I feel like a bit of a time bomb, in part because since last night’s post lots of friends have been reaching out to ask if I’m in labor. The answer, so far, is no. In fact, I had a record lazy day. I’d planned to join Herr Husband and Das Big Boy for their trip to Target (and was SUPER excited to do so). But after yesterday’s appointment, I decided to lay low (literally), especially since Herr Husband and I have our big date night tomorrow night, courtesy of my wonderful cousin (who needs a fun name).
So while I was very sad to miss out on Target and an outing with my dudes, I compensated with a two hour nap. Yay, rest!
While at Lowes, they saw this enormous bulldozer, which Das Big Boy obviouly LOVED. When I asked him about it, he told me the window was wide open and he climbed in. This is what Curious George does in Das Big Boy’s favorite CG story. Has anyone else ever noticed what a crap caretaker the Man in the Yellow Hat is? He knows George functions like a wild toddler, yet consistently leaves him alone in places like train stations, and then acts surprised when trouble ensues. Really, dude?
Last night ‘Burban Bestie and her husband (‘Burban Buddy?–he’s a pal from high school and needs a name, too) came over for yuppie pizza. There was lots of laughing, and perhaps more discussion of my cervix than most dudes would want, but Herr Husband and ‘Burban Buddy are champs.
Tonight, we had an epic, as always, video chat with the Huxtables, who are expecting a baby in April. Again, laughter and cervical discussion dominated, although there was also time for us to bump compare and for me to boss Dr. Huxtable around about his future medical specialty. Good times had by all!
Well, based on the hour, I think we can safely say I’ll at least make it to 36.3! Huzzah!
Sweet dreams, sweet ballerinas. And thanks for all the love yesterday!
Be warned: tonight, I’m going to blog about cookware.
Yes, Herr Husband and I bought new cookware, and we’re both really excited about it. The quest for new cookware began a while ago, when Herr Husband pointed out that our pots (fancy Calphalon wedding stuff, mind you), was chipping. “It’s fine!” I countered. But then last week, a friend mentioned the evils of Teflon, and I started thinking about our pans again. Were they coated in Teflon?
A few days later, Herr Husband confessed that this renewed his worry about our cookery. This time, I was in 100% agreement.
So I reached out to A Green Slate and asked what kinds of pans I should be using. A Green Slate is a fabulous consulting outfit that assesses your home for toxins and helps you find ways to limit them. They help make substantive changes that fit into your lifestyle without costing you a fortune. And they’re reasonable and nice about it; they’re not going to make you feel like monstermom if you choose to stick with some plastic sippies.
Which is important. Because on the one hand, I really want to reduce my family’s, and especially Das Big Boy’s, exposure to evil things. After all, he’s had to fight through enough. But at the same time, before he was born, I thought I was going to cloth diaper and make my own organic baby food and never bottle feed. My life didn’t work out that way. I had to pump (through probably toxic plastic) and bottle feed my son that way. He wouldn’t eat much, but anything I made disgusted him doubly. Sweet potatoes from a jar? Delicious. Sweet potatoes I spent hours preparing? Vomit. So while I believe strongly in trying to protect ourselves from toxins, I also totally realize that not every healthy thing is going to be the right choice for every family. We shouldn’t let this sort of stuff make us feel guilty or become judging material for the mommy Olympics that some people would have you think are going on every moment of every day.
So I like that A Green Slate helps you figure out changes that work for you. I said I didn’t want to spend a ton, and they suggested I buy Cuisinart GreenGourmet, which was frankly a lot cheaper than my Calphalon stuff that starting falling apart after five years. (Apologies if you gave me the Calphalon for my wedding. It was very generous of you and was exactly what I wanted. And the chipping was probably my fault for putting it in the dishwasher. Lazy me.)
We wound up buying a twelve-piece GreenGourmet set for $190, which I thought was dang good. Herr Husband and I had forgone Christmas presents for each other to save money, so we decided to treat ourselves. The set showed up two days later, and we got free shipping thanks to Amazon Prime. Herr Husband and I were giddy to unpack the box. And dinner was made–thanks, Herr Husband–on the new cookware, which performed well. It was faster to heat, actually, than our old stuff.
