9w4d: Waiting

Vacation has numerous advantages, chief among them the ability to make time go at warp speed.  We’re already back from our cruise and the sunburn from St. Thomas is fading – although I still feel like I’m on the boat .  We had a good time. Slept in, read, took in the sights, drank fruity (non-alcoholic) beverages, and basically tuned out the real world.

Rex had a ball with the grandparents, putting them through their geriatric paces like the lively, active two year old that he is.  They also got to experience the new phenomenon of four-word sentences (“Rex car fall again”, “All done Rex bed”, etc).   Our absence has made his heart that much fonder, and vice versa.

The end of vacation also means that we’re just one week away from the next OB appointment.  Cue ominous music.  While I have no evidence that things have gone south, I had no reason to think things were going south with my first pregnancy.  Which they did.  Right about this time.  Of year and pregnancy.

The parallels of this pregnancy to my first pregnancy five years ago are eerie.

Parallel No. 1: Both times, I got pregnant in February and was due in November.

Parallel No. 2: Two days after I found out I was pregnant this time, my mom had an episode of Transient Global Amnesia which is very scary, but very short lived.   She had her first TGA right before I got pregnant five years ago.

Parallel No. 3: I ended up on a cruise in my first trimester.

Parallel No. 4: Around this time, a student shot up their college killing their classmates.

Parallel No. 5: After said cruise, we had an appointment to check on the pregnancy.

This is of course, where the story may follow the same path or verge off into a new direction.  No one knows what will happen, but it’s hard not to look to the past to predict the future.

There are quite a few differences, too, though.

My HCG was much higher this time, baby was measuring well as of the last time we got a peek and we know so much more about the whole process.  Of course, the most important difference is that this time we already have a child.  We’ve already been granted our greatest wish.


The Permanence of My Records

A few months ago, I spent an evening sifting through a box that contained my school records from kindergarten through college.  During those years, my parents diligently saved report cards, memorable artwork, progress reports, and yearbooks, among other items, and then handed them off to me when I moved out.  I don’t know what compelled me that night to look through the stuff, but I remembered pretty quickly why I don’t go through them very often: I hate reading about my younger self.

There is in fact a great deal written about me from those early years, starting with the letter that my parents wrote in support of their application to have me attend a private school for kindergarten.  They unfortunately thoughtfully kept it for me, for what purpose I have yet to decipher.  While my father now points to the positive portions of the letter as proof that I was then who I am now (does that make sense?), I actually hate this letter.  I feel as if it makes me out to be this little monster instead of a probably pretty normal 5 year old only child.  This gem of a paragraph, which Dad wrote in his best PhD-in-childhood-development-ese, still stings:

Probably the least successful aspect of her development so far has been in developing social relationships with other children. She tends to be aggressive and self-centered.  Thus, as an only child who is very independent, she tends not to share well or to seek out relationships with other children on an equal, sharing basis.  Rather, she tends to dominate efforts of other children to relate to her.

Was what he wrote true? Absolutely. But reading about these propensities of mine in such strong, negative and almost accusatory language still gives me the feeling of failure and bad-egg-ness.  Before you get indignant on my behalf, though, know that the essay worked, I was admitted to the school and got glowing reports from kindergarten onwards before they pulled me out after third grade because it was getting expensive.  And, I now I have friends and get paid to be aggressive. Ironic, eh?

But, what strikes me now for the first time is the question: what 5 year old kid isn’t like this?  Seriously. Aren’t all kids basically self-centered, aggressive (passive or otherwise) miniature adults who are still learning the social norms and graces for maneuvering successfully in the world? Reading the letter in the past has always made me feel as if I was exceptional in this regard.  Now, though, I have to wonder if being a well-adjusted, selfless and passive 5 year old is in fact the exceptional thing.

