Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grunge is Bed

Once upon a time in a thrift store in Seattle, a mother bought a pair of used Dr. Martens for her baby son. They were a size 8, and seemed impossibly huge, especially considering the fact that her son was four months old, with feet the length of her thumb.

But they were a three dollars. You can't go too wrong for three dollars. So she bought them--thinking someday he'd wear them despite their impossible hugeness--and brought them home, where she put them on a high shelf above the changing table, and promptly forgot about them. Until, almost a year later...

Her son noticed the laces dangling enticingly, and demanded to see what was on the other end of them. He immediately realized what he had, and tried to put them on his feet himself. Of course, he only wore a size 5, but an 8 didn't seem so impossibly huge to him.

Besides, they went really well with red monkey pajamas.

Good night.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Parts and Labor

My period arrived like crazy this week. First-trimester exhaustion coupled with the kind of back pain I haven't experienced since I was in labor. I had trouble sitting, standing, and bending for several days.

After Westley was born, I got exactly five months off before my period came back. It was regular--every 29 days--immediately. I had expected more of a break, or at least more of an "adjustment period" (heh) because I was nursing Westley constantly: nursing for nourishment, nursing for comfort, nursing to sleep, nursing back to sleep, nursing for nursing's sake. In the end, it didn't make much difference. My period couldn't stay away, and it was Jacked. Up.

Based on information from various public school health classes and assorted anecdotes from female friends, I gather that typical periods start strong and taper off. Sometimes there's a bit of spotting to begin with, but the first few days are usually the worst. At least, it was always that way for me. Not so under the new, post-baby regime. Things start off light, and get heavier and heavier until about day four, when I start getting increasingly back-achey and miserable. Just when I think the bleeding and the cramping can't get any worse, everything stops. Completely. From torrential downpour to 85-and-sunny in the space of about 12 hours. Jacked. Up.

I thought things would get better on their own as my hormones chilled out and righted themselves and I nursed less often. Instead, each month was worse than the month before. "That really concerns me," Rob said in his slow, serious way. Behind his eyes I could see the flicker of Worst Case Scenario Mode booting up.

Last month, I finally went to the doctor. According to the doc, there's nothing wrong with me. Everything is fine, just...different. My uterus is tipped waaaay over to the right side, and my bladder is waaaay over to the left. The bleeding pattern is unusual, sure, but not unhealthy. And the excruciating backache is my body's "pain memory" from having back labor with Westley. In other words, my abnormal periods are just the new normal. I'm supposed to accept and "live with" this effect of labor on my body. As with the snail-trail of scar tissue that complains every time I have sex or use a tampon, the only solution here is to suck it up and deal.

Um, no. No, and no. Being told that Advil is the answer to my debilitating nine-day periods sets off my Bullshit Detector in a big way. We can transplant an organ and heal a broken limb, but my cockeyed, folded-over uterus just has to hang out, torturing me with its "pain memory" every month? I've consulted Dr. Google, but I think an actual human second opinion is in order. There has to be a real solution to this problem: one that doesn't involve a steady stream of pills for the rest of my menstruating life.

I mean, all I did was have a baby.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

I Think I'll Keep Him

Rob is loading Westley's dinner leftovers into the fridge, rearranging things. He holds up a small re-sealable container, the kind the manufacturer markets for use with salad dressing. We use them for toddler leavings.

Rob: There's something really precious about a tiny container with two pieces of leftover grilled cheese sandwich* in it. Two triangles, specifically.

Me: [Smiling]

Rob: I love being a dad! And I love you being a mom.


*No dairy products were used in the making of this meal.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Homophonaphobia

All those words Westley was rocking a few months ago? Pretty much history. He now has just two "words," the meanings of which adjust to fit a variety of situations. Westley seems pretty content to communicate this way; he'll throw in the occasional caveman-grunt for good measure, but that's about it. Meanwhile, I have come to detest these two perfectly good and useful syllables that my son has adopted as his complete language. I'm being slowly driven insane by the language puzzle I find myself tackling each day.

