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.