Thursday, February 28, 2013

This Summer

I can't wait for this to happen when I am able to eat a reasonable amount of food again and get fat, fat, fat:



"Wesley, get Mama's pryin' rod" -Lisa Simpson as a fatty

No, I take that back. When I have energy again, I resolve to not lay around anymore. I resolve to do all of the fun things ever thunk-up with my kids. They deserve an embarrassing overcompensation of fun in their lives for putting up with my current lethargy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Way We Were

Once upon a time, we were pregnant with our first. And in the final, early summertime weeks of my college degree I dragged Joe to the MSU main library and forced him to watch this video with me.



We were so young and clueless (well, at least I was). I thought this PBS video, as it contains footage of actual childbirth in its later segments, would somehow prepare us for parenthood. LOLz!

Instead, we snickered at the footage of pasty, beachgoing men in speedos and pretended we had it all under control. We even talked about how funny it would be to go into Olin (if you went to MSU, surely you'll remember Olin--only for pregnancy or mono!) and say "we think she might be pregnant, she hasn't had her period in awhile". I was visibly, obviously, like seven months pregnant at the time.

I gave my last BMB lab report, the one upon which my graduation rested, a lick and a promise; we moved to Seattle exactly a month before James was due. Joe met me at the airport in his '88 Jetta with the muffler that sounded like an afterburner, and swept a gigantic, tear-streaked me off my feet. We lived in the Totem Lake Inn in Kirkland for the next two weeks, so that I could waddle the quarter-mile to my doctor's appointments at Evergreen HMC while Joe took the car to his new Boeing job. I would even get up with him before work and make him a sack lunch (but that only lasted about 3 days).

My mom called and said, very helpfully, "well, if you go into labor early, you can always use a laundry basket for a crib!" Thanks, Mom.

The lab report eventually got finished and baby James got himself borned, but not until some fairly dramatic shit went down.

We moved into a little apartment on Mercer Island. Why Mercer Island, the rich folks' playground? Joe wanted to live there for some reason, probably that it was fairly close to Boeing field, and he liked the death-defying daily drives on its floating bridges. A hilarious aside: we eventually tried to buy a house there, and our realtor thought that idea was SO cute! For 23-year-old Joe and 21-year-old me, it was kind of like driving innocently through Westwood or Bel-Air and saying, "this is nice. Let's live here!" (Later, we ended up right on the border of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, close enough to Lake Washington so that we could the watch the descents at the Sea Plane port. James would, as a toddler, double-finger-point and shout "airplane" in our backyard several times an afternoon.)

Anyway, about a week before our EDD, the Boeing-sponsored moving truck came, straight from my dad's garage, and filled up our 800-square-foot Mercer Island apartment-hole with stuff. Like, everything my hoarder parents thought we might find useful (two or three kitchens-worth of utensils!), and then some. Our tiny place was filled with boxes from floor to ceiling, and we STILL didn't have a crib. We had to tunnel through the boxes to get from the front door to the kitchen. Joe was miserable and insisted on bringing fully 70% of the stuff to Goodwill.

From there came the biggest drama of all. Joe had been working on his first major project as a manufacturing engineer, and it seemed to be going pretty well. Then, one day, he came home from work with a headache. A big one. He started vomiting from the pain, and even hid under the little dining room table like a cornered muskrat. I begged him to go to the ER, but he refused. He went to the nurse practitioner a day later, and she was pissed that he hadn't at least gone to urgent care. "Stress does funny things to people!" was her diagnosis.

Then, it was Joe's dad's turn to say something helpful: "I knew a guy who had that happen, and that's how they found out he had a huge brain tumor and was dying! He was dead, like, six months later." Thanks, Joe's dad!

The next night, I went into labor. Twenty-six hours later, James was born. For some reason, he looked Asian (as did our other two kids when they were born in the following years, and not that there is anything wrong with that!). This prompted some serious questioning from Joe, but the paternity was, unfortunately for him, never in doubt. Joe was stuck with us.

Asian James:
https://birthprint.com/ecommerce/view_baby


With James, looking slightly less-Asian, in the Cascades

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kid News: A Snapshot

James informed me yesterday that he has started a business with his "coworker" friend from school. His products are whimsical, accordion-legged pieces of origami that he calls "hubbies" which he sells in his classroom for 20 cents each. He proudly poured a pile of change on the table today as proof of his first income, and he claims to have a list of peers who eagerly await these wares. A backlog demand! We should all be so successful and enterprising. I do not know whether these hubbies are an original idea, but even if it turns out to be something for which he should be paying royalties to the makers of Pokemon, the whole thing is pretty darn cute. He is introverted and creative and somewhat of a benevolent weirdo these days, but he has a few good friends and a teacher who is enthusiastically supportive of his ventures. Ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, and he says, "An inventor!"

Will was righteously indignant this evening, as we were climbing into the minivan to take James to trampoline-&-tumbling. First of all, he had to sit in the back-backseat. (Someone always does, and by our family's rules it is always the last person who gets in the car.) The second grievance was that there was a banana peel back there with him. He put the banana peel in the spot where the trash can goes, but the trash can was not currently there (it was actually in the house, next to my bed, so I could puke into it). Throwing the peel away as best he could, he was inspired to call his siblings some names. "YOU'RE a rotten banana buttcrack!" Will roared at James, for some reason. James laughed good-naturedly, as did Elise. I couldn't help it, but I couldn't stop laughing either, and this infuriated Will. It got so bad that tears were rolling down my face, which was very distracting because I also happened to be driving and gagging at the time. Poor Will! I tried to tell him that it wasn't funny that he was upset, but what he had said was funny (and mean). He was not having it. But generally, Will is doing wonderfully these days, and has many friends, a second-degree orange belt in Tae Kwon Do, and an abundance of near-perfect grades.

