Monday, December 3, 2012

T Minus 2.. or 3... or 9...

So, these last days leading up to the baby’s estimated due date have been quite the emotional whirlwind for me.

Of course, like every other mama on the brink of giving birth, I have been totally anxious to feel the beginnings of labor, or receive SOME sign that the baby has decided to make his way into this world. And like every other wishful VBAC mama, I have been especially anxious, hoping that this baby’s birth might be different from my first baby’s.  In search of giving my son the gift of a natural labor, I have eaten lots of pineapple, bounced up and down on a bouncy ball, taken several long walks… I have talked to the full moon, prayed, and given myself many a pep-talk about how I CAN in fact give birth.

I have also told myself that if push comes to shove (or perhaps, more well-stated, if push DOESN’T come to SHOVE), and I need to have a second c-section in order to birth this baby, so be it. It will still be miraculous, and amazing, and will still bring us a son (god willing) that we can kiss and hug and surround with love. We have a c-section scheduled for 8 days post due date. While doing this doesn’t give us the full 14 days post due date that my midwives would normally allow, it might (again, hopefully) prevent us from running into an emergency c-section scenario similar to the one I went through with Emmy.

So this kid is “on the clock,” so to speak. He’s got 9 days to get down and get busy, and help me bring him into this world. And I’ve got the same 9 days to stay positive and keep my mind and body strong.

I do know that if I make it all the way to next Wednesday night without having gone into labor, I am going to ask my husband for a few minutes (or maybe a few more than a few minutes) to myself so that I can have what I imagine will be a well-needed sob session, allowing me to get the sadness and disappointment at not being able to birth naturally out of my system. As much as I have tried to prepare myself for the possibility of needing a second c-section, I know that if it becomes an actuality, I am going to have some real, deep sadness about it, and I want to just give myself the time and space to feel it without hesitation. Then I will wash my face, and ask my husband to take me out for a nice romantic dinner so I can clear my head, relax, and try not to stress too much about the operation that will take place the next morning.

But maybe it won’t come to that. Maybe (again, hopefully) I can go into natural birth. Nine days is a long time. Anything can happen between now and next Thursday, really.

In an effort to not put too much stress on myself, and to help myself NOT focus on the ticking clock, or every little movement in my uterus, or the possibility of what may or may not be, I am trying to focus on the right now. I am trying to concentrate on appreciating the relative simplicity of being a parent to one child. I am trying to make sure I breathe in these last few days of being able to focus my mama love on Emmy. And I am acknowledging that as much as I cannot WAIT for this baby’s arrival, part of me will totally miss THESE days, where it is just me, my husband, and my beautiful little mooshkatoo.

Ugh, there I go, crying again. T-2, or 3, or 9… it’s just such an emotional time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

You Know You Are a Mama When...


You wake up in the morning and discover a glittery foamy sticker on your belly button.

Sitting at your desk, you discover yourself softly humming the opening number from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse tv show.

The word “stiletto” is no longer in your vocabulary.

Your idea of a fancy dinner is one where you actually get to chew your food.

You start thinking “I gotta go potty” instead of “I have to use the ladies’ room.”

Your current hairstyle is “3 day old ponytail.”

You start wondering if there really ARE monsters hiding in the closet.

Your breakfast consists of the half-bitten pieces of muffin your child would not consume.

Your co-workers have sweetly nicknamed you “germfest.”

You spend much of your time daydreaming about creative ways to stain-guard your entire wardrobe.
Your grocery list is written in sky blue crayon, on yellow construction paper.

You current style icon is Fluttershy from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

You have justified the marker lines on your living room walls as “post-modern art.”

You have more “toy food” in your house than real food.

You use the word “nirvana” and “naptime” interchangeably.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night

Off to vote!
Wishing I was more educated on issues, big and small.
Grateful for what I DO know about the issues at hand.
Appreciating my right and ability to help make an important decision.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lovin’ the Library

This past week, I took the day off from work on Friday to watch Emmy while her usual caretaker, Baba (grandma), was out of town. I think I can count the number of weekdays Em and I have spent alone together on one hand. Our relationship is very close and strong, but is based mainly on time spent together on weekends and during the evenings. To have a full extra WEEKDAY together was a real opportunity.

In the morning, Em accompanied me to the DMV to take care of some not-so-thrilling car business. I felt guilty spending the first few hours of our special day waiting on line under cold fluorescent lights, surrounded by disgruntled employees, but Em really made the most of it. She swung around and sang songs to the people on line behind us, and she hopped up to the counter and curiously looked at the various machines behind the desk. She made the visit to the DMV more than tolerable, and almost… dare I say… fun?

Right after that, Em and I visited one of the local libraries for a toddler-focused “Romp N’ Read” program. When I read about the program on the library’s website, I pictured a handful of parents and their kids sitting around in a circle, with the adults quietly making small talk while the kids parallel played with their toys and chewed on their board books. I was actually relieved to see a few other moms and children entering the library building at the same time as we were, knowing that this meant we weren’t the ONLY ones showing up for the program.

Little did I know.

The “Romp N’ Read” took place in a ginormous room, and there must have been at least a gazillion kids and parents there. Honestly. A gazillion.

I was shocked.

Luckily, there were also tons of toys to be shared. It was a kind of free-for-all, grab-what-you-can-get, post-apocalyptic playtime that was definitely constantly teetering on the edge of total chaos.  

As Em and I found a small spot where we could plant our bodies, I looked around at the sea of other moms and dads. Of course, lots of parents seemed to be quite familiar with the crazy atmosphere and with one another. There were also a few newbies like me. I could tell who they were from the dumbstruck look they had on their faces when they entered the room, and from how grateful they were when other parents engaged them in a little small talk.

