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?
Well, as manic as things can get on the couch, anyway.
Herr Husband had to leave at dawn for a DC daytrip, which meant dumping Das Big Boy in bed with me. My fear was that if Das Big Boy were to awake in the thirty minutes between HH’s departure and Nanny Sunshine’s arrival, I wouldn’t be able to go up to his crib to rescue him. Das Big Boy is fidgety when he gets into a big bed, and by fidgety I mostly mean face-kicky. So that was fun. But he is also very cute and woke up smiling and asking for Beejer, his chimpanzee sidekick.
He had a double puke morning, unfortunately. That cold is lingering in its barky cough phase, which also means an even more sensitive gag reflex and a tummy full of mucus–ew. Nanny Sunshine had been warned when she joined our team that vomit was on the menu–ew again. (Actually, I’ve been surprised by how puke-free things have been during her time in office). But still.
Then the plumbers showed up to fix the pipe that ruptured during the efforts to unclog our kitchen sink. They made a lot of noise, which intrigued Das Big Boy, but not so much the rest of us.
At two, Mo arrived, taking over an extended La Gigi shift (fortuitously, for by the end of the day, La Gigi would be struck down by the same illness plaguing El Papa). Mo arrived bearing delicious Whole Foods dinner (pumpkin risotto!) and entertainments–an enormo box of crayons for Das Big Boy and accoutrement for him to make ornaments for the tree. This was very exciting because DBB has wanted to discuss ornaments and decorations a great deal since the tree went up. He’s also into denuding the tree, but not so much the replacing of the ornaments he’s taken down. It’s a work in progress.
Mo really took one for the team (if by the team you mean my family). She fed Das Big Boy two meals (a nearly impossible feat), played the role of Beejer in the kitchen beautifully, and even changed a poopy diaper. If that’s not the work of a best friend, I don’t know what is. Not to mention she entertained me for hours on end, as she always does.
My biggest accomplishment today was diagnosing myself with an umbilical hernia. This does not mean that I have a crazy outie, but just that I have a pain above my belly button. Herr Husband says I’m not allowed to have any more medical conditions. I’m inclined to agree with him. Fortunately, even if I’m right, this one doesn’t seem to be a big deal.
Baby Girl is still hanging in there. I have an appointment tomorrow with the NP at my OB’s practice. Back to regular old appointments for me! Hopefully all will be well–we’re no longer compulsively measuring my cervix, so I won’t be able to analyze every millimeter of change. I think this means fewer opportunities for anxiety. We shall see!
Sweet dreams, sweet ballerinas.
I’m supposed to do a photo recap post every year on Das Big Boy’s birthday. I’m two weeks late. Sorry!
At two, Das Big Boy is completely free of all medical equipment (G-Tube came out in early September). Good riddance! He speaks in sentences of up to six words, and loves to run, jump and climb. His favorite activities are reading, identifying letters, playing with his toy barn, and pretending to cook in his new kitchen (especially if one of his toys or dolls pretends to cook with him). He enjoys play-dough and painting, and every time he draws something, he tells you it’s the Huxtables (no, not the ones on TV, our Lady Lawyer/Man Doctor besties). He’s obsessed with owls. He’s cuddly and super-smiley and has the best laugh. I’ve never met anyone more ticklish. He still hates to eat and has a hard time with some food textures, but he enjoys pizza, and pretty much anything else with cheese–quesadilla, mac and cheese, heap of shredded cheese, string cheese. You get the idea. When he’s alone in his crib he sings songs to himself (Happy Birthday, The Alphabet, All the Little Ducks), and invents adorable conversations between his toys.
Every night when I left him in the NICU, after reading him Goodnight Moon (which he now has pretty much memorized), I told him, “I love you with my whole heart, and you’re my whole world.” It’s still true.
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.
