MMIX

No year in review. Because really, do you give a shit?

No resolutions. I plan on being as annoying/fat/cynical/lame as I have been. Why mess with perfection?

No wild partying tonight. Why? Because kids don’t care that you just “fell asleep” four hours ago in the clothes you had on when you left the house or that you may or may not have dried vomit in your hair.

No hangover tomorrow. I have mental hangovers every day. Why screw that up with booze?

Sorry, I’m cranky. I was out of geritol* this morning and my Depends are riding up the crack of my ass.

Happy New Year!! What are YOUR plans for the evening?

* Spell check wants geritol to be genital. Bwahahahaha!!

RASH (no pictures this time) UPDATE

This is a follow-up to the post about my daughter’s rash since I’ve had many hits on it and queries as to how she is not doing:

It’s been what seems like an endless parade to and from a medical office of one kind or another lately. After waiting literally months for ZGirl’s dermatology appointment, it came and went and left me feeling a bit fuzzy in the brain – like I hadn’t ever been to a specialist before – and went away with more questions than answers.

Dr. Eyebrows, the junior of his now retired father who we originally saw last year, took one look at ZGirl and exclaimed how her condition and symptoms were exactly like his own son of the same age. I felt relief. He gave us a script for a cream, advised us to try an OTC antihistamine when things got bad, and swabbed her to see if she was a carrier of nasal staph.

Did you just go reread that last part?

Yeah. That’s where I got derailed at the appointment and failed as a parent to ask WTF. A couple weeks later I got a call from the clinic to confirm that she was positive. We’ll come back to that in a sec. At the time we were to start a nasal antibiotic right away.

For several days, we squirted an ointment up both nostrils of one very pissed off toddler. It would piss me off too.

After the treatment, her skin looked beautiful! I mean enviably gorgeous! And then a week later she was sick again with something viral (aka “cold”) and the rash and redness returned with a vengeance. Then the daycare told us that there were two confirmed cases of staph (I hadn’t told them about ZGirl’s appointment). And then the coughing and wheezing started. And then she threw up. And then the blizzard snowed us in and the in-laws out. And then Christmas came and went. And then this past Sunday Mr. DD bundled her up right away in the morning because she was getting worse and took her to the urgent care: ear and respiratory infection and the beginning of more antibiotics, this time the kind that taste like ass, even when flavored with grape, which resulted in a taste of ass covered in grape jelly.

And then finally, her follow-up appointment with Dr. Eyebrows. One I was determined to get to the bottom of with this staph infection carrier business. I spent free time googling “nasal staph infection carrier” needlessly. The nurse who called to confirm ZGirl was positive did not clarify that she was positive for another kind of bacteria – but NOT staph. Awesomeness.

Basically, ZGirl just has very sensitive baby skin and moisture followed by sudden dryness (like snot dripping and then subsequently being wiped away with a sleeve) will cause her extreme irritation. The prickly rash she gets on the rest of her body is her skin’s reaction to infections, which really does make sense when you consider the skin is the largest organ of the body. She should outgrow it eventually. Until then, if she gets really rashy about the face, we are to slather her with A&D ointment at bedtime. And that’s it.

If you are still seeking answers to your child’s unexplained rash, ask about getting a culture for staph done. Try A&D ointment, generously applied. Ask about steroid creams or try a mild over the counter cortisone cream. As for the body, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Aveeno for baby works great. Avoid highly perfumed lotions. If nothing else, vaseline after a bath. Good luck.

Speaking of doctors…

Speaking of doctors…

It’s been what seems like an endless parade to and from a medical office of one kind or another lately. After waiting literally months for Aitch’s dermatology appointment, it came and went and left me feeling a bit fuzzy in the brain – like I hadn’t ever been to a specialist before – and went away with more questions than answers.

Dr. Eyebrows, the junior of his now retired father who we originally saw last year, took one look at Aitch and exclaimed how her condition and symptoms were exactly like his own son of the same age. I felt relief. He gave us a script for a cream, advised us to try an OTC antihistamine when things got bad, and swabbed her to see if she was a carrier of nasal staph.