Em was thrilled to pieces, of course. She looked at me like I had surprised her with a trip to Disney World. She eagerly explored new, unfamiliar toys, and interacted in a limited way with the kids that surrounded her (and stepped on her, and tripped over her little body).  I observed my daughter lovingly, taking the time to really notice how much she has recently grown and developed.

Side note: at one point during this very loosely-structured playtime, I mistakenly sat down in a mysterious wet spot on the carpet. Part of me wanted to scoop Emmy off the ground and run home screaming, so I could change my clothes as quickly as possible and call my doctor to schedule a Hepatitis vaccine. The other part of me worked very hard at rationalizing the non-disgusting possibilities of what I might have sat in (lemonade?), so that I would not disturb Em’s fabulous time. Yes, I’m a good mama. And yes, I am also an idiot.

After about a half hour of free play, the “clean up” song was played and all the parents and kids diligently created order out of chaos. Then an amazingly gifted librarian corralled the children into singing and dancing a few familiar songs, and listening to some stories. I don’t know how she did it (I am quite certain magic was involved), but she somehow kept the attention of 8 billion toddlers for a full twenty minutes.

After the singing and dancing and storybook reading, the same librarian offered to stamp the children’s hands with a little picture of a turkey. Emmy was just over-the-moon about her temporary turkey tattoo.

I seriously thought about asking the librarian if I could adopt her.

After the program, Em and I spent some time in the children’s library, playing with the many toys they had on hand (I wish the library located closer to our home was as well-equipped), and reading a few books. I was surprised when I checked the time and realized we had spent over two hours in the library, and we would have to make our way home if I had any hopes of Em taking an afternoon nap.

Em didn’t want to leave. She said “This fun, mama. I want come back this again.”

And then she cried as I got her in her car seat.

“I want stay library and play little bit, mama.”

I told Em we would come back to the library and play again. And as we drove home, I had visions of Emmy and I sharing lots of library playtime together, maybe in the not-so-distant future.

Friday, November 2, 2012

If I Could Live Anywhere...

If I could live anywhere, where would I live?

This is one of those questions that, even ten years ago, would have been pretty easy for me to answer. Back then, I probably would have said something about traveling and not staying in one place for very long, about wanting to see many different cultures and lifestyles, about wanting to know what all my options were before settling down to buy a home and become part of a particular community.

That is a pre-mamahood answer, for sure. Now, even though I still have the occasional travel bug and desire to explore distant lands, the greatest factor in my desired location is the proximity it provides to family.

I spent the majority of my twenties consciously and unconsciously putting a distance between myself and my family. I suppose it was part of what I needed to do, to figure out my own direction and feel like I was making my own decisions.

Then, in my very early thirties, I returned home, at first more out of need than out of want. Since that time, and especially since becoming a mother, I've re-realized the incredible value of family, and the value of being physically close to our family. Seeing Emmy build relationships with our extended family members, through frequent visits and communication, has been one of the best parts of parenting, and one I wouldn't trade, even for an exciting trip around the world.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jumping on the NaBloPoMo Bandwagon

Seems like every third tweet I’ve read today was from one of my friends, announcing that they would be participating in the Blogher NaBloPoMo for November.

As nervous as I am about committing to a full, non-stop month of writing (never done this before – I’m a NaBloPoMo virgin), I figure I might as well TRY it out.

Nothing to fear but fear itself, right?

Which, by the way, is NOT my favorite quote. Today’s writing prompt is to write about a favorite quote.

And while I love the idea of fearing nothing, it simply isn’t plausible. There are actually plenty of things to fear in life, and I think fear, within reason, can be motivating.

But one favorite quote of mine, which I stumbled upon just a little while ago:

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
W.B. Yeats

Because even though I am 37 years old, I like to think of the world as a wonderful, wonder-filled place. I like to think that as much as we discover – about ourselves, about the universe, about teeny weeny microcosms and huge, vast macrocosms, there will still be a mystery to life that escapes our grasp and our ability to explain.

As a mother, I hope I can help open my children up to the wonder and magic of the world. I hope that as a family, we don’t get so caught up in everyday moments, that we fail to let our senses key in to the extraordinary.

And at the risk of sounding super hippie-dippie, I DO think that as humans we need to open ourselves up to our own ability to wonder, to allow ourselves to daydream a little more, to think a little less, and to just BE, with all our senses tuned in to the magic around us. It’s certainly not easy to do these days, but it is something to aspire to.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Preparing for Childbirth, in the 21st Century

To start off with, let me make this perfectly clear. I am NOT going to take a video of myself in labor, and post it for the world to see on YouTube. The world does NOT want to see that kind of crazy, trust me. THAT kind of crazy is reserved for the people I really love and really want to scar for life (i.e, my husband).

Nor am I going to Skype with you between contractions. At least, I probably won’t Skype with you between contractions. If my husband gets sick of my squatting and groaning and leaning on him, all the while singing “Fergalicious,” and decides he needs to lock himself in the bathroom for half an hour, I may search you out on Skype. And you’d better be there to sing along with me.

I HAVE already created a Pandora radio station specifically for the baby’s birth. I actually found out from the tour of our birth center that they will even play my music of choice during a c-section, if it comes down to that. Of course, when I heard this, all I could envision was my operating doctors breaking out into a flash mob at a most inconvenient time, and Howie Mandel frolicking into the operating room, grabbing my little newborn baby and swinging him enthusiastically in the air.

Anyway, my Pandora station is pretty mellow, so I am kind of hoping that in labor, I will be responsive to calming, soothing music. If not – if I really need to hear “Get Your Freak On” as I bear down and push, I’ve got an alternative station in the works. 