I’m using my blog to come out as pregnant. Sure, super-close friends and the people I see on a regular basis know, but I’ve kept it a secret from my larger social network. I was waiting to come out triumphantly with a witty line like “More pregnant than I’ve ever been!” As it turns out, election day is the magical day on which I’ll be 27 weeks 5 days–the gestational age at which Das Baby, who will now change his name to Das Big Boy, was born. What I really wanted to do was post the day after and say something like, “Baby-Girl-Has-a-Real-Name-but-not-a-Blog-Moniker (BGHRNBM) is excited to emerge into a second Obama term!” (With apologies to 1) jinx freaks like me and 2) the two Republicans with whom I’m friends, and the five Republicans to whom I’m related. By marriage.)
But things have gotten a little scary. And I’m not talking about poll numbers. WARNING: Apologies here to casual friends and former students who might not want to think about my cervix. I’m going to talk about my cervix. I had been sailing through my pregnancy with weekly progesterone shots (coupled with anxious questions for Caitlin, the amazing NP who takes care of me) and cervical length checks every two weeks. The truth is, I saw two doctors before I got pregnant, and several after, and none of them though my cervix was the problem. Sure, we agreed to watch it. But the uterine bleed from my last pregnancy (the horror, the horror) was blamed for my membrane rupture, which caused my early delivery. We all agreed it was an unlucky fluke. Wrong-o.
The prime time for the cervix to start misbehaving is 16-24 weeks. After that, they can’t sew you shut, but most problems are caught before then. My cervix was a bit shorter at 24 weeks, but still normal, so we thought perhaps I was in the clear. Then, at 25 weeks 6 days, my cervix was a whole cm shorter. It measured two centimeters total. So they put me on immediate bed rest (more on that later). And today, at 26 weeks 6 days it was a tiny bit shorter, but, of greater concern, had started to funnel. (Remember when funneling was fun?) In this case, funneling means dilating from the inside. Bad. Not yet a disaster, but significantly worse enough for doctors to want to take a more proactive precautionary approach.
So they sent me for steroid shots for the baby’s lungs. A road I have been down before with Das Big Boy. Steroid shots are most effective 1-2 weeks before labor. So it’s a bit of a gamble to get them too early, but a much bigger gamble to not treat a young baby like BGHRNBM (Moniker suggestions welcome). Das Baby got his ‘roids at 24 weeks. And then when I delivered at 27.5, he only had time to get another dose eight or so hours before he was born; it takes 48 hours for the two rounds of shots to “get on board.” This second “rescue course” that he failed to complete is of somewhat debated merit anyway, and Das Baby was in more lung trouble regardless, what with the no amniotic fluid, but we always felt cheated that he didn’t get more ‘roids, especially because I thought I was in labor but the medical staff didn’t believe me. So this time part of me wanted to wait and see if I went into labor before doing the shots so as not to waste them, since drugs can often put off labor for the time required to get them on board. But since this is her most vulnerable time, we decided to go for it.
I got to the hospital expecting a quick shot and run. Papa was in the car with Das Big Boy, and Herr Husband came up to L&D (Labor and Delivery) with me. It was my third time there this pregnancy. The first for a fall, the second last week after I had a total panic attack following my crappy cervical diagnosis and felt crampy and thought I might have broken my water. It was ultrasound goo. I, of all people, should know the difference.
Instead of stab and go, they also insisted on strapping me to the monitor, and kept me there for hours for painless (or totally unfelt) contractions that the monitor was picking up. It also seemed to notice when I cried because I worried that Das Big Boy wouldn’t get to trick-or-treat. He wound up going with his Gigi, and saying “Trick or treat,” and “Hoo, Hoo,” and “Happy Halloween,” and “Thank you!” and also, “Candy and money!” because my mom told him how they needed money ready for the UNICEF boxes. Anyway, it took forever for me to get out of the hospital because of the excessive contractions. But they finally decided I wasn’t in labor and let me leave. I also got a fetal fibronectin test, which looks for a hormone secreted as the body prepares for labor (my second such test in six days). A negative test means you only have a 1-5% chance of going into labor in the next one to two weeks, a positive one means you have a 40-60% of going into labor in the next one to two weeks. My test was negative, so that was good.