The first of the two words isn't so bad at first glance. "Ba." Seems pretty harmless, the kind of thing you'd expect a baby to say. Except that Westley's volume goes from zero to eleven as he suddenly starts pointing and saying, "Ba! Ba! Ba!" almost breathless, as if we were in some sort of crisis situation and "ba" were the only way to save us.

I stop, whip my head around, and start searching, trying to get him to tell me more with my questions.

"Ball? Where's the ball, honey?" as I look for a ball, or a balloon, or anything remotely round. "Bottle? I don't see it."

"Ba! Ba!"

"That box? No. Oh! A bird! Yes, there are birds over there. Do you see all those birds?"

And usually, it's one of those things: a ball, a balloon, a bird. Sometimes it's a banana, or bottle or a box, and if we're at home, "ba" is probably the broom, or the vacuum. It's also the sound a sheep makes (duh), and the sound you yourself make when it's cold outside. Or maybe he's just always talking about the Egyptian soul. I can't really rule that one out. When Westley was a tiny baby, his cry sounded like he was saying "Allah." Maybe this is indicative of an interest in world religions. I don't know.

So "ba" is actually pretty harmless, even if it does go on all day. However, the word that gets me--makes me completely break down into a state of irrational fear and hatred--is "na." Jessica blogged about this a while ago, and I am so there. That fucking voiced nasal makes me want to rip out my hair and die. I just hate the sound of it, but the specific issue is that is doesn't mean anything. It means everything.


She'll never understand a word I say. Exxxxcellent!

When Westley started saying it, usually two "na"s at a time, my mom thought he was saying my name. "He's calling you 'Noelle!'" she said, clearly and delightedly having flashbacks to my brother, whose first word was his big sister's name: "NaNa." I was skeptical of this, because almost no one at home calls me by my name, but also because Westley had been saying "mama" for a while.

However, it turns out that "na na" and "mama" are interchangeable, although "mama" is more like, "I see my mama," while "na na" is "you bring me that thing right now, Mama!" It's also his one-word go-to demand for nursing, being picked up, having a door opened, tasting something off your plate, and so on. There is no handy alliterative list to comb through when Westley is pointing and "na!"-ing. He could be saying, "I want to go outside and play" or "The cats are eating their breakfasts," and there's no real way to know which one it is.

Westley's limited vocabulary is incredibly tiring to listen to all day, every day. And sadly, he shows no sign of the "language explosion" that his nurse practitioner, my mother, and other baby-ologists tell me is coming any day now.

I know this is another one of those things that's going to be gone before I know it, but the bas and nas are wearing me down, and part of me thinks Westley will never say anything else. He'll write Stein-esque poetry: na is na is na.
Rob's conclusion? "He's going to grow up to be a do wop singer."

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Friday, March 13, 2009

The Weight is Over (Sort Of)

After sitting around and feeling lousy and not eating very well for the first six months of Westley's life, I was bound and determined to be out of my "fat pants" and back to my pre-pregnancy weight by December of last year. Unfortunately, the six-months-is-enough estimate (which I thought was generous) to lose the weight turned out to be not quite enough. It ended up taking nine months of watching my diet, attempting to exercise, and giving myself occasional pep-talks, but I got there.

I remember one of my midwives saying during an early postpartum visit, "It'll take as long to get the weight off as it did to put it on." I think I rolled my eyes a little. In order to survive the idea of having to gain any weight in the first place, I had convinced myself that I hadn't gained that much, and I would totally be back in my teeniest jeans a few months. Maybe lack of sleep was making me mildly delusional. I don't know why it didn't sink in that eating well and exercising when you're depressed and caring for a little baby is, uh, really fucking hard.

Anyway, I may be three months behind my goal, but my behind is three sizes smaller. All of my pants fit (yes, even those pants). Of course, they don't all fit well (I'm about 13 lbs. from my goal weight), but now that I'm exercising semi-regularly, I think I'm on my way. I just hope it doesn't take another nine months.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bare with Me

Westley and I are standing outside the shower. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to dry two people with the one clean towel we have in the house.