Watching Rex grow has helped to put this all into some kind of perspective.  I’ve been reading a lot about toddlers and their behavior and I’m beginning to subscribe to the notion that the ‘bad’ behaviors of toddlers are not ‘bad’ in the way that they would be if you and I did them.  They are trying out all the world offers and it’s my job to say what is and what is not acceptable and where, not label them as self-centered or aggressive.  Above all, I’m embracing the notion that it is a phase, as in temporary, will grow out of it behavior.  Just like being a self-centered aggressive non-sharing brat was (mostly) a phase with me.  I share now, although I still hate it (but I would never tell you that to your face while you are helping yourself to my ice cream).  I am aggressive only when called for and I feel pretty confident that I’m not wretchedly self-centered, or at least any more than anyone else.

So after that stellar introduction of me to the school, what did my kindergarten teacher think about me?

She is able to be a playful little girl but readily takes on the challenges of being six years old in a competitive environment.  She is strong minded and can be quite stubborn.  She is sensitive and has a good sense of humor.  These characteristics have helped her to become a leader and much sought-after playmate.

I like this version MUCH better.

CSI: Toddler Room

There is a pint-sized biter in Rex’s toddler room.   One of those adorable little persons is sinking their fangs into the delectably chubby limbs of their unsuspecting classmates.  Rex was not in this new classroom a full week before he was a victim of the Little Chomper.  We were told that Rex had it coming attempted to pick up the other child’s sippy cup after the child had put it down  thus provoking the bite.  He came home that day with a nasty looking welt on his arm but otherwise seemed no worse for the wear.  Less than a week later, I received a call from the daycare reporting that the same child had bitten my child again! and this time, there was no apparent provocation on Rex’s part.

Not the Culprit - Via Creative Commons

Our concern for Rex’s safety soon morphed into anger that the Little Chomper was allowed to roam free in the general population after such heinous crimes against my sweet blonde cherub.  Because, now, it seemed like Rex’s bites were personal.  Little Chomper obviously had it out for my kid since LC had bitten him twice, one time of which was unprovoked.  Typical toddler behavior you say, total vampire tendencies I say. It is obvious that Little Chomper vanted my baby’s blood.

For their part, the daycare has been annoyingly adult about the whole thing.  They won’t share with us the identity of Little Chomper because they’re progressive like that or perhaps they knew that if we were told we would give the kid the evil eye every time we dropped off and picked up Rex.  And rather than put the offender in the stocks (I bet those Puritans would have obliged me) to ponder his or her biting ways, the plan going forward has been to keep Little Chomper and Rex separated in the classroom.

This plan so far seems to be working.  There have been no further biting incidents against Rex. But, Mr. X swears that Little Chomper struck again the other day and this time the victim was Rex’s BFF.  Mr. X might even have figured out the identify of the Little Chomper.  Better get those pint sized stocks ready.

Not Much Help For It

Pardon my absence my dears.  I was terribly busy getting ready for a Girls’ Weekend of Epic Proportions (5 days, 4 nights!) while taking care of Rex during another of Mr. X’s business trips.  And, then, I was on my trip and damned if I was going to spend precious vacation time on the internet when I could be doing things such as eating and drinking my way across Rhode Island, getting a pedicure, strolling through Newport, picking out my new summer cottage (just have to convince those finnicky ladies at the Preservation Society to part with it) and touring Providence.

By Hint of Plum, Via Creative Commons

On our last day, in Providence, though, it rained and rained and rained.  We were good sports for the morning, trudging through the wet streets and avoiding splashes from passing cars to go to the state house for some history and culture. It also happened to be dry which was a real plus.  Had the governor waited to greet us before being whisked off in his black SUV right before we got there, it would have been even better.  But, soon enough, there wasn’t anything else to see and we were left contemplating what we could do in Providence given the rain.  So, we did what any two ladies left to their devices would do: we went to a movie.  In the afternoon.  On a Monday.  How freaking decadent is that?

We went and saw The Help*.  I chose it.  I wanted to commune with the south and greenery if not in real life anymore (goodbye New Orleans), then at least for a few hours in a darkened theatre in Providence, of all places.  I had qualms about my choice almost immediately.  I wasn’t mentally prepared for a tear jerker and by the looks of the previews, that’s what I was in for.  In the end, what just walloped me were the babies, Mae Mobley, in particular.

