was excited that Ada might get a little sister since the idea of a sister appeals to me since I had a brother and the grass is always greener on the other side(sharing clothes, having that sister bond). Since he's a boy, I'm excited and nervous at the same time. I'm really just hoping he is as easy as she was even though I doubt we can be that lucky.

And then there is the whole debate of "if he was a little girl, would you have a third to try for a boy?" I'm not sure how I feel about this logic. I think a lot of parents use the fact that they want one of each sex to determine how many kids they have up to a certain point and then they give up. I can honestly say I don't think it would have encouraged me to have a third child, but I can see how it might for some people. It's just interesting to me to think about how the sex of your baby can have so much influence on if you have another or how the success of a pregnancy is perceived. You can always want a girl, but be happy if you get a boy, and vice versa. I can't imagine that some people aren't happy if they get the opposite of what they wanted. My mom taught me to be happy with either as long as they were healthy. I think that is some solid advice.

Moral of the story: Be prepared for a wide range of reactions when announcing the sex of your baby. You never know what some people will say.

Memorial Four-Day Weekend

Day 1 - Friday we went to the Shedd Aquarium to test out our new membership card. Ada immediately fell in love and was amazed by it all. The new baby beluga is pretty cool and Ada got really close to penguins and dolphins, among a million other underwater creatures. We decided an hour-and-a-half is the perfect amount of time to see what we can and get out before she gets hungry, tired, or just plain cranky--or I do. We'll have to schedule a special time to go see the water show and the 4-D movie feature, but that's why we have a membership.

Then it was out to LaGrange in traffic for a double stroller I found on Craig's List. It was a pain to get out there and back since traffic is always bad the Friday before a holiday weekend, but it was worth it to get that checked off the list. We had to be back in the city by four to see the Doctoress. I had hoped Ada would get a nap in while we were on our way out to get the stroller, but I was clearly mistaken. She finally fell asleep when we were twenty minutes from the Doctoress' office. At least she got some rest.

The Doctoress gave Ada Flownase thinking she might have seasonal allergies that are triggering her asthma. We had her blood drawn to test for allergies so we can avoid any triggers and stop assuming she's allergic to everything. (We found out today that she isn't allergic to anything they tested her for--mainly cats/dogs and seasonal allergies--which is good, but not aligning with her current diagnosis.) It turns out that we have a very rare child. She doesn't cry when you draw her blood or give her most shots, and she let's the Doctoress check her ears and nose without putting up a fight. She's just amazed by it all--causing great shock to all of the nurses. I think it helped that the nurse drawing her blood was awesome. She was calm, soft spoken, and friendly. She came in and asked for a happy vein. Then she asked if Ada would feed her "butterfly"--the needle has two blue "wings" to help her hold it in place. Ada was great and sat perfectly still while the butterfly snacked on her arm. I'll admit it was a moment of pure pride for Rick and I to watch our little rockstar in action.

We rounded out the day with dinner at a new, local burger bar that is environmentally friendly and offers grass-fed beef. I had my first veggie burger and it was delicious. All in all, not a bad start to the weekend.

Day 2 - Saturday didn't go so well. It started early when I smelled a gas leak in the basement as I was doing laundry and getting flower pots from the basement. The gas company found 3 leaks in the main line pipe and shut our building down completely until we got it fixed. That meant no hot water, and no cooking gas. Our building manager scrambled to get emergency pipe fitters to come fix it. She found some, they charged us time and a half and by 8 pm we had hot water. Still no cooking gas--that didn't come back until Tuesday morning (3 days later) when they could inspect each unit in our building to be sure the stoves were working properly. I spent a lot of the weekend getting in touch with our neighbors, who were mostly out of town, to try to get spare keys to allow us in to inspect their units, and to keep them informed of the situation. Not fun, but at least the building didn't blow up.

Before we knew the extent of the gas leak, Rick and I got to sneak out for BB's 36 week ultrasound. He's in position with his head down, just as the Doctoress thought, and all looks good. They think he's 7 lbs at this point, but who knows how accurate that is. And he's still growing so if we get to 8 lbs, I can handle that. It was nice to get the ultrasound out of the way early in the weekend as that always makes me a little bit anxious in case they see something and rush me off for more testing or something even more dramatic like you see on TV. No drama for this momma.

To make things interesting, this was a home improvement weekend. Grandma Ba was in charge of planting flowers in the pots on the porch with Ada while Rick and his dad were going to replace the air conditioner over the back door. When I think air conditioner replacement, I think "Pull out the old, put in the new, plug it in and turn it on." Easy, right? No. That is clearly not how this works. "Pull out the old one" took the majority of the day since we enlisted an Architect and an Engineer and they just don't jump into anything without figuring out how it works first. I respect that. But I sure didn't have the patience for it. They worked on that while Ada was entertained by her Great Granny, Great Aunt Terri and Grandma Ba, who all came in to cook out and enjoy a Memorial Day BBQ. Good thing they brought the food and we were able to grill because the stove wasn't going to do us any good. Grandma Ba and Ada had much more success with their plants and the addition of an herb garden to the baskets on our porch railing. Ada even has her own mini garden that is already starting to sprout. Now I just have to remember to water it all.

Day 3 - Sunday started with my imagined hope that the air conditioner project would magically become fast and easy, and ended with a reality check that we really should have just paid someone else to do it so Rick could have enjoyed some time off and we could have spent some quality family time together. Hindsight is 20/20. He ended up spending the day re-framing the space above the back door to hold the new, bigger, and surely better since the other one didn't work at all, air conditioning unit. I spent the morning making pancakes on the electric griddle and being thankful for having a microwave when the stove has no gas.

