Friday, June 29, 2012

How not to get invited back

As you may know, DC is kind of extreme in terms of politics, and that pretty much everyone has a stance on every issue, or is expected to.

This is sometimes hard for me, and particularly lately, when I'm even more unplugged than usual. So if I've missed the Daily Show or Nick is gone for a period of time, like this past week, I have no idea what's going on in the world.

Sometimes I rely on Facebook to tell me what's new, like yesterday, when everyone I know was rejoicing about the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

Just about all my friends are Democrats, and very into politics. And as I recall from our single days, none of them would date a Republican.

It was one of the screening criteria during the dating days. Republican? No way. I have friends who have never dated a Republican.

Whereas I dated a number of them. I mean like actual boyfriends, not just the cheese-hating not-date date.

It must be admitted that during the height (or perhaps abyss) of my online-dating frenzy, my therapist did suggest setting the bar fairly low. And sometimes I'm sure it seemed like professional circus freaks were really the only absolute nos.

Which is not to say I'm putting Republicans in the low-bar professional or even non-professional circus freak category. I'm just trying to explain myself. Basically, you can't be as attracted as I am to conservative-looking men without winding up with a Republican or seven.

But among my friends, I am in the minority.

So my dear dear friend Ann, the only friend I've kept in close contact with since college, came to visit this week with her lovely - and very non-Republican - daughter. They live in Richmond, not DC, but their family is just as focused on politics as my friends here.

We were talking about the upcoming election. And our hopes and fears. And how why aren't Democrats focusing on the Mormon thing with Romney in order to make the rabid Christian voting populace twitchy?

Ann said that she'd recently met a Mormon and she asked him about the special underwear. Her daughter said, "Can you believe it? She didn't even know him and she asked him about his underwear!"

Ann defended herself with, "He was wearing a tag identifying himself as Mormon. Don't you think that's inviting questioning?"

I do. Yes, I do.

And anyway, this is just who Ann is. In fact, she and my dad horrified family friends when they talked about underwear at the dinner table. There are huge reasons we're such good friends.

She told me that some years ago a friend in Richmond had invited her and her husband over for dinner. She'd gotten seated next to a guy who turned out to be a speech writer for Dick Cheney.

Ann expressed her horror and the guy said, "He's actually very nice."

To which Ann replied, "I'm sure Hitler's friends thought he was a good guy as well."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

India: month two

Dear India,

Now you are two months old, twice as old as you were a month ago! You now weigh 12 pounds, 3 ounces, and you're 23 inches long.

Also, the hair on top of your head has started growing. You can see it getting longer (or rather, taller) day by day. You still have that middle-aged accountant baldness, but pretty soon you might even have a mullet!

We had a few hard weeks of nightly screamfests, and it got to where I would dread the approach of 6:00 pm. But during that time your father perfected the panther pose, and you rest very happily on his forearm.

Now you like to be carried around like that. Here he is performing feats of strength and fatherhood.
You're awake for longer and longer, and you're getting curious about the world around. Or the nearby world around. Oh, the fan! The lights! The fan!

Your big brother is warming up to you. He pats you very gently and says, in a very soft voice, "Hi, India." The other night he helped me give you a bath, and he kept telling you that you were OK.

That said, he still gets jealous when I'm carrying you and he has to walk, and I wouldn't put it past him to try and see if a penny would fit in your nose, so it'll be a while before you hang out just the two of you.

Speaking of hanging out, you and I spend a lot of hours together in the red chair in the living room - nursing, cuddling, you sleeping on me. I know this time is fleeting, and sometimes I just sit there and stick my nose in your hair and nuzzle your sweet little face and squeeze your chubby feet.

I love you love you love you.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The kinds of things best discussed delicately. And out loud. It turns out. Uh, hypothetically.

Have you ever had an entire conversation in your head and then later emphatically remembered it as something that actually happened?

Like, in your mind the conclusion you came to was decided between you and another person? Rather than something discussed all in your brain and agreed upon by you

Me neither.

But if I did do that sort of thing, it might be as follows:

(And aren't hypotheticals fun?)

Just to set the scene: You know Nick and I had this baby two months ago. Our second child. Our last child. We really wanted two; we have two. We are old, we are tired, and by the time they are both in college it's going to cost a million dollars a year. Approximately.

So I invite you picture us sitting in the living room of an evening, about a month after the birth. I'd still be sitting in the big red command center chair where I'd been nursing all day. I'd be reclining limply, clinging firmly to a glass of freshly-poured wine.