I have also loaded my kindle up with lots of stupid games that I can play in an effort to distract myself as my cervix “blooms” and my uterus contracts. What’s that you say?  I should use my kindle to download stimulating and thought provoking books, or meditations to help me through the labor? I suppose I SHOULD do that, too. As soon as I am done with this game of solitaire…

I will not be blogging from the hospital. I WILL probably be taking notes for future blog posts, a la “ten crafts you can create using hospital-grade mashed potatoes.”

I probably WON’T update my Pinterest boards while I’m in labor. But if I can somehow figure out how to make a lacey paper lamp shade out of my hospital gown, well… let’s just say you’ll know.

Sure, sometimes I think it might be best to just NOT bring any of this nonsense into the labor room with me, so I can concentrate completely on just being in the zone, you know? That I should strip myself of all the “noise” and just tune in to my primal self, and the magnificent moment of bringing life into this world…

But then that thought gets interrupted by a great song playing on my Pandora station.



Friday, October 19, 2012

10 Conversations NOT to Have Around a Pregnant Woman

Maybe I’m just being sensitive.

Scratch that. I am DEFINITELY being sensitive.

But it seems that lately I have noticed how inappropriate certain conversations are when they are being held in the company of a very pregnant woman (ahem, ahem). Of course, I can’t exactly tell people to STOP talking about the things they ENJOY talking about. But perhaps I can suggest to the general public that, when you are standing around a woman with a ginormous prego bump who is desperately clenching her belly while a five pound creature does jumping jacks in her uterus, it would be best to veer away from specific subjects.

So.. ta da!… here is my list of TEN conversations you should NOT have around a very pregnant woman:

·         Conversations about how much your abs are killing you from the intense workout you did yesterday.

·         Conversations about that amazing, child-free, month-long vacation on a faraway island you and your significant other are planning.

·         Conversations about skinny jeans.

·         Conversations about your unbelievable, very frequent, sex life.

·         Conversations about perfect bladder control.

·         Conversations about how you enjoy turning the presidential debates into drinking games.

·         Conversations about how much your paper cut has been bothering you for the last two days.

·         Conversations about how hot you will look in your sexy Big Bird Halloween costume.

·         Conversations about what a horrible winter we are going to have, and how likely we are to get transportation-halting snowstorms that will prevent easy travel to hospitals.

·         Conversations about the deliciousness of sushi and unpasteurized cheese.

Of course, there are many non-taboo subjects that are perfectly fine for conversation around an enormously pregnant woman. Here is just a sampling of “green light” topics:

·         Conversations about how fun it is to babysit for newborns.

·         Conversations about how going to the movies/going out to dinner/going to the theater is incredibly overrated.

·         Conversations about how LESS sleep is actually better for us than MORE sleep.

·         Conversations about how wonderful NOT dieting is.

Hope you find my list incredibly helpful. Feel free to chime in with your suggestions.

Friday, October 12, 2012

For My Beautiful Emmy, on Your Second Birthday:

Oh, Em. I can’t believe you are already turning two years old. It really does seem like just a few days ago, Dada and I were bringing you home from the hospital, all bundled up and looking like a very teeny tiny confused pilot, tucked inside your car seat.

Your birth changed our lives in the most unbelievable ways. Sure, Dada and I haven’t exactly gotten LOTS of sleep the past two years, and maybe our family dinners aren’t always the most relaxing meals, but these are small sacrifices, and totally worth the trade-in for the enormous joy you have brought to our family.

I imagine that some years from now, you might be curious as to  what kind of a child you were as a two year old, so I am going to try my best to tell you a little bit about the beautiful girl you have become.

First of all, you absolutely adore music. You love singing. You love dancing. When you wake up in the morning, you want to watch videos of your favorite songs, like “Rain Rain Go Away” and “I’m a Little Teapot”. You often ask us to join you in dancing around the living room along with you and Elmo. You want to listen to “On top of Spaghetti” eight times on our ride to and from daycare.  I love watching you through the rearview mirror, mouthing the words and bopping your head to the music. Music is in your blood, it is part of who you are.

You have an incredible vocabulary for a two year old. Dada and I are constantly amazed by the words that come out of your mouth, and your ability to communicate your thoughts, your needs, and your feelings with us. It really is astounding. We don’t know how you’ve developed your language skills so quickly, since we never really “pushed” words on you, but you make us very proud, with your little voice and big words.

You are very curious. Your most often repeated sentence is “What happened??” You also say the word “again!!” an awful lot.

You have a few fears, which is to be expected. You don’t seem to like monsters much, or the little holes in between the tiles just above the bathtub. You don’t like going into a dark room by yourself. But you have no fear of doggies or other animals. When we’ve visited farms, you have enthusiastically tried to feed and make friends with the goats, the cows, and the chickens. And even when, just recently, a little baby piggy bit your finger when you were trying to feed him, you were upset, but after a short break you went right back to petting the piggy.

You love “big girl” bath time, where you can pretend to swim around in the water with all of your bath time friends. You love splashing the water so that mama and dada (and the bathroom floor) get wet. And you love lining up your rubber duckies on the edge of the bathtub, so they can all sing “happy birthday” together.

You hate having your feet covered when you are sleeping. I try to bundle you up at night, to make sure you stay nice and warm, but within minutes of covering you with a blanket, you squirm your little feet out from under the blanket. I remember doing the same thing when I was a little girl.

At school, it seems you like to hang out by your teachers, observing your classmates as they play with their toys. We are not sure if you are just shy around other kids, or slightly overwhelmed… but your teachers love you and are happy to stay by your side, which seems to make you happy.

At Baba’s house, you like to create beautiful works of art using magic markers and stickers. You like putting the stickers on the paper, then drawing over the stickers, and then drawing lines between the stickers, making them “friends”.