So where am I? Home. Scared. Sleeping downstairs. Moving only from bed to couch to bathroom to kitchen for a quick snack or water refill, but only if I’m up already. And don’t worry, there is obsessive hand-washing between bathroom and kitchen, in case that sounded gross.
My parents and Herr Husband have been amazing, since I can do almost nothing and can’t parent effectively from the couch. We’re in the process of hiring a nanny. There’s that practical stuff. Then there’s the emotional stuff like how sad it makes me that I can’t be a real mom to my son in what were supposed to be our last months of just-us time. And then there’s the terror of having another preemie. Now the extant preemie is doing amazingly well. He turned two on October 21. He made his first joke last week. He sings songs and plays out simple skits with his toys. He cuddles and laughs and smiles a ton. He kisses my belly and says “Hello, baby.” Other than eating like a pukey one year old, he’s doing great. Testing at or above his actual age in cognition and language. And he knows his letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. He can count to ten, even if he has decided that three through six are sometimes superfluous. (I’m owed a tiny brag, right?).
But let’s not forget how excruciating preemie parenting is–the constant worry, the health crises that might be nothing or might spell long-term problems or worse, the indescribable wrenching of abandoning your baby every night. And how much worse it would be with a toddler missing me every time I’m with the baby. I’ll just feel like a shitty mother to not one, but two, children.
So we don’t know what will happen. I could stick it out to 34 weeks and beyond or I could deliver tomorrow. But now you know what has happened. And I’ll use this space to keep you posted. And to tell you other stuff, like how I made new friends or how I might (fingers crossed) get a beloved former student to be Das Big Boy’s nanny.
I took a vow not to do any other writing until my thesis was done, and that meant no Hausfrauing for you all. My thesis also meant limited Hausfrauing around my actual house, which yielded even more mess than usual.
Well, my thesis is done. So I’m back! To blogging, that is. To cleaning, not so much. It’s a work in progress.
It’s kind of fitting, really. My last post was a birthday post for Das Baby. And now I’ve birthed another baby of sorts. A 92-page chunk of my “book,” and a 35-page critical paper about issues of memory and authority in third generation Holocaust literature. It’s all more exciting than it sounds, I promise.
Some other stuff happened since I last blogged:
Das Baby started walking.
Das Baby started eating real food (again).
Das Baby started talking. Yes, all of his words sound something like “Bah,” “Gah,” “Dah,” or “Boob,” but they can mean up to fifty different things!
We both started eating dairy again. Hooray, cheese! Less hooray: the ten pounds I subsequently gained.
We went on a fabulous family vacation to Bermuda, courtesy of Herr Husband’s work. We traveled with a delightful pack of pediatricians (no, not because we’d retained them to monitor Das Baby, but because of Herr Husband’s work). Their clinical opinion was that he was the cutest freakin’ thing even (excepting their own grand/children, of course).
Oh yeah, and Das Baby came off of both daytime oxygen (November) and nighttime oxygen (February). The 02 feels like a distant memory, which is, frankly, awesome.
Now that I’ve returned, I owe you lots. What do you want to hear about: Trying to make friends in the ‘burbs? My fear of being the slutty mom at baby swim class? A review of Spot’s Balloon, quite possibly the most tragic, amoral children’s book ever? What really happens to your breasts if you pump for 18 months? My attempts to teach Das Baby to answer the question, “Who farted?” with “Dada,” regardless of the truth? Said efforts failed (he kept saying “Mama,” no matter the actual answer), which is why you shouldn’t manipulate your child’s language development for your own amusement.
Or you can hear more from Das Baby, who apparently wants to discuss golf. Ordinarily it’s a topic I’d find excruciatingly boring, but his little voice manages to make anything sound adorable.
