Thursday, March 25, 2010

Really I don't scream. Except when I do.

Yesterday I was all offended when Sam asked me to please not scream at the baby. Because, dude, I'm not a screamer. Sure I occasionally raise my voice or shout from the other room, and it's possible that I even yell at times. But I don't SCREAM.

Except when I do.

Like this morning, when I screamed at Sam. I won't go into detail. Let's just said things were said (like, I said reasonable things and he said, "No."), lines were crossed (like the line where if he said "No" one more time I was going to explode), and we both felt bad.

Because I do. Screaming isn't helpful. What I screamed was "STOP SAYING NO" and then, guess what? He said "no." So while there was a brief look of fear in his eyes, he did not, in fact, alter his behavior in the slightest. I just get to live with knowing that I scared my kid. Great. I mean, I'm sure that's how super-mom does it.

Screaming is indulgent. I'm frustrated, so I want to scream. But it's not helpful. It's my same issue with hitting. I don't hit my kids because I don't want to hurt them. Unless I am angry. And I don't think I should hit my kids because I'm angry with them. That just can't be a good lesson. And the screaming isn't a good lesson/example either.

But, guys.


They are so frustrating sometimes. And I am really, really, not perfect.

Still, I'm trying. Trying to yell less. Raise my frustration tolerance. Have other, better, techniques.

I'm wondering, how do we feel about threatening that monsters will eat them if they don't knock it off? Because I feel good about that.

On a completely unrelated subject, have you thought recently about how much harder it would be to brush your teeth if you had to stand a foot away from the sink? Well, think about it. And then cut me some slack on the screaming thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I wonder where they will place the children

Today I took Sam to his OT appointment. It can be fun spending time with just him. He really can be very sweet when he's not hysterically trying to take toys from others.

So we're in the waiting room and, FYI, kids these days are apparently pretty screwy because the waiting room usually has at least 4 other families in it. Flipping magazines and waiting. Nothing else to do.

Sam turns to me and says, "Mom?" (he always says mom first. "Mom?" "Mom?" "Mom?" as if I will be confused about who he's talking to when we're sitting around just me and him.)

"What's up, buddy?"

"When the baby comes could you please not scream at her?"

Well. Alrighty. Then. Could you say that a little louder? I'm not sure the people in the back conference room got that.

NOT cool, dude. Not cool. It's like at night, when I'm leaving his room, after getting his freshly laundered pajamas and then putting them on him, and brushing his teeth, and reading him a book, and he says, "Mom, I love you. Even when you scream at me."

I always respond, "And Sam, I love you, even when you are an awful, awful child."

Not really.

Really I scream that.

Anyway, we get called back and Sam and the therapist are doing their thing, and I realize that I am being exceptionally quiet. The thing is, it is really hard for me to watch their sessions. She's always pushing him to do things that he's not good at, and it's hard for me to watch him struggle. And sometimes, she'll get all exasperated with him if he doesn't understand what she wants or he doesn't want to do it. And, excuse me, but I'm the only one that gets to scream at my kid. So I kind of withdraw during the sessions.

Between Sam's comment in the waiting room, and my cold, distant behavior in the sessions, they are probably meeting about who's going to call children's services. So I made an effort to perk up and engage with the therapist.

I think I fooled them.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A few things about work

First, and just in time for spring, they've finally got the heat on in the bathroom! My friends, it was a long cold winter in the Triangle building bathroom down the hall. But now! Now you are embraced by warmth as you walk in. It is a nice change from having to put your coat on to pee. I mean, this is Cleveland, people. You can't just have no heat in the winter.

Second, about two years ago I squashed a spider on the wall in the hallway. It's still there. At this point, should I clean it up, or just let it go down with the building?

FYI, we are actually, for realsies, moving to our new offices in June.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm a marshmallow in the face of authority.

That's my problem. I'm a rule follower. I do what I'm told.

So I'm 35 weeks now. Which means it's time to start the cervical exams. If you don't know what those are . . . you are lucky. Let's just say the experience is somewhere between unpleasant and excruciating.

I've been doing a lot of research, and as far as I can tell, there is no reason to even get a cervical exam. Gives us some information, but that information can mean . . . anything. What's the use of information like that? It's like being told that outside is not indoors, except to figure that out they have to kick you in the nuts. While it may be true, it's not particularly helpful, and certainly not worth aching balls.