Nick would have one as well, or maybe a beer. We'd both be exhausted, and unwinding a bit before heading up to sleep.

Being a person who needs more sleep than your normal human, the lack of sleep would be taking a huge toll on me. I'd be thinking about how insane we were for having had another kid. And much as we love them both, how we would not - absolutely not - be having another.

And since we'd already decided what we were going to do, it wouldn't seem out of place to turn to my husband and say, "So, when do you think you're going to get snipped?"

Which would elicit the following response from Husband: Blank look. "Snipped?"

"You know. Snipped." (Duh.) For clarification, although why clarification might be necessary would be beyond me, this would be said with a pointed look at his fly and a raised hand, two fingers making a snip-snip motion, such as a scissors might.

In case you're wondering, I would venture to offer that whether you've had a prior conversation or not, a scissor snip-snip motion is perhaps never the right thing to do when having a chat with a man about his manly bits.

Also, if you've never in real, out-loud life had the prior conversation in which more than one of you - the one without the manly bits - decided that snipping would be the next logical step, you might meet with some, ah, resistance.

And furtherly also, one might be best off not to refer to it as snipping.

Is how I imagine it, I mean.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day, year three

Dear Dad,

It's been three years since you left us. Three years last month.

Now I can talk and think about you without crying. I think that tremendous, terrible loss is like pregnancy and childbirth - we're programmed to forget the truly painful, because otherwise the human race would not endure.

Well, not forget. That's the wrong way to put it. But the memories cease to be so visceral, to tear you apart when they surface. And for a long time they lived so barely under the surface. I'm pretty sure that my pain was constantly visible for ages.

So I can remember how much losing you hurt, but I have distance from the rawness.

For a long time I felt like being angry at you for anything from the past - and most of all for leaving us so devastated - was betrayal. I tried very hard not to be angry, or if I was, not to voice it.  Now I can admit to anger, and it is brief.

Mostly I just miss you.

I had a baby, a little girl, in April. Maybe you know this already. We named her India after my birthplace. She's absolutely lovely. You would adore her.

It seems like her eyes will stay blue, as Jordan's did. So she too has my eyes, which I got from you.

Nick's father is now the only grandfather they will have, and this pains me I think more than losing you myself. He's a nice person, but not remotely interested in children.  I hear Jordan talking enthusiastically about Grandpa and it kicks me in the stomach, since he spent a week here and never once interacted with my son.

I know you'd be down on the floor playing with Jordan, tickling him, laughing with him. You'd hold India and delight in her. The unfairness of this gets me at my core.

Then I chide myself for pulling fairness into it, because the world doesn't operate on the fairness system.

This picture brings back memories. I remember how you used to read on your bed, with your knees up, and J and I would crawl under your knees, back and forth, until finally you would grab us and tickle us and we would squeal with fear - we're going to be tickled! - and delight. And do it over and over and over again.

You know, Nick, who is as steady and dependable as time and the tide, once said to me that while he doesn't have my lows, and certainly doesn't envy them, sometimes he envies the highs. He says you can't have one without the other, and I think that is true.

And I know I wouldn't trade you having been my dad for someone more even-keeled. Although I wish the lows weren't so low, I know we wouldn't had the high times either.

I reach back into memory and there were many great times, there really were.

I miss you, Dad.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Disposable Dixie-cup drinking I assassin down the avenue

I'm now right about at the point where, with Jordan, I had my meltdown and my friend Tori told me she respected my boobs.

I don't want to go on and on about the fact that things are so much better this time...but they are, they so are.

And I have this new friend who I met during the exit session at the hospital.

Sibley's exit class was over an hour long, and we were told all kinds of things like how to bathe our new progeny and how to keep track of wet and poopy diapers on our little charts and the importance of continuing to squarch our vaginas.

GW's exit class was a lot shorter, and consisted mainly of this video on how your baby might scream incessantly and you might have the urge to shake him or her but it is vitally important not to do so. Of course I'm simplifying, but that was the gist. And then the nurse told us not to eat broccoli because it could make our babies gassy.

Anyway, the important part is that I made this friend who had a baby girl the same day as India and who lives a scant four blocks away. She's extremely interesting and funny, and it feels very lucky to have a new friend who is both of those things and in the same at home and sleep-deprived state as me.

So we decided we'd meet up weekly to walk and talk, but our walking plans typically go all to hell because basically we just take turns nursing and burping our daughters. One is happy and the other is hungry, and so on and so forth.

