For Other Mamas of Blondies

Once my son’s white-blonde hair sprouted, I have heard from countless people the expression “towhead”. I had never heard it before, and for some reason I wanted to take offense to it, so I did a bit of research on it.

I thought at first that it was spelled “toehead”, as in his head is so white it looks like a toe. That is completely wrong. Thank God.

It is “towhead” as in, a head of “tow”, which is “An untwisted bundle of fibers such as cellulose acetate, flax, hemp or jute.”

So there you go. It looks like their hair is made of hay. That’s all.

Curveballs

My conundrum begins here:

Last summer, my best San Francisco friend N tells me she’s having her second baby, her daughter is about 6 weeks older than Bowie. She’s the first in our group of parent pals to have her second. I’m like, congrats and…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT. Of course, I didn’t say that last part out loud.

Then, a few months ago, our playgroup pal K tells us she too is preggo with her second bundle of joy (her first is a few weeks older than Bowie). I’m thinking wow that’s awesome…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT.

At this point, I’m surer than I’ve ever been about anything in life that I’m, we’re, not ready for a second baby. Not only would it create a massive financial issue, but, in case you’re a new reader, my son is in the MAD THROES of the “Terrible Twos”. How on earth would I handle a full on, head ramming into the floor, screaming, crazy fit in the middle of Target with a newborn in my arms? I’ll tell ya: I would not. They’d have to put me in the straight jacket right there, in the middle of housewares.

Fast forward to this morning, when a very good pal of N and I, S announces that his wife is now preggo, their first actually being younger than Bowie. GAH.

But the thing is, all of a sudden I had that familiar pang in the pit of my stomach. That gosh I want to snuggle a newborn baby close to me, and not just any newborn, but my own newborn feeling.

The problem is, how do I know if I’m TRULY and FULLY ready for baby #2, or simply feeling left out? Not to mention, how do I quell these feelings for at least, like, a year, because, as previously stated, we are in no way, shape or form prepared for bringing baby #2 into this world. And let’s not even get me started on how the hubbs is super scared of having a second baby at all. And JEBUS, I am super freaking crazy, because if our second little on is a girl, I already have her named. I need some help????

So that’s where we’re at. Ugh.

Now I am a Statistic

Yesterday, I was laid off. My employment fell prey to the recession. You know, the one that’s over?

Mentally, I’m optimistic. I didn’t enjoy the job very much, and it was keeping me from several side projects that I would have enjoyed much more. I got a severance package, so if something happens, we’ve got a bit of a cushion. And I wasn’t making much, so with a little effort, making up for my lost income won’t be all that hard to do. Our health insurance is through my husband’s employer, so I didn’t lose that.

Emotionally? I am crushed. That was my first “real” job after college. I have put so many hours and so much hard work into that company and was a large part of the success it became. Before it ultimately took a right hook in the kisser from the “economic downturn”.

And when you are laid off, as opposed to being fired, you know what you did was necessary, and that you did a good job, but that it was so insignificant, such a small drop in the pond, that someone else could add it to their own list of duties, you really are expendable. Such a blow to the ego.

I can, however, take heart in the fact that executives, people who made way more than me, have also been laid off this year. They likely have mortgages and larger families to support. I am in a better position than most, I’m sure.

And hellooooooooo free time. Now I can get to some of my side projects.

The Flu

My head is spinning over this H1N1 stuff. The media are simultaneously telling us that OMG YOU COULD DIE and OMG THE VACCINE IS BAD FOR YOU. So…what are we supposed to do? Duct tape and Saran wrap our windows I guess?

It’s hard to get our hands on real, empirical, helpful, unbiased information. And normally I’d pay no mind to any of this. I have a relatively good immune system, on the off chance I got it, I’d make it.

But, now I have a kiddo to worry about. What if he got it? Some of the stuff I’m reading suggests that small children have different symptoms and it hits them a bit harder. And kids are, you know, DYING and everything, so yeah, I’m a little worried.

Both kiddo and hubbs have been vaccinated for the regular flu (I don’t get this shot, because I got it all through my childhood, but managed to catch it every year anyway, so now I just save myself the cost and try to stay well). It’s the additional H1N1 vaccine I’m confused/scared/undecided about.

And then there’s the fact that most people as of right now can’t even get the vaccine if they want to. And a vaccine can only cover some strains of the flu, you could still get another strain. Or you could still get the flu you’ve been vaccinated for. No guarantees. So, do we err on the side of caution, or do we save the money and just wash our hands and take our vitamins?

What are you doing, and do you have some good sources I could look at?

Polite

The other day, I went all the way downtown to the mall, which I never do, because I was desperate to see what H&M had on the racks after seeing some ads in a recent magazine. AKA moment of weakness. Plus, I REALLY needed to get kiddo out of the house.

But, on my way through, on a very painfully slow Tuesday morning at the mall, one of the kiosk guys got me. Because, his “gotcha” question was: where are you from?