Ok, this post is so nauseatingly Hausfrauy that I can’t stand it! What kind of Hipster experiences can I have/blog about while on bedrest so as to counteract this trend? Where are my nonlinear Latin American novels? Where are my tarot cards? My eyeliner and big jewelry and small dresses and big boots and disheveled hair? (Last one, check.) Does anyone have a typewriter I could borrow? Maybe I could type tiny notes and have them sprinkled throughout town as a mobile art installation. Hmmm….
I could give helpful household greening tips…but then we’d be back to my original problem.
What if I just keep up my overly lax attitude towards showering?
Apologies for my brevity (though a bit of it might have served to make our pal Polonius a tad more witty), but it’s been a fun weekend–with visitors and couch-bound parties that shall be described in detail after I have slept.
But briefly, Das Big Boy got a haircut this weekend against his mother’s wishes. What can I say? I love the 70s toddler aesthetic and hate gender roles. I also have an incredibly obnoxious desire to have my kiddo not look like a “typical suburban little boy,” whatever that means. (Apologies sorry for being such an a-hole). Presented below is the haircut. I don’t hate it. The back and sides maintain some shag. But my biggest fear– nerd bangs–was realized. I gave Herr Husband specific instructions about nerd bangs: “Tell her I want them long, textured, and choppy,” I insisted. I sent him with a photo and told him to tell her that I was crazy and on bedrest and he was sorry for being so pushy but he’d promised me he’d say it. Herr Husband was a champ and actually honored my requests.
Somehow, like all little boys, Das Big Boy still wound up with nerd bangs. Please don’t tell him I said he has them, because I don’t want to be a mean mom. And I still think he’s the most adorable thing ever.
Also, if this is the best you’ve looked in six weeks, you probably shouldn’t critique about anyone else’s look:
I’m going on a trip next week! But, Hipster Hausfrau, you cry, you’re on bedrest! You can’t go anywhere!
But we’re finally having heat installed in our home next week. Wait, I never told you that we’ve been living on space heaters since our furnace failed to kick on this year? Well, we have. Just an added layer of excitement in the HH household. But don’t worry: space heaters are more effective and less terrifying than when they burned you as a child and/or started a fire in your home (and I’m not kidding, sadly. I know people who suffered each of these horrors).
Our heat is a major project–one we’ve known was coming since we bought the house–because they have to install duct work to the second floor. The previous owners raised four children in a house with no heat on the second floor. Insane-o. But we’re happily converting from oil to gas, adding central air, and getting whole house humidification. Woo hoo! (Wow. If this is what gets me excited these days, I may need to get out more. F-ing bedrest.)
All of this means the HH family will be decamping to Chez Hausfrau, aka the abode of the incomparable La Gigi and El Papa. So I’ll be growing into their lovely couch starting on Sunday and extending through next week. Hooray!
For now, I’m enjoying one of my last nights in my own bed (by which I of course mean my pull out couch), eating a truly divine kale salad and tomato corn casserole provided by Miss Mom (who is not my mom, but ESA’s mom). Deelish! Thank you!
Tomorrow it’s December, and I think we can count that as another milestone. Also, we can count it as the time when I get to start eating my chocolate advent calendar. Thanks, Herr Husband!
Sweet dreams, sweet ballerinas, everyone!
Happy Thanksgiving! Around here, we’re grateful that I’ve hit the big thirty-week mark, and that we got to celebrate Thanksgiving with La Gigi, El Papa, and Mimi. Big thanks to Herr Husband and my parents for all the work they had to do today. We didn’t let a clogged kitchen sink or a midmeal toddler puke derail us, because we have too much for which we are thankful!
Also, check out Das Big Boy’s amazing orange wide-wale cords. Thanks, Cherry Picked!