Elise is a daisy girl scout now. She can sell a mean cookie, that girl! Not that this is the point of GS, or anything. She is also doing trampoline and tumbling, and seems to have scores of best-girlfriends. She was getting in trouble frequently for talking to her friends in kindergarten, to the point where the teacher had to rearrange the classroom so that she sits with all boys now. We have had lots of talks about this, and she seems to be improving a little. She is basically the opposite of me as a child, and I could not be more surprised or proud.





Monday, February 18, 2013

Song: Go and Catch a Chicken Shawarma

Or, More Ways That I am an Asshole

For those who didn't know, my husband is a saint. Here is approximately what we said to each other this evening.

Joe: So, what do you want for dinner?
Me: The Sheik! Chicken shawarma, with a mountain of rice pilaf with little, baked almonds in it.
Joe: Uhh. Isn't that that restaurant in [mid-western state, 2,000 miles away]?
Me: Yes. And their cucumber salad, and only their hummus and tabbouleh, NOT the kind you can buy at a store. And I want ice water out of a glass with a picture of an American flag on it.
Joe: How about a baked potato?

For some reason, this situation reminds me of a stanza of one of my favorite cynical poems:

"If Thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where,
Lives a woman, pregnant and reasonable."

-John Donne (1572-1631)


Okay, maybe that wasn't how it went. But, my VERY-favorite cynical poem contains the most hopeless of all language. It takes mad skills to be this hopeless:

"The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house*"

-Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
*his actual words

Why the cynicism? And why is this, Philip Larkin's Aubade, the best cynical poem ever? I will tell you. To answer the first question, I have been trying for four days, and not necessarily succeeding, to NOT plaster the walls with my vom. As it turns out, Reglan is not the wonder drug I was anticipating, and back to Zofran I've gone. To answer the second question is trickier. Maybe I am bitter that a doctor isn't coming to my house. How cool would that be, if they still did that? In fact, my doctor's partner seemed kind of pissed when I called her for a refill of the anti-vomit pills today ("If you have a problem, call back tomorrow when it's regular business hours and not a holiday!"). There is little question that Larkin is writing about death. But I am not dying, just feeling like death.

In this "intricate, rented world", morning sickness "is no different whined at than withstood" (Larkin, 40). Whoops, I am still whining, though!

How about this:

"Busy old fool! Unruly fetus!" -John Donne

Nope!

How about this:

"I imagined holding you close,
rocking you,
watching you make faces as you dreamed"

-Anne Bowen ("I Loved You Before You Were Born")

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There Will Be Barf

Today I'm going to beg one of my doctors for some Reglan (anti-nausea nectar). Now that I've had a taste of its sweet, sweet efficacy through an IV in the ER on Monday, there's no going back. Short version of the story: horrible nausea and scary headache, emergent but uneventful MRI of the brain, with the verdict of absolutely nothing besides mommy's first migraine.

This doc is interesting. He is widely considered to be the best, best, best when it comes to high-risk OB care, but his bedside manner is hilariously lacking. He basically talks to his computer and the ultrasound machine, directing the occasional grunt toward me, but usually talking directly to the nurse. "What are we complaining about now?" was the closest he came to addressing me two weeks ago at my last visit. Haha! So funny, so reassuring, this man. But as long as he keeps the images of a happy little fetus coming along, I don't even care that he runs 2.5 hours late or thinks I am a complainer (it's true).

Joe is saying he doesn't want to do this pregnancy thing again, and I can't blame him. I am a hot mess. Today, we fetched my car from UCLA in between rounds of vomiting, and I started crying when the following song came on the radio: A New Day Has Come by Celine Dion Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads. Yeah, it's that bad.

He's pretty much pushing for me to sign something that says I do not want any more kids after this. Oh Joe, I am so sorry how hard this has been for you. And kids, I am sorry I have been sick and distracted. I know this stupid nausea will not last forever, but it has sucked for all of you.

But here is where I'm an insufferable asshole (okay, one of the places where!): I'm scared to NOT do this again. Not so long ago, I used to narrow my judgmental, easy-pregnancy, beady little eyes and say, "I don't believe in [psychological-] only children", which was a convenient stance for me, because our first three were so rapid-fire in succession we could hardly get their basic needs met for awhile. But they are getting their needs met now, and then some (if I do say so myself). And I had my heart set on two more, and my husband sort of agreed.

But it will be okay, if this is our last (and hopefully he/she makes it)! Right?! Tell me it's not bad that our older kids are basically going to be 9, 8, and 6.5 when he/she is born. Tell me he/she won't be bratty and chronically trying to catch up to the big kids. I know I'm being irrational here. I know plenty of absolutely AWESOME only-children, psychological or otherwise. One commenter here has one that I remember being particularly cool and well-nurtured. But I know several non-awesome ones, too, who never, ever learned to share their whole lives or got along with or gave a crap about other people. And I believe so much in the importance psychological sibs; I am loathe to imagine growing up without the developmental trials of having a brother who was 2.5 years younger than me (and often wiser and better at everything).

We will have to see. I am not giving up hope for anything, now that I have managed to keep down a girl scout cookie this afternoon. Sweet, sweet nectar.