Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Gravy

These measurements are all eyeballed. . .play around with the recipe to find what works for you. This makes a HUGE batch of gravy. I usually end up making a turkey casserole sometime after roasting a turkey and I use this gravy in place of any "cream" soups. I also have added this gravy to homemade turkey soup to thicken it a little bit.

Bloggy McBloggerstein's Turkey Gravy
2 Tb butter
1 small chopped brown onion
2 chopped carrots (or small handful of chopped baby carrots)
1 stalk chopped celery
2 cups red wine (I tend to use merlot when cooking with red)
11 cups turkey or chicken broth or stock (I usually have this in the freezer, but feel free to use cans or cubes)
Any pan drippings from roasting a turkey or chickens (defat if desired, but realize the fat brings the most flavor)
2 chopped cloves of garlic
Handful of sliced fresh mushrooms
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, sage, & a little bit of rosemary.
Cooked potato flesh (no skins!) for thickening (or instant potato granules - NOT flakes - if you're lazy like me!)

1.  Cook onion, carrots, celery in butter until they begin to brown.  I'm assuming that you've just roasted a turkey and you have already deglazed your pan to get the caramelized bits.
2.  Add wine, broth (or stock), pan drippings, garlic, & mushrooms and cover.
3.  Increase heat to boil for about 20 minutes or so.  Feel free to drop the heat and simmer longer, but usually you're doing this while a turkey is resting or being carved and you don't have endless time on your side.
4.  Add seasonings & use a handheld stick blender and blend until smooth.
5.  Add cooked potato flesh (no skins!) and blend until it reaches desired thickness.

Note: Do not use wine that is labeled "cooking wine" for this recipe. In my experience, you should cook with wines that you'd happily drink because most cooking wines are horrible.

Turkey is Easier Than You Think

I love turkey and I make it a few times throughout the year.  My turkey is always moist and delicious.  I've noted that a lot of people are intimidated by making turkey and it's really quite simple.  Don't be afraid to attempt to roast a turkey; if you can handle a roasted chicken, you can handle a roasted turkey.

Bloggy McBloggerstein's Brined Turkey

1. Defrost the turkey in the fridge. Usually takes around 4 or 5 days for a 14-pounder. Cut turkey out of the plastic and pull the neck and giblets out of the cavities (check both).

2. Brine the turkey for between 12 and 24 hours. My brine recipe is: 1 cup orange juice, 8 cups water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, some salt, pepper, and dried sage. Mix together and add turkey. Put the whole thing in an Igloo cooler and dump an ice-maker full of ice in the cooler. Flip bird over half-way through brining.

3. I use an electric roasting pan instead of using the oven because I don't like heating up the whole house and it seems to cook the turkey faster. Pull the turkey out of the brine (be sure to drain any brine out of the cavities, but there is no need to rinse the bird - besides, that means you'd have to sanitize your sink!) and place directly in electric roasting pan. Put 5 pats of butter on turkey - on both breasts, near the drumsticks, and in middle of back. You don't need a lot of butter because brining keeps the meat VERY moist.

4. I usually use the following seasonings: some salt and pepper, a little onion powder, a shake of granulated garlic, and a sprinkle of dried sage. Sometimes I use a tiny bit of dried rosemary. Sometimes I stuff the main cavity with a quartered peeled onion and a couple peeled cloves of garlic. Sometimes I stuff it with a quartered orange. You can play a lot with poultry seasonings. Of course, you can always stuff some prepared stuffing in the turkey too - but don't pack it tightly in the cavity.

5. Cover electric roaster and roast for 2 hours at 325 F. Then turn the heat up to 350 F for 45 mins to 1 1/2 hours. There is no need to babysit the bird or baste at all. Use a meat thermometer to tell when the turkey is done instead of watching the clock. The turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 165 F. I usually test four places in the turkey to ensure it is all cooked: each breast and near each drumstick. Be sure not to hit a bone with the thermometer or else you'll get a false reading.

6. Turn off the roaster and remove turkey to a cutting board and let the bird rest for about 30 minutes. When I'm really lazy I just leave the turkey in the roaster (lid off) and carve it in the appliance instead of dirtying up my giant cutting board (it's a heavy son of a gun!). The reason you want to let the bird rest is because it helps redistribute the juices throughout the meat. If you carve or cut into it right away, you lose much of the juice and get dry meat (this is true with any meat). The brining also helps keep the meat moist.

7. For carving, I usually cut off the wing tips first and then the drumsticks. It is easiest to cut at the joints. Then I begin carving the breast meat, cut the rest of the wings off, then the thighs. I'm not fond of skin and I always pull the skin off as I'm carving. I usually end up flipping the bird over a couple of times to make sure I've picked it clean. Then I use the carcass and skin and make turkey stock so I can make homemade turkey soup a few days later. In case you don't know what to do with the pan drippings, you can use it to make gravy (I have a recipe for that too) or to punch up the flavor of any boxed stove-top stuffing.

Follow this recipe and you'll have awesome turkey each time.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Middle-Aged Adolescents

I think that anyone who knows me at all or reads what I write in this blog can agree that I'm fairly direct and to the point.  I have a low tolerance for bullsh*t and little interest in drama.  I try not to engage in gossip and I try to be a kind & giving person even toward people who I just don't care for all that much.  Indeed, I try to keep those negative thoughts to myself because I believe in treating others the way I'd like to be treated. 

Yeah, I know, I sound like I'm The Last Girlscout.  I'm not trying to say that I'm oh-so-evolved as an individual, but I most definitely do not suffer from emotional retardation that makes me act as though I am still a snippy teenager running the mean girls schtick.  I'm 36-years old and it would be ridiculous if I were still behaving like it's the early-90s.  I don't feel the need to try to push down others to elevate myself because that's a fool's way to get a temporary lift and it's just not my style.  I am who I am, I know who I am, and I like who I am.  Anyone who has a problem with that can just suck it.

I'm usually a good judge of character and I don't exactly shrink away from rolling in the mud with b*tches and that's why it surprises me when one chooses to square off with me over a completely chickensh*t reason that makes absolutely zero sense.  Life can be so full of crap and I truly value honesty in relationships.  It may sound naive, but I think it's a shame that all women don't feel the same way.  I get that sometimes others are spoiling for a fight and there are certainly times that I've launched myself in the ring, but I have flesh & blood family who I haven't had a single word of contact with in over three decades and there is no way that I'll hesitate to burn down a relationship with a friend if I feel that they are not genuine with me or if I feel that they are actively out to sabotage my happiness.

Of course, using the word "friend" is debatable because friends don't try to cut down other friends.  Friends don't give their friends ultimatums regarding other non-mutual friends.  Friends don't ignore special times in their friends' lives; special times like birthdays, buying new houses, having a long desired baby.  Friends don't make up outright lies to try to eject their friends from social groups - particularly when the lie is completely unnecessary.  And friends sure as heck don't pull this c*nty behavior in the weeks and short months after their friend suffered the unexpected death of a young family member, after a friend moved to a new house while in the third trimester of pregnancy, and after the friend's mother just spent 40+ days in a rehab facility to relearn how to walk.

As I list out all this behavior, I've come to believe that this friend is impossibly pathetic and I'm surprised that I feel mainly indifference rather than righteous fury toward her unwarranted attack during what anyone can see is a difficult time in my life.  Her childishness is rather lame and I feel pity more than anything at the moment.  On some level I'd like to blow the lid off this situation and get others involved too, but ultimately that's her style and not mine.  And I guess that I just don't care.  If someone wants to act like a douche toward me, well, that's their choice.  What am I supposed to do about it and why would I want to?  I choose to move on because life is too short and I'm too good of a person to deserve that kind of treatment.

Why would I want a false friend?  Why would I waste my energy exposing the ugliness when women like that usually do a good enough job exposing their own ugliness?  Given enough rope, they do eventually hang themselves.  Life is challenging enough so why would I want to stay in a group where this kind of d*ckish and duplicitous behavior occurs?  Why spend my time with thoughtless and inconsiderate @ssholes?

It would be one thing if this behavior was simple insensitivity and I've pondered this possibility at length.  I know that I am a hot-head and I have a tendency to fire first and ask questions later.  After bouncing the entire situation off my hubs at length, I've determined that I'm neither overreacting nor reading into anything.  It simply is not the case that someone is being a clueless twit.  This was designed to be intentionally hurtful and that's what I can't accept and will not tolerate.  While some people thrive on their own maliciousness and drama, I do not.  Again, I believe it's pretty pathetic to act this way at my age and certainly at hers.  I received her message loud & clear, therefore, I think I'll do this person a favor and tell them to go f*ck themselves.

Have you ever had to tangle with a middle-aged adolescent?  How did you handle the situation?

PS  If you think this is about you, it's a good clue that it is not.  In my experience, people like this come up with all kinds of dumb excuses to justify and ignore their own shockingly bad behavior.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Birthday Present EVAR!!

For much of my life, I have had extraordinarily disappointing birthdays.  I wouldn't go so far as to curse the day of my birth, but it has been decades since I've looked forward to my special day.  To put it mildly, it has most often left something to be desired.

My husband knows the reasons why I feel particularly unloved and uncared about on my birthday and, to his credit, he has always tried very hard to make that day a good one for me.  Last year, he was out of town for my birthday. . .other than when I was attending my brother's service, it has been the only time we've slept apart since we got together.  It wasn't all badness & sadness though because I met up with some friends at a local theme park that day and they treated me to a very tasty funnel cake.