So I practice ways to tell the doctor that I would like to decline the cervical exams. I RUMINATE about it. I ROLE-PLAY. And then I get there and completely cave. Cuse, see, the thing is, it's not like they ASK. They just ASSUME. And then DO.

But I live through it. Doctor says it's more difficult for me than some women because I have a very posterior cervix. (I don't know. Just go with me on this.) And then he says that he is going to give me a cervical exam at EVERY VISIT to help me GET USED TO THE PAIN.

If you are thinking, "oh, that makes sense, she does need to get used to the pain." KICK YOURSELF IN THE NUTS.

I'm no expert, but I don't think it's a good idea to get "used to pain." I'm working hard learning techniques to COPE with pain, but I have not taken to self-flagellation in the hopes that then contractions will be comfy. What? Like thanks to five extra cervical exams I'm going to sail through labor? That makes no sense.

But you know what I said, right?

"Oh, sure, if you think that's best."

But you better believe I'm ruminating.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What about ME?

I know the etiquette is that you only get a baby shower the first time around.

But I was just thinking, out of the blue, nothing to do with me, probably just occurred to me because I was reading an article or something, that I think people should should get presents every time they have a baby.

I mean, what, like it got EASIER?

So I'm going to simplify things and just let you know what I need.

1) Books. I got pregnant. I got very sick. I couldn't read anymore. I stopped reading. Now I have no books. Somebody go get me some books. Easy to read ones. Physically as well as reader-ly. I need things to read one-handed in the dim light of middle-of-the-night feedings.

2) Food. Frozen. For the love of god, somebody please make us a casserole. We can barely make dinner now, and I suspect the boys will still want to eat after the baby gets here.

3) Bike and bike trailer. Chris is going to need a way to entertain the boys while I nap and eat bon-bons.

4) Somebody come find all our baby stuff. Where the heck did we put the bottles? What happened to all our pacifiers? Why can't I find the baby bouncy seat?

So there you have it. I knew you were all wondering what you could do for me, so here you go.

What's that you say? That I could do all that for myself?

Well, sure, but it would interfere with my lying down and whining.

PICA in pregnancy. AKA, I want to eat laundry detergent

Pica is when you want to eat non-nutritive, not-food things. It is also a unit of typographical measurement.

But today we're talking about wanting to eat laundry detergent. Not measuring typography. So if you came here today interested in typography, you should probably go now. Come back later. I'm sure we'll get to that next week.

Some of you know that during my first two pregnancies I experience a strong urge to eat laundry detergent. Yeah, I know that sounds all funny but it's NOT. I'm not into self-regulation (did I mention I ate an entire box of Girl Scout cookies in three days? And it seriously wasn't even hard). I don't practice self-discipline. Or deny myself things I want. But you just can't eat laundry detergent. It's just not cool.

The first time around, the doctor actually asked if I had the desire to eat strange things and it really caught me off guard. Oh. So this is a thing, then? A thing that happens to people? Well, he says, it can be a sign of iron deficiency. Ah, then I suppose we'll be measuring my iron levels. Not so much. He just advised me to eat more peanut butter. Which, FYI, actually doesn't have that much iron it it so that was just weird advice. Maybe he was shilling for Jif.

So I just dealt with it. I sniffed detergent like a coke addict. I chewed on freshly laundered washcloths. I chewed gum.

And then I had the baby and it went away.

But then I got pregnant AGAIN. I hoped that it wouldn't happen this time around. But, then, around 26 weeks, the smell of detergent became less fresh-scent and more DELICIOUS! I told my doctor and she was all, yeah, well, that happens sometimes. When I referenced "my doctor" there if might have been misleading. See, my diagnosis of gestational diabetes meant I no longer had a doctor. I was treated by a clinic, not a specific doctor. I had a different doctor every week. Which might have something to do with why nobody ever told me that my iron levels were low. I got my records after the fact and it was right there in my blood work.

So, again, I just dealt with it. Then I had the baby and it went away.

This time around, I'm being more proactive about things. Also, it was a little worse this time. I was obsessed with the thought of eating detergent. I would lie in bed and think about it. Fantasize about eating it.

