Friday, November 30, 2007

only a memory

It's funny how quickly you can grow to love something the size of a poppy seed.

I got the first positive test Sunday morning after discovering on Saturday that I was five days late. I guess I just got busy and forgot to count because I had to use this blog to figure it all out. Sunday morning I took the test and it was positive. Two pink lines. We were so excited. I worked hard all Sunday afternoon and all day Monday believing that I only had until May to finish my dissertation before I would be too uncomfortable to work. I looked at Charlie with new eyes. He seemed so grown up compared to a newborn. I saw him as a big brother.

By Tuesday afternoon I knew something was wrong. I told myself that it was just a little spotting and that it happens in 30% of pregnancies according to what I've read. I took another test, still positive, though now I realize that the slightly fainter second line was an ominous sign. Wednesday morning I took a third test and went to the doctor to get labwork done.

Thursday I saw a physician's assistant who told me my HCG level was only fifteen. She was very insenstive and gave me a canned schpiel about how I didn't cause this and most of the time it's just bad luck. She didn't give me any opportunity to ask questions and after a quick physical exam she handed me a kleenex and brochure and left. I will not be going back to that practice.

My HCG level today is only two.

When we had our first ultrasound for Charlie they saw a something that they thought might be a second baby. It was smaller than Charlie and didn't have a detectable heartbeat. Ryan and I joked that we were having a baby and a puppy. It was gone a week later when they did a repeat ultrasound. It was most likely a shadow, but I can't help but look at Charlie sometimes and think about what it might have been.

Charlie's twin and this baby are together now. It makes me happy to think about them playing together.

I'm starting to feel better now.


An HCG level of fifteen does not a hospitable uterus make.

I have a retest this morning. Think thoughts of thirty.

But the doctor is not hopeful. And I can't handle the disappointment again, so I am not either.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

A conversation with the new friend Charlie and I met on the swings today:

Friend: "What do you do?"

Me: "I'm working on my dissertation in wi*nd scie*nce but I'd rather be a lactation consultant. What about you?"

Friend: "I have a masters degree in clinical psychology but what I really want is to be a yoga instructor."

She LOVED my line about Charlie doing the standing sun salute in utero. (which I made before I knew of her career aspirations, hello I am not that desperate)

(Except that I am and I would have done an entire standing sun salute right there on the playground if it meant a new friend who lives nearby)

She gave me her card. But only after I pushed Charlie on the swing for so long he was looking at me like "Sorry to interrupt you Mother, but I seem to have lost the feeling in my legs. Perhaps we should move to the scary stairs of death or the slide now, hmmmm?"

When Ryan got home I did a little happy dance in a circle around him while waving the card enticingly just out of his reach and chanting "I got a numbah! I got a numbah!" He may have thought I was having a seizure.

So anyway, I just emailed her an upbeat "So nice to meet you this afternoon, let's have coffee sometime soon!" Which I think is an improvement from my rough draft "Will you be my friend?" with little check boxes for yes or no. I don't know enough HTML to make that work in an email.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Ooooh, it feels so good. Blazing fast reliable internet after two and a half weeks of "sharing" some stranger's extremely unreliable wireless network. It's delightful. Of course we can't find our wireless router so I can only sit three feet away from the modem. But I don't care. You know what else? Cable. Yes. I'm watching A Wedding Story now and just finished up two episodes of Bringing Home Baby. Charlie's napping. I've unpacked three boxes, sorted all Charlie's clothes, put away the too small and out of season ones, stuffed all the BumGenius diapers, done two loads of laundry, AND brushed my teeth. I've eaten a banana, a cookie, and a piece of whole wheat bread with hippie peanut butter on it.

And I haven't had any caffeine. It's day three. Day one was alright because I had a lot of donuts and cookies. I almost committed several felonies on day two. So far so good today. But I haven't tried to drive anywhere. I'm saving tons of money now that The Big Green Coffee Shop is out of my pockets.

Maybe this is sort of what it's like when a smoker quits and can run up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I can think straight. RIGHT WHEN I WAKE UP! Wild.

The weather has finally improved after being in the low 40s and raining all weekend so maybe we'll go to the park this afternoon. Or maybe I'll still be doing laundry. We've had houseguests for two weeks so I'm a little behind on everything.