My birthday this year wasn't all that great, I swear that my son went out of his way to make me cry that day, but my husband certainly came through with what can only be called The Best Birthday Present of All Time! 

After five or so years of casually looking and ten months of serious looking, we bought another house.  Not only did we buy another house, but we bought a FREAKING AWESOME house that is exactly what we both wanted.  It is the perfect place to raise our boys and we both fell in love with the location, the floor plan, the backyard.

When did escrow close on this house?  On my birthday.  As I said, best birthday present ever!

My husband has already told me that I shouldn't expect him to buy me another house for my birthday next year. . .geez, what a cheapskate!  Ha!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Exactly is "Normal" Down Below?

Have you missed my blog posts about sex in general or vagina in particular?  Well, then you're in luck!  Prudes need not read any further - you've been warned.

I've noticed for many years that most porn actresses sport nearly identical looking nether regions.  Not only is there a specific "look" in porn videos, but print photos apparently received the same memo and reveal much of the same predictable result.  What is the preferred look that our X-rated friends are hustling?  It is a snatch that is totally devoid of any hair and with an utter lack of any labia minora visible. 

From an aesthetic standpoint, I can see why the hairless look is more popular for men and women.  After all, one watches porn to see people screwing. . .not to see what looks like a woman giving birth to a baby bear.  Hair obscures the vision and porn is all about visual stimulation.  I get that and I'm okay with it.  Of course, this grooming style spilled over to the general public a long time ago and I'd wager that nearly all women under the age of 30 keep up a bald vulva.  Whether or not they realize that they were manipulated into doing so by the porn industry (either through a significant other suggesting it or them doing it on their own after seeing it represented) is debatable and it doesn't really matter.  Speaking for myself, I think variety is fun and see nothing wrong with a rotation between shag, hardwood, or Berber.

The absence of labia minora is more puzzling and, I think, it has far more damaging consequences for women in general.  After all, hair can grow back as pubic fashions change and removing hair is a much easier proposition than removing excess labia.  Depending on the media, there are a few options:  one can tuck in their labia minora, have their labia minora digitally altered to look smaller or disappear entirely, or one can have a labiaplasty.  Obviously, cutting away a sensitive part of your genitals is the most extreme example and it's the one that I see becoming the result of exercising the first two options. 

The more times that women see a tucked labia or a photoshopped vulva, the more times that she'll feel unusual or weird for not looking the same way.  Ultimately, she may well end up seeing a plastic surgeon to "fix" what was never broken in the first place.  She seeks to be "normal" when, in fact, she already was the normal one.

It's like breast implants.  Heavily padded bras are one thing, but getting a surgery to alter your body is an entirely different animal.  Once women and men began seeing the result of breast implants, more women sought them.  The motivation behind the surgery makes no difference because the result is the same.  As more women get big fake boobs, women without big boobs begin to feel increasingly bizarre.  The natural women probably realize that they are being manipulated to want something unnatural, but the fact is that the natural woman looks weird at a certain point (and in certain geographic areas or work industries) rather than the other way around. 

Breast augmentations have become very popular and quite common.  Is labiaplasty the next plastic surgery craze?  If so, where do we put down our foot and say "ENOUGH!" 

Natural is no longer necessarily "normal."  Our sense of normalcy is being changed by surgeons, one cut at a time.  I can't blame the surgeons for filling a need.  The surgery most often wouldn't even be considered if it weren't for the porn industry normalizing an unnatural look.

A designer snatch.  A customized c*nt.  A perfect p*ssy.  I respectfully submit that such things aren't worthy of pursuit.  As I say about most (certainly not all) cosmetic surgery, I think the money would be better spent with a psychiatrist to find out why you're so unhappy with your own self.  To find out why you feel the need to surgically alter (mutilate, enhance, or whatever you want to call it) your body in an effort to find peace and contentment.

I think my husband said it best when he said that no man is going to refuse to have sex with a woman because her p*ssy lips protrude.  Indeed, I'd suggest that having at least a little protrusion makes sex more pleasurable for both men and women because the labia are an extension of the vagina and the stroking friction feels good.  That said, there is a wide range of normal and warm & wet feels good no matter what the rest of the packaging looks like.

I write all of this knowing that I'm a hypocrite.  I've often thought that I'd like to do one specific thing to my snatch.  My husband, and every other man who I've mentioned this to, thinks I'm absolutely nuts.  I know I have a great little p*ssy and I logically realize that my emotions on the matter have been manipulated by the porn industry.  However, there is still that part of me that thinks it would be so much better if I just do this one little thing. 

Thank goodness I have the number of a good therapist!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Back. . .Maybe

Some of you may have noticed that I've been silent lately.  It would be fair to say that I've been, for the most part, stunned silent.  It's been well over six-weeks since my nephew died and I'm still unable to begin processing my grief.  It's not that I can't handle grief, goodness knows that I can certainly handle grief, it's that I'm afraid to fall too deeply in to that pit of sadness and hurt during what should be - what needs to be - a happy and joyful time in my life. 

I know that sounds selfish, but it's not even only for my own sake that I refuse to address my pain.  It's for the sake of my children, the one I hold and the one I'm still carrying.  For being such a young child, my son has witnessed far too much of my grief and I don't want his mind to somehow connect my pregnancy to my tears and despair because I don't want him to somehow think it's his little brother's fault that Mama is so sad. . .so sad yet again.  I don't want my unborn son to be negatively impacted by my own mental state.  I know that I don't care for myself adequately when I'm down there and that means that he won't be adequately nourished either.  That's not even addressing whether or not a fetus suffers developmentally based upon the mother's depression or stress hormone levels.  Without a doubt, my boys would suffer if I allowed myself to delve into the aching depths of human sadness.

Of course, it isn't all selflessness.  This baby in my womb only came after two solid years of trying every month, after losing one precious babe, after subjecting myself to hormone treatments that made for an unbelievably stressful first half of pregnancy.  After two years of bitter disappointment each month, I want to experience all the joy I possibly can.  Is it wrong that I want to try to enjoy what will most likely be my final pregnancy?  If it is, then I guess I'm wrong.

I simply can't wrap my head around a 17-year old kid dying from a heart attack.  I just can't.  It's like something you read about and feel sorry for the family who was impacted by such a fluke occurrence.  Only it's not some random anonymous family.  It's my family.  It's my family who has been hurt by yet another unnaturally natural death.  It's such a bizarre and unthinkable thing that I don't know whether to laugh, cry, scream, pull at my hair, or some mixture of all responses.

So how am I handling my grief?  I'm not.  I push it back down whenever it comes up and I generally pretend that it does not exist.  Is this healthy?  No, not by a long shot.  Is this the most sensible way I can handle it at the moment?  Yes.  I know the time is coming where my grief will begin to manifest itself in other ways and I'm already having difficulty pushing it from my mind when it comes to me, but thus far only the silence of midnight's moon has been the witness to my weeping so I'm thankful my son has been spared.  It's a scene that he's seen before, but I know it frightens him and he's seen it altogether too often.

Why do I cry in the night?  Why else?  It's when I say my prayers and I can't help but cry when I pray for my nieces and nephews.  Most nights I automatically put his name in there, my mind still unable to accept that he no longer has need for any of my prayers, and that's when it hits me the hardest.  I begin to play the highlight reel - tears always come when I think of him joking and clowning around - and I have to muffle my cries in my pillow and begin praying that sleep comes mercifully soon.

Perhaps I'd be well on the road to healing if I'd been able to attend his funeral?  I don't know and it doesn't matter since I was unable to attend.  My mother fell and broke her hip just days after his death (she only just returned home), I wasn't keen to leave my little boy because it really messed with his head when I did so to attend my brother's service last year, and my OB wasn't wild about the notion of me traveling 3,000 miles away when I was still having bleeding episodes in this pregnancy.  So I didn't go.  I wish on some level that I had, but my parents and my children needed me to stay here and I did.

I don't know that I will be able to continue blogging, but I will make an effort.  Though I have always been brutally honest in this blog, I won't be able to address these emotions because they need to stay bottled up for the time being.  The way I see it, I probably have plenty to write about without participating in a bit of free therapy.  So I'm back. . .maybe.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Ironic Nickname

Here's a real quick English lesson before the post:  Irony is the opposite of what most people think it means.  You'd expect a big guy to be called "Fatty" so that is not ironic, but calling him "Slim" fits the definition.  I've always been clumsy and accident prone and my parents bestowed upon me the ironic nickname "Grace" at an early age.  After my OB appointment yesterday, I think I have earned a new ironic nickname.  Just call me "Class" from now on.  It all started a couple of days ago. . .

I've written about how I primp before a doctor visit and, knowing that I had an upcoming appointment, I decided to get reacquainted with my razor.  All was going well until I got to the main attraction.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned the dangers in shaving areas that you can't see after I cut my labia a month or two ago.  That sucked, but it was a clean slice and it healed quickly. 

So I've established that shaving by touch alone can be hazardous.  This time around I not only couldn't see because my belly obscures my line of sight, but also because I've been wearing my glasses and I obviously don't wear those in the shower.  Even if I could see my sn@tch around my belly, I wouldn't be able to see it without working eyes.  I was blind x 2 and using a sharp instrument on tender areas - what could possibly go wrong?