Did you just go reread that last part?

Yeah. That’s where I got derailed at the appointment and failed as a parent to ask WTF. A couple weeks later I got a call from the clinic to confirm that she was positive. We’ll come back to that in a sec. At the time we were to start a nasal antibiotic right away.

For several days, we squirted an ointment up both nostrils of one very pissed off toddler. It would piss me off too.

After the treatment, her skin looked beautiful! I mean enviably gorgeous! And then a week later she was sick again with something viral (aka “cold”) and the rash and redness returned with a vengeance. Then the daycare told us that there were two confirmed cases of staph (I hadn’t told them about Aitch’s appointment). And then the coughing and wheezing started. And then she threw up. And then the blizzard snowed us in and the in-laws out. And then Christmas came and went. And then this past Sunday Sparring Partner bundled her up right away in the morning because she was getting worse and took her to the urgent care: ear and respiratory infection and the beginning of more antibiotics, this time the kind that taste like ass, even when flavored with grape, which resulted in a taste of ass covered in grape jelly.

And then finally, her follow-up appointment with Dr. Eyebrows. One I was determined to get to the bottom of with this staph infection carrier business. I spent free time googling “nasal staph infection carrier” needlessly. The nurse who called to confirm Aitch was positive did not clarify that she was positive for another kind of bacteria – but NOT staph. Awesomeness.

Basically, Aitch just has very sensitive baby skin and moisture followed by sudden dryness (like snot dripping and then subsequently being wiped away with a sleeve) will cause her extreme irritation. The prickly rash she gets on the rest of her body is her skin’s reaction to infections, which really does make sense when you consider the skin is the largest organ of the body. She should outgrow it eventually. Until then, if she gets really rashy about the face, we are to slather her with A&D ointment at bedtime. And that’s it.

Actually, I just had to tell you all this so I can share something even more awesome. I asked Dr. Eyebrows just how long would I have to wait to get in to see him to get a script for Retin A (adult acne? So NOT awesome.). He said he would get me a sample. He said something to the nurse and she came back with a box of Retin A. I asked her how long would it last me so I know when to schedule. She said there was enough to last me a year. A whole year! Yes, a box of prescription Retin A!!

Considering that we have no insurance so even the doctor’s visit would be out of pocket and Retin A is a non-covered and very expensive prescription, I really, really got lucky. Sometimes a little luck is all you need to feel a little bit better about not having a job, or no insurance, or the endless snow, or the fact that for several hours yesterday there was no heat on the one side of our house and the temperature dropped to the 50s (BRRRRrrrrrrr!!!).

Now if my face would look as good as Aitch’s, even on a bad day, I’ll be in seventh heaven. Simple minds = simple pleasures, and all that.

Homemade Diaper Wipes

No one would ever confuse me for a hippie or a tree hugger. I won’t sugarcoat how I think disposable diapers are god’s gift to parents like me too lazy and/or grossed out to rinse undigested corn, carrots, green beans and other unrecognizable substances from cloth ones.

However, to make up for the fact that we use disposable diapers, we make our own diaper wipes. I’m sure I’ve shared the recipe on one of my blogs before. I’ve sent it to a couple of you at different times when you’ve mentioned one of your little one’s butt was burning from diaper rash. I’m going to share the recipe for my wipes again here because I believe so strongly in how wonderful they are. If you’re a Greenie, then you should be doing this; if you hate how your baby practically turns him or herself inside out when it’s time for a diaper change because of a severe rash – then you need to try this.

Here’s the recipe with bonus pictures!

Above is the supplies you will need:

  • 1 roll of good quality paper towels. I prefer Bounty Select-a-Size.
  • Baby Oil
  • Gentle skin cleanser. My preference is Cetaphil.
  • A measuring cup, measuring spoons (or a regular spoon – it’s not rocket science), and a large knife.
  • And most importantly, a 10 cup container with lid.