And my favorite thing of all… when you are falling asleep at night, after I have sung you lullabies, you ask to hold my hand while I sit in the rocker right next to your bed. And after a while of squirming, and many sips of water, and whispered conversations between you and your tiger puppet, you fall asleep, with your fingers wrapped around mine.

I love you with all my heart, Emmy. I am such a proud mama, and can’t thank you enough for being such a wonderful daughter.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sleep? Who Needs It?... And What Day is it Again??

Pregnancy is not kind on the sleep cycle. Neither is a two year old child. So the combination of being pregnant and having a toddler has translated into my averaging about 4.5 hours of sleep a night, as of late.  I’ve heard lots of conventional wisdom about establishing an evening routine as a family, so that everyone can get some much needed rest.


We have tried, I swear.

For your amusement, here’s a glimpse at our evening rituals and sleep schedule (if you can even call it that):

6:30 pm – feed “la familia.” C and I have tried to make a habit of eating dinner as a family, at the dining room table. Up until recently, we were all eating dinner around our little family room coffee table (a ritual that bled over from our pre-parenthood days), which meant that Em would be up and down, up and down, climbing on the table, and trying to play “catch” with us using various toy-like objects while we ate. C and I would be stuffing bites of food in our mouths while simultaneously feeding Emmy AND entertaining her with hand puppet shows, sticker projects, and circle games. Needless to say, it wasn’t very pleasant.

Not that what we have going nowadays is any better. While dinnertime starts out LOOKING like it may actually be a civilized meal, it quickly (and I mean within seconds) descends into chaos, with Emmy reaching her little legs out from under her high chair, kicking our dining room table, screaming “I ALL DONE! I wanna go POTTY! I wanna BIG GIRL BATH! I wanna ALL DONE! I wanna DUCKIES!”

Peaceful, it is not.

7:00 pm – Potty time! Yes, we know that Emmy is using the potty as an excuse to get down from her highchair (conniving little bugger), but we cannot run the risk (and subsequent guilt complex) of her pooping in her diaper at the dinner table when the potty is located just a few steps away. So we take her to the potty, read her twelve books, and sing “where is thumbkin?” ninety seven times while she poops.

7:15 pm - Give Em a “big girl bath”. I have heard from multiple sources that a bath is one way of establishing a night time routine for a baby/toddler. Em LOVES her bath. I kind of love the bath too, because it keeps our daughter in a relatively confined space for as long as it takes her fingers to turn into little raisins. C and I switch off on who is on bath patrol, while the other one washes the dinner dishes and sneaks shots of hard alcohol (kidding, folks. I’ve had like one beer in the past 7 months. I have, however, often DAYDREAMED about sneaking shots of hard alcohol while doing the dishes).

7:30 pm – Get Em into her pajamas, convincing her that she looks like a princess despite the fact that she is wearing flannel bottoms that are more suitable for an 83 year old man.

7:40 pm – Tell Emmy it is too late to go on her bouncy bounce (trampoline) outside. Tell Emmy it is too late to take out the blocks and build towers. Tell Emmy it is too late to eat a cupcake. Tell Emmy it is too late to start rearranging all of the furniture in our house (all this is done while trying to convince Emmy to eat the dinner she deserted earlier in the evening).

7:50 pm – Watch Emmy’s favorite Youtube music videos. Yes. Our daughter loves Youtube. Try not to judge. She is an avid fan of Mr. Mike, who sings “the itsy bitsy spider” and “baby bumblebee” and THIS video which seems to feature Hitler as a finger puppet (no, I did NOT search for “Hitler finger puppet” in order to find this gem). I spend most of my this time trying to figure out if Mr. Mike is Italian or Jewish.

8:10 pm – Brush Emmy’s teeth (thank god, this is the one simple night ritual we have actually established. Emmy seems to not mind having her teeth brushed, and sometimes actually seems to enjoy it).

8:15 pm – I get Emmy into bed, and sing her three lullabyes while she tries to sneak her hand down my shirt to grab my booby (yes, still, after almost two years, my boobies are a great source of comfort to Emmy… and I am still trying to wean her from her boob-grabbing ways).

8:45 pm – Wonder if my daughter will EVER go to sleep. She has spent the last half hour tossing and turning, talking to her Mickey Mouse dolls, and asking for 18 sips of water. Put my head down on her bed, close my eyes, and doze off for thirteen minutes…

8:58 pm – Wake up to the baby (inside) kicking me in the ribs. Realize Emmy is asleep, and try to sneak out of the room as quietly as possible.  Find husband asleep on the couch (or alternatively, playing a video game in which he is supposed to create beautiful pieces of pottery. I’m not even kidding).

9:00 pm – With thirteen minutes of sleep under my belt, I don’t feel sleepy anymore. Also, with the  baby inside me having decided that NOW is the right time to practice his routine for So You Think You Can Dance, the prospect of peaceful sleep seems highly unlikely. So I live vicariously through my unpregnant friends on Facebook, and through the crazy ladies on Real Housewives of New York City.

11:00 pm – Baby finally calms down. Restless leg syndrome begins.

11:45 pm – After shaking my legs for 45 minutes, and getting up to pee three times, I am finally able to fall asleep. 

1:30 am – Emmy wakes up and cries for mama. I wake up and stumble over to her bed, put her back to sleep. Then I fall asleep on the floor next to her bed, with my head on her mattress.

2:00 am – Emmy wakes up and cries for mama. I take her into bed with me, and we both sleep very soundly for 2.75 hours. Woo hoo!

4:50 am – Emmy wakes up and asks immediately for her Mickey Mouse dolls. I get her Mickey Mouse dolls. Emmy asks for water. I get her water. Emmy asks for a muffin.  I tell her it is still nighttime, and too early for a muffin. Emmy cries. I FEEL like crying, but concentrate on getting her to lie down next to me for at least 30 more minutes. Tactics of coercion include: snuggling, singing, and putting Blues Clues on the t.v.