I passed my razor over what I thought were the edges of the hedges.  A rinse revealed to my fingers that I had instead cut a hole right around the middle of the turf up top.  How I so badly misjudged where my razor actually was, I have no idea.  I might add that things aren't so bushy down below that I could just fluff things up with a hair pick later to disguise the damage.  That's right; I may be a hippie, but I still don't sport a pubic 'fro.  Figuring that I was probably thinking it looked worse than it really did, I left well enough alone and put my razor away.  I actually went to bed and forgot about it.

As is customary, I surveyed the landscape the next morning as I was getting dressed and HOLY CRAP!  I had a giant freaking hole in the middle of my pubic hair.  I stared at it, wondering how to fix this horrible hair cut when the obvious solution came to me.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  Yep, I decided to shave it all off.

After I removed every last hair, I remembered why I had used the razor in the first place.  I had a dang doctor's appointment.  I might tell my doctor about my spontaneous orgasms, I might smile during breast exams, but I have NEVER presented a completely bald vulva for a pelvic exam and the very thought of someone other than my husband seeing EVERYTHING made me feel terribly uncomfortable. 

It's not that my vulva is weird or anything (well, any weirder than any of them look), but I just feel ultra-ultra naked when I go totally bare.  What woman wants to be ultra-ultra naked with a stranger fingering her in front of her husband?  Actually, that might fly in certain circumstances but not with a doctor who I like and trust.  Not only that, but friction tends to engorge the area when I don't have a little bit of hair up top to help buffer things and that leaves me feeling extremely turned on and/or looking extremely irritated.  I wouldn't care if I was all red and inflamed looking, but I sure as heck don't want the doctor to think that I'm presenting a wet & horny looking pu$$y because of the stupid pelvic exam.

I could have tried to reschedule the appointment, but his schedule is usually very full and I didn't want to risk losing the appointment I did have.  I was trying to think when the last time was that I had a pelvic exam and why.  All I could come up with was it was when I was still having significant bleeding problems in this pregnancy and I think the last one I had was right after I had completed my first trimester.  I decided that I probably wouldn't need another pelvic exam although I'd experienced another spotting episode over Labor Day so I kept my appointment.

You know, I did not have a pelvic exam yesterday so all my worries were for nothing.  That's not to say that I didn't do something so totally boneheaded that I still cringe to think of it.  Read on. . .

Yesterday was a hot day.  It may not have felt all that hot to the non-pregnant members of the population, but it was hot as the blazes to me.  When it's hot out, I prefer to nap wearing as little as possible.  With this in mind, I stripped off my clothes (including panties & bra) and slipped on a nightgown when it was naptime.  I've been sleeping poorly now for weeks upon weeks so I let naptime last as long as I possibly could before having to jam over to the doctor's office.

My hubs woke me up and said that I had to get dressed because we had to go.  He grabbed our son and, while getting ready to put our boy in the car, our dumb dog ran out of the house.  This happened as I was pulling a dress out of the closet.  The yelling, barking, and resulting mayhem caused me to slip the dress over my head and run outside.  I grabbed my son, fearing that our dog might become roadkill, and pulled him in the house while hubs dealt with the dog.  Hubs got the dog under control and put back in the house.  He put the kiddo in the car while I grabbed my shoes and hopped in the car. 

Observant readers may notice what I did not put on.  What was I not wearing?  Panties.

A bare vulva, no panties (bra was missing too, BTW), and a dress.  Class, man, pure class.  When did I notice my missing undergarments?  When we were half-way to the office and were already running late.  Wonderful, just wonderful.

I did not have a pelvic exam so one might think that my whorish attire wouldn't be noticed, right?  Wrong!  Remember that I was wearing a dress?  That means that I need to lift my dress to expose my abdomen so the Doppler can amplify the sound of my baby's heartbeat.  Generally, my doctor grabs a sheet and tucks it in the waistband of my skirt or pants while performing this part of his exam. 

Guess what?  There was nothing for him to tuck the sheet into yesterday.  Not only that, but he also took a fundal height measurement and that most definitely revealed that not only was I not wearing panties, but that I was ultra-ultra naked down below.

Ever the professional, even with who I assume is his nuttiest (and perhaps sluttiest) patient, he inquired if there was a reason I'd disrobed and if there was something I wanted him to check out.  Uh, no Doc, that's pretty f*cking far from what I'd like because now I feel ultra-ultra naked and hella embarrassed.  It was like I was the only one who showed up naked on the nude beach.  Sure that I could see my husband's smirk in my peripheral vision, I gave a dismissive wave of the hand and simply said, "No.  It's a long story."  The doctor wisely kept his mouth shut.

I'd say that I'm officially "that" patient and I have most definitely earned my new ironic nickname.  Have you ever had an embarrassing mishap while visiting the doctor?  Please share and help me feel like I might still have some tiny lingering shred of dignity left intact.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Brother, My Nephew, and the Cruelty of September

I can't remember the last time I blogged, but I initially stopped writing because I could feel the distinct pang of melancholy knocking on my heart.  In looking at the dates on the calendar, I was sad to realize that it was rapidly approaching the date marking one year since my beloved brother had unexpectedly died at 41-years of age.  The puzzle that is my family was made incomplete that day because a piece will always be missing. . .this side of Heaven, my parents will never have their son and my sister & I will never have our brother.

His death was unnaturally natural.  His aorta dissected in several places.  That is, his aorta split apart and he bled to death.  It's painful, very rare, and usually fatal before the hospital can even be reached.  My brother was unique in that he worked at a hospital and he was able to hit the OR fairly quickly.  Unfortunately, no surgeon on this planet could have possibly repaired such extensive damage fast enough to save my brother's life. 

He died.  He kissed his wife goodbye that morning, went to work, and never came home.  A seemingly healthy man had his life cut short.

I found his death far more difficult to recover from than any other I'd known.  Yes, losing him was even harder than any other loss - harder than seeing my grandfather die right in front of my eyes, harder than thinking of babies I'll never be able to hold in my arms here on Earth, harder than losing my best friend to the ravages of a cruel disease, harder than losing my grandmother when she seemed perfectly fine the last time I saw her.

I still sometimes feel like something is missing and it hits me that it's not something, it's someone.  Someone who I had always had in my life, someone who I had every reason to expect that I'd have in my life for another couple of decades.  My brother.

September 7th came and went.  It wasn't nearly as trying as I thought it would be and I credit the babe in my womb for keeping me from sinking down as far as I would have otherwise.  One year had passed; that crucial year of healing that everyone needs to go through after suffering catastrophic loss.  I could begin to breathe easier, knowing that so much healing that occurred in this year and would continue to occur as time continued marching forward.  I had such unbelievable naivete.

* * *

I was lounging in bed with my 3-year old watching morning cartoons when I received a phone call from a number I didn't recognize on Saturday, September 10th.  I missed the call and almost ignored the voicemail notification because I was tired and snuggling with my son was preferable to writing down a message.  My curiosity is what motivated me to check the message.  I figured that it would be a wrong number. 

I was wrong.

I didn't even recognize the voice, let alone understand the message the first time I listened.  It was a tearful message and my ear finally picked up the name of one of my brother's daughters and that she'd been trying to reach my parents.  I thought that perhaps she was in some sort of trouble and I immediately returned the call. 

When I got an outbound voicemail message, I really began to worry about her.  Why was she crying?  Why was she trying to reach my parents?  Why wasn't she able to get the phone?

My son began to pick up on my agitation and I was able to get him to return to my bedroom to watch some more television while I pondered my next move.  Should I call my parents?  Go to their house?  Try to contact someone who might know what was going on with my niece?

The phone rang and I snatched it up.  It was my niece's cousin and I could hear her tears and my niece's in the background.  My niece came to the phone and the world that had finally felt righted was knocked off-balance once again.

She told me that her youngest brother had died in his sleep.  Suddenly very aware of my pulse pounding, I swallowed hard and chewed on my tongue to keep from crying out.  She was still talking and I was trying to follow her words though my mind was racing. 

The same kid who I had blogged about here had died?  The cousin who my son still asks about at least once or twice every single week wasn't living?  The young man with such a winning personality, sharp wit, and kind heart was dead?

My brother's four children are remarkably good kids, but I had to ask if this was some sort of sick joke.  I didn't want to believe it.  I still don't.  I already knew the answer and was crying when she confirmed that her 17-year old brother had died in his sleep and that her younger sister had found him.

I vaguely recall telling her that I'd go to my parents to tell them the news.  They'd received the news that their only son was dead over the phone and I could not let them learn of their grandson's death in the same way.  She apologized for having to tell me over the phone - see what I mean about being good kids - and I hope she knows that I didn't mean for her to take it like that.  I just felt that it would be easier for my parents if they could possibly be told in person so that I could lovingly hold them while delivering such devastatingly unwelcome news.

I called my husband home.  I'm not sure exactly what I told him.  I may have just blurted it out or I may have just asked him to come home.  All I can remember for sure is that I began to get dizzy and I was having trouble catching my breath.  It reminded me of what happened before my husband called the ambulance when I lost my baby in January and I forced myself to sit down to try to relax. 

I put my head in my hands and began sobbing.  The only thing that prevented me from completely melting down was my son standing next to me, innocently asking, "Are you okay, Mama?  Mommy!"  I wiped my face, hugged him, and said it was time to get dressed.