With the large knife, cut the roll of paper towels in half like so (Sparring Partner warns not to use a serrated knife due to the “little bit” of lint you will get – see below since I DID use a serrated knife):

Now mix up the following in your measuring cup:

  • 1 – tspn (or spoonful) of baby oil
  • 1 – tspn (or spoonful) of cleanser
  • 1 – cup water

And I mean mix WELL since obviously the oil will want to separate. Once mixed, pour into your 10 cup container. Add one of the halves of your freshly cut paper towels to the container. Don’t bother removing the cardboard roll.

Put together another cup of oil/cleanser/water mixture using the same measurements and pour over the top of the paper towels. Snap on your lid and let sit, preferably overnight so the paper towels have time to soak up everything.

When you’re ready to use, start by pulling out the cardboard center, which will help start what now are your wipes. I usually pull out a bunch and tear apart at the perforations before I take off the diaper. That way I’m not trying to do it with one hand since I’m usually trying to prevent someone from reaching down to inspect their nether regions by pinning two little hands together with one of my own.

And that’s it! Wipes that won’t burn their privates with alcohol like store-bought wipes will. Wipes that actually give a light protective coating of moisturizer as a preventative measure for whatever comes next. Wipes that can be used safely and comfortably on the face and hands without worrying about the awful taste.

Also? Sparring Partner noticed that I was sharing the recipe for our homemade wipes and wanted you all to know that he swears by them. And if you knew how disinterested and completely oblivious he is to EVERYTHING used and needed in care of a baby, you would dump out those leftovers taking up residency in the only 10 cup container you own and mix up a batch right now.

GO! What are you waiting for?? If you don’t think these are the bee’s knees, then you can come back here and leave your comment about how much they suck. Of course I wouldn’t delete your comment. I’m not vindictive.

Until then…

One of my favorite times of the year is upon us. No, not Christmas. Winter Solstice! Why? Because it marked the shortest day (in sunlight hours) of the year.

It means that from that moment on, our days will get a little bit longer…and a little bit longer…and a little bit longer still. Winter Solstice to me means that spring is on its way! Crazy isn’t it? Especially when you consider that right now the Midwest is be dumped on by the largest blizzard of the year. Probably the largest we’ve had in several years. But I don’t care. Spring is just around the corner in my head.

Today I got a call from daycare. Aitch had thrown up. They had to wake her from a morning nap, which she was just moving out of and getting into a one nap a day routine. The night before we woke to her screaming and crying and while she settled quickly, she didn’t go back to sleep for over an hour. Right now, I’m listening to her whimper on the monitor and cough every 15 minutes or so. After I picked her up from daycare, she acted normal so I’m not sure what’s going on, but the wheezing she’s been doing for the past couple of days gives me cause for concern.

In just little over an hour, it will be Christmas Eve and I have never felt so unprepared for it. I’m tired of strangers thinking it’s OK to ask me if I’m ready for Christmas. It reminds me of when I would take Aitch out as a newborn and I would get asked if I was nursing. It’s none of your damn business and why do you even care?? See how full of the season’s spirit I am?

With that, I do wish you all a wonderful weekend whether you’re getting snowed in or if you’re taking a dip in the pool (a nod to my southern hemispherian friends), but more importantly I wish you all a spectacular New Year in 2010. I’m wishing it will bring me a job.

Happy Holidays, my friends. Count your blessings. We each have more than we realize.

'Tis the Season to be Merry

I left my reflectors at home.

"Beep! Beep! Caution! Wide Load!!

 We went bowling last week. It’s the first time I’ve bowled in over four years. The last time I bowled it was with my ex co-workers when we all got along. I’m not sure why Sparring Partner had to take one at this angle. My ass looks as wide as the lane. Maybe it is…

Stolen

If you haven’t heard by now about the utterly botched surrogacy arrangement between Amy Kehoe (mother) and Laschell Baker (surrogate), both of Michigan, then you’ve been living under a rock…or preparing for some kind upcoming holiday festivities. The short of it is after Amy Kehoe selected Laschell Baker as her surrogate, who then went on to deliver boy-girl twins, who then found out that Amy had a “history” of mental illness, who then decided that Kehoes were unfit to be parents so they arranged to null and void the surrogate contract and the twins were relinquished to Bakers.