Today, I have learned, is World Prematurity Day, and November is Prematurity Awareness Month. I’m not sure that I knew about this remembrance in previous years, but it seems a fitting choice of month given that in November of 2010 I was the mother of an incredibly sick preemie, and in November of 2012 I’m trying to avoid birthing a preemie. It’s become a month during which I, at least, am very aware of prematurity whether it’s commemorated by a day or not.
I could spend time telling you lots of prematurity statistics, but you can find those on myriad websites, some comforting, most anxiety inducing in anyone who’s had a preemie. But rather than spout off statistics or show off my alarming array of preemie and high risk pregnancy specific medical knowledge (seriously, not to get all smugsby on you, but doctors and nurses ask me all the time if I work in healthcare), I’d like to try to share some things about what it’s like to be a preemie parent.
Or at least what it’s like to be this preemie parent.
1) Preemie parents have had their children almost die. They have received that phone call telling them their baby might not make it. They didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. They barely got a chance to say hello. They were told they would receive a phone call again in half an hour with an update, but that they couldn’t come see the baby yet. Fifty minutes later, they were told their baby had stabilized. Having your baby almost die makes you a different parent.
2) Preemie parents have seen their children turn blue because they forget to breathe. Preemie parents get used to seeing their children turn blue because they forget to breathe. Preemie parents learn to calmly rub their babies’ backs to remind them that, in the words of one of Das Baby’s nurses, “Breathing is fundamental.”
3) Preemie parents may not take minor bumps, bruises, and illnesses as seriously as other parents, because when you’ve had a kid turn blue or almost die, that stuff seems pretty minor.
4) Preemie parents feel like they’ve failed. Like their bodies have failed, like somehow they are worse parents because this happened to their child. This feeling fades, but never fully goes away.
5) Preemie parents feel like they’re slightly better parents than other parents, because they’ve had to go through more. They appreciate the smallest things about their children.
6) Preemie parents feel like they have so many reasons to be proud of their children, who have overcome so much.
7) Preemie parents have to leave their children in the hospital every night, and this is a heartbreak from which it’s hard to recover, whether it’s for one day or 114 (note: I had to double check that number, which I used to know like my birth date). Preemie parents therefore promise themselves that they will never resent having to get up in the middle of the night with their children. But sometimes, when they still do resent them (because waking up eight times in one night is enough to make anyone resentful), they try to remind themselves of when they couldn’t comfort their babies.
8) Preemie parents don’t get to hold their children right away. They might have to wait a week or more. They might love holding the tiny being–light and clingy as a kitten–but be almost afraid to breathe for fear of harming him. Later they might become the type of parents who never put their baby down.
9) Preemie parents might not be able to touch their child on the day he is born. They are lucky to get a quick glimpse of a tiny purplish baby before he is whisked away. Preemie parents have to be taught how to touch their children–no gentle stroking, as their skin is fragile and they are hypersensitive. Firm, static touch.
10) Preemie parents think their children are the most beautiful thing ever from the moment they are born, even when they are stuffed full of medical equipment that triples their body weight. It hurts them and makes them angry when anyone suggests otherwise.
11) Preemie parents sometimes lack patience when typical parents complain about how hard it is having kids. They don’t mean to be judgy; they’ve just been through a lot, and sometimes it seems like other people have it easy. Preemie parents also know this isn’t fair of them, and they try not to do it.
12) Preemie parents keep worrying about their kids (who doesn’t?). Sometimes they forget to be amazed and grateful at how far their kids have come, and instead worry about getting to the next milestone. Preemie parents worry that some effect of prematurity might pop up and make their child’s life very difficult. They try to remember that they’ve coped with every tough thing so far and will be able to cope with anything that comes their way.
13) Preemie parents are thrilled the first time their child actually fills out a preemie outfit. They are overjoyed when their baby moves from an isolette to a crib. They can remember when their baby finally got big enough to wear Pampers Preemies instead of the brandless doll diapers he started in!