5:45 am – Emmy’s desire for a muffin turns into desperation. There is no denying her a muffin. “Give me muffin or give me death!” she cries. She MUST have a muffin. And the day must begin.

So all this, my dear friends,  is just a way of explaining why, when you see me in public, and I don’t seem to know my name, and I have a toothbrush sticking out of my hair, and I can’t seem to find my car even though it is right in front of my face, there is a reason.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Embracing the Tiger

I’ve got to be honest. I’ve been rather lackadaisical about this second pregnancy. I mean, getting preggers again after only 18 months since Em’s birth has made me feel pretty “been there, done that” about this whole thing. I’ve actually felt quite guilty about my lack of nervousness and anticipation.

But now, with a little over 10 weeks to go, that famous nesting instinct is starting to kick in pretty seriously. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways we can make our home more comfortable, more safe, more baby-friendly. I make lots of lists: lists of what we should pack in our hospital bag, lists of positions I should get into when laboring, lists of important phone numbers, lists of music I might want to listen to in the hospital (Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Eddie Vedder, Regina Spektor…), lists of important things to remember when caring for a newborn… lots of lists, to help me feel like I’m a prepared mama. And with every list I make, I get more and more excited about the little monkey’s arrival.

Well, excited AND nervous.

Quite nervous, to be honest.

If all goes well, this pregnancy will end in one of two ways: I will give birth to this baby naturally, or the baby will be delivered via c-section (my second). I’m kind of nervous about both options.

I never got to experience natural birth with Em. I never felt a single (uninduced) contraction. My water was manually broken by my midwife. I never got to see what my body was capable of in terms of birthing unassisted. So I don’t know what labor REALLY feels like. I keep giving myself pep talks, telling myself that my body is more than capable of labor, that I am strong, that women worldwide have been doing this for eons and eons. That if it is meant to be, my body is meant to deliver this baby. I think of other women who have labored naturally, and say to myself, “if they can do it, SURELY I can do it.”

If my body does not go into labor naturally, or the uterus issue which may have prevented Em from being born naturally pops up again, I will be undergoing a second c-section. I wasn’t a big fan of my first c-section. I found being numbed from neck to toe disconcerting, to put it mildly. I found not being able to feel myself breathing, due to the spinal anesthetic, more than disconcerting – it made me feel panicky and helpless. So when I think about going through the same procedure again, I give myself more pep talks. I tell myself I already know what to anticipate, which should make me less fearful. I tell myself that when I go through the same procedures and yucky feelings, I can concentrate on the positive, and focus on the fact that I will be holding my baby within minutes of his delivery.

Sometimes the pep talks work, and sometimes they don’t.

So, inspired by my nervousness about both impending scenarios, I have decided to work on a project. I am going to create an image of a tiger that I will take with me to the hospital.

Why, you ask? (or maybe you don't, but I'm gonna tell you anyway)

Back when I lived in L.A., I attended a seminar on Joseph Campbell and his writings on the mythic hero. The instructor of the seminar was wonderful, and compared mythic stories from multiple cultures, as a means of showing the commonalities between each culture’s concept of “hero”.

This was of course years and years ago, so I remember very little about the specific stories, but I DO remember one story (I think from Chinese culture) about a hero who was very afraid of a tiger chasing him, until he was instructed by his mentor to turn around and embrace the tiger he so feared. When the hero finally mustered up the courage and turned around to embrace the tiger, the tiger disappeared.

I’ve had this little story stuck in my head for years now.

It’s a story that informs my parenting. When Em is scared of the dark, or a buggy, or something else unfamiliar, I try to show her how not to turn away from the thing that is scaring her, but to face it head on, and discover that it is not actually so scary after all.

And now I have the opportunity to embrace my own tiger. I have the opportunity to not only face, but embrace my own fears, and recognize that they are a product of my own mind.

So I am going to make myself a little image of a tiger, to take with me to the hospital. When I feel myself getting nervous, I will use the image of a tiger as a focal point, as a reminder that I should run toward my fears, and not away from them. Hopefully this will help my fears disappear.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Moon and the Stars

As I have mentioned before, one of the best things about parenting is that it gives me the opportunity to re-discover the wonder of the world through my child’s eyes. Things that I have taken for granted for years upon years now suddenly have become fascinating again, as my daughter realizes and discovers them for the first time.
For the past three nights, pre-bedtime, Emmy has asked us if she can go outside to see the moon and the stars. She has become super excited about walking around in the dark,  searching the sky for that glowing orb of light. So after bath time, with her hair towel-dried and dressed in her footed pajamas, C and I take Emmy out into our yard, and we stand together and gaze at the night sky.  Em asks for big family hugs, and we huddle together and move in teeny steps, as a unit, admiring all the twinkling above us.  
Of course, mother nature hasn’t totally cooperated – it seems the moon is currently nearing its new moon phase, and therefore (as we discovered by googling moon phases) we cannot see the moon in our night sky. But despite the moonlessness, the moments have still been unbelievable – breathing in the fresh air of the evening, listening to the crickets sing their songs, feeling the wet grass between our toes…
Last night the stars were quite bright and brilliant, and after Em was asleep in her bed, C and I went outside again to try and find the constellations that are familiar to us (C is SO much more knowledgeable than I am in this area). I was particularly interested and excited to find a certain constellation, and to hear from my husband that this constellation will be hanging directly over our roof come wintertime. It seemed like the world was giving us a gift.
Back inside, I told C how much I loved this little nightly ritual we have. C said he couldn’t believe how long it has been since he’s taken time to really look at the stars.
I remember the last time he and I stargazed together… shortly after we’d started dating, we walked to a local park, and sat together in a field of tall grass, in our hooded sweatshirts, looking at the late October night’s sky. I remember how thrilling it was to feel so in love, and loved, and how that made the world’s brilliance even more magical.
Similarly, these past three nights, it’s been breathtaking, to be in my husband’s arms, with our little girl between us, and our son in my body, re-noticing the magic of life.