Mae Mobley

So the child is a girl and I have a boy, but my boy is a little younger than Mae Mobley and has the same blonde hair and chubby features.  And all I see throughout the movie is her horrible mother neglecting her and yelling at her and spanking her.  And all I can picture is my little cherubic boy and how awful it would make me feel if he was subjected to the same treatment.  Aibilene’s love and care of Mae Mobely made my reaction that much more of an over reaction because she too recognized what a gift this child was and how she was being grievously ill-treated by the woman who was supposed to love her. And I wanted to bawl, weep and ridiculously wail during these scenes. I settled for polite sniffling and strategic eye wiping.

Later, it occurred to me that this is not normal, this over-sympathizing with a fictional character because she resembles my kid.  I know that it is a manifestation of my fear that something terrible will happen to him and I won’t be able to protect him.  The thing is, my kid is strong.  At two days old, it took 3 NICU nurses to hold him down to get a line in him.  He is also resilient. Sure, he does his little toddler-tap show of frustration when we don’t let him have his way, but he gets over it and moves on.

He is a strong little tiger (especially when he’s pushing on my throat to be let down) but for some reason, I just see him as a helpless little kitten who needs to be carried around protectively and not let out of sight.  Do bad things happen? Unfortunately, yes.  But, like a kitten with claws, my baby is not defenseless.  His shrieks could be used by the fire department for their sirens.  He can scratch with the best of them and he has recently become enamored of hitting (which we are very much trying to discourage).  We also provide him with daily doses of love – both tender and tough – that will help innoculate him from the trials of life as he gets older.

I’m finally getting over the movie – like it’s a cold or something.  I can recognize that it’s a work of fiction and my kid is fine.  But, to the producers of the movie, please consider adding a disclaimer at the beginning the film: “Neurotic mothers of babies about 2 with over-sympathazing issues should not watch this movie.”

*Nope, haven’t read the book. Before I saw the movie, I had it on my to-read list but after the movie, it got chucked in the can.  It will not do me the least bit of good to read it.

Another Beginning’s End

It was actually a fluke that I ended up being the one who dropped off Rex this morning at daycare, his last morning in the Infant Room.  Since the daycare facility is located at Mr. X’s place of employment, he usually is the one to take Rex in while I (shhh) secretly go back to bed for a few or more minutes of shut eye before beginning the day.  But, last week, we learned that Mr. X was needed out of town all of this week and so very early and not so brightly Monday morning he was off. I have been on day care run duty all week, the Transition Week.

We’ve known for a few weeks now that Rex was going to be transitioning at the end of July to the Toddler Room from his current homebase of Infant Room. This week has been spent on the actual transition process.  Monday he spent a few hours in the new classroom, Tuesday a few more and by yesterday (Thursday), he was still in the Toddler Room when I picked him up at the end of the day.  But, each day he has still started off in the Infant Room with his beloved Miss R, with today being his last day with her.

I was very aware as I dropped him off that this was the last day of donning the booties over my shoes and washing my hands before I touch anything in the classroom.  It was the last day of seeing smaller babies who aren’t able to feed themselves yet and cribs.  In a way, it was the last day of Rex’s official infancy.  I remember so well the first day that we dropped him off when he was 7 weeks old. That day, we brought him in his car seat with a pack of bottles already pre-filled with forumla. Today, he walked in and sat down at the table for breakfast.  He even tried to use the spoon.  We have all come so far.

Rex is ready to move on, though. There have been numerous reports this week of how fanatastically he has taken to the new room and how when he is back in the Infant Room, he climbs onto the tables and stands on them.  I know he’s ready and we’re ready for that next stage of development. But, we were all very close to Miss R.  She was such a comfort last summer when we felt like we were in over our heads – she knew that we were doing the best possible job and told us so.  She gave us much needed reassurance that our kid was perfectly normal, even when he was screaming and we were at our wit’s end.  This morning, she and I both got a little verklempt at our parting and her parting from Rex, one her favorites.  Rex, for his part, was way more interested in his breakfast and getting as much of it as possible on his face and clothes.