14) The roller coaster cliché about the NICU is totally true. Babies get better, and then they take steps back. Preemie parents try to mentally prepare themselves for this, but the fact is, it sucks.
15) The NICU is not all misery. It’s also magic. It’s the magic of a baby getting better. And it’s also the magic of a community–of nurses, of other NICU families, of doctors–that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. It becomes a world unto itself in which preemie parents can get very comfortable, even as they are eager to leave.
16) Preemie parents do not forget how to laugh. They endlessly discuss things like which hospital staff member they would most want to go to a bar with, or have to a dinner party, or which of their friends should date their favorite nurses and doctors. They play a weird version of chuck-fuck-marry in which they discuss which hospital staff member they want to bring to Boston, which they would leave at CHONY, and which they would fire.
17) Preemie parents are amazed to see their children grow up. They are amazed when they no longer have to explain that their child was a preemie, and that’s why he’s a six month old the size of a three month old. They are even more amazed when people are shocked to hear that their child was a preemie.
18) Preemie parents are, like all parents, lucky. But even luckier.
Of course, there are preemie parents whose children don’t make it, and their heartbreak is unimaginable. I want to send them all of my love and strength today. A friend wrote an amazing, direct, devastating, and beautiful book about such loss, and I’ve also discovered an incredibly honest, powerful, and loving blog about it.
Now I have many friends who face challenges with their children who weren’t premature: children who have medical problems or neurological differences. Some of the things on this list apply to them and some of them don’t. Some of their struggles are unique to them. But I felt they deserved a shout out, too, because there are so many ways in which parenting can be hard.
But even more than it’s hard, it’s miraculous.
This post is perhaps sad, or serious, but I’m not necessarily feeling that way. I just wanted to honor World Prematurity Day. Today was actually a good one. I napped. Das Big boy used an adverb correctly (“I do too need a pen!”). Herr Husband and I continued one of our best bedrest traditions from my last pregnancy: a cheese and jazz picnic in bed.
And I also want to give a shout out to our wonderful neighbors: the gourmet chef neighbor cooked us dinner tonight (score! yum!), and our next door neighbor/political soul mate mowed our lawn. So happy and grateful to be part of such a loving community! Thanks, guys!
Hipster Hausfrau will continue to flop on the couch, and poor La Gigi will get stuck with tasks like cleaning up cat puke and
toddler puke. My to-be-sainted mother just had to take all of our trash to the curb–our fair town lacks basic human services like waste removal, but we’ve elected to pay for trash pick-up during these trying times–and returned to the house to be informed that her other grandson, Sniekus, had vomited. At least he had the courtesy to do so on hardwood floors as opposed to rugs, but still.
Yes, Herr Husband is in an undisclosed location for a work trip. He’ll be back Friday morning at 1 am. As El Papa is in a different undisclosed location (fine, it’s Cuba) for work, he is unavailable to help. Obviously, Nanny Sunshine is being a goddess and working extra hours. But it is lucky La Gigi who has to sleep here and deal with all fun nighttime activities (feeding me and Das Big Boy dinner, bedtime, trash night, cat puke, nighttime wake-ups, etc.). So we should all thank La Gigi for being so wonderful. Dinner, btw, was a delicious quinoa and veggie stew–thanks to the pal/Topliff sister who brought it over!
I’m hoping Herr Husband actually gets to enjoy a night of luxurious, fluffy, uninterrupted hotel sleep, as opposed to his usual fare of pullout couch with covers-hogging wife and toddler who’s more wakeful what with all the confusion in his life. Oh, and his usual fare of having to either work or take care of someone every single second, which I know is like being any working parent. Except this working parent is a single parent with a live-in invalid relative.
All of this is to say once again that I’m grateful for my helpers–husband, parents, nanny, friends–and to you, the readers who stuck with me after last night’s post and who continue to send love and positive thoughts my way. An excellent refinement of the cervical foods idea has been suggested, but I’ll spare you. For now.