So I did a little research. The internet seemed to think that an iron supplement should be tried, EVEN IF MY IRON LEVELS WERE NORMAL. So I asked my doctor if that was okay and she said, well, your iron levels are normal, but I guess it won't hurt.

I started taking the iron supplement. It took 6 days, but then, wow. The thoughts started to fade and the desire was much more manageable. It took the need for laundry detergent from like a nine, down to a two or three. Which is a lot better. My LIFE is BETTER.

Because of doctors.

Wait. That's not true. The doctors didn't care.

So the lesson for the day is that if you want to eat things that are not food, take an iron supplement.

Also, doctors are dumb.

Gratitude is overrated

When I was pregnant with Owen I followed some . . . what do you call 'em? Chat boards? Something like that. For pregnant ladies. I didn't do it this time around because, online-people? Are apparently not very nice.

Some people were interested in talking about the experience of being pregnant, but some people were sadly ignorant or maybe just, shall we say, not-like-me. For example, when one woman started a thread (that's some interweb lingo for you there, folks) about whether she should try breastfeeding her baby, the first response was "only if you want inch long nips." Okay. Way to condense that debate to it's grossest level. Nice.

People who know me know that I don't much like interacting with people who are philosophically diverse from myself. Or, in other words, "wrong." The disagreements that some people find to be an energizing discussion I often just find to be a depressing commentary on the state of humanity.

The other reason I stopped following these boards was that you were NEVER, EVER, EVER allowed to, in any way, imply that being pregnant might not be the greatest experience ever. If you did, invariably, somebody who was reading the board but had not yet been able to conceive would remark on the selfish, ungrateful nature of such a thought. The theory being that the simple fact of being pregnant was such a miracle, and such an sorrowfully unattainable goal for some, that every moment, every twinge, every bout of vomiting, should be considered a blessing.

First of all, if you are having a hard time conceiving, I'm not sure it's the healthiest thing for you to do to be reading the pregnant-lady boards.

Second, I'm not sure that discounting the experience of others is the best way to relate to our fellow human beings. You don't see me going to the Trying-to-Conceive boards and commenting when people get another negative pregnancy test, "well, at least you aren't nauseous! And you can go have a drink!" Because that would be VERY RUDE. And kind of not the point.

The thing is, sure, yeah, it could always be worse.

I am very grateful that I've been able to conceive my children with a minimum of fuss. But that doesn't mean that living through this pregnancy has been easy for me. Or those around me. When people talk about how great and sexy they feel while pregnant I want to squirt water in their faces. But I don't, because we're kind of all allowed to experience life in our own ways.

My point is this . . .

When I complain about being pregnant, I am fully aware that there are women out there who would kill to be pregnant and I am truly sorry that they have to go through that. And that getting pregnant was a conscious decision, so technically (metaphorically) I made my own bed.

I know I have it good. And I try hard to count my blessings. But when I do, I'm often reminded of how very much I have to lose, and that is a little too scary for me to deal with on a daily basis.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I know I'm usually all stoic and junk, but . . .

Pregnancy is getting a LITTLE BIT OLD just about now. I don’t know if you guys have noticed, but I’m not one of those ladies that glow whilst pregnant. I glower.

And apparently develop the superpower to slow the passage of time.

I mean, Christ on a cracker, I have SIX WEEKS LEFT.


Do you have any IDEA how long that is?

Infinity squared.

While the nausea has gone, and I feel fairly okay mentally (if you count extra-irritable and super-grumpy as okay), physically, this is getting uncomfortable. Distinctly uncomfortable. Sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean at least twice a day) I seriously feel that if I don’t lie down immediately I will simply fall down. This is not actually true, as often I am unable to lie down and still I manage not to make a scene, but it FEELS real.

See? And you thought I was a whiner! In fact, I’m totally stoic! I’m such a trooper.

And this weight thing? I’m really tired of it. The whole business. Since my decision to buckle down, I had been doing pretty well. I went about 5 weeks with no increase in weight gain. And then in the past five DAYS I’ve gain FOUR pounds.

That doesn’t seem right. So I googled it and apparently I’m going to die of preeclampsia. Sorry, guys.

Well, probably not. Probably it’s just got to do with eating an entire package of Girl Scout cookies in two days. I never have understood that. How you can gain more weight than the weight of the actual food?