On my long 3 block walk from the bus stop to the mall, I passed swarms SWARMS of tourists (and, disclaimer, I love ya, I really do, keep coming to SF, but please don’t stop dead in your tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture of a big, dirty building or to plan your route to the ATM) and I was done. Just done. I was so smug. I have lived here for a while now, I am a local, bitches.

So, when he asked where I was from, I was thinking, uh, I am from here, unlike the many tourists I’m sure you sucker in to your booth every day. But, I made the mistake of answering him. And getting into a whole thing about how I was originally from Wisconsin, him from Chicago. And so on and so forth.

And even when I knew I was knee deep in shit and he only cared about selling me something, I just could not leave. Because I have the Midwest Nice. I’ve been stating for years how Midwest Nice is just a myth. Doesn’t exist. They are just as rude a population as anyone else. Yet, something was holding me there, paralyzed with niceness. I blabbed on about how I could not possibly stop today (he was offering a teeth whitening procedure that would involve me staying there for a half hour or so), what with the kiddo and all. And I was on a budget (which is completely true). I threw it all at him. But, I couldn’t find myself just saying, no thanks and walking on, like I normally do. When I’m with my husband, and when there’s ample crowd for them to pick from.

I felt so bad for this guy. I knew he had to pull out all the stops because the coworker who was eavesdropping was likely his manager, and he worked on commission, and after all, I had stopped in the first place. It was ridiculous. I knew and he knew that I was not going to buy anything, but he kept giving the pitch and I kept being so…nice. Just nice. There is not another word for it.

My 8th grade English teacher told us “nice” used to mean “stupid”. Well, I think I fit the original definition that day.

Worst Week

I’ve had a heck of a week. Seriously. When it rains it pours. Here’s a snapshot:

On Tuesday, Bowie had a pediatrician appointment at which he received three vaccinations. The DTP shot proceeded to make his entire left thigh hard, red, hot and throbby. Also, rashes all over his neck and back. Plus, it took the doctor forever to return my frantic calls, so I was browsing the intertubes to find some info and yes, you guessed it, freaked me the F out. Stupid internet.

Later that same evening, we had a BBQ with the neighbors. Bowie walked up to the grill and touched like he has a zillion times, only this time? HOT HOT HOT DANGER DANGER and everything was in slow motion, I just could not get to him in time to prevent it. He got two very large blisters, and most of his fingers on that hand are burned. One of the blisters has popped and it looks NASTY. I think I have to call the doc again, ugh.

My mother-in-law is in town and borrowed our car to get to and from my sister-in-law’s house. Which would be fine if all the computer systems in all the Matrixes weren’t randomly shutting down rendering the car useless, and ours decided to do so when she needed the car. Thankfully she was not on the highway or anything, and I guess it’s also good it wasn’t me and kiddo going somewhere on our lonesome. That could have been scary.

Last night, Bowie didn’t sleep at all. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. He slept from 8 to 10pm, 11:30 to 12:30 and then maybe for an hour between 2 and 6am. I had been out with friends until 12am and was really looking forward to my date with my soft, comfy bed. Little did I know a tossing, turning, teething, burned finger, vax reaction, crabby toddler would be joining me. I’m running on about 2 hours of sleep today. As is my husband.

Also, my husband has been undergoing a barrage of medical tests and procedures in order to find the cause of the mysterious loss of his sense of smell. We have insurance, so we didn’t think it would be a big deal, but we got the bill for the CT scan yesterday and…holy Jesus. Guess I don’t get to see the Cubs when their in San Francisco this year. And that Wisconsin wedding in January? Sorry Jess, love you to death, but we’re drowning in medical bills. Even though we have insurance. Oh, but the system is just fine as is. Grrrrrrrr.

Anyway, hopefully you had a better week than me.

The Pill is Kicking my Butt

My best friend from high school started taking the pill when we were about 17, and she was like, “OMG you should totally go on it, it’s great!” And, I can’t even believe how shallow I was, but I didn’t want to go on it because…I didn’t want to get fat. Can you believe that? I just kept reading that you put on weight and in my 17 year old brain that was a Deal Breaker.

A few years later, when I started to, you know, get busy, I went on the pill, ready for a barrage of side effects, but didn’t have any. Well, except for two: my breasts doubled in size and my periods were shorter and lighter. I’m thinking, okay, I can handle that.

I stayed on the pill for 10 solid years, trouble free, until I decided that it was time to have a baby. I was off the pill for just 4 months before becoming pregnant. But in those 4 months, I had the 3 worst menstrual cycles of my life, and that’s including the super erratic, embarrassing messes in junior high. I had crazy heavy bleeding with tons of cramping. I immediately thought I have to go right back on the pill as soon as they will let me after I have this baby. It was clearly the only way to avoid these horrible bouts of menstruation.