As I was leaving the campus heading back home, I remembered that earlier this week as I was driving Rex in, “Closing Time” came on the radio. This was a favorite of mine in college because, hello, closing bars was one of those Bucket List – College Edition things you just had to do (although, in truth, it’s hard to close one in New Orleans, because the bars never close. Seriously. I think my closings were elsewhere on vacation or spring breaks.) But, a lyric that I didn’t really pay much attention to in college, stood out to me this particular morning that seemed to sum up the situation perfectly:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Yeah.

Almost. ALMOST.

I sent an email to my parents earlier this week telling them that the schedule has  been set for Rex to graduate from the infant room to the Toddler Room at day care.  Huge news, probably as big as when he started to walk, and worthy of much celebration.  In that email, I confided to them that I was sad by this development – my baby is growing up and moving on, the first of many transitions from babyhood to adult.  And, I shared with them what Mr. X and I had been saying to each other for a few months now: it almost makes me want to have another one. Almost.

Mr. X has been pretty consistent about his desire to have another child.  It’s understandable – he has a brother who was born when he was 2 1/2 so he has no memory of life without a sibling.  But, he recognizes very well that I will be the one who bears the brunt of a second child.  There’s the whole pregnancy thing, the whole post-partum thing and the loss of my income, not to mention the whole infant and toddler at the same time juggling act.  This alone has given me great pause.

That being said, I know why I have been having these twinges of desire for another baby.  It’s because I feel like I missed out on so much the first time around with Rex.  I did not enjoy pregnancy in the conventional sense – I refused to have a baby shower because I was convinced that I would have it and I would lose the baby.  The same reasoning applied to the nursery.  I grudgingly allowed to have it painted and agreed to pick out a crib telling myself the entire time that we could always get rid of it if something terrible happened.  I didn’t shop for baby clothes or let myself get too invested in the emotional side of things.  I was on edge for the entire nine months.  Looking back now, I see that I was probably depressed even then. I chalked it up at the time to wonky pregnancy hormones.

When Rex arrived, of course, it was a whole other level of depression that took me a while to get out of.  During that time, I was adamant that I would not be having another baby.   That stance has softened somewhat.  I don’t recoil from infants anymore, although I do still look at their sleep deprived parents and silently thank the heavens that I am not there anymore.

I haven’t let myself begin to think about whether another baby would be a different experience.  Mr. X and I already know that we would not use heroic measures a second time around.  We’re even still on track to donate our remaining embryo.  So, a lot of the pressure that was there with Rex’s pregnancy wouldn’t be there this time. Still, will the old fears of miscarriage and terrible things happening come back?  Would I be able to get excited and enjoy the pregnancy? Hard to say.

We’ve put the cabosh on any discussions of a second child until Rex is at least 2.  So, as long as the birth control pills hold out, that leaves me eight months of further casual contemplation and enjoyment of the deliciousness that is Rex in all of his only glory.

There’s a Person In There

For as much as Rex resembles a human, his ability to communicate in the English language has been understandably lacking.  Even I, who believes that he is only months away from SAT prep, understands that grasping the spoken word can take a while when the mouth is unused to working with the tongue to form words, let alone put those words to concepts.


During this time, I’ve lumped Rex in the same category as our animals – an adorable enigma with whom I will never be able to have an intelligent, spoken conversation.  While the cats meowed and the dog barked (and barked, and barked) to tell us whatever they felt was necessary, Rex cried to express his thoughts (tired! hungry! pissed! pissed on! poopy!).  Even when his cries evolved into different cries for different situations, there was still that empty space of the one-sided conversations I would have with him.

Today, Mr. X brought Rex home from day care and reported that Rex can make the figure of a circle with his finger when you say “circle”.  He is also beginning to understand ‘down’.  He is trying to say the word sock when we tell him that we’re putting his socks on.  He is trying to say “ball”.  He says dada and mama.   My child is no Helen Keller, but damn do I feel like Anne Sullivan.  There’s a person in there! And he’s learning how to speak our language!