But this week when we met up I suggested walking to Whole Foods. I needed more prenatal vitamins.

We both nursed a bit, then set off, agreeing that there were multiple spots to stop along the way if need be.

Shockingly, both were sound asleep when we arrived, and stayed asleep through the admittedly short shopping trip. At the checkout my friend suggested we push our luck and have salads at Sweetgreen.

We got our salads and set ourselves up at an inside table, and then both girls started fussing, so we moved to a marginally more private corner table, with me sitting on the short end in the window bench, and her sitting on the long side in a corner. All barricaded in by our sizable strollers.

We installed ourselves just in time for our little bundles of delight to really open their mouths wide and kick up a fuss.

Thus, without hesitation, we each whipped out a breast, stuck our respective daughters to it, and covered up with a blanket. So there we were, lunching near, if not with, each other, eating salads one-handed, me dropping quinoa on my kid, her dropping chickpeas on hers.

At some point I noted that not only did we have the same type of blanket, but hers matched her outfit, and mine matched mine.

We began to wonder if they would think we were having a nurse-in.

When both babies were happy and we'd each shoveled as much salad as possible into our faces and were organizing ourselves to go, we realized that both little buttercups of sweetness had some serious business in their little tiny diapers.

My friend suggested heading to the Breastfeeding Center to avail ourselves of their changing tables, which we did. In case you need nursing supplies or advice, I highly recommend this place. They helped me immensely with nursing Jordan.

We made it as far as the little park at Florida and Mass before India was enraged. It turned out she was just hot and crabby, but I offered her a boob in case.

There was a bus across the street, and I saw a man realize what I was up to and open his eyes wide in shock. I thought about waving but I needed both hands.

I got these great shirts from Target, which aren't officially nursing shirts but are both cuter and better than the nursing shirts I have, so you can tell that I have a kid on my boob, but you don't have a view of my business.

And then my friend, her daughter, my daughter and my business and I got up and went home.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

And now she's snuglar as a buglar in a Sniglar

Oddly enough, I think the most contentious post I've ever written was on how to pronounce sauna.

Because I say SOWna, and Nick says SAWna and he makes fun of me every time we talk about a sauna, which is more often than one might think, although I have no idea why, since I haven't been in one in a few years, though I love them. (Also, incidentally, my pronunciation is totally right.)

Nick prefers a steam bath, but I think they're kind of icky. You could just bring some eucalyptus and sit naked at a DC bus stop in July and get the similar effect. I like the dry heat. Of a SOWna.


The trigger for this is that on Tuesday I went to IKEA with India to buy her a crib. A Sniglar, to be precise. Nick put it together at 5 am on Wednesday while I nursed and we spoke Snigglish.

You know. The Sniglar isn't so biglar. Except craplar, now it's stuck in the doorglar.

Ohh, sleep deprivation makes everything hilarglar.

Also, saunas are originally Finnish and IKEA is Swedish and my ancestors are Norwegian. Not the same, but Nordic countries, all. Glar.

So the Sniglar.

Jordan has not taken to the Big Boy Bed. You know how he snuck off to eat pie and watch Rachel Maddow in the middle of the night. And then he absolutely destroyed his room a couple times.

He really likes the bed in small doses, but then he wants the safety of his crib. He's struggling with the sibling thing anyway, so I don't really want to take it away from him.

And India has been in this travel crib bassinet, but as she sleeps she scoots herself sideways and winds up with her head all mashed against the side. So I looked at options on the IKEA site and figured for $70 it was worth it.

We determined that it would fit in Nick's car, and at 43 pounds I could lift it, and since I wanted it nownownow I went by myself.

I felt proud once I'd accomplished it, because one, I found the outing rather daunting. The beltway - even though it turns out to only be one road - stresses me the hell out. And I'm like a kid driving Nick's Nick-sized car, peering up over the dashboard. Aaaaand, dauntingest of all, I had to shop for something large with a baby in tow.

I wore her in a Bjorn, and a very nice man helped me get the large, unwieldy package of Sniglar down from the upper shelf of Row 20, Bin 15 and onto my gigantor cart thingy.

Now, it turns out that 43 pounds of large crib box is very different from 43 pounds of dumbbell.  Who knew? By the time I got the thing in the car India was screaming and I was sweating profusely and the only way I could calm us both down was to blast both the air conditioning and 80s music.

Which is how I discovered that India has my taste in music: Corey Hart quieted her right down.