Friday, August 17, 2012

No More "F" Bombs for Mama

Well, folks, the day has arrived. Em has transformed from a person to a parrot, a toddler-voiced echo that follows C and I around the house. Many of our conversations go like this:
“Emmy, it’s time for you to brush your teeth,” says I.
“Bruthh your TEETH!” says Em.
“Make sure to go up and down with the toothbrush, ok?” says I.
“Up and down. Up and down!” says Em. For a few seconds, she actually seems to do something akin to brushing her teeth, before she just starts sucking on her toothbrush again.
“Where are your shoes, Em?” says I.
“Where are shoes? Shooooo-ooooooes. Where ARE you? Shoes hiding” says Em.
“Maybe they are in your room?” says I.
“In your room” says Em, wandering off to HER room to see if she can find her sandals.
And so it continues.
Now, I should say, Em doesn’t ONLY repeat the words we say. She’s definitely got a mind of her own, and lots of words to help her voice her opinions.
Many a times, on our ride home from daycare, she will start a monologue of “wants”, a la “I want water (I give her water)… I want juice (I don’t have any juice, Em. Drink the water)… I want keys (I can’t give you my keys, Em. I need them to drive)… I want apple (I don’t have an apple Em. I’m sorry)… I want pizza (maybe you can have pizza for dinner, when we get home)… I want hug (mama wants to hug you too, Em, but I can’t hug you while I’m driving)”
But it’s Em’s enthusiasm for repeating words that has me scared s*&%less (see, I’m already self-editing). While I’m no potty-mouthed mama, I definitely let the occasional “f-bomb” slip out, or get a little crass when talking to my hubby.
Now I have these immense fears that, if I am not super careful, Em is going to mimic… you know, THOSE words. And if she starts using THOSE words, I’m in deep doo doo.
I envision picking Em up at daycare, and suddenly noticing that all of her teachers are giving me the stink eye. I envision her head teacher taking me aside and explaining that SOME words are inappropriate for 22 month olds to be using, and that it might affect Emmy’s classmates in an adverse way if she continues to say “I want my f^&^ing lunch, please!”
And what about the supermarket? How embarrassing it would be for me if, while strolling my daughter through the produce aisle, with Emmy attracting the smiles and waves of strangers, she loudly proclaims “I love this s%^*!”
Yeah, I’ve definitely got to put the lid on the loose lips, and say farewell to the “f” bombs. From now on, I’ll need to get creative, calling things “blinking horrible” and exclaiming “son of a biscuit” when I stub my toe.
Well, at least I can still swear on my blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not-So-Great Expectations

Me and the hubby, pre-first-pregnancy, living life to its fullest.
So silly. So crazy. So UNpregnant.

Pre-pregnancy, I had certain expectations for what I should accomplish in any given day. For instance, I tried most days to get to the gym, or to at least go for a walk outside on my lunch break. I would try to look semi-presentable at all times. I would aim to eat healthy meals, and not survive on coffee alone.  I would try to post a blog on an almost daily basis. These were basic expectations, nothing too lofty, extravagant or ambitious. If I met these expectations, I would be able to check that day off as a “good day”.


Oh, how things have changed…

I’ve come up with a short list of my new expectations. Because now, at five months pregnant, it’s a good day when:

·         I don’t throw up all over the passenger seat of our car on my way into work (grabbing huge wads of baby wipes to try and contain the disaster area)

·         I manage to bring all of Emmy’s belongings, and Emmy, into her daycare without spilling several items onto the sidewalk on our way into the building (yeah, I’m a little off balance these days)

·         I walk up the two flights of stairs at work without becoming completely breathless

·         I don’t yell at anyone in a sudden burst of pregnancy hormonal-ness “You think YOU’VE got problems??? Is there a small being growing inside you, kicking your ribs every few minutes? Is a wee little alien doing cartwheels in your lower regions? No, I didn’t think so!”

·         I cough or sneeze and DON’T pee in my pants (yes, I am doing my kegels)

·         Emmy doesn’t try to kill her baby-brother-to-be by jumping on or kicking my tummy

·         A person doesn’t gasp when I tell them my huge belly is only five months preggers  (yup, lady. That’s right. I’ve got another 120 days to go. And yes, I am SURE it’s not twins).

·         I don’t accidentally drop mustard from my lunch sandwich onto my shirt, making my belly look like a big bullseye

·         I manage to poop without feeling like I am going to birth this baby right into the toilet (sorry, that’s probably TMI)

·         I can watch a tv commercial that has anything very cute (a baby, a bunny, a baby bunny, etc.) without crying

·         I DON’T secretly wish my husband was the one who was pregnant, so I could drink a very large glass of wine

And let’s face it. It’s only going to get better. Cause I know that in four months time, my expectations for a good day are going to look something like this:

·         Get more than three hours of sleep at night (not necessarily in a row)

·         Say at least one coherent sentence every 10 – 12 hours

·         Take a two minute shower at least once every two days. Ok, maybe every three days.

·         Remember my name

·         Wear something other than a bathrobe (especially when traveling outside the house)

So, what are YOUR expectations for a good day?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Flowers in Our Bellybuttons

My daughter has a magical way about her.

She can get people to do all sorts of things that I would NEVER in a million years be able to get people to do.