I've been showering with Westley since he was five months old. It was fun and easy for a while, and it's still mostly fun, but this morning I'm getting a real lesson in patience. He's opened and closed the shower door at least a dozen times, letting cold air in and hot water out. He would really like to play with my make-up, and he shrieks when I tell him no. We're dripping wet and naked and I'm freezing so I figure he's really freezing. I can't dry Westley and keep him away from the poopy diaper that's sitting on the toilet waiting to be soaked, and stop him from tasting the shampoo, so I hand him the first thing I can reach to play with.

It's my razor handle. There's no blade on it. I ran out of replacement blades a few days ago, and keep forgetting to buy more.

Westley eyes the handle for a minute. Then looks me straight between the legs, takes the handle and scrapes it across my crotch, where the stubble is starting to get noticeable.

He likes to help me brush my hair. I guess it shouldn't surprise me that he'd want to make sure I did a thorough job de-fuzzing my lady regions. Especially since he's roughly crotch-height these days.

* * *

Rob takes over my baby-showering duties on the weekend. From the living room, I can hear the shower door opening and closing, and Westley laughing. Then I hear Rob:

"Gentle! That's Daddy's penis."

* * *

If he had his way, Westley would be naked all the time. Being naked, apparently, is where it's at. For one thing, you're a lot faster with no bulky diaper in the way. For another, when you have to pee, you can see the pee come out, which is like, whoa! But mostly, nudity just feels great.

I do not understand this at all. For me, being naked is a necessary unpleasantness on the way to some other activity.

The one exception I make is for feet. My feet are always cold, because I live where it snows (in March), and because I have yet to find something to wear on my feet around the house. I hate socks. Hate them. Knit fabric on my feet? No, awful, get it away. And slippers just feel like poorly-made, unusually bulky shoes. I cannot imagine any slippers feeling more comfortable than walking around the house barefoot. My husband's big, manly feet feel smooth as a baby's bottom compared to the leather-like soles of my supposedly dainty girl-feet.

I'm a foot nudist, and my son will almost certainly be one too. The first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes. Now that he wears them, I've started taking Westley's shoes off right after I take mine off. Like oxygen masks on the plane: remove your own before offering assistance to others...

For a while, I was taking Westley's shoes off but leaving his socks on. His feet got too cold otherwise. But now that he's discovered the joy of nudity, he's becoming more interested in clothes and how to get them off. Socks are easy to take off: just yank, and ta-da! Naked feet!

So now, Westley has cold feet all the time. Just like Mommy.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Toddlerism

"Westley, next time don't forget to change the printer settings from 'plain paper' to 'pita'."

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

15 Months

Dear Westley,
A year ago, your favorite things to do were sleep, nurse, and stare quietly into your Dad's and my faces.
Now, your favorite things to do are walk so fast that you almost run, swing on the swings, help with the vacuuming, and climb up the slide by yourself and go down face first, laughing.

You do a lot of things you're not supposed to do. You bother the cats while they're eating breakfast. You try to plug things into the wall. You bite to show your anger. And you do things that you're not supposed to be able to do, really. It looks like your imagination is already at work. You make your clothes hangers into combs and stroke your hair with them, and you hold my calculator to your ear to talk on the phone.

You can see the things you want to accomplish, and get so frustrated when the world doesn't go your way. I wish you had more words. You understand so much language already. It clearly makes you crazy that I can't understand you as well as you do me. Your meaningful gestures seem to have partially fallen away in favor of wild hand-waving and high-pitched fussing. You throw temper tantrums. Sometimes I wonder if you're actually two.

MaMay pointed out some "Big Boys" playing across the creek the other day, and you smiled and puffed up your chest, as though to say, "I'm a Big Boy, too." And you are. You're my fuss-budget smarty-pants wise owl Big Boy monkey.
Love,
Mommy
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