'Cause no one can take away your right to fight and to never surrendglar.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

In which I have the power to multiply the loaves and doctors talk about cars. In other words: Jordan's birth story

I don't think I ever told you Jordan's birth story.

It stands in stark contrast to India's, and I figure I might as well write it down before I forget it entirely. Although truthfully, I've had to ask Nick about Jordan's birth, because I was stuck behind a sheet and also rather drugged up.

I mean, my face was stuck behind a sheet. They had the rest of me. Probably goes without saying.

I'd gone in to be induced on a Tuesday night, and then Wednesday they tried to manually open my cervix and it wouldn't budge and also caused me to practically fling myself through the roof with pain.  So they they gave me an epidural and tried again and nothing doing.

So they said: "You're going to wind up with a C-section. You can decide to have one now, or you can wait until your baby goes into distress."

In retrospect I think, oh fuck you very much for the manipulation. But at the time, it only seemed reasonable to not wait until potential harm came to the baby.

Anyway, the bitchy OB on duty that day was having an allergic reaction, and so my OB came to fill in for the surgery.

(On a side bar: I told my now-ex-OB how awful his colleague was, and he said that actually she was about to have a baby herself. I was all, "How nice for her." And only because of Karma, which I hope exists but don't actually much believe in anymore, did I not wish her a C-section.)

Anyway. Back to the Sibley operating room, August 19, 2009.

I don't know if they added more drugs for the procedure or not. I do know that I was awake, but barely present.

I also don't know if they always spread your arms straight out from your sides for surgery? Maybe so there's easy access to your sides? Or it's easier to manage the IV?

Regardless, they had me on the table with my arms out at my sides, completely numb from the chest down, unable to see anything that was going on. And the men - the doctors were all men - started talking about cars. Seriously. Cars!

I recall being puzzled but not bothered, because it was so surreal. And also I was having my own personal mental rave party right there on the operating table.

I'd been so upset all day, but at that point, I was not much bothered by anything. 

So there I was, looking up at bright lights, arms out, face behind a white sheet, listening to car chit-chat. I remember turning my head from one arm to the other. I felt very floaty.

I lay there thinking, "Wow. I. Am. Jesus."

And then there was a loud wail, because Jordan cried as soon as his head was out in the world. And then they got the rest of him out, which I knew because Nick said, "He's out. And he's perfect."

They whisked him across the room to do all the drops and cleanup and whatever.

I smelled burning and wondered if I was on fire, so I asked Nick. Who said they were cauterizing the incision.

And then they showed me my baby, all wrapped up in a hospital blanket.

I was no longer Jesus at that point, in case you're wondering.

And then, as they wrapped up, no fewer than three people said to me, "Look at the size of that head! You are so happy he didn't just come out of your vagina."

Friday, June 01, 2012

Good morning, sweetheart!

Some, I imagine most, people answer the phone with "Hello." Or maybe, "Good morning/afternoon"- as the case may be.

In the US anyway. In Italy you say, "Pronto!" In Germany you answer with your last name, or at any rate, that's what my old boyfriend and his family did. Of course, he also told me that they do the duck dance around the pine tree on Christmas morning, and I believed him.

But I digress. My point, of course, is that there are cultural norms for answering the phone.

And I think Betty used to answer the phone with "Hello!" In fact, I'm quite sure she did.

But then she discovered the joys of caller ID, and she'd announce your name to you when she answered.

And now, we do not have caller ID on our home phone, being that we don't give out the number, and really only have it for the alarm and for emergencies.

It also turns out to be a great home intercom system.

Because my mother can sleep through any alarm. And she is on the third floor, which is not always convenient when one is on the first floor trapped with a boob in the mouth of a small tyrant baby. And she rarely has her cell phone with her. If it is with her, it isn't charged. Or it's lost under a pillow.

So the home phone is a helpful thing.

Betty now mainly answers with, "Hardy boys!" in the afternoon or evening. In the morning, as it's usually me on the other end, she answers with, "Is this the Lisa I know and love?" or "Do you need a baby holder?"

Sometimes it's Nick calling, and he's used to it. Or it's a solicitor.

So she sang out, "Good morning, sweetheart!" when the phone rang early this morning.

It wasn't me.

A man's voice asked if he could speak to Betty. She identified herself.

He replied, ""This isn't sweetheart. This is Kevin from your dentist's office calling to remind you of your appointment."

Don't you think she ought to call him sweetheart when she goes next week?