To keep myself in check, I began doing the most mundane tasks.  I put away some laundry.  I paid some bills.  I was doing anything I could to stay busy and not focus on what my niece had reported.

We took my son to hang out with my in-laws and set out to see my parents.  I kept telling my husband that I don't know how to tell them this and I don't want to tell them this and I don't want this to even be true.  I still don't want this to be true.

My father's first thought when he saw us walking up by ourselves was that something had happened to our son.  He immediately dismissed the thought because he rightfully deduced that I would have been unable to walk if anything had happened to my boy.  But he knew something was wrong.  And he was right.  Something is so very wrong.

I asked him to sit down and he would not so I put my arms around him and told him the horrible news as I hugged him.  I could have lived my entire life without ever again seeing such pained shock and disbelief on my father's face.  He finally said that he'd go up and tell my mother.  Yet again, I could have lived my entire life without ever again hearing my mother's anguished cries.  After my brother's death, I never thought I'd see my parents in such a wounded state.  I was wrong.

* * *

My nephew came out to visit California for two weeks this Summer.  I am so thankful for that for a number of reasons.  Though my parents and I had the opportunity to develop strong bonds with his four children when my brother was stationed in San Diego for a few years, things were dramatically different once his wife divorced him.  I've often referred to divorce as "the atomic option" and it really is because the fallout injures everyone.  As is almost always the case, children are the biggest casualties of divorce.  In this case, the relationships were part of the fallout.  It was wonderful to see that the little joker I remembered had grown to become such a fantastically good hearted kid.

My husband and I had him stay over at our house for a few days while he was here.  I felt bad that most of my house is packed up and it's really empty at the moment, but he didn't complain or even seem to care.  It was hotter than the blazes, but we took him to the standard touristy LA & Hollywood stuff.  Hubs and I made it a point to take him dining around the world and the cuisine we hit included Japanese, Vietnamese, and Mexican.  I chuckle at thought of he and my husband looking like twin Godzillas stomping around in Little Tokyo.  Mostly, I'll cherish the memories of the mornings. . .my son would wake early and come to my room to sit on my bed and watch cartoons so as not to disturb the slumber of his cousin.  When my nephew would wake, he'd wander in, sit on the bed with us, and start joking around with my son.  It was so perfectly normal and comfortable. . .like he was always there and always would be.

Family or not, I might feel a little uncomfortable about a 6'3" guy sitting on the bed, but my mind couldn't help but think of him as the little boy he used to be.  The same little boy who lit up with joy when he discovered that one could not only make fart sounds with their armpit, but somehow also with the back the knee.  The same little boy who maniacally jumped up and down with his brother the year one of them received a CD of "Who Let the Dogs Out."  The same little boy grew to only become a young man before his own life ended and he joined his father in shockingly early death.  The same little boy only lived one year and three days after his father died.

* * *

Brian Rushing was young, only just turned 17-years old, but he had the confidence of a grown man.  He was bright, witty, and charming.  I don't think I've ever known such a young man who was so very comfortable in his own skin.  He knew who he was and he was cool with that because he liked himself. 

He liked watching the news and he was a great conversationalist.  He was able to discuss politics and current events as easily as sports and the current music scene.  Since his visit out here, my husband and I have often remarked that adults would actually like teenagers if every teenager was like him. 

My young son didn't just love his Cousin Brian, he ADORED him.  In only two weeks, my son grew incredibly attached.  He wailed and sobbed on the way home the night that we said goodbye to Brian.  I asked him if he wanted to send his Cousin Brian a special video message before Brian flew home and he did. My son's final line in that message holds a particular poignancy now. 

I hate that Brian's brother and sisters now have to know the unrelenting ache of his loss.  I hate that these three kids have to feel the hurt of losing a sibling because that's a pain I wouldn't wish on anyone.  More than hating the hurt that I feel at Brian's passing, I hate that I'm going to have to break my son's heart by telling him that he'll never see his Cousin Brian again.  I hate that none of us will. . .

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Thoughts on Cloth Diapers - Part I

I have decided to use cloth diapers for the new baby as soon as I can physically reach down into the washing machine to do diaper laundry.  With that in mind, I bought some used diapers around a month ago because I don't have much of a newborn stash.  I picked up a nice stack of prefolds because it seems to me that those are the most economical option for diapering a newborn.  How much did I spend?  A little less than $1 for each diaper.  SCORE!

Why buy pre-owned?  The obvious answer is that it is far less expensive to build a stash of cloth around pre-owned diapers and covers than buying new and paying full retail.  This is particularly true if you're buying premium brands.  The less obvious answer is that these diapers and/or covers have been used and the owner can give their input on how well they performed and any issues they noticed.

Did you just get creeped out at the notion of putting pre-owned diapers on a baby?  Yeah, I used to be that way too.  The fact of the matter is that diapers are just like any other article of baby clothing and they can absolutely be sanitized so you shouldn't be too skeeved out by pre-owned diapers if you're willing to accept hand-me-down baby clothes.

There are many informative sites about cloth diapers and this is a good one to get you started exploring options.  Here are some of my thoughts on cloth diapers:

- Do not buy an entire stash of one style or of one brand.  I made this mistake and it can be a costly one!  You never know what style diaper you'll like or what ones will work best for your little one.  Styles of diaper include:  Flats, Prefolds, All-in-Ones (AIOs), All-in-Twos (AI2s), Pockets - one size and sized, and Fitteds. 

- Flats, Prefolds, and Fitteds all require a cover and there are a ton of options for covers too.  You can use the old-fashioned pull on style of plastic pants, but I can't figure out why anyone would do that then they could use a cover that fastens with snaps or velcro and that has elasticized gussets at the legs to keep things nice & tidy. 

- I started off loving pocket diapers and AIOs, but my favorite styles changed over time and I ended up preferring fitteds with covers.  Keep your diapers in great condition so you can sell them later to buy other diapers that you like better.  Of course, you can always save them for any future children you may have too.

- As much as I used to love them, I hate pockets now.  There's nothing wrong with them and they worked perfectly fine, but I absolutely detest stuffing the pocket because it feels like I'm doing far more work while folding laundry.

- AIOs are the most user friendly diaper and they are basically a cloth diaper that work just like a disposable.  I found that they take FOREVER to dry and I'd be reluctant to build an entire stash around AIOs just for that reason alone, but they are really nice to have for babysitters and other caregivers because they are foolproof.

- Though I initially loved them, I ended up disliking hook & loop fasteners.  It's not that they don't work, it's that I hated picking linty stuff out of it after washing and the tabs often ended up curling up on the edges after repeated use.  However, I think hook & look is definitely is the most user-friendly fastener and it has the shortest learning curve so it's nice to have some diapers and/or covers that fasten in this way instead of with snaps.

- I was intimidated by snap fasteners on diapers and covers in the beginning, but these are definitely my preferred fasteners because they seem more durable than hook & loop and it was harder for my lil' guy to take them off and go streaking.

- A lot of people seem to think that diapers are a stained and disgusting looking mess after being used.  My diapers aren't stained and I couldn't bear to put stained dipes on my son.  Yes, I will buy pre-owned diapers, but I'm not okay with stains inside the dipe.  I truly believe that every diaper should have a dark or printed inside so that stains aren't as likely to show, but most of my diapers have white insides so I had to learn to keep staining from happening.

- The sun and a little bit of Soilove (from the 99cent Store) kept my diapers looking like new by removing any stains.  I'd squirt a little Soilove on the diaper prior to washing and then put the diaper in the sun to dry and I credit this technique (as well as an every other day wash routine) with keeping my diapers looking like new.

- I would never attempt to cloth diaper a baby if I didn't have a diaper sprayer because I'm way to squeamish to do a dunk & swish in the toilet to remove solids.  As a bonus, the diaper sprayer functions as a handheld bidet after toileting if you're so inclined to use it as such.

- I mentioned this earlier, but I didn't keep days upon days of stinky diapers sitting in the house because I think that's gross and I frequently do laundry anyway.  After doing a quick rinse with the diaper sprayer to remove any solids, I tossed the dirty dipe in a locking wastebasket until laundry day.  I never went more than three days before doing diaper laundry and never really had any staining or stinky problems with the cloth diapers.

- I fell in love with Bac-Out by Biokleen because is has such a remarkably pleasant lime scent and I'd spray it on dirty diapers before tossing the dipes in the locking wastebasket.  This way I wouldn't get knocked off my feet by the stinkies when I'd lift the lid to toss in the next dirty diaper.

* * *
I have plenty more to say about cloth diapers and expect that this will end up becoming at least a 3-part series.  If you've cloth diapered, please feel free to chime in and share any of your experiences & advice.  If you're thinking of cloth diapering, do ask any questions and share any concerns.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Definitely Patient of the Year

I'm a little over 21-weeks along and I saw my OB last week.  He reviewed the big ultrasound results from a couple of weeks ago and everything looks, in his words, "excellent!"  He was very happy to hear that I haven't had any spotting episodes since the last appointment and the baby's heartbeat sounds great. 

He commented that my weight gain (6 pounds total) is "wonderful" and added that it would be a bit on the low side if I had been at an ideal weight prior to conception, but he was happy with my progress since I was a little overweight to start.  Ouch!  My husband patiently explained several times after the appointment that, no, the doctor did not say I was fat and I'm going to choose to not obsess on the matter.  I guess it could have been worse anyway since he could have told me to reign in my eating and stop stuffing so much food in my pie-hole. 