I am a relative late comer to grown-uphood. I’ve always been a late bloomer (I didn’t get boobs until I was seventeen). And I was no different when it came to becoming an adult.
“But, Hipster Hausfrau,” you say, “You bought a condo when you were twenty-six. You got married when you were twenty-eight. You taught high school English for six years.”
In response, I offer exhibits
But having a baby, especially a medically needy baby, kind of turns you into a grown up, like it or not. The secret is, most days I like it. In fact, whereas acting like a grown up used to alternately bore or terrify me, now I find it rather soothing.
I think we can all agree that I’ve had lots to be anxious about recently. (Das Baby’s early arrival, feeding problems, and impending surgery, for starters.) And what have I turned to (other than Das Baby and Herr Husband, and my other longtime love, literature) to settle my jingle-jangle brain?
Grown up behavior.
That’s right. Not booze, not hiding in bed, not even 90210 reruns.
Instead, I registered our car in Massachusetts and switched our auto insurance accordingly. I made appointments for Das Baby to see the audiologist and the ophthalmologist, and reminded his pulmonologist to schedule Das Baby’s echocardiogram for while he’s sedated for the G-Tube (so he doesn’t have to be sedated twice). I selected a doctor for myself, and went to see her to get referrals for: an OB/GYN (to see if I should ever try to get pregnant again, or if it’s a crazy idea), my old endocrinologist (whom I love and secretly wish would be my friend), and an ophthalmologist (because I have this weird but apparently not uncommon thing called lattice degeneration which I’m supposed to have monitored every year, but haven’t because, well, I’ve been a little busy with other medical problems).
Boring as hell? Abso-fucking-lutely. But getting things settled is a wonderful thing. Controlling the things I can control functions as a balm (not a potent one, but still) for some of the many things I can’t.
The very thing which I spent far too long trying to avoid actually makes me feel better. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t see my generation’s prolonged adolescence as the harbinger of social decay that some old fuddy-duddies might. But it turns out acting like an adult can help you feel more in charge of your life. You know, like a grown up should be.
I know, I know. A world of duh. What did I tell you? I’m a late bloomer.
And because you don’t pay to see pictures of my former questionable decision making:
Today someone arrived at this blog by Googling “Hausfrau oral.” I have a feeling he (or she! ladies can like domestic porn too) was quite disappointed.
Someone else wanted to know if a hipster’s room should be green or yellow. I vote green. But an ironic bright or pea green. I suggest Benjamin Moore’s Eccentric Lime (but note that I like to choose paints based on the vibe evoked by their names).
Today we had incredibly useless G-Tube training. Not: here’s how you will feed your kid through a belly tube, but instead: don’t give your kid a bath for a week after it’s inserted, and be sure to clean the site with a 1/4 hydrogen peroxide to 3/4 water solution, and twist the tube a quarter turn every day, and here’s how to tape it. (Vaguely reminiscent of the training I received after getting my navel pierced in Madrid in 1997.) These instructions seem like things we could have been told while he was in the hospital. I feel like training should have been more about the next bunch o’ months/years, not the one week post-procedure. But apparently the really useful info will come when he’s inpatient after the insertion.
And as for will it affect his motor skills/will it come out when he’s commando crawling (his new awesome baby trick!)? They say it should be ok.
We still don’t have a date for the procedure. But we do know definitively that we’re skipping an NG (nasogastric, or nose to tummy tube) trial, thanks to our pulmo who feels such things are bad news for o2 dependent babes.
Herr Husband, Le Gigi, and I were all quite stressed out by the day. Das Baby seemed happy that he got to skip a meal while at the hospital, less happy that he missed his naps. Herr Husband and Das Baby decided to go to bed early to mitigate their respective anxiety and fatigue.
I chose a big glass of red wine (yum), reading Motherless Brooklyn (double yum), and a blog sesh (you can rate the yumness) to quell my nerves.
I give this approach a B- for efficacy. Let me know if you have anything better, but keep in mind it has to be safe for lactating ladies and their offspring.