I wish I had more to say, but I'm booorrring. Last night Ryan and I stole a couple of minutes to go to the grocery store together to buy paper and pens. Ro-maaannn-tic. He didn't make any comments when I bought more cookie dough, I turned down the radio when Delilah came back on... it's the little things that make a relationship special.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Thanksgiving, and the accompanying deluge of advertising suggesting you celebrate the birth of our Savior (or the miracle of the provision of the oil for the consecration of the Temple, did I get that right?) by buying a six-thousand dollar TV made me reflect on how much I really have to be grateful for and how little I really need. My material needs have all been met. I have a reliable car, a warm place to live, more than enough to eat, and plenty of clothing in good condition that will serve me for years to come. I have a great (warm, kind, sexy) husband who loves me and whose job pays enough that I can finish my dissertation (last post's temper tantrum notwithstanding) part time while still getting to stay home with Charlie much of the time and an adorable, healthy little boy. There is nothing more that I need.

Thanksgiving was fun. We had seventeen at the table. Four generations. Charlie ate his turkey chopped and mixed with mashed potatoes and he has an insatiable taste for cranberry sauce. After dinner the little cousins made paper airplanes from plans in the Dangerous Book for Boys while everyone else sat around the table enjoying eachother's company. Thanks to a cold front that passed through Wednesday afternoon it felt like November outside and when Ryan and I took a very bundled up Charlie to the park to go on the swings there were families playing football in their coats and nice clothes. One dad stopped and said he recognized us from church and wished us a happy Thanksgiving.



It was perfect!

Oh, and to Mr. Anonymous, who leaves mean-spirited comments on blogs under the guise of a "helpful suggestion": Your indicates possession while you're is a contraction of the two words you and are. Therefore your comment made no sense and I was forced to delete it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


My sister just changed careers. With my family's cheerful encouragement and support.

I'm happy for her. Her last job was ridiculous and she was miserable. And the new one sounds really neat and has lots of potential.

One question. How miserable do I have to be before I will have my family's cheerful support in making a change?

How many days have to end in frustrated tears? How many humiliating meetings with my advisor? How many creative answers to questions about my progress from well-meaning family members? How many more fake smiles and artificial conversations about how great it is to be stuck with this decision I made for myself more than four years ago, before marriage, before motherhood?

I am ashamed to want to quit. Much has been invested in me finishing. So although there is no future for me in this career in South. And we are paying for daycare though I make no income. And Charlie learned to shake his head "no" at daycare which makes me think he hears it a lot (I'm not one of those people. But it still makes me worry). I will find some way to drag myself through the rest of this process.

But it won't be for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When all else fails, it's time to trick your baby

Charlie, since he has my DNA, has an aversion to protein foods that are not scrambled eggs. He would happily eat nothing but organic whole grain flax seed waffles (which are exactly like ordinary toaster waffles except they taste terrible and cost twice as much), yogurt, bananas, applesauce, and pears if I would just stop being so mean and let him. He once ate an entire double egg breakfast taco (a tortilla wrapped around about four scrambled eggs) the other day. In the morning I have to give him his banana first and then carefully remove the waffle from the freezer, hide it behind my back, walk sideways over to the toaster, stealthily slide the waffle in and push the button, then remove the cooked waffle to cool. If he sees that waffle it is o-v-e-r for the banana. Tonight I took the empty waffle box out of the freezer in front of him and he sat on the floor clapping and laughing and signing "more" until he realized I was throwing the box away and not making him one. And then he was MAD. Which is really quite funny.

I've been trying to coax him into eating some more of what the pediatrician describes as "table foods" and thinks Charlie is capable of eating exclusively. Tonight I put him in the highchair, cut up some chicken breast into tiny pieces suitable to his toothless mouth, and put the chicken and some peas and carrots on his tray. I then moved to another part of the kitchen because I learned from Amalah that the worst thing you can do is act like you care what he eats. I watched out of the corner of my eye as he put a piece of chicken in his mouth, became enraged, and then flung it onto the floor to our dog. Stifling a laugh, I watched as he did the same thing with a pea and then a carrot. And then a few pieces of Vermont Cheddar that I put on there. Then I sprinkled some Cheerios among the debris on his tray hoping a few things would get in accidentally. Instead I learned that I have underestimated Charlie's sorting and fine motor skills. The same thing happened last night with chicken, rice (which he eats at restaraunts but not at home), and blueberries.