As it is, he told me to keep doing whatever it is that I'm doing.  Um, that would be basically living on Sonic burgers, Del Taco tacos, and those vile little tacos (that are oh-so-freaking delicious right now!) from Jack in the Box.  Oh, and lemonade.  Lots & lots of lemonade.

It really should have been a quick in and out appointment because we were done within around ten minutes.  Sensing I had an opportunity and feeling like there was no time like the present, I decided to ask him about a few things that have been rattling around in my noggin.  Yep, it was time to talk about childbirth and placentas.  I asked my hubs to leave the room since the poor guy turns green when I talk about my placenta plans.  I'm nearly certain that my doctor was thinking, "Uh-oh, it's so off-the-wall that she's sending her husband away. . .what in the world is about to come out of her mouth?"  If he did think such a thought, he was right to be wary.

I chose to tackle childbirth first.  Thanks to the way that my HMO staffs OBs at the hospital, my doctor has no interest - financial or otherwise - in seeing me have a c-section.  That's great and I think it would be wonderful if that were the standard because I believe it means the doctor will be more honest when discussing the risks v benefits and less likely to use bullsh*t scare tactics to push a c/s in order to line their own pockets or manage their own time effectively.

Though I'm well informed and have taken it upon myself to get educated on the matter, he detailed the risks involved with each method of delivery.  I tried to tell him that I know all that and he asked that I listen because informed consent isn't really informed consent unless the patient is actually informed.  The logic of the statement struck a chord so I did listen.  When he was finished, I still hadn't made a clear decision.  He shrugged and said that there was no need to decide anything yet and I could take another couple of months to come up with how I'd like to birth this baby.

He didn't bring up certain things that I specifically wanted to know about so I came right out with what has been bothering me.  I will not disclose the specifics of my questions and I won't share his exact answers.  Let's just say that decades of dealing with pregnant females and their kooky questions is probably the only thing that kept him from doing a total facepalm during this discussion.

At the end of it all, I said that I'd rather have an elective repeat c-section and I am not willing to experience a trial of labor.  No, he didn't use any scare tactics.  No, he didn't push another c/s.  He simply stated the obvious and pointed out something I already knew.  I was already leaning toward another c-section since last January so I feel confident in my decision.  Of course, that's not to say that my thoughts won't change in the coming months. . .

He stood up, ready to leave, when I mentioned that I had one last question.  I asked The Question.  I wanted to know if the hospital would release my placenta to me.  I wish that I'd had a camera handy because the look on his face was priceless.  I really do think that I shocked him. . .his jaw actually dropped!  He recovered quickly and explained that he'd never been asked that question and he wasn't sure, but that he'd inquire about it on my behalf and get back to me.  He made a quick note, stared at me for a moment and asked why I wanted to take my placenta home. 

My response?  "I'd rather not disclose that information."  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that shocked him too.  I mean, I'm the patient who is basically an open book about every gross & weird thing that goes on in my body and I'm totally silent on this so I'm certain that he would like to know why I'm mum on the matter.

My husband groaned and rolled his eyes when I told him that I'd discussed my placenta with the doctor.  He was certain that there would be no way they'd let me have it because it's, as he calls it, "biological waste."  Well, I received a message yesterday from my OB and guess what?  I can take that bad boy home!  Woo-hoo!

Poor hubs shuddered when I told him the good news and remarked that I probably wouldn't be allowed to take it if they knew about my plans.  I said that they don't so it doesn't matter.  Then I gagged the poor guy out even more by suggesting that I might just plant it in the garden because it's supposed to be an excellent soil amendment.  I don't know that he'll ever eat another bit of produce that I grow again. . .LOL!

So now I'm looking for recommendations for placenta encapsulation in the Orange County area.  I will know the birth date since I'm having the birth scheduled.  Does anyone know anyone who provides this service?  Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Do You Primp. . .

for pelvic exams?

While I did have a female physician for around ten years, it's true that I generally prefer male doctors because I've mostly had not-so-good experiences with female physicians.  I would think that females would be more understanding or more gentle and men would be, well, brutish men.  But I've universally found the opposite to be true; the male doctors I've had (save one) have been far more respectful and sensitive than their female counterparts.

My experiences as a patient lead me to prefer male physicians.  Yes, even when I'm looking for an OB/GYN.  Therefore, it might sound odd that I have a routine I follow to prepare for a visit to any doctor who might have to paw around my ladyparts. 

Some of you might think it sounds like I have a weird kink, but I look at is as more of a courtesy.  For example, I wouldn't think of going to the dentist without making sure my mouth is pristine with freshly brushed and flossed teeth.  So why would I expect a gynecologist to dig around in my vagina when I have a 5 o'clock shadow and haven't bathed that day?  Simply put, I think it would be rude and inconsiderate.  All this said, I've often thought it would be hilarious to eat a mouthful of Oreos and see the dentist immediately afterward with all those grainy chocolatey cookie bits up between me teeth. . .

What's my routine?  I do a few things, but my primary concern is to make sure that my legs, hedges, and undercarriage are freshly shaved which means that I've taken a shower the day of the exam.  I might trim the turf up top if I have the time though it's not something that I worry about since that's not the part that is being handled during a gynecological exam.  I make sure that the bottoms of my feet are clean since it would be grody to put dirty feet in the stirrups.  I also remember to shave my underarms and put on deodorant because no one wants to catch a stinky whiff while doing a breast exam. 

My husband seems amused that I have this prep involved before a pelvic exam and he understands the comparison to visiting the dentist.  In any event, I suppose that there's no real primping involved since I just practice what I think is good hygiene before a doctor visit.  I can't be the only woman who does this so do weigh in if you primp for pelvic exams. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sleep is for P*ssies!

It has been weeks since I've slept more than a couple of hours in a row and I've come to the conclusion that sleep, while certainly nice and definitely coveted, is for p*ssies.  Settle down, Sleep Police, I'll explain.  I just hope I can finish before I completely pass out from utter exhaustion.

There was a time not long ago in my adult life - it seems like it was a lifetime ago - that I actually required nine-hours of sleep each night.  NINE HOURS!!  A third of the day spent in bed. . .just sleeping and dreaming my life away.  I do very little in moderation and can think of nothing quite so decadent as my old sleep schedule.  That said, I'm intensely envious of the hearty serving of sleep that my non-parent self used to enjoy and take for granted.

I'm currently operating on around four total hours of sleep.  I know, I know, "It's just preparing you for when the baby comes."  Yeah, well, I'm quite aware of the demands that an exclusively breastfed newborn puts on mama and I remember all too clearly the shockingly little amount of sleep that I had for months upon months after my son was born.  I hate to state the obvious, but this baby won't be here for 18- to 22-weeks so I have plenty of time to get back into the no-sleep groove.

What is causing my sleep troubles?  In a word, EVERYTHING!

My younger son begins kick up his heels at the same time each day.  What time would that be?  Around 1:00 or 2:00. . .in the morning.  This wouldn't be such a big deal if his dance fever didn't last until around 4:00 or 5:00 am.  I must confess that I still thrill at the feeling of his tiny hands and feet beating a tattoo against his uterine home.  I just wish he'd do it when I'd ordinarily be awake.

My older son, not to be outdone by his little brother, has also started to wake up in the middle of the night.  I can count on at least one (if not two or three!) nocturnal bedside visit from him.  He might have to pee, he might walk in and ask if his father is home, his might even grab a carton of milk from the fridge and crawl into bed with it.  Yes, that actually happened.  The strangest thing he seems to be doing (stranger than the milk carton incident in my book) is wandering out of his bedroom to the living room and crawling up on my rocking chair where he promptly conks out; though he once sat up, gave me a funny look and said, "What's going on out here?"  What indeed!

My body is also getting into the act and is my constant wake up whenever I actually am able to catch some winks between the shenanigans from my boys.  First, my bladder is clearly way too small because I'm up half the night just to pee.  Yes, I've tried limiting my fluid intake at night.  No, it doesn't appear to make much difference because my baby will still jump up and down on my bladder and make me feel like I have to pee.  Whether I actually do have to urinate is debatable because sometimes I think it's just the kicky pressure that gives me the sensation that I might have to pee, which of course wakes me up anyway.

If it's not my bladder signalling me to wake up, it's heartburn, gas, or my gallbladder.  The pain in my chest is becoming a serious pain in the @ss.  I can't sleep for hours if I'm awakened with the awful sensation that feels like I'm being run through with a sword.  The pain is directly below my sternum and it goes straight through and out my back.  I can't get a decent breath, let alone get comfortable enough to sleep, when this pain is presenting.  I'm not inclined to believe it's heartburn for reasons I've previously detailed, but I can't say that it's my gallbladder either.  That leaves gas so I'm not only getting fat, but I also have to fart.  Lovely.

I'm not sleeping anywhere near the amount of hours I'd like and guess what?  I'm still handling life.  Poorly at times perhaps, but handling it nonetheless.  Here's a thank you to my children and my body for showing me that, even with only a few hours to recharge each evening, I can do so much more than I could have ever dreamed. . .ah, dreams. . .zzzzzzzzz

Monday, August 22, 2011

Are You Down There Too?