That’s the short. Now for the long. Really, really long.

The nuances to this story are many and varied and all smack of hypocrisy and judgmental bullshit. Because of my google alerts set on “egg donor”, I received a notice about this gem on a message board the other day from a “mommy” site:

I’m not in the position to make judgment and I’m not making judgment, I’m just trying to understand WHY some people go to such lengths? I ask because I know someone who is personally going through this and I just don’t get it AT ALL. This might sound horrible to someone who can understand, but please know I’m not trying to be insensitive, I just really and truly don’t get it. I don’t understand how having a stranger egg and a stranger sperm donor and possibly a stranger surrogate is any different or “better” than adopting a baby that is essentially the same thing? The baby is from strangers too…what is the difference??????

Here’s me reading it, in case you want to pop into my head for a sec:

I’m not in the position to make judgment [then don’t] and I’m not making judgment [uh-oh, when someone says “I’m not making judgment”, you know they are], I’m just trying to understand WHY some people go to such lengths? I ask because I know someone who is personally going through this and I just don’t get it AT ALL [let me guess: you’ve told your friend that you don’t get it, right? In the spirit of honesty and forthrightedness?? Of course you did – pfft]. This might sound horrible to someone who can understand [there’s no “might” about it], but please know I’m not trying to be insensitive [you’re not trying hard enough], I just really and truly don’t get it [you’ve made that painfully clear already – more than once in fact]. I don’t understand […again?!…] how having a stranger egg and a stranger sperm donor [stranger than what?] and possibly a stranger surrogate [stranger than you, perhaps?] is any different or “better” than adopting a baby [that’s YOUR presumption] that is essentially the same [it is?? Anyone who has adopt care to interject] thing [she did NOT just refer to a baby as a “thing”, did she??]? The baby is from strangers too…what is the difference [I’m so flustered, I really have no idea!]??????

Baker says that being a good Christian is what prompted her to take the action and make the adoption (in most states, the parents must adopt their child(ren) from the surrogate) void. A quote from Baker, “I’m not going to be the one that’s going to feel guilty if something happens.”

So Laschell Baker, let me see if I understand this correctly: you don’t want to feel guilty IF something were to happen. You are referring to Kehoe’s mental illness – her CONTROLLED for eight years mental illness! – right?!? And you would rather worry about the “what ifs” then the harm and guilt you REALLY should be feeling now for taking Kehoes’ children away from them. And I don’t EVEN want to hear anyone bring up the fact that there’s no biological connection between Kehoes and her twins. It’s irrelevant. The only reason Baker was successful in her bid for the twins is because surrogacy laws and their contracts are basically unenforceable, not because of any biological connection or lack thereof.

So Baker considers her and her husband to be superior parents to any couple who have a history of mental illness. That means that Laschell Baker considers herself to be a better parent than either myself (mild depression) and a good many of you. What if Kehoe had any other kind of physical handicap or chronic illness? What if Amy was deaf or blind or was an amputee? While these would have been more obvious in their physical manifestation, would Laschell Baker felt as comfortable in her decision to consider Kehoe a POTENTIALLY unfit mother as she does now?

Let’s just make this an even more ridiculous argument, shall we? So again, Laschell made her judgment call based on “what ifs”, and she claims that she has no guilt now in her decision, right? She’s changing the twins’ names as a “way to leave the past behind”………as soon as she and her husband can pull together $320 in filing fees.

%*@$#@$&*&&*(&*^!!!!!!!!!

Translation? Ohmyfuckinggodyouhaveseriouslygottobeshittingmemotherfucker!!!!!!!