I feel such an amazing sense of accomplishment at this. It’s not that I am responsible for his development – I am one of a whole host of other people.  My sense of accomplishment is that I stuck it out through the infertility, the miscarriages, the post-partum depression, the sleep deprivation, the adorable enigma crying phase, to get to this point where I get to have the interactions that made me want to have a child in the first place.  I get to start communicating with and getting to know a new little person who is mine.

Go Have Your Fun

Travel with me, back to about the fall of 1996, but please – do not mention my eyebrows.  I had not yet discovered waxing, that depilatory wonder. That would happen the next year.  I was a junior in college having a phone conversation with my dad about plans for Thanksgiving.  I told him I wasn’t coming home to the most boring place on earth Maryland for the holiday because I was going to spend it with friends nearby.  Dad, wanting to guilt me for abandoning them on that most American of holidays, responded thusly: “Well, fine. Your mother and I will go to Paris!”

Via Creative Commons by Kadodee

“Have fun,” I told him, and thought nothing more of it.  I had no desire to go to Paris in November, no more than I wanted to go Maryland in November.  November is a month best spent in the south with palm trees, ice cold Bud, and a deep fried turkey.

I learned later that my dearest dad, upon hanging up the phone after our conversation, realized that the only way to save face out of this exchange – because God forbid he not save face – was to actually go with my mother to Paris. And, so they did and they loved it, of course.  This started their annual Thanksgiving holiday jaunt to Paris which grew into annual fall and spring trips which then slid into fantasizing about purchasing real estate in Paris and living there six months out of the year after they retired.  Fate decided that at that point, they should meet another American couple in Paris who had in fact fulfilled this fantasy.  This couple enabled my parents to bring their dream to fruition by introducing them to two lovely ladies who make these kind of arrangements for Americans in Paris.  About 12 years after that phone call, my parents were the proud owners of a tiny 400 square foot apartment in Paris.

How does having an apartment on the Continent work whilst maintaining a residence in the US? It’s called The Good Daughter Service.  That first summer, they still had their home in Maryland so I just handled the mail.  They had a nice young man to take care of the house and car while they were gone.  After that first summer, though, they finally made good on their threat promise to move down South to live near yours truly and the brood. They arrived permanently in November 2009 while Rex was cooking in the oven.

While Rex was cooking when they got here, he was in his full newborn glory by the time they left for Paris that next May.  I will not sugar coat what this was like when they left: it sucked. It sucked in every way possible. Two large pillars of support that we had during those crazy infant days and maternity leave haze were gone just like that.  To top it off, I was now responsible not only for my house, cars, mail, husband, and animals, but I was also responsible for their house, cars and mail.

I really resented them leaving that year.  Not only was I getting all of this extra work, I felt like they were abandoning us.  They weren’t there to see their only grandchild grow (and grow and grow) or reach those baby milestones of sitting up and crawling.  They weren’t there to see and help me be a mom. This was that first major life event of mine that they weren’t around when I felt I needed them and it hurt.  On my darker days, I was very angry with them for leaving me knee-deep in spit-up covered clothes, binkies and their AARP newsletters to frolic in Paris.

This year hasn’t been as bad simply because we have the hang of the Rex thing, we’re all sleeping pretty regularly and I’m not dealing with PPD.  But, I still find myself getting annoyed at what I have to do for them and the New Yorkers that are threatening to take over my desk.  I find myself not wanting to give them Rex updates to punish them for choosing Paris over us.  Why should I send them pictures or videos when they can’t see the real thing because they decided to live the Gallic life? Childish, I know, but I feel it nonetheless.