Like last week, when the three of us made an impromptu visit to my in-laws one late afternoon. Em asked her grandmother, Baba, to help her pick a few flowers from their garden. After picking a few colorful blooms, the two returned to where we were all sitting and relaxing on the deck, and Em generously gave each of us a flower to hold (proud mama moment).

But THEN Em had a second request. She wanted all of us to stick our flowers in our belly buttons.

Which we did. Of course.

Now, if I had been the one to ask my father-in-law to stick a daisy in his belly button? Surely he would have laughed in my face, doubted my sanity, and started questioning his son’s reasoning in choosing me as a wife (I am giving myself the benefit of the doubt, hoping that I haven’t previously given my father-in-law reason to question my husband’s taste in women).

But EMMY made the request. So there we all sat, with our shirts pulled up halfway and flowers sticking out of our belly buttons, as we continued having adult conversation about house mortgages and home repairs.

Emmy’s magic continued this past weekend, when we visited my extended side of the family down in Jersey.

On the first night, Em was able to get my mom and dad to pretend they were frogs, yelling “Ribbit Ribbit” as they hopped in a squatted position through their living room and dining room. She also got us all to march around the entire apartment in a parade-like fashion, singing songs and clapping.

On Saturday, Em somehow got her great grandparents (who are in their eighties and nineties, god bless them) to do splits and perform other gymnastic feats in their kitchen. To be honest, I was kind of worried that the afternoon was going to end badly, and that I would be writing a much less humorous post about how Emmy had caused her great grandmother to need emergency hip surgery.

On Saturday night, Em got my aunt and uncle to talk in funny voices as they animated one of Em’s little stuffed animals.

I love not only being around my daughter, but also being around other adults in the company of my daughter. Emmy doesn’t understand why it would be uncouth for us to sit around with flowers in our bellybuttons, or why it WOULDN’T be the most fun thing ever for my parents to pretend they are leaping frogs, or why her great-grandparents might not generally think about doing splits and spinning around and around on a slippery linoleum floor. But because there are no limits to how Em thinks we adults should behave, it frees us up to feel and act like children again. So we carry on like kids, our silliness filling us with laughter, as Em claps her hands in delight, shouting “Again! Again!”

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Letter to Monkey, My Beautiful Boy

Dear Monkey:

In about 4 months, if all goes well and according to our plans and hopes, you will be born into this world and into our family. I am a very very excited mama. I just can’t wait to meet you and hold you in my arms.

You seem to have quite a bit of energy! You move your little body around inside me all the time, and make your presence known (especially when I am sitting on the couch at night). From the sonograms I have seen so far, you really like rolling around, and waving your hands in the air, and kicking your feet a whole lot. I think you are really going to keep dada and me on our toes!

Your sister, Emmy, doesn’t quite seem to understand that you will be joining our family. I try to tell her that you are hiding in my belly, or sleeping inside me, but I know it is hard for her to really realize you are in there when she can’t see you. Sometimes she does try to share her pacifier with you, through my belly button. From the way she treats her favorite bears and other animals with so much love, I am sure she is going to be an incredible sister. I think she will want to hold you and kiss you all the time, and I am certain she will enjoy singing songs to you, like Twinkle Twinkle and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Every night, before you go to bed, I plan to sing you one of MY favorite songs, called Beautiful Boy by John Lennon. Probably, if I sing it to you enough times, you will know the words by heart. My hope is that if I sing it to you enough times, you will also know the words IN your heart, and will always know how very much you are loved.

I love you, even now, with all my heart.

Beautiful Boy - by John Lennon

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's (mama’s) here 

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy 

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better 


Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go
But in the meantime 

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans 


Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better 

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On Amusement Parks and I-Phone Obsessed Parents