She’s changing those babies’ names in order to try to pretend that Kehoes were never the parents of those babies. While Baker claims they will someday tell the twins about Kehoes, I can’t even come up with the subject line of their story they will use without causing some kind of traumatic response from those kids:

Possible Future Explanation – The woman intended to be your mother was sick/had mental illness/crazy!

Possible Interpretation by the Children – People who are sick/have mental illnesses/crazy! cannot, should not, and will not make good parents.

Yeah. That works (make sure you read that with all the sarcastic intonation as you possibly can).

One last shaming smack to the Bakers: to disguise your stereotyping of people with mental illnesses, you try to hide behind the shield of “doing what’s best in the case of what if” and you used it to justify to yourself and others (who obviously are not buying it) the reason to take Amy and her husband’s children. What if someone came up to you and decided that since you can’t immediately put together $300 to try to closet the past, that you can’t afford to raise the twins much less the four other children you have and take away all six?

Determining who and what makes for good parents based on ignorant stereotyping always – ALWAYS – will bite you squarely on the ass.

Kehoes have since decided to stop the fight for custody of their twins. I will hope and hope and hope that they become parents again and prove to themselves what faultless parents they would have been to their first two children. I say “to themselves” because quite frankly, they don’t owe the world proof of their parenting abilities. The Bakers weren’t owed that right, but they stole it away much like they did those babies.

KISS my Hooters, Loverboy!

I don’t handle crowds very well at all. Actually, I hate them. This time of year, while I truly enjoy the idea behind Christmas, the fact is that too many people in the mall push me to the verge of homicide – or at the minimum, dirty looks and scowling at the three women with their shopping carts EACH! strolling SIDE-BY-SIDE through the mall GOING THE WRONG WAY! BITCHES!!

That means that when my husband wants to go to a concert, I have to beg off. While we were still dating, I was convinced to go to see  Aerosmith and Pink Floyd out of a desire to please Sparring Partner who probably would have felt guilty asking one of his guy friend’s to go while his then girlfriend hung out at home alone (oh, if ONLY he had!).

Both concerts were amazing in their own way. In fact, the Pink Floyd concert was al fresco and you would think that being in the great outdoors, under a magnificent black, summer sky, that I wouldn’t feel so claustrophobic. Unfortunately, looking up only emphasized the fact that I was going to be stuck with stoners, beer- and/or bodily fluids-soaked ground, and port-a-potties.

Since being married, Sparring Partner has given up on asking me to go with him to concerts. He will get with a couple of his buddies and begin a road trip with my blessings. Just last week he went to see KISS, which he’s seen several times before. This time was super special. This time, he took Doodicus. So at the tender age of 8, my son not only got to see his first concert – his first ROCK concert – he got to see KISS. And while your musical tastes may not run along that vein, just imagine being my son’s age and getting to see arguably one of the best, if not the most memorable, performers of our time. I almost regret not seeing his face when the band walked onto the stage in full make-up amongst a pyrotechnic display.

I’ve tried to enjoy concerts, and while I’m sure my aversion to them has nothing to do with the fact that my first “rock” concert was when I was in high school when I went with my best friend to see The Hooters and Loverboy, it probably didn’t help.

Tell me, what was the first concert you went to and when? Did you enjoy it? What was the last one you went to? And if you want to tell me how you can’t stand crowded areas, feel free to share that, too! We’ll get together and shout at each other across the room.

Mommy Mavericks

In the latest issue of More magazine, the following letter-to-the-editor was written in response to an article titled Midlife Mommy Debate in a previous issue, which was about women in their 40s and 50’s becoming new moms.

These women are incredibly selfish. I was raised by older parents whom I loved dearly. When I was born, my father was 52 and my mother was 45. I lost my father while I was in my twenties (he was 78) and my mother (then 84) in my thirties. After my mother suffered a stroke, I spent the first few years of my marriage taking care of her – and my toddler. My mother died four days after I gave birth to my second child, and I had a heart attack before the funeral. Do these ‘Mommy Mavericks’ realize how sad it is that their children’s children will never know them? ~ Martha          

I know that as a parent, I have a mountain of responsibilities to my two children, but not once did anyone ever tell me or imply that one of them is to make sure I live long enough for my grandchildren to get to know me.