I’ve also been monitoring my blood sugar and I got my first high reading. So for those reasons, I have to re-energize myself for the lower-carb diet.

Which is hard because I LOVE CARBS!

I am very much looking forward to having this baby. She will be cute. I will love her. But more importantly, I will no longer have a GIANT, DICTATORIAL, PARASITE IN MY ABDOMEN.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Chris and I went to see Invictus on Saturday night. The one where Matt Damon was a rugby player and Morgan Freeman played Nelson Mandela trying to heal South Africa. The whole time I was thinking two things:

1) Nelson Mandela? Way, WAY, better person than me. Way.
2) What the hell does invictus mean?

Lucky for me I'm alive in the age of Google, because otherwise I'd have been left to the mercies of the dictionary and/or encyclopedia. It turns out that invictus is the Latin word for undefeated. It was the title of the poem that Morgan/Nelson read in the movie.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

That's a good poem, right? Short, and a little rhymey, and meaningful. Man, I thought to myself, I should print that out and carry it around to . . .

remind myself that I've never actually experience real hardship. And when I experience kind-of-hard-ish-ship, I'm real whiny about it. That one line? My head is bloody, but unbowed? Yeah, well, my head is fine and it's still bowed. And not wincing, or crying aloud? Let's just say that if you took that out of my repertoire I'd have a lot less to talk about. So I probably shouldn't carry that poem around as if it has meaning in my life.

And you know what? Realizing this actually worried me (and there goes "finds and shall find me unafraid"). Because there is a LOT of hardship in the world these days. It occurred to me that my family is really unprepared for if the shit should actually hit the fan in our pillowy lives.

Me: Selfish and Whiny. Not good with hunger. Can't even go on a diet without giving up at hour 9
Chris: Easily Overwhelmed - has been know to shed real tears when told to change the bedsheets
Sam: Veal
Owen: Collapses, prostrate, when you open the package of fruit snacks for him instead of letting him do it himself

Seriously, what is this bunch going to do when the earthquake hits, or the bombs strike, or the aliens land?

Probably not thank whatever gods may be for their unconquerable souls.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Apparently, I'm raising veal

Sam had his first appointment with the occupational therapist this morning. While I am not particularly concerned with his health and development, I acknowledge that he has areas of weakness and if we can give him a boost, why not?

His teachers have mentioned that he struggles with coloring and cutting, and part of me wants to tell them to calm down because A) he’s four, and B) coloring is not a life skill. Chris is probably bad at coloring, but you don’t see that showing up on his annual review.

Chris, you’re doing a great job handling those call escalations, and your work with the billing system is going pretty smoothly, but, Good God, Man, it’s like you didn’t even SEE the lines in this Mickey Mouse picture.

But the other half of me knows that fine motor skills do come in handy every once in a while. Even if he’s doing okay without it, Chris would probably love to know how to button and snap. My point is that I’m not stressed out about Sam, but I’m aware he has certain limitations and it can’t hurt to work on those early.

In preparation for this visit, Chris and I discussed how we would describe Sam, and the issues we thought should be addressed.

“Well, fine motor, definitely,” Chris said.
“And, actually, gross motor too, because that kid spends more time falling down than standing up-right,” I add.
“True, and he can’t kick, catch, or throw a ball,” Chris agrees.
“So mention that he struggles with cutting and coloring and also that he hasn’t chosen a dominant hand yet.”
Brief pause . . .
“But he’s handsome and smart and loves to laugh. Say that too.”

Because it was starting to sound like he was defective there for a minute.

Really, we thought we had a pretty good grasp on what Sam’s problems were. But it turns out that I completely missed the fact that he “lacks muscle tone.”

Yeah, Chris reports that this lady said that Sam was a WEAKLING (maybe not in so many words). Which is really weird to me. I’ve always thought of Sam as being really strong. He’s so impervious to pain, and tends to just bulldoze his way through problems. I always thought he was using his strength to cope with his lack of motor skills. Turns out I don’t know what I’m talking about.

My first thought when Chris told me this was that this was the result of sending our kids to daycare. Seriously, I bet the hearty stock of stay-at-home-moms have muscle tone. But at daycare, it’s all “Stay on the carpet, everybody sit down, stand on your spot.” We put them in this one room for almost 8 hours a day and I wonder why my child has turned into veal.