A quote came to me a few weeks ago while thinking about an ugly situation.  I'll paraphrase:  so long as you hold someone down, some part of you is down there with them so you can't rise up as high as you might.  I suppose that it can quite literally mean to hold someone down, but I believe that the author is talking about emotional abuse and the mean things we say rather than the things we physically do.

Putting people down, talking badly about others, and being duplicitous are some of the most unbecoming behaviors in humans.  In my experience, I have found that women are far more likely to engage in said behaviors than men.  Even worse, they act that way toward each other and that makes me particularly sad.  I'm not naive enough to believe that there is a cohesive sisterhood of women, but it would be refreshingly nice to have it demonstrated that they might outgrow high school at some point and start acting like the grown women they are instead of the teenagers they once were.

I'm certainly not trying to pretend that I've never given in to the urge to gossip or otherwise act like a b*tch toward other women because I have.  I may not always be successful, but I do try to resist those urges.  How about you?  Are you busily holding someone else down?  If you are, remember that you're down there too.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Helpful Tip

It's generally not a good idea to shave your nether region
if you can't actually see it. 
Yes, I am now speaking from experience. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm Having a. . .


Our son asked for a little brother
and we are thrilled
that we're having another son.  

What Does it Look Like to You?

As I indicated last night, my big ultrasound is this afternoon.  Here is what I look like at 19-weeks, 6-days.

I find it hard to believe that I'm actually smiling while baring such a fleshy midsection.

Another shot for your, uh, viewing pleasure. . .

I have 100% guesses for girl on my Facebook page.  What gender do you think it looks like I'm carrying?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wanna Make Bets??

My big ultrasound is tomorrow and I'm obviously excited because it never gets old to hear your baby's heartbeat or see them performing a busy tumbling routine while in the womb.  I'm hoping that the ultrasound reveals that everything looks wonderfully normal.  It's been around a month since I last had any spotting episodes and I'm  optimistic that the second half of this pregnancy will be far less nerve-wracking than the first half.

Of course, I'm also very interested to see if the technician can make a gender determination.  That's dependent on a number of factors, primarily that the child will sit still and, ahem, provide ample viewing opportunity.  That is, open their legs and not move away too quickly.

My husband's family is heavily male and the general feeling is that it's definitely a boy I'm carrying.  I did have that name dream about two weeks prior to conception and the name was definitely female with absolutely zero gender ambiguity.  This pregnancy is very similar to the one I had with my son, but it is significantly different in many ways and the exact same could be said about the baby's movement patterns.

Anyone care to weigh in on whether you think I'm having a girl or a boy?  If so, why do you think this baby is the gender you think?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Fun From My Son

I'm endlessly amused by the things by son says. . .except when I'm infinitely irritated by the same!

- We were at dinner with some friends and one friend is named Sally.  My son kept mumbling a song under his breath while eating and I ignored it.  I finally heard what he was singing when I took him to the bathroom.  "Lay down Sally, lay down Sally."  Relax, prudes, he wasn't trying to make time with her - he's just a Clapton fan like his Mama.

- Del Taco has a deal where you can buy 6 tacos and 6 burritos for a price break.   The tacos and burritos come in a special cardboard box.  My son is now obsessed with said box and my pervy mind gets plenty of lulz every time he says, "I love taco box." 

- My husband was explaining to our son that misbehaving in restaurants makes us unhappy and that the little guy would have to behave if he wanted to dine out at a restaurant.  Hubs roared with laughter when the boy replied, "That can be arranged."

- He knows that our family is getting a baby after Christmas, but that the baby is in Mama's tummy until then.  He lifted my shirt the other day and kept looking at my belly button which is an innie.  He finally asked, "Is the baby in there?"

- The song "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts was on the radio one day and he said, "This is your song, Mama?"  I told him that I like the song and he patiently listened to my explanation of which song his Daddy and I had picked for our special song.  He said, "This is my song," when Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey" came on.

- We were listening to "Hard Headed Woman" one day and he asked, "Who's this?"  I replied that it was Cat Stevens.  He cracked up and was laughing so hard that he couldn't even say his name.  I just know he had a vision of a cat singing and playing guitar.

- Thanks to a cartoon that he likes to watch, my son recently learned about the concept of forgiveness.  He got a boo boo from something that I did the other day (I can't even remember what it was) and he said, "I don't forgive you."  Understandably upset, I tried to explain that forgiveness and love go hand in hand.  He was having none of it and I gave up because it's not like I did anything to need his forgiveness anyway.  Today he asked me, "Mama, do you forgive me?"  I said he'd done nothing that requires forgiveness, but that I would always freely forgive him because he's my son and I love him.  His reply melted my heart and reminded me yet again why I am so thankful to be his mother, "I forgive you too.  Oh, I love you Mama.  I love you Mommy."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fears and Joys Exist with Either Gender

I'm 19-weeks along today!  Full term is considered anywhere between 38- to 42-weeks (most EDDs are calculated as 40-weeks from LMP) so I'm essentially at the midpoint of this pregnancy.  Crazy, right?  It seems like it was just yesterday that I saw that miraculous second pink line on Easter morning.  I'm trying so hard to savor each moment of this pregnancy because I'm very aware that it will likely be the last time that I'll ever have this experience.  I love this baby so much and the time really is flying!

In less than a week I will finally find out if I will need to purchase new baby clothes or if I can make do with hand-me-downs from my son.  I technically could find out right now, actually a few weeks ago, but I couldn't get in any earlier due to scheduling difficulties.  In my typical way of overthinking things, I've been pondering parenting each gender.  The word around the campfire is that it's impossible for my husband's family to yield girls, but the name dream I had two weeks prior to conception was definitely a girl's name and I find myself mentally calling this baby by that name.  Of course, I will be beyond thankful for either a boy or a girl and I pray every night for a healthy baby born at term.

My Thoughts on Boys
I wasn't sure that I'd be up to the task of raising a young man, but I believe that I was truly made to mother a son.  My son is a bright star in my life and I adore him.  He's my joy, my heart. 

I "get" how boys think and I think I have far more in common with males than females.  I certainly get along better with XY than XX.  I like watching sports, shooting guns, building stuff, taking things apart, and getting dirty.  My superhero and sci-fi geekery is well known and I'll pick an action movie over a rom-com (the gag-inducing chick flick) any day of the week.  I love sharing my love of all manly things with my son and our relationship is a perfectly comfortable fit.

Much as I like being one of the guys and mothering one, this mother does have fears about raising boys.  I worry that my soft tendencies will make him a wimpy doormat and I alternately worry that he'll become a bully.  I cringe at the notion of a predatory woman targeting him or of him becoming a predatory male.  I ache over the thought of a woman breaking his heart, cleaning out his bank account, moving away with his children (my grandchildren!), and otherwise hurting him in any way she can. . .unfortunately, our court system so heavily favors women that he'll be pretty much guaranteed an unfavorable outcome if he ever suffers the pain of divorce.  I so hurt over that last notion that I already find myself praying about his future wife - that she'll be lovingly raised and that she'll always be there for my son, his biggest cheerleader and greatest helper.  The flip side to that is that I pray he will be the kind of man who knows how to be lovingly considerate and that he'll easily inspire such devotion in his mate.

What upside do I see to mothering boys?  I think I've covered how well-suited I am to mother boys, but it's also that I would always be the queen of castle and I like being the only female in the house.  It sometimes seems to me that sons are closer to their mothers than daughters are though that relationship often appears to reverse sometime in adulthood.  I guess the bottom line is that I have a good track record now with mothering a little boy and I think I would be more comfortable to have a familiar experience by having a second son.

My Thoughts on Girls
Pink is my favorite color, but I am not a girly-girl.  I don't like frilly dresses, I think tea parties sound boring, I don't understand why screaming about bugs is more effective than simply squashing them, and I'm not generally a fan of fussy behavior.  If it weren't for my vagina, I'd wonder if I'm really a girl.

I like being the main source of estrogen in my house and I proudly wear my queenly crown, but it seems to me that the family dynamic changes significantly when a princess is added to the mix.  I have noted that some, not all, mothers and daughters have a bond that isn't one I want to have with a child of my own; they just aren't that close or loving with each other.  Two hormonal chicks in the house at one time generally is not a positive living arrangement.

Based on mother-daughter relationships I've observed, I fear that my own competitive nature would roar to life and perhaps an unspoken jealousy would begin to exist on my end at some point.  Females are so often mean to other females and I wouldn't want a child of mine to experience that special brand of girlish cruelty - from others or their own mother.

I believe that girls are sexualized at a far earlier age than boys and, perhaps as a result, girls are more likely to be sexually and/or physically abused in some fashion by their peers and by older people.  Unfortunately, abuse often negatively impacts victims in their relationships for years, even decades afterward, and a girl who has been abused will many times end up in what is essentially the same relationship with a new abuser.  The very thought of a child of mine being so wounded actually brings tears to my eyes because it's a lifelong injury and I don't think the healing is ever totally complete.

The upside I see to mothering a girl?  Obviously it's that you can support another woman, your own daughter, on her own motherhood journey.  Sure, your son may father children, but frequently that child's mother would rather have her own mother offer help, advice, and support.  In an ideal world, you would be more actively involved in the pregnancy, birthing, and raising of your daughter's children because usually women on their motherhood journey can count on their own mothers to be there for them.  I tell myself that I absolutely would be there for my daughter, no matter what. 