When I was born, only two of my four grandparents were still living – both grandfathers. My paternal grandfather died when I was an infant. The other grandfather, my mom’s dad, I remember distinctly because he had only one hand and when he let me sit on his lap while driving the tractor, he would hold me with his good arm and steer with the hook he had on the other. He always brought us candy when he stopped by the house. Sadly, he died when I was very young as well.

I’ve written before how my husband and I are “Latecomers” as we had our first when I was 34 and our second after years of infertility treatment at 41. My husband turned 45 a couple months before her birth. Let’s say for the sake of argument that our kids will be in their 30’s before having children; and then add in the factor of when children retain a lot of their memories – say 10, that will put us in our 80s. If we’re lucky.

While I hope that I convey to my children that they should have their children only when they are absolutely ready, I know that I may also find there are times it will be tempting to warn them not to wait as long as we did. In fact, I hear my husband say in different conversations how if he was able to do it again, he would not have waited to try to have children. That being said, I think it would be irresponsible and SELFISH to guilt my children into starting a family just to make sure my grandchildren know who I am.

Getting to know my grandparents had nothing to do with how much time I got to spend with them. It’s how their memories and their spirits are kept alive long after they’re gone. I pray that my children love and respect us enough to do the same.

Once I got over the flash of anger with Martha calling me and others like me selfish, I pitied her. She obviously feels that the first precious years of becoming a mother were diminished her own mother’s illness. She states it’s sad that my grandchildren will never get to “know” me, but I think it’s a tragedy that her children will have the memory of their grandmother tarnished by their mother’s bitterness, which really? Has nothing to do with the fact that she was born to elderly parents.

**************************

This was the post I used in the Cross Pollination – edited a wee bit since of course I find the grammatical errors only when I see it via my reader and never in draft.

What’s Black and Blue and Red All Over?

That would be Aitch’s face, thank you very much.

We intentionally requested that our stairwell downstairs not be one straight shot. We had thought that if the baby (remember? We were pregnant with Vivienne when we started construction) was to fall down the steps, to have a landing in the middle would lessen the damage.

This weekend we moved the gate that was at the top of the stairs to just beyond the landing and I showed Aitch how to come down the steps going backwards and then up again. She did really, really well.

So when I heard from the kitchen the first THUMP, I knew exactly what was happening and I ran to the steps just in time to hear her begin to wail as she was sprawled out on the landing. Without really thinking about the consequences, I scooped her up into my arms and quickly made off to her room to rock her calm again.

I saw blood come out of both nostrils and her nose swell up. I called Sparring Partner at work (I was home thanks to a snow day) to tell him what happened and to see if he thought I should go to the ER. While she cried for some time, she settled quickly once I put Dad on speaker phone for her to hear. To better assess the injury, he asked me to take a picture and send it to him, but the swelling didn’t show well in the grainy cell-phone photo, the one I’m showing here.

Of course, I feel absolutely gutted that it happened. I also realize that for many parents, a fall down the stairs seems to be a right of passage, but this is the second time (once at my SIL’s), and frankly that’s a right I could do without. The image of her tiny body on the stairs will give me nightmares I’m sure.

There is still dried blood in her nostrils as we put her to bed. Also, the outside of each is starting to bruise and there’s a scratch on one side. I’m hoping by tomorrow morning, it will be better and not worse. I hope I feel better.

Add Homonym

This post is brought to you via Cross Pollination. After you are done reading it, try to guess which blogger it might be. Answer below.

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Ewe mussed all weighs yews the rite words. If ewe dew knot, those hoo reed ewe mite think yew maid a Miss Steak.

Win ewe R kerr full, reeders no eggs act lee what yew mien. This is the haul Marc of good riting and good come uni Kay ding.

Win yew R kerr less, yore meaning mite bea lost and reeders well purr sieve U as lay Z or inn come pet tent.