Sunday's high note was a BBQ with friends down the street. I gave Ada a bath right before we went since she was covered in dirt from playing on the porch and in the parking lot behind our place. I knew they would have a baby pool out at the BBQ but I wasn't sure how Ada would react and we were already running late so I opted for a dress and regular diaper instead of a swimsuit and swim diaper. At least I was thinking and had her wear water friendly Crocs instead of fancy shoes. In my defense, it took her a good hour to decide she wanted to get into the pool and when she did, there was no hesitation and little warning that she was going "all in". Now I know what diapers look like when they get dunked. Wow. Thankfully I had a change of clothes and extra diapers on hand. After finding a stopping point and cleaning up a bit, Rick arrived in time to clean up the leftovers and have a couple, much deserved, beers.

Day 4 - Monday's plans all went down the drain. Rick continued re-framing the space over the door -- we could charge admission to see this thing now it is so beautiful. We were supposed to have brunch with friends who spent the weekend moving to thier new condo, but knew that was unlikly since, well, they were moving and that throws all plans out the window. Then we could have marched in the annual WOOGAMS parade --a neighborhood parade that's been around for almost 50 years now, but a thunderstorm rolled in right as it started and I wasn't up for getting wet or hit by lightening. I decided to sit on the porch with Ada to have a light lunch and watch the storm blow by. Rick just kept working. That afternoon, when trying to find something local to have for a late lunch, Rick realized that most restaurants near us aren't open on Memorial Day so we ended up with soup from the Soup Box. By 4 pm, Rick was still working on the air conditioner project and it was time to go sell our single stroller to some friends and meet their newborn. We made a quick trip to the grocery store after that for the bare necessities and then went to dinner which turned into the longest experience we've ever had in entertaining Ada until the food came. It wasn't the night to be slow with our meal and Rick, Mr. Patience, was about to lose it. Luckily, Ada was a trooper and was easily entertained by his animal drawings on a lime green Post-it Note I had tucked into my purse. We made it home in time to put Ada to bed, put me to bed, and finally, at 11 pm, Rick turned off the drill and crawled into bed as well. The framing was finally done.

Tuesday, we ignored the air conditioner and took a night off. I cooked myself dinner on the stove and Rick played a little volleyball with friends. It was so nice.

Wednesday night, Rick caulked the air conditioner case into it's new home and suckered two strong neighbors to help him hoist the new unit into place, which took less than three minutes and it fit perfectly, of course. Then he did some final screwing and assembled the actual air conditioner front and insides.

But wait, we're not done yet.

Friday, the electrician is scheduled to come in and upgrade the outlet to a 15amp/230volt so we can plug it in. Oh yes, this is a powerful unit and needs it's own, special outlet. Chances are that this new outlet will cost a few hundred dollars -- hopefully not more than the air conditioner itself, but we'll see about that--and will involve the demolition of a portion of the wall in our kitchen. Can I just tell you how excited I am about the prospect of Rick having to re-drywall a section of our kitchen when I'm due to have his second child in three weeks or less? And home improvement projects in general? Needless to say, we won't ever be buying a "fixer upper", and I'll be getting a quote from a professional from this point forward on any projects we think we can handle ourselves. I'm much more motivated to find ways to save money so we can afford to pay professionals to get the job done. I think this is similar to the point you get after moving a few times when you finally say, "Next time, we're hiring movers."

Moral of the story: Home improvement projects are easy to underestimate. Do your best to know what you are getting into, and hire a professional if this isn't your favorite pasttime.

CRACK...1...2...3... WAAAHHH!!!

It's just as I expected. Last night's storm quickly converted our queen size bed into a family sleep arrangement resembling a sardine can. Imagine me, my pregnant belly, my body pillow, Ada, her stuffed piggy, and Rick in the same bed. Amazingly, we all fit and got through the storm. Thankfully, it passed fairly quickly and Rick was able to drop Ada back into her own bed so we could spread out for the few remaining hours before starting our day.

Having a bit of a fear of thunderstorms, still at age 30, I can understand why Ada would be inclined to join us for a bit more comforting and consoling during a loud storm at night. I'll admit I still inch closer and cuddle up to Rick when a big storm comes through. And I think I was in my early teens before my parents finally made me stop crawling into bed with them when I got scared at night. They remedied that quickly by saying, "Go sleep in your brother's room." I think I tried that twice. He offered me the floor and was so annoyed and uninviting that I was more scared of him than the storm. Habit broken.

I'm not sure what the best way is to make her less anxious during storms at night. The day before this big storm came through, we sat on the back porch and watch another storm pass us by so that Ada could see what was happening. I tried to explain lightening and thunder and rain. Someone told me the thunder was angels bowling in heaven but that didn't seem to help when I was little, and it's a concept way over Ada's head at this age. I tried to make it fun by saying "Crack, boom, boom, boom, rumble, rumble," all while laughing and eating lunch on the porch as the storm blew by us. Ada likes to yell at the storm when the thunder cracks. It's loud so she reacted by being really loud to. She screamed at it, not out of fear but more as a way of saying, "If you're going to be loud then I am too." Our neighbors found it quite funny, and it entertained Rick as he continued to install our new air conditioner above the back door.

Moral of the story: Some things in life can be scary. As parents, it's our job to teach our offspring how to be brave--which is not an easy task.