When Ryan came home tonight he got out our food chopper, chopped up about an adult sized portion of chicken, mixed it with a tub of Gerber carrots, and gave it to Charlie who sucked the whole thing down like it was candy.


This morning I took Charlie with me to buy some donuts for my grandparents, who are staying with us for Thanksgiving (four generations are living in one house right now, it's pretty cool). I bought some donut holes and gave him one to try in the car before we left. He carefully chewed it up and when I couldn't see anything more in his mouth I asked if he was all done. He enthusiastically signed "All Done", so I closed his door and walked around to the driver's side. Clearly I misunderstood him when he signed all done because his angry screams could be heard outside the car before I opened my door. He calmed down after several minutes and then the sugar hit him. He started yelling "YA YA YA YA YA" and talking to himself as we drove home. I hid the bag after he had a few more donut holes at home. But apparently I didn't hide it well enough to keep myself from polishing off the rest of them myself.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And that's why it only cost $4

I have this shirt that I bought from the Gap a few months ago. It is black and fitted and has a few little buttons in the front and is comfy. And it was $4. Perfect!

You know how when you buy a fancy dress or low rise jeans you always make sure you can sit down in the item before you buy it? I think next time I buy a shirt I am going to spend a few minutes carrying Charlie around to make sure the shirt's neckline does not allow him to expose my entire bra without me noticing. Like he did at Little Gym on Saturday when I was this close to making a new friend. A new friend who now knows I wear a bra with so much coverage I could use the extra material to make a new pair of pants.**

The potential new friend is not the same woman I had this pre-Birds Class conversation with though:

Her: "My Justin is sixteen months old, he's the oldest boy in this class! How old is your little one?"

Me: "He just turned one a few weeks ago."

Her: "Well I guess Justin isn't the oldest anymore, then!"

Me: blink...blink...blink...turn slowly, pretend to fuss with invisible spot on Charlie's shirt

Now Ryan and I have a little routine where I say "I guess Justin's not the oldest anymore, is he?" in a fake cheerful sing-songy voice and Ryan says "WTF?!" and then stares at me with his mouth partway open.

**not that I'm complaining... this thing is straight out of the Oprah bra-makover-lose-ten-pounds-instantly show.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh Poop.

So yesterday I dragged Charlie around the mall on a mission to find a good price on Robeez, the adorable and orthopedically correct leather slippers for infants (because his narrow-minded daycare insists he wear shoes to class and also because my mom offered to buy him some because he looks so darn cute in shoes) and when we got home he was conked out in his carseat. I carried him up to his room and changed his diaper. The thought of putting his shorts back on briefly crossed my mind, as he has been known to escape from his diaper before, but I thought that since he was so tired he would go to sleep quickly without any diaper hyjinx.


I am dumb dumb dumb.

So, about twenty minutes later I was sitting on my coffee table watching Maury (because we can't find our remote and channel surfing is impossible from the couch) and Charlie started crying. At first I thought he would settle himself down and go back to sleep but then I noticed something different in his voice. Something that said "I removed my pants and am now totally covered in poop. Please come help me, Mama" perhaps?

Yes, that's exactly what he was saying.

The smell hit me as soon as I got to his door. I carried him (at arms length) over to his changing table and looked at the tiny box of wipes and then back at his long, chubby, poop encrusted legs AND arms. Not only would wipes not work, I would almost certainly get poop all over myself in the process and since I only have three shirts that I like I couldn't take that chance.

Silently cursing myself for feeding him black beans for lunch, I took him into the bathroom (which thankfully does not yet have a rug in it) stripped him down, and put him straight into a bubble bath. He did not object. Once he was clean and dry and dressed in both a tshirt AND shorts, I started on his crib. Everything (bumper, sheet, blankie, Phent, pacifiers) went into the washing machine. I went back upstairs and found more poop on the floor, the wall, the bars of the crib, all over the changing table, and on the bathroom floor. Oh, and on my shorts where he was playing with the hem while I was getting his bath ready.