I guess I am afraid of the unfamiliar and I'm not sure that I have the history or ability to adequately mother a girl.  I have many friends who are wonderfully loving mothers to their daughters and I think it's possible to be the kind of mother I want to be if I observe and learn what girls need.

* * *

Do you have sons or daughters or both?  What joys did you find about mothering your children?  What concerns did you have about mothering either gender?  Were your concerns valid or did you find that they were totally unfounded?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So Similar and So Different

I assumed that I'd sail through any pregnancy after I had my son because I'd done it before.  It's funny how each pregnancy is totally different, isn't it?  Perhaps it's just that memories fade over time and I can't totally remember what it was like when my son was growing in-utero.

- I am completely surprised by how wiped out I am even in the second trimester.  I remember being slammed with first trimester exhaustion with my son, but it seems like my energy came back at some point.  Otherwise, how in the world did I put in the hours I did at work when I was pregnant with him?

- I don't remember backaches beginning so early with my son, though my husband says I complained about my back the entire time.  I had gained more than twice that amount of weight at 19-weeks when I was pregnant with my son than what I have so far so I'd expect that I had backaches that time around.  I still haven't even gained five pounds yet and it makes no sense that my back already hurts.

- I have never eaten as much protein in my entire life!  I ate a very balanced diet when I was pregnant with my son and, other than suddenly liking pork, I didn't have any weird cravings.  I certainly didn't have any food aversions.  I only want to consume animal flesh this time around and it is very difficult for me to force down veggies which is certainly a weird about-face on my normally veggie-heavy diet.  I still can't bring myself to consume dairy right now and that's bizarre because I used to go through a gallon of milk each week.

- I never had any spotting and certainly didn't have any outright bleeding when I was pregnant with my son.  I've detailed my drama with this pregnancy in this blog so there's no need to revisit that bloody mess.

- My breasts ACHED throughout my entire pregnancy with my son.  I can't remember what hurt worse, my back or my boobs.  The twins don't exactly feel very touchable at this point and are still sensitive, but I don't think I'd kill someone for copping a feel either.

- I felt baby kicks far earlier this time around, but the baby is significantly more mellow.  My son made me feel like I was being beat up from the inside out and so far this baby is more gentle and seems less active.  I'll be 19-weeks tomorrow and it's entirely possible that I'm just not feeling all the movement yet.

If you've had more than one baby, how were your pregnancies different?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm a Girl!

No, I'm not having a girl. . .that I know of. . .I'm just amazed that I've become somewhat girly in the last several weeks.  No, I'm not suddenly obsessed over screwing around with my hair and I'm not investing much time powdering my face.  However, I am dressing more girly now than I have in YEARS.

What do I consider to be girly clothes?  Dresses and skirts.  Long or short, doesn't really matter, just as long as it can be lifted up out of the way so you can pee.  Hm, that wasn't a very girly description now was it?

I'm not terribly fond of showing my legs because I think they are my least attractive feature.  Chunky thighs and cankles generally aren't all that desirable, even among people who like women a little on the thicker side.  So I always wear pants (I have only started wearing capris in the last few years) to cover up my stems.  Okay, okay, stems sounds a bit too flattering - my legs actually resemble something more like tree trunks.

For some reason I can't figure, I have been only wearing dresses and skirts for several weeks.  I don't know if it's my increased body temperature and the hot Summer days or what, but I don't want fabric wrapped around my legs.  Ideally I'd get a cooling breeze to drift up my dress and if I was young enough or hot enough I think I'd be living in mini-skirts.

Do you find that your clothing tastes and preferences change with seasons, age, and/or pregnancy?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why is Miscarriage so Isolating?

A couple of things on Facebook reminded me of a post that I always intended to write.  Though I had an outpouring of love and support after I lost my baby in January, I was surprised at how isolating a miscarriage is to women who have lost their babies.  Not only is the tragedy isolating, but I found that most women keep quiet about miscarriage unless they pulled my move of blabbing about the pregnancy early on and ended up with a loss.

Why is it that miscarriage is shrouded in painful silence?  We know that around 20% of confirmed pregnancies end with a miscarriage and there is some evidence that it's more like 50% of all pregnancies (not necessarily confirmed pregnancies) end in loss.  Think of the women you know. . .chances are that several of them have lost at least one baby; perhaps you have too.  So why are women so reluctant to talk about it if so many of us have experienced it?

I wonder if the medical establishment view toward miscarriage doesn't help squelch healing discussions after loss.  After all, one miscarriage isn't considered to be a problem and a woman isn't generally going to receive additional care until she's suffered at least two (or more!) losses in a row.  The message that this attitude sends is that your one miscarriage isn't a big deal.  It's not even important enough to warrant any further examination once they've verified that the "products of conception" are out of your womb.

You know what?  Every baby that is lost is a big deal.  It's a big freaking deal to the woman who miscarried and it's a big deal to her family because they also lost a family member.  It's heartless and cruel to suggest or imply that miscarriage doesn't matter.

I also wonder if the standard responses people give to women who have experienced miscarriage doesn't force women to clam up and hold back their feelings.  I heard some things that were so off-the-charts insensitive that I almost couldn't believe that a loved one would ever consider saying them to a grieving mother.  And that's exactly what a woman who lost a baby is - a grieving mother.  It makes no difference that her baby was never born when the fact is that her baby was alive at one time.  I think sometimes people forget that a baby is very real to a woman as soon as she discovers that she's pregnant. . .as soon as she hears that precious heartbeat.

I was contacted by many women who had lost babies after I shared that my pregnancy had ended.  Whether or not they went on to have a perfectly healthy baby later, we are all united in knowing the pain of miscarriage.  A sisterhood of sorrow.  Not surprisingly, none of these women tried to downplay what had happened and their support was particularly comforting.

If any good can be found in losing my baby in January it's that I know the ache of loss and, since I have a big mouth (or, more accurately, an active keyboard), I hope that I make the loneliest of tragedies feel a little less isolating to at least one woman.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Are Pregnant Chicks Wearing?

I'm nearly halfway done with this pregnancy and, since all my maternity clothes are packed up and out of my house, I'm starting to look at clothing options for when I outgrow my existing wardrobe.  "Wardrobe" makes it sound so grand, but at the moment I'm limited to three pairs of pants, five shirts, and a few dresses.  Yeah, right about now I'm really annoyed that the vast majority of my clothes are gone.

I hate shopping, but I'm forced to do it so I can get some clothes that will fit for the next few months.  That is, I will need to purchase some maternity clothes.  And there is my problem.  NO ONE SELLS MATERNITY CLOTHES!!  Seriously. 

I have dragged my old bones to stores all over town, grumbling to myself about how much I hate shopping the entire time, and all I found was three small T-racks and a wall display of maternity clothes at Kohls.  I should also add that I'm continually irritated that no one sells plain ol' cotton nightgowns either.  Pajama sets, yes.  Night shirts, yes.  Nightgowns, no.

Am I the only woman in SoCal who would like maternity clothes and a cotton nightgown?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Decisions, Decisions - Childbirth Edition

At my appointment a week ago, my OB asked if I'd given any thought as to how I'd like to birth this baby and the fact is that I'm just not sure at this point in time.  Thanks to the way Kaiser staffs OBs in their hospitals, he doesn't have any vested interest in pushing either method of delivery (surgical or vaginal) and I truly get the impression that it doesn't make a difference to him one way or another.  The only thing that he had a definite opinion on is that he asked that I decide how I'd like to birth this baby by the 7th month or so and I'm hoping that I'll have an answer by then.

I hate feeling this way, but I fear that my body won't do what it's supposed to do if I choose to have a VBAC.  I feel like my body has already failed me in terms of pushing out a fetus so I have zero confidence in my ability to vaginally birth a baby being born at term.  I know myself well enough to realize that I will feel like a personal failure if I go for the VBAC and still end up with a c/s and the last thing a hormonal new mother needs to feel like is a failure.

On the other hand, I felt like I was hit by a freaking bus after my c/s.  I really don't relish the thought of such a painful recovery while caring for a newborn and my son.  I also would like to spend as little time in the hospital as possible and I'm pretty much committing to three-days if I go the c/s route. 

Adding another wrinkle to my decision making process is that I'd prefer to have my doctor do the honors if I have to have someone slice open my abdomen.  I know it sounds kooky and I'm sure the other OBs on staff are perfectly competent, but I have absolute confidence in my doctor's competence and I don't want some stranger to cut me.  Going back to the way Kaiser staffs their OBs at the hospital, the only way I can be sure that my own doctor will be the one rifling around in my insides will be if I schedule the c/s.  Well, that and it would be important to know if he'll be scheduled to work in the hospital at some point when I'm at term.

At the moment I'm leaning toward having an elective repeat c-section and it's only the weeks of pain that I know I'll experience if I go that route that is keeping me from outright saying that my baby will be cut from me rather than naturally released.  I feel so emotionally scarred from my failed natural miscarriage that I don't think a VBAC is right for me under any circumstances.  I can't even visualize a VBAC without thinking about that painfully heartbreaking day and I'd hate to cloud this baby's birth-day with memories of such sadness.  Of course, my thoughts may be totally different on another day so my decision is far from being made.