All of this is also to say that I’ve enjoyed stalking Herr Husband at his undisclosed location using “Find My Friends” on my iPhone. Looks like he had a bunch of meetings in one boring place today. Take that, confidentiality!
No, not in the election. Let’s hope for an Obama landslide. Actually, I don’t need a landslide. A slim win would be just fine. I don’t want to get so greedy on the political front that the gods screw me on the baby front. It’s a delicate balancing act when you want two things very badly.
First things first. I voted. In my wheelchair. And I looked like this:
Now I know lots of people vote in wheelchairs because they use them every day. And plenty of people have to overcome far more than I did to vote (voter suppression, losing everything to a hurricane, etc). So I should probably stop lobbying for the Congressional Medal of Honor for my bedrest voting efforts. But I’m proud that someday I’ll be able to tell my daughter that I cared enough about her rights as a woman, and her healthcare, and her education, and economic and social justice for all Americans that I voted from a wheelchair. I can also tell her that in addition to voting straight Dem, I voted for medical marijuana, assisted suicide, and alcohol sales in our dry town. Weed, narcotics, and booze–yay, America! That ought to make her happy. That and the fact that I cared enough about her safe gestation that I–have I mentioned this already?–voted from a wheelchair.
Speaking of her safe gestation. we have at least a gestational tie between my two children! I’m twenty-seven weeks and five days pregnant with Baby Girl HH, which is as pregnant as I was when I delivered Das Big Boy. But Baby Girl HH has some advantages that her brother didn’t enjoy. She has all her amniotic fluid. She’s a girl, and they tend to be stronger. As a friend put it, “What is it with those white baby boys?” (They statistically have the worst outcomes of all preemies–although my little white boy has done great). “They’re entitled.” I told her, “They have a sense of privilege and expect the world to cater to them.” As it turned out, Das Big Boy was a fighter. And I have no doubt that his sister will be, too.
Today Das Big Boy survived his transition to a new class at “school,” which he will attend without a caregiver. Since I went on bedrest, he’s shown an increase in social anxiety, especially with children his own age. There have been a lot of tears. But he did great today. According to the teacher, he did very, very well for his first such class. Huzzah!
I have my dear auntie visiting today, Le Gigi was here for a while as she took Das Big Boy to school, and Nanny Sunshine is here. I’ve gone from being a Victorian consumptive with a doting mother to one with three handmaidens and a footman (my dad was here earlier, too). Oh dear. I’ve fallen into the trap of making bedrest seem glamorous again. Don’t be fooled. My hips are killing me from lying down for so long, and I’ve started making old man grunting sounds when I do stand up (you know, to go to the bathroom, my only truly sanctioned activity).
Happy Election Day (please, oh, please let it be happy), and happy tied-for-pregnantest ever day, too!
Target features in yet another post today! You’d never know I was a local-biz supporting liberal by the way my blog persona seems to shop. Target is actually my grocery store of choice for things I don’t buy at crunchy-suburban-yuppie places like Volante Farms, which has the best local produce and apple cider donuts and goat cheese flatbread ever. One day, Das Big Boy and I whizzed around shopping at Volante (back when I still whizzed. I still whiz in the four-year-old boy sense. Like constantly. Because you’re supposed to stay superhydrated when you’re at risk of preterm labor, mostly because it makes medical people feel like they’re giving you something to do). Anyway, as we whizzed in the shopping cart, I grabbed a sixer of said donuts in their plain white bag. Das Big Boy gleefully shouted, “Donuts!” ’cause I’m the awesome mom who’s kid can identify donuts that have essentially been brown bagged as he shops in a mecca to fresh fruit and veg. But anyway.
Target carries Das Big Boy’s superfatty (aka, delicious) Liberté yogurt, which you should eat if you ever need to gain weight. It has 260 calories in six ounces and tastes like melted ice cream with extra butter, or something like that. Delicious, or de-lick-ous, as Das Big Boy would say. And so much cheaper at Target than anywhere else. As ‘Burban Bestie pointed out (she’s also done a Target run for the Husband Hausfraus), we eat a nearly alarming quantity of yogurt around here. And I can get it cheaper at Target, so I do (big box shopping justified?). Along with store brand junk food cereal (Marshmallow Treasures and Honey Graham Crunch), which I account for with the iron fortification. And the fruity goop packs that we feed Das Big Boy because he still kind of hates food.