I found a little more IN HIS EYEBROW later in the harsh glare of the lights at the grocery store. I licked my finger and dabbed at it and smiled at the other mothers like "Heh heh, kids can't eat anything without getting it everywhere." Which in an indirect way is true I guess.

He will be sleeping in thumbless mittens from now on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Dear Dr. Lastname,

(what the hell??)

I am writing to ask if you would be willing to review a manuscript for the Journal of Sciencey Gobbledygook.


The manuscript title is "Hard hard hard scary sort of related to your research." Please let me know within the next few days if you will be able to take this on.





I IMed Dr. Advisor and told him I'd decline and pass along his name and he said "You are qualified to do this but you may not be comfortable critically reviewing a paper at this time." Orrrrr maaaybe they wouldn't be comfortable with ME because they THINK I ALREADY HAVE A PHD!! Maybe it would be like that time I went on a field project trip as an "expert in residential construction" and ended up sitting in the back and writing down field notes the whole time. Educational for me, disappointing for them.


But still, pretty cool! Almost makes the ENTIRE DAY I spent making histograms yesterday seem less asinine.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We're In The Big House

Yesterday the movers came and brought all our stuff to the Big House where we will be living until we can buy something of our own, probably this summer. The Big House is the house I lived in from eigth grade until I graduated from high school. So yes, nine years of higher education, a husband, and a child and I am once again living with my parents. The parents have suggested I tell people that they are living with me, instead of the other way around, but really it's going to be great. They love Charlie, Charlie loves them. The house is plenty big enough for all of us (it was selected with the goal of surviving daily life with two teenaged girls and so unless you get hungry and need the kitchen you can take care of most of your needs without encountering another person). Our living area swallows up our furniture. And the rug that used to cover the entire exposed floor space of our living room now fits nicely into the foyer (it's an average sized foyer if that gives you any idea of the size of our last place).

I love it here. And it was so great to have our bed back after three weeks of sleeping on the craptastic bed at the tempo-partment with the pit of despair in the middle. Even with Mr. Crankypants waking up approximately fourteen times between 4:00 and 6:20 the first morning and ten times between 2:00 and 4:30 this morning when I finally brought him into bed with me and sent Ryan to the couch where he could cough without waking us up (this cold Charlie brought home is a doozie, we have both had it). The Big Green Coffee Shop, the grocery store, and the video store are all within walking distance so now I don't have to drive so much; my soul feels calmer already.

I spent yesterday unpacking and trying to keep Charlie off the stairs. Boy is he into those stairs. He can crawl all the way up in less than a minute, giggling the whole way. Ryan and my dad installed a shiny new baby gate. One that screws to the wall. It should keep Charlie off the stairs but it will also be fun to turn off all the lights and get on the other side of the gate and ask our dog if he wants to go for a walk and then listen for the "FWUMP!"

I just got back from the Tempo-partment with a big load of our stuff so I need to go put it away before my dad gets back with the first load of their stuff and this experiment in multi-generational living begins.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's a Party for ME!

It's a party for ME

This post is not witty, but there are many pictures

Charlie's birthday weekend, or the Festival of Cake as we are calling it, was lots of fun. It started Friday morning at the Tempo-partment where he unwrapped his first present, a bus wagon full of big legos, and had his first piece of cake. Then we took donuts to Ryan at work to celebrate and went to Ikea to pick out a couple of toys together (the inflatable hedgehog was nearly irresistable, but somehow I managed to leave without it).

He loved the busdriver. Now all we need is a construction worker, an Indian, and a cowboy and we'll have The Village Little People!

"Wait, this isn't bananas and plain yogurt!"

Next we went out to my parents' lakehouse for his first party, with more toys and more cake and a very late night for Mr. Charlie who was getting whiney until he saw the cake come out with the pretty candle on it.


"I want to go to bed please."


"Yummy! Have you guys tried this? It's delightful!"

Saturday was his real party with the big family and lots and lots of different dips (because I should really write things down when planning a party instead of wandering around the grocery store half asleep grabbing everything that sounds good to me). I made him this dog cake.