To them, of course, this was and is the penultimate accomplishment of their post-working lives: they are literally living the dream.  I don’t begrudge them that for a second because I know how hard they worked for it and how much they truly love it.  And, they helped us so, so much while they were here last winter.  I remind myself of this when they tell me how tired they are from trips to other parts of France  and I feel like they expect me to sympathize with them about this awful turn of events.  Or, when we Skype with them while its evening there and they are drinking large glasses of wine while I have a large glass of toddler in my lap who is trying to break my keyboard and the wine is under lock and key for another five hours.

I also just miss them. I can’t pick up the phone and just call them, which I prefer.  The scheduled Skypes every Sunday frankly just don’t cut the mustard.  Skype may be free but the delays in audio are annoying and it’s weird having my parents’ faces looming at me from the screen.  If Rex is awake and around for the conversation, I have to keep him entertained and not breaking anything technical while also trying to have an adult conversation.  And it ends up becoming yet another task that I have to do to help facilitate their fun.

I know I can control a lot of how I see this.  I can focus on the fact that we basically have two free cars – with free gas – for the summer and an entire other house if we need it.  We’re also doing a really good thing to help those people who gave up 18 years of their life for me.  And, like everything in this world, it is not a permanent arrangement.  The next 120 days – yes, I’m counting – will pass and they will return and we’ll get some time back.  In the mean time, I think I’ll see what they left in their wine cabinet.

In No Particular Order

Some random thoughts, just because.

I’m having a terrible time with writer’s block for this blog.  I have so many things swirling in my head, but every time I write something, I think it’s lame.  My delete key hasn’t seen this much action since I was in law school.  Anyone have some topics they’d like to share? Questions you’ve been dying to pose to me? I swear, the rut is making my head hurt. Even reading really good literature isn’t helping!

* * *

I love listening to the dog snore, a pleasant rumble coming from behind the couch.  I’d like to think it means that he is content and feels safe enough to snooze as oppose to him snoozing just anywhere.  It’s also a nice contrast from when he barks.  Which to his credit is not as much as it used to be, but I’m sure the plumbers at the neighbor’s house were quaking in their workboots just the same this morning.

* * *

Is the universe trying to tell me something? It took me three phone calls to request my refill for birth control pills.  The first time the system couldn’t validate my birth date.  Now, I admit that I’ve given Rex’s birthdate to the pharmacy so much now that I have to remind myself just who’s they’re asking for, but once I remember who’s it is, I know the date.  So, I don’t understand why my birthdate didn’t match Mr. Automaton’s records.  That was last night. This morning, it was my drunk dialing fingers even though I wasn’t drunk, I was just trying to do two things at once.  I got locked out the system because I couldn’t accurately type in my six digit prescription number. Really.  Once I finally did get it and Mr. Automaton was thrilled to confirm my phone number with my prescription number, he told me that the pharmacy is so damn lazy, they won’t have it ready until tomorrow morning.  I still haven’t decided if I will actually start taking the pills on Sunday.

* * *

I mailed off the paperwork for our embryo donation yesterday.  Mr. X and I had our blood drawn last week as required.  I hope that we can make another infertile couple very happy.

* * *

I am currently sporting at least two band-aids and will likely add a third here soon. First, last week I managed to get a second degree burn on my hand from pulling out a pizza from the oven.  Then, I got some random scratch on my arm that’s not looking very good. And, then this morning, I had a cortisone shot in my elbow – yes, my elbow – which hurt like a *(&^%$.  I swear, my epidural wasn’t that uncomfortable.  Has it helped?  Mmm. Jury’s still out while the elbow is on ice.  There were ominous discussions of arthritis (WTF? I’m 35!) and the possibility of having to have the offending joint ‘scoped’.  That’s in addition to my right knee which has decided to be gimpy again and has earned me an MRI.  I don’t even run anymore, so why is everything breaking now? I don’t exactly put a lot of strain on the system, you know? Ugh.

* * *

Rex celebrated his 14 month birthday today by taking 5 steps! Of course, they were at daycare, but the twinge of sadness that I feel that he had this momentous occasion without me is more than made up for by the fact that he was with his Ladies at day care who showered him in praise for his achievement.  And, when he’s ready to walk for Mama, it will still be a first – for me at least.