Well, one of the things that happens when your life spins into medical crisis is that sometimes you forget to pay your bills. Like the Target Card bill (yup, I got one to save another 5%. This blog seems to have taken a turn decidedly away from Hipster and towards Hausfrau. I’m going to have to do something about that.) So Herr Husband called Target to explain the situation and get them to waive the fee, etc. But the card is in my name. So he just said he was me. Didn’t disguise his voice, didn’t say he was my husband. Just called and said, “I’m having problems with a pregnancy and was in and out of the hospital all last week and totally forgot to pay my bill.” And the Target people wished him well in his pregnancy, waived the fee, and assured him that his credit report wouldn’t be affected. Now, I know Herr Husband isn’t a bass, and I’m certainly no soprano, but still. Maybe they didn’t want to add to his/my misery by saying, “Perhaps the problem with your pregnancy is that you’re a dude.”
We have two more things to address today: one is the election. I’m compulsively reading FiveThirtyEight to make myself feel better. Several of my Dem friends (also known more generically as my friends) are superanxious and I’m trying not to catch it (I’m looking at you, Dr. S, ‘Burban Bestie, and TinaLou.) But I was anxious about one thing–voting! How can you vote on bedrest?! It might be too late to get an absentee, and I don’t totally believe in them anyway. Don’t they only count them if things are close? Plus, I want to set a good example for my children, both external and fetal. And I just love voting. And this election is so fucking important and if you haven’t figured that out yet, or if you are still undecided, then I’m sorry, I find you baffling. Now obviously, Barack is going to carry MA, despite it being Mitt’s alleged “home state,” (even if Mittens refuses to name it by name–and thanks KTZ for pointing that out!). But our senate race is close, and my house district, which is that of retiring liberal legend Barney Frank, is also closer than I’d like. So while I was at the hospital for the Halloween episode when they wouldn’t let me leave, I asked the doctor. “I have one more incredibly important but somewhat strange question.”
“Yes?” she said. I’m sure she thought it would be about my vagina or something.
“Can I vote?” She laughed. And said I could. She was especially pleased to learn that I had access to a wheelchair, and said I’d be able to cut the line.
So the important question now is, “Can we turn me into an internet sensation?” Pregnant liberal on bedrest cares so much about America that she insists on voting…Preemie mom wants to be sure her kids have access to healthcare no matter their preexisting conditions… Think about it and see if we can find a way to use this to make me famous. Because, you know, that’s what this is all about: not my baby’s health, or that of the country, or the many other people who have to overcome far greater challenges to get their votes cast…
Finally, I can’t keep harping on my challenges without sending thoughts and big love to those struggling in the wake of Sandy. Yes, I’m a Boston ‘Burbite by birth, and probably a lifer now (or at least until my kids go to college), but I’m a Brooklynite at heart. And I can’t imagine what folks all over the city and NJ are going through. I feel bad whining about my individual problems when so many people face such uncertainty and loss. So I wanted to at least acknowledge that. Of course, I was particularly touched by the story of the babies at NYU Langone being evacuated from the NICU, in part because I know how deeply hospital staff care about those babies, and how hard they would work in that impossible situation to keep them safe. Amazing. We also have friends from our NICU days who live in Staten Island, where devastation has been widespread. They had to move to the hospital (where they already have to spend too much of their time!) with their adorable son to make sure his medical needs stayed met during the storm. It’s a scary time for everyone, especially those who were already vulnerable. Big thanks to all of my NYC friends who I know (thanks to Facebook stalking) are donating time, money and goods to help those in need. And thanks to all those who have been bringing me the love.
See? People are good.
A final message from Das Big Boy. Feel free to make him an internet sensation as well.