Did you have a c/s and end up having another child afterward?  What did you choose?  Why?  What was your outcome?  Thoughts, advice, and opinions are welcome and I only ask that all comments are kind and respectful.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Due Date with No Baby

Most readers probably remember that I suffered a miscarriage earlier this year.  If they don't, it's probably because they couldn't bear to read the things that I wrote while trying to process my heartbreak at losing a long-desired pregnancy.  I can't say that I would blame anyone for skipping those posts. . .I wish I could just erase that part of my life and I certainly wouldn't want a spectator's seat to it.  If you missed out and are interested, check out the posts I wrote in January and February to know what I'm writing about.

I realize that most children are not born exactly on their due date, but today was my baby's due date.  I would have either had a newborn by now or I would have had one in the next two weeks or so.  Of course, that wasn't to be and here I sit, just shy of 18-weeks pregnant with the one who I hope will be the final member of our family.

Losing that pregnancy resulted in a loss of innocence, an awareness that sometimes the most painfully cruel things can happen when least expected.  Sometimes you really do get kicked when you're already down.  Losing that baby also resulted in fostering a fierce love and gratitude, deeper than I ever knew possible, for my son who was born and for the baby currently living in my womb.  I guess it's because I realize that they could have been, and I suppose still could be, taken from me at any moment.

I attempted to achieve pregnancy for so long and I now know that life is never promised, even where life once existed.  In that mindset, I've tried so hard to think positive about this pregnancy and avoid complaining about any uncomfortable symptoms because I know that I'm lucky to have them at all.  Some may say that I'm reallly not all that successful with either intention, but I really do try.

One day, one day far in the future, I fully expect to be able to finally hold my babies who were never born.  And on that day, the holes in my heart will finally be filled.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kiddie Matinee is a HIT

My son is becoming quite the big boy!  For the first time ever, he actually sat through and watched a movie!  If you know my son, you'll realize this is a major accomplishment because the kid doesn't sit still for more than a few minutes at a time.  Not only did he watch the movie, but he paid enough attention that he LOVED it! 

He told me how much he enjoyed the "chickmonkeys" (that would be "chipmunks" to you) once he woke from his nap.  I asked which one was his favorite and he replied the red one (Alvin) was his friend.  Then he had fun hollering, "ALVIN," just like Dave Seville.

Just last year he wasn't able to be in a theater for more than twenty minutes or so. . .my little one is growing up so fast!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fallacies and Falsehoods on Facebook

I like politics and I like healthy debate.  However, I try my very best to avoid political discussions on my friends' Facebook walls.  I don't steer clear because I am uninformed or because I can't get my point across (some may well say that I'm a little too pointed), but I generally try to restrain myself from participating because it has become abundantly clear to me that political Facebook statuses are meant to become a circle jerk of like-minded believers.  That is, dissent is not usually appreciated or tolerated. 

Why not participate?  I mean, we are all adults and we should be quite aware that the entire world doesn't share our viewpoints.  Besides, learning about and hearing other ideas and thoughts is one of the ways that we achieve personal growth as individuals.  In an ideal world, both preceeding statements would be true.  In the real world, we appear to be stuck in obstinate toddlerhood when it comes to politics - we want to oppose, but we can't truly handle opposition from anyone else.

Put simply I try to avoid commenting on these statuses because, at best, I alienate a friend.  At worst, I end up learning that a friend is too cowardly to let their thoughts (and others') remain and they make active use of their delete button.  I've already blogged about how I feel about trying to erase thoughts as it relates to blogging and I feel the same about people, friends or otherwise, doing it on Facebook.  It doesn't mean that I won't be friends with them any longer because I'm an adult and I accept my friends as they are, perceived flaws and all, but it is disappointing when it happens.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't care if someone is so narrow-minded that they can't handle reading a difference of opinion.  I certainly do care when someone who I care about is off-the-charts judgemental and mean-spirited toward those with different political persuasions.  Those "different" people would be those who share my political thoughts and ideals.  I have to say that I even find it hurtful to some extent because engaging in and condoning name calling against "those" people is the same as doing it to me.  Get it?  What is said about "them" is being said about me.

I don't exactly wear my heart on my sleeve so, my personal feelings aside, I'm more disturbed when I see that someone I care about is whole-heartedly approving outright fallacies and falsehoods.  Seeing a friend spreading and applauding fallacious arguments and outright falsehoods feels like it did when you found out that a friend was behind the vicious rumors about you in high school and it's very much the same thing your Facebook friend is doing now.  "I don't get her or her way of thinking so she must be fill-in-the-blank."  I've actually seen that "blank" filled in with words not based on any facts, but solely designed to incite a violent reaction (verbal or otherwise):  racist, misogynistic, @sshole, stupid, unpatriotic, Rethuglican, Dumbicrat, etc. 

I respectfully submit that it's intentionally ignorant to ascribe a negative name toward someone when you aren't even interested in hearing why they believe the way they do.  This childish name calling is essentially the internet way of putting your hands over your ears and saying, "la, la, la - I can't hear you!"  Even worse is that it's not that they can't hear, it's that they won't hear and there is a huge difference between the two.  Who knows, maybe they have been so conditioned to have an "us vs them" mentality that they really can't hear.  If that's the case, I find it profoundly sad that they've been so brainwashed to have tunnel thoughts. . .like tunnel vision, but infinitely more detrimental.

I have written some controversial blog posts.  I have shared some controversial content on Facebook.  I have sometimes stirred up an entire hornet's nest of venomous activity.  One thing I haven't done, and will not do, is talk sh*t about friends who think differently than I do.  And I surely will not be chickensh*t about it and phrase poisonous ideas about "those" people.  It's not about "you," it's about "them!"  Yeah, keep telling yourself that and perhaps someone will eventually believe it.

Another thing I won't do is delete comments that aren't in perfect lockstep with my own thoughts.  See, I may be an unpatriotic, racist, misogynistic @sshole (all that would be news to me and, I hope, to those who know me - well, except the @sshole part!), but I am not a coward and I am not afraid of people who think differently than I do.  As one who loves freedom, I sure as heck am not willing to censor other people who are flexing their own freedom to share their thoughts.

I love Facebook because it's a great tool to keep in touch with people who I don't often see or have an opportunity to chat with, but sometimes I can really do without the things I learn about friends and family.  Of course, the flip side is that those friends and family members are probably thinking the same thing about me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Was Just Old, Now I Get Another Label

I think Kaiser might be label-obsessed.  I was reviewing the paperwork I received from the doctor's office last week and found yet another label applied toward me.  You probably remember that I was so offended at the "advanced maternal age" label in June that I wrote an entire blog post railing about it.  I still bristle at the designation, but it is definitely preferred to the label I found on another bit of paperwork which specified that I was "elderly."  Grrr.

What was written in my medical record to bother me this time?  It's that I'm officially considered a "high risk pregnancy."  High risk.  High freaking risk.

I'm assuming that I've earned this new label because my body won't stop with the stupid spotting and it's not considered in the realm of normal to have any vaginal bleeding in the second trimester.  Though I still have spotting every now and then, I am thankful that I don't bleed on a daily basis any longer.  I guess the occasional spotting is enough to earn me a spot in the high risk category of pregnancy designations.

So I'm old and high risk now.  I'm afraid to ask what label could possibly be next?  Chronic oversharer?  Demanding complainer?  Of course, my next label could be Patient of the Year, but I'm pretty sure that I'm out of the running at this point.

In other news, my baby apparently thought today was a good day to boogie down in my womb and I felt tiny kicks and rolls several times in the wee hours of the morning and after eating during the day.  I'll gladly take the designations that I don't like as long as I get to hold this sweet little baby in around 22-weeks or so.

Friday, July 29, 2011

When Did You Stop Wearing. . .

your child?

I'm 17-weeks pregnant today and I still wear my 3-year old fairly often.  Yes, I know he can walk.  Yes, I know that he's not a "baby" any longer.  Yes, I know that several people think I'm totally bonkers for wearing him at all - especially while pregnant AND in the hot Summer months.

Why do I still wear him?  Mainly because wearing him is sometimes the safest and easiest option when we're in public and he's only 3-years old so his legs tire far easier and earlier than mine.  Also, he's pretty tall and it's becoming impossible to find a stroller that he can comfortably ride in for any long periods of time.  And, I confess, whether at home or in public, both my son and I like the closeness that wearing him provides.

I weighed him today and he's finally 30-pounds.  I realize that he's far from being a heavy load, but I know that my back will only continue to ache and it will get worse as this pregnancy progresses.  At this point, however, it's not that big of a deal to toss him on my back in the Ergo or the Boba or to let him ride on my hip in the pouch or the ring sling.

But the clock is ticking and I will have to decide pretty quick when I'm going to stop wearing him.  I don't want to bar him from riding on my back or hip too close to my due date because I don't want him to draw the connection that his loss of ridership privileges is the baby's fault.  Depending on how I deliver this baby, I may not even be able to pick him up for weeks afterward - let alone hitch a ride for extended periods on my body.  Besides, I'm assuming that I'll be wearing the baby all cozied up in a wrap so that only leaves my back available for toddler rides anyway.

So, back to my original question, when did you stop wearing your child(ren)?  Did you wear your kiddos during pregnancy?  When did you stop wearing them if you wore them in pregnancy?  Was your older child jealous that the new baby was being worn and they were not?  If you had a c/s, did the older child ever want to be worn again once you were able to wear them?