Fast forward to about 3 months post partum, when I think it might be ok to get down and dirty again. (And yes, my husband is a saint, he actually did wait that long.) I was breastfeeding, so I was put on an estrogen-free “mini pill”. With this pill, nothing really changed (thankfully because seriously, who could deal with both that and a newborn? Perhaps Super Woman, but not yours truly). There were no breaks (aka placebo pills), so I still was not menstruating, and my hormones were relatively stable.

It was when I weaned the kiddo at 12 ½ months and went back on my same old pill that the trouble began. The hormone fluctuations of weaning the baby and the hormones in the new pill proved to be a roller coaster ride of a combination. The first month, I was so convinced I was pregnant, I took 3 home tests, and called the doctor and spoke with her for a half hour about my mysteriously negative results.

I had horrible headaches, I had horrible bloating, I had worse morning sickness than when I was actually pregnant, I was a bit fainty, I had terrible acne, I had crazy food cravings (I wanted dill pickles so badly one day, I went to the store and got them…and a pregnancy test) and was constantly hungry, and the fatigue. My god, the fatigue. Being on the pill after having and nursing a baby was turning out to be worse than pregnancy itself. Without any of the fringe benefits, like a big belly you’re supposed to have, a party where you get lots of cute baby clothes, and, oh yeah, a cute little baby.

But, that leaves me where I am today, 4 months after weaning (and still lactating—yippee!). The symptoms have subsided a bit, but not much, and it may just be that I’ve learned to live with them. I have an appointment soon to meet with my doctor about some alternative methods of birth control, because I’m ready to strangle whoever decided this was a good idea!

Well, no, not really, that’s the crazy hormone monster coming out again. Down, girl. Truthfully, the pill is a great invention. It basically jump-started the modern women’s movement. It is a true godsend for some women. But, the hormonal implications can be too much for your body, especially when it’s trying to bounce back from such traumatic events as pregnancy, birth, labor and delivery, breastfeeding and reintroduction of menstruating.

What have your experiences been like with the pill? What other methods have you tried successfully? Unsuccessfully?

Loss. And Gain.

My husband’s uncle passed away last Monday evening, suddenly and fairly young. And I’m not sure what was harder, grieving or watching him and his family grieve.

I boarded the plane to Chicago thinking, “All right, I just have to make it through a funeral with a 15 month old, that’s all. Then we’re back home.”

But, what I had forgotten was I have known my husband’s family nearly as long as I’ve known him, about 8 years now. And they’re a very tight-knit family. And they brought me in immediately, from day one. His uncle included.

So, when we arrived and attended the wake, it hit me like a ton of bricks. But, the kiddo was remarkably well-behaved. Almost as if he knew. And thank the Lord for that. It was so wonderful to have my family there. And now, more than ever, I know that they are my family.

How I Do

Today some friends and I were sitting around talking about a typical day in the life of a parent. One of them works outside the home, one works part time in the home and the other does not work. I work full time in the home, and I don’t have any help (i.e. nanny or babysitter) and all three of them said, “I have no idea how you do it.”

Quite frankly, I don’t either. I have 18 hour days, yeah, but it never feels like that. It mostly involves a lot of sitting in the playroom with my laptop, timing conference calls with naptime or dinnertime, letting the housework go sometimes (if it weren’t for guests, my floors would never be vacuumed) and just tapping into that never-ending mom energy to get done what needs to be done. And yet somehow I have time to blog, read a magazine, make a cup of tea, watch a TV show, paint my toenails, breathe.

Working at home with no help was, of course, a LOT easier when Bowie was 4 months and immobile. I could just lay him on his back under a playmat with some dangly toys and I’d be set for a few hours. Then I’d put him down for a nap and have a few more hours. Now that he’s walking and taking one 2 hour nap a day, it’s rough. I’ve had to get more creative with how I manage my time and fit in an 8 hour day’s worth of work.

If I were tied to a 9-5 schedule, there’s no way I could do it. I’d have to hire some help. Every day gets harder and harder but I still find ways to get by. I have no idea how I do it, but I do.

Where has he been all my life?

You’re never going to believe this, but up until about 12 hours ago, I was a complete David Sedaris virgin. Yes me, the creative writing degree holder. We’re all supposed to read him in college, right? Well for some reason, in my particular panorama of professors, his work never came up. I had heard him on This American Life and knew I liked his brand of humor, just never picked up a book. Over the years, I have heard all the fans raving, and finally broke down and just bought one of his books already.

Now, 40 pages into Me Talk Pretty One Day, I am Hooked. Capital H. How could I not have discovered this before? And unlike my other current favorite author Melissa Bank, I won’t run out of material after 2 books. Last night, reading in bed, I’m like, hey eyes, can’t you stay open for just one more story? Eyes: no we can’t, we’ve been open since 5:30 am and we need…to…close…now.

I guess I can’t call it an obsession yet, since it’s only the beginning, but definitely a budding obsession.