Their, they’re. Wee dew knot want that, dew wee?

Flecks yore men tall mussle, pee pull.

(This tuck along thyme too right.)

*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*

Let me know in comments who you might have guessed. Here’s the answer. You can check out my post on her site. If you’re looking for some more like this, check out the rest of the Cross Pollinating going on across the web.


xpol

Cross Pollination

Or what the cool kids are calling it, XPOL.

Watch this space Wednesday, December 9th.


xpol

Short version: two bloggers are paired, they each write a post, and then the blogger hosts the guest post on her blog and you try to guess who it is.

It’s like a Key Party without worrying about getting a bikini wax beforehand.

What’s Past has not Passed

The home I grew up in is much older than my dad who turned 80 this summer. A small farmhouse, it has exactly two and half bedrooms. There were six children raised there.

Ponder that for just a moment before you continue reading – or here’s a visual to help you along:

Family of 8 > 2.5 Bedrooms

You can assume correctly that one bedroom was/is my mom and dad’s. It’s on the main floor. It just might be 10×12 feet. Room barely enough for a full-sized bed, a vanity dresser, a tall dresser and the crib. No closet. No wardrobe.

The largest bedroom was upstairs. It has one full wall full of sliding door closets that were totally kludged into the sloped-ceilinged room. But when you have five girls, you need all the closet space you can get. Growing up, we had a set of bunk-beds and a full-sized bed and two dressers in there.

And then there’s the half bedroom. I’m sure you’ve heard of half-baths, which are generally bathrooms with a sink, toilet and stand-in shower – if there’s a shower in it at all. Basically, it’s a room designed for one purpose, and one purpose only: Number 1 and Number 2. Well, the half bedroom is designed (and I use the term “design” very, very loosely) to fulfill its purpose: to sleep. A twin sized bed takes up one wall.  The door into it and a dresser take up the other wall. If the door is open, you can fall out of bed and into the hallway. It’s that damn small. If you fail to shut your dresser drawers, and sit up in bed, you could hit your knees on the drawers. Not only is it tiny, but the ceiling over the bed is sloped. Too high of a mattress on top of a big box spring and you would potentially wake up with a concussion. Despite its obvious special flaws, it was the bedroom of the oldest child, a space to themselves.

There were never more four children in the house that shared those two bedrooms. Briefly, there was a time when there were five children living in the house, but the youngest was still in the crib (that would be me, child number 5). By the time I was moved to the bedroom upstairs, which had to have been when I was pretty young since there are 22 months between myself and my little sister, the oldest had left for college. And by the time the youngest was moved out of the crib, the second oldest was in college and the third about to spread her wings as well.

But during that time when there were four girls in the house, in the winter you could find at least three of us in that one full-sized bed. We might have even drawn straws to determine who would have to be the first under the covers as that person was responsible for warming the bed in the winter. Did I fail to mention there was no heat or AC upstairs? If it got REALLY cold, mom would lug up the space heater, which was the size of a suitcase.

Some mornings the room would be so cold we would wake up and lie in bed and pretend to blow smoke rings, our breath easily visible. There was no need for anyone to yell at us to hurry up, get dressed and get downstairs.

I’m sharing this with you because last night as I was tucking my son in, wishing him one more Happy Birthday; he burrowed into his blankets and pillow, murmuring how comfy his bed was. I realized I didn’t have any flannel sheets for his bed. I remember mom upstairs with us when Autumn had her firm foothold in the fields, pulling down the “kitty sheets” from the shelves in those huge closets. Flannel fitted sheets so threadbare, you could see through them. As kids, we didn’t know better, we just enjoyed the knowledge that one of us wouldn’t have to hold our breaths quite as long that night if they drew the short straw.

This Christmas I will get Doodicus a set of flannel sheets and will promise myself to always refer to them as kitty sheets so my son will have a story to share with his children some day in the distant future. We focus so much on what tomorrow will bring, and the day after…I don’t believe in what’s past is past. Some days I enjoy remembering when life was so very simple, especially when each day I wake up with my sense of bearing off kilter. I’m adrift right now, but there was a time I wasn’t. Some days, like today, I need to remember how it felt when my feet tread familiar and solid ground.

