Sunday, August 29, 2010


We are in the middle of ear infection hell. Allergic to pretty much any effective antibiotic on the market, Wren has had the same ear infection for 10 days and the only change is it is now in both ears instead of just the one it originally started in. Not exactly the progress we were hoping for.

I realize in the grand scheme of things this is not the end of the world, but it has thrown ours slightly off balance this weekend. We now have to see an ENT to check for hearing loss, our regular pediatrician to start food allergy testing so we can pinpoint why a child who has never had strep, a respiratory infection or any other illness cannot shake ear infections, and we have to honestly consider the possibility of tubes despite how hard we have fought it for 20 months.

In the midst of this, I saw why Dennis and I balance each other out so well. This morning, a Sunday no less, when Wren was screaming, grabbing both ears and on the verge of hyperventilation, I was torn up inside. Dennis was too, but I think he handled it better. I didn’t handle it well because it was the waiting period. Wait for an emergency care center to open, wait to see what they say, wait to see what our pediatrician on call will say about what the emergency care center person said, and on and on and on. I don’t wait well. Dennis does. But the tables turned when I spoke to our pediatrician and we started making a plan. Within minutes I looked up all the ENTs she recommended, including their age, number of children, office hours, and the mood and temperament of their office staff. I had phone numbers listed, stats and risk on procedures documented and a slew of questions written in my spiral. I was armed. The illusion of control was intoxicating. Waiting was over. When phones are turned on in the morning, I will strike with a vengeance. By this point, Dennis was the lump of a mess I had been hours before.

It’s not that he wasn’t ready to act. He knows the food testing, poo collecting, and hearing test are all necessary to try to continue to avoid tubes but also figure out if there is any other viable option. It’s just that his mind went a different way than mine: are they going to puncture her eardrum this week to test the junk inside? How do they food allergy test? Is the new antibiotic she’s on going to cause her to be sick(diarrhea was pretty much guaranteed, so fun for the week we collect poo!)? How traumatized is she going to be after a week of probing, testing, and feeling sick?

All of this had crossed my mind and still does, but I saw it as doing something, a means to an end that will hopefully include the end of all ear infections forever. Yes, it will be a messy week or month or whatever, but we’re moving. I’m the person who would rather be going 10 miles an hour in slow traffic than just sitting even if it means I have to do the whole stop and start thing constantly. I like to measure progress. Maybe it just means I’m not patient.

Either way, I expect it’s going to take both of our personalities to weather whatever the ear future holds. Whenever one of us struggles, the other just seems to be okay or at least functional at that moment. It’s a nice balance in a situation that seems to have no balance right now. But I am afraid it may prove what I already feared: I haven’t learned much about patience. That illusion of control still appeals to me a little too much. Then again, I found an Indian proverb that says “Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” Maybe I’m the rower. While Dennis sits patiently in the boat seeking guidance, maybe I’m the one who feels better with paddles in both hands, praying but using what little skill I have to row. I don’t know. I’ll pray, I’ll row, and somehow, we’ll hopefully land in a place that doesn’t involve ear infections, allergic reactions, or words like poo and collecting lumped together.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A year and two sizes later

Trying to convince my husband that buying panties while pregnant is not a good idea has failed the last couple of months, so I took some of the birthday cash I received and decided to surprise him. He had a final in college on Thursday, and I thought it would be perfect if he came home and could see my new undies in the Victoria’s Secret bag since he has been complaining that I’ve had the old ones too long. I overcame the voice in my head that kept saying, “Do not buy panties while pregnant, do not look at your butt while pregnant, none of this is smart.” The lesson learned from this is always listen to the voice.

Wren and I set out on my 31st birthday and had a pretty good first trip to Victoria’s Secret. I picked out undies, she put some on her head and roamed around, and we were out of there in under ten minutes. It wasn’t until she was napping that I decided to try on my new purchases. I wasn’t expecting any major surprises; I had purchased the same size I always wore. There was a surprise waiting when I put them on though: they disappeared. That’s right, my pregnant butt ate them! Now I have been trying to tell Dennis that with this pregnancy my butt has also become pregnant, but in his always supportive way he says that it’s not true and I’m just being paranoid. The panty eating butt incident is proof.

I didn’t get too upset. I mean, I knew my other ones were a little snug and you can only blame that on too many trips through the dryer for so long. So, Wren and I trudged back to Victoria’s Secret to trade them in, something you can do if you’ve tried them on over underwear and they are not “obviously worn”. Who tries to return obviously worn panties I wonder, but, I digress. This second trip was a little different. Wren tried to use a bra as a slingshot and actually got her arms tangled up in some bright orange panties. However, she was distracted and happy, her slingshot aim wasn’t great so no one got hurt, and it gave me some time to stop and really think about my butt size and what would fit over my newfound ten pounds of cellulite. I decided to go up a size. That’s right, one size. I even consulted a 17 year old, size 0 sales associate before making this decision. Her advice: “Maybe you can just buy what you think you will need after the baby comes, you know, when everything falls back into place. By the way, get the ones with the lace at the top because those will stretch while your belly is still stretching.”
And yes, this individual is still alive. I was even so full of the love of Christ that day that I didn’t bother to shatter her no body fat world by telling her that things don’t fall back into place after you have a child, they just fall. You try to catch them with underwire and big butt cheek covering panties. I just smiled and resisted the urge to tell Wren to aim the bra slingshot at her.

So, we left. Why did I not try them on at the store, you ask? We were running startlingly close to bedtime, something I don’t usually do, and locking Wren in a small room with me while I tried to analyze the amount of butt coverage this size offered just didn’t seem wise. Besides, I went up a size. That should be good, right?