The dog cake almost didn't happen because my engineering background made it nearly impossible to figure out how I could make a dog cake without brown icing. Because dogs are brown, duh! After a good ten minutes trying to figure out what colors you had to mix to get brown I just grabbed some blue and red icing and sprinkles and left. Sometime later in the car (and not coincidentally after I'd had some caffeine) I thought "Blue dog! Of course!" And only now that I am typing this does the thought occur to me that chocolate icing is brown.

Sheesh, is it any wonder I'm having so much trouble with my dissertation?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Man

A year ago tonight Ryan and I were sitting on the couch fidgeting and making awkward conversation as we waited for the appointed time to go to the hospital so that labor could be induced. Around eleven o'clock we got up, took one last glance around our child-free home and gathered our pillows and hospital bag. As we pulled into the parking lot I remember wishing with all my heart that there was some easier way to get the baby out. I was terrified. But I kept picturing this teeny infant with short dark hair wearing blue pajamas. I imagined how he would feel when I held him, how warm his head would be. He did have some blue pajamas, but his hair was long and turned reddish after a month. He looks nothing like the picture I had in my head.

That night in the hospital was surreal. I felt fine, but I was hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor and confined to my bed. In the morning they came in and checked my blood pressure and temperature and started the pitocin IV. The contractions started immediately and my doctor suggested I get on the waiting list for an epidural so I did, even though I thought we had many hours to wait. After an hour and a half the contractions had become very intense and I only had a thirty-second break between them. I lay on my side and squeezed a wet washcloth in Ryan's hand while he rubbed the small of my back with his fist.

Finally the doctor came in and gave me my epidural. I was so comfortable I suggested that Ryan go get something to eat because, again, I thought we would have several hours to wait. About five minutes after he left the nurse came in, did an exam, and said "I'm going to go get someone else, I think I touched his head!" The new nurse said "All I can feel is his hair, you're ready to push!!" I said "But my husband is at Sonic!" Fortunately they said I could wait for a few more minutes as long as I was comfortable.

When Ryan came back it was time to push. I got an oxygen mask because Charlie's heart rate decreased with the contractions. My OB decided to use the vaccuum extractor and he was born after four contractions or so at 11:55. My doctor laid him on my chest and I held him in my arms. I remember thinking that he didn't feel small and helpless like I thought he would. He was eight pounds and ten ounces, so I guess he wasn't as small as some newborns. His hair was curly because it was wet. He cried and cried while the nurses examined him and wrapped him in a warm blanket. They handed him to me and then everyone left the room and it was just the three of us. He only stopped crying when he was nursing and he had no trouble latching on that first time.

It's so weird calling him Charlie in that context because I didn't know him at all then. We had just met! He was so different than the rambunctious little boy he is now that it seems impossible that they are the same person. It has been so much fun getting to know him.

Tonight he had trouble going to sleep so I held him and he laid his head on my chest and his hand on my stomach and fell asleep. As I listened to his quiet breathing and waited for his eyes to close I thought about the first time he fell asleep on my chest a year and one night ago. I thought about the nurse bringing him in to nurse in the middle of the night and waking up and awkwardly trying to latch him on and watching him eat in pure amazement.

Today he was miserable on the car ride to meet Ryan for dinner so while we were waiting in the parking lot I pulled him out of his carseat and let him eat. The first time I nursed him in the car he was so tiny I held his whole body in one arm. This time I had to leave the door open so his feet could hang out. And this time when he was full, instead of snuggling into me to sleep, he waved at a longhorn in a nearby field and said "Bye bye!"

In one year he's been to Dallas, Austin, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Boston, Maine, and Cape Cod. He's been to two parades, one professional conference, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Make Way for Ducklings statues in Boston, Little Gym, and trick or treating. He's been on a boat, a train, the subway, and a wagon. He loves to swim but hates baths (even if it's in the big tub and he wears his swimsuit). His favorite food right now is a jelly sandwich on a croissant but he also likes chopped spinach mixed into plain yogurt.

So, happy birthday Big Boy! I can't wait to keep getting to know the neat little person you are becoming.

Charlie's First Year from charlielaughs on Vimeo.