Eight

I went into active labor December 1, 2001 at 3:00 in the morning. No mucous plug, no ruptured bag of waters. Just intense and regular contractions. We had a bag packed beforehand even though our due date wasn’t until the 11th.

We were set up in a lovely L&D suite where I changed clothes, put the Vivaldi CD in their stereo, plumped up the pillow I brought from home and listened to the baby’s heartbeat and watched (and felt) each painful contraction come and go on the monitors. Sparring Partner was snoring as soon as his feet were up in the recliner, and we waited.

And waited.

After about an hour, the contractions slowed in frequency and intensity. I wasn’t progressing so in short, they sent us home.

I was scheduled for a non-stress test at my OB’s the following Monday morning as we were monitoring the baby’s heartbeat which wasn’t staying consistent, and in fact, was dipping into the scarily-low ranges. Over the weekend, I was in utter misery. I basically labored throughout but refused to go back to the hospital for fear I would be sent home again. I figured this is what the last couple weeks in a pregnancy were suppose to be like.

When Monday, December 3rd, rolled around, we were both exhausted. I hardly had slept and Sparring Partner suffered as well. At 9:00 a.m. I arrived at my OB’s office for the NST where they strapped me up to the monitors. By 9:30 a.m. I was at the hospital upon the urgent instructions of the staff and my doctor to check in again.

This time, there was no L&D suite available. I wasn’t dilated far, only 3cm at check in, so they set me up in a triage room where a curtain separated me from another expectant mom who loudly complained to her mother/sister/whatever that the doctor better get his ass in there to see her and fucking induce her right now. Should I mention, she had two other small children with her too and that she wreaked heavily of smoke?

I complained quietly to one of the nurses who was actually a high school friend of Sparring Partner and she was able to get us moved to one of the other triage rooms, but still no L&D room was available. I remember as the day progressed into the afternoon and then evening that I got to 6cm, and for the most part, the baby’s heartrate stayed fairly consistenct, only dipping during the really strong contractions. I was enjoying my epidural to its fullest.

Moments before they wheeled me into surgery. "C" Section

But sometime late in the evening everything changed. Our Nurse Friend was taking vitals when a contraction came on. The baby’s HR went from 130 to 110 to 90 to 70 and then she was frantically adjusting the monitor’s belt, asking me to shift. The heartrate plummeted to the 40’s and then was gone. Nurse Friend literally ran from the room and returned within a minute with OB on her heels. I think I was still rather oblivious to what was really happening.

My OB and nurse once again found the baby’s heart with the monitor once the contraction had subsided, but he told me that it was time for the baby to come out and I would need to be prepped for a c-section.

We never made it to a L&D room. I never got to hear Vivaldi in the background while my husband squeezed my hand and brushed the hair out of my sweaty face. Instead, I watched the reflection of my c-section in the face-shield of my doctor and his assistant like I was watching someone else on TV. It was Sparring Partner who announced joyously, “It’s a boy!” when they pulled him the baby from my body.

He was born at 9:53 p.m. and weighed a mere 5 lbs and 12 ounces; skinny at 19 3/4 inches. We never had an inkling that he would be so small.

I had a boy, and with two names we had picked out (Declan was the alternate), we named him the name I first suggested to my husband only weeks after finding out we were expecting.

Eight years later and I have the sweetest young man growing up beside me. Doodicus has exasperated and infuriated me to tears. He’s made me laugh when I’ve least expected but needed to the most. When Aitch came along, he matured instantly into the most perfect big brother I could have ever hoped for. I see more and more glimpses of how he will be as an adolescent, a young man, an adult. He is amazingly beautiful considering the combination of genes it took for him to be created. He gave me the most valuable present I have ever been given: he gave the gift of motherhood.

Happy Birth Day my darling. I love you to the moon and back, and I always and forever will.