Well, the birthday panty plan failed. When Dennis came home all he found was a wife who had tried on five more pairs of panties that didn’t fit(one actually cut off circulation to my thighs) and was trying desperately not to blame him for the fact that I now know EXACTLY how much bigger my butt is. He had good intentions. And really, I love my pregnancy body, I loved it the whole pregnancy with Wren. This pregnancy has been no different until now, and I finally know the difference: I never looked at myself from the waist down before when I was pregnant. I definitely was not stupid enough to look at myself in a full length mirror wearing nothing but underwear. Am I getting dumber with each pregnancy?

I still love my pregnancy body, most of it, and I don’t feel 31, whatever that is supposed to feel like. This experience showed me that I have matured, and I don’t just mean put on weight. This experience five years ago would have led to tears for most of the day. Now, Wren and I laughed, put panties on our heads and called it a day. My body makes babies and milk, so I think that makes up for my bottom being a bit on the J. Lo side right now. I don’t want to teach my daughter that panty size is a defining factor for self esteem. Plus, I did realize that I’ve been letting some things slide, important things that I need to address soon. If I am going to push a child out of my body without drugs in less than four months, I need to start getting my body ready for that. I wouldn’t sign up for a marathon without practicing my running, so I don’t think I should enter labor in the not so wonderful shape I’m in now. And that’s when I realized I’m more concerned about my health than my clothes size, more concerned about keeping my body in a healthful condition than having no cellulite. Don't get me wrong, rock hard legs like I had when I spent the better part of my day exercising would be nice, but that's not my long term goal, even after the cellulite shock. I want to teach my children to focus on health, not numbers on the scale or sizes on clothes because I think when your focus is right the rest of it just falls into place. That was my a-ha moment: after 31 years, I have finally discovered how to put on my big girl panties(literally) and be the example I want my children to see. I won’t just be saying it, I’m going to live it. And really, only 31 years to learn. I’m a pretty quick study.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Great and Real Expectations

Baby Alive farted today. This may not sound eventful, but it was actually kind of scary to see and hear a doll with such life like features fart and then scream “hug me” repeatedly for 20 minutes. Wren started freaking out a little and I thought about putting a pillow over Baby Alive’s head to muffle the sound. However, I had visions of Wren in a few months trying to quite Sammy’s cries with a pillow to the face and thought better of it. That would totally be my fault. So we just laid her on the bed and let her freak out until she closed her huge eyes and fell into a peaceful slumber.

Baby Alive was only acting this way because her batteries are low. She’s usually polite, not too demanding, one of Wren’s favorites. It was a great visual demonstration of what can happen when our batteries get low. It was also a freaky reminder of that Chucky movie from when I was a kid.

It’s easy for me to forget the tired, run down times when I’m not tired or run down. Right now, I feel so alive and like I’m accomplishing so much. Wren and I have our summer schedule pretty ironed out, the house is generally in some kind of order, and I feel completely rested. Dennis is about to embark on his last semester of college before receiving his Bachelors in December. It’s good. The second trimester rocks. And though it’s not easy thinking about taking Wren back to daycare, I feel like we could be on the cusp of life changes that will eventually eliminate that need and allow us to grow our family even more. I’m not looking forward to returning to work, but I am working hard on doing it with the enthusiasm my students deserve. Plus, I have maternity leave just around the corner.

There have been days in the last two weeks when things have fallen so beautifully into place that I actually felt like I should be wearing a Suzy Homemaker tiara and sash. However, I have to remember that there will be days I want to toss the tiara and hang myself with the sash, days that dinner isn’t hot and on the table at six, days that my house is not clean and I am not functioning on eight full hours of sleep. There will be days I’ve been locked in a room with 75 eighth graders and all their attitudes, and I will want to scream. I can’t wait to meet Sammy, but I know that I’m going to be a Jersey cow for the better part of the first two years of his life, and I’ll be trying to sleep and keep up with a two year old the rest of the time. I remember the first few months with Wren as a newborn as some of the most beautiful moments of my life. I didn’t care that nothing was clean, that I pretty much just served as a milking machine-in fact breast feeding was one of my favorite parts and I’m sure will be again-, and that we only ate because people from our church brought us food. I knew I was accomplishing the most important task by just being with my child and not being anal about everything else. I know it will be that way with Sammy too, but I also know I won’t be napping when he naps unless Wren happens to be napping too. I know we’ll be doing play dates for Wren so she’s not bored instead of just laying in the recliner semi-unconscious together. And I am looking forward to balancing both. However, I know one thing my daughter and I for sure have in common: if not well rested and well fed, we are beast. We are Baby Alive farting and begging for love and not wanting to be hugged when someone finally does approach us. We’re nuts. And I do anticipate the double or triple or more sleep deprivation that comes with having two children instead of just one. So I’m trying to recharge now, rest, cook, play, and just take it one day at a time. I figure if I get into the habit of this it will be easier to accomplish when I am run down with low batteries.

I will not set unrealistic expectations. When Sammy is born and I am chasing one child and constantly feeding the other, I will not scrub toilets, cook if I’m exhausted and need a nap, try to pretend I have it all under control. I will laugh and enjoy every moment and remember that at some point I will be able to clean with my two little helpers beside me, return phone calls, sleep through the night. Every moment with them is so unique and fleeting. I won’t miss them because I’m worried about doing something else. Even when my battery is low, I will bask in the happiness of the moment and remember that real grown up junk is always going to be around for me to do. Little ones grow too fast.

Should my plan of just letting go and not stressing fail and you find me having a Baby Alive like tantrum, please don’t put a pillow over my face. Just cover me up with a blanket and let me nap. That’s probably all I’ll need anyway.