So I was a brave mama and took Em to Six Flags Great Escape this past Saturday. Despite the fact that we got a later start than I had hoped (thanks to a big old nail that made its way through our car tire), we had a really great time.
Sure, there were some stressful moments. Lunch, for instance, was a bit chaotic. Trying to balance our tray of food, the stroller, my bags, and Emmy as we searched for a vacant table was quite challenging, to say the least. Then, as soon as we sat down at a table, Em grabbed and squeezed a packet of honey mustard sauce, so that it exploded all over her legs (which she then rubbed into her skin like it was sun lotion). Also, most of the apple juice from Em’s juice box somehow ended up in my lap, which of course was lots of fun. And did I mention the grilled chicken on the sandwich I had ordered was room temperature? Pretty much salmonella on a bun – so I decided NOT to eat it (I’d kind of like to make it through the pregnancy without a bout of food poisoning).  To top it all off, the meal cost us the equivalent of a mortgage payment. You gotta love amusement park vendor pricing.
But aside from our less than stellar lunch experience, the afternoon at the park went really smoothly and was, dare I say, actually kind of relaxing? Em and I went on several tot-appropriate rides, including a boat ride on a swan, a train ride through the woods (both moved at a snail’s pace, but Em didn’t seem to mind or get bored), a journey in a miniature-sized antique car, and a few spins around a big ferris wheel (gotta admit, I got a little scared on this one, since there was absolutely no harness or belt-like apparatus keeping us in our ferris wheel pod, and me and my squirmy 21 month old were swooped WAYYY high up in the air).
Em had the most fun in the amusement park’s little water park areas, where water spurted up from the ground at random intervals, and sprayed out of other apparatus in sudden bursts. She ran around, getting soaking wet, clapping her hands and dancing. I love seeing my daughter totally overwhelmed with happiness. There is just nothing like it.
It was a great time, really.
But I have to get something off my chest. Something that really bugged me.
On multiple occasions, throughout the park, I saw parents of children choosing to immerse themselves in their i-phones or blackberrys, rather than concentrating on having fun with their kids.
 In one instance, we were standing in a line, waiting to ride in one of the little miniature-sized antique cars. In front of us was a five year old(?) kid and his mother. The kid was SO excited about the ride they were about to go on. He was talking and jumping up and down and wiggling with anticipation.  He was talking about which color car he hoped he was going to drive. He was telling his mom that he was going to be brave and ride in a mini-car all by himself. And his mom pretty much IGNORED him the entire time. She was, instead, totally engrossed in some i-phone app, or maybe posting to her twitter account or something.
 I thought for sure she would at least put the phone away once they got on the ride, but nope! She had her eyes glued to her phone throughout the length of the ride. In my humble opinion, it was ridiculous.
I wish I could say I only saw this kind of parental behavior once during our visit, but I saw it multiple times.
I think back to when I was a kid, when we would (on very rare occasion) go to an amusement park as a family. A huge part of the fun of visiting an amusement park was being able to share the excitement, the thrills, and yes, even the post-ride feelings of nausea, with my parents. I just can’t imagine it would be any fun for a kid to visit a park and have a parent who is not just unenthusiastic, but COMPLETELY disengaged from the amusement park experience while there. It really just makes me sad to think about.
The irony is that the mommies and daddies who are on their i-phones and blackberries at the amusement park are probably tweeting: So much fun @GreatEscape with my kid! #amusementpark. But if they actually just got OFF their phones and participated in the excitement with their kids, they might ACTUALLY have some fun.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I didn’t sleep very well on Friday night. To be honest, I was up until 1 am, in bed, watching news coverage of the tragedy in Aurora (probably not the smartest thing for me to do).
These kinds of senseless killings definitely shake me to the core. It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a young man can go SO COMPLETELY off his rocker that he is compelled to go on a killing spree, ending the lives of innocent people.
It freaks me out. A lot.
I know that the media is going to try and explain James Holmes’ to me, and will come up with a thousand different theories about his possible motives. But despite all of the professional explanations and shared “expertise,” in my heart it still won’t make any sense, or give me comfort in a “oh. Now I get it,” kind of a way. Because it is all terribly complicated, and there are some things that are just soulfully inexplicable.
While I was watching the news, Emmy was in bed with me, totally submerged in a deep slumber. Her face was perfectly peaceful, so blissfully unaware of the craziness in this world. I kept looking away from the t.v. set to watch Em sleep, and then turning from her sleeping face back to the horrors on the television.
My daughter is blessed with the innocence of a twenty-one month old. Her world is made up of stuffed animals that talk in funny voices, rides on dada’s shoulders, and happy music that encourages her to clap her hands and dance in circles. She has no reason to worry, because mama and dada are here for her, and will kiss her boo-boos, guide her away from danger, and hug her whenever she feels scared.
But how long do we have before the innocence fades? How many years before Em comes home from school, or from one of her friends’ houses, with a story about a mean person who did bad things? How long before she starts asking questions about things she hears adults talking about, or news stories she overhears?
I wish I could keep my daughter in a little bubble of innocence. I wish I could make it so that she would never have to experience adult-sized fear or sadness or anxiety.  I really wish I could somehow give her a life in a world that has no such thing as senseless killings.
But of course I can’t. All I can do, as a mama, is be there for Em when she realizes that the world is not all rainbows and Elmo. All I can do is hold Em’s hand as her scope starts widening, and she starts taking in the totality of the world around her. All I can do is listen to her, and talk to her, and try to explain things to her, but also let her know that sometimes things happen in the world that are simply inexplicable.
P.S. One of my high school friends, Ben Coccio, directed what I think is a stellar film, Zero Day, about two high school students planning an attack on their school (directed in the wake of the atrocity in Columbine). The film does a phenomenal job showing the multidimensionality and complexity of the situation, and is totally disturbing in a very sensitive, very amazing way. I would highly recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can I Trade Dreams With You?

So last night I had another one of my crazy pants pregnancy dream nights, where I basically felt submerged in a David Lynchian world for the eight hours I was in bed. Now normally, I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a wonderworld of red velvet curtains and ambient noise-music, but the dreams I was having were just NO GOOD.
The dream I remember the most (you know, the kind of dream that just sticks to you like glue, even after you wake, and you go around the whole next day in a foggy, “did-that-really-happen” headspace) was about my husband leaving me, and taking Em with him, and it was SO freaking sad that I woke myself up crying. I remember during part of the dream I was at my grandparents’ former house in Long Island (only it wasn’t QUITE my grandparents’ home, because the staircase was a lot more twisty/scary), and I kept trying to call C (who had already left me heartbroken) on these various cell phones I was finding all around the house. None of the cell phones would work correctly! Each button I pressed came out a different number or a letter, which made it totally impossible for me to ever reach C. Then I heard my grandmother talking on the phone in a different room in a quiet tone.  When I found her (after an unnecessarily long search), I asked who she was speaking to and she said she was talking to Emmy. I basically lunged at the phone, grabbing it out of my grandmother’s hands, but when I put it to my ear, I could only hear a dial tone. At that moment I was overwhelmed with this complete feeling of dread, like I had lost my husband and daughter forever. That’s when I woke myself up in a fit of tears.
Yuck! I mean, seriously, brain. Can’t you be a little more kind to me? I’ve only got, like, four hours per night of good sleep these days, between Emmy’s waking, and my constantly needing to get up to pee, and adjusting my blankets to accommodate my ever-changing body temperature. It would be nice if you would just throw me a bone and let me have dreams about pastel ponies and balloon rides and enormous bowls of cereal.
So, folks, did you have a particularly good dream last night that you might be willing to trade with me? I’m hoping you might be able to give my brain some less disturbing thoughts to work with tonight, during my four good hours of sleep. J